BLACKBIRDS NOVEL DUET

BLACKBIRDS NOVEL DUET

When Elliott Vance sees his parents, Serena and Ethan, together for the first time, holding hands; it causes a tectonic shift in his perception of reality. Answering all the questions that bubble to the surface, will not always be easy or pleasant. But, there’s always a beginning, a middle, and an end to most stories, including Serena and Ethan’s.

The reconnection between Serena and Ethan Vance will lead to explosive revelations and a thousand and one questions about their past. But will it also give them and their only son Elliott, the closure they all so desperately need?

‘Ethan’s Choice: Blank Pages I’ and ‘Serena’s Vow: Blank Pages II’ by Lily Java brings full circle the story of Elliott Vance’s parents, Serena and Ethan, first introduced in the novel ‘Blackbirds’.

ETHAN’S CHOICE: BLANK PAGES I BY LILY JAVA

He thought he planned for everything. But, what he didn’t plan for, was her.

Whether we are we born into the world a blank page has been argued since the time of Aristotle. Is it nature or nurture that makes us who we are? Do we choose our own fate, or are we chosen for the roles we play?

Serena Clay is a golden girl living in a soulful, turbulent time. Beautiful, intelligent, pragmatic, and so well cared for, one would think she’d be better prepared. But there’s no way, she could’ve known how overwhelming and passionate it would be to fall in love, until she met Ethan Vance—a fierce, charming, and enigmatic young man.

Ethan Vance lives a life filled with secrets and lies. He longs to be free of them as well as of the violent family legacy they stem from. With careful planning and avoidance, he hopes to keep the woman he dares to love and the person most precious to him, in his life forever. When things go bad as they often do, Ethan has a choice to make but now his heart won’t be the only one on the line.

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SERENA’S VOW: BLANK PAGES II BY LILY JAVA

Keeping her promises has often meant sacrifice. But is it ever too late to try and live your best dreams?

Sometimes, re-imagining your life is your only road to salvation.

Long ago left by the man she loved and trusted, with a young son to raise alone, Serena Vance is now a grown woman. The vows she and Ethan made to each other, she has had to forget. Now there is nothing more important than helping her son become the best man he can be. But will reaching that goal come at the expense of her own happiness?

Ethan Vance is a lost, broken man—angry, alone, and teetering on the brink of disaster. The people and things that meant the most to him are disappearing from his life one by one. Every day has become a nightmare, and to survive he must turn his life around.

But is it ever too late to have a second chance at living your best dreams?

In the winding journey these two former lovers take further away from each other, they both lose a significant part of themselves. To thrive again, they must re-invent their lives apart … and maybe, in doing so they will find their way back together.

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EXCERPT

Serena was lying in his bed, reading. They’d made love late that afternoon. He’d elevated the hurt wrist and told her not to move it, no matter what he did. She was obedient, though he did not make it at all easy for her. As she writhed against his treacherous mouth, tongue, and hands, he kept her in endless pursuit of an orgasm until she could barely move from the effort. The sun set over their warm, conjoined bodies. 

He never seemed to have enough time with her to his liking. And now here she was— lying in hisbed, in hisshirt—and he still felt that way. He’d been studiously watching her while pretending to work on something else. It wasn’t just that she was beautiful. It was her earthiness—how full of grace she was. It made him feel like having her in his life was the only thing he needed to be sure he’d stay safe, grounded, and in touch with everything around him. That as long as she was there, as long as he could look at her every day, he wouldn’t lose himself to the dour or murky thoughts he sometimes had about his life—about the world in general. 

She reached the end of a page and adjusted herself while turning it when she noticed he was staring. 

Everything he’d been thinking, everything he’d been planning, Ethan blurted it all out at once. 

“There’s something I want to tell you. I’ve made a decision. I’m going to leave school after this semester.”

Her brow creased ever so slightly. He got the impression she was holding her breath a little. Stabilizing herself against the conversation, she took a deep breath, and then another, before she spoke. 

“Where will you go?”

“I’m thinking about going to the country for a little while.”

“The country? What do you mean?”

