Monday, September 11, 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

Very young. Very kind. Very approachable. Very much touched by God. That's who Evangel is in the eyes of the people who encounter her.

She has a presence. She stands out from the crowd. But why? She's just a 17-year-old girl who grew up in a secluded forest cabin with her adopted grandfather. Why would someone so far removed from the world captivate and fire the imagination of so many?

Chalk it up to her forthrightness. It's because people believe she's the real deal. Her words and actions convince them of her truthfulness and depth of faith. She heals. She converts. She even brings the dead back to life. But she's humble enough to know it's not on account of her own authority. It's all thanks to the deep, abiding connection she has with the Risen One and the love she has for Him in her heart.

Her life bears a powerful testimony, and at times, it's hard for her to deal with the repercussions. She gets uncomfortable with all the attention. She withdraws. She wants to go back home. She doubts herself, thinking she made a mistake by making use of her gifts. In her mind, she's only a silly girl, thinking girlish thoughts. And yet, no one can deny the changes she's worked in the lives of others.

And that's where she draws her strength. For her, it's all about saving lives without concern for her own. It's personal. When she was just an infant, her parents sacrificed their lives in order to save hers. They were murdered in cold blood while she remained hidden in a ditch her mother placed her in. She was born into the world with death all around her, with no one to protect her.

That's why she wants to help others.

And that's why people love her.

***

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:
Web Site
Facebook
Twitter
Goodreads
Blog


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Monday, September 4, 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

A fallen angel, that's how Hollis Morgan describes herself. After having served time in prison for committing insurance fraud, now she's on the rebound, trying to reestablish herself as a licensed probate attorney. But there are people out there who won't let her forget her criminal history, and they enjoy holding it over her head like a dark cloud.

At its heart, this book examines what it means to give someone a second chance, the sheer power of it. Everyone has something they wouldn't want the world to know about them, and the unlucky ones whose past sins are made public are left to shoulder that burden, sometimes for the rest of their lives.

That's why Hollis is the last one to point fingers at anyone. She proclaims, "I know what it feels like to lose the faith of family, friends, and society, and worse - in myself. I know what it's like to be shunned, and I know I'm not going to let a scum…hurt an innocent person."

So she becomes a crusader, looking out for the welfare of those who share her lot.

First, there's young Vince, the guy with a checkered family life, whose mom is constantly in and out of rehab. His new girlfriend works in the office and doesn't think he's good enough for her, so he bends over backward to try to impress her. Hollis understands where he's coming from and decides to trust him with some additional freelance surveillance work, giving him a temporary promotion out of the mail room, and hopefully a boost in his girlfriend's estimation.

Then there's Kiki, an ex-stripper, who Hollis is trying to help reconcile with her daughter before she dies. Hollis knows the two need to finally face one another because another arms-length, third-hand conversation isn't going to help matters. After years of being unable to communicate with each other, Hollis gets Kiki to admit to her daughter, "I knew from the very first time I held you in my arms I didn't deserve you. You were an angel, and I was...what I was."

What it all comes down to is healing by being able to let go of the lingering guilt and self-righteousness on both sides. It's all about taking a person at face value for who they are now, not who they were before. There's some small part in all of us that seeks some kind of closure with the past. Bottom line, who isn't grateful to be forgiven and given the gift of peace of mind?

***

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:
Web Site
Facebook
Twitter
Goodreads


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Tuesday, August 8, 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

Taylor is a reporter who likes to collect scenes of New York by peering into all of its dark corners. For him, it's not just a job, it's his passion. So when he's called to investigate a murder related to one of the city's most prestigious families—think Rockefellers, Vanderbilts, Carnegies—"he doubted an army field jacket made the grade at 827 Park Avenue."

A seasoned veteran, Taylor's not one to be easily intimidated, yet he's not about to let himself become the punch line to some rich man's joke. Yet as it turns out, Taylor ends up liking the older gentleman he's sent to question, even though they come "from opposite ends of the New York social solar system." Taylor knows this is New York. Nowhere is safe. But the patriarch of the DeVries family feels "separated from what the city could do to them," when in all reality, their wealth is what drew the bad right to them and they never saw it coming.

