Review: In Black & White by Nia Forrester

Nia Forrester never fails to create realistic portrayals of love that I always find so beautifully written. She never disappoints. And this is definitely true in her latest, In Black & White

Set in a leafy suburb of Philadelphia, we’re immediate dropped into what is every parent’s nightmare–the disappearance of a child. In this case, it’s the disappearance of 18-month-old Samara, the daughter of interracial couple Noah and Dana. Samara’s abduction and the subsequent fallout around it mark the beginning of a fascinating story that is in parts mystery and a thoroughly modern story of a love on the rocks. 

Forrester is a master at crafting three-dimensional characters. Dana and Noah are no different. From the first chapter when we learn the status of their marriage, we are given a very realistic, sometimes heartbreaking, sometimes frustrating portrayal of a couple who come from different worlds. Noah is the product of privileged, old Pennsylvania money. Dana is his polar opposite–raised in a working-class neighbourhood in Baltimore by her grandmother and her older sister, she has struggled to get used to the life of privilege being Noah’s wife affords, especially since her skin color will always mark her as out of place in the world that Noah comes from. One of the aspects I loved about In Black & White is how Forrester deftly takes us through the couple’s history and its relevance to their separation. These snippets of their shared past help the reader understand who Dana and Noah were when they first met and what attracted them to one another as well as what has driven them apart. 

This is not a sugar-coated, fantasy-laden love story, so if that’s what you’re looking for, then this isn’t going to be the book for you. But if you’re in the mood for a very realistic look at a modern love and marriage, racial and socioeconomic differences (and how it can make or break a couple), and how the disappearance of a child can unveil secrets, then you’re going to love In Black & White.

Highly recommended! 5 stars.

FAA 2018: Delve deeper into Portraits in Flesh by M.W. Brown

Happy Thursday, everyone, and welcome to Day 4 of Foster an Author 2018! Today I’m sharing with you some teasers from M.W. Brown‘s Portraits in Flesh. Don’t forget to leave a comment to be a part of the giveaway–hurry! Tomorrow’s the last day to enter! 🙂 

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Intrigued? Get your copy now

Amazon: mybook.to/PortraitsofFleashCI

Other retailers: https://www.books2read.com/u/bOAJZN 

FAA 2018: Portraits in Flesh and other horror fiction by M.W. Brown

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Welcome to Day 3 of Foster an Author 2018! It’s a chilly but sunny autumn day here in Stockholm, Sweden–perfect day for a walk and coffee somewhere. But first, let’s take a closer look at M.W. Brown‘s Portraits in Flesh. I don’t know about you, but I love a good ghost story or creepy tale that has me jumping at things that go bump in the night. I think Portraits in Flesh is going to be just the thing for a dose or two of spookiness–especially since Halloween is just around the corner.

Don’t forget about the giveaway: not only are we giving away an ebook copy of Portraits in Flesh, we’re also giving away a $20 Amazon gift card! So how do you enter today? Write a comment telling us your favourite kind of spooky story. We’ll pick a winner at random on Friday, 26 October

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Portraits in Flesh

Published by Crazy Ink

Genre: Psychological Thriller/Horror

 

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Annabelle has discovered she can instantly transport herself to the destination on her satnav. Although ghost like when she travels, her remarkable ability takes her from England to France, Croatia and beyond.

As Annabelle explores her potential it puts her life and the lives of those she loves in danger and leads her into the path of an enigmatic and intelligent serial killer.

What will he do if he discovers Annabelle’s ability?

Some places were never meant to be visited.

 

 

More horror from M. W. Brown

FULL METAL HORROR: A Monstrous Anthology 

Published by Zombie Pirate Publishing Apr 2018

Genre: Horror

Screenshot 2018-10-24 at 11.02.58There’s something right behind you… You can feel its rancid breath on your neck, smell the blood dripping from its wicked fangs, sense its anticipation as you walk further from the house, confidently telling yourself you have no reason to fear the dark, that there is nothing there. You fight the urge to turn, fight the impulse to run, fight to keep your pace steady, but you are losing the battle. The monster is right behind you, and nothing you do can save you now. This is FULL METAL HORROR: A Monstrous Anthology, thirty-five horrifying short stories from authors around the world, packed full of deadly monsters. Just remember, don’t turn around…

Includes Serious Moonlight by M W Brown

Margaret didn’t want to become a woman. At least as a child the lecherous Lord kept his distance. But innocent times never last.

