Wednesday, June 30, 2010

June Summary

June Summary 

  1. My Name is Memory by Ann Brashares - read 6/3/2010
  2. Strange Neighbors by Ashlyn Chase - read 6/5/2010 
  3. Don't Look Twice by Andrew Gross - read 6/8/2010
  4. Wayfarer by R.J. Anderson - read 6/8/2010
  5. Sins of the Mother by Victoria Christopher Murray - read 6/10/2010
  6. Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan - read 6/13/2010 
  7. Theodore Boone kid lawyer by John Grisham - read 6/14/2010 
  8. The Last Track by Sam Hilliard - read 6/17/2010 
  9. Heart of the Matter by Emily Giffin - read 6/18/2010
  10. Untouchable by Kate Brian - read 6/19/2010
  11. Confessions by Kate Brian - read 6/19/2010
  12. The Macgregor's Daughter by Dee Julian- read 6/21/2010
  13. The 9th Judgment by James Patterson and Maxine Paetro - read 6/22/2010
  14. The Carrie Diaries by Candace Bushnell - read 6/23/2010
  15. Unspeakable by Laura Griffin - read 6/25/2010
  16. Shattered by Karen Robards - read 6/28/2010 
  17. Perfect Chemistry by Simone Elkeles - read 6/29/2010

Review books:7
Library Books:10
Books from my bookshelf:

All-in-all it's one of my best months this year (only January was better) and the even better thing was it was full of great books.  I've been a little lax on review books, and trying to get through my library stack.  No luck reading anything of my own yet, but that will come.

Favorite of the month:  Perfect Chemistry by Simone Elkeles - I just felt this one so much and I can't wait to read Rules of Attraction.

Progress in Challenges: 
So how was your reading month?

Book Review: The 9th Judgement by James Patterson and Maxine Paetro

The 9th Judgment by James Patterson and Maxine Paetro
Publisher: Little Brown and Company
Publish Date: April 26, 2010
Hardcover, 384 pages

My Review:

First just a little history:  I have read James Patterson since my step-father-in-law told me about a book while I was in college called Along Came a Spider and how great it was.  Well I found that book in the Raleigh library (which I adored) while I was at N.C. State University and I read it.  And then I read the next and the next and found his backlist and stalked the bookstore and library until I got the copy of the newest book.  That was back in the day where he only wrote 1-2 a year and was fairly new to the publishing world.  I knew they were not great literary masterpieces, but they were written well and the suspense and the villians were amazing.  I could not get enough.  I loved Alex Cross.  When Patterson introduced The Women's Murder Club, I was a little slower to jump on the bandwagon, of course I had just had my first child and things were a little busy.  I was taking a reading hiatus for the moment.  But when I finally started the series, I really loved it as well.  So I continue to read James Patterson and his co-authors.  I love that Andrew Gross now writes his own books and look forward to the day Maxine Paetro does hers too, because I think she will be a good writer.  But for now I will be content for her to continue this series and other books with James Patterson.

The 9th Judgment was an edge-of-your seat thrill ride.  Everytime a new curveball was thrown at me I would just stop and think "wow".  This one was more Lindsay than the rest of the crew, but they are all there and there are developments in all of their lives (except for Claire) in this one.  I like the centering on Lindsay - I feel like she is the main character anyway and it was great to see her showcased in this book.  I also like the direction they are taking her as a character, she is becoming more sure of herself in her personal life and I enjoyed that.

The case is gruesome as usual, particularly gruesome for me as a parent, but thankfully the scenes aren't dwelt on too much and I could handle the book just fine.

If you like twists and turns James Patterson style, then The 9th Judgment won't disappoint, and now I eagerly await next year and the 10th installment in this great series.

My  Rating:  4.0/5.0

About the Book:
A young mother and her infant child are ruthlessly gunned down while returning to their car in the garage of a shopping mall. There are no witnesses, and Detective Lindsay Boxer is left with only one shred of evidence: a cryptic message scrawled across the windshield in blood red lipstick.

The same night, the wife of A-list actor Marcus Dowling walks in on a cat burglar who is about to steal millions of dollars worth of precious jewels. In just seconds there is an empty safe, a lifeless body, and another mystery that throws San Francisco into hysteria.

Lindsay spends every waking hour working with her partner Rich--and her desire for him threatens to tear apart both her marriage and the Women's Murder Club. Before Lindsay and her friends can piece together either case, one of the killers forces Lindsay to put her own life on the line--but is it enough to save the city? With unparalleled danger and explosive action, The 9th Judgment is James Patterson at his compelling, unstoppable best!

About the Author:
James Patterson has had more New York Times bestsellers than any other writer, ever, according to Guinness World Records. Since his first novel won the Edgar Award in 1976, James Patterson's books have sold more than 170 million copies. He is the author of the Alex Cross novels, the most popular detective series of the past twenty-five years, including Kiss the Girls and Along Came a Spider. Mr. Patterson also writes the bestselling Women's Murder Club novels, set in San Francisco, and the top-selling New York detective series of all time, featuring Detective Michael Bennett. He writes full-time and lives in Florida with his family.

Maxine Paetro is the author of three novels, two works of nonfiction, and the coauthor of seven books with James Patterson. She lives in New York with her husband. 

James Patterson's website
Maxine Paetro's page at Fantastic Fiction

FTC Information: I checked this book out from my local library for my reading enjoyment.  I have Amazon links on my review pages but I do not make any money from these because of NC laws.  I put them solely for people to check out the books on a retail site.

