Advertisements
post

Featured Books

Episode #32 – December 8, 2013

Peril by Jordyn RedwoodIts Raining Frogs and Fishes, by Jerry DennisThe Tilted World by Tom Franklin and Beth Ann FennellyThe Boy Who Could See Demons by Carolyn Jess-Cooke 

What Nikki is reading, Peril by Jordyn Redwood

What Matt is reading, It’s Raining Frogs and Fishes by Jerry Dennis

 Topic, Shop Local for the Holiday’s!

Book Review, The Tilted World by Tom Franklin and Beth Ann Fennlley 

Set against the backdrop of the historic flooding of the Mississippi River, The Tilted World is an extraordinary tale of murder and moonshine, sandbagging and saboteurs, and a man and a woman who find unexpected love, from Tom Franklin, the acclaimed author of the New York Times bestseller Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter, and award-winning poet Beth Ann Fennelly

The year is 1927. As rains swell the Mississippi, the mighty river threatens to burst its banks and engulf everything in its path, including federal revenue agent Ted Ingersoll and his partner, Ham Johnson. Arriving in the tiny hamlet of Hobnob, Mississippi, to investigate the disappearance of two fellow agents who’d been on the trail of a local bootlegger, they are astonished to find a baby boy abandoned in the middle of a crime scene.

Ingersoll, an orphan raised by nuns, is determined to find the infant a home, and his search leads him to Dixie Clay Holliver. A strong woman married too young to a philandering charmer, Dixie Clay has lost a child to illness and is powerless to resist this second chance at motherhood. From the moment they meet, Ingersoll and Dixie Clay are drawn to each other. He has no idea that she’s the best bootlegger in the county and may be connected to the agents’ disappearance. And while he seems kind and gentle, Dixie Clay knows full well that he is an enemy who can never be trusted.

When Ingersoll learns that a saboteur might be among them, planning a catastrophe along the river that would wreak havoc in Hobnob, he knows that he and Dixie Clay will face challenges and choices that they will be fortunate to survive. Written with extraordinary insight and tenderness, The Tilted World is that rarest of creations, a story of seemingly ordinary people who find hope and deliverance where they least expect it—in each other.

Audio Sample, The Boy Who Could See Demons by Carolyn Jess-Cooke

Dr. Anya Molokova, a child psychiatrist, is called in to work at MacNeice House, an adolescent mental health treatment center. There she is told to observe and assess Alex Connolly, a keenly intelligent, sensitive ten-year-old coping with his mother’s latest suicide attempt. Alex is in need of serious counseling: He has been harming himself and others, often during blackouts. At the root of his destructive behavior, Alex claims, is his imaginary “friend” Ruen, a cunning demon who urges Alex to bend to his often violent will.

But Anya has seen this kind of behavior before—with her own daughter, Poppy, who suffered from early-onset schizophrenia. Determined to help Alex out of his darkness, Anya begins to treat the child. But soon strange and alarming coincidences compel Anya to wonder: Is Alex’s condition a cruel trick of the mind? Or is Ruen not so make-believe after all? The reality, it turns out, is more terrifying than anything she has ever encountered.

A rich and deeply moving page-turner, The Boy Who Could See Demons sets out to challenge the imagination and capture the way life takes unexpected turns. In the best storytelling tradition, it leaves the reader changed.

Episode #31 – October 3, 2013

Doctor_Sleep This Town Monsters The Return     

What Nikki is reading Doctor Sleep by Stephen King

What Matt is reading, This Town by Mark Leibovich

 

Book Review, The Return by Michael Grubner
The real Richard Marder would shock his acquaintances, if they ever met him. Marder is perfectly comfortable keeping his true self a secret from his clients, his friends, and his daughter. Even his wife, long dead, didn’t know the real man behind the calm, cultured mask he presents to the world. Only an old army buddy from Vietnam, Patrick Frances Skelly, knows what Marder is capable of. Then a shattering piece of news awakens Marder’s buried desire for vengeance; with nothing left to lose, he sets off to punish the people who actions, years earlier, changed his life. Uninvited, Skelly shows up and the two of them together raise the stakes far beyond anything Marder could have envisioned.

Audio Sample, Monsters – The Ashes Trilogy by Ilsa J. Bick
The Changed are on the move. The Spared are out of time. The End…is now.

When her parents died, Alex thought things couldn’t get much worse–until the doctors found the monster in her head.

She headed into the wilderness as a good-bye, to leave everything behind. But then the end of the world happened, and Alex took the first step down a treacherous road of betrayal and terror and death.

Now, with no hope of rescue–on the brink of starvation in a winter that just won’t quit–she discovers a new and horrifying truth.

The Change isn’t over.
The Changed are still evolving.
And…they’ve had help.

With this final volume of The Ashes Trilogy, Ilsa J. Bick delivers a riveting, blockbuster finish, returning readers to a brutal, post-apocalyptic world where no one is safe and hope is in short supply.

A world where, from these ashes, the monsters may rise.
Episode #30 – September 17, 2013

Save-Yourself-Kelly-Braffet-CoverCountdownCity Ben Winters Detroit by Charlie LeDuffThe Son Philipp MeyerMother-Mother-by-Koren-Zailckas   

What Nikki is reading, Save Yourself Kelly Braffet

What Matt is reading, Countdown City, Ben H. Winters

What they BOTH are reading, Detroit An American Autopsy, Charlie LeDuff

Book Review, The Son, Phillip Meyer
Spring, 1849. The first male child born in the newly established Republic of Texas, Eli McCullough is thirteen years old when a marauding band of Comanche storm his homestead and brutally murder his mother and sister, taking him captive. Brave and clever, Eli quickly adapts to Comanche life, learning their ways and language, answering to a new name, carving a place as the chief’s adopted son, and waging war against their enemies, including white men-complicating his sense of loyalty and understanding of who he is. But when disease, starvation, and overwhelming numbers of armed Americans decimate the tribe, Eli finds himself alone. Neither white nor Indian, civilized or fully wild, he must carve a place for himself in a world in which he does not fully belong-a journey of adventure, tragedy, hardship, grit, and luck that reverberates in the lives of his progeny.

Intertwined with Eli’s story are those of his son, Peter, a man who bears the emotional cost of his father’s drive for power, and JA, Eli’s great-granddaughter, a woman who must fight hardened rivals to succeed in a man’s world.

Phillipp Meyer deftly explores how Eli’s ruthlessness and steely pragmatism transform subsequent generations of McCulloughs. Love, honor, children are sacrificed in the name of ambition, as the family becomes one of the richest powers in Texas, a ranching-and-oil dynasty of unsurpassed wealth and privilege. Yet, like all empires, the McCoulloughs must eventually face the consequences of their choices.

Audio Sample, Mother, Mother Koren Zailckas
Josephine Hurst has her family under control. With two beautiful daughters, a brilliantly intelligent son, a tech-guru of a husband and a historical landmark home, her life is picture perfect. She has everything she wants; all she has to do is keep it that way. But living in this matriarch’s determinedly cheerful, yet subtly controlling domain hasn’t been easy for her family, and when her oldest daughter, Rose, runs off with a mysterious boyfriend, Josephine tightens her grip, gradually turning her flawless home into a darker sort of prison.

Resentful of her sister’s newfound freedom, Violet turns to eastern philosophy, hallucinogenic drugs, and extreme fasting, eventually landing herself in the psych ward. Meanwhile, her brother Will shrinks further into a world of self-doubt. Recently diagnosed with Aspergers and epilepsy, he’s separated from the other kids around town and is homeschooled to ensure his safety. Their father, Douglas, finds resolve in the bottom of the bottle—an addict craving his own chance to escape. Josephine struggles to maintain the family’s impeccable façade, but when a violent incident leads to a visit from child protective services, the truth about the Hursts might finally be revealed.

