Thursday, January 29, 2009

Don't miss this one

Back when I worked at BN, my responsibilities included updating the Discover New Authors display. I love that Bn does this and I have found some great authors this way. The fact that it is something of a much smaller Indiebound list (one that is not updated monthly) is not lost on me. But, where I am from there really aren't any indie stores at all, with the exception of the used bookstore. So, Discover it was, for me at least. 

Although the selection is much smaller than Indiebound, I have found some great authors through this. One of those is Carlos Ruis Zaphon. If you have not read his wonderful American debut, The Shadow of the Wind, I have to tell you that you are missing out on one of the most hypnotic and engaging reads of all time. 

The book was released in 2004 and it was almost a year later that I purchased the audio version to get me through the 20-hour car ride when we decided to pick up and move. One hour out of Denver, with still more than half the book to go, I hit a defect in the discs. Agh! A blank spot. No audio whatsoever!

After that horrendously long trek with my doped up kitty and our caravan of cars, you can imagine all I wanted to do was relax a bit before we started unpacking. Not to be had! I was desperate to make a trip to the bookstore to trade out my defective audio for a real, live, hold-it-in-your-hands copy of the book. All that, and the book has become one of my ultimate favorites. If I have posted about it before, you will have to forgive me, but the book is just that good. And, even better, the prequel is finally set to hit shelves this summer. I can't freaking wait!

Shadow of the Wind is a 100% gothic read. I love it. I think it was/is part of a modern gothic trend that I really wish was more prevalent. I've loved each and every book that I have found that fits this category, but sadly there just aren't that many to choose from. 

Anyway, because I just read in my PW that Angel's Game is due out soon (summer seems so long to wait, but it will come soon enough), I figure it's time for me to get those of you who haven't read this out to the store (or library) to find a copy (or to get the one you loaned to a friend back, Marina!). And since I read it WAY before I started doing my reviews, here the synopsis courtesy of PW (you can read the whole review at Amazon.com):

"Ruiz Zafón's novel, a bestseller in his native Spain, takes the satanic touches from Angel Heart and stirs them into a bookish intrigue à la Foucault's Pendulum. The time is the 1950s; the place, Barcelona. Daniel Sempere, the son of a widowed bookstore owner, is 10 when he discovers a novel, The Shadow of the Wind, by Julián Carax. The novel is rare, the author obscure, and rumors tell of a horribly disfigured man who has been burning every copy he can find of Carax's novels. The man calls himself Laín Coubert-the name of the devil in one of Carax's novels. As he grows up, Daniel's fascination with the mysterious Carax links him to a blind femme fatale with a "porcelain gaze," Clara Barceló; another fan, a leftist jack-of-all-trades, Fermín Romero de Torres; his best friend's sister, the delectable Beatriz Aguilar; and, as he begins investigating the life and death of Carax, a cast of characters with secrets to hide. Officially, Carax's dead body was dumped in an alley in 1936. But discrepancies in this story surface. Meanwhile, Daniel and Fermín are being harried by a sadistic policeman, Carax's childhood friend. As Daniel's quest continues, frightening parallels between his own life and Carax's begin to emerge." 

So get out there and read it! June will be here before you know it and I'm willing to bet that Angel's Game is going to be as magnificent as Shadow of the Wind was. Lord knows I'm a big fan of taking chilling gothic reads to the beach. I did read Rebecca in the swimming pool, after all, and that's set the tone for me. Warm sunshine to balance the bleak and shadowy corners of a creepy gothic-style story. 

Readers who love a little mystery, and history, and books about books are going to love this one.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Great Reads!


I can't believe I haven't posted a Kitty Sewell post yet! Well, it must be time, then.

So, Mike is home. Finally! He got caught in terrible weather on Sunday and had to stop the night 120 miles outside of Cheyenne. What should have been an 8 hour drive home ended up being 8 hours for just half and another 4 from there to make it home Monday afternoon. 

Of course to keep myself busy I have been seeing a ton of flicks, but I have read a bunch of books as well. One of the titles in my stack was Kitty Sewell's latest, Bloodprint. I discovered Sewell last year when I read rave reviews of her upcoming debut, Ice Trap. When I got my hands on a copy, I devoured it in a day. It was fabulous. Here's my review from Bookbitch.com:

Years ago, after a horrible surgical accident, Dr. Dafydd Woodruff escaped to the tiny, secluded town of Moose Creek, Alaska. Woodruff served nine months as a temporary doctor in the town and then returned to his home in Whales. Today, Dr. Woodruff is a much respected surgeon who has managed to put his past behind him. Woodruff and his wife have everything going for them, but have been trying unsuccessfully to have a baby. Then one day, Dafydd receives a letter from a thirteen-year-old girl back in Moose Creek. She claims that she and her twin brother are Dafydd’s children. The problem is Dafydd swears he never had any sort of physical relationship with the children’s mother. DNA results don’t lie, however, and Dafydd returns to Moose Creek to find out just what is going on. What he discovers there will change his life forever. This gripping debut is infectiously readable. From page one, Sewell snatches hold of readers and never lets up. Surprisingly enough, Ice Trap is inspired by – but not based on – an actual event in the author’s life. With her debut title already the subject of much buzz and nominated for multiple awards, Kitty Sewell is one author who will definitely be a great.

I loved everything about this book: the setting is amazing, stark, and chilling in multiple ways and Sewell's characters are rich and round and utterly real. And her writing! Agh, it's totally engaging, almost hypnotic. Bloodprint was no less amazing. If you're a fan of psychological suspense, you need to run out and get Ice Trap! Bloodprint hits shelves February 3 (I'll be reviewing it this week for BB).

I was happy tagged!

It's another meme. I was tagged by Vickie over at Vixen's Daily Reads (check her out). The rules are:

1. Link to the person who has tagged you.
2. Write down six things that make you happy.
3. Post the rules, tag six others and let them know you did it.
4. Then tell the person when your entry is complete.
Six things that make me happy: 
1. When Mike is Home
2. My Cats
3. Good Food
4. Good Books
5. Good Friends
6. Having Nothing to Worry About

I will tag:
Cheryl over at Cheryl's Book Nook
Jenn over at Jenn's Bookshelf
J. Kaye over at J. Kaye's Book Blog
Vickie, you would normally be my 6th!

Monday, January 26, 2009

Another link

Grumpy Dan has posted an interview with author Diana Spechler over on his blog. Check it out and enter for a chance to win her novel, Who By Fire

Happy reading and good luck!

A Bit of News

Neil Gaiman has won the 2009 Newberry for The Graveyard Book. Yay!

But What Happens Next?

So I saw Inkheart this weekend. Yes, before you ask, I have spent what I am sure is record breaking time at the theater in the past two weeks. I have now seen every single movie that is currently playing that I could possibly want to see. Not to worry, there are more starting at the end of this week as well.

Part of the reason I've been so often is because there have been quite a few movies that I have been interested in seeing. The other part is that my other has not been home much over the past month. He's been working on a movie himself, one that just won the audience award in the documentary category. For those of you curious, here is the link to the trailer for The Cove. 

