Book Review ~ Tomorrow and Tomorrow by Thomas Sweterlistch

Tomorrow and TomorrowSUMMARY ~ “Yesterday can’t last forever…

A decade has passed since the city of Pittsburgh was reduced to ash.

While the rest of the world has moved on, losing itself in the noise of a media-glutted future, survivor John Dominic Blaxton remains obsessed with the past. Grieving for his wife and unborn child who perished in the blast, Dominic relives his lost life by immersing in the Archive—a fully interactive digital reconstruction of Pittsburgh, accessible to anyone who wants to visit the places they remember and the people they loved.

Dominic investigates deaths recorded in the Archive to help close cases long since grown cold, but when he discovers glitches in the code surrounding a crime scene—the body of a beautiful woman abandoned in a muddy park that he’s convinced someone tried to delete from the Archive—his cycle of grief is shattered.

With nothing left to lose, Dominic tracks the murder through a web of deceit that takes him from the darkest corners of the Archive to the ruins of the city itself, leading him into the heart of a nightmare more horrific than anything he could have imagined.”

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WHOA!  I was lucky enough to receive an ARC of TOMORROW AND TOMORROW directly from the author, Thomas Sweterlistch, aka my brother-in-law, a few months ago.  “Whoa” is the word I kept repeating to myself as I read this intense, dark, skillfully written, deep, creepy, heartbreaking, detailed and extensive book.  I continued to pinch myself from the first page to the last because I was continuously amazed and impressed with Tom’s writing.  The imagination on this guy blew me away!  Tom is a sweet, quiet, shy and soft-spoken man who adores my sister and my little niece, loves his adopted home of Pittsburgh, and has a great love and understanding for the classics, poetry and philosophy.  All of these things shine through in this world and story he has woven together. 

The main character, Dominic, is a tortured soul.  He’s one of the darkest, saddest and devastated characters I’ve ever read.  My heart poured out for him as his heartbreaking story unfolded.  The world Dominic lives in is one he wished didn’t exist.  He longs for the days of old, when his since-obliterated home town of Pittsburgh still stood in the hills and along the tangled rivers of western Pennsylvania.  The life he misses was shared with his beloved and sorely missed wife and their unborn daughter.  Fortunately and unfortunately there is a digital version of his, and many other’s, Pittsburgh that can be visited from the comforts of their new homes across the world via an extensive network called “The Archive”.  This access creates an addict of sorts of Dominic.  The detail with which Tom has written this experience is nothing short of impressive.  The imagery that is created from his words allows the reader to experience Pittsburgh through The Archive as Dominic does.

Pittsburgh isn’t the only city that Dominic finds himself in.  My hometown area of Washington, D.C. plays a definitive role in Tomorrow and Tomorrow as well as a couple of other well-known world cities.  (You’ll have to read the book to find out which ones!) Dominic finds himself in these cities, trying to figure out a mystery that is dark, horrific and disturbing.  The thing is, the mystery is so crazy and terrible because it could easily happen in real life!  Tom’s writing enveloped me in this world he created, this mystery I joined Dominic in trying to solve. 

Politics, murder, digital magic and a hint of a world that isn’t too far from our reality is what is waiting for you in the pages of Tomorrow and Tomorrow.  Vibes and echos of MINORITY REPORT and SEVEN kept running through my head as I read.  I swear I am not just saying these things because Tom is family.  I stepped out of my comfort zone of prefered genres when I read this book and it still haunts me today as I see scenes clearly in my imaginiation.  I continue to be amazed by Tom’s talent and am so thrilled with the accolades he and his debut novel are receiving on the eve of its release, Thursday July 10th.  You can learn more about Tom on his website HERE.

Rating: 5 stars

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Domestic Violets by Matthew Norman

 Summary ~ Domestic Violets ~ Tom Violet always thought that by the time he turned thirty-five, he’d have everything going for him. Fame. Fortune. A beautiful wife. A satisfying career as a successful novelist. A happy dog to greet him at the end of the day.