As Margaret walked into the woods that day, she was unaware that her transition into womanhood would bring more than one unwanted visitor and it would spawn two very different tales that would be told for centuries to come.

Graveyard Girls

Published by Hellbound Books Jun 2018

Genre: Horror

Screenshot 2018-10-24 at 10.56.51 A delicious collection of horrific tales and darkest poetry from the cream of the crop, all lovingly compiled by the incomparable Gerri R Gray!

Nestling between the covers of this formidable tome are twenty-five of the very best lady authors writing on the horror scene today! These tales of terror are guaranteed to chill your very soul and awaken you in the dead of the night with fear-sweat clinging to your every pore and your heart pounding hard and heavy in your laboured breast…

Featuring stories from: Xtina Marie, MW Brown, Rebecca Kolodziej, Anya Lee, Barbara Jacobson, Gerri R Gray, Christina Bergling, Julia Benally, Olga Werby, Kelly Glover, Lee Franklin, Linda M. Crate, Vanessa Hawkins, P. Alanna Roethle, J. Snow, Evelyn Eve, Serena Daniels, S.E. Davis, Sam Hill, J.C. Raye, Donna J.W. Munro, R.J. Murray, C. Bailey-Bacchus, Varonica Chaney and Marian Finch.

Includes Dead Lines by M W Brown

 

An old woman and a nondescript man, both ruthless killers. Who will survive when there are deadlines to meet and contracts to keep? 

Coming soon from M.W. Brown

Bloody Bonkers: A Crazy Ink Anthology

Screenshot 2018-10-24 at 10.53.23It takes all kinds of crazy to keep the prisons filled up. The line between sanity and insanity can be threaded with the thinnest strings. Sometimes, walking that edge takes stepping into the madness…

Stories with varying degrees of criminal insanity and one common theme – exploring the crimes committed in the heat of passion.

How far would you go with love on the line? Who and what would you kill for? What’s the difference between temporary and forever insanity? How far would you be willing to travel into madness for justice?
With something for everyone, Bloody Bonkers will lock you into the delicious mayhem that causes the bloodiest of heated crimes

Includes Chalk by M W Brown 

A great teacher can set your world on fire…

Don’t forget to tell us about your favourite kind of spooky story for a chance to win an ebook copy of Portraits in Flesh and a $20 Amazon gift card!

Hurry — you only have until Friday to win! Happy Reading

Getting to know…Cat Hogan

We’re back with another instalment of Getting to Know… Today, we have Irish author Cat Hogan with us. Her novel They All Fall Down came out in July, and I’ve just added it to my TBR/1Click list. If you like novels about love and obsession, then you should do the same. Cat lives in County Wexford in Ireland with her partner Dave and her two sons Joey and Arthur, loves storytelling, and has a cat with the cool name of Jim Hawkins (I’m guessing this cat is a bit of an adventurer like his namesake in Treasure Island). So pour yourself a cup or glass of your favourite beverage, make yourself comfortable and let’s get to know Cat Hogan! 

13124599_10153655434767549_3085583176196253113_nCat, I have to tell you that I love the cover of They All Fall Down. It’s on my TBR list and I’ll probably dive into it this weekend. It sounds like my cuppa tea. So tell me, which titles are on your must-read list this year?

The Glorious Heresies by Lisa McInerney. I can’t wait to get my hands on this. Lying in Wait by Liz Nugent. This was one of the most anticipated releases in Ireland this year. Published by Penguin in July, it didn’t disappoint. It was number one best seller for quite some time. The book certainly lived up to the promo and the hype. Liz is an exquisite writer.

There are so many amazing titles out there.

Now I am intrigued! I will have to add these titles to my TBR list as well. They All Fall Down is out and it’s getting great reviews.  Are you taking a writing vacation to recharge your creative batteries, or have you already begun working on a new book? 

At the moment, I am working on two!

Two? I’m impressed! I have a hard time concentrating on writing one book. Can you give us a sneak peek? 🙂

One of the two is a standalone and the other is a sequel (of sorts) to They All Fall Down. The plot is evolving as I go on these two- particularly the follow up, but what I can tell you is I am wandering around souks and alleyways in Marrakesh, drinking mint tea and getting up to no good.

The standalone, at the moment, revolves around a not so tough guy who’s past is about to catch up with him in a very strange sequence of events.

