Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Review of Passion and Propriety by Elise deSallier

I first became acquainted with the work of Elise deSallier when she was writing some of the highest caliber fan fiction I have ever read; her stories were positively addicting, and as I wrote review after glowing review, we began to correspond, especially regarding our experiences with chronic illness. 

Then she republished my favorite fan fiction story, A Forbidden Love in two parts: Innocence and Protection. A few weeks ago, I reviewed these two volumes which together tell the tale of the lovely and brave Annaliese and her marquis. With such compelling characters and edge-of-the-seat plotting, I enjoyed the published novels just as much as (if not more than) the original fan fiction story. 

After republishing her very popular and success fan fiction, Elise deSallier started writing a new series called Hearts of Honour, the first book of which is Passion and Propriety. When I read the opening chapter of this new book at the end of Protection, I was immediately hooked and quickly obtained a copy…which I read from first to final page in well under 24 hours. Yes, it was that good—and yes, it surpassed Innocence and Protection by a mile…even several miles. ;)

The unlikely heroine, Hannah, daughter of the village rector, nurses the cursed Viscount Blackthorn when he returns to his ancestral home to die from wounds encountered on the battlefield. Refusing to amputate his infected arm, William Blackthorn chooses to die rather than lose his limb and endure life as a cripple. Hannah enlists the help of her lifelong friend and talented herbalist, and together they save Blackthorn’s arm and his life. 

Why does Hannah take on nursing a stranger in his ancestral home, unchaperoned? Hannah is nearly thirty and is considered by the townspeople to be a spinster; in addition, she recalls fond memories of playing with William when they were children. But William returns not only on the brink of death but also with a terrible curse: the wives of the last several Viscounts Blackthorn, including William’s own father, have lost their wives to childbirth. Thus, William plans to never marry and thus to carry the curse to his grave.

But thanks to Hannah’s dedicated nursing, he survives. And the events that unfold as the story progresses are riveting indeed. The characters are wonderfully human and believable; they stole my heart and my imagination immediately. The story lines are complex yet clear; each twist and turn is surprising yet makes perfect sense. (Caution: contains some detailed intimate scenes.) I was positively spellbound by this book, and I am thrilled that Elise de Sallier has at least two more books planned for this series. If they are as amazing as Passion and Propriety, I shall be a very happy reader indeed. 

Link to Passion and Propriety Amazon page for purchase

Link to Elise deSallier's Amazon site

Link to Elise deSallier's Goodreads page 

Happy Reading!
~Cassandra :)

Monday, August 11, 2014

Book Reviews: Innocence and Protection by Elise deSallier

I originally read Elise deSallier's books Innocence and Protection as a fan fiction under the title Forbidden Love on Because I have always been enamored by Regency-era books (even before I read Jane Austen), I was immediately drawn into Ms. deSallier's story of a shy eighteen-year-old girl who is forced to escape when her father's heir comes to claim his inheritance by shooting her father. The heir then plans to force the girl to marry him, but under her father's direction, she flees with two servants to the safety of her father's best friend, a powerful duke. 

However, the duke just left the previous day for an extended honeymoon with his new wife, and, assuming that her father is dead, the girl is forced to masquerade as a servant in order to stay in the duke's home. As her father told her to reveal her true identity only to the duke himself, the girl believes that she will be safe since the duke enforces an unusual policy against the family and guests in his home fraternizing with the servant girls, a true rarity in this time and place. Thus the girl believes that she will be safe until the duke's return. But then the duke's son, a handsome marquess, is immediately drawn to her despite her servant status and his father's firm policy against such fraternization....

I thoroughly enjoyed reading Innocence and Protection, but I must raise a caveat that there are graphic scenes depicting intimate acts. These scenes can be easily skipped over if reading them is problematic.

I enjoyed the original fan fiction so much that I read it three times, and now to read this tale as a published pair of novels is a real treat. The characters are unforgettable, the plot compelling, and the writing well-developed and polished. I prefer the plot of Innocence slightly more than that of Protection, but both novels work together to tell the story of a young, frightened, innocent girl rising to the occasion as she is caught up in various sorts of intrigue. Both books also deal with important social situations of the British Regency era as well: the abolition of the slave trade and the plight of young girls forced into untenable situations, either by employers or by slave traders of a different sort.      

Thus, this pair of novels (and they must both be read together; they cannot stand alone) go beyond mere romance to explore the social situation of women in the Regency era. While the romance is the main story line of Innocence and Protection, the issues of marriage, power, class, and women's social position create a compelling and memorable tale that will not be soon forgotten.     

Both books are available on Amazon in print and e-book form:
Elise deSallier's Amazon page

Elise deSallier has also just released the first book in the Hearts of Honor series called Passion and Propriety. I read an excerpt from this new book at the end of Protection and was definitely drawn into the story; I'll be reading and reviewing it in the near future. 


Cassandra :)

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

New On-Shot: "Weeping May Endure for a Night..."

