Tuesday, September 30, 2008

When You Need A Lift

You know how some people are glass half full people and others are glass half empty people? Well, I'm more of an Oh my GOD what if that is the last glass of water in the world and someone comes along and knocks it over person. So I really don't take all of this mess that's been coming across the news channels lightly. In fact, I can't even watch the news because I don't have a therapist who can prescribe me the much needed valium it would take to allow me to stop hyperventilating over what I perceive to be the next cause of the end of the world. Yep, it's that bad.

So, I thought that I would take a couple days to recommend some funny reads. Some books that will help you out if you're in a funk like I am. First up on my list would be anything and everything by the perpetually sarcastic Mr. Christopher Moore. 

In spite of my boyfriend's many complaints, I have yet to work my way through the whole Christopher Moore collection, they are on the list though. I have, however, had a chance to read a handful of his books including my personal favorite to date, Dirty Job.

Here's my review from the Bookbitch.com archives:

Charlie Asher has a problem. He's just become a death merchant. Whenever a person dies, their soul is held in an item that was special to them. It is Charlie's job to find collect the soul vessels and help the soul along to its next host. Charlie doesn't know all of this quite yet, though. All he knows is that a seven foot tall black man in a mint green suit was leaning over his wife Rachel just before she died, leaving him to raise their newborn baby girl, Sophie, all alone and apparently, Charlie is the only one who saw the whole thing happen. Matters are more complicated when Lily, one of Charlie's employees at his secondhand shop steals his new instruction manual. Eventually, Charlie gets the hang of his two new jobs as dad and death merchant, but as time goes by Sophie begins to show some strange abilities as well -- any time she points at a person and says the word kitty, they die. Then, something strange happens. People stop dying. At the same time, fellow death merchants in the city are being slaughtered and sightings of strangely dressed skeletal creatures are occurring all over the city. Hilarity ensues as good and evil duke it out in the city of San Francisco for control of the universe. Each new Christopher Moore title is even better than the guiltiest of pleasures and will leave you wanting more.

It's super fun and guaranteed to have you laughing out loud. The even raunchier, Lust Lizards of Melancholy Cove would also be just as effective if you're looking for a little humorous relief these days. 

And, don't forget, tomorrow is the day I will announce the winner of the first grab bag giveaway. You'll need to check back to see if you won - remember, winner gets to pick the grab bag of their choice!

Monday, September 29, 2008

Sometimes you need something short

A really great short story can be so satisfying. I, like many, thought that I really didn't like short stories for a very long time. I blame the stories I had to read in school for this. I was never very impressed with them, and if I did like one I felt like I was being cheated with such a short installment rather than a whole book. I didn't really begin to appreciate them until college. 

My first thought is that there is an appropriate time to read everything. School-age is not the right time for most of the things that students are forced to read. As an adult I can much better understand and appreciate the things that were force fed to me as a kid. And I'm a reader. If I was miserable imagine how non-readers felt!

Anyway, King was of course the man who got me started enjoying short stories. His collect Night Shift is still one of my favorites. I do read King's intros, too, and was very taken in by his own thoughts on short stories. It's become a sort of dying art. Truth be told, I think short stories may be harder for some authors to write than books. Think about it, you have to develop your character and your story in just a matter of pages whereas with a novel you have the whole book to accomplish that task.

Ah well, I think I've written about this before, so I will just go ahead and share with you some of the fantastic collections I've read. 

Today I finished up Laura Lippman's new collection (due out Oct 7) Hardly Knew Her. It's full of twisted tales about manipulative women, strong women, and just plain bad women. It's really fun. I think "Pony Girl" is my absolute favorite! There are three stories featuring PI Tess Monaghan and a novella as well. 

I also really enjoyed these titles:
Jigs & Reels by Joanne Harris - her stories range from sweet and thought-provoking to the strange and supernatural. Highly recommended. She also includes a very insightful intro to each story explaining her inspirations for each tale. Super fun.

Twentieth Century Ghosts by Joe Hill is another fabulous collection. Most of the stories are horror, and they're all wonderful. 

Night Shift by Stephen King, as mentioned above. Many of the old movies based on King's work come from this collection, the title tale and Children of the Corn, just to name a couple.

And of course, the one I keep talking about, Like a Charm ed Karin Slaughter.

I have many more on my shelves to read now that I have learned to love these short tales and even more on my "to buy" lists. And of course, King has a new one due out in November!

Sunday, September 28, 2008

New Releases 9/30

Some of the titles hitting shelves this week include (a long list):

The Replacement Child by Chrisine Barber - debut mystery, winner of the Tony Hillerman Prize. Great debut!
Institutional Memory by Gary Frank - original new horror that's super fun to read
Stealing Trinity by Ward Larsen - WWII spy novel!
A Song for You by Betsy Thornton - a Chloe Newcombe mystery
Irreversible by Liz Maverick - new speculative romance that follows Maverick's SHOMI kick-off title, Wired
Found You by Mary SanGiovanni - follow-up to Stoker nominated The Hollower
Too Close to Home by Linwood Barclay - latest thriller from author of No Time For Goodbye
Hurting Distance by Sophie Hannah - a UK thriller that's waiting for me on my bedside table!
Under the Blood Red Moon by Mina Hepsen - paranormal romance by Turkish author, Hande Zapsu
Company of Liars by Karen Maitland - Canterbury Tales with a new twist
Water Witch by Deborah Leblanc - latest horror from Louisiana based Leblanc
Exposed by Alex Kava
Deadly Night by Heather Graham - first in a new trilogy
The Tenth Case by Joseph Teller - debut legal thriller 
Devil's Closet by Stacy Dittrich - another debut from a new ITW author
Nation by Terry Pratchett
The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman - this is a YA title

New on DVD:
Iron Man
Forgetting Sarah Marshall

Latest reviews at Bookbitch.com:
The Hollower by Mary SanGiovanni
Institutional Memory

It's been a crazy week for me, but I finally finished FL and turned it over for design yesterday. I am celebrating by catching up on all of my reading!


Saturday, September 27, 2008

A Sad Loss

Actor Paul Newman passed away yesterday. I'm saddened by this news. As a big movie buff, I appreciate the magnitude of Newman's theatrical work, but I think that his charitable foundations and contributions are what made him a really great person. 

Here's a link to the NY Times article. 

