Friday Friends: Jerry Dwyer, Reader

Happy Friday, Friends!  I interview authors, bloggers, and readers on Fridays. We are #humanswholovebooks. Today I am delighted to share a very special interview with you: my own dear father, who instilled in me my love of reading and writing. Welcome, Dad!

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1. What are you reading right now?
Restless Hearts: Walking the Camino de Santiago by Roy Uprichard

2. What did you read last?
Who We Were Before by Leah Mercer (literary fiction I found on Kindle Unlimited)

3. What do you look for in a book?
I like to research before traveling – fiction, history and travel guides. Before going to Barcelona last year I read Barcelona by Robert Hughes, The Cemetery of Forgotten Books series (three books) by Carlos Ruiz Zafon, The South: A Novel by Colm Toibin, and Rick Steves’ Pocket Barcelona.
See # 12 below for more examples.

4. What book has most influenced you?
I can only narrow it down to three books: one from my youth, one from my middle age, and one from my senior years.
When I was 18 I read War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy and my love for great literature was kindled.
When I was in my 40s I read Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy and my love for western Americana took a big hit.
The most thought-provoking book I read in the 21st century was Atonement by Ian McEwan.

5. How many books did you read in the last 12 months?
41 (I just had to add up the titles on my iPad!)

6. What book would you recommend for your younger self?
Les Miserables by Victor Hugo.

7. What book have you disliked?
Ian McEwan is one of my favorite contemporary authors. I thoroughly enjoyed Saturday which I read prior to our trip to London in 2013 and since then have read six more of his novels. All of his books are well-written but I did not like some of his surprise endings and one book, The Comfort of Strangers, I didn’t like at all.

8. A popular book is becoming a film. Do you read the book first, or see the movie first?
The book. We usually wait till a movie is on TV. I read Girl on a Train: A Novel by Paula Hawkins a couple of months ago and the movie isn’t out yet!

9. What are your favorite travel books?
Rick Steves’ travel guides. We take these along for our walks when we visit places in Europe. Most of the other books I have read lately are ebooks. For our trip to Paris in 2014 we also made good use of a delightful little book called Forever Paris by Christina Henry de Tessan. Its subtitle tells it all: 25 Walks in the Footsteps of Chanel, Hemingway, Picasso, and More.

10. What is one thing you have learned from books?
It’s a great big world out there! I love to read about people traveling somewhere, meeting other people and seeing historical sites and then go there myself.

11. Is there a book that you once loved, but can’t stand anymore?
No.

12. Is there anything you would like to add?
Before our trip to Paris in 2014 I read A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway and The Greater Journey: Americans in Paris by David McCullough. On our return from Paris I read The Hunchback of Notre Dame by Victor Hugo.
Before, during and after our recent trip to Scotland I read a total of four Isabel Dalhousie mysteries by Alexander McCall Smith.
Before our trip to Italy in 2009 I read A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway, Michelangelo’s Mountain by Eric Scigliano, and Angels and Demons by Dan Brown.
Before our trip to Spain in 2010 I read For Whom the Bell Tolls by Ernest Hemingway and Tales of the Alhambra by Washington Irving.
Rick Steves doesn’t publish guide books on Australia; so in 2011 I read In a Sunburned Country by Bill Bryson before going to Australia.
Finally, I would like to add that I never travel without a camera and I like to read photography books, too, especially those on the history of photography.

Friday Friends:Eachan Lee, Reader

After interviewing writers and bloggers for almost a year,  I decided it might be fun to interview readers, as well. I find it fascinating to hear what booklovers have to say about their books. Don’t you?  Welcome, Eachan!

