Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Tuesday Intros~ The Firebird by Susanna Kearsley

Every Tuesday Diane @ Bibliophile by the Sea hosts First Chapter, First Paragraph where we share the first paragraph or two of a book we are reading or thinking about reading soon.  Feel free to grab the image and participate.

My Tuesday Intro pick is from The Firebird by Susanna Kearsley I just started this book and it's my first book by Susanna Kearsley. It's hooked me already and I read on the author's website that it's considered "a companion book to The Winter Seaso it looks like I will need to read that soon! 

Here is the first paragraph from the publisher website (click on the link to read more)
He sent his mind in search of me that morning.

I was on the Tube, half a minute out of Holland Park and in

that muzzy not-awake-yet state that always bridged the time between

my breakfast cup of coffee and the one that I’d have shortly at my

desk. I nearly didn’t notice when his thoughts touched mine. It was a

rare thing these days; rarer still that I would let him in, but my own

thoughts were drifting and I knew that his were, too. In fact, from

what I saw of where he was—the angle of the ceiling and the dimly

shadowed walls—I guessed that he was likely still in bed, just waking

up himself.

What do you think? Would you keep on reading 
or move on to something else?

Monday, June 10, 2013

Looking for Me: Q&A with Author Beth Hoffman and Giveaway

Yesterday, I shared my review of Beth Hoffman's newest book Looking For Me. Today, I am thrilled to share a wonderful Q & A with Beth Hoffman below and a giveaway to win a copy of the book, complements of Penguin Books.


1.) After the success of Saving CeeCee Honeycutt, how did you come up with the idea for LOOKING FOR ME?

When I finished touring with CeeCee, I had no idea what I would write. The characters had become so real to me that I felt guilty abandoning them to craft a different story. I especially had a hard time not continuing on with Oletta. For several months I shut down all thoughts about writing.

One day I sat at my desk and began going through stacks of old photographs. The more I sorted, the more I thought about my family and my childhood on the farm—how simple and uncomplicated life was, how much I missed the big old barn and the woodlands that backed up to the fields. I stared out the window and spent a good deal of time reliving those days, and while I was caught up in the nostalgia, something flashed in my periphery. I turned to see a red-tailed hawk land on a tree branch. I watched the morning light glaze across his pale chest, and how, just before he settled, he spread his rusty-red tail feathers to reveal the full spectrum of his regalia. I got a bit teary at the beauty of him, and then …WHAM! I had the beginning of my story.

2.) You always write so beautifully about your novels’ settings, making the reader feel like they’re being transported to another place. With LOOKING FOR ME, did you decide on the location of the novel—Charleston—first, or did that come later? Did you spend a lot of time there?

I write about places I love, places to which I feel a deep connection. I wanted would write about a farm family, and when the character of Teddi took form and she fell in love with the process of antique restoration, I knew Charleston was where she would ultimately end up. I’ve spent a great deal of time in Charleston and feel incredibly comfortable there. In many ways it’s like a second home to me. Plus, with Charleston’s history of antiques shops and gorgeous architecture, it was the ideal juxtaposition to Teddi’s life on the farm.

3.) You write very personally about the novel’s other main setting, the Overman farm in Kentucky. Being a Kentuckian yourself, do you have a strong connection to Red River Gorge?

The Overman farm comes from my roots and my heart. Nothing makes me happier or causes a flood of memories like setting my feet on farmland. I chose the location of Red River Gorge as the backdrop to the farm for many reasons—its mystery and power are palpable, and it’s so stunning that no matter how many times I’m there, I’m always awestruck. Known for its incredible rock formations, dense forests, waterfalls and wildlife, Red River Gorge was the perfect place for the character of Josh to be swept into the romance of the wild. Paleo-Indians thrived there, and it holds a treasure trove of petroglyphs. Every time I ride the gondola up to Natural Bridge and stand on that massive, nine hundred ton sandstone bridge, I feel connected to something far beyond my comprehension. Over 70 million years of changing weather has sculpted Red River Gorge into a place as magical as it is eerie.

