Tuesday, January 31, 2012

The Princess of Park Avenue

Interview with Author, Daniella Brodsky
Chick-Lit Plus Blog Tour
Purchase link below
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Please tell me a little about yourself.  When did you know you wanted to become an author?
I am a native New Yorker, loving my expat life here in my new hometown of Canberra, Australia, where I’m finishing my next novel and teaching the craft of fiction. As for my dreams of becoming an author, there is a wonderful quote in Lorrie Moore’s “How to Become a Writer,” about this: “First, try to be something, anything, else. A movie star/astronaut. A movie star/missionary. A movie star/kindergarten teacher. President of the World. Fail miserably. It is best if you fail at an early age—say, fourteen. Early critical disillusionment is necessary so that at fifteen you can write long haiku sequences about thwarted desire. It is a pond, a cherry blossom, a wind brushing against sparrow wing leaving for mountain. Count the syllables. Show it to your mom. She is tough and practical. She has a son in Vietnam and a husband who may be having an affair. She believes in wearing brown because it hides spots. She’ll look briefly at your writing, then back up at you with a face blank as a donut. She’ll say: “How about emptying the dishwasher?” Look away. Shove the forks in the fork drawer. Accidentally break one of the freebie gas station glasses. This is the required pain and suffering. This is only for starters.”  I tried to be practical out of university and get a business-y job in publishing, but I discovered very quickly I had a calling and nothing else would do.  I started to tell people I was a novelist, doing this “international licensing thing” on the side.  In a week I had a job assisting a writer.

Please tell me a little about your novel.
Anyone can see Lorraine Machuchi is no ordinary Brooklyn girl.  Anyone except for Lorraine, that is.  She’s been too busy obsessing over Tommy Lupo to notice.  Living day to day on his confusing midnight phone calls and big-haired memories of their relationship in the early nineties, she’s given up any opportunity of leaving Brooklyn.  And though she never saw the home she loves as a failure, there are lots of folks she’s pissed off by staying put—her mother, her dead grandmother’s ghost, not to mention the old Italian ladies who shake their heads at her in the pork store.  And what’s worse, the very guy she tossed everything away for just told her he’ll never wind up with her—a girl who’s not going anywhere.

…Okay, so you might disapprove of her motive—changing for a guy.  But then you probably haven’t seen Tommy with three shirt buttons undone.  Besides, when Lorraine crosses the bridge to Manhattan she begins to realize she’s got a lot to offer.  She starts coloring hair at a swank salon where they actually appreciate a little talent, even if you have to bend some rules to use it.  She gets a fabulous Park Avenue sublet, even if it does involve chasing around a dog/horse named Pooh-Pooh.  She meets a guy who’s actually…perfect, even if she might be too hung up on Mr. Wrong to notice.  She’s asked to become the newest member of the Princesses, an elite group of Park Avenue’s most powerful socialites, even if the reasoning behind it might be a little fishy.  Sure, their $400 cashmere sweaters, charity balls for poor girls with small boobs, and ‘sexy’ yoga are a bit over-the-top, but a Brooklyn girl can learn a lot by discovering her own inner princess…

“If you liked ‘Mean Girls,' you'll get a kick out of Brodsky's book.”
—Farrah Weinstein, New York Post

“Princess of Park Avenue is a delicious self-indulgent treat right up there with a leisurely soak in an aromatherapy infused bubble bath with scented candles…It would be cliché to say that Princess is a ‘good read' but truth be told, it's not only good, it's fabulously fantastic.”
— Karen Marie Shelton, HairBoutique.com

“Daniella Brodsky…charms us with her second novel…Princess of Park Avenue is an entertaining and amusing book that will remind any of us who have found ourselves lost in a relationship with a man that the real ‘us’ still exists and we only have to look in order to find her.”
— Amie Taylor, Bookreporter.com

How did you become published?
I started out trudging through an apprenticeship with a freelance journalist, and became so enlightened by all the wonderful, new experiences I was having that I made the decision—on my way home from seeing my very first fashion show—that I wanted to write a book.  At the time launches and new restaurants and bars were a big part of my journalism rotation, so I came up with the idea for The Girl’s Guide to New York Nightlife, and pitched it to a small publisher.  The rest is history.