Not To Be Missed

I found Nancy Pickard back during my days at Waldens. At the time, she was writing a trilogy about a true crime writer. I wish she had had more installments to this series because I absolutely adored it. If you can find them, I highly recommend you seek them out. They are:

The Whole Truth
Ring of Truth
The Truth Hurts

All three Truth titles seem to still be in print. 

Pickard also had an earlier series about amateur sleuth Jenny Cain and continued a series started by Virigina Rich. 

In 2006, Pickard's latest book was released in hardcover. When I saw it I immediately snatched it up and ran home to read. She didn't disappoint. 

The Virgin of Small Plains is a cold case of sorts and the story is told through two different timelines. 

There's the past: 1987 when the body of a teenage girl is found naked in a snowy field. Young Abby Reynolds and her boyfriend were taking the next step in their relationship when Mitch up and disappears. 

Then there's the present: Seventeen years later, Mitch returns and Abby finds herself drawn to him once again. Secrets that the townspeople thought were buried long ago are now beginning to surface and Abby is determined to find out just what caused Mitch to leave in the first place. 

I loved Virgin and was so excited when I had the opportunity to meet Pickard at this year's Left Coast Crime (and get my copy signed, yay!). I wish I could say that Pickard has something new in the works, but I haven't heard anything. One can hope she'll have something out soon, but if you haven't read her yet, you have some time to catch up. 

Friday, September 26, 2008

Finally, A New Book Post!

My experience with Laura Lippman has been one of those, "wow, I can't believe I'm not reading this" experiences. A while back (quite a while back) I had read a few of her Tess Monaghan series. It must have been around my senior year in high school, though, because I didn't buy very many. I had two in the series and that was it. I always had, and still do actually, this guilt in picking up a book that is halfway through a series. I have to read them in order and for some reason was never able to find the books that I was looking for when I was looking for them - hey, I was like 16 or 17 at the time and you just don't have the resources.

Later, when I started working at the bookstore, I got a copy of Every Secret Thing. It was a stand-alone, so there was none of that guilt. 

Even later, right after we had moved to Colorado actually, I received a copy of To the Power of Three. I have to admit, at the time I was a little leery because it was about a school shooting. I'm still leery about that particular subject matter because I always worry about what kind of book I may be picking up. It's a weird thing, I know. Just like I am drawn to certain subjects, I am also turned off by certain ones. Which is strange in this case because I've never read one that would cause me to feel this way. Anyway. It's hard to explain, but I was apprehensive. The book did come with a rave review from the person who had sent it in the first place, and I knew that I liked Lippman so I set aside my fears and found myself utterly engrossed. For once I really didn't mind that we were totally lost heading in the wrong direction for a day trip - until I finished the book in the car, that is. 

To the Power of Three is a stand-alone, not part of the Tess Monaghan series. In the book three friends are involved in a school shooting but no one is sure to what extent. Shots are fired and the three girls are found, two of them wounded and one of them dead. The one girl who's talking is being less than honest, but no one can figure out what she might be hiding. 

It's clear in reading the book just why Lippman is one of the most highly praised mystery writers out there. Her peers, critics, and readers alike all adore her. I do as well. My last trip home I grabbed my four Tess Monaghan books so that I can start over and catch up on the series (I have five now!) and her stand-alones are at the top of my suggested reading lists for others. If you've not read her before, I would urge you to run out and grab To the Power of Three today. Trust me, you'll want to read in one sitting! 

Lippman's latest, Hardly Knew Her, hits shelves next Tuesday. Its a collection of short fiction and a novella that's already getting big buzz. Lippman also contributed to one of my favorite short story collections, Like a Charm check out my post from March for more on that particular title.  

Now I have to go read 'cause I have lots to catch up on!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Food Facts and Trivia

I am a trivia dork. Seriously, any information that is probably of absolutely no use whatsoever except maybe the amusement of bored friends or when drinking, is retained in my brain. Can I tell you important stuff, probably not. 

As I said yesterday, I am in the finishing stages of the FL cookbook, pre-editing that is. This is the part when I get to go through and pick filler info for short pages. Food trivia in other words. I have been known to throw in, for instance, the appropriate number of appetizers you should have per person if it is the only food you are serving (12, by the way) or the internal temperature of med-rare lamb (145, in case you were curious), and other curious facts like because cream pies are not reliant on seasonal ingredients, they are great for making year-round. 

I add tips and variations where I can, as well. I'm not required to test the recipes - they're supposed to be home-cooked recipes anyway so one would hope that they didn't make it up on the fly to send in, but I do have enough cooking knowledge that I can correct recipes that are missing ingredients or such. 

The only really bad thing about working on cookbooks is that I tend to work in a perpetual state of hunger. I'm a food junkie, all the new recipes that come across my desk are potential dishes to make for friends. I've tried quite a few and have others saved up for the future. My stomach rumbles the entire time I am compiling and editing, though. 

Anyway, just thought I would give you a little insight into my day. I'm back to researching the history of artichokes now!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Morning everyone!

My brain is a bit jello-y lately so I have to apologize for no blog yesterday. Sorry. I've got this week to wrap up Florida and I still have a ton to do. I've not been able to do much reading lately either, sad for me. Anyway. Here's another contest link:

Cheryl over at Cheryl's Book Nook has five, yep, five copies of Rush Road Home by Lori Lansens to give away. Head over there and enter to win. Us and Canada only. And don't forget to leave your e-mail addy in the post. 

In the meantime, I'll be pounding away here, creatively writing about Florida B&Bs and interesting food trivia for the new cookbook. Hope to be back to normal very shortly!

Monday, September 22, 2008

Adventures with the Doctor are going to cost what??!!

When I was a kid, my dad would play Doctor Who on PBS and we would all gather 'round and watch. I was exposed to some pretty cool stuff as a kid, I must admit. I had my favorite Doctor back then, but realized that like all PBS BBC shows, the air times were crazy unpredictable. So it was sort-of, "Oh, it's on now! Let's watch." kind of thing. You could never plan on it and you never knew which Doctor you would be watching either.  

