Tuesday, January 31, 2012

The Woman in Black by Susan Hill

I don't recall exactly when it was that I first heard about the movie adaptation of Susan Hill's The Woman In Black, but I know I've been dying to see it since that day. I bought the book, I've watched each new trailer with great anticipation, and I've literally bounced in my seat upon seeing it in the theaters. And this Friday, the wait will finally be over. All I can say is that I sincerely hope it lives up to expectations (and based on what I've read so far, I expect it to).

I love a great ghost story. Love them! They're my favorite particular flavor of horror. When done well, an author can build the ultimate in suspense and atmosphere while revealing little to nothing at all.

This is the case with The Woman in Black, a brief looking novel that's deceptively heavy. It's my first by Hill, but certainly not my last. I've had my eye on her Simon Serrailler series for a while and she's got a few more ghost stories in her backlist as well.

It's Christmas and Arthur Kipps's family is sitting around the fire telling ghost stories. What they don't know is that Arthur himself has been sitting on a tale of his own, one that is too tragic to recall. It's been years since he was sent out to Eel Marsh House to close out the house of the then recently deceased Alice Drablow. What Kipps experienced in that lonely and dank house has stayed with him all these years and has never been revealed to those around him. If Kipps has his way, it never will be, but the tale demands telling and so he has decided to write it out, if only for himself.

I'd expected the book to be a one sitting read -- at just 135 pages, who could blame me? Hill's writing begs to be read at its own pace, though. While it can certainly make for a perfect companion on a dreary afternoon, it took me about three sittings when all was said and done. I can say that I was sad to turn the final page and leave behind the gothic atmosphere built by Hill's words.

It's creepy and dark and I can't wait to see what the big screen has in store! I expect it will be slightly different, based on the description, that's to be expected, but if they can pull off the essence of the story... that will be the true test.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

New releases 1/31/12

Some of the new titles hitting shelves this week are:

The Dark Rose by Erin Kelly

The Poison Tree by Erin Kelly (pb)

Dread by Gail Z. Martin (Fallen Kings Cycle #2)

The Lost Goddess by Tom Knox

Before She Dies by Mary Burton

Third Grave Dead Ahead by Darynda Jones

Sadie Walker is Stranded by Madeleine Roux

Helpless by Daniel Palmer

Bloodline by Alan Glynn

Home Front by Kristin Hannah

Austentatious by Alyssa Goodnight

Heir of Novron by Michael J. Sullivan

The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey

The Fear Index by Robert Harris

Midnight in Austenland by Shannon Hale

Obedience by Jacqueline Yallop

A Little Night Magic by Lucy March

Three Weeks in December by Audrey Schulman

Sister Queens: The Noble, Tragic Lives of Katherine of Aragon and Juana, Queen of Castile by Julia Fox

A Wrinkle in Time 50th Anniversary Edition by Madeleine L'Engle

Incarnate by Jodi Meadows

Destiny and Deception by Shannon Delany (13 to Life #4)

The Dead of Winter by Chris Priestly

Article 5 by Kristen Simmons

Lenobia's Vow by PC Cast & Kristin Cast (House of Night Novella)

New on DVD:
Texas Killing Fields
Dream House
In Time
The Double
The Big Year
The Thing

New reviews at Bookbitch.com:
A Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin
The Starlite Drive-In by Marjorie Reynolds

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Pre-Pub Book Buzz: The Dark Rose by Erin Kelly

Like any other reader out there, I love it when an author wows me so much that I just have to have more. Erin Kelly's fabulous and dark debut, The Poison Tree, was one of those books. In fact, in finding the original post to link up here, I realized I even called it a WOW read. Haha. Didn't remember that.

Anywho, when I saw that Kelly's second book was releasing soon, I immediately put it on the wishlist/must buy list. I was lucky enough to get a copy for review and am taking a brief break from it to put up a pre-pub post. The Dark Rose is due out on Thursday, Feb 2, so if you like deliciously dark psychological thrillers/mysteries, mark your calendar! (And The Poison Tree is due out in paperback Tuesday, Jan 31.)

Here's the description from Kelly's website (note the UK title is The Sick Rose):

Paul has been led into a life of crime by his schoolyard protector, Daniel – but one night, what started as petty theft escalates fatally. Now, at nineteen, Paul must bear witness against his friend to avoid prison.

Louisa has her own dark secrets. Having fled from them many years ago, she now spends her days steeped in history, renovating the grounds of a crumbling Elizabethan garden. Her fragile peace is shattered when she meets Paul; he's the spitting image of the one person she never thought she'd see again.

