MY DARK VANESSA by Kate Elizabeth Russell

MY DARK VANESSA

RWS RATING: 5/5 STARS

RELEASE DATE: MARCH 10TH 2020

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TW: sexual abuse

SYNOPSIS:

Exploring the psychological dynamics of the relationship between a precocious yet naïve teenage girl and her magnetic and manipulative teacher, a brilliant, all-consuming read that marks the explosive debut of an extraordinary new writer.

2000. Bright, ambitious, and yearning for adulthood, fifteen-year-old Vanessa Wye becomes entangled in an affair with Jacob Strane, her magnetic and guileful forty-two-year-old English teacher.

2017. Amid the rising wave of allegations against powerful men, a reckoning is coming due. Strane has been accused of sexual abuse by a former student, who reaches out to Vanessa, and now Vanessa suddenly finds herself facing an impossible choice: remain silent, firm in the belief that her teenage self willingly engaged in this relationship, or redefine herself and the events of her past. But how can Vanessa reject her first love, the man who fundamentally transformed her and has been a persistent presence in her life? Is it possible that the man she loved as a teenager—and who professed to worship only her—may be far different from what she has always believed?

Alternating between Vanessa’s present and her past, My Dark Vanessa juxtaposes memory and trauma with the breathless excitement of a teenage girl discovering the power her own body can wield. Thought-provoking and impossible to put down, this is a masterful portrayal of troubled adolescence and its repercussions that raises vital questions about agency, consent, complicity, and victim-hood. Written with the haunting intimacy of The Girls and the creeping intensity of RoomMy Dark Vanessa is an era-defining novel that brilliantly captures and reflects the shifting cultural mores transforming our relationships and society itself. (www.goodreads.com)

REVIEW:

How can I even review this book? This was a whirlwind. Maybe a rollercoaster. Or a journey? No. Maybe. A realization? An awakening? A 300+ page book filled with anxiety, sadness, heartbreak, paranoia, fear, lust, distrust, TRUST?, outrage, ANGER, hopefulness.. I seriously could go on.

It’s hard to write my thoughts into coherent sentences on this book. The beginning of this book made me uncomfortable. Made me feel rage. And disgust. I couldn’t keep up with the emotions. I felt exhausted? I had to take a break. But I didn’t want to leave Vanessa. Vanessa needs this story to be heard. Who am I to say I’M uncomfortable?

The middle is when it hit me hard. Truly. I was brought to tears several times just from a sentence. A word. A feeling. I wanted to jump into this book, grab Vanessa, and say “What the HELL is wrong with you? This isn’t LOVE. It’s ABUSE. It’s WRONG. You’re a VICTIM.”

The other part of me understood her though. I understood why she thought this relationship with her teacher was love. She was manipulated. She was lonely. And alienated. And she believe her teacher saved her.

Am I making sense here? Point is, this book is important. It’s important because we don’t hear or read this side of a story. We don’t go in depth of the feelings and thoughts of a 15 year old girl who believes she’s in love, but then comes into a realization 15 years later that she was abused.

This book is so moving, in a completely different way. I was pissed off, upset, but also thankful that I was reading this. It’s a different perspective. It’s a realization of the inner thoughts from a victim.

No.

Actually, from a human being who experienced such trauma. I won’t call her a victim, or a survivor. Vanessa hates those words. She’s just, Vanessa.

MY DARK VANESSA is now available in stores everywhere! If you are interested, this book is now available on my Amazon storefront! No extra cost to you, but it does help support my blog when you purchase it through my link! Take a look!

www.amazon.ca/shop/readwithsam

Yours bookishly,

Sam

Book Review & Meet the Author – DEAR WIFE by Kimberly Belle

DEAR WIFE

RWS RATING: 4/5 STARS

RELEASE DATE: JUNE 25TH 2019

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An odd couple, a missing person, and one big mystery to solve. Dear Wife by Kimberly Belle is a great binge/popcorn read.

SYNOPSIS:

Beth Murphy is on the run…

For nearly a year, Beth has been planning for this day. A day some people might call any other Wednesday, but Beth prefers to see it as her new beginning–one with a new look, new name and new city. Beth has given her plan significant thought, because one small slip and her violent husband will find her.

Sabine Hardison is missing…

A couple hundred miles away, Jeffrey returns home from a work trip to find his wife, Sabine, is missing. Wherever she is, she’s taken almost nothing with her. Her abandoned car is the only evidence the police have, and all signs point to foul play.

