Tuesday, September 22, 2015




The Beautiful American

by Jeanne Mackin

Publication Date: June 3, 2014
NAL/Penguin Group
Formats: eBook, Paperback, Audio 352
Pages Genre: Historical Fiction
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As recovery from World War II begins, expat American Nora Tours travels from her home in southern France to London in search of her missing sixteen-year-old daughter. There, she unexpectedly meets up with an old acquaintance, famous model-turned-photographer Lee Miller. Neither has emerged from the war unscathed. Nora is racked with the fear that her efforts to survive under the Vichy regime may have cost her daughter's life. Lee suffers from what she witnessed as a war correspondent photographing the liberation of the Nazi concentration camps. Nora and Lee knew each other in the heady days of late 1920's Paris, when Nora was giddy with love for her childhood sweetheart, Lee became the celebrated mistress of the artist Man Ray, and Lee's magnetic beauty drew them all into the glamorous lives of famous artists and their wealthy patrons. But Lee fails to realize that her friendship with Nora is even older, that it goes back to their days as children in Poughkeepsie, New York, when a devastating trauma marked Lee forever. Will Nora's reunion with Lee give them a chance to forgive past betrayals, and break years of silence? A novel of freedom and frailty, desire and daring, The Beautiful American portrays the extraordinary relationship between two passionate, unconventional woman.





"Will transport you to expat Paris." - Suzanne Rindell, author of The Other Typist

"A brilliant, beautifully written literary masterpiece" - Sandra Dallas, author of Fallen Women

"Leaves its essence of love, loss, regret and hope long after the novel concludes." - Erika Robuck, author of Fallen Beauty

"Achingly beautiful and utterly mesmerizing...her vividly drawn characters...come heartbreakingly alive in their obsessions, tragedies and triumphs" - Jennifer Robson, author of Somewhere in France

"From Poughkeepsie to Paris, from the razzmatazz of the twenties to the turmoil of World War Two and the perfume factories of Grasse, Mackin draws you into the world of expatriate artists and photographers and tells a story of love, betrayal, survival and friendship...an engaging and unforgettable novel" - Renee Rosen, author Doll Face

03_Jeanne MackinABOUT THE AUTHOR

Jeanne Mackin’s novel, The Beautiful American (New American Library), based on the life of photographer and war correspondent Lee Miller, received the 2014 CNY award for fiction. Her other novels include A Lady of Good Family, about gilded age personality Beatrix Farrand, The Sweet By and By, about nineteenth century spiritualist Maggie Fox, Dreams of Empire set in Napoleonic Egypt, The Queen’s War, about Eleanor of Aquitaine, and The Frenchwoman, set in revolutionary France and the Pennsylvania wilderness. Jeanne Mackin is also the author of the Cornell Book of Herbs and Edible Flowers (Cornell University publications) and co-editor of The Book of Love (W.W. Norton.) She was the recipient of a creative writing fellowship from the American Antiquarian Society and a keynote speaker for The Dickens Fellowship. Her work in journalism won awards from the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education, in Washington, D.C. She has taught or conducted workshops in Pennsylvania, Hawaii and at Goddard College in Vermont.





Monday, September 21
Spotlight at Let Them Read Books
Tuesday, September 22
Interview at Please Pass the Books
Wednesday, September 23
Review at A Bookish Affair
Review at History From a Woman's Perspective
Spotlight at What Is That Book About
Thursday, September 24
Review at History Undressed
Review & Interview at Jorie Loves a Story
Friday, September 25
Guest Post at A Bookish Affair
Interview at History Undressed
Spotlight at Book Nerd
Sunday, September 27
Review at With Her Nose Stuck in a Book
Monday, September 28
Review at I'm Shelf-ish
Guest Post at To Read, or Not to Read
Tuesday, September 29
Review at Build a Bookshelf
Spotlight at Caroline Wilson Writes
Wednesday, September 30
Review at Queen of All She Reads
Spotlight at View From the Birdhouse
Spotlight at CelticLady's Reviews
Thursday, October 1
Review at Dive Under the Cover
Interview at The Old Shelter
Guest Post at Books and Benches
Spotlight at The Lit Bitch
Friday, October 2
Review at A Fold in the Spine
Review & Interview at Singing Librarian Books
Spotlight & Excerpt at A Literary Vacation



