Thursday, May 31, 2012

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

You guys, Ready Player One is out in paperback this week!

An updated video game quest in the spirit of all past video game quests! Wade is just one of many trying to find the Easter egg left inside the world's largest online world after it's creator dies. The winner will not only receive all of the monetary wealth left behind upon his death, but control over OASIS as well. Five years have passed since the contest began and Wade will be the first to beat the first level.

Ernest Cline's debut is a super cool read! It's a futuristic, sci-fi-ish, action adventure story set in a video game world and full of fun 80s references (and still fun even if you didn't grow up in the 80s and aren't a gamer). I had a chance to read this one last year when it was released in hardcover and I walked away wishing I could have more! I even mentioned I wanted a soundtrack to listen to while reading. Luckily, the publisher came across my post and sent me Cline's playlist!

Oingo Boingo—Dead Man’s Party
Plimsouls—A Million Miles Away
Greg Kihn—The Breakup Song
Duran Duran—Wild Boys
AC/DC—Who Made Who
Joe Esposito—You’re the Best
Kenny Loggins—Danger Zone
Billy Idol—Rebel Yell
Twisted Sister—We’re Not Gonna Take It
Styx—Mr. Roboto
Devo—Girl U Want
Pat Benetar—Invincible
Red Ryder—Lunatic Fringe
Rush—The Temples of Syrinx
Tommy Tutone—867-5309 (Jenny)
Trans-X—Living on Video
Cyndi Lauper—Time After Time
LA Style—James Brown is Dead
Bryan Adams—Kids Wanna Rock
Buckman & Garcia—Pacman Fever

And Cline's touring for the paperback release. Check here to see if he'll be in your area (he's coming Denver way in just a couple weeks!)

For more on Ernie, be sure to check out his website (linked above) and the official Ready Player One website as well. Also, here's a fun Q&A with Cline as well.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Into the Darkest Corner by Elizabeth Haynes

Catherine Bailey still hasn't met Mr. Right, but she believed her luck might finally have turned when she met Lee Brightman. Four years later, she still hasn't recovered from the horrors she experienced at Lee's hands. Lee is serving a three year sentence after leaving her for dead and Catherine, now Cathy, is trying to make progress with each new day. Even days, odd days, cloudy days, each requires something different. Some days she can barely leave her apartment. Others, she's ok as long as she checks the doors and windows. Cathy needs to feel safe. But when Lee is released, Cathy knows that she may never feel safe again.

Whoa! Can I say it again? Whoa! Into the Darkest Corner is intense! I'll warn you up front, it's dark and it's twisted, but once you start, you're not going to want to put this one down.

Elizabeth Haynes's debut thriller is definitely a bit like Sleeping With the Enemy with a little twist. Cathy suffers from serious OCD and PTSD as a result of Lee's violence. Haynes alternates between Catherine at the beginning of - and through - her relationship with Lee and the three years later Cathy, making clear just how much she's changed. The girl who was once a partier with a horde of close friends becomes a loner who cringes at close contact. And as her situation worsens with Lee, it also becomes clear how much strength it's taken for her to survive the whole thing, pointing to an inevitable climactic ending that Haynes delivers 100%.

Into the Darkest Corner is undoubtedly one of the most exciting debuts I've read so far this year and Haynes is an author I'll be looking forward to seeing much more of in the future. The book officially hits shelves in the US on June 5

Thanks to TLC Book Tours for letting me participate in the tour. For other stops, visit the site tour page here. For more on Elizabeth, you can visit her website here. You can also friend her on Facebook and follow her on Twitter.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Strangeness and Charm by Mike Shevdon

The latest Mike Shevdon book hits shelves today and you must go out and procure a copy! I mean it. Now! And if you haven't read the first two books in the series, then you probably don't want to read any further here today. 

This third in the Courts of the Feyre series finds Niall Petersen picking up the pieces after the events of The Road to Bedlam. Thanks to him, a whole slew of half feys are on the loose and many of them have little to no control over their powers. What's more, their imprisonment has left them with some serious issues. In an attempt to maintain their agreement with the human world, Niall will have to round up the rogue feys and bring them back to the Courts. But not all of them are ready or willing to go along with Niall or the Courts wishes.

There are many things that make this series a true standout. Shevdon's worldbuilding is the key, though. I strongly believe that as much as I love Niall and Blackbird and as fabulous as the plot twists are, that neither element would completely work without the world Shevdon has put together for his series.

