Friday, June 28, 2013

Remembering “The Lottery”

I wasn’t very old the first time I read “The Lottery.” Maybe 12 or thereabouts, having stumbled across the story in a University English literature textbook my older brother had left behind and unattended at a time when my family was only just discovering that nothing was safe around me: I’d read anything that wasn’t nailed down.

All these years later, I can see the scene so clearly in my mind. As clearly as though I first read the story yesterday.

A fine early summer day. A comely town square. A rich and gorgeous portrait of life in a bucolic American town. And something’s going on. Something mysterious and intense. You can feel it ripple through that clear, middle American summer’s day. It’s gorgeous. The sun touches your shoulder. People know each other and are friendly. Yet you can feel the vibration of fear; faint at first, but getting stronger the more deeply into the story we travel.

Writer’s Almanac tells us that “The Lottery” was published in The New Yorker on this day in 1948. It would take some time before author Shirley Jackson’s life was ever the same.

Hundreds of readers wrote to the magazine, many of them wanting to cancel their subscriptions because they were so upset by the story. Jackson later wrote: "On the morning of June 28, 1948, I walked down to the post office in our little Vermont town to pick up the mail. I was quite casual about it, as I recall — I opened the box, took out a couple of bills and a letter or two, talked to the postmaster for a few minutes, and left, never supposing that it was the last time for months that I was to pick up the mail without an active feeling of panic. By the next week, I had to change my mailbox to the largest one in the post office, and casual conversation with the postmaster was out of the question, because he wasn't speaking to me."
Part of the trouble, it appeared, was that she hadn’t taken many pains to hide the fact that, in many ways, the town she’d set the story in was based on her own Vermont burgh. But it was more than that, too. Jackson’s writing was so vivid and the story so calm yet escalatingly awful, it was hard to look away.

A month after the story came out, Jackson answered the outcry with a response in the July 22, 1948 edition of The San Francisco Chronicle. It’s possible it was not her intent to fan the flames with her words, but that isn’t obvious when you read them:
Explaining just what I had hoped the story to say is very difficult. I suppose, I hoped, by setting a particularly brutal ancient rite in the present and in my own village to shock the story's readers with a graphic dramatization of the pointless violence and general inhumanity in their own lives.
Jackson was prolific and produced an astonishing body of work considering the fact that she died at just 48. She wrote six novels, a handful of children’s books and scores of short stories. Even so, that relatively early story nudges out all of her other work, though her two last novels -- The Haunting of Hill House (1959) and We Have Always Lived in the Castle (1962) -- brought her a fair amount of acclaim. But nothing would have the impact and influence of “The Lottery,” still fresh and breathing all these miles beyond.


Thursday, June 27, 2013

Non-Fiction: To Save Everything, Click Here by Evgeny Morozov

I really wanted to like Evgeny Morozov’s new book. On the surface of things, it has everything going for it. Researcher and scholar Morozov is a visiting scholar at Stanford University and a fellow at the New America Foundation. His byline has appeared in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Economist, The Guardian, The New Republic, The Times Literary Supplement and many others. His voice is acerbic and confident and, if he is to be believed, Morozov has studied the future and what he found there terrified him.

As Morozov writes in the introduction to To Save Everything, Click Here: The Folly of Technological Solutionism (PublicAffairs):
The ultimate goal of this book … is to uncover the attitudes, dispositions, and urges that comprise the solutionist mind-set, to show how they manifest themselves in specific projects to ameliorate the human condition, and to hint at how and why some of these attitudes, dispositions, and urges can and should be resisted, circumvented and unlearned.
Which as you read on, turns out to be a kind of fancy way of saying: All that stuff that computers make look easy? It’s kind of a lie.

Though Morozov is not yet 30, his acerbic voice has something of an old guy quality to it through some of this material. Or maybe it just seems that way to me because I’ve heard my Uncle Stan say a lot of this stuff in the past. (Albeit less elegantly and in less convincing tones.) In the end, the message -- like Uncle Stan’s -- seems to be: beware the ease of apparent freedom. Technology is the wolf and it’s dressed something like a sheep. Here again, Uncle Stan wouldn’t say it quite this way, but once he worked out the polysyllables, he’d applaud the sentiment:
For only by unlearning solutionism -- that is, by transcending the limits it imposes on our imaginations and by rebelling against its value system -- will we understand why attaining technological perfection without attending to the intricacies of the human condition and accounting for the complex world of practices and traditions, might not be worth the price.
I’m not advising you avoid To Save Everything, Click Here. In fact, the opposite is true. Morozov has crafted another thought-provoking work (after 2011’s The Net Delusion: The Dark Side of Internet Freedom. Are we sensing a theme here?). It is not possible to read this impressive tome without being pushed to thought and sometimes to action. One should keep in mind, though, that this is a subjective work. Though Morozov’s voice is, at times, commanding, it’s best to keep an open mind while reading him. ◊

Jones Atwater is a contributing editor to January Magazine.

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Wednesday, June 26, 2013

This Just In… Screaming To Be Solved by Lauren Hope

Marxie Vaughn becomes a widow at 25 when her police officer husband, Evan, is tragically killed -- reduced to ashes in an explosion in the line of duty in their small Georgia town. 

Without a body to bury, Marxie is left to deal with the sorrow of his abrupt and brutal end. Seeking to start anew, she packs up and moves east to Savannah.

But when Detective Grant Carter knocks on her door two years after the accident, Marxie’s carefully rebuilt world turns upside down once more. The grim detective gives Marxie unimaginable news: Evan’s body has been found in a nearby canal.

Desperate for answers, Marxie embarks on a heart-wrenching journey to discover exactly what happened to the man she loved. And though the intriguing detective may have ulterior motives, he puts his whole being into helping the young widow bring closure to a mystery that haunts her. Together, Grant and Marxie work to unearth a secret that runs as deep and murky as Savannah’s canals.

You can order Screaming To Be Solved here. Visit author Lauren Hope on the web here. ◊

This Just In...
 is a column that shares basic information on selected titles. Titles are included at the editor’s discretion and on a first come, first served basis or for a small fee. Want to see your new book included? Ordering details are here.


Thriller Author Fights for Alzheimer’s Reasearch

Author of the Rizzoli & Isles series of thrillers, Tess Gerritsen (Last to Die, The Silent Girl) has put together a campaign that has raised over $20,000 in the last month for Alzheimer’s research.

In a touching short video, Gerritsen talks about losing her professional chef father to the disease and how researchers are coming close to a cure. Gerritsen says she will match donated funds with $25,000 of her own money, earmarks for The Scripps Research Institute, whom Gerritsen feels is close to a cure.

