Monday, March 31, 2014

The Girl in the Green Raincoat by Laura Lippman

The end of March sort of crept up on me! It's been a busy, busy reading month but I'm really trying to get some older stuff in the TBR read as well with my TBR Tackle challenge. With time quickly running out and no real gaps in the review schedule this meant that my March pick had to be either something short and sweet or a guaranteed quick read. Having recently finished Laura Lippman's After I'm Gone, it really wasn't a surprise to me that her novella The Girl in the Green Raincoat caught my attention from the shelves. (After I'm Gone has a small guest appearance from Crow and his daughter, after all.)

With just two months to go in her pregnancy, Tess Monaghan finds herself on ordered bed rest. To fill her days she's got a stack of movies and a stack of books to keep her occupied but for the bedridden PI the view out of her window proves to be more enticing. A girl in a green raincoat walking an Italian greyhound, adorned in matching green, catches her attention, appearing day after day walking the dog through the nearby park. But then one afternoon the dog appears sans owner and Tess takes it upon herself to investigate.  

It's Rear Window Laura Lippman style and super fun. Tess uses her investigative skills along with the technology at her fingertips but also relies on the help of those around her (considering she's confined to one room). And of course she begins to uncover a potentially grand murder plot, one that begins years before with the missing woman's husband and his first wife!

The Girl in the Green Raincoat is technically #11 in the Tess Monaghan Series but readers who may be curious about the investigator and her family after meeting Crow in After I'm Gone would have no problem diving in with Girl. (The Girl in the Green Raincoat was earlier printed as a serial in the New York Times. You can check out an excerpt here.)

I have heard that Lippman is working on another Tess Monaghan title so there's plenty of catch up time for anyone who may want to start from the beginning. Here's the series list in order:

Baltimore Blues
Charm City
Butchers Hill
In Big Trouble
The Sugar House
In a Strange City
The Last Place
By a Spider's Thread
No Good Deeds
Another Thing to Fall
The Girl in the Green Raincoat



Song of Kali by Dan Simmons

This is a bit of a cheat in that I've already reviewed Dan Simmons's Song of Kali here on the blog but I've just discovered that the fabulous folks over at Open Road Media are releasing a new ebook edition this very week.

Bobby Luczak is sent to Calcutta in search of a poet who has been missing and presumed dead for eight years. Reports suggest that not only may the man still be alive, but that there are unpublished works to be found as well. Bobby's wife and infant daughter accompany him on his trip, but Calcutta is by no means tops on the list of family destinations in the 1970s. Luczak begins to suspect that the reports may be part of a scam, but the truth is far more disturbing.

Song of Kali was originally released in 1985 and went on to earn Simmons his first World Fantasy Award. As I mentioned in my original review, the book is a slower build. There were moments where I wondered how on earth the book could actually be considered horror! And yet, sticking it through is incredibly rewarding and I highly recommend the read. I will warn you, however, that the book is truly horrific and highly unsettling.

If you're an ebook reader then you should really get to know the folks at Open Road Media. They're committed to bringing fantastic older titles out in digital edition for new readers (and fans!). This week alone - in addition to Song of Kali - they're releasing a ton of Greg Bear backlist, Aaron Elkins, Harlan Ellison, Dave Duncan... the list literally goes on and on. And that's just for this week's releases. The company launched back in 2009 and has a truly impressive list of titles. I definitely recommend checking them out if you're looking for something "new" to add to your ereader.

And since Song of Kali is one of my all-time favorite horror reads of course that's the one I'd suggest picking up today (though Thomas Tryon's titles have caught my eye, as have their Robert McCammon offerings).

Sunday, March 30, 2014

New releases 4/1/14

Some of the new titles hitting shelves this week are:

The Cold Nowhere by Brian Freeman

Irenicon by Aidan Harte

The Girl Who Came Home by Hazel Gaynor

The Idea of Him by Holly Peterson

Hidden by Catherine McKenzie

Reign of Ash by Gail Z. Martin

Destroyer Angel by Nevada Barr

Love & Treasure by Ayelet Waldman

Dark Eden by Chris Beckett

The Revolutions by Felix Gilman

Frog Music by Emma Donoghue

The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin

Waiting for Wednesday by Nicci French

The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison

And the Dark Sacred Night by Julia Glass

Cavendon Hall by Barbara Taylor Bradford

Silence for the Dead by Simone St. James

The Lie by Helen Dunmore

The Bird Eater by Ania Ahlborn

I've Got You Under My Skin by Mary Higgins Clark

When the Cypress Whispers by Yvetter Manessis Corporon

Be Safe I love You by Cara Hoffman

Under Magnolia by Frances Mayes

Deark Killer by Katherine Ewell

Sekret by Lindsay Smith

Dorothy Must Due by Danielle Paige

Illusion by Sherrilyn Kenyon

The Ring and the Crown by Melissa de la Cruz

Love Letters to the Dead by Ava Dellaira

Salvage by Alexandra Duncan

New on DVD:
Knights of Badassdom
Anchorman 2
47 Ronin

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Real Happy Family by Caeli Wolfson Widger

Good morning, everyone. Today I'm a stop on the TLC book tour for Caeli Wolfson Widger's debut,  Real Happy Family!

Lorelei Branch has always wanted to be a big star. After an HPV vaccine ad and a few other small placements, she thought she was finally on her way when she made it through to the big finale of Flo's Studio's live casting pick. But when Lorelei is passed over, disaster strikes - in the form of her mother Colleen. 

Now Lorelei isn't speaking to Colleen. In fact, Lorelei has run off to Reno with her boyfriend, Don, her mother's credit card, and a stash of meth. To get her through the day Colleen has a cocktail of pills and booze, all of which she hides from her husband, Carl. But then Colleen gets an idea, a way to hopefully earn Lorelei's forgiveness while also putting her back in the spotlight. 

Meanwhile, Lorelei's brother and his wife have their own struggles. They've been trying to conceive and after a visit to a highly sought after specialist, their plan is in place. Until Darren is offered a job on a set in Florida. And this job would finally mean earning recognition in the industry as well as earning the respect of his in-laws. Robin reluctantly agrees but having her husband so far away while undergoing hormone treatments is definitely not ideal. 

Whew. That's a lot of info to sum up. Caeli Wolfson Widger's Branches are crazypants. It's kind of hard to sympathize much with Lorelei and Colleen considering their situations are pretty much born of their own bad choices and stubbornness. Robin and Darren on the other hand are probably the most likable ones of the bunch. (Carl gets some facetime but he's still mostly in the background throughout the book.) All in all, though, reading Real Happy Family is like watching a train wreck. I was intrigued, especially by the hints of the occurrence on Flo's Studio, but I don't know that I really enjoyed most of the story.

I will say this, all of the ridiculousness of reality tv is spot on! I'm not a fan of reality tv for exactly the reasons Real Happy Family portrays. And while we've had some small brushes with the Hollywood industry, the stage mom and the Hollywood lifestyle are still things I'll never be able to understand. While the author is clearly poking fun at it, it's all kind of exactly the way she lays it out here. In fact, I've heard much crazier beyond the glimpse she gives us into that life.

