Sunday, September 21, 2014


Yes, today is Stephen King's 67th birthday!

The incredible Mr. King was born in Portland, ME. His parents divorced when he was a toddler. Stephen and his older brother lived with their mother after their parents' separation. They lived for a time in Indiana and Connecticut, but his mother eventually moved Stephen and his older brother to Durham, Maine for good.

Stephen married his wife, Tabitha, in January 1971. They survived the early years on his salary as a laborer at an industrial laundry and Tabitha's student loans and savings. The occasional sale of his short stories to men's magazines helped their income as well.

Doubleday & Co. accepted the novel Carrie for publication in the spring of 1973. Major paperback sales of Carrie were enough for Stephen to leave teaching and become a full-time writer. The rest, as they say, is history.

To read his full biography, you can visit his official website here, which is where I garnered the above information.

Upcoming Television Appearances:

Stephen King will appear on the season two opener of Finding Your Roots, which airs on PBS. We've provided you with the preview below.


In honor of the brilliant horror-master's birthday, we're hosting a giveaway in his honor. The giveaway will end on 9/27 at 11:59 p.m. The prize will be a Stephen King novel valued up to $25 USD.

The winner will be randomly chosen and contacted on 9/28. If the winner fails to respond within 48 hours, then another winner will be randomly chosen in his/her place.

Good luck!

Friday, September 19, 2014

Q&A with Paolo Giordano, author of THE HUMAN BODY

1.)  Much of The Solitude of Prime Numbers came from your background as a theoretical physicist, yet THE HUMAN BODY centers on a very different landscape: a battalion of soldiers at war. How were you able to tap into the mindset of these characters and paint them as realistically as the characters in your first book?

I was in Afghanistan twice as an embedded journalist in the Italian Army, in December 2010 and December 2011. These experiences, though short, were enough for me to grasp the details I needed about military life, about the conflict (of which I didn’t fully know beforehand) and about the place. The point is that these details are always the easiest part in a novel. What is truly difficult, in any kind of story, is to build real, living characters.
Because there are many characters in the book, this process took many months, and I think I approached it in a very similar way to The Solitude Of Prime Numbers. I tried to give to each soldier a part of my own personality and a few of my memories and developed him/her starting from those. I’m not sure whether the result is a complete and faithful picture of people serving in the Army, but for sure it is a wide picture of the currents that flow inside of me – a sort of spectral analysis of my inner self.

2.) How do most Italians feel about their country’s involvement in Afghanistan? How did that shape the way you wanted to tell this story?

Most Italians—and I was among them before thinking of this book—are simply detached from the mission in Afghanistan. There is a sort of collective removal about the conflict, though we have many soldiers involved in it, and though this war has been going on for more than ten years now. The overall feeling is that we shouldn’t be there at all and that the mission hasn’t brought any meaningful result, but there is no real discussion about it—the issue is simply avoided, unless in the 24 hours after the loss of an Italian soldier. This sort of indifference involves the military life as a whole: only the people involved seem to care about it. I live very close to these big barracks in Turin, surrounded by high walls. I used to go jogging in the park nearby and, until I started thinking of this book, I didn’t ask myself what happened inside there—it was something that didn’t concern me at all.

3.) What spurred your decision to write about the soldiers in your novel? Did you have past military experience?

No direct experience. The military service in Italy is not mandatory anymore and I would have hated doing it at eighteen years old. Ten years later, though, I realized that I had some sort of longing for a time spent among people of my same age, a longing for a collective experience (still, not for weapons). Life driven by studies doesn’t provide many occasions for living among others like you (in Italy we seldom spend the college years in campuses etc.). Also, by the time I decided to do my first trip to Afghanistan, I felt a mysterious attraction towards war. I’d just read The Naked And The Dead by Norman Mailer and couldn’t figure out what exactly in that book struck me so much. I had to go there and find out.

4.) Similar to the characters in The Solitude of Prime Numbers, many of the characters in THE HUMAN BODY are outsiders, shy or introverted, which contrast with the “alpha-male” stereotype of a soldier. What draws you to characters that are sometimes socially awkward and not comfortable in their own skin?

There are also a few alpha-males in the novel. But that’s, as you suggest, a stereotype and literature should always avoid stereotypes (or play with them). I met many different people in the Army, but most of them were more of the introvert kind. I had the feeling that many young boys ended up there, looking for a way out of something—families, the places where they grew up in. I think they were looking for a shelter, more than fighting. I found this very moving and very close to my own sensibility. That’s basically what drove me to write about them—I could very easily imagine myself in their shoes.

5.) THE HUMAN BODY has already drawn some impressive comparisons to the great war stories of the last century—Lawrence in Arabia author Scott Anderson cited Heller’s Catch-22 as an apt comparison. Do you think writing about war has changed as the nature of war itself has changed?

