#MondayBlogs What Makes a Great Novel? #Amreading #Amwriting #Amreviewing

If a formula existed for a great novel, everyone would benefit. Authors would write perfect novels and readers would never be disappointed.

So, what makes a great novel? My answer is connection and intimacy.

Writers need to connect with their readers and readers are on the lookout for authors whose stories invade their hearts and minds (intimacy) and become meaningful (connection).

A reader’s response to a novel is personal, intellectual, intimate and complex.

Novels speak to the readers’ minds, that hidden, uncontrolled and uncontrollable, darkest, sometimes unpredictable, elusive part of our brains that surprises each one of us, more times than we’d care to admit.

Readers want to be immersed in a story, transported and moved. They want to feel what the characters feel, understand their predicaments as if they were working with the author.

Writers want readers to be active participants in the narrative, reliving their character’s experiences and reinterpreting their stories. As Stephen King has said, “All readers come to fiction as willing accomplices to your lies…’

Readers enjoy finding themselves in the story, with the characters. That’s the moment all writers and readers crave; the moment the reader becomes actively, emotionally and intellectually involved in the story.

A colloquial expression might be that the novel gets under their skin, but where it really gets is inside their minds; that’s what makes a great novel.

So, how do writers find their way into the minds of people they don’t even know?

The answer is as simple as it is complex: writing about universal themes, feelings and events which are (and have always been) common to all of us.

That’s one of the reasons why Shakespeare will never be outdated.

Image result for shakespeare universal themes

Great novels don’t have to be about extraordinary people or wondrous events. Great novels are about feelings we have all experienced or witnessed, such as love, anger, jealousy, greed, happiness, optimism, depression, and universal events such as falling in love, parenting, sibling rivalry, sickness, death, earning a living, quarrelling, making friends, travelling, etc.

Great novels make readers feel something beyond themselves and the scope of their ordinary lives.

Great novels reach their minds, taking them on an unknown journey of self-discovery. Readers become part of the story, because they are involved with the characters and events, and when they finish reading, they are not the same person they were when they started reading, because they have changed their minds about something, or thought about something that had never occurred to them before, or felt something they hadn’t felt before or for a long time.

The challenge for both readers and writers is that one particular author will rarely be able to reach every reader’s mind, because of course all minds are different and no two readers will react in the same way to a novel, or even to different episodes and characters in a novel.

The good news is, there are so many types and genres of novels to be read and so many ways of reading, paperback, kindle and other e-books, and audio books, that it’s hard not to find something for everyone.

How to find a book that’s perfect for you?

It’s hard to get it wrong if you follow these three steps:

  • Read the blurb (writer and editor’s information and views).
  • Read a few varied reviews (diverse readers’ opinions).
  • Read the look inside pages (read the first chapters and decide whether to continue reading or not).

If you do so, it’s unlikely you’ll choose a book you won’t enjoy.

And when you finish, don’t forget to post a review, because it will help the author and other readers, too.

Are you looking for a great book? Here are some of the great books I’ve recently read:

Us

Us by David Nicholls. Themes: love, marriage, parenting, and contemporary life, from the perspective of a middle-aged Englishman. Poignant and humorous.

Eleanor Oliphant by Gale Honeyman. Themes: abuse, loneliness, serendipity, from the point of view of a young woman. Poignant, humorous, Feel good.

our house

Our House by Louise Candlish. Themes: marriage, infidelity, crime, parenting, told from two points of view, husband and wife of two young children. Family drama.

The Guest Room: A Novel by [Bohjalian, Chris]

The Guest Room Chris Bohjalion. Themes: marriage, infidelity, corruption, sex trafficking, narrated by an American husband and father and a Russian prostitute who is an illegal immigrant in the USA.

Missing You by [Coben, Harlan]

Don’t Let go by Harlan Coben. Themes: love, corruption, crime. A suspenseful thriller. This is his latest novel, but all of them are fabulous. Missing You is one of my favourites.

The Good Girl by Maria Rubrica. Themes, crime, kidnapping, family, love. A dark family drama, told from the point of view of the kidnapped daughter, before and after the event.

The Sister: A psychological thriller with a brilliant twist you won't see coming by [Jensen, Louise]

The Sister, by Louise Jensen is a suspenseful psychological thriller I enjoyed, but all her novels are great reads.

It Ends with Us: A Novel by [Hoover, Colleen]

It Ends With Us, by Colleen Hoover is a heartbreaking family drama about abusive relationships told in the first person by a young woman living in Boston.

