Useful by @DebraOswald1 #review

Debra Oswald



Title : Useful
Author: Debra Oswald
PublishedPenguin, January 28th 2015
Pages:: 320
Format:: Paperback print


Sullivan Moss is useless.

Once a charming underachiever, he’s now such a loser that he can’t even commit suicide properly. Waking up in hospital after falling the wrong way on a rooftop, he comes to a decision. He shouldn’t waste perfectly good organs just because they’re attached to his head. After a life of regrets, Sully wants to do one useful thing: he wants to donate a kidney to a stranger.

As he scrambles over the hurdles to become a donor, Sully almost accidentally forges a new life for himself. Sober and employed, he makes new friends, not least radio producer Natalie and her son Louis, and begins to patch things up with old ones, like his ex-best mate Tim. Suddenly, everyone wants a piece of him.

But altruism is not as easy as it seems. Just when he thinks he’s got himself together, Sully discovers that he’s most at risk of falling apart.

From the creator of Offspring comes a smart, moving and wry portrait of one man’s desire to give something of himself.

This was a great light funny read while also being quite thoughtful and reflective. Sully a character one could easily find less than appealing is instead a character one sympathises with and the reader feels for hoping he gets his life back on track after many years of being the black sheep of the crowd. Sully fails even at killing himself so to redeem himself he decides he’ll donate a kidney. Quite the leap and in the process of taking care of that kidney and trying to convince the hospital his intentions are true and good he has the chance for many a redemption. I liked this novel and found the characters flawed and yet so very real and average in many ways. People you’d actually come into contact with on a daily basis and incorporating that into a funny endearing redemptive story I found myself liking and enjoying the journey not just of Sully but his friends or ex-friends and those around him. Debra has done a great job and I look forward to future work from her hopefully equally as funny and likeable.


This book qualifies for both the Australian Woman Writers Challenge as well as the Aussie Author Challenge

YA Sci Fi Giveaway Event!

Science Fiction is the hottest genre right now. Add in some best selling authors and Young Adult books and you have an event not to be missed. So come celebrate these awesome YA Science Fiction Authors with us! Giveaways, book exclusives, games and more! Young Adult Science Fiction Multi-Author Event March 19th from 5:30-9PM. You can enter the big $100 Amazon Gift Card Giveaway at the bottom of this post! Don’t miss it!

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Schedule of events!

5:30-6:00 – Angela Scott
6:00-6:30 – Laxmi Hariharan
6:30-7:00 – Theresa Kay
7:00-7:30 – Lee Strauss
7:30-8:00 – Pavarti K Tyler
8:00-8:30 – Susan Kaye Quinn
8:30-9:00 – Joel Ohman
9:00 – Pavarti (Announce Rafflecopter winners – Enter at the bottom of this post!)




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Author Carly Ellen Kramer and How to Bake a Chocolate Soufflé

how to bake


I have an interview with author Carly Ellen Kramer to share as well as a recipe and an excerpt from her book How to Bake a Chocolate Soufflé which sounds like a delicious title. The book released in late 2014 is available now.

Forget what your English professor told you – life stories are not written in college.

Madeleine LaBlange, Annie Anderson, and Audrey Navarro shared formative years as roommates at Chicago’s Catholic haven for women, the historic Abbott College. If only they could have predicted the collisions between their carefully crafted life plans and the realities they discover beyond campus…

Madeleine harbors dreams of becoming a concert pianist while Dr. Reynold Fenwick, her mercurial graduate school mentor, harbors fantasies of Madeleine. Will pursuing her dreams be worth the cost? Will an evening in Budapest change her life forever?

Annie plans to build a perfect family with her perfect husband in the cutthroat news media industry, until an abrupt tragedy shakes the foundations of her marriage. What happens when she feels pulled between the two men she loves most, her husband and her father?

Audrey leaves her religious, restrictive parents behind and aims for Chicago’s downtown skyline, dating recklessly and staring down each grueling workday one Chicago Dog at a time. Will an island respite lure her away from her corporate future? When she finds herself in the arms of an unexpected lover, will she have the courage to stand up for her own evolving sense of self?

Follow the journeys of these remarkable women, and cheer them on as they navigate life, love, and chocolate soufflé.

