Saturday, January 31, 2015

Rebecca Scherm Stranded on a Desert Island

Please welcome Rebecca Scherm, author of Unbecoming, as she tackles our Desert Island Interview!







Rebecca Scherm holds an MFA from the Helen Zell Writers Program at the University of Michigan, where she currently teaches. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, Jezebel, Subtropics, The Hairpin, Hobart, McSweeney’s  Internet Tendency and Fiction Writers Review.



Connect with Rebecca Scherm:
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Rebecca Scherm Stranded on a Desert Island

     If you could only have one book with you, what would it be? 

This is the hardest question by far. I think Boccaccio's Decameron. I'm going to need a lot of stories to sustain me.

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

Lillet Blanc to mix with my rainwater and lots of it.

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

A Swiss Army multitool! I have seen people drill coconuts with that thing, and I would have to learn.

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

I would enjoy the solitude until the exact moment that I realized it would not end.

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

My husband! No one else could put up with me in that environment. 

What modern technology would you miss the most?

At first I thought the internet, the constant connection, but I wonder if the answer is simpler and more grim: antibiotics, ibuprofen.

What food or beverage would you miss the most? 

Cheese. I don't see that happening in my lifetime there, unless the island has goats.

How many days do you think you would cope without rescue? 

Cope? I would not cope. But if you mean survive? If I had my glasses, about 360. If I didn't, I'd be picked off my predators within minutes.

What is the first thing you would do when rescued? 

Weep.

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

I doubt I would have any interest in social media at that point. Wouldn't it be overwhelming? Every day I feel on the edge of deactivation; surviving life alone on an island would no doubt push me over.

Unbecoming

On the grubby outskirts of Paris, Grace restores bric-a-brac, mends teapots, re-sets gems. She calls herself Julie, says she’s from California, and slips back to a rented room at night.  Furtively, she checks her hometown newspaper online.  Back in Garland, Tennessee, two young men have been paroled and Grace knows that once they are free, her life will not be her own.   

Riley Graham was the charming, favored small-town son who made Grace his own when the two were very young.  Embraced by Riley’s family, especially his  mother,  Grace polished her role as surrogate daughter and idealized girlfriend.  But she stumbles over a dark passion for Riley’s best friend, and flees Garland for Manhattan, NYU, and a seedy job with an art appraiser to pave her way into the competitive social scene.   This leads only to dropping out  and landing back home, broke and shaken.  There, using her new skills and a knack for re-invention, Grace begins methodically to plan a robbery of a local historical museum with Riley and his friends. The heist goes bad—but not before Grace is on a plane to Prague with a stolen canvas rolled in her bag, a new haircut and a new name.  And so begins a cat-and-mouse waiting game as Grace’s web of deception and lies unravels. Which part of her past will catch up with her first?

Available at:
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After the Wedding by Roisin Meaney

4 Star

It's the beginning of May on the island of Roone, two years after Nell Mulcahy called off her wedding to the handsome Tim. Now she's preparing for another wedding - to Tim's brother - but as she sets off for an old church in County Clare, a disappearance on Roone throws the island into turmoil.

As the days pass and the search continues, the islanders cope as best they can - Nell adjusting to life as a married woman, Imelda and Hugh discovering the trials of fostering, Laura pregnant and under pressure and teenage Andy finding his first love.

Every summer on the island is eventful, but this year brings challenges that test everyone's courage. Will happiness be restored before autumn comes, or will Roone's magic finally run out?




Kathryn - 4 Star

I believe that After the Wedding is a sequel to Meaney’s previous novel One Summer.  I had no idea this was the case until I finished the book and it certainly didn’t affect my enjoyment of the read (but now I’d like to go back and read the first novel and see what I missed!).

I found the writing a bit difficult at first- I don’t think there was anything wrong with it in the slightest but it took me some time to get used to the way the people were presented and to get into the plot.  There are a large number of characters to follow and as most are related to each other in some way (but not all!) I took some time getting used to them all before really following the threads entirely.

