Tag Archives: The Inner Circle

Meeting Author Brad Meltzer

16 Jul

A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of meeting author Brad Meltzer. He was in town doing a book tour for his latest title, The President’s Shadow. Meltzer’s first book in this series, The Inner Circle, had been chosen as the Everyone’s Reading title for our area. You can read my book review and book club reflections of that book.

Image via Lisa (click for more)

Image via Lisa (click for more)

Meltzer was a great speaker. I was really blown away. I didn’t really know what to expect from him, but I guess I should have reasoned that someone who hosts two television shows would be a good speaker. He has some very strong ties to Michigan, namely that he is a University of Michigan graduate and a very proud alumnus. Every year for his birthday, he teaches a class to pass on the knowledge he gained when he attended there. He told the story about picking UofM because he had a friend with an old ‘Michigan’ t-shirt that he loved and it got him to look into the school. His first book was about Michigan and while that one landed in the ‘reject’ pile, he works a Michigan reference into all of his books. In The Inner Circle, I think the President was a Michigander.

IMG_1959

Me and Brad Meltzer.

Brad was asked about what kind of books he likes to read. He said that he doesn’t read a lot of thrillers. Because he’s so involved in the structure of them in his own writing, he tends to figure out the red herrings and can guess at the ending before he’s supposed to and it ruins it for him. Instead, he reads a lot of Young Adult books and comics. I should add that in addition to thrillers, Meltzer is known for his children’s books and writes comic books. He said that Neil Gaiman is his favorite author.

IMG_1962Before I had to chance to, someone asked him about his writing process. He said that he handwrites his outline before he starts. I would think that as a thriller writer, you need to know the ending when you begin. Though Brad is the first thriller writer I’ve met so I can’t say this is a trend. Then he’ll outline 50-100 pages in more detail and write those chunks. This reminds me a bit of the Snowflake Method that I’ve visited in a few posts before. (If you’re interested, search my ‘Library Writers Group’ posts.) Being a UofM grad, a lot of his friends were able to come to the event. One in particular Meltzer recognized and made him stand. The man was a doctor. Whenever Meltzer is working on a murder scene or has a question about human anatomy or illness, he calls this friend. I think friends like this are an invaluable resource for writers!

IMG_1961After waiting in line over an hour to meet him, I got my two minutes with Meltzer. I asked him the question I ask all authors. “I want to be where you are. What advice would you give me to get there?” His answer: “Don’t stop.” I don’t plan on it, Mr. Meltzer. No time soon.

There are a few more pictures below. Enjoy! Meltzer’s current book tour is over, but you can vote on his site for your hometown to ask him to visit. Maybe he’ll stop in!

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on Goodreads, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

Book Club Reflection: The Inner Circle by Brad Meltzer

4 Jun

Brad Meltzer’s book The Inner Circle was chosen as the ‘Everyone’s Reading’ selection for 2015. This is a program the libraries in my area work to put together that usually culminates in the author coming to speak in the area. Previously, it was Chris Bohjalian. This year, Meltzer will be speaking in the area on June 22nd. But before he comes to speak, my book clubs usually read one or more of his books. Unfortunately, the meeting for The Inner Circle was moved forward a week and attendance suffered. We’re not sure if it was because of the book or the changed date, but the meeting was only me and one other woman. So here are our musings.

There were questions posted by the local libraries that helped our discussion, but we didn’t find that this genre led to a lot of discussion. It’s entertaining for sure, but not particularly thought-provoking.

The other woman at our discussion did some research on Meltzer. He said that Mr. Rodgers (the television personality) thought him that each person is special and not to let anyone tell him no when he set his mind to something. He also said that the teacher who told him he could write well is his hero. As the wife of an English teacher, this makes me happy.

Meltzer is called to Washington regularly to advise on potential terrorist threats and how the US can prepare itself to fight these. This is where he got his idea to write political thrillers. This book, in particular, was inspired by something George W. Bush whispered in his ear about how hard it is to keep secrets in the White House.

He says that his books have a recurring theme of the fallout from daily choices. We didn’t really see that in this book. Beecher was pressured into covering up the book, it wasn’t a daily choice. He chooses to meet Clementine, but that seemed like a coercion by the end of the book as well. I don’t think this theme was well brought out.

I’ve been to DC before and I never would have thought to go to the Archives to look up anything for myself. I saw the Constitution and called it a day. It sounds fun, but I’m not sure what I would look up!

