Monthly Archives: November 2013

November 22nd, 2013

JFK 50 Years Later – 11/22/63

Even if my book club hadn’t chosen Stephen King’s mammoth time-travel saga 11/22/63 for today’s meeting, I probably would’ve read it, just to commemorate the 50-year anniversary of the assassination.

Buy into the basic concept that English teacher Jake Epping can walk through a portal in the storage room of Al’s Diner and emerge in 1958, and you will be sucked into this book. Jake is an eminently likeable character, and the first-person narration gets us into his view of things.

Real life details like the taste of a root beer in 1958, or the way the clerk scrapes away excess foam with a wooden spatula before topping up the drink, give you the impression you’re right there. The roomy cars, the corny expressions, the neighborly countenances, the ridiculously low prices all make this era seem like a paradise to Jake.

Until the mission he is on starts to bite back. He starts small, changing bits of history that have a personal connection, then travels back to 2011 (the present) to evaluate the results. The book makes it clear that unintended consequences will flourish and multiply when folks like Jake go messing around in the past. Enough of the consequences appear to weigh out as positive to convince him to return through the portal once more for the big one.

Going into the past, you see, according to the rules of 11/22/63, cause a complete reset. Before Jake can tackle the big mission, he has to go back again and mess with the smaller personal events he’s already messed with once before.

Ultimately he arrives in the South with the objective of figuring out a way to undo Kennedy’s assassination. His travels take him through the Florida of 1958, New Orleans and into Texas. After spending time in Dallas and Fort Worth, he settles in a little town south of Dallas, where he takes a job as a high school teacher.

Zapped with a love-ray at a party, Jake falls in love with Sadie, a new arrival in the small town. Their quaint romance helps balance the more concept-heavy ruminations in the book.

Every chapter brings a new surprise, as the past fights against Jake’s attempts to change it. If you’ve only read Stephen King’s horror novels, you’re missing something. 11/22/63 has aspects of thriller, romance and fantasy all in one big book. I recommend the book.

Left alone, the assassination of JFK yielded the world we know now. What would our world look like today if he hadn’t been gunned down that November day? We’ll never know for sure, but Stephen King presents one scenario in 11/22/63 that you’ll definitely want to consider.

November 14th, 2013

My Favorite Bookstore

If you are within 300 miles of Basel, Switzerland, you owe it to yourself to stop at Bider & Tanner Bookstore. Friendly and helpful staff are always around to help you find what you’re looking for.

Last year, I had the immense pleasure of hearing Vikram Seth, author of A Suitable Boy, one of my favorite books of all time, read from his latest work at Bider & Tanner. Who would’ve thought Vikram Seth would find his way to our little city on the Rhine? But every week or two there is another 5-star reading or literary event.

Naturally Bider & Tanner hold a special place in my heart since they stock MY books, despite their being independently published. My bookstore!

While we’re at it, let me announce the latest question in the Doing Max Vinyl Trivia Contest: What is Bob Olson looking for when he comes to TSR and pesters Annie Ogden? You’ll find the answer in Chapter 27 of Doing Max Vinyl on Venture Galleries. Send your answer by Sunday, December 8th at 12 midnight PST to

Just a reminder of what you can win here: $5 goes to a randomly picked winner for each of the questions, while a grand prize of a $200 Amazon gift card goes to the grand prize winner, picked from all the correct entries at the end of the contest (when we finish the book). The second prize is $100 and the third prize is $50. With prizes like that, it pays to participate every week.



November 7th, 2013

10 Signs You’re Married to a Zombie

Did you ever get the feeling your partner changed overnight with no warning? Research shows this befalls women much more often than men. You stand there thinking, I have to spend the next thirty years with this moron? Fact is, there are 10 sure signs you’re married to a zombie.

  1. He gives short guttural answers like “I dunno,” or “Unh uh,” when you’d like to have a conversation.
  2. The TV is more important to him than listening to you.
  3. He consults his iPhone repeatedly during meals.
  4. When he gets home from work, too tired to talk, he just wants a beer.
  5. He doesn’t come home from work till late, and claims his phone was dead.
  6. He criticizes your cooking by putting cilantro (or hot sauce, or pepper) on everything you serve.
  7. He falls asleep during lovemaking, just when you’re about to start feeling something.
  8. He gets excited about zombie movies and likes to watch them over and over.
  9. He refuses to watch romantic movies with you.
  10. He doesn’t even notice your new clothes, shoes or hairstyle, much less say anything nice about them.


I made a case study of the modern zombified husband in my book, Zombie Candy. As a professional cook who gives cooking classes, Candace is highly offended when her husband Larry sprinkles fresh cilantro on her culinary creations. He’s guilty of most of the other points as well.

But that’s nothing compared to Candace’s shock at finding a small black bra while unpacking a suitcase from Larry’s last business trip. A bra that’s far too small to be hers. It turns out Larry’s a serial cheater.

Candace confronts Larry and deals with his betrayal in a unique way, making brilliantly creative use of his fixation with zombies. Aided by her best friend, Annie Ogden, Candace sets up the ruse of the century in a picturesque hilltop town in Tuscany, luring Larry there and torturing him in a way that’s a tad juvenile and cruel, but wickedly satisfying.

The solution to all the problems listed above is to sit down and talk together. But if he’s so far gone he won’t talk despite all your begging and pleading, what then? The way Candace handles it might not be every woman’s cup of tea, but it ultimately cures Larry. Might be worth looking into … ZOMBIE CANDY

November 2nd, 2013

Cassidy Jones Launchpad

Bestselling Author Elise Stokes

I have the pleasure of introducing you to bestselling author Elise Stokes and her wildly popular series revolving around 15-year-old superhero Cassidy Jones. We are celebrating the launch of Book #3 in the series!!

Cassidy Jones and the Seventh Attendant (Cassidy Jones Adventures #3):

Some Secrets Are Better Left Buried…

When the mysterious Gavin Phillips returns to Seattle after a prolonged and unexplained absence, he threatens to expose fifteen-year-old Cassidy Jones’s incredible secret: she is a superhero. But his presence is far more sinister than she realizes, for it soon becomes apparent that his hidden agenda holds a dark and dangerous intent that will unleash an unparalleled evil upon an unsuspecting world. Can Cassidy stop him before all is lost?



About the author

Elise Stokes lives with her husband and four children. She was an elementary school teacher before becoming a full-time mom. With a daughter in middle school and two in high school, Elise’s understanding of the challenges facing girls in that age range inspired her to create a series that will motivate girls to value individualism, courage, integrity, and intelligence. The stories in Cassidy Jones Adventures are fun and relatable, and a bit edgy without taking the reader uncomfortably out of bounds. Cassidy Jones and the Secret Formula, Cassidy Jones and Vulcan’s Gift, and Cassidy Jones and the Seventh Attendant are the first three books in the series. Book Four, Cassidy Jones and the Luminous, will be released in 2014.


Google Plus:
Barnes & Noble: