Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Halloween Everyone!

I know I've been slacking in my blogging responsibilities. I am happy to admit that I am currently in the middle of Halloween Horror Reading Marathon Book 4 and will possibly get to a book 5 before the day is over. We shall see...

Have an office pot luck this afternoon and that's a bit weird for me. Weird because I don't actually work at the office and so don't know half the people who will be there. I made pralines, but my recipe was a little off balance so they're more like praline pecan clusters. I'm also going to make spaghetti carbonara - fast and easy and I think it's ok if it gets cold. 

Anyway, my current read is a debut by Bryon Morrigan. In his bio, it says that Morrigan is ex-military intelligence and has a degree in forensic science. Morrigan's debut novel, The Desert, is a great blend of horror and military fiction - a combo I love and wish there was more of, which of course prompted me to buy the book. 

You probably won't find this book in stock at your local BN or Borders, but you can order it, and I recommend that you do. Both James A. Moore (yeah, where's your next book my horror fave?) and Jonathan Maberry (Pine Deep trilogy) blurbed Morrigan's title - further evidence that you should try him out. 

In The Desert two men out on recon discover a cave in the Iraqi desert. In the cave they find the remains of an American soldier who was part of a troop that went missing in 2003 (it's now 2009). Along with the soldier, they also find a journal. Hoping to find some clue as to what happened to the troop, they begin to read (well one reads and one drives). Further along the way, they find a town, the same town that is mentioned in the journal. The same town in which the journal stops... Before it ends, however, the dead officer has one last warning for the people reading and that is to stay high, and under no circumstances are they supposed to enter the hole in the ground that his fellow soldiers discovered in 2003. So what do these two new men do? The enter the hole! But they kind of have to because for some reason, when they try to drive away, they end up back where they started...

Yep, fun and creepy stuff. I hope Morrigan has more where this one came from 'cause we need more like him in the field, I mean genre. 

So, Happy Halloween reading. Eat lots o' candy ('cause it's ok today) and watch lots of crazy movies and have fun!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

And the third winner is...

RB. Congrats RB!

I've e-mailed RB to let her know about her win and she will have the following grab bags to choose from:

Sportsmen (2 contemporary romances with a sort-of sports theme)
Adventure (2 books)
Women's fiction (2 books) 
Hot Men (2 books)

I promise to let ya'll know which pack she chooses as this begins the round for the November 15 drawing. You know the drill, leave a comment here, the deadline is November 14. On the 15th I will draw a name and that winner will have their pick of the remaining grab bags. 

Good luck!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

A Brief Break

For a little reminder. Remember, tonight is the deadline to enter the latest grab bag giveaway. Leave a comment here to be entered. I will announce the winner tomorrow (Oct 30) and begin the next countdown for the Nov 15 giveaway.

Also, if you're an MJ Rose fan, you may recall seeing something on Sunday's post about her latest, The Memorist. Check out the bookbitch blog today for a guest appearance by MJ, and excerpt from Memorist, and my review!

Next up in the horror reading marathon will come later. Bit busy at the moment and haven't made reading headway today!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Third Book in the Horror Reading Marathon

I'm heading back to the UK with my third horror read this week. 

Conrad Williams is a prolific horror and fantasy author that I bet you haven't heard of. The newly minted Virgin books is going to change that, though (hopefully). In 2007, Williams won the International Horror Guild award for his latest novel, The Unblemished (other noms included King's Lisey's Story, Keith Donoghue's Stolen Child, Brian Evenson's Open Curtain, and Will Elliot's The Pilo Family Circus). 

Unblemished was originally published in 2006 by Earthling Publications, a small, independent horror and dark fantasy publisher here in the states. This year, the new Virgin Books imprint released the trade paperback as one of their first releases stateside. 

Since I'm keeping you guys up-to-date on my day-to-day reading this week, I will again have to defer to PW for a description:

"Starred Review. British Fantasy Award–winner Williams describes his virtuoso, grotesque nightmare of a book as a "paean to the novels I grew up on in the 1980s." It's an unnecessary observation: readers will immediately recognize the influence of Stephen King, Clive Barker, Peter Straub and Ramsey Campbell. Playing on humanity's deepest fears and taboos, Williams plunges the reader deep into a hellish near-future where creatures banished five centuries ago rise again to lay eggs in the few people they don't consume alive, turning London into a cross between hive and abattoir. Caught up in the grisly madness are photographer Bo Mulvey, who goes looking for excitement and gets more than he bargained for; Sarah Hickman and her beautiful, disturbed daughter, Claire, on the run from a hit man with an amputation fetish; and Gyorsi Salavaria, a cannibalistic child killer determined to become the mate of the invaders' new queen. Williams (Use Once, Then Destroy) is so good at what he does that he probably shouldn't be allowed to do it anymore, for the sake of everyone's sanity."