Worldbuilding! Oh, my! You see this word pop up a lot in my reviews because it's an element that I find very important in a lot of the genres I read. The creation of a world that is believable enough to immerse yourself in the story is key in paranormals, urban fantasies, fantasy, sci-fi. Anything that's set in a world different from ours.

Shevdon is a master at this. His Courts of the Feyre series is set in the UK but he twists the existing framework of the real world adding in Fey elements. One of my favorite things is his manipulation of actual history. Ben Aaronovitch also does this very well (in the UK setting also) as does Christopher Farnsworth (to an extent -- he also brings in elements from other fiction).

I also love the incorporation of superstitions, symbolism, and ceremonies. I honestly don't know what comes first, if the story is inspired by these random tidbits of strange history or if Shevdon has a cache of these stocked away for use in the books. Maybe a little of both. Either way, it works. Here's to Shevdon for another fabulous installment and I can't wait til next year for book four!

Sunday, May 27, 2012

New Releases 5/29/12

Some of the new titles hitting shelves this week are:

The Yard by Alex Grecian

The Watchers by Jon Steele

Playing Dead by Julia Heaberlin

Istanbul Passage by Joseph Kanon

Blue-Blooded Vamp by Jay Wells

Blackout by Mira Grant

Strangeness and Charm by Mike Shevdon

Wife 22 by Melanie Gideon

So Far Away by Meg Mitchell Moore

The Book of Summers by Emylia Hall

Thriller 3: Love is Murder ed by Sandra Brown

A Blood Seduction by Pamela Palmer

Rescue Me by Rachel Gibson

Dark Frost by Jennifer Estep

Changeling by Philippa Gregory

No Safety in Numbers by Dayna Lorentz

New on DVD:
Man on a Ledge
We Need to Talk About Kevin

New reviews at Bookbitch.com:
The Road to Bedlam by Mike Shevdon
Never Knowing by Chevy Stevens
The Unseen by Katherine Webb

Friday, May 25, 2012

More Like Her by Liza Palmer

It's Friday and it's a holiday weekend and that means lots of downtime for reading in my house! Always a welcome thing in my opinion. 

I've not settled on my weekend pile to tackle as of yet. I'm not even sure what I'm in the mood for, but I think it'll be a combination of things. It's times like this that the surprising reads are the best -- the genre crossover reads that I enjoy so much or the books with twisty unpredictable plots. Good stuff!

Liza Palmer's More Like Her was one of those reads. A completely unexpected turned on its head chick-litty read that reaches into a really dark place. 

How much do you really know about those around you? What secrets lie behind their public facades? This is essentially the story in More Like Her.

Frannie believes Emma Dunham, the new head of Markham, has it all together. Great job, great looks, great relationship... everything Frannie wishes she had in her own life. But when Emma's husband murders her at a school function, Frannie and her friends are faced not only with the truth about Emma's life, but the aftermath of surviving such a terrible tragedy.

Liza Palmer maintains a delicate balance between the horrors of spousal abuse and Frannie's self discovery. Entertaining and enjoyable seem inappropriate given the subplot of the story, but Palmer does a good job creating both a story that draws the reader in and a heroine that is ultimately relatable.

This was my first read by Palmer but I'll definitely be seeking out more of her work in the future. Another author to add to my To Read list for sure!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

The Unseen by Katherine Webb

Cat Morley has known suffering. A maid in service, she has fought for women's rights as a suffragette, eventually serving time for her crimes. Now recovering from a terrible illness and finally freed, she has been hired on at the vicarage in Cold Ash Holt. Albert Canning, the man of the house and the village vicar, has a peculiar interest and is dead set on discovering elementals. His wife, Hester, does her best to support her husband but finds that her marriage is lacking. When Albert believes he's finally seen the spirits he seeks, he sends word to a theosopher in the area. Robin Durrant not only believes Albert, but is determined to bring proof of these fairies to the outside world, at any cost. Soon, the Canning home is in turmoil and Cat is in trouble once again.

One hundred years later, Leah Hickson receives a call from her ex. He's been working with the War Graves Commission in Belgium. A recently uncovered body bears evidence that may be enough to recover an identity. That's where Leah comes in. Two letters from the early twentieth century written by a Hester Canning from Cold Ash Holt are enough of a starting point for Leah, but will she be able to discover the identity of the unnamed soldier? And what crime does Hester refer to in one of her letters? 

