As you read the reviews on Bookshop Talk, you'll notice that every review is positive. No, we're not a bunch of literary
pushovers who love everything we pick up; we just see no point in telling you about a book if we didn't like it.

August 19, 2014

Interview with Author Teri Harman

by Kim Thacker -- Writer, Mommy, Bookshop Talk Host

Interview with Author Teri Harman

I received a copy of BLOOD MOON, Teri Harman’s Young Adult/New Adult paranormal romance novel, from its publisher shortly before the book debuted last summer...and I was utterly bewitched by it (pun intended—it’s a book about witches). I enjoyed the novel so much, that I requested the pleasure of interviewing Teri on my personal website.

This September marks the release of BLACK MOON, the sequel to BLOOD MOON. As part of Teri’s blog tour for BLACK MOON, she will join us on Bookshop Talk on August 21st as a guest blogger, at which time she will tell us all about writers and books that inspire her. In the meantime, and to help you get to know Teri and her fabulous “Moonlight” series, here’s a re-post of the interview I conducted with Teri last summer.

Kim Harris Thacker:  BLOOD MOON is a wonderfully romantic novel, but it is unique among love stories in that it begins with the two lead characters falling into a stars-aligning-souls-a-blazing-hearts-a-pounding love. Why did you choose to begin your novel this way, instead of sticking with the more traditional (and, unfortunately, somewhat cliché) method of bringing two lovers together near the end of the book?

Teri Harman:  I purposely went against the cliché. I thought it would be interesting to avoid the normal he-loves-me-he-love-me-not relationship drama and start with a strong bond. I wanted Willa and Simon to be together from the start. Outside sources may threaten their bond, but they will always fight to protect their love. Also, I didn’t want the story to be about them coming together; it’s not really a romance, although it is often romantic.  I wanted it to be about them discovering the magic as a couple, supporting one another.

KHT:  In BLOOD MOON, all the witches have different gifts that give them particular powers. Here’s how Wynter (a Light witch) explains the Six Gifts to Simon and Willa (two new witches):

Every witch is born with a specific, dominant talent or ability. There are six in all. The four elemental gifts: Earth, Air, Water and Fire. And the two gifts connected to the Otherworld, or the world beyond our own: Mind and Dreams.

If you could have any one of the Six Gifts Wynter lists in BLOOD MOON, what would it be and why?

TH:  I think I’d have to go with Willa’s Gift of Dreams. I’ve always had vivid dreams and in fact a few of the scenes in BLOOD MOON were inspired by the nighttime creations of my mind. It’d be so interesting to see real events in dreams and talk to the spirits of the dead.

KHT:  Speaking of Wynter, Simon, and Willa, how did you come up with the names for your characters? They’re wonderful!

TH:  Thanks! Names are critical; I take a lot of time to pick the right ones. I’ve always loved the name Simon, so he was easy. Willa was harder. At first, her name was actually something else – Lynette, I think – and it totally did not work for the character that formed in my head. So I started looking for something else. Willa struck me. It fits her and it has ties to the willow tree in the books. Wynter’s name had to be something unique. She’s an Earth witch so I wanted it to sound like someone with strong ties to nature. I came across this name and it was perfect.

KHT:  In BLOOD MOON, you jump from time period to time period, visiting characters that, by the end of the story, are all integral cogs in a complex, interconnected wheel. How do these time leaps serve your story? Did you like writing in one particular time period more than another?

TH:  I love stories that move between the past and the present, that have a symbiotic relationship between what’s happening now and what happened then. Also, witches have a rich and long history – I wanted to honor that in this story.

It’s easier for me to write in the past. Maybe it’s because of my obsession with period dramas. It wasn’t always easy to switch between the two, but it was really interesting.

KHT:  Who is your favorite heroic character in BLOOD MOON and why? Who is your favorite villain and why?

TH:  It’s nearly impossible for me to pick between Willa and Simon – it’s their joint story – but I suppose I have a soft spot for Simon. His back story is so tragic and he’s struggled so much. He’s easy to root for.

Archard is the main villain in BLOOD MOON, but my favorite is Bartholomew. He has a small role in this book, but a big one in BLACK MOON, book 2.

KHT:  On your website, you have links to your Pinterest boards for your books. How does having a collection of images inspire you? Or is it just for fun?

TH:  It helps me with visuals and descriptions, but I did it mainly for readers. I wanted readers to be able to check out the boards and experience more details, more visuals for the book. It’s also just fun.

KHT:  BLOOD MOON is the first book in “The Moonlight Trilogy.” What can you tell us about the other, forthcoming books?

TH:  Book 2 throws into question everything that happened in book 1. Evil abounds in expected and unexpected places. Simon struggles the most as his powers grow out of control. The ending is a killer! Book 3 is still up in the air. I need to make some serious decisions about what will happen.

