Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Review -- The Divorce Party

The Divorce Party
by Laura Dave
Penguin Group , 2009
272 pages

Thank you to Dana Forman and the nice people at Viking for sending me a copy of this book.

Summary: This book chronicles two woman, one at the beginning of marriage and one at the end. During a divorce party on Long Island, both women uncover secrets about the men they love and must decide whether it is better to leave the relationship or stay and fight.

Review: Laura Dave has written an engrossing novel that I could not put down. She creates characters you can truly empathize with as they struggle to find the truth in their relationships. The characters are so wonderful, flawed and real. The pace of the novel is pitch perfect and the prose has an elegant flow to it. The Divorce Party is just a tremendous novel about forgiveness and acceptance that I highly recommend. Rating: *****out of 5.

Monday, June 29, 2009

It's Monday! What are you reading? -- 6/29

Currently Reading:
The Divorce Party by Laura Dave (unbelievably good, almost done -- review on Tuesday!)
Skin Trade by Laurell K. Hamilton (a good addition to the Anita Blake series)
Obsession, Deceit, and Really Dark Chocolate by Kyra Davis (I am loving this series!)

Read or Reviewed Last Week:
Jennifer Johnson is Sick of Being Single by Heather Mcelhatton -- review
Sex, Murder, and a Double Latte by Kyra Davis -- review
Agnes and the Hitman by Jennifer Crusie and Bob Mayer -- review
Curse of the Spellmans by Lisa Lutz -- review to come
Passion, Betrayal, and Killer Highlights by Kyra Davis -- review to come

I also started an online book club this week at Barney's Book Blog. For more information or to join, see this post: Barney's Online Book Club.

What are you reading this week? (Want to play along? Go to J. Kaye's Book Blog.)

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Online Book Club -- Vote for the July book!

Hi everyone! Here are the choices for our first online book club meeting. Please email your first and second choices to me at jedziedz@hotmail.com or leave your choices in the comments section. I have linked each title with their Barnes and Noble page, so that you can read the summaries and physical descriptions. Voting will end on July 1st at midnight EST. On July 2nd, I will post the book that we select.

1. The Divorce Party by Laura Dave
2. The Bronte Project by Jennifer Vandever
3. Made in the USA by Billie Letts
4. Love and Biology at the Center of the Universe by Jennie Shortridge
5. The Late, Lamented Molly Marx by Sally Koslow

Okay, so start voting! Anyone who hasn't emailed me to sign up for the book club, please leave your email address in the comments section and I will add you to the list (this post describes the Barney's Online Book Club) . Remember the more the merrier, so pass this post along to anyone you think might want to join!

Friday, June 26, 2009

Join Me in an Online Book Club at Barney's Book Blog!

I had such a fantastic time discussing Beach Trip by Cathy Holton as part of Books on the Brain's Summer Reading Series, I thought that it would be fun to start an online book club on Barney's Book Blog. Is there anybody interested in joining me?

To start us off, I would select 5 books and email the list to anyone who would like to join. All members will be asked to pick their first and second choice by a certain date. I will tally the votes and announce the book club pick as well as the date of discussion (don't worry I will give us at least 4 weeks to read the book -- I know how busy we all are). On the date of discussion, I will post questions which each member can answer in the comments section as well as reply to other members. After a few days, I will ask for suggestions for the next month's book and we will start again.

So what do you think? If you would like to join, please leave me your name and email in the comments section below. I would also love it if you could pass this post along to other bloggers because the more people who join the better the discussion! If you have any questions, please email me at jedziedz@hotmail.com.

Friday Finds -- 6/26

For my Friday Finds this week, I am featuring my book club's selections for July and August.
At our July meeting, we will be discussing The Welsh Girl by Peter Ho Davis. The Welsh Girl takes place in Wales at the end of World War II and is the story of a young Welsh woman who falls in love with a German soldier stationed at a POW camp on the outskirts of town.
Our August selection is No One You Know by Michelle Richmond. No One You Know is a mystery about two sisters, one of them murdered and the other seeking the answers to her sister's death 20 years later.
What did you find this week? (Want to play along? Go to Should Be Reading.)

