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Teresa's Reading Corner: August 2010

Monday, August 30, 2010

Author Spotlight: Jane Porter

Last week I had the pleasure of reading and reviewing She's Gone Country by Jane Porter.  Today I have a the honor of sharing a guest post with you.

One of my favorite things about writing SHE’S GONE COUNTRY was the setting.  I love Texas.  And I love big sky, wide open spaces, and miles of golden fields spreading out in every direction.  My grandfather was Texan, too, and a cattle rancher so I've always been pretty comfortable in jeans and boots. 

Most people don't know that I love country music and wrote SHE’S GONE COUNTRY to a  playmix of Brad Paisley,  Kenny Chesney, Faith Hill,  Trace Adkins, Keith Urban, and Martina McBride.

Years ago I worked for American Airlines and one of my favorite memories of working in and out of DFW was a weekend spent in San Antonio.  I found everything about San Antonio irresistible--touring the Alamo, the Riverwalk, restaurants, and by far the best Tex-Mex food I've ever eaten in my life.  Texas definitely brings out the cowgirl in me, a cowgirl that was shaped by vacations on our ranch 40 miles east of Paso Robles, California.

Vacations on the family ranch meant we were essentially camping.  There were no phone or TV.  No dishwasher, washing machine, or dryer.  Dinner was grilling outside.  Breakfast was pancakes.  And showers were short because all of our water came from the well pumped by a battered old windmill.

It was on the ranch that I learned about campfire stories, building jigsaw puzzles, and playing a mean game of Gin Rummy.  The ranch meant riding horses and hiking and looking for pollywogs in the creek below the house.  We tramped through the dry grass with little rattle snake bite kits in our back pockets and knew exactly what to do if we came across a rattler sunning himself on rocks or the grass. 
My kids have never been to the ranch.  But I think it's time.  They think roughing it is life without an Xbox.  Wait until they experience a couple weeks without a radio or a TV!

Thank you Jane, I look forward to reading more of your work.  

Please check out Jane Porter's website at


Friday, August 27, 2010

Georgia's Kitchen by Jenny Nelson

Synopsis from Goodreads:  At thirty-three, talented chef Georgia Gray has everything a woman could want—the top job at one of Manhattan’s best restaurants; a posse of smart and savvy gal pals who never let her down; and a platinum-set, cushion-cut diamond engagement ring courtesy of Glenn, the handsome entertainment lawyer who Georgia’s overbearing mother can’t wait for her to marry. The table is set for the ambitious bride-to-be until a scathing restaurant review destroys her reputation. To add salt to her wounds, Glenn suddenly calls off the wedding.

Brokenhearted, Georgia escapes to the Italian countryside, where she sharpens her skills at a trattoria run by a world-class chef who seems to have it all—a devoted lover, a magnificent villa, and most important, a kitchen of her own. Georgia quells her longings with Italy’s delectable offerings: fine wine, luscious cheeses, cerulean blue skies, and irresistible Gianni—an expert in the vineyard and the bedroom. So when Gianni tempts Georgia to stay in Italy with an offer no sane top chef could refuse, why can’t she say yes?
An appetite for something more looms large in Georgia’s heart – the desire to run her own restaurant in the city she loves. But having left New York with her career in flames, she’ll need to stir up more than just courage if she’s to realize her dreams and find her way home.

My thoughts:  Georgia's Kitchen is full of all of the things that make a novel satisfying.  There are great friends, a little drama, beautiful settings and a bit of a love story.  Another strong woman taking charge of her life when she's been knocked down.  

This is one of those stories that you know is going to have a happy ending and you can sort of predict what is going to happen, but its okay.  It left me wanting to hop a flight to Italy to visit.  Don't read this while you are hungry because the food descriptions will make your mouth water.

This is a great read for anyone wanting a quick escape.  It fit perfectly into my quest for light summer reading.

Disclosure:  My copy of Georgia's Kitchen was provided to me by the publicist with the hope that I would review it


Thursday, August 26, 2010

First Impressions: Escapades of Romantically Challenged Me by Maya Jax

From Maya's Website:

The Scene: Aspiring screenwriter Lelaina Zane finally lands a Hollywood break, but it’s cut short when her dad has a heart attack and she has to return to her home town.  Now that she’s back, her parents want her to stay, show some responsibility and join the family law firm.
Her Ex: Her first love, first kiss, first… you know, and first guy she caught with another woman.  Full of apologies and a proposition, he wants her to stay and be with him.
Her Dilemma: With one embarrassing disaster after another, a devastating blow from Hollywood and four weeks until the Bar Exam, Lainey has to decide if she’ll stay and have it all — career, love, money — or return to LA to pursue her impossible dream. 

My thoughts:  I've already confessed that I do consider the cover when deciding if I'm even going to consider reading a book so I can honestly say that the cover was an influence on this selection.  In my quest for a summer of light and fun reading I was presented with the opportunity to read Escapades of Romantically Challenged Me by Maya Jax, and I jumped on it.

Reading the synopsis I thought that it just looks like a fun read.  Having perused Maya's website I suspect that thought is about right.  I'm looking forward to reading this one.  Look for my review soon as I'm getting ready to dive into it.

