Michael Cavacini

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Archive for the tag “Andrew Gross”

Book Review: Eyes Wide Open by Andrew Gross

IMG_0004I recently read Eyes Wide Open by Andrew Gross and it was terrific. The story is fast-paced, the characters are well-developed and it kept me on the edge of my seat from start to finish. My only complaint about the novel is the ending. It ran too long, concluding with a cliff hanger, leaving it open-ended for a potential sequel. It would have been far more satisfying for it to have ended after the climax came to a close. Instead, it dragged on too long and left me confused and disappointed. Despite my distaste for how Eyes Wide Open ended, I still recommend that you read this book because it’s well-written, compelling and full of suspense.

James Patterson Honored At National Book Awards

IMG_7083Last night I attended the National Book Awards in New York City, an annual event hosted by the National Book Foundation. My reason for going was to see James Patterson receive the 2015 Literarian Award for Outstanding Service to the American Literary Community. Past recipients of this award include Maya Angelou and Dave Eggers.  Read more…

ThrillerFest X Recap

thrillerfest-xEarlier this month I attended ThrillerFest for the third year in a row. For those unfamiliar with the event, it’s hosted by International Thriller Writers, the premier organization for thriller writers, and it features an endless selection of panels, workshops and interviews for fans and writers to enjoy. Read more…

Book Review: Everything To Lose by Andrew Gross

Andrew Gross - Everything to Lose

Late last night I finished Everything to Lose by Andrew Gross. Prior to this, I had read most of the novels Gross co-wrote with James Patterson, my two favorite being Lifeguard and Judge & Jury, as well as three books he wrote on his own. Having completed Everything to Lose, I can say with confidence that it ranks right up there with his work with James Patterson and that it’s superior to his 2013 thriller, No Way Back, which I also enjoyed. The premise of the novel, a woman finding a bag full of money on the side of the road and having to deal with the internal ethical turmoil that ensues, resonated with me. As I read it, I thought to myself, what would I do if I were in her shoes? This is a clear sign of effective writing and Gross had me hooked from the start. While there weren’t any mind-blowing surprises along the way, I found the story compelling from start to finish.

However, like any book, it’s not perfect. I don’t care for stories where the point of view changes so much that it makes me stop reading so I can reorient myself, and the same goes for jumping back and forth through time; I think it’s OK to start off in the past and then let the rest of the story happen in present day. But to jump back and then jump forward is distracting to me. These minor quibbles aside, Everything to Lose is a riveting tale that kept me up way past my bed time, and I highly recommend you pick it up.

Synopsis 

A determined, (down on her luck,) mother caring for her handicapped son becomes entangled in a murderous conspiracy to keep a twenty year old secret buried in this blistering thriller, set during the tragic aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, from Andrew Gross, the New York Times bestselling author of 15 Seconds and No Way Back.

While driving along a suburban back road, Hilary Blum, who’s just lost her job and whose deadbeat husband has left her alone to care for her son with Asperger’s, witnesses a freakish accident. A car ahead of her careens down a hill and slams into a tree. Stopping to help, she discovers the driver dead—and a satchel stuffed with a half a million dollars.

That money could prevent her family’s ruin and keep her special needs son in school. In an instant, this honest, achieving woman who has always done the responsible thing makes a decision that puts her in the center of maelstrom of dark consequences and life-threatening recriminations—a terrifying scheme involving a twenty-year-old murder, an old woman who’s life has been washed out to sea, and a powerful figure bent to keep the secret that can destroy him hidden.

With everything to lose, everything she loves, Hilary connects to a determined cop from Staten Island, reeling from the disaster of Sandy, to bring down an enemy who will stop at nothing to keep what that money was meant to silence, still buried.

Three Books To Read This Spring

My to-read list is massive and I’m sure yours is too. Since deciding what to read next can be hard, here are my three recommendations for what to read this spring.

KEEP QUIET by Lisa Scottoline

My girlfriend, Stephanie, and I meeting Lisa Scottoline at her book signing for Keep Quiet on April 19.

My girlfriend, Stephanie, and I meeting Lisa Scottoline at her book signing for Keep Quiet on April 19.