Every five dollar donation provides an entry into a raffle to win one of several prizes, including two opportunities to name a character in the next Rizzoli & Isles novel, which will be out in 2014. Three runners up will win Rizzoli & Isles prize packages, including signed copies of books and various memorabilia.

 “If you’ve lost loved ones to Alzheimer’s,” Gerrtisen says in the video, “here’s one way to make them come alive again: as a character in a Rizzoli & Isles thriller.”

You can read more about Gerritsen’s cause here.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Dan Brown-like Plot Emerges from Mysterious Voynich Text

A beautiful 15th century manuscript discovered in an Italian monastery in 1912 has long been thought to be a baffling hoax. Recent scientific discoveries, however, indicate that what many thought to be gorgeous gibberish may actually be some sort of ancient code. From New Scientist:
Now Marcelo Montemurro of the University of Manchester in the UK and colleagues have analysed the text using a technique that pulls out the most meaningful terms. "We decided that's ideal to use in this mysterious manuscript," Montemurro says. "People have been discussing and quarrelling for decades about whether it's a hoax. This would be a new approach."
Their results support the idea that Voynich text really does contain a secret message.
Rather than looking for patterns in the words themselves, Montemurro's method looks for more global patterns in the frequency and clustering of words that might indicate meaning. "The results that we get looking at these things cast a new light on the content of the volume," Montemurro says.
The method uses a formula to find the entropy of each term – a measure of how evenly distributed it is. For a given term, the researchers determined its entropy in both the original text and in a scrambled version. The difference between the two entropies, multiplied by the frequency of the word, gives a measure of how much information it carries.
The method recognises that words that are particularly important will appear more frequently, as well as making a distinction between low-information words like and, which you would expect to be sprinkled evenly throughout, and high-information ones like language, which might only appear in sections dealing with that topic.
So what’s it all mean? Maybe nothing we’ll ever understand:
Montemurro now hopes to analyse other information-carrying sequences that are not necessarily language, such as DNA or perhaps even neural signals. This might help geneticists home in on the most valuable stretches of DNA and reveal whether different parts of the brain "speak" to each other in a code.
"But [the Voynich manuscript] does have a fascination, because for one thing, there's no closure," Rugg admits. "It's like the most interesting whodunnit ever, and somebody's ripped out the last three pages."
The full piece is here.

Stolen Textbooks Mount Up

Christopher J. Brock of Yukon, Oklahoma, was arrested in Tampa, Florida, last week for allegedly stealing $2.8 million dollars in textbooks from Wiley & Sons.

According to NJ.Com, it’s thought that Brock profited from more than 16,000 textbooks that Wiley had designated as samples. Apparently “the money that Brock got as a result of the scheme was largely used for personal expenditures, including high-end home furnishings.”

This Just In… Pinot Envy by Edward Finstein

Meet Woody Robins, a bon vivant, devil-may-care wine guru who specializes in investigatory work involving rare artifacts of a vinous nature.

Amidst the backdrop of world-famous Napa, California, wine country, and upbeat, cosmopolitan “city by the bay” San Francisco, Woody finds he’s bitten off more than he can chew when hired by a wealthy grape grower to retrieve his stolen, rare, priceless, large bottle of red Burgundy that once belonged to the French emperor, Napoleon Bonaparte.

Tested by a colorful cast of characters, deceit, blackmail, intrigue, dealings with the mob, and even murder ensue. With the help of his dozy boyhood chum, girlfriend, aunt, and detective buddy with San Francisco’s finest, he eventually manages to unravel the case, but not before he learns a thing or two about himself.

Author Edward Finstein, “The Wine Doctor,” is an internationally recognized wine expert. He is the award-winning author of Ask the Wine Doctor. A TV and radio host, he is a renowned journalist writing for numerous newspapers, magazines and on the Internet in North America and abroad. As an international wine judge, he travels the world judging in competitions.

You can pre-order Pinot Envy here. Visit author Edward Finstein on the web here. ◊

This Just In... is a column that shares basic information on selected titles. Titles are included at the editor’s discretion and on a first come, first served basis or for a small fee. Want to see your new book included? Ordering details are here.


Sunday, June 23, 2013

Book of Negroes Director Interviewed

A mini-series based on Canadian novelist Lawrence Hill’s award-winning 2007 novel, The Book of Negroes, will reach small screens some time in the latter half of 2014. From CBC, Hamilton:

The series will be produced by Conquering Lion Pictures and directed by Toronto's Clement Virgo. His most recent work includes directing seven episodes of the NBC/CTV show The Listener. He is perhaps most famous for the features Poor Boy’s Game, starring Danny Glover, and Lie with Me, a provocative romance that has played in over 45 countries.
 The Book of Negroes is expected to begin shooting this fall in South Africa. 

Yesterday Joanna Ward interviewed director Clement Virgo for the CBC.
CBC: That was one thing I noticed that a lot of people are concerned about, that the book would be watered down when it was converted to television, that some of the grit of the story would be left out. How do you feel about that? 
CV: I’m not so much concerned about the, as you said, the grit not being in the story. For me, it’s more about the emotional impact of the story as opposed to the graphic nature of the story. We’re not going to shy away from the reality of what happened.
I want the audience to feel the story as opposed to just watching a spectacle and feeling detached from it. So for me, I’m not so concerned about it being watered down. I’m very, very confident that we’ll be able to translate the emotional impact of the story.
Virgo also said that, even though author Lawrence Hill’s novel -- released internationally as The Book of Negroes -- was sold in the United States as Someone Knows My Name, Virgo said he expected the mini-series to be distributed in the U.S. under its original title. Virgo said that “so far we haven’t had any objections to that title. So right now it’s called The Book of Negroes in the U.S. and around the world.”


Saturday, June 22, 2013

How Pretty Does An Author Need to Be?

Detail from Mariana in the South by John William Waterhouse
Look, I get that, in a recent BookRiot piece, Andrew Shaffer (Literary Rogues, Fifty Shames of Earl Grey: A Parody) is trying to be funny and when he cries “foul” on journalists who use physical description when writing about authors. Writes Shaffer:
Recently, the New York Times published a profile of literary agent Luke Janklow, drawing attention to his “eyes the color of cornflowers.” A separate Times Style section story on Dagmara Dominczyk (author of the recently released The Lullaby of Polish Girls) made note of her “sculpted lips.” 
Such details always jump out at me in literary profiles in a funny way—maybe because I’m still a little bitter that the New York Times failed to mention the height of my cheekbones or my deep, cerulean blue eyes when they profiled me in the Style section last year.
Tongue-in-cheek or not, it’s something I’ve heard often enough in the book world that it seems worth discussing.

There are those who feel that physical description in an interview is meant to illustrate how attractive the author is… or is not. But, in most cases anyway, that isn’t it at all. Just like in the writing of fiction, physical description can be important. It’s another tool in the writing toolbox and it can be used to make the meeting between writer and subject more personal.

