Author Q&A with Erika Marks – Plus, a Giveaway!

I fell in love with Erika Marks’ writing after reading The Guest House earlier this year (to see my full review, click here) and I am thrilled that she has a new book which just came out!

To celebrate the release of her new book It Comes in Waves (which hit stores July 1st), we sat down and did a Q&A with Erika herself and asked her questions about her new book, her writing, and much more! I have had so much fun getting to know Erika and she is one of the sweetest authors out there who absolutely adores her readers.

9780451418869_large_It_Comes_In_WavesThank you so much for sitting down with Karen’s Korner and participating in a Q&A session. What was your inspiration for ‘It Comes in Waves?’ How do you come up with your ideas for books?

Hi Karen! Thank you so much for these wonderful questions, and for inviting me over for a visit!

I have always loved the culture of surfing, always been attracted to it and to the sport itself, but it wasn’t until I moved to the Carolinas and started spending time in Folly Beach, where there is a vibrant surf culture, that the story took shape. Most often, my stories will evolve out of a relationship between characters, or maybe a source of tension, that lends itself to a compelling storyline—but in the case of IT COMES IN WAVES, the desire to set a story in Folly Beach and use the subject of surfing prominently in the characters’ lives really drove the evolution of the novel.

Out of all your books, who has been your favorite character to write about and why?

Karen, I LOVE this question—I’ve never been asked this and I had a great time thinking about my answer.  As you can imagine, it’s impossible to pick just one—or even two!—but if pressed: Maybe because it was my first published novel, but I might say Dahlia from LITTLE GALE GUMBO. She was such a tough nut to crack but I adored her—warts and all—and she had plenty! I wanted so desperately to get her to a place of love, where she could put down the walls she’d built up, because she was so fiercely loyal to her family and to her own beliefs, but she was determined to shut herself off to love. She was fiery and independent but fearless—except when it came to letting a man inside her heart.

I would also say Dean from THE MERMAID COLLECTOR was great fun to write because there is something a little dangerous about him, a recklessness that is so raw and unpredictable that he seemed impossible to contain even as I wrote his scenes. He creates chaos for those around him, especially his older and deeply serious brother Tom, but there is a certain infectiousness about him, an irresistibility, that makes life with him an adventure you want to follow—even if you fear at times he will lead you right off a cliff.

What is your writing process like? Do you write an outline before every book you write and do you write every day?

During the summer while my little ones are out of school, my writing schedule fluctuates but during the school year I can be more regimented. I never outline a whole book but I may thumbnail sketch a few scenes in advance. For me, a first draft is pretty raw and I know it’s in subsequent drafts where I’ll dig in and really get to the meat of the story and my characters, so I think I allow myself a lot of room to experiment initially.

What has been the best compliment you’ve received about any of your books?

People have said SUCH kind and amazing things over the years and I treasure every word. I think one of the most powerful compliments is when readers tell you they couldn’t put the book down or that they identified with the character in some very deep way. As a storyteller, it is my greatest hope that my books move my readers enough for them to feel passionately about a character—it means the world!

If you didn’t write books, what would you do for a living?

I have had the good fortune to do a lot of things in my work life but most likely I’d return to being an illustrator.

Do you have a favorite author and what would be your top 5 all-time favorite books?

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI have so many favorite authors—not to mention favorite books! But if I had to pick my very favorites, the list would have to include:

  • The Life of Pi, Yann Martel
  • The Shipping News, Annie Proulx
  • The Shining, Stephen King
  • Blackbird House, Alice Hoffman (though I could easily say any one of hers)
  • We Don’t Live Here Anymore, by Andre Dubus
  • The Prince of Tides, Pat Conroy

What are you currently reading?

I just finished The Unexpected Waltz by Kim Wright which I loved so now I’m looking at my TBR pile and trying to pick what’s next—which is no easy task if you could see my pile! That said, I’m always open to recommendations if anyone wants to share some in the comments, I’d love it!

What writing advice do you have for other aspiring authors?

Be patient and keep writing. Don’t hang your hat on one book. Be prepared to write another—and don’t worry, like a romance that doesn’t work out, you are sure you can never love a new book as feverishly as you loved the one you wrote before it, but you will and you must. Always be professional and mindful of the contacts you make—nurture them so that they can grow with you.

Do you have any fun plans this summer and have you ever tried surfing?

