A Review of Entertain Us: The Rise and Fall of Alternative Rock in the Nineties by Craig Schuftan

Entertain Us: The Rise and Fall of Alternative Rock in the Nineties

by Craig Schuftan

I wasn’t as engaged with Alternative Rock in the nineties as someone who was born in the seventies would have been. Many of the band names in this book were unfamiliar, but since I had the advantage of a paid membership to a streaming music service, I was able to listen to these groups and hear their music as I was reading about them.

I knew the major players such as Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Oasis, and Smashing Pumpkins. I had listened to many of the other groups on the radio back then, but didn’t really pay much attention to their stories. I was 41 in 1990 and had to go to work everyday. This book taught me a lot about what was happening in music back then.

Since I’m an American I knew more about the Seattle music scene than what was going on in Manchester, England. Much of the British music never made it here, and I’m sure that most of the lesser known American bands never were popular in Europe. So even if you grew up during the nineties, to really appreciate the book that Mr. Schuftan wrote, you will have to listen to some of the music that he writes about.

Entertain Us goes into depth discussing the role of Alternative Rock. Mr. Schuftan talks about grunge, and how fame affected the way that Kurt Cobain and Eddie Vedder thought, how they tried to make their music less accessible and therefore less popular. He talks about other movements in music, how female musicians revolted, and formed groups that pushed back against the sexist role of women in rock. How MTV used the music of everyone in rock to sell hamburgers and toothpaste. How some bands couldn’t justify the money they made, when they wanted to change the world. Then some people went the other way, and took whatever was up for grabs, and said that it was only rock and roll, not revolution. There was a lot more going on behind the music than I ever knew about,

Entertain Us is a thoroughly enjoyable book about music in the nineties. If you think that none of it will be new to you, you will be surprised, because there was such a separation of music between the US and the UK. Many bands never became popular because there was such a big difference in what was going on in music in their own countries. I can’t emphasize enough that you will have to spend the extra time and effort to listen to the music that Mr. Schuftan talks about as you are reading about it. If you don’t, you will just be reading a bunch of words that won’t make a connection in your brain. Entertain Us needs to come with a soundtrack. Maybe someone can put up a playlist on Spotify or Beats Music, so that we can more easily listen along. It would have helped a lot.

I give Entertain Us 4 1/2 Stars out of 5 and a Big Thumbs Up! If you grew up during the nineties and claim the music from that time, read this book, because you will like the trip down memory lane, and also because you will learn more about what was going on at the time. If you are older, you probably don’t know most of the back story, but unless you are a real music fan, you may not care.

I received a Digital Review Copy of this book from the publisher.

Book Description

9780733328848In 1990 alternative music was where it belonged – underground. It left the business of rock stardom to rock stars. But by 1992 alternative rock had spawned a revolution in music and style that transformed youth culture and revived a moribund music industry. Five years later, alternative rock was over, leaving behind a handful of dead heroes, a few dozen masterpieces, and a lot more questions than answers. What, if anything, had the alternative revolution meant? And had it been possible – as so many of its heroes had insisted – for it to be both on MTV and under the radar? Had it used the machinery of corporate rock to destroy corporate rock? In ENtERtAIN US! Craig Schuftan takes you on a journey through the nineties – from Sonic Youth’s ‘Kool thing’ to Radiohead’s ‘Kid A’, NEVERMIND to ODELAY, Madchester to Nu-Metal, Lollapalooza to Woodstock ’99 – narrated in the voices of the decade’s most important artists. this is the story of alternative rock – the people who made it, the people who loved it, the industry that bought and sold it, and the culture that grew up in its wake – in the last decade of the twentieth century.

Book Details

Trade Paperback
ABC Books
400 pages
6.2 in W | 9.3 in H | 1.1 in T | 1.2 lb Wt
Status: Forthcoming
Announced 1st Print: 20K
On Sale Date: July 1, 2015,
Ship Date: June 11, 2015
9780733328848
0733328849
$17.99 USD, £14.99

About the Author

Muso and pop philosopher Craig Schuftan has written two previous books: CULTURE CLUB and HEY NIETZSCHE! LEAVE THEM KIDS ALONE. He broadcasts his program Culture Club each week on Triple J. Last year curated The Eighties exhibition for the Powerhouse Museum. He has a fervid online following.
http://www.craigschuftan.com

A Review of Einstein’s Beach House by Jacob M Appel

Einstein’s Beach House

by Jacob M Appel

Each of these stories give you something to think about. The people in the stories have something odd happen, and they have to figure out what it means to them, and what they can do about it. Then you have to think about what their plight means to them, and what it means to you. They make you think.