I haven't actually had much else as far as options for getting out of the house. I have no problems seeing movies alone, though, so... yeah, lots of movies. 

Anyway, my sister has been dying to see Inkheart ever since first hearing that it was being made into a movie. I mean, c'mon, it's a movie about the ability to bring stories to life! How freaking cool is that for anyone who loves to read? And I thought that they did a pretty good job as far as the movie is concerned. Her opinion will be the true test, though, as I have not yet read the book. I've only read one of Cornelia Funke's books, in fact, and that was The Thief Lord.

So, Inkheart, the movie, begins with father and daughter Mo (Brendan Fraser) and Meggie (Eliza Bennett) traveling to an antiquarian bookseller's somewhere in Europe. Mo is a book doctor, so to speak, and repairs old tomes. He is also, we soon learn, searching for a book called Inkheart. And, after nine years of looking, he's found a copy. We soon learn that Mo is a silvertongue, someone who has the ability to bring a story to life just by reading aloud. Course he never knew that he had this talent until the characters from Inkheart came to life all those years ago and his own wife was transported into the book in their place. It's good stuff!

I thought the story was great (can't compare the adaptation just yet, but from the viewpoint of someone unfamiliar with the story, it was great). The actors were fantastic. I'm a big, big fan of Paul Bettany and his role as Dustfinger is a frustrating, but great one. Helen Mirren stars as Meggie's great aunt Elinor and Andy Serkis (Gollum) stars as Capricorn, the bad guy. Sienna Guillory (Jill Valentine from Resident Evil: Apocalypse) rounds out the cast as Resa, Meggie's mother. 

It's rated PG but makes a great film for parents and kids in my humble opinion. If you love books and fantasy, take your kids to see this movie. And if you don't have kids, pretend you're one and go see it yourself like I did. 

Unfortunately, after seeing the movie I wanted to know how the story could continue into two more books, but my sister hasn't read book two. So what was a book junkie to do? Run out and buy the books myself, that's what. I've not had a chance to crack them open just yet, but I went ahead and bought Inkheart as well as Inkspell and Inkdeath.  

Little sis has no school tomorrow so if she's lucky she'll be going to see it. If not, well, I wish I were there to take her to all my movies!

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Win a Free Book

Horror World is giving away a copy of Lisa Mannetti's The Gentling Box. It's a creepy 19th century horror tale about gypsies and superstitions. 

Here's the link. Horror World has an excerpt from the book and instructions on entering to win at the bottom. 

Lisa has also been listed as a Stoker nomination. Congrats for making it this far and here's to going all the way!

New Releases 1/27

Some of the new titles hitting shelves this week are:

The Magic Knot by Helen Scott Taylor - debut paranormal/fantasy romance and winner of RT's American Title contest (last year)
Castaways by Brian Keene - Survivor horror tale; super fun!
Evil Without a Face by Jordan Dane - first in a new series and fantastic!
Blood Blade by Marcus Pelegrimas - first in the Skinners series. Great urban fantasy action read.
Cut to the Quick by Dianne Emley - second title in the Nan Vining trilogy.
Trouble in Mudbug by Jana Deleon
Warning Signs by CJ Lyons - second in the Angels of Mercy medical thriller series.
Soultaker by Bryan Smith
Wicked Game by Lisa Jackson and Nancy Bush

New on DVD:
Lakeview Terrace
Vicky Christina Barcelona
RocknRolla

New reviews at Bookbitch.com:
Warning Signs
The Magic Knot
Castaways
Evil Without a Face
Fatal February by Barbara Levenson
Pride by Rachel Vincent


Saturday, January 24, 2009

Werewolves are Hot Right Now

Last week I saw Underworld and Underworld: Evolution on sale with a link for a free ticket to see Underworld: Rise of the Lycans. Well how in the world could I pass that up? I like the first film and though the second was pretty cheesy (I recall it looked as though it borrowed cg from Van Helsing) but I was planning on seeing the latest installment anyway so all in all, I got two dvds and a movie ticket for $14. Not a bad deal if you ask me.

My sister is just about desperate to see this movie. She loves werewolves, though she does bat for Team Cullen given the choice. I have always had a different sort of idea about werewolves. Granted, they've not been all that popular in my reading days. I know I've read one book strictly about them and not in a good way. I've seen The Howling and it's a pretty good flick. Other than that and old Wolfman movies, (can we wipe Cursed from the record considering the fact that all I can think about is what could have been when I see it?) werewolves just haven't been all that big. Must not forget Teen Wolf here either, but let's face it, after that heyday, werewolves slunk into the background as side characters with vamps and fey and all that taking the lead in mainstream stuff. 

So I'm kind of seeing Rise of the Lycans as just that. I just finished reading a book where werewolves play a big part. Frankly, though, I'd rather see less of the dirty mongrel type that are out to shred every living thing to pieces and more of Michael Sheen's type. That man is HOT!

So, Underworld: Rise of the Lycans. I saw it yesterday and thought it was pretty good. It is a prequel. You've heard some of the story already about how Lucien and Viktor's war began. This is the whole thing in 90 mins of uprising, escape, and massacre. I could have done without the cheesy fade-out sex scenes - they're just not for me and knowing the 16 year old wants to see it that bad, I still had to warn mom since she will probably be the one squirming and blushing at taking her teen to see that. They're really not all that bad or long considering; I think mom should go for it! But then I'm out to corrupt the jjs anyway. 

Overall, effects were pretty good. The werewolves themselves were not attractive at all and most of the time, in human form anyway, they take on the appearance of grungy, dirty, muscly men working for the vamps. And again, Michael Sheen, yum! I swear if this man is not the most well-hidden secret in hollywood I don't know what is. You can watch him all clean cut in Frost/Nixon if you like, but I think like Hugh Jackman and Wolverine, Michael Sheen is Lucien for me. As a side note, he will also be the Cheshire Cat in the upcoming Tim Burton live-action Alice in Wonderland. It remains to be seen as to whether he will be contributing just voice or what. 

Having just seen Bill Nighy in Vakyrie (an utterly fantastic movie), it was a bit hard for me to make the transition back to Viktor, but he plays the aging evil blood sucker very well. Rhona Mitra plays Sonja, Viktor's daughter, and yes the resemblance between her and Kate Beckinsale is intentional. Plus, I love the way the movie ties it all up leading directly into Underworld. Kevin Grevioux makes his return as Raze and you get to see just how he joins the band of merry hairy men as well. 

So, if you're looking for a paranormal action flick (not horror, I don't think I would consider Rise of the Lycans horror) I suggest you see Rise of the Lycans. Frankly, it's not a bad way to spend an hour and a half and I like the franchise. 

Friday, January 23, 2009

From Page to Screen

MJ Rose's The Reincarnationist to become tv show? We'll see. According to today's PW, though, Rose has sold a pilot and would be a consulting producer. 

Snow and Superstition

I'm a superstitious person, no doubt about it. I have to knock on wood and I can't ever say really bad things out of fear that they will happen. It extends further than that, but you get my point. 