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1. What are you reading right now?
Hollow City by Ransom Riggs. It’s the sequel to Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. The basis for his characters/story are old black and white photographs that have been rigged to twist the images in some way, like photoshopping back in the days before anyone could buy a camera, much less a digital one. It’s a bit hard to explain but for example there’s a photo that shows a kid apparently lifting a huge boulder, so the corresponding character is a kid with super strength. It’s set around the world wars, so it’s kind of an old timey, kid super hero deal. He’s a relatively new writer and it’s a pretty good effort.
2. What did you read last?
I went back and re-read the Man-Kzin wars series. The universe was created by Larry Niven, who is a big hard science fiction writer. The books themselves consist of short stories written by both established and up and coming writers who are, as he puts it, “in his playground”. It’s mostly good storytelling with differing tones/styles but all in the same setting.
3. What book has most influenced you?
When I was in my teens I read The Way of the Peaceful Warrior by Dan Millman as well as Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card (very cliché). I wouldn’t say they changed my lives, but some of the themes and concepts related to the human experience and human nature I’ve found true to life even to this day. The original Dune books by Frank Herbert were interesting in a similar way that spoke more collective human nature that also speaks to me.
4. How many books did you read last year?
Who knows? I kill off a book in a matter of days, so maybe 50?
5. What book would you recommend for your younger self?
Oh that’s really hard to say. I’ve been an avid reader ever since I figured out how and I don’t really have any regrets when it comes to how my tastes have evolved. Maybe I’d tell myself to avoid books that later became movies, does that count? Although the cinematic experience is sometimes great, I’ve always felt the storytelling and character development suffer in those conversions.
6. What book have you disliked?
That’s an odd one as even if I don’t particularly like a book, I usually finish it to complete the experience and see where the author is going. There’s really only one book I only managed to get only a few chapters into and that was Hunters of Dune by Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson. I was always wary of their writing as they opted to pursue prequels to the original Dune books rather than the sequel that was cut off after FH’s death. I tend to look down on sequels in general as it’s often a case of “write the characters before they became the hero/villain” and “match the ending to the beginning of the original books”. It’s honestly very fluffy work in my opinion and had none of the deeper themes or gravitas that underlay his father’s work. The characters were changed drastically in nature and motivation, which was ridiculous considering that they were very well established characters.
7. Do you prefer to read fiction or non-fiction? Do you prefer a genre?
I do enjoy a good history book, but I mostly read fiction. I think the vicarious experience is more complete as a fiction writer can take liberties that need to be treated carefully in non-fiction. I tend to lean towards sci-fi as I do enjoy what some people like to call speculative fiction where they fast forward existing science to create a more plausible world, then use those altered aspects to frame what should still be a human(esque) story. It’s like the difference between the Martian vs Star Wars.
8. Do you prefer fast-paced plot advancement or world building exposition?
I prefer world building over the fast read. As I tend to re-read books quite a bit, I like finding new bits or call backs/forward within a larger narrative universe. Unfortunately those quick moving plots don’t have the same fascination when I go back to them as the payoff is in the ending versus in the build up.
9. Do you prefer to read an actual book, or e-books?
I’ll read an e-book, but I prefer physical books. It just feels more soothing to me than swiping through pages. Also I have a habit of flipping back to look at previous foreshadowing and that’s a huge hassle for e-books.
10. A popular book is becoming a film. Do you read the book first, or see the movie first?
I always see the movie first. I tend to go into those movies annoyed at alterations or things that are flat out cut. There are some good adaptations, but some movies are obviously just taking the name to draw in a guaranteed audience. I Robot and World War Z are two egregious examples that pop into my head.
11. What would be the title of your life story?
Ha! I lead a decidedly mundane existence. It’ll borrow one from the bard and say Much Ado About Nothing
12. What is the ideal environment in which to read a book?
Ideally? On a beach with the breeze and the light just right. But I do a read a lot in bed.
13. Is there anything you would like to add?
Harry Potter and JK Rowling are overrated. They’re tasty bits of pop fiction, but not particularly deep or inventive. If you want your kids to experience a British author that creates interesting world, stories and characters, hand them some Roald Dahl.

Friday Friends: Booklover Dani Lorta

Happy Friday, Friends!  I have been interviewing authors and bloggers on Fridays all year, and then this summer I decided to also feature Booklovers a.k.a #humanswholovebooks. Please Jon me in welcoming a very dear friend today: Dani Lorta!

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1. What are you reading right now?
At the moment, I’m re-reading Falling into Bed with a Duke by Lorraine Heath and You Are A Badass by Jen Sincero

2. What did you read last?
Waking Up with A Duke by Lorraine Heath

3. What book has most influenced you?
The Red Tent by Anita Diamant

4. How many books did you read last year? I’m not sure. Fewer than I would have liked.

5. What book would you recommend for your younger self? The Red Tent. I wish I had read it when I was just entering my adolescence.

6. What book have you disliked? Catcher in the Rye

7. Do you prefer a genre? Most recently, I’ve discovered historical romance is a fun way to relax.

8. A popular book is becoming a film. Do you read the book first, or see the movie first? Always see the movie first so you’re not comparing it to the book and end up disappointed.

