A few weeks ago, it was time for Unofficial Booktopia. What is Unofficial Booktopia, you ask? Well, Unofficial Booktopia is a play on Official Booktopia (hosted by the fantastic Books on The Nightstand). How did it all start? A few of us met in Oxford, MS back in 2012- and we became fast friends- discussing books, going out for drinks, and just having a good time. After that weekend, we all stayed in touch through the power of social media and monthly phone chats. Unofficial Booktopia happened, though, because in 2013- none of the Booktopia sites were close for 2 of us to get to be able to attend (basically, it was a wing and a prayer kind of thing). So, one suggested- let’s get together in Jackson, MS (home to Lemuria Books). So we began the plan and it worked! We all managed to get together (and engage in some literary hijinks!) We had such a good time that Unofficial Booktopia was born- and this year, it was in Texas. Continue reading
How I cannot wait for Spring….
I like to take pictures. Actually love to take pictures is really more accurate. Today, on a cold day, a day that is overcast and kind of drab- I find this picture. A picture that reminds me that spring, butterflies and flowers are not as far off as they seem. And that makes me happy.
Are you counting down the days till Spring? Or is winter more your season?
Meeting Ashton Lee- The Cherry Cola Book Club book signing
The Cherry Cola Book Club– I first heard of this book thanks to Andrea at Great Thoughts– Kensington Publishing was being super kind and furnished her some giveaway copies during a #gr8books chat about another Kensington book, The Affair by Collete Freedman.
Anyway- from the moment I saw this bright, fun, and cheery cover- I knew I wanted it. But then to read the description, well that just made me have to have it! As time goes by, though, I found myself still not having it simply because I had many others books to read. This turned out to be fortunate, though, because after checking Lemuria Books website- I realized I could buy and get my book signed (book signings make me VERY happy!)
So, I waited. And then I went to the book signing- and from the name Ashton Lee- I was expecting to see a cute girl reading and signing books. I couldn’t have been more wrong, and yet I was delighted because Robert Kuehnle (pen name Ashton Lee) was charming, funny and theatrical. Of course- with Robert being from the South – theatrical was practically his birthright!
As I sat around and let other people get their books signed, I overheard Robert tell another person “Make all the people think the fun characters are them and the negative characters make them think they are not them!” This was in regard to a question of was his characters based on people he knew. The book signing, was fairly well-attended- 10-12 people where there and Robert had a stack of books to sign!
The reading was quite good as well. I love a good reading and Robert delivered! The Cherry Cola Book Club, based of small-town Mississippi, has the feel of a small Southern town down pat. Ashton Lee nails the surroundings, the language, the feel of small town Mississippi. But, after all, growing up in Natchez and now residing in Oxford- he not only knows the feel of a Southern town- he is a Southern town. As he read, he put feelings into the parts, into the reading. In the small reading area section of Lemuria, people sat and watched Ashton as he read- all of us smiling and laughing at parts because while we did not know each other- we could all relate to the story, as most of us had a tie to a small Southern town.
While I have not read The Cherry Cola Book Club (yet!), I’m happy to know that there is a sequel in the works- The Reading Room: Cherry Cola Book Club (release date March/April 2014). Will there be more books in the Cherry Cola series? Time will tell!
Game Drive by Marie Moore
Author: Marie Moore
Series: Sidney Marsh Murder Series
Publisher: Camel Press
Sidney Marsh, born a Mississippi girl, but moved to the Big Apple- where she is now a travel agent for Itchy Feet Travel (don’t blame Sidney- she didn’t pick the name!) Sidney likes her work and loves her friend, Jay, who is a fun friend at the travel agency. One day Sidney walks in Itchy Feet late, and realizes the normal decor is gone and everything is different- more African safari like decorations. Turns out as she walks in the meeting, that this is the owner’s plan- safari’s for the groups as a way to drum up new business. Sidney and Jay get chosen to go on a “fam trip” to Africa (to familarize themselves with what to expect before they take a group on a safari). After the debacle of the last trip that Sidney and Jay were on- it’s made clear to both of them that this trip to Africa needs to go smoothly.
Of course, best laid plans and all- the trip to Africa starts out ok; but slowly begins to disintegrate. Jay’s nervous about the animals, Sidney’s pocket gets picked, and one of the travel agents has a terrible habit of making everyone wait! As Sidney listens and learns more about each travel agent- she becomes suspicious that someone on the “fam trip” is an imposter. Still, for the most part, Jay and Sidney are happy on the trip- until a body is found. Was it an accident? Did one of the animals attack? Or was it something more sinister? The “fam trip” continues, but Sidney and Jay are growing more suspicious as the days go by- and they aren’t the only ones. Before this trip is over, more things will have went wrong, true identities will be revealed, and Sidney will learn that in Africa- it’s not only the wild animals that need to be feared- sometimes the humans are the most dangerous.
