"No one can be lonely who has a book for company." ~ Nelle Reagan

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Happy Halloween - bookish style

More amazing book art!  

(Of course, I recommend recycling an older, thrift store find for a project like this.)

Happy Halloween!!

Congratulations to Will Ferguson. author of 419, Winner of the Scotiabank Giller Prize!!!

The following was written of the winning book, 419, by the jury:

"Will Ferguson's 419 points in the direction of something entirely new: the Global Novel. It is a novel emotionally and physically at home in the poverty of Lagos and in the day-to-day of North America. It tells us the ways in which we are now bound together and reminds us of the things that will always keep us apart. It brings us the news of the world far beyond the sad, hungry faces we see on CNN and CBC and far beyond the spreadsheets of our pension plans. Ferguson is a true travel writer, his eye attuned to the last horrible detail. He is also a master at dialogue and suspense. It is tempting to put 419 in some easy genre category, but that would only serve to deny its accomplishment and its genius."

Will Ferguson is a travel writer and novelist  and has authored several award-winning memoirs, including Beyond BelfastHitching Rides with Buddha, and the humorous anecdotal collection Canadian Pie. His novels include Spanish Fly, Happiness™, and 419. Will has been nominated for both an IMPAC Dublin Award and a Commonwealth Writers Prize and is a three-time winner of the Leacock Medal.  Published in more than 20 languages around the world, one might say even his written works are well traveled.

Congratulations Will Ferguson!!!!
For more information visit CBC Books.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Teaser Tuesday - The End of Your LIfe Book Club by Will Shwalbe

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading
. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:
• Grab your current read
• Open to a random page
• Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
• BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
• Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

“When I was finished, I looked around at Mom and Dad's bedroom - and at Mom, resting relatively peacefully, but with that rasping breath that means there isn't much time left. She was surrounded by books - a wall of bookshelves, books on her night table, a book beside her. Here were...and the Bible. They were Mom's companions and teachers. They had shown her the way. And she was able to look at them as she readied herself for the life everlasting that she knew awaited her. What comfort could be gained from staring at my lifeless e-reader?  I also noted a special pile of books. They were to be the next ones for our book club. There were in their own small stack, separate from the others.”

Ok, this quote is more than two sentences but the sentence I wanted to use about the e-reader makes most sense in context with the paragraph.  

So far, I am really enjoying this memoir.  If you love books, and I know you all do, this is a great one to pick up for the literal exploration of books as mother and son share their love of books, reading and discussing various novels and non-fiction while the mother received treatment for cancer.  Just be sure to have a few tissues ready.

Monday, October 29, 2012

The Winner of the Scotia Bank Giller Prize to be Announced October 30.12. Introducing the Short List Finalists:

Author:  Alix Ohlin
Summary:  "When Grace, an exceedingly competent and devoted therapist in Montreal, stumbles across a man who has just failed to hang himself, her instinct to help kicks in immediately. Before long, however, she realizes that her feelings for this charismatic, extremely guarded stranger are far from straightforward. In the meantime, her troubled teenage patient, Annie, runs away from home and soon will reinvent herself in New York as an aspiring and ruthless actress, as unencumbered as humanly possible by 
any personal attachments. And Mitch, Grace’s ex-husband, who is a therapist as well, leaves the woman he’s desperately in love with to attend to a struggling native community in the bleak Arctic. We follow these four compelling, complex characters from Montreal and New York to Hollywood and Rwanda, each of them with a consciousness that is utterly distinct and urgently convincing. With razor-sharp emotional intelligence,Inside poignantly explores the many dangers as well as the imperative of making ourselves available to—and responsible for—those dearest to us." (from GoodReads)

Whirl Away
Author:  Russell Wangersky
Summary:  "In his new short story collection, Whirl Away, Russell Wangersky—author of critically-acclaimed fiction and non-fiction including The Glass Harmonica, Burning Down the House: Fighting Fires and Losing Myself and The Hour of Bad Decisions— looks at what happens when people’s personal coping skills go awry. These are people who discover their anchor-chain has broken: characters safe in the world of self-deception or even selfdelusion, forced to face the fact that their main line of defense has become their greatest weakness." (GoodReads)

