A Review of The Passenger by Lisa Lutz

The Passenger

by Lisa Lutz

I would love to be a member of a book club that read The Passenger because then I could talk to people who have already read it. Right now I feel like I really can’t say much about it, because I might accidentally give something away. Read the book description below for an idea of what the book is about. It doesn’t give anything away.

I really liked the way this book is written. Ms. Lutz keeps us in the dark, while slowly putting little spots of light that gives us hints about where we are, while never illuminating the whole picture. It is kind of like the story of the six blind men and the elephant. Each part of the novel leads you to think that you have it figured out, but you can’t see that it is an elephant. Once you know about the elephant, it changes everything.

The identity changing characters in The Passenger feel alive. You can connect with them. They draw you into things and change your perceptions. You change as you read this book. You may never look at life in the shadows the same. It seems like it could happen to anyone. I hope it doesn’t.

I give The Passenger 4 1/2 Stars out of 5 and a Big Thumbs Up! If you like reading any kind of fiction, you really should give this book a read. You are going to be amazed.

I received a Digital Review Copy from the publisher.

Book Description

the-passenger-lisa-lutzFrom the author of the New York Times bestselling Spellman Files series, Lisa Lutz’s latest blistering thriller is about a woman who creates and sheds new identities as she crisscrosses the country to escape her past: you’ll want to buckle up for the ride!

In case you were wondering, I didn’t do it. I didn’t have anything to do with Frank’s death. I don’t have an alibi, so you’ll have to take my word for it . . . .

Forty-eight hours after leaving her husband’s body at the base of the stairs, Tanya Dubois cashes in her credit cards, dyes her hair brown, demands a new name from a shadowy voice over the phone, and flees town. It’s not the first time.

She meets Blue, a female bartender who recognizes the hunted look in a fugitive’s eyes and offers her a place to stay. With dwindling choices, Tanya-now-Amelia accepts. An uneasy―and dangerous―alliance is born.

It’s almost impossible to live off the grid today, but Amelia-now-Debra and Blue have the courage, the ingenuity, and the desperation, to try. Hopscotching from city to city, Debra especially is chased by a very dark secret . . . can she outrun her past?

With heart-stopping escapes and devious deceptions, The Passenger is an amazing psychological thriller about defining yourself while you pursue your path to survival. One thing is certain: the ride will leave you breathless.

Book Details

Hardcover: 320 pages
Publisher: Simon & Schuster (March 1, 2016)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1451686633
ISBN-13: 978-1451686630
Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.2 x 9 inches
Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces

About the Author

Photo by Morgan Dox
Photo by Morgan Dox

Lisa Lutz is the New York Times bestselling author of nine novels, including the forthcoming thriller, The Passenger (Simon & Schuster, March 2016), How to Start a Fire, six novels in the Spellman books series, and Heads You Lose, co-authored with David Hayward. She is also the author of the children’s book, How to Negotiate Everything, illustrated by Jaime Temairik. Lutz has won the Alex award and has been nominated for the Edgar Award for Best Novel.

Although she attended UC Santa Cruz, UC Irvine, the University of Leeds in England, and San Francisco State University, she still does not have a bachelor’s degree. Lisa spent most of the 1990s hopping through a string of low-paying odd jobs while writing and rewriting the screenplay Plan B, a mob comedy. After the film was made in 2000, she vowed she would never write another screenplay. Lisa lives in the Hudson Valley, New York.

A Review of Gone Again by James Grippando

Gone Again (Jack Swyteck #12)

by James Grippando

Mr. Grippando completes the circle with Gone Again. Jack Swyteck is back where he started in the first book in the series, The Pardon. He is back at the Freedom Institute. He says that he isn’t joining the team, just renting an office, but he gets drawn back into a death row case, when the victim’s mother, Debra Burette, talks to him when everyone else is down at the Florida State Prison. She is convinced that the man who is scheduled to die for her daughter’s rape and murder shouldn’t be executed because she is sure that her daughter, Sashi, is alive.

This is just the beginning of a book that is full of twists and turns. Many of the people in this book have secrets, and just when you think that you have them figured out something else happens to change your mind. As the story progresses, layer after layer of lies are torn away, until you reach the truth, a truth that you never expected, and could not have anticipated.

I like the Jack Swyteck series. I read The Pardon a long time ago, and I’ve read another couple since then. I like the Freedom Institute members. I hope that Jack sticks around there. He is a good fit. You don’t need to read this series in order, since each of the books stand on their own; but once you read Gone Again, you probably will want to read some of the earlier books.

