“Pines” by Blake Crouch (Thomas & Mercer, 2012)

Pines
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There are two keys to good storytelling: 1) have a good story, 2) don’t give it all away early on. Blake Crouch skillfully adheres to these keys in the first volume of the Wayward Pines series, Pines, clueing in the reader to a dramatic story and sucking them right in, and then slowly giving information away so they can’t help but keep reading, turning those pages, burning to know how it all ends and what the big secret is.

Two secret service agents have gone missing in the small and idyllic town of Wayward Pines, Idaho. Secret Service agent Ethan Burke gets called in to investigate and find out what happened to his fellow agents. He also has a personal stake, since one of the agents is a former lover who he still cares deeply for, even though he’s a happily married man with a son. Burke wakes up to find himself in a hospital bed barely remembering who he is. As the pieces of his past and reason for being in Wayward Pines are slowly put together, he learns that the agent traveling with him was killed in the horrific car accident he was involved in. That’s why he doesn’t remember much.

But Burke is a good agent. He knows not everything is as clear as it seems, and there’s something really weird going on with the supposed perfect town of Wayward Pines. Everyone acts nice and courteous around him, but all a little too nice. And things seem in perfect condition, a little too perfect. Burke knows things just aren’t right, and when he can’t get hold of his ASAC in Seattle or get the sheriff to give him a straight answer about what happened to his wallet and ID, he starts to get scared for the first time. That’s when he grabs a car and tries to get out of town, but as he follows the main road out, he somehow finds himself driving right back into town. Apparently Wayward Pines won’t let him leave.

While the storyline is somewhat familiar, Pines is anything but predictable. Crouch cites the likes of Twin Peaks and The X-Files as inspiration for the series, as he keeps the conflict and adrenaline high. As for the true story of what is going on in Wayward Pines, you’ll have to read to the very end of the book, and you’ll have no clue what’s coming.

Originally written on September 29, 2014 ©Alex C. Telander.

To purchase a copy of Pines from Bookshop Santa Cruz, and help support BookBanter, click HERE.

Book Report: Amazon Yay! Amazon Nay! Neil Gaiman’s Kissing Princesses, Magical Bookstores & More!

179d6-bookreporttelander

Nobel Peace Prize to Malala 
Malala Yousafzai, author of the bestselling I am Malala, and Kailash Satyarthi have been awarded the Nobel peace prize.

Amazon Good and Bad
 Amazon.com has announced they will be opening a bricks-and-mortar store in New York City. The New Republichas a long and poignant article on why Amazon must be stopped.

19 Magical Bookshops 
Buzzfeed presents 19 magical bookshops one should visit within Great Britain.

[read more . . .]

Olague (1): The Beginning of a New Book

So I’ve started a new book, and by “new book,” I mean I haven’t written a single word of it yet, but I’ve begun working on shaping it. Think of it as a sculpture and I’ve just started shaving along the sides and giving a rough overall shape. Using Wikidpad, I’m building my story bible for the novel, which is a great piece of software that lets you create lots of pages and cross-link and index them. It’s a good place to start putting all the details and facts of your book for easy reference instead of writing them all down on bits of paper or in numerous  notebooks.

The idea came to me last August, 2013, when I was doing a daily jog and every day I’d get more ideas and thoughts and scribble them down. Now I’m working on honing some of these ideas and shaping and making some decisions on what to keep and what to get rid of.

The book will also require me to invent a town, which I have begun with a map and will be starting to fill in the details of the town, then will come the characters.

The name of the town is also the name of the book, which is:

Olague

More to come, but for now it’s an exciting beginning time working on this book that feels like an accumulation of thoughts and ideas I’ve had over the last 15-20 years of my writing, bringing them altogether in this special book.

Book Report: Break Your Reading Slump, Classic, Amazon Faces The Feds, Free Sanderson & More!

179d6-bookreporttelander

Halloween Book Costumes 
Still undecided what to dress your kids for Halloween? Here are some great bookish costumes you’ll adore.

An African Reading List
You hear about the books that become bestsellers by African authors, but here are some other recommended reads.

Getting Out of a Long Term Reading Slump
If you haven’t been reading for a while and you’re wanting to get started again here are some great tips to ease you into the wonderful world of reading.

[read more . . .]

“Spectrum” by Alan Jacobson (Open Road Media, 2014)

Spectrum
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Karen Vail returns for the sixth installment, in Spectrum, and this time Alan Jacobson gives the readers a look at her past and how she went from being a NYPD rookie to one of the best FBI profiler’s. The book begins with an opening throwing the reader in the middle of a case where Vail has some big decisions to make, and then switching off in every other chapter about a Greek family beginning in the 1970s, and while it seems confusing at first, it all comes together at the end.