But, oddly enough, what this book made me think about was, “Why do people write books?” I started to wonder why Mr. Appel wanted to compile this book of stories and find a publisher who would publish it. Did he think that this book would become a New York Times Bestseller, and therefore he would become a rich and famous author? I don’t think so. I think that these stories are more an introduction to the way Mr. Appel thinks. I like the way he thinks. I would be interested to read something else that he wrote. A novel or  novelette, would be good; but I might read some more of his stories. These stories are small glimpses into the lives of some people who you could meet, and I’d like to see a little more of their lives.

I give Einstein’s Beach House 3 1/2 Stars out of 5. This is an interesting writing experiment, but I would have like to have seen more. More stories, and more length to some of his works, so that I could get to know Mr. Appel better. He has talent, and can tell a story, so I know I will see more from him.

I received a paperback copy of this book from the author.

Book Description

Einstein's Beach House 2A couple adopts a depressed hedgehog; a stranger shows up, claiming to be the father of a girl’s imaginary friend; a woman kidnaps her ex-husband’s turtle; a family is evicted from their home, but was it ever really theirs? Heartbreaking and hilarious, the eight stories of Einstein’s Beach House examine how we deceive ourselves and others, all to arrive at something far more real.

Book Details

Paperback: 188 pages
Publisher: Pressgang (December 5, 2014)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0984940588
ISBN-13: 978-0984940585
Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.4 x 8 inches
Shipping Weight: 8 ounces

About the Author

Jacob-M-Appel-Photograph-7-29-10Jacob M. Appel’s first novel, The Man Who Wouldn’t Stand Up, won the Dundee International Book Award in 2012. His short story collection, Scouting for the Reaper, won the 2012 Hudson Prize. He has published short fiction in more than two hundred literary journals including Agni, Conjunctions, Gettysburg Review, Southwest Review, Virginia Quarterly Review, and West Branch. His work has been short listed for the O. Henry Award (2001), Best American Short Stories (2007, 2008), Best American Essays (2011, 2012), and received “special mention” for the Pushcart Prize in 2006, 2007, 2011 and 2013.

Jacob holds a B.A. and an M.A. from Brown University, an M.A. and an M.Phil. from Columbia University, an M.S. in bioethics from the Alden March Bioethics Institute of Albany Medical College, an M.D. from Columbia University’s College of Physicians and Surgeons, an M.F.A. in creative writing from New York University, an M.F.A. in playwriting from Queens College, an M.P.H. from the Mount Sinai School of Medicine and a J.D. from Harvard Law School. He currently practices psychiatry in New York City.

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A Review of Solitude Creek (A Kathryn Dance Novel) by Jeffery Deaver

Solitude Creek

by Jeffery Deaver

I always look forward to a new novel from Jeffery Deaver. I know that I will be put on a roller coaster, with twists and turns galore. I know that I will never be able to figure out what is going on until Mr. Deaver puts it down in black and white, and then half the time he is misleading me. He lets me think that he means one thing, but it really is something entirely different. I love all the misdirection.

Most of Mr. Deaver’s books have a lot of implied horrors. He tells you about events, but doesn’t subject you to blood and gore. The way he writes his books, the anticipation of something bad happening is worse than if he had described a massacre. Your brain makes its own nightmares.

When Mr. Deaver writes books for the Kathryn Dance series he tones down the nightmares a bit, so if you have read the Lincoln Rhyme series and found them a little too intense, then this series will be better for you. Don’t get me wrong, there are still plenty of twists, wrong turns, and “Oh no”s in Solitude Creek, but it won’t give you any sleepless nights. Unless you stay up all night reading, since this book is very difficult to put down.

