Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Book Review and Author Interview - FROST by Kate Avery Ellison

Frost, by Kate Avery Ellison, is one of those cool stories where you can't tell if the genre is fantasy, dystopian, or both. Lia and her siblings live in this super cold place where it's dangerous to be outside, especially after dark. There are monsters that lurk in the forest, but that's not the only threat. There are also the "farthers" - people who live in a society that's far away. Their civilization is more advanced than Lia's is; they have technology. But according to the town elders, they can't be trusted. However, Lia soon learns that everything she thought she knew about her world needs to be questioned, and when she saves and falls in love with a farther, she no longer knows whom to trust.

If the plot sounds complicated, don't worry about it. This is a really good book, but it's hard to describe. Once I got into it (like, from the second page on...) it was hard to put down. There's romance and suspense, and plot twists that I didn't see coming. There were some similarities to Hunger Games, in that the main character needs to be strong and take care of her family, and she's growing up in a place where adults can't be trusted. But I thought the similarities were a good thing. Avery-Ellison has written in a genre that's admittedly very popular, but she brings something new and unique. For $2.99 you can't go wrong. This is a really good book.

So when I contacted Kate Avery Ellison, she graciously agreed to answer my interview questions. Keep reading!

LO-  I like to do ten-word posts on my blog. Can you describe the story
of your book in exactly ten words

KAE - Oh, I had to do one of these before and I forgot what I wrote. Hmmmm....let's see. "Orphaned girl risks everything for love in a dangerous world."

LO - What is the theme or the message of your novel, and how did you
incorporate it into your writing?

KAE - I think the theme is a mixture of things--the importance of love, the dangers of prejudiced thinking and how it's easier to hate and fear things and people that you don't understand or know personally, and the way people can become insular and fearful in a way that ends up warping them.

LO - What did you enjoy most about writing this particular book?

KAE - I always enjoy seeing where the story takes me, because the characters tend to surprise me and do things I don't expect. And I loved exploring the setting for this story. It's all murky blue light and icy landscapes and stone with little bits of steampunk and sci fi. I love it.

LO -  If your book was going to be made into a movie, who would you
cast as the main characters?

KAE - Tough question. (Interesting fact about me--I never picture faces when I'm writing because I have a hard time visualizing facial features in my mind for some reason, so I don't really have much of a "look" in mind for any one character beyond their hair color and general complexion). But I answered a question like this in a interview I did on the launch day, and I suggested these actors for several of the characters:

Lia: Hannah Marks http://www.hannahmarks.com/admin/images/ImagesGallery/IMG_2949-ISGO.jpg
Gabe: Jeremy Sumpter http://www.poptower.com/jeremy-sumpter-picture-22144.htm
Ann: Sarah Gadon http://sharetv.org/person/sarah_gadon

But again, it's hard for me to pick actors sometimes.

LO -  What inspired you to become a writer? Are there any favorite
authors or books you can name?

KAE - I've wanted to write since I was about six years old--I loved reading, my mother explained that authors were people who wrote books, so I decided I wanted to do that someday too (when you're six, people are always asking you what you want to be when you grow up). And I think my mom really inspired me because she always believed that I'd do it. She always said things like "Someday when you're an author..." when I was a little girl. There never seemed to be any doubt in her mind, and that confidence meant a lot to me.

My favorite/most influential authors are Robin Mckinley, Megan Whalen Turner, John Green, Maureen Johnson, Sharon Shinn, Daphne du Maurier, Agatha Christie, and Flannery O'Connor (quite a diverse group of genres and styles, I know).

Thanks so much for having me, Laurel!


