BOOK BLITZ: The Unity Game by Leonora Meriel

About the Book:

WHAT IF THE EARTH YOU KNEW WAS JUST THE BEGINNING?



A New York banker is descending into madness. 


A being from an advanced civilization is racing to stay alive. 


A dead man must unlock the secrets of an unknown dimension to save his loved ones. 


From the visions of Socrates in ancient Athens, to the birth of free will aboard a spaceship headed to Earth, The Unity Game tells a story of hope and redemption in a universe more ingenious and surprising than you ever thought possible. 


Metaphysical thriller and interstellar mystery, this is a ‘complex, ambitious and thought-provoking novel’ from an exciting and original new voice in fiction.


Book Links:

 
Meet the Characters:
 
The Setting: EarthNew York City. The 1990s. One of the world’s leading investment banks.


The Setting: Space


A distant planet. A dry surface orbited by three red moons and circling a distant sun. An advanced civilization living in underground chambers.


The Setting: Death


An open door. A library. A room of knowledge. A garden of dazzling color. The answers to every question that has ever been asked on Earth.




Meet David


A brilliant scientist and wildly ambitious, David abandoned an academic path to follow the glow of Wall Street money. From a small town in Canada, he is now determined to make the riches he has given up his scientific talents for. He is always on edge, he must prove he is better than the other bankers, he has to win the best deals. However, he is easy pickings for the multi-million dollar bosses who see how they can use a greedy, naïve young man for their own purposes. David falls further into risk, mistakes and desperation, clutching at anything around him as his dreams and world falls apart.




Meet Noe-bouk


Dry dust. Three red moons. A member of one of the most advanced civilizations in the universe, taught to believe that all the answers come naturally from the incontrovertible logic of the greatest good. Now, facing death, Noe-bouk decides to find out if there is something more than what he has been taught. Accepting a place on a space ship, the further he gets from the moons of Home Planet the more he understands that he knows nothing at all…




Meet Alisdair


A respected lawyer. An adoring grandfather. Alisdair collapses outside his law offices in London and finds himself standing beside his unmoving corpse. He feels wonderful! He spots some wide open doors and bounds through them to discover a library, a garden, and his dead wife. All his life he has burned with the questions of the universe: what is the purpose of existence? What is good and evil? How far does the infinite stretch? With an afterworld guide and his wife at his side, his only limits now are to come up with new questions as all of his horizons expand beyond imagination…


Meet Elspeth


Beautiful, young, angry. Apart from her beloved grandfather Alisdair, Elspeth has been let down by everyone in her life. She’s rejected her parents and their easy choices, she sees no meaning in the structures of society. She has always felt lost, and now the death of her grandfather is forcing her to make choices. With some money he has left her, she decides to follow a feeling and go on an adventure.


Meet Socrates


Legendary philosopher, pion of bravery and morality, a figure so strong his ideas and presence pervade the centuries and the dimensions of time and space. Who else would Alisdair call upon in the afterworld to help his granddaughter Elspeth, than the man he has revered his entire life, and whose teachings guided him? Yes, Elspeth can be helped, but she must be brought together with another soul – one who has truly lost their path. 

Reviews for The Unity Game
 
 “A complex, ambitious and thought-provoking novel.” ~ Kirkus Reviews


“Elegantly written, expertly crafted and a moving message. I found this book very hard to put down. Moving and poignant.” ~ Lilly, Amazon US reviewer“An engrossing, unique, and totally bizarre tale! I could not stop reading it once I started. Such a beautiful take on the afterlife, and its connection to those still living. A unity game, indeed!”~ Brenna, Goodreads reviewer

 
About the Author:
Leonora Meriel grew up in London and studied literature at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland and Queen’s University in Canada. She worked at the United Nations in New York, and then for a multinational law firm.
In 2003 she moved from New York to Kyiv, where she founded and managed Ukraine’s largest Internet company. She studied at Kyiv Mohyla Business School and earned an MBA, which included a study trip around China and Taiwan, and climbing to the top of Hoverla, Ukraine’s highest peak and part of the Carpathian Mountains. She also served as President of the International Women’s Club of Kyiv, a major local charity.
During her years in Ukraine, she learned to speak Ukrainian and Russian, witnessed two revolutions and got to know an extraordinary country at a key period of its development.
In 2008, she decided to return to her dream of being a writer, and to dedicate her career to literature. In 2011, she completed The Woman Behind the Waterfall, set in a village in western Ukraine. While her first novel was with a London agent, Leonora completed her second novel The Unity Game, set in New York City and on a distant planet.
Leonora currently lives in Barcelona and London and has two children. She is working on her third novel.
Contact the Author:

 

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BOOK BLITZ: Castles in the Air by Sangeet Sharma

About the Book:

Publisher: Rumour Book India
Edition: First edition (2017)
ISBN: 978-1945563850
Genre: Fiction
Format: Paperback
Pages: 234
Price: 299/-

Laughter is said to be the best elixir and the book is a satire on architecture written by one who knows the bricks and concrete of the profession by heart.

The author, an architect himself, delves into the journey of a professional practice. The book is witty with acerbic humor.

Word by word, sentence by sentence, page by page, every scene unfolds like a screenplay, leaving the reader amazed with the brutalities of life in architecture, and life itself.
Book Links:
Reviews for the Book:

 

 

 

 

About the Author:
Sangeet Sharma is a practicing architect in Chandigarh. He is a partner in SD Sharma & Associates, a well-known firm of the region founded by his father Ar. SD Sharma, an eminent Architect. Widely acknowledged and awarded Ar. Sangeet Sharma commands an undisputed international reputation in profession. Carrying forward the legacy and vocabulary established by his father he is fascinated by geometrical forms.
By looking at every drawn line as built spaces he follows a certain rationale to his reflective practice. His buildings are based on sustainable applications.
He is a multifaceted personality. He is a poet, Architectural critic, writer, artist and author. He has authored Architecture, Life and Me, published by Rupa and Co., a memoir that takes an all-round view of the profession.
Contact the Author:

BOOK BLITZ: Robert’s Rules by J.F. Riordan

Literary Fiction
North of the Tension Line, Book Three
Date Published:  May 23, 2018
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As the new Chairman of the Town Board, Fiona Campbell finds that life has become a series of petty squabbles, dull meetings, and papers everywhere, all complicated by her guardianship of the as yet unidentified screaming goat. In desperation, she hires an unknown newcomer, the compulsively orderly Oliver Robert, to run her office and keep her organized.
Roger’s fame as an idiosyncratic yoga practitioner continues to spread, and he and Elisabeth are looking for a new location to accommodate the growing crowds at their tiny coffee shop. Ferry Captain and poet Pali has an offer to leave the Island, and wonders whether it is time to introduce his son, Ben, to the larger world. Meanwhile, the Fire Chief is threatening to quit, and Fiona finds herself faced with an Island controversy and an unwanted set of new responsibilities.
As Pete Landry prepares to leave for one of his regular journeys, Fiona begins to suspect that his life may be more than it seems. His secrecy raises doubts in her mind about whether he can be trusted, and their breakup plunges her into grief.  The reliable Jim, always nearby, is all too ready to offer comfort.
Robert’s Rules is Book Three in the award-winning North of the Tension Line series, set on a remote island in the Great Lakes. Called a modern-day Jane Austen, author J.F. Riordan creates wry, engaging tales and vivid characters that celebrate the well-lived life of the ordinary man and woman.
 