Waiting on Wednesday - June 30

"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

I love Jennifer Weiner's books and can't wait for this one!

Fly Away Home by Jennifer Weiner
Release: July 13, 2010

Sometimes all you can do is fly away home . . .

When Sylvie Serfer met Richard Woodruff in law school, she had wild curls, wide hips, and lots of opinions. Decades later, Sylvie has remade herself as the ideal politician’s wife—her hair dyed and straightened, her hippie-chick wardrobe replaced by tailored knit suits. At fifty-seven, she ruefully acknowledges that her job is staying twenty pounds thinner than she was in her twenties and tending to her husband, the senator.
Lizzie, the Woodruffs’ younger daughter, is at twenty-four a recovering addict, whose mantra HALT (Hungry? Angry? Lonely? Tired?) helps her keep her life under control. Still, trouble always seems to find her. Her older sister, Diana, an emergency room physician, has everything Lizzie failed to achieve—a husband, a young son, the perfect home—and yet she’s trapped in a loveless marriage. With temptation waiting in one of the ER’s exam rooms, she finds herself craving more.
After Richard’s extramarital affair makes headlines, the three women are drawn into the painful glare of the national spotlight. Once the press conference is over, each is forced to reconsider her life, who she is and who she is meant to be.
Written with an irresistible blend of heartbreak and hilarity, Fly Away Home is an unforgettable story of a mother and two daughters who after a lifetime of distance finally learn to find refuge in one another.
So what are you waiting on this week?

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Author Interview and Giveaway: Ashlyn Chase (Strange Neighbors)

Today I welcome author Ashlyn Chase to My Reading Room.  Ashlyn's new book, Strange Neighbors released earlier this month and I reviewed it here.  It's a fun, light romance that's a perfect summer read.  

Ashlyn has graciously joined us today to answer a few questions and I also have two copies of Strange Neighbors to giveaway.  So join us for the interview and then enter the giveaway.  So without further ado, here is my interview with Ashlyn.

1.      How did you celebrate the first time you found out you would be published?

I was alone. My husband was at work and all my writing friends were at our local conference. Those were the days before Twitter and Facebook and I very nearly internally combusted! LOL. When my hubby got home, he took me out to dinner and we celebrated each new contract that way...for a while. E-book contracts and releases became sort of ‘routine’ for him until I was lucky to get a hug and a ‘yay you.’ Now that I have paperbacks coming out, he’s taking me out to dinner again. Probably because they don’t come out as often, each one is a big deal.

2.      Was it just as exciting to find out Strange Neighbors would be published?

More. This was my ‘breakout’ novel. The first Mass Market paperback with a traditional publisher. Getting that multi-book deal also helped me hire an agent. Now I have professional advice on my career, not just my books.

3.      You have a lot of great humor in Strange Neighbors and I really enjoyed it - does this come naturally to you in life as well as when you write?

It depends on who I’m with. If I’m comfortable and know my humor will be taken in the right spirit, I let it out. If I’m not sure about the company, I may keep it under wraps a little bit.  Some of my comments can be pretty off the wall. You should hear my husband and I watching the news.

4.      Without giving anything away - what is Strange Neighbors about?

It’s a series that takes place in a Boston apartment building—one that tends to attract paranormal residents. Birds of a feather flock together, as they say. Book one is about the Landlord, a professional baseball player who happens to be a shapeshifter. Pardon my blatent self promotion for a moment:

Strange Neighbors
When star pitcher and shapeshifter Jason Falco buys a small apartment building, he sees it not only as an investment but as a place to escape the demands of major league baseball.

That is, until he meets his tenants--a sarcastic unemployed vigilante vampire; a wereraven with a morbid sense of humor; a werewolf thief who sells security systems; and two witches with an owl who work as phone sex actresses. Not to mention a beautiful, all too human nurse. But with all the hooting, howling, and hollering going on, how's an all-American shapeshifter supposed to sweep a girl off her feet?

The book can be found at all major bookstores and online retailers!

Okay, commercial over. You are hereby returned to your previously scheduled interview.

5.      As I read Strange Neighbors, I really was hoping this was going to be a series, is it?

Yup. Book two is finished and awaiting line edits. It stars our werewolf Konrad and Merry’s best friend Roz Wells. And just like the town in New Mexico, she seems to attract weirdness. Book Three is about Vampire Sly and one of the witches. I won’t tell you which one yet. They’re cousins from opposite sides of the Mason-Dixon line. Since both women want him, a mini-civil war breaks out. (Picture magical fights in the hallway.)

6.      Strange Neighbors is full of paranormal creatures of every type, where did you get the idea for Strange Neighbors?

I blame everything on Thalia, the muse of comedy. In truth, I don’t know where my ideas come from. Just my warped imagination, I guess.

7.      I loved Merry and the fact she is own her own for the first time and trying to experience life to the fullest but then she falls in love, and that worries her because she’s not sure she’s ready to settle down.  Do you believe love often happens when we least expect it?

Yes, although I was always ready for it. Ready, willing, and waiting to pounce. I’m what you’d call a cougar. My husband is 13 years younger than I am. Now that he’s prematurly gray and my hair stays “magically” blonde (with the help of L’Oreal) you can’t spot the age difference as easily anymore.