Actually, my family and I were lucky enough to spend a week in Folly Beach when school let out and it was amazing to be back in the setting of the novel, to be surrounded by all the sights and smells and sounds that I had rolling around my head in the months while I was writing. And of course the surfing! I only wish I was the surfer Claire is but I’m not—it’s thanks to good friends who are gifted surfers that I was able to convey the sport in the novel and learn so much about the craft of the sport—I am in awe of those who can do it so well.

I’ve read that you make a pretty delicious gumbo! Is that your favorite thing to cook or do you have another favorite dish you love making?

You are kind! I can make a good gumbo but in all truth my husband, who is a native New Orleanian, is the true gumbo cook in the house. I do love to cook but I’m a lazy cook without the patience to make extremely involved dishes and gumbo requires A LOT of patience. I’m also a huge fan of desserts so to me a cheesecake or a bread pudding might be my favorite thing to make.

If you’re allowed to tell us, what can your readers expect next? Are you currently working on anything new?

I am in the very early stages of a new project—so new in fact that I know very little about it except that it will feature a shipwreck—but I am so excited about it, even in this beginning stage. I’ve begun to map out the characters and they fascinate me which is always the hope!

I’m also working with the uber-talented author Jane Porter and her new imprint, Tule Publishing, on Southern-set novellas with Kim Boykin. Our series is called Carolina Born and the stories are great fun, perfect for summer reading—and very romantic!

To celebrate the release of her new novel, Erika and her team have graciously provided Karen’s Korner with a copy of It Comes in Waves for a giveaway! Enter via the Rafflecopter below:

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My Last Kiss – Bethany Neal

mylastkisscoverSummary: What if your last kiss was with the wrong boy?

Cassidy Haines remembers her first kiss vividly. It was on the old covered bridge the summer before her freshman year with her boyfriend of three years, Ethan Keys. But her last kiss–the one she shared with someone at her seventeenth birthday party the night she died–is a blur. Cassidy is trapped in the living world, not only mourning the loss of her human body, but left with the grim suspicion that her untimely death wasn’t a suicide as everyone assumes. She can’t remember anything from the weeks leading up to her birthday and she’s worried that she may have betrayed her boyfriend.

If Cassidy is to uncover the truth about that fateful night and make amends with the only boy she’ll ever love, she must face her past and all the decisions she made–good and bad–that led to her last kiss

My Thoughts: I love books that bring me back to my high school days so I was glad to see My Last Kiss added to the lineup for the BookSparks Summer Reading Challenge. This book is about first loves and second chances with a ton of mystery and surprises spread throughout. My Last Kiss was another interesting young adult novel that will keep you on the edge of your seat from the very first page – the author isn’t afraid to dive right into the action from the start.

The story centers on Cassidy, a 17-year old ghost who has just died but is sort of stuck in this ‘limbo’ state and she cannot figure out why. Cassidy had a pretty good life – a solid group of friends, wonderful ballet skills, decent grades, and a boyfriend who would do anything for her. However, she was recently having a hard time coping with the fact that her parents were fighting constantly and her mom moving out. As a ghost, Cassidy has no idea of the events leading up to her death and throughout the story she keeps having flashbacks which ultimately lead to answering her own (and everyone else’s) question: how did Cassidy die?

I am not one for ‘ghost stories’ but the author did a great job making the storyline feel real especially through the way she described the grief and loss Cassidy’s family and friends felt. This book is full of so many twists and turns – a perfect page-turner! My Last Kiss was a great debut for Bethany Neal that did not disappoint…I can’t wait to see what she comes out with next.

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About the Author:

BethanyNeal_headshotI write YA novels with a little dark side and a lot of kissing! I am obsessed with (but not limited to): nail polish, ginormous rings, pigs, dream analysis, memorizing song lyrics, pickles, dessert, predestined love, not growing up, sour gummy candies, music videos, Halloween, and fictional boys who play guitar.

You can find me locked in my writertorium for insane amounts of time. But, hey, insanity is fun!

My debut novel MY LAST KISS will be published by FSG Books for Young Readers June 10, 2014.

Praise for the Book:

“Cassidy is sure she had no reason to end her life, and she cannot move on until she discovers how she really died . . . The story unfolds as her spirit is pulled uncontrollably from one grief-stricken friend or family member to another, and to reliving the events that led to her death.” – School Library Journal

PopSugar Must Have Box Review – Special Edition Summer

Once again, I am behind on my subscription box reviews and am only now getting to posting about the boxes from June. I will start with my PopSugar Special Edition Summer Must Have Box – here is a peek into the box:

Like all Special Edition boxes, this one came in a fancy and sturdy black box which is different from the standard cardboard box that the monthly one comes in.