The last time (and actually first time) that I had a big honking Dan Simmons arc to read, we got hit by a blizzard! A freaking blizzard! And me, the southern girl who loves 75 degree year-round weather, well I was miserable. Or would have been had Dan Simmons and his over 1,000 pages gotten me through it (James Herbert helped as well). Surprisingly, or not, both reads had to do with inclement weather. 

We've had some really nice weather here lately. I've even been able to turn off my heater it's been so warm. Course my friend had to go and ruin it by saying that snow was coming. That paired with the fact that I have Drood coming up on my TBR shelf leaves me a little worried about it. Yeah, yeah, I know I'm a bit ridiculous. 

Anyway, I just realized that I never actually posted a review on that first Dan Simmons book, The Terror. I loved this book! Some might say that it is long and drawn out, but the story is one that fascinated me to begin with and then he adds a supernatural twist to it and you've got the perfect long read. Sometimes that's a good thing! Sometimes you get that book that you just don't want to end and this was one of them. 

Here's my review as it appeared on Bookbitch.com (from the archives of course):

In 1845, the John Franklin Discovery Expedition set off from England in search of the illusive Northwest Passage.  The expedition’s two ships, HMS Terror and HMS Erebus, were better equipped for the voyage through this hostile environment than any before.  The ships’ hulls were fortified against the ice and there was enough tinned food to last for five years.  In 1847, the ships became frozen in the ice.  Suffering from malnutrition as a result of the poorly prepared food, scurvy and lead poisoning, the men set off, on foot, across the ice.  Evidence suggests that the men ultimately resorted to cannibalism in a desperate attempt to survive.  Dan Simmons draws on an abundance of historical documents and adds his own signature twist to this gruesome and tragic tale.  The story begins in October 1847, nearly two months after the ships become trapped in the ice.  An unknown predator is silently stalking the sailors, killing them one by one.  This is a very hefty and dense read.  My hand literally fell asleep holding the book up.  Simmons has brilliantly made over a fascinating tale of one of the most famous failed expeditions into a horrific and frightening fiction read -- a great accomplishment for any author and just one more sure win for Simmons.

I'm going to cross my fingers that we don't end up with another blizzard, but I gotta tell you that Simmons is a good one to be snowed in with!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

But I Thought I Didn't Like It

When I was thirteen, I discovered John Grisham's The Client on my grandmother's bookshelves. Her collection of mysteries is still a wonder for me and I peruse her shelves each time I am at her house. At that time, though, I would go stay with her for a few days each summer and around the holidays and enjoy days on days of reading and eating junk food and watching MTV (something that was not allowed at home).

Anyway, I loved The Client and after that, my reading grandmother started buying me my own John Grisham collection. Problem is that with the exception of The Client, I really didn't like his stuff. It's just not for me.

A couple years later, I took a stab at a true crime book my mom had read as a teen. Helter Skelter is the story of the Charles Manson murders, and about a third of the way in you're already past the crimes and into the case. I stopped reading and left my mom's old bubblegum wrapper bookmarks never to return again.

When I was in college, as part of my courts class assignment, I had to head on over to each of the city's courthouses (local, parish, and federal) to observe cases. One day at each. And I thanked my lucky stars that there were no cases going on.

When I did my internship, I sat in on two different cases. One was an evidence hearing regarding a case in which I had actually walked the scene and the other was regarding a case from the previous fall and various motions for it. Since I knew many of the cops who were taking the stand, these were actually interesting to me. I knew the cases and I knew the people involved, but otherwise, I have always and will always shy away from courtroom drama. Let's face it, it's really not all that dramatic for the most part.

So see, legal thrillers are just not for me, or so I thought. Then I discovered Lisa Scottoline. I had never read any of her books, having shied away from anything and everything bearing any sort of resemblance to Grisham's stuff from that very early reading age. At the time, I was working at the bookstore and had a great contact with her publisher who had sent me some of her favorite upcoming titles to read. I felt obligated to give the book, Devil's Corner, a shot. And guess what?! I loved it!

For those who have not read Scottoline, she writes in a way that reminds me of Mary Higgins Clark. It never goes over your head and they're packed with an intensity and suspense that keeps you on the edge of your seat. And one of my favorite things, her plots are exciting and different. I never feel like I'm reading the same book over and over again as I have found with, well, others.

I never reviewed Devil's Corner, and my book diary merely notes my thanks that she is NOT at all like Grisham. So, since it's been over three years, here is the flap copy from my first and favorite Lisa Scottoline (favorite because it introduced me to her):

"Vicki Allegretti always wondered what it would feel like to look into the barrel of a loaded gun, and now she knew."
From the very first sentence of Devil's Corner, Lisa, a New York Times bestselling author, launches an action-packed tale of murder and conspiracy set on the gritty streets of Philadelphia, but this time she departs from the halls of Rosato & Associates, and delivers a stand-alone thriller featuring a gutsy new heroine, Vicki Allegretti.

When prosecutor Vicki Allegretti arrives at a rowhouse to meet a confidential informant, she finds herself in the wrong place at the wrong time—and is almost shot to death. She barely escapes with her life, but cannot save the two others gunned down before her disbelieving eyes. Stunned and heartbroken, Vicki tries to figure out how a routine meeting on a minor case became a double homicide.

Then she sets out to see justice done. She can identify the killers—now all she has to do is find them.

Vicki's suspicions take her to
Devil's Corner, a city neighborhood teetering on the brink of ruin—thick with broken souls, innocent youth, and a scourge that preys on both. But the deeper Vicki probes, the more she becomes convinced that the murders weren't random and the killers were more ruthless than she thought. Agreeing with her is her office crush, golden boy Dan Malloy—who is unfortunately too married to give Vicki the kind of support a girl really needs.

When another murder thrusts Vicki together with an unlikely ally, she buckles up for a wild ride down a dangerous street—and into the cross-hairs of a conspiracy as powerful as it is relentless.

Set against the pulsing, real backdrop of a modern American city, with a storyline driven by the strong female characters and breakneck pace that has become her trademark,
Devil's Corner is Lisa most satisfying novel yet.


Visit Lisa Scottoline's site for more info on her other titles (many are linked through common characters) and pick up one today if you haven't already. Or, if you're like me and you had a have a perception about a certain kind of book out there, ask around and find one to try. You never know, you may happily find yourself proven wrong like I was.

And as an added bonus for those of you adding this to your TBR list, BN.com has the hardcover on bargain right now!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Ugh!

Hi, guys. Today has been a day. Sorry no post, I was at the office helping out with the phones. I managed to get some work done and then managed to accidentally delete all of the work I got done (stupid, stupid, stupid!). Now have a headache and just feel generally glum about my wasted time. 

Anyway, I finished up some reading last night and have more on my plate so I'll get something here for you tomorrow. In the meantime, hope everyone is having a happy reading day! Top Chef is calling. 

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

It's Like Survivor, Only Better

I'm not a big fan of Survivor, or any other reality show in general. Sure, I have my few, mostly Bravo shows, but the rest I kind of see as strange social experiments. Personally, I like to pretend I have some hope that people can be nice to each other, and shows like Survivor don't help that view. They're all out to get one another and stab each other in the back to win. 