Disclosure:  I received my copy of Escapades of Romantically Challenged Me by Maya Jax from the author in conjunction with Pump Up Your Book Promotions

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Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Fragile by Lisa Unger

Synopsis:  Welcome to small town life in The Hollows.  Everyone knows everyone else and their business.  Life is an open book, or is it?  As a child Maggie wanted nothing more than to escape life in The Hollows, as an adult she returns to raise her family.  When her son's girlfriend disappears Maggie begins to recall another disappearance many years ago.  So many things about the two are similar she begins to ask questions.  What she finds out may destroy everything she trying to protect.

My thoughts:  Once again, I have to confess to being drawn to a book by its cover.  A woman walking along a path, alone on a chilly fall day.  What is she walking away from, or is she walking toward something?  Then I read the synopsis and knew I had to read it.  I haven't decided which character the cover is meant to portray or if it is portraying one at all. If you've read it, what did you think of the cover?  

Lisa Unger is a new to me author, but I understand that Fragile is quite different from her previous works as she is known for writing literary thrillers.  You do get a feel for this style in Fragile but the focus is more on the relationships between the townsfolk both past and present.
I enjoyed the story. There was enough intrigue to keep me interested, but I can't go so far as to say that it was a "page turner".  I thought the relationships were interesting.  Maggie and Jones are an interesting couple.  Both of them wanted to leave The Hollows, one does but ultimately returns to make a life there.  They obviously love one another, but there is something creating a void between them.  The relationship that each of them has with their son, Ricky is complicated in its own way. 

What is the hold that the Hollows has on each of the characters?  All of these characters had a strong desire to leave The Hollows, but they never did.  Is the pull of your "hometown" something that is only found in books and the movies or is this an actual phenomenon?

If you are looking for a thriller, this isn't the one for you. Having said that, I think that Fragile is worth reading.  I might have to revisit it once fall is in the air, when the leaves are changing.  It is a good one to snuggle under a blanket with a mug of your favorite warm beverage.   


Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Preview of All I Ever Wanted by Kristan Higgins

I am excited to share with you a preview of All I Ever Wanted by Kristan Higgins which was released in paperback in July.  I am excited by the opportunity to read and review this novel.  Look for my review coming soon...

First a little about Kristan Higgins:

Kristan Higgins, author of All I Ever Wanted, combines real life, true love and lots of laughs in her stories. Her books have received praise and accolades from readers and reviewers alike. Kristan won a Romance Writers of America's RITA® Award in 2008 for Catch of the Day, and received a 2010 nomination for Too Good To Be True. Called "one of the most honest and creative voices in contemporary romance," Kristan is hard at work on her next book. She lives in a small Connecticut town with her heroic firefighter husband, two lovely children, one devoted dog and a regal cat. Kristan loves to hear from readers!
Visit her Website at
Follow the author on Facebook.

Chapter One

by Kristan Higgins,

Author of All I Ever Wanted

As the man I loved approached my office, the image of a deer being hit by a truck came to mind. I was the deer, metaphorically speaking, and Mark Rousseau was the pickup truck of doom.

But here's the thing. The deer always freezes, as we all know, hence the expression like a deer caught in the headlights. The deer and I (Callie Grey, age thirty as of 9:34 this very morning) are well aware that the pickup truck is going to hit us. But we just stand there, waiting for the inevitable, whether it's a pickup truck (in the deer's case) or a man walking athletically toward me (in mine), perpetual smile in place, his brown hair carelessly curling, those gorgeous, dancing dark eyes. I waited, doe-eyed. It was all really too bad, because outside of Mark's influence, I was not at all a deer about to be run down. I was much more of an adorable, perky hedgehog or something.

"Hey." Mark grinned.

Bam! We have impact. The sunlight streamed through the windows of the old brick office building in which Mark and I worked, illuminating him so that he looked like something painted by Michelangelo. To make him even more appealing, he was wearing an old sweater vest his mom knitted for him years ago, shapeless and faded but something he just couldn't part with. A good son and a sex god.

It was as if there were two Callies . . . the smarter, more sensible self (I pictured her as Michelle Obama), and the dopey, in love part . . . Betty Boop. Would that Michelle could give Betty Boop a brisk slap, followed by some vigorous shaking. Alas, Betty just sat there, enthralled, as the First Lady snorted in disgust.

"Hi," I said, feeling my face warm. You'd think that four years of seeing him almost daily would have built up some tolerance in me, but no. My chest prickled with longing and love, my throat turned Saharan, my feet and fingers tingled. Though I was trying hard for Intelligent Coworker, my expression was probably somewhere around Pathetic Adoration.

Mark leaned against my desk, which meant his crotch was, oh, let's see, about a foot and a half from my face, since I was seated. Not that I noticed, of course. "Happy birthday," he said, making it sound like the most intimate, most suggestive phrase in the world.

Face: nuclear. Heart: racing. Callie: half inch from orgasm. "Thanks."

"I got you a present, of course," he murmured in that voice . . . God, that voice. Low and soft and velvety . . . the same voice he used in the bedroom, as I well knew. Yes, Mark and I had been together. For five weeks. Five wonderful weeks. Almost five and a half, if you really analyzed it. Which I had.

From his back pocket, he withdrew a small, rectangular package. My heart flopped as my brain raced with contradictory thoughts. Jewelry? Betty squealed. That means something. That's romantic. So romantic! Oh! My! God! On the other hand, Michelle advised caution. Calm down, Callie. Let's just see how this plays out.

"Oh, Mark! Thank you! You didn't have to," I said, my voice breathy.