Back in April during the first Camp NaNoWriMo 2014, I was scribbling a couple of stories in a notebook while also typing away on Only by Moonlight. While one of these stories was the beginning of the sequel to Evening Star (still unnamed as yet), the other was written for a TwiFic Doctorward Contest. But I didn't have time to finish the story before the June 4 deadline, so I shelved it for a while, allowing it to simmer on my mind's back burner as I worked my (rather generous) behind off teaching both online and in the classroom in addition to homeschooling two teenaged boybarians. 

When this month's Camp NaNoWriMo came around, I dusted off Doctorward and typed him up, adding a bit here and there. This past week gave him real substance, and by the time I sent him to the brilliant ladylibre, he was nearly ready for posting. She adored the story, giving me some great revisions where I got too wordy (naaah, never happens! <grin>), and stating that this one-shot was among the best stories I had ever written. Even my husband, who rarely reads my fiction, read it and really liked it, too. 

So here is the beginning of this Doctorward tale entitled "Weeping May Endure for a Night...":

Weeping May Endure for a Night…

by Cassandra Lowery

            It was nearly midnight when I finally got home. Only the darkness greeted me as I entered and locked the door of our flat behind me. By force of habit, I dropped my keys into the ceramic dish on the small entryway table. Loosening my tie, I peered into the mirror hanging over the table, barely able to see myself in the glow of the city lights shining through the open windows.
            I looked like crap. Dark shadows encircled beneath my eyes, and my face was paler than usual, bordering on haggard.
            That’s the kind of word she would have used if she were here…”haggard.”
            I turned away from the mirror and paused in the kitchen doorway. Although I had managed to skip both lunch and dinner, I knew that there was no way that I could eat tonight; the knot of pain and grief in my stomach made the mere thought of food seem repulsive. Trying to ignore the slight dizziness that accompanied my lack of sustenance, I dropped onto the sofa—our sofa. Bella had loved it at first sight, choosing it for its comfort and for its rather shabby, “homey” appearance.
            She was so wise in such things.
            Most of my colleagues’ wives were focused on spending their physician husbands’ pay as quickly as it was earned, frittering away huge sums on designer clothing and spa treatments, decorating and redecorating their expensive homes as their main occupation, and sporting the latest model BMW, Audi, or Mercedes-Benz.
            Not my Bella.
            God, I missed her.    
            I rubbed at the persistent ache in my chest.
           She had decorated our home with estate sale finds, getting up at ungodly hours nearly every Saturday morning to comb through the eclectic neighborhoods of Chicago, dragging home a bureau, a bookcase, an end table, an armchair, or some other “amazing find”—along with stacks and stacks of ancient books that she “just couldn’t resist.”
            When I objected to the number of books she trundled home, she’d grin unrepentantly and declare that it was the price I had to pay for marrying a writer.
            How I adored that mischievous grin….

I hope that you'll enjoy reading "Weeping May Endure for a Night..." on both and on

I also updated Only by Moonlight last night as well, adding Chapter 14. I'm currently working on a draft of Chapter 15, and I hope to finish drafting Chapter 15 and Chapter 16 before the close of Camp NaNoWriMo. I know that I won't reach my goal of 30,000 words being written this month, but I have written, revised, editing, and polished two pieces of writing which add up to nearly 9,000 words, revising and polishing them at least four times each. 

During August, I'll be preparing for Year #18 of home education in which I'll be teaching our high schoolers in grades 9 and 12, plus preparing for three online Brave Writer courses (two of which are new Literary Analysis classes), and two courses for our home school group's co-op Class Days, one of which is a new Shakespeare class that will require a lot of preparation. But I'm still hoping to tuck more raw writing into the corners of my days (and nights) so that when fall arrives, I am hoping not to leave you hanging for two months again! :) 

Happily writing,
~Cassandra :)  

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Fan Fiction Class Begins July 7!!

I am greatly looking forward to teaching the Fan Fiction class at Brave Writer this month. This will be the third summer I've taught this class, one that I proposed to Julie, the founder and owner of Brave Writerafter I started writing fan fiction novels and stories myself in late 2010. 

I have completed two Fan Fiction novels and several short stories. I have revised one Fan Fiction story into an original novella that I entered into a contest on one of the sites where I post my writings serial-style (chapter by chapter). And my third Fan Fiction novel (now in progress at 70,000 words) will also be revised into an original novel when I complete it. Many Fan Fic authors have revised their works into original fiction, several of which have climbed (and even topped!) The New York Times Bestseller List.  

Currently my Fan Fiction novels and stories have garnered nearly 3.3 million reads/views between the two sites on which I post my work. I hope to someday turn my Fan Fiction writing into true novel writing, perhaps gaining an agent and/or publisher based of the extensive platform and readership I have built through Fan Fiction.

The Fan Fiction class has been a nice size of 8-12 students in past summers; this month I have eight students thus far, but I always get a few more joining in the fun as the date for the beginning of class approaches. 

But all that aside, Fan Fiction is a wonderful way to encourage young writers in their first attempts to write stories. They already know (and love) the characters and the world(s) these characters inhabit, so it's not difficult to come up with the plot alone. 

