Monday, 28 November 2011

Interview with Monique Domovitch - Author of Scorpio Rising

Today we hear from Monique Domovitch, author of Scorpio Rising:

1. Tell me a bit about yourself and what made you get into writing.
 Writing is what I’ve wanted to do my entire life, but I kept putting it off for just a little while longer—until my children were self sufficient, until I had a less demanding career, until I could afford to retire. I finally came to the point, at the age of fifty-five, when I decided that if didn’t do this now, I never would. I felt that writing was what I was born to do, and to not do it would be to ignore my reason for being. You know that old question, ‘On your deathbed, what will you regret not doing?’ Well, for me the answer was, writing. So writing wasn’t really a decision so much as a necessity. 

2. How long did it take you to write Scorpio Rising?

I wrote Scorpio Rising years ago, when my children were still young. I would get up at five o’clock in the morning and write until my children got up for school. And then at the end of the day, when they were back in bed, I’d write until midnight or so. I did this in spurts of a few weeks on and then a few weeks off for two years. I remember the night I typed the words ‘The End’. I sat staring at those words and crying for the longest time. Come to think of it, I might have been crying from shear exhaustion. J  

3. Tell us a bit about Scorpio Rising and your inspiration for the book?

Scorpio Rising is the story of two people, both driven by their personal demons, the man’s for wealth and power and the woman’s for love. Their story is told in two books, Scorpio Rising being their early years—their rising years. And yes, the male protagonist is a Scorpio. The inspiration came from all around me. So many of my girlfriends were going through divorces and heartbreak, often after sacrificing their own careers for the betterment of their husband’s. It is such a universal story. 

4. What are your favourite books?

My favourite books…oh, gosh. Every time I am asked that question I give a different answer. I loved The Poisonwood Bible, Kane and Abel, Peyton Place, Gone With The Wind and, yes, Harry Potter. I love books that entertain, that keep me turning the pages, whatever the genre.

5. What do you like to do outside of writing?

Let’s see…outside of writing, I usually think about my last scene, my next scene, my next book, or of taking a break…which I rarely do. No, no, I’m not that bad. I am also a hobby beekeeper. My first hive, in my backyard, produced about forty pounds of honey this fall. We had a honey-harvesting party, after which I had sticky floors for weeks. Next year I hope to have about six hives, but not in the city—in the country. And the harvesting? Outdoors.

6. What are you currently working on?

I am almost finished writing the first of three murder-mysteries I’m contracted to do for Penguin. I write these under a pen name, Carol Ann Martin. After this, I’ll take a couple of days off and then work on finishing a novel I started last January. And then I’ll be jumping into number two for Penguin. I’ve never been so busy and I couldn’t be happier.

Sunday, 27 November 2011

Review of Scorpio Rising by Monique Domovitch

Scorpio Rising is the first novel from debut author Monique Domovitch.

Set in the 1950s it follows the lives of Alex Ivanov and Brigitte Dartois. Coming from a poverty stricken home in Brooklyn, Alex is determined to make something of himself and will work harder than most people to prove this. Brigitte has survived terrible tragedy and an abusive childhood and feels that she constantly has to start her life over and over again.

The novel travels with Alex from Brooklyn to Manhattan and to Paris where Brigitte lives. It is fast paced and there are lots of shocks and surprises lying in wait for the two main characters. Jealousy is a strong theme in this novel and Domovitch expertly portrays the ways in which it can tear people lives apart.

I enjoyed the way that Domovitch has written this novel with chapters alternating between Alex and Brigitte, building up to the point in which they meet.
The cliff-hanger ending really left me in suspense and I am looking forward to reading the sequel to this book; ‘The Sting of the Scorpio’ to find out what happens next.

Thank you Monique for sending me a copy to review and thank you Samantha for including me as part of Chick Lit Plus blog tour.

Monday, 21 November 2011

Review of The Secret of Happy Ever After by Lucy Dillon

The Secret of Happy Ever After is Lucy Dillon's fourth book.

