Livvie Peterson thought taking Interpersonal Communications her junior year would be an easy A. But when the first assignment is given, her world flips upside down. Here’s the deal: the class is assigned a six-week project and is split into three groups— Paparazzi, Tabloid, and Celebrities. The Paparazzi follow around the Celebrities taking pictures and grabbing any kind of quotes they can. The Celebrities try to navigate being tailed on a daily basis. And the Tabloid receives all the information collected by the Paparazzi and decides what makes the weekly summary report. Sounds harmless…and it’s all just pretend anyway, right?
Livvie is assigned as Paparazzi and when she is matched up with the über -cute Chas Montgomery as her Tabloid boss she’s pretty sure things couldn’t get much better. Livvie’s uncanny ability to capture the Celebrities in compromising photos matched with Chas’s skill of exaggerating captions and editing the photos make them an unstoppable team. And the long hours working side by side with Chas aren’t a bad bonus.
Livvie simultaneously launches an anonymous blog, leaking the class’ photos and stories on the Internet. Her rising follower number quickly becomes addicting and she possibly spills too much information online. Once she finds her own celebrity will she be able to give it back? And will Chas be gone before she ever has the chance to find out?
First thing – I know it’s terrible to judge books by their covers, but I almost passed this one up due to the terribly unappealing cover.
I’m glad I still read it, though, since I ended up being thoroughly charmed by The Paparazzi Project. Reading this tale of a unique Paparazzi/Tabloid/Celebrity roleplay school assignment taken too far made me wish that I was one of the kids participating in it Now, why didn’t we get cool projects like this back then?!
I really liked Kristina Springer’s writing style too – it’s very light, funny and breezy, but not too flippant. And she managed to make her main character Livvie Peterson real and likable, even when Livvie was getting in way over her head as a paparazzi (in her quest to out-scoop her classmates), and started crossing some major TMZ red lines with her anonymous gossip blog.
For those who like a little romance in their stories, there is a touch of that here with Livvie and her tabloid partner Chas. But for me, the appeal in the book really was the school project and how it impacted Livvie and her classmates.
I really wouldn’t hesitate to recommend The Paparazzi Project to young readers. It’s a quick read, the characters are likable and it teaches some good lessons (without being preachy). It’s a fun change from the glut of uber violent, angsty YA books that are out.
(*One note though, I thought that the Interpersonal Communications teacher Mrs B was a terrible (or terribly written?) character, particularly about how she just washed her hands off the whole thing and didn’t take responsibility for her students in the end. I just wished that Ms Springer had written her to be better than a dead-beat teacher.)
The 13th (and final) Sookie Stackhouse novel from the Anthony Award-winning Southern Vampire series – and the basis for the HBO series True Blood.
There are secrets in the town of Bon Temps, ones that threaten those closest to Sookie—and could destroy her heart….
Sookie Stackhouse finds it easy to turn down the request of former barmaid Arlene when she wants her job back at Merlotte’s. After all, Arlene tried to have Sookie killed. But her relationship with Eric Northman is not so clearcut. He and his vampires are keeping their distance…and a cold silence. And when Sookie learns the reason why, she is devastated.
Then a shocking murder rocks Bon Temps, and Sookie is arrested for the crime.
But the evidence against Sookie is weak, and she makes bail. Investigating the killing, she’ll learn that what passes for truth in Bon Temps is only a convenient lie. What passes for justice is more spilled blood. And what passes for love is never enough…
Sigh, I was really hoping that Dead Ever After – the latest and final Sookie Stackhouse book – would be one of the good ones. While there’s been several clunkers in Charlaine Harris’ Sookie Stackhouse series, there have also been books that I really loved and consider favorites. I have really enjoyed the world that Charlaine Harris’ conjured up, and ended up loving many of her characters, so it really sucks for me to report that this last book – SUCKS. Badly. Way to go out with a whimper.
The writing was terrible (!) – the main mystery plot made no sense to me (and the subplots were all a mess too), the dialogue was clunky and unnatural, there were really egregious continuity errors (i.e. Sookie suddenly can’t read shifters’ minds – so what has she been doing all these previous 12 books? guessing what the shifters were thinking?), and none of the characters were acting like themselves (starting with Sookie herself). Based on this book, looks like Charlaine Harris is super-burned out, was dying to end the series, and just couldn’t care less. This reads like a really early draft that should never have been published as is. Shame on everyone involved.
