#StampYourPassport for both France 🇫🇷 & Argentina 🇦🇷 ! Take a trip through the Vineyards, learn about the Wine, the food, the beautiful scenery and atmosphere that will surround you from amazing homes to gorgeous horses running around! Michael Higgins takes you on a luxurious Tour right right from wherever you are sitting! And, get to know him, because he is about to start an amazing Show at World Of the Write Review called “Book & Wine Tasting”!!
Exploring Wine Regions – Bordeaux France is the second book in its series that brings a unique approach in educating and inspiring readers about the wine regions of the world. Bordeaux takes you on a journey exploring the long and fascinating history of wine, gastronomy, castles and joie de vivre, the French way of living life. The perfect companion for any wine lover or travel enthusiast.
With a passion for wine and travel, author and photographer Michael C. Higgins delves deep into the history of Bordeaux, which he refers to as the “center of the universe for wine.” Combining wine education, insiders travel guide and his spectacular photography, Higgins continues to dazzle his audience with another informative and beautiful book. Higgins helps readers understand the complexities of Bordeaux wine by presenting each region separately and explaining their nuances. He helps them navigate their own way through this historic wine region by highlighting the chateaux, including the ones where you can stay in their castles, restaurants and experiences with detailed maps and insider tips.
With breathtaking photography and personal commentary, readers are mesmerized by the Bordeaux world of wine, food and travel. Extensive resources are provided for wine lovers who want to know where to go, what to look for, what questions to ask, and how to understand complex answers. Everyone can learn how to develop a palate to appreciate the finest wine and food the French has to offer. Both connoisseurs and novices turn to this book series for insider information and inspiration. A must-have book for expanding your knowledge of Bordeaux and its wines.
“Exploring Wine Regions – Bordeaux France” by Michael C. Higgins has opened my eyes to the beautiful Bordeaux wine region of France. Now my love affair with France has even more to love!
The beauty that Michael C. Higgins brings forth is simply outstanding! Between the writing and the photography, I felt like I’d taken a vacation as I flipped the pages! Both alluring and inviting, a lot of photos took my breathe away! Stunning, Fancy, Warm, Glorious and captivating!
The Buildings, like homes and castles are so appealing they feel like fairy-tales! I am in awe! To me they are magical.
To feel like I was standing at among the vineyards sipping on a glass of wine has been such a gift! Michael C. Higgins is very talented. We need more of these books!
I was given a copy of this book by the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review.
Exploring Wine Regions is a unique book series that incorporates the beauty of a quality coffee table piece, an elaborate travel guide, an inspiring wine education, spectacular photography, and captivating adventures into the depths of travel, food and wine connoisseurship. It is the Leading Insiders Guide to exploring the wine regions of the world uncovering extraordinary winemakers, chefs and sommeliers. It includes detailed information to plan and travel to see the most interesting wineries, restaurants and resorts located in these beautiful wine regions. Agronomists, Oenologists, Vintners, Chefs, Sommeliers, and Outdoor Adventurers are interviewed in-depth to give you the inside track to Exploring Wine Regions of the world.”
Micheal C. Higgins obviously has an amazing eye for taking the right “shot”! He captures Argentina’s Wine Country in such a way that now it is on my bucket list to visit!
I am in love with Malbec’s and to read that Higgins “hadn’t met a Malbec he hasn’t liked” was just super exciting because it became my favorite wine after I received a bottle as a gift from a friend that went to Argentina.
I was so enticed by the horses and food. It felt like I was alongside Michael as he visited Argentina. He shares this part of the world to us like a genius! Everything is delicious! Everything is exciting!
This book can certainly serve as a travel guide. We need more books like this. I trust everyone can enjoy this book, even those that want to take a trip without leaving their home. Micheal C. Higgins provides us with a truly sensational romp through Argentina’s Wine Country. Beautiful, Warm, Inviting, Glamorous, and quite lovely!
Everyone that enjoys wine needs this book!
I was given a copy of this book by the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review.
–BEST TRAVEL BOOK OF 2020 -New York City Big Book Award -Best Travel Guidebook of 2021 -25th Annual IPPY Awards -Best Regional Book of 2021 -Next Generation Indie Book Awards -Best Wine and Travel Book of 2020 -Pinnacle Book Achievement Award -Best Travel Guide of 2020 +American BookFest’s Best Book Award -2nd Best Travel Book of 2021 -Benjamin Franklin Awards -2nd Best Wine Book of 2021 -National Indie Excellence Award -2nd Best Travel Book of 2021 -National Indie Excellence Award -2nd Best Travel Guide of 2021 -International Book Awards -2nd Best Photography Book of 2021 -Book Excellence Awards -Honorable Mention – Best Travel Book of 2020 Forward INDIE Awards
For more than 20 years, author, photographer and wine expert, Michael C. Higgins has been the publisher of Flying Adventures magazine, a lifestyle travel publication for food and wine lovers who own and travel on private airplanes. As a private pilot, travel enthusiast, and food and wine lover himself, Higgins continues to live the story he’s been sharing for decades.
Between the magazine and this book series, Higgins has participated in some of the most extraordinary experiences. He has virtually done it all: from pruning vines, picking grapes, working alongside winemakers, to participating in blind tastings, food and wine pairings, judging Cru Bourgeois wines, and sharing many meals with world renowned winemakers, over countless hours, discussing everything wine. His time in the wine regions add up to thousands of days and counting. And as an accomplished photographer, he has captured even more spectacular images of the wine world.
Higgins has participated in many unique wine experiences, indulged in the most exclusive culinary affairs, been pampered in highly luxurious destinations and jumped into the wildest of adventures. His goal is to inspire his readers to join him in exploring the wine regions of the world and experiencing the unimaginable. Higgins has a BA in Commercial Art, an MBA and a PhD in Business Administration. He is a California native and lives in Pasadena, California.