I'm a little on the fence. Lots of Real Happy Family is amusing, in a tragicomic sort of way (you know, if you like to see characters ride the meth bus to disaster and you want to see families fall apart). It's a quick read as well, I finished it in one afternoon. It didn't quite reach the oddball hilarity of similar reads (Wonder Bread Summer) and while I'm all for unlikable characters, in cases like this one it doesn't work in the book's favor.

Rating: 3/5

To see more stops on the tour be sure to visit the official TLC tour page here. For more on Caeli Wolfson Widger you can follow her on Twitter and Goodreads.


Wednesday, March 26, 2014

The Bedlam Detective by Stephen Gallagher

Today is a bit of a throwback as it's one I read quite a while ago. Ripper Street is back on BBC America and I've been craving more along those lines so it seemed like the perfect time to finally get around to posting this!

Sir Owain Lancaster's account of his expedition to South America has left many questioning the man's sanity: the entire team of explorers and Lancaster's own wife and son were killed. No one is left to back up Lancaster's tale of strange and murderous creatures.

Sebastian Becker's job is to investigate Lancaster's state of mind. But when he arrives in Arnmouth, another crime has just occurred -- two girls have been brutalized and murdered on Lancaster's estate. Could Lancaster be behind the murders?

The premise of this mystery is really unique -- Becker is a former Pinkerton who now works as an investigator for an asylum. How freaking awesome is that?! The historical setting makes it that much more fantastic.

When I started this one I didn't actually realize that it was the second title to feature Becker. It works as a complete stand alone but if you're like me and you finish this one instantly wanting more, then it's a pretty cool discovery. The Kingdon of Bones was released in 2007 and concerns a boxing champ accused of murder.

I have to say, I'm a fan of Gallagher and his lead, Becker. I do wish there had been more installments to this series.

Rating: 5/5

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Mind of Winter by Laura Kasischke

Good morning, readers! Today I'm a stop on the TLC book tour for Laura Kasischke's latest, Mind of Winter! (Whoops, no really, it's today - I posted this a bit early the first time around.)

Something had followed them home from Russia

It's Christmas morning and Holly is awakened with one thought in her mind - something had followed them home from Russia. It was thirteen years ago that very day when she and her husband, Eric, arrived at Pokrova Orphanage #2 in Siberia to meet their daughter. And now, so many years later, Holly is convinced that all the strange things that have happened since - the hen, the cat, the incident with her coworker's daughter, and so much more - are linked. That something had followed them home from Russia. 

On the one hand it's clear that family drama - especially the perils of raising a teen - makes great fodder for creepy atmospheric chillers. On the other hand, Laura Kasischke captures the essence of all of that tension and uncertainty ('cause every teen seems to become and unrecognizable monster at a certain age - or so I've heard) and elevates it beyond anything I think I've seen so far. Mind of Winter is a standout read on so many levels!

The elements themselves, especially blended together, certainly make the story an appealing one: mother and daughter trapped at home on Christmas  Day during an abnormally eerie snowstorm, the hints of something odd connected to a Siberian orphanage (that one is enough for me, to be honest!), and this bizarre mantra the mother keeps going over and over in her head: something had followed them home from Russia.

Anyone who's had the pleasure of reading Kasischke's work, however, knows well that there's an added style element that is unique to her alone. Her writing is emotional and descriptive but never flowery. She seems to know exactly how to perfectly draw a scene in a reader's head. Yes, this is a hallmark of any great writer, but - and perhaps this is her poetry background - Kasischke's choice of words is melodic and almost mesmerizing.

I find there's just something so infinitely engaging about Kasischke's work that makes it both wonderful and chilling and Mind of Winter is no exception. In fact, I think so far this may be my favorite!

Rating: 5/5

To see more stops on the tour be sure to check out the official TLC tour page here. For more on Laura and her work you can visit her website at www.laurakasischke.com.


Monday, March 24, 2014

The Midnight Witch by Paula Brackston + a Giveaway

Good morning, readers! Today I'm super stoked to be taking part in the tour for Paula Brackston's latest, The Midnight Witch!

When the sixth Duke of Radnor dies, his son, Freddie, inherits his title. But it is his daughter, Lady Lilith Montgomery, who inherits a role of much greater importance - she is to take her father's place as Head Witch of the Lazarus Coven. And as head of the coven, Lilith is also responsible for maintaining the coven's biggest secret: the Elixer, which has been sought after for generations by a group called the Sentinels. Now, one man will stop at nothing to bring down Lilith's family and the Lazarus Coven all in an attempt to finally lay hands on the Elixer. 

The author's careful attention to detail is, as always, just one of the highlights of her books. The time period and the London setting - as well as Lilith's family and their role in society (which of course presents even more delicious intrigue what with the coven being a secret and all) - all lend credibility to a tale in which covens apparently thrive throughout early twentieth-century London.

And while I didn't reference the romance aspect in the synopsis, it is definitely a huge part of the story. Lilith is engaged to another witch, one whose place in society and in the coven is on par with her own, so of course it's an acceptable and expected match. But when she meets an artist newly arrived in town and taken under the wing of another Lazarus member, she is drawn to him in ways that she cannot deny.

Brackston's latest is a richly woven tale of high society, necromancy, and romance!

I've got lots of extras for you guys including an excerpt:




I've linked to the author's website above but here are a few more links to check out: Paula's Facebook page (where you can find quizzes and polls and such) and Paula's Wattpad page (where you can find more excerpts and her recently serial novel, Lamp Black), and of course I've got the giveaway!

Thanks to the publisher I'm able to offer up two copies of The Midnight Witch for giveaway today. To enter simply fill out the Rafflecopter below before Monday, April 7. US only and no PO boxes please.


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Pre Pub Book Buzz: Dorothy Must Die by Danielle Paige

I'm a bit late with my pre pub post - I usually do them on Saturdays and I was a neglectful in my blogging this weekend. But with this one due out so soon I wanted to get it up with all the extras!

I think just about every book person out there seems to be waiting on the release of Danielle Page's debut, Dorothy Must Die!

Here's a bit about the book from the publisher:

Crash landing via tornado into a childhood nightmare, Amy Gumm finds the lime-lit, sparkling city of Oz a far cry from its former over-the- rainbow glory. The culprit? That bitch from Kansas: Dorothy Gale. Power-hungry and invincible, Dorothy has turned everything on its head. Now, the Scarecrow conducts inhumane experiments on the winged monkeys, the Tin Woodman is a trained killer, and the Lion is a deranged monster out for blood.

Upon arriving, Amy is immediately inducted into The Revolutionary Order of the Wicked, a group of not-so-wicked witches that are determined to rid their land of Dorothy. Now, Amy will have to show more gumption than was ever necessary in her Kansas trailer park life. When everyone has ulterior motives and no one is whom they seem, it's not easy to know what to do next. But one thing's for sure: Dorothy must die.