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Cat Hogan

Ooh! Now you’ve got me hooked. I’ll probably start bugging you about your writing progress so I know when they’ll be launching! Now, I think every writer has a favourite place to write. Where is yours? Do you write at home or do you go to a local café or someplace like that?

My current hide away for writing is in my local library. I don’t have the luxury of an office space and trying to write at the kitchen table with my two boys running around, is not always conducive to creativity. I usually end up running around with them- an avoidance technique. The library in my home county of Wexford is a beautiful space and the staff are all fantastic. It’s a community.

So what’s your typical writing day like?

A routine for me is hard to achieve. My older boy, Joey (11), returned to school last week and Baby Arthur(3), has just started in Montessori. This frees me up and I go straight to the library until about 2pm. After that, I come home and do the Mammy thing for the afternoon. I pick up the writing again when my boys are asleep. It doesn’t always pan out like this but I tend not to stress over it either.

I know what you mean. I’ve been trying to fit my writing time around my work schedule and it’s not always easy. If I’m having a hard time writing, I end up working on an inspiration board to help me visualise the characters and settings. What about you? Do you look for images of actors or actresses as inspiration for your lead characters, or do you find inspiration elsewhere?

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Aidan Gillen

When I wrote They All Fall Down, I pictured Aidan Gillen’s face for Scott. It’s funny, the initial inspiration for me comes from location and sometimes a lyric in a song but when you hit a certain point in the story, the characters take over and tell the story for you.

I think a lot of people have this idea that being a writing is easy, and we both know it’s not. What do you think is the most difficult part of being a writer? How do you deal with it?

The most difficult part for me is trying to establish a writing routine around my boys and home life. The process happened very quickly for me. I finished the first draft in June 2015 and by November,I had a two book publishing deal. They All Fall Down was released in July- meaning lots of promo and events. Book 2 is due back with the publishers this month!! It’s a real juggling act.

What is your favorite part of being a writer? 

The freedom. The idea that you can be anything or go anywhere in the world while sitting at your desk. I always loved reading and writing, from the time I was a small child, but the reality was, I never really knew what I wanted to do with my life. Two degrees and my own business later, the penny finally dropped.

Last question: what was the best piece of writing advice you ever received?

Just keep writing. Write the book you want to write, and believe in yourself.

Thanks so much to Cat Hogan for joining us today! Make sure you add They All Fall Down to your TBR or 1click it today. Don’t forget to connect with Cat on Facebook, Twitter and Goodreads

5 books to read if that 4th of July cookout is boring…

Screen Shot 2016-07-02 at 23.16.45It’s a long weekend for all my Canadian and American friends–Happy Birthday, Canada and USA!–and that means cookouts…and as nice as they are, you know you’re going to need to escape and recharge your social batteries. (Let’s face it, all of bookworms go through this. We need time, space…and then we can deal with people again.) Instead of hiding in the den or the basement and watching TV (you know they’ll find you there!), load up your tablet or e-reader with some summer reads and find a good hiding place–don’t forget to grab a huge glass of wine or something.

Screen Shot 2016-07-02 at 21.47.43  I met Estelle Ryan in Matera last year and have had her Genevieve Lenard series on my TBR list for a while. If you like thrillers and art heists, then The Gauguin Connection could be your cup of tea. It’s the first book in a 9-part series  and it’s free, so you can try it out risk-free. So what’s it about? Here’s the synopsis:

Murdered artists. Masterful forgeries. Art crime at its worst.

As an insurance investigator and world renowned expert in nonverbal communication, Dr Genevieve Lenard faces the daily challenge of living a successful, independent life. Particularly because she has to deal with her high functioning Autism. Nothing – not her studies, her high IQ or her astounding analytical skills – prepared her for the changes about to take place in her life.

It started as a favour to help her boss’ acerbic friend look into the murder of a young artist, but soon it proves to be far more complex. Forced out of her predictable routines, safe environment and limited social interaction, Genevieve is thrown into exploring the meaning of friendship, expanding her social definitions, and for the first time in her life be part of a team in a race to stop more artists from being murdered.

Screen Shot 2016-07-02 at 21.44.15More in the mood in the mood for a love story? How about four friends-to-lovers stories? Then make sure you check out Because My Heart Said So: a friends-to-lovers collection by Nia Forrester, Jacinta Howard, Lily Java and Rae Lamar? I’m nearly done reading it and I can vouch for it being an excellent summer read! I’ll be posting a review soon. Here’s a little something to get you interested: 

Four Stories. Four Authors. For Love.

