Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Once We Were Brothers by Ronald H. Balson

It has been decades since Ben Solomon last saw Otto Piatek. A Jew and a German during WWII, the two boys were raised together as brothers until the Nazis invaded Poland. Where they were once like brothers, they gradually became enemies with Piatek betraying the family that had treated him as one of their own. When Ben sees Elliot Rosenzweig in Chicago, he immediately recognizes him as Piatek. But Rosenzweig is a well respected member of Chicago society. What's more Rosenzweig claims to be a Holocaust survivor himself. Solomon is insistent, however, and with the help of a local attorney hopes to force Rosenzweig into publicly admitting he is Piatek.

It's a bit strange to admit but I am drawn to WWII (and WWI now that I think about it) stories. In part I'm sure it's because this is a part of history that I didn't personally experience. It's hard to even imagine all things considered. And yet there are some works - both books and movies - that draw such a vivid and horrific picture of that time period that it does allow the reader to almost (almost but never completely) see and understand some aspects of the period in question.

I also enjoy them - enjoy seems like an odd word to use - because of the fact that I don't feel any of my own history classes did anywhere near an adequate job of portraying the different facets of this war and the people involved. Don't get me wrong, what I recall of the Fall of Europe course I took in college and my fabulous professor was great, but I definitely don't remember much about Poland for example, which is much of the focus of this particular story.

Anyway, my point is that when Ronald H. Balson's self published debut caught the eye of the folks at St. Martins, which in turn landed a review copy in my hands, it was very much at the top of my "to read" stack along with a few of its brethren, The Book Thief and The Paris Architect. And the reading came quick on the heels of having watched My Best Enemy and The Round Up.

Balson's book does take a bit of a different approach in that it is narrated from the point of view of Ben Solomon in 2004. The story he relays is of course leading up to and during WWII but under the premise that he is telling his story to hopefully gain retribution so many years after the fact. It doesn't downplay the seriousness of his story in any way, but it does allow Balson an opportunity to explain some of the facts to a readership that may not outright understand it all.

Unfortunately it's also my one complaint about the book. There are times when Solomon's explanations to Catherine and his answers to her questions, posed as someone who obviously didn't experience Nazi occupation in Poland, become a bit dry and too much like a classroom setting. Not enough to turn off a reader in my opinion, but it did affect the overall pacing, bogging down parts of the story.

It was clear that the author took great pains to get the facts correct in the book and all in all it was a very good read. If you have time, I suggest checking out this interview with the author from Morning Shift on WBEZ.

Rating: 3.5/5

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

The Pursuit of Mary Bennet by Pamela Mingle Excerpt + Giveaway

Hi, all! Next week I'll be part of the TLC book tour for Pamela Mingle's P&P follow up, The Pursuit of Mary Bennet. But I have some goodies for you first! Thanks to the publisher I've got an excerpt to tease you with today - to celebrate the book's release - and a chance for you to win your very own copy.

To get you started, here's a bit about the book from Goodreads:

For most of her life Mary Bennet has been an object of ridicule. With a notable absence of the social graces, she has been an embarrassment to her family on more than one occasion. But lately, Mary has changed. She's matured and attained a respectable, if somewhat unpolished, decorum. But her peace and contentment are shattered when her sister Lydia turns up-very pregnant and separated from Wickham. Mary and Kitty are bustled off to stay with Jane and her husband. It is there that Mary meets Henry Walsh, whose attentions confound her. Unschooled in the game of love, her heart and her future are at risk. Is she worthy of love or should she take the safer path? In her journey of self-acceptance, she discovers the answer.

Pamela Mingle is local here in Colorado and I can't wait to dive into the book. Check back here next Monday for my review!

Chapter One

Sometimes anger is a living thing. It rose up in my chest and made me want to chew thorns. They would tear at the tender flesh on the roof of my mouth, at my cheeks and tongue. When I swallowed, the sweet, salty taste of blood would linger on my palate, along with pointy bits of thorn. I squeezed my eyes shut, contemplating the pain.

Why was I loitering outside the upstairs sitting room, eavesdropping on a conversation between my parents? Especially since it aroused such ire in me. That couldn’t be healthy. I leaned closer.

“To see all my girls but one settled. Such joy!” Mama said.

“Is Kitty engaged, then?” my father asked.

“She soon will be, mark my words. We will have another wedding by Michelmas.”

We had already celebrated three weddings in the family. My two elder sisters, Jane and Elizabeth, had wed wealthy and propertied gentlemen three years ago, Mr. Bingley and Mr. Darcy. Lydia, my youngest sister, formed a rather disastrous union with one Mr. Wickham, formerly of the militia, and went off to live in Newcastle, as he was currently attached to a regiment quartered there. Only Kitty and I remained at home.

“Ah, you refer to Mr. Walsh, I assume,” Papa said. “Jane describes him as a reserved sort of fellow. Not at all the kind I thought Kitty would have chosen. Perhaps she is too eager to be wed.”

I nearly choked on the irony. Kitty’s foremost preoccupation was with finding a husband. And success at last! She had lately acquired a beau, a friend of Mr. Bingley, whom she met during a lengthy stay with Jane and my brother-in-law. The very man my parents were now discussing.

“What do you mean? He’s a handsome man, and has £6,000 a year! You only met him the once, Mr. Bennet, and cannot have formed a correct impression. And anyway, who cares if he is reserved?”

“Kitty, perhaps?” 

I pressed my lips together to quell a laugh. I pictured Mama casting my father a severe look, and knew his gaze in return would not waver. “Walsh has made his intentions clear, then. Shall I expect a visit from him soon?”

“Not yet, but it won’t be long.” Assured for some time of the matrimonial nature of the relationship, she had, I was quite certain, already spread the idea around the neighborhood.

“What of Mary? Does she wish to wed?” Why was he inquiring about me? No one ever thought of me when marriage was discussed. I was a person of no consequence. I’d never had suitors, nor did I desire any.

“Mary will make an excellent governess for Jane or Lizzy’s children someday,” Mama said. “Marriage is not for her. I cannot think of any man who would have her.”

Poor Mary!

And now for the giveaway. To enter, fill out the Rafflecopter below before Monday, December 9. US only please and no PO boxes.


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, November 25, 2013

The Lost Girls of Rome by Donato Carrisi

Oh, goodness. This was a busy, busy weekend. I did manage to squeeze in some quality reading time with Donato Carrisi's latest, though. This was a whopper of a read!

Sandra's husband has been dead for over five months now but she's done everything she can to avoid dealing with the loss. As an investigative journalist, his work sent him all over the globe. At the time of his death he was supposed to be in Oslo, or at least that's what he'd told her. Why then was his body discovered in Rome? Unable to bear the thought that he could have been hiding something, Sandra has yet to even go through his bags from the trip. But a call from Interpol finally prompts her to do so propelling her into an investigation that she believes may have led to her husband's murder. 

The Lost Girls of Rome is a testament to plotting brilliance! From the very start there are so many threads of story that it seems almost impossible they'll all connect. But connect they do and in a way that I'd bet even the most savvy mystery and thriller reader will never predict! The Whisperer easily landed Carrisi on my favorites list but I think The Lost Girls of Rome still managed to surpass my expectations.

