gimmethatbook

Reviews of what you should be reading next.

Month: January 2016

Q&A with Eric Matheny, author of THE VICTIM

The Victim Book Cover

In the spring of 2003 on a desolate stretch of Arizona highway, Anton Mackey’s life is changed forever.  A reckless decision to get behind the wheel when he was in no condition to drive spawned a moment that threatened to destroy everything the 21 year-old had spent his life working toward.  With the sun rising over the mountains and the inevitable onslaught of morning traffic that would make the highway less desolate, Anton made a decision to save himself; a decision that claimed the lives of two people.  Eleven years later, Anton is a rising star in the Miami criminal defense community. He is married and has an infant daughter.  He is earning a good living and steadily building a name for himself as an aggressive advocate for the accused.  Anton shares an office with veteran defense attorney, Jack Savarese.  A mentor of sorts, Anton strives to model his practice – and career – after Jack’s.  A Miami criminal defense legend, Jack’s accomplishments in the courtroom are second to none.  However, Jack remains burdened by a loss, a mentally-ill client from ten years earlier found guilty and sentenced to life in prison for the death of a troubled teen.

    When Daniella Avery, the beautiful wife of a man accused of a heinous act of domestic violence, comes into Anton’s office seeking his services, Anton thinks he’s landed a great case with a great fee.  But when he succumbs to temptation, he realizes that Daniella is a figure from his past.     Anton finds himself caught between the possibility of being exposed and the fact that his client – Daniella’s husband – may be an innocent pawn in the victim’s attempt to carry out her revenge against Anton.  As Anton struggles to balance defending his client while concealing the secret he has sought to forget, he uncovers the truth behind what really happened on that highway eleven years earlier.  The truth that may be connected to the conviction of an innocent man.

 

Many thanks to Book Publicity Services for introducing us to this author! This post contains an excerpt from Matheny’s new book, THE VICTIM, and a Q&A with the author.

Eric Matheny is a criminal defense attorney who enjoys writing crime fiction, drawing from his experience working in the legal system. He has handled everything from DUI to murder. His latest novel The Victim was released on August 13, 2015, published by Zharmae.

If you are a fan of John Grisham, David Baldacci, and Harlan Coben, this may be your kind of novel.

THE VICTIM is a tense, fast-paced, legal thriller/psychological suspense novel that centers around a young defense attorney whose horrifying misdeed from his college days comes back to haunt him.


March 16, 2003 – Payson, Arizona

He thought he was dead.

Steam hissed from the crumpled front end of the RV that had folded accordion-style against the guardrail. His face stung from the punch of the airbag. His lungs burned from that awful talcum powder that drifted through the cabin as the bag deflated. The chemical dust, suspended in the air, seemed to be frozen in time.

His nose was numb and swollen. He tasted blood trickling down the back of his throat like a cocaine drip. He peered through the cracked windshield, his eyes adjusting to the reddish glow of a desert sunrise. The crushed-in hood had jarred upward. The chassis was off balance. The whole vehicle wobbled as he shifted his weight in his seat.

Oh my God.

He cranked the door handle and heaved his shoulder into it to pop it off the jamb. He hopped down onto the highway. The winds were heavy and dry, rustling the sage and scrub oaks that dotted the rugged landscape along the Beeline Highway. A sliver of fiery light barely illuminated the peaks of the Mazatal Mountains, which rose and fell against the horizon. Giant saguaros stood like sentries.

The back half of a red two-door sedan lay beneath the shredded front tires of the RV. Flattened like an aluminum can. On impact the RV must have bucked forward, rolling up onto the rear bumper of the smaller car, coming to rest on its roof. The significant weight of the RV crushed the sedan into something you might see stacked in a junkyard.

The highway was quiet. Just the rush of hot wind crackling the delicate spines of the sagebrush. He got his bearings quickly, the initial shock of the crash having passed. A sobering experience. Literally. Half a handle of Jack Daniels coursing through his veins had been replaced by something stronger.

Panic.

He saw long hair, a young female’s. How he could tell her age by the back of her head, he would never know. Maybe by its length and sheen—bright, yellow-blond. Slick with blood. Her forehead propped on the steering wheel. The driver-side window blown out. The windshield was a shattered web.

The man beside her—or boy, he was arguably young—was out cold, his body positioned in the passenger’s seat in a gimpy, off-kilter fashion. The passenger side had been thrust into the guardrail, which molded itself to the frame of the car. His head lolled against the door. Blood leaked from his ear and ran down his neck.

“Are you okay?” he screamed, although he knew he would get no reply. His voice resonated throughout the valley. “Hello?”

