Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Interview with Brian DeLeeuw, Author of The Dismantling + Giveaway! (US/Can only)

I'd like to welcome the Brian DeLeeuw, to the blog today to celebrate the exciting release of The Dismantling from Plume Books, an imprint of Penguin Random House.

Welcome to Books à la Mode, Brian! Let's get this interview started.

Will you please share a brief introduction with us?

Brian DeLeeuw is a novelist and screenwriter living in Los Angeles. His first novel, In This Way I Was Saved, was published by Simon & Schuster in 2009 and long-listed for the Dylan Thomas Prize, with editions published in the U.K., Germany, and France. “Some Kind of Hate,” an independent horror movie he co-wrote, is currently in post-production. He is a graduate of Princeton University and received his MFA in Fiction from The New School.

It's amazing to get to feature you today! Readers, here's a bit about the book, which hit shelves last month:


In The Dismantling, troubled med-school dropout Simon Worth is faced with the grim reality of failure and massive student loans. Haunted by the accidental death of his sister, he accepts a lucrative job at Health Solutions as a black market organ broker, arranging the sales of kidneys and livers from donors who need the money to recipients whose time on the transplant list is running out.

Eight months into the job, Simon is tasked with finding a match for Lenny Pellegrini, a severely depressed ex-NFL player with a serious drinking problem and a failing liver. When Simon is contacted by Maria Campos, he believes he’s found the perfect donor. The surgery goes according to plan, but soon afterward Lenny makes a cruel and destructive decision, while startling secrets from Maria’s past further complicate the situation. Under tremendous pressure to keep the media and authorities from exposing Health Solutions, both Simon and Maria find themselves the targets of Peter DaSilva, Simon’s boss, who is desparate to protect himself and his organization at all costs. Backed into a corner, Simon is forced to decide that, against his better moral judgment, the only way to survive is to put his trust in Maria.

Embracing themes that are widespread in the media today, such as depression among ex-NFL players, black market organ transplants, adolescent trauma, and the terms of revenge and atonement, Brian DeLeeuw deftly treads the line between literary fiction and suspense with his propulsive storytelling and exquisite writing. What Kirkus Reviews has already called a “smart novel” with back stories that make the character complex and convincing, The Dismantling is a high-octane novel perfect for summer reading.
Buy the book from: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Book Depository | Books-a-Million | iTunes | Kobo | Google Play | Publisher

What was the inspiration for The Dismantling?

There were a number of different inspirations that coalesced into this book. First, I wanted to write a psychologically-focused crime novel, the kind of book in which a well-meaning character makes a series of bad—but, in the moment, understandable—decisions that slowly and inexorably accrue into a criminal disaster. I was particularly interested in the illegal organ trade and some of the ethical dilemmas it raises: Should we have the right to buy and sell parts of our bodies? Is health just another free-market commodity? Is a successful illegal transplant a victimless crime? The more I researched, the more I was sure this morally murky world was the ideal setting for my central character, Simon Worth, a young man scarred by a traumatic event from his adolescence who stumbles into the organ brokering business.

I was also interested in writing about atonement. Many of the characters in the novel are trying to fix things that cannot be fixed. Whatever original mistake they made cannot be reversed, so they transfer their guilt onto a new and unrelated situation. They simply cannot live with the conception of themselves as bad or careless people, but the compulsion to atone does not always work out the way they might want or expect it to.


Are the characters based off people you know in real life? How much of your life do you put into your stories in general?

The characters aren’t directly modeled on people I know, although of course anything anybody writes is in some respects based on real life, since our imaginations do not exist in vacuums. That said, I can point to a difference between this novel and my first book, In This Way I Was Saved. In that first novel, I used settings and environments with which I was already intimately familiar: the Upper East and Upper West Sides of Manhattan; Fire Island; Princeton University. The external facts of the life of the book’s central character were not so dissimilar to my own. With The Dismantling, however, I leaned much more heavily on deliberate research rather than lived experience.

Interesting how that worked out! As a sucker for first lines, I'd love to hear the first sentence of the book. Can you give us a brief commentary as well?

The first line is: “Simon looked again at the girl’s photo on his screen.”