Author:  Kim Thuy
Summary: "Ru. In Vietnamese it means lullaby; in French it is a small stream, but also signifies a flow - of tears, blood, money. Kim Thúy's Ru is literature at its most crystalline: the flow of a life on the tides of unrest and on to more peaceful waters. In vignettes of exquisite clarity, sharp observation and sly wit, we are carried along on an unforgettable journey from a palatial residence in Saigon to a crowded and muddy Malaysian refugee camp, and onward to a new life in Quebec. There, the young girl feels the embrace of a new community, and revels in the chance to be part of the American Dream. As an adult, the waters become rough again: now a mother of two sons, she must learn to shape her love around the younger boy's autism. Moving seamlessly from past to present, from history to memory and back again, Ru is a book that celebrates life in all its wonder: its moments of beauty and sensuality, brutality and sorrow, comfort and comedy." (Amazon.ca)

The Imposter Bride
Author:  Nancy Richler
Summary:  When a young, enigmatic woman arrives in post-war Montreal, it is immediately clear that she is not who she claims to be. Her attempt to live out her life as Lily Azerov shatters as she disappears, leaving a new husband and baby daughter, and a host of unanswered questions. Who is she really and what happened to the young woman whose identity she has stolen? Why has she left and where did she go? It is left to the daughter she abandoned to find the answers to these questions as she searches for the mother she may never find or really know." (GoodReads)

Author:  Will Ferguson
Summary:  "From internationally bestselling travel writer Will Ferguson, author of Happiness™ and Spanish Fly, comes a novel both epic in its sweep and intimate in its portrayal of human endurance.
A car tumbles through darkness down a snowy ravine.
A woman without a name walks out of a dust storm in sub-Saharan Africa.
And in the seething heat of Lagos City, a criminal cartel scours the Internet, looking for victims.
Lives intersect. Worlds collide. And it all begins with a single email: “Dear Sir, I am the daughter of a Nigerian diplomat, and I need your help…
Will Ferguson takes readers deep into the labyrinth of lies that is “419,” the world’s most insidious Internet scam.
When Laura Curtis, a lonely editor in a cold northern city, discovers that her father has died because of one such swindle, she sets out to track down—and corner—her father’s killer. It is a dangerous game she’s playing, however, and the stakes are higher than she can ever imagine.
Woven into Laura’s journey is a mysterious woman from the African Sahel with scars etched into her skin and a young man who finds himself caught up in a web of violence and deceit.
And running through it, a dying father’s final words: “You, I love.” (Amazon.ca)

This is the short list for the Scotiabank Giller Prize.  One of these five will be announced the winner during the 2012 Scotiabank Giller Prize broadcast on CBC Television at 9:00 p.m. EST/ 9:30 p.m. NT (Northwest Territories) on Tuesday, October 30, 2012.  The winning prize is $50,000 and each finalist will receive $5000.  

The celebrity presenters are as follows:

  • Rick Mercer introducing Will Ferguson and his novel, 419
  • TBA introducing Alix Ohlin and her novel, INSIDE
  • Kim Cattrall introducing Nancy Richler and her novel, THE IMPOSTER BRIDE
  • Measha Brueggergosman introducing Kim Thúy and her novel, RU
  • Allan Hawco introducing Russell Wangersky and his collection of short stories, WHIRL AWAY


Sunday, October 28, 2012

Why English is Hard to Learn

My friend and I were conversing via email and she found this little poem 
which makes perfect sense and yet doesn't.  You'll see what I mean!

