Sunday, March 29, 2015

New Releases 3/31/15

Some of the new titles hitting shelves this week are:

The World Before Us by Aislinn Hunter

The Day We Met by Rowan Coleman

Murder Boy by Bryon Quertermous

Girl Underwater by Claire Kells

The Architect's Apprentice by Elif Shafak

At the Water's Edge by Sarah Gruen

The Figaro Murders by Laura Lebow

The Harder They Come by T. C. Boyle

Poison by Sarah Pinborough

Behind Closed Doors by Elizabeth Haynes

Voyage of the Basilisk by Marie Brennan

Little Beach Street Bakery by Jenny Colgan

The Angel Court Affair by Anne Perry

Throne of Darkness by Douglas Nicholas

Normal by Graeme Cameron

The Patriot Threat by Steve Berry

The Strangler Vine by M.J. Carter

The Skull Throne by Peter V. Brett

The Honours by Tim Clare (4/2)

The Wicked Will Rise by Danielle Page

The Cemetery Boys by Heather Brewer

Black Dove, White Raven by Elizabeth Wein

King by Ellen Oh

Sisters of Blood and Spirit by Kady Cross

Solitaire by Alice Oseman

New on DVD:
Interstellar
Rewrite
The Imitation Game
Wild

New Reviews at Bookbitch.com:
The Price of Blood by Patricia Bracewell
Shadow on the Crown by Patricia Bracewell

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Pre Pub Book Buzz: The Fold by Peter Clines

I consider our house a pretty big Peter Clines fan base. Both my husband and I read him (and my husband is reading this one as we speak - didn't even let me have a chance at it! Watch for my review closer to release date.)

The Fold is a break from Clines's super fabulous super heroes vs zombies series, but sounds equally wonderful and is in my reading plans as soon as I can tear it away from hubs. Here's a bit about the book from Goodreads:

The folks in Mike Erikson's small New England town would say he's just your average, everyday guy. And that's just how Mike likes it. Sure, the life he's chosen may not be much of a challenge to someone with his unique gifts, but Mike is content with his quiet and peaceful existence. 

That is, until an old government friend presents him with an irresistible mystery--one that Mike is uniquely qualified to solve: it seems that a team of DARPA scientists has invented a device that could make teleportation a reality. But something is very wrong with the project. The personalities of the scientists who work on it are changing. People are dying. And reality itself seems to be...warping. 

Mike soon learns that the machine is not at all what it appears to be--and that its creators may have opened a doorway to something horrible that lurks just outside our world's borders.

(Funnily enough there's both a Mike and a Becky in this book!)

The Fold is due out from Crown in June.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Something Red by Douglas Nicholas + a Giveaway

Hob has only been traveling with Molly and her caravan for a short time now, so many of the stops on their regular trek through England are new to him: the St. Germaine Monastery, for example, where the monks have made it their business to protect travelers, and Osbert's Inn, a welcome respite for weary pilgrims. Bandits target the road beyond and Molly has trained her people well in the event of an attack, but something worse than bandits is on their trail this time.

Hob felt it on the road outside the monastery. He felt it again before they were safely behind the walls at Osbert's Inn. It's an evil that thirsts for blood. A presence that weighs heavy on those sensitive enough to feel it coming. And it's hunting Hob and his new family.

Something Red is a deliciously atmospheric debut. It's quite dense, packed with detail and imagery, and much of the dialog works best sounded out as the author employs an almost old English approach (NOT Old English, but as if it's meant to be and still readily readable). But in spite of that, it does read rather more quickly than I'd expected, in part because of my own anticipation about what was coming and in part because it's the kind of tale that does grab hold and drag you along as Hob's group progress in their travels.

The story is set in a bone-chilling winter during the thirteenth century. Molly, or Queen Maeve, is an Irish exile who makes her way through England trading in remedies and music. Hob, an orphan, was discovered at priest house, having been taken in by an aging man of the cloth. Though Molly has yet to explain why she convinced the priest to relinquish the boy into her care, Hob is grateful and has learned much in the year and a half he's traveled with them. At just thirteen years of age, he's proven himself to be a good addition to their group. Also traveling with Molly are Jack Brown, a former crusader and her sometime lover, and her niece, Nemain.

Do be warned, it does take a while for something beyond looks and feelings to happen but the ride along the way is quite fun. This is the first in a trilogy, with the third installment due out Tuesday (March 31). There's a lot of character development but the reader is still left with questions about Molly/Maeve, Nemain, and Hob, particularly with respect to Molly's exile and her powers.

Something Red stands on its own - there's no crazy cliffhanger, but these characters are the kind you won't want to leave for long.

