Saturday, May 31, 2008

It's Finally Time

I read on a schedule - sort-of. I didn't always. Inevitably, I would spend hours (literally) staring at my selection of unread books trying to decide what I was in the mood for and what I really wanted to read next. It kinda blew. Think about it, I wasted precious reading time staring blankly ahead trying to determine just what my reading mood was - this usually meant that I just didn't have what I was in the mood for and sometimes prompted emergency book shopping.

My problem now is when I have a book that I am really looking forward to that I can't read just yet. The title in question will sit there, smugly staring at me from my review shelf, teasing me Meg Gardiner's US debut, The Dirty Secrets Club, is one of those. Hell, she got Stephen King's endorsement, and that's more than enough for me! I picked this up when High Crimes was closing down, btw, and I am sorely tempted, even though I haven't read this one just yet, to order in UK paperbacks of her other books, even though they're being released stateside starting this month - yeah, it's an addiction.

Anyway, I am about to tackle what I hope is an amazing thriller (would've started last night but for the achy tetanus shot arm and the Advil PM I took to zonk me out!). Here's the description from Amazon (book is available for pre-order now, release date June 12, look for my review at www.bookbitch.com next weekend).

An ongoing string of high-profile and very public murder-suicides has San Francisco even more rattled than a string of recent earthquakes: A flamboyant fashion designer burns to death, clutching the body of his murdered lover. A superstar 49er jumps off the Golden Gate Bridge. And most shocking of all, a U.S. attorney launches her BMW off a highway overpass, killing herself and three others.

Enter forensic psychiatrist Jo Beckett, hired by the SFPD to cut open not the victim’s body but the victim’s life. Jo’s job is to complete the psychological autopsy, shedding light on the circumstances of any equivocal death. Soon she makes a shocking discovery: All the suicides belonged to something called the Dirty Secrets Club, a group of A-listers with nothing but money and plenty to hide. As the deaths continue, Jo delves into the disturbing motives behind this shadowy group—until she receives a letter containing a dark secret Jo thought she’d left deep in her past, and ending with the most chilling words of all: “Welcome to the Dirty Secrets Club.”

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Having a Bobbie Faye Day

I had plans for today. Really, I did. It turns out the day had other plans for me and they were kind of disastrous. For those of you who have had the pleasure of reading Toni McGee Causey's Bobbie Faye books, you'll know that my day is really nothing compared to that, but it was still up there as far as bad days go.

So, my day began with me arguing semantics with the CO DMV office. See, their website says one thing and apparently it's completely wrong. I was prepared for some arguing and, so, printed out the directions from their page. It didn't do me any good. 

After my adventures in the world of ineptitude that is the CO government, I returned home with some french fry therapy - yeah, trying to diet and then hitting the battered fries is not such a hot idea after the four shooters I had last night - having some stressful days lately. And, the bitchy girl on TOP CHEF makes for a great shots game!

Anyway, recovered from fry therapy with some Bobbie Faye therapy and began reading Bobbie Faye's Kinda Sorta Not Really Family Jewels. I should have stuck with it 'cause it was doing me some real good. I thought I would take a brief break, however, and do some yard work before walking our poor neglected pooch. Unfortunately, I was maimed by one of our lawn implements and had to call a friend to take me to get a thorough cleaning and tetanus shot - yes, I now know shoes are always required. 

Toe safely ensconced in layers of gauze and arm nicely sore from the shot, I returned home to find 27 Dresses finally on OnDemand and since the other is in NYC and my pride was hurt, I figured it was about damn time!

And now I will return to the misadventures of my fellow Lake Chuck chick - it will require a one-legged bath, but I will prevail!

If you haven't yet read Toni McGee Causey, I highly recommend them, even if you aren't having as bad a day as I am. Everyone could use some Bobbie Faye therapy! Oh, and Toni does for south Louisiana, and my hometown, what Janet E. does for the garden state. Bobbie Faye is one rockin' chick! Here's a bit to whet your whistle (my review of last year's Bobbie Fayes Very, Very, Very, Very Bad Day:

Today, Bobbie Faye was supposed to be presiding over the opening ceremony at Contraband Days - a festival held in Lake Charles, Louisiana that plays on the pirate history of the area. Then she was scheduled to meet with Social Services to show that she is a fit guardian for her niece. Unfortunately, Bobbie Faye is a walking disaster. No, really. Bobbie Faye awakens to find that her trailer has flooded thanks to the washing machine her no-good brother was supposed to fix. Then Roy (the no-good brother) calls to say that he has been kidnapped and his captors are going to kill him unless Bobbie Faye delivers her mother’s tiara to them. Her mother, the unofficial Queen of Contraband Days, wore the tiara each year in the parade and passed both title and tiara onto her daughter when she died. Why anyone would want the tiara is a mystery to Bobbie Faye but she’ll do whatever it takes to save her brother. When Bobbie Faye goes to the bank to get the tiara out of her safety deposit box, she ends up being accused of robbing the bank. The real bank robbers steal the tiara and Bobbie Faye has to force a man at gunpoint to chase them down and it’s only 10 am. Before the day is over, Bobbie Faye will have to deal with car chases, explosions, gun runners and more than one pissed off ex-boyfriend. This hilarious debut is an absolute must read. I couldn’t stop laughing. Bobbie Faye is fantastic and fun. 

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

One of the Best Books Ever!

I love this book! I was a bit leery at first, afraid of all the critical praise the book had been earning, but when I ended up looking for a LONG audiobook to get me through the LA-CO drive, this was the one I grabbed.

It was great! The story was amazing and gripping... and the discs crapped out about halfway through the book! AGH! I was only an hour out of Denver and I desperately wanted to finish.

Before unpacking even, I made an emergency trip to the bookstore to exchange my defective audio for a proper book that I could sit down and finish. It was well worth it and I was hard-pressed to tear myself away and deal with moving necessities!

I would put this book in what I call the modern gothic category. Gothic lit as a whole subscribes to some pretty basic style and structure guidlines. Books like Jane Eyre and The Monk are classics of the genre. There has been a recent upsurge in new gothic lit, however, and I am eating it up. Shadow of the Wind was probably my first, followed by titles like Ghost Writer by John Harwood, The Historian by Kostova, and Thirteenth Tale by Setterfield - all amazing books that I highly recommend.

Readers will find that this is probably a love it or hate it genre. The pacing is a bit slower than most fiction - they're meant to be savored rather than gulped up in one sitting, just like the classics. The action and the suspense are definitely there, but I have heard that some find them slow and tedious. I think this is unfortunate, but to each his own.

Shadow concerns a young boy living in Barcelona in the 1950s. On his tenth birthday, Daniel is taken by his father, a bookstore owner, to a place where forgotten books are kept. Daniel is told to pick one book and that he will be the guardian of that book for the rest of his life. The title Daniel chooses is The Shadow of the Wind by Julian Carax. He devours the book in one evening and begins searching for more of Carax's work. He finds that Carax is a shadowy almost mythical figure in the literary world. Not much is known about the man, but they do know that someone has been methodically destroying all of the remaining copies of Carax's work. Daniel becomes obsessed with learning more. As he grows older and learns more about the mysterious author, Daniel finds himself ensnared in a strange web of intrigue that could cost him his life.