Starting New Show at World of the Write Review called “Book & Wine Tasting”
Join Michael C. Higgins and his guest for an enjoyable taste of their books and a wine that should go great with their book while you are reading it. Authors: Contact Annie McDonnell at World of the Write Review to be Guest.
Order from World of the Write Review Bookshop (10% Goes to One Love Dog Rescue):
We are all so proud to offer our first edition of “World Voices”. We have contributions from authors such as Janet Oakley, Meryl Ain, Heidi Daniele, Soraya Lane, Kristine Ohkubo and more! All of our Contributing Reviewers and myself offered our Summer Book Recommendations! Our Member, Erica Firkin shared some neat exercises we could do when we take breaks from reading….and, so much more!! Take a look and enjoy! Please be sure to fill out our contact form so it can be delivered directly to your email in September when we set up our Winter Edition.
When a student disappears and is presumed dead, her professor passes off her manuscript as his own–only to find out it implicates him in an unsolved murder in this new thriller from the USA Today bestselling author of The Request.
After years of struggling to write following the deaths of his wife and son, English professor Connor Nye publishes his first novel, a thriller about the murder of a young woman.
There’s just one problem: Connor didn’t write the book. His missing student did. And then she appears on his doorstep, alive and well, threatening to expose him.
Connor’s problems escalate when the police insist details in the novel implicate him in an unsolved murder from two years ago. Soon Connor discovers the crime is part of a disturbing scandal on campus and faces an impossible dilemma–admit he didn’t write the book and lose his job or keep up the lie and risk everything. When another murder occurs, Connor must clear his name by unraveling the horrifying secrets buried in his student’s manuscript.
This is a suspenseful, provocative novel about the sexual harassment that still runs rampant in academia–and the lengths those in power will go to cover it up.
If there is one thing I know, it’s that I will read a book by David Bell each summer, love it and want to share my opinion about it with the world!
“Kill All Your Darlings” is yet another novel written by David Bell that began my summer with the sizzling temptation to flip the pages because I had to know the answers to his wicked mind tricks, keeping me up late until the night.
This is a truly incendiary storyline with a constant rousing of suspicion that I could actually feel my blood heat up!
The whodunit was rattling me! The wanting a certain someone to be innocent was so powerful! The Dog comforting the protagonist!! This was an inspiring recipe for success!
I couldn’t recommend this book more. Make your summer #ADavidBellSummer
I received a copy of this book from Berkley Books via NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review.
Now that it’s out, I feel agitated, restless. My thoughts are a jumble. “Do you want a drink or something?” I ask. “I think I need bourbon.”
“Sure,” she says. “I always drank when you paid.”
I go back out to the kitchen, Grendel at my heels. It’s cold out, and I’d turned the heat down when I left the house. But I feel flushed, sweaty. Almost like I have a fever. I open the corner cabinet and take down a bottle of Rowan’s Creek and two glasses. When Jake was born, twenty years ago, Emily’s brother gave me a bottle of Rowan’s Creek, so whenever I drink it, I think of my son. My hand shakes as I pour.
Grendel starts eating. I hear his chomping in the corner.
“You were drinking a lot when I last saw you.”
I turn toward Madeline. She’s standing in the doorway from the living room, leaning against the jamb.
“I was,” I say. “I’ve cut back. A lot. I had to.” I hand her the glass, trying to control the trembling. “But I think I could use one or maybe two tonight.”
“I guess it isn’t every day that a ghost shows up in your house.”
I swallow and lean back against the counter. “They looked for you, Madeline. Searches all over campus and town. It was on the news. Some people thought you just up and ran off on a whim. Some students do that. Impulse trips.”
“Some kids can afford to do that.”
“Right. But they looked in your apartment. You left all your books and clothes behind. You were an excellent student, anhonors student, a few months away from getting a degree. And you stopped coming to class. The police questioned everybodywho’d had any contact with you, including me. Especially mebecause we were all at the bar that night.”
“And I left Dubliners right after you did.”
“Right. Some of this is fuzzy. How I got home . . . how I evenman- aged to get my key in the lock and get inside . . . I kind of think you came with me . . . but I don’t know how far . . .”
“Out in the living room you were talking about the book,” shesays, arms crossed, glass in front of her. “After you read it andwanted to talk to me and I was gone.”
I finish my first glass and pour another. This is it, I tell myself. Justtwo drinks.
“You know I have to publish to get tenure,” I say. “That’s theway to survive in academia.”
“I’ve heard about that.” “Publish or perish, they call it.” “It sounds awfully bleak.”
“It can be,” I say. “And I hadn’t published anything in the sevenyears I’d been here. That book of stories AutumnSunsetcameout when I was still in graduate school, so it didn’t count. If youdon’t get tenure, you get fired. And if I didn’t get tenure here, I probably wouldn’t get hired anywhere else. They’d see I failedto produce, and no one would touch me. Why would they want a middle-aged guy with a huge blank spot in his publicationrecord?”
“You could tell them about your family,” Madeline says.
“Sure. And the university here gave me an extra year for bereavement. I still couldn’t produce a book or even a few stories.” Grendel appears to be finished eating. He slurps some water, shakes his head, and goes back out to his perch on thecouch. “Dr. White, the department chair, is a pretty good friend.And he really looked out for me. But he could only do so much. And he was really on me, reminding me what was at stake. He kept telling me, ‘Just produce something, Connor.’”
“No pressure, right? Hurry up and write an entire book whileyou’re grieving.”
“Life goes on at some point.” I drink some more. “The worlddoesn’t stop forever. Six months had passed after youdisappeared. Six months. No one really said it out loud, but everybody was thinking the same thing. After a few days—a week, really—people were thinking the worst had happened. That you weren’t coming back. That you were dead. Murdered. Even your mom said it in an interview she did with the local paper. Does she know you’re—”
“I’ll call her soon,” Madeline says, her voice sharp. “You just finish telling me about the book and how all of this happened.”