The Remedy for Love by Bill Roorback is a unique and moving novel about survival, loneliness and serendipity, told from the point of view of a lawyer who attempts to help a homeless young woman on a freezing night.

Check out all my reviews on Amazon

But don’t take my word for it, what’s meaningful for me may be boring for you.

Follow the three steps (blurb, reviews, look inside) and find those great books you’re longing to read!

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What do you think makes a great book?

Would you like to tell me about a great book you’ve recently read?

#TuesdayBookBlog ‘Us’ and ‘One Day’ by David Nicholls #BookReview #Amreviewing @Audible

Today on I’m reviewing One Day and US, contemporary literary fiction, written by David Nicholls.

I read ‘One Day’ by David Nicholls about eight years ago, when it first came out. It was before I started reviewing the books I read.

One Day by [Nicholls, David]

I loved everything about One Day, especially the way the plot was structured, taking one day every year for twenty years, starting on the day Dex and Em meet in their final year at Edinburgh University.

Those who haven’t seen read the book have probably seen the film, so although there may be few spoilers to disclose, I’ll just say that it’s not until the final devastating scene that we discover the importance of the day.

I cried at the end, at the injustice and absurdity of the ending, and the pain and loss of the characters I had come to know so well. Although they were both infuriating at times!

I know some readers thought it was slow and repetitive, and I agree that Dex and Em seemed to be going round in circles and taking one step forward in their lives and two steps backwards, for years, but unfortunately, such was the story of their lives.

I recently discovered that the author, David Nicholls had written another novel, which is humorous and poignant, so I decided to give it a go, and although I guessed it would be emotional, I wasn’t prepared for an even more devastating ending than One Day.      

Us: A Novel by [Nicholls, David]

When I finished listening to ‘Us’ on Audible, I was sitting in my garden, watching my grandson playing with his father, my son. They looked up in surprised as I rushed into the house, grabbed a tissue and ran upstairs.

’I’m OK,’ I managed to mumble on my way out. ‘I’ve just finished a novel’, and they carried on with their game, while I cried for a few minutes in the privacy of my bedroom, because it’s all right to cry at the end of a film, but it’s too personal to let people watch you cry when you finish reading a book.

Nobody dies at the end, although I thought they might. In fact it’s an optimistic, albeit not happy ending, in the traditional sense, but it’s very emotional.

US is a perceptive, sensitive and humorous account of the birth, life and death of a 25 -year- old relationship, told in the first person by Douglas, the husband. Douglas, Connie, his wife, and Albie, their son, are the main players in the story.

I found neither Connie nor Albie likeable. Mother and son were both selfish and I thought Connie also lacked integrity, but I’d have to include spoilers to explain why.

The family dynamics were unhealthy. Douglas’s relationship with his rebellious and artistic son was strained, and part of this strain was due to the mother and son tandem, which purposefully excluded Douglas. Consequently, it is when father and son are eventually alone that they are able to reach an understanding and mutual respect.

One of my favourite parts was the description of the family holiday around Europe, to France, Germany, Italy and Spain, especially the museums they visited and the people they met on the way. I’ve been to many of the places mentioned, and their descriptions and adventures brought back memories of my own trips.

US is a very perceptive, honest and realistic representation of contemporary family life. Many controversial issues, such as parenting, sex, drugs, the social and professional pressures of modern life, marriage, etc. are brought up.

I’m still trying to figure out why I was so upset at the end, because it is a hopeful ending of second chances and new beginnings, unfortunately, a new beginning, means there has to be an ending, too.

Overall, it’s much more optimistic, dynamic, and feel good than One Day, especially due to Douglas’s sense of humour and attitude.

US is also one of the best novels I’ve read so far  this year.

By the way, the narrator on Audible, David Haig, was fabulous. I really felt I was listening to Douglas tell me his story.

US buy link

UK buy link

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#FridayReads ‘The Good Girl’ by Mary Kubica @Audible #BookReview

Blurb

I’ve been following her for the past few days. I know where she buys her groceries, where she has her dry cleaning done, where she works. I don’t know the color of her eyes or what they look like when she’s scared. But I will.”

One night, Mia Dennett enters a bar to meet her on-again, off-again boyfriend. But when he doesn’t show, she unwisely leaves with an enigmatic stranger. At first Colin Thatcher seems like a safe one-night stand. But following Colin home will turn out to be the worst mistake of Mia’s life.

