Thursday, February 28, 2013

Interview: Ophelia London, Author of Abby Road

I'm so excited to be hosting an interview with Ophelia London in the blog today. I greatly enjoyed her book "Abby Road," and now I've got some super fun interview questions with some super cute answers to share with you guys. Enjoy!

Brizmus Blogs Books:Hi Ophelia! Thanks so much for joining us today here at Brizmus Blogs Books! Abby Road was a wonderful book, and I’m psyched to have had the opportunity to read it for the blog. Tell us, what gave you the idea to write about a superstar obsessed with the Beatles?

Ophelia London: Thank you! I’m thrilled to be here! I got the idea for Abby Road many years ago. I was literally sitting around one day and wondered what it would be like if I became famous overnight. Come on, we’ve all done it, right? The first thing I ever wrote for the story was a scene of Abby being “discovered” by the manager of the recording studio where she worked. It ended up getting cut, but that was the beginning of it all. And the Beatles, well, I kind of stole that from my own life. :-)

BBB: From reading Abby Road, I got the feeling that you must have had SOME kind of experience with the paparazzi yourself. Is it true or are you just an amazing writer who does her research?

Ophelia London: Well, this is kind of embarrassing, and I’m only telling you because your blog rocks! I did a little “method acting” as I wrote the book. I kind of put myself in Abby’s superstar shoes and would walk around the mall, bookstores, wherever, pretending I was a celebrity incognito. Silly, I know, but it got me into her head and what I thought she might be feeling when she would try to do something as simple as go shopping and then be pounced upon by the paparazzi.

BBB:You can choose not to answer this question if you wish, but were any of the characters based on people from your life?

Ophelia London:Oh sure, I’ll answer it. My friends and family already know that I’m constantly stealing from them. Heh-heh. The character of Molly, Abby’s best friend/personal assistant, is bits and pieces of my closest friends. Lindsey, Abby’s older sister, is kind of a combo of my older and younger sisters. I wish I knew someone exactly like Todd, however. Still looking…

BBB: I haven’t read your Playing at Love series (though I’m definitely going to!), but it looks great! Can you tell us a little bit about how writing Abby Road was different from writing Playing at Love?

Ophelia London: Oh, thank you. I hope you enjoy it! Before Playing at Love, I wrote strictly women’s fiction, and had zero experience when it came to writing category romance. I hadn’t even read much of it. I loved the idea of writing a short, romance series, so I jumped in before I knew what I was doing. Woo-boy, there are so many rules when it comes to category, but my editor was very patient with me and I learned to love writing category.

BBB: Tell us a little bit about some of your works in progress.

Ophelia London:Right now I’m working on book three of my Perfect Kisses series (Playing at Love is book one). It’s been a blast. I’ve also got another women’s fiction going through submission and I’m even trying my hand at New Adult. I have a lot of irons in the fire!

BBB: Quick answers:

Favorite Band: The Beatles and McFly (I had to give you two, but they’re both British with 4 guys, so it’s okay!)
Literary Idol: Jane Austen
Favorite Music to Listen to while Writing: my book’s playlist or classical
Favorite place you’ve traveled: The Lake District in England
Favorite food to eat while writing: Trader Joe’s Powerberries
Favorite Book: “Pride and Prejudice”

BBB: I loved reading your “40 things to do before I turn 40” list on your blog. Can you tell us a bit more about that? It seems like you accomplished everything! Was there anything you were afraid you wouldn’t accomplish?

Ophelia London: About halfway through my 39th year, I decided that I wanted to really celebrate my 40th birthday—on a personal level. I started making a list on napkins and the backs of candy bar wrappers, but when the list started taking shape, I knew I needed to make it official, so I put it up on my blog and told everyone about it. I needed some serious accountability! “Teaching a class” was probably the one I dreaded the most. I mean, who LOVES to public speak? Not this girl! Funnily enough, I get the most comments about the “Letting my hairdresser to whatever she wants” one. It was a bit nerve-wracking, but I have such trust in my hair lady that I just sat back, sipped my Diet Coke, and let her have at it.

