WBTV From March 20, 2017

Nemesis by Brendan Reichs

The Rose & The Dagger by Renée Ahdieh

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Arden Reviews: Nemesis by Brendan Reichs (Interview Included)

IMG_2176Book:  Nemesis

Author: Brendan Reichs

Genre: Teen & Young Adult Mystery & Thriller, Action & Adventure, Fiction

Basic Description: It’s been happening since Min was eight. Every two years, on her birthday, a strange man finds her and murders her in cold blood. But hours later, she wakes up in a clearing just outside her tiny Idaho hometown—alone, unhurt, and with all evidence of the horrifying crime erased.

Across the valley, Noah just wants to be like everyone else. But he’s not. Nightmares of murder and death plague him, though he does his best to hide the signs. But when the world around him begins to spiral toward panic and destruction, Noah discovers that people have been lying to him his whole life. Everything changes in an eye blink.

For the planet has a bigger problem. The Anvil, an enormous asteroid threatening all life on Earth, leaves little room for two troubled teens. Yet on her sixteenth birthday, as she cowers in her bedroom, hoping not to die for the fifth time, Min has had enough. She vows to discover what is happening in Fire Lake and uncovers a lifetime of lies: a vast conspiracy involving the sixty-four students of her sophomore class, one that may be even more sinister than the murders.

Arden’s Thoughts: Y’all. This book blew my mind. I read it in 4 days. I only read books that quickly when I’m on vacation. I work with quite a few clients through my marketing business and Rodan + Fields business. They’re all paying me so I try to be the best darn steward of their investments as I can be.

Now, I promise you, all my work was turned in on time and very well done, but I didn’t sleep much the week I read Nemesis. I literally could not put down the book because every page felt like a cliffhanger swirled with a character development topped off with a plot twist.

I had no idea where Min and Noah were going, why they would be murdered (sorta) every two years, who was behind the conspiracy, and exactly how in the heck would Reichs find closure in a rapidly developing story that held as many questions as it did answers.

Lucky for me, I got to interview the author himself early on a rainy Saturday morning. Even in the middle of a clean eating diet, Brendan (we’re tight now so I can toss aside AP style) engaged me from the beginning of our phone conversation. Had it not been for my Southern upbringing that taught me to not over stay my welcome, I could have chatted with him for hours.

We recounted stories of his early days as a lawyer turned writer and our most embarrassing “only a book nerd could understand” fan moments. Mine involved chasing down John Grisham and Sarah Dessen at the same conference. His… well, you’ll have a chance to meet him on tour at a bookstore near you starting March 21. You can go visit him to learn his.

And we talked about Nemesis. Because our conversation was one of true creative types, sporadic with a hint of random, it wasn’t as linear as my previous author interviews. Hopefully, you’ll capture how engaging and personable he is as I share the highlights of our conversation with you…

Arden: Thanks so much for chatting with me this morning. I’ll be upfront with you. I don’t normally read books like Nemesis and enjoy them. I’m not a thriller kind of gal. But, wow! Your book is incredible. But, I’ve gotta ask… Where did you get the idea for this plot and your characters?

Brendan: Haha, I love that question. It makes me think I’ve created something a bit original and the twists and turns might surprise my readers.

The idea came from Highlander. I was toying with the finality of death. Then, what if you died but it didn’t really count. What if you saw yourself murdered, felt it, but then… you were alive again. What would that do to you?

And really, Nemesisis the beginning of at least a two-part series. I’m working on the next book and it’ll dive even deeper into what happens with Min and Noah… what their lives of dying and then, well not dying, do to their personal development.

Arden: Yea… it’s interesting how Min handles it versus Noah. I think the idea of several people being in a similar situation yet reacting vastly different will resonate with readers. For me, it had me wondering… would I be the best version of myself in this story, or the worst?

Brendan: True. I wanted people thinking deeper than the thriller portion of the story. I also wanted Min and Noah to be very different. I chose Min to be the stronger of the two because so often it’s the boy in the story being the strong one. I didn’t want that. I wanted my girl lead to be strong, empathetic and understanding, but really strong. I wanted Noah to be the weak one, the character barely holding it together. I think more girls need to see that in characters so I wrote that in mine.

And, I don’t like characters who are flat or one-dimensional. I want to show that not everyone is perfectly good or perfectly evil. There’s depth to who I write.

Arden: Ah! I love it. And the depth shows. I mean, when the one guy… (Ha! Just kidding. I’m not giving away any twists.)

Brendan: No! Don’t give away anything. There’s so much to uncover.

Arden: Just keeping you on your toes since you’re sans coffee this morning. So, do these characters come to you in your sleep? Do you see the plot unfolding before you as you watch college basketball? What does your crafting process look like?

