Seven Ways We Lie by Riley Redgate

Seven Ways We Lie
by
Riley Redgate

Rating:

High school is no walk in the park for seven angst-ridden teenagers and friendships are stretched to their limits when Paloma High School officials receive an anonymous tip about an inappropriate student-teacher relationship. In this debut novel, written by then-college student Riley Redgate, lies routinely mask the deep secrets and insecurities of students at a Kansas high school and, as the investigation continues, their secrets come out in painful revelations.

The story is written from seven different points of view which the author has matched to the seven deadly sins:  lust, envy, greed, sloth, gluttony, wrath and pride, giving the reader the task of figuring out which character fits which sin. While some of them are friends, others are on the fringe, but the scandal brings them together and forces them to face the moral question of what to tell.

I enjoyed reading this YA novel. It has a clever structure and is very readable, but also addresses many important themes:  pressure to succeed, fitting in, bullying, friendship, love, teenage sexuality, loneliness and troubled family relationships. Despite the book’s heavy drama, the story has a prevailing optimistic message: that it’s okay to be different. In addition, I particularly like how the characters grow and develop strong relationships that would have been unlikely if there had been no scandal.

A couple things bothered me about the story, however. A student has overheard a conversation from behind a closed door, so no names come with the anonymous tip yet the school immediately runs with it. The principal calls an assembly and asks students for help in finding out who is involved. Then the school administration interviews each student and broadcasts updates and pleas for more information during the morning announcements. This approach seems highly unrealistic to me. No preliminary investigation before going public, full credence to the person who sent the tip. A later tip also leads to swift school action, with no checks to whether it’s valid.

My other issue is that each student seems to have a serious secret, brought on by intense personal and family relationship issues in which the parents play very passive parenting roles. Of course these problems are what drive the story, but the author’s many themes are compressed into the seven students, making me wonder if any of them know what a normal day is like.

To write a book like this while still in college, however, is a remarkable accomplishment and I think the author shows a lot of talent, particularly when she develops certain characters. I also love the cover, which is what attracted me to the book and convinced me to read it. I look forward to more books by Redgate and recommend Seven Ways We Lie to readers who like books with modern teen drama.

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Friday Fiction – Launch – Chapter 5

Hello and welcome to Friday Fiction! How many of you have an unpublished book tucked away in a folder and are wondering what to do with your story?

I have a few of those books, gathering computer dust. They are imperfect, full of plot holes but were very fun to write. If you’re finding Friday Fiction for the first time, I’ve recently posted small chapters of one of these books. The story is Launch and is about how people are forced to redefine themselves. After all, nothing stays the same, does it?

Today we meet Ted and Cindy Clarke’s son Brian. He’s recently graduated college and is on the brink of big changes.

I hope you will take a look and if you like the story, check out the links at the bottom of the post.


Launch – Chapter 5

Brian Clarke sat at the table next to his small galley kitchen.  He took the last swig of his beer and banged the bottle down, unintentionally, he would later say, on the table.  The noise echoed in the room when it’s first quiet and something loud invades the peace, and he heard a stir in the bedroom.  Good, he thought.  He got up, rinsed the bottle and dropped it in the recycle bin with reckless movements and grabbed another from the fridge.  Not knowing what to do with himself, but certainly not returning to the bedroom, Brian walked the short distance to the living area and sat down on the couch.

He grabbed the remote, took a sip from his beer and settled into a session of mindless TV.  Those were his expectations, at least.  He turned up the sound, a little too loud, he was later told, but he did it with satisfaction.  It was his apartment, after all.  If he wanted to get out of bed at 2:30 in the morning, drink beer and watch TV, he could do that.  He was paying rent to be able to do what he wanted.  It was the limping end of a Friday night, he’d worked all day, and he had the right.  Who cares that his girlfriend was in the bedroom, presumably asleep?

Denise Pagano had been Brian’s girlfriend since their sophomore year at Moravian.  They had met on the intramural soccer fields.  Brian had been warming up with his fraternity team when he’d noticed Denise with a group of girls.  They were laughing wildly at something unknown to him, a loud, exaggerated laughter and Brian had turned just in time to see Denise look away from her friends.  She had a broad smile on her face, the kind a person has at the height of laughter, at the recognition of a joke.  And she had locked her eyes on Brian just at that moment, before the laughter had begun to fade, so that she had shown him a secret and beautiful side of herself, without realizing it.

