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Blog Tour: U.S. Launch of Forgotten – Catherine McKenzie

16 Oct

So, today is the U.S. launch of Forgotten by Catherine McKenzie!!!! If you know my blog, then you know I majorly heart Catherine and her books. In fact, I believe I have taken part in all the different blog tours for the Canadian AND American launches of her books. Yups, that’s how much I dig them.

I”m re-posting my original review of Forgotten, which I abs ADORED. I also have a copy for one lucky US reader. Just comment on the review for your chance to win a copy. I’ll run the contest until Oct 22nd.

Emma Tupper is a dedicated lawyer with a bright future. But when she takes a month-long leave of absence to go on an African vacation, she ends up facing unexpected consequences. After she falls ill and spends six months trapped in a remote village thanks to a devastating earthquake, Emma returns home to discover that her friends, boyfriend, and colleagues thought she was dead and that her life has moved on without her.

As she struggles to recreate her old life, throwing herself into solving a big case for a client and trying to reclaim her beloved apartment from the handsome photographer who’s taken over her lease, everyone around her thinks she should take the opportunity to change. But is she willing to sacrifice the job, relationships and everything else she worked so hard to build?

*Sigh* Don’t you love when you have an author that you just know is going to wow you? Over the past couple of years Catherine McKenzie has become one of my go-to authors. I wait impatiently for her to have a new book out, then do what I have to do to get a hold of an ARC. Then I devour it in one sitting, hug it to my chest happily and begin the whole process over. Seriously.

Forgotten is a bit different than Catherine’s first two books. While it once again deals with a woman who finds herself in an unusual predicament, I found it a lot darker and more serious than Spin and Arranged. But I still loved it to bits. Despite the different overall tone it still had the snappy dialogue, great characterization and gut-wrenching scenes that I’ve come to expect from Catherine.

I don’t want to give anything away, but there’s a subplot that pops up about half way through the book that I thought was a wonderful addition to the main plot. It added another layer to Emma and really  helped her character to grow. And that’s what’s really at the heart of this story: growing. I think it’s great that Emma comes back all ready to take over her life again. But is that really the life she wants? And if so, will that life still be there for her? It’s these questions, and the way that Catherine approaches them, that makes this such a great read.

Oh, and the handsome photographer ain’t too shabby, either. :0)

Guest post by Cassie Stocks: Nurturing Your Inner Accountant

2 Jul

I want to thank Cassie so much for talking about her editing process. I am still in the process of learning how I edit, so I am always looking to other writers to see how they manage the beast.

Most of my family is creative but my father is defiantly an accountant. When I’m editing, I unleash my latent accountant genes. Editing is a skill distinct from writing. All writers have to enter the editing process to turn a beautiful creative mess into something publishable.

When I’m in the creative process, I don’t let the editing hat anywhere near my head. I keep a document in my project folder titled Editing Notes. When I’m writing creatively and notice something that needs checking, I open the editing document, make a note, and go back to writing.

When a first draft is done, I do the happy writer’s chair dance for a minute, then take a deep breath – it’s time to go into editing mode. There are layers of editing; when doing one, I try not to worry about the others. The first is a substantive edit, checking for theme, continuity, the overall arc, and effectiveness of the story, then chapter, scene, paragraph, sentence, and word. Last comes proofreading for clarity and copy-editing for grammar and punctuation.

I start big and work my way down to the small. There’s no use spending hours polishing grammar and punctuation in a section I might end up cutting completely. After dealing with the entire story, I break up the editing chores into manageable pieces. I’d go mad at the thought of checking for commas for three hundred pages straight, but I can manage a few pages at a time.

When dealing with multiple characters, time frames, and story lines, my inner accountant/editor gets very happy and I use spreadsheets. I had a spreadsheet for the time frame, spacing, and organization of each of the story lines in Dance, Gladys, Dance (Frieda’s normal life issues, Ginny’s fork troubles, Gladys’ story from the 1900s, the flashbacks to Frieda’s past, and for each of the other characters). I also use spreadsheets for editing lists. I love to put a little checkmark in each box for a completed edit.

I think people with unfinished works often have gone into editing mode or into the lower levels of editing too soon. Editing the small (adding and removing commas) imparts a feeling of control over the beast but it’s easy to get addicted to that feeling of authority. At some point, you have to wrestle the alligator, complete the work, and deal with the larger issues of the narrative as a whole.

After the alligator has been subdued and the accountant has all the boxes pleasingly ticked, another set of eyes is essential. I let go of the misunderstood genius schtick (not that I’m very good at it anyway) and listen carefully to what my early readers tell me.

