The three most important parts of a book are: a well constructed plot, compelling characters, and a satisfying conclusion.

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

SLEEP WITH THE LIGHTS ON (A Brown and De Luca Novel) by Maggie Shayne

Sleep with the Lights on by Maggie ShaynePublisher:  Mira Books
Release Date:  October 1, 2013
Pages:  384

About the Book:  Through the eyes of a killer...

Rachel de Luca has found incredible success writing self-help books. But her own blindness and the fact that her troubled brother has gone missing have convinced her that positive thinking is nothing but bull.

Her cynicism wavers when a cornea transplant restores her sight. The new eyes seem to give her new life, until they prove too good to be true and she starts seeing terrifying visions of brutal murders--crimes she soon learns are all too real.

Detective Mason Brown's own brother recently died, leaving behind a horrific secret. In atonement, Mason donated his brother's organs, though he's kept the fact quiet. Now he wants to help Rachel find her brother, but when he discovers the shocking connection between her visions and his own brother, he suddenly has to do everything in his power to save her from a predator who is somehow still hunting from beyond the grave.

Wanda's Thoughts:  The premise of this book is exciting and full of mystery and suspense. The tempo moves at a fast pace, never losing momentum. And the storyline, creepy and terrifying, with many graphic scenes, is totally unpredictable. 

Rachel de Luca has been blind for 20 years and having her sight restored to 20-20 was a pretty big deal. Rachel is an author who writes about how to create your own miracles, and now she has a miracle of her own. For six weeks after the surgery life was good for Rachel, but then the recurring nightmares begin and life was no longer serene. 

Organ recipients are getting more than just the organ donated from the donor. They are inheriting habits, tastes, memories and other tendencies that are not all pleasant. 

Detective Mason Brown, a strong and interesting character, is harboring deep, dark secrets. His brother, Eric, who committed suicide early on in the story, was a serial killer, and Mason was covering up this information that could destroy their family. A series of events occur and Rachel is the recipient of Eric's corneas. The "Wraith" - was he still hunting from the grave? And the story unfolds ---

This well written book has an intricate plot that just doesn't let go and a conclusion that took me by complete surprise. My big disappointment in the book was the vulgar language spoken by Rachel. The "F" word was repeatedly used and in my opinion it cheapened Rachel's character. I felt this profanity was not necessary to enhance the book. Unfortunately, I never connected to Rachel, not liking her from the beginning to the end. That being said - the author has crafted an engrossing novel - simply a great thriller. My rating, without the profanity would have been 5 stars, but because of it my final rating is 3.5 stars. 

I received a complimentary copy of this book from NetGalley to read and give an honest review. All opinions shared are my own.

About the Author:  I live in the teeny, tiny town of Taylor, NY, (Alliteration Alert!) though my mailing address is Cincinnatus, my telephone exchange is Truxton and I pay taxes and vote in Cuyler. All of these are at least in the same rural county in the southern hills of New York State; Cortland County. There are more cattle than people here. The nearest “big” cities are Syracuse and Binghamton and they are an hour away, in different directions, and not really all that big by most standards, though they both seem humongous to me. I look out my window to see rolling, green, thickly forested hills, wildflower laden meadows and wide open blue, blue skies. My road is barely paved. The nearest neighboring place is a 700 acre dairy farm.

My house is a big, century old farmhouse. I moved in here after my divorce in 2006. Just a little over a year later, the house, which I had named, SERENITY, burned. It was 99% gutted, and I lost my two dogs, Sally, an 11-year-old great Dane, and Wrinkles, my 14-year-old, blind bulldog. This was the culmination of my Dark Night of the soul, which had seemed to hit me all at once in 2006-2007. My mother died that year, after a 14 month battle with pancreatic cancer. She was only 60. The youngest of my five daughters had left home that same year, and while that’s not a tragedy at all, it felt like one to me. Then came the divorce. And finally there was the fire--it seemed my darkest night wasn’t quite finished with me after all. I had lost almost everything before that point, and as I poked through the wet ashes and soot the next day, I realized that I had now been stripped all the way to the bone.