To enter to win a paperback copy of The Beautiful American, please enter via the GLEAM form below. Rules – Giveaway ends at 11:59pm EST on October 2nd. You must be 18 or older to enter. – Giveaway is open to US residents only. – Only one entry per household. – All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspect of fraud is decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion – Winner has 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen. The Beautiful American

Excerpt from The Beautiful American by Jeanne Mackin



The very first hint of fragrance, experienced when the perfume bottle is first opened, before the fragrance is in direct contact with the skin, the nose and the heart. Similar, really, to a book opened but not yet read...or, perhaps, a door opened to a visitor not yet visible, one who lurks in shadow.  The départ begins the  journey of the perfume and its wearer.
    ---From the notebooks of N. Tours

In the ornate doorway of Harrods perfume hall people rushed past me as I stood, frozen.
    A radio played somewhere, Churchill's voice rising over the crowd, commending the English again for surviving the storm-beaten voyage.  The war was over, we were picking up the pieces and carefully, slowly putting our lives back together. But my daughter was lost. The grief struck me anew and I was  immobile in a doorway, unable to go forwards or backwards, unmoored by grief.
    A summer afternoon long ago Jamie and I went to Upton Lake to swim and make love, and there had been a boat, abandoned by rich summer people who didn't know how to tie a knot, and the boat had bobbed in the waves, turning this way and that as a storm stalked over the lake.  I was that boat.      "Move on!"  the doorman shouted at me, but my legs wouldn't work. I was exhausted.  When I walked there was a chant in my head, Dahlia is gone, Dahlia is gone, over and over, a syllable with every step, so that I hated to move. People pushed past me, some smiling in sympathy, some merely irritated. Their string shopping bags and brown-wrapped boxes jostled me; their elbows poked.
    The doorman frowned.  He took me by the arm and pulled me out of that flood of people. "Look, dearie," he said. "Are you coming or going?"
    "I don't know," I admitted.
    His expression softened.  He was an older man with a deeply lined face, pale eyes sunk into their sockets,  and there was an authority to him that went beyond his doorman's uniform.  Probably during the war he had been an air raid warden.  He would have been too old to be a soldier.
    "Well then," he said.  "Why don't you go in? That's always a good starting point.  There you go."  He turned me around, gently, and gave me a little push, back to that threshold, where I suddenly remembered I wanted to enter, to continue the search for my daughter.
    I moved through the doorway, overwhelmed by the synthetic florals and citruses of the post-war perfumes. They enter the nose aggressively, fighting for attention like unruly school children. What I most remembered about my own child was how the long braid she wore down her back smelled of lavender, a single note of innocence. My lost child.
    Sixteen years ago, I ran away.  And now, my daughter had, too, or at least I hoped she had, for the other possibilities were unthinkable.  But after months of searching, I hadn't found Dahlia in any of those places where a young girl might find shelter: not in the homes of friends in southern France;  not in Paris in the narrow streets of Montparnasse, the cafés and gardens and boulevards of those years with Jamie;  not in the orphanages that sheltered children whose parents had not survived.  She had left no trace.
    So I had come, finally,  to London, to the almost-beginning. Beginnings are like endings, never completely finished, simply receding like the horizon.   Here, in the doorway of Harrods, one rainy morning almost two decades ago, Jamie and I had agreed that we would leave England and go to Paris, and that if all went well, we would marry and begin our family.  I had told Dahlia that story,  how I had dreamed of her years before she was born.   
    I had already been in London for three days, walking the streets, asking hotel clerks and checking registers at shelters, looking for her, fighting down panic and dread.  The boarding house where Jamie and I had stayed had been bombed and so had the little pub where we had had our noon fish and chips and pint. There was destruction everywhere.  St. Paul's Cathedral had been bombed, St. James Palace, Houses of Parliament. Half the population of London had been made homeless.   This was no place for a young girl on her own, even one with papers and a little cash, for her papers and her savings had disappeared with her.
    Dahlia is sixteen, I kept reminding myself.  She was tall and strong and sensible.  She spoke French and English fluently and could get by in Italian and German.  She had good common sense.  She had what she needed to survive, if her luck held.
    How had I produced such a child, me, the gardener's daughter from Poughkeepsie?  Dahlia was a wonder to me, but in my dread I didn't think of her as  strong and competent, but as a lost child crying for her mother.
    My lost child.  Would I be returning home without her again? I had gone back and forth from Paris to Grasse for months, always leaving home with hope, returning in despair.  Home again, without Dahlia.  The thought kept me motionless inside that doorway.
    "Hey!" a voice muttered. "Move on." A woman, tall, burdened with an armful of  parcels, almost knocked me over in her haste to get out the door.
    "Watch yourself!"  I snapped back.  The woman looked at me over the top of her packages.
    "Oh my God," she said.
    Once she had lowered her arms and I could see her face, I knew her immediately.  Lee Miller.
    The very famous and beautiful Lee Miller, the  Vogue model, the muse for the artist Man Ray who had made of her lips an iconic image of a woman's mouth floating in the sky. She had gone on to become a famous photographer -- the only woman photographer who covered battles, not just field hospital follow-ups and stories about the war nurses. She had photographed the London Blitz, the siege of St. Malo, the Alsace Campaign, the camps in Germany. Nightmare photos.
    Lee was  heavier than I remembered,  and there was a puffiness around the eyes and in the cheeks that drinkers sometimes got.  But nothing, not war, alcoholism or middle age, could mar that perfect nose and those cheek bones, the thick wavy blonde hair now worn post-war style, falling over one eye. Those oh-so-famous lips.
    We stood for a long while, staring at each other in disbelief. It’s not often that you run smack into your own past.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015





