Thursday, December 31, 2009

Is it just me?

I've bumped some things up the TBR pile lately and ordered a few things with gift certificates, as you saw in yesterday's post, and I've noticed that three of my authors seem to be pretty good friends and ALL LIVE IN SEATTLE?! Seriously, is Starbucks doing something up there to create the urban fantasy mafia?

As I said in the Mark Henry post, I only realized after ordering Happy Hour of the Damned with the other Cherie Priest books that they both live in that rainy corner of Washington state, but then I was checking out Richelle Mead's site and saw that she's in Seattle as well. And Henry, Mead, Henry's wife, and Tor editor Heather Osborn just took a pretty interesting trip up to Forks that you can check out on their respective Twitter (or FB) accounts.

Now, I can't review Mead's titles just yet, because although she's been bumped up the TBR, I haven't had a chance to start Succubus Blues (she's also the author of the Dark Swan series and the Vampire Academy series, which I'm pretty sure the JJs have delved into), but I did recently order this one.

Actually, I was looking for this book for some time. Had a ton of credit at a bookstore thanks to some big purchases and earned points, and kept going in looking for Mead, and she was never in stock. So I finally gave up and ordered it last month.

Considering how much I've enjoyed both Priest and Henry so far, and considering they all have gotten the same big buzz and praise from my reading peers as well as their fellow authors, I'm sure she's going to rock! Maybe it's something in the water up there...

Anywho, Happy New Year's Eve! Here's to a great 2010 and to keeping New Year's resolutions! Don't know what mine will be yet, but I'm sure they'll be things that I should commit to this coming year.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Dirty Zombie Fun

After I finished reading Cherie Priest's first Eden Moore book, I had to place an order for the next two. To round out the order, though, I decided to add Mark Henry's Happy Hour of the Damned to the package. Little did I know...

Henry and Priest are Seattle buds. And Henry, while very different in style, is equally praised by his writing peers. Note to self, authors have great taste!

So the box arrived and I jumped into Happy Hour, and it was such raunchy fun! I mean, I'm kind of a prude normally and there were definitely some parts that pushed my limit (not hard). I couldn't get over how freaking hilarious it was, though! It's like Christopher Moore hilarious. The kind of dark hilarious that you feel guilty about. And I enjoyed it to the extreme.

(I imagine hanging out with Mark Henry must be like having a real life Vince Masuka--from Dexter--around.)

Happy Hour of the Damned is the first book to introduce the incomparable Amanda Feral, a flesh-eating ghoul with fashion sense. You want Amanda on your side, because God help you if you piss her off! When one of her fellow paranormal friends appears to have gone missing under questionable circumstances (a text reading "Help" being the first clue), Amanda and her other friends set off to help. But signs are starting to point at a possible zombie outbreak when local Starbucks are attacked by accidental zombies -- a zombie can be intentionally made by very few. Amanda was intentional, though she's not entirely sure why. Accidental zombies are of the Night of the Living Dead variety, stumbling around in search of "Brains!"

Mark Henry definitely has an original style and is hitting a corner of the urban fantasy market that's not really being done right now. I know I compared him to Christopher Moore earlier, and that's really the closest comparison I can think of, but I think that Henry may just be dirtier and even more twisted than Moore. If that's possible (check out Moore's Lust Lizards f Melancholy Cove for dirty Moore). So don't say you weren't warned if you pick this one up and find yourself squirming with discomfort as you laugh your ass off!

Happy Hour is being re-released in mass market (it's in trade paperback right now) in February. Book 2 is Road Trip of the Living Dead (en route to my house as we speak) and book 3, Battle of the Network Zombies, hits shelves in March.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

A Muse-ic Post


I know, I know, I'm a total dork for that title. I know. I can't help it. I'M GOING TO SEE MUSE!!!

Week before last, I noticed a post on Facebook by Silversun Pickups re new tour dates. SSPU is a band I discovered this year while listening to the very short-lived, excellent Denver alternative station that sadly is no longer. (Someone had the bright idea that a station actually playing more than the standard rotation would be better served by changing to conservative talk radio. Ugh.) Anywho, I found some great new bands in the little time that I was able to tune in and SSPU was just one of them.

I nearly fell out of my seat when I saw that this leg of the Resistance tour is hitting Denver. A friend from high school saw Muse in Germany a few months back and I couldn't help but be insanely jealous. I haven't been to a show since we moved out here. I'm broke half the time and there haven't been any big shows that I wanted to spend the cash on. And how much better can you get than Silversun Pickups and Muse, I ask. Not very.

Back when Absolution was released, "Time is Running Out" was one of my mandatory jukebox picks. Yes, I used to cash in for rolls of quarters to play pool and load up the playlist back in the very short few months that I hit bars after graduating college. But I wasn't quite addicted yet. It was later when I realized just how much Danny Boyle enjoyed using them in his films -- ever have those, "what was that song?!," moments while watching commercials or movies? Yeah, for me, the answer seemed to be coming up Muse more often than not. They were a significant addition to my music collection considering I bought three cds (one being Hullabaloo Soundtrack, a two-disc set) all in one month.

I'm getting very adept at pointing out Muse moments these days. "Resistance" has been in no less than three commercials that I've seen lately -- the trailer for V, the Scream awards on Spike, and the trailer for the new Tom Cruise/Cameron Diaz movie, Knight and Day (and the song is the best part of the trailer). Back when Sunshine was released, I picked out "Shrinking Universe" in seconds. And the train robbery scene in Millions, yep, happily Muse as well. ("Hysteria" if you're curious, and then "Blackout" as well.) BTW, Millions (and all of Danny Boyle's films for that matter) is a great movie. Check it out. Much more family friendly than his usual fare.

And how could I miss Twilight and New Moon? Stephenie Meyer proudly admitted that Muse was on her own playlist while writing. They even contribute to Guitar Hero. Sometimes, when I listen to "Knights of Cydonia," I can't help but see the colored keys when I close my eyes!

And I get to go see them! Did I forget to mention that I snagged tix? I totally did. Now I just have to wait four months to actually see the show. I've been gearing up by watching the Live at Wembley Stadium videos on Muse's official Youtube page. And, yes, strange as the "Undisclosed Desires" video is, it has quickly become my favorite song on the new album.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Pre Pub Book Buzz: Jane Bites Back

I forgot to do this on Saturday, probably because I was super late posting anyway. I was kind of taking a little online vacation this weekend since I also did not have to work. And I spent my weekend catching up on Lost -- yeah, lots of time spent in front of the tv! I still have three episodes left and am dying to know what happens. We also saw Avatar, finally. My eyes are going cross from all of it. Shame, shame on me.

I'm guessing you can see why I'd be taking a bit of a break, right? And of course I didn't get much reading in this weekend. I'll remedy it a bit this week.

One of the things I did read last week was Michael Thomas Ford's Jane Bites Back, due out this Tuesday. It was great fun! I know, in the multitude of Jane Austen inspired books and horror mash-ups that are out there, that it might be hard to choose one over another. I do highly recommend this one.