I’m not even going to complain about the guy Sookie ended up with – I wasn’t really surprised since there wasn’t anyone left for her to jump in the sack with (although I was surprised with the speed at which she switched guys). To be honest, I didn’t really give a damn anymore in the end. Sorry.
Dead Ever After by Charlaine Harris is available on Amazon.
Jonathan Kellerman’s “psychology skills and dark imagination are a potent literary mix” (Los Angeles Times), and this intensely thrilling blend has never been so powerful as in the acclaimed author’s new novel of murder and madness among the beautiful dreamers, seductive predators, and doomed innocents adrift in the glare of Southern California’s eternal sunshine.
A series of horrifying events occur in quick succession in the same upscale L.A. neighborhood. A backyard renovation unearths an infant’s body, buried sixty years ago. And soon thereafter in a nearby park, another disturbingly bizarre discovery is made not far from the body of a young woman shot in the head. Helping LAPD homicide detective Milo Sturgis to link these eerie incidents is brilliant psychologist Alex Delaware. But even the good doctor’s vast experience with matters both clinical and criminal might not be enough to cut down to the bone of this chilling case—and draw out the disturbing truth.
Backtracking six decades into the past stirs up tales of a beautiful nurse with a mystery lover, a handsome, wealthy doctor who seems too good to be true, and a hospital with a notorious reputation — all of them long gone, along with any records of a newborn, and destined for anonymity. But the specter of fame rears its head when the case unexpectedly twists in the direction of the highest echelons of celebrity privilege. Entering this sheltered world, Alex little imagines the macabre layer just below the surface — a decadent quagmire of unholy rituals and grisly sacrifice.
Before their work is done, Alex and Milo, “the most original whodunit duo since Watson and Holmes” (Forbes), must confront a fanatically deranged mind of such monstrous cunning that even the most depraved madman would shudder.
It’s 2013, and for Jonathan Kellerman fans like me – the new year means that Mr Kellerman will have a new book out. It’s like clockwork with him. And it didn’t take him long too – Guilt, which is book #28 in Jonathan Kellerman’s Alex Delaware series, was released just this February, and I wasted no time in getting myself a copy
In Guilt, Alex and Milo are initially called in for a super cold case – the decades-old remains of an infant is found accidentally during a backyard renovation. But things do come in three’s, don’t they, and two more bodies – a woman and another set of infant bones – are discovered in a nearby park. Are the two cases somehow connected? Alex and Milo dig into both the past and the present, and end up entangling with Hollywood (including a pair of Jolie/Pitt-esque suspects).
I finished this one pretty quickly (in two days flat) and as a long time fan of the series, I was okay with it (except for the bland ending). It’s not the best I’ve read from Mr Kellerman, but definitely not one of the bad ones (i.e. Deception). Warning to fans who really prefer the earlier Alex Delaware books, the latest one is still more of a police procedural than a psychological thriller, so skip it if you feel really strongly about it. And my problem with the ending? It lacked suspense and danger (Very Important for crime thrillers), and involved characters I was meeting for the first time. Ergo, a distinct lack of emotional punch for such a horrible crime (baby-killer).
I did appreciate that Mr Kellerman seems to be trying to bring back the psychology aspect, even if in a peripheral or subplot way like it is in Guilt. (The previous book Victims had Alex Delaware’s psychology skills more front and center.) I personally prefer Alex when he is contributing more as a expert psychologist (like in the early books, especially when he’s working with children) instead of just being Lt. Milo Sturgis’ sounding board &/or driver &/or Google-surfing police sidekick.
Another thing I liked with Guilt was that Alex Delaware was (finally!) humbled by being very wrong about many of his conclusions. That sounds odd, I know, but I was getting fed up with how ‘Mary-Sue’ the character was, as this super-sleuth who was always right, while there seemed to be a dumbing down of Milo. I mean there was an actual scene in the book where Milo’s boss tells Alex that he’s the better detective (?! – I was very offended on Milo’s behalf).
