Jul 022013
 

special guest blue

the lemon orchard

I am thrilled to have Luanne stop by today for a little interview!

Picture courtesy of Penguin Publishing

Picture courtesy of Penguin Publishing

1. This novel is very much a love story between two people from completely different worlds – Julia is an affluent American living in Malibu and Roberto is Mexican, living in California illegally. What inspired you to create such a unique relationship? How were these characters able to overcome their differences?

Roberto is inspired by someone I know. Both characters have lost daughters. No matter how different the external facts of their lives may be, inside their feelings of grief and desire are the same. They drop the labels and connect as human beings.

2. The Lemon Orchard is set in the beautiful Santa Monica mountains of Malibu, where you live now. What is it about this landscape that inspired you to set your novel there?

After a lifetime of living on the east coast I found myself moving to California. This surprised me and everyone I know. But I’d been in the city for too long and craved the ocean, mountains, nature. I have a lemon tree in my yard, and the air smells of salt and coastal sage. That one lemon tree became an orchard in my imagination.

3. I have read that during the writing of The Lemon Orchard you were inspired by music. Can you tell us a bit about the music that inspired you?

I listened to a lot of Mexican and Irish music, and songs about immigration. The music put me in touch with my Irish roots, and reminded me of the immigrants in my own family. I listened to the albums San Patricio by Ry Cooder and the Chieftains, The Ghost of Tom Joad by Bruce Springsteen, and The Crossing by Tim O’Brien. The friend who inspired Roberto played me love songs by Juan Gabriel. I asked friends for favorite music about immigration and Becky suggested Americano by Lady Gaga and Orphan Train by Alison Moorer. You can listen to the whole playlist at Spotify: http://spoti.fi/11GRucd

4. When you get the chance to curl up with a book what type of book would we find you reading? Do you have a favorite author?

A few books I’ve been reading lately are Sparta by Roxana Robinson, The Forest Unseen: A Year’s Watch in Nature by David George Haskell, The Long Shore by Jane Hollister Wheelwright and Lynda Wheelwright Schmidt, and Rockall by Amelia Onorato.

5. If money was no object and you could escape to anywhere in the world to write where would you go and what do you think the book would be about?

I’d go to the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and touch that fragile environment, then to Laguna San Ignacio where California gray whales migrate each winter, then to the little town near Puebla, Mexico, where “Roberto” is from and I’d see the volcanos Popocatepetl and Iztacciihuatl from the fields where he worked, then to Zimbabwe to see where a young friend was born and lived till she was 10. As for what the book would be about…I’ll tell you when I get back!

Thank you Luanne for letting us see about the author
behind the pages of this wonderful story!

the lemon orchard

The Lemon Orchard
Pamela Dorman Books
Viking (July 2, 2013)
Published by the Penguin Group
Contemporary Fiction
Hardcover: 304 Pages
ISBN-13 978-0670025275
E-Book File Size: 637 KB
ASIN: B00AEBESK8
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In the five years since Julia last visited her aunt and uncle’s home in Malibu, her life has been turned upside down by her daughter’s death. She expects to find nothing more than peace and solitude as she house-sits with only her dog, Bonnie, for company. But she finds herself drawn to the handsome man who oversees the lemon orchard. Roberto expertly tends the trees, using the money to support his extended Mexican family. What connection could these two people share? The answer comes as Roberto reveals the heartbreaking story of his own loss—a pain Julia knows all too well, but for one striking difference: Roberto’s daughter was lost but never found. And despite the odds he cannot bear to give up hope.

Dollycas’s Thoughts
What a moving story! Two people brought together through fate only to realize how much they have in common and how they can rescue each other from the fragmented lives they are living.

Luanne Rice describes time, place and circumstances so perfectly that our minds can see in detail each cacti needle, grain of sand, and tear shed. I felt like I was there or at the very least watching a movie instead of reading a book. I was thirsty just reading Roberto and Rosa’s long journey through the desert and could smell the fires that were burning in the canyon.

The Lemon Orchard is a multifaceted story and very timely with a focus on immigration and what people do to provide the best lives possible for their family. Interwoven are losses of both Julia and Roberto with just a thread of hope. Their friendship turns romantic at the perfect pace. 

I reached the last page way too quickly and can only hope and pray that some time in the future Rice will bless us with a sequel.

This is a book that should be on everyone’s summer reading lists.  An entertaining story that will make a lasting impression on everyone that reads it. 

a perfect escape

5 STARFISH

Dollycas

Your Escape With A Good Book Travel Agent

To find out more about Luanne Rice visit here webpage here.
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Would you like to win a copy of this wonderful book?

