Books are food for my soul! Pull up a beach chair and stick your toes in the sand as the Jersey surf rolls in and out, now open your book and let your imagination take you away.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Absinthe Doesn't Make The Heart Grow Fonder by Holly Kerr (Author Interview / Book Review / Contest Giveaway)

In association with Chick Lit Plus Blog Tours, Jersey Girl Book Reviews is pleased to host the virtual book tour event for Absinthe Doesn't Make The Heart Grow Fonder by Author Holly Kerr!

Author Interview

Welcome to Jersey Girl Book Reviews, Holly!

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

Thanks for having me on your blog!!

A little about me - I live in chilly Toronto with my hubby and three kids. Absinthe Doesn’t Make the Heart Grow Fonder is my third book; my previous novels are Unexpecting (formerly Baby! Baby? Baby?!) and Coming Home. I love all things related to Star Wars, superheroes and anything Joss Whedon is involved in, which makes me a bit of a geek, but my son thinks it’s cool! I also like to run, play in the dirt and enjoy a nice glass of wine while cooking dinner.

How long have you been a writer?

I’ve been a writer for as long I’ve been able to write, when I first started putting the stories I told myself in my head down on paper. But I’ve been an author since 2012, with my first book, Baby! Baby? Baby?!came out. ( I changed the title of Baby! to Unexpecting last year)

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

I’ve been fortunate enough to be able to stay at home with my kids, with the exception of a short part-time stint when I worked in a bookstore. FYI – best ever job for a writer/book lover!! But now that my kids are full time in school and pretty self-sufficient, I’ve been focusing on my writing career.

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

I had a great English teacher in high school who played a big part in inspiring me to write and practice my skills. I should say something about how my family inspires me and they do, but the biggest inspiration comes from other writers. Maybe its envy or my competitive spirit, but when I read something that moves me – makes me laugh or cry or just sticks in my head – I get inspired. I want to do that too! It doesn’t have to be books – I’ve been inspired by television and movies. Joss Whedon is a huge inspiration for me. I love his dialogue and his characters. Every time I watch The Avengers, I’m inspired by him all over again.

A few years ago when idea of self-publishing had become popular, another writer asked if I wanted to leave all my unread work sitting there forever. I had been working with an agent but had broken off because we wanted different things for my book. So my journey as a writer was inspired by this other unnamed writer and began with my monumental, terrifying as poop decision to self-publish my novel Baby!. Even though I decided on a small press to publish my second book Coming Home. I went back to self-publishing for Absinthe because I like the control.

Please give a brief description/storyline about Absinthe Doesn’t Make the Heart Grow Fonder.

Absinthe Doesn’t Make the Heart Grow Fonder takes place during one night. It’s Josie’s 40th birthday and her friends Lana, Meredith and Poppy are taking her out for a night on the town. The friendships have become strained over the years as each of the women have their own worries and concerns but after a few drinks, the four begin to reconnect. Drinking, dancing – it’s like it was back when they were young. And then the secrets start to come out, secrets that have already begun to crack their relationship. And then something bad happens.

What was the inspiration for this story?

I was inspired by my own 40th birthday, and wanting a night out like Josie and her friends have. Without the bad parts though!

How did it feel to have your first book published?

Having my first book published was an amazing feeling. The only time I’ve felt more pride was when my kids were born! I cried the first time I held it. And I had to stop myself from hugging my mailman when he delivered it!

Do you write books for a specific genre?

I set out to write women’s fiction but my writing style – easy, informal - is more chick lit. I write for women, although men have read and enjoyed it!

What genres are your favorite(s)? What are some of your favorite books that you have read and why?

I will read anything that interests me, from YA to NA romance, thrillers to historical fiction to fantasy. I can’t say what genre is my favourite because I love so many of them. Some of my favourite books are Pride and Prejudice, the Harry Potter series, Rivals by Jilly Cooper, V by A. C. Crispin. They’re all over the place - I guess I like variety!

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

My computer is set up in the living room, right by the window so I can distract myself by watching people walk by and checking out my garden. It’s so sunny in the afternoon but it gets a little cold in the winter!

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

I really have no clue! Something will strike my imagination and it takes off running! Absinthe came about when a girlfriend mentioned going out for her birthday and the story just started coming together. I know the idea is something I have to explore when the characters start creating themselves!

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

I’m not sure if I have a strict work schedule, but it does revolve around my kids. I work best when they aren’t around to distract me! I’m a morning person, so I like to get up early and get started before they are awake. I also need some time to plan out what I’d be working on during the day; what scene to start with, what will happen to the characters. I don’t like to plan out every aspects of my books because my characters tend to do what they want but I like to have a basic idea about what’s going to happen and when.

