Saturday, May 31, 2014

Doctor Who Time Trips: The Death Pit by A.L. Kennedy and Into the Nowhere by Jenny T. Colgan

The wait is almost over! That's right, Whovians, the Doctor is set to return in August. (You can see the latest teaser over at io9 here.) Until then, BBC Books has a great new series of e shorts to tide us over!

The series is called Time Slips and launched just this past December with A.L. Kennedy's "The Death Pit."

"The Death Pit" lands Doctor number four in the midst of strange goings on at the Fetch Brothers Golf Spa Hotel where guests have been disappearing for quite some time. Junior Day Receptionist Bryony Mailer has noticed the incidents but honestly believed it could be chalked up to boredom. Until today, that is. Today, the Doctor arrives. 

Rating: 4/4

Since Doctor Four was my first, it's nice to see him back in action here! But it was equally nice to return to Matt Smith's Doctor and Clara as well with Jenny Colgan's installment. (Jenny Colgan also recently penned the Doctor Eleven adventure Dark Horizons.)

In "Into the Nowhere" Doctor Eleven and Clara land on an unmapped and unnamed planet that immediately seems intent on killing them! They can leave if they can only get back to the TARDIS, but nothing intrigues the Doctor quite like the unknown...

These shorts are perfect little tastes to satisfy any Doctor Who fan. Each one is a new little adventure from a great author, and each featuring a different doctor (no particular order to read them in either) - other installments include Nick Harkaway's "Keeping Up With the Joneses" and Cecelia Ahern's "The Bog Warrior" amongst others.

Rating: 4/4

Friday, May 30, 2014

Bad Luck Girl by Sarah Zettel

This week marks the release of Bad Luck Girl, the third installment in Sarah Zettel's American Fairy trilogy.

Warning: if you've not read Dust Girl and Golden Girl, spoilers ahead!

Callie managed to save her parents from the Seelie king but sadly not without complication. The accidental killing of the king's daughter has resulted in an all out war between the Seelie and Unseelie - and their factions. Now, Callie, her parents, and Jack have gone on the run in an attempt to lay low and survive the battle. But it won't be easy, as Callie learns to use her new powers it becomes ever clear just how far folks are willing to go to get their hands on the child of prophecy!

Callie has so far survived the Dust Bowl, a run in with the Unseelie court (including her uncle, Shake), Hollywood, and a run in with the Seelie court as well. Whew! That's a lot for a fourteen-year-old girl to handle even if she is a fairy princess. But she takes it all pretty much in stride. After all, she has just learned that she's heir to a fairy throne and that she's apparently got powers none of the other fairies possess. Her friendship with Jack definitely helps to keep her grounded, especially as their adventures continue.

I absolutely adore the fact that Zettel has set this series around this particular time period. I've still not seen anything quite like it but it makes for a truly remarkable combination - the fae and 1930s American history, that is.

Callie's age puts this series a bit on the younger side of teen fantasy, in my opinion, but it's no less enjoyable even for someone my age.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

The Garden Plot by Marty Wingate + a Giveaway

Hi, everyone! Today I'm part of the TLC book tour for Marty Wingate's The Garden Plot. There's also a tour wide giveaway with this one so do be sure to read through to the bottom to enter.

Pru Parke is in a precarious position. After interning at one of England's famed gardening spots and honing her skills to compete with her UK counterparts, she's given herself a year to find a position that will allow her to stay in England. With her year almost up and no solid job in sight, she's afraid it might be time to throw in the towel. In the meantime, she's keeping her hopes up and taking any garden job she can find, which is why she takes on the job at the Wilson's. A garden grown rampant and in need of an expert hand is a dream come true for Pru. But when she discovers a body in the Wilson's garden shed, that dream turns quickly into a nightmare. 

Generally, but admittedly with a few exceptions, you've probably noticed that cozy mysteries aren't my cup of tea. When I heard about Wingate's debut, though, I was more than a little curious. A Texas ex-pat and a garden theme set in England? I thought I'd give it a try - and I'm certainly glad that I did!

The Garden Plot is cute - bordering on being just a bit too much so for my taste but it's saved by Wingate's obvious knowledge of England and gardens as well as the added Roman history. Because a big part of the plot hinges on the possible discovery of a Roman artifact, this element is really very interesting.

I liked Pru and her various friends and acquaintances. There's just enough quirkiness to balance out the lightness for a jaded reader like me (I'm really not that bad, I just have a tendency to gravitate towards darker mysteries in general). And it's set in the UK - I'm a total sucker for that anyway :)

It was fortunate too that this one came up in my reading schedule when it did because I was suffering a massive book hangover thanks to Quebert and the best way to overcome that issue seems to be reading something completely different. With the exception of the murder, you kind of can't get much more different than Wingate's first Potting Shed mystery. There is a second book in the works and I will be looking forward to following more of Pru's adventures!

(As an aside, I've so far really enjoyed each of the titles I've reviewed from Random House's Alibi imprint. If you haven't yet checked them out, they do have something to satisfy every flavor craving in the genre!)

And now for the giveaway. To enter simply fill out the Rafflecopter below. Time is short so don't wait! As I mentioned this is a tour wide giveaway so if you've already entered on another stop there's no need to re enter here.

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To see more stops on the tour be sure to check out the TLC book tour here. And for more on Marty Wingate and her books, you can visit her website here.


Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Reckless Disregard by Robert Rotstein - Excerpt and Giveaway

Robert Rotstein's Parker Stern is back in this year's follow up to Corrupt Practices! And while the book doesn't officially hit shelves for another week, I am lucky enough to be able to offer up both an excerpt to tempt you with and a chance for you to win your very own copy!

But first, here's a bit about Reckless Disregard from the publisher:

Reckless Disregard finds former top-notch attorney Parker Stern taking on a dicey case for an elusive video game designer known to the world only by the name of “Poniard.”

In Poniard’s blockbuster online video game, Abduction! a real-life movie mogul is charged with kidnapping and murdering a beautiful actress who disappeared in the 1980s. The mogul—William “the Conqueror” Bishop—has responded with a libel lawsuit. Now it’s up to Stern to defend the game designer in the suit. Except there is one major problem, nobody has ever met his client…not even Stern.

I truly enjoyed Corrupt Practices (you can hit the link above to see my review of that one if you're interested) and can't wait to get to this sequel!

And now for the excerpt:

CHAPTER 2 

Before I can search the name Poniard, there’s a knock at my door, though it’s wide open. Brenda Sica, the case assistant I share with three other mediators, stands at the threshold. It’s her job to schedule mediations, organize the case files, collect retainers in advance, do basic Internet research, and word process my official correspondence—more responsibility than a secretary but less than a paralegal. During the six weeks she’s worked at JADS, we’ve merely exchange pleasantries, and yet she’s cowering in my doorway as if she expects me to hurl a paperweight at her. 

“Mr. Stern, I—”

“Call me Parker.” I’ve told her this before.