This past Saturday my girlfriend, Stephanie, and I attended Lisa Scottoline’s book signing for her new novel, Keep Quiet, at the Barnes & Noble in Cherry Hill, NJ. Lisa’s mother just passed away last week, so I wasn’t sure if she was going to have the book signing. But after cancelling a few dates on her book tour, Lisa persevered and decided to do her last two book signings. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but Lisa, using her infectious humor, found a way to leave everyone smiling by the end of the event. Yes, she spoke about “Mother Mary” passing away, but she also made sure to inject several funny stories about her mother that had the crowd in stitches. And Lisa remembered many fans, including myself, by name and embraced us with hugs and well wishes. For my money, no author is as warm and loving to her fans as Lisa Scottoline.

But let’s get to the book. Keep Quiet is next on my to-read list and as you can see from the synopsis below, it sounds like it should be an intriguing and compelling read. I can’t wait to crack it open and based on the early reviews, it’s one of Scottoline’s best books in recent years. Keep an open eye out for my review of the book in the coming weeks.

And, if you haven’t already read it, you can check out my interview with Lisa Scottoline here.

Keep Quiet Synopsis

New York Times bestselling and Edgar Award winning author Lisa Scottoline is loved by millions of readers for her suspenseful novels about family and justice. Scottoline delivers once again with Keep Quiet, an emotionally gripping and complex story about one man’s split-second decision to protect his son – and the devastating consequences that follow.Jake Buckman’s relationship with his sixteen-year-old son Ryan is not an easy one, so at the urging of his loving wife, Pam, Jake goes alone to pick up Ryan at their suburban movie theater. On the way home, Ryan asks to drive on a deserted road, and Jake sees it as a chance to make a connection. However, what starts as a father-son bonding opportunity instantly turns into a nightmare. Tragedy strikes, and with Ryan’s entire future hanging in the balance, Jake is forced to make a split-second decision that plunges them both into a world of guilt and lies. Without ever meaning to, Jake and Ryan find themselves living under the crushing weight of their secret, which threatens to tear their family to shreds and ruin them all. Powerful and dramatic, Keep Quiet will have readers and book clubs debating what it means to be a parent and how far you can, and should, go to protect those you love.

EVERYTHING TO LOSE by Andrew Gross

Everything to Lose by Andrew Gross comes out on April 22.

Everything to Lose by Andrew Gross comes out on April 22.

Another one of my favorite authors is Andrew Gross, who I also interviewed last year. You can check it out here. He has a new novel coming out tomorrow entitled Everything to Lose. I’m reading it right now and will be reviewing it soon. I’m happy to report that it’s very entertaining and, in my opinion, better than his previous book, No Way Back. I highly recommend you order a copy of Everything to Lose and give it a shot. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised. You can buy the book here.

Everything to Lose Synopsis 

A determined, (down on her luck,) mother caring for her handicapped son becomes entangled in a murderous conspiracy to keep a twenty year old secret buried in this blistering thriller, set during the tragic aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, from Andrew Gross, the New York Times bestselling author of 15 Seconds and No Way Back.

While driving along a suburban back road, Hilary Blum, who’s just lost her job and whose deadbeat husband has left her alone to care for her son with Asperger’s, witnesses a freakish accident. A car ahead of her careens down a hill and slams into a tree. Stopping to help, she discovers the driver dead—and a satchel stuffed with a half a million dollars.

That money could prevent her family’s ruin and keep her special needs son in school. In an instant, this honest, achieving woman who has always done the responsible thing makes a decision that puts her in the center of maelstrom of dark consequences and life-threatening recriminations—a terrifying scheme involving a twenty-year-old murder, an old woman who’s life has been washed out to sea, and a powerful figure bent to keep the secret that can destroy him hidden.

With everything to lose, everything she loves, Hilary connects to a determined cop from Staten Island, reeling from the disaster of Sandy, to bring down an enemy who will stop at nothing to keep what that money was meant to silence, still buried.

CARNAL CURIOSITY by Stuart Woods

Carnal Curiosity by Stuart Woods debuted at #1 on The New York Times Best Sellers list.

Carnal Curiosity by Stuart Woods debuted at #1 on The New York Times Best Sellers list.

My first interview of the year was with the legendary thriller writer Stuart Woods, famous for his Stone Barrington series that has been going strong for decades. The newest installment in the series, Carnal Curiosity, just debuted at #1 on The New York Times Best Sellers list. Once I’m done Lisa Scottoline’s Keep Quiet, this one’s next, so stay tuned for my review. Based on how enjoyable Woods’ recent novels have been, I also recommend you pick up a copy of Carnal Curiosity.

