Wednesday, April 18, 2012

THE FIVE W’S Of Rachel Burke + giveaway

Very excited to have Rachel Burke on A Novel Review today! She has a new e-book out Sound Bites: A Rock & Roll Love Story, which sounds like an amazing read! So let's get to know:

THE FIVE W’S Of Rachel Burke

I’m a staffing consultant by day and a Hollywood socialite by night. I grew up in Boston and fell into the world of recruiting when I was barely out of high school, although deep down I was always a creative person. Eventually, I began devoting all of my spare time to writing, as it was always my number one passion.

When I wasn’t utilizing my spare time to write, I was spending it traveling to Los Angeles, where I knew I would eventually end up. Since I’m also an avid lover of music, nightlife and the outdoors, L.A. is the perfect spot for me.

WHAT? What do you enjoy doing other than writing in your spare time?
I love yoga, running, watching live music, exploring new restaurants and nighttime spots, reading, traveling, and spending time with friends and family.

WHEN? When did you know you wanted to be a writer?
I discovered murder mystery novels when I was about ten years old, and would spend hours holed up in my bedroom with stacks of R.L Stine books. I started writing my own novels shortly thereafter, and I always felt as though it was my true passion in life.

WHERE? Where do you write? 
I typically curl up in my bed with my laptop to write. I need complete silence with zero distractions in order to concentrate.

WHY? Why do you write?
I think everyone has a true purpose in life – for some it’s running a business, for others it’s writing music. For me, it was always writing stories. Storylines just developed in my imagination and flowed onto paper effortlessly. And although I’ve explored other talents, writing was always the one talent that I had 100% confidence in. The writing industry is a tough business because there is a lot of rejection, but no matter how many agents turned down my book proposals, I never became discouraged because I knew I was a talented writer. The last thing I’d ever want is to wake up twenty years from now and realize I had a talent and a passion that I’d never pursued. And honestly, at the end of the day, there’s nothing else I’d rather be doing.

Thank-you so much for joining us Rachel! I am so not a night person! I can't help but love how you are so aware of wanting to make sure you live without regret when it comes to your writing...inspiring! Really. Makes me realize I should get more serious about my own writing. I appreciate you sharing. Now some exciting news to my followers! Rachel has offered up an ebook copy of her new book:

Sound Bites: A Rock & Roll Love Story by Rachel Burke

(description of book from

Renee Evans has a knack for trouble. After walking in on her best friend and boyfriend in bed together, twenty-five year-old Renee flees sunny Los Angeles and her dream job as a music journalist and returns to her hometown of Boston – only to meet Dylan Cavallari, the mysterious, aspiring musician who lives in her apartment building. Dylan’s piercing gaze and womanizing demeanor make him exactly the type of guy that Renee should steer clear of – which is most likely the reason she falls for him. But when Renee’s troublesome ex comes back and threatens to drive her and Dylan apart, Renee is forced to face her past and save her relationship with Dylan before it's too late.

Sound Bites dramatizes what happens when Renee finds herself caught between a painful past and an uncertain future. Happiness turns out to be within her grasp, but it all depends on whether she can trust herself enough to make the right decisions. Sound Bites is a novel about love, friendship, betrayal, forgiveness, and the power of music to help you find your way.

Sounds awesome doesn't it! Now is your chance to win!

Friday, April 13, 2012

Summer Rental by Mary Kay Andrews On audio book

A few months back, I won an audio copy of Summer Rental by Mary Kay Andrews. I have only listened to one other audio book before and it was non-fiction. I couldn’t imagine listening to a novel. It seemed so odd. My sister on the other hand swears by them. She loves getting downloading them onto her ipod for long cars trips. You see, I’m very visual. When I read a book it’s not just words on a page, but a movie playing in my head and there is no way…no way a book read to me would allow me this same experience. I am here to admit how wrong. Wrong. Wrong. Wrong. I was. I absolutely loved listening to an audio book! The book was read by Isabel Keating, who was phenomenal! I mean I couldn’t get over how wonderfully she was able to transform all the voices! I found myself looking for reasons to get into the car just so I could listen! I am planning on making a trip to the library and seeing what they have and I’m going to put another book on my iphone so I can listen to it while running (ok—walking) or driving in the car!

Three best friends find themselves in their thirties and only seeing each other when someone dies, these friends decide they need to get together and really catch up! Renting a beach house for the month of August together—and no boys allowed is just what is needed! What they each weren’t planning on is how much they needed each other, as they are all struggling with chances in their lives.

Ellis, the planner, is suddenly without a job and now beginning to wonder what happened to her life—or what life she had now that she was jobless, without a man, and not sure what to do next. The beautiful Julia seems to have everything any woman could want in life, but is plagued with feelings of inadequacy. Last there is sweet Dorie. Dorie, who is all sweet and southerly has just been betrayed in the worst way.

