Dec 032016
 

 

2017 READING CHALLENGES


One month and counting!! The kickoff is right around the corner. Are you joining any challenges? If so, which ones? You can see the ones I will be participating in here. Hope you will join the fun!

I just signed up for:

2017 LITERARY ESCAPES CHALLENGE

I used to participant in a challenge like this at Book Journey but she didn’t host it this year so I did it on my own. Just using the books I read for review so far I have traveled to 43 States and 8 Countries Abroad. Several of my maps can be found here. The 2016 map is here. I also have a list on my blog of Books by State. I am a little behind updating those pages but hope to get caught up before this year ends.

Challenge – Try to read 1 book set in each of the 50 states + the District of Columbia. (51 Points). If you complete the challenge you earn 50 Bonus Points. You also can earn Bonus Points for books set in Counties around the world. 1 Bonus Point for each country. (No repeats – only 1 point can be earned for each country.)

Your books can be fiction or non-fiction and can be in any format, print, digital, audio.

So how do you decide what state a book is categorized under?
1. In a fiction read it would be the State or Country that the book spends the most time in. (Ie. If your main character is from Wisconsin but the book is all about his/her time in college in California – the books should categorize under California….)

2. Non fiction reads categorize in whatever State or Country it is about (Ie…. a book about fly fishing in Colorado is a Colorado point, and a book about women in Afghanistan is an Afghanistan point.

3. If the book goes from one state to another… go with the state that most of the time is spent.

Bloggers please grab the graphic above and post about this challenge on your blog.

To sign up just fill out this form.

I have found people like to share and communicate about the challenge and their progress so I have set up a Facebook Group for that purpose.

2017 Literary Escapes Facebook Group

At the end of the year (before January 15, 2018) just fill out this form.
Prizes will be announced as we get closer to 2018.

Bruce at The Bookshelf Gargoyle
If running around like a headless chook trying to find your next read isn’t really your style, then why not try the Wild Goose Chase Reading Challenge 2017? This is a category-based challenge and is designed to be fun, frivolous and filled with feathers.

Well, maybe not that last one.

Read on for the basics and to sign up using the linky!

* The Challenge will run from January 1st to December 31, 2017.

* Challengees must read at least one book from each category (listed below). Challengees must read a DIFFERENT book for each category – even if your book title might fit a number of categories, it will only count towards a single category. Challengees are free to choose which category best suits.

* Books selected can be from any genre and aimed at any age group. Picture books, anthologies, nonfiction, graphic novels and audiobooks are all okay to include.

* The categories listed are a loose guide and creative interpretation of the categories is not only encouraged, but applauded.

* Challengees should link their reviews/progress under the relevant linky lists on this page. If you don’t have a blog, you could link to your Goodreads shelf/reviews, or simply comment on this page as you go.

*Feel free to display the challenge button (html for which is in the sidebar) and share about the challenge wherever you like!

1. A book with a word of phrase relating to wildness in the title – any interpretation of the word “wild” is acceptable (eg: The Call of the Wild, Angry Aztecs, Crazy for You; An Untamed State)
2. A book with a species of bird (or the word “bird”) in the title: (eg: The Adventures of Robin Hood, The Thorn Birds, Turkey: A Modern History)
3. A book with an exotic or far-flung location in the title – fantasy and mythical locations are acceptable (eg: Paradise Lost, The Bad-Ass Librarians of Timbuktu, Atlantis Rising)
4. A book with an object you might hunt for in the title (eg: Treasure Island, One for the Money, The History of Love, Dreams from my Father, A Monster Calls, All the Answers)
5. A book with a synonym for chase in the title (or its derivatives: chasing, chased, etc) (eg: We’re Going on a Bear Hunt, The Girl Who Chased the Moon, Follow the River, Man’s Search for Meaning, The Night Stalker)
6. A book with a means of transport in the title (eg: If I Built a Car, Walk Two Moons, The Girl on the Train)
7. A book with an object you might take on a search or hunt in the title (eg: The Golden Compass, The Map to Everywhere, Water for Elephants, Team of Rivals )

Hosted by Books, Movies, Reviews! Oh My!
2017 New Release Challenge Sign Up
I can’t believe it’s already time for sign-ups!! 🙂
The 2017 New Release Challenge is a year-long challenge in which we aim to read books released in 2017. I am lucky enough to have an awesome co-host for the New Release Challenge, Lexxie @ Unconventional Book Views is here to share both the fun and the burden 😉 She is really the brains of the challenge. 🙂 There will be monthly update posts, and each quarter – the end of March, end of June, end of September and in December, there will be a giveaway with the update as well.
So I did pretty good this year with reading almost 70 new releases, this year I really want to try and concentrate on books I already have but I know I will get a few of those new releases no matter what I say…lol. So I am going to sign up for the New Release Pro.
If you need some help with what books are coming out check out Lexxie’s post as she is on the ball and has a goodreads page set up with some listed already!! 🙂
The rules for the 2017 New Release Challenge are simple:

Books have to be released and reviewed in 2017.
Other challenges can be used as well, if you are participating in the Netgalley / Edelweiss challenge or in the COYER challenge, books can count towards more than one challenge, as long as the ones you use for the 2017 New Release Reading Challenge qualify to the other rules.
The minimum length for a book to qualify is 100 pages, it can be in any format though, physical, e-book, ARC or audiobook.
The New Book Release Challenge is open from January 1st through December 31st 2017, and sign-ups are open until February 15th 2017.
You don’t have to be a blogger to participate, you can link to your review on Goodreads or Booklikes instead – so don’t be shy!
There are five levels in the New Release Challenge:

1-30 books per year – New Release Newbie
31-60 books per year – New Release Pro
61-100 books per year – New Release Veteran
101-200 books per year – New Release Enthusiast
200+ books per year – New Release Obsessed

2017 MONTHLY KEYWORD READING CHALLENGE

Hosted by Claudia at My Soul Called Life

Welcome to the 5th Annual Monthly Keyword Reading Challenge!
How does this challenge work?

