RSS Feed

Monthly Archives: June 2014

Blog Tour: Kate’s Escape from the Billable Hour by Petula Parker..

Posted on

Kate's Escape

Petula Parker’s debut novel Kate’s Escape from the Billable Hour has stopped by my blog today, as part of it’s blog tour. Today I have an exclusive Q+A with the author herself where you’ll get to learn a bit more about her and Kate’s Escape. But before that let’s learn a little bit more about the book itself. Enjoy!


Blurb:

Kate Billings, a burnt-out, second-year attorney working in the dysfunctional world of Big Law, regains consciousness after a late night, career-ending meltdown at the office. Can she scramble to undo the damage? Or does she even want to?

Kate is a Red Bull-dependent, yoga-hating attorney at Krapp & Lipschitz, L.L.P., Arizona’s largest and worst-dressed law firm. At first blush, Kate leads an enviable life. At only 26, she earns a six-figure salary, owns a quaint downtown bungalow, and has managed to shed the 80 pounds that have plagued her for most of her adulthood.

A devastating performance review by firm partners Krapp, Butts, and Waddleberger, however, calls Kate’s chosen career into question. Her confusion is compounded by a stranger’s innocent inquiry: “Are you happy?” Finally, when Kate receives her annual bonus — consisting of a smoked ham and skin concealer — she cracks. Upon realizing that she has been passively allowing her life to unfold under the belief that at some point things would just click into being perfect, Kate ransacks the partners’ offices, quits her job, and buys a one-way ticket to Barcelona, planning to stalk (“it’s not ‘stalking,’ it’s ‘reconnaissance'”) the Spanish exchange student she has been secretly in love with since high school.


Q+A Time!

1) Introduce yourself.

I’m Petula Parker, and “Kate’s Escape from the Billable Hour” is my first novel. It’s based on my many years spent practicing law in mammoth law firms, and, of course, time spent in Spain. I’ve probably spent over five years collectively in Spain, so all of the Spain references, from the television shows to the Spanish-language idioms to the food, are pretty authentic.

2) Why Chick-Lit?

I wanted to write in a genre where comedy is not only tolerated, but expected. A genre that doesn’t take itself too seriously, where the protagonist is permitted to be a bit self-obsessed and crazy, but still likeable and relatable. And where there is not as much judgment. With that said, I think so many popular stories from other art forms would fall into the broad “chick-lit” arena, such as the television show “Thirty Rock,” the movie “Bridesmaids,” and (a personal favorite from a long time ago) the iconic movie “Nine to Five.”

3) What or who was your inspiration for Kate’s Escape from the Billable Hour?

I was basically inspired by my years at behemoth corporate law firms, and the numerous characters I encountered there. You can bounce from law firm to law firm, and you always find the same people in the halls. I know some people might read “Kate’s Escape” and question the authenticity of some of the more egregious law firm characters — Marcus Butts, for example — but let me tell you, I have known at least three Marcus Buttses during my legal career, and the Butts character portrayed in “Kate’s Escape” could actually be considered a watered-down, more humorous version of the real, flesh-and-bone Buttses working in Big Law. But there are also many people at large law firms like Kate’s mentor Jillian, who are supportive and nurturing. I wanted to show readers the fun but also overwhelming and absurd environment that a large law firm can be for a newly-minted attorney. I was also inspired by the little-known fact that so many attorneys in the world of Big Law have escape plans. Get a few beers into a Big-Law attorney, and they’ll eventually tell you that they are only doing the job until they pay off their law school loans, or are forty years old, or what have you, at which time they will do what they really want to do. Sad thing is, that day never comes. I wanted to play with the idea that a younger attorney might catch a glimpse of what lies ahead and proactively decide to take fate into her own hands, societal expectations and judgment be damned.

4) What are the 3 things you liked best about Kate?

I like that she remains naïve and idealistic throughout the narrative. I like the ugly-swan aspect of Kate, that she was and will forever remain a socially-awkward “geek” in love with Chewbacca, no matter how polished she may appear on the outside. And I like that at times she is bat-sh*t crazy.

5) What did you find the most difficult to do, whilst writing this book?

By far the most difficult thing was balancing real-life schedules and responsibilities with writing. I’d often write in the hours between 4:00 am to 6:am, before the house and city wake up. I also found it emotionally difficult to edit out plot lines and characters interwoven throughout the book during the final editing process. You get attached to the characters you create! It almost feels like amputating a limb. But in the end, upon a fresh read of the book, those were the right decisions.

6) What books have influenced you the most?

Gosh, I love to read! But, at least with respect to this book, I can’t say I was influenced by any book in particular. I was, instead, influenced by the desire to make a woman a strong, but fragile, comedic heroine who drives the narrative along. If anything, you could say I was inspired a bit by the television show “I Love Lucy,” where Lucy and Ethel always manage to get themselves into outrageous situations, that are fun to watch but also cringe-inducing.

7) Who is your favourite author and why?