“I mean I’m thinking about renting that house we stayed in but for a longer time than just a weekend.” 

Serena sat up in the bed, pushing the book aside.  

“In Claverack?”

“Yeah.”

“Why there?”

“Good memories.”

He knew her downcast eyes and the subtle smile meant she was remembering too.

ABOUT LILY JAVA

Lily is a freelance writer, blogger, and novelist who writes fiction in numerous genres. When she isn’t writing, Lily raises money for arts and cultural organizations or plans special events in iconic landmarks throughout her beloved hometown: New York City. A resident of Brooklyn, Lily is a true ambivert, who enjoys solitude just as much as she likes meeting and talking with other passionate readers and writers.

“I think every story is a love story of some kind. The whys and wherefores are usually as interesting as who or what you love, but you only know that if you delve deep. So in life, in love, and most definitely on the page, that’s how I like to do it.” –Lily

CONNECT WITH LILY JAVA

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Congratulations, Kazuo Ishiguro

My favourite day

Today is one of my favourite days of the year: when the Nobel Laureate in Literature is announced by the Swedish Academy. Last year, I was extremely disappointed with their choice of Bob Dylan. For me, he was not really worthy of being bestowed with the honour of being a Nobel laureate and his indifference regarding acknowledging the honour and coming to Stockholm to accept it seemed to verify that even he didn’t think he should have received it.

“… a writer of great integrity.”

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Kazuo Ishiguro (Source: Paris Review)

This year is a different story. Kazuo Ishiguro, the author of The Buried Giant, The Remains of the Day and Never Let Me Go (just to name a few) is the 2017 Nobel Laureate in Literature.

Sara Danius, Permanent Secretary of the Swedish Academy, described Ishiguro as a writer of great integrity and said of his writing style that it was a mix of Jane Austen and Franz Kafka, with a touch of Marcel Proust stirred in. I think that sums it up perfectly. His writing is elegant, sometimes deceptively uncomplicated, and full of resonance.

I first stumbled upon Kazuo Ishiguro’s work during my last year of grad school. I needed something to distract me while I was finishing my MFA thesis. I borrowed a copy of The Remains of the Day from the library and fell in love with Ishiguro’s beautiful sense of language and storytelling. I promised myself I would read more of his work, but that didn’t happen again until many years later, when I picked up a copy of Never Let Me Go while on my way to the US. I read the entire novel while in transit, then began re-reading it once I’d arrived in Philadelphia just for the sheer pleasure of re-immersing myself in the world he’d created.

Today, to celebrate the announcement, I treated myself to a Kindle copy of Nocturnes, Ishiguro’s short story collection published in 2009. I’m looking forward to being captivated by his way with words and rich character depiction.

If you haven’t read any of Kazuo Ishiguro’s work, check out this list of his titles and see if anything strikes your fancy:

Screen Shot 2017-10-05 at 20.35.34A Pale View of Hills

An Artist of the Floating World

The Remains of the Day

The Unconsoled

When We Were Orphans

Never Let Me Go

Nocturnes: Five Stories of Music and Nightfall

The Buried Giant

Required Reading: Yes, you need to read these books.

required-reading

screen-shot-2016-09-25-at-19-36-11Philadelphia Fire: a novel by John Edgar Wideman

Anyone who grew up in Philadelphia in the 1970s and 1980s remembers the MOVE group. John Edgar Wideman’s  novel, Philadelphia Fire, was inspired by the 1985 police bombing of the MOVE house in West Philadelphia that killed eleven people and razed an entire neighbourhood, destroying sixty houses. What surprises me is that no one outside of the Philadelphia area seems to even know about this, but it’s left an indelible mark on the city.

So what is Philadelphia Fire about? From the blurb: Cudjoe, a writer and exile who returns to his old neighborhood after spending a decade fleeing from his past, and his search for the lone survivor of the fire — a young boy who was seen running from the flames.

