BE MY GUEST: Author Interview: Christine Nolfi

With her fondness for great literary classics and her ability to write in a poetic style, she comes out as someone with class and culture. She oozes confidence with elegance in the way she talks, and a certain amount of maturity which comes with her unique life experiences such as adoption.

In my candid chat with her, she talks about her first book in the Liberty series, “Treasure Me” and gives a sneak peak of her upcoming books. Read on to find out her views on e-books, self-publishing, the role of book blogs in marketing and much more!

RG= Review Girl 
CN= Christine Nolfi 

RG: Why did you think of becoming a writer? Did some person or incident in life inspire you? Or you thought you had the germs to be a writer?

CN: Honestly, I can’t recall a time when I didn’t write. Poems. Short stories. Later, novels. After college, I owned a small public relations firm. But I was always moving toward the day when I’d write fiction.

Like all writers, I began with an insatiable hunger for books. When I was a child, I used to wander through libraries drawing my fingertips across the spines of books. I felt like I was touching other souls, reaching into other lives I would only know through their words. No one author inspired me. Many books, enjoyed over many years, did.

RG: What kind of books do you write?

CN: My novels fall under the wide umbrella of women’s fiction, with mystery and romantic elements. The Liberty books feature comedic elements, but my stand-alone novels rarely do.

RG: Why did you choose to write in those genres?

CN: The evolution came naturally from years of reading great literature. F. Scott Fitzgerald, Faulkner, Henry James—and modern authors like Sue Monk Kidd, Stephen King, Ann Patchett and Alice Walker. So many great writers. Each one, in his or her singular way, influenced my genesis from reader to writer. I owe a debt of gratitude to them all.

RG: What books have you published so far and what are they about?

CN: Treasure Me, the first book in the Liberty series, was released on Amazon in late April. It’s a blend of comedy, romance and mystery. Petty thief Birdie Kaminsky arrives in Liberty, Ohio to steal a treasure hidden since the Civil War. She’s in possession of a charming clue passed down in her family for generations: Liberty safeguards the cherished heart.

The beautiful thief wants to go straight. She secretly admires the clue’s author, freedwoman Justice Postell, who rose above the horrors of slavery to build a new life in Ohio. As Birdie searches for the treasure, she begins to believe a questionable part of the story: a tale of love between Justice and Lucas Postell, the French plantation owner who was Birdie’s ancestor.

If the stories are true, Justice bore a child with Lucas. Some of those black relatives might still live in town. Birdie can’t help but wonder if she’s found one—Liberty’s feisty matriarch, Theodora Hendricks, who packs a pistol and heartwarming stories about Justice. Birdie doesn’t know that an investigative reporter who has arrived in town will trip her up—as will her conscience when she begins to wonder if it’s possible to start a new life with stolen riches. Yet with each new clue she unearths, she discovers a family history more precious than gems, a tradition of love richer than she imagined.

“Second Chance Grill”, another book in the Liberty series, will appear on Amazon in this summer. It’s a “prequel” of sorts depicting the love story of Dr. Mary Chance, the town’s doctor, and Anthony Perini, a single dad with a very precious daughter. Of course the feisty women of Liberty—including Theodora Hendricks—will be featured. You’ll learn more about the “bad blood” between Theodora and Ethel Lynn Percible. Their battle was “fur and feathers” in Treasure Me; in “Second Chance Grill”, they’re even wilder.

The third novel in the series, “The Impossible Wish”, arrives on Amazon in late autumn. It’s the story of Birdie’s infamous mother, Wish Kaminsky. The hero and heroine of that novel are nothing like Birdie and Hugh: think “clutzy female scientist” and “Mad Greek.” And, heaven help us, the evil Wish kidnaps Theodora. Don’t make me give anything else away. I’m striving for laugh-out-loud comedy from start to finish.

The other two novels are stand-alone books that will appear on Amazon this summer. I’d tell you the titles but I keep changing them as I polish the chapters.

RG: If you could be one character from your book, who would you choose to be and why?

CN: Theodora Hendricks, Liberty’s elderly town matriarch and an important character in the series. She’s my inspiration of how I’d like to age—with fire and sass.

RG: Where do you get ideas for your stories and characters?

CN: Usually I get the kernel of an idea, a conflict, and the characters most apt to struggle with that particular issue begin to appear. In bits and pieces. It’s rather like moulding a sculpture from clay, with the final result hidden for many months.

RG: List 5 suggestions/writing tips for those who want to venture into writing fiction.

1) Read often, and across genres.

2) Polish each draft relentlessly.

3) Join a critique group.

4) Read books on craft, and strive to improve.

5) Make time for your art every day, if only for twenty minutes. 

RG: Do you think that book blogs play a vital role in getting the books across to readers?

CN: Of all the changes arising in publishing, book blogs are among the most important. Think about it: avid readers now create blogs that quickly blossom from several followers to several thousand. Who is better equipped to vet books than avid readers?

Big publishers no longer decide what readers will read. You do, every time you post a book review.

RG: Printed books vs. E-books. What’s your take on this?

CN: Digital publishing offers a marvelous opportunity for talented authors—especially authors who don’t fit easily into a traditional genre—to reach the reading public. My career path is a case in point. A division of Penguin considered bringing Treasure Me, and the upcoming Liberty books, out in hardcover. Earlier, Random House was interested in “Second Chance Grill”. 

