Sunday, May 31, 2015

New Releases 6/2/15

Some of the new titles hitting shelves this week are:

A Head Full of Ghosts by Paul Tremblay

Finders Keepers by Stephen King

Let Me Die In His Footsteps by Lori Roy

The Cherry Harvest by Lucy Sanna

After We Fall by Emma Kavanagh

In the Unlikely Event by Judy Blume

The Sunlit Night by Rebecca Dinerstein

The Fold by Peter Clines

Hotel Moscow by Talia Carner

Nemesis Game by James S. A. Corey

Freedom's Child by Jax Miller

Knight's Shadow by Sebastien de Castell

Eight Hundred Grapes by Laura Dave

The Evidence Room by Cameron Harvey

Enchanted August by Breanda Bowen

Lake Season by Hannah McKinnon

The Reluctant Matador by Mark Pryor

The Ways of the World by Robert Goddard

The Liar's Key by Mark Lawrence

The Kill by Jane Casey

Unidentified Woman #15 by David Housewright

The Governor's Wife by Michael Harvey

From a Drood to a Kill by Simon R. Green

Those Secrets We Keep by Emily Liebert

Manhattan Murder edited by Mary Higgins Clark

Thank You, Goodnight by Andy Abramowitz

Palace of Treason by Jason Matthews

From a High Tower by Mercedes Lackey

The Status of All Things by Liz Fenton & Lisa Steinke

Eeny Meeny by M. J. Arlidge

Wedding Royal by Meg Cabot

Sweet by Emmy Laybourne

The Hunted by Charlie Higson

The Good Girls by Sara Shepard

Joyride by Anna Banks

The Summer of Chasing Mermaids by Sarah Ockler

Because You'll Never Meet Me by Leah Thomas

More Happy Than Not by Adam Silvera

The Devil You Know by Trish Doller

Charlie, Presumed Dead by Anne Heltzel

New on DVD:
Focus
Monsters: Dark Continent
Jupiter Ascending

New reviews at Bookbitch.com:
Daughter of Deep Silence by Carrie Ryan

Friday, May 29, 2015

Short Fiction Friday: Nightlife: Hazardous Material by Matthew Quinn Martin

Jarrod Foster makes ends meet doing cleanup jobs in and around New York City. Working hand in hand with hazardous materials like asbestos and other things most won't deign to go near, he and his boss handle the tough stuff readying places for renovation or tear down. Their latest job is an old Brooklyn roller rink with a dark and sinister past. Of course Jarrod and his boss aren't aware of the crime that happened there, not until they find the sealed arcade room.

Jarrod wasn't around then, but his boss remembers the massacre that took place all those years ago. The arcade killings shocked the nation, giving rise to more anti video game propaganda. The crime has been all but forgotten over thirty years on, but everyone's about to get a big reminder. 

Nightlife: Hazardous Material is a prequel in Matthew Quinn Martin's series featuring The Division. Readers were introduced to them in 2013 with the release of Nightlife, which takes place somewhat concurrent to the events of "Hazardous Material" (there's a brief mention). I, however, have not yet read Nightlife. Admittedly, some readers might find this e short confusing as an intro to the world. I found it intriguing instead. It's a taste, just a sip of the premise bound in a nice and neat tale about a character who's down on his luck and becomes wrapped up in something truly terrifying.

I imagine if you've read Nightlife, "Hazardous Material" will be a nice little chance to tide yourself over until the release of the sequel in June. It's my understanding that Nightlife has a bit of a cliffhanger ending and that folks have been waiting for As the Worm Turns to find out what happens. (I'll be diving into them both shortly.) If you're new to the stories "Hazardous Material" is out now for just .99 and June will see all three installments released as one in Nightlife: Night Terrors.

Rating: 3/5

Thursday, May 28, 2015

It's Not Me, It's You by Mhairi McFarlane + a Giveaway

Hi, all! Today I'm a stop on the TLC book tour for Mhairi McFarlane's latest, It's Not Me, It's You. Thanks to the publisher I'm able to offer up one copy in a giveaway. Be sure to read through to the end to enter.

Paul and Delia have been together for ten years. They're a great pair - Delia knows it and she's ready to make it official. But it appears Paul is anything but ready to settle down. Delia pops the question herself getting a less than enthusiastic yes from Paul and quick follow up of a text meant for his girl on the side. 

Uh oh. 

With her whole life up in the air, Delia knows she's got some decisions to make. And none of them are going to be easy. 

Ha! Delia's life changing events are hopefully above and beyond what most of us will ever face but I'd bet not a single one of us is totally immune to upheaval or Delia herself. Yes, she's a character who's corner you'll want to be in. She's feisty and funny, though her certainty that she'll forgive Paul early on is a bit... frustrating. Personally, reconciliation would not be on the table were it me. (Don't worry, it's not spoilers to say this. She admits it EARLY on.)

Normally a book like this could be uncomfortable, especially if you're facing some of the same issues Delia is faced with. I'd have to say in this case I'd recommend diving into this one even if (or especially if) you feel like your whole life is filled with uncertainty. Delia will make you smile! She might even make you laugh out loud. A lot.

McFarlane excels at awkward. Awkward situations. Awkward conflict. Awkward humor. Wait, the humor isn't ALL awkward. But it is all funny. And it's exactly that combination of awkward and funny that makes It's Not Me, It's You feel real. There's a charm to her writing that not all of the comparable genre reads truly capture. It means the difference between liking a read like this and LOVING a read like this. And let's be clear, I LOVED It's Not Me, It's You.

Rating: 4.5/5

And now for the giveaway. As I mentioned above, I'm able to offer up one copy to one of you lucky readers! To enter just fill out the Rafflecopter below before Monday, June 15. Open US/Canada only and no PO boxes please.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


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

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


Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Daughter of Deep Silence by Carrie Ryan

Frances was fourteen when she lost her family on the Persephone. Out of the over three hundred people on board, she was just one of four to make it off and just one of three who actually survived. But Frances's ordeal was far from over. The other two survivors, Senator Alastair Wells and his son Grayer - rescued days before Frances, claimed the ship was taken by a rogue wave. But Frances knows the truth: the Persephone was attacked. 

For four years, Frances has kept the truth about Persephone to herself. The only person she's confided in is her adoptive father, Cecil O'Martin. But now Cecil is dead and it's time for Senator Wells and his son to pay for their part in ruining everything Frances lived for.

So, the cruise ship setting is a bit different from the Bermuda Triangle and the nautical horror I said I wished for, but I have to say, I'll take a cruise ship as an alternative any day!

I wasn't sure that this book was going to play out in a way that made any sense at all! Frances survives a brutal attack and is rescued by Cecil - the father of her cruise ship friend, Libby. Libby also escaped Persephone but died before they could be rescued (something that has haunted Frances in the four years since). Libby's father believes Frances when she tells him what happened and his solution is to take her under his wing - as Libby.

Yes, Frances assumes the identity of Libby O'Martin, with Libby's father's help. And for four years, while she's away at boarding school, no one questions it. But when she returns home as Libby and has to convince people who actually knew the girl that she's her, I thought for sure Ryan hadn't thought the story through!

