Waiting On Wednesday (70)

Waiting On Wednesday is a weekly event that
spotlights upcoming releases that I’m really
looking forward to. Waiting On Wednesday
is the creation of Jill at Breaking the Spine.

This week’s “can’t-wait-to-read” selection is:

Unsub
Meg Gardiner
Dutton, June 2017
Mystery, Police Procedural, Thriller

From the publisher—

A riveting psychological thriller inspired by the never-caught Zodiac Killer, about a young detective determined to apprehend the serial murderer who destroyed her family and terrorized a city twenty years earlier.

Caitlin Hendrix has been a Narcotics detective for six months when the killer at the heart of all her childhood nightmares reemerges: the Prophet. An UNSUB—what the FBI calls an unknown subject—the Prophet terrorized the Bay Area in the 1990s and nearly destroyed her father, the lead investigator on the case.

The Prophet’s cryptic messages and mind games drove Detective Mack Hendrix to the brink of madness, and Mack’s failure to solve the series of ritualized murders—eleven seemingly unconnected victims left with the ancient sign for Mercury etched into their flesh—was the final nail in the coffin for a once promising career.

Twenty years later, two bodies are found bearing the haunting signature of the Prophet. Caitlin Hendrix has never escaped the shadow of her father’s failure to protect their city. But now the ruthless madman is killing again and has set his sights on her, threatening to undermine the fragile barrier she rigidly maintains for her own protection, between relentless pursuit and dangerous obsession.

Determined to decipher his twisted messages and stop the carnage, Caitlin ignores her father’s warnings as she draws closer to the killer with each new gruesome murder. Is it a copycat, or can this really be the same Prophet who haunted her childhood? Will Caitlin avoid repeating her father’s mistakes and redeem her family name, or will chasing the Prophet drag her and everyone she loves into the depths of the abyss?

Why am I waiting so eagerly? It’s a police procedural and it involves a serial killer, both on my list of hot spots. Meg Gardiner has proved herself to me once or twice before so I’m looking forward to an intense read.

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Book Review: The Unlikelies by Carrie Firestone

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Title: The Unlikelies
Author: Carrie Firestone
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
Release Date: June 6, 2017
Genres: General Fiction, Young Adult

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Pre-order Links:

Barnes & Noble // Kobo // iBook
Amazon // Book Depository // Indiebound

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The Unlikelies
Carrie Firestone
Little, Brown and Company, June 2017
ISBN
Hardcover

From the publisher—

Rising high school senior Sadie is bracing herself for a long, lonely, and boring summer. But things take an unexpected turn when she steps in to help rescue a baby in distress and a video of her good deed goes viral.

Suddenly internet-famous, Sadie’s summer changes for the better when she’s introduced to other “hometown heroes.” These five very different teens form an unlikely alliance to secretly right local wrongs, but when they try to help a heroin-using friend, they get in over their heads and discover that there might be truth in the saying “no good deed goes unpunished.” Can Sadie and her new friends make it through the summer with their friendships–and anonymity–intact?

I couldn’t help feeling a bit sorry for Sadie at the very beginning because she has lost all her close friends, even her ex-boyfriend who’s not quite totally ex to graduation. I had the opposite situation when I graduated from high school, leaving my best friend behind, and I know it’s awfully painful.

Sadie is a little at a loss the first day after her friends scatter but she’s not devastated; she has a life with a job at a farm stand, she’s saving for college, she has a good family. In short, she’s a normal, emotionally grounded teen who just happens to erupt into lifesaving mode when a baby needs help, proof that this sort of thing can happen to anyone.

On the other hand, this story has more than a touch of unreality, from the moment of Sadie’s heroism to the formation of a sort of do-gooder group. Still, these kids are interesting and we learn much about each one, warts and all, and it’s nice to see teens and parents dealing with the vagaries of life in healthy fashion.

Sometimes, the story gets a bit too sweet but it’s a nice summer read and I enjoyed it quite a lot. There are enough humorous moments to lighten what could be a preachy tale and I just couldn’t help liking these kids and their idealism that they turn into action. I recommend this for any teen or adult looking for a tale of good intentions carrying the day. Hate does not always win 😉

Note: For anyone who’s counting, this can be listed in the diversity column.

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, May 2017.

About the Author

Carrie Firestone has lived in rural, urban, and suburban places, and, while she currently lives in the suburbs, she is decidedly a CITY person. She loves parties, and all kinds of music, and books about random people doing random things in random places. She loves to travel with her husband, and two daughters, Lauren and Emily. When she isn’t writing, you might find her reluctantly sharing her popcorn at the movies, trying to get people (or dogs) to do a conga line, or adding items to her loose ends list.

Website // Twitter // Facebook // Tumblr // Goodreads

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The Giveaway

3 Finished Copies of The Unlikelies by Carrie Firestone
US only, no P.O. boxes
Follow the tour for more chances to win
Runs through June 6th
Rules & Regulations are in the Rafflecopter

Enter here.

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Follow the tour here.

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Libraries, Then and Now

Kathleen Delaney, author of Murder Half-Baked and other books, retired from real estate to pursue writing full time. She’s here today to talk about how libraries have made a comeback and become more relevant than ever.