I enjoyed Solitude Creek and read it very quickly since it was so exciting. Some of the twists that Mr. Deaver used were kind of far-fetched, but that didn’t really affect my enjoyment. Once again I didn’t figure out most of the puzzles before Mr. Deaver revealed the answers. I was sure I had figured out a couple of things, and was sort of smug, thinking that finally I gotten something right before the reveal, but once again I was wrong. One of these days I will figure out Jeffery Deaver, just not in this book.

I give Solitude Creek 4 1/2 Stars out of 5 and a Big Thumbs Up. If you haven’t read any Jeffery Deaver books, this would be a good introduction.

Book Description

solitude-creekJeffery Deaver, “the master of manipulation” (Associated Press) and “the most creative, skilled and intriguing thriller writer in the world.” (Daily Telegraph, UK) returns with the new, long-awaited, Kathryn Dance thriller.

A tragedy occurs at a small concert venue on the Monterey Peninsula. Cries of “fire” are raised and, panicked, people run for the doors, only to find them blocked. A half-dozen people die and others are seriously injured. But it’s the panic and the stampede that killed; there was no fire.
Kathryn Dance–a brilliant California Bureau of Investigation agent and body language expert–discovers that the stampede was caused intentionally and that the perpetrator, a man obsessed with turning people’s own fears and greed into weapons, has more attacks planned. She and her team must race against the clock to find where he will strike next before more innocents die.

Book Details

Series: A Kathryn Dance Novel
Hardcover: 464 pages
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing (May 12, 2015)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1455517151
ISBN-13: 978-1455517152
Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1.5 x 9.2 inches
Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds

About the Author

Jeffery Deaver is the #1 international bestselling author of more than thirty novels, three collections of short stories, and a nonfiction law book. His books are sold in 150 countries and translated into 25 languages. His first novel featuring Lincoln Rhyme, The Bone Collector, was made into a major motion picture starring Denzel Washington and Angelina Jolie. He’s received or been shortlisted for a number of awards around the world. A former journalist, folksinger, and attorney, he was born outside of Chicago and has a bachelor of journalism degree from the University of Missouri and a law degree from Fordham University. You can visit his website at http://www.JefferyDeaver.com.

Born just outside Chicago in 1950 to an advertising copywriter father and stay-at-home mom, Jeffery Deaver was a writer from the start, penning his first book (a brief tome just two chapters in length) at age 11. He went on to edit his high school literary magazine and serve on the staff of the school newspaper, chasing the dream of becoming a crack reporter.
Upon earning his B.A. in journalism from the University of Missouri, Deaver realized that he lacked the necessary background to become a legal correspondent for the high-profile publications he aspired to, such as The New York Times or The Wall Street Journal, so he enrolled at Fordham Law School. Being a legal eagle soon grew on Deaver, and rather than continue on as a reporter, he took a job as a corporate lawyer at a top Wall Street firm. Deaver’s detour from the writing life wasn’t to last, however; ironically, it was his substantial commute to the law office that touched off his third — and current — career. He’d fill the long hours on the train scribbling his own renditions of the kind of fiction he enjoyed reading most: suspense.
Voodoo, a supernatural thriller, and Always a Thief, an art-theft caper, were Deaver’s first published novels. Produced by the now-defunct Paperjacks paperback original house, the books are no longer in print, but they remain hot items on the collector circuit. His first major outing was the Rune series, which followed the adventures of an aspiring female filmmaker in the power trilogy Manhattan Is My Beat(1988), Death of a Blue Movie Star (1990), and Hard News (1991).
Deaver’s next series, this one featuring the adventures of ace movie location scout John Pellam, featured the thrillers Shallow Graves(1992), Bloody River Blues (1993), and Hell’s Kitchen (2001). Written under the pen name William Jefferies, the series stands out in Deaver’s body of work, primarily because it touched off his talent for focusing more on his vivid characters than on their perilous situations.
In fact, it is his series featuring the intrepid and beloved team of Lincoln Rhyme and Amelia Sachs that showcases Deaver at the top of his game. Confronting enormous odds (and always under somewhat gruesome circumstances), the embittered detective and his feisty partner and love interest made their debut in 1991’s grisly caper The Bone Collector, and hooked fans for four more books: The Coffin Dancer (1998), The Empty Chair (2000), The Stone Monkey (2002), and The Vanishing Man(2003). Of the series, Kirkus Reviews observed, “Deaver marries forensic work that would do Patricia Cornwell proud to turbocharged plots that put Benzedrine to shame.”
On the creation of Rhyme, who happens to be a paraplegic, Deaver explained to Shots magazine, “I wanted to create a Sherlock Holmes-ian kind of character that uses his mind rather than his body. He solves crimes by thinking about the crimes, rather than someone who can shoot straight, run faster, or walk into the bar and trick people into giving away the clues.”
As for his reputation for conjuring up some of the most unsavory scenes in pop crime fiction, Deaver admits on his web site, “In general, I think, less is more, and that if a reader stops reading because a book is too icky then I’ve failed in my obligation to the readers.”