On the other side of the glass-bricked wall that separated our offices, Fleur Eames slammed a drawer. The wall only went up ten feet; the ceilings were twelve, perfect for eavesdropping, and I guessed she was trying to snap me out of my daze. Fleur, a copywriter here at the firm, knew about my crush. Everyone did.

Clearing my throat, I reached for the package in Mark's hand. He held onto it for a minute, grinning before he let go. It was wrapped in cheerful yellow paper. Yellow is my favorite color. Did I tell him that once? Had he filed away that little fact the same way I filed away everything he ever told me? I mean, really, it could hardly be coincidence, right? He smiled down at me, and my racing heart stuttered, stalled, then revved into overdrive. Oh, God. Could it be? Did he finally want to get back together?

I'd worked at Mark's firm for the past four years. We were the only advertising and public relations agency in northeastern Vermont. Our staff was small -- just Mark and me; Fleur; the office manager, Karen; and the two pale computer geeks in the art department, Pete and Leila. Oh, and Damien, Mark's personal assistant/receptionist/willing slave.

I loved my job. Excelled at my job, as proven by the large poster on my wall, which had very nearly won a Clio, the Oscar of advertising. Said Clio ceremony took place eleven months ago out in Santa Fe. And in that beautiful, romantic city, Mark and I had finally hooked up. But the timing wasn't right for a serious relationship. Well, at least that's what Mark had said. Honestly, has a woman ever said that? Not a lot of twenty-nine-year-old women truly have timing issues when it comes to being with the man they love. No. It had been Mark's timing that wasn't right.

But now . . . now a gift. Could it finally be that the time was right? Maybe now, on the very day that my thirties began and I entered into that decade where a woman is more likely to be mauled by a grizzly bear than get married . . . maybe today really was the start of a new age.

"Open it, Callie," he said, and I obeyed, hoping he didn't notice my shaking fingers. Inside was a black velvet box. Squee! I bit my lip and glanced up at Mark, who shrugged and gave me that heart-stopping smile once more. "It's not every day my best girl turns thirty," he added.

"Oh, gack," sniped Damien appearing in the doorway. Mark glanced at him briefly, then turned his eyes back to me.

"Hi, Damien," I said.

"Hi." He stretched the word into three syllables of contempt . . . Damien had once again broken up with his boyfriend and currently hated love in all its forms. "Boss, Muriel's on line two."

Something flickered across Mark's face. Irritation, maybe. Muriel was the daughter of our newest client, Charles deVeers, the owner and founder of Bags to Riches. The company made outdoorwear from a combination of plastic grocery bags and natural fiber. It was our biggest account yet, a huge deal for Green Mountain, most of whose clients were in New England. I'd only met Muriel once, and then only briefly, but Mark had been flying back and forth to San Diego, where Bags to Riches was based. As part of the package, Charles had asked Muriel to come to Vermont and work as the account exec, so he could have someone close to him keeping tabs on things. And, since Charles was paying us gobs of money, Mark had said yes.

Mark didn't answer Damien, who was quivering with the joy of running Mark's day. "Boss?" Damien said, a bit more sharply. "Muriel? Remember her? She's waiting."

"So let her wait some more," Mark answered, tossing me a wink. "This is important. Open the damn box, Callie." Damien sighed with the heavy drama that only a gay man can pull off and hustled down the hall.

Cheeks burning, I opened the velvet box. It was a bracelet, delicate silver strands that twisted and turned like ivy. "Oh, Mark, I love it," I whispered, running my finger over the intricate lines. I bit my lip, my eyes already misting with happy tears. "Thank you."

His expression was soft. "You're welcome. You mean a lot to me. You know that, Callie." He bent down and kissed my cheek, and every detail was immediately seared into my brain -- his smooth, warm lips, the smell of his Hugo Boss cologne, the heat of his skin.

Hope, which had been lying in ashes for the past ten months, twitched hard.

"Think you'll make it to my party later on?" I asked, striving for perky and fun, not lustful and ruttish. My parents were throwing me a little bash at Elements, the nicest restaurant around, and I'd invited all my coworkers. No use pretending: I was turning thirty; might as well get some presents.

Mark straightened, then moved a pile of papers from the small couch in my office and sat down. "Um . . . Listen, I need to tell you something. You met Muriel, right?"

"Well, just that once. She seems . . . very . . . " Hmm. She'd worn a killer black suit, had great shoes . . . kind of intense. "Very focused."

"Yeah. She is. Callie . . . " Mark hesitated. "Muriel and I are seeing each other."

It took a few seconds for that to register. Once again, I was that stupid deer, watching mutely as the pickup truck hurtled down the road. My heart slammed to a halt. For a second, I couldn't breathe. Michelle Obama stood by, shaking her head sadly, her fabulous arms crossed in regret. I realized my mouth was open. Closed it. "Oh," I heard myself say.

Mark looked at the floor. "I hope that doesn't cause you any . . . discomfort. Given our past involvement."

There was a white, rushing sound, like a river engorged with snowmelt and hidden debris. He was seeing someone? How could that be? If the timing was okay for Muriel . . . why not . . . Oh, crap.

"Callie?" he said.

Here's the thing about being hit by a truck. Sometimes those deer keep running. They just bound into the woods, sort of like they're saying, Whoo-hoo! That was close! Good thing I'm okay. Um . . . I am okay, right? Actually, you know what? I'm feeling a little strange. Think I'll lie down for a bit. And then they wake up dead.