The reality, though, is far different. He’s got a wife, but their problems are bigger than he can even imagine. And he’s written a novel, but the manuscript he’s slaved over for years is currently hidden in his desk drawer while his father, an actual famous writer, just won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. His career, such that it is, involves mind-numbing corporate buzzwords, his pretentious archnemesis Gregory, and a hopeless, completely inappropriate crush on his favorite coworker. Oh . . . and his dog, according to the vet, is suffering from acute anxiety.  Tom’s life is crushing his soul, but he’s decided to do something about it. (Really.) Domestic Violets is the brilliant and beguiling story of a man finally taking control of his own happiness—even if it means making a complete idiot of himself along the way.

This is a GREAT book!  Reading Domestic Violets was such a wonderful experience.  I laughed out loud, gasped out loud and never felt let down by debut novelist Matthew Norman.  Norman brings to the literary world a wonderful character named Tom Violet.  He is funny, sad, confused, lost, brilliant and the kind of guy you wish was a reality instead of someone living in the pages of a book. 

Domestic Violets begins with Tom in a very intimate moment with himself.  He is facing the probability that he has erectile dysfunction and it is the funniest opening to a novel that I have ever read in recent memory.  Norman’s writing is fresh and vibrant.  The story is character driven and the reader gets to know some great literary characters.  I just loved Tom, his young daughter Allie and their little dog Hank.  Tom’s wife Anna is someone who I felt guarded against only because I loved Tom so much though he was not perfect himself.  Tom’s the son of a Pulitzer Prize (among other huge literary awards) winning novelist who he has placed on a pedestal ever since he was a very little boy.  The shadow that Curtis Violet casts on his son makes for a great story filled with relationship development that was so fun to read about.  The supporting characters and sub-plots were written so well too.  I never once had a problem with where the story was going and loved the twists that Norman sprinkled throughout.  I also loved that this book took place primarily in Washington, D.C.  Norman really used the city well in the book and it became another wonderful character.

I don’t want to talk too much about this book actually because I want you to read it.  I want you to hopefully enjoy it as much as I did.  Domestic Violets should be on your to-be-read/purchased list!  I also have to recommend a visit to Matthew Norman’s blog The Norman Nation

{Rating 5 out of 5}

I would like to thank NetGalley.com for providing me the opportunity to review an advance copy of Domestic Violets.  It is currently available in stores.

Skipping A Beat by Sarah Pekkanen

 

 

 

 

Summary ~ What would you do if your husband suddenly wanted to rewrite the rules of your relationship?

 

Dear Sarah,

Brilliant!  Your new novel, Skipping A Beat, is BRILLIANT!  I loved it from beginning to end and not just because I know you and have always rooted for you.  Because your storytelling and writing has grown and your skill in weaving characters, plot(s), scene, and magically wonderful detail is incredible. 

I am sorry I was unable to come up to Maryland for your first book signing on release day last week but it didn’t stop me from downloading Skipping A Beat onto my Kindle that morning and diving in feet first.  Julia and Michael are wonderful characters with so many faults and great aspects to their make up.  The history you created for them as individuals and a couple made them so real!  You were clever but not corny and the images created by your words leapt off the page and into my mind’s eye effortlessly.  Isabelle, Julia’s best friend, was rich in detail as well and her story did not fall to the wayside when the drama between Michael and Julia began to build.  I love that!  Julia needed Isabelle as much as she needed Julia and the affection you created between the two women is a reflection of my best girlfriend relationships which added a believability to even the smallest gesture between the characters.

Of course I must mention  my pleasure in the fact that the book is mainly set in yours and my hometown area of DC/MD/VA.  I continue to enjoy reading books set in an area that I feel I know well and yet learn something new about it through the author’s eye.  Julia finds peace and escape in a place called Great Falls.  I did the same in my late teens and early twenties between classes and theatre rehearsals at Montgomery College.  I could picture the large rock that Julia’s friend Noah could be found sitting on while playing fetch with his best friend and canine companion Bear.  The city became a character in Skipping A Beat that added to the story beautifully. 