I understand that that's the point, to win, but there's not much skill involved. Aside from the challenges, what really matters is how you can manipulate your fellow competitors. The person who deserves to win, is therefore not always the person who walks away with the cash. I will admit, though, that it was pretty amusing to hear about a certain nude someone's tax evasion. 

That being said, I've just started reading Brian Keene's latest, Castaways. In this latest from the author of The Rising (2003 Stoker winner for First Novel) and City of the Dead, contestants on the show Castaways are fighting for the cash and their lives. Like Survivor, the contestants must use their wits and strength to duke it out for a million bucks. Unfortunately, there are a few things that they weren't prepared for in this contest. First a serious storm is set to hit the island and their told that leaving will forfeit their contracts and leave them disqualified from the show. Then it turns out that the island is not uninhabited after all. Sure they were told the stories about how the locals avoid the place and all that, but they all thought it was just to add drama to the show. They were wrong. 

There's more to it than that, and Keene gets to the action rather quickly in this horrific survivalist tale, but I won't give it away. It's too much fun to discover it on your own. With winter upon us, Castaways is the perfect, chilling beach read to curl up with inside where you're safe and warm. 


Monday, January 19, 2009

I'd Like One Adult Ticket For...

So while Mike's been off enjoying himself in NYC and now at Sundance (here's hoping their movie gets lots o' buzz), I've been stuck here all by my lonesome. Well, the animals are good company, but I can't really pack them up for a dinner out and a movie, can I? 

I've also been wrapping up the latest b&b cookbook, my fourth! Ach, I'm a semi-author. I have one last trip to the grocery story to check package sizes on some name-brand items and then I have to burn the image disc and put the rest on my itty bitty drive to hand over to the designer and I will be done with this one (and straight onto the next one, I'd really like a couple of days' relaxation, but, gotta make a living). 

In the past week, I've seen 5 movies at the theater. Yep, I know it's a lot, but... And actually there's still another that I would like to see before it's too late. 

Of the 5, I would say 1 was amazing, another was pretty damn good, one was fun, and the other two (the ones I had highest hopes for) were pretty disappointing. I already told you about Slumdog Millionaire, the one that was amazing, and now I'll share yesterday's flick, the one that was pretty damn good. 

Yesterday I dragged my irritated butt over to see Defiance. See, I like to be very much in control of my environment. If I want it quiet, I want it quiet. Unfortunately, living with a 5-year-old in a giant's body means I almost never have control over any of the noise. So, to save my sanity, I skipped on over to the theater, where the noise would be of my choosing. See, Becky logic. 

Defiance is the story of the Bielski partisans, a group of Jewish people led by the Bielski brothers who lived in what is now Belarus. The brothers, played by Daniel Craig, Liev Schreiber, and Jamie Bell, helped over 1200 citizens survive in the woods during the German occupation of WWII. Though I'm sure the film takes some liberties with the facts (see Wikipedia for critical response), I thought it was a great film. Given the subject matter, it's not, you know, a fabulous heartwarming way to spend the afternoon, but it's a look at a piece of history that I'm sure many of us are completely unfamiliar with. I didn't walk away with any negative response, in fact, I found it to be somewhat inspiring given the subject matter. 

All three of the men I mentioned are wonderful actors and play their parts very well. Liev Schreiber has long been one of my favorites and I think Jamie Bell must be part fae because he never seems to age at all. And Daniel Craig, well, the Bond man can just do no wrong as far as I'm concerned. I take that back, there are definitely some roles I would never want to see him play, mainly so that he keeps that hunky status in my eyes. Others in the film include Mark Feuerstein (love him), Alexa Davalos, and Mia Wasikowska (starring as Alice in the new live-action Alice in Wonderland).

Anyway, it's by no means a light film, but as I said, it's an inspiring story. And it's another reminder of one atrocious part of history that hopefully will never repeat itself in any form. 

Sunday, January 18, 2009

New Releases 1/20/09

Some of the new releases hitting shelves this week are:

The Temptation of the Night Jasmine by Laura Willig - latest in the Pink Carnation series

Agincourt by Bernard Cornwell

A Rule Against Murder by Louise Penney - latest Armand Gamache mystery

Fall of the Templars by Robyn Young - third in her Templar series, following Brethren and Crusade

New on DVD:
Saw V
Max Payne
Igor
City of Ember
Amusement
Henry Poole is Here
Repo! The Genetic Opera

New reviews at Bookbitch.com:
Three Weeks to Say Goodbye by CJ Box
The Gentling Box by Lisa Mannetti
Mystical Art of Erasing All Signs of Death by 

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Better than ER!

I love medical thrillers. In fact, I think if I had been better in science I would possibly have gone into virology. But I'm not and so I didn't. Instead I read about others who are. CJ Lyons is one of the latest to join the medical thriller list and she's wonderful. I had the pleasure of meeting CJ at LCC last year where her first book SOLD OUT. Yep, the bookstore on site sold out of every copy of her debut paperback, Lifelines. I bought mine on the way home that evening so I could her to sign it the next day and I think I read most of it overnight. 

Since it is time for CJ's next book, Warning Signs, to hit shelves, I thought I would take this opportunity to post about the first book in the series. You know, to get you all to run out and buy both! 

So, here's my review from the Bookbitch archives:

July 1st, the deadliest day of the year. It’s transition day at Pittsburgh’s Angel of Mercy Hospital, the day when the new interns begin work. Dr. Lydia Fiore is also starting her first day as Attending Physician in the ER at Angel of Mercy. Before her first shift has ended, though, Lydia has the misfortune of losing the wrong patient. She is immediately suspended pending an investigation, despite the fact that it appears she and her team did everything they could to save the man. The autopsy shows strong evidence of poisoning, but Lydia is still not off the hook. She must uncover the truth behind the man’s death before she loses not only her career, but maybe even her life. This is a fabulous debut and must read for any thriller fan. Lyons draws on her own experiences as an ER physician to create a medical thriller that is way more intense than anything you’ve ever seen on ER.

Readers who enjoy Michael Palmer and Robin Cook will love CJ Lyons. 

I started reading Warning Signs just last night and can't wait to get back to it! It's just as gripping as Lifelines. Anyway, I've got work to do before I can get back to reading. Sorry again for the short posts guys.  

Thursday, January 15, 2009

The To Be Read Nightmare

Hi, I'm Becky, and I'm a book junkie. Yep. I am. I have an insatiable need to own every book in existence and will try to read them all before I go, even though I know it will never happen. 

See, I don't care that my to be read stack grows exponentially. It doesn't bother me one bit. In fact, once upon a time, I threatened to wrap them all as gifts so that my next book would always be a surprise. Some books, though, keep getting pushed down the stack. I take them on vacation and don't get around to them for one reason or another. Maybe they've been out for a while and I'm trying to get all my new release reviews done, or maybe everyone and their brother has already reviewed the book, or maybe *gasp* the book is out of print. Gotta hate when that happens. Still, it doesn't stop my accumulating more. So here's a look at two of the books that have been commanding space on my TBR shelf for a while now.

