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Monday, June 18, 2012

Three New Books to Love

Yes. I've actually found the time to read again. I must have missed it, because I shot through three books in a week. Actually, I think the credit goes to the authors. I couldn't stop reading, laughing, or enjoying these wonderful novels. I take them in the order I read them. And I decided to do one review at a time to allow the book to soak up all the attention it deserves!

Ms. America and the Villainy in Vegas
Diana Dempsey
Available on Kindle, Amazon.co.uk, and Barnes and Noble

How can you not like a character named Happy Pennington, the daughter of a retired cop and the current reigning Ms. America? Well, I liked her! Add her sidekicks in crime-solving, fellow Beauty Queens Shanelle and Trixie, and a hunk named Mario Suave (yes!) and you have a fast-paced, funny, roller coaster ride through Vegas.

When Happy agreed to be a bridesmaid for snarky pageant-wear shop owner Sally Anne Gibbons, she wasn't counting on the skimpy bridesmaid's outfit. Or the ostrich feather tiara. Or the murder. Under the cover of a haze of pink smoke, the wedding's best man, Danny, is done in. The main suspect is Sally's fiancee, Frank, who is also the murder victim's uncle. Frank is definitely hiding something, as is Danny's indifferent girlfriend, Cassidy Flanagan. The more Happy finds out about Danny, the less sorry she is that he's been murdered. Still, Sally Anne deserves to have a groom for her wedding, so Happy is determined to discover the truth and clear Frank's name, and it doesn't hurt that Mario Suave, the mysterious, handsome pageant emcee is on hand to offer his assistance. Or does it? After all, Happy is a happily married woman.

I love that Ms. Dempsey nails her locations so you really feel as if you're there. When reading MS. AMERICA AND THE OFFING IN OAHU, I was craving a Mai Tai by the beach. In this second installment of the Beauty Queen Mysteries, I wanted an all night buffet and a glitzy show.

And as a girl without much interest or ability in fashion, I suddenly found myself wanting to learn makeup tips and practice walking with my shoulders back. That's a credit to the subtle details Ms. Dempsey includes in each book, from references to designer clothing and accessories to the occasional revelation that exposes the secrets behind Beauty Queen perfection.

The mystery was fun, and the ancillary characters, such as the abrasive Sally Anne and her friendly but furtive fiancee Frank, help carry the story to a grand finale. The characters remain lovable because they have family values (in the truest sense of the word) and none of them are superhuman. They fumble. They fall. They temporarily fail. Just as we would in the same position.

The Beauty Queen Mysteries are on my must read list, and I can't wait for the next installment.

Check out Diana Dempsey's website for info on the author and on other series and books that she writes. Hint: I'm just getting started on CHASING VENUS. Sound's like another winner!

Monday, June 4, 2012

Taking a Closer Look at Joseph's Wife with Anna Patricio (You'll Have to Guess Which Joseph)

Anna Patricio loves history. Especially ancient history. Her first book takes an imaginative look at a character you might not have given much though to. Joseph's wife, Asenath. That's Joseph as in the guy with the technicolor dream coat, second only to Pharaoh.A neat idea, as far as I'm concerned. And the book cover is very cool! 

It's a pleasure to have such a creative author with me. Welcome Anna!

Did you always want to be a writer?

I never imagined that I would write a novel. As cliche as this may sound, it's true. I have always wanted to write, actually. When I was a student, I would always get positive feedback from my teachers. This should have been encouraging, and for a moment it truly was.

However I had a problem with writing outside of school requirements, simply because I didn't know what it was that I wanted to write. I didn't know my passion, my niche. I would see other people scribbling or typing away effortlessly, producing mounds and mounds of literary works, and I envied them so much.

I tried my hand at several pieces though, mostly poems and short stories. I never attempted a novel, as I felt it was out of my league.Alas, these poems and short stories were rather - um - forced. They have since disappeared into oblivion.

When I graduated, I thought I would be anything *but* a writer. Not knowing what exactly I wanted to do, I tried several office jobs. But I never found satisfaction with them.

One day, I met a wonderful lady whose daughter is a published author. I read some of the daughter's novels. Then as I was leafing through the pages, for the first time, I began to think about how someone could devote so much time and effort into crafting a novel, while simultaneously deriving pleasure from it. And I wondered how it would be like to type out so many pages of one compelling story.

Some months later, on New Years, I got my laptop and began pounding out my own novel.

We've all heard about Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dream Coat, but not much is ever said about his wife. How did you decide to write about this pretty much unknown character in Biblical history?

Why Asenath? Well, I have actually wanted to write about her for the longest time. The story of Joseph is one of my favourites from the Bible. Somewhere along the way, I grew curious about his wife. When I looked her up, I found hardly anything on her. Thus, I began to imagine what she might have been like.

I had read some Biblical novels on Joseph before, but none of them really gave Asenath much attention. I then began playing around with ideas for an Asenath novel when I was at uni. In between my studies, I would type out random ideas and drafts. I remember one of the early drafts began with Pharaoh wedding Joseph and Asenath, followed by flashbacks of the two main characters' lives. I also once tried writing a draft in the middle of the story, but it didn't work for me.

It was only that New Years when I truly began writing the novel that is published today. Probably I wouldn't have thought to imagine Asenath's life if I hadn't been introduced to the wonderful world of historical fiction, thanks to an acquaintance. I developed an ancient history interest when I was in high school, and not long after, this acquaintance recommended to me Wilbur Smith's 'River God.' At that time, I never even knew there was such a thing as historical fiction, so I didn't know what to expect. But when I finally got a hold of 'River God,' I was smitten. It was then I discovered that people actually *do* speculate what ancient peoples might have been like, and I guess this is made possible seeing as there are a lot of gray areas in ancient history. The further back history is, the more scant the details are, the wider the gaps are. This is then where imagination comes in.

Thank you, Jackie, for having me here today.

The pleasure was mine. Check out Anna's website. Better still, you can order her books through Amazon and Kindle,  Barnes and Noble, Powell's and Abbey's Bookshop in Sydney, Australia.