Monday, June 30, 2008

Packrat Becky, Almost Lost Books, and My Zombie Obsession

Back when I was in college, I started a strange sort-of organization technique with my books. See, I was living in a one bedroom apartment that was by no means my permanent housing situation considering the fact that I had BIG plans for my future (yeah, those have been kind of squashed what with another birthday looming ahead). In an effort to save space, I started boxing up all of my read books and carting them off to my grandmother's office for storage. Consequently, I left them there when we decided to move to CO.

I figure once I buy my first house I'll have to rent a small u-haul to bring them over, but until then I can almost handle the separation. I had to pop in while I was home last week and say hello to them, though, and reassure them that they are not headed for any garage sales. I figure I should have brought at least one box of them back, but instead I went through each one and took out a handful that I thought might interest Mike and that I wanted to re-read in order to catch up with some series. 

Anyway, I was searching for a particular book that I knew I owned but that I couldn't remember reading. I'm a horror geek, but there really just isn't much great stuff out there these days - it's very hit and miss, but I do have some that I haven't had a chance to get to yet that I am hoping will be rewarding reads. The book in question was a title called The Dead Shall Inherit the Earth by Vince Churchill. I went on a zombie kick a few years back and bought books like Simon Clark's Blood Crazy. It's this great book about an outbreak that turns all the adults into zombies and the kids are left to fend for themselves - even defending themselves from their own flesh eating parents! Clark's book is now out of print but I recommend tracking it down if you're interested at all in zombies. I also bought a book called Reign of the Dead by Len Barnhardt. I brought Reign home with me, but I couldn't find Churchill's title anywhere. 

Lost books really bother me. I can't stand losing a book. I don't generally trade things in for this very reason. It seems as though I will always be looking for that one missing book. Nope, I need them there when I want them and that means holding onto every single one for all eternity. Yeah, I'm a dork. 

Fortunately, upon returning home, I was able to track down my Churchill book. Now it sits on my shelf along with the Barnhardt title that I intend to re-read, David Wellington's Monster Island, and a couple of Brian Keene's earlier zombie books. 

Still, Blood Crazy and Stephen King's Cell remain two of my absolute favorite zombie books ever! Eli Roth is supposed to be directing a movie adaptation of Cell and I can't wait! Until then, I'll take my zombie fix any way I can get it and that includes George A. Romero's movies (and remakes), 28 Days and 28 Weeks Later, and of course, Shaun of the Dead (I have a little crush on Simon Pegg, too). I also have The Signal here to watch - I don't think it's zombies, but it sounds like it might be similar to Cell. We'll see. 

Ah well. Now that I have yet again revealed the depths of my dorkiness, I will head over to get some real work done. 

Sunday, June 29, 2008

It's Sunday! The New Release Blog.

New releases hitting shelves on Tuesday include:

Boneyard by Michelle Gagnon - follow-up to last year's The Tunnels. FBI agent Kelly Jones is assigned to head up a task force dealing with a mass grave. 
Tower Hill by Sarah Pinborough - newest horror novel from Brit author Pinborough is one of the best I've read recently. 
Hidden by Eve Kenin - sequel to her first Shomi title, Driven.
We All Fall Down by Simon Wood
Chasing Darkness by Robert Crais - the return of Elvis Cole
Dark Matter by Cameron Cruise
The Patriot by Brad Thor

New on DVD:

Vantage Point

So, as usual I was way too ambitious in my reading plans for my week off. I did manage to read Michelle Gagnon's and Sarah Pinborough's books - the reviews will be up next week. My only review up on Bookbitch.com this week is for Raffi Yessayan's Eight in the Box. But hey, vacations are for relaxing! I spent lots of time with the junior junkies and the family, I got to have dinner with my best friend, and I got to go swimming! Now it's back to normal life and time to get to work on FL. Any ideas on how I can get them to participate better? (Kidding) I'm working a bit today, but will be back in it wholeheartedly tomorrow. 

For tonight, I'm cooking shrimp & grits, watching Iron Chef and The Next Food Network Star, and reading Madeleine Wickham's Sleeping Arrangements

I'm also happy to report that I am back on track with my reviews now that all the traveling is done. Next weekend you can expect the titles from above (Gagnon, Pinborough, and Wickham) as well as Iris Johansen's collaboration with son Roy, Silent Thunder

Friday, June 27, 2008

On the Road Again!