Amazing, atmospheric, creepy, engaging - overall just a great book to get totally lost in. The whole time I was reading, I wanted more. If you find that you are the same way, take comfort in knowing that Zaphon's long awaited prequel should be due out sometime next year (I can't wait!).

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Some of This and Some of That

What the heck is up with the weather? I was loving the rain that we had but today I had to turn on the heater again. To make matters worse, not a drop of rain. Ugh! It's cold and I'm grouchy, what could be worse? Well, actually, plenty of things.

So Mike, my other, is off in NYC for the next few weeks and I am green with envy. He wants me to fly up but I am not sure when I'll have the opportunity - I'm hoping to make it for drinks with my fellow DPIers and the marketing whiz who led that portion of our class - who btw, has acquired a fab new satire due out late winter and has asked me to review it for the BB - more on that later. 

In the meantime, I am here, trying to stay warm (and awake). My day involved lots o' calls to the peach state and now I wait. Spent some time staring at all the books I want to read and wishing for at least 4 extra hours of each day in which I have no obligations. Yeah, right!

I finally started Anatomy of Fear last night and am hoping to finish it with enough time to spare that I can start another book tonight. See, trying to catch up. I blogged about Santlofer's genius a few weeks ago, but felt you guys needed a reminder - that is, if you haven't bought him yet. Why? Because the follow-up to Anatomy is due out next Tues. which means you have just enough time to run out and pick this one up so you're ready for the next installment. 

Other than that, I am thinking it's time to hit a hot bath and try to defrost! Am also thinking I'll catch the rerun of the second half of A&E's Andromeda Strain rather than the early one. 

The Strangers is due out this weekend and given the recent lack of rated R films coming out these days, it had so better be good. Seriously, the last rated R movie I saw was The Ruins. I know Rambo was rated R (and thank GOD they didn't cop out like the Die Hard folk did) and I should have that one in tomorrow. Other than that, I'm kind of at a loss as to what movies I've seen lately for the 17+ crowd. 

Monday, May 26, 2008

No Beaches to Speak of

Every summer millions of folks finally get to go on vacation. This means an abundance of recommended beach reads. Just what is a beach read? Well, my thinking is that a beach read is a paperback (easy to transport) book that's going to really grab your attention but not require a lot of thought. Chick-lit is especially good for this as are mysteries and thrillers.

Not being in school and not having kids, summer really doesn't mean much to me in the way of changing my reading choices, nevermind the fact that we really don't have any beaches nearby for me to worry about sandy hardcovers. I do, however, think long and hard about my vacation reads. I am a determined reader who really isn't inconvenienced by hardcovers (although I do see the point in packing paperbacks). I travel light on clothing so there's usually plenty of room for books in my luggage!

This year, we are planning a road trip. A friend of ours is getting married just a few hours from where we grew up and we want to bring home plenty of Louisiana stuff that we can't get here - the car makes it easier.

In preparation for this trip (still a month away, btw) I have already made some purchases for road trip reading! One of these is Terri Persons's latest, Blind Rage. Rage is the follow-up to last year's Blind Spot (which I also read on a trip home to the folks'). 

Persons falls into the recent influx of "psychic detective" fiction. What I really liked about Persons's debut was that it still felt new and fresh even with the growing popularity of the subject matter. Unlike George Shuman's 18 Seconds, however, Persons didn't seem to get much recognition. I'll keep you posted on Rage, but in the meantime, I recommend you run out and buy Spot - newly out in paperback and perfect for a travel tote or beach bag, or just late-night reading!

So, here's my review of Blind Spot from bookbitch.com:

Everyone has heard that twins have a special connection. When Bernadette Saint Clare and her sister were young, they developed a special talent – they could see through each other’s eyes. Then, her sister died in a car accident and somehow Bernadette’s vision was transferred to that of her sister’s killer. Now, Bernadette can see through murderers’ eyes and uses her talent to help her in her job as an FBI agent. After being transferred to yet another new office, Bernadette finds herself in an odd situation. Her new supervisor seems to believe in her ability. On her first day in St. Paul, Minnesota, two boys find a hand while fishing; a body is discovered that afternoon in the woods. The first problem is that the hand is that of a woman and the body is that of a man. The second problem is that just one month ago, a hunting dog brought home a severed hand and a body was discovered shortly thereafter. Bernadette’s gift leads her to a serial killer hell-bent on his own form of retribution. Although the “psychic” detective is appearing quite often lately, it’s still a concept that I find intriguing. Persons’ thrilling debut makes a great stand-alone, but I sincerely hope, and suspect, that we will see more of Bernadette Saint Clare in the future.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

New Releases 5/27

Ok, this week is a big one so here are some of the new releases hitting shelves:

Severance Package by Duane Swierczynski - the ultimate in workplace drama! What do you do when you find out you're being laid off permanently? Topping my TBR list.
Bobbie Faye's Kinda Sorta Not Really Family Jewels by Toni McGee Causey - Bobbie Faye is one tough south Louisiana chick, and she's freaking hilarious! I'll be reviewing this one a bit late, but look for it this week.
The Touch of Twilight by Vicki Pettersson - third in her amazing Signs of the Zodiac series. If you aren't reading, shame on you.
No One Lives Forever by Jordan Dane - ties up the story began in No One Left to Tell.
Not Another Bad Date by Rachel Gibson - a cute contemporary romance. 
Shadow of Power by Steve Martini - latest legal drama to feature Paul Madriani and this time he has to find out who killed the author of a controversial new book. 
Blood Noir by Laurel K. Hamilton - I've only read the first in the series, but you can check out Tez Miller's review here
Reapers by John Connolly - newest to feature Charlie Parker. 
Blue Smoke and Murder by Elizabeth Lowell 
Weddings Can be Murder by Christie Craig
Weddings From Hell 4 stories by Kim Harrison, Jeaniene Frost, Terri Garey, and Kathryn Smith
Coffin County by Gary A. Braunbeck - creepy tale that seems to follow Mr. Hands and Keepers
Safety of Secrets by Delaune Michel - it's a Lake Charles week! Delaune is a literary author who hails from south LA (just like me and Toni Causey). She's related to Andre Dubus and James Lee Burke.
Black Out by Lisa Unger - latest thriller from the fantastic Lisa Unger, this one is a stand-alone.
Panic in Level 4 by Richard Preston - the man who grossed us out with true-life thriller The Hot Zone returns with more icky and weird virology. A must buy for me. No one writes non-fiction this exciting. 

On DVD: 
Ramo - I heart Sly!
Cleaner - latest Samuel L. Jackson film. He plays a crime scene cleaner who may have accidentally gotten rid of some crucial evidence in a murder. 

New reviews up at bookbitch.com
Shadow of Power, The Touch of Twilight, No One Lives Forever, and Not Another Bad Date

What I'm reading now: All of my leftovers from last week! It's crazy right now as I try to wrap up GA and not think about the fact that my other is in NYC for a month!

