Monday, August 29, 2011
Review copy provided by the publisher, Pocket Star Books.
Wednesday, August 24, 2011
I thought the book was excellent, but also check out the publisher description:
"Spanning three generations and half the world, Wildflower Hill is a sweeping, romantic, and compelling story of two women who share a legacy of secrets, heartbreak, courage, and love.
Emma, a prima ballerina in London, is at a crossroads after an injured knee ruins her career. Forced to rest and take stock of her life, she finds that she’s mistaken fame and achievement for love and fulfillment. Returning home to Australia, she learns of her grandmother Beattie’s death and a strange inheritance: a sheep station in isolated rural Australia. Certain she has been saddled with an irritating burden, Emma prepares to leave for Wildflower Hill to sell the estate.
Beattie also found herself at a crossroads as a young woman, but she was pregnant and unwed. She eventually found success—but only after following an unconventional path that was often dangerous and heartbreaking. Beattie knew the lessons she learned in life would be important to Emma one day, and she wanted to make sure Emma’s heart remained open to love, no matter what life brought. She knew the magic of the Australian wilderness would show Emma the way.
Wildflower Hill is a compelling, atmospheric, and romantic novel about taking risks, starting again, and believing in yourself. It’s about finding out what you really want and discovering that the answer might be not at all what you’d expect."The rules: Enter by leaving a comment to this post with your email (if I can't contact you, you can't win). You can gain additional entries by leaving separate comments letting me know that you're a follower (one extra each for the blog and Twitter) or have posted a link to the giveaway on your site. The deadline to enter is 11:59pm Pacific on September 10. Winners will be selected at random. Since this is from Simon and Schuster the winners must have mailing addresses in the US.
Wildflower Hill is set in both the 1920s and 2009. What research did you do to create the 1920s setting?
Historical research is one of the things I really enjoy about my job. I have learned so much about different time periods for the novels I've written, and the 1920s and 1930s were such interesting eras to write about.
Authors have so much at their fingertips now with the internet as a tool for research. I actually started with images of the clothes. It was really important for me to be able to see the character: not just her face and hair, but her body, how she wore her clothes. The wonderful thing about this period, especially the 1920s, is that the fashions were so wonderful. I would have loved to wear a flapper dress!
Another great way to do historical research is to read first-hand accounts of the time. I found a wonderful published version of a young woman's diary of the time, and so I was able to find all those little details of what people called things, and what their concerns were especially during the Great Depression. The most horrifying revelation for me was that some people were so poor that they made soup from grass. Not only did it give me a bone-achingly clear idea of how desperate times were, it gave me a wonderful image to work within the story.
You’ve published a number of books as Kim Wilkins. What made you decide to write Wildflower Hill as Kimberley Freeman?
Kim Wilkins (which is my birth name) writes fantasy fiction, and some of it quite dark. I wanted to explore this other side of myself, where stories could be uplifting and set in the real world, but I knew if I published them as Kim Wilkins (at least in the Australian market where I am known) they wouldn't meet the right audience. Freeman is my grandmother's maiden name, but Kim Freeman sounded like it might be a man's name. So I changed it to "Kimberley" because it was much more feminine. Something about writing under the other name really inspired me to write in a different way. I really love going into my office and changing into Kimberley Freeman: she's a fun girl!
You list a number of music-related top tens on your website. What music inspires your writing?
It depends on what I'm writing. I like music that has drama and scope in it. At the moment I'm really enjoying Zoe Keating, a fabulous cellist. I also love music that creates a mood, and for that reason I love Hammock. I find it very hard to write with singing on, so it always has to be instrumental.
What book (your own or someone else’s) has had the most impact on your life?
When I was a little girl, I read a book that affected me profoundly. It was Gladys Malvern’s The Dancing Star, first published in 1944, an account of the life of Anna Pavlova, written for children. Like many little girls, I dreamed of being a ballet dancer but it wasn’t the stuff about ballet that affected me so deeply, it was the stuff about work.
According to the book, Anna Pavlova was obsessed with dancing. She practised all the time. She did it until her toes bled and she just. kept. going. This notion, that one could work so hard and push through barriers of extreme discomfort, really took hold of my imagination. From that moment on, I understood the incredible romance of work: diligent hours spent on something that mattered to make an outcome appear in the world. Art is not a divine bolt from above, but the sweet, constant labour of real human beings manifesting things with their feet in the soil. And there is no idea about art more pleasing to me than that.
What’s up next for you?
I am working on a novel, provisionally titled "Isabella's Gift", about a woman who survives a shipwreck off the coast of Australia in 1901. She has many reasons for wanting to run away from her old life, but has trouble making a new life for herself, especially when somebody from the old life comes after her. The historical plot is mirrored in a contemporary plot about a woman who comes to the same small seaside town in 2011, and has to make some difficult decisions of her own in order to reconcile with her estranged sister. I am having such a wonderful time writing it. I should be done in about a month, so very close to the end now.
Review copy provided by the publisher, Touchstone.