Yep, today's the day that we pack up and head back. I bought tons of books, ate some great food, got to visit with friends and family, and now I have to get back to regular life.

I'm lunching at one last place and then will be back in the car for 21 hours! Most of it is spent crossing Texas which could be a country all to itself!

I'll be back with regular posts either late Saturday or on Sunday!

Monday, June 23, 2008

Just Checking In

Hey there. Still on vacation here. We made it across the dessert plains of Texas and got there in time for my other to attend the bachelor party at our friend's wedding. The next day was spent out by the creek while the boys played on the rope swing and swam (I am going to remedy the no swim suit issue this afternoon, but it's too late for the party!). Then we had some fantastic Texas BBQ. The wedding was the following evening at a small B&B in a tiny town outside of Austin. The ceremony was short and sweet and the reception was immediately after. No heavy drinking for us, though, cause we still had 5 more hours of driving to endure.

Anyway, haven't gotten as much reading done as I planned. Also hoping to remedy that! Finished up 8 In the Box by Raffi Yessayan and am reading Michelle Gagnon's excellent follow-up to last year's The Tunnels.

Planning a book shopping trip for Wed with the junior junkies, one of whom is devouring Jennifer Armintrout's The Turning as we speak (just the first of the box o' books I brought with me).

I see a Cajun Exterminator (pizza) on the horizon. Will check in again this week if I can, if not, I will return sometime on Saturday.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

I saw this link

on Facebook, but it wasn't until I saw it on Tez's blog that I linked over to see what it was. The great thing about it is that there are two guys from my DPI class on this thing! Hopefully if you hit the link you'll get the poll and not the results. I already voted so that's all I get to see now. 

That's probably all for today. I have mucho work to do and have to get ready for the road trip!

Oh, my vaca is starting this Thurs and I won't be back until like the 28th or the 29th. If you're a faithful reader, don't give up on me! Just check back in a week. I will still be posting review to bookbitch.com while I am gone. 

I'll be posting until I leave, though, and when I get back I'll let you know if the road trip reading extravaganza I have planned is successful or not!

Monday, June 16, 2008

If you aren't reading Carol Goodman yet

you should be! Goodman's elegant writing coupled with settings so vivid they almost become characters themselves, make her books some of the best literary mysteries out there.

Like many authors, I of course came across Goodman's work in my years as a bookseller. Like many booksellers, I was perpetually broke and spending all of my paycheck on new books with still no way of reading everything. That's why I loved advanced readers so much - it was the perfect way for a voracious reader on a budget to be exposed to new authors. When our RH rep stopped by and handed me the ARC of The Ghost Orchid I was so excited! I'd wanted to try her for a while and just hadn't splurged on the purchase yet. She didn't let me down. Ghost Orchid is a wonderfully atmospheric story about an old home with a tragic past. Today, the home serves as an artists' retreat, but the guests soon find that they seem to be reliving events of the past. It was an eerie and amazing read that led to my buying every one of Goodman's previous books.

So, last year there was no question about whether I would buy Goodman's latest, The Sonnet Lover. It's another mystery with strong gothic undertones, and this time it's set in Italy. Here's my review from Bookbitch.com:

The life and identity of William Shakespeare has been a popular topic of debate among academics for quite some time. One mystery involves the identities of the two people thought to have been the subject of Shakespeare’s sonnets - one, a young man, and the other, a woman known as the Dark Lady. In Carol Goodman’s latest literary mystery, she tackles the possible identity of this Dark Lady who captivated Shakespeare’s heart. During a reception in his honor, Robin Weiss, a film student at Hudson College, falls to his death from a school balcony. Authorities are convinced it was suicide, especially following the witness accounts. Dr. Rose Asher, one of Robin’s professors, was not close enough to see what happened, but she has her doubts as to the cause of Robin’s death. Only moments before his fall, Robin passed Rose an envelope containing a sonnet and a letter in which he requested that Rose accompany him to Italy. Robin claimed to have discovered a cache of poems hidden at La Civetta – a villa owned by one of the patrons of the college. Rose is well aware of the rumors regarding the villa. A sixteenth century poet named Ginevra de Laura was said to have been the mistress of La Civetta. According to the stories, Ginevra de Laura was cast out of the home upon the death of her lover. Although she was said to have been a great poet, none of her work has ever been discovered. Other rumors purport to link Ginevra to Shakespeare himself. Determined to discover the truth, Rose travels to Italy where she confronts her own past as well as the ghosts of La Civetta. Goodman’s work is truly amazing. Her lyrical prose and luscious settings make each novel a true delight for readers.

