LIFE IS LIKE A MUSICAL by Tim Federle

timfedBefore Tim Federle became a bestselling author and a Broadway playwright, he worked as a back-up dancer at the Super Bowl, a polar bear at Radio City, and a card-carrying chorus boy on Broadway. Life is Life a Musical features 50 tips learned backstage, onstage, and in between gigs, with chapters such as “Dance Like Everyone’s Watching” and “Save the Drama for the Stage.” This charming and clever guide will appeal to all ages and inspire readers to step into the lead role of their own life, even if they’re not a recovering theater major.*

I got an ARC of LIFE IS LIKE A MUSICAL at BookCon last month and, I’m going to be honest, I didn’t know a thing about this book except the title and the author when I got in line for a copy. It’s the author that hooked me – I read Tim Federle’s GREAT AMERICAN WHATEVER last year and fell in love with his writing.  Continue reading

Poisonfeather by Matthew FitzSimmons

poisonfeather.jpgWhen jailed billionaire Charles Merrick hints publicly that he has stashed a fortune in an offshore cache, a school of sharks converges upon his release from federal prison.

Among his swindled victims is Judge Hammond Birk, the man who saved Gibson Vaughn’s life when he was a troubled teenager. Now Gibson intends to repay that debt by recovering Merrick’s victims’ money.

But Gibson isn’t the only one on the trail of the hidden fortune.

The promise of billions has drawn a horde of ruthless treasure hunters, including an edgy ex-con, a female bartender with a mysterious history, a Chinese spy with a passion for fly-fishing, and a veritable army of hardened mercenaries. To stay ahead of the sharks and win justice for his mentor, Gibson will need all his formidable skills. But at the end of the road, he’ll still have to face “Poisonfeather”—a geopolitical secret that just might get Gibson killed…or worse.*

POISONFEATHER is book two in the Gibson Vaughn series (the first book being THE SHORT DROP) and I was lucky enough to have gotten my hands on a copy before its October 4 pub date! I was hooked on Matthew FitzSimmons’s writing all over again right from the first paragraph. He has a talent for putting the reader directly in the same place as the character–I began to feel a little claustrophobic and unclean, as though I were in the prison with Charles Merrick. Continue reading

A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin

game of thrones.jpgLong ago, in a time forgotten, a preternatural event threw the seasons out of balance. In a land where summers can last decades and winters a lifetime, trouble is brewing. The cold is returning, and in the frozen wastes to the north of Winterfell, sinister forces are massing beyond the kingdom’s protective Wall. To the south, the king’s powers are failing—his most trusted adviser dead under mysterious circumstances and his enemies emerging from the shadows of the throne. At the center of the conflict lie the Starks of Winterfell, a family as harsh and unyielding as the frozen land they were born to. Now Lord Eddard Stark is reluctantly summoned to serve as the king’s new Hand, an appointment that threatens to sunder not only his family but the kingdom itself.

Sweeping from a harsh land of cold to a summertime kingdom of epicurean plenty, A Game of Thrones tells a tale of lords and ladies, soldiers and sorcerers, assassins and bastards, who come together in a time of grim omens. Here an enigmatic band of warriors bear swords of no human metal; a tribe of fierce wildlings carry men off into madness; a cruel young dragon prince barters his sister to win back his throne; a child is lost in the twilight between life and death; and a determined woman undertakes a treacherous journey to protect all she holds dear. Amid plots and counter-plots, tragedy and betrayal, victory and terror, allies and enemies, the fate of the Starks hangs perilously in the balance, as each side endeavors to win that deadliest of conflicts: the game of thrones.*

…I can’t believe it’s been so long since I’ve posted anything here! I got into a bit of a reading rut and when I finally snapped out of it, I ended up choosing to read a book that took a little over two weeks to get through. It feels so good to be back to writing, even if it is just a review. I’m going to spend Thursday getting myself back into the routine of writing draft number three of my baby (the novel I started when I was 17) and just getting myself back to myself in general because I’ve been feeling really off kilter for the last week or so. It’s been a gradual process of reincorporating healthy eating, weight lifting and cardio, and yoga (nothing makes me feel as good as inversions and arm balances) into my daily routine; all that’s really left is reorganizing my room and making time for my art. I also have to give a lot of credit to my friends for snapping me out of the mental rut I was in without even knowing it. I couldn’t possibly ask to have better people in my life than the ones I’ve been blessed with. Continue reading

The Decent Proposal by Kemper Donovan

the decent proposalAn addictively readable debut romantic comedy, drama, and mystery rolled into one, about two very different strangers whose lives become intertwined when they receive an unusual proposition. This is a funny, tender, and enchanting story about love, attraction, and friendship: Jane Austen in Los Angeles.

A struggling Hollywood producer, Richard Baumbach is twenty-nine, hung-over, and broke. Ridiculously handsome with an innate charm and an air of invincibility, he still believes good things will come his way. For now he contents himself with days at the Coffee Bean and nights with his best friend Mike (that’s a woman, by the way).

At thirty-three, Elizabeth Santiago is on track to make partner at her law firm. Known as “La Máquina” The Machine—to her colleagues, she’s grown used to avoiding anything that might derail her quiet, orderly life. And yet recently she befriended a homeless man in her Venice neighborhood, surprised to find how much she enjoys their early-morning chats. Continue reading

These Heroic, Happy Dead by Luke Mogelson

mogelson2.jpgWith his harrowing debut, Luke Mogelson provides an unsentimental, unflinching glimpse into the lives of those forever changed by war. Subtle links between these ten powerful stories magnify the consequences of combat for both soldiers and civilians, as the violence experienced abroad echoes through their lives in America.

Troubled veterans first introduced as criminals in “To the Lake” and “Visitors” are shown later in “New Guidance” and “Kids,” during the deployments that shaped their futures. A seemingly minor soldier in “New Guidance” becomes the protagonist of “A Human Cry,” where his alienation from society leads to a shocking confrontation. The fate of a hapless Gulf War veteran who reenlists in “Sea Bass” is revealed in “Peacetime,” the story of a New York City medic’s struggle with his inurement to calamity . A shady contractor job gone wrong in “A Beautiful Country” is a news item for a reporter in “Total Solar,” as he navigates the surreal world of occupied Kabul.  Shifting in time and narrative perspective—from the home front to active combat, between experienced leaders, flawed infantrymen, a mother, a child, an Afghan-American translator, and a foreign correspondent–these stories offer a multifaceted examination of the unexpected costs of war. Continue reading