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Another Small Press

While attending DPI last summer, I had the honor of meeting Gladys Topkis, editor extraordinaire. Now, Gladys's daughter, Maggie, was a bookstore owner in NYC who got fed up with the number of requested titles that were falling out of print. She started Felony and Mayhem to revive some of these older mysteries and introduce new readers to some old favorites. She also imports titles from around the world that aren't available in the states, like Missing by Karin Alvtegen. Here's a bit about F&M's first hardcover release (synopsis from Amazon.uk):

In The Grand Hotel, a homeless woman charms a businessman into paying for dinner and a room. When his dead body is discovered the following morning she becomes the prime suspect. When a second person is killed in similar circumstances, Sybilla, having left her comfortable middle class upbringing for the anonymity of the streets, becomes the most wanted person in Sweden ...Missing is a totally compelling read and a classic thriller that confirms Alvtegen as a crime writer worth comparison with Henning Mankell. But at its core, the book also explores the terrifying isolation for a woman who has rejected the values of her background and intimacy of her family.

Felony and Mayhem titles can be found in regular bookstores, and you'll know them by their cover art - each book has the same solid swatch of color sweeping across the front and one of the signature icons on the spine. The icon reference appears again on the back of the book and lists comparison authors to help you make your choice.

Alvtegen's Missing has the globe icon which indicates that it is a foreign title. This particular book lists other F&M titles that readers who like Missing would enjoy. Peter Watson's Landscape of Lies has a magnifying glass on its spine - this represents the traditional category - and is recommended for "intelligent fans of The Da Vinci Code." I also have Elizabeth Ironside's The Accomplice. Ironside falls into the British category and is recommended for fans of Ruth Rendell and Minette Walters.

Buying a Felony and Mayhem book is like taking home a bookseller. Maggie Topkis really knows her stuff, she picks quality titles, and makes solid recommendations to readers.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Forgotten Book Friday

I came across this one a few of the blogs that I read and I thought it was a great idea. JT Ellison posted her pick on today's Murderati post. Apparently it was started by Patti Abbot and you can view her pick here. I actually own Patti's pick courtesy of my mom's small book collection. The Rap Sheet also added their picks to the list (there are a list of links on Patti's page for more).

Since I review everything that I read, I find that there are many older, out of print titles that I just never get to - one day I promise I will, but for now my own list of forgotten books is rather limited.

Find the Feathered Serpent by Evan Hunter is a book my grandmother swears is the best teen adventure read ever. I'm under strict orders to take special care when reading it because she wants it back! Published in 1952, Feathered Serpent is about a couple of teens who travel back in time to the ancient Aztec world.
Now, a lot of the other entries are mysteries (I haven't looked at all of them yet, but the majority seem to be) and mine is Sci-Fi, but Evan Hunter is the pseudonym for mystery author Ed McBain so I figure I am not too far from the mark.

Another one from me would be The Other by Nicholas Tryon. Published in 1971 it's the story of two brothers with supernatural powers - and a twist. I have yet to read the book. It was either one of my mother's few growing up or she bought it for me at a used bookstore, either way I am hoping that it hasn't been misplaced for all eternity! There is a film adaptation, it's a bit slow and not what I was expecting, but I'd really like to read the book now.

I guess I'll have to troll my grandmother's closets for more old ones - I know she's got a ton of stuff that belonged to my uncle when he was a kid. I inherited my mom's Peter Benchley novels (she swears she wasn't a reader, but I have the books to prove it!).

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Shopping for the Junior Junkies

I have three teenage sisters; one is 15 and the twins are 14. Of the three, one reads teen chick-lit and wants nothing to do with the paranormal stuff. I'm trying to convince her to try some other things, but so far she's been resisting. The 15 year-old loves vampires and urban fantasy, but shies away from anything too creepy. The last one, loves UF and I think would even be reading more thriller and mystery stuff if she could get her hands on it. They are the Junior Junkies.

They're super easy to shop for, if only I had all the money in the world! They read like I do. The two UF fans swap books back and forth and go through boxes of stuff in no time. It's maddening. What's worse, they read it so fast because they prefer it to homework (who doesn't) and then I get fussed at!

I spend hours trolling the internet for teen stuff likeRachel Caine's Morganville Vampires, Melissa de la Cruz's Blue Bloods, Stephanie Meyer, Amelia Atwater Rhodes, PC Cast, Melissa Marr, and I don't even know what else at this point. I've even started sending them the adult stuff, Rachel Vincent, Vicki Pettersson, Kim Harrison, and Jeanne Stein.

I get random calls with urgent instructions to buy certain books for them (have I mentioned I live 4 states away?) at all hours of the day. I have a box here for them now with a whole slew of new ones: Laurel K. Hamilton's first one, Shana Abe, Jennifer Armintrout, Kelley Armstrong...

Fortunately, I'll be visiting the home fort soon and that means book shopping with mom - in addition to the stack of titles I plan on coming home with, we'll have to do some browsing for the JJs. I mean, after Tuesday, it is officially summer for them, too!

BTW, if you have any suggested titles that the JJs just HAVE to read, let me know. They probably already have them, but I'm always keeping an eye out. I practically have to buy duplicates of all of my own urban fantasy titles just to keep them happy.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Now do it twice as fast!

I think my brain is on strike these days! I have so many books to read this week and next (trying to review them all). I have this policy - if it gets sent to me, I review it. Sometimes things fall through the cracks, but overall, I feel I have to review everything. If I've requested it, it can't possibly be set aside. So this week and next are tight and my head doesn't seem to be cooperating!

On my nightstand this week are:

Lisa Unger's Black Out
Duane Swierczynski's Severance Package
Gary Braunbeck's Coffin County
Christie Craig's Weddings Can be Murder
Delaune Michel's Safety of Secrets
Rachel Gibson's Not Another Bad Date
The Weddings From Hell anthology
Toni McGee Causey's Bobbie Faye's Kinda Sorta Not Exactly Family Jewels

I'm trying to read Jordan Dane's No One Lives Forever and Steve Martini's Shadow of Power all the while working on the GA book that is due June 2. Of the above list, I can set aside a few, I just don't want to. I want to read them all.

They all look fantastic - some of the authors are new to me and others I have read before. I loved Toni Causey's debut Bobbie Faye title. The fact that it takes place around the town that I grew up in makes it that much more fun. Delaune Michel's title also takes place in my hometown (she's related to James Lee Burke and Andre Dubus). Lisa Unger, of course, is fantastic. Black Out is a new stand-alone that I've been itching to read. And, once upon a time, I read a really old Gary Braunbeck book. He writes horror and I'm anxious to see if he can break my bad streak with the genre.

The nightstand is beginning to bow in the middle from all the weight! My package from The Stand should finally arrive today with my copy of Nicholas Pekearo's Wolfman. Aside from Wolfman and Terri Persons's latest, Blind Rage, the rest of the box is pretty much vacation reads.

Ah, the dilemma of being a book junkie. If only these were the only things that I had to worry about - what books to read and when - I would be a very happy person! The flip side would be never having anything to read and I just couldn't face that!

Mike's out to NYC next week and maybe the worry is causing some of my delay here. Once he's gone, I'm sure I'll be reading a ton just so I don't think about the fact that he's not here (or worry about him way over there). Don't worry, I'll walk the dog so that she doesn't go mad, too.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Another Small Press You Should Know About

I was first introduced to Bleak House through their fabulous ad campaign. It was a page in Mystery Scene magazine, solid black with white words - Chick-lit is dead.

Then, I got an e-mail from the bookbitch asking if I would be interested in reviewing Libby Fischer Hellman's Easy Innocence and I was really excited. The book sounded interesting and, I found out that Hellman was going to be at Left Coast Crime.

While I was there, I had the pleasure of meeting Steve Brewer, another Bleak House author. I have a copy of his book Whipsaw, which he guaranteed that I would like it and said his latest, Cutthroat was similar in style and tone.

Edgar nominee Reed Farrell Coleman was also there, but I didn't really have a chance to meet him. I have yet to purchase the first book in his series, but he's supposed to be amazing. Many of his fellow mystery authors highly recommend his work.

Bleak House had three Edgar nominations on their list this year - out of 15 total releases. Sadly, they didn't win, but you do the math - I'd say things look pretty damn good for Bleak House. Ben LeRoy, the publisher at Bleak House and the man behind the titles published (not to mention company creator) has a taste for some of the grittiest of today's mystery releases, so you can be guaranteed that if you like one Bleak House book, you'll probably like many others.

Of their Summer releases, I have my eye on July's Children of Black Valley by Evan Kilgore, and next month's Old School Bones by Randall Peffer. The just released Yellow Medicine by Anthony Neil Smith is waiting for me on my bedside table and will probably be going on vacation with me later next month.

Bleak has just announced their fall list and you can check that out here. Lefty nominated Bill Cameron's next title, Chasing Smoke just happens to be on my list of must reads, and is just one title on the list. Cameron was another LCC attendee that I had the chance to meet.

Oh, and if you were curious, Libby's book was fantastic. Here's my review from Bookbitch.com:

When a teenage girl is found beaten to death in the woods, the police figure they’ve got an open and shut case. A local man, a convicted sex offender, was found standing over the body, covered in blood and holding a baseball bat. Georgia Davis has been hired by the man’s sister to find the real killer. The man in question is mentally challenged and, according to his sister, has never shown any signs of violence. Georgia also believes the man to be innocent based on the alarming rate at which the cops have been moving the case to court. Georgia, a cop on suspension, investigated a case only two years prior where a group of teens had been participating in a hazing ritual in the same place this girl was found. Her investigation turns over some rather disturbing information about these teens and their extra-curricular activities. She’s also ruffling some pretty important feathers and someone will do just about anything to make sure she keeps her mouth shut. Easy Innocence is a quick and intense mystery with a clever plot and a tough heroine. Georgia Davis one I hope we see more of soon. Highly recommended.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Today has been a day - and it's not even halfway over!

I guess I must be recovering from (or still slightly suffering from) a mild case of heat exhaustion. It's the only thing I can think of.

I had to leave the car at the dealership for some safety recall stuff and took the shuttle home. After a meandering 1 hour drive through back roads north of Boulder, I was finally dropped off, nauseated as all get out. Fun stuff.
I actually have a ton of work to do, but I guess I will spend this evening doing it once I feel better. In the meantime, I finally got to finish Vicki Pettersson's latest Touch of Twilight and boy was it fabulous!
Pettersson falls smack dab in the urban fantasy category, but she's got one of the most original series I have ever come across. There are no werewolves or vampires in her books. Nope, the characters are superheroes. How awesome is that?

When I got in my copy of Scent of Shadows, book one in the series, my ARC had a very different cover than the one that appeared on the actual book. Mine had an evening scene across the top and the rest was black. The blurbs by Gabaldon and Harrison were there, though, as was a very nondescript synopsis on the back. I happen to love Harrison, but have not yet read the Gabaldon books. I knew nothing about the book other than the fact that these two ladies recommended it. I had no expectations; I had no clue what the book was about. Imagine my surprise when, about 90 pages into, things really start to pick up.

Joanna Archer, the central character in this tale, is the daughter of an agent of the light – a member of Zodiac troop 175, paranormal division, Las Vegas. Joanna knows nothing of this thanks to the fact that her mother disappeared shortly after her sixteenth birthday. New initiates of the Zodiac are typically trained as children. Joanna’s own violent initiation as a member occurs on her twenty-fifth birthday. She soon discovers that she is also a descendant of the Shadows, the enemy of the Zodiac. She alone is said to be the one who can rebuild the Zodiac and bring balance to the war between good and evil.

I am totally in awe of Pettersson's imagination. I've caught references to various myths and legends - changelings and the Tulpa being a couple - I know there are other influences - book three talks a lot about Tibetan mysticism - but to have put all of it together into a series about superheroes waging war against the dark in Las Vegas is something that amazes me. That she continues to surprise me and keep me on the edge of my seat as the series progresses is a testament to her incredible talent as an author. I highly recommend the series to readers and I can't wait to see what happens next!

Sunday, May 18, 2008

New Releases 5/20

Some of the new titles this week include:

A Fatal Waltz by Tasha Alexander - 3rd in her historical mystery series following And Only to Deceive and Poisoned Season.
Expert in Murder by Nicola Upson - historical mystery featuring playwright Josephine Tey as "the detective"
Blood Trail by CJ Box - latest in the Joe Pickett series. 
Executive Privilege by Phillip Margolin - one of his legal thrillers
Odd Hours by Dean Koontz - 3rd Odd Thomas title
The Front by Patricia Cornwell - latest to follow At Risk characters (not Kay Scarpetta)
Snuff by Chuck Palahniuk - I've not tried him since Haunted

New on DVD:
National Treasure 2: Book of Secrets - you've got to admit, it's the best stuff Nick Cage has put out in a while!
Strange Wilderness - Steve Zahn and Justin Long hunting for bigfoot
Diary of the Dead - the newest George Romero zombie flick! 

New reviews up at bookbitch.com
Lost Souls by Lisa Jackson
The Seance by John Harwood
Janeology by Karen Harrington
The Space Between Before and After by Jean Reynolds Page

What I'm reading at the moment:
Touch of Twilight by Vicki Pettersson - 3rd in her fantastic superhero series! 

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Leadville's Never Seen So Much Action!

As you probably have noticed, I love horror movies. Can't get enough of them. My latest was the remake of George Romero's Day of the Dead. I was not happy to discover that both this move and Romero's latest, Diary of the Dead, were essentially straight to video releases. I know I'm not the only one watching zombie flicks!

The new Day stars Mena Suvari and Nick Cannon. In spite of this, I thought it was great! Sure, some of the effects were a little cheesy, but for the most part this was a super fun flick! Apparently, zombies are extremely combustible! They also climb on the ceiling in this movie. Ving Rhames also appears in the movie, not as a reprisal of his role from Dawn, but as a military man who makes one nasty zombie!

Now, the movie is not a true remake of the original. In fact, it's more like a reinterpretation. If you've seen the 1985 movie, you know it's not that great. It's about a group of soldiers and a group of scientists sharing living quarters in an underground facility while zombies wreak havoc on the ground above. The scientists are studying the zombies and even have one that shows signs of intelligence - their studies are by no means benign, but most of the science people are the "good guys" in the movie. The soldiers on the other hand are led by a dictator-style manic guy who reminds me a little of the Children of the Corn kids - lots of anger in that one. There's undoubtedly more of a message in the original - in fact, there's no message in the new versions at all, just brainless gore to veg out to, but I don't mind. Fluff is a necessary part of life.

