Monday, September 30, 2013

Sideboob Reading Challenge: A Tangled Web by Judith Michael (Spoilers)

See the entire Sideboob Reading Challenge List!

Judith Michael's Deceptions was published in 1982 and a miniseries based on the book came out a few years later. The sequel, A Tangled Web, came out in the early 90s. I haven't researched too deeply into the motivation behind writing a story that ended with such finality, and I'm not sure I'd find it online anyway. I'm reminded a bit of a story told by another author, James W. Hall, at a signing over 20 years ago. Details are fuzzy, but the gist was that publishers are more receptive if a story they're behind has a sequel. Whether A Tangled Web was written out of financial motivation or because a rampant plot bunny took control, I don't know, but once I learned of its existence I had to read it.

I'll warn you, the book can be a bit hard to follow, mainly for the grand use of flashbacks and deus ex machina. We leave Sabrina in Deceptions taking over for her departed sister; she and her brother-in-law fall in love and return home as though it had always been that way. Web opens about a year after the twin sisters switch lives, and Sabrina is clued in to a look-alike spotted in Europe. So Stephanie, who hedged on wanting to switch back, could be alive after all. Dun dun dun!

Here follows several hundred pages of backstory, which explains that Stephanie and her lover Max survived the explosion on his yacht, how she suffered amnesia, and how they hid out in France while Max resumed his dubious business practices. Sabrina's backstory, interwoven here, covers a number of side-plots that seem superfluous as you're reading them (college finance scandal, troubles with a grad student), but they happen to prove Sabrina's investment in her new marriage and family. While she keeps some remnants of her true past visible, her decision to sell "Sabrina's" antique business coincides with the discovery of her presumed-dead sister. 

Probably the one flaw I found with the book is best described as the Annie Wilkes moment. Remember in Misery how Annie rants that Paul can't magically revive Misery because in his last book she was dead and in the ground? Deceptions had a similar problem - there are funeral scenes, and there is a body. A Tangled Web attempts to explain this with a guest on Max's yacht who (surprise) happens to look like Sabrina/Stephanie. An explosion would definitely have messed her up, and the ex-husband who identified her barely looked at the body. I guess, too, nobody bothers to confirm with dental records in Europe. Problem solved.

You get quite a bit of backstory in this novel, too, in the event you read Web first. As sequels go, I found it entertaining and I did like revisiting characters. Some might have the ending figured out, but I have to say it genuinely surprised me.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Sideboob Reading Challenge: Deceptions by Judith Michael (Spoilers)

See the entire Sideboob Reading Challenge List!

I took advantage of a non-stop cross-country flight to read the first book on my Sideboob Hour Reading Challenge, Deceptions by Judith Michael. As I mentioned in a previous post, I had seen the miniseries based on this novel many, many years ago. It still amazes me, after all these years, I can remember details about the program and how it differs from the novel. Ask me who's sitting on the Supreme Court now; I'm a total dunce there.

Anyway, if you don't want to be spoiled, go visit my website and check out my books. I just released Daringly Delicious in audiobook and Closer to the Heart should be out this winter.

Deceptions is the story of identical twin sisters, Stephanie and Sabrina, who grew up traveling the world due to their father's position as a diplomat. Stephanie longed for permanence and went on to marry a professor and have children, while Sabrina married and divorced a titled scoundrel and started up a successful antiques/design business. Now in her thirties, Stephanie feels the pull of freedom and longs to take a break from domesticity. She and Sabrina concoct a plan, while they are on an antiques hunting trip, to switch places for a week and live the other's life.

So there's a touch of Prince and the Pauper going on here. With Stephanie's marriage on the rocks, Sabrina doesn't have to worry about sleeping with her brother-in-law, and with Sabrina being single Stephanie can live out the week freely. Of course, you know things are going to happen according to plan. Sabrina injures herself, forcing the twins to prolong the charade, and Stephanie discovers she enjoys the high life and male attention from more than one suitor. Along the way, Stephanie uncovers shady dealings connected with Sabrina's shop, and is killed in an explosion set up by some baddies before she and Sabrina can switch back.

Having seen the movie, I knew the general story going in, so very little in this book surprised me. To my memory, these are differences between the miniseries and book:

  • In the book, Sabrina breaks her wrist riding a bike. In the movie it's a car accident.
  • In the movie, Sabrina is sleeping with a man to repay a debt. No mention of that in the book.
  • In the book, Sabrina is pursued by a Brazilian billionaire and she rebuffs him. Stephanie has nothing to do with him. In the movie, the man is Italian and Stephanie has an affair with him.
  • In the movie, Stephanie's children learn their mother was killed and Sabrina lets people in on the switch. In the book, Sabrina and Stephanie's husband Garth agree to keep up the charade, so nobody else knows. I imagine it was done that way in the movie for a resolution - and it's possible the sequel was not out yet.
Now, to the book: I liked it. The book offered more backstory on Stephanie and Sabrina and gave them more depth. You understand better Stephanie's restlessness and Sabrina's independence. What annoyed me most about the book was the constant head-hopping, often between paragraphs - I found it unruly and distracting. I imagine this was a common device for the time, because I don't see it so much now, and when I take on A Tangled Web I expect I'll have the same complaint. 

For a long plane ride, Deceptions helped pass the time. Looking forward to knocking out the rest of the Sideboob list.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

TBR Reading Challenge: The Sideboob Hour

Don't ask me to explain how my train of thought works. Sometimes I believe I've been gifted with a curiosity for unnecessary trivia. I may spend an evening working on a story, or checking Facebook, and suddenly I'll wonder whatever happened to some semi-obscure sitcom actor (let's say Henry Polic II...aw, just checked Wikipedia and he died last month). Once on Wikipedia I end up sucked into the site and I'm looking up all sort of crap.

I'll hope you'll forgive me for not being able to explain how I came to look up Deceptions, which was a miniseries in the mid-1980s starring Stephanie Powers in a dual role as twins who switch places for a week for grins. One is married and dowdy, the other single and glamorous, and there are sexy results and murder and I won't spoil it for you. I recall watching it in junior high and was riveted - the late 70s and 80s were ripe with TV movies of the week and miniseries based on hot-selling novels, many of them romance. You don't see that anymore on network television; these days you have to check Lifetime and Hallmark for the adaptations, but I find I miss them because there's too much competition, and I don't check listings regularly to see what's on.

Yes, I'm digressing again. Sorry.

I may have seen in the mid-1980s that Deceptions was based on a novel by Judith Michael, but 30 years of living the good life helped me forget that. What I didn't realize until this weekend was that Michael wrote a sequel to the book. I confess, I am a sequel ho. I may get into a series and burn out eventually, but at the very least I always check out the second book, even if I didn't like the first much. It's my two-strike rule, and if I see improvement I'll move forward. This weekend I visited a used bookstore and managed to score both Deceptions and A Tangled Web, both of which I plan to put away on a long plane ride.

This got me thinking, though, about all the racy bestsellers of the 70s and 80s I missed by virtue of youth. My mother was seriously into Robin Cook medical thrillers when I was young, so there were no books with sexy covers lying around the house. When I'd visit my aunt in Kentucky I'd find shopping bags full of Silhouettes and Harlequins, but nary an opportunity to grab one. I have set so many reading goals for this decade...what's one more?

Therefore, I'm setting up a personal TBR challenge, nicknamed The Sideboob List. It's called such after a scene in "Family Guy" where Peters hosts a TV show called "The Sideboob Hour," which showcases all the partial nudity of 70s-80s TV. I'm sure the miniseries and TV movies made from some of these books would have qualified for such a program.

This list contains sexy, raunchy old school books of the 70s and 80s - not all are romances, but all are certainly indulgences. So far, I've decided upon the following books, none of which I have read:
If you're game, you're welcome to ride along. You can follow along on my Old School Challenge shelf at Goodreads, and I'll set one up at Booklikes once the import of all my books is completed.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Pre-Order Killing the Kordovas by Kathryn Lively

If you purchase eBooks at OmniLit or Smashwords, you can pre-order my latest books, Killing the Kordovas, which comes out October 15!

PRE-ORDER LINKS - OmniLit ~ Smashwords

WARNING: This book contains rough language, spoilers for a possible sequel to Judy Blume’s Blubber, suggested lyrics for the theme to Sanford and Son, and one very mixed-up romance author.

Words come easily to writer Danni Hewitt. If only success did the same. The news of America’s latest reality sweetheart inking a major book deal sends Danni spiraling into depression, to the point where the idea of soothing her jealousy with a murderous rampage appeals to her.

Of course, this requires getting close enough to Krystal Kordova and her family to draw blood, something Danni achieves when she manages to land a job as Krystal’s ghostwriter.

Is the pen deadlier than the sword? Stick with Danni and find out.

~

While preparing for this book's release, I've had a difficult time discerning it's categories. Kordovas is not a mystery in the traditional sense, and while there are thrilling moments I hesitate to classify it as a thriller. The main character is a woman, but it's not really chick lit. I've been describing it to people as American Psycho meets Louie. Not sure how you pick a book category from that.

Anyway, I have a Goodreads giveaway in the works, but if you are active on Goodreads or have a book blog you may contact me about an eARC for review. Please mail arecafe at gmail dot com if interested.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Bundling and Price Match...Sounds Like a Slogan

Lots of news to report this week. First up, the audio version of Daringly Decadent will come to audio via iTunes, Audible, and Amazon very soon. Hope you enjoy it. If you're into audio, you can get the preceding story, Daringly Delicious, on audio now. I'm excited to have another audio book available - and look forward to getting some more out there.

Available now is a new bundle of three novels. For a limited time, you can get Love's DoMINion, Happily Ever After, and Boone for just 99 cents. Price goes up soon, so don't wait. You can also go to Kindle and buy it. Box sets and bundles appear to be the rage these days, and I certainly don't mind offering different ways to get my stories. The three books here are available separately in eBook, too, and two are in print. If you never bought them individually, they're new to you, so why not get the big book?

Once I decide the fate of another title, I may do an all M/M bundle that will include Bittersweet and GPS. Always something in the fire here.

Lastly, I received an email from KDP that they now offer a program that lets you discount an eBook for readers who buy print. So if you were to buy any of my DLP Books titles in print, you can get the eBook for a discount or for free. Since my DLP Books titles are on the inexpensive side anyway, I've enrolled the titles to go for free in eBook to print buyers. This is something I've wanted to do anyway, give the eBook free to a print buyer. Amazon made it easy for me.

What's more, Coming Together is discounting through the match program, too. So you can get Coming Together: Girl on Girl in print and buy the eBook cheap. I'm not sure about the discount, but all the money goes to charity.

What else, what else? Oh, I'm getting into my next WIP, the followup to Long Awaited Friend. Toying with changing the title to Long Awaited Love. We'll see.