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December 12, 2016
Another year, another post. No more "keep a more active blog" New Year's resolutions for me because, clearly, I just set myself up for failure year after year.

2016 has been a whirlwind. "Eventful" doesn't begin to describe it. The downside is that I did not get to read nearly as much as I would've loved to or should have. If I have any resolutions this year, it is to read more.

Here are the few books that I actually managed to devour in 2016:

Girl at War by Sara Nović
One of the most gripping books I have ever read. Narrated (in part) by an 11-year-old girl, this was, at time, a painful read. I certainly learned a lot. Highly recommend.

The Wicked Girls by Alex Marwood
A fantastic thriller with incredible character development. Definitely recommend.

Before I Go to Sleep by S.J. Watson
A thriller with a fascinating premise. I couldn't get enough of this book at first, but, unfortunately, it lost some of its initial grip for me. The twists, however, were intriguing.

Currently, I am reading Before You Judge Me by Travis Smiley. It's a non-fiction book attempting to document the last weeks in the life of Michael Jackson. A gut wrenching read any fan, like myself. I have my fair share of issues with this book (there is no way for the author to know what song MJ was listening at one point in time or another, let alone what he was thinking or feeling), but it presents an interesting perspective.

I wish you all a very merry Christmas and a very happy New Year! Lots of good reads and inspiration to each and every one of you!

xoxo,
-Marina

December 28, 2015
So it turns out I'm just not that good at keeping New Year's resolutions. So much for my monthly updates, eh? Maybe I'll do better next year.

2015 has been quite eventful for me (creatively and personally). Here's to hoping 2016 holds its own.

Today I thought I'd share a list of books I read this year. It's not a long list, but there are some goodies on there.

Conjured (The New England Witch Chronicles, Book 2) by Chelsea Luna
--I rarely read series (especially paranormal YA ones), but Chelsea sure knows how to spin an entertaining story. I read the first installment last year, and hope to read Book 3 in 2016.

--I could not put this book down! Not since reading Gone Girl have I been this obsessed with a book. If you like a good psychological suspense novel (and you've already read Joe After Maya, that is!:)), read this book.

Mastering the Art of Soviet Cooking: A Memoir of Food and Longing by Anya Von Bremzen
--As a Soviet immigrant myself, I could not pass up this book. It shares personal experiences growing up in the Soviet Union, setting them up against the backdrop of Russian and Soviet history. In addition, the author shares some wonderful recipes. I recommend this one to any culturally curious foodie.

--This novel was an unexpected thrill to read. There are multiple intertwined storylines, featuring female protagonists, narrated by different characters. This was a fast and fascinating read, with heavy mother-daughter themes throughout. I recommend this novel without reservations.

--"Dear Daughter" had a raw, honest narration to it. I read it every available minute I had. A super fun suspense story with a flawed, unreliable narrator.

--I had mixed feelings about this one. On one hand, I felt a little silly reading it, given that it was so transparently inspired by the real-life Will & Kate (Seriously! Only Kate is Bex and she is American, and "Diana" is alive but out of her mind...everything else is very lazily masked). On the other hand, the novel was super entertaining and I wanted to keep reading more! If you're looking for a fun, light read--this one's it.

--I'll read anything by Gillian Flynn. The woman is my literary hero! This was one paranormal short story I swallowed whole in a matter of a couple of hours. I highly recommend this one.

Well, that's it for this year! Please share your favorite reads of 2015.

Have a wonderfully inspiring 2016!
-Marina

June 2015

Self-promotion is a b*tch. It just is. I so wish I could just create, put my work out there and have it be magically delivered to you without much marketing. Sadly, life is not such and I, at least occasionally, have to try to "hussle."

For the past week, I've been on a book blog tour, promoting my new novel--Effortless. Reviews, guest posts, interviews--it's all such wonderful fun! I am having a great time. Below are two guest entries I've had the honor to do recently as part of the tour. One is an essay on balancing writing and full-time parenting, while the other is a short story. Enjoy!

On Balancing Writing and Parenting

Short story--Dyes


May 27, 2015
Effortless is finally here and I am currently (virtually) out and about...on a book blog tour! Learn more about it HERE. There's also a giveaway in it for you! Four signed copies will be given away in two weeks, so enter for your chance to win. I don't pick the winners, just so you know, but I do wish you luck!
Pick up your copy of Effortless today! Read it, review it, tell a friend!

April 2, 2015
Say what?! Updates two days in a row?! Shocking, I know, but I just had to share the cover art for my upcoming novel with you. Created by the amazing Rahul Phillip, here is EFFORTLESS!


April 1, 2015
Happy April! I hope it's warm where you are, because it sure isn't in NYC.

