Versace (2000) by Catherine McDermott & Nicola White is a vibrant and stylish book and therefore a wonderfully perfect tribute to the late fashion legend Gianni Versace.
This is a short and compact book which tells Gianni’s story inbetween photographs of his many iconic looks throughout his years at the top of his game. His story is very interesting and the pictures are arranged stunningly. Each of the two elements really help bring the opposite element alive and work brilliantly together. The book tells of his early childhood in Reggio Calabria in Italy with his mother who was a dressmaker and very encouraging to his dreams, his father, his two older sisters Donatella and Tina who died at 12 and his older brother Santo. He worked in his mother’s sewing business until he left for Milan at the age of 26. He eventually found both success and love after meeting model Antonio D’Amico in 1982. Reading how this talented man was also introverted shows that introverted ain’t the terrible barrier to success many would have you believe. He comes across as a nice man with much determination and a great work ethic who deserved all the success and happiness he got in life. It’s just so very sad that his life was cut so cruelly short.
The pictures are wonderful and detail various aspects of his career from the many runways and collections he did featuring a host of the super chic 1990s supermodels, Liz Hurley’s Safety Pin dress as well as many photographs with celebrity friends like the late Princess Diana. The style of the book is part coffee table glam with the pictures and part nerdy fashion history searching with the written pieces. Pretty perfect combination! There’s something in this book for everyone whether it’s the style you’re interested in or Gianni’s life and rise to success.
There is also many quotes throughout this book from Gianni which add to the book showing much of the story from his aspect in a small way. There isn’t much new here for anyone who knows a lot about Gianni’s life and career but it is a great trip down memory lane for those who do and a great introduction for those who don’t. A very interesting short read with excellent and well-captured photographs.
The book speaks about his murder in 1997 in Miami and no matter how many times you hear the story of how he died, it always makes me feel sad as a fellow person and a fan. His life being took away like that so senselessly is horrible and must have been so difficult for Antonio and the rest of his family to bear at the time. That part of the book was emotional to read.
However his legacy lives on through his shining talent and wonderful personality. This book is for fashion fans and non-fashion fans alike which shows the way he crossed many fields and touched many peoples’ lives whether that was through his creativity, his personality or his ability to merge the fields of fashion and celebrity so well. He deserved all the success and good things he got in life.
A fantastic read about a great designer and a great man.
To purchase Versace by Catherine McDermott & Nicola White go to:
Write A Book In A Year: Writing Workshop & Workbook (2006) by Jacinta McDevitt is an interesting and well put together book helping writers with their writing by a fellow writer.
The book’s layout is very much what it says on the tin or the cover to be precise. It is done in a workshop way allowing you to experience how a writer’s workshop works in the comfort of your own home. The workshop weaves around short stories by Jacinta including some stories she had published in Woman’s Way here in Ireland. Dealing with character, dialogue, setting, plot and all the usual responsibilities that writers undertake in their pursuit of a good write, the book is very accessible and there is a relaxing feel to it with no pressure. While readers are encouraged to believe in their writing abilities and pushed to do something about it, there is also an emphasis on the fact that this is your journey which you are doing for yourself and your career.
The book is a nice short read filled with advice, stories and anecdotes. It was very easy for me to relate to Jacinta and to what she was talking about in regards to magazines and publishers as I’m Irish like her but I think any writer or anyone with any interest in writing will be able to relate. The book is more geared towards beginners but anyone at any stage in their career could benefit from the advice presented in the book. A very interesting read and can give writers a taste of the workshop programmes and what to expect before they sign up to a workshop. The concept of this book is also amazing and gives writers something to work towards and Jacinta shows in the book just how it can be done easy enough when you throw in just a little bit of determination and willpower.
Jacinta is also a very talented writer which you can see in her stories throughout this book. She has wonderful descriptive writing which is emotive and real. She also has a way of writing to appeal to many different senses, sight, smell, hearing, the lot and that is a real tip writers can pick up from this book to bring their own work alive.
A very enjoyable and entertaining read with some great advice.
Unfortunately I couldn’t find any information on where you can currently purchase this book except very costly on Amazon but I wanted to make you all aware of it’s existence and maybe someday you may come across a cheaper copy. It’s well worth a read.
