Thursday, March 29, 2018

Her Perfect Affair by Priscilla Oliveras

On Episode 69 of the GSMC Book Review Podcast I had the pleasure of speaking with Priscilla Oliveras about her book Her Perfect Affair. This is the second book in Priscilla's Matched to Perfection series, which features the 3 Fernandez sisters. The first book in the series, His Perfect Partner focused on the oldest sister, Yazmine. The third in the series, Their Perfect Meolody, which comes out in December, will focus on the youngest sister, Lilí. This middle book, though, focuses on the middle sister, Rosa, and was just released on March 27, 2018.

Rosa Fernandez doesn’t act on impulse—she’s the responsible one, planning her career with precision, finally landing a job as the librarian at conservative Queen of Peace Academy, confining her strongest emotions to her secret poetry journal. But she’s been harboring a secret crush on dreamy Jeremy Taylor, and after one dance with him at her sister’s wedding, Rosa longs to let loose for the first time. She deserves some fun, after all. So what if she doesn’t have a shot with Jeremy, not with his wealthy pedigree and high profile lifestyle. But one dance leads to one kiss, and soon Rosa is head-over-heels...
The adopted son of a prominent Chicago lawyer, Jeremy has a lot to live up to—especially with his birth father in prison—the perfect example of a bad example. With a big promotion and a move to Japan in the works, Jeremy is worlds away from settling down. But sweet, steady Rosa is a temptation he doesn’t want to deny himself, at least for now. Yet when their simple fling turns complicated, everything they’ve both worked for is threatened—except the red-hot intimacy they’ve found together. Can forever really grow from just-for-now? (Source)
Rosa is a typical middle child: she is a peacemaker between her sisters, she feels responsible for the family, and she doesn't act without thinking first. Until her sister's wedding and her decision to go for it with Jeremy. That one decision sets in motion a series of events that will affect both Rosa and Jeremy, their families, and their futures.

I really like Rosa as a protagonist because of the 3 sisters (who you will get to know regardless of which book you start with) I felt the most connection with her. She is a thinker (an over-thinker at times), she loves books, and poetry, and she is a librarian. I love the fact that she is a high school librarian as my father is retired after being the K-12 librarian in my hometown and I seriously considered becoming a librarian as well. Libraries, and librarians, have a definite soft-spot in my heart. I also like Rosa because of her quiet, rule-following, thoughtful way of going through life.

I also appreciate the story between Jeremy and Rosa, which in many ways is a typical romance, but in many other ways steers away from some of the best-known tropes of the genre. Theirs is a relationship based on respect and genuine liking. They both come from close families (although they are close in different ways) and want to incorporate their families and their relationship as much as possible.

  • Romance
  • Women's Fiction
  • LatinX

What I enjoyed:
  • The Fernandez family. They are very different from mine in terms of culture, but very similar in other ways, and I loved how close they are and how involved in each other's lives.
  • The bilingual aspect of the book. The Fernandez sisters speak both English and Spanish, and just as most people I know who are bilingual, they switch effortlessly back and forth between the two languages, depending on their surroundings. Don't worry if you don't speak or read Spanish, though, there is nothing that isn't explained, and Priscilla does her translations in ways that flow naturally with the structure of the story.
  • Rosa's Tia Dolores. She's a secondary character, but she leaves an impression. Delores is Puerto Rican but she reminded me in many ways of my Norwegian grandmother. They are both formidable, fiercely loving and loyal, and show that love through food.
  • A romance series with Women of Color as the protagonists. I enjoy variety in the characters, stories, locations, cultures, etc. of the books I read and I am always happy when I can about different kinds of people, different cultures, and different locations, even if the book I'm reading is fiction.
    • I also appreciated the fact that Jeremy and Rosa are an interracial couple. Families are increasingly diverse, and it is wonderful to see that diversity represented in fiction.

Who should read Her Perfect Affair?
  • Fans of romance.
  • Fans of stories with a multicultural aspect.
  • Fans of serial romance, particularly involving the same family.
  • "Eventually she'd given up wishing for a date. Books were far safer companions."
  • "Man, it felt like he and Rosa were tiptoeing around a purple-striped elephant sprawled on is designer couch. Both afraid to poke it, fearing the potential fallout."
  • "Guilt burned in her chest. Failing to meet expectations or responsibilities went against every instinct she'd honed in the years since Mami's death. The need to please others and do what was right had become second nature. Her penance, though she had never shared this truth with anyone."