I'm yet to really stick to my resolution and update this blog as regularly as I want to, but I really felt like sharing my new favorite thing with you today. I swear this isn't an April Fool's post.

About a month ago, I got myself a guitar...as well as a bunch of books and YouTube tutorials. My goals are not terribly ambitious, but I do want to be able to play some of my favorite songs for my own enjoyment. More than anything, I love to sing, so if I were able to provide myself with some basic accompaniment, that'd be just lovely. So far, I know the basic structure of four chords and the way to properly switch between some of them. Now, I have to work on accuracy, clarity, and speed before moving on to learning more, but it's a start. This has been a very humbling experience (much like everything else lately, from writing to parenting). I hope to one day soon post a progress report...and maybe even a video.

Here is a photo of my fingers learning the G chord.

Wish me luck!

March 2, 2015

So that New Year's resolution about keeping more active on this blog hasn't been working out, eh? Sorry about that. However, I do have some exciting news to share: a new project is in the works! Well, it has been in the works for over a year, but only now am I beginning to talk about it publicly. 

Here goes: I am working on a two-part literary fiction/romance series, the first installation of which, I hope, will become available late this spring (currently, we are shooting for a May release date, at the latest). The name of the first book in the series is Effortless. My editor has already been through it (twice), so now we are in the proofreading stage. This will be my very first series, so I’m equal parts anxious and excited. I shall keep you posted...PROMISE!



December 27, 2014
New Year's resolution--stay more active on this blog!

Well, anyway, there are only four calendar days left of 2014, so it's time for some summations. Below is a list of everything I've read this year. Most of these grabbed ahold of my attention and wouldn't let go until the very end, but Cartwheel and You Deserve Nothing truly made me think and feel unlike any other book in 2014.

New England Witch Chronicles, by Chelsea Bellingeri
You Deserve Nothing, by Alexander Maksik
Little Failure, by Gary Shteyngart
Early Decision, by Lacy Crawford
Tommy’s Tale, by Alan Cumming
The Partner Track, by Helen Wan
Oh Grow Up, by Kelsye Nelson
Hooked: Four Stories, by Kelsye Nelson
Under the Skin, by Michel Faber
Doha 12, by Lance Charnes
Bittersweet, by Miranda Beverly-Whittemore
Cartwheel, by Jennifer duBois


November 28-December 5, 2014


SALE! Who doesn't like a sale?! My suspense novel, Joe After Maya is available for at a sale price of $0.99 from November 28th and until December 5th, 2014. All you need is a kindle or a kindle app and you could be reading in minutes. Happy reading! You can get your copy HERE.



September 26, 2014

I've mentioned that I love music, right? That I rarely do anything without it? That it's simply too quiet without an instrument, a voice in my ear? Well, if I haven't, here is my confession: I LOVE MUSIC! And to hear quality music be played live by inspired musicians is simply a blessing.
Why am I rambling? Because I went to see the band Train play live in New York last night and I am still on cloud 9. What a great night of warm, nuanced, loving music played with care and dedication! What high entertainment value! I've been a fan for well over a decade, but seeing the magic live was something else. Thank you for the inspiration, dear dear Train!
To celebrate the release of their new album, here is one of my brand new favorites: Give It All.



August 2014 

Whoa, LONG time, no speak. Summer has been rushing by too fast.
Here's what I've been up to: check out my new YouTube Channel


April 2014

I have always loved going to theater. Honestly, when I was a little girl, back in the former USSR, I spent more time at the theater-theater than at any movie theater to this day. Growing up, a musical theater actress is all I'd ever really wanted to be when I grew up.

Due to certain changes in my family over the last couple of years, I hadn't been able to attend plays and musicals with the regularly to which I'd previously become accustomed, and boy, did I miss this delicious pastime. So when I heard that Cabaret was returning to Broadway this spring, I knew that this was going to be my grand return to the theater, if only as a passionate audience member. My favorite musical! Alan Cumming! Are you kidding me?! Come hell or high water, I had to be there!

I was most certainly not disappointed when I attended a preview performance of Cabaret on April 13th. Tears stung my eyes as the orchestra began to play...and it was beautiful!  There is naughty fun it in, sure, but there is also deep darkness there that must be acknowledged and contemplated. Sadly, the play is also (still!) timely, given some scary things going on in the world today (places like Ukraine, for example).

I'd seen the play before, of course, but not with the genius of a man that Alan Cumming is; he seems to simply embody the part of the Emcee wholly and fearlessly. Such a nuanced performance, full of satire and empathy. Absolutely dizzying. Just to see this man do his thing live on stage is worth the price any theater ticket.