Throw in a hot sexy landlord, Ty Bazemore who is hiding from financial troubles, himself and Maryn Shackleford a stranger running from her husband. What you end up with is an absolute fun summer must read or in my case listen!

I hadn’t read Andrews before, but man am I a fan now. I can’t say I really connected to anyone character, but loved how they all rounded each other out. I loved how they’d chat about old boyfriends and their parents while laughing it up and playing cards. I mean gesh, I wished I could have hung out with them for the month! I found myself laughing out loud and smiling as their story played out. There is just something about books about girlfriends! I mean just fun fun fun. They were right there for each other and didn’t put up with each others…attitudes. There is a budding relationship in the book and loved how it played out. The addition of Maryn or augh Madison…was great. I loved how Julia was looking out for her girlfriends, but at the same time how Dorie would chastise her.

I think what I loved most, was how I really didn’t know how all the stories were going to end up. Sure I had a few suspicions, some were right and some were wrong and for me that is some great story telling. A definite recommend!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

THE FIVE W’S Of Devan Sipher + Giveaway!

When I started writing book reviews, I loved writing about what other authors had written. A chance to express some of my thoughts to an audiance in the hopes of sharing how passionate I am about some of the books I've read. I am finding more and more my most favorite part about my blog is my Q&As. I find myself compleltely inspired by their answers to the questions. I hope you do as, well.

Today I'm lucky enough to introduce you to Devan Sipher, author of The Wedding Beat. Devan has been the writer for the Vows column for The New York Times for five years. Let's get to know
The Five W's of Devan Sipher

WHO? Who are you? The man behind the book.
Well, the man behind the book has much in common with the leading man within it.  The Wedding Beat is loosely based on my experience as a single guy writing the Vows wedding column at The New York Times (always the wedding columnist, never the groom).  I’m also a native Californian who grew up in the Midwest and considers New York my home.  And they have yet to invent a flavor of ice cream that I would not eat at any hour of the day.

WHAT? What do you enjoy doing other than writing in your spare time?
I enjoy running along the Hudson River.  Living in New York, I find it really important to remind myself regularly that I live on an island.  I also take long walks (on the sunny side of the street).  I spend too much time on Facebook and Twitter.  I admit to watching “American Idol” (but only the top 10).  I’m currently studying Italian.  And I’m a big reader.  I try to get through the Times every day, and I’m currently reading one book on my phone and have another on my nightstand.

WHEN? When did you know you wanted to be a writer?
I’ve been writing since I was in elementary school.  I remember writing a thriller when I was in fifth grade.  It was probably only twenty pages, but it seemed like a full-length novel at the time.  I continued writing through college (though mostly shifted to playwriting), but I decided not to pursue it as a career and instead went to medical school at the University of Michigan.  However, I found myself jealous of people who weren’t afraid to do what they were most passionate about.  So I took a leave of absence from medical school.  For two years.  As Gavin, the protagonist of The Wedding Beat, says: “If you leave a door open long enough, you start to feel a draft.”  So I officially resigned from medical school and got a Master of Fine Arts at New York University.  At the time, my degree combined with a buck-fifty would buy me a subway token.  And rent in New York isn’t cheap.  So I took a detour again, doing work over the years in information technology, computer graphics, advertising and book editing, and all along I wrote on the side.  Until one day, I decided I didn’t want to live a bifurcated life anymore.  I was either going to earn money as a writer, or I wasn’t.  So I quit my job, and four months later I started working at The New York Times.  It was mostly luck, but I’d like to think it also had something to do with knowing what I wanted.

WHERE? Where do you write?
I write in what is theoretically the dining room of my apartment.  However, it’s a Manhattan-sized dining room, which means it’s about the size of a walk-in closet (and not a particularly large walk-in closet).  However, it’s large enough for spinning in my chair and staring at the walls.  When I’m stuck, I take a shower.  On bad writing days, I take a lot of showers.  There’s something about being in the shower that eliminates my mental inhibitions.  I’ll let the Freudians analyze it.  All I can say is that it works.

WHY? Why do you write?
When I took my first writing course in college, my professor said you should only be a writer if you have to be.  If there was anything else you could be happy doing, then you should do it.  At the time I thought that was rather glib advice.  But now I repeat it regularly.  While there are many things I enjoy doing (and have done).  There’s nothing that makes me happier—or torments me more.  In my book, I quote Thomas Mann’s line “A writer is somebody for whom writing is more difficult than it is for other people.”  Writing’s a compulsion.  An addiction.  Both malady and cure.  But when it’s going well, it makes me feel the euphoric sensation that I’m living my life to my full potential.