Description is a journalistic technique. It’s meant to make the meeting more immediate, more intimate, more real to the reader. It’s got nothing to do with cheekbones. It’s got to do with creating the feeling of being there. It’s not about more or less perfect. (Perfection is subjective, in any case.) It’s about evoking a moment.

And so, when I interviewed Margaret Atwood, I mentioned her stature. (She’s surprisingly tiny and her talent, reputation and presence are huge) and the fact that, in person, Emeril Lagasse was soft-spoken and somewhat reserved was important considering his brash public persona.

When you read an interview that I have written, I want you in the room with me. I want you to share what I have experienced. Physical appearance is not always a part of that. But sometimes I can share a detail that makes the person live for my reader. Isn’t that any writer’s duty? To use the tools available to make the experience live.

Meanwhile, back at BookRiot, Shaffer has us play a game where we connect the author with the correct Times descriptor. It’s silly fun... and fairly impossible to do with 100 per cent accuracy. You can try it here.

Anne Rice’s Christ the Lord Given the Treatment

A film based on Interview with the Vampire author Anne Rice’s novel Christ the Lord: Out of Egypt is currently in development. A film is expected to reach screens by 2015.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, FilmDistrict will distribute while Hyde Park International will handle foreign rights and a team including 1492 Pictures’ Chris Columbus, Mark Radcliffe and Michael Barnathan will produce. From The Hollywood Reporter:

Cyrus Nowrasteh will direct from a script that he and his wife Betsy Nowrasteh wrote. Christ the Lord is described as a fictionalized version of the story of Jesus as a young boy, who is just beginning to learn the truth about his identity and purpose.

With a U.S. distributor and financing in place, now all eyes will be on who the filmmakers will cast to play the young Jesus.
January Magazine contributing editor Tony Buchsbaum interviewed Rice in 2005 when Christ the Lord first came out. You can read that piece here.


This Just In… Summer of Love: Dana’s Story by Patricia McLaine

So many men, so little time, with her career in high gear too, what will sexy, stunning film actress Dana Scofield do besides engage in erotic romps with gorgeous men during the decadently delicious Summer of Love -- 1967? 

Will Dana’s artist friend, Paula, choose the handsome Texas rancher or the young and juicy Georgia peach? How does lust compare with love when it comes to finding true and lasting happiness? These are among Dana’s diverse dilemmas during the wild and wonderful Summer of Love!  

“It’s hot outdoors because it’s summer. It’s hot indoors as two friends search for love: One a successful actress who fulfills her sexual needs with the leading man of the moment. The other torn between her desire from the past and the stability of a good man who may hold the key to her future happiness. What do they do?  Not always what you expect. But it sure is fun as Patricia McLaine heats up the pages with lust that leaves you wanting more, during the magical Summer of Love.” -- Maggie Linton, Sirius XM Book Radio

You can order Summer of Love here. Visit author Patricia McLaine on the web here. ◊

This Just In...
 is a column that shares basic information on selected titles. Titles are included at the editor’s discretion and on a first come, first served basis or for a small fee. Want to see your new book included? Ordering details are here.


Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Director Signed for Shades of Grey Movie

It seems likely that, sometime in the not-so-distant future, a pretty bad movie will be made from a compellingly awful book. And now a director has been chosen. From Deadline:
Sam Taylor-Johnson, whose directorial debut was 2009′s Nowhere Boy about the early life of John Lennon, has been secured to direct Fifty Shades Of Grey, the sizzling novel adaptation from Universal Pictures and Focus Features. Fellow Brit Kelly Marcel has written the script for the movie, based on EL James’ bestseller that follows the relationship between 27-year-old billionaire Christian Grey and college student Anastasia Steele. 
It seems possible that Deadline doesn’t agree with our crappy-by-association idea:
This is a hot job, and rumors have been flying about directors like Gus Van Sant, Susanne Bier and Joe Wright in the running, but Taylor-Johnson is a surprise choice. 
Gus Van Sant? Right. Don’t tell me: was he too busy washing his hair?

Scoffing aside, the three Shades books have been translated into 45 languages and sold over 70 million copies in e-book and print. It’s possible that, whether the book is good or bad, a lot of people will line up.

We previously reported on the film version of Fifty Shades of Grey here.


Vince Flynn Dead at 47

Very sad to report on the passing of bestselling thriller author Vince Flynn (American Assassin, Term Limits). Early in 2011, Flynn announced on his web site that he was battling prostate cancer.

Flynn was best known for his novels featuring under-cover CIA counter-terrorism agent Mitch Rapp.

The Rap Sheet offers more about Flynn and his passing here.


This Just In… Telegraph Hill by John F. Nardizzi

In Telegraph Hill, private detective Ray Infantino searches for a missing girl named Tania. The case takes him to San Francisco, the city he abandoned years ago, after his fiance was murdered. Thrust into his old city haunts, Ray finds that Tania may not be lost at all. Tania saw a murder; and a criminal gang, the Black Fist Triad, wants to make sure she never sees anything again. Ray enlists help from an old flame, but now he has three women on his mind. 

Meeting with various witnesses -- ex-cops, prostitutes, skinheads -- he relentlessly tracks the evidence. But the hunt for Tania fires his obsession with avenging the murder of his fiance. When the triad retaliates, and blood begins to flow, Ray must walk the knife edge between revenge and redemption on the streets of San Francisco.

You can order Telegraph Hill here. Visit author John F. Nardizzi on the web here. ◊

This Just In...
 is a column that shares basic information on selected titles. Titles are included at the editor’s discretion and on a first come, first served basis or for a small fee. Want to see your new book included? Ordering details are here.


Children's Books: Dark Lord: A Fiend In Need by Jamie Thomson

Wow. Just wow. When you thought it couldn’t get any better, Jamie Thomson’s sequel to his hugely praised novel, Dark Lord: The Early Years, is even better than its predecessor. Dark Lord: A Fiend in Need (Walker Childrens) exceeds the original by pumping up the action, danger, comedy, and cleverness.

This time, our main protagonist (or antagonist, for that matter), Dirk Lloyd, a Dark Lord from another dimension, must join forces with his foster brother to return to his homeworld of the Darklands to save his friend Sooz, who was accidently sent there in the previous installment. Meanwhile, Sooz must navigate her way through the treacherous land by befriending Dirk’s former warriors and becoming her own queen. Shenanigans ensue involving a White Witch, dimension jumping, and a whole lot of betrayal. By the end of this book, you’ll cheer with joy to see that we have been set up for a third book.

