Friday, February 28, 2014

The Contractors by Harry Hunsicker

Good morning, readers! Today I'm a stop on the TLC book tour for Harry Hunsicker's latest thriller, The Contractors.

Jon and his partner, Piper, have been planning a big takedown. They're contractors working on commission for the DEA, which means the bigger the bust the bigger the payday. Word on the street is that a big shipment will be coming through Dallas and Jon and Piper know where and when. But in the midst of the job two unexpected twists arise. The first is a woman named Eva Ramirez. Jon and Piper soon learn that Eva was to be a witness in a case in West Texas before she went missing. The government wants her, the cartels want her, and Dallas PD wants her as well. The second twist is the arrival of another group of contractors and these guys not only want the bust for themselves, they're willing to play dirty. By the time backup arrives the drugs and the rival contractors are gone, there are two dead bodies, Eva and Piper are missing, and Jon and Piper are on the hook for the murders. 

I will give this to Harry Hunsicker, he knows how to put together a real page turner!

Throughout it all I did find that there were a lot of elements of The Contractors that were over the top. The bad guys are really bad, the good guys are pretty quirky, and the storyline itself is straight out of a Hollywood blockbuster. But it's kind of ok. First off this really is the sort of plot that you want to see on the big screen. Lots of special effects and explosions, that sort of stuff, and Hunsicker does a great job of putting the reader right in the midst of the action. Second, the story moves along at such a great pace that by the time you really start to consider how slick Sinclair is, how stereotypical the corrupt law enforcement folks are, and how cheesy Piper comes across (she came across cheesy to me, sorry) you're onto the next big action twist and you just don't care. Or at least I didn't.

The Contractors is fun. That's it. It's fun. I liked Jon Cantrell. And yeah, I kind of liked Piper as well. I REALLY loved the Texas setting as a whole. All caps, REALLY. I've driven these highways, I know these areas, my family is from there. It really brought The Contractors to another level for me as far as enjoyment. So yeah, you might think the book is a bit cliche, and yes it is somewhat predictable, but The Contractors is undoubtedly highly entertaining and pretty great escapist, action fiction (exactly what I needed this week).

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 Harry Hunsicker and his work, visit his website here. You can also like him on Facebook and follow him on Twitter.


Thursday, February 27, 2014

A Man Came Out of a Door in the Mountain by Adrianne Harun

Today is a short post as this was a weird one I still can't figure out how to sum up my thoughts on.

Leo Kreutzer and his friends know that Native girls have been going missing in their area for some time. But for these recently graduated young adults, it's a reality that hasn't quite touched them. Until now. A stranger has turned up at the local motel and another at the mining camp. What follows is twenty-four hours of havoc with Leo and his friends caught in the middle. 

A Man Came Out of a Door in the Mountain is a truly bizarre book! It kicks off with hints of mystery, magical realism, and folklore and soon dives into physics and poetry. I'm not kidding. There's really a lot going on in what is a fairly short little book. One thing that's present throughout, however, is Adrianne Harun's hypnotic style.

Leo, our narrator, is a fabulous character. He's of mixed European and Indian heritage and has a live in uncle who collects stories. And it's his uncle's stories that are interspersed between the main narrative. Stories of the devil and his companion and warnings about how to avoid them.

And at the heart of the book is a revenge plot, one that's prompted by the strangers and puts Leo's little group in grave danger.

I could say that I wish the book had a more straightforward narrative. I could also say that I wanted more of Leo's stories. I could even point out that there seemed to be pieces of the story missing as a whole. It's all true, but above all I only really wish that the book had been longer! Yes, it's odd and yes, it's really hard to describe, but overall it was completely enthralling.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

The Orphan Choir by Sophie Hannah

Louise Beeston is certain she's going mad. Mad over lack of sleep, that is! While she and her husband love their Victorian row house - and paid top dollar for it to boot - they hadn't counted on having the noisy neighbor from hell living next door. At least twice a month Justin Clay and his friends gather together in a karaoke-esque party that involves a repeated playlist of songs drunkenly belted along to by the entire group. And with the connecting walls that means that Louise and her husband Stuart can hear it all. Course it's Saturday night and both Louise and Stuart can allow some concessions if only Clay would agree to turn it down when they request. Sadly Clay sees Louise as nothing more than a nag and a bother and isn't inclined to do her any favors. In fact, he ups the ante by barraging Louise's bedroom with choral music.

Justin Clay knows that Louise's son has recently moved out. He's only seven but the prestigious Saviour College School insists their choir boys board. The combined stress of missing her son and days on end of insomnia have left Louise all but broken and the choral music is a cruel addition to the problem. And so the news about a new second home community nearby seems to be just the solution. But when Louise begins hearing the music again, in her new sanctuary far from Justin Clay, she starts to wonder if she really is losing her mind.

In theory this sounded like the perfect read for me. I've read Sophie Hannah before and enjoy her style (she's the author of the Simon Waterhouse and Charlie Zailer series). I love a good horror story, especially one that relies heavily on tone and emotion rather than gore (we all cringe at blood and guts but to elicit fear based on the building intensity of the story alone is awesome in horror). As you might expect, I did go into this latest from Hannah with fairly high expectations.

The Orphan Choir fell sadly short for me. I believe it's due in large part to the balance of the story itself. It read quickly enough - I was 100 pages in before I looked up and realized how long I'd been reading straight. Unfortunately the bulk of that first chunk of reading was spent on the loud neighbor. I didn't like Louise all that much but she did have some redeeming qualities and setting the scene for her looming breakdown in order to express her need to truly get away was obviously what Hannah was aiming for. It felt like overkill, though.

By the time the story begins to move beyond that I was almost halfway through and wondering how in the world the story could possibly wrap up in that short a period of time. It does. Wrap up that is. But there wasn't enough time spent building the overall suspense. The beginning of the book was overly weighted down with the neighbor complaint and the end came much too quickly for my taste.

Rating: 3/5

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

After I'm Gone by Laura Lippman

Good morning, everyone! Today I'm excited to be part of the TLC book tour for Laura Lippman's latest stand alone, After I'm Gone.

In 1976, Felix Brewer fled the country to avoid prison time. He left behind a wife, three kids, and a mistress, Julie Saxony. When he left, with Julie's help, he set her up with one of his businesses. He also left cash and instructions for his family - but they never received them. The Brewer family struggled for years after Felix's disappearance and more than one of the Brewer women laid the blame on Julie. 

Almost ten years to the day after Felix's disappearance, Julie Saxony was reported missing. Then in 2001 Julie's body was discovered. Everyone thought she'd been with Felix all along. Everyone except her killer. Her case was never solved and never closed but in 2012, retired detective Roberto "Sandy" Sanchez reopens the case.

