Welcome to the holiday edition of where I live, Nevada City, CA. Here are shots from a day I went with the family to Victorian Christmas. I don’t usually go during the day event, but this time we did. It did get dark before we left so I could enjoy the lights. Happy Holidays from our town to yours!
Here are three shots from the top of Broad Street. The vendors are in the middle of the closed road. See the mountain in the background? That’s where I live.
Yes, we did go see Santa. Usually, Santa sends out his helpers, but this year he was there in person. Thanks for the visit, Santa. Unfortunately in exchange for that knowledge, I can’t share the pictures of him.
Next to a local book store and the Chamber of Commerce are the restrooms. Pretty fancy area.
The Christmas Tree woman is here every year with the solider. Father Christmas made an appearence. The next picture with the bright pink tree is from one of my favorite store windows.
If you have ever seen the movie “A Christmas Card” that is the church used in the Hallmark movie. Of course, that’s City Hall and then what used to be a really cool house now turned really cool inn.
This picture is from two years ago. It’s the National Hotel’s balcony and my favorite view of town. Right now its closed for renovation so no shot this year. The sign is from a Victorian Christmas past.
Wishing you the happiest of holidays with you and yours. Embrace your holiday child, D. L. Finn
I’m pleased to welcome author, Teagan Riordain Geneviene here today for her new release, “Thistledown Midsummer Bedlam.” I already downloaded my copy:)
Thistledown — Midsummer Bedlam is ready to fly you to a world of whimsy
Thistledown — Midsummer Bedlam by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene is now available in book form (Kindle and paperback). If you think you’re too old for a tale about faeries, it also has a dark side. For those who read the serial version at Teagan’s Books (blog), she added a little something to the ending that you haven’t seen.
Here’s Teagan to tell you a little about the story.
Denise, thanks so much for hosting the launch of my launch of Thistledown — Midsummer Bedlam. It is a tale of faeries written for whimsical grownups, but suitable for children ages 8 and up.
In 2016, readers of my blog,Teagan’s Books, named many of the fairies (or faeries, as I prefer to call them). The characters are not based on the real people. They are just a way for me to honor the people who followed Thistledown. Many people used a “fairy name key” based on their initial and month of birth.
When I announced the book version, I brought the name charts out for new readers, and you obligingly named a faery. If there is a sequel, she would have a fun part. So, I want to introduce Flora Rainbow to your readers.
Flora Rainbow wears a crystal “point” earrings. The crystals have a rainbow colored aura. Whenever Flora sneezes, her faery magic produces a cascading pile of various flowers that pile up as tall as she is. Flora is trying to figure out how to turn that problem into a benefit. Now if she can just learn to sneeze on cue…
Here’s the Book Blurb
Thistledown ― Midsummer Bedlam, by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene is a wildly whimsical tale of faeries. It was originally written for a grownup audience, but it is suitable for children ages eight and over.
Thistledown is a world of color and light. It has faeries, hummingbirds, and ancient books of magic. Bedlam Thunder is a misfit faery who is afraid of heights. She is also a seer who has terrible visions of a parallel world devoid of color and brightness. The hate and darkness of that colorless world is seeping into Thistledown. Will Bedlam and her friends be able to save their home?
Thistledown ― Midsummer Bedlam, with its radiant creatures and faeries will lift your imagination to new heights.
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Happy almost winter solace! I know I’m a few days early, but with it being so close to Christmas I will be busy with family and preparations. Know how hard it is to pick from all the books I read. This year I came in at 75 books read on the Goodreads Challenge. There are a few I read that didn’t get included in that number. Each book has its own flavor that tugged at my heart, opened my eyes, or just entertained me. These types of books always leave that lasting impression and why I do this four times a year as the seasons change, I change reading these books. Here are my winter choices:
This set in the Bay Area where I grew up was exciting for me. I loved knowing the areas and learning more of the history. I think about my great uncles and grandparents talking about this time frame, too. But it wasn’t just where the story was located, it was the story itself that made this such a great read for me. I loved the author obvious love of animals, especially dogs that came through strong in the story. Mixed in the with the history and insights was mystery and plenty of action to keep a reader entertained. It’s just a great all-around read.