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Review -- Agnes and the Hitman

Agnes and the Hitman
by Jennifer Crusie and Bob Mayer
St. Martin's Press, 2007
384 pages

Summary: Agnes Crandall is food columnist with an obsession with butter and a love of gravy. As she works toward putting on the wedding of the summer at her home and business, Two Rivers, she runs into unexpected trouble. Dognappers, mob bosses, hitmen, crazy fianc├ęs and flamingos all rain down on Two Rivers as her life is in danger and her home and career are at stake. The only one who can help her is Shane, a government hitman with secrets of his own to uncover.

Review: I have read this book four times and loved it all four times. It is escapism at its best. The characters are fun, crazy, and unique. Especially Agnes, a strong woman with a quick temper who is unlucky in love. The weakest point of the book is the plot, which is outrageous and immensely entertaining. Still there are times throughout the book where the action lags, especially when Shane is away from Agnes and Two Rivers. Ratings: ***1/2 out of 5.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

100 Post Giveaway Winner!

Thanks to everyone that entered the 100th post giveaway! The Nancy Drew Graphic Novels go to:

Paula H.

Congrats to Paula! Thanks to all my followers and subscribers and fellow bloggers for making the past 100 posts so much fun. I love your comments so keep them coming!

Review -- Sex, Murder, and a Double Latte

Sex, Murder, and a Double Latte
by Kyra Davis
Harlequin, 2005
304 pages

Summary: Sophie Katz is a divorced mystery writer living in San Francisco. When a string of murders happens just like the plot of her latest book, Sophie and her friends must find the killer before it's too late.

Review: This is the perfect novel if you want something light and entertaining. The characters are funny and very engaging. The plot is fast paced and keeps you laughing with some romance thrown in for fun. I am not much of a mystery reader, but I did figure out who was behind the murders about 3/4 of the way through the book. (1st book in the series) Rating: *** out of 5

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Review -- Jennifer Johnson is Sick of Being Single

Jennifer Johnson is Sick of Being Single
by Heather Mcelhatton
Published by HarperCollins Publishers, 2009
304 pages

Summary: Jennifer Johnson works at a job she hates, thinks she is fat, is addicted to Cinnabons, and wants to find the man of her dreams and get married. She meets the boss's wayward son, handsome and rich Brad Kellner, and Jennifer sets out to land him because he is everything she thinks she wants.

Review: Jennifer Johnson is hard to empathize with. She is the poster child for low self esteem. She is whiny and is constantly getting herself into outrageous situations. Like when she hides in the stairwell to shove a Cinnabon in her mouth without anyone looking only to be discovered by her dream man. Or the incident where she slapped a drag queen ('nough said). As she survives these situations, you think -- Jennifer, you are smart, funny, and wonderful! Stop messing up your life! -- only to hope that she will get the message. That is the greatness of this book, it is a hysterical cautionary tale for any woman who feels not good enough and believes that only certain things bring happiness. On a side note, I would like to give immense credit to author Heather Mcelhatton for the most surprising ending I have ever read. (If you have read this book, please email me I would love to discuss the ending with you -- jedziedz@hotmail.com, thanks! Do not leave anything in the comments, I'd hate to spoil it for others!) Rating:***1/2 out of 5.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Friday Finds -- 6/19

This week's Friday Find is The Divorce Party by Laura Dave. I want to thank Dana Forman for recommending this book.

Here is the Barnes and Noble description:
Laura Dave is widely recognized as an up-and-coming talent in women's fiction. Now, with her characteristic wit and warmth, she captures a much-discussed cultural phenomenon that has never been profiled in fiction before—divorce celebrations. Set in Hamptons high society, The Divorce Party features two women—one newly engaged and one at the end of her marriage—trying to answer the same question: when should you fight to save a relationship, and when should you let go? An insightful and funny multi-generational story, this deeply moving novel is sure to touch anyone whose heart has weathered an unexpected storm.

Sounds fantastic, right? What have you found this week? (Want to play along? Go to Should Be Reading.)