What was the publishing process like?
It’s a crazy world, publishing.  You never know what to expect.  Each book has been completely different.  Each partner has been completely different, as well as each editor.  The only constant is yourself.  You’ve got to be open to learning, but also be strong—because it’s a tough biz.

What is something you wish you would have known about the publishing business?
I wish I would have held out for the perfect partner with my first novel.  I had more power than I realized, but I was so grateful to have any opportunity at all that I jumped at the first deal.

What has been your best author experience so far?
Every time I get an email from a reader who enjoyed the experience of reading my book so much that they felt they wanted to reach out to me, well, that makes the whole thing worthwhile.

What is the least thrilling/attractive part of being an author for you?
The publishing world.  It’s a wreck.

Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?
Write, write, write.  Read, read, read.

Do you have a novel in the works?
I do.  THE BOOK CODE is a novel for anyone who loves to read.  It’s all about the ways our favorite books touch us in such individual ways, and stay with us always.  I’m shopping it around right now!

What is the last book you read?
I was at a fellowship at the Varuna Writers Center, and reading all kinds of books I never heard of from their vast library.  I was halfway through Momento Mori, by Muriel Spark when I left.  I’m dying to know how it turned out.  I have my suspicions…

Name three things you couldn’t live without.
My husband, my puppy, and my family.  Can I add a fourth?  Recently, I’ve been having a love affair with gelato…

If you were given the opportunity to invite any 5 people to dinner who would you invite?
Oooh!  Good question!  Since I live far away from my family, the first two people would have to be my brother and sister, after that it’d be my grandmother, whom I lost about six years ago, my father whom I lost as a child, and then Robert Redford (because he’s Robert Redford, duh.)  Would be a great party, I think!

Name three things on your bucket list.
Hmmm, don’t technically have one, so let me see here.  Make the NY Times Bestseller List, Own a Louis Vuitton handbag, learn to be an expert surfer.

What is your preferred writing atmosphere?
I go Hemingway all the way…I’m a café writer.  There’s something about the bustle that gets my blood pumping!  

If you thought this interview was as entertaining as I did, you'll love Daniella's writing.  The Princess of Park Avenue was a joy to read.  It had laugh out loud moments as well as those that make you want to slap someone!  When I read the quote from Farrah I realized why!  I felt the same way about mean girls... laugh out loud moments and times where I just wanted to slap someone.  I recommend reading this entertaining novel!  Once you read something by Daniella, you'll be sure to want more.

About & Connect with Daniella:
Daniella Brodsky is the author of six novels published by Penguin, Random House, and Simon & Schuster, one of which has been adapted by Disney as the film, Beauty & The Briefcase, starring Hilary Duff.Daniella teaches at ANU’s CCE and at her Captain Cook Studio. A native New Yorker, she lives in Canberra, where she is writing her next novel, The Book Code, which has been awarded a 2012 Varuna fellowship.
Buy the Book: Amazon

Friday, January 27, 2012

The Shadow of Your Smile

Author: Susan May Warren
ISBN: 978-1414334837
Publisher: Tyndale House Publishing
Source: Litfuse Publicity Tour
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About the Book:

A beautiful blanket of snow may cover the quaint town of Deep Haven each winter, but it can’t quite hide the wreckage of Noelle and Eli Hueston’s marriage.

After twenty-five years, they’re contemplating divorce . . . just as soon as their youngest son graduates from high school. But then an accident erases part of Noelle's memory. Though her other injuries are minor, she doesn’t remember Eli, their children, or the tragedy that has ripped their family apart. What’s more, Noelle is shocked that her life has turned out nothing like she dreamed it would. As she tries to regain her memory and slowly steps into her role as a wife and mother, Eli helps her readjust to daily life with sometimes-hilarious, sometimes-heartwarming results. But can she fall in love again with a man she can’t remember?

Will their secrets destroy them . . . or has erasing the past given them a chance for a future?

About the Author:

Susan May Warren is the RITA award-winning author of thirty novels with Tyndale, Barbour, Steeple Hill and Summerside Press. A four-time Christy award finalist, a two-time RITA Finalist, she’s also a multi-winner of the Inspirational Readers Choice award, and the ACFW Carol Award.

A seasoned women’s events speaker, she’s a popular writing teacher at conferences around the nation and the author of the beginning writer’s workbook: From the Inside-Out: discover, create and publish the novel in you!. She is also the founder of www.MyBookTherapy.com, a story-crafting service that helps authors discover their voice. You can find her online at: www.susanmaywarren.com.

