Thursday, May 26, 2011

Follow Friday

Question of the week:

How many books do you read in a week? How many and in what format?

My answer:

I read physical books and e-books. I used to listen to more audio books, but have recently switched back to music. About five a week is my normal average. This week I have done a bit less because of my new job as a music reviewer. If I ever don't fall asleep clutching a book or my iPad, it is a strange event.

I Am Not A Serial Killer by Dan Wells

John Wayne Cleaver is dangerous, and he knows it.

He’s spent his life doing his best not to live up to his potential.

He’s obsessed with serial killers, but really doesn’t want to become one. So for his own sake, and the safety of those around him, he lives by rigid rules he’s written for himself, practicing normal life as if it were a private religion that could save him from damnation.

Dead bodies are normal to John. He likes them, actually. They don’t demand or expect the empathy he’s unable to offer. Perhaps that’s what gives him the objectivity to recognize that there’s something different about the body the police have just found behind the Wash-n-Dry Laundromat---and to appreciate what that difference means.

Now, for the first time, John has to confront a danger outside himself, a threat he can’t control, a menace to everything and everyone he would love, if only he could.

Dan Wells’s debut novel is the first volume of a trilogy that will keep you awake and then haunt your dreams.


When I first started reading this book, I was expecting a teenage Dexter like character. To some degree, John was, but there was also an added paranormal aspect to the story that I was totally not expecting. It threw me off, but I did enjoy the book. John Cleaver is a great character who is trying to tame his inner demons and for the most part doing a good job.

4/5 for this one. I am looking forward to reading the rest of the series. I had bought this book for my nook when it first came out, but recently was sent a copy of each of the three books in the series to review by the publisher. Stay tuned for future reviews.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

The Long Drive Home: Review and Blog Tour

This book was very different from some of the books I am used to, but it grabbed me from the first page and I literally could not put it down. I had to see what happened.

We all drive. We all see the idiots on the road that are doing anything but pay attention to what they are supposed to be doing. They are playing with their cell phone or putting on makeup, or fumbling with a hamburger in the next seat over. Some of us might even be guilty of said infractions. What about road rage at the people who are doing those things or worse? What then? What happens, though, when you take a moment in time and act in a way that you know is going to go badly? The world as you know it could be over. That is what happens to Glen Bauer in Will Allison's The Long Drive Home.

While driving his daughter home from school, Glen encounters a teenage motorist that is wildly out of control and another driver with a gun. Both of these men will change his life, but not in the way you would ever suspect.

This book could very easily be about the small choices we make every day and how one wrong move can destroy the very fabric of our lives. I found myself wanting to go hug my husband and my furry kids closer as I read the train wreck of what Glen's life would become. Choices that you make behind a wheel matter. They could cost you everything.

A Conversation with Will Allison

Author of LONG DRIVE HOME: A Novel

(Free Press; May 17, 2011)

1.  Your first novel, What You Have Left, has three viewpoint characters and moves back and forth in time. Long Drive Home has one viewpoint character and proceeds, for the most part, chronologically. Did you make a decision at the outset to structure this novel differently?          

I did. I wanted to write a book with a strong sense of tension and narrative momentum—more of page-turner—but one that’s still character-based, where plot is a function of character and not vice versa.

2.  When you were executive editor of Story magazine, thousand of submissions must have crossed your desk. How did your editorial work influence your writing?      

Reading through the submissions—we averaged about 50 a day—I was constantly reminded of the importance of 1) giving the reader a reason to care, and 2) keeping the story moving. I write with an acute awareness that readers have a lot of other things they could be doing besides reading my book.

3.  Where did the idea for the novel come from?

I live in New Jersey, in a quiet neighborhood much like the one described in the book—lots of kids, joggers, people walking their dogs. One morning a few years ago, I went out to get the newspaper. A car came flying down the street, going probably twice the speed limit. I remember picking up the paper and thinking I’d like to chuck it at the guy’s windshield, give him a scare. Then I thought, “You’re an idiot, Will. You could kill someone.” Then I thought, “But what if no one saw?” That was the seed of the story.

4.  Is the book autobiographical?

No. The circumstances of Glen’s life are similar to my own—I work at home; my wife works in the city; we have a young daughter; we moved here from the Midwest; etc.—but the characters and plot are wholly invented.

5.  Has your daughter read the book?

No. She’s only nine. Some of the language isn’t appropriate. Also, I’d hate for her to conflate me with Glen. She knows what the book is about, though. On the way to and from school, when I was writing it, she’d ask what part of the story I was working on. She gave me a lot of input. She still thinks Sara’s name should have been spelled “Sarah.”

6.  Is the traffic in New Jersey really as bad as Glen says?          

It seemed pretty bad to me, coming from the Midwest. I did some research when I started the book. New Jersey is the nation’s most congested state and has the highest pedestrian fatality rate. A 2006 study found that northern New Jersey has four of the ten most dangerous American cities to drive in—all within fifteen miles of where the story takes place. And a 2008 study ranked New Jersey drivers dead last in their knowledge of basic safety and traffic laws.

7.  Was the accident investigation based on a real case?

No, but I did get a lot of help from Detective Arnold Anderson, who recently retired from the Essex County Prosecutors Fatal Accident Unit. Andy read an early draft of the book and very patiently answered my questions. I remember being nervous when I first got in touch with him and said I was writing a book about a guy who tries to cover up his involvement in an accident. I thought Andy might think that’s what I was doing. He told me later that, yes, he did check up on me after that first phone call, to make sure I was really a writer.

8.  Was there any kind of moral you were aiming to impart in Long Drive Home?

I was very interested in the moral implications of Glen’s actions, particularly how he justified—and was later affected by—doing things he himself believed to be morally wrong. But no, I intended no moral lesson for the reader, only moral questions.


9.  How much compassion do you expect the reader to show Glen?

Obviously, Glen makes some terrible mistakes. But I do hope readers will put themselves in his shoes. That’s why I chose to tell the story from his viewpoint. If the story had been told from Rizzo’s or Tawana’s viewpoint, Glen might have come off as a clear-cut villain. That to me would have been less interesting.

10.  What’s next for you?

Another novel, one that may or may not revisit the characters in Long Drive Home.

I am giving this book a 5/5 rating. The publisher sent me a copy to review for the blog tour in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Dead Reckoning:Review

With her knack for being in trouble's way, Sookie witnesses the firebombing of Merlotte's, the bar where she works. Since Sam Merlotte is now known to be two-natured, suspicion falls immediately on the anti-shifters in the area. Sookie suspects otherwise, but her attention is divided when she realizes that her lover Eric Northman and his "child" Pam are plotting to kill the vampire who is now their master. Gradually, Sookie is drawn into the plot-which is much more complicated than she knows...

My thoughts:

I have always been a fan of the Sookie books and I was very pleased with this novel. It was one of two books I wanted for my birthday. Excellent read. I got it on my Nookcolor and was immensely pleased.

Giving this book a 5 out of 5 was easy. It brings all of the quirkiness of the Southern Vampire series cast of characters and we find Sookie deep in the midst of fae and vampire politics with never a dull moment in between. I am not one for spoilers, so I won't say anything else. Thumbs up!