When the new Doctor Who with Christopher Eccleston (28 Days Later, Shallow Grave) began airing a few years ago on Sci-Fi Channel, I was super excited. Unfortunately, I could never program my brain for the proper air time. In case you didn't know, air times on Sci-Fi are not adjusted for Mountain time zone. Nope. So in seeing Doctor Who commercials, I'd have to then adjust 2 hours, something I frequently forgot to do, managing to miss enough episodes that I got frustrated and gave up. 

My uncle e-mailed me a few weeks ago telling me that one of his favorite new episodes, Blink, was airing. I was under strict orders to watch (or record, as it were) but managed to screw up yet again, recording an hour of Food Network at 3am. So I promptly put the correct disc in my rental queue and watched yesterday while indexing recipes. My infatuation with the Timelord has been renewed. Unfortunately, I learned that buying the dvds under my current salary is completely out of the question.

Yep, one season of the new Doctor Who will cost you a whopping $99.98. And what, my friends, may I ask, is up with that? I would really like to know! I guess I'll have to satisfy myself with merely renting until I mange to earn enough throwaway cash to spend $400 buying the four seasons that are currently available. Ah, such is life for the monetarily challenged. 

Anyway, I highly recommend renting them on DVD if you aren't a fan already. Unfortunately, it looks like amidst the millions of Stargate spin-offs and Cheez-Whiz original movies that Sci-Fi currently has on their program list, the only time they can squeeze David Tennant (the 10th and current Doctor) and his phone booth is at 5am (EST). So, if you have a TiVo (yet another luxury that I cannot afford) then you can program it in, if not, well... you could join me in the three hour marathons I'll be having with the DVD rentals. Oh, start with Blink, season 3 disc 4. It's super fun. Then you can go back and start with season 1.

Hm, all I need now is to be sucked into the books based on the series... bad, Becky!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

New Releases 9/23

Some of the books hitting shelves this week are:

When Will There be Good News? by Kate Atkinson - third to feature Jackson Brodie. Great mystery that can be read as a stand-alone (as far as I can tell). 
Heat Lightning by John Sandford - new mystery, first to feature Virgil Flowers a departure from Prey series and Lucas Davenport
The Given Day by Dennis Lehane - historical thriller/cop drama (WWI Boston) 
Tsar by Ted Bell - fifth thriller to feature Alex Hawke
Dewey: The Small Town Library Cat Who Touched the World by Vicki Myron and Brett Witter - title really says it all, right? He's a library cat!

New on DVD:
Sex and the City
Run, Fat Boy, Run
Pathology
Deception
Leatherheads

New reviews on Bookbitch.com:
When Will There be Good News?
Night Kill by Ann Littlewood
The Night Villa by Carol Goodman
The Devouring: Sorry Night by Simon Holt
The Forbidden Daughter by Shobhan Bantwal


Friday, September 19, 2008

Another Food Post

So you all know that I am a total foodie. Makes dieting difficult, especially when my job is compiling cookbooks full of home-cooking recipes from B&Bs! I'm not required to test the recipes, but I can never resist trying a ton of them out. And, I just found out that my Georgia advances are in! Here's the pic. 

I also occasionally read Grub Street, the NY Mag food blog. I love it! There are multiple posts daily about anything and everything from which restaurant has tables available at 5pm to what celeb chef is mouthing off where, and even paparazzi pics of Top Chef contestants! I usually read every few days and catch up. It's addicting. It was also a pretty interesting read when I was actually in NY and surrounded by the places they were talking about. 

Anyway, I was reading yesterday about the Top Chef stuff, it's in NY this season so you know they're going to be all over it and I can't wait. I found a post, though, about food bloggers who have been getting more popular thanks to recognition by people in the industry. I posted a link a while back to one of the Gourmet Projects that I particularly like, now I've got to send you over to Smitten Kitchen. It seems some food bloggers have caught the attentions of Ms. Stewart herself and were featured on yesterday's show (I'm not a watcher). I read about it on a 9/12 post at Grub Street.

If you love finding new recipes, Smitten Kitchen is the place for you. I personally am looking forward to trying the Spiced Brownies! Ugh. A food addiction is a terrible thing not to take advantage of. If you suffer like me, share the wealth and cook for others!

Oh, and here's a couple of other things, food related, that I wanted to let you know about. If you watch Food Network, then you know that next week is the Great American Dine Out for Share Our Strength. Basically, if you eat at one of the participating restaurants between 9/21 and 9/28, part of your ticket will be donated by the restaurant to Share Our Strength. Just go here to find out what restaurants are participating in your area. Also, if you try out Ms. Smitten Kitchen's Spiced Brownies, purchase one of Kitchenaid's Susan G. Komen Cook for the Cure plates and join Pass the Plate. You purchase and register your plate online, make something for a friend and pass the plate. When your friend receives the plate, they register online and $5 is donated. They pass the plate, that person registers, and another $5 is donated, and so on. Cool, right?  

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Want Another?


I just got an e-mail from Doug Clegg and for a limited time, if you visit www.DouglasClegg.com you can read the full text of his horror novel, Afterlife, one of the fabulous Harrow novels. If you like it, you can click the link on his page to purchase a special edition put out by Cemetery Dance. 

Not sure how long this one will be available, so you'd better head over there now and take a look. And join his mailing list. He's got a ton of things that he offers to readers and he lets mailing listers know about them first. 

I just love this cover! As I said, Afterlife is one of the Harrow books, a creepy series about a haunted house and so much more. Browse around his website for a list of all of his titles, particularly the ones in this series. 

Super Cool!


I've been reading David Hewson since The Sacred Cut was released in 2005 -  the third book to feature Italian detective, Nic Costa. Upon finishing, I immediately ran out to buy the first two! I kept them in stock at the store for recommendations until they day I left.

What I really like about this series, aside from the obvious appeal the first ones had for anyone and everyone who got a kick out of Da Vinci Code, it's not "the Nic Costa series."  In fact, the series really focuses on the whole cast of characters. (Hewson lists the books as "The Rome Series" which I think is much more appropriate, but I know people still refer to it as the Nic Costa series, it's catchy.)  

The series begins with Season for the Dead which is what prompted this post. It seems Bantam Dell is offering readers the opportunity to read Season for free until October 16. Here's the link. Now I know that reading on your computer can be a pain, but while you're surreptitiously reading this blog at work, maybe you could hit the link and read a bit between phone calls. And maybe, if you like it, you'll go pick up a Nic Costa book!