While I was at LCC, I kept my ear open for things the attending authors were reading. I love to poach books. I think I'm pretty knowledgeable of what's out there, but I have to keep listening for those brilliant books that maybe I don't know about. A couple of books that are in my massive TBR stack were mentioned as being particularly disturbing reads and me and my twisted taste immediately perked up. 

One of those books was John Fowles The Collector. This is one of those books that I will read before I die. I spent my time working at the bookstore debating about buying the thing and kept putting it off. Then I did buy it and now it sits waiting for my chance to read it. I think I have a fear of this book, though. A fear that it will not live up to the massive standard that has been set for it. I know it's a classic, but I also know the sinking feeling that comes with having too high an expectation for something. I'm trying to work on this, ok. I will read it. It will be horrifically fantastic. 

Anyway, for those of you in the same boat I am, or for those of you who sadly are not familiar with this particular book, here's some info:

Published in 1963, The Collector is (from amazon.com) an "archetypal tale of good and evil, a beautiful, idealistic young woman studying art in London is kidnapped by a startlingly ordinary young man who wants only to keep her--like the butterflies he has collected before her." 

Another of those books that was mentioned at LCC was Patricia Highsmith's Strangers on a Train. Now I've seen some of the Hitchcock version of this tale and I'm wondering what was so massively disturbing about this book that one person commented readers in his book club couldn't finish the book. 

Strangers is the story of two strangers who meet on a train and agree to do one another a favor. One man is supposed to kill the other man's wife, and that man is supposed to kill the other man's father. And that's all I know. 

You can probably see how this fan of thrillers, horrors, psychological thrillers, mysteries, and such would be intrigued about these two books. One has been said to prompt criminals into action (something I don't believe but I believe they believe) and the other caused book clubbers to abandon it without finishing because it bothered them so much. 

Apologies to my friends who bought me the Highsmith book and kept asking if I had read it yet. I promise I will!

So what's hiding at the back of your tbr shelf? Think it's time to blow off the dust and give 'em a try? I know I do! 

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Hi, Everyone!

Just a quick blog today, sorry about no post yesterday. I am in the wrapping up stages of my fourth b&b cookbook and have set a deadline to turn it in on Monday. So, still lots to do. 

Mike is getting home from NY tonight and then leaving again on Friday to go to Sundance. I'm hoping I can get enough done to feel comfortable taking tomorrow off and that is why the short post today and no post yesterday.

I did take a brief break last nigh to go see Slumdog Millionaire. I had hoped to go to the Scott Sigler signing in Denver but as I don't really go to Denver all that often, was not too keen to navigate downtown all by my lonesome and deal with parking. I wish it had been at the newer store and then that wouldn't have been an issue. Oh well. 

So, at 7:30 I headed over to the movie theater to see what I hoped would be a great flick to improve my mood. And it was. I love Danny Boyle. With the exception of Trainspotting (which I read but cannot watch) I think I have seen every one of Boyle's films (every one available in the States that is) and I love them all. 

If you haven't seen Slumdog yet, here's a bit about it. Dev Patel plays Jamal, an 18-year-old who makes it onto the hit gameshow Who Wants to be a Millionaire. Time runs out just before the final question and in the interim, Jamal is arrested and questioned out of suspicion of cheating. After all, how could a poor boy from the slums of Mumbai possibly know the answers to all the questions. No one ever makes it as far as he did. Through flashbacks, we find that each questions has something to do with Jamal's past, a past intertwined with that of Latika (played by Frieda Pinto) his true love. In getting on the show, Jamal's one hope was that she would be watching. 

Patel also stars in the UK show Skins. This is Frieda Pinto's first role. 

It's a great movie with a great story that only varies somewhat (from what I've read) from the book it is based on, Q&A by Vikas Swarup. Everyone should see it. For once, I agree with all the awards and critical praise that a movie is getting. Go see it!

Anyway, I got home around 10-ish and worked until 12:30 and then read until 2 and am totally beat. BUT, I have to much to do to slack off today. 

Monday, January 12, 2009

Another Rec From My Reading Past

Once upon a time, I used to go to the library. Now, I have nothing against libraries at all. I love them, in fact. I don't go simply because I buy my books now. See, I have this insane obsession with my books and I love to own them, to have them from here until eternity, and borrowing them for free from the library means that I would then have to buy them anyway, at least until they develop therapy for my kind of problem. 

Anyway, back to my story. When I was a kid, I would hit the library and hit it hard. I mean, I would walk away with a stack of books. Not the school library mind you, they had a two book limit that kept me coming back every other day to trade for new ones. No, the BIG library that had no limit and had massive amounts of books that would never be found in my teeny school library (although I loved that one too. Side Note: We used to have "red dot" in which the books were not yet divided by reading level, but by whether there had been a test developed for the book and since I was in French, I didn't have "reading" class. I would sneak in and take tests for my friends!). 

On these visits to the library (wish it was the Doctor Who library minus the man-eating shadows), I had a particular affinity for shiny new hardcovers. I think, in my mind, there was a chance that I hadn't seen and therefore rejected those books on prior visits and so they were the first ones to look at. 

I distinctly remember checking out Lois McMaster Bujold's T he Spirit Ring. It was one of these shiny new books, in our shiny new library (it was newly built and this was one of my first visits to the new building). A short time later, The Spirit Ring would be my very first hardcover purchase at a bookstore. Yep, that's when the trouble began apparently. It seems the book may be out of print now, but I highly suggest hunting down a used copy, if you can. And since it has been such a very long time (time to re-read this one now), here is what PW had to say about the book's release back in 1993:

"Hugo and Nebula winner Bujold (the Miles Vorkosigan series; Barrayar ) makes her hardcover debut with this enthralling dark fantasy set in Renaissance Italy, where the church regulates magic and licenses magicians. After Uberto Ferrante assassinates the Duke of Montefoglia and takes over the duchy, master goldsmith and sorcerer Prospero Beneforte flees with his 16-year-old daughter, Fiametta. But he dies of a heart attack while being pursued by Ferrante's men for his magical powers and knowledge. His unshriven body is taken back to Ferrante to be used in making a spirit ring granting the usurper the strong powers of black magic. Fiametta, talented in magic and metalwork but untrained because she is female, joins with Thur Ochs, a young Swiss with untapped skills in necromancy, to rescue the souls of her father and of Ochs's brother, a mercenary soldier. Aided by a wise churchman, the two youngsters take on the ancient evil of sorcery used for devilish ends. In a perfectly natural manner, Bujold incorporates the concept of magic into this crisply paced, fully developed tale. She notes that Benvenuto Cellini served as the inspiration for the hugely talented, hugely egocentric Beneforte."

I'm busy finishing up my fourth cookbook, so I apologize for using PW instead of my own review. As I said, it has been a while since I read this one. I think I re-read it during college and I graduated in '02, just to give you some idea. 

So, happy reading. Hope this prompts you to hit up your library in search of this one (or a used bookstore if you must, must, must own it like me). Oh, and if you've got a Kindle, apparently it is available in that format. How cool is that? 

