Judge a Book: Nickolas Butler

March 14, 2017

THE HEARTS OF MEN by Nickolas Butler | Judge a Book – Play along as Judge a Book contestants at the Brooklyn Book Festival try to figure out what Nickolas Butler’s THE HEARTS OF MEN is about ONLY by looking at its cover. Boy Scouts? An affair? Oppression?

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Finalist for the 2016 Prix Médicis Etrangere*

An epic novel of intertwining friendships and families set in the Northwoods of Wisconsin at a beloved Boy Scout summer camp—from the bestselling author of Shotgun Lovesongs

Camp Chippewa, 1962. Nelson Doughty, age thirteen, social outcast and overachiever, is the Bugler, sounding the reveille proudly each morning. Yet this particular summer marks the beginning of an uncertain and tenuous friendship with a popular boy named Jonathan.

Over the years, Nelson, irrevocably scarred from the Vietnam War, becomes Scoutmaster of Camp Chippewa, while Jonathan marries, divorces, and turns his father’s business into a highly profitable company. And when something unthinkable happens at a camp get-together with Nelson as Scoutmaster and Jonathan’s teenage grandson and daughter-in-law as campers, the aftermath demonstrates the depths—and the limits—of Nelson’s selflessness and bravery.

The Hearts of Men is a sweeping, panoramic novel about the slippery definitions of good and evil, family and fidelity, the challenges and rewards of lifelong friendships, the bounds of morality—and redemption.

 


Pierce Brown: 8 Great Questions

March 12, 2017

Author Pierce Brown (The Red Rising Series) answers eight great questions! All about books, naturally.

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RED RISING by Pierce Brown

The book that started it all. “A dystopian science fiction tale set on a terraformed Mars, [that] actually exceeds its prepublication praise. It will be one of the most immersive and memorable books you’ll read,” Barnes & Noble
 
NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY, BUZZFEED, AND SHELF AWARENESS

“Ender, Katniss, and now Darrow.”—Scott Sigler
 
Pierce Brown’s relentlessly entertaining debut channels the excitement of The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins and Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card.

“I live for the dream that my children will be born free,” she says. “That they will be what they like. That they will own the land their father gave them.”

“I live for you,” I say sadly.

Eo kisses my cheek. “Then you must live for more.”

Darrow is a Red, a member of the lowest caste in the color-coded society of the future. Like his fellow Reds, he works all day, believing that he and his people are making the surface of Mars livable for future generations. Yet he spends his life willingly, knowing that his blood and sweat will one day result in a better world for his children.

But Darrow and his kind have been betrayed. Soon he discovers that humanity reached the surface generations ago. Vast cities and lush wilds spread across the planet. Darrow—and Reds like him—are nothing more than slaves to a decadent ruling class.

Inspired by a longing for justice, and driven by the memory of lost love, Darrow sacrifices everything to infiltrate the legendary Institute, a proving ground for the dominant Gold caste, where the next generation of humanity’s overlords struggle for power.  He will be forced to compete for his life and the very future of civilization against the best and most brutal of Society’s ruling class. There, he will stop at nothing to bring down his enemies . . . even if it means he has to become one of them to do so.

Red Rising Series


A LADY’S CODE OF MISCONDUCT by Meredith Duran

March 11, 2017

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Rules for the Reckless, Book 5

Meredith Duran writes a smart and sexy book about a strong woman and politics in 1860’s Great Britain.

Jane Mason lost her parents and her father’s brother became her guardian. Her father was a maverick businessman who made a fortune and then turned to politics, trying to better lives in Great Britain. But he was also smart enough to leave the money in trust for his daughter. His brother takes over his seat in Parliament, but he is not the man his brother was. He is consumed by greed and is determined to get his hands on his niece’s fortune.

Jane was brought up educated and to speak her mind, but her uncle hides her away in the country and tries to will it out of her. Jane is smart enough to know that she is treading on thin ice, and pretends to become the “brown mouse” that her uncle wants. When she is informed that she will be marrying her cousin, she is determined to find a way out of that marriage and out on her own. She arranges a “marriage” but her uncle finds out and stops it. She learns this from Crispin Burke, a very good looking but evil politician in cahoots with her uncle. He offers her a way out if she will spy on her uncle for him and she agrees.