As Julie wrote in today's Brave Writer Daily Writing Tip:

Writing tip of the day:

Dabble in fan fiction.
Pick a favorite novel or series you've read and create a fan fiction story for it. Fan fiction is a good way to start writing stories because you already know the characters and the setting; all you need to create is the plot. Also, if you choose a well-known story such as the Harry Potter series or Jane Austen novels, an eager multitude of fans is waiting to devour your story and give you helpful critique.

Don't get caught in the trap of always writing fan fiction, though! Fan fiction is a good  starting point for learning to write an action-packed story or witty dialogue, but it's not a final destination. After all, making up your own characters and setting stretches your imagination and builds your confidence. Once you've given fan fiction a try, write your own story using the skills you've learned. 
So writing Fan Fiction is a wonderful way to encourage a young and/or reluctant writer to get writing--yes, even over the summer!! The students in this class read and critique each others' stories and then are free to post their work on one of the many Fan Fiction websites (with permission of their parents, of course). 

Join us for the fun and excitement of writing our own stories based on our favorite characters from books, movies, TV, video games, etc.!! Hurry--the class begins Monday, July 7!!

Fan Fiction class at Brave Writer

Have a terrific summer, and I'll see you in the fall with new Brave Writer classes, my courses in Expository Essay and Shakespeare at Heritage's ECII Class Days, or here as I grade essays for you!! 


PS I've also joined Camp NaNoWriMo with the goal of writing 30,000 words this month--mostly for Only by Moonlight! My newest chapter is nearly ready to send to my pre-reader, so keep a look out for it soon!! Thank you for your patience!! xxxooo

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

An Enchanted Evening: A Regency Tale

My new story, An Enchanted Evening: A Regency Tale, is being published in two ways. 

On Wattpad, An Enchanted Evening has been submitted for the Wattpad Prize 2014 as an Original Fiction story. The main characters, William and Elizabeth, struggle with love and danger at the most important ball of the entire London Season during the Regency Period (think Jane Austen). The story, just under 10,000 words, has been published in six parts and has been posted in its entirety. Here is the link for the Original Fiction version on Wattpad: An Enchanted Evening.

But on, An Enchanted Evening: A Regency Tale is being published as a Twilight fan fiction story. Also in six chapters, with new chapters being posted on Wednesdays and weekends, we see Edward and Isabella at the most important ball of the London Season. This version is slightly different from the Wattpad Original Fiction story which had to be posted in a rush because of the writing contest deadline. I am adding extra details and material to the Fan Fiction version beyond the Original Fiction version since I have time to do so as I post twice weekly until all six parts are up and complete. So there will be differences beyond the name changes between the Original Fiction and Fan Fiction versions of the story. Here is the link for the Fan Fiction version: An Enchanted Evening: A Regency Tale on FFn. The third chapter will be posted tonight. 

As I mentioned in my previous post, this story started as a dream vision Bella had in Chapter 12 of Only by Moonlight. But that ballroom scene was centered in Chicago during Edward's actual lifetime in 1918. When the scene kept growing and developing far beyond what was usable in Only by Moonlight, I set it aside to later write into its own story. I struggled as I wrote it for the World War I time period as I kept imagining a Regency ball, along with the manners and speech of that time period. So I knew before I started any revisions that this new ballroom tale would be set in London during the Regency era. 

So I hope you will enjoy An Enchanted Evening: A Regency Tale, whichever version you decide to read...or even both!! 

Here is a short excerpt from Part I as the story opens (Fan Fiction version):


            Dreamily I relaxed into his arms—into Edward’s arms—as he whirled me across the candlelit ballroom. My midnight blue gown flared around me beautifully with every turn and twirl of the intricate waltz, still considered somewhat scandalous here in London because the couples danced so closely, so intimately, with one another. Smiling widely, I gloried in my proximity to Edward, my frequently clumsy feet never hesitating as I followed my partner’s confident leading.
            The most lavish ball of the Season was being held at the Earl and Countess of Allanham’s townhouse. Anyone who was anyone coveted an invitation. And through my Aunt Jane Carville’s social connections, she had been able to obtain one of the treasured cards which had graced the mantel of the blue parlor since its arrival, announcing to all visitors that we had been invited to attend the exalted engagement.
            Pushing all other thoughts out of my mind, I tilted my head, smiling up at Mr. Edward Masen, Esquire, as he grinned back almost mischievously. But too soon the orchestra drew the waltz to a graceful close, the dancers twirling to a stop and the murmur of low conversation filling the beautifully-mirrored ballroom as the gentlemen returned their partners to the chairs along the edges of the room before seeking fresh faces and feet for the next set of dances.    
            As we vacated the center of the ballroom, Edward offered me his strong forearm which I gratefully accepted after the exertions of the dance. Extending my fan to waft cooler air toward my face, I could feel my face glowing pink due to the exercise, the heat of the crowded room, and my excitement at Edward’s kind attention.