Where you can find Priscilla online:
Facebook: @prisoliveras
4 Chicas Chat Group Facebook Group
Fiction From the Heart Facebook Group
Twitter: @PrisOliveras
Instagram: prisoliveras
Amazon Author Page: Priscilla Oliveras
GoodReads: Priscilla Oliveras
BookBub: @PriscillaOliveras

Author Bio:

My first language was Spanish, followed quickly by Spanglish as I learned new words and phrases from other kids on the playground. With a Mexican American dad who served in the Navy and a Puerto Rican mom who earned her business degree from the University of Puerto Rico, my life has been a mix of our Latino culture and good ol’ US of A traditions.  Kinda like my books.
I’ve always been a reader—my parents even remind me about how I won a trophy in 2nd grade for reading the most books over the summer.  In high school I tried my hand at writing short stories, and I read my first Harlequin romance while waiting in a hurricane shelter with my parents and siblings in the Florida Keys. When I started complaining about being bored, my dad—yes, my dad, that’s not a typo—handed me one of his Harlequin romance novels.
Years later, as a married college student with a new baby, I decided to try my hand at romance novel writing.  Boy, is that a book that will remain stuffed under my bed until…well, let’s just say, forever.  I typed it on my handy dandy electric typewriter in one semester, put a sticky note with my name and address on the front page and mailed my “baby” off to New York.  Yes, I hear your gasp of shock.  No cover letter, no query letter.  Nothing.  Totally not the right way to submit. But what did I know?  It wasn’t until later that I was introduced to Romance Writers of America by a how-to book.
RWA is the premier organization for all romance writers.  Through RWA I’ve learned about the business of publishing, honed my craft, and met some of my best friends and mentors.
Now, five books, two more kids, countless military moves, one bachelor’s & two master’s degrees later, I’m still plugging away on my writing.  In fact one of my degrees is a Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in Writing Popular Fiction from Seton Hill University. I’d recommend this program to any genre fiction writer interested in honing their craft, whether published or not.
Or, if you’re not up for an MFA, but you’re interested in learning more about writing romance novels, take a look at my continuing education course offered by  ed2go. “Romance Writing” is a 6-week, 12-lesson course on the craft of writing a romance novel.
After my day job and my writing, in my free time I enjoy running, playing tennis, dancing, going to the theatre, watching sports (Go Cubs! Go Gators!), reading and watching romantic comedies, and spending time with family and friends.
In short, I’m a proud Latina who enjoys family, fun, romance and the occasional nap in my backyard hammock. (Source)
To hear the interview with Priscilla please click here.

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Nailgun Messiah by Jim Heskett

On Episode 68 of the GSMC Book Review Podcast I spoke with Jim Heskett about his book Nailgun Messiah. This is the first in a series of (currently) 8 books about a man named Micah Reed. Micah is a man with a complicated past, a recovering alcoholic, and someone who makes questionable choices as he navigates life.

Micah Reed has a knack for ticking off the wrong people at the wrong time. When his latest attempt to do the right thing angers some drug dealers, he takes refuge in the sleepy mountain town of Nederland. He plans on finding his sister Magda and disappearing into obscurity with her. Micah is in for a big surprise…
When he learns his sister lives on a commune, Micah immediately butts heads with Lilah, the ever-watchful woman in charge. As the cult leader turns her menacing attentions toward him, Micah senses an even greater threat that no one else sees coming…
Can he convince Magda to flee to safety before it’s too late, or will he lose her forever in the process?
Nailgun Messiah is the first book in the Micah Reed series, a set of edge-of-your-seat thrillers. If you like complex characters, realistic dialogue, and layers upon layers of suspenseful tension, then you’ll love Jim Heskett’s cult classic in the making. (Source)
This book starts off in a kind of crazy situation and goes forward from there. Throughout the book Micah has run-ins with cult leaders, drug dealers, murderers, and a priest. He gets a job in a hardware store, learns how to snow-shoe, and goes to the Frozen Dead Guy Festival. He gets kidnapped, beaten up, stabbed in the leg with a screwdriver, and almost shot with a nail gun. And yes, it is just as bizarre and intriguing as it sounds, Which means it keeps you engaged while you read because you're never quite sure what might happen next.