(Mistresses of Versailles, Book 1)

by Sally Christie

Publication Date: September 1, 2015
Publisher: Atria Books/Simon & Schuster
Formats: Ebook, Paperback
Pages: 432
ISBN-10: 1501102966
Genre: Historical Fiction
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A sumptuous and sensual tale of power, romance, family, and betrayal centered around four sisters and one King. Carefully researched and ornately detailed, The Sisters of Versailles is the first book in an exciting new historical fiction trilogy about King Louis XV, France's most "well-beloved" monarch, and the women who shared his heart and his bed. Goodness, but sisters are a thing to fear. Set against the lavish backdrop of the French Court in the early years of the 18th century, The Sisters of Versailles is the extraordinary tale of the five Nesle sisters: Louise, Pauline, Diane, Hortense, and Marie-Anne, four of whom became mistresses to King Louis XV. Their scandalous story is stranger than fiction but true in every shocking, amusing, and heartbreaking detail. Court intriguers are beginning to sense that young King Louis XV, after seven years of marriage, is tiring of his Polish wife. The race is on to find a mistress for the royal bed as various factions put their best foot - and women - forward. The King's scheming ministers push Louise, the eldest of the aristocratic Nesle sisters, into the arms of the King. Over the following decade, the four sisters:sweet, naive Louise; ambitious Pauline; complacent Diane, and cunning Marie Anne, will conspire, betray, suffer, and triumph in a desperate fight for both love and power. In the tradition of The Other Boleyn Girl, The Sisters of Versailles is a clever, intelligent, and absorbing novel that historical fiction fans will devour. Based on meticulous research on a group of women never before written about in English, Sally Christie's stunning debut is a complex exploration of power and sisterhood; of the admiration, competition, and even hatred that can coexist within a family when the stakes are high enough.

One paperback copy of THE SISTERS OF VERSAILLES is up for grabs. Please, leave a comment and your email address in the section below for a chance to win. The contest is open to US residents only. Good luck!



“A stunning breadth of period detail, offered in a fresh, contemporary voice.” —Juliet Grey, author of the acclaimed Marie Antoinette trilogy "Sally Christie's The Sisters of Versailles is an intriguing romp through Louis XV's France. Filled with lush backdrops, rich detail, and colorful characters, fans of historical fiction will enjoy this glimpse into the lost golden era of the French monarchy." – Allison Pataki, author of The Accidental Empress





I'm a life-long history buff - and I mean life-long. One of the first adult books I read was Antonia Fraser's masterful Mary, Queen of Scots. Wow! That book just blew my little ten year old mind: something about the way it brought the past right back to life, made it live again on the page. I date my obsession with history to that time, but I'd been writing ("writing") ever since I was able to hold a pencil. If you'd told my 12-year old self that I'd not be a writer when I grew up, I would have laughed you out of the tree house. With a few detours along the way, to work overseas in consulting and development, as well as to go to business school, I've finally come full circle to where I think I should be. I currently live in Toronto and when I'm not writing, I'm playing lots of tennis; doing random historical research (old census records are my favorite); playing Scrabble, and squirrel-watching (the room where I write has French doors leading out to a deck; I avidly follow, and feed, a scruffy gang). For more information please visit Sally Christie's website. You can also find her on Goodreads and Pinterest.


