Tag Archives for " fiction "

Oct 08

All The Books I’ve Read…This Year, Part 1

By Melinda VanLone | Thoughts


Last week I waxed on about how much I love to read. But I figure those were just words, and actions speak far louder, so I started looking at what I’ve read so far this year and it makes me do a little happy dance to see all the covers next to each other. It tells a story of the adventures I’ve taken this year, and reminds me of the worlds I visited. I feel a sense of accomplishment, looking at them. To date, I’ve read 56 books and counting. That’s full books…books I actually finished. I never list the ones that I don’t finish or did not like. I also don’t list craft books…things I read to sharpen my saw for writing and story telling. This is just fiction (well, sometimes non-fiction humor type stuff, but mostly fiction).

I thought I’d show them a little at a time and tell you what I loved about them. In case you were looking for a good read, too.

I keep track of the books I’ve read on Goodreads, so you can follow me there to see what I’m reading anytime. Or read along with me. I love to chat about books, so if you want to discuss feel free to send me a message here, on Goodreads, or on Facebook. Or Twitter. I’m easy to find.

Trinkets, Treasures, and other Bloody Magic: I love this world. I love the main character, who owns a bakery where she makes cupcakes. I love the descriptions of the cupcakes and I wish like hell I could be in her shop! Beyond that, our main girl is learning about her particular magic, about her origins, and she’s learning to use it all to protect and save people. Plus, there’s dragons! I gobble these up as soon as a new one comes out. No pun intended.

Divergent: I read this because the movie was coming out and I wanted to read the book first. I have to admit, this is one where I liked the movie better, because to me the main character was a little too stiff (yes I know she’s supposed to be somewhat like an Amish person but who said Amish people don’t feel passion?). I just didn’t get into her, and in particular I didn’t agree with the way the world was set up. To me it just didn’t seem plausible. That said…I read it. I finished it. And I enjoyed the movie. I’ll watch the next movie too, because…Four! He’s mighty fine. And I want to see what happens. It turns out I like dystopian, and this scratched that itch.

A Dirty Job: A friend recommended this book to me and I found it delightful, fun, humorous and quirky along with some very cool world building. Death, with a baby? What’s not to like! This one reminded me of Neil Gaiman. It’s very well done.

Waking the Witch: I love me some Kelley Armstrong! Looking back I realize I need to revisit the whole series because I love the story, the characters, and the world. Urban fantasy is my go-to genre and this does not disappoint.

Dollhouse: I can’t remember why I picked this up. It’s an interesting story. Fascinating…like watching a fire. It’s young adult and I do get tired of that after awhile but it’s strange and creepy and fantastical and all things odd which kept me hooked.

The Metaphysical/Alchemical/Shamanic/Infernal Detective: Riga Hayworth is a detective for the supernatural. I love that combination, and I love how greek myth and tarot are folded into the story world. You’ll notice I read four of the series in a row…that’s because I enjoyed them so much! Each one is a detective novel but there’s also subplots that carry over..so much so that I couldn’t stand not knowing what happens next. These were fun, cozy reads. Hmm, I wonder if there’s more out now? *scampers off to check*

Inferno: I really like Dan Brown’s stories, but I find them very difficult to read. There’s so much history info-dump, and that’s not really my thing. So when I want a Dan Brown story, I listen to it on audio. I highly recommend this. His stories are rich and fascinating, and I’m afraid I’d miss half of it trying to skip the history dumps. I know, most of his fans probably love the history, but I’ve never been a fan. Which goes to show you don’t have to be to enjoy his stories. And this one in particular made my blood run cold. There’s no magic in his story worlds…it’s real. So very real. And I feel like this one in particular could actually happen! Or might have, already. Seriously, a virus let loose in the world, the sole purpose of which is to curb population growth. Creepy, spooky, and the possibilities made my head spin long after I finished the book, because the way the virus operates…let’s just say I have personal experience.  Can’t wait to see this as a movie. Plus, Tom Hanks!

Cress: I’ve raved about this series before. The Lunar Chronicles take fairy tales and spin them in a new, exciting way. The characters are there but rather than feeling surreal they feel…well, real. Like they could exist now. Of course, it’s also science fiction. It’s fairy tale science fiction! If you haven’t read the series, I can’t recommend it enough. Good read, good fun, good for teens and adults. My only regret is the freaking long wait for the next one. Sometimes I want to take traditional publishing and punch it in the face, for making me wait so long. Grrrr.

Odd Hours: The Odd Thomas series is another one I typically listen to on audio. I don’t know why, I just find it so enjoyable while I’m walking that I always opt for audio. I love the series. Odd Thomas is fascinating, and a modern day understated hero. He can see dead people. Sorta like Sixth Sense, except he’s an adult. He helps them cross over when he can, solves their murders when he can, or in other ways generally tries to make whatever is going wrong, go right. This particular book finds Odd in the company of a mysterious woman who seems a bit like the Virgin Mary, sorta, and embroiled in a Tesla time machine. Fun stuff. Mostly I just love the voice. Odd’s sense of humor is omnipresent, especially on audio. Love the turns of phrases, the lyrical writing. Love love love.