No better time to start over. (And no, I didn’t come to that realization that day--there were a few days of wallowing in pity first, particularly the day after the fire, when I hit a deer and smashed up my car, which I was practically living in!)

That’s when I started to laugh. Just sat on the side of the road as the deer bounded, uninjured and carefree, out of sight, and laughed. It was just too ridiculous at that point, to do anything else!

And from there, I picked myself up, and brushed myself off, and said, okay, there’s only one way to go from here. Forward. And that’s what I did. There I was at the age of harrurmphemmph, living in my one, mostly undamaged remaining room, with a dorm-sized mini-fridge, a futon, a TV, my cat (nine lives!) and a laptop. And not much else. (Though thank goodness the room that survived the fire, was a room that had its own attached bathroom!)

Since then I have rebuilt my beloved home, which really has become my haven, my “Serenity.” I share it now with my fiancĂ©, Lance, and we have accumulated quite the little family together. “Little” being a relative term. We have a pair of English Mastiffs, Dozer and Daisy, who weigh 203 pounds and 208 pounds respectively, and a little pudgy English Bulldog named Niblet, who is bigger than both of them, inside her mind. We also have the aforementioned cat, Glorificus (“Glory” for short,) who adores her canine pups and keeps them firmly in line. And we've acquired a pair of stray cats as well, a mother and son, Luna (Lulu for short) and Butters aka Buddy. Lulu showed up pregnant during a lunar eclipse, had a litter, and vanished again. We found homes for all the kittens except one. Butters. We got him fixed and kept him. A few months later, Lulu returned, again expecting. This litter was born on the "Monster Moon." Again, all the kittens were spayed and neutered and placed in homes, and this time we got Lulu to the vet in time to spay her before the cycle could repeat. 

Glory is not amused.

She has a story of her own, my old Glory cat, having been with me before the Dark Times descended, she went through it all with me, moved with me, survived the fire, and remains with me still. She's tolerating the newcomers. Barely.

My partner is an artist, a mechanic, a welder and an inventor, and the rumors are true, he is much younger than I 

Monday, December 30, 2013


When Mountains Move by Julie CantrellWHEN MOUNTAINS MOVE (Into The Free #2)
Author:  Julie Cantrell
Publisher:  David C Cook
Release Date:  September 2013

This is storytelling at its best - a delightful read that will touch your heart. The ending has a strong crescendo of suspense and a satisfying conclusion. This is truly a compelling and emotional novel by a gifted writer.

Gracianna by Trini AmadorGRACIANNA 
Author:  Trini Amador
Publisher:  Greenleaf Book Group Press
Release Date:  July 2013

This story is fiction, but based on true events of the author's great-grandmother, Gracianna Lasaga. The topic of the Holocaust brings with it deep sadness and the horrible realization of what occurred at that time. This is a compelling tale of love, family, suspense and survival. A gripping novel that I highly recommend. 
The Obituary Writer by Ann Hood
Author:  Ann Hood
Publisher:  WW Norton and Co
Release Date:  October 2013

 A story about love, loss, and grief.  I was able to submerse myself into two different eras with the beautiful descriptive writing that made the characters and settings come to life. This novel, by an incredible author, delivers in every way and is one that I highly recommend. 

Return to Me by Lynn AustinRETURN TO ME (The Restoration Chronicles #1)
Author:  Lynn Austin
Publisher:  Bethany House Publishers
Release Date:  October 2013

This is a story of new beginnings with a rich blend of history, faith, and redemption. The complex characters are well portrayed, bringing the biblical history to life. A beautifully written story and one that I highly recommend.
The Promise of Stardust by Priscille Sibley
Author:  Priscille Sibley
Publisher:  Wm Morrow Paperbacks
Release Date:  February 2013

As the book unfolds, it goes through the five stages of grief: denial, bargaining, depression, anger , and acceptance. The story is told through flashbacks that weave the storyline together. This is a love story, and a story that deals with tough - unimaginable - moral issues at times. You will become entangled in sadness throughout with the intense issues unfolding. This book grabbed my attention from the first page and I never lost interest - it never had a slow or dull moment. A beautifully written and heartwarming story that will simply stir your soul. Priscille Sibley is a new author to keep an eye on. This is a story you'll not want to miss.