I give Gone Again 4 1/2 Stars out of 5 and a Big Thumbs Up. If you like multilayered legal mysteries, I think you will really like Gone Again.

I received a Digital Review Copy from the publisher.

Book Description

Gone Again by James GrippandoIn this electrifying and fast-paced tale of suspense from the New York Times bestselling author of the acclaimed Cash Landing, Cane & Abe, and Black Horizon, Miami criminal defense lawyer Jack Swyteck takes on his first death-row client since The Pardon in a case as twisty as it is shocking.

Sashi Burgette vanished three years ago on her way to school. The night after the teenager’s disappearance, ex-con Dylan Kyle was stopped for drunk driving. An article of Sashi’s clothing was found in his truck, and a police videotape of his drunken explanation under interrogation sealed his fate at trial. Now, just days from Kyle’s execution, Sashi’s mother visits Jack Swyteck, doing pro bono work at the Freedom Institute, and delivers shocking news: “Sashi called me.”

The police dismiss the call as a cruel hoax. The State Attorney refuses to consider the new evidence, insisting the case is closed. The governor has already signed the death warrant. An innocent man may be executed and time is running out—unless his lawyers can locate Sashi.

A man of principle who believes in justice, Jack jumps into the investigation. But the deeper he digs the more he discovers that nothing is what it appears to be. Not the victim. Not her alleged killer. And definitely not Sashi’s parents, whose grief ruptured their marriage, each openly blaming the other for what happened to their daughter.

As their gut-wrenching and hopelessly conflicting version of events unfolds in a Miami courtroom, it becomes clear there is something even more difficult to find than a long-missing girl . . .

The truth.

Book Details

Series: Jack Swyteck Novel
Hardcover: 400 pages
Publisher: Harper (March 1, 2016)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0062368702
ISBN-13: 978-0062368706
Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.2 x 9 inches
Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds

About the Author

Monica Hopkins photography
Monica Hopkins photography

James Grippando is a New York Times bestselling author of twenty-four novels. He was a trial lawyer for twelve years before the publication of his first novel in 1994 (The Pardon), and now serves as counsel at Boies Schiller & Flexner LLP. He lives in South Florida with his wife, three children, two cats, and a golden retriever named Max who has no idea that he’s a dog.

Spotlight on Searching for Vivian by Babette Hughes

About Babette Hughes

Babette HughesBorn in Cleveland Ohio, Babette Hughes grew up in the time of Prohibition and bootleggers. Her father was one of the first bootleggers in the country, and was murdered by the Mafia in a turf war at the age of 29. Babette was just two at the time.

Writing has allowed her to draw from her unusual life experiences to create her characters and tell their stories (and sometimes cautionary tales) in vivid detail.

Now 93, she writes every day with fluidity and grace.  “The truth is liberating, but sometimes elusive.” She explains. “I’m always looking for it and how to best write about it, and I probably always will.”

About Searching for Vivian

Searching for VivianIn 1966, seventeen year old Vivian Russell disappeared like smoke. The seemingly senseless murder of her parents in their home in Cleveland, Ohio was as unexplainable as her vanishing act in its aftermath. Her younger sister, Emma-traumatized by the horrific event- grows into a capable and relentless investigator who decides to do whatever it takes to find her. Her search takes her through the turbulent sixties- Viet Nam, The Black Panthers, dead ends, and bank jobs. Along the way, she finds herself and, whether she is prepared for it or not, the truth.

Links:

Website: http://www.babettehughesbooks.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/babettehughes/?fref=ts

Find it on Amazon

HuffPost: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/babette-hughes/

SEARCHING FOR VIVIAN

By Babette Hughes

Chapter 1

1966

The Cleveland Press called the murders senseless because the Russells had no known enemies and lord knows there wasn’t much to steal; all they had was a pickup, an old black and white TV with one snowy channel and little else. A detective was quoted in the article speculating that perhaps the killers had gone to the wrong house in some kind of a tragic mistake. But the baffling part was that the murdered couples’ oldest daughter, Vivian, 17, home from school with a cold that day, had vanished like smoke.

But events like that, tragic and bizarre as they are, are soon forgotten, except perhaps when someone passes the house and wonders whatever happened to Vivian Russell. Sometimes someone hints knowingly that the Russells were drug dealers, or fences, or Russian spies. (The more years that transpired the more exotic the theories.) But for the most part people went on about their lives and, of course, as the years passed there were those too young or too new in town to have even heard of the murders or of Vivian’s disappearance.

