Monday, September 21, 2015

The Orb of Chaos - Ray Allen




A high fantasy novel that centers around several extremely interesting and unique characters on their quest to defeat an evil king and return to their homeland rated at FIVE STARS by the Schwartz Reviews.

Schwartz Synopsis

Sol loves ‘get rich quick’ schemes and drags his close friend Oather along on many of his dirty plans. His newest idea, to adventure into the ruins under Tyric that are abundant in riches, begins off according to plan. Until an old friend of Sol’s is determined to join their adventure. The selfish Sol reluctantly agrees and the three begin their journey. Though nothing is as it seems, and they are eventually met with an abundance of unique characters, who are all trapped in an unknown enchanted land. The evil king is their greatest threat and they must all work together if they are to see their homes again. Who will survive this battle for good against evil?

“Seriously, think about it,” Sol said again. He turned and grabbed Oather by the shoulders and looked him in his eyes. “If we did help these fools get back into the castle, they could attempt to stop the king, and that would at least create enough of a diversion to grab another chest or two of gold and head out.”

Schwartz Thoughts

Fantasy is one of my favourite genres. It is also one of the most difficult genres to write well. This was such a well-done book and when I learned of more books within this series, I was excited to grab them as well. The author did an amazing job writing this novel, the descriptions were well done, and the characters were very well developed.
One of the first character’s you meet within the pages is Sol. A young man, who is extremely selfish, but who is also hilarious. He had me laughing throughout the entire read with his selfish and devious plots. He was not the only character to play a role in this story, there were actually several others. As a reader, it felt somewhat overwhelming at first to have to learn of all these characters, but it was, eventually, very much worth the effort as they all play such important roles to the main storyline.
I am one of those readers who enjoy envisioning the story my own way. Which worked well with this novel as the author described the scenes perfectly, leaving just enough out that the reader can decide how to picture it. I also enjoyed that the pages were filled, that there did not appear to be any gaps in the storyline. Everything that was written played an integral part in the major conflict that was developed. Another great part was that no character went unused. Every character, even if they were mentioned only slightly, came back to play a larger role. It makes the reader feel as though the author planned the entire story thoroughly.
This novel played on several of my emotions. Obviously, as mentioned earlier, Sol had me laughing throughout the whole book. I have to admit that he was my favourite character. That being said, I fell for all of the main characters, they each were unique and brought something to the table and they were entertaining to read. When things went south, as they often did, the book had me worried for my beloved characters. When things went well, I was happily reading faster, enjoying each scene.
The novel starts at a steady pace, but it does pick up halfway through the read. In fact, it picks up so much that it becomes one of those ‘can’t put the book down’ books. I raced through the back half eager to find out what would happen next. The chapters were a little shorter than I would have liked but other than that, I found it to be an outstanding read with a very satisfying ending with great closure.
Halistan couldn’t help but wonder what Zaroth meant by that.
“The few unlucky individuals I’ve ever seen burned with hellfire died instantly. You’re very fortunate.”“I don’t know if I’d see it that way,” Halistan replied.
“Well, if it makes you feel any better, eventually it will consume you and you’ll die.”That definitely didn’t make Halistan feel any better.

Recommendation


Who wouldn’t I recommend this book to? It was such a great read! I would say that if you are looking for a high fantasy read, action packed, and steady-fast paced adventure… Then this is definitely a book for you. Check it out, I am sure it will not disappoint. 


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Signed Copy Giveaway


The Schwartz Reviews has received THREE SIGNED COPIES to giveaway! The giveaway will run from Now-September 27,2015 on our FACEBOOK PAGE! 

CLICK HERE to get to the giveaway!
Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Leviathan - L A Maldonado

(A Schwartz Review)

Something was indeed off about this whole situation. The priestess was hiding something. He was sure of it. Did she know what happened here, if indeed something did? And how much could he push her?



This is a race against time book that will leave you on the edge of your seat page after page, rated at FOUR STARS.


Schwartz Synopsis


The world as we know it is in danger and only the great can save us. Hidden among us humans is a far more superior race of legends; magicians, vampires, shifters, shamans, and more. When the shamans have an unusual vision, the race against evil begins and only one man is brave enough to embark on this terrifying mission. Will he stop the Leviathan’s from escaping their God made prison? Or will the evil twists consume us all?


Schwartz Thoughts


This is the second novel that I have read from this author and again, I loved it. The beginning of his novel has a punch that pulls in the reader, and Maldonado has a gift of hooking his readers at the end of each chapter, making you unable to put the book down.

His characters are really well written, believable, and loveable. The main character, Cole, is a magician on a race against time for the good of all. And this book just keeps you guessing until the very last pages. It took my emotions on a few rides. I wouldn’t say I was brought to tears, but my heart beat a little harder at a few parts.

The conflicts were great. Maldonado’s detailing abilities are superb. The development of the characters was spot on. There was even a small romance tucked in all this chaotic plot. And to be honest, if you can successfully tuck in a romance in a horror filled battle against evil, well that is saying something.

All in all, it was a great read.


The Recommendation


Horror readers, action readers, and supernatural/paranormal readers would enjoy this page turner.