Struck By Lightning: The Carson Phillips Journal follows the story of outcast high school senior Carson Phillips who blackmails the most popular students in his school into contributing to his literary journal to bolster his college application; his goal in life is to get into Northwestern and eventually become the editor of The New Yorker.
At once laugh-out-loud funny, deliciously dark, and remarkably smart, Struck By Lightning unearths the dirt that lies just below the surface of high school.
The film Struck By Lightning features Colfer’s own original screenplay. Colfer also stars in the film alongside Allison Janney, Christina Hendricks, Dermot Mulroney, Sarah Hyland, and Polly Bergen.
I haven’t watched the film Struck By Lightning yet, but after reading the book version of Struck By Lightning, I’m definitely planning on renting it. What can I say, I liked the dark, sarcastic humor and I even liked the antihero antisocial main character of Carson Phillips.
This is a kid who has only this to say when his dad abandons the family and his mom breaks down in the front yard:
“Thank God for the sprinklers; otherwise she might have been out there all night.”
Yeah, that was cold, but it told me right out the bat what to expect from the character. Carson is like that cartoon character who had a rain cloud following him around. So, fair warning, this is not a happy book (even though it is funny). Carson is one sad, lonely, bitter kid, and it doesn’t end well for him. (I don’t think that’s a spoiler, since the movie’s trailer pretty much gave the ending away.)
To be honest, I was very surprised by how much I ended up liking the book (given how I couldn’t go through even just the first three chapters of Chris Colfer’s debut effort The Land of Stories: The Wishing Spell). That one was pretty terrible, and really disappointed me.
This time around, I started reading the first chapter of Struck By Lightning and thought – hmmm… surprise, surprise… this is pretty good… I don’t hate the character… the writing is far from the stilted and awkward I was expecting… I’m actually laughing at the right places… In short, I plowed through the book in one go and then promptly recommended it to a friend of mine.
The book is far from perfect, mind you – Colfer has a tendency to ‘tell us’ readers what happens instead of just ‘showing us’. Also, the secondary characters were treated pretty superficially (I wanted to know more about Carson’s only maybe-friend Malerie Baggs, for example) and the middle part of the book when Carson has a breakdown of sorts and ended up blackmailing people felt really rushed to me.
Overall though, Struck By Lightning is a book that I can comfortably recommend and not just to Colfer’s GLEE fans. If you like a bit of twisted, dark humor in your books, and you don’t mind revisiting the horrors of high-school, be sure to give this one a chance. Read a sample and see if it resonates with you too!
Note: Unlike Colfer’s first book, this one isn’t for kids. There’s some strong language in the book and there’s sex (not graphic).
One mistake changes everything…
In the middle of a rainy Swedish summer, a little girl is abducted from a crowded train. Despite hundreds of potential witnesses, no one noticed when the girl was taken. Her distraught mother was left behind at the previous station in what seemed to be a coincidence. The train crew was alerted and kept a watchful eye on the sleeping child. But when the train pulled into Stockholm Central Station, the little girl had vanished.
Inspector Alex Recht and his special team of federal investigators, assisted by the investigative analyst Fredrika Bergman, are assigned to what at first appears to be a classic custody fight. But when the child is found dead in the far north of Sweden with the word “unwanted” scribbled on her forehead, the case soon turns into the investigation team’s worst nightmare — the pursuit of a brilliant and ruthless killer.
“Expect Ohlsson to join Nesbo on most readers’ can’t-miss lists.” –Booklist (starred review)
About the Author
Kristina Ohlsson is a counterterrorism officer in Europe and has worked as a security police analyst for the National Swedish Police Board.
I wanted to try out other Scandinavian mystery writers, so I picked up Unwanted by Kristina Ohlsson (together with the sequel Silenced). This police procedural got starred reviews from Publisher’s Weekly and Booklist, so I was really looking forward to reading it although I did have my apprehensions since the victims here are all children (not my favorite topic).
Unfortunately, I’m going to have to say I’m pretty disappointed with this one. Hopefully, the next book will be better (since I already bought it!)
I figured out pretty early on what all the victims and their mothers had in common, so I was just waiting for the investigators to get around to it in the end (while wondering what was so supposedly legendary about the chief Investigator Alex Recht). Which you have to admit is pretty boring (when reading a crime thriller).
