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Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Cocktail Hour by Tara Mc Tiernan (Author Interview / Book Review / Contest Giveaway)

Jersey Girl Book Reviews welcomes Tara McTiernan, author of Cocktail Hour!

Author Interview

Welcome to Jersey Girl Book Reviews, Tara!

Before we get to the interview, can you tell our readers a little bit about yourself?

Hello everyone! Thank you for hosting me today, Kathleen. It's an honor to be featured on your blog!

A little about me: I grew up in Greenwich, Connecticut, and spent the summers of my youth on a small island in the Great South Bay on Long Island. Both Fairfield County, Connecticut and Long Island have served as the setting for my novels as well as my short stories. My debut novel came out last year, Barefoot Girls, and my latest novel, Cocktail Hour, was released in March of this year. I live with my husband in Raleigh, North Carolina.

How long have you been a writer?

I've been writing and telling stories since I was around eight years old and a voracious reader before that. I think they feed each other. I remember my fourth grade teacher Mrs. Hannigan very well: she was the first teacher to give me creative writing assignments and the first person to tell me I should be a writer.

Do you have a day job, or is being an author your career?

Yes, I have a day job as an office manager/executive assistant. That background was called on a lot while writing Cocktail Hour, many of the characters working in administrative positions.

What inspired you to become a writer? Describe your journey as a writer.

Other writers' great stories inspired me most. I wanted to be able to transport readers through storytelling the same way I'd been transported. My journey has had a lot of stops and starts. I wrote my first novel when I was in my early twenties (now securely in a trunk and never to be published due to its poor quality). I wrote many short stories both in school and after graduating college. My novel, Barefoot Girls, was published last year and enjoyed many positive reviews - including one right here on Jersey Girl Book Reviews! Cocktail Hour is my latest published work and I'm looking forward to hearing readers' reactions.

Please give a brief description/storyline about Cocktail Hour.

It's about a cocktail-clique of five women in Fairfield County, CT (also known as the Gold Coast) who are unaware that one of their friends is a sociopath. The story details how Bianca Rossi, the socialite-sociopath, secretly pursues her friend's husband, obsessed and willing to do anything - and I mean anything - to catch him. Bianca's manipulations and abuses escalate as the story continues, leading to a deadly confrontation.

What was the inspiration for this story?

I've always loved stories about women's friendships. I've also always been fascinated by sociopaths. Then I thought, why not put those two things together and see what happens?

How did it feel to have your first book published?

Thrilling, but also very scary. That's your baby out there, and it's hard to let it go and allow readers make up their own minds.

Do you write books for a specific genre?

Women's fiction is my genre, but I'm seriously considering branching out into contemporary romance as well.

What genres are your favorite(s)?

I love women's fiction, of course. As well, I adore contemporary romance, family sagas, literary fiction, as well as horror and thrillers. My tastes run the gamut!

Do you have a special spot/area where you like to do your writing?

Yes, I write at my desk only (unless I'm traveling) and only on my computer, never longhand.

How do you come up with the ideas that become the storyline for your books?

All kinds of ways - out of the blue, while brainstorming, while at a concert, driving down the road, etc. This is why I always have a pen and some kind of paper with me!

When you write, do you adhere to a strict work schedule, or do you work whenever the inspiration strikes?

I write every morning for an hour. I take one day off a week to rest and to keep myself from becoming obsessed (which happens very easily). If you wait for inspiration, you'll never write much.

What aspects of storytelling do you like the best, and what aspects do you struggle with the most?

I love dialogue and description. Plotting, on the other hand, is hard. I struggle and use lots of notes and some outlining to find my way.

What are your favorite things to do when you are not writing?

I love to cook and bake. I enjoy hiking and the great outdoors. And I'm a huge reader, so I'm always reading something.

What is/was the best piece of writing advice that you have received?

Read a lot and write a lot. Write without thinking about it too much and getting bogged down by your own fears. Trust the inner storyteller and your subconscious.

What is the most gratifying thing you feel or get as a writer?

That moment when you're writing and you're in the flow and the story is unfurling effortlessly before you. Whoa, what a rush!

How do you usually communicate with your readers/fans?

I correspond via email as well as my newsletter. I also participate in groups on GoodReads and MobileReads.