My Thoughts:
Susan May Warren always impresses me with her well rounded writing style.  She continually creates interesting and intriguing stories that are full of suspenseful attributes, well developed and likable characters, emotion and unique story lines.  The Shadow of Your Smile is no different. I love how the author creates a story that is both intriguing and romantic while stepping outside the box and including a premise of normality.  This story is not your typical romance.  The characters don't have it all together, they are struggling just like everyone else, yet they prove that faith and perseverance are much needed qualities. This intimate and compelling story will stay with you long after you finish reading it.  Warren's talent seems to know no bounds. It really was a pleasure to read!  On a the visual side of reviewing, I have to mention that I love this cover!  It's so attractive, yet sweet.  It made me want to pick up the book right away.

Highly Recommended

The Polski Affair & The Family Affair

Leon H Gildin
Diamond River Books
Book Sparks PR

About the Books:

The Polski Affair is the story of Rosa Feurmann and others who found themselves as "guests" of the Hotel Polski during the Nazi occupation of Warsaw. The Hotel mysteriously drew in Jewish survivors who wished to buy their way to freedom. Rosa, a Jewish partisan infiltrates the hotel. She is detected and comes under the personal control of the Hotel's Nazi Commandant.

What she did to survive continues to haunt Rosa's life. She is called as a witness at the Commandant's War Crimes Trial in Heidelberg and years later, she attends a reunion of the surviving hotel 'guests'. It is only upon her return to Israel that Rosa ultimately reconciles her inner conflicts.

The Family Affair is the sequal to The Polski Affair.

My Thoughts
The Polski Affair is beautifully woven story that takes the worst moments of history and shows the courageous capabilities of humans to hope as well as find happiness and normality in the midst of great persecution.  The book grabbed my attention from the start. Gildin writes clearly and with conviction.  This story comes alive off the pages.  I was sucked into Rosa’s life and found myself horrified yet challenged.  This story is compelling!  With a rich history and gripping reality the story of the holocaust is woven into the pages of this book, engrossing the reader until the final page.  The novel is haunting and emotionally difficult to read at times.  However, this is expected due to the content.  I really enjoyed this book.  It gave me a renewed sense of pride for all those who fought to bring freedom to the Jews and end Hitler’s terrorist reign. I would recommend this novel as well as its sequel, The Family Affair.

The Family Affair is the continuing story of The Polski Affair.  It continues the saga by discussing Anna, her family and how the past affects the future.  This book is just as well written as The Polski Affair and is a very quick and simple read.  It reminds readers that the terror and imprisonment that took place had a lasting effect on generations to come.  Even still today, we learn from the past in order to create a better future.  This story shows the frailty of humans and the power of the mind and its ability to remember and haunt even if you want to move on and forget.  I enjoyed both of these novels and recommend them.  The stories are wonderfully done, well developed, compelling and leave you with a sense of thankfulness for the world we now live in, even though it’s still not perfect.

Recommended Read

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

The Reluctant Crime Writer

  The Reluctant Crime Writer
by Toby Neal, author of Blood Orchids

How did this happen to me? I’m studying Forensics for Dummies with a pack of Post-its. I’m cutting up a chicken in the kitchen with a butcher knife as “research” for a paragraph on dismemberment, leaning in close to listen to the wet thunk and gristly snick of the knife. I’m looking at gruesome pictures of autopsies for accurate descriptions. I’m pulling over to the side of the road and sniffing roadkill, trying for accurate words for the scent of decay. Oh, and I’ve watched about a dozen YouTube videos on handgun cleaning, shooting, loading and handling (still never have touched a real one.)

I’m putting out FB questions—“Anybody know a real policewoman I can interview?” A friend puts me in contact and I meet this intrepid soul for coffee and flattery,  studying her body language, stance, and verbiage while peppering with questions about procedure and the mysterious accoutrements on her duty belt. I’m jogging with my (tiny, fuzzy and idiotic) dogs, imagining myself as the physically fit, badass Lei Texeira, my protagonist, with her Rottweiler.

Through it all, and four books into it, I’m still baffled that I’m writing crime mysteries—but I’ve passed through the denial, bargaining, and anonymity stages and am well on my way to acceptance.