Rating: 4/5

And now for the giveaway! With the trilogy rounding out so soon, I'll be binging on the series myself. I though I would share the love and give away a copy of this first book to one of you lucky readers. To enter simply fill out the Rafflecopter below before Monday, April 13. US only please.

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Thursday, March 26, 2015

Persona by Genevieve Valentine

Suyana Sapaki is the Face of the United Amazonian Rainforest Confederation. She was tapped as a teen and trained to represent the UARC in the International Assembly. But this doesn't mean that Suyana has any semblance of power or influence, and the IA makes sure its Faces know this. No, Suyana is expected to attend events, chair committees when asked, and express only the opinions and votes set forth for her. But when Suyana finds herself at the center of an assassination attempt, she has to wonder if someone has discovered her deepest secret. 

Genevieve Valentine is a smart author and it shows in Persona. The intricate layering of this world, which is much like our own - with a few key... exaggerations so to speak (some cynics would argue she's spot on with our own political system), takes some time to ease into. The political manipulations become clearer as the story progresses, thankfully. At the start I was more than a little confused about exactly how this was all playing out, trying to figure out the nature of the IA and the Faces to begin with.

In this world, politics are done behind the scenes. Faces like Suyana are meant to be seen, literally. They're contracted for everything from public appearances to relationships - a bit like endorsements but for every aspect of their lives. And yet, Suyana has managed to keep some pieces of her life personal. And it's this little secret that could be the reason someone wants her dead.

The attempt is witnessed by Daniel Park, a paparazzo (a Snap). Publicity and photos of Faces are also controlled by the IA, so Daniel's freelancing would be greatly frowned upon (and he's gotten in trouble with the IA before, as we soon learn). But when he ends up being the only person Suyana can count on he knows he can't tell her what he was doing at the scene.

There are so many potential plots against, for, or even by Suyana and Daniel that it's impossible not to become swept up in their story. And the clues Valentine sets along the way to key you into the world fit well within the story as they're placed, both avoiding any icky info dump as well as hang ups in the plot. A win, win all around.

Rating: 4/5

Guest Post by Genevieve Valentine

If you follow the blog then you know that Genevieve Valentine's Persona has been pretty high up on my must have list. It was one of the launch titles for Simon and Schuster's new Saga Press and just the third full-length novel from Valentine, whose work I actually discovered first via various short story collections. Her prose blows me away and I highly recommend her work to anyone looking for something completely unique in genre fiction. (You can check out my review of Persona here on the blog later this afternoon.)

Today we're lucky enough to have Genevieve herself posting to the blog and without further ado I'll hand things over to her:

Persona and Paparazzi

The first time I got hit by a bike in New York, it was the usual way – by bike messenger – and I was prepared to deliver the usual rejoinder – several rounds of enthusiastic swearing and a vague arm shake to wrap it up. 

But I realized as the guy tried to disentangle himself that he hadn't gotten caught off-guard: he'd been pushed. There were three photographers rushing each other, all khaki shorts and elbows, taking pictures of someone who was walking down the street slightly ahead of me. I took two steps backwards, instinctively not wanting to be in any of those shots; everybody in New York knows paparazzi are inevitable bad news; the comparisons to roaches aren't just because they're hard to get rid of, but because even the city's fanciest neighborhoods can't shake them. 

This time they were out for Peter Dinklage, who was walking down the street. (That's it; he was walking down the street. I saw some of him, later, carrying his child as if to lift him from a flood.) Maybe six, maybe eight. And as I stepped back and flinched in sympathy with Dinklage, who did not look pleased but looked equally determined not to make a good story by reacting, I thought about Daniel Radcliffe, who had recently been vocal in interviews about how unsettling it was that he hadn't seen any particular uptick in paparazzi presence when he turned eighteen, but Emma Watson had had to fight off her first upskirt shots on her eighteenth birthday, the second it was legal. 

These photographers didn't do the usual calling – I didn't know if that was some New York law, as if it's more protective of one's privacy so long as it's quiet – but somehow it was just as unsettling to watch a cluster of men shoving at one another in utterly focused silence, as a man tried to walk down the street.

The snaps in Persona, of course, are not nearly this bad. Partially this is out of plot necessities; what they're doing is technically illegal, and though everyone suspects that some press are selling candid shots on the sly, actually belonging to a snap organization is clearly a clandestine business, and so Daniel works hard not to be seen – and then, when he's too decent to help himself, at least tries hard not to be made. Partially, this is because snaps operate in a moral gray area rather than a purely celebrity wheel; while spying on public figures is still fairly creepy, the implication is that it's a more noble profession than it may seem – the regular press is more or less in the pockets of their publishers, so snaps are as close as the public comes to transparency, and every so often, important stories are broken via snap photographs. (It's definitely a clear and present danger for the delegation that runs him out of the country simply for taking a candid shot, even without ulterior motive.) And partially, snaps are a more discreet version of celebrity photographers because to recreate the paparazzi as I've seen them in person – both here, and since – would end up more like than any other sort of thriller.