One thing I liked very much about After the Wedding was the island of Roone itself. When I was a child I used to visit my great-aunt who lived on the island of Millport and this reminded me very much of those holidays.  I was immediately attracted to the closeness of the inhabitants, the simpler way of living and the sense of community.  However with that small community feel when someone does something that is disapproved of you could spend a lifetime having others accept your choices.  That would be very difficult to overcome which was the case for Nell’s father. I felt the empathy though for him from his daughter which warmed my heart and connected her to him in a wonderful way- that bond for her was important having lost her mother recently.  

There are so many great story lines that it’s hard to pinpoint a favourite. I loved Imelda and Hugh, their love and frustration for the child they are fostering were felt across the page and Laura’s B&B was fabulously chaotic- the imminent arrival of her second set of twins while running this hotel single-handedly was great for comic relief as the underlying plot of the missing child was felt by every resident of Roone. 

I really enjoyed this book and would definitely welcome another Roisin Meaney novel to my book shelf.


Thank you to Hachette Books Ireland for our review copy. All opinions are our own.

Connect with Roisin Meaney:
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Monday, January 26, 2015

Love Me For Me by Jenny Hale

2 Star

Libby Potter has just lost the perfect job, the perfect apartment and the perfect boyfriend. Moving back to the same home town that she couldn’t wait to escape when she was younger was definitely not on her todo list. Especially as it means running into the man whose heart she broke when she left.

Pete Bennett can still make Libby’s world stop with just the sound of his voice – even ten years on. Only now, she is the last person in the world that he wants to see.

As everyone else welcomes Libby home with open arms, she realizes she’s missed that special closeness that comes from lifelong friendship. And, as Libby tries to make amends with Pete, she begins to wonder whether she made the right choice in leaving all those years ago.

When an amazing career opportunity gives her the chance to leave again, Libby will have to decide what her version of perfect is… and where she really belongs.


Kathryn - 2 Star

I read Jenny Hale's novel Coming home for Christmas and I enjoyed it. Unfortunately Love Me For Me didn't really stick with me. I suspect it was all down to the connection I felt with Libby. I just never really understood her motivations for doing things and I couldn't seem to get on board with her choices. 

There was also a certain disconnect between Libby and her mother than seemed unnatural given that it was mostly just the two of them during her childhood. We are informed of her mother's history and the possibility that she was trying to live her own life through her daughter but she completely warmed up and changed her attitude part way through the story, it didn't flow for me.

The same feeling of disconnect was present with her high school friends. There seemed to be very little holding the strings of their relationships together and the fact that they didn't even keep in touch while she was gone, seemed telling of their lack of closeness. Their subsequent meet up when she returned home fell flat.

Another irritation was the number of times going back to New York and the “perfect life” the city offered was mentioned. I got the message after the first couple of times- when it was still being brought out as if it was new information more than halfway through the novel I was exasperated. It made me start skipping everything except the dialogue.

A couple of people were interesting enough for me to keep reading, the mother's friend was sweet and I liked her ex-boyfriend's grandfather... I wish that their relationships had been explored further, it may have given the story more authenticity.

While I had misgivings I think there were some things that could have made a great story, the dots just didn’t form a line for me.


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

Connect with Jenny Hale:
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Sunday, January 25, 2015

House Broken by Sonja Yoerg

3 Star

For veterinarian Geneva Novak, animals can be easier to understand than people. They’re also easier to forgive. But when her mother, Helen, is injured in a vodka-fueled accident, it’s up to Geneva to give her the care she needs.

Since her teens, Geneva has kept her self-destructive mother at arm’s length. Now, with two slippery teenagers of her own at home, the last thing she wants is to add Helen to the mix. But Geneva’s husband convinces her that letting Helen live with them could be her golden chance to repair their relationship.

Geneva isn’t expecting her mother to change anytime soon, but she may finally get answers to the questions she’s been asking for so long. As the truth about her family unfolds, however, Geneva may find secrets too painful to bear and too terrible to forgive.


Sabrina-Kate - 3 Star

House Broken was touted as a breakthrough novel from a new author and although I can see her strengths as a writer, a lot of the story just felt too contrived and unrealistic for me to rate it higher.