I did like that they finally figured out the killer in the end just using good old-fashioned police work. It didn’t make for much excitement, but it did ring as realistic to me. Which is more than I can say about the characters.
Because, really, my main problem with Unwanted was with the poor characterization – I didn’t like any of the investigators! I thought they were so flat & one-dimensional, and just didn’t seem like real adult people to me at all. They acted like they were emotionally aged thirteen or something like that. It was so weird – maybe it was a translation problem?
Indie Saturday – Author Jennifer Becton on her book ‘Caroline Bingley: A Continuation of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice’ @JenniferBecton
Today, we have author Jennifer Becton featured on the blog’s ‘Indie Saturday‘ for her second historical novel ‘Caroline Bingley: A Continuation of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice‘ (following the success of her debut novel Charlotte Collins: A Continuation of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice).
Jennifer is the founder of Whiteley Press, an independent publishing house, and has also written the six-book Southern Fraud Thriller Series under the pseudo-pseudonym of J. W. Becton.
Jennifer Becton writes :
Top 5 Reasons Caroline Bingley Is a Great Character for a Sequel
I hear what you’re thinking: Caroline Bingley as the hero of her own Pride and Prejudice sequel? Jennifer, what are you smoking? She’s horrible! Just think of what she said to Elizabeth and how she treated Jane. Why should anyone want to read a book about her?
Well, I’ll tell you my top 5 reasons for deciding to write about dear, sweet Caroline, and you can decide if you want to read a book about her.
5. Caroline speaks her mind. Sure, she may not always say the nicest things, but at least she is willing to make her opinions known. In Elizabeth Bennet, we find pert opinions to be a benefit. In Caroline, not so much. Caroline was happy to speak negatively of the Bennet’s vulgar relations and on many other similar subjects of decorum and dress, but in reality, her opinions on wealth and status were not dissimilar to those held by many people in the Regency period. She was an outspoken product of her time and social influences.
4. Caroline is funny. Consider her attempts to woo Mr. Darcy while he demonstrates his letter-writing prowess: “You write uncommonly fast,” “I am afraid you do not like your pen. Let me mend one for you. I mend pens remarkably well,” and “Do you always write such charming long letters to [Georgiana], Mr. Darcy?” (Austen, P&P, ch. 10). Okay, so she may not be intentionally funny, but that is comic gold!
3. Caroline is complex. Caroline is “of a respectable family in the north of England; a circumstance more deeply impressed on [her memory] than that [her] brother’s fortune and [her] own had been acquired by trade” (Austen, P&P, ch. 4). Caroline has a secret. She is a wannabe. She may have money, but it was not gained through socially acceptable channels, and she is trying to hide her lowly past. That’s conflict and it makes for good reading and interesting character development.
2. Caroline is flawed. Mr. Darcy and Caroline were very much alike when they were introduced in Pride and Prejudice: “Darcy was continually giving offense,” and he said many unkind things about Elizabeth’s family and relations. He even participated in the plan to separate Jane and Bingley. However, he mended his ways. Caroline did many of the same things, but she never saw the error of her ways. Caroline has lots of room to grow and overcome her flaws just as Darcy did.
1. Caroline doesn’t mess around. She acts. She may not always do the right thing, but at least she is doing something. She does what she believes is best for her family. There is no dithering or whining. She sees a need and she acts upon it. That is just what we love in a heroine.
So Caroline Bingley may not be the most obvious choice for a heroine, especially because her goals in Pride and Prejudice were in direct conflict with Elizabeth’s. She was the antagonist, but not a true villainess who was out plotting her opponent’s destruction. She just wanted what she wanted, and she tried to make her desires come to fruition. She failed in all ways.
Did Caroline learn from her mistakes? Did she end up marrying a stuffy, old aristocrat? Or did she learn the joys of love?
If you’d like to read a free sample of Caroline Bingley, please visit Scribd (Also embedded below). Caroline is available in ebook and paperback formats at Amazon and in paperback at BN and other online retailers.
You can also check out Jennifer Becton’s Amazon Author’s page for more info and check out her other books!
Do you want to be a featured ‘Indie Saturday’ author too? Go here for more info!
