Monday, May 21, 2018

Mondays Mean Free Books: Dancer's Flame and Populace

Hooray! It's Giveaway day here at the GSMC Book Review Podcast!

Congrats go out to Samantha for winning a copy of Dancer's Flame by Jasmine Silvera,


Stevie Rae for winning a copy of Populace by A M Wilson,


and Ella and Alex for winning copies of both!

If you haven't listened to the interviews with these authors, you should! You can find the interview with Jasmine on Episode 80 and the interview with A M on Episode 81. Go ahead and listen. I can wait...

Our current giveaway is open until Saturday. If you would like to win a copy of The Undiscovered Country by Mike Nemeth just go to our Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram page and comment on the post with Episode 82 to enter! Check out future episodes for the books to be featured in the next round of giveaways!

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Sunday Rewind: The Michael Airlie Mystery Series by Mitchell F. Jones

On Episode 24 of the GSMC Book Review Podcast I got to interview a friend! Mitchell F. Jones is the author of the Michael Airlie mystery series. He is also a friend and colleague from my time in Missoula, MT. Mitch has always been a writer and has written both fiction and nonfiction. He is also a scholar who loves to learn and challenge himself, speaks fluent Japanese, grew up partly in Scotland, partly in Pennsylvania, and has an international, multi-lingual family. There are currently 2 books in this series:

This wasn't right. Mike had started teaching to get away from seeing dead bodies. Now there he was, staring at the corpse of a colleague slumped at his desk. All the signs point to Gil, a nervous undergrad with a bone to pick with the late Dr. Clerkwell, but something doesn't add up. When a stack of blank diplomas goes missing, Mike realizes there's much more going on at his quiet rural university than he could ever have imagined. Pushed from his peaceful sanctuary, he's forced to call on the military training that he had hoped was all behind him.
Full of twists and turns, Murder in Old Main is a thrilling whodunit full of pride, greed, and lust for money that will keep you wondering if anyone can really be trusted...(Source)
 
At 10 AM, Tom Coleman saw a man he knew was dead. By 10 PM, he was dead and the man walked free.
When Mike Airlie, former colonel in the army and Vietnam vet, arrived at the dorm, Tom’s body was hanging cold from the rafters. He wouldn’t be the first or last soldier to take his own life after the horrors of ‘Nam, but something didn’t add up. As Mike picks apart the clues, he realizes that the death is not at all as it seems. To complicate matters, he also has to fight a pervasive stigma against suicide in the veteran community. Racing against the clock before the killer strikes again, he draws on all of his law enforcement connections, but the deeper he digs, the more dangerous it becomes.
Dead Men Can’t Murder is the gripping second story in the life of Mike Airlie and the sequel to Murder in Old Main. (Source)
Mitch learned to read early in life and was reading Hardy Boys mysteries at a young age. He has always known that he wanted to write mysteries, and now that he is retired he is fulfilling that dream. This was the second time since starting the podcast that I got to interview a friend, and I really love it. I love speaking with all of the authors I interview, for the record, but being able to see friends who are living out their dreams is truly wonderful. 

Genres:
  • Mystery
  • Suspense and Thriller
  • Historical Fiction

What I enjoyed:
  • The books are historical fiction, but they aren't set that far in the past (1980s) so it was really fun to see the differences and the similarities to now. I also enjoyed remembering certain technology or situations from my childhood.
  • There's a character named Sara! She's not actually named or patterned after me (otherwise there would be an h on her name) as Mitch created the series before we met, but there are a few similarities, so I like to pretend I'm sort of in a book. :-) I do also think there are some interesting story lines involving Sara and the other secondary characters that we will learn more of as the series goes on.
  • Mike himself is a really interesting character who has a lot in his past that he is still working through. He doesn't want to investigate murders, but those investigations actually help him resolve or come to terms with some of his issues.
    Quotes:
    • "Shock swept over Mike, his muscles in his neck and back knotted. He was unprepared to experience the raw spectacle of death again. Yet here it was, an elderly retired professor, butchered in his office." -Murder in Old Main
    • "He looked at their photos and could hear his father's soft west coast Scottish accent speaking. 'Michael, me boy, concentrate on the now and the past will come into focus.; It was advice he habitually heard in his head." -Dead Men Can't Murder