As the police search for leads, the case becomes more and more convoluted. Sabine’s carefully laid plans for her future indicate trouble at home, and a husband who would be better off with her gone. The detective on the case will stop at nothing to find out what happened and bring this missing woman home. Where is Sabine? And who is Beth? The only thing that’s certain is that someone is lying and the truth won’t stay buried for long. (Goodreads.com)

REVIEW

The relationship between the characters was intense at times and mysterious throughout the whole book. This is a domestic thriller that I actually enjoyed reading, and felt it was far from predictable! The domestic thriller genre has become so popular in the last couple of years, that a lot of the stories out there have a very similar premise, with a very similar outcome to the “mystery”. This makes it hard to enjoy the story when you know what is going to happen, or makes you think “here we go again, another marriage in turmoil”. But, Dear Wife is different – it’s takes on a different kind of relationship dynamic, and the characters within the book have such great personalities that you truly want to know how it’s going to end for them all.

This is great summer read – by the beach, by the pool, or even just sitting on our couch devouring each page wondering what the heck is going to happen next with this couple.

I was very lucky to read this book for Harper Collins Canada, and also ask the author, Kimberly Belle, some questions! Check it out below:

Who’s your favourite author?

I couldn’t possibly choose! I’ll read anything by Harlan Coben or Karin Slaughter or Lisa Unger, but I also love discovering new authors, especially debuts. There are so many fabulous books out there, so many authors putting out great work. I will read anything and anyone.

Favourite book or genre to read?

My favourite book changes depending on the day/minute/mood, but I do read a lot of suspense/thrillers, and I tend toward the dark and gritty. Occasionally I’ll slow things down with a women’s fiction or romance novel, but then I’ll find myself wondering which character is going to end up dead. It’s like my mind craves a suspense plot.

When was the moment you realized that you loved literature?

I can’t point to one moment when I realized books were essential to my life, because they were always there, even when I was very little. I can’t remember a time when I was ever not in a book, when I didn’t have three or four stories going at the same time. What I do remember, however, is the first time a friend expressed a dislike for reading, and I was so confused, and also a little sad. I’m still that way when people tell me they don’t enjoy reading. Think of all the joys they’re missing out on!

What made you want to be a writer?

I’m not one of those writers who penned her first novel in crayon. Writing was something I always dreamed of doing, but for the longest time it fell by the wayside for a job that paid the bills. That job for me was nonprofit fundraising, and it definitely helped me hone my writing skills. Fundraising letters, website texts, scripts for meetings and events…I learned very quickly how to drill down to a powerful, poignant message that tugs at the heartstrings.

And then in 2008, the economy crashed and so did my job. By that point I was pushing forty, and I still hadn’t written that novel I’d always dreamed of writing. I decided to see my sudden unemployment as a now-or-never moment, so I sat down and my computer and….realized I had no idea what I was doing.

I spent the next couple of years learning how to build a story. I took courses, read everything I could get my hands on, found some critique partners and mentors, and then I wrote a book and then another. I sold both to Mira in a 2-book deal, and the rest, as they say, is history.

What inspired you to write your new novel, “Dear Wife”?

Dear Wife was a gift from the writing gods. I had just spent months putting a proposal together for another story when the idea for Dear Wife woke me up in the middle of the night. My eyes popped open and the story was right there, fully formed. I knew my characters, the major plot points, how the story began and ended. While the house slept, I stared at the ceiling and watched the story play like a movie in my head. In the morning, I called my editor and pulled the first proposal, then asked for another week or two to throw together a new one for Dear Wife. Thankfully, she loved the story just as much as I did.

But as for where it came from, Dear Wife is my second book that deals with domestic violence, a subject that was inspired by a dear friend whose backstory is similar to my main character’s in Three Days Missing. When that story opens, she is in the midst of a very messy, very public divorce from a husband who beat her in a very public setting—pretty much exactly what happened to my friend. It’s a fictionalized story crafted around a real-life one, and writing it helped me sort through all the emotions I felt, the sadness and helplessness and anger, while watching my friend go through her divorce. I thought I’d worked through all my emotions until the idea for Dear Wife popped into my head, and I realized I had more to say, this time through a woman who is fighting back in the most brave, kick-ass way. Beth is angry and determined and willing to risk it all for her freedom—all the ingredients for the best kind of heroine.

I think it’s really interesting that you chose to write each chapter from the perspective of different characters. What made you choose this? Was it difficult to write? Or did it give you a chance to really dig deep about your characters?