Hanna, Hanna, One-and-Two: This story haunted me long after I finished it. Fascinating world. The idea that one particular person can reset the world…give us a do-over. I love that concept and found this engrossing and thought provoking.

So that’s all for today. I don’t want to overload you! There’s plenty more to recommend in the coming weeks.


Feb 05

New Cover for a New Year!

By Melinda VanLone | Thoughts

I know, this sort of announcement usually happens in January. But I thought that with all the other announcements and resolutions and things of that nature that my little news would be lost in the interwebs, so I waited for February. Now everyone is stuck inside from too much snow and ice and they have nothing else to do but curl up with a good book, right?


And it just so happens I have one right here. Stronger Than Magic launched a year ago. To celebrate the birth of my first book, as well as announce the rest of the series, I’ve given her a shiny new cover and updated the story, adding two new chapters! Stronger Than Magic is stronger than ever, and available now on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. There’s a handy widget right on this page that you can click that will take you to the Amazon page. But mostly I just wanted you to see her new clothes! So without further delay, the new look for Stronger Than Magic and for the entire Xannon series.



Take a look at the symbol…a very talented artist drew that especially for me! Her name is Carrie Osborne, and she lives in the UK. Right now she’s working on the next symbol for the series, which will feature on Promise of Magic (out in April). I can’t wait for you to see it, and the whole series. There’ll be five symbols when it’s all said and done. This particular symbol represents Water , a symbol of power created by the Water Ancients, otherwise known in our world as dolphins. This is the Dolphin Medallion, something Tarian struggles to protect in Stronger Than Magic, and something which will aid her in future battles as well.

In other news, the next in the Xannon  series, working title Macari, will launch in late February/early March. It’s a novella, and takes a look at things happening behind the scenes that affect Tarian and her struggle to find her own feet in an ever changing landscape. Big things are happening, monumental changes are coming for everyone, magical and non magical alike. Macari will play a vital part in those changes, and it’s time to tell her story. In the coming weeks I’ll reveal the cover, and a few excerpts, just to tempt you.

In the meantime, if you’ve already purchased the Kindle version of Stronger Than Magic, it should update automatically. Check it out!

Nov 04

NaNo is here!

By Melinda VanLone | Imagination , Photos , Thoughts



Yes, it’s that time of year again. Leaves are falling, the air is chilling, my fingers are cramping. I’m writing more words. Lots and lots of words. New words never seen before. Well, in precisely this order anyway. I’ve been revising so much the last few months that writing new words feels strange and wonderful. I have about 8,000 words so far towards a novella code-named Calliope. Yes, it’s a story from Calliope’s point of view. She’s on a quest to get to know someone who will be very important in the stories to come. Someone Ancient. Fiery, even. For those in the know, I hope that’s something for you to look forward to.

If you don’t know who Calliope is, I direct you to Stronger Than Magic, the first book in the Xannon series.

I hope you will enjoy this peak into Tarian’s world through someone else’s eyes. My goal is to continue giving these glimpses in between the main novels, so that the complete picture of the world of Xannon is painted and so the people important to Tarian get a bit of the spotlight.

I’ll have an update for you next Monday. In the meantime, carry on.



Jun 26

Summer Book Crush – SALE!

By Melinda VanLone | Thoughts

Hot sun, hot sand, cool drinks, dark tans. Ahhhh. But your summer won’t be complete until you land a new BOOK BOYFRIEND, right? I mean, you have to have something to do while you’re lying around on the beach or by the pool. Lucky for you, I’ve got you covered!

 Announcing the Summer Book Crush!


 (click the banner, or any of the links on this page, to get to the special website where the boys are waiting just for you)

SUMMER BOOK CRUSH offers 50+ titles in a variety of genres. FIFTY! This means 50+ chances to (fictitiously) fall in love. And the best part? Each of these gems is only 99¢! (For a limited time only.) You won’t find a hotter group of reads on the internet, especially at this fantastic price.

The SUMMER BOOK CRUSH event starts on June 26th and ends (yes, even the best things in life end at some point) on June 28th. So don’t wait! Mingle with our BOOK BOYFRIENDS and invite all your friends to participate too. Spread the word…this is a lot of fun reading at an awesome price and it won’t last long. Grab ’em while it’s hot outside — there are plenty of BOOK BOYS  to share!

And the best part? Stronger Than Magic is on sale too! (You can get it just by clicking the “buy me” image in the sidebar on this site). Now everyone can fall in love with Daric and Alex. I mean, seriously, who wouldn’t? They’re very lovable.


Find your summer fling between the pages of a book. And don’t stop at just one – after all, there’s a host of men for you to mingle with. Why limit yourself?