And for more information about Jacinta McDevitt and her work go to:
Good Wives (1869) by Louisa May Alcott is a wonderful classic with much drama, romance, family dynamics and humour. It is the sequel to Little Women.
Very much a coming-of-age story, readers follow the adventures and emotional ups and downs of Jo, Amy and the rest of the March girls. It is very interesting to read the differences between Jo and Amy in their personalities. Although I could relate more to Jo, there was elements of Amy’s manner I could relate to as well and to Beth’s manner too. So I think readers will find many of the characters easy to relate to and that will add to the reading experience of Good Wives. In this book Meg marries a tutor and becomes a mother. We see how life is for her as a young wife and mother and the ups and downs of those titles at such a young age. Beth passes away in what was some of the hardest scenes to read in this book. Reading the girls losing a part of their sisterly chain was so sad and emotional. Alcott wrote these scenes so realistic and well too that you would almost be in tears. I quite liked Beth. She would be my second favourite character in the book.
In this novel Jo, who is my favourite character, falls in love and undergoes an insecurity about her personality and way of living. She tries to be more conformist and I found myself saying, ‘Girl, you do you and forget what they all think!’ but yes, she is filled with doubt and tries to be something she isn’t which is never good. Meanwhile her sister Amy ends up with Laurie, Jo’s best friend who she has refused. They were slightly sad scenes to read too when she rejected Laurie. We’ve all been there Laurie mate, you’ll survive! But she is very fair to him and doesn’t lead him up the garden path so yet another quality to admire in Jo. But everything comes full circle and he and Amy decide to marry. While I was happy that they both found happiness I did feel they settled for each other. I didn’t buy the chemistry between them both if I’m being honest but their romance was a good read nonetheless.
Jo does find love herself and in her relationship with Professor Bhaer I felt the chemistry I didn’t feel in Amy’s and Laurie’s romance. There was great realistic build-up in their relationship. They seemed made for each other, had lots of nerdy reading pursuits in common and it was nice to see a fictional couple bonding over books because it is often books or a similar interest in general that helps bring people together. So I thought that was very realistic to life. But as a female writer I was heartbroken that she gave up on her writing. I know it was a different time and it would have been harder for her to withstand the pressures female writers were under back in those days but it really felt like she loved her craft and I could feel her pain at giving it up. I’d hate to!
There is so many messages in this book which I think are important. We live obviously in a different time now to when the book was set but many of the messages still remain important just maybe with a modern slant. For example instead of marriage we now have the option of either marriage or cohabitation but the messages remain the same of not rushing into something you don’t want to and true love being possible. Admittedly not all the characters heed that advice!
A very well-written book which is no less than one would expect from Louisa. She has ensured that all the elements are present in this book from realistic dialogue to entertaining plots and memorable characters in perfect settings and situations to test them which makes the character interactions rich and the story flowing. A very interesting page-turner.
Readers get invested in the characters’ stories very easily. A great read.
To get your free copy of Good Wives by Louisa May Alcott go to:
One Dog and His Boy (2011) by Eva Ibbotson is a warm-hearted beautiful read.
The story follows Hal and his dog Fleck’s relationship. On Hal’s 10th birthday his parents get him Fleck but there’s a catch: Fleck is only on hire from Easy Pets where pets are rented out for a brief time. Hal doesn’t know this and loves Fleck instantly. But when Fleck is returned to Easy Pets, Hal is not willing to give him up. Meanwhile Pippa has took over for the day at Easy Pets for her older sister Kayley who works there regularly and seeing the suffering the dogs are going through she lets the dogs out.
Soon Hal, Fleck, Pippa and four other dogs Honey, Otto, Li-Chee and Francine are on the run trying to reach the house of Hal’s grandparents. Along the way they have a major adventure ending up in a circus, a childrens’ orphanage and a monastery as well as rounding up a bunch of sheep. This is lovely tale which shows the love, the importance of relationships between owners and their pets and the richness both bring to each other’s lives. A gorgeous story of friendship and brimming with humanity. The history of the dogs is also well researched so kudos to Eva for that. This book was clearly written by a woman who loved dogs and understood them and their history.
