Thursday, May 31, 2012

Interview with J.T. Ellison and review of A Deeper Darkness

Interview with JT Ellison

JT is a very favorite author of mine, I’ve been reading her for years and I’m happy that she agreed to spend the month with us while we read and discuss the first novel in her brand new series starring Dr. Samantha Owens. So without further ado please welcome JT to the forum.

Debbie - Tell us what led you to this new series, was it Sam herself or something else.
J.T.- First off – thank you for having me! I’m thrilled to be here.
Samantha is a recurring character in my Taylor Jackson series. She’s Taylor’s best friend, but she’s also the series’ conscience, the lodestone. When in doubt, go to Sam. But she had never been a point of view character until Where All The Dead Lie (TJ #7) Her voice was so strong in that book that I dedicated a small subplot to her, and she was so much fun to write I knew she needed her own book. My publisher and agent agreed, so I went about spinning her off. But when you have a spin off, you need a different environment, a different set-up. Hence the loss of her family and her move to D.C. It gives her a clean slate, and she is a fascinatingly rich character because of her loss.

Now tell us how a nice financial analyst and marketing director like you wound up writing crime dramas?
Well, to start with, I’m just not that good at math. I can balance a fifty million dollar budget, but I can’t balance my checkbook. I went into aerospace marketing from finance, but when we moved to Tennessee, that all went away. And thank goodness it did. It wasn’t ever the right fit for me. I always had a little voice in the back of my head saying, “This isn’t what you’re meant to do. This isn’t right.” Turns out that was the Muse, calling me.
I’ve always been interested in forensics, and greatly admire our law enforcement and the FBI. But it wasn’t until I read John Sandford’s Prey series that I knew I wanted to write crime fiction. My earlier work is heavy on the violence, but I’ve moved away from that into a more psychological suspense realm. It fits my personality better, and wow, is it ever easier to talk about in public!

Researching novels must take a big chunk of time, how much time do you devote to research in your novels and what’s the farthest distance it took you.
I do a lot of research. I’ve spent time with Metro Nashville homicide, patrol, talked to the FBI at Quantico, bought more books than you can count, utilize the Internet to fill in the gaps. I do a lot on the fly, now, since I have most of the basics down pat. But I still need a few weeks of hunting and gathering per book to get my ducks in a row. The farthest afield I’ve gotten is autopsies. Four in one morning, and wow, does that change your perspective. It was at once both the most horrifying and most spiritual experience of my life. I dare anyone who doesn’t believe in some sort of higher power to attend an autopsy. There’s no question about the existence of the soul, because I’ll tell you, we all are the same inside.

Were you a reader, are you now, what are some of your favorite authors
I’m a huge reader, always have been. My list is too long to give justice, so I’ll give my inspirations instead: John Sandford, who inspired the Taylor Jackson series, John Connolly, who inspired my ever-evolving writing style, Lee Child, who’s friendship and guidance has been invaluable. The thriller chicks: Catherine Coulter, Tess Gerritsen, Erica Spindler, Alex Kava, Karin Slaughter and Allison Brennan, for showing me how not to compromise my subject matter just because I’m a woman. Diana Gabaldon, for teaching me how to create worlds. J.K. Rowling, for teaching me to follow my heart. Sharon Penman, Karleen Koen, Danielle Steele and Mary Stewart, for helping me move from children’s books to adult books (ie: teaching me the differences between love, romance and sex. I guess I better include Judy Blume’s FOREVER in there too, for that very reason.) Ayn Rand’s ANTHEM changed my life, Book VII of Plato’s REPUBLIC got me into graduate school, and my all-time favorite, LOLITA, by Vladimir Nabokov, showed me it’s possible to have lovable monsters.

Walk us through a typical day in the life of JT Ellison
It depends a bit on how far into a project I am - the closer to deadline there’s less business and more writing - but the bones are the same: I get up around 8-8:30 (a luxury, definitely, but if I don’t sleep a lot, I don’t work) check my email, maybe do a quick run through the news or my social networks, make a cup of tea, then get to it. I used to write from 12-4, but I’ve flipped my day: now I wrote from 9:30 – 11:30 or 12, take a lunch break, then either read or write from 1:00 – 3:00, when I go to Yoga, or take a walk. I intersperse all of that with mini breaks to go online. I wish I could just cut myself off completely, and I do many days, using Freedom to turn off my Internet in 120 minute chunks. It’s a bastardization of the Pomodorian method of productivity. But I like to sneak online and check things out. Sometime in the afternoon slot I’ll put together a blog if the spirit strikes me, to be posted the following morning. After yoga I work until my husband comes home, mostly business stuff, then we eat, watch TV, read, crash and start all over. I work 6 days a week, try very hard to take either Saturday or Sunday off. But rarely both. 1000 words a day is my goal. I must average that, or I get really cranky. When I’m closing in on a deadline, that can rise to an average of 4000-7000 per day. (1000 words is about five pages…)

What are you working on now?
I’ve just turned in the December Samantha Owens book, and have submitted the proposal for the third Sam. I’m in love with the title, so I’m hoping it’s accepted along with the story idea. I’m also working on a massive secret project that is very research intensive, and with any luck, sometime during this month I’ll be able to talk about it a bit.

Do you belong to a writer’s group?
I do, or I should say, I did. I’m on a sabbatical right now. But I’ve been with the same ladies for eight years or so now, and they’ve had their eyes on every book I’ve written. We meet twice a month, bring ten pages to read aloud, and gently critique one another’s work.

Do you still get butterflies before a release day?
I do. Absolutely. Though I’m more of a wreck in the few weeks leading up to the first reviews than anything else. The worse I think I’ve done with a book, the better it’s received. I’m not a good judge of my own work. I do read my reviews. But I feel if you believe the good, you must believe the bad, as well. It keeps me balanced.

You have a pretty large internet presence, do you feel that social media is important to getting name recognition.
I do, to an extent. It’s certainly changed publishing. I think it’s wonderful to be able to communicate directly with readers. For me, it’s a fun thing, not a marketing thing. I do it because I enjoy it, enjoy talking with readers, checking in with my friends, etc. That said, I think it can be very overdone. I’m constantly trying to find the right balance. Hitting people over the head with Buy my book, Buy my book gets really old, really quick. I’m moving a bit of my focus away from the networks and onto my mailing list, upping my newsletters to once a month instead of quarterly. That way, we’re all still talking, but it’s not as in your face as Facebook and Twitter.

