Get into Bed with Isobel Rey (Author Interview)

substitute

She’s driven by his desire…
It took all of Alexia’s courage to leave her abusive boyfriend and strike out on her own. When she lands a job at a glamorous sports agency, she thinks she finally has it made. But shy, blonde and beautiful, Alexia is totally unprepared for the fast sexual politics of rich men and ambitious women that is waiting for her. Most of all, she is totally unprepared for her dazzling but damaged new boss, Nathan Fallon.

Keira: It takes a lot of strength to walk away from domestic abuse. How does Alexia, in your book Substitute, gain her courage to do just that?

Isobel Rey: The kind of bullying that Alexia experiences is not obvious and overt, it’s the kind of drip, drip low grade bullying that builds gradually and erodes a woman’s confidence.  It’s insidious and creeps on her.    She gets the courage to leave when she realises how far she’s fallen, how he’s got into her head and under her skin to undermine her.    She looks at the closed door,  determined to sear the image in her mind to reinforce her decision to leave.    The decision to leave in these circumstances is often made after a small incident, it’s not the incident itself which prompts the action, but the cumulative effect of the bullying.   Something snaps in her head, and she knows she has to go.

Keira: Glamorous and sports? Isn’t that an oxymoron? Unless we’re talking about figure skating… are we?

Isobel: Well actually, having been around the world of sports promotion I can say that it is most definitely a glamorous world.   The world of Premiere League Soccer sees players who are paid millions, drive eye-wateringly expensive cars and sign multi-million pound sponsorship deals.    The world of tennis, Formula One racing, Soccer and now even Golf attract huge money, with the accompanying glamorous women and money hungry agents.  It’s a high octane world of partying, champagne and bed-hopping.

Keira: So what’s office politics like in Substitute and does it differ from normal life?

Isobel: The office politics in Substitute is typical of the type of business that attracts big money in any capital city in the world.   Any workplace where the stakes are high and naked ambition rubs up against huge egos is going to look like this.   I’ve worked in these workplaces!

Keira: Tell us about Nathan Fallon, her new boss? How is he damaged?

Isobel: Nathan is a soldier, an officer.   So many veterans suffer quietly with Post Dramatic Stress Syndrome because they don’t talk about their experiences.     In order to operate in the theatre of war, like Iraq or Afghanistan, they have to put some of their emotions away in a box in order to survive some of the horrors they see or the violence they are forced to commit to survive.     Nothing can prepare you for killing other human beings, not even in battle. They also suffer from a condition called Hyper-Vigilance, having been in threatening situations for 24 hours a day.     They then come home and find it difficult to reconnect with loved ones or new relationships.   Some cope better than others.  But Nathan has been rejected by the woman he thought would be there for him.    The thought of her kept him going during the fighting, but he feels a deep sense of betrayal when he comes home.  He’s an officer and a gentleman and has a huge sense of honour, loyalty and integrity.    He finds it very difficult to let that go.

Keira: Did your advertising experience help in the writing or publishing of this novel?

Isobel: Yes it did.    The world of advertising brings you into contact with all types of industries, including sports promotion.    I witnessed this world first hand, and let me tell you it’s no exaggeration!

Keira: How do you define love?

Isobel: Love is about complete trust and acceptance.    If you find the right person, they will be the best company in the world, and the one person you want to talk to first thing in the morning and the last thing at night.   They allow you to fly like a kite,   but they anchor you, so you don’t get blown off course.

Keira: What makes a great Happily Ever After? What’s required?

Isobel: A great happily ever after has to be realistic.   There’s no guarantee that the prince will love the princess in 5 years when the kids are screaming and the nannies have handed in their notice.    But if the two people involved are grounded enough to understand each other and want to accept everything about the other person then that happy ending is believable.

Keira: Any advice you’d give your younger self now that your first book is published?

Isobel: The personal advice I would give myself is never worry what other people think of you, the only people that count will accept you as you are.    And I’d give myself some professional advice as a writer – spend more time observing people and what makes them tick.

Keira: What are your favorite writing rituals that help put you in the writing mood?

Isobel: I like to take the weekend off and go to the coast, and sit in cafes by the beach with my laptop and headphones.   Listening to great music by the ocean really lets me switch off and get writing.

Keira: What’s up for you next?

