The Divining Wand

Discovering authors beyond their pages…

Archive for June, 2009

Robert Gregory Browne’s Kill Her Again

June 30, 2009 By: larramiefg Category: Book Presentations, Books

Robert Gregory Browne (author of Kiss Her Goodbye and Whisper in the Dark) offers a new thriller in Kill Her Again released today, June 30, 2009, just in time for summer beach reading

Would you like to learn more About Rob and his background? By clicking on that website link, you’ll discover:

“Rob was born in California, but at the age of 11, moved with his family to Honolulu. His father had threatened to quit his job in Los Angeles, but the company wanted to keep him so badly they offered to send him wherever he wanted to go. He jokingly said, “Hawaii” and the next thing he knew, the transfer was approved.

“It took Rob a while to adjust to life on a tropical island, but once he got used to it, he fell in love with the place. In high school, he exchanged glances with a cute girl at the back of one of his classes (just prior to dropping it) and had no idea that he was looking at his future wife. As of this year, he has been married for 30 years.

“During those thirty years, Rob has spent time as a musician, a screenwriter, and now novelist — all the while holding a variety of jobs to keep his family eating. He worked as a janitor, a flower delivery boy, a Hollywood messenger, a hotel room maid, a clerk for the Hawaii Legislature, a criminal intake processor for the Honolulu Public Defender, a legal secretary, a magazine columnist, and a video editor.

“Ever since that first year living in Honolulu, Rob has browsed the bookstores, looking longingly at the shelves full of books in hopes that he’d one day see his name on a novel of his own. He now has three of them in (or about to be in) stores and has just completed his fourth thriller for St. Martin’s Press, Macmillan UK, and Droemer Knaur Germany.

“Rob and his wife have two grown kids, one cat, two dogs, and live in California.”

Ideas for his novels come from everywhere as he admits: “I get ideas from watching news shows, reading books, newspapers, browsing the Internet, etc. Most of the ideas pop into my head as fragments that eventually work themselves into something whole. Once they take enough form to get me excited, then I start seriously thinking about writing a book.”

Yet what’s most revealing is that Rob is a “pantser” — that is, he doesn’t outline his novels. Instead he notes, “Once I come up with a premise and a few characters, I start writing. When you’re on pages 25, you know as much about what’s going to happen as I did when I was writing it. I figure if I can surprise myself, then you’ll be surprised, too. I’m basically reading to myself.”

And here’s the story he came up with in this Kill Her Again Synopsis:

Ever since a close call with death, FBI Agent Anna McBride has been having strange visions of a kidnapped little girl… a little girl who is about to be murdered. Is she going crazy? When Anna is assigned to a multiple homicide case, her visions recur with an even fiercer frequency…and she can’t shake the feeling that what she’s seeing is somehow connected to this latest grisly crime.

When Anna meets Daniel Pope, a hypnotist who’s no stranger to the paramormal, he suggests the impossible: that the girl in her visions is Anna in a past life. But Anna refuses to believe Pope — until she finds herself face to face with the killer from her nightmares. Now she must go into the dark recesses of her mind and relive the horrors of her past to find a diabolical psychopath who won’t rest until he kills her again…


Now visit the Kill Her Again book page, scroll down a bit to read an Excerpt.

Fascinating and chilling? So what makes this writer’s heart pound? You may be surprised by reading Rob’s post, Every Day, from Wednesday, June 17, 2009 on the Murderati blog. And that’s a wonderful glimpse into an author’s life beyond his pages.

So for all those who seek a great mystery thriller, remember Kill Her Again is available everywhere today, including Amazon’s Kindle!

Beyond Their Pages…

June 29, 2009 By: larramiefg Category: News

Since The Divining Wand’s launch two weeks ago, have you followed your favorite author(s) beyond their pages? Just click on the appropriate Authors page and you’ll find several ways to discover what’s going on in a writer’s life. For example:

This past Wednesday Jess Riley, who took us on an unforgettable road trip in Driving Sideways leaves for Victoria, British Columbia on Vancouver Island this Friday and is thrilled because it’s, “A family reunion of sorts — I’ll be meeting aunts, uncles, and cousins I’ve never met (but have corresponded with). So excited! I’m sure it will be a gold mine of material. 🙂

“Also, if I’m lucky, I’ll get to see Deb Eileen (Cook)) while I’m out there.”