“Yeah, sorry. P... Parker.” Her voice is tremulous, her shoulders slumped, her eyes downcast. Her anxiety clashes with her brassy appearance. In her mid- to late-twenties, she’s small and voluptuous, with long black hair, creamy skin, dark brown eyes, and a long Greek nose. She’s heavily made up, with ivory foundation, black eyeliner, and eyebrows plucked so thin that they look like tattoos. Maybe they are tattoos. She’s dressed in a form-fitting white sweater and a black pleated skirt too short for an office full of staid lawyers and judges. The four- inch platform heels make her five-four. And then there’s her perfume— drugstore-chain quality, licorice and vanilla and musk, over-applied. 

“I’m wondering if you have any work you need me to do,” she says, shrugging and not bothering to lower her shoulders. 

“You know how slow I’ve been.” 

Instead of leaving, she leans back against the wall and shuts her eyes, like a child after a scolding. Her body seems to accordion into itself. I wait for her to leave, but she just stands there. 

“Is everything OK?” I ask. 

“No, sir, Mr. Stern. I need this job, and since I was hired I’ve only been working part time. They said I’d be working for four people, mostly you, but you’re not busy and Judge Mitchell still keeps using Lucy as his assistant and Ms. Ross has been out on maternity leave, so it’s only Judge Croninger, and she doesn’t have enough work to keep me busy full time, so I think they’re going to lay me off if I don’t have more to do. I’m on probation still.” 

I’m to blame. If I brought in even half the mediations I should, I could keep her busy. I’ve been sitting in my office, waiting for the work to come to me rather than going out into the legal community and aggressively marketing. Yet, here I am, about to conduct research on a potential lawsuit. Nothing in my deal with JADS prevents me from taking on a case as a lawyer, but the company expects me to make mediation my first priority. My laziness and disinterest shouldn’t affect Brenda Sica. 

“Are you working on anything at all?” she asks.

“I have a possible matter as a lawyer, but it’s not a JADS thing.”

“I can help you out.”

“I don’t think it’s fair to you or JADS to—”

“It’s OK with me. At least I’ll look busy.” She puts her hands together, prayer style. A passive form of advocacy but an effective one. I can easily reimburse JADS for a few hours of her salary. I’m not here for the money anyway—I have other sources of income. 

“How are you at Internet research?” I ask, though I don’t expect much because JADS gives the new hires only three hours training on LexisNexis and Westlaw. 

“Whatever you need, Mr. Stern.” 

“Just don’t tell anyone what you’re working on. I’ll make it right with JADS.” 

She nods and crosses her heart like a child swearing an oath. 

I tell her about Bishop’s potential lawsuit against Poniard and describe the research I need. She keeps nodding her head and brushing away the same strand of hair that falls into her face every third nod. 

When I finish, I ask if she has questions. She shakes her head and leaves. I suspect that she hasn’t understood half of what I said. 

I spend the next forty-five minutes reading a biography of Edward Bennett Williams, the famous DC trial lawyer who once owned the Washington Redskins. Williams said, “I will defend anyone as long as the client gives me total control of the case and pays up front.” This Poniard character has offered to pay me up front; taking total control of the case will be the hard part. 

There’s a slight rustling in the doorway, fabric against skin. I start and then look up to see Brenda slouching against the doorjamb, arms folded, papers dangling from one hand. She has a look of repose, almost ennui, as if she’s been watching me for a long time. 

“What is it?” I ask, sounding more abrupt than I intend. 

She straightens up suddenly, as if I startled her and not the other way around. “No. I finished the research.” 

“So fast?” 

She shrugs apologetically. I gesture for her to come inside. She sits down in the client chair, crosses her legs, and tugs the hem of her skirt down hard. 

“Can we start with Felicity?” she asks.

“However you want to do this, Brenda.”

She takes a heavy breath. “OK. The best thing I found on her is from this website called The Tommy Foundation, named after a California boy who disappeared in 1961. It collects cold cases involving people who have disappeared. Here’s a short summary of the vital statistics.” 

I skim the printout: 

  • Name: Paula Felicity McGrath 
  • Missing since: July 23, 1987 
  • Classification: Endangered missing 
  • Age: 28 years old 
  • Distinguishing characteristics: Caucasian female. Red hair (dyed auburn at the time of disappearance), blue eyes. 
  • Medical condition: McGrath was rumored to be three months pregnant at the time of her disappearance, but this has not been confirmed.

“I don’t remember anything about her being pregnant,” I say. “It’s been a long time, but—” 

“This is the only website that says it. I haven’t done a full Lexis search, but most of the news articles I found don’t mention pregnancy. I...” She puts a hand to her mouth. “Sorry, Mr. Stern... Parker.” 

“For what?”

“Because I interrupted you.”

“It’s OK. It’s called conversation.”

She fumbles with her printouts. “So, OK. On July 23, 1987, Felicity leaves her apartment in the Carthay Circle District of Los Angeles. At approximately 6:00 p.m., she tells her roommate Natalie Owen, a teller at a local bank, that she’s going to meet a friend for dinner at the Farmer’s Market on Third Street. She also says she’s going to a nighttime film shoot afterwards.” 

Brenda has rarely said more than a few words to me. So I never noticed that her speech has a vaguely foreign lilt, a softening of the R’s, a rising inflection at the end of sentences that sounds musical and child- like. And though from her name I assumed she’s Latina, her speech doesn’t sound like it came from a Hispanic country or the barrio. I can’t place it. Or maybe she simply has a slight, endearing speech impediment. 

“Natalie Owen filed a missing person’s report after Felicity failed to return home the next day,” she continues. “A city worker on the Santa Monica beach found a gold or yellow high-heel shoe belonging to McGrath on the sand not far from the pier. Later, a police search turned up a chain and cross that might have been Felicity’s. The CSI people found blood on a concrete pylon, the blood type matching Felicity’s. Of course, everybody knows the cops never found her body.” She wraps her arms around her chest and shudders visibly. 

“Pretty scary stuff,” I say. 

“Every girl’s nightmare. Anyway, her purse was never found. Her brown seventy-eight Honda Civic was later found parked on Abbott Kinney in Venice.” She takes three shallow breaths. “Anyway, the rumors and gossip were that Felicity was a skank, that she slept around with both men and women. Of course, there’s no proof, but... this bartender in Venice told the police that at approximately 11:30 p.m. the evening she went missing, she left his bar with two men in their late thirties or early forties. One tall and one short. Both with dark curly hair. The cops thought she was hooking, that maybe she picked up the wrong johns, and they raped and murdered her and dumped... and dumped her body at sea. Their other theory is that she committed suicide because she was mentally disturbed, manic-depressive.” 

“They call it bipolar disease these days.” 

She looks up at the ceiling. “The cops couldn’t find evidence that Felicity had an acting job that night.” 

“What about suspects?”

“There weren’t any.”

“William Bishop’s relationship with her?”

“None that I can find yet. I checked the Internet Movie Database. McGrath worked on two films released by Bishop’s studio—both bombs—but the company made twenty-three films during that time, so there’s no reason to think that Bishop was involved in her movies. He’s a corporate executive, right? You know he’s in control of a ton of the media in the Western world? Movie studio, TV network, newspapers, Internet and cable companies. I can’t believe I never heard of him before.” 

“William the Conqueror does have scary power.” 

