Tag Archives: blog tour

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.

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The Woman in Cabin 10 blog tour

9 Jan

woman-in-cabin-10-blog-tour

 

Today I am super excited to be hosting Ruth Ware for her The Woman in Cabin 10 blog tour! My review will be posted below, but first, here’s my Q&A with Ruth.

Lavender Lines: First of all, thank you so much for joining me on the blog today. I’m a super big fan of your books. 🙂

Ruth: Thank you for having me – it’s great to be here!

LL: Do you listen to music when you write?

R: No! In fact I find it incredibly distracting. I used to be able to write while watching TV, but that was years ago. The older I get, the more intolerant I get to interruptions, and now I find I work best in complete silence. In fact my neighbours have building work going on right now (as in, literally, I can hear hammering while I type this) and even that is annoying me, but music gets into my head in a really infuriating way. I find it drowns out what my characters are trying to say. I’m definitely not a writing in coffee shops type person.

LL: Tea or coffee?

R: Definitely coffee! None of my characters are very autobiographical, but that’s the one trait of myself that I put into Nora as a straight cut and paste. I am a coffee addict and find a week without coffee (or even just a week without my preferred type of coffee) really hard work.

LL: Who is your favourite mystery writer?

R: Oooh, this is hard! I have too many, and it changes all the time. I tend to say Agatha Christie just because I really admire her plots and because I think she’s critically very under-rated. But today I’m going to say… Dorothy L Sayers. Strong Poison is probably the crime mystery that I have read and re-read the most number of times.

LL: Your books have the most delicious twists and turns. How do you come up with them?

R: I have no idea! Sometimes they are plotted from the outset but more often they just arise naturally as I write. The final page of The Woman in Cabin 10 (people who’ve read it will know the bit I mean) was a complete surprise to me, and I had to go back and re-write quite a few bits to make it work.

LL: If you weren’t an author you would be _________(and the skies the limit)?

R: Well, I used to work in PR so I guess the prosaic answer is that I would probably still be doing that! Alternatively, I have always really loved numbers (I very nearly did maths at university) and I find accounts and figures very satisfying, so maybe I would retrain and become an accountant? Sorry, I realise those are not very “the sky’s the limit” type answers!

LL: Thank you again so much!

R: Thanks for having me!

 

REVIEW

Okay, I loved this book. Lately I have been reading some awesome mysteries with unreliable narrators and enough twists and turns to pull a muscle and The Woman in Cabin 10 is one of the coolest.

Through most of the book I had no freaking idea what the hell was going on and I often stopped reading to try to puzzle things out. And just when I thought I had it figured out the author threw something else in that made me once again not know what the frig was happening.

The timeline was somewhat wonky and that only added to the WTF feeling I had through most of the book. But it wasn’t so wonky that I was so confused I was frustrated. Nope, this was the best kind of puzzle to try to figure out.

Most of this book takes place on a ship and I’m also starting to love the whole mystery where no one can leave thing. Ware also did this in In a Dark, Dark Wood and once again it works perfectly for the story.

The characters were very believable and I never felt 100% like I had a solid grip on them. Once again, as in all the great mysteries, the good guys and the bad guys weren’t clear at all.

This was a well written, well thought out mystery and Ware is fast becoming one of my favourite mystery writers.

It Should Have Been a #GoodDay blog tour

25 Feb

goodday

 

Full disclosure time, folks: One of my other personalities — Savvy Fox — was the main developmental editor on It Should Have Been a #GoodDay and I also organized this blog tour. 😀

Since it would be kinda weird if I posted a review (although I LOVE LOVE LOVE this book and think you should all read it!) I did want to take part so Natalie agreed to do a Q&A.

Coffee or tea?

Tea, definitely. I can’t even stand the smell of coffee … though my chemical pick me up of choice is diet Coke.

Sweat pants or yoga pants?

Sweats, though yoga pants have a close second. Either really. So long as they’re stretchy.

Music while writing or silence?

Silence. I wish I could write with music, but it’s too distracting!

Do you have any writing rituals? (Certain pen, certain time, certain stack food, those kinds of thing?)

I write at my ‘Me Station’ – the desk where I do things that are only for me, not for the kids or the house or the husband… I love to snack on small bite things like M&Ms or crackers, though it’s not a necessity. Diet Coke is often present, and my desk lamp is on, even if it’s sunny or the overhead light is on as well. It’s like turning on the desk light turns on my focus on my keyboard.

What’s the last book that you read that completely blew you away?

Oh so hard. Probably either “I’ll Give you the Sun” or “Life After Life” Both were incredible, magical and untouchable. Books like that both inspire me to write more and remind me I’ll never write like that… a strange dichotomy of emotion.

Henry has some very specific things that he does to deal with stress and life in general. Do you have any coping mechanisms that you rely on when things get a bit harried?

All the bad stuff. I bite my nails, terribly and painfully! I eat to relieve stress. To cope, sometimes I’ll write To Do lists to itemize and solidify what is going on. I make sure to include items I’ve already done so I can check them off.

Not all of the characters in your books are nice. How hard is it to write unlikeable characters?

It’s not so hard to write unlikeable characters – what I find hard it to make sure they’r not pure awful. I tend to lean towards black and white, bad and good characters but a story is more interesting if everyone has shades of grey – some good and some bad all mixed together, or if their bad actions have good intentions. I find that challenging because it forces me to find a different perspective – what I would consider an unlikeable action or opinion may not come from ignorance or hate or meanness. I was heartsick when an editor called one of my favourite characters a ‘cad’. I saw him as a good guy locked in an impossible situation wherein he made a brave and selfless choice… he saw him as a manipulative cad, a coward who ran away… In the end I had to accept that each reader will go away with a different opinion of my characters and that’s what makes it interesting, but I had hurt feelings on behalf of my character, that someone didn’t LIKE him.

Thanks so much to Natalie for stopping by!

It Should Have Been a #GoodDay is out this Sunday, February 28th, and we holding an official launch party in Halifax!

 

Blog Tour — Transferral — Kate Blair

21 Nov

transferral

Publisher: Dancing Cat Books
Released: October 24th, 2015
Genre: YA dystopian
Source: Review copy from publisher

 

 

London, England, present day. This is the world as we know it, but with one key difference: medical science has found a way to remove diseases from the sick. The catch? They can only transfer the diseases into other living humans. The government now uses the technology to cure the innocent by infecting criminals.
It is into this world that Talia Hale is born. Now sixteen and the daughter of a prime ministerial candidate, she discovers that the effort to ensure that bad things happen only to bad people has turned a once-thriving community into a slum, and has made life perilous for two new friends.

When Talia’s father makes an election promise to send in the police to crack down on this community, Talia can only think of how much worse things will be for her friends. Will she defy her father to protect them, even if it means costing him the election?

Transferral , the debut from Kate Blair, is a chilling look at a world gone wrong because of its efforts to do right.

From Goodreads.

 

Giving our illnesses to criminals as punishment? Kinda brilliant and creepy and evil all at the same time. Which make the basic premise of this book so fascinating to read about. I mean, there are clear advantages and disadvantages to this kind of criminal justice, and Blair tackles all of the issues while weaving a story about one girl trying to undo the harm she did.

This is my favourite kind of dystopia: the kind that makes the reader think about our current society. The parallels between between how this society treats its poor and criminals isn’t too far off from how we tend to deal with them. The stigma attached to having been arrested, the tendency for the poor to be arrested and given stiffer sentences than the rich and the privileged wanting to keep the “criminal element” in its place are all things that our current justice system and society have in common with the world that Blair paints so vividly.

The main character, Talia, is an interesting character. I never fell in love with her but I didn’t despise her either. She’s a poor little rich girl who genuinely wants to make things better and I enjoyed watching her thoughts on just what “better” means changing throughout the book. She definitely isn’t a static character.

The only issue I had was that to me the ending felt a little rushed. I would have liked to have seen a bit more after the climax.

This was a quick read for me and I devoured most of the book in one sitting. The story and the writing style kept me turning pages until the end.

Cauchemar — Alexandra Grigorescu — Blog Tour

7 Mar

cauchemar blog tourPublisher: ECW Press
Released: March 17th, 2015
Genre: Southern gothic mystery
Source: paperback review copy from publisher

Gripping, fast-paced, gorgeously written, and with unforgettable characters, Cauchemar tells the story of 20-year-old Hannah, who finds herself living alone on the edge of a Louisianan swamp after her adopted mother and protector dies. Hannah falls in love with Callum, an easy-going boat captain and part-time musician, but after her mysterious birth mother, outcast as a witch and rumoured to commune with the dead, comes back into Hannah’s life, she must confront what she’s been hiding from — the deadly spirits that haunt the swamp, the dark secrets of her past, and the nascent gift she possesses.

Like the nightmares that plague Hannah, Cauchemar lingers and haunts.

From Goodreads

 

While there were elements of Cauchemar that I really, really loved, there were other things that just didn’t do it for me. But here’s the thing: the things I had issues with actually added to the layering of the story and the unbalanced feeling from what was going on, so it didn’t take away from the story and my enjoyment, but actually added to it. Weird huh?

Here, let me try to explain. The two things that I had issues with were the pacing and progression of Hannah and Callum’s relationship. They met and things moved quite quickly. A lot of their earlier interaction left me feeling confused, like I was trying to catch up to what was happening. But this wasn’t a bad thing, nope. This is such an eery and creepy and scary story that my discomfort with how their relationship developed added a layer to my “What the hell is going on?” mentality that I maintained for a large part of the book. Which is also good, since the mystery of what is happening to Hannah is one of the core plot points.

Grigorescu’s descriptions of the swamp where Hannah lives made me feel like I was there. Not that I would want to be. Because there’s some pretty weird crap happening. And I loved that it wasn’t always clear if the mystical things were good or bad. For example, Hannah’s mom. You get the feeling she’s an evil witch (literally) but then at other times the author makes you wonder if maybe she’s actually good and trying to help Hannah.

This was definitely a different read than my normal fare, but I enjoyed it. The tone was perfect for a gothic novel and I think I’ll be delving into the genre some more.

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.