So, if you're looking for a fantastic and intriguing read this summer, run out and pick up any one of Goodman's books, you won't be disappointed! And, this fall look for her latest The Night Villa.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

New Releases 6/17

Some of the titles hitting shelves this week are:

Fearless Fourteen by Janet Evanovich - ok, if you aren't reading this series, shame on you! This is some of the funniest reading you're ever going to find. 
Made in the USA by Billie Letts - the latest family drama from the author that brought you Where the Heart Is.
Tigerheart by Peter David - a new Peter Pan tale. Not so much a re-telling or re-imagining as it is a follow-up with some original twists.
The Sister by Poppy Adams - a strange story that's addictive reading. You know something bad is coming, you're just not sure what.
This Charming Man by Marian Keyes - Irish chick-lit with a dramatic twist. 
Old School Bones by Randall Peffer - officially out as of today. A new Bleak House mystery release about a prep school suicide that may be more than it seems. 
In the Light of You by Nathan Singer - another Bleak House title, this one a dark coming-of-age thriller. 

New on DVD: 
Fool's Gold
Be Kind Rewind (topping my must buy list as a gift for my SO)

New reviews up at Bookbitch.com this week:
The Sister
Made in the USA
Ring by Koji Suzuki

On my bedside table for this week:
Memory of Water - Karen White
The Richest Season - Maryann McFadden
Eight in the Box - Raffi Yessayan
Tigerheart - see above
Last Oracle - James Rollins

A Cookbook Blog, Sort-of

So it's Father's Day and my folks are over at one of my many cousins' houses having a family reunion/dad's day get together. And I am here. Yeah. I'll be arriving home exactly one week too late to enjoy the party and what will no doubt be a hearty plethora of tasty cajun favorites.

I think the worst part about all of this is that in addition to not being able to be there, I also have not been cooking lately. It's no fun to cook something big all for yourself and Mike (my other) is all the way up in NYC. He should finally be home late Tuesday (just in time for us to pack up and drive across 4 states). So, I don't get to see anyone and I don't get to treat myself to some good food just yet either.

I'm a big foodie, in case you couldn't tell. And, I get bored eating the same things - that's why diets don't work for me! I eat according to cravings and I get really tired of leftovers. Cooking for Mike and all of our friends means that I don't have to do reruns all that often (it also means that my freezer stock of cajun faves is running low). So, the sandwiches I've been eating just about every day, in an attempt to not go grocery shopping while Mike is away, are really getting on my nerves; it's time for real food again.

Sure, sure I can cook for our friends and invite them over, but it's no fun without Mike. Since he's finally home in about 2 days (midnight Tues), I am planning on cooking something for his return. It'll probably end up being Wednesday 'cause I can't cook for less than four and I don't want him to have to reheat stuff that late (if he's even hungry).

I pulled out MY cooking bible so that I could begin planning for the occasion, it's a massive tome that Folse intended to be a coffee table book. They released all of the actual recipes on disc, but I already had my book. I just lug it over to the kitchen table when I use it, no biggie.

It's a good thing we're heading home soon 'cause I am going nuts craving some real cajun food that I don't have to cook for myself! Anyway, I'm thinking red beans and rice for Mike's return, although some crawfish etoufee would be fantastic! I need to clear some space in the freezer for all the stuff I plan on bringing home as well. Thank GOD for frozen care packages from home.

Oh well, I guess I'll have to tide myself over with canned soup and sandwiches for a few more days while I salivate over John Folse's recipes. See, the hunger is causing rambling!

Friday, June 13, 2008

Happy Friday the 13th!