Episode #29 – April 12, 2013

Red Moon by Benjamin PercyThe Tenderness of Wolves by Stef PennyThe Death of Bees by Lisa O'DonnellThe Living Great Lakes by Jerry DennisThe 5th Wave by Rick Yancey

What Nikki is reading, Red Moon by Benjamin Percy

What Matt is reading, The Tenderness of Wolves by Stef Penny

Author Interview, Lisa O’Donnell – The Death of Bees

Book Review, The Living Great Lakes by Jerry Dennis
The Living Great Lakes: Searching for the Heart of the Inland Seas (St. Martin’s Press, 2003)
The story of the Great Lakes told from the decks of boats, especially The Malabar, a two-masted schooner the author helped sail from Lake Michigan to Bar Harbor, Maine. Awards include the 2004 Sigurd Olson Nature Writing Award, the Best Book of the Year from the Outdoor Writers Association of America, the Stuart D. and Vernice Gross Award for Excellence in Literature, and the Great Lakes Culture Award from Michigan State University. The book was also a finalist for the Great Lakes Booksellers Association’s Book of the Year and was selected as a “2004 Michigan Notable Book” by the Library of Michigan and the Michigan Library Association. A perennial favorite of book clubs, it has been a community reads selection in 17 cities, including 2009 “Traverse City [MI] Reads,” and the 2010 “Ann Arbor/Ypsilanti Reads.” It is currently in development as a national production of PBS television.

Audio Sample, The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey
After the 1st wave, only darkness remains. After the 2nd, only the lucky escape. And after the 3rd, only the unlucky survive. After the 4th wave, only one rule applies: trust no one.

Now, it’s the dawn of the 5th wave, and on a lonely stretch of highway, Cassie runs from Them. The beings who only look human, who roam the countryside killing anyone they see. Who have scattered Earth’s last survivors. To stay alone is to stay alive, Cassie believes, until she meets Evan Walker. Beguiling and mysterious, Evan Walker may be Cassie’s only hope for rescuing her brother–or even saving herself. But Cassie must choose: between trust and despair, between defiance and surrender, between life and death. To give up or to get up.

Episode #28 – April 2, 2013

Six Years by Harlan CobenSaga by Brian K. Vaughan  Thinking Fast and Slow by Daniel KahnemanHe's Gone by Deb Caletti

What Nikki is reading, Six Years by Harlan Coben

What Matt is reading, Saga by Brian K. Vaughan

TopicAmazon buys Goodreads

Book Review, Thinking Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman
In the international bestseller, Thinking, Fast and Slow, Daniel Kahneman, the renowned psychologist and winner of the Nobel Prize in Economics, takes us on a groundbreaking tour of the mind and explains the two systems that drive the way we think. System 1 is fast, intuitive, and emotional; System 2 is slower, more deliberative, and more logical. The impact of overconfidence on corporate strategies, the difficulties of predicting what will make us happy in the future, the profound effect of cognitive biases on everything from playing the stock market to planning our next vacation—each of these can be understood only by knowing how the two systems shape our judgments and decisions.

Audio Sample, He’s Gone by Deb Caletti
“What do you think happened to your husband, Mrs. Keller?”

The Sunday morning starts like any other, aside from the slight hangover. Dani Keller wakes up on her Seattle houseboat, a headache building behind her eyes from the wine she drank at a party the night before. But on this particular Sunday morning, she’s surprised to see that her husband, Ian, is not home. As the hours pass, Dani fills her day with small things. But still, Ian does not return. Irritation shifts to worry, worry slides almost imperceptibly into panic. And then, like a relentless blackness, the terrible realization hits Dani: He’s gone.

As the police work methodically through all the logical explanations—he’s hurt, he’s run off, he’s been killed—Dani searches frantically for a clue as to whether Ian is in fact dead or alive. And, slowly, she unpacks their relationship, holding each moment up to the light: from its intense, adulterous beginning, to the grandeur of their new love, to the difficulties of forever. She examines all the sins she can—and cannot—remember. As the days pass, Dani will plumb the depths of her conscience, turning over and revealing the darkest of her secrets in order to discover the hard truth—about herself, her husband, and their lives together.

Episode #27 – March 26, 2013

NOS4A2 by Joe HillTenth of December by George SaundersTo Sell is Human by Daniel PinkZ - A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald by Therese Anne Fowler

What Nikki is reading, NOS4A2 by Joe Hill

What Matt is reading, Tenth of December by George Saunders

TopicEnd of Department Justice Lawsuit

Book Review, To Sell is Human by Daniel Pink
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, one in nine Americans works in sales. Every day more than fifteen million people earn their keep by persuading someone else to make a purchase.

But dig deeper and a startling truth emerges:

Yes, one in nine Americans works in sales. But so do the other eight.

Whether we’re employees pitching colleagues on a new idea, entrepreneurs enticing funders to invest, or parents and teachers cajoling children to study, we spend our days trying to move others. Like it or not, we’re all in sales now.

To Sell Is Human offers a fresh look at the art and science of selling. As he did in Drive and A Whole New Mind, Daniel H. Pink draws on a rich trove of social science for his counterintuitive insights. He reveals the new ABCs of moving others (it’s no longer “Always Be Closing”), explains why extraverts don’t make the best salespeople, and shows how giving people an “off-ramp” for their actions can matter more than actually changing their minds.

Along the way, Pink describes the six successors to the elevator pitch, the three rules for understanding another’s perspective, the five frames that can make your message clearer and more persuasive, and much more. The result is a perceptive and practical book–one that will change how you see the world and transform what you do at work, at school, and at home.

Audio Sample, Z – A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald by Therese Anne Fowler
When beautiful, reckless Southern belle Zelda Sayre meets F. Scott Fitzgerald at a country club dance in 1918, she is seventeen years old and he is a young army lieutenant stationed in Alabama. Before long, the “ungettable” Zelda has fallen for him despite his unsuitability: Scott isn’t wealthy or prominent or even a Southerner, and keeps insisting, absurdly, that his writing will bring him both fortune and fame. Her father is deeply unimpressed. But after Scott sells his first novel, This Side of Paradise, to Scribner’s, Zelda optimistically boards a train north, to marry him in the vestry of St. Patrick’s Cathedral and take the rest as it comes.

What comes, here at the dawn of the Jazz Age, is unimagined attention and success and celebrity that will make Scott and Zelda legends in their own time. Everyone wants to meet the dashing young author of the scandalous novel—and his witty, perhaps even more scandalous wife. Zelda bobs her hair, adopts daring new fashions, and revels in this wild new world. Each place they go becomes a playground: New York City, Long Island, Hollywood, Paris, and the French Riviera—where they join the endless party of the glamorous, sometimes doomed Lost Generation that includes Ernest Hemingway, Sara and Gerald Murphy, and Gertrude Stein.

Everything seems new and possible. Troubles, at first, seem to fade like morning mist. But not even Jay Gatsby’s parties go on forever. Who is Zelda, other than the wife of a famous—sometimes infamous—husband? How can she forge her own identity while fighting her demons and Scott’s, too? With brilliant insight and imagination, Therese Anne Fowler brings us Zelda’s irresistible story as she herself might have told it.

Episode #26 – March 8, 2013

CoverOfSnow exheroesWeLiveinWateramericanelsewhere

What Nikki is reading, Cover of Snow by Jenny Milchman

What Matt is reading, Ex-Heros by Peter Clines

TopicEnd of Department Justice Lawsuit

Book Review, We Live in Water by Jess Walter
The first collection of short fiction from New York Times bestselling author Jess Walter-a suite of diverse and searching stories about personal struggle and diminished dreams, all of them marked by the wry wit, keen eye, and generosity of spirit that has made him one of America’s most talked-about writers

We Live in Water is a darkly comic, moving collection of stories, published over the last five years in Harper’s, McSweeney’s, The Best American Short Stories, The Best American Non-Required Reading, Byliner, Playboy, and elsewhere. The stories veer from comic tales of love to social satire to suspenseful crime fiction, from hip Portland to once-hip Seattle to never-hip Spokane, from a condemned casino in Las Vegas to a bottomless lake in the dark woods of Idaho. This is a world of lost fathers and redemptive conmen, of meth tweakers on desperate odysseys and men committing suicide by fishing.

In “Thief,” an aluminum worker turns unlikely detective to solve the mystery of which of his kids is stealing from the family vacation fund. In “We Live in Water,” a lawyer returns to a corrupt North Idaho town to find the father who disappeared thirty years earlier. In “Anything Helps,” a homeless man has to “go to cardboard” to raise enough money to buy his son the new Harry Potter book. In “Virgo,” a local newspaper editor tries to get back at his superstitious ex-girlfriend by screwing with her horoscope. Also included are the stories “Don’t Eat Cat” and “Statistical Abstract of My Hometown, Spokane, Washington,” both of which achieved a cult following after publication online.