About the Author

L.A. MALDONADO was born and raised in Pompano Beach, Florida. At the age of 17, he moved to West Texas for the next 16 years. In 2010 he thought it would be a good idea to head back to his roots in home state.

Maldonado now lives in Lehigh Acres, Florida, with his small family and two dogs, Esme and Sammy. He's a fan of most things geeky (think: Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Charmed, Once Upon A Time, The Walking Dead, all kind of books like Beautiful Creatures, The Vampire Chronicles, Twilight Saga, The Hunger Games, Fear Street, Harry Potter...). He has been in love with books since he was given his first novel on his 8th birthday called "I Know What You Did Last Summer" by Lois Duncan, way before Hollywood ever thought of making a Blockbuster movie out of it.

Everyone who knew him in school says that he is caring, giving, and the brave one out of the group of friends. Every time you see Maldonado, he always has a book in his hand reading. While he was in high school he wrote poems and short stories and had a number of them published in the school newspaper.



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Friday, August 21, 2015

The Light of Day - Kristen Kehoe

(A Lyka Review)

This novel deserves 4.5 stars for the author’s commendable writing style and wonderfully-woven plot that will make every reader cry, smile, and want to fall in love.

Schwartz Synopsis


A boy with a shattered dream…
A girl who found herself lost in her desperate search for love…

One wants an escape.
One is done escaping.

Two broken souls destined to find and heal each other.  

Jake and Cora.

Two hearts in one great love story.



“A year ago I was a wreck, a shattered mass of bad choices and even worse outcomes, and when I stopped being that person, when I learned how to make better decisions and actually think about what my choices would do to me and others, I promised myself I would never lose myself to my need for intimacy and connection again.”
-Cora

“The only thought worse than never having Cora is having half of her.” -Jake


Schwartz  Thoughts


This book murdered me, but it also resurrected me.
Sorry for the drama queen in me, but this was really how I felt upon finishing this book, and don’t get me wrong because it is actually a compliment.

The story is just so good and engaging and gripping that I couldn’t help but be so involved. I sympathized with the heroine (Cora), and there were some points in my reading that I actually wanted to hug her, or shake her, and sometimes do both at the same time. My heart broke for her and Jake countless times and those broken pieces were also restored as soon as the two found their healing. I became whole as Jake became whole again. I found myself as Cora found herself.  My heart flipped and danced as Cora and Jake found their happy ending.

I personally believe that the true measure of good writing is the ability of the author to capture “real” human emotions, put them into words and make the readers feel the “realness”. The fact that the reader feels every pain and every joy the characters in the narrative feel, shows that the author effectively accomplished this. This novel will do that to you. It will take you to an emotional journey…and it won’t disappoint.

The reason why I only gave it 4.5 stars instead of 5?

Here’s why:

I do not “condone” self-destruction when someone is in pain and hurting (yes, even in fictional characters). I don’t get why people ruin themselves out of rebellion. If people see you unworthy of love, the last thing you would want to do is to prove them right. In the story, Cora made a lot of bad decisions in the past and ruined herself as a way to escape pain and emptiness. She was admittedly weak in that point of her life. Anyhow, I like the fact that she helped herself heal and that she gradually grew stronger as a person. That transition from being weak to strong is highlighted in the novel.

Another thing that made me love this story is Jake’s character. He’s just the perfect book boyfriend. He’s sweet, sincere, funny, patient, understanding and kind. And seriously, who wouldn’t love a boy quoting poems, who plays baseball too? A geek and jock rolled in one.

When I first decided to read this book, I thought it would just be another mediocre read. Honestly, I also don’t like reading books with broken heroines/hero in it, because of all the drama and issues. This one is not overly dramatic. I actually love how natural and smooth the storytelling is. It is a wonderful story that explores numerous themes: family, friendship, self-worth, dreams, pain, healing, acceptance and love. With this book, you will cry, you will hurt, you will fall in love, and above all, you will learn life lessons. Lots of lines here left me in awe.


“Sometimes you can see the end before it even starts, and still, what we get in those brief moments together is enough to make the ending worth it.”


Recommendation



This novel is highly recommended not only for New Adult lovers, but for all the readers who love emotional, complex love stories, with sweet happy ever afters. 


About the Author


I am the youngest of three daughters and I think this is the reason I enjoy writing about love so much. 

I come from a family of high school sweethearts, save myself (thank God), and I have watched how finding love, the real kind, can make a person stronger. My parents have inspired me every day because they found each other at eighteen, got married at nineteen, and never looked back. Now, 35 years later they are still going strong and it makes me realize that love really does aide us in all things.

I write young and new adult books because I think it's the time period in our lives that is the most difficult and I enjoy love stories because we all need hope. Reading about love gives me hope, so I hope my writings about love do the same for any reader who happens to glance at the pages.

I have a daughter, a Great Dane, and a beautiful husband. I love books, coffee, and my family...and shoes. Just saying.


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Tuesday, August 4, 2015

The Forgotten Things - Stephen Mullaney-Westwood



A vivid novel of an older gentleman’s reflections of his past as a younger boy with a very active imagination. A novel that will completely pull you in and hold your attention as you question the tale that is being told. A FOUR STAR read from the Schwartz Reviews.

