Author Archive

Grandmaster Mystery Novelist Robert Crais on KAZI Book Review Today

April 20, 2014 Leave a comment

Tune in at 12:30 p.m. today to KAZI 88.7 FM for my interview with mystery writer Robert Crais who was bestowed the highest honor in mystery writing, being named a Grandmaster in 2014 along with Carolyn Hart by the Mystery Writers of America for lifetime achievement joining luminaries such as Agatha Christie, Alfred Hitchcok, John LeCarre, Sue Grafton, and James Lee Burke, among others,  with this recognition.

A native of Louisiana, Robert Crais is the author of 19 novels of which 15 are part of the Elvis Cole/Joe Pike series.  Prior to becoming a novelist, Crais was a television script writer working on such series as Hill Street Blues, Cagney and Lacey, and Miami Vice. His latest novel is Suspect.


Podcast: Akashic Books Author Eric Charles May Discusses Novel Bedrock Faith on KAZI Book Review

April 16, 2014 Leave a comment
Eric Charles May

Eric Charles May

Chicago native Eric Charles May recently discussed his debut novel, Bedrock Faith, on the March 24 edition of KAZI Book Review.  In the interview, May discussed how he crafted this novel in part from his experiences growing up in a black neighborhood in Chicago, the gossipy nature of the characters in his fictional middle class community, and  his long journey from journalist to novelist.  To listen to the interview click here:


Schedule Change for KAZI Book Review Today

April 13, 2014 Leave a comment

Justin Go, author of a new novel, The Steady Running of the Hour, will be interviewed live today on KAZI Book Review at 12:45 p.m. CST.

At 12:30 p.m. We’ll air an interview with mystery novelist Tricia Fields, author of Wrecked.

The interview with Reza Zarghamee, author of Discovering Cyrus, will air Monday, April 14 at 8 a.m. CST and the interview with Joan DeJean, author of How Paris Became Paris will air Monday, April 21 at 8 a.m. CST.

Categories: Uncategorized

Persian Empire and Paris Focus of Upcoming Book Interviews

April 9, 2014 Leave a comment

Fans of ancient history and lovers of Paris, France should really enjoy the upcoming interviews this Sunday and Monday on KAZI Book Review:

Sunday, April 13, 2014, 12:30 p.m. – 1 p.m. CST
Reza Zarghamee, Discovering Cyrus: The Persian Conqueror Astride the Ancient World

Monday, April 14, 2014, 8 a.m. – 8:30 a.m. CST
Joan DeJean, How Paris Became Paris: The Invention of the Modern City



Susan Straight Spins Tales of Louisiana Folks Living in California

April 6, 2014 Leave a comment

20140406-080717.jpgTune on to a live interview with Susan Straight, author of Between Heaven and Here, at 12:30 p.m. CST on KAZI 88.7 FM. Between Heaven and Here is her third novel about an African American community of

Susan Straight

Susan Straight

families from Louisiana that came to Southern California after World War 2. In this book, Glorette, once the most beautiful and sought after girl in high school, is found dead in a shopping cart in the fictional community of Rio Seco. Straight uses multiple narrators to tell the stories of what drove the families to leave Louisiana and what struggles the younger generations face trying to survive and prosper.

Susan Straight was born and raised in Riverside, California. She teaches creative writing at the University of California, Riverside and still lives in the community where she was raised.

Final Four: Four Favorite Basketball Books

April 2, 2014 Leave a comment

With the Final Four being played this coming weekend, I thought now would be a good time to recommend some good basketball books in no particular order.

One False Move by Harlan Coben – okay, I threw you a curve ball, it’s a novel published in 1998. But the author is a former NCAA basketball player, and his protagonist, Myron Bolitar, is a former NCAA basketball star turned sports agent/private investigator. This was the fifth of ten novels featuring Bolitar, and in this one he is hired to protect professional basketball star Brenda Slaughter who is receiving death threats.

