Posts Tagged ‘new releases’

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!

Like Free Books?

Are you on Goodreads yet?  If not, you should be.  One of the reasons why is because you can get free books!  Let me explain.  There’s a section in Goodreads called First Reads.  Authors list a giveaway of a hard copy of their book.  They can give out one, or they can give out 100, whatever they want.  The giveaways are listed for a limited amount of time and you can sort through by ones that are ending soon, popular, most requested, etc.  Goodreads users can enter to win by just giving their mailing address.  THAT’S IT!  So easy.

The books listed are ones that haven’t been released to the public yet.  The whole idea is that if you win, you get a “first read” of it so that you can start to post reviews early to help promote the book.  And you don’t need a blog or anything to do that; you can just post a review on Goodreads.

I am SO excited because I finally was chosen for a giveaway!  And it’s a book that I was going to buy anyway.  Score!  I’ll be getting “The Song Remains the Same” by Allison Winn Scotch.  I guess it’ll take a few weeks to get to me, but that should still be in advance of the release date of April 12.  I’ll be posting about it here as soon as I’m done!

It’s also a good way to learn about up-and-coming new authors and releases, and who knows, maybe you’d win a book from someone new to you and gain a new favorite author!

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!

Turn of Mind by Alice LaPlante

 

While we were honeymooning in California, we met up with a friend of my husband’s in San Francisco.  We were talking about books and I mentioned my blog, and he recommended a new book recently released by a friend of his.  I downloaded it during dinner because it sounded so fascinating (but didn’t start reading it at dinner, because of course that would have been rude).

In “Turn of Mind”, Dr. Jennifer White is a retired orthopedic surgeon in her 60′s.  She also has been diagnosed with dementia.  It also just so happens that her best friend, Amanda, was recently found murdered.  Jennifer has her good days and her bad days and often doesn’t even realize that Amanda is gone or who her children are.  Jennifer’s husband passed away a few years ago and Jennifer often mistakes her son for her late husband.  She has a caretaker who she sometimes doesn’t recognize and she has escaped from the house on multiple occasions.

What is even more confusing for Jennifer is the fact that she is being questioned as a suspect in the case of Amanda’s murder.  Amanda was found with several fingers severed… in a manner than only an expert could do.  Does Jennifer remember what happened?  Did she do it?  And if she did, what would possess her to kill her best friend?

The story is told from Jennifer’s perspective, bouncing back and forth between coherent and way far gone into the depths of dementia.  This was one of the most uniquely written books that I have personally ever read.  You are getting a firsthand account of what a person may go through when suffering from dementia and it is both extremely sad (particularly if you know anyone who has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s) and completely enthralling.  It’s a murder mystery where the suspect doesn’t even know if they committed the crime.  There are actually some funny parts to the story but some heartbreaking ones, too.

I found a great interview with Alice LaPlante if you want to learn more about the back story and why she wrote about dementia.  This is her first novel and I really hope to see something else from her in the future.  Trust me, you will not want to put this book down after you pick it up.

Summer Reading

It’s that time of year again… SUMMER!  I can’t believe June is almost over already but technically, summer only started a few days ago.  I just ran across Amazon’s summer reading recommendations for this year.  On the first list, I thought it was kind of weird that cookbooks were on a “reading list”, but whatever.  You can drill down the recommendations by genre so you can take a look and see if there is anything that really interests you.  A few books that I’ve already read are listed in the Literature and Fiction section like “Room“, “The Help” (never blogged about that one yet, sorry, but it’s amazing, so please go read it), “Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet“, “Shanghai Girls” (also didn’t blog about that one but it’s also very good), “Heart of the Matter“…. and that’s just in the top 27 in that category.

I’ve preordered a few books for my Kindle that should be out soon:

  • Silver Girl” by Elin Hilderbrand (this one actually just came out on June 21 and I didn’t even realize it but it should be in my Kindle library waiting to be read!)
  • Then Came You” by Jennifer Weiner (out July 12)
  • Escape” by Barbara Delinsky (also out July 12)

I wonder if I’m missing any other new summer releases by my favorite authors.  Are there any books that you’re looking forward to reading this summer, whether they’re new or have been out for awhile?  I would love to hear your recommendations!

Happy summer reading and make sure you’re stocked up (with books, but also sunblock, water, etc) before you hit the beach or pool!

2012 Reading Challenge

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