The Red Lotus by Chris Bohjalian

Description

From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Midwives and The Flight Attendant comes a twisting story of love and deceit: an American man vanishes on a rural road in Vietnam, and his girlfriend, an emergency room doctor trained to ask questions, follows a path that leads her home to the very hospital where they met.

The first time Alexis saw Austin, it was a Saturday night. Not in a bar, but in the emergency room where Alexis sutured a bullet wound in Austin’s arm. Six months later, on the brink of falling in love, they travel to Vietnam on a bike tour so that Austin can show her his passion for cycling and he can pay his respects to the place where his father and uncle fought in the war. But as Alexis sips white wine and waits at the hotel for him to return from his solo ride, two men emerge from the tall grass and Austin vanishes into thin air. The only clue he leaves behind is a bright yellow energy gel dropped on the road. As Alexis grapples with this bewildering loss, and deals with the FBI, Austin’s prickly family, and her colleagues at the hospital, Alexis uncovers a series of strange lies that force her to wonder: Where did Austin go? Why did he really bring her to Vietnam? And how much danger has he left her in? Set amidst the adrenaline-fueled world of the emergency room, The Red Lotus is a global thriller about those who dedicate their lives to saving people, and those who peddle death to the highest bidder.

Chris Bohjalian is one of my very favorite authors. He writes wonderfully and yet is the most humble person in real life. I was excited to snag his latest from Net Galley. This was a suspenseful thriller and I think it would make an awesome movie. I couldn’t put it down. It was rather sad in parts, because one of Bohjalian’s gifts as a writer is to make the story realistic. The characters stayed with me long after I was done reading.

Thank you, Doubleday, for my ARC! This novel publishes on 3/17.

Just a note: I read this a few months back, well before the corona virus was headlining everywhere. This story involves what I’ll call “illness and epidemic”, so just putting that out there as a trigger given the current situation.

Silent Lee and the Adventure of the Side Door Key by Alex Hiam

My friends over at Smith Publicity send me an electronic copy of the fun middle grade book (grades 4-8) about an intelligent and resourceful young girl, Silent Lee, and her adventures in time travel in Boston.

Here’s the overview from Amazon:

As if life isn’t already complicated when you have to sneak out a magical side door and enter a different century just to get to school each morning.

And now Silent has to figure out what happened to her beloved Aunt Generous, the woman who raised her–which would be complicated enough even if CIA agents in black SUVs weren’t chasing her–but they definitely are!

This was such a fun read – especially since I live in the Boston area. Even though this title was a stand alone, I know that there are more stories about Silent Lee that are coming!

Thank you for sharing your book with me, Mr. Hiam!

Here is a bit on Alex Hiam, too:

As a child, writer and artist Alex Hiam spent holidays in the mysterious Boston mansion of his great-grandmother on Dartmouth Street. A graduate of Harvard College and UC Berkeley, Hiam was awarded the English Department’s Arnold Prize. But the honor he is most proud of was being entrusted as a student with the key to the iron gates of Mount Auburn Cemetery, where he would let himself in at dawn on Spring mornings to study the migrating birds before the rest of Cambridge awoke. Previously a teacher at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, today he teaches Making Writing Exciting! at North Star, a learning center for self-directed teens. He has sailed the Atlantic, Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean, logging thousands of nautical miles and plans some day to write a book about pirates. Hiam lives with his wife and daughters in an old farmhouse in Amherst, Massachusetts.

This title publishes today – happy Pub Day! 🙂

HFVBTour for ILLUSIONS OF MAGIC by J.B. Rivard with GIVEAWAY!

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I’m happy to be shouting it out today for the interesting novel: ILLUSIONS OF MAGIC, which I received through Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours.

Here’s the overview:

Illusions of Magic: Love and Intrigue in 1933 Chicago
by J.B. Rivard

Publication Date: April 17, 2016
eBook; 233 Pages
ASIN: B01EGSC8N8

Genre: Historical Fiction/Mystery

READ AN EXCERPT.

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The withering of vaudeville was bad enough in 1933. Because of the Great Depression, bookings for stage magician Nick Zetner disappeared. With his marriage cracking under the strain, Nick reluctantly accepts a devious banker’s deal: He earns a generous reward if he retrieves photos stolen during a break-in at the bank. Along the way, a love he thought he’d forever lost reappears. Despite his skill in the arts of magic, penetrating the realm of the thieves grows increasingly perilous, especially when it endangers his newfound romance.