But indeed she had. Frances's transformation into Libby is explained and is pretty believable. It was interesting to watch as she struggled internally, fighting her Frances tendencies - including her feelings for Grey. And through it all it's the thought of revenge that drives her. Her plot is intricate, one worthy of the tv show folks will no doubt compare the book to, and plays out much as you'd expect it would. But that doesn't take away from the overall entertainment one bit.

I did think the explanation behind the attack could have used more oomph and more detail (and more cruise ship!). The end also came way too soon for me. WAY too soon. Surprising, I know considering it is a longer teen read than usual, but it felt short nonetheless (better than the alternative of feeling LONG).

Did I love and adore it as much as the Forest of Hands and Teeth books, not really. But did I enjoy it overall. Definitely!

Rating: 4/5

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

The Book of Life by Deborah Harkness - Excerpt + a Giveaway

The Book of Life, the third installment in Deborah Harkness's All Souls Trilogy, releases today in paperback and to celebrate the release there are a TON of giveaways going on. The publisher is giving away a super neat board game via Twitter and here on the blog you can enter to win a copy of the paperback - be sure to scroll through to the end to enter. But first, the publisher has very kindly provided an excerpt to tease your reading tastebuds on this book birthday!

If you haven't read the trilogy, there MAY be spoilers here for you. 

THE BOOK OF LIFE by Deborah Harkness 

Chapter 7 excerpt

I stood in Sarah’s stillroom and stared through the dust on the surface of the window’s wavy glass. The whole house needed a good airing. The stiff brass latch on the sash resisted my attempts at first, but the swollen frame finally gave up the fight and the window rocketed upward, quivering with indignation at the rough treatment.

“Deal with it,” I said crossly, turning away and surveying the room before me. It was a familiarly strange place, this room where my aunts had spent so much of their time and I so little. Sarah left her usual disorderly ways at the threshold. In here all was neat and tidy, surfaces clear, mason jars lined up on the shelves, and wooden drawers labeled with their contents.

CONEFLOWER, FEVERFEW, MILK THISTLE, SKULLCAP, BONESET, YARROW, MOOWORT.

Though the ingredients for Sarah’s craft were not arranged alphabetically, I was sure some witchy principle governed their placement, since she was always able to reach instantly for the herb or seed she needed.

Sarah had taken the Bishop grimoire with her to Sept-Tours, but now it was back where it belonged: resting on what remained of an old pulpit that Em had bought in one of Bouckville’s antique shops. She and Sarah had sawed off its supporting pillar, and now the lectern sat on the old kitchen table that had come here with the first Bishops at the end of the eighteenth century. One of the table’s legs was markedly shorter than the other— nobody knew why—but the unevenness of the floorboards meant that its surface was surprisingly level and solid. As a child I’d thought it was magic. As an adult I knew it was dumb luck.

Various old appliances and a battered electrical-outlet strip were strewn around Sarah’s work surface. There was an avocado green slow cooker, a venerable coffeemaker, two coffee grinders, and a blender. These were the tools of the modern witch, though Sarah kept a big black cauldron by the fireplace for old times’ sake. My aunts used the slow cooker for making oils and potions, the coffee grinders and blender for preparing incense and pulverizing herbs, and the coffee machine for brewing infusions. In the corner stood a shining white specimen fridge with a red cross on the door, unplugged and unused.

“Maybe Matthew can find something more high-tech for Sarah,” I mused aloud. A Bunsen burner. A few alembics, perhaps. Suddenly I longed for Mary Sidney’s well-equipped sixteenth-century laboratory. I looked up, half hoping to see the splendid murals of alchemical processes that decorated her walls at Baynard’s Castle.

Instead dried herbs and flowers hung from twine strung up between the exposed rafters. I could identify some of them: the swollen pods of nigella, bursting with tiny seeds; prickly topped milk thistle; long-stemmed mullein crowned with the bright yellow flowers that earned them the name of witches’ candles; stalks of fennel. Sarah knew every one of them by sight, touch, taste, and smell. With them she cast spells and manufactured charms. The dried plants were gray with dust, but I knew better than to disturb them. Sarah would never forgive me if she came into her stillroom and discovered nothing but stems.

The stillroom had once been the farmhouse’s kitchen. One wall was occupied by a huge fireplace complete with a wide hearth and a pair of ovens. Above it was a storage loft accessible by a rickety old ladder. I’d spent many a rainy afternoon there, curled up with a book listening to the rain patter against the roof. Corra was up there now, one eye open in lazy interest.

I sighed and set the dust motes dancing. It was going to take water— and lots of elbow grease—to make this room welcoming again. And if my mother had known something that might help us find the Book of Life, this is where I would find it.

A soft chime sounded. Then another.

Goody Alsop had taught me how to discern the threads that bound the world and pull on them to weave spells that were not in any grimoire. The threads were around me all the time, and when they brushed together, they made a sort of music. I reached out and snagged a few strands on my fingers. Blue and amber—the colors that connected the past to the present and the future. I’d seen them before, but only in corners where unsuspecting creatures wouldn’t be caught in time’s warp and weft.

Not surprisingly, time was not behaving as it should in the Bishop house. I twisted the blue and amber threads into a knot and tried to push them back where they belonged, but they sprang back, weighting the air with memories and regret. A weaver’s knot wouldn’t fix what was wrong here.

My body was damp with perspiration, even though all I’d done was displace the dust and dirt from one location to another. I’d forgotten how hot Madison could be at this time of year. Picking up a bucket full of dingy water, I pushed against the stillroom door. It didn’t budge.

“Move, Tabitha,” I said, nudging the door another inch in hopes of dislodging the cat.

Tabitha yowled. She refused to join me in the stillroom. It was Sarah and Em’s domain, and she considered me an invader.

“I’ll set Corra on you,” I threatened.

Tabitha shifted. One paw stretched forward past the crack, then the other as she slipped away. Sarah’s cat had no wish to battle my familiar, but her dignity forbade a hurried retreat.

From The Book of Life by Deborah Harkness, published on May 26, 2015 by Penguin Books, an imprint of Penguin Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Random House LLC. Copyright by Deborah Harkness, 2015.

And now for the giveaway! One lucky winner will get a copy of the brand spanking new paperback, courtesy of the publisher. To enter to win, simply fill out the Rafflecopter below before Monday, June 8. US only and no PO boxes. 


Top Ten Tuesday: Books I Plan to Have In My Beach Bag

I've decided to jump on board with Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week the topic is: summer reads/books I plan to have in my beach bag. 

Monday, May 25, 2015

Disclaimer by Renée Knight + a Giveaway

Good morning, readers! Today I'm a stop on the TLC book tour for Renée Knight's debut, Disclaimer. I've also got an extra copy to giveaway, so be sure to scroll through to the bottom to enter.

It begins with a book. The Perfect Stranger by E. J. Preston, a novel found amongst their things as they unpack and set up their new house. Catherine thought maybe it was one of her husband's but he's never seen it. 

The book bears and eerie resemblance to Catherine's own life. An event she's kept secret for so many years. A secret she's kept from her husband and her son, now laid out in print by an anonymous author. Her son is given a copy. Stacks arrive at her office. It's sold by her local bookstore. And now her husband has read it as well. And no one would know that it's connected to Catherine if the author hadn't told them so. 

Disclaimer is dark and twisted, laid out in such a way as to keep the reader both on the edge of their seat and essentially in the dark until the very end. Sure, details are shared as the story progresses - the identity of the author, the reason for the book's printing, the plot of slow revenge that's being undertaken. But the truth doesn't come out until close to the final pages. And Catherine keeps her own truth from everyone, even the reader, until the very end.