JT Thank you for taking time out of your schedule not just for the interview but in advance for spending time with us in June while we read A Deeper Darkness.
Thanks for having me! I hope everyone enjoys the book!

My review of A Deeper Darkness

Dr. Samantha Owens has lived the last two years of her life in a fog of tragedy, only surviving by focusing on her work as the Chief Medical Examiner for Nashville, but not really living since the waters of a cataclysmic flood stole her entire family from her. Sam gets a call from the mother of a former love Eddie Donovan, a love that is now also lost to tragedy but his mother is not convinced of the circumstances of his death and calls Sam to perform a second autopsy to be sure. Needing an excuse to escape from her self imposed prison for awhile Sam answers the call to help even though she hasn’t heard from Eddie since they broke up after his decision to join the service. When she arrives in DC she’s not welcomed by everyone, Eddie’s wife isn’t at all happy to be hosting a former girlfriend and the detective on his case sees her as a distraction at best and a hindrance at worst. This does not deter Sam as she goes about her business letting the dead tell their secrets and this death is no different it also has secrets to tell, secrets that are pointing in the direction of murder especially as further evidence comes to light and another murder is committed that has ties to Eddie and his time as an Army Ranger serving in Afghanistan. The more Sam digs the more questions arise and with the help of detective Darren Fletcher who’s come to welcome her help they start putting pieces together, but the answers are still just out of reach and the terrain is getting very hazardous as the body count is piling up. But being here a part of something bigger than her, Sam realizes that a partial healing is taking place and is realizing that the human heart is much more than mere valves and blood flow and much more resilient than she first thought. The question is will she survive this new threat long enough to find out what else her heart is telling her or will she become just another victim of a different kind of flood.
JT Ellison has once again gone above and beyond what I expect and done it beautifully. She’s taken fact and fiction and together she’s woven an intricate patterned drama filled mystery. She uses the very real Tennessee flood of 2010, some call it the thousand year flood where very real lives were lost and some of those exactly as was depicted here. She also brings light to life after combat for our homebound men and the real healing they must also go through. Her storyline is imaginative, it’s illusive, it’s brilliantly filled with twists and turns and kept me from closing the pages until I either found out what happened or fell asleep trying to. Her narrative is that of the profession shown, the cop-speak and doc-speak fluently mixed with the everyday dialogue of everyday people. Her characters are all so well defined that I knew them intimately by the end of the novel, some I came to care for and some I hoped to stand under a large falling tree. Is this a mystery, very definitely but it’s so much more, it’s a love story, past present and future, it’s a drama with an edge and it’s a story about one woman’s weakness, her strength and her will to live on.
If you’re lucky enough to have read JT’s Taylor Jackson series then you already know Sam, if this is your first foray into the vivid mind of Ms. Ellison you will learn all you need to know and yet at the end you might be itching to find out what else this talented author has written while you’ll also get to know Sam a little better as well.
Please join us in our month long discussion of A Deeper Darkness with J.T.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Review of Big Sky Country and Q&A with Linda Lael Miller

5-29 Q&A w/Linda Lael Miller
Big Sky Country
Please welcome #1 NY Times Best Selling author Linda Lael Miller one of my all time favorite and go to authors and the undisputed Queen of Western Romance. 
Linda it’s a real pleasure to have you here to celebrate the release of a brand new novel and a brand new series, this one is set in Big Sky Country.

Debbie - Tell us a little about the new novel and the new series 
Linda -“Big Sky Country” is the first in a series set in a fictional Montana town called Parable, patterned after my mom’s hometown, Choteau.  The heroes are all cowboys, and their women are all strong, motivated people, able to hold their own.  Each couple has a very good reason not to fall in love, but…and it’s that ‘but’ that makes the story.
“Big Sky Country” features Sheriff Slade Barlow, the illegitimate son of a local rancher.  His lady is Joslyn Kirk, once a small-town queen, returning to make an old wrong right again.
In “Big Sky Mountain”, you’ll meet Hutch Carmody, Slade’s half-brother, and Kendra Shepherd, who is learning to be a mother without the usual nine-month waiting period.
“Big Sky River” continues the Parable saga with Boone Taylor and Tara Kendall.  Boone has given up on love, and Tara is truly a square peg in a round hole.  What ever made her think she could be a chicken rancher????

What happens to the McKettricks-
They just seem to go on and on, that McKettrick bunch.  In “An Outlaw’s Christmas”, this year’s gift hardcover, you’ll get acquainted with Sawyer McKettrick (son of Kade and Mandy, of “Shotgun Bride”) and the schoolmarm, Piper St. James.  The other characters make sort of a cameo appearance in the book, too.

Why do you think that Cowboy romance is so popular
 I think people have always loved cowboys, all the way back to Tom Mix.  They’re a north American archetype, standing for honor, courage in the face of adversity, and a love and appreciation for animals.

You have published over 100 novels, do you still get butterflies on release day 
Oh, yes.  Each new book is like the first one—I always wait anxiously to see how it will be received.

Tell us a little about your scholarship program 
I offer the Linda Lael Miller Scholarships for Women on my website,, and give out a total of $10,000 each year.  The money can be used for tuition, of course, but also for other needs, like transportation, daycare, etc.  The project is near and dear to my heart—my way of giving back, since I was a single mother once.

What authors and genres do you enjoy reading 
Surprisingly, I read mainly histories, spiritual stuff, and memoirs.  My fiction preferences are suspense (not too graphic in the violence department, though),long, complicated historical novels, and the occasional romance.  I love romance, but I don't read a great deal of it because it’s what I do all day, so when reading time comes around, I want something different.

Tell us what you like to do when you’re not writing 
I love to do art, mainly mixed media.  I make artist trading cards and keep an art journal.  I love spending time with my critters and watching whole seasons of shows like “Downton Abbey.”  I walk and listen to a lot of podcasts—mostly ones like Craftcast, but also This American Life.  My guilty secret?  I love to play slot machines.

Do you belong to a writer’s group
No.  I just don’t have time, though I was a member of an active critique group when I lived in Arizona.  I always recommend Romance Writers of America to aspiring romance authors—it’s a fabulous way to learn, network and find encouragement.

I’m sure the fans here would love to meet you in person, I know I would
Do you have any events or signings scheduled for Barnes&Noble. 

No, but I’m open to that.  :)

Thank you so much Linda for taking the time to answer my questions, good luck to you and to your new series.
Please visit Linda’s website here for a booklist, about her scholarship or to find out what’s happening on her blog.