Audio Sample, American Elsewhere by Robert Jackson Bennett
Some places are too good to be true.
Under a pink moon, there is a perfect little town not found on any map.
In that town, there are quiet streets lined with pretty houses, houses that conceal the strangest things.
After a couple years of hard traveling, ex-cop Mona Bright inherits her long-dead mother’s home in Wink, New Mexico. And the closer Mona gets to her mother’s past, the more she understands that the people of Wink are very, very different …
From one of our most talented and original new literary voices comes the next great American supernatural novel: a work that explores the dark dimensions of the hometowns and the neighbors we thought we knew.

Episode #25 – February 5, 2013

The Fate of Mercy Alban by Wendy WebbAmerican Decameron by Mark DunnGood Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil GaimanThe History of Us by Leah Stewart

What Nikki is reading, The Fate of Mercy Alban by Wendy Webb

What Matt is reading, American Decameron by Mark Dunn

Topic, Fake Book Reviews

Book Review, Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman
There is a distinct hint of Armageddon in the air. According to The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch (recorded, thankfully, in 1655, before she blew up her entire village and all its inhabitants, who had gathered to watch her burn), the world will end on a Saturday. Next Saturday, in fact. So the armies of Good and Evil are amassing, the Four Bikers of the Apocalypse are revving up their mighty hogs and hitting the road, and the world’s last two remaining witch-finders are getting ready to fight the good fight, armed with awkwardly antiquated instructions and stick pins. Atlantis is rising, frogs are falling, tempers are flaring. . . . Right. Everything appears to be going according to Divine Plan.

Except that a somewhat fussy angel and a fast-living demon — each of whom has lived among Earth’s mortals for many millennia and has grown rather fond of the lifestyle — are not particularly looking forward to the coming Rapture. If Crowley and Aziraphale are going to stop it from happening, they’ve got to find and kill the Antichrist (which is a shame, as he’s a really nice kid). There’s just one glitch: someone seems to have misplaced him. . . .

First published in 1990, Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett’s brilliantly dark and screamingly funny take on humankind’s final judgment is back — and just in time — in a new hardcover edition (which includes an introduction by the authors, comments by each about the other, and answers to some still-burning questions about their wildly popular collaborative effort) that the devout and the damned alike will surely cherish until the end of all things

Audio Sample, The History of Us by Leah Stewart
Nearly two decades have passed since Eloise Hempel gave up her dream job teaching at Harvard University to return to her hometown of Cincinnati to care for her orphaned nieces and nephew. Now, with Theo, Josh, and Claire grown, she dreams of selling the family house, perhaps even returning to the life she left behind. But when her mother decides not to let Eloise sell the house—and instead promises it to the family member “who needs it most”—unforeseen consequences and revelations threaten to unravel their makeshift family.

Episode #24 – January 25, 2013

American Elsewhere by Robert Jackson BennettThe Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel JoyceThe Death of Bees by Lisa O'DonnellThe Madman's Daughter by Megan Shepherd

What Nikki is reading, American Elsewhere by Robert Jackson Bennett

What Matt is reading, The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce

Topic, Fake Book Reviews

Book Review, Death of Bees by Lisa O’Donnell

Today is Christmas Eve.
Today is my birthday.
Today I am fifteen.
Today I buried my parents in the backyard.
Neither of them were beloved.

Marnie and her little sister, Nelly, are on their own now. Only they know what happened to their parents, Izzy and Gene, and they aren’t telling. While life in Glasgow’s Maryhill housing estate isn’t grand, the girls do have each other. Besides, it’s only a year until Marnie will be considered an adult and can legally take care of them both.

As the New Year comes and goes, Lennie, the old man next door, realizes that his young neighbors are alone and need his help. Or does he need theirs? Lennie takes them in—feeds them, clothes them, protects them—and something like a family forms. But soon enough, the sisters’ friends, their teachers, and the authorities start asking tougher questions. As one lie leads to another, dark secrets about the girls’ family surface, creating complications that threaten to tear them apart.

Written with fierce sympathy and beautiful precision, told in alternating voices, The Death of Bees is an enchanting, grimly comic tale of three lost souls who, unable to answer for themselves, can answer only for one another.

Audio Sample, The Madman’s Daughter by Megan Shepherd

​Sixteen-year-old Juliet Moreau has built a life for herself in London—working as a maid and trying to forget the scandal that ruined her life. After all, no one ever proved the rumors about her father’s gruesome experiments. But when she learns he’s alive and continuing his work on a remote tropical island, she’s determined to find out if the accusations were true.

Accompanied by her father’s handsome young assistant, Montgomery, and an enigmatic castaway, Edward, Juliet travels to the island, only to discover the secret of her father’s new life: he experiments on animals so that they resemble, speak, and behave as humans. Torn between horror and scientific curiosity, Juliet knows she must end her father’s dangerous experiments and escape her jungle prison before it’s too late. Yet as the island falls into chaos, she discovers the extent of her father’s genius—and madness—in her own blood.

Inspired by H.G. Wells’s classic The Island of Doctor Moreau, The Madman’s Daughter is a dark and breathless Gothic thriller about the secrets we’ll do anything to know and the truths we’ll go to any lengths to protect.

Episode #23 – December 15, 2012

The Passage by Justin CroninMystic Bridge by Janis Bogue and William KellerHeads in Beds by Jacob TomskyNearly Departed in Deadwood by Ann Charles

What Nikki is reading, The Passage by Justin Cronin

What Matt is reading, Mystic Bridge by Janis Bogue and William Keller.

TopicPublishing Houses Merging

Book Review, Heads in Beds by Jacob Tomsky
Jacob Tomsky has worked in hotels for more than a decade, doing everything from valet parking to manning the front desk. He’s checked you in, checked you out, separated your white panties from the white bed sheets, tasted your room service, cleaned your toilet, denied you a late check out, laughed at your jokes, and taken your money. And in Heads in Beds, he pulls back the curtain on the hospitality business, revealing the crazy yet compelling reality of an industry we think we know. Prepare to be amused, shocked, and amazed as he spills the unwritten code of the bellhops, the antics that go on the valet parking garage, and the housekeeping department’s dirty little secrets.

Heads in Beds is more than just a memoir. Jake explains the secrets of the industry, offering easy and legal ways to get what you need from your hotel without any hassle—from scoring late check-ins and upgrades to getting that pay-per-view charge knocked off your bill. This book will give you the knowledge you need to get the very best service from any hotel or property, from any business that makes its money from putting heads in beds. Or, at the very least, it will keep the bellhops from taking your luggage into the camera-free back office and stomping the hell out of it.

Audio Sample, Nearly Departed in Deadwood by Ann Charles
Little girls are vanishing from Deadwood, South Dakota. Fearing her daughter might be next, single mom, Violet Parker, is desperate to find the monster behind the abductions. With her savings dwindling and just three weeks left to sell her first house or lose her Realtor job, Violet is ecstatic when a handsome jeweler hires her to sell his century-old, Victorian masterpiece, until she sees the dilapidated dwelling. Now, if she could just convince her only buyer to stop rejecting vintage homes as if they’re haunted. Short on time and long on worry, she refuses to give up her dream of a fresh start in Deadwood. But with a malicious coworker trying to get her fired, a secret admirer sending her creepy messages, and a sexy stranger hiding skeletons in his closet, will Violet end up as one of Deadwood’s dearly departed?

Episode #22 – November 15, 2012

What Nikki is reading, The Elephant Keeper’s Children by Peter Hoeg

What Matt is reading, Ashes by Ilsa J Bick

Topic, World Book Night

Book Review, The Zero by Jess Walter
From its opening pages—when hero cop Brian Remy wakes up to find he’s shot himself in the head—novelist Jess Walter takes us on a harrowing tour of a city and a country shuddering through the aftershocks of a devastating terrorist attack. As the smoke slowly clears, Remy finds that his memory is skipping, lurching between moments of lucidity and days when he doesn’t seem to be living his own life at all. The landscape around him is at once fractured and oddly familiar: a world dominated by a Machiavellian mayor known as “The Boss,” and peopled by gawking celebrities, anguished policemen peddling First Responder cereal, and pink real estate divas hyping the spoils of tragedy. Remy himself has a new girlfriend he doesn’t know, a son who pretends he’s dead, and an unsettling new job chasing a trail of paper scraps for a shadowy intelligence agency known as the Department of Documentation. Whether that trail will lead Remy to an elusive terror cell—or send him circling back to himself—is only one of the questions posed by this provocative yet deeply human novel.