Mark's voice lowered. "The last thing I want to do is hurt you."

Say something, the First Lady commanded. "No, no!" I chirruped. "It's . . . just . . . no worries, Mark. Don't worry." I seemed to be smiling. Smiling and nodding. Yes. I was nodding. "So how long have you been . . . together?"

"A couple of months," Mark answered. "It's . . . it's fairly serious." He reached out and took the bracelet out of the box, then put it on my wrist, his fingers brushing the sensitive skin there, making me want to jerk away.

In the many years I'd known Mark, he'd never dated anyone for a couple of months. A couple of weeks, sure. I thought five was a record, quite honestly.

Ah. My body was catching on to the fact that I'd just been slammed. My throat tightened, my joints buzzed with the flight response to danger, and a sharp pain lanced through my chest. "Right. Well. You know what? I have to get my license renewed! I almost forgot! You know . . . birthday. License. Renewal." Breathe, Callie. "Okay if I zip out for lunch a little early?" My voice cracked, and I cleared my throat again, studiously avoiding Mark's dark and now sorrowful eyes.

"Sure, Callie. Take all the time you need."

The kindness in his voice made me feel abruptly murderous. "I won't be long," I chirped. "Thanks for the bracelet! See you in a bit!"

With that, I grabbed my oversize pink hobo bag and stood up, excruciatingly careful not to brush against Mark, who still sat on my couch, staring straight in front of him. "Callie, I'm sorry," he said.

"No! Nothing to apologize for!" I sang. "Gotta run. They close at noon today. See ya later!"

Thirty minutes later, I stood in line at the Department of Motor Vehicles, and the effects of being emotionally run down by the man I loved -- and now hated -- but still loved -- were catching up with me. Michelle Obama had abandoned me, regretfully acknowledging that I was beyond help, and Betty Boop was clamping her lips together and blinking back tears. Trying to keep the choo-choo train of despair at bay, I glanced around. Gray, grimy tile floors. Dingy white walls. I stood in the middle of a line of about ten people, all of us listless and lifeless and loveless . . . or so it seemed.

The whole scene was like something out of some French existentialist play . . . Hell is not other people. Hell is the DMV. Robotic clerks shuffled behind the counter, clearly hating their lot in life and contemplating the easiest form of hari-kari or embezzlement so they could leave this grim place. The clock on the wall seemed to taunt me. Time's a'wastin', kid. Your life is passing you by. Happy fucking birthday.

My breathing started to quicken, my knees felt like a hive of angry bees. Tears burned in my eyes, and on my wrist, my stupid birthday present tickled. I should just rip it off. Melt it down into a bullet and kill Mark. Or myself. Or just swallow the bracelet whole and let it get tangled in my intestines and require emergency surgery and then have Mark come to the hospital and realize just how much he really loved me after all. Not that I would have him now. (Yeah, sure, Callie, said Mrs. Obama, making a reappearance. You'd eat a baby if it meant having him.)

Well. Maybe not a baby. But the idea that Mark was with someone . . . for a couple of months, fairly serious . . . ah, shit! Panic loomed like the jaws of a great white shark, terrifying and unexpected. Stupid Muriel with her black hair and white skin, like some vampire in fabulous shoes . . . when the hell had they started dating? When, dammit?

Oh, crap. Should I go? No. I had to get my license renewed. Today was the last day I could do it without incurring a fine. I'd picked out this wicked cute outfit, too -- red-and-white printed blouse, short red skirt, big gold hoops, and my hair was perfect today, all shiny and swingy . . . Besides, what could I do? Sit in my car and wail? Kick a tree? Strangle a moose? I really wasn't the type. The only idea that held any appeal was that of sitting in my rocking chair and eating cake batter.

A dry sob raked my throat. Shit. Shit on a shingle. Shit on rye.

"Next," called one of the DMV drones, and we all shuffled forward six inches. The man behind me heaved an audible sigh.

Without another thought, I fumbled in my purse for my cell phone. Where was it? Where was it, dammit? Tampon . . . no. Book on CD . . . no. Picture of Josephine and Bronte, my nieces . . . even their beautiful faces failed to cheer me. Where was the phone? Ah. Here. I scrolled down to Annie Doyle. Damn! I got her voice mail. Somehow, it felt like a personal insult. How could my best friend be unavailable in my time of need? Didn't she love me anymore?

Clearly the choo-choo was chugging faster now, so I scrolled down for backup. My mom? God, no . . . this would just be confirmation that the Y chromosome should be erased from humanity. My sister? Not much better. Still, it was someone. Mercifully, Hester answered, even though I knew she was at work.

"Hester? Got a minute?"

"Hey, birthday girl! What's up?" My sister's voice, always on the loud side, boomed out of my phone, and I held it away from my ear.

"Hester," I bleated, "he's seeing someone! He gave me a beautiful bracelet and kissed me and then he told me he's seeing someone! For a couple of months and it's fairly serious, but I still love him!" 
The above is an excerpt from the book All I Ever Wanted by Kristan Higgins. The above excerpt is a digitally scanned reproduction of text from print. Although this excerpt has been proofread, occasional errors may appear due to the scanning process. Please refer to the finished book for accuracy.
Copyright © 2010 Kristan Higgins, author of All I Ever Wanted

Disclosure:  Author information, excerpt and my copy of All I Ever Wanted were provided to me by FSB Associates to assist in my review of the novel.  I have not been compensated for this post.