In both instances, the editors were flummoxed. Were the books women’s fiction or romance? Or something else? The prose was close to literary, with cozy mystery elements and snappy dialogue thrown into the mix. Given the financial investment a publishing house makes releasing a debut novelist, it is understandable why both editors were hesitant. They weren’t sure, exactly, how to promote my novels.

That said, I don’t believe traditional books will ever disappear. Don’t we all love the scent of a newly printed book? The affordability of e-books has certainly increased readership, but a segment of the public will always prefer print books.

RG: List 5 advantages of self-publishing.

CN: There are so many benefits of self-publishing:

1) Complete editorial control over your work.

2) Fast response from readers positively impacts your work-in-progress

3) Control over cover art

4) When your books begin to sell, you receive royalty payments quickly

5) Social media and writing connections allow you to control--and increase--the buzz around your career. 

RG: List 5 disadvantages of self-publishing.

CN: Some minuses would be:

1) Time spent writing your next novel diminishes as marketing chores increase.

2) Creating a “buzz” around your books isn’t a job you can foist on a publishing house’s marketing department. 

3) Worrying about the design and impact of your cover art.

4) Staying organized as you write, edit, promote and work with a book designer.

5) Finding time for family and friends as your career takes off.

RG: How much time did it take for you to complete this book? What was your routine for writing?

CN: Some novels are written in eight months; others take several years to perfect. My writing routine stems from my previous career in public relations: rise early, write until noon, and then head for the gym. After working out, I polish the morning’s pages.

Picture Perfect: Christine with her children
RG: How do you balance your family life and your writing commitments?

CN: Lately, not well! The positive response to Treasure Me has been overwhelming. My four adult children and my fiancé have been very understanding. I’d tell you everything will settle down soon but, with “Second Chance Grill” heading to Amazon this summer, it wouldn’t be true.

RG: Are you inspired by any particular author? Who is your favourite author?

CN: I don’t have a favorite author and inspiration comes from many sources. The sheer number of talented authors working today is astonishing.

RG: Among other author’s books, any character which you could relate to and you will always remember? What was the character about and how could you relate to it?

CN: The abuse suffered by Celie, the poor, uneducated black narrator of “The Color Purple”, will always haunt me. Three pages into Alice Walker’s masterpiece, and I was in tears. Later in the novel, her triumph over hardship becomes one of the most moving passages in literature. A truly stellar book.

RG: I believe that there are only two categories of books: good books and bad books. In your opinion, what are the qualities of a “good book”?

CN: Depth of characterization. Flawless execution of plot. Succinct, creative prose and a relentless pursuit of editorial perfection. Great books are also character-driven.

Time for some fun questions! 

RG: How do you relax when you have free time?

CN: I’ve been a single mother for many years now. “Free time” comes at a premium. I’ve learned to exercise daily and reserve the weekends for my family. I love to cook, garden, visit museums, dance … and, of course, read. Everything from “The Economist” and “Scientific American” magazines to the latest novel that catches my eye.

RG: Complete these sentences: 

· Love is …devotion, tenderness, kindness and trust.

· Life is …fast, fleeting, precious—a gift.

· Sex is …commitment … and a worry when your children reach adolescence.

· Marriage is… a leap of faith, especially when you’ve experienced the heartache of divorce.

RG: Thank you for such a lovely interview! It was a great pleasure having you on my blog. Wish you all the best for your upcoming books as well as your current book.

To read my detailed review of her book,"Treasure Me", click here.

About the Author:

Christine Nolfi owned a small public relations firm in Cleveland, Ohio. Her articles and press releases have appeared regionally in northeast Ohio. Her short story, Night Hour, has appeared in Working Mother magazine. Christine closed the firm fifteen years ago after she traveled to the Philippines and adopted a sibling group of four children. She has been writing novels fulltime since 2004.

To know more about her and her writing, visit her blog: http://christinenolfibooks.blogspot.com/

 To buy her book on Amazon, click here.


Book Review: Treasure Me

Book: Treasure Me

Genre: Romantic Comedy/Mystery/ Contemporary Fiction

Author: Christine Nolfi

Cover Critique:

The cover is somewhat straight-forward and simple like a textbook with dull colors. It gives me an impression that I picked one of the books from the classical literature section. I am saying it as a good thing because I am fond of classics! I like the cover as it is well-fitted to the theme of the book but it needs to be perked up a little.


A ‘bold and beautiful’ female thief named Birdie and a nosy but handsome investigative journalist Hugh come together in this sizzling romantic comedy as they uncover the mystery of the treasure left by Birdie’s ancestors. In this “peel the onion” kind of mystery, each chapter unfolds one layer after another in the form of clues. As Birdie gathers all the clues to hunt the family treasure, lots of other ambiguities emerge to the surface. With many twists and turns that follow in the story, the complexities grow as the plot thickens!