            “Would you prefer to step out on the balcony for a moment, Miss Swan?” he asked, noticing my need for fresh air.


And I just sent Chapter 14 of Only by Moonlight to my lovely and talented pre-reader, ladylibre, yesterday. So I hope to post it this weekend as well--or soon after. 


~Cassandra :)

Saturday, April 26, 2014

New Story--Original Fiction??

Wattpad is hosting a story-writing contest in all kinds of genres: nonfiction, original fiction, etc., called The Wattpad Prize. Writers are allowed three entries each. I've tagged my Advice to Young Writers for nonfiction as "advice" works are listed. :)

But the fun news is that when I was writing Chapter 12 of Only by Moonlight, I wrote a loooong dream sequence that I had to jettison and rewrite from the ground up because it was swallowing up the chapter and getting too far afield from the storyline for ObM

What I've done is change the names of the characters, reset the setting from World War I Chicago to the Regency period in London (think Jane Austen), and greatly expanded the story. 

Currently the story is pretty much ready to post in six short chapters/parts, but I'm not sure about a couple of elements. And I need to design a cover. So I'm going to take a little time before posting to think carefully about the elements of the story (one event I'm seriously considering altering because I'm thinking it's too melodramatic). 

I'll probably post the story as a fan fic on so that everyone can enjoy it. It's mostly a fluff piece, but it's cute and romantic, and William/Edward is a wonderful hero. :)  

Anyway, look for the story to start posting on Wattpad in a day or two, and sometime later on as a new fanfic. 

And, yes, I'm still working on Chapter 14 of Only by Moonlight which will have a quite humorous scene included...if it works out the way I'm hoping, that is. It's about half-drafted. I'll hit at least the 20K mark for Camp NaNoWriMo (my goal is 30K words by April 30), but I'm not sure how far I'll actually get. 

I doubt I'll make it all the way to 30K with really only this weekend before I have to return to homeschooling. Plus I have MLA outlines to grade today for my co-op expository essay course and a week's worth of assignments to post on Shakespeare's history plays and Richard III in particular for my online Shakespeare Family Workshop. 

So I have to write around these work requirements this weekend as well. But I'm at 18,350 right now--not as much as I would have liked to have written, but more than I would have written without setting this goal. :) 

So hang on for the new story--for which I'm still bandying about titles before I can create the cover...which I will post here soon. Perhaps even later today if I get really creative. ;)

Have a great weekend, everyone!

~Cassandra :)

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Camp NaNoWriMo

Okay, I'm a-gonna do it. 

Last November's National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) was pretty disastrous. With a monthly goal of 50,000 words, I didn't even clear 12,000. Of course, I was homeschooling two teen boys, teaching two writing classes with our private school (homeschool co-op), and teaching a very extensive literary analysis class online. Those literary analysis classes suck the lifeblood out of me faster than the Volturi ever could; I often have to respond to 50-100 posts per day over four weeks!! So with that schedule, it wasn't surprising that my NaNoWriMo experience fell abysmally short.

But this month is Camp NaNoWriMo, and I've set my word goal at 30,000--that's 1,000 words/day. Totally do-able, right? Plus I only have one set of essays to grade for my writing classes through our private school (technically there are no home schools in California--we're all considered private schools--and our private school, Heritage Christian School, is the largest homeschool private study program in the whole state with nearly 500 families registered) as my students begin their MLA research essays. 

And while I am teaching an online class, it's a family workshop class (on Shakespeare--so fun!!) that's already prepared and will require minimal work from me--just checking in with the families as they do the various activities. And our own homeschool is taking the weeks off both before and after Easter, so that's half the month off from active homeschooling. 

So, in other words, I should have plenty of time to WRITE this month!! :)

Chapter 13 of Only by Moonlight was sent to my lovely and uber-talented pre-reader, ladylibre, last night, and I plan to start drafting Chapter 14 today. I spent this past weekend re-reading the whole book and jotting down ideas for future chapters, so now I feel more certain of the direction of the storyline. I've always known how I want Only by Moonlight to end; I just haven't been sure exactly how to get there. 

Plus, I have a few milestones to report on Wattpad. Only by Moonlight has just reached 25,000 reads!! Plus, Evening Star has topped 900,000 reads on Wattpad, and Pinned but Fluttering just passed 1.8 million reads there!! Thank you, Wattpad readers!! I have yet to check my Fan Fiction stats, but I'm so pleased with my readers on Wattpad. Thank you all for reading my novels and stories!! 

So I'm off to teach our morning homeschool lessons and then I have plans to write this afternoon!! :) I'll keep you posted on how Camp NaNoWriMo is going!!

Have a terrific April...which, BTW, is National Poetry Month, too!! Yay!!

~Cassandra :) 

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Carlisle and Bella...and Ghosts!

As much as I adore Edward, I must admit to having a thing for a good Carlisle and Bella pairing in fan fiction stories. My two favorite B/C fics have Carlisle as a university professor and Bella as a college student. 

