Posts Tagged ‘chick lit’

What Happens on Sunday by Laurie Koozer

I know an author!  Well, technically we’ve never met in real life, but I know her via Twitter.  It still counts!  Laurie Koozer just published her first novel, “What Happens on Sunday“, and I’m so excited to share my thoughts AND a special Q&A with Laurie!

From Amazon.com:

In Pittsburgh, what happens on football Sundays is more than just a game and for six women during the 2005 Steelers season their complicated relationships with the team provides solace, distraction and occasionally frustration.

Jen is a very young and very pregnant newlywed who worries that getting married on the same day as a Steelers loss will doom her marriage.

Megan never met a tailgate or a man she couldn’t conquer but is scared of losing her best friend to a relationship.

Desiree is a brash professional struggling to deal with her husband’s ex-wife and children and beginning to wonder if it’s the right time to start a family of her own.

Angela is a high school senior long ago branded bad luck for the Steelers and all she wants to do is get the hell out of Pittsburgh even if it means leaving behind her best friend Robbie.

Patty, a mom who sends a pair of sexy panties to a different player every week, hasn’t been on a date since her divorce five years ago.

And then there’s Shannon, thirty-four and single she spends the majority of her days navigating Pittsburgh traffic and her evenings tending bar and pining after her sister’s boyfriend.

As the Steelers make what seems to be an impossible run to the Super Bowl, their lives will intersect, each of them finding connections in the most unexpected places.

I love books set in or about Pittsburgh, you know that.  ”What Happens on Sunday” is no exception.  As a lifelong Pittsburgher and a Steelers fan (duh), I could totally relate to the characters in this book and I think most other people could, too.  Maybe not all of them in all situations, but I feel like I could see little bits of myself in almost all of the ladies.  I could picture the characters as regular women walking around town, someone I might run into at Target or Primanti’s.  The story took me back to the ups and downs of the 2005 football season.

And if you love Pittsburgh, you’ll get your fill with a ton of Pittsburgh references, similes, and metaphors.  I felt like I was “in on the secret” because I knew all of the things and places that were in the story.  Laurie did a great job of capturing the spirit of the city, both good and bad parts and stereotypes.  This was a fun, easy read that I didn’t want to put down, and if you’re local, used to be local, like Pittsburgh for no reason, are a Steelers fan, are a female, or just need something fun to read, get it!  It’s only $3.99 on Amazon – about half the price of a Primanti’s Capicola and Cheese.  Save yourself some calories and buy this instead.

If you want to hear more about the book or follow Laurie’s other adventures in reading and in the ‘Burgh, check out her blog at Yinz R Readin and you can also find her on Twitter at @yinzrreadin.  The ebook is available for sale on Amazon and if you’re not into the ebook thing, you’re in luck!  You can buy a print copy at the following locations: Caliban Books in Oakland, East End Book Exchange at the Pittsburgh Public Market and Eljay’s Used Books in Dormont.  Support local authors and bookstores!

 

Laurie was also nice enough to answer some of my questions about her book (my questions in bold).  Enjoy!

I know you’re a native Pittsburgher. Why did you choose to write your first book about Pittsburghers and the Steelers instead of something else?

I was actually born in Central PA so even though my family moved to Western PA when I was 11, I don’t know if I can claim to be a native Pittsburgher. J I have lived in the city for the past 11 years though and I think that the number one reason I wrote this book was selfishness.   Like you, I love to read and as many books as I’ve read, I’ve never really found one that captured the world or the people that I know, so this was my attempt to do that.

Do you think that readers not familiar with Pittsburgh would understand and enjoy this book as much as someone from Pittsburgh?

I would hope so, but with the specific nature of the book, right now I’m not worrying too much about what Jane Smith from Kansas would think about the book and just hoping that Pittsburghers like it!   Still, I think that the specific characters in the book are struggling with the sorts of conflicts that all sorts of women can relate to – love, loneliness, growing up, etc – so I definitely wouldn’t rule it out from finding a wider audience.

Where did you come up with the characters?  

The original two characters – Patty and Angela – developed from a Post-Gazette article I read about sports rituals and superstitions.  The article talked about women mailing underwear to different players and it really got me wondering what type of person would do that.  And I think we’ve all heard of (or maybe been) the person who has to stay out of the room during a sports game because their family thinks that they’re bad luck.  Usually the person is a sports fan and in on the joke but I started wondering how it would play out if the person being removed from the games wasn’t a fan at all. Jen and Dave were inspired by a couple I saw in Detroit during Super Bowl XL – a husband proudly showing off the Steelers helmet he’d painted on his pregnant wife’s belly.  Shannon’s character was inspired by a neighborhood bar where I used to hang out. Megan and Desiree were more of an amalgam of different types of people that I’ve known or observed over the years.

Was it as hard as I think it would be to intertwine their stories and relationships?