Oh, this book was so deliciously paced. The way Knight teases the story is agonizing and fabulous! It is, as I said, a truly dark and twisted read. Both the "author's" motivations and the truth behind The Perfect Stranger are likely going to hit a nerve with a lot of readers. For me, there was a definite sadness to the tale. Not tearjerking sadness, but an unfairness to it all. Honestly, it's a bit hard to put into words without explaining, so I'll leave it there, but this is one that I not only enjoyed for the plot but would love to discuss with someone! So everyone go out and read it :)

(Amazingly, or maybe not, Knight took part in the same "Write a Novel" course as S. J. Watson. Surely it's no coincidence that two fabulous debuts have come out of that course.)

Rating: 4.5/5

And now for the giveaway. I've got one copy up for grabs - to throw your name in the hat, fill out the Rafflecopter below before Monday, June 8. US only please.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


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


Sunday, May 24, 2015

New Releases 5/26/15

Some of the new titles hitting shelves this week are:

Dietland by Sarai Walker

Beauty by Sarah Pinborough

What Lies Behind by J. T. Ellison

Things You Won't Say by Sarah Pekkanen

Constant Fear by Daniel Palmer

Letters to the Lost by Iona Grey

The Long Black Curl by Alex Bledsoe

Written in the Blood by Stephen Lloyd Jones

Balm by Dolen Perkins-Valdez

Radiant Angel by Nelson Demille

The Virgin's Daughter by Laura Andersen

The Rocks by Peter Nichols

Remember Me This Way by Sabine Durrant

The Storm Murders by John Farrow

The Shore by Sara Taylor

Secrets of State by Matthew Palmer

Piranha by Clive Cussler

Independence Day by Ben Coes

Daughter of Deep Silence by Carrie Ryan

I Am Princess X by Cherie Priest

Nowhere But Here by Katie McGarry

The Water Knife by Paolo Bagicalupi

The Edge of Shadows by Elizabeth George

The Death Code by Lindsay Cummings

Kissing in America by Margo Rabb

Tiny Pretty Things by Sona Charaipontra

New on DVD:
The Loft
Seventh Son

New reviews at Bookbitch.com:
Love and Miss Communication by Elyssa Friedland

Friday, May 22, 2015

The Jesus Cow by Michael Perry

Hello, everyone! Today I'm a stop on the TLC book tour for Michael Perry's latest, The Jesus Cow.

When Harley Jackson's cow Tina Turner gives birth to a calf sporting a Jesus shaped birthmark, on Christmas Eve no less, he knows he's in for trouble. Harley isn't one to go looking for attention, in fact it's exactly the opposite. He loves the quiet life. But as much as he'd like to keep this holy cow under wraps, the calf is soon out of the bag. And with a local land owner harassing Harley in hopes of drawing attention away from his own failing investment, the small time cattle farmer has no choice but to take advantage of the Jesus cow's discovery. Of course this miracle quickly becomes exactly the burden Harley knew it would be!  

Sorry! Sorry! I just can't help it with the cheesy puns on this one! It's appropriate, I think, considering the kind of humor featured in The Jesus Cow. It's part feel good, part slapstick, and just a hint of dark humor as well. Just a hint. Think Christopher Moore with less pessimism. I mean it is written by a man who's website is SneezingCow.com after all.

But again, Perry has that feel good thing going on too. Harley is a charming and lovable character, in spite of his shyness and his attempts to fly under the radar. We as the readers get to know him, though, warts and all. And frankly he's just a really good guy! From his clumsy attempts to hide the cow to his even clumsier attempt at a relationship, you kind of just want to hug him.

Of course he's not the only character in the book. There's Klute Sorensen, the man who's trying to get both Harley and Maggie, the longtime widow who runs the salvage and tow business, to cave to his commands. There's Billy, Harley's neighbor and best friend, who lives in a trailer full of cats and uses a sighted shotgun to try and protect Harley and the cow from the frantic faithful. There's Carolyn Sawchuck, the heavy handed academic who thinks she's going to bring culture and change to the town of Swivel. And that's just the main few. Perry populates Swivel with fabulous people, good and bad, well meaning and misguided, and pretty much all fun.

Reading The Jesus Cow is pure entertainment. It's perfect for anyone looking for a good laugh and some sarcastic wit laced with a positive outlook.

Rating: 4/5

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

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


Thursday, May 21, 2015

Meridian by Josin McQuein

Nanobots! The Fade are nanobot people!

I did warn you yesterday that there would be Arclight spoilers. Just thought I'd get them out of the way.

Things have changed in the Arclight, some would say for the better. Those they'd thought were lost to the Dark have returned and the truth about the Fade has finally been revealed. What's more, the new discovery that not all of the Fade are bad has given room to a bit more freedom in the Arclight. But when one of their own is infected, the old fears rise again. 

It turns out there are different tribes of Fade within the Dark. Bolt, Rue, and Marina's family have been trying to protect the Arclight, but the enemy Fade are closing in. And then the Arclight discovers proof of other survivors. Other survivors who don't have the benefit of a friendly group of Fade to help them. Other survivors who may know of a way to beat the enemy Fade.

Meridian proved to be a great follow up to Arclight, but one that does leave a lot of questions. I read that in a perfect world the author would actually write two additional Arclight novels - a third story to round everything out and a prequel telling Honoria's story. And man do I wish these books were happening!

First it's just not a world I want to be done with. The enemy are man made nanobots! Or, nanites and they're called in the book. Nanites that were created to help humanity and ended up being its downfall. The Arclight folks have discovered a cure, but it's not 100% foolproof.

Marina is plagued by her other self, Cherish. She battles constantly with the split feelings and the sense of belonging elsewhere. But Marina/Cherish don't truly belong with the Fade or with the people of the Arclight. It's something I expect would play out even further if there were to be a third installment but it does provide a good bit of conflict for our heroine in this second part of the series.

We get a few other perspectives in this second installment: Tobin and Honoria. Tobin and some of the others discover that their parents have been hiding a pretty key bit of info from them their entire lives. Info that Honoria has a hand in keeping from them as well - which of course is more ammunition for both Marina and the reader to hate her. But Honoria shares her journal with Marina. The journal, written by a very young Honoria, provides important insight into both the world they live in and the character herself.

I'm disappointed that there apparently won't be more books in the series. I did so enjoy both of the books! I also feel extremely guilty for not having covered them here on the blog sooner.

Rating: 4.5/5

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Arclight by Josin L. McQuein

In a future where darkness has taken over, the Arclight is the last hope for humanity: it protects its citizens from the Dark and the Fade that occupy it. Just one touch from a Fade is certain death, leaving these last surviving humans no choice but to stay within the light by any means necessary. With walls like a fortress and light all around them, the Arclight was built for maximum security and survival. But now the Arclight is under attack and any breach of the light is an opportunity for the Fade to enter.

This is the only world Marina knows. But Marina wasn't raised in the Arclight. Marina was saved from the Dark, rescued from the Fade. She has no memory of anything from before and no idea that the Fade have come specifically for her.

This is a bit of a blast from my reading past since I didn't cover the book upon initially reading it. I did recently tackle the sequel, though, and thought it was high time!