First you have a medic whose sister was kidnapped. The prologue begins with a call to a remote estate and a dying man with the words "Kill me" written on his chest. Near his body, one of the only clues to the medic's sister's disappearance.

Next you have Marcus and Clemente investigating the home of a missing girl. The girl may be tied to the medic's missing sister and the man from the beginning but it's Marcus's job not only to determine how but to hopefully find the missing girl.

Then you have Sandra, a cop whose husband's recent death was ruled an accident. As mentioned above, he was secretive about where he really was on his most recent job and Sandra has put off dealing with everything associated with his death.

And finally you have the hunter, a mysterious character stalking a mastermind criminal able to hide seemingly in plain view.

I won't give anything else away but I will tell you that like Carrisi's debut, The Whisperer, The Lost Girls of Rome is exceptional and extremely dark! And like it's predecessor, this latest also has a number of clever twists.

The Lost Girls of Rome is translated from Italian by Howard Curtis. As translations go, both this title and Carrisi's previous one are outstanding. Really an all around highly recommended read in my opinion, especially if you like your thrillers dark and twisty!

Rating: 5/5


Sunday, November 24, 2013

New releases 11/26/13

Some of the new titles hitting shelves this week are:

Morning Glory by Sarah Jio

The Supreme Macaroni Company by Adriana Trigiani

The Pursuit of Mary Bennet by Pamela Mingle

Our Picnics in the Sun by Morag Joss

Sinister by Lisa Jackson et al

Last to Rise by Francis Knight

The Land Across by Gene Wolfe

Pawn by Aimee Carter

New on DVD:
Red 2

New reviews at Bookbitch.com:
Day One by Nate Kenyon

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Pre Pub Book Buzz: Hidden by Catherine McKenzie

Or my version of Waiting on Wednesday :)

Some of you might recall my gushing praise of Catherine McKenzie's 2012 releases, Spin, Arranged, and Forgotten. All three were at the top of my list of books read that year. I've been anxiously awaiting McKenzie's fourth release, Hidden, antsy as hell because it's been out in her native Canada since this past summer. We here in the States still have a bit of a wait, but every day is one day closer to the April 1st release!

Here's a bit about the book from Goodreads:

While walking home from work one evening, Jeff Manning is struck by a car and killed. Not one but two women fall to pieces at the news: his wife, Claire, and his co-worker Tish. Reeling from her loss, Claire must comfort her grieving son and contend with funeral arrangements, well-meaning family members and the arrival of Jeffs estranged brother, her ex-boyfriend Tim. With Tish's co-workers in the dark about her friendship with Jeff outside of the office, she volunteers to attend the funeral on the companys behalf, but only she knows the true risk of inserting herself into the wreckage of Jeff's life. Told through the three voices of Jeff, Tish, and Claire, Hidden explores the complexity of relationships, the repercussions of our personal choices, and the responsibilities we have to the ones we love.

Considering how blown away I've been not only by McKenzie's books but her overall taste in fiction in general, I definitely expect Hidden to be an incredible read.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

The Naturals by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

Cassie learned early on how to read people. Her mother claimed to be a psychic but Cassie's pretty sure she was nothing but a fraud. That doesn't mean that she wasn't gifted with an ability, an ability that she passed on to Cassie and taught her to use. Cassie is what the FBI calls a Natural. She and a handful of other teens have been tapped for a new and elite program with the feds. Here, they're taught to use their gifts with the intent to help solve some of the toughest cold cases. But when a current case shows a marked similarity to Cassie's mother's murder, she finds herself the center of a killer's attentions. 

Hello! This is exactly the kind of thriller I wanted when I was a teen. One with teens in a fairly believable setting as the main characters. The only thing that I ever found even close to this all those years ago was Christopher Golden's Body of Evidence series.

Sure, as an adult I might be tempted to try and pick this apart and say the scenario is a stretch. Honestly, I just enjoyed reading the book so much that I didn't even pay that much attention. In the book, the way Barnes has set up Cassie's meet and greet with the feds and the first few days of her training, it honestly does make almost total sense that these teens would be working with the FBI on cold cases. Almost. But I will say this, the pacing of the story left me very little time to really start to over analyze the training situation.

One thing that did get to me a little was the sort of banter-ish/show offy nature of the students. And actually, now that I think about it it's just been so long since I was a teen or around teens that I may have forgotten just how badly teens want to one up each other in showing off their talents. Wait. That's not just teens :) The book was just the right length that it toed the line in getting a bit annoying but only just.

Even as a teen I was a pretty savvy mystery reader and while I had my suspicions about the killer, I had no clue about the ultimately revealed motivation. Didn't see that coming at all! So good one, Jennifer Lynn Barnes!

My opinion, The Naturals is an excellent read for teens craving a great thriller. There's a bit of cross over potential for adults who are ok with diving into a slightly iffy (think teen Criminal Element) scenario and spending time with some believably teen characters. This is a series set up so while Barnes  does a good job in her character development, there are some obvious holes to take advantage of in spreading out more story.

Rating: 3.5/5

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Someone Else's Love Story by Joshilyn Jackson

Good morning, readers! Today I'm a stop on the TLC book tour for Joshilyn Jackson's latest, Someone Else's Love Story.

When Shandi Pierce set off with her son Natty and best friend Walcott in a tiny VW filled with all of her possessions, it was just to move to her father's condo in the city. The location was closer to college and the new school her three-year-old genius would be attending. But fate stepped in placing Shandi and Natty in the middle of a gas station hold up. William Ashe saved the day only to get shot himself and in their shared moments Shandi fell a little in love with William. But William is a broken man. As he deals with the loss of his wife and daughter, he'll have to decide if he's ready to open up to someone else. 

Oh, this is such a sweet and wonderful story! I'd already fallen in love with these characters when I read the little e short tie in, "My Own Miraculous." In the story, we meet Shandi, Natty, and Walcott as well as their families. It's not at all necessary to have read it to read Someone Else's Love Story but it was a nice prologue to the book and my first taste of Jackson's work. I definitely recommend it.

It's also clear if you read "My Own Miraculous" that Shandi is dealing with some big issues. Issues that she begins to face very early on in Someone Else's Love Story: her parents and her son. In fact, the circumstances behind her pregnancy were a curious point in the short that I expected would be addressed in the book and boy was it! Shandi, William, and Walcott are each forced to face things they've been avoiding as a result of the hold up.

And William. Oh, William! It's true that Asperger's and autism have become a bit of a trend of late. It's my understanding that this was a bit of a thorn in Jackson's side and that William had been on her mind for quite some time. I thought she did a wonderful job in writing William and his perspective, again striking a great balance with his POV without ever going too far. It helps with the way his particular story plays out as well, all things considered. 

Jackson has a charming style. Her characters here are all southern without being over the top. Her story is a perfect balance of quirky and heartwarming but there are some tense and even some tearjerking moments as well. I also have to add in that I immediately pictured Walcott as Arthur Darville here! Maybe it's because I'm in Doctor Who mode but I couldn't help it. Seriously, Who was the only thing that tore me away from reading this book! (I was smitten by Walcott early on in spite of his being a poet.) 