While she works as a part-time waitress in old town Liberty’s restaurant, “The Second Chance Grill”, she gains trust and support from her newly made friends, keeping her actual identity and motive ‘a secret’ from the people of Liberty. But how long will she be able to keep her criminal instincts a secret? Will Birdie succeed in finding the treasure: bags full of precious gems? Or Is she going to be exposed by someone whom she dared to trust? Will she be able to leave the life of a criminal and start afresh? Most importantly, will she learn to trust her guts and build relationships? There is thrill, there is adventure and of course, there is romance!

The story starts with the main character, Birdie Kaminsky pick pocketing an old guy and running away from him, finally landing at her tiny apartment and managing to escape with the help of her good-hearted neighbours. Soon we see her setting off to Ohio, to a small town named Liberty. The writer uses “flashback” technique to tell the readers about her family background. She belongs to a family of con artists and criminals. Her mother, Wish Kaminsky lures rich gullible men and then vanishes with all their wealth to a far off place.

The writer lends an emotional touch to her character showing that even a thief has a heart. Birdie longs for family and friends and affection which she could never get in her childhood as she got dragged along with her mother from one town to another, stealing and running heists. But unlike her mother, she wants to settle down in her life and leave illegal stuff. Thus, the reader starts to feel sympathetic towards her.

She is hoping to gain a lot of wealth very soon (as she sets off to Liberty to discover the family treasure) to fulfill her dream of living a normal life. But even this shortcut is filled with many hurdles which she has to pass to reach the jackpot! She has just got one clue with her, “Liberty safeguards the cherished heart” and that she is somehow related to freedwoman of Civil War, Justice Postell whose picture she finds hung on the wall of the restaurant, “The Second Chance Grill”.

Things get a lot spicy with the entry of cynical journalist Hugh, who also comes to this restaurant to expose a scam for his next article. The plethora of engaging characters, each holding their charm and uniqueness work as perfect catalysts to advance the story. We come to know angry cook Finney, easy-going waitress Delia, the ever-amusing Theodora, wise teenager Blossom, depressed father Landon, strict boss Bud and several other secondary characters. The igniting chemistry between the hero and heroine of the story is a treat to watch as the novel advances towards its end.

As I started reading the first chapter, I felt that this book is not going to be an ordinary book, because of the ways in which the writer uses “literary techniques” at her disposal. Starting the book with a female thief doing a lot of ‘action’, gave me an adrenaline rush which I think is a perfect start to the story. The mood for some thrills and excitement is set right from the start! It definitely grabbed me and I was turning pages fast to find out what happens next.

There is a lot of “dramatic visualization” to describe the characters of Theodora and Hugh as well as Birdie which made me feel as if the reel is going on in my mind and I could imagine in great picturesque detail, what they were doing. The writer gets into the skin of the characters which pulls the reader close to the characters in spite of their faults and eventually you come to like them. The characters made me laugh, cry, feel sorry for them, despise them, get angry at them as they go all berserk, but most of all, I loved them!

The writer has a perfect blend of words when it comes to define characters, incidents and even beautiful scenery. For example, there is so much poetic beauty in these lines:

“A moist haze settled over the countryside reflected through the glass. Sunlight pooled in orange puddles beneath the hills as the blue of night bled into the horizon.” 

What an amazing vivid imagery! The writer does not shy away from using  metaphors and personification whenever it is required to highlight the intensity of the scenes. We see that there are sparks flying all over the place as Hugh and Birdie collide with each other. To describe the sexual tension between the two, the writer describes Hugh’s desire for Birdie in these lines:

“He was a red blooded male, which meant he was hardwired with the need to bed her. So his programming was infected with a bad case of lust. Emotionally, he was the Sahara Desert."

The writer uses “back-story” in the form of narration, dialogue, and even recollection to take out all the pieces of the puzzle before putting them together and placing them one by one to complete the maze. This is probably one of the reasons that in spite of so many characters, the reader does not feel lost or confused. There is not one boring line or sequence. The chapters are long but the advancement of the story is faced-paced with a lot of activity to keep the reader engaged. The only thing which the book needs is re-editing as it suffers from a few typos, other than that, I do not think that there is any loophole in story or form.

I think this book was out-an-out entertaining and I won’t be surprised if this series becomes a regular drama series on television or turns into a Hollywood project. There! I said it! Highly recommended due to great plot, excellent writing style (which proves great writers do not need traditional publishing methods to succeed!) and of course, the tangy witty banter between Hugh and Birdie!

Review Girl Rating: 9.5/10

“I would like to thank Christine Nolfi for sending me a copy of her book, “Treasure Me” for the purpose of reviewing it on my blog. To know the review rules and policy, click here. To buy this book, click here.”


BE MY GUEST: Author Interview: Meredith Cagen

In her own words, she is “smart, sweet, sexy, sassy and stubborn”, need I say more? Let’s find out what she has to say about her book, Size Eight in a Size Zero World and the craziest thing she has ever done in her life. Want to know more? Then, read my candid conversation with her!

RG = Review Girl
MC=Meredith Cagen

RG: Why did you think of becoming a writer? Did some person or incident in life inspire you or you thought you had the germs to be a writer?

MC: I returned to school to obtain a Bachelors of Science in Nursing, years after completing my MBA. It was daunting. The first time I sat down to study for an exam, I had funny ideas racing through my head. I had a difficult time focusing and actively started daydreaming. I couldn’t concentrate, so I went with the flow and wrote down all those funny, random thoughts, fantasies and mis-adventures.