That’s the way the story came into my head, and honestly (and I’m trying hard not to give anything away here) the only way I could figure to tell it. I wanted the reader to get a glimpse of all three characters and make their own assumptions as to what is going on, and how they are connected. And yes, it gave me a chance to dig deep into all three and find out what makes them tick.

I thought it was going to be difficult writing from a male point of view, but Marcus and Jeffrey’s voices came fairly easily. I think it’s because they’re such sarcastic jerks, and I got to have a little fun with them. Thought they’re each carrying their own secrets, their stories were easier to write than Beth, that’s for sure.

Did you identify more with one character than another?

I always identify with my heroines and put pieces of me in every one, as it makes them easier to write. But in every book, I get surprised by how much I love one of the characters in a way I wasn’t expecting. In Dear Wife it was Miss Sally. She was one of the first secondary characters I came up with, and since she’s not a main character, I got to have a little more fun with her, make her different and funny. She was very loud and vocal in my head, and she kind of wrote herself.

Did your writing process change at all when you began writing your third book? Was going from writing your first to your third easier? Harder? Or different altogether based on the story?

Every book is different and demands its own ways of approaching things, but my process is always the same. I spend months thinking a story through before I write the first word. I start with the basics: character, major plot points, a one or two sentence synopsis, and then I take it from there. I brainstorm, add subplots and secondary characters, fill in and expand on the many blank spots. Once I have a fairly detailed outline, I’ll run it by my agent and editor, who are both brilliant at pointing out all the places it could be better. Crafting a story is a group effort, and their feedback and ideas really help me as I’m shaping the plot.

But even with the outline, I always give myself room for things to change and develop as I write. Sometimes that means adding characters (like Evan in The Marriage Lie) or rewriting chapters from another point of view (a couple of Jeffrey chapters ended up Marcus’s in Dear Wife). But I can make those changes because the bones are already there, both on paper and in my head.

That said, I’ve never – not once – changed an ending. I go into a story knowing exactly how it will end, and with I every chapter I write, I am moving steadily closer.

Why do you think so many readers out there are so fascinated by thrillers/crime fiction? What draws you to this genre?

When I first started writing suspense, I didn’t set out for it to be domestic. But I write the kind of books I like to read, about subjects that everyone can relate to: relationships. Parent-child, husband-wife, siblings. I love exploring the emotions that come along with these types of bonds, mostly because they’re so universally recognizable. Toss in the suspense angle—a lying spouse, a child gone missing—and it’s a what-if scenario everyone can imagine themselves in. That’s the appeal of the genre, I think, that people read it and think, that could have been me.

Can we expect any more books from you coming up?

Yes! I’m currently finishing up a story about a newlywed woman who discovers a woman’s body under their lakeside home dock. The police show up, and in her shock and the pressure of the moment, she follows her husband’s lead and lies about ever having seen the woman—which she did the previous day in passing. It’s not a big lie, and she doesn’t really think much of it at the time, but soon that one little lie turns into an avalanche. As the police close in on the woman’s killer, my main character uncovers dangerous truths about her husband and her marriage, as well as dark secrets that have been simmering below the lake’s currents for years. No title yet, but coming sometime in 2020.

This idea was something I’d been stewing on for ages, a book set in a remote mountain lake town where money plays a big role in the town’s dynamics. My main character’s marriage to an older, wealthier man gives her a rags-to-riches backstory, which reveals unexpected truths about her character. People will break their moral compasses for a host of primal reasons: hate, love, envy, passion, survival—and money.

Do you have any advice for young writers out there?

The biggest advice I can give to any writer is to keep writing. Letter for letter, word for word. Don’t wait for an agent, a publisher, a contract, just keep writing and polishing your craft, every single day. Treat your writing like a job. Set your alarm and go to “work” behind your laptop every day, five days a week, because if you wait for inspiration to strike—or for a story idea to come upon you—you’ll never get anything written. Some days you’ll end with a lot of words, other days you’ll stare at your screen and pull out your hair. In the end, it all evens out and eventually, you have a book.

________________

Thank you, Kimberly Belle for coming on RWS to chat with me!

DEAR WIFE is now available in stores everywhere! If you are interested, this book is now available on my Amazon storefront! No extra cost to you, but it does help support my blog when you purchase it through my link! Take a look!

www.amazon.ca/shop/readwithsam

Yours bookishly,

Sam

Book Review & Meet the Author – THE MATCHMAKER’S LIST by Sonya Lalli

The dating world is a tricky, tricky place to be. Wrong matches, awful dates, heartbreaks, ghosting – the possibilities are endless!

So what if… your grandmother sets you up with some eligible bachelors? Does that sound like a good plan to you? Or would you rather meet someone the old fashion way – no matter how long it takes?

