CARAMEL’S CORNER 2020

Well….by now you may have noticed that I have taken on the challenge of reviewing the books published by other WordPress bloggers – which was a terrifying prospect before I began, but now I am enjoying! I began publishing reviews back in August 2020 – roughly one every two weeks.

In case you want to check out some of the fabulous books – ALL WRITTEN BY WORDPRESS BLOGGERS! – featured on CARAMEL’S CORNER, I have put together a little list of the 2020 CARAMEL’S CORNER posts:

https://crushedcaramel.wordpress.com/2020/08/08/climbing-over-grit/

https://crushedcaramel.wordpress.com/2020/08/22/let-love-speak/

https://crushedcaramel.wordpress.com/2020/09/05/preposterous-tales-from-the-newbury-short-story-teller/

https://crushedcaramel.wordpress.com/2020/09/19/managing-the-depression-puzzle/

https://crushedcaramel.wordpress.com/2020/10/03/wish-upon-a-leaf/

https://crushedcaramel.wordpress.com/2020/10/17/heart-songs/

https://crushedcaramel.wordpress.com/2020/11/07/zion/

https://crushedcaramel.wordpress.com/2020/11/21/swinging-sanity/

https://crushedcaramel.wordpress.com/2020/12/05/we-hide-what-we-hate-about-ourselves-2/

There is more to come in 2021 – in fact I have a long list of reviews that need to be completed in my drafts folder. There are books I have read and reviewed from Ritu Bhathal, Stephen Black, Tom Burton, Esther Chilton, Nora Edinger, Sarah Fennell, Iain Kelly, Jenna Kirkpatrick, Gabriella Marie Milton, Frank Prem, Kevin Morris, Julia Tannembaum and more!

Writer, Typewriter, Author, Blogging

If you are a WordPress blogger and you have published your own book – please free to drop by and say hello and please tell me about your book! I am always interested in coming across other bloggers who love to write (as opposed to the countless robots than seem to be following me). I do have my limits, so I won’t always be able to read your book if it is graphically violent or glorifies demons etc. But I do like to support other bloggers, just as I have been encouraged and supported by other bloggers. Please feel free to leave a comment on one of my posts.

Relax, Read, Silhouette, Woman, Dog, Hang, Tree, Pet

Attention Please…

…I have an announcement to make! It’s about the scheduling of posts on my blog over the next few weeks.

Laptop, Computer, Business, Table, Paper, Flowers

I have a thousand ideas, and literally over two hundred unfinished posts in my drafts folder. But I really do have an frightfully busy month ahead and I think I need to give attention to some projects at home I have been neglecting.

Therefore…over the next few weeks I will be balancing my blog out with some fresh content – CARAMEL’S CORNER BOOK REVIEWS and SONG-LYRIC-SUNDAY – with some republishing of some of my older posts. That will just help me to take the breather I need at the moment to get on top of everything and also everyone who would like some attention from me right now.

So….are you ready for some highlights from CARAMEL (LEARNER AT LOVE) published over the last two and a half years? I truly hope you enjoy these flashback posts as much as I do!

Switching Positions

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I am very pleased to be reviewing one of the books I have bought and loved, written by one of my very favourite bloggers, Paula Light, the creator of Light Motifs II. Today I am reviewing “Switching Positions”, her romantic comedy set amidst the build up to THE American presidential election.

My biggest enjoyment factor from “Switching Positions” was the humour and energy that started from the very first page and flowed right through to the conclusion. This is why I love Paula’s blog and her books – she has what sometimes seems like an effortless comic touch. I often read just before bedtime when I am very sleepy, but I found when I was reading Paula’s rom-com than my heart was laughing so much as I read the dialogue between characters and the inner thoughts of the main characters, I did not want to sleep – I just wanted to keep reading because it was so refreshing to read such light-hearted clever wit.