Carnal Curiosity Synopsis 

Stone Barrington seems to have a knack for being in the wrong place at the wrong time. When Manhattan’s elite are beset by a series of clever crimes—and Stone is a material witness—he and his former partner Dino Bacchetti find themselves drawn into the world of high-end security and fraud, where insider knowledge and access are limited to a privileged few, and the wealthy are made vulnerable by the very systems meant to keep them safe. As Stone and Dino delve deeper into their investigation, they learn that the mastermind behind the incidents may have some intimate ties to Stone . . . and that the biggest heist is still to come.

2013: It Was A Very Good Year

New Year - Philadelphia2013 was my first full year of blogging, and it was a great one. I wrote 174 posts and exceeded 20,000 views, reaching people in 118 countries. I also had the honor and privilege of interviewing some of my favorite authors, actors and musicians, including:

  1. Lisa Scottoline
  2. Andrew Gross
  3. Melissa Manchester
  4. Michael Des Barres
  5. Douglas Preston
  6. Jon Land
  7. M.J. Rose
  8. Steven James
  9. Taylor Stevens
  10. Donald Bain
  11. Thomas B. Sawyer 
  12. Dick Hill

And 2014 is shaping up to be an even bigger year with interviews already scheduled with 2014 Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Inductee John Oates and bestselling author Stuart Woods.

Thanks to all of you who regularly read my posts, as well as those who take the time to comment. Speaking of which, below are my top commenters’ great blogs. Make sure to check them out:

2013 was my best year yet, both personally and professionally, and I plan on making 2014 even more special.

Happy New Year!

10 Books That Touched Me

open-book-on-top-of-pile-of-booksMy friend Dawnna tagged me in a Facebook post where she listed 10 books that stayed with her for one reason or another. The goal is simply writing down 10 books that touched you without listing them in any particular order or over analyzing what should or shouldn’t be included. Then, you have to tag five friends and ask them to do the same. Since I thought this was a cool idea, I’m turning my list into a blog post. Please feel free to list your “10 Books That Touched You” in the comments section below.

  1. The Mark – Jason Pinter
  2. It – Stephen King
  3. The Pillars of the Earth – Ken Follett
  4. The Innocent – Harlan Coben
  5. Six Years – Harlan Coben
  6. The Money Book for the Young, Fabulous and Broke – Suze Orman
  7. Think Big and Kick Ass in Business and Life – Donald Trump
  8. No Way Back – Andrew Gross
  9. Sex Money KISS – Gene Simmons
  10. Napalm & Silly Putty – George Carlin

Book Review – The Blue Zone by Andrew Gross

The Blue ZoneToday, I finished listening to the audiobook version of Andrew Gross’ first solo novel, The Blue Zone. I’m a big fan of the books he co-wrote with James Patterson, especially Lifeguard and Judge and Jury, and I really enjoyed Gross’ latest book, No Way Back. Now I’m working my way through his solo work and decided to start with his bestselling debut thriller, The Blue Zone. I’m happy to report that it’s a gripping tale that surprised me with its biggest twist and kept me on the edge of my seat, wondering how the story would play out.

My only gripe is that in the first few chapters Benjamin Raab is referred to as “Mr. Raab” for what seemed like 100 times. Every time someone addressed this character, especially law enforcement, Gross felt the need to end each sentence of dialogue with the character saying “Mr. Raab.” For example, here are some sentences I made up to illustrate how “Mr. Raab” was used to death in the opening chapters’ dialogue:

“Where were you last night, Mr. Raab?”

“Oh, how interesting, Mr. Raab”

“Why don’t you just tell us the truth, Mr. Raab?”

“How many times do you think I can say ‘Mr. Raab,’ Mr. Raab?”

It drove me out of mind because it was obscenely redundant. When there are two people talking in a scene, it’s OK to mention each character’s name once, but that’s it. Anything more makes for an irritating read. Why not have the characters refer to him as “Ben” once in a while, or, better yet, not address him at all? What made it worse was the audiobook narrator, who was atrocious. Her shrill voice saying “Mr. Raab” made me want to throw my iPhone out the window. Needless to say, don’t listen to the audiobook version of The Blue Zone – go for the print or e-book version instead.

Now that I got that out of my system, let’s get to the good stuff. After getting past the redundant and sometimes superficial dialogue in the beginning of the book, Gross did a terrific job of developing the lead character, Kate. I liked the periodic breaks in the action where she went swimming and reflected on the chaos around her; these scenes, as well as the ones at her job and with her boyfriend, gave the character emotional depth and maturity.

