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Employer of Choice

Published February 12, 2013 by Maryam S

Employer of Choice

Would really like feedback on initiatives that will help create that ’employer of choice’ classification …

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Long Lost by Harlan Coben – Book Review

Published February 5, 2012 by Maryam S

Reviewing a bestselling author is no easy feat, yet it is effortless to describe the brilliance behind the author, that is Harlan Coben. Long Lost takes us on an action-packed ride quite literally all over the world with a narrative occurring at a rapid pace that is so unanticipated it has you speed-reading just to uncover the events.

Two days before I learned the secret she’d kept buried for a decade—the seemingly personal secret that would not only devastate the two of us but change the world forever.

Myron Bolitar, a gifted but failed athlete turned sports agent and his aristocratic, influential friend, Win become embroiled in a chase unlike any other. A past life resurfaces in the form of a beautiful TV Reporter, Terese Collins, who calls out for a desperate plea for help.

Come to Paris

Welcoming Myron to Paris is a murder investigation which involves Terese’s ex-husband. Myron discovers Terese’s long lost daughter’s blood was placed at the scene of the murder, thus Myron begins his own form of enquiries and what unfolds around him can only be described as insane. We observe Myron confront terrorism in its extremist form, conspiracy, murders, and paradoxes seemingly impossible they could be probable.

“Once you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains, no matter how impossible, must be the truth”.

I am a new Coben fan, having read recent novels such as Caught, Shelter and Miracle Cure (not so recent) and now my first Bolitar novel I will admit I found Long Lost somewhat farfetched in comparison. Bourne Identity and Dan Brown came to mind and yet I was expecting the same authenticity found in recent Coben novels. That being said, Long Lost is a novel filled with intrigue, wit, imaginative narrative that only Coben can accomplish and I look forward to reading the Myron Bolitar Series.

9/10

Bio

With 50 million books in print worldwide, Harlan Coben’s last four consecutive novels, LIVE WIRE, CAUGHT, LONG LOST and HOLD TIGHT all debuted at #1 on the New York Times bestseller list and lists around the world. His first Young Adult novel SHELTER was just released this fall. His books are published in 41 languages around the globe and have been number one bestsellers in over a dozen countries.

Winner of the Edgar Award, Shamus Award and Anthony Award – the first author to win all three – international bestselling author Harlan Coben’s critically-acclaimed novels have been called “ingenious” (New York Times), “poignant and insightful” (Los Angeles Times), “consistently entertaining” (Houston Chronicle), “superb” (Chicago Tribune) and “must reading” (Philadelphia Inquirer).

View Trailer for Long Lost

Purchase Long Lost from Amazon

Français : Harlan Coben lors d'une séance de d...
Image via Wikipedia

Questions for the reader:

What did you think of this plot?

Do you believe the Ali and Myron’s relationship was somewhat of an anti-climax?

What did you think of Win’s character?

Would you like to see Long Lost part 2?

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When the past refuses to stay buried, three people will discover that the American dream can be a nightmare . . .

Megan is a suburban soccer mom who once upon a time walked on the wild side. Now she’s got two kids, a perfect husband, a house with a picket fence, and a growing sense of dissatisfaction. Ray used to be a talented documentary photographer, but at the age of forty he finds himself in a dead-end job posing as a paparazzo pandering to celebrity-obsessed rich kids. Broome is a detective who can’t let go of a cold case – the disappearance of a local husband and father seventeen years ago.

As the terrible consequences of long-ago events collide in the present, three people living lives they never wanted, hiding secrets that not even those closest to them would ever suspect, will come to realise that the past never truly fades away. And as each confronts the dark side of the American dream – the boredom of suburban life, the thrill of temptation, the desperation that can lurk behind even the prettiest facades – they will discover the hard truth that the line between one kind of life and another can be as whisper thin as a heartbeat.

THE DARK PATH by Luke Romyn – Book Review

Published January 31, 2012 by Maryam S

Have you ever witnessed something so indescribable that your brain shuts down and the person you once were vanished? What would happen if something or someone were to awaken the senses within you?

All that Antoni saw was the girl-child, and all he felt was her love.

And that was all he would ever need.

Set in New York’s shadowy underworld, an assassin exists only to witness the pain he brings on his victims. He goes by the name of Vain, a conceited, cold-blooded being, commissioned to perform the unspeakable of killings. We will have you journey alongside The Dark Path to uncover the secrecies, memories and emotions that have been laid sleeping for too long.

The look in the Dark Man’s eyes spoke of pain and death, and unable to speak, Guido rapidly shook his head. Gods! The man instilled more fear with a single look than others managed with threats or violence.

A saviour known as Priest is about to change the course of Vain’s destiny forever. A new assignment has been set, to protect a young boy from the devil and its followers. Witness Vain embark on a journey filled with cultists, demons, celestial beings that will leave you not only speechless but craving more.

The Dark Man’s screams cut the air like a reaper’s scythe and his mind exploded.

Luke Romyn, an extraordinary story-teller, possesses a rare talent, to imagine a central character that reaches out to the reader and renders us transfixed. It is not often you empathise with a character in a horror novel and yet one has an overwhelming desire to do so.

The man on the bed sobbed for the first time in many years. The memories returned to him in a torrent and the pain proved almost too much to bear.

This is a must read novel filled with passion, emotion, rage, and paranormal activity that will keep you turning pages throughout the night.

I am honoured to have Luke Romyn visit my blog and talk to me about the inspiration behind The Dark Path and who is behind the writer.

Q: There is an essence of reality within the novel. Do you hold memories that have inspired you to write such a story?

All I can say is that I’ve met a very eclectic bunch of people in my travels, and yes, some of them contributed to aspects of the story. Vain was a combination of many things and facets of my life were definitely involved in his creation. He is by far one of the most badass people I could ever imagine, and I’d hate to encounter such a person in real life.

Q: You set your scenes in New York, Rome and China, have you travelled to these destinations and why set the scenes here?

I’ve never been to New York, though it’s definitely on my list of places to go. I have been to Rome and Beijing and included them in the story because they are all larger than life destinations – much like Vain is a larger than life character. I couldn’t have him strolling down the street in New Jersey and hanging out with the girls from Desperate Housewives. The story is massive and needed to take place in locations around the world which fit the action.

Q: How much research went into cultism?

Since I created the Souls of Sordarrah and the fact they were more of an external threat until the end of the novel, I really didn’t have to base too much of their actions on those of other cults. This was a totally fictional premise, and as such I was able to work without boundaries, making them as fanatical as I needed in order to get the job done. It was cool.

Q: There was some disturbing narrative in The Dark Path, mainly torture, love, and family. How did you feel when writing this storyline?

It was definitely difficult, and in fact the original draft was much more horrific and Vain was incredibly evil, as were the things that happened to him, but I needed to rein things back to make him more likeable as a character. The end result was much more subtle without losing any of the power the scenes evoked. As an untested writer it was definitely a learning experience in that more isn’t always better.

Some of the scenes were incredibly difficult to write, to put myself into those shoes and walk through such soul-scorching evil, and to be honest some of it left me shaken, but it was all necessary in order to create the character wanted. I wanted a Dark Man who walked the line of evil and yet who the reader would end up cheering on, and in order to get that I needed to go through this process. The end result is Vain.

Q: Vain initially comes across as dark, deathly, shadowy and mercenary, however, as he starts to recall flashes of his past he is a mere mortal with a sarcastic sense of humour.. was this your intention, to add humour to the story, making Vain more believable?

I needed to take some of the edge off the brutality of Vain’s nature, and humour seemed to come naturally to a lot of the scenes. Caustic remarks flowed through his dialogue without being forced and felt completely natural, so I ran with it. Along with the internal battle taking place within Vain’sconscience throughout the story this helps to make him more human and much more likeable.

Q: Where do you get your characters from and how do they evolve?

I honestly have no idea, I’ve never really thought about it. Vain was a conscious decision and I created the storyline around him, but the others seemed to just come along for the ride. Squirrel was one of my favourites, and he evolved greatly from the initial role I had in mind for him of being nothing more than a guy who sells information to something else entirely.

My imagination quite often runs off on its own and my job is just to try to keep up. A lot of the characters that emerge in my stories are just in the right place at the right time. This doesn’t mean I don’t put a lot of thought into them, quite the contrary, but I don’t plan them ahead of time. The story will simply take a turn and the role of a new character is there. Their personalities are then developed and individuality ascertained. I don’t just want a clump of bland figures that fill gaps, my characters all need to stand out within the story. Much like the locations and action, nothing is ordinary in my books.