9. What would be the title of your life story? Dani Lorta in Real Life

10. What is one thing you have learned from books? I’ve learned that bad things happen all the time. Every life has challenges. The story is in how to learn and grow from the experience.

11. Is there a book that you once loved, but can’t stand anymore? No. My books are my friends. We may not talk for a while, but we always pick up where we left off.

12. Is there anything you would like to add? I’m eternally grateful that my parents always encouraged me to read anything that interested me. My selections were hugely diverse and I have learned so much from all that I’ve read in my life.

Thank you, Dani ❤ 

Readers, have you read any of Dani’s books? What did you think? Tell us in the comments! 

Friday Friends: Dylan Quinn

Happy Friday, Friends!  I have been featuring authors, bloggers and readers on Fridays for the past year.  It is my way of giving back to the community. Let’s hear it for #humanswholovebooks! 

Today I am delighted to feature author Dylan Quinn, who not only has a new book coming out, she has a special free offer TODAY.  Gemini is free on Amazon today. Be sure to click on over to download Gemini (link below). Welcome, Dylan! 
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1. So, what have you written?

What haven’t I written? Lol. When I was five, I would sing songs and make up stuff as I walked to and from school. From there I started writing songs, poems, and short stories. In college, I wrote for the school newspaper and was eventually promoted to editor-in-chief. I got my journalism degree and started freelancing for online news magazines. And finally, in 2015, I finished Gemini in FIVE weeks, my first full-length book and have written two since then, Perfectly Flawed, a RS novel, and Origin, the follow-up to Gemini.

2. What subjects & causes are near and dear to your heart?

Music. It’s my first true love. I was a vocal music performance major and on the road to becoming a singer when life intervened, and my path veered off in another direction, but I sing and listen to music every waking minute and can’t function without it.
And writing. It’s more than just a hobby or a career. I was one of those people who felt invisible, but writing gave me a voice. I found myself when I started to write.

As for causes, one is empowering women. I was raised by a single mom, and I’m a single mom. Women feel like they have to do it all, be it all, and have it all. It’s exhausting, and I see women at each other’s throats rather than supporting them. Woman up and stick together, ladies.

Finally, my youngest son has Autism. It will always be something I support and care deeply for.

3. Are you a Pantser or a Planner?

While I do occasionally attempt to plan out my books, I’ve found that pantsing is the way to go. Of the three books I’ve written, only one was plotted, and TBH, I had SO much more editing to do for that book than I did the pantsing books. That said, I’ve since retired from major plotting. I do have scene ideas in my head that I try to come up with, but I often find myself creating supporting characters on the fly that end up having HUGE roles later in the stories, as well as random scenes that evolve into huge plotlines. That totally happened in both Gemini and Origin! So yeah. Pantsers unite!

4. Tell us about your love of Moscato and chocolate-covered strawberries?

I’m known for having a major sweet tooth, and Moscato D’asti (sweet fizzy beverage fun) and chocolate-covered strawberries are my fave celebratory snacks! I eat my CCS like I eat pizza… I peel off the top (the yummy chocolate covering) first, then move on the juicy strawberry hiding inside. Yum.

5. What is one unusual thing about you?

I can sometimes control my dreams. As in, I can fall asleep thinking of something and dream about it. And I write about it! For reals.

6. What music inspires you?

OMG, SO much I can’t even! I have playlists for everything. When I’m writing a fighting scene and need something upbeat, when I’m writing romantic schmexy scenes, and everything in between. I love hard rock, to alternative, pop and top 40, folk music and even musicals like Wicked… Boom.

7. How many books did you read last year?

I was an intern for Entangled Publishing last year, so I probably read about 20 for them? As for myself, I’d say between editing and reading for fun, add another 15-20? So yeah. Maybe 40?

8. Ranch or Blue Cheese?

Ranch.

9. What are you working on right now?

I have to start by saying I’m a wicked multi-tasker, so at any given moment, I have multiple projects in the works. I’m currently writing Genesis the final segment of Cade and Zoe’s story in the Eternal Sacrifice Saga and planning all its companion novels/novellas I hope to publish in the next few years (about 6-7, including a spin-off series!). I’ve started writing a sexy contemporary romance series (w/suspense) and I’m editing book 1 and planning its follow-ups as well as spin off ideas. And finally, I’m doing character development and research for a contemporary romantic suspense standalone I hope to release before the end of the year. Whew. I’m tired now!