That’s very flattering, thank you. War narrations still share many aspects, I think. I experienced that, once you decide to place a story in war, you are no longer completely free. It’s like the spirit of war itself comes into it and drives part of the work. But, of course, there are specifics about these so called “new wars.” They are way more similar to the First World War than to the Second or to the Vietnam War, that produced so much of the recent literature both in Europe and in the U.S. That’s why I chose an extract from Erich Maria Remarque’s Nothing New On The Western Front for the opening of the novel. These are basically still conflicts, not much action in them. Soldiers wait and wait for an enemy that’s almost invisible. Most casualties are due to explosions etc. This reminds a lot of the cruelty of the First World War. The lack of confrontation with the enemy and the fact that these wars are fought in deserts make them psychologically sneaky. And that offers new interesting challenges to a writer, I guess.

6.) The majority of THE HUMAN BODY is written in the omniscient third person, which closely follows members of third platoon, Charlie Company. In a few chapters, however, the point of view changes, and is narrated from the perspective of Lieutenant Alessandro Egitto, a medical officer. What is it about this character and his story that prompted you to switch the narrative focus?

After one year of work on the novel, I felt very immersed in the place and in the characters, but Afghanistan and the idea of war felt a little too abstract to me, like I wasn’t yet getting to their core. I needed a direct connection between my everyday life and the conflict. That’s how the first person of Lieutenant Egitto came in. Once I started using it, I realized that there are so many little wars we fight also in our own lives—within families, within groups of any kind, and also against ourselves—and that these wars have the very same dynamics of the big ones: alliances, ambushes, betrayals, etc. We know war much better than we are willing to admit. The voice of Egitto was the bridge I constructed between Afghanistan and Europe. I guess I wanted the reader to feel overwhelmed by that distant war, in order to re-establish the missing participation.

7.) In the last few years, modern war novels and story collections like Ben Fountain’s
Billy Lynn's Half-Time Walk, Kevin Powers’s The Yellow Birds, and Phil Klay’s Redeployment have not only garnered critical acclaim, but were hits with readers world-wide. In your opinion, what is it about the Iraq/Afghanistan wars that are drawing so many writers to explore them? And, in your opinion, how does THE HUMAN BODY add to this conversation?

It’s way different here in Europe, where the attention to war is very low. As I already said, I’m afraid that we’ve lost our connection to war, which was so relevant in the literature of the last century (I’m thinking of Calvino, Pavese, Fenoglio and Levi, only to name a few Italian authors). I think writers are understanding that such a loss is very dangerous, because it’s right when you forget about war that one gets started again. Many books came out in Spain and in France on the subject in the last couple of years. I think there is a common feeling that it’s up to us writers to rebuild a conscience about war. Also, I’m convinced that each war deserves its own novel. Not only: each side of each war deserves its own novel, because that’s the only way to build an everlasting memory of such a crucial moment. I don’t know what The Human Body can add to this all. I hope it may at least be interesting for the American readers to understand a European perspective on the conflict that we’re both involved into. The American version has been way more explored than ours, but there are differences, I think.

8.) What do you want to write about next?

A new novel has just come out in Italy. It’s called Il nero e l’argento (The Black And The Silver). It’s the story of a young couple with an only child and of the old maid who’s worked with them for many years. This lady, called La signora A. (Ms. A.) takes care of everything and is a sort of witness and strong reference for the couple, but she gets sick of cancer and has to leave them. The novel follows the last year of La signora A. and the consequent difficulties that the young family has when it ends up alone. It’s a small story, very intimate, and I hope it will soon be available in the U.S.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

{Book Spotlight} LASTING SUMMER by Kailin Gow

Lasting Summer by Kalin Gow
Book #5 - Loving Summer series
New Adult Romance

Summer Jones thought she lost Nat Donovan, the boy she had always had a crush on since she could remember, when he went off on a mission to find his father, the founder and CEO of Donovan Dynamics, the billion dollar security and intelligence corporation who is now protecting her from the stalker who has attempted to kill her twice. 

He had always been her rock, had always been there for her, but now Nat has disappeared. According to Donovan Dynamics, it was for good.

Could Summer continue on? Could Nat's playboy one-night stand legend brother Drew Donovan live up to Nat's legacy as the family's perfect son, as the one who could eventually run Donovan Dynamics? With Nat gone, could he finally get Summer to commit to him with all her heart and soul?

All the secrets, all the heartaches, come out in Lasting Summer as the Donovans and Summer learn to deal with the truth about Nat, Drew, and Summer that will test each others' love to each other and to family.

Lasting Summer is part of the Loving Summer Series appropriate for age 18+.

Add to Goodreads:


Check out Book 1 in the series

Loving Summer
Barnes & Noble

About Kalin Gow
Kailin Gow uses her author platform to bring awareness to issues affecting young adult and women. She has appeared on national radio as a regular guest on topics such as body image, self-esteem, dating and sexual relationships, bullying, and more; often brought up in her fiction books for young adults and women. 

