Tag Archives: Laurie Lisa

The Light Tower by Laurie Lisa Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

A young woman must take a journey to discover not only herself but the mother she never knew after she was born under tragic circumstances in author Laurie Lisa’s mystery novel, “The Light Tower”. 

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The Synopsis

In this dramatic mystery, a daughter returns to Chicago to find the truth about a mother she never knew–and her tragic death. Will her journey bring answers or more questions?

Thirty years ago in Chicago, a troubled, full-term pregnant woman escapes from the maternity ward of a hospital and climbs to the top of a 100-foot light tower in an abandoned railway yard. Melody Arnold is convinced that her baby is dead, and neither reassurances from her doctor nor the fact that she is a nurse can convince her otherwise. She jumps. Melody doesn’t survive, but miraculously, when the paramedics arrive, a tiny foot protrudes from the woman’s stomach, twitching.

Now, Kat Flowers is living in Arizona and celebrating her thirtieth birthday. Stuck in a rut of dead-end jobs and a failed relationship, she receives a cryptic birthday card from a father she ran away from fourteen years ago. Desperate for answers, Kat takes a journey back to Illinois—to see a family she left behind and learn the truth about a mother she never knew.

Kat shares the journey with the charismatic Zen, who has his own reasons for returning home. There, Kat tries to solve the complicated mystery of her mother’s identity . . . and then understand why she made that tragic leap.

A compelling novel about a mother’s dark secrets, The Light Tower explores the lasting connection between a mother and her daughter, even when they never knew each other. This story about one family’s hidden past is a riveting must-read for your book club.

The Review

This was a truly powerful, emotionally-driven narrative. Author Laurie Lisa once again shines through with this incredibly tragic yet real and loving story of a mother and her daughter, whose lives were tragically torn apart one fateful day. As Kat works to solve the mystery of why her mother Melody met such a tragic fate, readers are given a glimpse into some powerful storytelling that touches on the struggles so many faces in our world today.

From mental health and addiction to family and love, the author does a brilliant job of bringing these themes to life within the core story. The best and most engaging aspect of this novel however is the characters, as their arcs and the slow unraveling of the mystery surrounding this horrific event are heightened by the growth they undergo as time goes on. The anger and pain Kat feels at her mother’s fate and Melody’s despair and helplessness as time goes on are all traits so many people can identify with, and allows the reader to feel these emotions as the story progresses. 

The Verdict

A moving, evenly-paced, and emotionally-driven narrative, author Laurie Lisa’s “The Light Tower” is a must-read mystery and drama read of 2021. The depth of character development the author presents and the heartfelt emotions that are poured into the themes of this narrative are truly engaging on every level. If you haven’t yet, preorder or grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Laurie was born and raised in Southern Illinois. She obtained her B.S. in English Education from the University of Illinois (Champaign), where she also met and then married her husband Steve Lisa. Laurie earned both an M.A. and a Ph.D. in English from Arizona State University (20th Century American Literature), where she also taught literature and composition. After her time spent in Academia and raising her three children (Anthony, Michelle, and Caitlin), Laurie returned to her passion for writing fiction.

Laurie is a prolific writer and has completed eight novels in the genre of literary women’s fiction. Each of her books follows its own distinct and sophisticated plot with well-developed characters. In addition to her novels, Laurie has published two academic books, several short stories and poems, and edited other’s works. Laurie resides with her husband, Steve, in Paradise Valley and Flagstaff, Arizona.

You can read more about Laurie and her novels at her website, LaurieLisa.com

Interview with Author Laurie Lisa

1) Tell us a little bit about yourself. 

I was born in Shelbyville, Illinois, and raised in Assumption and Percy, Illinois. So, you can say I grew up in rural towns in Southern Illinois, where coal mining and farming predominate.  

My twin sister, Lisa, and I went to the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana.  At the beginning of my sophomore year, my sister introduced me to Steve Lisa at a fraternity after-hours party, and three years later, he and I got married when we graduated in 1981.  So, I had grown up being mistakenly called “Lisa” because of my identical twin, and to this day, people still can’t figure out that “Lisa” is my last name.  People still call me Lisa! 

I obtained my B.S. in English Education from Illinois.  Steve and I headed off to Arizona State University, where he entered law school and I started my master’s program.  I earned both an M.A. and a Ph.D. in English (20th-century American literature) from ASU.  We then moved back to Chicago where Steve started his law career and our children were born.  I taught literature and composition at ASU and the University of Illinois (Circle).  

Steve and I live in Paradise Valley and Flagstaff, Arizona.  We usually spend our summers in Flagstaff and the rest of the year in Phoenix.  We also love traveling, especially to Italy (we have dual citizenship).