The remake takes place in Leadville, Colorado and starts off with a military blockade/quarantine. Course the folks in Leadville are told it's just a training exercise and that the roads will be open the next day - yeah, 'cause they're all dead by then! There's a strange illness floating around town that starts off looking like a cold, then nose bleeds, then a trance like state and finally total zombie meltdown. 

Overall, fun, gory, lots o' gratuitous violence and more creative zombie characteristics than you've ever seen. Fun stuff! And thank GOD! My second film of the evening, Youth Without Youth, was arguably more intellectual but flew right over my head. I know I'm not dumb but damn if movies like that don't make me feel that way. It did have some great previews, though. I've added Black Book, The Counterfeiters, and Redbelt to my must see list as a result. Check out the trailers online and you'll see why.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Online Fun!



If you're not watching The Guild online, you should be. It's hilarious! It's an online show about a group of gamers whose virtual world has become a bit too "real." So far, it's won the 2007 YouTube Video Award for best series, the 2008 Yahoo Video Award also for best series, and the 2008 SXSW/ON Network Greenlight award. 

Felcia Day, who Buffy fans will recognize as Vi, one of the potential slayers from the very end, writes and stars in the show. Season one is complete and up on the Guild site as well as Youtube. There are 10 episodes total, about 4-6 minutes each. 

Anyway, the show absolutely cracks me up and is well worth the hour or so that it takes to watch the whole thing. I can't wait for season 2! Check it out.


Contest Links

I got this link in an e-mail today and thought I would share (just hit link, not the pic), since it's such a cool contest. Avon A does heartfelt chick-litty, book club titles - next month's bag has two Meg Cabot titles, the latest Marian Keyes, and Rachel Gibson's Not Another Bad Date.

I'm crossing my fingers hoping that I'll win one of these months. If not, oh well.

Another HarperCollins promotion that you should know about, if you don't already, is their First Look program. Readers have the opportunity to read and review upcoming HC titles and all you have to do is tell them why you should be picked.

Of course, if you read yesterday, you can follow the link to win one of Fall's most highly anticipated titles, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson.

The Bookbitch always has great giveaways (and reviews) that change each month. You can register to win individual titles or the Thriller Shelf of the month.

And hopefully Bookreporter.com will start their summer beach bag contests soon - can't remember exactly when this starts, but it may be June. They offer tons of beach reads and accompanying items like sandals, drink mixes and glasses, and beach towels all in a cute beach bag.

So sorry about the short post, I hope some of you guys enter and win some of these things. I have a raging headache at the moment and am going to get some reading done, off the computer!

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Pre-publication buzz

I've been hearing murmurings in all of my magazines and on a lot of the blogs I read about Stieg Larsson's The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. It happens that sometimes a book is really that good - it starts to generate buzz before it's released and then you sit, waiting in anticipation to see, not only if it was worthy of it, but if the public will notice.

I've not read the book just yet - I'm behind which means that I am still ahead but can't really push any later books forward just yet, so I've got links here to other reviews you can check out. Anyway, Material Witness is giving away an advanced copy and I thought I should post a link for anyone who is interested. Visit The Rap Sheet for details - they'll direct you to the appropriate site, deadline is Friday.

And onto the book: Larsson, hails from Sweden, a country that has been busting a plethora of mystery and crime authors for years now (see my past blog on Kirsten Ekman). His Millenium series, Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Girl who Played with Fire, and Castles in the Sky, is already a bestselling series in his native country. Dragon Tattoo was released in January in the UK and hits US shelves in September. The following titles will hit shelves in the UK in 2009 and 2010 - hopefully the same here in the US.

Here's a little blurb on Dragon Tattoo from Larsson's site just to whet your whistle (you can find more following the links below:

Forty years ago, Harriet Vanger disappeared off the secluded island owned and inhabited by the powerful Vanger family. There was no corpse, no witnesses, no evidence. But her uncle, Henrik, is convinced that she was murdered by someone from her own deeply dysfunctional Vanger clan. Disgraced journalist Mikael Blomqvist is hired to investigate.

Larsson passed away in 2004 after completing only this series. Late last year, The Rap Sheet posted this blog about Larsson, his novel, and his work with Expo a magazine he helped found to expose the actions of right-wing extremist groups in Sweden.

My favorite UK review site, Eurocrime, also has a review of the book up here.

So, since it seems that the book does live up to expectations, I'll be bumping mine up asap and will keep you posted. For now, add it to your 'To Buy" or "Wish" or whatever you use when you come across a book that sounds interesting. Whatever you do, don't forget The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo hits shelves stateside on September 16.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Buy this one!

Two blogs in one day! What is the world coming to?

I left this one off my list of releases yesterday even though it's been on my To Buy list since I first heard about it. Shame on me!

Here's what PW had to say about Nicholas Pekearo's debut:

"...Marlowe Higgins, who's both a werewolf and a detective, lives in the small town of Evelyn, "just outside the Tennessee border," flipping burgers by day and waiting for the full moon that will awaken the blood curse that has afflicted his family for generations. Higgins has hit on a way to alleviate the guilt he feels for having claimed countless innocent lives-he investigates vicious crimes that have gone unsolved by the police and targets the perpetrators in his lupine form. When a sadistic serial killer known as the Rose Killer for the flowers left in the victims' eye sockets appears in Evelyn, Higgins turns his attention to tracking him down. Higgins may remind some of Jeff Lindsay's Dexter, but Pekearo's skill at making Higgins both believable and sympathetic is a considerable achievement that should give this novel crossover appeal beyond crime and horror readers."

Now, I haven't read this one just yet, obviously, and I have really high expectations. My fear, however, is that it will just be too good. Why is that a bad thing? Sadly Pekearo, a bookseller and auxiliary police officer in NYC was killed in the line of duty last year, only days after TOR decided to go ahead with publication. 

So, go out and buy this one - I'll be ordering it today since none of my local stores seem to have it in stock, shame on them!

It's the middle of the night and I should be asleep!

It's almost 12:30 and I should really be hitting the sack, but I have to get some reading done first. I say this, but really I just finished reading a book literally minutes ago. It's just that I feel more productive if I have a book going when I hit the pillow. I can't explain it.

It's a heavy week for me considering the fact that I still have so much to finish on the Georgia book before I can start the Florida book - I had hoped I would get a pretty good response to the requests for submissions that I sent out, but I was wrong. This means I have at least 2-3 weeks of calls hounding people for recipes ahead of me, something I don't even want to think about until GA gets turned in to the designer in June.

My review list this week isn't so bad, but next week is pretty packed, plus I have some books that I really want to get to asap (the May discussion book for one of the shelfari groups being one of them!).

As soon as I wrap this blog up, I'll be starting Lisa Jackson's latest title, Lost Souls. It'll be my first one of hers and I am really looking forward to it. I hope it's a real page-turner, too!

I spent this evening (minus a break for Samantha Who) reading Karen Harrington's Janeology. It was quite an interesting read. The main theme of the story is the question of nature versus nurture. A woman drowns her son and her daughter just barely survives. A year later, her husband is being brought to trial on the charge of partial negligence. The court feels that he should have known his wife was sick and that she was a possible danger to her children. The defense plans to prove that the wife was genetically disposed to committing the crime based on her family's history. It's a thought-provoking read, made that much more interesting to me thanks to my CJUS degree (something you didn't know, right? Yep, I have a B.S, in CJUS with minors in English and Anthropology - no, I don't want to be a lawyer and I don't read true crime). I thought Harrington dealt with her subject matter in a very compelling way. It's a touchy subject to be sure, but it wasn't at all a hard read.