10. What tv shows/ movies are you watching these days?

Well, The Vampire Diaries are always somewhere in the background (what can I say, I’m a hardcore Damon Salvatore fan) and when I have time, I find shows that I can use for research. Revenge and Royal Pains (I’m starting a series based in the Hamptons next summer!) Movies, I’ve been watching gambling shows like Twenty-One and Rounders (more research). Whenever I need some inspiration for fighting scenes, I watch John Wick and for romance, I watch Crazy, Stupid Love or The Time Traveller’s Wife.

11. Do you have a theme song?

It’s a total tie: Woman Up by Meghan Trainer and No Good Deed Goes Unpunished from the wicked soundtrack. *drops mic*

12. What is one thing you would tell your younger self?

Trust your instincts. Don’t be afraid to go with your gut.

13. Is there anything else you would like to share with us today?

Just a message… Your voice matters. Sing it, baby!

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Gemini is the first novel in my Romantic Contemporary Fantasy Series, Eternal Sacrifice. There will be three more full-length novels and three novellas to be published between now and August, 2017.

Title: Gemini
Series: Eternal Sacrifice, Book One
Author: Dylan Quinn
Genre: Urban Fantasy Romance/New Adult Romance
Themes: Family, mythology, angels and demons, coming of age
Heat Level: Mild (See author’s note below)
Publisher: 621-Phoenix Publishing
Release Date: June 21, 2016

On Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Gemini-Eternal-Sacrifice-Saga-Book-ebook/dp/B01DVNQQSW/ref=cm_cr_arp_d_product_top?ie=UTF8#nav-subnav

Add to Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/29847798-gemini

Message from the author on heat level:
Gemini is not your typical NA/steamy read. It’s a romantic coming of age story that shows the natural progression of Cade and Zoe’s relationship. That said, there is plenty of romance and sexual tension between them, and the heat level will increase as their relationship evolves naturally throughout the series.

Dylan’s Social Media Links:
Website ~ Twitter ~ Facebook ~ Goodreads

dylanquinnMeet Dylan Quinn:
Since sneak reading her first big girl romance at the age of eleven, Dylan’s been addicted to Happily Ever Afters. Playing pretend with adorable book boyfriends and their strong leading ladies often keeps her sleep deprived, though she seldom complains about dreaming in dialogue.

With juxtaposed interests, Dylan writes it all ~ Character-driven romance in YA, NA and adult, from sticky sweet to taboo heat. From Urban and Contemporary Fantasy to PNR, and Contemporary to Romantic Suspense. Nothing’s off limits.

When she’s not writing guilty pleasures, Dylan plays stage mom to her daydreamer offspring and her furbaby kitty Loki. This music fangirl goes nowhere without her beats and playlists. She has an affinity for Moscato and chocolate-covered strawberries. Dreams of singing on the Voice with Adam and Christina, and fantasizes about getting trapped in Mystic Falls with Damon Salvatore.

 

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Two Souls. One Sacrifice.
His love was worth dying for
Is their love worth dying for, or is five incarnations more than one soul can take?

Gemini Description:
Northwestern University senior Zoe Adams has spent her fifth incarnation on the run. Abused and abandoned by those she once trusted, Zoe turns her back on a duty her soul accepted lifetimes ago to focus on a music career in this one. Until her Gemini Twin Soul’s untimely arrival forces Zoe to choose between a love she can’t remember and a life she’s always dreamed of.

Cade Adams has waited twenty-one years to reclaim his beloved soul mate, but his elation is short lived. As Zoe struggles to let go of her human life, demons from Cade’s past threaten the Gemini, and he finds himself living on borrowed time.

With more than just the fate of their reunion at stake, love becomes an Eternal Sacrifice Zoe and Cade may not escape.

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Fashion portrait of young beautiful pretty girl posing against lilac bushes in blossom