Sep 07

Book Review: Shrilugh

By Melinda VanLone | Book Review

by Myndi Shafer

There stands a door in ancient trees;
Not for weakened hands to reach.
Yet some have passed in earlier days,
When darkness reigned in evil ways.

Abominations; Ancientborn;
Those aged stories, all forlorn
Will be retold with different names –
But stories, themes, remain the same.

Revenge’s sister Justice, sweet,
Stands tall in her own courtroom, keeps
A list of those who hold her dear,
And those who falsely call to her

While her dark sister whispers
Evil nothings in their ears.

(poem reprinted with permission by the author, Myndi Shafer)


Shrilugh (Shree-Loo) is the young adult romantic fantasy and debut novel by very talented author Myndi Shafer. At first I wanted to say if you love Twilight, you’ll love this. The problem is, this is so much better written! No offense to Stephanie Meyer (seriously, I did read all the Twilight series so I can hardly say they were horrible), but I enjoyed this story a lot more because it is beautifully told and well written, and the teen angst made sense to me where it didn’t in Twilight. Very real problems are happening in Shrilugh that would cause anyone, young adult or not, to be in complete turmoil.

This story was one emotional ride. I cheered, I cringed, I fretted, I stayed up way too late at night, I laughed, I cried, and my heart ached. If you love pure romance, and love experiencing the emotional stakes of others, you’ll like this story.

The protagonist, Ayden, has just graduated high school. As a “gift”, her sister tells her that she’s not really related at all and that she was found abandoned as a baby. The revelation is startling, to say the least, plus what comes after is horrifying. Her “father” and “sister” are truly horrible people who have made her life a living hell. She’s been looking forward to getting away from them, but now she’s not just getting away, she’s running for her life. Her father wants to kill her. Her boyfriend wants to save her. And a stranger has shown up to tell her she’s actually from another world entirely. She’s running from childhood, from her past, from her family, with very little to run towards except for the vague promise of a family she’s never known and another world she can hardly believe is real.

I’d angst too.

First Line:

To me, there are two first lines for this story, because there’s a prologue. While I usually don’t think prologues are necessary, in this case I think it works just fine. Assuming you read the prologue, the first line is:

The Stranger ran, drawing in deep, even breaths as each foot pounded the ground in turn. Every leaf of every tree around him glowed with a warm, easy light, blocking out the dark night that hovered over the canopy of that thick forest.

He was looking for something – something he’d seen, something he’d used once before: a Door. He knew he was nearing it; the memory of this forest was permanently ingrained in his brain. Following the Soverign’s orders. Dragging a woman, guilty in the most innocent of ways, along with him.

I have to say this was one hell of a hook for me. All kinds of intriguing things happening here. A Stranger with a capital S, running through a forest of trees that glow, looking for a Door with a capital D. A mention of him dragging a woman “guilty in the most innocent of ways.” Innocently guilty? How is that possible? What happened, where was he dragging her to and why, and where the heck is he? Oh read on, read on!

After the prologue, the real story starts. The first lines:

Aydan Fulbert stood in line, tapping her toe impatiently. She was hot, sweating under the shapeless gown whose only redeeming value was the fact that it made her jewel-green eyes look even greener. 

She looked at the students standing in line in front of her. Stockings and heels, hems and polished shoes showed under their gowns. She shifted nervously, suddenly anxious about the choice of clothes she wore hidden under the heat-trapping shroud she and her classmates were being forced to wear.

It’s a day in the life sort of beginning, but a day that most people remember vividly. Graduation Day. The day life changes. The day you leave being childhood and contemplate adulthood. I remember that stupid cloak they made us wear, the heat it generated… how I worried about what I wore underneath. (A dress, when I wasn’t used to wearing one). How nervous we all were, about everything. All of it captured in these few lines. I’m there with Aydan immediately. And I’m curious how her simple beginning of attending graduation will mesh with the Stranger of the prologue.

In short, I was double-hooked, big time.

I loved the idea of shrilugh, which it turns out is a tree that glows at night. Can you imagine not needing electric lights, because trees provide all the light you need? How cool would that be? I pictured them looking much like the plants in Avatar. Breathtakingly beautiful.

I didn’t like the society Ayden finds herself in on the other side, and I’m really hoping she finds a way to change it. The world building is so well done, and the story so well told, that I literally hated some of the people I met in the strange new world and marveled at how anyone could treat people the way they do without thinking twice. I’m expecting revolution at some point. At least, I hope there is one.

I really didn’t like how the story ended, because it didn’t. End, that is. The story simply stops. According to a note at the end of the story, the next installment in this series is due in October, and there’s a tease of the next book to keep you company while you wait. I hope it comes out soon, because I can hardly wait to find out what happens next!

If you’re a fan of fantasy romance, put this one on your To-Be-Read list. And then read it. You’ll be glad you did.

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