For this challenge, I have chosen six keywords associated with each month in 2017. Your task is to read one book each month whose title includes one or more of the keywords for that month. Simple right?

Challenge Guidelines
  • This challenge will run from January 1, 2017 – December 31, 2017
  • You can join anytime before December 31, 2017
  • Books must be read and reviewed in 2017
  • You don’t have to be a book blogger to participate! You can track your progress on Goodreads, Shelfari, Booklikes, etc.
  • The book title you choose can be a variation on one of the keywords. Meaning, you can tweak the keywords. For example, your title could include the word ‘snowing’ or ‘snowflake’ even though the key word is ‘snow.’ Further, if the key word is ‘family‘ then your title could include the word ‘sister’ or ‘mother.’ It’s similar to the word game Word Association.
  • Link up below to participate linking your post, Goodreads shelf, Shelfari, Booklies, etc.
  • Lastly, have fun! This challenge is simply for the pure satisfaction of reading so please don’t worry if you have to skip a month or if you have to read your books out of order!


Here Are Your 2017 Keywords
JAN- Court, Fall, Of, Way, Deep, Thousand
FEB- And, Rose, Promise, Every, Deception, Blazing
MAR- Shall, Go, By, Silence, Her, Saga
APR- From, Trigger, Tale, His, Crown, Mist
MAY- Four, Wind, All, Fury, Days, Shade
JUN- Without, Know, Good, Watch, One, Have
JUL- Before, Final, All, Freedom, Life, Dream
AUG- Sun, Infinite, Big, My, Wherever, Most
SEP- Sand, From, Between, Ever, Reasons, Clash
OCT- Darker, You, Ashes, Out, House, Sea
NOV- Place, War, Heart, Why, Give, Meet
DEC- Forget, Twilight, Only, Crystal, On, Will

Nov 302016
 

Escape Velocity

by Susan Wolfe

on Tour November 1 – December 31, 2016

Synopsis:

Escape Velocity by Susan Wolfe

When does the Con become the Artist?

Georgia Griffin has just arrived in Silicon Valley from Piney, Arkansas on very bald tires, having firmly rejected her beloved father’s life as a con artist. Her father is in jail and a certain minister is hugging her mother for Jesus while eyeing Georgia’s little sister, Katie-Ann. Georgia desperately needs to keep her new job as paralegal for Lumina Software so she can provide a California haven for her sister before it’s too late.

While she’s still living in her car, Georgia realizes that incompetence and self-dealing have a death grip on her new company. She decides to adapt her extensive con artist training—just once—to clean up the company. But success is seductive. Soon Georgia is an avid paralegal by day and a masterful con artist by night, using increasingly bold gambits designed to salvage Lumina Software. Then she steps into the shadow of a real crime and must decide: Will she risk her job, the roof over her sister’s head, and perhaps her very soul?

MY REVIEW

4 stars

This author was “new to me”, but after reading the synopsis, I knew I had to read this title.

The book starts with a Prologue of 2 men discussing the past and mentioning each other’s name. One has done time, for a crime they were both involved with many years ago and now feels, that since the other person has done well in life, that he is owed in terms of monies. However, this meeting ends badly with one of them being murdered.

Chapter One, we meet Georgia Griffin, a very intuitive paralegal interviewing for a major company, Lumina Software. She needs this job since she is now responsible for her younger sister. Georgia has to go legitimate, after working in the family business running cons on “easy marks” after her father is incarcerated.

She learns quickly and becomes an asset to the company. However, there are some occasions and incidents where she feels a little con job will only help her position and some of her co-workers.

As I continued reading, I could not figure out what the Prologue had to do with the story, since those names mentioned in the Prologue, were never mentioned again. Until……..

And then it all comes together. She realizes that she is not the only one who knows how to run a con, and now she is in the middle of a con that has been going on for 30 years and another murder may happen, if she doesn’t stop it.

ESCAPE VELOCITY is a very entertaining read!

Book Details:

Genre: Thriller / Suspense
Published by: Steelkilt Press
Publication Date: October 4th 2016
Number of Pages: 432
ISBN: 0997211717 (ISBN13: 9780997211719)
Purchase Links: Amazon 🔗, Barnes & Noble 🔗, & Goodreads 🔗

Read an excerpt:

Georgia followed the bouncing ponytail into a silent conference room with an immense black table. She perched on the edge of a fancy leather chair, quietly sniffed the air, and followed the scent to a tray of food on a side table: rows of colorful ripe fruit, cheerful little pots of yogurt, a tray of meat and cheese alongside glistening rolls. They hadn’t mentioned it would be a lunch interview. She’d have to pace herself and not look greedy. Her empty stomach contracted in anticipation as she politely declined the offer of coffee.