Here’s how it happened:

I wrote a short story on my anonymous blog about a policewoman who’d been sexually abused, who was brave and a little crazy in her persuit of justice. I wrote about the drowning of two young girls, a situation  that I’d dealt with in my real life role as a therapist, helpless to do anything but grieve and help others grieve. I wrote this story to try to work through the trauma of it, to understand it all better somehow.

People wanted to know what happened next so I posted chapters. About 60 pages in, further than I’d ever made it on any of my other attempts, I realized I was so into Lei’s story I was going to be interested enough to actually finish a novel (after about 10 aborted novelets? Novelinas? No-vellums that petered out.)
And I finished Blood Orchids.

I found Lei had more to learn, more cases to solve, more islands to explore, healing to experience and sex to have—and I was still totally into her story. Four books in, and I haven’t lost interest in the seedy underbelly of humanity (did I mention I’m a therapist?) and the dual faces of Hawaii—paradise, and purgatory.

I’m a little embarrassed by this. I’m a nice person, a people helper—staid and a little matronly in my flowered pants and tank tops with pearls.  This fascination with fighting crime really seems…unseemly.

But what I’ve also discovered is that I have a side that loves to root for the underdog, that revels in justice, and that wishes I could be more active than wiping the tears of victims. It’s that side that revels in Lei’s ass kicking of psychologically sick perpetrators… and so in a way it all does make sense.

Anyone else surprised by what they like to write—and what they like to read?

Make sure to grab a copy of Blood Orchids!  It has a beautiful cover, an intriguing story line and an author you'll want to read again!

Friday, January 20, 2012

Stay Tuned

Lauren Clark
ISBN: 978-0984725007
Publisher: Monterey Press
Source: CLP Blog Tours

For Melissa Moore, crisis management is all part of the job, but not part of her life.  As a TV producer, Melissa has had her fair share of crisis.  From a high maintenance boss to a co-worker and employee disputes, Melissa has seen it all.  In fact, not much surprises her, or so she thought.  When a fight breaks out on set during the ten o’clock news, Melissa is in for big changes.  Her two news anchors end up fired due to their brawling fist fight, Melissa agrees to fill in.  Her new temporary position requires a much needed makeover, complete with haircut, heels and of course the outfit.  Melissa’s natural talent impresses her station and the viewers.  Best of all, Melissa loves the job, though when it will end is uncertain.  While her work life continues to exceed, her personal life is riddled with drama and crisis.  Her husband is never home, working just as much as she is.  Their marriage has defaulted to sticky notes left around the house, the messages from her husband being of few words.  Her mother is out of control, reeking havoc upon her nursing home and on top of it all, Melissa has a stalker. 
Stay Tuned is appropriately titled as the reader is left to keep reading in order to discover how Melissa’s life will unfold.  Fast paced and realistic, this novel is well written, dramatic, entertaining while being quite serious too.  Everyone has crazy drama, wild relatives and a messy life.  This book is completely relatable and a pleasure to read.  The author created well developed and likeable characters.  While Melissa is easy to understand, connect with and relate too, Alyssa is funny and completely crazy in a way that brings comic relief.  After all, what else can you do but laugh at a crazy character?
The book is written in a manner that enables the reader to move through Melissa’s life in non-continual basis.  Instead at times days or weeks are skipped as the story advances.  This makes the story more realistic but also slightly confusing at times.  Dates or simple words such as 3 days later could have fixed this, though the issue is not major. 
I connected to this book in different manners but totally felt for Melissa when it came to her mother’s trials in this story.  Melissa’s mother had her at a late age and is now in a nursing home, suffering from dementia.  While Melissa struggles with her expectations of her mother and her disease, the reader can’t help but feel sorry for her.  This section hit close to home for me since my grandma was diagnosed with the disease.  The story has many storylines that are quite intriguing.  It kept my attention easily.  I would highly recommend this novel to others, it was a great read.  I look forward to more from Lauren Clark.
Highly Recommended