The big twist that took place toward the end of the book was satisfying because I didn’t see it coming and it was believable. It also tested the characters’ limits and, in some cases, revealed true motives. I don’t want to go into further detail because it would spoil it for you.

Take my advice: Despite its initial flaws, The Blue Zone is a taut thriller by a talented author that’s worth the price of admission.

One of the nice features of the audiobook is it included an interview with the author at the end. Below are some highlights from the interview, as well as a synopsis of the book and a couple videos.

Andrew Gross on The Blue Zone

  • “At some point, I was waiting for another project from Jim [Patterson]. All of the books originated with his outline. And while I was waiting for maybe a week or two longer than I was comfortable with, I starting noodling an idea out that became the foundation of The Blue Zone. And it was also a very fast process where I worked a fairly extensive outline to it, submitted it to my agent and within, literally, four or five days we had a series of publishers looking at it and bidding on it. So, it was very difficult to turn that down.”
  • “It actually had its origins with a dinner party I went to up in West Chester where I met someone who, like the main character, Benjamin Raab, was a jewelry dealer, he was a gold dealer, and absolutely one of the more obnoxious people I ever met. Highly successful. Houses everywhere. His and her Ferraris. Ya know, over the top. And, I guess, about a month later I found out that it had all been a sham and that he was arrested for money laundering, which, at the time, I wasn’t particularly uncomfortable with hearing. But what it struck in me was the chord of how fragile our lives are and how easily not only is it brought down for an individual but for an entire family as well. So, it wasn’t a stretch after that to sort of think of what it would be like if that situation happened in our lives, and, so, that’s basically how The Blue Zone started.”
  • “The Witness Protection Program is interesting, but what I found more interesting was the terror of someone who is left behind, in this case, Kate, our protagonist. And, two, I guess the sense of betrayal one feels when you discover that your family, or your father in particular, isn’t the man you’ve always idolized and trusted your whole life, and I think that that is a terror that almost everyone can identify with. And when you have that stripped away, you strip away your entire emotional protection as well, and this is how Kate has to approach things in the book.”

Synopsis

Everything in Kate Raab’s life seems perfect. She has an amazing family, an invigorating job straight out of college, and a boyfriend she adores. Then a phone call changes everything. Her father, a successful businessman, a man she has always trusted and admired, is in trouble with the law. He’s innocent, he insists to his family, but the only way out, is this: his testimony against his accomplices and the immediate placement of his family deep inside the Witness Protection Program. He accepts, and everyone prepares to go into hiding—until one of them suddenly gets cold feet. In a flash, Kate’s perfect life is gone.

Now, a year later, her worst fears have happened. Kate’s father suddenly disappears—into what the WITSEC agency calls the Blue Zone—and someone very important to him is found brutally murdered. As Kate digs into her father’s life, the shocking truth she finds sets in motion a decades-old vendetta. With her family under watch, with the FBI untrustworthy, and her father’s menacing “friends” circling her with increasing intensity, Kate alone must set off on the life and death journey to find her father, and uncover the secrets someone will kill to keep buried.

Andrew Gross’ No Way Back Coming To ABC

No Way BackThis week it was announced that ABC is working on a television adaptation of Andrew Gross’ latest thriller, No Way Back. The pilot has been scheduled and is being produced by Jessica Sharzer, one of the co-executive producers of FX’s American Horror Story, and Francie Calfo. As you know from my review of No Way Back, I thought it was a very good read, so I’m eager to see how it translates to the small screen. I’ll keep you posted on additional details as they become available.

 

Andrew Gross – Live Chat

Andrew_GrossAs you know, I’m a fan of Andrew Gross’ work and I had the pleasure of interviewing him for my blog and meeting him at ThrillerFest VIII. If you’re looking for the opportunity to ask him about his new novel, No Way Back, or any of his other books, I’ve got good news. This Thursday (8/1), Gross is participating in a live chat on BookTrib.com – a book/publishing website that features book news, reviews and custom online promotions, including giveaways, contests, live author chats, etc. During the chat, which takes place at 7:00 p.m. EST, you can directly ask Gross questions, and BookTrib is giving away a brand-new Kindle Fire loaded with a selection of the author’s books. If you’re new to his work or a longtime fan, I recommend you check out this event. Andrew Gross is a terrific writer and it should be a fun time.

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