Thanks to the people at Penguin
I have 2 copies to giveaway!!

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CLICK HERE FOR ENTRY FORM

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. Receiving a complimentary copy in no way reflected my review of this book. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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May 242013
 
I selected this post to be featured on Blog Nation. Please visit the site and vote for my blog!

special guest blue
beth hoffman

 

Beth Hoffman’s first novel, Saving CeeCee Honeycutt, was a New York Times Bestseller both in hardcover and paperback. I am positive her 2nd one, Looking for Me, will make that list too. The American Booksellers Association has named it to The June 2013 Indie Next List.

I am thrilled to post a little Q & A session with this wonderful author.

saving ceceLFM

1.) After the success of Saving CeeCee Honeycutt, how did you come up with the idea for Looking for Me?

When I finished touring with CeeCee, I had no idea what I would write. The characters had become so real to me that I felt guilty abandoning them to craft a different story. I especially had a hard time not continuing on with Oletta. For several months I shut down all thoughts about writing.

One day I sat at my desk and began going through stacks of old photographs. The more I sorted, the more I thought about my family and my childhood on the farm—how simple and uncomplicated life was, how much I missed the big old barn and the woodlands that backed up to the fields. I stared out the window and spent a good deal of time reliving those days, and while I was caught up in the nostalgia, something flashed in my periphery. I turned to see a red-tailed hawk land on a tree branch. I watched the morning light glaze across his pale chest, and how, just before he settled, he spread his rusty-red tail feathers to reveal the full spectrum of his regalia. I got a bit teary at the beauty of him, and then …WHAM! I had the beginning of my story.

2.) You always write so beautifully about your novels’ settings, making the reader feel like they’re being transported to another place. With Looking for Me, did you decide on the location of the novel—Charleston—first, or did that come later? Did you spend a lot of time there?

I write about places I love, places to which I feel a deep connection. I wanted would write about a farm family, and when the character of Teddi took form and she fell in love with the process of antique restoration, I knew Charleston was where she would ultimately end up. I’ve spent a great deal of time in Charleston and feel incredibly comfortable there. In many ways it’s like a second home to me. Plus, with Charleston’s history of antiques shops and gorgeous architecture, it was the ideal juxtaposition to Teddi’s life on the farm.

3.) You write very personally about the novel’s other main setting, the Overman farm in Kentucky. Being a Kentuckian yourself, do you have a strong connection to Red River Gorge?

The Overman farm comes from my roots and my heart. Nothing makes me happier or causes a flood of memories like setting my feet on farmland. I chose the location of Red River Gorge as the backdrop to the farm for many reasons—its mystery and power are palpable, and it’s so stunning that no matter how many times I’m there, I’m always awestruck. Known for its incredible rock formations, dense forests, waterfalls and wildlife, Red River Gorge was the perfect place for the character of Josh to be swept into the romance of the wild. Paleo-Indians thrived there, and it holds a treasure trove of petroglyphs. Every time I ride the gondola up to Natural Bridge and stand on that massive, nine hundred ton sandstone bridge, I feel connected to something far beyond my comprehension. Over 70 million years of changing weather has sculpted Red River Gorge into a place as magical as it is eerie.

4.) Looking for Me touches on the power of objects—through them we remember our past and face our future—what are some objects that have held meaning for you in your own life? Do you think it’s important to hold onto the things of our past?

By nature I’m a neat-nut and about as opposite to a hoarder as anyone could be, so I’m not inclined to keep things unless they truly have strong meaning to me. I do think it’s wise to keep things that hold memories like family heirlooms, books, photographs and letters, but there’s a fine line between keeping what is precious or sentimental, and overloading my basement and attic with stuff.

5.) The characters in Looking for Me seem as real as neighbors that live next door—what do you draw on when writing characters? How much do you borrow from real life? Do you model your characters on people you know?

The characters in my novels arrive in my imagination fully realized. Not only do I see them and hear them, but I also get a strong sense of their spirit. While a few characters might have small similarities to people I’ve known, the majority of them have come to me as the story unfolds. More often than not, I meet them just as my readers meet them. It’s a fascinating process.

6.) Birds and feathers play an important role in this story—where did your interest in birds come from, and what do they symbolize in your work?