With danger, intrigue, romance, and more- Sidney Marsh takes the readers on a ride that is fun and interesting!
Blogger’s opinion: This is my first Marie Moore book, and I found the story enjoyable. The story flowed fairly well for the most part. Sidney is an interesting character, and I liked the character Jay. With it being a book that had a travel angle- I did expect some travel agent talk; and while some was needed- perhaps it had just a bit too much. However, the book has more positive than negative about it. I do believe that I’ll be checking out the first book in the Sidney Marsh series- and look forward to reading more about Sidney.
*BIG HUGE GIVEAWAY! Cozy Mystery Reviews is offering a GREAT giveaway! Details HERE!
Meeting Jenny Milchman- author of Cover of Snow
Jenny Milchman, author of Cover of Snow, came to Lemuria Book to sign and read from her debut novel. While Cover of Snow is Jenny’s first published book- she is not new to publishing game. This is the 8th book she has written- but her first to be published. When she was college- age, her parents asked her what her plans were- and she told them she would like to live in the woods, build a log cabin and write poetry. While her parents felt that she had potential as a writer- they did point some flaws in this plan; namely the fact that Jenny had never built anything. After this, Jenny decided that perhaps pursuing psychology degree would be better. Her mother told Jenny one day that “she thought Jenny had talent, but it would take her at least 10 years” (before she became published). It took Jenny 11 years.
When Jenny began writing and looking for someone to represent her, since she felt her writing was very good- she sent her work to the people that represent Jonathan Kellerman. While she did not get the reply she wanted- she realizes that reading someone else tell her: “I did not want to spend that much time in your neurotic protagonist’s head.” She describes reading this “as the quote from the rejection letter that put the writing in perspective”. So Jenny goes back, worls different ideas, comes close to being published- but still; falling short of the goal. Then after much time, things begin to go to Jenny’s favor. Nancy Picard, after reading Jenny’s writing, tells Jenny this: “that she could not wait to finish, and if the novel does not disappoint, which I don’t think it will, would like to write a blurb and then send to my publisher.”
Jenny says that she loves first drafts “like Christmas morning, wedding day, finding out being pregnant, summer vacation, candy-wrapped ice cream sundae.” Cover of Snow, as published, is in it’s 22nd draft. During the 21st draft, a scene was pointed out had a implausible air about it. Jenny, because she liked so much of that scene, simply changed the coffeepot to a programmable coffepot- and the scene was saved!
When asking Jenny about her writing space and routine- she informed the audience that she likes to write 2,000 words in the morning. And her writing computer is not a super-duper fancy gadget- no mam- Jenny writes on a computer than has Windows 98, is not internet-enabled, and backs up her work on floppy disks. Jenny also informed the audience that it usually takes her 2-5 months to write the first draft.
I asked Jenny if she would like to have Cover of Snow made into a movie- and if so, who would she want to play her characters? She said there was some early talk, even some talk of a possible made fo TV movie. As far as for who she pictures as Nora- she always liked Ashley Judd or Julieanne Moore- however, the character of Nora is younger than those ladies now; so she’s unsure of who would be the best person to play Nora if a movie was made now.
Look for Jenny Milchman’s new book, Ruin Falls, to be out in March 2014.
Deadly Policy by Mitzi Kelly
Publisher: Thomas and Mercer
Author: Mitzi Kelly
Series: Silver Sleuths Mystery
Reviewed by: Traveling With T
*Note: This is the 2nd book in the Silver Sleuths series. While Deadly Policy does make some references to the previous book (Classic Revenge) in the series, it’s not necessary to read in order.
Millie, Trish, and Edna- to the outside world- a 80 year old, a 45 year old, and a 65 year old might not appear to have much in common- but these ladies have a friendship that is strong and will last to the end of time. Neighbors and friends, Millie, Trish and Edna share a spirit about life that’s hard to beat!
In Deadly Policy, Millie gathers Trish and Edna together to discuss her daughter, Michelle. Millie is worried that Michelle may find herself in some trouble- there has been a sudden increase in stolen cars and all were insured by the company Michelle works for. At first, it appeared to be a coincidence- but with each vehicle stolen- it seems to point to an inside job. Or does it? Millie decides that she, Trish and Edna will get to the bottom of this mystery before anyone can accuse Michelle of being part of an inside job.