Webb divides her story into two parts, alternating chapters between the events of 1911 and Leah's investigation in 2011. Leah is a fabulous character -- someone fascinated by the past and in a position to be able to research and discover hidden history. The mystery at Cold Ash Holt itself is intriguing and Leah's efforts to unravel them are great momentum for the story. 

The 1911 portion of the tale is equally absorbing. Cat is feisty and holds onto a lot of anger thanks to the unfairness of class rules. This time was tumultuous indeed and Hester plays an almost perfect opposite to Cat, determined to do her part by being a loving and supportive wife. While their overall ideas of how things should be done clash, they do have more sympathy for one another than they're ready to show. 

This is my first read by Katherine Webb, but definitely not my last. The Unseen is new out as of last week. Webb has an upcoming release due out in the UK in July and one previous release, The Legacy, available in the States now. 

Thanks to TLC for letting me participate in the tour. For the full tour schedule check here

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Never Knowing by Chevy Stevens

It's no secret that Sara Gallagher is adopted. She's always been curious about where she comes from, but in planning her upcoming wedding the question has been weighing on her. What if there's some sort of medical concern that could affect her or her children? Wouldn't it be better to know? A bit of searching reveals the identity of Sara's birth mother but her response to Sara's attempted contact is upsetting to say the least. What's more, Sara is sure that the woman has lied to her about her father. She decides to go one step further and hires a PI to find out more. What's discovered is more shocking than she ever expected: Sara is the daughter of the notorious Campsite Killer. Her birth mother was the one and only survivor. Somehow, the press gets wind of the story and soon a man identifying himself as her father begins to contact Sara, catapulting her and her family into turmoil and almost certain danger. 

Chevy Stevens literally burst onto the thriller scene with her intense debut, Still Missing. Never Knowing is no less intense or shocking than its predecessor. Stevens again delves into the psychological aspects of the affects of crime on her lead character. This time around, rather than being a victim, Sara must question everything she knows and finds herself examining every aspect of her own life and behavior in search of connections or similarities that might be ascribed to her terrible origins.

Each chapter begins as a session with Sara's therapist. Sara narrates the events as if she is recalling them to a second party, which makes for an interesting framework to the story. 

Never Knowing is a quick read that I was tempted to finish all in one go -- and nearly did. The pacing begs for it! 

Both Never Knowing and Still Missing are out now in paperback. If you're a fan of dark thrillers, I highly recommend checking them out. 

Monday, May 21, 2012

Glimmer by Phoebe Kitanidis

This is a catch up post from a few weeks ago (I have a few that I've not posted here as of yet that will be sprouting up in the coming weeks). 

You've probably noticed that I'm reading more and more YA these days and increasingly confessing my adoration for all of the unique things that are popping up at that reading level. Phoebe Kitanidis's Glimmer is just one great example of the fabulous teen books moving through my TBR of late. 

Marshall King and Elyse Alton are in trouble, but they have no idea what kind. From the moment they wake up together, they have no idea who they are. They don't know how they ended up where they are, and when a man comes crashing in talking about wards, all they know is that they have to escape. According to the woman who is supposed to be Elyse's mother, she's having a "moment." Whatever that means, Elyse knows that she and Marshall have to figure out what's going on if they have any hope of surviving Summer Falls.

I had no idea what to expect from this book when I started. The story unravels only as Elyse and Marshall uncover it. In fact, in early chapters, these characters are simply "Her" and "Him" alternating as narrators of the story. 

Overall an exciting and interesting premise that Kitanidis pulls off successfully and one that presents an interesting conundrum to reviewers: how do you tell people about a book like this without revealing too much? Agh! Fans of mysteries with paranormal twists will love this one. It was cool and fun and another one I'm anxious for my sisters to read now as well. 

