Noble Satyr by Lucinda Brant

This is the first time I’ve read a story by Lucinda. I had the pleasure of winning this through a contest.The characters where so lively and entertaining. I was impressed with the character building as well. I don’t read a lot of Georgian novels but I enjoyed this one very much and look forward to reading more of Lucinda’s stories.

I rated this book 3 1/2 stars.

Stephanie

Spare Change by Bette Lee Crosby

This story has two main characters. Olivia Westerly and Ethan Alan Doyle. What wonderful characters they are! Olivia who avoids marriage until later in life-which was unheard of during the early 1900’s-only to become a widow shortly after. Allan with many kept secrets surrounding tragic circumstances. Fate I believe brings them together. I felt such deep emotions and sympathy for them. Only hoping the best for them. Such a beautiful heart warming story. A must read!  I rated this book four stars.

Stephanie   

Interview with Bette Lee Crosby

1. Who or what inspired you to become an author?
My mother, born and raised in the mountains of West Virginia, was not a writer, but, she was a wonderful storyteller. Not realizing that at heart I was my mother’s daughter, I studied art intent upon becoming a graphic designer. My first job was that of a packaging designer, but it was a short-lived career. Faced with an immediate deadline and a blank space where the copy should have been, I began to write. I never looked back, and it didn’t take long for me to realize that my love for words far outweighed any design skills I acquired along the way.      

2. What is your favorite book you have written and why?

 
Although it’s virtually impossible to narrow it down to a single book, I’m fondest of the books written in a Southern voice. Spare Change and The Twelfth Child, a book scheduled to be released this spring, are certainly high on my list. I’m obsessive about the craft of writing and I try to make every book better than the last one—so I hope that what will one day be my favorite has yet to be written. I think writers tend to favor the books that reflect the most poignant aspects of their life. For me, it’s my Southern heritage and I hear bits and pieces of my mother’s voice in all of my Southern stories.

3. Please tell us a little bit about your new book Spare Change.
Yikes, this is tough to do without letting some spoilers slip through…but what I can do is give you the opening lines of a review from the Seattle Post Intelligence—“Spare Change is a quirky mix of Southern flair, serious thoughts about important things in life, madcap adventures of a young boy and a late change of heart that made all the difference in the life of an unusually independent woman. More than anything, it is a heartwarming book, which is simultaneously intriguing and just plain fun.”


4. In Spare Change who was you favorite character and least favorite to write about?

The story starts with Olivia and she was the character my mind first created; I love her independence and off-the-wall way of rationalizing what she wants to believe, however, Ethan Allen stole my heart. I fell in love with his resilience and determination, and I grew to love him more with every page I wrote. I loved discovering that beneath his tough exterior he was a frightened child trying very hard to be brave. Ethan Allen is one character that I just can’t let go of, whereas other characters from other books have moved aside to make room for newcomers.


5. What is your next book project?

Two novels are already in the publishing pipeline, The Twelfth Child will be released this Spring and What Matters Most in the Winter of 2012/2013.  But for several months I have been struggling to find the next story I want to write, then I suddenly realized Ethan Allen was the reason I couldn’t move on. Now I’m certain of what I want to write; it is a sequel to Spare Change. A grown-up Ethan Allen is the protagonist and the story revolves around him. I can’t say more without blurting out a spoiler that might ruin Spare Change for those who haven’t yet read it. 

6. What is your favorite quote?
It probably depends upon when and where you ask me. I would love to be deep and profound like so many brilliant writers, but I’ve learned over the years that I am still my mother’s daughter – sometimes irreverent, always a story-lover, but seldom brilliant. So here is the quote that most closely reflects my own thinking…The problem with people who have no vices is that generally you can be pretty sure they’re going to have some pretty annoying virtues.” Elizabeth Taylor

7. What advice would you give to an aspiring author?
Be yourself. Discover what’s in your heart and create characters you love or love to hate. Never allow yourself to follow in the tracks of another author simply because he or she sold a million copies of their book. If you stumble onto that pathway, your readers will know; your characters will sound shallow and superficial. But if you’re true to yourself and work to develop your own voice it will ring loud and true with believability. It isn’t something that happens overnight. I wrote four novels before the fifth was published, but the truth is that the first four didn’t deserve to be published, they were all part of my learning curve. So, stay with it and learn from the writers who inspire you, from the books you love, and from the books you hate. You learn something from every book you read, and sometimes that something is what not to do.  Most of all enjoy every minute you spend writing—because if you’re not writing for fun, you shouldn’t be writing.

Bio:

Award-winning novelist Bette Lee Crosby brings the wit and wisdom of her Southern Mama to works of fiction—the result is a delightful blend of humor, mystery and romance along with a cast of quirky charters who will steal your heart away.

