Saturday, August 1, 2015

Flicker Man by Ted Kosmatka - Excerpt + a Giveaway

Hi, readers! Today's a break from my usual Saturday posts because I've got another excerpt and giveaway to share with you! Excited? I am!

I've been seeing great things about Ted Kosmatka's very recently released Flicker Men. Great things! Both Publishers Weekly and Library Journal gave it starred reviews and fellow blogger My Bookish Ways calls it a "...creepy masterpiece of a novel..." (seriously, Kristin has fantastic taste and her word really does carry a lot of weight for me). Considering the fact that this one was already in my reading plans, the above praise just means that I need to get to it SOON!

Before we jump into the excerpt and the giveaway, here's the book's description from Goodreads to get you started:

Out of a job and struggling with depression and alcohol abuse after a breakdown, the brilliant quantum physicist Eric Angus is given a second chance after he’s hired on a probationary basis by an old friend who runs Hansen, a prestigious Boston-area research lab. Unable to find inspiration for a project, Eric stumbles upon old equipment used for Feynman’s double-slit experiment and decides to re-create the test in order to see the results for himself.

Eric probes deeper into Feynman’s theory, with the help of fellow scientists Satish and Mi Chang. After extensive tests on frogs, dogs, chimps, working their way up every phylum, class, and order in the animal kingdom, Eric and his team establish a link between conscious observation and an evolutionary trait that is distinctly human: the soul. Mass chaos ensues after they publish the results of their experiment and Eric is bombarded by reporters angling for exclusive interviews and wanting to debate the varying implications. Questions arise when certain people appear to be “soulless,” and after Satish mysteriously disappears, Eric risks everything to answer them.

Sounds awesome, right?! Hopefully it's piqued your interest accordingly, 'cause I'm just going to cut straight to the excerpt:

Flicker Men
Ted Kosmatka

(Excerpt from chapter 3)

There are days I don’t drink at all. On those days, I pick up my father’s .357 and look in the mirror. I convince myself what it will cost me, today, if I take the first sip. It will cost me what it cost him.

But there are also days I do drink. Those are the days I wake up sick. I walk into the bathroom and puke into the toilet, needing a drink so bad my hands are shaking. The bile comes up—a heaving, muscular convulsion as I pour myself into the porcelain basin. My stomach empties in long spasms while my skull throbs, and my legs tremble, and the need grows into a ravening monster.

When I can stand, I look in the bathroom mirror and splash water on my face. I say nothing to myself. There is nothing I would believe.

It is vodka on these mornings. Vodka because vodka has no smell.

I pour it into an old coffee thermos.

A sip to calm the shakes. A few sips to get me moving.

It is a balancing act. Not too much, or it could be noticed. Not too little, or the shakes remain. Like a chemical reaction, I seek equilibrium. Enough to get by, to get level, as I walk through the front entrance of the lab.

I take the stairs up to my office. If Satvik knows, he says nothing. Satvik studied circuits. He bred them, in little ones and zeroes, in a Mather’s Field-gated Array. The array’s internal logic was malleable, and he allowed selective pressure to direct chip design. Like evolution in a box. The most efficient circuits were identified by automated program and worked as a template for subsequent iteration. Genetic algorithms manipulated the best codes for the task. “Nothing is ideal,” he said. “There’s lots of modeling.”

I didn’t have the slightest idea how it all worked.

Satvik was a genius who had been a farmer in India until he came to America at the age of twenty. He earned an electrical engineering degree from MIT. He’d chosen electrical engineering because he liked the math. After that, Harvard and patents and job offers. All described to me in his matter-of-fact tone, like of course it had happened that way, anybody could do it. “There is no smart,” he said. “There is only trying hard.”

And he seemed to believe it.

Myself, I wasn’t so sure.

Other researchers would come by to see the field-gated arrays set up around his workstation like some self-organizing digital art. The word elegant came up again and again—highest praise from those for whom mathematics was a first language. He stood crouching over his work, concentrating for hours. And that was part of it. His ability to focus. To just sit there and do the work.

“I am a simple farmer,” he liked to say when someone complimented his research. “I like to challenge the dirt.”