Millie, Trish and Edna set about to find if there is a pattern to the stolen cars, clues, and other things to help solve the mystery. Millie is convinced that Michelle’s ex-husband, Tony, is the bad guy- but both Trish and Edna caution her to keep an open mind until they have more facts. Michelle and Richard (her boss) are trying to stay positive, but with Richard’s ex, Barbara, floating around and disgruntled customers wanting their insurance money, it’s hard. Then, when a dead body is found outside of the insurance office, the ladies are really worried for Michelle and know they must get to the bottom of this mystery quickly.
When clues begin to surface because of the hard work of Millie, Trish and Edna- the women hope that the mystery is close to being solved and that Michelle will not be part of an internal investigation. However, this particular villian has other plans in mind. Will the Silver Sleuths solve the mystery? Read Deadly Policy to find out.
*Blogger note: This is my first Silver Sleuth Series book to read, and while I enjoyed the characters, the setting and the mystery- I did find one character a bit annoying at times. However, the actions of the other 2 work well as a balance. Each character has something that is relatable, a sense of spirit that is enjoyable.These women, especially Millie, show that life does not end at 40.
Recommended for: cozy fans, readers looking for characters over 40, readers wanting stories of friendship.
GIVEAWAY: Mitzi Kelly has generously offered each tour stop on the DEADLY POLICY blog tour sponsored by Cozy Mystery Book Reviews a copy of BOTH Classic Revenge and Deadly Policy to give to a lucky person (sorry! US only). For a chance to win the 2 books in the Silver Sleuths Mystery series- comment and tell your favorite cozy mystery series. Be sure and include your email in the comment as well (use the AT and DOT- ex: email name AT service (gmail, yahoo, hotmail) DOT com). The giveaway will be open to April 30th, and the winner will be annouced May 1. Winner will be emailed- so be sure and check your emails May 1!
Meeting Rita Leganski- The Silence of Bonaventure Arrow
Rita Leganski, author of The Silence of Bonaventure Arrow, came to Lemuria Books last Friday, the 12th to sign books and read/talk about The Silence of Bonaventure Arrow. As I watched her sign books that people had ordered and for the store- we talked about her book tour trip of the South. On her tour, Rita has been in New Orleans, Fairhope, AL, Oxford, MS and Jackson, MS. She talked of how she enjoyed each stop- meeting people, hearing about what “Bonaventure” meant to them. When Rita was in Oxford, she was a part of the Thacker Mountain Radio show- which is a pretty cool thing!
As I listened to Rita talk, I thought of how interesting a person she was. She was in her 40’s when she went to college, she’s now written a wonderfully imaginative book- my first “magical realism” type book to read- and it was a treat! Rita’s personality is open, nice, and she’s got a way with words that I just adored.
One person had asked her to inscribe the book with her favorite quote when she ordered it from Lemuria- and she laughed and put it aside for a few minutes since she said she’d have to think about what her favorite quote was. As she signed other books, a smile came to her face, and she picked the book up to write her favorite quote- and here it is: “Lord knows, nobody understand where love come from if not from inside a mystery- Trinidad” (page 293 of The Silence of Bonaventure Arrow). As she signed, I asked about next book plans. Rita let me know that she had ideas, thoughts for another book- but as far as a definite plan- it was still in the early stages.
Rita also gave me an insider look into the publishing world- while I knew there were editors, and other people to read the work- what I did not know was how specific it is. With her writing about the Catholic church, there was a copy-editor who read the book and made suggestions such as- at this time frame/era, this would not have been the particular wording or this could not have happened like this- and when she wrote of the Baptist church and had a quote from the Bible- another copy-editor let her know that in the Bible she needed to be quoting from, the wording would be slightly different. Which I just found this all fascinating- I knew it took many people to get the book from idea to print- but it’s really like a village of people. Now as I think about a book, I’m reminded of the statement “It takes a village to raise a child”, and that’s how I feel about a book now- “It takes a village to publish a book.”
We spoke of different things about The Silence of Bonaventure Arrow, how some characters were not in the book originally, how she had changed things in her revision process. Listening to her, after reading the book- I’m glad she made the changes- because while I think The Silence of Bonaventure Arrow would have been great either way- I liked the changes Rita made from her original manuscript.
Thanks to Rita Leganski for the fun time and to Lemuria Books for hosting a great event.
My review of The Silence of Bonaventure Arrow: Traveling With T’s review of The Silence of Bonaventure Arrow
Meeting Jill McCorkle- Life After Life book signing
Can I just say how much I adored meeting Jill McCorkle? I totally enjoyed it! Now from that statement, I’m sure most would think that I’ve been a Jill McCorkle fan for years- but surprise- Life After Life was my first book to read by her. I had an opportunity to review Life After Life several weeks ago through Netgalley, and during this time frame, Life After Life made Deep South Magazine’s 10 Reads for Spring. I trust Deep South Mag’s opinion- and if they say it’s a good read; well then, I’m going to give it a try. And lastly, during this time, I checked Turnrow Books in Greenwood, MS events and guess who was coming to town? Jill McCorkle! So like the Magic 8 ball says “all signs point to yes”- it was decided that I needed to read this book. So I did- and I really enjoyed it. Funny, heartwarming, sad at times- great characters. All are dealing with a heartache, a situation, and some are trying to make the last years of their lives count.
