Now also available in paperback is Grand Opening: A Novella (The Boutique Series #1)! Yay! Grand Opening, a romantic suspense story, is the first book of The Boutique Series which features the life of Eden Harper, owner and operator of Richmond’s hottest couture boutique, Josi’s Boutique, her family, her business, and her love – Nelson Donnelly, son of one of Classic Hollywood’s first black stars.
Amazon 5-star review for Grand Opening: A Novella (The Boutique Series #1): “A beautifully written novella of believable characters in high stakes living. Ms. Rice nailed the drama of disappointment, hurt and its aftermath.”
So, you now have two options: e-book and paperback! Can’t decide which? Well… you can do as I do – See you have your e-book on hand, by way of your tablet or smartphone, in case you happen (gasp!) to leave the paperback at home or are in place where you simply can’t pull out a paperback… you get my point, right? 😀 Believe me – it works!
As I work on the rewrite and edits of my novel, I’ve held on to the spirit of Toni Morrison’s words: “If there is a book you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, you must be the one to write it.” They’ve been ringing heavier in my mind for the past couple of days, since her passing, to keep going. It’s still a shock to know she’s no longer in this world with us, to feel such a void, but I thank God her stories AND essays carry on for us to continue learning from.
I remember in an interview (I believe it was on 60 Minutes) not long after Beloved was published, where she mentioned how she had to get up and take a walk outside to separate herself from the story as she wrote it. It was that difficult for her to write, but it was a story that had to be written and she knew it and nothing would stop it. Knowing the pain of writing it made me wonder if I wanted to even read it – but I sure did. It’s long been that process of hers that’s stayed with me in my own writing as I visualize the pain and ugliness along with the beauty my characters live through. It’s what writing is about… through her novels, essays, and non-fiction, she taught many of us about that. I remain grateful for her and for her sharing her gift of language. I will always cherish the way she uplifted the voice of the black family in literature and reminding me of my responsibility as an author to do just the same. It’s the voice I grew up with, it’s the voice I have, it’s the voice I too have to share.
“If there is a book you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, you must be the one to write it.” – Toni Morrison
It’s been a major challenge for some unknown reason to work on my story lately. However, this particular story has to be told. I do want to read it and I so want others to read it and learn from it; therefore, as Ms. Morrison pointed out – I have to write it. So, from the words of the Queen, onward I go with it.
Do you have any Toni Morrison books among your favorite books? Which are they? Please share in the comments.
I don’t know how in the world I managed it this month, but I got four books in! Four whole books! As a bibliophile, avid reader, one with whom a book is always on her person, it’s a big deal considering I’ve been in a nasty reading drought. I haven’t had nor, honestly, made the time in quite a while for such an adventure and I realize how much I’ve missed and have sorely needed. I used to pore through books like this on a regular basis. During grad school, my personal TBR list had to be put aside; generally over the years with work in my other life and life (mothering and wifeing – if that’s a word ) one book a month or maybe two was the norm; and when writing, one or a half of one if I could get through was happening. This month, I have to thank Terry McMillan for getting my ball rolling again.
My Goodreads Reading Challenge bar had been set pretty low this year – as I have for the past few years because of work, writing, and life, and this time it didn’t look like I was going to even make it to those 10 books. Gasp. My best year was one when I worked in the library several years ago and got through 50. I miss those days. I mean, it was a part of my job!
When Dr. Georgia Young learned about the passing of a former college boyfriend, she realized she didn’t know if he’d known how much she had loved him. That moment set her on a journey to find her ex-husbands and lovers to find out more about their relationships and what made them stop working. With her intentions and the love of her close-knit family and friends during the process she learns more about herself. Recommended read.
Let me just say, about a week later, I’m still savoring this book. Told (written) in the form of a documentary about a top rock band of the 1970s that broke up right at the end of their first tour, which was a major success by the way. Everyone involved from the band members, journalists covering them, their biography writers, family members, etc, talk about the band and the breakup for the first time. As a classic rock fan, I loved it. As a biography fan, I loved it. I loved it… highly recommended.
