Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Kindle Daily Deal (July 23, 2014): First love separated by war, romance in Paris, leadership, Batman x 10 and middle-grade Sci Fi



Here's today's Kindle Daily Deal, available for $2.99!

The Lost Wife, by Alyson Richman.

A rapturous novel of first love in a time of war-from the celebrated author of The Rhythm of Memory and The Last Van Gogh.

In pre-war Prague, the dreams of two young lovers are shattered when they are separated by the Nazi invasion. Then, decades later, thousands of miles away in New York, there's an inescapable glance of recognition between two strangers...

Providence is giving Lenka and Josef one more chance. From the glamorous ease of life in Prague before the Occupation, to the horrors of Nazi Europe, The Lost Wife explores the power of first love, the resilience of the human spirit- and the strength of memory.


A Q&A with best-selling author John Lescroart and Alyson Richman about The Lost Wife
Lescroart: Say a few words about your extraordinary Prologue to this book and how it initiated the creative process of the novel.
Richman: I had been hoping to write a novel where I could explore an artist’s experience during WWII and the Holocaust. So I started to do research about how certain real life artists were still able to create, even under these horrific and dangerous circumstances. But I didn’t know how I was going to frame the novel. Then one day I was getting my hair cut at a local salon, and I overheard the stylist next to me telling a story he had recently heard from another client. It was about a woman who had recently attended a wedding where the bride’s grandmother and the groom’s grandfather had not met previously. At the rehearsal dinner the night before, the groom’s grandfather insisted he knew the bride’s grandmother “from somewhere.” At the end of the evening, still convinced that he recognized her (despite her denials), he asked her to roll up her sleeve. There the six-number tattoo from Auschwitz was inked into her skin. He looked at her again, this time more closely. Studying her face one more time, he said: “You were my wife.”
When I heard that story, I knew I had the beginning of my novel! I would begin and end it at the wedding scene, but invent this couple’s journey in between: how they fell in love in romantic pre-war Prague, but then became separated as the Germans invaded, and later how they each begin new lives in America. I made Lenka--the “lost wife” of the book’s title--a young art student at the beginning of the war, so I could weave in my historical research about various artists who had survived Terezin and Auschwitz by using their artistic skills. It was my hope that my readers would learn and appreciate the history of these artists, while also becoming swept away into Josef and Lenka’s love story that I created.
Lescroart: I have rarely come across a novel where the visual arts have played such an important role, in both the personal and political realm. What is your own background, if any, in visual art? To what extent did your creation of Lenka the artist help you deal with the themes in the book?
Richman: I am the daughter of an abstract oil painter and a painter myself. I actually went to college thinking I was going to major in studio art, but then fell in love with art history. What I love about it was uncovering the story within the painting. My mother taught me, early on in my childhood, the “gift of seeing.” If you’re going to paint, you need to look at the clues of your subject, the traces of life--whether it’s the bruise on a pear or a wrinkle on a face. I try to bring that to my writing and to also incorporate texture and color into my words, so that the reader has a full, sensory experience.
To that end, the reader will experience a marked change in Lenka as the novel progresses. She starts off as a naïve, young art student, who is often more of an observer than a participant. Then becomes an artist willing to steal supplies for the young children in Terezin and anxious to become part of a secret resistance of artists trying to get their art work to the outside world. By the end of the war, she has wholly changed – both as a stronger woman and as a more risk-taking artist.