Sunday, May 20, 2012

New Releases 5/22/12

Some of the new titles hitting shelves this week are:

Dark Magic by James Swain

The Unseen by Katherine Webb

The King's Blood by Daniel Abraham

Abdication by Juliet Nicolson

Blackout by Mira Grant

Blue Blooded Vamp by Jaye Wells

Shadow Bound by Rachel Vincent

Secondworld by Jeremy Robinson

2312 by Kim Stanley Robinson

Nightshifted by Cassie Alexander

A Dark Anatomy by Robin Blake

The Kissing List by Stephanie Reents

Macbeth by David Hewson & A.J. Hartley

Strindberg's Star by Jan Wallentin

Alpha by Greg Rucka

Never Knowing by Chevy Stevens (pb)

Long Gone by Alafair Burke (pb)

Rock Star in Seat 3A by Jill Kargman

Canada by Richard Ford

Beautiful Sacrifice by Elizabeth Lowell

Taken by Storm by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

Fated by Alyson Noel

Of Poseidon by Anna Banks

Dark Kiss by Michelle Rowen

The Girl With the Clockwork Collar by Kady Cross

New on DVD:
The Woman in Black
This Means War
Red Tails

New reviews at Bookbitch.com:
The Kingdom by Amanda Stevens
An Uncommon Education by Elizabeth Percer
Cloudland by Joseph Olshan

Friday, May 18, 2012

State of Wonder by Ann Patchett

For years Vogel Pharmaceuticals has been funding a project in the Amazon. Led by the famous Dr. Annick Swenson, the project is supposed to result in some miracle drug that has been years in the making. At least that's what the company hopes will come of it. But Swenson is extremely secretive to the point of being downright illusive. The only solution is for the company to send an emissary to speak with Swenson in person and report back on her progress. When they receive word that Anders Eckman has died, Vogel becomes desperate. This time, they send Dr. Marina Singh, a former student of Swenson's. What Marina discovers though is nothing short of amazing. 

This is my first time delving into Ann Patchett's work. As a bookseller in the heyday of Bel Canto I'm familiar with Patchett as an author but I'd never given myself the chance to read her work before now. When I started State of Wonder I really wasn't sure what to expect and had a bit of trouble really getting into the story. Once Marina began to develop as a character, I was completely drawn in to the tale. 

As the story progressed, I started to think that State of Wonder was something of a modern (and easier to read in my opinion) take on Heart of Darkness. Other than superficial comparisons that I'll leave to others to draw on their own, I can't attest to the deeper thematic comparisons between the two -- I was never a fan of Conrad's work and read it in an English course focused on colonization in literature rather than Heart as a whole. I also don't want to spoil the book in any way, but Heart of Darkness was definitely on my mind while reading. 

Patchett is a great literary talent and her writing has been praised by readers and fellow writers for years. It was no surprise to me then that State of Wonder was well plotted and expertly written. What I really enjoyed, though, were the setting and the anthropological components of the book. 

The furthest reaches of the Amazon and the extreme discomfort experienced by Marina when she arrives there were so real, I could almost feel the sweat beading up on my own neck as I read. At one point, Swenson describes the very real possibility of snakes in unexpected places and I physically cringed. It was just one of many instances, but the first that comes to mind. I get chills thinking about it. 

Patchett's attention to detail is impecable. I was an anthropology minor in college and loved the courses.  Ethnography, ethnobotany, and medical anthropology were of great interest to me and had I not had my heart set on something else (and had I not been a fairly poor science student), it would have taken little to convince me to continue in that line of study. This element is by no means the most important in the book, but was the reason for my initial interest in the story and I felt Patchett used them well as a bit of a building block for the book as a whole. 

Overall, State of Wonder turned out to be a fascinating and great introduction to Patchett's work one that I would gladly hand sell were I still a bookseller today. 

Visit TLC Book Tours for the rest of the stops on the State of Wonder blog tour and for your viewing pleasure, check out Ann's interview with Stephen Colbert from earlier this year. 

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

An Uncommon Education by Elizabeth Percer

Naomi Feinstein is a precocious child. Gifted with a photographic memory and a natural curiosity, she vows early on that she will attend Wellesley College and become a cardiac surgeon, a goal she sets her heart on after her father suffers a near-fatal heart attack. Naomi is going to save people. But over the course of the years, she must confront the possibility that she may not be able to save those most important to her.

Naomi is greatly affected by those around her. Her father and his hopes and dreams for her, her mother and her frequent bouts of depression, her friends, Teddy and Jun. In fact, each and every person in Naomi's life offers up something that becomes part of her "uncommon education." 

Of course Naomi's particular education is not uncommon at all. We are all shaped by our individual experiences. All of Naomi's experiences become part of her growth, changing her in ways that she could never have expected or predicted when she initially set her sights on Wellesley and a career in cardiac surgery.

I'm not so far removed from college that I can't recall feeling exactly the same as Naomi. Unlike her, I had no ultimate goal upon arriving on campus as a freshman. I find it hard to believe that many of us really do. I changed majors my second semester and never looked back. In the end though, even after coming up with a goal, my plans were changed yet again.

