Tag Archive | book club

Nadezhda Seiler’s “A Measure of Guilt”

AMOGHappy New Year, my friends! I hope it will be productive and joyful for everyone.

Today is the second anniversary of the publication of my novel A Measure of Guilt, and since it’s my creation, I treat this date as its birthday. I think it’s only right to start posting on my blog in 2015 with this acknowledgement.

Thus, the New Year’s celebration continues for me. 🙂

Here’s the blurb:

Nineteen-year-old Kate Flanagan has already endured entirely too much in her young life. Two years earlier, her kid sister, Angie, and her best friend, Sandra, were kidnapped from a San Diego amusement park, and Kate’s guilt over the part she played in the tragedy is beyond measure. Believing herself undeserving of a normal life, Kate avoids relationships, feels estranged from her parents, and has no social life. When she begins receiving increasingly chilling anonymous notes on her windshield, she dismisses them as the work of a random stalker.

The fifth note, however, claims that the writer has information about her sister. Hopeful that Angie and Sandra are still alive, distrustful of the police, and frightened by the escalating threat of the notes, Kate nevertheless decides to smoke out the source of the notes. With the help of an amateur private investigator, Kate sets out on a mission to find her sister and best friend— a hunt that leads her straight to her deranged stalker.

In this intriguing mystery tale, a woman anxious to atone for the past mistakes that have cost her nearly everything puts her life on the line in a desperate attempt to right a terrible wrong and catch a determined criminal.

If you read my second novel, Without Thinking Twice, you will be surprised (pleasantly, I hope) to meet again with one of its characters in A Measure of Guilt. And if you read A Measure of Guilt, you may be interested in its sequel that I’m currently working on, which will be released this year.

The novel can be purchased on Abbott Press, Amazon, and Barnes & Noble. The e-book version is available for download for most e-readers, including, but not limited, to Kindle, Nook, iPad and Sony.

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Author Interview: Paulo Coelho

When I love a novel, I usually wonder what inspired the author to explore a certain theme. How does a writer find his topics, anyway?

Just like a tree grows from a tiny seed planted in soil, a 300-page book grows from an idea that pops into your head. I find it amazing.

Speaking about my books, the ideas for each of them came to me in different ways. The letter-game for romantic suspense Disengaged was suggested by a friend, who became my coauthor; the idea for romance Without Thinking Twice was born from my need to fight certain stereotypes; the subject of my mystery A Measure of Guilt was inspired by an actual event that shocked me so much that I wanted to fictionalize it; and the idea for the thriller that I’m working on now popped into my mind when I typed the last sentence of A Measure of Guilt—Why don’t I write a sequel?

What prompted Paulo Coelho to explore the subject of spousal infidelity in his latest novel Adultery?

He explains it in the video below.

By the way, Paulo Coelho calls for a discussion of Adultery. Well, I posted my opinion this week and I suspect that many readers may not agree with it. But I would love to discuss it here on my blog.

Enjoy! 🙂

 

Paulo Coelho’s “Adultery”

9781101874097.225x225-75[1]Paulo Coelho’s Adultery is a story of a woman in her thirties who has everything—head-turning looks, a good education, a successful career as a journalist, a loving husband and two children. Her husband is one of the richest people in Switzerland and, after ten years of marriage, he is still “madly in love with her.” They eat at expensive restaurants, they travel abroad, and they socialize with the crème de la crème of Geneva’s society. In short, Linda has everything any other woman would kill for. Yet she doesn’t want to get out of bed in the morning and get going. What’s the matter?

Linda is depressed.

However, she doesn’t understand the nature of her problem until she interviews a writer who admits that he prefers a life of passion and danger to a life of happiness and satisfaction. This admission makes Linda realize that the root of her dissatisfaction with her life is her boring routine—going through the same things every day over and over and over again. It occurs to her that she never takes risks; she always goes with the flow. That has to stop. She has to shake things up. Yes, she loves her husband, and he loves her, but is love alone enough? She needs a change. She wants a change. Desperately.

What happens next is obvious—even the novel’s title suggests the obvious.

Adultery.

For the first hundred pages you commiserate with Linda, because she’s suffering and she isn’t passively accepting her condition but trying to understand it and to find the cure. She makes appointments with one psychiatrist after another, explaining to them what is happening to her, “begging them to help her control the monster that is rising up and threatening to escape her control.” 139

You sympathize with her because her dissatisfaction with the sameness, her need to question her role in life, and her search for the meaning of life, resonate with many of us. Especially with those of us who are, or have been, depressed. We may condemn adultery, but we still try to understand the reason behind it. Especially if we find the person committing it sympathetic.

Well…

After a hundred pages, my attitude toward Linda changed drastically. I disliked her for her actions, and then, after I learned about a certain streak in her personality, I hated her.

Linda justifies her actions (other than adultery) by examples from history and literature, saying that “…good and evil coexist in all people….when we release our dark side, it will completely overshadow the best in us…. That is how dictators are born.” 136

“Everyone has a dark side. Everyone wants a taste of absolute power. I read stories of torture and war and see that those who inflict suffering are driven by an unknown monster when they’re able to exert power, but turn into docile fathers, servants of the homeland, and excellent husbands when they return home.” 130

She’s right about the inherent duality in all of us. But not all of us act on our dark side, especially those of us who are as educated and well-read as she is, and are capable of assessing the situation.