It actually wasn’t because I had that vision from the very beginning so I kind of worked out various scenarios in my head and then worked backwards from there.  I wanted their lives to connect or even collide but I also wanted to have character arcs that stood on their own. More than anything, I wanted it to be reflective of the very real “it’s a small world” thing that is always at play in Pittsburgh where you almost always have a mutual connection to strangers if you dig deep enough.     I have to say that some of my favorite scenes to write were the ones where we see the same incident from multiple points of view – like that infamous night at The Locker Room and especially at Jen’s wedding.

Which one of your characters would you most and least like to be friends with and why?

I feel like I could be friends with all of my characters, but if I have to choose I would say that I probably have the least in common with Jen and that if Patty could ever see fit to leave her desk and take a lunch out sometime, I would love to be her office lady lunch buddy!

How much studying did you have to do on the Steelers’ 2005 season to get all of the facts right?

I don’t know if studying is the right word but I have a binder with recaps of every game and all kinds of articles about different storylines that were going on that year, so yeah I definitely did my homework, even down to researching what weather Pittsburgh was having during specific games that year.  And it wasn’t just the Steelers season I had to research – I started writing in 2006 so everything was very fresh to me but as the years went by I started adding a lot of pop culture and current event facts to my 2005 binder so that I could stay accurate. It’s funny to me that there’s a MySpace reference in the book because that seems pretty quaint now but back then it was pretty big.

Hines Ward or Troy Polamalu?

Troy!!!

Do you have any plans to write a sequel?  I would love to know what happens to all of the characters after the Super Bowl!

I’m glad you asked that question. A lot of people are asking me that and I will take that as a very good sign about the success of these characters and the book itself.  I’m definitely not done with these women –  how that is going to play out I’m not sure yet because with working full-time and kids I don’t get as much writing time as I used to but yeah, there’s definitely a lot more that happens to these characters after Super Bowl XL.

What is your second favorite (assuming yours is your favorite) book set in Pittsburgh?

Ah, I can’t narrow it down so I will say that my second favorite Pittsburgh-set book is a three-way tie between An American Childhood (Annie Dillard), The Perks of Being a Wallflower (Stephen Chbosky) and Wonder Boys (Michael Chabon).

Lastly, is that your butt on the cover?

No, but I’m flattered that you think it is.  The identity of that front cover butt is supposed to be top-secret but unfortunately I think we messed up when we took my three-year-old on the photo shoot because as soon as she saw the cover she yelled “That’s XX!!!”  So yeah, if you really want to know who that butt belongs to you’ll have to ask her, because I swore I’d never tell.

 

Thanks again to Laurie for the interview and for writing a great book n’at!

What Stays in Vegas by Beth Labonte

I spot a theme here recently with me and books about Vegas.  When I was contacted to read and review this book, I knew it was something that I’d be interested in doing – especially since it seems to take a bit of a different path than the other Vegas-related book that I reviewed a few months ago.

“What Stays in Vegas” is about a young woman named Tessa who is an administrative assistant at a New England architectural and design firm.  You could say that she isn’t really happy with her life – she’s in a dead-end job, she has a major crush on a dreamy coworker named Nick (who is married), and the weather sucks.  When she gets the opportunity to temporarily transfer to the Las Vegas branch of her company to fill in for someone on maternity leave, she jumps at the chance.

In Vegas, she works as an admin for Kendra, daughter of the owner of the company and a crazy (in a fun way) chick who has become slightly crazier after her husband leaves her and she decides to really take advantage of Vegas’ crazy nightlife.  Tessa starts to really enjoy herself in Vegas and Kendra becomes a friend (and Tessa becomes her confidante and the one who tries to keep her focused).  Tessa does miss Nick, but they still talk quite a bit and he seems to not be happy in his marriage.  Tessa also begins to hang out with some of the guys in her office, sweet but kinda nerdy ones who treat her like a buddy or a sister.  But when Nick decides to take a little trip to Vegas to visit Tessa, will she finally get the chance to go after her dream guy?

I really enjoyed reading this book and really liked some of the characters.  Only some, because I ended up changing my mind about others as the book went on!  Intended, I’m sure.  Tessa seemed like a girl who could be a friend of mine.  And Kendra, even though she seemed a little off-the-rails at some points, was very likable as well.  The story wasn’t as much a story about Vegas as it was a story about friends and relationships.

This was author Beth Labonte’s second book, and the first one, “Coffee Breath”, is one I definitely want to read too even though it’s in a little bit of a different genre.  And if you want a good laugh about office life, check out her blog, Secretary 4 Life.  As a huge fan of “The Office” and a corporate worker myself, her posts and observations crack me up.

P.S. “What Stays in Vegas” is only 99 cents for the Kindle!  Go!  Now!

Upcoming New Releases

I went just a wee bit crazy on Amazon recently pre-ordering books for my Kindle.  I admit that I’m not very good at keeping up with what new books are coming out, but Amazon’s “Recommended Items” that show up whenever you buy something else are FANTASTIC.  Thanks to that handy little tool, here’s everything that I pre-ordered…

Looks like I’ll be busy for the next six months or so.  This list is just about all of my favorite authors.  2012 is gonna be AWESOME!