Even her sister, ten-year-old Emma, seemed to leave it behind. Even from the beginning. Even from the first day when she came home from school on a sunny Tuesday afternoon and found neighbors staring behind yellow police tape. Her parents’ bloody bodies were being carried on gurneys into an ambulance. Her big sister was gone. Struggling with her own grief, her Aunt Eleanor couldn’t understand the child’s stoicism and as the weeks and months passed she worried about her more and more. It isn’t natural, she complained to her husband–it isn’t normal for a ten year old not to cry and carry on, not to grieve. The child acted as if she were just visiting her aunt and uncle as she sometimes did when her parents were alive; as if she hadn’t just lost her mother and father; as if her own sister hadn’t vanished into thin air. Although Thad Fisher was as shocked as anyone else over his in-laws’ murders, the truth is that he never really liked them and was secretly rather pleased to have them out of his life. They were damn hippies as far as he was concerned and it infuriated him the way Ellie ran over there all the time when they were alive. He had no objection to taking Emma in— where could the kid go? She was a quiet, well-behaved ten-year-old, a bit dull for his taste, but a small eater and so quiet you forgot she was around—actually an easy kid for a childless couple past middle age to raise. And she was someone Ellie could chatter to and leave him in peace.

Still, it annoyed him the way the child refused to let Ellie out of her sight, following her from room to room, even coming into their bedroom at night in her white nightgown like an undersized ghost. After he locked their bedroom door she wailed and beat on it until she fell asleep on the floor and Thad carried her into her own bed.

Ellie had eagerly welcomed Emma’s arrival. Like many childless women she envied her friends who had children; she even envied the problems and commotion and mess they complained about. She thought of her sister’s murder and Emma’s sudden arrival as a kind of terrible deal from God; she lost her sister but received the child she had prayed for. Quiet and small, transparent almost, Emma seemed to take up less room than the beautiful big doll Ellie had bought her the day after she arrived, which Emma ignored. So she offered her a puppy and then a kitten, but the child merely shook her head.

She tried to get her to talk about what happened. She tried to get her to ask questions about that terrible day. She wished the girl would grieve so she could comfort her. Or just cry. Something. Anything. But it was as if her family had been mysteriously wiped from Emma’s mind like an eraser on chalkboard leaving the same cloudy, formless residue.

Ellie took Emma to a psychiatrist who specialized in treating traumatized children; a Doctor Isabelle Dryer. She drove her to her office on Fairmount Boulevard twice a week until Dr. Dryer told her that although Emma came dutifully, she simply would not talk about the loss of her family and that after almost six months any further sessions would be a waste of Mrs. Fisher’s money and her time.

Her aunt went to PTA meetings and teacher conferences and Home Room Nights like a mom and bragged to Thad about Emma’s A’s. (Who didn’t seem very impressed at this information; his disapproval of Emma’s parents hung in the air like fog.) Emma always hurried home after school to be with her Aunt Ellie. She liked her quick hugs and jokes; she liked seeing her in the shining, good-smelling kitchen in her high heals and sheer hose that she wore even around the house, even to the super market. (Ellie had beautiful legs the way some heavy-set women do.) She liked the way she sat down with her at the round yellow kitchen table while they talked and ate her freshly baked chocolate chip cookies. Evenings, as Ellie prepared dinner, Emma followed her around the kitchen, putting lids back on jars, returning milk to the refrigerator, wiping the counter, sweeping the floor as the Mixmaster whirled, driving Ellie crazy.

She put up with Emma’s constant presence wondering if the child associated disorder with the blood and violence of her parents’ deaths. The child lived in a state of discipline and order, doing her homework, volunteering to clean blackboards and empty trash at school, cleaning her room, pressing her blouses. Where there were no rules, she made them up as if she had to be this perfect child or she would get lost in the world like Vivian.

Her room was always in perfect order, clothes hung according to type, (school, gym class, dressy for dinners out with her aunt and uncle) color and season; the hangers all uniformly plastic, her shoes lined up by season and color (and later heal height although they didn’t exceeded an inch and a half). She catalogued her aunt’s recipes by soups, appetizers, entrees and desserts, and then alphabetized them within each category. She began to arrange them again by calorie and cholesterol count until her aunt stopped her. She organized and indexed the Fishers’ record collection according to type (classical, jazz, show tunes, operas, soloists.) She arranged books on their shelves not only by fiction, non-fiction and authors, but also by genre’s: mystery, horror, biography, (separated from autobiography) science fiction, politics, literary classics. She even created a section of books made into films. Her aunt and uncle shook their heads at each other and refused to let her into their closets or Thad’s den.