Read an embedded sample of “Caroline Bingley: A Continuation of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice” after the jump!
Today, we have authors Bill & Katie Frederick featured on the blog’s ‘Indie Saturday‘ for their illustrated children’s book “The Kite Surprise“
Bill & Katie Frederick write:
Thank you to RandomizeME. It is such a treat (as I write this on Halloween) to let your loyal followers know who we are and to tell about The Kite Surprise.
Our message: Read to kids every day. Take them to the library, let them choose books; discuss the books; help them develop their love of reading. It’s the best gift we can give to youngsters!
It all started on the beach!
Bill relays the inspiration behind this story:
“Some years ago, I attended a mental health workshop on hypnotherapy. Those attending were asked to recall a forgotten memory while we were in trance. My recollection was of watching a kite contest with friends while on a trip along the Atlantic shore at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. This trip was definitely something I had not thought of for a long while. As I‘ve retold the story, I often heard that it would make a nice a book for kids. That book thought was in the back of my mind for a long time.”
With immense encouragement along the way, we finally put pen to paper and developed the story — together. Some 20 plus years later, The Kite Surprise was created.
The Kite Surprise is at schools in Iowa and Indiana, daycare centers, libraries, and a mental health advocacy center for children of abuse and neglect. The mental health group and school teachers provided input to develop a discussion guide for parents and professionals.
Many readers have offered moving stories and the reactions about The Kite Surprise from little ones who’ve heard it. Check it out. We love to hear from readers.
About The Kite Surprise:
“Miss Celia Belle Addison enjoys everything, from big to little, but she is particularly captivated with Ansel, her big brother.
When she learns the family will be taking a day trip to the Atlantic shore, Celia Belle is beside herself thinking about the big adventure with sand, sun and kites!
The story begins as Celia Belle introduces herself and immediately says that Ansel has a knack for flying kites.
She expresses numerous emotions — exuberance, excitement, flabbergasted, even a little nervous and scared. Celia Belle tells a long tale with a curious tail in this high-flying picture book that shows pre and beginning readers there is a time to hold on and a time to let go.”
About the Authors:
Bill and I have been married for 30 years. Our daughter and son-in-law have two of the most adorable little girls anyone could imagine; our son and daughter-in-law live with 2 fur balls cats.
We have started our second children’s book emanating from mutual story telling sessions with youngsters. We are working on E-Books for parenting and self-help genres.
- From Bill:
I have a private mental health practice in Indiana and I use entertaining stories when I work with clients. I often present at state mental health conferences on the use of stories in therapy and quality of care in therapy. I’ve worked extensively with children and families including teaching parenting classes for over 20 years. My blog focuses on current issues in mental health.
- From Katie:
For over 20 years, I’ve worked in executive nonprofit positions, including gigs at public television, United Way, and a community business incubator for start-up companies. I currently work with small business, start-up groups and corporate clients on business development planning, research, communications, and ghost blogging. I LOVE what I do. No two days are the same!
You can keep up with:
Sorry, not yet on Twitter!
Do you want to be a featured ‘Indie Saturday’ author too? Go here for more info!
Read an embedded sample of “The Kite Surprise” after the jump!
Today, we have author James Wharton featured on the blog’s ‘Indie Saturday‘.
James Wharton writes:
Real life is stranger than fiction. That’s the premise on which I work when I’m writing.
My name is James Wharton and I have written ten books in three entirely different genres.
Historical fiction has brought the most success with recently published The Destiny Project topping the sales list with over three thousand e-books in the last two months. I write that with great humility because just one person buying one of my books is thrilling and gratifying.
The Destiny Project was the result of an idea about the role of women in World War Two, specifically, the WASPs, Women Airforce Service Pilots. Their job was to fly bombers, fighter planes and every other kind of plane, ferrying them to different destinations around the country. Unlike today, these women weren’t in the military and couldn’t fly combat missions. But, what if unknown to everyone, they did fly secret, ultra-dangerous missions?
Hence, The Destiny Project:
“An ancient artifact with powerful secrets, a rogue government agency and a Nazi nuclear weapons factory cause the lives of two women from different times to spin out of control. World War II ended in 1945, but a bizarre incident on an American bomber on a forgotten raid over Germany now threatens the security of the United States.”