“He’ll be with you in a moment,” the woman said. “Oh, sorry, let me get this out of here.”

She scooped up the food and carried it from the room, leaving only a scent of pineapple hovering in the air.

Well. Good riddance. The last thing Georgia needed was to get all gorged and sleepy right before an interview.

And this could be the interview. This could be the interview that landed the job that allowed her to bring Katie-Ann to California until her father got out of prison. Too bad her resume was sort of bare, but the economy was finally picking up and she only needed one solid foothold. It didn’t matter how many jobs she hadn’t gotten. What mattered was the one she did get, and this could be that one. So what if it had been more than three weeks since her last interview? That just meant she should make this one count.

As she moved her forearm slowly across the mahogany, she could see her pale skin reflected off the glistening finish. Sure was quiet in here. You couldn’t hear anything of the big company that was supposedly operating at breakneck speed just outside the walls. Fast-paced was what they called themselves. Self-starter is what she was supposed to be. Well, she was a self-starter. How else had she gotten here? All the way from Piney, Arkansas, to Silicon Valley on bald tires, a million miles from the sound of Mama’s sniffling, the acrid smell of her bright pink nail polish.

Georgia wasn’t wearing any makeup at all. The woman with the bobbing ponytail had on perfect makeup that made her skin look like a baby’s butt. Which was great if you also knew how to avoid making yourself a magnet for perverts, but Georgia hoped she could hold her own around here without makeup. Tall and lanky and fast-moving, like a colt, her father said. (He should know, he’d boarded enough of them.) She wasn’t an athlete, exactly, but definitely a runner. Dark pinstripe
pantsuit from the Now and Again shop up in Palo Alto, scratchy at the back of her neck. Blueberry-colored eyes against pale, freckled skin, shiny black hair in a blunt bob as even as her dull scissors could chew through it. A smile so wide it sometimes startled people, seemed to give the fleeting impression she was unhinged. Careful with the smile. Enthusiastic, but not alarming.

The guy coming to interview her was late. She could have peed after all. This big San Jose industrial park was confusing, with boxy cement buildings that all looked exactly alike. Set back from the street behind gigantic parking lots full of glinting cars so it was impossible to see any street numbers, making it clear they couldn’t care less whether a newcomer found her way. She’d ended up having to run in her heels just to get to the lobby on time.

Could she get to the john now? She squeezed her shoulder blades tightly and stretched the back of her neck away from the scratchy suit coat. The silence was making her jumpy. She left her resume on the polished table and opened the door just enough to look out.

The woman with the ponytail was nowhere to be seen. In fact, Georgia couldn’t see a living soul. She took a couple of tentative steps into the hall. What if the interviewer showed up before she got back? Screw it. With a last look around the vacant executive area, she darted down the hallway.
The hall opened abruptly into an area crammed with battle-gray, fabric cubicles that created a maze the size of a football field. Had she wandered into a different company? The only thing the two areas had in common was that here, too, it was quiet. People must really be concentrating. Either that, or they’d had a bomb scare and nobody had bothered to tell her.

She was relieved to see a bald head appear above the fabric wall a few cubes down like a Jurassic Park dinosaur. (Now, that was quite an image. Did she feel that out of place around here?) She heard a printer spitting out copies somewhere in the distance as she headed toward the dinosaur, rounded a corner and stopped cold.

An unattended donut was resting on the work surface just inside one of the cubes. Barely even inside the cube, less than a foot away, almost as if it had been set down and forgotten by some passerby.

The plate slapped down in a hurry, its edge sticking out precariously beyond the edge of the work surface. Yesterday’s donut, perhaps, abandoned, stale.

But no, the donut was still puffy and golden, with minuscule cracks in that shiny sugar glaze. A donut still wafting the faintest scent of the fat it had been fried in. She could almost feel her lips touching the tender surface as her teeth . . .

Had she whimpered out loud? She glanced both ways along the still-deserted hall and then returned her gaze to the donut resting on its lightly grease-stained white paper plate. Pretending to wonder if the cube was occupied, she leaned her head in and called a faint “hello?” resting her hand lightly on the work surface, a finger touching the paper plate. Staring straight ahead, she floated her fingers across the surface and up, until her palm was hovering just above the donut’s sticky surface. One quick grab . . .

“May I help you?” intoned a male voice.

Georgia snatched her hand back like the donut was a rattlesnake.

She turned and found herself face to face with the Jurassic Park dinosaur, who was looking distinctly human and downright suspicious. He looked past her and surveyed the vacant cube before resting his skeptical gaze on her most winsome smile.

“Oh, hi!” she said brightly. “I’m here for an interview, and I was hoping you could point me toward the restroom?”

“And you thought it might be in here?”

“Well no, but I thought a person . . .”

“Follow me, please.”

She heard her Arkansas twang vibrating the air between them as he led her down the hall a few yards, pointed a stern finger and said, “In there.” He crossed his arms, and she felt the heat of his disapproving gaze on her back as she pushed through the heavy door into the privacy on the other side.

Now, that was just downright mortifying. Caught in the act of stealing a donut? A donut?? If he told somebody . . . She cupped her palm over her closed eyes and dragged it slowly down until it covered her mouth.