Just to further tease us, there's an e prequel available here and - in preparation of the book's April 1 release - the publisher has posted the first twelve chapters online! You can check that out here.

New releases 4/25/14

Some of the new titles hitting shelves this week are:

Mind of Winter by Laura Kasischke

Vintage by Susan Gloss

I Remember You by Yrsa Sigurdardottir

The Burning Dark by Adam Christopher

Safe Keeping by Barbara Taylor Sissel

The Revenant of Thraxton Hall by Vaughn Entwistle

Code Zero by Jonathan Maberry

The Midnight Witch by Paula Brackston

Notorious by Allison Brennan

Lockstep by Karl Schroeder

The Lady of Sorrows by Anne Zouroudi

Carpathian by David L. Goleman

Death on Blackheath by Anne Perry

Bellagrand by Paullina Simons

Children of the Revolution by Peter Robinson

Truth and Fear by Peter Higgins

The Coal Black Asphalt Tomb by David Handler

Tempting Fate by Jane Green

Empress of the Night by Eva Stachniak

Without Warning by David Rosenfelt

Mark of the Dragonfly by Jaleigh Johnson

The Winter Horses by Philip Kerr

Wanderers by Susan Kim & Laurence Klavan

New on DVD:
The Truth About Emanuel
Deliveryman
Odd Thomas
The Wolf of Wall Street

Friday, March 21, 2014

Red Rising by Pierce Brown

Darrow is a Red, a caste sent to Mars to mine the precious elements below its surface. Elements needed to terraform the world so that it can support human life. The work is grueling but Darrow knows that, as the history states, a new life is being built by them.

But a chance discovery proves that Darrow and the rest of the Reds are wrong. The world they've been killing themselves to help build has existed for a long, long time. They've been oppressed for generations and, as his wife Eo tries to point out to him, are nothing more than slaves.

Darrow is recruited by the Sons of Ares, a group set on bringing down the upper echelons of society and finally freeing the Reds. But in order to succeed, Darrow must infiltrate the most elite group of Golds on Mars and convince them that he is one of them.

I get it now, I really do! Pierce Brown's Red Rising was released in the end of January and I feel like I must be the last person to jump on board - at least based on all the fabulous reviews and ratings all my fellow bloggers have been giving it. It was a little intimidating at first, wondering if the book would really live up to the expectations set by so much buzz. But don't worry, if you haven't read it I'll go ahead and tell you that it does very much live up to all the hype.

The world building alone is amazing! The reader is taken to various levels of Mars inhabitation, from the mines to the surface. And each of those levels is populated by a different group - Reds, Grays, Obsidians, Browns, Pinks... all the way to the upper crust of society - the Golds. Brown has even populated the world beyond Mars, something we learn as Darrow is told the truth about Mars and Earth and their history.

This is the first in a projected trilogy and joins the likes of Suzanne Collins's Hunger Games and Julianna Baggott's Pure trilogy in the ever popular and growing futuristic teen dystopian ranks. There is much more of a science fiction element in Pierce's tale and like some of its counterparts it certainly has enough going on to appeal to an adult readership as well as its intended teen audience. It is actually quite a brutal read and I do wonder what will be in store for Darrow in the two books to come. I imagine it'll get much more... violent before the end.

Book two, Goldenson, is due out January 2015.

Rating: 5/5


Thursday, March 20, 2014

Where Monsters Dwell by Jørgen Brekke

I only got in one read over the weekend but it was a bit of a doozy, Where Monsters Dwell by Jørgen Brekke - a Norwegian thriller that was just released here in the States last month.

Efrahim Bond seemed an unlikely candidate for murder and yet for one killer he's a prime target. His body is found skinned and on display in the garden at the Edgar Allan Poe Museum in Richmond, Virginia. Meanwhile, across the globe another flayed body is found in a locked vault at the Gunnerus Library in Trondheim, Norway. In each case the police involved believe they're dealing with an isolated crime, so it comes as a surprise when Richmond detective Felicia Stone finds a reference to the Gunnerus Library in her case. One quick phone call to Trondheim officer Odd Singsaker confirms the striking similarity in the murders. The only link they can find adds more confusion to the respective murders: a sixteenth-century book bound in human skin and believed to be the diary of a serial killer.

Brekke's debut is a pretty gruesome tale with more than a few twists. It begins with a flashback to a mendicant monk who turns out to be the author of the manuscript that links the two cases. His story includes some really fantastic details on the history of early anatomy (a bit fudged for the purpose of the story but the author's afterword does detail the truth behind the fiction, so to speak).

Poe enthusiasts will likely jump at the Poe Museum setting, but as the author also points out in his afterword, Poe himself is pretty inconsequential to the actual plot. It is a nice detail that adds more interest to the story even though it doesn't play heavily on the plot itself - adds more atmosphere in a way.

One wonders, in finishing, if we'll see more of these characters. Brekke pays close attention to building up backstories for more than a few of the people in this tale to the point that a series could be feasible. The book does stand completely on its own, however, but would be a nice set up for a new Norwegian crime series.

Rating: 3.5/5

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Mark Henry News - the Return of Amanda Feral!

Big, big news, y'all! Mark Henry is back with more Amanda Feral awesomeness! The first of three new Amanda Feral e novellas is coming out April 7, so mark your calendars. Here's the official news release from Mark:

BEACH BLANKET BLOODBATH, the first book in the new Amanda Feral Trilogy (I'd be hesitant to simply call them novellas since they're really long for novellas) will be available for you eReaders on APRIL 7TH! 

***MORE NEWS***

A month after that, on MAY 5TH, another book and another first in a trilogy will be available. BALUSTRADE is my first foray into paranormal erotica. It's got my trademark sarcasm, over-the-top filthiness and and an unsettling mystery.


And here's a bit about Beach Blanket Bloodbath from Goodreads:

In Beach Blanket Bloodbath, Amanda, Wendy and Gil descend on an idyllic seaside village for some rest, relaxation and consumption of cute coastal townsfolk but their plans are derailed when they become embroiled in a mystery at the Miss Sand Flea Pageant involving overtly perky go-go dancers, the inevitable wereshark attack and an annoying octogenarian sleuth/writer.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

You Should Have Known by Jean Hanff Korelitz Excerpt and Q&A

Today marks the release of Jean Hanff Korelitz's highly anticipated latest, You Should Have Known. As such, the publisher is doing a blog blitz featuring author Q&As and excerpts. I'll be posting a review later this week but until then here's a bit about the book from Goodreads to pique your interest:

Grace Reinhart Sachs is living the only life she ever wanted for herself, devoted to her husband, a pediatric oncologist at a major cancer hospital, their young son Henry, and the patients she sees in her therapy practice. Grace is also the author of You Should Have Known, a book in which she castigates women for not valuing their intuition and calls upon them to examine their first impressions of men for signs of serious trouble later on. But weeks before the book is published, a chasm opens in her own life: a violent death, a missing husband, and, in the place of a man Grace thought she knew, only a chain of terrible revelations. Left behind in the wake of a spreading and very public disast and horrified by the ways in which she has failed to heed her own advice, Grace must dismantle one life and create another for her child and herself.