8.      How much research did you do for Strange Neighbors?

Not much was needed. I used to live in the neighborhood I wrote about, in the kind of building I wrote about. I’ve invented my own ‘mythology’ regarding shapeshifters and vampires from past books I’ve written, and I keep those things consistent. The only thing I needed help with was my baseball hero! I’m a faithful football fan.

9.      Do you plan your books out or do you just write and see where it takes you?

I used to write by the seat of my pants, but with a long story, and especially a series of them, I need to plot. Sometimes I’ll just start writing and at about chapter three I’ll stop and decide where I want to go and how to get there. It’s like going for a ride in the country, then saying, “Hey, since I’m heading toward the lake anyway, maybe I’ll just pull out a map and see how easy it is to get there from here.”

10.  Do you get time to read? What are your favorite types of books to read?

I try to read a little every day. My brain usually shuts down in the afternoon and I’ll either do errands or relax with a good romance. I prefer hot to sweet, but if there’s a good story that captures my attention, I’ll wait for the sex scenes. (wink) I look forward to that precious time each day if I’m involved in a really good story. I rarely finish a book in one sitting. If that happens, I neglect my own work and have to chew out the author for writing such a good book.

11.  What is your favorite room in your house?

Interesting question. I like my husband’s office. I know, Weird huh? Maybe it’s because I don’t work there. I visit. It’s plesantly decorated too, thanks to yours truly.

12.  What is your favorite spot to read in?

We have what I call a “puzzle-pit.” It’s 3 oddly shaped microfiber sofas that fit together and make a huge lounging area. It’s filled with pillows and I pile a whole bunch of them together and lean back. A tray sits next to me holding a glass of ice tea or coffee. There’s a reading light right in the corner too. It’s the perfect spot.

13.  What is your favorite snack food?

Mixed nuts. I usually have a can of those on hand. Whether I’m on a low carb diet or not, I can have those.

14.  What is your favorite season?

Summer! I like Spring because it means summer’s coming. Fall makes me sad because it means summer’s gone. Yes, autumn is beautiful here in New England, but with winter being my most hated time of year, it puts a damper on the lengthening nights and cooler days.

15.  Do you have a schedule for writing each day or do you just do it when you can?

I’m usually pretty disciplined. It’s how I get as much done as I do. I get up early with my hubby, and when he leaves for work, I got to my office and answer email. Usually when that’s done, I begin writing. When writers complain to me that they can’t get motivated, I tell them to make it a habit to get in front of the keyboard at the same time of day each day until it feels funny if you don’t. Recently when I was at a conference, I got up early and took my laptop into the bathroom to write so I wouldn’t disturb my roommate. It felt good and ‘right’ to start my day that way.

16.  Where do you do the majority of your writing?

My daughter’s old bedroom became my office. That’s the best thing about the kids leaving home. If you do your job as a parent right, they’ll grow up and leave you an office.

17.  Did you find writing Strange Neighbors to be difficult or did the book just take off with no problems?

It was one of the most frightening experiences of my life! I had signed the contract based on a proposal and three chapters. That meant I had to write the rest on a deadline—with no plot! Eek! I sat in front of my computer each morning and greeted my characters, then said, “So, what are you up to today?” That’s the definition of a character-driven novel.

18.  Any book signings/conferences/public/blog appearances in the near future?

My whole month of June is a blur. Yours is my next to the last blog in a month-long tour of 23 or 24 (I’ve lost count) blog stops. Plus toss in 5 book signings, a conference and a newspaper interview. I called my blog tour the “I Must Be Nuts” blog tour since I saw this insanity coming. It didn’t stop me from doing it to myself though. Never again...until the next book.

19.  Do you have a new book in the works?

I’m working on book three in the Strange Neighbor series. And I’m letting some ideas for future projects simmer on the back burner until I’m finished. My deadline is Sept. 30th, but I should finish before that. I’m starting the third act now. I have an unfinished project for Ellora’s Cave after that. By the time that’s finished, I hope to have plotted out a whole new series. I’ve been discussing a couple of ideas with my agent.

20.  Anything else you would like to say?

Yes, I enjoy chatting with readers and have a yahoo group where we can do that. I’d like to invite anyone interested in joining to check us out.

Thanks so much for agreeing to do an interview with me!

Thanks for the opportunity to meet more readers!


He’s looking for peace, quiet, and a little romance…
There’s never a dull moment when hunky all-star pitcher and shapeshifter Jason Falco invests in an old Boston brownstone apartment building full of supernatural creatures. But when Merry MacKenzie moves into the ground floor apartment, the playboy pitcher decides he might just be done playing the field…

A girl just wants to have fun…
Sexy Jason seems like the perfect fling, but newly independent nurse Merry’s not sure she’s ready to trust him with her heart…especially when the tabloids start trumpeting his playboy lifestyle.

Then pandemonium breaks loose and Merry and Jason will never get it together without a little help from the vampire who lives in the basement and the werewolf from upstairs…

About the Author

A multi-published, award-winning author, Ashlyn Chase specializes in characters who reinvent themselves, having reinvented herself numerous times. Among her many day jobs, she has worked as a psychiatric nurse, run blood drives for the Red Cross, and now uses her degree in behavioral sciences to avoid writing exhaustive character sketches.  She lives with her true-life hero husband in beautiful New Hampshire.  For more information, please visit


Danielle Jackson at Sourcebooks, has kindly allowed me to giveaway 2 copies of Ashlyn's book, Strange Neighbors to two lucky readers who comment.  Simply answer this question and leave me a way to contact you - What is your favorite paranormal being/creature?