Despite not feeling the story was plausible, I did really enjoy it and found the book to be quite readable even with that little niggling feeling in the back of my head about whether or not these things could actually be happening. I did like the continuity of the names of Geneva and her siblings, because let's face it, a lot of people have some sort of plan when they name their children so why not have city names.

For someone so intelligent though, I didn't quite buy that Geneva was so unaware of her children's issues yet I could believe that she blocked out her mother and sister's. I also didn't believe that she was so at odds with her husband and then everything would be ok. For something that was supposed to be an underlying tension built up over time, I just thought it would play a larger and more consistent role in the story.

There were quite a few allusions to things that were never developed more, like issues with her in-laws, the Novaks, that I felt could either be left out or needed to be expanded upon.

But again, House Brokenwas one that I read quite easily so I think that Sonja Yoerg has a fantastic career as a writer coming up.


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

Connect with Sonja Yoerg:
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Saturday, January 24, 2015

Would You Rather with Isabella Louise Anderson

Please welcome Isabella Louise Anderson, author of The Right Design, as she tackles our Desert Island Interview!


Isabella grew up with a book in her hand, and to this day nothing has changed. She is a member of the Romance Writers of America and has been featured on several blogs. While Isabella doesn't blog a lot, she focuses her time on featuring other writers, along with writing and editing.

Isabella Louise Anderson created Chick Lit Goddess to share the love of the following genres: Chick Lit, Contemporary Romance, Romance, and Romantic Comedies! She loves featuring authors and their books.

She lives in Dallas with her husband and cat. She enjoys spicy Mexican food and drinking margaritas, and can be found spending time with family and friends, cheering on the Texas Rangers, and reading.

Isabella's short story, Meet Me Under the Mistletoe, was featured in Simon & Fig's Christmas anthology, Merry & Bright, in November 2013. The Right Design is her first novel.

Connect with Isabella:
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Isabella Louise Anderson Stranded on a Desert Island

   Chips, chocolate or cheese?

Chips! Don’t forget the salsa and/or queso!

Bridget Jones, Becky Bloomwood or Carrie Bradshaw?

Bridget Jones!

Wine, beer or vodka?

Margaritas, please! 

Camping or spa vacation?

Spa vacation

Water or mountains?

Mountains!

Zombies or vampires?

Zombies.

Dogs or cats?

Cats!

Coke or Pepsi?

Pepsi

Coffee or tea?

Tea.

Dine out or take away?

Dine out

High heels, sneakers or flip flops?

If I could, I’d love to wear heels, but since my athletic ability isn’t up to par, I’d say flip flops.

Physical Book or ebook?

eBooks…but really, either will do!

Paperback or Hardcover?

Paperbacks! I love the indentions on the spine of a good book!

Pen or pencil?

Colored pens, please

Mad Men, Downton Abbey or Breaking Bad?

Mad Men

Drama or comedy?

Drama

Twilight or Hunger Games?

Neither, but if I’d have to pick, I’d say the Hunger Games.

Lipstick, lipgloss or chapstick?

Chapstick.

Facebook or Twitter?

Facebook

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

Plot, which is very different coming from an ex-panster. 


The Right Design

Do business and pleasure mix?

In the author's debut novel comes a story about picking up the pieces, letting go of the past, and finding love along the way--even if morals are tested!
Interior designer Carrie Newman could not have envisioned a more perfect life for herself. She had a great job doing what she loved, wonderful friends, and a close relationship with her sister and brother-in-law. Add in an amazing man who she’d hoped would soon become her husband, and her life was perfect. Until one devastating decision ruins her relationship and changes the course of her life.
Determined to make a new start, Carrie leaves Texas and heads to Palm Beach to pick up the pieces of her shattered and broken life. The last thing she expects is to find herself attracted to her first client at her new job--Brad Larson, who has proven himself time and time again to be caddish.
But there’s something beneath the surface of Brad’s arrogant exterior that keeps her craving more of him--something almost sweet that Carrie can’t seem to resist.
Is Carrie ready to take another chance on romance? And will this new design of her life prove to be the right one?