The Jordan Rules by Sam Smith – a Chicago journalist dishes the dirt on the greatest basketball player of my generation, Michael Jordan, revealing his hyper competitive nature

A Season on the Brink by John Feinstein – Published in 1986, journalist John Feinstein follows Bobby Knight and the Indiana Hoosiers during the 1985-1986 NCAA basketball season

Elevating the Game by Nelson George – Published in 1992, cultural critic Nelson George traces the history of African Americans in basketball from 1916 to the late 20th century;





Justin Gifford Explores the Crime Fiction of Chester Himes, Iceberg Slim, Donald Goines, and Others in Pimping Fictions

April 1, 2014 Leave a comment

Justin Gifford was nominated this year for an Edgar Award by the Mystery Writers of America for Best Critical/Biographical Book for Pimping Fictions: African American Crime Literature and the Untold Story of Black Pulp Publishing. Interviewing Gifford, who is a Professor of English Literature at the University of Nevada, Reno, is a great follow-up to my interview with Megan Abbott in late 2012 about her book The Street Was Mine, which featured a chapter on Chester Himes.

Growing up in New Orleans in the 1970s, Blaxploitation films were a staple of the movie diet of me and my peers. What I’m interested in are the connections between movies like Coffey, The Mack, and Superfly with the literature of Chester Himes, Iceberg Slim, Donald Goines and the gangsta rappers like NWA, Ice T, Jay Z and the late Notorious BIG.

The interview with Gifford will air April 7 at 8am CST.


A Nation of Pain Focus of March 31 KAZI Book Review

March 30, 2014 Leave a comment

This Monday I’m airing an interview with Judy Foreman, author of A Nation in Pain: Healing our Biggest Health Problem at 8 a.m. CST on KAZI 88.7 FM. If you suffer from chronic pain, you’re not alone. Foreman describes chronic pain as our biggest health problem with 100 million people suffering from it. Foreman, a nationally syndicated medical journalist, shares her own story and those of other sufferers of chronic pain and how difficult it was to get proper treatment. A Nation in Pain provides an expansive view of chronic pain as a public policy issue and a medical crisis with recommendations on how to solve the problems.


Categories: Uncategorized

Review of Conquest by John Connolly and Jennifer Ridyard

March 30, 2014 Leave a comment

By Tim Chamberlain

A veteran novelist and a first-timer come together to create Conquest, a masterful young adult science fiction tale that may just end up being the next big thing.

John Connolly, perhaps best known for his Charlie Parker mystery series, has teamed up with newcomer Jennifer Ridyard to create a YA novel that feels more grown-up than many of its peers. Filled with danger, ethical issues and political intrigue, this is the type of challenging YA novel that should appeal to adults as much as to kids.

The novel is set in a near-future where aliens, the Illyri, have come to Earth as (mostly) benevolent conquerors, but conquerors nonetheless. They have helped us in many ways: clean energy, advanced medical techniques, and better technology all around. However, the Illyri make clear that they are in charge now, sometimes brutally, and this unsurprisingly rubs a lot of humans the wrong way, thus clearing the way for an active human resistance movement.

Humans are the most advanced species the Illyri have attempted to subdue, and this causes the aliens a lot of difficulty. Not only do the humans have a strengthening movement, but many Illyri are having ethical issues with trying to defeat a race that is so similar to themselves. The parallels to American incursions into places like Iraq and Afghanistan are obvious (the Troubles of Northern Ireland are another reference point), and it is refreshing to see such serious and thought-provoking issues in a YA novel, handled so well.

Much of the story follows either Syl, a 16-year-old Illyri, or Paul, a 17-year-old Scot who is part of the resistance. Their interactions serve as a sort of small-scale model of the interactions between the Illyri and the humans as a whole. If the focus had only stayed with these two, Conquest likely would have been nothing special. However, Connolly and Ridyard populate this universe with a fascinating cast of characters, characters that you grow to love or hate over the course of the novel. Their dedication to character development makes Conquest stand out amongst their lesser YA peers.

Conquest is to be the first novel in a series, and it does a good job of setting up both the basic universe of the series and how high the stakes are for everyone involved. Unlike something like the Harry Potter series, there is no slow build up to a deadly climax–things get deadly right away, and the gritty, densely-plotted story sets itself up well for the next installment. Here’s hoping that the powers-that-be have good enough taste to make Conquest the next YA worldwide hit.

Lead Positive: What Highly Effective Leaders See, Say, and Do

March 30, 2014 Leave a comment

When I’m not reading and interviewing authors of crime fiction, history, and biography, I like to read and interview authors on leadership. Kathryn Cramer’s book, Lead Positive, has a special appeal to me because of its emphasis on looking for the positive and the possibilities in negative situations. While a manager can devise a great strategy to handle a crisis, the team still has to be inspired and motivated. I tape my interview with her this morning and hope to air the interview next week. For those of you living in the Austin metro area, I have a free copy of the book to giveaway. Just send me an email at to enter the drawing.


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