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2) How did you get into writing?

It’s always been the one thing I really wanted to do. I remember when I was 12-13 years old and cleared some room for a small desk in the laundry room of our house in Percy, Illinois.  My wonderfully supportive Dad, Joe, let me use his old Royal typewriter in my little make-shift office.  I remember this because one key–I think it was the “j”–would stick.  I decided that summer that I would write some short stories.  One of the stories was about going to camp, and I recall part of it included a girl who got poison ivy.  I had this whole story typed up and I was so proud of it.  My Mom (Patricia) and Dad showed all their friends because they thought it was pretty good writing.  At that point, I knew what I wanted to be. By the way, my fondness for the old typewriter is reflected on my website and social sites.

I continued after that to write short stories and poetry. In high school, my twin sister Lisa and I were co-editors of our senior yearbook.  I came up with the idea that Lisa and I would write a poem for each month of the school year.  Lisa wrote a few, but I wrote most of them.  When we graduated from high school, Mom and Dad gave us a brand new Corona typewriter as a present, and I have always been fond of that. During my high school and college days, I focused mostly on short stories and poetry. 

I have always wanted to obtain a Ph.D. in literature. I studied all forms of writing, but focused in grad school on 20th Century Literature. I knew that I wanted to write novels, but with three small children, it was hard to devote the time to a single work.  I published some academic books, short stories, and poems, and also edited others’ works.  Finally, after much time spent in Academia and raising our children, I returned to my passion for writing fiction. I write in the genre of contemporary upmarket women’s fiction and typically complete one novel each year. 

3) What inspired you to write The Wine Club and Across the Street?

I try to do something different with each book. All of my novels are very different in terms of plot, writing technique, and characters. I really do not care for “recipe” or “formula” writing. That said, I strive for each book to be literary in writing technique, but entertaining — with vivid scene and character description.    

For The Wine Club, I got it into my head that I wanted to write a story about some kind of con.  Steve and I had recently rewatched The Sting, the classic movie with Robert Redford and Paul Newman, and that might have planted a seed.  I also decided that the con should be carried out by women protagonists.  It seemed to me that women, unless they were professional grifters, would only pull a con if they were very desperate for money. Then I came across an episode of American Greed about a wine store somewhere in California that sold wine that it didn’t actually have. All these pieces, women + wine + desperation + con, resulted in The Wine Club.

For Across the Street, as I said above, I am an identical twin. My sister Lisa and I were extremely close for as long as I can remember.  We did everything together, and there was nothing one would not for the other.  Across the Street was my earliest novel, and at the time, I lived in Arizona and Lisa lived in Illinois. I decided to create a fictional story that tested the boundaries of love and devotion between twins. The idea came to me that one twin would move across the street from the other and ask her to be a surrogate for her baby.  That was the basis for Across the Street. Thankfully, Lisa and I never had to test those boundaries, but it was fun to write a fictional story that did.

4) What theme or message do you hope readers will take away from your book?

The Wine Club and Across the Street are not remotely similar.  The women in The Wine Club are desperate suburban housewives that break bad with a wine club con, filling expensive bottles with cheap wine. As the con works and the money flows, their greed takes over.  Each of them makes increasingly bad–indeed horrible–choices. They are definitely not likable characters.  

In contrast, Across the Street is an emotionally gripping story. I wanted my readers to like the characters as they battle through the personal and family conflicts that result from one twin agreeing to serve as a surrogate for the other.  For the husbands and teenage children, each with their own problems, the complications are significant. I have been told that even men who read the book have shed a tear or two.  I won’t spoil either novel with anything more.

5) What drew you into this particular genre?

That is not an easy question. First, you can read a lot of articles and not everyone agrees on the definitions of the genres. Second, throughout my time in Academia, I studied all forms of writing and most of the “masters” and established writers. I found myself somewhat aligned with literary fiction and similar commercial fiction. Third, I really don’t believe I fit into any one particular genre, and I am not sure I want to be pigeon-holed into one. 

Each of my books is character-driven, complex, and very different in plot.  I don’t write series, and I don’t write in one category (e.g., romance, beach, crime, friendship, etc.). My goal is to write literary fiction that is entertaining, has characters that the reader will relate to, is realistic with great dialogue, and includes some suspense and humor (often dark). My books tend to be on the long side; so if a reader is looking for a short, quick read that is plot-driven, they won’t necessarily like my books. While my books were written to appeal primarily to women, a lot of men have read them and left me great compliments, which means a lot to me. 