When Colin decides to hide Mia in a secluded cabin in rural Minnesota instead of delivering her to his employers, Mia’s mother, Eve, and detective Gabe Hoffman will stop at nothing to find them. But no one could have predicted the emotional entanglements that eventually cause this family’s world to shatter.

An addictively suspenseful and tautly written thriller, The Good Girl is a propulsive debut that reveals how even in the perfect family, nothing is as it seems.

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My Review

I’ve had this novel on Audible, waiting to be read, for a few weeks. I was looking forward to reading it after reading the blurb and reading the first few pages. The 4.2/5 stars on 4,300 reviews on amazon.com and over 14,000 on Audible, also convinced me I couldn’t go wrong! I was not disappointed.

The Good Girl is about a rich and dysfunctional American family whose dissenting daughter, Mia, is kidnapped by a ruthless gunman who is subcontracted for the job.
Everything goes haywire when the kidnapper, Colin, decides to save Mia by kidnapping her from the kidnappers who recruited him, because he believes their ultimate aim is to murder her.

Mia and Colin, two of the narrators, spend months in hiding in a remote and freezing cabin, with barely enough to eat, while her mother, Eve, and Detective Hoffman, the other two narrators, try to find them.

The story is told by four narrators in two time periods, before and after the kidnapping, so we know from the beginning that Mia was recovered. In spite of this, I was intrigued to find out how she was able to escape, who had ordered her kidnapping her and why.

It may seem that the author included a spoiler or that going  backwards and forwards in time would be confusing, but it isn’t, quite the opposite, the narrative is greatly enriched by these alternating perspectives.

The first and final thirds are the most gripping, while in the central chapters, I did wonder where the story might be going, but as I read on, I realised it was all part of the suspense.

The four narrators were believable. My favourite was Colin, because, in spite of his reserved and sometimes evil nature, I felt I knew him better than the rest and because his character developed the most throughout the novel. Colin is the real protagonist. His decisions guide the plot. He’s the catalyst and the most interesting character.

I didn’t care much for Mia or her mother. I thought they were too full of self-pity and too self-righteousness. The father was the archetypal villain and the detective, was the proverbial honest and thorough investigator and good guy.

The climax was unexpected and devastating, and the end, narrated by Mia in the epilogue, was surprising and sad, but plausible and satisfactory. I’d recommend it to lovers of psychological thrillers and I’ll definitely be reading more by this author.

By the way, the audio version with the four different narrators was fabulous.

Link to The Good Girl on Audible

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#TuesdayBookBlog ‘Her Dear and Loving Husband’ by Meredith Allard @copperfield101

I read Her Dear and Loving Husband, a few months ago and realised I hadn’t yet posted my review on my blog, so here it is.


 Sweet, well – written Vampire novel

I didn’t realise it was part of a vampire trilogy when I started reading, so it was a surprise, and I don’t usually read this type of novel, but I’m sharing it today because enjoyed it very much.

I wrote ‘sweet’ in the headline because there’s nothing gory or shocking in the novel, which often puts me off vampires. It’s not a typical vampire novel for teenagers either, as it includes well-written, situations and a mature love story intended for adults.

It was easy to feel sympathy towards Sarah, who has moved from California to Salem after her traumatic divorce, as she starts having disquieting dreams and feeling a strange connection to places and people in the small town.

The plot gradually weaves between present and past, until the mystery is finally revealed. There’s a lot of historical information about the Salem witch trials, and the novel leans heavily on 19th century literary accounts of vampires such as Bram Stoker’s Dracula. The title is taken from Anne Bradshaw’s poem, My Dear and Loving Husband, which ties in with the touching love story spanning hundreds of years.

If you’re in the mood to suspend belief, you’ll easily be immersed into a world of loving vampires and friendly witches (although there is also a villainous vampire trying to sabotage their love story), because it’s very well written; the prose style draws you smoothly into another world.

It’s the first book in the trilogy, which is free at the moment, and although there’s no cliff hanger ending, you’ll need to read the next two novels to complete James and Sarah’s story.

I listened to the audible narration, which was beautifully read.

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Meredith Allard is the author of the bestselling novels The Loving Husband Trilogy, That You Are Here, Victory Garden, Woman of Stones, and My Brother’s Battle (Copperfield Press). Her newest release is the historical novel When It Rained at Hembry Castle, a great read for fans of Downton Abbey. She lives in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Visit Meredith online her blog.

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HAPPY READING!