Isobel: This is my first book in this genre, and I was encouraged to write it because of the types of world I get a window into from my job.    The book has been so well received that I think the next book will focus on a different world.      Haven’t decided which one yet!

Buy: Substitute

Review: Catching Fireflies (Sweet Magnolias, Book 9) by Sherryl Woods

Reviewed by Karin of Savvy Thinker

I’m sorry it took so long to read this book, but it was well worth the wait.

Catching Fireflies was given to me with two other books in the series by LRP to read and review.  First, I can’t recommend it enough if you are the least bit interested in the subject of bullying.  If I had had my choice, I would have read this book last, but it came out in August, so I needed to read it first.

And as so often happens, what we read in books dovetails with RL.

Sweet Magnolias is a wonderful series.  I forget how wonderful when I let too much time lapse between books.  Then I need to play a bit of catch up.  I seriously do not remember the love stories of the other books.  I almost need a little cheat sheet.  Each book stands alone, with a little bit of information bringing you up to speed.

Meantime, back to the book:  the school has zero tolerance, but no one will talk about what is happening.  Misty has been cutting two of her classes, even though she is a good student.  Annabelle has been targeting her and is getting more vicious.  It started because Greg, popular and on the football team, who is supposed to be Annabelle’s boyfriend, has been after Misty, who has no interest in him.

Laura Reed, one of the teachers whose class Misty is cutting, knows something is wrong, but can’t get to the bottom of it.

Then Misty goes to see her pediatrician, J.C. Fullerton, to ask for a medical pass, which he will not give her since she is not sick.  But he immediately knows something is seriously wrong and gives her 24 hours to talk to another adult and have the adult check back with him so he knows she has done it.  If she doesn’t, he will talk to her parents.

The adult she chooses is Laura Reed, but she doesn’t tell her what is happening.  Laura and J.C. together will need to figure it out.  And both have their reasons for wanting to eradicate bullying.  Misty’s friend Katie has been sworn to secrecy.  How can she help unless she finds a way.

I was afraid Misty might try to commit suicide (she doesn’t) (thankfully.)  The problem is acerbated by the fact that Misty’s parents are in the middle of divorcing and Misty’s mother isn’t handling it well.  She can hardly function.  Misty is trying to protect her, as well as protect her from knowing anything about what is happening.

Meantime Laura and J.C. are falling in love.  Both have had some rough spots that make the love story all the sweeter.  There is humor and sex off the page, if that makes sense.  Very well done.

The book is a great primer, without being didactic, on the problem of bullying.  Along the way, you can see how vicious it might become, how to join forces to protect the one being bullied, how to get the adults involved.

It is absolutely important that if bullying is going on, everyone circle the wagons.  It takes a village.  We think of it more as school drama, but adult bullying sometimes happens in RL.  We see this in the book as an ongoing incident when Annabelle’s mother refuses to believe, at first, that her daughter is involved.  And she has acted as a bully before.

Have you ever been bullied?

My Chinese daughters were teased about the third grade in a school with zero tolerance for bullying.  At the time I didn’t understand how their teasing was different than what I was teased with as I grew up, but mine had no racial overtones.  It bordered on bullying.  The school took it very seriously when they found out about it, and I was afraid of backlash, which never happened.

When my oldest daughter was going into middle school, there was an article on stopping bullying which I wanted to pass on to the school.  At that time they weren’t interested and said it just happens.  I said, considering the incidents of violence at schools, there was no excuse, and I dropped the article off anyway.  Who knows what they did with it. 

Now there is zero tolerance there also. One example given in it was that a popular girl started an anti-bullying campaign (it would only work with a popular girl/boy) and had business cards made up for all who would be a part of it.

There were times in my life when I became aware of an adult acting as a bully, and at the same time of another adult who was protective.  Judging from outward appearances, one would never have expected the second person to be the protector. But it was touching to see how natural it was for that person — and how the two incidents were happening during the same time frame, unknown to each other.  It seemed like God’s grace to the person being bullied, and so the individual felt safer.

In this regard, the book is very true to life and offers ideas in a gentle way, in the guise of fiction.

Have you read this book or any others of hers?

I can’t wait to get into the next two books — immediately, if not sooner.  Stay tuned for the next review.