Are you currently writing a new book?

Yes, I'm working on my fourth book while my third "cools". I like to leave a book alone for awhile and work on something else so that when I return to the first draft, it's fresh and I can see what needs to be fixed as well as what works. One funny thing I've found out as I've written more is that it never gets easier. You think, "Wow, I've written and published a novel. Now I know what I'm doing!" That couldn't be more wrong. I learn things every day. I guess I'll never know "it all"!

Thank you for visiting Jersey Girl Book Reviews, Tara! Thank you for sharing a bit about yourself and your writing career with us! 

About The Author

Tara McTiernan grew up in Greenwich, Connecticut, and spent the summers of her youth on a small island in the Great South Bay on Long Island. Both Fairfield County, Connecticut and Long Island have served as the setting for her novels and short stories.

A voracious reader known to complete a book in a single sitting as a child, Tara became well known to her hometown’s librarians as she had a terrible addiction to certain books – re-reading them and continually checking them out until her parents had to be called in and limits set to the number of times she was allowed to take out a book. “Other children would like to have a chance to read this book, too,” she was told to her great consternation. To this day, there are certain books Tara will not lend out to others as she has to have them on hand at all times.

Although Tara started writing fiction as a child, finishing her first novel at the age of twenty-four, her work started and stalled for years due to the demands of her career in corporate office management. In spite of this, many of her short stories saw publication in literary magazines. In her early forties, she picked back up where she left off, completing her novel Barefoot Girls which was published in 2012.

Tara’s latest novel, Cocktail Hour, was released in March of 2013. She lives with her husband, Ash, in Raleigh, North Carolina.


Book Review

Cocktail Hour by Tara McTiernan
Publisher: Bramblevine Press
Publication Date: March 11, 2013
Format: Paperback - 339 pages / Kindle - 824 KB
ISBN: 1482735962
Genre: Women's Fiction

BUY THE BOOK: Cocktail Hour

Disclaimer: I received a copy of the book from the author in exchange for my honest review.

Book Description:

What if your friend, someone admired, envied, and fervently sought after by everyone who knew her, was really a dangerous sociopath?

Spring in glamorous uber-rich Fairfield County, Connecticut is a time of beginnings: a new diet for the approaching summer spent out on the yacht, fresh-faced interns being offered up at the office as the seasonal sacrifice to the gods of money, and corporate takeovers galore. Five women in their thirties have a brand-new friendship, too, one that is fed and watered regularly at local hotspots over cocktails. With all of their personal struggles - Lucie's new catering business is foundering due to vicious gossip, Kate's marriage is troubled due to an inability to conceive, Chelsea's series of misses in the romance department have led to frantic desperation, and Sharon's career problems are spinning out of control - the women look forward to a break and a drink and a chance to let their guards down with their friends. And letting their guards down is the last thing they should do in the kind of company they unknowingly keep with the fifth member of their cocktail-clique: Bianca Rossi, a woman who will stop at nothing to have it all.

Book Excerpt:

Sharon picked up her drink and turned to Dean trying to figure out a way to thank him and get away quickly. “Thank you. You really didn’t have to buy me a drink. It was nice of you.”

Dean smiled, his lean horsey face widening, “But of course I did! You know...I know I make a lot of noise some nights, and you never complain. You’re like the world’s greatest neighbor, or something.”

Sharon’s breath caught. He knew he was keeping her up? And he kept on doing it? She stared at him, rendered mute by shock and then flooding anger. He knew. The whole time. He probably also knew how early she had to be at work, saw her car pull out of her driveway in the pale creeping light of early morning.

"Ooo," he said, eyes bugging out a little, both hands going up in mock surrender. "That's not a good look. Have I kept you awake?"

Sharon put her drink back down on the bar and turned to him. Keeping her voice low and steady she said, "What do you think?"

He opened his mouth and looked like he was thinking hard, his eyes going back and forth, searching for an answer.

Sharon didn't wait. "If you knew you were being loud, why didn't you keep it down? Do you know how hard it is to sleep when a bunch of screaming people fooling around on a trampoline keep waking you up all night? Two am? Three am? Sometimes I don't even bother trying to go back to sleep, especially when it's already four and I have to be up soon. I just make coffee and suffer through the day."