And now for the fun extras!

A conversation with Jean Hanff Korelitz

Q. You’re open about your mother being a therapist – was she a marriage therapist, specifically? What did you learn from the osmosis of her experiences with people over the years that you would say influenced the writing of YSHK? In GONE GIRL, Gillian Flynn discusses marriage as the ultimate mystery – is this your take on marriage as well? Feel free to read/listen to this interview Gillian did to help you ponder this: http://www.npr.org/2012/06/05/154288241/the-marriage-is-the-real-mystery-in-gone-girl

A. My mother was a family therapist who specialized in couples. Although she was very circumspect about protecting the identity of her clients, she never missed an opportunity to pass life lessons along to myself and my sister, so that we could avoid some of the pitfalls her female clients were dealing with. Accordingly, we had a lot of dinner table conversations about men: men who lied, men who bullied, men with secret lives. We were really instructed to be as self-reliant as possible, emotionally as well as financially, and to be vigilant about these people, because there are so many of them. I probably knew what “sociopath” meant before I was out of elementary school. 

And yet…in spite of all those discussions and all that warning, our family had a couple of run ins with real sociopaths — people who charmed us, lied to us, and stole from us. And I think we were fascinated by them, even though we were also furious at them, and at ourselves for being taken in. We were (and are!) the sort of people who beat ourselves up over any harm we might have caused to anyone, so a man or woman who blithely used and abused a friend or a business associate or even a stranger was (and is!) sort of an exotic creature to us. Even today, I know exactly which stories my mother is going to sink her teeth into: the Bernie Madoffs and the Anthony Weiners, the pillars of their community with a sideline in some illicit activity, men with extra families, folks who falsify their credentials. Endlessly, endlessly interesting. 

Q. Do you have any personal experiences or with relationships specifically that you looked back on when writing the novel and said “I should have known”? 

A. What, you mean like that professor who announced to his class (which included me) that he was a paranoid schizophrenic with depressive tendencies…and I fell madly in love with him and had my psyche ripped to shreds for about two years? You mean like that? Oh, no, absolutely not. I’m far too intelligent for that. 

Seriously, though…a man I once knew told me about his first date with a woman. They sat down in a restaurant and he said to her, “In some ways we’ll never know each other better than we do right now.” That made a real impression on me, and I think it’s true. We come into a new relationship knowing nothing, and then we fill in all the gaps: sometimes with real (or essentially empirical) knowledge, but often (more often?) with the “story” we generate ourselves, in compliance with our own prejudices, desires, needs. 

Q. He doesn’t talk much because…he’s shy. Because he thinks most women are silly, but I’m the exception. Because he was so harmed by his mother. Because he’s afraid I’m like his ex-girlfriend, who cheated on him. Because he thinks he’s not worthy of me. 

A. I make up stories all the time in my work, and I know how powerful stories are. But I actually think everyone does this, whether they’re writers or not, whether they’re aware of it or not. And while we’re busy conjuring all those backstories and motivations for the people in our lives, the person himself (or herself) may have a very different reality and a very different agenda. People can live for years with that side-by-side dichotomy. What would disturb it? 

(PS. That couple on the first date? They got married. Years later, they got divorced.) 

Q. Can you talk a bit about why you chose the setting of an elite New York City private school as the backdrop for the first part of the novel? 

A. Grace is in the unusual position of sending her son to her own school, and having, as a result, to be a parent in the very hallways and rooms where she, herself, was a child. I was interested in that, especially in relation to the broader socio-economic shifts that New York has undergone since Grace’s childhood. In place of the artists and professionals (doctors, lawyers) in her parents’ peer group, the parents of Grace’s son’s classmates are intensely wealthy and entitled. In a global sense, Grace understands how fortunate she is, but she is also aware that within the culture of her son’s school she is considered financially insignificant, even impoverished. As a writer, that was simply too compelling to be ignored. So when we see the school fundraiser through Grace’s eyes we get a lot of conflicting impressions. She’s amazed, appalled, scandalized…but there’s a part of her that longs to be included. She might be horrified by the young and ignorant wife of a certain captain of industry (i.e. hedge fund CEO), but she also genuinely lusts after the woman’s color wheel of Birkin Bags. 

Q. For readers who have very similar “You Should Have Known” experiences , the novel really was quite chilling for me as it struck a real chord. Is it a hope for you that readers like me will be more careful as they make their choices, particularly, in regards to serious relationship commitments? When writing the novel, did you aim to go straight for the provocative? Are you worried some readers may feel defensive as they read the novel perhaps because they have shame surrounding the choices they’ve made? I wonder if the novel could really strike a raw chord with some readers who are afraid to accept their own “I should have known” reality. Does this make sense? 

A. I think we all assume we’re too smart to be taken in, but the truth is that we’re probably taken in all the time. It’s easy to look at someone who’s been betrayed in some massive, in-your-face way, and ask “How could she not have known?” (at one time this was actually my novel’s title!) but hindsight is 20/20 and no one’s immune. Or, as Kierkegaard put it: "Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards." In other words, it’s easy to see it all NOW. But while it was happening? Not so much. And being smart is no protection either. (I’m nowhere near as smart as the wives of Eliot Spitzer and Dominique Strauss-Kahn. Didn’t help them.) Will yet another cautionary tale make readers more careful in their own lives? Probably not. Even truth is no match for our storytelling capacities! 

Q. What about the Grace in the final chapters of YSHK do you like better than the Grace in the earlier chapters? Is there a sense of hope you were trying to gift to your readers? 

A. I can’t even begin to count the times I’ve been scolded for creating “unlikeable” female protagonists, to which I say: Fine! Guilty! In five novels I have not created one main character I haven’t wanted to smack at some point. And yet, each of them has been brave enough to change, and for that I do respect and even like them. (I’m not sure what’s so great about “likability”, in any case. How “likable” is Elizabeth Bennet, with her snobbishness and short temper? Don’t we love her in spite of these very qualities?) So yes, the Grace of the early chapters is plagued by irritating qualities. She’s closed off, a snob, judgmental, remote to her patients, withholding to friends (or people who might be friends, were she capable of accepting them), a brittle and probably very lonely person in the middle of a “happy family”, in the middle of a huge, teeming city. It is only when she discovers how alone she really is and how misplaced her sense of security is and how unfounded are the pillars on which she's set her life, that she can actually begin to connect to other people: some of whom are new to her, some of whom have been there all along. Do I “like” her more at the end than at the beginning? I do, because I can see that reaching out and letting people into her life is hard for her -- but she does it anyway. 

And if that's not enough to convince you to run out and snatch up a copy of You Should Have Known immediately, here's a little excerpt for you to enjoy!