Wow, I cannot narrow this down. I LOVE Margaret Atwood, Alain de Botton, Rushdie, Hemingway, Eudora Welty, Kurt Vonnegut, and I could go on. But in terms of sitting down with a book and laughing my *ss off, you can’t beat Laurie Notaro or Jenny Lawson. And Elizabeth Gilbert — as a writer and a person — will always inspire me.

8) What book are you reading right now?

Two books right now: “The Goldfinch” by Donna Tartt, and “I Was Blind But Now I See” by James Altucher. I’ve just started “the Goldfinch” and the first chapters — with Theo Decker’s futile waiting for his mother to come home — had me in tears, so much so that I’ve had to put the book down for a week; I tear up just thinking about picking it up again, but I know I need to in order to get through that sad place right now. The Altucher book is golden. I just discovered Altucher this year, on Linked In of all places. His blog and his books provide shockingly realistic, funny, in-your-face recipes for how to wake up and live an authentic life, whatever that may look like.

9) If writing books didn’t work out, what would you do for a living?

I’m a sucker for fixing up old houses and am addicted to HGTV, especially any show where a couple buys an old house in a foreign locale and fixes it up. So I would love to rescue and rehabilitate crumbling castles. That’s probably why I love the book and movie “Under the Tuscan Sun.”

10) Can we expect a sequel for Kate’s Escape from the Billable Hour?

Readers have already asked for a sequel, but I would only write a sequel if I were sure the story line fit Kate’s character trajectory, and I’m struggling with that right now. A prequel, I could definitely see.

11) Any other new and exciting projects expected in the future?

Right now I have a number of plot lines going on in my head, and I carry a notebook around so I can capture any new characters or language that come to me spontaneously during the day. So yes, I do have several books taking shape right now. It’s a very fun process!


Quick Fire-Round:

1) Favourite colour?

Anything but beige

2) Favourite book?

“Possession” by A. S. Byatt and “Status Anxiety” by Alain de Botton

3) Favourite fictional character?

Buck McNutter in “A Man in Full” by Tom Wolfe. I have known so many Buck McNutters!

4) Favourite word?

Dude!

5) Favourite movie?

“Room with a View,” “Love, Actually,” and “Blades of Glory.” (And anything “Indiana Jones”! But, Harrison Ford, enough with that earring, already!)

6) Favourite T.V. Show?

“House Hunters International” and “Silicon Valley”

7) Describe yourself in 3 words.

Spontaneous, over-caffeinated, and optimistic

 There you go folks! Thanks for stopping by Petula! I had a great time and hope you did too! If you would like to buy Kate’s Escape, you can do so here.

The Good Children by Roopa Farooki..

Posted on

good-children-master-3d

Blurb:

Leaving home is one thing. Surviving is another.

1940s Lahore, the Punjab. Two brothers and their two younger sisters are brought up to be ‘good children’, who do what they’re told. Beaten and browbeaten by their manipulative mother, to study, honour and obey. Sully, damaged and brilliant, Jakie, irreverent and passionate. Cynical Mae and soft-hearted Lana, outshone and too easily dismissed.

The boys escape their repressive home to study medicine abroad, abandoning their sisters to their mother and marriages. Sully falls in love with an unsuitable Indian girl in the States; Jakie with an unsuitable white man in London. Their sisters in Pakistan refuse to remain trophy wives, and disgrace the family while they strike out to build their own lives.

As they raise their own families, and return to bury the dead, Sully and Jakie, Mae and Lana, face the consequences of their decisions, and learn that leaving home doesn’t mean it will ever leave them.

THE GOOD CHILDREN is a compelling story of discipline and disobedience, punishment and the pursuit of passion, following the children of a game-changing generation and the ties that bind them across cultures, continents and decades. Painful and sweet, tough and surprising, it is a landmark epic of the South Asian immigrant experience.

Review:

First of all I would like to thank the lovely people at Headline Publishing, for kindly sending me a copy of The Good Children via Bookbridgr. This book took me a while to get through, not because I didn’t enjoy it but because I wanted to treasure it for as long as I possibly could.

The novel had me hooked from the start and I was immediately transported into a 1940s Lahore, in Pakistan. Coming from an Indian background, I was able to relate to the culture and identity of Pakistan fairly easily, as it is quite similar to that of India’s. The rich details that were put into the descriptions of Lahore completely immerse you into the story regardless of whether or not you have ever been there.

The story revolves around the lives of four siblings: Sulaman, Jakie, Mae and Lana. In the beginning we follow their lives from their childhood and eventually how they branch out of their small house onto bigger and better things. Throughout their lives their mother is a constant presence, whether she’s there in person or in their memories. Even after the children somewhat escape, she continues to hover over them like a dark cloud, always reminding them that no matter where they go, they can never really forget who they are and where they come from.

The brothers, Sulaman and Jakie are passionate, troubled young men that have a jest for life and go to other ends of the world to achieve just that. The sisters, Mae and Lana, simple yet beautiful find a means of escape through their marriages but refuse to bend their ways in accordance to that of their husbands. All four children are brought up to be ‘good’ but in ways that are deemed unacceptable. From scorn to abuse from their mother, the children aren’t given the love needed to nurture a child. As a result all four grow a rebellious streak and it makes the reader question to what extent a parent can go in order to make their child ‘good’.