For today only, a message from author Sarah Jio

Dear friends,

Do you read books on a Kindle, Nook, cell phone or other e-reader, or do you know someone who does? I wanted to let you know that my new New York Times and USA Today bestselling novel, BLACKBERRY WINTER, has been chosen as the book-of-the-day by Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Apple and Kobo for tomorrow, SUNDAY, 10/28! The e-book version has been reduced to $2.99 for Sunday only. So, for the price of a latte, you can download the novel on your e-reader, phone or iPad, and I'm tremendously honored that these retailers have chosen BLACKBERRY WINTER as their "deal of the day"!

Ultimately, I hope this allows more people to be able to read this story, and I'd be so grateful if you let your friends know (in person, on Facebook, Twitter, or by forwarding this email on!) that they can purchase the book for a deeply reduced price—on Sunday 10/28 only. 

Here are lin ks to download:

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Blackberry-Winter-A-Novel-ebook/dp/B0081KZ8BM/ref=tmm_kin_title_0
Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/blackberry-winter-sarah-jio/1108799359?ean=9781101603499
Kobo: http://www.kobobooks.com/ebook/Blackberry-Winter-A-Novel/book-DwAXFUfm4U-iPQ4YC6WbCA/page1.html?s=psTQGxaiy0yxz4JTe0CvLw&r=2
Apple: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/blackberry-winter/id525832592?mt=11

Hugs + many thanks from Seattle! 

Sarah xo

Sarah Jio
New York Times and USA Today Bestselling Author of BLACKBERRY WINTER

My other novels:
*THE VIOLETS OF MARCH, Penguin (Plume) 
*THE BUNGALOW, Penguin (Plume)
*THE LAST CAMELLIA, to be published by Penguin (Plume) on May 28, 2013!

Come say hi on Facebook: www.facebook.com/sarahjioauthor

Friday, October 26, 2012

Studies Indicate Book Ownership is A Strong Indicator of a Child's Academia

According to a study reported in the journal Research in Social Stratification and Mobility, "Family Scholarly Culture and Educational Success," the benefits of book ownership, and we are talking physical copies here, has a positive effect on the academic achievement of our children.  
The study indicated, as quoted from The Globe and Mail, May 26, 2010; "just how strong the correlation is between a child's academic achievement and the number of books his or her parents own. It's even more important than whether the parents went to college or hold white-collar jobs. . . . The study was conducted over 20 years, in 27 countries, and surveyed more than 70,000 people. Researchers found that children who grew up in a home with more than 500 books spent three years longer in school than children whose parents had only a few books. . . . Even a relatively small number of books can make a difference. A child whose family has 25 books will, on average, complete two more years of school than a child whose family is sadly bookless."

If you want your children to do well academically, and thus life, buy a book...no scratch that, buy several hundred!!!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Discussion: the Future of the Independent Bookstore

More bookstores within the city of Edmonton are closing their doors for good.  Belgravia Books and Treasures will close the books forever October 31st.  In the words of the proprietors of Belgravia Books and Treasures, theirs is a store of "Rare, recent, and out-of-print books, antiques and curios, framed paintings and prints."  In November 2009, the editors of WHERE magazine took on the task of naming the top 10 bookstores in their respective cities and Belgravia Books and Treasures made the list.  Sadly, we see the doors close on them, accolades and all.  (http://www.globaltvedmonton.com/video/bookstore+closure/video.html?v=2282582654&p=1&s=dd&searchQuery=belgravia%20boo#newshour/video/search/belgravia%20boo)

And another joins the list of soon to close in our city.  The Edmonton Ukrainian Bookstore will close shop in December after 98 years serving the community with Ukrainian language books and gifts.

"This is a store that I grew up in,” said Elena Scharabun, the third generation of her family to own and manage the store.
"My grandfather took it over from the two brothers that started it...and my father and mother took it over from him, and it's been in the family for the whole 98 years."
But in years of late, demand for such items and books has decreased.  
"The world's changing," she said, adding that today's immigrants want to learn English and assimilate into Canadian society, buying different things and decorating their homes differently.
I am sorry to see you go.  You are leaving a fine legacy behind.  I want to thank you, on behalf of all book lovers like myself, who are grateful for you and stores like yours that brought the stories to life in our imaginations as we immersed ourselves in the pages of story-dom. (My Bookshelf)

Currently, Edmonton hosts 10 independent bookstores and 24 chain bookstores.  Calgary has 9 independent bookstores and 24 chains, while Toronto has 45 independent stores and 49 chains.  What is the difference?  Is the metropolitan area of Toronto more conducive to independents or is it that the independents are changing to accommodate the changing market?