Gemini Excerpt published with permission © 2016 Dylan Quinn

Cade
While I held her, every nerve woke from its slumber. My heartbeat increased, a hum of electricity coursed through me. Just being near her was intoxicating.
I wanted so much to kiss her lips, but I wouldn’t. Not until she wanted me to. Until her body spoke to me.
“So what can you tell me?” she asked. “What’s the plan?”
“The plan is you get to know me. The way all relationships develop.” I released her just enough to see her eyes. “We spend time together, and your heart will answer the rest. And when you so choose, I am yours—heart and soul.”
Although in time, she would understand that I already was.
“What’s the catch? Other than giving up my life here and going to Aravot? I need all the information if I’m going to make a decision this big.”
“There is a reason you cannot be privy to all the secrets of this life. This must be a decision made by your soul. No logic can go into choosing love.”
Her eyes narrowed, irritation returned.
“Well in case you’ve missed the past millennium, people today don’t just fall in love overnight. Life’s not a Disney movie.” She pulled away.
I let her go, and pushed my hands into my pockets.
She was right. Unions in modern times were complicated. There were many variables humans considered in choosing a mate and Zoe, although the same soul, had different experiences during each lifetime. I could not force her to love me or to choose our life together, as much as I wished that I could.
Each of her lives was a lesson for me as well—in relinquishing control. All I could do was trust in her heart and our love. Trust her soul would remember me.
“I realize all things in life are a choice. I would never force you to love me. And I would never choose my happiness over yours, but yes. I am hoping your heart will choose me.”
Her shoulders relaxed, eyes softened, but never left mine. Her breathing slowed, and her lips parted slightly, just enough to send my heart racing.
My Gemini mark began to pulse. To burn.
I wanted to kiss her. She wanted to kiss me.
After thousands of years loving Zoe, I could read her body as if it were my own.
The flush of her cheeks. Her forehead glistening with perspiration. The way she leaned, shuffled her feet, inhaled short breaths. Her gaze drifting between my mouth and my eyes. The tilt of her head. Her parted lips parting, skimming them with her teeth.
Searching her body for what Raz called her ‘tells,’ I first glanced at her eyes. They were always so telling. They skipped about my face.
Her breaths became shallow, lips parted. A pink flush spread across her high cheekbones as she leaned toward me, shifting nervously between her feet.
Should I kiss her? Part of me was unsure, but my body betrayed my wits.
I had waited twenty-one years for this moment. I could wait no longer.
I stepped closer, inhaled her sweet scent. Lessened the space between us.
Her eyes grew wider, lips parted. Waiting.
I could nearly hear her heart pulsing erratically.
She gave her answer.
“My greatest desire is for you to find happiness.”
I stepped closer. Picked up a long strand of her dark locks, and tucked it behind her ear. Ran my fingers along her jaw. Gently grasped her chin, stroked her bottom lip with my thumb, then shifted toward her.
“You have no memory of our life before this. But I’ve seen us together.” I wrapped my arms around her waist. Pulled her closer, our lips just fractions apart. Our gaze frozen.
“And I will always. Choose us.”
I leaned in, her soft breath blew against my cheek. I pressed my lips to hers. Gentle. Soft. Trembling.
The tingling sensation I had missed so much returned, ran rampant through my body.
I pulled back, not more than a centimeter, to gauge her response.
Her eyes remained closed, lips parted. Waiting for my return.
I brushed my lips to hers, gentle then deeper. They parted further still, and I edged my way in, exploring her sweet mouth.
My body shuddered, a searing heat rushed through me—through my chest, my arms and tingling within my muscles.
Every fiber of my soul, now burned for her. Alive from her touch.
Zoe fell into my embrace, let go of all the tension she’d been holding. She wrapped her arms around my neck, pressed her chest against mine, and tangled her fingers through the hair behind my neck. Moved them down my cheeks, then to my shoulders and waist.
The exploration of her soft fingertips brought my body to life. My soul. Everything woke inside of me.
She pressed her kiss deeper into mine, soft at first, then fervently, as if this was our last.
Her walls were breaking down—the pain replaced with a longing for our love.
She would soon remember everything, and I would have my Chayah back.
Our souls converged as one.
Zoe broke our kiss. Pulled back and gasped for a breath. Slowly, she opened her eyes.
Minutes passed. She relaxed, hands still holding my waist. Her gaze drifted up, peered at me through ebony lashes.
Tears slid from her glistening green eyes. “It’s you.”
I placed my hands on her warm cheeks, held her gently. Gazed into her eyes, breezed my whisper of admission across her cheek.
“It’s me.”

 

Click here for your free download of Gemini!

Friday Friends: #Booklover Natasha Botkin

Happy Friday, Friends! I’ve been interviewing writers and bloggers on Fridays for the past year, and I’ve decided to interview readers, too! We are #humanswholovebooks!  