We’ve reversed roles. She’s asking the questions. She’s playing the part of authority figure. And I feel compelled to answer herand give a full accounting of myself.
“I had your book,” I say. “Almost all handwritten. And you were gone. And I had an agent interested in my writing from years ago, although I wasn’t even sure she still knew I existed. I tookyour handwrit- ten book and retyped it on my computer.”
“You gave me a hard time about turning in a handwritten draft. I told you my computer died.”
“It turned out to be to my advantage. I made some of therevisions as I went along. I kept telling myself I wasn’t going to send it anywhere, that I was just going to type the book out as anexercise, a way to get my own creative juices flowing again. Butthe deadline was coming up for my tenure review. And I really wasn’t sure how I would handle it if I lost this job. On top ofeverything else, to be unemployed with nowhere to go.”
Madeline shows concern as she listens. She’s nodding,encouraging me to keep talking. And it feels good, really good,to finally unburden myself of the secret I’ve been carrying around for the past eighteen months. Even if I am unburdeningmyself to the person most directly harmed by my actions.
“It’s so hard to get a book published,” I say. “What are thechances for anyone? It was a whim. A Hail Mary play. But my agent loved the story. And within a few weeks, an editor lovedit. And bought it. I kept telling myself to speak up, to tell them itwasn’t mine. But the train just kept gathering momentum and . .. I have to be honest . . . after every- thing that had gone wrong for me, after all my struggles with writing, to hear people sayingsuch nice things felt really, really good.”
I look at her, and she swallows some of her bourbon. The lookon her face has shifted, from concern and understanding tosomething I can’t really read. Her eyes look flat and cold, palemarbles staring back at me.
“I’m sorry, Madeline,” I say. “I really am.”
She takes her time responding, and then says, “Don’t worry. Ididn’t show up here without a plan for how you’ll make this allright.”
KILL ALL YOUR DARLINGS is a fast-paced thriller that tells the story of Connor Nye, a creative writing professor who is struggling to get over the death of his wife and son in an accident. One of his best students turns in an honors thesis—a novel—and then disappears and is presumed dead. Connor passes the book off as his own, and then the student turns up very much alive. And then the police show up because the book Connor passed off as his own implicates him in an unsolved cold case murder. Things get worse from there.
You’ve written over ten novels, while also being a college professor. Why now did you decide to write a story set on a college campus? What inspired you to write the book?
I’ve had the idea for this novel in the back of my head for a long time. Years. And I’ve tried on a few different occasions to get it off the ground and never could get it right. Finally, I cracked the code and went for it in 2021. Since I’m a professor at a university, I think about the academic world all the time. And since I’m a suspense writer who produces a book every year I’m always on the lookout for a good story. It was inevitable I’d set one on a campus.
During my time as a graduate student and then as a professor, I’ve seen more than one case of a professor abusing their power and pursuing inappropriate relationships with their students. I’ve seen the toll this takes on the students and the entire community. We’ve made progress on this issue, but it hasn’t gone away, so I hope my book calls attention to the problem while it also entertains the reader.
How do you think KILL ALL YOUR DARLINGS differs from your previous books?
The subject matter and setting are different. More than anything, I wanted to push myself in the way the story is told. The book uses multiple points of view and goes back and forth in time, and these are techniques I’ve never employed to this extent before. However, I thought the story—which is complex and tangled—could only be told in such an unusual way. Each of the characters knows a part of the story, and the events stretch across time with the past very much affecting the present. Telling the story this way certainly created challenges for me because it meant a lot of balls were in the air. So I had to learn to juggle as I went along.
While writing the book did you come across anything in writing about campus life that surprised you? Did you interview anyone for the book to get some ideas on how to characterize anyone?
Obviously, I know the academic world very well since I’ve been working in it so long. It’s a unique setting, rather different than other workplaces. As I developed the idea for the book, I did speak to some of my colleagues and some of my students, asking them if they had experiences that were similar to the ones I was going to be writing about. I was surprised to learn that so many people I know have experienced or witnessed the kind of harassment that is depicted in the book. I’m not exactly a Pollyanna, but I was still surprised. And not in a good way.
In KILL ALL YOUR DARLINGS, some of Connor’s colleagues look down at him writing a mystery novel. You’re currently the head of the creative writing program—has anyone ever thought that you “ought” to be writing the next “Great American Novel” instead of mysteries or thrillers?
Hey, who says the “Great American Novel”—whatever that is—can’t be a mystery or a thriller? I tell you what, if it was a mystery or a thriller, a heck of a lot more people would read it. And they wouldn’t be bored by it. But to answer the question, yes, there is absolutely a snobbish attitude among a fair number of my academic brethren when it comes to writing anything that might be remotely popular or accessible. At the same time, I have plenty of colleagues who not only read my books but they also read the work of other thriller writers. As I always tell my students, don’t write what you think other people want you to write. Write what you want to write. We can only follow our own paths and not worry about others.
Your protagonist Connor develops great rapport with his students, how have some of your students reacted to your books when they’ve read them?
Some people assume that all of my students would read my books. The truth is I have plenty of students who probably have no idea that I’ve written or published any books. But some students read them and tell me they enjoy them. I have a rule—I don’t count it as a real compliment if a student praises one of my books while they’re in my class. That strikes me as an easy way to score brownie points. Now if a student compliments one of my books years after they’ve graduated and I can no longer give them a grade, I take that to be sincere.
Since being in a college classroom for 16 years, how have you seen the dynamics of college change?
In many ways, things don’t change. I’m not sure students are vastly different now than they were when I was in college back during the Revolutionary War. Certain things are universal. Students are trying to figure out who they are and what they’re going to do. They worry about their grades. They like to have a good time—too good sometimes. They want to fall in love.