Pain is the central theme and emotion in this book and it runs throughout the lives of the siblings, from their childhood to adulthood. Each of them feels the pain of their past in their present; they constantly question their decisions and whether or not what happened to them in their past is the catalyst to how they are in the present. The characters are three dimensional and so complex that I was absolutely in awe of them. Their personalities outshine all of the negativity in the story and reading and learning about them as the story evolved was an absolute pleasure.

Roopa Farooki’s writing is incredible. I don’t think I have read prose as beautiful and skilled as hers in a while and it had me completely invested into the story of the children. From start to finish, I couldn’t find a fault with the book and the only slight issue I had was with the narrative perspectives. The story is told from multiple viewpoints. Sulaman and Jakie speak in first person whereas Mae and Lana’s perspective is told in third. I would have really loved to have seen their perspective in first person narration but that doesn’t take away from the overall brilliance of the story.

Farooki picks up on a lot of important themes revolving around homosexulatiy, mixed-race relationships and domestic violence but the manner in which she deals with them is noteworthy. Key aspects are highlighted and make the reader realise that problems do not just arise from home but from society and its expectations as well.

This was my first Roopa Farooki book and I can guarantee that it will definitely not be my last. I cannot recommend this book enough. You will love, cry and root for each and every sibling in this book and hope that they will, eventually, gain the happy ending they deserve. Definitely pick up a copy of The Good Children, you will not regret it.

Overall Rating: 10/10

If you would like to find out more about Roopa Farooki and her books, you can visit her official website and/or follow her on twitter.

Precious Thing by Colette McBeth..

Posted on

Precious Thing

Blurb:

Remember the person you sat next to on your first day at school? Still your best friend? Or disappeared from your life for good?

Some friendships fizzle out. Rachel and Clara promised theirs would last for ever.

They met when Rachel was the new girl in class and Clara was the friend everyone wanted. Now in their late twenties Rachel has everything while Clara’s life is spiralling further out of control. Then Clara vanishes.

Imagine discovering something about your oldest friend that forces you to question everything you’ve shared together. The truth is always there. But only if you choose to see it.

Review:

sonu's signed book

First of all I’d like to thank the lovely Colette for sending me a signed copy of the book! I was absolutely thrilled to see it in the post, as I’ve heard so much about it. As soon as I received the book, I was immediately hooked and I can honestly say that this is by far the best book I have read this year.

The story revolves around the two protagonists: Rachel and Clara. Two girls who became best-friends when they were young and now in their late-twenties have drifted apart as far as the North and South poles. The story is told in a series of flashbacks, seen from the point of view of our narrator, Rachel. Sometimes the idea of going back and forth can become confusing but Colette delivered it in such an extraordinary way that it added to the suspense of the story and definitely had your brain working at the speed of a train to try and put the pieces of the puzzle together.

The main focal point of the novel is the mystery surrounding Clara’s disappearance. As the reader, we do not actually meet Clara, at first, but we are told about her through Rachel’s flashbacks. How they became friends, how they went onto become best-friends and how eventually they drifted apart. Hints are dropped at various points in the story which suggest why they drifted apart but the full truth isn’t revealed until near the end.

The suspense in the book is immense. It kept me hooked from start to finish. Being a psychological thriller, the story really played with my mind and I began to get irritated with myself for not being able to solve the mystery. Having said that, I was pleased that the mystery remained just that until Colette wanted it to be revealed to us. This tells me what an extraordinary writer and storyteller Colette is. Her writing flowed smoothly throughout and the pace was just right and kept the tension building as I turned over every page. It definitely made the story more enjoyable.

Lies, deception and betrayal are all common themes that run throughout the story and the reader is completely hooked into a trap so cunning, I didn’t see it coming until I was near the end. The story makes you question just how close you are to your own friends and who can you really trust? To what extent would you go in order to help the person you loved or thought you loved? So many questions were arisen and once the answers were revealed, the reader was left shocked to the core.

As for the two best-friends, I’m not sure how I felt about both at the end. Throughout the book I felt sympathy for both but when the truth came to light, I felt a lot of disgust as well. Actions have consequences and unfortunately for both Rachel and Clara, those consequences were dire. Many have said that this book is a thriller. Yes, it most definitely is. It’s a cunningly, sinister thriller that traps you in such a way that it renders you speechless.

Crime/suspense fans, do not miss out on an exceptional novel that will have you questioning everything you have ever believed in. Colette has created a mastermind of a story and what makes it even more amazing is that it’s Colette’s debut. I for one cannot wait to get my hands on Colette’s next books. In the meantime do yourself a favour and pick up a copy, you will not regret it!

Overall Rating: 10/10

If you would like to find out more about Colette’s book and upcoming books, you can do so on her official website. If you would like to find out more about Colette, you can follow her on twitter.