A little context: when the novel opens, Simon Worth is at the Health Solutions office, searching for a suitable liver donor (or, more accurately, seller) for one of his clients. The recipient will be former NFL player Lenny Pelligrini, who suffers from CTE and has been deliberately drinking himself to death. Since Lenny’s drinking disqualifies him from a legal transplant, his old teammate, Howard Crewes, wants to purchase Lenny a new liver on the black market and Simon has been tasked with finding a seller who’s a match. The photo on his computer screen is of Maria Campos, a Los Angeles bartender willing to sell a portion of her liver for $150,000 and a trip to New York. Simon has asked for her photograph so he can determine if his favorite cover story for the transplant hospital will work. He wants to convince the hospital’s social workers that Maria and Lenny are second cousins involved in an altruistic partnership; if Maria looks even remotely like a plausible relative to Lenny, Simon’s job becomes that much easier. The book’s second line is: “There was no denying it: she might as well be Lenny’s younger sister.” With this hurdle crossed, Simon reaches out to Maria and sets the plot of the novel into motion...


I'm hooked! What are the top 5 novels that influenced your life or your writing?

From childhood, it was probably The Chronicles of Prydain, Lloyd Alexander’s fantasy series. From high school, something by Stephen King (maybe Carrie) or Philip K. Dick (maybe VALIS). From college, definitely Mark Z. Danielewski’s House of Leaves. In my twenties, it had to be Shirley Jackson’s We Have Always Lived in the Castle. And more recently, during the writing of The Dismantling, it was most likely either Donna Tartt’s The Secret History, Jennifer Egan’s Look At Me, or Mary Gaitskill’s Veronica.

Where can you be found on the web?


It was a pleasure to be able to get to know you better today, Brian! Thank you again for dropping by, and best of luck with future endeavors!

Giveaway!


Books à la Mode is giving away
 one print copy of The Dismantling
—woohoo! To enter, all you have to do is tell me:
What is the best gift you have ever received?
Please make your comment MEANINGFUL. Comments solely consisting of stock responses or irrelevant fluff like "Thanks for the giveaway!" will not be considered for entry. Brian and I really want to hear your thoughts! :)

Don't forget the entry eligibility terms and conditions!
Sponsored wholly by the publisher and tour publicist—a huge thank you to the lovely folks at Plume and TLC Book Tours!
Giveaway ends June 4th at 11.59 PM (your time).
Open to US and Canada residents only. Sorry, everyone else! Please check my sidebar on the right for a list of currently running giveaways that are open worldwide—there are plenty to choose from!
Void where prohibited.
Winners have 48 hours to claim their prize once they are chosen, or else their winnings will be forfeited.
Although I do randomly select winners, I am in no way responsible for prizes, nor for shipping and handling.
As a reminder, you do not have to follow my blog to enter, though it is always very much appreciated ❤
Good luck!

Monday, May 18, 2015

The Shepherdess of Siena by Linda Lafferty Giveaway! (US only)

The Shepherdess of Siena
Linda Lafferty

Raised by her aunt and uncle amidst the rolling hills of the Tuscan countryside, young orphan Virginia Tacci has always harbored a deep love for horses—though she knows she may never have the chance to ride. As a shepherdess in sixteenth-century Italy, Virginia’s possibilities are doubly limited by her peasant class and her gender. Yet while she tends her flock, Virginia is captivated by the daring equestrian feats of the high-spirited Isabella de’ Medici, who rides with the strength and courage of any man, much to the horror of her brother, the tyrannical Gran Duca Francesco de’ Medici.

Inspired, the young shepherdess keeps one dream close to her heart: to race in Siena’s Palio. Twenty-six years after Florence captured Siena, Virginia’s defiance will rally the broken spirit of the Senese people and threaten the pernicious reign of the Gran Duca. Bringing alive the rich history of one of Tuscany’s most famed cities, this lush, captivating saga draws an illuminating portrait of one girl with an unbreakable spirit.

Giveaway!


Books à la Mode is giving away
 one finished copy of The Shepherdess of Siena—yay!!


To enter, all you have to do is tell me:
What is your earliest memory?
Please make your comment MEANINGFUL. Comments solely consisting of stock responses or irrelevant fluff like "Thanks for the giveaway!" will not be considered for entry. Linda and I really want to hear from you guys! :)

Don't forget the entry eligibility terms and conditions!
Sponsored wholly by the tour publicist—a huge thank you to the lovely folks at SparkPoint Studio!
Giveaway ends June 1st at 11.59 PM (your time).
Open to US residents only—sorry, everyone else! Please check my sidebar for a list of running giveaways that are open worldwide. There are plenty to choose from!
Void where prohibited.
Winners have 48 hours to claim their prize once they are chosen, or else their winnings will be forfeited.
Although I do randomly select winners, I am in no way responsible for prizes, nor for shipping and handling.
As a reminder, you do not have to follow my blog to enter, though it is always very much appreciated ❤
Good luck!