After overhearing a conversation about how DeVries is "still writing the same checks to charities when [he's] going to be the charity. He has to be stopped"—the family maid almost immediately turns up dead. In a city known for transforming high profile murder cases into front page news, Taylor is well aware that the family's fall from grace is the kind of story readers are eager to read. Yet he's not looking to tarnish the family's reputation, he only wants to get the victim's story out there.

And the most likely candidate for knowing something about her murder is DeVries's son, "one of those kids…handed all the opportunity in the world and get more and more confused about what to do with it." With no job, no company, he's not the kind of guy who rides the subway. After observing him in many different circumstances from high scale dinner parties to the infamous Studio 54, Taylor realizes the young DeVries lives in a whole other world from him, a world where drugs, women and any type of depravity is within easy reach, as well as the criminal element that is more than willing to provide such things.

When Taylor confronts young DeVries after his father, too, turns up dead, all he can sputter in response to Taylor's line of questioning is, "[What is] this…some stupid game of Clue?"

Not exactly the heartfelt cry of a grieving son. But is he in anyway guilty of what happened to his father? That's for you to read and decide.

***

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:
Web Site
Facebook
Twitter
Goodreads
Blog


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Tuesday, August 1, 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

"Man, you're making me hope I never end up in a hospital."

Apparently, there's more drama going on behind the scenes in these places than many of us would care to think care about. In SPINE DAMAGE, Sharon St. George gives us an eyeful into the many varying personality types that make up the average hospital, and the friction they cause. As a reader—let's be honest—it really made me want to avoid being stuck in one of them any time soon.

"If I'd heard him call his employees his girls one more time…"

It's clear that surgeons are on the top of the pecking order. They act like divas and get away with it. Why? Because they possess skills that not many people have, and they know it, and they're not ashamed to use this knowledge to their advantage by lording it over their co-workers, and even some of their patients.

It's not surprising that most of them are playboys, an acceptable, albeit sadly predictable lifestyle for men with big, fragile egos. I guess it's a given in medical communities that surgeons have women on the side. And if these women aren't living in their hometown, then they're somewhere the docs are likely to travel to on a frequent basis, like Florida for a yachting trip or to visit the family.

One in particular, Dr. Godfrey Carver, is labeled "the poster boy of bad behavior." His surgical privileges are about to be suspended because he can't prove whether or not he actually completed his continuing education credits. The book pivots around his crucial lapse in judgment when a young Portuguese man is shot by an unknown assailant. The police really need to talk to him, but he keeps slipping in and out of a coma, and good old Dr. Carter is the surgeon assigned to his care.

Now it's up to Aimee Machado, our heroine, to verify the existence of Dr. Carter's missing educational credits, and she's quick to point out that she has "to be sure his loathsome personality isn't coloring my judgment." And that's not an easy thing to do when he threatens to have her fired by bullying her into fudging the paperwork for him. But she holds firm, not about to be intimidated by any doctor, "no matter how brilliant he was in the operating room."

She's up against the "us vs. them" mentality of hospital administration vs. medical staff, but she's not about to go down without a fight. She doesn't care how much Dr. Carver enjoys the limelight. He's slip shot with his post-op work, not to mention the fact that several nurses have filed harassment charges against him. This time, Aimee's determined to hold him accountable for his actions so that a young man, far from home, can have a second chance at life.

***

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:
Web Site
Facebook
Twitter
Goodreads


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Thursday, June 8, 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

Throughout the novel, the main character, Lin, is labeled again and again as "emotionally infantile." It's how she describes herself. It's what her parents think of her. It's how her husband treats her. And it cracks me up because…really…how many adults in the world today can truly be called "emotionally mature?" I don't know where they're all hiding because I certainly don't meet that many on a day to day basis.

It's a hard knock on a character whose choices are often limited by the situations she finds herself in. Growing up, she was raised in a household where her parents put her in the middle of their bitter rivalry. Later on, as an overweight girl in a small town, she's the repeated bearer of rude comments and sly insults, and quickly comes to find "females in packs menacing." And tragically when she becomes a teenager, she's the victim of a sexual assault that will haunt her for the rest of her life.

It's no wonder that when she marries a young pastor, a guy she knows nothing about, she comes across as closed off and guarded. So what if she's not a people person? There's nothing wrong with that. But instead of following her gut and just being herself, she tries to play the role her husband and his parishioners expect her to fill.

And big surprise when it doesn't work out.