Nature, animals and birds have enthralled me for all my life. My parents and grandparents had a deep respect for nature and all her creatures, and from a very early age I was taught to be gentle and kind. One of my first memories is of standing in the vegetable garden with my grandma and having her show me how to gently lift a toad and move him out of the way of the strawberry wagon. By the time I was five, I could name nearly every bird that visited our farm, not only by sight, but also by their songs. I viewed birds as beautiful messengers, and as a teen, I loved reading Native American folklore, which is rich with stories about birds and their spirits.

7.) This is your second novel—what advice do you have for writers and novelists just starting out? How did you find your own voice as a novelist?

Captivating storytelling is a gift—good writing is an art. By understanding how to combine those elements, a writer can save themselves from a whole lot of headaches. There are many books that can help a writer hone their talent, but voice comes from a deep place and cannot be discovered without having an inner ear. I say inner ear because writers must hear their voice come alive and rise from the page, and it must always ring true. Being a good listener helps a writer find his/her voice. By tuning our inner ear to catch voice inflections, mood, and the many subtleties of dialect, our own writing voice is strengthened. I believe the best way for a writer to know if they’ve found their unique voice is for them read aloud something they’ve written. Voice is a complex thing to achieve, but once a writer hears it, they’ll know that they’ve just captured the most illusive butterfly of all.

To find out more about Beth Hoffman visit her web page here.
You can also find her on :
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LFM

Looking for Me
Contemporary Fiction
A Pamela Dorman Book
Viking (May 28, 2013)
Published by The Penguin Group
Hardcover: 368 pages
ISBN-13: 978-0670025831
E-Book File Size: 661 KB
ASIN: B00AFPVNQ0

Teddi dragged home her first antique before she even reached her teens. With the help of her grandmother she fixed up that chair and her passion for making old things new again was born. With a little help from her father she is able to leave Kentucky after high school and head to South Carolina and eventually becomes the owner of her very own antique store.

She builds a life for herself there but she keeps being drawn back to her home in Kentucky. Her little brother disappeared into thin air several years ago when he was just 17. He was a very special young man with a very special gift. He had such a natural way with animals, especially birds, and a true passion for saving them along with their habitats. If he wouldn’t have disappeared Teddi was sure he would have been a Park Ranger.

When signs emerge that her brother may still be alive she returns home again and tries to come to grips with what she learns about her shattered family. She may even find herself after all these years.

Dollycas’s Thoughts
Beth Hoffman is a gifted storyteller. She takes us on Teddi’s life long journey where she yearns to find her brother but in truth is looking for herself.

These characters jump off the page and write into your heart. While Teddi is the main character the supporting characters are rich and superbly written as well. I have to be careful not to give too much away so I will say each and every character is multifaceted and the reader is allowed to peel back the layers as the story evolves. Hoffman moves back and forth between present and past effortlessly.

Teddi’s brother, Josh, collected bird feathers which he studied extensively. Different wings mean different things. Josh would give feathers to Teddi and as she was packing for South Carolina she opened a drawer and found a feather with a note that said:

“From the highest branch he watches and waits.
The horned owl keeps secrets.”

These little bits of wisdom and feather folklore are a thread that continues through the entire story. Some are quite profound and thought provoking. A few really struck me as relevant not only to the story but my own life.  

This is a story about family and friendship,  love and  loss, hope and dreams. It is also about the choices made during our lifetimes and how we deal with life’s up and downs. Not only did Teddi find herself, I also found a bit more about myself in these pages. Be warned you may shed a few tears but you will also be sharing a few smiles as well.

A wonderful heartwarming and inspiring story. Definitely one of the best I have read this year. 10 Starfish!!

a perfect escape

5 STARFISH5 STARFISH

 

Dollycas

Your Escape With A Good Book Travel Agent

Thanks to the people at Penguin
I have 2 copies to giveaway!!

1 Direct From The Publisher (U.S. Only)
and
My Gently Read Review Copy. (U.S. and Canada)

You do not have to be a follower to enter but I hope you will find
something you like here and become a follower.

Followers Will Receive 2 Bonus Entries For Each Way They Follow.
Plus 2 Bonus Entries For Liking My Facebook Fan Page.

If you publicize the giveaway on Twitter or Facebook or anywhere you will receive
5 Bonus Entries For Each Link.

Contest Will End June 7, 2013 at 11:59 PM CST
Winners Will Be Chosen By Random.org
Winners Will Be Notified By Email
and Will Be Posted Here In The Sidebar.