“Why do they call him that?”

“You’ve never heard of—?”

She shakes her head. 

“The original William the Conqueror was a Frenchman who invaded England, overwhelmed his opponents, and became king. They call Bishop “the Conqueror” because he’ll do anything to defeat his opponents. Except, he does it in the corporate world rather than on the battlefield. He’s a media mogul whose companies pry into other people’s business, and yet he somehow manages to keep his private life private even in this Internet era.” 

She shuffles through her stack of papers. “I did find one weird thing that’s not publicized. Did you know he was an actor?” 

“You must have the wrong William Bishop.” 

“He acted in a movie in like, the nineteen seventies—The Boatman.” She hands me a printout, all in text. It’s a stub article—the name of the movie, Bishop’s name, but no information about the rest of the cast or company and crew or movie’s plot. Even the date is vague—197

“Where did you get this?” 

“The Internet Movie Database. Well, not the website IMDb, but—” 

“If the IMDb says Bishop is an actor, the whole world would know about it.” 

“No. I mean, it was posted before the IMDb was a website. It used to be what they call a newsgroup, rec.arts.movies. Obsolete. I looked in Wikipedia and...” 

“How do you know it’s the same guy?” 

“I guess I don’t, Mr. Stern. But why isn’t The Boatman on today’s IMDb? Every movie’s on today’s IMDb. Bollywood movies, Japanese movies, even porn.” 

“The IMDb is wrong a lot,” I say.

“Yeah, but it wouldn’t leave this out.”

I’m not sure I buy her theory, but I certainly underestimated her. 

“Good job,” I say.

I thought that would get a smile from her, or a thank you, but she just stares at me as if my compliment is a cruel joke.

“OK. What about Poniard?” I ask.

She hands me a printout from Wikipedia.

Poniard is a pseudonymous video game developer and political activist. His games include Bomb Rats, the simulated government game Macbeth in the White House, Eggheads and Skinheads, Reality Rogues, and Abduction! His earlier games oppose imperialism, capitalism, fascism, and the cult of celebrity. Some call him a nihilist. His most recent game Abduction! allegedly accuses business magnate William Bishop of orchestrating the 1987 disappearance of actress Paula Felicity McGrath, though there has never been any evidence of Bishop’s involvement. As always, Poniard released the game without fanfare. Speculation is that it first became available on the Internet sometime in June 2013 and took some weeks to catch on with the general game-playing population. 

Later in the article: 

There have been numerous rumors and theories about Poniard’s identity. Theories often suggested include a former Xerox PARC researcher, a teenager in Oslo, Norway, and a mysterious computer programmer named Vladimir Lazerev. There’s one alleged photograph of Lazerev, taken at a 2010 video game conference in London. His whereabouts are unknown. Another theory is that Poniard is actually a collective of game developers rather than a single person. A “poniard” is a long, lightweight thrusting knife with a continuously tapering, acutely pointed blade. 

“So, he’s a mystery man,” I say.

“Yeah, like Banksy.”

“The English graffiti artist.”

“His stuff is incredible. But nobody knows who he is.”

“I saw his film Exit Through the Gift Shop. Good documentary, mediocre art.”

She narrows her eyes and leans forward as if to protest, but sits back. I wish she had protested. But I was trained in law school to believe that you get to the truth by arguing. I often forget that most normal people don’t believe that for a moment. 

“The photo of Lazerev?” 

She slides another sheet of paper over to me. “Sorry, I tried to blow it up, play with the printer but... no wonder they can’t identify the guy.” The blurry, sepia-toned photo must’ve been taken from a balcony or an upper-floor window or a rooftop. A large crowd has gathered in a plaza, perhaps a party, perhaps a protest. There’s an arrow—part of the graphic, not anything that Brenda has drawn in—pointing toward the head of a man wearing a hoodie. Only the left side of his face is visible. 

He looks like a nerdy college student—beak nose, slightly receding chin, John Lennon eyeglasses. The only things that distinguish him are his height and a dark spot on his cheek, maybe a birthmark, maybe just a smudge in the photo. 

She takes a deep breath, then another, wheezy, like an asthmatic. “So. This Poniard dude is real rich. He usually sells his video games for a premium, and people pay it. But he gave this Abduction! game away for free. The game’s gone viral. And you should know that...” She averts her eyes, as if she’s about to confess to a mortal sin. Her cheeks begin to flush. 

“Are you OK?” 

“Yeah, it’s just... Poniard posted Louis Frantz’s cease and desist letter on his blog. He wrote... he wrote that Bishop is ‘too big a pussy to sue.’ Sorry for the language.” Her cheeks and neck splotch red. She uncrosses and recrosses her legs and pulls at her skirt again. What makes a woman dress revealingly and then spend all day trying to cover up? 

“What about the video game?” I ask. 

“I’m sorry, I... I didn’t know that was part of the assignment. I’ll go look it up now.” 

“You any good at video games?” 

She squinches her nose as if smelling something putrid. “No, sir. I hate them. My last boyfriend was a gamer. Obsessed. Maybe if he would’ve spent as much time with me as he did playing Call of Duty...” She catches herself. “Sorry.” 

“I’ll work on the video game angle.”

“Really, I can—”

“No, it’s OK. Again, great job.”

“Thanks, Mr. ... Parker.” When she reaches the door, she turns back and smiles before leaving the office.

I go to the computer and find a wiki devoted specifically to Abduction!, which is described as a “survival horror” game—an adventure game that draws on horror fiction conventions. Survival horror games, I learn, involve a vulnerable player who must survive horrific forces through intelligence and evasion, not violence.

And now for the giveaway: to enter simply fill out the Rafflecopter below before Monday, June 9. US only and no PO boxes please.

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Tuesday, May 27, 2014

The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair by Joël Dicker

Happy, happy US release day to author Joël Dicker whose The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair hits shelves today!

With a deadline looming and a crippling case of writer's block holding him up, Marcus Goldman is in real danger of breaching his publishing contract. Desperate, he reaches out to the one man he believes will be able to help - his mentor, Harry Quebert. Harry invites him to his home as a retreat and a place to concentrate and write. But while looking for inspiration (snooping for Quebert's own famous manuscript), Marcus makes a startling discovery: back in the 70s Harry fell in love with a teenager half his age. The girl in question, Nola Kellergan, went missing that same summer. 

Marcus's time with Harry comes to an end and he still has no manuscript to speak of. He no sooner returns to New York ready to admit defeat when he receives a disturbing call. The body of Nola Kellergan has been discovered on Harry's property and the author is in police custody awaiting prosecution for her murder. Marcus is certain Harry is innocent of the crime and returns to the author's home intent on proving his innocence. His investigation not only stirs up trouble, leading to threats and insistence that Marcus leave town, but also uncovers a number of questions about Nola and other locals. Consequently, the case also gives Marcus the inspiration he's been seeking in his writing as he vows to write a book in Harry's honor, restoring his name. 

It's no secret I've been looking forward to this book for quite some time and the extended holiday weekend was the perfect opportunity to dive in! Now, there is a certain amount of trepidation in approaching a BIG book on my HIGHLY anticipated list. You know, the fear that it just won't live up to the expectation that's been building for MONTHS.