Good To Know
Deaver revises his manuscripts “at least 20 or 30 times” before his publishers get to even see a version.
Two of his books have been made into major feature films. The first was A Maiden’s Grave (the film adaptation was called Dead Silence), which starred James Garner and Marlee Matlin. The Bone Collectorcame next, starring Denzel Washington and Angelina Jolie.
In addition to being a bestselling novelist, Deaver has also been a folksinger, songwriter, music researcher, and professional poet.
Deaver’s younger sister, Julie Reece Deaver, is a fellow author who writes novels for young adults.
In our interview with Deaver, he reveals, “My inspiration for writing is the reader. I want to give readers whatever will excite and please them. It’s absolutely vital in this business for authors to know their audience and to write with them in mind.”

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A Review of Dead Money Run (Lou Malloy Crime Series Book 1) by J. Frank James

Dead Money Run

by J. Frank James

Dead Money Run is an odd book. It is written from the point of view of a convicted robber, Lou Malloy. He gets out of jail and wants his stashed money. He also wants to find out who tortured and then killed his sister. He doesn’t mind performing some torture of his own trying to get the information that he needs. Lou Malloy says that he only kills the people who deserve it, but that stack of bodies gets pretty large.

Dead Money Run feels like a comic book. The characters are what you would expect to find in one of those unrated crime comics. None of them feel real, they are one-dimensional. The story is the same. It’s fun and exciting, but not very realistic. So does that make Dead Money Run a bad book? No, not at all. Just be aware of the fact that this is a bit over-the top, and that you won’t disappointed. Everyone needs a little flat-out escapism once in a while.

I give Dead Money Run 3 Stars out of 5. It’s not bad, but it isn’t great either. If you see it on Amazon for cheap, grab it for a few hours of fun.

I received an eBook from the publisher.

Book Description

Dead Money RunLou Malloy has just maxed out on a fifteen year prison sentence for the theft of $15 million and just before leaving prison he learns that his sister is brutally killed. As he is leaving prison, he’s told to keep his nose clean or he would soon be back. As far as Malloy is concerned all bets were off until he finds his sister’s killer. In the meantime, he has to fight off predators trying to get their hands on the money he stole and keep from being sent back to prison trying to protect those dear to him. He catches a break when he meets up with Hilary Kelly, a private investigator with an agenda of her own. She has been hired by the insurance company that paid on the theft claim of the money stolen from the casino by Malloy.

In the course of events, Malloy and Kelly become more than just friends and Kelly decides to throw in with Malloy. Together they work to uncover exactly what happened to Malloy’s sister and why. Their search involves a vicious gang led by a vengeful old man and his crazy son who has his own problems keeping his hands off other women. To make matters worse, Malloy and Kelly’s search is complicated by the fact that Malloy’s sister was really a special agent with the Department of Homeland Security and she was working undercover when she was killed trying to locate the whereabouts of special plates to produce counterfeit currency and that if the plates end up in the wrong hands, whole banking systems of major foreign countries could collapse overnight.

As Malloy and Kelly race to find the killer of Malloy’s sister, they enlist the help of Crusher, a pro wrestler who served in the cell next to Malloy at the Atlanta Penitentiary. The decision is made for Malloy and Company to hit the same casino again that Malloy robbed fifteen years ago by a special ops unit of the Department of Homeland Security. The plan is complicated by the fact that the ops unit is a phony setup led by a former agent turned rogue who is backed by another vicious gang with international contacts intent on getting their hands on the missing money plates. Malloy decides to go through with the heist of the casino a second time, but on a different schedule than planned. If they don’t make it they have no way to return to the real world. They are in a make or break it race. Read as they race to the finish line and learn if this where the run ends or the run begins….