Today I finished the wonderful "Original Sin" by BookwormBaby2580 as recommended on FicSisters. Seriously, I read this fic in two days; it was THAT good! We meet a free-spirited Bella who loves wholeheartedly and a broken, guilt-ridden, and intensely private Carlisle who meet--where else?--at the library. Because Carlisle isn't her professor, their relationship is allowed under USC's fraternization policy. "Original Sin" also features Jacob as a fellow college student at USC and Bella's best friend with few boundaries, Rosalie and Esme as minor-major characters, Alice and Emmett as quick appearances, and later on, Edward. I highly recommend "Original Sin"--it was well-worth my time.  

Until I read "Original Sin," my favorite B/C pairing was "Clementines" by Nachos4Children. An unlucky-in-love Bella literally runs into Dr. Cullen in the library where she works. In this case, Carlisle has Bella help him with a project which technically makes her his student, and their relationship comes under university scrutiny.

Does anyone have any other great Carlisle-Bella stories to recommend? As I have mentioned here often, Carlisle is my second-favorite character right after Edward, and I've always had a thing for doctors...ever since Dr. Brackett in Emergency! when I was a little girl.<grin> (Yes, I know--I just totally dated myself by citing a TV show from the early 1970's....sigh.) 

Carlisle has not yet entered "Only by Moonlight," but I do have plans for him to play a major role in this story. I also just realized that my first anniversary since starting to write "Only by Moonlight" passed earlier this month, March 5 to be precise. I hope to have time to work on Chapter 13 this weekend; it's about half-drafted right now. But of course, I have a week's worth of poetry lessons to prepare for my Brave Writer Playing with Poetry Workshop this weekend along with a stack of essays to grade for my Expository Essay I and II courses that I teach for our home school group's bi-monthly co-op classes. At least I already caught up on all the posts for my online poetry workshop and revised and e-mailed the handouts for starting research papers to my Expository Essay students already. If I work hard tonight, I might have some time to write tomorrow. 

But then Ghost Adventures is on TV tonight, and I consider that show to be "research" for "Only by Moonlight." Right? <wink> I am endlessly fascinated with the concept of ghosts--I have been since I was a small child and heard my first ghost story. It's just the way that God's power is so much stronger than the Enemy's that really interests me. My best friend from high school had to deal with demonic influences when she first moved to Australia, at one point waking up at 3:00 AM with a demon choking her; she managed to gasp out the Name "Jesus Christ," and the demon disappeared into the ceiling immediately. It's the epic battle between good and evil that I find endlessly fascinating. Plus, my sister-in-law can see the dead and wants to train her abilities into that of a full-fledged medium. 

So, I'd better get back to work instead of spending this Saturday writing blog posts. I wish you all the best, and thank you for reading!!

Cassandra :) 

Monday, February 24, 2014

REMINDER! Last Week to Vote "Pinned but Fluttering" as Top 10 Twilight Fan Fic of 2013!!

Yes, we're in the final week of voting at Twi Fan Fiction Recs for the Top 10 Completed Fics of 2013, and voting closes February 28th!! 

Since Pinned but Fluttering came in #8 in the January 2013 voting, thanks to my amazing readers on Wattpad and, it's among the 120 fan fics open for voting. Thank you!!

You may vote ONCE EVERY 24 HOURS THROUGH FEBRUARY 28TH at TwiFanFictionRecs-Top 10 of 2013. The works are listed alphabetically, so scroll on down to the P's to vote for Pinned but Fluttering!! Thank you!!! :D

~Cassandra :)

Monday, February 3, 2014

Book Review: The Truth in Lies

Image from

One of the most amazing perks of writing and publishing Twilight fan fiction novels chapter-by-chapter in serial-style (we're following in the literary footsteps of Charles Dickens, after all) is the amazing authors I've come to know as I read their work and they read mine. And as some of my favorite fan fiction stories are being revised into original fiction novels, these former fan fiction stories and their talented authors deserve our support.

Obviously, the most famous example of Twilight fan fictions being revised is the Shades of Grey trilogy. While I never read the fan fiction version of this bestselling trilogy, I've been a bit loathe to read them because of its blatantly erotic subject matter. However, I do want to support and spread the news of some of my favorite fan fiction authors and their amazing accomplishments.  

Jeanne McDonald is one of those authors. I read the original version of her The Truth in Lies Saga on under the pen name Sparklingwand, and I loved A Different Kind of Pain so much that I read it THREE times. (Yes, that is really *3* times--the latest over Christmas break.) So I was thrilled when the revised version of A Different Kind of Pain, now entitled The Truth in Lies was available on Amazon both in e-book and print options.

As much as I loved A Different Kind of Pain, I adore The Truth in Lies even more. Much, much more, in fact.