After I'm Gone is split into two timelines - the past, and the investigation in 2012. The past chapters begin with Felix's leaving but then actually go back to his meeting Bambi Brewer in 1959. Through those chapters we learn about their relationship, their family, and how Felix's business, habits, and fleeing affected and continues to influence everyone around him.

And while it's the Brewer family's story that really drives the mystery, Sandy Sanchez is not left out. Here we have a retired detective who spends his time working as a consultant investigating cold cases. He's widowed and we discover that he's an immigrant who once upon a time tried his hand at being a restauranteur, which provides a surprising little connection to Lippman's famous series lead, Tess Monaghan.

I've been a fan of Lippman's work for quite some time now and I'm always completely in awe of her talent. She has this ability to draw readers in with such ease - or at least what seems like ease. I find it's pretty impossible to start one of her books and not read straight through, or as close to as day to day life might allow. And it's a good thing that I started After I'm Gone on a Saturday considering it was no exception. I was consumed by the story, sucked in from page one! And yes, mystery/thriller fans, Lippman has an almost perfect ability to keep readers guessing until the very end. She does feed us crumbs along the way but there is always plenty left to be revealed as the story progresses. I don't know if I've teased out the real whodunit or why early on in any of her books so far.

Rating: 5/5

To see what others on the tour thought, be sure to check out the official TLC tour page here.

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


Monday, February 24, 2014

Grave by Joan Frances Turner

So it seems I was able to get to some more "women in horror" titles this month after all! I did a bit of a binge read over the weekend and knocked out two more titles from the TBR including this latest by Joan Frances Turner.

This third and final installment in Joan Frances Turner's Resurgam Trilogy brings together the characters from both Dust and Frail. Jessie, Linc, and Renee are still living in their cabin community in the woods and reluctant to have any dealings with the hoos. Their hand is forced, however, when Jessie's sister, Lisa, returns with a group of them in tow. Amy and her hellhound, Nick, Lucy, Stephen, Lisa, and Naomi narrowly escaped the research facility Natalie called home. They've been on the run ever since constantly looking over their shoulder in the knowledge that Death or the creepy Scissor Man might be on their trail. It seems Death is unhappy about the current state of things - you know, no one really dying - and is ready do something about it. 

As much as I'd been looking forward to this wrap up of the trilogy and the meeting of all the characters in question, I found that the long passage of time between the second book and this installment was a bit of a detriment to my reading.

I'd read Dust and Frail almost back to back in 2011 and - as is often the case - didn't have a chance to squeeze in a re read before Grave, the release of which did come as a bit of a surprise with my only finding out about it in December or so.

There is nothing wrong with Grave and given my enjoyment of both Dust and Frail I do highly recommend the trilogy as a whole to fans of zombie fiction, especially fans of zombie fiction with a unique twist. Given the chance I would love to go back and re read the first two books so that I can experience the trilogy together. I feel the time lapse sadly left me disconnected from the characters as a whole and unable to regain any semblance of that connection in spite of my desperately trying to do so.

Rating: 3/5

Things Withered by Susie Moloney

It's Women in Horror Month! So far the only horror I've been able to squeeze in is Susie Moloney's collection Things Withered, which was released in December by ChiZine. Honestly, though, if it's the only horror I get in in February at least it was the good stuff!

Having read Moloney's The Thirteen, it probably shouldn't have come as a surprise that her collection is  fairly suburban focused. These tales make you wonder how well you know your neighbors, your friends, and even your family. Even knowing that, you'll find Moloney is particularly adept at surprising you - just when you think you know what to expect, she's guaranteed to turn the story on its head.

In "The Windemere" a realtor makes a startling discovery about her new neighbors. In "Wife" a woman tries desperately to hide her true nature from her husband. For a mother and her son, a weekend outing becomes deadly in "Petty Zoo." One man drives himself mad with fear of death in "Poor David, or, The Possibility of Coincidence in Situations of Multiple Occurrences." And anyone whose experienced it will sympathize with the poor girl in "The Audit."

With these tales and more, Moloney explores the ultimate fears and potential darkness that live behind closed doors - or even within us all!

A few of my personal favorites include:

"The Windemere," is the perfect start to the collection, setting an overall excellent tone. But it's the end of this story that really proved to be the so called cherry on top.

"The Last Living Summer," a little glimpse of the end of the world maybe?

"Reclamation on the Forest Floor," a dark gem of a tale that takes friendly rivalry to the next level.

"The Neighborhood, or, To the Devil With You," because evil isn't always what you expect it to be.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

New releases 2/25/14

Some of the new titles hitting shelves this week are:

The Stolen Ones by Richard Montanari

We Are Here by Michael Marshall

The Troop by Nick Cutter

The Headmaster's Wife by Thomas Christopher

When Shadows Fall by J.T. Ellison

The Undead Pool by Kim Harrison

Stalk Me by Richard Parker

The Book of the Crowman by Joseph D'Lacey

House of Glass by Sophie LIttlefield

A Taste for Murder by Dixie Lyle

Three Souls by Janie Chang

Tyringham Park by Rosemary McLoughlin

Blackberry Pie Murder by Joanne Fluke

The Clockwork Wolf by Lynn Viehl

City of Jasmine by Deanna Raybourn

The Red Road by Denise Mina

The Chase by Janet Evanovich & Lee Goldberg

A Killing of Angels by Kate Rodes

A Man Came Out of a Door in the Mountain by Adrienne Harun

Honor's Knight by Rachel Bach

The Wives of Los Alamos by TaraShea Nesbit

Unforgotten by Jessica Brody

Tin Star by Cecil Castellucci

White Hot Kiss by Jennifer L. Armentrout

Grim ed by Christine Johnson

Killer Frost by Jennifer Estep

New on DVD:
Thor: The Dark World
Gravity

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Pre Pub Book Buzz: The Revolutions by Felix Gilman

This week the book I can't wait to get my grubby little hands on is Felix Gilman's The Revolutions! I so very much enjoyed Gilman's last release, The Rise of Ransom City (companion to The Half Made World) that of course I must have his new book now. And it does sound fantastic!

Here's a bit about it from Goodreads:

In 1893 a storm sweeps through London, while Arthur Shaw—a young astronomer with a side career writing fiction—is at work in British Museum Reading Room. The storm wreaks unprecedented damage throughout London. Its aftermath of the storm Arthur’s prime literary market closes, owing him money, and all his debts come due at once. His fiance Jo takes a job as a stenographer for some of the fashionable spiritualist and occult societies of fin de siècle London society. Meanwhile, Arthur deciphers an encoded newspaper ad seeking able young men. It seems to be a clerking job doing accounting work, but the mysterious head man Mr. Gacewell offers Arthur a starting position at a salary many times what any clerk could expect. The work is long and peculiar, and the men spend all day performing unnerving calculations that make them hallucinate or even go mad...but the salary is compelling.