But many things are different. Technology for one. There was no social media when I was in school. (Thank the Lord.) It barely existed when I started teaching. More than anything else, I think the economics of college continue to get worse, and the book reflects this. It’s harder and harder for working and middle class students to pay their way. Madeline O’Brien is one of those students struggling to get by. She has to work long hours at a job in a grocery store in order to come close to keeping her head above water. As someone who went through school on student loans and financial aid, I understand, but I think the costs are getting further and further out of control. Let’s face it, even the professors have a hard time getting by on shrinking salaries. The financial picture is bleak
Why do you think KILL ALL YOUR DARLINGS is so important to today’s times?
As I said above, we’ve made progress in terms of how students are treated on campus. And we’ve taken steps to eliminate harassing behavior. But change only comes completely when people are aware, and I think—among some people—there is a tendency to say, “Hey, we had the MeToo movement so there’s no more harassment.” That’s absolutely not true. In my own small way, I’m trying to call attention to this issue while also writing an entertaining thriller. And the book is a reminder that students are vulnerable in a lot of ways, and those in power have an obligation to protect them.
What do you think readers who are entering college now would find surprising when reading KILL ALL YOUR DARLINGS versus and readers who have been out of college for a while?
I think it would be the amount of pressure on the students. It’s not just the things that happen in the classroom. It’s the tremendous economic pressure so many students and their families face. It’s the profound worry about what the future is going to look like. All of these pressures take a toll on the mental health of the students. And colleges themselves are facing enormous economic pressures as states cut funding and invest less in our educational system. Something needs to change, but I’m not sure it will.
David Bell is a USA Today bestselling and award-winning suspense novelist. His most recent thriller from Berkley/Penguin is KILL ALL YOUR DARLINGS. His previous novels include THE REQUEST, LAYOVER, SOMEBODY’S DAUGHTER, BRING HER HOME, SINCE SHE WENT AWAY, SOMEBODY I USED TO KNOW, THE FORGOTTEN GIRL, NEVER COME BACK, THE HIDING PLACE, and CEMETERY GIRL. He is currently a Professor of English at Western Kentucky University and can be reached via his website at www.davidbellnovels.com, on Twitter at Twitter.com/davidbellnovels, and on Facebook at Facebook.com/davidbellnovels.
After notifying the bishop that a young girl possessed by an invisible demon must be exorcised immediately, Father Nathaniel Kerrigan is shocked when the bishop insists he perform the ritual. Panicked, Kerrigan calls on his old friend and trusted mentor, Monsignor Carmichael, to convince the bishop he should use another priest instead. But when Kerrigan claims he wants out because he has no experience with the preternatural, Carmichael fears there is much more at stake than Kerrigan’s letting on. As Carmichael drags Kerrigan on a dark and painful journey through a secluded nature preserve, it soon becomes clear the real reason Kerrigan is so desperate to avoid the confrontation is that the demon inside the girl has a window into his hidden past.
A Debut Novel at its finest!
Frank Oliva wrote this exorcist thriller with such precision, I had no doubt his “day” job required very specific details in order to excel.
He is a smart, clever writer with an keen eye for knowing how to deliver fear with a nice touch of anticipation!
Every character is so rich and deep. I felt attached to them, especially Monsignor Carmichael and Harout.
Frank Oliva puts words into sentences and quotes that completely made me feel a sense of uneasiness. I found myself closing my eyes, tight! Scared of what was to come.
This story made me squirm with a hair raising creepiness that actually had me scream out loud at times when I least expected it. I was acutely aware of how scared I was, and I really loved it!
This storyline is so multilayered that my excitement grew with each flip of the page.
To be so richly developed and scary at the same time reminded me of reading my only Stephen King novel, “Misery”. I trust it is because of Frank Oliva’s ability to dig deeply into the emotions of each character, making them so complex that their own fears are brought to the surface…leaving you vulnerable as the reader.
“Walking Among the Trees” kept growing thicker, deeper….and, scarier! Nicely paced! Seeming like such a metaphor as these two priests share stories as they step further into the Trees…but, even deeper still as the the story leads up to the very end that I was not prepared for!! I dare you to be ready!
My “Walks Among the Trees” will never be the same!
Frank Oliva is one to watch!
Frank Michael Oliva is a practicing attorney and law professor from Long Island, New York. As a teenager, he worked as a receptionist at the rectory of his local parish and developed a close relationship with one of the priests, a former English teacher. Their philosophical conversations about the nature of good and evil left a lasting impression on Frank and inspired him to write his first novel, Walking Among the Trees, nearly two decades later. When he isn’t busy working or writing, Frank can be found spending time with his wife and twin children, reading, or playing video games.
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What would you do if all you knew had abandoned you? Abandoned by their creator, two factions of angels remain on earth after the Great War with Lucifer. These Virtues and Power Angels struggle to comprehend their Creator’s plan while their wings, a symbol of their angelic lineage, slowly and painfully decay. Unaware of one another, the angels learn to survive and reinvent themselves. With no hope of returning to the Shining Kingdom, both groups denounce their angelic lineage and develop into their own factions. They call themselves the “Fae.” This is their story. The Fae world is ruled by two distinct courts: the Court of Light, led by Queen Aurora, a former Virtue Angel, and the Court of Dark, ruled by King Jarvok, a former Power Brigade Angel. The two monarchs have opposing views on how to govern their kin and, more importantly, the way humanity plays into their survival. The one belief they agree on is human worship equals power. Exactly how the two go about capturing and maintaining power is a very different story. Ride on the backs of dragons with the Dark Fae and watch the Light Fae play in the shadows of primitive humanity as they build their kingdoms. A fantastic epic adventure of heartbreak, rebirth, and hope that examines the bonds of family, friendship, and love. What would you do if you were abandoned? If you were forced to reinvent yourself? If your core beliefs were challenged? Would you ignore your own pain, instead channeling it and acting benevolently? Or would you become ferociously protective of those by your side, consolidating power to ensure nothing would ever hurt your kin, even if it meant acting malevolently? Two Fae must face these choices when they are thrust into the roles of monarchs, each one choosing a path that will guide them toward an unknown future. No longer angels, no longer bound by their Creator. They are their own beings and masters of their own destiny. They are the Fae.