4.) LOOKING FOR ME touches on the power of objects—through them we remember our past and face our future—what are some objects that have held meaning for you in your own life? Do you think it’s important to hold onto the things of our past?

By nature I’m a neat-nut and about as opposite to a hoarder as anyone could be, so I’m not inclined to keep things unless they truly have strong meaning to me. I do think it’s wise to keep things that hold memories like family heirlooms, books, photographs and letters, but there’s a fine line between keeping what is precious or sentimental, and overloading my basement and attic with stuff.

5.) The characters in LOOKING FOR ME seem as real as neighbors that live next door—what do you draw on when writing characters? How much do you borrow from real life? Do you model your characters on people you know?

The characters in my novels arrive in my imagination fully realized. Not only do I see them and hear them, but I also get a strong sense of their spirit. While a few characters might have small similarities to people I’ve known, the majority of them have come to me as the story unfolds. More often than not, I meet them just as my readers meet them. It’s a fascinating process.

6.) Birds and feathers play an important role in this story—where did your interest in birds come from, and what do they symbolize in your work?

Nature, animals and birds have enthralled me for all my life. My parents and grandparents had a deep respect for nature and all her creatures, and from a very early age I was taught to be gentle and kind. One of my first memories is of standing in the vegetable garden with my grandma and having her show me how to gently lift a toad and move him out of the way of the strawberry wagon. By the time I was five, I could name nearly every bird that visited our farm, not only by sight, but also by their songs. I viewed birds as beautiful messengers, and as a teen, I loved reading Native American folklore, which is rich with stories about birds and their spirits.

7.) This is your second novel—what advice do you have for writers and novelists just starting out? How did you find your own voice as a novelist?

Captivating storytelling is a gift—good writing is an art. By understanding how to combine those elements, a writer can save themselves from a whole lot of headaches. There are many books that can help a writer hone their talent, but voice comes from a deep place and cannot be discovered without having an inner ear. I say inner ear because writers must hear their voice come alive and rise from the page, and it must always ring true. Being a good listener helps a writer find his/her voice. By tuning our inner ear to catch voice inflections, mood, and the many subtleties of dialect, our own writing voice is strengthened. I believe the best way for a writer to know if they’ve found their unique voice is for them read aloud something they've written. Voice is a complex thing to achieve, but once a writer hears it, they’ll know that they've just captured the most illusive butterfly of all.


Compliments of Penguin Books
(US Addresses ONLY, per publisher request)

To Enter:

Leave a comment with something that you read above from the Q&A with Beth Hoffman that makes you want to read the book and make sure to leave your email address so that I can contact the winner.  If you don't leave your email, I will be unable to contact you and will have to pick another winner.   

ENDS: JUNE 23, 2013 (ET)

Mailbox Monday

Mailbox Monday is a place for readers to share what books came into their house last week and explore great blogs!

(June Host is Dolce Bellezza)

Here is what arrived in my mailbox the past couple of weeks:

A Spear of Summer Grass by Deanna Raybourn from the author for a book tour with France Book Tours 

The Promise of Provence by Patricia Sands ebook from the author for a book tour with France Book Tours 

A Hundred Summers by Beatriz Williams from Putnam/Riverhead Books

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Review: Looking For Me by Beth Hoffman

I have had the honor to meet author Beth Hoffman on both of her book tours. For her first book Saving CeeCee Honeycutt and for her recent book Looking For Me. Not only do I adore Beth's books but I adore Beth as a person. She is authentic, kind and connects to her readers on a level that is very personal. I don't know how she does it all, she's truly an amazing woman!

I saw Beth last week at a local book signing and I posted about it here on my blog. I finished Looking For Me a few days ago. I savored the book and read it slowly not wanting the story to end. For those fans of Saving CeeCee Honeycutt which is full of such heart, I found Looking For Me was a much different story full of heart & soul, bringing a richness and depth that had much meaning. It is a book that will stay with you after you turn the last page.

