gimmethatbook

Reviews of what you should be reading next.

Month: November 2014 (page 1 of 2)

Guest Post by Stephen Heubach, author of Strike of the Cobra

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Mr Heubach was kind enough to write this guest post for us, talking about his book:

Strike of the Cobra is based on true events. A few of the names and locations have been altered due to the story culminating in a trial at The Old Bailey. It is a thrilling tale of crime, subterfuge and drug smuggling in Britain, Turkey and Singapore.

It all began in early January at an evening of the International Boat Show at Earls Court in London. Stephen was approached by a well-dressed Mediterranean looking gentleman. He was alone on the booth, quietly closing up, the crowds had long since dispersed and his colleagues had headed to the bar. This was just the moment he had been waiting for.

He was polite and took a false interest in the five small sailing craft on show that my business partner and I had spent years perfecting. He asked if we would be interested in manufacturing our boats for a more reasonable price in his own factory in Turkey. I was sceptical but mentioned that we were actively looking for small sports/recreation boats. He said that they made just the thing and would come back to see me the following day with details.

Arranging to visit the factory was difficult; they could not accommodate Stephen for at least a month. The Turkish gentleman showed Stephen to his car at the airport, supposedly his own, but the carpets had recently been wet vacuumed;  there was condensation on the inside of the windows, only one key on the fob, no personal effects at all. Stephen was sure the Mercedes 200 was a rental, the Turkish gentleman was lying; alarm bells were already ringing. Stephen thought about getting the next plane home.

They travelled towards the factory the following morning but he would not give any detail of its location. Stephen was becoming increasingly troubled by the lack of forthcoming information, there was not even a map in the car for reference, nobody on the planet, not even Stephen knew where he was and he’d broken his mobile phone by dropping it at the airport. After 2 hours they were off onto unmade, unmarked roads. The Turkish gentlemen sensed his apprehension, and objected to his questioning, eventually telling Stephen with pride that he had kidnapped him. This did not seem ridiculous at that moment as none of the pieces seemed to fit together, Stephen’s anxiety grew.

 

Is your curiosity piqued? Want to read this true story? Click here.

Counteract by Tracy Lawson

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Many thanks to Tracy Lawson for gifting me this book in exchange for an honest review.

Careen is heading to her university class one Friday in 2034 when disaster sirens blare. There is general confusion:

A frightened crowd gathered outside the university’s student center, pressing toward the doors and shouting over the siren. Careen fought to keep her balance in the undulating mob. The shrieking siren stopped abruptly, and in the unnerving silence, phones all around her pinged with incoming messages. She dug hers out of her back pocket. 

“Campus alert. Shut up—it’s a campus alert.” The murmurs spread and seemed to calm the crowd. Hundreds of phones played the voice message in near unison, magnifying the audio so it was easily heard:

“Moments ago, the Office of Civilian Safey and Defense confirmed that a chemical weapons attack against the United States is imminent. Terrorists have released a latent cocktail of poisons into the atmosphere, where it can remain, inert, until such time as they choose to detonate it. You are directed to report to a designated distribution center in your area to receive an antidote that will protect you. Weekly allotments of this antidote will be provided free of charge for as long as the threat persists. The OSCD expects the terrorists to mount repeated attacks, so it is essential that you take the recommended daily dosage. Compliace is a small price to pay for your safety.”

Every face turned towards the cloudless, blue sky as someone’s sobs cut through the silence. 

 

This dystopian novel starts off with a threat that we can all identify with, and goes on to show that the government has outlawed almost everything that makes us free, in the name of protecting against terrorists. Careen’s father has died in a terrorist attack, and so she is particularly scared. On the other hand, Tommy, whose parents died in a car crash, is recovering from his injuries suffered in that crash and is angry. He feels alone and just wants to die. When he joins forces with Careen and learns about the Resistance, his will to live becomes stronger.

We also read about the happenings behind the scenes at the OSCD, where some employees may not be entirely loyal to the current government regime. There is a particular character that I was very sympathetic to:  Dr Trina Jacobs, whose suspicions land her into hot water. Her character was written very well, and I enjoyed how she handled herself against what the OCSD was throwing at her.

Lawson’s description of a future America, broken into quadrants so activity can be monitored better, is a chilling and plausible concept. The incarnation of the OSCD was unnerving, as the bok explained how this department gained so much power and changed the entire face of the nation. Perfect dystopian existence!  As I read, I was quite glad that I was not living in Careen and Tommy’s world.