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In case you’re wondering who is the little boy running from the flames, the character is based on Birdie Africa, who died in 2013. He was the lone child survivor of the bombing and spent years trying to build a new life for himself. He was only 41 when he died.

screen-shot-2016-09-25-at-19-56-26Another book that is definitely required reading is Kindred by Octave E. Butler. This is a brilliant take on time travel/speculative fiction with Dana, a modern-day black woman, finding herself time and time again being snatched from her home in California and transported back to the antebellum South to save the life of a white plantation owner’s son. Each time, she is stuck there longer and longer and more dangerous and Dana finds herself drawn to the slave quarters and wondering if she will ever be able to return to the present, or if her life will end before it’s even properly begun.

I love Octavia Butler’s novels. She was an amazing writer and her stories speak to the human experience, of the ways humans work against each other, and are as relevant today as when she first wrote them.

screen-shot-2016-09-25-at-20-58-45Kim McLarin‘s Meeting of the Waters is set in the tense months following the 1992 LA riots. What happens when Porter Stockman, a white journalist covering the trials of police officers who beat Rodney King, finds himself in danger in the midst of the riots and black journalist Lenora Page saves his life. Afterwards, he tries to find her, but she’s disappeared into thin air. Back in Philadelphia, he ends up finding Lenora right under his nose in the offices of the newspaper where he works. What starts as a wary friendship becomes a turbulent relationship, with Lenora constantly second-guessing Porter and Porter not understanding Lenora’s uncertainty and resenting that she is not always open with him or others about their relationship and that he is always on the defensive.

Just as relevant today as it was when it was first published in 2001.

Haven’t read any of these? Do yourself a favour and one-click ASAP.

 

Review: The Shooting by James Boice

theshootingcoverfinalThe Shooting by James Boice is one of those books that overwhelms your every sense. With its focus firmly set on America’s pervasive gun culture, The Shooting takes on what leads up to and the consequences of what happens when a young man is shot by a paranoid man with a guns.

Tightly written and almost uncomfortable to read at times, The Shooting forces readers to view the bruality and rawness of what makes Lee Fischer go from being a normal little boy longing for his father to come home to the wealthy, paranoid man with a gun in a penthouse who shoots the building superintendent’s sleepwalking son.

Don’t be put off by the rawness of the language, that is the beauty of The Shooting. Boice confronts the reader with bare bones honesty of his writing and his choice of subject. 

It’s not a feel-good novel. It’s a novel that confronts the reality of America today–a country where you are more likely to be shot simply for being the wrong color than for committing a crime, a country where the Second Amendment’s original intent has been bastardized. James Boice has an amazing writer’s voice, but it will not speak to everyone. Prepare to be challenged as you read. This is not a book for people who want escapism, but it’s a book which *should* be required reading for people sitting on both sides of the fence regarding gun control.

A must-read!

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My Christmas reading list

christmas tree

Photo credit: Kate Zaidova/unsplash.com

I love to escape into a good book. I think everyone who knows me is well aware of this fact. Sometimes I prefer books to people. This is especially true during the Christmas season. Usually, it’s a pretty stressful time at work and I just want to relax…but then there are all those Christmas things you have to do–like mingles and shopping and meeting family (which is not bad, though sometimes there are those who try your patience). That’s why I always have a book with me–you never know when you need a few minutes to yourself to simply…escape. 

And I love holiday love stories. Yes, I am kitschy like that. It doesn’t even need to be a romance, as long as people are falling in love and there’s a little snow and maybe even mistletoe, well that makes me happy. So here are some of titles I’ve already 1-clicked for my Kindle. Maybe they’ll whet your holiday romance appetite.

Wrapped-in-Red-slider1-280x376Wrapped in Red by Mika Jolie

Christmas is a time to be merry and bright. For Minka Montgomery, it’s anything but.

While Martha’s Vineyard bursts with festive lights and good cheer, a black shadow parades around and within Minka. With her Christmas spirit conspicuously absent, her marriage to Jason Montgomery has snowballed and is spiraling out of control. The weight of motherhood – and her new role as a wife – presses on her shoulders. Self-doubt creeps in and swiftly turns to hopelessness.
As her anxiety level rises, can she share what’s in her heart with her husband? Is there a branch of hope to hold on to? With Christmas only twelve days away, can she find her Christmas spirit and rediscover the true meaning of the season?