Book Synopsis

Written by Stephen Mullaney-Westwood:

 ‘Forgotten Things’ is a novel of nature in contrast; sinister, beautiful, wise and innocent. With an otherworldly twist it explores the importance of influences; of growing up, whilst still looking backwards.

We see through the eyes of one man recounting the bitter sweet memories and adventures of his childhood. His love for the woods… his draw to them… but also his fear.
Similar to a classic ghost story the ‘horror’ is subtle and unnerving, while the ‘fantasy’ is simply a glimpse into another reality.

The little people are our antagonists, spoken of in whispers and presented in their true form; age old beings which transpose boundaries- taken seriously and sitting in mysterious juxtaposition with the secular world.


The Review


It was quite a compelling story that the main character, Adam, spun. The imagination of this twelve year old boy was impressive and will take you back to the days you spent outside playing as a child.  At times I felt that the novel was a bit description heavy. (OK, pretty much the whole novel but on the plus side the world around Adam was easy to envision!)

 “I thought at first that he might grab me if I moved too close, rationally to ruffle my hair like so many old people like to do, or irrationally to gobble me up like some ogre from a fairy tale.  So I crept slowly forward, shuffling step by step, taking in the view of a man so old he could die at any moment, or already was, and was in fact an animated corpse. “

The novel was quite unique, I can’t say that I have ever read a story like it before. Somewhat supernatural, yet not overly so. More ties to folklore than anything. As a twelve year old boy, Adams character was very well developed and became someone that I worried over. He seemed somewhat too perceptive though. (I guess that ties back to the descriptive nature of this story). It took me quite a while to figure out where the story was actually going, and even when I thought that I knew, I was mistaken. It was refreshing however, for a novel to lack the predictability that most novels these day seem to have. It was constantly surprising me and after a while I had to give up my guessing game and wait to see. (A lot like a long drive and your parents finally saying ‘We’ll get there when we get there!’)

  “He looked at me, checking that he had my attention, waiting for the last words to leave the atmosphere before hitting me with more.  His big line:
“You was pixy-led my boy.””

It was a slower paced novel but when Adam meets his friends the story picks up pace. Still not one of those ‘can’t put the novel down due to constant cliff hangers at the end of every chapter’ books but one of those relaxed reads that tells an amazing tale if you only have the patience to read it. I’m unaccustomed to faery folklore but this novel brings it out well, both informing and creating a wonderful story full of trickery and awe.

My only complaint with this novel was that the exciting moments, and there were plenty of them, didn’t seem to last long enough before they were over. At moments where the reader gets pulled completely in and has a ‘can’t put the book down’ moment it was over all too soon. I wish those thrilling moments would have lasted longer. Other than that, I honestly thought it was a great read.


I would recommend this to the patient reader, the reader that doesn’t mind a slow paced novel full of awe and wonder. The reader that can appreciate the descriptive world that the author has painted with words alone. 
(Review written by Kristine Schwartz)

About the Author

Born in Hertfordshire England Stephen had a hard time adjusting and finding his place in the world. His sensitive and artistic nature outcast him somewhat, and his mental health suffered throughout those teenage and young adult years.

But, ultimately, it was a journey and writing has always accompanied him along the way.Now more positive, older, and wiser at the grand age of 40 he writes with a potent message which comes from a deep love of the natural world.

To write, and to breathe the words of nature is the place where Stephen belongs, doing something he truly loves.

The faeries and spirits of the woods have always asked to be heard, and Stephen has offered to be their voice.


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Saturday, August 1, 2015

Doctor-Patient Confidentiality - Eme Strife



The first volume of this series deserves 5 STARS for its interesting characters, intriguing plotline, almost flawless storytelling, and promises of steaming hot scenes to come…

Schwartz Synopsis

Ramona “Roni” Gallo is a 24-year-old music student who is in a desperate financial situation. Aside from her grandmother (who lives miles away) and best friend, she basically has no one to depend on—money matters or not. It doesn’t help that she has been worrying for an upcoming group performance or that she has been feeling ill for the past month and that being sick costs a lot. As if all these troubles aren’t worth worrying enough, her past she can’t deal with seems to resurface. Part of this past leaves her with the fear of falling in love. She used to have no difficulty with avoiding commitments and ignoring her attraction to the opposite sex. Then, there was a last minute change of physician…and then there was Doctor Dexter Frost…

My greatest fear isn’t dying broke or starving to death or being alone for the rest of my life. Not even the thought of having maggots crawling out of my nose makes my system shut down like the thought of being deeply in love with someone.

Schwartz Thoughts

I read this knowing that it is the first volume of a series and that it ends in a cliffhanger. I usually avoid reading books ending in cliffhangers unless I have secured the second book. I have made an exception with this one, obviously. Even If I am now dying with excitement to get a hold of that next volume, I can’t help but gush! This book will totally intrigue you and keep you so involved you won’t want it to end!

That prologue is just awesome! Everyone is talking about Epic Epilogues (I include myself here) but what about Panty-melting Prologues??? The prologue is hot and all, but by the way that it was written, the author was clearly aiming to capture our interest and devour every page.

