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

Friday, May 30, 2014

What Amazon is Doing is a National Tragedy and James Patterson Isn't Afraid to Say So

James Patterson: Amazon, 'a National Tragedy'

I'm sure everyone's heard all the kerfluffel over Amazon and Hatchette Publishing?  Well, now James Patterson has something to say about it too.  If by chance you haven't heard what it's all about, check out this article in the Atlantic:  http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2014/05/how-the-amazon-hachette-fight-could-shape-the-future-of-ideas/371756/

Here's what James Patterson has to say about it all:

James Patterson: Amazon, 'a National Tragedy'

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Dialogues of a Crime by John Manos - book review

Dialogues of a Crime
Author:  John Manos
Published:  July 2013
Publisher:  Amika Press
Pages: 300
Source:  A complimentary advance reader's copy was provided for the purpose of this review.  Receipt thereof bore no influence over this reviewers opinion nor this review.

In this crime drama, Michael Pollitz must decide whether to protect the mobster who has protected him.
When Mike, a college student in 1972 Illinois, is arrested on drug charges, his father insists he use a public defender. His childhood friend’s father, Dom Calabria, head of the Outfit in Chicago, wants to help Mike by providing a first-rate lawyer, but Mike goes with his father’s wishes. The outcome is a plea bargain for a short stay in Astoria Adult Correctional Facility—but after he’s brutally beaten and raped by three inmates, Mike spends most of his sentence in the infirmary. He doesn’t give up his assailants’ names but threatens their lives right before he’s set to be released. When Mike is picked up by the head of the mob, people notice.
Flash forward to 1994, when Detective Larry Klinger begins investigating the murders of two former Astoria inmates who were violently killed shortly after being released. An informant—the third man who beat Mike—tells Klinger that the murders were committed by Calabria, the kingpin whom Klinger would like to see taken down. Klinger investigates, coming in contact with Mike, and the two form a friendship. When Klinger realizes that Mike will never give up Calabria, he begins to wonder whether it’s even worth investigating the murders of such evil men.
Add to Goodreads badge

Purchase Links

My Thoughts:
How deep does loyalty lie?  Dialogues of a Crime is a story about a young college student, Michael, who in 1972 gets arrested as an accessory to the sale of drugs.  It gets worse for Michael as his father refuses to allow Michael to accept the help of his best friend's father who is in the mafia.  Unfortunately, Michael goes to a medium security prison where he is assaulted and emotionally scarred for life.  It's not unheard of in prisons but it certainly isn't pleasant reading.

Years later an investigation into the mafia, particularly into Michael's best friend's father and his particular "ring," brings the now advertising executive back in contact with the police. Friendship, relationships, loyalty and revenge are the strong themes in Dialogues of a Crime. In exploring the past that Michael would rather forget, the ties of relationships are explored. The dialogues in this novel reveal emotions, hurt, and loyalty and are well-written.  It is through these dialogues the reader really comes to understand Michael.  He really experienced the worst one can imagine a fellow human being can endure and the reader is sure to side with him, regardless of justice, however defined.

Dialogues of a Crime makes you question your ideas on justice.  While I didn't enjoy the prison experience, I did find the investigation of the mafia interesting.  I enjoy crime dramas, for the "whodunit" aspect and love a good mystery, which is why I decided to read Dialogues of a Crime.  It's not quite what I expected in that comparison but if you enjoy investigations of the legal system and justice with a main focus on the mafia, you will find Dialogues of a Crime an interesting novel and, like me, you will likely be pulling for Michael, the law be damned.

John K. Manos was a magazine editor in Chicago for 20 years. Since 2001 he has earned his living as a writer, editor, and occasional musician. He is a graduate of Knox College. Dialogues of a Crime is his first novel.

