The House On blackberry Hill by Donna Alward

House on Blackberry Hill (Jewell Cove, #1)House on Blackberry Hill by Donna Alward

When a young woman inherits a rundown mansion, the last thing she expects to find is the key to her heart…

Abby Foster is a fish out of water in the Maine coastal town of Jewell Cove. The crumbling Foster estate, left to her by a relative she never even knew, has everyone’s eyes on her—an eerie reminder of the long-buried family secrets that have haunted her…forever. Single, stunning, and sometimes too strong-willed for her own good, Abby’s plan is to sell the house and hightail it back to Nova Scotia. But another part of her is intrigued by the idea of starting over somewhere new—and finally learning the truth about her heritage.

The House On Blackberry Hill

Enter Tom Arseneault. The best contractor in Jewell Cove, Tom is determined to restore the beauty and prestige of the Foster mansion—and maybe even work his charms on its beautiful new heir. The attraction between him and Abby is undeniable, and the more time Tom spends on the house the more he wants to be in it with her. But Abby’s not sure she can trust him—or anyone in Jewell Cove who seems to know more about her family history than she does. Home: Is it really where the heart is after all?

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

“The House on Blackberry Hill” by Donna Alward is a lovely contemporary romance with historical ties and a strong feeling of roots and family connections.

I liked this book very much. Every once in a while I am lucky enough to find a book that has such wonderful atmosphere that it transports me from the world I know to the same place the characters are in. This is one of those books. The descriptions are perfect. I could smell the scent of blackberries in the air and feel the breeze upon my skin.

This is a very family and small town oriented story. The author did a superb job of introducing her characters. There was enough about their previous lives to make them interesting, but not so much time spent recounting the past that it got boring. Reading this book was like making new friends.

I enjoyed watching the mysteries about the old family home come to light. The understated paranormal in this story worked really well with the plot. I am really looking forward to the next book.

As the romance was more sweet and authentic and than hot and sexy and the love scenes were very mild, this would be an excellent choice for those who like love story based romances.

Overall, this was an intriguing book that satisfied my desire to escape reality for a bit. I’d definitely recommend it.

This review is based on a complimentary copy from the publisher and provided through Netgalley. All opinions are my own.

An interview and opportunity to win a signed copy from Francis Guenette

The Light Never Lies - ebook cover - Francis L. GuenetteFrancis Guenette - author photo

 Synopsis:

As circumstances spiral out of control, Lisa-Marie is desperate to return to Crater Lake. The young girl’s resolve is strengthened when she learns that Justin Roberts is headed there for a summer job at the local sawmill. Her sudden appearance causes turmoil. The mere sight of Lisa-Marie upsets the relationship Liam Collins has with trauma counsellor, Izzy Montgomery. All he wants to do is love Izzy, putter in the garden and mind the chickens. Bethany struggles with her own issues as Beulah hits a brick wall in her efforts to keep the organic bakery and her own life running smoothly. A native elder and a young boy who possesses a rare gift show up seeking family. A mystery writer arrives to rent the guest cabin and a former client returns looking for Izzy’s help. Life is never dull for those who live on the secluded shores of Crater Lake. Set against the backdrop of Northern Vancouver Island, The Light Never Lies is a story of heartbreaking need and desperate measures. People grapple with the loss of cherished ideals to discover that love comes through the unique family ties they create as they go.

 

Author Bio:

Francis Guenette has spent most of her life on the west coast of British Columbia. She lives with her husband and finds inspiration for writing in the beauty and drama of their lakeshore cabin and garden. She has a graduate degree in Counselling Psychology from the University of Victoria, British Columbia, Canada. She has worked as an educator, trauma counsellor and researcher. The Light Never Lies is her second novel. Francis blogs over at http://disappearinginplainsight.com and maintains a Facebook author page. Please stop by and say hello.

Read on after the interview to find out more about how you can win a signed copy of this book.

 

Tell us a little about you and your writing projects.

I live on the shores of an isolated lake on Northern Vancouver Island, BC, Canada. If you’ve read my books, that will sound familiar. I’ve used this setting as my fictional jumping off spot for the first two novels of The Crater Lake Series – Disappearing in Plain Sight and The Light Never Lies. I’m currently working on the third in the series that is tentatively titled, Chasing Down the Night.

I’ve worked in various areas of education most of my life – lately as a trauma counsellor, earlier with challenged young people. Many of these themes come out in my writing. Because I’ve always had a good sense of humour, even though my books cover some hard-hitting topics, the reader will find more than a few laughs amid the tears.