First off, it's hilarious. Second, Jane comes across very real, not at all stuffy as I've seen her in some other titles (not going to mention which). And third, did I mention it's hilarious? Jane's running a bookstore in a tiny town in New York, hosting events with other authors using her famous works as inspiration for their own. While Jane gets nothing for it! She's been trying to get a new book published for ages and has suffered 116 rejections thus far. Plus, her maker has shown up in town and is threatening exposure, or worse, if she doesn't go back to him. But things start to look up when an editor expresses interest in the title and Jane may even have a new boyfriend in her life.

My favorite part, not to give anything away, is Jane battling other literary vamps!

This is the first of three proposed titles featuring Jane. There's a teaser for book two, Jane Goest Batty, at the end of Jane Bites Back. Can't wait!

New Releases 12/29/09

Some of the new titles hitting shelves this week include:

Jane Bites Back by Michael Thomas Ford

Deeper Than the Dead by Tami Hoag

I, Sniper by Stephen Hunter

13th Hour by Richard Doetsch

Days of Gold by Jude Deveraux

Shades of Grey by Jasper Fforde - first in a new series

Altar of Eden by James Rollins

Crimson & Steam by Liz Maverick

The Phoenix Charm by Helen Scott Taylor - sequel to The Magic Knot

My Soul to Save by Rachel Vincent - 2nd in the Soul Screamers series

New On DVD:
9
A Perfect Getaway
Jennifer's Body
Paranormal Activity
Diagnosis: Death (with the guys from Flight of the Conchords)

New reviews at Bookbitch.com:
Jane Bites Back
My Soul to Save
Happy Hour of the Damned by Mark Henry

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Stuffed!

Oh, Christmas has officially been over for one day and my stomach is still recovering. I ate way too much! And how is it possible not to, I ask you? I wish I was home to visit with family, but we had a pretty good time here with friends.

On the menu, a ham courtesy of my Aunt Liz. I also made broccoli rice with fresh broccoli from the produce box, a pecan pie/cheesecake mash-up made with some of the Texas pecans my grandmother sends over every year, and stuffed eggplant -- and that's just what I made! We also had fabulous corn casserole, creamed spinach, mashed potatoes, and some of our friend's mom's famous caponata as an appetizer. Hm, I think I'm getting hungry again -- leftovers of everything in the fridge!

Since I couldn't be home this year, thanks to the injury (Mike's, I'm fine), and the fact that we both started new jobs this month, I figured the next best thing is always to do it up big and right here in my own kitchen. I had a little help from a new cookbook in my collection, too.

Pamela Lyles's Da Cajn Critter is full of interesting family-style favorites. Well, my family's style that is. And a new Cajun cookbook is always a welcome addition to my collection. Some of the recipes are traditional southern favorites, like the "Red Beans and Rice," or "Aunt Rhonda's Jambalaya." Lyles tells you how to make a roux (the base for many of my own favorites), fry a turkey, and even how to do your own crawfish boil as well (I miss crawfish boils!). Other dishes in the book are all-over family favorites like "Sally Rue's Tuna Casserole" and "Mom's Pecan Pie." And there are even tips for buying bread and roasting meats.

I used Lyles's recipe for "Cajun-Style Stuffed Mirlitons" to make my eggplant, and they turned out damn tasty, if I do say so myself.

First off, I know what you saying: but it's supposed to be mirlitons. Or you're asking what mirliton is. It's chayote squash, aka in my house vegetable pears. My dad cuts them up and puts them in vegetable soups, or even serves them cooked with a little butter. I know I've seen them here in Colorado but they're not part of my regular shopping list and unfortunately they were not to be found this month. I tried two stores before deciding to use Lyles's suggested alternative of eggplant.

You should know that I'm something of an eggplant novice who really wasn't looking for anything too difficult for this holiday meal. So it was fortunate, then, that Lyles's presents her recipes in an easy-to-understand way. And take it from me, nothing in this book is beyond the average home chef.

I've been on the fence about whether or not I actually like eggplant and I can tell you that at least in this preparation I am definitely a fan. The best thing, though, the stuffing is really versatile and can be tweaked to fit what you have on hand. My aunt makes these with smoked Louisiana sausage. In my case, I actually cheated and used mushrooms in place of the crabmeat. They were a big hit and will definitely be on my favorites list of recipes from here on out. And next time I happen to run across mirlitons, I'll know exactly what to do with them!

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas, Everyone!

It's 6am on Christmas morning here. Having a bit of trouble sleeping. It's been like this since I was a kid. I'm not running downstairs top rip open our gifts, but somehow the nervous anticipation of the day is enough that at 6am I can't fall back asleep.

I'll try again after this post.

I did nothing on Christmas Eve. Absolutely nothing. I had all of these grand plans about cooking -- and then realized that nothing I'm making today could really be pre-cooked -- cleaning -- yeah, did the dishes and swept the floors, and even threw in some laundry, so that got about 3/4 done -- reading -- none. Not one full page. Sad, sad reading day for me -- and finally Lost -- I did that. I got about halfway through the last series. Man is that such a great show! Mike got home and he actually wants to go back to season 4, so I'm not allowed to watch 5 around him.

He was actually gone all afternoon shopping. When he got back, we vegged out and caught up on the final episodes of Primeval before delving into one of his presents, the film adaptation of Terry Pratchett's Hogfather. It's a sort of holiday story, the Hogfather being similar to St. Nick.

We'd previously watched the mini-series made from Color of Magic and The Light Fantastic, the first two Discworld books. Well, Hogfather was actually made first. It did air here in the US, on the ION channel, but is out on DVD. I figured it would make a great Christmas gift and we could watch it on Christmas. And then I passed out.

What I did see of it was really fun. The assassins guild has been hired to off Hogfather. A trainee hoping to join the guild has been brought in. Teatime (prounounced Tee-a-t-a-may) has actually imagined what it would be like to kill the Hogfather, The Tooth Fairy, and even Death himself. So he's seemingly perfect for the job. Success would mean earning his colors, donning the black, and finally being admitted into the guild. Not to mention having an eye turned with regards to a certain inelegance to his last performance. Death steps in and tries to save the day (and save Hogswatch -- the midwinter festival) with the help of his granddaughter and his manservant.

Silliness ensues.

At this point, I was sleeping. I tried to stay awake, sitting in more and more uncomfortable poses hoping it would inspire me to keep my eyes open. No go. I was sadly too beat to finish out part one. I'll have to try again today, though, 'cause I've not read any of the Discworld books and therefore must finish.

Pratchett, btw, is one of Mike's absolute favorite authors of all time. We were lucky enough to snag seats at Pratchett's last appearance at the Tattered Cover in Denver a couple of years ago. Not sure if we'll ever have the opportunity again, but the man is utterly brilliant. It's my turn to get hooked on the books and if I can ever get the first one back from Mike's friends, I may just do that soon. Or I'll start with Pratchett and Gaiman's collaboration, Good Omens, which I'm told is the best book ever!