Friday, August 19, 2011
No Rest for the Dead brings 26 well-known authors together to concoct a murder mystery with almost as many suspects as the book has authors. With so many authors, the plot could have continuity issues, but the editors bring it all together and insert a few transitional paragraphs between chapters when necessary. There are some shifts in perspective (third-person versus first-person) as the authors change, but those weren’t terribly jarring. The biggest drawback is that most of the action of the plot has already taken place. The murder, the investigation, and the trial have already taken place with only the horrific execution taking place on the page. After that it isn’t until the book is almost over before more action happens at the memorial.
Review copy provided by the publisher, Touchstone.
Thursday, August 18, 2011
Hot, Shot, and Bothered won immediate points with me by depicting KJAY-TV realistically. Unlike so many books/movies/TV shows, this one didn’t glamorize the industry or have characters pulling off miraculous “gets” (and speaking of “gets,” the characters are callously accurate in how they play a game about who the better get is). Instead KJAY has only two microwave trucks and is forced to make a deal with the LA station also covering the fire in order to get use of their satellite truck for live shots. Beyond nailing the TV news portion (which is hugely important to the plot), McFarland also creates compelling characters and an intriguing murder conspiracy with a satisfying conclusion.
Review copy provided by the publisher, Touchstone.
Saturday, August 13, 2011
Wanna Get Lucky? is a murder mystery, but it's a comedy too with Lucky having some great lines like, "Being a porn star is like being a writer--only one talent is needed and nobody cares what you look like." I loved Lucky instantly. Also working in the book's favor is that the numerous subplots (and there are a few) come together nicely and each is well done. Furthermore, each major character is well-developed so there's no "who was that again?" when someone reappears after being absent for a few chapters.
Review copy provided by FSB Associates
Friday, August 12, 2011
Review copy provided by the publisher, FreePress.
Thursday, August 11, 2011
Friday, August 5, 2011
Check out my review here. The publisher description is below:
"Former socialite Tracy Deloche has nothing to her name but five ramshackle beach cottages and the unlikely friendships she's formed with her tenants. Wanda, wise waitress turned popular pie-shop owner. Janya, the young Indian wife whose arranged marriage surprises her every day. Alice, a widow raising her complex tween-age granddaughter. And Maggie, Wanda's daughter, a former Miami cop with a love life as complicated as Tracy's own.
The new man in Tracy's life hasn't mentioned love or commitment— and Tracy has just discovered she's pregnant. Janya longs to be a mother—and suddenly has two young siblings in her care. Maggie helps out at Wanda's Wonderful Pies…but is the kitchen big enough for both Gray women? And Alice may lose her beloved granddaughter to someone no one expected….
As a tropical storm brews, the wind carries surprises and secrets over the bridge to Happiness Key. Now, more than ever, five friends will discover just how much they need one another."
Happiness Key was originally intended as a standalone, yet here's the third in the series, Sunset Bridge. What prompted you to continue to the story?
While the first book did what I intended, which was to establish how possible friendship can be for women with nothing in common--at least on the surface--it also set up characters I wanted to explore even further. So my publisher and I decided three books were in order. The number felt right to me. I could continue threads I'd introduced in Happiness Key, and tie them up by Sunset Bridge.
Some of your books have been turned into films for German television. What's it like to see your characters on the screen? Any plans for English-language versions to be made?
It's a kick, to be honest. They've chosen some of my very first books along with later ones, and it's so much fun to see how the stories are cast, and how the plots are rewritten for the screen. Some are very true to my stories, and some are so different that I almost don't recognize them. But the producers and screenwriters are good at what they do, and nice people to boot. I've had the opportunity to go to New Zealand, where they're all being filmed, to spend time on set, and to Germany to do promotion, so I've gotten to know and appreciate the talent of everyone connected. As for English language versions? One can always hope.
What was your favorite book as a child?
I was a fan of the Oz books, which I read and re-read. But later Little Women and Jane Eyre were huge for me, as well.
What book (your own or someone else's) has had the most impact on your life?
No one book springs to mind. But I've taken some of this and some of that from so many books, including my own. When you're writing a book, you do so much thinking about your story and your characters' growth, that you can't help but be changed.
What's up next for you?
I'm working on a new series for Mira Books, entitled Goddesses Anonymous. It's women's fiction, like Happiness Key, and it stories are interrelated, but each book focuses on only a few characters at a time. It has a different "feel" than the Happiness Key series, but shares a lot with it, too. The series is set in the North Carolina mountains.
Review copy provided by Planned Television Arts.
Thursday, August 4, 2011
Review copy provided by the publisher, HarperTeen.
The basic premise is interesting, but there’s a problem that keeps the intriguing element of Suzanne fighting for her freedom from redeeming Judgment Day in any way. There is a gaping plot hole regarding motivation. Suzanne had no idea why teens were disappearing—she even publicly accused the wrong man—until they started going after her. So why go after Suzanne at all? Dues ex machina.
Another issue I had with Judgment Day was the awkward insert of Christianity which seemed only to have been done to get published by WaterBrook. It otherwise had no bearing on the plot.
Review copy provided by the publisher, WaterBrook Press.