Open to US/Canada only.  Additional entries for being a follower (rss, twitter, google friend, networked blogs, etc), tweeting (1 per day), and posting on your blog.  Please comment for each entry.  Giveaway open through July 6, 2010.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Book Review: The Carrie Diaries by Candace Bushnell

The Carrie Diaries by Candace Bushnell
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Publish Date: April 27, 2010
Hardcover, 400 pages

My Review:
Okay, I am going to confess that I have never read Sex and the City by Candace Bushnell, but I have watched the first two seasons of the show.  Having said that, I'm not sure how Carrie really is in the books, but I know I felt that Carrie was very Carrie from the show in The Carrie Diaries, just a younger version.  She is just a fashion conscious, quirky, average high schooler.  I loved the look at her senior year that this book covers and I look forward to further installments in this series.

In this book Carrie is like most middle-of-the-road high school students.  She's smart and funny, has good friends, but she's not in the top clique at school nor does she want to be.  She wants to be true to herself and she wants to have a boyfriend.  I felt like she learned some things about herself in this book, but some of the things were tough to learn.  The book felt very realistic in covering teen issues and was a lot of fun to see the 80s in a young adult book instead of current times.  Maybe that is why I felt I could relate so well.  But I don't think that factor will turn off young adults from reading this book either because the issues covered are typical for teenagers in any generation.  Reading about Carrie just makes it fun.

It was fun to picture a younger Sarah Jessica Parker while I read this book and I could totally see her as this character.  Ms. Bushnell does a great job developing a younger Carrie and showing how things that happen in her high school life will shape her as she grows older.

It moves along quickly and is a highly entertaining read.  I wanted to kick Carrie sometimes, but in the end she comes through, she just has to learn some lessons.  So if you are a Sex and the City fan I think this is a must-read.  If you are not, I think this is a great introduction to Carrie Bradshaw.  All-in-all, this is a highly entertaining book that I read over two days while working out and even people talking loudly near me could not break my concentration while reading this book.  I can't wait for more of younger Carrie.

My Rating:  4.25/5.0

About the Book:
Before Carrie Bradshaw hit the big time in the City, she was a regular girl growing up in the suburbs of Connecticut. How did she turn into one of the most-read social observers of our generation?

The Carrie Diaries opens up in Carrie's senior year of high school. She and her best friends -- Walt, Lali, Maggie, and the Mouse -- are inseparable, amid the sea of Jens, Jocks and Jets. And then Sebastian Kydd comes into the picture. Sebastian is a bad boy-older, intriguing, and unpredictable. Carrie falls into the relationship that she was always supposed to have in high school-until a friend's betrayal makes her question everything. With her high school days coming to a close, Carrie will realize it's finally time to go after everything she ever wanted.

Rabid fans of Sex and the City will love seeing Carrie Bradshaw evolve from a regular girl into a sharp, insightful writer. They'll learn about her family background -- how she found her writing voice, and the indelible impression her early friendships and relationships left on her. We'll see what brings Carrie to her beloved New York City, where the next Carrie Diaries book will take place.

About the Author (from
Candace Bushnell is the critically acclaimed, international best-selling novelist whose first book, Sex and the City, was the basis for the HBO hit series and subsequent blockbuster movie. Her fourth novel, Lipstick Jungle became a popular television series on NBC. Bushnell’s novels include Four Blondes (2000), Trading Up (2003), Lipstick Jungle (2005), and her most recent bestseller, One Fifth Avenue (2008). 

Bushnell grew up in Glastonbury, Ct, and moved to New York City at age 19. She attended Rice University and New York University, and began her professional career at 19 when she wrote a children’s book for Simon & Schuster. 

Throughout her twenties, Bushnell developed her trademark style as a freelancer, writing darkly humorous pieces about women, relationships and dating for Mademoiselle, Self Magazine, and Esquire. In 1990, she wrote a column that would become a precursor for Sex and the City, called "The Human Cartoon", a fictional serial published in Hamptons Magazine. She began writing for the New York Observer in 1993; in November of 1994 she created the column Sex and the City, which ran in the New York Observer for two years. The column was bought as a book in 1995, and sold to HBO as a series in 1996. 

Recently, she hosted a radio show on Sirius Satellite Radio, called Sex, Success, and Sensibility, which aired from October 2006 to October 2008. She is currently at work on two young adult novels, The Carrie Diaries, which will explore the life of Carrie Bradshaw during in her teenage years in New York. 

Through her books and television series, Bushnell’s work has influenced and defined two generations of women. She is the winner of the 2006 Matrix Award for books (other winners include Joan Didion and Amy Tan), and a recipient of the Albert Einstein Spirit of Achievement Award. She currently resides in Manhattan

FTC Information: I checked this book out from my wonderful local library for my reading pleasure.  I have Amazon links on my review pages but I do not make any money from these because of NC laws.  I put them solely for people to check out the books on a retail site.


Book Review: Unspeakable by Laura Griffin

Unspeakable by Laura Griffin
Publisher: Pocket
Publish Date: June 29, 2010
Paperback, 352 pages

My Review:
What an exciting and sexy book.  I loved the interplay between the two main characters from the very beginning and the main storyline was equally exciting.  Unspeakable is a wonderful romantic suspense.

