Archive for July, 2011

Sixteen-year old Anna Sullivan is an outsider at her high school. Quiet and shy, as well as cursed with a tortuous family past, she can’t hope to attract the attention of popular Tyler Marsh, for whom she has a crush. How could a girl like her, a girl with a low social status, an alcoholic father and a mother who abandoned her, dare hope anything at all in life?

Then the nightmares begin… nightmares of a horrible massacre at school…

What do these dreams mean? Is Anna somehow having a glimpse of the future?

Things get more confusing when she realizes Tyler is having the same dreams. In fact, he seems to be sharing the same dreams with her, at the same time. Thus begins Anna and Tyler’s dark relationship as together they try to decipher the meaning of the nightmares and in doing so discover their connection to quantum physics and multiple parallel dimensions.

I’m a huge fan of Sokoloff and have read all of her books. I was thrilled to read this her first young adult novel, which, in my opinion, is her darkest work to date. Sokoloff has a gift of pulling readers immediately into her stories. Her writing style, though simple and succinct, is exquisite. She knows how to combine long sentences with sudden short ones, thus creating a sensuous cadence and rhythm. The novel is also filled with vivid images, mystery and a strong atmosphere of danger. I also like the way she interlaces psychological elements into the plot, thus adding depth to the story.

One of the aspects of this novel I enjoyed the most was how Sokoloff incorporated quantum physics and the idea of multiple dimensions and parallel universes into her storyline. This definitely adds something different and original from other teen horror novels in the market today. It also stimulates readers’ minds. The story crosses genres; it’s a thriller with a bit of horror and a dash of the supernatural.

I highly recommend The Space Between to fans of dark YA thrillers as well as to those readers who like a sprinkle of science in their books.

Buy now on:

Barnes & Noble/Nook

Amazon UK
Amazon DE

Any format, only $2.99.

Read the first five chapters on Smashwords now by downloading a free sample.

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Set in Atlanta and the Ohio farm region before, during and after World War II, First Love, Last Dance is the touching, heart-warming true story of Elise and Peter, a couple who first fell deeply in love in their late teens/early twenties but weren’t able to reunite until their late seventies. It’s refreshing to read about such real life stories.

Told from the point of view of Elise’s daughter Nancy Rossman, this memoir begins in Atlanta in the late 30s and spans several decades all the way to the present.

Elise is a beautiful Southern girl from an upper-class upbringing. At the young age of 19, she meets Peter, the man who sweeps her off her feet. They fall in love. Unfortunately, Elise’s controlling, domineering and old fashioned mother has other plans for her daughter. Believing that Peter isn’t the right match for Elise, she does her best to influence her daughter’s decision until, tragically, she succeeds. Instead of marrying Peter, Elise marries a Navy pilot who, though handsome and smart, isn’t the right person for her. As a young bride, Elise’s life changes radically: her new husband takes her to rural Ohio to work on a farm. Elise is soon torn with bittersweet feelings of frustration and, at times, unhappiness. Then something happens… Each year on her birthday, Elise receives a mystery call from the South… Could it be her long lost love?

Though I’m not a big fan of memoirs, I must say I enjoyed reading this one. Written with special attention to detail, First Love, Last Dance is a celebration of love that will warm readers’ hearts. It is also a celebration of hope and second chances. True-love story lovers will relish the hope and optimism in it, while fans of Southern writing will take pleasure in the historical aspect of the setting and characters. The family dynamics in the story are interesting, too, portraying values and traditions particular to the South and the Ohio rural regions. Above all, this is the story of one strong woman, Elise, a woman who never gave up on a memory and a promise.

The author wrote the memoir as a gift and tribute to her mother Elise. What a wonderful gift to offer a mother! If you’re a fan of true love stories, you must pick this one up. This book will also make a lovely gift on Valentine’s Day.