By the way, have you started your 2012 Reading Challenge yet on Goodreads?  I’ve already read 8 books out of the 35 that I predicted as my goal for the year.  I have a feeling I’m going to go over since this is only February.  I’m thinking about doing a contest for my readers to guess how many I’ll go over by and then whoever comes the closest at the end of the year will win some sort of a prize… what do you think?  I credit author Jenn Thorson for the contest suggestion during a recent discussion on Twitter.  Thanks Jenn!

A Slot Machine Ate My Midlife Crisis by Irene Woodbury

 

I was really excited to read this book when I was contacted by author Irene Woodbury.  It seemed like something that I’d like and enjoy reading.  Plus, I’ve never been to Vegas before, so I thought that maybe I could live vicariously through the characters in this book.

In “A Slot Machine Ate My Midlife Crisis“, mid-40′s newlywed Wendy Sinclair has just moved to Texas from Los Angeles to be with her husband, who she had been dating for seven years prior.   She’s realizing that she doesn’t really fit in with the Texas crowd, especially the rich, snotty wives of her husband’s colleagues that she is forced to socialize with.  She misses working in an upscale women’s clothing boutique in LA with her best friend, Paula.  Wendy and Paula plan a girls’ weekend together in Las Vegas to catch up and let loose and everything changes from there!

Wendy and Paula have a wild and interesting weekend, but Wendy doesn’t want it to end there… she doesn’t want to go back to Texas.  And frankly, she felt like her relationship with her husband, Roger, was better before they got married.  She decides to extend her weekend trip for a few more weeks.  And a few more weeks after that.  Then a few months.  Wendy is offered a job working with one of the casinos, which solidifies the feeling of her being needed somewhere other than Texas.  She makes some friends along the way and enjoys relaxing, eating, working (on something she loves to do!), and being pampered.  The entire time, Roger is none too happy that Wendy is spending their first year of marriage in a different city, and Wendy is suspicious of the daughter of one of Roger’s colleagues who starts hanging around him.  So, does Wendy stay in Vegas and follow her heart and do what makes her happy, or does she go home to Roger and rekindle their marriage?

This book was really easy for me to get into and it was interesting to hear about some Vegas stuff that most tourists probably don’t think about or see.  I found myself getting a little frustrated with some of the characters – I wanted to strangle Paula at some points, and I was going back and forth with being disappointed with Wendy for abandoning her husband and not just talking to him, while cheering her on in “you go, girl!” fashion for being independent and doing what SHE wanted to do.  But I don’t think it’s always necessary for characters to be likable… I think that characters that illicit mixed responses like that from readers are just as good!

Overall, the story was a fun read and was a nice escape from my own reality into someone else’s crazy life!

A Life That Fits by Heather Wardell

So remember how excited I was when I received my first request to review a book?  Imagine my excitement when I got another request!  Heather Wardell asked me to read and blog about her book and I was so pumped to see that it was just the type of book that I love to read.

A Life That Fits“ is about a girl named Andrea in her late 20′s.  She’s been with her boyfriend Alex for…. well, pretty much forever!  They have been dating for 14 years and  have been living together but aren’t engaged.  Yet.  Andrea is on her way home from a business trip and is convinced that Alex will be at home waiting for her with a ring and a proposal, based on the way he’s been acting lately.  Oh, was she wrong.  Turns out, Alex confesses that he’s leaving her for another woman.  Andrea is devastated (rightly so!) and falls into a depression and can’t even make it into the office for work.

Alex had told Andrea that his “other woman” was basically Andrea’s total opposite.  Andrea finally gets back up on her feet after deciding that she’ll become her opposite and maybe that’ll be what Alex wants and he’ll come back.  She is more outgoing, dresses in clothes that she normally wouldn’t buy (colors!!), etc.  This helps Andrea in a few ways, making new female friends, for example, but also hurts her.  She is basically ousted from her job, but luckily has already accepted an offer with another company in the office park.  She has a new girl friend at the new job, and she also develops a crush on a coworker that starts to develop into more.  But Andrea is torn…. she likes her new life, but does she still like it if Alex isn’t in it?

At first, I wasn’t sure about Andrea because I was getting mad that she wasn’t snapping out of her funk.  But then I wondered how I would feel if I were in her shoes.  After she developed her opposite plan (even though I didn’t support her going back to Alex), I began to root for her and hope she would realize that she didn’t need Alex to be happy.  I rooted for her even more when she started to get eyes for another man!  Go Andrea!  I also wanted to punch Alex.

There are some little twists and turns in this book that I didn’t quite expect and some others that I kinda figured out on my own.  The characters were written as normal everyday people… nothing glamorous or fancy, but people like who you may personally know.  Those are the kinds of characters I really like and can totally relate to.  I can’t wait to read more of Heather Wardell’s books!  She has six other books out, and if you have a Kindle… they’re either free or $0.99!  Awesome!  In fact, I just downloaded her first book, “Life, Love, and a Polar Bear Tattoo, as I was writing this post.  It’ll be next on my list to read.  Thanks for the opportunity to read your book, Heather!

2012 Reading Challenge

2012 Reading Challenge
Jaci has read 1 book toward her goal of 35 books.
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