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review 2017-03-19 19:13
The Scribe's Daughter by Stephanie Churchill
The Scribe's Daughter - Stephanie. Churchill

Being an indie author myself, I enjoy reading novels by other brave souls who decide to self-publish. It's tough to be responsible for a book from cover to cover, and I tend to be more forgiving when reviewing an indie novel because I sympathize with the challenges faced. This is the attitude I held when I picked up The Scribe's Daughter, but this novel demands that it be held to a higher standard.

 

Nothing about this book made me think, "It's good for an indie novel." This book is just a joy to read and can hold it's own against any competition, traditional or self-published. It is beautifully written, edited, and formatted with an intriguing storyline and captivating characters.

 

Stephanie Churchill has vividly created a world that will feel familiar to those who enjoy medieval historical fiction. As the protagonist, Kassia, experiences adventures that take her on the full range of fortune's wheel, each setting is beautifully described. I had a clear vision of mountain vistas, sparkling lakes, bustling cities, and thick forests, and felt as though I was there at Kassia's side.

 

Each character that shares Kassia's trials is given a unique and complex personality, but none more so than Kassia herself. Since the novel is told from a first person point of view, the reader is inside Kassia's head. We get to laugh out loud at her snarky sarcasm while we are sharing her inner pain and doubt. This strong, courageous young woman goes through more to get to her happily ever after than anyone in the story, besides the reader, is privy to.

 

This novel has action, romance, betrayal, secrets, and more, sure to please any reader of historical fiction or epic fantasy adventure. I grew close to the characters during my time with them and look forward to seeing them again in future installments to the series.

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review 2017-03-12 19:33
Historical uncertainties leave room for fictional invention
The Scribe of Siena - Melodie Winawer

The fun thing about historical fiction is that ambiguity and uncertainty inherent in certain time periods leave a lot of room for play. That leads to stories like The Scribe of Siena, about a neurosurgeon in New York who travels to Siena, Italy to continue her recently deceased brother's research. From there, she winds up on the trail of a possible conspiracy leading to the fall of the city, assuming she can survive long enough to share what she has learned.

 

I want to say upfront that the half star was docked from this book's score solely because of the length of some of the chapters. One was 43 pages and I am not a fan of chapters exceeding 15 pages in length. As you can likely see by the number of books I have going at any one point in time, I've got a bit of reading ADD.

 

That said, this book has FAR more strengths than weaknesses. Chief among them is Winawer's attention to detail, which feeds into and strengthens the narrative of the story. The world she creates in mid-14th Century Siena is rich and deeply imagined, coming to vivid life in my mind as I read. I don't remember the last book that was this effortless for me to imagine how things looked, felt, and smelled. As an example, I had never seen pictures of the Ospedale before, yet the other day I googled it out of curiosity and it was identical to what I had pictured as I read the book, down to the set-up of the other buildings and streets around it.

 

That takes a special level of skill and Melodie Winawer has got it.

 

Beatrice, our main character on this historical romantic adventure, was another relatively strong point. While she maybe could have been a little more flawed, it wasn't particularly necessary in this case due to the inherent flaws that came with a 21st Century woman being transported to 1347 and required to figure out how to function in a new, but old, society.

 

Overall, I very highly recommend this book and actually intend to buy a hard copy myself. I may even spring for a hard cover, and I save those for special cases.

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review 2017-01-18 07:06
The Writer's Process more validation than revelation

 

I came to this book, The Writer's Process, Getting Your Brain in Gear, with extreme

prejudice. I find it hard to believe creativity can be taught. After reading Anne Janzer's book I still feel that way, but she's made me believe that creativity can be nurtured and maybe even enhanced.

 

Janzer's approach is scientific and it's backed by experts in the field of psychology and cognitive study. But understanding the mental process doesn't tell us how to activate it. What the author sets about to do is "label groups of mental processes that we can activate when needed."

 

The book is divided into three parts.

 

The first part, The Inner Gears, describes how the brain works using the term Scribe for areas of focus, discipline and writing craft. Processes like intuition, creativity and empathy are the domain of The Muse.

 

The second part, The Process, Start to Finish, sets forth and elaborates on the seven steps of the writing process beginning with research and ending with publication. The chapter on Revision in itself is worth the price of the book.

 

Part three, Writers in the World, has some practical advice on how to address problems all writers face including finding time to write, dealing with criticism, and working through writer's block.

 

If you're a creative person, specifically a writer, you're likely incorporating many of the suggestions Janzer puts forth in The Writer's Process. If that's the case this book will not be so much revelation as a validation.

 

And what's wrong with that?

 

 

 

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text 2017-01-05 17:56
A peaceful ending to a disturbing story.
The Scribe: A Novel - Matthew Guinn

"'I read somewhere once that we don't see the stars,' Canby said.  'Not really.  They are out every night and we look right past them, take the sight for granted.  That if the stars came out just once in a thousand years, we would call it a miracle and record it for all time.  That we'd declare it was the city of God revealed to us.  I think there a lot of truth to that.  Do you?' 

Underwood looked up at the pinpricks of light in the velvety darkness.  'I think there is,' he said.

Canby leaned his head back, trying not to group the stars into constellations, trying not to think of them in any order imposed by man.  'Look up then, and see them.'"

 

 

Finally can do something in BL.  First time all week.  Hey everyone!  Good to see you.

 

 

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review 2016-12-14 00:00
The Scribe: Irin Chronicles Book One
The Scribe: Irin Chronicles Book One - Elizabeth Hunter This read like it was the middle of a series not a first book, and I felt like I was missing something in the story until I was about 2/3 of the way through. Still this story of a woman who can genuinely hear voices and a semi-immortal mostly set in Istanbul was interesting. The relationship needed more buildup, and I didn't really feel like the different male characters were different.
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