Wednesday, September 13, 2017

A. Keith Carreiro - The Penitent: Part II - Review & Giveaway



About the Book

Hidden in the bottom of a roadside ditch as a baby, Evangel is only steps away from her viciously murdered parents. An old hermit finds her there a day later and takes her to his home in the heart of a sylvan wilderness. She is raised in a hermitage built by Matthew where he learns she is touched by a rare spiritual power. 17 years later a series of miracles occur that rock the very nature of her reality. Befriended by outlaws and a king’s champion, she is also betrayed by a woman of the cloth during a bard of the realm’s performance. That night, in a dream, Evangel envisions her future soul mate, Pall Warren, on a battlefield of death, and casts a prayer of protection around him. Thus begins a remarkable journey to save herself and those who believe in her. A hauntingly beautiful and startling tale of wonder.




My Review

When the main characters live in a forest called God's Temple and name their cottage The Refuge, you know it's going to be a good book.

Matthew is a hermit. Other people distract him from God, so he'd rather not be around them. However, when he finds a little baby girl abandoned in the woods, all it takes is one smile from her and he's a goner. He takes her in and ends up raising her in a loving, safe environment, developing her seemingly innate ability for meditation and contemplation.

He shelters her, yet as she reaches the age of maturity her self-awareness begins to grow. She's the first to admit that, "the world out there and the one I grew up in are the exact opposite of one another. Yet, even though I live in such beauty and innocence, I am still part of this other, baser world."

Her spiritual encounters with the divine are an even mix of the two. She envisions a Christ-like figure on the cross whose agony is suddenly turned into glory. She relates, "When he smiled at me, he was no longer on this awful tree. We were walking on a beautiful road. He showed me many things. We went and talked together underneath the shade of a wood filled with copper beech trees and a stream flowing in the middle of them."

Her confidence and optimism waver a bit when a group of men invade her tranquil home. For the first time for her, "life had lost its simplicity. Everywhere she looked now things were so complicated."

So will she be able to adjust to the wider world of corruption, rivalry and greed? I don't know. Don't be surprised if—instead of the world changing her—she ends up changing the world. When the clouds part and a rainbow appears, it sends a galvanizing message that with her maybe anything is possible.

***

The Penitent: Part II can be purchased at:
Amazon

Prices/Formats: $4.99 ebook, $15.99 paperback
Genre: Science Fiction, Fantasy
Pages: 274
Release: May 15, 2017
Publisher: Copper Beech Press
ISBN: 9780997382716
Click to add to your Goodreads list.

***

About the Author

A. Keith Carreiro earned his master’s and doctoral degrees from Harvard Graduate School of Education, with the sequential help and guidance of three advisors, Dr. Vernon A. Howard, Dr. Donald Oliver and Professor Emeritus, Dr. Israel Scheffler. Keith’s academic focus, including his ongoing research agenda, centers upon philosophically examining how creativity and critical thinking are acquired, learned, utilized and practiced in the performing arts. He has taken his findings and applied them to the professional development of educational practitioners.

Earlier in his teaching career he was a professor of educational foundations, teaching graduate students of education at universities in Vermont, Florida, Arizona, and Pennsylvania. He currently teaches as an adjunct professor of English at Bridgewater State University, as well as teaching English, philosophy, humanities and public speaking courses at Bristol Community College.

He lives in Swansea, Massachusetts. He has six children and 13 grandchildren. He belongs to an eighty–five–pound golden retriever, an eight–pound Maltese, and an impish Calico cat.

Due to his love of family, he has seen his fervor for history, as well as his passion for wondering about the future, deepen dramatically.

Starting on May 23rd until October 9th of 2014, he sat down at his computer on a daily basis and began writing the first book of a science fiction/fantasy thriller in a beginning series about the quest for human immortality.

Links to connect with A. Keith:
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Blog


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Wednesday, September 6, 2017

R. Franklin James - The Bell Tolls - Review & Giveaway



About the Book

Hollis Morgan has survived imprisonment, received a pardon and persevered to finally become a probate attorney. Tough as she is, her newest case will further test her mettle. She discovers her client, Matthias Bell, is a deceased blackmailer whose last wish was to return the damaging documents he collected, letting his victims off the hook. It falls to Hollis to give them the good news. But it’s revealed that Bell was murdered, and the victims of “Bell’s tolls” are now suspects.