Melitzanosalata (Greek Eggplant Dip, pictured)

Pierce two medium size eggplant several times with a fork and grill until blackened and soft. Allow to cool for a few minutes, then scrape off blackened skins. Puree eggplant in a blender along with 2 cloves of fresh garlic, 1 tablespoon of fresh parsley (mint works well, too), 1/4 cup of fresh lemon juice, and 2 tablespoons of good quality olive oil. Season to taste with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Serve with crisp vegetable slices or fresh pita bread. Makes about 2 cups.


Please tell me about yourself
I love to cook, and am fascinated by the connections between food and culture. I also love to travel, which lends itself quite nicely to exploring both new foods and new cultures! It’s only natural, I suppose, that my book characters often connect certain foods with pivotal life experiences. I feel very fortunate that my hobbies feed one another (pun intended).

Please share something about you that no one knows
I often write dialogue in my head while making jams and jellies. That probably sounds ridiculous, but making jams and jellies requires constant stirring over a bubbling pot for long periods of time. All of that repetitive stirring is very relaxing, and allows my mind to wander through conversations and conflicts my emerging characters are experiencing.

What are you reading now?
Hmm. I’m always reluctant to answer that… it’s like having your photo taken during a random, everyday moment, and then having people hold that image of you – whether or not you are smiling or your clothes match – forever! I read a LOT, and exactly what I read varies widely from one week to the next. Right now I’m reading Tatiana and Alexander by Paullina Simons, Finding His Way Home by Mia Ross, and Lost and Found in Prague by Kelly Jones. Next week, who knows?

Some favourite books and authors?
The Bronze Horseman by Paullina Simons is one of the best books I’ve ever read. Other favorites include Savage Inequalities by Jonathan Kozol, Pandora’s Lunchbox by Melanie Warner, The All You Can Dream Buffet by Barbara O’Neal, and Sugar Daddy by Lisa Kleypas. As you can see from the eclectic mix of fiction and nonfiction, there’s really not much predictability behind my favorite books and authors!

What is your work space and writing routine like? Please share a picture if willing
I spend some of my most productive writing time in coffeeshops at odd hours. The ability to people watch and, yes, eavesdrop on conversations often inspires the dialogue in my novels. I don’t mean that I steal conversations – nothing like that. Instead, I’m curious about speech patterns and the ways in which language evolves. New (to me) figures of speech, turns of phrases, slang words, positive and negative exclamations – those are the sorts of details that catch my attention. I also take note – literally – of body language. If the woman waiting for coffee next to me yells into her cell phone “Oh no, tell me he did NOT say that to you!”, I notice her nonverbals. Did she lift her head high on her neck while talking, or stick her head forward? Did she pace, or stand in place with a hand on her hip?

Sometimes I write at my messy desk in my home office.
Carly Ellen Kramer's desk

It’s just a plain old messy desk, really.

Food is a big part of your life, what is the best meal you’ve ever had?
The best meal that comes to mind at the moment was a three hour lunch at a tiny little bistro in Lichtenberg, France. My dining companions and I didn’t speak French, and the staff didn’t speak English, but a great deal of mutual smiling and miming led to an extraordinary experience. We sampled a little bit of everything, or so it seemed – pates and salads, fish and chicken, breads and cheeses, and the most exquisite desserts! Each plate looked so enticing that I took photos and had them printed into a series of notecards.

You work recipes into your books, do you come up with the recipe or story first?
The story always comes first. That’s the way it works in real life. Nobody ever says, “I want to make ten pounds of potato salad, but where shall I bring it?” A person is far more likely to say, “The neighbors are hosting a cookout to celebrate their son’s engagement – how exciting! Now, what shall I bring?”

Please tell us about How to Bake a Chocolate Soufflé
How to Bake a Chocolate Soufflé is about life experiences of three women who were roommates in college and followed very different paths after graduation. As time passes career and family dynamics evolve, and the women experience comedy, romance, drama, and steadfast friendship. There are so many “coming of age” books which tell the story of characters during their college years, and then the story ends. Many of those are great books, but I didn’t want to write a story like that. I wanted to write about what happens next, because a few years spent in school shouldn’t be the end of anything – those years should be the beginning of even bigger and better adventures to come!

