Days of Prey Tour and Giveaway! Night Prey by John Sandford

Prepare yourselves..the STORM is coming!

On May 18th, the highly anticipated 20th book in John Sandford’s bestselling Prey series, Storm Prey, will hit the shelves.  Leading up to this latest release, each blogger on the Days of Prey tour was asked to read one book in the series and fill in a questionnaire, creating a timeline.

If you’re not familiar with these books, you can follow the tour in order of the dates the books were published and get to know Lucas Davenport, the brilliant detective/ladies man who is the star of the Prey series.

I was not familiar with this author or these books (where have I been??)  Let me tell you.. John Sandford and his very smooth character, Lucas Davenport, have a brand new fan!!

The book I read is the sixth in the series, called Night Prey.

Year published: 1994

Tell us about Lucas Davenport:

Lucas is described as “a tall man with heavy shoulders, dark-complected, square-faced, with the beginnings of crow’s feet at the corners of his eyes.  His dark hair was just touched with gray; his eyes were a startling blue.  A thin white scar crossed his forehead and right eye socket, and trailed down to the corner of his mouth.  He looked like a veteran athlete, a catcher or a hockey defenseman, recently retired.”  He knows everybody, is liked by all kinds of people, both men and women, and all types of people from street people to politicians respect him.

  • What is Lucas doing when he first appears in the book? Set up the scene.

Lucas is pulling up to a crime scene in his Porsche.  There’d been a fire at a machine shop that turned out to be a front for an illegal gun running operation.  It fell outside of his Minneapolis jurisdiction, but because a cop had been killed, and it was one of his contacts, he was called in.

  • Give us a sense of time and place.

The story takes place in the present and is set in and around Minneapolis/St. Paul.

  • Lucas’s occupation or professional role?

Lucas has recently been appointed Deputy Chief of the Minneapolis PD.  He’d left the department two years earlier and had gone full time with his own company, designing games and writing simulations for police dispatch computers.  He’d been making a fortune (thus the Porsche) when the new chief asked him to come back, with two objectives: put away the most dangerous and active criminals, and cover the department on the odd crimes likely to attract media attention.  So he hired a full time administrator to run his company and took the chief’s offer.  When this book opens, he’s only been back on the street for a month.

  • Lucas’s personal status (single, dating, married):

Lucas is in love.  He has a live in girlfriend, Weather Karkinnen, a surgeon in her late thirties.  He thinks they’ll get married, but she has said to him, “Don’t ask yet.”  He’s never experienced this kind of closeness and passion with anyone.  She makes him happy and he thinks about her all the time.  And yet, he’s still a bit flirty with other women, particularly an on camera news reporter for TV3, Jan Reed.  Lucas really likes and appreciates women.

  • Lucas Davenport is a known clothes-horse; did you notice any special fashion references?

There are many.  Right away you notice his attention to detail.  When he enters his office, he hangs his suit jacket carefully on a wooden hanger.  He buys his suits in New York.  At a crime scene, he takes a plastic raincoat out from the trunk of his car and lays it on the edge of a dumpster before hoisting himself up to look inside, protecting his clothes.  Once during an investigation, a woman flipped his designer tie over to check the tag.. Hermes.

Let’s talk about the mystery:

  • Avoiding spoilers, what was the crime/case being solved?

A psychopathic serial killer is killing women in a ripper/slasher fashion and has started carving the initials S J into their bodies.  Meagan Connell, an investigator who has a personal interest in the case and has painstakingly documented every detail of several murders trying to find a connection, is anxious to see the case solved quickly, as she is dying.  She teams up with Lucas Davenport to catch the maniac.

  • Does the title of your book relate to the crime?

It does.  The killings are all committed at night.

Who was your favorite supporting character, good or evil?

I really liked Meagen.  She’s tough, carries a gun and knows how to use it.  She’s focused and won’t take no for an answer.  But she also has a mile-wide chip on her shoulder and is almost militantly feminist with Lucas at first, calling him a “macho asshole.”  She relaxes a bit later on but at first her guard is up (WAY up).  After a tense initial meeting, they shake hands, and then..

She’d opted for peace, Lucas thought; but her hand was cold.  “I read your file,” he said.  “That’s nice work.”

“The possession of a vagina doesn’t necessarily indicate stupidity,” Connell said.

What was your favorite scene or quote?