Audio Sample, Rage Within by Jeyn Roberts
Aries, Clementine, Mason and Michael have survived the first wave of the apocalypse that wiped out most of the world’s population, and turned many of the rest into murderous Baggers. Now, they’re hiding out in an abandoned house in Vancouver with a ragtag group of surviving teens, and trying to figure out their next move.

Aries is trying to lead, but it’s hard to be a leader when there are no easy answers, and every move feels wrong. Clementine is desperate to find her brother Heath, but it’s impossible to know where he’d be, even if he is still alive. Michael is still haunted by the memories of his actions during his harrowing struggle to survive. And Mason is struggling with something far worse: the fear that he may be a danger to his friends.
As the Baggers begin to create a new world order, Aries, Clementine, Mason and Michael will have to trust and rely on each other in order to survive

Episode #21 –  November 8, 2012

What Nikki is reading, The One I Left Behind by Jennifer McMahon 

What Matt is reading, The Black Count by Tom Reiss

Featured Author InterviewLauren Oliver – The Spindlers

Book Review, Lamb by Chirstopher Moore
The birth of Jesus has been well chronicled, as have his glorious teachings, acts, and divine sacrifice after his thirtieth birthday. But no one knows about the early life of the Son of God, the missing years — except Biff, the Messiahs best bud, who has been resurrected to tell the story in the divinely hilarious yet heartfelt work “reminiscent of Vonnegut and Douglas Adams” (Philadelphia Inquirer).
Verily, the story Biff has to tell is a miraculous one, filled with remarkable journeys, magic, healings, kung fu, corpse reanimations, demons, and hot babes. Even the considerable wiles and devotion of the Saviors pal may not be enough to divert Joshua from his tragic destiny. But theres no one who loves Josh more — except maybe “Maggie,” Mary of Magdala — and Biff isnt about to let his extraordinary pal suffer and ascend without a fight.

Audio Sample, Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness by Susannah Cahalan
At first, there’s just darkness and silence.
“Are my eyes open? Hello?”
I can’t tell if I’m moving my mouth or if there’s even anyone to ask. It’s too dark to see. I blink once, twice, three times. There is a dull foreboding in the pit of my stomach. That, I recognize. My thoughts translate only slowly into language, as if emerging from a pot of molasses. Word by word the questions come: Where am I? Why does my scalp itch? Where is everyone? Then the world around me comes gradually into view, beginning as a pinhole, its diameter steadily expanding. Objects emerge from the murk and sharpen into focus.
I know immediately that I need to get out of here.

Episode #20 –  October 17, 2012

What Nikki is reading, Hyde by Lauren Stewart

What Matt is reading, Morning Glories by Nick Spencer and Joe Eisma

Featured Author InterviewPeter Geye – The Lighthouse Road

Book Review, Moonwalking with Einstein by Joshua Foer
Moonwalking with Einstein recounts Joshua Foer’s yearlong quest to improve his memory under the tutelage of top “mental athletes.” He draws on cutting-edge research, a surprising cultural history of remembering, and venerable tricks of the mentalist’s trade to transform our understanding of human memory. From the United States Memory Championship to deep within the author’s own mind, Moonwalking with Einstein reminds us that, in every way that matters, we are the sum of our memories.

Audio Sample, Wild Girls by Mary Stewart Atwell 
Kate Riordan fears two things as she grows up in the small Appalachian town of Swan River: that she’ll be a frustrated townie forever or that she’ll turn into one of the mysterious and terrifying wild girls, killers who start fires and menace the community. Struggling to better her chances of escaping, Kate attends the posh Swan River Academy and finds herself divided between her hometown—and its dark history—and the realm of privilege and achievement at the Academy. Explosive friendships with Mason, a boy from the wrong side of town, and Willow, a wealthy and popular queen bee from school, are slowly pulling her apart. Kate must decide who she is and where she belongs before she wakes up with cinders at her fingertips.

Episode #19 –  September 28, 2012

What Nikki is reading, In The Woods – Tana French

What Matt is reading, The Dog Stars – Peter Heller

Book Review, The Bartender’s Tale – Ivan Doig
The Bartender’s Tale is the story of a father and son left on their own in a shifting world–a tale in itself as old as kinship, but ever new in the way “the bachelor saloonkeeper with a streak of frost in his black pompadour and the inquisitive 11year-old boy who had been an accident between the sheets” go about life in the small Montana town of Gros Ventre in 1960.

Tom Harry, the nonpariel bartender and proprietor of the “nearly holy oasis,” the Medicine Lodge, has a past he won’t talk about and a habit of sudden disappearances for a few days, which plagues his impressionable son, Rusty, as does the unexplained absence of his mother ever since he was born.  In their otherwise companionable bachelor life together, Rusty has free run of the saloon’s fantastic back room.  And in the momentous summer that is the heart of the novel, he shares this secret aperture into the often mystifying world of grownups with Zoe, the new girl down the street whose imagination outdoes even his own amid the wonders of the back of the saloon.

History, as it tends to do, arrives to these prime characters with gale force, first in the person of enthusiastic young oral historian Del Robertson and then in the shapely form of Proxy, an unforgettable taxi dancer in Tom’s earlier fabled saloon in a Fort Peck dam boomtown.  Proxy comes bearing life-changing news, of the sort that leaves Rusty and Zoe marveling at what grownups get themselves into.

Audio Sample, Red Rain – R.L. Stine
Before there was J.K. Rowling, before there was Stephenie Meyer or Suzanne Collins, there was R.L. Stine. Witty, creepy, and compulsively readable, he defined horror for a generation of young readers—readers who have now come of age.

Travel writer Lea Sutter finds herself on a small island off the coast of South Carolina, the wrong place at the wrong time. A merciless, unanticipated hurricane cuts a path of destruction and Lea barely escapes with her life. In the storm’s aftermath, she discovers orphaned twin boys and impulsively decides to adopt them. The boys, Samuel and Daniel, seem amiable and immensely grateful; Lea’s family back on Long Island—husband Mark and their two children, Ira and Elena—aren’t quite so pleased. But even they can’t anticipate the twins’ true nature—or predict that, within a few weeks’ time, Mark will wind up implicated in two brutal murders, with the police narrowing in.

For the millions of readers who grew up on Goosebumps, and for every fan of deviously inventive horror, this is a must-read from a beloved master of the genre.

Episode #18 –  September 20, 2012

What Nikki is reading, And When She Was Good – Laura Lippman

What Matt is reading, The Death of Bees – Lisa O’Donnell

Featured Author InterviewBenjamin Busch – Dust to Dust, A Memoir

Book Review, The Devil All The Time by Donald Ray Pollock
Set in rural southern Ohio and West Virginia, The Devil All the Time follows a cast of compelling and bizarre characters from the end of World War II to the 1960s. There’s Willard Russell, tormented veteran of the carnage in the South Pacific, who can’t save his beautiful wife, Charlotte, from an agonizing death by cancer no matter how much sacrifi­cial blood he pours on his “prayer log.” There’s Carl and Sandy Henderson, a husband-and-wife team of serial kill­ers, who troll America’s highways searching for suitable models to photograph and exterminate. There’s the spider-handling preacher Roy and his crippled virtuoso-guitar-playing sidekick, Theodore, running from the law. And caught in the middle of all this is Arvin Eugene Russell, Willard and Charlotte’s orphaned son, who grows up to be a good but also violent man in his own right.

Audio Sample, The Spindlers by Lauren Oliver
When Liza’s younger brother Patrick’s soul is stolen by the evil Spindlers, spider-like creatures who live underground, she knows she must set out on a heroic quest to the world below to rescue it.

Episode #17 –  September 5, 2012

What Nikki is reading, Freak – Jennifer Hillier

What Matt is reading, The Uninvited – Liz Jensen

Featured Author Interview, Aaron Stander – Cruelest Month

Book Review, Child 44 – Tom Rob Smith
Stalin’s Soviet Union strives to be a paradise for its workers, providing for all of their needs. One of its fundamental pillars is that its citizens live free from the fear of ordinary crime and criminals.

But in this society, millions do live in fear . . . of the State. Death is a whisper away. The mere suspicion of ideological disloyalty—owning a book from the decadent West, the wrong word at the wrong time—sends millions of innocents into the Gulags or to their executions. Defending the system from its citizens is the MGB, the State Security Force. And no MGB officer is more courageous, conscientious, or idealistic than Leo Demidov.

A war hero with a beautiful wife, Leo lives in relative luxury in Moscow, even providing a decent apartment for his parents. His only ambition has been to serve his country. For this greater good, he has arrested and interrogated.

Then the impossible happens. A different kind of criminal—a murderer—is on the loose, killing at will. At the same time, Leo finds himself demoted and denounced by his enemies, his world turned upside down, and every belief he’s ever held shattered. The only way to save his life and the lives of his family is to uncover this criminal. But in a society that is officially paradise, it’s a crime against the State to suggest that a murderer—much less a serial killer—is in their midst. Exiled from his home, with only his wife, Raisa, remaining at his side, Leo must confront the vast resources and reach of the MBG to find and stop a criminal that the State won’t admit even exists.

Audio Sample, Dare Me by Megan Abbott
Addy Hanlon and Beth Cassidy are the varsity cheerleaders all the other girls fear and admire, the unchallenged rulers of their high school kingdom. But everything changes when the new coach arrives. Cool and commanding, Coach French seems perfect in every way, a charismatic presence who overturns the girls’ established pecking order and still manages to gain their fierce allegiance in the process.

Then a shocking event upends their fragile peace, and a police investigation begins circling in on the coach and her squad. As the girls’s season moves towards its highly anticipated finale, Addy and Beth are forced to ask where their loyalties lie as they stakes grow higher, and more dangerous.

Episode #16 –  August 29, 2012

What Nikki is reading, Brain on Fire – Susannah Cahalan

What Matt is reading, The Fall of Hyperion – Dan Simmons

Featured Author InterviewAmor Towles – Rules of Civility

Book Review, 2030 – Albert Brooks
2030: THE REAL STORY OF WHAT HAPPENS TO AMERICA

Is this what’s in store?

June 12, 2030 started out like any other day in memory—and by then, memories were long. Since cancer had been cured fifteen years before, America’s population was aging rapidly. That sounds like good news, but consider this: millions of baby boomers, with a big natural predator picked off, were sucking dry benefits and resources that were never meant to hold them into their eighties and beyond. Young people around the country simmered with resentment toward “the olds” and anger at the treadmill they could never get off of just to maintain their parents’ entitlement programs.

But on that June 12th, everything changed: a massive earthquake devastated Los Angeles, and the government, always teetering on the edge of bankruptcy, was unable to respond.

Audio Sample, The Lighthouse Road – Peter Geye
In 1895 Thea Eide leaves her arctic home in Norway for a better life in America. After a harrowing journey, she arrives in Gunflint, Minnesota, expecting to find her aunt and uncle and the life she was promised. What she finds instead is an enormous wilderness and a village full of strangers. Twenty-four years later, her son, Odd, is cobbling together a life of his own. A fisherman, boatbuilder, and bootlegger, all he wants is his fair share. When he and Rebekah Grimm, a woman as much his sister as his lover, are forced to flee Gunflint in Odd’s newly built boat, they leave behind the only world Odd has ever known. Told in alternating and parallel narratives, The Lighthouse Road explores the themes of love and family and what it means to live an honest life in a suspect world.

Episode #15 –  August 22, 2012

What Nikki is reading, Zoo  – James Patterson and Michael Cosgrove

What Matt is reading, Essex County – Jeff Lemire

Featured Author Interview, Michael Cosgrove – Imperfect Passage

Book Review, The Elegant Universe – Brian Greene
In a rare blend of scientific insight and writing as elegant as the theories it explains, Greene, peels away the layers of mystery surrounding superstring theory to reveal a universe that consists of eleven dimensions, where the fabric of space tears and repairs itself, and all matter—from the smallest quarks to the most gargantuan supernovas—is generated by the vibrations of microscopically tiny loops of energy.  Greene uses examples ranging from an amusement park ride to ants on a garden hose to illustrate the beautiful yet bizarre realities that modern physics is unveiling. Unprecedented in its ability to both illuminate and entertain, The Elegant Universe is a delightful, lucid voyage through modern physics that brings us closer than ever to understanding how the universe works

Audio Sample, Proof – Jordyn Redwood
Dr. Lilly Reeves is a young, accomplished ER physician with her whole life ahead of her. But that life instantly changes when she becomes the fifth victim of a serial rapist. Believing it’s the only way to recover her reputation and secure peace for herself, Lilly sets out to find–and punish–her assailant. Sporting a mysterious tattoo and unusually colored eyes, the rapist should be easy to identify. He even leaves what police would consider solid evidence. But when Lilly believes she has found him, DNA testing clears him as a suspect. How can she prove he is guilty, if science says he is not?

Episode #14 –  August 8, 2012

What Nikki is reading, Dare Me  – Megan Abbott
What Matt is reading, The Watchers – Jon Steele

Featured Author InterviewJan-Philipp Sendker – The Art of Hearing Heartbeats 

Book Review, The Whiskey Rebels – David Liss
Lausanne, Switzerland. 

In the cathedral tower lives a strange boy with a limp who talks to the bells.  In a luxury penthouse lives a high-class prostitute who’s in mortal danger.  And in a low-rent hotel lives a private investigator who has no idea how he got there.  

Jay Harper finds himself in Switzerland working as a security consultant for Guardian Services Limited.  A hard drinker, he can barely remember how he got home last night, let alone why he accepted this job.  When he meets the stunning but aloof Katherine Taylor in a hotel bar, he realizes he’s not the only one in town who’s for hire.  She’s a high-class hooker who can’t believe her luck….which is about to change in the worst way imaginable.  In the meantime, Marc Rochat waits in the belfry, talking to the bells and his cat and his imaginary friends who come and go like ghosts.  His job is to call the hour over Lausanne through the night, and to keep watch for the lost angel his mother told him he’d one day have to save.  One night, he sees Katherine Taylor running through the streets.  She’s on the run with a pack of merciless killers closing in, she has no place to hide.  Marc Rochat knows that Katherine is the angel…and that only he can save her.

Audio Sample, Once Upon A River – Bonnie Jo Campbell
From the National Book Award and National Book Critics Circle Award finalist-an odyssey of a novel about a girl’s search for love and identity.

Bonnie Jo Campbell has created an unforgettable heroine in sixteen-year-old Margo Crane, a beauty whose unflinching gaze and uncanny ability with a rifle have not made her life any easier. After the violent death of her father, in which she is complicit, Margo takes to the Stark River in her boat, with only a few supplies and a biography of Annie Oakley, in search of her vanished mother. But the river, Margo’s childhood paradise, is a dangerous place for a young woman traveling alone, and she must be strong to survive, using her knowledge of the natural world and her ability to look unsparingly into the hearts of those around her. Her river odyssey through rural Michigan becomes a defining journey, one that leads her beyond self-preservation and to the decision of what price she is willing to pay for her choices.

Episode #13 –  August 1, 2012

What Nikki is reading, The Lighthouse Road – Peter Geye
What Matt is reading, Rules of Civility – Amor Towles

Featured Author Interview, Up Jumps The Devil – Michael Poore

Book Review, The Snow Child – Eowyn Ivy
Alaska, 1920: a brutal place to homestead, and especially tough for a couple who have never been able to conceive. Jack and Mabel are drifting apart—he breaking under the weight of the work of the farm; she crumbling from loneliness and despair. In a moment of levity during the season’s first snowfall, they build a child out of snow. The next morning the snow child is gone, but they catch sight of an elusive, blonde-haired girl running through the trees.

This little girl, who calls herself Faina, seems to be a child of the woods. She hunts with a red fox at her side, skims lightly across the snow, and leaves blizzards in her wake. As Jack and Mabel struggle to understand this child who seems to have stepped from the pages of a fairy tale, they come to love her as their own daughter. But in the Alaska wilderness, life and death are inextricable, and what they eventually learn about Faina changes their lives forever.

Audio Sample, Gold – Chris Cleave
What would you sacrifice for the people you love?
KATE AND ZOE met at nineteen when they both made the cut for the national training program in track cycling—a sport that demands intense focus, blinding exertion, and unwavering commitment. They are built to exploit the barest physical and psychological edge over equally skilled rivals, all of whom are fighting for the last one tenth of a second that separates triumph from despair.

Now at thirty-two, the women are facing their last and biggest race: the 2012 Olympics. Each wants desperately to win gold, and each has more than a medal to lose.