21 Ingredients for a Great Novel #MondayBlogs

I’m a writer, but, as I’ve so often said, I’m more of a reader than a writer, because I admit that I prefer reading to writing.

I’m a great reader, which means I read a lot, much more than most people.

I’ve always read a lot, but in the last three-four years, I’ve been reading between eight and fifteen books a month, depending on weather I’m writing or not. Most of the books I read are kindle ebooks, but I also read some paperbacks and a few audio books a month, too.

I read contemporary fiction, especially independent authors, debut authors and some bestsellers.

I especially enjoy reading psychological thrillers, romantic suspense, crime fiction, paranormal (but not vampires etc.), women’s fiction, Chick lit, historical romance, and contemporary romance.

I finish and review almost every book I start, unless I don’t enjoy it. Reading is a pleasure, and life’s too short to read books that aren’t for me.

As a result of all this reading and reviewing, I’ve decided to write a very personal, and therefore totally subjective, list of ingredients that make a great novel.

Here are my ingredients, in no particular order.

  1. Good editing is basic. I don’t mean random typos, which I may not even notice, I’m talking about grammar, syntax, register, clichés, repeated words, too many dialogue tags, and punctuation.
  2. Not too wordy. I don’t enjoy reading too much information, which adds nothing to the plot or characterisation. I don’t mind an occasional ‘red herring’, but I’m not keen on plots that go all over the place and confuse me.
  3. Good writing, which means it’s pleasant to read. This ties up with the previous points. I really appreciate, clear and precise prose, which gives me the information I need to feel I’m part of the setting and get to know the characters, like Girl in the Ice. 

ice

  1. Short chapters and short paragraphs are easier to read. I’m very busy and sometimes tired, as most readers. I read for a few minutes here and there, often while commuting or travelling, on a lunch break, between chores, at the end of the day, etc. I don’t enjoy rereading long paragraphs to try to understand what the main point is.
  2. Not too long (although it can be part of a series). In general I prefer books between 70 and 80 thousand words, which can be read in a few afternoons or evenings. I don’t mind occasional cliff hangers, as long as part of the story is complete, otherwise I feel frustrated. I don’t mind reading part of a series either, I fact I quite enjoy it, as I’ve become invested in the characters and want to know more about their story, such as The Detective Jack Stratton books. (There are exceptions, by exceptional authors such as Ken Follet. I don’t mind how long his novels are!)

detective-jack-stratton

         6. Not too short (unless it’s a book of short stories). Most short novels I’ve read feel incomplete. I prefer a longer story.

          7. Engaging characters. Characters don’t have to be likeable, in fact I’m attracted to flawed characters, but I need to be interested in what’s happening to them and what they’re doing. Ideally, they need to be having a hard time, and I need to care about how they cope with their issues, such as ‘I Let You Go‘ in which a woman is coping with the results of a tragic accident she was involved in. i-let-you-go

           8. More than one viewpoint. Life isn’t monochrome, and although I have nothing against stories told from one point of view, I prefer at least two distinct voices. It makes the story more complex and I feel as if I have all sides of the argument. One person’s vision or viewpoint is necessarily limited. I love two first person narrators as ‘Gone Girl’.

gone-girl

          9. An overall meaning or message. It’s especially rewarding to read a novel when the events or feelings are part of something bigger than the story itself, for example a universal event, in which we could all experience, such as the overcoming the pain of the loss of a child, or a divorce such as ‘The Ladies Room.’

ladies-room

          10. Surprises or plot twists every 6-10 minutes. Sometimes novels drag because nothing much happens for pages on end. I need things to happen constantly to keep me turning pages. This needn’t big huge plot twists, it can be a change of scene, character, some news, anything that moves the action forward and stops the slow or dragging sensation, like Matt Cairns, Cold Blooded, which wastes none of the reader’s time in this gripping thriller.

Cold Blooded 2 (1)

          11. Unexpected big twist right before the end. I love this. When you think everything’s sorted out and there’s another unexpected turn, which makes you sit up. The last 10% is as important as the first 10%, because it’s what will stay in my mind and convince me to buy another book by the writer, such as ‘The Sister’.

sister

          12. Not too many main characters. Two main characters are often enough, although I prefer a few more, but too many can be confusing, unless it’s a complex family or historical drama.