Lescroart: Josef and Lenka both go on to have lengthy married lives to other people after the war ends. Josef, particularly, builds a life with Amalia that is just heart-rending. How did you envision these people coming together? What kept them together? How was Lenka’s marriage similar, if at all, to Josef’s, and what does your answer say about the nature of marriage itself?
Richman: Many people who have read this novel have said that they’ve never read a book where there are so many different types of love depicted. There a “first love” between the young Lenka and Josef; the love between a parent and child, as well as between sisters; then the love among all the friends Lenka makes in the Terezin ghetto; and finally the loves that both Josef and Lenka experience within their second marriages later in their lives.
The first love between Josef and Lenka is the most beautiful, the most romantic, but I think it’s the subtler shades of love within their respective second marriages that are more complex and perhaps more interesting. On the surface, Josef’s and Amalia’s appears to be loveless. Lifeless. But it is a marriage that exists from a shared pact of silence and respect for their mutual pasts and survivor’s guilt over their lost families. I wanted to create Amalia as an almost “living ghost” because I wanted to explore how Josef would react: his heart is still attached to Lenka, who is truly a ghost of his past, but who still lives deeply within his memory.
Lenka’s post-war marriage to Carl is perhaps the biggest surprise to the reader. At the end of their lengthy marriage, they share a deep love that has transformed over time, built on family and her gratitude for his saving her after the war. But it is a very different kind of love compared to the one Lenka experienced as a young girl with Josef.
Lescroart: The central conceit of this book, and indeed the genesis of the title, strongly relies on the reader’s suspension of disbelief that these two lovers could not only have lost track of one another, but have entirely given up on each other’s survival. In this high wire act, you were completely successful, and I was left in awe by the technical virtuosity of your plotting. Can you describe your plotting/outlining process and some of the problems--both this and others--you found most difficult to solve?
Richman: Well, that’s a very good question. I knew I wanted to involve the Nazi’s sinking of the S.S. Athenia in 1939 into the novel. So I interviewed a survivor of that ship, whose family had mistakenly believed that their father had drowned but then later learned he had in fact survived. So I knew there was, in actuality, a great deal of confusion with casualty reports at that time. Then there is the issue of how inundated the Red Cross was right after the war, with so many refugees and other people trying to locate their loved ones but the information was coming so slowly over from Europe. One has to remember there was no computers or internet at that time.
But truly, the success of the novel’s ringing true to me has to do with the exploration of memory and just how powerful it is. Josef, who was safe here during the war, clings to the memory of Lenka in order to survive, while Lenka must suppress hers of him in order to survive her far more physically traumatic experiences in Terezin and Auschwitz.
Lescroart: You portray life in the Czechoslovakian prison camp of Terezin as horrible of course, yet quite different--more filled with intrigue, politics, and passion--than most other books that deal with the Holocaust. How did this pivotal landscape evolve in your consciousness as you were creating this book?
Richman: I was lucky enough to be able to visit the Czech Republic and meet with survivors of Terezin, some of whom had been artists in the Technical Department there and knew many of the real-life characters depicted in the book. Their testimony really enhanced my writing of the novel and breathed life into it that would have been impossible without hearing about their actual experiences. When you think of the Holocaust, you immediately and rightfully imagine those haunting images of tragedy and death. But through my research, I learned another aspect--the ability of the human spirit to defy great odds just to live--as well as to still be able to love and to create, even under great duress. I remember listening to one survivor of Terezin who said: “We thought we were going to die… so what choice did we have. We still wanted to love and laugh. We still wanted to live.”

