Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Romancing Dr. Love by Rebecca Heflin – Book Review

Book: Romancing Dr. Love
(Book 1 in the Sterling University series)
Author: Rebecca Heflin
Publisher: Rebecca Heflin Books, LLC
ISBN: 9780997181203

"What, or should I say who, Dr. Love, has made you so cynical when it comes to matters of the heart?"

Romancing Dr. Love by Rebecca Heflin is the first novella in the Sterling University series. As with most Heflin books, Romancing Dr. Love is a standalone.
Samantha 'Sam' Love is a psychology professor at Sterling University. From the beginning of the book, we meet the university 'hottie', literature professor Ethan Quinn and learn that he has liked Sam from a distance for some time.

As the daughter of renowned sex therapists, Sam seeks to get out of their shadow, while at the same time preserve her reputation, as men have followed her all her life, thinking that because of her parents' work, she is good in the bedroom. In truth, Sam has never looked at sex as something to be enjoyed. She has also been recently dumped by her ex who had called her 'frigid'.

“Have dinner with me this weekend.” Well, that just popped out.
Her eyes flew open as she shot him a confused look. “What? Why?”
“Why? Why does a man ask a woman out? I like you.”

At Sterling University, Sam is working on a patent that would enable couples to find their matches through science rather than love. Sam is looking to get her work patented through the university to prove to herself.

Sam is quite a flawed character and I like how Helfin drew her, made the reader connect with her and sympathise with her.

I liked the theme of family and relationships in Romancing Dr. Love. Because of her parents' work, Sam has never had roots anywhere, and is accordingly planning to just stay for some time in Sterling for work then move on to advance her career. When she goes to Ethan's home and sees the family photos, she can't help but feel a pang of jealousy that she didn't have that with her parents.

There are other characters in the book such as creative writing professor Delaney Driscoll, whom Heflin is focusing on in the third book in the series.

Heflin often creates perfect men and Ethan tops the list. It's easy to fall in love with him and Sam realises that Ethan's presence is making experience new feelings but also threatening her research; especially, when he signs up as a subject in her study.

Something about his kisses switched off all higher-functioning parts of her brain, leaving only her reptilian instinct in control—a little like leaving a teenager at home without adult supervision. For an entire weekend. With a cabinet full of liquor.

I liked Sam's character development. It was slow, jittery; even Sam was feeling it. However, there wasn't much for Ethan. Felt he was too perfect. I think he'd put Austen's Mr. Darcy to shame.

The imagery, dialogue, description, and overall word choice throughout Romancing Dr. Love were beautifully written. There were sections I wish I could quote whole.

I like how Heflin included scientific bits in the novel. I was worried it wouldn't hold out till the end. Then I realised the problem wasn't with the theory but with Sam herself, whose thinking was a bit flawed because she had never experienced love and therefore doesn't believe in it. Also because of her flawed thinking, Sam believes that Ethan's parents' marriage failed because it was built on respect.

“You’ve taken love, with all its mystery and beauty, and reduced it to something as romantic as a cholesterol test.”

Heflin often also builds stories around writers, or in this case, in this case a psychology and literature professor and the world of academia, where Heflin herself has experience. 

Overall, Romancing Dr. Love is a beautiful and exciting romantic novella. Easily read in a day or two tops. I highly recommend it.

Generally, kissing for her held the same level of interest as vanilla ice cream—she could take it or leave it. But kissing Ethan was like indulging in cookies ’n cream ice cream with extra chocolate sauce on top. And white chocolate sprinkles. Decadent. Sinful.

Overall rating: 5 stars

Note: I received a free copy of Romancing Dr. Love in exchange for an honest review.
Note II: The book contains a couple bedroom scenes.

Check out Nadaness In Motion's other book reviews for Heflin's books:

About the Author:

Rebecca Heflin is an award-winning author who has dreamed of writing romantic fiction since she was fifteen and her older sister snuck a copy of Kathleen Woodiwiss' Shanna to her and told her to read it. Rebecca writes women's fiction and contemporary romance. When not passionately pursuing her dream, Rebecca is busy with her day-job as a practicing attorney.
Rebecca is a member of Romance Writers of America (RWA), Florida Romance Writers, RWA Contemporary Romance, and Florida Writers Association. She and her mountain-climbing husband live at sea level in sunny Florida.

Connect with Rebecca Heflin via her Website, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Goodreads.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Nail Your Novel Instant Fix – Book Review

Nail Your Novel Instant Fix: 100 Tips for Fascinating Characters by Roz Morris is a short book of bite-sized general writing tips for a variety of genres.