“My editor sent it a few weeks ago,” Rebecca said, placing the galley on the tabletop next to the Kleenex box. “Loved it. You know, people don’t really ever hear this: Don’t screw up at the beginning and you won’t have a lot of these problems down the line. And it’s very in-your-face. The typical book on this subject has a bit more of a kinder, gentler approach.” 

Grace, aware that the interview had now actually begun, tried to summon that cock of the head and those perfectly formed sound bites. Her voice, when she spoke next, was not the voice of what she considered her real life; it was a situational voice. It was what she thought of as her therapy voice. “I understand what you’re saying. But to be frank, I think kinder-and-gentler hasn’t served us especially well. I think women are ready to hear what my book says. We don’t need to be handled gently. We’re grownups, and if we’ve screwed up, we should be able to take a little truth about it, and make our own decisions. I always explain to my clients that if all they want is for someone to tell them everything’s going to be all right, or everything happens for a reason, or whatever the pointless jargon of the moment is, then they don’t have to come to my office and pay me for my expertise. Or buy my book, I suppose.” She smiled. “They can buy one of the other books. Any of them. How to Love Your Marriage Back to Health. How to Fight for Your Relationship.” 

“Yes, but your title’s rather . . . confrontational, isn’t it? You Should Have Known. I mean, that’s what we always say to ourselves when we’re watching the press conference and some politician’s just tweeted a photo of his penis to the world, or got caught with a second family, and the wife’s standing there next to him looking stunned. You know, Really? This surprises you? ” 

“I don’t doubt the wife is surprised.” Grace nodded. “The question is, should she be surprised? Could she have avoided finding herself in this position?...You know how we always tell ourselves, You never know, when someone does something we don’t see coming? We’re shocked that he turns out to be a womanizer, or an embezzler. He’s an addict. He lied about everything. Or he’s just garden-variety selfish and the fact that he’s married to you and perhaps you have children together—that doesn’t seem to stop him from behaving as if he’s still a single, unencumbered teenager?” 

“Oh yeah,” Rebecca said. It sounded, Grace thought, a little personal. Well, that was hardly surprising. That was sort of the point. “And when it happens we just throw up our hands: We say: Wow, you never know about people. And we never hold ourselves accountable for what we bring to the deception. We have to learn to be accountable. If we don’t, we can’t act in our own best interests. And we can’t prevent it next time.” 

“Uh-oh.” Rebecca looked up. She fixed Grace with a plainly disapproving expression. “We’re not about to blame the victim, are we?” 

“There is no victim,” said Grace. “Look, I’ve been in practice for fifteen years. Over and over I’ve heard women describe their early interactions with their partner, and their early impressions of their partner. And listening to them, I continually thought: You knew right at the beginning. She knows he’s never going to stop looking at other women. She knows he can’t save money. She knows he’s contemptuous of her—the very first time they talk to each other, or the second date, or the first night she introduces him to her friends. But then she somehow lets herself unknow what she knows. She lets these early impressions, this basic awareness, get overwhelmed by something else. She persuades herself that something she has intuitively seen in a man she barely knows isn’t true at all now that she—quote unquote—has gotten to know him better. And it’s that impulse to negate our own impressions that is so astonishingly powerful. And it can have the most devastating impact on a woman’s life. And we’ll always let ourselves off the hook for it, in our own lives, even as we’re looking at some other deluded woman and thinking: How could she not have known? And I feel, just so strongly, that we need to hold ourselves to that same standard. And before we’re taken in, not after.” 

Excerpted from the book YOU SHOULD HAVE KNOWN by Jean Hanff Korelitz. Copyright © 2014. Reprinted by permission of Grand Central Publishing. All rights reserved.

Top Ten Tuesday: Spring 2014 TBR

I've decided to jump on board with Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week the topic is: top ten books in my spring TBR.


1. Hidden by Catherine McKenzie - it's been out in Canada for absolutely ages and now it's finally due out here (April 1)!

2. I Remember You by Yrsa Sigurdardottir - this one sounds incredibly creepy and is actually in my stack for this weekend. (Due out March 25)

3. Wolf by Mo Hayder - this is the seventh in her Jack Caffrey series and it's sure to be freaky and fabulous! The forethought given into building her plots really amazes me; pieces are set into motion two and three books ahead of time. I'm always anxious to get to her next release. (Due out May 6)

4. The One by Kiera Cass - oh, I'm dying for this to come out. I adore this series! (Due out May 6)

5. The Three by Sarah Lotz - I've been eyeballing this for a while, but especially after learning that Lotz is half of the horror author team known as S. L. Grey. (Due out May 20)

6. The Intern's Handbook by Shane Kuhn - this looks wickedly funny and dark. (Due out April 8)

7. Dorothy Must Die by Danielle Paige - it's Oz, of course I want to read it! (Due out April 1)

8. The Severed Streets by Paul Cornell - the follow up to last year's London Falling. Super excited to return to this series and these characters! (Due out May 20)

9. The Shadow Year by Hannah Richell - a UK psychological suspense that's finally being released here in the States. It sounds amazing! (Due out May 6)

10. Sekret by Lindsay Smith - a teen Russian spy book. Yep, a must read! (Due out April 1)

Monday, March 17, 2014

Fearie Tales: Stories of the Grimm and Gruesome ed by Stephen Jones

Everyone who's taken the time to look at fairy tales beyond what Disney presents knows they're full of creepy and dark stuff. This latest anthology edited by Stephen Jones features a collection of the grimmest of classic Grimm tales alongside a new story from some of modern horror's best writers, penned in the Grimms' honor.

Now first and foremost you should know that Jones has exquisite taste in horror! The stories chosen for this collection are all pretty fantastic, though I do have to admit there were just a few that were less than favorites for me personally. But as I always say when reviewing anthologies, that's what I like about them!

All of the tales are dark and creepy, but some have a hint of whimsy. Some are quite gruesome and horrific while others are more atmospheric. Whatever your preference, as long as you like horror and fairy tales, there's something here for everyone.

The collection is bookended not only be two fairy tales of Jones's choosing, but also by two very different takes on Rumpelstilkskin, one by Ramsey Campbell and the other by John Ajvide Lindqvist. Other tales include takes on Rapunzel and Hansel and Gretel (by Tanith Lee and Robert Shearman, respectively), and stories inspired by lesser known (at least by me) tales like The Robber Bridegroom (Angela Slatter) and The Singing Bone (Neil Gaiman).