Satvik had endless expressions. When relaxed, he let himself lapse into broken English. Sometimes, after spending the morning with him, I’d fall into the pattern of his speech, talking his broken English back at him, an efficient pidgin that I came to respect for its streamlined efficiency and ability to convey nuance.

“I went to dentist yesterday,” Satvik told me. “She says I have good teeth. I tell her, ‘Forty-two years old, and it is my first time at dentist.’ And she could not believe.”

“You’ve never been to the dentist?” I said.

“No, never.”

“How is that possible?”

“Until I am in twelfth grade in my village back home, I did not know there was a special doctor for teeth. Since then, I never went because I had no need. The dentist says I have good teeth, no cavities, but I have stain on my back molars on the left side where I chew tobacco.”

“You chew.” I tried to picture Satvik hawking a plug like a baseball player, but the image wouldn’t come.

“I am ashamed. None of my brothers chew tobacco. Out of my family, I am the only one. I started years ago on the farm. Now I try to stop.” Satvik spread his hands in exasperation. “But I cannot. I told my wife I stopped two months ago, but I started again, and I have not told her.” His eyes grew sad. “I am a bad person.”

Satvik’s brow furrowed. “You are laughing,” he said. “Why are you laughing?” 



Hansen was a gravity well in the tech industry—a constantly expanding force of nature, always buying out other labs, buying equipment, absorbing the competition

Hansen labs only hired the best, without regard to national origin. It was the kind of place where you’d walk into the coffee room and find a Nigerian speaking German to an Iranian. Speaking German because they both spoke it better than English, the other language they had in common. Hansen was always hungry for talent.

The Boston lab was just one of Hansen’s locations, but we had the largest storage facility, which meant that much of the surplus lab equipment ended up shipped to us. We opened boxes. We sorted through supplies. If we needed anything for our research, we signed for it, and it was ours. It was the antithesis of most corporate bureaucracy, where red tape was the order of the day.

Most mornings I spent with Satvik. We’d stand side by side at his lab bench, talking and keeping busy. I helped him with his gate arrays. He talked of his daughter while he worked. Lunch I spent on basketball.

Sometimes after basketball, as a distraction, I’d drop by Point Machine’s lab in the North building to see what he was up to. He worked with organics, searching for chemical alternatives that wouldn’t cause birth defects in amphibians. He tested water samples for cadmium, mercury, arsenic.

Point Machine was a kind of shaman. He studied the gene expression patterns of amphioxus; he read the future in deformities. The kind of research my mother would have liked—equal parts alarm and conspiracy.

“Unless something is done,” he said, “most amphibians will go extinct.” He had aquariums filled with salamanders and frogs—frogs with too many legs, with tails, with no arms. Monsters. They hopped or swam or dragged themselves along, Chernobyl nightmares in long glass jars.

Next to his lab was the office of a woman named Joy. Like me, she was new to the lab, but it wasn’t clear when she’d started, exactly. The others only seemed to know her first name. Sometimes Joy would hear us talking, and she’d swing by, delicate hand sliding along the wall—tall and beautiful and blind. Did acoustical research of some kind. She had long hair and high cheekbones—eyes so clear and blue and perfect that I didn’t even realize at first.

“It’s okay,” she said to one researcher’s stammering apology. “I get that a lot.” She never wore dark glasses, never used a white cane. “Detached retinas,” she explained. “I was three. It’s nothing to me.”

“How do you find your room?” It was Satvik who asked it. Blunt Satvik.

“Who needs eyes when you have ears and memory? The blind are good at counting steps. Besides, you shouldn’t trust your eyes.” She smiled. “Nothing is what it seems.”

In the afternoons, back in the main building, I tried to work.

Alone in my office, I stared at the marker board. The great empty expanse of it. I picked up the marker, closed my eyes. Nothing is what it seems.

I wrote from memory, the formula spooling out of my left hand with practiced ease. A series of letters and numbers, like the archaic runes of some forgotten sorcery—a shape I could see in my head. The work from QSR. I stopped. When I looked at what I’d written, I threw the marker against the wall. The stack of notes on my desk shifted and fell to the floor.