My Review of Big Sky Country
Big Sky Country
Linda Lael Miller
377 pages

Sheriff Slade Barlow has always known who his father was even though the man never claimed him. It didn’t matter that his father was the richest rancher in Parable Montana, Slade raised himself up with determination and a mother’s love. But now the man is dead and he did in death what he never did in life, claim him as his son. This however isn’t sitting well with his half brother and the legitimate heir to the family fortune. Now Slade has a lot to think about especially when a fallen angel comes back to town and to make matters more difficult his stepdaughter too.
Joslyn Kirk was a spoiled rich girl living in a mansion in town until the day her stepfather broke the law and scammed many of Parable’s citizens out of their life savings. This has never set well with her and now, after he’s died in prison and with the means available she’s back to set right the wrongs done by him, but not everyone is glad to see her home and the jury’s still out about what Slade thinks. But what they both know is that fate has crossed their paths for a reason and it’s up to them to give into the fierce attraction they feel for each other and if their sheltered and damaged hearts and souls can just open up they may find the happiness each one has been unknowingly searching for.

Linda Lael Miller brings us a new series with her debut novel set in the big sky country of Montana. Her characters are what she’s famous for hard working salt of the earth people who remind this romance lover of a time long ago when respect and a man’s word were all that were needed. She brings this in her customary aw shucks dialogue that makes her one of the worlds leading ladies of Western Romance and in this reader’s opinion Queen of the crop. The romance is sweet and yet sensual and the conquest is not the end-all it’s the chase, but not to worry if you’re looking for some smokin love scenes because she delivers those as well. So sit back and let her take you to a simpler life yet with enough complications to make the read that more interesting.
Buy the book here 

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

New Release Beautiful Sacrifice review and Q&A w/Elizabeth Lowell

 New Release Feature and 
Q&A with Elizabeth Lowell

Debbie - First of all Elizabeth I have to say that I’m a big fan from way back and have enjoyed many of your novels and all of your genre’s from your stand alones to your connected novels so welcome to the General Fiction forum here at B&
Elizabeth--Thank you for inviting me. As a big fan of B&N, I’m really happy to be here.

Please tell us a little about your new novel
--My favorite stories involve a woman, a man, danger, and love. BEAUTIFUL SACRIFICE tells about what happens when Lina Taylor, a field archaeologist who works in the Yucatan, finds herself involved in illegal artifacts and a cult that believes the Turning of the Wheel on December 21, 2012, will usher in a new world order.  Hunter Johnston is a former federal agent who is trying to help a childhood friend with a case involving missing Maya artifacts and a string of ritual deaths.  Together they find the kind of answers that are hard to survive.

Did you go on location while researching this novel, do you usually travel to research a novel.
--Most often, I’m able to travel while researching a novel. For BEAUTIFUL SACRIFICE, a family emergency made that impossible. Instead, I picked my daughter’s brain and photo collection. She has hiked Maya ruins and is fluent in Spanish. She gave me the flavor of culture and place I would otherwise have missed. The rest of my research was online, in books, and in video.

According to your bio you’ve co-authored several novels with your husband do you plan on any more collaborations and how was it writing with your husband
--I’d love to collaborate again, but so far my writing schedule doesn’t allow it. I keep hoping that will change. Working with a partner is a unique experience. Working with someone you love is grand.

You have authored over seventy books
Does release day still give you butterflies
--Release day is usually when I’m living in my computer, finishing up the next book. Between that and handling publicity for the book just coming out, I barely have time to sleep, much less get nervous. That said, there’s no feeling quite like having a book come out after several years of work. 

Do you belong to a writers group
--No. When I first started publishing, I didn’t even know any authors. Now I know many, but we rarely talk about what we’re working on. Instead, we share insights (aka gossip) about the business itself.

Who are the authors that inspired you and who do you read now
--Jayne Ann Krentz was the author who inspired me to write romances. At the time, I had already published science fiction under Ann Maxwell, and a mystery series featuring a male/female duet with my husband, writing as A.E. Maxwell. Plus a few historical sagas, also with Evan, as A.E. Maxwell.
--There are too many authors whose work I enjoy to even begin listing them!

What advice would you give an aspiring author.
--Write what you love. Even if it doesn’t sell, you will have had the pleasure of living within imaginary landscapes and characters that you enjoy. If you want to write professionally, never give up.

What does someone who blows up buildings, boats and people do for fun when she’s not writing
--I love fishing, gardening, reading, travel, cooking, and being with family and friends. All very ordinary and non-explosive.  ;-)

I know I would love to and I’m sure many fans would love to meet you in person – do you have any events or signings at Barnes & Noble.
--When circumstances allow, I love meeting fans in person. But having a book due within weeks of having a new one come out makes traveling to signings very difficult. Then there is the fact that we are often out cruising on our boat when the new book comes out, which makes signings impossible.
--So many things to do. So little time.

Thank you for taking the time out of your schedule to answer a few questions and good luck with the new novel.
--Thank you for your interest. It’s a frenetic world we live in, which makes online as close to “face time” as it gets for me.

 My review of Beautiful Sacrifice
Beautiful Sacrifice
Elizabeth Lowell
William Morrow
400 pages

Archeologist Dr. Lina Taylor knows a thing or two about Maya artifacts her family can trace their Maya roots back to before the Spanish set foot in Mexico and her family compound in the Yucatan has produced many Maya artifacts so it’s no wonder when Maya artifacts are stolen from a government ICE warehouse security expert and former ICE agent Hunter Johnston seeks Lina’s advice, it also gives him a chance to get to know her a little better. Lina Taylor has enjoyed the maybe dates that she and Hunter have shared over coffee so she’s more than willing to help him figure out the provenance of certain Maya items that went missing while in government custody, it also lets her spend more time with the sexy and a bit mysterious man. Lina and Hunter begin their investigation while also exploring the intense attraction they have for one another, but before the case even gets off the ground bullets start flying, bodies start showing up looking like human sacrifices of long ago Maya rituals. Does it have to do with drug trafficking like they first thought or does it have some more ominous meaning, is it just circumstance the end of the current Maya millennium is a few days away on 12-21-12, that it marks the Fourteenth Baktun or as the Maya call it the end of a Long Count and the beginning of another. Lina and Hunter will soon find themselves knee deep in danger, they’ll find out what real sacrifice means when survival is only a slim possibility and the newfound feelings they’ve discovered may never get a chance to grow.

Ms. Lowell has delivered another page turner, can’t put it down romantic suspense novel and this time she’s given this fan yet another twist to her multi-level storyline, the Maya connection, and yes I said Maya and you’ll see why I refer to it that way if you read the novel, which I’m sure you won’t be able to put down either. Her hero Hunter and Heroine Lina are the real rock stars of the piece but don’t count out the minor players in Ms. Lowell’s imaginative novel either because whether evil or good they all rock the pages. Her narrative is a bilingual mix of Spanish, English with a little Mayan thrown in for good measure and her words transported me from the dry heat of Texas to the humid sea air of the Yucatan while her descriptions of the many ruins and artifacts let me see in my mind what she described on the page. Her romance was absolutely amazing and I felt every emotion through her characters as they went from friends to lovers to much, much more.
If you’re a lover of romantic suspense, mystery, drama, the Maya end of days novels or just a great story to take you on a journey, this is your next Must Read.
Thank you Ms Lowell for an amazing trip and I can’t wait to see where you take me to next.
Buy the book here visit the author's website here

Monday, May 21, 2012

Get something more with Coming Up For Air

NYT Bestselling author Patti Callahan Henry is offering a special free ap for itunes inspired by her Novel coming out tomorrow in paperback Coming Up For Air .
Here is the blurb

On the coast of Alabama, there is a house cloaked in mystery, a place that reveals the truth and changes lives...

Ellie Calvin is caught in a dying marriage, and she knows this. With her beloved daughter away at college and a growing gap between her and her husband – between her reality and the woman she wants to be – she doesn’t quite seem to fit into her own life. 

But everything changes after her controlling mother, Lillian, passes away. Ellie’s world turns upside down when she sees her ex-boyfriend, Hutch, at her mother’s funeral and learns that he is in charge of a documentary that involved Lillian before her death. He wants answers to questions that Ellie’s not sure she can face, until, in the painful midst of going through her mother’s things, she discovers a hidden diary – and a window into stories buried long ago. 

As Ellie and Hutch start speaking for the first time in years, Ellie’s closed heart slowly begins to open. Fighting their feelings, they set out together to dig into Lillian’s history. Using both the diary and a trip to the Summer House, a mysterious and seductive bayside home, they gamble that they can work together and not fall in love again. But in piecing together a decades-old unrequited-love story, they just might uncover the secrets in their own hearts…
Coming up for Air is the story of one woman’s search for truth – and what happens when love steps in along the way.  

Here is the praise for the book:
Lyrical and moving… Patti Henry’s luminous story-telling shines through once again.”
— Mary Kay Andrews, New York Timesbestselling author of Summer Rental
"Coming Up For Air is a beautiful exploration of the deepest mysteries of the human heart. Patti Callahan Henry writes with compassion and insight, illuminating the pain of yearning and loss as well as the unsurpassed joy of love rediscovered."
— Susan Wiggs, New York Times bestselling author
"Coming Up for Air is a buoyant journey of self-discovery from an author who understands the human heart… With the complexity of a sultry southern breeze, Coming Up for Air reveals the link between a mother's secret past and a daughter's hope for a new future."
— Sherryl Woods, New York Times and USA Today bestselling author ofHoneysuckle Summer
“A southern woman's journey into truth. A emotionally intense, beautiful and unforgettable novel. I loved it.”
— Robyn Carr, New York Times bestselling author of the Virgin River novels

You can download the app here where you will get two for free and have the opportunity to purchase more at .99 each, simply check the requirements and then download the app for free.

While you’re at it why not get the novel that inspired the app Coming Up For Air is released tomorrow May 22, 2012 in paperback buy it here, but of course it’s still available in Hardback and in Nook version too.

Treat yourself to a great read and a fun and heartfelt app as well
Visit the author’s website here

Here are pictures of the app

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Review of The Cottage at Glass Beach and Q&A with author Heather Barbieri

Q&A w/Heather Barbieri
The Cottage at Glass Beach

Heather, welcome to the B& General Fiction forum
Tell us a little about your brand new novel
The Cottage at Glass Beach follows the story of Nora Cunningham, a political wife who journeys to a remote Maine island, looking for answers to her mother’s disappearance decades before, and to put distance between herself and the scandal surrounding her attorney general husband. But Nora finds more than she bargained for, as she struggles to come to terms with the past and save her young children, who have embarked on a reckless journey of their own.

This is your third novel
is release day still as exciting the third time around
It is. It marks that magical moment when the book takes that next step of the journey--from the author’s imagination and into the reader’s hands.

It says in your bio that you were among other things a voracious reader
do you think that has a direct correlation to wanting to be a writer
and did your wanting to write start at a young age as well
Yes, definitely. My grandmother and mother both grew up in somewhat challenging circumstances. Books were a refuge for them. My mother would always give me books for every birthday and at Christmas. She had excellent taste: A Wrinkle in Time, The Witch of Blackbird Pond, and the Wolves of Willoughby Chase were among early favorites. I carried on the same tradition with my own children. That early exposure to the power of literature sparked my own imagination, and I kept a journal from the age of eight, and began dabbling in writing poetry not long after.
You also mentioned your favorite authors and reading over the years
who are your favorite authors today
There are so many wonderful writers at work today, it’s hard to single anyone out, but some books that never fail to inspire me for the beauty of their language and insight are James Salter’s Light Years, Elizabeth Bowen’s The Last September, Jane Gardam’s Old Filth, and Barbara Trapido’s Brother of Another Jack. I’m currently engrossed in Cheryl Strayed’s powerful memoir, Wild.

Are your children readers
Yes, they are. It’s fun to find books I think they’ll enjoy. They each have different taste. Among the titles they’ve enjoyed are the Hunger Games series, What Is the What, The Kite Runner, The Life of Pi, and The Shadow of the Wind.

Walk us through a normal day in the life of Heather.
 Well, with kids still at home, flexibility is key, even though they’re teenagers/young adults. But generally, after getting everyone out the door, I read the paper, trying to wake up (I’m not a morning person), then go for a run or a walk, both of which are conducive to jumpstarting the creative process, take a shower (also great for getting the thoughts flowing—though inconvenient in terms of writing things down), before finally sitting down to work. Late morning/early afternoons seem to be my most productive times, these days, but I can focus and write whenever an extra window of time presents itself.

If there was one piece of advice you could give an aspiring author what would it be
Don’t lose heart. Writing is a journey, both on the page and in life.

There is a lot of change going on in the publishing industry
in your opinion is self publishing a good idea for a new author
It’s really an individual decision. Self-publishing can be an excellent way to begin to find an audience.