Meet Some Characters:
Don’t you just need to know more!! Danielle Orsino is so talented. Do not miss this book!
A remote island retreat. Seven reluctant guests. A killer on the prowl.
Lock your door. You could be next.
Seven strangers are invited to an exclusive writers’ retreat on a remote island off the coast of Oregon. Their stay is at a hundred-year-old lighthouse revamped into a luxury ocean-front getaway for the discerning literati who shy from publicity.
Asha arrives on the island, believing her job is to cater to this sagacious celebrity party.
But before the weekend is over, an unseen killer will attempt to murder them, one by one.
With their phones taken away and their only connection to the mainland cut off, panic sets in on the island. Everyone suspects each other until a chilling realization dawn on them.
They are all connected by one horrific incident in the past they’d rather forget.
With a target on her back as well, Asha races against the clock to crack the killer’s code before more innocents die.
But are these seven guests as innocent as they make out to be?
When two New York sleuthing Bakers head cross country to the Oregon Coast with a Dulce de Lecho Cheescake for an exclusive writers retreat, you know that there is more than dessert being delivered!!
There will be trouble, and no one had to look far.
“Merciless Games” is like reading a live game of “Clue”. The whodunnit had me reeling!! I just kept changing my mind and I never saw it turning out as it did.
Tikiri Herath delivers villains just as wonderfully as she does heroes!
For avid readers, this is so much fun! The Writer Retreat guests are just too intriguing. All of the books that surround them was a huge plus.
Then, there are the glorious views on the island that are simply immeasurable!
I highly recommend this book to readers enjoying Agatha Christie or tv viewers that enjoy “Murder She Wrote”.
I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for a fair and honest review.
Tikiri Herath is the multiple award-winning author of pulse-pounding, spine-tingling, international thrillers and mystery novels.
She is also the author of The Rebel Diva books for kickass women everywhere.
Tikiri has a bachelor’s degree from the University of Victoria, British Columbia, and a master’s degree from the Solvay Business School in Brussels. For almost two decades, she worked in risk management in the intelligence and defense sectors, including in the Canadian Federal Government and at NATO.
Tikiri’s an adrenaline junkie who has rock climbed, bungee jumped, rode on the back of a motorcycle across Quebec, flown in an acrobatic airplane upside down, and parachuted solo.
When she’s not plotting another thriller scene or planning an adrenaline-filled trip, you’ll find her baking in her kitchen with a glass of red Shiraz and swing jazz playing in the background.
Born in Sri Lanka, Tikiri grew up in East Africa and has studied, worked, and lived in Europe, Southeast Asia, and North America throughout her adult life. An international nomad and fifth-culture kid, she now calls Canada home.
I am proud to be one of Tikiri Herath’s Beta Readers. Thank you, Tikiri, for the acknowledgment in your book. It means so much to me.
Finalist, LGTBQ Nonfiction Category, 15th Annual National Indie Excellence Awards
At age 10, Vince Spinnato watched TV soaps with his grandmother and became enamored with the characters on The Young and the Restless, who owned a cosmetics firm. He vowed he would follow in their footsteps and chose a name – VS Vincenzo. In his unconventional memoir, Spinnato shares the inner workings of the multi-billion-dollar beauty industry with entertaining tales about creating beauty products and fine fragrances for celebrities including Michael Jordan, Jennifer Lopez, Jessica Simpson, Lindsay Lohan, Gwen Stefani, and many others.
Spinnato also shares some of his life’s most bizarre situations: the time he survived a tornado in Iowa while being tethered to a bridge; another when he became stuck inside a resort water slide that involved melted butter and a rescue by the fire department; an embarrassing meetup with film star Lauren Bacall; and his terrifying flight post 9/11 that was nearly shot down by fighter pilots.
Transforming himself into a well-known serial entrepreneur and beauty industry expert was no small feat. Along the way, Spinnato dealt with incessant bullying, coming out, dyslexia, body dysmorphia, trichotillomania, and multiple betrayals. “A devastating breakup was the last straw,” he says. “At age 20, I got in my car, waved good-bye to New Jersey, and headed to Hollywood, determined to launch my career.”
He eventually founded TurnKey Beauty, Inc. to develop beauty and personal care products for celebrities, as well as major retailers (more than 300 products and counting). A contributor to Vogue, Vanity Fair, Harper’s Bazaar, W, Esquire, and GQ, the cosmetic chemist founded Aegean Skincare, LLC and Vincenzo Skincare, LLC. In My Pursuit of Beauty, Spinnato not only reveals behind-the-scenes tales of working with the rich and famous, searing stories of loves lost, and his scramble to make it, but also his moving journey to self-acceptance.
Vince Spinnato is the walking embodiment of the quote “Never give up because great things take time”!
“My Pursuit of Beauty” can serve as a self-help book for those following their dreams and feel like they are getting knocked down too many times along the way.
Vince is my hero!! He always holds his head high and pushes though.
A seed grew in his young mind as he watched “Young & the Restless” & “Dynasty” with his mother. Then it blossomed into this glorious, rather sensational dynasty! The VS Vincenzo Dynasty!
He began implementing his plans, like selling creams at a futon shop!
Vince is affectionate and caring! He had friends that loved him and friends that loved him a lot less! Things happen to him that seem ridiculous, and you will laugh out loud or cry. So many times I just wanted to reach through the page and hug him. Many times, Vince deserved better. Many times, I felt outrage!