And this one came with a lot of anticipation. To the point that reading just about anything else was becoming overwhelmingly difficult simply because I wanted to read The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair. But (wait, that's deserving of all caps) BUT I can happily report that Dicker did not disappoint in any way shape or form!

From the very start, with Marcus's plight as a writer unable to produce, Dicker had me in his storytelling grip. The book is propelled forward by flashbacks throughout Marcus's investigation - and not just flashbacks to 1975. The reader gets glimpses of Marcus's path to becoming a writer, his meeting Harry, and Harry's "rules for writing" as well. In fact, the chapter countdown is just that - a backwards count beginning with 31 and each headed up with one of Harry's tips for writing (boxing and life).

Marcus and Harry are joined by a bevy of colorful characters, all of whom make up the fabric of the small town of Somerset, New Hampshire. There's a crusty cop who becomes one of Marcus's strongest allies, Harry's friends (some of whom abandon him as soon as he's accused and others who turn out to be more steadfast), and a number of possible suspects in Nola's murder.

And then there's Nola herself. Though she's only present through flashbacks and Marcus's discoveries, she obviously looms over the entire story. Her character is particularly interesting because of the way the story plays out. She begins simply as a fifteen year old who captures the heart of a thirty+ author and then becomes the victim of a horrific crime. (Or maybe not simply all things considered.) As we learn more about her, she transforms into something much more complex.

The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair is worthy of all the hype. It's a quick read - in spite of it's more than 600 pages - filled with surprise twists. And, as a person who does read a number of translations, I should point out that Sam Taylor's work is pretty impeccable: his translation is so incredibly smooth I'd never actually know it was a translation had I now read the title page.

I highly, highly recommend this one for anyone looking for a really great read!

Rating: 5/5

Monday, May 26, 2014

The Heiresses by Sara Shepard

Good morning, everyone! Today I'm a stop on the TLC blog tour for Sara Shepard's The Heiresses.

The Saybrook family is well known for their jewelry empire. It all began in WWII when the family patriarch returned from war with a large, canary yellow diamond in tow. As the story goes, he found said diamond at a bazaar in France and it put Saybrook's on the map. 

Now the family has everything they could ever dream about. But there's also rumor of a curse that plagues the Saybrooks. As one Saybrook heiress plans for her upcoming wedding, another heiress is struck dead. Could it be the curse or does someone have it in for the Saybrook women?

I should say first that I've never read or seen Pretty Little Liars but based on everything I've heard, The Heiresses does have some similar elements. The prologue hints at the mysterious things to come (with a narrator who possibly isn't actually revealed before the end of the story) and the close of the book does leave room for more books to follow. To say more might give a bit too much away but it did make for quite fun reading and left me curious about what might come for the Saybrooks should this develop into a series.

I loved that each of the Saybrook women were so different - Shepard does a wonderful job building up each of them without losing any momentum with the plot, which is always key in a suspenseful thriller. The mysteries and secrets plaguing the family were also believable and built well - thankfully coming to the end and the BIG REVEAL was no let down :)

The Heiresses is a light and frothy read tinged with mystery and suspense - perfect for summer in other words! I think I read the whole thing in almost one sitting, it was so catchy!

Rating: 4/5

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

For more on Sara Shepard, you can visit her website here. You can also follow her on Twitter.


Sunday, May 25, 2014

New Releases 5/27/14

Some of the new titles hitting shelves this week are:

The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair by Joël Dicker

I Am Pilgrim by Rerry Hayes

Skin Game by Jim Butcher

The Remaining by D.J. Molles

Goodnight June by Sarah Jio

The Directive by Matthew Quirk

Dreaming for Freud by Sheila Kohler

The Given by Vicki Pettersson

Night Terrors by Tim Waggonner

The Lost by Sarah Beth Durst

Invisible Ellen by Shari Shattuck

Suspicion by Joseph Finder

The Stranger on the Train by Abbie Taylor

Hannibal: Enemy of Rome by Ben Kane

The Secret Life of Violet Grant by Beatriz Williams

The Immortal Crown by Richelle Mead

Small Plates: Short Fiction by Katherine Hall Page

The Dark World by Cara Lynn Shultz

Played by Liz Fichera

Divided by Elsie Chapman

Bad Luck Girl by Sarah Zettel

City of Heavenly Fire by Cassandra Clare

Take Me On by Katie McGarry

New on DVD:
Gambit

Thursday, May 22, 2014

The Care and Management of Lies by Jaqueline Winspear

And for today's second post I'm a part of the TLC book tour for Jacqueline Winspear's upcoming stand alone, The Care and Management of Lies.

Summer of 1914 should be a happy time for Kezia Marchant - soon to be Brissenden. After all, she's to be married soon to a man she loves wholly. But across the ocean the threat of war becomes stronger and stronger with each day. 

Back on Marshals Farm this threat seems so distant and impossible that much of the village acts as if it almost doesn't exist. That is until some of their own begin to return in body bags. Tom Brissenden has no illusions about war and daily battles between his responsibilities at home and his responsibilities to his country. In the end he voluntarily signs on, leaving his new wife to take the helm at the farm. 

In London, Thea Brissenden attempts to go on in her life as usual. She's conflicted about the new marriage between her longtime friend and her brother, certain that Kezia is unsuited for her new role as a farmer's wife. And for her, the war is an opportunity to take up figurative arms against the conflict. Her new role as a pacifist soon lands her in hot water and her only option is to join the war effort to escape. But Thea is unprepared for the realities this was will bring. 

Sooooo I had a little trouble getting into this book. Don't worry, it's not a bad review and I didn't dislike it at all but I had some real trouble getting started. Part of it was simply timing - this was a crazy week and every time I sat down to read I got distracted in by one thing or another. Which is kind of sad now that I've finished. The first pages really set the scene and the tone for the whole book! If I could do it all over again I'd just lock myself in a quiet place (the bathtub) and set aside a big chunk of evening to get to it. And I should have done that to begin with but oh, well.

When we first meet Kezia and Dorothy/Dorrit/Thea it's just days til Kezia's looming nuptials. She and Thea have been friends since their schooldays so one would think they'd both be happy as can be that the upcoming wedding will officially make them sisters. And yet, Kezia's engagement to Thea's brother doesn't necessarily please Thea.

Thea and Kezia both worked hard for their education and it's understandable that Thea feels a bit like Kezia is throwing it away to become the wife of a farmer. Sadly Kezia and Tom's fondness for one another don't seem to temper Thea's disappointment in her friend's life choices. And while Thea is disappointed in Kezia, Kezia also feels a disconnect in their longtime friendship, recognizing that Thea is also making choices that separate the two. Thea is an ardent suffragette and, with the threat of war on the horizon, has also joined a group of pacifists in protesting the country's response to goings on in Europe (what soon becomes WWI).

War is the catalyst that each character needs to really begin to change and grow (though I think Kezia was well on her way before that). (Of the two, Kezia is definitely the one I felt I connected most with.) Between the two of them, Winspear I think truly captures the essence of what it must have been like to be a young woman during war time. The balance between their personal wants and needs and becoming housewives and homemakers. How they reacted to the war and the challenges they faced when the bulk of the men in their communities went to battle.