On Thursday Allison Winn Scotch admitted that silence can be golden in her post, Are You Too Connected?

Carleen Brice paid a meaningful and musical tribute to “The King of Pop” with Black or white on Friday.

Then — over the weekend — Therese Fowler opened the doors to her new home/Website. Be sure to drop by, look around and say “hello.” You’re likely to find Therese on her front porch, enjoying the summer beyond her pages.

Here’s to Alibi Junior High

June 25, 2009 By: larramiefg Category: Books

On Monday, at her Red Room Blog, Lauren Lise Baratz-Logsted’s posted her Book of the Week: Alibi Junior High. Although this middle grade book is her husband Greg Logsted’s second novel, Lauren wasn’t showing favoritism as she noted: “And so you don’t think it’s just me thinking the book is wonderful, here’s what the critics say:

~ “Funny and fast paced, this fits right in with the beach-read crowd.” (Fiction. 10-14) – Kirkus Review

And this Tuesday, June 23, 2009, Alibi Junior High was released.

Since The Divining Wand lists only a few male authors — let alone those who write children/middle grade/YA novels — so far, it’s a real pleasure to direct you to Greg Logsted’s Website where you can be charmed in learning About him. His hometown is likely to capture readers’ (of all ages) imaginations yet, in that telling last paragraph, this thoughtful writer becomes one terrific role model:

“I spend my nights and weekends writing. I’m constructing a ladder with words. I’m just going to keep climbing it as high as I can.”

In those three brief sentences Greg offers a work ethic, a plan, and a goal. And, if he can provide such wisdom on a website page, don’t you wonder what fills his book pages?

Here’s a sample in the Alibi Junior High Synopsis:

Thirteen-year-old Cody Saron has never lived in one place longer than a few weeks, and has never attended a regular school. Growing up on the run with his father, an undercover agent for the CIA, Cody has traveled the entire globe; he speaks five languages, and he has two black belts. What Cody isn’t prepared for is…junior high.

When the danger surrounding Cody’s dad heats up, Cody is sent to stay with the aunt he’s never known, Jenny, in her small Connecticut suburb. Cody has no idea how to fit in with other kids, how to handle his first crush, or how to make it through a day of classes.

As Cody struggles to adapt to the one thing he’s never experienced — a normal life — he starts to fear that his father’s world has followed him and no one he loves is safe. Greg Logsted weaves together action, humor, and heart, building to a surprising revelation about what Cody has always believed to be true.


Greg, author of Something Happened (YA), has also co-written The Sisters Eight (children) series with his wife Lauren and their daughter Jackie. Being true to his word, even when writing, Greg Logsted likes having a “crew” and not a “staff.”

Enjoy your weekend…hopefully relaxing with a good book.

Before, During and After…

June 24, 2009 By: larramiefg Category: News

Here are a few terrific examples of what could happen in a writers’ life before, during and after publication.

As a debut-author-in-waiting, complete with white gloves and pearls, you discover that The Debutante Ball is looking for debut authors for the class of 2010! Knowing how much coming out and dancing every week at the Ball would mean — both in emotional support and publicity –, you read From the Debutante Ball — Class of 2009 and fill out the application. Good luck!

As Kristina Riggle, having just launched Real Life & Liars, you are interviewed on Authors on Air, discussing whether Mira is based on a real person, your songwriting background, and your next book. For anyone who missed that LIVE event, you offer the opportunity to catch the podcast here.

Also, as Kristina, you’re hitting the road this summer and anyone living in the Michigan and Illinois area can meet/greet and have you sign their copy of RL&L at one of many scheduled appearances beginning this week through the end of July.