What I think Elizabeth Percer has done here is show the arc of one life. An arc that many of us can sympathize with, having experienced something similar ourselves: friends made and lost through time, family issues, and a deep look at ourselves and what we want out of life.

As a narrator, I found Naomi extremely appealing. She's bright, interesting, and charming. I will admit that I generally prefer more conflict to liven up a coming of age story, but I wouldn't change a thing about An Uncommon Education. Percer's character-driven debut was a wonderful change of pace for my reading week. 

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

The Kingdom by Amanda Stevens

I love a creepy, atmospheric ghost story. Amanda Stevens's The Restorer, the first in her Graveyard Queen series, was a perfect example of a great chiller -- just the right mix of ghosts, mystery, and even romance. Suspenseful and dead on in every aspect. 

It was a while in coming, but books two and three in the series are now on shelves and I treated myself to them both just recently. 

The Kingdom, book two, finds Amelia Gray taking a job in Asher Falls, a creepy little town in South Carolina with a historic graveyard sorely neglected throughout the years. Asher Falls, named for the Asher family, has a strained relationship with their namesake thanks to the current patriarch's deal to sell land to the state back in the 80s. The land was used as a reservoir and anything on site was buried under water. To make amends, the Ashers donated Thorngate, the family cemetery. Amelia is forewarned but her reception in town is chilly beyond even her expectations. When she discovers a hidden grave nearby the cemetery, Amelia begins to dig around in the town's history, upsetting more than a few folks -- both living and dead. 

The Kingdom removes Amelia from Charleston and Devlin altogether. In the wake of events in The Restorer, it might leave some readers a bit miffed not to continue with the story they were expecting. I'd be willing to bet that by the end of The Kingdom, those same readers feel more than satisfied with the course of Amelia's story. 

I have to add that before diving into the final installment, The Prophet, I came across an interview with Stevens that mentioned not only the possibility of a tv series, but that she'd recently signed on for three more Graveyard Queen books. Happy dance!!! It was definitely something of a relief going into The Prophet and knowing that there would be more to come. 

Monday, May 14, 2012

Where's My Bookmark: The Road to Bedlam by Mike Shevdon

Hello, fellow readers! I hope you had a fabulous weekend reading great books. I jumped into Mike Shevdon's The Road to Bedlam in preparation for the release of book three in the Courts of the Feyre series, Strangeness and Charm, due out May 29. 

Shevdon is an absolute must read if you like urban fantasy. If you loved Julie Kagawa's Iron Fey series or Neil Gaiman's Neverwhere, you should definitely be reading Shevdon. If you like fabulous world building and rich character development wrapped in a supernatural setting and filled with little-known tidbits of UK history, you should be reading Shevdon. And if you like good books in general, you should be reading Shevdon. 

In short, everyone should read Mike Shevdon's Courts of the Feyre series, because I say so. 

Here's a bit about The Road to Bedlam from the Angry Robot site:

“There’s been an accident. It’s your daughter.” These are the words no parent ever wants to hear. 

Learning to cope with the loss of a child is only the beginning of the new challenges facing Niall Petersen. An old enemy has returned and Niall already knows it’s not a social call. 

As the new Warder of the Seven Courts he will be forced to choose between love and honour, duty and responsibility. 

Those choices will lead him to discover dark secrets at the core of the realm, where the people in power have their own designs. 

FILE UNDER: Urban Fantasy [ Undying Madness / Insane Magic / Secret Realities / Stolen Children ] 

And if you've not yet started the series, you can check out my review of Sixty-One Nails here.  (Note, both Sixty-One Nails and The Road to Bedlam are getting a new look this month as well. I've included both covers of RtB here for you guys -- new above and old below.)