Alex Abboud blogs some suggestions for changing the environment of the indie bookstore.  Some ideas include the availability of a drink station within the store, membership fees (a stake in the business), author visits, adjoining conference room rentals, knowledgeable staff, a niche in the market (a specialty) as possibilities.

Even the large chain stores are amending their focus to include gift items and toys.  It is agreed that change must be embraced rather than resisted to maintain a foreseeable future.  If you were an indie bookseller, what changes would you foresee as a marketable asset?

Feel free to join this discussion.  I want to hear from you!

Falling Together by Marisa de los Santos

Falling Together
Author:  Marisa de los Santos
Published: October 2012 (this edition)
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks
Pages:  384
Edition:  Trade paperback
Source:  Thank you to TLC book tours and to the publisher for supplying a complimentary copy of Falling Together for the purpose of review.  The opinions expressed here are my own and in no way influenced by receipt of the book.

It’s been six years since Pen Calloway watched Cat and Will, her best friends from college, walk out of her life. Through the birth of her daughter, the death of her father, and the vicissitudes of single motherhood, she has never stopped missing them. When, after years of silence, Cat—the bewitching, charismatic center of their group—urgently requests that the three meet at their college reunion, Pen can’t refuse. But instead of a happy reconciliation, what awaits is a collision of past and present that sends Pen and Will on a journey
around the world, with Pen’s five-year-old daughter and Cat’s hostile husband in tow. And as Pen and Will struggle to uncover the truth about Cat, they find more than they bargained for: startling truths about who they were before and who they are now.

With her trademark wit, vivid prose, and gift for creating authentic, captivating characters, Marisa de los Santos returns with an emotionally resonant novel about our deepest human connections.
My thoughts:
What an appropriate time to be reading Falling Together, since it's autumn now and this cover, so bright and colourful, presents a fall scene which is so enticing.  Much like the novel itself!  

I laughed so much during the first third of the book.  The humour becomes somewhat mooted as more serious plot lines develop and the author takes you back in time and then again to present day.  Sometimes these lines are blurred and I found myself a little lost, having to go back and reread to be sure of the tense.  I didn't mind though as Marisa de los Santos is a spectacular writer whose words flow beautifully and descriptively.  The character development is excellent!  The way Pen and Will banter is endearing and sometimes hilarious!
"Do you mind if we don't talk for a little while?  My brain is so full it hurts," said Pen.
"Brain indigestion," said Will.
I was rooting for these two to finally admit to themselves and to one another that they loved the other.  But to admit to it was something they couldn't do.  Their relationship was two-thirds of a threesome and the third member of the trio was missing.  When Cat's (the other third of the trio) husband sought their help in finding her, in quite a convoluted manner, Pen and Will were unsure of his motives but being themselves concerned for her, they agreed to join in a journey that would take them to the beautiful islands of the Philippines and back.  This trip would not only find answers but remove their blinders about their relationships and their friendships.

As Jason, Cat's estranged husband, let down his guard it was difficult not to like this big burly softy. For under his gruff exterior was a man who would do anything to find the woman that he loved with all his heart and being.  He put it all out there.  I think there's a lesson to be learned from him.

I loved this novel. for within the pages of Falling Together, I found true heart, real love, and soul.    If you are looking for a book of substance and humour to warm those chilly days and nights, you simply must give this one a read.  Falling Together is definitely a good thing!

About the author:
Marisa de los Santos is a New York Times bestselling author and an award-winning poet with a Ph.D. in literature and creative writing. She lives in Delaware with her husband, David Teague, and their son and daughter.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

It's Here! It's Here! Racketeer!!!