Lucy Dillon is, for me, one of those magical authors whose writing seems to make the outside world disappear. I instantly sunk into this book and loved returning to the world of Longhampton where her previous two novels were set.

The novel has two central characters; book loving step-mother to three girls and one dalmation Anna and local shop owner Michelle. The two meet on Michelle's first day in Longhampton in the dog friendly cafe and instantly strike up a close friendship. Both women are in relationship situations that are anything but straightforward. Anna is trying to be the perfect step mother and wife at the same time as longing for her own baby. Michelle has separated from her husband and seems to be running away from her own family. A shocking revelation at the end of the book really changed my view of Michelle and made her seem a much more vulnerable character than portrayed throughout the early part of the novel.

The setting of a bookshop was one of the biggest selling points for me. It is quite an unusual setting and worked perfectly and just sounded so gorgeous and cozy that I was quite mesmerized by it. Anna runs the bookshop on Michelle’s behalf and turns it into a haven for local book lovers, there is a magical atmosphere as Anna brings the neglected bookshop back to life. Dillon has very cleverly interspersed the novel with references to classic children’s novels and this all made me remember all of the childhood books that I read and now I feel like I want to re-read them again. There are lots of twists and turns in this novel and a good few surprises that will keep you on the edge of your seat.

I love all of Dillon’s novels, the inclusion of dogs is a major selling point but I also love that this is chick lit without all of the pink fluffiness. Dillon writes about real life issues in an easy going way that many readers will be able to relate to. Going back to Longhampton was such a treat for me as a reader and I was pleased to see the inclusion of some of the characters from Dillon’s earlier novels set in the same location. The dogs are just divine and I felt like I wanted to scoop Tavish up and take him home.
I actually think that The Secret of Happy Ever After is my favourite of Dillon’s books so far and I would highly recommend it.

Thank you to Hodder for sending me a copy to review.

Saturday, 12 November 2011

Review of Home for Christmas by Cally Taylor

Home for Christmas is a heart warming tale of one woman’s search for true love – fairytale style.

Beth Prince is twenty four years old, living in Brighton and working at the old fashioned Picture Box cinema. She is in a relationship with Aiden and believes everything to be going well, apart from he hasn’t told he her loves her. In fact, none of the boyfriends she has had have ever said the L word.

The plot is quite fast paced and as well as struggling in the love department, Beth has a pushy mother determined to take her away from her beloved cinema and  set her up as a PA in Australia. When the Picturebox seems to be on the verge of a takeover by a major chain Beth feels that her mother’s dreams must be coming true, unless she can get the managerial position. Using her mothers’ business knowledge and sheer determination she sets off on a recruiting weekend to Wales determined to score top marks, but things don’t quite go to plan.

 Taylor’s writing style draws us straight into the text, especially as the chapters of the book were written in first person but from two perspectives; Matt’s point of view and Beth’s point of view. I really liked this element of the novel and it makes a refreshing change to read a book where the thoughts of two lead characters are equally prominent. I also felt that I knew both of the characters and what was happening in there lives.

Cally Taylor has written a lovely novel, which made me just want to curl up by the fire with a hot chocolate. There are some hilarious moments alongside some very cringe worthy ones where I felt so sorry for Beth. The ending was just fantastic and not quite what I had been expecting. This is the first book that I have read by Cally Taylor and I will now be on the look out for her first novel ‘Heaven Can Wait’. I also fell in love with the cover of this book - what a perfect Christmas present!
If you’re looking for a great read this festive season then look no further than Cally Taylor’s lovely ‘Home for Christmas’.

Thursday, 3 November 2011

Review of Our Eyes Met Over Cantaloupe and Interview with the author Anne McAneny

Our Eyes met over Cantaloupe is an exciting and witty story from Anne McAneny. It follows reporter Millie Morris who is in the process of getting over a bad break up - her boyfriend ran off with the Estate Agent who closed the deal on their first home together. Reeling from this loss, Millie is shocked to receive calls from her ex a year later begging her to meet him. Will Millie choose her ex or the illusive stranger she saw in the supermarket when their eyes met over cantaloupe?