All in all, this is such an exceptional read for so many reasons. This will not be my last time reading Jackson, I can assure you of that!

Rating: 5/5

To see more stops on the tour be sure to check out the official TLC tour page here

For more on Joshilyn Jackson and her work, you can visit her website here. You can also like her on Facebook and follow her on Twitter



Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Day One by Nate Kenyon

Imagine if you woke up and your coffee machine attacked you. Not outright physically jumped on you, but your coffee is blazingly hot and the pot explodes in your hand. You'd chalk it up as a fluke, right? But what if it escalates? Elevators shutting down with people trapped inside, cars driving themselves, and every computer, phone, and camera watching your every move. John Hawke is about to experience this and more.

Hawke, an accomplished hacker and journalist, has cut all his ties with his past. After being investigated for leaked confidential documents, Hawke lost his job with the Times and only just managed to avoid jail time. Now he's on the fairly straight and narrow, doing everything he can to support his family. He's lucky enough to land a gig writing for a tech magazine and is working on what could be a major story when the end of the world happens. 

James Weller, founder of Conn.ect, Inc, has invited Hawke to his office headquarters, granting him unheard of access to the inner sanctum so to speak. Weller was once high up with Eclipse, a company involved in  exciting and cutting edge energy sharing ideas based on Weller's work. But Weller was forced to leave, which led to him founding his own start up. And while Conn.ect is a great story on its own, Eclipse is the real goal. Before Weller can really begin to tell his story, though, everything starts to go south. Power goes out and people begin to panic. Hawke and the Conn.ect folks are trying to make their way to one of the city's emergency centers when it finally becomes clear just how bad things have gotten. And now Hawke and everyone connected to Weller have become targets for the authorities and scapegoats to take the fall for who or what is really behind it all. 

Nate Kenyon made a name for himself early on with his debut, Bloodstone, which earned him a Stoker nomination. Each of his follow up titles, The Reach, The Bone Factory, and Sparrow Rock, were all received well amongst reviewers and a couple were optioned for film. To date, I've read all of them except Sparrow Rock, and Kenyon's definitely been on my list of horror authors to watch. So of course I was pretty stoked to see that he had a new book coming out. And while technically this is a techno thriller, I personally consider it horror as well.

Kenyon presents a frightening scenario that I find all too possible in this day and age. AI has long been a fear amongst many and comes up a lot as a possible end of everything (Terminator's Skynet, etc). I kind of think my computer is out to get me on a pretty much daily basis so, like I said, tech gone wrong is 100% plausible in my book!

At one point, one of the characters in the book points out exactly how accessible people are through their various connections and paper trails (which are now electronic paper trails). Here you have a pretty typical situation in apocalypse fiction with the main character trying to survive and protect his family - in this case Hawke's major struggle is getting to his family in the first place. But Kenyon's story goes beyond that with Hawke also trying to find a way to get the truth out and hide himself from an entity that has access to every piece of data there is on him, his acquaintances, and his family.

I really loved Hawke as a character. He's smart and driven and the kind of character who can pretty easily think his way out of a tight corner. So while he's facing tough odds, each new idea that comes to him along the way suits his character as Kenyon has presented him, which of course makes the story much more believable as well.

Day One is an all around excellent thriller with a high gore factor and lots of creepy plausibility. I sincerely hope to see more from Kenyon soon, possibly even in the form of a sequel? (I have no idea if that's in the cards for Hawke but it would be great if it was.)

Rating: 5/5

Monday, November 18, 2013

Resist by Sarah Crossan

With their sanctuary in ruins and the Pod's authorities after them, Bea, Alina, Quinn and the others have no choice but to seek out the legendary Sequoia. But the group is separated - Bea and Quinn are traveling with Jazz while Alina, her cousin, and the rest of Resist's survivors aren't even sure whether Bea survived at all. Meanwhile, Ronan Knavery is having a hard time aligning himself with Pod politics. He's sent out to find Quinn but instead begins helping to devise a plan to finally bring down BREATHE. 

This follow up to last year's Breathe was fine - it was a quick and action packed read - but it didn't have the same punch that I recall enjoying so much from its predecessor. Where Breathe felt tense and fast paced, Resist felt rushed. Resist doesn't even compare to Breathe in terms of either world building or character development. And while the book as a whole does tie up the story and pretty much address all questions, it does so in a really bare bones way.

Sequoia was probably the most interesting aspect of this installment for me. I could see so much room for development there in terms of both setting and characters. Instead it felt like we got just the bullet points before the characters move on to the next leg of their journey.

There were some sort of strange character turnarounds as well. I'm trying to be a bit vague - let's just say that some of the characters' actions could have used a bit more set up for me to wholly believe them. Overall I think I finished Resist feeling as though there was a big chunk of the story missing.

Rating: 3/5

Sunday, November 17, 2013

New releases 11/19/13

Some of the new titles hitting shelves this week are:

The Lost Girls of Rome by Donato Carrisi

Someone Else's Love Story by Joshilyn Jackson

Bloodstone by Gillian Philip

King and Maxwell by David Baldacci

The Scribe by Antonio Garrido

Takedown Twenty by Janet Evanovich

The Absence of Mercy by John Burley

Dandy Gilver and the Bothersom Number of Corpses by Catriona McPherson

A Nasty Piece of Work by Robert Littell

The Watcher of the Dark by Joseph Nassise

Horizon by Alyson Noel

The Severed Tower by J. Barton Mitchell

New on DVD:
The World's End
The To Do List
2 Guns
Paranoia
We're the Millers

New reviews at Bookbitch.com:
Charming by Elliott James

Friday, November 15, 2013

Scorched by Mari Mancusi

I like dragons. Dragons can be pretty cool. I realized today, though, that I really don't seem to read a lot of stuff with dragons. Yes, there's the Song of Ice and Fire series and I did start the Temeraire series way back there (need to get back on board with that) but that's all that really comes to mind right now. Imagine my surprise then when I discovered that Mari Mancusi had started a modern dragon series :)

Trinity is used to her grandfather's increasingly madcap schemes, but he's the only family she has left. When he spends the last of their money on a dragon's egg, though, she thinks their time together may soon be at an end. How on earth could he have been scammed into buying a dragon's egg? Then armed men claiming to be from Homeland Security arrive with their eye on taking said egg and Trinity begins to wonder if her grandfather may have been onto something after all. But the real kicker is when a boy who says he comes from two hundred years in the future starts to tell Trinity a story. A story about a girl and an egg and a dragon apocalypse.

It's a little bit like Terminator meets Reign of Fire except that the Reign of Fire pieces are all sort of off screen. I really liked Scorched but then again I've really liked everything I've read by Mancusi so far.

My one issue with the book was how quickly it progressed. The reader is pushed into the action almost immediately with very little set up. I did think that there was enough explanation and development spread out through the story that by the end I felt the overall book worked on all levels - plot and story development, getting to know the characters and their motiviations, etc.

I also liked the wrinkle here between the Dracken and the dragon hunters and whether or not either side  is truly good or bad. This is the first in a series so I'm sure we'll get more on this front to come but for this first outing it's an interesting conundrum as far as deciding which side to root for.

