Sunday, November 30, 2014

This Just In… Baby in the Window by Alretha Thomas

A magna cum laude graduate of UCLA, Cassandra Harte never took a test she couldn’t ace. So when her home pregnancy test comes back negative, she’s certain the kit’s defective. 

Failure has never been an option for Cassandra. She has a well-established career, a handsome husband, and a lovely home. But there’s one thing Cassandra desperately wants that she doesn’t have: A baby. After trying for months to get pregnant without success, she starts to wonder if she’s finally met a challenge she cannot conquer. Determined to conceive, she creates an ovulation calendar so she can seize that perfect 24-hour window. When that fails, she sends up fervent prayers. But it soon becomes apparent that her inability to become pregnant has nothing to do with timing or faith, and everything to do with Renee, her diabolical, thirteen-year-old stepdaughter.

You can order Baby in the Window here. Visit author Alretha Thomas 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.


Obama Family Bookstore Purchases Make Headlines

When the first family goes Christmas shopping it’s big news, of course. And the watchers take note of not only where they went, but what they bought. When their destination is a bookstore, we get interested, too.

On Small Business Saturday, President Obama and his daughters hit Washington indie Politics and Prose, in the end purchasing 17 books. From the New York Times:

The president and his daughters, Sasha and Malia, browsed the shelves and chatted with customers before buying two bags full of books at the store, where they also shopped at this time last year. According to a White House print pool report, Mr. Obama at one point held a patron’s baby.

At the checkout counter, a cashier asked the president, “You from out of town?” Mr. Obama replied, “I am. Do I get a discount for that?” Another cashier jokingly offered a “neighbor discount.”

“I’ll take that,” Mr. Obama said, in an exchange captured by a television pool video posted by CBS News.

According to the White House, the Obamas bought the following books:

• Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End by Atul Gawande
• Junie B. Jones and a Little Monkey Business by Barbara Park
• A Barnyard Collection: Click, Clack, Moo and More by Doreen Cronin
• I Spy Sticker Book and Picture Riddles by Jean Marzollo
• Nuts to You by Lynn Rae Perkins
• Junie B. Jones and the Stupid Smelly Bus by Barbara Park
• Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson
• Redwall by Brian Jacques
• Mossflower by Brian Jacques
• Mattimeo by Brian Jacques
• Cartwheeling in Thunderstorms by Katherine Rundell
• The Narrow Road to the Deep North by Richard Flanagan
• The Laughing Monsters by Denis Johnson
• All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
• Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad
• Nora Webster by Colm Toibin
• Age of Ambition: Chasing Fortune, Truth and Faith in the New China by Evan Osnos

Pulitzer Prize Winning Poet, Mark Strand, Dead at 80

Pulitzer prize-winning poet Mark Strand (Sleeping With One Eye Open, Man and Camel) has died yesterday morning at his daughter’s home in New York. He was 80.

From The Guardian:
“He was a funny, elegant, generous and brilliant man,” [Jessica Strand] said of her father. “A man who lived to work and to be with his friends and the people he loved.”
A distinctive presence even at the end of his life, with his lean build, white hair and round glasses, Strand received numerous honors, including the Pulitzer in 1999 for Blizzard of One, a gold medal from the American Academy of Arts and Letters and a National Book award nomination this fall for Collected Poems. He was appointed US poet laureate for 1990-91, although he did not count his time in Washington among his great achievements.
“It’s too close to the government. It’s too official. I don’t believe that poetry should be official ... there are poets who aspire to such positions; I never did.”
Author of more than a dozen books of poetry and several works of prose, Strand was haunted by absence, loss and the passage of time from the beginning of his career, sometimes peering just beyond the contents of the page and wondering what, if anything, was out there.
See the full piece here. The New York Times does Strand honor here.


This Just In… Smokescreen by Khaled Talib

At an ancient café in Cairo, two veteran spies plot a covert mission to resolve once and for all -- the Israeli -- Palestinian conflict. The pledge: Israel will make a major concession as part of the peace treaty.

In Singapore, Jethro Westrope, a magazine journalist, stumbles onto the scene of a murder: the beautiful Niki Kishwani directs him, in her last breath, to a digital recorder, evidence that puts Jethro’s life in serious danger. And, much worse, he is framed for Niki’s murder. Jethro sets out to find Niki’s killer and is drawn into a web of deception and intrigue involving officials from the Singaporean, Israeli, and American governments, each with a complex, competing, and potentially deadly agenda.