The publisher of this title, Kunati, looks to be a pretty interesting house in and of itself. Based on their other catalog titles, they definitely make a point of publishing titles with similarly compelling topics as subjects. In fact, their tag line is "Provocative. Bold. Controversial." Some of their other titles are Madicine and The Game by Kunati publisher Derek Armstrong, Recycling Jimmy by Andy Tilley, and Miracle Myx by Dave Diotalevi, amongst others. Kunati falls under my list of small publishers you should check out and Harrington is definitely one author you should be on the lookout for.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Not all Brits Write the Agatha Christie Way!

I got off track with this blog from the first line and had to start over. I was going to talk about my experiences with Minette Walters's books as a bookseller, and then I got off on a rant about corporate buyers who don't have a clue what happens in their individual stores which turns into mass quantities of titles that don't sell in certain regions (which means lots o' returns in that region). Then I started talking about booksellers who become advocates for titles. Having said all of that, so you see where my line of thinking has gone in relation to this author, I'll just jump right in!

When I worked at my first store, between the ages of 19 and 22, I came to realize pretty quickly (and to my disappointment) that I could not possibly read everything that I wanted to. Yes, it still bothers me today and results in lots of book hoarding (actually that resulted from the thought that I wouldn't have any money as a college student and I needed to save some to read in the dorms!). Anyway, I often came across those titles mentioned above - books that obviously sold in mass quantities somewhere, but just not our store. Our customers simply didn't buy them. Why? I can't tell you. I can tell you this, I also came to realize that if even one bookseller would back those books, they would have practically flown off the shelves in some cases.

Minette Walters was one of these authors. I, like so many, once upon a time assumed that all mysteries were the product of Agatha Christie's influence. They may just be, but there are so many different sub-genres that if you don't like the traditional British mysteries, it doesn't mean that you don't like mysteries at all. It's not that I don't like AC, I cut my teeth on her, it's just that I prefer harder mysteries - not true hard-boiled or noir, per se - just harder than the traditional who-dunits.

By the time I worked in the bookstore, I had plenty of book browsing experience under my belt and knew that the mystery section was so much more than those traditionals. I learned, though, that not all of my customers had come to that conclusion. For this reason, I think a lot of the shoppers at that store avoided the section altogether. Had I had more time, some of the titles that I saw floundering there, would have gotten the love and attention that they needed from me. I was able to change some folks' perceptions, I just wish I could have done more. Perhaps then it wouldn't have taken me so long to quit lumping the Brit books into the same category and 5 years to discover that I, in fact, love Minette Walters! Sad to say Shape of Snakes was one of those floundering titles that kept falling off the shelves thanks to the three overstuffed faceouts I had. Maybe I should have taken the hint and read it then!

Nope, it took a glossy red covered ARC, courtesy of one of my friends who still worked in the bookstore, to get me totally hooked, and turn me into the long overdue advocate I always should have been for Walters's books.

Devil's Feather is a multi-layered mystery. On the one hand, you have Reuter's reporter Connie Burns whose investigation into a certain British mercenary may have had terrible results. She is kidnapped while working in Africa, but refuses to give any details. She rents a home in Dorset and discovers that the previous owner died under less than straightforward circumstances. The two stories collide as Connie becomes more reclusive and paranoid.

Walters is a master of psychological suspense. The one thing you learn straight off the bat is that her narrators are not the most reliable of people. You're never quite certain if you can trust the main character which makes the books that much more intense. Her books are brutal and violent, sometimes downright gory, and always harrowing.

And so, it may be long overdue, but I have become an advocate for Minette Walters titles and can say without a doubt that she is one of the forerunners in the psychological suspense sub-genre. If you're looking for a gripping page-turner that will keep you reading into the wee hours, she's gonna do it for you! I have since bought about half a dozen of her books including The Dark Room, her latest Chameleon's Shadow (both reviewed at bookbitch.com) and the reprints of Scolds Bride, The Echo, Sculptress, and Ice House, all of which are on my immediate TBR shelf for this summer - just see if you don't get chills reading these this summer!

Sunday, May 11, 2008

New Releases 5/13

Some of the titles hitting shelves this week include:
The Space Between Before and After by Jean Reynolds Page - tragic incidents for one family strangely coincide with the NASA disasters. On my bedside table to read for this week. 
Wicked Game by Jeri Smith-Ready - loved it! A radio station whose djs just happen to be vamps. Fresh and funny read!
Bright Shiny Morning by James Frey - admittedly not on my to buy list, but the "fiction" debut by the notorious James Frey. 

New on DVD:
Untraceable starring Diane Lane and Colin Hanks - freaky serial killer who uses website hits to aid in his kills. I saw this one in theaters and it was particularly disturbing in my opinion, and things don't usually bother me all that much.
Youth Without Youth starring Tim Roth, directed by Francis Ford Coppola, and based on the novella by Mircea Eliade. The preview for this one looks fantastic and it's at the top of my rental list for the week. Here's a youtube link to the trailer

New reviews up at bookbitch.com this week:
Wicked Game
One Foot in the Grave by Jeaniene Frost
No One Left to Tell by Jordan Dane
Island of Lost Girls by Jennifer McMahon

What I am reading at this moment: The Seance by John Harwood. The long awaited new release from the author of the fantastic Ghost Writer is a Victorian ghost story (much like the short tales interspersed within GW). I've about 100 pages left and will finish it tonight. 

Friday, May 9, 2008

Don't Understand the Logic

Last year, Norwegian author Jo Nesbo made his American debut with The Redbreast. The book gained quite a bit of critical buzz this side of the pond. My issue with The Redbreast is the fact that it's not actually the first book to feature hero Inspector Harry Hole. In fact, after much searching, it doesn't look like they're publishing any of his books in order.

From what I can find, thanks to Euro Crime, a great UK book blog that I think I have mentioned here before, the series is as follows:

1. The Bat Man
2. Cockroach
3. Redbreast
4. Nemesis
5. Devil's Star
6. The Redeemer
7. The Snowman

Not all of the titles have even been published in his native country. As of right now, The Redbreast is the only one of Nesbo's titles that is available here in the states. Devil's Star was actually the first of Nesbo's titles to be translated into English. Nemesis has a laydown date of this month, but is showing Random House Canada as the publisher. HUH?

So, yeah, not quite sure what logic is driving these decisions, but I've got Devil's Star coming courtesy of High Crimes and their fab international ordering system. I guess I'll have to decide if I want to pay the extra for Nemesis or take my chances and wait for it to finally be officially released here.