A few of my personal favorites include Neil Gaiman's "Down to a Sunless Sea," "Peckish" by Robert Shearman (really quite gruesome!), Michael Marshall Smith's fantastic "Look Inside," Brian Hodge's "Anything to Me Is Sweeter, Than to Cross Shock-Headed Peter," Peter Crowther's "The Artemis Line," and John Ajvide Lindqvist's "Come Unto Me." And trust me when I say this is by no means a full list of the tales I enjoyed. In fact, there are so many wonderful contributors here that frankly it's just easier to give you a table of contents instead :)

Introduction: Don't Scare the Children 
The Wilful Child
Find my Name by Ramsey Campbell
The Singing Bone
Down to a Sunless Sea by Neil Gaiman
Rapunzel
Open Your Window, Golden Hair by Tanith Lee
The Hare's Bride
Crossing the Line by Garth Nix
Hansel and Gretel
Peckish by Robert Shearman
The Three Little Men in the Wood
Look Inside by Michael Marshall Smith
The Story of a Youth Who Went Forth to Learn What Fear Was
Fräulein Fearnot by Markus Heitz
Cinderella
The Ash-Boy by Christopher Fowler
The Elves #1
The Changeling by Brian Lumley
The Nixie of Mill-Pond
The Silken Drum by Reggie Oliver
The Robber Bridegroom
By the Weeping Gate by Angela Slatter
Fräu Trude
Anything to Me is Sweeter, Than to Cross Shock-Headed Peter by Brian Hodge
The Elves #2
The Artemis Line by Peter Crowther
The Old Woman in the Wood
The Silken People by Joanne Harris
Rumpelstiltskin
Come Unto Me by John Ajvide Lindqvist
The Shroud

I should note that sadly this is a UK release so it'll take a tiny bit of leg word for folks here in the States. No fear, though, Book Depository did have it available when last I checked.

Rating: 5/5

Sunday, March 16, 2014

New releases 3/18/14

Some of the new titles hitting shelves this week are:

You Should Have Known by Jean Hanff Korelitz

The Rich and the Dead by Liv Spector

Fearful Symmetries edited by Ellen Datlow

Hyde by Daniel Levine

Hotel Brasil by Frei Betto

Apocalypse by Dean Crawford

Citadel by Kate Mosse

Kill Fee by Owen Laukkanen

Raising Steam by Terry Pratchett

Missing You by Harlan Coben

The Midnight Rose by Lucinda Riley

Happily Ever After by Elizabeth Maxwell

The Divorce Papers by Susan Rieger

The Cairo Affair by Olen Steinhauer

Elusion by Claudia Gabel & Cheryl Klam

Remnants of Tomorrow by Kassy Tayler

New on DVD:
Saving Mr. Banks
American Hustle
Mandela
Frozen

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Pre Pub Book Buzz: Land of Dreams by Kate Kerrigan

This one is a bit far out - due out from William Morrow October 7 - but having read the first two (and LOVED them), I've been highly anticipating this one. And it's been out in the UK all this time!

Here's a bit about the book from the company's catalog on Edelweiss:

Irish immigrant Ellie Hogan has finally achieved the American Dream. But her comfortable bohemian life on Fire Island, New York, is shattered when her eldest adopted son, Leo, runs away, lured by the promise of fortune and fame in Hollywood. Determined to keep her family intact, Ellie follows him west, uprooting her youngest son and long-time friend Bridie.

In Los Angeles, Ellie creates a fashionable new home among the city’s celebrities, artists, and movie moguls. She is also drawn into intense new friendships, including talented film composer Stan, a man far different from any she has ever met, and Suri, a beautiful Japanese woman and kindred spirit, who opens Ellie’s eyes to the injustices of her country.

While Leo is dazzled by Hollywood’s glitz, Ellie quickly sees that the golden glamour masks a world of vanity and greed. Though she tries to navigate them around the dangers of their new home, she will not be able protect them from an even more terrifying threat: war . . .

If you're intrigued, I do highly recommend checking out the two previous books in the trilogy, Ellis Island and City of Hope.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Guest post by Amy Talkington


Good morning, everyone! Today I am pleased to be part of SOHO Teen's tour for Amy Talkington's debut Liv, Forever with a guest post from Amy herself!

Folks have been buzzing about Liv, Forever for ages now! Reps were raving about it here at Mountains and Plains last fall and it's been gaining more and more attention ever since. The book is finally out on shelves and I am pleased as punch to welcome Amy to the blog.

Take it away, Amy!

A few people have asked me where I wrote Liv, Forever. I love my writing space so I thought I’d share all the details with you!

When I had my first child five years ago, it prompted me to do what I’d long wanted to do: convert our old freestanding garage into my office. We live on a very steep hill and the garage is down the hill from our house, providing the perfect amount of separation from the main house—so I’m “home” but I’m not home.

I have a friend who is an incredible interior designer (like she helped do one of the Ace Hotels!) and she agreed to give me some advice on the space. I knew I wanted an “inspiration wall” somewhere and I knew I wanted bookshelves somewhere and of course I needed a desk but I wasn’t quite sure how to arrange it all. My friend had a brilliant idea: One complete wall of books. One complete wall of inspiration images. Put the desk right in the middle, so the images and the words meet in my mind. I love that idea, that I sit in between a wall of words and a wall of images and they meet at my desk, where I sit and type. I feel inspired by that concept every day, whether writing a screenplay or Liv, Forever (or a screenplay of Liv, Forever!)

The third wall (which is behind me) is filled with framed art and memorabilia—including a movie poster from the indie feature I wrote and directed The Night of the White Pants, the autograph I got from Andy Warhol at a book signing in 1985, and one of my old self-portraits.

Everyone has their own take on this, but I personally think it’s very important to create a serious work space for yourself—even if it’s just a closet! Make it your own. Make it inspiring. Take yourself seriously as a writer. Take yourself seriously as a creator. An artist. Surround yourself with ideas and inspirations. And write!

If you want to know all the latest on Liv, Forever follow me on Twitter @amytalkington and Tumblr http://amytalkington.tumblr.com/

Big, big thanks to Amy for being on the blog today and to the folks over at SOHO Teen for setting this up!

Thursday, March 13, 2014

RedDevil 4 by Eric C. Leuthardt

In the year 2053 technological advancements have made vast and wondrous strides. Neuroprosthetic implants allow for instant contact and up-to-date access to news and information, medical advancements mean almost instantaneous diagnoses, and one scientist has almost succeeded in creating artificial intelligence. But some do not see this as advancement. Some believe this new world is an abomination. Religious leaders prompt followers into very public and sometimes violent protest while the other side of the spectrum would see everyone connected in one vast network. In the midst of all of this, a series of murders has the police baffled. Three similar crimes all at the same time in three different locations. And in each case the killer was apprehended. There's no doubt the cases are connected but can the police figure it out before there are more deaths?  

This tv season I've gotten completely hooked on Fox's new sci-fi police procedural Almost Human. All along I've been longing for something along those lines to read as well and Eric C. Leuthardt's RedDevil 4 seems to be exactly that!

Apparently Leuthardt is a neurosurgeon. I admit this was something of a concern for me as a reader - I've definitely come across some professionals who are easily able to plot and write great fiction while integrating their profession and knowledge into the story but I've also read others where the focus becomes too much on the author's day job and less on the actual storytelling. Fortunately Leuthardt seems to have the balance down pat. Be warned, though, the science is quite heavy in this one; there was a lot that went over my head in terms of actual explanation behind the tech and the drugs. On the flip side, the actual mystery is really intriguing and in spite of the complicated dollar words (I'm exaggerating a little) the plot moves rather quickly.