My favourite character was Queen Tilly. She was a dog that wouldn’t leave Easy Pets when the gates were open. She was a pampered, spoilt little moan but I quite liked her. There was a wit about her personality and story which was great to read. It felt like there was an intriguing backstory there with Queen Tilly that was never explored and leaves readers in a position to make up what her story was for themselves. I thought she was adorable and funny despite her obvious flaws.
This book was published after Ibbotson’s death in 2010 with stunning illustrations by Sharon Rentta which help bring the story to life and are cute. Extra illustrations that Sharon did that didn’t appear in the book appear at the end of the novel.
A beautifully told tale that will warm your heart.
To purchase One Dog and His Boy by Eva Ibbotson go to:
And for more about Eva Ibbotson and her work go to:
At 1am they roamed the streets. In search of blood and flesh. To stay alive in a world gone mad with survival. Gases from the ocean started life on earth. New gases had come up that no one could explain. But they drove citizens all over the world mad. They’d seen a light in the distance. More food?
They approached the light with bated breath, anticipation. Inside there was no smell of flesh or any movement. Someone had got here first.
The last three people on earth, friends for years. They turned to look at each other. Loyalty turned to survival.
My book Black Coat based on a previous Friday Fictioneers prompt is available at:
For Friday Fictioneers Writing Prompt. Check out the website at:
7th Heaven (2008) by James Patterson and Maxine Paetro is the seventh story in the Women’s Murder Club series.
In this book Lindsay Boxer and the gang Claire Washburn, Yuki Castellano and Cindy Thomas are investigating two cases. Rich Conklin is also back as an honourary member of the club. Michael Campion has went missing and Junie Moon whose house he was seen going into last becomes the prime suspect. Yuki is attempting to prove her guilt. The second case concerns numerous fires in which couples are killed which two people who go under the names Pidge and Hawk are responsible.
Lindsay is also trying to figure out her personal life and has still to come to a decision about whether or not to marry Joe. She also needs to figure out how she feels about Rich first. All manner of complicated Linds!
I really enjoyed the book. There was a lot of twists and turns that keep you turning the pages. It takes a while but near the end you do kind of see where it’s all going so the mystery element is written very well but doesn’t really stay a mystery to the end. The characters are very well-written and there’s much variety in their personalities. There is much insight into why everyone is reacting or feels they need to react in a particular way in the novel.
In this book there is a lot about Lindsay’s personal life and how she is torn between Joe and Rich. From future books I’ve already read in the series I know she was with Joe so the suspense of that situation wasn’t really there for me! But it was interesting to read about their relationship prior to Lindsay deciding he was the man for her and seeing how things were written to help get to the point where they were deciding to always be together. But I must admit I think Lindsay and Rich have more chemistry together. Joe is nice and I like him but in comparison to how Lindsay is with Rich they don’t seem to fit as naturally together. But that’s personal taste I guess.
Claire also gives birth in this story and that was a lovely little moment to read in the book when Lindsay, the girls and Rich came to the hospital. Very sweet and written beautifully.
A flaw I did have with this book was in relation to the courtroom scenes. I thought there was a bit too much of the vibe that Yuki was a hero and the opposing lawyer L. Diana Davis being ruthless. I found they were both just doing their job in a case where Junie’s innocence or guilt wasn’t proven either way despite her confession and I found that there was a bit of pushing Yuki as nice and L. Diana as not being which didn’t add to the story.
Another great read from the Women’s Murder Club series. Page-turner. Very interesting.
To purchase 7th Heaven by James Patterson and Maxine Paetro go to:
And for more about James Patterson and his work go to:
I am so happy to be taking part in the blog tour for a new and very exciting book Kalorama Road by a very talented author E. Denise Billups.This blog tour was wonderfully put together by Jina Bazzar who made sure everything was on track and none of the blog tour articles you see on this site or all the other participating sites could have happened without her hard work. Make sure if you get time to check out all the wonderful posts for the blog tour. Links to participating blogs can be found on the above schedule list. 🙂
So without further ado, I present to you all Kalorama Road by E. Denise Billups …
There something Allie can’t remember, hidden memories bordering consciousness that refuse to surface until one day someone, something, ignites horrifying images of a forgotten night.