“Acceptable Losses” by Nia Forrester: Quentin is in the middle of a separation from his wife that seems to have no conclusive end in sight, while Lena is stuck in Single Girl Hell. The only respite either of them have is their regular coffee dates, while working on shared projects at a very demanding job. Sick of hearing about Lena’s semidisastrous attempts to couple-up, Quentin decides to fix her up. With his brother. Seems like a perfect solution; after all, his brother is a decent enough guy and Lena deserves that. Perfect … until it appears that the fix-up might actually work.

“Blind Expectations” by Jacinta Howard: Aristotle once said the only thing constant in life is change. Or was that Confucius? Whatever. People are fluid—they come into your life for a while, and when it’s time for them to float on, Leah has no qualms waving goodbye. The only exception is her neighbor and best friend, Trevor. When all else fails in her crazy world, Trevor is always there, reliable, steady… real. But then one night a heated argument leads to a revelation that shakes Leah to the core. Suddenly, Leah is forced to make a choice. But will her heart survive her decision?

“Blackbirds” by Lily Java: Once upon a time Sydney Tarr and Elliott Vance were friends: fast friends, ride or die, pledge of allegiance, take it to the mat, “friends”. And the fact that Sydney loved her friend more than she should didn’t matter until finally… one unusual and spectacular night, it did. It mattered very much. Still, not every story is a fairy tale is it? Friends do part — sometimes forever — but, not always.

“Blur” by Rae Lamar: Jade Warner is back home. The bad part? Starting over. The best part? Reconnecting with Kyle Malone. Picking up where they left off years ago, it feels just like old times…except for the mutual attraction and questionable feelings, which are all brand new. For Jade and Kyle, it’s unthinkable to hook up given the history of their fail-safe friendship, but anything can happen when you live under the same roof…

Screen Shot 2016-07-02 at 22.13.07Now, after reading sexy love stories, another thriller will do you good. And Death at the Duomo by Ann Reavis is set in my favourite place–Italy. Ann used to live in Florence, Italy, where the novel is set, and she knows the city like the back of her hand, which means you’ll feel like you’re walking the streets of Florence as you read. So what’s it about?

An explosion rips through the Easter festival in front of the Duomo in Florence, Italy, but no one claims responsibility. The vicitms are not only Florentine, but also visitors from throughout the world. The security forces of Europe and the United States join together to hunt down the killers.

Caterina Falcone, a Florentine investigator, and Max Turner, an agent from the U.S. Embassy, team up to find out why an American student was at the cathedral when the bomb exploded. Max hunts a bomber who sows death around the globe. Inspector Falcone believes the identity of the perpetrator can be found close to home. Together they race across Tuscany to stop a killer before more people die.

Screen Shot 2016-07-02 at 22.34.26After reading Death in the Duomo, you’ll probably be in the mood again for a love story. So travel north to Stockholm and give the Stockholm Diaries: Caroline by Rebecca Hunter a try. I’ve read all three books in the series and loved them. I think you will too. Check out the review I wrote for it. 

A pro hockey player with a rough reputation.
An American looking for a taste of adventure.
A chance to turn an intense attraction into something more.

Photographer Caroline Mendoza finally sheds her safe life in Michigan for adventure and a fresh start, and her first stop is Sweden. But Stockholm suddenly becomes more than just a casual stopover when Caroline discovers her reclusive next-door neighbor is ex-Red Wings player Niklas Almquist, whose high-profile alpha bad-boy image, both on and off the ice, has followed him back to Sweden.

While Niklas’s darker side draws her to him, she knows the sensible decision is to move on from Stockholm before she gets too attached. Her time in Stockholm is running out. She must choose between what is safe and what her heart tells her is right. Is she strong enough to take the risk?

Screen Shot 2016-07-02 at 23.03.49After all this love, maybe you’re in the mood for something post-apocalyptic? Alyssa Cole’s Radio Silence— the first book in the Off the Grid series–could be just what you need. 

No one expects the apocalypse.

Arden Highmore was living your average postgrad life in Rochester, New York, when someone flipped the “off” switch on the world. No cell phones, no power, no running water—and no one knows why. All she and her roommate, John, know for sure is that they have to get out, stat. His family’s cabin near the Canadian border seemed like the safest choice.