Sunday, May 13, 2012

New Releases 5/15/12

Some of the new titles hitting shelves this week are:

The Cottage at Glass Beach by Heather Barbieri

The Testament of Jessie Lamb by Jane Rogers

Arranged by Catherine McKenzie

Bloodman by Robert Pobi

The Secrets of Mary Bowser by Louis Leveen

The Cranes Dance by Meg Howrey

Stolen Prey by John Sandford

Next to Love by Ellen Feldman

The Columbus Affair by Steve Berry

Railsea by China Mieville

I Suck At Girls by Justin Halpern

Gilt by Katherine Longshore

New on DVD:
One For the Money
The Grey
Albert Nobbs
The Devil Inside

New reviews at Bookbitch.com:
I, Iago by Nicole Galland
Hemlock by Kathleen Peacock
In the Bag by Kate Klise

Friday, May 11, 2012

Arranged by Catherine McKenzie

Sorry to be short today, readers. I'm operating on fumes and severe lack of sleep. But I wanted to share a new release from one of my favorite new authors today! Catherine McKenzie's Spin was fantastic -- the kind of book I was desperately in need of and didn't know it. With just one book, this author became not only a must read for me but a drop everything to read. McKenzie's latest, Arranged, officially hits shelves Tuesday, May 15 in the States. And I'm waiting with bated breath for the release of Forgotten in October (out now in Canada).

It seems fate has stepped in when Anne Blythe discovers a business card for what she believes is a dating service straight on the heels of catching her boyfriend cheating. "Blythe and Company," the card reads, "Arrangements made." A few chance encounters with exes and the announcement that her best friend is getting married prompt Anne to call and set up an appointment. She soon discovers that Blythe and Company is not a dating service at all. They arrange marriages. But is Anne really ready for such a commitment?

I love McKenzie's writing. As with Spin, she has once again created a leading lady readers like me can believe in and connect with. And while Arranged is certainly a contemporary romance in part, it's also a thought-provoking read -- how far would you go to meet the man of your dreams and how much would you be willing to forgive if that person wasn't what you'd imagined?

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

I, Iago by Nicole Galland

One of my favorite things as a book junkie is discovering new authors to feed my habit. In my bookseller days, this discovery happened in talking to customers and shelving new arrivals, which usually meant all of my bookseller income was fed directly back into the store in purchases. Nicole Galland was a bookseller discovery of mine back in 2006 when Revenge of the Rose was released.  

Revenge was fantastic. A truly fun and amusing historical read that made Galland a stand out for me. So when the opportunity to review I, Iago came along, I jumped!

Anyone familiar with Othello will know Iago as the antagonist. He devises a plan of revenge after being slighted by Othello, his general and friend. In the end Othello's wife, Desdemona, is dead at Othello's hand. Iago's wife, Emilia, is dead at Iago's hand. Iago murders his childhood friend, Roderigo, and Othello commits suicide. But what led up to the event? What in Iago's past has made him the man who causes all of this grief? That is the Iago Galland presents in her latest.  

Iago pretty much goes with the flow throughout the book. He wants to be in the Navy, his father sends him to artillery school instead. After rising to the top and making a name for himself, Iago's father then uses him to gain support by sending him to join the Army. Not Iago's plan, but he again goes along with his father's wishes and again rises to the top earning an ensign rank early on. At one point Iago tells his wife Emilia that his own merit will get him ahead. And he is wrong. When the lieutenant position opens up, everyone -- including Iago -- believes that Iago is the logical choice. Instead, Cassio is elevated in rank and Iago remains ensign. And this is Iago's breaking point. 

Galland's Iago is manipulative and conniving. He's clever but he's also prone to childish jealousy and his own imagination gets him into trouble -- you know the saying about assuming? Iago does a lot of assuming. I'd say that his plan for revenge against Othello is not completely undeserved. Othello is his friend and relies so heavily on Iago's council that when the general passes him up for promotion without any explanation, Iago's anger seems somewhat justified. His plan gets a little out of control and then a lot out of control before the end of the story.

Having read Galland before, I knew that she would be a worthy one to take on Shakespeare. After all, Shakespeare's work is filled with social commentary and sarcasm through comments that can be taken multiple ways. Galland has mastered this same skill and so tackling Othello's villain, while a task for any writer, seems a little easier for Galland. An ease that ultimately makes I, Iago a highly entertaining read. Galland's writing is smart and her tone is light throughout most of the read. Iago's banter is particularly amusing, especially when he uses his smarts to outwit others. 

Like Revenge of the Rose, I, Iago is a fun read. You don't have to be a Shakespearean scholar to enjoy it -- in fact, you don't have to have any prior knowledge of Othello at all. I, Iago is a complete tale all on its very own.  

For more on Galland, I, Iago, and her other works, you can visit her official blog here. You can also "like" Galland on Facebook and follow her on Twitter

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

The Selection by Kiera Cass

Oh, YA! How I love you so these days! And while I wish I'd had this much to choose from as a teen reader, I'm just pleased as punch to have the chance to jump in now. 