        13. Defined secondary characters. I dislike lifeless secondary characters. All characters in the novel should all come to life, even if their role is secondary. Imagine watching a film where only the protagonists are good actors, but the rest are amateurs. The film wouldn’t be much good, would it? The secondary characters need to support the main characters, and they’re often entertaining and vital for moving the plot forward, like The Photographer’s Wife.

photographers-wife

         14. Concentrating the present-time action (narrator time) in a short period, for example a few days, helps me to focus on the plot, even though back story will also usually be included in flashbacks or conversations, such as The Ventian, which takes place over a weekend in Venice.

venetian

         15. Gradually including back story. The back story is usually necessary for the plot to develop and to get to know the characters, but the way in which it is gradually told will build suspense and add unexpected plot twists.

         16. Surprising angle to an old story. Most plots are familiar. So many stories have been told in so many ways that it’s hard to be original, but when it happens, it’s riveting! For example murder from the dead child’s point of view as in ‘The Lovely Bones’, or telling the story of a millionaire falling in love with a poor girl, set in the early 20th century between a fake medium and a railway baron, as in Baron.

baron

            17. Romance. Love is an important part of everyone’s life, falling in love, staying in love, overcoming relationship crisis, moving on, second chances, are all situations I love to read about, such as The Hollow Heart.

a-hollow-heart

         18. Humour. I enjoy reading comedies, occasionally, but a touch of humour is often enough. A humorous situation or character, lightens the drama, and it makes the story realistic; we all come across witty people, who liven up our daily lives. I love romantic comedies told from the point of view of men, which are often very amusing, such as Emma Chase novels, especially, Sustained.

Sustained cover

        19. Drama. I love reading about events which make me feel strong emotional reactions such as anger, fear, sadness even. I cried at the end of Who We Were Before, but I loved that the writer was able to provoke that emotion.

who-we-were

          20. Extraordinary things happening to ordinary people. I love it when what happens to the characters could happen, or could have happened, to me or people I know. It’s credible so I feel drawn into the story. For example a computer programmer who is targeted by the Russian mafia, as in Kissing my Killer.

Kissing My Killer 600x900

        21. The setting. I love it when the setting or a specific place in the novel becomes as important and unique as the plot or characters, not just the background. This can happen if it’s a city, village, or an idyllic landscape, or country house, such as in ‘Eclipse Lake.

eclipse-lake

Do you agree with (all) of these ingredients?

Can you suggest any other ingredients to include?   

 Let me know, I’d love to hear what you think!

wp-1488284919449.jpg

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#Author Spotlight Jennifer Theriot & #BookReview ‘Out of the Box Awakening’ for #RBRT #TuesdayBookBlog

Today the Spotlight is on Jennifer Theriot, whose novel Out of the Box Awakening I recently reviewed as part of Rosie’s Book Review Team.

17901330

BLURB OUT OF THE BOX AWAKENING

Olivia is a good woman, a good mother, a good wife. She’s got it made. She doesn’t want anything to change.

Of course, it does…

Swept from her perfect paper-doll life in Houston, Olivia finds herself in Chicago, alone, betrayed, and far from home. Soon everything she thought she knew about herself and her life will be challenged. She has only courage, love, and her passion for music to carry her through the maelstrom—or draw her further in.

Ash is the man who has everything—everything except healing from the losses of a lifetime. His only peace lies in the sweet flow of music pouring from his guitar.

What happens when the married woman and the sexy handsome widower are thrown together by fate?

Out of the Box Awakening is a story about second chances, shared passion and shared joy. Jennifer Theriot has written a compelling book about what happens when two people find new life and new love for themselves and for those around them.

My Review

Out of the Box Awakening by Jennifer Theriot is a contemporary family drama with a hopeful ending.

Olivia, who is in her late 50s, is faced with making major life changes. Her children have grown up and left home, and she has to move from Huston to Chicago due to her husband’s new job. Her husband, Alan, is staying with his friend, Ash, who becomes Olivia’s supportive friend as her life unexpectedly falls apart.

We will follow Olivia through the discovery of betrayal and her traumatic divorce, as she gradually falls in love with Ash. She realizes she hadn’t really been in love with her husband for a long time before their marriage ended. For example, she loved music and dancing, while Adam didn’t, so she had abandoned her hobby until Ash and his son, who is a musician, open up a new world of music and dancing. The realization that she has been drifting through life with Alan, who had never really appreciated her, comes as a shock. For instance, there’s a scene when she’s in hospital and Ash phones Alan to ask about her medical history to fill in a form, but he doesn’t know the answers.

‘Alan, tell me you actually know something about your wife? I’ve got to get these forms filled out and I goddamn need your help.’