Things are beginning to look up when the wages of dabbling in the esoteric suddenly come due: a war breaks out between competing magical societies, and Arthur interrupts Jo in the middle of an elaborate occult exploration. This rash move turns out to be dire, as Jo’s consciousness is stranded at the outer limits of the occultists’ psychic day trip. Which, Arthur is chagrinned…

And I so adore that cover! The Revolutions is due out from Tor on April 1. 

Friday, February 21, 2014

Girl on the Golden Coin by Marci Jefferson + a Giveaway

Hi, readers! Today I'm pleased to be part of the blog tour for Marci Jefferson's debut, Girl on the Golden Coin. And thanks to the publisher I'm able to offer up a giveaway copy to one lucky winner - be sure to read to the end to enter.

In turning down France's Kind Louis XIV, Frances Stuart unwittingly became a pawn in political scheming and manipulation. If he couldn't have her as his lover, then Louis XIV would have her as his ambassador in England. Frances is to seduce Charles II in order to depose his current mistress and become the woman behind the throne, influencing his decisions in favor of France as well as his own mother, who hopes that the king will bring England back to the Catholic faith. But Frances was never meant to actually love the king. 

Whew! I think as more and more historical fiction set around the English monarchy is released - beyond King Henry VIII, that is - I've come to realize that I know next to nothing about any of them other than King Henry VIII! I'm gleaning bits and pieces along the way, though.

Marci Jefferson's debut focuses on Frances Stuart in the years after her cousin, Charles II, was restored to the throne - her part of the story from 1661 to 1688 to be exact. When we first meet her, she is looking back on her life, about to begin telling her story to her niece, Anne. We jump to 1661 when her cousin, sister to Charles II, is set to be married off to France's Louis XIV's younger brother. The cousins, Frances and Henriette Anne, are best friends until the king himself comes between them. But the young Frances longs to be true to her cousin and refuses the king's advances in spite of becoming a bit infatuated with him.

Unfortunately for Frances the combination of having spurned such a powerful man, angering her cousin, and the dawning realization that her family possesses at least one secret that should never be revealed to the court means that she is mercy to the whims and fancies of the two royal families - France and England. And the real issue for Frances is balancing the wishes of those whose favor she needs as well as her own family (which are at times at odds with one another), avoiding almost unavoidable scandal, and staying true to herself at the same time. It must have been exhausting to be her!

Jefferson's tale is definitely not dry or boring. This historical fiction is chock full of political machinations and debauchery! It doesn't help that history shows both Charles II and Louis XIV to be rampant womanizers. (Wait, that seems to be most of the kings as a whole.) And the Frances that's brought to life here is warm and charming as well as clever. Fans of historical fiction should take note as I hope this is the first of many such titles we'll see from Jefferson.

Rating: 4/5

And now for the giveaway. To enter just fill out the Rafflecopter below before Monday, March 10. US only and no PO Boxes please.


a Rafflecopter giveaway


For more on Marci and the book as well as guest posts and additional chances to win a copy be sure to visit the rest of the tour:
1/29 – giveaway, Devourer of Books: http://www.devourerofbooks.com/
1/31 – interview/giveaway, Literary, etc: http://literaryetc.com/
2/1 – review, A Bookish Libraria: http://abookishlibraria.blogspot.com/
2/3 – review, The Bookish Owl: http://thebookishowl.wordpress.com/
2/4 – review/giveaway, Writing the Renaissance: http://writingren.blogspot.com/
2/5 – interview, Writing the Renaissance: http://writingren.blogspot.com/
2/6 – interview, Between the Sheets/Heather Webb: http://www.heatherwebbauthor.com/category/blog/
2/7 – interview, Spann of Time: http://www.susanspann.com/
2/8 – review/giveaway, Passages to the Past: http://www.passagestothepast.com/
2/9 – review, Royal Reviews: http://theroyalreviews.blogspot.com/
2/10 – Picture This, SheReads: http://www.shereads.org/
2/10 – review/giveaway, The Lit Bitch: http://thelitbitch.com/
2/11 – review, Reading the Past: http://readingthepast.blogspot.com/
2/11 – interview/on-sale announcement, Enchanted by Josephine: http://enchantedbyjosephine.blogspot.com/
2/11 – Three Favorite Things, USA TODAY’S Happy Ever After: http://www.usatoday.com/blog/happyeverafter/
2/12 – review/giveaway, Enchanted by Josephine: http://enchantedbyjosephine.blogspot.com/
2/12 – review, Muse/Erika Robuck: http://www.erikarobuck.com/Blog.html
2/13 – review, Unabridged Chick: http://unabridged-expression.blogspot.com/
2/13 – interview/giveaway/excerpt, Harlequin Junkie: http://harlequinjunkie.com/
2/14 – interview, Unabridged Chick: http://unabridged-expression.blogspot.com/
2/15 – review, Historical Fiction Obsession: http://historicalfictionobsession.blogspot.com/
2/16 – review, Lesa’s Book Critiques: http://lesasbookcritiques.blogspot.com/
2/17 – review/interview, A Bookish Affair: http://abookishaffair.blogspot.com/
2/18 – review, Let Them Read Books: http://letthemreadbooks.blogspot.com/
2/19 – interview, Let Them Read Books: http://letthemreadbooks.blogspot.com/
2/20 – review/giveaway, The Maiden’s Court: http://themaidenscourt.blogspot.com/
2/21 – review/giveaway, No More Grumpy Bookseller: http://nomoregrumpybookseller.blogspot.com/

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Guest Post by Anne Leonard + a Giveaway

Good morning, everyone! Today I am super excited to welcome Anne Leonard to the blog. Anne's debut, Moth and Spark, officially hits shelves today but has already started to garner fabulous praise. Library Journal compared it to Juliet Marillier's works, saying "Fantasy fans who enjoy books with a hefty dose of romance, such as Juliet Marillier’s Seven Waters series, will want to give this one a try."

Here's a bit about the book from Goodreads to pique your interest:

A prince with a quest. A commoner with mysterious powers. And dragons that demand to be freed—at any cost.

Prince Corin has been chosen to free the dragons from their bondage to the Empire, but dragons aren’t big on directions. They have given him some of their power, but none of their knowledge. No one, not the dragons nor their riders, is even sure what keeps the dragons in the Empire’s control. 

Tam, sensible daughter of a well-respected doctor, had no idea before she arrived in the capital that she is a Seer, gifted with visions. When the two run into each other (quite literally) in the library, sparks fly and Corin impulsively asks Tam to dinner. But it’s not all happily ever after. Never mind that the prince isn’t allowed to marry a commoner: war is coming to Caithen. 

Torn between Corin’s quest to free the dragons and his duty to his country, the lovers must both figure out how to master their powers in order to save Caithen. With a little help from a village of secret wizards and a rogue dragonrider, they just might pull it off.