I pretty much bookmarked every page, because each one had valuable information.

Seasoned authors, if there is such a thing, might feel that the book is pretty basic or for novice writers, but for me, I think every book that handles writing help is a valuable addition.

One of the things I liked about the book was Roz's interactive, down to earth writing style. I felt like she was sitting there with me giving me bits and pieces of writing help.

"Use background detail with care. Too little and the characters float in a void. Too much, and the reader doesn't know what to look at."

Nail Your Novel Instant Fix: 100 Tips for Fascinating Characters can be used and reused as a checklist before starting a book, novella or piece or after finishing the first or second draft. It acts as a reminder to the author of what they might need to add or edit in their story.

"Characters don't have to be likeable. But they must make us curious."

Now for the above quote, I've been making up mental notes as I read books. Likeable is one thing, but in some books I've read, the main character – at least – was irritating, boring and/or annoying. With that in mind, I could not like the book. Twice I didn't finish the book, and a few other times I gave negative reviews because of that. It's an idea worth remembering but authors must take care of.

I'd love to pick up the full-length books under the Nail Your Novel titles in the future.

"Dystopias aren't about worlds. They're about characters under special pressure." – This was news for me, simply because I often focused on worlds in dystopian novels, which I don't consider reading often.

I also liked the parts on "Show Don't Tell" and "Make Your Fictional People Individuals".

"Give your antagonists good characteristics too. A fatal flow is usually a strength misused."

Overall, I'd give the brief Nail Your Novel Instant Fix: 100 Tips for Fascinating Characters five stars. It added information to me, it helped me and it's definitely a book I can recheck over and over. Definitely worth reading.

Note: I read Nail Your Novel Instant Fix: 100 Tips for Fascinating Characters, the short introductory book. There are three other books with Nail Your Novel in the title, each tackles an aspect of writing in more detail. 
I downloaded it the bite-sized version which is currently free via Amazon.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Takhayyal writing prompt 68: Dragon Awakens!

Welcome back Ladies and Gentlemen, Artists, Poets, Writers, Authors, Dreamers, Friends and Family; Welcome EVERYONE to Nadaness In Motion's bi-weekly picture-prompt writing challenge Takhayyal.

Let's cut to the chase shall we?

Bring your pen and paper (or a new word document) and let's get writing!

Image found on Pinterest. Photo credit: Kate Pfeilschefter (as far as I can see)

Arabic for Imagine, Takhayyal is a challenge for writers of all ages and genres; a place to spark creativity and explore new genres.
Your post can be in English or Arabic, prose, poetry, short story, flash fiction; you name it and write it.

General rules:
·        No nudity, violence, and/or abuse.
·        Leave the link to your post in comments below OR post your piece as REPLY to this post
·        Your piece MUST be inspired in some way or other by the above picture
·        Multiple entries allowed
·        It is not required but it is a nice and encouraging gesture to comment on others' pieces.
·        Feel free to add your Twitter handle (@....) so I can tag you in my tweets!


Friday, August 4, 2017

Awaken! Muse - Poem

Today, I'm sharing a new poem I wrote, where I call on my Muse to wake up and inspire me. The first image is of the original poem (nothing crossed out, lucky me!), and in case you can't read cursive, I'm including the typed version below it.
(Not my best handwriting, since this was an on-the-spot thing)

Awaken! Muse

The red sun sinks
In the mighty sea
Some say
Blood has been spilt,
Some say
Romance shall be born,
But I say:
Awaken Muse of the Night
And let my pen write!

Feel free to check/like the image on my Instagram account, where it first appeared. Follow me there for book reviews, travel pictures, writing, and more.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Nadaness In Motion's July Camp NaNoWriMo Writing Report

In July, I joined Camp NaNoWriMo in order to get some ‘real’ writing done.

The Camp NaNoWriMo is a month-long challenge that is meant to help writers work on their manuscripts and drafts without the pressure of the 1,667 words per day requirement meant for November, when the original NaNoWriMo is in progress.

NaNoWriMo, which stands for National Novel Writing Month, is when writers “try” to leave the world behind to focus on their books for a whole month. November’s NaNoWriMo attempts to get writers/authors to write 50,000 words in a month. Not an easy feat.

The July Camp NaNoWriMo did not have a specific word count target but allowed authors to set their own targets and to increase or reduce that number based on their progress.

I had originally planned 16,000 words for Darya’s story, an average of 500 words per day plus 500 bonus for the end of the month.

Trying out the Camp thing allowed me to learn a few things about myself and writing habits, or rather what I can do and what I can’t.