A relationship develops between these two scarred people, and Louisa starts to believe she can again find the happiness she had given up on... but neither of them can outrun their violent pasts.

A story of secrets and guilt, The Sick Rose explores the extremes of obsessive love and loyalty, devotion and desperation.

And here's an interesting piece wherein Kelly talks about the upcoming book and some of her inspiration:

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

The Starlite Drive-In by Marjorie Reynolds

A bit of a change in reading pace, moving from high and epic fantasy to Marjorie Reynolds reissued Starlite Drive-In. It was such an easy and enjoyable read, though, that slipping out of the fantasy mindset and into Reynolds's own created world was no problem at all.

In the summer of 1956, a drifter arrived at the Starlite Drive-In. Callie Anne Benton's father manages and runs the theater, taking care of the day-to-day maintenance and obligations. But a recent injury has left him bitter and crippled. Nothing much changes in Callie Anne's daily routine. Not until Charlie Memphis arrives. The owner of the drive-in brings him in to help out, a general handyman if you will. Young Callie Anne is smitten by the stranger. And for Callie Anne's mother, who hasn't left their house for years, Charlie Memphis offers something new as well. Years later, bones are found on the grounds of the old drive-in and Callie Anne is forced to face that summer once again.

Within just a few pages, Reynolds sends readers on a trip back in time to a summer seen through the eyes of a pre-teen on the cusp of great change. It's easy to fall in love with Callie Anne. Her observations will strike a chord with readers of all ages.

I also enjoyed that fact that many of the other characters evoke mixed emotions. No one is a static, one-sided caricature of the standard good guy or bad guy. Each character has different sides to them and Reynolds does a good job of showing those through her writing.

Starlite was originally publishing in 1997 and has been recently rereleased by Harper.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Winter is here so read A Game of Thrones!

My reading ebbs and flows throughout the year. I've yet to find a real pattern to it, which makes it all that much more frustrating. Sometimes I can read an average book in a day. Other times, that same book will take me all week.

Historically, I've had pretty bad luck with vacation reads. At some point, I completely lost my ability to tune out what's going on around me, which means that I now get highly distracted on planes, in airports, anywhere in general. Which also means that my bag full of books usually goes untouched in spite of my best efforts.

I happen to be in a slow reading period at the moment and that coupled with the fear that I wouldn't actually read anything on my trip led me to finally, finally begin reading A Game of Thrones. Again.

It was much easier this second time around. I'd abandoned it early on back in 2005. If you've seen the show (and I highly recommend that you see it or read the book), it does follow the book very closely. The differences between the two were so minor, it's one case where you definitely get a very good representation of the entire story through the adaptation. And the casting! The casting is spot on. Maybe if I'd read the book before seeing the show, my thoughts might be different, but Sean Bean and Peter Dinklage were especially fantastic as Ned Stark and Tyrion Lannister.

It's a whopper of a read at 835 pages (with the appendices) and it took me all of a week in my current reading slump. Course I was poolside and the warm weather was so nice for afternoon napping...

For a synopsis of the show and book, hit the link above (see it) to read my show post. I can't wait for a chance to dive into book number two. No way am I waiting until the second season starts to find out what comes next!

Monday, January 23, 2012

Where's My Bookmark: Fires of Eden by Dan Simmons

I put off the vacation book hunt until the last minute, so Friday before last found me swapping out possible selections literally until our shuttle arrived. One thing was for sure, I would be taking along George R. R. Martin's A Game of Thrones, but I envisioned a week of beachside reading and even that 800 page tome couldn't possibly fill it all (plus airport delays and plane reading...).

I did limit myself to mass markets, so that made it a bit easier. And for the sake of variety, I tried to cover all of the major subgenres. I had horror down to Peter Straub or Dan Simmons when I realized that the obvious choice was staring me in the face! In 1994, Dan Simmons released a book called Fires of Eden, in which a series of missing persons occurs at a new Hawaiian luxury resort. Perfect!

Well, Game of Thrones lasted me through the majority of the trip and I finally cracked open Eden the day before we were set to leave. I have to say, it's a fun vacation/plane/beach/anytime read.

Hawaii is in the midst of a historic volcanic eruption. The new Mauna Pele luxury resort should be packed full of tourists, but a series of murders and disappearances plagues the location. Byron Trumbo would like to unload the money pit as soon as possible, but bad publicity and a growing number of bodies may hamper his efforts. Things only get worse as he tries desperately to cover up the events. Meanwhile, Eleanor Perry has just arrived, set on following the path laid out in her great aunt's journal. Aunt Kidder visited the same spot back in 1866 and experienced something similar to the events of today. Along with Cordie Stumpf (nee Cooke -- of Summer of Night) and a local with more than a passing knowledge of Hawaiian folklore, Eleanor will do everything in her power to stop the inevitable disaster at Mauna Pele.