    Where you can find Mitch online:
    Facebook: @mitchellfjonesauthor
    Amazon Author Page: Mitchell F. Jones

    Author Bio:
    https://www.amazon.com/Mitchell-F.-Jones/e/B0034NNPFW/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1526882022&sr=1-1
    Source
    I was born in Scotland and came to the US in the late 1940s. Both my parents were born in Scotland but my mother had come to the US in the late 1920s and became a US citizen so when I was born in Paisley Scotland she registered me as a child of a US citizen, therefore I have dual citizenship, US and UK. My wife and daughters and I lived in Japan for several years and my wife and two daughter as well as myself all speak Japanese. We are a multilingual as well as multicultural family. One daughter's husband is Swiss and speaks four languages the other daughter's husband lived in Puerto Rico during high school and speaks Spanish also studied Japanese. Our grandchildren are all bi-lingual or learning to be. French is the other main language in the family. Because I was sick and bedridden as a small child I learned to read by age 4 and was reading 'Hardy Boy' mysteries very early. I learned to love mystery stories and read all of the Sherlock Homes stories by third grade. I love to read Dorothy Sayer, Agatha Christie, and many more classic mystery authors. A good mystery is the best place to read about everyday life in the era it was written. To be convincing the world the book is set in must seem real. (Source)

    To hear the interview with Mitch please click here.

    Tuesday, May 15, 2018

    The Undiscovered Country by Mike Nemeth

    On Episode 82 of the GSMC Book Review Podcast I spoke with Mike Nemeth about his new book, The Undiscovered Country. This is his second novel featuring his main character, Randle Marks (the first book is called Defiled).

    When Randle Marks buried his abusive father three years ago, he thought he had escaped the gravitational pull of his dysfunctional family. Living in Florida, Randle was convicted of a crime he didn’t commit. Now he’s served his time, written a book about his scientific work, and plans to marry his college sweetheart. Then his new beginnings are interrupted by his mother’s medical emergency.
    He is summoned to his boyhood home of Augusta, Georgia to face long-suppressed memories, contemptuous siblings, and his dying mother’s desperate attempts to conceal her secrets and preserve her dignity. He battles dispassionate doctors who are reluctant to waste resources on a terminal patient and, in the process, discovers that his mother’s fate may not be an act of God. While investigating her medical situation, he uncovers conspiracies to hijack two estates—his mother’s modest estate, and that of a wealthy man who claims to be his birth father. To bury the past, he will have to learn the truth about the past.
    Randle embarks on a journey through contemporary end-of-life rituals juxtaposed with Old South traditions and the fading mores of his mother’s generation to untangle the layers of lies that enshroud his family’s history. As he uncovers the twisted facts, Randle finds he must solve a murder no one knew had been committed. To do that, he will have to prevent the embezzlement of a stranger’s wealth, and solve the riddle of his own identity. When he learns the shocking truth, he is challenged to choose between greed, revenge and reconciliation. (Source)
    The Undiscovered Country is a book that provides layers of mystery and storylines. Overall, it's the story of a man who goes home to be with his dying mother, but once there he uncovers secrets, plots, and mysteries of a variety of kinds, all of which manage to tie in to one another as the book progresses.

    Genres:
    • Crime Fiction
    • Mystery
    • Family Dynamics

    What I enjoyed:
    • The layers of mystery. There was a lot in this book to try and figure out, and lots of twists and turns along the way.
    • I found it difficult to root for many of the characters in this story, but Mike's writing kept me engaged throughout. He has a relaxed and engaging way of telling a story that makes it easy to visualize and enter into.
      Quotes:
      • "Whether I could admit it, their lives had been mooring lines lashing my little boat to origins I could neither embrace nor discard. When my father passed away, my little boat, tethered only by Mom's lifeline, swung in an aimless circle, but it soon stabilized. Losing my mother wouldn't be as easy a blow to absorb. Without her, my little boat would have no past - only an uncertain future."
      • "Some unfamiliar force was driving me to save my mother and unravel the mysteries surrounding my siblings As I stood silently sweating, I knew that explanation was a rationalization. Maybe an obfuscation. I needed to use this crisis to put my past behind me, to kill off Jack Marks forever so I would be free to live as Randle Marks."
      • "However, the devious duplicity of my father and my siblings crushed my ego, my psyche, my being. I felt as though I weren't a part of this family, so why was I bothering with this crisis?"