Jeremy came by later that night.

He stood in the doorway, cup of coffee in his hand. He saw the papers scattered across the floor, the formula scrawled across the marker board.

“Math is merely metaphor,” his voice drifted from the doorway. “Isn’t that what you always used to say?”

“Ah, the self-assuredness of youth. So rich in simple declarations.” “You have nothing to declare?”

“I’ve lost the stomach.”

He patted his own stomach. “What you’ve lost, I’ve gained, eh?” 

That raised a smile from me. He wasn’t a pound overweight; he simply no longer looked like he was starving. “Isn’t that just like us,” I said, “giving ourselves primacy. Maybe we’re the metaphor.” 

He held out his coffee cup in mock salute. “You always were the smart one.”

“The crazy one, you mean.”

He shook his head. “No, Stuart was the crazy one. But you were the one to watch. We all knew it. Before you came along, I’d never seen a student get into an argument with a professor.”

“That was forever ago.”

“But you won the argument.”

“Funny, but I don’t remember it like that.”

“Oh, you won, all right, if you think about it.” He sipped his coffee. “It just took you a few years.”

Jeremy walked farther into the room, careful not to step on the papers. “Do you still talk to Stuart?”

“Not for a long time.”

“Too bad,” he said. “You partnered on some interesting work.”

Which was one way to put it. It was also Jeremy’s way of bringing up his reason for dropping in. Work. “I got a visit from one of the review board members today,” he said. “He asked about your progress.”

“Already?”

“It’s been a few weeks. The board is just staying on top of things, curious how you’re adjusting.”

“What did you say?”

“I said I’d look in on you, so here I am. Looking in.” He gestured toward the formula on the marker board. “It’s good to see you working on something.”

“It’s not work,” I said.

“These things take time.”

Honesty welled up. There was no point in lying. To myself or him. A

rising bubble in my chest, and just like that, it burst: “Time is what I’m wasting here,” I said. “Your time. This lab’s time.”

“It’s fine, Eric,” he said. “It’ll come.”

“I don’t think it will.”

“We have researchers on staff who don’t have a third of your citings. You belong here. The first few weeks can be the toughest.”

“It’s not like before. I’m not like before.”

“You’re being too hard on yourself.”

“No, I’ve accomplished nothing.” I gestured at the board. “One unfinished formula in three weeks.”

His expression shifted. “Just this?” He studied the dozen symbols laid out in a line. “Are you making progress?”

“I don’t know how to finish it,” I said. “I can’t find the solution. It’s a dead end.”

“There’s nothing else? No other research that you’re pursuing?”

I shook my head. “Nothing.”

He turned toward me. That sad look back again.

“I shouldn’t be here,” I told him. “I’m wasting your money.”

“Eric—”

“No.” I shook my head again.

He was quiet for a long while, staring at the formula like so many tea leaves. When he spoke, his voice was soft. “R&D is a tax write-off. You should at least stay and finish out your contract.”

I looked down at the mess I’d made—the papers scattered across the floor.

He continued, “That gives you another three months of salary before you face review. We can carry you that long. After that, we can write you up a letter of recommendation. There are other labs. Maybe you’ll land somewhere else.”

“Yeah, maybe,” I said, though we both knew it wasn’t true. It was the nature of last chances. Nothing came after.

He turned to go. “I’m sorry, Eric.”

It's taking everything I have not to drop everything and dive right into this as I put this post together. Alas it'll have to wait just a little bit. 

Big, big thanks to Wunderkind PR for setting up the excerpt and giveaway. 

If you like what you've read, throw your name in the hat for the giveaway copy by filling out the Rafflecopter below before Monday, August 17. Open US only and no PO boxes please.

 

Friday, July 31, 2015

Unwilling Accomplice by Charles Todd

Happy Friday, readers! Today I'm a stop on the TLC book tour for Charles Todd's Unwilling Accomplice.