I’m sure that fans would love to meet you in person
do you have any Barnes & Noble events or signings coming up
I love meeting fans too! I’ll be at the Barnes and Noble at Northgate in Seattle on May 15, 7 p.m.

Thank you so much for taking the time out of you busy schedule to chat with us and good luck with The Cottage at Glass Beach.

My pleasure!

My Review of The Cottage at Glass Beach

The Cottage at Glass Beach
Heather Barbieri
Harper Collins
320 pages
ISBN 13:9780062107961

As a small girl of five Nora’s life changed forever when her mother disappeared and her father took her away from the only home she ever knew on Burke’s Island and the Cottage at Glass Beach. Now she finds herself running back to avoid the publicity from the scandal that rocked her world and her marriage and to find sanctuary and refuge for her and her two daughters at least for the summer. As Nora reconnects with family and friends from her past she’s also aware that her mother’s ghost is never far away and her being here is stirring up memories long forgotten, she’s also aware the Island hasn’t changed much since those Irish immigrants, with her ancestors aboard first landed with their legends and myths and as she takes her sentimental journey of discovery she feels those myths and legends alive in her bones and on the Island as well. But Nora’s not alone on her Island and as she makes decisions and changed in her life her daughters are making discoveries of their own and some of them could be very costly indeed.

Heather Barbieri took me on a trip of a lifetime with this intuitive, imaginative and beautifully narrated novel. Not only did she give me a family drama but I felt I was in an adult fairy tale as well and in between the power plays of her characters and as her seals barked and her ghosts moaned and her seas crashed into the rocks I was taken away by her words to her world. Her characters were amazing and while some were real flesh and blood she made me wonder if others stepped out of the sea and out of an Irish legend.
The main thing the novel made me want was to see where else this talented storyteller could take me. Thank you Ms. Barbieri for a beautiful journey.
Buy the book here visit the author's website here

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Review of Overseas and Q&A w/author Beatriz Williams

Q&A with Beatriz Williams
Overseas 5-10-2012

Debbie - First thank you for taking the time for answering some questions Beatriz
Beatriz - Thanks for having me!

Overseas is your debut novel, can you tell us a little about it
Overseas is a sweeping love story set in 1916 and 2007, as a dashing First World War infantry officer follows the woman he loves across time to contemporary Manhattan.

Tell us about your path to becoming an author- I love in your bio by the way the description of being a stay at home mom (an at-home producer of small persons)
Well, I'm really fortunate that my chosen career -- the one job I've ever really loved, in fact -- happens to be so perfectly compatible with being a hands-on mother! Like most novelists, I'd always wanted to write books, but I knew that dedicating myself to becoming an author meant facing a landslide of rejection and criticism. It wasn't until I had a bunch of small kids who needed me unreservedly that I found the courage to plunge in. I figured that even if I was a total failure at writing, at least my family still loved me! So I started writing at night, and when the kids were at school or napping. I attended a few writing conferences and wrote a couple of fatally flawed first efforts, and then the idea for Overseas popped into my head one day, and I couldn't stop until I'd gotten it all down. I just knew this was the one.

I know from the description that the novel includes some time-traveling and yet in an interview I read that you dont want that to be the focus.
Could you explain that to the readers here.
I certainly never set out to write a time-travel novel; I always considered myself firmly in the historical fiction camp, and obsessed particularly with the first twenty years of the 20th century and the effect of the First World War on the Edwardian generation. So when this idea appeared in my brain -- a British infantry officer walking the streets of modern Manhattan -- I really didn't know what to do with it. But I loved the idea of this literal clash between two cultures, the world before the calamity of World War I (represented by Julian, the hero) and the world that emerged from its ashes (Kate, the heroine), so I created the time-travel device to realize it, in the same way that the actual existence of impossible creatures (vampires and shape-shifters, for example) is an accepted device of other paranormal worlds. I was always much more interested in the psychological impact of Julian's journey than the mechanics of how it happened.

What genre does Overseas fall in and on that same note, how do you feel about being placed in a certain genre
You know, I don't think Overseas fits comfortably into any one genre; it seems to straddle the shelves! Certainly Kate and Julian share a classically romantic love story, and as a huge fan of the romance genre, I'm happy to slap on that label. But it also breaks a lot of the so-called rules of romance, in terms of length and scope and structure, so I hope readers of general fiction and other genres will find the novel appealing as well.

Whats next for you, are you working on a new novel
I've just finished my next book, which will be out next year from Putnam. It's set in an exclusive Rhode Island summer community seething with secrets and romance, during the summer before the great New England hurricane of 1938. Imagine High Society meets A Perfect Storm.

Do you write fulltime
I do write full time, but I fit it in bits and pieces around my kids' schedules, and in fact do much of my thinking and scene-building while I'm folding mountains of laundry and schlepping the kids to soccer. My youngest started preschool this year, so that helps!

Do you belong to a writers group
I belong to the RWA and a couple of its chapters, and have made so many wonderful friends there. The members are fantastic, always willing to help each other out, a real community of writers.

If there was one thing you wanted readers to get out of Overseas what would it be
Beyond the emotional lift of a good love story, I hope readers gain a better understanding of the distance Western society has traveled in the 20th century. For good or ill, Julian's world, the Downton Abbey world, so firmly rooted in the romantic tradition, is unrecognizable to ours, which is laden with the irony and cynicism forged from the wanton slaughter of the First World War. Before 1914, you could use the word "erection" with a straight face. Afterward, to borrow Philip Larkin: Never such innocence again.

Finally thank you so much for taking the time to answer some questions and good luck with the novel.
Thanks so much for having me!

My Review of "Overseas"

Beatriz Williams
G.P. Putnam’s Son’s
ISBN13: 9780399157646|
464 pages
Beatriz Williams is a brilliant literary genius and as her words brought me from the bloody trenches of France in 1916 to the towers and glass of Manhattan today she transported me body and soul, flung me through the ether to worlds I rarely reach with mere words. Her narrative is a flowing prose filled mix of cultures and eras that kept me hypnotically entranced as she spun her improbable yet believable tale. Her dialogue is a mixed bag of English lords with the graphic and often sordid contemporary speak we’re so used to today. And as much as her words transcended me it was her characters that made me see the scenes through their eyes and their hearts, these miraculous fictional people became so real to me and became friends, rivals, villains and lovers and culminated in an experience that I will not forget. I could feel her extensive historical research shine through and not only in her main body of work but also during her interludes in the past where she shows me a foreign and different time.
This is the best book I’ve read this year and if it doesn’t make the top spot on my best of list in 2012 then the world is really up for some amazing fiction as the year progresses.
Ms Williams it was my immense pleasure to experience this work of amazing literary fiction and I can not wait to see where you take me to on our next journey together.

