2 posts categorized "Alex Sokoloff"

September 23, 2010


We, the subset of the TLC backbloggers called Help Me Out Here (HMOH) email group --dedicated to making less of ourselves -- do more than talk about healthier eating and more exercising, we talk gardens, nature, travel, books, books and books. We READ!


When I quit my full-time job, I knew I'd have more time to read.  What I didn't expect was the extent to which my new situation would encourage me to expand the borders of my biblioverse (I made that up.  Cool, huh?). And with some of my extra time, I read book reviews and am accumulating a huge TBR list.  Here are some books I never would have tried when my reading time was so limited that I didn't want to waste it on anything but my tried-and-true favorites:
INTUITION by Allegra Goodman; THE SENATOR'S WIFE by Sue Miller; and HOUSE RULES by Jodi Picoult.  In non-fiction, I've read BORN ON A BLUE DAY by Daniel Tammet, a synaesthetic man with Asberger's syndrome; THREE CUPS OF TEA, about Greg Mortensen's work building schools in rural Pakistan and Afghanistan; and BRIGHT-SIDED, by Barbara Ehrenreich.

Do you push your own reading boundaries?


Jodi (who is at present lolling around the South of France)

Jodi Ste maxime

The books I've read so far since I left home.   Sara Paretsky's HARDBALL; David Baldacci's DIVINE JUSTICE;  Dick Francis' LONGSHOT; Julie Hyzy's STATE OF THE ONION; and in the process of reading Dick Francis' STRAIGHT.  Bob bought a bunch of Dick Francis books from the used book section at Murder by the Book in Houston cuz he became enthralled with Dick Francis' work.  I discovered I really hadn't read all of them, so am catching up.  Then, of course, I have my Nook with me which has on it:  Lee Goldberg's MR. MONK IN TROUBLE and MR. MONK IS CLEANED OUT; Janet Evanovich's SIZZLING SIXTEEN; Julie Hyzy's EGGSECUTIVE ORDERS; Victoria Thompson's MURDER ON LEXINGTON AVENUE; Avery Ames' THE LONG QUICHE GOODBYE; Carolyn Haines' BONE APPETIT; and Carolyn Hart's LAUGHED TIL HE DIED.


Storyteller Mary

I have eclectic reading tastes, open to suggestions from many sources . . . Saturday night a doctor at a party suggested  THE ART OF RACING IN THE RAIN and MAKING THE GHOST DANCE.  My nieces pointed me toward Janet Evanovich, THE HUNGER GAMES, and TWILIGHT.  From my sister, the “Cat Who” series, and Dana Stabenow’s Kate Shugak.  Book clubs (three different ones) and my storytell email community add more, Mrs. Pollifax and (eclectic indeed) the Elm Creek Quilters.  In the car I’m listening to Sharyn McCrumb’s THE DEVIL AMONGST THE LAWYERS.

Elaine brought me to TLC, and now I’ll never lack for good reading, with Bubbles, Blackbirds, Josie, Helen, Maisie, and presently Judy Larsen’s ALL THE NUMBERS,*  the fun just keeps on coming.



This Sunday I started AMERICAN PASTORAL of Philip Roth (while taking my breakfast in bed – my week-end péché mignon). I remember the day I discovered the author. It was in November 2002, the day we first left our one-month daughter with the baby-sitter and went out for dinner given by an American lawyer. We spoke literature with a guy sitting next to us (American as well) and he turned out to be very fond of Philip Roth, an author we didn’t know at the time being. The next day my husband and I started devouring his novels.

The book that is waiting for me is LES BRAISES (EMBERS) by a Hungarian writer Sándor Márai. The first translation of this book was made in France and after it appeared in other foreign languages but strangely under its French title, not the original one.



I’ve just read the charming faux mystery novel HEAT WAVE by Rick Castle (of the great Castle TV show).  The inside back liner says his "first novel . . . received the Nom DePlume Society's prestigious Tom Straw Award for Mystery Literature.”  Nikki Heat’s oh-so-tough-and-smart NYC detective work with her funny, endearing, romantic ride-along writer is just great fun.

Laraine Mary 

Judy Larson Allthenumbers_lg 


Judy Merrill Larsen

I’m reading THE HELP and loving it.  Two other books that stand out for me from this summer are Anna Quindlen’s EVERY LAST ONE (I adore her.  I want to be her when I grow up.) and Lynne Griffin’s beautiful SEA ESCAPE.  On the top pf my TBR pile is Franzen’s FREEDOM (I know . . . people have said I should snub this but I’ve heard it’s amazing—and not just from Oprah).  When the weather gets crisp and I’m hankering to make chili, stew and meatloaf, I gravitate toward weightier books.  In the summer, I want lighter (although given the books listed above who knows).  Does anyone else find that their reading changes with the seasons?