Hollis’ white-collar criminal past has left her with keen survival instincts. A gifted liar she knows a liar when she meets one. A lot of people in this case are lying and one is a killer.

On top of that, she’s also representing a dying stripper, a wealthy widow whose estranged daughter spurns her attempts at reconciliation, but whose husband sees the potential inheritance as mending all wounds particularly financial ones.

Clients aside, Hollis is defensive and wary. Her mother, who hasn’t spoken to her for years, needs a kidney, and Hollis is a match, but neither are ready to put away the past. With Hollis’ fiancĂ© and emotional support off on an undercover mission for Homeland Security, she must count on her own survival instincts. She is swept along on an emotional roller coaster as her absent love and her family’s coldness take their own toll.

Work is her salvation. The specter of a killer keeps her focused. Hollis has always had to rely on her wits, but now she finds that others who don’t have her well-being in mind are relying on them as well.



My Review

San Francisco 49ers by 10.

That's John's safe text greeting. The one he sends to his girlfriend, Hollis, from his stash of toss-away phones whenever he's undercover, working for Homeland Security. It's just to let her know that he's okay and that he's thinking of her.

And it's sweet because Hollis isn't one to open up to people. Living in Oakland, she's somewhat of a workaholic at her law firm, not one to waste time chit-chatting or sharing anything significant about her personal life with co-workers. As far as she's concerned, she has John, her best friend and wise counsel, and that's all she needs.

Because neediness makes her feel inadequate. When it comes to needy people, she doesn't feel like she could ever give them the answers they're looking for, so she backs away from them. Yet when it comes to her relationship with John, she catches a glimpse into how needy people must feel inside. In fact, "she didn't want to think she needed him, but over the next month, it would be as if a part of her was in Washington" with him.

Then everything falls apart when she gets an actual phone call, not from John, but from one of his fellow agents, telling her that John's not coming back, that he died. And for Hollis, "the finality of that - the silence - left her aching and numb."

Her friends attempt to draw her out of herself, but she's having none of it. In her mind, "she didn't need friends. She needed John." She gets so closed in on herself that she doesn't even notice nature anymore the way that she used to, not taking the time "to gaze at the splash of color in the sky as the sun rose over the East Bay Hill."

A young colleague in the office tries to lift her spirits by telling her how he never takes one minute of the relationship he has with his girlfriend for granted, saying, "I asked her, what if I was her 'one' and she was my 'one'? Anything can happen tomorrow, but it's today that matters. We only get one shot."

Yet at the very end of the book, when Hollis's cell phone unexpectedly lights up, it raises the distinct possibility that maybe we don't get only one shot at love, maybe if we're lucky, we get two.

***

The Bell Tolls can be purchased at:
Amazon
Barnes and Noble
iTunes
Kobo
Overdrive

Prices/Formats: $4.95 ebook, $15.95 paperback
Genre: Women's Sleuth, Mystery, Suspense, Thriller
Pages: 239
Release: June 1, 2017
Publisher: Camel Press
ISBN: 9781603812177
Click to add to your Goodreads list.

***

About the Author

R. Franklin James grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area and graduated from the University of California at Berkeley. From there she cultivated a different type of writing—legislation and public policy. After serving as Deputy Mayor for the City of Los Angeles, under millionaire Richard Riordan, she went back to her first love—writing, and in 2013 her debut novel, The Fallen Angels Book Club was published by Camel Press. Her second book in The Hollis Morgan Mystery Series, Sticks & Stones, was followed by The Return of the Fallen Angels Book Club, and The Trade List. The Bell Tolls, book five was released in June 2017.