BBB: To continue with questions about the list – why’d you cross out “Go out on a date with a 25 year old one last time”? That sounds like fun!

Ophelia London: It does sound fun, doesn’t it? One of the interesting things I learned about myself while working on this list is what things are really important. When I started working on my list, hardcore, I decided that I didn’t want to be all cougar-y—as fun as that does sound!—yet I’d been meaning to start a serious recycling program at home. So…there ya go! Priorities!

BBB: Have you ever thought about branching out and writing something other than chick lit?

Ophelia London:Absolutely! I would love to write YA, maybe even some suspense, and like I mentioned earlier, I’ve got a little New Adult going on, too.

BBB: Now to finish – thank you SO much for joining us here today at Brizmus Blogs Books. It’s been a pleasure hosting you in the blog! To end, is there any question you’d like to be asked but never are?

Ophelia London: Thank you so much for having me, it’s been a pleasure! And yes, I don’t understand why no one has asked me why—since I look so much like Jennifer Anniston—that Brad Pitt and I aren’t together. It’s a puzzlement, right?

Well, that was fun, and I hope you guys enjoyed it as much as I did! Now, one question I wish I'd asked her that I didn't - what was her playlist for Abby Road? Was it entirely Beatles songs? I'd be curious to know! Another question I forgot to ask, she luckily answered in her own blog (check it out!) yesterday. When asked who she would get to play Abby, she picked Mandy Moore. I love it!

If you haven't already, don't forget to check out my review of Abby Road!

Monday, February 25, 2013

Review: Abby Road by Ophelia London

Title: Abby Road

Author: Ophelia London

Release Date: March 27, 2013


Who Should Read It? Love a good chick lit with drama, romance, and excitement? Into good music? This book is definitely for you!

What I Have to Say:

I loved this book! I'll admit that, when I started this book, I wasn't sure what I was going to think. The summary made it sound amazing, but I found the initial writing style somewhat lackluster, and in the first 50 pages or so, things just felt somewhat fake to me. Superficial. That's not necessarily a bad thing, but still. . . And then things picked up, and I forgot all about everything I didn't like about the first 50 pages.

In essence, Abby Road is a coming-of-age story about Abigail Kelly, a famous musician going through a tough time, trying to find herself. She is completely broken which, despite her super-star status, makes her seem like a normal, totally relateable character. She's cute and quirky, with spunk and strength and back-bone, and her reasons for being broken are so real that it's easy to sympathize with her instead of just wanting her to get over it.

That said, I've always been a fan of books during which I regularly want to strangle the main character and scream at her all of the things that she's not seeing and that she should be doing differently. And Abby definitely had her moments. There were many times when I felt as if she was lacking a backbone (and I wasn't the only one, thus the drama of the book), and they were somewhat rough, but overall, they gave a much more real feel to the book.

More than just Abby being a wonderfully broken and lovable main character, Ophelia London really brings not just the characters, but also the places, alive. Abby takes a break from work in Seaside, Florida, the town where her sister lives. The beauty of the beaches and the majestic beach houses are brought to life through beautiful, flourishing descriptions. It is here that Abby meets the love-interest of the story, and the emotions and places are described with such loving care that I felt, at times, like I was there. Or at least I wished I was there, falling in love in the quaint town of Seaside.

Abby Road is a thrilling read full of clever witticisms, heartbreak and romance, drama with soothing moments, and totally (mostly, you've got your token evil bad guy) lovable characters.