I also celebrated my 100 post yesterday with a giveaway. Please check it out!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

100 Post Giveaway!

For my 100th post, I am having my first ever giveaway! I am giving away two Nancy Drew graphic novels (volumes 1 & 2). All you have to do is become a follower or subscriber (if you aren't one already) and leave me a comment with your email address. The giveaway ends on Monday, June 22nd (at 12 noon) and I will email the winner on Tuesday, June 23rd. Good luck!

Booking Through Thursday -- 6/18

One of my favorite sci-fi authors (Sharon Lee) has declared June 23rd Fantasy and Science Fiction Writers Day.

As she puts it:
So! In my Official Capacity as a writer of science fiction and fantasy, I hereby proclaim June 23 Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers Day! A day of celebration and wonder! A day for all of us readers of science fiction and fantasy to reach out and say thank you to our favorite writers. A day, perhaps, to blog about our favorite sf/f writers. A day to reflect upon how written science fiction and fantasy has changed your life.

So … what might you do on the 23rd to celebrate? Do you even read fantasy/sci-fi? Why? Why not?

I read a ton of fantasy books. I just recently started Neil Gaiman's Sandman series and am really enjoying it. Some other new favorites are the Wicked Lovely series by Melissa Marr, the Southern Vampire series by Charlaine Harris, and the Vampire Academy series by Richelle Mead. I would love to celebrate the day by posting a fantasy book review or just talking about my favorite fantasy books.

How about you? (Want to play along? Go to Booking Through Thursday.)

Later today I will have my 100th post! It will be a giveaway, so come back and check it out!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Paranormal Mini - Reviews -- Vampire Academy / Ink Exchange / Eternal

Vampire Academy
by Richelle Mead

Best friends, Lissa and Rose, face the challenges of vampire teenagers growing up in a boarding school. Lissa, who is vampire royalty, develops a power that she can't control and Rose, her guardian, tries to protect her. As the book progressed, I began to enjoy the book more and more. Rose is definitely a difficult character to love, but she grew on me. The plot gets somewhat boring in the middle (lots of gossiping teens), but the action packed ending makes up for it. (1st book in the series) Rating: *** out of 5.
Ink Exchange
by Melissa Marr

The second book in the popular series, Ink Exchange tells the story of Leslie and the magical tattoo that connects her to the Dark Court of fairies. I absolutely loved this book. Marr keeps the reader spellbound with another well written book with a great plot and engrossing characters. (2nd book in the series) Rating:**** out of 5.
by Cynthia Leitich Smith

Smith's second effort (the first being Tantalize) is the story of a guardian angel whose charge accidentally becomes a vampire. Better written then the first, Eternal has great main characters and fantastic ending. The middle of the book was problematic for me, it felt pieced together and didn't flow well. Overall, a light and fun read from an author who seems to get better with each book. Rating: ***out of 5.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Graphic Novel Mini -Reviews -- Sandman Volume 1 / Fray

Sandman: Preludes and Nocturnes
by Neil Gaiman
Intense plot has a secret society plotting to capture Death, but they capture Dream instead. When Dream escapes, he must find the tools of his trade and restore the world of dreams. Fantastic artwork, great tone and theme, only problem is the sometimes fragmented plot from issue to issue. (1st book in the series) Rating: ***1/2 out of 5.
by Joss Whedon
High adventure graphic novel that follows Melaka Fray, the newest vampire slayer, as she learns who she is and takes on the lurks (vampires) of the underworld. Wonderful artwork, fast paced story, a ton of fun and easy to read, Fray's only downfall is it's somewhat predictable storyline. (1st book in the series) Rating: ***1/2 out of 5

Monday, June 15, 2009

It's Monday! What are you reading? -- 6/15

Hi Everybody!

Currently Reading:
Jennifer Johnson is Sick of Being Single by Heather McElhatton: I just started this last night. At about 120 pages, it is funny but I am having trouble empathizing with Jennifer and some of her issues.