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Top 10 Things You Should Know About the Neverland in Alias Hook by Lisa Jensen + Giveaway! (US/Can only)

Alias Hook
Lisa Jensen

Every child knows how the story ends. The wicked pirate captain is flung overboard, caught in the jaws of the monster crocodile who drags him down to a watery grave. But it was not yet my time to die. It's my fate to be trapped here forever, in a nightmare of childhood fancy, with that infernal, eternal boy.

Meet Captain James Benjamin Hook, a witty, educated Restoration-era privateer cursed to play villain to a pack of malicious little boys in a pointless war that never ends. But everything changes when Stella Parrish, a forbidden grown woman, dreams her way to the Neverland in defiance of Pan’s rules. From the glamour of the Fairy Revels, to the secret ceremonies of the First Tribes, to the mysterious underwater temple beneath the Mermaid Lagoon, the magical forces of the Neverland open up for Stella as they never have for Hook. And in the pirate captain himself, she begins to see someone far more complex than the storybook villain.

With Stella’s knowledge of folk and fairy tales, she might be Hook’s last chance for redemption and release if they can break his curse before Pan and his warrior boys hunt her down and drag Hook back to their never-ending game. Alias Hook by Lisa Jensen is a beautifully and romantically written adult fairy tale.

Friday, May 15, 2015

The Ladies of Managua by Eleni N. Gage Giveaway! (US/Can only)

The Ladies of Managua
Eleni N. Gage

When Maria Vazquez returns to Nicaragua for her beloved grandfather's funeral, she brings with her a mysterious package from her grandmother's past—and a secret of her own. And she also carries the burden of her tense relationship with her mother Ninexin, once a storied revolutionary, now a tireless government employee.

Between Maria and Ninexin lies a chasm created by the death of Maria's father, who was killed during the revolution when Maria was an infant, leaving her to be raised by her grandmother Isabela as Ninexin worked to build the new Nicaragua. As Ninexin tries to reach her daughter, and Maria wrestles with her expectations for her romance with an older man, Isabela, the mourning widow, is lost in memories of attending boarding school in 1950's New Orleans, where she loved and lost almost sixty years ago. When the three women come together to bid farewell to the man who anchored their family, they are forced to confront their complicated, passionate relationships with each other and with their country—and to reveal the secrets that each of them have worked to conceal.

Lushly evocative of Nicaragua, its tumultuous history, and vibrant present, Eleni N. Gage's The Ladies of Managua brings you into the lives of three strong and magnetic women, as they uncover the ramifications of the choices they made in their pasts and begin to understand the ways in which love can shape their futures.

Giveaway!


Books à la Mode is giving away
 one finished copy of The Ladies of Managua—yay!!


To enter, all you have to do is tell me:
What is your heritage or ethnic lineage? If you're American, can you trace back to your parents' or grandparents' roots?
Please make your comment MEANINGFUL. Comments solely consisting of stock responses or irrelevant fluff like "Thanks for the giveaway!" will not be considered for entry. Eleni and I really want to hear from you guys! :)

Don't forget the entry eligibility terms and conditions!
Sponsored wholly by the publisher—a huge thank you to the lovely folks at St. Martin's Press!
Giveaway ends May 29th at 11.59 PM (your time).
Open to US and Canada residents only—sorry, everyone else! Please check my sidebar for a list of running giveaways that are open worldwide. There are plenty to choose from!
Void where prohibited.
Winners have 48 hours to claim their prize once they are chosen, or else their winnings will be forfeited.
Although I do randomly select winners, I am in no way responsible for prizes, nor for shipping and handling.
As a reminder, you do not have to follow my blog to enter, though it is always very much appreciated ❤
Good luck!

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Richard J. Alley, Author of Five Night Stand, on His Love for Jazz + Giveaway! (US/Can only)

Five Night Stand
Richard J. Alley

Legendary jazz pianist Oliver Pleasant finds himself alone at the end of his career, playing his last five shows, hoping the music will draw his estranged family back...

Frank Severs, a middle-aged, out-of-work journalist, is at a crossroads as his longtime dreams and marriage grind to a standstill...

And piano prodigy Agnes Cassady is desperately grasping for fulfillment before a debilitating disease wrenches control from her trembling fingers...