I'm going to hand the reigns over to Anne in just a moment but first I want to remind you that there is a giveaway at the end of the post. Be sure to read through to the end to enter.

And now, over to Anne!


Dangerous Boyfriends 

I’ve just read three spec fic novels in a row where the narrator, a young woman who has had some death and suffering in her life, hooks up with a powerful older male (in two of the books, he’s not even human). She hates him or fears him but as she spends time with him her sexual attraction to him becomes a lot stronger. One of these books is YA fantasy, one is YA sci-fi, and one is adult fantasy. All three books are written by women and came highly recommended by intelligent people. The relationships of the protagonist with the males diverge as the plots diverge, but what I’m interested in talking about here is the beginning trope: sexual attraction of a young woman to a dangerous and powerful male. 

This is not an uncommon plot, nor is it a new one. 

But I’m getting a little tired of it. 

Can’t we move on to more complicated relationships? To young women who really do love the plain ordinary guy, know this, and are exceedingly careful around the powerful man? Does every dangerous man have to become an object of attraction? If men wrote fiction like this, it might well be called sexist male fantasizing. If the roles were reversed and the young boy was attracted to the powerful older woman, the book might be criticised as containing sterotypical femme fatales and objectifying women.

Now, admittedly characters who play it safe and stay home don’t tend to have the adventures people want to read about. And sexual tension drives an awful lot of narratives. But sexual tension doesn’t have to involve danger or huge power imbalances. Conflicts between male and female don’t have to be sexual in nature. And not all young people are reckless and hormone-driven. 

There are plenty of solid narrative reasons that a powerful man would try to manipulate a younger woman sexually; sexuality is an area where people are very vulnerable. And power is sexy -- no one wants to date the wimp. But why doesn’t the girl ever think “Yuck!” Why doesn’t she call him out, at least internally, for being a creep? Can’t the tension be that she knows she loves her absent best-friend-who-is-in-love-with-her and she’s trying to hide that from this man who has control over her? Or she’s smart enough to see what’s going on and tries to play it to her advantage? I would like to see more fiction avoid taking the well-trodden path of the girl having the dangerous boyfriend and experiment with other ways she can respond to being dominated. 

Related to the dangerous boyfriend is the lack of the healthy relationship. One of the things that I’m seeing a lot in the positive comments about MOTH AND SPARK is the word “partnership.” Lovers who care for each other and help each other appear to be quite rare in fiction, and a lot of readers seem ready to read about relationships which are equal and collaborative. Loving relationships can have quite a lot of tension: people disagree about hard decisions, feel underappreciated, worry that their partner is making a mistake, feel guilty for letting their partner down, and so on. And it can even be epic: what do you choose if saving the world requires letting your lover die? A writer doesn’t have to have a love triangle or even a lovesick boy hoping his best friend will notice him to have tension. 

Let’s have powerful and dangerous men in our books by all means. They’re fun. But let’s also have young women who are clear-sighted enough to know that falling for someone dangerous is dangerous and who don’t waffle about, confused. Let’s have more heroines with spines and brains in addition to hearts and hormones. And let’s see some more examples of love as a relationship among equals, not a perpetual battlefield.

Anne Leonard lives in Northern California. She has degrees from St. John’s College, the University of Pittsburgh, Kent State University, and University of California-Hastings College of Law. Leonard began MOTH AND SPARK while attending the University of California-Hastings College of Law (where she graduated cum laude) eking out a few hours on weekends or a half hour on the bus, or wherever she had the chance. After 3 years, she had a draft, but ultimately decided to practice law first. At last readers will be introduced to the deadly harsh steppe lands of Sarian, to the white-barked tree-lined streets of Caithenor.

For more on Anne be sure to check out her official website here. You can also like her on Facebook and follow her on Twitter.

Huge, huge thanks to Anne and the publisher for today's post. And now for the giveaway!

Thanks to the publisher I'm able to offer up one copy of Moth and Spark here on the blog. The giveaway is open US only and no PO boxes please. To enter just fill out the Rafflecopter below before Monday, March 10. Good luck!


a Rafflecopter giveaway


Tuesday, February 18, 2014

The Taste of Apple Seeds by Katharina Hagena

Good morning, readers! Today I'm a stop on the TLC book tour for Katharina Hagena's The Taste of Apple Seeds.

Iris and her aunts have returned to Bootshaven for the family matriarch's funeral. Bertha hadn't been well for quite some time. Her memories had been an issue since she fell from a tree while picking apples. Eventually it grew so bad that her daughters agreed she'd have to be put in a home to live out her last years. And now it's happened. Bertha has died. Her land, stocks and shares, and money are divided between her daughters. Her house, though, goes to Iris, the only remaining grandchild. But Iris isn't sure she wants the house. For one thing, she has her own life to live. A life that isn't in Bootshaven. But more than that it's the memories the house holds. Sad memories left from many generations. 

Katharina Hagena has an undeniably gorgeous way of writing. Even in translation, the elegance and beauty of her style and the imagery evoked by her choice of words is wonderful. The touch of magical realism adds yet another layer to the beauty of the book as a whole with fruit trees that mourn their owners, an aunt with an electric touch, and jams made of tears.

The Taste of Apple Seeds is about many things: family history, sisters, mothers and daughters, fathers and daughters, lovers... but ultimately it's a book about memories and stories. The stories we hear and the way we remember them. The stories we tell and the way we tell them.

Iris's family is full of stories, some that have been told over and over and over, others that have been held close, and pieces of tales left out or changed for one reason or another. And it's while she's in her grandmother's home that Iris has to face some of these stories and the secrets and truths behind them.

The book unfolds in a rather lovely way, but also a kind of frustrating way with the narrative circling around and around a revelation, breaking away frequently on seemingly mad tangents. Truthfully, though, I soon came to realize that that's almost always the way a story is told by one person to another. It requires a bit more patience - the book is seemingly short but makes for an unexpectedly dense read.

The Taste of Apple Seeds is the perfect read for a lazy afternoon. It reminded me just a bit of Joanne Harris.

Rating: 4/5

To see what others on the tour thought be sure to check out the official TLC tour page here.


Sunday, February 16, 2014

New releases 2/18/14

Some of the new titles hitting shelves this week are:

Dead Water by Ann Cleeves

A Burnable Book by Bruce Holsinger

Deep Winter by Samuel W. Gailey

Moth and Spark by Anne Leonard

Influx by Daniel Suarez

While Beauty Slept by Elizabeth Blackwell

Coincidence by J. W. Ironmonger

Reflected by Rhiannon Held

Runner by Patrick Lee

Brotherhood of Fear by Paul Grossman

Moving Target by J.A. Jance

Perfect Lies by Kiersten White

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Pre Pub Book Buzz: The Fever by Megan Abbott

I came across this week's pre pub book buzz pick trolling the "people who liked this also liked" recommendations online. It's a nice little connect the dots I use to add to my must have list (as if it isn't overflowing already) starting with books I really enjoy and following the lists down the rabbit hole!