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Good morning everyone! I absolutely love to read. I often say that I have to have a library to afford my habit: not enough space or money. For years I worked as Title 1 educator in the intervention of reading and writing and now I am an educator in Special Education and English Language Arts (in other words reading, writing, listening and speaking.) and #1 International Best Selling Author.
1. what are you reading right now? At this point in time, I am fluctuating between “365 Moments of Grace” (I am a contributing Author-Yeah!) or “The Secret Language of Stones” by M. J. Rose. “The Secret Language of Stones” has an interesting view point on how crystal energies speak and vibrate. The female character has much that she is wrestling about her with her “gifts.” I have just begun to read this, in fact, I was quite surprised by the wealth of history about the fall of the Romanov empire and World War I that is gracing this storyline.
2. What did you read last? Well, there were quite a few, so let’s go with “The House at the End of Hope Street” by Menna van Praag. This was a sweet treasure of a read. Those who are in need of the house’s gifts are unknowingly called to grace its doorsteps. This has been going on for years and many ladies have come to heal and move forward to a much nicer life.
3. What book has most influenced you? I have found that so many books influence me. So, I could not possibly choose just one. I am avid reader of adult fiction, non-fiction and children’s books (for teaching purposes). I can attest from a social skills part of my educating youth, I have found one book that I turn to again and again. It is a children’s book called “The Color of Us” by Karen Katz. It is a simple read; however, it delivers a powerful message describing how we are all different colors and she wisely utilizes foods as descriptors; this is a great way to help children and adults see the in the beauty of all of our colors.
4. How many books did you read last year? Um, now that is a good question. It may be near the hundreds. Like I have stated before I have a huge love of reading!
5. What book would you recommend for your younger self? Read as many as you possibly can and to never stop.
6. Do you prefer a genre? Not really, even though I do not find myself in the science fiction or romance world too often.
7. A popular book is becoming a film. Do you read the book first, or see the movie first? But of course, I read the book first and then shake my head at the movie; declaring “the book is just so much better.
9. What would be the title of your life story? I absolutely love this! I was just saying that I am living the life of a book I am to write. So, once this is down the universe will now wish for me to fulfill this masterpiece and I have you all to thank for that: “Unearthing and Excavating My Soul- A Journey Back to my True Heart.”
10. What is one thing you have learned from books? Life is one incredible journey full of characters and plenty of stories that are meant to have fun with and not take everything so seriously.
11. Is there a book that you once loved, but can’t stand anymore? Not really, then again I do not too often re-read a book; well that is unless, I am to teach it. Then again, I usually have sticky notes galore attached in important teaching places.
12. Is there anything you would like to add? May you too, enjoy the love of a good book.

Friday Friends: Booklovers: Michelle Murray

Happy #FridayFriends! I am featuring Booklovers this month: #HumansWhoLoveBooks.  Today I am delighted to introduce you to my cousin, Michelle Murray. Hi, Michelle!

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1. What are you reading right now?

Rasputin’s Shadow by Raymond Khoury (literally right now as I got this [message].) It’s the fourth book in a series featuring FBI agent Sean Reilly and a pseudo-historical conspiracy. Similar vein as Dan Brown’s Da Vinci Code. Only on chapter 8, so don’t know exactly what’s going on yet.

2. What did you read last?

Just did a binge read of Harlan Coben’s young adult series featuring Mickey Bolitar, nephew of his adult series’ Myron Bolitar. Similar style, but simpler read with less complexity.

3. What book has most influenced you?

Hmmmmm… That’s a toughie, but probably something I read as a kid like Charlotte’s Web or Black Beauty. Books that fed my love of reading at a young age.

4. How many books did you read last year?

Not a whole lot really. The past few years I tend to go in fits and starts with books. So there are times when I go months with out reading any books and then follow up with reading voraciously for a few months. Generally speaking, I tend to do more reading around Christmas time as a result of hitting the bookstores looking for gifts for my parents (including a few books I will then borrow when they’ve read them.) Timing wise you lucked out that I just hit a book binge phase.

5. What book would you recommend for your younger self?

A book for my younger self… Well, my older self loved the Harry Potter series, so I can only imagine what kind of thrills I would have had reading those when I was 10 or so. Woulda had some serious late nights with the flashlight under the covers and grumpy mornings! There’s also Ken Follett’s Century Trilogy which would have been great reading for high school history classes (despite being insanely long!) It follows several families of characters in England, Germany, Russian, and the US from pre WWI through to the 1980s. I actually need to get back to reading the final book. Got started on it ages ago, but got busy with other things and haven’t gotten back to it. It’s the kind of book you want to set aside a couple of days where you can just sit and read uninterrupted. And since each book is 800 or so pages, you kind of need a lot of free time!