And it's not just the women that Winspear addresses. It's the men as well. Tom is stationed in the trenches and has become an example (in a bad way) for all the other soldiers. But with Kezia back home, working diligently to ensure that each letter to her husband is a distraction she catches the attention of another man as well. Edmund Hawkes is also stationed at the trenches and as Captain one of his tasks is to read through the soldiers' correspondence for censoring. He too looks forward to each and every letter from Kezia, longing for something more.

These days there are many titles set around WWI, enough for every kind of reader I think. For me, Winspear tackles the subject with grace while never letting the reader forget how awful it was.The effect on everyone involved on the front and at home, soldiers, nurses, wives, workers... no one was immune to the tragedies of this war. Everyone had a different way of surviving - whether it be (as the case is here) Kezia's white lies about life at home meant to life the spirits of her husband or Thea's self-serving but still admirable joining up and serving at the front herself. Hawkes and his surreptitious longing for Kezia thanks to her letters. And of course Tom, who - like many - would never burden their families with the realities of the front.

Anyway, if you couldn't tell, I do heartily recommend The Care and Management of Lies to any fan of historical fiction. Longtime Maisie Dobbs fans might be disappointed that the heroine is not present here, but I assure you you'll quickly become captivated by this new story (and I'm sure there'll be more Maisie to come as well).

Rating: 4.5/5

(The Care and Management of Lies is officially due out July 1.)

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

For more on Jacqueline Winspear and her work you can visit her website here. You can also like her on Facebook.



The Conditions of Love by Dale M. Kushner

Hi, everyone! I've got two posts for you today. First up I'm a stop on the TLC book tour for Dale M. Kushner's The Conditions of Love.

Eunice never knew her father, just that he'd abandoned her and her mother very shortly after Eunice was born. He returned once when she was just ten years old, only to disappear again. 

Throughout her life, people come and go offering Eunice pieces of themselves and love along the way. In this way, she is able to experience all the important love a person should have in their life. Though where the love comes from is anything but ordinary.

This is a hard book to pin down in a nutshell. Basically, Eunice's mother is a very egocentric flake who doesn't really provide more than the basics for her daughter. Not that it's not hard to sympathize with her, and Eunice does often side with her mother. But there's so much neglect before they finally part. And the parting itself is almost tragic. Eunice handles each loss in her life with bravery but each loss also tears her up a bit.

Eunice so quickly draws the reader into her story; she's incredibly easy to love. As a reader I felt like I was cheering her on throughout the book, just hoping that someone would finally give her all the things she deserves - stability, warmth, and love... and many of them do, but can they really compensate for her parents' neglect?

Dale M. Kushner's debut may sound a bit sad, but it's really not. The story is told in a very thoughtful way and Eunice's strength alone makes it more uplifting than you would think. The fact that she is able to meet so many wonderful people throughout her life also makes this more of a feel good story than my description might suggest.

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 the author, including a look at her speaking about The Conditions of Love you can visit her website here


Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Guest Post by Steven S. Drachman

Good morning, readers! Today I have a special treat for you - a Q&A with Watt O'Hugh the Third.

Who is Watt O'Hugh the Third, you might ask? Why he's the time traveling star of Steven Drachman's Memoirs of Watt O'Hugh trilogy. Books 1 & 2, The Ghosts of Watt O'Hugh and Watt O'Hugh Underground, are both out today for your reading pleasure.

To introduce you to Watt, Steven has kindly shared the following piece with us:

10 Questions with Watt O’Hugh the Third

Reprinted from the New York Herald-Tribune – June 15, 1936 

Our older readers may remember Watt O’Hugh the Third as the hero of various dime novels that circulated back in the 1870s, battered copies of which were still passed around among our less discerning lads as late as the 1890s. His more enthusiastic fanatics may even have managed to spot his Wild West show, which played New York’s now forgotten Hippodrome theater (the first one) in 1874, before closing quickly and ignominiously. Since discovering his story, and his alleged heroic exploits in Little Mount, I have wondered what had ever become of Mr. O’Hugh, who has over the years variously been described as dead or “on the lam.” He has now turned up, age 94 or 95, living in some squalor on an inactive western ranch, living off the last bits of a small fortune, the source of which he will not disclose. He agreed to a brief interview on two conditions: the state in which the ranch is located will not be identified, and I bring a case of whiskey and a carton of cigarettes, brand not specified. Mr. O’Hugh looks every bit his age, but he is still an imperfectly handsome man recognizable from old photographs. 

NYHT: You seem to spend a lot of time sitting here on your front porch and telling tall tales to the town’s children. 

O’Hugh: Not tall tales. God’s honest truth. I tell them about time Roaming, the dragon I spotted in Utah, the ghosts that guided my aim and made me the greatest living shootist in the West, some time back. 

NYHT: Fire breathing dragons are well-known to be mythical creatures. 

O’Hugh: Dragons are the lost link between dinosauria and birds. A few survived into the 19th century. They haven’t been spotted in many years. You are correct that they didn’t breathe fire. Cold blooded reptiles couldn’t breathe fire. That would be ridiculous. 

NYHT: And you are a time traveler. 

O’Hugh: Time Roamer. We can visit, but we cannot change a thing. “Traveling” somewhere implies fully possessing a time and place, which Roamers cannot do. We are like the wind, like a shadow. I’ve spent many days and years in the past and in the future. It’s hard to get out of your blood, once you get good at it. It’s addictive as opium but has its frustrations. It’s because of my Roaming that I am writing my story, and writing it so fast. I finally roamed to the day of my death and it is coming sooner than I had hoped, but later than I had any reason to expect, given how often I’ve been shot in the head. 

NYHT: How often have you been shot in the head? 

O’Hugh: Once or twice. In any event: more often than I would have preferred

NYHT: What do you expect to come of this memoir? Will you send it to Harper & Bros? Are you the new Hemingway? 

O’Hugh: Ha. You’re the funny boy. A real Lum and Abner, ain’t you? I don’t know what I’ll do with the book. I may bury it in the sand. But one day it will be found and published, by a rather unlikable has-been in the 21st century. A really despicable bastard, without a redeeming quality, other than his admiration for me. Kirkus will have some nice things to say about it, though they will mistake it for a novel. Peter Keough, a famous film critic in the future, will call it “rip snorting.” 

NYHT: Quite a remarkable prediction. 

O’Hugh: Believe what you want. It’s men like you, city men, skeptics, who have chased the magic out of the wilderness that America used to be. I have seen a dragon scurry across the cloudless sky in Utah, I did fly among the snowy stars in Wyoming with a woman of the dark arts, who promised me eternal life, poor Oscar Wilde and I saw deadlings rise in a mountain city in Colorado, we really saw a whole army of them, and I fought in the first battle of Sidonia. 

NYHT: Sidonia? The legendary magic city nestled in the Montana valley? 

O’Hugh: Not legendary. I wish that it were. 

NYHT: Have you been to Atlantis? 