KHT:  I’m from a small town just south of Jackson Hole, Wyoming, which is one of the settings of BLOOD MOON. Does this mean I might be part witch? Just kidding. What I meant to say is, in your book, you mention that magical abilities are generally inherited. Does this mean we’ll learn more about Willa’s and Simon’s parents in future books?

TH:  Hmm. That has yet to occur, but it’s a great idea!!

KHT:  You will publish a work of literary fiction, entitled A PAINTED LIFE, in 2014. Here’s the synopsis, from your website:

Saffron is a painting. Brought to life, unknowingly, by the hand of the artist, she is color on canvas, but she is also so much more. From her prim white chair, surrounded by sunflowers, pretty Saffron watches the world move beyond the edges of her silver frame.

At the beginning it is only her eyes that can move, but as her story progresses so do her abilities. A finger that twitches, tears that stream down her canvas, her heart suddenly bursting into rhythm. These miraculous, but confusing changes bring thoughts of life beyond her frame. Thoughts that over time become more of a torture than a pleasure.

As mysterious as her ability to be alive, is the way her various owners talk about her, the way they look at her. Especially the way Mr. Emmett Charles looks at her. This handsome, complicated stranger, a cotton mill owner and an elite of late nineteenth century Boston society, looks at her with a layered sadness that only makes her wish for more things she cannot possibly have or become.

Saffron tries to resolve herself to life as a painting. But what happens when a dream won’t die? She wants more, but can she dare to reach for a real life beyond her frame, a life with Emmett?
Brimming with blissful romance, intriguing magic realism and curious mystery, A Painted Life, is a refreshingly unique novel about reaching beyond our frames and having the endurance to follow a dream.

KHT:  This sounds so romantic and intriguing! How was your writing experience for this book different from that of BLOOD MOON?

TH:  It was very different! A PAINTED LIFE is told in first person and chronologically. Plus, it’s such a different story. I loved writing this book soo much. Saffron’s journey is so close to my heart. I can’t wait to hear what readers think.

KHT:  You’ve been writing articles about books for a while, now. How is article writing different from novel writing? Is it the same in any way?

TH:  Article writing is brief, to the point. There are few flourishes; it’s all about facts and quick-access information. Novels are ALL about the details, about getting into the deep layers of things. It’s so much more interesting and so much more fun. However, writing articles and learning to be concise has helped me write better when I write novels. It’s helped me pull back when I tend to go overboard.

KHT:  On your website, you mention that you are a stay-at-home mom. How do you balance being a mom with being a professional writer?

TH:  Haha! Well, it’s pretty much chaos all the time. I am constantly interrupted while I work, it’s rarely quiet, but I gets things done. I’ve trained myself to still be productive while every day life is happening (most the time anyway). It also really helps to have a consistent schedule, so the kids know when it’s time for mommy to work and when we can play or read books. They are good kids too (most the time  ). Plus I have a wonderful husband who helps a lot.

KHT:  Tell us a little bit about your recent book launch party at The King’s English. How did you feel, standing in front of everyone to talk about your very own book?

TH:  It was so emotional. I started crying the moment everyone started clapping for me to come up to speak. I’d dreamed of that moment so many times over the last 6 years. Standing there and seeing my book in people’s hands was like standing inside a dream. It was blissful and felt so exactly right. What an incredible night!

KHT:  What is one piece of advice that you can give to aspiring writers?

TH:  Three words: Persistence, hope and hard work. Those three things can get you anywhere.
Thank you so much for joining us today, Teri! I wish you the very best in all you do, and I look forward to reading more of your work!

You can learn more about Teri by clicking on these links:  Teri on FacebookTeri on TwitterTeri’s Website.

August 14, 2014

THE PRIZE WINNER OF DEFIANCE, OHIO by Terry Ryan, 2002


The Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio introduces Evelyn Ryan, an enterprising woman who kept poverty at bay with wit, poetry, and perfect prose during the "contest era" of the 1950s and 1960s. Evelyn's winning ways defied the church, her alcoholic husband, and antiquated views of housewives. Graced with a rare appreciation for life's inherent hilarity, Evelyn turned every financial challenge into an opportunity for fun and profit. The story of this irrepressible woman is told by her daughter Terry with an infectious joy that shows how a winning spirit will always triumph over poverty. (Amazon)

Reviewed by Julie, Children's lit enthusiast and pop culture geek


Terry Ryan recounts her childhood as the daughter of "THE PRIZE WINNER OF DEFIANCE, OHIO."  In the "contest era" of the 1950s and 60s, Evelyn Ryan combated poverty by entering competitions.  Writing jingles, slogans, and ads, Evelyn used her wit and talent to turn every opportunity into a chance for success.