Against this pulse-pounding backdrop, Jethro races to find answers and save himself -- yet nothing is as it seems. He finds himself at the centre of a political plot so diabolical and sweeping in its world implications that he is stunned to discover tomorrow’s news headlines today. He is being set up not only as a murderer but as an assassin, and something much larger than his own fate is in his hands.

You can order Smokescreen here. Visit author Khaled Talib 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, November 28, 2014

Blade Runner Sequel to Begin Production

The long-awaited sequel to director and producer Ridley Scott’s 1982 cult classic Blade Runner will begin filming in 2015. From Indiewire:
Scott said that he won’t direct "Blade Runner 2," but will stay on as a producer, with filming scheduled to get underway next year. There's no word why he opted out of the director's chair, but considering his next project is "The Martian" with Matt Damon, he probably just doesn't have the time anymore. But he's been deeply involved, working on the script with "Blade Runner" scribe Hampton Fancher, and Scott even spilled a few more details about the rumored and highly expected return of Harrison Ford as Deckard.
The original film was adapted from the 1968 novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick.

Though the original film tanked with critics, the neo noir dystopian film set in a dank and uncomfortable 2019 Los Angeles quickly made stars of both Scott and Harrison Ford, who played retired police officer Rick Deckard who will reprise the role in the new film.

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This Just In… CASPER: El Cuento De Amor De Un Gangster by Ray Childress & Akila Cruz

This sexually charged, unfriendly tale of money and murder explodes when Casper’s high-rolling uncle gets himself murdered. Casper is then forced to hit the streets harder than ever to prove he’s much more than a ghetto prince who has had everything handed to him on a platinum platter... but, in the midst of a Guerra with a former affiliated set, Casper becomes enthralled by a Puerto Rican bella who wants nothing to do with someone like him; due in part to her close family ties to a Latin King clan hailing from the Bushwick section of Brooklyn.

You can order CASPER: El Cuento De Amor De Un Gangster here. Read about the authors 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, November 26, 2014

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Film Them

JK Rowling has completed the script for the screen version of the Harry Potter spin-off, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. According to Harry Potter producer David Heyman, the script is “wonderful.” From The Telepgraph:
Heyman praised Rowling's debut scriptwriting efforts: "She is so smart, and her turn of phrase, the precision of the language she uses, is a joy to behold."
Heyman's company, Heydey Films, has produced all eight of the blockbuster Harry Potter films, as well as 2013's space epic Gravity. He will work with Rowling and Warner Bros studios on the Fantastic Beasts trilogy, which is set 70 years before Hogwarts and follows the adventures of Newt Scamander, the author of the titular textbook that Harry and his classmates will later study from.
January Magazine reviewed the book when it first came out in 2001. The screen version is anticipated for 2016.

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This Just In… Blood Blossom by Daryl Hajek

After having been separated for 22 years, Vivian wants to reestablish ties with her younger sister, Christine. Instead, she is met with hostility and resistance. Christine wants one thing and one thing only: revenge. Fueled by rage and a sadistic sense of humor, Christine will stop at nothing to go after their mysterious mother, Rose.

Julia Windom, a wealthy woman with selfish motives, concocts plot after plot to ensure her personal goal is achieved.

They all become embroiled in a battle of wits to stay one step ahead of each other. Lives are further complicated in a whirlpool of diverse events as they occur at breakneck speed. Overwhelming crises develop, strengths and weaknesses are tested, truths overcome lies, and shocking secrets are revealed that could push some to the brink of insanity.

You can order Blood Blossom here. Visit author Daryl Hajek on Facebook 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.


Tuesday, November 25, 2014

This Just In… Mixing Business and Pleasure by M. Skye

After his past bad relationship, 29-year-old newly promoted record label CEO, Jackson Whitmore, vows never to love again. With his best friend and vice-president, Eric, at his side, Jackson’s main focus is the business, until a beautiful woman, Milan Wells, waltzes into his life and is introduced as the new president. While Jackson wants to object to the decision, it becomes difficult when Milan brings forth bold and fresh ideas, catching both his and Eric’s attention; for different reasons.

Tensions soon arise when Milan and Eric’s competitive natures collide, forcing Jackson to intervene which causes a rift between the once inseparable duo. With rumors of Milan’s abusive relationship surfacing and Eric spiraling out of control, Jackson finds himself stepping up to protect Milan and entering an intense physical relationship. While Jackson and Milan are slowly falling for one another, Eric’s jealousy erupts into a vicious quest for revenge that plunges the lovers into a danger they never imagined.

