Mirror Interview #7: Katie Sullivan

Katie Sullivan

Katie Sullivan

It was a nice change, talking to myself as me, instead of talking to myself under the guise of my character/muse/monster, the druid known as D.

 

Give those who may not know Changelings: Into the Mist a snapshot of the story.

Irish teens Maureen O’Malley and Sean McAndrew are lost to time. Lured from the abbey they call home by the vision of a warrior shadowed by mist, they are tossed between pirates led by Grace O’Malley in 1584 and revolutionaries dreaming of a new republic in 1916 Dublin. To return home, they must defeat the man – the myth – responsible for their misadventures: the tyrannical Faerie king, Nuada Silver Arm. Maureen and Sean are the strongest Changelings in one thousand years, and the king would rather the last of the descendants of Man and Fae remain lost to time forever. Aiding them is the man in the mist: Dubh an Súile mac Alasdair is a warrior-priest to a people 1300 years-dead and the only Changeling the king could not break. With his help, Maureen and Sean will learn to accept the magic in their blood, defy the king who would enslave them, and claim their place in their own time.

When is it available?

Good lord, self, I think you might be channeling D.

Oh dear – my apologies. I wasn’t being facetious; I do think it’s fascinating. Of course, I could be biased. So, about that release date…?

Changelings: Into the Mist will be released on November 11, 2014 on Amazon, Barns & Noble and others (a full list will be available on my website and blog). It will be available electronically as well as in print.

Am I invited to the release party?

Really?

Had to ask.

Indeed. And before you beg: yes, you are invited.

Is this a stand-alone or a series?

It is one of two books. Changelings: The Coming Storm will continue (and conclude) Maureen and Sean’s tale. There are one-to-two more books that belong to this particular universe, and timeline, but there are other stories clamoring for my attention. Plus, a break from time-travel might be beneficial for my brain!

How does D feel about that?

Um, I haven’t told him.

Hmm… that’s going to be an interesting day on the blog. So, how did you meet your characters? Were you introduced, did they demand your attention in some innocuous place, or have you known them so long that you can no longer remember life without them?

Sean and Maureen happened upon me during mass when I was 13 or 14. I was day-dreaming, and so was Maureen. Except, during her daydream, she saw a time vortex in the church ceiling. She whispered the rest of her adventures with Sean throughout the next three years.

D was later given to me by my ex-husband. He liked the story, but said someone was missing and told me about this mysterious Druid who lurked at the edges of Maureen and Sean’s adventures. I agreed and stuck the Druid into the story, but since D and I did not get along – compounded by the fact I could not “see” him clearly – it went nowhere.

10 years later, I went to a movie, was inspired by the actor in it and was gifted with a vision of D. The book was completely rewritten 9 months later and D and I started a blog in the meantime. Sean and Maureen are all grown now, and I almost feel like their mother: I’m so proud of where they’ve ended up, and I know I finally did justice to their story.

Which of your characters can you identify with the most?

Maureen, hands down. Maureen was what I wanted to be. I was a shy kid with big, rebellious ideas; it was easy to live vicariously through her. Eventually, I would follow my dreams and move to Ireland, and get over some of that inertia and shyness. I like to think that I, in turn, helped temper her, um, more rash tendencies when I re-wrote the story.

Yeah, rash. That’s a good word to describe that young lady. Anyway, do you have a least favorite character in Changelings?

It would be too easy to say D is my least favorite character, but in truth, he’s my favorite. We just tend to butt heads because he is so … so … infuriating and dramatic and grand and stubborn and…

We get the idea.

Right. Anyway, my least favorite character isn’t even the main villain. It’s a secondary character, Mrs. Mallory, who basically ran the show in the 1916 portion of the story. She was neither easy to write, nor a particularly savory character. Sean and Maureen, while not her responsibility, are in her care, and she puts them into a very awkward and dangerous situation.

If you were in the same situation as your characters, what would you do differently?

I’m not sure I would do anything differently. Some of this story is “what would I do if I were suddenly transported back in time?” The answer: have a grand adventure. I hope I would be stronger than Maureen, more easily able to resist the pull of certain situations, but my younger self would not have been!

So basically you’re saying you’re a reckless—

Oi! Spoilers.

Oh, sorry! What makes you uniquely qualified to write Changelings?

I’m what my father calls the ‘throwback’ member of the family. I got on really well with the older generation of relatives that had come over from Ireland in the 20s, and I took many of their stories to heart. I moved to Ireland when I was 18 and married an Irishman, but even before that I was studying Irish history, the political situation and my family’s connection to it. My grandfather left because of the Civil War in the 20s, and my mother is an O’Malley – and claims kinship with Grace O’Malley. I grew up basically considering myself the child of pirates and revolutionaries.