Karin

Rating: ★★★★★

Buy: Catching Fireflies (The Sweet Magnolias)

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Movie Review: Boys Over Flowers starring Hye-sun Koo, Min-ho Lee, and Hyun-joong Kim

What You Need to Know: Boys Over Flowers is a Korean TV romantic drama. It runs for two seasons with a total of 25 episodes. The series is based on a Manga series of the same title which I have not read. There’s been other adaptations of the Manga besides this one with differences.

Recommended: If you like/love/drool over Twilight; if you adore foreign films, especially Asian ones, and can read with ease lots of subtitles or know Korean; if you’re a girl lol—:D; if you like love triangles or if you like YA romances… any one of these and you should see this show; more than 3 of these and you’d be a fool not to see it!

Plot: The story takes place at an elite boarding school where only the top 1% of Korea’s wealthy children attend (and even then some of them can’t get into the school.) Geum JanDi saves a bullied male student from committing suicide while running clothes from her father’s dry cleaning business to the school. Journalists and the public voice are having a field day with it until the school’s president decides to offer a scholarship spot to the girl. From there JanDi runs into the F4, a group of popular boys that run the school, and immediately gets on Goo JoonPyo’s bad side. What follows is a wonderfully complex soap opera full of awesome.

The Love Triangle: (Lots of Twilight references ahead…just because it’s a common base for most to jump from…) It’s so hard to choose because they’re both like Edward Cullen more than Jacob Black.

One of the guys – Goo JoonPyo even has his own crazy hot wild hairdo. It’s curly! It’s adorable. I love it. He’s the possessive one and is basically all of Edward Cullen’s darker qualities, but with a tender streak too. Min-ho Lee who plays Goo JoonPyo has a very expressive face and a really hot body. Yum!

The other guy – Yoon JiHoo is all of Edward’s sensitive artistic aspects combined with his aloofness. Hyun-joong Kim who plays JiHoo is also very hot. I want to go to Korea and date these two boys (seriously! Wow!) JiHoo dislikes all the stupid drama at his school and often rushes to Geum JanDi’s rescue.

The girl – Geum JanDi is a very warm character. She likes to eat, stand up to bullies, and like Bella Swan prefers to stand on her own two feet and not accept monetary bribes or help from the guys. JanDi is played by Hye-sun Koo and the girl is adorable with big eyes. I love how she walks a bike back and forth when she’s not pedaling it – cute!

Final Thoughts: This show has it all – boarding school, school wide bullying/hazing, love triangle, side romances, drowning 3 times? 4 times? something like that, 2 physical disabling incidents, amnesia, lots of fainting and passing out immediately into dead sleeps, faked accidents, fake hospital stays, vacations, backstabbing, revenge, kidnapping, innocents getting setup, getting caught in a blizzard, three proposals, an arranged/forced marriage, estranged family getting reunited, and the kitchen sink in there somewhere too!

Rating: ★★★★★ – Don’t walk, run! Get a copy!

As of December 13, 2011 this is on Netflix (streaming).

Buy: Boys Over Flowers (Season 1), Boys Over Flowers (Season 2)

Buy: Season 1:

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Buy: Season 2:

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Buy: Geum JanDi’s Moon and Star Necklace

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Review: Prom and Prejudice by Elizabeth Eulberg

Genre: YA Romance

Summary: If Pride and Prejudice took place in high school you can bet your Mr. Collinses that it’d be about prom and of course set in a prestigious all girl boarding school (Longbourn Academy) where the Caroline Bingleys were far more concerned about their Prada and arm candy than anything else.

In this version of the story Elizabeth is an only child, but her best friend Jane has a little sister in the form of Lydia. At school Elizabeth seeks out music as her way to hide from the horrible tormenting and bullying going on by her wealthier classmates (Lizzy’s a scholarship kid) and the icing on the cake is that rude boy, Darcy, from Pemberley (the all boy boarding school nearby) who’s determined to put her in her place every time they get in the same room.

Blinded by a misinterpretation of an eavesdropped conversation between Darcy and Bingley, Elizabeth see that the boy is desperate to ask her to be his date to prom and have his suit accepted!!!

Review: For a light P&P variation you can’t miss Prom and Prejudice. It’s freaking adorable! Easy to read and devour. It follows the idea of P&P without getting stuck in the plot line. The scenes read new and fresh. Trust me, you’re going to love it if you like your Austen (Clueless) or Shakespeare (10 Things I Hate About You) high schooled.

Rating: ★★★★★

Buy: Prom and Prejudice, Prom and Prejudice (UK)

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