Sarah, I am so excited for you and the accolades you have already and will continue to receive!  You’re writing has flourished and I can’t wait to see what you have in store for us next year (not to rush things). 

Always a friend and fan,

Karen

{Rating ~ 5 out of 5}

Book Review ~ The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown

Summary ~ In this stunning follow-up to the global phenomenon The Da Vinci Code, Dan Brown demonstrates once again why he is the world’s most popular thriller writer. The Lost Symbol is a masterstroke of storytelling–a deadly race through a real-world labyrinth of codes, secrets, and unseen truths . . . all under the watchful eye of Brown’s most terrifying villain to date. Set within the hidden chambers, tunnels, and temples of Washington, D.C., The Lost Symbol accelerates through a startling landscape toward an unthinkable finale.

Whew! Class is FINALLY over.  That is how I felt when I finished the last page of The Lost Symbol last night.  I felt like the story of Robert Langdon and the Ancient Mysteries could have been told in 300 pages instead of 500+.  Most of the time the “lecturing” got in the way and distracted from the somewhat suspenseful story. 

The story had some very interesting points throughout.  The idea that God is in us and that our brain is the “higher power” interest me.  As a species we are always evolving and learning about ourselves as well as the universe around us.  I took that message from The Lost Symbol but for the most part I was simply disappointed with the story.  I never felt a sense of urgency while reading about Robert Langdon trying to beat the clock in D.C. like I did with Dan Brown’s Angels & Demons.  It was pretty cool to read a book that is set in our Nation’s Capital which is only twenty-five miles north of my house.  However I continued to figure out the “secrets” that Dan Brown was filling his book with way before the secrets were divulged tot he reader.  That was frustrating for me because I kept wondering when Dan Brown was going to announce the twist and put me out of my misery.  That was not fun. 

I really wanted to like The Lost Symbol and though I did find some of the history of our founding father’s (still haven’t fact checked everything) interesting and something kept me drawn in with a desire to find out what happened to Robert Langdon, his friends and the future of the Masons.  I liked small parts of The Lost Symbol but for the most part I could have lived without reading one of the most hyped books of the last so many years.  I do look forward to filming in D.C. if Hollywood makes a movie of The Lost Symbol.  It would bring new jobs to the city as well as bring in even more tourism, which isn’t a bad thing at all.  If The Lost Symbol sparks has and continues to spark interest in America’s history than that means the book is a success.  It made me Google some things to learn more about. 

{Rating ~ 3 out of 5}

Ready, Set, Move! ~ Part 4

I can’t quite believe that tomorrow is almost here and today is quickly coming to an end.  It has been our last full day in Okinawa and it went so fast.  All of a sudden it is 9:30 pm and my packing is pretty much done until I finish getting ready in the morning and have to pack the hair dryer and flat iron.  Hubby is packing as I type this and Rocky is suspicious and seems antsy. 

The last three weeks in the Hamagawa Lodge have flown buy.  We have been so busy with final lunches and dinners at our favorite restaurants, going away parties, birthday parties, an office picnic, my last pedicure and nail art appointment at Cocok’s Salon *sigh*, a surprise retirement party for one of Hubby’s co-workers and of course our last night at the Butler Officer’s Club for karaoke. 

Thanks to the crappy T.V. reception and poor show choices I have had the chance to get some reading done.  I finished Marisa de los Santos’ Belong To Me and absolutely LOVED it.  I will be posting my gushing review after we return to the States.  I will also be hosting Marisa and her guest post as well as running a giveaway contest for the book later this month. 