When Crispin is attacked and left for dead, Jane manages to “marry” him, finding her way out of the arranged marriage and into independence. Except Crispin doesn’t die. Instead he awakens with amnesia, believing Jane to be his wife and forgetting all the bad politics he’s been involved in. Together they form a strong alliance for good, but Jane is afraid once he gets his memory back he will get rid of her – and she has fallen in love with him.

Lots of political intrigue permeates this story but it is the romance that is the most intriguing. A very entertaining and enthralling read.

3/17 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

A LADY’S CODE OF MISCONDUCT by Meredith Duran. Pocket Books (February 28, 2017). ISBN 978-1501139024. 400p.


3 Defining Moments of Emperor Nero’s Life by Margaret George

March 10, 2017

3 defining moments of Emperor Nero’s life | Author Margaret George

Author Margaret George (THE CONFESSIONS OF YOUNG NERO) looks at three moments in Emperor Nero’s life where he made decisions that broke with tradition.

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THE CONFESSIONS OF YOUNG NERO by Margaret George

The New York Times bestselling and legendary author of Helen of Troy and Elizabeth I now turns her gaze on Emperor Nero, one of the most notorious and misunderstood figures in history.

Built on the backs of those who fell before it, Julius Caesar’s imperial dynasty is only as strong as the next person who seeks to control it. In the Roman Empire no one is safe from the sting of betrayal: man, woman—or child.

As a boy, Nero’s royal heritage becomes a threat to his very life, first when the mad emperor Caligula tries to drown him, then when his great aunt attempts to secure her own son’s inheritance. Faced with shocking acts of treachery, young Nero is dealt a harsh lesson: it is better to be cruel than dead.

While Nero idealizes the artistic and athletic principles of Greece, his very survival rests on his ability to navigate the sea of vipers that is Rome. The most lethal of all is his own mother, a cold-blooded woman whose singular goal is to control the empire. With cunning and poison, the obstacles fall one by one. But as Agrippina’s machinations earn her son a title he is both tempted and terrified to assume, Nero’s determination to escape her thrall will shape him into the man he was fated to become—an Emperor who became legendary.

With impeccable research and captivating prose, The Confessions of Young Nero is the story of a boy’s ruthless ascension to the throne. Detailing his journey from innocent youth to infamous ruler, it is an epic tale of the lengths to which man will go in the ultimate quest for power and survival.


PERFECT FOR YOU by Candis Terry

March 9, 2017
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A Sunshine Creek Vineyard Novel, Book 2

 

I loved the first book in this new series so I was very happy to get the second. Set in a vineyard in the small town of Sunshine Creek, (near Vancouver, I think?) this book focuses on another of the gorgeous Kinkaide brothers, Declan.

Jordan was the focus of the first book in the series, A Better Man, and his twin Declan is the focus here. The twins are fraternal and as different as night and day. Declan is the serious one. As a child he had learning disabilities which weren’t diagnosed for years, so he always struggled. That made him determined to excel at something, and that something became financial management.

His long time assistant, Brooke, works with him in his California office. After his parents death, things are upended at the family vineyard and Dec needs to get home, and that’s where this story starts.

With no flights available for a few days, Brooke suggests driving the 15 hours to Sunshine Creek and reluctantly Dec agrees. Little does he know how life-changing that drive will be. His super efficient assistant turns out to be a fearless, fun loving girl, and Dec is at a loss how to handle it. Slowly it dawns on him that he is enjoying himself, something his very serious self hasn’t experienced in a long time. And Brooke finally admits to herself that she is in love with her boss, but wonders how she will get through the wall he has built around himself.

Lots of ups and downs along the way, but the path leads directly to romance. This was a one nighter for me, I couldn’t put it down. Do read this series in order though, it will be more enjoyable to get all the back story before moving to this new book.

3/17 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

PERFECT FOR YOU by Candis Terry. Avon (February 28, 2017).  ISBN 978-0062471840.  368p.

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A Day Without a Woman

March 8, 2017

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WHY WE MARCH

March 7, 2017
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Signs of Protest and Hope–Voices from the Women’s March

There will be no denying the size and scope of the January 21, 2017 Women’s March – not with this historical record.

This is the second book to come out recording this event. See WHY I MARCH for another look.