Available at:
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Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Of Marriageable Age by Sharon Maas

5 Star

Savitri, intuitive and charismatic, grows up among the servants of a pre-war English household in the Raj. But the traditional customs of her Brahmin family clash against English upper-class prejudice, threatening her love for the privileged son of the house. 

Nataraj, raised as the son of an idealistic doctor in rural South India, finds life in London heady, with girls and grass easily available… until he is summoned back home to face raw reality.

Saroj, her fire hidden by outward reserve, comes of age in Guyana, South America. When her too-strict, orthodox Hindu father proves to have feet of clay she finally rebels against him... and even against her gentle, apparently docile Ma.

But Ma harbours a deep secret… one that binds these three so disparate lives and hurtles them towards a truth that could destroy their world.


Sabrina-Kate - 5 Star

2014 was a year that I discovered new things to love and the publishing company Bookouture is definitely on that list. Book after book from them were on my must read recommendation list and Of Marriageable Age was no exception.

I have long been a fan of books set in India and this book exceeded my expectations as it spanned several decades and continents with a rich tapestry of experiences and emotions that wove together to create this tale.

Of Marriageable Age was extremely well thought out and I could not anticipate where it would take me and I definitely did not expect how everything became connected. This, to me, was a true indication of the real talent of Sharon Maas as all too often, I find that stories are somewhat predictable or even at times unbelievable. This never happened once while I was reading her book. Everything made sense yet not in a way that I could have expected.

I immediately felt compelled to continue reading as quickly as I could while still savoring every word of this intensely beautifully written book. Each character made you feel for them in their own way but also made you long to know more. Having not grown up in that culture, each precious detail that was provided had its place and helped to understand the story and all the implications.

I cannot imagine having such talent to write such a wonderful story and I can only hope and pray that it is not too long before we are blessed with another of Maas's incredible books.


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

Connect with Sharon Maas:
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Monday, January 19, 2015

Stranded on a Desert Island... with Di Morrissey

Please welcome Di Morrissey, author of The Winter Sea, as she tackles our Desert Island Interview!



THE WINTER SEA, from bestselling Australian author Di Morrissey, tells the story of a woman who finds that her lover’s family past is not quite what it seems. In addition to writing, Di is a prominent activist for international education and women's issues and is much beloved by women around the world.


Connect with Di:
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Di Morrissey Stranded on a Desert Island

     If you could only have one book with you, what would it be? 

War and Peace because it's probably the only time I'll have no distractions in order to read it. 

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

Lovely TV Chef Rick Stein as there's probably only going to be seafood to eat and I want it cooked fabulously.

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

A swiss army knife. The one with scissors.

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

I like solitude but doubt I'll get lonely with those I've chosen to share this adventure.

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

Besides Rick Stein, Survival Expert Bear Gyllis would be useful in building huts, finding that seafood, climbing coconut trees and generally making life on a desert island as comfortable as possible. 

What modern technology would you miss the most?

A working mobile phone to check in on friends and family. If not possible then a pencil and notebook.

What food or beverage would you miss the most? 

My favourite tea from Sri Lanka - Fannings Bop #1.

How many days do you think you would cope without rescue? 

Depends on the performances of Rick Stein and Bear Gyllis. If they are making my life pleasant, who knows? If they turn out to be abject failures then I'd like to be rescued as soon as I've finished War and Peace.

What is the first thing you would do when rescued? 

Soak in a bubble bath with a glass of fine Australian Sauvingnon Blanc.

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

Not doing that again.”

The Winter Sea

Escaping an unhappy marriage and an unsatisfactory job, Cassie Holloway moves to the little Australian coastal town of Whitby Point. There she meets the Aquino family, whose fishing business was founded by their ancestor, Giuseppe, an Italian immigrant, some ninety years before. Life for Cassie on the south west coast is sweet as she sets up a successful restaurant and falls in love with Giuseppe's great grandson Michael. But when the family patriarch dies, a devastating family secret is revealed which threatens to destroy her dreams. Cassie's future happiness now rests with her quest for the truth.

Available at:

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