Monday, August 23, 2010

She's Gone Country by Jane Porter

Synopsis from Goodreads:  Shey Darcy, a 39-year-old former top model for Vogue and Sports Illustrated led a charmed life in New York City with a handsome photographer husband until the day he announced he'd fallen in love with someone else. Left to pick up the pieces of her once happy world, Shey decides to move back home to Texas with her three teenage sons. Life on the family ranch, however, brings with it a whole new host of dramas starting with differences of opinion with her staunch Southern Baptist mother, her rugged but overprotective brothers, and daily battles with her three sons who are also struggling to find themselves. Add to the mix Shey's ex-crush, Dane Kelly, a national bullriding champ and she's got her hands full. It doesn't take long before Shey realizes that in order to reinvent herself, she must let go of an uncertain future and a broken past, to find happiness--and maybe love--in the present.

My thoughts:  I really enjoyed this book.  Porter does a great job of creating an interesting and believable story. The characters are honest and real.  I immediately felt like I could relate to this somewhat dysfunctional family.   Shey and her boys retreat to her family ranch in Texas which of course creates a whole new set of problems.  Shey has to find her spot on the family ranch, a place that she left in her early teens.  She has to adjust to the scrutiny of her mother who has a very different parenting style and learn to deal with the protectiveness of her older brothers.  

I loved the character development. Porter could easily spin off this story and tell us more about Shey's brothers and their lives.  I learned just enough about them to leave me wanting to know more.  There are a lot of lessons about letting go of the past and moving forward.  Not only about leaving past loves behind, but about watching your children grow up.  

The one thing that bugged me about this story was Shey's transition from hating her love interest to being madly in love with him.  It felt rather rushed to me.  I guess it is just a reminder of the fine line that runs between love and hate.

Jane Porter is a new to me author.  I hope to be picking up some of her other work soon.

Jane Porter's website 

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Friday, August 20, 2010

Author Spotlight: James Hayman

Yesterday I reviewed the fantastic suspense novel,  The Chill of Night.  Today I'd like to welcome the author of The Chill of Night to Teresa's Reading Corner.

When an Aging, Gray-Haired Mystery Writer Becomes a 25 year-old Female Schizophrenic

by James Hayman

Did you hear the one about the bearded, gray-haired male geezer who somehow managed to turn himself into a twenty-five female schizophrenic?  No?  Believe me it happened. It happened to me. And it wasn’t the first time I became somebody else.

Living inside the heads of different kinds of characters is something good writers have to do all the time. Writers of mysteries and thrillers as well as writers of so-called literary fiction.
But creating the character of Abby Quinn, the young schizophrenic woman who is a central character in my newest Mike McCabe thriller, The Chill of Night, was one of the most challenging and most fascinating experiences of my writing life.

Abby, for those of you who haven’t read the book yet, is a young woman with a history of mental illness. She hears Voices that aren’t there. She sees visions that aren’t there. When she’s good about taking her anti-psychotic medication, these things are pretty much under control.  But when she goes off her meds or runs into something majorly traumatic, all bets are off.

And one freezing night on an island in Maine that’s exactly what happens.  Abby sees a murder.  She’s sure she’s seen it.  Or is she?  She runs to the local police station and tells the cop on duty what she has seen.  Or thinks she has seen.

The cop knows Abby’s history and assumes she’s hallucinating.  He doesn’t even bother reporting what she has told him.  But then a body turns up and McCabe realizes the actual details of the crime match Abby’s story so precisely that what she must really have seen what she says she saw. But by then she’s gone. And a murderer is trying to find her.

I wrote a good portion of The Chill of Night in Abby’s voice, from Abby’s point of view. To be able to do that, to get the voice right, I had to really get into Abby’s head. To see what she sees, and to hear the Voices she hears.  To become in a very real sense, Abby Quinn.
To help me get it right, I read personal memoirs written by a number young schizophrenic women.  Two in particular helped me.  The Quiet Room:A Journey Out of the Torment of Madness by Lori Schiller and Amanda Bennett and The Center Cannot Hold: My Journey Through Madness by Elyn Saks.

These allowed me to get into the head of Abby Quinn. To experience, as I wrote, exactly what a young woman in her condition might experience under similar circumstances. It was sometimes frightening.  But it was also very revealing and very rewarding.  In the end, I think Abby became my favorite character of all those I’ve ever created.  In a very real sense, she and I have become one.

James Hayman is the author of the new thriller novel, The Chill of Night.  Visit James on the web at


Thursday, August 19, 2010

The Chill of Night by James Hayman

Synopsis from Goodreads: Glamorous young Portland attorney Lainie Goff thought she had it all —brains, beauty, and a fast-track to a partnership in a top-ranked firm that was going to make her rich. But then one cold winter night she pushed things too far, and her naked frozen body is found in the sub-zero temperatures at the end of the Portland Fish Pier.

The only witness to the crime: a mentally disturbed young woman named Abby Quinn who mysteriously disappears the very same night.

With the discovery of Lainie Goff ’s body and the disappearance of Abby Quinn, Portland homicide detective Michael McCabe finds himself on the trail of a relentless and clever killer. A killer he must find before another life is lost.