Rating: 4/5

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Charming by Elliott James

John Charming is a lot of things. First, he's a Charming. Ever wonder why there are so many stories featuring Prince Charming? Because there were many rather than just one. Second, John is a knight. Trained by the Knights Templar and set to uphold the Pax Arcana - an ancient law that keeps magic in check. And finally, John is a werewolf and as such considered by many to be an abomination. This is why he's been exiled from the knights and become one of their targets. So now John lives under the radar, traveling from place to place whenever he thinks he may have been recognized. When a vampire infestation threatens the town he most recently calls home, John gets dragged into the fight.

Charming is fun! I love the concept of the series and John Charming as a character - he's a bit of a smart ass with some interesting issues.

What I love the most, though, is the way James weaves in so many different mythologies. It's actually less apparent here in the series installment than in the previous shorts, but even though the main focus in Charming is on the vampires, James does include mention of a variety of beings other than the bloodsucking fiends. Leaving out Sig of course. The fact that she's a... I'll let you find out what she is when John does. She's super cool, though.

James even adds his own twists to vampire and werewolf lore as well, making what could otherwise be the more mainstream aspects of the book new and refreshing. It'll be interesting to see how this progresses further all things considered. The extras in the back of Charming do include a Q&A with James where he mentions a bit about the follow up to Charming. Sounds like this time around it'll be the werewolves that are the enemies and John may just have to pair up with some of the Templars this time around, too.

Rating: 5/5

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

The Stranger You Know by Andrea Kane

Hello, everyone! Today I'm part of the TLC blog tour for Andrea Kane's latest, The Stranger You Know.

The latest case for Forensic Instincts is one that hits a bit too close to home for Casey. When she was in college her best friend was raped and murdered. Now, they've been approached to help find the body of another college girl, one who went missing right around the same time Casey's friend was killed. It's a long shot but Casey hopes that this case may provide some answers to her friend's murder. While reviewing the missing girls items, Claire - the team's clairvoyant - connects with yet another victim as the crime is happening. When the killer contacts Casey personally, the team realizes that not only are the cases connected but Casey has become a target. 

This is the third of Andrea Kane's Forensic Instincts titles (but it can be read as a stand alone). It's an interesting premise for a series. The team is built up of a number of professionals who all seem to have their own demons (this is the first title I've read, but there are references to a few things that are likely covered in the previous titles) and their own unique contributions to what is basically a high end private investigating firm.

Overall the plotting and pacing on this one were great but I had one sort of big beef that kept coming back to mind: why on earth did no one immediately consider the connection being Glen Fisher. (No worries, this isn't a spoiler.) You've got a killer targeting red heads with the same MO as Fisher and though he's in prison when the book begins, one of the first things the team says they're going to do is look into their old cases to see who might have it in for Casey. Um, the guy who raped and killed red heads maybe? The one who has reason to hate Casey (also a red head) because she helped put him away? Hm, I don't know. Might come immediately to mind when considering who might have a vendetta against the character.

I really just wasn't sure why that particular reveal played out the way it did. I still can't figure out a reason for it, but it made this brilliant team a little harder to believe considering it was kind of staring them all in the face.

That aside, The Stranger You Know is a pretty great thriller. And since it works as a stand alone, it means readers who enjoy it have a small backlog of titles (The Girl Who Disappeared Twice and The Line Between Here and Gone) with the same characters that they can then go back to the beginning with :) Always a plus in my opinion (at least while you wait for a new release).

Rating: 3.5/5

To see more stops on the tour be sure to check out the official TLC tour page here.

For more on Andrea and her work you can visit her website here. You can also like her on Facebook and follow her on Twitter.


 

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

The Alligator Man by James Sheehan

Morning, readers! Today I'm part of the TLC blog tour for James Sheehan's The Alligator Man.

When the former CEO of Dynatron is run down and left to become gator food, no one sheds that many tears. He ripped off his employees and walked away scott free with millions, which means lots of possible suspects. Kevin Wylie has recently lost his job working with one of Miami's top defense attorneys but it's allowed him time to reconnect with the father he hasn't seen in over two decades. It's also put him in the right place at the right time to defend the state's top suspect in what's now being referred to as the Alligator Man's murder. Billy, the suspected killer, is a long time friend of Kevin's father and unsurprisingly one of those who lost everything when Dynatron closed down. But did he kill the Alligator Man?

As a reader, I'm almost ashamed to say that I've become wary of legal thrillers. I like to think that I'll read just about anything out there - and it's true but after a long time early binge of John Grisham, I've found myself shying away from the subgenre. But it means missing out on authors like James Sheehan! Not this time, though. Prompted by recommendations (and Masterpiece's Silk, which I highly recommend!) I decided it was time to set aside my previous legal thriller issues and when the opportunity to jump on board this tour arose, I took it.

And boy am I glad!

Sheehan strikes a fine balance between the actual case in question and character development, which means that you've got a good grasp of Kevin and his relationships as well as the other supporting characters while still moving along with the mystery itself. The pacing is excellent and the suspense is finely tuned. Be warned, though, this is another one that will keep you up at night if you start too late in the day!

Yes, it's one of those books. The chapters are short enough that I found myself up late reading just one more chapter over and over and over. I was sucked in by the third chapter and continued to fall further down the rabbit hole as the book progressed. Sheehan did a masterful job of weaving the threads of the story together, making The Alligator Man an incredibly enticing read.

I should also add that The Alligator Man is a great intro to Sheehan's work. His previous books, The Mayor of Lexington Avenue, The Law of Second Chances, and The Lawyer's Lawyer, all feature the same central character while this latest is a stand alone.

Rating: 4/5

To see more stops on the tour be sure to check out the official TLC tour page here.

For more on James Sheehan and his work, visit his website here. You can also like him on Facebook.


Monday, November 11, 2013

Pax Arcana shorts by Elliott James

Hi, everyone! So sad the weekend is over. I spent most of it getting acquainted to Elliott James's Pax Arcana series, which kicked off in September with Charming. James also penned a number of e shorts to go along with the series, "Charmed I'm Sure," "Don't Go Chasing Waterfalls," and "Pushing Luck." (Looks like there's at least one more due out as well.)

In "Charmed I'm Sure" John Charming is just passing through when he stops to help a naked man on the side of the road. The last thing the man remembers is being back in Pennsylvania post Y2K. John instantly suspects there's something magical to blame and goes on the hunt for the thing that might be responsible.

As an intro to the world and the character, "Charmed" is a really fun tale. Whether you read this first or after reading Charming, it gives you a chance to see even more of the great detail James has put into the setting and the mythology that supports his world building.

"Don't Go Chasing Waterfalls" follows immediately after "Charmed" with John seeking help from one of the cunning folk. Her name is Sarah White and while she seems innocent enough, John's experience with her kind leaves him wary of trusting her. But all she wants in exchange for helping him is a little help herself after one of her employers goes missing.

I loved the way this one tied into the previous tale, though in reading them I actually read them in reverse. It's ok. It doesn't really matter all that much which order any of these are read in but it was fun that they were linked. Again the use of varied mythology and the Pax Arcana itself prove to be a really great premise for this world and make each of the stories that much more enjoyable.