While on a brief leave in London, Bess is asked to accompany a wounded soldier receiving an award at Buckingham Palace. After the ceremony, Bess and the soldier return to their hotel where they are to be met the following morning by an orderly who will accompany the soldier back to the hospital where he's being treated. 

Everything goes according to plan. The soldier has no family to celebrate his award but tells Bess some of his friends might be visiting that evening. When she checks on him before turning in, he's already asleep. Unfortunately, though, when the orderly arrives the following morning, the soldier is nowhere to be found. Bess first searches nearby hospitals fearing the soldier and his friends may have gone out drinking, but finds no evidence of the missing man and is forced to alert the War Office. Now the recently awarded soldier is considered a deserter and Bess his possible accomplice. If  she's to clear her name with both the War Office and the Sisters she'll have to find out first exactly why and when the soldier began planning his escape. Before she can even start, though, it's discovered that the soldier is the prime suspect in a murder!

Ugh, it's so unfair! The Crimson Field was cancelled after just one season over in the UK and said season has just finished airing over on PBS. The show was developed as part of the "BBC World War I centenary season," which apparently will give us programming (and by us I mean the US via whatever will come through BBC America and PBS) through 2018 to commemorate the 100 year anniversary of WWI.

Why do I mention all of this? Well, not only do I quite enjoy the Bess Crawford books, but I went into this latest already craving more WWI stuff. That said, why hasn't the Bess series been considered for this program plan?

It's 1918 by the time this latest takes place and so the war is actually beginning to wind down. Soldiers, like the one she's accompanying here, are receiving awards recognizing their efforts and many are being placed on indefinite leave. (WWI's official end date is November 11, 1918.) It's curious, then, why a wounded soldier who's just been recognized by the king himself would risk so much to escape and murder another man. A man no one is quite sure how the soldier in question ever had a connection to in the first place. Bess has her work cut out for her considering her own good name and career are hanging in the balance as well!

Bess is a definite favorite of mine in terms of both general historical fiction and specifically historical based mysteries. I do love that each installment in this series can basically stand alone. Anyone who hasn't read the previous books would have no trouble at all with Unwilling Accomplice as a starting point. I might sound like a broken record pointing that out so often in series posts but I think it's important to note because so many readers, myself included, might be afraid to start midstream. I'd hate for any potential Bess fans out there to miss out simply because they aren't certain where to start!

Rating: 4/5

To see more stops on the tour be sure to check out the official TLC tour page here.

For more on Charles Todd and the Bess Crawford series, you can visit the authors' website here. You can also like them on Facebook. I'll also be taking part in the upcoming tour for the latest Bess Crawford release, A Pattern of Lies, so be sure to check that out here on September 4.


Short Fiction Friday: Two Mysteries from HarperCollins

Today's a double post day, but it fits because one of the SFF titles I'm posting today ties directly into today's tour post!

Tales by Charles Todd features four stories starring the writing duo's famous leads. In "The Kidnapping," a post WWI Ian Rutledge is on duty at the Yard in the wee hours when a man arrives claiming he's been attacked and his daughter has been kidnapped. "The Girl on the Beach," has Bess discovering the body of a girl on the beach one morning. The only clue to her identity is a newspaper clipping with the obituary of a soldier. "Cold Comfort" brings us to the front lines with Rutledge where he must find out if a soldier's claim of being targeted by allies is true or not. And finally, in "The Maharani's Pearls" we meet a young Bess in India where she plays a pivotal role in protecting both her family and the Maharani herself.

It's a small collection, each short just a sip of a tale really, but it does offer up some nice little extras including pieces of the characters' lives we've seen little of to date: Bess as a chile in India and Rutledge at the front.

Also included in the mini anthology is an excerpt from the upcoming Bess release, A Pattern of Lies.

Tales is out now (eBook) from Witness Impulse.

Rating: 3.5/5

My second short today is just a little extra prequel for the recently reviewed here Andrew Mayne title, Name of the Devil. In the book there's a wisp of an mention of a case Jessica investigated in the bayous of Louisiana - this is that story.