R. Franklin James lives in Northern California with her husband.

Links to connect with R. Franklin James:
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Facebook
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Thursday, August 10, 2017

Rich Zahradnik - Lights Out Summer - Review & Giveaway



About the Book

In March 1977, ballistics link murders going back six months to the same Charter Arms Bulldog .44. A serial killer, Son of Sam, is on the loose. But Coleridge Taylor can't compete with the armies of reporters fighting New York's tabloid war--only rewrite what they get. Constantly on the lookout for victims who need their stories told, he uncovers other killings being ignored because of the media circus. He goes after one, the story of a young Black woman gunned down in her apartment building the same night Son of Sam struck elsewhere in Queens. The story entangles Taylor with a wealthy Park Avenue family at war with itself. Just as he's closing in on the killer and his scoop, the July 13-14 blackout sends New York into a 24-hour orgy of looting and destruction. Taylor and his PI girlfriend Samantha Callahan head out into the darkness, where a steamy night of mob violence awaits them. In the midst of the chaos, a suspect in Taylor's story goes missing. Desperate, he races to a confrontation that will either break the story--or Taylor. Book 4 in the Coleridge Taylor Mystery series.




My Review

The Son of Sam killer is on the loose.

A massive blackout results in a night of looting and destruction.

People are broke, and jobs are scarce.

It's just a few years after the end of the Vietnam War and, "It didn't matter how much sacrifice. Everybody's trying to forget. Not trying. Succeeding. America only loved a winner."

And in 1977, New York City certainly wasn't winning.

Even a former member of the NYPD admits, "Crime I can take. This madness is…evil." It seems people are willing to kill over anything—a rent-controlled apartment, dominance in the drug trade, embezzling a family out of its Park Avenue fortune. It's as if a population of 15 million people are "banished to an outer circle of Dante's hell, with New York moving ever inward."

It pains lifelong residents to look back on a time in the not-so-distant past when people actually helped each other. Back then, New Yorkers believed they could cope with anything…now they don't. And that's the difference, and what causes these downward spirals to happen.

How does a corrupt, bankrupt city turn itself around? Is it economic opportunity? Is it good leadership? Do ethics and morals only hold sway in times of prosperity? The book brings up topics of conversation that are worth discussing because New York did turn manage to turn things around. Let's face it the Times Square of 1997 sure looked a heck of a lot different than the one from 1977.

A reporter makes an apt remark that, "he never imagined how fast a newspaper could disappear—be forgotten. Not until he'd seen it happen. When was the last time you saw…people lined up to buy a newspaper?"
Yet when the Son of Sam killer releases an exclusive letter just in time for the Sunday edition: "Everyone stayed in line, calm, polite. Surprising in New York these days, maybe people needed to hear about a maniac and mayhem to decide to be civil."

I guess when the circus comes to town, it's not likely to pack up and leave anytime soon.

***

Lights Out Summer can be pre-ordered at:
Amazon
Barnes and Noble
IndieBound

Prices/Formats: $4.95 ebook, $15.95 paperback, $29.95 audio
Genre: Historical, Mystery, Thriller, Suspense
Pages: 288
Release: October 1, 2017
Publisher: Camel Press
ISBN: 9781603812139
Click to add to your Goodreads list.

***

About the Author

Rich Zahradnik is the award-winning author of the critically acclaimed Coleridge Taylor Mystery series (Lights Out Summer, A Black Sail, Drop Dead Punk, Last Words).



The first three books have been shortlisted or won awards in the three major competitions for novels from independent presses. A Black Sail was named winner in the mystery category of the 2017 Next Generation Indie Book Awards. Drop Dead Punk collected the gold medal for mystery ebook in the 2016 Independent Publisher Book Awards. Last Words won the bronze medal for mystery/thriller ebook in the 2015 IPPYs and honorable mention for mystery in the 2015 Foreword Reviews Book of the Year Awards.

"Taylor, who lives for the big story, makes an appealingly single-minded hero," Publishers Weekly wrote of Drop Dead Punk.

 A Black Sail received a starred review from Library Journal, which said, “Fans of the late Barbara D’Amato and Bruce DeSilva will relish this gritty and powerful crime novel.”

Zahradnik was a journalist for 25-plus years, working as a reporter and editor in all major news media, including online, newspaper, broadcast, magazine and wire services. He held editorial positions at CNN, Bloomberg News, Fox Business Network, AOL and The Hollywood Reporter.



Zahradnik was born in Poughkeepsie, New York, in 1960 and received his B.A. in journalism and political science from George Washington University. He lives with his wife Sheri and son Patrick in Pelham, New York, where he writes fiction and teaches kids around the New York area how to write news stories and publish newspapers.