Other Books in the North of the Tension Line Series:
North of the Tension Line
Published: May 2016
Fiona Campbell is a newcomer to tiny Ephraim, Wisconsin. Populated with artists and summer tourists, Ephraim has just enough going on to satisfy her city tastes. But she is fascinated and repelled by the furthest tip of Door County peninsula, Washington Island, utterly removed from the hubbub of modern life. Fiona’s visits there leave her refreshed in spirit, but convinced that only lunatics and hermits could survive a winter in its frigid isolation.
In a moment of weakness, Fiona is goaded into accepting a dare that she cannot survive the winter on the island in a decrepit, old house. Armed with some very fine single malt scotch and a copy of Meditations by Marcus Aurelius, Fiona sets out to win the dare, and discovers that small town life is not nearly as dull as she had foreseen. Abandoning the things she has always thought important, she encounters the vicious politics of small town life, a ruthless neighbor, persistent animals, a haunted ferry captain, and the peculiar spiritual renewal of life north of the tension line.
North of the Tension Line, Book Two
Release Date: May 23, 2018
Publisher: Beaufort Books
All is not well north of the tension line. A series of unsettling nighttime incidents have left the islanders uncertain whether to be nervous or annoyed. Are they victims of an elaborate teenage prank, or is there a malevolent stranger lurking on the island? Meanwhile, out-of-state owners of a new goat farm seem to consider themselves the self-proclaimed leaders of the island; Pali, the ferry captain, is troubled by his own unique version of writer’s block; and Ben, the captain’s ten year-old son, appears to be hiding something. But it is only when the imperturbable Lars Olafsen announces his retirement, and Stella declares her candidacy for office, that the islanders realize trouble is brewing. Fiona must decide whether it is time to leave the island for good, or to make another reckless gamble.
Book two in the award-winning North of the Tension Line series, The Audacity of Goats is the continuing tale of Fiona Campbell, and her reluctant adventures among the pleasures, mysteries, and exasperations of small town life
 Excerpt
Pete looked over at Fiona. “That stop sign…I’m sure it was only a suggestion.”
“Never mind,” said Fiona blithely. “There was no one around.”
“I’m here,” said Pete.
She glanced at him briefly and returned her eyes to the road.
Pete sighed pointedly, but continued the conversation.
“It’s never occurred to me that books should match,” he said.
“That’s because you read. Well, also probably because you’re male,” Fiona conceded. “But serious people. I mean, people who care about ideas, and about actually reading, don’t have matching books. If anything, their books are a haphazard reflection of the search for knowledge, reflecting the wanderings of a person’s curiosity. There’s nothing matching about that.”
“I don’t think I’ve ever been to a house with matching books.”
“How about a house with just one set of encyclopedias and not one other book? Have you been to one of those?
“Encyclopedias? Who has encyclopedias anymore?”
“Well, you know what I mean.”
“You have thought a great deal about this.”
Fiona looked sheepish. “Yes. Because it’s a form of pretention, and I detest pretention.” She pulled into a parking space that had been more or less invented between the cedar trees and pulled on the brake, continuing the conversation without turning off the engine.
“It’s showing off that you have books, even while it’s clear that the books are only props. And, also,” she confessed, “it bothers me because their houses are so beautiful, and mine is full of haphazardly unmatching books.”
“And stacked everywhere, by the way. We need to get you some more bookcases. But if it’s clear that the books are props,” he said, returning to the main point, “isn’t it also clear that the person doesn’t actually read them? In which case, I would argue that it’s not pretension, it’s actually the opposite: no pretense whatsoever, just, perhaps, shallowness. Now, if an unserious person were to have lots of unmatching books that he had never read and were trying to make people believe that he’s read them, that would be pretentious. So, you should shift the focus of your wrath to owners of never-read, unmatching books. Leave the poor matching people alone. They don’t know what they’re missing.”
Laughing, Fiona looked at him and shook her head. “Stop looking so pleased with yourself.”
“I am pleased, though. I have unmatching books, and I read them. Q.E.D. I feel smug.”
“If you were the kind of person who felt smug, I wouldn’t like you.”
Pete smiled. “I feel smug about that, too.”
Laughing and shaking her head, Fiona turned off the engine. They gathered their things from the trunk of the car and headed off toward the water and its rocky beach. “How would you even find the book you wanted if they were all wrapped in matching paper?” asked Pete, slinging the straps of the beach chair bags over his shoulder.
“Exactly,” said Fiona.
About the Author

J.F. Riordan was born in New Jersey and first moved to Michigan, then Wisconsin as a child. At the age of 14 she decided to become an opera singer, and was fortunate in the aftermath to have been able to sing. At 16, after two years of high school, she went to the University of New Mexico to study voice, continued her music studies in Chicago and Milwaukee, and ultimately became a professional singer. Homesick after years of travel, she came home to the Midwest, finished her college degree, and became certified to teach high school. She taught for three years in the inner city before taking a position as a program officer for a foundation. She lives in exile from Washington Island with her husband and two dogs. North of the Tension Line is her first novel.
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Gables Court by Alan S. Kessler: A Character Looking for Love, a Novel Looking for a Plot

Gables CourtGables Court

by Alan S. Kessler

Kindle Edition, 268 pg.
Black Rose Writing, 2018
Read: May 8 – 9, 2018

Ugh. Just…ugh. Why? Why would anyone bother publishing this?

I like liking things. I want to enjoy books. But every now and then, too often lately, I come across a book that I can’t find a redeeming feature in. This is one of those.