It's long been my tradition to spend Friday the 13th with a new horror movie. Halloween, too, I might add. 

It started way back when I was a kid and I discovered that for some strange reason, I loved horror movies! I had a fine accomplice in this area, my best friend. I can remember watching USA on Saturday and Sunday afternoons, you know, back when they played good movies. If we weren't hanging out, we would call each other and watch the movies together over the phone. Course, her parents weren't as strict as mine so I had my other hand gripping the remote, finger poised over the jump button with something like Nickolodean at the ready. Ah, those were the days! Movies like Waxwork and the Halloween franchise were introduced to me this way. I wasn't even 10 yet.

Years later, when my bedtime was no longer an issue, I would stay up and watch Jo Bob Briggs on Saturday nights. I miss you Jo Bob! This was before they gave him a sidekick, when he played only horrors. Yep, Jo Bob was the first one to introduce me to Dario Argento's Suspiria (highly recommended) and Phantasm

By this time, my friend and I were old enough to head over to our local video store on our own. VHS was still the most readily available, which sucked 'cause every once in a while you got one that jammed the deck and then you had to spend hours trying to fix it. Her favorite discovery back then were the Sleepaway Camp movies. Meanwhile, I was working my way through Hellraiser and its follow-ups. Yep, we were total movie junkies and finding a new horror flick really made our weekends.

These days, choices seem to be harder to come by. I'll watch torture porn like Hostel and Saw only on dvd and only when there's really nothing else left. I've found a plethora of new ones in the foreign market, though. Asia in particular has some fantastic ones. Spain, courtesy mostly of Guillermo del Toro, has some very dramatic ones. The Italians still hold fast to their belief that the gorier the film, the better it will be. The French are just putting out some strange ones. And the Germans, well theirs are almost too thriller to be true horror, but I like 'em anyway. Mustn't leave out the UK area, either. Danny Boyle in particular is one of my faves, and Neil Marshall is one to watch.

Normally, M. Night Shyamalan's first rated R release would be my pick for today, but I have to wait until my other is home to see it. I'm trying to budget, too. I did, however, buy a French movie called Frontier(s) and I have yet to watch it. I also just finished watching the German flick Antibodies not at all sure what the title had to do with the rest of the movie, and it was definitely more Silence of the Lambs than traditional horror. 

If you're interested, here are a few of my faves:

If you love zombies: Danny Boyle's 28 Days Later is absolutely not to be missed. Neither is Simon Pegg and Edgar Wright's Shaun of the Dead (both UK).

For a great ghost story: Guillermo del Toro's Devil's Backbone is one of the best (Spain)!

The German film Anatomy remains one of my favorite new slasher films. Stars Franka Potente and Benno Furman, directed by Stefan Ruzowitzky.

In the American ring, John Stockwell (who once starred as the jock in the film version of Christine) directed his first horror film in '06. Turistas turned out to be great in my opinion. Most recently, Carter Smith's The Ruins (based on Scott Smith's novel) did not let me down.

Of the Asian ones, R-Point is great, Ghost has a really nice twist, and The Red Shoes is one you'll never forget. 

Classics that you must see: The Lost Boys and Near Dark (before they remake it!), Friday the 13th #s 1&2, Nightmare on Elm Street #1, Halloween 1&2 (not the remake), Children of the Corn #1 only, anything George R. Romero has released and the remakes of his releases - you must see the old ones, then the new ones. The new ones employ the more active zombies - more fun to watch people try to get away from. 

I can't even think. There are SO MANY great movies out there. Fun ones, gross ones, over the top ones, you name it, it's out there. 

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Double Take!

So I didn't really think about it at first, but something about the new SJ Bolton book is just a little familiar to me. Oh, yeah! It's the same freaking cover art as Jean Christophe Grange's Empire of Wolves. Two different publishing companies with publications two years apart, and they have the same cover.

You'd think someone would be watching for that kind of thing, wouldn't you?

Grange's hardcover release had very different art - it was dark with a sort of red shadow of a woman across the front. The UK edition had an actual photo of a woman on the cover - fitting since it's about a woman who has amnesia and discovers that she's had significant plastic surgery done on her face. Her husband is keeping things from her and she can't even trust herself. It's fantastic! The movie (starring Jean Reno *sigh* my "old man" crush - he's not really an old man, but he's WAY older than I am - is very much worth tracking down.