Released today, Racketeer by John Grisham!!!  Need I say more?

"Given the importance of what they do, and the controversies that often surround them, and the violent people they sometimes confront, it is remarkable that in the history of this country only four active federal judges have been murdered.
Judge Raymond Fawcett just became number five.
Who is the Racketeer? And what does he have to do with the judge’s untimely demise? His name, for the moment, is Malcolm Bannister. Job status? Former attorney. Current residence? The Federal Prison Camp near Frostburg, Maryland.
On paper, Malcolm’s situation isn’t looking too good these days, but he’s got an ace up his sleeve. He knows who killed Judge Fawcett, and he knows why. The judge’s body was found in his remote lakeside cabin. There was no forced entry, no struggle, just two dead bodies: Judge Fawcett and his young secretary. And one large, state-of-the-art, extremely secure safe, opened and emptied.
What was in the safe? The FBI would love to know. And Malcolm Bannister would love to tell them. But everything has a price—especially information as explosive as the sequence of events that led to Judge Fawcett’s death. And the Racketeer wasn’t born yesterday . . .
Nothing is as it seems and everything’s fair game in this wickedly clever new novel from John Grisham, the undisputed master of the legal thriller." (synopsis from John Grisham's web page)

Finale by Becca Fitzpatrick Released Today

Are you excited?  Watch the book trailer for a taste of what is in store!

Saving Each Other by Victoria Jackson and Ali Guthy

Saving Each Other
by Victoria Jackson and Ali Guthy
Published October 16, 2012
(excerpt from Saving Each Other:  A Mystery Illness, A Search for the Cure, a Mother-Daughter Love Story)
Every Day Is a Miracle

By Victoria Jackson,
Author of Saving Each Other: A Mystery Illness, A Search for the Cure, A Mother-Daughter Love Story
Every day is a miracle. That I do know, even though I forget it sometimes.

Isn't that kind of the point of 2%? It's like by throwing a rare light show or random nightmare storm in our direction, the universe is just trying to get our attention so we don't take anything for granted and just appreciate our days and the hours and minutes that make them up.

That's what's on my mind as I talk to a mom who has just lost her son, my daugher Ali's age, to Neuromyeltis Optica (NMO). She sounds so strong. For all these years I've been waging war with the image of Ali having to be wheeled across the stage at her graduation, maybe not even getting there. Maybe that's why I'm looking for ways to delay the ceremony. And here is a mother whose son didn't make it. Not only that, incredibly, she's calling not to talk about her loss but to thank us for the work of the foundation that gave him longer than they had expected. She lets me know that friends and family have sent in donations for our Guthy-Jackson Charitable Foundation to be used in his memory. Her voice is clear and resolute as she tells me to call on her for anything she can do to help raise awareness in the ongoing search for a cure.

When I get off the phone, sad and mad that we couldn't do more, I fight a flood of fearful thoughts and just try to be in the moment to appreciate where we are. The truth is that every worst fear that I could and did imagine for Ali -- none of it has happened. The dire prognosis that we were given hasn't come to pass.

It's true that I have lived too often with the subliminal concern that special events and usual rites of passage may be her last. The irony, of course, is that she prefers low key. But my impulse was always to give all the kids happy memories and make all the details so memorable that they'll be able to relish them long into the years to come.

Even thinking that there could be a cap on the years to come for Ali is so sacrilegious, not even something I allow myself to think about, that I compensate by making every milestone the ultimate.

Senior prom, of course, had to be the absolute best in the world because (a) it's prom, (b) there might not be another event like it and (c) I never went to prom and refuse to let her miss out on anything that life has to offer.

The logic and the love were really uppermost in my mind. But then again, finding the most amazing dress and then having it altered -- I went a little crazy, almost going so far as to tell the tailor that it has to be perfect because only God knew how much time she had left.

