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)!

Mid-afternoon ramblings and wishing Abigail and Karen had new books out…

Found at zazzle.com, not sure who made it but it's definitely true for me. :)

Found at zazzle.com, not sure who made it but it’s definitely true for me. 🙂

The last few weeks have been hectic, to say the least. It’s left me feeling a little worn out, a little less writerly (which is not good) and in need of being out in the sun (which is good, but also not good). So while I struggle to finish revising and formatting and all the other various things on my to-do list, I’ve been thinking about two of my favorite writers–Abigail Bosanko and Karen Siplin–and wishing they’d come out with new books.

Now, I know they both have their own lives to think about and they are just as super-busy as I’ve been, but I still wish they would send me an email and say, “Guess what, Kim! Our new books are coming soon–in fact, in just a matter of weeks.” Oh, that would make me so happy. And these days it’s easy to make me happy–especially if it also involves a perfectly chilled glass of dry rosé wine and sitting outdoors.

So, Abigail and Karen, please let me (and your other fans) know–is there something new in the works? Will we be able to read it soon? 😀

Simona, I borrowed this from your blog. :) Photo: Simona Ahrnstedt

Simona, I borrowed this from your blog. 🙂 Photo: Simona Ahrnstedt

On the plus side (for me since I can read Swedish), Simona Ahrnstedt–the Swedish romance author I interviewed a while back–has a new book out called De Skandalösa. Going to pick it up this weekend! And everywhere I look in Stockholm I find adverts for her new book–and they’ve crowned her Sweden’s Queen of Romance. Nice! 🙂

But now…Abigail, Karen and Simona…the three of you really ought to come to Matera at the end of September for the Women’s Fiction Festival so we could all finally meet and talk about writing and what you’re working on and I can bore you with talking about my WIP. 🙂 And we can sip white wine in Piazza del Sedile and figure out life, the universe and all that jazz…and somewhere along the line we’ll write. 🙂

OK, now I have to get back to work. 🙂

Happy reading (and writing)!

Coming soon…a website for Kim the author

Not sure who created this--but thank you! :)

Not sure who created this–but thank you! 🙂

It’s May Day–a much-needed dayoff from work when I am supposed to be protesting and marching according to Swedish tradition, but really all I’ve done is take care of things I don’t normally have time to do. At least I’ve done four useful things : go to a meeting with the election team for my tenants association, take care of a load of laundry, take a walk and file my Swedish income tax. At the weekend, I’ll file my US income tax form. (One of the good things about living overseas is that we have a tax filing extension until June.)

I’m getting closer to that point where I think one of my novels will be set free to the great, wide world. And it makes me think I need to have a separate website for my books and then this blog for writing reviews. I’ll still write about writing and what I’m reading here. But anything related to the books I publish will be on the website instead. Going to fix a domain and then link the website to the blog. I’ll probably fix it so you can order the books via the website as well.

Anyway, that’s today’s post. Happy May Day! 🙂

And happy reading (and writing)!

My Spring 2013 reading list

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No blossoms yet in Stockholm, but soon!

Spring has finally arrived in Stockholm, Sweden–the air is getting warmer, the ice on Brunnsviken has finally melted, I could actually go out without a thick scarf and hat on. You know what that means–now I get to tell you what books I plan on reading (or am already reading).