Kate is the more naturally gifted, but the demands of her life have a tendency to slow her down. Her eight-year-old daughter Sophie dreams of the Death Star and of battling alongside the Rebels as evil white blood cells ravage her personal galaxy—she is fighting a recurrence of the leukemia that nearly killed her three years ago. Sophie doesn’t want to stand in the way of her mum’s Olympic dreams, but each day the dark forces of the universe seem to be massing against her.

Devoted and self-sacrificing Kate knows her daughter is fragile, but at the height of her last frenzied months of training, might she be blind to the most terrible prognosis?

Intense, aloof Zoe has always hovered on the periphery of real human companionship, and her compulsive need to win at any cost has more than once threatened her friendship with Kate—and her own sanity. Will she allow her obsession, and the advantage she has over a harried, anguished mother, to sever the bond they have shared for more than a decade?

Episode #12 –  July 25, 2012

What Nikki is reading, Breed – Chase Novak
What Matt is reading, Hyperion – Dan Simmons

Book Review, The Song of Achilles – Madeline Miller
Greece in the age of Heroes. Patroclus, an awkward young prince, has been exiled to the kingdom of Phthia. Here he is nobody, just another unwanted boy living in the shadow of King Peleus and his golden son, Achilles.

Achilles, “best of all the Greeks,” is everything Patroclus is not—strong, beautiful, the child of a goddess—and by all rights their paths should never cross. Yet one day, Achilles takes the shamed prince under his wing and soon their tentative connection gives way to a steadfast friendship. As they grow into young men skilled in the arts of war and medicine, their bond blossoms into something far deeper—despite the displeasure of Achilles’ mother Thetis, a cruel sea goddess with a hatred of mortals.

Fate is never far from the heels of Achilles. When word comes that Helen of Sparta has been kidnapped, the men of Greece are called upon to lay siege to Troy in her name. Seduced by the promise of a glorious destiny, Achilles joins their cause. Torn between love and fear for his friend, Patroclus follows Achilles into war, little knowing that the years that follow will test everything they have learned, everything they hold dear. And that, before he is ready, he will be forced to surrender his friend to the hands of Fate.

Audio Sample, The Art of Hearing Heartbeats – Jan-Philipp Sendker
A poignant and inspirational love story set in Burma, The Art of Hearing Heartbeats  spans the decades between the 1950s and the present.  When a successful New York lawyer suddenly disappears without a trace, neither his wife nor his daughter Julia has any idea where he might be…until they find a love letter he wrote many years ago, to a Burmese woman they have never heard of. Intent on solving the mystery and coming to terms with her father’s past, Julia decides to travel to the village where the woman lived. There she uncovers a tale of unimaginable hardship, resilience, and passion that will reaffirm the reader’s belief in the power of love to move mountains.

Episode #11 –  July 18, 2012

What Nikki is reading, The Sandcastle Girls – Chris Bohjalian
What Matt is reading, Creole Belle – James Lee Burke

Book Review, Lamb- The Gospel According to Biff, Christ’s Childhood Pal – Christopher Moore
The birth of Jesus has been well chronicled, as have his glorious teachings, acts, and divine sacrifice after his thirtieth birthday. But no one knows about the early life of the Son of God, the missing years — except Biff, the Messiahs best bud, who has been resurrected to tell the story in the divinely hilarious yet heartfelt work “reminiscent of Vonnegut and Douglas Adams” (Philadelphia Inquirer).

Verily, the story Biff has to tell is a miraculous one, filled with remarkable journeys, magic, healings, kung fu, corpse reanimations, demons, and hot babes. Even the considerable wiles and devotion of the Saviors pal may not be enough to divert Joshua from his tragic destiny. But theres no one who loves Josh more — except maybe “Maggie,” Mary of Magdala — and Biff isnt about to let his extraordinary pal suffer and ascend without a fight.

Audio Sample, The Last Policeman – Ben H. Winters
What’s the point in solving murders if we’re all going to die soon, anyway?

Detective Hank Palace has faced this question ever since asteroid 2011GV1 hovered into view. There’s no chance left. No hope. Just six precious months until impact.

The Last Policeman presents a fascinating portrait of a pre-apocalyptic United States. The economy spirals downward while crops rot in the fields. Churches and synagogues are packed. People all over the world are walking off the job—but not Hank Palace. He’s investigating a death by hanging in a city that sees a dozen suicides every week—except this one feels suspicious, and Palace is the only cop who cares.

The first in a trilogy, The Last Policeman offers a mystery set on the brink of an apocalypse. As Palace’s investigation plays out under the shadow of 2011GV1, we’re confronted by hard questions way beyond “whodunit.” What basis does civilization rest upon? What is life worth? What would any of us do, what would we really do, if our days were numbered?

Episode #10 –  July 11, 2012

What Nikki is reading, Ransom River – Meg Gardiner
What Matt is reading, Geekomancy – Michael R. Underwood

Book Review, The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay– Michael Chabon
Joe Kavalier, a young Jewish artist who has also been trained in the art of Houdini-esque escape, has just smuggled himself out of Nazi-invaded Prague and landed in New York City. His Brooklyn cousin Sammy Clay is looking for a partner to create heroes, stories, and art for the latest novelty to hit America – the comic book. Drawing on their own fears and dreams, Kavalier and Clay create the Escapist, the Monitor, and Luna Moth, inspired by the beautiful Rosa Saks, who will become linked by powerful ties to both men. With exhilarating style and grace, Michael Chabon tells an unforgettable story about American romance and possibility

Audio Sample, Dust Girl– Sarah Zettel
Callie LeRoux has lived all her life in small town Kansas.  She thinks she knows all there is to know about herself and her mother.  But with the coming of the biggest dust storm in history, Callie finds out there is much more to her family, her history and the world outside Slow Run than she ever guessed.  Secrets and magics plunge Callie into danger with only her own nerve and the hobo boy Jack Holland to help, and Jack has his own secrets that might destroy them both…

Episode #09 –  July 5, 2012

What Nikki is reading, Proof– Jordyn Redwood
What Matt is reading, Die A Stranger – Steve Hamilton

Book Review, Lost in Shangri-La– Mitchell Zuckoff
On May 13, 1945, twenty-four officers and enlisted men and women stationed on what was then Dutch New Guinea boarded a transport plane named the Gremlin Special for a sightseeing trip over “Shangri-La,” a beautiful and mysterious valley surrounded by steep, jagged mountain peaks deep within the island’s uncharted jungle.

But the pleasure tour became an unforgettable battle for survival when the plane crashed. Miraculously, three passengers survived – WAC Corporal Margaret Hastings, Lieutenant John McCollom, and Sergeant Kenneth Decker.

Emotionally devastated, badly injured, and vulnerable to disease, parasites, and poisonous snakes in the wet jungle climate, the trio was caught between man-eating headhunters and the enemy Japanese. With nothing to sustain them but a handful of candy and their own fortitude, they endured a harrowing trek down the mountainside – straight into a primitive tribe of superstitious natives who had never before seen a white man or woman.

Lost in Shangri-La recounts this incredible true-life adventure for the first time. A riveting work of narrative nonfiction that vividly brings to life an odyssey at times terrifying, enlightening, and comic, Lost in Shangri-La is a thrill ride from beginning to end.

Audio Sample, Rules of Civility– Amor Towles
Set in New York City in 1938, Rules of Civility tells the story of a watershed year in the life of an uncompromising twenty-five-year-old named Katey Kontent. Armed with little more than a formidable intellect, a bracing wit, and her own brand of cool nerve, Katey embarks on a journey from a Wall Street secretarial pool through the upper echelons of New York society in search of a brighter future.

The story opens on New Year’s Eve in a Greenwich Village jazz bar, where Katey and her boardinghouse roommate Eve happen to meet Tinker Grey, a handsome banker with royal blue eyes and a ready smile. This chance encounter and its startling consequences cast Katey off her current course, but end up providing her unexpected access to the rarified offices of Conde Nast and a glittering new social circle. Befriended in turn by a shy, principled multimillionaire, an Upper East Side ne’er-do-well, and a single-minded widow who is ahead of her times, Katey has the chance to experience first hand the poise secured by wealth and station, but also the aspirations, envy, disloyalty, and desires that reside just below the surface. Even as she waits for circumstances to bring Tinker back into her orbit, she will learn how individual choices become the means by which life crystallizes loss.

