Monday, September 3, 2012

Blog Tour - Made the Grade: Return to Willow Lake by Susan Wiggs | Interview & Review

Today I'm turning my blog over to Susan Wiggs, who I interviewed about her latest novel "Return to Willow Lake," which is the 9th book in her Lakeshore Chronicles Series!!

My Q&A with Susan Wiggs :

Jess : Who or what was your inspiration to begin writing?

Susan : There was never a time when I wasn’t writing. Even as a toddler, I used to dictate stories to my mom. Evidence here: early writings. I think people are born storytellers. Most grow up and get sensible jobs, but some of us never get over it.

Jess : Tell us a bit about your Lakeshore Chronicles Series.

Susan : It’s an unending series of books about the lives and loves of the Bellamy family. The setting is a nostalgic town in the Catskills, on the shores of Willow Lake. It’s become so real to me that the new book, "Return to Willow Lake," features endpapers with maps.

Jess : Which of your characters would you most & least like to invite to dinner, from which book and why?

Susan : Fun question! I would most like to invite Zach Alger from "Return to Willow Lake" to dinner, because he is total eye candy and he would make an awesome video of the experience. I’d least like to meet up with Zach’s father, Matthew, because he’s a total douchebag. Fortunately, Zach did a better job raising himself.

Jess : Please describe your heroine, from "Return to Willow Lake," in one to two sentences.

Susan : Sonnet Romano is smart, driven, loyal and romantically confused. She’s also a wonderful daughter to her mom at a time when her mom really needs her. And she can’t seem to stop thinking about this guy she’s not supposed to even like....

Jess : If "Return to Willow Lake" were to be made into a film, who do you see playing the main characters and why?

Susan : Sonnet looks a bit like Alicia Keys. She would be played by a lovely mixed race actress...And Zach, hmm...somebody tall, blonde and yummy. I’m open to suggestions.

Jess : In regards to "Return to Willow Lake," if you could write it all over again, would you change anything about it?

Susan : Gosh, no. I rewrote it so many times, my head would explode! If you find a typo while reading it, well, I’d change that.

Jess : How many books have you written? Which is your favorite and why?

Susan : I stopped counting after forty. So, probably fortysomething? My favorite is the NEXT one because I’m so excited to be writing it. Of my published books, "Return to Willow Lake" is my fave, because I just felt so close to the characters and their situation. I’ve never been in that situation, but I felt it very deeply.

Jess : Do you have any other projects in the works? If so, can you share a little of your current work with us?

Susan : I’m finishing up "The Apple Orchard," the first Bella Vista Cooking School novel which takes place in Archangel, in Sonoma County, California. It will be out next May. After that, I’m going to tackle Logan’s story in the Lakeshore Chronicles.

About the Author :

Using blunt scissors, pages from a Big Chief tablet, a borrowed stapler and a Number Two pencil, Susan Wiggs self-published her first novel at the age of eight. "A Book About Some Bad Kids" [I still have this-CL] was based on the true-life adventures of Susan and her siblings, and the first printing of one copy was a complete sell-out.

Due to her brother's extreme reaction to that first prodigious effort, Susan went underground with her craft, entertaining her friends and offending her siblings with anonymously-written stories of virtuous sisters and the brothers who torment them. The first romance she ever read was "Shanna" by the incomparable Kathleen Woodiwiss, which she devoured while slumped behind a college vector analysis textbook. Armed with degrees from SFA and Harvard, and toting a crate of "keeper" books by Woodiwiss, Roberta Gellis, Laurie McBain, Rosemary Rogers, Jennifer Blake, Bertrice Small and anything with the words "flaming" and "ecstasy" in the title, she became a math teacher, just to prove to the world that she did have a left brain.

Late one night, she finished the book she was reading and was confronted with a reader's worst nightmare—She was wide awake, and there wasn't a thing in the house she wanted to read. Figuring this was the universe's way of taking away her excuses, she picked up a Big Chief tablet and a Number Two pencil, and began writing her novel with the working title, "A Book About Some Bad Adults." Actually, that was a bad book about some adults, but Susan persevered, learning her craft the way skydiving is learned—by taking a blind leap and hoping the chute will open.

Her first book was published (without the use of blunt scissors and a stapler) by Zebra in 1987, and since then she has been published by Avon, Tor, HarperCollins, Harlequin, Warner and Mira Books. Unable to completely abandon her beloved teaching profession, Susan is a frequent workshop leader and speaker at writers' conferences, including the literary institution Fields End and the legendary Maui Writers Conference. Her novel "The Charm School" was voted one of RWA's Favorite Books of the Year. She is the proud recipient of three RITA awards for "Lakeside Cottage," "Lord of the Night" and "The Mistress," and is often a finalist for the prestigious award. Her books appear regularly on numerous "Best Of" lists.