As already mentioned, Micah has a complicated past and makes some questionable choices, but this just makes him more human and relatable. Even when I was thinking, "WHAT are you DOING?!" I could recognize the fact that Micah makes decisions like the rest of us do: from emotion, from selfishness, and from a million other factors. Many protagonists in this type of book seem like they know everything and are always 2-5 steps ahead of everyone else. There's a certain kind of appeal in those characters, but having a protagonist who reacts like many of the rest of us might is a nice change of pace and makes for a different kind of reading experience.

  • Suspense
  • Thriller
  • Mystery

What I enjoyed:
  • Micah's humanness, even when his choices occasionally made me shake my head.
  • The dry humor of the book. It's not a funny story and it deals with some fairly heavy subjects, and yet Jim's writing is witty and slightly snarky in a way that is engaging and fun to read.
  • Boba Fett's head. Yes, you read that right. Micah has an action figure (minus the body) of Boba Fett that he carries around with him. He even talks to it. As a huge Star Wars fan I appreciate both the quirkiness of this characteristic and the shoutout to a franchise I love.

Who should read Nailgun Messiah?
  • Fans of suspense and thrillers.
  • Fans of books with characters who aren't super-human, who make some occasionally questionable choices, and who make us root for them in spite of everything.
  • "Living in Colorado had been a lonely experience for Micah Reed. When he'd met cute Allison at the grocery store he sought a real connection with someone, but then she turned out to be a coke runner for that shithead Seth who'd stabbed Micah in the leg with a screwdriver. Once again, Micah's judgment wasn't quite inside mature territory."
  • "Now, he had to resort to something drastic. An idea formed, but one so crazy, it seemed like the brainstorming of a mental patient. And once he did it, there would be no going back. Everything would blow up and he'd have to leave it all behind."
  • "The world was a puzzle and she didn't have the box to know where to start. Didn't have the corner pieces."

Where you can find Jim online:
Facebook: @authorjimheskett
Twitter: @jimheskett
Tumblr: @jimheskett
Google+: Author Jim Heskett
GoodReads: Jim Heskett
BookBub: @jimheskett
Amazon Author Page: Jim Heskett

Author Bio:

Jim Heskett was born in the wilds of Oklahoma, raised by a pack of wolves with a station wagon and a membership card to the local public swimming pool. Just like the man in the John Denver song, he moved to Colorado in the summer of his 27th year and never looked back. Aside from an extended break traveling the world, he hasn’t let the Flatirons mountains out of his sight.
He fell in love with writing at the age of fourteen with a copy of Stephen King’s The Shining. Poetry became his first outlet for teen angst, then later some screenplays, and eventually short and long fiction, plus some dabbling in the video game industry. In between, he worked a few careers that never quite tickled his creative toes, and hasn’t ever forgotten about Stephen King. You can find him currently huddled over a laptop in an undisclosed location in Colorado, dreaming up ways to kill beloved characters. (Source)
Do you want to learn more about Micah Reed? Does Nailgun Messiah sound like a book you'd like to read? You're in luck as I have 3 copies from Jim to give away! All you have to do is go to either our Facebook or Twitter pages and share the episode with Jim's interview, or go to Instagram and comment on that post. Simple as that: just comment on, share, or retweet episode 68 and you'll automatically be entered to win Nailgun Messiah!

Facebook: @GSMCBookReview
Twitter: @gsmc_bookreview
Instagram: @gsmc_bookreview

To hear the episode with Jim please click here.

Friday, March 23, 2018

Seeking Perfect by Jeri Bronson

On Episode 67 of the GSMC Book Review Podcast I chatted with Jeri Bronson about her debut novel, Seeking Perfect, which was released on March 21st. Seeking Perfect is a Young Adult Romance about a high school senior named Jesse. This is a genre I hadn't read in quite a while (I've read YA with romance, but most of those are in the Fantasy genre rather than strictly romance), so it was fun to delve into a genre I don't visit very often.

Jesse learned early not to trust a soul, but what if he was her soulmate?
Senior year of high school should be about friendship, boyfriends, and graduation, but for seventeen-year-old Jesse Barnes it’s about escaping the shame of life with an alcoholic mother.
Jesse’s goals are clear: keep a roof over her head, avoid the revolving door of leering men her mother brings home, graduate from high school, and do everything possible to keep her home life secret. Friends, boyfriends: not an option. Who would understand?
Then perfect, popular Derek Aames sits with Jesse at lunch. How can she discourage him? How can she keep him from intruding on her life and discovering her secret? And most of all, how can she keep him out of her heart?
Will his persistence finally break down her walls, or just break her? (Source)
Jesse just wants to make it through high school and get as far away from her current life as possible. She is a good student and works part time at a bookstore so hopes to go to college as her means of escape. Her mantra much of the book is "stay under the radar." It's a defense mechanism to help her cope but it also keeps her from recognizing some of the things in her life that are good and decent, like her relationship with her boss and her boss's family. Derek helps Jesse to stop adhering so tightly to her mantra, to take some risks, and to embrace the good relationships in her life. But in so doing she risks ruining her carefully laid plans.