About the author: Nancy Rossman has been a storyteller her entire life. Following a twenty-nine year career as a commercial real estate broker, Nancy turned to her first love of writing. Over the past eleven years she has studied with such notables as Alan Furst, Dorothy Allison, Abigail Thomas and Ann Hood. First Love, Last Dance is her first book. It is a memoir about hope and second chances.

Related links:

Preview this book on CNN and NBC

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Gerald Elias is author of the award-winning Daniel Jacobus mystery series, published by St. Martin’s Press. Elias brings over thirty-five years as an internationally recognized concert violinist, conductor, composer, and teacher to his novels that take place in the murky recesses of the classical music world. He draws upon his intimate familiarity with the unseen drama behind the curtain to shed an eerie light on the deceptively staid world of the concert stage. A native New Yorker, Elias now resides in Salt Lake City, Utah, and West Stockbridge, Massachusetts.

Congrats on the release of Death and the Maiden, the third instalment in your violinist mystery series. What was your inspiration for this particular story?

If you’ve ever played in a string quartet, you’ll know it doesn’t take very long before everyone wants to kill each other. That makes it slam dunk material for the setting of a murder mystery. Then, given that the titles of my books are also the names of classical music pieces having to do with death, I would have been a knucklehead to overlook Schubert’s masterpiece, the Quartet in D Minor, Death and the Maiden. He transcribed the music for the quartet from a song he composed, in which a young woman struggles against the figure of Death, who has come to take her with him to the beyond. The maiden, of course, is anguished, but Death tries to convince her that he is there to provide comfort. In a way, he’s almost like a lover. The story in my book was inspired by that encounter.

Are you a fan of Agatha Christie?

Not only dear Aunt Agatha, but many of the other English mystery writers as well: Dorothy Sayers, Ngaio Marsh, Dick Francis, John LeCarre, and of course the grand-daddy of them all, Mr. Conan Doyle.

Tell us about your amateur sleuth protagonist, Daniel Jacobus. I hear he’s quite a character. How did he come to be how he is?

Daniel Jacobus has about as flinty an exterior as one can imagine, but deep down inside he has a heart of pure gold…maybe. As a young man his career as a concert violinist started with great promise, but with the onset of blindness he became increasingly reclusive, embittered not with music itself, but with the professional world around which it is created. Now, in his old age, he has to be dragged kicking and screaming to solve mysteries in the very world that he shunned.

Having been a concert musician for most of my life, I’ve taken the frustrations that most of us in my profession have do deal with, in which compromises to musical integrity are sometimes imposed upon us, and have consolidated those vexations into the persona of Jacobus to an inordinately bitchy level. The reason I’ve made him blind is two-fold: first, by being blind his other senses, especially hearing, are extraordinarily enhanced, enabling him to solve mysteries that those with sight cannot; and second, in an almost metaphorical sense, by being blind, he perceives music the way it should be—with his ears—and isn’t distracted by the superficial ostentation.

How long did it take you to write the novel? Did you plot it in advance?

In a way, writing is like playing a musical instrument—they are crafts that need to be learned in a disciplined way, and that takes time. Once one reaches a certain level, the understanding of the craft becomes ingrained, though the artistry, fortunately, always remains a wonderful challenge, full of surprises, and needs to be constantly honed.

With Devil’s Trill, it took ten years from the time I first put pen to paper until it finally found its way into print. I could write a thriller based just upon that saga! Danse Macabre took a year and a half. Death and the Maiden took a year. That’s about as fast as I want things to be because not only do I want to make sure I maintain the quality of the books, I want them to get even better.

The general plot for Death and the Maiden came quickly enough. The idea of each member of a string quartet mysteriously vanishing was the easy part. (That idea, no doubt, has entered the mind of most musicians who have ever played string quartets over the past three hundred years.) Deciding upon the means and the chronology was a challenge, because once one or two members disappear, how do you keep the quartet going so that the remaining members have the opportunity to be offed as well?

How do you go about plotting your mysteries? Do you do a chapter by chapter outline?