Friday, August 24, 2012

Review and Author Interview - Groom and Doom

Groom and Doom by Theresa Braun, is not your typical chick-lit, wedding story. That’s not to say that chick lit or wedding stories are automatically formulaic, but this book is not what I was expecting. Ms. Braun has her master’s degree in English literature, and you can tell how vast her knowledge is as she weaves in classic allusions and figurative language into her narrative. But she does so in a way that is unintimidating, merely adding flavor, rather than pretention, to the story.
And – side note – as an English teacher myself, I really appreciated her description of the plight of the high school teacher. It was spot on!
Anyway, the story of Groom and Doom is about a romance between Angela and Starvos and the trouble that ensues when they plan their perfect Greek wedding. Angela, among other things, is a fortune teller, and she has had her own tarot cards read many times. Most of the readings tell her wonderfully positive things about her wedding and her future, yet she can’t seem to relax and let go. There are constant nagging feelings of doubt about where she is headed, especially when it comes to her teaching career or her masters, but also when it comes to her personal life as well. But she knows beyond a shadow of a doubt that she loves Starvos.
Will that love be enough to withstand a domineering father-in-law? Will Starvos be the “Greek God” Angela has imagined him to be? You’ll have to read it to find out. But know this: any obstacle or insecurity Angela must face is written with realism and gravity. That’s what I mean when I say this book isn’t typical. Angela’s story and her problems feel real, as if they were happening to the readers themselves. Because of this, her triumphs feel all the more vivid as well. I highly recommend this unique and charming novel!
Keep reading for an interview with the author, Theresa Braun!

LO - I like to do ten-word posts on my blog. Can you describe the story of your book in exactly ten words

TB - Greek wedding fairy-tale gone wrong with a quirky family cast.

LO - What is the theme or the message of your novel, and how did you incorporate it into your writing?

TB - The theme has to do with dusting oneself off after life’s disappointments.  Even though things might not go as planned, we need to try to learn something and move forward.  I strongly believe that and put it in the story.  Angela, the main character, struggles with this during the novel. 

LO - What did you enjoy most about writing this particular book?

TB - I loved finding the humor in things and tried to let that come through while writing.  There were parts of the story that sort of took on a life of their own—like the ghost stories and sightings of the father-in-law in Venice.  That was a lot of fun to write.

LO - If your book was going to be made into a movie, who would you cast as the main characters?

Drew Barrymore as Angela.

John Corbett as Stavros.

Richard Dreyfuss as Georgius.

LO - What inspired you to become a writer? Are there any favorite authors or books you can name?

TB - My English teachers were always such interesting people who made literature come alive.  I was also fascinated by the writing process and what inspired those authors.  The idea of creating something that people could enjoy or get something out of was something I wanted to do.  There are so many authors I love.  I’m a huge fan of gothic lit like Frankenstein and Dracula, but I also enjoy Vonnegut’s satire.  And I try to keep up with some more contemporary writers.  I enjoyed Lolly Winston’s Good Grief and Kathryn Stockett’s The Help.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Legitimate Rape, Sex, or Love?

There's a new post on November Surprises, Lucy's political blog. To read about Todd Akin's comment and Jack's affair, click here.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Blog Hop - What's the One Genre You'll Never Read?


Book Blogger Hop
As part of the Book Blogger Hop, I'm answering the question - What's the ONE genre you'll never read?

Well, call me a prude, but I really have no interest in erotica. That's why I'm staying away from 50 Shades of Grey. I like my books to be about something. While I'm sure there's erotica with good character development and theme, come on. We all know what those books are ACTUALLY about, and it's just not for me. I also like having some stuff left to the reader's imagination.

Joe Biden, Villains, and Lies

There is a new post on November Surprises, Lucy's political blog. To read about Joe Biden, villains and lies (and more about Jack's divorce), click here.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Mocked By Destiny - Book Review and Guest Post

Mocked By Destiny by Michele Richard, is a story about young love and having to grow up too fast. Stella lives in the tourist town of Virginia Beach. She has never had a strong male presense in her life, because in her family the men always leave. Although she's been raised with love and values, both her grandmother and her mother got pregnant at an early age. So Stella is determined not to follow in their path.
Then she meets Stefan. The attraction between them is immediate, and the fact that Stefan will be leaving soon only intesifies their feelings for each other. After some major family drama from Stefan's dad, Stella and Stefan end up having sex, and Stella winds up pregnant. But that's only the beginning of the story.
I thought the writing in this books was very tight and vivid. I liked that the point of view switched between Stella and Stefan's voices, giving the reader insight into what they both were thinking. I did find it hard to believe that a good looking guy like Stefan had never been kissed before Stella, but that's a minor detail.
Most of all, Richard painted a very detailed picture of how someone like Stella might react to getting pregnant based on her past experiences and family life. Stella was smart and ambitious and I was glad that didn't change despite her unplanned pregnancy. Mocked by Destiny is the first book about teen pregnancy that I have read in a while that tackles the complications and messiness of the issue. But it's also an enjoyable, romantic read.