Emma did her best to act like a normal kid so everyone would leave her alone; still she refused to sign up for extra-curricular activities at school, her fantasy life more interesting than any chess club or work on the school paper. In a favorite daydream Uncle Thad died of a mysterious illness leaving her Aunt Ellie all to herself. When the telephone rang she imagined it was Vivian calling to say she was back from a trip to San Francisco or New York. Sometimes it was England. She pretended that her parents were divorced and that one of them would come back for her, or that they sailed to England on the Queen Mary like Patricia in her Social Studies class who stood up and bragged about her parents’ trip. Sometimes she pretended that her parents were both killed in a respectable car crash that wasn’t their fault. Half aware that her daydreams were an excessive and neurotic substitute for reality, they were so sweet and satisfying that if they also made her a bit strange she didn’t mind.

A Review of No Cure for Love by Peter Robinson

No Cure for Love: A Novel

by Peter Robinson

This book was first published in 1995, and is set during that time, so in many was this is sort of a period police procedural. The tech is 25 years old, but that’s OK. The detectives can’t check the traffic cams or try to find someone using their cellphone’s GPS chip, they have to use old-fashioned police work. California has changed a lot in 25 years too, but nothing feels too dated.

Most of us know Peter Robinson as the author of the Inspector Banks series, which are set in northern England, near Yorkshire. The southern California location of No Cure for Love is quite a change for Mr. Robinson, but he pulls it off quite well. It never feels artificial. He gets it right, but he does keep some of his Britishness in his writing. He tones down the gore, and keeps the characters more civilized. His main character, Sarah Broughton, is a British actress  and the lead detective, Arvo Hughes,  isn’t a California native. He grew up in the Detroit area and only had been in LA three years. The minor characters have an LA feel to them, but they really aren’t very developed.

Since this is a stalker type story, it has many things that you have seen before. There are a series of letters written by the stalker. Some of the chapters are the first person thoughts of the stalker. The stalker wants to impress Sarah, so he sets up a scene near her house. That sort of stuff. There are a few twists, but this isn’t a Jeffery Deaver book, by any means.

This was an easy book to read. I enjoyed it. I liked Sarah and Arvo. It could have been a decent start to a series, but was probably more of an experiment for Mr. Robinson. He was sticking his toe into the American book market. It probably didn’t sell well enough to warrant continuing. After all he had DCI Banks. He had published his seventh Banks book in 1994 and No Cure for Love was just a diversion.

I give No Cure for Love 4 Stars out of 5, and a Thumbs Up. If you feel like a mild psychological thriller set in sunny LA, give it a try. This won’t give you nightmares.

I received a Digital Review Copy from the publisher.

Book Description

No Cure for LoveOriginally published in 1995, No Cure for Love is being reissued this year, with an introduction by Michael Connelly. This relentlessly suspenseful thriller from the New York Timesbestselling and Edgar award-winning author of the Inspector Banks novels marks the first time that Peter Robinson has set a novel in America.

Sarah Broughton has come a long way. She’s the star of a hit cop show on TV. She lives in a beautiful California beach house. And—most importantly—she’s put her dark past behind her… as well as her old name, Sally Bolton. No need for anyone to know about that.

When Sarah begins receiving letters mysteriously signed with the letter “M,” she thinks they’re from a harmless admirer… until her real name appears in the third letter. And then she finds that name inscribed in the sand near her home – next to a body.

The message is clear: Someone is watching Sarah’s every move. Someone so obsessed with her that he won’t stop at just one murder in order to prove his love.

Panicked, Sarah turns to Detective Arvo Hughes of the LAPD, a man who specializes in hunting down the most dangerous stalkers. But nothing in Hughes’ experience has prepared him for the mastermind he’s up against. For the killer, there’s no cure for love. And for Sarah and Hughes, there’s no way out.

Book Details

Paperback: 416 pages
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks (February 16, 2016)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0062405101
ISBN-13: 978-0062405104
Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.9 x 8 inches
Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces

About the Author

Photo © Pal Hansen
Photo © Pal Hansen

Peter Robinson is the bestselling author of the Inspector Banks series, two short-story collections, and three standalone novels, which combined have sold more than ten million copies worldwide. Among his many honors and prizes are the Edgar Award, the CWA (UK) Dagger in the Library Award, and Sweden’s Martin Beck Award.