Sonya Lalli’s debut novel, The Matchmaker’s List, is a funny, heartwarming story about love, tradition, and family.

SYNOPSIS

One devoted modern girl + a meddlesome, traditional grandmother = a heartwarming multicultural romantic comedy about finding love where you least expect it.

Raina Anand may have finally given in to family pressure and agreed to let her grandmother play matchmaker, but that doesn’t mean she has to like it–or that she has to play by the rules. Nani always took Raina’s side when she tried to push past the traditional expectations of their tight-knit Indian-immigrant community, but now she’s ambushing Raina with a list of suitable bachelors. Is it too much to ask for a little space? Besides, what Nani doesn’t know won’t hurt her… 

As Raina’s life spirals into a parade of Nani-approved bachelors and disastrous blind dates, she must find a way out of this modern-day arranged-marriage trap without shattering her beloved grandmother’s dreams. (Penguinrandomhouse.com)

REVIEW

This was a heartwarming read! Raina is a very relatable character, although, there were moments where I got frustrated with her and her actions, but – I had to take a step back and put myself in her shoes. If i had my family pressuring me about marriage constantly, and had my grandma set me up with dates with random men… I’d be a little bit stressed out too!

One of her decisions though…I thought was way out of line. I think it could have been handled differently, but maybe this is what makes Raina a real, raw character throughout the book? It’s hard to truly speak on this topic without spoiling!

It was so refreshing to read a story written by a Canadian, set in Canada, more specifically – Toronto! My birth place! It was really fun reading the story and recognizing some of the places Raina would mention.

Overall, this was a cute story to read, and in some ways, even inspiring. Inspiring in the way that it showed that being yourself, despite what surrounds you, is the most important thing.

I was very lucky to not only read the book thanks to Penguin Random House Canada, but also to interview Sonya Lalli herself! Check it out below:

1. Who’s your favourite author?

Hands down, Jhumpa Lahiri. She wrote The Namesake, my all-time favourite book (among many other wonderful books!)

2. Favourite book or genre to read?

Is book club fiction a genre? I read all sorts of books, but I suppose I usually tend to pick book that fall in that sweet spot between literary and commercial. So the type that are perfect for book clubs. 

 

3. Do you have a go-to book recommendation?

Lately, it’s been Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng. I read it last summer and still find myself thinking about the characters. 

 

4. If you could inhabit one fictional character’s life for a day, who would that be?

Hermione Granger. Who of us doesn’t want to be her…

 

5. When was the moment you realized that you loved literature?

I don’t think there was a particular moment. Like many book lovers, I’ve been reading since before I can remember. My mom is the one who really got me interested. She was a huge reader herself, and bought me all the classics and always had the time to take me to the library or book store and read to me. 

6. What made you want to be a writer?

I always loved creative writing, but it wasn’t until I had the idea for The Matchmaker’s List  that I was really committed to trying to be a ‘writer’ of a full on book. Raina’s story just kept coming to me, and deep down inside I really wanted to try and tell it. 

 

7.  You studied law in Saskatchewan and in New York, but pursued creative writing after. What made you change your field of study?

That’s a difficult question. I set out to study publishing and creative writing because I had had the idea for The Matchmaker’s List and wanted to commit to the idea of writing it. However, when I left law, at the time I didn’t know I wasn’t going to return. I had initially thought of the change as temporary. 

 

8. What inspired you to write The Matchmaker’s List?

I was twenty-five, done university, and single, and I remember starting to get these looks from a few ‘aunties’ like they were assessing my eligibility. Everything just kind of flowed from there!

 

9. What made you choose to write a romance?

Even though I read across genres, I had never fully thought about what kind of genre I was writing in. When I started learning more about publishing and writing, I realized that this story was essentially a romance/ romantic comedy and so it took . It makes complete sense, though. I’ve always been such a sucker for a good romance. 

 

10. I find Raina Anand to be a very interesting, strong character – her grandmother too! Who were they based off of? Did you go through the “bachelor” experience yourself?

Thank you! Raina is a hodgepodge of various women in my life (all very strong),  but Nani is basically the same person as my real-life Nani. One of my favourite parts of the book is their relationship, and it reflects the very close, loving relationship I’m lucky to share with my Nani. 

 

11. What do you think of the “bachelor/bachelorette” dating style? Do you think it could work? Or should people get out there and meet someone the old fashioned way?

I think everyone has their own approach to love, dating and marriage, and they should be true to themselves. I don’t the method matters. 