"Fire in the Sky" has Jessica and Nadine teamed up once again, this time to investigate an old man's claims of a fifty-year-old UFO crash. In truth, the case is little more than an attempt to placate a dying man. This time Jessica is the sceptic but Nadine isn't so sure - this far along, the man's been telling the same story in hopes that someone will listen and she thinks it's worth checking out.

To be honest, "Fire in the Sky" adds very little to the overall series. In fact, I found it a little odd that this time Jessica was really only out to prove Nadine wrong in agreeing to look into the case. The short does come with an excerpt from Name of the Devil, though, and is free. Who can complain about that, right? Especially when it gives you a sample of the fabulousness of Name.

"Fire in the Sky" is out now from Bourbon Street Books on all eBook platforms.

Rating: 3/5

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Crooked Heart by Lissa Evans

Good morning, everyone! Today I'm a stop on the TLC book tour for Lissa Evans's Crooked Heart.

Noel and his godmother lived together comfortably. She didn't agree with the war and when the first call for evacuating children from London was made she refused. But Mattie was growing increasingly more forgetful, her health declining with every passing day. When Mattie died, leaving Noel all alone, another round of evacuations proved to be the the chance Mattie's only relatives were waiting for. And so, Noel was sent away, left to be taken in by the likes of Vera Sedge. 

Vee lives in a perpetual state of poverty. Her son, spared from the war by a heart murmur, is listless and often late to his own job. Vee herself works harder than she should and still can't scrape by. But Vee has a plan, one that Noel finds he can be of great help with. Soon the two are conspiring together to take advantage of the war. But they aren't the only ones. 

Crooked Heart reminded me a little of the old Ryan and Tatum O'Neal pic, Paper Moon. Apparently I'm not the only one who thought so - Nick Hornby noted the same thing. It's probably hard not to compare the two considering they're both about a "parent"/kid con artist team. (The comparison is made in the book's publicity material but once I saw this was set in WWII I admit I didn't really read anything more about the book. Yes, I'm that easy.)

It's a little sad how Noel and Vee take advantage of people. And Vee's son isn't much better. Not that any one of them has much of a choice. Given their circumstances, they're all taking advantage of their talents and situations to try and get by. Vee and Noel do manage to capture the reader's heart to some extent, though. It's hard to imagine exactly what you'd do in their situation and the way they work together and help one another is quite appealing. I quite loved Mattie and Mrs. Gifford. Neither is a main character in the least - Mattie is only present in the prologue, in fact - but both of them have such a great effect on Noel as a whole that they felt like much larger characters.

Crooked Heart is kind of a darkly comic and skewed heartwarming read - not your typical feel good book by any means. I'd definitely recommend it to any reader interested in WWII fiction and/or something just a little bit different. (Guys, seriously, everyone loves this book... Jojo Moyes?! Nick Hornby?!... I'm in good company recommending this one.)

To see more stops on the tour be sure to check out the official TLC tour page here.

For more on Lissa Evans and her work, you can visit her website here. You can also follow her on Twitter.


Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Kitchens of the Great Midwest by J. Ryan Stradal

Lars is a chef. Cynthia is a waitress and wine connoisseur. They meet, they fall in love, they get pregnant, and they get married. But Cynthia doesn't want to be a mom. In fact, she thinks she'll be the worst kind of mom. And in Cynthia's opinion, having no mom is better than having a bad mom. So she leaves her little family behind, abandoning Lars and their newborn daughter, Eva. 

Lars is determined that Eva will have all the love he can give her. He'll introduce her to great food, he'll teach her everything he knows, and he won't let anyone tell her the real reason her mother left. Nope. He'll let the blame for that rest solely on his own shoulders. But Lars's plan hits a big road bump early on and Eva's life turns out quite differently than he could have imagined. 

Kitchens of the Great Midwest was NOTHING like I expected it to be. First, the premise is really just the first few chapters of the book. Second, the book reads like a series of connected vignettes with the connections being Eva and food. While I think I might have enjoyed more of a straightforward narrative from Eva's perspective, Stradal's choice here is one that also works very well and is quite enjoyable. In fact, one of the things I quite liked most about the book was the way the author very carefully establishes each character's voice. With so many different narrators that can be understandably difficult to pull off but J. Ryan Stradal does it quite easily.