My thoughts:  This summer has been full of new to me authors.  I had never heard of James Hayman before reading the synopsis of The Chill of Night.  I am rediscovering several genres and had a great experience with my most recent foray into suspense with The Last Track so I thought that I'd give this one a try.   When I heard that it was the second novel featuring Detective McCabe I was worried that I was going to be lost. I had absolutely nothing to worry about, this book is easily read as a stand alone. I found myself wishing I knew Detective McCabe a little better so maybe that is what I was missing by not having read The Cutting.  I thought that The Chill of Night was absolutely riveting.  I had a hard time putting it down each time I picked it up.

I was sure that I knew who the killer was at several points in the story and I was wrong at each point.  I love it when an author can stump me, it makes the book worth reading.  I will issue a word of caution.  There are some very graphic descriptions throughout story so beware of those.

If you read the synopsis you know that Lainie is the murder victim.  It was interesting to me that Hayman lets the reader get to know a bit about Lanie before she is killed.  I thought that this helped me to become invested in the outcome of the investigation, she's not just another corpse.

James Hayman writes a thrilling tale in which you actually care about the characters and want to know what happens to them after you put the book down.  I've never really thought of myself as a fan of thriller/suspenseful novels, until now. Looking on James Hayman's website I didn't see any indication of a third McCabe novel in the works, but I hope that Hayman does write one.  Until he does I will have to pick up The Cutting to satisfy my desire for more.

I would recommend this to anyone who enjoys a suspenseful read with interesting characters.  This one will appeal to men and women alike, but is absolutely for mature readers.  This one will be making the rounds to to friends and family. 

Edited to Add:  I just saw a post over at Satisfaction for Insatiable Readers that there will be a third novel!!

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Monday, August 16, 2010

Goldengrove by Francine Prose

Synopsis from Goodreads:  After the sudden death of her beloved older sister, thirteen-year-old Nico finds her life on New England's idyllic Mirror Lake irrevocably altered. Left alone to grope toward understanding, she falls into a seductive, dangerous relationship with her sister's boyfriend. Over one haunted summer, Nico faces that life-changing moment when children realize their parents can no longer help them as she experiences the mystery of loss and recovery. Still, for all the darkness at its heart, Goldengrove is radiant with the lightness of summer and charged by the restless sexual tension of adolescence.

My thoughts:  I had the opportunity to read Goldengrove through a book group hosted at  Everyday I Write the Book.  I read the synopsis and thought "What the heck, I should try something new" so I jumped on board.

This story was a bit unnerving at times.  I was afraid for Nico on more than one occasion.   This story touches upon several intense subjects for a 13 year old to be dealing with, but doesn't explore them in depth.  It deals a bit with sexuality, depression and suicide, not to mention the major theme which was the death of Nico's sister.  Even though I feared for Nico, I was never truly invested in the story.  I'm somewhat pleased with the way things turned out.  The ending felt a bit rushed and I find it odd that Nico won't talk about someone that she had such a close relationship with. 

I'm glad that I read it, but it's unlikely that I'll read it again anytime soon.

Disclosure:  I received my copy of Goldengrove from the publisher to participate in the book group hosted at Everyday I Write the Book. 


Sunday, August 15, 2010

Kids Corner: A Big, Big Dream by Michael Scott Roberts

Did somebody say Chocolate?  I'm a simple girl, I prefer a plain old Hershey's Milk Chocolate with almonds over Godiva.  When I saw that this children's book was the story of Milton Hershey I was overjoyed.  

Children receive so many different messages on a daily basis.  As parents we can control some of them, but not all of them.  I try to make sure that my little monkey receives more positive ones than negative ones.  

While this story is a bit over his head, he enjoys looking at the pictures and knows what chocolate is.  The story reinforces dreaming big and going for your goals which is something even us "grown ups" need to be reminded of now and again.

Disclosure:  I received my copy of A Big, Big Dream through AME Marketing.  This is my honest opinion of the book. 


Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Author Spotlight: Holly Christine

Last week I had the pleasure of reviewing Tuesday Tells it Slant by Holly Christine.  This week I get to welcome Holly to Teresa's Reading Corner to talk a little about character development and her inspiration for Tuesday.  Please welcome Holly Christine!

I’m a collector. I write down bits of dialogue, character traits that I find interesting, concepts; you name it. I have piles of information. When I’m ready to do something with them, I pull together all of my little notes and rip off a piece of the 18 x 24” drawing paper that I really should be buying in bulk. The paper is the perfect size for putting bits of a character together: their physical descriptions, their mannerisms, their intentions, and the way they present themselves. Each character gets a piece of paper. After I’ve finished pulling the characters together, I use another sheet of drawing paper and give each character their own bubble. I then connect the character bubbles with lines and write down the nature of their relationship. It’s fun to watch all of my little sticky notes come together as characters instead of small, random notes!

The inspiration for Tuesday Tells it Slant came about during a ride into work. I was singing along to John Mayer’s Who Says and part of the song is about someone who wants to be free of their past, to rewrite their own history. So I started to brainstorm; how could someone rewrite their past? Why would they want to? I was also inspired by an Emily Dickinson poem that I studied in college: Tell all the Truth but tell it Slant. I ended up using a Dickinson poem (she wrote so many about memory) to preface each chapter.  I spent an entire semester studying Emily Dickinson, so that part of Tuesday came from me. It’s funny how bits of a writer’s life come out in their writing. I’m glad that I could put my Dickinson knowledge to use!
Holly, Thank you so much for stopping by Teresa's Reading Corner Today.  I really enjoyed Tuesday Tells it Slant.  I am looking forward to checking out your other work.