Born in Detroit and raised in a plethora of states scattered across the South and Northeast, Crosby originally studied art and began her career as a packaging designer. When asked to write a few lines of copy for the back of a pantyhose package, she discovered a love for words that was irrepressible. After years of writing for business, she turned to works of fiction and never looked back. “Storytelling is in my blood,” Crosby laughingly admits, “My mom was not a writer, but she was a captivating storyteller, so I find myself using bits and pieces of her voice in most everything I write.”

Crosby’s work was first recognized in 2006 when she received The National League of American Pen Women Award for a then unpublished manuscript. Since then, she has gone on to win several more awards, including a second NLAPW award, three Royal Palm Literary Awards, the FPA President’s Book Award Gold Medal and most recently three 2011 Reader’s View Awards, in categories of General Fiction, Southeast Fiction and Best Contemporary Drama.

Her published works to date are: Girl Child (2007), Cracks in the Sidewalk (2009), Spare Change (2011), and Life in the Land of IS…the story of Lani Deauville, the world’s longest living quadriplegic (2012).  The Twelfth Child is scheduled for release in the spring of 2012.
Thank you Bette for this delightful interview!
Stephanie

Giveaway: Remarkable Creatures by Tracy Chevalier

Author Tracy Chevalier is one of my all time favorite HF Authors. She is a New York Times bestselling author. Two lucky winners will receive a hardback copy of this wonderful story, Remarkable Creatures. The contest ends on April 15th and the winners will be announced on April 16th.

Giveaway information:

1. Must live in the US

2. Please leave a comment with your name and email address below in the comment area to enter the giveaway.

3. 5 points if you follow my blog @ Network Blogs
(If you are already a follower of Layered Pages you will automatically receive the bonus point.)

4. 2 points if you guess my favorite book by Tracy Chevalier

5. 2 points if you read and leave a comment on one of the author interviews on Layered Pages.

6. The winners will be announced on Layered Pages and by via email.

Best of luck!

Stephanie

Interview with Author Sophie Perinot

1. Who or what inspired you to become an author?

My sister gave me a shove in the direction of becoming a writer.  So, if you love my book thank her, and if you don’t, you know who to blame.  I was a lawyer at the time.  I’d wanted to be one since I was a little girl.  It was my dream job but it was turning out to be not-so-dreamy.  I knew I wanted to do something new, but deciding what to be when you grow up when you are already grown up is an angst filled business.  I don’t do angst without my sister (much as she doubtless wishes I would).  So I was on the phone with her using her as an unpaid career counselor/therapist when she said, “I know you are making up a story right now in your head.  Whatever that story is pick up your dictaphone and start saying it out loud.”  I was leaving on a family beach vacation, but I took my dictaphone along and followed my sister’s orders.  The result was my first completed manuscript.

2. What inspired you to write about Queen Marguerite of France?

I first encountered Marguerite while researching a different project.  I was reading about Notre Dame de Paris.  She and Louis jointly presented the church’s last and smallest door—the Porte Rouge—and if you look up, you can see Marguerite’s kneeling image carved over that charming door.  Anyway, in the pages of a history of Notre Dame I discovered all four remarkable daughters of Raymond Berenger, Count of Provence.  I wondered how such women, with their powerful Savoyard connections and politically significant marriages, could have slipped through the fingers of history.  The fact they had aggravated me.  So I started a file folder with their names on it, vowing to come back and tell their story.  The Sister Queens is the result of that vow.

3. Who is your least favorite character you wrote about in The Sister Queens?

King Louis IX of France.  I suspect some readers will be surprised that I don’t say Blanche of Castile.  She was certainly a harridan, and very unkind to Marguerite but as they say, “hatred isn’t the opposite of love, indifference is.”  Blanche hated Marguerite because Blanche feared Marguerite.  The Queen Mother wanted to retain her power over her beloved son.  Her motivation, while certainly not laudable, is understandable.  Louis’s indifference to and neglect of his wife seemed more sinister—at least to me.  There was no reason for him not to embrace and value his queen.  She was a lovely and educated woman with many fine qualities.  More than this, her family could have been a real asset to him.  But Louis was weak.  He couldn’t put mommy aside.  And he was also a religious zealot and used his piety as an excuse from some very unchristian behavior. 

4. What is your next book project?

Having tackled the relationship between sisters, I am working on a novel driven by the mother-daughter dynamic.  It is set in the 16th century, which is one of my all-time favorite periods in French history.  My main character is Marguerite de Valois, sister to three kings of France (Francis II, Charles IX, Henri III) and wife of a fourth (Henri IV).  Here is the tagline I am using to focus my writing:  “The mother-daughter relationship is fraught with peril—particularly when your mother is Catherine de Médicis.”