Finished Last Week (reviews to come):
Sex, Murder and a Double Latte by Kyra Davis
Sandman Volume 2 by Neil GaimanVampire Academy by Richelle Mead
Eternal by Cynthia Leitich Smith

Reviewed Last Week:
Beach Trip by Cathy Holton
Wicked Lovely by Melissa Marr / Tantalize by Cynthia Leitich Smith
Love Walked In by Marissa de los Santos

What are you reading? (Want to play along? Go to J. Kaye's Book Blog)

Review -- Beach Trip

Beach Trip
by Cathy Holton
Random House, 2009
432 pages

Thanks to the author, Cathy Holton, and Random House for sending me a copy of this book.

Summary: Four college friends take a beach vacation 23 years after they graduate. As the week progresses, each woman comes to term with decisions they made long ago and release secrets they unable to live with any longer.

Review: A study of female friendship over the long haul, Beach Trip is a book filled with secrets, lies, love, and friendship above all. Cathy Holton does a great job setting the scene both during the beach trip and during the girl's college years. She creates four very unique characters with strengths and weakness all their own. The pacing of the novel is somewhat slow, especially in the middle of the book, where each woman continues to tell her story in a leisurely way. Each woman's secrets are somewhat predictable, but overall this was an entertaining read that makes you want to call your best friend and invite her over for margaritas. Rating:*** out of 5.

Lisa from Books on the Brain is discussing Beach Trip as part of her Summer Reading Series. Please check it out and join the discussion!

Want a second opinion? Check out Jo's review at Jo-Jo Loves to Read!

Friday, June 12, 2009

Book Review Policy (as of June 2009)

To Authors, Publishers, and Publicists:

Welcome to Barney's Book Blog! This blog mainly consists of my opinion on books and sometimes movies. Please feel free to take a look around and make sure that this blog is the place where you want your book to be reviewed and/or promoted. Still interested in having me do a review? Then, please contact me at jedziedz@hotmail.com . Here are a few more things you might want to know about me:

1. As of June 2009, I have decided to take on review books. Please read a few of my current reviews to make sure that I am the right reviewer for you (on the sidebar are links to all my reviews). I am not a professional reviewer, this is a hobby for me. With that said, I will write an honest review in as a professional manner as possible.

2. Due to time constraints, I need to be selective in the books I choose to review. If I decide not to review your book, please do not be offended. My main goal is to be able to review the books that interest me in a timely manner, so that your book will be promoted properly on my blog. It is imperative to tell me when you need the review by before I am able to commit to your book. I will also post the review on Library Thing and the Barnes and Noble website as well as any other vendor sites that you stipulate.

3. I enjoy reading the following types of books: contemporary fiction, women's fiction, thrillers, mysteries, young adult fiction, graphic novels, chick-lit and paranormal fiction. I do not review non-fiction or self-help books as well as romance or religious fiction. I will not review self-published books or e-books.

4. I do enjoy conducting author interviews and giveaways. If interested in setting up either, please email me at jedziedz@hotmail.com.

5. My blog stats: I started seriously blogging in March of 2009. As of June 2009, I have 86 subscribers and 71 followers to my blog. Please take a look at the comments on each post to get a better understanding of my audience.

6. As of August 2009, I can not receive books that are sent through UPS. With my full time job and the UPS drivers early routes, I am never home to receive the books. Please send any review copies through the USPS or FedEx and do not require a signature upon delivery and I will easily receive it. Thank you!

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me at jedziedz@hotmail.com.

Friday Finds -- 6/12

Happy Friday! My Friday Find for this week is Lust, Loathing, and a Little Lip Gloss by Kyra Davis. I am not sure which blogger reviewed it this week, but after seeing the cover and reading the review, I knew this was my kind of book. Here's the B&N description:

Mystery writer and dabbling recreational sleuth Sophie Katz is head over heels in love—with a three-bedroom Victorian. She's just got to have it, despite a few drawbacks. Her slimy ex is the Realtor. The rich, creepy seller wants her to join San Francisco's spirited Specter Society. And her first tour of the house reveals, well, a lifeless body clutching a cameo with a disturbing history of its own.
There's no way Sophie is going to give up the ghost on her dreams of stained glass and original woodwork, though—even when things become officially weird. A Society member is found with a slashed throat, and Sophie's house might as well be yelling, "GET…OUT!" She's hearing footsteps, lights are turning themselves off and her stuff keeps moving inexplicably. To top it off, boyfriend Anatoly thinks it's all in her head.
Sophie is 99 percent sure her problems are caused by someone six feet tall instead of six feet under, but the only way to be sure is to track down the killer—before he pushes her kicking and screaming to the other side…

I also realized that this is a series, so I am going to hunt down a copy of the first volume to read over this raining weekend. What did you find this week? (Want to play along? Go to Should Be Reading.)

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Booking Through Thursday -- 6/11

There are certain types of books that I more or less assume all readers read. (Novels, for example.)
But then there are books that only YOU read. Instructional manuals for fly-fishing. How-to books for spinning yarn. How to cook the perfect souffle. Rebuilding car engines in three easy steps. Dog training for dummies. Rewiring your house without electrocuting yourself. Tips on how to build a NASCAR course in your backyard. Stuff like that.
What niche books do YOU read?
Good question. I once read a book about dream analysis for fun. For Christmas one year, I asked (and received) a book called Catholicism for Dummies because I was interested in learning more about the history and traditions of my faith.

What about you? (Want to play along? Go to Booking Through Thursday.)

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Paranormal Mini - Reviews -- Wicked Lovely / Tantalize

Wicked Lovely
by Melissa Marr

Marr creates an interesting world (bleak and dangerous), adds a love story (mortal and an immortal), and a wicked villian. A young adult novel with well written prose, Wicked Lovely is a fantastic addition to the "fairies are among us" genre. Rating:*** out of 5 (1st book in the series)

by Cynthia Leitch Smith

Fun premise (a murder in a vampire themed restaurant), interesting main character (seventeen year old girl who is in love with her best friend -- a werewolf), but in the end the plot gets very messy (what? and spoil it for ya?) . Rating: **1/2 out of 5

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Review -- Love Walked In

Love Walked In
by Marisa de los Santos
Published by Penguin Group, 2006
320 pages
June 2009 Book Club Selection

Summary: Cornelia Brown gets the surprise of her life when she meets Martin Cross, her Cary Grant dream come true. Across town, teenage Claire begins to see her lovely mother in the throws of a mental breakdown. As Claire reaches out for help, she meets Cornelia and they begin a friendship unlike any other.

Review: At first, I didn't think I would like this book. The chapters alternate -- one in Cornelia's voice and one in observation of Claire. The Cornelia chapters seemed to ramble, almost like she had adult ADD. Don't get me wrong, I love the old movie and Shakespearean references, but they just seemed very randomly placed. However, as the book progressed, Cornelia's chapters began to settle down with the introduction of Claire and Tao. Marisa de los Santos developed really interesting relationships between the characters and gave each their own distinct voice. A light read that makes the reader think of love in unconventional ways. Rating: *** out of 5.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Friday Finds -- 6/5

Is it all ready Friday? Here are my finds for the week:
The Actor and the Housewife by Shannon Hale: I read Austenland by Hale and really enjoyed it. Here's a little blurb (from Barnes and Noble) about her newest book, available June 9th --

Mormon housewife Becky Jack is seven months pregnant with her fourth child when she meets celebrity hearththrob Felix Callahan. Twelve hours, one elevator ride, and one alcohol-free dinner later, something has happened…though nothing has happened. It isn’t sexual. It isn’t even quite love. But a month later Felix shows up in Salt Lake City to visit and before they know what’s hit them, Felix and Becky are best friends. Really.

The Last Bridge by Teri Coyne: This sounds like a fantastic thriller / mystery. Only one problem -- it doesn't come out until July. Here's a little blurb (from Barnes and Noble) anyway --

After a ten-year absence, Alex “Cat” Rucker returns to her Ohio hometown because of a letter left on her mother’s kitchen table—a suicide note, carefully preserved in a Ziploc® bag, that reads:“He isn’t who you think he is. Love, Mom”Thus opens this stunning debut novel from author Teri Coyne, who, with wry humor and sharp wit, follows Alex’s journey through the traumatic experiences of her youth and the haze of her adult life.