Murder by Syllabub, fifth in the Ellen McKenzie series, is available in bookstores now. Purebred Dead, the first in the new Mary McGill series, was released in August 2015 and Curtains for Miss Plym was released in April 2016. Blood Red, White and Blue will be out in July 2017.

http://www.kathleendelaney.net

When I was growing up the Glendale, Ca. public library was my favorite place to be. It was even better than the movie theater on a Saturday afternoon when you could see 3 cartoons, two ‘cliff hangers’ and two movies for I believe about a quarter. Yes, that was a long time ago.

But the library, ah, that was bliss. For absolutely nothing you could browse the stacks, pick up books and thumb threw them, tuck one under your arm, then another, knowing you were going to go home, curl up either on the couch, your bed or the covered swing under the elm tree and read.  The alley was full of kids playing ball or riding bikes but I ignored them. The worlds I entered held much more excitement then anything the alley had to offer. That excitement wasn’t without restrictions, however. The librarians not only checked out the books but they checked them over. One in particular. More than once she removed a book from my pile because she thought it was ‘too old’ for me. I got good at avoiding her when I snuck books out from the adult section.

Back then, books were what the library offered. Magazines maybe, but mainly books. Reference books, text books, fiction, lots of fiction, but books.

Then things started to change. Television came along and people said reading was dead. Libraries would soon become a thing of the past. They didn’t.

The internet appeared. People said this time the libraries were obsolete. Who needed them when you could look up anything you wanted on the internet? Only, people still went to libraries and they still looked up stuff in books.

The I phone came into being. There was nothing you couldn’t do with it. Well, maybe the dishes, but for all practical purposes you could do anything else. Your banking, shopping, texting, you could even read books because the EBook had arrived! The last nail in the libraries coffin, people said. And this time that seemed to be true. Fewer people were visiting their local libraries. Some closed. Others cut back hours, city and state boards cut funding, pundits everywhere were ordering flowers for the funeral.

But the libraries started to fight back. Dedicated librarians everywhere knew people needed them. They needed the books on their shelves, the knowledge their text books contained, the hours of pleasure the novels they shelved offered. Children needed to grow up with a book in their hands, loving the pictures, the story. The world couldn’t properly exist without libraries. But, times had changed and so must they. So they did.

Check out the web site for your local library. You’ll find a button called “Collection”. It will list every book they have in that library. Want to reserve one? You can do so on line. Looking for a class on art history? Check out the events button on the web site. Chances are your library has one, but it not they’ll offer a class, or lecture, or book club on another subject. Maybe on a subject you had no idea you were interested in, but one that sounds fascinating. Have small children? Try the mommy and me reading groups, or the story time for slightly older children. What a way to introduce toddlers to the delights books can bring. Are you a Kindle devotee? If you commute on a train or bus, chances are it’s what you use daily. Your library has a huge selection of ebooks. Kids having trouble with a class? Check out the web site of your library. Lots of them offer on line or in library homework help. Planning a trip? Go to the library. They have more interesting facts about the places you’re planning to visit than Triple A and they also have maps. And…they still have interesting books. Lots of them. Fiction, with just about every genre represented, cook books, how to do anything books, biographies of fascinating people and fascinating times. You won’t find the interesting tidbits of gossip about our founding fathers or the sobering facts that caused them to make the decisions they did in a one paragraph blurb on the internet.

So, put away the hammer, my friends, we don’t need the coffin just yet. The libraries of this country are far from dead. In fact, they are alive and well. So are the libraries in the UK and other countries. The BBC said so. More people between the ages of 21 and 50 are going to the library than have in years. Retired people still check out books on a regular basis. Children flock to the story sessions and insist on bringing home books so their mothers and fathers can read them aloud at bedtime, a generation tested event that persists to this day.

This doesn’t mean libraries have ignored computers, on the contrary. Libraries have learned to embrace them. They offer computers for your use and will even help you figure out how to use one, show you how to find the book you want, and maybe turn you on to some you never knew existed. Libraries have learned how to integrate the best of both worlds into a harmonious one and I am grateful.

Brave new world? You betcha.

Always Remember

Memorial Day is meant to remember
the men, women and canines who
have lost their lives while serving in
the armed forces. Today, we honor
them all for their sacrifices.

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From inside the Virginia War Memorial

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Arlington Cemetery

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Back to Semi-Normal

The past 5 weeks have been a bit rough
but I’m back on track now, maybe almost
as good as this little furbaby says 😉

Book Review: Adnan’s Story by Rabia Chaudry

Adnan’s Story
The Search for Truth and Justice After “Serial”
Rabia Chaudry
St. Martin’s Press, August 2016
ISBN 978-1-250-08710-2
Hardcover

I am so glad that I read this book, but at the same time, I almost long for my ignorance.  It is easier to be unaware of how disturbingly incompetent and unconcerned the very people paid to “serve and protect” behaved.  The outrage really sets in when it becomes glaringly obvious that the plethora of mistakes made was not unique in the police work, but poured into the trial.