One favorite scene was when they’d just left a bookstore, where the owner had mentioned to Lucas that he’d been beefing up the poetry section.  Meagan asks Lucas about it and he tells her he reads poetry.  She doesn’t believe him, calls him a liar and demands he recite a poem.  So he does- Emily Dickinson, no less.

Another scene I liked is when Lucas observes Weather performing surgery and has all kinds of new insight into her personality.

But the best and most memorable scene came at the end, and I don’t want to spoil it for anyone.  Let’s just say it’s a satisfying conclusion to the story!

Finally, how do you envision Lucas Davenport? If he were to be portrayed in a movie, what celebrity would play him?

I think Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson would portray Lucas perfectly!  He’s got that rugged/sexy thing going and cleans up great.  You can picture him working a case in an alley, talking to drug dealers in a junkyard, or all dressed up for a night out.  Or in a towel after a shower.  He’s.. umm.. versatile in that way.

Night Prey is a wild thrill ride of a novel and John Sandford is hugely talented with this genre.  I wondered at first if I’d like it because you know the identity of the killer from the very first chapter, however as it turns out it wasn’t a problem.  The reader doesn’t know what the killer is going to do next or how it will all play out, which keeps you turning the pages.  This was my first time reading a series out of order and I worried about that too, but again it was no problem.  These books can stand alone.  Like I said earlier, I’ve become a brand new John Sandford fan, and can’t wait to read more of this series!

Be sure to check out the other stops on this tour:

Monday, May 3rd:

Rules of Prey:  Rundpinne

Shadow Prey:  Boarding in my Forties

Tuesday, May 4th:

Silent Prey:  Chick with Books

Wednesday, May 5th:

Winter Prey:  The Bluestocking Guide

Night Prey:  Books on the Brain

Thursday, May 6th:

Mind Prey:  Jen’s Book Thoughts

Sudden Prey:  Starting Fresh

Friday, May 7th:

Secret Prey:  Fantasy & SciFi Loving News & Reviews

Certain Prey:  My Two Blessings

Monday, May 10th:

Easy Prey:  Lesa’s Book Critiques

Chosen Prey:  Reading with Monie

Tuesday, May 11th:

Mortal Prey:  Musings of a Bookish Kitty

Naked Prey:  Dan’s Journal

Wednesday, May 12th

Hidden Prey:  Novel Whore

Broken Prey:  You’ve GOTTA read this!

Thursday, May 13th:

Invisible Prey:  Booktumbling.com

Friday, May 14th:

Phantom Prey:  The Novel Bookworm

Monday, May 17th:

Wicked Prey: A Bookworm’s World

Tuesday, May 18th:

Storm Prey:  Bermuda Onion

Follow The Days of Prey Tour and follow the Lucas Davenport timeline! While you’re checking out The Days of Prey Tour at the Penguin Group site, you can also read an excerpt from every single Prey novel there.  Read an excerpt of the latest release,  Storm Prey!  And here’s the direct link to read an excerpt of Night Prey.  Learn more about John Sandford at his website, JohnSandford.org

ENTER TO WIN a copy of Night Prey PLUS an ARC (Advanced Reading Copy) of the new book, Storm Prey, right here!  Just leave a comment and let me know what you think of my choice of Dwayne Johnson to play Lucas Davenport.  I personally think it’s genius 🙂  Hollywood, are you listening??

Keeping the Feast – Winter Reading Series Announcement!

Ah, winter.  For me it is the most perfect time of year for reading.  Something about cold weather and short days makes me all snugglish, and then add to that a warm mug of something yummy, a fuzzy sweater, a cozy chair.  What else completes that idyllic mental picture better than a book, right?

Have I got one for you…

I’ve teamed up again with Mari from Bookworm with a View for a Winter Reading Series!  We had so much fun with our Summer Series that we thought we’d do it again.

Our first selection is a perfect winter read called Keeping the Feast: One Couple’s Story of Love, Food and Healing in Italy by Paula Butturini.  Love?  Food?  Italy?? If you’re anything like me, that sounds really good, and vaguely familiar.. but wait, there’s more to it..

From the author’s website, here is the synopsis:

Keeping the Feast traces the path of a single bullet that upended the lives of an American couple reporting on the fall of Communism in 1989. Ultimately, though, it is a memoir that celebrates the healing to be found in the sharing of food, three times a day, among friends and family in Italy and France.

A bullet?  NOT exactly what you were expecting, eh?  Well, it is the time of year for surprises!