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The box is shipped via FedEx and comes with an information packet detailing every item you receive in the box.

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Sisters of Los Angeles City Rocks Glasses ($45): I absolutely love these glasses and we have already started using them at our household. These were made exclusively for PopSugar but they have tons of different cities and designs on their website.

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Samudra Blue Tropics Pouch ($65): This pouch is perfect to take with you when you’re headed to the beach or the pool. It has fun and bright designs (different on each side) that is perfect for summer – plus, it’s very roomy and big enough to fit a paperback book!

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Sachajuan Ocean Mist ($28): This spray smells amazing and is perfect to take with you on vacation especially when you will be jumping in and out of the pool/ocean!

Eliunt Extra Virgin Olive Oil ($17): When I first saw this in the box, I had no idea what it was from first glance – I just assumed it was some haircare or beauty product. So I was thrilled when I read the label and found out it was olive oil especially since I use olive oil in almost about every meal I cook. I’m still not sure how this fits in the PopSugar box but I’m happy to use this item regardless!

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Soixante Neuf Jewels Horn Necklace ($155): I love this necklace and was very happy to see the turquoise one in my box (the colors varied). I would never in a million years paid full price for this but the necklace alone surpasses the price I paid for this book (wooohoo!) I am seeing more and more of the horn design and I can’t wait to start wearing this one!

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Tarte Cheek Stain ($30): I am a big fan of Tarte but am not big on blush or cheek stains so I may end up re-gifting this item.

Tarte Lipsurgence Power Pigment ($24): The color was a little bright for me but after I covered it with a clear gloss, it was much more subtle.

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Verdict: I enjoyed the Special Edition Summer box and the value is always great; I paid $100 for this box and received around $365 worth of products. This wasn’t my favorite Special Edition box but I still enjoyed the majority of the products especially the pouch, glasses and horn necklace!

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Are you a PopSugar member? To sign up, go here!

Coupon: Use code REFER5 to save $5 off your first box!

Author Q&A with Erin McCahan – Plus, a Giveaway!

After reading Love and Other Foreign Words as part of the BookSparks Summer Reading Challenge, I was dying to get in touch with the author and learn more about her inspiration for this book. I read this book back in May and instantly fell in love with the story and the characters – to see my full review, click here.

To celebrate the success of her new novel, I sat down with Erin and asked her questions about her new book, writing, favorite authors, and much more!

LAOFW-Cover photoThank you so much for sitting down with Karen’s Korner for an author Q&A! What was your inspiration for ‘Love and Other Foreign Words’ and are any of the characters based on real people?  

Okay – lofty as this sounds – my inspiration came from my own experience.  I have an unusually high IQ, but in the spirit of full disclosure, I did not light the academic world on fire, but that’s a different story.  Anyway, I got completely irked with the seemingly universal depiction in YA literature – also movies – of brainy kids as friendless freaks or friendless jerks.  It’s such a stereotype, and I definitely wanted to portray something a little more accurate.  I have a number of gifted friends who are fun, sweet, loving, gentle and well-liked.  None of them collects bugs.

So in that way, Josie is based on me a little.  Me now, not me in high school.  High School Me was shy.  I had friends, but I was still shy, and Josie is not.  Also, Geoff is based on someone I know, but he’ll never recognize himself because he’ll never read the book.  He considers YA beneath his dignity.

What character from ‘Love and Other Foreign Words’ did you relate to the most from when you were in high school?

I would have related to Josie, who is doing what everyone ultimately does – trying to find that essential core group of people she effortlessly connects with.

What is your writing process like? What are your favorite parts and least favorite parts?

I don’t begin any novel before I have the simple frame of beginning and end.  So I’ll chew on an idea for however long that takes – weeks to months – before I start writing.  Then, when I write, I don’t use notes, don’t make an outline.  I just sit down and write and love that moment – usually about a fourth of the way into the book – when the story starts telling itself, and all I have to do is get out of the way.

My favorite part is working out the story in my head because anything is possible, and that’s just fun.  Least favorite part of the process is the Sporadic Unproductive Workday where I spend eight hours at my desk and produce little or nothing worth saving.

Do you have a favorite author and what would be your top 5 all-time favorite books?

