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Start your Writing Journey

Saturday, August 18, 2018

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Like everything else in life, the creativity to write has to start somewhere.  It might come easy for some, but for most of us,  it requires a lot of reading (I mean A LOT), and the habit of writing...

Some authors have a certain daily writing routine while others don't even write every day.  Finding what works to get your juices flowing will come with discipline and time.

As much as I love doing Book Reviews, my other favorite blog post is when I get to interview authors, because I love to ask them what kind of magical potion they drink to create that great plot.  I have not figured out the correct formula, but in the meantime, I did find some VERY helpful sites, which I keep returning to.

Save this list by your desk, and whenever you find yourself falling into the rabbit hole called writer's block, visit one of these sites.

 Good Luck on your Writing Journey!

Writer's Digest -  You don't have to subscribe to their magazine in order to access all the resources they have on the site, including weekly writing prompts, contests and competitions, conference listings, and online exclusive articles.

Tomi Adeyemi For Writers -  Yes, that's the author of Children of Blood and Bone.
Tomi's site has free writing classes and writing resources, and who wouldn't want writing advice from the young lady that is making waves all over the world?  - WTD has "unmissable articles on writing".  It's easy to browse this site and forget about everything else that needs to be done (like feed the dog, cook dinner, pick up the kid from soccer)...

Writers Write - I just love their Creative Writing Articles, Tips and Online Courses!  Full of helpful information.  Don't forget to check out their 12 Short Stories Challenge

Write it Sideways - A collection of 390+ articles for aspiring and emerging writers, written by those who have gone before.  - "write more. white better. write smarter."
How can you not like a site with these lines?  It's got classes, articles, writing resources and even a podcast.  If you haven't visited this site yet, you're missing out.

“We are all apprentices in a craft where no one ever becomes a master.”
—Ernest Hemingway

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The Darkest Star by Jennifer L Armentrout

Thursday, August 16, 2018


Book Review

BOOK REVIEW: The Darkest Star by Jennifer L Armentrout

Release Date: October 30th, 2018
Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction
368 Pages
Publisher: Tor Teen
I rated 4 stars on Goodreads


When seventeen-year-old Evie Dasher is caught up in a raid at a notorious club known as one of the few places where humans and the surviving Luxen can mingle freely, she meets Luc, an unnaturally beautiful guy she initially assumes is a Luxen...but he is in fact something much more powerful. Her growing attraction for Luc will lead her deeper and deeper into a world she'd only heard about, a world where everything she thought she knew will be turned on its head...

"There it is. The GREAT and POWERFUL Origin known as LUC.  I'm so scared".


Are we alone in the Universe?
Have aliens visited earth?
Do they come in peace?

These are regular questions that any science fiction book/movie lover has asked throughout the years.

Imagine that aliens are real, and already walk among us on earth.  The Government is aware of them but never told the public about them.  They are called Luxen.  And they just want to live peacefully... 

4 years after the invasion, Luxen need to be registered and wear a bracelet that cancels their powers.  They go to school and live normal lives (or almost normal) and the government is planning on transferring them to segregated communities.  Add that to the fact that not all humans are happy to have aliens as neighbors (sound familiar?).

This is the first book I read from Jennifer L Armentrout and oh boy, I now know why she has so many followers and her books are such International Best Sellers!   

I got a signed Advance Copy of The Darkest Star at BookCon and wanted to read it prior to its publication day.  I really enjoyed reading this book.  It has the right measure of science fiction, government conspiracy, teenage love, secrets, lies, smart humor, plot twists and funny t-shirts (yes, funny t-shirts, but we'll get back to that soon).  

Armentrout focused on the relationship between Evie and Luc, and you can't help but love their back and forth talks, always with the right amount of teenage sarcasm.  Overall, I think that even if you don't usually read Sci-Fi stories, this one will still be a good read.  Although I felt the ending a bit predictable, there were plenty of plot twists that I didn't see coming and there's certainly a few secrets that will need to be revealed on the next book of this series. 

I have a feeling that we'll learn a lot more about Evie's past on the next book. And Luc?  I need more Luc in my life...

Also, you don't have to read the LUX series prior to reading this book.  I actually am interested in reading them but you actually don't need to in order to follow the story line on The Darkest Star.

Would I recommend this book?  YESPre-order your copy now.  