Monday, September 14
Review at Reading the Past
Tuesday, September 15
Interview & Giveaway at Mina's Bookshelf
Wednesday, September 16
Review at Bookish
Thursday, September 17
Friday, September 18
Review & Giveaway at The True Book Addict
Saturday, September 19
Monday, September 21
Review at Leeanna.me
Tuesday, September 22
Wednesday, September 23
Review & Giveaway at History Undressed
Thursday, September 24
Spotlight & Giveaway at Passages to the Past
Friday, September 25
Monday, September 28
Review & Giveaway at View From the Birdhouse
Tuesday, September 29
Thursday, October 1
Review at Genre Queen
Review at bookramblings
Friday, October 2
Monday, October 5
Tuesday, October 6
Wednesday, October 7
Review at The Lit Bitch
Thursday, October 8
Interview & Giveaway at Reading Lark
Friday, October 9
Review & Giveaway at Historical Fiction Obsession

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Friday, September 11, 2015

THE SPARROW SISTERS by Ellen Herrick (A Review)

A Novel
Ellen Herrick
William Morrow Paperbacks; September 1, 2015
Paperback, 384 pages
Contemporary Fiction, Magical Realism
My Review
5 out of 5 stars
The Sparrow Sisters was a deeply satisfying read and I think I will be under its spell for a while, at least until the author (a publishing world veteran with a conspicuous talent for storytelling) decides to spin this stand-alone novel into a series and dishes out another enchanting tale from quaint Granite Point.
If you are a sucker for romance, if you are fascinated by legends and folklore, if you pine for a little bit of drama with a touch of New England regional feel, you will find yourself right at home in the fictional world created by Ellen Herrick. Granite Point is "a town of fishermen and spinsters, shop-keepers and faith-healers", with a long history and a wide Puritan streak. Only few pages into the book and we already have a remarkably full sense of place. Herrick sets a great scene with a series of well chosen details that aptly paint a supremely evocative landscape as well as an atmospheric mood for the story and the characters populating it: "The whole town feels be-spelled...sometimes it feels like it's one of those enchanted villages the hardware store puts up in the windows at Christmas."
Sorrel, Nettie, and Patience Sparrow, known to everyone as 'The Sisters', are something of a legend in Granite Point. All named after plants and flowers, they live in isolation in their ancestral home on top of the hill overlooking the harbor. Ivy House is filled with the flowers and herbs, vegetables and fruits of their Shakespeare garden (the 'Nursery'), an extra-ordinary place where roses still bloom on New Year's Day, clematis and honeysuckle climb the small eighteenth century barn in November, and morning glories unfold all day. An odd place indeed, planted, according to the legend, by the first Sparrows who settled in the harbor during the seventeenth century. The eccentric sisters are considered a strange but useful part of Granite Point: they live their quiet and uncomplicated existence, firmly settled in their ways, all unmarried although beautiful, planting and reaping, selling the products of their nursery, and preparing herbal remedies to heal all kinds of common ailments. Patience, the youngest and most strikingly beautiful, is the one with the 'touch', an uncanny ability passed onto her, generation after generation, by her great-great-great-great grandmother Eliza, a remarkable woman who dared to use her healing powers at a time when people weren't so happy about someone with such a gift. They called it 'witchcraft' and it usually ended up with a trial, stakes and fire. That notorious part of the Sparrow legacy and history had been buried in the collective memory of Granite Point for centuries and the 'Sisters' might well have gone on  with their plants and natural cures if it wasn't for the fact that the old town doctor decided to retire and, in doing so, he set in motion a chain of events - some of them blissful, some others...not so much.
The blissful part is young, tall, and broad-shouldered, good-looking and kind mannered. He goes by the name of Henry Carlyle, and he is the new town doctor. With a past in the army and a deployment in Iraq, Dr. Carlyle believes he'll find solitude and peace by the ocean, in a picturesque little town. He doesn't want to explain how he earned a Purple Heart Medal for putting his life on the line and rescuing a classroom full of children, and neither does he want to talk about that one little life he couldn't save. He came back from that hell alive, but the horrible scar on his leg runs deep, deep through his soul - his limp is a constant reminder of that devastating experience.
They say soul mates are connected by invisible threads, so wherever they are in the world they will find each other at some point: when the young doctor meets Patience, he inexplicably feels the pull of that thread. The attraction is wild and mutual, but "the course of true love never did run smooth", Shakespeare would say.  The Sparrows Sisters are meant to be alone, or at least this is what they have convinced themselves of. Sorrel, Nettie, and especially proud and prickly Patience,  don't like needing anyone: when they do, it never turns out well. To say nothing of contrasting opinions in matter of medicine: Henry is a man of science, Patience is a sort of wiccan witch, all herbs, natural cures, and the mysterious healing power of her touch.  And yet the connection between them is as strong as a spell: they have obviously found in each other that powerful balm called 'true love'..."if there was magic to be found, that was it." For the first time in their lives, our lovers are standing on the threshold of real happiness, but when Patience's natural remedies are believed to be responsible for the death of an autistic child, and the entire community of Granite Point turns against her as quickly as the tide, even Henry's faith in her is shaken.  The tragic story of her ancestor Eliza Howard, accused of witchcraft and hated by the crowd, seems to be repeating itself.
Herrick's narrative has great photographic clarity: her descriptive approach burned each scene into my mind with an array of sensory details, a feast of scents, flavors, colors that made the Sparrow's interior landscape and enchanted world of flowers so vivid and memorable.  The 'magical realism' factor is played with symmetric patterns traced between the characters and it ultimately reveals that there is something in this world that is more powerful than a potion spell:
Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Admit impediments. Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove:
O no; it is an ever-fixed mark,
That looks on tempests, and is never shaken;
It is the star to every wandering bark,
Whose worth's unknown, although his height be taken.
Love's not Time's fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
Within his bending sickle's compass come;
Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
But bears it out even to the edge of doom.
   If this be error and upon me proved,
   I never writ, nor no man ever loved.
(William Shakespeare, Sonnet 116)
***Review copy graciously offered by the author in exchange for an unbiased and honest opinion