Unspeakable is the second book in the Tracers series, with Untraceable being the first.  I have not read the first one, but will go back and read it now.  I believe they work well as standalone books but I think reading them together gives a little more information in the background of the forensic unit.  However Ms. Griffin does a wonderful job giving some background in the book, so I was never lost, but I don't think it was too much where readers of the first book would be bored.

Wonderfully paced, this book hooked me from the first page.  I honestly didn't see the who the killer was while I was reading it.  Everythime I thought I figured it out, something else came up that took me away from that person.  It was well-thought out and while the crimes were gruesome, the detail was not enough to make the squeamish cringe.

I also enjoyed the character.  Elaina has some issues to work through and you get to know her little by little through the books.  I loved how Ms. Griffin layered her development of Elaina and Troy.  I felt like I got to know them throughout the book and I hope they make an appearance in the third book out this fall, so I can see some more of them.  The romance was also paced well, there is an attraction from the beginning and some tension several times before they take it further, and that sets up the romance storyline well.  It's never smooth sailing for these two and that makes it interesting.

So if you enjoy your romantic suspense, then make sure to check out this series from Laura Griffin.  Untraceable is on it's way to me now, I ordered it from paperbackswap about 1/4 of the way through Unspeakable and I will be in line to get the third book in the series in the fall.

My Rating:  4.5/5.0

About the Book:
Some crimes you don’t want to describe.
Some, you can’t even imagine…

Elaina McCord’s dream of being an FBI profiler is threatened by her very first case.  When she gets a call to investigate a string of murders near a popular Texas beach resort, Elaina comes up with a profile of the killer.  The victims, all young women, were drugged and brutally murdered, then abandoned in desolate marshland; Elaina believes these are only the latest offerings from a serial killer who has been perfecting his art for years, growing bolder and more cunning with each kill.  But local police won’t listen to her theory. 

True-crime writer Troy Stockton uncovers evidence that bolster’s Elaina’s case.  An irresistible playboy with a reputation for doing anything to get a story, Troy is the last person Elaina should trust.  But Troy and the elite team of forensic experts known as the Tracers are her only allies as the case begins turning dangerously personal.  Soon, Troy and Elaina’s unlikely partnership begins turning up leads—and creating sparks.  With the killer getting closer to Elaina, it isn’t just her career that’s on the line—it’s her life.

About the Author:
Laura Griffin started her career in journalism before venturing into the world of writing romantic suspense. Her articles have appeared in numerous newspapers and magazines, and her fiction work has garnered awards from writing competitions throughout the country. Laura currently lives in Austin, where she is working on her next romantic suspense novel. 

Laura's webpage
Sign up for her newsletter and a have a chance to win a signed copy of Unspeakable and a $15 Starbucks gift card.

FTC Information: I received this book from Ayelet Gruenspecht at Pocket Books Publicity (a division of Simon & Schuster) for review.  I have Amazon links on my review pages but I do not make any money from these because of NC laws.  I put them solely for people to check out the books on a retail site.


What are you Reading Monday - June 28

Come post weekly and see what others are reading too just so you can add to your tbr - I always do! For more information see Sheila at One Persons Journey Through a World of Books and join in!

Books Completed Last Week 
    Reading Now:
    • Winter Garden by Kristen Hannah (audiobook) 
    • I Love This Bar by Carolyn Brown (review)
    • The Rule of Nine by Steve Martini (review)
    • Shattered by Karen Robards (library)
    • Next Time I'm Gonna Dance by Linda Rettstatt
    • The Passage by Justin Cronin
    • Amanda Memories by Joel Gecht
    Summary -
    Another good reading week.  I have resumed going to the gym, which means about an hour of dedicated reading time each day while I walk on the treadmill or use the exercise bike.  This has been great for me on two levels - first on improving my health and mood and second the added reading time.  I feel like 6 months after my second surgery that I am finally back on track and have finally begun healing and hopefully will have no further surgeries.

    I didn't do as well with reviews this week, but I offered an author spotlight week, so I didn't want to take away from the authors by posting other reviews.  I'll play catch-up with some library reads this week.

    Please be sure and check out my sidebar for several giveaways I am running that end this week.

    Friday, June 25, 2010

    Author Interview: Linda Rettstatt (author of Next Time I'm Gonna Dance)

    So this is the final day of my author spotlight week and today I bring you Linda Rettstatt, author of Next Time I'm Gonna Dance, a woman's fiction title that is out right now.

    So please join me in learning more about Linda Rettstatt.  I will have a review up for this book early next week.

    How did you celebrate when you found out your first book would be published?

    That's actually a funny story. I was living in Memphis at the time. A friend from Pennsylvania had just flown down for a visit and we were meeting my roommate for dinner at a local pizza restaurant. I stopped by my house on the way from the airport and checked email. There was a contract offer from Wings ePress for my first novel, And the Truth Will Set You Free. Our dinner became a celebration, though we didn't alter the plans. Most people would have gone out for steak and champagne. We still had dinner at CiCi's Pizza Buffet--$3.99 per person for all-you-can-eat. It's become a standing joke now. When I get a contract, I call my friends and order pizza.

    With each additional novel that gets published, does the thrill remain the same?

    Absolutely. Each book is like a new birth. I tend to fall in love with my characters and so each publication is a celebration of their lives.

