Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Name 3 things with Deborah Coonts

Please welcome Deborah Coonts, author of Crushed, as she lets us into her life with our Name 3 Things interview!






About Deborah:
My mother tells me I was born a very long time ago, but I'm not so sure--my mother can't be trusted. These things I do know: I was raised in Texas on barbeque, Mexican food and beer. I am the author of Wanna Get Lucky? (A NY Times Notable Crime Novel and double RITA™ Finalist), its five sequels, Lucky Break being the latest, and four between-the-books novellas. Currently I'm stretching my writer muscles working on a women's fiction/contemporary romance series set in Napa, a dark thriller, a romantic suspense series featuring a female helicopter pilot, as well as the next Lucky adventure--all very different projects. So, if you see me with a glass of Champagne in hand, you'll understand. I can usually be found at the bar, but also at www.deborahcoonts.com.



Connect with Deborah:
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Deborah Coonts on Name 3 things:


Name three things one wouldn’t normally expect to find…

 In your fridge

-Fresh fruit I never get around to eating. Fruit is for breakfast and I’m not a breakfast eater…even though I have the best of intentions. They say breakfast is good for you and that killed it for me. I never trust things “they” espouse. Yes, I have an authority issue.

-Rotten vegetables. I don’t know what happens. I buy veggies and put them in the proper drawer. But out of sight, out of mind. When I remember the poor things they bear little resemblance to their former selves. That friggin’ drawer shouldn’t be labeled ‘vegetables’ it should be label ‘the rotter.’

-Champagne. Now, this is where I get it right. Perfectly chilled, always waiting for the right moment.

In your purse

-A tiny Moleskin for jotting flashes of brilliance. Yes, my characters are evil—they love to impress me with their cleverness and cunning when I am away from the computer. They can’t fool me—hence the handy Moleskin.

-My passport. I LOVE to travel and, well, you never know. So I’m always ready with a passport and a credit card. Everything else can be bought when I get where I’m going. Now, mind you, I’ve never actually put this theory to use, but there’s always a first time for everything.

-A blue Sharpie for signing copies of my books. This is have been called upon to use from time to time, and I’m most grateful for each and every request!


In/On your bedside table

-My Kindle. Yes, I’ve gone to the dark side. I still love the feel of a print book, but with all the traveling I do, a Kindle makes so much more sense. I’m getting used to the reading experience. The buying experience already has me hooked. Is there a 12-step program for “Buy with One click” addicts?

-A glass of water. What can I say, I have this thing about making sure I have water close at hand before I can sleep. I have no idea where this compulsion came from. And, worse, the water can’t be tap water—it must be bottled. Oh yeah, I’m great fun to travel with. You do not want to see me at two a.m. with no water bottle—it’s not pretty.

-My phone. I know, as if I’m important or something. I’m fully aware that the President will probably not call to tap me to negotiate world peace, but still, one can dream, right?


In your car

Absolutely nothing—I am a neat freak when it comes to my car. Okay, well maybe a copy or two of one of my books to give away to an unsuspecting seat-mate on a plane or something, but that’s it.

  
On your desk/writing spot

Not such a neat freak here.

-Scanner. I know. You would think some nobody writer like me would never need a scanner. Holy cow would you be wrong. I never knew how nice such a device could make life.

-An extra set of glasses. Yes, I suffer from the horrible eye disease, TMB (too many birthdays). Can’t read a thing without my glasses. I resent it horribly, but I also hyperventilate if I’m caught anywhere without my cheaters.

-Glass of Champagne. No, not going to elaborate. Is elaboration necessary?

In the "junk drawer"

-Batteries. And it doesn’t matter how many and how many different types, the one I will need to silence the smoke detector at 2 a.m. is the one I don’t have.

-A screwdriver and duct tape—with those two things, all is possible. Well, okay, add a length of rope, THEN all things are possible.

In your closet/garage/storage room

-All my old computers dating back to college. Even though the operating systems are too old to talk to any other piece of equipment these days, and, even if nobody has floppy disks anymore, there just might be some hint of an idea, a brilliantly turned phrase, or a sublime paragraph, on one of the hard drives that I might put to use.