And, as CJ Lyons, you recently learned that your debut medical suspense, Lifelines, has been nominated for a Book Buyers Best Award. Lifelines is also a finalist in the Daphne du Maurier Award for Excellence in Mystery/Suspense as well as the National Readers Choice Award. Congratulations!

And so life continues for authors beyond their pages.

The Truth of a Fortune Cookie

June 23, 2009 By: larramiefg Category: Advance News, Books

As a researcher and writer for Prevention magazine, and then as a freelance writer, Therese Walsh’s byline has appeared on hundreds of articles on nutrition and fitness published in consumer magazines and online. However, on October 13, 2009 — now less than four months away –, Therese will become a novelist with the debut of The Last Will of Moira Leahy. Is this a dream come true? Well, actually, it’s her fortune cookie prophecy coming true!

On international bestseller author M.J. Rose’s blog, Backstory (“Where authors share secrets, truths, logical and illogical moments that sparked their fiction or memoirs.”), the debut author confessed all in her June 19th post, Therese Walsh’s Backstory. Hmm, and may it be also noted that she has a master’s degree in psychology? 😉

It’s possible to tease here because of the great buzz already describing Moira Leahy. In fact please visit news/reviews on Therese’s website and then wander through truly magical pages that hint at and share parts of the story.

Therese Walsh and her novel will be revisited again in upcoming posts over the next months for what could be better or more exciting than choosing a debut author as a friend? And for those readers who wish to pre-order The Last Will of Moira Leahy now, you may do so at any one of these online stores: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Borders, IndieBound.

Carleen Brice and Children of the Waters

June 22, 2009 By: larramiefg Category: Books


Last spring, Carleen Brice’s debut novel, Orange Mint & Honey (which was optioned by the Lifetime Movie Network) instantly became a #1 Denver Post best-seller and Essence Magazine Recommended Read. Yet there was more. Later in 2008, this writer won the Breakout Author of the Year Award from the African American Literary Awards Show and in 2009 she received the First Novel Award from the Black Caucus of the American Library Association. Carleen is also a finalist for the 2009 Colorado Book Award in literary fiction. And, with such wonderful recognition for Orange Mint & Honey, one might wonder what this author will do for an encore? That answer can be found within the pages of Children of the Waters to be released tomorrow, June 23, 2009.

A visit to the writer’s Home page offers a quick glimpse of the book with this early praise:

“I was exhausted and singing the blues the hour I began Carleen Brice’s new novel, Children of the Waters. Five hours later, I’d finished this fresh, free-rein novel about mothers’ secrets and children’s sorrows and was shouting ‘Hurray!'”__ Jacquelyn Mitchard author, The Deep End of the Ocean

“In Children of the Waters, Carleen Brice manages to explore the difficult, messy and unpleasant details of life with both humor and wisdom. The parallel journeys of sisters, Trish and Billie, will resonate with everyone and anyone who has questioned their identity and place in this world. Once again, Carleen Brice has crafted a thoroughly enjoyable novel that gets at the heart of the human experience.”__ Lori Tharps, author of Kinky Gazpacho

“In Children of the Waters, Carleen Brice highlights the effects of America’s complicated relationship with race and identity on three generations of two families in a clear and insightful depiction of what it means to be American at the dawn of the twenty-first century. Brice knows how far we have come and how far there is left to go, and in Children of the Waters she deflty lays it all out for the reader to see.”__ Matthew Aaron Goodman, author of Hold Love Strong

“In Children of the Waters, Carleen Brice deftly explores issues of family, identity, and race with a wonderful abundance of humor, forgiveness, and grace. This moving story of two sisters separated by prejudice will open minds and touch hearts.”__ Meg Waite Clayton, author of The Wednesday Sisters

Carleen’s focus is once again on family and she has an interesting backstory to Children of the Waters (actually her first novel but after 100 pages, she got stumped and put it away):

“The center of this novel is loosely based on a true story — one of my sisters-in-law is biracial and was given up for adoption while her birth sister, who is white, was kept by the family. When my sister-in-law told me about being found by her birth sister, I thought it was an amazing story. But I changed some things, of course, to make the story it’s own.”