Good lord. Well, that’s all I have for you today, Ms. Sullivan.

Why, thank you, self. That was a lovely interview.

Don’t just thank me.

Of course not – many thanks to Ionia Martin for hosting us today – and thank you to all of you for reading!

The D/A Dialogues - a blog about the sometimes-fractious relationship between an author and the character in her head as they go about writing a book together.

Mirror Interview #6: Malia Ann Haberman

 

Malia Ann Haberman

Malia Ann Haberman

Malia’s conversation with herself:

 

Mirror Malia: Malia! It’s wonderful to meet you. Am I pronouncing your name correctly?

 

Regular Malia: Nope. You’re way off. It rhymes with Maria, not Talia. Or Somalia.

 

Mirror Malia: Great! Thanks for setting me straight. And might I add that you’re looking quite lovely today?

 

Regular Malia: Why thank you! I got this fancy new outfit just for the occasion.

 

Mirror Malia: You have excellent taste! So, let’s get started. How does it feel to be a rich and famous author?

 

Regular Malia: (An uncomfortable pause) Oh, uh, well, I’m, uh, not rich and famous.

 

Mirror Malia: You’re not?

 

CLICK FOR AMAZON SITE

CLICK FOR AMAZON SITE

Regular Malia: No. Besides, I didn’t write my books for that reason. I’m not saying it wouldn’t be incredibly awesome, but I think one of the most important parts of writing is the readers. Every writer should write for their readers. I get so excited when I know people are reading my books and really enjoying them. If someone is writing for only fame and fortune, they’re in for a big surprise. Also, ever since I was a kid, I’ve felt the need to write. It’s like a calling, like someone is inside my head saying, “Write. Write. You need to write books and poems and stories.”

 

Mirror Malia: Ah, I see. So it’s as though you’re talking to yourself, huh?

 

Regular Malia: Very funny. Just ask me another question.

 

Mirror Malia: Okay. No need to get all testy. So, Malia, if I went to your computer right now what document would I find open?

 

Regular Malia: Definitely the fourth and last book in my Chase Tinker Series “Chase Tinker and the House of Mist.” I work on that every chance I get. I’m trying my hardest to make sure all the storylines will be wrapped up in a satisfactory way so that my readers won’t be upset with me. I don’t want to leave anything significant hanging. I’ve read series books like that. I’ve also read reviews where readers are complaining because the series ended, but some questions were left unanswered.

 

Mirror Malia: Will you ever give any of your ebooks away for free on Amazon or any other ebook selling sites?

 

Regular Malia: No. Never. Too much time, work and energy go into writing books. Unless it’s for a giveaway contest or review copies, I strongly believe that authors should stop giving away their hard work. In my opinion, it devalues the book and the author. From the beginning of publishing, unless they borrowed from a friend or a library, readers have had to buy books. Now just because books are in electronic form doesn’t mean they should be given away like they’re just blades of grass. What other business does this and at such high numbers? When you go to your job, you expect your boss to pay you for your time, don’t you? Then why shouldn’t authors expect that from their readers? After all, ebooks ARE real books. If an author wrote a quality, entertaining book, then he/she deserves compensation for it. If you want to bring attention to your books, then do some $.99 promotions. Those can work great.

 

Mirror Malia: You know, I totally agree with you.

 

Regular Malia: Of course you do.

 

Mirror Malia: Now tell all the fabulous blog readers what makes your books unique and why people should purchase and read them.

 

CLICK FOR AMAZON SITE

CLICK FOR AMAZON SITE

Regular Malia: Since we’re all different in our own special ways, my books are unique because they came from me. A lot of books have the same elements, but it’s the writer’s ideas, style and personality that makes each book one of a kind. I think readers will enjoy them and should buy them and read them because my heart and soul went into every word and page, making them what they are: awesome books with interesting and fun characters, mystery, adventure, secrets, lies, goofiness, darkness, and of course, magic.

 

Mirror Malia: How about sharing a fun Haiku about your Chase Tinker books.

 

Regular Malia:

Where magic abounds

You’ll find secrets and peril

Enter if you dare.

 

Mirror Malia: Intriguing. So, while reading your books’ reviews, I saw that some have compared your books to the Harry Potter series. How do you feel about this?