I feel like a lot of people missed out on this duology and I honestly don't know why. Well, I mean I do know why - I never came across much talk about it at all when it released back in 2013 - but I don't know WHY. In terms of YA releases - heck in terms of releases in general - I thought Arclight was pretty awesome. It's a combination of horror and sci fi set in a world that totally rocks!

The world exists in three parts: Light, Grey, and Dark. Humans live in the Light and the Fade live in the Dark. Only the Grey stands between them, and it's fading fast. The Dark seems to spread almost daily and only the bright lamps surrounding the Arclight hold it back. Within the facility, security measures are in place to guard against infiltration but even at the beginning of the story those measures are failing and the book begins with the Fade inside the Arclight.

And of course we meet Marina at the very beginning as well. She's one cool cat and one of my favorite teen heroines of late. She's got more to deal with than most girls her age, even aside from the world she lives in: some of the Arclight folks are suspicious of Marina. She came back from the dark, after all, when the Arclight has lost so many to it already. And Marina has no memory of her life before being brought to the Arclight. No idea where she comes from or who she really is.

Josin McQuein really does an excellent job of building this unique world while also developing her characters. She crash lands the reader right into the middle of the action and the middle of the world, dropping details and hints along the way. I never felt lost, I never felt confused, the plot moved along at a constant quick pace, and amazingly neither the plot or the characters suffer for it. It's an art!

There is a bit of a love triangle, one that I'd hope even the most cynical and hardhearted reader wouldn't hold against the books considering how it's brought into play. I thought it worked quite well, to be honest, and never found that it overshadowed the overall plot. (It plays a more significant role in book two but still doesn't take over in my opinion.)

I don't want to ruin anything for any potential readers, so I won't give any more details on the plot. I will warn you, though, that I'm planning to post a review of Meridian tomorrow and it'll have Arclight spoilers, so do be wary :)

Rating: 4.5/5

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Let Me Die in His Footsteps by Lori Roy + a Giveaway

Hi, all! Today I'm a stop on the TLC book tour for Lori Roy's latest, Let Me Die in His Footsteps.

It's Annie Holleran's day of ascension, the halfway mark between her fifteenth and sixteenth birthdays. Tradition says that a girl who looks into a well at exactly midnight will see the face of her intended. But Annie sees nothing but a dead body. 

The body is that of Cora Baine, the only Baine left in their little town after Annie's Aunt Juna led the eldest Baine boy straight to the hangman's noose. Aunt Juna and the six other Baine boys left town soon after, a relief to pretty much everyone including Juna's family. But the death of the Baine matriarch brings the return of Ellis Baine and, some fear, the wicked Juna as well. 

Ooh, this made for great late night reading! Roy's latest is infused with the scent of lavender, but underneath it all is an ominous tone.

Annie has grown up knowing that Juna isn't her aunt at all. She shares the same golden hair and black eyes, after all. And at some point she overheard or simply came to understand that Juna was in fact her mother. It's a kernel of knowledge that's plagued the girl ever since, that and the fear that she'll end up just as bad as Juna was supposed to have been.

Of course as the reader I did have to wonder if Juna was really as bad as they said she was. Mary Holleran, Annie's grandmother, has foresight (know-how) that both Juna and Annie share, and Mary herself predicted Juna would be a bad seed. Annie's own story begins in the shadow of Juna's and Roy alternates chapters between the two (Juna's story is laid out from her sister's perspective).

The story Roy tells is incredibly gripping - definitely one I should have started well before bedtime. But I don't regret reading late! It held me in its clutches from the very beginning and all the way through to the Author's Note at the end. Interestingly, it is inspired by the very last "lawful public hanging" though the tale itself isn't really based on those crimes at all.

Rating: 4/5

Let Me Die in His Footsteps officially hits shelves June 2. If you're a fan of atmospheric suspense, you'll want to add this one to your must have list for sure!

As part of the tour, I'm pleased as punch to be able to offer up one copy to one of you lucky readers! To throw your name in the hat, simply fill out the Rafflecopter below before Monday, June 1. Open US/Canada only and no PO boxes please.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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

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


Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten TBR Titles Uncovered by Spring Cleaning

I've decided to jump on board with Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week the topic is a freebie so I chose ten TBR titles I recently "rediscovered" on my shelves while doing some spring cleaning.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Crossfades by William Todd Rose + a Giveaway

Good morning, everyone! Today I'm part of the TLC book tour for William Todd Rose's Crossfades. There's a tour wide giveaway on this one, so do be sure to scroll through to the end for that.

Chuck has an unusual job. Yes, he gets up every morning and hops on the subway just like everyone else. But when he gets off, Chuck takes a second train with a very limited passenger list. His office lies hidden fifteen stories underground and his officemate, the one who basically gives Chuck his assignments, is comatose. 

See Chuck works for a group that helps send the souls of the dead where they belong. Sometimes those souls become trapped between our world and the next. They call this the Crossfades, a borderland the soul creates and inhabits when they aren't ready to believe they've died. It's Chuck's job to enter the Crossfades and convince the soul that their new reality is anything but. It isn't terribly difficult or dangerous at Chuck's level, but when a routine job turns into something much more sinister Chuck soon finds his very existence at risk. 

This is a cool concept for a series: a super secret organization that recruits employees through standard psychological tests - you know, the ones they do in college. I myself had to participate in at least three during my Psych 101 semester as part of my grade. Anyway, the test was just the beginning for Chuck and he soon found himself part of said organization.

The Crossfades were definitely cool. William Todd Rose describes these magical and horrific worlds with such great detail, lulling us in the beginning with a pleasant alternate world before throwing us into a nightmare created by a mind so twisted even our hero may have trouble defeating it.

Crossfades is just the first novella to feature The Institute. It's out now from Penguin Random's Hydra imprint. The second installment, Bleedovers, follows in September and I for one am looking forward to seeing what's in store. I'm particularly interested in learning more about The Institute itself and hope that'll play a larger role the second time around. Their basics are included in this first outing but that's about it. Though that certainly makes them more mysterious, it also left me with a lot of questions. Questions regarding some of the why, though, nothing pertaining to the actual story itself. Basically William Todd Rose did his job, he left me wanting - and looking forward to - more.

Rating: 3.5/5

And now for the giveaway. Again this is a tour wide giveaway hosted by the publisher. To enter simply fill out the Rafflecopter below:

a Rafflecopter giveaway


To see more stops on the tour be sure to check out the official TLC tour page here. Check back here in September for the review of Bleedovers!

For more on William Todd Rose and his work, you can visit his website here. You can also like him on Facebook and follow him on Twitter.