And that backstory evolved into this Synopsis:

The author of the #1 Denver Post bestseller and Essence Book Club Pick Orange Mint and Honey explores the connection between love and race, and what it really means to be a family

Trish Taylor’s white ancestry never got in the way of her love for her black ex-husband, or their mixed race son, Will. But when Trish’s marriage ends, she returns to her family’s Denver, Colorado home to find a sense of identity and connect to her past.

What she finds there shocks her to the very core: her mother and newborn sister were not killed in a car crash as she was told. In fact, her baby sister, Billie Cousins, is now a grown woman; her grandparents had put her up for adoption, unwilling to raise the child of a black man. Billie, who had no idea she was adopted, wants nothing to do with Trish until a tragedy in Billie’s own family forces her to lean on her surprisingly supportive and sympathetic sister. Together they unravel age-old layers of secrets and resentments and navigate a path toward love, healing, and true reconciliation.


If you have yet to read Orange Mint & Honey, please see the presentation post, A Meme of Orange Mint & Honey, to better understand what a smart, refreshing and realistic storyteller Carleen Brice truly is. In fact she’s also provided parts of Children of the Waters first three chapters in this Excerpt

Even in those early pages, do you hear the author’s strong voice on the importance of family and the values of family and friendship and belonging? Carleen admits that family has always been the core of her life — thanks to her grandparents — and she’s passing the message on to her readers. However it’s possible that this writer is offering something more priceless. Last August 7, 2008, Carleen posted Am I the Obama of Fiction? by initially noting:

“I’ve always been confused about what a writing voice is. Until now. Lori Tharp (Kinky Gazpacho) posted a kind review of Orange Mint and Honey, and is one of the umpteen people who’ve noted that my characters could have been any race. I’ve heard very often that the story is “‘universal.'”

“At first, I was perplexed by these type of responses. Why was it worth noting that a book with black characters was universal? Wasn’t that a given? Then, I was a little angry and I wondered if racism didn’t play a part. But then black readers started to tell me the same thing. So I went back to perplexed. I still don’t know why this should be deemed so unusual. Do you think it is?

“This is my world view. This is my life. There are all different kinds of people in it and while I definitely acknowledge and honor differences between my African American, Latino, & white family members and friends, mostly we’re pretty much alike. Finally, coming from Flyover Country pays off! Because that is how my voice was formed. In Omaha, I lived on the same block with and went to school with white, Native American, Hispanic, Asian and black kids. My family has every kind of color in it.”

And this is how Carleen Brice, through her universal voice, has told a tale of living in today’s America — entitled Children of the Waters. TRUST: You will be entertained and enlightened, enjoying every moment spent in the company of her storytelling!

[Note: This novel can also be purchased online at: Borders, Barnes & Noble, IndieBound.

And for more of Carleen, beyond her pages, visit The Pajama Gardener and White Readers Meet Black Authors.]

Author News and Thank Yous

June 18, 2009 By: larramiefg Category: News

CJ Lyons WARNING SIGNS was one of the books featured in Barbara Vey’s Publishers Weekly blog yesterday! What great press, CJ, congratulations….

Also yesterday, Katie Alender’s post, So much for being a housewife announced the news that her YA novel, Bad Girls Don’t Die, is going to be a series! Indeed, there are going to be “two more books full of spooky shenanigans with Alexis and pals, with Book 2 set to release in Spring of 2011.” How thrilling and deserved!

And now I’d like to acknowledge two authors/friends who supported and believed that this site and role were my “inevitable.” They’re “Special K’s,” with the first one being Kristy Kiernan. Almost all know her name and brilliant work — Catching Genius and Matters of Faith –, and then there are those of us who know her by having been touched by her visionary mind and generous heart. Kristy acted as a sounding board, advisor and co-dreamer on this project. True, it was my idea, yet when “K” declares something to be “brilliant”…you have to see it through! Yesterday, she paid me the ultimate compliment with her blog post, The Divining Wand – Choosing Authors as Friends. Thank you Kristy for being an author and friend.