They were based on how I got into my current predicament. I looked back on choices I made: the good, the bad and the fiascos! My friends were sharing personal stories with me telling me that I incorporated into my madness. The writing didn’t stop until Size Eight in a Size Zero World was completed.

RG: Since your book is an “NYC lit” based on the style of “Sex and the City”, why did you choose this setting for your story? 

MC: I write what I know about. I have lived and worked in New York City all my life. My friends and I go on adventures throughout the City. It adds color and a background for the story. The story is universal in nature and can happen anywhere.

RG: The story of “Size Eight in a Size Zero World” resembles similarities with your life. What are those elements (characters/story) in your book, which can be related to your life as well?
MC: Like Lindsay, the main character in my book, I am married with two children and live in a luxury high rise building. One of my dogs is named Digby! Like all working housewives I possess great multi-tasking skills. First time authors tend to write what they are familiar with. My book is fiction, but it contains adaptations of my personal experience and my friends’. An incident might have happened, but not to me, and I adapted it to a specific character. There are strong autobiographical elements in the book. The readers have to guess what is real and what is imagination! Unlike my protagonist, Lindsay, I only fantasize. I couldn’t imagine doing what she does.

RG: If you could be one character from your book, who would you choose to be and why?

MC: “The Man Upstairs”, he leads a charmed life. Everyone wants to be him.

RG: What inspired you to decide on this story and characters for your first book, “Size Eight in a Size Zero World”?

MC: A little madness and lots of poetic license.

RG: Did you face “writer’s block” while completing this book? If yes, what did you do to overcome it?

MC: Once I got started the story seemed to write itself.

RG: Are you planning to write a sequel to this book? Are any other books of yours in process?

MC: No, I never planned on writing this book. I am writing bits and pieces of stories which reflect back to the characters I created in the book. These characters are friends I have difficulty saying goodbye to. Who knows what the future holds for them! 

RG: List 5 suggestions/writing tips for those who want to venture into writing fiction.
MC: My tips would be:

· Enjoy your imagination

· Write down any and all ideas

· Daydreams are a plethora of content

· Follow your gut

· Believe in your story

RG: Do you think that book blogs play a vital role in getting the books across to readers?

MC: Book blogs are an online marketing tool. It’s difficult to get attention for a new book. Book blogs are one way. But the blogger needs to attract dedicated following. It’s all about “capturing eyeballs.”

RG: Printed books vs. E-books. What’s your take on this?
MC: Print books will become like landline telephones. A few people will hold on to them and refuse to get mobile phones. Ebooks are the future.

RG: Since you are a self-published author, tell us why you decided to go for this, instead of traditional publishing?
MC: I became a control freak. 

RG: List some advantages of self-publishing. 

MC: These would be:

· Maintaining creative control.

· Taking total responsibility for the work

· Control of the timetable

RG: List some disadvantages of self-publishing.

MC: Some disadvantages would be:

· PR is more challenging to obtain

· Universally not respected

· Increases the difficulty of getting PR

· Quality of work may not be consistent

RG: How much time did it take for you to complete this book?
MC: It was two years, off and on. 

RG: What was your routine for writing?
MC: My creative process, when an idea hit I wrote it down. It was random and I would get ideas at any time, even in my sleep.

RG: How do you balance your family life and your writing commitments?
MC: It’s easy because they understand when I need to write something down.

RG: Are you inspired by any particular author? Who is your favourite author?

MC: Dan Brown is a genius with “Angels and Demons” and “The Da Vinci Code.” Phillipa Gregory amazes me with her books, my favorite is “The Queen’s Fool.”

I love thrillers when the author mixes actual/historical and fictitious events. The mix enables me to read about mysteries with a compelling storyline. If done correctly, like “Da Vinci Code”, I learn a lot about history.

Since everyone on this planet has read Dan Brown’s books, Philippa Gregory’s books takes a minor or imaginary historical character, who is witnessing great historical events such as the comings and goings of King Henry VIII’s wives, power plays in the Tudor kingdoms.

Lost Horizon by James Hilton, the romance, the idealism, the dream, the sadness of loss and the quest to regain what you lost. The idea of a utopian society, a panacea… appeals to my soul and sense of fairness. “…the meek shall inherit the earth.”
It moves me!

RG: Among other author’s books, any character which you could relate to and you will always remember? What was the character about and how could you relate to it? 

MC: Bridget Jones, I can relate to her weight and men struggles. She is a flawed, non-perfect character. Welcome to me!

RG: I believe that there are only two categories of books: good books and bad books. In your opinion, what are the qualities of a “good book”?
MC: A good book makes me want to turn the page. I force myself not to cheat and read the ending. A good book is a journey. When you reach the ending and resolution the read is over. When I finished the Twilight Books, I went through reading withdrawl.

Time for some fun questions! 

RG: Share with us your favourite childhood memory.
MC: I could eat anything, chocolate, candy, cake, junk food and not gain weight.

RG: Tell us about the craziest thing you ever did in your life. 

MC: Many choices, falling in love with a bad boy, singing karaoke, wearing a swimsuit, dreaming big.

RG: How do you relax when you have free time?
MC: Drinking wine with the girls, shopping therapy, surfing online, watching bad TV.