I have several favorite authors – Kurt Vonnegut, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Annie Dillard, J.D. Salinger, P.G. Wodehouse, Graham Green, Evelyn Waugh and Francisco X. Stork.

Top 5 All-Time Favorite Books is a tougher category to fill.  Hmm.  I fell in love with reading over THE GREAT GATSBY, so I’d have to put that on the list for sentimental reasons.  And then I’d say SLAUGHTERHOUSE FIVE, LEAVE IT TO PSMITH, AN AMERICAN CHILDHOOD and FRANNY AND ZOOEY

What are you currently reading?

ErinMcCahan-headshotBetween my desk and my nightstand, I have a bunch of different books I’m reading.  At my desk are a couple YA/middle grade novels – WE WERE LIARS and THE NIGHT GARDENER.  I read these during the day for work.  At night I read for pleasure, so down on my nightstand are DEATH OF AN EMPIRE – a nonfiction work about the decline of Salem, MA, in the 1800s – and THE HOUSE OF MIRTH.  I love period fiction and nonfiction!

What writing advice do you have for other aspiring authors?

The best advice I can give is this:  Take every writing course available to you.  Learn to take advice from professionals with grace.  Remember that nothing you write is perfect.  And be patient.

What has been the best moment so far in your writing career?

The day, about 3 years before I sold my first novel, when my husband came home to find me sitting on the kitchen floor, crying over my latest rejection letter and blubbering that I was going to quit writing.  And he told me,  “Write until you run out of pens.”

If you didn’t write books, what would you do for a living?

I was a youth minister when I sold my first novel, and I loved that.  But to be a good youth minister, you can’t be half-time, and there just aren’t enough hours in the day anymore for me to be a fulltime writer and fulltime youth minister.  And I miss youth ministry a lot!

If you’re allowed to tell us, what can your readers expect next? Are you currently working on anything new?

I’m working on a novel called THE LAKE EFFECT about an 18-yeard-old guy, Briggs, who gets a handyman job in the Lake Michigan beach house of an 80-year-old Serbian woman whose hobby is attending funerals.  No, really, it’s going to be funny!

To celebrate the success of her new novel, Erin and her team have graciously provided Karen’s Korner with a copy of Love and Other Foreign Words for a giveaway! Enter via the Rafflecopter below:

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A Moral Dilemma – Zara Kingsley

a moral dilemmaSummary:

Think You’d Never Date A Married Man?……….Think Again!

Rebecca Hardy wasn’t a naturally deceptive person, though she took quite well to the art of deception. Too well perhaps. She liked to think of it as helping someone out. Female camaraderie and all that. But it had all gone too far. She gone too far. She had, after all, ruined someone’s life. Hadn’t she?

Having theatrically caught her boyfriend cheating, Rebecca, convinced she was born in the wrong era, has had it with these modern day men. She has even less regard for these immoral modern day women, (of which she highly suspects her best female friend Abigail is one), who tend to prey on men in committed relationships. What is wrong with them?! Don’t they care that they’re breaking hearts and destroying lives?! Rebecca, with her high morals and family values, would never even consider dating a married man. Which is exactly why, it is of no surprise her friends are at serious odds, when Rebecca finds herself doing exactly that. Dating a married man…… Albeit, at the fervent request of his wife; the notorious Isabella Coombs.

My Thoughts:

I heard of A Moral Dilemma from a few of my blogger friends so when I saw it was going on tour with CLP Blog Tours, I instantly jumped on the chance to read and review this book. Well, I’m glad that I did because this book was highly entertaining and a fun read to take with you on the beach – it has romance, drama, mystery, and a lot of humor!

The story centers on the main character Rebecca, a traditionalist who loves to take care of her boyfriend until she finds out he has been cheating on her. And to make matters worse, Rebecca is struggling to pay her bills and is thrown into an unthinkable situation at work when she receives an offer from one of her richest clients. However, this offer goes against everything Rebecca has ever stood for and the morals she has lived by. I found myself rooting for Rebecca throughout the book and kept hoping that everything would work out okay in the end for her.

This book has a great plot and a unique cast of characters - I absolutely loved the interaction between Rebecca and her two best friends. A Moral Dilemma is full of humor, sass, wit and women power! If you’re looking for a fun beach read this summer, I recommend picking up a copy.