To me, this kid never had a chance.  There is not one moment where I thought that someone in the judicial and/or legal system truly considered Adnan–the person.  Not one time was he treated as “innocent until proven guilty”.  To say that the circus that replaced his trial was riddled with errors, illegal manipulation along with flat-out suppression of pertinent information, would be remarkably generous.

If, like me, you know Adnan’s story from the “Serial” (and/or subsequent) podcast(s), you know this.  And maybe, like me, you are still consumed with a sickening, gut-wrenching wonder as to how so much could go so horribly wrong—unquestionably, indisputably wrong—without any repercussions or efforts to acknowledge, own and correct the mistakes, then perhaps you already have this in your To-Read stack.  Basically—if you’ve been at all touched by this tragic but all too true tale—I whole-heartedly believe you will be grateful for Ms. Chaudry’s work.  The author says it best: the story “Serial told” “…was true, but it wasn’t the whole truth, or the whole story” and if ever there was a whole story—with its entire truth—that begged to be told, it is Adnan’s.

Reviewed by jv poore, October 2016.

What’s the Sitch

Marc Vun Kannon, after surviving his teen age years, entered Hofstra University. Five years later, he exited with a BA in philosophy and a wife. He still has both, but the wife is more useful. Since then he almost accumulated a PhD in philosophy and has acquired a second BA in Computer Science. After dabbling in fulfilling pursuits such as stock boy and gas station attendant, he found his spiritual home as a software support engineer, for CAMP Systems International.

Marc puts his degrees in Philosophy and Computer Science to good use writing stories about strange things that happen to ordinary people. His wife and three children think it’s harmless enough, and it keeps him out of trouble. As a philosopher (his first novel demanded he write it while he was in Graduate School), his main interest is in the characters, and as a Computer geek his technique is to follow the character’s and story’s logic to ‘grow’ a story organically. His main rule when writing is to not do again what he’s already seen done before, resulting in books that are hard to describe.

http://www.marcvunkannon.com
http://authorguy.wordpress.com

There are those who will say, and have said, that a story is only as good as its villain, that a hero is only as interesting as the villain he opposes. The villain, in a sense, drives the plot, striving to work his nefarious will upon a hapless world, while the hero, strangely, is the guy who reacts to this attack, in defense of Mom and apple pie. The hero only gets center stage because the villain is hiding behind the cloak of mystery, until his fell designs are accomplished.

So how could there possibly be a story without a villain? I wish I could say that this question occurred to me beforehand, the way Joss Whedon said that his motivation to create the classic Buffy episode ‘Hush’ was the endless praise he received for his dialogue. He set out to create a story bereft of dialogue, but I did not set out to create a story without a bad guy.

Like most of my stories, Ghostkiller grew as I was writing it, starting from a very small seed, or two, or more, and becoming something I never imagined when I started out. (Did I mention that I’m a pantser?) One of those seeds was an idea I got from a movie, in which a man is hypnotized, but as he’s going under, the hypnotist has a heart attack, and no one thinks to bring the subject out of his trance. Being who I am (Offbeat-Stories-R-Us), I thought of a sorcerer conjuring up a demon, and dying as he did so, smudging the pentagram and leaving the evil spirit trapped in this world with no body to inhabit and no way to get back where it belonged.

That idea was at the base of Ghostkiller, the soil, the fertilizer, but the story-logic vine that grew from that soil was very different from its source material. While my main and only guiding principle as an author is “if you’ve seen it done once, don’t do it again”, and I certainly wouldn’t shrink away from the idea of writing a novel with a hellspawn as the hero (except that I’ve seen it done already), Ghostkiller did not start there. Aside from the first line, inspired by a Disney cartoon cross-pollinated with a zombie novel, I have no idea how the story of Ghostkiller got to be what it is:

“John Smith, killer of ghosts and savior of souls. Person of interest in a murder investigation, involuntary monster-hunter when the corpse gets up and walks away. When the body becomes a vessel for a spirit of unspeakable evil, John finds himself at ground zero of the end of the world. Not a question of if, or of when, just how.”

Instead, with the idea of the dead sorcerer buried at its base, Ghostkiller created for itself not a plot, but a story structure that I spent years trying to understand and that I’ve never seen anywhere else, a structure I call ‘Villain by Proxy’. The villain starts his evil machinations going and then somehow vanishes from the scene, leaving all the other characters stuck in a situation (‘the Sitch’, if you will) they aren’t even aware of, his evil proxy. Unlike another story structure I developed, which I called the Hero by Proxy, the Sitch acts in the world, performing whatever villainous acts its creator made it for. (As an illustration of this, imagine the story of the Lord of the Rings, only without Sauron, just the One Ring, endlessly waiting and corrupting all who hold it.)

The Sitch drives most of the actions of the plot, from both the protagonists and their opposites, a Jack the Giant-Killer scenario with no Jack. Even the bad guys are victims. The majority of the plot is them–all of them, any of them–figuring this out, and then doing something about it, no matter the price, and there will be a price. The Sitch is the state of the world itself. When the situation is the enemy, defeating the enemy means the end of the world.

For somebody.