RG: Who is Meredith Cagen? Describe your personality in 5 words.

MC: Smart, sweet, sexy, sassy, stubborn

RG: Complete these sentences:

· Love is… a four letter word.........and complicated.
· Life is… what you make it.
· Sex… is stimulating.
· Marriage… is a legal institution.

RG: Thank you for such a delightful interview. It was a pleasure having you on my blog. Wish you all the best for your book! 

To read my detailed review of her book, click here.

About the Author:

Meredith Cagen is a working wife and mother who dreams of a self cleaning apartment and calorie free food. She yearns for the day when sitting on her derriere will be considered a form of exercise. Meredith is passionate about her book, Size Eight in a Size Zero World and New York City. To know more about her and her book, visit her website: http://www.sizezeroworld.com/

To buy her book, go to these links: 

Visit her on Facebook by clicking on the links below: 


Book Review: Size Eight in a Size Zero World

Book: Size Eight in a Size Zero World

Genre: Chick Lit/ Contemporary Fiction/ Women’s Fiction

Author: Meredith Cagen

Cover Critique:
The cover is so stylish. With fashionable ladies gracing the cover, it perfectly matches the women-centric theme set in the backdrop of posh NYC. Very apt and convincing! It has got this "Ooo la la" factor and I like it!


This is a story of a thirty-something married working woman, Lindsay Chandler. She lives on the Upper East Side of New York, in a posh apartment, with two school going children (Kristen and Jake) and her husband, Grant. To complete this picture perfect family, they have a dog as well, named Digby. But the truth is that her life is not as perfect as it looks. Being a misfit among the trophy wives of rich men, she yearns for a life of meaning and a burning desire to fill the vacuum inside her. We see that her relationship with her husband is as chaotic as it can get and we learn that she is extremely unhappy and craves for her husband’s care, love and attention.

On the other hand, her husband does not only have a “don’t give a damn” attitude towards her and kids but is also filled with egotistical male-chauvinistic demands, which he expects (rather orders) Lindsay to fulfil. Lindsay not only performs all household chores but also her job, which do keep her occupied but not enough to fill the emptiness in her married life. When she encounters a handsome bachelor (addressed in the novel as, “The Man Upstairs”) living in the building, she starts to fall for his physical charm, much like a “desperate wife” hungry for attention. An extra-marital affair starts and the reader is taken on a whirlwind of relationship problems, lust, love, temptations, social taboos and a journey of self-discovery for Lindsay.

If you are thinking that it is just another chick lit with a non-serious, superficial story, then you are wrong. The story can be read on many levels. The title serves double meaning: apparent and underlying. The apparent meaning is of course about the physical appearance of Lindsay which does not match the Upper East Side ladies who are thin, one-dimensional and blonde. But underlying meaning would be that she is like an outsider; a misfit in the shallow world of trophy wives.

The novel beautifully narrates the story of a woman who wants to re-invent herself and her failing marriage gives her the golden opportunity to analyse her self-worth and potential. On this journey of self-discovery, with the support of her friends, she finally comes to understand the complicated world of adult relationships and masked personalities which make her realise that she was living in a world of illusions and day-dreams.

The novel is written from the point of view of female protagonist and the opening chapters are filled with her constant whining about house chores, her husband’s indifference to her needs and her wish to land on a better job profile. While Lindsay’s complaints irritated me a little, they did not put me off at all. On the contrary, the novel hooked me from the beginning and made me want to know how her character develops and grows in the coming chapters. As the dilemma of Lindsay’s marital life is laid in front of the reader from the start, the theme of the novel gets wide and clear with all its complexities that are sure to follow.

The writer keeps the chapters short yet meaningful as we witness a whole lot of activity going on from first chapter till the last. So, as the pace does not slow down at any point of the story, it keeps the reader totally absorbed. Half-way through the story, I was so much engrossed in Lindsay’s character, that I could feel and imagine what she was going through in her life. In spite of its mature and complex story line, the writer does not digress from the plot, which is extremely remarkable!

There is also a lot of thought put into the secondary characters. There is quirky Jodee (her friend who is more like her sister), sex-expert Tanya (who is her best friend and a great aunt to her kids), helpful guy Ryan, smart kids, her compulsive mother and a very loud father. While the character of “The Man Upstairs” is complete and original and other characters are also believable, surprisingly the character of Grant is the epitome of all-bad, so much so that it looks fake and plastic! Since the story is told from first person’s POV and the readers see characters from Lindsay’s eye, it is justified to an extent. Overall, it is a smartly written book.

The ending of the book is bound to make you happy, but I will not spoil it for you. Read to find out what she decides for her future life. I will recommend it to all, especially working mothers and housewives who can empathise and maybe even learn something from Lindsay’s story. The readers get a glimpse of modern lifestyle and the changing rules of marital relationships in this social satire. A well-rounded novel which is worth a read!

Review Girl Rating: 8/10

“I would like to thank Meredith Cagen for sending me a free copy of her book, “Size Eight in a Size Zero World” for the purpose of reviewing it on my blog. To know the review rules and policy, click here. To buy this book on Amazon, click here.”