Short reads usually lack a well-paced story progression, which is vital in setting the mood of the narrative, and is linked with character development. I love that this one doesn’t sacrifice character development in order to stick with the intended length. I get to know a lot about Roni’s character by the end of this book. I decided early on in my reading that she’s definitely going to make it to my not-so-long list of favorite heroines. I still have questions about her, sure, but those questions just get me more and more curious, hooked, and intrigued. The characterization is just so powerful that even the secondary characters capture my interest. I crave to learn more about them in the coming books. My “literary instinct” rarely fails me so I believe this series is going to have endearing secondary characters as well. Although Doctor Frost’s character is only introduced by the last chapter, his literary presence is intense. All in all, what makes this a great, short read is the good writing (how I love the word choice!) and characterization. If this first volume is just a taste of what’s yet to come, then I would definitely read the next volume!

I look up to meet his eyes, and my breath catches in my throat as the iciest, coldest pair of eyes settle on mine. They’re beyond intimidating, and they seem to pierce through my very soul with their frosty, pale blue color. They give off this strangely intense vibe that I’ve never experienced before, and I can’t seem to look away from them. They’re alluring and enticing and frightening all at once. It’s almost like looking into the eyes of a beautiful serial killer. You know it will be the end of you, but can’t for the look of you look away.

Recommendation


I highly recommend this book to all the true-blooded New Adult lovers out there! As long as you can put up with a cliffhanger, this one’s for you.

(Review written by Lyka)

About the Author

Eme is an unconventional New Adult Paranormal-slash-Urban Fantasy and Contemporary Romance writer (and a bit of a sarcastic smart-ass) who might be going through a quarter-life crisis even though she is in denial of it.
Lucky for her, she has several sarcastic, upbeat, and severely vulgar imaginary friends to give her some semblance of normalcy.

She loves writing about said imaginary friends--although she does so mostly because they never seem to shut the hell up.
She's also addicted to Family Guy, American Dad, and Pandora (the online radio site, not the evil box), drinks an ungodly amount of Red Bull at any given time, wants to marry Seth MacFarlane at some point, and occasionally eats bacon and popcorn together (^_^).

You can keep up to speed with Eme, her books, future publications, updates, and her unconventional life at www.emendedscribbles.com, chat with her on Facebook, chirp away on Twitter, or just shoot her good old fashioned email at emestrife@gmail.com. She's always eager to hear from you, so don't be shy. Drop a line!

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Thursday, July 30, 2015

The House on 211 - L. A. Maldonado



A seriously, haunted story of demons and ghosts galore is rated at FIVE STARS for being a real, chilling page turner that will keep the reader on the edge of their seat.


Schwartz Synopsis

Will has spent his past years working hard in New York City, and the time has finally come for change. A change from the big and busy city life to the quiet country life of Meadows, Texas. Breaking the news to his family, they pack up and make the long drive to their new home. This new life of theirs will be different. This is their dream home, but will it be their dream life? Only time will tell, the question is: Will they have enough time to figure it out?

Laying there, Benjy shouts over to his cousin, “A-Are you seeing this?”
“I really wish I wasn’t,” Nathan answers, his voice quivers.

Schwartz Thoughts

It has been a while since I have read a horror novel. Like, a long time. So when I was approached by L. A. Maldonado to read The House on 211, I jumped at the opportunity to sink my teeth into a good scare. I was not disappointed. I found the beginning well written, so well in fact that it truly will suck you in. So, this book will hook you in, but will it keep you reading you ask…Why, yes of course! Almost every chapter ends with quite the hook that you just have to keep turning the pages. You need to find out what is going on even if you are two steps away from throwing the book in the freezer for the night…(I didn’t do that…really…)

It is written in third person, which originally, I was not a fan of. However, after reading a few chapters I began to enjoy it a whole lot more. Third person allowed the author to dive deeper into the story, grab more haunting lines, and deliver a chilling story. Another thing I wanted to mention was the romance, every book has it, but in this one, it was minimal. You knew what was happening (wink wink) but the author chose not to rub your face in the naughty parts…Which was quite refreshing.

Description. We all know how touchy description is with me. This book actually did it perfectly, my opinion of course. It wasn’t over done to the point that it bores the reader, but it wasn’t under done either. The author found that thin line and walked upon it, telling his story beautifully (well, a bit gorily, but it’s a horror story!)

Characters were super well done. I fell in love with a few, rooting them on. Others I hated, like thoroughly hated. However, it was a good hate, an acceptable hate. Not an ‘I hate this authors character’ hate, but rather a ‘this author created such a great hateable character’ hate. That makes sense, right?
Ok, so you know how when you watch scary movies and the dumb blonde is heading up the stairs and you’re sat there screaming away at your television telling her to run outside already? That totally happens in this book! I mean, not the dumb blonde heading up the stairs bit, but the reader being sat there screaming at the book characters! Don’t do that! Do this! Oh my God! RUN! I got right into this book. I got snappy at one of the characters, I gasped at the scary parts. Basically, it garnered an actual audible reaction from me several times (You may not want to read around others…). However, any book that can get a reaction from you like that, well that’s a good book in my opinion.

Very freaky beginning, completely creepy middle, and a horrific ending. Pick it up and read it…Just make sure you have some room in your freezer ;)

“Don’t tell your little sister to ‘shut up’,” his mother scolds him, threatening the boy with a knife.


Recommendation

Do you love horror? What about haunting's? Scary page-turners with a hook around every corner? Seriously, read this book!


