The Sunday Post AKA What’s On My (Mostly Virtual) Nightstand? 9-2-12

This Sunday’s version of the Sunday post takes place at Dragon*Con, so today’s motto is: “Do not meddle in the affairs of dragons, for you are crunchy and taste good with ketchup”.   I’ve probably picked up some signed copies of too many books in the Hucksters’ Room by now. And added way too many t-shirts to my t-shirt collection. (I’ve got to weed some of the ones I really can’t wear…one of these centuries)

And as happy as I am to be at Dragon*Con, there a part of me that’s sad not to be at WorldCon this weekend in Chicago. We would have managed, somehow, if it hadn’t required a TARDIS. <sniff>

This is Labor Day weekend here in the States. The last three-day holiday weekend that a lot of people get until Thanksgiving.  That’s what makes it the end of summer.

Before we forge ahead to Fall, or even to the upcoming week, there’s one big giveaway from last week that you still have plenty of time to get in on.

If you love small-town romance, take a look at Susan Wigg’s Return to Willow Lake. I reviewed it on Thursday (I’m afraid I waxed really eloquent), and Susan is offering a giveaway of one print copy of the book. So if you like her work, here’s a great chance for a free book. (US only this time, sorry.)

Coming up this week, I’ve got one review/interview combo this Thursday, too. Kerry Adrienne will be here on September 6 to talk about the first two books in her All Mine series under the Decadent Press 1Night Stand series, Druid, Mine and Senator, Mine. (Not US Senators, Senators in Ancient Rome, much yummier) Mixing the 1Night Stand concept with time travel, yes time travel, turns out to be pretty cool. Both books were a LOT of fun.

Don’t worry, I’ll have plenty of other books to talk about this week. I’m in the middle of Laurie R. King’s new Sherlock Holmes/Mary Russell book, Garment of Shadows. (No, I can’t resist Sherlock Holmes, apparently ever).

And looking ahead to next week, I’ll be hosting visits from Lia Davis, to talk about her paranormal entry in the 1Night Stand series, Ravished Before Sunrise.

I’ll also have a special treat, because it’s science fiction romance. I have an interview with Heather Long to get the scoop on her new superhero/time-travel/science fiction romance story, Yesterday’s Heroes. Even better, it’s the first book in a series, so there are more for me to look forward to.

So what are you reading to welcome Fall?

Interview with Author Susan Wiggs + Giveaway

It is with very great pleasure that I welcome Susan Wiggs to Reading Reality today. She is here to celebrate the release of her new book, Return to Willow Lake. It is indeed a return: this is her first visit back to her bestselling Lakeshore Chronicles series in two years. Susan’s fans have really been waiting for this one.  Now that I’ve made my own trip to Susan’s beautiful creation in the Catskills, I completely understand what the fuss is about. Return to Willow Lake is terrific! (Check out my review for details)

But let’s hear it from Susan…

Marlene: Hello, Susan! Please tell us a little bit about yourself. Who is Susan Wiggs when she isn’t writing? 

SW: Like my readers, I wear lots of hats–wife, mother, daughter, sister, friend. When I’m not writing, I’m thinking about writing or feeling guilty about not writing…but I try to stay balanced. You might find me on a paddleboard in the Sound in front of my house, or hiking with husband & dogs, fixing dinner for my sweet old parents, or traveling the world.

Marlene: And now for the fun stuff. I want to hear how kickboxing mixes with butter sculpting? Or maybe it doesn’t?

SW: It would make quite a mess! I do a lot of different things, but not simultaneously!

Marlene: Who first introduced you to the love of reading?

SW: My mom. She also transcribed the stories I dictated to her when I was a tot.

Marlene: Who influenced your decision to become a writer?

SW: All the amazing, wonderful books I read and lived inside as I was growing up. I couldn’t imagine a better calling in life than telling stories.

Marlene: What book do you recommend everyone should read, and why?

SW: I don’t do that. Reading taste is such an individual thing. One person’s favorite book is another person’s snoozer. When I read and love a book, I like telling people about it. I do it all the time on my Facebook page:

Marlene: What was the writing road like from Kathleen Woodiwiss’ Shanna (I remember that one well) to Willow Lake?

SW: Long! I discovered Shanna while in college, sold my first book in 1986 and the first Lakeshore book was published in 2006.

Marlene: Who is your favorite fictional character who loves books? And why?

SW: Belle, in Disney’s Beauty & the Beast. I don’t know if she was a booklover in the original fairy tale, but she brought the sexy back to books!

Marlene: Now, if you would, introduce us to Sonnet Romano and Zach Alger, the characters in Return to Willow Lake.

SW: Sonnet is a wildly successful, driven career girl with a fabulous life in the city. Zach is a hometown boy with big dreams. They knew each other…once upon a time. They had a little too much fun at Daisy Bellamy’s wedding. Now they’re having to figure out where to go from there.

Marlene: Do you plan everything, or do you just let the story flow?