There's also a deliberate divide in Persona between the seething public friendships of the diplomatic Faces, and the snaps who have a much more easy and open inner circle – largely because it's hard to have secrets when you're recording 24/7. But there's also the weird thrill of the thing: at most, they think they're able to mete out some semblance of justice when it matters; at worst, they're exposing only those Faces who don't have the skill to avoid surveillance (which is fair enough, in its own way, since plenty of Faces fly under the radar).

Celebrities have begun to speak more openly in recent years about paparazzi; Kristen Bell has fought for a "no kids" policy in major magazines to prevent publication of paparazzi photos of celebrities' children, and actors like Keira Knightley have spoken about the often violent tactics that can be used (she's been spat on and called a whore, among other things, in hope of eliciting a response). For now, I'm happy to keep my fictional paparazzi a slightly more subtle kind.

Image Courtesy of Ellen B. Wright
About the author: Genevieve Valentine is the author of Persona and of the critically acclaimed novels The Girls at the Kingfisher Club and Mechanique: A Tale of the Circus Tresaulti, which won the Crawford Award for Best Novel, as well as nominations for the Nebula Award and the Romantic Times Best Fantasy of the Year. 

Valentine is also the writer of DC’s CATWOMAN and her short fiction has appeared in Clarkesworld, Strange Horizons, Journal of Mythic Arts, Lightspeed, and the anthologies Federations, The Living Dead 2, After, Teeth, and more; stories have been nominated for the World Fantasy Award and the Shirley Jackson Award, and have appeared in several Best of the Year anthologies. 

Her nonfiction and reviews have appeared at NPR.org, The AV Club, Strange Horizons, io9.com, Lightspeed, Weird Tales, Tor.com, LA Review of Books, Fantasy Magazine, and Interfictions, and she is a co-author of pop-culture book Geek Wisdom. She lives in New York City.

Big thanks to Genevieve for being here today and thanks to the folks at Wunderkind for arranging the post!

Persona is out on shelves now. For more on Genevieve and her work (including links to online shorts) you can check out her website here. You can also follow her on Twitter.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

The Godforsaken Daughter by Christina McKenna

Hi, everyone! Today I'm a stop on the TLC book tour for Christina McKenna's The Godforsaken Daughter. This is the third book in her Tailorstown series but no worries, it can be read all on its own.

It's been seven months since his death but Ruby Clare still mourns the loss of her beloved father. The two were close, sharing a love of the land and a bond that no one else in the family could understand. Since his death, Ruby's mother has leased off the land and forcing her to give up farming for good. And while her two sisters work in Belfast during the week, Ruby stays home to keep house and care for their mother. With daily criticism from her mother and weekends spent terrorized by her sisters, Ruby has never been more morose. 

Then Ruby discovers an old case belonging to her paternal grandmother. It appears in her own grief, Ruby's grandmother turned to the ancient Goddess Dana for solace. In her, Ruby too finds comfort and the promise of change. But when Ruby's mother catches wind of it, she begins to threaten her daughter with exorcisms and a trip to the local asylum! 

Enter Doctor Henry Shevlin. Henry is new to the area, working as temporary psychiatrist while the town's actual doctor is away on research. And even with his own woes hanging heavy, Henry can offer a voice of reason and support for people like Ruby. 

I really enjoyed this read from McKenna. It's set in the early 80s, amidst the IRA bombings and threats of the era and while this isn't a HUGE part of the plot, it does play into it to a good extent. And really there are two main stories here: that of Ruby Clare and her family and that of Henry Shevlin.

Ruby's tale is the main focus of the book. She's a bit downtrodden, understandable given her situation. Her mother has never really shown any affection for her and even her mother's friends are incredibly critical of the girl. Living in a small town where gossip is gold makes things even worse. McKenna does a fabulous job with the characters that dwell in and around Tailorstown. From the local priest to the post mistress and even the town sheriff, each character - no matter how small or how infrequently seen - is rich in detail. And like any town, some of them are nice and some of them are a little nasty.

Henry Shevlin's story is quite interesting as well. It's through him that we get more of the political climate of the time. It's a bit of a shame really that his story is kind of pushed to the side in lieu of Ruby's tale. It would seem that Henry and his wife might be deserving of their own book, to be quite honest. And this is really The Godforsaken Daughter's only big downfall. I felt like Shevlin's story was too big to be a secondary story.