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Baker Towers

Author: Jennifer Haigh
ISBN: 978-0060509415
Publisher: William Morrow
Tour: TLC Book Tours
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About the Book:
Stanley Novak is a first-generation Polish immigrant. Seeking a better life, he settles in Bakerton and finds work in the booming local mine. He meets and marries Rose, a shy, beautiful Italian girl. They move to a mine-owned house in an area of town known as Polish Hill, teeming with immigrants from all over Europe, all chasing the American Dream. Five children follow for the Novaks. The Novak children belong to what will someday be known as the Greatest Generation, but for now, they are just trying to find their identities in a vastly changing world. The five children could not be more different. The eldest, George, avoids signing up but is drafted to the Pacific when America joins the war. He comes home determined to leave Bakerton behind, but finds it much more difficult the second time around. Dorothy is a fragile and naive girl, who finds it hard to cope with her desk job in Washington. Joyce, fiercely intelligent, must hold the family together and remains bitterly aware of the life that she could have had. Sandy, the youngest boy, swans through life with his movie-star looks, never taking responsibility for his actions. And Lucy, the youngest, must find her own path in the shadow of her formidable siblings. Haigh gives us a beautiful snapshot of a small town -- of company houses and union squabbles; the boom and bust of the post-war years; the immigrant neighbourhoods of Swedetown, Little Italy and Polish Hill; the miners, undertakers, soldiers, firemen and housewives who populate the town and bring it to life.

Plot: The story chronicles the lives of the 5 Novak children as they grow up in Bakerton, a small mining town in Pennsylvania.  The story begins during WWII and continues in the decades that follow.  The plot is harrowing and insightful.  I felt the author did a beautiful job of displaying life during this time period for a migrant family living in a coal mining town. The story line is not of an upbeat nature.  To be honest, the novel is quite gloomy and slightly depressing, though it fits what it is, reminding us all that life doesn't always turn out to be what we expect or want.

Pace: While intriguing and honest, the story has a thoughtful pace.  It's slower due to the gloomy aspects of the book yet it keeps your interest in the outcome of the characters fate.

Writing Style:  Jennifer Haigh writes this novel in a narrating voice. When I first started the novel, I couldn't help but think "Picture it.  Sicily. 19..."  The catch phrase of Sophia Patrillo of The Golden Girls.  The story sets itself up for narration right off the bat.  Soon you, as the the reader, are soaked in a story involving this family of children and immersed in their trials and the outcome of their lives as it unfolds.  Haigh remains faithful to her unique style that sparks conversations and ignites thought regarding the sensitive and sometimes harsh matters of life.

Overall - Baker Towers is a haunting and vivid story that comes alive through Jen's writing.  It is not a fairy tale by any means.  I can't really say I found anything funny or happy about this novel, but again that's not surprising considering the story.  I genuinely appreciate Ms. Haigh's writing.  This is the second book I have read by her and I have both The Condition and Mrs.Kimble in my reading lineup.  I anticipate these two and look forward to more by Jennifer Haigh.  If you haven't read Faith, I recommend it as well.

Recommended Read

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Arrow Rock

Author: Sandy Selby
Series: Image of America
ISBN: 978-0738591544
Publisher: Arcadia Publishing
Purchase Link

About the Book:
From its earliest appearance in recorded history, Arrow Rock has been a destination for travelers. Native Americans came for the flint at the "rock of arrows," Lewis and Clark noted "a cliff called the Arrow Rock," and pioneers stocked their wagons there before heading down the Santa Fe Trail. Established in 1829, Arrow Rock grew quickly and attracted powerful citizens, including the innovative Dr. John Sappington and artist George Caleb Bingham. By the mid-1800s, Arrow Rock was a center for commerce and politics, but its prominence was short-lived. It was devastated by fires, bypassed by railroads, and abandoned by the shifting Missouri River. Its story might have ended there, but another kind of pioneer arrived in the early 20th century, when the Daughters of the American Revolution restored the deteriorating J. Huston Tavern. Other preservationists followed, and because of their commitment, today's Arrow Rock is a National Historic Landmark with lovingly restored properties, a thriving professional theater, and citizens who believe the town's future lies in its extraordinary past.

About the Author:
Author Sandy Selby, an award-winning writer and editor, lives in Arrow Rock, where she serves as a town board representative, Friends of Arrow Rock trustee, and Historic Arrow Rock Council president.  Sandy is also the editor-in-chief of Inside Columbia Magazine, an award winning city magazine.

