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The Tenth Circle, by Jodi Picoult

This book was difficult to read at times as the dialogue left so much to be desired. While the book was interesting, the writing was below average. I’ll give Picoult credit since she kept me interested and provided enough twists throughout to make it worth reading. Still, the characters, particularly the daughter, were hard to believe. I rounded up to three stars, but I wish she wrote more compelling dialogue and didn’t make so many of their thoughts so obvious.

2.5stars

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Blonde, by Joyce Carol Oates

I should preface that I am an Oates fan, and I enjoy her descriptive style of writing. This book was enjoyable and flew by despite being an incredibly long novel. The despair and the longing in the character of Marilyn Monroe is sad yet captivating. My only issue with the novel is that Monroe comes off as a victim all the time with seemingly no responsibility for her own actions; it’s always someone else’s fault that she made a poor choice. I give it four stars and recommend it, particularly if you like novels where the main character is hopelessly flawed.

four-star-review

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The Girl On The Train, by Paula Hawkins

After reading “Into The Water,” this was a breath of fresh air. I’m always nervous when a book is hyped so much, but Hawkins delivered just the right amount of suspense and character development. I won’t nitpick the aspects I didn’t enjoy, but I rounded up from 4.5 stars. See kept my attention the entire time, and she kept me guessing as to who the true “bad guy” was. I wish the ending had played out differently, but here I am complaining again.

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Meet The Author, Donise Sheppard

Enjoy getting to know, Donise Sheppard:

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Thank you for joining me today. Tell us in three words how you would best describe your writing.

Articulate, clean, and pithy.

Your book, The Altered: Subsist, was released April 22, 2016. Share a passage that you’d like for us to enjoy.

Then several things happen at once. Daren’s face turns from playful to horror and he yells my name as I feel strong arms grab me across the waist. I see Mr. Forest look up and aim his bow as Daren begins to climb the ladder. I’m pulled back, hard, and yanked to a door that probably leads to the store below us. I try kicking and hitting and biting to get away, but it’s too late. I’m being taken. I’m going to become an altered. Or worse.

You’ve been presented with the opportunity to be a best-selling author, but can never write again, or write forever, but never have a bestseller. Which scenario sounds more tempting?

Even though being a best-seller is on my bucket list, I would give it up if it meant never getting to write again. I’m not me when I’m not writing. I will continue to write for the rest of my life, even if I never sell more than a few copies.

If you could live on a college campus and never leave, or live in a small town but be able to travel, which one would you choose?

Considering I already live in a small town, I’d have to be really unhappy to choose a college campus. Living in a small town isn’t so bad. We can go wherever and do whatever everyone else does, it just takes a little longer to get to the city.

Okay, how about in an amusement park or in an airport?

I would probably choose an airport because they have a bar area where I can sit and write and enjoy the occasional drink.

And how about Ireland or Germany?

I would move to Ireland in an instant. From the country to the cities to the culture and the accent, everything in Ireland sounds completely amazing.

Who is your favorite 90’s band (I’m thinking Counting Crows, Blink 182, Hootie & the Blowfish)?

I honestly don’t have a favorite 90’s band. I was born in ’91 and didn’t really get interested in music until I was around twelve, and then it was more solo artists than bands. Hootie and the Blowfish were pretty good, though.

Are there any good bands out there today that we’ll talk about in 50 years?

I don’t know about everyone else, but I have several bands I’ll still love in fifty years: Rascal Flatts, The Band Perry, Lady Antebellum, Sugarland, Skillet. Probably a ton more.

And what about your favorite comedy on TV (My favorite is still The Office)?

I have to pick just one? Friends is my all-time favorite, followed by Roseanne, then Will and Grace (which is back, btw). If I’m picking from current shows it would be Will and Grace, The Good Place, The Ranch, and Grace and Frankie. Yep. I can’t pick just one.

Is there anything you’re currently working on?

I have a very long work in progress list. I have a young adult, science fiction novel I’m working on, I’m editing three short stories, I have to edit two young chapter book, I’m writing a young chapter book, there is another short story about mermaids I’m working on, and a ton more story plots that I have written down.

Who is your favorite author and if you could ask him/her one question, what would it be?

I have two favorite authors: Jodi Picoult and J.M. Ames. I would ask Jodi why, with so many credentials, did she choose writing as a career. I would ask J.M. why he waiting so long to become a writer, instead of starting as a teen like most of us.

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Lightning round:

Ocean or mountains?  Mountains

Yogurt or ice cream?  Ice Cream

Chocolate or Sour Candy?  Chocolate

Jimmy Fallon or Stephen Colbert? Jimmy Fallon

Happy or sad ending to a novel? Sad

Beer or wine?  Beer

Flying or driving?  Driving

Hemingway or Twain?  Hemingway

You’re stranded on a desert island, and you can take two things with you, as well as two people. What and who are you bringing?

I would bring a tarp to catch water so we don’t dehydrate, and matches to start fires to cook food. I would also bring my husband so he can hunt and tell me which plants were edible, and my dad so he could build us a boat to get off the island.

You’re able to sit down with any leader in world history. Who would you choose, what would you talk about, and would you rather have him/her over to your house, or meet at their place of royalty?