But what made meeting Jill McCorkle the best was how funny and nice she is- she could go from talking about some of the most heartfelt things to making the room crack up with loud giggles and laughs.
At the signing/reading- Jill read from “Sadie” a bit, then read from “Joanna’s Notes” about her dad, then read “Joanna’s dad’s” section. Each section had it’s own voice, it’s own thoughts- and was beautifull written- and even humours at times. Jill told the audience that she likes to think there is a lot of humor in Life After Life, even though there is sadness.
Jill also told the audience that it’s a popular misconception that “life will yield when something happens, but that rarely happens”. This was the case during her creation of Life After Life– her dad was dying, her children still needed her for dinner and other motherly duties, and work was still happening (grading papers and teaching). As she told us this, I began thinking that while we may wish life would slow down and let us deal with things as they happen- life has other plans for us. Life keeps spinning- until your final breath.
When questioned if any characters were based on people she knew in life or not- it was revealed that Toby is based on Jill’s work of teaching Introduction to Fiction. Toby, in the book, tells of how tired she was of reading essays about vampires, werewolves and the like- and that is how Jill felt at one point in her Intro to Fiction class. Jill wanted something with emotion, something with human emotion. So she tried to teach her students that emotion is like a primary box of crayons- but that as they got older, the emotions are more like a 64 pack of crayons- so you might feel periwinkle sometimes. But, at the base of that emotion is the original primary color emotion you felt as a child or teenager.
About Jill’s writing process- she likes to write in same place- but after having children- she realized she had to be more flexible. So she sometimes goes to the grocery store and sits in her car in the parking lot and writes- then later goes grocery shopping! She also takes lots of notes- and just reads them in the morning and evening- then she stores them for a time till she can write for an extended period. In this way, Jill speaks of that she’s always working on something; but it just takes time- and that’s a good thing because it gives her thoughts time to “perk”. Some of Jill’s characters will have memories or thoughts of her friends (after she’s asked!) Lastly Jill spoke of that sometimes when gathering her thoughts about writing, something will cross her mind that seems like it does not fit, like it’s not a logical next step in the process. When this happens, instead of ignoring that thought, she knows it’s meant to be in the thoughts, in her writing process.
Before she began signing books, she told this piece of advice for writers: The first draft of the book is like falling in love; but the revision of the book is the real deal in love.
Thanks Tunrow Books for hosting a great event- and thanks to Jill McCorkle for being so gracious- signing my book and posing for pictures.
My review of Life After Life: Life After Life by Jill McCorkle- review by Traveling With T
The Girls’ Guide to Love and Supper Clubs by Dana Bate
Meet Hannah Sugarman. To the world, she’s got it all- great job, a great life with a boyfriend who has huge goals, parents who are successful in the academic world- and a great apartment that she shares with the goal-oriented boyfriend. Except… Hannah wants to be a chef. Food is her passion, finance and academia life bore her. As her “perfect to the outside world” life begins to crumble- she takes a risk and starts an underground supper club. It’s risky, but fun for Hannah- and indulges her desire to be a chef.
Then life gets more complicated: She has to host the dinners in her landlord’s place. Complicating matters further, he has political ambitions- which if knowledge of his place being the hotspot of an underground dinner club got out- it could put a damper on that.
As the reader gets further in the story, Hannah and her life- dreams, goals, and wishes speak to the reader. It’s a story that fans of chick-lit can appreciate. Dana Bate writes a charming debut- fun, fluffy, light reading- with a few life lessons hidden in the fluffy goodness: Don’t be afraid to go after what you want, don’t try to change for people, don’t judge a book by it’s cover, and sometimes when you least expect it- love will find you.
Eudora Welty’s House and Camellias…
Two weekends ago, while enjoying a weekend with some book loving friends- we stopped by Eudora Welty’s house. The camellias were blooming- oh they looked beautiful. I could have spent hours there, walking around, looking at flowers. Then there was this bench- right in a perfect little place. Not too much sun, not too shady either- just perfect for a book lover to sit down, read, and soak up some of the niceness about Eudora Welty’s place.
When Sarah Jio’s new book, The Last Camellia, hits the bookstores- I will be taking her book to Eudora’s to read. Reading The Last Camellia in a place were camellias bloom so prettily- oh, such a perfect afternoon.
Oh and Sarah Jio is giving away 2 copies- follow the link for more info!