Sunday, January 13, 2019

The Lobster Lake Bandits by Tommy Carbone

On Episode 123 of the GSMC Book Review Podcast I welcomed Tommy Carbone back to talk about his new book The Lobster Lake Bandits: Mystery at Moosehead. Tommy had first been on the podcast in July (Episode 94) to talk about his memoir, Growing Up Greenpoint. For his new book he switched from memoir to mystery and from Brooklyn to his adopted home state of Maine.

Nothing much really happens in the north woods, that is, until you mix seaplanes, poachers, game wardens, and strangers in a mystery at the lake.
Three generations of the Parker family had grown up in the woods near Maine’s Lobster Lake. The Parkers knew the roads, trails, and lakes around their cabin better than anyone, except maybe the local game warden. It was always a peaceful and safe place. That all changed the year Joe Parker rescued a girl, the oddly dressed stranger stalked their woods, and the bandits caused some serious trouble.
The Lobster Lake Bandits is the first book in the Moosehead Mystery series. (Source)
This book is absolutely a love letter to the north woods of Maine and definitely made me want to visit. I really liked the way Tommy wove the various timelines together, and how the flashbacks set up more of the story to come in the rest of the series. I was expecting a bit more of the more recent timeline (set in the 80s) with Joe and Sarah, but their relationship will be explored further as the series continues, which gives me something to look forward to.

If I had to choose one word to describe this book it would be layers: layers of mystery, layers of timelines, and layers of relationship. Each layer builds on the ones previous to create a rich story full of interesting secondary characters, likeable main characters, and a location that is a character in itself.

If you want to know more about Tommy Carbone and his books, you can find him in the following places:
Amazon Author Page: Tommy Carbone
GoodReads: Tommy Carbone

Tommy Carbone grew up in Greenpoint Brooklyn during the 1970s and early 80s.  He roamed the avenues, hung out in candy stores playing pinball, and dodged cars chasing spaldeens. Brooklyn was then, as it is now, the “4th largest city” in America.
He now writes from a one-room cabin, on the shore of a lake that is frozen for six months out of the year, and where moose outnumber people 3 to 1. (Source)

The Money is Green by Owen Sullivan

On Episode 121 of the GSMC Book Review Podcast I spoke with Owen Sullivan about his book The Money is Green as well as the other three books in his Indecent Fortunes series. I've known Owen for about 8 years, and he has been friends with my hubby for over 20, so it was a lot of fun to get to chat with him on the podcast about his books. And we got to chat in person! I've done all of my other interviews over the phone or via Skype, but since Owen is local he actually came to the studio which I really enjoyed.

After losing his wife to an affair, along with the electrical contracting company he built, Jason Ballard is experiencing life at its cruelest. In a desperate attempt to get back on his feet, he takes a job at Soltech, a thriving solar panel company based in Shanghai, only to discover all that glitters is not gold.
Mei Chen the seductive wife of the third highest-ranking official in the Communist Party, owns and operates Soltech with an iron fist. An industrious and successful business woman, she makes not attempt to hide her excessive wealth or shy away from her controversial opinions. Although extremely powerful, she yearns for more...wealth, status and above all more power.
Leave it to the United States Congress to throw open the doors to the vault. With literally billions of dollars slated for "green energy" projects, Mei Chen stands boldly at the front of the line to grab as much of the "green money" as she can. Jason, realizing too late that Mei is a ruthless adversary and will stop at nothing...risks his very life to oppose her. (Source)
This series introduced me to a lot of aspects of finance, building, real estate, etc. that I didn't know, and this book was no exception, teaching me about the solar industry (I joked in the interview that he is the only person I know who could make use the word photovoltaic in a book and make it sound completely natural). Owen has a way of writing about these topics, which are important to the overall plots, that is informative and integral to the story without making my eyes glaze over as I wondered why there was so much detail. This book is full of action and intrigue with touches of humor, romance, and family dynamics. The characters were well-developed and layered and the story kept me engaged throughout.

All four of Owen's books are part of his Indecent Fortune series, but each can be read as a stand-alone novel.