Anywho. I'm going to try and get a bit more shut-eye before the cooking and the presents begin. If you're looking for an odd little holiday film for later, or for next year, I'd recommend checking out Hogfather, should be fun for the whole family -- unless you've got some too young to see a "different" Santa Clause (he has tusks, so I'd go with kids who aren't still riding the "he's real" train). And if you haven't read the Discworld books, my understanding is that although there may be two or three with continuing arcs, most of them are standalones within the world.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Some Urban Fantasy for Your Holiday

In 2007, Orbit released Lilith Saintcrow's Dante Valentine series, reprinting books 1&2 and releasing books 3, 4, & 5. And they were SO good!

Since then, Saintcrow's gone on to release four books in the Jill Kismet series and two books in her Strange Angels series for young adults. She's a hit. And she has a slew of backlist titles and anthology contributions still available as well.

The Dante Valentine books are dark and stormy with a dark and stormy heroine. And I knew from the beginning of Working for the Devil that they were going to stick out.

First off, the series takes place in a future world that is not unlike ours, but has some pretty interesting technological advancements. Second, Dante is a necromancer who is hired by the devil to do his dirty work. For five books, the series continues at a relentless pace and Dante is put through the ringer.

Saintcrow effectively melds dark fantasy with mystery to create a series that works on so many different levels. There's a romantic aspect, lots of mythology, and so much intrigue that I just couldn't wait to get my hands on each new title. But I was so sad to see Dante go, too. I keep hoping that Saintcrow will return to this world, possibly to follow new characters, but we'll just have to see. She has released a couple of short stories that does revisit this world, however. One is in The Mammoth Book of Vampire Romance and the other is in Hotter Than Hell.

In Working for the Devil, readers are introduced to Dante Valentine as she's hired by the devil himself to track down and kill another demon. Fortunately for Dante, the demon in question is on her list already. But signing on with the devil in order to get her revenge is not the best idea, but unfortunately it's one job that Dante can't refuse.

So check it out. Add it to your wish lists (along with the rest of the series, because if you're like me, you'll be dying to know what comes next). Or run out and buy it with one of those nifty holiday coupons that are making the rounds this week. But don't expect this to be quite like anything else you've read in the genre. I find her pretty stand-out with characters that are anything but run of the mill.

Monday, December 21, 2009

My Hero


Is there, or has there ever been, a more perfect hero than Doctor Who? I think not. At least not right now.

I'm fresh off watching the latest ep, Waters of Mars, and the countdown to David Tennant's last appearance in the role has truly started. This Saturday is the first of the two part finale before the new season begins, and we'll finally see the return of the master and the end of the current Doctor. A sad day to be sure.

I love David Tennant in this role. Love him. I think he was made for the part, and from what I've read, he has an innate understanding of the character thanks to years of watching the show.

Course I was in love with Christopher Eccleston as Doctor #9, too.

I trust that the folks in charge will have made a good decision in casting Matt Smith in the role. I mean the show is beloved by many and the wrong actor could be devastating.

So it's not with a light heart that I say goodbye, along with millions of other international viewers, to Doctor #10, but we do have two more episodes to go. Savor them. I know I will. But I'll welcome our #11 with open arms because he's still the Doctor and the Doctor is probably my favorite hero of all time.

Tune in Saturday, December 26 on BBC America for the first part of The End of Time, and I believe that part 2 is playing the following Saturday, Jan 2 (but don't hold me to that). As a side note, apparently we're getting a BBC show called Demons that begins that night. Haven't heard much about this one, however, and that could be because it seems to have ended in the UK.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

New Releases 12/22/09


December is a somewhat slim month for releases, but some of the titles hitting shelves this holiday week are:

Hidden Empire by Orson Scott Card - #2 in the Empire series

Summertime by J.M. Coatzee

New on DVD:
District 9
500 Days of Summer
All About Steve
Extract
It Might Get Loud

New reviews at Bookbitch.com:
Four & Twenty Blackbirds by Cherie Priest
The Becoming by Jeanne C. Stein

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Pre Pub Book Buzz: Jasper Fforde's Shades of Grey

Fans of Jasper Fforde's Thursday Next series may be a bit blue when they hear that it will be another year before she returns. In the meantime, however, Fforde has another treat in store for readers.

Shades of Grey, due out December 29, introduces fans to even more facets of this creative and quirky author's mind. There's an official page for the book in addition to Fforde's own official page, and there are tons of goodies there for readers including an interview with Fforde about the new book.

Here's the product description from Amazon just to get you all hot and bothered:

Part social satire, part romance, part revolutionary thriller, Shades of Grey tells of a battle against overwhelming odds. In a society where the ability to see the higher end of the color spectrum denotes a better social standing, Eddie Russet belongs to the low-level House of Red and can see his own color—but no other. The sky, the grass, and everything in between are all just shades of grey, and must be colorized by artificial means.

Eddie's world wasn't always like this. There's evidence of a never-discussed disaster and now, many years later, technology is poor, news sporadic, the notion of change abhorrent, and nighttime is terrifying: no one can see in the dark. Everyone abides by a bizarre regime of rules and regulations, a system of merits and demerits, where punishment can result in permanent expulsion.

Eddie, who works for the Color Control Agency, might well have lived out his rose-tinted life without a hitch. But that changes when he becomes smitten with Jane, a Grey Nightseer from the dark, unlit side of the village. She shows Eddie that all is not well with the world he thinks is just and good. Together, they engage in dangerous revolutionary talk.

Stunningly imaginative, very funny, tightly plotted, and with sly satirical digs at our own society, this novel is for those who loved
Thursday Next but want to be transported somewhere equally wild, only darker; a world where the black and white of moral standpoints have been reduced to shades of grey.

Anyone who's ever gotten lost in the madness and mayhem of Jasper Fforde's world knows that this foray into a new one is going to be amazing and well worth the trip. I can't wait to get my hot little hands on a copy.

And for rabid Thursday Next fans (of which there are many) here's a teaser for the next Next book.

So, mark your calendars and save your holiday gift cards for Shades of Grey! And, if he's going to be in your area, I highly recommend turning out for it (check his Tour page for details). He puts on a fabulous show. I only wish Denver was on the agenda this time around.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Christmas Is Looming

Ah, the holiday season. Madness reigns, doesn't it? I'm ready to lock myself in my house from Thanksgiving through Boxing Day (that's the day after Christmas on the UK calendars). Man. I ventured out today to run some errands. Thankfully, all of the presents have been bought and shipped where necessary. But plenty of other folk are still doing their shopping. It's exhausting either way.

I've done some things recently to try and make my life a little easier. I fell off the diet wagon in spite of frantic and crazy produce buying trips to Whole Foods that leave my fridge packed with stuff that sadly, mostly goes to waste. Or gets used in soup. Lots of things get used in soup. And if I were better about freezing the gallons of soup concoctions that result, then I'd be in a good way for a while. I'm about half and half here. Sometimes I'm on the ball and other times we'll just say that I'm more optimistic about eating the leftovers.