Links to connect with Rich:
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Facebook
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Blog


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Thursday, August 3, 2017

Sharon St. George - Spine Damage - Review & Giveaway



About the Book

Paulo Ferrara, a young Portuguese man, lies comatose in the Intensive Care Unit of Timbergate Medical Center, shot in the spine. The neurosurgeon who would normally be in charge of his care has left town to attend to an injured daughter, and the only other neurosurgeon, the rude and egotistical Dr. Godfrey Carver, is about to be suspended for not completing his continuing education requirements. The unpleasant duty of ensuring that the staff obey the rules lies with Aimee Machado, the medical center's forensic librarian and Continuing Education Coordinator. Aimee and her pilot boyfriend Nick live together on her grandparents’ llama farm. While dealing with Dr. Carver, Aimee learns the circumstances of Paulo’s injury and enlists Nick’s help. Aimee is half Asian and half Portuguese, and her parents live on Faial, one of the Azores Islands off the coast of Portugal. Faial is the closest neighbor to Pico, home of Paulo and his family. Paulo came to rural Northern California in search of his fifteen-year-old sister Liliana, who vanished two weeks ago. Nick’s wealthy employer Buck Sawyer takes an interest in the girl’s plight as well, especially when they learn that she left the Azores on a superyacht. Not only is Buck a yacht owner, but he is also on a crusade against drug trafficking, and Paulo and Liliana have clearly stumbled onto a criminal operation of some kind. The trail leads Aimee and Nick from Timbergate, to the Azores, to San Francisco. Paulo’s condition is deteriorating, and he might never be able to explain what got him shot. Can Aimee, her brother Harry, and Nick unravel the mystery in time to save Liliana? Book 4 in the Aimee Machado Mystery series, which began with Due for Discard.




My Review

The crying of gulls… The pungent smell of seawater… The bright morning sunlight shining through the window of a porthole…

Sharon St. George's crime novel SPINE DAMAGE takes place in the Azores, a picturesque chain of islands off the Portuguese coast. And it's a fitting locale since Aimee Machado, the character this mystery series is named after, is half Portuguese. In this installment, Aimee returns to the paternal side of her roots by visiting her parents' home with her boyfriend, Nick.

"Sunburned, wind blown and happy," Aimee's parents trade "knowing smiles that said, typical tourist," when Nick gets all excited at seeing a whale up close and personal during a boat ride. They're used to living in paradise and the book hits all the right notes in establishing a sense of island living.

For example, local legend has it that a superstitious sailor once painted a small picture on the marina wall in order to ensure a safe journey home, and to this very day, sailors continue to do the same, adding color and artistry to the walkways surrounding the Horta Marina.

Hospitality is also a key ingredient when it comes to the home life of the Azores people. It's common practice that a woman always takes time to bake for her guests, and the names of some of the Portuguese delicacies - such as "dreams" and "sighs" - sound just as good as they taste.

The population itself is a mishmash of tourists and locals, giving a sense of diversity and worldliness to a place tucked away from the world. But things really amp up during Sea Week, when everyone is hoping to spot the American celebrities who descend upon the town.

But chasing celebrities isn't why Aimee is there. She'd much rather spend time in the little white stucco house with a red-tied roof. Belonging to three generations of her family, it holds a very special place in her heart.

However, this time around she doesn't get to indulge in a little family tradition by taking Nick to the top of Mt. Pico, because as it turns out, a teenage girl with dreams of Hollywood in her head, gets on board one of those fancy American yachts, never to be seen again.

With Aimee and Nick soon to fly home to the United States, can they somehow try to help her distraught parents and find their missing daughter?

Goodbye, paradise. Time to get back to reality.

***

Spine Damage can be purchased at:
Amazon
Barnes and Noble
iTunes
Kobo

Prices/Formats: $4.95 ebook, $16.78 paperback
Genre: Mystery
Pages: 328
Release: May 15, 2017
Publisher: Camel Press
ISBN: 9781603815819
Click to add to your Goodreads list.