About the Author – Zara Kingsley:

Luckily I was born and raised in a City I love living in: London, UK. And it’s just as well, as I can barely afford to go on a camping holiday much less move. I have a gorgeous 9yr old daughter, yeah, I’m a single mom, (judge me later), and I like to think of myself as a yummy mummy, when in reality I’m still working on shifting this damn cellulite of my ass. I do actually make it into the gym from time to time, but mainly to appreciate the…ahem …view :)

So what kinda stuff do I write?

Well, I write what I love reading, Romantic Comedy and the original kinda British ChickLit. I don’t do vampires, werewolves, or horror, because sheesh, I wanna sleep at night. In my bed. Not underneath it. So if you like Bridget Jones or Shopaholic, then you might dig my stuff.

My heroines are women in their late twenties / early thirties. My heroes are hot, cute and not too hunky. My stories are about life, love and friendship, with a few twists and turns and tons of fun. They’re not particularly deep, nor meaningful, they’re a lighthearted, easy read, that go well with a glass of wine and a few chocs, and just might make you laugh out loud

The Glass Kitchen – Linda Francis Lee

Glass KitchenSummary: Portia Cuthcart never intended to leave Texas. Her dream was to run the Glass Kitchen restaurant her grandmother built decades ago. But after a string of betrayals and the loss of her legacy, Portia is determined to start a new life with her sisters in Manhattan… and never cook again.

But when she moves into a dilapidated brownstone on the Upper West Side, she meets twelve-year-old Ariel and her widowed father Gabriel, a man with his hands full trying to raise two daughters on his own. Soon, a promise made to her sisters forces Portia back into a world of magical food and swirling emotions, where she must confront everything she has been running from. What seems so simple on the surface is anything but when long-held secrets are revealed, rivalries exposed, and the promise of new love stirs to life like chocolate mixing with cream.

The Glass Kitchen is a delicious novel, a tempestuous story of a woman washed up on the shores of Manhattan who discovers that a kitchen—like an island—can be a refuge, if only she has the courage to give in to the pull of love, the power of forgiveness, and accept the complications of what it means to be family.

My Thoughts: First of all, one of my favorite things to do (besides read) is cook so after I read the title and synopsis then saw the cover of this book, I knew I would fall in love with this story…and fall in love I did! The Glass Kitchen is a heartfelt and beautiful story about family, love, and second chances and is probably one of my favorite books that I’ve read this year. I did an author Q&A with Linda Francis Lee a few weeks ago and loved getting to know her and learn about her inspiration for this book (to see the full interview, click here!)

The story centers on Portia, a Texas-native who moves to New York City for a fresh start after her husband cheats on her with a good friend. Portia has always been a talented cook but it’s more than her ability to cook a great meal; she has a special gift (the ‘knowing’) that allows Portia to see what she should cook or bake next without understanding why such as cooking a dinner for four without knowing three people were about to stop by unexpectedly to visit. However, Portia has been trying to hide this gift for years until she is forced to get back in the kitchen in order to support herself and help out her two sisters.

I loved the characters in this book – the three sisters Portia, Olivia and Cordelia have such a special bond that the author wrote to beautifully plus they are all very unique and each have their own special quirks. In addition, I loved getting to know Gabriel and his two daughters, the family who lives in the apartment above Portia. The author does a wonderful job describing the struggles a single parent goes through when having to raise two daughters on his own.

The Glass Kitchen is one of the stories you can’t stop thinking about and I’ve already started recommending this book to my friends, family and even my coworkers – I want everyone to experience this amazing book that makes you feel nothing but happiness! Plus, the back of the book is filled with various recipes that as a lover of food, I cannot wait to try!

Since I enjoyed this book so much, I am giving away a free copy! Enter via the Rafflecopter below:

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The Revealed – Jessica Hickam

The-RevealedSummary:

Lily Atwood lives in what used to be called Washington, D.C. Her father is one of the most powerful men in the world, having been a vital part of rebuilding and reuniting humanity after the war that killed over five billion people. Now he’s running to be one of its leaders.

But in the rediscovered peace on Earth, a new enemy has risen. They call themselves the Revealed – a powerful underground organization that has been kidnapping 18 year olds across the globe without reservation. No one knows why they are kidnapping these teens, but it’s clear something is different about these people. They can set fires with a snap of their fingers and create a wind strong enough to barrel over a tree with a flick of their wrist. No one has been able to stop them, and they have targeted Lily as their next victim.

But Lily has waited too long to break free from her father’s shadow to let some rebel organization just ruin everything. Not without a fight.