When Frank and Agnes come to New York to witness Oliver’s final five-night stand, the timeless force of Oliver’s music pulls the trio together. Over the course of five nights, the three reflect on their triumphs and their sorrows: families forsaken, ideals left along the wayside, secrets kept. Their shared search for meaning and direction in a fractured world creates an unexpected kinship that just might help them make sense of the past, find peace in the present, and muster the courage to face the future.

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Faking It by Leah Marie Brown Giveaway! (Open internationally!)

Faking It (It Girls #1)
Leah Marie Brown

Haven't you ever told a little lie in the name of love?

Vivia Grant couldn’t be happier. She has her dream job and is about to marry her dream man. Does it really matter that she’s led him to believe she’s a virgin? After all, being in love makes every experience feel like the first time anyway! But an unexpected encounter with an ex-lover is about to expose her embarrassing lie...

When Vivia’s fiancé discovers the truth, he ends their engagement—via text—and uses his connections to get her fired. Unemployed and heartbroken, Vivia begins planning her new future—as a homeless spinster. But her best friend has a better idea. They’ll skip the Ben & Jerry’s binge and go on Vivia’s honeymoon instead. Two weeks cycling through Provence and Tuscany, with Luc de Caumont, a sexy French bike guide. Too bad Vivia’s not a big fan of biking. And she’s abysmal at languages. Will she fib her way through the adventure, or finally learn to love herself—and Luc—flaws and all?

Giveaway!


Books à la Mode is giving away
 one finished copy of Faking It and a $25 Amazon gift card—that's two winners total, with no location restrictions!


To enter, all you have to do is answer Leah's question in a comment below:
Vivia Grant, the heroine in Faking It, has misadventures during her travels. She frequently finds herself in precarious or embarrassing situations. Tell us about any misadventures you've had while traveling!
To double your chances of winning, sign up for Leah's mailing list here (scroll down to the bottom of the page for the form). Just tell me in your comment that you subscribed and I'll give you an extra entry in the drawing!

Please make your comment MEANINGFUL. Comments solely consisting of stock responses or irrelevant fluff like "Thanks for the giveaway!" will not be considered for entry. Leah and I really want to hear from you guys!

Don't forget the entry eligibility terms and conditions!
Sponsored wholly by the author—a huge thank you to the lovely Leah Marie Brown!
Giveaway ends May 23rd at 11.59 PM (your time).
Open internationally—woohoo! That means anyone in the world can enter, as long as you have a verifiable email address.
Void where prohibited.
Winners have 48 hours to claim their prize once they are chosen, or else their winnings will be forfeited.
Although I do randomly select winners, I am in no way responsible for prizes, nor for shipping and handling.
As a reminder, you do not have to follow my blog to enter, though it is always very much appreciated ❤
Good luck!

Thursday, May 7, 2015

We’ll Always Have Paris by Jennifer Coburn Giveaway! (US only)

We'll Always Have Paris
Jennifer Coburn

How her daughter and her passport taught Jennifer to live like there's no tomorrow

Jennifer Coburn has always been terrified of dying young. So she decides to save up and drop everything to travel with her daughter, Katie, on a whirlwind European adventure before it's too late. Even though her husband can't join them, even though she's nervous about the journey, and even though she's perfectly healthy, Jennifer is determined to jam her daughter's mental photo album with memories—just in case.

From the cafés of Paris to the top of the Leaning Tower of Pisa, Jennifer and Katie take on Europe one city at a time, united by their desire to see the world and spend precious time together. In this heartwarming generational love story, Jennifer reveals how their adventures helped vanquish her fear of dying... for the sake of living.

Giveaway!


Books à la Mode is giving away
 three finished copies of We'll Always Have Paris—yay!!


To enter, all you have to do is tell me:
If you were heading to Paris this weekend, what would be the first thing you would do?
Please make your comment MEANINGFUL. Comments solely consisting of stock responses or irrelevant fluff like "Thanks for the giveaway!" will not be considered for entry. Jennifer and I really want to hear from you guys! :)

Don't forget the entry eligibility terms and conditions!
Sponsored wholly by the author—a huge thank you to the lovely Jennifer!
Giveaway ends May 21st at 11.59 PM (your time).
Open to US residents only—sorry, everyone else! Please check my sidebar for a list of running giveaways that are open worldwide. There are plenty to choose from!
Void where prohibited.
Winners have 48 hours to claim their prize once they are chosen, or else their winnings will be forfeited.
Although I do randomly select winners, I am in no way responsible for prizes, nor for shipping and handling.
As a reminder, you do not have to follow my blog to enter, though it is always very much appreciated ❤
Good luck!