So after all that rambling, here's the starred review of The Redbreast from PW as posted on Amazon (hopefully I'll get to reading this one this week, but we'll see):

"Shifting effortlessly between the last days of WWII on the Eastern front and modern day Oslo, Norwegian Nesbø (The Devil's Star) spins a complex tale of murder, revenge and betrayal. A recovering alcoholic recently reassigned to the Norwegian Security Service, Insp. Harry Hole begins tracking Sverre Olsen, a vicious neo-Nazi who escaped prosecution on a technicality. But what starts as a quest to put Olsen behind bars soon explodes into a race to prevent an assassination. As Hole struggles to stay one step ahead of Olsen and his gang of skinheads, Nesbø takes the reader back to WWII, as Norwegians fighting for Hitler wage a losing battle on the Eastern front. When the two story lines finally collide, it's up to Hole to stop a man hell-bent on carrying out the deadly plan he hatched half a century ago in the trenches. Perfectly paced and painfully suspenseful, this crime novel illuminates not only Norway's alleged Nazi ties but also its present skinhead subculture. Readers will delight in Hole, a laconic hero as doggedly stubborn as Connelly's Harry Bosch, and yet with a prickly appeal all his own."

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Blame it on Buffy!

I blame the current popularity of the newly minted Urban Fantasy genre on Buffy. Yep. And I thank her and Joss for it every day!

I love Urban Fantasy. A lot of it is melded with mystery or romance so you end up with vampire hunter detectives or vamp CIA agents (Jennifer Rardin's fantastic series), witch PIs who partner with pixies (Kim Harrison), werecat mysteries (Rachel Vincent), superheroes (Vicki Pettersson should be on everyone's must read list) and loads of other stuff. They're fun and the authors can essentially play with the mythos however they like meaning that even though you may see 12 vamp titles by 12 different authors, each one is going to be unique in its own way. Sure, sure there are some cookie cutter ones out there, just like every genre, but it's those different ones that stand out.

I started reading Jeri Smith-Ready's latest last night (right after I finished Jeaniene Frost's latest which is, um, not going to the Junior Junkies thanks to a particularly steamy sex chapter! No way am I getting the blame if the 'rents happen to see that.) So, I didn't get far in Wicked Game, about 60 pages before the clock hit 1 am and I forced myself to sleep.

I can tell you already that this one definitely falls into the unique category which means I'm gonna love it! Ciara Griffin is a con artist trying to get a real job. She applies for a marketing internship at WMMP radio and is surprised when she is actually gets hired. Her first day, she's sent home with an assignment to read a stack of books on rock history so that she can understand what the station is all about. Stuffed inside one of the books is an old pamphlet on vampires. As she skims through it, she starts to realize that there is something strange about the employees at WMMP - they're nut jobs who believe they're the undead, or are they? So, she does what any normal girl would do in this situation, she quits. Except they really want her. See, the owner of the station has put some money into it lately in hopes that it will be snatched up by a big corporation which means that all the vamps currently working there would be out of jobs. Not good considering the fact that Smith-Ready's vamps are a little delicate mentally and working around the music of their eras helps keep these guys sane.

I'll keep you posted, but I can almost guarantee that it's going to be fantastic. Add to that the fact that it's freaking hilarious and I should zoom through it today - after I finish my work, of course. Oh, and you can check out Jeri Smith-Ready's site and listen to the Wicked Game playlist (super cool)! And, it's not up just yet, or not loading on my comp for some reason, but WVMP radio will soon have its own site with music and stuff to buy.

If you're interested in reading Wicked Game yourself, enter to win a copy (with some yummy chocolate accompaniments) over at Rachel Vincent's blog. Good luck!

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

I got my first proof in!

So I got my first proof in this week, finished up the edit and am waiting for one final pic for an inn. This one is the CA book and my name is on the ISBN page. Yay!

It's a strange feeling. On the one hand, it's not like I wrote a book - a painstaking, months long, labor of love. I am proud of my work and actually terrified that I missed a million typos, but I know it's not quite the same as writing a whole book. I compiled the thing and did some creative writing, inn descriptions and such, but for the most part I would liken it to translating a book. I have to read and retype all of the recipes, making sure that they make sense. This sometimes includes some internet searching to complete partial recipes.

I've already sent out requests for the FL book and am a little disheartened in regards to the number of responses I've gotten thus far. I don't want a replay of the GA book. I mailed 180 requests for submissions on the FL book with a deadline of next Monday. I've gotten 2 back. Ideally, I would have 100 participants - that would ensure that there is a good selection of recipes (hopefully) and a decent page count on the whole book.

Do me a favor and cross your fingers for me folks so that I'll get in 98 submissions over the weekend and can go straight to putting it together come June. Am working on wrapping up GA in the meantime. And trying not to eat too much while I do! Working on these makes me hungry.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Do I feel sorry or am I just annoyed?

I've been a reader since I was 8 or 9 years old. This was something my parents pushed for - my mom was a reader when she was younger, I have the books to prove it, and my dad is still something of a reader, though it extends mainly to nonfiction.

We used to have reading parties when I was a kid. Pillows spread all over the living room, blinds open letting the sun in, my dad, my brother, and myself with our books. Don't know if they still do these with the junior junkies.

Anyway, I am a reader. That's my point, and I kind of feel bad for people who aren't. Other times I just get aggravated. Why? Because our roommate has no way to entertain himself other than to watch TV. When he is home, the TV is running 24/7! He sleeps in front of the TV. He won't even turn it off when he leaves. I can't understand it. I like TV. I really do. I can sit in front of the box for hours on end when I feel like doing nothing else. I love movies and will watch TV on DVD for hours. I simply can't fathom a life wherein that is the only form of entertainment I enjoy. I like books. I can sit and read one in one evening if it is really good. I don't have to wait for something to come on, I don't have to sit through commercials, and I rather enjoy the quiet. Unfortunately, my book reading now has a permanent soundtrack of reality shows. Agh!

I can hear Bravo right now, which I guess in some way is better than actually hearing a rerun of the Dog Whisperer. Yes, that's another issue - he has a DVR and will rewatch the same episodes over and over again. My feeling is this, if I wanted to watch it, I would be down there. I certainly don't want to listen to it as I attempt to read my book.

Latest to jump off the reading pile is One Foot in the Grave by Jeaniene Frost. It's 4 years after Halfway to the Grave and Cat is still pining over Bones. She now works as a vampire hunter for homeland security and (just in the first few chapters) will be returning to her hometown for the first time since the events of Halfway thanks to the fact that someone has left a pile of bodies in the house where she grew up.

Now, does it sound like I need a 24-hour Discovery channel playlist to keep me entertained? No! I will say this about the roomie, he once admitted to me that he skipped school as a teen to read a Harlan Coben book - I think he needs some more Coben love, how about you?

Monday, May 5, 2008

It's tough to be a book junkie!

I wish there were more hours in the day that I could devote to reading. As it is, I already devote quite a bit of time to my favorite solitary activity (well, not totally, Mike reads in bed at the same time, so in that sense we are reading together, no?).

Anyway, I like to stay ahead of the game and keep my eyes and ears open for the fabulous stuff that is coming out. This one slipped by me. Could be that I don't read much espionage - something I am trying to change with recent Stella Rimington purchases - Gail Lynds having been pretty much my only prior experience with the genre. I'm also on a big, big, big UK kick right now which is not to say that I am not reading the stateside stuff (because I am) but just that I have been utilizing my "Wish List" and stuffing it with obscure stuff from overseas that I desperately want to get my hands on.