Sections alternate between a number of characters, especially in the beginning with The Chameleon, Hagan, both of the Devrons, Krantz, etc. The character list does whittle down some as the various victims start to fall! And the crimes (and the descriptions of the scenes) are pretty brutal.

All in all, RedDevil 4 is a smart debut and a great futuristic twist on a classic police procedural theme.

Rating: 4/5

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Safe With Me by Amy Hatvany

All it took was one instance to change the lives of so many people. One minute Hannah was the mother of a boisterous teenage girl, the next minute all was lost. Hannah consents to donating Emily's organs and learns that one of the recipients is another teen on the brink of death.

Maddie Bell has been sick most of her life. In and out of hospitals, she's never faced the normal ins and outs of being a teen. Then she receives a much needed liver transplant. For the first time, Maddie is healthy and able to do the things normal teens do - like attend school. It may seem like nothing for a girl who's faced death and survived, but Maddie is about to learn how brutal high school can be.

Olivia thought she'd met her prince charming in James Bell but she couldn't have been more wrong. By the time she realized just how bad things could be, though, it was too late. Now that her daughter is out of the woods, Olivia thinks she might finally have a chance to start again.

While Hannah and the Bells are undeniably connected, their meeting seems fateful. Hannah is the only one who suspects that Maddie was one of the people saved by her daughter's organ donation, and she fears the truth may cause the Bells to reconsider her friendship. For someone who's only recently begun to come out of her shell since her loss, Hannah believes their meeting is fortuitous and for Olivia, Hannah may be exactly the friend she needs in her own tough situation.

I've been hearing praise of Amy Hatvany's work every since her debut, Best Kept Secrets, hit shelves in 2011. Any time a ton of my blogger friends are all raving about an author, I feel it's my duty as a reader to see what the fuss is about :)

Hatvany certainly seems to have a knack for building strong and thoughtful characters while also tugging at a reader's heartstrings! Her characters are warm and compelling and the story is issue-y without being overwhelmingly so. (Easy to swallow for someone who may avoid those kinds of reads, in other words.)

Rating: 4/5

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Top Ten Tuesday: Best Fantasy Books

I've decided to jump on board with Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week the topic is: favorite fantasy novels.


1. George R. R. Martin's Song of Ice and Fire series - I'm not going to list the books individually, then my whole list would be GRRM!

2. The Last Unicorn by Peter S. Beagle - who doesn't love this book?!

3. Daughter of the Forest by Juliet Marillier - this should be another series listing for me but I'll go ahead and put down the first Sevenwaters book since it hooked me to Marillier's work.

4. Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell by Susanna Clark - oh, such a fabulous doorstopper fantasy!

5. The Sworn by Gail Z. Martin - my first book by Martin and another that hooked me to an outstanding series and author.

6. Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman - urban fantasy at its very, very best. It's the first in a list of London based urban fantasy that I completely adore!

7. London Falling by Paul Cornell - like this one.

8. Sixty-One Nails by Mike Shevdon - and this one :)

9. The Spirit Ring by Louis McMaster Bujold - I will beat this book over people's head until it's back in physical print. Kidding, but it is a fantastic book.

10. Dreams and Shadows by C. Robert Cargill - so dark and deliciously wonderful.

Oh, I could go on and on and on with this list!

Two Sisters by Mary Hogan

Hi, readers! Today I'm a stop on the TLC book tour for Mary Hogan's Two Sisters.

Muriel has been keeping secrets her whole life - things she knows about her mother, things she knows about her sister... And the truth is that although neither of them have been especially affectionate with her, she's never, ever revealed what she knows to anyone. When her sister arrives one afternoon for a surprise visit, however, Muriel is faced with the biggest secret of all. One that will have devastating results. Finally Muriel will have to face the truth about her family and the things they've all been keeping from one another. 

On the one hand I found Two Sisters to be something of an easy read. I was quickly swept up in the story through Hogan's somewhat breezy style. Her imagery in particular was beautiful. But the actual story itself was an emotionally rough one for me. I have three sisters, all quite a bit younger than me, and a brother as well, so the that any siblings would have such an awful relationship with each other or with their parents was hard for me to read.

And my first instinct really is to say that this whole family is pretty much awful. No, they aren't physically abusive to one another, but for the main character (Muriel) to literally question why no one loved her is truly painful!

Hogan's adult debut does give the reader lots to think about, especially with regards to family relationships. This is yet another read that I can't truly say I enjoyed - it was just too heart wrenching for that.

Rating: 3.5/5

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

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


Monday, March 10, 2014

The Sound of Broken Glass by Deborah Crombie

Morning, readers! Today I'm a stop on the TLC book tour for Deborah Crombie's 15th Duncan Kincaid and Gemma James title, The Sound of Broken Glass.

It begins with a dead lawyer in a hotel room. He'd been tied up and strangled, left behind for the housekeeping staff to find. Gemma and her partner, Melody Talbot, are assigned the case and soon discover that the dead man had been involved in an altercation at a local pub the previous evening. Whether it has any bearing on their case is yet to be determined but it does lead them to a local musician, one Gemma and her husband know through mutual friends. 

Meanwhile, Duncan has yet to return to work as the couple's young foster daughter struggles to acclimate to her new environment. And while staying at home with the kids has its rewards, Kincaid questions just how long his position will be waiting for him. 

I was only introduced to Crombie's series last year with the paperback release of No Mark Upon Her. I'd noted then that there was some reference to previous series installments and while it was something of a stumbling block it was nothing I couldn't overcome. The same is true here. Having read the previous book I did have a bit of an easier time but there are a lot of continuing - minor - plot lines involving characters.

And yet I'm discovering that's one of the things I enjoy most about these books. Clearly I need to do some catch up reading, but with just two books under my belt I really feel like I'm beginning to know these characters quite well. It's a little like being invited into someone's home. It's warm and welcoming, and I love that Crombie pays such attention not only to Duncan and Gemma, but to their friends and colleagues as well. All of the little details that make up their lives add to the richness of the series.

Another aspect I enjoy is the nature of the series as a whole. Crombie's plots are well thought out and the series seems to straddle the gap between cozy and something harder. The murder scenes aren't too detailed to really ick out a cozy reader but they're enough to satisfy fans of the darker stuff as well, which makes this a series that I think appeals to a broad spectrum of mystery fans.

Rating: 4/5

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

For more on Deborah and her work, visit her official site here. You can also like her on Facebookand follow her on Twitter.