He braced himself against the ruined front end of the RV. He felt a surge of bile and whiskey come up in the back of his throat. He heaved forward but held it in. He was lightheaded.

Oh God, please let this be a dream. Oh God, please…this can’t be happening, this can’t be happening. This isn’t happening. This isn’t happening…


q&a graphic

1. Who was your favorite character in THE VICTIM, and why?

Jack Savarese. He reminds me a bit of my grandfather. Also, in a story with so many flawed characters, he was truly a good person and a father figure to Anton when he desperately needed one.

2. Which character was the hardest to write?

Daniella, by far. Creating a character as cunning and complex as she was was a challenge. I had to delve into the darkest parts of my mind to create her devious authenticity.
3. With all your experience dealing with the justice system in Florida,
would you say truth is stranger than fiction? Can you elaborate on an
unusual case of yours?

Truth is always stranger than fiction. I had a case involving a Gypsy woman who befriending a drug addict and began doing palm readings for her. Through this process, the Gypsy woman managed to convince this drug addict to give her all of her possessions.

4. What did you do to celebrate once your book was published?

Can’t recall exactly. I think the celebration was short-lived because the real work of getting the book edited began shortly after learning that it would be published.
5. Describe your writing routine; where do you work, any particular time
of day, do you listen to music?

I write at my desk during my work day. I try to hit 2000 words per day, and I can hit this in one shot during a slow day, or in little 400-500 word spurts throughout the day if I am busy. I also take down notes if I get an idea or some dialogue during the day. I try not to listen to music, too distracting.

6. Fill in the blank: If I had a million dollars, I would ___________.

Be debt free with hopefully enough left over to buy an Aston Martin.

7. Who is your favorite author?

John Grisham. He is the master of the legal thriller and a tremendous source of inspiration.
8. Do you have another book in the works? Will we see more of Anton
Mackey?

I am working on something. Whether Mackey comes back has yet to be determined.

 

mathenyVisit Eric Matheny’s website ! Want your own copy of THE VICTIM? You can pick it up here.

A North Shore Story by Dean Economos and Alyssa Machinis

a_north_shore_story copy

For the teenagers of Chicago’s North Shore, everyone has something to hide.

In a daring attempt to impress the elusive Sophia, Michael makes the biggest decision of his life, stealing over a hundred thousand dollars from St. Theodore Community Church. That same night, Nichole’s insecurities are finally forgotten with a drug she soon won’t be able to control.
When Michael makes his getaway, he sees his friend Joseph cheat on his girlfriend with the priest’s daughter and knock over a candle that sets the church ablaze.
As the consequences of that night unfold, Joseph is blamed for the fire and the missing money. Can the teenagers of the North Shoreconfess their vices to help their friend? Or will their greed, infidelity and  jealousy change all their lives forever?

Thanks to PR By The Book for putting me in touch with the authors! We did a Q&A session about their debut novel, A NORTH SHORE STORY.

 

Dean Economos

dean

Give us some background, what did you do before writing this book? I went to college at Loyola University Chicago and received my undergrad in Biology and a minor in Biostatistics. I then went on to receive my M.B.A. from Loyola’s Quinlan School of Business with a concentration in Entrepreneurship.

What were the events that inspired the book? The book was inspired by different experiences growing up. Those key events and experiences were then intertwined with the more current events of our church’s media coverage.

Some parts of your book are things you actually experienced, they must have stuck with you for you to want to write about them years later. Did you always know you wanted to tell these stories? I kind of had a premonition growing up that these events would be shared. My friends and I would always say we should’ve had a show like Laguna Beach, or something of that nature. So, in a way, I did think these stories would be told in one way or another, I just didn’t think I’d be the one to tell them. Like other stories of turmoil, we are drawn to A North Shore Story because we can relate to the characters.

Can you elaborate on what is relatable about the internal struggles of the book’s characters? What makes these characters extremely relatable to readers are the confidence and relationship problems each one of them goes through, whether it be friendship or romantic. Some characters go through other internal struggles such as underage drinking, drug use, and sexual peer pressure. I think that everyone at one time or another has been in one of these circumstances.

What was your favorite part of writing this book? Since this was my first book, I didn’t know what to expect. I thought I was supposed to have a template or well-thought out plan before writing anything. Instead, I jumped into it head-first and developed the story as I wrote. I feel that doing it this way allowed myself to be more creative and not stick to a “script” per say. I was even surprised at what I was able to create.

What inspired you to write this story so many years later? What originally got my gears turning was the media’s coverage of our former priest and his embezzlement of church funds. I then started to think about our time growing up at our church and the events that our friends and I experienced. After pinpointing key events, I began formulating the plotline which now makes up A North Shore Story.