 

12. Is writing something you’re looking to do as a profession? Do you miss law?

I’m not sure what the future has in store longterm for my writing, but I work full-time in publishing now so no matter what happens, I’m lucky that I’ll get to work with books every day. I do miss the law, but I’m very happy with where I am right now. 

 

13. On that note, do you plan on writing a second novel soon?

I’m working on one as we speak, actually! It doesn’t have a confirmed title yet, but it’ll be a standalone novel in a similar genre with all new characters. It’s scheduled to come out in 2020. 

 

14. Do you have any advice for young writers out there?

Read as much as you can, and be sure try a wide variety of books and authors. Keep a running list of what you like and what you don’t like, or when you admire a certain style, turn of phrase or theme. You’ll learn a lot and it’ll be a great source of inspiration. 

 

Thanks so much for having me and reading The Matchmaker’s List!

Thank you, Sonya Lalli, for coming on RWS to chat with me!

THE MATCHMAKER’S LIST is now available in stores everywhere!

Yours bookishly,

Sam

Book Review & Meet The Author – THE WINTERS by Lisa Gabriele

THE WINTERS

RWS RATING: 4/5 STARS

RELEASE DATE: OCTOBER 16TH 2018

thewinters 

SYNOPSIS

A spellbindingly suspenseful new novel set in the moneyed world of the Hamptons, about secrets that refuse to remain buried and consequences that can’t be escaped

After a whirlwind romance, a young woman returns to the opulent, secluded Long Island mansion of her new fiancé Max Winter—a wealthy politician and recent widower—and a life of luxury she’s never known. But all is not as it appears at the Asherley estate. The house is steeped in the memory of Max’s beautiful first wife Rebekah, who haunts the young woman’s imagination and feeds her uncertainties, while his very alive teenage daughter Dani makes her life a living hell. She soon realizes there is no clear place for her in this twisted little family: Max and Dani circle each other like cats, a dynamic that both repels and fascinates her, and he harbors political ambitions with which he will allow no woman—alive or dead—to interfere.

As the soon-to-be second Mrs. Winter grows more in love with Max, and more afraid of Dani, she is drawn deeper into the family’s dark secrets—the kind of secrets that could kill her, too. The Winters is a riveting story about what happens when a family’s ghosts resurface and threaten to upend everything. (Goodreads.com)

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First off, when I received this book from Penguin RandomHouse Canada, I fell in love with the cover!! (Yes, Guardian, I am going to comment on the beautiful cover because book covers are a perfect, artistic representation for both the author and the story, so tough luck). So, don’t be fooled by the beautiful cover of this book… because the story within is mysterious, obscure, and curious.

I opened up the book, read the first chapter, and was hooked

It starts off with the description of Mr. Winters, his castle, and his relationship with the protagonist. Then, it dives into the history of their relationship, and finally brings us to the present – the protagonist and Mr. Winters move into the Asherley Estate, and the protagonist meets his daughter – Dani Winters. Some creepy events take place, and the protagonist endures the bullying from her step daughter. This book had major Jane Eyre vibes. For those of you that don’t know, Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte is my favourite book, and I actually studied the book for a whole semester! After reading Jane Eyre, I read and studied Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys.

This book is a feminist and anti-colonial response to Jane Eyre. It describes Mr. Rochester’s marriage from the point of view of his mad wife, Antoinette Cosway. Antoinette is Rhys’ version of Bronte’s devilish madwoman in the atticAntoinette’s story is told from the time of her youth in Jamaica, to her unhappy marriage to a certain unnamed English gentleman, who renames her Bertha, declares her mad, and then takes her to England. Antoinette is caught in an oppressive patriarchal society in which she neither fully belongs to Europe nor Jamaica. Wide Sargasso Sea explores the power relationships between men and women and develops postcolonial themes, such as racism, displacement and assimilation. (Goodreads.com)

So, the reason why I bring this up is because The Winters is so alike to both of these beloved novels/stories: a strange estate, an independent woman who fell in love, an odd, rich gentleman with a secret past, and an eerie setting.

As I continued to read the story, the events taking place were getting spookier, stranger, and overall interesting. The most interesting part of the book, is that as a reader, we never find out the protagonist’s name. Through dialogue, description, thought process, her name is never spoken. I loved this part about the book because it added so much more mystery to the entire story. 

After reading this book, I was so lucky to have the author, Lisa Gabriele, come on RWS to answer a few questions! Check it out:

 

Who’s your favourite author?