To try and but a limit on the number of hungry grocery trips that I make, though, I've decided to sign up for milk and fruit/veggie delivery. And I couldn't be more of a nerd about it. I'd read in a Jaime Oliver magazine about produce delivery in the UK and thought that we must have something like that around here with all the farmers' markets and the push for supporting local farms. Now that I'm working at home again, I figured there was no time like the present to look into it. Lo and behold, Door to Door Organics came up.

They've got the niftiest setup. I can do every week or every other week delivery. They have different sized boxes and a variety of fruits and veggies for each box (the order changes with each delivery so it's new stuff each box). My first one came yesterday and it was like diving into a Christmas present early!

My goal is to plan meals around the produce so that I get more fresh fruits and veggies into our diet and use up everything before the next box arrives. One of the ways I plan on doing this is with the help of Jack Bishop's Vegetables Every Day, one of my absolute favorite recent cookbook additions. I might have mentioned it here before, and if so, please forgive me. The book is divided alpha by veggie and has a handful of recipes for each one, along with tips on when to buy and how to store. It's perfect for anyone trying to eat healthier who's not going whole hog vegetarian. These are, for the most part, veggie side dishes. And, if you're like me and want to experiment with items that you've not cooked before, but not necessarily a whole recipe of foreign items, it's great for that as well.

What do I mean by that? Well, for example, I decided that I was going to brave the artichoke. I eat artichokes, but had never dealt with fresh, whole artichokes before. They're a bit daunting! But Bishop's instructions for "Browned Baby Artichokes and Mushrooms With Garlic" was easier than I thought it would be and was super tasty! Equally simple was the "Roasted Beet Salad with Sherry Vinegar."

Now if only he had a section on pecans and grapefruit! My grandmother gets the whole family Texas pecans and grapefruit for Christmas and mine happened to arrive this week as well. I love 'em and am always looking for creative ways to use them up.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Reading Memories

Direction for this blog? Needed.

I started reading Shirley Jackson's We Have Always Lived in the Castle last night. Not sure why it's taken me so long to get around to it, but it has. A friend of mine recently gave me the push I needed to get started on it and so that's how I spent my evening yesterday.

Shirley Jackson is most well known for her short story, "The Lottery," which even I've read and remember fondly from middle school days, and The Haunting of Hill House, which is still sitting on my TBR shelf. A few other collections are available, but of her six novels, only two are available these days. Here's hoping for some reprints 'cause I'd really like to get my hands on these hard to find items.

We Have Always Lived in the Castle is something of a dense read for it's slim, 173 pages: I'm only about a third of the way through so far if that's any indication. It's definitely book that demands, and commands, the reader's full attention and concentration. And develops in an eerie way that's utterly delicious.

And I love the cover art on my copy. The newest edition has a nice black and white cover with a creepy line drawing, but it's nowhere near as fantastic as mine. This Popular Library edition belonged to my mom. So yeah, I've had ample opportunity to pick it up before now. Don't you love it, though?

I was reading last night and pondering how fantastic this cover is and how strange the story is, and all of a sudden was struck by the smell. It's that musty old book smell. Not a bad one at all, especially not for a book nerd like me, but one that brings back fond reading memories. Mostly memories of overnight trips at my grandmother's house. She's a reader like I am and I can remember nights spent in my mom's old childhood room at the end of the hall, curled up with a book for the night. They're nice memories. Even the ones when I freaked myself out.

I used to insist that my bed be placed as far from the window as possible and I couldn't be facing the window when I slept. Weird, I know. I still do it. And those nights reading into the wee hours with all the lights in the house gone dark, grandfather clock ticking away in the hallway, it was very easy to let my imagination go flying into places that made dark corners mysterious and terrifying.

It still happens for me occasionally. And I love every spine-tingling moment! That's what I look for in a great read and why I gravitate towards the more suspenseful genres: that moment when you think anything is possible and you don't want to move because even the boogeyman could be out there waiting to get to you. It was always reassuring to know that my grandmother was just down the hall, or my parents were just downstairs, or Mike is just in the next room. My days living alone, well, lets just say there were some nights when leaves skittering across my porch were enough to keep me up until the sun began to rise. Not often, but occasionally, lights were left on to help.

Anyway, my sharing moment. I've been in this gothic kick since reading Cherie Priest's fabulous Boneshaker (Steampunk), which led to my reading her first Eden Moore book, which left me at a loss until the next two arrive. So Shirley Jackson was an obvious choice now.

I won't go into what the book is about. As some other reviewers have said, you can't aptly describe it without giving away the whole plot. I can tell that just by where I am at this point in the story. Plus, if you jump in without knowing, this is one book who's journey is made all the better by it.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Have you Heard of Mark Henry?

What about Amanda Feral? I've just been introduced, partially thanks to Cherie Priest and partially thanks to an ARC campaign by the publisher that resulted in my getting a copy of Battle of the Network Zombies (awesome!).

And broke as I am right now, I just had to round out a couple of series (Henry's included) with some book orders. As I admitted yesterday, I did order the follow-up titles to Cherie Priest's Four and Twenty Blackbirds, and since I have Henry's third but no first or second, I had to remedy that. Two will have to wait just a bit longer (like, until I get a paycheck from my new job, but that won't be long). But I will have it in time to be completely well read and prepared for reviewing Battle in time for it's Feb 23 release.

In the meantime, this should probably be a pre-publication book buzz post, and I probably will still include Battle in one of those Saturday posts, but Happy Hour of the Damned is already out and about on shelves. (Another but) But, it's getting a lower price point and a brand new release on January 31. I'll have read mine by then and will have told you how fabulous a read I've no doubt it will be, and then you'll all run out and buy the copy that's available or you'll pre-order the mass market version.

Then, for all you impatient folk (this makes for perfect timing, trust me) you'll run out and buy Road Trip of the Living Dead and zip through just in time for Battle to hit the shelves all brand-spanking new and ready to read.

Cool.

So, if you've read Mark Henry, and I know you're out there because I've read the reviews, pass the word on to others (like me) who haven't yet. Grab some extras and shove 'em in unsuspecting family members' stockings, abandon copies in airports and coffee shops so that strangers will discover them and pass them along as well. And post the Save Amanda Feral banner proudly! (Might I suggest some tees to go along with this? I'd totally wear one.)

I shoulda been in bed with my Ambien 30 minutes ago, but forgot I'd taken it while remembering I hadn't blogged yet. Stupid.

Anywho, check out Mark Henry's official site for more info.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Hot Titles of 2009

Hi, guys! Just wanted to let you know that the 2009 Favorites lists are up at Bookbitch.com now. Take a look and see which titles made the cut.

Tired Monday Morning

I'm hoping the sun comes out shining this morning and wakes me up. That or my Lady Grey tea from Dushanbe. Am also trying to install my printer on my work computer. Doing technology minded stuff this early in the morning usually works out badly for me. And since it's never user friendly, I can't do it by myself. Frustration is always the result.

I've been in a book slump. My mood most always dictates my reads and, therefore, my enjoyment of them. This past week and weekend, perhaps with the excitement of a new job and dealing with Mike's knee, I've had a hard time determining what kind of reading mood I'm in.