Thank-you so much for joining us here at A Novel Review, Devan! I really enjoyed your responses and found the quotes you mentioned very inspirational. I've written them down and hung them in my makeshift office/dining room.
Giveaway Time

Here is a taste of Devan's book The Wedding Beat (taken from Goodreads)

Sometimes the best man isn't even in the wedding party...

Gavin Greene is a hopeless romantic. He's also a professional one: He writes the wedding column for a Pulitzer Prize-winning newspaper, covering A-list parties from coast to coast. But there's a thin line between being a hotshot reporter on assignment...and being a single guy alone on a Saturday night at someone else's wedding.

Everything changes on New Year's when Gavin meets Melinda, a travel writer with an adventurous spirit. A moonlit stroll across a Manhattan rooftop seems to seal the deal. But she slips away.

Gavin crisscrosses New York City to find her again, navigating stressed-out brides, gossip blogs, a budget-cutting boss and his daft but well-meaning parents. Along the way, he learns that there's something worse than losing the woman of his dreams: having to write an article about her wedding.

Sounds like a really great read, doesn't it! Well here's your chance to win a copy!
  • This giveaway is for US only, sorry!
  • No PO Boxes
  • Leave me a comment telling me a favorite memory of a wedding (yours, some one elses, or even from a book/movie)
  • Leave your email address so I can let you know if you win
  • I'd love for you to follow me here, on twitter and/or facebook, but you don't have to!
  • I'd love your vote (if you enjoy the content of my blog) for the Independent Book Blogger Awards if your a goodreads member (NOT A REQUIREMENT) there is a link to vote at the top of the page :)
The giveaway ends April 25 midnight EST. Good-luck!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Guest Blog by Kat Lieu + giveaway

Kat Lieu is a best-selling young adult novelist on She is also a Doctor of Physical Therapy and a Certified Lymphedema Therapist. She runs a tween/teen empire, Nummyz Productions, bossing around her sister, the amazing Graphics Designer Eve Lieu, their Programmer Kyo, and Kat's web designer/fiancé Jake. Nummyz Productions creates original Flash games for girls and provides them with a safe community, love advice, free stories, and support. Nummyz Productions publishes books and ebooks. Kat's company has also created websites for celebrities of The Young and the Restless (Kate Linder) and Flash games for multi-million dollar company LittleMissMatched.

I have never been able to plan out a story on pen and paper. In the past when I had tried to brainstorm ideas or plot out an entire novel, I never succeeded in finishing my intended story. Authors often say it's easier to plan out a novel first and use methods such as the Snowflake or Kiser Methods. I tend to write better when I don't plot and plan. I allow the words to flow out of my brain to my typing fingers. This doesn't work the same way when I try to write a manuscript with pen or paper. There's is something hypnotic about typing that just works for me. A computer keyboard is like a piano for me. Instead of producing beautiful music, a keyboard helps me string lovely words together.

And call me crazy but my characters control their thoughts, dialogue, and action. When I'm writing, it's like I have a mild case of multiple personality disorder. If my character is excited, I find myself jumping out of my seat. When my characters are happy, I'm all smiles. And when they're sad, I'm sad. Two years ago when I was writing an emotional breakup scene, I was depressed for a week. When I am filled with a million emotions, even the negative ones, words flow out of me fluidly and quickly.

Where does my inspiration come from? Everywhere. Almost all stories are structured like a hill. Action rises, there's a plateau period, then a climax point, and a resolution that resembles a climb downhill. Prose, characterization, and feelings the authors evoke make their stories unique. Creative and funny dialogue makes characters unforgettable. I have an especially strong bond with one of my characters, Mina Lin from my novel Maid for Me. Even when Mina faces a million obstacles and hardships in life, she fights for a better day. Mina, like many of my other characters, inspires me to write. You will see her again in my upcoming publication, Maid for Me, Too, the sequel to Maid for Me.

Thank you, Laura, for hosting my guest blog post. Happy reading and writing everyone, and good luck!

Very cool! Thanks for stopping by today, Kat!  I am lucky enough to kick-off an ebook giveaway of 5, yes 5, ebooks from Kat! Make sure to leave a comment below with your email address. This giveaway will close on April 17, midnight EST. Good-luck everyone!

You can learn more about Kat:


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As of December 1, 2009, According to The Federal Trade Commission (FTC), product reviewers on blogs must disclose whether they received products for free or received payment for their review.

The books we review on this site (A NOVEL REVIEW) are sent to us by publishers, authors or downloaded from Netgalley. This is a very common practice. We never take payments for these reviews and all the reviews on this site are our own thoughts and feelings and are not influenced.