White House, Usa, United States, America

So does politics drag the storyline down? Nope, not at all. I don’t even understand American politics, but Paula very cleverly and also carefully painted some of the main political leanings in what seemed like a fair and yet very funny way. I actually found it very interesting that she referred so much to how every day Americans may perceive politics and how their own changing circumstances may perhaps prompt them to weigh up their political opinions. I did feel as if her main characters are very interesting examples of how a young person may at some point ask themselves – are their ideas based simply on that of their family and friends? Or are they using their own mind, researching for themselves and making a decision that reflects their outlook on life, people, work, values?

But I want to repeat, Paula skilfully juggles the scenes in which her characters think over or voice their political opinions so that the story never becomes weighed down. Every internal conversation, and every passage of dialogue gives you a wonderful opportunity to laugh. After watching the media reports of the 2020 election, I think it is an extraordinary feat for Paula to have tackled a political setting and pulled it off in a way that makes this book so joyously playful to read.

I grew very fond of the two main characters quickly and could happily have read another twenty chapters of their developing relationship. Paula captures all the excitement, nerves, uncertainty, and wonder of a couple falling for each other and thought there are some very sweet moments, the humour is always right behind.

2020 has been depressing at times – so if you want a refreshingly playful, genuinely romantic tale, full of clever comedy and a well rounded view of the different political views that people hold in the USA (but all within that light hearted comic framework) – I would heartily recommend “Switching Positions”.

It is a delicious read and great fun! We all need more fun in 2021!

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You can find out what Caramel has been reading in her very own little reading corner, as she published book reviews of books written by WordPress bloggers each Saturday.

If you have any recommendations, please leave a message in the comments below.

CARAMEL’S CORNER

Relax, Read, Silhouette, Woman, Dog, Hang, Tree, Pet

We Hide What We Hate About Ourselves

Due to my own lack of attention to the scheduling on my blog, I realized I did not have a post scheduled for today. So, I as I had very little time last night when I came home from work, I decided that it was about time CARAMEL’S CORNER reviewed one of my very own books! (I know – how outrageous!!!) Don’t worry, there are lots of reviews from books written by other WordPress bloggers in the pipeline, but I need to finish them off, and work is depleting my mental energy. So today I will tell you a little about my very first novel, “WE HIDE WHAT WE HATE ABOUT OURSELVES”.

I still can’t believe I wrote a book! As many of you knew, I started with one flash fiction post in response to a writing prompt – but it grew. It grew and grew and grew! I found myself putting in a lot of personal thoughts, feelings and experiences. But that was not enough. I started to include conversations I had shared with friends, and some of their experiences and emotional reactions went into the story of my fictional character Annabelle Riley. So although, Annabelle and the other characters are fictional, they are very much based on very real, very personal accounts of my own and of some of my dearest friends.

I guess that is one of the reasons why no matter what I write in the future, I am always going to be deeply fond of how Annabelle’s story is revealed in “WE HIDE WHAT WE HATE ABOUT OURSELVES” (which turned out to be Part One of a three part series). Everytime I scrutinise my manuscript, trying to spot typos and errors in need of correction, Annabelle’s story still pulls enormously on my heart strings.

Anyway….I have not told you much about the story yet! Well, some of you know all about Annabelle…but for those of you who don’t – he is a basic outline of what to expect from “WE HIDE WHAT WE HATE ABOUT OURSELVES”

What started out as a lighthearted romance, ended up developing into a coming of age story of a character who for the first time in her life is really facing up to mental health challenges that she has ignored and tried to hide. We find Annabelle at a sort of crossroads in her life, in the sleepy town of Blackwood in Wisconsin. Chris Ward cannot help but notice the very beautiful and vivacious Annabelle and he tries very hard to impress her. But Annabelle is cautious to allow Chris to befriend her, and gradually we learn more about what has brought her to Blackwood and what she has been hiding from everyone who knows her. This book is much more than a romance, it is the story of a young woman learning about life, learning about forgiveness and real friendships, learning to grow as a person and make decisions regarding her future happiness, learning about trust and about love itself. Annabelle’s story became a true journey of life lessons.