      Where you can find Mike online:
      Website: https://mikenemethauthor.com/
      Twitter: @nemosnovels
      Amazon Author Page: Mike Nemeth
      GoodReads: Mike Nemeth

      Author Bio:
      Mike Nemeth was born and raised in Appleton, Wisconsin and is a die-hard Badger and Packer fan. A Vietnam-era Army veteran, he raised a daughter as a single parent while pursuing a career in high technology that took him from Atlanta to Texas, Colorado, Tennessee, and Florida before returning to Atlanta. He holds a private pilot’s license, once coached a state champion AAU basketball team, and is a golfer and motor-boating enthusiast.
      In addition to his two novels, Mike has published two nonfiction works about sports: 128 Billion to 1, why no one can predict the outcome of the NCAA Basketball Tournament; and Lies, Damned Lies and Statistics, why the selection committee always chooses the wrong teams to play the college football National Championship. He also wrote The Missing Ingredient, an article published in The New York Times that explained why college football rankings are always wrong. visit Mike’s sports Website www.nemosnumbers.com for fresh insight into both college sports. (Source)
      Want to read The Undiscovered Country? Mike has been kind enough to provide 3 copies of his novel, and one of them could be yours! All you have to do is go to either our Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram pages and comment on the post with Mike's interview. It's as simple as that: just comment on Episode 82 on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram, and you'll automatically be entered to win The Undiscovered! The last day to enter is May 26th and winners will be announced on May 28th.

      To hear the interview with Mike, please click here.

      Thursday, May 10, 2018

      Populace by A M Wilson

      A M Wilson was my guest for Episode 81 of the GSMC Book Review Podcast. A M joined me to talk about his debut novel, Populace, which is a dystopian, post-apocalyptic story set in the year 2151 after much of the US has been destroyed by a series of nuclear blasts.

      AMERICA 2151
      NEW YORK. WASHINGTON. CHICAGO. LOS ANGELES. ALL WIPED OUT FROM NUCLEAR BLASTS.
      The New United States of America is centered in Omaha, where the Leviathan Corporation provides a muted, controlled existence for its populace. Synthetic drugs keep them sane. The people are safe — for now — from the threats on the outside.
      Summoned to the president’s office, unlikely hero Thomas Ignatius Stout receives an extraordinary mission: Hunt down and return, dead or alive, the vicious killer responsible for destroying the lives of millions and millions of Americans, Joe Ikowski, who remains a thorn in the government's side. Tom accepts his burden and leads an expedition past Omaha's protective barrier and into the great unknown.
      That’s when Tom’s journey really begins. 
      Taking him from Kentucky to Arizona to Mexicali and the Rocky Mountains, Tom finds far more than he is searching for — and starts to learn the deeply complicated, disturbing truths of his own identity and a world in which he had only before scratched the surface.
      In this poignant page-turner, a novel that blends elements of science fiction, political thrillers and an Orwellian-style future, rising novelist AM Wilson takes readers on a wild ride inside what could become the future of the United States, if we ruin ourselves from the inside. It’s a novel that will make you think, no matter what you think of America. (Source)
      This particular genre isn't for everyone. If you're looking for pure escapism or a nice beach read, you might want to look elsewhere. But if you're looking for an incredibly well written, thoughtful, and somewhat frightening book, you should definitely check out Populace. It's somewhat frightening because it could so easily be true. It reminded me a lot of the dystopian novels I read in High School English, and A M says he was influenced by Brave New World for the concept of this book. To be honest, this isn't my go-to genre, and it can sometimes take me awhile to get into this type of story, but A M's writing is great and the story definitely sucked me in once it got going. I needed to know what the heck was going on and what was going to happen to Tom.