BE MY GUEST: Blogger Interview: Christine

@The Review Girl

Blogger: Christine Weber

With yet another blogger interview, I am here to give you a glimpse into the mind of a fellow blogger. This time, it’s funny Christine, who is making me smile (read as "laugh"!) with her witty answers. What are you waiting for? Read on and enjoy (preferably with a cup of hot mocha)!

RG= Review Girl 
CW= Christine Weber

RG: Tell us about yourself

CW: I’m a writer/blogger who believes that (a) mermaids exist, (b) lattes are the nectar of the fairy gods, (c) we are all part of this world for a larger purpose (involving acts of compassion and investing in others), (d) eating is a legitimate hobby, and (e) one should keep one’s throwing knives polished at all times in the event that Voldemort does, in fact, exist. Oh, and my friends call me Mary. *smiles*

RG: Why blogging?

CW: It’s all part of my ultimate plan to take over the world.

RG: Sounds like a wicked plan! *laughs* On the serious note, what is your blog about? 

CW: Books I love, authors I adore, and food I obsess over.

RG: I noticed some really tempting recipes on your blog. Do you post your family recipes or do you select them from some other source like cook books /websites etc? 

CW: When it comes to the blog, all my recipes are from family or friends. Except for the “cooking with dog” recipe, of course. *smirks*

RG: You also do discussions on your blog. How do you conduct them?

CW: I love blog discussions! They’re perfect for allowing us, as readers, to indulge in a variety of perspectives and challenge our own perceptions of a book. These discussions happen via facebook, email, or simply in the comments below the posts. Anyone is welcome—the more, the merrier!

RG: I could not agree more! I think the best way to interact with readers is discussions. I have set up a poll especially to know what my readers think, and then whenever I publish the results along with my opinion, it ends up in a discussion. So much fun! Okay, tell me about the layout/design/title of your blog. 

CW: Okay, so the title is based upon that whole “take over the world” thing I referred to above. What it should probably say is “A Ridiculously Uncoordinated Girl Plotting to Take Over Make-believe Worlds through Books, Handstands, and Imaginary Throwing Knives,” but I just went with “A Girl & Her Books.” As far as the layout and design, I’m probably the most un-tech-savvy person you’re likely to meet. It’s embarrassingly true. So when I went to start up the blog, a web-designer friend offered to create it if I sent him the text, specifications, photos, etc. I gave those to him, plus free rein, and he took it from there. The moral? Never underestimate the pity of an awesome, smart, web person.

RG: Oh, I think we are similar in that way! I don’t know a thing about graphics, maybe that’s why my blog looks so simple (design wise). Whatever you see, is all my humble effort. *sighs* Before I digress further, tell my readers why you chose to review literary fiction genre?

CW: The gorgeous writing and characterizations.

RG: How do you define a great novel? What qualities should it have? 

CW: A believable voice. Excellent writing. Plotting I’ll buy into. Characters I can climb inside. An internal sense of justice. Basically, let me see, taste, and breathe an evocative adventure through another’s skin, and you’ve got me.

RG: What do you enjoy more in a novel: beginnings or endings?

CW: The ending! For as much as I adore adventure, I want to know we’re headed somewhere worth my time.

RG: Your all time favourite book is... 

CW: Baroness Orczy’s The Scarlet Pimpernel. I first read it as a preteen and have consumed the novel at least 10 times since. It’s quite the perfect combination of intrigue, adventure, and yummy European accents.

RG: Your favourite character from any book and why?

CW: Dorothy Sayers’ Lord Peter Wimsey. He’s British. He’s charming. He drinks tea in the bath.

RG: Hmmm..I see a lot of British inclination here! *wink* List one blog you read first thing in the morning. 

CW: Chuck Sambuchino’s Guide to Literary Agents blog. Not only is his stuff informational for writers, but he has an awesome sense of humor and a cookie fetish.

RG: List 5 tips for fellow bloggers on how they can improve their blog.

1. Be consistent (pick a frequency and stick with it).

2. Be gracious (don’t take it personally, whatever “it” is at the time).

3. Be social (visit and glean from other bloggers).

4. Be sure to run a spell check.

5. Be yourself (because we’ll love you)!

RG: Well said! I think last one is the most important! The rest follows! What are the upcoming attractions on your blog?

CW: The one I’m most excited about is a hilarious author interview. I can’t disclose who it’s with yet; only that it’ll make you laugh.

RG: I gather you are an aspiring author, what kind of book are you writing and what is the story?

CW: Oh dear, where to start.... Um, how about I just sum it up by saying: Monsters? Check. Maiden? Check. A hot guy? Check. The world hanging by a thread? Well…isn’t it always? *winks*

Time for some fun! 

RG: Complete these sentences: 

My favourite lipstick is...
Okay, so I *blushingly* have to admit that I can’t remember the last time I wore lipstick. However, I am quite the chapstick fiend. Does that count?

One gadget I couldn’t do without is... my espresso machine.

My favourite place in my house is... my writing nook in the dining room. Sunny, warm, and close to said espresso machine.

For fabulous shoes, I go to... anywhere I can buy a cheap pair of beach sandals. (I live in California.)

I love the scent of Angel by VS.

CW: Thanks very much for the interview! You’ve got a fabulous blog and a lovely style about you.

RG: Oh! That is so sweet of you! It was great fun having you on my blog!