CLICK HERE FOR ENTRY FORM

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. Receiving a complimentary copy in no way reflected my review of this book. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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Apr 112013
 

Tuesdays Gone

Tuesday’s Gone:
A Frieda Klein Novel

2nd in Series
Psychological Thriller
Pamela Dorman Books (April 4, 2013)
Viking
Published by The Penguin Group
Hardcover: 384 pages
ISBN-13: 978-0670025671
E-Book File Size: 813 KB
ASIN: B008EKOO0A

Tuesday's Gone: A Frieda Klein Novel

In this follow up to Blue Monday psychotherapist Frieda Klein returns to help Chief Inspector Karlsson. A London social worker making a routine home visit discovers her client serving tea to a naked decomposing corpse. Frieda is asked to help identify the man and what she finds is a complex web of lies and half truths that all eventually seem to connect back to her.

Dollycas’s Thoughts

As I have come to expect from Nicci French this story is a complex puzzle with dynamic characters and ongoing tension just beneath the surface.

There is so much happening in this story. More layers are pealed away as we get to know more about our protagonist, Frieda Klein. She seems to keep making headlines as a book is released about a former case and Frieda is portrayed in a very poor light. All the officers involved in the current case are not happy to have her consulting as she believes there is much more to the case than meets the eye. She is also very conflicted about the course of her personal life as a new man appears to be interested but she hasn’t dealt with her feeling for a former love that moved away.

Michelle Doyce has been placed in a mental institution but Frieda was able to determine the identity of her guest for tea. But “Robert Poole” seems to be a con man who had ran scams on several people including a nice elderly woman. She was lonely after losing her husband and her sons only visited when they needed something, like her money. She was the perfect choice for a man like “Bob”.  Bob turns out to be quite an enigma.

Josef and Reuben also return in this installment. Josef has returned from Kiev with an enormous weight upon his shoulders and both Frieda and Reuben are both trying to be supportive.

As I said the whole story is a complex puzzle and not everything falls into place before that last page. I found myself reading this story very slowly to catch every nuance and clue and I am still not sure I caught them all. It is best to read these books in order because they do build off of each other. Then you will be like me. impatiently Waiting for Wednesday.

just you and a friend 4 STARFISH

Dollycas

Your Escape With A Good Book Travel Agent

To find out more about Nicci French check out this website.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. Receiving a complimentary copy in no way reflected my review of this book. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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Jun 012012
 

 

Little Night: A Novel
Pamela Dorman Books
Viking
Published by The Penguin Group
Release Date: June 5, 2012

How far would you go to protect your sister? What if you do protect you sister and she tells lies that don’t backup your story?

That’s exactly what happened to Clare Burke. She tried to help Anne leave the husband that was abusing her and ended up being charged with assault. The verdict largely hinged on her sister’s defense of her spouse. She stuck with her abusive husband and her testimony was all lies. Clare ended up in prison.

Even after she was released the sisters remained estranged. Her sister has moved to Denmark where her husband was born and raised. Clare is living in Manhattan, writing her blog about the birds of Central Park. A very quiet life compared to her life before. Her relationship with fellow birder Paul has been sorely tested over the years and they have not been able to reconcile. They have tried to remain friends.

Almost twenty years after the incident that sent her to jail Clare is surprised when her niece, Grit, shows up on her doorstep. Grit has always wanted a relationship with her aunt. She knew the kind of man her father was and she remembered how Clare tried to help. As they work hard to develop that relationship they must face the wounds inflicted upon them by Anne as she stayed by her husband’s side. Healing is difficult for both of them but together they hope they can get by the physical and emotional scars left from the pain they have both suffered. They still hold out hope that Anne will her leave husband and return to her family and friends who really love her.

Dollycas’s Thoughts
Written in true Luanne Rice style we are taken inside a very complex family situation that has us reeling. The physical and emotion abuse that splits Anne off from her own family is tragic and when it continues on to her own son and daughter is even more disturbing. Tempered by her wonderful descriptions of nature, the birds and the bogs we are given a bit of a rest from the extreme family drama. Rice is an expert of creating the ebbs and flows necessary for a story as powerful as this one. I have never been to Central Park but after reading this book I almost feel like I have.

We received a sneak peek at these characters in How We Started that was released for Kindle on May 1. The story of how Clare and Paul met was perfect before delving into this story that was so heartbreaking. In a split second Clare and Paul’s lives changed forever. She pushes him away when she is in prison and tells him to get on with his life. Even when released her heart is so closed off she is afraid to let anyone in. The arrival of Grit helps her start the healing process and her niece tries to move forward as well. 