      Genres:
      • Dystopian
      • Post-Apocalyptic
      • Science Fiction

      What I enjoyed:
      • A M's writing. He has a unique way of putting words together that I found fascinating and even beautiful at times.
      • Tom. Not so much Tom as a character, per se, but seeing the world through Tom's eyes. He's lived his whole life inside the walls of Omaha, medicated and complacent. Once he gets outside the walls he begins to see everything in a new way, and the reader gets to take that journey with him.
      • The way the book kept heading in directions I wasn't quite expecting.
      • Is it weird to say the book cover? It's fairly simple, and yet the more I stare at it the more I like it.
        Quotes:
        • "His work consisted of 20 percent insinuation, 15.5 percent innuendo and 60 percent rumor, with the remainder deemed 'fact' - just enough to give the vague scent of truth to whatever it was he wrote about."
        • "'I don't think there's an alternative. All of us, all the time. We limit ourselves by our choices, and those choices are limited by our circumstances, and those circumstances are limited by other's choices that put us in that place, and around and around we go.'"
        • "His personality rested on the strands of a spider's web, and so he wrote, When all around us is a lie, how can we trust our own selves as true?"

        Where you can find A M online:
        Website: https://www.amwideawake.com/
        Blog: https://www.amwideawake.com/blog/
        Facebook: @AMWilsonWideawake
        Twitter: @a_m_wideawake
        Amazon Author Page: A M Wilson
        GoodReads: A.M. Wilson

        Author Bio:
        There's no truth here. I'm not a preacher, and I'd fail at being an idol. I've loved telling stories since I couldn't see over a kitchen counter but would watch my grandmother craft pie crust through the nook in her arm. I've always loved humor — humor that challenges our worldview, humor that gets us through hard times, humor that makes us realize our own humanity. And my burden is simple: I believe everything is possible.
        I'm from Flint, Mich., originally, but I've moved around a lot -- to Indiana, Illinois, Kentucky, Missouri, California, Spain and Argentina. I've been a journalist, a farmer, a groundskeeper, a librarian, a fast-food worker, a bagboy, a political organizer and a shill.
        I've loved and lost then loved again.
        Who am I? I'm AM Wilson; I'm wide awake, it's morning. And as Bob Dylan said, "I am a farmer. And whoever heard of a fatalistic farmer?"
        Intrigued by Populace? Good news, it's giveaway time! A M has been kind enough to provide 3 copies of Populace and one of them could be yours! All you have to do is go to either our Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram pages and comment on the post with A M's interview. It's as simple as that: just comment on Episode 81 on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram, and you'll automatically be entered to win Populace! The last day to enter is May 19th and winners will be announced on May 21st.

        To hear the interview with A M, please click here.

        Tuesday, May 8, 2018

        Dancer's Flame by Jasmine Silvera

        Over the weekend I had the pleasure of welcoming author Jasmine Silvera back to the GSMC Book Review Podcast for Episode 80 (astute readers might be wondering what happened to Episode 79? Never fear! That's the link for that episode, it just happens to be a non-interview episode). Jasmine was one of my first guests on the podcast; the first time was almost a year ago when we talked about her debut novel, Death's Dancer, on Episode 17. She came back this time to talk about the second book in her Grace Bloods series, Dancer's Flame.

        With the help of a god, Azrael and Isela exposed a conspiracy within and altered the world’s balance of power. But for Azrael, victory comes with dangerous new powers he can't control. Will accepting his future mean losing everything he’s gained — his allies, his territory, and his consort?
        Isela’s found a home when she stepped into Azrael’s protection, and his arms. But if accepting her new role as consort means giving up the life she’s worked for will the price be too high?
        When an impossible creature shows up in Prague bearing a dire warning, the search for answers divides them. Now Isela must forge a bond with the power within her while Azrael fights to keep from tearing himself apart. And time is running out. Gods don’t forget or forgive, especially a betrayal from one of their own. (Source)
        Dancer's Flame picks up where Death's Dancer left off. I don't want to give too much away from the first book if you haven't read it, but part of the arc of this second book is watching Azrael's and Isela's relationship continue, and evolve, after the happily ever after of that first book. We also learn more about Azrael's cohort and Isela's family.