353 pages, with a 4.5-star rating from 793 reviews



Here's today's Daily Romance Deal, available for $1.99!

Sleeping with Paris (A Paris Romance), by Juliette Sobanet.

Date like a man in the City of Light and Love…
Charlotte Summers is a sassy, young French teacher two days away from moving to Paris. Love of her life by her side, for those romantic kisses walking along the Seine? Check. Dream of studying at the prestigious Sorbonne University? Admission granted. But when she discovers her fiancé’s online dating profile and has a little chat with the busty red-head he’s been sleeping with on the side, she gives up on committed relationships and decides to navigate Paris on her own. Flings with no strings in the City of Light—mais oui!
Determined to stop other women from finding themselves in her shoes, Charlotte creates an anonymous blog on how to date like a man in the City of Love—that is, how to jump from bed to bed without ever falling in love. But, with a slew of Parisian men beating down her door, a hot new neighbor who feeds her chocolate in bed, and an appearance by her ex-fiancé, she isn’t so sure she can keep her promise to remain commitment-free. When Charlotte agrees to write an article for a popular women’s magazine about her Parisian dating adventures—or disasters, rather—will she risk losing the one man who’s swept her off her feet and her dream job in one fell swoop?

320 pages, with a 3.99-star rating from 237 reviews



Here's today's Daily Non-Fiction Deal, available for $1.99!

Leadership Transformed: How Ordinary Managers Become Extraordinary Leaders, by Peter Fuda.

How does a good manager become a great leader? Ask around in business circles and you’ll get a thousand different answers. But now, internationally renowned leadership expert Dr. Peter Fuda has created a single, coherent roadmap for leadership effectiveness in Leadership Transformed.

After more than a decade’s research and practice, Dr. Fuda shares the seven common themes that have enabled hundreds of CEOs around the world to transform themselves into highly effective leaders, and transform the performance of their organizations as well. Through his work, Dr. Fuda discovered that the best way to elicit deep and broad discussion of the seven leadership themes—and to describe the CEOs’ mastery of what they had learned—was through metaphor.

Fire—motivational forces that initiate and sustain transformation efforts.
Snowball—mutual accountability, and the consequent momentum that occurs when a critical mass of leaders commit to shared leadership principles.
Master Chef—leadership frameworks, tools, and strategies that can be “artfully” deployed.
Coach—how a “coaching staff” can collectively help leaders achieve their aspirations.
Mask—leaders can shed the heavy burden of wearing a mask in favor of a more congruent “best self.”
Movie—leaders can develop critical capabilities of self-awareness and reflection.
Russian Dolls—how a leader’s personal journey can align with the journeys of his or her colleagues and organization.







240 pages, with a 4.4-star rating from 61 reviews



Here's today's Daily Science Fiction/Fantasy Deal, available for $2.99!

Batman Vol. 1: The Court of Owls (The New 52), by SCOTT SNYDER.

Following his ground-breaking, critically acclaimed run on Detective Comics, writer Scott Snyder (American Vampire) alongside artist Greg Capullo (Spawn) begins a new era of The Dark Knight as with the relaunch of Batman, as a part of DC Comics—The New 52!

After a series of brutal murders rocks Gotham City, Batman begins to realize that perhaps these crimes go far deeper than appearances suggest. As the Caped Crusader begins to unravel this deadly mystery, he discovers a conspiracy going back to his youth and beyond to the origins of the city he's sworn to protect. Could the Court of Owls, once thought to be nothing more than an urban legend, be behind the crime and corruption? Or is Bruce Wayne losing his grip on sanity and falling prey to the pressures of his war on crime?

Collects issues #1-7 of Batman.