I'm a huge fan of dystopians (as you may have gathered if you read the blog or view my Read shelf). The dystopian setting leaves so much room for creativity. The history that leads up to it, the particulars of the world, how it fits within the story itself... all of this is treated completely differently by just about every author who tackles it. Plus, it's easy to see (especially these days) how things could get out of hand in reality. Dystopian societies are a natural fear in this kind of climate. 

But I don't mean to get too heavy. Today's book is a light read!

Kiera Cass's The Selection was on my wish list for MONTHS before it hit shelves in April. I'm not a Bachelor fan -- except that one season when I knew someone participating -- but I was definitely open to a dystopian version of The Bachelor (The Selection in a very small nutshell) and indeed I loved it! 

Tradition holds that when the Prince of Illea comes of age, one girl from each province will be chosen to take part in The Selection. At the end, one girl will win the crown and the Prince's heart. America Singer enters on a lark and is chosen, but her one true love is the price she pays for taking part in The Selection. As she and Prince Maxon grow closer, America must decide whether to move forward into an unknown future or hang on to what she's always desired.

I enjoyed so many things about this book. America for one. She's a savvy teen. The love triangle, while a little tired and overly exploited these days, fits just fine within this particular setting. In fact, it's the source of a lot of the conflict. 

But I really loved the secrets. The hinted at story behind the story. How America and her fellow Selection competitors really know nothing about their own history. How America's father kept hidden books in the house. Who is attacking the royal family and why. These are the things I loved. These are the things that, in addition to America and The Selection itself, will drive the trilogy and hopefully be answered before the end. 

And in the end, I loved that it was such a light and fun read. One of my sisters is not a fan of dystopians but I'm hoping that she'll enjoy The Selection as much as I did and I can't wait until she reads it. 

And in case you've been living under a rock, The Selection is already in the works for the small screen. 

Sunday, May 6, 2012

New Releases 5/08/12

Some of the new titles hitting shelves this week are:

The Inquisitor's Key by Jefferson Bass

Overseas by Beatriz Williams

Bring Up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel

In One Person  by John Irving

State of Wonder by Ann Patchett (pb)

Home by Toni Morrison

The Year of the Gadfly by Jennifer Miller

The Emerald Storm by William Dietrich

Guilt By Degrees by Marcia Clark

A Simple Murder by Eleanor Kuhns

The Family Corleone by Ed Falco

The Sea Witch by Stephen Coonts

Hemlock by Kathleen Peacock

The Hunt by Andrew Fukuda

Underworld by Meg Cabot

Endure by Carrie Jones (Need #4)

Until I Die by Amy Plum

City of Lost Souls by Cassandra Clare (Mortal Instruments #5)

New on DVD:
Underworld: Awakening
The Vow
Tim & Eric's Billion Dollar Movie

New reviews at Bookbitch.com:
A Clash of Kings by George R. R. Martin
Lost in Shangri-La by Mitchell Zuckoff

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Hemlock by Kathleen Peacock

I've got the house to myself this weekend and am tackling the TBR and relaxing! I've got not plans (other than to hit the bookstore -- I know, I know! Shame on me! But I have a coupon!), read, and chill as much as humanly possible. 

Yesterday I started -- and finished -- Kathleen Peacock's debut release, Hemlock, the first book in the Hemlock trilogy. It would have been a one-sitting read had I not taken a break for a not so fabulous movie. But the book was good :)

A killer is on the loose in Hemlock and Mac's best friend Amy is just the latest in the string of murders. She was found in an alley after being brutally torn apart -- a chunk of white fur clutched in her hand. 

Ever since the werewolves outed themselves, Lupine syndrome has been on the rise. Anyone scratched or bitten is immediately sent to a rehabilitation camp. Since new werewolves typically can't control themselves or the bloodlust that strikes, it's human protection that's at the forefront of everyone's minds. And the murders in Hemlock further support the idea. 

Haunted by her best friend, Mac decides that she will investigate Amy's murder herself. Everyone knows that white wolves are especially rare and now that the Trackers have arrived in town, Mac can think of no better way to be rid of them and gain closure. 

A YA mystery with werewolves? Yeah, I was totally in from page one! The story is solid and Peacock's pacing is phenomenal. What's more, Mac and her friends are totally believable teen characters. 