-My old diplomas, framed and ready for….what? Heck, the admission to the Texas Bar is big enough to make a bedspread out of. Through the years I’ve downsized so many times I don’t even have a whole wall large enough for that thing.

-A box of jeans from high school because I’m going to fit in them again one day. My classmates laughed at me when I told them about the jeans at our 40th reunion. Really bad form.


In your music or movie collection

-Every movie Fred Astaire made.

-Ditto Rogers and Hammerstein. 

-Add Sleepless in Seattle, Sabrina, Born Yesterday and The Princess Bride and, with my Champagne always chilling in the fridge, I have the perfect antidote to a mean world.


On your bookshelf

-Too many books to read in this lifetime. Priceless, indeed.


Crushed

Sophia Stone is a widow on the brink of an empty nest, stuck in an unsatisfying job managing the vineyard for a mediocre Napa vintner. Faced with an uncertain future she wonders how do you choose between making a living and making a life? Between protecting your heart and sharing it? Five years ago, after her husband was killed in an accident, Sophia put her heart and dreams on ice to care for those around her. Now her home, her dreams, and her family’s legacy grapes are threatened by the greed of the new money moving into the Valley. Sophia has a choice—give up and let them take what is hers, or risk everything fighting a battle everyone says she can’t win.

Nico Treviani has one goal in life: make brilliant wine. A woman would be an unwanted distraction. So, while recognized as one of Napa’s premier vintners, Nico finds himself alone… until his brother’s death drops not one, but two women into his life—his thirteen-year-old twin nieces. In an instant, Nico gains a family and loses his best friend and partner in the winemaking business. Struggling to care for his nieces, Nico accepts a job as head winemaker for Avery Specter, one of the new-money crowd. And he learns the hard way that new money doesn’t stick to the old rules.

When Sophia Stone gets caught in the middle of Nico’s struggle to remain true to himself or sacrifice his convictions to make stellar wine, both Sophia and Nico are faced with a choice they never imagined. A choice that might extinguish the hope of a future neither expected.

Available at:
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Saturday, July 23, 2016

The Crooked Heart of Mercy by Billie Livingston

4 Star

Ben wakes up in a hospital with a hole in his head he can't explain. What he can remember he’d rather forget. Like how he’d spend nights as a limo driver for the wealthy and debauched….how he and his wife, Maggie, drifted apart in the wake of an unspeakable tragedy…how his little brother, Cola, got in over his head with loan sharks circling.

Maggie is alone. Again. With bills to pay and Ben in a psych ward, she must return to work. But who would hire her in the state she’s in? And just as Maggie turns to her brother, Francis, the Internet explodes with video of his latest escapade. The headline? Drunk Priest Propositions Cops.

Francis is an unlikely priest with a drinking problem and little interest in celibacy. A third DUI, a looming court date.…When Maggie takes him in, he knows he may be down to his last chance. And his best shot at healing might lie in helping Maggie and Ben reconnect—against all odds.




Sabrina-Kate - 4 Star

The Crooked Heart of Mercy was an utterly unique story which is partly what drew it to me in the first place, but also what made it a more challenging read. I loved that it was by a Canadian author and that the characters were so unforgettable. For the three main characters, Ben, Maggie and Francis are anything but the usual characters you'd find in a book.

The quirky and distinct story that we are told was a little difficult to get into, perhaps because it was a bit weird but also because it had three very strong yet very different characters telling the story. I liked that they were flawed and unapologetic about it. It did make the story somewhat uncomfortable but I suspect that was the point. After all, why should a person be comfortable when others are obviously suffering?

I liked this book a lot despite some misgivings but I felt like it made me contemplate some important things and that is always a good idea in my book!


Thank you to Random House of Canada for our review copy. All opinions are our own.

Connect with Billie Livingston:



Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Girls' Weekend by Cara Sue Achterberg

3 Star

Dani, Meg, and Charlotte have bonded over babies, barbeques, and backyards, but when they escape for a girls weekend away, they can t bring themselves to return to lives that don t seem to fit anymore.Harried Dani can t explain why she feels so discontented until she meets a young gallery owner who inspires her to rediscover the art that once made her happy.