Alan replies: ‘I honestly don’t know.’

It’s devastating, but at least Olivia is fortunate enough to have found Ash, who is supportive emotionally and helpful from a practical point of view too. He teaches her to value herself, her body, her hobbies and her freedom. He encourages her to find a part-time job, to keep herself busy, motivated and independent.

Most romantic novels have young main characters, so it was refreshing to read a novel about a more mature love story including characters who were my age. There are also plenty of young people in the novel, such as Olivia and Ash’s young adult children, who liven up the story.

Although it can be read as a standalone because there is no cliffhanger ending, and the ending is happy, there’s still a story to be continued. I was thrilled to discover that there are two more books in the series. How will their new life together work out? They both have families and personal baggage, will they be able to start again? Life with Ash will be better than life with Alan, because at least Ash respects and supports Olivia, but Ash also has his secrets. His job in government security, which we know little about and keeps him away for periods of time, is intriguing. I’m looking forward to reading the next installment, Out of the Box Regifted which is already on my kindle!

Out of the Box book 2

Interview with Jennifer Theriot

1- Most romantic novels are about young couples, what were the challenges you faced writing a romance involving a mature couple?

There really were no challenges, per se. At first I wasn’t sure how well the readers would take to it though. Here you have a middle-aged couple, young at heart, still sexually active,falling in love and doing silly things.

2- I’ve read and reviewed book 1, Awakening, but there are two more, Regifted and Everlasting, what inspired you to write the ‘Out of the Box’ Trilogy?

When I finished Out of the Box Awakening, my characters wanted to go on – there was more of the story to tell, so I went with Out of the Box Regifted (where Olivia was ‘regifted’ to Ash by Alan). This one has a lot more ‘steamy romance’ in it, as Ash and Olivia’s relationship flourishes and he encourages her to be more spontaneous and uninhibited. The characters wanted to go one more, so I left a little ‘cliffy’ at the end of Regifted. In Out of the Box Everlasting, the story comes full circle. I have a little political conspiracy theory in Everlasting – with this being an election year and all. I figured why not throw in a little Trump-esque scenario 😉

The trilogy is complete and the order of it spells ARE (Awakening, Regifted, Everlasting)

My thoughts: I know what you mean when you say, my characters wanted to go on, because I had the same feeling as I wrote and even now that I’ve finished my trilogy! Some characters seem to have a mind of their own!

3- What’s your writing process like? 

By all means, non traditional! I live outside the box, so don’t follow the rules. I don’t use an outline, I’m pretty unorganized  and I wait for my characters to guide me. I write at night and on weekends, because I have a full-time day job crunching numbers.

Unwrapping Noel

4- What are you working on now?

Last Christmas, I wrote a little novella called Unwrapping Noel. It’s about a full-figured thirty something year old woman who was in a tumultuous and toxic marriage. She owns a PR firm and goes to the Silicon Valley on business during the Christmas holidays, where she meets a sexy silver fox named Leon Hallas who falls head over heels for her. (Did you catch the palindrome?)

I’m now working on the sequel to that, called Finding Joy. I love writing this couple!

5- What would you like readers to know about you?

I love connecting with new readers and I love to hear from them. I’m a people person by nature.

Here’s my author biography:

USA Today Bestselling Author Jennifer Theriot (pronounced Terrio) hails from the Great State of Texas. She is a career woman, working as CFO of a Texas-based real estate investment firm by day and does her writing at nights and on weekends. In her limited spare time, Jennifer enjoys being outdoors; preferably somewhere on a beach curled up with a good book. Spending time with family and friends, listening to music, watching a baseball game and enjoying a good bottle of wine are usually on her to-do lists. She’s mom to three grown children and ‘MiMi’ to four grandkids – all of whom she adores!

Jennifer took a chance that there could be an interest in romance with middle-aged couples who are finding themselves at a crossroads and wrote her debut novel Out of the Box Awakening, which centers on the hope of finding happiness and passion through unexpected heartache. It emphasizes the need for family and friends as Jennifer has learned in her own life. Grownup romance from the other side of 30 is how she characterizes her books. The books have also been described as “Mature Sexy” by one reviewer…

Jennifer

6- How can readers contact you or find out more about you?

As you can see below, Jennifer is very active on social media, so take your pick!