It turns out isolation doesn’t necessarily equal safety.
When scavengers attack, it’s John’s ridiculously handsome brother, Gabriel, who comes to the rescue. He saves Arden’s life, so he can’t be all bad…but he’s also a controlling jerk who treats her like an idiot. Now their parents are missing and it seems John, Gabriel, their kid sister, Maggie, and Arden are the only people left alive who aren’t bloodthirsty maniacs.

No one knows when—or if—the lights will come back on and, in the midst of all that, Arden and Gabriel are finding that there’s a fine line indeed between love and hate. How long can they expect to last in this terrifying new world, be it together or apart?

These are just a few of my suggestions for summer reads. Check back next week–I’ll tell you which 5 new releases I’ll be reading reading now that July is heating up Stockholm!

Don’t forget to tell me which books are on your must-read list for July! 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

Getting to know Michele Kimbrough

Time for another edition of Getting to know… Today, we meet fellow indie author Michele Kimbrough. Michele and I came into contact last year when both of us were going through a bout of writing malaise.  We’ve been cheering each other on every since. I had the chance to read Michele’s latest release, Dangerously in Love, a great film noir-esque story. (Make sure you add it to your TBR List or 1-click it ASAP!) I thought it would be fun to to get know Michele a little better. Let’s see what she has in store for us. 🙂 

 

Do you have a favorite place to write?

I started out writing at Starbucks and Panera Bread (very comfy seating). But one day, I was lying in bed ill but had an idea for a plot twist. So I grabbed my laptop, propped myself up on my bed and wrote. That was the most comfortable writing I’d ever done. So, now, I am often found sitting on my bed writing.

Book Cover - DILTell us about your latest release, Dangerously in Love. What inspired this book?

I’m in love with this story. Two things inspired this story. The first thing was an FBI case I read about. I thought it was so outlandish that it might make a great fictional story. That same day, I watched an old favorite movie of mine. Then I was struck by inspiration. 

I think my faithful readers tell what Dangerously in Love is about best. So I’m going to let them tell it: 

Bookclub Reader said, “The main characters are Hill and Caitlin. After a case Hill was working on went south, he decided to change his profession as a lawyer and became a landscaper. Also during this life change he became disengaged in his relationship with long-time love Samantha. Caitlin was on a journey of lust, deception, and revenge to make those responsible pay for the tragedy brought upon her family.” 

Journalist Reader said, “When we open up the book, we meet Ms. Caitlin stumbling into the gruesome scene of a triple homicide. One which almost found her caught up in it as well. Skip ahead a few years, and now Caitlin is the beautiful and desirable wife of a “Suge Knight” type husband named Adam. Adam hires an attractive landscaper named Hill. Hill flirts, from a distance, with Catlin and catches the swiftest, quickest, most thorough asskicking ever. That still didn’t stop the two from having some of the steamiest, hottest and riskiest sex ever.”

Are you a plotter or a pantser? Could you describe your writing process for us?

I’m most certainly a pantser but I never start a story until I know who the characters are and what the major plot points will be. Then I fly by the seat of my pants, allowing the characters to drive, until midway through the story. At that point, I outline the remainder of the story. 

By the halfway point, the characters are fleshed out, their antics have roots and I need a roadmap to direct them to the conclusion. 🙂 I usually have seven drafts by the time the manuscript is ready for the editor.

Which three authors would you love to meet for a good gab session? Why those three writers? What do you think you’d talk about and where would you want the gab session to take place?

I’d love to chat it up with Stephen King, Harlan Coben and Walter Mosley at a bar and grill over shots of tequila and burgers. These writers are masters at what they do and I’d love to just sit with them and have a casual meal to hear how their creative mind works.

Author Michele Kimbrough

Author Michele Kimbrough

What’s the hardest part about being a writer?

I think the hardest part for me is managing my expectations. When I’m promoting, I have great expectations that people will flock to Amazon and one-click my books, ascending them to the bestseller lists. On the flip side, when my books go live on Amazon, my stomach tightens and my heart races. Why? Because I’m often petrified of what people are going to think of my stories – fearing I’d get a bunch of hate mail telling me to keep my day job, which, by the way, is writing news articles.

Do you listen to music when you write? If so, could you share your playlist with us?

I will listen to music before I write for inspiration or to set the mood/emotion for me. However, I cannot write with music playing. It’s too distracting. I get lost in the lyrics and my mind shifts from writing to listening. My playlist is quite varied, from classical to country to R&B.