Festive Stocking Filled with Candycanes and Gingerbread Man

The Calum by Xio Axelrod

Calum, The (Noun)
1. fictional hero of best-selling romance novel, A Laird to Love
2. the perfect man

Twenty-six is too old to believe in fairytales, but tell that to Lovie’s roommate. Convinced she’ll find a real life version of her ultimate book boyfriend, Calum MacKenzie, Jo drags Lovie to the Scottish Highlands. Lovie’s no cynic *ahem* but she knows The Calum is a myth. A construct. A freaking unicorn! And there are warmer places to spend a winter vacation.

 

winters-tale-english-5.previewWinter’s Tale by Mark Helprin

Set in New York at the beginning and the end of the twentieth century, Winter´s Tale unfolds with such great narrative force and beauty that a reader can feel that its world is more real than his own. Standing alone on the page before the book begins are the words, I have been to another world, and come back. Listen to me. In that world, both winter and the city of New York (old and new) have the strength and character of protagonists, and the protagonists themselves move as if in a vivid dream. Though immensely complicated, the story is centered upon Peter Lake, a turn-of-the-century Irish burglar, and Beverly Penn, a young heiress whom he encounters in robbing her house, and who eventually will die young and in his arms. His love for her, and a gift of grace, will allow him after the most extraordinary and painful explorations and discoveries to stop time and bring back the dead. To follow him, his predecessors, his inheritors, and his companions is to experience one of the great stories of American literature.

Wrapped in Red NMWrapped in Red by Nana Malone and Sherelle Green

Two holiday romances for the price of one! 🙂

‘Tis the season for finding passion and rediscovering love… 

Mistletoe Mantra by Nana Malone

Returning to her Virginia hometown where her fiancé dumped her—years earlier on Christmas Eve—is making Nomi Adams croon the holiday blues. She needs to find the reclusive photographer who can advance her magazine career. However, Lincoln Porter’s on his own rescue mission this yuletide. Because during this season of love and renewal, Faith, Virginia, looks to be a place for second chances…

White Hot Holiday by Sherelle Green

A solo Caribbean vacation is college professor Sage Langley’s perfect escape from Christmas and all its merriment. But she has unexpected and thrilling company at Grayson Ellington’s luxurious vacation home: the sexy attorney himself! And her brother’s best friend—who has desired and longed for Sage for years—has fantasies and plans for a red-hot romance to chase away her winter doldrums.

comfort_and_joyComfort and Joy by Kristin Hannah

An oldie but still a goodie!

In this modern-day fairy tale, New York Times bestselling author Kristin Hannah gives us a very special gift: the heartwarming story of a woman at a crossroads, caught between two lives, who finds a second chance at happiness.

Joy Candellaro used to love Christmas more than any other time of the year. Now, as the holiday approaches, she finds herself at loose ends. Recently divorced and estranged from her sister, she can’t summon the old enthusiasm for celebrating. So without telling anyone, she buys a ticket and boards a plane bound for the rural Northwest.

Yet Joy’s best-laid plans go terribly awry. The plane crashes deep in the darkness of a forest. Miraculously, Joy and her fellow passengers walk away from the wreckage as the plane explodes. There, amid the towering trees, Joy makes a bold and desperate decision to leave her ordinary life behind and embark on an adventure…just for the holidays.

Daniel O’Shea has returned to the small town of Rain Valley, following the death of his ex-wife. Now he is a single father facing his son’s first Christmas without a mother. Six-year-old Bobby isn’t making it easy-the boy has closed himself off from the world, surrounding himself with imaginary friends.

When Joy and Bobby meet, they form an instant bond. Thrown together by fate, these wounded souls will be touched by the true spirit of Christmas and remember what it means to be a family.

Then a dramatic turn of events shows Joy the price of starting over. On a magical Christmas Eve she will come face-to-face with a startling truth. Now she must decide: In a time of impossible dreams and unexpected chances, can she find the faith to reach for the love she has found…and the new life only she believes in?

There are still more books on my Christmas reading list, so check back later this week for more ideas! And if you’re looking for gift ideas for the book nerd in your life, check out my suggestions here

 

Review: Boyfriend by Faye McCray

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BF Cover Final (Online)Boyfriend by Faye McCray

ISBN: 1508818142
Publisher: CreateSpace
Pages: 332 Paperback; 214 Kindle
Publication Date: 3/23/2015
Genre(s): New Adult, Multicultural, Romance, Literary
Intended for mature readers.

SYNOPSIS

Nate Best enrolled in college to escape a painful and complicated past. Together with his roommate, he parties more than he studies and sleeps with girls like it’s a Division I sport. When Kerry Wallace, an innocent young woman from a privileged background captures his interest, he jumps at the challenge. He eagerly denies all he ever was for the chance to be someone completely different with her. Before long, he starts to believe he can be. 

When Kerry’s best friend, Jayna Lavajo, sees right through his good boy façade, he is irrepressibly drawn to her. Unable to resist her wild beauty, unapologetic spirit and charm, he finds himself on the verge of destroying everything. Tangled in a web of lies, lust and deceit, Nate is finally forced to confront the past he tried so desperately to escape.

PURCHASE LINKS

Amazon
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REVIEW

I always like when I get to delve into the mind of a male character, especially when it’s a story about relationships. Boyfriend by Faye McCray gives you that opportunity. Nate wants to reinvent himself. He wants to put his difficult past behind him and thinks his relationship with Kerry, who comes from a very privileged background, will help him escape his past. Like so many social chameleons, he begins to believe in the version of himself he has created. But then he meets Kerry’s best friend, Jayna, and suddenly Nate cannot hide behind his carefully constructed facade. She sees through it and him better than anyone else, and it’s not long before Nate finds himself unable to resist being drawn to her free spirit.

Boyfriend is an interesting story of love and identity. Though I felt the beginning was slow going, the story soon picked up and I was able to empathise with Nate, even as he behaves badly. There were times when I wanted to scream at him (and Jayna) but that is always a good sign for me–it means the author has succeeded in getting me to feel something for her characters.  Boyfriend is not an easy story–if you don’t like stories about cheating, then this probably isn’t the story for you. But if you like stories about complicated relationships and what can be the impetus to someone thinking they want one person while longing for another, then you should definitely give Boyfriend a try.

While I enjoyed reading Boyfriend, I felt like it ended a little too abruptly. It would be interesting to revisit the characters and find out if Nate’s decisions lead him to becoming the person he thinks he wants to be.

My rating: 3.5 stars

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Review: Olivay by Deborah Reed

OlivayI stumbled upon Deoborah Reed’s Olivay thanks to fellow writer and Matera brainstormer, S.G. Redling. A few days ago, she mentioned it in a Facebook post, and it caught my eye. I loved the premise: a woman, widowed one year, brings home a stranger and spends the night with him–the next day bombs explode in Los Angeles, not far from where she lives–and the stranger she brought home may have saved her life…and he may have been involved.

Olivay is a literary thriller that–even with its very tight timeline–slowly unfurls, not rushing to reveal all its secrets. Even with the backdrop of the novel being set against a terrorist attack during the LA Marathon that is exacerbated by the Santa Ana winds and wildfire, Olivay tells more than just the story of a terrorist attack. It is the story of a woman struggling to emerge from her grief. It is the story of two people finding one another. It is the story of discovering that your marriage is not what you thought it was. It is the story of a murder and of reinventing oneself.

What I love about this novel is that both of the characters–Olivay and Henry–are so

Author Deborah Reed

Author Deborah Reed

marvelously flawed. Both are unreliable yet vulnerable. Sometimes both are so solicitous of one another and yet capable of cruelty. Olivay recounts at one point that both her husband and her mother accused her of being full of meanness. There are times when her behavior towards Henry seems to confirm this and yet, there are other times when she is so tender towards him–even when she begins to feel suspicious of his skittishness.

This is one of those pageturner novels–seriously, I had a hard time setting aside my Kindle because I didn’t want to stop reading. And it’ll have you guessing as you try to figure out Henry’s–and at times, Olivay’s–intentions. The descriptions–of the bombings and its aftermath are so rich and so powerful… Of course it will remind you at times of that surreal, disconnected and yet hypersensitive state many of us were in following the September 11th attacks and the Boston Marathon. Reed’s use of how the media reports misinformation and retractions is especially important to the plot and helps to increase the novel’s frenetic tension.