Sunday, May 17, 2015

New Releases 5/19/15

Some of the new titles hitting shelves this week include:

It's Not Me, It's You by Mhairi McFarlane

The Gracekeepers by Kirsty Logan

Disclaimer by Renée Knight

Uprooted by Naoli Novik

The Scarlet Gospels by Clive Barker

The Ice Twins by S. K. Tremayne

Radiant State by Peter Higgins

The Hanged Man by P. N. Elrod

Little Black Lies by Sharon Bolton

Seveneves by Neal Stephenson

I, Ripper by Stephen Hunter

Eighth Grave After Dark by Darynda Jones

The Harvest Man by Alex Grecian

The Jesus Cow by Michael Perry

Bone to Be Wild by Carolyn Haines

The Sweetheart Deal by Polly Dugan

The Perfect Letter by Chris Harrison

Traitor's Gate by Charlie Newton

Flame Out by M. P. cooley

Beach Town by Mary Kay Andrews

Robert B. Parker's Kickback by Ace Atkins

The Life and Death of Sophie Stark by Anna North

Letters to Zell by Camille Griep

Death Ex Machina by Gary Corby

A School for Unusual Girls by Kathleen Baldwin

Dangerous Deception by Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl

Eternity's Wheel by Neil Gaiman, Michael Reaves, & Mallory Reaves

Off the Page by Jodi Picoult & Samantha van Leer

Illusionarium by Heather Dixon

Lion Heart by A. C. Gaughen

Three Day Summer by Sarvenaz Tash

Hold Me Like a Breath by Tiffany Schmidt

The Last Good Day of the Year by Jessica Warman

New on DVD:
Cymbeline
Leviathan
Hot Tub Time Machine 2
American Sniper

New reviews at Bookbitch.com:
Orient by Christopher Bollen

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Pre Pub Book Buzz: Fearless by Elliott James

Ooh, ooh, ooh! There's a new Pax Arcana book coming out in August! There are two new e shorts as well! ("Bulls Rush In" is out now and "Talking Dirty" is out 5/19.)

I adore this series. It's a little like Grimm if Grimm was a book series and if Nick was a former member of the Knights Templar and a werewolf. Ok, it's really nothing like Grimm except that it's urban fantasy and I imagine John Charming equally as hot as Nick. But you know, if you like Grimm you should probably give Elliott James's books a try...

Here's a bit about Fearless from Goodreads:

When your last name is Charming, rescuing virgins comes with the territory, even when the virgin in question is a nineteen-year-old college boy.

Someone, somewhere, has declared war on Terry Perez, and that someone has a long list of magical predators on their rolodex. The good news is that Terry lives in a town where Ted Cahill is the new sheriff and old ally of John Charming.

The attacks on Terry seem to be a pattern, and the more John and his new team follow that thread, the deeper they find themselves in a maze of supernatural threats, family secrets, and age-old betrayals. The more John learns, the more convinced he becomes that Terry Perez isn't just a victim, he's a sacrifice waiting to happen. And that thread John's following? It's really a fuse...


If you haven't started these, definitely do yourself a favor and get cracking! And if you're wary, give one of the shorts a try. They're super fun!

Fearless is out this August from Orbit.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Things You've Inherited From Your Mother by Hollie Adams

Happy Friday, readers! Today I'm a stop on the TLC book tour for Hollie Adams's Things You've Inherited From Your Mother.

Carrie's mother has died. And since she has this whole grieving thing down, she's decided her time can be best used putting together a self help book for others in the same situation. Post its? Check. Title? Working on it. Appropriate response to losing your mother? Carrie has no clue. 

Imagine if you have a younger, extremely immature sister or friend who's basically letting their life fall apart around them. That's Carrie. She's a mess! But honestly, her mom doesn't sound much better. Course that's all through Carrie's eyes, so who knows.

Hollie Adams's debut is funny, in that sort of WRONG way. Not that Carrie isn't funny, but that she's so incredibly out there as a character that if you really knew anyone like her you would not find it funny! I couldn't help laughing out loud.

Things You've Inherited From Your Mother is short. Super short; longer than a novella but shorter than a novel. And even if you hate Carrie, you'll probably get a kick out of her antics and their results. Like her seriously bad choice of funeral attire, her attempt to go around workplace dress code and do as little actual productive work as possible, and her ongoing war with her mom's cat. Yeah, it's all ridiculous and amusing in my opinion. And hey, even if you don't - it's short.

But I liked it. I liked the snarky humor. I liked seeing someone who's worse off than everyone I know try to muddle through adulthood. 'Cause really, aren't we all trying to muddle through adulthood? (It probably helps that I know NO ONE like Carrie!) And yeah, it's sad that the story begins with the death of her mother, but honestly if Carrie was flat out on her couch, inconsolable with grief, I likely wouldn't have been able to handle the book at all.

Rating: 4/5

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


Thursday, May 14, 2015

The Haunting of Sunshine Girl by Paige McKenzie & Alyssa Sheinmel

I have to start this review by pointing out that I had no prior knowledge of The Haunting of Sunshine Girl YouTube show. None. But when I came across a new YA horror release about a girl who sees ghosts... well, yeah I wanted to read it. And I did immediately look into the show, but I was curious to see if the book could stand on its own even for folks like me who hadn't watched before reading. The good news - great news - is that it most definitely does!

Sixteen-year-old Sunshine and her mother have just relocated to Ridgemont from Austin and the teen is none too pleased about the move. She's left behind her home, her best friend, and the warmer climes of Texas for wet and muggy Washington state - you wouldn't be jazzed either. Sunshine is determined to make the best of it, though, even when the house they're renting turns out to be creepy as all get out and haunted to boot! But Sunshine's mother isn't having it. In fact, the longer they're there, the more obstinate her mother becomes until Sunshine realizes that there's something else going on. 

With her one and only Ridgemont friend by her side, Sunshine soon learns exactly why she's so attuned to the spirit(s) sharing her new abode AND why her mother is apparently oblivious. 

The Haunting of Sunshine Girl is the start of a new series with a pretty cool premise. It does apparently follow some of the show set up (just based on what I've read) but, as I mentioned above, doesn't rely on the reader being familiar with the show at all. 

The chills are pretty great and become more intense as the book progresses, though this is definitely on the lighter side of horror. And there's no fizzle! What's more, the authors inject just the right amount of comic relief with Sunshine's sunny (read sarcastic) disposition. But best of all, I found the explanation about Sunshine's seeing ghosts to be fabulously fun and a great set up for a series! 

The Haunting of Sunshine Girl was a one-sitting read for sure, and one I definitely recommend if you're into haunted house tales. I'll definitely be looking forward to reading more!

Rating: 4/5

I'm counting this towards my sadly behind 2015 Debut Author Challenge. Sheinmel does have previous releases but McKenzie does not - somewhat counts as a debut in my opinion.


Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Love and Miss Communication by Elyssa Friedland + a Giveaway

Thirty-four-year-old Evie Rosen is at a crossroads. Still smarting over a breakup with her ex - who claimed he was against marriage - and seemingly unable to find Mister Right, she finds herself increasingly fed up with the dating game and everything that goes with it. But at least she has her career. 

Until she doesn't. 

After being fired over a bevy of personal emails the company claims broke their server, Evie decides enough is enough. No more internet. No more email. And best of all, no more checking up on her ex. Of course the whole thing is prompted not only by her firing but also by the discovery that the never-going-to-marry ex has gotten hitched! When her beloved grandmother is diagnosed with breast cancer, Evie feels even more pressure to meet someone and settle down. But with online connection being everything these days, Evie soon discovers that her lifestyle change is affecting her relationships with both friends and family. 

Summer is just around the bend, folks, but you'd never know it where I live. Nope, we had snow over the weekend! Nevertheless, or maybe thanks to that, I've definitely been craving some lighter fare to brighten my mood and Elyssa Friedland's debut promised just that.