For more information on Tuesday Tells it Slant or Holly Christine, please stop by one of these links!

Buy the Book:

Buy for Kindle:

I do not receive any compensation if you use either of these links.  They are provided purely for the convenience of the reader.


Tuesday, August 10, 2010

How do I look?

I am so excited about the changes taking place at Teresa's Reading Corner.  The lovely Jessica from A Fanatics Book Blog was kind enough to put together my Header and Button as well as helping me work out some feed issues.  She's also made it easier for you to find me on Goodreads and Twitter.

Thank you Jessica!

So tell me, how do I look?

With Friends Like These by Sally Koslow

A portion of the Synopsis featured on Goodreads 
Have you ever been a less than perfect friend? To whom does your first loyalty belong—your best friend or your husband? With her trademark wit and empathy, Sally Koslow explores the entangled lives of women in this candid, fast-paced novel.

Quincy, Talia, Chloe, and Jules met in the early nineties after answering a roommate ad for a Manhattan apartment. Despite having little in common, the women became fast friends. A decade later, their lives have diverged, though their ties remain strong.

My thoughts: The story starts out introducing the four characters just out of college and trying to start their young professional lives in Manhattan.  When I started the book I thought that I was going to read about the party lives of four young people in New York.  I couldn't have been more mistaken.  

The story quickly advances ten years and takes on a very different tone.  Its not about parties, booze and men.  It is about the trials and tribulations of life in their early thirties.  Three of the four are married and two of them have children.  They are worried about apartments, careers and husbands.  If you think this sounds dull, don't worry, there is PLENTY of snark to go around.  For friends these women are downright evil toward one another.  There was more than one occasion on which I actually spoke the word "WOW" out loud. 

There is a particular stereotype that exists regarding women that I have been fortunate enough not to experience since junior high school. Have you ever had a friend do something to you that was just wrong?  What did it do your your friendship?  Were you able to move past it or was that the end of it?   

If you are looking for a guilty pleasure that won't add inches to your waistline you must pick up With Friends Like these by Sally Koslow which releases today, August 10,2010.

Disclosure: I received my copy of With Friends Like These by Sally Koslow through Pump Up your Book Promotions.  This did not affect my opinion of the book in any way.  This is my honest opinion of the book.  

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Saturday, August 7, 2010

Jane Austen Ruined My Life by Beth Patillo

Please bear with me as I try something new... no Goodreads Synopsis!

What its about:  Emma Douglas is a good girl.  She's always done what was expected of her and believed in Happy Endings.  That is until the untimely end of her marriage and an unexpected gap in employment leaves her homeless and without direction.  Emma packs up everything she has and heads to England to learn more about her favorite author, Jane Austen in hopes of reviving her career and finding herself.

My thoughts:  This was a really fun read.  As you know I read Pride and Prejudice for the first time earlier this year.  I have yet to read any of her other works so some of the references in the book did not mean much to me.  I don't believe that this detracted from the story although I acknowledge that some parts might have felt more significant had I read Austen's work and known what the reference meant. 

The story contains all of the typical elements of a woman who has just gone through a nasty divorce and has set out on a journey of self discovery.  On this journey Emma discovers that she'd lost far more than she realized.  In a sense she goes through an awakening process that leads her to make some major decisions.  I think that the book definitely could have gone another direction and a lot of readers would have been more satisfied with the conclusion.  I like the way that Beth Patillo ended the story in a fashion atypical to the "divorced woman goes out to find herself and finds happily ever after."  This is not to say that Emma doesn't find this... its just not what you expect.

I will say this, if you enjoy good old fashioned chivalry set in a modern scene you will like this book.  It is a great lighter read that I will be keeping around to read again in the future.

Beth Patillo has a number of books out.  Please take a look at her website for more information.

Disclosure:  I received my copy of Jane Austen ruined my lift by Beth Patillo from Phenix & Phenix Literary Publicists in the hopes that I would review it on my blog.  This is my honest opinion of Jane Austen Ruined my life. 


Friday, August 6, 2010

It's time for the Friday Blog Hop

Book Blogger HopHappy Friday!!  It's time for our favorite Weekend Blog Hop.  The Book Blogger Hop is coordinated by the lovely Jennifer over at Crazy for Books.  I've found many of my favorite blogs and a lot of new authors through the Blog Hop.

The hop is a simple three step process.  First you have to blog about it answering the question of the week so people have a place to say hello when they hop by and they can learn a little bit about you.  Second you leave your link in Jennifer's Post.  Third, you have to visit some of the other blogs on the hop, look at their blog and let them know you were there.  A lot of bloggers will take the the time to visit you back.  Its a great way to "meet" one another.

This weeks question:  Do you listen to music when you read? If so, what are your favorite reading tunes?

Occasionally I will listen to music while reading.  If I do, it has to be something without lyrics.  Most often I am reading in places where other people are having conversations (the lounge at work) or while my husband is watching television so there is usually some sort of background noise.  

How about you?

If you've come to Teresa's Reading Corner from the hop, Welcome!  I hope you'll take a look around and stay awhile.  At the very least, let me know you were here so that I can stop by and say hello.