To visit Christine’s blog, click here.


BE MY GUEST: On Writing Fiction by Author Samantha Bayarr

@The Review Girl

Samantha is one of those versatile writers who know how to please their readers. I caught up with her to know what makes her choose different genres of fiction. I told her that many of my readers are aspiring writers, who would love to know the craft of writing “fiction”. So, in today’s guest post, she is here to share with all of you, the whys and hows of writing fiction, the rules she swears by and how it feels to be an indie author. Read on! 

Guest Post:

On Writing Fiction

By Author: Samantha Bayarr

Why and How I Write:

I have been referred to by my friends and fellow writers as a sort of “writing savant” because of the way I write and the different genres that appeal to me as a writer. New books come to me almost on a daily basis, and it doesn’t take much for the ideas to flow. Once I come up with an idea for a book, the entire book, including the last line, is in my head and I can never seem to get it down into my computer fast enough. Though I am a very fast typist, my mind reels at warp speed and if I don’t write something each day, my busy mind will interrupt my sleep with ideas.

At the present time, I am writing five different books in the following genres: Paranormal Romance, Time Travel Romance, Chick Lit, Amish Romance, Young Adult Fantasy, and I just finished a Young Adult Paranormal Novella.

Most people write one genre that they are comfortable with. I write several different genres because so many subjects interest me, and I happen to have a very big imagination. I like to challenge myself in my writing, and I love to take my readers on unlikely journeys. For instance, my first Amish Romance, Little Wild Flower, is about a hippie chick in the 1970’s who falls for the Amish boy next door after her family moves to an Amish community as a respite for her alcoholic mother.

Most of my books come to my mind when I look at photographs, sometimes for potential book covers. For other people, it’s the other way around. They think of a book, write the book, and then they go hunting for a picture or illustration that fits their book. I do the exact opposite! For my first paranormal novel, The Apothecary, the idea for the book came to me when I was looking at a 100 year old photograph of three children that I’d found in an antique store. I looked into their faces and wondered who they were and what their lives were like; since I didn’t know, I reinvented them.

The same holds true for my recently published novella, Grave Robbers. I came across the picture while searching stock photos for a book trailer. When I saw the picture of that little girl with a dirty hand clamped over her mouth, I knew she had gotten herself into some trouble. So, in my imagination, she became twelve-year-old Charlie—a jewelry-stealing grave robber.

To me, there is nothing worse than reading a book that feels like the author was bored with the subject when he or she wrote it. Those are the books people put down and don’t recommend to their friends. I want my books to be as interesting to my readers as they were to me when I wrote them.

My Rules of Writing:

My first rule of writing is always to set goals. When a new book idea hits me, I set a goal of how long it can reasonably take me to write it. After deciding how long I want the book to be, I do the math and divide the number of words the book will contain by how many words I can reasonably write per day, and the end result is an approximation of the book’s release date. I don’t recommend this method for the faint at heart, because it takes discipline, and determination. As evidenced by the fact I have written and published eight books in the last ten months.

A second rule to observe would be: if you’re bored or hit a stumbling point, move to the next project. I write several different books at the same time, and often write several chapters in the same book at the same time (this helps to keep your time-lines straight). I may write in one book for several days straight, then, move to another book as the ideas flow. I don’t know how people can stand to write one book from start to finish. In my mind, I assume that’s what causes writer’s block!

Last, but not least, yield the advice of those that have gone before us. They all say two things:

1. Keep a notebook handy—in case of inspiration.

I have several. I keep one for general ideas and new titles that come to me when I’m busy with something else (or trying to sleep). But the most important notebook I keep is the one that I use WHILE I’m writing. If I’m writing, and an idea to twist the plot occurs to me, I write it down immediately—mostly because I can usually write 5,000 or more words per day, and I don’t want to stop in the middle of a writing jaunt because I usually have to continue writing until my brain is emptied for the day!

2. Throw away your thesaurus.

No one wants to have to keep a dictionary on them when they’re reading your book. I’ve found the best way to gauge this is to write the same way you speak. And unless you make a habit of stopping midsentence to look for a bigger word for what you are trying to convey, you shouldn’t do it with your writing.

Being an Indie Author:

I published my first book in August of 2010, and currently have eight books published, with a goal of publishing a minimum of five more before the end of this year. I’ve observed the release of books by fellow authors that are in contract with big publishers, and I see that they publish only ONE book per year! That would drive me absolutely mad!

I have several book ideas of different genres in my head at any given time. Being limited to one book per year in one specific genre would not only prohibit my creativity, but would slow my career to a pace I could never tolerate. As an Indie Author, you can go at your own pace, and the sky is literally the limit if you go by this route.

About the Author: 

Samantha Jillian Bayarr is the founder/owner of Livingston Hall Publishers. Working in the production aspect of publishing has provided her with the expertise needed to produce, develop and design books from the inside out. When it came time to publish her own work, her experience in the field lent her the ability to produce several genres such as: Urban Fantasy, Paranormal, Young Adult Fantasy, Time Travel Romance, Chick Lit, and Amish Romance. 

To know more about her and her books, visit her blog: http://livingstonhallpublishers.blogspot.com/
To buy her books, click here.