Whenever this happens, I waste mucho time staring at my bookshelves trying to make a decision. That's valuable reading time! I've abandoned a few reads in the past week -- I'll get back to them soon, but nothing was quite hitting the spot. And you can't really force it, you know?

I finally decided that maybe it was a holdover from reading Boneshaker and since I wasn't ready to jump into another of that genre yet, that maybe another by Cherie Priest would do the trick. So last night, belly full of cookies and toes defrosting in the tub, I started reading Four and Twenty Blackbirds, the first in Priest's Southern Gothic Eden Moore trilogy. And it's good! I'm about halfway through and was getting major goosebumps last night!

You know a ghost story is good if it gives you the tinglies! I figured that since I wasn't quite done, though, I'd tell you about another book that gave me chills. And, seeing as how it's the holidays and everyone is crazy busy, I chose Joe Hill's 20th Century Ghosts as today's book.

If you haven't heard, or if you have yet to read him, Hill is a great new horror author who comes by his talent the good old fashioned way: it's in his genes! I've no doubt that being raised in a creative household helps nurture a person's creative genius. And being the son of Stephen King, well...

Hill's got one novel, Heart-Shaped Box, and this collection already out on shelves, and his second novel, Horns, will be out in Feb. He's also got a series of comics out and has contributed to a slew of horror collections. And he's fabulous.

20th Century Ghosts is the winner of the 2005 Bram Stoker Award for best collection, the 2006 British Fantasy Award for best collection, and the 2005 International Horror Guild Award, again for best collection. It's a great introduction to his talent and the perfect set of chilling, touching, and even some humorous, short stories for a busy time of year.

Hill's collection revealed a new gem with each turn of the page. Each tale was something different and exciting. I don't think I can even pick a favorite at this point: it's the kind of collection that sticks with you, stories evoking new emotions each read and each time you think back on them. You can read one and ponder it over, or you can jump right into the next and see what he's got in store in the following story. I know some readers are iffy on short stories, but this is definitely a collection that I recommend, not only to horror fans and Hill fans, but to anyone who thinks they aren't a short story reader. This collection will convert you!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

New Releases 12/15/09

Some of the new titles hitting shelves this week include:

Witch & Wizard by James Patterson and Gabrielle Charbonnet

Nanny Returns by Emma McLaughlin and Nicola Kraus

Too Much Money by Dominick Dunne

New on DVD:
The Hangover
G-Force
Inglourious Basterds
Taking Woodstock

New reviews at Bookbitch.com:
Fallen by Lauren Kate
The Gatekeeper by Michelle Gagnon
Boneshaker by Cherie Priest
Little Face by Sophie Hanna

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Pre Pub Book Buzz: Kelli Stanley's City of Dragons

Ok, because I like to post recs here, I don't necessarily spend as much time posting about upcoming books as I could. I try to stay on top of what's on the horizon, though, for multiple reasons. First, I'm a total junkie and used to keep a running list of new releases by date that were on my must buy list, which still exists in various forms (it's expanded).

Second, I love making all of you add to your own "Must Buy" lists! A lot of the blogs I read do have a post each week devoted to titles that they are looking forward to and I thought I would like to start doing the same. This'll give you time to pre-order from Amazon or put your name down at the library.

So, here's my first Pre Pub Book Buzz Saturday post!

You may recall this post on Kelli Stanley's debut, Nox Dormienda, a freakin fantastic "Roman Noir" mystery that totally captivated me.

Well, Stanley is starting a new series in Feb with the release of City of Dragons, a PI mystery that takes place in 1940s San Francisco. The folks at Minotaur sent me some press material including a description of the book and some of the early praise it's garnered.

February, 1940. Gone With the Wind packs movie palaces two months after its December premiere. "Moonlight Serenade" echoes from jukeboxes all over the country. And the Sino-Japanese war still rages while France waits anxiously for the Nazi blitzkrieg to hammer the Maginot Line.

In San Francisco’s Chinatown, fireworks explode as the city celebrates Chinese New Year with a Rice Bowl Party, a three day-and-night carnival designed to raise money and support for China war relief. Thus begins the backdrop of Kelly Stanley's searing series debut, City of Dragons (Minotaur Books On-Sale: February 2, 2010).

Miranda Corbie—thirty-three-year-old private investigator, Spanish Civil War nurse and ex-escort, waits impatiently in the crowd. Until small-time numbers runner Eddie Takahashi stumbles into Sacramento Street and into her life … fatally shot.

The Chamber of Commerce wants it covered up. The cops acquiesce. Japanese boy in a Chinese carnival ... wrong place at the wrong time. All Miranda wants is justice—whatever it costs. From Chinatown tenements to a tattered tailor’s shop in Little Osaka, to a high-class bordello draped in Southern Gothic—she shakes down the city—her city—seeking the truth.

CITY OF DRAGONS is a sprawling, visceral novel of San Francisco in 1940, a world of race wars and class wars, a world in which sexual threat is as casual as a five cent cigar. It is also a beautiful world … of hats and neon night clubs, Harry James and Chesterfields, of a World’s Fair ready to reopen in just three short months. It’s Miranda’s world. And she’ll die to protect the good in it. Because part of her died a long time ago…

The book has already gotten the attention of fellow authors Lee Child, Laura Benedict, George Pelecanos, and Linda Fairstein, just to name a few. And they all love it according to the prepub blurbs, which doesn't surprise me in the very least.

If you've not had the pleasure of reading Nox yourself, I definitely recommend checking it out. Stanley won Left Coast Crime's Bruce Alexander Memorial Historical Mystery Award and was a finalist for the Mystery Readers International McAvity Award in the Sue Feder Memorial Historical category.

Check out Kelli's official page for info on how you can win a sweet prize pack featuring an advance copy of City of Dragons, where you can find an extra City of Dragons story, news on the Arcturus series, and much more. And mark your calendars for Feb 2, 2010.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Steampunk Book News

I love it! Yep, the Steampunk trend is going strong and I'm reveling in it. Now I just need someone to write a gothic Steampunk novel and I'll be all set.

Here's a cool article from Time magazine written by Lev Grossman (the author of The Magicians, and Codex).

Paolo Bacigalupi's The Windup Girl, just one of many Steampunk releases this year, made it to Time's Top 10 Fiction of 2009 list.

2009 also saw the release of Gail Carriger's Soulless, a Steampunk tinged paranormal mystery that's just first in a trilogy being put out by Orbit. Gail is into everything Steampunk and has a great page on her website devoted to it. I'm poaching reads from the list as often as I can. I'm seriously hoping for George Mann's The Affinity Bridge for Christmas, and I made my mom buy Scott Westerfeld's Leviathan for my sister.

Katie MacAlister is releasing a Steampunk romance in February called Steamed. It's already on my wishlist.

On the sort of Steampunk horizon, Bioshock 2 is due out in February and I'm not playing anything else until I get it! That's how bad I want this particular game!