I think that is enough of a teaser for now. Now, I know this is my book, and I am not going to go to town telling you how great it is (even though I am proud of Annabelle’s story), but what I will say is this…most of the feedback I have had from friends, family and others who have read “WE HIDE WHAT WE HATE ABOUT OURSELVES” is that they love the characters. I find it fascinating that of all the characters, it seems that Dean Mathers (you will have to read it if you want to know who Dean is) is the most popular. I had so much fun developing Dean’s character! The really odd thing was, I started writing Annabelle’s story before Jack and I made peace. So when I first mentioned Dean being this person in the past who had hurt Annabelle, I was thinking of Jack. So, when Jack and I got together, suddenly Dean started to become more important to the storyline.

I really really loved thinking of the characters, getting to know their personalities, their habits, their values, their ways of speaking to each other. To me, character development is one of the most satisfying aspects of writing. I drew so much inspiration from friends in developing those characters and put a lot of real life mannerisms into my fictional tale. It’s a very joyful thing to read the story and see these distinct people jump out from the page and interact with each other. I just love Ralph Crabbe and Burt and Pearl Jennings – love them!

I knew that the big debate for some readers would be between Chris Ward and Robin Grainger. I deliberately made sure that both men have their flaws and their lovable points. I loved describing the tension and jealousy between the two men.

Annabelle’s character was sometimes harder to work on. But then I realized why about half way through the story when I was talking to a publisher about Annabelle. The truth is Annabelle is quite lost at times, she is still getting to know herself throughout her story. She lets us in slowly because she is guarded about who she trusts. In the first few chapters it is mainly other characters that explain Annabelle until she starts to find her own voice and slowly reveals more about her life.

She is facing her mental health challenges for the first time, so she is up and down. She has emotional outbursts, she gets stressed and frustrated, she wants fragile at times, but she also is slowly although painfully making some progress and becoming stronger. In fact, Annabelle has a big journey ahead of her as she starts to accept help with her mental health. Book one “WE HIDE WHAT WE HATE ABOUT OURSELVES” is just the start for her.

Annabelle’s story includes some pretty heavy subjects, but I have made every attempt to keep her story overall lighthearted and easy to read, and it is my genuine hope that you will love reading her epic emotional voyage.

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You can find out what Caramel has been reading in her very own little reading corner, as she published book reviews of books written by WordPress bloggers each Saturday.

If you have any recommendations, please leave a message in the comments below.

CARAMEL’S CORNER

Relax, Read, Silhouette, Woman, Dog, Hang, Tree, Pet

Swinging Sanity

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When I started my blog on WordPress two and a half years ago, I became fascinated by the many other bloggers who had sites full of amazing poetry, fiction and personal accounts. There were so many! But some of them really stood out.

One of the sites that captured my attention and never lost it was stoneronarollercoaster.com. There was a very energetic, charismatic creative force behind each post and it was always exciting to see her latest posts appear in my WP Reader.

It is with great pleasure that I am reviewing the marvellous poetry book from N.F Mirza, “Swinging Sanity“.

This extraordinary collection of poems came from a dark and difficult stage the writer experienced, and yet she has managed to produce something very special. I sensed an intense and dramatic range of emotions at times that were woven into a vivid kaleidoscope of graphic images. Speaking of images – I think the writer’s own artwork (which is featured on the front cover) is one of the best front covers I have seen of all the books I have purchased from WordPress bloggers.

The same distinctive charismatic presence that you find in her blog posts is there from start to finish in N. F. Mirza’s poetry collection. Yes, sometimes there are elements of being on a frightening roller coaster, and in many ways I am glad that the scary side of depression is preserved. I don’t find poems ending with some choking cliche. They distill the raw experience of being in a very dark place.

Model, Beautiful, Woman, People

Yet, a dark place for you may not be the same as a dark place for me. I felt there was something truly personal to N. F. Mirza. I know from her blog that she is a remarkable creative force and that she has a vivid and colourful character. Even at her darkest, the essence, the dazzling display of who she is at heart shines through. Sometimes her emotions race like a pinball machine and other times there is more of a reflective pace.