I am proud to present Arrow Rock to all of you!  I work with Sandy and know she has put a lot of time and effort into this book.  She has put her heart and soul into this book.  Sandy is a writer full of integrity and I'm proud to know her and watch her celebrate during this exciting time.  If you love history, non-fiction, or intriguing writing, you'll love this book.  It is available for pre-order and makes it's debut May 7th!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

The Keeper

About the Book:
Julia Lapp has planned on marrying Paul Fisher since she was a girl. Now twenty-one, she looks forward to their wedding with giddy anticipation. When Paul tells her he wants to postpone the wedding--again--she knows who is to blame. Perpetual bachelor and spreader of cold feet, Roman Troyer, theBee Man.
Roamin' Roman travels through the Amish communities of Ohio and Pennsylvania with his hives full of bees, renting them out to farmers in need of pollinators. He relishes his nomadic life, which keeps him from thinking about all he has lost. He especially enjoys bringing his bees to Stoney Ridge each year. But with Julia on a mission to punish him for inspiring Paul's cold feet, the Lapp farm is looking decidedly less pleasant.

Can Julia secure the future she's always dreamed of? Or does God have something else in mind?
My Thoughts:
Suzanne Woods Fisher writes far more than Amish fiction in The Keeper. Within the context of an Amish community, Fisher presents a love story full of doubt, confusion and the chance of discovery.  Fisher creates a story true to life, where the characters are not certain which path to take, which choice is right or what life holds for them in the future.  Quite often they find themselves unsure, when things don't fall in the confines of black and white, the gray areas dominate and the characters are left to decipher their path given the events and circumstances of their lives.
One of the things I enjoy most about Suzanne Fisher's writing is her ability to keep Amish and English equal.  More often than not, Amish fiction depicts Amish as good and English as the evil, when in reality we are all equal and no one is perfect.  I appreciate that even though the beliefs are different Fisher brings out the best in her Amish and English characters, giving them human qualities of friendship, acceptance and understanding.  I enjoy the drama brought by the struggle between ones self and their beliefs without the put down of one side over another.
Inside this story is a tender, clean romance full of family, friends and relate able characters.  The novel which is the first in its series leaves you anticipating the release of book two.  The book is well written, integrating faith, personal conflict and uncertainty together with hope and faith in each character, giving the reader an intimate look at each character, their personality and their thoughts.  The story is engaging, humorous and heartwarming.  I enjoyed her fast paced, witty writing style.  Before I knew it, I'd finished the book.  it's a great contemporary Amish romance for those who prefer clean, dramatic love stories or for those who want a break from their normal reading.  It's a mini vacation for your taking, as you find yourself transplanted from the living room to an Amish farm.
Highly Recommended
About the Author:
Her interest in the Amish began with her grandfather, W.D. Benedict, who was raised Plain. She has many, many Plain relatives living in Franklin County, Pennsylvania, and travels back to Pennsylvania, as well as to Ohio, a couple of times each year for research.

Suzanne has a great admiration for the Plain people and believes they provide wonderful examples to the world.  In both her fiction and non-fiction books, she has an underlying theme: You don't have to "go Amish" to incorporate many of their principles--simplicity, living with less, appreciating nature, forgiving others more readily-- into your life.

When Suzanne isn't writing or bragging to her friends about her first new grandbaby (!), she is raising puppies for Guide Dogs for the Blind. To Suzanne's way of thinking, you just can't take life too seriously when a puppy is tearing through your house with someone's underwear in its mouth.
Suzanne can be found on-line at: www.suzannewoodsfisher.com.
About the Giveaway

It's a "honey of a giveaway"!

Enter to win an iPad2 from Suzanne and connect with her on January 17th at The Keeper Facebook Party!

During the giveaway one Grand Prize winner will receive a Prize Pack valued at $600:
  • A brand new 16 KB iPad 2 with Wi-Fi
  • A $25 gift certificate to iTunes
  • A copy of The Keeper 
But wait there's more! Just click one of the icons below to enter, then on 1/17 join Suzanne for The Keeper Facebook Party! During the party Suzanne will announce the winner of the "Honey" of an iPad Giveaway and host a fun book chat and give away some fun "honey" inspired prizes - It'll be 'sweet"!
RSVP early and tell your friends!
Tell your friends on FACEBOOK or TWITTER and increase your chances of winning. Good luck and we hope to see you on the 17th at 5:00 PM PST (6:00 MST, 7:00 CST, 8:00 EST)!