Dean's mouth was opening and closing like a fish. Finally he managed, "I, I didn't-"

"No, I really don't want to hear it. And thanks but no thanks for the drink. I can buy my own," Sharon said, spun on her heel, and stalked away through the crowded bar, slowing and turning sideways to edge through groupings of strivers when they blocked her path. She was going home. She'd call Chelsea once she got there to explain. The company directory with her co-worker's phone number on it was in her work folder filed under 'T' in her home office's filing cabinet. She'd take some Advil for her headache after all.

Pushing through yet another cluster of men near the door, she almost slammed right into Chelsea, who was posed by the door, hip cocked, in another one of her expensive-looking outfits. Chelsea's expression, a manufactured one of disdain and oh-so-coolness, brightened and became more natural seeing her co-worker. "Sharon! There you are!"

Sharon, stumbling to a stop, raised her hands up, palms out. “I’m sorry, Chelsea, but I’m out of here.”

Chelsea’s face crumpled, her lower lip popping out. “No! But…I was so excited to hang with you? Please? Pretty pretty please? With sugar and ice cream on top?”

Sharon shook her head, but felt herself giving in just looking at the girl she had grown to genuinely like. Under the blond bimbo exterior was a smart girl whose whip-sharp observations regularly caught Sharon off-guard. At the same time Chelsea had a sweet and helpless side, reminding Sharon of a little wide-eyed kitten. Chelsea had "help me" written all over her, her good heart being her biggest weakness and making her target for the users in the world. She brought out Sharon's protective instincts. “Oh. I don’t know. Okay. One drink. One. Then I’m out of here.”

“Goody-goody-goody!” Chelsea said, bopping up and down and bringing her hands together to patter them quickly against each other in a mini-clap.

“Okay, don’t get too excited. I’m not that much fun.”

“Oh, yes you are! You are the coolest. All right. Now we have to get a drink. I’m buying. Well, unless we can find some gentlemen here who want to buy them for us,” Chelsea said, straightening up and trying to put on the cool act again unsuccessfully, one eyebrow arched as she peered at crowd around the bar.

“No way. I’ll buy my own drink, thank you. I just had a very unpleasant experience I’d like not to repeat.”

“What? What happened!”

“Please. I don’t want to talk about it. Let’s just go to that end of the bar,” Sharon said, pointing at the opposite end of the bar from where Dean was sitting.

“Really? You don’t want to talk about it?”

“Trust me.”

“Okay?” Chelsea said in a doubtful voice and shrugged. “I want a strawberry daiquiri. I wonder if they make those here? And you’re letting me buy you a drink. I dragged you out here. It’s the least I can do.”

“Fine. Just no men.”

“You’re funny,” Chelsea said, shaking her head wonderingly while starting to move ahead through the crowd, staring at particularly handsome men and turning her head quickly when they glanced her way.

“I’m a regular laugh-riot,” Sharon said wryly, following.

Once they had their drinks, Sharon at last holding her anticipated martini and Chelsea holding a raspberry-flavored cocktail that was the closest thing to a strawberry daiquiri that the bar offered, Chelsea raised hers in a toast. “To finally getting together for drinks! At last!”

“Here’s mud in your eye,” Sharon said, raising her glass up and then pouring half of her drink down her throat.

“Whoa! You can really drink that thing,” Chelsea said, her already-large blue eyes growing huge.

“Only when a nail is being pounded right through my forehead,” Sharon said and sighed, feeling the pleasant burning sensation of the vodka hitting her stomach and then spreading like a warm fog through her body. 

Chelsea took a tiny sip of her bright-red candied-looking drink that was also in a martini glass. “Mmmm, this is good! Not a strawberry daiquiri, but close. Wait. What? You have a headache?”

“Not anymore. Or I won’t in a few minutes. Nothing like a libation to smooth out the wrinkles of life,” Sharon said and took another sip. She knew she should probably slow down, but it just felt so good, especially after the afternoon she’d had. She would just have this one – she still had to drive home.