About Looking For Me from the publisher:
Teddi Overman leaves her hardscrabble Kentucky farm life behind at the age of eighteen, running away in the middle of the night and leaving only a letter for each member of her family. In Charleston, South Carolina, Teddi builds a new life for herself as an antiques dealer with the help of a quirky group of new friends. But each time Teddi, now thirty-six years old, leaves her antiques shop and visits the farm of her youth, she’s drawn to the mysterious beauty of Red River Gorge, where her brother went missing at the age of seventeen. Though long believed to be dead, signs of Josh begin appearing in the woods near the family farm, drawing Teddi back home again.

Looking For Me is the heartfelt story of Teddi's journey from growing up on a Kentucky farm to her professional life in the world of Charleston antique shops and new found friendships and connections.  On the farm, Teddi is surrounded by nature and learns to appreciate the forest, the animals and their unique gifts. Teddi's younger brother Josh has an innate affinity for birds, Red Tailed Hawks and nature. Teddi finds her connection to the stories of cast aside antiques and develops a love and talent in restoring furniture. 

As I read this  book, even from the first chapter, I felt a connection to Teddi. As a character, she exposes her heart and soul, her kindness and compassion that goes beyond her family, her friends and coworkers but even to those innocent souls. She cares deeply and does not give up on finding the truth, whatever that may reveal as to the journey and whereabouts of her brother Josh. I enjoyed learning about nature, the Red River Gorge, birds and their feathers and native american history that was interspersed beautifully throughout the story. I enjoyed learning about antiques and furniture restoration and the process of how a damaged piece of furniture can be transformed. I loved the setting of Charleston, the southern flare and architecture, the people and Teddi's love and care for her grandmother. I loved the quotes and words of wisdom woven through the pages that filled it with such charm. 

Looking For Me is a treasure, pure and simple, it's a novel that will grab your heart and touch your soul. It did that for me and that is why I did not want the book to end. I loved this book, and cannot recommend it highly enough. It's my favorite book that I've read this year and it will definitely be placed alongside Saving CeeCee Honeycutt on my favorites bookshelf! It's a perfect summer must-read book, one that you can sink into while sitting in a favorite chair with a cup of coffee or sweet tea and immerse yourself into a wonderful story! So, grab a copy of this book and enjoy the journey!

I'd like to thank Beth for providing me with an advanced reader copy of Looking For Me. I was thrilled that I was able to get my copy personally autographed by her last week at the book signing. 

Check out a wonderful Q&A with Beth Hoffman and a giveaway for a copy of Looking For Me, compliments of the publisher Penguin Books. GO HERE to enter, or click on the link to the giveaway in the right sidebar, ends June 23, 2013

 © Copyright 2013- All Rights Reserved

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Beth Hoffman Book Signing ~ Looking For Me

Yesterday was a wonderful day! I went to Beth Hoffman's book signing and event for her new book, Looking For Me. It was very special as I met Beth at her last book tour for Saving Cee Cee Honeycutt with fellow blogger, Stacy from Stacy's Book Blog. Stacy and I met up again for Beth's second book tour!

Here are a couple of photos:

Beth signing books before the event

Beth and me

I had a glitch with my camera and we didn't want to tie up the long line of people waiting for their books to be signed so sadly, we did not get a picture this time of Beth, Stacy and me. 

The event was held at a new library (You can read more here and see pictures of this beautiful library). It was special to me as I used to live closer to this library (the older one that this replaced) and have many great memories there. The staff are very friendly and many knew us by name. I was thrilled to see Colleen, who still works at the library and introduced Beth as she loved her first book.

I had hoped to finish Looking For Me before the book signing but life got in the way and I have not finished it yet. I am loving it, it's full of wonderful characters and settings and I will be sharing a review and giveaway here very soon. If you have not read any of Beth's books, please make sure to check out her first book Saving Cee Cee Honeycutt and her newest book Looking For Me

Beth is the sweetest, kindest author that I've ever met. She connects with her readers in many special ways including book blogs as well as on Facebook. Her charm and warmth shine through as she truly cares about connecting with her readers. She is an amazing and inspiring woman. This book is very special to Beth who shared some of her experiences in writing this novel and how dear to her heart it is. If you have the opportunity to meet Beth on her book tour, please do! (Check out her tour schedule here)

 © Copyright 2013- All Rights Reserved