Laura in PA Laura_bubbles

During our vacation, I read THE HELP, which was awesome, and Nancy’s entertaining OUR LADY OF IMMACULATE DECEPTION, which helped assuage the disappointment in my forced inactivity due to a leg ailment.

I read mostly mysteries, with some fiction and romance thrown in. On the mystery front, I was excited to hear about NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEED, by E.J. Copperman (AKA Jeff Cohen). I love his Movie Theater mysteries, and he didn’t disappoint with this new series.  Others include our own Jackie’s Maisie Dobbs (Loved! Looking for more); G. M. Malliet’s DEATH OF A LIT CHICK, second in her excellent series; and Alan Bradley’s THE WEED THAT STRINGS THE HANGMAN'S BAG, the second of his wonderful Flavia de Luce books.

I MUST read series in order. Am I alone in this? Also, when you finish a book, do you just pick up the next one on the pile, or do you have to peruse and figure out what you’re in the mood for?



Alan S.

I finished Elaine Viets' HALF PRICE HOMICIDE; Laurie King's A GRAVE TALENT, THE MOOR, and A DARKER PLACE; and Robert Parker 's CHANCES and SMALL VICES. Elaine puts Helen in an outrageous situation in a totally believable manner. King and Parker have me rereading paragraphs, not to untangle syntax but to savor what I just read. Do you find six books a week excessive?



I avidly read Jennifer Crusie’s new MAYBE THIS TIME and I’m devouring Jill Mansell’s backlist. I’ve finished all the current Mansell’s from Borders and library, acquiring one from Paperback Swap and now will do Amazon for the rest.


Becky Hutchison

I prefer fairly Lighthearted Cozies:

DIVA LAS VEGAS by Eileen Davidson



particularly if they involve -



DEAD AND KICKING by Wendy Roberts

TOMB WITH A VIEW by Casey Daniels


Good witches:

A WITCH IN TIME by Madelyn Alt

A CAST-OFF COVEN by Juliet Blackwell








and Psychic Ability:

A GLIMPSE OF EVIL by Victoria Laurie


Sometimes I have two or three books going simultaneously depending on time of day:



BOOK OF SHADOWS by Alex Sokoloff



CROSSING THE LION by Cynthia Baxter


- Or -


Room (i.e., my kitchen):



Does anyone else read more than one book at a time?

Becky photo

Karen in OH

In the last two weeks, I've read: DRIVEN TO INK, by Karen E. Olson; four titles in the Cleo Coyle Coffeehouse series; BUZZ OFF, by Hannah Reed (I went to her signing in Waukesha); FOOL'S PUZZLE and MARINER'S COMPASS, by Earlene Fowler; two flowershop mysteries by Kate Collins; THE VIRGIN OF THE SMALL PLAINS, by Nancy Pickard; HER ROYAL SPYNESS, by Rhys Bowen; THE GUN SELLER, by Hugh Laurie; and Robert Parker's ROUGH WEATHER.

I read a lot. I like reading all the books in a series, and often collect series. Summer is a time for light, frothy reading; winter is my time for lengthier novels and classics. Whatever did we do for fun before TLC?  So many good books to read, and such fun writers and readers!

Karen & Elaine Viets 11-8-09

July 10, 2010

Witchy Woman

Witchy Woman

By Alex Sokoloff Alex

TLC welcomes Alex, a bewitching thriller writer. We think you'll enjoy her writing as much as we do.

So of course every time you write a book everyone always assumes it’s about you. Few people get that sometimes, if not most times when you write a book, it’s about getting OUT of you. Just like reading is, right?

Well, my new thriller, "Book of Shadows," is about a cynical Boston cop who teams up with a mysterious Salem witch to solve what looks like a Satanic murder. So naturally everyone is now thinking that I’m a witch (that’s with a "w"). Oh, the interviewers don’t come right out and say it, but you know that’s what they’re asking.

Well, I’m not. Really. Not really. No more than any woman is a witch.

But I can’t deny that writing "Book of Shadows" was a really excellent opportunity for me to indulge some of my witchier nature. I wanted to dive right in and explore some of those things that make some men – and a lot of women – uncomfortable with feminine power, and feminine
energy, and feminine sexuality, and feminine deity.

