Friday, November 28, 2014

Friday Freebie: Pickett’s Charge by Charles McNair, Sometimes the Wolf by Urban Waite, Three Bargains by Tania Malik, The Family Hightower by Brian Francis Slattery, and Big Little Man by Alex Tizon

Congratulations to Bart Zimmer, winner of last week's book giveaway: Electric City by Elizabeth Rosner.

This week's Black Friday Freebie is a whopper of a shelf-stuffer.  One lucky reader will win a hardcover copy of ALL the following books: Pickett’s Charge by Charles McNair, Sometimes the Wolf by Urban Waite, Three Bargains by Tania Malik, The Family Hightower by Brian Francis Slattery, and Big Little Man by Alex Tizon.  Read on for more info on the books...

Imagine Kurt Vonnegut and Ken Kesey joining forces with Shelby Foote and Margaret Mitchell to tell the last story of the American Civil War.  Welcome to Pickett’s Charge.  At 114 years old, Threadgill Pickett believes he is the only living Civil War veteran.  He bides his time at a retirement home in Mobile, Alabama, where he nurses a great vengeance over something terrible that befell him as a boy on a journey to join the Confederate army.  On a day in turbulent 1964, Threadgill’s long-dead brother, Ben, visits him with the news that one Union soldier remains alive, in faraway Bangor, Maine.  Threadgill Pickett doffs an old hat with a yellowhammer feather in its band and heads north to fight the last battle of the Civil War.  Through one improbable adventure after another, he finds himself forced to reexamine notions of valor and vengeance he has held so fiercely, so long.  Charles McNair inventively blends the historical fiction of Threadgill’s past with 1960s-influenced tall tale-telling of an epic journey north.  It’s the most ambitious Civil War fiction since Charles Frazier’s Cold Mountain and as sweeping as Gone with the Wind.  Pickett’s Charge is a long-awaited second novel. McNair’s first novel, Land O’ Goshen, was a nominee for the Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 1994.  Part romance, part adventure yarn, part horror story, this novel about a boy and his friend growing up in a mythical Southern town draws on the most fantastic elements in the tradition of Southern fiction.

Set in the Pacific Northwest, Sometimes the Wolf is a spellbinding story of family, violence, and unintended consequences from a startling new voice in literary suspense--the author of the highly acclaimed novels The Carrion Birds and The Terror of Living.  Sheriff Patrick Drake tried to lead an upstanding life and maintain some semblance of financial stability, until his wife grew ill and they were in danger of losing everything they'd worked for.  Single-handedly raising his family in a small mountain town, he was soon hit with money troubles, fell in with some unsavory men--and then was caught and convicted of one of the biggest crimes in local history.  Twelve years later Patrick is out on parole under the watchful eye of his son, Bobby, who just happens to be a deputy sheriff in his father's old department.  Bobby hasn't had it easy, either.  He's carried the weight of his father's guilt and forsaken his own dreams, and his marriage has suffered for it.  Yet no matter how much distance he's tried to put between himself, his father, and the past, small-town minds have long memories--and trouble isn't done with the Drakes.  Not too long after Patrick's release, a terrifying threat from his old life reappears, and this time no one will be spared.  With their searing prose, soulful characters, and rich and evocative settings, the novels of Urban Waite prove that he is a worthy heir of America's most admired masters of crime fiction, from Elmore Leonard to Cormac McCarthy to Dennis Lehane.

The San Jose Mercury News called Tania Malik's Three Bargains “an impressive first novel.”  By the banks of the River Yamuna in northern India, where rice paddies of basmati merge into fields of sugarcane, twelve-year-old Madan lives with his impoverished family in the town of Gorapur.  Madan's father works for Avtaar Singh, a powerful and controlling man who owns the largest factory in town and much of the land around it.  Madan's sharp mind and hardened determination catch Avtaar Singh's attention.  When Madan's father's misdeeds jeopardize his sister's life, Madan strikes his first bargain with Avtaar Singh to save her.  Drawn into Avtaar Singh's violent world, Madan becomes his son in every way but by blood.  Suddenly it looks as if everything will change for Madan and his family until a forbidden love affair has brutal consequences and he is forced to leave behind all that is dear to him.  On his journey toward redemption, Madan will have to bargain, once, twice, three times for his life and for the lives of those he loves.

Kirkus Reviews gave The Family Hightower a starred review, saying: “A tale dripping with blood and money in a family that's far more fun to read about than it would be to live with.  And one could fill a page with all the novel's quotable lines; 'I love you means I will bleed you dry' tops the list.  This is a splendid story filled with betrayal and disaster.”  In 1968 two boys are born into a large family, both named for their grandfather, Peter Henry Hightower.  One boy—Peter—grows up in Africa and ends up a journalist in Granada.  The other—Petey—becomes a minor criminal, first in Cleveland and then in Kiev.  In 1995, Petey runs afoul of his associates and disappears.  But the criminals, bent on revenge, track down the wrong cousin, and the Peter in Granada finds himself on the run.  He bounces from one family member to the next, piecing together his cousin's involvement in international crime while learning the truth about his family's complicated history.  Along the way, the original Peter Henry Hightower's story is revealed, until it catches up with that of his children, revealing how Peter and Petey have been living in their grandfather's shadow all along.  The novel takes a look at capitalism and organized crime in the 20th century, the legend of the self-made man, and what money can do to people.  Like Jeffrey Eugenides' Middlesex, The Family Hightower stretches across both generations and continents, bearing the weight of family secrets and the inevitable personal toll they take on loved ones despite our best intentions.

In Big Little Man, an award-winning writer takes a groundbreaking look at the experience and psyche of the Asian American male.  Alex Tizon landed in an America that saw Asian women as sexy and Asian men as sexless.  Immigrating from the Philippines as a young boy, everything he saw and heard taught him to be ashamed of his face, his skin color, his height.  His fierce and funny observations of sex and the Asian American male include his own quest for love during college in the 1980s, a tortured tutorial on stereotypes that still make it hard for Asian men to get the girl.  Tizon writes: "I had to educate myself on my own worth.  It was a sloppy, piecemeal education, but I had to do it because no one else was going to do it for me."  And then, a transformation.  First, Tizon's growing understanding that shame is universal: that his own just happened to be about race.  Next, seismic cultural changes--from Jerry Yang's phenomenal success with Yahoo Inc., to actor Ken Watanabe's emergence in Hollywood blockbusters, to Jeremy Lin's meteoric NBA rise.  Finally, Tizon's deeply original, taboo-bending investigation turns outward, tracking the unheard stories of young Asian men today, in a landscape still complex but much changed for the Asian American man.

If you’d like a chance at winning all five books, simply email your name and mailing address to

Put FRIDAY FREEBIE in the e-mail subject line.  One entry per person, please.  Despite its name, the Friday Freebie runs all week long and remains open to entries until midnight on Dec. 4, at which time I’ll draw the winning name.  I’ll announce the lucky reader on Dec. 5.  If you’d like to join the mailing list for the once-a-week newsletter, simply add the words “Sign me up for the newsletter” in the body of your email.  Your email address and other personal information will never be sold or given to a third party (except in those instances where the publisher requires a mailing address for sending Friday Freebie winners copies of the book).

Want to double your odds of winning?  Get an extra entry in the contest by posting a link to this webpage on your blog, your Facebook wall or by tweeting it on Twitter.  Once you’ve done any of those things, send me an additional e-mail saying “I’ve shared” and I’ll put your name in the hat twice.

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