A year after graduating from Emsworth University, a mysterious email appears asking Allie one single question. What happened at 1414 Kalorama Road? Allie has no memory of that night and has tried to recapture what happened when a classmate went missing at an off-campus party. Someone wants her to remember, and they’re getting closer and more insistent. Forgotten memories gradually start to surface with gruesome images and a revelation that could ruin the reputation of her esteemed alma mater, Emsworth University.
Interview With The Author
Where did you get the inspiration for Kalorama Road?
My brief blogging experience inspired my third novel, Kalorama Road. When I set out to write the story, I imagined a romance mystery titled A Blog Affair; however, my muse craved a paranormal thriller. Because the main plot takes place in a Washington, D. C.’s residential area, Kalorama Road was a more fitting title than A Blog Affair.
Your main character Allie goes on quite a journey in the book. What do you think are qualities that make her easy to relate to for readers and engage them to want to go on this journey with her?
Allison, though strong and fiercely independent, is flawed by her parent’s divorce and their lack of affection toward her and her older sister, Nikki. Her childhood affected her behavior and shaped her romantic ideals. Purposely, I crafted the first half of the book about Allie and her sister to reveal how a tenuous family life secured their close bond. I hope Allie’s vulnerability is relatable and will engage readers on her troubling journey.
How many drafts of the book did it take to get it just right?
When the main premise of the story changed, I had to backtrack several times to make sure the story flowed correctly. My muse kept swerving in different directions wanting to be a paranormal story, not straight suspense. It took four drafts to capture my muse’s vision.
Where did you get the inspiration for the book trailer?
Wow, I love creating book trailers. When I’m having one of those days, where words aren’t flowing smoothly, creating book trailers is a creative outlet to reboot the writing process. Kalorama Road’s trailer wasn’t about the main character Allison, but the student, Belle, who disappeared. Belle is the catalyst that drives this story forward and I wanted her paranormal presence to represent the trailer.
Who was your favorite character to write in the book and why?
Without a doubt, it was Ryan. I’ve never written a male POV so I was a little worried about capturing a convincing voice. I love this ethical, chivalrous, and stubborn investigative journalist and his persistence to unearth the truth. I’m not sure I captured a strong, male POV, but it was fun writing Ryan’s effort to expose illicit affairs at Kalorama Road.
What writers have influenced you to become a writer? What writers’ work do you like reading in your spare time?
My fascination with books began in grade school. Anything I could read, I’d read. As a teenager, it was mainly classics, Emily Bronte, Jane Austen, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Toni Morrison,and the list continues. Since Harper Lee was my hometown native, To Kill a Mockingbird was compulsory reading. Bram Stoker, Stephen King, Anne Rice, Edgar Allen Poe, Ira Levin, Ray Bradbury… Jeez! The list goes on. Every author I’ve read has impacted my writing, although my preference is horror, mystery, supernatural and psychological thrillers. Right now, my reading is eclectic. In my effort to support the Indie community, I’m reading multi-genres and enjoying talented Indie Author’s work.
Mystery writing can be quite a difficult genre to write with having to keep the ending suspenseful and making sure all the parts fit together seamlessly. Did you have the ending in mind before you began writing or did it come together during the process?
I’m glad you asked this question. I wrote the ending long before I imagined the beginning. When the initial premise changed from a romance mystery to a paranormal thriller, I tweaked the ending a little. From the ending, I worked backward a few chapters before crafting the story’s beginning.
Which areas of the book do you feel will draw readers in the most? Characters? Dialogue? Action? Setting? Or a combination of many elements?
In parts two and three, the story takes place two years earlier at Kalorama Road. A combination of action, characters, dialogue and settings will attract reader’s attention. The pace increases and unknown characters are disclosed. Ryan’s daunting role is introduced to the reader for the first time. Belle’s unscrupulous past is exposed, one that might stun or fascinate readers. In Chapter 33, the entire night unfolds through several eyes supernaturally. This scene, fun and interesting to write, pulls pieces of the mystery together seamlessly, hopefully holding reader’s attention to the end.
What is next for you in your writing career?
I’ve written several short stories, aimed for release in 2018. I’m considering a sequel to my first novel, By Chance, and another Haunted House Story that takes place in the South. Southern folklore, filled with ghost stories, roused my fascinationwith supernatural mysteries. Hopefully, I’ll continue writing for the rest of my life, whether for profit or enjoyment.