In my efforts to stay in the know now that I am not physically touching every fictional entry, I read PW and various blogs. One recent addition to my bookmarks is The Rap Sheet, can't remember where I heard about it first, but it was probably on another blog. Anyway, Alex Carr (Jenny Siler) and a review of her recent release The Prince of Bagram Prison, were the subject of one of today's entries on The Rap Sheet and I immediately had to add it to my "Books I Now Must Have" list.

Here's what PW had to say about The Prince of Bagram Prison:

"At the start of this intelligent spy thriller from the pseudonymous Carr (the author of Flashback and other novels under her real name, Jenny Siler), Kat Caldwell, a gutsy U.S. Army interrogator stationed at Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan, takes charge of Jamal, a 15-year-old Moroccan boy caught in a jihadi sweep by a British Special Forces team. Having fled a degraded existence as an orphan in Morocco, the resourceful Jamal is no terrorist, Kat decides. After Jamal escapes custody, a team of American intelligence agents, working in both an official and unofficial capacity, go in search of him. Because of their earlier relationship, Kat is recruited to help locate the boy. When she realizes that something bad will happen if she finds him, she also goes on the run. Effortlessly shifting point of view and back and forth in time, Carr (An Accidental American) well deserves comparisons with the early John le Carré."

Flashback and Accidental American have also made it to my list. I'm thinking vacation reads!

Sunday, May 4, 2008

New Releases 5/6

New releases this week include:

The Host by Stephenie Meyer - Her adult debut and it totally rocks! LOVED IT! See post below for synopsis and go buy the book!
The Tenth Gift by Jane Johnson - a 'book about a book.' I blogged about this one earlier this week as well. It was a great literary tale with elements of mystery, adventure, and romance. Another great one.
From Dead to Worse by Charlaine Harris - #8 in the Sookie Stackhouse series takes place just after Hurricane Katrina. 
Careless in Red by Elizabeth George - the return of Thomas Linley (after With No One as Witness)
Phamton Prey by John Sandford - the latest Lucas Davenport mystery. This (along with Harris above) is a series that is going to have to go on my TBR list. I had read the first title, Rules of Prey, years ago, but Sandford is consistently garnering praise from his fellow authors. I'll be rereading Rules asap, guaranteed.
Skeletons of the Feast by Chris Bohjalian - WWII lit-fic that's also going on my "wish list."

On DVD:
PS I Love You based on the novel by Cecelia Ahern. It's not as good as the book, but Gerard Butler and *sigh* Jeffrey Dean Morgan are totally hot and Hillary Swank is really cute in the lead role.
I'm Not There the Bob Dylan bio pick.

New reviews at bookbitch.com:
The Host
The Tenth Gift
Novel About My Wife by Emily Perkins
Bloodstone by Nate Kenyon
And welcome new reviewer Jennnifer Lawrence to the BB team!

Also, check out Cheryl's blog and leave a comment to win a copy of Maggie Marr's new title. And the ever fabulous Toni McGee Causey is running consecutive contests each Sunday until the release of her latest, Bobbie Faye's (Kinda, Sorta, Not Exactly) Family Jewels. Bobbie Faye is great fun (and she's a southerner from LA just like me!). Check out her Murderati blog for details. 
 

Friday, May 2, 2008

2008 Award Winners!

Last night was the 62nd annual Edgar Awards banquet. You can visit this site to see all of the nominees for this year's awards (accomplishments in 2007 publications).

Winner for Best Novel was John Hart's Down River. Have not read this one so here is a blurb from the starred review in PW:

"Five years earlier, Adam Chase was arrested for murder, largely on the basis of his stepmother's sworn testimony against him. He was acquitted, but nearly everyone, including his father, still thinks he did it, and Adam's deep bitterness has kept him away from home ever since. Now, at the request of a childhood friend, he's back in Salisbury, N.C., where all the old demons still reside and new troubles await. The almost Shakespearean snarl of family ties is complicated by a very modern struggle between economic progress and love for the land, between haves and have-nots. Throughout, Hart expertly weaves his main theme: that by their freedom of choice, humans are capable of betrayal but also of forgiveness and redemption. This book should settle once and for all the question of whether thrillers and mysteries can also be literature."

Winner for Best First Novel by an American Author was Tana French's In the Woods. This one has been on my to buy list for so long that the only I am waiting on now is the paperback release! Here's another blurb from PW:

"Irish author French expertly walks the line between police procedural and psychological thriller in her debut. When Katy Devlin, a 12-year-old girl from Knocknaree, a Dublin suburb, is found murdered at a local archeological dig, Det. Rob Ryan and his partner, Cassie Maddox, must probe deep into the victim's troubled family history. There are chilling similarities between the Devlin murder and the disappearance 20 years before of two children from the same neighborhood who were Ryan's best friends. Only Maddox knows Ryan was involved in the 1984 case. The plot climaxes with a taut interrogation by Maddox of a potential suspect, and the reader is floored by the eventual identity and motives of the killer. A distracting political subplot involves a pending motorway in Knocknaree, but Ryan and Maddox are empathetic and flawed heroes, whose partnership and friendship elevate the narrative beyond a gory tale of murdered children and repressed childhood trauma."

Tana French's follow-up, The Likeness, is due out in July.

This year's Stoker Awards were handed out on March 30. The winner in the best novel category was Sarah Langan's The Missing, the follow-up to her 2006 title The Keeper which was nominated for Best First Novel in '07. I have read The Keeper and here is my review from Bookbitch.com:

Susan Marley wanders the town of Bedford, Maine, leaving a trail of nightmares in her wake. Everyone in the town thinks of Susan at their worst moments. Thoughts and dreams of her come unbidden and are beyond the townspeople’s control. Then, Susan Marley is dead. Rather than relief, her death brings a plague of darkness and evil to the dying town of Bedford. Those who are able, leave before the worst of it begins. Everyone who remains hides a dark secret in their past, a secret that the dead Susan Marley can now release upon them. Sarah Langan’s Stoker nominated debut is an absolute must for horror fans. This creepy tale will, at times, remind readers of King’s Needful Things. Like King, Langan’s characters are not ideal small town folk. Most of them are barely able to keep their dirty secrets hidden from the prying eyes of gossipy neighbors. It is just this element that makes the people of Bedford more realistic, if grandiose, depictions of the worst sort of people today. Langan has an impressive voice that is all her own. I recommend you lock your doors and curl up with this book late into the night. The Keeper is only the beginning. Langan’s recent follow-up, The Missing, revisits the cursed town of Bedford.

Finally, the 2008 Stoker for Best First Novel went to the very deserving Joe Hill and his Heart Shaped Box in which rocker Jude Coyne, collector of the weird and macabre, orders a ghost on-line. Turns out it was something of a trick, though, and the ghost is hell-bent on revenge against Coyne himself. Joe Hill is the son of horror master King and is already a force to be reckoned with.

It's hard to find new and original stuff that holds up in the horror genre, but Hill has every bit of talent his father does. I loved Heart Shaped Box as did, I believe, every other person who read it. Hill's collection 20th Century Ghosts was another of my favorites last year. The collection features a wide range of stories, not all of them "horror" but every one of them amazing and fantastic. If you are not familiar with Hill just yet, I strongly encourage you to go out and find a copy of one of his books, you won't regret it!