    You have several books coming out this year, Next Time I’m Gonna Dance came out in January (and in paperback in April), Shooting Into the Sun came out in May, Renting to Own will come out in August and Love, Sam in November.  With all of those books, have you had time for anything but writing? :)

    That explains where the times goes. J I do have a 'regular' job four days a week. But writing is a passion and it energizes me. Most evenings, I'll take a few hours to edit, critique, or write a few scenes. My three-day weekends are dedicated to writing, with an occasional break to tend to housekeeping or to go out with friends. I always tend to work on two or three manuscripts at one time, so it's not unusual for me to finish one first draft and, in a matter of weeks, finish a second manuscript.

    Since I’m reviewing Next Time I’m Gonna Dance next week, let’s discuss that one.  Without giving anything away - what is Next Time I’m Gonna Dance about?

    Emmie Steele has already survived one bout with breast cancer. During her recovery, her husband walked out. Now, two years later, Emmie discovers a lump in her other breast. As Emmie goes through diagnosis, surgery and follow-up treatment, she examines her life and considers regrets. She is surprised that her one regret is that she never learned to dance, and she resolves that, if she is given another chance: Next Time I'm Gonna Dance. Emmie is supported by her four best friends since childhood: Brett, an attorney; Lynn, a teacher and Emmie's sister-in-law; Chris, a nun; and, Polly, the wild child of the group and a writer for a soap opera. These women laugh and cry with Emmie; they push, pull, and carry her through her ordeal. And then there's Sonny who has loved Emmie since high school. Sonny steps in and teaches Emmie to dance--with her feet and with her heart.

    Where did the idea for Next Time I’m Gonna Dance come from?

    Next Time I'm Gonna Dance started with the title. I was thinking about things I've not done in my own life. I'm not much of a dancer, and I joked with my friends that, in my next life, I'm going to come back as a dancer. Well, that started me thinking and asking the 'what if' questions that spark creativity. What if a woman was faced with a potentially life-threatening illness and the one regret she could think of is that she never danced?

    I have a mother who has had breast cancer and is thankfully a 14-year survivor and also a grandmother who survived the disease (and I already have to get  my yearly mammograms due to family history), was this book based on anyone you know personally that has gone through this disease?  (You don’t have to answer this if you don’t want to - I’m just nosy)

    I have known women who have been diagnosed with breast cancer and two women who died from the disease. But when I considered a plot for this book, it wasn't with any particular one of those women in mind. Rather, it was recognizing that breast cancer affects all women, even those of us without family history who are never diagnosed. My hope is that Next Time I'm Gonna Dance will serve as a story of inspiration and hope, and will also encourage women to care for themselves and to support other women who are battling this disease.

    Since this book is about Emmie and her desire to learn to dance, have you taken dance classes?

    Ha, ha. I have a friend who was at one time a dance instructor. Years ago when I said I could not dance (something that made no sense to him since I am a musician), he insisted I could and proceeded to try to teach me. I say 'try'. After a very frustrating hour, he admitted that I was hopeless, saying, "I've never know anyone who couldn't do a simple box step." Simple for him, maybe. Then he said perhaps it was a math problem--I just couldn't count!

    But there are many ways of 'dancing' in life, and I believe we each find our own way. Writing is my dance.

    Crystal:  I think you have made a great point on finding our own dancing in life.

    What made you decide to write women’s fiction?

    I had taken a long hiatus from reading in my young adult years. I was busy about other things, mainly music. But when I picked up a novel by Elizabeth Berg, I fell in love with the story and with characters who seemed so real. I read everything she had written. I had envisioned myself as a writer when in high school, but had neither the self-confidence nor the encouragement to follow through at that time. And at that age, I probably had little to say that would be of interest. After reading Berg and a few other writers, the passion to write was once again stirred in me. I also have a background in clinical social work and worked as a therapist for a time. I heard story after story from women who were depressed or defeated and who had to search inside themselves to summon the strength to change their lives and move forward. I had also been conducting a group for women who were dealing with mid-life issues. When I finally sat down to write, it made sense to meld these two interests.

    Do you plan your books out or do you just write and see where it takes you?

    I'm very much a seat-of-the-pants writer. I generally start with the title or the what-if question and write a story synopsis--very sketchy, though. I've learned to write short character bios because it just makes it easier to keep the character and facts consistent. I love to follow the trail of crumbs the character leaves for me as her story unfolds.

    Do you get time to read? What are your favorite types of books to read?

    I'm a voracious reader. Right now I have a stack of five books lined up for summer reading. Of course, some are women's fiction. But I also enjoy mystery and contemporary romance. In addition to Elizabeth Berg, I love books by Kris Radish, Lisa Scottoline, Janet Evanovich, Elin Hilderbrand, Sherryl Woods, and Susan Elizabeth Phillips, among others.. I just finished reading The Murderer's Daughters by Randy Susan Meyers. It is one of the most beautifully crafted books I've ever read.

    Crystal: I love Elizabeth Burg and a lot of the authors you mentioned - they write wonderful books.
    What is your favorite room in your house? 

    I live in a spacious third-floor apartment. I love my living room with its double-sized arched window overlooking the pool and the woods.

    Crystal:  Sounds gorgeous

    What is your favorite spot to read in?

    I usually read at night before bed, so I tend to read in bed. That is, after my cat goes through her ritual of pacing between me and the book. I have an e-book reader and buy many of my books in electronic format. It's much easier to handle and convenient for travel.

    What is your favorite snack food?

