Tuesday, 29 July 2014

French Toast - by Glynis Astie + EXCERPT, GIVEAWAY & GUEST POST

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Original Cover

My own copy

The blurb:

Behind the music…

Sydney Bennett is back! And her pursuit of perfection is alive and well. Naïve to the core, Sydney believed that when she finally married the man of her dreams, the hard part was over. Following a civil ceremony as a means to keep Louis from being deported, Sydney continues to plan the fairytale wedding that she had dreamed of since the age of five. Much to her chagrin, she discovers that her mother-in-law is planning what seems to be a rival wedding in France that SHE has been dreaming about for her only child since before he was born. How will poor Sydney be able to ensure two perfect weddings in the midst of Louis’ fruitless job search? Especially when her mother-in-law’s idea of perfection appears to be having Sydney embarrass herself in front of hundreds of French people that she has never met?

As if she didn’t have enough on her mind already, Sydney finds herself faced with the trials and tribulations of being a wife. Sydney had always heard that marriage was hard, but she thought that this was just a ruse that married couples portrayed in a bid to make single girls feel less desperate. But as the bills pile up and emotions run high, she realizes that there may just be some truth to this statement. And as she watches Louis’ perfection fade away before her very eyes, she begins to wonder if she made a rash decision in marrying a man that she had known for a mere six months. With all of the obstacles that Sydney and Louis will encounter, will they be raising their glasses in celebration or watching their impulsive marriage crash and burn? One thing is for certain, Sydney and Louis Durand are headed for one hell of a toast…

My Opinion:

*Book provided by author/publisher in exchange of an honest review*

French Toast is the second book of a series with Sydney Bennett as the main character. I haven’t read French Twist, so this was my first book by Glynis to read.

The blurb sounded interesting from the start and I was really curious about the story.
I love weddings and it was great to have more than one wedding to read about in this book. Sydney planned her own wedding and then there was Louis’ (her husband) mother Simone planning a wedding in France as well. They are already married, because as a French he wasn’t allowed to stay longer in the US.

Next to all this the wedding preparing Sydney also had to get used to being a wife and dealing with the happy, but also the difficult parts in a marriage. Louis had to find a job and had difficulties dealing with this as well. The two of them were such an adorable couple and their scenes were really sweet and authentic.

The weddings were great to read about, but I still had difficulties to really get into the story. I liked that all her siblings and her parents were included in such a great way, the really added a wonderful touch to the story. It was also interesting to read about Sydney dealing with Louis’ French relatives and especially his mother.

Unfortunately, I didn’t really see a real story developed and for me the drama was missing. At times I found it difficult to find a connection to the storyline and also to Sydney. It was all about the weddings and the marriage, which was wonderful, but not enough for me.

I enjoyed the book and some scenes were adorable and perfectly described, but the important chemistry was missing.


My possible cast:


Meet Sydney Durand

I closed my eyes and took a deep breath.  She couldn’t possibly be serious.  Could she?  I opened my eyes, looked over at Louis and tried to smile.  I can only imagine the look that registered on my face, but I highly doubt it was anything remotely positive.  Louis had just finished telling me about his mother’s latest plans for our wedding.  I took another deep breath and reminded myself, yet again, that I had agreed to let her plan the wedding in its entirety (with the exception of choosing my wedding dress.)  Why would I agree to something so completely insane?  It might have had something to do with the fact that this would be our third wedding. 
That’s right, I said THIRD wedding and no, I do not have an Elizabeth Taylor complex.  And I can prove it!  Allow me to give you the short version.  After a disastrous romantic history dating back to college, I, Sydney Bennett, was swept off of my feet by the incredible Frenchman, Louis Durand.  Louis was in California on business, but following our first week together, he accepted a transfer from his company’s Paris office to the San Jose office.  To the great shock of our families and friends, we became engaged a few weeks later.  We began planning a beautiful wedding in Monterey for the following September, only to be thwarted by Louis’ unexpected job loss in January.  In order to avoid his deportation, we were married shortly thereafter in my home town of Haverstraw, New York.  So that my dreams of a beautiful wedding would not be crushed, we elected to have the originally planned event in Monterey as well.  Everyone needs gorgeous wedding photos!  The first wedding was definitely more practical than gorgeous.
One would think that two weddings would be more than enough for one couple in love, but due to Louis’ status as an only child with an extremely large extended family and his mother’s dream of a wedding that his whole town (population four hundred) would attend, we simply had to have one more wedding.  Besides, a wedding in the beautiful French countryside sounded amazing, right?   This way my family and I would have the opportunity to experience the wedding customs of Louis’ country as he and his family would experience the customs of ours at the wedding in Monterey.  (The first wedding was kind of light on customs as it was predominantly a vehicle to keep Louis in the country.)  My mother and siblings were thrilled at the prospect of a trip to France, while my father bemoaned the fact that he would have to set foot in traitorous territory.  He is German and likes to complain.  Although I was absolutely sure that he was practically drooling at the prospect of the gastronomic experiences in his future.
While three weddings did afford a certain amount of stress, in the end, I think that it helped me.  My mother had planned the first wedding (in the span of one week), I was planning the second wedding (in the span of one year) and Louis’ mother was planning the third (in the span of Louis’ lifetime.)  This allowed for all parties to end up with a wedding they were happy with.  I must admit that the idea having three different wedding dresses is kind of fun.  Hey, now!  There is no need to judge!  The three events are very different levels of formality.  The first was an informal town hall wedding, the second would be a formal evening wedding and the third would be an afternoon wedding in the French countryside.  If you really think about it, you will realize that having three wedding dresses is an absolute necessity.
    Now that my seemingly ludicrous statement of three weddings has been explained, we can return to the problem at hand.  Louis has just informed me that his mother, Simone, has purchased an ensemble for me to wear to the rehearsal dinner.  (Honestly, this is becoming comical.  This will be our THIRD rehearsal dinner.)  Let me remind you that Louis’ mother has a very...particular fashion sense.  All of the garments she wears are short, tight, brightly colored and/or bedazzled.  Given the fact that she is sixty years old, my hat goes off to her.  I hope that I have the guts to wear miniskirts into my sixties.  She is my hero!  Having said that, I have never been one to dress that....um...how do I put this?  Let’s just say that my taste is slightly more conservative.
    Louis was practically in tears from laughing so hard as he described the dress to me.  Simone had chosen a gold sequined halter mini dress with red satin roses on the straps and red satin ruffles along the bottom of the skirt.  She also saw fit to purchase red satin stilettos with matching red satin roses on the toes.  I resisted the urge to strangle my husband and began to pace the room.  Clearly I made a serious error in judgment when I allowed Simone to make all decisions for the wedding except for my wedding dress.  In my defense, I really didn’t think that her purview extended to my wardrobe choices for pre wedding events.  It was becoming quite obvious that I had a lot to learn about her…

Guest post by Glynis - 10 Things That Inspire Me

Being a writer can be a wonderful thing. You have the opportunity to create unforgettable stories filled with emotional depth and incredible wit; stories that will cause people to look at things in a new way and will ultimately change the world! But being a writer can also be downright depressing. What happens when your fictional characters simply will not cooperate and are running amuck in your mind, never to be heard from again? Inspiration is hiding from you and if you ever want to write again, you will seek it through whatever methods necessary. My first official year as an author has taught me a few tricks, which I would be more than happy to share with you.

My boys
My two sons are quite literally the center of my world. The majority of my time is spent as a stay at home mom, with writing as a part-time affair. When I begin to wonder if the world has any interest in me or my silly stories, I close my laptop, take a deep breath and turn my full attention to my babies. It is amazing to me how one look at these precious people can heal whatever ails me. One smile, one giggle or one hug makes my heart swell larger than the Grinch’s once he discovers the meaning of Christmas. After the highly entertaining distraction of a game of Candy Land, Lego Star Wars or an Angry Bird puzzle, my mind has cleared and my characters are making sense once more. I also have a huge grin on my face that stays plastered there for hours. Or until the pasta hits the ceiling.

My husband
I really hit the jackpot when it comes to my husband. (Once you have read the books in my French Twist series, you will know what I mean!) He has made me feel special from the moment that I met him and has supported me in everything that I have chosen to do. He works harder than any person that I have ever known and NEVER gives up when something is important to him. On those days that I feel like I am just as lost as my characters, I ask him about his current project. My husband is a computer programmer and one of the biggest nerds on the planet. As he begins to describe the details of his latest creation, I listen in wonder to his enthusiastic explanation and think, “If he can make this boring topic exciting, I have my work cut out for me.” Thank you, Mom, for always telling me to marry a nice nerd.

My parents
My parents have always been a huge inspiration in my life. Though it is harder to connect with them now that they have passed away, they continue to be a huge presence in my life. Both of them were so important to the person that I have become and I carry pieces of them with me wherever I go. My mother’s mantra for me, “Good enough is not nearly as wonderful as perfect, but it is good enough” has not only kept me sane but also became the central theme to my first book, French Twist. When I find myself needing inspiration, I sit in a quiet room, close my eyes and imagine what my parents would think about a particular situation. By the time I open my eyes, I find myself laughing quite robustly and tickled pink that I have found just the solution to the gaping hole in my plot.