What other books have you out that readers can also check out alongside Kalorama Road?
I published my first novel, By Chance, a supernatural thriller, in 2014, about three clairvoyant women of South Carolina. In 2015 I published my second novel Chasing Victoria, a contemporary suspense novel without any paranormal activity, well, there’s a little fortune-telling but that’s about it. Between writing Kalorama Road, I published two supernatural short stories in 2017—The Playground, and Rebound.
Finally, if you could describe Kalorama Road in one word what would it be?
Hmm, I’ve never thought about this but Awakened, is the first word that came to mind.
Lisa, thank you for having me as a guest on your wonderful blog!
And thank you so much Denise for being a guest on here on Culture Vulture Express too! 🙂
To purchase Kalorama Road by E. Denise Billups go to:
Startled by the flashback, I pause in the room’s center wondering what triggered the memory. How strange . . . All this time, I couldn’t remember how I bruised my forehead. The sight of the fireplace must have sparked the memory. I move toward the windows, stand between the curtains, face the room, and study the space like a ghost returned to its demise. Vapors whirl and whisper like mist taking shape. At the moment the unfolding manifestation is inscrutable. Unaware of what’s emerging, I walk through a ray of light streaming through the windows. Buoyant speckles stir fast, too fast. Fearfully, I stop and stare at the rapid charge. It’s nothing, I rationalize, just dust I’ve disturbed, I reassure an anxious mind. My back crawls with a creeping sensation. I spin around to empty space. “Okay Allie, get a grip.”
Resting my hand on the mantel, I examine the empty chasm and ponder whether a fire burned that night. I can’t remember. For a moment, the space spins and the unpleasant anxiousness swells, grating my memory. I try to squelch the aura and familiar angst I’ve lived with for months, intrusive energy invading my mind, a remote space refusing to open. I breathe deep, expel unease, and concentrate on a room I’ll never see again. Turning in several circles, I absorb every vibration, smell, color, and sound, trying to conjure that night.
A gentle breeze like fingers icing my skin raises hairs on my arms. Swiftly, I turn toward closed windows, searching for something a breeze can escape. Impossible! The only vent lies across the room. An overwhelming scent of roses whirls gossamer coils about me. My mind recognizes but refutes an invisible presence. It can’t be real. It’s just my imagination, and the room making me anxious. Instantly, something seizes my consciousness. Spectral hands clamp my body, guiding a slow descent, lowering me safely to the floor.
Kalorama Road is the author’s third novel.
Originally, Kalorama Road was titled ‘A Blog Affair’.
The ending was crafted long before the author wrote the beginning.
The inspiration for Kalorama Road came from an article the author read about men and women finding true love through blogging. The idea intrigued her skeptical mind.
The scene the author grapple with the most was the murder scene
The author is an avid coffee drinker and she’s written about coffee in most of her novels.
About The Author:
An author with a rare mixture of Southern and Northern charm, E. Denise Billups was born in Monroeville Alabama and raised in New York City where she currently resides and works in finance. A burgeoning author of fiction, she’s published three suspense novels, Kalorama Road, Chasing Victory, By Chance, and two supernatural short stories, Rebound, and The Playground. An avid reader of mystery and suspense novels, she was greatly influenced by authors of that genre. When she’s not writing or reading, you can generally find her training for road races and marathons. She’s s a fitness fanatic who loves physical challenges of all types (running, biking, yoga, dance, and more) a discipline she uses to facilitate the creative writing process.
Good luck with Kalorama Road Denise. Hope it sells many deserved copies! 🙂
The next post in the blog tour will be tomorrow and can be found on Whitney Skirvin’s blog Whit Lit Reads. Be sure to check it out when you get the chance. 🙂
Nobody Knows (2002) by Mary Jane Clark is a really well-plotted and thought-out mystery with plenty of twists and turns that keep you on the edge of your seat throughout.