A Review of No Shred of Evidence by Charles Todd

No Shred of Evidence (Inspector Ian Rutledge #18)

by Charles Todd

Why should you read this book?  I’m not sure. I suppose if you have read the previous 17 books in this series, you probably will be ready for number 18. If you are like me, and have never even heard of Inspector Ian Rutledge, you could give this book a shot, if you are a fan of mysteries that are set in Great Britain just after Word War I. Other than that, there really is no compelling reason to read No Shred of Evidence. The story just kind of meanders along, painting a picture of a time long ago, where everything moved more slowly, but some people still wanted to kill other people.

I didn’t really care about any of the characters in this book, so I wasn’t that curious about why anyone would want to kill any of them. The reasons were there and, I guess they were logical, but I found it hard to believe that everything had to be so mysterious. It just seemed strange that everyone had to lie, or tell their own version of the truth. Not very realistic.

I give No Shred of Evidence 3 Stars out of 5, because even though it was well written, it didn’t engage me. I didn’t feel a part of this story. Your experience may be different from mine.

As I was reading this book, I wondered if any of my friends from Great Britain have read any of the books in this series. If you have, let me know if you like this series, and if it strikes an authentic chord with you. Thanks.

I received a Digital Review Copy from the publisher

Book Description

No Shred of Evidence by Charles ToddIn this absorbing new entry in the acclaimed New York Times bestselling series, Scotland Yard’s Ian Rutledge is caught up in a twisted web of vengeance and murder.

On the north coast of Cornwall, an apparent act of mercy is repaid by an arrest for murder. Four young women have been accused of the crime. A shocked father calls in a favor at the Home Office. Scotland Yard is asked to review the case.

However, Inspector Ian Rutledge is not the first Inspector to reach the village. Following in the shoes of a dead man, he is told the case is all but closed. Even as it takes an unexpected personal turn, Rutledge will require all his skill to deal with the incensed families of the accused, the grieving parents of the victim, and local police eager to see these four women sent to the infamous Bodmin Gaol. Then why hasn’t the killing stopped?

With no shred of evidence to clear the accused, Rutledge must plunge deep into the darkest secrets of a wild, beautiful and dangerous place if he is to find a killer who may—or may not—hold the key to their fate.

Book Details

Series: Inspector Ian Rutledge Mysteries (Book 18)
Hardcover: 352 pages
Publisher: William Morrow (February 16, 2016)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0062386182
ISBN-13: 978-0062386182
Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.1 x 9 inches
Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds

About the Authors

Charles-ToddCharles Todd is the author of the Inspector Ian Rutledge mysteries, the Bess Crawford mysteries, and two stand-alone novels. A mother and son writing team, they live on the East Coast.

A Review of Practical Sins for Cold Climates by Shelley Costa

Practical Sins for Cold Climates

by Shelley Costa

I really liked how this book ended. I liked the way the author made Val Cameron grow throughout this book. I think that her stories can be a worthwhile series, but I nearly didn’t find out. I struggled to get though this book. I nearly gave up on it a couple of times. If I had a book that I REALLY wanted to read sitting near the top of my TBR pile, Practical Sins for Cold Climates would have been toast. I started two other books, but neither of them grabbed me, so I dropped back and decided to give it one last shot.

The story started off fine, but seemed to bog down once we actually made it to northern Canada. The various characters were not well enough differentiated, and that, along with some unknown characters doing mysterious things, just confused me. Plus I didn’t really connect with Val Cameron at first. I’m afraid that many people will just give up at that point. I’m glad that I didn’t.

The storyline started to sort itself out somewhere around the midpoint of the book. The characters filled out a bit and I could finally start to enjoy the story. The ending worked very well, and I am looking forward to reading another book in this series. After all, what book lover doesn’t like to read stories where books are one of the principal characters, and the publishing industry plays a major role. That premise was what attracted me to Practical Sins in the first place.

I give Practical Sins for Cold Climates 3 1/2 Stars out of 5, and a Thumbs Up. I really am torn. The ending had such a great feel to it, but I’m afraid that many people will never get there. Just keep ploughing though. It will be worth it.

I received a Digital Review Copy from the publisher.

Book Description

Practical Sins for Cold ClimatesWhen Val Cameron, a Senior Editor with a New York publishing company, is sent to the Canadian Northwoods to sign a reclusive bestselling author to a contract, she soon discovers she is definitely out of her element. Val is convinced she can persuade the author of that blockbuster, The Nebula Covenant, to sign with her, but first she has to find him.

Aided by a float plane pilot whose wife was murdered two years ago in a case gone cold, Val’s hunt for the recluse takes on new meaning: can she clear him of suspicion in that murder before she links her own professional fortunes to the publication of his new book?