Evan once told me that you have to try to just have faith in the world. That's the lullaby I kept trying to sing to myself now. He has always said that to me. Still, I looked around at other moms at the pre-prom party and realized that probably no other mother was thinking of her daughter in her very special dress the same way I was thinking of Ali.

This piece is excerpted from "Saving Each Other: A Mother-Daughter Love Story" by Victoria Jackson and Ali Guthy. Available from Vanguard Press, a member of the Perseus Books Group. Copyright 2012

Copyright © 2012 Victoria Jackson and Ali Guthy, authors of Saving Each Other: A Mystery Illness, A Search for the Cure, A Mother-Daughter Love Story


Ellen DeGeneres recently interviewed Victoria Jackson and her daughter Ali.  Here's a link for your viewing:  http://www.ellentv.com/videos/0-ujfdv7uf/
Come back soon for my review including a giveaway to one lucky winner.  Sorry, US Residents only.

Statuary Outside Local Library Commemorate The Important Things in Life

This piece is titled "Hide and Seek".  It is a popular place for people to link up their pets when visiting the library.

Commemorating Lois E. Hole, the 15th Lieutenant Governor of Alberta, this statue is erected near the entrance to the St. Albert Library.  Lois Hole was a huge proponent of the arts, particularly the literary arts.

Monday, October 22, 2012

This Week at Lit Fest (in Edmonton Alberta)

This Week at LitFest

7:00 PM, From Hoop Skirts to Hoops, City Hall, Featuring M. Ann Hall and Karen Wall
7:00 PM, Alexander McCall Smith at the Winspear (I so wanted to go to this!!!!  He wrote The #1 Ladies Detective Agency series, Corduroy Mansion and more)
NOON, CLC Brown Bag Reading series with Madeline Sonik and JJ Lee, Arts and Convocation Hall
7:00 PM, The Baroque Lecture, Art Gallery of Alberta, Featuring Todd Olson
7:00 PM, Charles Taylor Prize Bash, Arden Theatre, Featuring Charlotte Gill, JJ Lee, Madeline Sonik, Andrew Westoll and Host Curtis Gillespie
7:00 PM, Andrew Nikiforuk, St. Albert Public Library
7:00 PM, Borderlines, Milner Theatre
10:00 AM, Social Media, Brand Building and the Writer, Strathcona County Library
1:00 PM, Food Matters, Santa Maria Goretti Centre
1:30 PM, Of Moose and Men, Strathcona County Library
2:00 PM, Carmen Aguirre, St. Albert Public Library (winner of the Giller award for her memoir Something Fierce, she'd be high on my list to see!)
6:00 PM, Savouries, Santa Maria Goretti Centre
11:00 AM, A Brunch of Writers, Union Bank Inn
2:00 PM, Three Acts of Alberta Theatre, Strathcona County Library
3:00 PM, Fauna, Milner Theatre

Finale Releases October 23!

The last book in the YA Hush Hush saga will release tomorrow!  Fittingly titled Finale, this novel follows up Hush Hush and Silence.  

The GoodReads synopsis reads:  "Fates unfurl in the gripping conclusion to the New York Times bestselling Hush, Hush saga. Nora is more certain than ever that she is in love with Patch. Fallen angel or no, he is the one for her. Her heritage and destiny may mean they are fated to be enemies, but there is no turning her back on him. Now Nora and Patch must gather their strength to face one last, perilous trial. Old enemies return, new enemies are made, and a friend's ultimate betrayal threatens the peace Patch and Nora so desperately want. The battle lines are drawn—but which sides are they on? And in the end, are there some obstacles even love can't conquer?"

My daughter is super excited to read Finale, so of course I will be buying it for her.  

I haven't yet read this series.  Have you?  Would you recommend I give it a try?

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Visual Dewey Decimal System

Yesterday my friend Kim and I visited an art exhibit housed in the same building as the St. Albert Library.  I had to see the visual dewey decimal system painted by an artist friend of Kim's that grace the windows of the library.  Victoria Armstrong is the artist of the window scenes and the mural and she is also a librarian on staff at the library.  You have to see this!