Given that PW gave it the coveted "starred review" and the fact that it's won an award for best horror through the international guild, it should be tops on the list of all horror fans. I can handle a lot of the gruesome and grotesque and am hoping that Williams satisfies without going over the top for me. We shall see! So far, so good, though. I began reading briefly this morning and am itching to get back to it asap!

If all goes well, I should finish a significant chunk this evening, if not the whole thing, and be on to the next book by tomorrow. Williams will be something of a test for me as far as Virgin Books goes. I did read Fickle by Patrick Manus, one of their mystery titles, but this will be their first horror title that I read. I would like for them to be a go-to on my list of must-reads for new releases in the genre. I've also purchased another of their titles for later reading and will keep you guys posted!

To follow-up from yesterday, though, Ghost Road Blues was utterly fantastic! I can't wait to get to the next two in the trilogy. You can catch my "official" review this weekend at bookbitch.com. 

Monday, October 27, 2008

Second in the horror novel marathon

I finally started reading Jonathan Maberry's Pine Deep Trilogy the other day. Unfortunately, with my cheesy horror watching Saturday (Waxwork circa 1988) and my Doctor Who therapy yesterday, I didn't get much read this weekend (shame on me). I read most of the book last night before passing out and should finish today. 

The trilogy began in summer 2006 with the release of the Stoker winning, Ghost Road Blues. Since I'm not quite done with it, I'll let PW do the talking:

Maberry supplies plenty of chills, both Earth-bound and otherworldly, in this atmospheric horror novel, the first of a trilogy. Thirty years after the citizens of Pine Deep, Pa., killed the serial killer known as the Reaper, the town enjoys a quiet idyll and a tourist-friendly reputation as "the most haunted town in America." But gearing up for its annual Halloween celebration, the town is unprepared for the real haunts stirring in their corn fields, seeking to finish what the Reaper started. Switching among a large cast of characters, Maberry builds suspense by degrees, in the process exploring the community of Pine Deep. Showing his smalltown Americans at their worst—through domestic abuse, religious fanaticism and cowardice—Maberry proves how everyday, evening –news–grade sadism can dovetail neatly with capital-E Evil and the supernatural big guns that carry it out. This is horror on a grand scale, reminiscent of Stephen King's heftier works (The StandNeedful Things) and just as dense with detail...

Of course Maberry took home the Horror Writers' Association Bram Stoker Award for "Best First Novel." Other noms in the category that year included Sarah Langan's The Keeper, Nate Kenyon's Bloodstone, and Alexandra Sokoloff's The Harrowing. I've read all three and Maberry had some pretty stiff competition that year!

I've got about 100 pages left to go and the other two books, Dead Man's Song and Bad Moon Rising, waiting for me. It is a really original concept. I've not come across anything exactly like it even though, as the PW review says, it does bring to mind Needful Things. It also reminds me just a bit of James Moore's Serenity Falls trilogy which is another of my all-time horror faves.

I'm not sure what will jump off my bedside table at me next, but I'll keep you posted and let you know what the next read in my horror novel marathon is tomorrow! 

Sunday, October 26, 2008

New Releases 10/28

Alright, some of the new titles hitting shelves this week include:

Gate House by Nelson DeMille - sequel to The Gold Coast
Conspiracy of Silence by Martha Powers - great, light romantic mystery
The Memorist by M.J. Rose - sequel to last year's The Reincarnationist
King of Nod by Scott Fad - southern gothic horror debut
Phenomenal Girl 5 by A.J. Menden - the latest SHOMI title
Frailty of Flesh by Sandra Ruttan - second in the Nolan, Hart, and Tain series
Veil of Lies by Jeri Westerson - a debut medieval noir
Kllrs by Phil Bowie - third in the John Hardin series
The Face by Angela Hunt
Hiding Place by Karen Harper
The Pines by Robert Dunbar - Jersey Devil horror!
Deadly Harvest by Heather Graham - second in the Flynn Brothers Trilogy
Open Doors by Gloria Goldreich
Jasper Mountain by Kathy Steffen
Bad Penny by Sharon Sala - a Cat Dupree thriller

New Releases on DVD:
Shiver - Spanish horror 
Red - based on the book by Jack Ketchum
Journey to the Center of the Earth

New Reviews at Bookbitch.com:
The Pines
Conspiracy of Silence
Deadly Harvest
The Memorist - will be featured in a special blog at bookbitch.com this week and added to latest reviews next weekend
The Islands of Divine Music by John Addiego

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Gearing up for Halloween

So, the polydactyl's older sister is helping tonight! Yep, she was chasing the mouse earlier. (The mouse, not a mouse, btw.)

