“The Heavens Rise” by Christopher Rise (Gallery Books, 2013)

Heaven's Rise
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Christopher Rice, son of bestselling horror author Anne Rice, returns with his next novel that is dark and terrifying and mystical in a number of ways, while capturing a feel of New Orleans and that part of the world post-Katrina in a way that only someone deeply familiar with the area could.

This is the story of the strange disappearance of the known and respected Delongpre family; mother, father and daughter lost to the bayou and the world. The daughter, Niquette, is mourned by her boyfriend Anthem and her close friend Ben, while the twisted person Marshall is pretty certain their death was due to his actions. Marshall then throws himself from a high-rise building and ends up in a coma, from which he has gained strange powers.

As years pass and Marshall continues to somehow control others to his whim, it seems perhaps the Delongpres may not be gone for good, as strange things continue to happen, as people fall under a spell, and are not all controlled by Marshall.

Told from various perspectives, Rice has crafted a chilling and thrilling story that abhors as well as entices, leaving the reader turning the pages until the astonishing finale.

Originally written on November 8, 2013 ©Alex C. Telander.

To purchase a copy of The Heavens Rise from Amazon, and help support BookBanter, click HERE.

“Standing Up to the Madness: Ordinary Heroes in Extraordinary Times” by Amy Goodman and David Goodman (Hyperion, 2008)

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The award-winning and bestselling brother and sister team, Amy Goodman  (popular and successful host of the TV and radio show Democracy Now!) and David Goodman (an investigative journalist), authors of Static and Exception to the Rulers, return with Standing Up to the Madness.  The Goodmans strike out on a new path in aiming to not retread on the familiar ground of endlessly criticizing the Bush administration and its endeavors, but to report and record grassroots stories of people from across the country who have suffered under the current regime, and how they have fought back and gained some ground.

The stories in the book are grouped into subjects on how science is being threatened, schools and education being threatened, the war in Iraq, and simply “Standing up to the Madness.”  There is the story of Malik Rahim, a native of New Orleans who was there when Hurricane Katrina struck, and is still there now trying to rebuild the ravaged country and its torn and exiled people.  Rahim tells of the little help he has seen from the government, and what there remains now.  He also provides startling insights into the horrific acts of racism that are now commonplace in the ruins of the city.  But Rahim has started a charity group from scratch, Common Ground, that is now strong and increasing in size and popularity, providing aid and shelter to the many citizens of New Orleans that still have nowhere to call home.

Raed Jarrar, a US citizen originally from Iraq, tells the story of his being prevented from flying on JetBlue because he was wearing a T-shirt that read “We Will Not Be Silent” in both English and Arabic. Clearly it was because of the color of his skin, and with help from the original manufacturers of the T-shirt, he was able to make a stand for freedom of speech.  Librarians across the country tell their story of standing against the Patriot Act and its supposed allowance of turning over library members reading histories.  Psychologists speak out against the use of their members being used as litmus tests and decision makers when witnessing torture at Guantanamo Bay.  American soldiers back from Iraq tell the true story of what was really taking place in the Middle East, and why every day is another step in the wrong direction.

It is easy to criticize the Bush administration, but the authors of Standing Up to the Madness challenge the reader to do something other than criticize.  Through the voices and lives revealed in this book, one can see that change and justice is possible, and with an epilogue of advice and suggestions, it gives one fuel to begin the change that is necessary to make America the land of the free once again.

If you liked this review and are interested in purchasing this book, click here.

Originally written on July 11th 2008 ©Alex C. Telander.

“The World that Made New Orleans: From Spanish Silver to Congo Square” by Ned Sublette (Lawrence Hill Books, 2008)

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Ned Sublette, author of Cuba and Its Music, embarks on a daring undertaking in a detailed and complete history of the Big Easy.  Sublette spent the 2004-2005 year in New Orleans, leaving just three months before Hurricane Katrina hit and the levees broke, changing the city forever; making this book all the more meaningful and emotional.