What are three things you’ve learned since you first began publishing? Is there anything you’d do differently if you could do it all over again?

(1) Ego has no place in writing — it only serves to stifle you. (2) Lose the expectations (as I explained earlier). (3) Have fun. If you aren’t having fun, then you aren’t enjoying it. And if you aren’t enjoying it, that energy will transfer to the page and your readers will feel it. Not a good look. 

If I could do it over, I’d make sure I understood for certain what genre I wanted to focus on (not necessarily exclusively but if my readers were to describe me, they’d know what genre to associate me with). I’d also write under a pen name.

Which of your books would you recommend to someone who is new to your writing? Do you have a particular favourite? If so, why is it your favorite?

So far, each of my books are quite different and fall in different subgenres. If you like a really fast paced book, I recommend Dangerously in Love. If you like high drama, I recommend Prudence. If you love a good unexpected twist, you’ll enjoy Wildflower. My favorite is Wildflower because of the subject matter and family dynamics. I love the characters and how they interact with each other.

What’s next for you? Are there any new publications in the pipeline? If so, could you tell us about them?

Currently, I’m writing a story that was originally intended for readers between 9 and 12 years old. However, as I get deeper into the story, I believe this story will resonate with readers 12 and older. I expect that it will be ready for publishing by the end of Summer.

Connect with Michele Kimbrough

Website

Facebook

Twitter

Goodreads

Amazon

 

 

Making my winter reading list

It’s November–which means NaNoWriMo month for me. I’ll be writing like crazy (and posting chapters on my author site), but I’ll also be getting cozy and reading. So what will I be reading? I am so glad you asked! Since we’re creeping closer and closer to the Christmas season (yes, I am well aware that it was *just* Halloween a few days–but it will soon be Thanksgiving and First Advent and you know how the days fly by), I’ve made a list of what I’ll be reading to get in the holly-jolly spirit *and* what I’ll be reading for the sheer pleasure of it. So here goes…

Holiday Reads

Secret SantaSecret Santa – Scarlett Bailey

A Christmas to Remember – Jenny Hale

The French for Christmas – Fiona Valpy

Screen Shot 2014-11-03 at 09.28.09Snow Angels, Secrets & Christmas Cake – Sue Watson

The Reluctant Elf – Michele Gorman

Sweet Christmas Kisses: Fourteen Sweet Christmas Romances – Beate Boeker, Donna Fasano and a host of other writers

 

On My Kindle Now

Screen Shot 2014-11-03 at 09.32.29Didn’t Mean to Love You – Christina C. Jones

Fear of Heights – Mara White

The Secret Place – Tana French

 

On My Preorder List

Screen Shot 2014-11-03 at 09.34.13Chasing Moments – Tia Kelly

It’s Not Me, It’s You – Mhairi McFarlane

Winter’s Tale – Mark Helprin

 

That’s it for today–there will probably be more books added to my Winter Reading List, so  check back often!

Happy reading! 🙂

 

 

Summer Reads – 2014 Edition

It’s summer–though you wouldn’t know it here in Stockholm with its cloudy skies and days so chilly I am still wearing a sweater. When can I expose my toes to the elements? Is it even worth investing in a pedicure when it’s not proper sandal-wearing weather? Ah well… at least I have my summer reading to look forward to, and I’ve already started with a few books I’ve had on my To Be Read List for a while.

Me-Without-You-Kelly-RimmerMe Without You  – Kelly Rimmer

I received an ARC of Me Without You from Bookouture, who’ve quickly become one of my favorite publishers. So far, every book I’ve read from their authors has packed an emotional punch or had that smart vein of humor I appreciate. Kelly Rimmer’s Me Without You is in the “packs an emotional punch” category.

Lilah & Callum are a case of opposites attracting. Lilah is an environmental lawyer whose quirkiness and love of going barefoot initially do not attract Callum, a workaholic who has put his career before his social life. But it doesn’t take long for sparks to fly and for Callum to realize that he is hopelessly in love with Lilah. Their story starts with the perfect “meet cute” and progresses into the story of the progression of their relationship, not an easy feat for two people who say they do not want or have time for commitment. But neither is prepared for just how much they will change one another. Well, I won’t give away any details. All I can say is you must read this book. And it’s true–if you loved One Day by David Nicholls, I’m pretty sure you’ll also love Me Without You.