Blogger Interview


EXCLUSIVE FEATURE: Celebrity Review: Cameron Diaz


Artist: Cameron Diaz

Career: Film Actress/ Model

Cameron’s Persona:

Spunky, feisty and funky; she is one sexy blonde we all love so much. Who wouldn’t like a charismatic personality topped with dazzling blue-eyes and an infectious smile? She oozes a perfect blend of style and attitude with a cool and hip quotient, that manifests in her modelling as well as in her onscreen chemistry with male co-stars. Besides being incredibly gorgeous and stunning, she looks impulsive and natural, totally at ease flirting with the camera. That is why, in spite of having that goddess-like beauty, she still holds that “girl-next-door” charm. 

In her modelling career, stretched over a long period, she has worked with top designers such as Calvin Klein and Levi’s while working with top modelling agency Elite, and appeared as a cover girl for many prestigious fashion magazines such as GQ, ELLE and FHM, to name a few. She is also one of those female stars who have not shied away from flaunting their perfectly toned body and has given numerous shots  in bikini, both in films and magazines.
Oh-so-proudly embracing the mantra, "if you have got it, flaunt it!"
She has appeared in top rankings many times in FHM’s “100 Sexiest Women in the World” list as well as topped Maxim’s “Hot 100 of 2005” list. She was also chosen by People’s magazine as one of the “50 Most Beautiful People in the World”. With all the glitz and glamour of stardom, she comes out as a down-to-earth and fun loving girl with a carefree attitude. In one of her interviews, she was quoted as saying, "I'm like every other woman: a closet full of clothes, but nothing to wear: So I wear jeans."  

Cover Girl, Cameron! 

   Cameron’s Acting:

Apart from tall, lean and highly desired athletic body which made her a sought-after model, she has proved her immense talent in acting. Yes! She is a beauty with brains! Appearing as the leading lady in her debut movie, The Mask (1994), opposite none other than Jim Carrey, she convinced the moviemakers that she had the potential to become a superstar. And she was right!

She not only became the second highest paid actress (after Julia Roberts) who received a whopping sum of 20 million dollars (for Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle) but also one of the most successful and “in-demand” Hollywood film actresses in next few years. Even after working in tons of movies over the years, among which most of them have been super hit films, she is still going strong. Well, her fan base is huge so we can safely say that this diva is absolutely enjoying the perks of being a celebrity!

She has become the heart throb of millions with her flirtatious and sensual moves. Yes, you guessed it right! I am talking about her dancing shots, which are seen in almost every movie (I don’t think I need to remind you all, about that girl dancing seductively in The Mask).
Image taken from her debut movie, "The Mask"
She starts to deliver one hit after another, picking diverse roles to showcase her versatile acting, from sweet rom-com There’s something about Mary (1998) to funny action film, Charlie’s Angels (2000). Her other noteworthy work comes as the voice of Fiona in animation film series, Shrek.

We witnessed a lot of growth in Cameron as an actress with more mature, performance-oriented roles in movies such as, In her Shoes (2005) and My Sister’s Keeper (2009). Now, after her recent films, “Knight and Day” and “The Green Hornet” have crashed miserably at the Box Office; she refuses to give up and prepares to woo the audience once again with her ready-to-release comedy film, “Bad Teacher (2011)”. The trailer looks promising, but we still need to wait a little, before deciding its fate at the Box Office. Flop or hit, one thing is for sure, her loyal fans will keep on waiting desperately for Cameron, to ignite the silver screen once again with her magnetic presence.

Overall, while she cannot be compared to highly respected actresses in the industry like Meryl Streep, she clearly passes the test for being one of the “good” actresses among contemporary heroines. Just one very obvious suggestion for Cameron: There is always room for improvement! So, if you are thinking to stick around for further couple of years in the industry, you need to bring back the spark that was felt in “The Mask”! Re-invent yourself!

Review Girl Rating: 8/10

Review Girl’s Top 5 Cameron’s movies:

My Best Friend’s Wedding
In this classic romantic comedy, Diaz plays Kimberly, a rich girl going to marry a guy who has pretty strong ties with his best female friend, Julianne (played by Julia Roberts). Diaz gives a strong performance as a supporting actress against leading lady, Julia Roberts.

Charlie’s Angels
Diaz stars as one of the three “Angels” who work as private investigators for Charlie, a mysterious millionaire. She performs some kick-ass action scenes, to keep her male fans happy.

In Her Shoes
Diaz plays the role of younger sister Maggie, in this drama based on two sisters, who have nothing in common except their shoe size. A very special movie on sibling bond and family relationships!

The Holiday
In this warm-hearted and loving tale of two lovelorn women who temporarily exchange houses to escape heartbreak in the holiday season, Diaz plays a Los Angeles trailer editor who finds love in idealistic Surrey setting. This is my favourite movie of Diaz and if you are one of those who think that Diaz can’t act, then please watch this flick! I am sure you will change your opinion!

What Happens in Vegas
Diaz plays the character of a New York stockbroker Joy, who gets dumped by her fiancé and goes to a trip to Las Vegas, where things get crazy and out of control. The movie is a laugh-out-loud comedy with a bit of romance.

The Review Girl's Must-Have "How-to" Books On Writing/Publishing/Marketing Your Own Book!

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