***

About the Author

Sharon St. George’s writing credits include three plays, several years writing advertising copy, a book on NASA’s space food project, and feature stories too numerous to count. She holds dual degrees in English and Theatre Arts, and occasionally acts in, or directs, one of her local community theater productions. Sharon is a member of Sisters in Crime and Mystery Writers of America, and she serves as program director for Writers Forum, a nonprofit organization for writers in northern California.

Links to connect with Sharon:
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Facebook
Twitter
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Monday, June 12, 2017

Tricia Dower - Becoming Lin - Review & Giveaway



About the Book

It’s 1965. Twenty-two-year-old Linda Wise despairs of escaping her overprotective parents and the town of Stony River where far too many know she was sexually assaulted as a teenager. Deliverance arrives in the form of marriage to the charismatic, twenty-six-year-old Ronald Brunson, a newly ordained Methodist minister who ignites in her a dormant passion for social justice. He tells her war and racial discrimination are symptoms of the “moral rot” destroying the country, conjuring up something dark and rancid in her mind, thrilling in its wickedness. He sweeps her away from New Jersey to serve with him at a church in a speck-on-the-map prairie town in Minnesota. What lies ahead for her over the next seven years is the subject of Tricia Dower’s penetrating study of a marriage and a woman’s evolving sense of self as she confronts the fear that keeps her from an unfettered future. Becoming Lin conjures the turbulent era of Freedom Riders for civil rights, Vietnam war resistance, the US government’s war against the resisters, the push for equal rights for women and the unraveling of the traditional marriage contract—an era that resonates today in tenacious racism and sexism, perpetual war and wide-reaching government surveillance.




My Review

Lin Brunson finds herself pregnant during the height of the Vietnam War, and for a moment she can't help thinking to herself, "We can't bring another child into this violent world."

Picture it. The country is in shock. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Bobby Kennedy are dead. A hundred cities are still recovering from a fresh string of riots and not even Walter Cronkite believes in the war anymore.

Yet Lin Brunson takes it very much to heart. For this mom-to-be, the war is not just images on a TV screen. It's personal. And it becomes even more complicated for her since she's married to a pastor, and his church seems just as divided as the rest of the country.

But that's what her husband, Ron, finds her so intriguing about his wife. He tells her, "How you see the world, what you believe, what's happened to you and how it's affected you? I want to know all that."

It turns out Ron's a former Freedom Fighter, himself, and was even arrested down South for helping to register African Americans to vote. He's no stranger to standing up for what he believes in, and he admires that quality in Lin, even from the very first time they met, openly admitting to her, "What struck me was your spirit. A voice inside me said that is the girl I'm going to marry."

Yet preachers and politicians tend to oversimplify complex issues, and the strain begins to show in their marriage when their phones are tapped and their friends start disappearing. Things are different now that they have a child. The risks they're taking don't just affect them anymore, they have a little one to think about now.

Stressed, Lin tells Ron, "I married you under false pretenses, I wasn't mature enough to accept your proposal." But he quickly counters with something his mother told him about her, "God sent this woman to you. Keep praying until you understand why."

Are they able to work things out as a family? Well, for me, this particular quote from the book sums it up beautifully: "You forget that you are eternal. He has always been with you and always will be."

***

Becoming Lin can be purchased at:
Amazon
Barnes and Noble
iTunes
IndieBound
BooksaMillion
Midpoint Trade
Kobo

Prices/Formats: $12.99 ebook, $22.95 paperback
Genre: Women's Fiction, Historical, Coming of Age
Pages: 240
Release: March 20, 2017
Publisher: Caitlin Press
ISBN: 9781987915075
Click to add to your Goodreads list.

***

About the Author

Tricia Dower hails from Rahway, New Jersey. You can find her on the “Rahway’s Own” website with other individuals the town has recognized for innovation and creativity. A graduate of Gettysburg College and a Phi Mu, she built a career in business before reinventing herself as a writer in 2002. Her literary work has crossed borders and won awards. She expanded a story from her Shakespeare-inspired collection, Silent Girl (Inanna 2008) into Stony River, which was published in both Canada (Penguin 2012) and the US (Leapfrog 2016). She gave a character from Stony River her own novel in Becoming Lin (Caitlin Press 2016), now available in the US.