Dependable Meg faces up to a grief that threatens to swallow her whole and confronts a marriage built on expectations.

Flamboyant Charlotte, frustrated with her stagnated life and marriage, pursues a playboy Irish singer and beachside business opportunities.

All three of these women thought they would be different. None of them thought they d be facing down forty and still wondering when life starts. What they do when they realize where they re headed is both inspiring and wildly entertaining. 




Kathryn - 3 Star

This novel had so much potential from an emotional standpoint that I was eager to get sunk into reading Girls' Weekend. Unfortunately I struggled to identify with any of the main characters (except Meg's grief-which was palpable) and their bond wasn't very clear to me. They behaved like acquaintances from church or the school pick-up and it seemed to take them ages to open up to each other, by which point I was a bit ho-hum about the plot. Because I didn't get a good sense of warmth between them before they left on their "holiday" -I'm not sure I ever really got out of this book what I could have done.  (I believe though that I may be in the minority about these feelings.)

What I did like about Girls’ Weekend was the realistic marital issues that were the impetus for three women to ditch their real lives and look inwards at their happiness. I loved that they were coming from such different places and that their marriages all had obstacles but that their challenges were all different. I was also pleased with the way each of them dealt differently with their issues- it was very true that they would all have questioned their lives in different ways to come to their own conclusions about moving forward.  

I was frustrated by the two men brought in to distract the women.  I can't possibly refer to them as love interests because I don't think that Girls' Weekend is about romance.  One of the men was so obviously a bad guy that I was turned off immediately and the other was soon shown to be just as untrustworthy.  Neither of them was good enough to really force a choice from my perspective but they did serve a purpose for the women- to really examine their marriages and contemplate the "grass is greener" concept.  

I was hoping for better resolution I suppose and more camaraderie between the women. I did like the concept though and there were many moments that I enjoyed.


Thank you to the author for our review copy.  All opinions are our own.



Connect with Cara Sue Achterberg:
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Sunday, July 17, 2016

Would you rather...with Nicole Trilivas

Please welcome Nicole Trilivas, author of Girls who travel.


Nicole Trilivas:

 

Nicole Trilivas has a deep appetite for travel and adventure and has visited nearly forty countries and every continent except Antarctica (but it’s on her list). Her debut novel, GIRLS WHO TRAVEL (December 2015, Berkley Penguin) is now available.





Connect with Nicole:
Would You Rather... 
with Nicole Trilivas

Chips, chocolate or cheese?

All of them, all at once.

Bridget Jones, Becky Bloomwood or Carrie Bradshaw?

As a native New Yorker, I feel an affinity for Carrie.

Wine, beer or vodka?

Wine all the time! White, red, or rosé—I don’t discriminate.


Camping or spa vacation?

Spa vacation, but camping could be fun for a night or two.

Water or mountains?

Oh, don’t make me choose.


Zombies or vampires?

Vampires?

Dogs or cats?

Dogs! Give me all the dogs!

Coke or Pepsi?

Diet coke. Diet cherry coke if we’re getting fancy.

Coffee or tea?

Depends on the time of the day.

Dine out or take away?

I love the experience of dining out. Food is everything!

High heels, sneakers or flip flops?

Probably flip flops, but my butt would say high heels.

Physical Book or ebook?

It’s ebook until I get a library, I’m afraid. (I’m gunning for the library from Beauty and the Beast so it may take some time…)

Paperback or Hardcover?

Eh, not bothered.

Pen or pencil?

Pen. One of those super inky ones.

Mad Men, Downton Abbey or Breaking Bad?

All three!

Drama or comedy?

Depends.

Twilight or Hunger Games?

I’m a bit meh on both, but I guess Hunger Games. (Sorry, don’t hate me—it’s just not my bag!)

Lipstick, lipgloss or chapstick?

Lipstick, baby! Dolce vita rose red.

Facebook or Twiter?

Both, but Facebook is a bit more fun.

Plot your entire novel or fly by the seat of your pants?

Plot, plot, and plot some more!

Girls who travel

There are many reasons women shouldn’t travel alone. But as foul-mouthed, sweet-toothed Kika Shores knows, there are many more reasons why they should. After all, most women want a lot more out of life than just having fun. Kika, for one, wants to experience the world.

