Book Review: Like A Flower In Bloom By Siri Mitchell


He Stole the Work She Loved. 
Will She Let Him Steal Her Heart as Well?

It’s all her uncle’s fault. For years Charlotte Withersby has been free to pursue her love of plants and flowers by assisting her botanist father. But now that she’s reached the old age of twenty-two, an intrusive uncle has convinced her father that Charlotte’s future–the only proper future for a woman–is to be a wife and mother, not a scholar.

Her father is so dependent on her assistance that Charlotte believes he’ll soon change his mind…and then Edward Trimble shows up. A long-time botany correspondent in the South Pacific, Trimble arrives ready to step in as assistant so that Charlotte can step out into proper society–a world that baffles her with its unwritten rules, inexplicable expectations, and confounding fashion.

Things aren’t perfectly smooth between Trimble and her father, so Charlotte hatches a last gasp plan. She’ll pretend such an interest in marriage that the thought of losing her will make her father welcome her back. Only things go quickly awry, and she realizes that the one man who recognizes her intelligence is also the person she’s most angry with: Edward Trimble, her supposed rival. Suddenly juggling more suitors than she knows what to do with, Charlotte is caught in a trap of her own making. Will she have no choice but to leave her beloved flowers behind?

General Thoughts:

To be honest, this is one of the best stories I have read in a while. It is one of those stories that I could sympathize with and at the same time couldn’t stop laughing at the natural humor the characters, especially the main character, Charlotte (Miss Withersby) possessed. Once the story began I was immediately introduced to Charlotte and her life as a botanist, and it didn’t take long for everything to be turned upside down for her. I admired Charlotte for her boldness to not be afraid to say what was on her mind and to go against the status quo of her time. In fact, there was something about all the main characters (Charlotte, her father, Mr. Trimble, the admiral, and Miss Templeton) that was unique and witty. I instantly loved all the characters and they made for a very entertaining read.

The feel of the book is very lighthearted and playful. Though the issue Charlotte faces at hand is serious and life changing, she approaches it as a game with Miss Templeton as her partner in crime. I like seeing how she tried to assimilate to society and leave behind her life as a botanist, and eventually learning that the only way to be truly happy is to be yourself.

Another thing I took away from this story was learning a little about botany and how life was like for a botanist during the 1800s. Charlotte’s passion in life was botany and that is what her parents did. Being a woman during that time, it was difficult for her to pursue her passion fully and receive credit for her work, as women were expected to marry and raise families—support their husbands’ work if anything else. Charlotte’s unwillingness to let go of botany (it was something she naturally could not pull herself away from—it followed her throughout her immersion into society), only added to the rebellious spirit she had.


I tried to think of any negatives I had about this book, but I couldn’t. It was entertaining from start to finish and there was no point in the story where I felt things were dragging. I have to credit the vivid personalities of the characters for that. They were each truly unique and had their own quirks that made the rememberable. So I would recommend this story to anyone who wants a good laugh and likes characters that have a little (or a lot) or rebelliousness in them.


5 out of 5 stars! As I said before, I couldn’t stop laughing as I read the story and I like the underlying message that spoke to me: To be truly happy you have to be yourself.

***This book was given to me by Bethany House for an honest review.***


How Important Are Physical Character Descriptions?

Rock Face 2

Can A Character Be Memorable Without A Physical Description?

As I was writing my story, and really, what comes to mind every time I write a story, is the physical description of the main characters and even any character. When I write the character in a story, I have in my mind, how they look and even their mannerisms, but when it comes time to pen down those thoughts, I struggle to describe the character. Mainly because I feel when I write characters’ physical descriptions, I feel they come out sounded inauthentic, almost like distractions or deviations to the story. To be honest, while I am writing my first draft of a story, I do not focus on pinning down the physical descriptions of my characters. That is something I think about when I am going to the editing process.

One thing that is apparent when I write character descriptions is I struggle to find a place to fit in those descriptions. However, areas I have attempted to place characters’ physical descriptions are:

• When describing what they wore to an event or occasion (that way I can fit in hair color, texture, length when mentioning what they wore on their head or hair; height or weight, when mentioning the type of clothing they wore; even eye color or shape, when mentioning a key piece of jewelry or color of an outfit).

• If they touched their face or any part of the body, such as putting a hand to their chin (did they have a beard and how did it look like?), touching their hair, etc.

• When they are first presented in the story (sometimes this may be too much, but this is more likely if they are being introduced to another character in the story).

Whatever the case, even as I think and add these descriptions, I feel they are vague and do not really illustrate to the reader the true essence of the character. And though I could hint at things such as their ethnicity and culture, I wonder if that will give the reader a true sense of how the character looks like and who they are.