Jeri works part-time as a substitute high school teacher and it is obvious that she cares about the students she works with. This book, in many ways, is in honor of those students, especially the ones who might not feel like their stories are worth recognizing or acknowledging.

  • Young Adult
  • Romance

What I enjoyed:
  • This is a book about relationships. Not just between Jesse and Derek, but also between Jesse and Charlotte (her boss), Jesse and her mother, and Jesse and other people in general. Not all of these relationships are healthy, but they all play hugely important roles in her life and her choices.
  • Jesse is another protagonist who loves books. She reads Jane Austen and Wuthering Heights and tutors a man in reading (which goes against her mantra but which shows that there are definite cracks in the façade she puts up for the world).
  • In some ways the character of Derek is almost too perfect, but I liked that Jeri didn't write him strictly from a stereotypical viewpoint of a teenage boy. Derek doesn't simply come off as a jock or a sullen, angsty teen, but as a composite of many teenagers that I have known in my life.

Who should read  Seeking Perfect?
  • Fans of Young Adult romances.
  • Teens and young adults as well as adults who care about teens and young adults.
  • Anyone intrigued by the story's concept.
  • "Growing up Jesse thought if she was quiet and got good grades in school, if she was perfect, maybe her mother would love her. Striving for perfection became the one thing she could control in her world."
  • "Writing allowed her voice to be heard on paper - a voice that, in reality, was silent."
  • "She could only pray that she would go unnoticed for the rest of the day. If one more teacher or person talked to her she was going to lose it. She had talked to more people in this one day than in the whole semester."

Where you can find Jeri online:
Facebook: @JeriBronsonauthor
Twitter: @JeriBronson
Amazon Author Page: Jeri Bronson
GoodReads: Jeri Bronson

Author Bio:

Jeri Bronson is a Southern California Native who grew up in Orange County. She definitely runs for a sweater when the temp dips below 70 degrees. She lives with her husband and son while missing her daughter who is away in college. She has 2 very critical cats that give their opinion on her work. She started her writing journey in 2007 when she got laid off from her full time job and decided to work part time to be home with her kids. She does her best writing while walking around her neighborhood imagining all of her stories. When she is not writing she is an avid tennis fan and can be found watching the Tennis Channel, but definitely do not interrupt her during Grand Slam tournaments. Follow Jeri as she continues on this writing journey penning more heart felt stories. (Source)

To hear the interview with Jeri please click here.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Instrument of the Devil by Debbie Burke

I chatted with author Debbie Burke on Episode 66 of the GSMC Book Review Podcast and we talked about Montana, fictional murder, Chubby Checker, and (of course) her book, Instrument of the Devil. The book is suspense and thriller featuring Tawny Lindholm, a recent widow living in a small Western Montana town.

A dashing terrorist targets the electrical grid, framing a small-town widow.
Tawny Lindholm only wants to live a quiet life in Montana, recovering from the death of her husband, and hoping to find solace with a handsome widower she just met. But nothing is as it appears when she receives a new smartphone that does everything except make a call. Mysterious cash appears in her bank account and surveillance video shows her making deposits she knows she didn’t make. While the feds suspect her of illegal activity, her son, a soldier serving in Afghanistan, is kidnapped and held for ransom. Can Tawny save him? Or will unseen tentacles of a terrorist plot destroy her? (Source)
 Having grown up in Western Montana, not far from where this book is set, it was awesome to read a book set in a familiar area. It was also extremely strange to read about a terrorist plot  being hatched in that area. But Debbie does a great job in creating a plot that is plausible and terrifying in that plausibility.

Tawny gets caught up in this plot partly because of her lack of understanding of smartphone technology, but mostly because she is honest, believes the best of people, and is a little naïve. She's also reeling from the death of her husband and is extremely vulnerable because of it. She's the perfect target.