Bolton's book on the other hand is about strange ritualistic murders in the Shetland Islands. I've not had the chance to read it just yet, but am really looking forward to it, especially after everything that I've heard.

The UK cover art for Sacrifice was also significantly different from the carboned US cover. It featured a dark scene, with a gold ring on a sandy beach up close, and water in the background.

Seeing as how I am probably the biggest Grange fan this side of the Atlantic, my guess is that the designers working on Bolton's title were hoping no one would recognize the cover - either that or they obtained the photo themselves with no knowledge of Grange's book. Who knows? I'm probably one of the few folks who even owns both books, though I don't think it's a stretch for someone who likes overseas stuff to have found both books - hm, a UK and a French author who write graphic thrillers, nope not a stretch if you've actually HEARD of them.

My hope is that if I keep harping on Grange's books, people will search him out like I did. I am this close to buying French editions of his new stuff and attempting to use my limited skills to decipher them myself! In the meantime, if what I have heard is correct (and if the cover art can be trusted - haha) then maybe Bolton will be added to my list of must haves and then the two will have something else in common.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

The Problem With Amazon Reviews

No book cover for this one as the titles in question don't really have much to do with my blog. This actually is just something that I had to get off my chest because it kinda pissed me off. 

I was looking at some books on Amazon today and came across some one-star reviews in which the reviewer used comments like "Yuck" and "Loser" and "these people don't know what they're doing." Now, I can understand disliking a product. The fact of the matter is this, if you want people to listen to you, you should at least sound a bit intelligent, which this person did not.

The first review kinda irked my nerves considering what was written and what it was written about. Then, I looked at a second, related title and came across another bothersome review. So, I hit the "see all my reviews" option and, sure enough, the same person wrote both reviews. Hm...

I've seen people complain about Amazon reviews before but never really come across this myself until now. I occasionally look at the reviews to see what people think of something - in this case it was because there was such a bad overall rating for the title, thanks to the fact that only one person had reviewed it. My little brain was ticking away wondering what this particular person's issue was. I mean, did they have some sort of ulterior motive in posting such harsh reviews? After having looked at the rest of their reviews - many of them with the same "Yuck, don't waste your money" comments, I've simply come to the conclusion that this must be a very miserable person who has nothing better to do than post negative, anonymous reviews on Amazon.

Don't get me wrong, as I said I check out the reviews to get a sense of what other people think about books that I am on the fence about. I WRITE reviews, some of them are even bad ones. I just hope that people take it with a grain of salt and make their own decisions. I've acknowledged many times that while I may dislike something, I appreciate the fact that not everyone has the same taste that I do. I don't believe that I have ever written insulting and hateful reviews, though, and if I ever catch myself doing that, I'll know it's time for some happy medication!

Monday, June 9, 2008

New Releases 6/10

Some of the titles hitting shelves tomorrow are:

The Blood Detective by Dan Waddell - a fantastic mystery debut from the UK. It's a great story and an interesting new spin on the who-dunit.
The Dirty Secrets Club by Meg Gardiner - another great one technically from over the pond. Gardiner, a California native who now lives in the UK, is finally being published here. Highly recommended.
The Writing Class by Jincy Willett - a dark and humorous mystery about an unknown person who terrorizes a writing class. Hilarious sarcasm. 
Ambush by Paul Carson - previous Carson titles have drawn on his medical career, he makes the jump into general suspense with this story of a widowed husband's need to avenge his wife's death.
The Broken Window by Jeffery Deaver - latest installment in the Rhyme/Sachs series!
Midnight Never Come by Marie Brennan - fey fantasy tale that takes place in Elizabethan England. Amazing work.
The Richest Season by Maryann McFadden - Booksense pick for June about a woman going through a mid-life crisis
Island of Eternal Love by Dana Chaviano - lit fic recounting three very different lives from different corners of the world