Let the games begin!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Tuesday Tells it Slant by Holly Christine

Synopsis from Goodreads:  Tuesday Morning has always been a little different. She's kept a diary since 1989 and while researching for her English Lit thesis in 2003 on Emily Dickinson's transcendental tendencies, finds a poem that will change her life. Haunted by a past that she considers less than desirable, Tuesday recreates her history with the stroke of a pen. Page by page, year by year, she rewrites her painful memories as she has always fantasized. Bullied and discontented with her body before, she now becomes popular, thin and desired. Throughout this cleansing process, she consciously decides what to keep and what to toss. She scans her old diary entries for words that trigger painful and unpleasant thoughts: Fat Tuesday (her nickname in high school), Katie (her childhood neighbor turned bully), Writer (her dream of becoming) and Monday (her identical twin sister). Tuesday finds herself in an odd place six years later, unknowingly spending each day of her life as someone that she was never meant to become. With each breath of her new life, Tuesday obliviously loses more of herself. When a special person of her past returns to her present, Tuesday is forced to choose between the life that she had once desired and her true self. We all have deep secrets and skeletons in our closets. Imagine having the ability to not only change the past, but also completely alter the present and future. How far will Tuesday go to erase her past? And how much of herself will she lose in the process?

My thoughts:  I'll admit it, I was confused until I was was abut halfway through the book. We learn about Tuesday's life through her diary, and what a life she has.  I initially didn't understand why I was reading three versions of the same incident.  It seemed like there was a lot of jumping around for awhile, then it finally hit me.  Once I "got" it, I really enjoyed this book.  

I was immediately intrigued by the characters and amused by the early entries in Tuesday's diary.  I'm sure we all remember those days in the cafeteria in elementary school.  One person was always getting picked on by the "cool" kids.  Tuesday was that kid.   As an adult Tuesday was a bit of a mess which made her that much more endearing.  I'd love to read more about what Tuesday does with the next phase of her life.

In my quest for a lighter more fun summer reading schedule Tuesday Tells it Slant fit the bill.  I always like a book that can teach me something or expose me to something new (in this case Emily Dickinson) and be enjoyable at the same time.  I have a feeling I'll be picking this one up again.

Disclosure:  I received a copy of this book through Booksparks PR to participate in this blog tour.  This is my honest opinion of the book.

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Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Sand in My Eyes by Christine Lemmon

Synopsis from Goodreads:  An older woman growing flowers, a younger woman caught up in the weeds, and the seasons of life.

Twenty years ago, Anna Hott thought she could control everything – her crumbling marriage, her demanding children, her hectic life – by quitting her high-paced job in New York City and moving her family to tranquil Sanibel Island, Florida. But she brought her untamed emotions, her rage toward her cheating husband, and her yearning to write a novel with her. When her husband and children left the house for a week, Anna thought at last she would get her household, her novel, and her mind in order. Instead, her elderly neighbor Fedelina Aurelio knocked on her door bearing flowers and homespun wisdom, and when Fedelina’s recently divorced son arrived, Anna had a test of passions and a test of truth. Now, at 56 with an empty nest, Anna Holt pulls out the incomplete manuscript she started that memorable week and – to find closure for her life and a conclusion for her novel – travels to Indiana to visit Fedelina who lives in a nursing home.

A novel framed within a novel, Sand in My Eyes is both a story about the tension between motherhood and personal dreams as well as a story about women across generations inspiring one another to let beauty persist despite ugly circumstances.

My thoughts:  Have you heard the phrase about friendships that each one serves a particular purpose and that a friend comes into your life for a reason, a season or a lifetime.  I think the same can be said for books.  I kept thinking this phrase over and over as I was reading this book.  Fedelina and Anna needed one another at this particular point in their lives.  Fedelina was able to provide wisdom and insight to the younger woman.  Anna was able to ease the loneliness of the older woman.    There was so much that I liked about this story.  I think my absolute favorite parts were the life lessons learned in the garden.  I remembered to write down a few, but I'm sure that I missed some.  

Life Lessons learned in the Garden
1.  The Roses tell us to take time to recharge, you will bloom more if you do.
2.  The Daisies tell us to appreciate the simple things 
3.  Sunflowers remind us that spirituality is your stem.  Nurture it and you will stand tall.
4. Just like us, Orchids need kind words and love in order to bloom.
5.  (I can't remember the flower) flowers only have so many petals.  Keep your priorities to a minimum.

Another lesson that I found noteworthy had to do with what others thought of you.  In the passage, Fedelina's mother is out "playing" in the dirt.  Some might think that trying to grow roses was a waste of time, but she didn't.  "But you will know the difference between playing and toiling in that toiling brings forth changes in your life-even if that change is in your state of mind".  pg 145 

If you've read the book, did you find any life lessons in the garden that I haven't included?

This book provided me with some much needed insight and taught me lessons that I hope I don't forget.  I enjoyed the story within a story.   Unlike some, I found it easy to follow the change from past to present as they were broken out into chapters.  I was very happy with how the story turned out.  

I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a good "escape to the beach and sort out life" kind of story.  It wasn't quite as light as Beachcombers by Nancy Thayer but still falls into the same category. 

Christine Lemmon is the author of three novels and one gift book.  Her other titles are Sanibel Scribbles, Portion of the Sea, and Whisper from the ocean.  I hope to pick up another one of her books soon.  Great summer reading. 
Disclosure:  I received my copy of Sand in My Eyes from Booksparks PR in order to participate in this blog tour.  This is my honest opinion of the book. 

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