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2018 Reading Challenge

2018 Reading Challenge
Jill Elizabeth has read 25 books toward her goal of 175 books.
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Q&A with Sweta Vikram, Author of Louisiana Catch

A little while ago, I shared Sharon’s review of Louisiana Catch, the story of an abuse survivor making her way in an online world that is not what it seems… In Sharon’s words, “Vikram’s deeply humanistic story blatantly exposes the problems posed by identity shame and projected images, and does so in a writing style that is superbly readable and was thoroughly enjoyable, even when difficult to read.”

Today I’m pleased to share an author interview/Q&A with Sweta Vikram. It provides backstory and additional information about the book and its writing, and it will spark your attention for the novel, if you haven’t already heard about it… Enjoy!

Question and Answer Session with Sweta Vikram

WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO WRITE LOUISIANA CATCH?
The quest for identity and need for highlighting existing social issues are integral to my writing. I believe they are both intertwined and rooted in shame and cultural boundaries. We often find the truth about ourselves during challenging times or when we are emotionally, as well as physically, displaced. I also wanted to highlight grief and vulnerability—how they can help reveal our strength and core.
Continue reading Q&A with Sweta Vikram, Author of Louisiana Catch

Book Review: Isabella’s Painting by Ellen Butler

I thoroughly enjoyed this one – despite a few head-shaking moments… I was familiar with Ellen Butler’s historical fiction (the very enjoyable The Brass Compass) and looking forward to seeing how she would handle the transition into contemporary fiction. She handled it with aplomb – which should not have surprised me, because the topic she chose – stolen artwork – was one she clearly spent nearly as much time researching as she did the female spies of World War II, and with just as successful a result, to my mind.

The premise here is interesting, as are the characters (for the most part – a few felt like stereotypes, but in hindsight I think that was the point). There is a great narrow-miss romantic backstory with an FBI friend that makes for some fun sexual tension though – I’m hoping for more Mike in future books. He’s a great foil for Karina; they are similar enough to make their long-term friendship not only believable but enjoyable to partake in, yet different enough to serve as great cross-characters when the situation gets a little less than crystal-clear, legally (which, as you might imagine from a mystery, happens with some startling regularity). Continue reading Book Review: Isabella’s Painting by Ellen Butler

Book Review: Black Sugar by Miguel Bonnefoy

This was a really interesting, lyrical story – it reminded me quite a bit of The Bridge of San Luis Rey (read through the post link, the book information is about half-way down)… Both are, to many, considered slow and short on action. That is true – they are both of those things. But that is because they are not books about action, but about people and the choices they make (and don’t make) and the way those choices and decisions affect their lives.

Black Sugar opens with big action – there are pirates and a shipwreck and a mutinous crew. There’s a descent into madness and treasure and the promise of a future treasure hunt. Then things slow down – WAY down. And from the reviews I’ve seen, that’s where a lot of readers lose interest. But that’s where I found the story to really grow into itself…

Continue reading Book Review: Black Sugar by Miguel Bonnefoy

Guest Post: Thoughts on Transsexualism by Sarah Hartley, Author of Sunset:Sunrise

Today I’m pleased to bring you a very interesting post that provides the backstory to Sarah Hartley’s new book, Sunset: Sunrise. Her book takes you on a journey through her life from her boarding school days in England to her commercial real estate development career in the United States. She weaves an intensely personal story, allowing the reader to venture into her constant balancing act. Torn between the love of her family and the overwhelming need to dramatically change her life, Sarah’s journey is one of despair, heart wrenching decisions and celebrations. With numerous visits to psychiatrists, psychologists, electrologists, and surgeons, she finally determines her course. At the age of 60 she makes the ultimate decision to have surgery and to live her life as a female. Through it all she keeps her sense of humor and sense of self. As you go on this journey with Sarah, enjoy the amusing anecdotes and personal stories that Sunset:Sunrise has to offer.

Thoughts on Transsexualism
by Sarah Hartley

Sunset:Sunrise is an autobiography of my growing up in a macho world, boys only boarding school, playing rugby, business career in a male dominant environment while all the time knowing I was transsexual and ultimately dealing with the issue.

Of the LGBT community the T’s are the least accepted in society at this time. The T stands for transgender and generally speaking the media and the public are confused by the term. A person who is transgender may be one of many different types of gender bending individuals. This would include transvestites, drag queens, she-males, pretty boys, tomboys, transsexuals, etc. Continue reading Guest Post: Thoughts on Transsexualism by Sarah Hartley, Author of Sunset:Sunrise

Book Review: The Crooked Staircase by Dean Koontz

“I thought my war was over years ago.”
“It’s all one war,” she said, “and it’s never over.”

This is absolutely the most fascinating, horrifying, deliciously twisty series! I am a long-time fan of Dean Koontz, but with the Jane Hawk books he’s really come up with something delightful – the plot lines are eerie and creepy and unbelievably believable. The characters are evil and heroic and broken and battered and unredeemable and terror- and awe-inspiring in equal measure. The action is finely tuned, interwoven with cards held – and revealed – at just the right time to keep the reader on not only the edge of their seat, but the edge of their nerves. I keep thinking that things can’t possibly get *that* much worse, and then – lo and behold! – they springboard right past worse and into uncharted territory…

Jane Hawk is perhaps the greatest, strongest, most phenomenal female heroine of all time. She is nearly super-human in her ability to stay one step ahead of the evil she’s pursuing, yet at the same time, her motivations and periodic bursts of self-reflection and concern about the configurations her mission is forcing her into keep her altogether human. She never doubts her path – she knows this is the ultimate winner-takes-all – or her love for her son. She has moved so far past self-doubt in her conviction about the destruction that the Techno Arcadians are seeding in their wake that she should, by rights, start seeming inhuman (or at least un-human) in her responses, yet she never does. She remains – odd though this will sound – an utterly humane ultra-violent, whatever-it-takes protagonist. Continue reading Book Review: The Crooked Staircase by Dean Koontz

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