Katie Alender is my second “Special K” and well on her way to being Kristy Kiernan, Jr. More than a talented and skillful writer, Katie — like Kristy — is a meaningful storyteller. And then there are all of her other interests, including Photoshop “hobbyist.” Are you getting the picture? 😉 Yes, that’s correct, this “gorgeous,” “knockout,” “lovely,” and “amazing” site was put together by Katie. The design, images and ideas were mine but Katie created/perfected every little detail down to the fingers waving The Divining Wand. Thank you Katie for being an author and friend.

The Divining Wand will now wrap up its first week, running on a four day post schedule to allow for gathering more content, filling more pages, and reading more books. Have a wonderful weekend and do return on Monday because there’s yet another novel about to be released!

Author and Book News

June 17, 2009 By: larramiefg Category: Uncategorized

The debut celebration of Real Life & Liars continues for Kristina Riggle as she’s learned that LIARS has been chosen as a “Breakout” novel featured in Target stores starting in August!

And how would you like to hear Kristina on the (Internet) radio and possibly talk to her live? She’s scheduled to be interviewed tomorrow, Thursday June 18th, on “Romance Radio” powered by BlogTalk Radio. For further information, including how to call in, please check here.

Katie Alender, yet another member from the Deb Class 2009, proudly and gratefully announces two exciting milestones for her YA novel, Bad Girls Don’t Die. The book has gone into a seond printing and it’s also had the first foreign rights sale to Spanish-language publisher Versatil. For those who may be unfamiliar with Katie’s novel, please read Presenting Debutante Katie Alender and Bad Girls Don’t Die

As we know, debuts are only the beginning of a writer’s career and Founder Deb Mia King (best-selling author of Good Things and Sweet Life) reminds us that her third novel, Table Manners — the sequel to Good Things — will be released on Tuesday, August 4, 2009. There’s additional good news in the fact that Table Manners is a featured alternate of the Doubleday, Literary Guild, Rhapsody and Book of the Month book clubs. If you belong to any of those clubs and choose Table Manners as your selection, you’ll actually read it as a hardcover!

That’s all for today…just keeping you posted.

Jennifer McMahon’s Dismantled

June 16, 2009 By: larramiefg Category: Book Presentations, Books


Although Kristina Riggle’s Real Life & Liars debuts today, Founder Deb Jennifer McMahon (New York Times bestselling author of Promise Not To Tell and Island of Lost Girls) also celebrates this day with the release of her third adult novel, Dismantled.

In reading from the book’s front cover: “One of the brightest new stars in literary suspense.”__Los Angeles Times, those of us who waltzed along with that Debutante Class of 2007 always knew that Jennifer’s success was imminent. Her Wednesday posts were laid bare with emotion — either raw and chilling or poignantly heartbreaking –, yet always beautiful. The reluctant Deb claimed to want to be Peter Pan and never grow up, however she has.

Here’s a Synopsis of Dismantled:

“The New York Times bestselling author of the acclaimed Island of Lost Girls and Promise Not to Tell returns with a chilling novel in which the secrets of the past come back to haunt a group of friends in terrifying ways.

Dismantlement = Freedom

“Henry, Tess, Winnie, and Suz banded together in college to form a group they called the Compassionate Dismantlers. Following the first rule of their manifesto—”To understand the nature of a thing, it must be taken apart”—these daring misfits spend the summer after graduation in a remote cabin in the Vermont woods committing acts of meaningful vandalism and plotting elaborate, often dangerous, pranks. But everything changes when one particularly twisted experiment ends in Suz’s death and the others decide to cover it up.

“Nearly a decade later, Henry and Tess are living just an hour’s drive from the old cabin. Each is desperate to move on from the summer of the Dismantlers, but their guilt isn’t ready to let them go. When a victim of their past pranks commits suicide—apparently triggered by a mysterious Dismantler-style postcard—it sets off a chain of eerie events that threatens to engulf Henry, Tess, and their inquisitive nine-year-old daughter, Emma.