After reading the book, a great depression fell over me, as I realized that I would have to wait a whole year until the next book. Left off of on a massive cliffhanger, I must wait for a year, until another BEA.

Jamie Thomson was one of the biggest names in writing during the 1980s and 90s. After going into the videogame business, he returned to writing to make the Dark Lord novels, which have won him many awards and much praise. He lives in Great Britain, writing novels for kids, editing, and making video games. ◊

Ian Buchsbaum is a kid who loves to read. In fact, the only thing he loves more than reading is writing. He loves writing about books -- and he’s already writing one of his own.

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This Just In… Spectrum: The Joy, Stress, Love and Goodbyes of Expats in Beijing by Thomas Longrigg

A collection of anecdotes, conversations and random banter highlighting the ups and downs of expat life in Beijing. 

It’s not always easy living overseas, and China is a country whose culture and customs are alien to many of us. Spectrum: The Joy, Stress, Love and Goodbyes of Expats in Beijing explores the spectrum of people and emotions existing in Beijing's thriving expat community. Follow a group of characters in their everyday lives, and for some, learn how Beijing changed their lives forever.

You can order Spectrum here. ◊

This Just In... is a column that shares basic information on selected titles. Titles are included at the editor’s discretion and on a first come, first served basis or for a small fee. Want to see your new book included? Ordering details are here.


Ancient Manuscripts to be Saved by Crowdfunding

It always pleases me when high tech solutions are applied to low tech problems. Truly, I can’t imagine a case that would be a better example than this one. Timbuktu Libraries in Exile is using crowdfunding to try to raise $100,000 in order to save ancient manuscripts smuggled out of Timbuktu during the crisis in Mali. According to the Guardian, there are hundreds of thousands of them.

Dating back over 700 years, the fragile manuscripts range from poetry to commerce records, and are from Andalusia and Southern Europe, Arabia, Egypt, Morocco,and Arab trading ports on the Indian Ocean as well as the region of Timbuktu itself. Initially reported to have been destroyed by Islamist rebels in a fire, the 300,000 manuscripts were evacuated from Timbuktu by librarians and archivists.
The Indigogo campaign sums it up like this:
In 2012, under threat from fundamentalist rebels, a team of archivists, librarians, and couriers evacuated an irreplaceable trove of manuscripts from Timbuktu at great personal risk. The manuscripts have been saved from immediate destruction, but the danger is not over. A massive archival effort is needed to protect this immense global heritage from loss.
Using an approach that will seem familiar to anyone who has ever watched PBS, a tiered contribution program offers donators the opportunity to gain premiums such as archival prints, half-hour Skype calls with archivists and even, with a $25,000 donation, the opportunity to visit the manuscripts in Mali.

At time of writing, they had achieved more than half of their goal with a couple of days yet to go. To contribute or even to see more about manuscripts and their amazing journey, visit the indiegogo web site here.

This Just In… Passion and Principle by Patricia McLaine

This is the story of Mary Margaret Kathleen Kelly O'Reilly, a young Pagan Catholic born with a veil (second sight) in Dingle, Ireland in 1798. 

This romantic historical tale begins in an Ireland still under British rule, with the oppression of Roman Catholics, and great bitterness among the Irish people, who desire most of all freedom from the British Crown. At a young age, Maggie finds herself torn between her passion for a young smuggler and a handsome soldier of the Crown. The story is rich in the history and drama of the Ireland, Europe and America between 1798 and 1871.

You can order Passion and Principle here. Visit author Patricia McLaine on the web here. ◊

This Just In... is a column that shares basic information on selected titles. Titles are included at the editor’s discretion and on a first come, first served basis or for a small fee. Want to see your new book included? Ordering details are here.


A New Quest for The Dark Crystal

Back in 1982, The Dark Crystal provided magic for millions. Produced and directed by the fabulous team that brought the world The Muppets, The Dark Crystal had a budget of $15 million and did over $40 million at the box office at a time when box office intake was trending down.

The story was transcendent. The cracking of a magical crystal a thousand years ago produced two warring races. There are tasks and various heroic journeys and, of course, all sorts of visual magic, as well. It was a wonderful 93 minutes.

Those who remember The Dark Crystal from childhood may well be excited to learn of the latest quest from their old favorites. The Jim Henson Company and a YA imprint of Penguin Young Readers Group have set out to find an author for a new novel set in the world of The Dark Crystal. And in true Dark Crystal fashion, they’ve set it up in a way that’s sure to arose interest and competition. From The Dark Crystal web site:
This new Dark Crystal novel will be a prequel story set at the time of the Gelfling Gathering, between the Second Great Conjunction and the creation of the Wall of Destiny. We will be placing all known lore from this era on, the definitive home of The Dark Crystal. There you will find all the knowledge available for you to shape and build your story—and all we ask is that you share your stories with us.
Submissions from “all professional and aspiring professional writers” will be accepted between October 1st, 2013 to December 31st, 2013. Full details of the quest are available here.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

This Just In… Arrival of the Prophecy by Robin Renee Ray

Shape-shifters have lived in chaos for centuries, fighting clan against clan and breed killing breed. All Were-beings knew of the prophecy that spoke of the “ones” who would come and bring peace to those who lived among the humans in secrecy and to those who lived under the thumb of an overbearing ruler.

Werewolf and clan leader Anthony Michelle meets the beautiful Sky Delaney and quickly realizes that she carries the other half of his soul, his one true mate and the “one” that can set the prophecy on its foretold path, only to find that she is a frail, pure ... human.

You can order Arrival of the Prophecy here. Visit author Robin Renee Ray on the web here. ◊

This Just In... is a column that shares basic information on selected titles. Titles are included at the editor’s discretion and on a first come, first served basis or for a small fee. Want to see your new book included? Ordering details are here.


New Today: Island Girls by Nancy Thayer

It would perhaps be an over-statement to call Nancy Thayer queen of the beach read. Even so, 16 novels into a fantastic career, one would not go far in saying that about the Nantucket-based author.

Just in case you don’t believe me, have a look at the first edition cover of her latest book, Island Girls (Ballantine). As you can see: ocean, a horizon line, a beach umbrella. If ever a book were designed to tempt you onto the strand, this is it. And the content? Well, the cover informed it. And whichever Ballantine publicist who, in the press release that accompanied the book into reviewer’s hands, warned that, “Thayer’s newest tale will have readers at the edge of their beach towels.”

Like many of Thayer’s novels, Island Girls is set on Nantucket. The girls in question are Meg, Arden and Jenny, three half-sisters who are forced to spend the summer on the island when their dashing father dies and they come home to spend the summer in the house together, as their father insisted so that they might sell it. The trio have old issues that need resolution before they can live together harmoniously and having them forced to work things out seems to be their late father’s unspoken last wish.