Finally, in "Pushing Luck" John infiltrates a high end and highly exclusive poker game with an eye to bringing in a bit of income. Turns out this game has higher stakes than just cash when John realizes a Rakshasa is running the whole thing.

Did I mention how cool the mythology used in this series has been so far? I mean you've got fairy rings in the first story, a Norwegian water spirit (a fossegrim) in the second, and a being from Hindu/Buddhist lore in the third. I haven't even touched on John's story at all either, which you get in more detail in the actual book Charming, but he's a former member of the Knights Templar and a werewolf, and a descendant of the legendary Charming family.

In these shorts he travels around a bit Jack Reacher like, using his skills and strengths to bring down supernatural baddies. In Charming he's tapped to help bring down a vampire ring or risk his anonymity. These three stories each serve as great extras if you've already read Charming or as cheap intros to the series if you haven't. They all come with a teaser chapter from the book as well. Orbit also has another short up on their site right now. You can read "Dog Gone" here.

The Pax Arcana series is sure to hit the spot for fans of Richard Kadrey's Sandman Slim and Jim Butcher Dreseden books. Definitely recommended for readers who enjoy mythology based urban fantasy and paranormal mystery.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

New Releases 11/12/13

Some of the new titles hitting shelves this week are:

White Fire by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child

Long Live the Queen by Kate Locke

A Christmas Hope by Anne Perry

Fiddlehead by Cherie Priest

The Strangled Queen by Maurice Druon

An Old Betrayal by Charles Finch

Stella Bain by Anita Shreve

The Raven's Eye by Barry Maitland

Ghost Medicine by Aimee & David Thurlo

Death of the Black Haired Girl by Robert Stone

The First Phone Call From Heaven by Mitch Albom

Dust by Patricia Cornwell

A Permanent Member of the Family by Russell banks

Tatiana by Martin Cruz Smith

The Living by Matt de la Pena

The Wicked Game by Michelle Zink

Save the Enemy by Arin Greenwood

Hild by Nicola Griffin

New on DVD:
Prince Avalanche
Man of Steel
Dexter: The Final Season

New reviews at Bookbitch.com:
Sense & Sensibility by Joanna Trollope
The Secret Daughter of the Tsar by Jennifer Laam
Undead by Kirsty McKay
Not a Drop to Drink by Mindy McGinnis

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Pre Pub Book Buzz: The Shadow Year by Hannah Richell

I get TBR recommendations all over the place and while some folks can't stand title comparisons, I actually don't mind them. As long as they're appropriate. Just a few days ago BN posted this list by Joel Cunningham of "8 Great Books for Fans of The Secret History."I know, I've not yet read The Secret History, but I've actually bought it twice. (I should get to reading that.)

Anyway, I checked out the list out of curiosity since I've got the book everyone loves already in my TBR. There are some great recommendations on this list, guys! I chose one of them as my Pre Pub Book Buzz title for today.

The Shadow Year by Hannah Richell is already out in the UK and will be released in the States in May. Here's the book synopsis from Goodreads:

Still grieving the death of her prematurely delivered infant, Lila finds a welcome distraction in renovating a country house she's recently inherited. Surrounded by blueprints and plaster dust, though, she finds herself drawn into the story of a group of idealistic university grads from thirty years before, who'd thrown off the shackles of bourgeois city life to claim the cottage and rely only on each other on the land. But utopia-building can be fraught with unexpected peril, and when the fate of the group is left eerily unclear, Lila turns her attention to untangling a web of secrets to uncover the shocking truth of what happened that fateful year, in order to come to terms with her own loss and build a new future for herself.

I think it sounds deliciously intriguing and I can't wait for it to come out! Richell does have one book available here in the States already. The House of the Tides (aka Secrets of the Tides) was released this past summer. For more on Richell check out her website here, like her on Facebook, and follow her on Twitter.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Steelheart by Brandon Sanderson + a Giveaway

Hi, everyone! It's Friday! And what a fabulous Friday it is, because I'm giving away a copy of Brandon Sanderson's Steelheart courtesy of the publisher. For a taste, head over to here and check out the prologue. It's ok, I'll be here when you're done :)

Holy crap this book is good! I feel like this has been such and awesomely excellent reading week, folks. I know not every book I pick up will be amazing but I've seriously had a string of fabulous ones lately and I hope it doesn't end anytime soon!

The first Epics appeared over a decade ago in the wake of the appearance of Calamity. David's own father always believed that this would bring about real superheroes, but the Epics have all proved to be out for their own good. Then David witnessed his father's death at the hands of Steelheart, the Epic who would go on to claim Chicago as his own personal kingdom, and became determined to see the man brought down. David was the only one to live through that day. Each of the Epics has a downfall and David is the only person who's come close to discovering Steelheart's. The only person who's ever seen Steelheart bleed. Now eighteen, David longs to join the Reckoners, a team of regular humans who have stepped up to fight the Epics.

Yeah, yeah. I know I'm late to the Brandon Sanderson bandwagon. This is the guy who was tapped to finish Robert Jordan's epic Wheel of Time series after all. He's been a busy, busy guy too. In addition to those big shoes to fill, Sanderson is the author of more than one series of his own, the recently released Rithamtist, and now Steelheart.

Given all of that, I did know that I was in for something amazing. I just didn't know how amazing it would be! I started Steelheart over lunch yesterday and read the first 87 pages. If I could have, I would have stayed right where I was until I turned the last page. Alas, real life was calling. That's ok though because I dove straight in after work ended again and this time did sit through to the final page!

In what can only be an homage to all the classic superhero stories out there, Steelheart begins with David's origin story (that's the prologue I linked above in case you missed it). The idea that Sanderson has basically turned the superhero trope on its head by making the humans themselves the superheroes is pretty fun. Also, because I didn't really read the synopsis before starting the book, the fact that the title character is the big baddie was something that I was not expecting! As I said, holy crap this book was good!

This is a wonderfully imagined and action filled start to a series, with book two due out next fall. I can't wait to get my hands on it!

And now for the giveaway. To enter to win, simply fill out the Rafflecopter below before November 25. US only and no PO boxes please.


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, November 7, 2013

The Lair by Emily McKay

As I mentioned yesterday in my post on The Farm, today I'm part of the blog tour for Emily McKay's The Lair. Warning, if you've not yet read The Farm there will be spoilers below!

Refresher: so yeah, a vampire-like plague has taken over the country. The baddies are called Ticks. Lily and her sister, Mel, were saved by Carter who, along with the vampire Sebastian, hoped Lily could help save humanity. Instead it turned out Mel was the one they were looking for, which they only discovered just before she became a vampire.

While Mel is left to train with Sebastian, Carter, Lily, and McKenna make their way to Utah where the resistance camp is based. But the camp may not be the salvation they'd all hoped. When they arrive they find that the camp has recently been attacked by one of their own who was infected. With their numbers depleted and folks afraid to leave, resources are scarce. But the Ticks are as persistent as ever and the original plan to defeat them is seemingly blown. If she's to save herself and the others Lily will have to come up with an alternative and quick. 

