An Eye for an Eye by Caroline Fardig
While I’m not usually an avid reader of “intense” thrillers, there’s something wonderful about “accidental detective” stories, the tales of people who bring unique characteristics to a case. Fardig’s heroine, Ellie Matthews, is just such a person: she’s highly trained and highly skilled due to her work as a professor of forensic science, but she’s also just reluctant enough that we don’t have to sit through backstory involving their years on the force and the resulting drinking problem they’ve overcome.
Part of the fun of an accidental detective story is that they don’t have instant resources at their fingertips, not that those resources always help the police solve the case, either. But part of the fun of Fardig’s take on the grizzly murder of a young college student is that we also don’t have to sit through the usual “stay out of our case” mess that a lot of these stories rely on. (As if any detective in his right mind would walk past a seasoned forensic science teacher and refuse to speak to them, let alone pick their brains?)
Fardig’s novel is fun for the reasons I mentioned above, but only fell microscopically short for me for two reasons: first, there was a lot of narration that I felt kept me from getting really pulled into the story, and second (inexplicably, since there was so much narration!) I also never really felt like I knew the characters the way readers of book one in this series did. I was often lost for just a split second, and had to remind myself that I have not read the first Ellie Matthews novel.
I strongly recommend this book, but also highly encourage readers to start with book one!
REVIEW: The Untold Stories of Broadway Vol 3
I was very surprised by the print quality of this enormous book, so surprised, in fact, that I looked up the previous two versions online to see if perhaps I was holding a galley copy and not the final version. No, volumes one and two were very similar in their cover design, their page formatting, and other features. This book is so fun and comes written by someone with unparalleled expertise in the topic, but I wish there had been a lot more effort put into making it look like a professionally crafted book.
Having said that, there are some considerations as to why it might be such an uncharacteristically strange-looking book. First, a portion of the proceeds go to support the Broadway Green Alliance, a non-profit that works to ensure that NYC productions are as environmentally-friendly as possible. The more money the publisher spent on making this into a more industry-standard book, the less money there would be to support the organization.
But the other consideration is this: when you have as much access to insider knowledge of the theater scene as author Jennifer Ashley Tepper, it doesn’t matter what the finished product looks like, even if it isn’t all that polished. You would think any of the Big Five publishers would be clamoring to get their hands on the manuscripts that led to these three books, but then the resulting publication would be so outrageously expensive that only the stars who grace the pages could even afford it. At just around $20 each, these oversized volumes share snippet-like anecdotes of life inside the biggest name theaters, and featuring the antics and tales of the biggest name stars.
For too many theater lovers, even a Broadway matinee is out of the realm of possibility. They instead rely on insider views to get to know their favorite stars and the iconic performances that grace the stage. With over 300 pages of interviews, memories, inside jokes, pranks, and more, this is the gift to get the theaterphile in your life.
The Untold Stories of Broadway Volume 3 goes on sale November 15th.
REVIEW: Whitefern by VC Andrews
I’ll admit, I LOVED My Sweet Audrina when I first read it years ago (probably at a younger age than I should have). It was dark and twisted but still endearing in its own way, and it carried the story along through believable–and a few semi-believable–characters that did completely bizarre things.
So imagine my complete and total shock-filled joy to discover that there was a sequel!
Whitefern picks up with the death of Audrina’s father and shortly after, the reading of his will. The first book’s happily ever after romance between Audrina and Arden has become just as dark and twisted as the original story, and Arden loses his mind over the will when Audrina is named the major shareholder in her father’s company. “Sweet” Audrina has had no interest in her father’s business, but now that she’s been put in charge for some unknown reason, she’s curious as to why her father made that decision…and what he knew about Arden that would leave him out.
Then of course, there’s Audrina’s sister, Sylvia. The plot takes on a fresh form of evil where the younger sister–all grown up–is concerned, and Audrina is once again ensnared in a “face saving” scheme to protect the family name.
My only complaint with the book may stem from my having aged and matured, and not through the writer’s storytelling ability, but I just never felt the believability factor that I felt when reading the original. It was entertaining, but I always felt like I was on the outside looking in, and never really absorbed by the story and its outcome. Again, that could just be the thirty-year age difference between the teen who read My Sweet Audrina and the adult who enjoyed Whitefern.
REVIEW: The Alien’s Virgin by Morgan Rae
I’m not going to lie, when I first learned about sci-fi romance a few years ago, I kept having flashbacks to Captain Kirk French kissing a blue-painted woman with antennae. I wondered how this could really be a subgenre of romance, and then I remembered that the best thing about romance titles is there’s literally something for everyone. Whether you like your love stories sweet and clean or down and dirty, you will find something that revs your engine!