One of the style choices Meltzer utilized was switching between present and past tense. Chapters narrated by Beecher were written in present tense while those narrated by other characters were in the past tense. I didn’t consciously notice this while reading, but I did feel it was jerky to switch between narrators and I believe this could be the reason. My fellow book-clubber didn’t notice the switches. She listened to the book on audio while following along in a physical copy and wonders if that might have been part of the reason.

We both liked the short chapter style. We think it helped us read the book faster because we got into the ‘One more chapter’ mode. I liked having a lot of places to stop that weren’t in the middle of a chapter.

We both liked Clementine when she was introduced. We believed her story and wanted her to find some closure and happiness. When she turned into a bad character, we were really disappointed. I felt really manipulated by her. At that point in the book, everything was turning out to be ‘not how it first seemed’ and, to be honest, I was getting a bit sick of it. Clementine was the icing on the cake.

We were surprised Tot ended up being a good guy. He seemed a bit suspect at times and I didn’t like that Beecher decided not to trust him when he was told by someone he didn’t necessarily trust to stop talking to him. I don’t see Tot being a major character in the remaining books, but I’m glad he was a part of this one.

It was hard to know what to think of Dallas. He seemed like a slimy character but in the end, we felt sorry for him. It was almost comical that he’d had the wool pulled over his eyes by the President’s inner circle to think he was part of the Culper Ring. I wanted to feel sorry for him because he did seem to have good intentions, but his ignorance made me think he was stupid. I’m still kind of indifferent to him.

Beecher was a hard protagonist to like. He acted very stupidly at times for someone who was also very intelligent. He was sucked in by a beautiful woman quickly. He trusted everyone to a fault. Our questions asked us if he reminded us of Indiana Jones. We didn’t feel that way because Indy was very action-oriented in how he solved historical mysteries while Beecher’s plot was advanced more intellectually. He reminded me more of Dan Brown’s Robert Langdon from the Angles and Demons series.

This is the first book in a series so we speculated what would happen in the sequels (I have the second but don’t know how long it will be until I read it). How will Beecher and the Culper Ring find Clementine in Canada and what would they do when they find her? We think that would be the bulk of the story, but I’m not really interested in that story. I’m more interested in Minnie because I disliked her. I don’t know how involved the President will be in future novels because he doesn’t have a secret, only his sister does. But he seems determined to protect it. The other woman who joined me said that this reminds her of the TV series Scandal which I’ve never seen. She says there’s a big secret with his wife and father and the no-good things they get up to.

Hopefully, more people show up to our next meeting. I like discussing with a group more!

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on Goodreads, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

WWW Wednesday, 27-May-2015

27 May

Welcome to WWW Wednesday! This meme was formerly hosted by MizB at Should be Reading and revived here on Taking on a World of Words. Just answer the three questions below and leave a link to your post in the comments for others to look at. No blog? No problem! Just leave a comment with your responses. Please, take some time to visit the other participants and see what others are reading. So, let’s get to it!

IMG_1384-0

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?


BohemiansCurrently reading:  No movement with La Sombra del Viento by Carlos Ruiz Zafon. I really want to work on this one over the summer so I’ll be getting to it in the next few months.
Good progress with A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin. I’m not sure how far I am into it because the format I’m using isn’t very conducive to figuring that out. I guess it will end at some point?
I hope to finish The Girls at the Kingfisher Club by Genevieve Valentine soon. I’m listening to it while I cook which will be more this week because my triathlon is over and I don’t have to worry about training for a bit.
I’m still a bit skeptical of Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell. So far, it’s interesting but not anything special for me. Reviews I’ve looked at said to wait until you pass the first section because then it becomes amazing. We shall see
I’m making steady progress with The Bohemians by Ben Tarnoff. It’s a bit dry, but it’s a historical narrative so that’s to be expected. I hope to finish it soon and move back to some fiction. Also, the author favorited my #FF tweet, so that was awesome!

Recently finished: After finishing two last week, I’m not surprised I didn’t finish anything. I did get to a review for The Inner Circle by Brad Meltzer so go check that out when  you have time.

WidowReading Next: Still planning on it being A Widow for One Year by John Irving. I hope to get it soon and read it second so I’m not the last of our group to read it this time!


Leave a comment with your link and a comment (if you’re so inclined). Take a look at the other participant links in the comments and look at what others are reading.

Have any opinions on these choices?