But I was enchanted and entranced by what is an important, personal record and also a tremendous insight for others how being in a dark place can intensify emotions and leave a person shattered by inner turbulence. How wonderfully N. F. Mirza channels that forceful flow into dynamic verses and breathtaking poetry.

From what I have read on her blog, and most definitely within her collection of poems in “Swinging Sanity“, I think that learning to take deep emotions and harness them into poetic form has been key to helping N. F. Mirza on a personal level. I applaud that. I think that for some people – not being able to communicate frightening inner feelings makes depression even worse. This poet has taken some of the darkest shades of depression and not only verbalised them, but delivers them with astonishing lyricism.

Carnival, Carousel, Ferris Wheel

This is not wishy washy in any sense. “Swinging Sanity” packs a hefty punch – there is energy and drama, colour and charisma, passion and despair, ups and downs on a merry-go-round (or rollercoaster) that I wanted to read and reread over again. I really take my hat of to N. F. Mirza. She has braved taking dark, sometimes disturbing, emotions and turned them into powerful and compelling poetry.

I was left in deep admiration of her as a person, and as a dynamic and very exciting creative force. “Swinging Sanity” is a huge triumph.

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You can find out what Caramel has been reading in her very own little reading corner, as she published book reviews of books written by WordPress bloggers each Saturday.

If you have any recommendations, please leave a message in the comments below.

CARAMEL’S CORNER

Relax, Read, Silhouette, Woman, Dog, Hang, Tree, Pet

Melody Finch – The Writer, Not The Bird

I had a surprise the other day. I was showing a colleague at work how they can find my books on Amazon and next to my book appeared what seems to be a brand new children’s eco-fantasy book entitled “Melody Finch”. I read the description….a girl turns into a bird…and her educational adventure focusing on Australian wildlife.

Now, simply on the basis that they have given their book the best possible name out there, I will be buying and reviewing their book. Look out soon for a CARMEL’S CORNER post devoted to “Melody FInch”, the children’s book!

Anyway, I just want to make clear, I am the writer Melody Finch, I am not a girl who has somehow been transformed into a bird. I am Caramel and I generally write romantic comedy mixed with learning about life, about ourselves, about relationships and about how to overcome challenges and thrive.

You see….that is who I am. Melody Finch – the epic adventurer who seems to have come through challenges with pizazz and not only has lived to tell the tale, but can sing it out with gusto!

Melody Finch books include the following:

Wish Upon A Leaf

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This week I am reviewing one of my favourite books written by Teresa Grabs, who many of us know as The Haunted Wordsmith, but has now created The Word Cubby. I own five of Teresa’s books and I have shared a couple of them with the younger ones in my family. I like all of Teresa’s stories, but especially her young reader books.

Wish Upon A Leaf” is ideal for readers aged 9-12 years old. But I loved it. It is a truly heartwarming story. Very early on in the book, I became very fond of the three children, Timothy, Sarah and Edward, who are the main characters in this book, and the more their character were developed the more I wished for them to have a happy ending.

I love the way Teresa builds a vivid picture of the world surrounding the children. I also grew to like the adult characters in the story who were are concerned for the children’s welfare.

Person, Human, Child, Girl, Hat, Book

Even though it is a long time since I was a 9-12 years of age, I found the story held my attention from start to finish and firmly tugged on my heart strings. My nieces and nephews absolutely loved this story.

My own parents were concerned with the content of the books I read, so I think that authors seeking to craft a book that will appeal to children, they ought to be aware that responsible parents/guardians may wish to vet books before their children read them.

I think Teresa has done a fantastic job of crafting a delightful story which will touch young hearts and leave them with an uplifting message. I would be very happy to recommend the story to any of my friends who have children as I think they will fall in love with Timothy, Sarah and Edward, just as I did.