Orphan Train by Christina Baker KlineAuthor:  Christina Baker Kline
Publisher:  Wm Morrow Paperbacks
Release Date:  April 2013

I was not at all familiar with this strange and little known episode in our nation's history. The orphan trains existed from 1854-1929 and each child has a sad tale; they wouldn't be on the train otherwise.  Adoptive parents gathered at the train stations looking for a child to adopt. A child is selected for free on a ninety-day trial, at which point, if you so choose, you may send him back. But, too many times the children were abused. Babies and healthy older boys were typically chosen first; older girls were chosen last. If a child wasn't chosen, they would get back on the train and try again in the next town.

Christina Baker Kline brings richness and life to this compelling story - completely absorbing and beautifully written. 

The Girl You Left Behind by Jojo Moyes
Author:  Jo Jo Moyes
Publisher:  Pamela Dorman Books
Release Date:   August 2013

The author effortlessly weaves together two stories, a century apart.  2006 - London - where Liv Halston is struggling to get over her husband's death, that happened four years earlier. In her living room hangs the portrait of The Girl You Left behind, given to her by her late husband, David, on their honeymoon. The story evolves around the portrait and just when you think the story is resolved , it takes on a twist, and then, yet another. Finally the resolution comes, and not what is expected. I absolutely loved the ending. 

This is a beautifully written story that will capture you from the beginning. The author spins a tale of twisting emotions while blending the past and the present in vivid detail. You don't want to miss this one. 

Author:  Sarah Jio
Morning Glory by Sarah JioPublisher: Plume
Release Date:  November 2013

All of the characters are vibrantly drawn, with many startling revelations throughout. The book is beautifully written and cleverly blends together two different time periods. There are strong themes of tragedy with grief, lies, deceit, and love - a story laced with secrets. I absolutely loved the epilogue which was perfect for a satisfying conclusion - just beautiful!


Author:   Lori Nelson Spielman
The Life List by Lori  Nelson SpielmanPublisher:  Bantam
Release Date:  July 2013

This beautifully structured story touched my heart. The story was brought to life by the unique characters and I enjoyed the splashes of humor spread throughout. I also felt the sadness of Brett's loss of her mother - very poignant. And all the loose ends were tied up neatly at the end. Just an incredible debut novel by an amazing writer! Most definitely a favorite for 2013. 

One Light Still Shines by Marie MonvilleONE LIGHT STILL SHINES:  My Life Beyond the Shadow of the Amish Schoolhouse Shooting
Author:  Marie Monville, Cindy Lambert
Publisher:  Zondervan
Release Date:  October 2013

This beautifully written and heart-wrenching story will leave no reader untouched. It is the story of a miraculous love as Marie Roberts emerges from a terrible tragedy and does it with boldness, strength, and wholeness, and how healing was brought to her heart and restoration to her family. She was determined not to allow herself to go down in defeat, but be strong for her children. Through faith and the power of prayer, she was filled with assuredness and was able to embrace life again. 

Saturday, December 28, 2013

THE FACE OF THE EARTH by Deborah Raney

The Face of the Earth by Deborah RaneyPublisher:  Howard Books
Release Date:  May 14, 2013
Pages:  368

About the Book:  From the award-winning author of After All, a man finds his wedding vows tested after his wife disappears.When Mitchell Brannon’s beloved wife of twenty years kisses him goodbye one morning, he has little idea that his life is about to change forever. Mitch returns from work early that evening, surprised Jill’s car isn’t in the garage. But her voice on the answering machine makes him smile. “Hey, babe, I’m just now checking out of the hotel, but I’ll stop and pick up something for dinner. Love you.” Hours later, Jill still hasn’t returned, and Mitch’s irritation turns to dread.