Sunday, January 1, 2012

The Bungalow

Author: Sarah Jio
ISNB: 978-0-452-29767-8
Publisher: Plume
Rating: Highly Recommended


A sweeping saga of thwarted love, murder, and a long-lost painting… In the summer of 1942, twenty-one-year-old Anne Calloway, newly engaged, sets off to serve in the Army Nurse Corps on the Pacific island of Bora-Bora. More exhilarated by the adventure of a lifetime than she ever was by her predictable fiance, she is drawn to a mysterious soldier named Westry, and their friendship soon blossoms into hues as deep as the hibiscus flowers native to the island. under the thatched roof of an abandoned beach bungalow, the two share a private world–until they witness a gruesome crime, Westry is suddenly redeployed, and the idyll vanishes into the winds of war. A timeless story of enduring passion, The bungalow chronicles Anne’s determination to discover the truth about the twin losses–of life and, and of love–that have haunted her for seventy years.

An Excerpt:

Tuck a slip of paper into a flimsy envelope, seal it with a swipe of the tongue, then send it on its way.  That letter might be handled by dozens of people and journey a thousand miles before reaching the intended mailbox, where it nestles anonymously between pages twenty-nine and thirty of some unwanted catalog, lying in wait for its unsuspecting recipient, who tosses the catalog, with its treasure tucked inside, into the recycle bin with a flick of the wrist.  There, next to the poorly rinsed milk cartons, an empty wine bottle, and yesterday's newspaper, a life-changing piece of mail quietly awaits.

That letter was for me...

My Thoughts:
In Sarah’s second novel this year, lies a story of love, passion, war and mystery.  Set on the idyllic island of Bora-Bora, during WWII, Sara pens a deeply intriguing story of Anne Calloway and the summer she spent serving in the Army Nurse Corps.  It was a summer that changed her life forever…

I’m still impressed that Sarah released her debut novel in April of 2011 and published her second novel in December of the same year.  If you follow my blog you know how impressed I was with Sarah’s first book, The Violets of March.  You’d never guess these two wonderful books were released in the same year by reading them.  I’m happy to say The Bungalow lived up to my high expectations, set by The Violets of March.

What most impresses and amazes me about The Bungalow is how different it is from The Violets of March.  Both stories hold mystery and romance, yet they have completely different tones.  They are so alike in that they are irresistible, well written, intriguing and page turners yet they are so different at the same time.  Both stories have their own unique setting as well as characters, that carries you to different periods of time and leave you wondering what Ms. Jio has in store next.  Sarah solidifies herself as a talented and versatile author with this story.

The Bungalow is an amazing story of love during WWII, an island oasis, a long lost painting and a mystery unsolved.  The story is told through Anne as she re-counts the period of her life to her granddaughter.  The reader is taken from the present to the past and back again.  The story will keep you rooted in your seat as you experience Anne’s journey.

Sarah has managed to create another wonderful and intriguing story while remaining completely original with the fresh voice of a debut author.  The Bungalow will appeal to a wise audience of readers due to its many facets.  I highly suggest The Bungalow as your next read.

Highly Suggested Read

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A Q&A with Connie Brockway & Giveaway

About the Book:

Set in 1897, The Other Guy's Bride is the story of a budding archeologist who impersonates a bride-to-be in order to get a cynical adventurer to escort her deep into a lawless desert in her search for the lost city of Zerzura.

    The Other Guy’s Bride picks up some 20 years after As You Desire left off. In fact, the female protagonist of the new book is Ginisse Braxton, the daughter of the prequel’s hero and heroine. Brockway says she gave the character that particular first name because the Arab word for “little imp” or “demon” is “djinn,” pronounced “gin.” So Ginisse seemed the perfect name for someone who—with the very best of intentions—constantly fell into scrapes, both while growing up around her family’s archaeological digs in Egypt and later in life.

    Brockway says she based her development of Ginisse as a character in large part on a friend of hers, the daughter of extremely successful parents.
“My friend’s parents had expectations that she didn’t meet,” Brockway explained. “She took a different path to a different sort of success than what they’d planned. I thought that would make for an intriguing character in a book.”