Of course, she hadn’t actually taken the donut, so what precisely had the guy seen? A woman standing at the edge of an empty cube, leaning her head in politely to look for someone. He probably hadn’t noticed the donut, and even if he had he’d never imagine how desperately she wanted it. He’d probably had steak and gravy for breakfast, and thought a hungry person in Silicon Valley was as rare as a Jurassic Park dinosaur. If anything, he probably thought she was casing the empty cube for something valuable. Which was ridiculous, because what could a cube contain that was as valuable as a job?

But if he thought it was true, he might be waiting for her just outside the door with a security guard, planning to march her out of the building and away from this rare and essential person who could actually give her a job. Busted because of a donut.

The face that looked back from the mirror above the sink was staring at a firing squad as Georgia held her icy hands under the hot water.

But then the stare turned defiant.

She hadn’t driven all the way from Arkansas to live in her car and get this job interview just to become distracted at the critical moment by some prissy, no-account donut police. Who did he think he was? It wasn’t even his donut, and anyway, he wasn’t doing the hiring. Her only task at this moment was to deliver the interview of a lifetime and get this job.

She squared her shoulders, practiced her smile in the mirror two or three times and strode with her head erect back along the deserted corridor to the interview room.

The man who entered the conference room five minutes later had the stiff-backed posture and shorn hair of a military man. He was well over six feet tall, lean, in his late forties, wearing neatly rolled blue chambray shirtsleeves and a bright yellow bow tie. As he shook her hand and sat opposite her, she saw that his stubble of hair was red and his eyes were a muted green. Fellow Irishman, maybe. Could she forge some connection from that?

“I’m Ken Madigan, the General Counsel here. Are you Georgia Griffin?”

“Yes, sir, I am.” She offered her carefully calibrated, not-alarming smile.

“Appreciate you coming in today. Sorry to keep you waiting.” He tapped a green folder with her name on the tab. “I’ve read your resume, so I won’t ask you to repeat it. As you know, we have a key job to fill after quite a hiring freeze. Let’s start with what’s important to you in your next job.”

“Well, sir, I just got my paralegal certificate, and I’m looking for the opportunity to put my learning and judgment to use. I intend to prove that I can make a real difference to my company, and then I’d like to advance.”

His smile was encouraging. “Advance to what?”

This was a variant of the ‘five years’ question, and she answered confidently. “In five years I’d still like to be in the legal department, but I want to have learned everything there is to know about the other parts of the company, too. My goal is to become, well, indispensable.”

“Is anything else important?” Those gray-green eyes were watching her with mild interest. She decided to take a chance and expose a tiny bit of her peculiar background to personalize this interview.

“Well, sir, I’m eager to get started, because I need to make enough money to get my baby sister here just as soon as I can make a place for her.”

His raised his eyebrows slightly. “And how old is she?”

“Fifteen, sir, and needing a better future than the one she’s got. I need to move pretty fast on that one.”

“I see. Now tell me about your work experience.” Which was where these interviews generally died. She shoved her cold hands between her thighs and the chair.

“I don’t have a lot of glamorous experience, sir. I cleaned houses and worked as a waitress at the WhistleStop to get myself through school. And the whole time I was growing up I helped my father look after the horses he was boarding. In fact, he got so busy with his second job for a while that I just took over the horses myself. Horses are expensive, delicate animals, and things can go wrong in a heartbeat. With me in charge, our horses did fine.”

“Okay, great.” He ran his palm over his stubble of hair, considering. “Now tell me what kind of people you like to work with.” Not one follow-up question about her experience. Did he think there was nothing worth talking about? Just focus on the question.

“The main thing is I want to work with smart people who like to do things right the first time. And people who just, you know, have common sense.”

“I see. And what kind of people bug you?” This interviewer wasn’t talking much, which made it hard to tell what impression she was making. A bead of sweat trickled between her shoulder blades.

“Well, I don’t much like hypocrites.” Which unfortunately eliminated about half the human race, but she wouldn’t mention that. He waited. “And I don’t like people who can’t or won’t do their jobs.” She stopped there, in spite of his continued silence. No need to mention pedophiles, or that nasty prison guard who’d backed her against the wall on the catwalk. That probably wasn’t what Ken Madigan had in mind.

“Thank you.” He tapped his pen on her resume. “Now I’d like you to describe yourself with three adjectives.”

Was this guy jerking her chain? He didn’t much look like he’d jerk anybody’s chain, but what did adjectives have to do with job qualifications? Maybe he was politely passing the time because he’d already decided not to hire her.

“Well,” she said, glancing into the corner, “I guess I would say I’m effective. Quick at sizing up a situation.” She paused. “And then I’m trying to decide between ‘inventive’ and ‘tough.’”

“Okay, I’ll give you both. Inventive and tough. Tell me about a time you were quick at sizing up a situation.” This didn’t feel like the other interviews she’d done. Not only were the questions weird, but he seemed to be listening to her so closely. She couldn’t recall ever being listened to quite like this.

To her astonishment she said exactly what came into her head. “Well, like this one. I can already tell that you’re a kind person who cares about the people who work for you. I think you’re pretty smart, and you listen with a capital L. You might have a problem standing up to people who aren’t as smart or above board as you are, though. That could be holding you back some.”

Ken Madigan’s eyebrows were suddenly up near his hairline. Why on earth was she spilling her insights about him to him? Too many weeks of isolation? Was it hunger? She should have taken that coffee after all, if only to dump plenty of sugar in it. Or was it something about him, that earnest-looking bow tie maybe, that made her idiotically want to be understood? Whatever it was, she’d blown the interview. Good thing she wasn’t the sort of weakling who cried.