Why did I mention Funny T-shirts?
In one of the chapters of the book, Luc shows up wearing a t-shirt that reads DILL WITH IT, with a pickle underneath the words, wearing...sunglasses :-)  

I SO Want One of Those!!!!!!
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Before and Again by Barbara Delinsky

Thursday, August 9, 2018


Book Review

BOOK REVIEW: Before and Again by Barbara Delinsky

Release Date: June 26th, 2018
Genre: Fiction
558 Pages
Publisher: St. Martin's Press

Mackenzie Cooper took her eyes off the road for just a moment but the resulting collision was enough to rob her not only of her beloved daughter but ultimately of her marriage, family, and friends―and thanks to the nonstop media coverage, even her privacy. Now she lives in Vermont under the name Maggie Reid, in a small house with her cats and dog. She’s thankful for the new friends she’s made―though she can’t risk telling them too much. And she takes satisfaction in working as a makeup artist at the luxurious local spa, helping clients hide the visible outward signs of their weariness, illnesses, and injuries. Covering up scars is a skill she has mastered.

Her only goal is to stay under the radar and make it through her remaining probation. But she isn’t the only one in this peaceful town with secrets. When a friend’s teenage son is thrust into the national spotlight, accused of hacking a powerful man’s Twitter account, Maggie is torn between pulling away and protecting herself―or stepping into the glare to be at their side. As the stunning truth behind their case is slowly revealed, Maggie’s own carefully constructed story begins to unravel as well. She knows all too well that what we need from each other in this difficult world is comfort. But to provide it, sometimes we need to travel far outside our comfort zones.


I think the worst thing that can happen to any parent is the loss of a child.  The emotional domino effect can bring down even the strongest…with feelings such as guilt, blame, “what-ifs”, depression…Some people pull away from their families completely.  Others deal with grief in whatever ways will make them emotionally numb. 

You’re hit with the heartbreaking news right in the first chapter of this novel.  At that point, I thought to myself that if this book was going to be depressing, and in order to avoid all the tears, I should just give up before moving to chapter 2.

I didn’t give up and I’m glad I continued reading it.

Maggie seems to have succeeded in building a new life for herself.  She likes her job, working as a makeup artist at a well established spa.  She has friends (although only one knows about her past life).  She loves her pets: 2 cats and 1 dog.

Yeah, Maggie's life is good...but is she happy? Or is she just surviving?

Once people from her past start showing up in her "perfect" Vermont town, Maggie's life is shaken, and a river of emotions surface.  Add to this, the developing story of a troubled teenager, son of a co-worker, someone she considers a friend, and all of a sudden, the thing she treasures the most, CONTROL, becomes non-existent in her life.

This book reminds us that even through sadness and grief, we cannot carry the past with us.  Life moves on.  And we need to learn to cherish the happy memories, because memories, are all we really have left.

"When we lose someone we love, we can either die with them or live on to celebrate their life."

Yes, the story was emotional (no way of escaping that), but it was also humorous.  The characters were enjoyable, which made it even easier to read.  They were also so real, with flaws, not picture-perfect.

And the cover!  Oh my!  It took me a while to figure out that it was make-up!  The fact that it represents the making/creation of a new person when we’re hiding away from the past…Brilliant!

I really enjoyed reading this book.  Thank you BookSparks and #SRC2018 for my free copy in exchange for an honest review.
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Summer Getaway in Rio

Saturday, August 4, 2018


Rio, the "Marvelous City"


Rio is home to phenomenal views, which make this city a dream destination.  It's one of those places that you need to visit at least once in your lifetime.  You'll find mountains, beaches, music and friendly people, all in one place. It's a travel destination with perfect weather year round.  We went in July, their summer, and the average temperature was 78 F.

I'm originally from Rio (that's why I'm so friendly) and even though I grew up there, the truth is, I have lived in the US longer than in Brazil.  But I can't stay away too long, so I try to go every 2 years.

A few things you need to know before you book a trip to Rio (or any other destination in Brazil):

The Official Language is Portuguese.
The current Population is estimated at 208 million.
Brazil is the Fifth Largest Country by Area and Sixth Most Populous in the world.


Brazil is one of the most multicultural and ethnically diverse nations, due to the strong immigration from various places in the world.

Now that we got that out of the way, let's move on to some Awesome Places and Tips!

1) Getting there
If possible, fly direct to Rio.  A lot of flights stop in Sao Paulo, which I try to avoid at all costs, cause a few things can happen once you land in Sao Paulo:
a) if your flight was delayed for any reason, chances are you will lose your connecting flight to Rio, which can take hours till they put you in another flight :-(
b) once you land in a foreign country, you need to go through customs and pick up your bags, and, depending on the number of flights that have to go thru customs, you can be delayed and lose your connecting flight.
I learned it the hard way, so this is a tip from someone that got delayed way too many times...