This is the 30th novel from Luanne Rice. It is fresh and original and just plain outstanding. Another one for the keeper shelf because  you will definitely want to read it more than once.

Dollycas

Your Escape With A Good Book Travel Agent

Central Park from Rockefeller Center

Thanks to the people at Viking I have another brand new copy of

and a brand new paperback copy of

The Silver Boat: A Novel

to giveaway!!

U.S. and CANADIAN RESIDENTS
You do not have to be a follower to enter but I hope you will find
something you like here and become a follower.

Followers Will Receive 2 Bonus Entries For Each Way They Follow.
Plus 2 Bonus Entries For Liking My Facebook Fan Page.

If you publicize the giveaway anywhere you will receive
5 Bonus Entries For Each Link.

Contest Will End June 15, 2012 at 11:59 PM CST
Winners Will Be Chosen By Random.org
Winners Will Be Notified By Email
and Will Be Posted Here.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. Receiving a complimentary copy in no way reflected my review of this book. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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Mar 132012
 

Blue Monday: A Novel
Pamela Dorman Books
VIKING
New Series
Available Now

Frieda Klein believes the world is out of control and the only thing we can control is what is inside our own heads. Yes, she is a psychotherapist. A very obsessive compulsive one at that. She spends her free time walking the streets of London to clear her head and get her thoughts in order.

Frieda has a patient that keeps having recurring dreams for a child that looks just like him. He and his wife have been unable to conceive and it has tormented him so that he is very near a mental break. When she learns of the disappearance of 5 year old Matthew Farraday and sees his resemblance to the child her patient has described he feels she must notify someone is charge of the investigation. She never imagined she would be working with the chief investigator to find the boy.

Dollycas’s Thoughts
It is very important to lay out a really good foundation when starting a new mystery series and these authors (Nicci Gerrard + Sean French) have done an excellent job. Revealing enough about the primary characters to immerse us in the current story but leaving us intrigued about where these characters will go and grow in future installments.

Frieda Klein is a perfect imperfect protagonist. She already has many layers. Reuben is a troubled soul that continues to emerge. Josef is a mystery himself and because of his background adds a little humor to a very intense story. Inspector Karlsson is a tough nut to crack but we can see a relationship with Frieda moving forward. The primary character to this story, Alan, was very well written as he struggled through his pain and dealt with a therapist he thought had betrayed him and had secrets revealed about his life that he never could have fathomed. All the characters are flawed which gives them so much depth.

The mystery is extremely complex and suspenseful. A few white knuckle moments. These are experienced authors with several other bestsellers. They know how to create a thrilling tale to keep us turning those pages. It starts slow and builds. I am anxious to see where the next Frieda Klein story takes us.


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Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. Receiving a complimentary copy in no way reflected my review of this book. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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Feb 172012
 

The Darlings: A Novel
VIKING
Pamela Dorman Books
Published by The Penguin Group
Available Today!

Paul Ross marries the love of his life Merrill Darling, daughter of billionaire financier Carter Darling. Just as he starts to get comfortable living life in all the luxury the Darlings are famous for he loses his job. Carter Darling offers him a job as General Counsel at his hedge fund business. Paul warily accepts the position since the country is in the worst financial position since the great depression and jobs are scarce.

He barely settles into his new job and a tragic event lands the Darlings into the middle of major of a scandal so great Paul has to make some really tough decisions. Does he stand with his family or betray the ones he loves to save himself?

Dollycas’s Thoughts
Cristina Alger’s debut takes on a current hot topic with the arrest of Bernie Madoff in 2008 and the Occupy Wall Street protests and the general distrust of most financial institutions today. We not only get to see into The Darlingshigh society life but we get to observe the people doing everything they can to being them down.

While I believe all those who caused this crisis in America need to be held accountable I really felt for Paul. He didn’t know what was going on, he was just learning the basics of the company when this scandal broke. He took the job thinking he was doing the best thing he could for himself and Merrill and was caught up in the web of lies before he knew what was happening.

With the voice of a true insider Alger has given us a fast paced, page turning fictional exposé into the financial world that has caused havoc around the world. A solid four stars and a smart debut!

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About the Author

Cristina Alger received her B.A. from Harvard College and her J.D. from NYU Law School. She has worked as an analyst at Goldman, Sachs, & Co. and as an attorney at Wilmer, Cutler, Pickering, Hale, & Dorr. She was born and raised in New York City, where she currently resides.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. Receiving a complimentary copy in no way reflected my review of this book. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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