Practically all writers claim that if the reader doesn’t find the protagonist sympathetic, he won’t be interested in reading the story. I totally agree. Once I started to despise Linda, I stopped caring about her “suffering.”

I kept reading Adultery only because Paulo Coelho  is a fine writer, and I like his philosophical take on love, life, marriage, and values. And because I love his novels The Alchemist and The Zahir.

Favorite line: “Love isn’t just a feeling; it’s an art. And like any art, it takes not only inspiration, but also a lot of work.” 187

Karen Essex’s “Leonardo’s Swans”

leonardoswansbook[1]When I read the last paragraph of Leonardo’s Swans by Karen Essex, I said one word: Wow!

But when I first read the opening of the prologue, I thought, Huh? The ending is not just predictable, but revealed—in the first paragraph! So why should I read further?

Ah, but I’m a sucker for a beautiful language, and Karen Essex‘s  language shines—in the first lines!

So I kept reading.

The prologue describes a scene of mourning, taking place in the noble family’s crypt. Leaning over a marble figure of her sister, who died a few years ago at the age of twenty-one, Isabella is whispering to Beatrice about the things that she, Isabella, has endured and has yet to endure, calling herself “a figure on a chessboard of poison.” She reminds her deceased sister about the games they used to play and about their fierce rivalry both in games and in love. Isabella mentions Beatrice’s husband, Ludovico, rotting in a French prison, and the French now “tramping Italy,” and her own plan to attend King Louis’s ball tonight—thus telling me the reader not only about their personal problems but about the drama of their country. The fact that she’s whispering, afraid of being overheard and reported as a traitor, underscores the point that the danger is still present.

Isabella’s revelation grabbed my attention. I was intrigued by the sisters’ contradictory relationship. I wanted to learn about their lives and the events leading to this sad, tragic point. I wanted to know why Beatrice died so young, and why Isabella, while mourning her death, still considers it a blessing—for Beatrice. And of course, the Renaissance period in Italy, where the world greatest artists created, has always interested me, as well as the intrigues in kings’ courts.

I was hooked.

So I kept reading Leonardo’s Swans, this fascinating story of two incredible women, two sisters of the Renaissance, Isabella and Beatrice d’Este, both young, beautiful, bright, ambitious, well-educated, accomplished, strong-willed, and pretty famous and influential in Italy in the 15th-16th centuries.

The novel is filled with intrigue, suspense, love, lust, and verbal sparring. Karen Essex masterfully draws the image of Leonardo da Vinci—as a painter, a scientist, and as a person. I was lost in the 15th century Italy, which wasn’t a unified country as we know it now, but a numerous separate lands feuding with each other. But what fascinated me most, however, was the maturity of Isabel and Beatrice. With a short lifespan (40 years on the average), girls were betrothed at the age of 5 or 6, to be married ten years later. But young maidens from noble families were so accomplished by the time they became wives—speaking several languages, writing and reciting poetry, playing musical instruments, acquiring equestrian skills, as well as oratory ones, and whatnot–I thought that the level of education during the Renaissance, for nobility at least, was quite impressive.

Anyway, I enjoyed Leonardo’s Swans immensely and I’d like to add to my aforementioned word, Wow, this: If you like historical fiction, this novel will appeal to you; if you like historical fiction portraying a renowned Renaissance artist, this novel will certainly satisfy your interest; but if you like historical fiction portraying a renowned artist and strong-willed women (actual historical figures), you will absolutely love this novel!

Strongly recommend!

 

The Joy of Book Club Meetings

book club 2For several months now, I’ve been attending monthly book club gatherings at our local library. Meeting with a dozen women—avid readers appreciative of good literature—is not only fun for me, but a nourishment for my intellect and soul as well. One may argue that we as readers acquire enough of such nourishment from a fine book itself, so why want it from elsewhere?

Well, sometimes it’s true, since I read more books than I have time to discuss them with someone else. But I still enjoy talking about novels and authors because, apart from the aforementioned reason, I like sharing my opinions with other readers too.

Basically, we think of a story as good only if it stirs up our strong feelings, and if we can relate to the characters and their experiences in it—in some way. Maybe the dilemmas that those  characters try to solve feel too close to home for us, or the events described in a story evoke our memories, making us laugh or cry, or warn us against rash and unwise decisions.

In either way, that’s what book club members usually talk about, comparing the novel’s characters’ experiences with the similar ones of their own. Which is the most fascinating, and thus valuable, aspect of such gatherings. When someone becomes too emotional, we comfort her by “It’s okay, it’s just the fruit of the author’s imagination, it’s only a book…” But we know that it’s not “only a book”! It’s so damn well written that it feels real to us, and yes, things like that do happen in real life. Hence, our heartfelt response.

I usually go to these get-togethers with my neighbors, Catherine and Cindi. But when one of us misses it, we catch up later, at home.

Last night, I was hosting our little book club in my backyard—with snacks, wine, and fruit.  We started to discuss Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn, then switched to novels by Jodi PicoultJohn Grisham, Elizabeth George, Louise Erdrich, and others. And yes of course, we chatted about our personal incidents, similar to the ones in those stories, or just for the hell of it. 🙂

Three hours went by as quick as a wink, the candle lights on our table, flickering softly in the darkness, the only reminder of the late hour.

It was a lovely discussion and I’m looking forward to another one. 🙂