So move it along and get out of there. She dropped her forehead into her hand. “God, I can’t believe I just said all that. You probably don’t have any flaws at all, sir, and if you do it isn’t my place to notice them. I guess I need another adjective.”

“Which would be . . . ?”

“Blunt.”

He lowered one eyebrow slightly. “Let’s say ‘forthright.’ And I won’t need an example.”

“You know what, though?” There was nothing left to lose, really, and she was curious. “I’m not this ‘forthright’ with everybody. A lot of people must just talk to you.”

“They do,” he acknowledged with a single nod, his eyebrows resuming their natural location. “It’s an accident of birth. But they usually don’t say anything this interesting.” He sounded amused. Could she salvage this?

“Well, I’m completely embarrassed I got so personal.”

“You shouldn’t be. I’m impressed with your insight.”

“Really? Then maybe you see what I mean about being quick.”

He laughed. “I believe I do.”

“I mean, I can be quick about other things, too. Quick to see a problem starting up. Sometimes quick to see what’ll solve it. Like when my father had to go away and I saw we’d have to sell the stable to pay the taxes . . .” Blah blah blah, there she went again. She resisted clapping her hand over her mouth. Was she trying to lose this job?

The woman with the bouncy ponytail stuck her head in. “I’m so sorry, but Roy would like to see you in his office right away. And your next appointment is already downstairs.” She handed him another green folder. The tab said ‘Sarah Millchamp.’ “I’m going to lunch, but I’ll have Maggie go down for her in ten minutes. She’ll be in here whenever you’re ready.”

“Thanks, Nikki,” he said, turning back to Georgia. “Unfortunately, it looks like our time’s about up. Do you have a question for me before we stop?”

Sixty seconds left to make an impression. “I saw your stock’s been going up. Do you think it’s going up for the right reasons?”

There went his eyebrows again, and this time his mouth seemed to be restraining a smile. “Not entirely, no, as a matter of fact.”

“I’m sorry to hear that. Do you have an opinion about improvements that would make your growth more sustainable?”

He allowed his smile to expand. “I have many opinions, and a small amount of real insight. Might be difficult to discuss right now . . .”

She held a hand up. “Oh, I understand. But do you think a paralegal could help make a difference?”
“A solid paralegal could make a big difference.”

“I’d like to know more about the issues, sir, but they’re probably confidential, and anyway, I know you have to leave.” She leaned forward, preparing to stand up.

“You’re a surprising person, Ms. Griffin, and an interesting one. I’ve enjoyed our conversation.”
Like he enjoyed a circus freak, probably. She made her smile humble. “Thank you.”

“If it’s all right with you, I’d like to have somebody from Human Resources give you a call in the next day or two.”

Was he serious? “That would be fine.”

“If we decide to work together, could you start pretty quickly?”

The goal now was to leave without saying anything else stupid. “I’m sure I can meet your requirements.”

As he walked her out to the elevator he lowered his voice. “You know, Ms. Griffin, you’re an intuitive person, and you might have some insights about the Human Resources people you’re about to meet . . .”

She held up her palm. “Don’t worry, sir. If I do, I’ll keep my mouth shut.”

“Excellent. Great talking to you. Drive safely, now,” he called as the elevator door closed between them.

Thank God that interview was finished. In another five minutes she’d have told him anything, she’d have told him about Robbie. Drive safely? What a cornball. But she must have said something right. He gave her that tip about getting past the Human Resources people, which meant he must like her. Landing a first job with her resume was like trying to freeze fire, but this time at least she had a chance.

Her stomach cramped with hunger as she emerged into the lobby and saw a woman in her mid-thirties glancing through a magazine. Tailored suit, precision-cut blond hair, leather case laid neatly across her lap. Completely professional, and she had ten years’ experience on Georgia at least. No. No way. Georgia walked briskly over to the woman and stood between her and the receptionist.

“Ms. Millchamp?” she said quietly, extending her hand.

The woman stood up and smiled. “Sarah Millchamp. Nice to meet you. I know I’m early.”

“I’m Misty. So sorry to tell you this, but Mr. Madigan’s been called out of town unexpectedly. He’s headed for the airport now.”

“Oh!” The poised Ms. Millchamp quickly regained her composure. “That’s too bad. But of course I understand.”

“Thank you for being so understanding. This literally happened ten minutes ago, and I’m completely flustered. I know he wants to meet you. Are you parked out here? At least let me walk you to your car.”

She put a sisterly hand against Ms. Millchamp’s elbow and began steering her toward the exit. “Tell you what, can I call you to reschedule as soon as Mr. Madigan gets back? Maybe you two can have lunch. Just don’t take that job at Google in the meantime.”

“Google?”

“Now, don’t pretend you haven’t heard about the job at Google. In Brad Dormond’s department? They’re our worst nightmare when it comes to competing for good people.” The air in the parking lot mingled the spicy scent of eucalyptus with the smell of rancid engine grease, and her stomach lurched. “So, see over there? That’s the entrance to the freeway. Bye now. I’ll call you soon.”

Georgia waved as Sarah Millchamp backed her car out. Then she hurried back inside to the receptionist.

“Hi,” she said. “That lady, Ms. Millchamp? She just let me know she has a migraine and will call to reschedule. Will you let Maggie know?”

The receptionist nodded and picked up her phone. “That’s too bad.”