Keep reading for a special guest post by the author, Michele Richard and an excerpt from Mocked By Destiny.

Thank you for letting me stop by! I’ve been running none stop this month. Mocked by Destiny was my first release and my first re-release under Renaissance Romance Publishing. Moving publishing houses has been an adventure and not a bad one. Now with Mocked by Destiny being in its second edition, I had opportunities I didn’t before. It’s really wonderful. So here’s a bit about Mocked by Destiny:


For Stella Richards, life in the charming town of Virginia Beach is not as magical as one would think. Sun, fun, and sand only guarantee one thing: unwanted visitors. Stella learned long ago to never befriend anyone visiting the beach. They're here; then they're gone, drifting in and out as the tide ebbs and flows. She vowed to never connect with anyone vacationing in Virginia Beach - until spring break. Stefan changed everything.

Stefan Sterling lives life never knowing where he will end up next. Bouncing from one Military base to another has hampered his ability to connect to those around him. That's what happens when your father is in the military. Raised in a world of discipline, control, and strangers, Stefan never expected to find anyone he'd want to be close to - let alone love.

A family curse verses a loving abnormality promises to keep Stella and Stefan on their toes. Was it an accident or could it be destiny? Will they be able to survive their families? And, is there ever a time when you can fully let go of the person who awoke your soul?

I was hit with the idea for this book while I actually sat on the beach it was set in. Too eager to allow the idea to slip away, I grabbed my daughter’s notebook and started filling the pages. Half the book was finished before I returned to Boston. I’d never inspired to a published author. In fact: I’d hidden my writing from everyone who knew me, including my family. My insecurities about being accepted almost held me back from sharing. It took a friend from NY to talk me into sending it into a publishing house. You can imagine my surprise when it took second in a contest and was wanted by The Writer’s Coffee Shop. It’s found a new home at Renaissance Romance Publishing.

With so many wonderful reviews it’s hard to pick one favorite, but having it described as raw and realistic has to be my choice. I didn’t want to glorify it, I wanted to wake up teen minds and have them say, “NO! I don’t want that.”

With that said, don’t look for me to put it down either. It’s a hard situation for a teen and the family that supports them. My intent was always just to present with the facts in a fictional character that they could relate to. I feel I have them justice in what they had to go through. I’ll leave it up to you to decide.


“Stella, I leave tomorrow, but we still have tonight. Please, let’s spend our last few hours alone?” he pleaded, his hair still dripping, the droplets glimmering as they rolled down his cheeks.

“I would like that,” I admitted, breathless. My body tingled as he stroked my arms.

He didn’t hesitate to drag me through the house and upstairs. I pointed out the door to my room with my trembling hand. With our hands clutched together, he spun to face me and kissed me desperately until I felt like I would pass out from oxygen deprivation.

“Stella,” he moaned, cupping my face in his hands. “I’ve never felt like this before with anybody. I need you in a way I’ve never needed anyone.” He whimpered into my mouth.

Stefan started rubbing his cold hands across my wet clothes. His clothes clung to his firm physique, making him look even more defined. His chest heaved against mine, making me want to be as close to him as possible. Our shared body heat started to warm our cool, damp skin. No amount of denial could hide the effect our closeness caused. 

“Stefan, this isn’t a good idea. I don’t want to be like my mom.” My mind said no, but my body was screaming yes.

“I promise I’m not like your dad. I’ll be back on August twenty-third, when my parents can’t stop us from being together,” he vowed with total confidence.

“I love you. Can’t we wait until then?” I chewed my lip, nervous.

“I love so much, I feel like my heart will explode. I want to show you by giving you the one thing they can’t stop me from giving you: me!”

There was no fighting it anymore. He wanted it, I wanted it, and that was the moment my dreams died. Whether I knew it or not at the time was irrelevant. At that moment I sealed my fate.

Thank you again for letting me stop by! Hope you will check out Mocked by Destiny!

Michele Richard

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Paul Ryan and the Heartbreak of Divorce

There's a new post on November Surprise Political Blog. To read Lucy's post about Paul Ryan and the hearbreak of divorce, click here.

10 Word Post ~ Summer Invention

Playdough that looks
like barf
entertains many for hours

Friday, August 10, 2012

What to do when in a reading rut?