6. What book have you disliked?

I absolutely hated As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner. Like your previous interviewee who disliked Tess of the D’Urbervilles (which I enjoyed), it was an assigned reading for school. In fact, it was assigned summer reading for AP English between my junior and senior years of high school. I think I literally threw the book across the room a couple of times because I hated it so much and it was ruining my summer. It’s not a very long book — maybe 200 pages or so — about a family traveling across the country by wagon. It’s a stream of consciousness style book and every chapter was told from the viewpoint of a different character. Fortunately I had friends who suffered similarly that summer, so now 30+ years later all we need to say to each other is “my mother is a fish” (literally an entire chapter) to set of a series of both laughter and disdain in an instant. Totally turned me off
Faulkner and I’ve refused to read anything else he wrote. I’d rather read Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man by James Joyce again, and that book was painful to read.

7. Do you prefer a genre?

Most of my reading these days would fall into the “genre” classification (rather than say, “literature”.) I tend to stick to mystery/suspense or fantasy for the most part with some popular fiction (e.g. Ken Follett above) thrown in. Brain candy for the most part. I haven’t read much of what my mom and I call “sitting up books” lately. “Sitting up books” are ones you need to be alert and concentrate on and are more serious in style or content than things you read while falling asleep on the couch.

It’s really been awhile since I’ve read anything challenging, which I attribute to just being mentally fried from work and day to day activities. I’ve tried periodically to read more “serious” stuff, but I find I can’t hold my concentration.

8. A popular book is becoming a film. Do you read the book first, or see the movie first?

It depends on the book/movie. I don’t see a ton of movies these days, so it’s entirely possible that something comes out that’s based on a book but I’m not aware of it. If I do know the book AND am interested in seeing the movie, I will try to read the book first. I did that with the Lord of the Rings series, though in that case I was having the hardest time getting through the first book, that it took watching the first half of the movie (which was about as far as I had read) to get me to fly through the rest of the books. I’m not sure what about seeing what I had read jolted the system, but I’m glad it did.

9. What would be the title of your life story?

Not a clue. That’s not something I’ve ever really thought about.

10. What is one thing you have learned from books?

Probably empathy. By reading as much as I have over my life and finding emotional connections with fictional characters, it makes it much easier to connect on the human scale in reality.

11. Is there a book that you once loved, but can’t stand anymore?

None that I can think of.

12. Is there anything you would like to add?

Two things. First, I think it’s REALLY IMPORTANT to read to kids and give kids books. My parents really encouraged me to read from an early age and some of my fondest memories are of Grandma reading to me as a little girl.

Second, I am putting together a list of all the books I read in high school so I can read them again as an adult (with the obvious exception of As I Lay Dying.) After JD Salinger died a I went back and re-read Catcher in the Rye and it was interesting coming at it from an adult perspective. I’ll have to work back in to reading shape for some of them though as the language and style are so very different than the contemporary stuff I generally read. I love Charles Dickens, but have had the hardest time trying to re-read some of his books because I’m so out of practice with the language. Will have to start with some of the 20th century lit we read back then.

 

Thanks, Michelle!

Have YOU read any of the books Michelle mentioned?  What did you think?

 

 

Friday Friends: Katie Oliver &What Would Lizzy Bennet Do?

Happy Friday, Friends! I started hosting authors and booklovers on Fridays as a way of giving back to the wonderful book community. It is my pleasure to feature author Katie Oliver today.  I started reading her book on my recent vacation: What would Lizzy Bennet Do? And it’s fabulous Austenian chick lit fun!  Welcome, Katie!
image1. So, what have you written? – I’ve published nine books to date – three books in the ‘Dating Mr Darcy’ series, three in the ‘Marrying Mr Darcy’ series, and three ‘Jane Austen Factor’ books. My first book, Prada and Prejudice, was a number one bestseller and went on to sell well as a paperback.

Currently I’m working on a new story more in line with my earlier books and having great fun writing it. Two female characters cross paths with two sexy (but very different) men, and there are lots of misunderstandings, laughs, and, of course, romance…

2. What subjects & causes are near and dear to your heart? – Homelessness. People going hungry when perfectly good food is thrown out every day. And I don’t understand people who are deliberately rude or unkind. Like the bumper sticker says, mean people suck.

3. Are you a Pantser or a Planner? – I’m about evenly divided between the two. I’m a planner in that I plot the overall story arc in advance and sketch out my characters’ traits and motives/goals; but everything else I make up as I go along. It’s the best of both worlds, really.