About the Author

L.A. MALDONADO was born and raised in Pompano Beach, Florida. At the age of 17, he moved to West Texas for the next 16 years. In 2010 he thought it would be a good idea to head back to his roots in home state.

Maldonado now lives in Lehigh Acres, Florida, with his small family and two dogs, Esme and Sammy. He's a fan of most things geeky (think: Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Charmed, Once Upon A Time, The Walking Dead, all kind of books like Beautiful Creatures, The Vampire Chronicles, Twilight Saga, The Hunger Games, Fear Street, Harry Potter...). He has been in love with books since he was given his first novel on his 8th birthday called "I Know What You Did Last Summer" by Lois Duncan, way before Hollywood ever thought of making a Blockbuster movie out of it.

Everyone who knew him in school says that he is caring, giving, and the brave one out of the group of friends. Every time you see Maldonado, he always has a book in his hand reading. While he was in high school he wrote poems and short stories and had a number of them published in the school newspaper.


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Sunday, July 19, 2015

Cathryn Chapman - Interview

The Interview 


Today we have a wonderful post set up for all of our readers! I was lucky enough to interview the lovely Cathryn Chapman, author of ‘Sex, Lies, & Cruising’! Which, if you have not pre-ordered your copy yet… What are you waiting for? It is such a page-turner! A super fun read!

Readers can download the first ten chapters for free on Cathryn Chapman's website if they'd like to give the book a try first! Just click HERE!

So where was I? Oh, yes! Interviewing the lovely Cathryn Chapman! Sorry to make you wait love. Let’s jump to it with my favourite question for any author:

When did you know that you wanted to be an author?

I’ve gone through phases with my career aspirations. In high school, my favourite English teacher suggested I write for Mills & Boon, but back then, besides knowing nothing about relationships (I was 14!), we also didn’t have the internet, so the idea of doing that for a living was quite ridiculous. I also was in a world where nobody really supported creative career dreams. My parents were totally supportive of me having a creative outlet in my life (dancing, singing, etc), but I don’t think anybody believed there were realistic jobs for me outside something like law or business.

So it was really a few years ago, after spending over seven years of my adult life living and working in other countries, including a whole lot of crazy behaviour, online dating, etc, that people started saying “You should write a book about your life.” I just thought, “I’m not famous. Nobody wants to read my memoir.” But over time, the idea morphed into writing fiction instead. Then I’m not limited to write one book. I could write at least twenty books inspired by all the crazy stuff I’ve done!

The internet has made several things possible where before they were just not available to people. I can understand why your idea of writing is recent. I can’t imagine wanting to be a writer without the internet available for both research and/or marketing. That being said, you must have had quite a different upbringing than the children of today. Want to tell us a bit about that?

I’m the youngest of five children, born in Sydney, Australia, then moved up the coast to Brisbane when I was about seven. My father grew up without money, so he was always determined to be successful – my parents became successful in my teens – and they traveled a lot. They didn’t take me with them on holidays and business trips, because Dad said I needed to make my own way in life, so I was really motivated to travel. I did a Bachelor of Business, majoring in Film and Television Production and minoring in Marketing, but all I wanted to do is go to London for a year. I saved 50% of my temp job salary each week, sold my car, and went to London at 21. I stayed for three and a half years in the end, and have been travelling on and off ever since. “Itchy feet, just like your father,” my mother used to say.

At the age of 31, I left a successful Public Relations Agency to go and work on cruise ships again – which I had also done in my twenties. I had my heart broken and decided to move to Paris to try and sing for a living… and then to London. I studied singing, dancing, acting, and accents, including a semester in NYC, but was never able to make it to the West End. My father got sick and I rushed home to be with him, but he died a week later, and when I got back to London a week after that, I finally had my big opportunity – an audition for the part of Rizzo in the professional production of Grease in London’s West End – but I was in shock... my heart wasn’t in it, and it was a terrible experience. I think I lost my confidence, and ended up taking a job as a Resident Entertainer in a holiday park in Cornwall, England. That’s where I met a bartender named Andres, who is now my husband… so I guess it turned out well after all – even if it’s not the result I was working towards!

So you actually worked on cruise ships? Wow! So can we believe that what you wrote in ‘Sex, Lies, & Cruising’ is actually a possible description that resembles reality on cruise ships for their staff?

It is definitely a work of fiction, but like many women, I do have some things in common with Ellie. Like many of us, she makes some ordinary decisions with men, and in a cruise ship environment, it’s more complicated and fast moving than ‘the real world’. My own personal experience probably contributes to about half a scene, or two pages, in the book. I haven’t done everything Ellie does, or been through everything she has, although I or one of my friends probably know somebody who has.

So, that being said. That leads me to our next question! When did you publish your first novel? Or, when will you publish your first novel?

This is it!

Wow! Congratulations! That is a huge accomplishment! Especially when your first novel comes so well rated! Can you tell us a bit about your novel. For starters, what genre is it and what genre do you see yourself typically writing in the future?

My first few books will definitely be in the chick lit/rom com genre

And what about this genre draws you in? Tell us why this is your chosen genre to write.

I think it’s the most natural voice for me. I’ve also done lots of stupid things regarding men, dating, and life in general, so I can write easily about girls who also do stupid things in their love lives!