When the police come up empty, Mitch enlists the help of their next-door neighbor, Jill’s best friend, Shelley, to help search. As days turn into weeks and weeks into months, Mitch and Shelley’s friendship grows ever closer––and decidedly more complicated. Every lead seems to be a dead end, and Mitch wonders how he can honor the vows he made to a woman who has seemingly disappeared off the face of the earth.

Wanda's Review:  Jill and Mitchell Brannon appear to be happily married, now empty nesters since their last child has just gone off to college. Jill, a 3rd grade teacher, attends an educational conference in Kansas City, but never returns home. It seems she disappears off the face of the earth with no clues to her whereabouts. There is no plausible explanation for Jill's disappearance. The family tries their best to keep up their faith, to hold and hope, and keep believing - and the story unfolds ---

Mitch, Jill's husband, is the Principal at Sylvia High School. Mitch tries hard to hold his family together through this nightmare. Jill's best friend and neighbor, Shelley, becomes very supportive of Mitch and his kids. Over the next five months Shelley and Mitch become very close as they eventually start to talk over other things - their kids and jobs - dreams and disappointments. Shelley becomes Mitch's confidante and sounding board and he begins to treasure their close friendship that is growing between them. And yet, they both start to feel they are headed towards an uncomforted zone that could complicate their lives. 

The author launches into this captivating story with sensitivity and grace - a story about tragedy, loss, faith and hope. The resolution comes about as a complete surprise after many twists and turns throughout. 

One or two negative comments - parts of the book moved too slowly making the book a bit long. I thought it was inappropriate for Mitch to allow his romantic feelings, for Shelley, to surface so soon after Jill's disappearance, although it was handled well. This was a huge part of the storyline. 

The writing is simple and flowing - a good, easy read that I do recommend. Truly a heartwarming story. My rating is 4 stars.

Deborah RaneyThe Author - Deborah Raney - DEBORAH RANEY's first novel, A Vow to Cherish, inspired the World Wide Pictures film of the same title. Her books have since won the RITA Award, ACFW Carol Award, HOLT Medallion, National Readers' Choice Award, Silver Angel, and have twice been Christy Award finalists. THE FACE OF THE EARTH released in May 2013 from Howard/Simon & Schuster, and SILVER BELLS released from Guideposts in October. Deb and her husband, Ken Raney, enjoy small-town life in Kansas. They are new empty nesters with four children and a growing quiver of grandchildren, all of whom live much too far away.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

AND THEN SHE WAS GONE By Rosalind Noonan

And Then She Was Gone by Rosalind NoonanPublisher:  Kensington
Date to be Released:  December 31, 2013
Pages:  336

About the Book:  Eleven-year-old Lauren O'Neil vanished one sunny afternoon as she walked home from school. Six years later, her parents Rachel and Dan still tirelessly scour their Oregon hometown and beyond, always believing Lauren will be found. Then one day, the call comes.
Lauren has been rescued from a secluded farm mere miles away, and her abductor has confessed. Yet her return is nothing like Rachel imagined. Though the revelations about what Lauren endured are shocking, most heartbreaking of all is to see the bright-eyed, assertive daughter she knew transformed into a wary, polite stranger.
Lauren's first instinct is to flee. For years she's been told her parents forgot her; now she doubts the pieces of her life can ever fit together again. But Rachel refuses to lose her a second time. Little by little they must relearn what it means to be a family, trusting that their bond is strong enough to guide them back to each other.
Intensely moving and absorbing, this is an extraordinary story told with sensitivity and grace, and filled with the depth and breadth of a mother's love.
Wanda's Review:  Goodreads First Reads Winner

This is a story with a very sensitive subject and one that is poignant and deeply touching. Eleven year old Lauren O'Neil is abducted from her neighborhood in Portland, Oregon, as she walks home from school. Six years later she is found, and it is discovered that she had been kept only a mile or two away from her home. She had been violated, abused and endured a nightmare of cruelty. Lauren lived through a traumatic six years and it would take a long time to unravel the complex relationship between her and the abductor. She would also need help to recover and heal to become part of her family again. Lauren knew reunification with her family was the right thing to do, but she found it difficult. She couldn't even allow her Mom to love her. And the story unfolds ---

There is a wide cast of complex characters with vivid personalities. The premise of the story had potential and I was captured early on. However, it lost its momentum in the middle section and the storyline became very predictable with a rather forced ending. The book was an interesting read, but not one I would enthusiastically recommend. My rating is 3.5 stars.