New on DVD: 
The Bucket List
Jumper - watched it on the plane this morning, but I'm pretty sure I nodded off (not a reflection of the film, but merely the thanks I get for staying up until 2am watching Weeds!). Will be rewatching.
The Other Boleyn Girl - a pretty good movie, about as historically accurate as the book. Read the author's notes in the original book to see what the author fudged for creative license.
The Signal - hm, an overseas horror about a TV signal that drives people insane - and there was an actual stabbing during one of the viewings, how freaking odd!
Funny Games - a horror movie that I will not be seeing - think The Strangers meets Clockwork Orange and you get some idea
Tekwar: The Series - Ok, I admit it, I was a HUGE Tekwar fan! I sent my mom on a cross-city mission to find all of William Shatner's Tek books. This was one of my few forays into Sci-Fi reading - a futuristic detective series in which the main character has been set up and imprisoned for drug use and William Shatner is the only one who will give him a job that could allow him to clear his name! I could have sworn there were more than 18 episodes, though. 

New reviews over at Bookbitch.com:
The Writing Class, The Blood Detective, and The Dirty Secrets Club

What I'm reading now: Made in the USA by Billie Letts

I'm back!

I'm back, safe and sound and in one whole piece. Although I do need more exercise now than I did even before I left. No, the walking around did not negate all of the yummy food I pigged out on while I was there.

I did some major book shopping while I was there. One of my newest purchases were two titles by Craig Russell, Blood Eagle and Brother Grimm.

I walked over to Mysterious Bookshop my first day there and was a bit overwhelmed by their selection. First off, the store is fairly small. Books line the walls and reach all the way up to the ceiling - you have to use a ladder to see half of the stock. The middle of the floor is filled with display tables of new hardcovers, collectibles in clear plastic wrappers, and signed editions. I was in heaven! I just didn't know what to look for. So, I asked for a recommendation. I was looking specifically for something in the Mo Hayder vein that I couldn't find in a regular bookstore here in Boulder - meaning something overseas. The bookseller recommended Stuart McBride, but they didn't have the first in stock. He also recommended Russell, who, btw, has a blurb on the back of Blood Eagle from none other than the thriller queen herself, Mo Hayder!

I haven't had a chance to read it yet (hey! I've only had it since Friday and I do have reviews to do) but here's a description from Amazon UK:

Two women are killed in the same horrific, ritualistic manner. The murderer taunts the police with e-mails. It seems clear that a serial killer is at work, selecting victims at random and living out some twisted fantasy. But, as Jan Fabel and his murder team investigate further, nothing is as it first seems. They are drawn into a dark half-world of Viking myth and legend, of obscure religious cults, of political intrigue and of a violent struggle to seize control of the city. And as Fabel desperately races to track down the killer before more killings take place, he and his team come face to face with a cold, brutal menace they could never have predicted. A greater evil than they could ever have imagined.

The books take place in Hamburg, Germany. They can apparently be read as stand-alones as well seeing as how the bookseller who recommended them to me had only read the follow-up book, Brother Grimm - he said they recapped everything from the previous book.

Alright, I think a bath and a nap are in order, followed by mucho laundry! More on the trip later!

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Oh, the shuttle will be here in about 20 minutes and I feel like I am forgetting to do something important - you know, that same feeling you get every time you travel. Not sure what it could be. 

I still haven't settled on my final plane read and Calypso is making it really hard to leave. Hell, Kodiak and her quiet, shy self is also making it hard to leave. This will be the first time that I leave these guys totally alone. Friends are coming to feed them, but they won't have anyone around for 4 days. Agh! I feel like a bad mother. So, above is the only pic I really have of the two of them in the same frame. It's not a great shot but it's there.

Sadie will be fine, she gets to go on an extended slumber party. I just hope she behaves. And I hope my cats aren't emotionally damaged when I get home. 

I'd better go now. Will be back on Monday and will let you guys know what goodies I bring home.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Packing for Vacation

I hate packing. Loathe, despise, and abhor it. Every time I go somewhere, I think that it's finally my opportunity to get some major reading in. I am trying not to look at this weekend like that because I know it's not true in this case. Mike has been working in NYC for two weeks and I am going up to see him. We're going to be doing the touristy stuff while I am there and even though I know I won't possibly last walking around every minute of every day that I am there, I have a feeling any down time is actually going to be nap time.