Olivay is a fantastic, thought-provoking novel to lose yourself in this summer. Make sure you get a friend to read it at the same time–you will want to discuss it as soon as you finish reading it!

Loved it!

My rating?

5_Star

Congratulations, Donna Tartt!

donna tarttThis year’s Pulitzer Prize recipients were announced and the winner of the fiction prize is Donna Tartt‘s novel, The Goldfinch. Congratulations, Donna!

I’ve had a bit of a love-hate relationship with Donna Tartt. It all started back when I was working on my MFA at Virginia Commonwealth University. Her first novel, The Secret History, had just been published, and everyone was talking about it. I was really looking forward to reading it–I’d read some of her short fiction and loved it, so I was certain I’d love The Secret History. Well, that didn’t really happen. Everyone else loved it. I hated it. I thought maybe I just wasn’t in the right frame of mind for it, so I set it aside and decided to give it another try later. So I waited…in fact, I waited six months and tried again. Nope, no dice. Still didn’t like it. I felt like I’d been duped. I thought the language was inauthentic, and I couldn’t suspend my disbelief to accept that anything like what was taking place in the novel was even possible. I shoved the book back into my bookshelf and forgot about it.

Fast forward a few years and I moved to Sweden. I was having a hard time finding any books in English that I really wanted to read and books in English were rather expensive for a very broke English teacher who was only working part-time. I was going through a box of old papers and found my copy of The Secret History, which I didn’t even remember packing. Out of desperation, I began reading it again. This time, though, I really enjoyed it. Perhaps it was the watery grey light of Swedish winter that lent itself to the book’s mood. Suddenly, I liked The Secret Historythough I never fell in love with it in the same way that many others did.

But I came to see that Donna Tartt‘s writing style was moody, lush and exquisite. When her next novel, The Little Friend, was published, I practically devoured it. It was such a riveting story…terrifying, compelling and a great example of modern Southern Gothic.

Now it’s been a while since The Goldfinch was published and, while I have it on my To Be Read List, I haven’t managed to get to it yet. Perhaps it’s time. It’s been on my Kindle long enough.

Three More Books to Read This Summer

You all know how much of a book nerd I am. I proudly fly my book nerd flag. 🙂 So while everyone else around me has been going clubbing or sailing or disappearing to summer houses or the Greek islands (and all those other things Stockholmers do when it’s summer), I’ve been working and reading. You may remember I took two weeks off in June, went to Italy, wrote and lived la dolce vita. Since then, I’ve been working, working, working and taking the occasional weekend trip. And all the while I’ve been reading. 🙂

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Cover of Love Minus Eighty by Will McIntosh

Love Minus Eighty – Will McIntosh

It’s been a while since I read any sci-fi novels. None has really jumped out at me. So I was really pleased when I heard about Love Minus Eighty through a Twitter connection. The story is set in a future version of New York where one’s love life is as closely monitored like a reality TV show and death isn’t always the end–especially if you’re an attractive woman on the right side of thirty. This addictive novel follows the stories of several interconnected characters as they try to figure out romantic love in an age where technology has taken over. This is not your usual sci-fi novel. It reads more like speculative literary fiction and is a real page-turner. I loved sinking my teeth into it, and I think you will too. The world presented is like Facebook on crack…no, more like Facebook on the most psychedelic drug you could imagine. Hats off to Will McIntosh for such a brilliantly written novel! This was the first time I’d ever read his work and I am already a fan. 🙂

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Cover of French Kissing by Catherine Sanderson