Like I said, Season is the first book in which Nic and crew make their appearance. The book begins with a death in the Vatican reading room. It's been a while since I've read it, but it's one of those cerebral thrillers based around puzzles and the mysteries of the Vatican (you know, hidden documents kept secret from the outside world and all that). Costa is an expert on Caravaggio (which I find really interesting) and can tell you where each of the man's paintings hang in the famous city. He's also the son of a communist and the shadow forever hangs over him.    

The series continues as follows:

The Villa of Mysteries
The Sacred Cut
The Lizard's Bite
The Seventh Sacrament
The Garden of Evil
Dante's Numbers (UK only right now)

One other book ties in with the series and that is Lucifer's Shadow. This one needs to be read before Lizard's Bite as it does concern some of the same characters. Consequently, Lizard is the first book in the series in which Nic and partner leave Rome. Both Lizard and Lucifer take place in Venice where the two are sent after getting into trouble in Sacred Cut.  

I've not read the whole series just yet. I've got Seventh Sacrament waiting for me and Garden of Evil was just released this June, though, so I'm not too far behind. I suggest you check out the freebie, it'll hook you right away I promise, and then rush to catch up!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

A movie post

I've been watching a lot of tv on dvd lately, and haven't been to the theaters in a few weeks. I did watch this one the other day, though, and I really, really liked it. 

The Life Before Her Eyes is about two high school girls, a school shooting, and what comes after. Sort of. See, there's a great twist at the end of this movie and lots of hints along the way. Uma Thurman and Evan Rachel Wood play Diana McPhee. She's headstrong and a little bit of a rebel, but grows up to become an art teacher. She's married to a philosophy professor and has a daughter of her own. The movie begins 15 years after a tragic school shooting that occurred at Diana's high school. Eva Amurri plays Diana's best friend, Maureen. The movie flips back and forth between Diana's life and the events leading up to the shooting. 

I love how the flashbacks really don't play out in sequence. They start with the shooting and bounce back and forth through Diana and Maureen's friendship. While this is a very emotionally exhausting film to watch, I thought that it was terrific. I loved the story, the characters, the style, I didn't love crying my head off at the end, but what can you do?

The Life Before her Eyes is based on the book by Laura Kasischke. I'm not familiar with her work, but she's got four other adult novels and two YA novels out, the most recent of which is Feathered, a story about three high school girls on spring break in Cancun. 

So, if you're in the mood for a somewhat depressing thriller - c'mon it's about a school shooting! - check this one out. It's well worth the tears. 

You know, I can't for the life of me remember what DVD I first saw the previews for this movie on. I know I also saw previews for Quid Pro Quo and Mister Foe. I've got Quid here and Foe is not out yet. I'll let you know how they both turn out. All three are put out by Magnolia Pictures. Others coming soon and already saved in my rental queue are Timecrimes and Let the Right One In, based on John Ajvide Lindqvist's Scandinavian vampire book of the same name (Let Me In in the states).

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Giveaway Links!

Because who doesn't like free books, right?

Lori over at Lori's Reading Corner is giving away a copy of the wonderfully chilling new thriller from Chelsea Cain Sweetheart. You have until Sept 25 to enter for this one, US only, and you must leave your e-mail or blog address with your entry.

Jenn over at Jenn's Bookshelf is giving away 5 (yes 5!) copies of Alice Sebold's Almost Noon (US and Canada only). You have until noon on Sept 20 to submit your name for this one and have to include your e-mail addy with your entry.  

Icedream over at Reading in Appalachia is giving away a copy of Brunonia Barry's debut The Lace Reader and Billie Letts's Shoot the Moon. Both contests are open until 9/30.

I know there's a ton more out there. Icedream also has a link to other giveaways and J Kaye is really great at listing them over on J. Kaye's Book Blog

So fellow book junkies, get to entering!

Oh, and I know I've posted this one here before, but HarperCollins Avon imprint does a monthly drawing for a funky bag with a few of their titles. Check it out here to enter. 

Grab Bag Giveaways!

Hi everyone. I've been cleaning off my shelves and have some books to give away between now and December 1. Here's the way it's going to work:

I've got 5 Romance Grab Bags:

Historical (2 books)
Linda Lael Miller (2 books)
Sportsmen (2 contemporaries with a sort-of sports theme)
Adventure (2 books)

I will draw one name on the 1st and the 15th of October and November - you'll have until the night before to get your name in. I will announce the winner that day and that person will get to e-mail me and let me know which pack they want. The next month's winner will have 3 packs to choose from and so on. These are all new books that have been or are going to be released this year.

So, between now and September 30, submit your name in a comment on this post and from that, I will draw for the October 1st giveaway. You'll need to check back that day to see if you've won. We'll start the next drawing on October 2 and so on. 

December 1, I'll be giving away a three book Christmas pack. I won't tell you the titles that are included in the packs - they're grab bags - but like I said, they are all new romance titles. 

Good luck!

Monday, September 15, 2008

In a mood and looking for something to read.


HELP!

When I was about 14-15, not yet driving really, my mom began bribing me with books. Not for grades or anything like that, but I have three little sisters and she didn't want to leave me alone with them babysitting so she would hire an official babysitter and, knowing three babies are a handful, would ask me to help out rather than disappear in my bedroom. Mom was also very perceptive about my moods and nothing perked me up faster than a new book. 

It was at this time that I began reading through the entire Dean Koontz collection. Every Saturday, mom would buy me three new ones and I'd finish them over the course of the week, just in time for the next trip to the bookstore.

I don't really read Koontz anymore. The last one that I really, really enjoyed was The Face in 2003. My tastes have changed and Koontz's writing has changed. I particularly enjoyed the more paranormal titles of past years. Midnight, Phantoms, Lightning, and Strangers as well as Key to Midnight, Dark Rivers of the Heart, and Door to December are some that stand out for me now (and Icebound but for very different reasons). The Odd books are ok, but I find that in this case, his new direction doesn't fit what I really want from him right now. Doesn't mean I won't pick one up in the future (I've read others since Face and am not terribly behind anyway) but I'm using him as an example of what I am in the mood for right at this instant. 

I find that no one now, that I know of, is really writing like this. I adore Stephen King and his are always chock full of weird, paranormal horror. But at the moment I'm really in the mood for something a little along the lines of X-Files or the new show Fringe. I saw a preview for the new Nicholas Cage movie,  Knowing, and was pretty upset when it turned out it wasn't based on a book. 

