Author, Book Reviews, Books, Contest, Fiction, Novel, Reading, Writing

Menace in the suburbs and a book giveaway!

In June 2009, Cathryn Grant first came to this blog after I left a comment on hers. I’m glad she did. We’ve been virtual friends since. Next month, I’ll interview Cathryn to coincide with her fantastic giveway. Exciting!

Today, I’m thrilled to tell you a little about Cathryn’s debut novel, The Demise of the Soccer Moms, and give you a chance to win a copy.

This is how Cathryn describes her novel:

A seemingly quiet suburban neighborhood is upended when a provocative single mother saunters onto the school playground for the first time. Her Doc Marten boots, tight T-shirts, and in-your-face attitude stir up buried fears and sexual anxiety.

In the dark corners of her home, a woman battles crippling memories that threaten to destroy the family she wants so desperately to protect. A suspicious death forces her best friend to make a hard choice between marriage and friendship.

Paranoia, jealousy, and maternal instinct collide, leading to the demise of the soccer moms.

Suburban Noir – where the mundane is menacing.

I had read Cathryn’s flash fiction at her Suburban Noir blog, but I knew nothing about her novel until she announced its release. I couldn’t wait to buy a copy, which I did on New Year’s Eve. I finished it less than 48 hours later.  I would have finished sooner, but real life intervened. Here’s my review:

Cathryn Grant’s debut novel works on many levels. If you want suspense, it’s in there. For me, it built until I had to fight to keep from looking ahead for relief. Yet, the author’s story-telling skill made me slow down to savor the reading experience. If you want a look at the possible effects of trauma and emotional abuse of a child, you’ll find that too. If you’re looking for a glimpse into the dark side of suburban life, she serves that up well.

Amy, Rachel, and Charlotte, Grant’s three main characters, are fully-fleshed and memorable. Over, under, around, and through she employs her well-developed use of language to lift this work above the genre level.

I thoroughly enjoyed the read.

And I think you’ll enjoy it too, so I’m giving away one free copy of the Kindle ebook.  If you don’t have a Kindle reader, you can download the free Kindle app for PC, MAC, iPad, iPhone, Blackberry, Android, or Windows Phone 7 .

To enter your name in the contest, all you have to do is leave a comment below or retweet this post. PLUS, if you do both, you’ll be entered twice! (If you RT, please mention or direct message me at @cassidylewis so I can enter your name.) The contest ends Thursday, 13 January at midnight PST. The winner will be chosen at random and announced here on Friday.

While you wait, visit Cathryn’s blog Suburban Noir where you can read sample chapters of The Demise of the Soccer Moms as well as some of her excellent flash fiction.

[tweetmeme source=”cassidylewis” only_single=false]

Author, Book Reviews, Fiction, Opinion, Short story, Writing

Since I loved it, I will tell you this

A month ago, I mentioned I was reading two story collections, one old, one new. I told you about the old one and promised to tell you about the second collection the next week. Then, I decided I should finish the book first, and life kept getting in my way, so I didn’t finish the last story until a few days ago. Technically, I don’t review books. I’m not schooled in dissecting and analyzing. I can only give you my opinion, tell you that I like a book or not, and maybe share a bit of why.

So, what’s my opinion of this book? Look at that photo of assorted truffles. Can’t you practically taste their rich, creamy, sweet, elegant, lusciousness? Well that, dear friends, is the chocolate equivalent of Robin Black’s debut If I Loved You, I Would Tell You This. The book consists of ten stories, each one a different flavor, each marvelous—like truffles.

I’ll share a quote from the inside jacket flap: “Brilliant, hopeful, and fearlessly honest, If I Loved You, I Would Tell You This illuminates the truths of human relationships, truths we come to recognize in these characters and in ourselves.” That’s not hype; that’s truth. From the opening pages, I knew these stories were masterfully written. Robin Black not only starts us with a unique situation: a father taking his daughter to meet her first seeing-eye dog, but she complicates it with the unexpected: as he drives along trying to pay attention to his daughter’s chatter, his mind wanders to visualizing his mistress as she seduced him the night before.

Always, she delights with language:

“A streetlight comes on. Clara waits to see how long it will take another to join it. A minute passes, two minutes. Nothing. They must have different levels of sensitivity, she thinks. They must believe different things about what darkness is.”

And this:

“Her body, no longer thin, no longer seemed striving to be thin and had acquired a relaxed, logical quality, as though the wide hips and general sense of plenty were the obvious right choices.”

And this:

“The truth was, he wasn’t sure he would ever like anyone again. He seemed to have lost the thread of how affections worked.”

I read these stories as a reader, and they enthralled me. I read them as a writer, and they amazed and inspired me. I read them as an editor, and never picked up my red pencil—and, for me, that rarely happens.

Keeping with my truffle analogy, it’s probable best that it took me awhile to finish the book. As with all fine chocolate, it’s best savored slowly.

If you’d like to know more about the author, read Cynthia Newberry Martin’s blog post A Day in the Life of Robin Black. You might also like to read her review of the book and visit Robin Black’s website.

[tweetmeme source=”cassidylewis” only_single=false]