You notice I said it's up to Lily and not Carter to come up with a plan. He's there. He's planning, but Lily is still as kick-ass as she was in the first outing. I love her. She's stubborn and persistent, but smart. Carter kind of drives me nuts in the beginning trying to keep her safe and sound. Not apocalypse practical, man!

It's strange how often a sequel can disappoint after a fabulous start. Fortunately that wasn't the case at all here. I loved The Lair just as much as The Farm. In fact, after finishing The Farm I couldn't wait to get back to the story and the characters, so I really had quite high expectations to begin with. The Lair delivered on all counts.

One twist in McKay's books that I really enjoy is the way the Ticks came about. This idea that while there have always been vampires but no one knew and then an outbreak causes the Ticks is a particularly cool twist to the more common vampire lore. I also really liked the detail that McKay employed to explain the outbreak - there's a bit of this in The Farm and more in The Lair. It added an extra layer of believability to the whole scenario. I'm a sucker for a good outbreak story. I sometimes like to say that if I'd been a stronger science student I might have ended up studying virology. There's just something so intriguing about it all.

Happily there is to be a follow up. According to McKay (and I read it here in My Bookish Ways's fabulous interview - she's doing a giveaway too so I highly suggest checking it out) it's tentatively titled The Vault. Um, big yay!

Rating: 4.5/5

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

The Farm by Emily McKay

This was to be a marathon reading week and I managed to stay on track up until... last night. Yesterday was a bit of a blah day, that's the only excuse I have. But I did get back to my book, Emily McKay's The Farm after a few brainless sitcoms. I have to say, every time I think I'm likely done with vamps someone comes along and surprises me. Last time it was The Coldest Girl in Coldtown and now there's Emily McKay's series.

Lily and her twin sister, Mel, were shipped off to the Farm about six months ago. Thanks to an outbreak, a huge chunk of the population has become infected with a pathogen that makes them bloodsucking freaks. They call them Ticks. And since the Ticks seems to find teen blood particularly tasty, the Farms were created to keep the teen population safe. Or so they said. They were to wait out a cure but said cure has yet to be found and Lily has discovered that they're all being used as food instead, with multiple blood donations a month and careful tracking of their hormones. What's worse, no one's really sure what happens when you turn eighteen. With their birthday right around the corner, Lily and Mel aren't going to wait around to find out. Lily has planned their escape and is ready to set it in motion when Carter shows up. They were classmates before all this started, at least until Carter was shipped off to military school. Lily isn't sure she can trust Carter but thinks he may be her best shot for getting out. Carter is definitely hiding things and has his own plans, which do include saving Lily and Mel, but to what end?

So it's a post viral outbreak apocalypse story with vampires. Works for me! It has all the great elements of a typical post apocalyptic tale - tension and gruesome baddies, the constant threat that those around you might turn on you either becoming Ticks themselves or stabbing you in the back to save their own skin, and the desperate/desolate post disaster setting that I find so tempting in a tale. And you have a tough as nails heroine in Lily!

McKay alternates chapters between Lily, Carter, and Mel and it's this that makes the book really interesting. Mel is autistic and her chapters are oddly awesome - or awesomely odd. I can't even imagine what kind of headspace McKay had to be in to put together Mel's chapters. There's no way my imagination could reach to those depths! The only other time I've seen an author attempt this - and I'm sure there are more but this is the only one I recall - it was Jonathan Lethem's Motherless Brooklyn and the narrative drove me batty! This time around it worked for a number of reasons, first and foremost because Mel is not the main narrator. But it is a definite unique and appealing aspect with The Farm and McKay does it well.

This is the first in a multi-part story. The sequel, The Lair, is out now and I'll be reviewing it tomorrow as part of the tour (here's the link to all the tour dates and spots). There's also to be a prequel called The Before, which will be out in December according to the official website for the series.

I really don't want to give away too much for you guys, but if you missed out on The Farm (like I somehow managed to) and you love survivalist post apocalyptic stuff then you'll want to check out the books regardless of how you feel about vampires (psst, these definitely do not sparkle!). Also, there's this. Hit the link. Check it out. So. Super. Fabulous.

Rating: 4/5

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday: Sequels I Can't Wait to Get My Hands On!

I've decided to jump on board with Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week the topic is: sequels I can't wait for!


There are quite a few, I must admit. Here goes my top ten:

1. The Severed Streets by Paul Cornell - London Falling was completely excellent. There was a pretty cool reveal in the end and I'm just dying to continue the story. Right now it's set for an April release from Tor. 

2. The Scarlet Tides by David Hair - I only finished reading Mage's Blood last weekend and I honestly could have gone straight into book two after turning the final page. Everything is so up in the air for the characters that I NEED to know what's going to happen (not that this one will provide any sort of closure - there are to be four books total). Scarlet Tides is actually out in the UK. I'm not sure I can wait for the US edition! 

3. Hollow City by Ransom Riggs - really, if you've not read Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children as of yet you are seriously missing out!

4. Red Horse by Alex Adams - I have no clue when this book will actually be out, but I adored White Horse

5. Wicked Little Secrets by Kara Taylor - Prep School Confidential was one of my favorite debuts of 2013. This follow up is due out in March and I expect it'll be just as fun as the first. 

6. I was going to stick strictly to sequels but I've got to go with multiples now - The Winds of Winter and A Dream of Spring by George R. R. Martin. Everyone who's read the series so far is dying for them!

7. Sixth Grave on the Edge by Darynda Jones - number 5 was quite possibly my favorite in the series so far so of course I can't wait to get my hands on the next one!

8. Wolf by Mo Hayder - book seven in the Jack Caffery series. Hayder is phenomenal and this series is a long time favorite of mine. 

9. The One by Kiera Cass - the third in the Selection series, 'cause I want to know who America and Maxon will pick!!!

10. Into the Still Blue by Veronica Rossi - third in the Under the Never Sky trilogy. This is a cheat because I technically have the e arc to review. I haven't started it yet so I'm including it on the list. 

Honorable mention (and my way of going over 10):

Fortune's Blight by Evie Manieri - another epic fantasy series. This one started in 2012 with Blood's Pride and I thought it was phenomenal. 

Carlos Ruiz Zafon's fourth Cemetery of Forgotten Books installment. 

In the End by Demitria Lunetta - 'cause In the After was soooooo good!

Sense & Sensibility by Joanna Trollope

Good morning, everyone! Today I'm a stop on the TLC blog tour for Joanna Trollope's Sense & Sensibility. This latest from Trollope is part of The Austen Project, a new series of Jane Austen reimaginings from Harper - modernized twists on the classic tales! Trollope's Sense & Sensibility is the project's launch title and 2014 will see Val McDermid's Northanger Abbey and Curtis Sittenfeld's Pride & Prejudice.