2) Where to stay
When booking a place to stay, a good rule of thumb is to stay in either, Ipanema, Leblon or Copacabana.  From any of those places, you'll have direct access everywhere via Metro, bus or Uber and the beach will be within walking distance.

Famous Boardwalk

3) Mobile Service (unless you're going to unplug)
Ask your mobile service if they'll provide you service while out of the country and what kind of costs are involved.  I have T-Mobile and get free service, including data when traveling to certain countries (Brazil is one of them), which saves me a ton of money.  Companies are always changing plans, and maybe for a small fee you'll be able to avoid the roaming charges.

4) Be a smart traveler
What does that mean?
Do not walk around with flashy jewelry, expensive cameras and handbags, dressed in a Hawaiian shirt (even though Rio is not Hawaii), thinking that you're doing a great job blending in.
Do yourself a favor and keep all important documents stashed away in the hotel safe (you can carry a copy of your passport with you), carry 1 credit card and a small amount of cash.
Keep it simple.
Save yourself the trouble. 

5) Local Food & Real Coconut Water!
Brazilian cuisine is as diverse as its people, with African, European, Asia (mostly Japanese) and Amerindian influences.  It varies greatly by region, reflecting the country's mix of native and immigrant populations, and its continental size as well.

The country's National dish is Feijoada (a stew os beans and pork, of Portuguese origin) and the National cocktail is caipirinha (made with cachaça, sugar and lime).

I love the ocean.  Give me a beach, a pair of flip flops and a book and I'll be happy.  Oh, and drinking coconut water at the end of a walk on the beach is such a gift also...but I'm getting sidetracked. Sorry.

Rio de Janeiro

6) Brazilian Culture & What is Samba?
Something else you can encounter while walking on Copacabana beach boardwalk: a statue of Carlos Drummond de Andrade (a Brazilian poet and writer, considered by some as the greatest Brazilian poet of all time).  I stopped by for a chat, and since he wasn't very talkative, I gave him a bookmark of my blog.

Carlos Drummond de AndradeA city was written on the ocean

Samba is a Brazilian musical genre and dance style, with its roots in Africa via the West African slave trade and African religious traditions, particularly of Angola and the Congo (thanks Wikipedia).  Samba has become an icon of Brazilian national identity (remember the animated movie, Rio?).

If you search "samba" on Spotify, you'll get a list long enough to entertain you for hours!  Here's just one of the songs that I happen to like:

7) Christ the Redeemer, Sugar Loaf, Selaron Stairs, Vista Chinesa...
These are the must-see spots in Rio.  Your best bet is to book a tour provided from the hotel, that way, you'll avoid rush hours, get pre-sold tickets and go with a tour guide.

Christ the Redeemer

8) Forget the "Favela Tours"
And here's why I say this - in my opinion, these tours exploit, rather than support.  And, they really can't guarantee your safety once you're there.
That's not just in Rio.  I would not recommend taking a tour in south L.A. either.

If you're looking for something adventurous to do while in Rio, how about a hang gliding tour?

9) Fun Fact
A person born in Rio is called Carioca (just like New Yorkers, Texans, etc.)

10) Paradise nearby - Regiao dos Lagos
When cariocas want to escape the chaotic life in Rio, they usually go to an area called Regiao dos Lagos, which is where we headed this year.  The 3.5 hrs drive from Copacabana was well worth once we got there.

My favorite beach in this area is Buzios, which is a popular tourist destination, especially among Brazilians and Argentinians.  This particular beach became internationally famous in 1964, when the French actress Brigitte Bardot visited.  There's even a statue of the actress in one of the beaches in Buzios.

We stayed at a nice Resort called Serena and we were not disappointed.  The staff was very helpful and the rooms were just as beautiful as the images on the website.


That concludes my summer adventure.  Do you have any upcoming plans?

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The Sunshine Blogger Award

Thursday, August 2, 2018

Sunshine Blogger Award 2018

Woohoo!!!   I got nominated for The Sunshine Blogger Award 2018!   That was such an unexpected surprise, that I was actually speechless - and THAT does not happen very often!!!

A Huge Thank you Nancy Mulligan at My Everyday Challenges for the nomination!  Please visit her blog and follow her journey when you have a chance.

The ‘Sunshine Blogger Award’ is all about recognizing bloggers for being positive, inspiring and creative.   This award is voted by bloggers, to acknowledge their achievements and offer support.  I'm so lucky to be part of this supportive community!

What are the rules of the Sunshine Blogger Award?
  •  Thank the blogger who nominated you and link their blog so others can find them.
  • Answer the 11 questions which the blogger who nominated you asked.
  • Nominate 11 bloggers and ask them 11 different questions.
  • List the rules and display the Sunshine blogger award logo in your post and/or on your blog site.