Sunday, January 11, 2009

New Releases 1/13

Some of the new titles hitting shelves this week are:

The Mystic Arts of Erasing All Signs of Death by Charlie Huston - I'm reading this one now and loving it!

Mounting Fears by Stewart Woods

Water Dogs by Lewis Robinson

New on DVD:
Mirrors
Appaloosa
My Best Friend's Girl
Brideshead Revisited
Swing Vote

New reviews at Bookbitch.com:
One More Bite by Jennifer Rardin
Never Tell a Lie by Hallie Ephron
Judas Kiss by JT Ellison
Eat Me: The Food and Philosophy of Kenny Shopsin by Kenny Shopsin and Carolynn Careno
Contagious by Scott Sigler

Friday, January 9, 2009

Rardin Does it Again

So today (Thursday) I finished reading, One More Bite, the fifth installment to Jennifer Rardin's fab Jaz Parks series. I love urban fantasy, especially when there's a mystery element. A fellow shelfari reader commenting on her eclectic reading tastes pointed out that most of what she reads falls under the mystery "umbrella" even if it is sci-fi, fantasy, whatever. I have to admit that I pretty much follow this reading standard as well. I like for there to be something in the book to keep me on edge and keep me wondering until the end. It doesn't have to be a murder, sometimes it's a family secret or something along those lines, but there's usually at least a little of it in most of what I read. 

I can say that virtually every urban fantasy that I have come across has a mystery element to it. If you can name one that doesn't, please let me know. Anyway, when I read the first Jennifer Rardin title, I was blown away. Not only is there a bit of a mystery element to them, but they're pretty much spy novels. When book four came out, I posted this regarding a tag on the promo card that came with my copy in which someone had dubbed the series Spy-Fi. I still think it's absolutely brilliant. 

In this latest installment (no spoilers for the others, so don't worry), Jaz and team are sent to Scotland to protect a coven leader who has a hit put out on her by a group of weres. When Jaz and Vayle and Cole arrive, with Jaz's annoying father in tow, they discover that said witch has a bit of a ghost problem on top of everything else. Not only that, but the witch seems to have some tricks of her own up her sleeve and Jaz is bound and determined to find out what it is, even if it directly conflicts with the official orders. 

Each new book brings new revelations about each of the characters. I dare you to read them and not completely fall in love with the series. I like them that much!

Readers who like Kim Harrison and even Charlaine Harris will like this series. Jaz is spunky and has some issues (she talks to her dead grandmother who lives in her head) and the books are actually pretty funny. Rardin's also great at throwing in pop culture references that I always get a kick out of (I lurve Simon Pegg and Hot Fuzz!).

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Spoiled

I read pretty fast compared to the average reader. There are others who read even faster than I do, and I am really jealous of them. There are just so many great books out there and not nearly enough time to tackle them all. Every once in a while, I come across these fantastic, one-sitting-reads that leave me literally spoiled. Books that are so fast-paced that I can literally sit and read them in one go. Granted, the timing has something to do with it. If I can sit and devote four hours to any book, I can probably come pretty close to finishing, but these are books that just beg to be read all at once. It kind of ruins me for reading for a few days! Seriously. Most books even I can't read in one go. Everyday life begs attention and other things need to be done, but these seem to find me right at the perfect time that I can put everything on hold and devote all my time to them. 

Throughout my reading years, some of these memorable ones include Mary Higgins Clark's Where are the Children, Harlan Coben's Tell No One, and Minette Walters' Devil's Feather. The list goes on much longer than that, but these are the ones that come to mind as past reads that I recall not moving at all until finishing!

Most recently, Hallie Ephron's amazing debut, Never Tell a Lie, joined the list and right on its heels was CJ Box's Three Weeks to Say Goodbye

Three Weeks is the story of one couple's worst nightmare come true. The McGuanes tried for years to have their own child before trying adoption. They were chosen eighteen months by their daughter's birth mother, to be the parents of her child. At the time, the adoption agency handling the case attempted multiple times to contact the father. The McGuanes were told that it was not unusual to get no response and the adoption was finalized seemingly without issue. After nine months with their daughter, however, just two weeks shy of the deadline to claim her, the father steps forward. Helping him along is his high-powered federal judge of a father. The McGuanes meet with the two and appeal to their good nature but are told that they will have to hand over the child in just three weeks. With the help of their friends, the couple will attempt to use that time to find some way to keep their child, without the help of the courts. No one is willing to go up against the judge, and they're all about to find out why. 

This book is an emotional roller-coaster of a read. I was angry, I was sad, I was shocked and horrified, and I was on the edge of my seat the whole time. Box is well-known for his popular Joe Pickett series, a series I have yet to read, and if this book is any indication, I understand why!

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Stress relief

So Mike is in NYC again for work and will return in a week only to leave again for Sundance. I should have pushed to go with him, but I do have to finish up the current book I am working on and then make some headway with the next. Plus, I wasn't sure how much it would cost us in the long run. Anyway. I'm stuck here with the (me screaming) roomie. I've always said cats make the best roommates, that should give you some idea of the type of person I am.

I had some work stress last evening and this morning. Actually, looking back it really wasn't stress at all, I think it's more just frustration at being alone right now and at not being able to do the things I would like to do. I had to scramble to get some things together this morning so I could run into the office and get some stuff done so I didn't have a chance to get anything posted (by fault regarding the scrambling, btw). 

So, a movie post. How do I relieve my stress when I seem to have an alcohol allergy? I take loooong baths and I drink tea and I read my books and I watch movies. Lots of movies. 

On Saturday night, I stayed up to watch IFC play one of my favorite indie horror films, Cube. This is the kind of movie that you take one look at in the video store and wonder if you really have nothing else that can occupy an hour and a half. Believe me, I know. I actually rented it ages ago and returned it without watching before I rented it again. It was fantastic! It's gory in all the right places and leaves you scratching your head wondering what the hell is really going on in the end. 

In Cube, for those of you who have yet to experience this masterpiece of Canadian cinema, a group of people wakes up inside cube-shaped rooms with no idea how they got there (you get one person and then she finds other people). There are doors in the middle of each of the room's walls and on the ceiling and the floor. Each door leads to another cube, but the trick is that some of them are booby trapped. They're really gross, too. Anyway, the people inside the cube have to survive long enough to figure out the key to the trapped rooms vs the safe rooms and try to find a way out. It's a simple enough plot, but I find it to be a super fun film. And super cringe-worthy in some instances. 

On Sunday, after working that morning I decided to take a break and watch Cube Zero. I won't really tell you anything about it because it does reveal a bit more about the cube's purpose, but only slightly. It had actually been a while since I had seen it so it was kind of new for me, in a way. Always fun with a movie you like. 