You can order Mixing Business and Pleasure here. Visit author M. Skye 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.


More Seven Figure Advances Part of the “New Normal”

Seven figure advances on novels are becoming more common, according to Publishers Weekly, who reports that a number of factors are responsible.
During the run-up to this year’s Frankfurt Book Fair in early October, three seven-figure deals for debut works were closed by Big Five houses. Shortly after the fair, the New York Times ran an article about a waitress who landed a high six-figure advance. The streak continued with news that St. Martin’s Press had paid seven figures for a debut novel by New York Times reporter Stephanie Clifford. And, two weeks ago, word broke that indie author Blake Crouch landed seven figures at Crown for Dark Matter, his science fiction novel. For some in the industry, the flurry of big advances is simply business as usual. Others, however, attribute the run to a dearth of great material, along with the ever-pressing need on the part of the big houses to publish major bestsellers.
George Gibson, an industry veteran who is now publishing director at Bloomsbury USA, warned against reading too much into the latest round of big deals, noting that they happen “fairly regularly during the year.” Nonetheless, Gibson acknowledged that the business has changed. For the Big Five, especially, the highly sought-after projects have become essential. “The game plan to make your budget, or exceed it, relies on having bestsellers. That’s always been the case, but it’s the case now more so than ever.” Because both midlist and backlist titles aren’t selling as well as they once did, Gibson explained, the big books, “are more important.”
The full piece is here.


This Just In… Nutley, the Nut-free Squirrel by Stephanie Sorkin

Nutley, the Nut-free Squirrel is a whimsical tale about a squirrel with a food allergy. Nutley’s message of community support and friendship resonates with all students. As the parent of a child with multiple food allergies, author Stephanie Sorkin donates 100 per cent of the book’s proceeds to F.A.R.E, an organization dedicated to food allergy research and education.

Nutley is available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Mascot Books and many retailers nationwide.

You can order Nutley, the Nut-free Squirrel here. Visit author Stephanie Sorkinon 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.


IMPAC Dublin Shortlist Announced

Libraries around the world have put forward nominations for the 2015 IMPAC Dublin Award. In total 142 books have been longlisted for the $100,000 international award including 37 from the United States, 19 fro, the UK, 9 from Canada.

2015 nominees include Kate Atkinson (Life After Life), Margaret Atwood (MaddAddam), Charles Belfoure (The Paris Architect), Joseph Boyden (The Orenda), J.M. Coetzee (The Childhood of Jesus), Roddy Doyle (The Guts), Dave Eggers (The Circle), Jhumpa Lahiri (The Lowland), Joanathan Lethem (Dissident Gardens), Thomas Pynchon (Bleeding Edge) and many others.

See the complete longlist for the 2015 Dublin IMPAC award here. The winners will be announced June 2015.


This Just In… Dystopia Boy: The Unauthorized Files by Trevor D. Richardson

Your TV is watching you.

Your cell phone is listening to everything you say.

There are no secrets, no quiet moments. There is no privacy.

Behind the veil of work and life, democracy, free enterprise, and the roar of restaurants, bars, and blockbuster movies there are the Watchers -- a secret branch of the US government with the sole task of spying on the American public through hidden cameras, tapped phones, the Internet, satellites, and even safe, sensible modern appliances. Then one day a young man named Joe Blake looks back through the monitor, locks eyes with an aging Watcher and says, “I know you’re out there. I know you’re listening.”

Systems at the Watcher compound go dark, malfunctions run rampant, and the agency begins a meticulous investigation into Joe’s life. Through the surveillance record we watch as he grows into a troubled rock star witnessing the downward spiral of the American economy from the road. We watch his fight against a corrupt corporate takeover of a government formally by and for the people, and we see the end of our way of life in the small compromises that go overlooked or unnoticed. Joe declares war on the system, but can he complete his mission before the Watchers track him down through his own past? In a race against time, who wins, the people or the money?

You can order Dystopia Boy here. Visit author Trevor D. Richardson 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, November 17, 2014

Charlie Brown Getting Closer to the Big Screen

Charles Schulz fans are beginning to get really excited about the upcoming release of the animated adaptation of Peanuts, based on the classic comic series of that same name.