Can your readers expect any other genres from you in the future?

I definitely want to write a historical romance. I have a plan for a book inspired by my grandparents meeting in Malta before WWII. I aspire to write something as beautiful as The Bronze Horseman by Paullina Simons, but I need a lot of practice writing before I tackle that one!

Where, may I ask, do you get your ideas and inspiration from for writing? Where did the idea for ‘Sex, Lies, & Cruising’ come from?

This book was mostly inspired by my jobs on cruise ships in my twenties and thirties -- I worked on them ‘on and off’. So many crazy things happen on ships – you really have no idea until you get there. Some people love it and some people don’t. I’m probably one of the latter. There are definite benefits to working on ships, but although I was no angel, I couldn’t get past the way people behaved when they thought you wouldn’t be part of their life for the long term, and also the way they behaved when they were away from their unsuspecting partners at home.

This leads me to ask, because I’m sure the readers are eager to know, what is the most taboo thing you have ever seen as a staff member of a cruise ship?

Definitely all the cheating – in all its forms. Men who had a wife and kids at home, and a girlfriend on the ship. When his wife came on board for a vacation, the girlfriend would move out of his cabin for the week and basically pretend she didn’t know him. Nobody would breathe a word. Then the night his wife went home, the girlfriend would move back in as though nothing had happened. The guys often pretend their wives don’t exist, maybe until the day before she arrives. I unknowingly got involved with a married man because he’d conveniently neglected to mention his wife over a two month period, until she was arriving the next day with their children, and his mother! I didn’t confront her, but I cried my eyes out when I saw them together. The guys are very forgetful with details at times, so it happened more than once. I guess I’m too trusting.

Possibly what was even worse, were the people who cheated on their partners who were actually on the ship with them. When one person was working or asleep, their partner would jump into bed with someone else. Horrific.

Wow! That would be something! That is the difference between bro code and sister code eh?
What about future works that we will see from you? Where are all these idea’s going to come from?

For future books, I’ve got a whole lot of ideas, inspired by the experiences I’ve had in my dating life and travels around the world.

That just means that we can expect more greatness from you. Your travels have brought a bunch of crazy books our way I’m sure. So, how many books do you see in your writing career? If you had to guess right now, of course!

20 is a figure which comes to mind… No idea why. I hope I’ll write a lot. I’m only 40, so that’s a couple a year until I’m too tired to look at a computer anymore, haha.

I hope you allow The Schwartz Reviews to be a reviewer of your future work! I thoroughly enjoyed book number one! Now, to something extremely important, because we all know how much I adore book covers. Seriously, a good book cover will get me every time… And, your book art was fabulous! Where did the idea for that masterpiece come from?

It was a combination of ideas from myself and my great friend and talented designer, Jo Kuipers. I had actually had at least three covers designed previously, by freelance designers. I didn’t fall in love with any of them, as they didn’t represent the right ‘feel’ of the book. So we had a big chat about what chick lit covers should look like, although I didn’t want a full illustration… then I left her to it, and she came up with something very similar to this, using a different model. The model’s expression and hands didn’t quite work, so I found the new photo; then a friend of mine in Tunisia changed her hair colour and added some saturation to her lips, and Jo put it onto the background. Hey presto, we had the perfect cover! Lots of people are responding well to it, so that’s really exciting to hear.

It is such a lovely cover! Bright, and exciting and I think that it matches the novel perfectly!

Another tough question. I know how difficult it is for a reader to answer the “Who is your favourite author?” question, because most readers have several. So, the same question to an author: Who is your author role model? And why?

I’m not sure if I have just one. I do love how Jackie Collins isn’t afraid to put it out there. She’s so fabulous and has written a huge amount of great books. While I’ve only read a few, I’ve enjoyed the ones I’ve read, and find her long term success in the industry to be a real inspiration.

Oooh, she is a good author! Plus, every author aspires for the long term success. I can easily see why she would be any author’s role model!

This question is a fun one. As a reader, I live many lives through the novels that I read. But as an interviewer, one of my favourite questions to ask is: What does a typical day in your shoes look like?

At the moment, I’m up at around 4-4.30am most days. I try to spend half an hour to an hour working on book promotion, social media, and catching up with news, before my three year old wakes up at 5-5.30am. I go back to bed and lie with him for at least half an hour to an hour, cuddling him while he drinks his rice milk. Then I do the morning routine, like getting ready for work, and usually leave home later than planned at around 7.30am. I work in marketing for a large non-profit, and get to leave around 4pm, depending on what time I arrived. When I get home, I spend time with my son, prepare dinner, and take turns with my husband doing the evening routine. When he goes to sleep around 7pm, I go back to my computer to work on my book, promotion, or whatever, until about 9.30pm. Okay, that’s a lie. I’m often still sitting in my office at 11pm – and then I curse myself and rush to bed before waking up at 4 and doing it all over again. Sometimes I also have client work to do for a marketing consultancy I freelance for. Once or twice a week I try to have a night out with my husband – we’re lucky that my mum lives downstairs from us – but I’m always tired.

Oh wow! I got tired just hearing about your typical day! I remember when my children were young. They have grown quite a bit now (ages 7-10), but toddlers! They know how to keep a house busy, don’t they? The cursing yourself for staying up too late, that happens to me more times than not as well. Usually because I’m reading and don’t notice the time creeping by. Tired. I understand that.