Book Details

File Size: 703 KB
Print Length: 302 pages
Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
Publisher: J. Frank James LLC; 1 edition (August 12, 2013)
Publication Date: August 12, 2013
Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
Language: English
ASIN: B00EJ7108G
Text-to-Speech: Enabled
X-Ray:
Not Enabled
Word Wise: Enabled
Lending: Enabled

About the Author

Jim began his career in writing by first securing a BS degree in Journalism and a BS degree in Advertising from the University of Florida College of Journalism. While in school, he worked for the Gainesville Sun as a reporter, photographer and plate maker and several of his news stories were picked up by the Associated Press. From there Jim attended law school, obtained a Doctorate of Law. While in Law School he was a member of the law review and published an article as a member there.

As a self-taught artist and rug designer concentrating on endangered species, Jim has displayed his art in several galleries, such as in Booth Bay Gallery, Booth Bay, Maine; The Goodyear Cottage On Jekyll Island, GA (where he had a one man show); Blue Frog Gallery, Atlanta, GA; Glynn Art Ass’n, St. Simon’s Island, GA and now McIntosh Art Ass’n, Darien, GA. Working in acrylics, his work is bold, fun and inspiring. His prints are limited editions on both paper and stretched canvas.

To date, Jim has published four novels under the pen name J. Frank James in honor of his Father who was killed in World War Two. Jim lives in Atlanta with his lovely wife, Lorraine, and their seventy-five pound boxer named Jake.

His books are centered around two protagonists named Lou Malloy and Hilary Kelly as special agents of the Department of Homeland Security, they seem to attract trouble on a regular basis. Jim hopes you enjoy following them from one hot spot to another.

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A Review of The Ultimatum: A Jeremy Fisk Novel by Dick Wolf

The Ultimatum: A Jeremy Fisk Novel

by Dick Wolf

This is the third book in this series, but I’ve only read two of them. That wasn’t a problem, but it would have been more satisfying if I had read both of the previous books. I felt like I was just a little out of the loop, but at least I had read the first book, so I knew what the basic premise of the NYPD Intelligence Division was. If you are just jumping into the series, you may be a bit puzzled.

Mr. Wolf has written a fast-paced, exciting mystery thriller. The book has a very visual feel, nearly like you are watching a movie or TV show. The characters are developing as the series goes on, but still feel a little flat. There are enough plot twists and puzzles to satisfy any fan of the genre, but it seems like Detective Jeremy Fisk comes up with solutions much too easily. They seem more from luck or divine intervention than real investigative ability, and there is just something about him that bugs me. I don’t know why, but I just don’t really like him.

If you have read the previous books in the series, I’m sure that you will enjoy this book. If you haven’t, go ahead and jump in, but if you feel a bit confused, go back and read The Intercept, that will make it clearer. I did enjoy this book. It kept me reading late into the night, and I think that I will try to read The Execution, just so I am up to speed on this series.

I give The Ultimatum 4 Stars out of 5, and recommend it to anyone who likes fast-paced mystery thrillers based in New York City.

I received A Digital Review Copy from the publisher.

Book Description

The Ultimatum Dick WolfDetective Jeremy Fisk tracks a serial sniper who has mastered state-of-the-art airborne technology to hunt his prey in this chilling thriller from the New York Times bestselling author and creator of the Law & Order franchise.

When a leaker named Verlyn Merritt releases sensitive documents from the NYPD Intelligence Division to WikiLeaks, some of the deadliest criminals have access to Detective Jeremy Fisk’s unlisted home address. Within hours, three mysterious assailants arrive at his Sutton Place apartment. Who are they and why do they want Fisk dead?

Authorities quickly identify and arrest Merritt. But the case takes a sinister twist when an anonymous third-party makes threats if authorities don’t release Merritt immediately. Forced from his home and his bank accounts drained, Fisk confronts Chay Maryland, a reporter who has been covering Merritt’s case. Fisk wants the journalist’s help to get close to the leaker—to find out what Merritt really wants and who else is involved.