    Having recently modified my diet because my body is rebelling, I have to rule out the usual potato chips, nachos, pizza. But I'm hanging onto my chocolate (preferably dark) for dear life (or death). I am certain that, when I die, the undertaker will have to scrape chocolate off my face.

    Crystal: I fully agree - I cannot live without my dark chocolate - in fact I'm eating some right now.

    What is your favorite season?

    I love autumn. Though it's not as spectacular here in Mississippi as it is in my home state of Pennsylvania, I still enjoy the earthy smells that the season brings, long with the chill in the air that calls for a sweatshirt. I do try to plan a trip up north in late September or October for a view of changing leaves.

    Crystal:  I love autumn as well.  Hubby and I lucked up on our honeymoon to Gatlinburg almost 13 years ago that the peaking of the leaves was late and we got to witness it - it was amazing.  We have pine trees on the coast of NC and they are not nearly as exciting in the fall.

    Do you have a schedule for writing each day or do you just do it when you can?

    I write every minute I can. Sometimes, I can sneak in writing time on my lunch hour. And, as I said, I use my evenings for editing and critiquing or working on a scene. I've been known to work for thirteen hours straight on a Saturday and it's not uncommon for me to start writing in the evening and watch the sun come up. I once wrote a scene for a book while sitting in front of a slot machine.

    Where do you do the majority of your writing?

    On weekends, with my laptop in my recliner. Although I do get a generous amount of vacation time in my job, and I've taken off full weeks this year to do nothing but write. What a luxury.

    Did you find writing Next Time I’m Gonna Dance to be difficult or did the book just take off with no problems?

    The story took off by itself. And Emmie soon became real and that made her character easy to write. The challenging part of writing this book was doing the necessary research. I was concerned about getting as many accurate facts as possible about breast cancer--diagnosis, treatment regimens, side-effects, prognosis. I was blessed by people in the medical arena who were very generous with their time and knowledge. I was equally blessed to have a few women who are breast cancer survivors and were willing to read the manuscript and give me feedback from their experiences. I wanted the story to be genuine and true to not only the physical, but also the emotional, psychological, spiritual and social impact breast cancer has on a woman.

    Any book signings/conferences/public/blog appearances in the near future?

    I just completed a virtual blog book tour. The links are still up on my blog at where readers can follow the links and read the interviews and blog posts. I'm in the process of planning events in the fall to promote Renting to Own, my next release in August from Class Act Books. As I schedule events, they are listed on my website at

    Do you have a new book in the works?

    I have two more books coming out this year: Renting to Own will be out in August from Class Act Books, and Love, Sam is due out in November with Champagne Books. I'm currently working on the third rewrite of a new manuscript titled Unconditional. And I have two other stories in various stages of completion. (I'm never bored, and I never have writer's block.)

    Anything else you would like to say?

    I'd like to thank my readers. Without you a book is just a bunch of words. It's when those words are read and touch the reader's heart that they are given life and meaning. I love to hear from readers, so please do visit my website at and sign the guestbook or email me. You'll find excerpts and reviews of my books there, as well.

    Thanks so much for agreeing to do an interview with me
    Thank you, Crystal, for having me here today. It's been a pleasure.

    Thank you again, and please check out Linda's books', visit her website and stay tuned for my review of Next Time I'm Gonna Dance. 

    Thursday, June 24, 2010

    Author Interview and Giveaway: Carolyn Brown (author of I Love This Bar)

    Welcome to Day 4 of my author spotlight week.  Today's spotlight is on Sourcebooks author, Carolyn Brown, whose first book in her new Honky Tonk trilogy, I Love This Bar, released earlier this month.  There will also be a giveaway so stay tuned for more information at the bottom of  this post.  In the meantime, please join me in welcoming Carolyn Brown to My Reading Room.

    1. How did you celebrate the first time you found out you would be published?

    First thing I did was stop breathing; second was to remind myself to breath; third was to call my husband who was visiting his folks in PA and begin to stutter. After that it was dancing around in the living room and eating all the fat grams and calories I wanted the rest of the day!

    2. Was it just as exciting to find out your Honky Tonk series, starting with I Love This Bar would be published?

    Yes, ma’am. I’ve sold 55 books and it is just as exciting with every contract and every book. And just as thrilling when I get a box of author’s copies in the mail and see the real book in print. I even get all excited when I get one in a foreign language and I can’t read a word of it.

    3. The titles for your Honky Tonk series are great, and definitely make me interested in the series (I Love This Bar, Hell, Yeah, My Give a Damn's is Busted and Honky Tonk Christmas), did you name them?  If so (or not) how did the names come about?

    Actually, my editor, Deb Werksman, and her staff had a big hand in helping me with the titles. I had something different in mind but Deb said she wanted to title the first one, I Love This Bar, and I loved it. From there it was on to three other country music tunes that played a big part in each book.

    4. Without giving anything away - what is I Love This Bar about?

    I Love This Bar is about Daisy who has been the bartender/bar owner/vet-tech enough years to have seen all of the folks mentioned in the song and her love for the bar runs deeper than just liking her job. She has absolutely no notions of changing one bit of her life until Jarod swaggers into the Honky Tonk in his tight fittin’ jeans, ten gallon hat, boots and enough sex appeal to give her a case of acute hot flashes.