Brockway’s male protagonist, Jim Owens, is in mortal danger as the story begins because he joined the Foreign Legion after receiving a Dear John letter. He swears he’ll never do anything stupid
because of a woman again . . . then spends the rest of the book doing just that—because of another woman: Ginisse.

Determined to prove her mettle, budding archeologist Ginisse Braxton sets out in 1897 to solve one of the world’s great mysteries by finding the lost city of Zerzura. Trapped by his own code of ethics into repaying a debt, cynical, aristocrat-in-disguise adventurer Jim Owen agrees to shepherd the fiancée of a man he abhors across a lawless desert. A major complication: Upon discovering no one was willing to risk taking her to the danger-filled location she wants to explore, Ginisse has falsely assumed the identity of the woman Jim agreed to escort. Now, in addition to facing tremendous peril from roving bandits plus desert heat and storms, Jim finds himself confronting the only danger he’s intentionally avoided since coming to Egypt: falling in love. And of course it has to be with the one woman he thinks he’s honor-bound to help become The Other Guy’s Bride.

The novel was released in digital format November 22, and published in trade paperback December 22. Set in Egypt in the late 19th century, The Other Guy’s Bride has already garnered high praise from critics and bestselling authors alike.

Q&A with Connie Brockway, Author of The Other Guy's Bride

Connie Brockway: For years, readers have been asking me to write sequels to two of their favorite books, As You Desire and All Through the Night. Happily, they happen to be two of my favorites also, so the idea of revisiting the characters and settings has always been particularly appealing and always something I intended to do. After spending the last five years doing Regency romances, I’ve been starving to write something set outside the British Isles, something that would be both familiar and exotic. Turn-of-the-century Egypt fit the bill. Not only is it historically and culturally rich, but a treasure trove of fun and fascinating minutiae (and I do love my minutiae). Bonus points for being peopled with intriguing historical figures from all over the world. And finally, that sort of milieu provides the opportunity to write a love story outside the mainstream of Polite Society, where the rules are different, the stakes are higher, the romance more exquisite.

Question: Since this is, as you mentioned, a departure from your Regency romances, what research did you do while writing the book to help you create the setting and your characters?

Connie Brockway: Books. Dozens of nonfiction books. I read about Thomas Cook’s ship tours and the advent of all-inclusive cruising, Mark Twain’s journals about his trip to Egypt, histories of ancient Egypt and the Sudan, books about the French Foreign Legion and the life of Sir Eldon Gorst and books about the birth of archeology and the establishment of Arabian horse bloodlines. And then there were the websites and the hyperlinks, and...

Question: Is there any character you most identify with? Why?

Connie Brockway: Well, since I just finished cleaning up the house after the Easter extravaganza, I’d have to say the housemaid.

Question: How does The Other Guy’s Bride compare to your previous titles? What can readers expect?

Connie Brockway: I expect readers will find all the elements they’ve enjoyed in the past: engaging characters, irreverent humor, and sigh-provoking romance. But it will have a freshness and spark that comes out of my feeling less of a need to follow a proscribed romance blueprint.

Question: What other authors or books have influenced your writing?

Connie Brockway: Such a hard question! I read constantly in all sorts of genres and it’s hard to pin-point specific titles but as far as romances go, I started out being drawn to the rich, detailed narrative styles of Victoria Holt and Mary Stewart. Dorothy Cannell’s mysteries, starting with The Thin Woman, gave me my first inkling that romance could be downright hilarious and still breathtaking. The unique, fully-fleshed characters created by authors as Pat Gaffney, Laura Kinsale, and the wonderful late Edith Layton have certainly inspired me to be equally conscientious in creating my own characterizations.

Question: Have you considered trying your hand at other genres?

Connie Brockway: I’ve already authored two books that crossed from contemporary romance into contemporary women’s fiction. I’m very intrigued about relationships outside of a strictly romantic one, how those bonds morph and develop throughout a lifetime, as well as community and family dynamics. Those books gave me the chance to indulge my curiosity. As for the future, I’m almost always in the middle of reading a mystery and hope to some day try my hand at historical mystery.

The Other Guy's Bride: Paperback

The Other Guy's Bride: E-Book Format

Author's Amazon Page

Connie's Website


Enter to win!! 

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As always, Happy Reading!!
Question: You’ve written over 20 different titles ranging from historical romance to contemporary women’s fiction. What inspired you to write The Other Guy’s Bride?