Book Review

Book Review: Troubling Love by Elena Ferrante

I am a huge fan of Elena Ferrante, the Italian novelist whose true identity isn’t publicly known and who has written some of the most interesting pieces of contemporary domestic fiction. Ferrante is best known for her Neapolitan Quartet (which is fabulous and is being adapted by HBO). Recently, however, I had the opportunity to read one of her stand-alone novels Troubling Love.

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In Troubling Love, after a personal tragedy befalls the main character Delia, she returns to her native Naples to discover long lost secrets about her family. What follows is a fascinating self-discovery which explores the themes of love, loss, and the true meaning of family. I devoured this one in just two sittings (it’s only 139 pages long), but so much insight was packed into this thin novel. Between the heartbreaking emotions and the amazing setting details, this was such a richly rewarding book.

I am so intrigued by Ferrante and the mystery surrounding her. She’s been quoted, “I believe that books, once written, have no need of their authors.” Still, her anonymity combined with the power of her prose makes me want to know more about her as a human being. Maybe it’s because I’m also an author, so while I agree with her quotation, I also feel that there’s some inextricable bond between an writer and her words.

Book Review

Book Review: A Discovery of Witches

Autumn is coming, and with the cooling of the season comes the realization that Halloween is fast approaching too. This year, I plan on doing a “31 Days of Halloween” blog-a-thon where I’ll be reviewing a horror movie daily in October. But until then, I’ve been revisiting some of my favorite supernatural-themed books. One of my favorites is A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness.

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A Discovery of Witches is the first in a supernatural trilogy that follows the witch Diana Bishop as she comes to terms with what she is and learns the history of both her family as well as other supernatural creatures like vampires and daemons. There are so many things to love about this book:

  • Diana is a fascinating main character. She has a lot of depth and is a very strong woman. Even though she falls in love (and there is some compromise in her relationship as there is in all relationships), she retains her agency. She’s even flawed in believable ways that makes her seem like a real person. Her growth throughout this book and the rest of the trilogy is compelling.
  • The romance here is bittersweet but satisfying. I dislike when a book’s romance feels too easy. Here, there are obstacles to be overcome, and both characters grow as the relationship develops.
  • There is some fascinating world-building in this book. From a supernatural perspective, the folklore here about witches, daemons, and vampires felt like a really fresh and unique take on creatures that are so common in fiction these days.
  • Harkness is a historian by trade, and it really shows. She’s an academic (as is her main character), and I loved the details about history, science, alchemy, genetics, and more. You can tell that everything in this book was meticulously planned and researched.

I absolutely loved this book (and the whole trilogy). I’m so excited that this universe is expanding and there is going to be another book about a supporting character – Marcus. That book is called Time’s Convert, and it comes out on Tuesday!! My copy has been pre-ordered since the announcement!

Have you read this book, or do you have a favorite supernatural book you want to share? Be sure to let me know in the comment section!

Thanks for reading!

-Tiffany

 

Industry News, Personal

Creative Aspirations Publishing

Well, I’ve done it! I have finally decided to launch my own publishing company: Creative Aspirations Publishing! Creative Aspirations will be launching three magazines in 2019, and we’re open to submissions!

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Here’s more information about our three digital magazines:

Haute Couture Society (Launching January 2019!)

Explore fashion trends and the latest beauty breakthroughs in this life and style magazine. Other regular features include essays about relationships, stories about women in power, and articles about body positivity. Haute Couture Society is committed to inclusivity.

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The Genre Journal (Launching February 2019!)

Read fiction from emerging writers in all genres with this periodical. Whether you love romance, mystery, science fiction, horror, fantasy, or even westerns, we have stories to entertain and enlighten you in each issue.

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Abstraction & Allegory (Launching March 2019!)

Art and poetry collide in this quarterly journal. Peppered between pages of poetry, you’ll find visual art from all over the globe.

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If you’re a writer, poet, fashionista, beauty blogger, photographer, or artist, I hope you’ll consider contributing. Please visit our submissions page for more information.

I’m really nervous and excited about this endeavor. Stay tuned for more details (and potential subscription coupons!)

Thanks for reading,

Tiffany

Book Review

Book Review: Aim True by Kathryn Budig

Sometimes, self-improvement books can be really frustrating. Often, they’re filled with bad advice or they just feel super impractical. However, every so often, I stumble upon a truly amazing one and then I just have to share. The most recent one I’ve been loving is: Aim True: Love Your Body, Eat Without Fear, Nourish Your Spirit, Discover True Balance! by Kathryn Budig.

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Like most females, I don’t always feel super positive about my body. Well, in this book, renowned yoga instructor Kathryn Budig delivers solid advice for loving yourself inside and out. She also has a lot of anecdotes about her own experiences with body image, mental health, and physical health. Her writing style is light and humorous, and it almost felt like I was reading a very long letter from a new friend than reading a book.

