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Showing posts from August, 2013

Blog Tour: Muse by Mary Novik Guest Post (Plus a chance to win a book)

SukasaReads is thrilled and honoured to host Mary Novik's guest blog about her new book Muse. Read the author's insight into the Secrets of Avignon Popes below. Plus, if you'd like a bit of background about Muse, read the SukasaReads Review. If you'd like to win a copy of Muse, enter Random House Canada's contest at the end of this blog post. 

Mary Novik's debut novel Conceit, about the daughter of the poet John Donne, was hailed as "a magnificent novel of seventeenth-century London." Chosen as a book of the year by both Quill& Quire and The Globe and Mail, Conceit was longlisted for the Scotiabank Giller Prize and won the Ethel Wilson Fiction Prize. Solange, the heroine of Novik’s new novel Muse, has been called “a stunning fictional creation.” Mary lives in Vancouver and can be found at * Secrets of the Avignon Popes in Muse By Mary Novik Muse is set in medieval Avignon during the period when the popes resided there, rather than in …

Muse by Mary Novik

History never felt so vivid and engaging, than it does in Mary Novik’s second novel Muse. The story comes to life with her heroine Solange LeBlanc, whose journey begins in the tempestuous streets of 14thcentury Avignon, a city of men dominated by the Pope and his palace. Her mother (a harlot) dies in childbirth, and Solange is sent to the Clairefontaine abbey to be raised by Benedictine nuns. They believe that she has the gift of clairvoyance. Trained as a scribe but troubled by disturbing visions and tempted by a more carnal life, she escapes to Avignon, where she becomes entangled in a love triangle with the poet Petrarch, becoming not only his muse but also his lover.

Later, when her gift for prophecy catches the Pope's ear, Solange becomes Pope Clement VI's mistress and confidante in the most celebrated court in Europe. When the plague kills a third of Avignon's population, Solange is accused of sorcery and is forced once again to reinvent herself and fight against a fi…

Remembering Elmore Leonard

Elmore Leonard's Ten Rules of Writing

1. Never open a book with weather.
2. Avoid prologues.
3. Never use a verb other than "said" to carry dialogue.
4. Never use an adverb to modify the verb "said”…he admonished gravely.
5. Keep your exclamation points under control. You are allowed no more than two or three per 100,000 words of prose.
6. Never use the words "suddenly" or "all hell broke loose."
7. Use regional dialect, patois, sparingly.
8. Avoid detailed descriptions of characters.
9. Don't go into great detail describing places and things.
10. Try to leave out the part that readers tend to skip.

My most important rule is one that sums up the 10.

If it sounds like writing, I rewrite it.” — Elmore Leonard

3000 Powerful Words and Phrases for Effective Performance Reviews

For anyone who manages a team or is in a position of leadership, this book from Ten Speed Press is for you. I received the book from Net Galley so I read most of it online. But I really look forward to having a hard copy of this on my reference shelf, to use as a benchmark and guide in the future.
Performance reviews are one of the best tools managers have to shape company talent and culture, develop strong channels of communication with employees, and create systemic change. Sandra E. Lamb is a former CEO, speaker and consultant, so she understands the corporate stratosphere, and teaches you how to create an effective scoring system.
As a manager you will also benefit from the insightful suggestions on how you can evaluate personal skills, core competencies, and personality traits, so you can help your employees change bad habits developed over a lifetime. This will help your employees make effective changes and ensure the growth and success of your company.
But the advice is not only…

The Strange Gift of Gwendolyn Golden by Philippa Dowding

Gwendolyn Golden wakes up one morning and very quickly discovers that this is not a normal day. She’s on the ceiling and her long brown hair is dangling up.She’s unsure how to handle it or if she should even tell her mother. She considers it and decides her mom has enough to deal with raising three children on her own ever since her father mysteriously vanished when Gwendolyn was six.
Like any girl hitting puberty, Gwendolyn already feels like she has a lot to deal with and this one extra thing isn’t helping her quest to “fit in” school. She already thinks everyone considers her a bit of an oddball. “Why can’t my special gift be making banana bread, or playing soccer, or being great at chess or something? My special gift is much too strange.”
The way Gwendolyn deals with this new strange gift plays out in the rest of the book. She learns that she is actually not the sole Night Flyer, and is relieved to learn that there are people around her who have been designated to help. The journey…

The Unlikely Hero of Room 13B

When Adam meets Robyn at a support group for kids coping with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), he is smitten, drawn to her almost before he can take a breath. He's determined to protect and defend her--to play Batman to her Robyn--whatever the cost. 
Teresa Toten’s new young-adult novel The Unlikely Hero of Room 13B is heart-warming, compassionate and above all believable. The protagonist Adam has his work cut out for him as he faces a wall of worry, some of it existential, some internal. Not only is he trying to understand his OCD, while trying to balance his relationship with his divorced parents, but he’s also trying to navigate through the issues that teenagers normally face, namely the perils of young love. At fourteen, he’s love struck by the older Robyn, and in this amusing tale of young love, Adam becomes all the more adorable as we are taken on the ride through a labyrinth of personal thought as he tries to figure out how he can get her to notice and like him.
In his qu…

The Empty Room by Lauren B. Davis

Colleen Kerrigan wakes up sick and bruised, with no clear memory of the night before. It’s Monday morning, and she is late for work again. She’s shocked to see the near-empty vodka bottle on her kitchen counter. It was full at noon yesterday; surely she didn’t drink that much last night? As she struggles out the door, she fights the urge to have a sip, just to take the edge off. But no, she’s not going to drink today.
This sets the stage for Lauren B. Davis’ novel The Empty Room, a story of a woman battling her alcohol demons (or rather denying they exist for the most part). The author does a fabulous job by depicting the slow determinedly metronomic downward spiral of Colleen, as she is on the verge of losing everything – her job, her friends, the love of her life, and her dignity.
The story is gut-wrenching. How you help someone who does not want to be helped? An especially low moment is when she takes vodka in a salad dressing bottle to a job interview and accidentally drops it in th…