“Is there someone who wants to reveal their secrets? Is it possible that Suz did not really die—or has she somehow found a way back to seek revenge?

“Full of white-knuckle tension with deeply human characters caught in circumstances beyond their control, Jennifer McMahon’s gripping story and spine-tingling plot prove that she is a master at weaving the fear of the supernatural with the stark realities of life.”

Now read the Critical Praise for Dismantled:

“Outstanding…By alternating the present-day lives with the origins of the Dismantlers, McMahon allows the inexorable sense of dread to build incrementally. Perhaps most memorable are not the young artists but Emma, a child whose intense imagination only adds fuel to the slow-burning fire.” __Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“In her third, elegantly spooky mystery revolving around the vulnerability of a young girl and a haunting past, McMahon fashions a fresh and entrancing ghost-in-the-woods tale replete with startling psychoses, delectable Hitchcockian motifs, and dangerous attractions.”__Booklist

“A failed marriage. A long-buried secret. A lonely child’s imaginary friend. From these simple ingredients, Jennifer McMahon has constructed a fun, twisty thriller. Expect DISMANTLED to earn comparisons to THE SECRET HISTORY.”
__Stewart O’Nan, author of SONGS FOR THE MISSING

“McMahon’s gift is the deliciously twisty way she subverts all your expectations, keeping you guessing with wry wit and feverish chills.”__People

And, by clicking this widget, you can Browse Inside and read the beginning of Dismantled:

Dismantled is available for purchase at IndieBound, Powell’s, Barnes & Noble, or Amazon.

Just imagine some of us knew her when…. Congratulations Jennifer!

Presenting Debutante Kristina Riggle and Real Life & Liars

June 15, 2009 By: larramiefg Category: Books


Although The Debutante Ball will continue its 2009 season until the end of August, tomorrow — Tuesday, June 16th — Kristina Riggle will become the fifth and final member of the class to take a bow when her debut novel, Real Life & Liars, becomes available for purchase online and at bookstores everywhere.

To become aquainted with this talented writer who loves the meaningful pleasures of family, home, and Michigan, a visit to Kristina’s Bio on her website will tell you that:

“Kristina Riggle lives and writes in West Michigan. Besides her debut novel, Real Life & Liars, she has published short stories in the Cimarron Review, Literary Mama, Espresso Fiction, and elsewhere. She is also a freelance journalist writing primarily for The Grand Rapids Press, and co-editor for fiction at Literary Mama. Kristina was a full-time newspaper reporter for seven years before turning her attention to creative writing and freelancing. On Mondays, she can be found blogging at The Debutante Ball, a group blog of authors debuting in 2009. As well as writing, she enjoys reading, yoga, dabbling in (very) amateur musical theatre, and spending lots of time with her husband, two kids and dog.

“Real Life & Liars is set in Charlevoix, Michigan, a town close to Kristina’s heart as the home of her grandparents where she has visited often over the years. Some recognizable Charlevoix landmarks appear in the novel, as well as fictionalized versions of real places. The home of the Zielinski family on Dixon Avenue is based loosely on the house where her grandmother grew up.”

Without question Charlevoix is a character in itself, detailed and warmly described in Real Life & Liars. In fact, acting out its background role, this setting for the novel may well be the only truthful anchor to the story. As Deb Kristina explains in her February 9, 2009 post, In which love hurts all kinds of ways , “Real Life & Liars isn’t a love story, but it’s a story about love.” Or, simply put, it’s about the author’s desire to write about complex family relationships. And, as the author revealed in a recent LitChat, “One major theme of LIARS: what if your children don’t grow up the way you tried to raise them?”