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

September 8 is International Literacy Day

Literacy is the key to a better world.

This statement has a solid and undeniable foundation: the connection between illiteracy and global poverty is a proven and self-evident truth. Society as a whole improves and benefits from protecting the right to education across social strata, genders, religious groups, racial, and geographical boundaries.

Millions of people would be lifted out of poverty if every child received an education. And yet, an alarming number of children, adolescents, and adults are still denied the opportunity to become literate, thus perpetuating that cycle of poverty and exploitation we witness in Sub-Saharan Africa, Asia, Arab States, and Latin America.

In some cases, we do not even need to look that far to find the fundamental right to education systematically  violated or neglected: 14% of the U.S. adult population can't read.

In order to raise public awareness about the necessity of a literate society, September 8 was proclaimed International Literacy Day by the UNESCO (November 17, 1965). Today, Mina's Bookshelf would like to celebrate the importance of the written word in partnership with our friends at Grammarly and remind you that donations to literacy-promoting charities  can be a great contribution to the relief of this social plague.

Literacy Day Infographic kindly provided by Grammarly https://www.grammarly.com/plagiarism-checker

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

RANSOM CANYON by Jodi Thomas (Pre-Order Contest & Q&A with the Author)

From New York Times bestselling author Jodi Thomas comes the first book in a compelling, emotionally resonant series set in a remote west Texas town — where family can be made by blood or by choice…

By Jodi Thomas
HQN Books; September 2015
$7.99; 368 pages; Western Romance
ISBN-13: 978-0-373-78844-6

Rancher Staten Kirkland, the last descendent of Ransom Canyon's founding father, is rugged and practical to the last. No one knows that when his troubling memories threaten to overwhelm him, he runs to lovely, reclusive Quinn O'Grady… or that she has her own secret that no one living knows. Young Lucas Reyes has his eye on the prize—college, and the chance to become something more than a ranch hand's son. But one night, one wrong decision, will set his life on a course even he hadn't imagined.
Yancy Grey is running hard from his troubled past. He doesn't plan to stick around Ransom Canyon, just long enough to learn the town's weaknesses and how to use them for personal gain. Only Yancy, a common criminal since he was old enough to reach a car's pedals, isn't prepared for what he encounters. In this dramatic new series, the lives, loves and ambitions of four families will converge, set against a landscape that can be as unforgiving as it is beautiful, where passion, property and pride are worth fighting—and even dying—for.
 Jodi Thomas has a couple of treats for her fans: a fabulous contest (you may win a $ 250 VISA Gift Card) and an interview. Read on and enjoy!