I would meet up with John F. Kennedy, who could have been America’s best president if given the chance. I would love to shake his hand and personally ask him what plans he had to make our country better. I would definitely meet at their place because I think my house may be too small for his security team.

You can wish for one thing and one thing only (not world peace and no more wishes). What’s it gonna be?

I would wish for the unlimited opportunity to travel where I want, when I want, for the rest of my, all expenses paid.

Author Bio

Donise Sheppard is a fiction writer born in Ohio, but residing in Southern West Virginia with her husband and four children. She has five self-published novels on Amazon including The Altered series, a short story published in A Haunting of Words titled “Coal Run Road”, a short story published in Tuck Magazine titled “Walk Tall”, and a short story titled “Broken” in the anthology Relationship Add Vice. When she isn’t writing, she’s reading, baking, or chasing her rambunctious children.

Donise on Twitter

Donise on Facebook

Donise on Amazon

 

Lily Alone, by Vivien Brown

I found the book to be different from anything I’ve read lately, and that is a good thing. Brown introduced just the right amount of characters and connected them nicely. My biggest qualm is that I would have liked to know more about the main characters. I give it 4 stars and recommend it if you like drama-type novels. It’s set in England, so that is an added plus as well.

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Meet The Author, Warren Alexander

Enjoy getting to know, Warren Alexander:

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Thank you for joining me today. Tell us in three words how you would best describe your writing.  

Funny, clever, nettlesome.

Your book, Cousin’s Club, was released in April 2017. Share a passage that you’d like for us to enjoy.

“Look! Here’s an envelope from Flora,” my mother said, “but it’s empty.”

“What’s the postmark?”

“Los Alamos, New Mexico.”

“Isn’t that where Davy Crockett died?”

You’ve been presented with the opportunity to be a best-selling author, but can never write again, or write forever, but never have a bestseller. Which scenario sounds more tempting?

I write, so I can write some more. I would be shocked if any novel of mine became a best-seller. In any event, I would refuse any Faustian arrangement.

If you could live on a college campus and never leave, or live in a small town but be able to travel, which one would you choose?

If you chose either Princeton, NJ or Berkeley, CA then you could have both.

Okay, how about in an amusement park or in an airport?

I found neither amusing nor comfortable.

And how about Ireland or Germany?

Very narrow and arbitrary choices. The Irish literary tradition is incalculable, especially when you consider their small population.

Who is your favorite 90’s band (I’m thinking Counting Crows, Blink 182, Hootie & the Blowfish)?

I am an old guy and like the oxymoronic category Classic Rock. So, in the same vein, I would take REM.  

Are there any good bands out there today that we’ll talk about in 50 years?

Is there a group called “I Haven’t A Clue.”

And what about your favorite comedy on TV (My favorite is still The Office)?

This is a subject I could actually speak about for days and never bore myself. Others surely, myself, no. I like comedies with an edge, wit, and with a large dash of irreverence. Of today’s lot, I like Larry David and Veep with Julia-Louise Dreyfus.

Is there anything you’re currently working on?

I am working on a satiric novel about business. It is my revenge after 45 years of working. I am also working on a short story about a saxophone player and a changing neighborhood.

Who is your favorite author and if you could ask him/her one question, what would it be?

Laurence Sterne. This is no one magic question or answer. And if you think there is, you will miss the last 50 years of your life.

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Lightning round:

Ocean or mountains?  

If I am on skis, the mountains, in a boat well…..

Yogurt or ice cream?  

When you start to hear kids scream after a ball game, “We want yogurt,” it is time to move to a cave.

Chocolate or Sour Candy?  

When was the last time someone said that they could not live without sour candy? Can you imagine bringing giving sour candies on Valentine’s Day? Now, there’s a guy who will be lonely for a while.

Jimmy Fallon or Stephen Colbert?

Colbert, Fallon is Late Night Lite.

Happy or sad ending to a novel?

I hate happy endings but sad endings must make sense.

Beer or wine?  

Diet Coke.

Flying or driving?  

Don’t own a car or a plane.

Hemingway or Twain?  

Twain. Wit and insight. Hemingway always gets in his own way with his macho BS. As time passes Hemingway will become more of a historical curiosity than a literary lion.

You’re stranded on a desert island, and you can take two things with you, as well as two people. What and who are you bringing?

Something better than a volleyball.  I would take my wife and someone who would know better than to recommend a diet of seaweed.

You’re able to sit down with any leader in world history. Who would you choose, what would you talk about, and would you rather have him/her over to your house, or meet at their place of royalty?

Nebuchadnezzar so I can ask him what his friends called him, but at his place because I doubt he would he would bring the right cookies. I would choose either Václav Havel or Nelson Mandela and ask the differences between being a dissident and the leader of the same nation.

You can wish for one thing and one thing only (not world peace and no more wishes). What’s it gonna be?

An appreciation of others.



Warren Alexander was born, raised, and still lives in New York City. He was identified as a cynic by his kindergarten teacher, and he honed this quality under the tutelage of Thomas Keneally, Peter Carey, and E. L. Doctorow at NYU, where he received his MA in creative writing. He recently came in second in Cutthroat’s fiction contest, judged by Michael Matrone. He is also a decorated photographer.