An interesting question to think about while reading the Synopsis of the novel:

“Sometimes the hardest thing you can do in this world is try to be happy…

“For Mirabelle Zielinski’s children, happiness always seems to be one step away. Her oldest daughter Katya, clings to a stale marriage with a workaholic husband and three spoiled children. Her son, Ivan, is a down– in–the–dumps musician with the worst taste in women. Irina is a young beauty who once lived life on a whim and is now facing the rest of her days with a baby and a husband nearly twice her age. The weekend of their parents’ anniversary party love will be found, hearts will be broken, and lies will be revealed. But the biggest shock may come from Mirabelle herself; because she has a secret that will change everything…”

Critical Praise from the trade journals —

“With ease and grace, Riggle walks the fine line between sentimentality and comedy, and she has a sure hand in creating fun, quirky characters. Humorous and humane storytelling makes this much better than the standard cancer tear-jerker.”__Publishers Weekly

“Riggle crafts a moving and accomplished first novel about a family coming to terms with change.

And more Advanced Praise from authors —

“In her wondrously affecting debut novel REAL LIFE AND LIARS, Kristina Riggle accomplished something authors almost never do anymore: she made me care about her characters – and what a wide-ranging cast of characters they are! She made me want good things for them. A must-read for summer 2009.”__Lauren Baratz-Logsted, author of Baby Needs a New Pair of Shoes

“Written with grace, passion, and insight, REAL LIFE AND LIARS is a deeply felt novel that draws a vivid portrait of a family in transition, and examines the very real fear of leaving behind all you hold dear.”__Maggie Dana, author of BEACHCOMBING

“Real Life & Liars, Kristina Riggle’s sumptuous and rich debut novel, examines the complications that arise in family and marriage, love and heartbreak. With lush writing and nuanced, relatable characters, this book is a must-read for anyone who has ever been both grateful and driven mad by the people they love most: their family.”__Allison Winn Scotch, New York Times bestselling author of Time of My Life and The Department of Lost and Found

In other words, Deb Kristina has succeeded in writing an emotionally universal story that both whispers and shouts the truth behind lies. Her inspiration? The December 1, 2008 post, In which a garage sale makes the difference for Deb Kristina, tells how buying Anne Tyler’s BREATHING LESSONS for 25 cents opened her eyes. Hopefully you’ll read the entire post that are highlighted with these thoughts:

“Anne Tyler made me care about those people as if their lives were my own.”

“This book taught me that interior stories, in the hands of a talented writer, can be just as compelling as the fate of nations. That’s how it changed my life.”

“There are no car chases in REAL LIFE & LIARS. The fate of the free world does not rest with my characters. I won’t kid myself, either, that for my first novel I can achieve the heights of Anne Tyler’s Pulitzer Prize-winning book. But I could only write LIARS after I decided to write the kind of book I love to read, the kind of book that makes matters of the soul as important as matters of state.

“Hearts matter. Anne Tyler taught me that.”

In January, I received an ARC of Real Life & Liars to review for the HarperCollins First Look program and here is my First Look:

Although it’s a time for a family celebration of love and life in Kristina Riggle’s debut novel, Real Life & Liars, the five immediate Zielinski clan members are anything but joyful. All come together — for a weekend — sharing lies with each other, while personally seeking their own truths. Yet this is not your typical dysfunctional homecoming story where one cataclysmic crisis reunites characters to live happily ever after. Instead this is a well-drawn study of real people with separate lives and problems who also happen to be related and connected by a lifetime history.

Narrated from the first person POV of Mira — the mother — the three adult children are written from the third person POV, allowing the reader insight and understanding into their lives and lies. And why do they lie? If you were to believe the oldest child, Katya, it would be because there is no perfect, only real life and liars. Cynical indeed and perhaps too easy an excuse. Because the truth appears to be that their facades hide the fact that they are looking for love…first and foremost self-love or, at least, a measure of self-confidence.

In the end some lies are revealed but, as in real life, Kristina Riggle lets her characters move forward to choose whichever path suits their newly discovered truths or easy-to-fall-back-on lies. Real Life & Liars can best be described as “a quiet little book” that emotionally connects you with the major and minor details of daily life — i.e. a heart-grabbing story which lingers as the reader may well consider her/his own lies and truths.

After reading that review, Kristina sent a brief note with this telling message: “I love how you described it. You enjoyed it for the same reasons I loved writing it.”

TRUST: You will enjoy Real Life & Liars too!