        Genres:
        • Urban Fantasy
        • Contemporary Fantasy
        • Romance

        What I enjoyed:
        • Getting more of the world and the characters I grew to love in the first book. I'm so happy this is a series so I can continue on with them for awhile!
        • The arc of Azrael's and Isela's relationship. During the interview Jasmine said that she writes what she knows, and while she doesn't know what it's like to be in a supernatural relationship, she does know what it's like to be in a long-term relationship, and all of the pros and cons and challenges that go into making that relationship work. Some couples argue about money, Isela and Azrael argue about how to keep each other safe with a variety of supernatural beings trying to kill them. But it boils down to the same elements of communication and trust.
        • All of the other relationships in the story. There are a LOT of secondary characters, but all of them serve a purpose and have a place within the story, and it's both fun and fascinating to watch as all of those relationships intertwine and evolve, and what that means for the rest of the characters.
          Quotes:
          • "[Azrael] would not define her by their relationship, yet he put it between her and the vast unknown of what she had become. Once she had been a loose end, even among her own large and complicated family.
            Azrael had changed that."
          • "She would rebuild. She always did. That was the key to immortality - being able to start again no matter how many times you must."
          • "'All godsdancers have something special, something that makes them different from any other dancers,' she said firmly. 'Trouble is, nobody knows quite  what it is. You can only train so far. It's why so many who begin fail to advance. And you, Isela Vogel, were the best of the best.'"

          Where you can find Jasmine online:
          Website: http://jasminesilvera.com/
          Blog: http://jasminesilvera.com/blog/
          Facebook: @JasSilvera
          Facebook Group: The Academy
          Twitter: @jassilvera
          Instagram: jassilvera
          Pinterest: Jasmine Silvera
          Amazon Author Page: Jasmine Silvera
          GoodReads: Jasmine Silvera
          BookBub: @JasSilvera

          Author Bio:
          Jasmine Silvera has loved reading and telling stories about imaginary worlds for as long as she can remember. She acquired a love of sci-fi, fantasy, and comic books from her dad, who thought the Hobbit was a perfectly acceptable bedtime story for a ten-year-old. She filled long hours as a volunteer at the church thrift store by reading boxes of donated Harlequins.
          In college she published short stories and essays before earning a degree in Broadcast Journalism. In 2012, Jasmine quit her day job in web production to walk the Camino de Santiago and focus on her writing.
          Inspired by and written during her two years living in Prague, her first published book, Death’s Dancer, was released on December 27, 2016 by Kindle Press. It was selected as part of the Kindle Scout Program.
          She lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband and their small, opinionated human charge. (Source)
          Do you want to get involved in the world of the Grace Bloods and read Dancer's Flame? Today is your lucky day because we have a giveaway! Jasmine has been kind enough to provide 3 copies of Dancer's Flame and one of them could be yours! All you have to do is go to either our Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram pages and comment on the post with Jasmine's interview. It's as simple as that: just comment on Episode 80 on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram, and you'll automatically be entered to win Dancer's Flame! The last day to enter is May 19th and winners will be announced on May 21st.

          To hear the interview with Jasmine, please click here.

          Monday, May 7, 2018

          Mondays Mean Free Books: A Cruel Kind of Beautfiul and My Oxford Year

          If you've been reading the posts the last few weeks, hopefully you've noticed that we've been doing giveways with books from the authors featured on the podcasts. I have a lot of respect for the authors I speak with every week, and love being introduced to books and genres I might not have read otherwise. Being able to share those books with others is pretty much icing on the cake. Mondays have become giveaway day a the GSMC Book Review Podcast, when I take to social media to announce the winners of the most recent contests.

          Congrats go out today to Deborah, who won a copy of A Cruel Kind of Beautiful by Michelle Hazen


          as well as to Rachel, Jen, and Veeda, who won copies of My Oxford Year by Julia Whelan.