The dialogue is well written and there is suspensful action aplenty as they discover that the government is keeping vital information from them about the terrorist attacks. Who is part of the Resistance? Who can they trust? And what’s REALLY in that antidote? The good guys and the bad guys are not obvious right away, so you have to keep turning pages to see who helps who. The ending leaves things open for the action to be picked up again in the second book (to be published in 2015).  I know I’ll be looking forward to what happens next!

Want to enjoy it the same way I did? Get it here!

Final Exam: A Surgeon’s Reflections on Mortality by Pauline W. Chen

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Final Exam was a book I picked up myself from the library. It was on my own personal reading list, which I haven’t been really able to get to these days. This is not a new book; it was published in 2007, but the ideas that Dr Chen speaks of should be relevant and in use today.

The mission of all doctors is to maintain life–by performing surgery, by prescribing medication, by encouraging life changes such as dieting or quitting smoking. But–everyone eventually dies, no matter how brilliant the surgeon was, or how much weight a patient lost. Many doctors gloss over this fact and prefer to focus on living and making a better quality of life.

Who will champion a better quality of death? No, Dr Chen is not  going to talk about euthanasia, or discuss funeral services. She is going to bring to the forefront a subject that has been assiduously avoided in human medicine for a long time: death is very much a part of life, and it should not be spoken of in hushed tones or pushed to the back of one’s mind. To truly care for your patients, you must realize that death is truly part of life.

No one wants to consider their own mortality, especially someone who is going to the hospital for an operation.  Dr Chen postulates that all doctors can give better care by embracing their own personal feelings and fears about death, and listening to what their patients are telling them, either with words or what their body is saying.

There is a great deal of explicit description in Final Exam:  of medical procedures and people struggling to die, those with sickness or those who have developed complications after surgery. Dr Chen starts out with her own personal experience with a cadaver in medical school and brings us all the way to her visceral reaction when a good friend of hers dies.

This book’s message is a powerful one, and not for the faint of heart. I thoroughly applaud Dr Chen for suggesting that doctors make themselves more emotionally available and vulnerable. Too often a patient’s death is couched in a sense of failure, of medicine gone wrong. A delicate balance needs to be attained, and I hope Dr Chen has started a dialogue by writing this book.

I loved this. You can pick up your own copy here!

Also, if you haven’t already, download the Kindle reading app here.

Antisense Giveaway Winner Selected!

18745798A winner has been selected for our giveaway of a copy of Antisense by R.P. Marshall! Congratulations, David H of Leeds, West Yorkshire! We hope you enjoy it. We surely did! The book is traveling a looooooong way to get to you.

If you entered the contest, and you didn’t win, then you can still get your hands on a copy of the book here.

Want more information? You can find our review of Antisense here!

Here’s the blurb that appears on the book:

What if you could evolve in a moment? What if you had the power to change the genetic future of your loved ones and the people they become – simply by the way you live your life? When neuroscientist Daniel Hayden’s father dies, such thoughts begin to erode his very sanity, with the growing fear that he might share a dark secret buried deep in his family’s past – a past he is about to relive. The idea only seems to gain credibility from the bizarre results coming from his own laboratory, forcing Daniel to resurrect the discredited theories of an eighteenth century naturalist in the process. Was Daniel’s fate sealed all those years ago? Has he been betrayed by his own DNA? Antisense combines literary fiction with the sharp, crisp prose and pace of the best suspense novels. The author’s insight into medical science and how it might inform the nature of human behaviour is all the more compelling because it is based on real science. It’s not a whodunit, but a whydunit. Not science fiction, but fiction with real science woven through it. A thought provoking and enigmatic work.

The Savant Of Chelsea by Suzanne Jenkins

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The blurb for this book made it sound like it was going to be all about a surgeon with a severe psychological issue, and how she interacted (or didn’t) with the outside world. The first half was great–it was dark, and scary, and heart rending; when she told her story in graphic and disturbing flashbacks of how she was abused as a child, I shook my head in disbelief. It was all downhill from there.

The fictitious surgeon in the novel is torn apart when her illegitimate baby is taken from her one day. The rest of her life is spent thinking about her and wanting to find her, but afraid to because of a threat her mother made to her. After her mother dies, she goes back to her native Louisiana and tries to find closure.

From that point on, the book deteriorated into an obsession with children and a hard to believe personality change. In the beginning, this woman didn’t speak to anyone and was unable to dress herself or interact normally…she had assistants take care of things for her. She was driven to the hospital by a car service, did surgery like an automaton, and then spent her free time jogging on the streets of NYC to keep her demons at bay. After she returned to her native state of Louisiana, and certain events occurred (can’t tell you without spoilers), she essentially became a normal person. Very hard to believe. Major personality disorders don’t just spontaneously resolve.