In the end, if I had to pick a genre, it would be somewhere between literary fiction and women’s upmarket fiction. My target audience is the upmarket women’s book club.  

5) If you could sit down with any character in your book, what would you ask them, and why?

Well, to begin with, all three of the main characters in The Wine Club–Reggie, Audrey, and Cynthia–need a good talking to!  By the end of the novel, all three are like desperate housewives on steroids.  However, they all fascinated me, with their conflicting motivations and choices.  I would like to sit down with them all at the same time.  We could gather on the barstools around Cynthia’s kitchen island and have a glass of wine (of dubious quality).  And then I would ask:  Did you really think you could get away with it? 

In Across the Street, Alex comes across as the “nicer” twin, and she’s certainly the more selfless as she reluctantly agrees to carry her sister’s baby.  However, I think I would prefer to sit down and have a chat with Sam.  She is so focused on and driven by the idea of having a baby that she can’t see how her plan affects everyone else once the wheels are set in motion.  However, by the end of the novel, Sam seems to have gotten what she wants.  So, my first question to Sam would be:  Did you finally find the serenity you were desperately looking for?  (And I’m pretty sure Sam’s answer would be no.)

However, with both of these books, I really missed all my characters after I finished writing.  I truly let my characters drive the plot, and I’m often surprised where they end up leading me.  While I like finishing each novel, I always miss their voices and discovering what they’ll do next.

6) What social media site has been the most helpful in developing your readership?

I really can’t say. I have never been a social media person, other than to see the occasional posts from our children.  I was “told,” in no uncertain terms, that I need to use social media to help sell my books, so I do.  I frankly think that Facebook is the most helpful in developing readership.  I find that LinkedIn is primarily people “connecting” with one another, but I’m not sure if many of the authors who “connect” on LinkedIn are eagerly buying each others’ books. I also don’t see a lot of “activity” that helps grow readers on Twitter, in part because I think it’s hard to interest readers in a book in 150 characters or less. My posts on Instagram seem to get more attention than do my Facebook posts, but again, I’m sure how many of those “likes” result in a purchase.  Frankly, I think that Amazon Advertising and Bookbub provide the most direct assistance in developing readership, but they are both expensive.  

7) What advice would you give to aspiring or just starting authors out there?

Keep reading authors you like, keep writing, and don’t give up.  

8) What does the future hold in store for you? Any new books/projects on the horizon?

I now have eight completed novels.  My most recent book, Queen of Hearts, is actually a composite novel made up of 13 connected short stories.  We’re considering releasing the short stories one at a time, almost like the old dime novels.  My other five completed novels are being released a few months apart over the next year or so.  I will shortly be starting my next novel, with the goal to complete one novel a year until I just can’t do it anymore.  I can’t imagine not writing, though, so as long as the ideas keep coming, I’ll be sitting in front of my computer!  

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About the Author

Laurie was born and raised in small towns in Southern Illinois. She obtained her B.S. in English Education from the University of Illinois, where she also met and then married her husband Steve. Laurie earned both a M.A. and a Ph.D. in English, 20th-century American Literature, from Arizona State University, where she also taught literature and composition. In addition to her eight novels, Laurie has published two academic books, several short stories and poems, and edited other’s works. After much time spent in Academia and raising her three children (Anthony, Michelle, and Caitlin), Laurie returned to her passion for writing fiction. She is a prolific writer and typically completes one novel each year. Laurie resides with her husband, Steve, in Paradise Valley and Flagstaff, Arizona.

https://laurielisa.com/

https://www.facebook.com/authorlaurielisa/

https://www.instagram.com/laurieolisa/

The Wine Club by Laurie Lisa Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own. 

Two friends go down a dangerous path in order to provide for their daughters in author Laurie Lisa’s “The Wine Club”. 

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The Synopsis

Be ready to get hooked, with The Wine Club.

Most people can’t tell a good wine from a bottle of Two-Buck Chuck.

At least that’s what best friends Reggie and Audrey decide one night while celebrating their daughters’ election to the elite Mohave High Tigerette Pom Squad. But cheerleading in Scottsdale Arizona doesn’t come cheap, and both women are strapped for cash and going through a rough patch. Reggie’s husband has announced he’s gay and wants a separation. Audrey’s husband is entering rehab. But what if they could earn money by selling cheap wine in fancy bottles? How hard could it be?

As the housewives perfect their high-stakes con, their greed and mistrust of one another grow…as does the realization that they’ve become a small team of female criminals.

The Wine Club is a witty, wicked tale of crime in the suburbs. With its dark humor, twisted plot, creative use of satire, and female protagonists who turn to a life of crime, this women’s suspenseful crime novel filled with surprising twists and turns is a novel you won’t put down, and one your book club will love.