Can you tell us what you always have near-by when you are writing?

When we moved into our current house, I managed to negotiate the third bedroom to be my writing room. I decorated it all in pinks, and I have a comfy armchair, bookshelves, and a fairly small desk. I tend to drink a lot of almond milk Chai with honey. I keep a little notebook by my keyboard, and have lots of family photos on the shelves, a watercolour of a rainy NYC on the wall, and a vase of flowers on my desk, which I keep hinting to my husband to fill. I don’t have anything special with me, but I love writing in my beautiful room.

I can picture it perfectly. Sounds like a lovely room to write in! And to think that my office is generally in my kitchen at the table…or in the living room on my couch (oh, the joys of my laptop!).

I have to ask, what are you ambitions for your writing career?

 I promised myself that by Christmas 2015, I’d be writing full-time after the success of my first two novels. I’ve been visualising selling a million books and getting the book adapted for a TV series with HBO or similar. Nothing major, haha.

If this book was turned into a television show or movie, who would you want to play Ellie?

Romola Garai. She’s a fabulous British actress who has done lots of theatre, and been in films like Atonement. My publicist is talking to people about adapting the book for TV, and has offered Romola a copy, so you never know!

She looks like the perfect Ellie! I really hope it works out for the best! It would be an interesting show to watch for sure!

This leads us to your novel! Let’s tell the readers more about this amazing novel! Can you share with us the blurb from your book?

Exotic locations, sexy men, and crazy crew parties… Ellie has her dream job… or does she?
When Ellie's fiancĂ© cheats on her with a younger, slimmer, blonde from the office, she boots him out of her life and finds solace in a fabulous photography job aboard a Caribbean cruise ship. Twenty-four hours on board and she’s already shagged her sexy Texan colleague, who happens to love her muffin-top. Unfortunately he’s leaving in a week, and his ex-girlfriend, a hot-headed Brazilian with stripper moves right out of the 90s and a talent for stealing boyfriends, is still on board and out for revenge.

Ellie must work out how to deal with the loco ex, sort the lying scumbags from the good guys, and figure out how many crew members in a cabin it takes before officially becoming group sex. Who the hell knows? (It’s five, actually.) It’s a world completely unlike the one she left behind, but as she tries to find her place on board, Ellie discovers laughter and tears in equal measure. And in the midst of the craziness, she realises the greatest thing this lifestyle change has given her is the chance to rediscover herself.

If that doesn’t peak their interest, I don’t know what will! But, just to elaborate some, what did you LOVE about the characters?

I created them from scratch, and wanted them to become a good group of characters who worked off each other, and they started to become real to me throughout the process. Towards the end of the book, they started to take on personalities of their own a bit, which I had read about, but never believed really happened. Although I planned my outline in advance, there were a couple of times the characters urged me to do something not in the plan – like have group sex – which is something I hadn’t planned for them, but they wanted to do!

I found that your characters were extremely well developed. They seemed like completely real people to me as I read your novel. They were a lot of fun and had me on the edge of my seat a lot of the time just waiting for the next crazy scene to unfold!

What would you say was the best part of writing ‘Sex, Lies, & Cruising’?

I think it was the days when my writing flowed. There are days when you feel like you’re a rubbish writer, and nobody will ever want to read the drivel you’re churning out. Then there are days when thousands of words flow in a matter of hours, and you feel better again. It was quite fun revisiting places I’d been on ships, and imagining it coming to life as a TV series later – I really visualised a lot of it. That was fun. It was also fantastic when people read my first drafts. My mum kept saying, “You’ve got no idea what it’s like to read a book and think, ‘my daughter wrote this’.” She was so proud, so that was lovely.

Awe! That would be an incredible feeling. Can you tell us more about what your family thinks of your writing?

They’re incredibly supportive. My mum lives downstairs from us, so she helps a lot with our son, the cleaning, and the cooking. My husband and I take it in turns to do the bedroom routine for our little angel, and when I have really busy periods, they entertain him while I work. I try to minimise spending time in my office when he’s awake, and save it until he’s asleep at night – but there are times I’m just too tired to only work in the evening. I’m a morning person… so if I really need a clear head, I work during the day, and they take care of things. I keep telling them that one day I’ll sell a million books and provide them with a fabulous lifestyle, so perhaps that helps keep them motivated!

That is an amazing support system you have there! You sound like a very lucky woman.
I have to ask: What do you want readers to know about ‘Sex, Lies, & Cruising’?

That although I wanted the environment onboard the fictional ship to be fairly realistic to what really happens on ships in general – where they say life moves four times’ faster than real life –I also worked at creating well rounded, fun characters, planning the plot carefully to keep things interesting, and to keep things moving. Even if it’s light-hearted, and not high end literary fiction, I wanted it to be a page turner, and so far, everybody’s told me that is the case.

It definitely is a page-turner. And you answered one of my questions in my review as well! After reading your novel, I was wondering if it told the story of working on an actual cruise ship. I may just have to switch careers and party for a bit!

Serious question now. What is the hardest thing about writing?