But don’t go standing in line quite yet: the film may still be a year away. From Collider:
The movie is a little under a year away, and producer Paul Feig (Bridesmaids, Freaks and Geeks) tells USA Today that if the film had a title closer to other Peanuts adaptations, he would probably call it Don’t Give Up, Charlie Brown!. According to USA Today, “The story follows the little round-headed boy with the indomitable optimism on a quest to get something he’s sure he needs, even though he discovers he’s pretty OK just as he is.”
Read the full piece here.


Monday, November 03, 2014

Crime Fiction: The Cost of Doing Business
by Jonathan Ashley

(Editor’s note: The following review comes from Steven Nester, the host of Poets of the Tabloid Murder, a weekly Internet radio show heard on the Public Radio Exchange [PRX]. Nester is also a freelance writer whose work has appeared in The Rap Sheet, Mystery Scene and Firsts Magazine. He last wrote for January Magazine about Tod Goldberg’s latest novel, Gangsterland.)

Louisville, Kentucky, is a tough old town. Wedged between the Ohio River and the outskirts of Appalachia, it’s a “city of enterprise, criminal and otherwise.” The side of the tracks where narrator Jon Catlett resides -- in Jonathan Ashley’s debut crime novel, The Cost of Doing Business (280 Steps) -- is a slim strip of bohemia; but beneath the restaurants and trendy shops there’s grit and a dog with plenty of fight. Catlett isn’t a bad type; he’s a bit of a cynic who owns a used book shop, so you know he’s a thinker; he has girlfriend problems and mounting bills, so he’s kind of a regular Joe; but what makes him different is the 800-pound gorilla of a heroin problem on his back.

His life is aimless and he’ll be the first to admit it. Yet he scrapes along, selling a few books, hosting hip concerts in his “posh, quasi-Gertrude Stein-esque salon disguised as a bookstore” for “the painfully predictable who stood for nothing,” doing small-time dope deals and getting high. Funny thing is, heroin is the biggest impediment in his life, but it also turns out to be the best thing that ever happened to him. When the “arbitrary nature of fate sideswiped me,” as Jon says in one of his many pithy and homespun, poetic observations worthy of Daniel Woodrell or Matthew McBride, his life’s work is revealed -- and all it took was a murder.

Even though it’s an accident, Jon’s killing of an annoying trust-fund junkie begins his elevation, along with sidekick Paul, from “part-time middle man to straight up dope kingpin.” Jon faces his change of life with equanimity, focus and a willingness to be mentored by corrupt cops and mobsters who’ve been to the rodeo many times. Best of all, he discovers he has a knack for the logistics of setting up and implementing drug deals. He’s making lots of money, too, so much that his addiction takes a back seat. The lessons Jon learns as he rises to the challenges of literally plotting and shooting his way to the top of the supply chain are laconic and wise. You don’t read Ashley’s work for the plotting or the action; it’s all been done before. You read it for the wry rural bard in Jon; and as a self-observant realist he pulls no punches, even from behind the veil of lies that is part of any addiction. “I acted like I’d only entered the dope game out of necessity,” he says. “Who am I kidding, though, I knew even then that the reason this recent detox had been so manageable was because a new addiction had begun to enter my life, power.” Things get better and better with every dead dope dealer he and his cohorts leave in their path as they make their way to Chicago and the Russian mob. Shooting people, a risk that invites unwanted scrutiny, is just part of the game that everyone involved accepts.

Calling the shots after getting rid of a blackmailing cop who discovered the trust-fund junkie’s murder is Louisville detective “Mad Dog” Mike Milligan. Milligan shows Jon that the first and foremost rule to surviving as a successful drug dealer, from the street corner to what passes as the corner office, is beating your newest business partner to the double cross. Jon and his motley crew of homeboys and misfits plot and eventually ally with Luther Longmire, a Kentucky gangster who happens to be carrying on a hot and heavy affair with his leggy first cousin Amara. Jon has been having an on-again, off-again affair with a wealthy and recovering addict whose presence is barely felt in the book, but when Amara enters, Jon is hooked. Amara is trouble and Jon knows it, but he can’t help himself. “It seemed that all Amara truly feared,” he thinks, “was boredom.” They bond over the poetry of William Butler Yeats, but Amara doesn’t let a libidinous fling get in the way of blood kin or business.

There’s an OK Corral in The Cost of Doing Business, and Luther and Amara and anyone else foolish enough to enter with Jon and Mad Dog are forced to pay the cost of doing business. ◊

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