GOOGLE PLUS: https://plus.google.com/102404514817870981129/posts

WEBSITE: http://www.jennifertheriot.com

BLOG: http://jennifertheriot.com/blog/

AUTHOR FACEBOOK:   Jennifer Theriot, Author https://www.facebook.com/JenniferTheriotAuthor

TWITTER:  @ JenTheRiot https://twitter.com/JenTheRiot

BOOK BUB: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/jennifer-theriot

GOODREADS AUTHOR: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7082754.Jennifer_Theriot

AMAZON AUTHOR PAGE: http://www.amazon.com/Jennifer-Theriot/e/B00D8SW61C

AUTHORGRAPH: http://www.authorgraph.com/authors/JenTheRiot

Book Trailers

http://youtu.be/fJp9fUMiedI

http://youtu.be/PaOdiY-J2YY

http://youtu.be/cg4WXXGvqqg

7- Where can readers buy your books? buy links.

 UNIVERSAL BOOK LINKS:

http://mybook.to/OutoftheBoxAwakening

http://mybook.to/OutoftheBoxRegifted

http://www.amazon.com/Out-Box-Everlasting-Jennifer-Theriot-ebook/dp/B01D0S3JSI

http://mybook.to/ToccataObbligatoSerenadingKyra

http://mybook.to/FortuneBrawling

 http://myBook.to/CrazyLadyAuthorsCookbook

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Thank you so much for your visit, Jennifer. I’m looking forward to reading and reviewing more of your novels, which I’ll be sharing on this blog with my readers at a future date!

 

#Author Spotlight Mandy Lee & #BookReview of her Novel ‘You Don’t Know Me’

You all know why I love Romantic novels and Byronic heroes. If you don’t remember, check this post!

To sum up, they simply are tantalising, because the reader knows that this disgusting frog will become an irresistible prince, with the heroine’s invaluable help, by the time the novel / trilogy is concluded. To quote myself:

‘Byronic heroes are brooding, darkly handsome, and they have a secret, hidden past, which makes them behave antisocially. They are usually worldly, rich, cynical, destructive, and resentful. They have difficulties identifying and even expressing their emotions, and women find them extremely alluring. They are idealized yet flawed characters, who need to be recovered and repaired by the perfect heroine.’

But what are the heroines like? What kind of a woman can fall in love and transform this semi-monster into a cuddly teddy bear?

Answer: A feisty, intelligent, strong-willed, generous and loving spirit, who also has issues of her own to deal with, just like Maya.

Fishing for Hyenas and looking for sleeping Penguins: A story of

 

I loved ‘You Don’t Know Me’ right from page one. It is a well-written, well-plotted, fun and enjoyable, romantic and erotic read. When I started reading I thought, ‘This is the novel I’ve been waiting to read for months.’ I love romance, and I also enjoy an erotic twist, if the characters and plot are enticing enough, and Maya and Dan are an enthralling couple to follow.

Our heroine, Maya Scotton, is an artist with a severe case of painter’s block, who takes on an office job at a construction company in order to pay the bills. She meets the seemingly heartless and mysterious owner of the company, and they both embark on a steamy and complex relationship, which will keep you turning pages impatiently.

Maya is a friendly, funny and loveable young woman, who is denying her artistic talent, by running away from herself. She desperately needs the love, reassurance and security that Dan offers.

Yet Dan has dark demands and a shocking secret. Dan is not who he seems. You don’t know me ends with a revealing cliffhanger, and I’m impatiently waiting for book two.

There is suspense as well as romance, building up to a final shocking secret, which both links them painfully yet threatens to keeps them apart forever.

I love character driven novels, and all the characters in You Don’t Know Me are so well-crafted that I felt as if I could see and hear every one of them. Everyone who appears is valuable to the reader, because they have a specific role in the plot, which moves on with every page.

The big plus, at least for me, is that it takes place in London, mainly around the South Bank, which happens to be one of my favourite places! I’ve walked near and around GabrieI’s Wharf many times, but now I can’t wait to go back and have a coffee there, Dan’s favourite place! There are many more places to look out for. Mandy Lee has drawn me into the characters’ fictional world, and I loved it!

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                                             Dan and Maya’s London

One of the great things about being a writer, being a reader and reviewer, and having a blog in the 21st century is that you can meet and speak to other writers on Social Media. I ‘met’ Mandy on Twitter, by chance. I’m always interested in debut authors and romance, so I decided to give her book a go a few weeks ago. I was so impressed that as soon I finished reading it, I contacted her for an author interview and spotlight on my blog. I’m also telling everyone I know to give it a try. For less than the price of a coffee you get to meet a lovely young painter, fall in love, and visit London!