What first made you decide to become an author? Was there a specific genre you knew you would write in or did it just happen when you began writing?

My way into writing fiction was through a round-about route. I spent a lot of time honing my writing skills in very different arena – academia. Then one day, I ran up against a brick wall. I came home to the lake and wandered the trails for days on end trying to clear my thoughts and figure out why my ability to get on with my current project was so blocked. I found no answer to that question, but in those days of being near the lake and walking, the characters for my first novel popped into my head. The idea of these people and the unique situations they found themselves in took over my thoughts and resulted in an absolute shift from one type of writing to another – from one career to another. I didn’t think at all about genre – I just knew I had to tell the story my characters were clamouring to have told.

Who are some of your literary heroes?

I have always been a big fan of Hemingway – mostly his short stories. To be able to say so much with so few words tends to make a writer heroic, at least in my mind.

If you could have a conversation with any author, alive or passed on, who would it be and why?

I would love to sit down and have a chat with J.R. Rowlings about what it was like to start out the way she did and end up where she has gone. How did she find the courage, especially in the beginning, to stay with the writing? Was there a moment when she saw the fame coming? How did she feel? Did the popularity of the first books shape her writing of the last ones? Her rise to fame as a writer fascinates me.

What advice do you have for new authors about publishing and marketing?

Hands down, marketing is the most difficult part of the entire writing process. I chose self-publishing and that has its picky, hair-pulling moments, for sure. The learning curve is steep, but that is nothing compared to the grind that marketing can be. There are so many voices (blogs, books, those who have made it big) telling the new author what to do and it is very difficult to make a wise choice. Advice from those who made it big is almost always out-of-date – things are changing so fast in the realm of self-published book promotion. It seems as though every click on the social media network reveals new sites offering services that will bring one’s book to prominence. Rarely are there any statistics to relate these services to actual sales. It is a buyer-beware market. Okay, lest I sound all doom and gloom here, I do have three small pieces of advice. Hunker down for the long haul, limit time spent on social media, and write your next book.

Anything else you would like the audience to know?

Self-publishing has thrown the gates wide open for all the people who always thought they had a story in them. Now they can tell that story and get it out in the world. This reality is a double-edged sword. For every author who rewrites so many times they’ve lost count, has the money to spend for a discerning editor, good cover design and formatting, there are a dozen others who didn’t think rewrites, or editing, or cover design and formatting are all that important. Or maybe they couldn’t afford such luxury. Either way, if you read widely across the self-publishing spectrum you will definitely find a mixed bag of lemons and gems.

This need not discourage anyone. Quality will always rise – it just takes time. More gatekeepers are not the answer. Readers will decide. They’ll find the books they like and then they’ll come back for more. We writers must produce the most professional product we can and then we just have to be patient. In the words of W.B. Kinsella in his wonderful novel, Shoeless Joe (that became the basis for the movie, Field of Dreams) “If you build it they will come.”

Where can we find you on the various social media outlets?

I blog over on WordPress: http://disappearinginplainsight.com

I have an author Facebook page that I keep up-to-date and topical: https://www.facebook.com/pages/francisguenetteauthor/377139735716267

You can also find me on Twitter: https://twitter.com/FrancisGuenette

And over at Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6978213.Francis_L_Guenette

 

*Want to win a signed copy of this great book? All you have to do is comment to be entered in the drawing. One random commenter from this blog tour  will win a copy signed by Francis. Give it a shot, it could be you!

Spice up your April with Harlequin :) A lovely giveaway

If you live in North America and you are interested in a bit of romance and fun for April, take a moment to check out this post.

Here’s what you gotta do to win:

 

Give me the title and author of your very favourite Harlequin book of all time, then tweet, reblog or share this post to your favourite social media outlet! One random winner will be chosen on Thursday, the 17th of April. Please remember that this giveaway is only for those in NORTH AMERICA :)

April is Billionaires month at Harlequin!

 

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And here is what you can win–I want one too!

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Here are some of the exciting things you can find at Harlequin.com

0514-9780373755219-bigw

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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1404_hp_fourFriends_mainSo go give the site a look and see if something tickles your fancy.

And here is a calendar of themes for the coming months.

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Lincoln’s Boy’s by Joshua Zeitz

Lincoln's Boys: John Hay, John Nicolay, and the War for Lincoln's ImageLincoln’s Boys: John Hay, John Nicolay, and the War for Lincoln’s Image by Joshua Zeitz

 

A timely and intimate look into Abraham Lincoln’s White House through the lives of his two closest aides and confidants

Lincoln’s official secretaries John Hay and John Nicolay enjoyed more access, witnessed more history, and knew Lincoln better than anyone outside of the president’s immediate family. Hay and Nicolay were the gatekeepers of the Lincoln legacy. They read poetry and attendeded the theater with the president, commiserated with him over Union army setbacks, and plotted electoral strategy. They were present at every seminal event, from the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation to Lincoln’s delivery of the Gettysburg Address—and they wrote about it after his death.

In their biography of Lincoln, Hay and Nicolay fought to establish Lincoln’s heroic legacy and to preserve a narrative that saw slavery—not states’ rights—as the sole cause of the Civil War. As Joshua Zeitz shows, the image of a humble man with uncommon intellect who rose from obscurity to become a storied wartime leader and emancipator is very much their creation.

Drawing on letters, diaries, and memoirs, Lincoln’s Boys is part political drama and part coming-of-age tale—a fascinating story of friendship, politics, war, and the contest over history and remembrance.

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I have great respect for this book, having just finished it and now feeling as though I understand things about the former president and those closest to him that I did not before.

It is not a secret that I am somewhat of a Lincoln freak, so when I saw this book I knew I had to read it. I expected this book to be well organised and interesting. What I didn’t expect was the level of careful detail the author included about the lives of John Nicolay and John Hay. He was meticulous in his research and recounting of their lives, and yet this book was not just a string of boring facts.

Looking back into the past through the author’s words was an experience that I shall not soon forget. If you are a fan of historical non-fiction, his book will definitely be one you will want to add to your shelves.

It was fascinating to see where these two men came from and what happened before the careers that they became synonymous with. This book reminds you that even the most powerful and memorable people came from somewhere besides fame.

This review is based on a complimentary copy from Netgalley and the publisher. All opinions are my own.

View all my reviews

A question of film and lit

I want to see that book made into a film! We hear this and say this all the time, but do you ever think, I want to see that film made into a book? I have been wondering about this for a while. There have been many times when I watched a film and thought–this would have been so much better as a book. Every have that feeling? Often it is because I didn’t feel the film had the time to explore the story as much as the book would have and that gets me wondering where it might have gone had it been a book.

What movies would you turn into books if you could?

What are some of your favourite books that have become movies?

 

*As a side note, I know I haven’t been around much lately everyone, and I apologise for that. I miss reading blogs and interacting with you all. Work has been crazy and it has been pre-testing time for my boys in preparation for their state mandated CRT’s. Busy, busy. I’ve also got a pile of books to read–but that is a problem I am willing to smile about.

Anyway–I love you guys, and as soon as things settle I will be back in action full time, stalking your blogs with nonsensical comments and hugs.

 

 

Support your local indies! Read a book!

 

The Winter King by Alys Clare

The Winter King: A Hawkenlye 13th Century British MysteryThe Winter King: A Hawkenlye 13th Century British Mystery by Alys Clare

All Saint’s Eve, 1211. An overweight but wealthy nobleman, desperate for an heir, dies at the celebration feast he’s thrown in his own hall. A natural death . . . or at the hands of his reluctant new wife?

Sabin de Gifford, an apothecary and healer of note, is called to examine the body, and concludes that he died of a spasm to the heart. But she is troubled, all the same, and beset by suspicions. Did the man really die of a heart attack? Or was something more sinister to blame?

There is only one person Sabin can turn to for help: fellow healer Meggie, daughter of Sir Josse d’Acquin. But what she requires of her is dangerous indeed . . .

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Winter King is one of my favourite historical books of the season. When I began reading this book, there was a little confusion for me since I came into it in the midst of a series, which I had not originally realised, but soon, the book made perfect sense without having to have read the previous.

There are so many things to love about this novel and the characters in it. First of all, the author stays true to the dialogue and speech patterns of her characters from the beginning to the end. Reading this is like getting the juicy secrets of an age gone by directly from the source.

Alys Clare is a pro at creating tense situations for her characters and making the reader do their own investigating and contemplating to figure out the mysteries at hand. She doesn’t reveal too much at once, ensuring that the excitement stays at the forefront of her reader’s mind.

I liked the way she portrayed the villains in this book as much as the way she made you trust and have faith in the heroes. Unlikely heroes are always my favourite anyway.

This book started out with some excitement and ended the same way.

If I had to choose one thing that I didn’t love as much about this novel, it would be the way that a lot of the action is recounted through the speech of the narrator and the various characters rather than being experienced first hand. This gave a somewhat blunted view of the happenings, in my opinion.

Still, I enjoyed this book very much and look forward to hearing the thoughts of others who read it. Recommended.

This review is based in a complimentary digital copy from Netgalley and the publisher. All opinions are my own and no other compensation was received.

Dark Surrender by Erica Ridley

Dark SurrenderDark Surrender by Erica Ridley

TRAPPED IN DARKNESS . . .

Violet Whitechapel committed an unspeakable crime to save a child. To escape the hangman’s noose, she takes refuge in a crumbling abbey with secrets darker than her own. When its master offers her a temporary post, Violet cannot say no. Just as she begins to see him in a new light, her past catches up to her and endangers them all.

THEIR PASSION BURNS BRIGHT . . .

Alistair Waldegrave keeps his daughter imprisoned in the black heart of his Gothic abbey. As he searches for a cure to the disease the villagers call demonic, his new governess brings much needed light into their lives. But how can the passion between them survive the darkness encroaching from outside their sheltered walls?

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

“Dark Surrender” by Erica Ridley is another fine example of this author’s ability to create stories that stay with the reader. Her books are atmospheric and ripe with chemistry and tension between her characters.

What first caught my attention about this novel was the way the characters were introduced using a bit of mystery and intrigue. I was immediately taken with the main character and the recalling of her past that began to emerge as the story progressed.

The dialogue was well handled in this novel, seeming appropriate for the setting and the tie period. The dark and Gothic feel of this book was not as strong as expected, but I thought it worked for the individual story.

I did contemplate whether or not the main character would have become taken with her mysterious love interest so soon when she’d previously been treated so unfairly by men, but in the end that didn’t make much difference to the overall story.

There were a few unexpected plot twists and a lot of tense moments that made for good reading. I would recommend this book to those who enjoy a bit darker and more complex romance.

This review is based on a complimentary copy from Netgalley and the publisher. All opinions are my own.

The Butcher by Jennifer Hillier

The ButcherThe Butcher by Jennifer Hillier

From the author of the acclaimed suspense novels Creep and Freak and whom Jeffery Deaver has praised as a “top of the line thriller writer,” The Butcher is a high-octane novel about lethal secrets that refuse to die—until they kill again.

A rash of grisly serial murders plagued Seattle until the infamous “Beacon Hill Butcher” was finally hunted down and killed by police chief Edward Shank in 1985. Now, some thirty years later, Shank, retired and widowed, is giving up his large rambling Victorian house to his grandson Matt, whom he helped raise.

Settling back into his childhood home and doing some renovations in the backyard to make the house feel like his own, Matt, a young up-and-coming chef and restaurateur, stumbles upon a locked crate he’s never seen before. Curious, he picks the padlock and makes a discovery so gruesome it will forever haunt him… Faced with this deep dark family secret, Matt must decide whether to keep what he knows buried in the past, go to the police, or take matters into his own hands.

Meanwhile Matt’s girlfriend, Sam, has always suspected that her mother was murdered by the Beacon Hill Butcher—two years after the supposed Butcher was gunned down. As she pursues leads that will prove her right, Sam heads right into the path of Matt’s terrible secret.

A thriller with taut, fast-paced suspense, and twists around every corner, The Butcher will keep you guessing until the bitter, bloody end.

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book is like a bad habit–but in a good way.

Things I love about this book:

The pace was right. The story revolved around a few different central main characters. Each person was interesting in their own right. If you love hating a character, the main villain here will please and delight you. I hated him so much that I wanted to reach into the pages of the book and do away with him myself.

The story of Matt and Samantha and their dual dealings with one another and Edward was well imagined and fulfilled. The trials they faced in their relationship and the ultimate way it went, kept me interested in another aspect of the story rather than that of just the serial killings.

A lot of unexpected things happen in this novel and just when you think you have it all figured out, something changes and so does the reader’s perspective. I liked never knowing quite what was coming next. I will warn other readers that if they are squeamish or if they are offended by harsh language, this may not be the book for them. If these things do not bother you, then I definitely recommend you check out this book.

This is a complex story that will not only keep you guessing, but nearing the end of the book, make you feel conflicted on how you want it to end. On the one hand (no pun intended there, author) you will want to see a certain character get what he deserves, but hope it isn’t as he wants it. On the other hand, you must make a choice between wanting justice for an innocent person who died terribly, or the salvation of a character that did his best to redeem himself before the end of the story.

The stuff that bugged me:

I took relatively few issues with this book, but there were a couple of things that bothered me. By the last few chapters one could plainly see where the book was going to end and how, and it did. I almost didn’t need to read the ending to figure it out. The author lined up all of her events and characters and did the big surprises all in a row toward the end, so there was no wowing finish factor to be had.

Lilac conveniently disappeared when she was no longer needed.

Finally, and perhaps this is just my perspective, but the serial killer didn’t act all that much like a serial killer, but more of a crazed lunatic with psychopathic tendencies. His MO seemed to change from having a signature or calling card if you will (not the obvious one) to just randomly getting a thrill from killing without a pattern. If he was smart enough to evade capture for more than three decades, I find it difficult to believe that he would suddenly become non-specific about who he killed and how, or even consider doing things in such silly, easily tracked ways toward the end.

This was a man who was plainly a narcissist. He was a bully and so self assured that he could do whatever he wanted without being caught that I could see him taking risks but the back story and the reason he chose the type of victims he picked didn’t fit in keeping with his later actions.

The Police would have had to be completely ignorant if they couldn’t put two and two together on what was happening at the retirement home.

Still, this was an entertaining, fast-paced read with a lot to make me love it and feel good about recommending it. The story was creative and original. If you like getting thrills and chills, try this one out.

This review is based on a complimentary copy from Netgalley. All opinions are my own.

Making out with blowfish by Brian Sweany

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Making Out With Blowfish  
By 
Brian Sweany  

 

 

Release Date: 6th March 2014

 

 

 

Available from AmazonKoboBarnes and Noble, and TWCS PH

Summary: 

This is the part in our hero’s story where he looks back and reflects upon the man he is today, but the truth is I’m still searching for him. I am still lost. Not the guy who thought I had found my way out of the wilderness . . . not the guy I wanted to become.


When we last saw Hank Fitzpatrick in Exotic Music of the Belly Dancer, he seemed to be finally figuring things out. He had a girlfriend. He had a life. But his secrets were yet to be discovered, his demons yet to be exorcised, and soon he would have no choice but to face them both. Gone is the boy we came to love, replaced by a man we struggle to like. Welcome back to Empire Ridge. Making Out with Blowfish is fear and loathing in the suburbs as told in Brian Sweany’s uniquely uninhibited voice.


 

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Author Bio:
Since 2000, Brian Sweany has been the Director of Acquisitions for Recorded Books, one of the world’s largest audiobook publishers. Prior to that he edited cookbooks and computer manuals and claims to have saved a major pharmaceutical company from being crippled by the Y2K bug. Brian has a BS in English from Eastern Michigan University, from which he graduated magna cum laude in 1995. He’s a retired semiprofessional student, with stopovers at: Wabash College, the all-male school that reputedly fired Ezra Pound from its faculty for having sex with a prostitute; Marian University, the former all-female school founded by Franciscan nuns that, if you don’t count Brian’s expulsion, has fired no one of consequence and is relatively prostitute-free; and Indiana University via a high school honors course he has no recollection of ever attending.
Brian has penned several articles for EverydayHealth.com about his real-life struggles to overcome sexual abuse as a young boy. Making Out with Blowfish is the sequel to his debut novel, Exotic Music of the Belly Dancer, and both books draw inspiration from this experience.

Brian has spent most of his life in the Midwest and now lives near Indianapolis with his wife, three kids, and two rescue dogs. For more details, check out the author’s website at: http://www.briansweany.com.  

 

Connect with Brian Sweany on: 

Other novels by Brian Sweany:
 
 
 
 

 

1. MAKING OUT WITH BLOWFISH is about midlife crisis and tragedy. Did you use your own experiences to inspire your writing?

Much of my first book, EXOTIC MUSIC OF THE BELLY DANCER, was inspired and informed by my own teen hijinks. There was a shameless precociousness to my cast of characters. They were vain, self-absorbed, and melodramatic. In other words, they were teenagers. In the second book, we see these characters not as prom royalty or captains of their sports teams, but as mothers and wives, husbands and fathers. Their mistakes matter more. Their impulsiveness hurts people. Curfews are replaced by accountability. I tried to take cues from the book LITTLE CHILDREN by Tom Perotta, which in turn was inspired by Gustave Flaubert’s MADAME BOVARY. Suburbia rendered as art, as a familiar but uncomfortable canvas for humanity. Not that my protagonist, Hank Fitzpatrick, doesn’t do his best to rage against the dying of the light. Rest assured he continues to struggle with a serious case of arrested development. But then again, if our 30s and 40s were so awesome, we wouldn’t call it a midlife crisis.
Much like the first book, I tried to take cues from my own experiences. I’m in my early 40s now, married almost 19 years, with a beautiful wife and three great kids. That being said, my wife and I don’t spend our days drinking champagne, popping bonbons in each other’s mouths, and toasting to our evolved awesomeness. Couplehood, parenthood and adulthood can all be just as frustrating as childhood, if not more so. Only now, we don’t have any excuses. We have all the tools, and yet we still screw up. That’s what really sucks. But it’s the struggle and the occasional ugliness that makes the joy and the beauty so much more fulfilling. If you can filter out all the white noise on any given day and tell yourself that there’s no place you’d rather be than where you are, you and hopefully everyone around you are going to be okay.

2. You have worked in publishing for quite some time, what is your publishing world like? How has working in the publishing world helped you to be an author?

For the last 15 years, I’ve worked as Director of Acquisitions for Recorded Books, one of the world’s largest audiobooks publishers, and before that as a book editor right out of college. It’s been an interesting business, especially more recently with the evolution of digital technology. E-books and e-audio have changed the game, changed the rules. Gone is the bookstore on every corner, and in its place is the “Buy Now” button. It’s the golden age of the impulse buyer. Five years ago, your average reader would never walk out of a Barnes & Noble or Borders (RIP) with 10 books under her arm. Last month, I looked at my credit card bill and saw ten Kindle purchases I don’t even remember making. It’s a double-edged sword; at no point in the history of publishing have more readers had more access to more books, and yet you could argue that because of this accessibility, at no point in the history of publishing has it been harder for an author to make a living wage.
My work has allowed me to gauge reading tastes in the general public and given me access to the eyes and ears of editors, agents and authors at the highest level, but the most fundamental way it’s helped me is through reading. For me, it’s a compulsory activity. I don’t have the option not to read books. In any given week, I review maybe 15-20 manuscripts for recordability and commercial appeal. I’ve heard some writers say that they don’t like to read other people’s work because they feel it taints their voice or unduly influences their writing style. I’m here to tell you that those writers are idiots. To quote Stephen King, “If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that.”

3. MAKING OUT WITH BLOWFISH reference music and pop-culture, discuss the music and pop-culture form your teens-thirties. What influenced you the most?
I will say the music and pop culture references are not quite as pervasive in the second book as they are the first book, and that was by design. When you’re in your teens, seemingly everything you do is some kind of milestone, some kind of best-ever or worst-ever moment that raises you up or knocks you down. And invariably, there’s a song or pop culture event you associate with those moments. To this day, when I hear a certain song, I get a little lightheaded and swear I can smell my high school sweetheart’s perfume. While these moments still exist as you get older, they’re fewer and farther between. If being young is about emotionally investing yourself too much in even the most mundane of moments, getting older is about chronically taking what matters most for granted. As for what influenced me, I’m like any Generation X’er. My influences changed as society changed. When the optimism and debauchery of the 80s faded into the rearview mirror, our rockers put away their hairspray and spandex and replaced it with facial hair and flannel. The Sunset Strip deferred to Seattle. The unbridled cockiness of “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall” became the fearful, post-AIDs acclamation, “I did not have sexual relations with that woman.” This transformation spoke to me, and I think we see the characters in Making Out with Blowfish acting as microcosms of these changes. Beth, Hank’s wife, is more serious and somber in this new book. And much of the time it’s not by choice, it’s because Hank is too afraid to take the wheel. Too afraid to be the patriarch the world has wanted him to be since midway through the first book, and way too excited whenever he hears an 80s hairband song come on the radio.

EXCERPT

“What’s the point of loving something only for it to be taken away?”
“The point is in the loving,” Beth says. “Our willingness to endure the heartbreak and to still travel down the road together hand in hand even though we know how it’s going to end is exactly what makes life worth living and people worth loving.”
And with those words, seemingly on cue, Darius Rucker stands in front of a microphone on The Late Show. He settles into the chorus of a country song I’ve never heard: “Don’t think I don’t think about it, don’t think I don’t have regrets, don’t think it don’t get to me, between the work and the hurt and the whiskey.”
I try not to smile.
Beth stands up, pulls me out of bed with her.
“One more dance?” she says.
I take her hand in mine. “How about we keep that number a little more open-ended?”
“Forever then?”
“Forever it is,” I say.