SW: I plan everything AND let the story flow. Sometimes I stick to the plan and other times, the story wanders away from me. I can never predict. Sonnet and Zach took me completely by surprise when I got into their heads and started writing their story.

Marlene: Speaking of plans, what projects do you have planned for the future?

SW: A new series, starting with The Apple Orchard in 2013. And more Lakeshore books. I just can’t seem to stop!

Marlene: Morning person or night owl?

SW: Both. I get up early and stay up late. Life is just too much fun to spend sleeping.

Life is too much fun to spend sleeping. Mmm…that sounds like something Sonnet might say.


As part of her blog tour, Susan Wiggs has generously offered one print copy of Return to Willow Lake to one lucky participant. (US only)
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Review: Return to Willow Lake by Susan Wiggs

Return to Willow Lake by Susan Wiggs is a small-town romance that’s not really about the romance. And that’s a very, very good thing. It’s a story about listening to your heart, and finding the path you were meant to be on. Because only when you know who you are and what you want are you ready to love someone else.

Sonnet Romano comes back to Willow Lake, in this ninth book of Susan Wiggs’ Lakeshore Chronicles, for her step-sister Daisy’s wedding. The setting is idyllic. Camp Kioga is a beautiful location, an old summer camp on the lake shore, near the small Catskills town of Avalon where Sonnet grew up.

A place that Sonnet couldn’t wait to leave.

But Daisy’s wedding reminds her of just what she’s given up for her high-powered career as a project director at UNESCO; time with her mother and step-father, time with friends, time to unwind, time to just be herself.

A few precious hours when she doesn’t have to watch everything she says and does for what her biological father, candidate-for-the-Senate General Laurence Jeffries, might think. A man who has only been interested in her since she won a scholarship at a pretigious university and looked like she might be a credit to him after all.

Sonnet is his one mistake. The product of a youthful indiscretion while he was attending West Point and her mother was still underage. But now that he’s a candidate, his campaign is trying to “manage” Sonnet’s existence. They have to; her father’s campaign manager is her boyfriend.

But at Daisy’s wedding Sonnet’s perfect plan for her future starts to slip. Sonnet’s best friend, the person who has always been there for her, is Zach Algers. They were both outsiders in the little community of Avalon. Sonnet because she was not only bi-racial, but because her mom was a young, single mother in a community of two-parent families. And Zach, first because his mom died, so they both were being raised by single parents, but then because his dad embezzled town funds and was spending time in jail for the crime.

Misfits together growing up.

At the wedding, Sonnet discovered something new about Zach. He hadn’t just grown up into his late high school growth spurt, he’d…changed. Zach Alger was the hottest man that Sonnet Romano had ever seen. Way better than her supposedly perfect boyfriend.

And it wasn’t supposed to be like that. Not with Zach. Not with her best friend. Not tipsy, after the wedding, alone on somebody’s boat out in the middle of the lake. Zach wasn’t supposed to be the best she’d ever had. Or thought she ever would.

Because sex with Zach took away their ease with each other. Ruined their friendship.

And then Sonnet had to hear just about the scariest thing a woman can ever hear from her mother. Her mother had breast cancer. And she was pregnant. Which meant that certain forms of treatment were off the table, because they’d harm the baby.

Sonnet threw her perfect life out the window, and came back to Willow Lake, to Avalon. Her plans didn’t matter anymore. The only thing that mattered was being there for her mom, after all the years that her mother had worked two jobs and more just to keep them together. After all the years that it had been just the two of them, before her mom had finally found her own what they hoped would be happily ever after. Until cancer came calling.

Sonnet thought that she was giving up a lot to come home and be with her mother, but that any, absolutely any sacrifice she made would be worth it. What she found out was that she wasn’t sacrificing anything that she shouldn’t have jettisoned a long time ago.

And that sometimes you have to travel far away to appreciate what was right in front of your eyes all along.

Escape Rating A-: Even though this is the latest book in the Lakeshore Chronicles, I’ll confess that I haven’t read the rest of the series, and I didn’t feel left out. A reader could step right in at this point and have enough info to know what’s going on. This is Sonnet’s story and her history with Zack is all on the BFF side up until now.

This is mostly the story of Sonnet waking up and smelling the coffee, so to speak, rather than the love story. Sonnet isn’t ready for a love story for most of the book. She needs to grow up and figure out what she wants. She’s just not ready. She’s a good person, but she’s being manipulated, a lot, by her sperm-donor father.

The parts of the story that really shine are the ones that deal with Nina’s (Sonnet’s mom) cancer treatment, and the hopelessness that the family goes through. And, on a more upbeat note, the job that Sonnet takes in Avalon to work on a reality TV show about a hip-hop star doing her community service at Camp Kioga with a bunch of inner-city kids. Jezebel, the diva of the show, was both hilarious and insightful.