I'm totally beat tonight, but am seriously considering watching Cube 2 now to try and wind down. It is essentially Cube with different actors and a smidgen more info. And sure, even after watching all three you're still left scratching your head and sadly there will not be another that I know of, but all in all, for some really low budget flicks, I find them highly entertaining. They aren't packed with well-known actors (and in some cases the acting is kind of, erm, bad). In fact, the most recognizable, are Nicole de Boer from Dead Zone in the first movie, Kari Matchett (of various shows) and Geraint Wyn Davies (of Forever Knight) of Cube 2. One great thing about them, though, is that they really don't require a lot of special effects (something that can totally ruin a low budget flick). I love them. It's that simple. They really are just cool and engrossing movies. Well worth it if you've had a rough day and just want to collapse on the couch for a few hours. 

As an aside, I was surprised to find that there's much more hidden in Cube than I realized. I'll direct you to the Wikipedia site if you are interested, but suggest looking only after you've seen the movies because they do tell you the WHOLE plot of the movies. 

Happy watching and hopefully your day has been easier than mine (which wasn't that hard, man I am whiny). 

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

This Just In

Want to read some great sci-fi and fantasy for just $1? Orbit has started a $1 e-book program. Books change monthly and there is no word on how long the deal will last, but they do have Feb, March, and April's selections posted now. 

Head over to http://onedollarorbit.com to check it out. 

Sick, Twisted, and Brilliant


Scott Sigler is utterly fantastic. I say this because he absolutely grosses me out and makes my skin crawl and keeps me coming back for more! Sigler hit it big after giving away his books online. Yep, he gave them away to readers for free. He had so many freaking hits that the publishing company took notice and signed the man. Whoo-hoo! Great for Scott and great for the rest of us who hadn't yet discovered him. 

When Infected, the first book in his current series hit shelves in April, I was totally stoked. I had an arc and reviewed it here as well as at Bookbitch.com, urging you all to go out and read it. Well now it's time  (past time actually but I was on vacation) to head out to your local bookstore and buy the next book in the series, and get all grossed out again!

Contagious is the next step in the alien invasion. After Perry Dawsey (spoilers) survives his horrific ordeal in Infected, he's left with the ability to hear the triangles and their plans. He works with the government to help discover new gate locations and in turn "helps" the latest victims by killing them and ending their misery. Too bad, the government had hoped they could get an infected person alive so that they could study the creatures, I mean so they could cure the infected. Too bad Perry knows what these people have to go through in order for that to happen. Course his bad attitude and his problems with authority are quickly getting under his superiors' skins. Then something changes. The virus mutates and these new infected bring about something altogether different. Will Perry be enough to stop it? And just what is trying to come through the gate? 

Bloody, gruesome, gory and still a fantastic blend of horror, medical thriller, and sci-fi thriller, Contagious is great for anyone (with a strong stomach) looking for a standout novel this winter. 

Readers who enjoyed Tess Gerritsen's Gravity and Richard Preston's Hot Zone will love Sigler. 

Monday, January 5, 2009

Jenn Awarded me With a Butterfly!

Jenn over at Jenn's Bookshelf nominated me for the Butterfly Award. It's a meme so the rules are that I now have to pick up to 10 other blogs to award and post the links below. I read a ton of blogs and know there are many, many out there that deserve recognition. 

I'll give mine to:

Cheryl over at Cheryl's Book Nook
Tez over at Tez Says 
Vickie over at Vixen's Daily Reads

Thanks to all you guys for helping to keep this book junkie in a constant flow of new books through your fab recommendations. And thanks again to Jenn who should be added to that list as well except that she was already nominated. 

To anyone I missed, as I said, there are so many great book blogs out there and they really all deserve recognition. Thank you all for your recommendations and for doing your part to help promote great new books to everyone out there looking for them!

Another Twist on the Forensic Mysery

The term forensic refers to (as Wikipedia says it) a broad range of subspecialties which use techniques adapted from the natural sciences to obtain criminal or other legal evidence. This is why there are so many different things out there that are now popping up as "forensic." Really it's a group of people who specialize in all these different aspects that can be used in a court of law to help in cases. 

One of the most interesting ones out there that I have come across is forensic handwriting analysis. The idea that you can tell so much about a person by their handwriting is intriguing. Imagine filling out an application for a job only to be turned out because your handwriting revealed things about your personality that don't fit the job. Kind of scary if you think about it, but also really intriguing. 

This past summer, Signet picked up Sheila Lowe and her Claudia Rose series. Lowe's debut, Poison Pen, was originally published by a mystery publisher called Capital Crime Press. This, by the way, is a huge, huge deal for any author and small publisher out there. I actually purchased an old copy of Poison Pen and was really excited to hear Lowe's good news. Now, I have to say that at first, I was under the mistaken impression that the Claudia Rose books would be cozies. As I said, mistaken. This book was great (not that cozies aren't just that I want any cozy readers to be prepared, this may not be your cup of tea) and it was really fascinating. Here is my review as posted on Bookbitch.com:

Claudia Rose is one of the foremost experts in the field of graphology, or handwriting analysis. When a college “friend,” PR guru and overall nasty person, Lindsey Alexander, commits suicide, Lindsey’s business partner asks that Claudia analyze the suicide note. Claudia agrees with some reluctance as the man’s reasoning that Lindsey couldn’t have committed suicide hinge directly on the fact that the note was printed and she only wrote in script, and that the ink used was black rather than her signature green. Of course, he also reveals that if the death is ruled a suicide, the insurance won’t pay out and he can’t keep the business afloat without it. In searching for usable comparison handwriting, Claudia comes across one of Lindsey’s darkest secrets about her past. Then, Lindsey’s partner is murdered just moments before Claudia arrives to meet with him and Claudia has to admit that the evidence strongly suggests that Lindsey’s death was something much more sinister than the suspected suicide by overdose. Sheila Lowe herself is an expert in the field of handwriting analysis and the use of this rather interesting field as a background for the series is quite refreshing. Lowe develops her tale with an ease that is quite uncommon in many debuts. Poison Pen is a must-read for forensic mystery fans looking for something a little different.

Lowe's follow up, Written In Blood, is also now available and Rose will be returning in August in Dead Write. So, if you're looking for something a little bit different that will really get your blood pumping, I suggest you run out and pick up Poison Pen

Readers who enjoy feisty females like Jan Burke's Irene Kelly are sure to enjoy Sheila Lowe's Claudia Rose series.   

Sunday, January 4, 2009

New Releases 01/06/09

First new release post of the year! Thank God there are more releases coming out than in the past couple of weeks. 

Some of the titles hitting shelves this week include:

Never Tell a Lie by Hallie Ephron - a crazy intense thriller that will leave you on the edge of your seat all the way to the end

Beat the Reaper by Josh Bazell - a thriller debut that reads like Snatch and Fight Club

Fidali's Way by George Mastras - another thriller debut, this one from one of writers of AMC's Breaking Bad

Nemesis by Jo Nesbo - following Nesbo's popular debut, The Redbreast

Daemon by Daniel Suarez - a techno-thriller debut that has been getting a great amount of buzz

New on DVD:
Pineapple Express
Righteous Kill
Bangkok Dangerous
Babylon AD

Saturday, January 3, 2009

A Thrilling Series You Can't Miss

In 2007, Mira (an imprint of Harlequin) started their brilliant Summer of the Deadly 7 campaign. I was lucky enough to get to review each of the seven titles and loved them all. One of those authors was JT Ellison whose debut, All the Pretty Girls, truly blew me away. I posted a review on that first title back in August '08 around the time book 2, 14, was being released. Well, it's time again for Mrs. Ellison's latest in the series to hit shelves (came out Dec 30) and I just finished up reading it yesterday. (Reviews for both All the Pretty Girls and 14 can be found in the Bookbitch.com archives). 