1. What motivated you to start blogging?
I love to read and I started a Book Club last year that now has 95 members, which is pretty awesome.  My goal is to polish my writing skills and actually write a book the next couple of years.  I decided that blogging could give me the best of both worlds: reading and writing, so I jumped right into it and do not regret it!

2. What hobby would you get into if time and money weren’t an issue?
Hmmm, if time and money were not an issue, I would be traveling the world, sitting at cafes and writing about the people I met.

3. What fictional place would you most like to go?
That's an easy one!  I would love to get lost in Diagon Alley, from the Harry Potter Series, which is the magical place where all the amazing bookshops and other magical goods stores are found!

4. Are you usually early or late?
Oh I'm always early and actually dislike people that are constantly late :-(

5. What are some small things that make your day better?
A random text from my husband telling he's thinking of me; a chat with a friend; the knowledge that I made someone smile...

6. What is one of your favorite smells?
I love the smell of the ocean.

7. What age do you wish you could permanently be?
Do you mean if I could be an immortal? Gee, I guess I'd like to be 35 forever!

8. If your life was a book, what would its title be?
The Infinite Discovery of Self

9. What’s the best thing about you?
My ability to determine the best course of action, even when my emotions are involved.

10. What is the strangest thing you have come across?
I used to sleepwalk when I was about 8 or 9 yrs old and one night, while my dad was watching TV, he said that I got up from my bed and headed to the front door.  As I started turning the key to open the door, my dad calmly guided me back to bed.  After that night, the front door key was always hidden, to avoid the little "sleepywalker" from going out.  The strange thing is that to this day I have no recollection of any of this and as far as I know, I have not been sleep walking since...

11. What is something you will NEVER do again?
Going on a Rollercoaster.  I'm afraid of heights (ok, I said it) and going on a rollercoaster ride literally scares me to death.  I have tried to face this fear but I would rather leave it alone (for now at least).

And here are my 11 Nominations:

  1. Nikki from Saturday Nite Reader
  2. Cailin from Stumbly
  3. Manon from Cafe Manon
  4. Emily from Yes Whale
  5. The Wandering Nobody
  6. Lily from Living with Lils
  7. Laura from She Will Write
  8. Shirley from Shirley Cuypers
  9. Ellie from The Longing Wanderer
  10. Kelly from Paperback Adventures
  11. Emma from Out of the Dark and into the Beauty

My 11 Questions to the Nominees (Drum Roll Please) :

1. What do you expect to get out of blogging?
2. What is the most valuable thing you've learned from blogging?
3. Best advice you have ever received?
4. Recent milestone you have reached
5. Tell us three things about yourself
6. What's you daily blogging routine?
7. If you could sit down for a chat with someone (dead or alive), who would it be and why?
8. How do you come up with content for your posts?
9. What's your favorite post of all times (give us the link)?
10.  Favorite TV series (that you could watch anytime)?
11. If you could live anywhere, where would you live and why?

I truly hope you enjoyed reading this, and thank you again for the nomination and for all the support I have been given so far!
I'm looking forward to reading the answers from the 11 Nominees listed above (enjoying the sunshine of course) !

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My Bookish Summer Blog Hop: Indoor or outdoor reader

Sunday, July 29, 2018


Wow! The month of July just flew by!

Welcome to stop #29 of the Bookish Summer Blog Hop!  This has been such a great way to get to know a bit more of the book blogger community!

Today's question is: Are you an Indoor or an Outdoor Reader?

Kelli Quintos

Indoor. Easily. I need A/C in the Texas heat and I don’t want to have to worry about mosquitos or creepy crawlers landing on me or my book when I’m outdoors. I can handle short bursts of outdoor reading every once in a while, but I do my marathon reading from the comfort of my couch.

Jo Linsdell

Indoor reader for sure. I like to be comfy, and have peace and quiet when I read. Outdoors there’s too many distractions. I will sometime take my ipad with me when I take my kids to their swimming or jiu jitsu training so I can read whilst they train but I find it harder to get into the story. I much prefer reading at home from the comfort of my bed.

I am definitely an outdoor reader. I like to be out in the sun and listen to the birds!

I would be an outdoor reader IF allergies and pests weren’t Things That Exist To Make Me Miserable. Get me a place with plenty of shade, protection, and nothing but a nice breeze (like in a screen tent or something) and I would 100% definitely read outside. But barring the absolute pristine circumstances, I generally tend to do my hardcore binge-reading inside, preferably in an armchair with a soft blanket.