Thanks so much Cassie! Guys, pop back tomorrow for my review of Cassie’s wonderful book, Dance, Gladys, Dance and a giveaway for my fellow Canucks.

THE SUMMER ESSENTIALS Blog Tour!

1 Jun

I LOVE Hélène Boudreau’s Real Mermaids series. Love, love, LOOOOOOOOVE! So I’m over-the-moon-so-giddy-I-can’t-breath happy to be hosting her today as part of The Summer Essentials blog tour! Hélène is from my neck of the woods (I’m on a different Island, but still a Maritimer) so I was beyond curious to find out about Hélène’s childhood.  AND, I have one copy of Hélène’s Real Mermaids Don’t Hold Their Breath along with Stacey Graham’s The Girls’ Ghost Hunting Guide (Both amazing summer reads).

Summer Island Breeze: Find out what it was like for Hélène to grow up on an island in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean! Salty sea smells every day? I’ll take it!

Okay, so not exactly in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean but I grew up on a very small island off the coast of Canada and it may as well have been the middle of nowhere because looking back, it sure felt like a different world.

First, you have to take a causeway, then a drawbridge, then another bridge before finally arriving to my little slice of island paradise called Petit de Grat. Petit de Grat is not a tropical utopia but it was a pretty unique place to grow up in that:

1. My friends and I used to have sleepovers on my dad’s fishing boat while it was moored in the middle of our harbour.
2. The island only had a few hundred inhabitants but was full of kind-hearted, colourful characters.
3. Wild cows roamed the east end of our island and were known to chase us through forest paths.

So how did my childhood affect my process of writing the Real Mermaids series?

1. My dad took us for boat rides to a town on the mainland called St. Peters. We sailed up a canal from the ocean to a fresh water lake. That canal inspired the setting of my fictional town of Port Toulouse. I often wondered if the purple jellyfish in the ocean knew about the white jellyfish in the lake. It amazed me that two totally different underwater worlds could be separated by just a mile-long canal. That was the inspiration for the mer-world in these books.
2. I wanted my fictional town of Port Toulouse to be small and quaint, with a strong sense of community and full of fun characters like where I grew up.
3. It was a bit harder to work in the wild cows so mermaids seemed like a good alternative. ;-)

You can find Hélène on Twitter, Facebook and on her Website.

Thanks so much for stopping by Hélène! And now on to the giveaway!

Giveaway

Like I said, I have a copy of Hélène’s Real Mermaids Don’t Hold Their Breath and Stacey Graham’s The Girls’ Ghost Hunting Guide to one lucky American or Canadian reader. All you have to do is comment below and tell me of a favorite childhood summer activity or a ghosty experience you’ve had. I’ll choose the winner on June 6th.


The Girls’ Ghost Hunting Guide – Stacey Graham

31 May

Publisher: Sourcebooks
Released: April 24th, 2012
Genre: MG non-fiction, how-to
Review copy from publisher

What was that noise? The cat? The wind? 
Little brother stealing a peek at your diary?
Or is it a ghost?

The Girls’ Ghost Hunting Guide will help you identify the creepy crawlers from the spooky spirits, the howling winds fromt he haunting phantoms. And with this guide you can learn from real experts how to investigate and contact your very own ghosts!

Everything a girl needs for a night full of fun, including:

• Spooky urban legends to set the mood
• Must-have stuff for your ghost hunting kit
• Pointers for leading the best-ever ghost hunt
• Tips for writing your own ghost
• With fun quizzes, games, recipes, and more!

So gather your friends if they are brave enough, grab a flashlight, and go investigate!

From Sourcebooks website.

First of all, I have to say I am  in love with the ghostie on the cover. And she actually appears throughout the book. I’ve love to have one. Not, you know, haunting me or anything. But maybe a stuffed one on my desk.

Okay, so the book. What a cool combination of informative, creepy, scary, funny, fun stuff! I loved the tone. I think kids will find it’s like talking to a cool older sibling or cousin. It was very informal while jam-packed full of ghost hunting information.

The ghost hunting: I watch a lot of ghost hunting shows, and the information was dead on. Ghosts are serious business, but Graham made sure throughout the whole book to keep things light. She still made sure that the reader understood the seriousness of ghost hunting and the responsibility that comes with it, but she did it in a way that it shouldn’t scare the crap out of most kids. And mixed in with the ghost hunting info are urban legends, ghost stories and even a couple of nommy recipes. Graham also includes interviews with female ghost hunters, which I thought was awesome.

The layout of the book was super fun, also. The pages are glossy, there’s lots of colour used and different fonts. For me, this also helped lift some of the scariness of the subject. There are also interactive sections, little quizzes and at the end blank pages that you can use on your first ghost hunting case.