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

I love creating characters. It’s my favourite aspect of storytelling. And I like writing dialogue. What I struggle with is showing what’s going on in my character’s heads. I know what’s going on, and I forget not everyone knows the characters as well as I do!!

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

When I’m not writing, I like to spend time with my family. I love to read, and watch movies; I like to garden and I’m training for my first marathon so I like to run.

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

Best piece of writing advice? I think everything in Stephen King’s On Writing! But what I keep repeating to myself is Show Don’t Tell.

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

The most gratifying thing I get from writing is when someone talks to me about one of my books I’ve written. And not just a cursory ‘I liked it.’ The best feeling when someone talks to me about one of the characters, or a scene in the book and they’re excited about it. To be able to provoke an emotion in someone – whether I make them laugh, or have them love to hate a character – there’s nothing like it. I wish I could talk to more of my readers about what they thought about my stories.

How do you usually communicate with your readers/fans?

I love it when readers contact me via my website

Is there anything in your book based on real life experiences or are they purely all from your imagination?

Some of the places the girls visited in the book are based on real places in Toronto; drinking absinthe with friends also really happened! And the boys from the bar are based on two of my former co-workers!

What authors have been your inspiration or influenced you to become a writer?

Reading Judy Blume when I was younger gave me something to aspire to. My friends and I read all of her books and we’d talk about them. It’s not like I wanted to write YA or Middle Grade books, but I wanted to impact someone like Judy Blume did for me. As an adult, I’m inspired by Joss Whedon, who writes for television and movies.

What is your definition of success as a writer?

If I manage to touch one reader with the words I’ve written, that’s a success for me! For years I wrote without anyone ever reading my stories and for me to have people read my books – that’s pretty good for me!

Are you currently writing a new book? If yes, would you care to share a bit of it with us?

I’m currently working on two books. The first one is a chick-lit/thriller about a former secret agent called back to duty, but with no memory of her past life. It’s called The Secret Life of Charlotte Dodd. The second one is a New Adult romance, which is a new genre for me. It’s about a girl grieving about a lost love and torn between her past and her future. I’m still working on the title for that one.

Thanks so much for having me on your blog!!

Thank you Holly for visiting Jersey Girl Book Reviews, and for sharing some things about yourself and your writing career!

About The Author

Holly Kerr writes contemporary women's fiction/chick-lit/romance and doesn't particularly enjoy talking about herself in third person.

Her books include Coming HomeUnexpecting and Absinthe Doesn't Make the Heart Grow Fonder. She lives in Toronto with her husband and three kids. She doesn't consider herself a typical chick-lit writer since loves everything about Star Wars, Harry Potter, Joss Whedon and has a thing for superheroes; however a story about falling for a superhero might be interesting for her to write. When she's not writing, she likes to play in the dirt in her garden and enjoy a glass of wine while cooking, although she's trying to cut back while she's training for a marathon.

If you require more information about Holly and her books feel free to visit her website or follow her blog. At times she discusses the craft of writing but usually she muses about her life and what's she reading, writing or watching. Holly hopes you enjoy her books and she welcomes a chance to interact with her readers, but not in any creepy way. A simple comment "Hey, I really like/don't like..." would be a lovely way to begin a conversation.

Author Website
Amazon Author Page

Book Review

Absinthe Doesn't Make The Heart Grow Fonder by Holly Kerr
Publisher: Independent Self Publishing
Publication Date: February 10, 2015
Format: Paperback - 319 pages
             Kindle - 2368 KB
ISBN: 978-1507633847
Genre: Chick Lit / Women's Fiction

Buy The Book: Absinthe Doesn't Make The Heart Grow Fonder

Disclaimer: I received a copy of the book from the author in exchange for my honest review and participation in a virtual book tour event hosted by Chick Lit Plus Blog Tours.

Book Description:

What would you do for your friends?

What could be more fun than celebrating your fortieth with your three BFF's?

Josie sets off with Lana, Poppy and Meredith for an evening celebrating her birthday with the best intentions. Dinner, dancing and a little drinking.

A little more drinking, in a few questionable locations. It's good to catch up with the girls. But then...

Josie realizes her husband isn’t cheating on her, but Poppy won’t talk about the fact that her husband is. Lana won’t talk about her ex, Ted and Meredith is trying to hide something.

The secrets start to come out.

And then something bad happens.

Secrets can really ruin a friendship.

Book Excerpt:

How far would you go for a friend?

“You’ve got something there,” I told Lana, pointing to where she had something stuck between her teeth. We stood outside the door of Thrice restaurant, waiting for Poppy and Meredith to show up, or at least for the throng inside the door to move to allow us to get in out of the cold.