French Kissing – Catherine Sanderson

French Kissing is not a new book. It was originally published in 2009, but I only just heard about it a few weeks ago. I was thinking about booking a weekend trip to Paris and stumbled upon a short interview with Catherine Sanderson and her experiences as an expat living in France. And as an expat living in Stockholm, I always find it fun to read books about others wading in the murky waters of another country’s culture and unwritten rules of society. And Sally, French Kissing‘s heroine, is doing just that while also trying to raise her four-year-old daughter Lila and maintain an amicable relationship with her ex, the faithless Nico. While Nico has moved on with two other women, Sally hasn’t dated and decides it’s time to take the plunge and rejoin the dating market. She does so via Rendez-Vous, the French version of match.com. We follow Sally through a few dreadful dates, a few not-qute-right-but-nice-enough dates and all the while get an idea of what it’s like to date in a foreign language. Sanderson does a great job of giving the reader insight into how the French (and especially Parisians) date and what it’s like raising a bilingual child while also trying to maneuver as a newly single mum. Sally is an extremely likable character. She is definitely not an all-too perfect Mary Sue. And her journey from coupledom to singledom while looking for love is an addictive read!

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Cover of S.G. Redling’s Damocles

I first heard about the plot of Damocles during a Matera brainstorming session. I thought the story–of a crew on a one-way expedition into deep space mission to search for signs of extraterrestrial intelligence–was intriguing. I couldn’t wait for the book to finally come out, and it doesn’t disappoint. Linguist Meg Dupris and her crew have the daunting task of making first contact with the humanoid inhabitants of Didet, an earth-like planet with eternal sunlight. But first they must overcome the Didetos’ fear that the “earthers” are there as invaders…and they must find a way to communicate when there is no common language. The story moves quickly, with Meg and Loul, a Dideto who predicted that “aliens” would come, struggling to figure out how to interact and learn from one another–and realizing they have more in common than they think. What I really liked with Damocles is how the story is told from both Meg and Loul’s perspective. So we get a very interesting view of just how first contact might be. Two thumbs up!

OK! That’s it for now! Happy reading (and writing)!

Two books you really ought to read this summer

Cover of Monsoon Memories by Renita D'SilvaIn between all the work I’ve been doing (both for my job and for my fiction writing), I’ve managed to read a few books. Two books that really stood out were Monsoon Memories by Renita D’Silva and The French for Love by Fiona Valpy. These two amazing women are debut authors published by Bookouture, which is well on its way to becoming my favorite publishing company. So far, I’ve read four books published by this new kid on the block, and all four have been fantastic.

Both Monsoon Memories and The French for Love are beautifully written novels that have a way of conveying setting and description that is magical. And both novels feature such  stellar characterization that you’ll feel as though you know the characters inside and out.

 

Monsoon Memories tells the story of Shirin, an Indian woman who is estranged from her family and living an on-the-surface enviable life in London with her husband. Memories of her life in India, and why she was forced to leave, haunt her and a longing for her family and everything she left behind grows inside her. And while Shirin’s memories keep pulling her back into her past, in India her niece finds a photograph of the aunt she never knew and starts them on a path to dealing with painful secrets and ultimately coming to love and reconciliation. Full of gorgeously crafted settings and descriptions, you’ll be pulled into this lush novel. Renita paints the most beautiful images with a few, perfectly chosen words. Monsoon Memories is a book to fall in love with.

 

The cover of The French for Love by Fiona Valpy

The French for Love also deals with family secrets, leaving the past behind and taking a path of discovery. Gina, our protagonist, has every reason to leave England behind–she’s lost her dream job and  her boyfriend and then her favorite aunt dies, and then she finds out her aunt has left her what seems to be the solution to all her problems–a house in France. So Gina does what any self-respecting woman who’s longing for a change would do–she moves to France to start a new life. But…she hadn’t factored in the culture shock, the roof in need of repair, language gaffes or the family secrets that were supposed to remain buried. As Gina learns to navigate life in Bordeaux (sounds heavenly, doesn’t it?), she finds herself falling in love with Cédric, her dishy stonemason. Well…I won’t tell you the rest. You should just take my word and dive into this book. It’s a perfect summer read that will transport you away from the doldrums commuting or the usual rat race and have you longing to move to France and find a ramshackle house of your own.

So have I got you interested? Good! You should be. Both novels are amazing, and they are definitely on my list of must-reads for 2013. They are both five-star books for me.

 

 

5_Star