Follow Vince’s journey to Success. You will be happy you did, because it is so entertaining. Early in his career path he met an executive from Elle Magazine, just as I started with Elle Magazine! That Magazine brings good things to life!
He is always ready to give you the shirt off of his back.Vince Spinnato definitely makes waves along the way to becoming a successful entrepreneur! He is a force of nature!
“My Pursuit of Beauty” is such an personal journey you will feel like you are best friends with Vince by the time you finish the book. You will want to meet him and shake his hand, because you’ll be proud of him, but mostly impressed by him!
I read the book and listened to the audible! I adored both.
Vince makes my heart smile!
With more than 25 years of experience in the personal care, cosmetics, and fine fragrance industries, Vince Spinnato, a cosmetic chemist, certified nose, executive and marketer has become one of the leading names in the refinement and development of new products and private label lines for beauty brands and fine fragrances.
After studying chemistry and international business in college, Spinnato completed a two-year apprenticeship learning about cosmetic chemistry as well as the national and international manufacturing and retail ends of the industry. During that period, Spinnato acquired vast knowledge and became an expert in identifying the “real world” effectiveness of ingredients and raw materials while working and managing within a team framework.
Spinnato’s wealth of experience and continual search for the best and most effective ingredients has led to multiple product breakthroughs. Through the years, he has worked with numerous cosmetics and healthcare companies such as Chanel, Limited (Victoria Secret, Bath & Body Works), Gap/Banana Republic, P&G, J&J, Trader Joes, Whole Foods, Kmart/Sears and many others. Spinnato has also worked on developing new products for celebrities including Ole Henriksen, Michael Jordan, Jennifer Lopez, Jessica Simpson, Lilian Garcia, Carrie Underwood, Pitbull, French Montana and others.
Spinnato is a member of the California Chapter of the SCC; and he has been a contributor to publications such as Vogue, Vanity Fair, Harper’s Bazaar, W, Esquire, GQ, Whole Foods Magazine, Health News Digest, Live, Riviera, WWD, OC Metro and Burn Magazine. The entrepreneur has also served as the Beauty Editor for both Modern Luxury Magazine and Beverly Hills Lifestyle Magazine. He has made guest appearances on television shows such as the Vicki Johnson Show, Go Curvy, The Real Housewives of Orange County, Workout, Blow Out, and Kathy Irelands Modern Living.
Known for his devotion to the beauty industry, Spinnato takes great delight in developing and putting together cutting-edge products. Also known for being ahead of the curve, Spinnato regularly contributes to International Trends Forecasts for the beauty industry. He often travels the world to keep a watchful eye on what’s hot, and he uses that knowledge to inspire his state-of-the-art beauty innovations.
A popular, entertaining and knowledgeable speaker, Spinnato is at home in front of a wide range of groups including those in the beauty industry to those in the Society of OBGYNs. Due to his keen eye for natural products that address multiple issues, Spinnato has long been an advocate for safe and high performing beauty and personal care products in women’s categories that address such issues as the functionality of transdermal pre- and post-menopause, PMS, sexual dysfunction, breast tenderness and varicose veins.
Spinnato’s management and development teams who work with him at TurnKey Beauty – his R&D lab, and private labelling company – are versatile, tightly-coordinated and uber-talented. Spinnato and his team’s competence, proficiency and experience in both the executive and technical areas offer clients ‘turnkey’ solutions with a detailed handbook that covers everything from a product launch through all the integral parts of the beauty and business arenas including production, distribution, product promotion, labelling, pricing, merchandising, account management and related activities.
A specialist in the creation and management of rapid growth strategies, Spinnato helps to maximize profits for existing manufacturers’ accounts – managing all marketing and sales strategies, operations and personnel. Responsibilities include the development of GMP’s, SOP’s, ISO 9001 procedures, marketing plans, business plans, training manuals, P+L reports, SDS’s and COA’s. A highly effective manager, problem-solver, strategic thinker and motivator, Spinnato thrives working with operating, sales and marketing teams.
In addition to guiding clients through the intricate process of generating their own skincare, body care, haircare, baby products, and/or pet products, Spinnato has launched his own personal product line: Vincenzo Skincare. His products have superior performance to most products available in the marketplace today. The Vincenzo Skincare line features products designed to help treat fine lines, wrinkles and feathering, plus certain types of sun damage with full capability on various skin combinations. Caviar and Diamond Skincare Products, Spinnato’s newest product line, has an amazing effect on the skin serving as an anti-aging ingredient that helps to diminish fine lines, wrinkles and feathering. It also contributes to renewing and regenerating energy to long forgotten dead skin cells.
To capture his colorful and wildly successful career, Spinnato is releasing his memoir entitled “My Pursuit of Beauty – The Glitz, The Glam, and The Batsh*t Crazy”” in January, 2021. Also in 2021, Spinnato is releasing a behind-the-scenes documentary named ‘Skin Deep – Formulating A Legacy’. Both the book and the documentary chronicle Spinnato’s journey of self-discovery in his trek towards becoming a world-famous cosmetic chemist and perfumer.
Spinnato is also involved in philanthropic efforts including:
– Wells of Life, a non-profit organization providing reliable water projects to communities in African nations that suffer from a lack of access to clean water and proper sanitation. A portion of the proceeds from Caviar & Diamonds have been earmarked for this organization.
– Beginning in 2015, wanting to honor his father and grandfather — both musicians – Spinnato established two college scholarships for talented seniors at his former high school in Vineland, N.J.
– And, as someone who suffers with the condition trichotillomania, a lifelong hair-pulling disease, Spinnato is involved with raising awareness for this condition, which is estimated to affect one to four percent of people and usually begins in childhood or adolescence.