Lana worked the seed with her tongue. “Got it?”

“No, still there.” The height difference between Lana and I was so extreme if I stood on my tiptoes, I was still only thisclose to being eye level with her mouth. Not that I often felt the need to examine her mouth but it would be nice not to continually have to crane my neck to speak to her, or dislodge foreign objects from her teeth. We were both to blame; Lana was a tall, big-boned woman and I was vertically challenged.

“Get it for me,” Lana urged, thrusting her chin down. With a flick of my nail, I extracted the tiny black seed and showed it to her. “Thanks.” With a glance over my shoulder, her usual cheerful expression darkened. “Shit, I can’t believe she brought him!”

I glanced behind me. Poppy was walking towards us with what might have been an attempt to smile, but came across as more of an awkward grimace. From the outside, Poppy and Kent Carter were the true definition of a golden couple – happy, wealthy and beautiful. On the inside, things were very different.

“He’s not staying,” I hissed, through my own forced smile.

“I can’t talk to him. Or her. I have no idea what to say to her,” Lana confessed.

“Just act like nothing’s wrong.” I spun to greet them and hoped my smile could pass for genuine. “You made it!” To cover the strained gaiety, I hugged Poppy but then after a brief pause, I had to hug Kent as well.

“Happy birthday,” Kent said.

“You’re not allowed,” Lana said, her rude tone offset by a playfully pointed finger at Kent. “Girls only.”

“You won’t let me play with you for even a little bit?” Kent wheedled, the only man I knew who could make whining sound attractive. “I’ll sit quietly. I’ll be good.”

He ignored the couple walking by, even with their obvious attempts to get his attention. “That’s Kent Carter,” the woman said excitedly. “From Dragon’s Lair. I bet that’s his wife.”

“Who knows?” the man replied. “He’s got women all over the place.” I thought for a moment he was going to push through us to fist-bump Kent with a gesture of male approval and the admiration in his voice brought a pained expression to Poppy’s face.

I took her arm to move her closer to me, with her back to the street. “Sorry, Kent. My birthday – my girls. I said no to Duncan and I’m saying no to you. Just Poppy tonight. And Lana and Meredith, of course.”

My Book Review:

You never know what's going to happen when four BFFs get together to celebrate a fortieth birthday ... What should have been a fun night of eating, drinking, and dancing, turns into something more for these lifelong friends when a lot of drinking has a way of bringing secrets, fears, issues, and insecurities to the surface ...

Absinthe Doesn't Make The Heart Grow Fonder is an entertaining tale set in Toronto that follows four best friends: Josie, Lana, Poppy, and Meredith, over the course of an evening spent celebrating Josie's fortieth birthday. Told in an alternating first person narrative by the four women, the reader follows the four best friends' tradition of celebrating their birthdays together, but over the years it has become increasingly hard for them to get together, so this year Josie is desperate to keep the tradition alive, only to have tension, drama, buried secrets, and personal issues revealed that will ultimately test their bonds of friendship.

I really enjoyed reading this story, it has a wonderful mixture of humor, drama, tension, and intrigue that only women friends are capable of sharing with one another. You can't help but get drawn into these four women's stories as their night out unfolds with flashbacks and conversations that bring unexpected secrets and truths to the surface when drinking is added into the mix. The style of writing is clever, it draws the reader into the circle of friends as they listen to the various topics that are brought up during the night, you can't help but wonder what will be revealed next! And just when you think that you got all the women's stories straight, the author throws in an unexpected twist of an ending that will leave you shaking your head and wondering what the hell just happened!

Absinthe Doesn't Make The Heart Grow Fonder is an exhilarating roller coaster ride of a tale that could only be told when four women best friends get together for a girl's night out!


Contest Giveaway

Win A $50 Amazon Gift Card

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Virtual Book Tour

Tour Schedule:

February 23 - SamanthaMarch – Excerpt
February 27 - Writer’sCorner – Review
March 4 - Authorsto Watch – Excerpt
March 5 - TwoChildren and a Migraine – Review
March 6 - Chick Lit Plus – Review
March 10 - LivingLife With Joy – Q&A & Excerpt
March 12 - ChristyHerself – Review
March 13 - Ogitchida’sKwe’s Book Blog – Excerpt
March 16 - Jersey Girl Book Reviews – Review, Q&A & Excerpt
March 18 - Chick Lit Plus – Review
March 19 - Book Referees – Excerpt
March 20 - Reeca’s Pieces – Review
March 23 - Polished & Bubbly - Review


  1. Thanks for the review and the interview!! So glad you enjoyed it!! :)

    1. Hi Holly! Thank you for the opportunity to host your book tour. I loved reading this story, it kept me riveted all the way to the shocking end! :)