For Darya’s story, I was able to write around 4,000 words. I was disappointed. BUT I realised 4,000 was better than nothing. I had also realised that I couldn’t write during week days, which trimmed the number of days I can actually write on. Add in some errands, travelling times and other bits, 4,000 words is progress that is neither good nor bad. It’s a start.

Also in July:

·        Wrote SEVEN poems! I haven’t done that in a while!
·        Wrote 4 book reviews. (Not a major achievement but I wanted to add it in)
·        Wrote 2,050 words in a new short story (Untitled, hoping to finish it in August)
·        Wrote around 720 words in a sci-fi story (Also untitled & planning to finish it in the first week of August)
·        Wrote 244 words as general prose (Divided on two pieces)
·        Wrote 673 words for a flash fiction piece (can’t remember the title but will check my notes)

Overall: I wrote around 7,720 words in July.
But the bottom line is: I wrote!

So what are my plans for August?

New word count target but this time I’ll take into consideration the fact that weekdays are hard to include. How many? I’m thinking 10,000 words, then I’ll decide if I need to raise this target.
I’ll keep the flash fiction and poetry word counts outside this limit though and see how things turnout.
I never know if I’ll write poetry or not, so I’ll leave this to chance and whenever inspiration hits.

Note: I also want to thank author Devorah Fox for encouraging me to take part in the July camp.

If you’ve participated in Camp NaNoWriMo for July, please share your word count and progress. If you have suggestions and/or help tips, please feel free to share.

Friday, July 28, 2017

Takhayyal writing prompt 67: Queen

Welcome back Ladies and Gentlemen, Artists, Poets, Writers, Authors, Dreamers, Friends and Family; Welcome EVERYONE to Nadaness In Motion's bi-weekly picture-prompt writing challenge Takhayyal.

It's Friday?! *gapes*
Seems I went a little over this week when I thought I had the newest Takhayyal writing prompt scheduled. Oops!

Have no fear!

The newest prompt is one I came across via Pinterest. Magical or realistic? 
What is she doing? Who is she speaking to? 
You decide. Can't wait to read the piece(s) you come up with based on this new image.

Photo credit: Unknown. Image found via Pinterest

Arabic for Imagine, Takhayyal is a challenge for writers of all ages and genres; a place to spark creativity and explore new genres.
Your post can be in English or Arabic, prose, poetry, short story, flash fiction; you name it and write it.

General rules:
·        No nudity, violence, and/or abuse.
·        Leave the link to your post in comments below OR post your piece as REPLY to this post
·        Your piece MUST be inspired in some way or other by the above picture
·        Multiple entries allowed
·        It is not required but it is a nice and encouraging gesture to comment on others' pieces.
·        Feel free to add your Twitter handle (@....) so I can tag you in my tweets!


Sunday, July 23, 2017

The Steps by Iveta Redliha – Book Review

Book Name: The Steps
Author: Iveta Redliha
(Available in Latvian and English)

"The empty window frames like dark forest lakes conveyed chilling secrets. It seemed as if the massive wooden doors were nailed shut in order to keep them from spilling too much information."

The Steps by Latvian author Iveta Redliha is a gripping but heartbreaking story centered around people who lived or were connected to a property called The Bradbury.

Leonora, a fresh-out-of-school greedy graduate who is secretly hired to become a surrogate mother. She views the opportunity as easy money, and posh living and lies her way through to get the job. She thinks she will have the time of her life partying, but soon realises that her dreams will not come true as the family she's being a surrogate for insist that she live on their premises, the Bradbury, for the duration of the pregnancy and under their rules and supervision.

Kurt and Nelly are a married couple who have been unable to conceive. They hire Leonora through a surrogacy programme to carry their baby. The moment the three of them arrive at the Bradbury, the reader meets Greta, their maid and helper, whom Leonora immediately despises and mistreats.

Meanwhile, Reyna receives a phone call, telling her that her mother has died. The investigation soon dries up after it is discovered that her mother died of a heart attack and not murdered. However, things don't add up to Reyna. Her mother had left their shared tea shop without closing down and had been meeting with an unknown man.

When Reyna receives the will, she discovers that her mother had been keeping secrets, including recently purchasing the Bradbury mansion. When she visits the run-down house, she encounters Lucas, a secretive but handsome man, who entices her from the first moment.

"Shivers ran down Reyna's spine. For a moment, she thought his last words were meant as a threat. The stranger's look had been so sharp and penetrating, horrifying and exciting at the same time."