5. What is your favorite quote?

I have a quote or quip for every occasion.  Sometimes I mangle them so badly their original author would weep.  But there is a sub-genre of quotes that relate to the guiding principals of my life.  These are the ones that I bludgeon my children with.

1) Mr. Knightly on duty (which is no longer a popular virtue but is certainly high on my list):

There is one thing. . . which a man can always do, if he chooses, and that is, his duty” 

Jane Austen’s Emma. 

2) On love

Mr. Shakespeare:

 “. . . Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove:
O no! it is an ever-fixed mark
That looks on tempests and is never shaken;”

From Sonnet 116

And Mr. Munsch:

 I’ll love you forever, I’ll like you for always, as long as I’m living my baby you’ll be.”

Love You Forever

3) Mr. Somebody (doubtless centuries ago) on the living up to promises:

“A man’s word is his bond.”

6. What advice would you give to an aspiring author?

To aspiring authors generally I would say it’s not enough to hone your craft you have to learn the business (unless you are writing solely for your own satisfaction).  That way when the happy day arrives and you have an agent and a book contract, the facts of life (e.g. authors need to be involved in marketing and promotion) or simple definitions (do you know what it means to “earn out”) won’t stop you in your tracks.

To historical writers specifically I would say respect history but don’t be smothered by it.  When I read a work of historical fiction I want accurate historical detail yes, but I need a compelling story.  Any academic historian will tell you that history is fluid—interpretations change and even the “facts” as we know them aren’t set in stone.  New information and artifacts are discovered.  Old theories and artifact identifications are discredited.  As a writer, you get to make choices based on evidence.  If you change something that is currently accepted as “fact,” please mention that in your author’s note.  But if you have conflicting sources don’t hesitate to choose the facts that support the narrative arch you are trying to build.  This is fiction.

Bio:

Sophie Perinot was the first member of her college graduating class to declare a history major. Following her BA from The College of Wooster, Sophie earned a JD from Northwestern University School of Law. After practicing law for a number of years, her inner-artist could no longer be subdued and reinvention as a writer was in order. Given her life-long passion for history it seemed only natural that Sophie should write historical fiction. As someone who studied French abroad, and a devotee of Alexandre Dumas, French history was a logical starting point.

Sophie’s debut novel, The Sister Queens, weaves the captivating story of medieval sisters, Marguerite and Eleanor of Provence, who became queens of France and England. She is currently working a novel set in Valois France which plumbs the mother-daughter relationship.

When she is not visiting corners of the 13th and 16th centuries, Sophie lives in Great Falls Virginia with her three children, two cats and one husband.

To learn more about Sophie and her work, visit http://www.sophieperinot.com
Thanks you Sophie for giving me the pleasure of this wonderful inerview!
Stephanie

Jocasta: The Mother-Wife of Oedipus by Victoria Grossack

Greek Mythology can be tedious to read at times. However this story of Jocasta was so refreshing and the story line flowed beautifully. I didn’t want the story to end. When I found out from Victoria that there would be a sequel, I was delighted! If you haven’t read about Jocasta then this is the story for you. A must read!
Stephanie

The House at Riverton by Kate Morton

I felt the characters in this story lacked substance and unique personalities that you would see in Kate Morton’s other stories and I felt the characters didn’t really connect with each other. There were several situations that were never fully explained and was left to interpretation and I was disappointed with the conclusion. I felt there was no closure to the story. The ending fell flat.

However, the idea Kate had for the story line was good. I did enjoy reading parts of this book and I thought about the characters for sometime after reading it and thought about how things might have been different for them and the choices they made in their lives. I did like how Kate Morton described some of the scenes. They were written in a way…. I felt I was right there in the story experiencing them for myself. 
I rated this book three stars.

Stephanie

The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseine

          
 I don’t remember a time where I cried so much over a book. I was so outraged in the beginning where Amir would be cruel towards Hassan. When Hassan was so loyal to him and how Amir didn’t protect Hassan from rape. 
Having said that, I felt Amir was a victim of circumstance and a victim of a fathers guilt. I didn’t admire Baba for hiding such a big secret. He should have been honest to Hassan and Amir from the beginning. That was only the right to do. Amir had to over come so much of his fathers mistakes and treatment towards him. But in the end he redeems himself from the mistakes he had made. I was so disturbed when Baba died without telling Amir the truth about his family and what he had kept from everyone.

Hassan was a good boy and grew up still courageous, strong, loyal and never lost his integrity. Even after everything he had gone through.

This was a moving story that will haunt me for a very long time.

I rated this story five stars.
Stephanie