Is it true that love spans ages, that it’s timeless. It’s a question Kate Wilson Wall Street analyst never asked herself until the fateful day she fell down the rabbit hole, the day Julian Laurence, Hedge Fund creator/billionaire walked into her life. After a rocky beginning at a first attempted personal relationship Julian literally crashes back into her life one night while running in Central Park and after only a very short while Kate is uncomfortable with not only the slightly cosmic feelings she has for Julian but especially his almost preternatural trust in the love he professes to her. It’s not until Julian reveals a secret that Kate feels the rabbit hole shrinking and it forces her to look at a truth that should not be possible that will alter her life even more, a secret that’s unbelievable and yet she has no choice but believe him. It seems Julian Laurence Ashford WWI British war hero and poet did not die on a lonely field in France but found himself falling down his own rabbit hole that brought him straight to the 21st century. Even as Julian peals away the layers of himself to Kate she knows there are things he’s not telling her, things that could lead to disaster, things that could alter the very deep love they’ve only recently found with each other, things that she feels she needs to know.

Buy the book here visit the author's website here

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Review of Mercy Train and Q&A w/Rae Meadows

Q&A with Rae Meadows
Author of Mercy Train

Debbie - Rae, welcome to the B&N General Fiction book club forum
Rae - Hi, Deb. Thanks so much for having me. I’m thrilled to be here.

First to all of you, this novel was first published in March of 2011 under the title Mother’s & Daughters and is now being release in paperback with this new title, so Rae please tell us why this is.
Mercy Train was my original title for the novel, but the hardcover publisher decided on Mothers and Daughters because they felt it would have broader appeal. In the end, I think that title ended up feeling a bit too general. So I was thrilled when St. Martin's/Griffin, the publisher of the paperback edition, agreed to go with Mercy Train, a title that I think better captures the tenor of the book. I love the new cover as well. I had never heard of a book changing titles, so I feel very lucky that my novel is coming out in a form that is more closely aligned with how I envisioned it.  

Please tell us a little about your new title Mercy Train
Mercy Train is a novel of three generations of women—Violet, Iris, and Samantha—whose stories are woven together to span the twentieth century. It’s about love, loss, the secrets we keep from those closest to us, and the legacy of the Orphan Train Movement.

This is your third published novel, tell us about the experience of selling your first novel and are you just as excited now as you were then
I was working as a copywriter when I sold my first novel, and although I didn’t quit my job, I had a newfound sense of possibility and validation. No doubt about it, it was an incredible feeling. And yes, it’s just as exciting to publish this one! Unfortunately novel writing doesn’t get any easier, so each book feels like its own major achievement.

Do you have a background in writing, tell us a little about Rae
I was an Art History major in college, and then I worked for advertising agencies and clothing companies in San Francisco before writing my first story at age twenty-six. From there I took a continuing education class where I met a great teacher and mentor, and then went on to get an MFA. Before having kids I was also a potter, but that pursuit is on hold until there are more hours in a day.

Do you write full time
I’m a full-time mom to a seventeen-month-old and a four-year-old, which means writing gets squeezed in while they are asleep.
Do you belong to a writers group
I don’t currently, though when I lived in Madison, WI—up until a year-and-a-half ago—I belonged to a wonderful group of supportive and insightful women novelists. They were early readers of Mercy Train.

Where do your books sit on the genre shelf and do you like being categorized in a specific genre
I’m not sure I think of myself as writing in a specific genre other than literary fiction, but Mercy Train is part historical, which was new to me. Each novel feels like its own thing, though my next book will be historical fiction again—it takes place during the Dust Bowl of the thirties.

Two of your favorite novels are by favorite authors of mine, Ernest Hemingway and Stuart O’Nan. What do you look for when you choose something to read for yourself
That is a great question and I wish I had a real answer. I like to mix up my reading, old and new, fiction and nonfiction, and my reading list is pretty random. I like the serendipity of reading book to book without a plan. The last bunch of books I read came to me like this. The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides. I was already a big fan of his so I was excited for this one. And it didn’t disappoint. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. My husband is an English teacher and I decided to reread this wonderful novel as he taught it to his class. Girlchild by Tupelo Hassman. My sister reviewed this debut and she knew I would like it. I was wowed by the voice of this book. So Far Away by Meg Mitchell Moore. This is my friend Meg’s wonderful new second novel. American Exodus by Dorothea Lange and Paul Taylor, an out-of-print pictorial from the Depression. Research for my next book.

I’m sure the fans would love to meet you in person do you have any B&N events or signings planned
I don’t have any B&N events planned at the moment, but I love meeting readers—it’s really one of the most gratifying things about publishing a novel. A great way to do this is through book clubs. Invite me! If it’s not local, I’ll gladly Skype in. Or if readers have questions or comments, please email me directly (via my website).

Thank you so much for taking the time let us get to know you a little better and good luck with Mercy Train.
Thank you, Deb. And thanks to everyone who reads and loves books!

 This is the original Title and Cover in HardBack

My review of Mercy Train

Mercy Train
Rae Meadows
St. Martin’s Press/Griffin
ISBN13: 9781250009180
288 pages

Samantha finds herself on a precipice, her role as mother has been her end all but now it’s time to return to her work, but her potter’s wheel remains dust covered as she instead breaks open a seal to mementos discovered from her mother who died two years prior. As she goes through the items both foreign and familiar, she finds things from both her mother Iris and her grandmother Violet which opens a new path of discovery for Sam, a discovery of two women who she should have known deeper, a discovery that could lead to answers of how she copes with life, love and loss, a discovery of why her relationship with her mother was like it was, a discovery of how all of these things could have been molded even before she was born and a mystery she now finds she needs to solve.
Iris is dying of cancer and she’s ready to go. Knowing her daughter is coming to see her off on her final journey is both troubling and comforting because there are things that she’s never revealed, things that she knows she should have told Sam, but then the relationship between she and her own mother was always full of things left unsaid.
Violet finds herself a mostly motherless child on the wild streets of New York City at the turn of the 20th century. Her mother unable to cope with Violet or life itself sends Violet on a train that will change her life. From that ride on the Mercy Train Violet will discover things about herself and the world that both please and worry her, the ride will shape her life and her relationships with others even those who should be closest to her, that ride will shape not only her life but the lives of future generations.