So, my reading time will be relegated to the 4 hour plane ride there and back plus the 90 minutes waiting in the airport prior to flights. Worst case scenario, there will be delays and that means more reading time in the airport.

This presents a major dilemma for me. First off, I'm in vacation mode. I've had Koji Suzuki's The Ring sitting on my TBR shelf since last fall (amongst the mass of other mating titles that continue to procreate). I have ARCs that need reviewing that should take precedence, but they're looking less and less interesting the more I want to read my Asian horro. I have limited luggage space, especially once you consider the books that I will be buying while I am there (1/2 priced books at the Strand and Otto Penzler's mystery store!). I also hate having lots o' stuff to keep track of at the airport and have been limiting myself to a Strand tote lately. Course this method only really works well when visiting the family because then I can just UPS stuff back to myself!

So, what's a book junkie to do? I figure I can bring 3 books tops. How do I choose? I go through this every single time I travel. Last time I went home, I brought 8 books! I was gone for 6 days. How many did I read? 2!

Ugh! I have to go check laundry now.

Technology is against me today

It's been rough lately. I think I have a karmic black cloud hanging over me resulting from actions of past lives. I don't know. After an hour screaming at the computer earlier, I left to run some errands in preparation of my weekend away. Errands complete, hunger sated, and work seemingly done for now, I am ready for a nap. But, it's not to be! I have too much to do.

Before I can leave, I have to finish my reviews for the week. This is kind of a problem as I still have 2 books to finish and another to start! I don't feel confident that I can get a review done and e-mailed in while on my city weekend, but who knows. It's 4:30 now and if I start right this minute and don't sleep until I get on the plane tomorrow, then I think it might be doable. Yeah, I know.

Anyway, Jincy Willett's Writing Class should wind me down a bit. I've almost finished it and it's a pretty darn good read. It's sarcastic and funny - that much more so if you know anything about publishing, have taken any kind of classes lately, or have ever had the pleasure of taking a creative writing class.

Amy Gallup teaches a sort-of continued education creative writing class. It's her only real connection to the outside world these days. Fortunately for Amy and her class, though, some shred of human interest does remain, and she's disturbed when some of her students report strange incidents regarding the class. These incidents begin as mean pranks, but soon escalate to violence, and Amy becomes determined to discover the twisted mastermind and their motives behind wreaking such havoc. Willett's novel is a fine blend of sarcastic humor and mystery. A great read that, for me, succeeded where similar titles have failed.

This is a lighter mystery than most I have been reading lately, but it's really fun. I especially liked that each "writer" had their own voice which is what I mean by her succeeding where others haven't.

Ah well, off to read and pack - more on that later.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Oh, another post in the same day!

Yep, I know it's rare. I just couldn't help it, and I am going to be out of town this weekend after all.

So, I am supposed to be getting a copy of a book acquired by our fab marketing teach from DPI last summer. The book in question is due out in Jan '09 and it's a superhero satire. I haven't received it yet, so I really can't tell you much more other than the fact that it is going to be knock your socks off HILARIOUS! How do I know? Well, this is how.

So, have fun checking out the link and I'll keep you posted once I receive Captain Freedom!

It's Summertime!

I know a lot of readers are looking for lighter fare for the summer - me, my moods change so quickly and without any rhyme or reason, I can read whatever. I do enjoy fun and silly reads, though, and they are undeniably more popular over the summer months. In fact, I hold to the thought that fluff is a necessary part of life - you need something to help you get through all the stress of real life!

In just a couple weeks, some of the newest fluffy reads from the biggest hitters in the subgenre will be hitting shelves, including:

Queen of Babble Gets Hitched by Meg Cabot - continuing the hilarious saga of my favorite big mouth, Lizzie Nichols
This Charming Man by Marianne Keyes - Irish chick-lit, although I have heard that this one is a bit more serious. We'll see.
And, of course, Janet Evanovich's Fearless Fourteen

I'm heading out for the weekend and will be taking some plane reads (review books) with me so I stay on track, and two of the above will be in my bag. Personally, I've been waiting to find out who Lizzie chooses since last summer so this is going to be good!

If you thought Meg was only for teens (i.e. you HAVEN'T been reading either the Heather Wells or Lizzie Nichols books) you are so mistaken. Queen of Babble is quite possibly one of the funniest books I have ever had the pleasure of reading (I mean, Bridgette Jones funny).