But maybe more important is, does any of this matter?

Does the reader really need to know how a character physically looks like? Or is it more important for the character’s personality, deeds, and individual story be of focus?

This all leads to the final questions? Can a compelling character be created without any physical descriptions? Could one write a story about a character with the reader only having their personality to connect them with? In their own minds, the reader could decide how the character physically looks to them.

For me, I think it would be interesting to read a book with the physical appearance of the character being unknown. Maybe even more challenging would be that the character’s name is unknown (maybe the character would have a stage name, such as Wonder Woman). Sure, there may be hints to the character’s gender and age, but maybe not, or not enough to determine anything unique about them. Maybe everything would be up for interpretation or speculation.

I do not know if I have come across stories with characters that are a complete mystery. Maybe some without a name, but not without a general description. But I think it would be interesting to read or write a story with a character who is a complete mystery. Part of me would think it would be easier because writing character descriptions is a little bit of a challenge for me as I said before—I usually feel they are too vague and only there because I feel they have to be. I often wonder if the reader will get a true sense of how the character looks like. I think writing a story one day with only the character’s name (or maybe not) would be something fun to do.

I guess in the end if everything fails and one cannot pen out that outstandingly unique and vivid physical character description, there is always the book cover which can feature the main character or characters for the reader to reference ☺

Is There Such A Thing As A True Villain?


Is There Such A Thing As A True Villain?

Maybe this question is coming from the villains I know of from film, writing, and in my stories, but the more I think about this question, the more I think this question can be applied to any kind of villain. As I look back at the stories I’ve written and even the one I am writing now, all of my villains had motives for being the way they are, and although these motives may be selfish, their reason for being a villain is not to harm others for the sake of harming. There is a greater purpose or source behind their behavior and actions. Below are some reasons I came up with:

Something Lost

Is the villain reacting to losing something near and dear to them?

For example, in the Lord of The Rings, Smeagol could easily be viewed as the villain since he tried to hinder Frodo from completing his mission, even to the death of him. But his motives for doing so was to retrieve the ring that he felt was his or that he wanted. Perhaps, if Frodo didn’t have the ring, he would have left him alone and let him carry out his mission.

Injustice Faced

Is the villain being a challenge due to some ill that happened to them in the past—were they once a victim?

An example that comes to mind is a story where either the villain directly, or their family, was cheated out of something which affected their future or their stability. Maybe the villian’s family does not address this matter, but as time passes and the effects of that injustice continue to play out in the victim’s life, the victim, now older, rebels and tries to find retribution on their own terms.


Was the villain brought up to behave this way?

Sure, in the land of fiction one can make their villain evil because that is all they know, they don’t know any better, but even when considering a case such as that, does that make them a villain in the sense that they have a choice? Maybe they came from a family of villains and believed this is the only way to be. An example I keep thinking about is that of a mafia family, such as the Corleones from The Godfather. The individual, in this case, Michael Corleone, ends up being a villain, killing innocent people, because he is influenced by the life of crime he was brought up in.


The villain fears losing something, even if its only perceived to be in their mind.

An example is one of a villain that grew up in extreme poverty and eventually lifted themselves out of it becoming resourceful in some way. However, they became greedy, trying to obtain as much wealth or money as possible, even to the point of extorting or conning others. This behavior may not have been intentional from the start but developed out of the fear of always wanting to have enough to ensure they never go back to that impoverished state.

Past Experience

Similar to Injustice Faced, did the villain go through some trying times or difficult times, such as bullying, poverty, or abuse?

Self View

Does the villain have a low sense of self, such as a low self-esteem that they feel they must be viewed as powerful, strong—admired, even if superficially to think better of themselves?

For example, in Snow White, the queen wanted Snow White dead only so she could be seen as the fairest in the land. She was jealous of her image and/or character and therefore could not see what she possessed. I would say she had a low self view.

Current State-Suffering

Is the villain struggling in life, suffering in some way, whether physically, financially, or socially that they feel they must victimize others (even if unintentionally) in order to improve their situation, survive, or feel better about themselves?

An example comes from a children’s tale, The 3 Little Pigs. In this tale, the wolf is the villain as he wants to eat the pigs and that is why he is determined to blow their house down. However, this villain can easily be viewed as one that is only tormenting their victims for survival—they are his food and without food, he cannot survive.



Although the reasons stated above can address these contradictions (i.e. Nature/Nurture), I want to include some possible counter arguments and a case against them.


Villains are full of jealousy and envy. A lot villains will have jealousy or envy toward whom or which they are victimizing, but if you look deeply into the villian’s mind and life, you will see that there is more that explains their motives. In stories, especially movies, time may not be given to look deeply into the victim’s life, sometimes it is easier to assume they are just evil and have no purpose in being so. But a lot of times, the jealousy and envy that is present in a villain will be rooted in issues they faced or didn’t overcome in their early life, such as nature/nurture and past experiences that shaped their self view.