Rae Meadows brought me a poignant look at how the past shapes the future, how nature as well as nurture have as much to do with how we live and look at life as anything does. She brings me a story of three women daughter, mother and grandmother who’s lives reflect that beautifully, she shows how the cycle of secrets change lives and not always for the better and how that cycle can be altered by love and enlightening and looking inside one’s own heart. How one woman can learn from the accomplishments as well as the failures of generations past to better not only her own future but the relationship that will evolve between she and her own daughter. She discloses things historically accurate about the Orphan Trains that traveled with unsuspecting yet hopeful children from NYC to our heartlands.
Mercy Train is a mix of historical and contemporary, literary and women’s fiction with a narrative that took me right inside the pages to the scenes created by the imaginative mind of the author, she acquaints me intimately with her characters and kept me reading through chores and bedtime because I couldn’t not know what happens next. However if you’re looking for that read that answers your every question I’m afraid you won’t get that here as Ms. Meadows leaves certain possibilities open to her audience which of course exhilarates this happy ending lover.
Thank you Ms. Meadows, I can’t wait to see where you take me next.
Buy the book here visit the author's website here

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Interview with the fabulous Marilyn Brant about her newest release A Summer in Europe

Remember the group read starts Monday May 7th

 Interview with Marilyn Brant
author of A Summer in Europe

Deb - Marilyn is no stranger to the General Fiction board, she was with us last year as we discussed her novel Friday Mornings at Nine. So Marilyn, welcome back.
Marilyn -
Deb, it’s always such a thrill to be here. Thanks so much for inviting me for a return visit!
So tell us, Marilyn, as you were researching A Summer in Europe did you go to all of the places in the novel? What was your most memorable place?
While I was writing this novel, I didn’t travel at all, aside from an occasional driving trip to visit my family in Wisconsin. (Since I live in the Chicago suburbs, that wasn’t very far.) However, my husband proposed to me on London Bridge during our first trip abroad together—exactly 20 years ago this spring—which was an incredibly romantic gesture. And, for about 5 years after that, before we became parents and homeowners, the two of us backpacked through Europe during our summer vacations from teaching. We were insatiable travelers during that time, and we visited nearly every site mentioned in the novel. I think I missed only the ruins of Waverley Abbey in Surrey, England and Monet’s Gardens in Giverny, France, which means we need to go back someday to see them both! We had fascinating experiences in every one of the eight countries my heroine and her companions got to visit on their grand European tour—Italy, France, Switzerland, Hungary, Austria, Germany, Belgium and England. For me, those travel days were unforgettable and endlessly inspiring.
As far as my most memorable place…ahh, that’s a hard thing to narrow down. One of my favorite, completely serendipitous experiences was when we were in Budapest, Hungary and were told by a local woman we met at a shop about an operetta that was going to be performed that night. On the spur of the moment, my husband and I decided to buy tickets and attend. It was truly fabulous. I didn’t understand a word of it (!!), but the singers’ passion for music filled the room, and everyone around us seemed to be just as touched by the heartfelt songs as we were. I loved that night so much that I gave a similar evening to my heroine in the story, although she had personal relationship dramas going on around her in addition to all the dazzling musical numbers.
And then there’s Venice, Italy, which is one of my favorite cities in the world. It’s just so breathtakingly unique and timeless. Not everyone loves it, I realize, but I had daydreamed about visiting Venice for at least 15 years before I finally got there. I’d been a little worried when we first arrived that it wouldn’t live up to my fantasy, but that fear was immediately dispelled as our little waterbus sailed down the Grand Canal and into view of St. Marco’s Square. Just thinking about it now makes my heart beat faster! Venice was one of those locations that simply awed me from my very first glance. In fact, if there’s such a thing as “love at first sight” for me, it wouldn’t be with a person, it would be with a place…that one in particular.

You are considered a “Women’s Fiction Author.” Does being put on a genre shelf bother you?
You know, this is an interesting question. My initial response was “No, of course not. I love being a women’s fiction author.” And that’s true. I write stories that feature women as the protagonists, and I deal with coming-of-age situations and major milestones for my characters that many women would—I hope—be able to relate to personally. However, there’s been a great deal of discussion recently about the term itself and if there’s an inherent prejudice or sexist attitude in the use of the phrase. After all, there isn’t a similar label specifically for male writers (i.e., “Men’s Fiction Authors”). So, the categorizing of a group of female writers this way can come across as dismissive, implying that the novels written by “Women’s Fiction Authors” are only suitable for one half of the population. That, of course, I don’t believe is true at all.