Can you believe that it’s been over twenty years since Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (or Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone if you’re in the UK) came out, introducing us to this amazing group of kids, namely Harry, Ron, and Hermione?! When I got Book #1 for my son years ago, I read the first chapter, was captivated, and had intended to return to it soon. But that didn’t happen. So just a few years ago, I finally got to it and finished it. Finally… and enjoyed every moment and even got myself a Hermione Granger quote shirt! Sometimes one could forget they were kids – just kids! Not yet teenagers and all they went through. Then – again, finally – I made it to the sequel and pored through it in just a few days. Just as the first, it’s a story of heart. As my best friend pointed out with a heavy sigh, I might add – we’ll never get to Potterworld at my rate (!), so I’m on to the third. In fact, I’ve never seen the movies because I knew I was going to read them first. I may or may not watch Chamber of Secrets though. There are some parts that I really don’t want to see and prefer to keep it in my imagination. I’ll continue to think on that though…
Have you read any of the Harry Potter series? Have you read any of the books I read this month? Please share your thoughts. Also, any suggestions for my TBR? I’m always open to suggestions for that!
Since I have to concentrate on my WIP for the upcoming #PitchWars and push back the new story that’s been screaming in my ear to be written, my TBR is set to collect a little dust once again. It won’t stop me however, from picking up the books today that I’ve got on hold at the library though. Of course, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban is one of them.
As I wait and wait and wait with bated breath for the third book of the Thomas Cromwell trilogy by Hilary Mantel, I’ve chosen to repost my review of the second book, Bring Up the Bodies. Click here for my review of the first book, Wolf Hall. (Previously posted in my now-defunct blog, “The Reading Corner”)
As soon as I began Bring Up the Bodies, I noticed that it was well to my own advantage that I’d just read the prequel, Wolf Hall. Otherwise, I would have been staring at the pages, trying to piece myself into the story. In this case, I swiftly tore into it…
Mantel jumps in with that grand proverbial “he”! I love it!
Take this: “… the sky is so clear you can see into Heaven and spy on what the saints are doing.” My God!!! Oh, to write like this!
I did find that Cromwell speaks quite a bit more in this story than in the first, in longer paragraphs. He seemed just a tad less enigmatic this way – just a tad, and it’s still his story though by all means. He was also much more full of himself than before, and add that with age, he was getting tired. This time, his ambitions nearly got the best of him – when Henry realized Cromwell had outsmarted him and boy how he let him and everyone know how he didn’t like it one bit. Hell, his job was to outsmart everyone else for Henry – not for himself (well, no one but Cromwell was to know that!).
I can’t say I remember “Crumb” as his endearment in Wolf Hall, but I was glad to see “Cremuel” was still pronounced for me.
Halfway through it, my dad and I were talking about him – in conjunction with Henry VIII. He says “Well he (or shall I say: ‘He, Cromwell’) was Henry’s flunky”. Mon Dieu! How dare he?!
I was absolutely appalled and came to Cromwell’s aid. I pretty much defended him: “He was saving his hide! Anything for His Majesty!”
“I guess you’re right” was the response.
Mantel’s take on Tudor England through his eyes has been so refreshing. I have really enjoyed her phrasing, her astonishing way with words! Such glorious sentences. This too (at Katherine of Aragon’s death towards Anne’s reaction):
She will die that day, she says. She has studied death, many times anticipated it, and she is not shy at its approach. She dictates her wishes about her burial arrangements, which she does not expect to be observed. She asks for her household to be paid off, he debts to be settled.
At ten in the morning a priest anoints her, touching the holy oil to her eyelids and lips, her hands and feet. These lids will now seal and not reopen, she will neither look nor see. These lips have finished their prayers. These hands will sign no more papers. These feet have finished their journey. By noon her breathing is stertorous, she is laboring to her end. At two o’clock, light cast into her chamber by the fields of snow, she resigns from life. As she draws her last breath, the sombre forms of her keepers close in. They are reluctant to disturb the aged chaplain, and the old women shuffling from her bedside. Before they have washed her, Bedingfield has put his fastest rider on the road.