For me, it’s been having a fear that I’m not going to be any good. That I’m going to sit down and the words won’t come. That what I write will be rubbish, then I’ll fail at it as a career, and have to admit I’m no good and the career change will never happen. So there are lots of times I procrastinate sitting at my computer. I put it off because then I don’t have to face the fear!

I don’t think that will happen. Your first book was amazing. But that does lead me to my next question, writer’s block. I feel that it would be closely related to that fear. So, how do you deal with writer’s block. And, how do you face the fear?

To finish this book I made a rule – that seven days a week, no matter how tired I was, or whether I felt like it or not, that I would sit and write for a minimum of 15 minutes. That way, if the words didn’t flow, or everything I wrote was rubbish, I only had to sit there for 15 minutes, and I’d still know I tried my best. Sometimes, those nights I didn’t feel like writing turned into three hours and 3,000 words – so you never know when the writer’s block will clear!

That is some good advice to anyone out there aspiring to be a writer! Such a great idea. I’m so glad that it worked out for you!

Tell me, what do you think the best thing about writing is?

That nobody except me can write my novel, so on the days I feel more confident, I feel good that I can tell the story exactly as I like. And the words flow!

That must be a great feeling! It sounds a lot like how I feel writing my reviews, but on a smaller scale. Here is another one of my favourite questions for authors, because the answer always differs from author to author. How long does it take to write a book, in your experience?

I’ve only written this one book, so I don’t have much experience in that area. However, I can tell you that it took me about two years to write this, but with lots of breaks. I started it when my son was six weeks old, and I would often write while he was asleep. In hindsight, I should have slept too – which all the baby books suggest for good reason – I got completely exhausted and nearly drove myself into the ground. So I took a break for at least nine months to get my sanity back. I had only written about eight chapters in that time too, so it was going very slowly. When I got back into it, it was the same – and I thought I’d never finish. That’s when I created the rule of sitting down for fifteen minutes every night, regardless of how I was feeling. I finished the last 13 chapters in about three months. Given I had a baby and a full-time job by then, I think it wasn’t too bad.

I’ve given myself ten weeks to write book two, so we’ll see how that goes!

I would have to say, that given your busy life and the quality of the novel, you did a great job. Another book! Can you tell us a bit about what your second novel will be like? Or is it a secret?

It will follow Ellie on her next adventure… and she’ll have to make a tough decision or two. Ummm, it’s best left there I think. If people read ‘Sex, Lies, and Cruising’, there will be a brief description of the next book at the end. There’s a blurb on my website too, but I don’t recommend reading it – as personally, I like having no idea of what will happen in the second book while I’m reading the first one!

Ellie was such a compelling character that any book following her as a character is bound to be interesting and inspiring. I’m sold!

As a reviewer, I review a lot of novels for authors who have self-published. Can you tell us a little about your decision to self-publish? And do you see yourself continuing down the self-published path in the future?

I always had an idea that I wanted to self-publish. I work in marketing, so I had an idea how to promote. I like to have control, and I’m fairly impatient – and published books take a long time to be released – so it felt like the natural choice. But my mentor said it was a shame to not give the book a chance at traditional publishing and suggested I try and get an agent. Some agents can receive up to something like 15,000 submissions from authors each year, and may take on one or two. The odds aren’t good, and even if you get published, a debut author has to do a lot of publicity anyway. I figured that when I self-published and became successful, the agents would come looking for me, anyway. So I tried, but my heart wasn’t in it. A voice was yelling in my head every day “YOU NEED TO SELF-PUBLISH!” and I eventually listened.

I’m really not sure about the future. I’ll have to see what happens. You never know, I might get an offer I just can’t refuse!


Ok, so your not sure about whether you will be self-publishing in the future, but generally speaking, where do you see yourself in the future? 

Well, obviously I would definitely love to write full-time. I love working from home and sitting in my comfy writing room, drinking tea and doing the odd bit of social media too. There’s nothing I want more than to do that for a while. Further to that, I’d love to have Sex, Lies, and Cruising made into a TV series. As I mentioned before, I’ve hired a publicist in LA, and she’s trying to help make that happen – so watch this space!

In terms of location, it’s hard for me to imagine not spending more time living overseas again. It’s in my blood. I wouldn’t mind going back to the UK, but outside London… and hopefully to NYC for a while too.

I can't wait to see more from you in the future! I loved your debut novel and I am positive that future works will be popular as well. Thank you for taking the time out of your busy writing schedule to participate in this interview with The Schwartz Reviews!


About the Author 


Cathryn Chapman nearly gave up her writing career when her eighth grade English teacher refused to believe her sensual poem could have been written by somebody so young. Two years later, when Cathryn was fourteen, that same English teacher declared she should start writing for Mills & Boon, and a women’s fiction writer was born. Cathryn graduated from university with a business degree and spent seven years travelling the world — working on cruise ships and living in London, New York, Paris, and South America. In her thirties, she left a successful marketing and public relations career to pursue her dream of gracing the stages in London’s West End. When this failed dismally, Cathryn settled down in Brisbane with her husband and baby boy, and finally stayed in one place long enough to write her first novel, SEX, LIES, AND CRUISING.
 
She is currently working on the sequel, LOVE, DRUGS, AND NEW YORK, due for pre-order in July and release in October.
 

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