My Thoughts:

When I saw that The Revealed was going to be a part of the BookSparks Summer Reading Challenge, I honestly wasn’t overly thrilled to pick up this book since it didn’t sound like something I’d normally read. With that being said, I am extremely happy that I did! I enjoyed reading this young adult novel and I truly believe readers of all ages would love this one. The Revealed is a riveting page turner that will have you on the edge of your seat up until the final pages.

The story centers on Lily, an eighteen year old girl and daughter of one of the wealthiest and most influential men in the world (who is also running for president.) Lily is under house arrest, constantly living in fear of being taken after receiving multiple threatening notes from the Revealed, a group of individuals who have been snatching eighteen year olds for years. Hickam does a wonderful job transporting the reader into this post-war dystopian world where families and eighteen year olds are constantly living in fear.

I enjoyed reading about the different characters, who are all very unique in their own ways and the relationships Lily has with her parents, Kai, and her friend Rory. There were certain characters in this novel who you love, hate and question their loyalty but as the book progresses, the reader and Lily finally figure out who to trust. The book started off a little slow but picks up about halfway through when the action really starts to kick in and then I couldn’t put the book down until I figured out what happens at the end.

The Revealed has a similar flare to The Hunger Games and Divergent books but with a sci-fi and supernatural twist. This book is full of surprises and the end of the book will leave you wanting more but luckily Hickam is already working on the sequel called The Enraged - can’t wait!

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To buy the book, click here!

Jessica-Hickam-High-Res-073013About the Author:

After graduating from Arizona State University in 2011, Jessica relocated to Los Angeles where she now works in the film industry. From acting to assisting on the Paramount feature Star Trek: Into Darkness, her experiences have only reinforced her love for living in other worlds – whether they be from her own imagination or someone else’s. The Revealed is her first novel.

Connect with the Author:

The Walk-In Closet – Abdi Nazemian

The Walk-In ClosetSummary:

Kara Walker has never found much glamour in her own life, especially not when compared to the life of her best friend Bobby Ebadi. Bobby, along with his sophisticated parents Leila and Hossein, is everything Kara always wanted to be. The trio provides the perfect antidote to what Kara views as the more mundane problems of her girlfriends and her divorced parents.

And so when the Ebadis assume that Kara is Bobby’s girlfriend, she willingly steps into the role. She enjoys the perks of life in this closet, not only Leila’s designer hand-me-downs and free rent, but also the excitement of living life as an Ebadi.

As Kara’s 30th birthday approaches, Leila and Hossein up the pressure. They are ready for Kara to assume the mantle of the next Mrs. Ebadi, and Bobby seems prepared to give them what they want: the illusion of a traditional home and grandchildren. How far will Kara be willing to go? And will she be willing to pull the Persian rug out from under them when she discovers that her own secret is just one of many lurking inside the Ebadi closet?

To order the book, click here.

My Thoughts:

I finished The Walk-In Closet when I was on vacation and now that I’m back, I still cannot stop thinking about this book. From first glance at the synopsis, I could never have imagined how much I would love this book. The Walk-In Closet is a beautifully written novel full of Persian culture and a wonderful set of characters. This book truly has it all: a very intriguing storyline, a beautiful setting, family and relationship drama, high-end fashion and LA nightlife, and even some comedy sprinkled throughout.

The story centers on Kara, a woman who just turned thirty and has been in a fake relationship with her gay best friend (and online sex addict) Bobby, whose family is one of the wealthiest in the Los Angeles Persian community (also known as Tehrangeles.) Kara has kept up this appearance in order to help Bobby who is afraid of coming out to his parents – plus, Kara has truly become part of the Ebadi family by attending dinners, family and cultural events, and even receiving lavish gifts from Bobby’s parents especially his mother Leila. All members of the Ebadi family are harboring secrets of their own and the author takes you through an emotional and drama-filled journey to unveiling the truth.

I loved reading about the different characters and the author let them all develop beautifully throughout the book. Everyone in this story struggles with their own issues and I loved reading how they eventually embrace their flaws instead of trying to hide them.

The Walk-In Closet is a wonderful new read that will move you and have you wanting more throughout the book – I couldn’t put this one down and I guarantee you won’t be able to either. Thank you the BookSparks Summer Reading Challenge for yet again introducing me to a spectacular novel!