8 January: the news arrives at court. It filters out from the king’s rooms then runs riot up staircases to the rooms where the queen’s maids are dressing, and through the cubby holes where kitchen boys huddle to doze, and along lanes and passages through the breweries and the cold rooms for keeping fish, and up again through the gardens to the galleries and bounces up to the carpeted chambers where Anne Boleyn sinks to her knees and says ‘At last God, not before time!’ The musicians tune up for the celebrations.
Ah… such imagery, such description, detail. I watched every bit of that happening! Sigh…
I enjoyed this book a lot, but I have to say I prefer the depth, the language, the masterful storytelling in Wolf Hall. Bring Up The Bodies was a bit more concise, condensed, yes, tighter. I’d like to give it 4.5 stars. It was still an engaging piece of work, and I was panting along towards the end as everyone was gathered for the Tower.
I’m looking forward to the third of this trilogy, but then again, I’m not…
My thoughts on the first of the trilogy: Wolf Hall.
Have you read either of them or both? Please share in the comments. I’d love to hear your thoughts on it too!
Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel
My rating: 5 of 5 starsView all my reviewsWinner of the 2009 Man Booker Prize.As I wait and wait and wait with bated breath for the third book of the Thomas Cromwell trilogy by Hilary Mantel, I’ve chosen to repost my review of the first book, Wolf Hall. (Previously posted in my now-defunct blog, “The Reading Corner”)
It took me a while longer to read Wolf Hall than I expected, even though I got the large print, but that certainly didn’t take away any of my appreciation for this book. This was Thomas Cromwell’s story; one of this self-made man, who rose to the court to become one of King Henry VIII’s most trusted and envied advisers. I had sat it down for a while at times – I got a wee bit bored with Henry’s rogue desires and antics all in the name of marrying Anne Boleyn, annulling his marriage to Katherine of Aragon, and thus disregarding the existence of the Church (not like it’s never been heard before) – yet, Mantel’s personification of Thomas Cromwell continued to pull me back and I’m so glad she did. She made that man a part of my life for better of a few weeks.
A man’s man, he was. A loving and influential father and paternal figure, a grieving widower, a sharp, intelligent self-made man. A brute with a heart at times. Reading Wolf Hall was also like creating some sort of crush on the man for me (!). Certainly given the circumstances of his true character and various outcome of those left in his wake, I don’t think that was to be the case. But – she fleshed this man out so damned well.
It didn’t take me long to understand the methodology of the pronoun “he”, for this was under no uncertain terms, his story. Mantel kept me grounded with him, in his footsteps, standing next to him, within him. He was well… fleshed out.
She has a glorious way with words, turning them, flipping them, shaping them, molding them. Life wasn’t just described, it was felt, smelled, tasted. Sure writing is supposed to convey action this way, but it was just Mantel’s beautiful use of language and dialogue that unleashed such depth. It was a joy to experience.
She managed to expound upon one of history’s most odd moments, which was probably best done through the eyes of one, Cromwell, and make it as plausible as possible. It was a refreshing take on an old history lesson, which has revamped my interest in British history and enhanced my TBR with even more historical fiction from the earlier era.
I swept through this book quickly and loved pretty much every moment. Finished it in the wee hours of the morning. As macabre as the title is, and as grim as the subject matter, too, the humor woven through the story lightened it up JUST a bit. Korede narrates the story about her sister’s – shall we say – penchant for murdering her boyfriends. Once her sister, Ayoola, has set her sights on the doctor that Korede has loved (from a distance at the hospital where she works as a nurse), Korede begins to wonder just how much more of her sister’s homicidal ways she can take. Can or should she try to protect the doctor? How can she keep her sister away from him? How long will she be haunted by the victims – while fussing at Ayoola to stay off of Instagram like everything is okay? Moments like this are the ones that lighten things up for the reader and perhaps Korede as she shares this story. Even darker than these troubles is the childhood the girls lost and why and how. It makes the tale more somber and even a tad understanding. Set in Nigeria, My Sister, the Serial Killer also brings to light how women there are perceived by men, in terms of social status, work, their expectations of women, and looks. As Korede notes, that looks part can be a sad breaking point for some men.