A young woman agrees to star in a filmmaker’s latest project, but soon realizes the movie is not what she expected in this chilling debut novel.
In the wake of her father’s death, Betty Roux doesn’t allow herself to mourn. Instead, she pushes away her mother, breaks up with her boyfriend, and leaves everything behind to move to New York City. She doesn’t know what she wants, except to run.
When she’s offered the chance to play the leading role in mysterious indie filmmaker Anthony Marino’s new project, she jumps at the opportunity. For a month Betty will live in a cabin on a private island off the coast of Maine, with a five-person cast and crew. Her mother warns against it, but Betty is too drawn to the charismatic Anthony to say no.
Anthony gives her a new identity–Lola–and Betty tells herself that this is exactly what she’s been looking for. The chance to reinvent herself. That is, until they begin filming and she meets Sammy, the island’s caretaker, and Betty realizes just how little she knows about the movie and its director.
“Shutter” grabbed me with its unique and terrifying storyline! Melissa Larsen invented quite the landscape while adding wonderfully interesting characters. I’m now both in love with Maine and too scared to visit!
As I crept my way to the ending, I grew more terrified! You would think there was a camera watching me, as they watched Betty. I love when I story takes you to it’s location! But, a story that makes the hair on your arm stand up, even better! “Shutter” does both!
Thank you Melissa Larsen for imagining this story, I was reading it under the blankets! For a debut author, you’ve entered the thriller world with a vengeance!
I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review.
Q: What first sparked your interest in writing “Shutter”?
The spark was a sudden, clear vision of Betty, covered in blood, asking me for help. I had just finished a novel I had started writing in college that (fun fact!) had Anthony as the narrator and Betty (named Lola) as his love interest. This unfinished novel had haunted me for about four years, so it was an incredible feeling to reach the end of that manuscript—for about five minutes. Then it dawned on me that this story, with its lack of plot, internal logic, and conflict, was written purely for me. I knew I would never show it to anyone else (and that’s for the best). After a somewhat intense panic attack, I took another look at the manuscript. I lifted what I liked from it—Anthony and Lola—and decided I would write Lola’s story. And that’s when I saw her, covered in blood, asking for help. For the next nine months, I wrote toward that image. I have that hidden novel and the resulting panic attack to thank for SHUTTER!
Q: Is there any truth to your story that is personal to you?
This is a tricky question, because I believe both that every single aspect of the book is personal to me and simultaneously that none of it is. I am everywhere in there because I wrote it, but the story took on its own life. I am everyone and no one!
That being said, I have actually stayed in a small cabin on an island off the coast of Maine (my eternal gratitude to the Norton Island Writers Residency!), only my cabin didn’t have plumbing or a hot actor as a roommate. I have likewise keenly felt Betty’s desire to escape, to run away from life and start over, and I have shared some of her heartaches and self-doubts.
Q: Do you have a favorite character? Why?
Is it a total cop out to say that they’re all my favorite? I’ve spent enough time with them that they really do feel like old friends. If I had to pick two, though, and my heart breaks already, I’m sorry to every character I don’t name here, I would say Betty, of course, because she and I essentially grew up together, and Mads, because he was the most fun to write. He is a himbo. If only Brendan Fraser was still in his twenties somehow and could play him in the movie.
Q:How long did it take you to write “Shutter”?
It took about nine months to write the first draft (like carrying a baby to term!) and then around two years of working on it first with my agent and then with my editor.
Q: As you gearing up for your Book to be released, what was the most exciting part(s) for you?
Seeing the actual, real, physical copy of the book has been wild. The reality of it as an object, a beautifully bound book, still hasn’t sunk in, even a week after seeing it for the first time. Holding it has the same mental effect on me as staring at the ocean—my mind clears, my breathing slows, the world feels beautiful again.
But the most exciting part is knowing that complete strangers are reading it! I’m used to knowing the readers (which is also an incredible experience, don’t get me wrong!). This morning, though, I saw a post on Instagram from a reader who is more than halfway through the book and wants to skip work to finish it. Again, like staring at the ocean.
Q: With this being your first novel, do you think you will always explore psychological thrillers?
I love psychological thrillers. I always need more of them in my life (please send any and all recommendations my way!). For the foreseeable future, I will most likely be writing in that sphere, but I’m really excited to explore other genres, too. There’s a lot more coming J
Q: May I ask who your favorite authors are?
These are the authors whose work I will always read, no matter what, and whose work I will immediately reread, no matter what: Daphne du Maurier, Stephen King, Tana French, Marisha Pessl, Laura van den Berg, Jon Klassen, Ron Currie Jr, C Pam Zhang, Jenny Offill, V.E. Schwab, Lara Vapnyar, Tommy Orange, Elena Ferrante, Kiese Laymon…
Q: What is your favorite part of becoming a published author?
My absolute favorite: the privilege of having my book read.
But honestly, a close second: the editorial process. To discuss, very seriously, the motivations and actions of characters that I had been privately fantasizing about on phone calls with my editor and my agent was truly a highlight. It’s a mind-blowing experience, every single time, when someone talks about my characters as though they are real people.
Losing control of my book! For the past few years, this bookhad belonged only to me. It was just me, alone, at my computer, working at the story. I’m basically the booster rockets of this ship. I got us off the ground and in motion, but as soon as the book went into production, my job was basically done. This book is everything to me, but (I hope) it belongs now entirely to its readers. This is something that both fascinates and terrifies me—this book is mine and not mine.
Q: Your cover is Epic!! Like art!! Is is hanging in your home or office? I hope it is.
Thank you so much! I totally agree—I am obsessed with this cover. I really should have a framed print of it, but instead I have about ten printed copies of it floating around my room, one featured very prominently on my desk, and the others all hidden away so that if I’m digging through a stack of books or papers, it surprises me. OH! I also put it on t-shirts! It makes for a very striking, very perfect shirt. I (and my sweet, supportive family!) wear it everywhere.