There's also a hint of American Werewolf in London/Paris here with Mac talking to Amy (a hint). I liked that element as a way for Mac to work through different pieces of the mystery. Clever!

Atypical of the current trilogy trend, there's no real cliffhanger of an ending in Hemlock. Yes, I want to know what comes next and can't wait till book two comes out, but most of the loose ends are neatly tied up -- at least until the story continues. It was a nice sense of resolution even knowing that there's more to come. 

Peacock is one of the Apocalypsies (2012 YA Debuts) and if you didn't know, they've got a current set of contests going with 60 authors participating. Hit the link to take part and find out about some of the fantastic YA titles due out this year. 

Hemlock hits shelves Tuesday, May 8. 

Friday, May 4, 2012

White Horse by Alex Adams

The weekend is upon us again! And you know what that means? I have a huge stack of books I'm planning to spend some quality time with over the next few days!

Nerd I may well be, but considering last weekend was spent with the A/C fiasco, next weekend we have plans to help with a recital event at a friend's dance studio, and the following weekend will be the beginning of kitchen mess, I think this will be the last quiet weekend for a while :)

If you're looking for something to dive into this weekend yourself, I have to suggest (if I could, I'd take you to the bookstore and put it in your hands!) Alex Adams's debut, White Horse. It's end of the world, post-apocalyptic horror/drama that will leave you reeling! It's that good. 

In the aftermath of a horrible outbreak, Zoe Marshall sets off in search of the father of her unborn child. 

White Horse killed off most of the population. The rest were either immune or changed by the virus. Zoe, a cleaner at Pope Pharmaceuticals before it all happened, has not only survived, but is also pregnant. As everyone around her succumbs to the virus, she travels to Europe, clinging to the hope that her lover may have survived. 

From the opening lines, Adams's voice rings clear through her words and her imagery is some of the best I've seen in ages. 

Look at me: I don't want my therapist to think I'm crazy. That the lie rolls off my tongue without tripping over my teeth is a miracle. 

"I dreamed of the jar last night."

"Again?" he asks. 

The leather squeaks beneath my head when I nod.

"The exact jar?"

"Always the same."

You can read more here

White Horse is both horrific and poetic and is utterly amazing! And it's one of my top picks for 2012 so far, joining ranks with what have been some truly fabulous reads this year. I've heard that White Horse will actually be the first in a trilogy. If that's the case, I'll be anxiously awaiting the release of the next book. Either way, Adams has ensured herself a spot on my "Must Read" lilt from here on out!

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Lost in Shangri-La by Mitchell Zuckoff

History is filled with amazing stories -- heroic, tragic, awesome, and even unlikely -- but without someone to recount those tales, they would be lost to those of us who didn't live them. Mitchell Zuckoff's Lost In Shangri-La is one of those stories. 

Twenty-four US military men and women boarded The Gremlin Special on May 13, 1945. Theirs was not an official military mission nor was it part of a larger campaign, it was simply an afternoon site-seeing trip. Each of the men and women on board was stationed in Hollandia in Dutch New Guinea. The plane ride was supposed to take them over a newly discovered valley on the island recently dubbed "Shangri-La." A tragic series of events brought the plane down and only three people survived. For Lt. John McCollom, Sgt. Ken Decker, and WAC Col. Margaret Hastings, it would be only the beginning of their ordeal. Badly injured, the three knew that they would never be found unless they could make their way out of the rain forest and into clear sight. Even then, the terrain would prove a challenge to those attempting rescue. 

The crash of The Gremlin Special, the survivors' tales, and the rescue attempt that followed are spectacular indeed. With the use of first-hand interviews, military documents, and accounts of those involved, Zuckoff brings to life this extraordinary event, ensuring it a permanent and unforgettable place in history.

Zuckoff's writing is engaging and approachable for even the most hard core fiction reader. The fact that every page is completely true just makes it that much more intense. Zuckoff also fleshes out the story by including bits of WWII military history, the history of New Guinea, and a look at the natives of the island as well. Equally fascinating are the P.S. inclusions in the new paperback edition -- personal letters from friends and family of those involved written to the author after reading the book. 

For more on Lost In Shangri-La, visit Zuckoff's website (link above). I'd also recommend that you check out Jon Stewart's Daily Show interview with Zuckoff here - entertaining and informative (and sure to pique your interest even more).

For a full list of Lost In Shangri-La blog tour stops visit the TLC Book Tours page here