I did come away with mixed feelings about the book as a whole Much of the first chapters felt quite similar to various other reads in this vein. While that's by no means a deal breaker for me, I had hoped that Friedland would separate herself from the pack just a tiny bit early on.

Fortunately the book picks up around the time Evie's grandmother gets sick. The relationship between Evie and her grandmother is great. Taking the story beyond simply being concerned about settling down to being concerned about potentially losing someone she's so close to (someone who has stressed the fact that she'd like to see Evie married before she dies) added a depth to the story that was missing in the first chapters.

I had to applaud Evie for attempting to unplug. Some of her friends were a little less accepting of her choice and I definitely felt for Evie there. Berating someone over missing evite-only events after they've told you to pick up the phone instead of emailing would seriously put me over the edge! I did quite enjoy the way Evie's love life and work life progressed. And I loved Evie's friends as a whole.

While I can't say reading Love and Miss Communication improved my weather situation, it definitely left me with the warm and fuzzies upon turning the final page. And I get to share that with one of you lucky readers! I've got one copy of Love and Miss Communication up for grabs here. To throw your name in the hat, simply fill out the Rafflecopter below before Monday, May 25. US only and no PO boxes please.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Top Ten Tuesday: Authors I Really Want to Meet

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 authors I really want to meet. 

I'm fortunate enough to have met LOTS of awesome authors. I've been to a ton of author events. I've even been to an author conference. I've met some of my absolute favorites, something I NEVER imagined would happen. Of course there are always more I'd love to meet and if you asked me, my list might be different depending on what day of the week it is!

Love is Red by Sophie Jaff

Good morning, everyone! Today I'm kicking off the TLC book tour for Sophie Jaff's Love is Red.

In the heat of the summer, the Sickle Man terrorizes the city. Katherine, like every other New York woman, is well aware of the killer who has brutally murdered three women in their own apartments. But what Katherine doesn't know is that the killer, a man hiding in plain site, has followed her through the ages. She is his ultimate goal, a victim he's grooming to perfection. And as the death count rises Katherine ignores the warnings that surround her, ignorant to the fact that the killer is someone she already knows. 

Hm, this is one book that kind of baffles me as far as actually reviewing, but I'm going to try anyway. I really liked it. I mean REALLY liked it. But I kind of have no clue what was going on. Or maybe a little bit of a clue but it hasn't been confirmed in this particular book. It is the first in a trilogy, though, so my hope would be that further explanation is to come... and waiting for it is going to be kind of torture!

But wait, that doesn't mean that there isn't a full story or a resolution of sorts in Love is Red. Long term, though... prophecy wise... yeah. I guess I have to wait. I can't even imagine how it's going to play out for three books either.

Love is Red is a cross genre read for sure - blending together thriller, romance, and fantasy elements, amongst others. It's also very sexually charged. And while it is wholly unique as far as my own reading is concerned, it reminded me just a bit of the Deborah Harkness trilogy. I'd likely go so far as to say that if you enjoyed Harkness's books, you'll probably enjoy Jaff. I personally found Jaff's debut to be much darker and more serious in tone than Harkness, though.

Jaff employs a really fun style here, alternating chapters between Katherine and the Sickle Man. But the Sickle Man's chapters are all told in second person. Even Katherine's chapters have a tendency towards atypical narration. One chapter, for example, features a question and answer session with Katherine's own internal monologue spread throughout. You might think that playing with the style in this manner would be distracting or hinder the overall pacing, but it actually didn't at all. In fact, it sped things up a bit, giving the reader the opportunity to really get inside each character's head - a creepy prospect, I know, when one of those is a serial killer. But that was part of what made Love is Red such a phenomenal read.

This is one that's going to stick with me for a while.

Rating: 5/5

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

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


Monday, May 11, 2015

The Gospel of Loki by Joanne Harris - Excerpt

As an added bonus for you today, I get to share a bit of Joanne Harris's latest, The Gospel of Loki, out now from Saga Press! If you missed my review, you can check that out here first.

L E S S O N 4 
Hello and Welcome 

Never trust a friend. 
—Lokabrenna 

And so I came to Asgard, where Odin introduced me to my new friends, the twenty-three Aesir and Vanir. All of them burnished, sleek, and well-fed, dressed in furs and silks and brocade, crowned in gold and gemstones, and generally looking rather pleased with themselves. 

You’ve probably already heard of Asgard. The Worlds were already full of tales about its size; its magnificence; its twenty-four halls, one for each god; its gardens, cellars, and sports facilities. A citadel built on an outcrop of rock so high above the plain below that it seemed part of the clouds themselves, a place of sunlight and rainbows, accessible only by the Rainbow Bridge that linked it to the Middle Worlds. That’s the story, anyway. And yes, it was impressive. But in those days it was smaller, protected by its location—a cluster of wooden buildings surrounded by a palisade. Later, it grew, but at that time it still looked like a pioneer stronghold under siege—which was exactly what it was. 

We met in Odin’s hall, a sizeable, warm, vaulted space with twenty-three seats, a long table set with food and drink, and Odin’s gilded throne at the head. Everyone had a seat but me. 

It stank of smoke and ale and sweat. No one offered me a drink. I looked at the cold faces around me and thought: This club isn’t taking new members. 

“This is Loki,” the Old Man announced. “He’s going to be one of the family, so let’s all make him welcome, and no picking on him because of his unfortunate parentage.” 

What unfortunate parentage?” said Frey, the leader of the Vanir. 

I gave them all a little wave and told them I was from Chaos. 

A second later I was flat on my back, with two dozen swords jabbing at the parts of me I’ve always preferred to keep intact. 

“Ouch!” Unlike the rest of my newly acquired physical sensations, the pain thing wasn’t getting any more fun. I considered the possibility that this might be some kind of an initiation ceremony, more of a game than anything else. Then I looked at those faces again, the narrowed eyes, the bared teeth . . . 

No doubt about it, I told myself. These bastards really don’t like me. 

“You brought a demon into Asgard?” said Týr, the General’s war chief. “Are you out of your mind? He’s a spy. Probably an assassin, as well. I say slit the little rat’s throat.” 

Odin gave him a quelling look. “Let him go, Captain.” 

“You’re kidding,” said Týr. 

“I said, let him go. He’s under my protection.” 

Reluctantly, the hedge of blades was withdrawn from around Yours Truly. I sat up and tried a winning smile. No one around me seemed to be won. 

“Er, hi,” I said. “I know it must seem strange to you that someone like me should want to hang out with people like you. But give me a chance and I’ll prove to you I’m not a spy. I swear it. I’ve burnt my boats by coming here; I’m a traitor to my people. Send me back, and they’ll kill me—or worse.” 

“So?” That was Heimdall, a flashy type, with golden armour and teeth to match. “We don’t need a traitor’s help. Treachery’s a crooked rune that never flies straight, or hits the mark.” 

That was typical Heimdall, or so I came to realize later. Pompous, rude, and arrogant. His rune was Madr, straight as a die, boxy and pedestrian. I thought of the mark of Kaen on my arm and said: 

“Sometimes crooked is better than straight.” 

“You think so?” said Heimdall. 

“Let’s try it,” I said. “My glam against yours. Let Odin decide the victor.” 

There was an archery target outside. I’d noticed it as we came in. The gods were predictably keen on sports; popular types so often are. I’d never used a bow before, but I understood the principle. 