“Isn’t it, though?”

Done and dusted, as Gramma Griffin would say.

She still might not get the job, of course, she reminded herself as she pulled onto the freeway, nibbling a half-eaten dinner roll she’d squirreled away in the crack between her passenger seat cushions the night before. She’d gotten this far once before. And she didn’t have to get it. She had another dozen resumes out, and one of those might still lead to something. Her cousin at Apple had turned out to be more useless than a well dug in a river, but that didn’t mean she was desperate. If she continued sleeping in her car most nights her money could last for another five weeks. And Lumina Software might not be a great job, anyway. Ken Madigan probably just interviewed well. That’s probably all it was.

Author Bio:

Susan WolfeSusan Wolfe is a lawyer with a B.A. from the University of Chicago and a law degree from Stanford University. After four years of practicing law full time, she bailed out and wrote the best-selling novel, The Last Billable Hour, which won the Edgar Award for Best First Novel. She returned to law for another sixteen years, first as a criminal defense attorney and then as an in-house lawyer for Silicon Valley high-tech companies. Born and raised in San Bernardino, California, she now lives in Palo Alto, California, with her husband, Ralph DeVoe. Her new novel, Escape Velocity, will be published in October of 2016.

Q&A with Susan Wolfe

Welcome!

Do you draw from personal experiences and/or current events?
Both of my books are firmly grounded in my career as a Silicon Valley lawyer. I want my readers to experience the inner workings of a Silicon Valley law firm (in The Last Billable Hour, my Edgar Award winning mystery) and then the inner workings of a high-tech corporation (in Escape Velocity, my new Silicon Valley thriller.) This includes the politics, the banter, the in-fighting, and even the speech patterns of the different characters, along with some authentic crises the organizations might face. I hope I convey a powerful sense of place, because I don’t think the books could be set anywhere else.

Do you start with the conclusion and plot in reverse or start from the beginning and see where the story line brings you?
I seem to start with an atmosphere/environment and a point of view about that environment. Then I conceive a main character to guide the reader through the story, and then I write the first chapters until I can hear the main character’s internal voice. I can’t make any progress with the plot until I’ve done those things.

By the time I have the character’s internal voice, I already have certain vivid scenes in mind. At that point I get a pad of giant graph paper (my husband is a physicist, so we have this stuff lying around) make a post-it note for each must-have scene, and position it on the graph paper more or less where I imagine it will be. I also have some idea of how the story will end up, meaning I know whether my main character(s) are going to succeed or fail in their quest(s) and how I expect the character to change (or not change) by the end of the story.

Then I go to work on the plot. I start with the last chapter, think about what needs to happen to get the characters there, and then conceive a scene that will lead to that last chapter. Then I do the same with the next-to-last chapter and continue backwards until I feel I have an outline of the whole story. The plot is the spine of the book, from which I will hang these post-it scenes that make the characters bump up against each other in ways that reveal who they are.

Plotting is the hardest part of my planning process. Once I can see this whole cause-and-effect spine of the story, I can get down to business drafting the actual chapters.

Are any of your characters based on you or people that you know?
I think convincing characters are always “based on” the author herself or people she knows, because the author consults her personal beliefs about human nature to determine how her character will behave in a given situation. For example, in the opening scene of Escape Velocity, Georgia Griffin tricks a competitor in order to land a job she desperately needs. That doesn’t mean I would personally behave that way, or even that I know somebody who actually behaved that way. Part of the fun of writing (and reading) is having characters do things I might want to do, and can imagine doing, but wouldn’t actually do myself.

So is Georgia “based on” me or other people I know? Yes, because she issues from my own impulses and desires and beliefs about human nature. But then I transform her with my imagination.

One note: In the short time Georgia, has been out in public, I have had two different acquaintances recount doing something very similar to what Georgia does in that opening chapter. I love that. It tells me I my beliefs about human nature were on track!

Your routine when writing? Any idiosyncrasies?
I have a pretty specific writing routine which I love.

I get up at 5:30, then “commute” four blocks to Peets Coffee at 5:50 or so, then return home and go straight into my writing room, which is my converted free-standing garage. This is how I signal my transition from home to work, and I suppose it could be considered an idiosyncrasy. I commuted every day for thirty-odd years and it did signal the transition, so I’ve just kept it up.

I try to start writing by 6:15 and do three 90-minute sessions each morning. (Some flexibility if I’m in the middle of a great scene.) On my two breaks between sessions I go for a jog, do a 20-minute meditation, eat and shower. Then I’m done for the day at 12:45 or 1. In the afternoons I try to be sure to see at least one friend to balance the solitude of writing, and then do everything else that needs to get done just to live my life: errands, reading, planning social events, hanging out with my two cats.

Tell us why we should read this book
From the early feedback I’ve gotten, people appreciate this book for several different reasons: 1) They like my quirky main character, Georgia Griffin, and want to find out if she’ll succeed or fail; 2) They love to see some extremely annoying people they’ve had to put up with at work get their just deserts; 3) They like learning what it’s like to work in a Silicon Valley high tech company; and/or 4) they think it is “wickedly hilarious” as one of my reviewers so kindly said. I do think the book operates on several levels, and hope readers can enjoy all these aspects of the book at once.

Who are some of your favorite authors?
My favorite living authors:

Hilary Mantel (the Thomas Cromwell Wolf Hall trilogy, or it will be a trilogy if we ever get that third book!)