Book Blogger Hop

Who is your go-to author when you are in a reading rut?

This is today's question for the book-blogger hop. While I'm excited to participate, I'm not sure I can answer the question in the way it was intended. When I'm in a reading "rut" it means I need to try something new, so I don't have a go-to author for that. However, last winter I read my first Stephen King book in a long time, and I picked it up at a time when I wasn't sure what I wanted to be reading. It was 11/22/63.

I enjoyed it. I thought the plot was very well done, with all the time-travel and details about the 1960s, and I really enjoyed the main character and the first-person narrative. But I also was reminded of why I stopped reading Stephen King in the first place. He could trim off at least a third of most of his books, and they'd be more effective. (At least in my opinion.)

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Book Review and Author Interview; MEMORIES by Deanna Sletten

Memories by Deanna Sletten

Memories, by Deanna Sletten is a compelling love story, but be prepared, it’s a tear-jerker as well. Mostly it’s about a passionate romance between the two main characters, Dani and Michael. Michael is a Vietnam vet, damaged but still able to love. Dani is the one woman who can offer him redemption and understanding. However, they are torn apart when Michael leaves suddenly with no explanation. Eighteen years later they meet by chance, and find a way to love each other again.

The story isn’t so much about what happens, but the journey that the characters take. It’s all written in flashback, so readers know the ending from the first page. That’s okay; there are still many surprises along the way, and this is a book well-worth reading.

The characters are realistic and vividly drawn, and they speak like real people. If you’re in the mood for a sad but sweet romance, then I highly recommend Memories.

Deanna Sletten graciously agreed to be interviewed! Keep reading to find out more...

L.O. - I like to do ten-word posts on my blog. Can you describe the story of your book in exactly ten words?

 Two people who find love again after years of separation.

L.O -  What is the theme or the message of your novel, and how did you incorporate it into your writing?
I suppose the message is that love never dies no matter how many years go by. If a person falls in love with their "true love" but then time separates them, that connection never ends. I wanted to write a love story where, no matter how many tragedies occur, the two people are able to get past them and their love endures. We live in such a throw-away world today; it's nice to think that true love continues no matter what happens.

L.O - What did you enjoy most about writing this particular book?

I just loved the relationship between the two protagonists, Dani and Michael. They knew each other inside-out, even after years apart. I loved writing their angry scenes and then the scenes when they connected on a deeper level. I also enjoyed writing the nightmare scenes for Michael. They give great depth to his character and they still make me cry!

4.) If your book was going to be made into a movie, who would you cast as the main characters?

This is difficult for me because I didn't think of any particular actor when I wrote this book. The characters are people I created in my mind, so they are one of a kind to me. But if I had to pick two actors who might fit these characters, it would be Gerard Butler as Michael and Rachel McAdams as Dani. They are close to the descriptions of my characters in both appearance and age.  

  L.O - What inspired you to become a writer? Are there any favorite authors or books you can name?

I have always enjoyed making up stories, even as a young child. I just never thought of writing as something I could actually do to earn a living until two of my English professors in college asked me why my major wasn't writing. After that, I was hooked with the writing bug. I started out writing for newspapers, small print magazines and then for websites. All the while, I was also writing novels, but was never able to place them with an agent or publisher. The opportunity to self-publish gave me a way to share my books with readers.

I have many favorite books and authors. The very first book I fell in love with was Little Women by Louisa May Alcott, then Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte. I love those books not only for their stories but also for the beautiful way they are written. Another favorite author is F. Scott Fitzgerald. I've read every book/short story he wrote. Contemporary authors I enjoy are Janet Evanovich, Elizabeth Buchan, Stephen King, Jodi Picoult, Dan Brown and Jennifer Weiner. I've also found several indie authors whose work I enjoy including Holly Bush, Alle Wells, Ann Swann and Jan Romes. I love to read and finding new authors is always a joy.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Wish List Wednesday

Today I'm joining in on Pen to Paper's wishlist Wednesday, where you share a book you're wishing to read.

My pick is The Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker. I had heard about it through a friend, and when I visited my parents last week they had checked it out from the library. It's about a young girl and what happens to her and her family when the earth's rotation slows down. I read the first couple of chapters and was immediately drawn in. I'm on a waiting list for it now at the library.

The book trailer gives a really good idea of the mood and the plot; it uses the first few lines of the book.