    It doesn’t help that they collide in the middle of the dance floor and the fall puts him right on top of Daisy. It’s set in the Honky Tonk, an old weathered-wood saloon in Mingus, Texas. If the walls could talk they could tell tales that would put a whole new slant on the history in Palo Pinto County. It’s been there the better part of half a century and like Toby Keith says in his song, “I Love This Bar,” its has a quirky cast of losers, boozers, yuppies, blue collar boys, rednecks, dancing girls and hookers, a big bouncer man and dumb-asses.

    5. Where did the idea for the Honky Tonk series come from?

    When my husband was in college his best friend lived with us for a while. He used to frequent an old honky tonk over in south central Oklahoma called Ma Honey’s and would entertain us for hours after he’d been over there. I’d always wanted to write a series about that old saloon. Of course, all the characters are entirely fictional!

    6. Ah dry counties - I'm so glad I don't live in one - but it makes an interesting back drop to have the bar serve a wet and a dry county - how did this idea come about for you?

    I’m not sure. I think Daisy told me about it when she took up residence in my head and demanded that I write her story. And then she introduced me to her cousin, Cathy, and there was the basis for Hell, Yeah. Cathy made a new friend named Larissa and her story is in My Give A Damn’s Busted, and then she hired Sharlene and Honky Tonk Christmas is her story.

    7. How much research did you do for I Love This Bar?

    I always visit the area that I plan to write about so we were in Mingus several times while I wrote the series. We ate at the Smokestack and prowled around the area. There are some really nice, friendly people down there.

    8. Do you plan your books out or do you just write and see where it takes you?

    Both. I plan and plan and then the characters take over and tell me what I’m going to write. Shhh. Don’t tell anyone that I have voices in my head!

    9. Do you get time to read? What are your favorite types of books to read?

    Reading has been a passion since I was old enough to figure out how much fun it is. I’m an eclectic reader who’ll read anything from the back of the Frosted Shredded Wheat Box to Leon Uris and love it all. I love anything that touches my emotions. We almost had a wake at our house when LaVyrle Spenser retired.

    10. What is your favorite room in your house?

    My office. It’s where I write!

    11. What is your favorite spot to read in?

    I’ll read anywhere. Standing at the kitchen bar while the brownies cook. Sitting in one of the Adirondack chairs my husband built for me out in the back yard. In the bathtub with bubbles up to my … well, as high as they can get without getting the book wet. Propped up in bed with pillows all around me.

    12. What is your favorite snack food?

    Oh, my, that’s entering a whole ‘nuther field. I like donuts, popcorn, potato chips … how much room do we have for this interview!

    13. What is your favorite season?

    Spring. I love new flowers and new leaves on the trees and baby kittens in the back yard.

    15. Do you have a schedule for writing each day or do you just do it when you can?

    I write every day, five or six days a week. When characters are in my mind sometimes they won’t shut up until I get a scene finished. On those occasions Husband eats fast food, ignores the dust bunnies under the bed and has been known to wash dishes.

    16. Where do you do the majority of your writing?

    I have an office in my house and that’s where I write most of the time. I have been known to write on the lap top while riding down the road!

    17. Did you find writing I Love This Bar to be difficult or did the book just take off with no problems?

    Daisy was a delight and so was Jason! They were pretty adamant that I get their story straight. Sometimes they argued with me and I had to rewrite their story to get it right.

    18. Any book signings/conferences/public/blog appearances in the near future?

    Yes, I’ll be signing books at the Literacy Signing in Orlando, Florida at the RWA Conference at the end of July. Then on August 7 I have a signing at Full Circle Books in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma and on August 14 at Barnes and Noble in Oklahoma City. And hopefully, I’ll do a blog tour in August for the promotion of Hell, Yeah. I Love This Bar will be available at all the book signings as well.

    19. Do you have a new book in the works?

    Always! I’m working on another cowboy series for Sourcebooks which will debut in the spring of 2011. I’m really excited about them. They’re set right on the border of Oklahoma and Texas and are about strong, sassy women and hunky, sexy cowboys.

    Anything else you would like to say?

    Yes, I’d like to thank you for letting me stop by here on my blog tour. Tell me, after reading I Love This Bar and that teaser at the back for Hell, Yeah, would you go out and buy a pair of cowboy boots?

    Yes Carolyn, I think I just might :) 

    Thank you Carolyn for agreeing to the interview.  I'm in the middle of I Love this Bar and Jarod is absolutely yummy :)

    She doesn’t need anything but her bar…
    Daisy O’Dell has her hands full with hotheads and thirsty ranchers until the day one damn fine cowboy walks in and throws her whole life into turmoil…

    He’s looking for a cold drink and a moment’s peace…
    Instead, Jarod McElroy, finds one red hot woman. She’s just what he needs, if only he can convince her to come out from behind that bar, and come home with him…

    About the Author
    Carolyn Brown is an award-winning author who has published 36 historical and western romance novels for the library market, many of them bestsellers in that market. Born in Texas and raised in southern Oklahoma, Carolyn and her husband now make their home in the town of Davis, Oklahoma. For more information, please visit


    Danielle Jackson at Sourcebooks, has kindly allowed me to giveaway 2 copies of Carolyn's I Love This Bar to two lucky readers who comment.  Simple answer this question (inspired by Carolyn's question above): do you own a pair of cowboy boots and if not, would you be open to buying a pair?  Open to US/Canada only.  Additional entries for being a follower (rss, twitter, google friend, networked blogs, etc), tweeting (1 per day), and posting on your blog.  Please comment for each entry.  Giveaway open through July 1, 2010.