Alright, I think that's enough Steampunk news for now, don't you? I've got Stephen Hunt's The Court of the Air next on my Steampunk reading list and it's first in a series so I hope it's good!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Another Rec From My Reading Past

I had planned on saving Michelle Gagnon's latest, The Gatekeeper, for my trip last week, but I couldn't wait that long to read it. I think I got it a week before that, that's how impatient I am.

I thought I would hold out initially because strangely I've read Michelle's books on vacation before. In fact, while driving from Colorado to Louisiana last summer, we stopped in Austin for a couple of days to attend the wedding of a high school classmate and Bone Yard was my companion in the hotel while Mike was at the bachelor's party.

Like I said, I was impatient and started reading it Thanksgiving day instead. And then I realized that I've not yet posted anything about this series. Chalk it up to starting the blog after reading the first and somehow...

But I'm doing it now. We're three books in here and I think it's high time for anyone who hasn't started them yet to do so now.

When the series began with The Tunnels in 2007, I was lucky enough to get a review copy from the publisher. Here's my review from the BB archives:

FBI agent Kelly Jones has no family, no real friends and no ties. Her only real motivation is her job, and the tragedy in her past that led to her career. Now, the bodies of two coeds have been found in an abandoned tunnel system below her alma mater. The first body, that of Anna Varelas, is found mutilated and posed before an odd image painted in blood. The blood belongs to Lin Kaishin, the second body discovered in the tunnels. Kaishin is also posed before the same strange image. This time, the blood is that of an unknown pregnant female. Further investigation leads to shocking revelations regarding the symbolism of each site. Everything from the positioning of the bodies to the way that they were killed leads Jones to believe that their suspect is anything but the textbook definition of a serial killer. Gagnon’s debut is sure to be a hit with mystery lovers. Jones is an appealing heroine and the plot is truly original. I really thought I had it figured out, too, but I was completely wrong in the end. I hope book two in the series is soon to follow.

I was, and still am, impressed by Gagnon's ability to make each new book as exciting and intense as the last. And her ideas are completely original each time around. I look forward to each new book in the series with major anticipation. And I have no problem telling you that the end of The Gatekeeper is a whopper that's going to keep me on the edge of my seat until the fourth release rolls around!

For more on Michelle Gagnon and her series, check out her website here. I'll be sure to post both Bone Yard and The Gatekeeper (which I'll review for bookbitch.com this week) shortly.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Steampunk Is Perfect for Planes

Reading on vacation is tough. It calls for the perfect page-turning read for the perfect mood -- at least for me, probably because I don't have all of my books to choose from and feel penned in by the books I've packed in my bag. I mean what if you only brought mystery but you're in the mood for romance? I sometimes find it really hard to concentrate while reading on vacation as well. And although I wasn't truly on vacation last week, vacation reading was definitely called for.

My last night in Charleston, I headed out to dinner at The Glass Onion -- conveniently located just down the street from my temp digs and super tasty -- and then stayed up way too late channel surfing in the hotel. I did start a book that I managed to get 100 pages into, but was unable to stick with it in the airport the next day. I tried again on the plane, but just couldn't do it.

This called for drastic measures. I mean, when else do you need to take your mind off of things as much as you do in an airport or on a plane? It's one of the worst places to be stuck counting the minutes, and therefore one of the best places for a super engaging read. But again, it must be the perfect read for the moment or it won't work.

So I started a new book. Yes, shame on me, mid-read I started a new one. And it was the right one. It fit. It was great! Add to that the fact that the second leg of my flight was quite possibly one of the best flying experiences I have ever had (no one in the seat next to me AND the plane was EARLY).

And the book was:

Boneshaker by Cherie Priest, a Steampunk read set in an alternate 1880s Seattle that's riddled with zombies thanks to Dr. Blue's Incredible Bone-Shaking Drill Engine. The goal was to great a drill that could bore through Alaska's ice and get to the purported vein of gold beneath. Leviticus Blue believed that he had created just the machine, but instead ended up destroying the city and releasing a yellow gas that infected anyone in its path. The Blight, as it was called, turned people into rotted walking corpses. And so a wall was built to keep the gas and the walking dead inside. Briar Wilkes and her son, Zeke, live outside the wall. Though they've tried to keep the connection to Blue as secret as possible, everyone knows that Briar is Blue's widow. And no one will let either Briar or Zeke forget it. Dead set on finally clearing his father's name, Zeke finds a way to cross the wall. Now Briar must enter the city that was once her home and try to find her son before it's too late.

An incredibly engaging story that kept me thoroughly entertained through the crowds and noise of Dulles and however any feet above the air we were flying to Denver.

Cherie Priest is the author of a growing collection of books, including the Southern gothic Eden Moore trilogy: Four and Twenty Blackbirds (2005), Wings to the Kingdom (2006), and Not Flesh Nor Feathers (2007).

Priest has two more books due out in the Clockwork Century world and also has some urban fantasy titles on her upcoming list. I think she's pretty much set to conquer each and every genre out there!

Monday, December 7, 2009

A Psi Thriller

So remember when I said that I was a sucker for certain kinds of stories? Yes, the list is ever expanding and very broad, but every time I come across a new premise that fascinates me or a new setting that for some reason draws me more than most, or even a new trend in a genre that I find particularly satisfying, it gets added.

I don't remember what exactly drew me to remote viewing, but any time I see it in the synopsis of a book, I have to have it. Actually, all psi stuff in terms of warfare or secret government experiments and such applies here. I remember the movie Suspect Zero as being one of the first places I came across it. Admittedly, not the best film, but it had such potential! I think if it had had just a little more viewing time for story development, it could have been great. As it stands, I find it highly entertaining, just with too much going on.

I've found a few titles with psi stuff as the main plot, and one of the latest is C.S. Graham's October Guinness series. The Solomon Effect was just released this fall as the follow up to last year's debut in the series, The Archangel Project.

Here's a little about Archangel to get you interested:

October "Tobie" Guinness joined the military without expecting to see actual combat. Her strengths as a linguist were certainly useful, but it would be another talent that would ultimately lead to an unfortunate dismissal from service with a "psycho" discharge. Tobie didn't know what remote viewing was or that she was even capable of doing it, until she joined a project at Tulane studying her ability. With just a set of coordinates, Tobie can "see" places and events far, far away. Something she sees during one of her sessions leads to catastrophic results, though, when the wrong people are let in on the secret. Now, Tobie, who still has yet to master her ability, or fully understand it, must figure out what she was supposed to have seen and who wants her dead as a result.

C.S. Graham are a husband and wife writing team, Candace Graham, aka author C.S. Harris (historical mysteries), and her husband, Steven Harris, have created a winning thriller in this first project. It's a fascinating story and a page-turning read that's sure to please fans of Steve Berry and James Rollins (just to name a few).

It's something to have fun with, but remember, the research and basis for the story all come from alleged true events. If you saw (or read) The Men Who Stare at Goats, Harris and Graham have used a lot of the same references for their series. Can you get any cooler than that? Not really. That's why Berry and Rollins and everyone else in the biz of writing these sorts of thrillers are so good -- they combine facets of actual fact (or rumored events) with a great story.