Here’s the interview:

Your author profile on Amazon says you work in the field of education. This means you have a full time, demanding job. I know first-hand because I’m a teacher! How did you manage to find time to write at the same time and what’s your writing routine?

Teaching is a demanding job and it’s been tough trying to fit it all in. When I get home from work, I generally take an hour or so to wind down, walk the dog, and get the dinner ready. Then I switch on the laptop and write for as long as I can. At the weekends, I do about six hours a day. In the holidays, it’s the same. I’m looking forward to giving up the full time job at Christmas, after which I’ll be taking five months off to finish the trilogy. After that, I’ll do a little supply to help pay the bills, but I’ll be able to focus a lot more on writing. I’m lucky. My family are very supportive.

What would you say to a reader to convince them to read your novel?

If you love a good story, then you won’t be disappointed! I’ve been told more than once that it’s a real page turner. Readers also tell me that they love the steamy sex scenes, and that they get thoroughly involved with the characters. It’s also pretty funny in places!

You don’t know me has romance and suspense, right to the end. You could have written a more traditional type of romance with a similar storyline, why did you decide to write an erotic instead of a more traditional type of romance?

I’m a big fan of erotic romance. I started off by reading the 50 Shades trilogy because all of my friends were reading it. I really didn’t think I’d enjoy it but I was hooked! I then went on to read other erotic romances. In particular, I loved Sylvia Day’s Crossfire series and I also lapped up the This Man trilogy by Jodi Ellen Malpas. I guess I just enjoy a good sex scene. On that level, it’s pure escapism. But the additional challenge with erotic romance is to weave the sex into the storyline so that it’s absolutely essential. I started You Don’t Know Me as an experiment to see if I could do it. Along the way, I think I finally found my genre!

Your novel has been compared to 50 Shades of Grey, I know you don’t mind this comparison, but in what ways would you say it’s similar and/or different to 50 Shades?

I’ve read quite a few erotic romances and there are similarities between all of them, the most obvious being the idea of the rich but damaged alpha male who’s unexpectedly brought to his knees by a woman. There’s nothing new in this. I think Charlotte Bronte might have got in there first with Jane Eyre, only without the sex! Having said that, I consciously worked to make my book different to 50 Shades. For example, my heroine isn’t an innocent ingénue. Maya’s a little older, definitely sexually experienced and she’s got demons of her own to deal with. She’s more than capable of giving Dan a run for his money, and while she’s willing to give him control in everything sexual, she won’t let him walk all over her outside of the bedroom. I wanted my male lead to be different too. Yes, he’s an alpha male with a shady past and kinky sexual preferences, but he wants to leave behind the hard core BDSM. Although it’s partly about the need for control, his interest in BDSM is more about escaping from who he really is. He doesn’t want that escape any more. As you get to know him, you also discover that he’s not a power-hungry control freak at all: there’s a much softer side trying to get out. And as I was creating my ideal man, he also needed a damn good sense of humour!

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You say in your biography that you are in the shadows and prefer not to share an author picture due to your job. I presume that if your wrote a more mainstream type of fiction, you wouldn’t be in the shadows. Why do you think there’s a stigma in being an author of erotica?

If I weren’t a teacher, I’d be more than willing to share a picture! In fact, I’d love nothing more. Generally speaking, I don’t think that there is a stigma attached to writing erotica, not any more. In my case, it’s just that some parents might have an issue with their children being taught by someone who writes explicit sex scenes. And more than that, I’m pretty sure that if the students found out, some of them would end up reading it, and that could cause all sorts of difficult situations!

What are you writing at the moment and what are your plans for the future?

At the minute, I’m working on True Colours, the sequel to You Don’t Know Me. The second draft is done and I’m now editing and revising. It should be ready for publication just after Christmas. Then I’ll be finishing the trilogy. Before I wrote You Don’t Know Me, I wrote a comedy trilogy set in the world of education. An agent showed interest in it at one point, but couldn’t offer representation. I’m having that edited at the minute and I’ll be self-publishing it under another pen name in the New Year. But the plan is to continue with erotic romance. I have notebooks full of ideas for future stories!

How can readers find out more or contact you?
Twitter – @mandylee2015
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/Mandy-Lee-424286884398779/?ref=hl
Website (including blog) – http://www.mandy-lee.com/
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/14125711.Mandy_Lee

Where can readers buy your book?
Amazon UK

Amazon US