When she finds herself thrown into a wilderness lake community where livelihoods collide, Val wonders whether the prospect of running into a bear might be the least of her problems.

Book Details

Paperback: 276 pages
Publisher: Henery Press (January 26, 2016)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 194339041X
ISBN-13: 978-1943390410
Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.6 x 8.5 inches
Shipping Weight: 15 ounces

About the Author

Photo courtesy of Portrait Innovations
Photo courtesy of Portrait Innovations

A 2004 Edgar nominee for Best Short Story, Shelley Costa is the author of You Cannoli Die Once (Agatha nominee for Best First Novel) and Basil Instinct. Practical Sins for Cold Climates (Henery Press, January 2016), is the first book in her exciting new mystery series featuring New York editor Val Cameron, who is sent to the Canadian Northwoods to sign a reclusive best-selling thriller writer. Murder ensues. Shelley’s stories have appeared in Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine, Blood on Their Hands,The World’s Finest Mystery and Crime Stories, and Crimewave (UK). Although she reads across the mystery genre, in her own work she especially likes writing an amateur sleuth with a lot of heart who investigates a murder – it’s so utterly outside the comfort zone. Shelley Costa is on the faculty of the Cleveland Institute of Art, where she teaches fiction writing. http://www.shelleycosta.com.

An Interview with Collette Yvonne, the author of The Perils of Pauline

Collette Yvonne, the author of The Perils of Pauline, was kind enough to agree to an interview. I’m glad that I was able to get to know her a little better. I hope that you enjoy it too. Don’t forget to go to the bottom of the post. There is an excerpt from her book. This will allow you to get a feel for her writing. Thanks again, Collette.

Author Interview

What is your typical writing day like?

Usually I try to carve out a full day for writing. If I have something pressing to do—work, a kid’s dentist appointment, a weedy garden, a sick friend who needs soup— I find it tough to concentrate knowing I will have to break my focus too soon. I find it painful, disorienting and tiring to transition in and out of my creative flow, so I am reluctant to work for short spurts of time. I try to clear my schedule first.

On a writing day, the coffee is poured first thing. Since I tend to be easily distracted I prefer to have the house all to myself. I am lucky enough to have a dedicated writing space of my own so that is where I go to write: in front of my desktop, steaming coffee mug at my elbow. I usually begin with answering email to focus my brain a little before I open my work in progress in Scrivener.

When I’m on a roll, I will work for hours without a break. At some point my dog usually demands a walk. Sometimes I stop to do some yoga stretches or grab a quick bite. I quit for the day when my family rolls in from school and work. My process is unremarkable: no charming boulevard cafés for me. Just butt in chair. All day.

Authors project parts of themselves into their main characters. Does your heroine have any of your qualities?

Yes and no. I always tell my friends and family not to think of The Perils of Pauline as an autobiography but usually people confess that they see me as the main character when they read the book. This is actually a little horrifying as Pauline is a bit wild and out of control. She is impulsive and bold and fearless, which can be a good thing unless you tend to act first and think later, which is what my character tends to do. As the author, I can safely explore impulsive choices and bad behavior when I write Pauline’s story. I can let her take all the risks and face the consequences while I remain safe in my writing chair, laughing at her—or crying with her—when everything falls to pieces and begins to circle the drain.

If you had three words to describe your main character, what would they be?

Impulsive. Irrepressible. Bravehearted.

Would you call your protagonist a truth-seeker or a thrill-seeker?

Contrary to popular impressions, Pauline is a truth-seeker. She is trying to figure things out. She likes a thrill as well as the next girl, but she is in it to win answers.

What themes did you visit in your book?

Relationships. Parenting. Family. Marriage. Adultery. Adult ADHD. Conflict. Love and romance. Separation. Career. Civilian life after active service. Single parenting. Post traumatic stress disorder. Forgiveness. Humor.

How do you find/make time to write?

I have to be disciplined about it. Since I work part time as a yoga instructor and have many outside interests such as volunteering, gardening, photography, reading, visual arts, and gadding about, I need to find ways to keep writing squarely on the agenda. Membership in a writing group helps as the members will chew me up and spit me out if I don’t produce new writing regularly.

How did you come up with the title?