Just a Quick One

Hi, all. Hope to get a post in tomorrow, but I wanted to do a quick one this evening to go up in the morning.

Training in Charleston was great. I'm super excited to begin work in the morning. It was a lot of information to compress and process in just one week, but I think this is going to be a really fun job for me.

I did get some reading in while in my hotel this week. I know I've had a lot going on lately and haven't been as good about posting as I would have like to have been. I promise things should start settling down now -- hopefully.

We've had an incident this evening and I'm really crossing my fingers that it doesn't set Mike and I back too much. He's big in snowboarding and apparently had an accident on the slopes today. I don't know all of the details, mainly because I think he was afraid to tell me, but he has some torn ligaments and will now need knee surgery to repair them. No more snowboarding for him this season.

Fun stuff.

Anywho. I'm going to go ahead and hit the sack for the night and will get back to you Tuesday morn at the latest.

P.S. Are you watching Alice on SYFY? You should be!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

New Releases 12/08/09

Hello, all! I made it back safe and sound, only to return to snow! Ah well, hopefully winter will end soon this year since it's come upon us so early.

Some of the new titles hitting shelves this week are:

Fallen by Lauren Kate -- more fallen angels for the teen audience

Dead Air by Deborah Shlian and Linda Reid

The Luck of the Draw by Anthony J. Cardieri

The Good Son by Russel D. McLean

Divine Misdemeanors by Laurell K. Hamilton -- #8 in the Meredith Gentry series

Muse and Reverie by Charles de Lint

Wormwood, Nevada by David Oppegaard

Burning Shadows by Chelsea Quinn Yarbro -- latest in the Saint-Germain cycle

The Disciple by Stephen Coonts

Faces of the Gone by Brad Parks

New on DVD:
Public Enemies
Julie & Julia
Carriers
The Cove
Harry Potter & The Half-Blood Prings
Lost: Season 5

Thursday, December 3, 2009

A New Urban Fantasy Series You Won't Want to Miss

There are so many great new authors coming out every month, that I'm falling behind on showcasing them. Which is kind of great for a book junkie like me, because it means that there's never a shortage of stuff to read! But it means that I need to do better about getting the word out about each release that I can.

Nicole Peeler's debut, Tempest Rising, hit shelves on November 1 and I've already read it and passed it on to the JJs (who have loved it so far as well). I reviewed it for the BB, but I somehow missed posting it for you here.

Anywho, if I did this right, this should be going up Thursday morning, my almost last day in Charleston. I should be back Friday afternoon and am too totally beat right now to be passingly coherent -- I've already taken my Ambien because no way am I getting 8 hours of sleep and I figured the sooner I took it, the better off I'd be in the wee hours when I get up to catch the flight (let's just hope I don't sleep through boarding and miss the damn thing sitting in the airport!).

The point? This'll be my last post before I get back and I wanted it to be a great one! Kidding. It's a great book, but the post is suffering from lack of sleep.

Without further ado, Tempest Rising begins with our heroine, Jane True, discovering a dead body floating in the ocean near her home. Jane has always known that she didn't fit in in the small town of Rockabill, Maine, but she never knew that it was because she's part selkie. Yep, Jane's mom was a selkie and Jane is half, retaining her human form, but possessing strength drawn from water. Her mother abandoned Jane and her father years ago, and Jane was raised without a clue as to her own heritage, much less the existence of other "others." The dead body, however, brings an investigator to town who will finally reveal the secrets of this other world to Jane. Ryu, a vampire who sets Jane's knees atremble, gives Jane a crash course in the paranormal and it makes for a super clever and fun read.

Peeler, an Assistant Prof of English Lit in my homestate of Louisiana (she teaches at LSU Shreveport) ties some very neglected mythology (um, selkies for one and you can see why selkies are better than vamps here) into a humorous and romantic urban fantasy tale that is just the first part of Jane True's story. Orbit, the publisher of the series, has released cover art for book two, Tracking the Tempest, here and there's even a description of the book as well. The title will be part of the Spring/Summer 2010 season. Official release dates to come.

So, hope this makes sense when you read it in the morning. Hope I remember doing it in the morning . Really didn't think it would effect my blogging skills that much (not that I'd tried before), but just considering that it seem as though I function pretty normally, except for the whole being able to fall asleep like I'm supposed to. Guess not.

This will be like the most embarrassing drunk dialing episode but it's Ambien induced blogging. Sorry. Limited time to blame.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Packing for my trip to Charleston

Ok, I go through this every single time I head off anywhere. Packing. It sucks. Why? I don't usually care much about my clothes, although this time I do have to be a little picky in that department. It's the book! What do I bring?

I've talked about it before, here just before my reunion in October and here the previous summer when I went to NYC to see Mike. I'm totally neurotic when it comes to this issue. God forbid I be traveling and run out of things to read!

I'd been planning on taking Michelle Gagnon's latest, The Gatekeeper, but I couldn't actually wait that long to read it. So now I have to pick some other stuff. In my stack of possibilities are:

Little Face by Sophie Hannah (desc from Hannah's site): When Alice Fancourt returns home after having been out for the first time without her two-week-old daughter Florence, she insists that the baby she finds at home, in the care of her husband David, is not their daughter but a child she has never seen before. David denies it, claiming that the baby is Florence and that Alice has gone mad. Is she crazy, or is David lying, and if so, why would he do such a thing? And where is the real Florence? Alice has no proof, but she needs the police to believe her, and quickly. While they wait for the DNA test that will settle the matter, valuable time is being lost, and David’s behaviour towards Alice becomes increasingly threatening and sinister. Can Alice make the police listen to her before it's too late?

Ghost Song by Sarah Rayne (desc from Rayne's site): “All theatres are haunted…”

The old Tarleton music hall in London’s Bankside is the subject of a mysterious restraint that came into being in 1914 and has kept the theatre closed for over ninety years.

When Robert Fallon is asked to survey The Tarleton, he finds clues indicating that its long twilight sleep may conceal a sinister secret. He joins forces with Hilary, a researcher into Edwardian theatre, and they discover the legend of The Tarleton’s ‘ghost’ – a figure whose face was always hidden and who was first seen in the time of the charismatic singer/songwriter, Toby Chance, once the darling of Edwardian audiences until he vanished suddenly and inexplicably in the early 1900s…

After almost a century, The Tarleton’s dark silence is about to end, but there are people who find this a threatening prospect, and as Hilary and Robert delve into the remarkable history of one of London’s oldest music halls, they both become menaced by a secret from the past – a secret that has its roots in a shattering event that had to be kept hidden at all costs.