Amongst the ever growing list of Simmons's accomplished novels, Eden no doubt earns its fair share of criticism. It's a fun story, though, packed with Hawaiian lore that many are probably not familiar with. Simmons also ties in Samuel Clemens' (Mark Twain) writings on the area, making him a main character in the 1866 flashbacks of Kidder's journal.

One review referred to the book as a sort of environmental horror story, which is kind of appropriate. Hawaiian gods and goddesses wreaking havoc on a greedy developer's golf resort sure makes for great entertainment and a really quick read.

Fires of Eden is unfortunately out of print at the moment.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

New Releases 01/24/12

Some of the new titles hitting shelves this week are:

The Legacy of Eden by Nelle Davy

Taken by Robert Crais

Bond Girl by Erin Duffy

Horizon by Sophie Littlefield (Aftertime #3)

The Flight of Gemma Hardy by Margot Livesey

A Grown-Up Kind of Pretty by Joshilyn Jackson

Shatter by Michael Robotham (reissue)

Pineapple Grenade by Tim Dorsey

Angel Fire by L.A. Weatherly

Fallen in Love by Lauren Kate

Everneath by Brodi Ashton

There Is No Dog by Meg Rosoff

New on DVD:
Real Steel
The Whistleblower

New reviews at Bookbitch.com:
Everneath by Brodi Ashton

Saturday, January 21, 2012

I'm back!

Goodness, I go away for a week and there's so much to catch up on!

We made it home from The Bahamas. I was sad to say goodbye to that lovely place, even sadder when we arrived home to 30 degree weather :(

It was gorgeous there! Back to real life now, I guess.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

New Releases 01/17/12

Some of the new titles hitting shelves this week are:

First You Try Everything by Jane McCafferty

The Face Thief by Eli Gottlieb

The Rope by Nevada Barr (Anna Pigeon #17)

Shadows in Flight by Orson Scott Card (Ender's Shadow #6)

Raylan by Elmore Leonard

The Look of Love by Mary Jane Clark

The Chalk Girl by Carol O'Connell

The Silent Oligarch by Chris Morgan Jones

The Odds by Stewart O'Nan

Blotto, Twinks and the Dead Dowager Duchess by Simon Brett

Death of Kings by Bernard Cornwell

Another Woman by Penny Vincenzi

Gone West by Carola Dunn (Daisy Dalrymple #20)

One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest: 50th Anniversary Edition by Ken Kesey

Tempest by Julie Cross

Fracture by Megan Miranda

Hallowed by Cynthia Hand

Stolen Away by Alyxandra Harvey

New on DVD:
The Ides of March

New reviews at Bookbitch.com:
The Rook by Daniel O'Malley

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Pre-Pub Book Buzz: The Flight of Gemma Hardy by Margot Livesey

Oh, I love Jane Eyre. I really, really love it. As soon as I saw that Margot Livesey's The Flight of Gemma Hardy was an homage to Bronte's classic, I did a happy dance. It's a fine line, don't get me wrong. Gemma Hardy could be a wonderful read reminiscent of that tasty gothic tale, or it could be a let down because the expectations are so high. Either way, I'm excited to find out!

Here's some info from the publisher:

Fate has not been kind to Gemma Hardy. Orphaned by the age of ten, neglected by a bitter and cruel aunt, sent to a boarding school where she is both servant and student, young Gemma seems destined for a life of hardship and loneliness. Yet her bright spirit burns strong. Fiercely intelligent, singularly determined, Gemma overcomes each challenge and setback, growing stronger and more certain of her path. Now an independent young woman with dreams of the future, she accepts a position as an au pair on the remote and beautiful Orkney Islands. But Gemma’s biggest trial is about to begin . . . a journey of passion and betrayal, secrets and lies, redemption and discovery that will lead her to a life she’s never dreamed. The Flight of Gemma Hardy is a captivating tale that is both an homage and a modern variation on the enduring classic, Jane Eyre.

The Flight of Gemma Hardy hits shelves on January 24. Check out Goodreads for some early reviews.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Where's My Bookmark: The Rook by Daniel O'Malley

"Dear You, The body you are wearing used to be mine."