Thank you to Goodreads for being selected as a First Reads Winner.
Rosalind NoonanThe Author - Rosalind Noonan
ROSALIND NOONAN grew up in suburban Maryland and enjoyed being part of a large family. "With my four siblings, Saturday mornings were a blast," she says. "There was festival seating on the living room floor as we devoured cartoons and passed the Sugar Pops."

She caught the writing bug in second grade when she won first place in a poetry contest. "The prize was twenty dollars," she recalls. "That was big bucks for a second grader. I thought I was going to Disneyland." Wooed by the taste of fame and fortune, she kept writing.

After attending Wagner College in Staten Island, she remained in New York City where she worked as an editor for various book publishers. Noonan currently lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband, a retired cop from the NYPD, and two children. Although she sometimes misses the rapid pulse of New York, she enjoys writing in the shade of towering two-hundred year old Douglas fir trees.

Monday, December 23, 2013

INTERVIEW with Antoinette van Heugten, Author of "THE TULIP EATERS"

The Tulip Eaters by Antoinette van Heugten
The Tulip Eaters by Antoinette van Heugten
Publisher:  Harlequin MIRA
Release Date:  October 29, 2013
Pages:  368

About the Book:  In a riveting exploration of the power the past wields over the present, critically acclaimed author Antoinette van Heugten writes the story of a woman whose child's life hangs in the balance, forcing her to confront the roots of her family's troubled history in the dark days of World War II… 

It's the stuff of nightmares: Nora de Jong returns home from work one ordinary day to find her mother has been murdered. Her infant daughter is missing. And the only clue is the body of an unknown man on the living-room floor, clutching a Luger in his cold, dead hand. 

Frantic to find Rose, Nora puts aside her grief and frustration to start her own search. But the contents of a locked metal box she finds in her parents' attic leave her with as many questions as answers—and suggest the killer was not a stranger. Saving her daughter means delving deeper into her family's darkest history, leading Nora half a world away to Amsterdam, where her own unsettled past and memories of painful heartbreak rush back to haunt her. 

As Nora feverishly pieces together the truth from an old family diary, she's drawn back to a city under Nazi occupation, where her mother's alliances may have long ago sealed her own–and Rose's—fate.

INTERVIEW - By Wanda Beaver
I'm happy to welcome Antoinette van Heugten, author of "The Tulip Eaters," to 
And the Story Unfolds ---

Q: Tell us about your book, The Tulip Eaters.

A: The novel is an exploration of how the past wields power over the present and of a mother’s unconditional love for her child. It is about a woman, Nora de Jong, who comes home to a nightmare. Her mother lies murdered on the floor, a dead stranger next to her with a Luger in his hand, and her baby, Rose, has been kidnapped. Frantic, Nora works with the police to try to find Rose, but there isn’t a single clue until Nora finds mysterious documents in a metal box that bring everything she thought about her parents into question and drive her halfway across the world to Amsterdam, where pieces of an old family diary lead her into her mother’s past and a world of secrets, lies and truths that played out in Nazi-occupied Netherlands between 1940 and 1945. The more Nora discovers, the less certain she is of the truth and it is only the truth that will lead her to Rose. But the clock is ticking. Will she ever find her? Or has her mother’s secret past already sealed Rose’s fate – and Nora’s own? 

Q: Where did your inspiration for The Tulip Eaters come from?