Heres Looking At You Cover

Here’s Looking at You – Mhairi McFarlane

I absolutely loved Mhairi McFarlane’s You Had Me at Hello, so I was jump-up-and-down excited when I heard she had a new novel out. Here’s Looking at You tells the story of two former classmates, outcast Anna Alessi and the über cool James Fraser. Back in high school, Anna had a crush on James and, when he finally paid attention to her, she had no way of knowing it would lead to her being humiliated in such a way that it continues to eat away at her self-esteem. Fast forward to their high school reunion. Anna has a job she loves but her social life is a bit of a dud and she’s ready to give up on dating. And just when she thinks she can’t possibly go on another dismal online date, James Fraser walks back into her life and he appears to be a changed man. Should she trust him? You’ll have to read the book to find out. 😉

Loved that this story was told from both Anna and James’s POV. It’s a quick read that’s funny, intelligent and romantic. I give it two thumbs up!

Love-Lies-and-Lemon-Cake-Sue-Watson

Love. Lies & Lemon Cake – Sue Watson

Another ARC I received from Bookouture and this one falls under the fun category. Love, Lies & Lemon Cake is a story about second chances at life and love. Faye always wanted a life of adventure but she had to set her dreams aside when she unexpectedly became pregnant while in college. She long to recapture the woman she used to be–and being in a job that leaves her unfulfilled and being unhappily married to a man who she can’t remember ever really loving isn’t helping matters. And then she meets Dan, a gorgeous Australian surfer who works at her local deli and just happens to be a great baker.

Faye decides to take a chance and live the sort of life she always wanted, even if it means leaving her husband so that she can recapture her sparkle and embark on a relationship with someone new. Love, Lies & Lemon Cake is a heartwarming story about the curveballs life can throw you and what happens when you stop doing what is expected of you and start doing what makes you happy.

Jojo Moyes One Plus One Cover

The One Plus One – Jojo Moyes

I’ve been a big fan of Jojo Moyes’s books ever since I read Me Before You (if you haven’t read it yet, do so NOW). I absolutely loved that book and I am sure Hollywood will sink its claws into it and absolutely ruin it, but it will never destroy my love of Me Before You. Now Jojo Moyes is back with The One Plus One, which I read while I was on vacation in Palma de Mallorca, Spain. This is another classic “opposites attract” tale with a twist.

You have Jess, a scrappy single mom who is struggling to make ends meet and help her children, quirky math whiz Tanzie and Goth stepson Nicky, survive the council estate where they live. Jess cleans houses when she isn’t waitressing at the local pub. One night she ends up helping Ed Nicholls–a man whose life looks perfect on the surface but a stupid mistake has put him on the brink of losing everything–and this chance encounter links them in a way neither expected. Heartbreaking, emotionally driven and full of wonderful character development, it’s a story that doesn’t let go. It’s not a beach read; this is a novel that you want to be able to read when no one will disturb you. Send your kids out to play, give your hubby endless errands to run and sink into this book.

Addicted Zane

Addicted – Zane

I don’t I’d ever read anything by Zane prior to beginning Addicted other than the blog she used to maintain. I’d always said I’d read one of her books but never really got around to it. Then I saw a trailer for the movie based on Addicted and it looked intriguing. A woman struggling with her addiction to sex and the threat giving in to her desires has on her marriage…and her life. Love it so far and I am only about a third of the way through the book.

My only beef at the moment has nothing to do with Zane’s writing and *everything* to do with the publisher trying to rebrand this book like it’s a Fifty Shades of Grey wannabe. C’mon, Atria, the red tie in focus? A total copy of the grey tie from Fifty Shades (one of the worst books I’ve ever read, by the way) and Addicted doesn’t need to be rebranded like an EL James rip-off when this book was published way before EL James even started writing erotica.

On My TBR List

The AffairThe Affair – Tia Kelly

From the blurb:

For every secret, there’s a lie.

In her novella The Affair, Tia Kelly takes the reader where married men aren’t supposed to go… into another woman’s bed.

 

Finding Forever

Finding Forever – Christina C. Jones

From the blurb:

After her latest ill-fated attempt to find a forever relationship of her own, Tori Kennedy is content with connecting the dots for others, bringing them together in pursuit of lifetime love. Fresh off of the demise of her marriage, she decides to take advantage of an opportunity to do something a little — okay, a lot — crazy, and heavily fueled by an overload of emotions.

