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Friday, November 13, 2015

Second Helpings at the Serve You Right Cafe By: TiaIlia Klebenov Jacobs {Book Review, Author Interview, & Giveaway}


Women's Fiction
Publication.Date  April 8th 2015
Published By:  Linden Tree Press
AuthorTilia Klebenov Jacobs

Second Helpings at the Sever You Right Cafe Goodreads
My review copy:From the author in exchange for an honest review

Where to get: 

What if the world didn’t want you to go straight? Out on parole after almost ten years in prison, Emet First is repairing his shattered life. He has friends, a job, and his first date in a decade. The young woman, Mercedes Finch, is lovely but wounded. When her deranged brother learns about Emet’s past, he will stop at nothing to destroy him—and suddenly Emet has everything to lose

Very short, but far from trivial, "Second Helpings at the Serve You Right Café" is a novella that weaves together the lives of a few different people.
 Emet is an ex-con that begins to work in the café as a baker. He sticks to himself and keeps his head down. He's just trying to live his life without any problems. Then Mercedes walks in and Emet can't help but to like her and her sweet personality. She likes him too. They soon get together but Mercedes ex-con brother thinks he can benefit from giving the two problems. Mercedes know her brother is a loser but can't seem to cut ties.

I read this book in one sitting. Granted it isn't a super long book but long enough at over 200 pages that I could have stopped in between. I found myself wanting to finish so I didn't have to wait to see what would happen to Mercedes and Emet. The author's writing makes it hard for a reader to take a break without immediately wondering what happens next.

The café is so vividly detailed by the author, I wished I could go to the Serve You Right Café and order a coffee and Danish. Every aspect of this quaint café was appealing to me. The people that visit, the workers and the relaxed style are just a few of the details that the author highlights.

This is my first read by this author,  but I can assure you, it won't be my last.

Author Interview:

What inspired you to write your first book?

Would you believe, an old Burt Lancaster movie?
The Flame and the Arrow (1950) is one of my all-time favorite films. It's a Robin Hood-esque romp that involves Burt Lancaster's outlaw Dardo kidnapping the ever-imperiled Virginia Mayo for hostage negotiation purposes. The film is very light-hearted, but I found myself wondering what it would be like if such a thing happened in real life...and the kidnap victim were married, and had a couple of kids...and maybe (spoiler alert!) *didn't* fall in love with the outlaw in the end. Once the idea had hold of me it wouldn't quit. I finally let it out, and, several years and endless rewrites later, Wrong Place, Wrong Time was born. 

Do you have a specific writing style?

That's a good question. I'm always trying to improve, so in that sense my style is (I hope) always evolving. In a lot of ways I think my current novel, Second Helpings at the Serve You Right Café, sounds nothing like Wrong Place, Wrong Time, which was my firstborn. (This is a nice way of saying I think it's better, but I didn't want to say that aloud and hurt the earlier novel's feelings.) Also, I think there's a real difference in my voice depending on whether I'm writing fiction or nonfiction, short stories or a novel. Often the style of my short fiction really startles me. I wonder who this person is who talks like that. On the other hand, many people have told me that they really hear my voice when they read my writing, so I guess something consistent comes through.

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

Both my novels are ultimately about redemption. 
Redemption may not always be possible in real life, but that's one of the reasons we write and crave fiction. I have very little patience with works that hold out no hope of redemption, and I certainly make sure my characters get a stab at it, even by sometimes circuitous means.

What books have most influenced your life most?


Joseph Campbell's Hero with a Thousand Faces is a classic, the key to understanding mythology and, by extension, fantasy. If you're unfamiliar with his work, it's a world-changer.

Chris Baty's No Plot? No Problem! was my guide as I wrote that first pell-mell draft of Wrong Place, Wrong Time for National Novel-Writing Month in 2009. I know writing a deeply flawed first draft in thirty days isn't for everyone, but it forced me to get my ideas down on paper; and for this I am forever grateful.

A fairly endless procession of cheap romances and Westerns which inspired me with their mediocrity by leading me to say, "Huh. I can do better than THAT."

The Bible. I have two degrees in theology, so I've spent more time with the Bible than any other book or set of books.

What book are you reading now?

I just finished Dorothy Sayers' delightful mystery Strong Poison, and I am absolutely appalled that it has taken me this long to discover this author. I mean, what was I doing till now? Just loafing, I expect. The book was really delightful: complex plot, engaging characters, witty dialogue. She also covered a lot of sociological ground: religious experiences, sex with and without wedlock, charlatan mediums running fake much to enjoy.

I am currently reading I Am Not Spock, by Leonard Nimoy, about the actor's relationship with the Vulcan character he portrayed for so many decades. And I'm reading The True Meaning of Smekday to my kids; it's a middle-grade science fiction book that was the basis for the recent movie Home. 

I just went down to peek at the coffee table to see if I'd missed anything. It was hard to say, since the coffee table is barely visible under enticing piles of TBR books. My ten-year-old daughter and I agreed there's no way to list everything one is reading at any given moment, so these three will have to suffice for my current top choices.

Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?

At the moment I would have to say that finding enough time is my main challenge. Earlier today I blocked out several hours to work at my local coffee shop, but was distracted by a raucous band of twelve-year-old girls shrieking at a nearby table. For an hour. One of them had a laugh that put me in mind of a rooster with its foot stuck in an electrical outlet. Unfortunately, she found a lot of things funny. The evil corporate overlords had forbidden the manager from shushing them, but she felt so sorry for me that she plied me with free pastries. So I may not have gotten much writing done today, but we are having brownies for dinner. (With dinner! Of course I meant with, not for....)

Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?

Here's the thing: I really don't have favorites. This is really a pain when, for example, the security question for a website is, "What is your favorite X?" Chances are extremely good I don't have one. So with your indulgence, I will present a brief list of writers who are never outside my personal top ten. I expect you will notice what they all have in common.

P.G. Wodehouse, because he is funny perfection. No one has ever engaged the English language in as sprightly a dance as he.

Robert B. Parker, who unknowingly went a long way toward teaching me how to write a thriller. His humor, his banter, and his insistence on the moral high ground are inspiring.

J.K. Rowling. Like Wodehouse she is outrageously funny, though in a very different way; and there is a lightness to her prose that never fails to draw me in. What is most impressive to me, however, is the intricacy of her plots. If you read Chapter One of the first Harry Potter book and write down the names of all the characters who either appear or are mentioned, you will find that every one of them later has a crucial role to play in the seven-book story arc. I defy anyone to match that level of craft.

Jen Lancaster, who wrote Bright Lights, Big Ass and a number of other, mostly non-fiction books. She's smart and funny and generally plotless, but the ride is so much fun that I don't really care where we end up.

 This or that questions:

Chocolate or Vanilla?
Chocolate. Always chocolate. Dark.

Netflix or Hula?

Going out or staying in?
Tough call! I need a little of both, but for sure I stay in more than I go out.

Winter or Summer?
Probably summer, though both have their charms.

Mystery or romance?

Happily, they're not mutually exclusive. But if I had to pick, I'd say mystery.

Kindle or paperback?
Paperback. But I do own and use a Kindle.

Loud music or soft music?
 Soft. Always.

Finally, what five books enter your mind when asked your favorites?
Argh! Did I mention I don't have favorites?

Knight's Castle, by Edward Eager.
Anything by P.G. Wodehouse.
Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling.
Pilgrim at Tinker Creek by Annie Dillard.

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