In Morgan Rae’s case, it’s the brilliance of world-building that drew me into her book. This was not the formulaic romance novel, as in, “they meet, they hate each other, they break down their differences, they have sex, something happens and they hate each other, then it gets all cleared up and they love each other for all time.” I’ve read SO MANY of those that they’ve all begun to run together.
SPOILER ALERT/HINT: When your heroine is tricked by a Selith prince into leaving the planet while pregnant with the alien chief’s child halfway through the book, it’s not your typical romance novel.
The Alien’s Virgin definitely keeps you guessing, but the attention to detail in the world that Rae has created is unparalleled. Two different alien races are battling for survival and supremacy, but when a human is thrown into the mix as a gift from the Goddess, only those who can seek out love will be able to withstand the fight.
Take a look here while it’s on sale from Enamored Ink: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01MG6B84N
Review: Haunted Empire by Yukari Iwatani Kane
I expected a lot from Haunted Empire, and I did get a lot of information. It just wasn’t the stuff I thought I would read about. Where was the controversy? Where was the speculation about Apple’s downfall? Basically, where was the information that CEO Tim Cook took issue with?
There was a lot of background information, and I will say that the beginning of the book contained an even closer look at Steve Jobs. It’s funny to read a book that contains information on how Jobs fought with the guy writing his book! There was a lot of really in-depth and thrilling–both heartwarming and negative–information on who Jobs was, told only through the most hidden conversations that made me ask several times, “How did the author find this out?” That’s not to question Kane’s veracity, but to really highlight that she included conversations no one else would have known about.
But while the content within the book gave detailed information about Apple’s woes since the untimely passing of Jobs–I’m not above admitting that I cried several times during Kane’s depiction of the CEO’s last few months and final death–there was nothing of note about where the company is headed with Cook at the helm, at least not in terms of the uproar that followed the book’s publication. Yes, there is certainly mention that Apple hasn’t released anything profound since losing its original dreamer, but it’s also understandable. Kane even paints a picture of a company that is still reinventing itself as a new company, having gone through downturns in the past with various underwhelming CEOs.
At the same time, Kane herself gives so much insight into not only the legal woes that have plagued Apple lately (and kept the company fairly busy with its leadership and its finances tied up in courtroom drama), but also unintentionally details the cyclical nature of Apple’s innovations. It’s hardly newsworthy that the company that brought us the iPhone, iPod, iPad, and resulting app and music stores in the space of such a short time frame would rest on its laurels for a moment before attempting to launch anything quite as world changing again.
Haunted Empire was insightful and interesting, but hardly earned its reputation as the tell-all, “bearer of bad tidings” book that the hype told us to expect.
Book Review: Luck of the Dragon by Susannah Scott
Run, don’t walk, to get a copy of Susannah Scott’s adventure/fantasy/romance title Luck of the Dragon. Better yet, it’s about dragons…FLY to get your hands on a copy.
As a book reviewer, I get a lot of books. A LOT. Books show up unannounced on my doorstep (literally, when UPS drops them off) from everyone from self-published authors to Big Five publishers. It’s pretty cool, actually.
So when a book really stands out, I SHOUT about it. GO GET THIS ONE.
Lucy De Luca has worked hard to make something of her life despite her “humble” beginnings. With a father in jail, a deranged mom who drank herself from boyfriend to boyfriend, and a brother who’s so far in bed with the mob that he can see the thread count on the sheets, it’s been hard for Lucy to distance herself from all of that to become an expert in her field. Her Ph.D. in gemology not withstanding, when her twin brother needs her help to get Gino off his back, she manages to run afoul of the Vegas mob scene while gaining the attention of handsome, wealthy casino owner Alec Gerold.
Oh, and Alec’s a dragon. King of the dragons, to be exact. And if he doesn’t find a mate in the upcoming ceremony, he risks losing his dragon form altogether. Of course, if he takes his true mate–Lucy, the human–he also risks sparking a global dragon war that could cost him his throne.
Fun stuff, people.
Actually, I have to tell you that this is not my go-to genre when I want a good book to read. I can’t really say I’m a romance fan, and I’m certainly not your girl when it comes to dragon lit. But the writing pulled me in from the first page and made this book a one-sitting read. Excellent story line, tasteful explicit scenes, and a really smart, sassy, EDUCATED heroine made this one a total delight.
Luck of the Dragon is available now, and a sequel is on its way!
Book A Day Project to Kick Off 2014!
Books are a huge part of my life. I think you knew that already because I own Author Options, I blog at SeeLorcaWrite.com, I’m a hybrid author, and because…well…I started a website called ReadioactiveBooks.com. My family used to laugh, then it quickly morphed into eye-rolling, and now we’re pushing the boundaries towards open disgust at the sheer number of books that show up at my house, from authors and publishers alike.
To do something besides just the typical book reviews in 2014, I’ve decided to attempt my Book A Day project. Basically, I will post a picture of a book in various places every day this year. (Then there’s the obvious tweeting, Facebooking, sharing, etc.)
But wait, it’s already January 3rd. Aren’t you three books behind? I’m glad you asked that. It was kind of intentional, since I didn’t think too many people were racing over to their computers on the first, desperate to see if I had any books handy. (And the second always sucks because you have to go back to work that day). Here are the first three books of the 2014 Book A Day Project:
These books are How Did I Get Here? by Robert Rand, Stunner by Niki Danforth, and The Poisoned Island by Lloyd Shepherd. The first two are available now, the third comes out later this month.
So how do you get in on this?
Send me a book. Please limit it to either your own book or a book that you thoroughly enjoyed and want me to share. If you want your book back, please be sure to include a return postage mailer. Send the books to me at P O Box 429, Choccolocco, AL 36254. That’s it. That’s all you have to do.
Author Interviews: What You Should Know by Mike Feder
Readioactive is HONORED to have SiriusXM radio host Mike Feder sharing some of the things to keep in mind whenever the opportunity to promote your writing comes around. As a professional host of three national radio shows each week, he’s endured more than his fair share of sticky interview subjects!
I was interviewed a few days ago about my new book, about writing and performing—and also about doing radio and various other topics. And I have to say, it was a pleasure being on the other side of the microphone for a change—not being the one who had to come up with the questions, guide the guest through the interview, and fit it all into a relatively short time-frame.
I’ve interviewed roughly a thousand guests—journalists, professors, authors (fiction and non-fiction), historians, politicians, musicians, activists, etc.—during the time I’ve been on the air. It’s definitely a skill—bordering on an art—to get the best information in the most articulate way from a guest. Most of these interviews are done live on the air, and some were done in person and broadcast live when I worked at Shakespeare & Company books in Manhattan.
It’s hard to be a good interviewer. You have to converse intelligently with the guest but make sure the audience is hearing the best conversation they can hear—and do it all in a specific time frame…twenty minutes, a half hour or forty-five minutes.
Some guests—no problem. They are born talkers. They’re fluid, entertaining, passionate and know how respond and keep a conversation going. Others you can’t get to shut up; ask them a question—even a simple one—and they’re off. You have to break in and practically yell at them before they will stop talking. And still others—you put a question to them—sometimes a complex (and you hope, interesting) question—and, in response, all you get is, “No” or “Yes.”
And it keeps happening, over and over again. It’s like digging for gold with a blunt spoon. In fact, one time, I just gave up, put some music on and told the guest, thanks a lot but I have to move on now…
Then there are guests who come into the interview with a bad attitude, authors who hate doing interviews but have to to sell their books, or authors who have already done twenty interviews before they speak to you and have two more the same night. Or maybe the guest was asked (or told) to do the interview by the organization they work for (a think tank, university, etc.) and hate the idea of talking on the air.
Some people just have personalities like cactuses and they feel no need to alter that when they go on the air.
Now there are other interviewees who are friendly, good-hearted, and even brilliant; masters of their field…but they cannot speak. They talk like they’re sitting on a back porch and they have all the time in the world. Or they speak so fast they sound like caffeinated chipmunks or so slowly you start to nod off. Then there are the guests who speak so low nobody (for instance, the audience) can hear them.
When it comes to fiction writers and poets, they can be the trickiest interviews of all. It usually runs to extremes. Either fiction writers can be great talkers—almost as if their verbally expressed thoughts are first drafts of their writing or entertaining critical reviews of their own work—or they are so used to spending years alone, thinking and composing in isolation, that when they have a microphone in front of them and not a keyboard they have no idea what to say. They work in silence—and it’s as if talking were spending their thoughts like money. They are afraid that if they talk too much or even at all, they’ll metaphorically go broke and have nothing left to write.
Interviewing is a real skill and not for amateurs. It can be hard work. So when I was the one being interviewed it was like a taking a vacation.
Mike Feder has been a radio personality and host for almost 35 years, first on WBAI and WEVD in New York City, and now nationally on Sirius XM and PRN.FM radio. He is the author of several books, and his latest title is A Long Swim Upstream. You can follow him on Twitter at @Mike_Feder.