I have nothing in my extensive collection that is along these lines, at least as far as I know. I'm hoping someone out there can make a recommendation for something that's a bit sci-fi, but mostly creepy paranormal horror/thriller/mystery for me to read. I know, I'm being kind of vague. If you saw the premiere of Fringe or if you hop on over to the link for Knowing it'll help a little. Know this, I've read all the Koontz and all of mine are in storage four states away so re-reading is not an option. It's really hindering my reading! It's hard for me to get into anything when I know I want something in particular. I've read the X-Files novelizations so those are out as well. Hopefully you guys can come up with something fairly new for me. If it's got psychic stuff as well that would be super cool. Agh, there I go being vague again! Sorry. 

Sunday, September 14, 2008

New Releases 9/16


The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson - A fabulous first mystery from a brilliant man. The book is to be followed by two more - already bestsellers in Sweden. Unfortunately, Larsson passed away in 2004. I love this book and can't recommend it highly enough!
Lost Girls by George D. Shuman - Latest in the Sherry Moore series and deals with human trafficking. Brutal.
The Killing Circle by Andrew Pyper - an interesting read similar in subject to Jincy Willett's Writing Class, but only in the beginning! Loved it.
In Hovering Flight by Joyce Hinnefeld - a mother daughter tale that's also the top Indie Bound Indie Next pick of the month. 
The Other Queen by Philippa Gregory - it's Mary, Queen of Scots turn
Brisingr by Christopher Paolini - the long awaited third installment of The Inheritance Cycle.
Paul of Dune by Brian Herbert -  a must-read for Dune fans. Herbert's son is finally telling the tale that immediately follows Dune. 

New on DVD:
Made of Honor
Speed Racer
88 Minutes

New reviews up at Bookbitch.com:
The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo
Lost Girls
The Killing Circle
The House At Riverton by Kate Morton
The Last Queen by C.W. Gortner

Saturday, September 13, 2008

So Much Catching Up To Do!

Sometimes I feel so sadly and utterly behind in everything! Work's been crazy what with Fl piddling around and then all the storms that hit. I really did my darndest to pull in what I could before June 1, but it seems the citizens of the Sunshine State were bound and determined to drag their feet on this one. 

I've come to the end, though, with recipe collecting and now have just over 2 weeks to wrap up all my creative writing and turn it in for design. All I can hope is that the book turns out well. 

Add to that the fact that I have family being affected by all these storms. My immediates are at my grandmothers house riding out Ike at the moment. Hopefully no issues to their own home, but where they are right now is a bit further inland. My sisters would be enjoying the time off of school if it weren't for the whole mess of evacuations. The worst of it is that the youngest twin's dog ran away as soon as they got to my grandmother's, and they didn't grab enough to read to tide them over until they can go home. So, nothing really to take her mind off the fact that her baby is gone.

So, I didn't want to depress anyone with this post. I merely wanted to point out that a lot has been going on! Agh! It's enough to make you scream.

I have some catching up on reading to do as well. Some of the books sitting on my bedside table (all multiple titles in recent series for this post) are:

Sheila Lowe's first two Claudia Rose books. 
Lilith Saintcrow's first two Jill Kismet titles. 
The first two Ray Sharp books by Bleak House's Eric Stone
And the first two Kate Atkinson books that feature Jackson Brodie will have to be read after I read her latest, When Will There Be Good News?
Kathy Reichs's two latest Tempe Brennan books also beckon for my attentions.

If you've ever peeked at my Shelfari shelf, you will see that I suffer terribly from literus parinoius (yes, I made that up) in which I believe that I will one day run out of things to read and so must horde books in preparation. Sadly, it's an incurable illness that can only be helped by feeding the constant need and continuously replenishing any books that I do happen to finish. So, I read 5 books this week and turned around and bought 5 more. 

Yeah, I'm not alone! One day, I will catch up and then I'll have all these fabulous books for the junior junkies to get a start on, too! In the meantime, I'm going to read before I fall asleep. 

Friday, September 12, 2008

Unprepared!

I'm totally not at my best at the moment. I've had very little sleep thanks to, I don't know, the crazy alignment of the moons? Anyway. In the midst of my insomnia last night, I did have some great company. Stieg Larsson's U.S. debut hits shelves on Tuesday and I was lucky enough to get an ARC. 

The book has been generating quite a bit of buzz. I've read much of it, but still managed to go into this book without a real idea as to what it was about. It's the first in a trilogy and was originally published in 2005. Unfortunately, Larsson died that same year. The books are already bestsellers in Sweden, and American (and UK) audiences are finally getting their chance with this gem of a detective novel. 

The trilogy, called the Millennium Series, consists of this title, The Girl Who Played with Fire (due out 2009) and Castles in the Sky (due out 2010, possibly with a new title). 

I'm about a quarter of the way into the book and fighting a raging headache, so I'll have to delay any real reviewing at the moment. If you will recall, I did post something right after I received the book, and you can read a brief blurb that comes directly from Larsson's official site. Here's the old post

I can tell you that the girl in question, who is not mentioned in that blurb, is ace PI Lisbeth Salander. As I learn more about her character, I become even more intrigued with where the book and the trilogy are heading. I'll follow up as soon as I've finished reading and will be reviewing the book this weekend for the bookbitch. 

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Jenn Tagged Me!

My fellow Bookbitch reviewer, Jenn over at Jenn's Bookshelf, tagged me!

Here are the rules: I am going to list three categories of books. 3 MUST Read Books, 3 Keep Your Eyes on These, and 3 Look For These Soon. Keeping with the theme, I am going to tag at least 3 bloggers. They should put these same lists on their blog but SUBTRACT one book from each list and ADD one of their own. Then they should tag at least 3 more bloggers. It will be fun to see how the lists change as they go around the blogosphere. Please come back to this post and leave a comment so I can see how the lists are changing.