Tell us about getting your first novel published, was it a difficult process? Were you an overnight success?
An overnight success?! (*pausing briefly to gasp with laughter*) Oh, I wish!! But I suppose everything is relative. From the long view of a thousand-year epoch, perhaps, one might consider the decade I spent pursuing publication to be merely “overnight,” right? LOL.
Getting my first book contract was a difficult and seemingly never-ending process that took over nine years. According to Jane was the title of that debut novel—but it wasn’t the first book I wrote. Actually, it was the fifth full manuscript I’d completed and, even though it won the Romance Writers of America’s highest award for an unpublished manuscript in 2007 (the Golden Heart® for “Best Mainstream Novel with Strong Romantic Elements”), I still had to seriously revise and restructure it before it was finally accepted for publication. There were a lot of rejections along the way—from agents, editors, contest judges—but rejections and require revisions don’t stop once a writer becomes published, so the necessity of dealing with criticism was an excellent lesson to learn early.
Your writing reminds me of an Impressionist painting, it’s not for a reader who wants to be told step by step what happens to the characters at the end. Is this intentional or is it all in my own mind?
Deb, to me, that’s a huge compliment—thank you!
I’ve written a couple of romantic comedies (On Any Given Sundae and Double Dipping) where the endings are more spelled out, as is customary for the genre. Those were fun stories to write, but the delight in reading a romance is not in wondering how it will end but in enjoying how the characters will get to their happily ever after.
However, with my three women’s fiction books (According to Jane, Friday Mornings at Nine and A Summer in Europe) it was certainly my intention to bring the characters to an interesting, hopeful place at the end of the story and then allow readers to take a few intuitive leaps themselves. I’ve always loved imagining what might happen next for my favorite book characters by other authors. I used to spend hours mentally constructing sequels to their adventures! So, yes, I want to give my readers that same gift of possibility…to bring them along on a journey, let them get to know my characters well enough to see a range of potential outcomes and, then, allow them to choose the one that best fits their worldview and their sentiments. After all, once the book is in a reader’s hands, it’s no longer just my story anymore…
Do you belong to a writer’s group?
Yes. I’ve been a member of Chicago-North RWA since 2002. It’s a part of the 10,000-member strong organization of the Romance Writers of America, but Chicago-North also has a reputation for being a great local critique chapter. I’ve learned so much being a part of it, and some of the people I met there are still my closest friends and best critique partners. Life’s gotten busier for many of us, so I don’t attend meetings as regularly as I used to, but I still meet often with my writing friends. We frequently exchange scenes we’ve written and give each other feedback. Sometimes we’ll get together for a weekend writing retreat or to brainstorm story ideas. Sharing the process with them is both helpful and a lot of fun.
Do you write fulltime?
For now, I do. I spent most of my earliest writing years working elsewhere, though. I was an elementary school teacher when I first started playing around with fiction. After my son was born, I took a leave of absence from the school district and, during my baby’s naps and late into the night, I began drafting my first manuscript. It was an incredibly flawed attempt at a novel, by the way, but I didn’t know that then! I also began writing and publishing poems, educational articles and personal essays in magazines, which were my first writing credits.
I eventually began working part time as a freelance journalist for a regional parenting magazine and, also, as a book reviewer for Romantic Times/RT Book Reviews. Soon after, I added on another part-time job at a public library, which I went to in the evenings or weekends when my husband could be home with our son. But, a few years ago, it got to be too much to juggle. So, for now, I’m just writing novels and some articles, trying to keep the house relatively clean and getting our son (who’s now a teenager—where did the time go?!) to all of the practices and clubs he’s involved with after school.
A Summer in Europe is your third published novel. Do you lose some of the magic of your first release date by number three or are there still butterflies?
There are still butterflies. For me, I think there always will be. Like most authors, I put a lot of heart/soul/thought into my novels, even when my experiences and personality traits are different from those of my main characters. For instance, I was fortunate to have traveled much more extensively in my early life than my heroine Gwen did, but I still got to relive some of my first impressions of Europe through her eyes, and I tried to show her growth as the result of her unusual summer abroad.
Travel, I’ve found, is a stimulating, mind-expanding adventure. So, Gwen’s journey—both literal and figurative—is one I hope will resonate for readers, and there’s a tremendous excitement that comes from the prospect of connecting with readers that way. I’ll always be indebted to novelists I admired for giving me that sense of connection, too. That feeling that someone else out there experienced something similar to whatever I was facing at a given stage in my life, understood its joys or challenges and took the time to express it in fiction.
Of course, whenever you share something creative and personal with the world, anxiety also comes along for the ride. Writers can’t help but hope that what we say has meaning to someone beyond ourselves or our small circle of editors and critique partners, but we’re never certain of that until a reader emails us or writes a review. To hear “Hey, I felt that way before, too,” or “You said something I was feeling but never put into words,” or simply “Your novel made me laugh on a day I needed it,” well, that’s a response that makes the months (or years!) of struggling to write and revise a novel worth it.
Okay now for a fun question, for someone as well traveled as you: What would be your dream vacation?
Ohhh, I love daydreaming about things like this. There are tons of cities in the world I haven’t yet visited that I know I’d find fascinating: Moscow, Dubrovnik, Tokyo, Perth, Cairo—just to name a few. There are other places where the natural beauty is sure to be amazing, such as Alaska, Iceland, Fiji or Tahiti. Believe me, I have a travel wish list that’s five miles long! I’d jump at the chance to take an around-the-world trip and make stops at all of these places and more…
But, my “dream vacation” is actually not about me at all, it’s about my son. What I’d love most is to take him on a classic grand European tour before he goes off to college. I want to show him all of the sites Gwen got to see in A Summer in Europe, plus some others that weren’t in the novel, like the city of Athens, Spain’s Costa del Sol and the fjords of Norway. The time and expense involved makes this idea the stuff of fantasy right now, but getting to share those experiences with him would definitely be a dream come true.

My review of A Summer in Europe
A Summer in Europe
Marilyn Brant
ISBN 13:9780758261519
352 pages

On Gwen Reese’s 30th birthday, it wasn’t the expected gift from her boyfriend Richard (which she didn’t get) but the totally unexpected one from her eccentric aunt Beatrice that turned out to be the life changer for this disciplined and ordered person. Gwen suddenly finds herself the beneficiary of a vacation in Europe complete with scenic and historic sites and in the company of Aunt Bea’s quirky friends and members of her S&M (Sudoku and Math-jongg) club. But something profound happened to this regimented life on this very free spirited journey and as Gwen travels a road she’s unfamiliar with she learns something about herself that was hidden beneath that façade of uniformity, even more surprising is that she’s not the only one on a path of discovery.
Emerson Edwards and his brother, Thoreau, meet the group in Italy and throw a wrench in Gwen’s well-oiled life with their intelligence and their irreverence.
There are consequences that come with discovery and it’s as these two very different roads connect that Gwen will find out if the fear of her past will dictate her future.
This is a brilliant piece of contemporary literature, it’s timeless in its essence. Ms. Brant brings us a rather later that usual coming of age in this story of a woman who’s life has been ruled by loss and fear, then she gives us the hope that this new woman can come out of her chrysalis in tact and ready to take on her whole new world. She does this with her customary prose like dialogue and a narrative that will take your breath away as she takes us through Europe that can vividly be seen in your mind’s eye. Her characters are superstars, every one of them from the 90 year old feisty Zenia to the 15 year old Ani and all the ones in between. But it’s Gwen who shines the brightest, who we will cry with and cry for, who we will root for and scold who we will want for most of all as we see her evolve throughout the novel.  Is it a love story, yes it is, but not just a romance, it’s the love of one’s self, of familial and friend love and of course also that love that makes the world go round, the kind of love that heats the coldest of nights and fills the emptiest of rooms.  
This is your first must read of December and you’ll want to share with the people who mean the most to you, a perfect stocking stuffer and yes it wraps beautifully. It’s also a read that will be enjoyed by multi-generations and both sexes. If this is your first trip with Marilyn Brant I know it won’t be your last.
Thank you Ms. Brant for another exceptional read.
Please join in the group read if you can here is a link to the General Fiction book club forum
The novel also made my 20 best of 2011 list you can see it and the other selections here visit Marilyn's website here

And enjoy some European pictures courtesy of Marilyn and her husband