Here's a quick plot synopsis (minus spoilers) of The Truth in Lies: The main character, Mackenzie (formerly Bella), a speech pathologist, undergoes a traumatic experience and, when her relationship with boyfriend Nate (formerly Mike Newton) sours as a result, she moves in with her longtime best friend, the fashionable Olivia (formerly Alice). However, Mackenzie finds greater understanding, friendship, and solace in the handsome and athletic attorney, Andrew (formerly Edward), Olivia's new boyfriend, than she does from her best friend. Despite the fact that the connection and attraction between Drew and Mackenzie is immediate and undeniable, they both attempt to resist each other since Drew is still with Olivia. Complications also arise with Jared (formerly Jasper), Mackenzie's best guy friend who works with her as a music therapist and who can't stand Olivia. And, since I don't want to give away any spoilers, let's just say that "chaos ensues."

Jeanne McDonald did more than revise an already excellent novel; she completely transformed the plot details while keeping the compelling character dynamics intact; in fact, she focused and sharpened the intriguing relationships. With Drew and Mackenzie, she added more complexities, more uncertainties between them yet also removed some of the moral culpability for their feelings and actions, placing the reader squarely on their side. In the first version, some events occurred between them that would definitely be classified as "cheating." Although I loved the characters of Mackenzie and Drew in the first edition, I didn't like and couldn't approve of some of their actions which muddied my feelings toward them. And with the other main characters of Nate, Olivia, and Jared, the author made their motivations far more direct and clear-cut with fewer gray areas.

My only reservation is that I truly wonder how Mackenzie could be "best friends" with someone as unlike her as possible; the character of Olivia seems to have few redeeming qualities which makes me wonder how both Mackenzie and Drew were drawn her. The good that Alice had in her seems to be absent in Olivia, yet the plot hinges on Olivia's need to get her own way however she can, no matter whom she injures. 

In addition, new characters appear in this revised edition, such as Mackenzie's parents, while others seem to have disappeared, namely the main character's first husband (formerly Jacob who has married Leah after his divorce from Bella) and their son (formerly Sam) with Asperger's (a high-functioning type of autism) who live in a different state. The overall effect of these alterations results in a more unified story that eliminates some of the questionable moral decisions made by some characters while bringing other characters into the action, creating more direct participation and less feeling of their being mere bystanders in the resulting drama.

But the big surprise was a HUGE plot twist at the end of this first volume of The Truth in Lies Saga that I did not expect; in fact, I was simply flabbergasted in the best way. (I love it when books absolutely surprise me, and considering that I had read the earlier version of this story several times, the most recent time only a month ago, shocking me was quite an accomplishment!!) The possibility of this twist never occurred to me, and I practically dropped my Kindle, jaw unattractively agape, as I read the end of this first volume.

Admittedly, this first volume ends with quite the cliffhanger--and a rather distressing one at that. It seems impossible for good to happen to our couple at the close of The Truth in Lies. Of course, I'll have to wait until the second volume, The Certainty of Deception, is published in June to find out what happens next. The suspense is delightfully delicious, and despite the bleakness of the end of this volume, we can't help hoping that good will happen to Mackenzie and Drew, formerly Bella and Edward.

And I have to admit that I am waiting quite impatiently for June 17 to arrive....

Okay, okay, I'll admit it: I'm counting the days until the appearance of The Certainty of Deception. (Just 135 days to go!! Yay!!)

I highly recommend The Truth in Lies, the first volume of The Truth in Lies Saga. It's a human-interest story with compelling characters and a plot full of twists that somehow seem completely natural and works incredibly well, taking into careful account the characters' personalities and foibles. The few weaknesses of  A Different Kind of Pain have been remedied, and a much stronger and more suspenseful novel awaits us in The Truth in Lies

I also highly recommend following Jeanne McDonald on Goodreads and her website at as she is writing and releasing additional books in 2014 and beyond. An extremely talented writer, Jeanne McDonald is an author whose work I plan to follow for a long time to come.

I give The Truth in Lies (Book 1 of The Truth in Lies Saga) 4 1/2 stars (of 5 stars possible, a rating only given to my favorite classic novels).


~Cassandra :)

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Pinned but Fluttering Is Up for Top 10 Fave Fics of 2013!!

The lovely people at Twi Fan Fiction Recs are now listing all of the Top 10 Completed Fics for each month of 2013, and voting is now open for Top 10 Fics of 2013!! 

And Pinned but Fluttering is in the running as it came in #8 in the January 2013 voting, thanks to my amazing readers on Wattpad and Thank you!!

You may vote ONCE EVERY 24 HOURS FROM TODAY--FEBRUARY 28TH at TwiFanFictionRecs-Top 10 of 2013. The works are listed alphabetically, so scroll on down to the P's to vote for Pinned but Fluttering!! Thank you!!! :D

And I am still (yes, STILL!!) working on Chapter 12 of Only by Moonlight. This chapter has me tied up in more knots than I ever thought possible. I'm planning to spend the rest of the weekend working on it, and I'm hoping to post it by Sunday night.