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

Book Review: The Inner Circle by Brad Meltzer (3/5)

25 May

I’m not big on thrillers. I find the characters unbelievably lucky and the premise unbelievable. So yes, I went into this book skeptically. And yes, that has affected my rating. But I always enjoy the ride and this was no exception. Things are never how they seem in a thriller. When this was chosen as our book club selection I thought it seemed like an odd choice. I learned that Meltzer is coming to speak in the area in June. I’ve got tickets to go with my mom. So expect a few more posts about him and his work.

Cover Image via Goodreads.com

Cover Image via Goodreads.com

The Inner Circle by Brad Meltzer

Summary from Goodreads:

Beecher White, a young archivist, spends his days working with the most important documents of the U.S. government. He has always been the keeper of other people’s stories, never a part of the story himself…

Until now.

When Clementine Kaye, Beecher’s first childhood crush, shows up at the National Archives asking for his help tracking down her long-lost father, Beecher tries to impress her by showing her the secret vault where the President of the United States privately reviews classified documents. After they accidentally happen upon a priceless artifact – a 200 hundred-year-old dictionary that once belonged to George Washington, hidden underneath a desk chair, Beecher and Clementine find themselves suddenly entangled in a web of deception, conspiracy, and murder.

Soon a man is dead, and Beecher is on the run as he races to learn the truth behind this mysterious national treasure. His search will lead him to discover a coded and ingenious puzzle that conceals a disturbing secret from the founding of our nation. It is a secret, Beecher soon discovers, that some believe is worth killing for.

I wasn’t aware that this was the first in a series until the end and I wish I’d known that because I would have been ready for the ending. It wouldn’t have seemed so abrupt. But oh well. Like I expected it was a fun ride but not the kind of book I really enjoy. The characters were incredibly smart and the premise seemed a bit twisted from the beginning. Everyone seemed really lucky (well, except Dallas) and managed to escape awful situations unscathed. It reminded me of Dan Brown’s Robert Langdon series and how surreal those seemed. I guess you could say I was very ‘meh’ about this one.

Some of the characters were believable. Strangely, I thought Nico was very believable. I thought Meltzer did a good job writing someone who was mentally ill and explaining their obsessions and thought processes. I thought Beecher was pretty credible, but he was very trusting in things that seemed outrageous. As someone whose job is grounded in facts, this seemed a bit out of character. I thought the rest of the characters seemed, well, right out of an adventure novel. That is to say, I didn’t believe there could be people like them. It’s so removed from my life that I couldn’t picture it. Thus my problem with this genre as a whole.

I don’t normally like the protagonist, but, in this case, I think Beecher was my favorite character. I liked figuring things out with him even though I was allowed to jump into other people’s heads for a bit at a time. It’s probably because he was the most realistic character, as I described above. I think I would have been more upfront about my involvement in the beginning, but other than that I understood his motivations.

Part of what makes me dislike thrillers is that my life is so different from the characters. I can’t imagine finding out my father tried to kill the president. I can’t see myself trying to track down the secret the President has been protecting for 26 years. It’s so far from my life and it makes me disinterested.

Brad Meltzer Image via the author's Twitter page

Brad Meltzer
Image via the author’s Twitter page

I liked learning the truth about Minnie. If you haven’t read this book, this is a huge spoiler. Skip the rest of this paragraph. I liked learning that she isn’t the meek person she’s presented as in the beginning and learning how the relationship between her and the President is so strong and deep made me happy. I almost liked that she stood up for herself, but at the same time I stopped trusting her as a character. She invoked the most complex reactions in me and I liked that about her character.

I didn’t like the ending. Again, spoiler here so skip ahead. Finding out that Beecher’s father might be alive was too much for me. The book started off as a fun story where the President has a spy ring. Now we’re talking about a secret military experiment that’s been going on for years and years. It was a turn I wasn’t anticipating and it seemed a bit extreme for me. I’m not tempted to read the sequels because I think I’d be disappointed in the premise after reading this book.

Another thing I find disappointing about thrillers is that they seem to lack a theme much of the time. I would say the strongest themes in this book were both not to trust anyone and to trust in those who you’ve trusted for a long time. Maybe it’s best to say every man is out for himself and if you do have to trust someone, do so with caution.