Megan Abbott scares me, guys. She really does. I like dark, but Abbott manages to go to places that are skin crawling! Her upcoming release, The Fever, sounds all kinds of brilliant especially when I imagine what she can do with it.

Here's a bit about the book from Goodreads:

The Nash family is close-knit. Tom is a popular teacher, father of two teens: Eli, a hocky star and girl magnet, and his sister Deenie, a diligent student. Their seeming stability, however, is thrown into chaos when Deenie's best friend is struck by a terrifying, unexplained seizure in class. Rumors of a hazardous outbreak spread through the family, school and community.

As hysteria and contagion swell, a series of tightly held secrets emerges, threatening to unravel friendships, families and the town's fragile idea of security.

The Fever is due out June 17 from Little, Brown and Company.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Wicked Valentine's Read-a-Thon update

Hello, all! A Wicked Valentine's Read-a-Thon update here. (I posted my first update to the intro Read-a-Thon post but decided to do an actual update post today.)


So the Read-a-Thon is ongoing through Monday, which means I have more time but it also means that I needed to add to my list! Here was my starting list:

This Dark Road to Mercy by Wiley Cash
Fates by Lanie Bross
Fire by Sara B. Elfgren and Mats Strandberg
The Taste of Apple Seeds by Katharina Hagena
White Space by Ilsa J. Bick

And after finishing White Space on the 9th, I got rolling pretty good (White Space and Fire were both doorstoppers so I did expect them to take a bit longer). Here's where I am as of today:

2/14 Update -
This Dark Road to Mercy completed (232 pages)
Fates completed (366 pages)
Fire completed (692 pages)

Which means that all I have left from the list is The Taste of Apple Seeds, possibly the shortest title there! Unfortunately like its predecessor Fire left me with a massive book hangover. Urgh. And so this called not only for desperate measures (a potential book slump to avert as well as bulking up the list to get me through the weekend). Sadly my first potential add on is so far a DNF so I will not mention that title here, but here are the others:

Things Withered by Susie Moloney (shorts) - 56/280 completed
Conquest by John Connolly and Jennifer Ridyard 

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

The Engelsfors Trilogy book II: Fire by Sara B. Elfgren & Mats Strandberg + a Giveaway

If you're a regular to the blog then you probably recall my fangirling all over the first book in the Engelsfors trilogy just last week. If you missed it, you can check it out here. Well, I am super excited to be posting about the second book today and I've got an exciting extra: winner's choice of either the new hardcover of Fire or, if you're new to the trilogy, the newly released paperback edition of The Circle. Your choice. To enter be sure to head to the Rafflecopter at the bottom of the post.

And now, if you are new to the trilogy, you probably want to just skip ahead to the giveaway as there are likely to be spoilers ahead!

It's the start of a new school year and the remaining Chosen Ones have an all new evil to face. But first they'll have to survive junior year. 

Nicolaus recovers his memories at last, only to abandon the girls just as the Council arrives for Anna-Karin's trial. As the girls rally behind her things start to fall apart at home for Vanessa and Minoo. Things aren't rosy for Linnéa or Ida either. Linnéa is facing trouble with her Social Services rep and Ida is finally reconsidering some of her... quirks. 

Meanwhile, the town of Engelsfors is undergoing something of a happy, yellow, Stepford like transformation and it's beginning to unsettle the girls. 

I'd mentioned in my review of The Circle that I'd come away from it with the biggest book hangover ever and it was so true. I was seriously dying to get back to the story and Fire was oh, so worthy of a follow up! Course now I have to wait for the US release of The Key but that's ok, I'm sure I can amuse myself in the meantime.

Readers, there is none of the sophomore slump here! Fire suffers none of the typical middle book tendencies. Nope, here you have another installment chock full of teen troubles, witchy issues, and magic. We finally get a little more of a glimpse at the Council as well as Matilda's story. And Ida! We get Ida's point of view - disturbing as that may be. And yes, we're also perfectly set up for the final installment of the trilogy.

Again I don't want to give too much away so I'll end by saying that I am going to be incredibly said to see this series end! I love these characters and I think Efgren and Strandberg have done a truly fantastic job capturing all the pain and awkwardness of being a teenager, while torturing their characters even more with the whole coming apocalypse thing!

Rating: 5/5

And now for the giveaway. To enter to win a copy of The Circle or Fire simply fill out the Rafflecopter below before Monday, February 24. US only please and good luck!


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Fates by Lanie Bross + a Giveaway

Ten years ago Corinthe did something forbidden amongst fates. She was banished from her world and sent to Humana as and Executor, responsible for helping along events in certain people's lives. Births, deaths, chance encounters... sometimes a person needs a little nudge to get them on the right path and it's Corinthe's job to ensure this happens. She's always longed to return to her own world and patiently awaits the time when the Unseen Ones will finally allow her to do so. When that day comes, though, Corinthe is faced with one last task that will cause her to question everything she knows. 

Lanie Bross's debut started off exactly as I'd expected it to - Corinthe and Luc have a chance encounter and both begin to ponder over the possibility of feelings for one another - but the story quickly took an unexpected turn.

What I thought would be an ill-fated love story was actually a quest featuring one uniquely drawn setting after another, each filled with creatures and characters I never saw coming. It made for a really nice surprise indeed and Bross's various worlds are wonderful, even if we only get to spend a very short period of time in them. In fact, I would love to return to these worlds and spend more time in them! The story as a whole felt rather rushed, though.

All in all, Fates is not a bad first outing. There are some quite redeemable qualities about the book - the premise is interesting, the twist on classical mythology is fun, and the worlds are intriguing - but I wanted more... more of everything. More time in the story, more character development, and more explanation. This is Bross's debut but she has at least two more titles in the works - one as Lee Bross, and (thankfully) a sequel to Fates - which means I should get my wish for more, more, more! I look forward to seeing what Bross does with the story.

Rating: 3/5

Thanks to the publisher, I am able to offer one of you your very own copy of Fates. To enter, simply fill out the Rafflecopter below before Monday, February 24.


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Tuesday, February 11, 2014

This Dark Road to Mercy by Wiley Cash

Morning, readers! Today I'm a stop on the TLC book tour for Wiley Cash's latest, This Dark Road to Mercy.

It's 1998 and baseball fans around the country wait with baited breath to see whether Mark McGwire or Sammy Sosa will kill the home run record previously set by Roger Maris. Easter has her heart set on it being Sosa, but the recently orphaned girl has more serious issues to deal with than just who will set the new record. In the months since the death of their mother, Easter and her sister, Ruby, have settled into a group home. Their only living grandparents are way up north in Alaska and their father relinquished parental rights three years earlier, which was also the last time Easter saw the man. But now Wade Chesterfield has returned and says he wants to do right by his kids. Unfortunately Wade has some quite unsavory folks looking for him, folks who won't hesitate to use his daughters to get to him.

Folks, Wiley Cash has done it once again. He's amazed me and blown me away with his latest, just as he did with his debut, A Land More Kind Than Home. Again we have a story concerning broken families and children literally on the brink of losing their innocence. Again we have a truly convincing child narrator as well as a cast of supporting characters and narrators that are both appealing and/or complex.

This time, though, we have a very different story and mystery. Where Land More Kind Than Home dealt in part with religious fanaticism, here we have a low level crime boss, a heist, a kidnapping, and baseball. This latest doesn't have the strong sense of place that Cash's previous book did, but the story and plot are just as well built and powerful.

I would challenge you as readers of just about any genre to pick up one of Cash's books and NOT get instantly swept away. He works magic with his writing!

To see more stops on the tour you can visit the official TLC tour page here.

For more on Wiley Cash and his books, be sure to check out his website here. You can also like him on Facebook and follow him on Twitter.


Monday, February 10, 2014

White Space: Book one of the Dark Passages by Ilsa J. Bick

Emma hadn't planned to go away for the holidays but after being accused of plagiarism, she needed to get away. She grabbs her friend Lily, rents a van, and heads out on the road. But a nasty snowstorm soon leaves them unable to see much of anything, a situation that's made worse with Emma has one of her blinks. 

Ever since she was a kid, Emma experiences what she calls blinks - fugue states that occur frequently and without warning. This time, she sees a girl and her family in a farmhouse arguing about monsters, dark passages, and white space. Before she knows it, Emma is slams back into the present and just moments away from hitting a snow mobile!

Eric and his brother Casey only narrowly miss getting hit by the careening van, but that doesn't mean everyone is out of the woods. The van slides through the guardrail and is just moments from going over when Rima and Tony arrive to try and help. And this isn't the worse danger the teens will face. No. This is just the beginning. 

Holy freaking head trip! White Space is crazy!

I had no idea what to expect going into this book. Other than noting it was being hailed as Memento meets Inception and that it was by Ilsa J. Bick, who I've heard excellent things about, that is. But that was enough for me. And I don't think any real description short of trying to give the whole thing away could even remotely prepare me for what was to come in the book.

This is the kind of book that's made for bookish horror fans. There's a crazy horror author, increasingly weird settings, and monsters as well as a plot so full of unexpected turns and switchbacks that it'll leave your head spinning before the end. And what an end it is! This is the first in a series so of course the end is all kinds of crazypants goodness and absolutely no resolution whatsoever. And yet, I have to say it's the kind of book I think is so insane that it works for just the right reader (me!).

White Space officially hits shelves tomorrow. If you don't like weird and trippy stories with twist after twist after twist, you probably won't like White Space. If, however, you do enjoy stories a la Memento and Inception (which only resemble Bick's latest in that they're trippy and full of twists), then you'll love White Space and I highly, highly recommend treating yourself to a copy as soon as you possibly can!

Rating: 5/5

Sunday, February 9, 2014

New Releases 2/11/14

Some of the new titles hitting shelves this week are:

Freedom Fries & Cafe Creme by Jocelyne Rapinac

The Martian by Andy Weir

Conquest by John Connolly & Jennifer Ridyard

The Winter People by Jennifer McMahon

After I'm Gone by Laura Lippman

Killer's Island by Anna Jansson

The Forever Girl by Alexander McCall Smith

Children of Paradise by Fred D'Aguiar

The Mist in the Mirror by Susan Hill

Wendell Black, MD by Gerald Imber

The Girl on the Golden Coin by Marci Jefferson

Wake by Anna Hope

Wild Cards III: Joker's Wild ed by George R. R. Martin (reissue)

Killer by Jonathan Kellerman

Where Monsters Dwell by Jorgen Brekke

The Widow's Guide to Sex and Dating by Carole Radziwill

The Good Luck of Right Now by Matthew Quick

Prayers for the Stolen by Jennifer Clement

She's Leaving Home by William Shaw

The Counterfeit Agent by Alex Berenson

The Waking Engine by David Edison

The Judge of Ages by John C. Wright

The Bear by Claire Cameron

Split Second by Kasie West

Three by Kristen Simmons

Grasshopper Jungle by Andrew Smith

The Glass Casket by McCormick Templeman

The Tyrant's Daughter by J.C. Carleson

New on DVD:
Austenland
Ender's Game
Haunted
Counselor
How I Live Now

Friday, February 7, 2014

Under the Wide and Starry Sky by Nancy Horan

Good morning, everyone! Today I'm a stop on the TLC book tour for Nancy Horan's latest, Under the Wide and Starry Sky.

Fanny has had it with her husband's other women! But for a married woman in the 1870s, there are few options for escape. And so Fanny packs up her three children and their belongings and heads to Europe where she hopes to provide her kids with education and worldiness. But tragedy strikes when Fanny's youngest takes ill and eventually passes away. She and the other children retreat to the French village of Grez-sur-Loing where she meets Robert Louis Stevenson. Of course Fanny isn't to know that this fateful meeting will lead to the love of a lifetime.

I was lucky enough to be able to attend last year's regional trade show and speak briefly with the Random House reps. They were raving about Horan's latest and so, when the opportunity to join the tour arose, I could not pass up the chance.

I've not read Horan's debut, Loving Frank, though I am aware of how popular it is with readers. That one focuses on Frank Lloyd Wright and his relationship with Mamah Borthwick Cheney (and the more I learn about Wright the more interested I am in that particular book). Horan tackles yet another real life couple in Under the Wide and Starry Sky with author Robert Louis Stevenson and his wife Fanny Van de Grift Stevenson.

There is a certain amount of trust that must be had between reader and author when it comes to a book based in history. I don't think I'm going out on a limb to say that many of Horan's readers will know little or nothing (as is the case with me) about this couple going into the book and so we have to rely on her word that what we're reading is based in fact.

As a reader, all I can judge on is the quality of the writing and the believability of the story. And I have to give Horan top marks in both categories! Through her prose and attention to detail, Horan not only captured my attention and held it through the entire story, but she made me believe that what I was reading was indeed the way it happened. Of course I know that even with primary source material no one can really know what Fanny and Louis (as he's referred to in the story) were truly thinking and feeling, but Horan's version is so warm and appealing that it doesn't matter. It's fiction based in fact. It's an attempt to bring to life a story about two people who existed and obviously loved one another very much (Fanny was with Stevenson through thick and thin, sickness and health). And it works.