The investigation is nearly derailed when a serial sniper begins shooting people on the street who seem to have no connection to Merritt’s case. The killer’s aim is eerily accurate—and Fisk believes the shooter might be using a drone rigged with unusual sighting capabilities. Then the sniper contacts the New York Times and promises to kill one person every day, “for the greater good of the citizens of America.

With the clock ticking and millions of lives at stake, Fisk and Chay must find the mastermind before he can wreak havoc on a city paralyzed by fear.

Book Details

Series: Jeremy Fisk
Hardcover: 352 pages
Publisher: William Morrow (June 16, 2015)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0062286838
ISBN-13: 978-0062286833
Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.1 x 9 inches
Shipping Weight: 14.1 ounces

About the Author

Dick Wolf
Photo by MMXII James Chen Photographer, Santa Barbara

Richard Anthony “Dick” Wolf is an American producer, specializing in crime dramas such as Miami Vice and the Law & Order franchise. Throughout his career he has won several awards including an Emmy Award and a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Wolf worked as an advertising copywriter at Benton & Bowles creating commercials for Crest toothpaste, all the while writing screenplays in the hopes of a film career. It was at this time that he briefly collaborated on a screenplay with Oliver Stone, who was also a struggling screenwriter at the time. He moved to Los Angeles after a few years and had three screenplays produced; one of these films, Masquerade starring Rob Lowe and Meg Tilly, was well received. He started his television career as a staff writer on Hill Street Blues and was nominated for his first Emmy for an episode (entitled “What Are Friends For?”) on which he was the only writer. He moved from there to Miami Vice, where he was a supervising producer.

Wolf’s Law & Order, which ran from 1990 to 2010, tied Gunsmoke for the longest-running dramatic show in television history, making it one of television’s most successful franchises. It has been nominated for the most consecutive Emmy Awards of any primetime drama series. Wolf serves as creator and executive producer of the two current Law & Order drama series from Wolf Films and NBC Universal Television – Law & Order: Special Victims Unit and Law & Order: UK – and did so for the three that have been cancelled – Law & Order: Criminal Intent, Law & Order: Trial by Jury and Law & Order: Los Angeles. In addition, he was the creator and executive producer of NBC’s courtroom reality series Crime & Punishment, which chronicled real-life cases prosecuted by the San Diego District Attorney’s office.

Wolf’s company also produced Twin Towers, the 2003 Academy Award-winning Short Documentary about two brothers, one a policeman and the other a fireman, who lost their lives in the line of duty on September 11, 2001. Wolf was also involved with the production of a theatrical documentary about the popular rock group The Doors, titled When You’re Strange.

Wolf’s personal honors include the Award of Excellence from the Banff Television Festival, the 2002 Creative Achievement Award from NATPE; the Anti-Defamation League’s Distinguished Entertainment Industry Award, the Leadership and Inspiration Award from the Entertainment Industries Council, the Governor’s Award by the New York Chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, the 1997 achievement award from the Caucus for Producers, Writers, and Directors, the 1998 Television Showman of the Year Award from the Publicists Guild of America, the 2002 Tribute from the Museum of Television and Radio, and a 2003 Special Edgar Award from the Mystery Writers of America.

Wolf is also an Honorary Consul general of Monaco and is actively involved in the principality’s prestigious annual Television Festival, and is its primary liaison with the entertainment community.

On March 29, 2007, Wolf received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 7040 Hollywood Boulevard.

In addition to having been a classmate of former US President George W. Bush, Wolf was an employer of Fred Thompson, who sought the Republican nomination for President in 2008 with help of the national attention he gained playing the district attorney on Law & Order. Wolf supported Thompson in his bid, as he did Bush, as it has been reported that he contributed money to Thompson even before he officially announced he was running.

Wolf was credited with “Special Thanks” for the episode “Basic Lupine Urology” from “Season 3″ of NBC’s “Community”, an homage to the style of his Law and Order series.

Wolf developed Chicago Fire, a drama about a group of men and women working at the Chicago Fire Department. The series was picked up by NBC in May 2012, and premiered on October 10, 2012, with meek numbers in the ratings and minimal reviews.