Regular Malia: You know, I didn’t write my books thinking that I wanted to write something just like Harry Potter, so I didn’t. The only things they have in common are fun adventurous kids, awesome magic and good vs. evil. What I want most is for my Chase Tinker books to have the same “appeal” as Harry Potter. Not only kids, but people of all ages all around the world love Harry so that’s what I would really like for Chase.

With that in mind, I don’t mind people saying that my books are reminiscent of Harry Potter or any of the other fantastic fantasy books that are filled with magic, in fact it’s kind of flattering, but I really don’t want any of my Chase Tinker books to be judged like it’s some sort of competition about who wrote the best magical books. I had one reviewer say that she really liked “Chase Tinker and the House of Magic” but that it wasn’t as good as Harry Potter. I have to admit, that comparison bothered me because it’s not what I was aiming for at all.

 

Mirror Malia: Any writing advice you wish to share?

 

Regular Malia: I pretty much suck at giving advice, so besides, read, read, read, write, write, write, edit, edit, edit, I’ll let Neil Gaiman say the rest for me:

 

“The main rule of writing is that if you do it with enough assurance and confidence, you’re allowed to do whatever you like. (That may be a rule for life as well as for writing. But it’s definitely true for writing.) So write your story as it needs to be written. Write it honestly, and tell it as best you can. I’m not sure that there are any other rules. Not ones that matter.”

 

Mirror Malia: One last question. Tell us one thing about yourself you hate to admit.

Regular Malia: Hmm…okay, here goes…I’m a ballroom dancer and instructor who can’t even bend down far enough to touch her toes. Except if I cheat and bend my knees. I’m also a bit of a klutz. So embarrassing.

 

Mirror Malia: Hahaha! Um, sorry.

 

Regular Malia: You weren’t supposed to laugh!

 

Mirror Malia: Well it’s not my fault you have these problems. (Awkward pause) So, join me for lunch?

 

Regular Malia: Wouldn’t miss it.

 

 

 

CLICK FOR AMAZON SITE

CLICK FOR AMAZON SITE

Website: http://maliaannhaberman.weebly.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/mahaberman

Twitter: https://twitter.com/malia_ann

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mirror Interview # 5 Elle Knowles

profile new

Is writing your only job?

I don’t really consider writing a job. For me, writing is fun, an outlet, and downtime. Sadly, no, it is not all I do. By trade, I am a seamstress. I used to do alterations for bridal stores, but the pressure of working with brides and their families is very stressful. I have stories to tell and have plans to turn that experience into a book one day. Watch out. You may see yourself! Now working through the middle man, I work from home making mostly pillow shams and accent pillows for designers for condos in Destin, Florida. This gives me plenty of free time to write. If I was more organized I would probably produce more material, but that is a different story.

Why do you write under a pen name?

When I first started writing, I wanted to keep my actual life separate from my writing life. It wasn’t because I had something to hide, but more because I was doing something I had never done before and I wasn’t real sure of how it would turn out. Does that make any sense? After researching the practice of authors using pen names, I came up with the idea of using my maiden name and first initial spelled out as a pen name. Hence, L = Elle. Sometimes I feel as though I am a different person when I write. It took a little getting used to when I started writing my blog under the name and readers would call me Elle. Now I am more comfortable with it and it suits the purpose.

Do you have a pet peeve as an author?

Yes, I actually have two.

People who give nasty reviews. I don’t mean bad reviews. I can take a bad review and sometimes learn from it. Nasty reviews are a whole different ballgame. It is as though the reviewer has a vendetta or is holding a grudge. If you don’t like what you read or have found lots of errors or mistakes, there is always a nice way to say it. If you don’t get out of a book what you expected to then okay. Make the statement if need be and leave. Don’t go on and on about how the book is not up to par for you and not what you wanted it to be or thought it should be about. Yes, there are stupid people in the world. It takes all kinds and all books are not nicey, nicey when written about stupid people. Bad or nasty reviews don’t really bother me when I am searching for a good book or movie. If the content looks interesting and catches my eye I read the book or watch the movie. It’s all in what you prefer.

Readers who read a fiction book and just assume it is non-fiction and about the writer’s life. I really think this is more so of the writer’s family and friends. I have never thought a fiction book was a writer’s life and never thought to assume this. In my eyes, fiction is fiction.

How much of yourself to you put into your books?

I believe all writers include a portion of themselves in their books even if they are fiction. I only have one book published so far and I am working on the sequel. I did pull a little of my personal life into ‘Crossing The Line’. To clarify, Helena was a decorator and a furniture restorer in my storyline. At the time I was writing we were beginning to renovate and update a 1956 family home and I incorporated those experiences into my story at times.

Do you have plans for other books once you finish the ‘Crossing The Line’ sequel ‘What Line’?