So what’s on the list this time? One oldie and lots of new books. 🙂

  • The Mating Rituals of the North American WASP by Lauren Lipton. Now, I read this book a few years ago and loved it. I was feeling nostalgic and decided to read it again.
  • The Husband Diet by Nancy Barone. Nancy is one of my fellow Matera brainstormers and this is one of the books we brainstormed together. Can’t wait to finally read it. I’ve preordered it. 🙂
  • Damocles by S.G. Redling. Sheila is another Matera brainstormer and Damocles is another book we all brainstormed. I loved the plot when she told us about it. I think this is going to be another hit like her previous novel, Flowertown. Different genre, complete different story but I’m sure it won’t disappoint.
  • The Lost Daughter by Mary Williams. Williams is an African-American woman who was adopted by actress Jane Fonda. The Lost Daughter is her memoir about growing up in Oakland in the 1970s and what brought her to the camp Fonda and then-husband Tom Hayden ran. It’s also a story about self-discovery and knowing when you can go home again.
  • Leftovers by Stella Newman. I loved Newman’s Pear Shaped--even when her main character was driving me crazy with being submissive to an emotionally-unavailable man. According to the back cover blurb, Leftovers is about friendship, love and enjoying what’s left on the table. I’ve already got it on my Kindle…soon I’ll dive in. 🙂
  • Hemlock Grove by Brian McGreevy. Every now and then, I need a dose of paranormal, and it looks like this time it will be the werewolves of Hemlock Grove who give me my dose. 🙂
  • Lessons in French by Hillary Reyl. Set in Paris in 1989, this is a story about a woman rediscovering Paris and her past. It’s also about what happens when life begins to spiral out of control. I can’t wait to dig into this one! 😀
  • Banker’s Death: Temptation in Florence #3 by Beate Boeker. Beate’s a fellow Matera brainstormer and, as I posted earlier, I love her sense of humor and her quirky cast of characters.
  • Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald by Theresa Anne Fowler. Having read so much by and inspired by  F.Scott, it’s great to finally find a novel about Zelda. This one is sure to be enthralling!
  • Woman on the Run by Lisa Marie Rice. Rice is the pseudonym for one my fellow Matera Brainstormers. She writes great romantic and erotic suspense and this is one of her books which I haven’t read yet. I think I will take this one with me to Copenhagen in a few weeks! 🙂

That’s it for now. I am anxious to get working on Maybe Baby again. I’m revising Chapter 7. Five more chapters to tighten and then I will feel ready to release it. 🙂

Happy reading (and writing)! 🙂

Getting to know Nick Alexander

ImageA few weeks ago, I found out about Nick Alexander through some of his fans on Twitter. I was curious, so I picked up two of his books–The Half-Life of Hannah and The Case of the Missing Boyfriend–for my beloved Kindle. I wasn’t disappointed. Both books are great reads (get thee to Amazon or your fave bookstore and buy his books ASAP). I tracked down Nick and asked him if I could interview him for kimtalksbooks. Nick is a British writer who is nowadays based in Nice, France (lucky guy!), though he spends a lot of time in London, which he says is his favorite city in the world. 
 
Q: What inspired the story of The Half-Life of Hannah?
 
A: The initial idea came from an acquaintance who is married. At forty, though he has never slept with a man, he is beginning to have doubts that he might be gay, and talking with him about it, about his love for his wife and his children, about the effects it would have on everyone’s lives if he did take that leap, got me to thinking about his wife and how she would be affected. Because I wanted a certain balance (and because I like happy endings) I invented a long lost love from her past, and the more I worked on the book plan, the more it became about her and her lost love, and the less it became about him. But I intend to remedy that in the sequel.

Q: Your earlier novels have featured male protagonists. What prompted the  switch to female protagonists? Was it a conscious decision or did the characters decide for themselves?
 
In fact only my Fifty Reasons series of novels have a male protagonist. 
My short story collection 13:55 Eastern Standard Time has both men and women, and my last two novels, The Case Of The Missing Boyfriend, and The Half-Life of Hannah feature female leads, as does The French House (out in April).
I think there are a huge number of similarities in the lives and loves of women and gay men which is probably why they tend to get on so well.
In the end, I think it’s also simply easier for me to write a story from the point of view of a woman living in a male dominated environment than it would be for me to write it from the point of view of her a football loving, Top-Gear watching husband. I think if women are from Venus, then most gay guys must be too. Certainly anyone who can bear Jeremy Clarkson must be from a different planet to me.
 

ImageQ: I loved The Case of the Missing Boyfriend. I think a lot of people can relate to the idea of going through life knowing that the person you should be with is not the person you are with. Or holding out until they meet the right person instead of settling for the right-now person. Was this a story you’d wanted to write for a while? How did it come to you?

 
A: The idea for The Case of the Missing Boyfriend first came to me whilst on a train journey from Manchester to London with my best friend Rosemary. She was reading one of my Fifty Reasons novels and commented how universal the experience of dating hell is in these dreadful days of internet chatting. She told me about a friend of hers who had been going to speed dating, and the story made me laugh so much. My brain simply wouldn’t leave that anecdote alone, and by the time the train pulled into London the arc of the story had already taken shape in my mind.