Writer’s Takeaway: I liked Meltzer’s use of short chapters. This is one thing I really like about thrillers. Yes, it keeps me going from one chapter to the next quickly, but it also allows me a lot of stopping points. I like the short chapters because if there’s a character I don’t like, I’m not stuck with him for a long time. I think it works well for the modern short attention span. My writing tends to have slightly longer chapters than Meltzer writes, but I’m a fan of this style.

Overall, fun and a quick read, but not a genre I enjoy. Three out of Five stars.

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

Related Posts:
A Review of The Inner Circle by Brad Meltzer |Bill’s Book Reviews
Book Review – The Inner Circle by Brad Meltzer | Tim Busbey

WWW Wednesday, 13-May-2015

13 May

Welcome to WWW Wednesday! This meme was formerly hosted by MizB at Should be Reading and revived here on Taking on a World of Words. Just answer the three questions below and leave a link to your post in the comments for others to look at. No blog? No problem! Just leave a comment with your responses. Please, take some time to visit the other participants and see what others are reading. So, let’s get to it!

IMG_1384-0

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?


KnoxCurrently reading:  I was able to read just a little bit of La Sombra del Viento by Carlos Ruiz Zafon. Right now, it’s looking like I’ll have time for it more this summer but not much before then. Stay tuned.
Still going with A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin. It’s good and I like it, but I’m not going to be moving very quickly through it.
I’m enjoying The Girls at the Kingfisher Club by Genevieve Valentine. I’ve gotten to the part that’s more of a story line and less of a generic flashback/back story. I like this a lot more.
I’m really enjoying my eBook, Waiting to be Heard: A Memoir by Amanda Knox. It feels good to be reading a memoir again and this one is really riveting.
My newest book club selection is The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman. It’s a nice short one I hope I can knock out in one week!

InnerRecently finished: I flew through my latest book club selection, The Inner Circle by Brad Meltzer. I enjoyed the fast-paced thriller even though it’s not normally my genre. I did find it a bit far-fetched, which is normally my complaint. Review coming soon.

I wore a review for The White Tiger that posted Monday. I’d been talking about this book for a long time and a lot of you asked about it so click over there to see my thoughts.

BohemiansReading Next: Next Monday I’ll get a copy of The Bohemians by Ben Tarnoff. It’s our bi-annual non-fiction which I tend to either love or hate. We’ll see.


Leave a comment with your link and a comment (if you’re so inclined). Take a look at the other participant links in the comments and look at what others are reading.

Have any opinions on these choices?

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

WWW Wednesday, 6-May-2015

6 May

Welcome to WWW Wednesday! This meme was formerly hosted by MizB at Should be Reading and revived here on Taking on a World of Words. Just answer the three questions below and leave a link to your post in the comments for others to look at. No blog? No problem! Just leave a comment with your responses. Please, take some time to visit the other participants and see what others are reading. So, let’s get to it!

IMG_1384-0

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?


KingfisherCurrently reading:  No movement with La Sombra del Viento by Carlos Ruiz Zafon. I’m hoping to get back to it really soon, though. I’ve sped through a few books so have some time to read this between book club selections.
Still going with A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin. I’m liking it so far. I hope the story lines start to cross more because they seem a bit disjointed.
I’m enjoying The Girls at the Kingfisher Club by Genevieve Valentine. It’s pretty great and I’m sad that it’s only 8 hours.
I began a new book club selection, The Inner Circle by Brad Meltzer. The author is going to be in town soon to speak so there will be a few more posts on this book and this author. Stay tuned!
I just grabbed a new eBook, Waiting to be Heard: A Memoir by Amanda Knox. I haven’t read a memoir in a while and the Amanda Knox story sounds like a really good one!

White TigerRecently finished: I finished The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga. I didn’t expect to like it too much, but I did enjoy it. My book club discussion will hopefully be tomorrow and I’ll get to see what the other ladies though.
I also finished Left Behind by Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins which was my ebook for the past few months. It was very different from what I normally read and I liked the story but wasn’t a fan of the characters. I’m looking forward to writing a review on it and sorting out my feelings on it.

OceanReading Next: Nothing immediate, especially because I hope to work on ‘Sombra.’ In a few weeks, I’ll be getting a copy of The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman for book club. I’m excited to read my first solo Gaiman work. The only other one of his I’ve read was Good Omens, co-written with Terry Pratchett.


Leave a comment with your link and a comment (if you’re so inclined). Take a look at the other participant links in the comments and look at what others are reading.

Have any opinions on these choices?

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!