A: My parents were Dutch and fought in the resistance in the Netherlands during World War II. Although they did not speak of it often, as children we heard stories of how our grandmother hid a Jewish boy in the cellar, how my mother transported microfiche on her bicycle and how my father had blown up munitions depots. We also were made well aware of the hardships their families and others suffered during the five years of Nazi occupation, particularly the starvation conditions towards the end of the war. As such, I have always had a personal as well as a historical fascination with that time period. My parents’ heroism, demonstrated when they were only teenagers, was my initial inspiration. Reading the diaries and letters of so many Dutch people during war inspired me further.   

Q: How did you come up with the title, The Tulip Eaters?

A: Over 20,000 people starved to death in The Netherlands during the Second World War, many in 1945, the year called “The Hongerwinter.” When even basic food sources became scarce, the Dutch scoured the countryside, digging up potatoes – anything they could find to feed their families. When all else had been scavenged, they dug up and ate tulip bulbs, which they ground into meal or made into watery soups, and yet had to be careful to avoid the innermost portion, which is poisonous. They were forced to eat their own national flower to survive, which I found to be a tragic irony of the Nazi occupation.

Q: Tell us about the previous research you did that eventually led to this novel.

A: When I was in my 20s, I received a grant to research the Dutch resistance movement at the Netherlands War Institute (then NIOD, now RIOD) in Amsterdam. My original purpose was to publish a non-fiction paper on the subject, but after two years, I returned to the States, went to law school and into law practice instead. Years later, after writing Saving Max, I came across boxes of my research and notes about the diaries I had read at NIOD, about the lives of those who had experienced the Nazi occupation in the Netherlands, and found myself drawn in once again by that time and place and the social, political and moral issues it presented. Of particular interest, and a historical element that plays a large role in the novel, is the fact that there was a significant Dutch Nazi party in the Netherlands (the “NSB”), peaking at approximately 100,000 members during WWII. This is not a well-known fact outside of the Netherlands, and yet it was a very real element in day-to-day life for my parents and other Dutch citizens during the war. 

Q: Do you find it easier to write about topics that you have a strong emotional connection with, such as your family’s ties to WWII? Why or why not?

A: I don’t think I’m capable of writing a book unless I feel strongly about the subject matter. It is why I write. Passion for the subject matter is what sustains me on those days I want to throw my computer out of the window!

Q: When beginning a new book, do you develop a plot around the characters or does the plot come first?

A: The outline comes first! I am not a fan of them, but my agent, Al Zuckerman, insists upon them and I have come to agree with him. Yes, I always have the main characters in my mind before I begin to outline the plot, but Al and I engage in such an intensive process during the six or eight months that we develop the outline, my characters spring to life as well. And then, of course, everything gets worked out on the page during the drafting and rewriting of the novel itself.

Q: In The Tulip Eaters, who is your favorite character and why?

A: Anneke, Nora’s mother. She was based upon my mother, who fought in the resistance and loved her children more than anything in the world. She was brave, loving, adventurous, funny and amazing. She will always be my hero.

Q: Your debut novel, Saving Max, was a USA Today bestseller. What was it like to have such success with the first book you published?

A: It was shocking. It still is. As anyone who has sweated and prayed just to be published, I felt completely victorious when I saw the book in print. The fact that it has been read and enjoyed by so many still just has me shaking my head.

Q: For other aspiring authors, what is one lesson you learned from the success of Saving Max?

A: Be grateful to those who made it happen. Any author as lucky as I am to have a debut novel achieve such success had an army behind her. In my case, my husband is my greatest champion, first line editor and the only person who can stand to live with me when I’m writing. My agent, Al Zuckerman, is my creative partner and truly my editor. I can’t imagine a book without him.

Other advice: rewrite, rewrite, rewrite.
And. Rewrite.

Q: What similarities, if any, do The Tulip Eaters and Saving Max share?

A: Both are about the unconditional love of a mother for her child. In Saving Max, Danielle risked everything to keep Max safe. In The Tulip Eaters, Nora goes to the other side of the world to try to rescue Rose from her kidnapper. Anneke, Nora’s mother, is also an example of multi-generational maternal love.

Q: You were a trial lawyer for 15 years. What made you want to be a writer instead?

