October 1, 2009

Review & Giveaway: Beat The Reaper by Josh Bazell

Humans are evil. It's a fact of life that becomes all too true in Dr. Brown's line of work. He is an intern at a horrible hospital.

Pietro is a hard ass hitman who street smarts keep him up and running. His reputation precedes him and no one in their right mind wants to come into contact with this madman.

Nicholas is seeing Dr. Brown and has just been told that he only has a few months left in this life. It's starting to look like Pietro and Nicholas are the same man.

Dr. Brown works hard to keep patients alive while trying to "beat the reaper".

Undeniably thrilling. I'm addicted to doctor and forensic science shows. I've seen and read my share of hospital stories and this book has the best storyline I've seen in a while.

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Reading Group Guide

1. There are many dramatically charged scenes in Beat the Reaper, but the story is also broadly humorous. What was the funniest moment in the novel for you, and why?

2. Near the end of the novel Pietro Brnwa/Peter Brown’s mentor Prof. Marmoset tells him, “Any time you can tell the difference between something you can do something about and something you can’t, you should thank God. Particularly if it turns out to be something you can’t” (page 304). How effectively does Pietro/Peter “tell the difference” throughout the novel? What do you think he’s learned by the story’s conclusion?

3. “As any other American child would, I picked Batman and Charles Bronson in Death Wish as role models” (page 26). In what ways is Pietro’s early life a typical (or atypical) American childhood? Discuss his teenage induction into crime as a way of life.

4. The footnotes that the author uses throughout Beat the Reaper are at times informative, at times humorous, often both. Identify your favorite footnote and explain what you like about it.

5. Early in the novel Dr. Peter Brown observes that “humans hate being mentally strong and physically weak” (page 28). Do you agree? By the story’s end, is it Pietro/Peter’s mental or physical strength that has served him best?

6. Who was your favorite character in Beat the Reaper: Pietro Brnwa/Peter Brown? Skinflick? David Locano? Magdalena? Eddy Squillante? Did you find that your favorite had changed by the end of the novel?

7. Why did Pietro’s trip to Poland in 1994 (chapter 8) become a significant turning point in his life? What surprising discovery about his grandparents did Pietro make on that trip? What did he learn about himself?

8. When Pietro meets Magdalena’s parents for the first time, her father tells him, “You appear to have nothing in common with my daughter at all” (page 173), and yet in many ways Pietro and Magdalena seem a perfect couple. Why do you think they are so well suited to each other?

9. Discuss the character of Skinflick. Ultimately, how does Skinflick influence Pietro Brnwa’s transformation into Peter Brown? How does Magdalena?

10. Beat the Reaper is filled with examples of doctors (and other members of the medical establishment) behaving badly. Name a few such episodes. How unlikely or outrageous do these episodes seem to you? Could there be a kernel of truth in any of them?

11. As a young hit man, Pietro Brnwa took pains to make sure that his victims were “killers whose deaths would improve the world” (page 108). Do you think murder is ever justified? Reconcile your answer with Pietro’s observation that “murdering someone is bad for you. It murders something in yourself, and has all kinds of other consequences you can’t possibly foresee” (page 59).

12. What do you think the future holds for Dr. Peter Brown? Do you think he will quit crime for good, or will he leave medicine and return to his old habits? What would you like to see happen?

Valerie over at Hachette has given me permission to give away 5 copies of this book
Open to residents of the US and Canada
Cannot mail to a P.O. Box
The books will be mailed out by the publisher


Leave all entries in one comment or separate comments:
+1 for commenting
+1 for following this blog
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+5 for sharing this contest -make sure you leave the link in your comments (on your blog, -sidebar counts, Myspace, Facebook, Twitter, etc.) THIS CAN BE DONE ONCE A DAY
+5 for following my other blog freebies4meandu.
+5 for faving me on Technorati (right sidebar)
+1 for friending me on Myspace here.
+1 for friending me on Facebook here.
+1 for connecting with me via Networked Blogs (right sidebar)
+1 for friending me on GoodReads here.
+1 for friending me on Book Blogs here.
+1 for grabbing my button and placing it on your sidebar - leave link or your this entry does not count.
+2 for every meaningful comment you leave on any of my posts - excluding giveaway posts - make sure you come back and leave a comment on the giveaway post you would like to add your entries to
Make sure you check out my posts about extra entries

*Current friends/followers receive the extra points as well - just make sure you remind me in the comments*

**Must leave an email address in comment or must be visible in blogger profile**

Winners will be chosen Oct. 8th and notified via email.