The Vancouver Sun says, “Some of the most powerful and eloquent novelists of the 20th and 21st centuries…including Margaret Atwood, Margaret Laurence and Ethel Wilson...open up what had been cloaked in silence, the oppression of women and their self-discoveries in resistance. We can now add to this important liberation canon the name of Tricia Dower.”

A dual citizen of Canada and the United States, Dower lives and writes in Brentwood Bay, BC.

Links to connect with Tricia:
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Facebook
Twitter
Goodreads
Blog


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Monday, June 5, 2017

Michael J. McCann - Burn Country - Review & Giveaway



About the Book

The latest in a series of barn fires in Leeds County turns ugly when a body is discovered inside the burned-out husk of an old hay barn near the village of Elgin. When the victim turns out to be Independent Senator Darius Lane, a renowned artist and social activist recently appointed to the upper chamber by the prime minister, Detective Inspector Ellie March of the Ontario Provincial Police finds herself coping with an RCMP national security team which must first assess whether the senator’s involvement in sensitive government business led to his brutal murder by forces hostile to Canada. While Detective Constable Kevin Walker works the case files of the previous barn fires looking for a serial arsonist within Leeds County who may have killed for the first time, Ellie discovers that the intervention of RCMP Assistant Commissioner Danny Merrick, unexpectedly polite and charming, will place her directly in the cross-hairs of a homicide investigation with national repercussions! This is the second book in the March and Walker Crime Novel series and the sequel to Sorrow Lake, which was shortlisted for the 2015 Hammett Award for best North American crime novel.


My Review

Crime Scene Report; Homicide

Population: 600
Terrain: country roads, back lanes, countless lakes, swamps and rivers
Average salary: $32,500

The outlying regions of the city of Ottawa provide a study in contrasts between the haves and the have-nots, depicting a place where "well-being exist[s] on a sliding scale."

It sets the stage perfectly for the murder of a senator and why his body is found in a cabin, far from his downtown office. The likely suspects are a delinquent who set fire to a Burger King restroom after getting into an altercation with the staff behind the counter and a troubled veteran suffering from PTSD, who just can't seem to put his life back together.

They're two young men who are on the downward spiral of prosperity. The fast food fire starter has "still, grey eyes that held the emptiness of rural poverty," while the one-time soldier has to quit his new post at the volunteer fire department when his wartime flashbacks become too much for him.

One of the cops sent to interview the two men can't help but notice their lack of upward mobility, and he no longer feels so bad about having to share a small house with his girlfriend and her two kids. Reflecting, he asks himself the question, "Why be envious of people far above you…when you [are] envied by people struggling below you."

He even develops a sense of empathy for the two suspects when he sees how they can't even afford things like a cell phone, Internet service or even a place to live. One is dependent on the social services his alcoholic father receives from the government while the other is forced to crash indefinitely in his brother's basement. The cop realizes how good he has it, and why similar men in his position turn to a life of crime in order to relieve their frustration or just to make ends meet.

As a law man, he doesn't condone their behavior, but he understands it, which is what good fiction does—it paints a picture of how the other half lives.


***

Burn Country can be purchased at:
Amazon
Kobo

Prices/Formats: $5.99 ebook, $24.99 paperback
Pages: 304
ISBN: 9781927884096
Publisher: Plaid Raccoon Press
Release: March 17, 2017
Click to add to your Goodreads list.


About the Author

Michael J. McCann was born and raised in Peterborough, Ontario, Canada. He earned degrees in English from Trent University and Queen's University in Kingston, ON.

He is the author of Sorrow Lake, the first March and Walker Crime Novel, which was shortlisted for the 2015 Hammett Award for best crime novel in North America.

He is also the author of the Donaghue and Stainer Crime Novel Series, including Blood Passage, Marcie's Murder, and The Fregoli Delusion. The Rainy Day Killer, the most recent in the series, was longlisted for the 2014 Arthur Ellis Award for best crime novel in Canada.