I start out with the overall concept, and from there try to visualize a basic story line that would strongly support the concept and grab the reader’s imagination. Then I decide how I’d like to begin and end the story, gradually creating a straight line between the two. That doesn’t necessarily mean the chapters progress chronologically, because sometimes it creates more suspense to jump forward or backward in time, but I need to have an orderly progression in my head or else my brain can get hopelessly addled. Once I have that I add intersecting lines of plot and new characters that have organically sprouted up from the main story line. Finally, of course, I have to figure out how Jacobus is going to solve the mystery!

With my fourth book, Death and Transfiguration, that I’m working on now, I’ve taken to writing a brief summary at the beginning of each chapter, a service a lot of the English writers used to provide their readers back in the nineteenth century (“In which Jonathan is thrown from his Horse and discovers, quite by Accident, a fair Maiden”), but for me it’s simply a way to expedite my writing process and will be deleted in the final product.

What is your writing schedule like and how do you balance it with your teaching and music career?

I’d love to have a regular writing schedule—to sit down from seven to eleven every morning with a cup of coffee and write, gazing out the window from time to time for inspiration. But neither my life nor my brain works that way. For one, I’m always juggling music projects with writing projects, and there are times when I’ll have an idea for a book (not necessarily the book I’m currently working on) while driving or at a rehearsal or concert. On those occasions I’ll keep the idea—which might be as little as a single line of text—in my head until the first opportunity to write something down so that I can remember the idea. Then as soon as I get home, whenever that might be, I’ll write it out in full. I have lots of little pieces of paper on my desk.

One big change for me is that in May, after more than thirty-five years of playing in symphony orchestras, I retired from my position as associate concertmaster of the Utah Symphony. This will give me a lot more freedom not only to write but also to concertize on my own.

Do you have any events coming up in the near future?

I recently returned from a two-week trip to Ecuador, where I conducted the Orquesta Sinfonica Nacional de Ecuador, did some performing on the violin, and gave master classes to groups of young string players. It was a gratifying concert tour in all ways, and I even had a chance to do a concert/book event for my first two books, Devil’s Trill and Danse Macabre, at the American Embassy in Quito.

This summer I’ll be performing with the Boston Symphony at the Tanglewood Music Festival in the Berkshire Hills of Massachusetts (home to Daniel Jacobus). At the end of the summer I’ll be driving back to Salt Lake City for a book tour, the specific events for which are just now being finalized. I greatly enjoy those book events because in addition to the usual Q&A I play excerpts on my violin of some of the significant music talked about in the books.

Do you have a website and/or blog?

My website is www.geraldelias.com. One of the special features I’d like to mention about the site is in response to many readers who wished there was a CD to go with each book. I think the solution we’ve come up with is even better. If you go to the website, there’s a page called Music To Die For. On this page you can click on any of the important pieces talked about in the books and listen to a live performance I’ve given over the years. So it’s free, it’s easy, you can’t break or lose it, and you can listen to music from all the books.

Where is Death and the Maiden available?

Death and the Maiden will be on the bookshelves August 16. It can be purchased at any bookstore or online, and can be found at local libraries as well. If you don’t see it, ask for it!

Is there a fourth book in the horizon?

I mentioned I’m working on Death and Transfiguration. This is the title of one of Richard Strauss’s greatest orchestral tone poems, about a dying man’s physical and emotional struggle for redemption, and his glorious vision of the hereafter when he dies. Strauss composed the music as a young man, and—never one to be called modest—as an old man on his deathbed he said to his daughter-in-law, “You know, death really is a lot like the way I composed it in Death and Transfiguration.”

My story is about a world-famous, tyrannical conductor named Vaclav Herza, who just about everyone would like to kill, but the great maestro always seems to have the upper hand—until he meets Daniel Jacobus, that is.

Is there anything else you’d like to say to my readers?