Make a purchase using the icon below, email me the receipt at bjhopper(at)me(dot)com and receive 100 extra entries (per item) into the giveaway of your choice.

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  1. I'd love to win!

    +1 I follow this blog.

    +1 I follow on Twitter.

    +5 Tweet: http://twitter.com/morbidromantic/statuses/4543011847.

    +5 I follow freebies4meandu.

    +5 Faved on Technorati

    +1 Friended on Myspace.

    +1 Friended on Facebook.

    +1 Follow on Networked Blogs.

    +1 Friended on Good Reads.

    +1 Friended on Book Blogs.


  2. Please enter me!

    +1 commenting
    +1 follower
    +1 goodreads friend (squiggles87)


  3. This book is on my must read list so please enter me!

  4. Tweeted here +5

  5. following freebies4meandu +5

  6. Friend on Facebook
    user name is Kathy Detweiler

  7. +1 for connecting via Networked Blogs

  8. +1 for friending you GoodReads
    username is Kathy Detweiler

  9. +1 for friending you on Book Blogs
    User name is Kathy Detweiler

  10. Have your button on my sidebar here

  11. Sounds cool, and a wonderful title! I follow, here and on twitter.

    sdeeth at msn dot com

  12. Please enter me into this giveaway. Suspense is my #1 genre of books. Plus being of Italian descent and a retired RN, I am sure I would thoroughly enjoy this book.
    +1 comment
    +1 follower
    +1 current friend/follower
    subscriber of newsletter

  13. Cool book! Who's read it yet?

    +1 commenting
    +1 facebook friend
    +1 myspace friend


  14. enter me please
    copperllama at yahoo dot com
    +1 I am a follower

  15. +5 I follow your other blog
    copperllama at yahoo dot com
    +1 for already being a follower
    +1 I follow on Twitter

  16. I am an email subscriber and really like to win this book.

    jsrogers at shaw dot ca


  17. Ooh, this sounds good. Please include me.
    +1 I follow.
    +1 I follow with Twitter (darcy1956)
    +1 I'm a GoodReads friend

    dlodden at frontiernet dot net

  18. I'd love to win.

    I follow
    I subscribe by email


  19. I have seen a lot of reviews on this book, and I would really like to read it. Please enter me. Thanks!


  20. I am a follower!


  21. I'd love this book! Please count me in. Thank you!

    +1 I follow

    +1 I follow on Twitter: nfmgirl

    +5 Tweet:

    +1 Friended on Facebook

    +1 Button:

    +1 Blogged:

    nfmgirl AT gmail DOT com

  22. I'd love to win this!

  23. I'm a current follower here

  24. I'm a current freebies4meandu follower

  25. NetworkBlog FB follower

  26. sounds suspenseful...count me in.

    karen k

  27. I follow your blog and the book looks interesting. Thanks


  28. I so would like to read this book.

    Thanks for the possibility.


  29. +1 - I'd love to win this book. Please count me in!
    +1 - I follow
    +5 - I follow freebies4meandu
    +1 - I'm a friend on GoodReads

    Thanks ~ megalon22{at}yahoo{dot}com

  30. please count me in..

    +1 commenting
    +1 follower


  31. I'd love to read this book. Please accept this as my entry. Thank you!

    Aliya D.

  32. Sounds like a great suspense novel,
    I am a google follower,

    cenya2 at hotmail dot com

  33. +1 for connecting with me via Networked Blogs
    +1 for friending me on Facebook
    +1 for grabbing my button
    *Current friends/followers receive the extra points as well - just make sure you remind me in the comments*