Tag Archives: Spin

Forgotten – Catherine McKenzie – blog tour

1 May

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)

Spin – Catherine McKenzie

8 Feb

Kate’s To-Do List:

Go to rehab
Befriend/spy on “It Girl”
Write killer expose
Land dream job
Piece of cake!

When Kate Sandford lands an interview at her favorite music magazine, The Line, it’s the chance of a lifetime. So Kate goes out to celebrate—and shows up still drunk to the interview the next morning. It’s no surprise that she doesn’t get the job, but her performance has convinced the editors that she’d be perfect for an undercover assignment for their gossip rag. All Kate has to do is follow “It Girl” Amber Sheppard into rehab. If she can get the inside scoop—and complete the thirty-day program—they’ll reconsider her for the position at The Line. Kate takes the assignment, but when real friendships start to develop, she has to decide if what she has to gain is worth the price she’ll have to pay.

So, if you’ve been following my blog for a while, then you know I’ve already given Spin a glowing review when it was first released in Canada two years ago. But see, yesterday was the US launch of Spin (YAY!) so I wanted to reread it to see if I loved it as much as I did the first time. And you know what? I think I might have loved it even more.

There is nothing more satisfying than rereading a book a couple of years after you first read it and discovering that yes, it’s still just as yummy and awesome as it first was.  Because that’s not always the case.  but it definitely was with Spin.

Kate is so f— up that I couldn’t help but lover her. Because despite her many, MANY shortcomings, she had a good heart and I could see this even as she was basically ruining her life.  She was just so damn believable. There were times I just wanted to hug her, but then on the next page I wanted to reach into the book and give her a good shake. I felt invested in her from page one, which is a testament to McKenzie’s writing.

The people that she meets in rehab, even the minor ones, were just as beautifully written as Kate was. I really felt like I was getting to know them as Kate was. And Amber Sheppard could have easily been written as an over the top character. And while she did over the top things, she herself was grounded in the small things that she did and how she acted in certain situations.

There’s some romance in Spin, folks. Yes, romance. If you know me, you probably think that I’m rolling my eyes. Because I am not a fan of romance in books. But, here’s the thing: when it’s done well and it isn’t the main focus of the book, I kinda love it. And I LOVED the romantic elements in Spin. I won’t ruin anything for you, but there were moments that my heart was beating nervously along with Kate’s.

Chick lit, or women’s fiction, sometimes gets a bad rap for being light and fluffy and not great literature. But, like with any genre, when it’s done right and written as beautifully as Spin, then it’s amazing. And who really gives a fig what the genre is? Damn great literature is damn great literature regardless of the label slapped on it. And Spin? It made me sigh with unbelievable happiness when I finished it. And, like a favorite movie, I immediately wanted to start back at the beginning as soon as I finished it. I loved it THAT much.

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.

Review: Arranged by Catherine McKenzie

3 Jan

Publisher: HarperCollins Canada
Released: January 3th, 2011
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 Canada website.

 

So yesterday Catherine McKenzie’s first book, Spin, made it on my list of favorite reads for 2010. I know we’re only three days into 2011 but I can tell you that Arranged will make it on my best of 2011 list. I loved it that much. I stayed up until 3 am to finished it and immediately wanted to reread it again. Arranged may seem on the surface like a light “chick lit” read, but underneath it’s about more serious issues like loneliness, stability and trust. And it’s a book that I know will stick with me for a long time.

Anne Blythe isn’t always the most likable character in the world. She has a certain “type” of guy she’s into and she’s, well, kinda shallow when it comes to looks. For the first part of the book I spent a lot of time wanting to smack her upside the head. I mean, quit complaining that you can’t find a decent guy when you only go for men who have movie star looks. Honestly. But as the book went on, and McKenzie let me slowly see deeper into Anne’s psyche I felt a connection to the character that I rarely feel when reading. I think a lot of women are going to see aspects of themselves in Anne. I know I did.

Okay, here’s a bit of background on moi. You need to know it so that you can understand how fully and completely connected I felt with Anne by the time I got about half way through the book, and why I became so entrenched in her story and her happiness. The hubs and I met in a bit of an unconventional way: I answered his personal online ad . I was sick and tired of the dating game and wanted to meet someone I knew I’d be compatible with. I also wanted to avoid that awkward does-he-like-me-like-me stage when you first meet someone of the opposite sex. Since I was answering a personal ad, all I had to do was meet the guy, see if we clicked, and if we didn’t, so be it. Sure it’s not as serious of a commitment as an arranged marriage, but I could still identify with everything Anne was feeling pre and post wedding. For me the connection was at times painful, and some of the things Anne goes through broke my heart so bad that I had to set the book down for a bit and gather myself.

As an Island girl, I got a kick out of all the Anne of Green Gables reference. I mean, there’s no one on PEI who doesn’t have some kind of a connection to Anne. Most of us have the seen the musical. And, if like me, you’ve ever worked as an usher at The Confederation Center of the Arts, then you’ve seen the musical enough times to know it off by heart 15 years later.

The author’s writing was once again great. McKenzie has a straight-forward writing style that lends itself perfectly to the story. She has the amazing ability to handle some tough issues in a light way without being condescending, rude or awkward about it. In her books it seems effortless but I know that it must be hard to maintain that balance.

Arranged was way more romancy than Spin and -gasp- there may even be a bit of a sex scene it in, something that would normally turn the extremely prudish me off from finishing the book. But I felt such a strong connection to Anne and was so tied up in the plot and the writing was so great that I didn’t give a hoot. I loved the book despite the fact that it had elements in it that I normally don’t love. And that, my friends, is the sign of excellent writing, an amazing plot and stand out characters. All of which Arranged has.