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Praise for the Book:

“Absorbing entertainment. I walked into Nazemian’s walk-in closet and didn’t want to walk out.” – Kelly Oxford, author of Everything is Perfect When You’re a Liar

”Absolutely engrossing read from page one- Abdi Nazemian has painted a world so vivid and real that even if you know nothing of ‘Tehrangeles’, by the end you feel as if you are a part it. I simply COULD NOT put this book down! ” – Busy Philipps

“At once wickedly funny and devastatingly moving, The Walk-In Closet is a thrilling ride from start to finish. Nazemian surprises with every turn he takes, telling a story that vividly illustrates the price of living in a closet.” – Chaz Bono, author of Family Outing, The End of Innocence and Transition

”I relished every moment of this warm, funny, brutally engaging novel. Abdi Nazemian’s Los Angeles is both uncannily familiar and entirely foreign. Put this in the canon of LA literature: Nazemian has written a side of Los Angeles prevalent in real life but rarely seen in fiction.” – Katherine Taylor, author of Rules for Saying Goodbye

”Ladies: If you like Shahs of Sunset you’ll love The Walk-In Closet. Abdi Nazemian shines a white hot, entertaining spotlight on the ins and outs of Tehrangeles. Abdi will get your inner Persian princess purring.  Curl up and enjoy this fabulous debut!” – Jessica Bendinger, author of The Seven Rays, screenwriter of Bring it On and Sex and the City

“The Walk-In Closet is a contemporary fable of love, loss and redemption, set between cultures and between the sexes. Written at a spanking pace, with humor, suspense and a heart, it captures the voice of a generation and paves the way to a new genre of literary fiction.” - Lila Azam Zanganeh, author of The Enchanter: Nabokov and Happiness

Abdi4“Do you know about Tehrangeles? I didn’t. But thanks to Abdi Nazemian’s The Walk-In Closet. I now feel right at home among its brave, foolish, proud, unsinkable expatriates. If one of the tasks of fiction is to bring to light a world that for whatever reasons we haven’t bothered to see for ourselves — and to make us see that it is our world, too — then Nazemian’s book is a success. That he then adds his unique way of seeing — in which he marries his sharp satirist’s eye to a profound empathy — makes this hilarious, heartbreaking first novel a triumph.” – Richard Kramer, author of These Things Happen, screenwriter of Tales of the City, thirtysomething, and My So-Called Life

About the Author:

Abdi Nazemian is the screenwriter of The Quiet, Celeste in the City, Beautiful Girl, and the short film Revolution, which he also directed.  He is an alumnus of the Sundance Writer’s Lab, a mentor at the Outfest Screenwriter’s Lab, and has taught screenwriting at UCLA Extension.  He lives in Los Angeles with his two children, and his dog Hedy Lamarr. The Walk-In Closet is his first novel.

Q&A with Patti Callahan Henry – Plus, a Giveaway!

StoriesIn celebration of The Stories We Tell hitting stores TODAY, I sat down with Patti and asked her questions about her writing, her new book, her career, and much more! I have loved getting to know Patti and she is one of the sweetest authors I’ve met, Plus, I absolutely adore her books especially one of her newer novels And Then I Found You which came out in paperback this May (to see my full review, click here.)

Thank you so much for sitting down with Karen’s Korner and participating in a Q&A session. What was your inspiration for ‘The Stories We Tell?’ How do you come up with your ideas for books?

There were really three different inspirations that braided together in THE STORIES WE TELL. The first was my fascination with letterpress and typography. The handmade creativity that we lose with technology is something I wanted to write about. The main character, Eve is struggling with the need for this handmade creative life and the demands of family and the fast-paced world around her. The second inspiration came from my first career as a nurse where I worked in Pediatric head injuries. I have always been fascinated with how the mind works after an injury: memories and dreams are only fragments of what has been lost. The third inspiration came from that gray line of betrayal, the question of what is infidelity and what isn’t?

I come up with my ideas in so many different ways. Usually I start off with an opening image. For this book, it was the car wreck. I knew that the character would need to untangle the “stories” about that night. I don’t outline, so I am carried along in the story just as you hopefully are.

I love the different women in your stories especially Kate in ‘And Then I Found You.’ Who has been your favorite character to write about?

I don’t think I have a favorite character to write about. They have all meant different things to me, just as friends do in real life. Kate was special though, she struggled so much and I struggled right there with her as she tried to find her heart under all the pain and mess.

PCH-PattiWhat is your writing process like? What are your favorite parts and least favorite parts?