This thoroughly charming memoir is told with equal parts humor and bittersweet nostalgia. Terry Ryan does a wonderful job emphasizing the life, talents, and lessons of her mother, Evelyn Ryan.  Ryan's determination and passion for everything she did in life (even if it made her seem "too happy") are inspiring and amazing.  For instance, one year, Ryan "earns" Christmas presents for 10 children--all through
contest winnings!   In a time when women were not expected to be breadwinners, Evelyn Ryan seemed to represent the impossible.  It is also impossible not to love the way Terry Ryan portrays her mother. Near the end of the memoir, I couldn't hold back my tears, which I think is a testament to how touching and real her story is.

I particularly like the humor of this novel.  (I loved a scene in
which the author is left to care for her siblings--and has to deal with an overflowing bathtub, a mattress set aflame, and a cat who opens doors and enters the home repeatedly and without shame).  Also, I appreciate the role of Terry's father, Kelly.  She portrays his alcoholism in a very fair way: she doesn't gloss over the bad parts, nor does he portray him as a villain.  The result is thoroughly enjoyable and relatable memoir that any member of the Ryan family can be proud of.

Market: Adult nonfiction, memoir
Violence: None
Language: Mild
Sensuality: None
Adult Themes: Family relationships, alcoholism, financial hardship

August 10, 2014

THE DEPTHS OF TIME by Roger Macbride Allen, 2000


Humanity is running out of time. The settled universe is filled with terraformed worlds linked by timeshafts -- temporal wormholes in deep space. These timeshafts are the only way to travel the vast distances between the stars. The Chronologic Patrol is charged with guarding the timeshaft wormholes and preventing time paradoxes at all costs. But one critical mission ends in disaster, turning Anton Koffield, captain of the Upholder, into a dark legend. And his odyssey through time has only just begun.... (Amazon)

Reviewed by Emily, avid bibliophile

Captain Anton Koffield is a legend - the man who killed a world. Years later, he finds himself stranded in the future, not once, but twice, a span of over two hundred years. 

This is a difficult book to sum up. It's a space opera, but it reads like hard sci-fi. The character development is superb, He's a haunted man who made an impossible choice and lived to regret it. Ostracized by the very people who should have hailed him as a hero, Koffield finds a job with Oskar DeSilvo, an egoistic scientist whose work has all been plagiarized from a long-dead expert on terraforming. 

The colony of Solace is dying. Their world's terraforming has begun to fail, and only the information that Koffield has brought them can save them. But he's arrived too late, victim of an unknown enemy. 

In a mind-bending twist on time-traveling, Roger MacBride Allen creates a fascinating story. Sadly, this is the first in the series, and I have yet to read the second and third. But THE DEPTHS OF TIME is a fascinating take on space travel as well as a multiplicity of other science fictional subjects. 

Market: Adult Fiction
Language: Moderate
Sensuality: Mild/None
Violence: Mild
Mature Themes: Guilt, responsibility, ethics

August 4, 2014

GOLIATH by Scott Westerfeld, 2012


Alek and Deryn are on the last leg of their round-the-world quest to end World War I, reclaim Alek’s throne as prince of Austria, and finally fall in love. The first two objectives are complicated by the fact that their ship, the Leviathan, continues to detour farther away from the heart of the war (and crown). And the love thing would be a lot easier if Alek knew Deryn was a girl. (She has to pose as a boy in order to serve in the British Air Service.) And if they weren’t technically enemies. The tension thickens as the Leviathan steams toward New York City with a homicidal lunatic on board: Secrets suddenly unravel, characters reappear, and nothing is as it seems in this thunderous conclusion to Scott Westerfeld’s brilliant trilogy. (Amazon)

Reviewed by Valette M.

For being fifty-second on hold for GOLIATH at the library, the time sure went fast! I'm half convinced that everyone ahead of me gave up and bought the book. However, I persevered, and now I finally have it.

The characters in this book kept true to how they were portrayed in both the first and second books of  trilogy. I could clearly see how Alek had developed in confidence while still clinging to the earnestness that made him so likable, while Deryn remained the cocky one of the pair and overcame every conflict courageously Borvil, the perspicacious Loris-probably my favorite character- grew more perspicacious and quirky every day! I did feel that some of the minor characters were rather repetitive. But, overall, they blended fairly well.

In most series, the last book may be too late to bring in an almost completely new character and story line, but Goliath pulled it off with style. Fitting in with the theme of Leviathan and Behemoth, there was a new exciting goal to accomplish. And, spoilers withheld, I can say that a big secret is revealed to most of the characters, adding several wild ups and downs. I had some issue with the ending, as it felt that the plot line lost sight of the big goal and settled for something less the the story was capable of. But it did leave them in a good place and tied up most of the loose ends.

Scott Westerfeld has an enchanting style that brings his worlds to reality. I loved the phrases, such as "barking spiders" that made his characters so endearing. His alternate history was very authentic, and the steampunk spin on World War I created a setting that had me hooked!

Market: Young Adult
Language: None
Sensuality: None
Violence: None
Mature Themes: None