I have to say Daphne du Maurier, and not just because my book, The
Winters, is inspired by her best known novel, Rebecca, but because of
the sheer range of her work. She has written speculative fiction,
historical fiction, suspense, horror, romance, essays and biography. But
there’s a through line and it’s her impeccable language and surprising
plots. She’s a damn great storyteller.

Favourite book or genre to read?

I have a new favourite book all the time. Right now it’s Less, by Andrew
Sean Greer, tied with Daisy Jones and the Six, by Taylor Jenkins Reid,
which you’ll be hearing a lot about before its publication in March, 2019.
I tore through both books recently, and they left me breathless and
excited about the possibilities of writing meaningful fiction that has
wide commercial appeal.

When was the moment you realized that you loved literature?

I say this all the time but I am a far more passionate and talented reader
than writer. I love writing, but I fell in love with literature as a reader
first, devouring them once I learned how to read, and I’ve never
stopped.

What made you want to be a writer?

It was such a natural progression, I don’t ever remember not writing.
Since I was eight years old it’s been a compulsion. I have filled
notebooks with short stories and have written in diaries well before I
ever published a thing. What truly makes me a writer is an inherent
need to work something out on paper, usually through made up people.
Or to bring to life the stories that seem to float in the ether around me.
Writing is also a form of entertaining myself, something I have always
enjoyed doing.

What inspired you to write your latest book, The Winters? While
I was reading it, I got MAJOR Jane Eyre vibes!

Funny you should say that. My book is a response to du Maurier’s Rebecca,
which itself was a response to Jane Eyre. My mother was the one who
introduced me to Alfred Hitchcock’s movie version of Rebecca first, and whenever I miss her I reach for it. In the fall of 2016, in the despairing days of the U.S. election, I bought some ice cream and threw in the DVD to drown out the bad news. But this time, instead of comforted, it left me feeling deeply uneasy. I had to remind myself that in Daphne du Maurier’s book Maxim de Winter killed his sexually rebellious first wife, a fact that Hitchcock, due to Production Codes at the time, erased. I suddenly felt this strong desire to avenge Rebecca and punish Maxim. So I guess you could say nostalgia inspired me to reread the book, but anger drove me to write mine.
I found it interesting that we never know the protagonist’s name in the book…what’s the reason? 

This was a trope I borrowed from Rebecca, which also has an unnamed narrator, mostly just to see if I could do it, write a book with a nameless narrator. Needless to say it was much harder than I thought it would be.

Did your writing process change at all when you began writing
more books?

Luckily, I have always been disciplined. I get up in the morning and have
breakfast and then just start writing. I write for four to six hours and
then take a nap. Then I try to exercise before supper. I keep my schedule
light when I’m writing, so I don’t break a mood. The thing that helps me
the most is having a deadline.

Can we expect any more books from you coming up?

Yes, I’m laying the tracks for my next book now, which I think will be in
the same suspenseful vein as The Winters, this one about an older
women, newly sober, who helps out a younger one, who may not be who
she says she is.

Do you have any advice for young writers out there?
Read like crazy, read everything. When you’re not writing, you must be
reading. And if you’re not reading, you must be writing.

 

Thank you Lisa, for coming on RWS to chat!

Gabriele’s novel The Winters, will be available in stores OCTOBER 16th 2018!

You can also visit her website: www.lisagabriele.com

MEET THE AUTHOR – Sonia Faruqi

THE OYSTER THIEF

RWS RATING: 3.5/5 STARS

RELEASE DATE: OCTOBER 2ND 2018

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SYNOPSIS

“It took her a journey across the ocean to learn what she knew of love and fear and hate, but the essence of it came to her in an instant, as she succumbed to the churning black depths of the deep sea.”

Coralline is a shy mermaid in the Atlantic Ocean whose idyllic life is ruined by an oil spill that gravely sickens her little brother. Desperate to save him, she embarks on a quest to find a legendary elixir.

She encounters a human man, Izar, who’s left his life on land behind to find a cure for his dying father. He doesn’t tell her that his family runs Ocean Dominion, an enemy corporation whose ships plunder her waters daily.

Fate pushes the two of them together, even though their worlds are at odds. Accompanied by a colorful troupe of animals, Coralline and Izar travel through coral reefs and seabed cities, trailed by murderous adversaries and warring ships. Their secrets threaten to tear them apart, while a growing attraction adds to the danger. Ultimately, each of them faces an impossible choice. Should Coralline remain with the world she knows, including her fiancé, or should she relinquish everything for a stranger who might betray her? And Izar holds a secret of his own—one that might cause him to lose Coralline forever.