Q: Do you have another book on the horizon?
Yes! For now, though, it’s still just me, alone, working at it on my computer.
Lastly, Do you prefer Print Book or eBook?
Both! Print ultimately wins, because I prefer the experience of handling the physical book—each one has its own personality!—but I appreciate the accessibility and flexibility of eBooks. Once I learned that I could borrow and download eBooks from my local library, my life changed! I have a very well-loved Kindle, and I have read many books on my laptop, too. I still haven’t quite gotten the hang of reading on my phone (I don’t like how the text formatting looks on such a small screen!), but I’m sure I’ll get there eventually.
Thank you so much for this interview. I am so excited and honored.
Annie: Thank you, Melissa! You have a huge fan in me!!l lll
Passion, ambition and escape in the colorful artistic underworld off-Broadway, Cammie, a dancer in her mid-thirties, has just landed her first part in a show since coming to New York City. Yet the tug of familial obligation and the guilt of what she sacrificed to be there weigh down her dancing feet. Her lover, Tom, an older piano player, came to the city as a young man in the 1980s with a story eerily in tune with Cammie’s own. Through their triumphs and failures, both learn the fleeting nature of glory, the sweetness of new love, and how a dream come true isn’t cherished until it passes. The bright lights of the stage intoxicate, while degradation and despair lurk close behind the curtain. Their sagas are marred by two pandemics, AIDS in the 1980s and COVID-19 today, which ravaged the performing arts community, leaving a permanent scar on those who lived through them. The poignant intersection of their stories reveals a love affair unbound by time, reaching across decades through the notes of a piano’s remembered song.
With bright and smoothly written ambience, Gregory Erich Phillips took me back to a time that still resonates deeply in my soul. Only “Season in Lights” brought me invigoratingly closer to a life I always wonder about.
This is a book to be savored.
Leaning in personally and stirring my heart from one beat to the next, I was mesmerized.
I was falling in love. It was a state of all-inclusive love by the end, without exception.
This novel felt alive.
Close your eyes (after each chapter)
And feel the pulse.
Frantically flipping from page to page feeling like I was an exuberant eavesdropper.
Close your eyes at the end.
And feel that last pulse!!
Gregory is a force with the written word, a force with his knowledge of the arts and surely a gift to all of us who love these crafts!! I feel Gregory loving my city.
As I wait for theaters to open in NYC, “A Season in Lights” gave me a reprieve from the heartache of it being closed!
I was utterly beguiled with Gregory’s story. As he opened the curtain to his story he had my full attention. As a New Yorker, I say Bravo!
I’d certainly offer “A Season in Lights” a standing ovation.
I’ll read this again. It’s a book I’ll keep on my nightstand.
Award-winning author Gregory Erich Phillips writes stories with strong characters whose lives, with their many challenges and joys, resonate with a wide audience. Raised in a literary family, Gregory began writing at the age of fourteen.
His debut novel, Love of Finished Years, won the the grand prize in the Chanticleer Reviews International Writing Competition and was an Amazon bestseller in historical fiction. It was praised by Publishers Weekly, which called it “beguiling.” His second novel, The Exile, won first place in mainstream fiction in the PNWA literary contest.
Also an accomplished tango dancer and musician, Gregory has impressed audiences from the West Coast to New York City with his drama and grace on the dance floor (visit Moonlight Tango to see him in action).
My darling girl, I watch you playing outside in the grass. Your long blonde hair sweeps back and your blue eyes are bright with joy. You are utterly perfect, I never imagined something could be so wrong and I’d be powerless to protect you…
Ava’s daughter Carly is everything a ten-year-old should be: energetic, creative and the light of her parents’ lives. But when she starts stumbling down stairs and walking into doors, Ava wants to rush to the doctor. Her husband Rick is sure she’s fretting over nothing – kids can be a little clumsy sometimes. But Ava’s instinct is telling her something is seriously wrong.
Against Rick’s advice, Ava takes Carly to see a specialist and is given a devastating diagnosis: a rare genetic condition that will change her future forever. When Rick realises the truth, he is determined to do all he can to help Carly enjoy what light she has left. The close-knit family take it one day at a time, walking to the beach and watching the sunrise.
Just as Ava begins to imagine a new future for them all, a tragic accident throws their lives into chaos once more. To give her daughter a chance at a full life, Ava faces a devastating choice. How can she possibly choose between the two people she loves most?
An emotional, heartbreaking page-turner about a mother’s love and an utterly devastating decision. Readers of Kate Hewitt, My Sister’s Keeper and Diane Chamberlain will keep this story in their hearts forever.
FOLLOW ALISON’S BOOK TOUR:
Alison Ragsdale is going to give Jodi Picoult a run for the money with these books that dig so deep into the real grit of life, and leave you weeping, tugging at your heartstrings and parts of your soul you didn’t realize you had!
Her novels are always smart family stories with complex drama that you can tell is extensively researched! This story knocked it out of the park for me.
“Her Last Chance” had me begging to comfort the characters from their razor-sharp anguish that had me crying out.
I even paused to wonder if it was me that needed comforting.
Don’t get me wrong, this story isn’t all sadness. But, those were the parts that compelled me to keep reading. I needed relief, if there was any!
To elevate our deeply-seated emotions to this level takes sheer talent. I imagine the profound suffering Alison Ragsdale’s pen must sense after some scenes are written, let alone Alison herself. I thank her for this gift.
Alison always gets it right! Her storytelling is superb! Gold-Star!
I dare anyone to read this and not be fully absorbed! Invested! Mind, Body & Soul!
A former marketing executive, originally from Edinburgh, Alison now lives near Washington D.C. with her husband and dog. She was educated in England and holds an MBA from Leicester University.