A: I didn’t decide to stop practicing law to become a writer. I stopped practicing law to take care of my special needs sons and my family. I had always written, but it was the experiences I had with my son who has Asperger’s that made me want to finally write a book. Writing was how I coped with my life at that time. Now it’s what I do.

Q: Describe your ideal writing space. How does it compare to where you usually write?

A: I write in my ideal writing space! We live in an old German 1860’s rock house, but I write behind it in a small studio next to our kitchen garden that has a lot of light, stone floors and a high ceiling. It is a contemporary space, completely quiet and minimalist. The only thing that makes noise is my Great Dane, Phoebe, who snores on the floor while I work.

Q: What advice would you give to an aspiring novelist?

A: Keep your day job.
Get a reader.
Rewrite until your thumbs are blue and half of your original book is on the floor.
Find a good agent. Don’t stop until you do or you’ll get nowhere.
Be true to yourself.
Get a real life. Be happy. Don’t just write or you’ll go nuts and people won’t be able to stand you!

Q: Are there any authors, living or dead, who have influenced you?

What a question! Does it matter if they’re alive or dead?

Yes. Too long to list here, but I’ll name a few. An odd selection, perhaps, but I’m an odd reader. Harper Lee, Sylvia Plath, Sue Kaufman, Scott Turow, Ian McEwan, Carson McCullers, Saul Bellow, Harold Pinter, Vladimir Nabokov.

Q: Your readers are anxiously anticipating the sequel to Saving Max, Finding Marianne. Tell us a little bit about this next project.

A: Oh, this is going to be so much fun! Marianne has resurfaced after two years on the lam. Danielle has married Tony and Max is attending college in Houston, now that he is properly medicated. Marianne is back at her twisted games, now determined to exact revenge. To assist her, she now has an acolyte with his own bizarre predilections. Danielle, Max and Doaks combine their talents to ferret out Marianne, who is just as slippery in evading them. Will Marianne get her just desserts? She certainly deserves it! 

Q:  What do you feel are the three most important ingredients for a good book?

A terrific hook, complex characters and a plot that zooms!

Q:  What challenges did you face when writing this book?

Weaving extensive historical detail into a thriller was a new challenge for me.  I had to be very careful not to inundate the plot with too much historical background and yet as I wrote, the historical facts themselves became almost a character in the novel as well as providing what I hope is a compelling backdrop for the action.

Q:  What are the blessings in your life?

My husband and my children.  From there the list is too long to begin to recount.

Q:  Do you have any long-term goals as a writer?
To write the next book!  Seriously, I can only think of one work at a time.  Someday I might like to try different genres, who knows?  That is the great thing about being a writer.  You control what you do every time a word hits the page.

Antoinette van Heugten
        About the Author
    Antoinette van Heugten

A former international trial lawyer, van Heugten spent 15 years practicing all over the world, primarily in Scandinavia, Germany and the Netherlands, as well as in Houston, her hometown. She’s a graduate of the University of Texas in Austin, Texas, where she earned her undergraduate and law degrees.

The Tulip Eaters is van Heugten’s second novel. Her debut novel, Saving Max (MIRA Books, October 2010), was a USA Today bestseller, translated into six languages and received much critical acclaim. Inspired by her real-life experience as the mother of two autistic children, Saving Max follows a single mother whose teenage son has Asperger’s syndrome and becomes the primary suspect in a gruesome murder case.

In her latest book, The Tulip Eaters (MIRA Books, November 2013), van Heugten follows Nora de Jong as she returns home from work to find her mother brutally murdered and infant daughter missing. The only clue is the body of a dead stranger, clutching a Luger in his hand. Launching a frantic search for her missing daughter, de Jong is forced to confront the roots of her family’s secret past in World War II, leading her to Amsterdam, where her own haunting memories flood back.

When not thinking up new ways to kill off her characters, van Heugten enjoys long hikes with her dog, gardening and traveling. She is currently working on her next novel, Finding Marianne, the sequel to Saving Max. She lives in Fredericksburg, Texas, with her husband, a former prominent oil and gas trial lawyer.

For more information, please