I have varied ideas on the back burner. The first thing I want to work on is a book about my families’ experiences homesteading in Alaska in the late 1950’s. This will actually be a true story and I have letters written by my mother and other artifacts that I will pull this story from. I intend to have a lot of input from my four siblings and other family members and friends of the family to add to the story. We were young, but we made great memories! I wish I had done this before both of my parents passed away and am so grateful I have my mother’s letters and writings on this. There is always some hindsight.

I also have a few ideas and notes written on another novel. I don’t want to say what it is in case it does not pan out. “Crossing The Line’ was supposed to be a trilogy and now that I am into book two I am not sure there will be a third book. Read the preview of ‘What Line’ at https://www.createspace.com/Preview/1122188.

How long do you plan to continue writing?

I plan to continue writing forever because I love it. I always wanted to write, always had dreams of it. There were stories spinning around in my head continually. I think actually writing it all down scared me though. Instead of pursuing the subject I got married young and had children, divorced, married again, and had another child. When the last child went off to college I finally decided to take time for myself.

These days with self-publishing and blogs, writing and publishing is so much more than just a dream. However, it’s not just typing into a template, slapping on a cover and hitting the send button. There is a lot of research to be done and with self-publishing you have to also market and promote your own books. I have learned so much through writing and self-publishing and have acquired so many writer friends just like me through my blog and the internet.

Keep up with what’s happening in my writing world on the sites listed below. ‘Crossing The Line’ can be found on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Smashwords.

http://www.knowleselle.wordpress.com

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Elle-Knowles/507408332614952

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Crossing-the-Line/445787668808115

http://www.amazon.com/Crossing-Line-Elle-Knowles-ebook/dp/B00BQ6RNKC/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1406479385&sr=8-1&keywords=crossing+the+line+by+elle+knowles

 

**Thank you so much, Elle, for sharing your insight and joining us today, it is lovely to have you!

Lead by Kylie Scott

Lead (Stage Dive, #3)Lead by Kylie Scott

As the lead singer of Stage Dive, Jimmy is used to getting whatever he wants, whenever he wants it, whether it’s booze, drugs, or women. However, when a PR disaster serves as a wake-up call about his life and lands him in rehab, he finds himself with Lena, a new assistant to keep him out of trouble.  

Lena’s not willing to take any crap from the sexy rocker and is determined to keep their relationship completely professional, despite their sizzling chemistry. But when Jimmy pushes her too far and Lena leaves, he realizes that he may just have lost the best thing that ever happened to him.

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I loved this book. It’s been a long time since I found a novel that has so much humour and sassy wit in it. This will keep your attention no matter what is going on around you. To the point that it might be dangerous:)

The main characters are both lovable in their own distinct ways. The dynamic between them is unmatchable. Never have I wanted to see something work out for two people so badly. I got a big kick out of the arguments and rough words between them and especially the way Lena put Jim in his place.

This is one of those books that you will find consumes you early on. The story flows well and the plot does things that you don’t fully expect. I had nothing but fun whilst reading this.

If you are a fan of edgy romances with characters that really are memorable, this is the book to choose. I’m looking forward to another book from Kylie Scott.

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

Edgar Allan Poe: The Fever Called Living by Paul Collins

Edgar Allan Poe: The Fever Called LivingEdgar Allan Poe: The Fever Called Living by Paul Collins

5 Stars

Looming large in the popular imagination as a serious poet and lively drunk who died in penury, Edgar Allan Poe was also the most celebrated and notorious writer of his day. He died broke and alone at the age of forty, but not before he had written some of the greatest works in the English language, from the chilling “The Tell-Tale Heart” to “The Murders in the Rue Morgue”—the first modern detective story—to the iconic poem “The Raven.”

Poe’s life was one of unremitting hardship. His father abandoned the family, and his mother died when he was three. Poe was thrown out of West Point, and married his beloved thirteen-year-old cousin, who died of tuberculosis at twenty-four. He was so poor that he burned furniture to stay warm. He was a scourge to other poets, but more so to himself.

In the hands of Paul Collins, one of our liveliest historians, this mysteriously conflicted figure emerges as a genius both driven and undone by his artistic ambitions. Collins illuminates Poe’s huge successes and greatest flop (a 143-page prose poem titled Eureka), and even tracks down what may be Poe’s first published fiction, long hidden under an enigmatic byline. Clear-eyed and sympathetic, Edgar Allan Poe is a spellbinding story about the man once hailed as “the Shakespeare of America.”

 

My review:

 

As with other historical authors of note, there have been so many different biographies and books written about the life and times of Edgar Allan Poe. Yet, as I am a curious sort, I tend to read every one that I can get my hands on. Previously to this one, I found myself quite disappointed with the vast majority of them. Most of the time this was for two main reasons, which I shall note later in this review. This book delighted and surprised me.

This author took a different approach. Rather than treating this man as though he were a villain or a hero, he instead took a much appreciated far more neutral approach. In this particular book, Paul Collins did not treat Poe as if he were some rare anomaly, but rather discussed the hardships and high points of Poe’s life. I think this is the first work of non-fiction about Poe’ life that I actually felt like he was being portrayed as human in. No parlour tricks, no illusions that he was something dark and macabre to be feared. Just a man on a streak of bad luck and bad decisions.

I was impressed by the author’s meticulous research and that he seemed to hit most of the valid and important parts of Poe’s personal life and career from the beginning. Unlike many other biographies on the man, this book did not centrally focus on the publication of the Raven, nor the drinking habit which the author later became synonymous with. His actions are debated somewhat here and there, but are not put under a 21st century microscope of morality. I like it when the author can allow a story (especially in non-fiction) to tell itself with little interference in the way of the author’s personal interjections.

This is not a long book, but has more than just the simple, basic Poe info in it. If you are a fan of Edgar Allan Poe or just curious about a man who led an intriguing life of poverty and moderate success, then this would be a good book for you to choose.

Recommended.

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

Six Million Accusers: Catching Adolf Eichmann by D. Lawrence-Young

Six Million Accusers: Catching Adolf EichmannSix Million Accusers: Catching Adolf Eichmann by D. Lawrence-Young

“Six Million Accusers” is a historical novel reliving the hunt for, and capture of one of history’s most evil criminals – a leading Nazi named Adolf Eichmann.

Having disappeared after WWII, members of an Israeli organization search the world for Eichmann, hoping to one day capture one of the men responsible for brutally massacring millions of Jews, and others. Following any tip possible, eventually they discover a Jewish father and daughter who swear Eichmann quietly lives in their community, under a new name. The search for Eichmann ramps up, and the agents begin to fervently believe they have found their man.

As they get closer and closer, a plan must also be created to capture Eichmann, and secretly transport the villain back to Israel. Is it really Eichmann? And if so, what complications may arise that might destroy their plans to have this notorious Nazi held responsible for his crimes?

“Six Million Accusers” is based on historic detail, and David Lawrence- Young does an excellent job reliving the hunt for, and capture of Adolf Eichmann. Well written and easy to read, “Six Million Accusers” should be a staple of the educational discussion of WWII and the aftermath. –Goodreads

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I really don’t feel like I’m going to do this book justice by writing a review, but at the same time, it deserves a review. I usually will not award five stars to a historical fiction. I am almost always disappointed in them, no matter how much research was done before the book was written. This is a case where this book would get more than five stars if I were able to give it.

Nazi War criminals have been on the telly a lot lately. Through old black and white films and descriptions and accounts written by those who survived the terror, we have learned quite a bit. Still, I feel like most of the time, we watch these things on the History Channel or in films and we seem to be removed from the reality. We see the images and we know that it is not fiction, but never feel like it could happen to us. Those who went through it do not touch us on a deep, emotional level most of the time. That is where this book comes in. If you want to see the lives of people who wanted retribution for these heinous crimes up close, this book will give you that.

Yes, this is a fictional account, but I guarantee you that once you begin reading, you will forget. A lot of meticulous research went into this book. A lot of man hours of studying and learning about what actually happened make this an extraordinary read. This author also has a knack for story telling and character creation. I broke down more than once during this book, which is a rarity for me.

Although Eichmann’s name is displayed prominently in the title, this book is actually more about the dedicated group of people who came together to bring him to justice. The novel doesn’t focus as much on his reign of terror as it does the years after and the search to satisfy “six million accusers.” I thought the way this was written made it feel very personal and easy to relate to. The author did an extremely good job of filling in the voids in Eichmann’s history and making it believable.

What I came away with after reading this novel, was a sense of just how much it took to take this man down. He may not have looked like much, bookish, what today we might call a geek. He may not have felt guilt nor remorse for his actions–he was doing as ordered, by his own admission, but I came away from this book with a sense of awareness. There is darkness in this world. There are evil people who commit senseless acts of violence and genocide. Yet, there are people who will work tirelessly to make this world a better place. I think this author not only understands that, but it one of the good ones.

I would encourage anyone who has an interest in this subject to read this book. I loved it.