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You can find out what Caramel has been reading in her very own little reading corner, as she published book reviews of books written by WordPress bloggers each Saturday.

If you have any recommendations, please leave a message in the comments below.

CARAMEL’S CORNER

Relax, Read, Silhouette, Woman, Dog, Hang, Tree, Pet

Permission To Promote

ready for rhtaLittle by little I have been scrutinising and correcting the three novels in my LEARNERS AT LOVE series. I have lost track of how many times I have updated the manuscripts of each book. I am so pleased with them. I loved carefully reading Annabelle’s story again. I read part of the third book on the train journey up north, and Jack laughed at me when he saw tears trickling down my face. But it is emotional! I love the way Book Three developed.

Now that I am happier with the three books, I am going to start promoting them more. I have told my family that now I am happier with them, they can tell their friends about them. I am going to get some Vista-cards printed advertising them and I am going to visit local independent book shops and local libraries. Jack has given me lots of ideas. He also now has permission to promote them,, but subtly. I don’t want them on his social media pages, but I said he can mention the books to people he knows, but only when it is appropriate.

He said people might want to buy the books as gifts in coming months. I must say, I do find that exciting. We have so many friends who love reading and the thought of them reading Annabelle’s story sends flutters into my heart.

Books Block

I love the characters, I have been living with them in my head for eighteen months already. I love Annabelle, but I also love Chris, Dean and Robin. I love Burt and Pearl. I love Gina. I love Ralph. I love Stephen and Fiona. I love Maggie and Angharad. All of my friends who have read the books so far come back to me and tell me who their favourite characters were (most love Dean Mathers!) and what they thought of twists and turns in the storyline. I love receiving feedback. It makes something that was very personal something I can share with people I love.

Rejected

Last night I spent over an hour submitting reviews on Amazon for books I have bought and read, that were written by WordPress bloggers. I thought I had done a lovely thing.

I came home this evening to find that Amazon has rejected all of them except one. Why? I can’t tell. They have provided me with a summary of the review guidelines. I don’t see why my reviews were rejected.

Oh well…I will try again. I am only frustrated because I put so much effort into the reviews I left last night. Now I cannot even find them in order to edit them. I have to start all over again from scratch.

When did Amazon become so fussy about reviews?

Preposterous Tales From The Newbury Short Story Teller

CARAMEL'S CORNER

The book I have chosen to review in this week’s CARMAEL’S CORNER is the perfect solution for feeling blue about all the silliness in the world at large. I bought a book written by Martin Strike, who you may know as The Newbury Short Story Teller. I love Martin’s very humorous stories, which often show a farcical side to people and life. He complied a fantastic collection of his short stories and published them in the sensational “Preposterous Tales From The Newbury Short Story Teller”.

I used to live in Newbury Town Centre, and then later I moved to a beautiful estate a few miles from Newbury. So for me, it is easy to conjure up images when Martin references locations in the Newbury area. I found it a very happy reminder of a place I came to love.

But even if you don’t know Newbury I heartily recommend this book to you. Why? Because we all need some laughs! Martin’s writing is packed with humour. Every story from start to finish will bring smiles to your face. The comic characters, descriptions and conversations he employs can’t fail to cheer you up.

People, Woman, Girl, Female, ReadingOf all the books I have bought from WordPress readers I have to say, this was the one that left me in the best spirits. His compilation of light hearted and very amusing tales, which highlight some of the absurdities of human behaviour (and it’s not only Newbury where you will find oddballs) are a terrific read.

If you would like a treat to pick up your mood, I definitely would recommend Martin’s “Preposterous Tales From The Newbury Short Story Teller”, because it is great fun and full of great storytelling.

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You can find out what Caramel has been reading in her very own little reading corner, as she published book reviews of books written by WordPress bloggers each Saturday.

If you have any recommendations (books written by WordPress bloggers), please leave a message in the comments below.

CARAMEL’S CORNER

Relax, Read, Silhouette, Woman, Dog, Hang, Tree, Pet