Horan's picture of Fanny Van de Grift Stevenson is a formidable woman with a heart and soul, an interest in the arts and literature, but also a woman who set aside many of her own wants and needs to take care of others - first her husband Sam and then Louis, whose writing she supports and nurtures fully. And Horan's version of Louis is of a man who yearns to be great. Someone who wants to make his mark but also someone with an honest love for life and storytelling. Of course prior to this Stevenson was just a classic name in literature to me. The author of works such as Treasure Island, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, and Kidnapped. I knew nothing of his life, his relationships, his illnesses...

Under the Wide and Starry Sky is an appealing novel for many reasons, just one of which is the vibrancy that Horan brings to these characters and their relationship. It's a book that I so heartily enjoyed!

To see more stops on the tour be sure to check out the official TLC tour page here. For more on Nancy Horan and her work, you can visit her website here. You can also like her on Facebook.


 

Wicked Valentine's Read-a-Thon vol 2

Hi, all! This year I've signed on for My Shelf Confessions's Wicked Valentine's Read-a-Thon! The goal is simply to read as much as possible between today (Feb 7) and Feb 17. I feel like I've made good work of staying on top of the growing TBR but a read a thon is alway a welcome chance to tackle more!


Here are the books I'm hoping to get through during the read-a-thon:

This Dark Road to Mercy by Wiley Cash
Fates by Lanie Bross
Fire by Sara B. Elfgren and Mats Strandberg
The Taste of Apple Seeds by Katharina Hagena
White Space by Ilsa J. Bick

I'm actually pretty positive that I can finish most if not all of these. I may even be able to get to one or two more depending on how successful the weekends are! (Note, a couple of these are actually pretty short so it shouldn't be too bad even with Valentine's Day date night.)

2/10: Update -
White Space completed! (560 pages)
This Dark Road to Mercy 154/232 completed

Thursday, February 6, 2014

The Midnight Side by Natasha Mostert

I first discovered Natasha Mostert's work with the release of Season of the Witch in 2007. There are some books that I have distinct memories of discovering and this is one. We'd hit up the Boulder Bookstore after brunch and I was browsing through their new hardcovers on the bottom floor. I'd never heard of Mostert prior to coming across that one but the description was irresistible; I had to have the book. And I loved it! Adored it even! Mostert quickly became a new favorite of mine thanks to Season.

In my attempt to then acquire anything and everything she had written at the time, I did manage to track down used copies of Windwalker and The Midnight Side, though sadly I've never been able to find The Other Side of Silence.

Anywho, The Midnight Side has been sitting on my shelf for a while (I didn't find it right away) mainly because it's been out of print! I love to recommend stuff but I hate to send readers into the frenzy of used bookstore track downs. But now, now, The Midnight Side is back and I made it my latest 2014 TBR Tackle title as a result.

Yes, folks, Mostert has rereleased The Midnight Side, Windwalker, and Season of the Witch and I highly recommend ALL OF THEM!

When Isa learns that her cousin Alette has died, she is shocked and surprised - she'd only just heard from Alette. The connection was bad, but Isa is certain she didn't imagine the phone call. But Isa is told that Alette died days prior to Isa's receiving the call. She flies to London for the reading of the will and finds that Alette had an odd last request. Alette says her ex husband ruined her life and now she wants revenge. A series of letters outlines what Isa is tasked with, but she isn't so certain of Alette's instructions. To act means ruining someone else's life but not to act would mean a betrayal of Isa's closest friend and relative. The cousins share a strong bond, though, one that cannot be broken by death alone and whenever Isa falters, Alette is there to push her along.

Mysticism plays a huge role in each of Mostert's books and here we have not only phone calls from the dead (Mostert's note on Thomas Edison's attempts to build a phone to call the dead was a particularly awesome piece of previously unknown to me history!) but we also have lucid dreaming and just a touch of Zulu mythology as well. Throw in an obsessive stalker and a murder mystery and you have a real win with The Midnight Side.

Every one of Mostert's books contains this creepy, gothic undertone with a wonderfully supporting atmosphere. She really takes the time and effort to build suspense through imagery and by building a quiet dread, which makes each of her books creepier than some of the most graphic horror. Here especially, with the chapters from the villain's perspective - cause you're always left wondering who it might be - knowing that Isa is being watched constantly and trying to use the clues given to figure out where the danger really lies, just ratchets up the suspense further in The Midnight Side.

Rating: 5/5


Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge

Nyx Triskelion was raised with the knowledge that she was to be married off to the Gentle Lord. The result of a bargain made between her father and the demon before her birth, the marriage is meant not only as payment for the trade but as a way for the people of Arcadia to finally bring down the being that has ruled over them for nine hundred years. Trained in the Hermetic arts, Nyx is to defeat the beast even if it means her own death. But Nyx's training didn't prepare her for the worst possibility of all - falling in love with her new husband. 

Ooh, I get tingles just reminiscing about this book to put together my review! Rosamund Hodge's debut is quite possibly one of a small list of extremely highly anticipated 2014 releases. As such, I was hopeful that it would live up to expectations but understandably prepared in the event that it didn't. Thankfully my fears were not realized as Cruel Beauty not only lives up to but far, far exceeds every expectation I had for it.

I was enchanted by the idea of a play on Beauty and the Beast but unprepared for the brilliance of Hodge's interpretation. She's blended not only the classic tale but added in Roman/Greek mythology as well. The legend of Pandora plays a big role in the story - a fabulous role actually. There's even a bit of the Bluebeard legend here as well and likely a slew of others I missed references to.

The imagery in Cruel Beauty, which Hodge points out has a basis in T. S. Eliot's Four Quarters (which I need to read now), is amazing! It's both beautiful and horrible, which is an apt way to describe Ignifex's house as well as the world in which Arcadia is trapped.

Readers, I can find no complaint with this book except that it had to end.

Imagery and mythology aside, Nyx has got to be one of my favorite new characters to be introduced to. She's a complex one to be sure, a girl who has fostered such a deep hatred for her life and her family that she in some ways feels she's deserving of her fate. And yet she finds the strength to meet her challenges head on.

Cruel Beauty is such an accomplished debut that I can't wait to see what Hodge might have up her sleeve next. Highly, highly recommended and another favorite of 2014!

Rating: 5/5


Tuesday, February 4, 2014

The Wedding Bees by Sarah-Kate Lynch

Good morning, good morning, everyone! Today I'm a stop on the TLC book tour for Sarah-Kate Lynch's The Wedding Bees.

Sugar Wallace has just arrived in New York City. It's the latest in a long string of cities she's lived in - a new one every year to be exact. She's got her bees and her health and that's all she needs. And she's got  her friends, a trail of them left behind every time she moves. There's no doubt about it, Sugar makes her mark wherever she goes. But when Sugar meets Theo she'll finally have to face up to what she's been running from all this time. Yep, Sugar's wandering for a reason, one that moving on from town to town allows her to avoid until now. 

