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I’m always worried when someone asks me to do a book review. I mean what if I really don’t like it? Does that give me the right to publicly bag it and perhaps damage the potential sales for the author? Some people would say yes, but I’ve always been a bit of a softy. Plus, just looking at the vast opinions on my own book has shown me that while something may not be my cup of tea other people might love it.
Officer Training in the Royal Australian Air Force taught me amongst other useful life skills – like how to dig a trench and set up a barb wire periphery – all about the bath tub method of reviewing. Start with a good point, then move into the bad, then finish with something else good. Designed to leave the person involved with a good end feel even though you may have trashed them through the middle. I find though that when this method has been used on me I normally don’t hear the end part and don’t remember the first part. All I get is the middle, depressing part.
All of these things flashed through my head when Lisa Becker asked if I would be interested in reviewing her books Click: An Online Love Story and Double Click, the sequel. Added to my worry about whether or not I would enjoy them was my concern over the format of her books. Books written entirely through emails? Could it possibly work? Would it flow nicely or jerk from email to email? But I put my trepidation aside and I promised her I would review them, and I’m awfully glad I did.
Today I’m lucky enough to not only be able to review Lisa’s first book, Click: An Online Love Story, but she’s also been kind enough to do an author interview and to allow me to post an excerpt from her book.
Lisa Becker had endured her share of hilarious and heinous cyber dates, many of which inspired Click: An Online Love Story. She is now happily married to a wonderful man she met online and lives in Manhattan Beach with him and their two daughters. So, if it happened for her, there’s hope for you!
Click: An Online Love Story, a book written entirely through a series of emails between four very different best friends, follows our protagonist, Renee, as she braves the world of internet dating, plunging deep into their murky waters.
When I started reading this book I was concerned about two main things. Firstly, would the format of the emails detract from the flow of the book, and secondly would I become tired of reading the series of emails, learning about things after the event rather than being transported into the story and watching it unravel before my eyes?
I’m happy to report that neither of these things were a problem for me. Once I learned to skim over the email headings the book flowed effortlessly, and the different prospective that the emails lent the story was a constant source of amusement for me. The emails were skilfully woven together, the interplay between the four friends often hilarious, and the glimpses we got of their lives addictive. I read it from beginning to end, unable to put it down.
There was an added bonus of the email format that I hadn’t expected. There was no chance for the story to sag as each email was succinct and moved the story along. Rather than having to go on each date with Renee you instead got the highlights portrayed in all their glory. Add to this her three very different friends: Mark, an uptight, anal control freak, Shelley, a sexually proficient extrovert and Ashley, a prude with low self-esteem, and you have the makings of a fast, funny story.
Another thing I enjoyed about reading Click was that Lisa’s writing was pretty much flawless. Either her knowledge of the English language far outweighs my own (highly possible) or she has an extremely good editor. I suspect it is the former.
I gave Click four and a half stars for its original format idea, amusing story and well developed characters.
Can Renee really find true love or will she be stuck on the dating merry-go-round for ever? Will Mark ever get past his anal retentive behavior and chose a dating website to place his profile on? Will Ashley ever leave the jerk she’s seeing? And is it really possible for Shelley to run out of men to shag in Los Angeles? The answers are all there. All you need to do is Click Here to find out.
I received a complimentary copy of Click: An Online Love Story in exchange for an honest review.
Interview with Lisa Becker
What is the best part about being a writer?
I’m thrilled people are feeling invested in the characters I’ve created and want to know more about them. When people tell me that they want to be friends with these characters or jump into their email conversations, it’s very gratifying. With each positive review and reader comment on, I get more and more motivated to continue writing.
If you could choose anywhere in the world to set up your perfect writing space where would you go?
I’d love to have a writing space on a small private island off the coast of Australia along the Great Barrier Reef. My husband and I honeymooned there 10 years ago and it was an amazing, relaxing and beautiful place.
What does writer's block mean to you and how do you combat it?
Like all writers, I’ve encountered my share of writer’s block, which to me means either I can’t think of what to write or just don’t feel motivated to do so. My solution: Chocolate! No joke, I eat chocolate. If I’m stuck on a certain section or not feeling in the mood to write, I give myself little chocolate incentives to get past the blockage. Judging by my thighs, I had some serious problems writing these books. 😉
Your novel Click: An Online Love Story is written purely through a series of emails between friends. What was the most challenging thing about writing this way?
The hardest part was keeping the timeline and email exchanges organized. Sometimes, I would have to look back a few pages earlier to make sure I had cc’d or bcc’d the right people on an email and that the subject lines were consistent. In some cases, there were replies to forwards to replies. Keeping it all straight was a challenge, but essential to the book’s format.
If you could chose an animal to be reborn as which would you chose and why?
I’ve always joked that I’m coming back in my next life as a tall, leggy blonde. So, in animal terms, I suppose I would be a Pomeranian owned by a rich socialite. She’ll carry me around in her Louis Vuitton bag, feed me gourmet food and pamper me like nobody’s business.
If you could have dinner with anybody – dead or alive – who would you chose and why?
I would like to dine with Atticus Finch. To Kill a Mockingbird is both my favorite book and movie.
Your book was impeccably edited and your knowledge of the English language admirable. Do you have formal tertiary level training or an excellent editor?