Here's my bookbitch review from way back when it first hit shelves. Hopefully you'll check it out and then you'll be just in time to join me in finding out which guy Lizzie will end up with!

The first in this new series for adults by Princess Diaries author, Meg Cabot, finds Lizzie Nichols in a bind. Lizzie has an awful habit – she can’t keep a secret. That’s the least of her problems when she finds herself broke and sleeping above the washing machine in her English boyfriend’s parents’ house. She quickly realizes that this relationship is not meant to be. Could it be the hideous Michael Jackson style jacket he insists on wearing? Or maybe it’s the fact that he lied about his job, lives with his parents and expects Lizzie to loan him money to pay his debts! Lizzie hops a train to France where she spills her own mortifying secrets the hottie sitting next to her. Normally, this would not be a problem. What are the chances that she’ll run into him again, right? Unfortunately, the hottie just happens to be her best friend’s boss! This hilariously sweet and cute novel is a refreshingly light and easy read.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Oh yes, it's so true!

Am I the last person to know about these cookbook bloggers? I sincerely hope not. Apparently, following the massive success of Julie Powell's book Julie & Julia in which she chronicles her adventures cooking her way through Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking, others have decided to try it themselves. 

Let me back up a bit. Ever since visiting NYC last summer, I've been an occasional binge reader of grub street (the food blog for New York magazine). Amongst the articles about Tailor restaurant's absinthe gummy bears and the daily reservation round-ups, I found a link to this Wall Street Journal article about cookbook bloggers. 

I was particularly impressed with this blogger who is working her way through The Gourmet Cookbook. While I think the Gourmet Cookbook is definitely more accessible than some of the others people have chose, I'm just not sure I could actually do this. I love cooking, but I cook per my mood. Not at all a good dieting technique, I know, and it would also make working through one cookbook kind of difficult. I dunno, I'm pretty impressed by anyone who can keep this up, though. I'll be tuning in regularly now to see how it's going for her. 

In other cooking news, I found this fantastic site while looking for some info to use in the Georgia cookbook (turned it in today!).  

So, am heading to NYC this weekend and, obviously, food is on the brain! Trying to decide which spots to hit while I am there. I think a trip back to The Strand bookstore is definitely called for. We'll probably head over to the natural history museum as well since Mike has never been. 

Ah well, I'm going to read now. I started The Blood Detective by Dan Waddell last night and it's super great so far.   

Sunday, June 1, 2008

New Releases 6/3

Some of the titles hitting shelves this week include:

China Lake by Meg Gardiner - though Meg's got a brand spanking new series hitting shelves next Tuesday, powers that be in publishing have finally decided to release her previous series stateside. Each of the following books in the Evan Delaney series will follow in the coming months and forensic psychiatrist Jo Beckett makes her world debut in one week! 
Trust Me by Brenda Novak - first in a thrilling new trilogy
Season of Strangers by Kat Martin - thanks PW for ruining the surprise. I haven't read this one just yet, but the synopsis is intriguing without giving much away - PW blew the whistle, though. 
Before the Storm by Diane Chamberlain - a mother who must prove her son's innocence after he's accused of arson
House at Midnight by Lucie Whitehouse - a debut about growing up and growing apart
Rabbit in the Moon by Deborah and Joel Shlian - I ran out of time, but still plan on getting to this one (and most on this list). This is a political thriller set around the events in China in 1989.
Summer Blowout by Claire Cook - the author who brought you Must Love Dogs and her newest beach read
Nothing to Lose by Lee Child - latest in the amazing Reacher series
spies of Warsaw by Alan Furst - new espionage thriller from the man some call the best in the genre

And, it's June. Check out booksense.com to see what booksellers are recommending this month.

New on DVD:
The Eye the American remake starring Jessica Alba

New reviews at bookbitch.com this week:
The House at Midnight
Coffin County by Gary A. Braunbeck
Bobbie Faye's (Kinda, Sorta, Not Exactly) Family Jewels by Toni McGee Causey

Tonight I'll finish up Dirty Secrets Club and start on Blood Detective by Dan Waddell.