Summary:Touted by the tabloids as the biggest rock star of our generation, Abigail Kelly is used to being in the spotlight. But beyond the glam of Hollywood, her world is falling apart. Still reeling from the death of her brother and wilting under the iron fist of Max, her manager, Abby banishes herself to the secluded beaches of Florida for the summer, thinking some anonymity and sunshine are just what she needs. What she finds, instead, is Todd, an ex-marine eager to embrace life after war. Together, Abby and Todd find the balance Abby’s life has been missing. That is, until Max resurfaces, demanding Abby return to Los Angeles to record her band’s newest album. As the pressures of public appearances, paparazzi, and late-night recordings start to mount, Abby will have to risk everything or lose the life she always dreamed of. Ophelia London’s ABBY ROAD is a love letter to music—both the kind you cherish and the kind you create—as well as a beautiful love story that proves even when everyone in the world can recognize your face, the only people who matter are those who can see inside your heart.

Cover Story:
It's super cute. It feels like a new musician trying to make her way in the great state of California, though, which kind of goes against the feel of the book. So, while I like it, it just didn't give me a true feel for what the book would actually be like. It evokes "true beginnings" as opposed to "fresh starts."

Note: This book was sent for me by review from Entangled Publishing. This in no way affected my review.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Review: Seventh Heaven by Alice Hoffman

Title: Seventh Heaven

Author: Alice Hoffman

Rating: 1/2

Who Should Read It?
It's really hard to say. This book is not at all what I expected. Somehow, I feel like saying "adults." I don't really know why, but it seems like maybe "adults," whatever that means, would enjoy it.

What I Have to Say:
This book really was NOT what I expected. I had never read anything Alice Hoffman before, and based on the reviews I had read of this book, I expected something beautifully real, magically simplistic. Unfortunately what I got was a motley crew of characters with whom I couldn't relate living what seemed to me to be awful lives and doing awfully stupid things.

This story is, overall, about a woman named Nora, a divorcee with two children who moves onto a street of married ladies who seem to think divorce is one of the worst possible things that could happen. Nora is an interesting character who could be more interesting but is unfortunately underdeveloped. Hoffman spends so much time jumping back and forth, back and forth between all of the characters living on the road that you never get a real feel for any of them. There are some for whom I THINK I am supposed to feel sympathy (Nora actually being one of these) but who I instead severely dislike. There is so much bad in all of the characters, and the author doesn't do nearly enough to show us that they may have a good side as well.

This wouldn't be a problem, except that it seems like she TRIES to. And fails. And so what we end up with instead is a story that trudges on for FAR too long while we wait for something to happen to characters we don't care about. And then when the book FINALLY ended, I still wasn't entirely sure why I had read it. Sure, some transformations and changes took place, but I never got a feel for the actual story, the actual plot, if there even was one.

That's a lot of negativity, but there were some things I appreciated about the book. Despite disagreeing with several of Nora's choices, I felt that the dilemmas she faced, the traumas she went through, were all very real. And there were times that I was amazed at the way she composed herself and reacted to, well, life. In Seventh Heaven, Hoffman also gives us a clear, if somewhat exaggerated, view of what life must have been like for a divorcee in the 50s. While this is not an issue I particularly think about, I can see how it might be appealing to some.

Also, despite seemingly trudging/sludging on at certain points, overall it was a fast, easy read. And the reading of it wasn't a completely unpleasant experience. I'd be interested to know if others had a better opinion of this book than I did.

Nora Silk doesn’t really fit in on Hemlock Street, where every house looks the same. She's divorced. She wears a charm bracelet and high heels and red toreador pants. And the way she raises her kids is a scandal. But as time passes, the neighbors start having second thoughts about Nora. The women’s apprehension evolves into admiration. The men’s lust evolves into awe. The children are drawn to her in ways they can't explain. And everyone on this little street in 1959 Long Island seems to sense the possibilities and perils of a different kind of future when they look at Nora Silk...This extraordinary novel by the author of The River King and Local Girls takes us back to a time when the exotic both terrified and intrigued us, and despite our most desperate attempts, our passions and secrets remained as stubbornly alive as the weeds in our well-trimmed lawns.

Cover Story: Underwhelmed

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Review: The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet by David Mitchell

Title: The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet

Author: David Mitchell


Who Should Read It?This is a beautiful piece of historical fiction. Do you like Asian historical fiction? If so, read this book. Period. And just remember that it starts off a bit slowly.