Every Day is Malala Day by Rosemary McCarney - children's book review

Every Day is Malala Day
Author:  Rosemary McCarney
Published:March 8, 2014
Publisher: Second Story Press
Pages: 32
Edition:  Hardcover
Genre:  Children's non-fiction: biography

Malala Yousafzai may be the most famous girl in the world right now. Shot by the Taliban and celebrated as a peace icon, this past fall she became the youngest person ever nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. This book is a letter of sisterhood to Malala Yousafzai, expressing the belief that every girl has the right to go to school. The beautiful photos from international non-profit Plan bring together their Because I am a Girl message with Malala Yousafzai''s mission. After being shot for the simple act of going to school in her native Pakistan, Malala has become an international girls'' rights crusader. The book is written as a letter from girls around the world to Malala. Many of them know first-hand the barriers that stand in the way of girls going to school - barriers such as poverty, discrimination, and violence. In Malala these girls recognize a leader, a champion, and a friend.

My Thoughts:

Giving a voice to girls everywhere, Malala Yousafzai became known as an icon in the cause of girls' rights to education world wide.  In Every Day is Malala Day, author Rosemary McCarney shared the impact of the story of 15-year old Malala who was shot by the Taliban for going to school, a right she believed in and stood for.  Every Day is Malala Day is written as a letter from girls who acknowledge Malala's message and recognize her as an advocate for girls rights to education.  For girls everywhere, Malala has become a leader and a heroine.  

The latter portion of the book, Every Day is Malala Day, shares a brief biography.  Photos from non-profit Plan International illustrate Every Day is Malala Day.  

I highly recommend Every Day is Malala Day for young readers ages 8-12.  It's a beautiful tribute to the girl whose tireless crusade for the right to education almost cost her life.

Malala's story was broadcast throughout the world as she lay in hospital with a gunshot wound to her head.  Fortunately, she recovered and continues to advocate for girls' rights to education.  Her biography I Am Malala which was co-written with Christina Lamb was released October 8, 2013, almost exactly a year following the attempted assassination.  It became a bestseller that bookstores quickly ran out of.  Not surprisingly it was banned in some private schools in Pakistan, Malala's country. Today it is still creating waves.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Moving Day by Jonathan Stone - book review

Moving Day
Author:  Jonathan Stone
Published:  June 1/14
Publisher:  Thomas and Mercer
Pages:  284
Source:  A complimentary advance reader's copy was provided for the purpose of this review.  Receipt thereof bore no influence over this reviewers opinion nor this review.

Forty years’ accumulation of art, antiques, and family photographs are more than just objects for Stanley Peke—they are proof of a life fully lived. A life he could have easily lost long ago.
When a con man steals his houseful of possessions in a sophisticated moving-day scam, Peke wanders helplessly through his empty New England home, inevitably reminded of another helpless time: decades in Peke’s past, a cold and threadbare Stanislaw Shmuel Pecoskowitz eked out a desperate existence in the war-torn Polish countryside, subsisting on scraps, dodging Nazi soldiers. Now, the seventy-two-year-old Peke—who survived, came to America, and succeeded—must summon his original grit and determination, to track down the thieves, retrieve his things, and restore the life he made for himself.
Peke and his wife, Rose, trace the path of the thieves’ truck across America, to the wilds of Montana, and to an ultimate, chilling confrontation with not only the thieves, but with Peke’s brutal, unresolved past.