The story then takes on a ridiculous twist, and the ending is abrupt and eye-rollingly impossible. Well, I suppose it’s possible, but highly unlikely in the real world.

Suzanne Jenkins touts the book’s ending as something that will galvanize the reader, either it will make you think, or not. Personally, I thought the book could have been shorter, especially all the stuff that took place after her mother died, and I was highly unsatisfied how the character of the surgeon changed from an unstable and fascinating person to a boring, seemingly “cured” normal functioning woman. It seemed as if there were two books with different people melded together. The premise was so brilliant, and the story was such a waste once the plot took that turn for the worst. I really wanted to like this book. I actually almost loved it up until Alexandra returned to Louisiana. At that point, the book’s personality changed, just like the surgeon’s did.

You can get the book here! Please, tell me what you think. And if you haven’t done it already, download the Kindle reading app.

 

Antisense by R.P. Marshall (and book giveaway)

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Many thanks to the folks at Publishing Push for this book in exchange for an honest review.

It’s very hard to like any of the characters in this book. The narrator, Daniel Hayden, may be unreliable; his motives may be inscrutable. The story starts at the funeral of his father, and we can feel the awkwardness in the air as Daniel describes the scene:  I remained by the fireplace, holding onto the mantelpiece where for over an hour I had managed to avoid justifying my existence to a group of people with whom I shared little beyond a small portion of genetic material ( and for most, not even that).

Just a few moments before, a rock is thrown through the window of the room where the gathering is taking place, and the perpetrator runs away, unapprehended.  Daniel takes his leave, carrying a small box of his father’s effects,  and gets a ride to the train station from his Uncle George, his father’s brother. When he gets home his wife Jane is sitting by herself at home, with a glass of wine and an abundance of sarcasm.  We learn that their marriage is not a happy one, and their day to day conversation consists mostly of anger and condescension.  I did wonder why they were still together, as it seemed there was nothing really holding them together. The author paints a picture of a bleak childless marriage, in a holding pattern of quiet suspense,  and I believe Marshall kept the marriage intact to highlight Daniel’s sense of isolation.

Daniel is a neuroscientist, performing experiments on lab mice to see the activity of  different proteins and genes in the amygdala. He is a loner there at work also, and is frustrated by the failure of his current project,  which consists of studying aggression in rodents and seeing if certain brain secretions can make them either more or less aggressive. Results seem to be incorrect, and his bosses and grant providers are starting to suspect the worst.  A new employee named Erin catches Daniel’s eye, and he is confused by it:  The effect she was having on me was difficult to comprehend. The opportunity to learn something new about oneself tends to diminish with age, particularly as one grows accustomed to one’s shortcomings (if not oblivious to them), but she seemed to make so many things possible. 

Daniel takes a trip to Chicago to meet with some of the grant providers, and careens through the city in a kind of a fever dream–drinking , bringing a girl back to his hotel room one night, finding himself in a porno shop the next. Things go bad there and he ends up at the police station.  The way Marshall describes the scene afterwards is typical of the striking prose encountered throughout the book: A squad car returned me to the hotel sometime after one AM. The night porter ushered me into the glittering, vacant lobby where I stood shell shocked at the brightness and clarity of it all. Hotels have a nightmarish quality at that hour. their empty corridors and hushed elevators sumptuous but sterile like a last meal on death row.

Once Daniel returns back to England he remembers the box he was given at the funeral, and opens it to find a mysterious newspaper clipping. The rest of the book proceeds with him making an effort to discover the meaning of this clipping, which in turn brings him to an unwanted realization about his family, and his recent behavior in America.

I tagged this novel under suspense, but it’s not your typical suspense. It’s quiet, insidious, the kind that creeps up on you, surrounded by vapid images and bland, even dull activities: drinking, small talk, descriptions of the weather. Make no mistake: this book is written brilliantly. Even though you must read 50% of it to even GET to the crux of the matter, it hooks you and makes you wonder where all this is going. The author is a master of the uncommon sentence; his proficiency with language and his ability to turn a phrase makes Antisense one of the best books I’ve read this year.  The character of Daniel does not so much develop but is revealed, and he is an unusual protagonist; not evil enough to be hated, too vanilla to be liked. Even the ending is unobtrusive, even peaceful, though somehow mournful.

I look forward to more by RP Marshall.  Visit his website to see what his next project is! He was kind enough to provide a print copy for a book giveaway: click HERE to enter. Entries will be accepted from November 14th to November 30th –good luck!

