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Blog Tour — The Party — Robyn Harding

9 Jun

 

I am so freaking HAPPY to be a part of this blog tour! Robyn was sweet enough to answer some questions, and below our interview you’ll find my review of The Party.

Hi Robyn! Thanks so much for stopping by the blog and answering some questions. 🙂

Lavender Lines: Coffee or tea?

Robyn: Coffee. 1.5 cups with honey and milk.

LL: Do you have any writing rituals? (Fave place, certain music you listen to, etc.)

R: I have a cheerful, sunny little office in my home that I rarely use. Despite having had a professional ergonomic assessment of my workspace, my neck and shoulders seize up when I sit at my desk. Now I am mostly on the couch with my laptop, but I just bought a cardboard standup desk. I am hoping for the best!

I am most creative in the morning. After my husband and kids leave for work/school, I pour my coffee, grab my laptop, and start writing. I don’t shower, dress, brush my teeth… I pity anyone who comes to my door before 10:00 A.M.

LL: Some of the main characters in The Party are, well, not really nice people. Was it hard to write unlikeable characters in a way that would keep readers interested?

R: It was fun! I had never written such odious characters before. I love reading books about nasty people. I don’t need to like the characters, I just need to be interested in them. In The Party, everyone has secrets, everyone has issues, everyone has a motive…. I hope this will keep readers’ attention, even if they hate every character.

LL: Where did the idea for The Party come from?

R: I have two teenaged kids, so underage drinking is a relevant issue in my life. I talked to other parents of teens and found wildly differing opinions on substance use. Some parents are zero tolerance, while other take the “they’re going to drink anyway, I’d rather they do it at home” approach. This made me imagine the worst-case scenario of kids partying at home, and how parents would really deal with that fall out. I also thought it would be fun to have this happen to strict parents who are truly blindsided.

LL: Can you tell us about anything you’re working on now?

R: I’m writing a novel inspired by Canada’s most notorious serial killer, Karla Homolka. She has served her time and is now free, a mother of three, and living a normal family life in Quebec. With this book, I’m confronting some hard questions: Can people really change? Do they deserve a second chance? And can you ever outrun your past?

LL: Again, thanks so much for popping by!

R: And thank you so much for the interview!

 

 

 

 

Publisher: Simon & Schuster Canada
Released: June 6th, 2017
Genre: Mystery, literature
Source: ARC from publisher

 

Sweet sixteen. It’s an exciting coming of age, a milestone, and a rite of passage. Jeff and Kim Sanders plan on throwing a party for their daughter, Hannah—a sweet girl with good grades and nice friends. Rather than an extravagant, indulgent affair, they invite four girls over for pizza, cake, movies, and a sleepover. What could possibly go wrong?

But things do go wrong, horrifically so. After a tragic accident occurs, Jeff and Kim’s flawless life in a wealthy San Francisco suburb suddenly begins to come apart. In the ugly aftermath, friends become enemies, dark secrets are revealed in the Sanders’ marriage, and the truth about their perfect daughter, Hannah, is exposed.

Harkening to Herman Koch’s The Dinner, Christos Tsiolkas’s The Slap, and Liane Moriarty’s Big Little Lies, The Party takes us behind the façade of the picture-perfect family, exposing the lies, betrayals, and moral lapses that neighbors don’t see—and the secrets that children and parents keep from themselves and each other.

From Goodreads

Holy Hell, fellow book nerds! This book was a super great read, but I am afeared it will be hard to review, because the thing I like the best about it is the ending and I sure as heck don’t want to give that away. All I will say about the ending is that it is one of the most surprising and OMG endings I’ve read in a long, long time and I absolutely love it.

The second thing I love the most about this book is something I can talk about, and that’s the fact that pretty much every character in the book, in one way or another, is a douchenozzle. I am not one of those readers that has to like main characters in order to enjoy and like the book, nope. This was a favorite read for me, but my God I definitely wouldn’t want to meet any of these characters.

Writing a riveting book with unlikable characters is a hard hard thing to do, I imagine, and Harding does it wonderfully. I read this book in two sittings and when I was done I spent some time thinking about the characters and their motivations behind what they did. Even now, writing the review weeks after I read it, I can’t help but think back on it and wonder not only about their actions in the book, but also what their actions would be AFTER the book.

If you are looking for an engaging, make-you-think read, you can’t go wrong with The Party.

Q&A with Joanne Levy

26 Jun

Happy book birthday to you, happy book birthday to you, happy book birthday dear Joanne, happy book birthday to youuuuuuuu!

How cute of a name is Small Medium at Large? So frigging CUTE. And today it’s officially out in the wild, so run to your nearest bookstore and grab a copy (I’m lacing my sneakers as I type).

Here’s a bit about the book:

After she’s hit by lightning at a wedding, twelve-year-old Lilah Bloom develops a new talent: she can hear dead people. Among them, there’s her over-opinionated Bubby Dora; a prissy fashion designer; and an approval-seeking clown who livens up a séance. With Bubby Dora leading the way, these and other sweetly imperfect ghosts haunt Lilah through seventh grade, and help her face her one big fear: talking to—and possibly going to the seventh-grade dance with—her crush, Andrew Finkel.

Joanne was nice enough to stop by and answer a few question.
Lavender Lines: First off, thanks so much for stopping by the blog, Joanne! And don’t worry, my questions aren’t very heavy hitting. 🙂
Joanne: Thanks so much, Colleen! I’m happy to be here—As you know, I’m Canadian, so I LOVE hanging out with my fellow Canucks!

LL: What was the inspiration for Small Medium at Large?
J: I actually woke up with the title in my head one morning. I know, not that exciting of a story. But I recognized that it was a pretty cool title, and about a year later (I was working on other projects when I came up with it) I figured it was time to write the book.

LL: Do you listen to music when you write? If so, what kind?
J: I don’t. I can have a bit of background noise—like my husband watching hockey in another room (as long as it’s not the playoffs, because then he yells a lot and it gets a bit distracting)—but I can’t have music on when I write. That said, I’ve been known to make playlists for books and use music to get in the mood for writing specific scenes.

LL: Tea or coffee?
J: Depends on the time of day. First thing, I NEED my coffee, but after that one big mug, I’m a jasmine tea drinker for the rest of the day.

LL: Yoga pants or jammie bottoms?
J: Jammies!

LL: If you could get every kid in the world to read one book, what would that book be (besides yours, of course!)?
J: Ha! That’s a hard one, because there are so many great books out there and every kid is different in what they will enjoy. But, that said, I’ve been thinking about my favourite books a lot lately and which ones I want my niece to read most, and keep coming back to ANNE OF GREEN GABLES (and someday I WILL get to PEI and when I do, let’s have lunch). I re-read it recently because of an essay I was writing, and was reminded how much I love it. It is a lovely, well-rounded book with amazing characters that has obviously stood the test of time and continues to delight new generations of kids. AND it stands up when read as an adult, too—there were several times when I laughed out loud and wanted to hug Anne. And the Matthew part, well, you can imagine what happened to me when I got to that. Yep, I do love that book so.

Thanks for taking the time to chat, Joanne!

If you’re looking for Joanne online you can find her at her website or Twitter.

Q & A with author Jen Wylie

17 Apr

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: one of my favorite things about Twitter is discovering new to me authors. Such is the case with Jen Wylie.  We chat on Twitter regularly and I was so happy she was up for a little Q & A here on the blog. I also had the chance to read her YA short Ring Around the Rosie, which I will be reviewing tomorrow. (It was delish!) So a big thanks you and welcome to Jen.

Lavender Lines: What is the attraction, for you, to writing primarily short stories?
Jen: I actually started out writing novels, quite a few over the years actually. Short stories and novellas rather came as a surprise. For me stories come like movies into my head. My first short stories I published were like this… just the movies in my head weren’t very long. I was lucky enough to get them published and later also asked to write a YA short story series (which I kind of did- it turned out to be more of a novella series LOL)

My favorite thing about writing shorts is that the whole process is a LOT quicker than writing a novel, from the actual writing, to the edits, the final proofs and so on. It’s great to see everything come to completion and get out into the world so quickly.

LL: Are there any challenges to writing short stories for teens?
J: Everyone once and a while I have to watch myself trying to stray into more adult themes. I’m rather a kid at heart though so I don’t find it too difficult and rather enjoy it.

LL: When you wrote your novel, did you find the process very different from writing your short stories?
J: I organize more when I write novels. I’m not an outliner, but I take extensive notes as I write, everything from character descriptions to common phrases to maps. I do this for my shorts as well, but to a much smaller degree. Novel writing of course takes a lot longer, and the edits exponentially so. Shorts I can finish up a round of edits in a few days, a week at the most. With a novel it’s closer to 3-4 weeks. There are a number of rounds of editing, and my editor will take just as long, if not longer, to over a work as well so getting a short ready to go to publication is certainly much quicker, and a lot less daunting at times. 🙂
Thanks so much for having me today! 🙂
~hugs and rainbows~
Jen

LL: Aw, thanks so much for popping in, Jen! And you guys should come back tomorrow and check out my review of Ring Around the Rosie.

And if you want to find Jen on the Interwebs, here’s where she hangs:

Jen’s website: www.jenniferwylie.ca

Twitter: @jen_wylie

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4499919.Jen_Wylie

Facebook fan page: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Jennifer-Wylie/151266004895266

Smashwords author page: http://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/jenwylie

Amazon Author page: http://www.amazon.com/Jen-Wylie/e/B004HQ9XD8/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_1

Barnes and Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/s/jen-wylie?keyword=jen+wylie&store=allproducts

Jen’s blog: http://jlwylie.wordpress.com/

Q&A with author Kathleen Peacock – Hemlock Blog Tour

2 Apr

I first “met” Kathleen about a year or so ago on Twitter. Besides being one of my favorite authors (yes, Kathleen, you have made it on my polite stalking list!) she’s one of my favorite all around people. So I’m tickled pink to have her on the blog today for a little Q&A. And make sure to pop back in tomorrow for what is sure to be an incohesive and babbling review of Kathleen’s debut novel, Hemlock. (So much LOVE for this book. SO. MUCH.)

Lavender Lines: Heya! Thanks so much for popping by the blog and chatting. I promise I won’t make the questions too intrusive. 🙂

Kathleen: No problem! I… hey… wait a sec… why do you want my social insurance number? Who told you I had mono when I was in college? WHERE DID QUESTION NUMBER SEVEN COME FROM?! Number ten is just… inappropriate. The truth? YOU CAN’T HANDLE THE TRUTH!

*ahem*

LL: How close did the finished version of Hemlock look to what you had envisioned when you set out to write it?

K: There were some fairly substantial changes. Hemlock was, quite literally, my first book, and there was a huge learning curve and more than one revision. Some plotlines, characters, and settings from my original draft were moved to book two and the characters were all aged down a year (the original story took place the summer/fall after graduation).

LL: Writing or editing: which do you find harder?

K: Option C: Plotting. Followed by Option D: Pacing (which probably comes under editing).

LL: Coffee or tea?

K: Neither. Roll up the Rim won’t ensnare me!

LL:  What books are currently on your nightstand?

K: Right now? I was trying to read Paradise Lost by John Milton (one of my New Year’s resolutions), but I got distracted by revisions. The last two books I read were The Guardians by Andrew Pyper (which was deliciously creepy) and Incarnate by Jodi Meadows (which was even more amazing than the pre-ARC/edited version I had read). Some books in my TBR pile/on my Kobo are: Drink, Slay, Love by Sarah Beth Durst, Slatwater Vampires by Kirsty Eagar, and Bossypants by Tina Fey. I’ve also got an audio book of The Ten-Cent Plague: The Great Comic-Book Scare and How it Changed America by David Hajdu on my iPod.

LL: So, I found Hemlock totally, absolutely squee-worthy. What’s the last squee-worthy book you read?

K: Awww. *blush*

Since it was a re-read, it’s probably cheating for me to say Incarnate, right? Incarnate out of the equation, I’d say Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones. I finally got around to reading it a few months ago, and it totally swept me off my feet and enchanted me.

LL: Merci Kathleen, for answering these hard-hitting questions. 🙂

K: Bienvenue!

Happy US launch of Spin Q & A

7 Feb

Yay!!! Today is the official US launch of Catherine McKenzie‘s Spin, one of my favorite books. I was part of the Canadian launch two years ago and I am so happy to be part of this launch, also. Tomorrow I’ll be re-reviewing Spin, but today I want to welcome Catherine to the blog again for another Q & A.

Lavender Lines: First, let me just say I am beyond excited to be taking part in this blog tour! Okay, now for the hard-hitting questions……..Can you tell us what you’re working on now?

Catherine: My next novel is called FORGOTTEN. It’s about a woman who inherits a trip to Africa when her mother dies. She’s supposed to be gone for a month, but gets stuck in a remote village when an earthquake hits the country. When she finally returns after six months, she discovers that everyone thinks that she has been dead, and her life is – obviously – a little chaotic. It’s coming out in May in Canada and August in the US.

Lavender Lines: Spin was released a couple of years ago in Canada to rave reviews (It was one of my fave books of 2010). Is this US release more nerve-wracking or are you an old pro at it now? 🙂

Catherine: Thank you again, for that! Made my week!

It’s funny, I have been thinking about this. In some ways I am an “old pro” in the sense that I’m used to the fact that not everyone is going to love my book and that’s life. On the other hand, the US is such a big market that it is pretty nerve-wracking to be honest. Harper US has put a lot of faith in me in deciding to publish all three of my books in one year and I hope that faith pays off!

Lavender Lines: Coffee or tea?

Catherine: Tea definitely. In fact, I don’t drink coffee! I know, weird right?

Lavender Lines: How much research went into Spin?

Catherine: There was definitely some, but I didn’t attend rehab or anything to do it. Mostly I researched rehab programs to find a structure that would work. I did research into AA to figure out what the steps we always hear about are supposed to mean. I had read some memoirs from people who had been to rehab before I wrote the book. I abstained while writing it, but then read a few more afterwards as a sort of “feel” check. I also discussed certain things about therapy with psychologists I know. Essentially, what I was going for was that it would be realistic enough to be a background for the story, but not the main focus of the story.

Lavender Lines: Where did the idea to write Spin come from?

Catherine: Years ago – and of course this is still going on – there were a lot of celebrities going in and out of rehab. The Paparazzi and regular press were going nuts, and stories were coming out about behaviour in rehab from fellow patients. I believe I was watching some news show – TMZ probably – and it was a scene of just all these journalists with their lenses trained on a rehab facility trying to get a shot. I remember being a little disgusted that it was going on & asking myself sarcastically “I wonder why they don’t just follow a celebrity into rehab?” My next thought was: What a great idea for a book! And so it goes 🙂

Lavender Lines: Thanks so much for stopping by and answering a few questions Catherine. Always appreciated.

Catherine: Thank you, Colleen! You’ve been such a super supporter over the years, and I really appreciate you having me back for my US launch.

Plague & Pestilence Blog Tour

15 Jun

I am all kinds of tickled to be part of the Plague & Pestilence Blog Tour. No, this isn’t a a tour where you have to guess the disease by looking at a really gross picture. It’s a celebration of all things Ashes, Ashes, Jo Treggiari’s AMAZING post-apocolyptic, post-plague, post- pretty-much-your-worst-nightmare YA book.

For my blubbering review of Ashes, Ashes (I HEART this book so much!) and the chance to win a copy (Canadians only) pop back on Friday. But for now get comfortable in your home with heat and food and no super bugs ANYWHERE and enjoy my Q&A with Jo.

Lavender Lines: Thanks so much for taking the time to answer some questions, Jo! What made you decide to write a post-apocalyptic YA dystopia?

Jo: It was really just the idea that came to me. I wanted to write an adventure story with a teen girl heroine, and I knew I wanted her to be pro-active and challenged, so basically I had to come up with a scenario that would be fraught with difficulties. A survivalist, apocalyptic setting just worked really well with that. It’s also enticing to a writer to re-imagine the future and what the world would look like. Combined with my concerns about our dwindling resources, disease and the terrifying storms, earthquakes and climactic aberrations which have devastated so many countries, a post-apocalypse, post global pandemic world seemed all too probable.

LL: How much research went into writing Ashes, Ashes?

Jo: I tend to read a variety of non-fiction sometimes directly linked to an idea I might have, sometimes just because I’m interested in the subject. For Ashes, Ashes I read a lot of different books and scientific articles on global warming, some articles on epidemic disease, histories of plague, survivalist manuals, wilderness foraging books. I also studied maps ofNew York City and various locations. It doesn’t feel like work though ‘cause it’s fun. All that information swirls around in my head and I’m never sure exactly how it’s going to come out. It is important to me though, that however fictional I make my world, it still rings true. It must be plausible.

LL: Were there particular songs or artists that you listened to when writing Ashes, Ashes?

Jo:  I listened to a lot of punk and a lot of atmospheric artists. That would include Arcade Fire, American Steel, Jets to Brazil, Bjork, Neko Case, and Gogol Bordello to name a few.

LL: What’s next on your writing agenda?