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A Review of The Truth According to Us: A Novel by Annie Barrows

The Truth According to Us: A Novel

by Annie Barrows

I enjoyed this book a lot more than I thought that I would. I don’t normally read books like this. When I read the blurb, I thought that The Truth According to Us might be worthwhile reading, and I was right.

Ms. Barrows takes us back to Depression era West Virginia. She tells a story of Layla Beck, the daughter of a U.S. Senator, who won’t do as her father demands, and is therefore cut off and forced onto welfare. She has never had to work a day in her life, but her uncle gets her a job working as a writer for the Federal Writers’ Project. Layla is assigned the task of writing the history of Macedonia, West Virginia in honor of their sesquicentennial. She moves into a boarding house run by Jottie Romeyn.

The Romeyn family play a large role in this book. The Truth According to Us is told from the points of view of Layla and some of the Romeyn family, mainly Jottie and Willa (the twelve-year-old daughter of Felix Romeyn).

Layla is finding out that history isn’t just black and white facts, but depends upon the point of view of the teller. She discovers that everybody remembers things differently, and a lot of people lie. They lie to themselves as well as to everyone else.

Layla falls for Felix Romeyn, which starts to color her view of the town’s history. Jottie longs for a proper life for her and Felix’s two daughters, but she still pines for her high school sweetheart, who died in a fire under suspicious circumstances. Willa is growing up and trying to discover what life is all about. She is on a mission to find out the truth about her father and to protect him and her Aunt Jottie from that truth. Everything is intertwined.

The Truth According to Us is a book that grew on me as I read it. The author developed the characters and the story together in a twisted web of truth and lies, love and love lost, told in a setting of a real life struggle during The Great Depression. Ms. Barrows knows how make her characters come alive.

I give The Truth According to Us 4 1/2 Stars out of 5, and A Big Thumbs Up! If you are ready to take a break form a constant diet of Thrillers and Mysteries, I highly recommend this book. I quite enjoyed it, much more than I had expected.

I received an Advanced Reader’s Copy from the publisher.

Book Description

The Truth According to UsFrom the co-author of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society comes a wise, witty, and exuberant novel, perfect for fans of Lee Smith, that illuminates the power of loyalty and forgiveness, memory and truth, and the courage it takes to do what’s right. 

Annie Barrows once again evokes the charm and eccentricity of a small town filled with extraordinary characters. Her new novel, The Truth According to Us, brings to life an inquisitive young girl, her beloved aunt, and the alluring visitor who changes the course of their destiny forever.

In the summer of 1938, Layla Beck’s father, a United States senator, cuts off her allowance and demands that she find employment on the Federal Writers’ Project, a New Deal jobs program. Within days, Layla finds herself far from her accustomed social whirl, assigned to cover the history of the remote mill town of Macedonia, West Virginia, and destined, in her opinion, to go completely mad with boredom. But once she secures a room in the home of the unconventional Romeyn family, she is drawn into their complex world and soon discovers that the truth of the town is entangled in the thorny past of the Romeyn dynasty.

At the Romeyn house, twelve-year-old Willa is desperate to learn everything in her quest to acquire her favorite virtues of ferocity and devotion—a search that leads her into a thicket of mysteries, including the questionable business that occupies her charismatic father and the reason her adored aunt Jottie remains unmarried. Layla’s arrival strikes a match to the family veneer, bringing to light buried secrets that will tell a new tale about the Romeyns. As Willa peels back the layers of her family’s past, and Layla delves deeper into town legend, everyone involved is transformed—and their personal histories completely rewritten.

Book Details

Hardcover: 512 pages
Publisher: The Dial Press (June 9, 2015)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0385342942
ISBN-13: 978-0385342940
Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.6 x 9.5 inches
Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds

About the Author

Photo: © Amy Perl Photography
Photo: © Amy Perl Photography

Annie Barrows was born in 1962 in San Diego, California, but quickly moved to a small town called San Anselmo in the San Francisco Bay Area. She spent most of her childhood at the library. She wouldn’t leave, so they hired her to shelve books at the age of twelve.