What did you find this week? (Want to play along? Go to Should Be Reading.)
Check out my interview with Kate Veitch, author of Without a Backward Glance. As always, if you like my blog, subscribe or become a follower!

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Booking Through Thursday -- 6/4

“This can be a quick one. Don’t take too long to think about it. Fifteen books you’ve read that will always stick with you. First fifteen you can recall in no more than 15 minutes.”

1. Persuasion by Jane Austen
2. My Sister's Keeper by Jodi Picoult
3. The Spellman Files by Lisa Lutz
4. The Virgin of Small Plains by Nancy Pickard
5. Click, Clack, Moo -- Cows That Type by Doreen Cronin
6. No, David by David Shannon
7. The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman
8. Dead to the World by Charlaine Harris
9. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
10. Watchmen by Alan Moore
11. Fluke by Christopher Moore

I could only think of 11! I know there are so many more. I just can't seem to think of them right now. What are your 15? (Want to play along? Go to Booking Through Thursday)

Don't forget to check out my interview with Kate Veitch, author of Without a Backward Glance!

Review -- Without a Backward Glance

Without a Backward Glance
by Kate Veitch
Published by Penguin Group, 2008
384 pages
June 2009 Book Club Selection

Summary: The story of the McDonald children, Deborah, Robert, James, and Meredith, whose mother walks out of their lives on Christmas Eve leaving them devastated. As adults forty years later, who are watching their beloved father lose his memory to dementia, their lives dramatically change after a chance encounter brings James together with their long lost mother.

Review: Kate Veitch writes a compelling novel that makes the reader examine the themes of abandonment and forgiveness. Without a Backward Glance is a well written novel with beautiful character development. The characters sneak up on the reader throughout the book and by the end you can't help but care about them. A quiet novel that examines the family dynamics and individual personalities of a family in crisis. Rating:**** out of 5

Check out my interview with Kate Veitch, author of Without a Backward Glance.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Interview with Kate Veitch -- author of Without a Backward Glance

I am very excited to have an interview with Kate Veitch, author of Without a Backward Glance, on Barney's Book Blog today. Kate's novel is the book club's June 2009 selection and we are looking forward to discussing Without a Backward Glance with her at our next meeting.

What inspired you to write this book?
I had just ended a twenty-year marriage, over the course of which I'd gradually abandoned all my creative pursuits, so I had quite a head of steam built up to write SOMETHING. The idea of the mother who is stifled by the conservative Australia of the 1960's was very much from life: my own mother. But she didn't leave; she stayed, and drank too much, which is another form of escape. I wanted to show a whole family struggling in their different ways with both their own innate personalities and with a single dramatic event which had more or less locked them in time. And I also wanted very much to impress my boyfriend, who is an editor, and thought if I wrote a decent novel, that might do it. (It worked! Phew!)

The themes of abandonment and forgiveness are prevalent in your novel. How did the use of these themes come about?
Yes, you're right, they do figure strongly. I guess I had thought of these as pretty universal themes: we all know what abandonment feels like, or the fear of it, don't we? And have all experienced the need to forgive, or the wish to be forgiven. One doesn't have to have lived through world-shattering events to know about these things. My own family of origin was intact, but not untroubled; those issues, and more, were not far below the surface, though never ON the surface. Typical suburban middle-class family, really, replete with hidden torments. And as an adult I've experienced my share of bad behaviour, my own as well as others'. As a fiction writer who is interested in families and these themes, I have a wealth of material all around me. We all do!