I think this book is going to be a hit among girls, but the topic IS all things ghost, so I think for certain personality types, it could be a bit too scary, even with the light tone. But of course, that’s where mom and dad come in. If you daughter is a bit on the anxious side, you may want to take a peek at The Girls’ Ghost Hunting Guide before handing it over to her.

This was just a cool mix of fun and informative. And if you are interested in reading it, pop by tomorrow for a giveaway. :)

The Soul Savers Tour

30 May

I love it when a character has the time to stop by and chat for a bit, especially when it’s a fave character from a fave series. I’ve enjoyed watching Alexis come into her own in Kristie Cook’s Soul Saver series, so I’m super excited that Alexis stopped by on the Soul Savers tour to talk a bit about trust and betrayal.

LL: You have a hard time trusting people. Why is that? What betrayals have you experienced in the past?

Alexis: Heh. Let me count the ways. First there was the guy who had been the closest thing I’d ever had to a father. He abandoned me. At least, for a five-year-old, that’s how it had felt at the time. Then there were the girls who had supposedly been my friends in the fourth grade…then others in the fifth grade…and more at another school in the sixth grade…and seventh…you get the picture. They were all the same. Pretended to be my friends until they had something to use against me, which isn’t hard to find, and stabbed me in the back. Made me the joke of the school every single time. Why are girls so mean to each other? Ugh. Then there were the guys throughout junior high and high school. I thought James was different when I met him, but he turned out to be a Grade A asshat, too. That was about the time I just said “screw you” to the rest of the world and solidified my role as loner. My only friends ever, until I met Tristan, were fictional characters in the books I read and the stories I wrote. They never turned on me. So, yeah, I’m pretty used to betrayal. Thank God Tristan is so patient with me. The poor guy’s suffered the brunt of my heartbreaks.

LL: Yups, Tristan is an amazing guy. Just…..amazing. *Pauses and stares off into the distance* Um, what was I saying? Anyway, I want to thank Alexis for popping in I know how busy she is. And if I had Tristan? Well, I’d probably never leave the house.

Blog Tour Giveaway

So, along with getting the chance to chat with Alexis, I also get to tell you guys about the awesome giveaway Kristie is hosting for the blog tour. Here’s a run down of the prizes:

Grand Prize(US only) – Nook Simple Touch
1st Prize (US only) — Paperbacks of all 4 of Kristie’s books signed
2nd Prize(US only) — Soul Savers Swag bag
International Prize — All 4 books as ebooks

How to enter:
Just leave a comment below with your email and whether you are in the US or international. And each comment left during the blog is an entry, so hop on over to Kristie’s website to find out who else is on the tour. I’ll also be giveaway an eBook of Devotion to one lucky person who comments.

About Kristie Cook:

Kristie Cook is a lifelong writer in various genres, from marketing communications to fantasy fiction. Besides writing, she enjoys reading, cooking, traveling and riding on the back of a motorcycle. She has lived in ten states, but currently calls Southwest Florida home with her husband, three teenage sons, a beagle and a puggle. She can be found at www.KristieCook.com

Re-review & Giveaway – Arranged -Catherine McKenzie

15 May


Publisher:
William Morrow Paperbacks (HarperCollins)
Released: May 15th, 2012 (U.S. release)
Genre: Chick-lit, general fiction
Review copy from publisher

Anne Blythe is lucky. She’s got a brand new book contract, a great newspaper job and a steadfast best friend, and she can land just about any man she sets her sights on — and the ones that appeal are typically tall, dark and handsome.

Problem is, the men she chooses never last. Shortly after yet another relationship goes down in flames, Anne comes across a card for what she believes is a dating service, and pockets it just in case. If she’s so unlucky in love, maybe she could use a little assistance. Then her best friend announces she’s engaged, and envy gets the better of Anne. Now’s the time, she decides, to give the service a try — and she is shocked to discover that what the company specializes in are exclusive, and pricey, arranged marriages. After learning of the company’s success rate, however, she overcomes her reluctance and signs on. After all, arranged marriages are the norm for millions of women around the world, and she’s not done so well selecting a mate on her own. So why not use a professional service that claims it can produce the perfect match?

Some time later, Anne is travelling to a Mexican resort, where in one short weekend she will meet and marry Jack, the man they have chosen for her. And against all odds, it seems to be working out, until Anne learns that Jack and the company who arranged their marriage are not what they seem at all.

From HarperCollins website.

First of all, I need to say a big HAPPY U.S. BOOK BIRTHDAY!!!!! to Catherine and Arranged. I was part of the Canadian launch and I am all giggly and smiley that I get to be a part of her U.S. launch, too. If you’ve been to my blog before, then you know how much I ADORE Catherine’s books and Catherine herself. And you know how much I like to stalk, er, promote my fave authors.