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

 

The Art Restorer by Julian Sanchez

The Art RestorerThe Art Restorer by Julián Sánchez

Enrique Alonso travels from his new home in Manhattan to San Sebastián, Spain, to attend the reopening of the San Telmo museum, where his ex-wife, Bety, works in public relations. There he meets American Craig Bruckner, a retired art restorer studying the museum’s collection of works by Sert—a contemporary of Picasso and Dalí who worked for the most famous billionaires of his time and whose mural American Progress graces the walls of Rockefeller Center. When Bruckner is found drowned in La Concha bay, Bety suspects foul play and Enrique agrees to help her look into the man’s death. Their investigation reveals a mystery connected with Sert’s checkered past, which provides fertile ground for the new thriller Enrique is writing, and the plot develops in parallel to his research.

Enrique and Bety’s reconstruction of the artist’s clandestine activities during World War II leads them to Paris, Barcelona, and New York, and in the process forces them to face their own past. But they are not the only ones interested in Sert’s work, and it appears there is more to his paintings than meets the eye.

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

“The Art Restorer” Is a very relaxing, well written book with a lot of careful mystery.

This is my first work by Julian Sanchez, as I did not read the first book in this series. I don’t think that it is necessary to do so in order to understand this book. There are frequent references to things that happened previously, and I felt like I had enough of an overall picture of the main character’s life to navigate this book just fine.

Whilst I greatly enjoyed this book, there are a few strange passages, where the sentence construction seems off, but that is likely due to translation. For the most part I found this to be a well-paced, interesting journey.

The setting is beautifully described and from the very beginning, the idea that the main character is such a real, down to earth type of person permeates the story. I felt close to him from the beginning, and as a result felt close to the characters he cared about.

Knowing that he is battling his own inner demons and trying to make decisions about his life was a good aside to the rest of the story he is a complex character with a big heart and a conscience that wills him to do the right thing in all situations. Most of the events that happened were believable and there is quite a lot of excitement after the first third of the story, where most of the setup happens.

I was very impressed with this book. If you are a fan of art history, captivating backdrops and imaginative writing, I am certain you will enjoy this novel.

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

You by Caroline Kepnes

YouYou by Caroline Kepnes

Love hurts…

When aspiring writer Guinevere Beck strides into the East Village bookstore where Joe works, he’s instantly smitten. Beck is everything Joe has ever wanted: She’s gorgeous, tough, razor-smart, and as sexy as his wildest dreams.

Beck doesn’t know it yet, but she’s perfect for him, and soon she can’t resist her feelings for a guy who seems custom made for her. But there’s more to Joe than Beck realizes, and much more to Beck than her oh-so-perfect façade. Their mutual obsession quickly spirals into a whirlwind of deadly consequences . . .

A chilling account of unrelenting passion, Caroline Kepnes’s You is a perversely romantic thriller that’s more dangerously clever than any you’ve read before.

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

If you like books that go for shock value with the reader, then you will surely be all in with this quickly evolving and yet, somewhat strange novel.

This novel is written in second person and that was a bit of a change. I haven’t read many books written in that style that I found appealing, and although I think it worked to get inside the mind of the main character in this story, it was still a bit of a struggle for me.

To be honest, I’m still not sure what to think about this book. The intellect of the author gleams brightly in her writing, with her ability to cite rare literature and create characters that really stand out from the crowd, but truly, I didn’t like any of the characters in this book. I feel like there needs to be a hero, or at least some type of protagonist that you feel you can somewhat support in order to care what happens in a story. I couldn’t find anyone I wanted to support.

Without giving too much away, I couldn’t decide in this book who the villain was. Both of the main characters have rather annoying personalities and both of them seem like a threat to the world at large. I like quirky characters, but these two were over the top.

What I did like about this book was the often funny moments of self absorption in the main character and the way he displayed his neurotic tendencies. If you are going to read a book where the main character is less than loveable, then it is a good thing if the author gives you clear reasons to dislike them. At least I didn’t have to spend time wondering if I was supposed to like him, as the author’s intent was relatively clear on that point.

Overall, this was different. I’m sure there will be a lot of people who love it, but I found myself somewhere in the middle. I appreciated that it wasn’t like every other book out there, but I’m still not sure the brash attitude of the characters and the second person perspective worked for me.

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

The Bookman’s Tale by Charlie Lovett

The Bookman’s TaleThe Bookman’s Tale by Charlie Lovett

A mysterious portrait ignites an antiquarian bookseller’s search through time and the works of Shakespeare for his lost love

Guaranteed to capture the hearts of everyone who truly loves books, The Bookman’s Tale is a former bookseller’s sparkling novel and a delightful exploration of one of literature’s most tantalizing mysteries with echoes of Shadow of the Wind and A.S. Byatt’s Possession.