  • Thriller
  • Suspense
  • Women's Adventure

What I enjoyed:
  • The setting, obviously. Debbie and I took opposite paths: I grew up in Montana and now live in California, Debbie grew up in California and now lives in Montana.
  • The evolution of Tawny throughout the story. She's hesitant about a lot at first, but by the end of the story she does what she needs to and kicks butt in the process.
  • Can I say setting twice? :-)
  • The fact that the main character of a suspense/thriller novel is a 50 year old woman. That's a rare occurrence in books, television, movies, etc., but it shouldn't be.

Who should read the Instrument of the Devil?
  • Fans of thrillers.
  • Fans of books with unexpected heroines.
  • Anyone who has ever visited an historic location and thought about doing fictional murder in that location.
  • "As they drove through Columbia Falls, a billboard advertising United Bankcorp shifted her mind back to real problems. Who kept depositing big wads of cash into her account? An imposter was hell-bent on making her appear to be a criminal. She just wanted to live her ordinary, law-abiding, low-profile life, but the bank mess prevented it."
  • "This was real identity theft. Someone had stolen Tawny's actual appearance."
  • "Should she call the cops to report the break-in? If they'd stolen something , she wouldn't hesitate. But forced entry, nothing missing, only a faint scent of cologne.
    Nine-one-one, what's your emergency?
    I want to report someone moved my mouse and rumpled my underwear.
    The operator would fall on the floor laughing."

Where you can find Debbie online:

Author Bio:

Debbie Burke writes suspense and mystery novels. Her latest book Instrument of the Devil won the 2016 Zebulon contest sponsored by Pikes Peak Writers Conference. Her nonfiction articles appear in national and international publications and she is a regular guest blogger at The Kill Zone. She is a founding member of Authors of the Flathead and helps to plan the annual Flathead River Writers Conference in Kalispell, Montana. Her greatest joy is mentoring young writers. (Source)

Does Instrument of the Devil sound like a book you'd like to read? Excellent news: I have 3 SIGNED copies to give away! All you have to do is go to either our Facebook or Twitter pages and share the episode with Debbie's interview, or go to Instagram and comment on that post. Simple as that: just comment on, share, or retweet episode 66 and you'll automatically be entered to win this wonderful book! 

To hear the interview with Debbie please click here.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Bridge Daughter by Jim Nelson

On today's episode of the GSMC Book Review Podcast I had the pleasure of speaking with Jim Nelson about his book Bridge Daughter.  This book has one of the more unique story concepts that I've encountered, and I was intrigued from the moment I read the blurb on the back of the book:

Hanna Driscoll thinks her thirteenth birthday will be no different than the one before—until her mother explains the facts of life. Hanna is a “bridge daughter,” born pregnant with her parents’ child. In a few months she will give birth and die, leaving her parents with their true daughter.
A mature bookworm who dreams of college and career, Hanna is determined to overcome her biological fate. Navigating a world eerily like our own, she confronts attitudes and fears as old as humankind itself.
Then Hanna learns of an illegal procedure that will allow her to live to adulthood…at the cost of the child’s life. (Source)
This book sucked me in right away and I was compelled to finish it to find out what choices Hanna would make. I wasn't quite so sure what I thought of the ending when I first finished, but it definitely kept me thinking long after I was done reading, and for me that is one of the signs of a good book.

Hanna is the type of heroine I enjoy: she's a bookworm and heads straight to a book when she wants to know the answer to something (the story is set in the early 80s, so no internet). In many ways she is a typical 13 year old girl, but in others she is mature beyond her years, and she truly tries to see all sides of the moral dilemma in which she finds herself, even when everyone around her simply accepts her death as inevitable and the proper order of things.

  • Young Adult
  • Science Fiction
  • Dystopian

What I enjoyed:
  • The uniqueness of the concept. I'm not sure how many friends and family members I've told about this book since I read the description, simply because of how fascinating I find it fascinating.
  • Hanna as a main character. I rooted so hard for her throughout the story as she struggled to figure out what being a bridge daughter meant and as she sought an alternative path.
  • The people Hanna meets throughout the book, all of whom give her new insight into what it means to be a bridge daughter.