O’Hugh: No. There was never an Atlantis. But I’ve been to the Chinese Hell of the Innocent Dead. For example. That’s as real as your ass, and even more frightening. Giant ferocious sand crabs, just for starters, and it goes downhill from there. It’s the 6th level of Hell. 

NYHT: Out of? 

O’Hugh: Eighteen. 

NYHT: Can you – you, the remarkable hero – possibly have any regrets, after this apparently spectacular life of adventure? 

O’Hugh: I have one regret. Involves a woman. Don’t want to talk about it. 

At this, the indomitable, possibly lunatic O’Hugh heaved a heavy sigh, took a heavy drag on his cigarette, took a heavy gulp of whiskey and looked up at the stars. And our interview came to a close.

About the author: Steven S. Drachman is a writer and critic whose work has appeared in the New York Times, The Village Voice, Entertainment Weekly, and The Chicago Sun-Times. He lives in Park Slope, Brooklyn, with his wife and two daughters.

And there you have it, folks! Just a taste of what you can expect from time traveling adventurer Watt O'Hugh's tales.

Big, big thanks to author Steven Drachman for supplying us with this interview and thanks to the lovely folks over at Wunderkind as well.

For more on Steve, Watt, and Watt's adventures, as well as excerpts and event news be sure to check out the Watt O'Hugh site here.

Monday, May 19, 2014

The Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen

Good morning, readers! Today I'm a stop on the TLC book tour for Erika Johansen's debut fantasy release, The Queen of the Tearling.

Kelsea Raleigh Glynn has been in hiding her entire life, but on her nineteenth birthday it is time for her to emerge and claim her throne. In the years since her mother's death, the Tearling has suffered greatly. Vulnerable to attack from the nearby kingdom of Mortmesne, Tearling has made a dark and tenuous alliance with the Red Queen. Kelsea's own uncle has his eyes set on the throne and has done everything in his power to take it as his own, including put a contract out for Kelsea's death. If she can live long enough to be crowned, it'll be just the beginning of the battle to take back her kingdom. 

I can't deny that I've been craving some epic fantasy and Erika Johansen's debut sure did hit the spot!

The Queen of the Tearling is the first in a new series set in a land not unlike our own. In fact, there are hints as to the beginnings of this particular world and the various settlements. Hints that I think will blossom into full blown explanations in further installments. Until then I have my own guesses but I'll have to wait and see if they're correct.

Kelsea is a great lead. A strong female leader who's been preparing for her throne all her life. Her teachers - and foster parents - have instilled great wisdom and morality in her, if she can overcome general teenage stubbornness and see it. And so we have a chance to see her grow and transform throughout the book to become someone truly wonderful.

But of course this is just the beginning of her story. The Queen of the Tearling has only a temporary resolution to events that take place in this particular part of the tale. Had the other books been available at this time I would have ripped through them all; I so badly wanted to stay in Johansen's created world longer!

Rating: 4.5/5

The Queen of the Tearling officially hits shelves on July 8. If you're a fan of epic fantasy, great world building, and wonderfully strong female leads, you won't want to miss out on this one. (Plus, apparently movie rights have been sold and Emma Watson has been tapped for the lead!)

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


Sunday, May 18, 2014

New releases 5/20/14

Some of the new titles hitting shelves this week are:

Resistant by Michael Palmer

The Severed Streets by Paul Cornell

The Three by Sarah Lotz

The Devil's Workshop by Alex Grecian

Closed Doors by Lisa O'Donnell

The From-Aways by CJ Hauser

Suffer the Children by Crail DiLouie

Sixth Grave on the Edge by Darynda Jones

American Woman by Robert Pobi

The Heiresses by Sara Shepard

The Boost by Stephen Baker

Cold Shot by Mark Henshaw

Thief's Magic by Trudi Canavan

The One & Only by Emily Giffin

The Stranger You Know by Jane Casey

The Lincoln Myth by Steve Berry

Dangerous Creatures by Kami Garcia

New on DVD:
The Monuments Men
Vampire Academy
Pompeii

Friday, May 16, 2014

The Spymistress by Jennifer Chiaverini

Good morning! Today I'm a stop on the TLC book tour for Jennifer Chiaverini's historical thriller, The Spymistress.

When Richmond seceded from the Union in 1861 and joined forces with the Confederates, Elizabeth Van Lew was beyond distraught. As a women who'd worked to free and educate her own slaves, she stood steadfastly on the side of Lincoln and had hoped that logic would prevail amongst her fellow Virginians. With the nation splitting at the seams and war inevitable, it would seem all hope was lost. But Elizabeth was well placed to help the Union cause. She and her mother began by volunteering at the Libby Prison. From that point on, Elizabeth's name and efforts would go down in history. 

What a fascinating woman! Jennifer Chiaverini's latest is indeed based on a very real person and her very real efforts to support Lincoln and the Union in the Civil War. The real Elizabeth Van Lew was awarded (posthumously) a place in the Military Intelligence Hall of Fame and according to a quote in this piece from Smithsonian.com was "... the most successful Federal spy of the war."

Chiaverini deftly outlines Elizabeth's most noted actions - as can be found in historical note - while also fleshing her out and bringing her quite believably to life in The Spymistress. It's interesting to note too that Mary Bowser (who was the focus of Lois Leveen's The Secrets of Mary Bowser) worked alongside Elizabeth. While the book is again fiction, and there is undoubtedly some creative license involved, Chiaverini does both women great justice.

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

For more on the author and her work you can find her on the web here. You can also like her on Facebook and follow her on Twitter.


Thursday, May 15, 2014

One Night in Winter by Simon Sebag Montefiore

Good morning, readers! Today I'm a stop on the TLC book tour for Simon Sebag Montefiore's latest, One Night in Winter.

It was supposed to be a game. A group of students - almost all children of high ranking members of Russian society - who call themselves the Fatal Romantics. The game was nothing more than a reenactment of Pushkin's duel. But on the evening of the Victory Parade, the day they were set to play, two of them died. Stalin's investigators have been ordered to show no favoritism - not to the children and certainly not to their parents; they are to set an example. And what at first seems like a simple investigation soon becomes a terrifying ordeal.  

I was just a kid in the 80s and not a very observant one when it came to politics, so I have almost no memory of the Cold War itself. But I did grow up in a time when there were many pop culture references to the long running issue. I think it's this that has left me so fascinated by Russian history and historical fiction based around such.

Simon Sebag Montefiore uses real events as the inspiration behind this tale. There was an actual Children's Case, one he discusses in an afterword outlining the history behind the story. The Fatal Romantics and the game are fiction as are many of the characters (a lot of whom are based on real people). The plot is very well built and the story flows immaculately. This is not a heavy, fact-laden historical that reads more like a textbook than fiction. Not at all. This is a captivating and thrilling story that reads fabulously.

I found the kids in particular to be of great interest: Andrei - the son of a State enemy. Andrei's father's crimes aren't detailed to the reader when we meet the son, but his shadow hangs over everything the boy does; Serafima - the daughter of a famous Russian actress (and connected to Montefiore's previous release, Sashenka); George - the son of one of Stalin's closest advisors. George's brother is a pilot whose observances about the planes' tendency to crash aren't welcome in this new Russia... Like Andrei, each of the children lives in their parents' shadows. Of course when those same parents are faced with their children's imprisonment many of them are forced to face hard truths about the government and leader in which they've placed their faith.