But ever since she returned from her yearlong backpacking tour, she’s been steeped in misery, battling rush hour with all the other suits. Getting back on the road is all she wants. So when she’s offered a nanny job in London – the land of Cadbury Cream Eggs – she’s happy at the prospect of going back overseas and getting paid for it. But as she’s about to discover, the most exhilarating adventures can happen when you stay in one place…




Available at:

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Thursday, July 14, 2016

Kay's lucky coin variety by Ann Y.K.Choi

5 Star

This haunting coming-of-age story, told through the eyes of a rebellious young girl, vividly captures the struggles of families caught between two cultures in the 1980s. Family secrets, a lost sister, forbidden loves, domestic assaults—Mary discovers as she grows up that life is much more complicated than she had ever imagined. Her secret passion for her English teacher is filled with problems and with the arrival of a promising Korean suitor, Joon-Ho, events escalate in ways that she could never have imagined, catching the entire family in a web of deceit and violence.




Sabrina-Kate - 5 Star

This book was a definite favorite of mine this year as it spoke about a few topics that I love to read about. I really enjoy reading books that are set in places that I know, like this one, which is set in Toronto and that I can remember having read about as a little girl as well. Now having come to know and love the city, reading about it brings even more pleasure.

I also am always very interested in the immigrant experience which I find can vary so greatly but have similar themes no matter where the immigrants are coming from or going to. I always find it interesting to hear the accounts of the younger and perhaps more assimilated generation, which is largely what this book focused on.

Mary was a very complex and maybe even conflicted character who wanted so many things, and those things did not always reconcile well together. A daughter's duty versus a young women's desires was a big part of what she experienced and had to come to terms with during the course of this story, which is quite a universal theme but had of course its own special twists due to her ethnicity.

I really did enjoy this book and the unique tale - one that resonated with me long after the last page was turned. I am truly happy that this was a story that got told.

Thank you to Simon & Schuster for our review copy. All opinions are our own.


Connect with Ann Y.K.Choi:


Monday, July 11, 2016

The Little French Guesthouse by Helen Pollard

4 Star

Sun, croissants and fine wine. Nothing can spoil the perfect holiday. Or can it? When Emmy Jamieson arrives at La Cour des Roses, a beautiful guesthouse in the French countryside, she can’t wait to spend two weeks relaxing with boyfriend Nathan. Their relationship needs a little TLC and Emmy is certain this holiday will do the trick. But they’ve barely unpacked before he scarpers with Gloria, the guesthouse owner’s cougar wife. 
Rupert, the ailing guesthouse owner, is shell-shocked. Feeling somewhat responsible, and rather generous after a bottle (or so) of wine, heartbroken Emmy offers to help. Changing sheets in the gîtes will help keep her mind off her misery. 
Thrust into the heart of the local community, Emmy suddenly finds herself surrounded by new friends. And with sizzling hot gardener Ryan and the infuriating (if gorgeous) accountant Alain providing welcome distractions, Nathan is fast becoming a distant memory. 
Fresh coffee and croissants for breakfast, feeding the hens in the warm evening light; Emmy starts to feel quite at home. But it would be madness to walk away from her friends, family, and everything she’s ever worked for, to take a chance on a place she fell for on holiday – wouldn’t it? 




Kathryn - 4 Star

I enjoyed The Little French Guesthouse for many reasons. Firstly because any novel that can make me feel as if I've settled into a holiday is a good start. Secondly, I loved the characters and thirdly, the plot moved quickly and kept me hooked. 

Frankly this poor woman got a rough start to her holiday to say the least and I was glad we (and she) weren't tortured by Nathan's pretenses for any longer than necessary. What a guy...she plans the vacation and he wrecks it in mere days. I thought we were well rid of him (and Gloria, his partner in crime). ‎Their exodus though led to a lovely friendship between Emmy and Rupert and I was warmed every page with their ease and their banter. Given that they were strangers they quickly became each other's support systems but it never felt forced. Rupert is quite cheeky in his demands of her time when Emmy offers to stay on and help him during his hour of need. I think many would have said no but it just went to prove how much Emmy was in need of a break from her life that she readily accepted his challenges. I think they gave each other something unique in those few weeks that could never be replaced.

I was really impressed with Emmy’s insistence that she wanted to return to the UK because she loved her job. I would have jumped at the chance of remaining there with a ready job and new friendships. But she persevered and I think ended up making the best choice for the outcome of the novel.

The Little French Guesthouse is full of enchanting characters, empowering friendships, love interests and a great sense of finding oneself that I couldn’t resist. I would like to visit Rupert at La Cour des Roses immediately.


Thank you to Bookouture for our review copy.  All opinions are our own.

Connect with Helen Pollard:
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Friday, July 8, 2016

Stranded on a desert island with Jenni Ogden

Please welcome Jenni Ogden, author of A Drop in the Ocean, as she lets us into her life with our Stranded on a desert island interview!






About Jenni:

Jenni Ogden grew up in a country town in the South Island of New Zealand, in a home bursting with books and music. Armed with NZ and Australian university degrees in zoology and psychology, she took up a postdoctoral fellowship at Massachusetts Institute of Technology and worked with H.M., the most famous amnesiac in history, before returning to an academic position at Auckland University. There, she immersed herself in clinical psychology and neuropsychology, as well as traveling extensively and writing about her patients’ moving stories in two books, Fractured Minds: A Case-Study Approach to Clinical Neuropsychology and Trouble In Mind: Stories from a Neuropsychologist’s Casebook. Jenni has had a love affair with the Great Barrier Reef since her twenties, when she spent summers on a coral cay rather like Turtle Island, tagging sea turtles. Jenni and her husband now live off-grid on a spectacular island off the coast of NZ, with winters spent traveling and at their second home in tropical Far North Queensland. When she is not writing or traveling, Jenni can be found on the beach—always with a book—or spending time with her family.

Connect with Jenni:
 Website      Facebook     Twitter    Goodreads

Jenni Ogden - stranded on a desert island:



If you could only have one book with you, what would it be?
           
A very fat photograph album full of memories from past and present: children, grandchildren, husband, parents, friends, special places, with each photo dated and labeled! (to guard against memory loss…)

What one luxury item would you want to be stranded with?

A very thick large-size journal with empty pages (high-quality paper), a ten-year calendar at beginning, a strong waterproof cover, and an attached long-life pencil. 

What is the one practical item you would want to have with you to use?

A Swiss Army Knife; the most expensive version with everything on it!

Would you enjoy the solitude, even briefly, or would it drive you crazy?

I would love the solitude; I have often spent many days alone on an island in real life! But perhaps after a year or so…

If you could be stranded with one other person, who would you want it to be?

My husband because he can make fire with sticks, is a veteran bush camper, can swim like a dolphin and can catch fish with his spear fashioned from a branch, and as a botanist tends to have a better idea than me what vegetation and fruits are edible and which ones are poisonous!

What modern technology would you miss the most?

My Kindle with at least 500 books on it, and complete with a solar cover that keeps it powered up!

What food or beverage would you miss the most?

Bacon to go with the birds’ eggs (the common birds only of course, not the rare ones) which I’ll have for breakfast every morning before starting the day.

How many days do you think you would cope without rescue?
           
366 days, so I can later write a memoir titled “I Survived For More Than A Year On A Desert Island.”

What is the first thing you would do when rescued?

Telephone the chidren, and say “Surprise!”

What would be your first Tweet or Facebook update upon your return?

“Memoir coming soon. Watch this space!”

A Drop in the Ocean

On her 49th birthday, Anna Fergusson, Boston neuroscientist and dedicated introvert, arrives at an unwanted crossroads when the funding for her research lab is cut. With her confidence shattered and her future uncertain, on impulse she rents a cabin for a year on Australia's Great Barrier Reef. However Turtle Island, alive with sea birds and nesting Green turtles, is not the retreat she expected. Here she finds love for the eccentric islanders who become her family; for Tom, the laid-back turtle whisperer; and for the turtles whose ancient mothering instincts move her to tears. But Anna finds that even on her idyllic drop in the ocean there is pain, and as the months fly past her dream for a new life is threatened by a darkness that challenges everything she has come to believe about the power of love. 



Available at:
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