In the list of intriguing first lines, Daniel O'Malley's opening line from The Rook is definitely tops. And from there forward, the tale gets profoundly more intriguing and amusing.

Myfanwy Thomas opens her eyes to see a ring of bodies surrounding her and finds a letter in her pocket explaining what must be done next. She has no memory of who she is, what she does, or how she ended up in this place. The letter leads her to a safe place where she is given a choice, adopt the life she seems to have taken over, or run. Though her choice might be clear, extenuating circumstances force her to become Rook Thomas. As she reads the old Thomas's notes, explaining the organization she works for (The Checquy), what a Rook does, and all manner of strange things, the new Myfanwy takes to her life and position in a way that the old Thomas never seemed comfortable with.

This is another one of those amazingly fun books that's hard to pin down but is an absolute must read. The narrative is funny, at times laugh out loud so, the story is quirky, and I imagine the mind behind it (O'Malley) is brilliant.

The structure is interesting as well. The character has no knowledge of these things, and so the story unfolds as two tales, that of the new Myfanwy and that of the old. The new Myfanwy is our narrator and the old tells her tale through letters and notes written for her "replacement."

I have to say, as my first official 2012 read (started and finished in the new year) The Rook will go down as my first favorite of the new year as well!

The Rook officially hits shelves on Jan 11. For more on O'Malley and The Rook, visit: http://www.rookfiles.com/

Sunday, January 8, 2012

New Releases 01/09/12

Some of the new titles hitting shelves this week are:

The Rook by Daniel O'Malley

Gideon's Corpse by Douglas Preston & Lincoln Child

The Winter Palace by Eva Stachniak

Believing the Lie by Elizabeth George (Lynley #16)

The Underside of Joy by Sere Prince Halverson

American Dervish by Ayad Akhtar

The Quality of Mercy by Barry Unsworth

The Orphan Master's Son by Adam Johnson

Vulture Peak by John Burdett

The Jaguar by T. Jefferson Parker (Charlie Hood #5)

The Spy Who Jumped Off the Screen by Thomas Caplan

The Fault In Our Stars by John Green

A Million Suns by Beth Revis

Jessica Rules the Dark Side by Beth Fantaskey

New on DVD:
Killer Elite
What's Your Number?

New reviews at Bookbitch.com:
Kill Switch by Neal Baer and Jonathan Green

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Pre-Pub Book Buzz: Partials by Dan Wells

Another adult author is jumping into the teen pool and I can't wait! Dan Wells' (author of I Am Not a Serial Killer, Mr. Monster, and I Don't Want to Kill You) new teen dystopian tale officially hits shelves on February 28. I so excited! Here's the description from Amazon:

The human race is all but extinct after a war with Partials—engineered organic beings identical to humans—has decimated the population. Reduced to only tens of thousands by RM, a weaponized virus to which only a fraction of humanity is immune, the survivors in North America have huddled together on Long Island while the Partials have mysteriously retreated. The threat of the Partials is still imminent, but, worse, no baby has been born immune to RM in more than a decade. Our time is running out.

Kira, a sixteen-year-old medic-in-training, is on the front lines of this battle, seeing RM ravage the community while mandatory pregnancy laws have pushed what's left of humanity to the brink of civil war, and she's not content to stand by and watch. But as she makes a desperate decision to save the last of her race, she will find that the survival of humans and Partials alike rests in her attempts to uncover the connections between them—connections that humanity has forgotten, or perhaps never even knew were there.

Dan Wells, acclaimed author of I Am Not a Serial Killer, takes readers on a pulsepounding journey into a world where the very concept of what it means to be human is in question—one where our humanity is both our greatest liability and our only hope for survival.

And if that's not enough to pique your interest, here's the brand new and very super cool book trailer:

I've said before that I am loving the dystopian trend - loving it! It's not going anywhere anytime soon!

And I also have to add that Wells' brother, Robison Wells, made his teen debut with his own teen dystopian thriller, Variant, last October.

As I mentioned, Partials isn't due out until Feb 28, but Variant IS out now, as are Wells' adult titles.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Wednesday already!

I might have mentioned a few days ago that we finally sat down and watched ALL of Game of Thrones. I may also have mentioned that I've become a bit obsessed. It's true. I'm in fantasy mode! But I've got review books stacked sky high for the next couple of weeks. Amazingly, there are some fantasy books there. Here's the first one I've dived into to satisfy the Game craving:

Theft of Swords by Michael J. Sullivan is the first in a trilogy. Wait, that's not entirely true. Michael J. Sullivan initially self-publishing his Riyria Revelations as six individual installments. The books have since been picked up by the wonderful folks over at Orbit and combined into three volumes. So, this first volume actually includes the first two of Sullivan's stories -- The Crown Conspiracy and Avempartha.