The original The Perils of Pauline was a 1914 American melodrama film serial. The main character, Pauline, is the original damsel in distress who often finds herself hanging from a cliff or tied to a set of train tracks. The 1914 Pauline was smart and resourceful, rather than helpless and needing to be rescued by a man (but there’s a dashing lover on scene willing to lend a hand). I loved the idea of recreating the plucky Pauline and placing her in a modern context. Like many woman today, who find themselves juggling work, marriage and children, the modern Pauline still feels as if she’s hanging by a thread. She faces her challenges with intelligence, courage and sheer force of will plus a large dash of eccentricity. She has to figure out how to save herself. She needs to be smart and fearless. And then of course there’s a dashing lover.

What’s the hardest part about writing? The easiest?

The hardest part is to ignore that mean little voice that says, “You have nothing to offer. You suck.” The easiest part is the comfy chair.

How do you keep your written world from encroaching on your life?

Why would I want to do that?

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

I hope that readers will pick up on the theme of forgiveness. In this age of high divorce rates, it is considered to be normal and acceptable to cut loose from a marriage when everything goes off the rails. Of course, in some cases, filing for a divorce is absolutely necessary but, in other cases, a marriage may be saved with hard work and a very large reset button. Very few novels explore the situation of a couple who make huge mistakes and manage to patch things up, although in real life this happens, probably more often than we realize, given how tough staying in a relationship can be.

Book Description

The Perils of Pauline For ex-army vet Pauline Parril, life marches along in an orderly formation now that she is happily married, raising three kids, and ascending a promising career ladder. But the handles of her safe and comfortable world soon turn upside-down when a termination letter lands on her lap and her husband, it turns out, isn’t the person she thought she knew. Things get even more complicated when Pauline returns to school and meets Michael Fortune—a handsome and exciting poetry professor who threatens to get out of hand. Pauline once endured a long deployment to a war-torn country, but can she survive the front lines of her fraying household?

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About the Author

Collette YvonneCollette Yvonne was born in Portage La Prairie, Manitoba, Canada where her father served as a fighter pilot in the Royal Canadian Air Force. She has many fond memories of growing up as a military brat. Now married with three children, she lives in Ontario where she is a part-time yoga instructor, as well as writing. She also enjoys volunteering in the community. She graduated from Toronto’s York University, majoring in Creative Writing with a minor in the Humanities. In her first year, she toyed with the idea of becoming an anthropologist and also considered being a computer scientist! However, following the opportunity to study under well-known Canadian authors such as Don Coles, Susan Swan, Elisabeth Harvor and Bruce Powe, she decided to stick with writing. Collette’s first novel, ‘The Queen of Cups’, was published in August 2006 and was a finalist within its genre in ForeWord Magazine’s Book of the Year. Other publication credits include many articles, stories, reviews and interviews in various Ontario local newspapers, and national Canadian publications including ‘The Toronto Star’, ‘The National Post’, ‘The Globe and Mail’ and ‘Canadian Woman Studies’. Her subjects tend to be personal journalism with pieces on a wide range of topics and she also likes to write in her blog, along with writing guest posts for other bloggers. She is a member of the Writer’s Community of Durham Region (WCDR), and has developed skills as a photographer, speaker, website designer, editor, and writing workshop facilitator. Editorial contributions have been made to several published works, along with short non-fiction pieces. Indeed, she is equally at home writing both fiction and non-fiction. One of her short stories was made into a short film ‘Snapshots for Henry’, which was screened in numerous film festivals around the world. The film received a nomination for a Genie Award in 2007.

Here is an excerpt from The Perils of Pauline

I step out my front door to find my next-door neighbor standing at the edge of his lawn, staring across at our yard, his lips compressed into a frown.

“Is everything okay, Lewis?”

“Your water sprinkler is too close to my property line.”

“How so? It’s on my lawn.”

“When you water your lawn, my driveway is getting sprinkled.”

I know better than to argue with Lewis. “Okay, no problem, I’ll position the sprinkler further away.”

I better not mention the sprinkler issue to Donald or he might freak out. Over the years, Lewis has complained about the height of our grass (too long), the color of our grass (yellow) and the condition of our grass (weedy). He also demands that we cut down our shady maple and repaint our porch.

The mature maples lining our street are the best feature of this old sprawling suburb with big front porches and quiet cul-de-sacs. Lewis chopped down all his trees last year, citing the aggravation of leaves choking his gutters.

Our grass is admittedly scruffy but that’s because last month Donald spot-sprayed it with a home-brew of salt and vinegar to kill the crabgrass and clover, and ended up pickling the grass instead. He dug out the worst scorched areas and laid pieces of new sod, so now the lawn has bright green patches interspersed with the weedy yellow parts and the dead brown bits. Now all the neighborhood kids like to come over to play The Floor is Lava on our front lawn. The green bits are safe. Step outside them, you die.