Thinking that her impulsive decision and its disastrous results are behind her, Tori moves forward with her pursuit of a happily single existence, until her best friend contacts her with a request that places a constant reminder in her life : Avery.

Avery Anderson is the epitome of “the kind of guy your momma warned you about.” Handsome, successful, charming… and not at all interested in being roped into anything that resembles love. Tori ending up in his bed doesn’t surprise him at all — it’s just what he does— but his feelings afterwards? That’s another story. An ultimatum placed on him by his little sister puts him back in arm’s reach of the pretty matchmaker that he can’t get off of his mind, but she’s not taking the bait this time.

Tori just wants to be rid of him so that she can move on with her life, and it’s not Avery’s style to chase someone who doesn’t want to be caught. When both parties are content to let the spark flicker out, can love — or something like that— still lead the way to forever?

Redemption Key

Redemption Key – S.G. Redling

From the blurb:

Her narrow escape from blue-eyed assassin Tom Booker has made former data analyst Dani Britton question all of her choices—like trusting “good guys” who carry badges. On the run and haunted by the government-sanctioned massacre of her coworkers, Dani finally settles in remote Redemption Key, Florida, at a bar where strong drinks and shady deals are the norm.

The bar owner, a local operator with a past of his own, gives Dani a job, no questions asked, and soon Dani’s ability to “read” the sketchy characters doing business at the bar proves invaluable. The libations flow, and the Key’s laid-back vibe and warm waters start doing their therapeutic work. But as the mercury rises, a twisted deal starts to go down—threatening to take Dani with it. Like sharks smelling blood, players on both sides of the law circle for the kill. And when charming apex predator Booker joins the frenzy, he may turn out to be the only one on Dani’s side.

 

Happy reading! 🙂

Some books on my 2014 Want To Read list

I thought today was going to be a very productive writing day, but it’s turned into a stare-out-the-window-and-daydream day. Going out for a walk didn’t help. I went to my local café (where I usually write at the weekend) but it was too noisy. Someone please tell parents to give their kids headphones if they are going to allow them to watch movies in a public place. It’s really annoying when the kids have the volume up so loud that you can’t concentrate. Several people asked the parents to turn down the volume, but the parents only replied, “But the kids are having so much fun…” Hmm…so much for teaching your kids to show consideration to others. I’m sure those kids were having fun, but that doesn’t mean the parents couldn’t adjust the volume to a more acceptable level. Grrr!

Anyway, enough about silly parents who try too hard to be their kids’ best friends, I’d much rather talk about books I want to read. And today I thought I’d post a list of some of the books I am looking forward to reading in 2014.

Screen Shot 2014-01-11 at 23.20.47The Fortune Hunter – Daisy Goodwin: Ever since I was a little girl, I’ve loved reading anything about Empress Sissi of Austria. Goodwin’s soon-to-be-published novel revolves around the love affair of the empress and cavalry captain Bay Middleton.

I’ve already pre-ordered this for my Kindle, and I will also order a hardback copy. I loved Goodwin’s debut novel, The American Heiress (also known as My Last Duchess) and I’ve been looking forward to her new novel.

If you like historical fiction, make sure you add The Fortune Hunter to your Want to Read list on Goodreads.

Screen Shot 2014-01-11 at 23.43.15Cress – Marissa Meyer: I usually prefer standalone novels but Marissa Meyer’s Lunar Chronicles is a page-turning roller coaster ride that takes some of the fairy tales we grew up with and sets them in a dystopian world… well, I love them.

Cress takes the story of Rapunzel and has her trapped on a satellite, held prisoner by an evil queen. I’ve just ordered it for my Kindle. I think this will be one of my February reads. Now the Lunar Chronicles series is originally a YA book that has become a crossover hit. Check out Marissa Meyer’s website for a sneak peek. I think you’ll like it.

Screen Shot 2014-01-12 at 00.01.07The Widow File – S.G. Redling: I’ve already downloaded The Widow File for my Kindle. It’s a juicy techno thriller written by a fellow brainstormer S.G. Redling and, as always, she doesn’t disappoint with her fast-paced story about a data analyst who may or may not have some very sensitive information in her possession that people are willing to kill for.

Snappy, tight and exciting–and I’m only 100 pages into the book. I think I’ll get lost in it tomorrow. I love a good thriller. 🙂

That’s it for now! You know this list is a work in progress, so there will definitely be more books to come!

Happy reading!