Henry Dashwood has died leaving his second wife (though some question whether they were really married) and his three daughters almost penniless and homeless. Norland Park, the estate they'd long called home, is to go to Henry's son by his first marriage. And while John supposedly promised his father he'd care for the Dashwood women, his wife has insisted that they leave. Belle and her daughters, Elinor, Marianne, and Margaret, are fortunate in that one of Henry's cousins has offered them a place on his own property. It does mean relocating to Devon and enduring their gregarious host family, but it's surely better than the alternative. Life as the Dashwoods know it seems to have been forever changed, though, as they face the loss of not only their home but the status their name once gave them.

If you're familiar with Sense & Sensibility in any of its forms (the book or the various movie adaptations), you'll notice that Trollope hasn't deviated from the main premise. It does make reading this new modern twist easy in that there's no question what will happen. It's instead a reassuring return to a classic tale but with slight differences to account for the twenty-first century.

I must have more sensibility than sense considering Elinor is the character I always most closely associate with in this story and Brandon is the one I've always found to be more romantic when it comes to the male leads in the story. I alternate between finding Marianne sweet and somewhat endearing and overwhelmingly annoying and shallow. As for Willoughby and Edward, neither of them is exactly my kind of guy. None of that's changed in Trollope's version.

Is it necessary to rework Austen? Probably not. But still, I found Trollope's S&S to be highly entertaining and I thought she did a wonderful job of staying true to the classic and capturing the essence of Austen. As a bonus read for you, Trollope wrote this excellent piece for Waterstones explaining why S&S is both timeless and perfect for a modern audience.

Rating: 4.5/5

To see more stops on the tour be sure to check out the official TLC tour page here. And for more on Joanna Trollope and her work, visit her website at www.joannatrollope.com.

For more on The Austen Project, click the link above to visit the official site. You can also like the project on Facebook and follow it on Twitter.


Monday, November 4, 2013

Muckers by Sandra Neil Wallace

And now for the Muckers review as part of my stop on the TLC blog tour!

For Hatley, Arizona, the mine is life but to Red O'Sullivan it seems it's going to close any day. In fact, their school is already set to shut its doors permanently in the coming months, with all of the students pretty guaranteed to be sent to their rival school in Cottonville. The only thing second to the mine in Hatley is football. The Hatley Muckers have gone to the state championship just twice - once with Red's own brother leading them - and now it's Red's turn. The odds are against them in every way - their record isn't great, they only have fourteen players, and they're outweighed by every other team in the state - but Red and his friends are determined. With the whole town seemingly relying on them, the Muckers are dead set and ready to fight for the championship. 

If you're under the impression that this is just a football book, you're definitely mistaken. Set in 1950 and based on the real life story of the Jerome Muckers, Sandra Neil Wallace fleshes out this story of football and the state championship with real people and social issues.

Red and his family have never recovered from losing his brother, Bobby, in WWII and one of Red's own friends is off to join the war in Korea. As the Communist scare worsens, one of the teachers at Hatley High is ready to turn in every last townsperson if so much as a hint of red is revealed.

Hatley itself is a town divided with pieces of it sectioned off by race. And while their school is integrated - as the real Jerome school was - the opposing teams are shocked to find Mexicans playing on the same team as whites. For Red it's made that much worse because the object of his affection is Mexican and the town definitely frowns on mixed race couples. Not that that's enough to stop a teenager in love!

I loved Muckers in the same way that I loved Friday Night Lights (the tv show). The characters on the page were here with me as I read and I honestly couldn't resist the fact that it was based on a true story. The idea that Wallace discovered this cache of letters and clippings telling what was until now an almost forgotten story was one that appealed to me on so many levels. Muckers is a true win in my opinion!

Rating: 4.5/5


Guest Post by Sandra Neil Wallace

Good morning, readers! Today I'm a stop on the TLC blog tour for Sandra Neil Wallace's Muckers and to go along with my review post, I've got a great guest piece from Sandra herself!

A big, big welcome to Sandra Neil Wallace!

Would you give up fame and fortune to do what you truly love? How finding the Muckers story changed my life. 

In the 1990s, long before I knew I’d actually be a published author, I was an ESPN reporter. 

I remember the first time I was about to go on TV for an NHL broadcast. There was a production assistant counting me down to the minutes before I went “live,” and she said to me, “Do you ever think about the millions of people watching, and if you screw up, it would be the end of your career?” Of course I’d never thought about that, but guess what I started thinking? I suddenly felt fear like I never had before. Luckily, I didn’t screw up, but after five years in sports TV, I never forgot her words. The truth was I didn’t want a career in television. I wanted to be a writer. I just needed to find a story, and the courage to leave TV. 

Little did I know I’d find that story at a historical society in one of history’s wildest towns in the west—Jerome, Arizona. I lived nearby, in Sedona. 

A box of memorabilia had been dropped off that resembled the boxes you’d find at flea markets. In it were yearbooks and photographs of people eating watermelon in the Gulch a hundred years ago. Then letters began tumbling out; all written by young men to the principal of Jerome High School. The heartfelt letters, penned mostly by Mexican Americans, spanned the three decades up to the Korean War. Some wrote from bunks of battleships headed for Iwo Jima, terrified about what might happen. Others told of separate swim times in Jerome—one for Mexican Americans, and one for other whites known as “Anglos.” 

I photocopied every letter and stayed up all night figuring out what to do with them. I knew they were too important to let go of. 

No matter how dire those letters were, they always signed off with hopes of a Muckers football championship. It was obvious that the team brought these young men hope. So I connected the letters to the yearbooks, and the yearbooks to the newspapers and uncovered an incredible sports story: the 1950 Jerome Muckers football team, the smallest in Arizona, and one of the few integrated squads--Anglos and Mexican Americans--went undefeated. Together, the team defied prejudice and took a run at the championship. Then their school closed. 

Here was my story. Yet as I faced the box of letters and a sports triumph forgotten for more than forty-five years, I considered walking away from that box. My own fear had set in. 

How could I write in the voices of young men, most of them Mexican American? What if I really did screw up? As a woman sportscaster, I’d been down that road before: “A woman can’t report on the NHL or the NFL—they’ve never played the game.” One of my ESPN colleagues suggested that I tell a Latino writer about the story because how could I write it as well as he would? Another said to use initials like S.E. Hinton did for The Outsiders, to cover up the fact that I was a woman writing about male sports heroes in first person. 

Then I interviewed the real Muckers. 

When I asked them about their undefeated season despite so many obstacles, they said, “There was no way we were going to lose.” 

I knew I had to take hold of the story and do the same. So I left sports television and wrote the novel, Muckers, inspired by the courage of that 1950 team. 

My life took different turns, but I kept writing Muckers during yearly trips to Jerome. I wrote chapters sitting on the ledge of the segregated swimming pool, drained long ago, and in the old high school and the rock football field. 

Fifteen years later, I can tell the real Muckers that their story hasn’t been forgotten. That I wrote a novel inspired by their heroic season, and that I was meant to find that box of letters.

About Sandra Neil Wallace 

For fifteen years, Sandra Neil Wallace was a news anchor and ESPN sportscaster before writing novels. After the publication of her first novel Little Joe, she was named an outstanding newcomer to the children’s literature scene by the Horn Book. Muckers is her first historical fiction novel. She lives in New Hampshire with her husband, author Rich Wallace, and their shelter dog, Lucy. Visit Sandra at www.sandraneilwallace.com and on Facebook and Twitter.