4. Tell us about your love of Jane Austen? I came to Jane Austen a little late. I think I was in my late thirties before I saw the BBC version of Pride and Prejudice, which led me to finally read the book. I didn’t expect to like it as much as I did. It was amazing. Well-crafted. And it was brimming with wisdom, emotion, and comedic moments. Jane Austen had a rare gift for capturing not only the quirks and foibles of the people in her corner of the world, but of humanity at large. Her works are timeless and universally appealing and will always remain so.

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5. What is one unusual thing about you? If I didn’t write, I’d love to design and stage home interiors. I could really get into that…choosing the color palette, furnishings, artwork, rugs… Bliss!

6. What music inspires you? Music that evokes a feeling or emotion does the trick. I like pretty much anything by the Clash or Talking Heads, Bonnie Raitt, and Joni Mitchell. Definitely Joni Mitchell. A Woman of Heart and Mind and River are two particular favorites. Salisbury Hill by Peter Gabriel is unforgettable. And of course, I can’t leave out Depeche Mode.

7. How many books did you read last year? Not as many as I wish! Writing makes for less reading time, unfortunately. But I did read some great books by Bill Bryson, Patrick Taylor, Lynda Renham, Lauren Weisburger, Curtis Sittenfeld, and a few others. And I finally read The Secret Diary of Lizzy Bennet – and loved it!

8. Ranch or Blue Cheese? Um… Neither. Does that make me weird?

9. What are you working on right now? I’m writing an American romance set in Texas about a divorced couple who reconnect several years later. I’m also working on resurrecting an old Regency I started years ago and never finished. I’m kind of all over the place writing-wise right now.

10. What tv shows/ movies are you watching these days? Master Chef, Fixer Upper, Property Brothers (I’m on a home/DIY kick at the moment), and binge-watching Beach House Bargain Hunt. I’ve followed the soap opera, General Hospital, off and on since 1982. And I never tire of a good SpongeBob SquarePants episode.

11. Do you have a theme song? Hmm…as a writer, it would be I Will Survive. For my own theme song, I’d choose Silver Spring by Fleetwood Mac. I love that song, and the lyrics really resonate with me.

image12. What is one thing you would tell your younger self? Lighten up and let it go. In a year, or six months, or even a few days, it won’t matter. So don’t sweat it. And don’t beat yourself up over mistakes you’ve made. We all make ’em. Learn from them and move on.

13. Is there anything else you would like to share with us today? If you want to be a writer, go for it. It’s an amazing thing to get published, to be interviewed, to hold your first book in your hands. But know that it’s also a hard road. Develop a thick skin to cope with the inevitable rejections and bad reviews you’ll receive. Be prepared to promote yourself. Get an agent if you can, because he/she will open doors that are closed to un-agented writers.

Most importantly, connect and engage with your readers via Twitter and Facebook. Edit your work ruthlessly. Be polite, and always thank those who take the time to help you. And write the very best book you can.

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Website/blog: http://katieoliver.com/ko/blog/
Facebook Author Page: http://www.facebook.com/KatieOliverWriter
Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/katieoliver01/
Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7565829.Katie_Oliver
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/@katieoliver01
Carina UK/Pink Ink blog/website – https://pinkinkladies.wordpress.com
BIO:
Katie Oliver loves romantic comedies, characters who “meet cute,” Richard Curtis films, and Prosecco (not necessarily in that order). She currently resides in South Florida with her husband and two parakeets.
Katie’s been writing since she was eight, and has a box crammed with (mostly unfinished) novels to prove it. With her sons grown and gone, she decided to get serious and write more (and hopefully, better) stories. She even finishes most of them.
AMAZON UNIVERSAL BUY LINKS:

THE JANE AUSTEN FACTOR series

What Would Lizzy Bennet Do? – myBook.to/WWLBD

The Trouble With Emma – myBook.to/TroubleWEmma

Who Needs Mr Willoughby? – myBook.to/WNWilloughby

DATING MR DARCY series:

Prada & Prejudice – myBook.to/Prada

Love & Liability – myBook.to/LoveandLiability

Mansfield Lark – myBook.to/MansfieldLark

MARRYING MR DARCY series:

And the Bride Wore Prada – myBook.to/ATBWP

Love, Lies & Louboutins – myBook.to/LoveLiesLouboutins

Manolos in Manhattan – myBook.to/ManolosinManhattan