Episode #08 –  June 27, 2012

What Nikki is reading, Into The Darkest Corner – Elizabeth Haynes
What Matt is reading, A Hologram for The King – Dave Eggers

Book Review, The River of Doubt; Theodore Roosevelt’s Darkest Journey – Candice Millard
After his humiliating election defeat in 1912, Roosevelt set his sights on the most punishing physical challenge he could find, the first descent of an unmapped, rapids-choked tributary of the Amazon. Together with his son Kermit and Brazil’s most famous explorer, Cândido Mariano da Silva Rondon, Roosevelt accomplished a feat so great that many at the time refused to believe it. In the process, he changed the map of the western hemisphere forever.

Along the way, Roosevelt and his men faced an unbelievable series of hardships, losing their canoes and supplies to punishing whitewater rapids, and enduring starvation, Indian attack, disease, drowning, and a murder within their own ranks. Three men died, and Roosevelt was brought to the brink of suicide. The River of Doubt brings alive these extraordinary events in a powerful nonfiction narrative thriller that happens to feature one of the most famous Americans who ever lived.

From the soaring beauty of the Amazon rain forest to the darkest night of Theodore Roosevelt’s life, here is Candice Millard’s dazzling debut.

Audio Sample, The Age of Miracles – Karen Thompson Walker
On a seemingly ordinary Saturday in a California suburb, Julia and her family awake to discover, along with the rest of the world, that the rotation of the earth has suddenly begun to slow. The days and nights grow longer and longer, gravity is affected, the environment is thrown into disarray. Yet as she struggles to navigate an ever-shifting landscape, Julia is also coping with the normal disasters of everyday life—the fissures in her parents’ marriage, the loss of old friends, the hopeful anguish of first love, the bizarre behavior of her grandfather who, convinced of a government conspiracy, spends his days obsessively cataloging his possessions. As Julia adjusts to the new normal, the slowing inexorably continues.

Episode #07 –  June 13, 2012

What Nikki is reading, Afterwords – Rosamund Lupton
What Matt is reading, Gone Girl – Gillian Flynn

Book Review, The Sisters Brothers – Patrick DeWitt
Hermann Kermit Warm is going to die. The enigmatic and powerful man known only as the Commodore has ordered it, and his henchmen, Eli and Charlie Sisters, will make sure of it. Though Eli doesn’t share his brother’s appetite for whiskey and killing, he’s never known anything else. But their prey isn’t an easy mark, and on the road from Oregon City to Warm’s gold-mining claim outside Sacramento, Eli begins to question what he does for a living–and whom he does it for.

Audio Sample, Ready Player One – Ernest Cline
It’s the year 2044, and the real world is an ugly place.
Like most of humanity, Wade Watts escapes his grim surroundings by spending his waking hours jacked into the OASIS, a sprawling virtual utopia that lets you be anything you want to be, a place where you can live and play and fall in love on any of ten thousand planets.
And like most of humanity, Wade dreams of being the one to discover the ultimate lottery ticket that lies concealed within this virtual world. For somewhere inside this giant networked playground, OASIS creator James Halliday has hidden a series of fiendish puzzles that will yield massive fortune—and remarkable power—to whoever can unlock them.
For years, millions have struggled fruitlessly to attain this prize, knowing only that Halliday’s riddles are based in the pop culture he loved—that of the late twentieth century. And for years, millions have found in this quest another means of escape, retreating into happy, obsessive study of Halliday’s icons. Like many of his contemporaries, Wade is as comfortable debating the finer points of John Hughes’s oeuvre, playing Pac-Man, or reciting Devo lyrics as he is scrounging power to run his OASIS rig.
And then Wade stumbles upon the first puzzle.
Suddenly the whole world is watching, and thousands of competitors join the hunt—among them certain powerful players who are willing to commit very real murder to beat Wade to this prize. Now the only way for Wade to survive and preserve everything he knows is to win. But to do so, he may have to leave behind his oh-so-perfect virtual existence and face up to life—and love—in the real world he’s always been so desperate to escape.
A world at stake.
A quest for the ultimate prize

Episode #06 –  June 6, 2012

What Nikki is reading, The Age of Miracles  – Karen Thompson Walker (TBR June 2012)

Audio Sample, Gone Girl – Gillian Flynn
Marriage can be a real killer. On a warm summer morning in North Carthage, Missouri, it is Nick and Amy’s fifth wedding anniversary. Presents are being wrapped and reservations are being made when Nick Dunne’s clever and beautiful wife disappears from their rented McMansion on the Mississippi River. Husband-of-the-Year Nick Dunne isn’t doing himself any favors with cringe-worthy daydreams about the slope and shape of his wife’s head, but hearing from Amy through flashbacks in her diary reveal the perky perfectionist could have put anyone dangerously on edge. Under mounting pressure from the police and the media—as well as Amy’s fiercely doting parents—the town golden boy parades an endless series of lies, deceits, and inappropriate behavior. Nick is oddly evasive, and he’s definitely bitter—but is he really a killer? As the cops close in, every couple in town is soon wondering how well they know the one that they love. With his twin sister Margo at his side, Nick stands by his innocence. Trouble is, if Nick didn’t do it, where is that beautiful wife? And what was left in that silvery gift box hidden in the back of her bedroom closet?

NIKKI’S SUMMER MUST READ LIST

Between the Lines – Jodi Picoult
Delilah, a loner hates school as much as she loves books—one book in particular. In fact if anyone knew how many times she has read and reread the sweet little fairy tale she found in the library, especially her cooler than cool classmates, she’d be sent to social Siberia . . . forever.To Delilah, though, this fairy tale is more than just words on the page. Sure, there’s a handsome (well, okay, incredibly handsome) prince, and a castle, and an evil villain, but it feels as if there’s something deeper going on. And one day, Delilah finds out there is. Turns out, this Prince Charming is not just a one-dimensional character in a book. He’s real, and a certain fifteen-year-old loner has caught his eye. But they’re from two different worlds, and how can it ever possibly work?

Starters – Lissa Price
In a future Los Angeles, becoming someone else is now possible. Sixteen-year-old Callie discovers the Body Bank where teens rent their bodies to seniors who want to be young again. But when her neurochip malfunctions, she wakes up in the mansion of her rich renter and finds she is going out with a senator’s grandson. It’s a fairy-tale new life, until she discovers her renter’s deadly plan.

Afterwords – Rosamund Lupton
There is a fire and they are in there. They are in there.
Black smoke stains a summer blue sky. A school is on fire. One mother, Grace, sees the smoke and runs. She knows  her teenage daughter, Jenny is inside.  She runs into the burning building to rescue her.
Afterwards, Grace must find the identity of the arsonist and protect her children from the person who’s still intent on destroying them. Afterwards, she must fight  the limits of her physical strength and discover the limitlessness of love.

The Art of Racing in the Rain – Garth Stein
A heart-wrenching but deeply funny and ultimately uplifting story of family, love, loyalty, and hope, The Art of Racing in the Rain is a beautifully crafted and captivating look at the wonders and absurdities of human life…as only a dog could tell it…

Fifty Shades of Grey – E L  James
When literature student Anastasia Steele goes to interview young entrepreneur Christian Grey, she encounters a man who is beautiful, brilliant, and intimidating. The unworldly, innocent Ana is startled to realize she wants this man and, despite his enigmatic reserve, finds she is desperate to get close to him. Unable to resist Ana’s quiet beauty, wit, and independent spirit, Grey admits he wants her, too—but on his own terms.
Shocked yet thrilled by Grey’s singular erotic tastes, Ana hesitates. For all the trappings of success—his multinational businesses, his vast wealth, his loving family—Grey is a man tormented by demons and consumed by the need to control. When the couple embarks on a daring, passionately physical affair, Ana discovers Christian Grey’s secrets and explores her own dark desires.

Watchers – Dean Koontz
From a top secret government laboratory come two genetically altered life forms. . .One is a magnificent dog of astonishing intelligence. The other, a hybrid monster of a brutally violent nature.
Both are on the loose…The explosive story of a man and a woman, caught in a relentless storm of mankind’s darkest creation.