If you would like to learn more about Owen and his books you can find him in the following places:

With a degree from USC’s School of Business in Real Estate Finance and Marketing, Owen Sullivan has attacked almost every corner of the real estate industry for over 35 years. From one tip of California to the other, he served as Senior VP for one of the largest builders in the country. In 1987, he ventured off to start his own company, developing and selling in excess of $300 million in real estate ventures. (Source)

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Toilet Trouble, Take a Hike! and Bedtime Story by Brett Fleishman

As I continue playing catch-up on the blog posts, I move on to Episode 119 of the GSMC Book Review Podcast and my interview with Brett Fleishman. Brett writes collections of children's poetry and joined me on the episode to talk about the three books in his second collection, one each for different levels of readers.
A collection of 20 humorous poems designed for beginner readers (grades K-2). Volume 2 of this series includes a reunion of the Big Bad Wolf and the Three Little Pigs, a surprise birthday present for a baby crocodile, an uninviting hole in an ice skating rink, and much, much more. (Source)

A collection of 30 humorous poems designed for intermediate readers (grades 3-5). Volume 2 of this series includes a store that sells human body parts, a girl who controls the moon with her nose, a white-water rafting trip with an unexpected ending, and much, much more! (Source)

A collection of 25 humorous poems designed for advanced readers (grades 5-7). Volume 2 of this series includes a poorly planned Treasure Hunt, a rather chaotic manure machine, a very competitive laundry-shooting game, and much, much more! (Source)
All three collections are delightful. Brett's poetry reminds me a lot of that of  Shel Silverstein, and he captures the humor of each of the three age groups perfectly. I love that the books also contain word puzzles (some of which are actually quite hard!). In addition, he uses a lot of puns, metaphors, etc. which are explained in a glossary at the back of the book so if a child is confused or wants clarification while reading he or she can find it easily.

Brett does quite a bit of work with different schools, so something else I really appreciated about these collections is that they contain poems written by students from the schools he works with. He asks the students to write a specific type of poetry after they've discussed it and then he chooses winners to be included in his books. How cool would it be for a kid to have his or her poem chosen to be published?

If you would like to know more about Brett's poetry collections you can find him in the following places:
Brett Fleishman grew up in the suburbs of Philadelphia. In 1995, he earned his B.A. In 2001, he earned his M.B.A. At no point did he earn a roster spot in the N.B.A. Since 2001, Brett has been living with his two sons, Jacob and Dylan, in the greater Boston area. (Please note that, while Brett and his sons enjoy living in Boston, their sports allegiances remain firmly Philadelphian.) (Source)

Saturday, January 5, 2019

Fabulous!: An Opera Buffa by Laury A. Egan

I am so very far behind on the blog posts for the podcast. So I'm going to try to catch up. Way back on Episode 118 of the GSMC Book Review Podcast I interviewed Laury A. Egan about her book Fabulous!: An Opera Buffa.

A talented opera singer, Gilbert Eugene Rose, moonlights as a drag queen and diva divine, Kiri De Uwana, in order to pay his rent. However, Gil is dying to become famous on the New York operatic stage; unfortunately he might get his wish when he lands lead roles as a soprano and tenor in separate productions and is also hired to sing Handel by a dangerous female gangster who is at war with the producer of one of the two operas. Suddenly, happy-go-lucky Gil finds himself stranded in the middle of Mobster Boulevard, aflutter in heels, dresses, and wigs, with only his wits for protection and a new romance for inspiration. (Source)
This book is hilarious, and yes, fabulous. Gilbert as a main character was occasionally over-the-top and campy, making me laugh and sometimes roll my eyes. He's not a one dimensional character, though. He is caring, loyal, creative, funny, has complicated relationships with his mother and ex-boyfriend. The story contains elements of comedy, suspense, action, and romance, with secondary characters that contribute and enhance each of those elements. Laury's writing is full of humor and warmth and she has created a story that is thoroughly enjoyable. At 254 pages it's a quick read with a fast-paced plot.

If you would like to know more about Fabulous! And Opera Buffa or about Laury as an author, you can find her online at the following places:

Facebook: @lauryaegan

Laury A. Egan is the author of the young adult/adult novel, The Outcast Oracle, listed as a "Best Book of 2013" by Kirkus Revews; Fabulous! An Opera Buffa; the collection, Fog and Other Stories; and the psychological suspense, Jenny Kidd. Her stories have appeared in 35 literary journals and have been nominated for numerous awards; “The Mime” was a finalist for the Glass Woman Prize and "I Really Can't Say" was a finalist for the Glass Woman Ghost Story Prize. “Split,” “Fergus,” and “Jango Jacks” were honored by Short Story America as “Story-of-the-Week” and included in Volumes 1 and 2 of their anthologies. Her two full-length poetry books, Snow, Shadow, a Stranger and Beneath the Lion’s Paw, were issued by FootHills Publishing in limited edition, as were two chapbooks, Presence & Absence and The Sea & Beyond (the long poem "Beyond" was named an Inernational Merit winner by Atlanta Review and "The Sea" was nominated for a Pushcart Prize). She lives on the northern coast of New Jersey. (Source)

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Disconnected by Travon Toussiant

On Episode 117 of the GSMC Book Review Podcast I spoke with Travon Toussiant about his new YA SciFi novella, Disconnected. The story is dystopian and takes place in an alternate Chicago where technology has been banned from development and use by private citizens; all technology is controlled and monitored by the government.

Born to shape the world with a finesse never seen, Fabian Goldsmith took up the task of liberating his state from the claws of the evil TomPowwel government. In the course of his journey towards breaking the shackles of political and technological oppression of his people, he meets the no-nonsense Joanna Stuart, the daughter of the missing STFA vice president. She reminds him so much of Margaret Thatcher, but he is determined to win her heart and conquer the terrible government at the same time.
Too busy with the search for her dad, Joanna's love life is a mess as she rarely has time for a date, nor the time for love. This takes a twist when she looks into Fabian's eye and honours his request to see her. Her attraction to him is unexpected and she tries to avoid him as much as possible. Little does she know she would get more than she bargained for in her adventure with him. (Source)
  • Young Adult
  • Science Fiction
  • Dystopian
  • Romance
What I enjoyed:
  • The setting and how Chicago is clearly a place close to Travon's heart.
  • The idea behind the story and the way that Joanna's and Fabian's backstories fit into that story.
  • "Chicago was once known as a center of science, technology, and innovations in the US and the entire world. The popular steel-framed skyscraper was born here in this beautiful city, as was the zipper, the automatic dishwasher, and the popular Ferris Wheel. The first ever man made nuclear reaction took place at our University here in Chicago. It was also considered as the most influential city in terms of architectural creations of the twentieth century. What ruins the city is now, Joanna said aloud to her empty room."
Where you can find Travon online:
Author Bio:

Travon is a #1 Amazon Bestselling young teenage author of You Wanna Play Trilogy. He was born September 25, 2001, in Chicago, IL at Saint Joseph Hospital. The Unexpected is his first book he has ever written. He lives in Chicago, IL and has written short stories: The Women Who Thought Her Life Was Perfect, and Before It's Too Late. Travon has earned many medals in sports and honor roll certificates in school, he has graduated from John B. Murphy Elementary School. Travon was inspired by his grandmother Stella saying "Travon you should write a book." It gave him the idea to go for it. Travon gone through so many tragic scenes in his life that pushed him more to achieve. Up until now, his life has been looking very pleasant for him. (Source)
Would you like to win a copy of Disconnected? It's easy! Just go to one of our social media pages: Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram, and comment on Episode 117: Interview with Travon Toussiant. It's that simple: just comment on this episode and you will automatically be entered to win a copy of Disconnected! You can enter the giveaway through October 21 and winners will be announced October 22. US only. 

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

The Oyster Thief by Sonia Faruqi

I've said it before but I'll say it another million times: I love interviewing authors! On Episode 115 of the GSMC Book Review Podcast I chatted with Sonia Faruqi about her new book The Oyster Thief.

Coralline is a mermaid who is engaged to the merman of her dreams. But when an oil spill wreaks havoc on her idyllic village life, her little brother falls gravely ill. Desperate to save him, she embarks on a quest to find a legendary elixir made of starlight.
Izar, a human man, is on the cusp of an invention that will enable him to mine gold and diamonds from the depths of the ocean. His discovery will soon make him the richest man on earth—while threatening merpeople with extinction. But then, suddenly, Izar finds himself transformed into a merman and caught in a web of betrayal and intrigue. Meeting Coralline in the ocean, he decides to join her on her quest for the elixir, hoping it will turn him human again.
The quest pushes Coralline and Izar together, even though their worlds are at odds. Their pasts threaten to tear them apart, while a growing attraction adds to the danger. Ultimately, each of them faces an impossible choice. Should Coralline leave her fiancĂ© for a man who might betray her? And Izar has a dark secret of his own—one that could cause him to lose Coralline forever. (Source)
  • Fantasy
  • Science Fiction
  • Romance
  • Adventure 

What I enjoyed:

  • I loved that it was a mixture of genres. The above water world had elements of science fiction while the under water world was fantasy. There was adventure, humor, and romance. In addition there is a strong theme of ocean conservation which flows seamlessly throughout the story, never feeling overbearing or heavy handed.
  • Sonia created a beautiful, intricate and extremely well thought-out underwater world. Every time I started to wonder how something could work underwater, my question would be answered by some aspect of the story.
  • The story is multi-layered and connected. I really liked how well Sonia tied the elements and characters together.
  • "'Humans are a menace,' Trochid said. 'Our only solace is that they cannot disrupt our lives any more than they already do.'
    'Why not?' Coralline asked.
    'Because they're fire, and we're water. Fire vaporizes water, and water vanquishes fire.'"
  • "'You think that by doing what other healers have done, you will become as good as them. But success is an outcome not an imitation but of authenticity - of not abiding by the rules but changing them. The questions are more important the answers.'"
  • She shivered uncontrollably, feeling as vulnerable as a turtle without a shell. She considered the ocean itself a shell - like a roof over the head, it formed a dense layer of protection, as well as separation, from humans."
Where you can find Sonia online:
Author Bio:

Sonia pushes the boundaries of imagination in her debut novel The Oyster Thief, an underwater odyssey. She is also the author of critically acclaimed Project Animal Farm, about the world’s food system. A skilled storyteller and speaker, she lives in Toronto, Canada. (Source)
Would you like to win a copy of The Oyster Thief? It's easy! Just go to one of our social media pages: Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram, and comment on Episode 115: Interview with Sonia Faruqi. It's that simple: just comment on this episode and you will automatically be entered to win a copy of The Oyster Thief! You can enter the giveaway through October 14 and winners will be announced October 15. US only.

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

River of Secrets by Roger Johns

Episode 111 of the GSMC Book Review Podcast has me sitting down for another author interview. This time I spoke with Roger Johns about River of Secrets, the second book in the Wallace Hartman Mysteries.

Herbert Marioneaux, a Louisiana politician infamous for changing his mind on hot-button issues, has been murdered and his body posed to send a message. Baton Rouge homicide detective Wallace Hartman has to figure out who’s sending that message. DNA points to Eddie Pitkin, a social justice activist who also happens to be the half-brother of Wallace’s childhood best friend. But even with the combative history between Pitkin and Marioneaux, murder seems out of character for Pitkin, whose usual MO is to confront the wealthy and powerful with their inconvenient past. As Wallace digs deeper, she unearths a possible alibi witness, along with evidence of a deeply troubled relationship that points the finger of suspicion at Marioneaux’s son.
While Eddie’s supporters are convinced of his innocence, his enemies are equally certain of his guilt. Under pressure from all directions, Wallace pursues her investigation into the dark heart of the political establishment as Baton Rouge falls under the shadow of escalating violence. When it appears a police department insider may be sabotaging her efforts by leaking information about the case, and after menacing messages are left for her and her loved ones, Wallace is forced to untangle a trail of old and disturbing secrets unaided by those she most needs to trust. (Source)
 I really enjoyed this book. It's suspenseful, with plenty of twists and turns that kept me trying to figure things out throughout the story. Wallace is a main character it is easy to root for, and I look forward to more books with her to see where her story continues to take her. The book has moments that are uncomfortable because they are so true to life with the current situation of polarity in our country. While those scenes were difficult to read at times because of the accuracy, they add a level of depth and authenticity to the story and it's location.

  • Mystyery
  • Suspense/Thriller
What I enjoyed:
  • Roger describes Wallace as a woman who is on "the cusp of middle age." As a woman of similar description, I appreciate seeing a smart. likeable, very human main character of this demographic represented.
  • All of the twists and turns. As the case evolves there continue to be developments that can either potentially exonerate or convict the main suspect. Things are never easy and as I said in the interview, I'm really glad I'm not an investigator who has to wade through all of that type of confusing evidence.
  • Wallace's development throughout the story. She has some complicated issues in her life and her past and she is working on coming to terms with them. Even as she makes progress there are circumstances that make those issues even more complicated. I am intrigued to see where she goes throughout the series.
  • "Colley Greenberg, her mentor when she became a detective, had taught her how to do this. Study everything you see. Hold the scene in your mind's eye, and then try to run the tape backward. Some of their colleagues laughed it off as voodoo lessons, but it worked. More than once, it had shown that possibilities that at first seemed attractive were, in fact, remote or impossible, or vice versa."
  • "'Never as a chronic malcontent what would make them happy,' Carol told her. 'It'll always be something that can't be delivered and that will always be your fault.'"
  • "'Wallace, you know the secret code of the political class in Louisiana. Don't say it if you can nod it. Don't not it if you can wink it.'"
Where you can find Roger online:
Facebook: Roger Johns
Twitter: @RogerJohns10
Amazon Author Page: Roger Johns
GoodReads: Roger Johns

Author Bio:
Roger Johns is a former corporate lawyer and retired college professor with law degrees from Louisiana State University and Boston University. During his nearly two decades as a professor, he served on the editorial staffs of several academic publications and he won numerous awards and recognitions for his teaching and his scholarly writing. Roger was born and raised in Louisiana. He and his wife Julie now live in Georgia. (Source)
Are you a fan of mysteries? Want to know more about Wallace Hartman? You should definitely enter our giveaway! Entering is easy: Just go to our Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram page and comment on Episode 111: Interview with Roger Johns. That's it! Commenting will automatically enter you to win a copy of River of Secrets. The giveaway is open until September 30, and winners will be announced on October 1. US only. 

To hear the interview with Roger, please click here.