After years of trying to make a go of it, the numbness that seeps into her bones gets to be too much for her. All she owns are the thoughts in her head, and she wants something more, a lot more. So she separates from her husband, gets her own apartment, and a job with an insurance agency, and for the first time feels like she doesn't need to be rescued by anybody, that she can actually take care of herself.

Until she finds out that her husband's been having her followed and even lets himself into her apartment while she's at work in order to read her journal to see what she's been saying about him.

So what does Lin do? Does she stand up for herself? Does she go back to him? Are they able to find some common ground?

Well, you'll just have to read the book and find out.

***

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:
Web Site
Facebook
Twitter
Goodreads
Blog


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Thursday, June 1, 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

If you like ruminating over little slices of life like I do, then you'll enjoy trolling through the pages of this detective novel.

Michael J. McCann has a knack for using superfine brush strokes when it comes to crafting his characters. Admittedly, his novels are peppered with a wide variety of names and faces—from police personnel to various suspects—and admittedly I'm not all that great at keeping them straight—but what I do remember are those subtle nuances that jump off the page and hit me square between the eyes.

There are lines I simply won't forget like, "I think she'd charge admission to her own funeral, the bloodsucker." Now the elderly woman being referred to by the investigator only makes a brief cameo appearance before exiting stage left, but the humor in McCann's writing makes you take notice of her when she informs him that she intends to charge him for her coffee, her chili, and even for the use of her copy machine.

Another one is, "…an eccentric, retired academic with not a lot of exposure to the harsher side of life." Again, this person emerges only once, as someone who knew the victim, but the description resonates because I think we all know someone like this guy.

Even when capturing the feel of a vicious, angry dog, McCann describes the action of his chain as, "Snap, drop. Snap, drop," and it makes you feel the surging energy in the dog as he's ready to attack the cops on sight. It's a brilliant way to depict the danger that police officers face day in and day out when investigating a murder, showing that they never know what they're going to encounter on a minute to minute basis.

There are many other instances I can talk about such as a female cop's sarcasm at having to dress appropriately for an important meeting, "Look professional. Feel professional. Act professionally. The world according to Nordstrom." Or even a line about the victim who was beaten and then set ablaze, "He was a hard man to love, never mind like."

But hands down the one that got me was, "I've always been attracted to a man who fights back." Who makes this whopper of a statement? Let's just say she's one difficult lady to arrest. Hmmm…a possible female killer in a tale full of male suspects? Happy reading, mystery fans.


***

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
YouTube
Blog Tour Site


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Monday, May 8, 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

Let me be perfectly honest. This is a challenging novel to review. It centers around the actual flesh and blood figure of Jerzy Kosinski, yet plenty of creative license is taken by author Jerome Charyn as he views Jerzy's life through an extremely imaginative lens. Fact blurs with fiction, yet Charyn still remains true to the man, capturing how Jerzy, himself, must have projected his concocted Holocaust survivor persona to the public.

Throughout the book, the different people in Jerzy's life provide insight into who they thought Jerzy was. Yet none of them get it quite right, only catching fleeting glimpses of the chameleon here and there. He amuses Princess Margaret so she invites him over. Comedian Peter Sellers becomes obsessed with him, determined to resurrect his acting career by bringing Jerzy's book, The Painted Bird, to the big screen. Charyn slyly adds this about the legendary Pink Panther, "[Sellers] had glanced into the novel's crazy mirror and seen himself."

However, familiarity becomes a double-edged sword. When Charyn has Jerzy counter with, "I can see that I'll have to be careful with you now, or you'll use my own words against me." The two indulge in a cat and mouse game until Jerzy finally grants Sellers the movie rights to the book, but egotistical Sellers is so thrown off his game having Jerzy on set that during filming he kicks him out, taking away any input Jerzy had in the production.

It's sad because even after achieving some degree of success, Jerzy is still "the little boy who sees himself as a changeling who has to avoid being picked to death by his own kind." In his tortured mind, he'll always be the painted bird, who sticks out like a sore thumb among the rich and famous. The Jew who doesn't belong. Not here, not there, not anywhere.

Falling into disgrace after being deemed a plagiarist later in life, Jerzy commits suicide, leaving behind the crowned royalty and Oscar winners he had so desperately tried to fit in with, but never really could. Charyn is the only one left to tell his story for him, and tell it he does.

***

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.

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