This is the second novel in the Oliver Wright Series set during World War ll in the Bay Area. I loved the first book, but I think I was drawn even deeper into this story. It’s 1944 and Oliver is tasked to protect a Polish speaker, Sophia. I liked the interaction between these two characters even though Sophia didn’t want Oliver as a bodyguard. As in the first book, I loved the relationship between Oliver with his dog, Harley, who had served in the war, too. Within that storyline is another narrative about a young girl trying to assist a friend’s dog Blue. I enjoyed seeing the world through Blue the dog’s perception and his devotion to the young girl helping him. This is not only a well-written story but well researched. I appreciated the attention to details and history that Ms. Adler infused into the story. What happened in Poland during the war is hard to accept and painfully real. It kept me awake late into the night thinking about human cruelty, apathy, and the brave heroes mixed in. “Shadowed by Death” can be read as a stand-alone or as a series. I highly recommend this book especially if you love mystery, suspense, action, history, and of course dogs.
I have to warn you this is a hard read, but an important one to read. Starting with a young girl being abused and finally standing up for herself makes you want to cheer for her and want to see justice. The treatment is cruel and had me up thinking about it at night. Talking about her experience with homelessness will make you rethink how you look at people who have to live on the street. To know the author survived this and became a successful author and a wonderful human being is inspiring on so many levels.
“Empty Chairs” is the story of the author’s life when she was a very young girl in Australia. I can’t say I’m shocked very easily, but this was shocking. The woman who gave birth to Stacey– Gwen, because she certainly didn’t deserve the title of mother, sold her YOUNG daughter’s body to provide for her. If Stacey didn’t comply she’d be beaten and locked in a closet. The woman was sick on so many levels, but I had to wonder about the people that paid for sex with a girl not old enough to be in school? What were they? Even when one of these clients insisted that Stacey get some education, that wasn’t enough to erase what he did to her. Then, finally when Stacey had enough she exploded. I felt no empathy toward Gwen getting beaten by her 11-year-old daughter. Here is where Stacey became Sassy-Girl and now is living on the streets. The one thing that made this slightly easier to read was this girl’s attitude and strength. I loved her wisdom and feistiness, yet I kept thinking how does this go on around us? I believe the real strength of this book is educating people it’s happening. This is well-written, and you can’t help but fall in love with Sassy-Girl/Stacey. There is a second book that finishes the story of young Stacey and I will be reading it. It is a very tough read, but one I highly recommend you try.
Like I said in the review, I have never read this genre before. So this was completely fascinating to me all the research and details this author provided. You can really understand the different lifestyles they had. Although, my usual genres are more fantasy based I also love historical fiction and now prehistorical fiction. The storyline is very strong and this is well written which makes this a fantastic read and a series I plan to continue. I now think about how it used to be way, way, way back when.
I’ve never read a novel set 850,000 years ago. The details and obvious research were amazing, as was the story. Xhosa is a strong female in times when males rule the tribes. I loved her character and how she looked at the world through her senses, instinct, and duty. It repulsed me when they ate their kill without cooking it, but I had to remember they didn’t have control of fire yet. Ms. Murray takes the reader deep into that period, where I could easily imagine how it might have been living then. I was rooting for Xhosa and her tribe as they tried to survive other tribe’s attacks and nature. I loved the relationships that developed as they met up with others fleeing the same situation. I’m completely hooked on this moment in history and storyline. I will definitely read the rest of this series and highly recommend it.
Here is a short story/novella for the holidays:
I love cats and Christmas so what could be better than both paired together. I’m rereading it again because I enjoyed it so much the first time. I always love how this author researches and comes up with legends to mix into her work. Really adds that extra depth and gives it some holiday magic.
What starts off as a sweet Christmas novella abruptly changes course, and the reader is taken on a thrilling and unexpected ride. Quinn and her newly adopted black cat, Poe, find themselves in a huge snowstorm driving home Christmas Eve. After sliding off the road and passing out, Quinn wakes up in the house of handsome Breck and his unwell daughter, Sophie. The attraction between Quinn and Breck is immediate, but the story takes an unusual turn. Christmas magic and the dark side that comes with it are introduced. I loved the pureness of a new love–and the shadowy twist of the mysterious thrown in. This is a very different Christmas story that I highly recommend if you love paranormal added into the mix of a holiday love story.