Jo: I’m finishing up a 2nd draft of an urban fantasy, coming-of-age tale with great white sharks. And I also have a punk rock road-trip-without-a-car book set in 1983California about two teen girls searching for beauty in an ugly world. And of course, I have a fleshed-out plot for another book based in the Ashes, Ashes world.

LL: What are some of your favorite dystopian books?

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

The Giver by Lois Lowry

1984 by George Orwell

The Hunger Games  by Suzanne Collins

The Postman by David Brin

LL: Let’s say that Nova Scotia is hit with a plague that takes away everyone’s sense of humour and only a small portion of the population (including yourself) is immune. Would you move, not being able to handle a humourless Nova Scotia? Or would you stay and try to make the province funny again?

Jo: Hmm, you know, this province already does not carry orange cheddar cheezits (the ultimate snack food) and if there was also no humour it might tip the scales in favour of me moving back toNew York. However, we will not speak of cheezits.

Of course I would stay and battle the forces of humourlessness with a lethal combination of the Trailer Park Boys and my 4 year old daughter who is hilarious and guaranteed to crack the stoniest facade. She’s sort of like the Bart Simpson of girls. Her puppy impression with toilet paper tail is priceless.

LL: Thanks so much for stopping by Jo!

Jo: You’re very welcome!

If you want to stalk Jo online (not that I online stalk authors that I adore or anything, nope, not me) then here are some places you can find her:

www.jotreggiari.com

Jo Treggiari on Facebook

Jo Treggiari on Twitter


Q & A with author Jo Ann Yhard

13 May

I love when I read a book that I know I’ll like but then end up loving. What I love even better is when I get to meet the author and she’s well, she’s just lovely. Such was the case with The Fossil Hunter of Sydney Mines and author Jo Ann Yhard.  Jo Ann has a new YA, Lost on Brier Island, coming out on Monday and it’s one of my top “OMG I HAVE to read it” books of the spring. So I was very happy and honoured to get the chance to pick at  Jo Ann’s brain and ask her some questions.

Lavender Lines: Hiya Jo Ann! Thanks so much for stopping by and answering a few questions. You always hear from musicians that the hardest album to write and record is the sophomore offering. Do you think it’s the same for writers?

Jo Ann Yhard: I think it could be, for the second in a series. While Lost on Brier Island is my second published book, it’s very different from my first one, The Fossil Hunter of Sydney Mines. It has a few similarities – heavy on dialogue and action, but it’s not a mystery and there are different characters. I actually found Lost easier to write. I was learning a lot with Fossil Hunter, since it was my first novel attempt, and it went through many changes. Not that you ever stop learning, but everything flowed much better from the beginning in Lost.

LL: What was it in particular that made you want to write Lost on Brier Island?

JY: The main character, Alex, was one that stayed with me from an earlier unpublished project. She wouldn’t go away. So I finally had to listen to what she had to say. The setting came later. I love the ocean, and I fell in love with Brier Island when James and I went there whale watching. It’s a magical place.

LL: Do you have certain music or artists that get you in the writing mood?

JY: I think it’s more my mood in general, rather than a writing mood specifically. I love listening to Norah Jones and Tracy Chapman some days, and other times I could be cranking up The Doors.

LL: Which do you find more challenging: getting out that first draft or editing?

JY: Hands down, the editing. It feels more like work to me. The first draft is an adventure! I don’t know what’s going to happen, so I am on the discovering journey along with my characters.

LL: Your writer’s beverage of choice: tea or coffee?

JY: I was always a coffee drinker, but was never much of a coffee lover – it was a habit. I’ve switched to teas now, the decaffeinated kind. I can’t believe I’m saying that out loud – on paper. I used to be exactly like one of the characters in Lost on Brier Island, crusty old fisherman Gus, who likes his tea “leaded, none of that herb crap!” All time favourite? Chai latte at Starbucks!

LL: What’s next on your writing agenda?

JY: I’m about halfway through the first draft of Buried Secrets at Louisbourg, another book with The Fossil Hunter of Sydney Mines characters. It’s from Fred’s point of view this time, and takes place during a grand encampment at The Fortress of Louisbourg. It’s another Atlantic Canada setting. That seems to be a bit of a trademark for me so far. I love showcasing all the amazing places we have here. I was at the Fortress many times, and was excited at having the characters camp there over a weekend. The readers get to explore the Fortress along with them. And yes, it’s a mystery, of course!

Thanks so much Jo Ann! Always great chatting with you.