Indoor if I’m reading e-books because I hate using a screen outdoors. Or, if it’s rainy or the flies are bad. It’s been a bad year for flies.
I like reading outdoors though if the weather is nice and I have a good paperback. I like sitting on the beach and reading while my kids build castles or just sitting on the deck with a good book while the kids are being kids. I once read Tommyknockers by Stephen King in one day just sitting on the deck while the kids were playing.

Marcia Marques (me)

I would love to read outdoors more often, but due to the weather and the fact that I read in the early hours of the morning, I tend to read indoors.

Thank you all for participating, reading and supporting the #BookBloggers Community!

If you haven't had a chance to check out the other daily questions, please do so... Here's the schedule!

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Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi

Saturday, July 28, 2018


Audiobook Review

Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi
Release Date: March 6th, 2018
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
Audible Audio, Narrated by Bahni Turpin, 18hrs 9mins
Publisher: Macmillan
I rated 5 stars on Goodreads


Tomi Adeyemi conjures a stunning world of dark magic and danger in her West African-inspired fantasy debut.

They killed my mother.
They took our magic.
They tried to bury us.
Now we rise.

Zélie Adebola remembers when the soil of Orïsha hummed with magic. Burners ignited flames, Tiders beckoned waves, and Zélie's Reaper mother summoned forth souls.

But everything changed the night magic disappeared. Under the orders of a ruthless king, maji were killed, leaving Zélie without a mother and her people without hope.

Now Zélie has one chance to bring back magic and strike against the monarchy. With the help of a rogue princess, Zélie must outwit and outrun the crown prince, who is hell-bent on eradicating magic for good.

Danger lurks in Orïsha, where snow leoponaires prowl and vengeful spirits wait in the waters. Yet the greatest danger may be Zélie herself as she struggles to control her powers - and her growing feelings for an enemy.


I have to admit I was a bit skeptic about all the hype around this debut YA fantasy novel.  I had seen pictures of Children of Blood and Bone popping up everywhere but my TBR list being currently so looong and the fact the book is 530 pages did not convince me.  All of a sudden it was BookCon in NYC,  and while waiting for Stephanie Garber to sign my copy of her book, I found myself chatting with Tomi Adeyemi (what are the odds of that?).  I don't believe in coincidences and after reading the book I could say that "it was a sign from the Gods"...

Orïsha is a world rooted in African myths.  There are 10 Maji Clans in Orisha and each clan possess a unique, magical gift.  Majis and Diviners are marked with white hair, which sets them apart from everyone else.  Maji and their families are imprisoned, used as slave labor, called “maggots,” and abused by guards everywhere. They live in constant fear of their tyrant king, who will stop at nothing to make sure magic won't return to Orïsha.

“Mama used to say that in the beginning, white hair was a sign of the powers of heaven and earth. It held beauty and virtue and love, it meant we were blessed by the gods above,” Zélie says. “But when everything changed, magic became a thing to loathe. Our heritage transformed into a thing to hate.”

The plot is phenomenal.  Adeyemi delivered a well-crafted, action-packed story.  The character-development is also amazing.  Princess Amari grew from a weak girl, full of doubts, into a fighter, the future queen.   The bond that developed between Zelie and Amari was my favorite part.  In the world of  King Saran, they should hate each other, yet, they learned to trust each other and became friends.  Amari's brother, Inan, was a character that I disliked and did not trust, but he was an important piece of the puzzle and I do believe his secrets will be uncovered in book 2 of the series.

Did I mention that the book ends in a cliffhanger that will keep you waiting for book 2?

This book deserves ALL the Hype!
Every Fantasy needs a savior and Children of Blood and Bone gives you a worthy Heroine right from the start.  A girl.  A black girl.  Chosen by the Gods to restore magic.  Oh, the world has been waiting for this...

If you haven't read it yet, do yourself a favor, and grab a copy!  You won't regret it :-)

Insteresting Fact:  as I read the book, a lot of the African names sounded somehow familiar.  I later found out that Adeyemi studied West African mythology and culture in Brazil, which is the country where I grew up, and heard a lot of these words (spelling might differ from the book) : Orixá, Ogun, Axé, Yemanjá and Oxumaré.

I alternated between the hard cover book and the audiobook, but the audiobook narrator did such a splendid job, that I read (listened) to 80% of the book.

The next installment, “Children of Virtue and Vengeance,” is scheduled for release in March, 2019.  The movie is believed to be released between book 2 and book 3.

What is your Maji Clan?  Take the QUIZ at to find out which clan you're in!

by Tomi Adeyemi

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