What I didn’t quite get was some of Orlando’s (the campaign boyfriend) motivations for his ultimate betrayal. Sperm-donor dad I understood. I didn’t like him (I doubt the reader is supposed to) but I understood him. Orlando, not so much.

Avalon is a terrific place and I want to go back.

The Sunday Post AKA What’s On My (Mostly Virtual) Nightstand? 8-26-12

It’s the unofficial last gasp of summer, because next Monday is Labor Day. School is already in session so many places.

In Atlanta, next weekend in Dragon*Con. In Chicago, next weekend is Worldcon. Science fiction has not moved nearly fast enough. I really need either a TARDIS, or a transporter.

And if that weren’t enough, the Decatur Book Festival is going on at the exact same time. A street festival full of books! Right here in the Atlanta burbs. It was pretty darn awesome last year. We might nip out of Dragon*Con for a bit…maybe…it’s possible.

But there’s a whole week, a whole week, between now and that wonderful, marvelous 3-day Labor Day weekend. What’s coming up on the bookish front at Reading Reality?

Monday, Ebook Review Central, of course. Carina Press is up this week, and they had some fantastic titles in this batch. One book, one single book, attracted (ahem) over 40 reviews. Maybe it’s one you’ll want to read? Check in and see!

On Tuesday Marie Treanor will be stopping by to talk about her latest book, Serafina and the Silent Vampire. This is a terrific start to her new urban fantasy series, Serafina’s, about the psychic and occasional con artist, Serafina, who runs into just a bit more than she bargained for in the vampire Blair.

Thursday I’ll be interviewing Susan Wiggs about the latest book in her Lakeshore Chronicles series, Return to Willow Lake. I’ll also be reviewing this new contemporary romance, which is due out this week.

And last but not least, as we’re all waiting for the weekend…on Saturday, September 1…Reading Reality will be part of the Romance at Random Labor Day Blog Hop!

Looking ahead to after Labor Day (when it will unofficially be Fall but will still be hot in Atlanta)…I have a book I’ve been looking forward to for quite a while on my calendar.

If you’re pining for the next season of Sherlock, and you want to try a different version of Holmes, might I suggest Laurie R. King? Her interpretation starts with The Beekeeper’s Apprentice. The latest book in her Sherlock Holmes/Mary Russell series, Garment of Shadows, will be published on September 4. I’ve had a review copy for a while, but I’ve been caught in the “so many books, so little time conundrum”.

I’ll make time.

What are you up to this week? And do you have any special bookish plans for the long Labor Day weekend?

The Sunday Post AKA What’s On My (Mostly Virtual) Nightstand? 8-19-12

It’s so hard to believe that we’re sliding down towards the end of summer, isn’t it? But we really are.

High temperatures in Atlanta seemed to have finally dropped out of the 90s. Only down into the high 80s, mind you, but out of the 90s. It’s some kind of progress. Less beastly. I love winters in the South, but the summers are probably a foretaste of Hell. (I reviewed one of Eve LanglaisHell books this week, I loved it, but her Hell sounds like the U.S. Deep South for climate)

It’s good to be home. The cats missed us. They’ve mostly forgiven us for leaving them. (If you are owned by cats, you know exactly what I mean!)


So what’s happening at Reading Reality this week? Let’s get out the old calendar (actually Google calendar) and take a look…


After Monday’s Ebook Review Central feature, which is the June multi-publisher post, this week we have…drumroll please…

Tuesday I’ll be reviewing Only Scandal Will Do by Jenna Jaxon as part of a tour from Sizzling PR. Only Scandal Will Do is a terrific historical romance romp which starts with the absolutely opposite of a “meet cute”. The heroine gets sold to the hero at an auction in a whorehouse! This shouldn’t end well, and it doesn’t in the beginning, but of course it does in the end!


Wednesday is for The Memory of Roses. That’s not a commemorative, it’s a book by Blaire McDowell. Ms. McDowell also wrote Delighting In Your Company, a ghost/historical romance that I found, well, absolutely delightful when I reviewed it in June. So I couldn’t resist The Memory of Roses when it popped up on this Bewitching Books Tour.


Thursday I’ll be interviewing Gwyn Cready, the author of Timeless Desire. Since I’ve already reviewed Timeless Desire, I’ll be very interested to see what she has to say. The book was very good, a kind of Outlander-lite. And that feels right to me, after all, the subtitle is “An Outlander Love Story”.


Speaking of cats (well, we were a few paragraphs ago)…on Friday, I’ll have a guest post from Jacqueline M. Battisti, the author of The Guardian of Bastet as part of a tour from Bewitching. I’ll also be reviewing the book. I couldn’t resist. Bastet is the cat goddess.

And that all makes for one busy week!

But looking ahead to the next week, there’s one big event already on the calendar. Susan Wiggs’ will be here for an interview on Thursday, August 30 to celebrate her new book, Return to Willow Lake. And I’ll be doing a review. Naturally.

And then, and then, and then…it will be Labor Day. And Dragon*Con. Where did the summer go again?