The book is written from many different perspectives. Clark paints very human characters and gives us great insight into their connections to the case and how life in general is treating them. Great character development and character psychology help make this book a treat to read. The main character is Cassie Sheridan who works as a news reporter. When we meet Cassie, her life is in a bit of turmoil after she made a wrong call in revealing the name publicly of a rape victim of the serial rapist and murderer who is on the loose in a Gulf Coast town. The woman who was raped subsequently took her own life and Cassie is filled with guilt about the woman’s death as well as fear about her future career.
In addition to this her marriage to her husband has fallen apart and due to her job, which she always puts first, she doesn’t see her daughter as often as she should. The second main character in this book is a young boy called Vincent Bayler who discovers the hand of a murdered woman while out trying to find treasures with his metal detector on the beach. With a hurricane on it’s way, Cassie and Vincent must find this serial rapist who disguises himself in clown make-up and put an end to his horrible crimes. But can they survive both death at the hands of the hurricane and this deadly killer?
Book 5 in the Key News Thrillers (where Cassie works), Clark constructs a fantastic plot with so many suspects that it makes it a difficult mystery to solve. I for one didn’t figure out the killer’s identity. This was the first book I read of Clark’s and I was very impressed with her writing. Mystery writing is one of the hardest genres to write in and she plotted this book expertly leaving no stone unturned and rounding the book off wonderfully by the end.
Her writing style is very fast-paced and this book is a real page-turner with many characters who you find yourself rooting for. A very intriguing plot that was well-crafted from beginning to end. Also Clark worked in television and the authentic way she wrote the television sections was spot-on which really added to the story. Great plot. Great characters. Great book. Faultless writing really.
A great book. You most certainly won’t be disappointed.
To purchase Nobody Knows by Mary Jane Clark go to:
And for more about Mary Jane Clark and her work go to:
Remember Me (1994) by Mary Higgins Clark is an intriguing read.
This book follows the aftermath and investigation into the murder of Vivian Carpenter Covey who died out on her boat at sea. This book follows various different characters in different chapters and each of these characters are well-written and well-rounded. But the book’s main character is Menley, a childrens’ author, who is living in Remember House with her husband Adam and their daughter Hannah. The couple are grieving for their late son Bobby when the events in the book take place and trying to get their marriage back on track. My favourite characters were Menley and another character called Phoebe. I could relate to all the researching they were doing and the whole way they were getting very interested in the research. This story deals with a very important issue as Phoebe has Alzheimer’s disease and I think Higgins Clark wrote about her disease in an authentic way. I liked how she reminded us that this woman was very capable of achieving many years ago and was still capable despite the disease taking it’s toll on her. I think as a team Menley and Phoebe were awesome.
The mystery itself was well-plotted and put together. I didn’t get the actual killer/s of Vivian but they crossed my mind as a second choice for who it was so I wasn’t overly shocked either to find out who was responsible for her death. However who I guessed may have been innocent of Vivian’s death but wasn’t innocent of plotting someone else’s death in the book without giving too much away. That’s the only issue I have with many of Higgins Clark’s books. They are always great reads but the endings can be anticlimactic. Still I very much enjoy reading her books. I just know not to expect to be shocked by the conclusion.
What I especially liked about this book was how fleshed out the characters were and we really get an insight into who each person involved is and their connection to the events in the novel. The characters have different personality types which help make for a very interesting read. Many of the characters are very easy to like while some ain’t so. There is also great detail in the writing which really adds to the atmosphere and the tension and suspense in the plot. A lot of time and effort was clearly put into this book with excellent research did on many topics to tie the plot together so kudos to Higgins Clark for all the work she put into this book.
Very interesting and well thought out. A great read.
To purchase Remember Me by Mary Higgins Clark go to:
And for more about Mary Higgins Clark and her work go to:
Jimmy checked his pockets. Nothing. He surveyed the house. It was just midnight. He walked across the road inching closer and closer. He got up on the roof and thought deeply for a few moments.
Now where did I create that passageway to the attic for emergencies? Like when I’m drunk and I’ve lost my keys?
He scrambled around and found the way in. Once inside he fell asleep in the attic. This meant he didn’t hear the two burglars open his front door. They just loved seeing him leave his keys on the pub counter and followed him home.
My book Black Coat based on a previous Friday Fictioneers prompt is available at:
For Friday Fictioneers Writing Prompt. Check out the website at: