Esteemed children’s book critic Maya Hay gave the new book, How to Negotiate Everything, a ringing endorsement during a recent KAZI Book Review interview with the author Lisa Lutz. It was the strongest praise of a children’s book Maya has given since the Dr. Seus classic, The Lorax. The taped interview will air today at 12:50pm CT on KAZI 88.7 FM in Austin, Texas. Maya, who is a 2nd grade student at Murchison Elementary in Pflugerville, Texas, interviewed Lisa by phone in June of this year. To listen to a clip from Maya explaining why she loves the book click here:
Austin favorite Janice Hamrick came on KAZI Book Review yesterday to talk about her latest Jocelyn Shore mystery novel, Death Rides Again. In our interview we discussed the inspiration for setting this novel in the Texas Hill Country, how she comes up with names for characters, and the plot of this delectable mystery. To listen to the interview click here:
As a fan of James Clavell’s epic novel Shogun, I knew I had to interview Susan Spann, author of the mystery novel Claws of the Cat, when I learned the hero, Hiro, was a samurai/ninja living in Kyoto, Japan in1564. In Claws of the Cat, Hiro has to solve the murder of a former general in a Kyoto tea house or the Portugese priest he has been assigned to protect will be executed. To find out the full story and how Susan Spann fell in love with Japanese culture listen to the podcast of my interview:
All of you readers of Lisa Lutz’s comedic novels featuring the Spellman family know she’s a huge fan of Morgan Freeman. Last year she read an open letter to Morgan Freeman on a hilarious youtube video. I am glad to report I garnered an exclusive interview with Morgan Freeman. While it lasted only two minutes, we discussed his feelings for Lisa, whether he would babysit Princess Banana, and advice he would give Lisa artist to artist:
Meg Gardiner talked about her new novel, The Shadow Tracer, on KAZI Book Review on July 7. She shared her secrets for making the fight and flight scenes in her novel so cinematic. To listen to the interview click here: Meg Gardiner Interview.
In The Last Word, the sixth installment of a comic crime fiction series featuring a family owned- private investigation firm in San Francisco, Spellman Investigations, Lisa Lutz delivers her best work yet–though it could spell the end for her heroine, Isabel.
For those familiar with the previous Spellman “documents,” things have definitely changed in the Spellman universe–Isabel “Izzy” Spellman has executed a hostile takeover of Spellman Investigations, and the Unit (her parents) are using it as an excuse to pay Izzy back for every awful thing she’s done over the years. Also, her lack of familiarity with accounting (really with financial matters in general) seems like it may sink the family business even before the workers’ revolt does. Needless to say, Izzy’s experiment with responsibility isn’t going well.
As usual, there are around a half-dozen different threads to keep up with, with the main plotline centering on Izzy being framed for embezzlement from the wealthy client that helped her execute the Spellman takeover. We also get several side plots involving Demetrius (“D”, the wrongly convicted man freed in a previous Spellman novel, now the most trustworthy member of the Spellman Investigations team), Izzy’s polar-opposite sister Rae, and new niece Sydney, a.k.a Princess Banana and a holy terror. I think it can truly be said that there is something here for everyone.
You will find lots of footnotes (always fun) and digression (we don’t really get into the embezzlement plotline until about a third of the way in; there’s a chapter called “Where was I?”), but you likely won’t mind. Anyone that’s visited the Spellman home at 1799 Clay Street before will enjoy catching up with the whole crew, but Izzy and her hilarious-yet-questionable decisions are still center-stage.
There’s always been a bit of a wink at the reader throughout the Spellman series–a bit of a nod to the reader, that the character telling the story knows she’s a character telling a story. However, and this is another Lutz hallmark, real life keeps happening, and these characters have to stop sniping and cracking jokes (not completely) and deal with it. One of the most enjoyable things about the entire Spellman series, and this installment in particular, is the way Lutz brings actual emotion to the page that never feels cloying. You will experience real feelings for these characters, but you will never feel that you were manipulated to do so.
We’ve steered into more serious territory before in the Spellman series, but you get hit with a lot of real life in this installment. Lutz has a deft touch, though, because she never allows it to become overly serious or maudlin–I’m not sure how she manages to stay on the fine line of funny but touching, but she does it as well in the third act of The Last Word as I’ve seen.
Finally, (MILD SPOILER ALERT) there is a definite reason this is titled The Last Word–Lutz has confirmed that this will be the last Izzy Spellman novel. However, have no fear–our author is not abandoning the Spellman family, she is just shifting perspective: the next Spellman document will be done in the voice of Rae, Izzy’s youngest sibling. Rae started a “conflict resolution” business (read: legal and semi-legal revenge services) that promises even more future hilarity. It’s a bold move to continue a beloved series from the voice of a different character, but one that I have no doubt Lutz will be able to pull off.
Editor’s Note: Lisa Lutz is appearing at BookPeople in Austin, Texas on July 17 at 7 p.m. COME SEE HER!
Amy Jen Su, co-author of Own the Room: Discover Your Signature Voice to Master Your Leadership Presence, was a guest on my other talk show, Economic Perspectives, a few months ago. According to Amy and her co-author Muriel Maignan Wilkins, leadership presence is the ability to consistently and clearly articulate your value proposition while influencing and connecting with others. Their book offers a simple and compelling framework, as well as practical advice about how you can develop your own personal presence. To listen to a podcast of this interview click here: Amy Jen Su Interview
Elizabeth U, author of Raising Dough: A Complete Guide to Financing a Socially Responsible Food Business, was a guest on the Monday morning edition of KAZI Book Review today. If you’re interested in learning about some innovative ways to fund your business, especially a sustainable food business, you should listen to the podcast of this interview. To listen click: Elizabeth U Interview.