Korede had spent so much time of her life protecting Ayoola as demanded by their mother, it reached the point where Korede expected it at all costs… and demanded it. My Sister, the Serial Killer is a story about a sister’s bond – an incredibly, strong one, and it’s quite a testament to the question of whether or not one could be broken even if the desire to do so is this freaking strong. Highly recommended.
The Old Stone House located at 1914 East Main Street, near Shockoe Bottom, is Richmond’s oldest known structure. It was built around 1750. Perhaps much more significant than that to the rest of the world is the fact that it is also home to the memorabilia and artifacts of the gifted poet, horror short story writer, and Richmond resident, Edgar Allan Poe. The Poe Museum was established in 1922 to honor Poe’s life in Richmond and as a tribute to his literary contribution to the world.
Richmond lays claim to quite a few literary notables, including Ellen Glasgow, Tom Wolfe, and Patricia Cornwell. However, no one else creates such a thoughtful pause as Edgar Allan Poe. Through much of his work, Poe’s writing gifts demonstrated his mastery of effectively illustrating the macabre, suspense, and terror with intelligence, wit, and the use of beauty in language. He is an inspiration to many writers within the genre to date.
Poe was born in Baltimore in 1809 and raised in Richmond by the Allan family following his mother’s death in 1811. John Allan was an owner of Ellis & Allan, a mercantile shop in downtown Richmond. As a young man, Poe attended Monumental Episcopal Church (now known as Monumental Church) with the Allans. It is believed that Poe’s strained relationship with Allan may have served as the muse for his works. Many of his stories mirror the intellectual and psychological experience of his youth and are carried through calculating and unhinged characters. He was reared in a large downtown Richmond home called Moldavia, which is also believed to have served as a form of inspiration, as many of his tales feature a mansion filled with gloom, madness, and events of a mentally spiraling nature.
The opposite of his maniacal expressions through prose was pronounced hopeless romanticism in verse. Three of his most beloved poems, including “Annabel Lee” and even “The Raven” are presumed to have been inspired by women of Richmond with whom he was known to have been involved.
The plan to use The Old Stone House as a museum was supported and funded by
local historians, Mr. and Mrs. Archer Jones. The house possesses its own interesting piece of history. Poe’s connection to it may have been stemmed from his duty, around 1824, as a color guard escort to France’s Marquis de Lafayette during a visit to the Ege family, the original owners of the house. During the Revolutionary War, approximately fifty years earlier, Lafayette had stayed there as he worked to help Washington defeat the British. Other than that, there is no other association known between Poe and the house. However, commemoration of his works and time spent in the city was desired.
Remarkable thought went into the development of the museum and grounds. The Old Stone House is a small portion. By incorporating various items connected to Poe’s life to the museum, the grounds were expanded as a unique, heartfelt, nostalgic dedication towards his work on his craft and his life in Richmond.
The Old Stone House, which features the gift shop, contains the original heart-of-pine floors and a uniquely designed fireplace. The first leg of the self-directed tour in the House introduces the visitor to Poe and his family. The short walk to the Model Building reveals a stunning model of an early-to-mid 19th-century Richmond, complete with painstakingly created miniature houses and labels as they pertained to Poe’s lifetime. The minutest details of the model are so convincing, they constructively pull the visitor into the past. Featured are models of many of Richmond’s landmarks along with homes that are significant to Poe’s life, such as Elmira Shelton’s home – the woman to whom he was once engaged.
The Enchanted Garden – a peaceful courtyard with an engaging fountain – was designed in 1921 to resemble the garden in his poem, “To One in Paradise”. At the north end of the garden is the Poe Shrine, where a copy of Poe’s bust from the Bronx Historical Society sits. Bricks and granite rescued from the demolition of the Southern Literary Messenger, a local magazine where Poe had worked and practiced his craft prior to his fame, are used in the shrine and throughout the garden.
In the Elizabeth Arnold Poe Memorial Building, named in honor of his mother, many dynamic aspects of his literary self are displayed, including his desk from the Southern Literary Messenger. Also safely stored and displayed is the staircase from the first Allan home in which he lived. Several of Poe’s wares displayed in this building demonstrate his fine aesthetic tastes.
The last stop of the self-directed tour is the Exhibits Building. Most of those artifacts bring a more modern-day connection to Poe with the exhibit of film adaptations to his work. Included is an impressive letter displayed on behalf of Universal Pictures’ president, Carl Laemmle, asking that photo stills from the 1932 hit, Murders in the Rue Morgue, be added to the Poe Collection.
In 1849, at the age of forty, Poe died in Baltimore about two weeks after leaving
Richmond for a brief stay. Even though he is buried in Baltimore, his life remains immortal here in Richmond with each piece that represents him, his contribution to the world he provided, and his life as a Richmonder in that charming Old Stone House and its grounds.
The museum features special events throughout the year, most notably in October, since Poe is usually synonymous with Halloween. Any time would make a great family outing to learn more about Poe’s era in the city. Make your plans to visit soon. Ticket prices range from $6 to $8.
This was originally a post for the #ReelInfatuation Blogathon a few years ago that I participated in with my classic movie site, Goosepimply All Over, celebrating my movie crush. It’s been updated a bit. Since he’s also my literary crush, it’s quite relevant here as well. 🙂
When I recently watched The Outsiders (1983) not very long ago, I could still recite most of the lines with the characters – beyond “Do it for Johnny”. It was of no surprise to me or my kids, because they’ve heard me wax poetic about that movie a lot over the years. When C. Thomas Howell popped up on some show my son was watching one night some years back, my shriek, “It’s Ponyboy!”, had him shaking his head with the shame of a teenage boy embarrassed by his mom being a fangirl. When he had to read the book by S.E. Hinton in his high school English class, all of my feels for Ponyboy came back and I was too anxious to rewatch the movie with him (even though they’d also watched it in his class!). Needless to say, while all of the Curtis boys and their friends making up the darling ’80s memory known as the Brat Park were adorable to say the least, none captured my heart like Ponyboy Curtis.
Ponyboy Curtis was the writer, the dreamer, the sensitive, sweet, and caring one. In the midst of all the chaos he had endured living between the rivalry of the Greasers and the Socs, that made up much of his childhood, everyone on all sides knew he was the one who could try to make sense of life for himself and the rest of them through writing. Johnny told him so through his beautiful letter after he died and Dallas tried to protect him long before he died. I certainly understood that method of coping – it’s why we were kindred spirits, I guess.
It’s why we were kindred spirits…
I adored him so much, I didn’t even want Cherry Valance to talk to him (and I am a Diane Lane fan). I loved that movie so much, I memorized Robert Frost’s “Nothing Gold Can Stay” outside of my 11th grade English class, not so long after the movie had come out. I can still even sing the ending song, “Stay Gold”, along with Stevie Wonder. And – I even had a conniption fit when I realized that the copy of Gone With The Wind my uncle gave to me when I was in college is The Exact, Same Edition that Ponyboy and Johnny had at the church!! (It was his copy in college. Of course, I still have it – see below 🙂 and here!)
Photo: Tonya Rice
Photo credit: Warner Bros.
So, yes… my movie and literary crush is Ponyboy Curtis. I’ve got other movie crushes of course, (like Gene Kelly in Anchors Aweigh – see him on the telephone here and you’ll know why…