I hurry down the sidewalk to Bibienne’s where boring lawns go to die and reincarnate as boisterous perennial gardens full of day lilies, climbing honeysuckle and chrysanthemums. Hummingbirds chase butterflies through pink and purple peonies as I go around the side to her garden doors only to find an abandoned wheelbarrow. Odd. Usually Bibienne is outside pruning her roses on a day like this.

One of the doors is ajar so I rap on the frame and step inside. I love Bibienne’s roomy kitchen: an inspired mix of antique cabinets fitted with granite countertops. A cook’s dream but nothing’s cooking here. Beyond the kitchen, in the family room, I spy Bibienne reclined on the couch watching TV, legs stretched out and crossed at the ankles on the oversized ottoman in front of her. Without taking her eyes from the screen, she frowns at me while laying her palm on top of her head, as if to hold down her thick auburn hair, which is gathered away from her face in a hasty French twist. She raises a warning finger to her lips. Camilo Villegas and Adam Scott are playing so I know enough to remain silent until the next commercial break, when she turns her cool green eyes on me. I’ve interrupted men’s tennis so this better be good.

“I’ve been fired. My assistant, Daria, stole my job.”

“Oh. Okay.” She gets up from the couch and pats my shoulder. “I’ll make you a drink.”

I nod and follow her to the kitchen. I’m safe. I can stick around and watch tennis with her as long as I don’t make too much noise.

“I have ChocoLee chocolates too.” She drops ice cubes into tall glasses and fills them with red wine and lime soda. What luck. Bibienne always drinks Spanish wine cocktails and breaks out the chocolate when Villegas is winning.

Bibienne watches the end of the match with her lips parted and her hand across her heart. After the final point, she turns off the TV, fans her cheeks and sighs. “Él está bueno. Oh well, come see my new laptop. You can try it out while I top us off.”

The connection is lightning fast. I wish I had ripped-speed access to the Internet. Bibienne sets my glass at my elbow and peers over my shoulder. “Career Search Australia?”

“Yeah. Look. They need a snake wrangler in Canberra. Wait a minute, there’s an opening at the Bikini Car Wash.”

I click around. There are a zillion postings for jobs all around the world, from San Francisco to Shanghai. Even Kalamazoo has a raft of listings. Here, in the greater suburbs of the Boston Commonwealth, not so much. Unless I want to commute all the way into the city, like Donald does when he isn’t at the branch office here in town. Since Doubles got so busy, he has to go into the city more often than not these days.

Forget job searching for now. Bibi has a collection of fun apps on her desktop. I click on a Tarot icon. “Is this site any good?”

“Yes, it’s one of the best,” she says. “If you want a quick reading, try the Celtic Cross spread.”

Bibienne knows a lot about tarot. She’s so sharp and perceptive, her massage therapy clients are always asking her to read their cards for them.

I type in my question: What does the future hold for me?

The results show the Queen of Cups, seated in the auspicious Position One, which represents the “Questioner in Her Present Situation.”

“The Queen of Cups is the good woman card,” says Bibienne. “She’s loving and kind. A bit of a dreamer, distracted. But see? She sits on a throne, which means she wields power and makes the rules. The suit of cups represents emotions. Overflowing emotions, hidden emotions, secrets maybe. Who knows what’s in her cup?”

“Bra cups, cups of laundry detergent, cups of wine.”

Bibienne points to my glass. “Your cup of wine is empty.”

Position Two shows the Three of Swords: a lowly card suggestive of trickery and betrayal. “That would be Daria and WiFi-Robes,” I say as Bibienne refills my glass and sits beside me.

“Could be.” She examines the spread. “The Three of Swords usually represents sudden heartbreak or betrayal. But look over here. Your Three is countered by the Two of Swords, which is about the difficulty of making decisions. That’s a double whammy. See the blindfold on the woman in the picture? She can’t see her way. She may not want to see, in fact, she may be in denial.”

It all makes sense. I’ve been betrayed, lost my job, and now I have to make choices about what to do next, right? More curious though is the appearance of the powerful and authoritative Emperor standing in opposition to my Queen. Donald perhaps? But, if the Emperor is my husband, who is the Knight of Cups occupying the near future position? The Knight of Cups is a man of high romance, poetry and passion. Here, Donald doesn’t spring to mind. How intriguing: the card drawn for the position representing Final Outcomes turns out to be The Lovers. As I wander back home I can’t help but note that two cups makes a couple.

© Copyright 2015 Astor+Blue Editions

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