Though I liked Island Girls well enough, it lacked some of the grit and substance of a few of Thayer’s earlier titles. Heat Wave, for example. Or The Hot Flash Club. That said, Island Girls is a perfect book to chill with. The conflict resolves itself acceptably, and the characters are engaging enough to warrant spending some time with. ◊

Sienna Powers is a transplanted Calgarian who lives and works in Vancouver, B.C. She is a writer and conceptual artist.

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Monday, June 17, 2013

This Just In… The Kingdom of Hope by James Roberts

What Price Loyalty?

What Price Justice?

What Price Love?

It's 1986, the Soviet and American Governments are about to complete an historic spy swap. Bill Reynolds, the CIA agent who has spent the last seven years in Soviet custody, is coming home. Haunted by the memory of his dead wife and seeking answers, he is pursued by shadowy assailants. But from whom does he have the most to fear? The shadowy KGB agents, or his own people?

And what startling revelation will turn his whole world upside down?

You can order The Kingdom of Hope here. ◊

This Just In... is a column that shares basic information on selected titles. Titles are included at the editor’s discretion and on a first come, first served basis or for a small fee. Want to see your new book included? Ordering details are here.


Reading Goes to the Dogs

Should you read to your dogs? Maybe. That’s what a group of students in Hamilton, Montana, have been proving once a week when they troop down to their local animal shelter to spend some quality time reading to the canine inmates. From The Huffington Post:
Once a week, students from the Keystone to Discovery Enrichment program, a nonprofit summer and after-school project for behaviorally or academically at-risk youth, head to Bitter Root Humane Association to read to shelter animals that are waiting for adoption. The program not only gives the kids a chance to work on their reading skills, but also helps soothe the animals.
"The dogs really respond to the kids. It really helps to have somebody talk to them," Bitter Root's lead animal care attendant, Charlotte, told HuffPost. Charlotte chose not to disclose her last name.
As terrific as the program sounds, it’s not revolutionary. The powerful impact reading to pets can have -- on both the reader and the readee -- has been under study for some time. In fact, in 2010 Medical News Today reported that a study had recently been completed that proved that “reading to dogs helped children improve their fluency by up to 30 per cent. Many animal organizations and libraries in the US already have reading improvement schemes where they pair up children and dogs, but until now the evidence has been more anecdotal than research-based.”
Part of the Library Dogs program, this collie
seems to be paying close attention to the story.

A program called Library Dogs has put these thoughts into strong and successful action. From their web site:
Children reading storybooks to dogs -- what could be cuter? But every day we’re learning there’s more than just cuteness when this happens. The smiles on a child’s face, the wagging tail of the dog, the excitement of doing something different (even forbidden in some public places) proves there’s anticipation when it comes to reading in this particular setting. And that’s what it’s all about. Youngsters of all ages are not only learning to read, they’re looking forward to it. They’re learning to love to read!
Meanwhile, back in Montana, Ria Overholt, the director of the program that brings student to the shelter reports that it isn’t just the kids who benefit. “We’ve seen that the sound of their voices is soothing for the dogs and cats.” Overholt said to the Ravalli Republic. “It is relaxing to the dogs to hear those calm and steady voices."


This Just In… Desolation Row by Kay Kendall

It’s 1968. The Cold War is hot, the Vietnam War is raging, and the women’s movement is beating a far-distant drum. When Austin Starr’s husband decides to protest the war by emigrating from Texas to Canada, she goes along.

No activist herself, Austin is homesick, drowning in culture shock, and now, her husband has been accused of murdering a fellow draft resister, the black-sheep son of a U.S. Senator. Alone and ill-equipped to negotiate in a foreign country, she is befriended by the daughter of Austin’s Russian history professor.

The Mounties aren’t supposed to harass draft-age boys but the truth is very different, especially when political pressure is applied by both the victim’s father and the Canadian prime minister’s office. They may have a reputation for always getting their man, but Austin is convinced this time they have the wrong one.

Once courted by the CIA, and a lover of mystery and espionage novels, Austin launches her own investigation into the murder. When ominous letters warning her to stop her sleuthing turn into death threats, Austin must find the real killer or risk losing everything. Her love -- and her life -- are on the line.

You can order Desolation Row here. Visit author Kay Kendall on the web here. ◊

This Just In...
 is a column that shares basic information on selected titles. Titles are included at the editor’s discretion and on a first come, first served basis or for a small fee. Want to see your new book included? Ordering details are here.


Friday, June 14, 2013

Cookbooks: Guy Gourmet by Adina Steiman and Paul Kita

There was a time that a cookbook aimed entirely at men were comprised of stacks of recipes for huge portions of fatty foods -- mostly meat -- and how to put them together easily into different, now edible stacks. And, truly, that time wasn’t so very long ago.

Despite its manly appearance, Guy Gourmet (Rodale) is a different sort of animal. While the design, presentation and even food choices all seem pretty testosterone-led, the emphasis here is on lean and healthy. Not surprising, in a way, considering the book was prepared by the editors of Men’s Health. But even that phrase has different, deeper connotations than it used to. Men have different expectations of themselves these days and most often “strong” and “lean” are included in the definition. And though the recipes are top-knotch and spot-on -- carefully selected for flavor, leaness and ease of preparation -- in some ways, they are not the heart of this book.

What, for me, took center stage was the bright new way in which food was talked about and shared. For instance, I loved a section called “Unhealthy” Stuff That’s Actually Good For You. Among other things, it lets you know why pork rinds, alcohol, beef jerky, sour cream and other “treats” can actually be good for you. Another interesting spread offers powerful small snack alternatives to the hundred-calorie snack pack trend. A very good section on the home bar includes not only drink recipes and bar staples but also discussions on health and alcohol and even the caloric content of popular drinks. (Your classic Tom Collins is only going to set you back 115 calories while a delicious Margarita will hit you with a whopping 237.)

For all of that, the recipes are tough to beat: and all perfectly selected for this particular collection. There is very little here that is predictable and even classic male “standards” are given new -- and often undetectably light -- twists.

Of the recipes I made, there were a few I enjoyed that I know I’ll make again. I especially loved the Caramelized Onion Dip which is a modern take on an American classic that here manages to be light and rich at the same time. The Asian Dumpling Bowl is fast food made at home that’s so good and so quick, I know I’ll make it again and again. And, from the Date Night section, I can’t think of a more perfect meal for a man to make the first time he cooks for a woman than Seared Scallops with White Beans and Bacon. It sends the perfect message of sensitivity and strength… plus you don’t need to spend all night in the kitchen.

I liked this one a lot. I can’t imagine changing a single thing. ◊

Jones Atwater is a contributing editor to January Magazine.