We meet Lars in his early lutefisk days, follow him through his falling in love with Cynthia, Eva's birth, and his heartbreaking abandonment. Then we meet Eva as a sixth grader. Her cousin Braque, a high school boyfriend, said boyfriend's stepmother, a later boyfriend's brother... these and more are the characters we meet throughout Kitchens of the Great Midwest.

J. Ryan Stradal's debut is one of love, remorse, death, the Midwest, and food. Food, food, food, and lots more food. And while you certainly don't have to be a foodie to enjoy this book, it should be clear that from the lutefisk to Eva's grand finale dinner, Kitchens of the Great Midwest is a true foodie read with heart. (And yes, there are even a few recipes.)

Readers, this is a book that shows immense talent (I feel like I've been reading a lot of those kinds of debuts lately - always a GREAT thing for a book junkie) so I am quite happy to note that the author has sold a second novel. I have no idea what it'll be about (he notes it's set in the Midwest) but given how much I enjoyed Kitchens, it will most definitely be in my reading plans.

Rating: 4/5

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

When the Moon Is Low by Nadia Hashimi - Excerpt + a Giveaway

Last week marked the release of When the Moon Is Low, the second novel by Nadia Hashimi. So far it's garnered some impressive reviews and praise, earning a starred review in Library Journal and a spot on O Magazine's "The Season's Best: Tales of Ladies on the Move" list. I'll be planning a review post soon, but thanks to the publisher I've got a little excerpt of the book for you today and a copy to give away as well.

First, though, here's a little about the book from Goodreads:

Mahmoud's passion for his wife Fereiba, a schoolteacher, is greater than any love she's ever known. But their happy, middle-class world—a life of education, work, and comfort—implodes when their country is engulfed in war, and the Taliban rises to power.

Mahmoud, a civil engineer, becomes a target of the new fundamentalist regime and is murdered. Forced to flee Kabul with her three children, Fereiba has one hope to survive: she must find a way to cross Europe and reach her sister's family in England. With forged papers and help from kind strangers they meet along the way, Fereiba make a dangerous crossing into Iran under cover of darkness. Exhausted and brokenhearted but undefeated, Fereiba manages to smuggle them as far as Greece. But in a busy market square, their fate takes a frightening turn when her teenage son, Saleem, becomes separated from the rest of the family.

Faced with an impossible choice, Fereiba pushes on with her daughter and baby, while Saleem falls into the shadowy underground network of undocumented Afghans who haunt the streets of Europe's capitals. Across the continent Fereiba and Saleem struggle to reunite, and ultimately find a place where they can begin to reconstruct their lives.


I've absolutely no doubt that When the Moon Is Low will be a powerful and emotional read. 

When the Moon Is Low
A NOVEL
Nadia Hashimi

(Excerpt from Chapter 16)

I had to get my family out of Kabul.

With Mahmood gone, there was nothing left for us. We would almost certainly starve once the money ran out. The imminent arrival of our third child complicated matters.

Samira had not spoken since the afternoon of Raisa and Abdul Rahim’s visit. She gave her answers in nods and gestures. I spoke softly with her, trying to coax the words from her lips but Samira remained silent.

I found Saleem in our bedroom, staring at his father’s belongings. Unaware of my presence, he touched the pants, brought a shirt to his cheek and laid the pieces out on the floor as if trying to imagine his father in it. He picked up Mahmood’s watch from the nightstand and turned it over in his hand. He slipped it on his wrist and pulled his sleeve over it. It was a private moment between father and son so I snuck back down the hall before he realized I’d been watching.

My son thought I was too wrapped up in my own grief to know what he suffered but I observed it all. I saw him kick the tree behind our house until he fell into a tearful heap, his toes so bruised and swollen that he winced with each step for a week. I held him when he allowed me but if I started to speak, he would slip away. It was too soon.

If I thought of my last exchange with Mahmood, so did Saleem. I could see the remorse on his face as clearly as I felt it in my heart. We would have done things differently, Saleem and I. We would have had much more to say.