In this third installment, Ellison really cuts her heroine no slack at all. In fact, parts of the book were downright frustrating as a bystander! Taylor and her team must face what could be the toughest times ever. 

It begins with Taylor and Baldwin returning from their non-honeymoon in Italy after the events of 14. The Pretender is still on the loose and Baldwin has been called back to the FBI to help out while his boss is on medical leave, or so he says. Turns out there's a professional hit man on the loose who has it out for Baldwin and his superiors aren't too keen on Taylor knowing about it just yet. Meanwhile, back in Nashville, Taylor and team are called in on a homicide that seems pretty clear cut. Corrine Wolff, an upper-class housewife, was found bludgeoned to death while her husband was away for the weekend. Course hubby's return trip is much shorter than expected and Taylor thinks the guy is dead guilty. Then they make some shocking discoveries about the Wolffs' personal lives and all of the sudden the case has shifted directions. Taylor also makes a disturbing discovery of her own after a run-in with a stranger. All of this and more cause trouble for Taylor with her superiors and the media. Judas Kiss will be followed by Edge of Black, due out later this year.

JT Ellison just keeps getting better and better! Taylor Jackson is definitely one of the best new heroines and I love reading about her. The teaser chaps at the end of these books just kill me, though. I'm on edge the entire book and then I get a sneak peek at one that I can't read yet. Ah well, just keeps me itching for more. Anyway, it's still early in the game and you can easily read through the series in a weekend. I highly suggest you do, if you haven't checked her out already, that is!

Readers who enjoy Lisa Jackson, John Sandford (one of Ellison's inspirations), and Brian Freeman will like this series. 

Friday, January 2, 2009

A Great Start

I just love it when I get to read a fantastic book. Sure, I actually love most of the books that I read, but I've kind of been in a slump lately for various reasons. Finding the perfect book to pull you out can sometimes be a chore, though. Authors you love and books you've been waiting for aren't always what the doctor ordered if you know what I mean. 

As I write this, the first day of the new year is coming to an end. I woke this morning and did some work (work always beckons). When I finally came to a stopping point, I picked up a book that I had brought with me last week in hopes of reading while I was in Louisiana. I was kind of freaking out because I didn't get to start it and I had stuck it in my duffel bag for easy reach in the car. I still didn't get to start it and I very specifically remembered unpacking it so that it would be the next book that I read. Lo and behold, last night it went mia. I was so mad! I couldn't imagine what I could have possibly done with the thing over the course of one evening!

I finally found it, though, and started it today only to end up completely glued to my seat (or in this case in the hot bath) until I finished it. It was that good! See, perfect for getting out of a slump. And drum roll, the fab read was... well it's no surprise really because the cover is above. Anyway, Hallie Ephron's amazing can't-put-it-down debut, Never Tell a Lie is the perfect thriller! It's got twists and turns and plenty of suspense. 

Ivy and David Rose are finally expecting their first child. In preparation of their expanding family, they decide it is time to clear out some of the clutter in their new house. They hold a yard sale and end up bumping into a woman they both went to high school with. After promising to show the woman around the house, however, she disappears. She was seen entering the home with David but no one saw her leave. Later, her bloody clothes are discovered in a trunk left out for the trash. Of course the police suspect the Roses had something to do with it and an eight month pregnant Ivy is determined to uncover the truth.

The book is the definition of a page turner! Ephron's debut is already earning well deserved buzz from her fellow authors. I can tell you that it's definitely going on my best of 2009 list! Get out those gift cards and look for Never Tell a Lie, on shelves Jan 6!

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Happy New Year!

The first day of a new year. Agh! Where in the world does the time go. I feel like I am stuck in an endless circle of mostly wasted time. True. I waste a lot of time. As the year passes, I think back on all of the things that I should have done and the things that I wanted to do but never got around to doing. 

I'm not big on new year's resolutions. I tend to break them just a few hours in : ) This year, though, I feel I need to at least try to make better use of my time, in hopes that it will help me to feel like I am actually becoming somewhat productive. I've also got to resolve to eat better. I'm not very nice to myself in that regard. Hopefully all of the great cookbooks I brought home from Christmas will come in handy in this regard. 

I'm a rampant cookbook collector. I know I always talk about fiction here, with the exception of my post about the Top Chef cookbook (can't wait until the show returns now that the holidays are over) and my massive John Folse book, but I actually have a ton more, in addition to subscriptions to Saveur, Bon Apetit, and Gourmet. What can I say, I like food and I like to cook food. 

My latest food love (see we're getting to a real post here) is Sam Zien, aka Sam the Cooking Guy. I found his show one afternoon when I was lunching earlier than normal. He's on Discovery Health and the Fit channel (Just Cook This!), not networks I normally watch, and he was fantastic. He's kind of goofy and reminds me a bit of Alton Brown. The episode I saw had him visiting the local produce section of his market, trying new ingredients. When he went home he made this fabulous (yep, I made it two days later) Warm Cabbage Salad (it will be part of my pork, cabbage, and black-eyed-pea New Year's dinner today). 

Excited that I had found a new food guru, I looked him up online and found out that he has a cookbook, new out this year. I added it to the Christmas list and scrolled through his massive online collection of available recipes. Check him out

Truth be told, you have to watch him or get his book to get the full effect of this guy. He's funny. Really funny. Instructions include sarcastic and silly anecdotes about where some of the more colorful recipe titles come from, advice on kitchen necessities, and time saving tips that everyone can always use. 

After buying the book for me, my mom took one look at it and commented that she needed a copy for herself. The recipes are super easy and feature "normal" ingredients, things you can readily find back home where the grocery selections are severely lacking. So, I bought her a copy for her upcoming b-day! Yep, I like this guy that much! I also made his Motor-Home Meatballs and Sausage Rolls last night as part of my New Year's Eve munching selection. 

Sam's book is packed with tasty simple recipes for the home cook, not the home chef. It's not rocket science to replicate Sam's dishes and you won't spend hours agonizing over whether you're doing it right. Trust me, this is exactly what my mom looks for in a cookbook and she was impressed with the guy. On her list to try is the Banana Bread French Toast (we're big on banana bread in our house!).  

One suggestion if you make the Sausage Rolls and live in an area where you can get international products, pick up a bottle of HP Sauce (UK's the brown sauce) for the steak sauce part of the dip. It's perfect! Also, same recipe, since strangely enough, puff pastry seems to be a no-no where I live (what's up with that, there are puff pastry cups and phyllo dough but no puff pastry sheets), I plan on using plain old crescent roll dough for this recipe next time I make it.

Happy eating!