Stalinist Russia is a terrifying setting for any story. The kids toe the line because of who their parents are but they are always dangerously close to upsetting the fine balance between what their status allows them and what is really allowed by the government (and by Stalin). And perhaps that's why I found this story and those characters in particular so interesting. They are on the cusp of adulthood but don't truly understand the world around them. Their game - all in fun but with the added allure of the possibility of danger - pushes them over the edge and forces them to face this new horrifying reality.

And there's a mystery of course - what really happened the night of the Victory Parade?

Rating: 4/5

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

For more on the author and his work you can find him on the web here. You can also like him on Facebook.


Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Petals on the Wind by VC Andrews

They're back! The Dollangangers, that is.



Whew - Lifetime fast tracked that one! Flowers in the Attic just aired in January and now the sequel is airing May 26.

And in honor of the airing of Petals on the Wind Pocket Books is holding a Flowers in the Attic/Petals on the Wind sweepstakes. Go to the Pocket Books Facebook page beginning May 20th to enter for a prize pack of Flowers in the Attic and Petals on the Wind, and the Flowers in the Attic DVD.

Petals on the Wind picks up immediately where Flowers in the Attic left off, with the three remaining Dollanganger siblings on the bus to Florida as planned. When Carrie's illness becomes overwhelming they're forced to stop short to seek medical attention. They're fortunate enough to cross paths with Henrietta Beech, whose employer is a doctor. Paul Sheffield not only treats the siblings' ailments but takes them under his wing. And thus the new chapter in their saga begins. 

So in the wake of everything that happened in the attic, apparently Cathy's mental health has suffered more than just a little bit. I was confused by this new temptress Cathy who revels in her newfound power over the opposite sex while also chastising the same men who fall under her spell.

As I'd expected, this sequel is every bit as outrageous as it's predecessor. (I'll surely be tuning in for the movie even if it will be to mainly to follow all the Twitter action that'll no doubt accompany it. The tweets that went with the airing of Flowers in the Attic made it a highly memorable experience!)

And of course it only marks the halfway point with the story since there are two additional titles and a prequel in the series.

*New Dollanganger news! According to this piece from The Hollywood Reporter there are going to be two spinoff titles hitting shelves soon.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Top Ten Tuesday: Books I Almost Put Down But Didn't

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 I Almost Put Down But Didn't.


I have a hard time abandoning books - oftentimes, when I do, I tell myself I'll come back to it (and I have a stack of those!). Here are some I kind of had to force myself to stick through and was so glad that I did:

1. London Falling by Paul Cornell - I'd been really looking forward to this one so it was fortunate that I came across a review by another blogger who'd made some of the same observances I did in the beginning of the book and promised that readers who stuck it out would be rewarded. It was true, the book was spectacular and I'm so glad I didn't give up on it!

2. The Silent Wife by A.S.A. Harrison - this one came with a lot of buzz but I just wasn't loving it - at least not until the very end!

3. Case Histories by Kate Atkinson - I wasn't necessarily going to give up on this one but I did have a few false starts. It started to seem as though I'd never make it through. It is such a wonderful series, though, and one that I highly recommend to anyone looking for clever mysteries with great characters.

4. Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin - the first time I tried to read this I swore it just wasn't for me. It took me over five years to come back to it and now I'm a HUGE fangirl. We'll just say the first try wasn't the right time for me to read it.

5. Jonathan Strange &  Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke - this is seriously one of my favorite books but I struggled with it for a while. My biggest issue was having enough downtime to get through the first part without feeling like I was getting nowhere. But oh, how the book moves after that!

And here are some that I did stick through to the end but would have been better off abandoning:

1. The Witching Hour by Anne Rice - I'd dropped this one with just 100 pages to go. When I finally went back to it I realized I didn't particularly like the way it actually ended. 

2. The Pillow Friend by Lisa Tuttle - I'm almost ashamed at how much I disliked this book because I've read other works by Tuttle and really enjoyed them. 

3. Violets are Blue by James Patterson - I've liked some Patterson and been underwhelmed by others, but this was the one that made me decide not to read him anymore. I know he has a massive, massive following but he's just not my thing.

4. Something Borrowed by Emily Giffin - when I read this, it was because the movie was due out and a coworker raved about this author. I really did not like this book or the movie one bit. 

5. In the Dark of Night by John Saul - sadly I've outgrown Saul. I just don't enjoy his work the same way I did when I was a teen. 

One Hundred Names by Cecelia Ahern

Hi, everyone! Today I'm a stop on the TLC book tour for Cecelia Ahern's latest, One Hundred Names.

Kitty Logan screwed up and it could mean the end of her career. Bombarded by sources she believed to be truthful, Kitty ran with a story that ruined a man's life, and now she's suffering the consequences. Worse yet, her mentor - and one of the few people who still supports (and employs) her - is dying. 

Constance has been Kitty's rock, her moral support, and her guide from the beginning of her career. During their last visit, Constance mentions a story, one she'd hoped to write but never had the chance. She directs Kitty to a file simply called "names" and says she'll explain everything on their next visit. But Constance passes away before that happens. Now Constance's magazine wants to run an homage to her and has given Kitty permission to run with her last story. But when Kitty opens the file all she finds is a list of 100 names. 

From the start of her career, Ahern has been known for her warm and heartfelt stories. P.S. I Love YouLove, Rosie; A Place Called Here... every one of them has a magical element (figuratively,  though some literally) and I've enjoyed each of them. One of the things I love best is that each new book is completely different from the last. Whether it be a story about dying wishes, invisible friends, a strange place to get lost in, each book is a gem that shows great range and talent on the part of the author.

One Hundred Names is certainly no exception. Here we have a mysterious list of 100 names and Kitty's attempts to connect them - to tease out the story that her best friend always intended. And along the way she learns a little bit about herself as well. One Hundred Names is a wonderful feel good story, one I guarantee you'll love! (After my own heavy reading of late it was exactly what I needed and I gobbled it up in one sitting!)

Rating: 5/5

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

For more on Cecelia Ahern and her work you can find her on the web here. You can also like her on Facebook and follow her on Twitter.


The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair by Joël Dicker - a giveaway


It's a countdown to the release of Joël Dicker's debut! You may recall my mentioning this release last month in a Pre Pub Book Buzz post. We're now exactly two weeks from the book's release and I get to offer up a copy to one of you fine folks!

But first, here's the author to tell you a little about the book:



The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair hits shelves Tuesday, May 27.


And now for the giveaway - to enter, simply fill out the Rafflecopter below before Monday, May 26. US/Canada only please.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, May 12, 2014

The Dirty Book Murder by Thomas Shawver + a giveaway

Good morning, readers! Today I'm a stop on the TLC book tour for Thomas Shawver's The Dirty Book Murder. There's a tour wide giveaway here so be sure to read through to the bottom to enter.