Lucas, on the other hand, appears to despise Reyna, even though he has never met her before. However, bit by bit, he too begins to develop feelings for her. Lucas is a little reminiscent of Heathcliff from Emily Bronte's Wuthering Heights, except that The Steps is a much better and more exciting book.

The Steps is gripping from the start. Its pace is fast, especially as the author jumps between scenes and characters without being all over the place.

I felt that Reyna was too gullible and very trusting, particularly of strangers. She was also a bit slow, and while I realise that the purpose of her slowness is to confirm the reader's suspicions or unveil new information for the reader, I still felt she could have been a little smarter, especially since she's not a child.

I like that there are no superfluous characters in The Steps. Each character has a role to play, including the quirky, helpful and ever-giggling Lucy. Sometimes the reader wonders if she's crazy, but she is definitely the main source of comic relief in the novel.

Another character in the novel is Greta, the Bradbury's maidservant. What I liked about her is that she has her moments. In addition to always keeping tabs on Leonora, she sometimes even makes Leonora think and wake up from her attempts at seducing Kurt.

Lucas strikes the reader as a calculating character from the start. I like how Iveta Redliha give the reader bits from Lucas' thoughts, making excellent opportunity for suspense, especially since he does not mean Reyna well and the reader has no idea why he feel such animosity to someone Lucas has never met.

I liked how Iveta Redliha kept me guessing, connecting the dots, then guessing all over again.

The Steps handles a variety of themes like family, marital relationships, greed and growing up. I like how the author made the characters progress differently. Not all of them move forward, but all the main ones had some sort of character development, particularly Leonora.

One of the few things that bothered me about The Steps was the speech. There was no use of quotation marks. Instead every line begun with a dash, and there were intermittent dashes in between, making it hard to follow on who is speaking and what is part of the characters' thoughts.

Some chapters were rather long, particularly at the beginning. I don't like stopping mid-chapter.

I liked the use of imagery, both metaphors and similes throughout the novel. The description of the setting is quite picturesque and nicely done as well.

"Once their eyes locked, they couldn't look away, the gaze of their blue and grey waters merging into one whirlpool."

The Steps is full of irony, role reversals and all the literary elements a reader can dream of. Simply brilliant.

I couldn't put the The Steps down, and when I wasn't reading, I kept thinking of the characters. When I finished reading, I couldn't stop thinking about them.

"A quiet noise, like a moan or a sigh broke the silence thus startling the visitors. Lucas took it as a sign that the old building was weeping with him. If only he were alone and could let loose his suppressed grief about the house, once a beautiful home, turned into an abandoned shack, just like his soul, like his whole life…"

I liked how Iveta Redliha tied up all the loose ends at the end and I was glad I was able to correctly guess many if not all of them.

Overall, The Steps is a suspenseful, heart-breaking, gripping dark tale of a house and its inhabitants. A 10-star must-read.

Purchase The Steps by Iveta Redliha via Amazon

About the Author:

Iveta Redliha is a 39-year-old author from Latvia. She is a married mother of three wonderful children.
We have two pets, chocolate Lab named Horton and Birman cat named Smurfette. As you can see we like animated movies. :-)

I have degree in Psychology, and two professional diplomas in Stress Management Coaching and Consultancy, and Neuro Psychological Immunology. I am looking forward to work in my sphere one day.

Writing is my true passion! I have been writing since I was 8 years old, and besides prose, I love to write poetry, too.
I write fiction in the thriller/suspense/crime and mystery genres.

The Steps is my first book, not just the first translated in English, but my actual first book. It was published in Latvian in October 2013 in my country and you can still buy Soļi (The Steps) in book stores.
When I was 17, I found the poem “The Steps” by Paul Valery in my school library. The poem touched my soul so deeply, so I wrote it out on the small piece of paper. As time passed, I read the poem again and again, and knew that it has and will have some impact in my life.
When I was writing my book, I knew that the poem “The Steps” will be one of the most important things in it, and will play the major role at some point. So, when I came to choosing the title for my book, there were no doubts for me about that – The Steps was the only choice of my soul.

As for my inspiration, surprisingly for myself, mostly I find my inspiration in music, and particularly in some songs. For example, when I wrote the chapters with Lucas in them, I listened K.D Lang’s version of song “Hallelujah”, and Latvian band’s Instrumenti song “Pieturi mani sev klāt” (Hold me tight). When I wrote my new book, I mostly listened kora musicians and singers Toumani Diabaté and Sona Jobarteh (Western Africa).    

One month ago I finished my second book, and now working on it with publishers in Latvia. It is thriller/suspense as well.

Follow Iveta Redliha on Facebook.