With extensive research, Sublette starts at the very beginning, explaining the topography and geology of the Mississippi River and the substantial yet flooded Mississippi Delta, and how there was simply nothing that could really be built there before the advent of water pumps and the possible draining of the area.  In a time when the land that would one day be Louisiana was being fought over and used by the Spanish, French, and British, while every piece of natural resource in this part of the world was being used for the benefit of the Western World, coupled with the unceasing influx of slaves; a group of settlers began a town that would one day become the great city of New Orleans.  The town was somewhat doomed from the beginning, with a influx of forced citizens from France consisting of prostitutes and convicts.

From its genesis, New Orleans was composed of an entire world of nationalities, cultures, faiths, and languages.  Like the spine of a book, Sublette uses music as the backbone of The World That Made New Orleans, discussing the influences and developments of these different people, many of them slaves.  It is a city that, after the catastrophic events of Hurricane Katrina, will never be the same – like New York missing the World Trade Center skyline.  Thankfully, Sublette does an incredible job of revealing the many chapters in the history of New Orleans.

If you liked this review and are interested in purchasing this book, click here.

Originally written on March 16th 2008 ©Alex C. Telander.

“A.D.: New Orleans After the Deluge” by Josh Neufeld (Pantheon, 2009)

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Originally serialized in SMITH Magazine, A.D.: New Orleans After the Deluge by Josh Neufeld is a remarkable graphic novel that manages to capture both the raw look of a city attacked by natural forces, but also to reveal the emotions and reactions of people who remained in the city, as well as those who watched from afar.  Told from the viewpoint of six New Orleanians, they each experience Hurricane Katrina differently, but ultimately suffer loss.  There is Denise, who experiences the pandemonium at the Superdome.    Abbas, and his friend Mansell, who live out the storm first within the market that Abbas owns and runs, and then on the roof as the water level rises.  The Doctor, who remains in the French Quarter throughout the hurricane, a haven for others, miraculously unscathed.  Leo – a comic book collector – and Michelle who leave New Orleans in time, but lose everything they own.  And Kwame, a Pastor’s son, who leaves before the storm and has his life irrevocably changed.   A.D.: New Orleans After the Deluge is the next great graphic novel in a growing genre of journalistic or non-fiction graphic novels, that combine words and art to tell incredible stories of real life and real happenings.

If you liked this review and are interested in purchasing this book, click here.

Originally written on June 18th, 2009 ©Alex C. Telander.

For an interview with Josh Neufeld check out BookBanter Episode 14.

“The Map of Moments” by Christopher Golden and Tim Lebbon (Spectra, 2009)

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Bestselling authors Christopher Golden and Tim Lebbon continue with the next novel of the Hidden Cities series, after Mind the Gap, with The Map of Moments set in the remarkable city of New Orleans.  The authors take on the divisive issue of Hurricane Katrina and the wrecked city that was left after August 2005, bringing to life the noir underbelly of New Orleans, as well as throwing in a healthy dose of the fantastic.  The Map of Moments is a great book you won’t soon forget.

Max Corbett is a college professor who left New Orleans for what he thought were some very good reasons, the most important of which was Gabrielle: a student and love of his life for a short while.  She stole his heart with her beauty and vivacity, then she cheated on him, so he left.  Then Hurricane Katrina happened.  He never called anyone, doesn’t know who’s alive and who’s dead; more importantly, he hasn’t heard anything from Gabrielle . . . until he gets the call with the news.

Max goes to New Orleans for the funeral and to face his demons.  He is then told by a strange man that there’s a way he can go back and change history; there’s a way he can save Gabrielle.  But first he has to travel to the special locations on the map he is given, The Map of Moments.  Each moment will take him back to an important moment in time, a place that was monumental in New Orleans history.  As Max travels back to each of the moments, he learns a lot, as he slowly puts the piece together, the mystery grows and unravels before him.  It is a dangerous world of black magic and the fantastic, not to mention the people who know what he’s up to and are out to kill him.

The Map of Moments is what happens when two great storytellers get together: a fantastic story set in an incredible city, with heavy doses of magic and mayhem.  It will keep you riveted to each page, as you pray for it never to end, but still wanting and needing to know what happens.

CLICK HERE to purchase your copy from Bookshop Santa Cruz and help support BookBanter.

Originally written on March 31st, 2009 ©Alex C. Telander.

For an interview with Christopher Golden check out BookBanter Episode 12.