Life Is Sweet release day

coffee shop

It’s another book birthday!

Life Is Sweet was dreamed up several years ago when I visited Leesburg and fell in love with a coffee shop there. The place had originally been a shoe store (see pic at left–very cute!). The location closed not too long after I visited, but the idea of a repurposed downtown gathering place stayed with me, and The Strawberry Cake Shop was born.

The cake shop needed an owner, and I decided this one would be run by a former television child star trying (with limited success) to put her past behind her. The plot involves friendships in peril, the ties of family and love that bind us together, one horse-crazed adolescent, reality television, and cake. Lots of cake.

Enjoy!

“A sweet and funny romantic comedy that is easy to gobble up and will leave readers feeling light and optimistic.” --Booklist

“A sweet and funny romantic comedy that is easy to gobble up and will leave readers feeling light and optimistic.” –Booklist

Reviews. Honestly.

cryingLately I’ve read a couple of postings from book bloggers I follow who have been debating whether or not to say negative things about books they’ve read. There are a couple of reasons for their not wanting to stray from the path of four- and five-star niceness: They don’t want to hurt authors’ feelings, or they don’t want to incur the wrath of those whose books they pan. I understand their hesitation. Occasionally authors or their fans get in a snit and argue with the reviewer in the comments section of the blog, which is never pretty. I’ve seen talented bloggers give up on their websites, and that’s a shame.

The trouble is, if all the reviews in the world are good ones, readers exist in a hard-to-navigate literary Lake Wobegon, where all the books are above average.

I don’t review books, although I will recommend the ones I like. I’m an author, and I don’t feel comfortable panning fellow authors. (I know there’s a proud, entertaining history of this, but I don’t exist in the world of The New York Times Book Review.)  Of course, as a writer I want all the reviews of my books to be glowing. It’s natural. Negative reviews sting–especially when the reviewer is able to make me see her point. Really awful reviews, ones that are the review equivalent of a drive-by shooting, usually make me laugh, at least at first. For example, here’s an excerpt from an Amazon review about book I wrote:

RUN! Don’t even make eye contact with this book. I think I would have much rather ate a bowl of pig vomit than to have gone through what I did with this book.

Yikes!  I don’t know about you, but if something I’m reading gets to the pig vomit stage, I quit reading and put the book in the thrift store pile or return it to the library. Would I like to be able to erase this review from public view? In my imaginary, me-centered world, yes. (Nicer still if I could erase it from my brain!) Yet there it sits after nearly a decade, and according to Amazon, four people have found the review helpful. Believe it or not, it’s those four people who make me glad the bad review remains on the website. Hard as it is for me to accept, those four readers saw something in that review that spoke to them. I’d like to think that it’s their loss…but maybe it saved them from wasting their money on a book that they really wouldn’t have liked.

I’m a reader. I buy most of the books I read in order to support fellow writers, but since I’m not rich, I like to increase my chances of spending my money on something I’ll like. I often sift through reviews on Amazon and Goodreads before buying. More than anything, I appreciate honesty in reviews. Who hasn’t been stung after snapping up a book that every professional reviewer raves about, only to discover that in your own opinion it’s a little, well, pig-vomitty? Goodreads and Amazon are useful because they allow us to seek out other readers whose interests are in sync with our own, and who are are willing to point out aspects of sometimes wildly popular books that some might find toxic. Often I learn a lot about how much I can trust a reviewer’s opinion by looking at what she pans as much as the books she raves about.

So I hope bloggers and reviewers won’t pull back from being their enthusiastic, opinionated selves. If I send out a review copy, “in exchange for an honest review” means just that. Although I will tweet links to good reviews, I rarely comment on the review itself, good or bad, because I think author surveillance can have a dampening effect on book discussions. But I read all the reviews of my own books, the positive and the negative, and appreciate the time each reader takes both to read the book and to comment on it.

Where do you go for book recommendations?

 

Life Is Sweet ARCs available

Life Is Sweet booksMy next book from Kensington, Life Is Sweet, will be released in early October. It’s available for pre-order on all the usual internet sites.

Or, if you are a reviewer or blogger, I still have a few advance reader copies. Contact me at lizbasswriter@gmail.com and I will be happy to send one out while (dwinding!) supplies last.

Look at that cover. Isn’t is scrumptious? Cuuuuuupcaaaakes!

 

Challenging the World

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After finishing a book, I like to take time off to decompress, which usually involves upping my movie-a-day habit, at least on weekends. My DVR is full of films pulled off of Turner Classic Movies, a channel that continues to amaze me. Just when I think I’ve seen all the Kay Francis movies there are, they come up with ten (or twenty—that woman made a lot of movies!) that I’ve never heard of.

And so, with my revisions for my October release finally done, I was sifting through my movies this weekend and found The Monster That Challenged the World. I’ve been passing by it for months, assuming that I’d seen it before, probably because I’ve seen so many creature horror flicks that they all tend to get mixed up in my head. But this one, about a brave crew of military men battling mutant killer mollusks in the Salton Sea, turned out to be new to me. It has everything there is to love about old fifties creature flicks: a solid everyman leading man, in this case a slightly past-his-prime Tim Holt; a scientist, played by Hans Conreid, who makes a fatal error with mollusk eggs; a romance blossoming amid the mollusk frenzy; and a cast of secondary characters who ham it up nicely during their moments with the creature.

The creature resembles a giant, hard-shelled caterpillar. He seems to move slowly but must also be stealthy because he sneaks up on a lot of people. It’s hard to see how he’s challenging the world—he barely makes it out of the neighborhood of the military base—but I suppose that’s why I love these creature horror movies. People think globally but fight their horrors locally. It’s the only way to survive.

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