Happy Holidays and Winter Solace! Embrace your inner child by reading a life-changing book! D. L. Finn
Coming to the end of a year and decade brings out my introspective side. In the last few days, I’ve been thinking about all the wonderful and life-changing things that have happened to me. This bubbled over into a list. So today, I will share these amazing events.
First place goes to all my family-related events, including my marriage and the birth of my children and grandchildren. I’ve been beyond blessed in this department over many decades and I’m very grateful.
Hearing the message when I was in a coma at 14 years old, “You need to go back. You have more to do.” These words will always remind me of how important each person is in this life and not to give up.
When I swam with a sea turtle and my youngest daughter this year in Kauai. It reminded me to always look for miracles.
Surviving being sick in bed for six months and recovering. It was a scary time filled with many doctors and a lot of uncertainty. Even if I never know what got me to that point, I know faith propelled me forward each baby step at a time. I had to learn to trust myself, and if I need to do it again—I will.
When my family and I moved from where I grew up to go live in the forest. I often wonder if I would be the person I am today if I hadn’t taken a chance leaving all the familiar behind. Would I have finished college, started writing, or taken the inner journey I have? Doubtful.
Breaking my foot ended up being lucky. Over 20 years ago, I sent my work out to publishers with one article published in a magazine. I had a lot of nice rejections and encouragement but eventually stopped sending. Finally, almost five years ago, I self-published right after I broke that foot. It took that nudge to do it, but I’m glad I took a chance on myself.
I received an AA in English in my late 40s, along with a liberal arts degree, both with honors, while juggling a family, health issues, and long distant caretaking. I’m still contemplating getting a BA via the internet this time, but I’m not compelled to do so right now. My take of this was never giving up on your dreams. No time will be the perfect time to get what you desire.
My husband and I accidentally attended mass while sightseeing in Florence, Italy, on a once in a lifetime trip. This event reignited my faith in things that are meant to be, will be. That part of me had taken a beating. A bonus was it was in English and I felt the presence of a recently deceased relative sitting next to me. It gave me the peace I had been searching for.
I saw an angel in my hall reflected on a door right before dark times. Even though I didn’t connect it then, I now know that there is always light to guide us out of any darkness—if we look for it.
When I flew in a water plane on a trip to Alaska. This is something that I always wanted to do for as long as I can remember. My inner child woke up and had a huge smile. I imagine myself flying onto a lake to get to that private log cabin. You never know what the future holds but fulfilling some of these items on the so-called bucket list may achieve them in ways one can’t imagine. Will I end up in Alaska flying water planes? Who knows… and isn’t that great? Always dream.
I’m sure I will think of more, but you get the idea of things that helped shape into the person I am right now. We’ve all had our life-changing moments and events that have made us into what we are. I hope that this new decade brings us all a lot of new memories full of joy and some positive change.
Pictures: Florence, swimming with the turtle, and standing outside the water plane on the water with my husband.
1. Next week is holiday pictures of Nevada City or the final blog of the year and decade! I will be shutting off the comments for this post.
2. I’ll be sending out the Monthly Newsletter early due to the holidays. Watch for it in your email if subscribed on December 18th.
3. “Books That Changed Me–2019 Winter Edition” will post early, too on December 18th.
4. I will be back here on January 12, 2020, but I’ll still keep in contact on social media.
5. WordPress has taken upon itself to keep removing email notifications on blogs I follow. I really depend on these notices to keep me informed and updated. So, if I’ve missed some of your blogs I apologize and it’s not intentional! I will go through my list again and re-add the emails.
Happy Holidays to you and yours!