 
 

Q: Have you got a playlist for writing? Or do you compile a soundtrack for each of your novels when you write? 

 

A: Though I listen to music pretty constantly outside work, I write in total silence. Only once, when I was writing Better Than Easydid a song become an essential part of the story. The denouement of the novel was inspired by a single song, Holcombe Waller’s Take Me With You. It was so important to the book that I got in touch with him to ask him if I could include the lyrics in full. In exchange for a first edition copy he agreed, which was a huge relief as the book had been written by then!
 
Q:  Where do you do most of your writing? Do you have a dedicated space in 
your home where you always write, or are you the sort of writer who can write anywhere?
 
A: I write in a shed at the bottom of my garden. I take my daily commute across the grass every morning and work from ten till one and from two till five every day though if the writing’s going really well then I may work until eight or nine in the evening. I have occasionally managed to write elsewhere when circumstances dictated, but I find it twice as difficult to concentrate if I’m not in my little shed with my cats beside me. Routine makes anything that’s arduous that much easier whether it’s going to the gym or getting one hundred thousand words down, so I like to make everything about my working day as organised and predictable as possible to avoid distractions.
 
Many thanks to Nick for taking time out of his very busy day to chat with us! Later this week I’ll be posting a review of both The Half-Life of Hannah and The Case of the Missing Boyfriend. Until then, if you’d like to find out more about Nick, head over to his website/blog–don’t forget to check out his novels. 🙂
 
 

I love it when Twitter leads me to new books

Screen Shot 2013-01-27 at 10.59.48 PMA few weeks ago, actress Megan Fox made news by joining and then leaving Twitter. She said she thought this was the year she’d become a social media butterfly but it wasn’t to be. I know quite a few people who feel the same way. They say Twitter (and Facebook and every other social media site) is a waste of time, a waste of intellect, etc. One of the people who said this to me is also someone who watches reality shows and wants to discuss them with me. I try to avoid reality shows. They annoy me, especially the ones that do nothing more than pit women against one another so some fat cat producer can make money off them. Ah well, one man’s meat is another man’s poison. But the point is that a lot of people don’t like Twitter (or social media in general) and say it’s never given them anything useful.

I used to be one of those people who didn’t see the point of Twitter. I could never follow any conversation I joined or started. It was like walking in circles or getting stuck in quicksand. Then one day I realized I could make lists and keep track of the like-minded people I followed.

Screen Shot 2013-01-27 at 10.59.18 PMRecently, one the people I follow on Twitter raved about a book she was reading. I don’t always trust everyone’s book recommendations, mostly because lately people keep telling me to read Fifty Shades of Grey (which I already read and hated). But this Tweetie recommended Nick Alexander’s the Half-Life of Hannah and the Case of the Missing Boyfriend and said both books had great characterization and pacing. There was no mention of anyone called Grey and both stories sounded like what I was interested in reading–stories about women who were trying to figure out what and who they want, stories about love that didn’t candy-coat the trials of life with shopping and designer names. So, I was intrigued, I used my Amazon gift certificate (thank you, Tord!) to buy both books. I started reading The Half-Life of Hannah a few days ago and I love it so far.

Screen Shot 2013-01-27 at 11.28.55 AMTwitter also led me to the new book by Ali Harris, The Last First Kiss. Now, I knew this book was coming out–I read about it on Ali Harris’s website back in December–but my sieve-like brain had managed to forget about it. Then a Tweetie mentioned it and I made sure I purchased it.

So now I’ve got three new books to keep me busy for a while and it’s all thanks to Twitter and the Tweeties I follow. 🙂 Thanks, Tweeties! I’ll post reviews soon, as well as an interview with Nick Alexander.

By the way, I am going to follow a fellow writer’s lead (yes, Seumas, thanks for including me in your list) and I’m going to end every blog post from now on with new blogs and sites I’m following. Maybe you’ll want to follow too. So here they are:

Happy reading! 🙂