Episode #05 –  May 30, 2012

What Nikki is reading, Perfect Match – Jodi Picoult
What Matt is reading, Up Jumps The Devil – Michael Poore

Book Review, The Zero – Jess Walter
From its opening pages—when hero cop Brian Remy wakes up to find he’s shot himself in the head—novelist Jess Walter takes us on a harrowing tour of a city and a country shuddering through the aftershocks of a devastating terrorist attack. As the smoke slowly clears, Remy finds that his memory is skipping, lurching between moments of lucidity and days when he doesn’t seem to be living his own life at all. The landscape around him is at once fractured and oddly familiar: a world dominated by a Machiavellian mayor known as “The Boss,” and peopled by gawking celebrities, anguished policemen peddling First Responder cereal, and pink real estate divas hyping the spoils of tragedy. Remy himself has a new girlfriend he doesn’t know, a son who pretends he’s dead, and an unsettling new job chasing a trail of paper scraps for a shadowy intelligence agency known as the Department of Documentation. Whether that trail will lead Remy to an elusive terror cell—or send him circling back to himself—is only one of the questions posed by this provocative yet deeply human novel.

Audio Sample, Prairie Evers– Ellen Airgood
Prairie Evers is finding that socialization isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. She’s been homeschooled by her granny and has learned the most from traipsing through nature. But now she has to attend public school, and feels just like her chickens–cooped up and subject to the pecking order. School is a jolt for Prairie until she meets Ivy, her first true friend. But while raising chickens and the great outdoors have given Prairie wisdom and perspective, nothing has prepared her for the give and take of friendship. When Prairie finds out that Ivy’s home may not be the best place for Ivy, Prairie must corral all her optimism and determination to hatch a plan to help.

Episode #04 –  May 23, 2012

What Nikki is reading, Before I Go To Sleep – S.J. Watson
What Matt is reading, Imperfect Passage – Michael Cosgrove

Book Review, Shadow Divers – Robert Kurson
In the fall of 1991, two deep wreck divers discovered a World War II German U-boat sixty miles off the coast of New Jersey. No identifying marks were visible on the submarine or the few artifacts that John Chatterton and Richie Kohler brought to the surface. No historian, expert, or government had a clue as to which U-boat the men had found. In fact, the official records all agreed that there simply could be a sunken U-boat and crew at that location. Over the next six years, an elite team of divers embarked a quest to solve the mystery

Audio Sample, White Horse – Alex Adams
The world has ended, but her journey has just begun.
Thirty-year-old Zoe leads an ordinary life until the end of the world arrives. She is cleaning cages and floors at Pope Pharmaceuticals when the president of the United States announces that human beings are no longer a viable species. When Zoe realizes that everyone she loves is disappearing, she starts running. Scared and alone in a shockingly changed world, she embarks on a remarkable journey of survival and redemption. Along the way, Zoe comes to see that humans are defined not by their genetic code, but rather by their actions and choices. White Horse offers hope for a broken world, where love can lead to the most unexpected places.

Episode #03 –  May 16, 2012

What Nikki is reading, Catch Me – Lisa Gardner
What Matt is reading, The Last Policeman – Ben H. Winters

Book Review, Turn of Mind – Alice LaPlante
“To call Turn of Mind a thriller—or a chronicle of illness, or a saga of friendship for that matter—would confine it to a genre it transcends. This is a portrait of an unstable mind, an expansive, expertly wrought imagining of memory’s failures and potential. . . . In LaPlante’s vivid prose, [Dr. White’s] waning mind proves a prism instead of a prison, her memory refracted to rich, sensual effect. There are moments of steely, surgical calm, the language tight and fractured . . . and there are moments of blooming, antic poetry. . . . LaPlante has imagined a lunatic landscape well. The twists and turns of mind this novel charts are haunting and original.” —The New York Times Book Review

Audio Sample, The Land of Decoration – Grace McCleen
A mesmerizing debut about a young girl whose steadfast belief and imagination bring everything she once held dear into treacherous balance. In Grace McCleen’s harrowing, powerful debut, she introduces an unforgettable heroine in ten-year-old Judith McPherson, a young believer who sees the world with the clear Eyes of Faith. Persecuted at school for her beliefs and struggling with her distant, devout father at home, young Judith finds solace and connection in a model in miniature of the Promised Land that she has constructed in her room from collected discarded scraps—the Land of Decoration. Where others might see rubbish, Judith sees possibility and divinity in even the strangest traces left behind. As ominous forces disrupt the peace in her and Father’s modest lives—a strike threatens her father’s factory job, and the taunting at school slips into dangerous territory—Judith makes a miracle in the Land of Decoration that solidifies her blossoming convictions. She is God’s chosen instrument. But the heady consequences of her newfound power are difficult to control and may threaten the very foundations of her world. With its intensely taut storytelling and crystalline prose, The Land of Decoration is a gripping, psychologically complex story of good and evil, belonging and isolation, which casts new and startling light on how far we’ll go to protect the things we love most.

Episode #02 –  May 9, 2012

What Nikki is reading, Sister – Rosamund Lupton
What Matt is reading, A Sense of an Ending – Julian Barnes

Book Review, Serena – Ron Rash
Award-winning and New York Times bestselling novelist Ron Rash conjures a gothic tale of greed, corruption, and revenge with a ruthless, powerful, and unforgettable woman at its heart, set amid the wilds of 1930s North Carolina and against the backdrop of America’s burgeoning environmental movement.

Audio Sample, The Skeleton Box (A Starvation Lake Mystery) – Bryan Gruley
A series of mysterious break-ins is plaguing the small town of Starvation Lake. Someone is slipping into the homes of elderly people when they’re out playing Bingo. Oddly, the intruders take nothing, despite evidence that they rifle through personal files.

Worry turns to panic when a break-in leads to the death of a beloved citizen. Phyllis Bontrager is found dead in the home of her best friend, Bea Carpenter, mother of Gus Carpenter. Bea, suffering from worsening dementia and under the influence of sleeping pills, remembers little of the break-in. Her son, editor of the local newspaper, must pursue a terrible story: the death of a woman he has known all his life, who also happens to be the mother of his ex-girlfriend, Darlene.

With the help of Luke Whistler, an ex-Detroit Free Press reporter who came north looking for slower days and some old-fashioned newspaper work, Gus sets out to uncover the truth behind Mrs. B’s death and the “Bingo Night Break-Ins.” The secrets he’s determined to unearth could forever change Gus’s perceptions about Starvation Lake and even his own family.

Episode #01 –  May 2, 2012

What Nikki is reading, The Long Walk – Stephen King
What Matt is reading, BZRK – Michael Grant

Book Review, BZRK – Michael Grant
They take the names of madmen because madness is their fate.
They descend into the tiny places, down where the mites leap and the lymphocytes ooze and the spark of human reason fires like lightning from sizzling neurons. Down in the meat. One by one they join the fight. In the macro, in the nano, in both at once, they fight for life, liberty and the inalienable right to be crazy.
BZRK is their method.
BZRK is their battle cry.
BZRK is their doom.

Audio Sample, The Lola Quartet – Emily St. John Mandel
Gavin Sasaki is a promising young journalist in New York City, until he’s fired in disgrace following a series of unforgivable lapses in his work. It’s early 2009, and the world has gone dark very quickly.  The economic collapse has turned an era that magazine headlines once heralded as the second gilded age into something that more closely resembles the Great Depression. The last thing Gavin wants to do is return to his hometown of Sebastian, Florida, but he’s in no position to refuse when he’s offered a job by his sister, Eilo, a real estate broker who deals in foreclosed homes.  Also, Eilo has shown him a photo of a ten-yearold girl who could be homeless and in trouble. The little girl looks strikingly like Gavin and has the same last name as his high school girlfriend, Anna, from a decade ago. Gavin—a former jazz musician, a reluctant broker of foreclosed properties, obsessed with film noir and private detectives and otherwise at loose ends—begins his own private investigation in an effort to track down Anna and their apparent daughter who, it turns out, have been on the run all these years.

In this transcendent third novel, Emily St. John Mandel combines her most compelling characters with a breath-taking, tension-filled story as she examines again questions of identity, the surprising pull of family, the difficulties of being the person one wants to be, guilt, and the unforeseen ways in which a small and innocent action can have disastrous consequences. The Lola Quartet is a work that pays homage to literary noir and jazz, Django Reinhardt, economic collapse, love and loss, Florida’s exotic wildlife problem, crushing tropical heat, the leavening of the contemporary world, compulsive gambling, and the unreliability of memory.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

We're All Stories

a blog about the stories I love

Robert Jackson Bennett

Speculative fiction author, science fiction and fantasy fan, accidental horror writer, Shirley Jackson Award winner.

WordServe Water Cooler

A community of agented authors encouraging, engaging, and enriching others throughout their writing journey.

Bucket List Publications

Indulge- Travel, Adventure, & New Experiences