Q&A with Jodi Thomas, Author of Ransom Canyon
What was your favorite part about writing Ransom Canyon?
I grew up surrounded by family who were ranchers and farmers.  I always loved the way they loved the land.  They saw themselves, not as the owners, but the caretakers.  I loved writing a story where the land and the weather were almost characters.  When I stepped into Ransom Canyon, the characters crowded around in my mind waiting for me to tell their story.
I think people all over are pretty much the same: we love, we dream, we worry, but I heard somewhere that people in the west are like sturdy furniture with some of the bark left on.

What was the most challenging part of writing Ransom Canyon?
Making sure I got it right which wasn’t easy since I hadn’t been on a ranch or farm for more than a dinner in years.  I have a dear friend with a ranch where they do it all right so I spent the seasons watching, asking questions and talking to the men who saddle up each day to go to work.
Then, I turned a little house out back of my mission home into Ransom Canyon.  I posted pictures on the walls, listed family histories all the way back to the 1800’s, covered every inch of space with whiteboards to chart the facts.  Every night I go out to what we call the bunk house and step into my story.

What character do you connect most with in Ransom Canyon and why?
In the first book I connected with Staten Kirkland because I know ranchers like him.  I know the way he thinks and how hard he tries to do what is right and not show his feelings.  Some nights, in my little room off the patio, I swear he’d be leaning over my shoulder, hat pushed back, reading every word.  Laughing when I got it right.  Thumping me in the back of the head when I got it wrong.
Also, I connected with Jubalee and her feelings of having used up all her chances until now she’s even afraid to hope.
I understood Quinn when she closed herself away from people and Yancy when he hid his secrets afraid no one would accept him if they knew.   I knew how Carter felt following a quest that made no sense.  I’m Charley loving a child more than himself.
How can I explain?  When I write I’m with all the characters.  I AM every one of them.

Have you ever used real events or people to inspire character or events in your novels?
I wrote my mother into a book called TWISTED CREEK years ago.  I watched her go slowly into Alzheimer’s.  The journey offered heartache and blessings.  Even now, almost fifteen years later, I sometimes stop and watch the clouds.  She’d forgotten my name those last few years, but she never lost the wonder when she looked at the sky.  I figure she’s still watching, just from another direction.
Many times I’ve felt like my life was research for my writing.  A tumble from a horse left me with a slight limp I have trouble hiding when I’m tired.  I witnessed a robbery when I was 17 and don’t remember being afraid, only fascinated at how terrified the kid robbing the store looked. My big brother was shot in Viet Nam and it seems like that is where all my heroes take a bullet.
If you met me, you’d meet a quiet person who watches people but I never put real people in books.  My sister-in-law kept bugging me to be in a book.  So a few years back I put her and my big brother in a book.  I made them chickens. ☺

Would you ever write a memoir? What are your feelings about writing a memoir?
I don’t think I’d write about my life.  Not all that exciting.  I married my first love, raised two sons and they blessed us with four grandchildren.  I like traveling, working in my flower garden, teaching my oldest grand who is 6 to sew and my 4 year-old to cook.
If I did write a book it would be about my journey into writing.  What it’s like to have a dream so strong you give up sleep for five years before you have any success.  How it feels to live your life in two worlds every day.  I think I’d call it RARE AIR, because I believe writers develop in rare air.  I don’t think you can educate or make a writer.  I think they evolve.


A fifth-generation Texan, Jodi Thomas sets the majority of her novels in her home state. With a degree in Family Studies, Thomas is a marriage and family counselor by education, a background that enables her to write about family dynamics. Honored in 2002 as a Distinguished Alumni by Texas Tech University in Lubbock, Thomas enjoys interacting with students on the West Texas A & M University campus, where she currently serves as Writer in Residence. When not working on a novel or inspiring students to pursue a writing career, Thomas enjoys traveling with her husband, Tom, renovating a historic home they bought in Amarillo, and "checking up" on their two grown sons.