Still not convinced this is a must read book? Browse inside Arranged and see for yourself.

Oh, and pop back to the blog because in the next week or so I’ll be hosting a Q & A with Catherine and giving away a copy of Arranged, thanks to HarperCollins Canada and The Savvy Reader.

 

Q & A with Catherine McKenzie and a giveaway!

19 Jan

If you read my review of Catherine McKenzie debut novel Spin, then you know that I simply fell in love with this book. I was so happy to get the chance to ask Catherine a few questions about writing and the book. AND, I get to give a copy of Spin away. Yay!!!! Nothing is better than sharing an excellent read with another book lover.

Lavender Lines: Besides Katie, which character was the most fun to write?

Catherine: I’d have to say Amber Sheppard (the actress Katie follows into rehab). It was fun thinking up outrageous things for her to do, but also to come up with some of her less stereotypical characteristics. In a way, Amber’s journey is bigger than Katie’s, and just as important.

LL: What are some of your favorite books/authors discovered in 2009?

C: The best book I read in 2009 was Andre Agassi’s Open. I was already a big fan of his (I watched his first televised professional match and his last and hundreds in between), but the book was gripping in a way I hadn’t counted on. I know he wrote it with someone else, but the voice, the honesty, feels like his. It also had extra meaning for me because my sister, who lives in Vegas, went to see him and got him to autograph my copy as a birthday surprise. I also just finished Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall – historical fiction about Thomas Cromwell, Henry VIII’s lawyer who was one of the chief architect’s of the Reformation. I studied Tudor & Stuart history in university, and I can’t even begin to imagine how she organized and learned the history well enough to write that book. Impressive.

LL: There are a lot of references to music throughout Spin and a track list at the end of the book. Are Katie’s musical musings indicative of your personal music preference?

C: In a word: yes. Probably too much so. Not that I love every song mentioned in the book or appearing on the playlist, but I am a huge fan of Bob Dylan, Matt Nathanson, David Grey, Eric Hutchinson and many of the others named in the book.

LL: You take on a very tough and serious topic in Spin (addiction). Was it hard to find the balance between maintaining the humorous tone of the book and addressing the serious consequences of drug and alcohol addiction?

C: It is something I struggled with at some points in the book. I didn’t want the book to come across as an attack on AA or treatment programs, but I knew a lot of the humour in the book had to come from Katie’s denial both of her own problems and the efficacy of the treatment she’s in. I didn’t want to offend anyone, but I did want to explore how someone who doesn’t believe in the fundamentals behind the twelve steps can succeed in treatment.

Contest deets:

Okay, now I get to give away one copy of Spin. This is my very first giveaway, so I wanted to do something fun. Here goes!

To enter to win a copy of Spin, all you have to do is comment with a “chick lit” moment you’ve experienced.  Not sure what I mean? Well, a “chick lit” moment I had was eating at a restaurant where the only other people there were my ex fiance and his whole freaking family.  I kid you not.  Or there was the time I interviewed with a company and half way through the interview realized I had research a different company with the same name (yeah, I so didn’t get the job). We’ve all had “chick lit” moments (even you guys!) so go ahead, dish the dirt. You’ll feel better. And you may win a copy of Spin.

A few small things……

The contest will run until Feb 18th.

It’s only for us Canucks, so if you don’t live in the Great White North (aka Canada) you’re out of luck.

Keep comments clean, please and thank you. Any comments I deem dirty will be deleted. Sorry folks, that’s just how I roll.

Review: Spin by Catherine McKenzie

18 Jan

Katie Sandford has just gotten an interview at her favourite music magazine, The Line. It’s the chance of a lifetime. So what does she do? Goes out to celebrate — and shows up still drunk at the interview. No surprise, she doesn’t get the job, but the folks at The Line think she might be perfect for another assignment for their sister gossip rag. All Katie has to do is follow It Girl Amber Sheppard into rehab. If she can get the inside scoop (and complete the 30-day program without getting kicked out), they’ll reconsider her for the job at The Line.

Katie takes the job. But things get complicated when real friendships develop, a cute celebrity handler named Henry gets involved, and Katie begins to realize she may be in rehab for a reason. Katie has to make a decision — is publishing the article worth everything she has to lose?

From HarperCollins website

Damn, I loved this book! Damaged female lead, awkward situations, quirky friends and a hunky guy – honeslty? What’s not to love?

When I’m really into a book I devour it until I’m done. I also have a tendency to want to see what’s coming up so bad that I skim words, sometimes even whole paragraphs, so I can see what’s going to happen next. While reading Spin I quite often had to remind myself to slow down and smell the roses, or in this case read each wonderful word that McKenzie wrote. And the way she strung words together in this book was wonderful. And addictive.

I love damaged characters, and Spin had them a-plenty. And they weren’t so damaged that they were unbelievable – I could definintely identify with them. Maybe not with what they were going through, but the under lying reasons for their problems.

Quite often books that are catagorised as chic lit end up being a bit over the top and the characters come off as, well, cartoonie. McKenzie did a wicked job of keeping the balance between humourous and believable and given the fact that alcoholism and drug addiction played a major part in the plot, I’m sure it was a tough thing to do. But McKenzie pulls it off brilliantly.

Another thing that chic lit books sometimes go over board on is the romance (which usually makes me roll my eyes, gag, or both). For me, Spin had just the right touch. It wasn’t too steamy, too over done, or too romantic. It was realistic. And realistic romance is something that I appreciate in books.

I was actually sad when Spin was over, I like the characters so much. And I can’t wait to read more from McKenzie. I have a feeling she’s going to become one of my fave authors. In fact, I actually think she already is.

Browse inside Spin.