Links to connect with Michael:
Web Site
Facebook
Twitter
Goodreads
Blog (mystery)
Blog (paranormal)
Pinterest
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Blog Tour Site


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Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Jerome Charyn - Jerzy - Review & Giveaway



About the Book

Jerzy Kosinski was a great enigma of post-World War II literature. When he exploded onto the American literary scene in 1965 with his best-selling novel The Painted Bird, he was revered as a Holocaust survivor and refugee from the world hidden behind the Soviet Iron Curtain. He won major literary awards, befriended actor Peter Sellers (who appeared in the screen adaptation of his novel Being There), and was a guest on talk shows and at the Oscars. But soon the facade began to crack, and behind the public persona emerged a ruthless social climber, sexual libertine, and pathological liar who may have plagiarized his greatest works.

Jerome Charyn lends his unmistakable style to this most American story of personal disintegration, told through the voices of multiple narrators—a homicidal actor, a dominatrix, and Joseph Stalin’s daughter—who each provide insights into the shifting facets of Kosinski’s personality. The story unfolds like a Russian nesting doll, eventually revealing the lost child beneath layers of trauma, while touching on the nature of authenticity, the atrocities of WWII, the allure of sadomasochism, and the fickleness of celebrity.




My Review

What would a Russian dictator's daughter think of living in America? It's an apt question both in our time and in the post-World War II setting of this novel, when Josef Stalin's pride and joy, his dear Lana, seeks refuge in New York City. Everyone knows who she is, she can't hide. Yet the infamy that surrounds her family doesn't seem to bother her. When she's gawked at from the moment she enters the illustrious Rainbow Room, she readily admits afterward that she loved every second of it.

Fame is a fickle thing, especially when you're known not for something you did, but for your last name. Lana laughs when good-hearted people in Nebraska and Kansas write to her, offering to adopt her. Yet the only person in America she experiences some sense of kinship with is the "supposedly" exiled Polish writer, Jerzy Kosinski. After seeing his wild eyes on a book jacket, she knew that she'd found her soul mate.

The two of them never become romantically involved, but they sure act like a squabbling couple. Lana's father was notorious for playing mind games with her, kind to her one minute, and cruel the next. Stalin's bipolar behavior is what Lana's accustomed to in a man. So when she says about Jerzy, "It was my misfortune in America that Jurek revived this addiction and made it worse. I was drawn to him and his maddening games." It doesn't bode well for the two of them.

Since they're both, in essence, Stalin's children. Jerzy admits that he could never relate to American heroes like Patton or Eisenhower because the Russians were the ones who saved his skin from the Germans. However, replacing one oppressive regime with another doesn't seem to bring any source of relief, even though that's what he wholeheartedly believes, illustrating the way that he thinks. No one is going to change him.

Lana recognizes this quality in him. She knows that beneath his calm demeanor, he's screaming inside, and she knows why. At any moment, the Kremlin could snatch her off the streets and send her back to the motherland. While Jerzy is convinced that the Polish secret police are out to get him. They're both paranoid, walking a tightrope they willingly stretch between them.

Recognizing the dark side in each other, they are, in fact, children of war. They hate what they've become, yet they can't stay away from it, either. As Lana adds, "His love was shot through with hate. He clawed at my weaknesses while he held my hand."

Some soul mate.

***

Jerzy can be purchased at:
Amazon
Barnes and Noble
IndieBound
Bellevue Literary Press

Prices/Formats: $16.99 ebook, $16.99 paperback
Genre: Historical, Jewish
Pages: 240
Release: March 14, 2017
Publisher: Bellevue Literary Press
ISBN: 9781942658146
Click to add to your Goodreads list.

***

Excerpt

CLICK HERE to read an excerpt from Jerzy.



About the Author

Jerome Charyn is the author of more than fifty works of fiction and nonfiction, including A Loaded Gun: Emily Dickinson for the 21st Century, Bitter Bronx: Thirteen Stories, I Am Abraham: A Novel of Lincoln and the Civil War, and The Secret Life of Emily Dickinson: A Novel. Among other honors, he has been longlisted for the PEN Award for Biography, honored as a finalist for the PEN/Faulkner Award, named a Commander of Arts and Letters by the French Minister of Culture, and is the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship and the Rosenthal Family Foundation Award for Fiction from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. He lives in New York.

Links to connect with Jerome:
Web Site
Facebook
Twitter
Goodreads

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