What I Have to Say:
I'm going to be honest with you. I almost put this book down and didn't finish it - which is just NOT something I do. If I start a book, I finish it. Period. But the first 150 pages or so of this book were just PAINFUL for me to read. This book takes a look at what it was like in the late 1700s, early 1800s, on Dejima, a small Japanese island right off the coast of Nagasaki, where Dutch traders lived. It should be noted that this was a very xenophobic time for Japan, in which the Japanese traded with the Dutch and ONLY the Dutch (no other foreigners allowed), and the Dutch traders were RARELY allowed off Dejima and onto mainland Japan.

The book starts off on a positive note, when a female Japanese midwife manages to successfully deliver the baby of the magistrates concubine. The story then immediately turns to the Dutch living on Dejima. The lying, cheating, gambling, whoring Dutch who speak in such harsh, perverse slang that it took extreme effort to actually understand what they were saying and even more effort to actually want to understand what they were saying. I couldn't care less about these Dutch men and what happened to them, and if I had thought it was going to be about them, I would have put the book down.

Luckily (for me), though, there was the decent, virtuous Jacob de Zoet who stood out amoungst a group of repulsive slum. David Mitchell breathed such life in this character from the debut that, despite how awful I was finding the book (which, in retrospect, was sheer genius on the part of Mitchell, as it allowed the reader to get a real feel for what life must have been like then and what de Zoet must have been suffering with life on Dejima), I found that I kept reading just to figure out where things were going for him. And for Ogaewa, Aibagawa, Lord Enomoto, Dr. Marinus, and all of the rest of the large cast of characters that Mitchell put together (for a book with so many characters, he sure managed to breathe life into all of them).

And I am SO glad I did, because I sped through the last 400 pages of the book at record speed. The Japan of 1799 came alive for me, the customs, the characters, the way of living - everything was beautiful and brilliant, and I felt as if I was actually there. As the story progressed, de Zoet became more and more the good guy that the island of Dejima needed, and it became more and more evident that the villain wasn't Dejima itself, but a certain Japanese (whose name I will not mention for fear of spoiler).

As usual, David Mitchell has given us not just a compelling protagonist, but a compelling villain in a compelling setting complete with a rich plot that will leave you page-turning with desire up until the very end.

Aside from the usual David Mitchell brilliance, I thought one of these things that ultimately made this book so great was the way he dealt with the issues - the racism, the sexism, the religious differences, the blasphemy, etc. Today, we look at all of these things, and we think: moral issue. Back then, though, things were different, and they were even more different in Japan. And he dealt with these issues as they may have been dealt with back then, going into just the right amount of depth, while still managing to throw a modern day twist by actually acknowledging that these things are moral issues. It really brought to home the impossibility of life back then for a woman or a slave. Or, in Japan, even a person with thoughts of their own.

"The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet" is full of laughs, it will make you think, make you cry, make you question, and leave you ultimately forgetting the you read about the characters in books (instead thinking that they were people you might have known in a previous life). Jacob de Zoet is a masterful storyteller with a masterful writing style and a creative mind to boot.

Summary:In 1799, Jacob de Zoet disembarks on the tiny island of Dejima, the Dutch East India Company’s remotest trading post in a Japan otherwise closed to the outside world. A junior clerk, his task is to uncover evidence of the previous Chief Resident’s corruption. Cold-shouldered by his compatriots, Jacob earns the trust of a local interpreter and, more dangerously, becomes intrigued by a rare woman—a midwife permitted to study on Dejima under the company physician. He cannot foresee how disastrously each will be betrayed by someone they trust, nor how intertwined and far-reaching the consequences. Duplicity and integrity, love and lust, guilt and faith, cold murder and strange immortality stalk the stage in this enthralling novel, which brings to vivid life the ordinary—and extraordinary—people caught up in a tectonic shift between East and West.

Cover Story: I love this cover! Oh so beautiful and oh so Japanese. The colors and the idea are just right. :-)

My Contests

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