          Our current giveaway is open until Saturday. If you would like to win a copy of Fade Out by Laurie Fagen just go to our Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram page and comment on the post with Episode 77 to enter! Check out Tuesday's and Thursday's episodes this week for the books to be featured in the next round!

          If you haven't listened to the interviews with Michelle and Julia, just click the links!

          Sunday, May 6, 2018

          Sunday Rewind - FLOOD by Melissa Scholes Young

          On Episode 23 of the GSMC Book Review Podcast, I interviewed Melissa Scholes Young about her debut novel FLOOD.

          Laura Brooks fled her hometown of Hannibal, Missouri, ten years ago after a historic flood and personal heartbreak. Now she's returned unannounced, and her family and friends don't know what to make of it. She says she's just home for a brief visit and her high-school reunion, but she's carrying too much luggage for that: literal and metaphorical. Soon Laura is embroiled in small-town affairs--the contentious divorce of her rowdy best friend Rose; the campaign of her twelve-year-old godson, Bobby, to become the town's official Tom Sawyer; and the renewed interest of the man Laura once thought she'd marry, Sammy McGuire.
          Leaving town when she was eighteen had been Laura's only option. She feared a stifling existence in a town ruled by its past, its mythological devotion to Mark Twain, and the economic and racial divide that runs as deep as the Mississippi River. She can't forget that fateful Fourth of July when the levees broke or the decisions that still haunt her. Now as the Mississippi rises again, a deep wound threatens to reopen, and Laura must decide if running away once more might be the best way to save herself. (Source)
          FLOOD is multi-layered in the stories it tells. First, there is the story of Laura's homecoming, but underneath is the backstory of why she left in the first place. Both of those stories involve the annual flooding that happens in Hannibal. The flooding is almost another character, and has a major impact on the story and its characters. There is also the layer of Mark Twain's connection with Hannibal and how the town has been shaped by the influence of him and his books.

          Genres:
          • Women's Fiction
          • Literary Fiction
          • Coming of Age

          What I enjoyed:
          • The story of Laura's return to Hannibal. Having grown up in a small town, I resonated with so many of her experiences in going home.
          • The interspersed chapters about Mark Twain. I learned things I never knew before about the author and the area of Hannibal.
          • Related to that, I enjoyed the secondary story of Laura's best friend's son's involvement in the annual Tom and Becky contest.
          • Laura's relationships, their complexities, and the way they evolve throughout the story.
            Quotes:
            • "Water was what people talked about, worried over, and watched. Upstream and downstream, levees busted by force and by sabotage. Barges were stuck for months and the trains stopped running."
            • "It doesn't matter how long I'm gone; Hannibal is home. And when you don't have another place to go, your roots run deeper."
            • "Going to town and a trip to Walmart is an event. Half your social life happens in the parking lot. You see at least a cousin, a long-lost friend, and a lot of high school acquaintances every visit. There are only three degrees of separation between you and every other customer, sometimes fewer."

            Where you can find Melissa online:
            Website: http://www.melissascholesyoung.com/
            Facebook: @melissascholesyoung
            Twitter: @mscholesyoung
            Instagram: melissascholesyoung
            Amazon Author Page: Melissa Scholes Young
            GoodReads: Melissa Scholes Young

            Author Bio:
            I was born and raised in Hannibal, Missouri, Mark Twain's beloved​ boyhood home. I've lived a lot of places since I left, but Hannibal is still my hometown.
            My writing has been published in the Atlantic, Washington Post, Poets & Writers, Narrative, Ploughshares, and other literary journals. I'm a Contributing Editor at Fiction Writers Review and Editor of an anthology of D.C. Women Writers, Grace in Darkness.
            I write now from Washington, D.C. where I teach College Writing and Creative Writing at American University. My debut novel, FLOOD, is available from Center Street/ Hachette. I live in Maryland with my husband, kids, and a chocolate labrador named Huckleberry Finn. (Source)
            To hear the interview with Melissa please click here.