If you are not the lucky winner, click HERE to purchase it.

Book Giveaway – Antisense by RP Marshall

 

18745798We’re giving away a copy of Antisense by RP Marshall to one lucky follower who enters our contest! There are lots of ways to enter, so please don’t be shy. Throw your hat in the ring! It’s an awesome book, and you can read the review here.

Use the box below to enter now!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Flawless by Jan Moran

I received this book from author Jan Moran in exchange for this honest interview.

Flawless is an easy, breezy type of read. Set in Beverly Hills, it oozes opulence and glitters wonderfully. The plot is fairly simple: Verena Valent, head of a family owned skincare company, is dealing with money problems. The economy is not what it was, and her big launch in Asia is threatened. Her boyfriend Derrick is pushing her to sell the company, but Verena’s family ties are too strong for this to be an easy decision. To top it all off, she is starting to develop feelings for a man she just met: Lance, the executive chef of the Beverly Hills Hotel. She wants to stay loyal to Derrick, but his actions are pushing her away. As money gets tighter, her family and friends cannot give her all the answers she seeks. Only Verena can be the master of her own destiny. Can she save her beloved company from the sharks?

This book made me feel as if I were sitting along Verena in the boardroom, in the spa, on a jet, and in Paris. Each detail is accurate and adds to the luxury of the story. In fact, if I knew more about the skincare world, I might think this book could be a roman a clef. It’s that authentic.

Verena Valent is a strong woman, even is she is unsure of what she wants, or needs. Her loyalty to her family is strong and refreshing. There is just enough romance in the book to add that warm feeling without overpowering the plot or reality….and what woman wouldn’t want a guy like Lance?!

The bad guys hold the purse strings, and there is a good deal of merger/acquisition/banking talk going on–but not so much that it bogs you down. This book will  appeal to those who want romance, and those who want to read a twisty plot with some thorny intellectual problems to solve.

The character’s attitudes are not entitled or exclusionary; rather, they are real and understandable. Granted, most of us don’t have million dollar companies, but Verena and her grandmother are easy to identify with and root for, as you turn the pages and hope that their financial worries will be rectified. No spoilers here; but the ending was satisfying and left the door open for many different paths for Verena’s life to take.

Jan Moran is an expert in the beauty field, and it shows here in Flawless.  I would definitely read book two of the Hostile Beauty series, just to see what Verena and her friends have accomplished. Want your own copy? You can pick it up here.

Also, if you haven’t already, download the Kindle reading app here.

Blue Labyrinth giveaway WINNERS!!

Conratulations to our lucky winners!!!!!

Roberta M and Heather Lee R. :    You will both be receiving a copy of Blue Labyrinth by Preston & Child, courtesy of Grand Central Publishing.

Thanks to all who entered! We will continue to offer giveaways on a regular basis, so stay tuned for more FREE books!

EXCLUSIVE interview with Lincoln Child and Douglas Preston

 

Recently I had the pleasure of doing an interview with these renowned authors via email. Many thanks to Sonya at  Grand Central Publishing for making this possible, and unlimited thanks to the authors for taking the time to answer these questions! We’re still giving away two copies of Blue Labyrinth, but only until midnight! Enter while you still can!

Lincoln Child, answering for both himself and Doug Preston:

gimmethatbook:  As always, Blue Labyrinth has unusual weaponry and a most unique location to further the story. How did you decide to use the Salton Sea? Have either of you been there, or did you visit there to get better background, and see what the place was like for yourself?

Lincoln Child:  I have an aunt that lives in Borrego Springs, not far from the Salton Sea. I have visited the place and found it both evocative and eerie. Doug and I prefer to situate our books in places that one or the other of us knows, so in that way we were lucky not to have tapped the Salton Sea before.

 

GTB:  Your characters are diverse, and each of them have their own special “voice”. As a writer, you have to become your characters.  Is there a character whose mind is difficult for you to consistently penetrate?

LC:  I think both of us have trouble penetrating Agent Pendergast’s thought processes. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, though, because we prefer to write him from a distance, as it were. It seems to work better when neither the reader nor ourselves know too much about what he’s thinking.

 

GTB:  Many authors have a Twitter page to connect with readers. You have a FaceBook but not Twitter. Any particular reason for this?

LC:  We just haven’t had a chance to get into it. That’s nothing against the service–it just shows we’re a bit behind the times in that particular way.

 

GTB:  Finally, what is the one question you wish interviewers would ask you, but never do?

LC:  How’s this for an answer: the very question you have just put before us!

 

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