Magnificent and moving, set against a breathtaking ocean landscape, The Oyster Thief is an enthralling fantasy destined to become a classic. (Goodreads.com)

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This is definitely different than my usual reads – but it was such a beautiful story! Faruqi has such a talent for building up such an incredible world through poignant, and fluid writing. Faruqi was able to eloquently create complex characters in a magical, underwater world. I loved reading Coralline and Izar’s adventures  through coral reefs, and Faruqi had such intricate details involved in this underwater world. This book is dreamy, refreshing, and heartening.

Sonia Farqui first made her writing debut with her book, Project Animal Farm. A novel about that the world’s food system inspired by her visit to a dairy farm. She dropped everything she knew, to travel and find solutions to benefit animals, health and environment. Now, Farqui has turned to imagination in her newest book, The Oyster Thief. 

I had the pleasure of having Sonia on RWS to answer a few questions! Check it out below bookies:

Who’s your favourite author?

People are often surprised when I say Ayn Rand. But I find her writing beautiful and I love how she combines purpose and art in her works, particularly Atlas Shrugged. Her life story is also inspiring—she arrived in the U.S. as a poor immigrant from Russia and became among the greatest literary voices of the last century.

Favourite book or genre to read?

I read across genres spanning nonfiction and fiction. Some books that have particularly resonated with me are The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey, and Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling.

When was the moment you realized that you loved literature?

I can’t think of one particular moment, but I’ve loved reading ever since I was a girl. I wrote my first stories when I was nine!

What made you want to be a writer?

I love lots of topics and have lots of interests. Writing is one of those interests, and also a way to explore my other interests through this channel of expression.

What inspired you to write your first book, “Project Animal Farm?”

One night, I arrived at the doorstep of a dairy farm looking for a rural volunteer vacation. I had no idea then that the visit would mark the beginning of a journey that would ultimately wind all the way around the world. Concerned by issues of animal welfare and the environment, I decided to search the planet for solutions. My journey took me from egg warehouses in Canada to dairy feedlots in the United States, from farm offices in Mexico to lush green fields in Belize, from villages in Indonesia to bustling cities in Malaysia.

Over the course of living with farmers, hitchhiking with strangers, and risking my life, I developed surprising insights and solutions—both about the food industry and myself.

What gave you the inspiration for your newest novel, “The Oyster Thief?” Why the change in genres?

The Oyster Thief journey began as organically as the Project Animal Farm journey. I wasn’t planning it. The idea of an underwater world fell into my mind on January 1st, 2015. It was a freezing-cold morning in Canada, and I wished I could escape into tropical waters. But it was too expensive to book a last-minute flight, so I decided to escape in my mind. With a cup of tea in hand, I started inventing an underwater world. 

I found that I really enjoyed disappearing underwater for hours at a time through the novel, and I hope readers do as well!

Did your writing process change at all when you began writing this book, compared to any writing you’ve done before?

I had the impression that nonfiction requires research and planning, and fiction doesn’t. Boy was I wrong about that! After spending about two thousand hours on my manuscript, I decided to throw it all out and start from scratch.

Making the underwater world feel “real” required considerable research, I found. The challenge, however, is that researching the ocean is not like researching things on land. Parts of the ocean are less known to scientists than the moon. And of the millions of species thought to live in the ocean, the majority are unknown to us. To get my bearings underwater and depict the deep blue as accurately as possible, I snorkeled, scuba-dived, swam with sharks, and pored over books and countless articles about the ocean.

All the animals and algae you’ll see mentioned in The Oyster Thief are true-to-life. Even the names of all the characters are scientifically grounded, drawn from the sea and the stars. The Oyster Thief is also current in its themes. For instance, the book contains a premise of underwater diamond mining that was fictional when I started the book but has, just last year, become fact.

Can we expect any more books from you coming up?

There may be a sequel to The Oyster Thief.

Do you have any advice for young writers out there?

Don’t be afraid to take big, bold steps, including starting over. 

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Thank you, Sonia, for coming on RWS to chat with me!

Faruqi’s debut novel The Oyster Thief, will be available in stores OCTOBER 16th 2018!

You can also visit her website: http://www.soniafaruqi.com

MEET THE AUTHOR – Angela Dyson

THE LOVE DETECTIVE

RWS RATING: 3.5/5 STARS

RELEASE DATE: SEPTEMBER 28TH 2018

 

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SYNOPSIS

“He’d thought himself the hunter, that I was easy prey but what he hadn’t bargained for, was contending with a woman who hadn’t eaten a square meal in twenty-four hours. I get mean when I’m hungry.”