My writing process is messy. I don’t outline so I usually start with an idea and then just take off every day asking,  “I wonder what happens next?”. As the story starts to take shape, and as I start to know the characters better, I will sketch an outline to see where we’ve been together and where we might like to go. My favorite part is the beginning when it all seems so full of possibility. Least favorite part? The middle, when I’m not sure I know what I’m doing. It’s the time I have to push on in faith.

Do you have a favorite author and what would be your top 5 all-time favorite books?

I have a favorite author for different reasons at different times so I couldn’t choose one over all. But favorite books? Let’s see. Beach Music. The End of the Affair. The Stand. The Goldfinch (a new addition) and…Fox’s Earth. But this is the kind of question you could ask me tomorrow and I’d give you five different books.

What are you currently reading?

I’m currently reading a book for blurb called A Beginners Guide to Happiness by Katherine Center. I’m really enjoying it!

If you didn’t write books, what would you do for a living?

I try not to imagine what I’d do for a living if I didn’t write books. I was a nurse before I started writing to publish, so maybe I’d still be doing that. I’m also obsessed with decorating and home décor, so maybe I’d delve into that field.

What has been the best moment so far in your writing career?

There have been so many amazing moments, and your question makes me focus on those moments. As authors we can get caught in the web of worry about the negative aspects of publishing. But there are some glorious moments. If I had to choose it would be the moment my agent called me on my cell phone twelve years ago while I was in car pool to pick up my kids. She said, “We have an offer from Penguin.”

What writing advice do you have for other aspiring authors?

Read. Read. Write. Read. Write. Read. Network with other authors and editors and agents. Read. Write. Read.

With an author as a mother, do your children love to read? What are some of their favorite books?

My kids aren’t the avid reader I was and am. My oldest, Meagan, reads much more now that she’s in college and enjoying reading for pleasure. But my two teen boys? Not so much.

If you’re allowed to tell us, what can your readers expect next? Are you currently working on anything new?

I am working on something new but I can’t yet articulate exactly what it’s about. It has something to do with how sometimes people can come together for the wrong reasons and still make it right…

To celebrate the release, Patti and her team have graciously provided Karen’s Korner with TWO copies of The Stories We Tell for a giveaway! Enter via the Rafflecopter below:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Second Time Lucky – Sophie King

second timeeSummary: Once Bridgewater House was the stately home of Lord Pearmain. Now, however, the house has been divided into separate residences for financial purposes. The Lord is forced to live in one of the humble apartments alongside his newly acquired housemates, among them a newly-divorced mother-of-three, a legendary screen goddess of the 1940s, and an American PhD student. Over an eventful year their children, a burglar, a friendly dog, a very capable cleaner, and at least one ghost will transform all of the residents’ lives.

My Thoughts: I enjoyed my first Sophie King novel Love is a Secret, which I reviewed for CLP Blog Tours a few weeks earlier (click here to see my full review) and was thrilled to be able to review another one of her books. Second Time Lucky had a similar flare to Love is a Secret and was another refreshing and fun novel that will help you escape.

The story centers on a group of individuals who all come together when the Bridgewater House is converted into various apartments. The characters are all very different and unique in their own way but I love how the author ties the stories together. The author does a wonderful job writing to relationships (regardless of how messy they can sometimes be) and issues that people deal with every day such as financial, marriage and family troubles.

Second Time Lucky is another fun and witty novel by Sophie King and is perfect for reading this summer. I highly recommend picking up her entire Family, Friends and Lovers Collection if you’re looking for something fun and quick to read!

sophie kingAbout the Author: Sophie King is the author of six novels and a collection of short stories about families, friends and lovers. Her first novel, The School Run, was a bestseller when first published in 2005, and it was a bestseller for the second time when republished by Corazon Books in 2012. Sophie also supports new romance writing through her annual writing competition The Sophie King Prize.

In between novels, Sophie writes short stories and has had hundreds published in magazines. She also gives regular talks/workshops at bookshops and literary festivals. For three years, she was writer in residence at HMP Grendon, a high-security male prison. Sophie lives by the sea, in Devon, England. She is a member of the Romantic Novelists Association; Women in Journalism; the Society of Women Writers and Journalists and the National Union of Journalists.

This book is only one part of Sophie’s Family, Friends and Lovers Collection and the three books that make up this collection are on tour with CLP Book Tours. To see the full tour information, click here!

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