You know some of these characters in your waking life. Who was the most exciting to write? How have they changed because of what happened? The most exciting character to write about was definitely Kate. Kate, and the girl who she’s based off of, has a very exciting personality and a distinct attitude. When our friend read the story, she loved how she was portrayed in the storyline. I think that she, along with the rest of our friends, have changed in that we’ve learned how to tackle the problems that Kate and the rest of the group are dealing with right now.

Tell us more about your personal part in the stories. Are you in the book? How did you change your story for the fiction rendition? I am in the book. With my character, and with all the characters, I left elements of real life in the story and in the personality, but overall the fundamental qualities of each character are unique from their real life counterparts.

What strengths did you and Alyssa bring to the table to help one another write the book? I felt more connected to writing the actual story. I was able to figure out and connect the different subplots of the book, while Alyssa is very familiar with novels and creative writing. With those skills, she helped make the book come alive.

Do you anticipate a sequel? I’ve thrown ideas around in my head, and I’ve talked about it with Alyssa. We’re open to it, but haven’t started writing anything yet.

 


 

Alyssa Machinis

alyssa

Tell us about your background, what have you done since the events that occurred that inspired A North Shore Story? Well, I went to college at University of Illinois and graduated with a degree in Advertising and minors in both Business and Communications. Now I work at an advertising-technology company as a Digital Strategist.

What is your side of the story depicted in the book? Did you change the reality for the fiction version? My side of the story is depicted in the book, but it’s pretty separated from reality. The biggest and only consistency between my character and I are our driven personalities.

What was the most difficult part about writing this book? The most difficult part of writing the book was helping it come alive. The content was there, and the story was strong, but fostering the story from a passive standpoint into an active point of view was a challenge.

What do you think the most important lesson from the book is? The most important lesson from the book is to be confident in who you are. Don’t worry about what other people think because the fear of judgment can turn you into a person you don’t want to be.

What part of this story do you think appeals to young adult readers most? I think what appeals to young adults about A North Shore Story are the pop culture references mixed with struggles that I think a majority of teens have experienced or encountered at some point in their lives.

What clique were you in in high school? Can you tell us an event that happened to you and your friends that almost made it into A North Shore Story but isn’t included? I was definitely in the choir group throughout high school. There weren’t many events that didn’t make it into A North Shore Story, but we almost wrote in a choir sub-plot. However, we switched it to fashion as the story developed.

What were some of your favorite books in high school, when the story takes place? I loved the Harry Potter series and the Myron Bolitar series by Harlan Coben. He writes excellent mystery novels, and J.K. Rowling is a genius.

Who is your favorite author? What were a few books that inspired your writing? I don’t necessarily have a favorite author (I read a lot). However, I do think that J.K. Rowling’s writing style was very influential on my own. It’s also comforting to know that she had humble beginnings just like Dean and I have now.

Do you think you’ll write another book? Like Dean mentioned, we’ve talked about it a little bit. However, as of now we have not made any strides toward writing another book.

A NORTH SHORE STORY sounds pretty thrilling! Want your own copy? You can pick it up here.

 

Life On The Edge by McFadden & Al-Khalili

life on the edge

 

Life is the most extraordinary phenomenon in the known universe; but how did it come to be? Even in an age of cloning and artificial biology, the remarkable truth remains: nobody has ever made anything living entirely out of dead material. Life remains the only way to make life. Are we still missing a vital ingredient in its creation?

Like Richard Dawkins’ The Selfish Gene, which provided a new perspective on how evolution works, Life on the Edge alters our understanding of our world’s fundamental dynamics. Bringing together first-hand experience at the cutting edge of science with unparalleled gifts of explanation, Jim Al-Khalili and Johnjoe Macfadden reveal that missing ingredient to be quantum mechanics; the phenomena that lie at the heart of this most mysterious of sciences.

Drawing on recent ground-breaking experiments around the world, each chapter in Life on the Edge engages by illustrating one of life’s puzzles: How do migrating birds know where to go? How do we really smell the scent of a rose? How do our genes copy themselves with such precision?Life on the Edge accessibly reveals how quantum mechanics can answer these probing questions of the universe.

Guiding the reader through the rapidly unfolding discoveries of the last few years, Al-Khalili and McFadden communicate the excitement of the explosive new field of quantum biology and its potentially revolutionary applications, while offering insights into the biggest puzzle of all: what is life? As they brilliantly demonstrate in these groundbreaking pages, life exists on the quantum edge.