Clarry Pennhaligan, low on ambition but high on energy, can’t seem to come up with a proper grown-up plan to kick-start her life. Planning really isn’t her thing. But then she happens upon her true vocation: Snooping. Discovering other people’s secrets and getting paid for it. What could possibly go wrong? Well……as it turns out, just about everything and soon Clarry finds herself in real danger. (Goodreads.com)

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Although the title leads you to believe that this story is a light, & fun mystery… it is in fact loaded with dark themes, and an almost sinister storyline. The Love Detective by Angela Dyson is a story about a woman who realizes her place, and what she wants out of life, all while involving herself in a world of mystery and snooping. When I got this novel, I was excited to indulge in a chick-lit type of novel after all the thrillers/suspense reads I get into. But – I was in for a surprise! The book takes quite a dark turn, and honestly, I loved that part about it!

I was thrilled to have author Angela Dyson come on RWS to discuss her debut novel, The Love Detective! Check it out below bookies:

Who’s your favourite author?

Oh, this is a tricky question. If I choose only one, it feels almost like being unfaithful to all my other favourites! But Sue Grafton I always enjoy.

Favourite book or genre to read?

There isn’t really a genre that I don’t read…except maybe Science Fiction. What’s so wonderful about novels is that you can choose them to match your mood, but one of my all-time favourites has to be Frenchman’s Creek by Daphne Du Maurier. Written in 1941, it’s about Lady Donna St Columb, a headstrong heroine who escapes from the tedium of life with her dull husband in 17th century London to live in Cornwall where she meets an infamous French pirate. I love it.

When was the moment you realized that you loved literature?
As a child I read The Wind in The Willows by Kenneth Grahame
over and over again. I wanted to live by the river bank with Ratty
and Mole and stay in Badger’s house right in the heart of the
Wild Wood.

I remember distinctly how alive their world seemed to me, how
vividly their different personalities and individual voices shone
out from the pages. And even today, many, many years on, I re-
read it regularly. This novel brings me comfort, peace and has
always made me feel safe. Literature does that and I’m a life-long
devotee.
What made you want to be a writer?

It allows me to dream. To create worlds that provide an outlet for
escapism, not just for myself, but for my readers.
What draws you to the “detective” type genres?
I love the idea of the amateur detective meddling and asking
questions and stirring up trouble. And by creating my own young
female private investigator, Clarry Pennhaligan in The Love
Detective, I could make her so much bolder, braver and more of a
bad-ass than I, in real life, could ever be! She gets to do things
that I long to do… but don’t have the chutzpah.
What gave you the inspiration for your newest novel, “The Love Detective?”
Female friendships are very important to me. Throughout your life, lovers, boyfriends, husbands, may come and go but your girlfriends can be depended upon to offer sympathy, understanding and many glasses of wine. Oh, and tough-love too, when it’s needed. Clarry in The Love Detective is enlisted by her best friend, Laura, to check out whether the new man in Laura’s life is on the up-and-up. What Clarry discovers does not go down well with Laura. It’s that whole don’t shoot the messenger thing. I wanted to explore the strength of friendship. In fact, the very first question in the book club notes that accompany the novel is: What did you think of the row between Clarry and Laura? Have you ever experienced the issue of jealousy (or at least the perception of it) with a friend?

I will be fascinated to hear how my readers answer that question!
Did your writing process change at all when you began writing this
book, compared to any writing you’ve done before?
I have always written in spurts. I’m not someone that compels
themselves to write every day. Honestly, sometimes I’m just not in
the mood! And I’ve learnt that there is nothing more depressing
than sitting down at the computer trying to find inspiration and
coming up empty. But with The Love Detective, there were
definitely far fewer gaps between writing binges. I just wanted to
keep going because I so loved the experience.

Can we expect any more books from you coming up?
I am currently working on the second in the series featuring
Clarry. It’s called The Love Detective: Next Level and it will be out in 2019.
Do you have any advice for young writers out there?

Yes, and it’s to find your own way to becoming a writer. Let it
become organic. Write when you have something to say, when a
story is so vivid to you that you absolutely have to get it down.
And, to prepare yourself for this, write about what you see… in a
casual way. Get used to expressing yourself on paper. This can take some of the fear out of the process and will ultimately release that particular voice that is yours and yours alone.

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Thank you Angela Dyson for coming on RWS to chat with me!

Dyson’s debut novel The Love Detective, will be available in stores SEPTEMBER 28th 2018!

You can also visit her website: https://angeladyson.com