My thoughts:
It's all innocent enough to begin with.  Peke and his wife Rose have arranged for movers to transport their belongings, a wealth of 40 years of accumulation including some valuable art and antiques.  The children are grown so Peke and Rose no longer desire this big house, their first home purchase.  Already packed and ready to go, Peke is surprised when the movers arrive a day early.  He tells himself he forgot the date, assures his wife that yes, today is the day, and then watches as the crew cheerfully load all their earthly belongings into a semi. Peke notes their attitudes, their demeanour, who's in charge.  How nice to have cheerful friendly movers, right?
They spend the night on an old mattress, their last night spent just as their first when they had little money nor belongings.  The years have been kind to Peke and Rose and they have done very well financially.  Now they were retired and looking forward to it.
The next morning, however; movers show up to load their furnishings.  Stunned, Peke informs them that there must be a mistake; their crew arrived the day before.  No, not their crew.  The police are called in but it doesn't look promising.  There are over 240,000 semis on the highway on any given day.  The semi might as well be invisible.  Their belongings are gone, presumably forever.  It's sad and awful but at least no one was hurt.  
Peke and Rose aren't concerned about the financial loss. They are quite fit financially. Besides, insurance will reimburse them.  It's not even the value associated with the memories (the thieves took their photos as well!).  It's the fact that the "crew" chose them to defraud, two seniors who wouldn't put up a fight.  Little did those "movers" know, they made the biggest mistake ever when they stole from Peke and Rose!  
Moving Day is a bit wordy and descriptive and its pace was a bit slow.  Despite this, Moving Day is a fascinating piece of fiction with a rare plot and a feisty protagonist!  There have been a few feisty elderly protagonists of late, including The 100 Year Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window  and Disappeared by Jonas Jonasson (2012), The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce (June 2013), and The Little Old Lady Who Broke All The Rules by Catherina Ingleman-Sundberg (Feb 2014).  If you enjoyed any of these titles, you're sure to find Moving Day to your liking.  Who says the years of wisdom, knowledge and hard work don't count for anything?  Certainly not Peke!

Add to Goodreads badge

Purchase Links

Meet author Jonathan Stone:
Jonathan Stone writes his books on the commuter train from his home in Connecticut to his advertising job in midtown Manhattan. Honing his writing skills by creating smart and classic campaigns for high-level brands such as Mercedes-Benz, Microsoft, and Mitsubishi has paid off, as Stone’s first mystery-thriller series, the Julian Palmer books, won critical acclaim and was hailed as “stunning” and “risk-taking” in Publishers Weekly starred reviews. He earned glowing praise for his novel The Cold Truth from the New York Times, which called it “bone-chilling.” He’s the recipient of a Claymore Award for Best Unpublished Crime Novel and a graduate of Yale, where he was a Scholar of the House in fiction writing.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Black Chalk by Christopher J. Yates

Black Chalk
Author:  Christopher J. Yates
Published:  April 2014
Publisher:  Random House UK
Pages: 352
Genre: Fiction/suspense
Source: A complimentary copy was provided by the author, publisher and TLC book tours in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.

The author has the first two chapters on his website here-http://www.christopherjyates.com/book/.

One game. Six students. Five survivors.
It was only ever meant to be a game.

A game of consequences, of silly forfeits, childish dares. A game to be played by six best friends in their first year at Oxford University. But then the game changed: the stakes grew higher and the dares more personal, more humiliating, finally evolving into a vicious struggle with unpredictable and tragic results.

Now, fourteen years later, the remaining players must meet again for the final round.

My Thoughts:

Black Chalk is psychologically breathtaking!  

Six friends who met in university devise a game which shall challenge each of the six mentally and emotionally.  The prize is monetary.  The rules are obscure, the game a combination of cards and dice and personal challenges, the consequences demeaning; but it's all in good fun.  No one is supposed to get hurt...but then they do.

"Yes, that’s what we said about the Game all those years ago. It’ll be so much fun!"

 "...whether I win or lose, I hope this story will serve as my warning to the world. A cautionary tale. My confession."

I was positively mesmerized by this book.  It's like being a bystander at a horrific accident.  You know it can't end well but you can't look away.  You are entranced.  Black Chalk twists and plays mind games with you, the reader.  When you think you know, you've picked up some clue, then Yates yanks it away and takes you back to where you once were.  And of course, like a gambler, you cannot let it go.  You delve deeper, you cannot let go, until the end.  

It's been at least a year since I've found a book so masterfully written, psychologically twisted, and spell-binding.  My applause to Yates for achieving what I consider a rarity among talented authors.  Truly mind-bending.

Black Chalk has been compared to Donna Tartt's Secret History, Suzanne Collins' Hunger Games trilogy, and The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer by other reviewers.  I might add another in The Bellwether Revivals by Benjamin Woods (reviewed here) a psychological suspense about the fine line between genius and madness.  If you enjoyed any of these titles, enjoy a good puzzle, and like to be challenged, then definitely pick up a copy of Black Chalk!! 