Since this is Book Buzz…please keep your lists to titles released in 2007-2009.
So, here goes…[asterisks are next to my additions]

3 Must Read Books:
*Duma Key by Stephen King
Black Swan Green, by David Mitchell
The Lace Reader, by Brunonia Barry

3 Keep Your Eyes on These:
*Stalking Susan by Julie Kramer
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, by Mary Ann Shaffer
The Keepsake, by Tess Gerritsen

3 Look For These Soon:
*The Dark Volume by Gordon Dahlquist
When Will There Be Good News? by Kate Atkinson
The Fire by Katherine Neville

And I am tagging:

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Some interesting insight

I frequently check Publishing Insider to read Carl's musings on publishing and the world in general. Carl Lennertz led the marketing portion of the publishing course that I took last summer (Denver Publishing Institute). Anyway, I've been listening to this, a discussion with three HC mystery/thriller editors led by Carl. If you're curious about how publishing works and what editors need to consider when doing their jobs, take a listen. 

Psychic Detectives

George D. Shuman's debut mystery, 18 Seconds, literally burst onto the scene. An instant darling of the mystery community, it seemed every time I turned around I was hearing how fantastic this book was. And rightfully so. It was fantastic. It was before my reviewing time, but I did write in my book journal that it was recommended by Stephen King and that I hoped it would become a series. 

I like to use my own reviews here, but I'm currently reading the third, and upcoming title in the series, Lost Girls. So, to get new readers interested, here's what PW had to say:

Beautiful, blind Sherry Moore is matter-of-fact when telling two police detectives about her agonizing gift—the ability to see the last 18 seconds of a dead person's life. It's not supernatural, in her telling; it's science imperfectly understood. It's also the defining characteristic of Sherry's life; orphaned and injured at a young age, she cannot say no to the bereft who want her help in solving gruesome crimes. Shuman is a 20-year veteran of the Washington, D.C., police force, and his debut novel mercilessly depicts the horror wrought by serial killer Earl Sykes, who specializes in young women out for a good time at the New Jersey shore. Narrative relief from a litany of horrific crimes comes when the scene shifts to Sherry's tender relationship with a married police detective, and to police lieutenant Kelly Lynch-O'Shaughnessy's marital struggles. While the large number of characters and cross-cutting of their perspectives leads to occasional confusion, the vividly drawn central figures and authoritative voice keep the reader grimly committed.

I'm a big fan of the paranormal mysteries, I just can't seem to get enough of them as long as they're well written. I would say that Shuman ranks up there with my faves, Stephen Woodworth and Terri Persons. (I still have Diane Emley's debut on my reading shelf as well.) 

When I was in New York last year, I took a special trip to The Strand bookstore and bought Shuman's second book, Last Breath. I read most of it that afternoon while waiting for my friends to get home from work, curled up in their apartment while it rained outside and their cat kept me company. Finished it on the plane the next day, btw.

And now to Lost Girls. Seeing as how I always want readers to start with book number one, I won't tell you much about it. It is pretty good so far, and pretty shocking to say the least. It involves human traffickers in Haiti. It's also pretty short. 

Fringe update: If you missed the first episode then shame on you. It rocked! If you were and X-Files fan, you'll definitely want to keep up with this one. No worries if you missed tonight, the premiere is supposed to re-run on Sunday.  

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Another TV Blog

So FOX has already begun their new season and tonight's 'is it gonna hook me and then die' show is JJ Abram's new one, Fringe. Personally, I think Abrams is planning on taking over the world one show at a time. Of his shows, I've been totally addicted to both Alias and Lost. I expect Fringe to be much the same for me. 

Fringe airs tonight in a 2-hour premier. Here's what the official FOX site has to say:

When an international flight lands at Boston's Logan Airport with no signs of life, FBI Special Agent OLIVIA DUNHAM (Anna Torv) is called in to investigate as part of an inter-agency task force. After her partner, Special Agent JOHN SCOTT (Mark Valley), is nearly killed during the investigation, a desperate Olivia searches frantically for someone to help, leading her to DR. WALTER BISHOP (John Noble), our generation's Einstein. There's only one catch: he's been institutionalized for the last 17 years, and the only way to question him requires pulling his estranged son PETER (Joshua Jackson) in to help.

When Olivia's investigation leads to multi-billion dollar corporation Massive Dynamic and its manipulative corporate executive, NINA SHARP (Blair Brown), our unlikely trio, along with Department of Homeland Security Agent PHILLIP BROYLES (Lance Reddick) and FBI Agents CHARLIE FRANCIS (Kirk Acevedo) and ASTRID FARNSWORTH (Jasika Nicole), will discover that what happened on Flight 627 is only a small piece of a larger, more shocking truth.

So far I've seen positive reviews of the show. It airs tonight at 7pm (central) and will eventually be up against CBS's The Mentalist, NBC's Kath and Kim/Biggest Loser (I believe), the CW's new 90210, and ABC's Dancing with the Stars. So not really sure that it will have any true competition. The question will be whether the X-Files fans and JJ Abrams followers will tune in enough to appease the FOX execs. 

In other FOX tv news, and in follow-up to yesterday's post, the season premier of Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles was fantasatic! Shirley Manson (of Garbage) appeared in the ep and will be in at least one more. She also sang the intro song during the whole fight sequence that's a continuation (sort-of) of the end of the finale in season one. IT WAS FREAKING COOL! So, rent it on dvd and catch up. I think you can watch most of these shows online now. Not sure, haven't attempted to watch FOX online since they cancelled Drive. I'll have some sort of follow-up on Fringe tomorrow.

Oh, and other crappy FOX planning news: Bones season 3 is not due out on dvd until October and yet the show started last week. Thanks FOX for not letting me catch up like everyone else before your new shows air. 

Monday, September 8, 2008

One of the Coolest Shows You Should Catch Up On

I know, I know. Most of you probably tried this one out of curiosity and "couldn't get into it." Am I right? I did the same. In the show's defense (and mine) it's kind of hard for me to get excited about anything that comes on FOX. They are by far the single worst network about canceling shows that haven't been given a fair shot. Drive, Firefly, Tru Calling, Freaky Links, the list just goes on and on. 

Seeing that The Sarah Connor Chronicles was coming back for a second season set my mind at ease just a tiny bit. I know some shows are hanging on a little longer because of the fallout from the writers' strike. I hope I'm not the kiss of death on this one now that I'm watching!