Why thank you! I studied English and American literature in college and also have a master’s degree in public relations. I’ve spent countless hours writing news releases, bylined articles, marketing proposals, brochures, advertising copy, public service announcements, radio copy, mat columns, fact sheets, photo captions, media alerts, pitch letters, letters to the editor, video news releases, etc. I was also fortunate to have an amazing editor named Tracey Zarneke. She’s a good friend and a fellow writer of non-fiction works about the animation industry. She was the perfect person to work with and hasn’t mocked me for my overuse of commas. Can’t wait to celebrate the release of Double Click with her soon at a nearby day spa.
What is your idea of the perfect day?
I live in a part of Los Angeles County called Manhattan Beach, less than two miles from the ocean. I love walking along the strand, looking out over the ocean, searching for dolphins and playing in the sand with my girls.
What genres do you prefer to read?
I love to read. Always have. Always will. My favorite genre is chick lit, which is probably why I felt compelled to write novels the way that I did.
The compulsory food pop quiz:
Sweet or savory?
Oooh…put them together and you’ve hit gold!
Animal or vegetable?
Vegetable! More than a year ago, I read Michael Pollan’s nonfiction book, In Defense of Food, which examines the western diet and its effect on our health. His advice is simple: “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” That, coupled with a viewing of a documentary called Forks Over Knives, which examines how many degenerative diseases can be controlled or reversed with a whole-food, plant-based diet, changed my life. I’m now more than a year into being a vegetarian and have never felt better.
Cocktail or wine?
A classic margarita on the rocks with lots of salt in the rim. Is it too early to have one now?
Beer or cider?
Neither! I haven’t had a sip of beer in more than 20 years and I don’t think I’ve ever tried cider, except the apple kind.
White or dark chocolate?
Dark chocolate, for sure. I worked at a candy store one summer, a true story of which is detailed in Double Click. I thought for sure I would tire of chocolate after being encouraged by my boss to try them all. No such luck! Again, judging by my figure, I would have been better off in the long run of growing tired of the tasty treats.
Ice-cream or frozen yogurt?
Frozen yogurt. I’m not really an ice cream eater. I’ll enjoy a scoop occasionally. I’m much more likely to have a frozen yogurt, especially when I’m able to convince my darling husband to run out and get one for me.
Tea or coffee?
Neither. Believe it or not, I’ve never had a cup of coffee. Ever. I tried it once and didn’t like it, so I never tried it again. Sadly, as we’ve established, I fell in love with chocolate after the first taste, and haven’t stopped. So, I suppose a hot chocolate with a big dollop of whipped cream would be my go-to choice.
Cake or cheese?
Cake! A classic yellow cake with chocolate frosting would be preferred. Much like my beloved margarita, I’m wondering if it is too early to have a slice now?
And one final question – Do you think you can have your cake and eat it too?
I’m not sure if it’s possible, but I sure would love to try.
Book Excerpt Click : An Online Love Story
From: email@example.com – January 14, 2011 – 1:03 AM
To: Renee Greene
Bcc: Shelley Manning, Mark Finlay
Subject: Re: Profile for Site
Thank you for submitting your profile to Choose Jews, the number one dating website for the Jewish community. Your screen name is <PRGal1981>. As other members become interested in communicating with you, they will email you at firstname.lastname@example.org/PRGal1981. To read the message, simply login to the site using your ID number and confidential password <*****>. Click on the message to open. You will see the member’s profile and photo below their initial message. If you decide to write back, simply click “reply” in the member’s note, write your own note and send. All communications with other members stay on the Choose Jews Web site so that you never have to give out any personal information. When you are comfortable, you can exchange personal information with other members. Thank you for selecting our service. Please contact email@example.com with any questions.
From: firstname.lastname@example.org/L’Chiam22 – January 14, 2011 – 5:54 AM
Shalom, PRGal1981. Don’t know your real name…yet 🙂
You seem like a really smart and interesting person and I think we would have a lot in common. I’m originally from New York – Queens to be specific – but made Alliyah to Israel a little more than 8 years ago. I had visited when I was 13 for my Bar Mitzvah and felt a spiritual connection to the land and to my people. So, when an opportunity came up to transfer from the Internet company I worked for to the Tel Aviv office, I jumped at it. When the Internet boom went bust, so did my job. But I decided to stay and found work as a computer engineer for a software developer.
I live in Tel Aviv and am looking for a spiritual woman to share a Jewish life with.
From: Renee Greene – January 14, 2011 – 9:04 AM
To: Shelley Manning
Subject: Fwd: Shalom
Okay, so I sent my profile in last night and thought I would take a chance that someone emailed me this morning. Yes, I know that seems egotistical thinking that someone would email me so quickly after my profile was posted. And considering it didn’t officially go online until 1:00 am, I’m not sure I want to date anyone who was trolling the Internet for a date in the wee hours of the morning. But, to be honest, I’m kind of excited about the possibilities. Imagine that. Me…being hopeful. Who knew? Anyway, I was elated – yes, elated – to find I had a message. Hurrah! Then I read it. He is very religious, is looking for a “spiritual” woman and lives in Israel. Good lord! (HA! Maybe that does indeed make me “spiritual” enough for this guy.) Israel!!!