What do readers have to look forward to next?
In Book 2 of the Cherry Harbor series, the three women featured in How to Bake a Chocolate Soufflé take a small step into the background. The lead character is a young widow who is trying to rebuild her life while hiding terrible secrets. Three wise women (I told you, just a small step into the background) help her to find her way. A handyman who happens to look darn good in a pair of blue jeans and harbors a few secrets of his own may have a little something to do with the story line, too… ;) Book 2 is a little edgier, I think. I’m looking forward to reviewing a proof copy soon!
A server appeared – it was Hektor, Annie realized in a flash of undeserved embarrassment – with a plate of tiny, artfully arranged Orektikó. Among the appetizer bites were petite dishes of eggplant melitzanosalata and tangy tzatziki with thin bell pepper slices for dipping, a pair of slender lamb filled dolmades, and two small triangles of tiropita bursting with feta and ricotta cheeses. The anniversary couple took their time and savored each bite, knowing that traditional Greek meals were luxuriously long affairs.

How to Bake a Chocolate Soufflé can be found online at Amazon in print or ebook format, Crowded Earth Kitchen for signed copies and on Goodreads.

A server appeared – it was Hektor, Annie realized in a flash of undeserved embarrassment – with a plate of tiny, artfully arranged Orektikó. Among the appetizer bites were petite dishes of eggplant melitzanosalata and tangy tzatziki with thin bell pepper slices for dipping, a pair of slender lamb filled dolmades, and two small triangles of tiropita bursting with feta and ricotta cheeses. The anniversary couple took their time and savored each bite, knowing that traditional Greek meals were luxuriously long affairs.

“I fired Max yesterday,” Annie declared.

Bryant looked surprised. “Really? Why didn’t you –”

He cut himself short, remembering his unanticipated late night at work, and the three-against-one bedtime chaos he walked in on when he finally returned home. Bryant quickly changed the direction of his question.

“What finally did it?”

~How to Bake a Chocolate Soufflé, page 90

Dead Girl Walking by Ruth Silver 99cent sale


Dead Girl Walking (Royal Reaper) by Ruth Silver

Published: November 25, 2014

Publisher: Booktrope


Forget everything you know about grim reapers.

Princess Ophelia Dacre sneaks out of the castle to visit her boyfriend in secret. A perfect night cut short when she’s brutally murdered.

Ophelia is given the rare chance to become a grim reaper. She must become Leila Bele, cut ties with her old life, and follow the rules of the reapers. Her greatest adventure begins with death.


Now includes the prequel Ashes to Ashes as a bonus story in the Booktrope edition. Available in eBook & Paperback.

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Dead Girl Walking

Licensed to Ruth Silver

ON SALE FOR JUST 99 cents!!!
Available on Amazon | Barnes & Noble



“Listen, kid, I don’t care what you believe in. It’s not for me to say what’s true and untrue, real or unreal. My assignment was you. You get to be one of us, if you want it. Otherwise, you move on, life is over, kaput.”

Ophelia backed away from the stranger. For the first time, she realized she didn’t feel cold and wasn’t shivering. Is this what being dead was like? “One of you?”

“A grim reaper.” He held out his hand to properly introduce himself. “Edon Montgomery, head reaper and old soul.”


Dead Girl Walking (Royal Reaper)

Licensed to Ruth Silver


Author Interview

Do you have any plans to write a spin-off for Aberrant?

Yes! I am currently working on an untitled project that is a prequel, spin-off. I haven’t spoken much about it, but I will say there is plenty of action and a world to explore that we’ve barely touched in the Aberrant trilogy.

What are you currently working on?

I’ve got several writing projects underway. Forget Me Knot (Royal Reaper 2) is in edits right now with an expected Spring 2015 release. I’m also writing steamy adult fiction under the name Ravyn Rayne, which will be available this year as well. You can find those projects on Ravyn Rayne Reads.

Do you have a full-time job?

Writing and marketing my own novels is my full-time job. It involves far more than 40 hours a week, but I love it, so I don’t mind.


About the Author

1 lo res

Ruth Silver is the best-selling author of the Aberrant trilogy. With a passion for writing and a love of story-telling, Ruth is actively writing two series: Royal Reaper and Orenda. Her interests also include traveling, reading, and photography. Her favorite vacation destination is Australia. Ruth currently resides in Plainfield, Illinois. She can be found on Twitter, Facebook, and her book blog Write Away Bliss.