“Come on, Goldie,” I said, and grinned. “Or are you having second thoughts?” 

“I’ll give you this,” he said. “You can talk. Now let’s see how well you perform.” 

Aesir and Vanir followed us out. Odin came last, looking curious. “Heimdall’s the best shot in Asgard,” he said. “The Vanir call him Hawkeye.” 

I shrugged. “So what?” “So you’d better be good.” 

I grinned again. “I’m Loki,” I said. “Good doesn’t enter into it.” 

We stood in front of the target. I could tell from his colours that Heimdall was sure of beating me; his golden smile radiated confidence. Behind him, all the rest of them stared at me with suspicion and scorn. I’d thought that I knew prejudice, but this lot redefined it. I could see them itching to spill some of my demon blood, even though it ran through the veins of a dozen or more of them. Heimdall himself was one of them—a bastard child of the primal Fire—but I could see he wasn’t about to celebrate our kinship. There are races that hate each other on sight—mongoose and snake, cat and dog—and though I didn’t know much of the Worlds, I guessed that the straightforward, muscular type would be the natural enemy of the lithe and devious type who thinks with his head and not his fists. 

“How far? A hundred paces? More?” 

I shrugged. “You choose. I couldn’t care less. I’m going to beat you anyway.” 

Once more, Heimdall smiled. He beckoned two servants forward and pointed at a distant spot right at the end of the Rainbow Bridge. 

“Stand the target there,” he told them. “Then, when Loki loses his bet, he won’t have quite so far to walk home.” 

I said nothing, but only smiled. 

The servants set off. They took their time. Meanwhile I lay down on the grass and pretended to have a little nap. I might even have slept a little, if Bragi, the god of music and song, hadn’t already been working on a victory chant for Heimdall. To be fair, his voice wasn’t bad, but the subject matter wasn’t entirely to my taste. Besides, he was playing a lute. I hate lutes. 

Ten minutes later, I opened one eye. Heimdall was looking down at me. 

“I’ve got pins and needles,” I said. “You go first. Whatever you do, I promise I can do better.” 

Heimdall bared his golden teeth, then summoned the rune Madr, aimed, and fired. I didn’t see where the rune struck—my eyes weren’t nearly as good as his—but I could see from the flash of his golden teeth that it must have been good. 

I stretched and yawned. 

“Your turn, traitor,” he said. 

“All right. But bring the target closer.” 

Heimdall looked puzzled. “What do you mean?” 

“I said, bring the target closer. I can hardly see it from here. About three dozen paces should do.” 

Heimdall’s face was a study in confusion. “You say you’re going to win—against me—by bringing the target closer?” 

“Wake me up when you’ve brought it,” I said, and lay down for another nap. 

Ten minutes later, the servants returned, carrying the target. I could see Heimdall’s strike now, the rose-red signature of Madr stamped right in the bull’s-eye. The Aesir and the Vanir all clapped. It was a fairly impressive shot. 

“Hawkeye Heimdall wins,” said Frey, another handsome, athletic type all gleaming with silver armour. The others seemed inclined to agree. I guess Frey was too popular for them to contradict him—or maybe it was the runesword balanced suggestively at his hip that made them want to stay friends with him. An elegant piece, that runesword. Even at that early stage I found myself wondering if he would be as popular without it. 

Odin turned his one eye upon Your Humble Narrator. “Well?” 

“Well—not bad. Birdbrain can shoot,” I said. “But I can beat him.” 

“It’s Hawkeye, actually,” said Heimdall, between clenched teeth. “And if you think you’re going to win by standing right next to the target—” 

Now we turn it round,” I said. 

Once more, Heimdall looked confused. “But that would—” 

“Yes. That’s right,” I said. 

Heimdall shrugged and gestured to the two servants, who obediently turned the target around so that the bull’s-eye was on the back. 

Now try to hit the bull’s-eye,” I said. 

Heimdall sneered. “That’s impossible.” 

“You’re saying you couldn’t?” 

“No one could.” 

I grinned and summoned the rune Kaen. A fiery rune, a quick rune, a shape-shifting, clever, crooked rune. And instead of shooting it straight at the target, as Heimdall had done, I flicked the rune to one side, send- ing it into a wide curve to double back on itself, ricochet, then strike the bull’s-eye from behind, obliterating Madr in a blaze of violet. A trick shot, but a nice one. 

I looked at the Old Man. “Well?” I said. 

Odin laughed. “An impossible shot.” 

Heimdall snarled. “A trick,” he said. 

“Nevertheless, Loki wins.” 

The other gods were forced to agree, with varying degrees of grace. Odin clapped me on the back. Thor did too—so hard, in fact, that he nearly knocked me over. Someone poured me a cup of wine, and from the first mouthful I realized that this was one of the few things that made my corporeal Aspect worthwhile. 

But Heimdall stayed silent. He left the hall with the dignified walk of a man with a serious case of piles, and I knew I’d made an enemy. Some people would have laughed it off, but not Heimdall. From that day on till the End of the Worlds, nothing would ever make him forget that first humiliation. Not that I wanted to be friends. Friendship is overrated. Who needs friends when you can have the certitudes of hostility? You know where you stand with an enemy. You know he won’t betray you. It’s the ones who claim to be your friends that you need to beware of. Still, that was a lesson I was yet to learn. Then, I was still hopeful. Hopeful that in time I might be able somehow to prove myself, that one day, they might accept me.

Yes, it’s sometimes hard to believe that I was ever that innocent. But I was like a puppy who doesn’t yet know that the people who have adopted him will keep him chained in a kennel all day and feed him nothing but sawdust. I find it takes a little time to learn that kind of lesson. So, until then, remember this: Never trust a friend.

About the author: Joanne Harris (MBE) was born in Barnsley in 1964, of a French mother and an English father. She studied Modern and Mediaeval Languages at Cambridge and was a teacher for fifteen years, during which time she published three novels, including Chocolat (1999), which was made into an Oscar-nominated film starring Juliette Binoche and Johnny Depp.

Since then, she has written fourteen more novels, two collections of short stories, and three cookbooks. Her books are now published in more than fifty countries and have won a number of British and international awards. She is an honorary Fellow of St Catharine’s College, Cambridge, and has been a judge for the Whitbread Prize, the Orange Prize, the Desmond Elliott Prize, and the Royal Society Winton Prize for Science. She works from a shed in her garden, and lives with her husband and daughter in a little wood in Yorkshire.

For more on Joanne Harris and her work, you can visit her website here. You can also follow her on Twitter.

The Gospel of Loki by Joanne Harris

Everyone's favorite mythological bad boy gets his own say in Joanne Harris's latest! Loki, (yes, Loki. And not the Marvel version either.), has put together his own version of events in what he's calling the Lokabrenna (or Gospel of Loki).

Born of chaos, Loki was invited to Asgard by the Allfather himself. Promised respect and a place by Odin's side, from the very start Loki claims that wasn't the case at all. 

In the beginning, the Trickster does try to turn the other cheek, taking the Gods' ridicule in stride, all the while perfecting his scheming and playful nature. When the Gods turn on him, though, there's no coming back and Loki begins a campaign to take them down.

Why does everyone love Loki so? It's hard to say, but I think it's because he never pretends to be anything other than exactly what he is. And that's just how Harris portrays him as well; he is what he is and he doesn't apologize for it. In fact, as he frequently points out, it's basically to be expected: he is born of chaos.