I’m back to reading on the Kindle 2.0 for the flight and really enjoying it after all the hubbub about the new Kindle DX last week.  I love my “smaller” Kindle and started reading Three Cups of Teaon it the other day.  Besides having my Kindle with me for the flight we have the Nintendo DS Lite and a few games, iPods, Sudoku books and laptops to watch DVD’s.  The twelve hour flight from Tokyo to DC should be bearable with all that entertainment plus the in-flight movies.  Too bad poor Rocky can’t even have a toy in his kennell with him in the baggage compartment.  Part of me hopes he’ll have another animal to talk with down there but then I hope that he is alone and will just sleep most of the time.  He knows something is up and has been overly affectionate today. 

So, this is my last post from Okinawa.  Tomorrow I will be a Washingtonian again (though I’m always one since I grew up there) and will start a new chapter.  Don’t worry, you’ll read all about it here.  See ya on the flip side!!

Jesse’s Wedding

The main purpose for my visit to D.C. last month was to attend one of my best friend’s wedding.  Her name is Jesse and we met while working in D.C. in 2001.  We have had the great fortune of keeping in touch and building our friendship past the workplace over the last seven years.  Jesse attended Hubby and my wedding in April of 2004, visited us in Memphis three times while we lived there, and even invited me to join her on a business trip to Hong Kong and Singapore during the summer of 2007.  That trip definitely was a fantastic time for us both, especially since we hadn’t seen each other since Hubby and my move to Okinawa in May 2005. 

I am so glad that I made the long trek to the states to see Jesse marry Matt in front of their family and friends.  My folks were guests as well and enjoyed themselves immensely too.  The beautiful and touching wedding ceremony was held in an old Lutheran church, one block behind the Supreme Court Building in Washington, D.C.  Their gorgeous and memorable reception took place on the deck of the Odyssey Dinner Cruise on the Potomac River.  The night was crisp, cool and calm and for three hours we floated past the lit monuments of our nation’s capitol as well as Old Town Alexandria and Georgetown.  The wedding band was awesome and it turned out that I went to college at Shenandoah University with the female singer.  It is a small world. 

Here is a pic of the happy couple as they danced their first dance. 

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Shopping In A Small World

So far our trip is going very well.  The air is crisp, the borrowed in-law’s Lexus is driving very smoothly and the money is being spent.  Visiting with family is lovely and meeting our nephew for the first time (when we moved to Okinawa the brother-in-law was neither married nor a parent) has been very cool.  But you know what, we are in the Washington Metro area and if you are familiar with it you know that there are millions of people here and even more traveling to it for the holidays.  So how is it that I can be at the fourth largest mall in the country, Tyson’s Corner Center, in the L.L. Bean store and run into to girlfriends from Okinawa!!!!!  “It’s a small world after all!”  Yeah!  I ran into a girlfriend I’m on the MOSC board with and a Generals wife who is living in the Northern VA area now with her high ranking officer.  They had just had lunch together and the hubby and I were on our last stop in the mall when I saw them.  CRAZY! 

The excitement is never ending here after living on an island of 69 km in length and 17 km wide at the widest point.  (I’m ready to get back to this area to live any time.)  Unfortunately excitement and a busy schedule have left little room for reading, other than the slew of magazines that the mother-in-law have on the coffee table.  Gourmet, Real Simple, Southern Living, & Cooking Light.  I will say that I love Gourmet Magazine and Ruth Reichl’s Letter From The Editor is a great read. 

Tonight it’s happy hour in D.C. at Morton’s Steakhouse with my former bosses who I have kept up with over the last six years.  They are wonderful and I miss them dearly so it will be a treat to see them.  The jet lag was kicking my ass this week so we actually postponed the meeting from Wed. to Thurs. and I’m glad we did.  I would have been sleeping in my apple martini if it hadn’t been changed and that would have been plain embarrassing. 

So, my update is magazines are easy to pick up, The Pillars of the Earth is up in our room growing lonely, shopping in malls is awesome but traffic isn’t, and I miss the dog terribly.  Hope your week is going well and will be back here on the weekend with another update.