Sunday, April 13, 2014

Looks Count in Every Culture





Looks count.  In fact our society is obsessed with beauty and keeping ourselves looking young.  During the Renaissance, women plucked their hair so their hairline would be much higher.  During the 18th century, it was all about powdered wigs and big black moles. During the 60’s we went braless and makeup free in lieu of a much wilder look.  Where’s the common theme?  There is none. 


So what the heck makes a beautiful woman?  This is very difficult to pinpoint since beauty is subjective.  If the earth was one big episode of The Simpsons, we’d all think the best life had to offer was lipless, chinless women with exactly four eyelashes!


While researching my newest release, The Wind Whisperer, a young adult novel about Native Americans, I wanted to know what made an 18th century Native American woman beautiful. The answer to this question was as varying as the tribes I ran across. For one U.S. tribe, I discovered that young woman were not allowed to grow their hair long—this luxury was reserved for men only. This custom was so fascinating I adopted it into my novel. 


I also learned that most Native American women were tattooed with geometric designs, birds, and flowers. It was a practice that usually began at the onset of womanhood. Most of us have heard the saying that the cost of beauty is pain. Times were no different 400 years ago. A tattoo started with first a painful cutting and then a smearing of black ash. As custom dictates, you’ll find my fifteen-year-old heroine, Anaii, tattooed in several places.


Native American women also loved to decorate their bodies with paint. Think of it as body make-up and applied as faithfully as one applies make-up today. One particular fashion during the 18th century in western U.S. tribes was painting one’s hair part red. Paint was made from egg yolk, clay, blood, crushed sea shell, berries, ect…These ancient women were as innovative with their beauty as we are today.


Just as we adorn with jewelry today to “doll up”, the ancient natives were equally as adorning—but not always in the ways that you think. Of course they used beads and feathers to beautify themselves, but sometimes they also used dead birds, beetles, bones, and strings of human hair.  I wonder what beauty treatment we do today will be considered barbaric in 400 years—injecting our faces with paralytics? No judging. Looks count and we’re all obsessing together.

Friday, January 24, 2014

The Wind Whisperer Tour--and a load of Goodies!

Click on the tour banner to check out all the tour stops
and join the International giveaway below!






Tag Line: This love triangle just got dangerous…

Blurb: At fifteen, Anaii is the most important member of her tribe—and the most mysterious.  Ever since Anaii can remember, the spirits of the wind have whispered of fertile hunting grounds and imminent enemy attacks.  But when her people are ambushed by a brother clan without any apparent cause, the spirits remain eerily silent.

As the village prepares to retaliate, Anaii is pressured by her best friend, Elan, to marry him.  It’s an old plea—Elan has spent a lifetime loving her, but Anaii only sees a childhood playmate out of an imposing warrior.  Stifled by Elan’s insistence, Anaii escapes into the forest where she meets Jayttin, the beautiful son of the enemy chief. 

Enamored by Jayttin’s carefree spirit and hope for peace, she repeatedly sneaks away to be with him, but when her deception is discovered, Elan is devastated.  Pledging his lifelong affection, Elan gives her a passionate kiss, and Anaii begins to see her friend in a new light. 

While Anaii is tormented over which man she must choose, the wind whispers of a new threat that could destroy both tribes.  Only a union will afford a chance at survival, but the reality of that union is based on one thing—which man Anaii chooses to die.
spirits of the wind have whispered of fertile hunting grounds and imminent enemy attacks.  But when her people are ambushed by a brother clan without any apparent cause, the spirits remain eerily silent.

As the village prepares to retaliate, Anaii is pressured by her best friend, Elan, to marry him.  It’s an old plea—Elan has spent a lifetime loving her, but Anaii only sees a childhood playmate out of an imposing warrior.  Stifled by Elan’s insistence, Anaii escapes into the forest where she meets Jayttin, the beautiful son of the enemy chief. 

Enamored by Jayttin’s carefree spirit and hope for peace, she repeatedly sneaks away to be with him, but when her deception is discovered, Elan is devastated.  Pledging his lifelong affection, Elan gives her a passionate kiss, and Anaii begins to see her friend in a new light. 

While Anaii is tormented over which man she must choose, the wind whispers of a new threat that could destroy both tribes.  Only a union will afford a chance at survival, but the reality of that union is based on one thing—which man Anaii chooses to die.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Fated, the Soul Seekers: A Book Review


 
Back flap from Amazon:
 
Strange things are happening to Daire Santos. Crows mock her, glowing people stalk her, time stops without warning, and a beautiful boy with unearthly blue eyes haunts all her dreams. Fearing for her daughter’s sanity, Daire’s mother sends her to live with the grandmother she’s never met. A woman who recognizes the visions for what they truly are—the call to her destiny as a Soul Seeker—one who can navigate the worlds between the living and dead.

There on the dusty plains of Enchantment, New Mexico, Daire sets out to harness her mystical powers. But it’s when she meets Dace, the boy from her dreams, that her whole world is shaken to its core. Now Daire is forced to discover if Dace is the one guy she's meant to be with...or if he’s allied with the enemy she's destined to destroy.

 
Daire Santos is not like other teenage girls. She spends her life following her mother, a Hollywood makeup artist, to movie sets around the world. She has no permanent home and no friends. While on a movie set in Morocco time begins to freeze without warning and Daire begins to have creepy visions of crows and dead people. During one of these visions, Daire loses herself and claws the face of a rising movie star. This is the catalyst that sends Daire to live with her grandmother in New Mexico. She a woman Daire has never met, but she’s also a woman who claims to have all the answers—Daire’s a Soul Seeker.

This young adult novel has all the ingredients for a successful paranormal romance. There’s the blue-eyed beautiful boy from Daire’s dream that attends her new high school. Daire is a likable main character who’s reluctant to be a hero. We even have a gorgeous antagonist who’d like to take over the worlds.  Yes, you read that right. There’s the Upperworld, Middleworld, and Lowerworld. Despite all the wonderful ingredients, this novel fell a little flat for me.

Dace is the gorgeous boy from Daire’s dreams but she avoids this guy like the plaque. To me this didn’t make sense considering all the luscious dreams she’s had about him. Also there’s almost no interaction between these two lovebirds until the very end. I never really had a chance to get to know and appreciate Dace. He felt a little bit like a cardboard cutout that remained in the background.

I also had a problem with Daire’s gift as Soul Seeker. It was very difficult for me to understand the limits of her gift and what exactly she was supposed to do with it. I silently groaned when I learned she could fly. Daire could also perform spells, stop time, and enter other worlds.  At the end of the novel I’m still scratching my head uncertain what she’s supposed to do as soul seeker. It may have been thoroughly explained but the explanation was not memorable.

One thing about Daire’s gift that I loved was her ability to put her soul into the bodies of animals and see and experience what the animal experiences. There’s a great reconnaissance mission that begins in the girls’ bathroom of a nightclub when Daire enters the body of a cockroach. An entire novel could be woven from this one wonderful ability. In my opinion the author took too much from the paranormal buffet table.

Lastly, while Cade, the bad guy, was wonderfully evil, he wasn’t believable at times. Those times would be precisely when he would morph into a hideous demon or when a snake would slither from his mouth. I’m probably just being picky, but even though this is a paranormal read, I want it to feel believable.

To Alyson Noel’s credit, she created a New Mexico that came alive with color. The supporting characters are easily seen in the mind’s eye and bursting with real personality. The story line was even inventive and new. Overall I’d give the story three stars. It was an enjoyable read but missing the key ingredients for a really great read.
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