As you can tell from the post title, this is a re-review. And I’m happy to say I was as taken with Arranged as I was the first time I read it.  Reading it for the second time, one thing became very clear to me: Catherine is a master of quick, snappy dialogue. And not overly clever, sappy dialogue either. No, the dialogue in Arranged, to me, rang very true. It had that quick back and forth banter that I love. And she’s not afraid to drop the F bomb. At all. And as someone who could make a sailor blush, I appreciated that.

I like how Catherine really digs into the issue of looks and attraction, and how it isn’t always the best thing in the world when it comes to relationships. Since about grade 4 I kinda had a type, a weakness for redheads. In fact, my type was so particular that in university, when I brought home a boy I was dating, my parents sat me down afterwards and held an intervention because he looked so much like my ex, they thought at first we had gotten back together. When I met my husband, we corresponded on line first for about a week before we exchanged pictures. At that point we had hit it off so much, that when I found out he was pretty much bald, I didn’t give a hoot. If we had met in a bar or supermarket first would I have taken notice of him? Hard to say. I think that a lot of us are so attached to our type that we miss a lot of great opportunities with other, just like Anne.

I once again sat down to read Arranged and didn’t stop until I was finished. And I was a bit of a sobby mess at the ending, once again. Actually I found myself tearing up a few times. This says a lot about the book, the writing and the emotional attachment that I still felt on second read.

Oh, and a bit of a spoiler, but not a huge one: there’s a Gilmore Girls reference in Arranged. You have no idea how happy this made my heart. My other obsession, besides books, is The Gilmore Girls. And the episode Catherine mentions (season 4 finale) is one of my FAVES. :)

So, yeah, I still stand behind my original judgement that this is one kick-ass chit-lit book. If you’ve read either of Catherine’s other books, or are a fan of the genre, I can’t see how you wouldn’t love Arranged. And if you are curious about chick-lit, this book is a great place to start.

GIVEAWAY!

So, I have a copy of Arranged to give away to one lucky US winner, courtesy of HarperCollins in the U.S.. AND, since I’m a Canuck and I love all my Canadian readers, I’m going to be giving one lucky Canadian reader a copy (ordered from book depository). I like to keep things simple, so to enter all you have to do is comment below and tell me either your favorite Gilmore Girls episode or moment, your favorite rom-com moment or if you have a “type” when it comes to dating. Also mention in your comment of you are from the U.S. or Canada. The contest will close May 22nd, 11:59EST.

Summer Lovin’ Blog Tour -While He was Away – Karen Schreck

6 May

One year—he’ll be gone for one year and then we’ll be together again and everything will be back to the way it should be.
The day David left, I felt like my heart was breaking. Sure, any long–distance relationship is tough, but David was going to war—to fight, to protect, to put his life in danger. We can get through this, though. We’ll talk, we’ll email, we won’t let anything come between us.
I can be on army girlfriend for one year. But will my sweet, soulful, funny David be the same person when he comes home? Will I? And what if he doesn’t come home at all…?

I don’t often do this in reviews, but I HAVE to take a second to talk about the cover for While He was Away. I don’t know if it’s the gorgeous pink coloring of the sky, the fact that they’re holding hands or my strong desire to have those wedge shoes, but this cover caught my attention majorly. When the book arrived I was in the middle of reading another book, but kept going over to my desk to glance at it. I just I think it’s amazing.

And the inside of the book was just as fantastic and captivating as the cover. I felt a pretty strong connection to Penna from the beginning and didn’t wander too far from my box of Kleenex throughout the whole book. See, here’s something that some of you might not know: my husband doesn’t live with me full time. He works in another province for two week stints then comes home for six days. So while he isn’t a soldier and doesn’t leave for a year at a time, I could still empathize with what she was going through, all the emotions she was feeling before David left and after. And let me tell you, Schreck nailed that perfectly. PERFECTLY. Hence the Kleenex.

The blurb doesn’t give much away, so I don’t want to either, but I do want to let you guys know that there’s a lot more to this book than just Penna and David’s long-distance relationship. Penna has some serious family shit going down, and while it’s traumatic and stressful, it also helps keep her mind off of David (as much as that’s possible). I loved the layering of Penna’s stories and how everything was connected.

I was expecting a bit of a gooshy, romantic read and I was pleasantly surprised by the depth of the novel. I read it in one sitting and was moved by the beauty of the prose and the details of the story. Anyone who is a fan of YA contemp should absolutely run out and buy While He was Away, as should anyone who’s interested in the genre. Actually, all of you should go buy it. It was that good.

Thanks bunches and bunches to Source Books for the review copy.

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