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This Just In… First Kiss (Heavy Influence #1) by Ann Marie Frohoff

Mature Young Adult: A sexually charged coming of age.

Jake, an up and coming teenage rocker on the verge of stardom, reconnects with Alyssa, the younger girl next door. When she becomes something more they're forced to face the harsh realities on his road to fame and the expectations of their friends and family. Sacrifices are made as everything changes as they know it.

You can order First Kiss here. Visit author Ann Marie Frohoff  on the web here. ◊

This Just In... is a column that shares basic information on selected titles. Titles are included at the editor’s discretion and on a first come, first served basis or for a small fee. Want to see your new book included? Ordering details are here.


Biography: Official Truth: 101 Proof: The Inside Story of Pantera by Rex Brown and Mark Eglinton

A decade after they were torn asunder, super metal group, Pantera, has more than seven million Facebook fans. Numbers like would be a major feat for an active group, never mind an essentially dead one. And make no mistake, though three of the original four bandmembers are still alive, Pantera is no more, nor will it be. That much is clear from Official Truth: 101 Proof: The Inside Story of Pantera (DaCapo).

Of course, the pivotal moment in Pantera’s story comes near the end. It’s a part that was documented in Zac Crain’s very compelling Black Tooth Grin: The High Life, Good Times, and Tragic End of “Dimebag” Darrell Abbott.

Abbott was the founder of Pantera, an act that seemed as turbulent and fraught as the decade that gave the band its biggest success. Pantera was metal in the age of grunge and they were unapologetic.

What helps give Official Truth its authentic ring is the voice of co-author Rex Brown, the bass player who joined the band in 1982, just a year after the mercurial Abbot brothers put the outfit together. The fact that the voice grates at times is apparent almost from the very beginning. And though he’s earned -- he can walk that walk -- Rex Brown’s rock god arrogance can be a little hard to take.

Though it doesn’t sound like life in Pantera was ever much of a party (other than the very nastiest kind),
in 2004, Darrel Abbot was killed by a deranged fan while he was onstage, putting a dramatic finale on a story that seemed headed for tragedy almost since the very beginning.

Official Truth is a proper rock biography, but it’s not for the faint of heart. Some readers will find it a little too gritty and a little too real and, certainly, the F-bomb gets thrown around sometimes more than one would ever have thought possible. But it’s a portrait, of sorts. And if you ever thought the world of a rock god was sexy and golden, read Official Truth and think again. ◊

Lincoln Cho is a freelance writer and editor. He lives in the Chicago area where he works in the high tech industry. He is currently working on a his first novel, a science fiction thriller set in the world of telecommunications.

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This Just In… Pitens Alley by Brian Luckett

A message from the author:

“The sign is labeled Pitens Alley and bears the name of the savvy cat who is a metaphor into the psyche of dreams. Join me while we go to a place in our minds where Pitens and company resides at an address I call Pitens Alley. An ode to bookworms inputting a few transient thoughts to accompany you down Pitens Alley that, like the fable Mr. Hommes, strolls down the alley virtually awake on the heels of another page between a rock and hard place on the same page of a fable labeled Pitens Alley.”

You can order Pitens Alley here or here. ◊

This Just In... is a column that shares basic information on selected titles. Titles are included at the editor’s discretion and on a first come, first served basis or for a small fee. Want to see your new book included? Ordering details are here.


Novelizations: Why Bother?

There are plenty of good reasons to go to the movies when our favorite book is transformed for the screen. Even when we don’t love what Hollywood does to our beloved works of prose, we have reason to expect a different artistic experience. And there is always the possibility (though slight) that it might be even better than the book. A lot of people (certainly not all) felt that way about The English Patient. Almost no one felt it about Reacher. Still, it was a different experience. It was meant to be. But novelizations? They’re different. As Christopher Shultz explains in Litreactor:
For those of you in the dark, a novelization is pretty much exactly what it sounds like: a transformation of a movie into a book, whereby the original narrative is delivered to audiences not through images, sounds and special effects, but through prose—or, the exact opposite of a novel's adaptation to the big screen.
And because, more often than not, a novelization’s big purpose is not to fill your heart or illuminate your soul, but rather to empty your pockets, there is not much hope for art. Even so, as Shultz points out, for some readers, novelizations can have a certain charm and, perhaps especially for younger readers, a definite strong appeal.

You can read Shultz’s well-stated thoughts here.


This Just In… Shardfall by Paul E. Horsman

Muus is only a thrall, a chattel without rights, but he knows the small, blue shard he picked up belongs to him alone.

Kjelle, heir to the Lord of a rich mininghold, is strong, and covetous of his thrall’s tantalizing find. The one’s greed causes an avalanche that leaves both young men marooned on an icy mountain slope. The other’s commonsense saves their lives from cold and starvation.

Now the antagonists are bound together on a danger-laden journey to a lost and burning land, where Muus needs to connect the skyshard to the Kalmanir, the standing stone that is the world’s fount of all magic. The Kalmanir’s time is almost up and it urgently needs to be replenished before the magic of Gods and men runs out. The two antagonists have to learn to trust each other, for all around them, enemies abound. Rebels threaten both the kingdom and Kjelle’s holding, and a tribe of mad idolaters is trying to recall the banned primordial Old Gods.

Even more imminent is Muus’ danger, for it comes from nearby, from the shard itself. Muus is the only person in the world who can wield the powerful skyshard. Will he succeed with Kjelle’s help to reach the standing stone before the world’s magic dies?

Shardfall is an epic, non-gritty journey through a wild, snowy land. Each of the four main characters, Muus, Kjelle, the young wisewoman Birthe with her baby son Buí and the naive Tuuri, who serves the enemy, will have to overcome not only the dangers of their journey, but also their own shortcomings.

You can order Shardfall here. Visit author Paul E. Horsman on the web here. ◊

This Just In... is a column that shares basic information on selected titles. Titles are included at the editor’s discretion and on a first come, first served basis or for a small fee. Want to see your new book included? Ordering details are here.


Thursday, June 13, 2013

Official Salinger Video Released

It may be one of the most anticipated films of the year and the newly released official trailer sure makes it look interesting... if a little odd. Though, after all, with this topic and these players, how could you go wrong?

Armageddon screenwriter Shane Salerno directed this feature-length Weinstein Company-distributed documentary which enjoyed successful screenings recently at Cannes. Tom Wolfe, John Cusack, Martin Sheen, Edward Norton and others appear in the trailer for Salinger, which will be released in early September.

January Magazine previously talked about Salinger the movie here.


This Just In… The Legend of the Bloodstone by E.B. Brown

In 2012, a woman cuts her hand and picks up a strange colored stone and suddenly she is staring into the eyes of an angry Powhatan warrior... and the only town nearby is Jamestown, circa 1622.