Sunday, November 3, 2013

New Releases 11/5/13

Some of the new titles hitting shelves this week are:

Limit by Frank Schatzing

The Dinosaur Feather by S.J. Gazan

The Boleyn Deceit by Laura Andersen

The Valley of Amazement by Amy Tan

Havisham by Ronald Frame

Bellman & Black by Diane Setterfield

Masks by E.C. Blake

Rituals by Mary Anna Evans

Rustication by Charles Palliser

The Thrill of the Haunt by E.J. Copperman

The Good Boy by Theresa Schwegel

The Whole World by Kristina Riggle

The Truth About You by Susan Lewis

The Minor Adjustments Beauty Salon by Alexander McCall Smith

The All-Girl Filling Station's Last Reunion by Fannie Flagg

This is the Story of a Happy Marriage by Ann Patchett

Through the Evil Days by Julia Spencer Fleming

Death of a Nightingale by Lene Kaaberbol and Agnette Friis

No Man's Nightingale by Ruth Rendell

Cracked by Eliza Crewe

The Trap by Andrew Fukuda

Curtsies & Conspiracies by Gail Carriger

Revelations by J.A. Souders

Broken by CJ Lyons

The Lair by Emily McKay

Champion by Marie Lu

The In-Between by Barbara Stewart

The Creature Department by Robert Paul Westin and Framestore

New on DVD:
As I Lay Dying

New reviews at Bookbitch.com:
Mage's Blood by David Hair

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Pre Pub Book Buzz: The Gospel of Loki by Joanne M. Harris

Ok, readers, this one might be a LEETLE far out (for us here in the States) but I really can't wait! So far I'm only seeing a UK release date of Feb 20, 2014 from Gollancz. I'm sure at some point we'll have it here in the US but I've no idea when. (I may have to order mine overseas come Feb.)

I very much enjoy Joanne Harris's work. Ever since my introduction to her with Five Quarters of the Orange, she's been on my must have list. This includes her excellent teen release, Runemarks, which - like Gospel of Loki - concerns Norse mythology. Though in this case Gospel of Loki does appear to be an adult title and I'm assuming no linked to Runemarks in any way other than the source material.

Here's a bit about The Gospel of Loki from the Goodreads entry:

The novel is a brilliant first-person narrative of the rise and fall of the Norse gods - retold from the point of view of the world's ultimate trickster, Loki. It tells the story of Loki's recruitment from the underworld of Chaos, his many exploits on behalf of his one-eyed master, Odin, through to his eventual betrayal of the gods and the fall of Asgard itself. Using her life-long passion for the Norse myths, Joanne Harris has created a vibrant and powerful fantasy novel.

Loki, that’s me.

Loki, the Light-Bringer, the misunderstood, the elusive, the handsome and modest hero of this particular tissue of lies. Take it with a pinch of salt, but it’s at least as true as the official version, and, dare I say it, more entertaining.

So far, history, such as it is, has cast me in a rather unflattering role.

Now it’s my turn to take the stage.

With his notorious reputation for trickery and deception, and an ability to cause as many problems as he solves, Loki is a Norse god like no other. Demon-born, he is viewed with deepest suspicion by his fellow gods who will never accept him as one of their own and for this he vows to take his revenge. 

From his recruitment by Odin from the realm of Chaos, through his years as the go-to man of Asgard, to his fall from grace in the build-up to Ragnarok, this is the unofficial history of the world’s ultimate trickster.

Honestly, any new title from Joanne Harris would be featured here but the fact that this one is an adult fantasy makes it that much higher on my must have list!

Friday, November 1, 2013

To See or Not to See: About Time

Ok, I'm going to head this up and go ahead and say this is a 100% highly recommended definite see in my opinion. Technically the movie is in limited release this Friday and everywhere next week. Mike and I were lucky enough to get early screening tickets *for free* (I have no idea how or why, but we did and I was THRILLED). So we actually saw this a couple of weeks ago. I loved it, you guys, and so did hubs!

The year he turns 21, Tim learns that the men in his family have a particularly interesting ability: they can travel in time. Only into the past and only in their own lifetime, but even still the possibilities are endless. Tim's first use of it is to rectify the previous night's New Year's Eve party where he spurned a young lady at the toll of midnight and subsequently felt awful about it. That fixed, he decides his power will be used to help him find love. And so it does, but every change he makes affects something else, complicating Tim's life a little further. 

The movie stars Domhnall Gleeson (you may recognize him from Harry Potter) in the lead role as Tim and Rachel McAdams as his love interest Mary. Bill Nighy plays Tim's dad, Lindsay Duncan is Tim's mom, and Lydia Wilson (who is new to me but we'll hopefully see in Dirk Gently - if it comes to TV in the States) plays Tim's sister. 

About Time is the perfect rom com! First and foremost, it's British so it's full of their particularly fabulous blend of funny and romantic. Normally I would never consider dragging hubs out to see a romantic movie unless it happens to be something like Bridesmaids (where the romance element is second to the raunchy comedy). Though I do make him watch both Bridget Jones' Diary and Love Actually just about every Christmas. Coincidentally About Time is directed by Richard Curtis, the same director as Love Actually so I didn't feel so guilty about taking Mike.

And as I said, he really did enjoy it. He says he's not actually disliked anything with Bill Nighy, so that was a plus in About Time's favor from the start. Other comic relief comes from Tom Hollander who plays Harry, a disgruntled playwright, and Tim's various friends.

The movie is much more than a simple boy meets girl love story, though, in that Tim's got some other family things to face down as well. But while I certainly teared up at the end, the movie has way more heartfelt and funny moments than downright sad ones. Cast, script, and direction are all really fantastic. I have no complaints, only praise to give to this movie.

Amidst the many, many movies Mike and I have seen this year, About Time is tied up with The Way, Way Back as far as best I've seen in 2013! Go see it!

My Own Miraculous by Joshilyn Jackson

Morning, readers! Later this month I'll be part of the TLC blog tour for Joshilyn Jackson's latest release, Someone Else's Love Story. I'd actually not read her before now but folks always talk about her work so glowingly that I just had to get on board. So when I came across her new short, My Own Miraculous, and got a taste of her work I just had to share!

Shandi was just seventeen when she found out she was pregnant. Now, just a few short years later, she's still learning to be a mom to her son Natty. With the support of her own mother and her best friend Walcott, things have worked out ok and Shandi even has plans for a college degree. But a chance encounter at the local blood drive causes her to have to reevaluate everything she thought she knew about being a parent.

Shandi and Natty are characters in Someone Else's Love Story, so My Own Miraculous served not only as an introduction to Jackson's work for me but a taste of what's to come in Someone Else's Love Story. And readers, I can't wait to get to the book. Shandi, Natty, Walcott, and all of the others have already captured my heart completely!

It's clear from this tale that we'll all be in for a great ride with Someone Else's Love Story. Even if I hadn't already heard how wonderful Jackson's writing is and how quirky her characters are, I know now.

My Own Miraculous is out now in e format and on audible.com. A print edition will be available on November 12 and Someone Else's Love Story is due to hit shelves on November 19.