Illusions of Magic seamlessly merges this tale with the true-life assassination attempt on President-elect Franklin D. Roosevelt resulting in Chicago’s mayor, Anton Cermak, being shot. His lingering death and a lack of legal means for his replacement causes great civic and social upheaval in the city.

In modern style, this novel propels the reader through emotional highs and subterranean lows with knife-edged dialogue, easy humor, page-turning action and authentic history.

Illusions of Magic, set in Chicago in early 1933, does a masterful job of telling the highly entertaining love story between an out-of-work magician and his old flame . . . Rivard creates a historically accurate background for his cast of fascinating characters, creating a moving novel . . .” —Dr. Willard Oliver, Professor at Sam Houston State University and co-author of Killing the President.

Illusions of Magic, a story of political intrigue in 1930s Chicago, is written in an informative, yet entertaining style. Rivard weaves into his narrative the true story of Chicago Mayor Anton Cermak’s murder and he does it with accuracy and complete authenticity . . . Each chapter powers along, insisting you read ‘just one more’ part. The taut writing has a ‘made for the movies’ tension . . .” —Mel Ayton, author of The Forgotten Terrorist and Hunting the President.

[The] attempted assassination of Franklin D. Roosevelt in…1933…is part of the dramatic backdrop of Rivard’s fast-paced and punchy novel….Nick Zetner’s adventures, part screwball comedy and part Dashiell Hammett, combine with the richly authentic atmosphere of the setting to create a quick and very enjoyable read that smoothly intermingles Nick’s love life with a challenging case he takes on for a corrupt banker. The book reads like a breath of fresh air – recommended.” -Joanna Urquhart, Historical Novel Society

About the Author

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Almost everyone is familiar with the illustrations in “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland”. However, the number of illustrated novels published–for adult readers–declined steadily from the beginning to the middle of the 20th century, although not for lack of popularity. “Illusions of Magic” dares a return to the edgy, swirling arts of the illustrated story, with pen and ink illustrations by the novel’s author, Joseph B. “J. B.” Rivard, supplementing this exciting story.

As a young child, Rivard began drawing by copying newspaper comics. In his teens, he drew illustrations for his high school’s award-winning yearbook. He attended the Chicago Academy of Fine Arts and his artworks have appeared in more than fifty juried exhibitions, earning many prizes and awards. He’s an artist-member of the Salmagundi Club of New York City.

Rivard’s writing draws on wide experience–he served in the U.S. Navy, graduated from the University of Florida, worked as a newspaper reporter, a magazine writer, and on the engineering staff of a U.S. National Laboratory where he wrote and co-authored many technical papers listed on Google Scholar. His broad background supports a wide array of significant publications, from short stories to song lyrics, from essays to novels. He calls Spokane, Washington home.

For more information, please visit the Illusions of Magic website.

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Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, January 9
Blog Tour Kick Off at Passages to the Past

Tuesday, January 10
Review at Books, Dreams, Life

Wednesday, January 11
Review at Book Nerd

Thursday, January 12
Review at 100 Pages a Day

Friday, January 13
Spotlight at Let Them Read Books

Monday, January 16
Review at Jorie Loves a Story

Tuesday, January 17
Interview at The Maiden’s Court
Spotlight at A Literary Vacation

Wednesday, January 18
Review at Creating Herstory

Thursday, January 19
Review at Laura’s Interests

Friday, January 20
Review at Broken Teepee

Monday, January 23
Spotlight at Beth’s Book Nook Blog

Tuesday, January 24
Spotlight at Susan Heim on Writing

Wednesday, January 25
Review at Svetlana’s Reads and Views

Thursday, January 26
Spotlight at CelticLady’s Reviews
Spotlight at What Is That Book About

Friday, January 27
Review & Interview at Quitterstrip

Giveaway!

To win a paperback copy of Illusions of Magic by J.B. Rivard, please enter via the Gleam form below. Three copies are up for grabs!

Rules:

– Giveaway ends at 11:59pm EST on January 27th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
– Giveaway is open to residents in the US only.
– Only one entry per household.
– All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspect of fraud is decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion.
– Winner has 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.

Direct Link: https://gleam.io/MmmM2/illusions-of-magic

Review: THE TRAVELERS by Chris Pavone

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I heard about this mystery through Blogging for Books, and it sounded good, so I sent for it via Net Galley. It just published in March through Crown Publishing.

Here’s the description:

Review: THE CITY by Dean Koontz

I’ve always been a fan of Dean Koontz. I particularly like his creepy, supernatural work. I was thrilled to see his latest book on Net Galley, and was happy to receive an ARC (I also was one of the many bloggers hosting a Pub Day giveaway earlier this month). THE CITY was a bit different from Dean’s earlier works, which just shows his versatility.

In THE CITY, Jonah Kirk tells the story of a strange experience from his youth that shapes and guides his future. The story starts when Jonah is eight. He is a precocious child, and a musical prodigy, living with his divorced mother and near his beloved grandparents in “the city”. An odd woman appears to him and tells him strange information, which later plays a role in his life. This woman, we come to learn, is the heart of the city itself, a metaphor made human. She also magically procures a piano for Jonah. This woman, Pearl, appears to Jonah through the story, to guide and protect him as he comes in contact with several nefarious characters (including his estranged father) who threaten his livelihood and that of the city at large. Throughout the story (again, told by Jonah as an adult looking back) we come to know his hard-working mother, their widowed Italian neighbor, his feisty grandparents, best friend Malcolm, and – my favorite – their sensitive and intelligent neighbor, a survivor of the Japanese internment camps.

I enjoyed this book! I really loved the character of precocious Jonah. This book builds to a dramatic and violent climax, which was fairly upsetting, but Jonah’s spirit and tenacity shines through all the darkness. The ending was one of hope and resiliency.

I noticed that a prequel, “The Neighbor”, by Koontz was only 99 cents for kindle, so I purchased that as well. This story was creepy and highly disturbing, while it introduced us to Jonah’s best friend and neighbor, Malcolm. You can certainly read The City without reading it, but it does add a bit to character development.

Review: THE BOY WHO STOLE FROM THE DEAD by Orest Stelmach

This book takes up where THE BOY FROM REACTOR 4 leaves off (reviewed here: https://drbethnolan.wordpress.com/2013/09/02/review-the-boy-from-reactor-4-by-orest-stelmach/ ). Bobby Kungenook is accused of murder and his guardian, Nadia Tesla, is 100% sure that Bobby is not a killer. Bobby, though, is not talking to anyone and refusing to see Nadia, so she goes on a quest to prove his innocence. Travelling to the Ukraine with her brother, Nadia tackles some tough Russian mobsters, all the while learning more about her new employer. Did Bobby really kill an English businessman? Who exactly was he? What is the connection to Russia and Chernobyl? Will she be able to save Bobby?

I thought this book did a great job picking up right where the last book left off (and apparently there is another book on its way at the end of the year). I often don’t enjoy sequels as it feels like they are just pulling out the action and are almost an afterthought, but this novel continues the action started in the first book, does a full plot, and then sets up the next story in the saga.

I also love the character of Nadia because she’s so smart and strong – a great combination!

Thanks, Net Galley, for my copy! If you enjoy mysteries and action, you will most probably enjoy these books.

Review: INFERNO by Dan Brown

With a gift card I received for my birthday, I bought Dan Brown’s new novel: INFERNO. I really liked DA VINCI CODE and I heard this was similar. I have to say I was disappointed with THE LOST SYMBOL, and I found ANGELS AND DEMONS too violent. I liked DIGITAL FORTRESS and DECEPTION POINT, but not as much as DA VINCI CODE.  Anyhow – I really liked this novel! It had more action and less codes than DA VINCI, so I have to say I still like DA VINCI CODE best. I can imagine this will be made into a movie very soon.

In INFERNO, Langdon awakes to find himself in a hospital in Florence, Italy with no idea how he got there or what happened to him. He barely has time to adjust to his surroundings when a killer arrives looking for him. He escapes with the help of a young, brilliant doctor and thus begins a crazy chase across Florence and on to Venice as Langdon and Sienna (the doctor) try to evade a host of people who appear to be trying to kill them. Along the way they discover that Langdon and a colleague (now dead) had apparently stolen the death mask of Dante Alighieri (author of “The Inferno”). Meanwhile a crazed scientist who is obsessed with population control, is trying to “save the world” by releasing a virus of epidemic proportions. His clues are related to “The Inferno” and Dante as well.

Whew! There is a lot going on in this book! I have to say I loved reading about Florence – which happens to be my favorite place in the world. One complaint I had (and this is a SPOILER ALERT!) is that the whole “this was a set-up, we created a fake scene for you” storyline was too far-fetched. I mean really – just be honest with the guy. It’d be a lot less work!

Anyhow, if you liked DA VINCI CODE I think you will like INFERNO. It also made me want to go back and reread the original INFERNO by Dante as it’s been about 35 years. And even more – it made me want to go back to visit Florence!

If you get a hankering to read a translation of Dante’s “Inferno” as I did, try this one:

http://pd.sparknotes.com/poetry/inferno/