Hay-on-Wye, 1995. Peter Byerly isn’t sure what drew him into this particular bookshop. Nine months earlier, the death of his beloved wife, Amanda, had left him shattered. The young antiquarian bookseller relocated from North Carolina to the English countryside, hoping to rediscover the joy he once took in collecting and restoring rare books. But upon opening an eighteenth-century study of Shakespeare forgeries, Peter is shocked when a portrait of Amanda tumbles out of its pages. Of course, it isn’t really her. The watercolor is clearly Victorian. Yet the resemblance is uncanny, and Peter becomes obsessed with learning the picture’s origins.

As he follows the trail back first to the Victorian era and then to Shakespeare’s time, Peter communes with Amanda’s spirit, learns the truth about his own past, and discovers a book that might definitively prove Shakespeare was, indeed, the author of all his plays.

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

If you truly love books, if you get excited at the sight of them, the feel of them, the way dusty old tomes smell, then this is the book you have been waiting for.

I was greatly impressed with this novel. Not only has Charlie Lovett managed to incorporate a love of rare books and a good deal of mystery into this novel, but he has also told of a beautiful and enduring love story. Reading this book, I thought of the man I love and adore and how we met. The way books drew these characters together, both in life and in death made me genuinely feel close to them.

This story spans multiple time periods, but does so with grace and precision. Both intriguing and heart warming, this book offered everything a book lover could want.

I was fascinated by the historical ties in this story and excited by each new discovery along the way. The way this author brought to life famous literary icons was not only believable, but thought provoking. His research was excellent, but it was the life–the fire and drive that he gave these characters that was so outstanding.

A lot of unexpected twists in the plot made for exciting reading, coupled with superb dialogue. This was a book that I didn’t want to put down and will happily place on my to be read again shelf.

Book lovers rejoice! This is one like no other.

This review is based on a complimentary copy from Netgalley and the publisher as well as a quite complimentary Englishman who bought me the book whilst in London, merely a fabulous coincidence. Thank you, Julian.

Hell yes, I read: Inside the mind of a lifelong reader

This is the conclusion to the 2 part series on reading habits (or not reading, if you caught the first half.) Today we are joined by Pamela, from Year Round Thanksgiving

and Poetry by Pamela.

Pam reads more than anyone else I know, so I thought she would be perfect to provide contrast to our previous guest. She has some really interesting answers, so authors, if you are wondering what makes your book sell, have a read.

 

Ionia: Why do you read so much? There are so many forms of entertainment, but what makes you come back to books?

Pamela: I have always been a reader. I grew up loving books. One of my fondest memories as a very young child, was “running away from home”. My mom had made me do something I didn’t want to do (but I am sure now that it was something I should do) and so I announced that I was going to run away from home. Back then, suitcases were those hard sided ones. I proceeded to pack it full of my books to take with me. No clothes or toys, just books. And then I asked my mom is she would carry it for me so I could run away from home because I could only drag it as far as the end of the driveway.

I’m not really much of a television watcher. I do love movies in the theater, but if the movie is based on a book I’ve read, I’m nearly always disappointed. Books capture my imagination and feed my soul.

Ionia: When you do find a book you think you’d like to read, what is it that first captures your attention? What makes you pick that book rather than another?

Pamela: What better way to spend an afternoon than in a bookstore or library? I can browse for hours. I think that the cover of a book is the first impression. It doesn’t mean that is all I consider, but that is what draws me to look at it. From there, the genre and the book blurb have to captivate me. Of course, most of the indie books are not in the bookstores or libraries and I find those through some of the promotional sites, blogs, and word of mouth.

Ionia: How important are what other customers say about the book in reviews? Do you pay attention to star ratings and customer reviews?

Pamela: Of course I read YOUR reviews and have picked up several books because of that. I don’t generally read reviews of books on the sites where I’m purchasing a book. Reviews can be so skewed by the readers. I rely heavily on the book description. I don’t notice the star ratings as much either.

Ionia: Do you do most of your reading in paper format or digital and why?

Pamela: There was a time I would have answered this question with “I will NEVER read other than a paper book”. Then I bought a Nook. I was hooked from the beginning. I could carry dozens of books with me all the time. About that time I also noticed that I began reading more and more. I was already a voracious reader, but my Nook (Julio is what I named him) was so easy to carry with me everywhere…and I did. But then I realized that so many indie books were only available on the Kindle platform. So I bought a Kindle. They fit so easily into my purse or briefcase so I always have one of them with me. No more outdated boring magazines in waiting rooms. Plus, when I’m reading on my Kindle and fall asleep, it doesn’t (a) hit me in the head and (b) keeps my place. I still love to touch books, smell books, and hold paper books, but I prefer reading electronically.