Every non-fiction title must match the rigor of its investigative narrative to the weight of its message. Here is a book that seems to herald a brave new world of possible technology and depth of understanding, brought to us by the field of quantum biology. I harbor little skepticism that the authors’ chosen field of study will bring to bear significant impact upon everyday life and scientific conquest of the unknown alike. I am, however, perturbed by the willingness, even giddiness, of the authors to extend their findings into areas of study not directly related to their work, dispensing entirely with intellectual rigor in favor of the eye-catching pizazz of a History Channel or TLC docuthriller.

I wish that I could be kinder to this book, but I can’t. In my relatively short life, I’ve watched worthwhile institutions (from the Smithsonian Institute to just about every news broadcast on the tube) turn into entertainment media. What makes this book part of that media is that its takeaway is a romantic image of a scientific future and a mysterious universe, rather than the science itself. The viewer of a modern Discovery Channel program, for example, often concludes a viewing experience feeling entertained, confusing this “entertained” feeling for the feeling of having learned something. The dynamics that propagate this kind of confusion are all present in Life on the Edge:

-Examples overstay their welcome, explaining the same thing multiple ways, and appealing to different emotions each time rather than to different features of the thing being explained

-Being overly numerous, the examples replace a dearth of content and context with a breadth of verbosity.

-Phrases such as “It could be the case that…” and “Perhaps [subject] could even…” are used to extend verifiable claims grossly beyond the limits of reasonable speculation, and into a land of pure imagination. This would be fine, of course, if it did not happen in a book written by two highly credible and accomplished scientists whose word many will take as gold. By trying to extend the appeal of this book to those who are not fascinated by the wonder of the quantum world alone, the authors risk alienating those who are, their core audience.

I would recommend this book to someone who has no prior knowledge of what the phrase “quantum mechanics” means, perhaps hoping that the hyperbole it contains might ignite his or her fascination. Some say that this is a valid way to spark interest in people. However, I have always found this method to be demeaning to those upon whom it is used, like using the prospect of a career as an astronaut to entice children to become interested in the cosmos. Visionary public scientists like Carl Sagan wouldn’t treat children this way, which is partially why he is still beloved today. Other public scientists who hope to have a positive impact need to follow suit.

I received this book from Blogging For Books in exchange for this review. Want your own copy? You can pick it up here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

33 Cecils by Everett De Morier

cecils

In 1992 — when Amy Fisher dominated every news channel — there lived two men. The first was a once prominent cartoonist who had a very public fall from grace. The other was an alcoholic who worked in a landfill. Both lived in in different parts of the country and led completely separate lives — until their paths crossed.
You know their names. And for over twenty years, you thought you knew their story — until their journals were found and authenticated in 2014.
And what we thought we knew — what the old news clips and the old stories wanted us to think — were all wrong.

Thanks to the author for gifting me this book in exchange for a review!

It’s always curious to hear a story told from different points of view, and this is the underlying tone of 33 CECILS. The voices of the main characters are very different in tone and in action, but together they blend and form a perfect harmony that moves the plot along well.

The background is Binghamton NY and Erie, PA, to the delight of those that can confirm the authentic details of those cities. One man is a recovering alcoholic and turns out to be a loyal and fierce uncoverer of information; the other is a man-child that bears scars from previous events in his life and is always looking over his shoulder. Their lives converge in a wild, this-can’t-be-fiction tale taken from their own personal journals that will have you looking to Google to confirm their existence.

It took me a little bit of reading before the writing style settled into my brain, but once it did, I found myself looking forward to the time I spent with Walker and Dutch. DeMorier constructs these men with foibles, faults and fears, making them relevant and sympathetic. I found myself silently cheering for Dutch as he experiments with sobriety, keeping himself busy living the “real” life that non-drinkers live, doing normal things like shopping and waking up early, all the while documenting his inner thoughts in his journals.

Walker’s character took a little while longer before he endeared himself to me, what with the tents in the living room and the imaginary tales he told to his daughters. But once the action really started, I could appreciate the man he started to become and what his vision of the future meant.

DeMorier is well versed in the finer aspects of dialogue, and this helped make the characters come to life. Things go along quietly from day to day until the lives of the two men intersect in a turbulent way. This action sets the book off in a new direction and we see how the same event can be explained differently through two points of view. The layers come together and then move apart again, forming a tapestry that becomes comforting the more you get into it.

33 CECILS was a pleasant surprise. It’s not your typical murder mystery; it’s more like an anti-mystery that celebrates the life of two everyday men. It’s a tale of hope, self realization,  whimsy and love. It’s a real sleeper of a novel that will leave your heart full once you reach the end.

Want your own copy? You can pick it up here.

© 2017 gimmethatbook

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