From what Abdul Rahim was able to gather, the local Taliban had decided to make an example of Mahmood Haidari. The rest of the family would not be targeted, he believed, but no one could say with any certainty. Even in the light of day, there was little certainty in Kabul. The cloak of night made all things possible.

I couldn’t bear to have my children out of my sight. I sent Saleem on errands to the marketplace only when I was truly desperate. Just one month after the news of Mahmood’s assassination, my belly began to ache. At first, I thought it might be the balmy winter air bringing a cramp but as I walked from room to room, the familiar pains became clearer. 

I paced the room, my lips pursed and my steps slow.

“Nine months, nine days…nine months, nine days…” I repeated softly.

Just a few hours later, Raisa coaxed my third child into the world. I named him Aziz.

“Saleem and Samira,” I managed to get out. “Meet your father’s son.” 

Big thanks to the folks at William Morrow for providing the excerpt today! And now for the giveaway. To enter just fill out the Rafflecopter below before Monday, August 10. Open US only and no PO boxes please.   

Monday, July 27, 2015

Three Rivers by Tiffany Quay Tyson + a Giveaway

Melody's father is dying, so of course she drops everything to return home to care for him. But when she arrives she finds that her mother has left with no explanation. Geneva has been hiding a secret from her family and has finally come to the conclusion that something must be done. What that something is, she isn't quite sure just yet but she knows she can't stay. All Obi wants is to care and provide for his son, but a tragic accident has left him on the run and in search of shelter. It's a search that will lead him straight to Melody, Geneva, and Three Rivers Farm. Though these three people are all on very different paths, they are nonetheless entwined by fate. And with an historic storm headed straight towards them, they could each find themselves swept under by the force of the coming flood. 

I'm afraid that my synopsis doesn't do Tiffany Quay Tyson's book justice. It doesn't contain any of the charm or emotion of the story, for example. Nor does it capture the heart or essence of the characters in any way. It doesn't even express how emotional a read Three Rivers is or how much I thoroughly enjoyed it.

What I do hope that it does, though, is get your attention. I hope that it makes you curious about Three Rivers. And of course I hope that it makes you seek out Tiffany's book and discover just how fabulous it is for yourself.

Tiffany is local to me and so I was able to attend her launch at the Tattered Cover last week. I learned that this story had it's beginning in a terrible story about a baptism that ended in electrocution and death. It was apparently a story that stuck with the author for quite some time and inspired a character and scene in the final book. And while it is a pivotal scene for Melody and her family, it is just a small part of the overall tale.

At times Three Rivers reads as three separate stories. Melody, her mother Geneva, and Obi all begin in different places both in terms of setting and in terms of what's happening in their lives. Melody has been traveling with a band and has been miserable for most of the tour (she snaps in the beginning of the book and it made me love her so!). She and Geneva haven't spoken much and she hasn't visited home for quite some time, so she isn't aware that her mother has left until she arrives home.

Geneva is probably not going to win a lot of points with readers. She's... selfish and quite self centered. That's apparent almost from the moment the reader meets her, or rather learns that she's abandoned her dying husband and her mentally impaired son. And yet her story is undeniably intriguing.

Melody and Geneva couldn't be further from Obi. He's a loving father who finds it hard to fit into conventional settings and society. He and his son have been abandoned themselves and have been living off the land, traveling along the river. We soon learn, though, that Obi is seemingly a man cursed by his circumstances and bad luck.

Through alternating chapters, Tiffany draws all three characters and their stories closer and closer, eventually weaving them together much the way the three rivers of the title intersect in the fictional Mississippi town Tiffany has created for her story.

Three Rivers is the kind of book that's gut wrenching at times and laugh out loud funny at others. It's thoughtful and heartwarming, and a true testament to Tiffany Quay Tyson's talent. Readers, she is an author you will delight in discovering and one that I know we'll be looking forward to reading more of for some time to come!

And now, because I was able to attend the book launch, I thought it would be fun to give away a finished, autographed copy to one of you lucky readers! To enter, simply fill out the Rafflecopter below before Monday, August 10. Open US only.

a Rafflecopter giveaway