Sunday, March 9, 2014

New Releases 3/11/14

Some of the new titles hitting shelves this week are:

Watching You by Michael Robotham

The Weight of Blood by Laura McHugh

The Dead of Summer by Mari Jungstedt

Death in Reel Time by Brynn Bonner

The Fell Sword by Miles Cameron

Night of the Hunter by R. A. Salvatore

The Lost Sisterhood by Anne Fortier

Stone Cold by C.J. Box

The Accident by Chris Pavone

Shotgun Lovesongs by Nickolas Butler

The Detainee by Peter Liney

The Raven's Shadow by Elspeth Cooper

Night Broken by Patricia Briggs

Be Careful What You Wish For by Jeffrey Archer

Mentats of Dune by Brian Herbert & Kevin J. Anderson

Liv, Forever by Amy Talkington

The Mirk and Midnight Hour by Jane Nickerson

Resistance by Jenna Black

Ruins by Dan Wells

The Edge of the Water by Elizabeth George

New on DVD:
In Fear
The Book Thief
Inside Llewyn Davis
Out of the Furnace
Homefront

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Pre Pub Book Buzz: Sweetness #9 by Stephan Eirik Clark

Ooh, catch up posts from the weekend. This week's (or last week's technically) book I'm super stoked about is Stephan Eirik Clark's debut, Sweetness #9, due out August 19th from the folks over at Little, Brown and Company.

Here's the Goodreads description to whet your appetites:

Fast Food Nation meets The Corrections in the brilliant literary debut T.C. Boyle calls "funny and moving."

David Leveraux is an Apprentice Flavor Chemist at one of the world's leading flavor production houses. While testing Sweetness #9, he notices that the artificial sweetener causes unsettling side-effects in laboratory rats and monkeys. But with his career and family at risk, David keeps his suspicions to himself.

Years later, Sweetness #9 is America's most popular sweetener--and David's family is changing. His wife is gaining weight, his daughter is depressed, and his son has stopped using verbs. Is Sweetness #9 to blame, along with David's failure to stop it? Or are these just symptoms of the American condition?

An exciting literary debut, SWEETNESS #9 is a darkly comic, wildly imaginative investigation of whether what we eat makes us who we are.

Sounds good (and more than a little timely), right?!

Thursday, March 6, 2014

The Deepest Secret by Carla Buckley

Good morning, everyone! Today I'm a stop on the TLC book tour for Carla Buckley's The Deepest Secret.

For fourteen years, Eve has been completely devoted to protecting her son, Tyler. Tyler has xeroderma pigmentosum, a rare genetic disorder that leaves him extremely sensitive to ultraviolet light. Any exposure means burns and lesions, which can result in blindness, cancer, and ultimately death. 

The constant worry and stress is a lot for Eve to handle and lately it seems the rest of her family is being neglected. Her relationship with her husband is strained, her daughter is increasingly acting out, and Tyler himself, an average teenage boy in every other way, is tired of living such a sheltered life. 

Then the unimaginable happens. An accident that threatens Eve and her family. Eve's first instinct is to keep Tyler and the rest of her family safe but this time to do so will mean hiding something truly horrendous.

Carla Buckley's latest is a powerful read. It's a difficult one, too. Eve's accident really is awful but it's impossible not to sympathize with her. She's a good person, doing the best she can trying to be there for her family and deal with a totally unique situation when she literally makes a life changing mistake. One instance is all it takes for her world to start to crumble around her. It really does make the reader consider what they might do in Eve's situation.

The impact of her actions are massive and Buckley admirably illustrates this, showing the cracks that start to form in the community. Things begin to snowball as Eve tries harder and harder to ensure her secret is kept safe.

But even more interesting is the fact that Eve isn't the only one keeping secrets. Tyler's nighttime wanderings reveal some really odd behaviors on the part of his neighbors. Some are odd simply because they're taken out of context when the neighborhood peeping teen sees just snippets of other people's lives. Others we come to learn are quite serious secrets indeed.

With the pacing and intensity of a thriller, The Deepest Secret is yet another in a string of potential one sitting reads I've been tackling of late (I read about half in one sitting and then had to return to real life. I could have finished it in one go given the chance!).

Rating: 4.5/5

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

For more on Carla Buckley and her work, check out her website here. You can also like Carla on Facebook and follow her on Twitter and Goodreads.


Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Conquest by John Connolly and Jennifer Ridyard

They are called the Illyri and after discovering how to find and use wormholes for travel, they set about colonizing planets like their own. They arrived on Earth just over sixteen years ago and have ruled the planet ever since. 

Syl Hellais holds no hate for this planet. It is her home after all; she was the first of her kind born here. But her movements are restricted. As the daughter of the governor of the islands of Britain and Ireland she is forever protected and guarded. Much of the human resistance has been quashed over the years, but militant parties still exist and Edinburgh is home to one of the most active. Still, the area near the castle Syl and her father call home is generally free of such worries. So When Syl escapes on her sixteenth birthday, intent on exploring the nearby village, she has no way of knowing that she's walking straight into a war zone. 

Paul and Steven Kerr are part of the resistance but aren't involved in the bombing that almost kills Syl and her friend. In fact, they come to the rescue saving Syl from the blast and hiding her from the search party. By the time they meet again, Paul and Steven are to be executed for a crime Syl knows they're innocent of. 

Conquest kicks off a brand new series coauthored by John Connolly and Jennifer Ridyard. This first installment in the Chronicles of the Invaders is awesome in scope and premise. Not only do we have conquering aliens, which of course means an almost certain looming all out war between humankind and the invaders, but the politics of the Illyri are in question as well. There are some pretty big revelations in Conguest, some twists I didn't quite see coming that leave much to look forward to in subsequent books. And while it's clear throughout Conquest that this is only the beginning - there's an obligatory cliffhanger-esque ending, too - it's a highly engaging first book.

Connolly and Ridyard seem to work together fairly seamlessly. The collaboration here has resulted in a smooth and well written series debut with great characters, lots of intrigue, and pretty fantastic world building. No word yet on when we can expect the second book in the series, but it's already on my must have list!

Rating: 4/5

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Top Ten Tuesday: Popular Authors I've Never Read

I've decided to jump on board with Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week the topic is: popular authors I've never read.


I feel like this might make me seem like a bit of a snob but here goes:

1. Nicholas Sparks - never going to happen. Not at all my thing. 

2. E. L. James - um, nope. Another one that's just not my thing.

3. Robert Jordan - this one actually probably is my thing, I just haven't gotten around to him yet. 

4. Veronica Roth - I have the whole trilogy in my TBR waiting patiently for when I get the chance so this one is inevitable. 

5. Rianbow Rowell - Rowell is just another of the author's I haven't gotten to. I've heard wonderful things and do plan to read her very soon.

6. Stephanie Perkins - her book sound so amazingly sweet and I'm not sure how I've managed not to read her thus far. I keep picking them up!

7. John Green - yes, yes. I know he's the current must read and I've watched the trailer for the movie and I still haven't read him nor have I got any of his books in the TBR.

8. Jodi Picoult - I have tried. I think I give up on this one.

9. Jojo Moyes - I feel like this author came out of nowhere (she didn't, she has a long string of books to her name) but I missed her somehow. She's in the to read someday list.

10. Nora Roberts - probably not going to happen.