Donna Tartt (The Goldfinch is one of my great reads of all time)

Ian McEwan (best ever author of literary creepy!)

Haruki Murakami (What’s not to love about Colonel Sanders come to life and talking cats?)

Tana French (I own every book in hardback because my daughter and I must read them immediately)

For my favorite authors of all time I would add:

William Faulkner (Thomas Sutpen of Absalom! Absalom! is to me one the great characters in all of literature)

Herman Melville (Love the whale!)

Jane Austen (Emma particularly)

Gustave Flaubert (I always root for Emma Bovary and hope it will come out differently)

Virginia Woolf (She made me determined to be a writer.)

What are you reading now?
I am now and for the foreseeable future reading the 1100-page Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace. (My book group is fearless!) He might get added to my favorite authors, but I won’t know until I finish.

My next books will be: Tana French’s new book The Trespasser (my daughter is already ahead of me on this one); Ian McEwan’s new book Nutshell; and Memento Mori by Muriel Spark.

Are you working on your next novel? Can you tell us a little about it?
My next novel is set in San Bernardino, California. San Bernardino was a working-class town when I grew up in it, and is now the second poorest large city in the country (after Detroit.)

The story begins when my protagonist is at the vet for a routine visit with his cat. A woman brings in a cat that has been badly mistreated and then races out the door before anybody can ask her about it. The terror in the woman’s eyes triggers memories from the protagonist’s childhood, and he is convinced the person who hurt the cat is an imminent danger to people as well. He decides to right an old wrong by finding the wrongdoer before it’s too late.

He manages to enlist the (somewhat skeptical) help of an animal control person and a forensics person in his unorthodox effort, because both of them have strong personal reasons for becoming involved. We now have four people (including the wrongdoer) who all badly want to succeed with conflicting goals in a race against the clock.

Your novel will be a movie. Who would you cast?
Fun to think about!

Saoirse Ronan or Nina Arianda for Georgia

Kyle Chandler or Matt Damon for Ken Madigan

Alec Baldwin or John Hurd or Timothy Spall for CEO

Anna Gunn or Tilda Swinton for HR person

Favorite leisure activity/hobby?
Theater! I’m heading to NYC in a few days to see four plays and an opera in a week. Favorite plays ever: Sweeny Todd, Amadeus, Doubt, Book of Mormon, Hamilton, Henry IV, Parts 1 and 2 in the same day.

Favorite meal?
My favorite meal is from Trattoria Garga in Florence:

Bruschetta with Oven-roasted tomatoes

Pasta Magnifico (thin fettuccine with citrus zest)

Giant very rare Florentine steak

Chocolate tart

If you and a friend share the pasta and steak you will still have plenty. And if I had to keep it simple, I could make a whole meal of just the chocolate tart. Fun fact: I wrote to the owner, Sharon Gargani, and persuaded her to send me the tart recipe. I now make this tart myself!

Thank you for stopping by CMash Reads

P.S. That Chocolate Tart sounds delicious, but then, anything that has chocolate in it is my downfall. CMR

Catch Up with Susan Wolfe on her Website 🔗, on Twitter 🔗, and on Facebook 🔗!

Tour Participants:

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Join In on the Giveaway!

This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners In Crime Virtual Book Tours for Author Guide and Susan Wolfe. There will be 1 US winner of one (1) $50 Amazon.com giftcard AND 5 US winners of one (1) eBook copy of Escape Velocity by Susan Wolfe. The giveaway begins on October 31st and runs through January 7th, 2017.

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REVIEW DISCLAIMER
This blog was founded on the premise to write honest reviews, to the best of my ability, no matter who from, where from and/or how the book was obtained, and will continue to do so, even if it is through PICT or PBP.
DISCLAIMER
I received a copy of this book, at no charge to me, in exchange for my honest review.
No items that I receive are ever sold…they are kept by me, or given to family and/or friends.

ADDENDUM

I do not have any affiliation with Amazon.com or Barnes & Noble.  I am an IndieBound affiliate.  I am providing link(s) solely for visitors that may be interested in purchasing this Book/EBook.
Nov 292016
 


Providence Book Promotions Presents

Unexpected: Short Stories from Around the World

by P. F Citizen One

Unexpected: Short Stories from Around the World by P. F Citizen One

Unexpected is a collection of true life short stories inspired by the author’s travels around the world and the people he has met. The book features seven thought-provoking, humorous and engaging stories that end with the most unlikely twist.

In one of the stories, The Wedding Contract, the author tells the story of a man who was forced to sign a pre-nuptial agreement simply because his wife was wealthy and he was considered poor. As time went on, fortunes changed and the man became far wealthier than his wife. His wife and friends dreaded the worst from him because of his new financial position but what he did next was shocking.

Book Details

Genre: Anthology, Short Stories
Published by: BookBaby
Publication Date: October 7th 2016
Number of Pages: 23
ISBN: 1483577856 (ISBN13: 9781483577852)
Purchase Links: Amazon 🔗 Barnes & Noble 🔗 Goodreads 🔗

Excerpt:

Julie’s parents were concerned. Julie was a single child from a pretty wealthy family with many properties and stores. So, her parents, her family, and her friends convinced her to protect herself by writing a prenup agreement. Should they get divorced, Julie would keep all her family’s belongings. All her entourage pressured her so much that Julie finally arrived at the idea that it was necessary to sign a prenup.