If you enjoy small town settings and family drama (and this family is full of drama) you'll like The Godforsaken Daughter. As I mentioned above, it is the third book set in the Tailorstown but it's not at all necessary to have read either of the previous books.

Rating: 3/5

To see more stops on the tour be sure to check out the official TLC tour page here.


Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Mystery Writers of America Cookbook: Wickedly Good Meals and Desserts to Die For ed by Kate White + a Giveaway

Happy book birthday to the Mystery Writers of America! Today marks the release of their brand-spanking-new cookbook.

I'm an admitted cookbook fiend as well as a book junkie, so marrying the two worlds is always wonderfully welcome in my house. Given that, the new Mystery Writers of America Cookbook was a must have as soon as I heard about its release. Not only have a ton of my own favorite authors taken part, submitting family recipes or dishes connected to their famous lead characters - Alafair Burke offers up "Ellie Hatcher's Rum-Soaked Nutella French Toast" and Harlan Coben shares "Myron's Crabmeat Dip" - , there are a bunch of new-to-me authors who have now tempted me to try their dishes and books as well - Leslie Budewitz's "Farfalle with Fennel and Pine Nuts" got flagged for dinner plans as soon as the book arrived as did S. J. Rozan's "Rancho Obsesso Lavender Beets." Both of their books are on the "must read" list now too.

The book also prompted me to do a little reading/cooking pairing. Frankie Y. Bailey's Red Queen Dies is at the top of my TBR and I feel I absolutely must bake her "Whole Wheat Wild Blueberry Lemon Pecan Muffins" to go with it! I also mentioned recently that while reading Laura Lippman's latest, post vacation, I tried her "Aunt Effie's Salmon Ball." I have that recipe here to share with you, just to give you a taste of what's inside:

LAURA LIPPMAN 

Aunt Effie’s Salmon Ball 

My Aunt Effie—actually my great aunt—was a Capital-C Character, an old-fashioned steel magnolia with a hearty laugh and the first person who ever assured me I was funny. Also, maybe the last. Aunt Effie was the middle of three girls, brought up in an all-female household in Smalltown, Georgia, my great-grandmother having been widowed at a relatively young age. Aunt Effie herself was widowed twice and she learned to take care of herself, ending up in another all-female household with her daughter and granddaughter. Well, there was a poodle name John, but they painted his toenails, poor thing. 

On top of everything else, she was a terrific hostess, and two of my favorite recipes come from her: cheese straws and a so-called Salmon Ball, although I despaired years ago of ever learning how to roll this concoction in slivered almonds, so I just mix it up and put it in a small dish. In fact, it makes a great hostess gift. It’s really simple and everyone loves it. Not quite a health food, but you can substitute low- fat cream cheese for the hardcore stuff. 

Because my household is peripatetic, I often find myself in a different city than the one where I keep all my family recipes. But my Aunt Effie’s salmon ball is very forgiving, which is one reason I like to make it. 

Image courtesy of Steve Legato
YIELD: 8–10 SERVINGS 

1 teaspoon dried minced onions (available in the spice aisle) 
1 tablespoon lemon juice 
1 large can salmon, around 15 ounces 
8 ounces cream cheese 
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce 
1 teaspoon prepared horseradish 
1 teaspoon liquid smoke— if you can find it 
Slivered almonds (optional) 
Chopped parsley (optional) 

1. Soak dried minced onions in lemon juice for 5 minutes. 

2. Meanwhile, drain salmon and mix thoroughly with cream cheese. 

3. Add lemon juice and onions to salmon mixture, along with Worcester- shire, horseradish, and liquid smoke. You can add more or less according to your taste. 

4. If you are nimble and wildly ambitious, you can form the mixture into a ball and roll it in slivered almonds and parsley. Frankly, I started omitting that step years ago because I could never get it to look right, although I suspect it might work better if you slightly chill the salmon mixture first. Me, I just put it in a nice piece of crockery and refrigerate for several hours. Serve with crackers; it also pairs well with a dry martini or the cocktail of your choice. Eat the leftovers on bagels. 

Laura Lippman is an award-winning crime writer who has written ninenteen books, the most recent of which is the New York Times best seller After I’m Gone. She lives in Baltimore and New Orleans. 

Excerpted from The Mystery Writers of America Cookbook edited by Kate White. Reprinted with permission from Quirk Books. 

And now for the giveaway! Thanks to the publisher I have not one but TWO copies of The Mystery Writers of America Cookbook to give away today. To enter simply fill out the Rafflecopter below before Monday, April 6. US only.

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