Who should read Bridge Daugter?
  • Fans of Young Adult stories with compelling heroines.
  • Fans of dystopian science fiction.
  • Anyone intrigued by the story's concept.
  • "Hagar's curse, Erica's confinement, the blessing of the two Cheryls, twins born fourteen years apart. This was the tradition Hanna had been born into."
  • "'But they would have me. I'm their child.'
    Maureen squeezed Hanna's hand tighter. 'Your mother wants the child you're carrying. That's the motherly instinct, one of the strongest instincts in the world. I've never heard of a mother seeing it any other way.'"
  • "She knew the outpouring of affection and her mother's question - 'Are you okay?' - were not directed at Hanna but the child inside her. A miser hugs the lockbox tight to his chest, but he does not love the lockbox, only the precious gold inside ."

Where you can find Jim online:
Twitter: @_jimnelson_
Amazon: Jim Nelson
GoodReads: Jim Nelson
BookBub: @JimNelson

Author Bio:

Jim Nelson’s most recent novels are Hagar’s Mother and Bridge Daughter (Kindle Press, 2016).
Other books include Everywhere Man and Edward Teller Dreams of Barbecuing People.
His work has also appeared in North American Review, Confrontation, Watchword, Instant City, and other fine venues.
He holds a B.A. in English and an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from San Francisco State University. A California native, Jim lives in San Francisco. (Source)
Does Bridge Daughter sound like a book you'd like to read? You're in luck as I have 3 copies from Jim to give away! All you have to do is go to either our Facebook or Twitter pages and share the episode with Jim's interview, or go to Instagram and comment on that post. Simple as that: just comment on, share, or retweet episode 65 and you'll automatically be entered to win this wonderful book!

Facebook: @GSMCBookReview
Twitter: @gsmc_bookreview
Instagram: @gsmc_bookreview

To hear the interview with Jim please click here.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

The Devil's Poetry by Louise Cole

Louise Cole was my guest for yesterday's episode of the GSMC Book Review Podcast. We talked about her book, The Devil's Poetry, in which the heroine, Callie, discovers that she is a Reader and she just might be able to save the world.

Callie’s world will be lost to war – unless she can unlock the magic of an ancient manuscript. She and her friends are being drafted and many of them won’t come back. When a secret order tells her she can bring peace just by reading from a book, it seems an easy solution – too easy. But how do you make the right decision when no one will tell you the truth? Callie soon finds herself hunted, trapped between desperate allies and diabolical enemies. There are only two people Callie can trust – her best friend and her ex-Marine bodyguard. And they are on different sides. Callie alone must decide: dare she read this book? What’s the price – and who will pay? (Source)
In many ways The Devil's Poetry follows fairly standard themes for Young Adult books: Callie lives (and has a complicated relationship) with just her father after the death of her mother when she was six. She knows nothing of being a reader until seemingly random circumstances thrust her into a life she didn't know existed. And there is a very handsome young man that comes with that new life. But things aren't always what they seem, and you soon realize, along with Callie, that her new role as a Reader isn't as simple as it appears. Read from the book, save the world. Not complicated, right? Except that it is, and there are many twists and turns throughout the story as Callie tries to figure out who she can trust, just what her powers may or may not accomplish, and whose side is the right one.

The Devil's Poetry is the first book in a trilogy, and I am very interested to find out what is going to happen to Callie next, as well as to learn more about the origins of the book, the order that protects it, and the group that wants to destroy it.

  • Young Adult
  • Fantasy
  • Contemporary

What I enjoyed:
  • All of the literary references. Callie loves to read and frequently makes references to the stories and characters of books she's read and loved.
  • That the reader affects the book just as the book affects the reader, both in terms of Callie as the heroine and as someone who loves books.
  • The gray areas.  Things aren't so easy as right and wrong, and the moral questions make the story that much more interesting.

Who should read the The Devil's Poetry?
  • Fans of Young Adult stories with strong heroines.
  • Fans of contemporary fantasy.
  • Fans of books with lots of literary references.
  • "I'd planned to bury myself in a book. I always hid in someone else's story when things got rough."
  • "It was kind of bizarre hanging out in a coffee lounge with an empath, sipping bad lattes, while waiting for a couple of soldiers to come and rescue us from fear-inducing demons."
  • "My father always used to say: when something seems too good to be true, it usually is. And saving the world simply by reading from a book definitely fit the too good to be true category."