Meet the author:

Christopher J. Yates studied law at Wadham College, Oxford from 1990-93 and initially pursued a career in law before he began working in puzzles, representing the UK at the World Puzzle Championships. Since then he has worked as a freelance journalist, sub-editor and puzzles editor/compiler. In 2007 he moved to New York City with his wife, and currently lives in the East Village.
For more information on Christopher, please visit his website, christopherjyates.com.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

The Girl Who Came Home: A Novel of the Titanic by Hazel Gaynor (book review)

The Girl Who Came Home
A Novel of the Titanic
Author:  Hazel Gaynor
Published:  April 1 2014
Publisher:  William Morrow Paperbacks
Pages:  384
Source:  a complimentary copy was provided by the publisher and TLC book tours in exchange for an honest review.

A voyage across the ocean becomes the odyssey of a lifetime for a young Irish woman. . . .

Ireland, 1912 .
 . .
Fourteen members of a small village set sail on RMS Titanic, hoping to find a better life in America. For seventeen-year-old Maggie Murphy, the journey is bittersweet. Though her future lies in an unknown new place, her heart remains in Ireland with Séamus, the sweetheart she left behind. When disaster strikes, Maggie is one of the few passengers in steerage to survive. Waking up alone in a New York hospital, she vows never to speak of the terror and panic of that fateful night again.

Chicago, 1982 . . 
Adrift after the death of her father, Grace Butler struggles to decide what comes next. When her great-grandmother Maggie shares the painful secret about Titanicthat she’s harbored for almost a lifetime, the revelation gives Grace new direction—and leads both her and Maggie to unexpected reunions with those they thought lost long ago
Inspired by true events, The Girl Who Came Home poignantly blends fact and fiction to explore the Titanic tragedy’s impact and its lasting repercussions on survivors and their descendants.

My thoughts:

As a Titanic buff, I was excited to read The Girl Who Came Home, mainly because this isn't so much a work of fictional characters as it is a work of fiction based upon real characters; a group of fourteen Irish immigrants, known as the Addergoole Fourteen, who boarded the Titanic to join family in America.  Only three of this group survived.  This is the fictional version of the story of one woman who lived.

The Titanic was a luxury liner, built to be unsinkable and with the finest in luxury decor.  There was much excitement and trepidation in boarding the Titanic.  Perhaps the near collision leaving port should have been a warning, but off they went and all was well as the rich enjoyed every luxury to which they were accustomed.  This trip was merely a notch on their belt, a story to share to show how important they were.  Steerage was another matter altogether, being below deck - a most precarious place to be when the Titanic struck the iceberg.  

As the plot leads up to the sinking and the events of that night, which is a good portion of the novel, the scenes become intense and dramatic.  I found this well sculpted, thorough, and interesting. Perhaps I am a bit sadistic in this but then the thousands of others who are enthralled with the story of the Titanic might be considered to be also.  I've done a lot of reading and research on the Titanic over the years. It is still curious to note so many incidents that alone would not have sunk the ship, culminated  together and made it impossible to stay afloat.  But the Titanic had seemed indestructible in design and theory.  A flaw indeed.  A sad reminder that man is fugacious and not omnipotent.

The Girl Who Came Home goes beyond this tragic event to explore how this tragedy affected the families and loved ones of those involved.  I haven't seen this done before and found it made the novel a moving tale that allows the reader to further feel empathy for those who survived as passengers and those who grieved as this writing makes it a more personal account.  The Girl Who Came Home is a remarkable fictional version of one of the most haunting tales in history. It's gratifying to encounter a new voice on the subject who puts a face upon the tragedy and the generations that followed.