Boneshaker by Cherie Priest (PW Starred review): Maternal love faces formidable challenges in this stellar steampunk tale. In an alternate 1880s America, mad inventor Leviticus Blue is blamed for destroying Civil War–era Seattle. When Zeke Wilkes, Blue's son, goes into the walled wreck of a city to clear his father's name, Zeke's mother, Briar Wilkes, follows him in an airship, determined to rescue her son from the toxic gas that turns people into zombies (called rotters and described in gut-churning detail). When Briar learns that Seattle still has a mad inventor, Dr. Minnericht, who eerily resembles her dead husband, a simple rescue quickly turns into a thrilling race to save Zeke from the man who may be his father. Intelligent, exceptionally well written and showcasing a phenomenal strong female protagonist who embodies the complexities inherent in motherhood, this yarn is a must-read for the discerning steampunk fan.

All three of those are trade paperbacks. I've got some mass markets to consider as well (limiting myself to no hardcovers this time around -- I'm supposed to leave bag space to bring materials back).

This is totally maddening! I'm pretty sure the Sophie Hannah is making the cut. I bought it just last week and set it aside specifically for the trip. I'll be spending most of today changing out the others I'm sure. Dork.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Deadtown Contest

Sweet! Nancy Holzner is holding a contest for her debut release, Deadtown, which hits shelves Dec. 29.

I've been waiting for this one since reading the review in PW. It sounds totally up my alley!

Here's the review for you to see (from BN.com)

In Holzner’s fast-paced urban fantasy debut, shape-shifter Victory Vaughn fights demons in an alternate present-day Boston, where a few thousand people have been mysteriously zombified and are now confined to the neighborhood of Deadtown along with vampires, werewolves, and other “Paranormal Americans.” Vicky’s sometime boyfriend, Kane, a werewolf, lawyer, and PA rights advocate, gets some competition from human detective Daniel; teen zombie sidekick Tina occasionally wreaks unintentional havoc; and Vicky’s sister, Gwen, an inactive shape-shifter and suburban wife and mother, argues with Vicky over their life choices and attitudes toward shape-shifting in the most fully realized and emotionally compelling parts of the book. ... This fun and facile tale would be a great beach read if it weren’t coming out in the middle of the winter.

The contest is running now, so head over to Holzner's site here for more info. Good luck!

Monday, November 30, 2009

Book Blogger Holiday Swap

This year, I read about a Book Blogger Holiday Swap that a couple of the bloggers I follow had signed up for. I didn't know about it last year, so this was my first year to participate. It was super fun. I got my Secret Santa giftee about two weeks ago and set about looking for a gift.

I checked out her blog -- www.lookatmybooks.blogspot.com -- and her wishlist, and picked a couple of titles based on that. Hopefully they turn out to be good choices, but she seems to read a lot of the same kinds of things that I do, so crossing fingers.

I'd wanted to get a head start since I'll be away next week and I got a note today (Saturday) that not only had she received the gift, but that she was my Secret Santa as well!

She picked out a really cool set of bookplates from Nifty Swank and bookmarks by Stephanie Schauer of Pretty {much} Art -- both of whom have Etsy sites I've linked to so you can look at their great collections -- and she got me the latest Cody McFadyen. How sweet is that?

The Holiday Swap was fun and I'm really glad that I participated. Now I have a new blog to follow, too!

Anywho, I'm pre-posting here and trying to get a week's worth in so my blog won't suffer from my being away. I've got some book posts coming and will tell you all about my trip to Charleston when I return!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

New Releases 12/01/09

Some of the new titles hitting shelves this week include:

U is for Undertow by Sue Grafton -- latest in the Kinsey Millhone series and it's great!

Cleaving: A Story of Marriage, Meat and Obsession by Julie Powell -- of Julie & Julia fame

Dying Scream by Mary Burton

The Darkness by Jason Pinter -- latest Henry Parker thriller

Garden of the Moon by Elizabeth Sinclair

Forty-Eight X: The Lemuria Project by Barry Pollack

Once Bitten by Clare Willis

Spy Games by Gina Robinson

The Paris Vendetta by Steve Barry -- the latest Cotton Malone thriller

Trial by Fire by JA Jance -- Ali Reynolds #5

New on DVD:
Paper Heart
Deadline
Night at the Museum: Battle at the Smithsonian
Terminator: Salvation

New reviews at Bookbitch.com:
U is for Undertow
Betrayals by Lili St. Crow
The Sweethearts' Knitting Club by Lori Wilde

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Holy Moly! A Movie Post

Black Friday blows me away. I don't do the sales or the crowds. In fact, most years I vow not to leave the house. I think it comes from working in retail for so long. The months of November and December are black out months in retail, meaning you aren't supposed to make any time-off requests. Sometimes you luck out and get a manager who'll allow it, but you're either going to work Black Friday or Christmas Eve, or the day after Christmas. Or all three (usually my luck).

So I kind of relish my not having to do that anymore -- or at least for now. Who knows what the future will hold.

Today, however, with Mike out snowboarding all day I decided to head to the movies. I've been wanting to see The Road, but I figured I would wait for Mike to see it. So I headed out to see Ninja Assassin instead.

I'm not a huge martial arts/ninja fan, although I have seen most of the new films that have come out recently -- I'm a fan of Jason Statham even if I think he's a much better actor than his recent films illustrate. So you can imagine that I had some reservations about Ninja Assassin.

Perhaps that's why I enjoyed it so much! It was freaking great!

If you're considering seeing a movie this weekend, I highly suggest you check it out -- if you don't mind super gore, though. The blood in this movie is plentiful and the fight scenes are pretty excellent.

Like most ninja movies, it could definitely use more story development, but I have to say that I thought it did ok in this department. I've seen much, much worse. I found it interesting as well as visually stunning. And I do mean that. There is plenty for the eyes to feast on in this movie, not the least of which is the yummy Rain, starring as Raizo. Oh, man! Even if you're not a fan of these movies at all, you should check him out!

Yeah, I'm a dork. At least he's age-appropriate hotness unlike the New Moon boys.

I expected this to be a miss and I was pleasantly surprised that it was not. This is the latest release from Joel Silver's Dark Castle Entertainment, who was responsible for the atrocious RocknRolla (did I say that?). Course we could just as easily blame that mishap on Madonna (let's hope Guy Ritchie recovered for the upcoming Sherlock Holmes). Dark Castle also did the recent flop Whiteout, which I've not seen and so can't criticize. In their defense, they were responsible for Orphan this year, a movie that I rather enjoyed. So, you win some you lose some. (They have an upcoming film called The Apparition starring Ashley Greene -- Alice of the Twilight films -- in case you were interested).

As a horror fan, to see that the company that was dedicated to breathing new life into old William Castle films was now doing a ninja movie was a bit of a WTF?! moment. I also have to say that although the trailer adequately portrays the expected violence of the film, the movie itself was an unexpectedly entertaining movie that I think should be a win for Dark Castle, director James McTeigue, and star Rain. And yes, that is Naomie Harris, aka Selena of 28 Days Later, as Europol Agent Mika -- see, you didn't know there was a Europol story in there, did you?

For more Ninja Assassin related fun, here's a link to a CNN story with some video on both the star and the film. And if you did not see Rain on the Colbert Report (I didn't) then this should thoroughly entertain you. He's hotness in the film even if the Colbert clip is pretty dorky.

Go see it.