Susan enjoys many hobbies, including sitting in the hot tub while talking to her mother on the phone, kickboxing, cleaning the can opener, sculpting with butter and growing her hair. She lives on an island in the Pacific Northwest with her family.

- This is an ARC book - Available Formats through Hardcover - Pages: 311; Kindle Edition - File Size: 487 KB; Audiobook - Unabridged | Expected Release Date: August 28, 2012 | Publisher: Mira Books | Obtained: NetGalley

"Return to Willow Lake" [The Lakeshore Chronicles, Book 9] by Susan Wiggs

My Book Summary : Sonnet has always been the type of person who likes to plan out her life then strive to achieve her goals as quickly as she can. However, when she finds out that her mother (who's in her 40's) is unexpectedly pregnant and that the pregnancy has some high-risk complications Sonnet puts her life plans and goals on hold and moves back to her hometown of Avalon to support her mother through this tough process. Nevertheless, just because she back home doesn't mean she doesn't need to work, especially since she gave up her high-powered job in the city to be there. Therefore, she becomes the Casting and Location Coordinator for the town's latest reality show called Big Girl, Small Town, and working with her once best friend Zach.

Zach is a good guy who had grown up in a crappy home. However, Sonnet's mother always made him feel welcome throughout Sonnet and his friendship and that hasn't changed over the years. It does get complicated though after Sonnet and he share an unexpected sparks-flying night together, especially afterwards when Sonnet wants to forget about it and go back to being friends again.

Now with Sonnet working on the Big Girl, Small Town with him they try working through their feelings while dealing with the intense situations around them. Can they work through everything to finally realize what they truly want for themselves in life and love? Or will they find that it would be better to be apart for good?

My Book Review : 3.5 out of 5 stars, this is a moving charming novel. About the lengths, those will go to for the ones they love. I loved stepping back into Susan Wiggs' Lakeshore Chronicles world and catching up with all of these characters! However, I truly enjoyed reading about Nina's struggles, Nina's triumphs, Sonnet finding herself throughout this whole novel, the budding romance between Zach and Sonnet, and how no matter what happened between Sonnet and Zach they always were their for each other in the end. The town wraps you up and makes you want to read more!!

With that being said, I really hated Sonnet's father and the way she tried to please him at all costs. I mean I know where she was coming from since I was raised by a single mother for most of my life so I understand her need to show her worth to her father. However, when her father doesn't appreciate her efforts or thinks that only the path he picks is the correct one for her, then I really just don't like the man. Nevertheless, I like that throughout this novel Sonnet works out her issues with her father and comes to her own conclusions about him in the end.

In addition, I wish the epilogue had more!! I'm happy with the way it ended, who ended up with who, and how everything turned out. However, it leads you up to what you'll be expected to see and then it stops. =0(

Anyway ...

Overall, I enjoyed this novel. I would recommend it and the Lakeshore Chronicles series to anyone who likes contemporary romances!!

Author's Novel Extras : Read an excerpt | Reading Guide | Booklist LURVE | dedication page | shout out to Library Journal

Author's Series Extras : When life gives you lemons... | How many books are in the Lakeshore Chronicles? | “It’s a Wonderful List” | reading to music | series or single title? | “Walk away.” | ‘fessing up | from today’s front page | cover art debate | just a taste | for reading groups | my grandma, the maniac | oopsie Daisy | fair enough question | women’s fiction | Daisy+Logan+Julian

Author's Book Trailer :

Author's Series Interview(s) :

Book Teaser(s) :
Zach thanked him and hung up, looking around the bakery at the coffee drinkers, the tourists and locals, the little kids smearing their hands on the glass cases, the old guys with their crossword puzzles. These people had no idea that the world had just shifted for him. Finally the dream was coming into reach. He'd been trying to get a break forever, sending out his portfolio of digital clips, emailing them into what seemed like a black hole of digital ether. He'd been networking through people in the business who were at least six degrees away from West Coast and New York producers. Each award he won, each scrap of recognition, hoisted him another rung up the ladder, but until now, nothing had materialized.
The opportunity was still so new, he had only the sketchiest idea of what was in store for him next. ~ within Chapter 4
"Tell you what," she said to the shaking boy. "Let's go together. You and me. What do you say?"
"What good's that going to do? Then we'll both die."
"Nobody's going to die. You saw everybody take a turn and they loved it. Come on, I'm scared, too, but I still want to do it."
"You're not scared. I heard you telling Salt over there that you couldn't wait to take a turn."
"That's what we call him." Andre jerked a thumb in Zach's direction. "'Cause the two of you are salt and pepper."
She felt her cheeks heat up. She didn't want to be pepper to Zach's salt. "Never mind that. Let's do this thing." ~ within Chapter 12
For more information on this book, series, and/or any other books by Susan, then please check out her website.

Find Susan Wiggs :

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