Since my first book, Devil’s Trill, came out two years ago I’ve received a lot of mail from readers who often have flattering comments to make about the books, but who also occasionally provide some choice, piquant criticism. I welcome both kinds of responses equally (well, maybe not quite equally) because while I like to hear I’m making most people happy, it’s good to be kept on my toes!

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By Paul Levine

“When is Jake Lassiter coming back?”

I get the question at bookstores and Bouchercon, at Thrillerfest and Sleuthfest, at Left Coast Crime, and even my dentist’s office. I might be promoting one of the “Solomon vs. Lord” books, or “Illegal,” but the questions always come back to this:

“Where the heck is Jake?”

I wrote seven Lassiter novels between 1990 and 1997. Since then, I’ve written three stand-alone thrillers, a four-book series, and a bunch of episodes for two CBS-TV dramas. But what everyone wants to talk about is that linebacker-turned-lawyer, a tough guy with a tender heart.

“Jake’s not in jail, is he?”


“Or disbarred?”

“Nope, but given his conduct in court, maybe he should be.”

Truth is, Jake Lassiter lives!

In September, “Lassiter” will be out in hardcover from Bantam as Jake searches for a missing woman from his past and becomes entangled in the intertwined worlds of politics and porn. It’s the first novel in the series since “Flesh & Bones” in 1997. But wait, there’s more.

Jake Lassiter is back in print now!

Or rather, in bytes.

Just a click away.

I’m talking about e-books. “Flesh & Bones,” published to international acclaim 14 years ago, has just been released as a $.99 e-book. The thriller deals with the very real issue of “recovered memories.” Fashion model Chrissy Bernhardt shoots her wealthy father, claiming to have recently recovered repressed memories of having been sexually abused by him as a child. Hired to defend her, Jake Lassiter begins to doubt his client, even as he falls for her.

“Another breathless thriller,” remarked the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. “Filled with smart writing and smart remarks,” proclaimed the Dallas Morning News.

Now, here’s the best part: All author royalties will go to the Four Diamonds Fund, which supports cancer research and treatment at Hershey Children’s Hospital. It’s a cause dear to my heart. The facility, part of Penn State’s College of Medicine, is one of the premier institutions of its kind. Thanks to the Fund, children whose families lack the financial wherewithal receive top-notch medical care.

That’s also the case with “To Speak for the Dead,” which rocketed to number one last summer on Kindle’s Hardboiled Bestseller List, making thousands of dollars for the Fund. In that novel, first of the series, Lassiter defends a surgeon in a malpractice case, then concludes that his client may be innocent of negligence…but guilty of murder. A sexy widow, a robbed grave, and another murder follow. “Move over Scott Turow. ‘To Speak for the Dead’ is courtroom drama at its very best.” – Larry King, USA Today

“Flesh & Bones,” priced at $.99 for a short time, is available on Kindle, Nook, and at Smashwords.

The other six books in the Jake Lassiter series are also available on Kindle, Nook, and Smashwords. More information at Paul Levine’s Website.

Note: This is the second time Levine has donated a book’s proceeds to the charity. “To Speak for the Dead,” originally published in hard cover in 1990, went on sale as an e-book last summer and rocketed to number one on Kindle’s Hardboiled Mystery Bestseller List. All author proceeds of that book, too, have gone to the Four Diamonds Fund.

About the author:

The author of 14 novels, Paul Levine won the John D. MacDonald fiction award and has been nominated for the Edgar, Macavity, International Thriller, and James Thurber prizes. His critically acclaimed and bestselling “Jake Lassiter” novels have been published in 21 countries. The first of the series, “To Speak for the Dead,” was named one of the top ten thrillers of the year by the Los Angeles Times, and is now a bestselling e–book. A former trial lawyer, he wrote more than 20 episodes of the CBS military drama “JAG” and co-created “First Monday,” starring James Garner and Joe Mantegna. He is also the author of the “Solomon vs. Lord” series and the thriller “Illegal.” His next novel will be “Lassiter,” due in Fall 2011 from Bantam.

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