The character development in your novel is exquisite. I felt them grow as people before my eyes. Where do your characters come from? Do you have a favorite?
Why thank you! It is tremendously heartening for a writer to know that the people you've created come to life for readers as well. None of the characters in the novel is a portrait of one particular real person however. (Though my younger brother does insist that gorgeous talented James is based on him. Actually, he's right, but I've never admitted that to him!) I pluck a physical characteristic from here, a neurotic habit from there, a manner of speaking from somewhere else -- and next thing you know, they're off and away, with lives of their own. And refusing, sometimes, to do what you want them to do, which is disconcerting. My favourite is Olivia, with her scowl and her steely young will and her devotion to her animals; she seems to me an admirably independent young person. I am very fond of Silver, too, James' wealthy wife, who was one of those surprising characters who insist on being different to what you'd imagined. I have always liked and understood Rosemarie/Rose, even though she's not like me at all, and have been quite taken aback at the vehement dislike, even hatred, of her that some readers have expressed. But I guess I should be pleased too that she lives so strongly for them, even if negatively.

What books and/ or authors have inspired you?
To tell you the truth, the biggest influence on me in the writing of Without A Backward Glance wasn't a book at all, but a TV series: Six Feet Under. This is particularly strange because I have a very low tolerance for television and hardly watch it at all. But I LOVED that series, and especially the ensemble nature of it, where every character has his or her own secrets and allegiances. And another author who influenced me in a very particular way was Elmore Leonard: I am fascinated by the way he can develop character and move a plot forward through dialogue alone, and hardly "sets the scene" at all. Apart from these two odd influences, in a general sense I'm interested mostly in contemporary fiction by women writers like Anita Shreve, Sue Miller, and Joanna Trollope.

What are you working on now?
Another novel, to be published next year; not the same family but, again, siblings and secrets, loyalty and lack of it, bad behaviour and forgiveness (or not). At its heart lies the question of how a woman holds on to who SHE is, amid the myriad demands of family and career. The working title is "Stand By Me", and the publishers seem to like that too. I'm at the final revisions stage now, and the deadline is looming -- better get back to it!

Thank you so much to Kate Veitch for the great interview.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Review -- Thr3e

by Ted Dekker
Published by Thomas Nelson, 2003
400 pages

Summary: Kevin Parson is being pursued by Slater, a bomber who is obsessed with making Kevin confess his sins. As Slater continues to call Kevin with riddles telling where the bombs are, Kevin works with the FBI and his best friend, Samantha, to stop Slater.

Review: Thanks to Alexia at The Mommy Rambles for the recommendation (check out her great blog). This is a top notch thriller that had me absorbed in the story from page one. Dekker is great at heightening the suspense and really keeps the reader guessing. During the time I was reading this, I felt some of the scenes were a little long, especially at the end when two of the characters are debating the evil nature of man. Afterward, I read somewhere that this novel is considered Christian fiction (shocker) and then the debate made sense. Though it was still a tad too long, especially that late in the book, when you just want to know who the killer is. Rating: *** out of 5.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Review -- Smoke Screen

Smoke Screen
by Sandra Brown
Published by Simon & Schuster Adult Publishing Group, 2008
416 pages
Summary: Britt wakes up to find herself in bed with the dead body of police detective Jay Burgess. Suspected of killing Jay, Britt tries to remember what happened that night so she can defend herself in front of the police and media. Before being arrested, she is kidnapped by a former disgraced fire fighter who is looking for answers to Jay's death. Together, they look for connections between a fire from the past and the heroes (like Jay) who are ending up dead.

Review: My aunt, who is a huge Sandra Brown fan, lent me this book. I can understand why she enjoys Ms. Brown's books. The plot was fast paced and fun -- I did not want to put it down. The story was interesting and kept my attention, though by the end I really didn't care who the killer was. The best part of this book was the relationship between the main characters and their journey to figure out who killed their friend. Great summer beach read. Rating: *** out of 5

It's Monday! What are you reading? -- 6/1

Read Last Week (reviews to come): Without a Backward Glance by Kate Veitch, Love Walked In by Marisa del los Santos, Tantalize by Cynthia Leitich Smith, and Wicked Lovely by Melissa MarrReviewed last week (click on title to read review): Jessica's Guide to Dating on the Dark Side by Beth Fantaskey, The Spellman Files by Lisa Lutz, and What Would Jane Austen Do? by Laurie Brown

What are you reading this week? (What to play along? Go to J.Kaye's Book Blog)