Just then it was as if a breeze had passed through the room, a whispering wave of movement. Sharon looked up from her glass to see a striver nearby curling his upper lip with lust and staring at the entrance. She turned to look. A drop-dead gorgeous woman with long flowing dark hair wearing a fire-engine-red dress that hugged enviable curves was poised with her hand on her hip just inside the door. The group of women clustered at the door had all drawn back, as if not wanting to have their attractiveness compared to the woman’s – which was understandable as they would all fall pathetically short.

“Oh! Good!” Chelsea trilled. “It’s Bianca! Now the party’s really starting.”

Sharon turned to look at Chelsea. Chelsea was friends with this arresting and somewhat haughty-looking woman? It seemed an unlikely pairing. “You know her?”

“Sure! We went to Stamford High together. We’ve been friends for…ever?”

The woman had spotted them and was crossing through the packed room toward them, her walk smooth and slinking like a cat’s. The crowd continued to peel back for her, the striver-sea parting. Sharon wanted to shake her head. She’d never seen anything like it: this universal visceral reaction to a person.

My Book Review:

Cocktail Hour is an intriguing story that revolves around five very different women, who form a cocktail-clique in chic Fairfield County, Connecticut. This eclectic group of women come together for a weekly night of relaxation, socializing, and sharing of what's going on in their lives. While their lives intertwine and a bond of friendship forms, it is overshadowed by the clever and smooth deception of one of them who is a dangerous sociopath. What starts out as a weekly girls night out for cocktail hour turns out to be more than just girlfriends getting together ...

Author Tara McTiernan pulls out all the stops in this dramatic and suspenseful tale written in the third person narrative that alternates between the perspectives of the five women who form the cocktail-clique. The reader is immediately drawn into the lives of Bianca, Lucie, Chelsea, Sharon and Kate. The author cleverly alternates between the individual women's stories with chapters named after their favorite drink: Mojito (Bianca), Chardonnay (Lucie), Strawberry Daiquiri (Chelsea), Vodka Martini (Sharon) and Corona (Kate). The chapters flows smoothly in this fast pace riveting tale, the author does a great job of providing backstories on each of the women and intertwining it with the current issues in their lives, all the while steadily building anticipation with every dramatic twist and turn of Bianca's warped schemes to get what she wants at the cost of the other four women.

The characters are all realistic, strong, down-to-earth, fun-loving yet flawed bunch of women, except Bianca who is in a class of her own. It is easy to relate to each of the women, they all are living their lives with issues to overcome and dreams they want to pursue, but they unwittingly get drawn into the deceitful web of a clever sociopath who is very smooth, engaging and appealing. There is no end to Bianca's deviousness, from a subtle catty behavior to her dangerous scheming, she preys on and exposes the weaknesses of the other four women to her warped and twisted advantage. Bianca is the type of woman that everyone loves to hate, and who wouldn't blame them?! This story makes one think about their friends ... there is always one in the crowd that is "out there" ... but if you can't trust your friends, then who can you trust? hmmm....

The author does a wonderful job of creating a storyline that is filled with family and friendship dynamics, drama, suspense, love, loss, romance and betrayal. She easily weaves a tale that is emotionally charged and has so many intriguing twists and turns that the reader better buckle up for one heck of a wicked roller coaster ride.

Cocktail Hour is a compelling and thoroughly engrossing story that will leave the reader pondering about their own friendships.


eBook Contest Giveaway

Win 1 of 5 eBook Copies of Cocktail Hour

Contest Dates: May 8-13, 2013

Author Tara McTiernan is giving away five (5) eBook copies of her novel, Cocktail Hour, to five (5) lucky winners! To enter the eBook Contest Giveaway, Utilize the Rafflecopter entry form below! The winners will have a choice of the following eBook formats: prc/.mobi, epub, and PDF. The five (5) winners will be notified via email by author Tara McTiernan. Good Luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


  1. Thank you again, Kathleen, for hosting me today! So happy to be on your fabulous blog and have a chance to connect with your readers!

    1. Hi Tara! Thank you for the opportunity to read, review and host your virtual book event. I really enjoyed reading this story. :)

  2. Great interview. I loved the question about having a day job. I always tend to think that being an author is the day job. I never consider that the author may have another job too.

    1. Hi Lisa! Thank you for stopping by and visiting with Tara. :)

  3. Hi Lisa! Oh, how I wish I could write full-time! Someday, hopefully...a girl can dream :)