Ionia: You’ve decided to read this book. What makes you say..never mind. Not for me, or do you ever give up before finishing?

Pamela: I don’t very often quit reading a book. I guess it is that hopeful nature I have that keeps me going. But I do have to say that if a book can’t capture my interest or attention in the first 25-50 pages, there is a strong chance that I may just give up. There are so many really good books to read that I don’t feel it is necessary to read a book that doesn’t hold my attention. There have been some very popular mainstream books that I just couldn’t get through. I’m trying to think of the name…I saw the movie and it was good, but the book just couldn’t keep my interest. Oh, I know, it was “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” by Stieg Larrson. Everyone said after the first 100 pages, it got interesting. I just couldn’t wait and gave up. If it is an indie book and has obviously not been proofread or edited, there is also a good chance I will just put it aside too.

Ionia: Does it matter to you if the book was put out by a big publisher or an indie author or indie press? Does the name of the publisher have any influence on if you will take the risk and buy the book?

Pamela: I love indie authors. But I also love some really big name authors. I have noticed that some of the bigger names aren’t necessarily good books. There seems to be a tendency for their books to start feeling the same as their last one, even if they aren’t in a series. I want something that is original. My preferred genre is thriller/suspense/mystery and there seems to be a formula for those books. But character development and plot twists and turns still keep me reading. I realize that much of life is a pendulum. Right now my pendulum has swung toward the indie author/publisher. I throw in a mainstream mass market book from time to time though.

Ionia: Do you have any favourite categories that you do enjoy reading when you find a book that you enjoy?

Pamela: As I mentioned before I really enjoy the suspense/thriller/mystery books. But I have been branching out with genres. Historical Fiction is another favorite of mine. But I will read just about anything. I’m not a big fan of sci-fi though. Or romance. I avoid romance books most of the time. Isn’t that ironic? I write love poetry and yet I don’t like romance books. Hmmm maybe I should read more romance.

Ionia: Does price influence your buying decisions? Are you more likely to buy a less expensive book than a more expensive on or is it really about the content?

Pamela: I remember the days that I bought all of my books in hard cover…at $19.99 up to $29.99 each. So, purchasing a book that is $9.99 is still a bargain. I am not dissuaded from reading something on my Kindle by price generally. That being said, if I spend $10-$15 on a Kindle book and it isn’t well written or edited, I’m not happy. Trust me, you wouldn’t want to see how much I spend on Amazon in the course of a year. I keep thinking how nice it would be to win one of those sweepstakes where the prize is $1000 at Amazon. Wouldn’t that be fun? As much as I enjoy reading, I also enjoy finding new books and buying them for my to-be-read queue.

Ionia: Will you buy a book just because it is part of a series? The hole in the shelf syndrome, if you will? Even if you don’t intend to read the books, will you buy based on having a partial series?

Pamela: Oh dear, someone told you about me, didn’t they? I have just enough OCD tendencies that I couldn’t possibly read books in a series out of order. And if I enjoyed the first one, I most certainly will buy every single one in the series…in order. But I also purchase books from authors, even those not in a series, so I will have them all. In fact, I have every Stephen King book he has published in hard cover copies. But I also have a lot of them for my Kindle. As I said earlier, I prefer reading on my Kindle so I want them to read in that format. But my bookshelf wouldn’t be complete without every single one of his books on it.

Ionia: Does sales rank have anything to do with purchasing decisions?

Pamela: What a great question. Until I published my own book, I had no idea about the sales ranking. Obviously then, it didn’t impact my purchasing decision at all. Even now that I know about the sales ranking, I rarely pay attention to it. I think it is the thing that the authors love (at least when the numbers are good), but from a reader standpoint, not so much.

Ionia: One final question: Where do you see the most advertising for books and have you ever bought based on an ad from that place?

Pamela: The only place I really notice book advertising is on blogs and through the multitude of “free and bargain book” sites. I subscribe to several of those and I find a lot of really good books that way. I may not buy them at the time, but I add them to my wish list.

Oh my, I just realized that we’ve been talking for a long time. I know you are busy and I’m sorry if I talked too much. But thank you again for giving me the opportunity to talk about one of my favorite subjects.

Thank you so much for being here today and giving us some insight into the mind of someone who really loves literature!