Embrace your inner child by enveloping those special moments in life. D. L. Finn
“Apollo’s Raven” is historical fiction blended with mythology. Catrin is the King’s youngest daughter that a curse follows. I love Catrin’s strength as a warrior and how she connects to her spiritual side. The relationship that blooms between her enemy, Marcellus, exposes her vulnerability. There was plenty of detail that pulled me into the story and enough action to keep me on the edge of my seat. The clash of Roman culture and Celtic ways showed the stark difference in how women were treated in each society. A lot was going on in this story, but I never got lost in that. I appreciated the many layers of the plot that included betrayal, love, power, bravery, duty, and malice. Catrin’s trust was tested many times over as she tried to make sense of her situation. This is the first book I’ve read by Ms. Tanner, and with Britannia’s survival at stake, I’ll be reading the rest of this Celtic series!
In this YA paranormal story, Margret moves into an inn her grandfather runs after her parents die. She has a unique gift of seeing the ghosts that live there. My favorite part of this book is the ghosts and their stories, which are taken from history. The attention to detail drew me into the story and tugged at my heart. I loved it when Margret interacted with them, but I couldn’t bond with her at first in everyday life. Yet, the rest of the story was so intriguing and held my attention to the very end. Not only does Margret deal with ghosts, but there are also evil entities involved. The description of hell and bringing in current events was clever. The rich history shared through the ghosts and the good vs. evil theme made this a page-turning read.
“Oh Baubles” is a charming holiday story that I read in one sitting. Charlene is involved in a horrific accident, leaving her a widow with a long recovery ahead of her. The details of Charlene’s recuperation and how she dealt with losing her leg helped me understand what she might be going through. I loved the relationship between Charlene and her sister, who pushed her to move on with her life, but it was the interaction between her and John that was the strongest. Their attraction was immediate, but they both held back for different reasons. This is the perfect read for not only the busy holidays but at any time of year.
I completed the Nano Challenge! Whew:) I had to do it in three weeks because of the holidays and other family events. What I found was that I disliked writing on days I didn’t feel inspired, but I still did. Those days will require a lot of editing later. So I got a very rough draft that has three events happening that need to be connected more. I can’t see getting back to this until maybe next summer. Then I’ll be ready to put all together in many edits. It was definitely a tell instead of show first attempt. Thanks for the gentle nudge to participate, Mae!
I will have two more regular blogs before my holiday break. There will be an early “Winter Books That Changed Me Edition,” and Monthly Newsletter.
Now I’m taking a break from reading and reviewing books to enjoy my holiday reads and rereads. After that, I plan on finishing some series I started. I wonder if I’ll ever get through my TBR list? I hope not… lol.
During Thanksgiving week our fire season abruptly ended with a 1.5 foot of snow. It was followed by a lot of rain. Thanks for all the thoughts and rain dances on our behalf. It worked.
Embrace the holidays by reading a good book. Then, leave a review. It’s the best present an author can receive! D. L. Finn
This collection of twelve short stories begins with a poem from the author’s grandson, “When I Rise.” The first line caught my attention immediately, “Songs being sung outside in the trees…” what a beautiful image to start the book. Each story talks about a different issue including, abuse, eating disorders, and death. It made it meaningful knowing they were based on real-life stories and I recognized a couple from Ms. Ingalls other books. I love at the end of each one a positive truth about life is offered along with a tree and its meaning. This gave me a lot to ponder upon, along with hope. My favorite story was the last one “Birch Tree, Daisy the Duck.” It had a touch of magic that I like to believe exists around us. A heartfelt and meaningful book that offers truth with hope and brings in one of my favorite things, trees. I highly recommend this, especially if you enjoy a positive outlook in dark times.
I bought this book for my youngest granddaughter’s third birthday. I read it before giving it to her and thoroughly enjoyed it. Molly, the feral cat, was searching for friendship and her purr. She ran into animals who rejected her, but she kept looking until she found her circle. This has a wonderful message of friendship and finding that inner purr or what I thought of as the inner spark. The illustrations are charming and brought the characters to life. Locating the dragonfly on each page added to my delight. Adults will enjoy reading this to their children almost as much as I know the children will love having it read to them–or reading it themselves. I’m looking forward to sharing this with my granddaughter. I highly recommend this well-written and beautifully illustrated book.
Note: I did say there wasn’t going to be a post this week, but I forgot to change the date. So next week will be the rest of the reviews! A holiday blunder:)
Embrace your inner child this holiday season by giving the gift of reading! D. L. Finn