From the publisher:

Celebrate the Women’s March with this inspiring collection of 500 images of the most powerful, uplifting, clever, and creative protest signs carried by marchers across the United States and around the world. Organized thematically, the photographs in Why We March–featuring messages about reproductive rights and immigration, cabinet picks and police violence, climate change and feminism–together paint a striking portrait of the hope, defiance, anger, and passion that sent more than 5 million people into the streets to protest.

“Women’s Rights = Human Rights.” “Love Trumps Hate.” “Nasty Women Unite.” “Build Bridges, Not Walls.” These messages are a rallying cry for this burgeoning movement, and this collection will serve as both a valuable encapsulation of this unprecedented moment in political history and a powerful reminder of why we march.

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All royalties from the sale of this book will be donated to Planned Parenthood.

3/17 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

WHY WE MARCH by Artisan. Artisan (March 7, 2017). ISBN 978-1579658281. 264p.

 


Writing Advice: Scott Sigler

March 6, 2017

How journalism helped me become a novelist | Author Scott Sigler – Author Scott Sigler (ALONE) offers writing advice, drawing from the lessons he learned while working as a journalist.

Author Scott Sigler on his early writing and bookstore shopping | Author Shorts


COOKING FOR PICASSO by Camille Aubray

March 5, 2017
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I admit I fell for the title of this book, thinking it would be a foodie book. It really isn’t, although food does play a part. But it is more a family saga, moving between small towns in France and New York, spanning almost a hundred years.

It starts just before World War II when Ondine helps her mother with the cooking and cleaning in the family’s cafe. She is just sixteen years old when an important artist rents the house down the road for the summer. The mysterious “patron” wants his lunch delivered every day, and Ondine rides her bike with her basket of food for Picasso.

He is laying low, caught in a mess – he’s married and has mistresses, all of whom are goading one another. Ondine eventually models for him, and he promises her the painting. But Picasso takes off without giving it to her.

Ondine’s parents try to marry her off to the town baker, thinking his influx of money will help the cafe. But Ondine is waiting for her boyfriend Luc, gone off to sea to make enough money to marry her. Eventually she ends up in New Rochelle, New York, with her own restaurant. Things go awry and she moves back to France with her daughter, in search of the painting that was promised her.

There are two story lines going on here. Ondine’s granddaughter returns to France to try and find the Picasso, so it moves back and forth between timelines, and the mystery makes for a very entertaining and interesting read. There is a bit of romance as well, but it feels more like a device to further the plot.

Historical novels based on someone famous have become quite popular. Fans of Paula McLain (The Paris Wife) or Nancy Horan (Loving Frank) will probably enjoy this book, although I don’t know how much of it is historically accurate. Perhaps the bits about Picasso and how he lived are the most authentic but it is all interesting. I found it a bit slow in the beginning but it picks up once the dual story line kicks in, ended up being a terrific read. Book groups will find much to discuss here.

3/17 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

COOKING FOR PICASSO by Camille Aubray. Ballantine Books (August 9, 2016). ISBN: 978-0399177651. 400p.

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Author Clare Mackintosh on her first significant pieces of writing

March 4, 2017

Author Clare Mackintosh (I SEE YOU) talks about her first pieces of writing that reached a wide audience, and the surprising aspects of being a writer.

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I SEE YOU by Clare Mackintosh

The author of the New York Times bestseller I Let You Go propels readers into a dark and claustrophobic thriller, in which a normal, everyday woman becomes trapped in the confines of her normal, everyday world…
 
Every morning and evening, Zoe Walker takes the same route to the train station, waits at a certain place on the platform, finds her favorite spot in the car, never suspecting that someone is watching her…

It all starts with a classified ad. During her commute home one night, while glancing through her local paper, Zoe sees her own face staring back at her; a grainy photo along with a phone number and a listing for a website called FindTheOne.com.

Other women begin appearing in the same ad, a different one every day, and Zoe realizes they’ve become the victims of increasingly violent crimes—including murder. With the help of a determined cop, she uncovers the ad’s twisted purpose…A discovery that turns her paranoia into full-blown panic. Zoe is sure that someone close to her has set her up as the next target.

And now that man on the train—the one smiling at Zoe from across the car—could be more than just a friendly stranger. He could be someone who has deliberately chosen her and is ready to make his next move…