I also will be posting reviews of Jeanne McDonald's amazing The Truth in Lies very soon; I'm also doing a little proofing, too--and Jeanne is so gracious that she's letting me! :) For those of you who remember the brilliant fan fic A Different Kind of Pain by Sparklingwand on FFn, this is the first volume of the original fiction version. And Jeanne has revised it beautifully!! I can't wait to share my thoughts with all of you!! :)

So now that I just finished teaching an online grammar class in January and have NO online classes to teach in February, I hope to be seeing a lot more of all of you this month!! :)

Cassandra :)


Saturday, January 4, 2014

Fan Fiction Stories I Read in 2013

In the sidebar of this blog, I keep a list of the fan fiction stories I have read each year; I also keep a list on my computer of all of the fan fiction stories I have ever read so that I know whether or not I've read a story when the title kind of rings a distant bell. 

The image above of "The Cullen Legacy" by pattyrose illustrates Cassandra's Favorite Fan Fiction of 2013, with "Copy Room" by Edward's Eternal a close second.

All of these stories are complete and were read from unless noted otherwise (some are posted on Wattpad). Some stories may have been removed either by or by the authors as they revised them into original fiction books (or took them down for other reasons). 

And yes, I read a lot of fan fiction--about 165 multi-chaptered fan fics this year, plus 41 non-fan fiction books. With my health issues, sleep is often elusive, so I read on my Kindle until sleep overtakes me. 

So here is the list of the Fan Fiction stories I have read in 2013. 

Fan Fiction Stories Read in 2013 
(in alphabetical order)