It’s 1995 and Vail is on her first day of the job as a rookie New York cop with a tough as nails veteran partner looking to please and do everything by the book, but also learn the way of the streets and do the hard work she needs to succeed. She is pulled into a murder case that, as the years pass, becomes a long drawn-out serial killer case. It remains unsolved for over two decades, and each time a new body is found – a woman with a slashed throat and jagged piece of glass protruding from her neck, cuts blinding her eyes, and a strange X and four letters carved into her – Vail is notified and brought in to investigate, to see if they can get any closer to finding out who the killer is.

The other part of the book focuses on a Greek family whose father is involved in a strange fight that turns bad and leads to them being ostracized from their culture. They have to leave their home and everything seems to be against them. Eventually they end up living on Ellis Island in an abandoned building, struggling to get by. The story seems out of place and not exactly clear to the reader, but halfway through the book the link becomes apparent as the reader is able to put the evidence together and understand what the author is doing.

Jacobson clearly had a lot of fun writing Spectrum and readers familiar with Karen Vail will really enjoy reading her history, not just in how she climbed the ranks of the NYPD, then joined the FBI and eventually became a profiler, but also in her personal life with her husband who became her ex-husband and how she raised a child on her own while advancing her career. Like a gripping case, Spectrum has all the pieces and evidence there, and if the reader does some good detective work, they will put it all together and know who the killer is by the end, or be pleasantly surprised. Spectrum is the best Karen Vail novel yet and whether you’re familiar with the series or this is the first one you’re reading, you’ll be hooked from cover to cover.

Originally written on October 5, 2014 ©Alex C. Telander.

To purchase a copy of Spectrum from Bookshop Santa Cruz, and help support BookBanter, click HERE.

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“Climate Changed: A Personal Journey Through the Science” by Philippe Squarzoni (Abrams Comicarts, 2014)

Climate Changed
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Except for those who choose not to face reality (and perhaps are ignoring some other realisms staring them in the face), climate change is taking place right now, and as each season and year passes, more signs seem to be made of its build-up to the inevitable that is quickly approaching in our near future. In Climate Changed, French author and artist Philippe Squarzoni seeks to educate not just the reader on the happenings of climate change, but also himself.

Climate Changed is partly a graphic novel of science and partly one of philosophy, as Squarzoni begins his tale with what a beginning really is, exploring the idea as himself in his own story, trying to decide where to begin to talk about climate change. As he gets started in this important story, he combines the facts with understanding and how he deals with them. There’s the juxtaposition of what scientists and experts are saying, as well as what the graphs and charts show to be an ongoing reality with Squarzoni in his own life agreeing to do various jobs and projects and then assessing the climactic affect he alone will have in doing said jobs.

Climate Changed is a sobering read, as it should be. It paints a bleak picture, because the future is now looking pretty bleak. Climate change is a reality and is happening right now and will continue to get worse as the years pass. It’s a fact. Not enough people are doing anything to really change it, and until we start having serious changes, such as water levels rising and forcing millions of people to leave their homes and move to higher ground; then changes will start to be made, but by then it will be too late.

As for the ending, there is no quick fix or easy solution. It’s already too late for that and it’s getting worse by the year. Right now it will take centuries for the world to return to how it was during pre-industrial times. Squarzoni spends the book showing the facts, but also grappling with his own personal demons over this. And at this point, that is what it has become a question of: not what can we do to stop climate change, because it’s already too late, but how do we live with ourselves, and what do we tell our children and grandchildren who are going to experience its effects far worse than us.

Originally written on August 14, 2014 ©Alex C. Telander.

To purchase a copy of Climate Changed from Bookshop Santa Cruz, and help support BookBanter, click HERE.

“These Vampires Still Don’t Sparkle” Out Today!

The anthology These Vampires Still Don’t Sparkle is out today featuring 22 short stories, one of them entitled “My Dark Genesis” written by me, Alex C. Telander. It is my first published story!

Here’s the blurb on the anthology:

Sparkly Vampires? Oh Pluuueeeaasse!

Since when have there been sparkling vampires? Are they a new brand of champagne or what?

Vampires are supposed to be wily, tricky, and even evil. And they never, ever sparkle. In this book, you’ll find stories with some refreshing takes on vampires: vampire heroes, vampire villains, humorous vampires, among others. Check out 22 stories with the most bite by Carol Hightshoe, Lee Pletzers, J.A. Campbell, T. Fox Dunham, Stephanie Ellis, and other exceptional authors. Grab some garlic, wooden stakes, and crucifixes, and get ready to party, because these vampires don’t sparkle.

And it’s priced at just $4.99. You can get your ebook download at Amazon, Kobo or Barnes & Noble.