Brian took it in, gladly.  Denise had long black hair, wavy and thick.  It was pulled back in a messy ponytail, after a game of soccer, Brian presumed.  The girls, in shorts and matching team shirts, were walking off the field, heading his way.  He thought quickly of something to say.  Brian knew that it didn’t matter what you said exactly to a girl walking by, as long as it wasn’t rude or insulting, was somewhat clever and got her attention.  The trick was to get her to stop.  Brian was good at these greetings.  He’d developed this skill during high school, the grin and the witty comment, and he’d refined it somewhat during his first year at college.

“Who won?” he called to the group, hoping to catch Denise’s attention.

“We did, of course,” answered another girl, taking Brian in.  He smiled and looked at this girl.  Also nice, but he had been aiming for Denise.  His mind worked quickly.  He noticed an ice pack in Denise’s hand.  This was his opener.

He looked at Denise.  “Rough game?” he asked.  “No serious injuries, I hope.”

Denise smiled, “No, just a kick to the shin.”

“Well, good.  I don’t think they have trainers at these games,” he added.

“No,” she answered and then she smiled again.  She had stopped and was smiling at Brian.  His mind was working for something to say.

“Well, we’re up next,” he added, somewhat weakly, for although he had experience with these kinds of conversations, Denise’s smile and her dark, sparkly eyes were mixing him up.

He didn’t know this, he could only hope it, but Denise was taking Brian in just as much.  She liked his sandy brown hair, cut short in a buzz, but it had some style too.  She liked the way his brows framed his light brown eyes.  Or were they hazel or green?  She couldn’t tell exactly, in this light, for the sun seemed to be shining right on Brian’s face, like a sign from another force, locking her there in front of him.  She worried that she was gawking at him, looking foolish.

“Well, I hope you have a good game.  This was our last game before the playoffs.  Are you guys on the same schedule?”

Brian felt relieved.  She was interested.  By then the other girls were beginning to disperse.  But Denise stood with the first girl who had answered him.  They were both smiling.

“When does your game start?” she asked.

Brian grinned.  This was going well.  “Should be getting started any minute.  Do you girls want to stick around?”

Denise looked at her friend, sending a signal.  Brian knew girls liked to stick together in situations like this.  He knew Denise wasn’t going to stay unless her friend agreed.

“Sure, we can stay for a while.”

Signals sent and received.

“Great!” he answered.  Brian had a bit of an ego and even though this was just an intramural game, he had been a standout player in high school.  He had decided not to play in college, but he was competitive nonetheless.  He knew he was probably the best player on his frat team and now was his chance to show this girl.

“Well, I’ve got to go warm up.  My name’s Brian, by the way.”

“Hi, I’m Denise and this is Angie.”

They exchanged extra hellos and Brian turned to leave.  “Maybe I’ll see you two after the game?”

Denise smiled again.  “Maybe,” she answered.  And then, in an afterthought, “But I’m sure I’ll see you around otherwise.”

Thank you for reading.


Click on the chapter links to start from the beginning:

Launch – Chapter 1
Launch – Chapter 2 Part 1

Launch – Chapter 2 Part 2
Launch – Chapter 3
Launch – Chapter 4


Copyright © 2017 by Book Club Mom

All rights reserved.  All material on this blog is the property of Book Club Mom. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

Who’s That Indie Author? Sandra Butler

whos-that-indie-author

Author name:  Sandra Butler

Genre:  Non-fiction

BooksIt Never Ends; Mothering Middle-Aged Daughters (2017); Cancer In Two Voices (1988); Conspiracy of Silence: The Trauma of Incest (1978)


Bio:  In addition to her three non-fiction books, Butler is also the co-producer of the award-winning documentaries Cancer in Two Voices (1991) and Ruthie and Connie: Every Room in the House (2004). Both films screened in Toronto, Montreal, Berlin, and Sundance, and are widely used for training and educational purposes. She was a founding editor of Persimmon Tree, persimmontree.org, an on-line magazine by women over 60 for readers of all ages. She is the mother of two daughters and a lover of noir movies accompanied by buttered popcorn.

Favorite thing about being a writer: My favorite part of writing is finding truthful and skillful language that allows me to bring the issues affecting the lives of women and girls that still remain in the shadows, into clear focus on the page. Often working with difficult subject matter, I work to be inviting, illuminating and encouraging to my reader.

Biggest challenge as an indie author:  My experience has been a good one. Glide Church published my first book. Spinsters, Ink, a feminist press published the second, and She Writes, a feminist hybrid press published the most recent.  I have been blessed with three publishers who echo my values. My life is embedded in a series of overlapping communities, and they have served to allow my books to find their way into the larger world, for which I am very grateful.

Favorite books:  All of Mary Carr’s  books—for her scrupulous honesty
All of James Baldwin’s writing- for his courage and grace with language
All of Alice Munro’s short stories for expanding my sense of what it is to be human.

Contact Information:
website:  sandrabutler.net
email:  motheringdaughters@gmail.com         
Facebook: It-Never-Ends-Mothering-Middle-Aged-Daughters

Awards/special recognition:  Lambda Literary Award for Non-Fiction l991


Are you an indie author?  Do you want to build your indie author network? Get your name out on Who’s That Indie Author!

Email bvitelli2009@gmail.com for a bio template and other details.

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Last Stop in Brooklyn by Lawrence H. Levy

Last Stop in Brooklyn
by
Lawrence H. Levy

Rating:

It’s 1894 and Mary Handley, New York’s first female detective, has a lot on her plate in this clever historical mystery, the third in the series which features Handley as a fearless and modern-thinking independent woman during a time of major growth and social change. The story begins when Brian Murphy hires Mary to find out whether his wife is having an affair. Simple enough until she finds out what the wife is up to, which pertains to the real attempted assassination of Wall Street magnate and railroad titan Russell Sage. A second case brings Mary face-to-face with powerful industrialists, career politicians and corrupt police investigators involved in a highly publicized murder case and all mired in the complex machine that defines turn-of-the-century New York.

Mary’s new case focuses on the actual murder of Carrie Brown, a prostitute who was brutally killed in the city’s East River Hotel. Rumors were that Jack the Ripper had come to America and NYPD Inspector Thomas F. Byrnes was under pressure to solve the crime quickly. The evidence was circumstantial, but an Algerian named Ameer Ben Ali, who was a regular the hotel, was convicted and sent to prison for life. Mary gets involved when Ameer Ben Ali’s brother hires her to find out the real story.

Much of the investigation takes place on Coney Island, Brooklyn’s last stop, which at the time was the largest amusement park and resort destination in the United States. It attracted all types, wealthy vacationers, immigrants and working-class visitors. It was a perfect place to disappear or hide a crime and when another woman is murdered, this time Meg Parker, a black prostitute from the Gut section of Coney Island, Mary wonders if there is a connection to Carrie Brown’s murder. Subsequent murders that follow a pattern make Mary’s investigation a race against the clock, including the whereabouts of a mysterious man with blond hair. To connect the dots, Mary turns to her old boss, Superintendent Campbell and her police officer brother Sean, who put their jobs at risk to help their favorite lady detective.

I enjoyed this new story, which includes many of the city’s actual movers of the time, including Sage, Andrew Carnegie, Teddy Roosevelt, social reform photographer Jacob Riis and Captain Alexander “Clubber” Williams, a corrupt police inspector whose interrogation methods became known as the “third degree.” Levy does a great job showing what New York was like during the 1890s, highlighting the very topical prejudices and difficulties for the immigrant population. Racism and anti-Semitism as well as hatred towards different cultures, especially Arabs, were common and Levy does not hold back when he depicts these beliefs in several uncomfortable scenes. The author balances these and other gritty, adult scenes with the light banter between Mary and her new love interest, reporter Harper Lloyd.

Readers will also like learning more about Mary and her family dynamics, including her very likable father who works in a butcher shop and her meddling mother who wants nothing more than to see Mary settled. This story line reflects an optimism among Mary’s family, despite the prejudices, danger and violence that surrounds them.

I recommend Last Stop in Brooklyn to readers who like imagining what historical figures were like and who enjoy the intrigue of an entertaining mystery.

I received a copy of Last Stop in Brooklyn from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.


Like historical mysteries?  Visit these links for more information about the Mary Handley Mysteries:

Second Street Station



Brooklyn on Fire


Photo Credit: Fran Levy

Author Interview – Lawrence H. Levy


Information about Second Street Station, Edison and Tesla


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Book Talk – Alone by Brett Archibald

Image: Pixabay

Welcome to a new and occasional feature on Book Club Mom called Book Talk, home to quick previews of new books that catch my eye.

Today’s book is Alone by Brett Archibald. Published in November 2017, it’s the author’s account of his incredible survival at sea. In 2013, Archibald, age 50, was on a surf charter boat in Indonesia when he became ill and fell overboard unnoticed, without a life jacket and 60 miles from shore. Eight hours later, when his friends discovered he was missing, they began a desperate search, hoping for a miracle. His wife and children in South Africa feared the worst. And for 28 hours, Archibald, battled raging seas, aggressive sharks, biting fish, stinging jellyfish and seagulls poking at his eyes. Through resolve and strength, Archibald defied the odds. He was rescued by an Australian surfing boat and, other than being exhausted, dehydrated and sunburned, he was otherwise okay.

It’s no surprise to me that after this experience, Archibald became a motivational speaker, sharing his story and teaching perseverance!

I’m not sure when I’m going to fit this in, but I checked it out at the library just to have a look! You can too. Click here to view on Amazon and here for Goodreads reviews.

Have you experienced a life-changing event? What is your story?

Thanks for visiting – come back soon!

Friday Fiction – Launch – Chapter 4

Hello and welcome to Friday Fiction! How many of you have an unpublished book tucked away in a folder and are wondering what to do with your story?

I have a few of those books, gathering computer dust. They are imperfect, full of plot holes but were very fun to write. If you’re finding Friday Fiction for the first time, I’ve recently posted small chapters of one of these books. The story is Launch and is about how people are forced to redefine themselves. After all, nothing stays the same, does it?

Today I’m posting part of a longer chapter in which one of my characters, Ted Clarke, is facing a work crisis at Spring Technologies. His programmer is MIA and he has a huge deadline. I hope you will take a look and if you like the story, check out the links at the bottom of the post.


Launch – Chapter 4

Ted was hours away from getting home.  His technical coding crisis had not gone away.  Steve Colby had taken the flash drive and loaded the demo on his laptop.  And not two minutes later, he had Ted back in the office.

“Dammit, Ted!  I wasn’t even going to look at this until tonight, after I’d gotten home and unwound a little.  But now it’s gone and ruined my whole weekend because I know you guys don’t have anywhere close to a solid demo for Haskell on Monday!  What the hell is going on?  We can’t give Haskell this – it’s a piece of garbage!”

Ted had almost escaped this explosion.  He was seconds away from leaving the office, but had stopped to talk to Wayne, who was still busy trying to write code, to make up for Anders being gone.  “I’ll be here at 8:00 tomorrow morning, Wayne.  Make sure the whole team is here.  We have to get this done.”

Wayne had been hunched over his computer, typing an unrecognizable sequence of keys.  His face was a blotchy mess and strings of black hair hung over his face.  An open bag of Nacho Cheese Doritos sat on his desk, with crumbs making a track to his keyboard.  Wayne looked up at Ted, took a swig of Mountain Dew and slammed it down on his desk.  He was past his limit, but didn’t know how to react.  Wayne had his own problems, his own obligations and staying late on Friday and being back at 8:00 am Saturday tipped that balance.  It wasn’t his fault that Anders had walked out and Wayne didn’t think he could fill the gap.

What Wayne didn’t see that night was his own chance to launch his mid-level career into something more.  All he saw was an infuriating trap of work. “Okay, Ted,” he’d answered.  After all, Ted was in this mess too.

Thank you for reading.


Click on the chapter links to start from the beginning:

Launch – Chapter 1
Launch – Chapter 2 Part 1

Launch – Chapter 2 Part 2
Launch – Chapter 3


Copyright © 2017 by Book Club Mom

All rights reserved.  All material on this blog is the property of Book Club Mom. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

 

 

 

 

 

In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan

From the archives – In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan. I don’t read a lot of books like these because I often feel I’m being preached to about how to change my life. But this one is different and offers some solid advice about food and diet.

Book Club Mom

indefenseoffoodIn Defense of Food
by
Michael Pollan

Rating:
3 book marks

Michael Pollan does a good job of simplifying the dizzying task of figuring out what to eat and it’s so basic that you will wonder why we need a lot of nutritionists and scientists to analyze our foodstuffs.

Eat Food. Not Too Much. Mostly Plants. It’s good advice and he’s not too preachy about it. His descriptions of the industrialization of food production, with the addition of high fructose corn syrup and soy and a variety of unrecognizable ingredients into much of our food, make me want to overhaul my buying process.

I doubt I will join a food co-op, or spend more money for the organic stuff, but this book has me thinking more carefully about what to feed my family. A good, educational read.

Thanks for visiting – come back soon!

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The Cay by Theodore Taylor

From the archives: a quick review of The Cay by Theodor Taylor. Here’s a very good middle school historical fiction about an American boy living on the island of Curaçao during World War II. It is part of our school district’s middle school curriculum and shows how a boy’s preconceived ideas about race change.

Book Club Mom

the cay picThe Cay
by
Theodore Taylor

Rating:
4 book marks

This is a touching coming-of-age story about eleven-year-old Phillip Enright, an American boy living on the island of Curaçao during World War II. When Phillip and his mother leave the island to escape the dangers of the war, their boat is hit and sunk by a German U-boat. Phillip is struck in the head and thrown into the water and he wakes to find himself on a raft with Timothy, a large, old, black man from the West Indies. The blow to Phillip’s head causes him to lose his sight as the two of them float aimlessly in the Caribbean.

This unlikely pair struggles to survive first on the water, and later on a tiny uninhabited island. But the biggest struggle is within Phillip, whose preconceived ideas about a black man run counter to what we see in Timothy. Timothy pushes Phillip to learn…

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Who’s That Indie Author? Sarah Kowalski

whos-that-indie-author

Author name:  Sarah Kowalski

Genre:  Memoir

Book:  Motherhood Reimagined: When Becoming A Mother Doesn’t Go As Planned

Bio:  Sarah Kowalski is an author, life coach, fertility doula and former attorney. Through her one on one coaching, support groups, and writing, she is redefining what it means to be a mother so she can inspire others to cultivate the love, courage and tenacity it takes to conceive and raise a child by unconventional means. As a single mother who battled fertility to get pregnant, she is a go to guide for women who are contemplating single motherhood, having fertility issues, raising donor conceived children or navigating life as single mothers. When she’s not writing, coaching women, or chasing her very curious three-year old son, she can be found doing Qigong or other mind/body practices, cooking or dancing.

Favorite thing about being a writer:  I love writing as a vehicle to make sense of my inner landscape and thought process.  Once I’ve reached clarity, I feel inspired to share what I’ve learned in hopes of shedding wisdom on another. I hope that by finding clarity, I can guide others and help them feel less alone in their own experiences. My writing also feels like a calling to change the narrative around infertility and unconventional paths to motherhood.  By bolding sharing my story, I hope others will also be courageous, ending the shame and secrecy around these topics.

Biggest challenge as an indie author:  Finding time to write substantive pieces such as my memoir, while balancing the need to write short blog posts for my business and for marketing.

Favorite booksWild: Sheryl Strayed; State of Wonder: Ann Patchett ; Saving Fish From Drowning: Amy Tan; House of Spirits: Isabel Allende

Contact Information:
Website and blog:  motherhoodreimagined.com
Facebook:  @motherhoodreimagined
Twitter: @ChoiceMamaBaby


Are you an indie author?  Do you want to build your indie author network? Get your name out on Who’s That Indie Author!

Email bvitelli2009@gmail.com for a bio template and other details.

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Son by Lois Lowry wraps up The Giver Series

When my kids read The Giver in middle school, I read it too and once I finished book one in the series, I had to go right to the next two. I was excited when I heard that Lowry wrote Son (book 4) and enjoyed it very much. Here’s a review from my archives of Son, as well as links to the entire series.

Book Club Mom

sonSon
by
Lois Lowry

Rating:
4 book marks

I think this fourth book in The Giver series is very good, at its strongest in the parts titled Before and Between. I enjoyed the return to The Giver’s community, told through the perspective of Claire as a Birthmother. It is fun to meet Jonas, his father and Gabriel through her eyes.

I think Lowry does a great job building up suspense as Claire discovers her connection to Product #36 and starts to break the community’s rules. I like how Lowry uses the next community as a way for Claire to gain knowledge and strength in order to “climb out” and find Gabriel. Lowry makes an interesting comparison of the two communities, the second one being very rustic and using no technology. Everyone plays a role and makes a contribution in this fisherman’s community, but unlike The Giver’s community, it is free, full of love…

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