The Gospel of Loki wasn't exactly what I'd expected. For one, this isn't Harris's first time dipping her toe into the waters of Norse mythology. Back in 2007, Harris released her first YA read with Runemarks, a story set 500 years after Ragnarrok, or the end of the world, and heavily steeped in Norse mythology. For another, Runemarks and all of Harris's other books (with the exception of her short story collections, of course) are straightforward narratives, so that's what I expected out of The Gospel of Loki.

And that wasn't the case at all. Instead, Gospel reads more like a linear collection of stories with Loki as the common thread. Sort of like a memoir in essay form.

But that approach was kind of more fun. The stories told are from actual mythology - like the story in Lesson 11 of the book, which begins with the trickster killing an otter for dinner. Here's the Wikipedia link on Fafnir for a bit more reading. (I know, WIKIPEDIA, but it's the easiest thing to link to.) Of course the tale plays out a little differently through Loki's eyes... as do all of the stories. The framework is the same, but the perceptions and tones of the stories are sometimes greatly affected by Loki as the narrator.

In such a fun way! He's full of fire and snark, just as we'd expect, and Harris pulls it off so freaking fabulously!

The Gospel of Loki is great for anyone looking for a playful new take on classic mythology or just plain in the mood for a fun read.

Rating: 4/5

Sunday, May 10, 2015

New Releases 5/12/15

Some of the new titles hitting shelves this week include:

How to Start a Fire by Lisa Lutz

The Book of Colors by Raymond Barfield

Stone Cold Dead by James W. Ziskin

Love and Miss Communication by Elyssa Friedland

The Forgotten Room by Lincoln Child

The Fatal Flame by Lyndsay Faye

The Luckiest Girl Alive by Jessica Knoll

Love is Red by Sophie Jaff

Where by Kit Reed

Apex by Ramez Naam

The Guest Cottage by Nancy Thayer

Dry Bones by Craig Johnson

Housebreaking by Dan Pope

The Enemy Inside by Steve Martini

A Body in the Birches by Katherine Hall Page

Born of Defiance by Sherrilyn Kenyon

A Good Killing by Allison Leotta

The Anchoress by Robyn Cadwallader

Mother of Eden by Chris Beckett

The Subprimes by Karl Taro Greenfeld

Anatomy of Evil by Will Thomas

Moonlight on Butternut Lake by Mary McNear

Solitude Creek by Jeffrey Deaver

The Black Snow by Paul Lynch

The Big Fix by Linda Grimes

And Sometimes I Wonder About You by Walter Mosley

Trauma by Michael Palmer & Daniel Palmer

Countdown to Mecca by Michael Savage

Vanishing by Gerard Woodward

The Sniper and the Wolf by Scott McEwan

The Last Four Days of Paddy Buckley by Jeremy Massey

All Played Out by Cora Carmack

Cuckoo Song by Frances Hardinge

Undertow by Michael Buckley

The Wrath and the Dawn by Renée Ahdieh

Nil Unlocked by Lynne Matson

Burn by Walter Jury & Sarah Fine

Fierce Reads: Kisses and Curses by Ann Aquirre et al

Fell of Dark by Patrick Downes

New on DVD:
Still Alice
Blackhat
Mortdecai
The Cobbler
Tracers


Saturday, May 9, 2015

Pre Pub Book Buzz: A Curious Beginning by Deanna Raybourn

Deanna Raybourn is starting a new series! Deanna Raybourn is starting a new series! Deanna Raybourn is starting a new series!

Can you tell I'm excited? I adore Raybourn's work and while she has done quite a few things outside of the Lady Julia series, I'm glad that her next project will be kicking off a new series and hopefully introduce us to a heroine as beloved as Julia has been!

Here's a bit about the book from Goodreads:

London, 1887. As the city prepares to celebrate Queen Victoria’s golden jubilee, Veronica Speedwell is marking a milestone of her own. After burying her spinster aunt, the orphaned Veronica is free to resume her world travels in pursuit of scientific inquiry—and the occasional romantic dalliance. As familiar with hunting butterflies as she is fending off admirers, Veronica wields her butterfly net and a sharpened hatpin with equal aplomb, and with her last connection to England now gone, she intends to embark upon the journey of a lifetime.

But fate has other plans, as Veronica discovers when she thwarts her own abduction with the help of an enigmatic German baron with ties to her mysterious past. Promising to reveal in time what he knows of the plot against her, the baron offers her temporary sanctuary in the care of his friend Stoker—a reclusive natural historian as intriguing as he is bad-tempered. But before the baron can deliver on his tantalizing vow to reveal the secrets he has concealed for decades, he is found murdered. Suddenly Veronica and Stoker are forced to go on the run from an elusive assailant, wary partners in search of the villainous truth.

A Curious Beginning is due out from NAL in September!

Friday, May 8, 2015

Re Jane by Patricia Park + a Giveaway

Jane Re has always felt like she didn't fit in. Half Korean and half American, she was shuttled off to her uncle in the States after her mother died and her grandfather refused her. And she's felt like she's paid for her mother's mistake ever since. 

When her hopes of a career on Wall Street are dashed - at least temporarily - by a troubled economy, Jane applies for an au pair position with a Brooklyn family. Her uncle is aghast at the thought, but for Jane it finally means getting out from under his thumb. The family, a professor of women's issues and a high school english teacher, have a ten-year-old daughter they adopted from China. Their hope, initially, was to bring in a nanny with a Chinese background, but they hire Jane instead. It's a big change for Jane, bigger still when she starts to fall for her new boss!

Patricia Park's debut is a great play on Jane Eyre! A heavily "inspired by" tale, but one that deviates quite a bit and stands on its own two feet: Jane Re is no Jane Eyre, Ed Farley definitely no Edward Rochester, and fortunately her family isn't at all the kind of family Jane Eyre was saddled with. Not to mention the fact that the wife in this case isn't secreted away in some attic holding pen.

Did I mention Ed Farley is no Mr. Rochester? I have to say I did not love Jane for falling for him. And yet, the path she takes after realizing her "mistake" is fabulous! And I did so adore our heroine in spite of that one issue (she agonizes over it quite a bit as well, which is further endearing). Her family, too! Oh, I was so glad that Jane's family wasn't horrid and monstrous! It takes quite a while - and a trip around the world - before Jane herself starts to feel comfortable in her own skin and therefore comfortable with her family.

If you come to Jane Re hoping for or expecting a true-to-the-original adaptation, you might be sorely disappointed. But if you welcome a modern-day Jane facing culture clashes, the discomfort of not fitting in, and even 9/11 then you've come to the right read! Though this Jane faces some of the same issues as her namesake, Patricia Park adopts and adapts the classic well. The cultural aspects (both Korean and New York) alone make the book both unique and engaging, but wrapping it up in a Jane Eyre package was honestly quite brilliant in my opinion.

Definitely a highly recommended debut!

Rating: 4/5

For more on Patricia Park and her work, including an excerpt of Re Jane, you can visit her website here. You can also like her on Facebook and follow her on Twitter.

And now, thanks to the publisher I've got one copy to offer up as a giveaway! To enter, simply fill out the Rafflecopter below before Monday, May 25. Open US only and no PO boxes, please.

a Rafflecopter giveaway