 Arts, sciences, history, etc. as categories of the Dewey Decimal System, are painted in the vanes of the windows of this library.  Can you spot the categories?

 Can you imagine being commissioned to paint this?  It turned out beautifully!

The above mural took some patience and careful planning as it had to fit around items like the fire alarm.  I think the shapes used to define the mural suit it perfectly.  While done out of necessity, one wouldn't know that this wasn't the original plan by the artist!

Casual Vacancy Leaves Me...Well...Vacant

I never thought I'd say this, but I just couldn't get into this new novel by J.K. Rowling.  I've tried repeatedly, even renewed my loan but to no avail.  It is due back this Thursday and I just can't do it.  

I went into reading The Casual Vacancy with high expectations....too high apparently.  I was by no means comparing this book to her previous hits.  If anything, I was comparing it to other books of its genre, general fiction for adults.  I know J.K. Rowling is a gifted writer.  I know she can put a story together that captivates the reader.  I have the greatest respect for her ability as a writer.  But... I just don't like the story. 

J.K. Rowling infuses the story with a plethora of characters right from the beginning, making it a confusing task of having to go back to confirm who is whom and what their role is.  Full of adult situations that include drug abuse, social services, rape, profanity.... need I go on.  I tried to move beyond that and recognize that some reviewers loved this novel.  Perhaps underneath it all, the adult situations and prevalent profanity, perhaps there is a story worth reading there.  I couldn't find it.   I am sorry to say that The Casual Vacancy is one of the rare books that I've given up on.  

Perhaps you will be one of the ones who finds the proverbial silver lining in what is certainly a gloomy and stormy read.  If you are, I'm happy for you.  This just isn't one of those for me.

On a positive note, I recently watched an interview wherein it was announced that J.K. Rowling's next book will be written for children. Some authors do a terrific job of straddling the genres, like John Grisham or James Patterson, while some are best with one.  I'm thinking J.K. Rowling's imagination can inspire more youth and children to read.  That is her strength, in my opinion, and I look forward to seeing what she is up to next.

If you've read the entire novel of The Casual Vacancy, join in a discussion here and share your opinion.  Even if, like me, you couldn't make it through it, join in anyway.  I'm sure there's more than just one reader out there who didn't care for it.  Who are you?

Preview of The Racketeer by John Grisham

The Racketeer by John Grisham

Friday, October 19, 2012

Extraordinary Rendition by Paul Batista - Part II (Excerpt from Chapter 1)

Extraordinary Rendition
Author:  Paul Batista
Published:  July 21, 2012
ISBN 9781938231261