Maggie McMillan wakes up one day as a college student, yet ends the day as the Red Woman: A legendary time walker that every loyal Powhatan brave wants to kill. Captured by Winkeohkwet, a warrior who is torn between his duty to kill her and his desire to keep her, she is thrust into a life she had only read about in history books.

Hunted and feared by both the Powhatan and the English, she struggles to find a way home while Winkeohkwet plots to keep her there. Maggie fights to survive as she finds herself entangled in the Indian Massacre of 1622, and Winkeohkwet sees everything he ever believed in shattered by the knowledge she holds.

As they battle against each other and the message she brings from the future, she must decide whether to return to her own time, or to make a life in the past with the man who holds her heart captive.

You can order The Legend of the Bloodstone here. Visit author E.B. Brown on the web here. ◊

This Just In... is a column that shares basic information on selected titles. Titles are included at the editor’s discretion and on a first come, first served basis or for a small fee. Want to see your new book included? Ordering details are here.


Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Self-Published Books “Terrible”

How could this headline in Good E-Reader not catch your eye?

“The Overwhelming Majority of Self-Published eBooks Are Terrible”

In a piece about the lack of gatekeepers in the current self-publishing model, Michael Kozlowski writes:
At the Writing in a Digital Conference in London, Andrew Franklin, founder and managing director of Profile Books, blasted authors who self-publish. “The overwhelming majority of self-published books are terrible—unutterable rubbish, they don’t enhance anything in the world.”
Franklin went on a verbal tirade against the vast majority of self-published authors saying, “These books come out and are met with a deathly silence, so the principle experience of self-publishing is one of disappointment.” He went on to voice his increasingly disparaging remarks by saying “I was very shocked to learn you can buy Facebook friends and likes on social media. That is what passes for affirmation in what I think is the deeply corrupt world of self-publishing.”
You can read the full piece here.

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Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Scarlett Johansson Looks to Avenge Use of Her Name

Though the very latest news featuring Avengers star Scarlett Johansson is about her wearing head-to-toe Saint Laurent at the Tony Awards at Radio City Music Hall on Sunday night, the biggest Johansson hullabaloo may still be to come.

The 28-year-old actress recently embarked on a lawsuit that could upset the creative applecart throughout authordom. According to The Independent:
The American star is challenging writer Grégoire Delacourt, and his publisher JC Lattes, after he described a character in his novel as being her “doppelgänger”, or exact double. The case – if it comes to court – could make legal and literary history.
Despite the author insisting that the comparison is meant as a compliment and tribute to Ms Johansson’s beauty, the actress, famed for her role in Lost In Translation, is demanding compensation and damages from the publisher for the “breach and fraudulent use of personal rights”.
She is also seeking to ban all foreign translations and film adaptations of the book – despite the fact that Scarlett Johansson is the perfect choice of actress for the role of a woman who looks like Scarlett Johansson, this being the most obvious job opportunity in cinema since John Malkovich appeared in Being John Malkovich.
La première chose qu’on regarde (The First Thing We Look At) has been a bestseller in France since its release in mid-March. Author Gregoire Delacourt told Le Figaro that he was stunned when informed of the suit Friday morning. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the author “also noted that he compared the main male character to Ryan Gosling and his boss to Gene Hackman in the book as an almost immediate way to invoke recognition of characteristics for readers.”
“This corresponds with the fantasies of our times. All these famous people live with us,” he said, noting that many personal details of Johansson’s love life have been revealed on the Internet and the public feels as if it knows her. “But I wrote a book of fiction. My character is not Scarlett Johansson, it is Jeanine Foucaprez!”
He describes the novel as an exploration of the “dictatorship of appearances and the true beauty of women,” and says he chose Johansson, currently the face of Dolce & Gabbana and previously Louis Vuitton, because she is considered the “epitome of beauty today.”

This Just In… The Last Refrain by John Abbott

Losing a record deal can be devastating for a band, especially a family band. After this setback, rock band Shiloh Red decides to head out on the road, touring the fairgrounds of the Midwest, instead of calling it quits. Through a series of miscommunications, Ken, the band’s front man, gets everybody believing that they really do have a record deal which transforms their performances, their relationships and, ultimately, the attention they receive from reporters, disc jockeys, rock critics and fans.

Told from the point of view of various band members, The Last Refrain follows the complex relationships as the band tries to finish out their tour.

You can order The Last Refrain here. Visit author John Abbott on the Web here. ◊

This Just In... is a column that shares basic information on selected titles. Titles are included at the editor’s discretion and on a first come, first served basis or for a small fee. Want to see your new book included? Ordering details are here.


Monday, June 10, 2013

Iain Banks Dies at 59

Two months after announcing he had terminal cancer, Scottish author Iain Banks has died. He was 59. From The Guardian:
In an email to friends, his widow said that he had died peacefully and was in no pain. The couple had been hoping for a few more months together.
His friend and fellow writer, Ken MacLeod, told BBC News: "He was still in good spirits and concentrating on his plans and projects and expecting to have another few months. But his situation took a turn for the worse." 
He added: "What Iain brought to his writing was himself. He brought a wonderful combination of the dark and the light side of life, and he explored them both without flinching.
Just a few weeks ago, Banks submitted his final novel, The Quarry, to his publisher. The book will be released in June of this year. The Guardian says that The Quarry “describes the final weeks of the life of a man in his 40s who has terminal cancer.”


This Just In… All the Way Home: Building Recovery That Works by David Berner

All the Way Home is about addictions and how to get past them.

The book is a personal memoir, a cultural history, an instructional manual and a polemic against all the enabling policies that have such unfortunate currency. It illustrates in dramatic and comic detail that the antidote to addictions is rigorous engagement of the whole person. An enormous Valentine to the millions of men, women and children who have recognized their addictions and moved on. It is also a swift kick in the rear to the countless politicians, mandarins and enablers who have never invested a single penny in treatment or an ounce of human energy in providing the hope and guidance that allows the afflicted to live as citizens.

“Everyone who cares about those who are suffering the hells of addiction or about public policy should go out and get this book,” says The Vancouver Sun, “as should anyone who values sentences that are well written, pungent and charged with conviction, passion and wit.”

You can order All the Way Home here. Visit author David Berner on the Web here. ◊

This Just In... is a column that shares basic information on selected titles. Titles are included at the editor’s discretion and on a first come, first served basis or for a small fee. Want to see your new book included? Ordering details are here.


On the Floor: Book Expo 2013

This year’s annual convention of all things publishing was held at the Javits Center in New York City from May 31st through June 1st. A few things set it apart from other years’ events. The show seemed a bit smaller this year, more compact, with booths, meeting rooms, even shipping condensed into the center’s massive main-floor rooms.