The Review

A truly fun yet twisted read. Author Laurie Lisa does an excellent job of setting the tone and pace for this novel early on, and blends family drama with corruption and crime thriller incredibly well. The way the author is able to showcase each character’s personal struggles adds depth and background to the cast of characters who help bring this story to life. 

Character growth and story play equal parts in this narrative, with the novel taking readers through twists and turns as this late-night money-making scheme turns into a full-blown crime drama like no other. The shocking twists to each of the women’s families and the growing actions each character finds themselves participating in showcase how greed and power can turn anyone into a completely different person.

The Verdict

Entertaining, witty yet delightfully wicked, author Laurie Lisa’s “The Wine Club” is a must-read crime drama. With a cast of relatable characters and themes such as sexuality, body image, and family becoming key factors in the actions of the two protagonists, readers won’t find themselves lacking any incredible drama to sink their teeth into. With a shocking final chapter, fans won’t want to miss another smash hit from author Laurie Lisa, so be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Laurie was born and raised in small towns in Southern Illinois. She obtained her B.S. in English Education from the University of Illinois, where she also met and then married her husband Steve. Laurie earned both a M.A. and a Ph.D. in English, 20th-century American Literature, from Arizona State University, where she also taught literature and composition. In addition to her eight novels, Laurie has published two academic books, several short stories and poems, and edited other’s works. After much time spent in Academia and raising her three children (Anthony, Michelle, and Caitlin), Laurie returned to her passion for writing fiction. She is a prolific writer and typically completes one novel each year. Laurie resides with her husband, Steve, in Paradise Valley and Flagstaff, Arizona.

https://laurielisa.com/

https://www.facebook.com/authorlaurielisa/

https://www.instagram.com/laurieolisa/

Across the Street by Laurie Lisa Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own. 

Twin sisters embark on an emotional journey as one becomes a surrogate for the other, and in the process both of their families undergo hardships, struggles and upheavals as secrets are revealed in author Laurie Lisa’s novel “Across the Street”.

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The Synopsis

Does love between sisters last forever? In a novel about the bond between twins, relationships are complicated by anger, resentment, and impossible choices.

Alex Carissa is thrilled when her identical twin sister, Sam, and her husband move into the neighborhood. For Sam, years of infertility, followed by an unthinkable tragedy, have left her despairing of ever having a child. Money is tight, and IVF is expensive. Sam’s only hope may be to ask her sister to be a surrogate. Alex will do anything for Sam, but when the sisters embark upon an unorthodox route to surrogacy, jealousy, guilt, and legal complications soon follow.

As the limits of sisterly devotion are tested, the family’s hidden wounds and secret addictions come to light, shaking the foundation of their marriages and their lives.

An emotional story of a woman’s struggle with infertility and a riveting book about the complexities of family, Across the Street makes an excellent selection for book clubs.

The Review

The author has crafted a truly engaging story here. The drama and emotional core of this story rest within the relationship not only between Sam and Alex but between their families as well as each member struggles with their own problems. The story is equally balanced with fully developed and evolving characters, who are relatable and realistically written in connection to the larger story being told. 

The author’s writing style was descriptive and entertaining and written in a way to feel almost visual in its use of imagery throughout the narrative, painting a picture in the reader’s mind of the scenes unfolding here. The way the author was able to showcase the point of view of so many characters and still make the story feel fresh and alive was a fantastic accomplishment, as I felt drawn into the narrative more and more as each chapter passed by.

The Verdict

A lengthy yet entertaining and emotional read, author Laurie Lisa’s “Across the Street” is a must-read drama novel. Full of suspense, shocking secrets, and twists and turns in the character’s arcs that will keep readers on the edge of their seats, this is a novel readers won’t be able to put down. Be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Laurie was born and raised in small towns in Southern Illinois. She obtained her B.S. in English Education from the University of Illinois, where she also met and then married her husband Steve. Laurie earned both a M.A. and a Ph.D. in English, 20th-century American Literature, from Arizona State University, where she also taught literature and composition. In addition to her eight novels, Laurie has published two academic books, several short stories and poems, and edited other’s works. After much time spent in Academia and raising her three children (Anthony, Michelle, and Caitlin), Laurie returned to her passion for writing fiction. She is a prolific writer and typically completes one novel each year. Laurie resides with her husband, Steve, in Paradise Valley and Flagstaff, Arizona.

https://laurielisa.com/

https://www.instagram.com/laurieolisa/

https://www.facebook.com/authorlaurielisa/