I am a HUGE fan of the entire Terminator franchise. I love, love, love the movies. My parents were a bit strict about rated R films when I was a kid, but I was watching Terminator at 13. I begged, I nagged, I finally won that battle. I hit the T2 ride at Universal and was happy as a clam. I knew, after walking out of Rise of the Machines that there would have to be another movie, and I am so glad that there is. I even went so far as to buy the novelizations by SM Stirling that came out in between movies 2 and 3. So I was totally psyched when I heard that they were making a tv show. I was a bit dejected to hear it was coming on FOX. I was super glad to find, though, that the DVDs are very reasonably priced. I rented the first and then went out and bought the set today. Buyer's remorse has set in, but we spent a good part of this evening watching the rest of the 9 episode first season. 

The show takes place in between T2 and Rise of the Machines. Summer Glau (Firefly/Serenity) plays Cameron, the latest Terminator to be sent back to help John Connor. Lena Headey (300 and The Cave) takes up Linda Hamilton's role as Sarah Connor, and Thomas Dekker (Zach from Heroes) plays the famous John Connor. The story begins with another attempt on John's life after Sarah makes the mistake of letting someone get too close to the two of them. She is engaged and decides to break things off and run, but her poor fiance doesn't know anything about her past. He goes looking for her and is ultimately the reason both the feds and the terminators are once again on the hunt. Cameron helps them and takes them to a bank where a weapon has been stored. Also stored is a way out - a way to 2007. Tired of running, Sarah and John decide instead to once again try to track down and stop Skynet before it is too late. 

I'm just loving it. I can't wait until movie four hits the big screen, but I'll be perfectly happy with weekly installments as long as they last. Season two premiers tomorrow night. 

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Coming 9/9

Some of the titles hitting shelves this week are:

Anathem by Neil Stephenson 
Keepsake by Tess Gerritsen - latest in the Rizzoli series (I want it!) 
Hot, Flat, and Crowded by Thomas Friedman

Wow is this a dead week or what? I can't even find any DVD releases this week (except the latest CSI Miami season).

New reviews up at Bookbitch.com:
Duma Key by Stephen King
Ghostgirl by Tonya Hurley
The Lost Diary of Don Juan by Douglas Carlton Abrams
Heretic's Daughter by Kathleen Kent

Movies hitting screens on Friday:
Burn After Reading
Righteous Kill
The Women

Saturday, September 6, 2008

I wish I had HBO

I wish that I could be one of those viewers tuning in this Sunday to the premier of HBO's newest original series, but I won't be. No, I'll have to wait until the show comes out on dvd and until then will have to satisfy myself by reading the books. 

I've not read Charlaine Harris's series at all just yet. I decided that now was the best time to start so that I would feel like I wasn't missing out too much. And, until the dvd does hit shelves roughly one year from now, I'll be incredibly jealous of all of you who do get to watch it (mom!).

If you're like me and you still haven't read these books, and want to read along, here's a little bit about the series:

Sookie Stackhouse lives in Bon Temps, Louisiana, where she works as a waitress at Merlotte's, the local dive. She's also psychic. Vamps have been out and socially about for four years, but Sookie has yet to meet one of her very own, until now. Bob walks into her bar and Sookie realizes that unlike everyone else, she can't hear his thoughts at all. And then she has to save him from people looking to drain him for his blood - the next big thing in mind blowing drugs for humans. Add to that a series of murders in town that may or may not be the result of the vic's vamp "relationships" and you've got one of the first series of this kind.

Sure they're all over these days, but Dead Until Dark first hit shelves in 2001, Laurel K. Hamilton's debut Anita Blake title, Guilty Pleasures, came out in 1993, and Jim Butcher's first Harry Dresden title, Storm Front, came out in 2000. By contrast, Kim Harrison's Dead Witch Walking didn't hit shelves until 2004. These are, in my opinion, the beginning of today's booming urban fantasy genre. The Sookie Stackhouse books go in my stack of "I can't believe it's taken me this long to read this!" stack. 

I've got the first three here and over a year to catch up on all 8 books in the series thus far. 

Friday, September 5, 2008

Add it to your list, you know you wanna!

Gordon Dahlquist's debut hit shelves in August of 2006 after huge buzz. Unfortunately, the buzz didn't hit the right people. Underground murmurings and devoted fans are what will make this a lasting cult classic, but I wish that it had maintained the expected momentum right out of the gates. I can tell you this, I picked the book up I can't tell you how many times before I finally purchased it. I was sorry I had waited even that long. 

It's tough in the book business for people to figure out how to market something that is unique. I've said it before, and I believe it wholeheartedly, there is great potential for exposing readers to a slew of new authors simply because you can usually make a recommendation using a familiar work. Glass Books of the Dream Eaters is one that unfortunately slips through the cracks, though. 

For me, it was completely different from everything that I had ever read. How then, do you market something that is unlike anything out there? It's a problem faced industry wide and that's why they beat trends to death. That's another post, though. This is meant to expose you to one of the most phenomenal books that you have never read!

Here's my review from Bookbitch.com - it's cryptic and vague for such a complex read, but hopefully your curiosity will be piqued: 

When Roger Bascombe abruptly breaks off their engagement, Celeste Temple is determined to discover why. She follows him to a strange mansion in the countryside where glamorous masked guests view a strange demonstration. From that moment on, Miss Temple’s life is forever changed. Cardinal Chang, known for his scarlet colored coat and the violent scars that cover his face, has been hired to kill a certain soldier. Chang finds the soldier, already dead by someone else’s hand. Doctor Abelard Svenson has been charged with the safety and well being of the Prince of Macklenburg, until he loses his prince. These three unlikely allies will soon find themselves fighting together against an evil cabal and the invention that would allow them to rule the world. Dahlquist’s grand and ambitious novel is an intricate work of art and a perfect debut.

In the time since, I have learned that this book most likely fits best in the steampunk genre. Wikipedia says "Steampunk is a subgenre of fantasy and speculative fiction that came into prominence in the 1980s and early 1990s. The term denotes works set in an era or world where steam power is still widely used—usually the 19th century, and often set in Victorian era England—but with prominent elements of either science fiction or fantasy, such as fictional technological inventions like those found in the works of H.G. Wells and Jules Verne, or real technological developments like the computer occurring at an earlier date." More specifically, it's classified as quasi-Victorian. Don't let the terms scare you, though, readers who enjoyed Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell will probably love this one as much as I did.  