Ok, so here’s the deal.  I have 20 COPIES  of Keeping the Feast available for our reading series, compliments of Riverhead Books!  We’ll get the books out to everyone who’s interested in participating. Then 20 of us can discuss it here, and Paula will join in!  Think of it as a book club of sorts, except without the wine.  Well, you can have wine in front of your computer if you like.  Who’s gonna stop you?

E-mail me with your address (even if you think I have it!) to enter the drawing for a free copy of the book.  Put “Keeping the Feast” in the subject line, but please only request the book if you are interested in coming back for the  discussion.  Be sure it sounds like a book you’d enjoy.

Click here to read a full description of the book. Keeping the Feast will be in stores on February 18th, 2010, and the discussion will take place here in February – with the author participating ‘live’ for an hour!  I will post details for the discussion about a week before along with an email reminder to those who’ve won the book.

(Oh, and thank you to Sasha & the Silver Fish for reminding me to say that this is open to US/Canada residents only.  I apologize to our friends in other countries.)

I hope you’ll join us!

A Kid’s Review: Slob by Ellen Potter

31ddxnovrxl_sl500_aa240_Slob by Ellen Potter

Product Description from Amazon.com:

Twelve-year-old Owen Birnbaum is the fattest kid in school. But he’s also a genius who invents cool contraptions— like a TV that shows the past. Something happened two years ago that he needs to see. But genius or not, there is much Owen can’t outthink. Like his gym coach, who’s on a mission to humiliate him. Or the way his Oreos keep disappearing from his lunch. He’s sure that if he can only get the TV to work, things will start to make sense. But it will take a revelation for Owen, not science, to see the answer’s not in the past, but the present. That no matter how large he is on the outside, he doesn’t have to feel small on the inside.With her trademark humor, Ellen Potter has created a larger-than-life character and story whose weight is immense when measured in heart.

I received this ARC from Penguin and before I could even look it over, my 11 year old daughter snapped it up.  Maybe it was the Oreo cookie on the cover, or maybe it was the title, but she devoured the book in less than 2 days.   It’s a YA novel meant for kids 9-12 years old.  Rather than review it, my daughter wanted me to ask her questions about it, so here we go!

What is Slob about?  Who is the main character?

Slob is about a fat genius named Owen who tries to figure out a mystery about his parents.  Owen is 12 years old and goes to middle school. 

What challenges does Owen face?  

Owen is overweight, which presents a lot of problems for him, especially in gym class, where his coach is out to get him and embarrass him.  Someone suggests he get a ‘fat exemption’ from the doctor but he decides to tough it out.  Owen wants to solve the mystery about his parents so he builds Nemesis, a radio/television that can see the past and expand on what was caught on the security footage of a camera across the street from their deli.  It’s complicated.

How would you describe the book?  What was your favorite part?

I would describe it as suspenseful.  It has both serious and funny parts.  It’s mostly a mystery. The cover is really cool.  On the cookie, where it would say “Oreo”, it says “A Novel”.  The part I liked best were the parts at school, because he helps his arch-enemy recover from a seizure, and then they become friends.  

Were the characters believable?

I thought they were.  I liked Owen but the character I found most interesting was Mason Ragg.  He has one brown eye and one milky-blue eye and half his face is always sneering due to a medical condition.  It was rumored that Mason carried a switchblade in his sock, but it turned out it was just a key carrier.  There was another rumor that he was kicked out of his old school for being a handful.  It shows that people often make assumptions based on incorrect information. Mason knew about his reputation but didn’t let it bother him.

Did you like the ending?  Is there anything you’d change?

I did.  Owen learned a lot about himself by the end of the book.  He never did solve the mystery about his parents, but maybe some things are better left unsolved.

Who would you recommend this book to?  

I’d recommend this book to middle school kids, kids who’ve been bullied, kids who are friends with a bully, kids who are different, and kids who love to read.  It’s an easy read, and not too long (208 pages).  I’d give it 4 out of 5 stars.  

 

Slob by Ellen Potter will be released on May 14th, 2009.  

Review: Sonata for Miriam by Linda Olsson

us-cover-compressedSonata for Miriam by Linda Olsson is about silence and loss. On the day his daughter Miriam dies, musician Adam Anker visits a War Memorial Museum in New Zealand, where he finds a photograph of a man who shares the name he was born with, Adam Lipski, and a note from Adam’s sister. Putting that information aside as he grieves the loss of his daughter, he returns to the mystery of his past a year later. His quest for answers takes him to Krakow, Poland, where he meets an old friend of Lipski’s who can fill in the blanks of his past for him. There is also some unfinished business with Cecilia, the mother of his daughter, who he hasn’t been in contact with for 19 years- the entirety of their daughter’s life.

Adam’s mother was silent about their family, where they came from, and who his father was. As frustrated as Adam had been throughout his life about this lack of fundamental information, he did the very same thing to his daughter Miriam. He never told her anything about her mother, even though she had begun to ask, and with her death he regretfully could never make that right.

Cecilia has lived alone on the island where she spent her childhood summers for the entire time she and Adam have been apart. The symbolism in the fact that both Adam and Cecilia live on islands, worlds away from each other, wasn’t lost on me- we humans are all islands in a sense, but these two cherish their solitude more than most and shy away from human connection. Cecelia’s story takes some major twists- large events worthy of their own separate novel. One important thing we find out is why she gave Adam the painful choice of being her partner or being Miriam’s father (one or the other, not both).

I thought that after nearly two decades of silence, Cecilia would crave information about the daughter she let go the way the desert craves the rain. Adam awakened long-buried feelings in Cecilia, and he does tell her about Miriam eventually, but it feels like Adam is the one who needs to tell, rather than Cecilia is the one who needs to hear. The beautiful sonata he has written for their daughter is what finally unlocks the silence between them.

This book has a dreamlike quality that I enjoyed, although, as often happens with dreams, I wasn’t always clear about what was going on. The book is divided into 6 sections, with the first three narrated by Adam, four and five narrated by Cecilia, and the 6th back to Adam. The transition was a little disorienting. When I realized there was a new narrator I had to go back and re-read several pages with that new voice in my head. At some point, maybe about 100 pages in, Adam starts speaking directly to Cecilia as if she is the reader. When Cecilia takes over, she is speaking directly to Adam as if he is the reader. It took some getting used to. However, I enjoyed the book for it’s exquisite prose, and would recommend it to those with an appreciation for beautiful language.

Linda Olsson is also the author of the acclaimed novel, Astrid and Veronika. You can visit the author’s website HERE. Thanks to Penguin for sending Sonata for Miriam for me to review.

Book Giveaway from Penguin: The Rose of Sebastopol by Katharine McMahon

roseofsebastopol_finalMatt from Penguin Group USA is graciously offering this beautiful book, The Rose of Sebastopol by Katharine McMahon, to be given away in my big fat 100K Celebration!  Isn’t that a romantical cover?  I don’t know about you but I am not above choosing a book based on the cover alone.  Come on, you know you do it too.  Leave a comment by Saturday, February 21st,  for a chance to win this lovely book (US and Canada residents only).  It’s coming out in hardcover March 5th but is available for pre-orders now.

Here is the product description from amazon.com.  The first person who can correctly guess why I got a big chuckle out of it gets 5 EXTRA CHANCES TO WIN.

The #1 UK bestseller comes to America— a sweeping historical novel about love, war, betrayal, and discovery.

In 1854, beautiful, adventurous Rosa Barr travels to the Crimean battlefield with Florence Nightingale’s nursing corps. A headstrong idealist, longing to break out of the rigid confines of life as a young lady, Rosa is determined to make a difference in the world.

For Mariella Lingwood, Rosa’s cousin, the war is contained within the pages of her scrapbook, in her London sewing circle, and in the letters she receives from her fiancé, Henry—a celebrated surgeon who has also volunteered to work within the shadow of the guns. When Henry falls ill and is sent to recuperate in Italy, Mariella impulsively decides she must go to him. But upon her arrival at his lodgings, she makes a heartbreaking discovery: Rosa has disappeared without a trace. Following the trail of her elusive cousin, Mariella’s epic journey takes her from the domestic restraint of Victorian London to the ravaged landscape of the Crimea and the tragic city of Sebastopol, where she encounters Rosa’s dashing stepbrother, a reckless cavalry officer whose complex past —and future—is inextricably bound up with her own. As Mariella’s quest leads her deeper into the dark heart of the conflict, her ordered world begins to crumble and she finds she has much to learn about secrecy, faithfulness, and love. 

WHAT MADE ME LAUGH?  IS IT TOO OBVIOUS?  DON’T FORGET:  THE FIRST PERSON TO GUESS CORRECTLY GETS 5 EXTRA CHANCES TO WIN!