"29 Dimensions" by Catastrophia 
"A Compendium of Thoughts" by ItIsRaining 
"A Different Kind of Pain" by Sparklingwand (re-read) 
"A Getty Romance" by rinabina 
"A Home for the Holidays" by CullensTwiMistress 
"A Life Less Ordinary" by CullensTwiMistress 
"Against the Odds" by knicnort3 
"All That Jazz" by javamomma0921 
"Always" by knicnort3 
"An Angel's Promise" (Angel #3) by drotuno 
"Anatomy of a Human" by Amethyst Jackson (re-read) 
"Angel's Embrace" (Angel #2) by drotuno 
"Arrogance and Animosity" by pattyrose 
"At What Cost?" by Artemis Leaena 
"At the End of the Day" by Edward's Eternal 
"Awaken" by EdwardsEternal 
"Bear Valley" by Lady Gwenydd (re-read) 
"Beautifully Sacred" by Ailisraevyn 
"Bella's Anatomy" by CullensTwiMistress 
"Beyond Time" by TKegl (reread) 
"Beyond the Break Room" by discordia81 
"Beyond the Scope" by Catastrophia 
"Black Diamond" by Dishie 
"Branching Inward" by LifeinTheSnow 
"Breathe" by knitchick (P&P) 
"Broken Angel" (Angel #1) by drotuno (re-read) 
"Chance Encounter" by Besotted 
"Clair de Lune" by Amberdeengirl 
"Clementines" by Nachos4Children (re-read) 
"Close to the Pin" by rinabina 
"Come Closer" by Chloe Masen 
"Come Home" by samekraemer 
"Coming Home" by Sarge's Girls 
"Complicated" by LyricalKris 
"Copy Room" by Edward's Eternal
"Cracks in the Pavement" by VampiresHaveLaws 
"Cullens Go to Hogwarts" by Erica.K.Bailey (crossover) 
"Cups Full of Wishes" by Chloe Masen 
"Days Like This" by Soft Ragoo 
"Departures" by TheFicChick 
"Don't Fight It" by tardis19 (Wattpad) 
"Don't Take the Girl" by Sparklingwand (re-read) 
"Down Home" by MrsSpaceCowboy 
"Dreamcatcher" by ocdmess 
"Easy as Pie" by Edward's Eternal 
"Eddie and the Cruisers" by Holly1980 
"Empty" by Hev99 
"Evermore Experience" by dejean Smith 
"Fall to Ruin One Day" by sleepyvalentina 
"Figmentum" by thimbles 
"Five Times They Never Met" by TheFicChick 
"Forgotten" by D-Twilighter/by DeePattinson (Wattpad) 
"Fortune Favors the Bold" by capricapra 
"Foul Territory" by rinabina 
"From This Day Forward" by HopeSparkles (re-read) 
"Frontline" by MissAlex 
"Grand Jete" by stella luna sky 
"Hands-On History" by dejean Smith 
"Hard to Love" by drotuno 
"Hatchet" by PrettyKittyArtist 
"Haunted Mindscapes" by Simaril 
"Heading West" by CullensTwiMistress 
"Heavenly Scent" by infinitypoet 
"Help Wanted" (and outtakes) by Jaxon22 
"Hide in Plain Sight" by FangMom 
"High Stays the Tide" by capricapra 
"Hit by Destiny" by ocdmess 
"I Hope You Dance" by Lissa Bryan 
"I Love You" by Dooba 
"I Thought I Loved You Then" by kyla713 
"I'm Not Falling for You" by ronOReds 
"In Plain Sight" by Dishie 
"In Pursuit" by Sarge's Girls 
"Indecent Proposal" by pattyrose (re-read) 
"It Begins Like This" by iambeagle 
"Just a Number" by LyricalKris 
"Let's Get Physical" by Lalina 
"Love Hurts" by LostinFanFiction 
"Love Rescue Me" by Emmamama88 
"Make Me Believe" by Lost In FanFiction 
"Masen Rules" by CaraNo 
"Meyer University" by Sh.C. (and re-read) 
"Mise-en-Place" by callmepagliacci 
"More Than Life" by tardis19 (Wattpad) 
"My Biggest Mistake, My Greatest Salvation" by LyricalKris 
"My Perfect Match" by HappyMess 
"Nature of Love" by drotuno 
"Nine Months: A Cullen Legacy Story" by pattyrose 
"Nobody's Little Girl" by HelloElla 
"O Holy Christmas" by CaraNo 
"On These Icy Waters" by kyla713 (one-shot) 
"One Weekend" by StormDragonfly 
"Only Human" by Amethyst Jackson (re-read) 
"Osa Bella" by myg 
"Out of the Mouths of Babes" by Edward's Eternal 
"Outbound" by aftrnoondlight 
"Penalty Shot" by Edward's Eternal 
"Perhaps, Perhaps, Perhaps" by ChocolateLoverr82 
"Professionally Personal" by DH78 
"Que Sera, Sera" by Livie79 
"Reality vs. Expectations" by BellaEdwardlover1991 
"Reassigned Identity" by Mk Marle 
"Rescission" by GeekChic12 
"Sandstone Cove" by cosmogirl7481 
"Serenity's Prayer" by ladylibre 
"Seven Days to Christmas" by CullensTwiMistress 
"She Speaks Fear and Truth" by ericastwilight 
"She Will Be Loved" by knicnort3 
"Sins of My Past" by content1 (re-read) 
"Sleep on the Floor" by sexycereal 
"Snapdragon" by PrettyKittyArtist 
"Stay" by FictionFreak95 
"Suddenly" by LyricalKris 
"Summer of Salt" by lola-pops 
"Swear Not by the Moon" by hmonster4 
"Take the Ice" by bellamarie117 (re-read) 
"Teacher of the Year" by DH78 
"Terms and Conditions Apply" by TheSaintsMistress 
"Terroir" by thimbles 
"The Back Road" by TallulahBelle 
"The Cullen Girl" by evieeden 
"The Cullen Legacy" by pattyrose 
"The Daily Grind" by Emotion Masen 
"The Disillusioned" by PhoenixRising25 
"The Harvest of Avarice" by Emmamama88 
"The Lady's Champion" by javamomma0921 
"The Loving Kind" by thimbles 
"The Mail Order Bride" by Lady Gwenydd (re-read) 
"The Man in Black" by PrettyKittyArtist (re-read) 
"The Music of the Night" by theladyingrey42 
"The Other Side of Me" by BelieveItOrNot 
"The Practice of Love" by belladonnacullen 
"The Practicum" by TheFicChick 
"The Runaway Bride" by A Cullen Wannabe 
"The Search" by Amber1983 
"The Short Sugar Plum Fairy" by Amberdeengirl 
"The Silver Lining" by kimpy 
"The Sound of Silence" by Besotted 
"The Space Between the Notes" by LyricalKris 
"The Tales of a Charming TruckNapper" by MK Marie 
"The Tide Is High" by capricapra 
"The Twelve Days of Christmas" by pattyrose 
"The Wallflower and the Flyboy" by A Cullen Wannabe (re-read) 
"These Hearts Adore" by YellowGlue 
"Through the Flames" by SparklingTwilight 
"Timing Is Everything" by Virginia May 
"Tomorrow Is Another Day" by LyricalKris 
"Touching Solitude" by catharticone (and re-read) 
"Twisted" by knicnort3 
"Unexpected Circumstances" by Savage7289 
"Unintended" by knicnort3 
"Unintended: A Loss of Faith" (alt ending) by knicnort3 
"Unrequited" by Perry Maxwell 
"Until Next Time" by Lost in Fanfiction 
"Vines" by FictionFreak95 
"Virgins and Villains" by Emmamama88 
"Voices" by coloradoperson 
"Waning Moon" by mpg 
"Washed Away" by Emotion Masen 
"We Could Run" by CaraNo 
"Whatever Comes Next" by HappyMess 
"When You Close Your Eyes" by Chloe Masen 
"Where Roads Converge" by FluffyLiz 
"White Lies" by netracullen 
"Wild Turkey" by tardis19 (Wattpad) 
"Win Some, Lose Some" by Savage7289 
"With or Without You" by Rochelle Allison 
"Work of Art" by abstract way 
"Wrap You in My Arms" by Emmamama88 
"Wrenfield Hall" by Wannabe Charlotte (re-read) 

In the sidebar near the bottom, I keep a list of my favorite fan fiction stories with links, and I'll also be starting my new fan fiction list for 2014 as well. In fact, I just added two fan fics to my 2014 list this morning. ;)  

Wishing you all happy reading for 2014,
Cassandra :)