I read this book, sick as a dog, in just a few days and fell in love. It was strange and fascinating and utterly engaging. I was drawn into Dahlquist's world and was sad to see it end. I loaned it to a friend and she was surprised, it was not what she had expected, especially coming as a recommendation from me. She called me this evening and told me that Dahlquist's new book is now showing up in the bookstore system, slated for release in March. I'll be one of the first to order my copy, but you'll have plenty of time to be captivated by Glass Books, too. The paperback hits shelves in January so add it to your must buy list and don't forget! 

Until then, I'll be holding my breath and hoping I can snag an early copy of The Dark Volume

Thursday, September 4, 2008

How I Spent my Labor Day Vacation


So as you all know, I spent my weekend squeezing in some King time around my reviews books. It had to be done and I'm not sure why I allowed myself to wait this long. It was fantastic. Shot straight to the top of my favorite books ever list! It shares company with some well deserved titles, I think. 

Duma Key is the story of one Edgar Freemantle. Eddie made his mark as a big wig in the building biz in Minnesota. Life is good for the Freemantle clan until Eddie's truck, and Eddie, are smashed by a reversing crane. Eddie suffers multiple injuries, the worst of which include having his right arm amputated and the severe head trauma that he suffers. He's left with short term memory problems, a temper like no other, and months of physical therapy. Then his wife announces that she is leaving him. Edgar's docs suggest two things: 1. that he find something that he loves, and 2. a change of scenery. Edgar decides Duma Key is the place for him. He rents a home on the nearly secluded beach and begins to heal. Unfortunately, Duma Key is not quite the paradise that it seems. There is something evil lurking on the island. Something niggling at Edgar's brain, something that hasn't fully made itself known just yet. 

Agh! I am now suffering from the dreaded Stephen King withdrawal! It happens to me every time. I read one and I get totally sucked in and then it's all I want to read and nothing else quite compares. It dissipates after a while if I don't feed the urge that is. Trust me, I am sorely tempted to snatch up one of the few books I've been hoarding for moments like this. I'd like to reread Salems Lot or some of the short stories that I've not read yet. Ah, I may just have to wait it out, though. Just After Sunset is hitting shelves November 11. I think I can survive until then, and if not, I have the resources to keep me going. 

Until then, if you haven't read Duma, you need to. I just wish that I could visit Duma Key myself!


Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Babylon A.D.

Ok, I have to stray from my strictly good reviews policy to talk about Babylon A.D. and yes, it was a big disappointment. 

First off, I had pretty high expectations of this film. I personally really like Vin Diesel and director Mathieu Kassovitz is one that I plan to stick by even after this film. Kassovitz is a French actor (Amelie, Munich) and director (Crimson Rivers, Gothika). I wanted this movie to be great and was pretty disappointed to see that it came in at only 90 minutes. Seeing as how even an avid movie buff like me feels the pinch when buying movie tickets, I decided to see a matinee and save a few bucks, for an hour and a half, I didn't want to pay night time prices. 

I bought my popcorn, found my seat front and center, and sat back expecting some sort of greatness. I didn't get it. In the movie, Vin Diesel plays Toorop, a mercenary hired to transport a girl from Mongolia to the United States. The movie is based on the book Babylon Babies by Maurice Dantec. At 544 pages you might be scratching your head like I did wondering how they could cut it down so much. Well, I was right. The movie makes no sense. It's way too complex of a story to be told in 90 minutes and I left feeling totally lost. To make matters worse, it was obvious in viewing the movie that they were trying for a PG-13 rating on what should have been a rated R film. 

I had not intended to post here about it, and instead only posted on MySpace in regards to my thoughts on the film. I feel less guilty about it after reading this and the link imbedded in the article. In the SciFi Scanner article that Yahoo links to, you can see that Kassovitz's complaints mirror my own. 

I was hoping that there would be a possibility of an unrated director's cut dvd hitting shelves later on. We'll see if that happens. Like I said, I'll be sticking by Kassovitz and Diesel considering the fact that my complaints have little to do with either of them. I guess I'll just have to read the book that so inspired Kassovitz in order to find out what was really supposed to be going on.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Fall TV Lineup

I'm a tv person. I read, I watch movies, and I still watch network television. Yep, I have my TV schedule and my shows that I HAVE to watch (because I'm too impatient to wait for DVD for most!). So I get all excited when the new TV schedules for Fall come out. Here's what I'll be watching (new shows and old):

Mondays: Chuck and Samantha Who? Both returning from last season. 
Chuck is a fun and goofy spy show. 
I adore Samantha Who? Christina Applegate plays Sam Newly who suffers from amnesia thanks to getting hit by a car. Turns out Sam wasn't very nice before the accident. As she learns who she was and who she wants to be hilarity ensues. Normally I don't really watch the 30 min sitcoms. I feel like they're just too short. In all honesty, I wish this one were an hour long. I crack up each episode. 
Tuesdays: Fringe and The Mentalist 
JJ Abrams new show, Fringe, tops my list of newbies to check out. Looks a bit like X-Files and I was a big fan of that one.
The Mentalist is one that I'm curious about. I haven't heard much about it, but it looks like a detective show of sorts and stars Simon Baker and Robin Tunney (among others).
Wednesdays: The return of Pushing Daisies, Bones, and CSI NY
Now that I'm caught up on NY and almost caught up on Bones, I'm looking forward to watching them when they actually air.
Daisies was one of my faves from last season and I am very glad to see it return (mad crush on Lee Pace!). 
Thursdays: Ugly Betty, Grey's, and CSI are back (Grey's and CSI are my two fave shows and they do conflict, but thank GOD for ONDemand!). New ones to watch are the US remakes of Eleventh Hour and Life on Mars.
Fridays: New shows Crusoe and The Ex-List look interesting. I don't usually watch tv on Fridays, not sure why.
Saturdays: Another no TV night for me.
Sundays: Desperate Housewives

So of the new ones, there are a few on my list. I try not to get too excited about them anymore, though. The networks (FOX especially) are notorious for canceling before the first season is even up. Joss Whedon's The Dollhouse is also up soon, but not sure when. HBO has TruBlood, which I will have to wait for. And of course there's my reality show lineup with Top Chef and Iron Chef America. New seasons to come.

So now you know just how much of a TV dork I am. No doubt some of these will be recorded and caught up on on boring weekend afternoons when I want to nap! : )