Monday, February 24, 2014
Publication date: February 11, 2014 by Thomas Dunne Books
Source: Publisher via Meryl L. Moss Media Relations for an honest review
Description from Goodreads:
Warren Hament is a bright young man who wanders into a career in finance in the early 1980s. Nothing Personal is the extraordinary story of his rapid ascent toward success, painted against a landscape of temptation and personal discovery. Introduced to the seductive, elite bastions of wealth and privilege, and joined by his gorgeous and ambitious girlfriend, he gets a career boost when his mentor is found dead.
Warren soon finds himself at the center of two murder investigations as a crime spree seemingly focused on powerful finance wizards plagues Wall Street. The blood-soaked trail leads to vast wealth and limitless risk as Warren uncovers unexpected opportunity and unknown dangers at every turn and must face moral dilemmas for which he is wholly unprepared.
Nothing Personal is a stellar debut novel, which follows an increasingly jaded protagonist as he comes of age in a rarified, deeply corrupt world. Offit, a former senior insider, unflinchingly divulges Wall Street’s culture of abuse and portrays the insidious, creeping forces of greed, sex, and power---and the terrible price paid in their thrall.
When I was presented with the opportunity to read and review Nothing Personal by Mike Offit, I was happy to do so. The premise sounded intriguing and who doesn't like a good Wall Street story? I know I do. I had such a good time reading Nothing Personal.
The reader gets to follow Warren as he seemingly effortlessly makes his way through business school and starts working at a top Wall Street firm. He is smart, learns quickly and is good with people. Things just seem to fall into place for him. We meet all types of business people, from Old Money to the very new money, the crooked, the dangerous, the oblivious, you name it. And Warren makes his merry way towards the top with uncanny ease. Of course, things are seldom exactly what the seem.
Warren finds himself uncomfortably close to a couple of murder victims and finds himself not only a possible suspect in the murders, but could he also be a target? The murder mystery adds a nice thriller aspect to the story and keeps the reader guessing. There are so many possible motives for the murders and so much to gain, so the possible suspects are many. I did guess some of the players in the events, but I had so much fun reading as it all unfolded that I didn't mind.
I really appreciated the title of the book - it was a refrain expressed often in the book - It's nothing personal, it's just business. This pretty much sums up the excuse for so much greed and what is essentially unethical behavior.
I enjoyed the book from start to finish. I loved reading about all the scandals, both big and small. There is so much to work with here. I enjoyed how Warren maneuvers his way through this landscape of excess and greed and tries to remain true to himself and his own moral compass. He is presented with insane opportunities for wealth and advancement, but tries to maintain a sense of right and wrong. It was nice to see someone in this environment who still had a sense of morality. Of course, Nothing Personal is a work of fiction, so people like Warren might not exist in the Wall Street world. I don't know, but I hope they do.
About the author:
Mike Offit began a Wall Street real estate trading career after graduating from Brown University and obtained significant success on the Street. After his departure, he turned back to his original passion: writing. He lives in New York City.
Monday, February 17, 2014
Publication date: May 1, 2013 by Aqueous Books
Source: Publisher via TLC Book Tours for an honest review
Old friends uncomfortably reunited and lovers who cling to their distance from one another; disappearing fathers, fiercely loving grandfathers, and strangers who pass through and radically change lives…These are among the characters who populate the rugged Midwestern landscapes of the mesmerizing fiction world of Ron Parsons. In his debut collection, The Sense of Touch, Parsons captures people of various ages in the act of searching for meaning and connection and themselves. Firmly set in South Dakota, Minnesota, and Michigan, the lush but often brutally cold heartland of America, the eight stories explore universal themes–loneliness, betrayal, transformation, hope–in fresh, sometimes fanciful, sometimes comical, sometimes jarring, and always moving and memorable ways.
In The Sense of Touch, readers will meet:
* Naseem Sayem, the brilliant, troubled, and mystifying young man at the center of “Hezekiah Number Three.” A native of Bangladesh abruptly transplanted to the stark white suburbs of Rapid City at age nine, Naseem never fit in and eventually moved on to study physics at MIT–where, shortly before graduation and after shocking news of his father’s infidelity and abandonment, he apparently unraveled and vanished. Three months later, he reappeared out of the blue on his stepmom’s doorstep, holding a three-legged cat. Naseem’s long search for belonging reaches its apex in a hot air balloon floating over the Crazy Horse Monument.
* Waylon Baker, wheat farmer from birth, and Evie Lund, his wife of twenty-four years and counting, even though she had chosen to live far away–in the alien world of the Twin Cities–for eight years. The odd couple at the heart of “Beginning with Minneapolis,” Waylon and Evie can’t bear to live together or to divorce because they still love each other with a passion, reignited when they find themselves deep in the dirt, in a hole Waylon dug in his wheat field to serve as Evie’s grave.
* The nameless narrator of “The Sense of Touch,” a serious, young freshman at the University of Minnesota, fleeing yet still attached to his youth in Texas, haunted both by its predatory demons and its romantic dreams. His liberation comes through an alluring muse: his fiction-writing teacher. A ravishing, wild-haired, Memphis-born African-American graduate student, Vonda speaks directly to him when she makes her dramatic pronouncements. Like, “Our masks are not worn, people. They’re grown, day by day.” And “Never trust anything, not until you can touch it. With touch, you know you know.”
The old friends in “The Black Hills,” long separated by distance and tragedy, who unexpectedly compete for the affections of a lovely, vulnerable, and married Lakota woman…the young woman who, in the midst of a Halloween blizzard, stumbles into saving an elderly piano teacher’s life and faces hard facts about her own snow-bound relationships and emotions in “As Her Heart Is Navigated”…the exceptional grandfather in “Big Blue” and the playboy reformed by someone else’s grandson in “Moonlight Bowling”…and the professor of dead languages facing the mysteries of mortality in “Be Not Afraid of the Universe”… Through Ron Parsons, they all come to life, vividly and with emotional resonance, and work their way into the minds and hearts of readers.
I don't read short stories very often - I tend to read novels. That said, I do enjoy good short stories when the mood strikes. I was fortunate enough to receive The Sense of Touch for review, and found it to be very intriguing. Naturally, I enjoyed some stories more than others, but I found the collection as a whole to be quite an interesting read. I enjoyed the locations where the stories take place: Michigan, Minnesota, South Dakota. I live in Wisconsin and I could really relate to the descriptions of the landscapes and weather and the people in general.
I absolutely loved the detailed descriptions in the stories. I was constantly intrigued about the choices of detail. I found it most enjoyable to read a story and then just let it simmer. I found many of the characters would pop into my mind throughout the day. It was interesting because many of the stories had details of what seemed to be random events in a random life, but these events would continue in my thoughts long after finishing the story.
I find it difficult to discuss a book of short stories whose only link to each other, that I can find, is the concept of relationship. All the stories deal with different types of relationships and different aspects of relationship. The only way I can describe these stories is - you know how life goes along and you get into a routine, and then some small event, a person, something, nudges you just enough that you have to pause and for an instant or for a moment or for a day, you have a slightly different perception of your life and the people and things around you? That is how these stories affected me.
I found the first story, "Hezekiah Number Three", and the last story "Be Not Afraid of the Universe" to be two of my favorites and particularly fitting in their placement. I think the first one sets the tone for the collection and the last story brings it to a fitting if somewhat sad end. "As Her Heart is Navigated" is also one I particularly enjoyed, though it is hard to say why exactly. I found the descriptions in this one to be very thought provoking in their detailing of the seemingly mundane aspects of the day. Simple, stark, almost. I just really like it.
The Sense of Touch is one of those books that I would just tell my friends to read it so we can discuss it. I hesitate to describe too much of the stories for fear of influencing the opinion of the reader. They need to be read and savored and contemplated.
About Ron ParsonsRon Parsons is a writer living in Sioux Falls. Born in Michigan and raised in South Dakota, he was inspired to begin writing fiction in Minneapolis while attending the University of Minnesota. His short stories have appeared in literary magazines and venues such as The Gettysburg Review, Indiana Review, The Briar Cliff Review, Flyway, Storyville, and The Onion.
The Sense of Touch, his debut collection of stories, was released by Aqueous Books in 2013.
Find out more about Ron at his website and connect with him on Facebook.
Ron’s Tour StopsMonday, February 3rd: Lavish Bookshelf
Tuesday, February 4th: Books on the Table
Thursday, February 6th: Booksie’s Blog
Friday, February 7th: Every Free Chance Book Reviews
Monday, February 10th: Chronicles of a Country Girl
Tuesday, February 11th: West Metro Mommy
Monday, February 17th: A Book Geek
Monday, February 24th: Patricia’s Wisdom
Tuesday, February 25th: Great Imaginations
Wednesday, February 26th: Ms. Nose in a Book
Thursday, February 27th: Books and Things
Monday, March 3rd: The Mookse and the Gripes
Tuesday, March 4th: Priscilla and Her Books
Wednesday, March 5th: The Road to Here
Thursday, March 6th: Melody & Words
Wednesday, February 12, 2014
Gibbin House by Carola Perla
Source: Author via Closed the Cover for an honest review
Format: eBook and Paperback
Publication Date: September 21, 2011
Excerpt from Gibbon House by Carola Perla:
At long last, London. By this point in the late afternoon, coffee, cigarettes, and apprehension had burned an acid pit into my stomach. The stale air of the station, a massive but dimly-lit depot with iron ribs bracing its vast ceiling, streamed through the open window and gave me an additional chill. What a madhouse, I thought, peering out through the spotty glass at the throng of bobbing hats. My compartment in contrast was so soothingly empty - everyone in it had joined the other passengers in jamming the aisles ages ago. People on arriving trains couldn’t help themselves. For me, the novelty had worn off around Innsbruck on day two.
Remember, this is the last time.
I smoothed over the stray wisps of my chignon and rose reluctantly. But before going through the trouble of pulling my burgundy suitcase out from the overhead bin, I stared outside again to assure myself of the station’s name on the large information boards.
In reality, I knew where I was. The porter’s announcement that we were approaching Victoria Station had rung periodically in the aisle for the last twenty minutes. I’d thought of little else as we’d sluggishly advanced past this city’s sooty row houses, burned-out factories, and minutely partitioned backyards. But a week of traveling on trains has the curious effect of keeping one from taking reality at face value. Everything one hears collapses into echoes, and words become deceitfully amorphous shapes. One feels perpetually on the fringe of discovering that one is not oneself, and my disorientation was such that I felt at any moment sure to fall straight through the ground.
Oh, get yourself together, I implored. I grabbed my suitcase and crocheted handbag, and stumbled out onto the mob.
Now, I don’t know what I expected when I finally alighted the platform at my destination. Fanfare? A driver in uniform holding up a banner with my name on it? Did I really believe I would be the conquering heroine, an Ingrid Bergman being fetched in a fancy car? Needless to say, no fanfare greeted me, only the tumult of indifference. I hauled my things to the front of the train platform and planted myself as much as I could in plain sight. And then I waited.
Seek out a handsome light-haired gentleman in his seventies.
That was about the extent of my mother’s instructions before I left Vienna; the ‘handsome’ part was pure conjecture, of course. She hadn’t seen Professor Deisler in twenty years. She’d only figured he must be still good-looking, because he’d been a dedicated dandy in their youth: blond, impeccably manicured, with the most correct posture she claims to have ever seen on anyone. In other words, a real life “aesthete”, straight out of Schnitzler.
But that was twenty years ago. Would he look the same now, this professor? The Belle Epoch of my mother’s Vienna was a bygone era, and the feminine sort of vanity Austrian men had taken pride in, well, for obvious reasons it had gone quite out of fashion. On the other hand, I wasn’t sure how well to rely on his recognizing me. All he had, as far as I understood, was a confirmation card with a photograph of a pale and gauzy, insignificant girl, a starved wood nymph in looped braids. Physically I near looked the same, apart from my hair now upswept and a shade darker. But the girl in the photograph looked happy. He could not possibly connect the present person to that image. Thus I accepted that I had to do the recognizing.
But what an onerous task - soliciting the attentions of a stranger. The idea of having to examine every elderly man walking by and looking expectant and “available” made my skin crawl. I felt small and pathetic, and I resented my mother for forcing the whole thing on me.
What made it worse was that so many men responded to my stupid, doe-eyed look.
Was I Ms. Weatherton?
The Misses from the agency?
Carola Perla was born in 1977 in Timisoara, Romania, to parents of Peruvian and
German-Romanian heritage. She spent her early childhood in Lima and Munich,
before moving with her family to the United States.
She holds degrees in German Literature and Art History from Florida State
University. Since 2001 she has been a resident of Miami Beach, where she
co-founded an international public relations firm and worked as a freelance
journalist. Her recent projects include the launch of the Atelier 1022 Art Gallery in
Wynwood. Gibbin House is her first novel.
The giveaway for Gibbin House by Carola Perla is incredible! There will be a total of
three winners; one grand prize winner and two additional winners.
The Grand Prize Winner will receive:
1. A signed copy of Gibbin House
2. 'Vienna Romance' stationary by ATELIER 1022 Company
3. Limited edition reproduction Stereocard of Trafalgar Square, London - this
Edwardian Era 3-D photograph, dated 1901, served as the novel's cover art
4. Viewing lorgnette
5. Collector's edition prologue 'letter'
Two additional winners will receive:
A signed copy of Gibbin House
a Rafflecopter giveaway