Where you can find Louise online:
Facebook: @louisecoleauthor
Twitter: @louisecole44
Instagram: louise_cole_books
Amazon: Louise Cole
GoodReads: Louise Cole
BookBub: @louisecole

Author Bio:

Louise Cole has spent her life reading and writing. And very occasionally gardening. Sometimes she reads as she gardens. She can be seen walking her dogs around North Yorkshire - she's the one with a couple of cocker spaniels and a Kindle. She read English at Oxford - read being the operative word - and hasn't stopped reading since.
In her day-job she is an award-winning journalist, a former business magazine editor and director of a media agency. She writes about business but mainly the business of moving things around: transport, logistics, trucks, ships, people.
Her fiction includes short stories, young adult thrillers, and other stuff which is still cooking.
Her YA and kids’ fiction is represented by Greenhouse Literary Agency and she is also published on Amazon as one of the Marisa Hayworth triumvirate. (Source)

Does the Devil's Poetry sound like a book you'd like to read? You're in luck as I have 3 copies from Louise to give away! All you have to do is go to either our Facebook or Twitter pages and share the episode with Louise's interview. Simple as that: just share or retweet episode 64 and you'll automatically be entered to win this wonderful book!

Facebook: @GSMCBookReview

For the interview with Louise please click here.

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Not a Self-Help Book by Yi Shun Lai

On the most recent episode of the GSMC Book Review Podcast I interviewed Yi Shun Lai, who is a writer of both fiction and non-fiction, an editor and writing coach, and part-owner of the Tahoma Literary Review. Author Camille Griep is the person who first got me into contact with Yi Shun and we then proceeded to go through what felt like a comedy of errors to find an interview time. She might be the most patient person ever. Thankfully we finally succeeded in finding time to chat, and I'm so glad we did because not only did I love her novel, Not a Self-Help Book: The Misadventures of Marty Wu, but Yi Shun has been a delight to get to know over these past months and the numerous emails.

Marty Wu, compulsive reader of advice manuals, would love to come across as a poised young advertising professional. Instead she trips over her own feet and blurts out inappropriate comments. The bulk of her brain matter, she decides, consists of gerbils "spinning madly in alternating directions."
Marty hopes to someday open a boutique costume shop, but it's hard to keep focused on her dream. First comes a spectacular career meltdown that sends her ricocheting between the stress of New York and the warmth of supportive relatives in Taiwan. Then she faces one domestic drama after another, with a formidable mother who's impossible to please, an annoyingly successful and well- adjusted brother, and surprising family secrets that pop up just when she doesn't want to deal with them.
Mining the comedic potential of the 1.5-generation American experience, NOT A SELF-HELP BOOK is an insightful and witty portrait of a young woman scrambling to balance familial expectations and her own creative dreams. (Source)
This book is hilarious. It's more than just funny, though, it's also poignant and thoughtful. Some of Marty's struggles will be familiar to many, but her particular cultural and family circumstances draw attention to how those struggles might be different for as a 1.5 generation Asian American woman. Marty struggles with a lot of expectations from a lot of different sources, and she has to sort through numerous layers in her life and the lives of her family, especially her mother, in order to begin to sort through those expectations and see where they line up with the expectations and hopes she has for herself.

  • Comedy
  • Women's Fiction
  • Contemporary

What I enjoyed:
  • The humor that Yi Shun injects into the story. I couldn't read this book in public because I kept busting out into uncontrollable laughter.
  • Marty's relationship with her mother. This relationship is difficult and Marty's mother comes across as kind of awful at times, but the relationship is also very real. It manages to encompass the complexity that exists within relationships and how culture and families of origin help to shape communication styles.
  • Seeing both Taiwan and New York through Marty's eyes, because both places are home to her, and she experiences both differently.

Who should read the Not a Self-Help Book?
  • Fans of books that are hilarious but also thoughtful and thought-provoking.
  • Fans of women's fiction.
  • Fans of books with complicated relationships, especially complicated family relationships.
  • "Some overly dramatic part of me is yelling, 'Foiled again!' and shaking my fist at the sky. In fact, nothing so exciting is actually happening except for the slow sinking feeling I recognize as my pipe dream, uh, going down the drain."
  • "I really hate this notebook, by the way. What the hell is the point of a notebook with lines? How do you imagine anything in a notebooks with lines?"
  • "Brain gerbils were spinning madly in alternating directions on their wheel, careening between Act indignant! and Stand there with your mouth open!"