Though Michelle Williams is a brilliant actress, I wasn't sold on her as Sally Bowles when I first heard that she'd be starring in this revival. However, once you see and hear her rendition of the title song (i.e. "Cabaret"), you too will have no other option but to take off your hat to this woman-she made this part her own like the pro that she is.

To make a long story short, GO GET YOUR TICKETS AND SEE CABARET! You will not regret it.  Let this brilliant production take you on a roller-coaster of emotions that you will not soon forget.

Let me know how you like it ('cause you will!).


March 18, 2014
For me, the decision to become an independently published author was never an easy one; in addition to the stigma attached, you're also completely on your own. This, of course, is partly a good thing (and also partly why I decided to stick to this route to begin with--for the independence of it!), but at times, it is downright lonely. That's why, when you meet talent you want to work with, you are grateful. At least I am. When I was first told about Rahul Philip and was shown his work, I was giddy with excitement. But it was when I saw what he was capable of creating based on whatever disorganized ideas I was rapidly throwing at him,  I was sold! He created covers for my first two published novellas and we are presently working on the cover for my upcoming novel--"Joe After Maya." You simply must check out his site: http://www.rahulphilip.com/

February 20, 2014
Outlining, writing, editing, whatever it is I am doing, I usually have some music on. Lately, I've been on a serious Dido kick. Her poetry and music get me in the right state of mind for what I'm drafting next. Here, enjoy one of my favorite songs: It Comes and It Goes

February 16, 2014
SALE!!!
Now, who doesn't like those? Tomorrow (February 17th) and Tuesday (February 18th) you will be able to download my book for only $1.99 for your Kindle reading pleasure. Act fast because this deal will only last two days! Spread the word and happy reading! One Year in Berlin/Foreign Bride is available only on Amazon.

January 23, 2014
I'm always curious to know what other people are reading. I, actually, just finished reading Chelsea Bellingeri's very first book--New England Witch Chronicles. I've waited a while to read this one, given that I don't usually read YA books (or books about the paranormal). Now, however, I am sorry that I've waited this long. This book is very engaging and you really get sucked into the story from the very first chapter. I can't wait to know more about Alexandria, so I'm buying Book 2 ASAP.

January 15, 2014
I'm in charge of selecting three titles out of which my book club will pick its next month's book. How do you find a good book? You can ask friends, skim through book reviews in newspapers and magazines, poke around Amazon and/or Goodreads. Unfortunately, indie authors aren't as aggressively marketed as those backed by large publishing houses; because of this, they are often overlooked.  Enter Indie Author Land. I love this site! It's a great place where you can read hundreds of interviews with indie authors and perhaps find your next favorite book. They even have a new section where you can find free or discounted books! How neat is that?!
I did an interview with this great service a few months ago. Check it out!

January 7, 2014
I hate typos! More than those pesky things, I hate outright grammatical errors. For example, "then" and "than" are different words; "you're" and "your" are also quite different. Surely people know this.
Unfortunately (or maybe fortunately), we are all human and some of these seep through our work and effort every once in a while.
I try to do my very best to put only the cleanest of clean drafts out there for the reading public (which is not to say that I always succeed). Often, I choose to rely on this terrific blog to keep me proper--Grammar Girl! It is absolutely the best! Grammar Girl's posts are always so helpful and fun to read. And the tips really are quick and easy to remember. Thank you, Grammar Girl!

December 21, 2013
2013 is coming to a close, so it's time for make some lists, do some summing up.
Here is my year in fiction books.
I read quite a few good ones this year but Night Film by Marisha Pessl was my absolute favorite!

-The Day of the Jackal, Frederick Forsyth
-Reconstructing Amelia, Kimberly McCreight
-The Dinner, Herman Koch
-Crazy Rich Asians, Kevin Kwan
-The Cuckoo's Calling, Robert Galbraith
-Night Film, Marisha Pessl
-Mad About the Boy, Helen Fielding
-Eyes in This World, Ray Melnik
-Fire Witness, Lars Kepler

I hope that 2014 will bring us some more wonderful reads!


December 17, 2013
Music--is there a richer source of inspiration out there?
There are multiple artists, and countless songs, that have served as inspiration to me in one way or another over the years. This list is always growing, expanding, but you have to start somewhere. So I'll start with Darren Hayes, whose voice and lyrics have always resonated with me. In fact, Savage Garden was my first concert as a teenager--Beacon Theatre, NYC, August of 1998.
Mr. Hayes' third solo album-"This Delicate Thing We've Made" -makes my heart swell.
Here is a YouTube link to Step Into the Light--one of the many songs by this genius artist that ignites my imagination.