Anyway, seeing as how Halloween is now officially one week away, it's time for me to get down to business. I love Halloween. It's totally selfish, too. I love watching horror movies and I love that there are still a few networks that plan their programming according my taste just this one time of the year. I also love handing out candy. I'll have to find something to do with the dog this year since I think she terrifies children being overprotective of me. Not really sure what instills this sense of dominance over everyone she perceives to be a threat to me, but anywho. 

I cleared my review schedule (not really, it just worked out this way) and am devoting as much of the week as I possibly can to reading horror! Yep. So I thought I'd start you out with what I am reading today (Friday). 

I just started reading James Herbert's The Rats. You know you'll all be Herbert converts by the time I'm done with you. The Rats was Herbert's debut novel and was originally published in 1974. It was adapted for film in 1982 and stars absolutely no one I've ever heard of. Guess it was a smash hit. 

Now, as you might have guessed, The Rats is a book about killer rats. Here's some of the info from the Wikipedia entry on the title. 

"[The Rats] was Herbert's first novel and was notorious for breaking the set boundaries of the horror genre then by including graphic depictions of death and mutilation... It was deemed far to graphic in its portrayals of death and mutilation and that the social commentary regarding the neglect of  London's suburbs was too extremist. However, many consider the novel to be social commentary influenced by Herbert's harsh upbringing in immediate post-war London. The underlying them of the novel is lack of care by government toward the underclass and a lack of reaction to tragedy until it is too late."

Hm, something to think about while you read about rats who have a taste for human flesh!

The Rats is a rather short read at just under 200 pages. The book was reprinted in 1999 and is available through most bookstores (special order of course) and is followed by Lair and Domain (both also still in print). 

Twenty-four of Herbert's works have been printed over the course of his thirty-two years as a published author. I hope for the genre's sake that he has many more years and books ahead of him. 

Friday, October 24, 2008

A Dorchester Contest

Sandra Ruttan, author of What Burns Within and The Frailty of Flesh, the first two books in the Nolan, Hart, and Tain series, is running a contest for her upcoming title, Lullaby for the Nameless. Here are the details:

Playing The Name Game


Sandra Ruttan, author of the acclaimed books What Burns Within and The Frailty of Flesh, offers readers a chance to appear in her next novel.

“If I have a daughter, I’ll name her Chrysanthemum.”


When my stepdaughter announced this the other day, what I said was, “Would you call her Chrys for short?”


What I was thinking was, Dear God, where did she come up with that?


This is why I don’t let the kids get involved in naming characters in my books, although sometimes it would seem easier than agonizing over it myself.  One of the things I find most challenging is naming characters.


Naming a character can be very tricky.  You’re meeting them as a person, with a history.  I think babies often grow into their names, but when you’re dealing with a character that’s over twenty years you have to think about what suits their personality.


I spend a lot of time pouring over baby names books and online name sites.  I’ll usually come up with a list of six to twelve possible names I like, and then start playing around with combinations.


Not only does the name need to fit the character’s personality, it also needs to sound okay with the other characters they interact with.  As a result, sometimes I have to try a name out for a while and then switch it later if it isn’t working for me.


Now, it’s your turn to help me name a character.  Enter for a chance to appear as a minor character in the third book in the Canadian Constable series, LULLABY FOR THE NAMELESS.  Simply send an e-mail to sandra@sandraruttan.com with the subject line “Name Contest” and answer the following question:


“Which police department do Constables Nolan, Hart and Tain work for?”


Send your answers in by December 1, 2008.  The winner will be announced December 5, 2008.


For more information on how Sandra goes about the process of naming her characters and titling her books, go tohttp://www.dorchesterpub.com/Dorch/SpecialFeatures.cfm?Special_ID=2572.

A Free Book and An Upcoming Title to Watch For

Last year, as part of Mira's Summer of the Deadly Seven, I received a copy of M.J. Rose's Reincarnationist. Rose has been around for quite some time and is heavily involved in helping authors learn to self-promote their titles (Buzz Your Book and e-book coauthored with the fabulous Doug Clegg being one example of that), but I had never read her. Yeah, yeah, everyone has a point when they discover an author, a first book that they try that hooks them : ) 

Rose's previous work dealt heavily, as I understand, with erotic themes but was not necessarily erotica. She began as a self-published author with Lip Service, a book about a phone-therapist with a sex clinic, which was eventually picked up by Pocket after Rose's own on-line promotion garnered her much attention . Lip Service also introduced the Butterfield Institute which was later featured in a trilogy of books published my Mira (The Halo Effect, The Deliliah Complex, and The Venus Fix). 