Michael Bevan is a bookman. A former lawyer and Marine, Bevan lost his license after he turned to drugs and alcohol in the wake of his wife's tragic death. He managed to pick up the pieces of his life and, with the help of a friend, opened Riverrun Books, a popular used bookstore. But Bevan hopes his used bookstore will soon be able to boast a good collection of rare and collectible titles as well. It is this hope that prompts him to attend an auction advertising "lots of erotic books (includes Shakee Hen)," which he believes may be a collection of rare Japanese art. Sure enough, the collection on auction does indeed contain the piece he'd hoped for - along with a number of other quite valuable titles. Sadly, Bevan and his fellow antiquarian dealers are outbid. One fellow colleague is not to be deterred, however, and Bevan witnesses the man steal a volume from the lot before its new owner claims them. When the same man turns up murdered soon after, with Bevan the most likely suspect, he has no choice but to find out the truth. 

I was a bit surprised at this one. Shawver's debut has a bit of a goofball side to it: Bevan and some of his friends are all a bit humorous and lighthearted, especially at the beginning. The crime itself, though, is much darker than that would have led me to believe. I'm sure some will feel the style and the plot are a bit at odds with one another but I actually found it quite appealing.

The Dirty Book Murder is to be the first in a new series featuring Bevan. I like the idea of the antiquarian book dealer as an unofficial investigator, and found that it wasn't as unlikely as it would seem. Shawver does a good job of building Bevan up as a character whose various capabilities are quite convincing: ex lawyer, ex Marine, and the grandson of the town's former chief of police as well.

All in all, while The Dirty Book Murder did have some minor flaws I associate with first outings (just some general issues with fluidity), it was a great start to a new series - one that I definitely intend to read more of down the line!

Rating: 3.5/5

And now for the giveaway. As I mentioned this is a tour wide giveaway. To enter simply fill out the Rafflecopter below:

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


Sunday, May 11, 2014

New releases 5/13/14

Some of the new titles hitting shelves this week are:

Queen of the Dark Things by C. Robert Cargill

The Son by Jo Nesbo

Bittersweet by Miranda Beverly-Whittemore

Bird Box by Josh Malerman

The Witch of Belladonna Bay by Suzanne Palmieri

A Fatal Enquiry by Will Thomas

Remember Me Like This by Bret Anthony Johnston

Bone Dust White by Karin Salvalaggio

Motherless Child by Glen Hirshberg

Defenders by Will McIntosh

House of the Rising Sun by Kristen Painter

The Kraken Project by Douglas Preston

The Hydra Protocol by David Wellington

The Forbidden by F. R. Tallis

Jack of Spies by David Downing

To Rise Again at a Decent Hour by Joshua Ferris

Debbie Doesn't Do It Anymore by Walter Mosley

Return to the Beach House by Georgia Bockoven

Cutting Teeth by Julia Fierro

The Orenda by Joseph Boyden

The Skin Collector by Jeffery Deaver

Of Neptune by Anna Banks

We Were Liars by E. Lockhart

Raging Star by Moira Young

The A-Word by Joy Preble

New on DVD:
That Awkward Moment
Her
I, Frankenstein
Stalingrad

New reviews at Bookbitch.com:
Black Chalk by Christopher J. Yates
Arclight by Josin L. McQuein

Friday, May 9, 2014

Wolf by Mo Hayder

Yes! It's time for another Mo Hayder post. I look forward to each and every new release by this author with twisted glee and anticipation!

DI Jack Caffery's brother has been missing for decades. In his time as a cop, he has never stopped looking for clues to his brother's fate. When the Walking Man finds a dog sporting the message "Help Us" he asks Jack to step in, promising in exchange to reveal something key in that long ago disappearance. But uncovering the identity of the person behind the message is just part of an increasingly odd and twisted crime. And as Jack investigates, time is surely running out for the family in danger. 

There's not much that matches my excitement in being able to spend an afternoon absorbed in a new book by one of my favorite authors. Mo Hayder's phenomenal plots (really, I'm not joking. They're phenomenal. I've said it before but pieces are in place multiple books ahead of time and it's only in coming across the meaning of those pieces that you then remember where you saw it first!), impeccable attention to detail (those pieces again), and truly creepy way of bringing it all together and all to life keep me coming back for more. And she honestly never disappoints.

It's hard to find something new to say in reviewing a long running series. Especially when I'm trying valiantly, I feel, to keep my fan girl gushing in check while also not giving too much away about the series or the particular installment. This is the seventh book to feature Caffery and while many of them can be read on their own, there are obviously ties to the previous books throughout the series. Jack's brother has been a long running element, one that plays a big role in the character's development. The Walking Man is another key player who has been in the series for a number of titles now - in fact the books featuring him are a sub series the author refers to as the Walking Man Series.

If you do happen to be new to Hayder - and if you haven't read her before I do highly, highly recommend her, but with a warning: the books are quite violent and quite disturbing. If you're sensitive to those things this is not the series for you. Anywho, if you're new to her here's the series list in order as reference:

Birdman
The Treatment
Ritual - Walking Man 1
Skin - Walking Man 2
Gone - Walking Man 3
Poppet - Walking Man 4
Wolf - Walking Man 5

Treat yourself and start from the beginning!

Thursday, May 8, 2014

The Book of You by Claire Kendal

Morning, everyone! Today I'm a stop on the TLC book tour for Claire Kendal's The Book of You.

Clarissa doesn't want Rafe's attention. She doesn't want his affection. She certainly doesn't want his gifts. And yet Rafe will not leave Clarissa be. He's everywhere - waiting for her outside her apartment, following her around... he always seems to know exactly where to find her. In spite of her insistence that he leave her alone, Rafe persists in pursuing Clarissa. And now Clarissa is scared. All of the statistics show that things will get worse but how is Clarissa to protect herself when even the police claim no crime has been committed. A seven week stint on a jury case offers her some relief, but when the case turns out to be too close to home Clarissa realizes just how precarious her safety really is.

This is yet another book I've really been excited about getting to, in part because it's a debut. I love discovering new authors and this one sounded particularly intriguing. Plus, British psychological suspense is almost always a good choice for me.

The Book of You is told in two parts - one through journal entries written by Clarissa, outlining Rafe's behavior. These are interspersed throughout the day to day narrative of the trial (and generally outline Rafe's stalking of the day). So The Book of You really is the book of you - Rafe - as told by Clarissa. The point of her journal is to catalog all of her run ins with him as evidence to hopefully make a case against him.

Kendal does an excellent job bringing Clarissa's fears and frustrations convincingly to life here. In fact, I found it quite hard not to get too emotionally tied into the story. Claire attempts to call the police and is told that unless a crime has occurred there's nothing they can do to help. As Rafe's stalking escalates not only does she become more frightened and frustrated but I as the reader did as well. It makes The Book of You a pretty disturbing read to be quite honest.

The Book of You does remind me just a bit of Elizabeth Haynes's Into the Darkest Corner, enough so I feel comfortable saying that if you enjoyed her debut you should definitely give Claire Kendal's book a read. 

Rating: 4/5



To see more stops on the tour be sure to check out the official TLC tour page here. For updates on Claire Kendal and her work you can like her over on Facebook.