This book includes a lot: recipes, yoga guides, meditation guides, and self-care/homeopathy tips. But what I loved most was the personal, honest way that Budig shares her own journey. Even if you’re not in to yoga, I think this one is worth giving a try because it’s just so positive an uplifting.

I highly recommend this book for all women, but especially those who sometimes struggle with their self-esteem and body image.

Thanks for reading,

Tiffany

 

 

Movie Review

Movie Review: Witch Hunt (2017)

Well, it’s nearly mid-August, so my mind is already wandering towards Halloween! Summer is great, but my favorite season has always been Autumn – from the crisp air to the cardigans to the horror movies. So, as I’ve been gearing up for the upcoming changing of the seasons and trying to decide what my costume will be (all suggestions welcome!) I’ve been thinking a lot about horror movies. One that I saw recently on Amazon Prime that has really stuck with me is Witch Hunt, an independent film that just came out last year. You can watch this one FREE on Amazon Prime if you’re a member.

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I’ll admit that when I first turned this one on, I was a bit hesitant about the acting in the beginning, but overall, I’m so glad that I stuck with it. It was so well-written and fresh for a horror movie. Let’s dissect some of the elements:

*Plot – The plot of this one was really interesting. Five young women gather for a birthday party and end up playing a nostalgic board game from their youth. But the board game, called “Witch Hunt,” may not be quite the innocent experience they remember. There are plenty of twists and turns here, as well as paranoia befitting of the Salem Witch Trials (of which there are several clever allusions).

*Characters – Viewers learn about the characters very gradually in this movie, and that is a big strength. It’s rare for a horror movie to be truly character-driven, but that’s what we have here. In this movie, there are so many psychological elements to unpack: female friendship, childhood trauma, religious fervor, sexuality, and more.

*Style – I adored the stylistic way that this movie unfolds. With each round of the game, we learn more about a specific character. It has a very unique but defined structure. I actually finished the movie and immediately wanted to watch it again because it was such a refreshing take on the genre.

*Scare Factor – For a horror movie, this one is extremely light on fright. There is very little gore or jump scares. Rather, this movie is propelled by its suspense and evocative atmosphere.

* Final Verdict – I loved this movie! I would definitely recommend it to those who like psychological or character-driven horror. And, since it’s not really scary, I think this would be a fun movie for anyone to watch for Halloween!

Thanks for reading!

-Tiffany

Personal

First Acceptance Since Grad School

The life of a writer is filled with rejection. After a while, you learn to not take it personally in order to stay sane. The other day, I noticed an email from a publisher in my inbox, so I started reading the email. I guess I’m so accustomed to hearing “no” that it took me a while to realize I was reading a “yes!”

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One of the short stories (“Nature’s Graveyard”) from my MFA thesis is going to appear in the Emerging Ohio Writers anthology published by Z Publishing. This book will be available for purchase in September! (Just in time for my birthday!)

Anyway, I wanted to share the good news, especially since this is my first acceptance since completing my MFA at the end of March. I hope there are many more to come!

 

Book Review

Book Review: Magick & Mayhem

I love the wide variety of subjects that come up in the cozy mystery genre. You can find almost any hobby, profession, or setting if you look around at Cozy-Mystery.com (my favorite resources for finding new cozies to read!)

Even though it’s July, I’ve been thinking a lot about Halloween because my coworkers and I are trying to decide what our costume theme will be. Because of this, I’ve been in the mood for something spooky and paranormal. While no cozy is really spooky, I have found some great paranormal picks, and one of my new favorite series is the Abracadabra Mystery series by Sharon Pape, which begins with the book Magick & Mayhem.

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First off, can we just acknowledge how adorable this cover is? I love it so much!

This book starts off with our spunky protagonist Kailyn Wilde who unexpectedly inherits her grandmother’s shop and ends up stumbling upon a murder. This jumpstarts a very cozy and humorous adventure through this small-town infused with magic.

Kailyn comes from a long line of magical descendants, and some charming (literal) ghosts from her past help to guide her along the way. As she tries to prove her best friend’s innocence in this murder mystery, Kailyn also learns more about her powers and grows stronger in her magical practice. This book sets up a unique world of magic mystery. I was so pleased by the balance between traditional magical elements and fresh, new twists on the typical cozy witch story.

The mystery itself was more detailed and richly plotted than the average cozy mystery. I enjoyed the adventure and the great world-building. Rather than stumbling upon clues, Kailyn and her sidekicks are smart and resourceful. They are really solving puzzles here to discover the identity of the real murderer.

Kailyn is a really fun protagonist who is kind of insecure about her powers. She’s got a lot of growth to do, so I think this is the start of a really wonderful series where she will get more and more confident with each book. There are three books so far in this series, and I hope many more are to come.