In Theft, we are introduced to Royce and Hadrian, a pair of talented thieves who call themselves Riyria. Tales of their exploits have spread across the realm and now they've been hired to break into the palace grounds to steal a sword. The job looks to be on the up and up, but the two soon find themselves the prime suspects in the King's murder.

Crown Conspiracy, the first half of Theft of Swords, serves as a setup for the rest of the book. Introducing the characters, the setting, the legends (which are pretty cool). It also makes the three volume approach really appealing since you get to move right on with the story immediately. Volume two, Rise of Empire, is out now (I've not gotten to it just yet), and volume three, Heir of Novron, is due out at the end of the month.

Orbit also recently released John R. Fultz's Seven Princes, currently warming my nightstand, and I'm doing the antsy pantsy dance in anticipation of Gail Z. Martin's Dread due out in February. I love, love, loved book one in her Fallen Kings Cycle and desperately need to read the Chronicles of the Necromancer books as well. And then there are those three honking George R. R. Martin books waiting in the wings! And in April, season 2 comes back.

Doing some genre bouncing this week as well with my bookmark currently resting in Neal Baer and Jonathan Greene's Kill Switch. So many books!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Holiday reading

Morning, folks! Believe it or not, I squandered my week off by not reading at all! Or at least not to the level I'd expected to. Putting a house in order is exhausting. No one room is finished at this point and it ate into my reading big time.

I think I literally read three and a half books and that was it. The first was a Christmas themed book. I usually avoid them (reading them anytime other than Christmas feels wrong, but there's never a guarantee I'll get to it in the right season). For Flavia de Luce, though, I decided to make an exception.

Then I read ahead a bit with Brodi Ashton's Everneath, which you may recall from this pre-pub post a while back. I have to say that I really enjoyed Everneath. It's an interesting twist on mythology. That one's due out officially on Jan 24.

My other read was Lynn Weingarten's The Secret Sisterhood of Heartbreakers, a cute teen read with magic and heartache. Literally! It's the story of a girl who gets dumped on her first day of sophomore year. Her heart is so broken that she attracts the attention of three heartbreakers who promise that they can heal her. The twist is that in order to heal her own heart, she must break the heart of another.

It was a fun read. Very light and breezy. One that was great for such a tumultuous time (and by that I just mean the uncomfortable post move time when you can't find anything and just want to tear your hear out for all the boxes around).

But now it's time to get back on track for 2012. I was just shy of my 2011 goal at 145 books read out of 150. I'm going to aim for 150 again this year and see what happens. And the TBR grew with the wishlist gifts I received, so it's definitely time to get cracking!

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Happy New Year! New releases 1/3/12

Whew, where did the time go? It's already time to get used to writing '12 on everything :)

Some of the new titles hitting shelves this week are:

Agent 6 by Tom Rob Smith

The World We Found by Thrity Umrigar

A Quiet Vendetta by RJ Ellory

Seven Princes by John R. Fultz

The Whisperer by Donato Carrisi

Blind Sight by Terri Persons (reissue)

Dust of the Damned by Peter Brandvold

Gun Games by Faye Kellerman (Decker/Lazarus #20)

The Bride Wore Black Leather by Simon R. Green (Nightside)

The Confession by Charles Todd (Inspector Ian Rutledge)

Scarecrow Returns by Matthew Reilly

Sins of the Demon by Diana Rowland

Wild Wild Death by Casey Daniels (Pepper Martin #8)

The Retribution by Val McDermid

Cell 8 by Roslund & Hellstrom

The Darkening Field by William Ryan

Need You Now by James Grippando

Breakdown by Sara Paretsky (VI Warshawski)

The Hunter by John Lescroart

The Broken Land by Kathleen O'Neal Gear and W. Michael Gear

Love in a Nutshell by Janet Evanovich and Dorien Kelly

Cinder by Marissa Meyer

Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi

The Alchemy of Forever by Avery Williams

Bloodrose by Andrea Cremer (Nightshade book 3)

Switched by Amanda Hocking (Trylle #1)

Dreaming Awake by Gwen Hayes

The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E. Smith

New on DVD:
Don't Be Afraid of the Dark
Justified Season 2
I Don't Know How She Does It

New reviews at Bookbitch.com:
The Secret Sisterhood of Heartbreakers by Lynne Weingarten