Jean-Pierre didn’t accept it at first, but in the end, he had no choice: Was it worth losing the woman he considered to be his soulmate?

Jean-Pierre and Julie finally got married and had two gorgeous daughters. But Jean-Pierre was still a little bit sad. After all, if they insisted on a contract, it was because her family didn’t completely trust him.

Jean-Pierre had been writing for a few years, and he had written many books. He was also working as a French teacher to get some additional revenue. However, he decided to stop writing to become a full-time teacher and contribute more to the family expenses.

He threw himself into his work as a teacher. One day, as Julie was watching television, she saw that the press was looking for the anonymous author of three books. From their description of the writing, she immediately recognized her husband’s style. After he was identified as the author of these books, he was given royalties for the book sales.

Jean-Pierre soon became very rich and famous, so much so that Julie (and, indeed, the press) was now waiting for the day when Jean-Pierre would cheat on her. She expected that he would eventually divorce her to marry another girl—probably an actress or a model or simply a younger woman. He was now famous and powerful, far richer than his wife and her entire family.

Rumors of cheating grew more and more persistent. The rumors said that Jean-Pierre would ask for a divorce and that he was getting ready for another wedding.

During a press conference, Jean-Pierre was asked about the rumors. He answered that he would act like a man and not hide anything anymore. In front of everyone, he told his wife:

“Honey, since the very first time I met you, I loved you more than I loved any other woman. Then, we got married and had two wonderful girls. I love them so much Over the years, I always thought about…that prenuptial agreement I had to sign because I was poor. Today, I am very rich… I am sorry, honey, but I am announcing…

Author Bio:

P.F  Citizen  OneP.F. Citizen One is a writer. He works as a petroleum engineer, which requires a lot of traveling to different countries, and he uses the situations and varied people he has come across as an inspiration for his great love of writing. His interest in travel has meant that he has picked up some useful languages along the way, and he is now fluent in English, French, Portuguese, Spanish and German, allowing him to go just about anywhere and still be understood. Most of the time. He lists his great fear as ”being stranded alone on a desert island” and, as a result, he avoids traveling by boat whenever he can.

P.F. Citizen One’s new book, Unexpected, was published on October 7th and is a book of short stories, inspired by his travels throughout the world and the people he has met.

Catch Up With P.F. Citizen One on his Website & on Facebook!

Book Blast Participants:

Stop by these great hosts to learn more & enter to win!


Book Tour Coming Soon!

In February Unexpected: Short Stories from Around the World will be featured in a virtual book tour. Visit the sites below for great features, reviews, and giveaways!


Don’t Miss Out On Your Chance to WIN!

This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners In Crime Virtual Book Tours for P. F Citizen One. There will be 2 US winners of one (1) eBook copy of Unexpected: Short Stories from Around the World by P. F Citizen One. This is subject to change without notification. The giveaway begins on November 20th and runs through December 3rd, 2016.

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Nov 282016
 

Mailbox Monday

Mailbox Monday was created by Marcia of A girl and her books and is now hosted on its own blog.

According to Marcia, “Mailbox Monday is the gathering place for readers to share the books that came into their house last week. Warning: Mailbox Monday can lead to envy, toppling TBR piles and humongous wish lists.
Click on title for synopsis via GoodReads.

Monday: WHAT HAPPENED TO ROSE by Helga Zeiner from Reader’s Legacy/Personal Purchase
Saturday: STOLEN LIVES: A Detective Mystery Series SuperBoxset by James Hunt from Amazon $0.99

Nov 252016
 


2017 READING CHALLENGES

And then there were more….. I am definitely in the Challenge mood!


Hosted by Book Dragon’s Lair

How many pages can you read this year?

This challenge isn’t about how many books you read but rather how many pages. After all, it isn’t fair that I might read 4 titles and another might read 2 titles but we’ve read the same number of pages!

Levels
Bonsai – Read 12,000 pages
Shrub – Read 24,000 pages
Dwarf Peach – Read 36,000 pages
Apple Tree – Read 48,000 pages
Oak – Read 60,000 pages
Douglas Fir – Read 72,000 pages
Sequoia – Read 84,000 pages
Redwood – Read 84,001+ pages


Hosted by Charlie @ The Wormhole

This is the sign-up post for the tenth – yes, tenth! – annual What’s In A Name challenge, originally started by Annie, handed to Beth Fish Reads, and now continued here at The Worm Hole. Bloggers have written up this post in other languages: Italian, Portuguese.
I decided to go back to interpretations for the logo this time, choosing the painting by Henri Pierre Picou.
The basics

The challenge runs from January to December. During this time you choose a book to read from each of the following categories. (Examples of books you could choose are in brackets – translations and other languages most definitely count!):
A number in numbers (84, Charing Cross Road; 12 Years A Slave; 31 Dream Street)
A building (The Old Curiosity Shop; I Capture The Castle; House Of Shadows; The Invisible Library; Jamaica Inn)
A title which has an ‘X’ somewhere in it (The Girl Next Door; The Running Vixen)
A compass direction (North and South; Guardians Of The West; The Shadow In The North; NW)
An item/items of cutlery (The Subtle Knife; Our Spoons Came From Woolworths)
A title in which at least two words share the same first letter – alliteration! (The Great Gatsby; The Luminous Life Of Lilly Aphrodite; Gone Girl; The Cuckoo’s Calling)