An example is Robin Hood (Disney Version). Prince John (who was jealous of his brother) wanted all the gold and jewels–wealth to himself, robbing everyone in sight. He had so many riches, he didn’t know what to do with them. But as the movie progressed, it was revealed that he had a low self view of himself and needed to been seen as this powerful and wealthy figure, though he knew he could never be king (since his brother, King Richard, who later returned, was), hoping that everyone would respect him, if not fear him.


A villain simply is full of hatred. I believe there is always a source that is tied to a villain’s past experiences and injustices. Even if the villain decides to victimize those who have not directly done anything to them, the villain will see the victims as the cause of their hate, injustice, or suffering—they will remind them of something negative that has cause them to be this way.

An example is Beauty and the Beast, the villain being Gaston. Gaston loved Belle and wanted her to be his wife, although she was not interested. Eventually when he found out that she was in love with the Beast, he wanted the Beast dead. Who knows if he thought if the Beast was dead, Belle might come to love him and marry him one day. But his hatred stemmed from believing the Beast was taking someone away from him.

Biological (born evil)

A villain is simply evil without a cause. I don’t believe one can be born evil especially if given a positive environment and experiences. The best argument against this is the nature/nurture explanation. A villain with no known reasons for being so is likely to have been born into a negative environment and/or experiences, so that is all they know—sometimes they may not see what they do or how they behave as negative.

An example is  the one mentioned earlier with the movie, The Godfather. Michael Corleone was born into a family of crime, so his life was shaped in that way.


Overall, I believe there may not be such thing as a true villain because every villain has a story behind their behavior. They did not wake up one day and decide to victimize others because they wanted to. And as I write my stories which many contain villains, I think about the villains’ stories to answer the question—what is their motive for behaving the way they do? and, can they change?

Perhaps as a writer, one can choose to make the villain be so far gone that change is unlikely, make the villain’s motives or backstory a mystery, or one can make the villain find redemption and become positive force. The choice is up to the writer.

Book Review: Revealed By T. Alexander


Revealed by Tamera Alexander

Revealed is the second book in the Fountain Creek Chronicles Series, which is the first book I read from the author and series. The story takes place in the Colorado Territory during the 1800s. The two main characters, Anabelle Grayson and Matthew Taylor, oppose each other, yet they must go on a journey together to claim what is their’s. Matthew’s reasons for disliking Anabelle, his sister-in-law, are due to her tainted past, although he has a past that is tainted as well. Anabelle who is the widow of Matthew’s brother, Jonathan, decides to help Anabelle, who is also pregnant, travel to Colorado to settle on property that was left behind from Jonathan. Matthew has many reasons to help Anabelle despite not being fond of her because of his brother’s land and to escape from his past. But he comes to find that behind every bad past is a story and he knows he cannot run from his.

What I truly like about this book is the realism, the historical accuracy, and the development of the characters–you begin to read the story and get to know the characters and you feel that you are in their world, facing their trials and tribulations. Though this book is part of a series, it stands alone, as all the books that I read from the series and from the author have been. Each book focuses on characters that live in the same environment around the same time but they have their own journey and their own concerns to deal with. Sometimes, as you will find if you read the entire series, characters from different books in the series will cross paths but not necessarily play a significant role in the story.

If I had to describe what type of story this book is in terms of genre, I would say it is a Christian historical romance because the main characters, from all of the author’s books I have read so far, end up being together in some way. As a Christian author, her books are influenced by God, and based on the moral values and beliefs the main characters hold. It is also nice how she does not portray her characters to be perfect—at least one of them has a significant problem or past that is unfavorable. But the author makes a point with these characters: despite their background or past, they find redemption—a new life. God’s love does not discriminate.

Character Traits: Silly and Bad

crazy lady

Favorite Character Traits

Silly and Bad

This trait combination is often found in stories or films that can be viewed as humorous but this trait combination can also be found in action stories or films. From my viewpoint, this character combination generally will not be found in serious dramas. Characters with this trait will likely be the villains in the story. Popularly, these characters have usually been the accomplice or side kick to the main villain. These characters tend to offer little help in the end for the main villain since they are not intelligent in how to deal with the opposition. However, they tend to be characters that are roadblocks to the hero or good guys. They tend to make it a little challenging for the hero to get to the main villain.