Brendan: I’m a former lawyer and current MFA (Masters in Fine Arts) student. I have to know the broad strokes, and a lot of the smaller strokes, before going into it. But, then I’ll be in the middle of a day-to-day activity and the link to the entire story will come to me. I actually have a 6’x4′ whiteboard in my office. I’ll storyboard in my office, outline chapters, and then write a paragraph for each chapter.

Thrillers should thrill. For me, that means carefully crafting the story from start to finish. I need a huge outline before me to keep me focused on where I am now and where the story is taking me.

I write so my reader is engaged, entertained. And every time I finish a book, I’m convinced it’s the last time I’ll ever write. I’ve poured everything into that book.

 

Are you dying to meet Brendan and hear more about his latest book, NemesisWell, if you’re in and around the Charlotte area, plan to be at the Barnes & Noble in the Arboretum Tuesday, March 21 starting at 7 p.m. For more tour details and his other locations including the D.C. area, Charleston, and others, click here.

 

 

 

 

 

Arden Reviews: The After Party by Anton DiSclafani

FullSizeRender 3Houston, Texas.
1950s.
Oil money.
Women.

These words invoke a saucy set-up to any summertime read, but hearing them used to describe the narrative doesn’t lead you to think the book will be thought-provoking; or incredibly irritating.

Yet, The After Party by Anton DiSclafani was both thought-provoking
and incredibly irritating for me.

Upon opening The After Party, we’re dropped into the world of the socially elite living in River Oaks (still one of the top ten wealthiest neighborhoods in the country) in the mid-1950s. Our main characters are Joan Fortier and Cece Buchanan. Joan’s our It Girl, the Kim Kardashian of her day. Cece’s her loyal sidekick, or handmaiden as she’s called later in the novel.

Joan and Cece have been friends since grade school… though friendship seems an incorrect term for their relationship. Cece worships Joan and Joan appreciates Cece’s worship. The two are magnets for each other, and even though everyone they encounter can see the completely unhealthy relationship in which they reside, they stay connected.

Joan’s portrayed as the town’s socialite and unpredictable queen. But, at 25, her royalty is slipping because society dictated she’s of age to be married. I found Joan a little over-the-top but mostly, I appreciated Joan. She saw a system she could never beat as a woman in the 1950s and somehow manages to get out from under the judgmental, tyrannical eye of her fellow socialites.

For me, it’s Cece who is so annoying. Her infatuation with Joan infuriates me. But, the more I wonder how a fictional character can anger me so, the more I realize how like Cece I can be. I am loyal to a fault. There have been people in my life I should have cut off long before I actually said “goodbye”.

And like Cece, I still wonder about these people. Are they okay? Are they happy? Do they think of me at all?

It’s that odd self-gratifying/hardcore-loyalist combo that drives the story for me. Cece’s other friends, and her husband, cannot understand the hold Joan has on Cece. As I put myself in Cece’s shoes, I feel her resistance to letting go of Joan. There’s something so idealist and pure in her pursuit of making Joan whole; yearning for her friend to be entirely happy.

But, there’s also a point where no human can make another human fully happy. We’re broken creatures and at some point, we have to let go of those who are breaking us.

It’s this lesson I took away from The After Party. Many people will love this book. I can appreciate it, but I spent way too much time being irritated to love it. But, I also couldn’t stop reading it and was fully invested in every character. So… I’d venture to say it’s a “must” for your summer time list.

WBTV November 9, 2015 Book Segment

The books I promoted in this segment of Arden’s Book Club on WBTV with Christine Sperow had a New in Nonfiction theme. Be sure to check out your local library or book store to get them in your hands soon.

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The Residence: Inside the Private World of the White House by Kate Anderson Broweris is dubbed as a remarkable history with elements of both In the President’s Secret Service and The Butler, The Residence offers an intimate account of the service staff of the White House, from the Kennedys to the Obamas. (On the show I said it stopped at the Clintons. My bad. I’d probably stop reading about the time I hit the Clintons because WHOA, NELLY, do we need to see inside that White House when we have Shonda Rimes every week?)

Arts

Meanwhile There Are Letters: The Correspondence of Eudora Welty and Ross Macdonald by Suzanne Marrs (Editor), Tom Nolan (Editor) shows artists always need a partner who can truly “get” them. In 1970, Ross Macdonald wrote a letter to Eudora Welty, beginning a thirteen-year correspondence between fellow writers and kindred spirits. Though separated by background, geography, genre, and his marriage, the two authors shared their lives in witty, wry, tender, and at times profoundly romantic letters, each drawing on the other for inspiration, comfort, and strength.

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Carolina Writers at Home by Meg Reid (Editor), Rob McDonald (Photographer) will be a favorite for my Carolina crowd. From Beaufort to Boone and a dozen places in between, Carolina Writers at Home is a rich collection of true stories showcasing the houses where some of the most notable Southern authors including Jill McCorkle, Nikky Finney, Allan Gurganus, Clyde Edgerton, and Michael Parker have forged their writing lives.