It is impossible, simply impossible, for someone to get through Law School (and the requisite undergrad program) and come out as naive as Samuel Baas. I would think that’d be particularly true in the 1960’s. If, if Baas had been sheltered his entire life and escaped/was released at age 24, many of his conversations would have been appropriate. But for someone with his education? Nope. Conversations at any age, on personal or professional topics.

I use the word “conversation” loosely — primarily, his conversations are monologues with a little bit of interaction between those involved tagged on.

There are several attempts at plot lines, but Kessler doesn’t seem to commit to them wholly — or for long. The novel seems listless, bouncing around from idea to idea, trying out this thing and then another and another — like a college freshman deciding on a major. I’m not suggesting any of these ideas were interesting or well-executed, but there were a lot of them.

There’s no ending to this book, it just stops. Baas has learned nothing — any epiphanies he’s had or changes he’s made evaporate faster than dew in the desert. To say I was frustrated by the ending is an understatement.

There’s part of me that wants to go on and pick this apart — but why? No one wants to read that — maybe if I was more annoyed by it and mustered up some funny comments, but I just don’t care enough to. This book induced apathy and a general sense of ennui. Gables Court was aimless, listlessly written, dull and an utter waste of time.

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the author, clearly my opinion wasn’t influenced by that.

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1 Star

Reluctant Courage by Rica Newbery: I just can’t muster the energy to excoriate this

Reluctant CourageReluctant Courage

by Rica Newbery

eARC, 234 pg.
BookVenture, 2017

Read: May 5 – 7, 2018

When I don’t like a book (yes, it’s going to be one of those posts), sometimes I’m tempted to describe all the problems I had with the book. And some deserve it. But generally, I don’t want to do that — it seems mean, a lot of this is subjective anyway, and someone poured themselves into their book and why kick them?

So I’ll keep this short and vague.

We’re in Oslo, two years into the Nazi occupation. One thing that’s easy to forget is that even under oppressive governments, life goes on — people love, get married, have kids, go to school, have affairs, abuse substances, and whatnot. Sure, you’ve got to be careful about it — you don’t want to attract the attention of the oppressors or anything, but hey, into each life family turmoil must fall.

Maria and her three daughters (and sometimes her husband) spend so much time bickering and fighting with, or just hurting, each other that it’s almost like they forgot there are Nazi soldiers walking the streets. Sadly, throughout, the antagonism and outbreaks of anger, or sadness, or what have you, don’t feel organic, but rather the results of authorial need. Their lives are filled with poverty, hardship, disease and bitterness — and more than a few attitudes that don’t seem genuine for anyone living tat that point in history (with or without Nazi soldiers on the streets).

I do want to stress that everything that happens is plausible, is possibly based on fact — I’m not commenting on that. It’s the frequently melodramatic way this novel depicts it — it’s just not well-written. Shallow characterization, poor pacing, and strange organization are what dooms this.

There’s one scene that comes out of nowhere that gave me a little hope for the book when someone (who’d basically be depicted as a horrible person) risks life and career to save some Jewish families from arrest. It’s a long time before anything comes from that one scene. I didn’t dislike and/or get put off by the whole book, there was a point that I breathed a sigh of relief — something interesting was finally happening. It was page 148 when I noted that. Sadly, most of what followed (at least the parts that had to do with that event) was hard to believe — and was shoehorned in with a few other storylines for the last 80 pages.

Dull, cliche-filled, aimless, and difficult to believe. Don’t waste your time on this.

Disclaimer: I was given a copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinion.

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1 1/2 Stars

My Man Jeeves (Audiobook) by P. G. Wodehouse, Simon Prebble: Tales of Rich Fools Fail to Amuse

My Man JeevesMy Man Jeeves

by P. G. Wodehouse, Simon Prebble (Narrator)

Unabridged Audiobook, 5 Hrs., 8 min.
Blackstone Audio, Inc., 2006
Read: April 24 – 25, 2018
This is a collection of eight short stories — half of them starring Jeeves and Wooster, the other half featuring Reggie Pepper (who is basically Wooster without Jeeves). Like the rest of the books featuring Jeeves and Wooster, this is frequently hailed as a comedic classic, a masterpiece, and has no dearth of fans — highbrow and lowbrow alike.

I am not one of them. Wooster and Pepper are vapid, privileged aristocrats — vain, insipid, too wealthy and seeming incapable of narrating — or conversing — in coherent sentences. Jeeves is a frequently (but not infallibly) conniving and tricky valet, who seemingly knows more than anyone else around him. I honestly don’t know if I’d want him working for me, he’s too nosy, too duplicitous for my taste. All the characters get into farcical situations that are complicated and entirely of their own devices. If they could just be upfront and honest with others (including each other), their lives would be far less complicated.

Prebble did a fine job, I think. Yeah, I had no patience for any of the narrators of the stories — but that’s not on him. That’s totally on the characters. I think he grabbed the personalities perfectly. I just don’t see why anyone would bother.

I’m primarily posting about this experience as a reminder to myself: Just give up, HC. You and Wodehouse are just not compatible. You may have friends (Internet-based and Real Life) that love him, but you just don’t understand the appeal.

Not funny. Not amusing. Not charming. Pretty much a waste of time. Just can’t recommend this to anyone.

—–

2 Stars

The Italian Teacher by Rom Rachman

The Italian TeacherThe Italian Teacher

by Tom Rachman

Hardcover, 336 pg.
2018, Riverrun

Read: April 2 – 5, 2018

I am going to say some nice things about this book, but the thing that kept going through my mind — for at least the first two-thirds — was: haven’t I read this before? There are a couple of Richard Russo books hidden here, one Matthew Norman — and I want to say DeLillo, Tropper and Weiner, too, but I can’t put my finger on which of those — and probably a few others that I don’t recall. That’s not necessarily a bad thing — we’ve all read plenty of books that are just variations on well-established themes. What I had to ask myself was: did Rachman have anything new to say with his take? Did he throw in some interesting twists to the mix? Was it a rewarding experience for the reader? I think my answers were: not really, sort of, and not particularly.

The novel revolves around Bear Bavinsky, a painter of renown, an iconoclast, a rock star in a pre-rock star age — and a serial monogamist on his second marriage when we meet him. He’s essentially a Jeff Bridges character. His son, Charles (nicknamed Pinch) idolizes him (many of his children do, but Charles doesn’t get over it the way most do). Bear is mercurial, irresponsible, unfaithful, arrogant, and incredibly charming. Really, the difference between Rachman’s Bear Bavinsky and Russo’s Donald “Sully” Sullivan is that Bear has money (that’s just to help you understand him, not a commentary on the character). When he turns on the charm, he can get seemingly anyone — detractor, fan, or something in between — to feel important, to feel pivotal, captivating, and so on. Most people shake off this effect after a couple of days (although they seem to hold on to a little bit of it for decades) — Charles never does. He spends his life striving for his father’s attention, favor, affection — anything. He shapes his life around those things which will hopefully get Bear’s approval — and when he fails (or at least, doesn’t succeed as he hopes) in the endeavor, and/or doesn’t get Bear’s approval he has a moment of clarity, stumbles into something else and then eventually falls back into the search for his Father’s approbation.

Ironically, compared to the rest of Bear’s kids, Charles has that approval. He just doesn’t realize it — and maybe it’s because the rest have given up and don’t seek him out as much. We follow Charles’ life from childhood, to adolescence (living with a divorced mother now), in college, early adulthood and then in his 50s. Striving for significance, striving for something beyond his reach — and yearning for his father. It’s a decent, if lonely, life — and could’ve been something better if he hadn’t allowed so much of it to be shaped by his father, what Charles things his father wants, and then listening to his father’s input when he really shouldn’t.

As the jacket copy says, “Until one day, Pinch begins an astonishing plan that’ll change art history forever…” It stops being a book that I’ve read before (mostly), takes on its own flavor — and gets worse. But your results may vary.

I thought Bear was an interesting character — but not one I wanted to spend a lot of time with. I felt too much pity for Charles to really get invested in him. No one else in the book was really worth the effort. The story was unimpressive and oddly paced. Which is not to say it’s a bad novel, it’s just not one I could appreciate that much. There were conversations, scenes, etc. that were just great. I kept waiting for there to be a moment (probably the “Until one day…”) that this book turned for me — like Rachman’s last one did — and it never came.

Maybe it was just my mood, maybe it’s my utter incapability of appreciating visual art, maybe it’s actually Rachman stumbling. I don’t know — this just didn’t work for me. Am I glad I read it? I think so — if only because I don’t have to wonder what the new Rachman book is like. I’m still giving it 3 stars because of the skill Rachman displayed — I just didn’t enjoy what he did with it.

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3 Stars

2018 Library Love Challenge