She is a graduate of the Annenberg School for Communications Masters in Management program in journalism, marketing and publishing at the University of Southern California.

An ALA YALSA Reader's Choice Nominated Author for her YA series, Frost Series, in 2011, she is also a speaker at BEA, and multi-author signing event organizer for the popular Rockin' Events. 

Having traveled to over 25 countries, lived in the American South, in California, Las Vegas, and briefly in England; Kailin Gow feels blessed to be able to use her experiences and inspirations to bring characters and stories from the places she visit, to life.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

{Review} THE REACH OF THE BANYAN TREE by Mark W. Sasse

ISBN #: 978-1499713008
Page Count: 300
Copyright: June 16, 2014
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform

(Taken from back cover)

Chip Carson intends to marry a young Vietnamese woman named Thuy until a tragic accident forever alters the outlook of their relationship. As he struggles to cope with their strained love, a mysterious stranger appears, bearing a journal about Chip’s grandfather who parachuted into French Indochina at the end of World War II. As the words of the journal reveal a life that Chip never knew, he begins to understand the depth of love and sacrifice needed in order to have a second chance with Thuy.

In a moving work of sweeping scope, The Reach Of The Banyan Tree explores themes of love versus loyalty, desire verses duty, destiny versus fate, and family versus the individual - illuminating the familial ties that either bind us together or tear us apart.

Charlene's Review:

Chip Carson, eager to escape his controlling father, moves to Vietnam . Once there, he meets Thuy, a Vietnamese girl, and they fall in love. Tragedy strikes, and Chip finds himself in jail, where a mysterious man brings him a journal that connects him to his past, and reveals a link to the beautiful land of Vietnam. As time passes, and Chip faces the law of an unforgiving and corrupt government, generations of men come together and test The Reach Of The Banyan Tree.

In the foreword, Mr. Sasse writes of the banyan tree: "A banyan tree sees all, knows all, and keeps many secrets. It knows a time of bondage and a time of freedom. Its reach never stops; it keeps growing and expanding regardless of circumstances, regardless of difficulties. Time and destiny are on its side. In the end, the grands banyan tree, with its thirty-foot expanse, will once again sense order restored to the universe." In the evolving story of Chip, his father, and grandfather in The Reach Of The Banyan Tree, the reader will see World War II Vietnam, and present-day Vietnam, and how each generation spreads its shadow onto the next.

Mr. Sasse's love of Vietnam and its splendor paints a realistic backdrop for the story. I could almost feel the dirt on my feet, and the humid air on my face. The conflict between the cultures, and the ensuing heartbreak were palpable, as we look behind the scenes and experience the characters emotions. There is not a detail left out to detract from this sensational story.

Weaving together a love story with intrigue, action, and historical fiction, this is a beautiful book by a gifted author that has something for everyone.. Most accurately, a familial tale, it teaches the reader of the roots that ground us, the shelter of our forefathers, and the expanse of our actions over further generations.

5 out of 5 stars!

*A physical copy of this book was provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014


File Size: 1683 KB
Page Count: 239
Copyright: January 14, 2014

Book Description:
(Taken from Amazon)

Wine, romance, and French bureaucracy - the ups and downs of an American's life in Paris. This laugh-out-loud memoir is almost too funny to be true!

Drinking too much bubbly. Meeting sappy Frenchmen who have girlfriends or are creeps or both. Encountering problème after problème with French bureaucracy. When newly-single party girl Vicki moved to Paris, she was hoping to taste wine, stuff her face with croissants, and maybe fall in love.

In her first book, this cheeky storyteller and semi-professional drinker recounts the ups and downs of her life in Paris. Full of sass, shamefully honest admissions, and situations that seem too absurd to be true, Vicki makes you feel as if you're stumbling along the cobblestones with her.

Will she find love? Will she learn to consume reasonable amounts of alcohol? Will the French administration ever cut her a break?

Mandy's Review:

I accepted this book for review because I thought it'd actually be hilarious. I was looking forward to laughing so much my stomach hurt and I'd be crying from not being able to stop. Sorry, but, didn't happen. There were moments where I did actually laugh or emitted a chuckle. They were few though. I'm thinking this is because I've not been across the pond and haven't experienced Parisian life. I've heard the French are a bit snobbish. Perhaps one day I'll make it a point to go over there and see what the fuss is about.

Confessions of a Paris Party Girl reads like someone's blog posts, which is where I'm guessing this material came from. There's absolutely nothing wrong with that. It lends an air of personality and reality to the book, which is sometimes missing from novels. I appreciated that. Vicki's snarkiness was something I could relate to since I'm a huge fan of, and often use, snark and sarcasm.

No, this book wasn't as funny as I'd anticipated, but it wasn't bad either. It does give you a very informative view of how an expat would endure various situations in Paris. So, while this wasn't a favorite of mine, I think it would be enjoyable for those who've experienced Paris.

*An ecopy was provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.
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