Q&A with Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo

Q: What is it like working on a huge initiative like The New 52?
Scott Snyder: For me it was exciting because we were given the opportunity to work on characters we love with no restrictions. So if the best story meant making changes to a character's history, there was flexibility to do so. With an imitative this big, seeing how many new readers came to the table to read comics after having lapsed, or never having read one at all, was a real thrill.
Q: What would you say defines the characters you are working on?
SS: For Batman, what defines him is his relentless determination, which is both his most heroic quality and his most pathological. For Swamp Thing, I'd say what defines him is his inability to give up his humanity even when he's at his most monstrous.
Q: What stories or creators inspire you most when working on your character?
SS: For Batman, I have my favorites: Dark Knight Returns and Year One, but it's hard to only pick a couple because he's a character who grew up alongside me, where the kinds of stories that were being told about him were becoming more sophisticated and complex right as I was coming of age. And now the fun thing is that I have a five-year-old son and I get to fall in love with some of the tamer versions of Batman all over again.
Q: Do you keep up with any of the other New 52 books? Which ones and why?
SS: My favorite of The New 52 would have to be Animal Man by Jeff Lemire, who is also one of my closest friends. And I'm really excited to be a part of everything happening in Gotham between Batgirl, Batman and Robin, Nightwing, and all the great books in our neighborhood. I particularly like All-Star Western for its interesting mix of old west and gothic horror.
Q: Has social media and increased direct interaction with DC Comics' fans changed your writing/drawing approach at all in regards to The New 52?
SS: It hasn't changed my writing approach; it has made me appreciate how much the fans love these characters. I always knew it, but seeing the responses online through Twitter and Facebook is overwhelming and inspirational. It's like being at a con all the time. I brought my wife to her first con last year and when I asked her what she thought, she said--and I was nervous to hear her response--that she was really moved by how passionate the fans were about these characters, and I feel the same way.
Q: When it comes to writing Batman, are you distinguishing this version from the previous one? Is your approach to the character different than the pre-New 52 Batman?
SS: No, my version of Batman is as different as the version that came before, just like every version is, because the truth is, the only way to write a character as iconic as Batman is to accept that you're going to have to make him your own, almost as if you were writing fan fiction and no one is ever going to read it. If I started thinking of all the amazing versions of the character that have come before, I would be paralyzed.
Q: You and Jeff Lemire tend to Twitter war each other often. How has this affected you when it comes to writing Swamp Thing and its ties to Animal Man?
SS: For me, our Twitter war is fun because while we insult each other online, usually we are texting each other offline, laughing about the whole thing. Jeff is one of the creators who inspire me the most for his sense of story and his dedication to characters.
Q: Greg, what's it like for you to work on the iconic Bat-Family and Batman villains? You even redesigned the Batman Rogues in the very first issue!
Greg Capullo: Well, everyone has probably heard me say by now that I first drew Batman and Robin when I was four years old. My mom has it somewhere. It was crude, but clear who they were, so to be drawing them professionally all these years later is really cool. I can tell you that I'm super excited to be drawing Batman and, though I admit to being a bit jaded, I was never so nervous (except for maybe my first work for Marvel) as when DC asked me to relaunch Batman from issue no. 1. Terrifying, is what it was. Especially being that I was aware of some of the fear out there that I was going to be turning Batman into Spawn, as I'd worked for years on that book. I really felt like an underdog. I was always confident (after the nerves settled) that those fears would be replaced with joy. I mean, I love Batman the same as you. I don't want to mess him up!
The Rogues, Ah, the Rogues. Well, they weren't really redesigns. I guess to some extent they were. But, they were locked up in Arkham. So, it was more like: what ways might a prisoner come up with to maintain his or her persona behind bars? That became the question. Speaking of, how about the Riddler's mohawk? HA! I think some Batman fans actually wanted to lynch me for giving him that! The Joker was the closest I got to a redesign. I'd love to get my hands on him for a story arc!
Q: The New 52 introduces a younger universe of heroes and I think your art very much reflects that. Is this a conscious thought when you're working on the title?
GC: Absolutely. I was given the characters' ages up front. Some complained that I draw Bruce and the family too young. The fact is I'm drawing them exactly as the powers that be want them to appear. As a professional, you want to give the client, in this case DC, what it is they're looking for. However, I listen very closely to the fans. After all, without them, we're nowhere. I've tried to make subtle changes based on what some of them were saying. My hope at the end of the day is that everyone will be pleased, even though that is completely impossible. Still, I'll always try. Now, I'm off to the Bat Cave to draw me some more Batman!


176 pages, with a 4.7-star rating from 424 reviews

10 Batman graphic novels



 
 



Here's today's Daily Youth Deal, available for $1.99!

The White Mountains (The Tripods), by John Christopher.

Monstrous machines rule the Earth, but a few humans are fighting for freedom in this repackaged start to a classic alien trilogy ideal for fans of Rick Yancey’s The 5th Wave.

Will Parker never dreamed he would be the one to rebel against the Tripods. With the approach of his thirteenth birthday, he expected to attend his Capping ceremony as planned and to become connected to the Tripods—huge three-legged machines—that now control all of Earth. But after an encounter with a strange homeless man called Beanpole, Will sets out for the White Mountains, where people are said to be free from the control of the Tripods.

But even with the help of Beanpole and his friends, the journey is long and hard. And with the Tripods hunting for anyone who tries to break free, Will must reach the White Mountains fast. But the longer he’s away from his home, the more the Tripods look for him…and no one can hide from the monstrous machines forever.

228 pages, with a 4.4-star rating from 164 reviews



Happy Reading!

Betsy

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