Meet the Author: 

Hazel Gaynor is an author and freelance writer in Ireland and the U.K. and was the recipient of the Cecil Day Lewis Award for Emerging Writers in 2012. Originally from North Yorkshire, England, she now lives in Ireland with her husband, two young children, and an accident-prone cat.
Connect with Hazel on Facebook.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Fly Away by Kristin Hannah

Fly Away
Author:  Kristin Hannah
Published:  April 2014
Publisher:  St. Martin's Press
Pages: 415
Includes:  Note from Author, Conversation With the Author, Behind the Novel (Kate and Tully's Playlist), Keep on Reading (ideas for book groups, recommended reading)
Genre:  General Fiction
Source:  a complimentary copy was provided by the publisher to facilitate this review.  Receipt thereof bears no influence over my opinion nor this review.  The thoughts expressed here are my own.

As teenagers in the seventies, Tully Hart and Kate Mularky were inseparable. Tully, with her make-up and her halter tops, was the coolest girl in school. Kate, with her glasses and her high water jeans, was the geeky outsider. But chance and circumstance brought them together and through the decades they were devoted to each other. This was the story of Tully and Kate which began on a quiet street called Firefly Lane. Best friends forever.

But sometimes stories end, and we have to find a way to begin again.

Now, years later, Tully is a woman trying to deal with the loss of her best friend. She wants to fulfill her promise to Kate—to be there for Kate’s children, but it’s a promise she has no idea how to carry out. What does brash, lonely, ambitious Tully know about being part of a family?

Kate's daughter, sixteen-year-old Marah Ryan, is as lost in her grief as Tully is...until she falls in love with a young man who makes her smile again and leads her into his dangerous, shadowy world.

Tully's mother, Dorothy Hart, is an unstable woman who abandoned her child too many times in the past and ultimately broke her heart. Now, when Tully is in danger of losing everything and is more vulnerable and alone than she’s been since she put those rough childhood years behind her, Dorothy returns once more, desperate for another chance to be a good mother. But can she be trusted this time? To help her daughter, Dorothy must face her darkest fears and reveal the terrible secret in her past--only then can she become the mother her wounded daughter needs.

A tragedy will bring these three women together and set them on a poignant, powerful journey of redemption. Each has lost her way and they will need each other—and maybe a miracle—to transform their lives…

My Thoughts:

I believe Fly Away is the first Kristin Hannah novel I've had the pleasure of reading and let me tell you, what a ride!  I shed so many tears over this one.  There's so much pain, anguish, and agony balanced with love, hope, desire, yearning, identity.... Hannah writes fluidly of the emotions, thoughts and fears one faces when someone they love so dear dies.  How does one go on?  How do you face tomorrow when your anchor has loosened and no longer holds?

When Kate dies of cancer, her husband Johnny is at a loss at how to be the parent their three children need.  It hurts to talk; it hurts to share the grief; it hurts to see the pain in his children's eyes, particularly his sixteen year old daughter's eyes.  Tully, Kate's best friend since childhood, tries to fulfill her promise to be there for the family but her grief is so intense.  She's lost her anchor.  She tries to be there for the family but she too has pain from the past that pervades her almost every living moment.  She's lost her career and her best friend.  Each day is a struggle.

This could have been one of those novels with a typical formula of loss, love, betrayal and a predictable ending but it isn't!  I'm impressed with Hannah's ability to take Fly Away in a different direction, one that isn't totally predictable.  She writes the characters so vividly, the plot so intricate and intense, the narrative an interesting combination of first person and third person; it's a refreshing formula.

If you yearn for a novel that will reach out and tug at your heart strings, make you angry, disgusted, anguished, tearful and yet bring it all together with hope and love; then Fly Away fulfills perfectly.  It's a novel that stays with you. 

Favourite quotes:

"Someday, if they were lucky, they'd learn what needed to be held close in life, and what wasn't worth worrying over."

"I feel her coming closer; it is like firelight drawing near."

"When someone hip-bumps you or tells you that it's not all about you or when our music plays: Listen and you'll hear me in all of it.  I'm in your memories."

Meet the Author:
Kristin Hannah is the New York Times bestselling author of twenty-one books.  A former lawyer turned writer, she is the mother of one son and lives with her husband in the Pacific Northwest and Hawaii.  Visit her at www.kristinhannah.com or on Facebook.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...