Silly seems to be a nicer way of saying that one is not smart or is stupid. To me, sometimes the word silly could be the manner in which one behaves. Maybe they are not necessarily stupid, but they lack the ability to take things seriously or be careful in how they generally do things. A silly character will often be an unintentional trouble maker. They will usually make mistakes that cause problems to unfold or destroy plans through their carelessness. These characters are usually more of a burden than help, and ones who are expendable to whoever controls them, usually a villain.

Some positive things about this trait are these characters tend to be loyal to whoever is leading them. They will take the fall in order to see the task through. These characters are generally not the good guys but if they were, they would work  in teams or groups and not on their own to defeat the villain.


Bad means lacking sympathy or compassion for others. It means seeking to destroy the equilibrium, peace, and balance of others or the world in which they live in. A character with this trait is always the villain. They are usually in combat with the hero in stories. A truly bad villain is one that is relentless in their motives or mission. They sometimes possess some intelligence and strategic thinking. They will usually put up a great fight before they are destroyed or give up.

Some positive things about this trait are, from an entertainment standpoint, they add action and enrich the plot of a story. They often drive the reader’s interest to want to know how things will further develop and play out. The villain generally is the plot maker or builder of a story.

An Example:

One character who possessed a combination of these traits was from the film, The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly. The character, Tuco, exemplified the characteristic combination of silly and bad. Though he was not the baddest of the three main characters, he was not the good guy in any way. He was a bandit who had committed many crimes and was now working with a bounty hunter to find a buried treasure of money. Throughout the movie, he was sloppy in his activities and communications with others which often put him in situations that almost killed him or destroyed plans. If not working with the bounty hunter, he would have likely died or never found the buried treasure.

Character Descriptions: Personality and Behavior


Personality and Behavior

Character descriptions are important in many stories. Especially if the story is not illustrated, where the reader can see how the characters look like–your vision, or the vision you want the reader to have of a character. To be honest, even after you describe a character, you and the reader’s vision may be different.

I find character descriptions to be the most challenging thing about writing a story. Often, I will put that off until after I’ve written the entire story. After writing the story, I will, during the editing process, go back and include descriptions. But even then, I feel the descriptions will be vague. The questions I have always asked myself when describing a character are:

  • Are they short, tall, or average height?
  • Are they over, under, or average weight?
  • Do they have grey, red, brown, black, yellow, green, or purple hair?

The list goes on. Although these descriptions are helpful for the reader to know since it will leave them with an idea of how the character looks like, to me, it doesn’t necessarily describe the character. It doesn’t really tell the reader anything unique about them.

Another favorite website of mine, Writing Helping Writers, has a library of character descriptions and list many ways to incorporate them into a story. The thing I like most about this website is though they discuss how to use physical attributes to describe a character, they also include how to use behavioral/emotional attributes to describe a character, which I believe is the most effective way of uniquely describing characters in a story. On this website, they list an attribute, for example sentimental, and give examples of stories that had characters who exhibit that behavior. They will also define what the attribute means, what causes one to have such an attribute, the positives and negatives of having the attribute, who likely has been portrayed as having the attribute (i.e. teenage girls, women, children), clichés to avoid when giving this attribute to a character, ways you can change the way you use this attribute, and conflicting characteristics you can also attach to a character who has this attribute to make them truly unique and interesting.

I discovered this website a year and a half ago, so in the struggle to bring my characters to life— give them more of a unique standing instead of just describing them physically, I believe this website made a difference in teaching me how to bring out my characters’ personalities, thus fully describing them. I think it is important to incorporate personality into physical descriptions. This is especially important if the character you are describing does not really have a unique physical attribute.

Quick Thoughts: Main Characters vs Extras

rainbow petals

Main Characters vs. Extras

In writing stories, I often wonder how much thought or emphasis should be put on secondary characters—characters that may only make an appearance for a moment or two within the story. Do they need to be described fully or can they only be described if they have a distinctive attribute that will add to the scene or part of the story?

For instance, in one of the stories I wrote, I thought every character had to be known. Even the baker that would sell bread would be described head to toe. The baker was not an important character in the story, he was more of an extra—someone the main character came in contact with in passing. Knowing how the baker looked may not matter much to the reader since this character would not make another appearance again and especially since there was nothing distinct about the character. But even if there was something distinct about the character, would that add to the plot of the story or goal/resolution that the main character is seeking?

Sometimes, through reading other stories, I find that even extras are fully described. I can see that being necessary or helpful when the author seeks to describe the atmosphere/environment in which the main character is in, the type of population/people, or maybe even an era/time period. In such cases, it would be a good idea to describe extras since it can enhance the reader’s understanding of the environment and time frame in which the story takes place. But sometimes, when such things do not matter, it may be nice to leave character descriptions of extras to the mind of the reader—let them imagine for a moment or two who or what that character is to them since it does not affect the story.