Annie attended UC Berkeley and received a B. A. in Medieval History. She knows more than the average person about 3rd century saints. Under the impression that a career in publishing meant she’d get to read a lot, Annie became a proofreader at an art magazine and later an editor at a textbook publishing company. In 1988, Chronicle Books hired Annie as an editorial assistant, from which platform she became successively assistant editor, managing editor, Editor, and Senior Editor. Somewhere in this trajectory, she acquired Griffin & Sabine, Chronicle’s first New York Times best seller.

In 1996, Annie received her Masters of Fine Arts in Creative Writing from Mills College and had a baby, a confluence of events that persuaded her to leave editorial work and move into writing. She wrote several non-fiction books on topics ranging from fortune-telling to opera before turning her attention to children’s books. In 2006, the first book in her children’s series, Ivy + Bean was published. This title, an ALA Notable Book for 2007, was followed by nine others. The Ivy + Bean series appears with some regularity on the New York Times best-seller list and a number of other national best-seller lists. The Ivy + Bean books have been translated into fourteen languages; in 2013 Ivy + Bean: The Musical premiered in the San Francisco Bay Area. A novel for older children, The Magic Half, was published by BloomsburyUSA in 2008. Its sequel, Magic in the Mix, came out in 2014.

In addition to her children’s books, Annie is the co-author, with her aunt Mary Ann Shaffer, of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, which was published by The Dial Press in 2008. A New York Times best-seller, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society has been published in thirty-seven countries and thirty-two languages.

Annie lives in Northern California with her husband and two daughters.

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Kickstarter for The Angel at the Devil’s Gate Starts Today!

Picture close_2I’m Mocha, author of a psychological suspense, which I have hopes of raising funding for through Kickstarter to publish. My novel is about Eli Nunn, a troubled teen who is moved back to Kansas City following the aftermath of a violent drug deal. Returning to a school where his ruthless reputation still thrives, Eli encounters and instantly connects with Angel, a beautiful and mysterious black-clad orphan. Their flourishing romance begins to grow darker when Eli learns details of Angel’s chilling past. Conflicted with alarm and intrigue, Eli accepts a proposal from Angel that puts both their relationship and lives in danger.

Novel_Mock_Up The concept for my novel came while watching an all-day marathon of true crime investigations on the ID channel. After a few episodes, I knew I wanted to write a novel based around an organized murder, however, I did want to the novel’s lead to be a detective who is trying to solve the murder. I wanted the protagonists to be the murderers.
What is Kickstarter? Kickstarter is a crowd-funding site that helps creative projects, such as films, music, and literature, become a reality rather than a dream. Following its launch in 2009, the company has helped fund over 200,000 projects. With 22 million dollars going into publishing projects, backers have successfully made them the third most funded projects on Kickstarter in 2014.

The best thing about Kickstarter is that the people who donate money to a project will receive rewards as a “thank you” from the project’s creator. All the backers who donate to my project will receive my novel in one of its various formats. Among other rewards, I’ll be giving away posters, bookmarks postcards, interviews, and the upper-level backers will receive my next novel upon its completion.

Why Kickstarter? Kickstarter is an ideal option for authors who want to take the self-publishing route but do not have the finances to give their novel a real shot in an over-crowded industry. A lot of money goes into producing a successful self-published novel. Not only are professional copy-editors and designers essential but they can also be expensive. One of the key elements to a self-published novel’s success is visibility. Without your novel actually being visible and easy to find on the market, the chances of it finding the eyes of readers are very slim. How do you make your novel visible? Promotion. Social media campaigning, Google Search Program, Press Releases and NetGalley (a book reviewing site used by publishing insiders) are among the tools that can help promote a novel and find its audience, and like copy-editors and designers, they can be expensive.

My goal is to raise $6,500 to cover all production and promotional cost as well as the cost to print my novel and to ship it along with all the rewards to my backers. If my project becomes overfunded, I plan to add more rewards for my backers, and depending on how overfunded I am, I’d love to an audio version of my novel.

My project will be live from June 1st – July 10th. If you have any questions or concerns, I’d love to hear from you. Send me a tweet @Mocha_Writer. If you’d like to learn more about my project, I’d love for you to drop by my Kickstarter page, you can also contact me on there.

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