Millie's mum runs a cupcake shop called The Secret Lives of Cupcakes nearby and a shock moment occurs when her ex's new fiancé Laura M Fracas (who I hated!) enters to make an order for her upcoming wedding. Millie pulls herself together and even wants the order, as she knows it will benefit her mum's business.

Millie is the main character in this story and I adored her. However, there are also some fantastic supporting characters with great personalities; my favourites include Betty Boop, Millie’s mum Grace and baker Josh who is hilarious! The characters are really well balanced and don’t still any limelight form Millie.

Overall, I really enjoyed reading Our Eyes Met Over Cantaloupe and I would recommend it to chick lit fans. It is fast paced and will have you laughing out loud in places. It may also leave you with a huge craving for cupcakes, which I had after reading this!

See below for a Guest Interview with Anne McAneny; Author of Our Eyes Met Over Cantaloupe

You can follow Anne McAneny on twitter @AnneMcAneny and visit her blog

Thank you to Samantha at chick Lit Plus Blog Tours for allowing me to take part in Anne McAneny’s blog tour.

Interview with Anne McAneny

1. Tell me a bit about yourself and what made you get into writing
 Well, Sarah, it all started in third grade… Snore! Actually, I started writing screenplays about ten years ago. The minimal descriptions and fun dialogue fit me to a tee, but Hollywood wasn’t exactly stampeding my door so I turned to writing books. I worried at first that I wouldn’t have enough words for a novel, but as it turns out, you’re allowed to repeat some of them.

  1. How long did it take you to write Our Eyes met over cantaloupe?
About 8 months. Not sure if that’s considered long for this genre but I have a tough time turning off the rewriting/editing button. It’s gotten so bad that I can spend an hour editing a STOP sign.

  1. Tell us a bit about Our Eyes Met over Cantaloupe and your inspiration for the book?
Millie Morris narrates OUR EYES MET OVER CANTALOUPE, primarily from the setting of a cupcake shop where she works with her mom, her best friend, her mom’s buddy, and a pastry chef. Millie’s got some old relationship baggage holding her back and it becomes tough to move on when the relationship keeps throwing itself in her face. While Millie dominates the story, all of the characters experience a personal arc. Hopefully, it’s all blended together like a smooth batter with a healthy dollop of humor.
The inspiration for the book came from my friend, Lisa, to whom the book is dedicated. She called last year as I was sifting through ideas.  I said, “Tell me what to write!” She launched right into, “I’ve always wanted to know what happens after people place those ads, you know, the ones where they see each other but don’t quite connect.” I literally replied, “Oh, like, ‘Our eyes met over cantaloupe?’” And that became the core of the story.

  1. What are your favourite books?
My favorite book of all time is A PRAYER FOR OWEN MEANY, by John Irving. Relative to the style of my books, my favorite is GOOD GRIEF, by Lolly Winston. I read it years ago and really connected with Ms. Winston’s writing style. It made me believe I could attempt to write a bit of women’s fiction.

  1. What do you like to do outside of writing?
Whereas many people procrastinate from exercising by doing chores or being productive, I procrastinate from chores and productivity by exercising. Biking, running, hiking, lifting – I don’t care as long as it’s not dusting or laundry! I also love reading and baking, and am a bit of a news junkie.

  1. What are you currently working on?
I started a book similar to CANTALOUPE, involving… wait for it… competing yogurt accounts. Real attention grabber, eh? But I’m also tempted to turn a screenplay of mine into a book. The Hollywood folks consistently liked it but it never got made. It’s an action-filled, funny story with heart and, best of all, the kinks are all worked out. I just need to add another 80,000 words or so!

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Festive Fiction

I love everything to do with Christmas and will be reviewing festive themed books in the run up to Christmas. Most of these will be new releases, but I will include some older books as well.

So far, I have reviewed Carole Matthews' Wrapped up in You and Scarlett Bailey's brilliant debut novel The Night Before Christmas.

Look out for more Christmassy reviews from me and the chance to win prizes in my Christmas Giveaway beginning on the 1st December.