A really good song
Another thing that my mother instilled in me was a great love of music, and along with that, the great need to shake my booty. When I find myself drawing a blank or hitting a wall of frustration, I pull out my iPod and choose a song that will shake the ideas loose. “Only the Good Die Young” by Billy Joel usually does the trick. If it is a particularly rough day, I may have to also try “I Could Never Take the Place of Your Man” by Prince or “Walking on Sunshine” by Katrina and the Waves. When I finally find the magic track, the perfect combination of shimmying, hip swaying and giggling bring out my inner genius. If only I could figure out how to hold on to it for just a little bit longer…

A bright sunny day
One of the nice things about being a writer is being able to work from home. You don’t have to rush around like a crazy person in the morning, don your finest business attire and get stuck in traffic on your way to sitting in the same room in front of the computer for most of the day. You can write on your couch, your bed, your deck or be a rebel and head out to your local coffee shop. Freedom! But sometimes, no matter where you go, the ideas do not seem to be there. These are the days that I once again, close my laptop, take a deep breath and get the heck out of dodge. There is something about getting outside of four walls, taking a truly deep breath of fresh air and getting your body moving in the sunshine. You just have to hope that you don’t chose a rainy day in which to need this type of inspiration. Wet, frizzy hair does nothing good for anyone.

Fresh chocolate chip cookies
One of my favorite things to do is bake. While I do greatly enjoy eating the end product, there is something particularly soothing in the act of baking. From the process of selecting the recipe to combining the delectable ingredients, I am lost in the joy of creating a tasty treat for my boys to gobble down. The delightful side effect is that once my mind has disengaged from whatever storyline conundrum it had fallen into and is now focused on something far more fun, like CHOCOLATE, the problems that seemed insurmountable slowly fade away. And after I have sampled my latest masterpiece, I find my inspiration waiting at the bottom of the plate. This just proves that there is no problem that chocolate can’t solve.

A hot shower
After a long period of uninterrupted writing - or trying to write as it were, I often have several knots of tension throughout my neck and back. This pain will put a stop to whatever creative flow that I had going and bring my progress to a screeching halt. When I find myself repeatedly pulling at my neck, I know that it is time to head for the shower. Aside from the necessary loosening of the knots covering a good portion of my body, I now need to wash away the layers of perspiration that I built up while contorting into various positions while trying to work the tension out of my body. I come out of the shower refreshed, relaxed and put on a cute new outfit. How can I not be inspired now?

A trip to the gym
Sometimes a quick walk to clear my head is just not enough. It is time to bring out the serious endorphins and that, my friends, means going to the gym. Depending on my mood, I will do for cardio (I can read!) or weights (Check out my muscles!), but no matter my chosen path, I always leave feeling great. Not only do I get a great workout, I catch up with my gym friends and actually get to take an uninterrupted shower when I am done. (Thank goodness for babysitting!) As an added bonus, I find that the physical activity jogs my memory of crucial plot developments that could not be previously ferretted out. Perhaps I should just bring my laptop with me the next time?

A new pair of shoes
This is completely impractical, but also incredibly fun. I mean, I spend my days chasing around my two young boys and am already equipped with at least five pairs of sneakers and a few, um, more pairs of flats, so what could I possibly need new shoes for? My mental wellbeing, that’s what! How can inspiration not strike when I am strutting around my house in my new four inch black patent leather peep toes? Women of Chick Lit are famous for their love of shoes, so really, this could be seen as necessary research.

A John Hughes film
When I find that my mind is in a funk and I don’t have the energy or the inclination for any of the items listed above, I turn to the genius of Mr. John Hughes for a little help. I think about my current plot struggles and pull one of my cherished dvds off of the shelf. Most often it has been Sixteen Candles, followed by the close second of Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. While everyone remembers the first as one of his best films, very few remember that he had anything to do with the icon of Ferris Bueller. Ferris is perfect for when I need a dose of inspiration – since there is nothing that this kid can’t do! Not to mention the amazing sights of Chicago, the fun song and dance sequences and the truly memorable lines. (I still say, “Go piss up a flagpole” with enough snark to rival Jennifer Gray.) Whatever your needs, Ferris can take care of you.
I hope that you have enjoyed my foray into inspirational tendencies. Feel free to try any or all of them for yourself! Thank you so much for having me to visit, Simona!

About the author:

Glynis never expected in her wildest dreams to be a writer. After thirteen years in the Human Resources Industry, she decided to stay at home with her two amazing sons. Ever in search of a project, she was inspired to write the story of how she met and married her wonderfully romantic French husband, Sebastien, in six short months. The end result became her first novel, French Twist.

As this novel is only the beginning the story, Glynis has just released the sequel, French Toast and has begun writing the final chapter in the trilogy, French Fry. When she is not writing, she is trying to keep the peace amongst the three men and two cats in her life, finding missing body parts (Lego pieces are small!), supervising a myriad of homework assignments and keeping a tenuous hold on her sanity by consuming whatever chocolate is in the vicinity.


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