And I’ve been working up to this book for quite a while. I’ve been around practicing witches most of my life. That’s what happens when you grow up in California, especially Berkeley. Actually the Berkeley part pretty much explains why I write supernatural to begin with, but that’s another post. Those of you who have visited Berkeley know that Telegraph Avenue, the famous drag that ends at the Berkeley campus, is a gauntlet of clothing and craft vendors, artists, and fortune tellers, forever fixed in the sixties. Well, look a little closer, and you’ll see just how many pagans, Wiccans, and witches there actually are.

I’ve walked that gauntlet thousands of times in my life. It does something to your psyche, I’m telling you.

There was also the Renaissance Pleasure Faire, where I spent many summer days in my interestingly misspent youth. Renaissance Faires are teeming with witches (check out the Fortune Tellers’ Grove next time if you don’t believe me).

So even though I don’t actually practice, not in an organized covenish kind of way, I’ve been to a ceremony or two, and you could say I’ve been researching this book for quite some time. In fact, I think I’ve known I was going to write this book ever since I first saw a "Calling of The Corners," a Craft ceremony which is one of the ritual scenes I depict in "Book of Shadows." It’s one of the most extraordinary spiritual experiences I've ever had -- such elemental, feminine power.

And in everyday life, there some things that are just useful to know about the Craft. ShadowsSM

I’m not much one for spells, I’m more of a meditator. But when I had to kick my evil tenants out of my rental house? A cleaning service was just not enough. You better believe that the second the locksmith was done changing the locks, I was down at the witch supply store, buying black and white candles (for protection and cleansing), and sage (smudge it for purification). I opened every window and swept the whole house widdershins (to the left, to dismiss) with a new broom dipped in salt and rosemary to dispel all lingering energy. Ritual works, and it doesn’t really matter what accoutrements you use; it’s really about the intention: in this case to cleanse, heal, and start over fresh.

Another concept of the Craft that I’ve always found particularly useful is Maiden, Mother, Crone. Those are the three aspects of the Goddess, and also the three phases of the moon, corresponding colors white, red and black. They represent the three cycles of a woman’s life – youth, womanhood and age – but women also pass through all three aspects every month when they’re menstruating, and knowing that has saved my life (and the lives of many of those around me) many a time.

The time right after your period is Maiden: you have a rush of estrogen, so you’re glowing, you’ve just dropped all that water weight, you have a ton of energy, and you’re – well, up for it. And men can sense it Best time to snag a partner, although your choices might not be exactly the best in this phase of the cycle.

The Mother (also called Queen) phase of the month is around ovulation. You’re powerful, grounded, and can get a lot done, especially creatively, because of the pregnancy connotations. It’s a sexy time in a different way than Maiden, because there’s the extra knowledge
that yes, you really can get pregnant right now.

The Crone phase is raging PMS and the "death" that a period often feels like. Wise people know to avoid you at this time unless they really want a faceful of truth, and I try not to schedule meetings, especially with men, when I’m in this phase. Best for me to be solitary and contemplative. And contain the damage.

But the things that come out of your mouth during this phase are the deep truth, even if they’re not pleasant, and if you remember to breathe, put the knife down, and pay attention to what you’re feeling and saying, you can learn a lot about your life and what you really need to be doing. Also your dreams will tend to be the most powerful, vivid, and significant in this phase. I know mine are.

I appreciate the earth/nature centeredness of the Craft. I like to be aware of whether the moon is waxing or waning, and focus on bringing things into my life during the waxing, and letting go of things (or people!) in the waning. And I like knowing that there is extra power and magic at the Solstices and Equinoxes; that knowledge makes me stop at least four times a year to consider what I really want to manifest in my life.

Let’s face it: I also like the clothes. With my hair, I’ll never be able to pull off the tailored look. I love lace and fishnets and velvet and sparkles and corsets and big jewelry. I love the candles
and the scents and that every day has a color (today is indigo, if you’re wondering).
And there is another aspect of the Craft that has been truly important to me, spiritually. It’s about balance. I have never, ever bought the idea that God is male. It runs contrary to my entire experience of reality. I love you guys, really I do, but you’re only half the equation. I can’t see how an ultimate power could be anything but BOTH male and female. So the notion of a Goddess, in all Her forms, to me, completes the equation.

And a Supreme Being who likes velvet and fishnets? Even better.

So how about you Tarts? What’s your take on witches? Are you familiar with the way witchcraft is actually practiced, or is that whole world completely mysterious to you? Or do you do the odd spell or two yourself?