There were plenty of authors and books around, of course. There’s a new Scott Turow legal thriller coming. A new Jacqueline Mitchard in the YA space. A new seven-novel series from a British woman who’s just 20 and already is making global buzz. And about 27 new James Patterson novels (a slight exaggeration, perhaps).

Advance copies were everywhere, and so were authors. I spotted a few: Turow, Mo Willems, Doris Kearns Goodwin, Chelsea Handler and Lemony Snicket. I heard Donna Tartt was there; her third novel is coming soon. Wally Lamb, too, and Diana Gabaldon. Amy Tan, who has a new novel coming this fall. Jim Carrey, in a mode I can only call manic but gracious, greeted a mob of thousands on day two, then another, smaller mob on day three. Even his smaller group was pretty massive, and he had more bodyguards and crowd control than anyone in recent memory. Jessica Lange was there, radiant as ever. Jim Gaffigan spoke for a bit, then signed copies of his book.

I attended a breakfast (along with a thousand other people, including fellow January contributing editor Ian Buchsbaum) where Octavia Spencer, Oscar-winning actress from The Help, spoke about how books were her first love; she’s written one for young readers. Fellow panelists included Mary Pope Osborne, who shared letters she’s received from kids who have loved her Magic Tree House series and spoke about how important it is to get young people to read. Rick Riordan was hilarious, speaking about the road from school teacher to novelist. And Veronica Roth spoke brilliantly about the importance of reading with the right attitude: to learn.

Day three of this year’s event was open to the public, which is a new wrinkle for this trade-only trade show. There was something kind of wonderful about sharing this usually closed space with people off the street. They came from near and far, each there to feed their desire for books. I saw packs of friends, whole families, and many wandering singles, all with bags of books in hand, all marveling at this world where books happen. In the end, I think, they weren’t that different from everyone else at Book Expo every year: they’re curious, they love the written word, and they crave a new adventure.


This Just In… The Guardian Chronicles: The Return (Volume 1) by Craig Gaydas

Gabriel Crane was on his way home from a bar when someone tried to kill him. It wasn’t the first time and it won’t be the last.

After the incident he discovers that a chain of events has been set into motion which will pit the forces of hell against the heroes of Olympus. The fate of the world is at stake and only he can restore the balance between order and chaos. In a race against time, the Olympians hurry to help him become who he was born to be -- The Guardian.

You can order The Guardian Chronicles here. Visit author Craig Gaydas on the Web here. ◊

This Just In... is a column that shares basic information on selected titles. Titles are included at the editor’s discretion and on a first come, first served basis or for a small fee. Want to see your new book included? Ordering details are here.


Wild Things Author Celebrated With Google Doodle

Caldecott Medal-winning author, Maurice Sendak, was born on this date in 1928. Polish-born Sendak was best known as the author of Where the Wild Things Are, which was first published in 1963 and has sold some 17 million copies since.

Sendak, who died in May of 2012, is celebrated today with a Google Doodle, making him one of a handful of authors to be honored in this way. 

While we’re talking about the Caldecott Medal, the 2013 winner was This Is Not My Hat, written and illustrated by Jon Klassen and pulished by Candlewick Press.


This Just In… From Hell to Heaven to Hell by Jim Grundy

Growing up poor in West Virginia, the son of a coal miner, drifting after graduation trying to find his way in the world, moving with his family back to the state of Texas and leaving behind the girl he planned to marry.

Life for him was tough: the breakup of his first love, the end of romance in Texas. When he couldn’t take any more he joined the Marines for a life of hell that would result in injuries he still lives with today. But more was to follow. Upon his return home, he drifted, trying to become successful in life using his fists as an amateur boxer. And success came. He managed to win the West Texas Golden Gloves Championship. 

They say he has lived the life of twenty men. From being poor to working his way up in the business world of sales. He would own and operate several retail businesses that would make him a millionaire. This sounds pretty good until you get to the part that he loses it all. Pain and hunger, love and divorces, poor then wealthy, romance and heartache, sexual assaults and murder, custody battles that granted him full custody of two children and co-custody of one. Enough? Not a chance. The story has just begun.

Readers say that From Hell to Heaven to Hell is addictive and that once you start reading you can’t put it down.

You can order From Hell to Heaven to Hell here. ◊

This Just In... is a column that shares basic information on selected titles. Titles are included at the editor’s discretion and on a first come, first served basis or for a small fee. Want to see your new book included? Ordering details are here.


Thursday, June 06, 2013

Laidlaw’s Father on the Record

Seventy-six-year-old Irish crime novelist William McIvanney, the so-called Godfather of Tartan Noir, was recently interviewed for The Rap Sheet by Australian-born Scottish author Tony Black. The results of their discussion can be found today in our sister blog.

Here’s how Black sets up the piece:
A good friend of mine recently described McIlvanney as “like meeting a statue that’s come to life,” and that does kind of sum up the reverence with which he’s treated in his home country. But crime writers didn’t always attract such rapturous plaudits.

When McIlvanney wrote
Laidlaw, back in the late 1970s, Scotland was not well-known for its crime fiction -- something he was to change singlehandedly. McIlvanney’s curmudgeonly cop, Glasgow Detective Inspector Jack Laidlaw, provided the imprimatur for the Scottish best-sellers lists, and our longest-running television drama, Taggart, is a very heavy homage to the work.
You’ll find the complete post here.

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Monday, June 03, 2013

New This Week: The Boleyn King by Laura Anderson

What if Anne Boleyn had given her king a son? That’s the premise of this debut novel from an author who seems likely to give the likes of Phillipa Gregory and Alison Weir a run for their Tudors.

In an inclusion to the review package, author Laura Anderson describes how her young Tudor king came about:
In the summer of 2003, while reading a biography of Anne Boleyn, I was haunted by Anne’s final miscarriage in 1533: a baby boy that she lost on the very day of Catherine of Aragon’s funeral. Less than four months later, Anne herself would be executed -- in no small measure because of that miscarriage.
“What if?” I wondered for months afterward. What if Anne had not lost her son, but gone on to give birth to the male heir Henry VIII had so desperately sought?
And on this fanfic premise, Anderson began.

The Boleyn King (Ballentine) is an absolutely gorgeous manifestation of that urge to bring an intriguing story forward. Sure, there is history but, in so many ways, this is history-plus-more and Anderson’s Henry IX is a winning young man born to be a king beyond all others. There are empires to secure, of course. And, before long, love to consider.

The Boleyn King is the first in a trilogy, so brilliantly conceived and richly executed, fans of bold, historical dramas are likely to gobble them up as soon as they appear. ◊

Monica Stark is a contributing editor to January Magazine. She currently makes her home on a liveaboard boat somewhere in the North Pacific.

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