Oh, did I mention there is a bit of time-travel involved?
“In the present time school teacher Kate Darron’s bad day gets much worse when a strange woman wearing clothes from another era knocks on her apartment door. Kate is troubled that the woman seems to know every detail of her life. “Who are you?” Kate asks. “Think of me as the fairy godmother of death,” the woman replies. “You shall be dead in less than half an hour.”
The Destiny Project II will be published in 2013.
Detour is a second historical fiction novel which has also enjoyed substantial sales.
“Peter Krause is a German physics professor in 1935. David Kelly is an American history professor in 2010. In the closing days of World War Two, Adolf Hitler retreated to his Furherbunker in Berlin. Surrounded by thousands of Russian troops, no escape was possible. Hitler committed suicide on April 30, 1945. The world, including David, has long accepted this fact. Peter Krause was there when it happened. He knows Hitler’s death is a lie. In the present time Lomasi Goodwater, a beautiful Navajo shaman, is haunted by visions of a coming nuclear holocaust.”
Did I mention time travel is involved?
The Jaguar Queen, the first book in the Arizona Sheriff Jimmy Harris series, was just published. It is an action story, a tale of passionate love and tells of otherworldly secrets.
“The paths of an ancient Mayan queen, a sheriff haunted by a troubled past and a beautiful cartel boss intersect when the violence of the Mexican drug wars spills across the border into Staunton, Arizona. While Sheriff Jimmy Harris grapples with the murder of a United States Senator’s son, the violence spins out of control and a daughter he has never met is suddenly thrown in harm’s way.
As Jimmy Harris pursues the beautiful but dangerous cartel boss, he is increasingly attracted to her and forced to confront the shadowy boundary between good and evil. All the while, the mysterious loner Indian Joe prowls the fringes of reality.”
The second genre in which I write is humor.
The Deluxe UFO Tour Company, (not sci-fi) is the first novel in The Empyrean Arizona series. The second, Invasion of the Moon Women, will be published in December this year (2012). Voyeurs, a brief humorous book (actually a long short story) is about the Russian Intelligence Agency and the man who runs it who also happens to be the world’s worst boss. That he drinks lots of vodka and steals his employees’ wives are the least of his faults. I have also published two humorous short story collections, Strange Breakfast and Other Humorous Morsels and Ghost Pets, the latter being quite insane.
I have also published two short story collections dealing with ghosts. They are Ghosts of the Grand Canyon Country and Ghosts of Arizona’s Tonto National Forest. Most of these stories were inspired by actual events.
On his writing philosophies…
My writing philosophy is first and foremost “follow the story.” The story and its characters will take the writer where they intend to go. As an example, when I first planned to write The Destiny Project, I thought it would be a natural to have the main characters be a man and a woman in love. But, that is not the way the story wrote itself. The story shouted out that two women should be the lead characters. While that seemed unusual and definitely out of the mainstream, I couldn’t write it any other way.
“Kate Darron and Bebe Beardsley are forced to undertake a terrifying mission across continents and time, one on which survival is not an option.”
The second part of my philosophy is to not release a book for publication until I am convinced that I did everything in my power to write the best book possible. Once a book is “out there,” an author is judged by it alone. If that book is the first exposure a reader has to an author’s writing, he will judge the author by the quality of that book. If the quality is good, hopefully that reader will read another of that author’s books. If the writing quality is bad…..well, you get the picture.
Lastly, respect the reader’s time. The reader made a commitment to purchase a book. The least the author should provide is an enjoyable, fulfilling experience. When the reader finishes the book and can say, “I really liked that book,” the author has done his job. That is what I aim for with every book I write. It is also where I get the most gratification. I am flattered when a reader buys one of my books, but I am delighted when a reader tells me he or she really enjoyed one of my books. I got an e-mail from a reader just last night telling me how much he enjoyed The Destiny Project. Then he asked, “When may I expect a sequel?” That made my day!
You can check out James Wharton’s Amazon Author’s page for more info!
Do you want to be a featured ‘Indie Saturday’ author too? Go here for more info!
Read an embedded sample from “The Destiny Project” after the jump!