Q: Tell me about your next book, ‘Beyond Hades’

Beyond Hades is going to be my largest release to date, both conceptually and length wise. It’s about an archaeologist, Doctor Talbot Harrison, who receives a phone call telling him his brother has just been killed and the Government needs his help. Minutes later he’s literally dragged from his home under military guard and attacked by a creature straight out of Greek mythology.

And that’s just the first scene.

This book is going to be one hell of a ride for readers, incorporating the massive action of my second novel, Blacklisted, and the intense imagination of The Dark Path into an adventure where the most unlikely of heroes has to somehow stop the world from being consumed by a realm from beyond Hades.

Q: What advice would you give to aspiring dark novel writers?

Be true to yourself. Don’t try to write like someone else, write what you believe in and let the ideas lead you where they want to go. Don’t tie yourself down too much with planning and organization, instead allow the storyteller within you to run free upon the page, and entertain yourself with the story you devise. You can either make writing a joy or a chore, the choice is yours.

Thank you Luke.

Readers: What did you think about The Dark Path?

Rated 9/10

Download the book trailer

Purchase The Dark Path right here

Luke Romyn
Image via Wikipedia

Follow Luke Romyn on Twitter

Book Review – HIKIKOMORI by Lawrence Pearce

Published January 26, 2012 by Maryam S
Hikikomori shirt

Image by persocomholic via Flickr

When I close my eyes, she becomes real.

Jared, a profoundly disturbed individual still coming to terms with the death of his beloved Sarah, assumes the persona of a Hikikomori, a willing recluse who has taken solace within the confines of his apartment. His insanity presents herself in the form of a female necessity.

I lean forward.

I almost choke, as my face in the mirror is replaced by something else.

Jared is faced with conflicting emotions, the intense love he feels for Sarah, the desperate guilt over her death and the fear of insanity gnawing away.

I whisper, ‘Now that your body is a million miles from mine, and your heart several worlds removed, I can say it; I loved you.’

His choice of comfort is a sexy little lady who assumes many different styles, everything, except black hair. Sarah had black hair. This imaginary lady helps Jared forget about everything, forget about his past, his life with Sarah and keeps him fixated but something inside won’t let it drop. This Hikikomori is faced with spirits that will not fade until he confronts his demons.

‘I’m sorry. I still love you.’ I whisper into her ear.

Melissa, a tormented, recovering Insomniac with Dissociative Identity Disorder lives in a fancy apartment, alone. A self-confessed recluse, Melissa conjures up illusory friends who are the complete opposite of her and finds time to picture such bizarre scenes with intricate detail.

His body crunches the roof of a car. He spits out a gallon of blood that splatters down over his broken body, the wreck beneath him and traumatised passers-by.

Having moved into this new apartment, Melissa, feels the presence of a man, a beautiful man whom she is drawn to and who seems to possess sufferings of his own. The two initiate a deep, perverse journey filled with a painful yearning to accept their pasts.

‘I’m sorry, I still love you.’ He whispers into my ear.

The level of detail is staggeringly overwhelming to say the least. It is clear the author emanates passion and artistry that is evident throughout his writing.

Lawrence Pearce has the ability to rouse feelings of despair you didn’t know existed within you. A sinister novel that will take the reader into an unfamiliar zone and have you question your own mentality.

8/10

Questions for the reader:

Reader: What are your thoughts on the structure of Hikikomori and how do you think the different narratives add to the overall conclusion of the story?

Reader: How did the central theme of Hikikomori resonate with you?

Reader: How true did the characters feel to you?

Reader: How did you feel about the intertwined relationships

Reader: How else do you feel Hikikomori could have ended?

Questions for the author:

@Lawrence Pearce: Have you always wanted to be a writer?

@Lawrence Pearce: Where did your inspiration for Hikikomori come from?

@Lawrence Pearce: In Jared, the narrative was natural, realistic and about an individual faced with demons of the past, yet in Melissa, her imagination is far more irrational, for example, the description of the angel dying. Was this an intentional tactic?

@Lawrence Pearce: Where do you characters come from and how do they evolve?

@Lawrence Pearce: How much research did you do on social withdrawal?

@Lawrence Pearce: Hikikomori deals with some disturbing and poignant issues. How did you handle these subjects?

@Lawrence Pearce: Are you a tea lover?

@Lawrence Pearce: What are you writing next?

Thank you for reading my review.

Download Hikikomori right here

Follow Lawrence Pearce on Twitter

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