When I started The Wedding Bees I realized that it might in fact be a little too heavy on the cute and sweet side for me. Sugar injects herself in everyone's lives by being... sweet. She's observant and usually has some form of honey product that can heal whatever ails those around her.

Her fellow apartment dwellers are a motley bunch: Nate the chef, who no one ever sees; old Mrs. Keschl and Mr. McNally, neighbors who have an axe to grind; young Ruby, who secretly fantasizes about romance; and Lola and her young son, Ethan. Each of them seems to need Sugar's help in some way. Getting to know them and their stories was fun, as was getting to know Sugar, Theo, and George. Again, though, Sugar just came across a bit too saccharine for my taste, even after we learn why she's been "on the run" so to speak.

I did like the beekeeping aspect and - strange as it sounds - the queen bee's perspective on things. This gave the book a little extra something to make it stand out a bit for me.

All in all, The Wedding Bees is a delight but maybe one that I needed to be in just the right mood for it to be a perfect fit.

Rating: 3.5/5

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

You can find Sarah-Kate Lynch on the web here and you can also like her on Facebook.


Top Ten Tuesday: Books That Will Make You Cry

I've decided to jump on board with Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week the topic is: books that will make you cry.


Hm, I don't know that I read an awful lot of books that make me cry! Not that I avoid them, but this might be a toughie for me. 

1. P.S. I Love You by Cecelia Ahern - so much better than the movie! I adored this book and definitely cried more than once!

2. Nowhere But Home by Liza Palmer - one thing I love about Palmer's work is that she manages to keep her books rather lighthearted in spite of tough subject matter. This was no exception but I did likely tear up a little while reading.

3. Forgotten by Catherine McKenzie - oh, yes. This one did make me cry. Like Palmer, though, McKenzie does keep it pretty light throughout all of her books. She's a definite favorite of mine.

4. The Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker - I cried when this book ended. I did. I admit it.

5. What You Wish For by Kerry Reichs - and yes, another lighter read but I loved the characters and their stories. This one is a bit of a heart wrenching subject even for a Grinch like me (when it comes to kids).

6. Prey by Rachel Vincent - at least I think this is the one. The one where Rachel Vincent ripped my heart out and killed one of my favorite characters!

7. The entire Harry Potter series - so many characters die in this series I can't even pick one for the list. Yeah, many of the installments made me an ugly mess.

That's it. That's all I've got. I'm sure there were others - in fact I know they are. Freaking Hallmark commercial can make me weep! I apparently just don't admit it in my reviews and wipe it from my memory after finishing a book! 

Monday, February 3, 2014

We by Michael Landweber

Morning, readers! Today I'm a stop on the TLC book tour for Michael Landweber's We.

Ben - Benedict - has decided to tackle the stain on the ceiling but after the initial satisfaction of finally attempting to clean said stain, he takes a nasty fall. He's hospitalized and when he wakes up he sees something very strange: a drawing he made of his family when he was a young boy. In fact, the drawing is hanging on a refrigerator in a kitchen he also remembers from his childhood. Ben soon realizes that he is not in control; he is seemingly inside the head of his seven-year-old self. But he'd rather be anywhere in his own life than the year he was seven. The year tragedy struck his family. And what's worse, Ben discovers that this tragedy is only three days away. 

Imagine if you will that you have a chance to change something in your past. But, in order to do so you have to convince a younger version of yourself how. This is essentially the premise of We, an interesting twist on the sort of "what if" story.

The best part of Michael Landweber's tale is the way he builds and differentiates between Ben and Binky. They are one and the same, simply from different ages, but they are also two very different characters: Ben has lived over four decades and has the experience and knowledge that comes with that life while Binky is an innocent and naive seven-year-old. Their interaction is what moves the book along and seeing how Ben will approach the challenge he's facing - helping his sister while he's essentially just a voice able to see through the eyes of Binky - makes for an intriguing story as well as one that showcases Landweber's obvious talents as a writer.

We is fairly short and makes for a fast read, which is fortunate as I'd started it just at bedtime. It still didn't keep me from being up pretty late absorbed in the story!

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

For more on Michael Landweber, you can visit his website here. You can also like him on Facebook and follow him on Twitter.


Sunday, February 2, 2014

New Releases 2/4/14

Some of the new titles hitting shelves this week are:

Burn by Julianna Baggott

Archetype by M.D. Waters

Broken Homes by Ben Aaronovitch

Annihilation by Jeff VanderMeer

Doing Harm by Kelly Parsons

Under Your Skin by Sabine Durant

The Swan Gondola by Timothy Schaffert

The Free by Willy Vlautin

The Secret of Raven Point by Jennifer Vanderbes

By Blood We Live by Glen Duncan

The Flight of the Silvers by Daniel Price

The Taste of Apple Seeds by Katharina Hagena

The Deepest Secret by Carla Buckley

Twisted Sisters by Jen Lancaster

Bubble by Anders de la Motte

The Sun and Other Stars by Brigid Pasulka

The Panda Theory by Pascal Garnier

Dreamwalker by C. S. Friedman

Red Devil 4 by Eric C. Leuthardt

I Always Loved You by Robin Oliveira

The Girl With a Clock for a Heart by Peter Swanson

Who Thinks Evil by Michael Kurland

Etched on Me by Jenn Crowell

Cress by Marissa Meyer

The Collection by Shannon Stoker

Ignite Me by Tahereh Mafi

The Selection Stories by Kiera Cass

New on DVD:
About Time
Escape
A Case of You
Dallas Buyers Club

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Pre Pub Book Buzz: Season to Taste by Natalie Young

Ooh, today's Pre Pub book buzz pick is one that I am SUPER STOKED about. Yes, I have a twisted soul. Natalie Young's debut is already gaining traction in the UK and is due out here in the States on July 15. I came across it in an article from The Telegraph on the supposed "chick noir" trend. Not sure about the "title" but I definitely enjoy this dark trend in books of late and the article resulted in the addition of both Season to Taste and Before We Met to the must have list (You Should Have Known was already there and I've already read both Gone Girl and The Silent Wife.)

Anyway, here's a bit about Season to Taste by Natalie Young from Goodreads:

Lizzie Prain lives a quiet life in a cottage in Surrey. She likes to cook. She loves her dog. And she has been married to Jacob for far too long.

Jacob has not been seen for a few days. That's because Lizzie snapped last Monday and killed him. Over the course of the following month, with no other option at hand and no income, Lizzie will use her best skill--cooking--to dispose of Jacob. When she finds unexpected kinship with an isolated misfit, she will be tested: Will Lizzie confess or will her new friend be an unwitting accessory to her crime?

And you know what? For what might be the first time ever I actually much prefer the US cover over the UK. It makes me giggle!