(part II, Chapter One excerpt from Extraordinary Rendition)  
In the stifling room, Byron began to sweat almost as profusely as he had on the walk from the security gate to the prison entrance. He recognized that he was very tense. And he was certain that the thirty-minute rule would be enforced, that time was running out. He didn’t want to lose his chance to gain the confidence of this ghostly man who had just emerged into a semblance of life after years in solitary limbo. “A lawyer for a civil rights group called me. I had let people know that I wanted to represent a person arrested for terrorism. I was told that you were one of four prisoners being transferred out of some detention center, maybe at Guantanamo, to a mainland prison, and that you’d be charged by an American grand jury rather than held overseas indefinitely. When I got the call I said I would help, but only if you and I met, and only if you wanted me to help, and only if I thought I could do that.”
 “How do I know any of this is true?”
Byron Johnson prided himself on being a realist. Wealthy clients sought him out not to tell them what they wanted to hear but for advice about the facts, the law and the likely real-world outcomes of whatever problems they faced. But it hadn’t occurred to him that this man, imprisoned for years, would doubt him and would be direct enough to tell him that. Byron had become accustomed to deference, not to challenge. And this frail man was suggesting that Byron might be a stalking horse, a plant, a shill, a human recording device.
“I met your brother Khalid.”
“At a diner in Union City.”
“What diner?”
“He said it was his favorite, and that you used to eat there with him: the Plaza Diner on Kennedy Boulevard.”
Byron, who for years had practiced law in areas where a detailed memory was essential, was relieved that he remembered the name and location of the diner just across the Hudson River in New Jersey. He couldn’t assess whether the man behind the thick, scratched glass was now more persuaded to believe him. Byron asked, “How have you been treated?”
“I’ve been treated like an animal.”
“In what ways?”
As if briskly covering the topics on an agenda, Ali Hussein said, “Months in one room, no contact with other people. Shifted from place to place, never knowing what country or city I was in, never knowing what month of the year, day of the week. Punched. Kicked.”
“Do you have any marks on your body?”
“I’m not sure yet what your name really is, or who you really are, but you seem naive. Marks? Are you asking me if they’ve left bruises or scars on my body?”
Byron felt the rebuke. Over the years he’d learned that there was often value in saying nothing. Silence sometimes changed the direction of a conversation and revealed more. He waited. 
Hussein asked, “How much more time do we have?”
“Only a few minutes.”
“A few minutes? I’ve been locked away for years, never in touch for a second with anyone who meant to do kind things to me, and now I have a total of thirty minutes with you. Mr. Bush created a beautiful world.”
 “There’s another president.” Byron paused, and, with the silly thought of giving this man some hope, he said, “His name is Barack Hussein Obama.”
Ali Hussein almost smiled. “And I’m still here? How did that happen?”
Byron didn’t answer, feeling foolish that he’d thought the news that an American president’s middle name was Hussein would somehow brighten this man’s mind. Byron had pandered to him, and he hated pandering. 
Ali Hussein then asked, “My wife and children?”
No one—not the ACLU lawyer, not the CIA agent with whom Byron had briefly talked to arrange this visit, not even Hussein’s heavy-faced, brooding brother—had said a single thing about Hussein other than that he had been brought into the United States after years away and that he was an accountant. Nothing about a wife and children. 
“I don’t know. I didn’t know you had a wife and children. Nobody said anything about them. I should have asked.”
It was unsettling even to Byron, who had dealt under tense circumstances with thousands of people in courtrooms, that this man could stare at him for so long with no change of expression. Hussein finally asked, “Are you going to come back?”
“If you want me to.”
“I was an accountant, you know. I always liked numbers, and I believed in the American system that money moves everything, that he who pays the piper gets to call the tune. Who’s paying you?”
“No one, Mr. Hussein. Anything I do for you will be free. I won’t get paid by anybody.”
“Now I really wonder who you are.” There was just a trace of humor in his voice and his expression. 
As swiftly as Ali Hussein had appeared in the interview room, he disappeared when two guards in Army uniforms reached in from the rear door and literally yanked him from his chair. It was like watching a magician make a man disappear. 

Note: the copyright for this excerpt belongs to the author and is supplied with permission by Paul's publicist.

Meet the author:

Paul Batista, novelist and television personality, is one of the most widely known trial lawyers in the country. As a trial attorney, he specializes in federal criminal litigation. As a media figure, he is known for his regular appearances as guest legal commentator on a variety of television shows including, Court TVCNN, HLN and WNBC. He’s also appeared in the HBO movie, You Don't Know Jack, starring Al Pacino.
 A prolific writer, Batista authored the leading treatise on the primary federal anti-racketeering statute, Civil RICO Practice Manual, which is now in its third edition (Wiley & Sons, 1987; Wolters Kluwer, 2008). He has written articles for The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and The National Law Journal.
 Batista's debut novel, Death's Witness, was awarded a Silver Medal by the Independent Book Publishers Association (IBPA). And his new novel,Extraordinary Rendition, is now being published—along with a special reissue of Death’s Witness—by Astor + Blue Editions.
 Batista is a graduate of Bowdoin College, where he was elected to Phi Beta Kappa, and Cornell Law School. He’s proud to have served in the United States Army. Paul Batista lives in New York City and Sag Harbor, New York.


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