Where you can find Yi Shun online:
Twitter: @gooddirt
Amazon: Yi Shun Lai
GoodReads: Yi Shun Lai

Author Bio:

Yi Shun Lai (say "yeeshun" for her first name) is the author of Not a Self-Help Book: The Misadventures of Marty Wu (Shade Mountain Press, 2016).
She is a writer and editor living in Southern California. She is the nonfiction editor for the Tahoma Literary Review.
She was, for a time, the youngest-ever writer for the legendary J. Peterman catalog. And that was before "Seinfeld" discovered it. (Source)
To hear the interview with Yi Shun please click here.

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Reality Wedding by Laura Heffernan

On Tuesday's Episode of the GSMC Book Review Podcast I was pleased to welcome Laura Heffernan back. Laura first joined me on Episode 39 back in November to talk about the first two books in her Reality Star series. The final book in that series, Reality Wedding was released on Tuesday, and it was such fun to chat with her again about this series and her writing.

When Jen Reid escaped a reality TV cruise with her relationship intact—if not her hair—she swore she was done with the cameras for good. Sure, she and Justin met, had their first kiss, and got engaged with tape rolling, but manufactured drama and ruthless producers have shaken them up more times than she can count. With Jen’s reality-themed bakery just getting started and her brand-new lawyer fiancé in a pile of debt, they’re a long way from glitz and glamour, and that’s fine by Jen. Until the Network calls and tells her that unless she says “I do” to a wedding special, Justin will be out of a job.
Now Jen has two weeks to plan an all-expenses-paid “dream wedding”—and dodge the tricks and traps of a showrunner happy to mess up her future in the name of ratings. Luckily for Jen, she’s got plenty of experience with cake and popcorn. But when real-life drama and reality TV twists collide, the cliffhangers may just follow her right down the aisle . . . (Source)
Laura said this final book is her favorite of the trilogy and I would have to agree with her.  All three books are really fun, and this one is no exception. Jen and Justin once again find themselves in some crazy, producer-created dramatic situations. What I especially liked about this book, though, is that Jen and Justin are actually able to work together as a team. If you've read the first two books (and I'm not going to give anything away) then you know that these two characters were often at odds due to mistrust mostly created by the reality shows they were on. In Reality Wedding, though, Laura still gives these characters plenty of stress and craziness, but they are able to face it together as a cohesive team and it was nice for me as a reader for them to get that chance.

One thing Laura stressed in both of her interviews is that you don't have to be a fan of, or even watch, reality television to enjoy this series, and she's absolutely correct. I don't tend to watch a lot of reality shows, but I loved these books. They're perfect escapist reading and you should definitely check them out if you're looking for something fun, funny, and romantic to read.

  • Romantic Comedy
  • Women's Fiction

What I enjoyed:
  • All of the things that also made me cringe. One reason I can't watch much reality TV is that I project too much and I feel so awkward and uncomfortable for the people participating. Here I am able to enjoy those same situations more because the characters are fictional. The crazy situations Laura comes up with for her characters are hilarious.
  • The secondary characters. One character is so much fun to hate (he tends to speak in rhyme and is completely obnoxious in almost every way), and Jen's friends are quirky and smart and loyal and might all need their own spin-offs.
  • The development of Jen's and Justin's relationship in this conclusion. As I said above, it was so nice to watch (read?) them work as a team and see how much stronger they'd become together than they had been in the first two books.

Who should read the Reality Star Series?
  • Fans of reality television, but not being a fan doesn't eliminate you.
  • Fans of romantic comedies.
  • "To call our wedding budget a shoestring stretched the bounds of the English language. We were on a dental-floss budge unless we wanted to wait three years to get married."
  • "...and I still didn't know what a plate charger was. (It did not have a USB port, I checked.)"
  • "'It's Los Angeles,' Connor said. 'Everyone's a little bit evil.'"

Where you can find Laura online:
Twitter: @lh_writes
Amazon Author Page: Laura Heffernan
Goodreads: Laura Heffernan
BookBub: @lauraheffernan

Author Bio:

Laura Heffernan is the author of the Reality Star series (available now) and the upcoming Gamer Girls series (2019). When not watching total strangers get married, drag racing queens, or cooking competitions, Laura enjoys travel, baking, board games, and new experiences. She lives in the northeast with her husband and two furry little beasts.
Some of Laura's favorite things include goat cheese, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Battlestar Galactica, the Oxford comma, and ice cream. Not all together. The best place to find her is usually on Twitter, where she spends far too much time tweeting about writing, Canadian chocolate, board games and reality TV. (Source)

To hear the interview with Laura please click here.
To hear the first interview please click here; to read the accompanying blog post please click here.