The Reincarnationist marked the beginning of Rose's latest series. Where Rose has frequently delved into the mysteries of the mind, this new series takes this in a different direction. Many people throughout history have supported the idea of reincarnation and past-life regression. Rose combines these ideas with a fast-paced suspense plot that travels from ancient Rome to the present day. Tuesday, Rose's second book in the series, The Memorist, will be released. I'm not quite finished with it, but I can say that so far, although the two books are linked by ideas and by the Phoenix Institute, Memorist features a whole new cast of characters and a new literary mystery - meaning you can read it without having read Reincarnationist. But why would you want to? 

Rose is offering The Reincarnationist as a free downloadable e-book (you can even download it especially for your Kindle if you have one) now through October 31. Here's the link. And, to whet your appetite, here's my review for The Reincarnationist from the bookbitch archives:

Josh Ryder has been experiencing memories that are not his own. It began after a bombing in Rome where Josh, a photojournalist, was working a story. He was left comatose and awoke weeks later with vivid recollections of life in ancient Rome. In an attempt to learn more, Josh becomes involved with an organization known as the Phoenix Foundation - a group that investigates past life regression in children. When a discovery at a dig in Rome interests the group, Josh is sent as one of the foundation’s representatives to the site. The find could finally provide solid proof of reincarnation and also allow others to experience exactly what Josh does – memories of past lives. The foundation is not the only group interested in this item, though. While Josh is on the site, the lead archaeologist is attacked and the artifact is stolen. Josh vows to recover the item and, in doing so hopes, to unlock the truth behind his strange visions. In The Reincarnationist, Rose combines historical elements with the theory of reincarnation to create a truly amazing thriller. The characters are believable, the settings are magnificent, and in most cases real. Rose masterfully transitions readers from one century to the next making this a smooth read that is easy to get lost in for hours. M.J. Rose is no newcomer to the literary field, but this is her first mainstream suspense novel, one that should finally earn her the recognition she deserves and introduce new readers to her fantastic talent. 

Rose will also be touring virtually and my review of The Memorist will be up at bookbitch.com next week, so remember to check it out!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Another Small Press You Should Know About

I love small presses. I love big ones, too, but everyone knows about them. I love it when a new small press comes around that publishes quality stuff that I can recommend to readers. Medallion Press is just one of those presses. They started up while I was still working at the bookstore and I remember coming across the occasional little logo while shelving, but it wasn't until this year that I really started reading them (shame on me). 

A few months back, I read and reviewed Running Scared by Cheryl Norman. It was a lighter romantic suspense, but still very edge-of-your-seat reading. 

Last month, I read Institutional Memory by Gary Frank, an original horror that I zipped through in one night. (Reviews for both Running Scared and Institutional Memory can be found in the bookbitch review archives.)

Last night, I began a book called KLLRS by Phil Bowie, third in a series that has been praised by the likes of Lee Child and Stephen Coonts. I read the first 100 pages late last evening (early this morning) and can't wait to get back to it. 

These are just a few examples of Medallion's fiction selection. They publish just about all genres: Sci Fi, Horror, Romance (Suspense, Paranormal, Contemporary, and Historical), Mainstream and Historical Fiction, Thrillers and Mystery, and Fantasy. I can tell you from the few that I have read thus far that they publish great, quality works by some great authors that everyone should try.

Plus, Medallion has just added a new line of illustrated romance, and they've signed with the ever popular Heather Graham to do the next. Shannon Drake has even signed with the company and has a new book hitting shelves in 2010. 

So, check them out, watch for the logo on shelves when you're shopping, and happy reading!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

The Agony of Waiting

The inevitable result of finding any great new author that is automatically added to your "must buy" list is that you have to wait for the new releases. The only fix, finding another new author to fill the gap while you wait. In November of 2004, I got my hands on the first two Stephen Woodworth titles. One was already out on shelves and the other was an arc. Since then, he has released two more books in the series, but nothing in a while. And so I wait... But, I figure this shouldn't keep others from joining in with me and waiting too! 

Through Violet Eyes is the first in this paranormal mystery series (a psychic detective series before their newfound popularity in the past couple of years) and it totally blew me away. I know I'm not alone. I gave some of the books to a friend of mine and she loved them just as much as I did. 

In his debut, Woodworth introduces readers to the Violets, people with trademark violet eyes who can talk to the dead. They do all sorts of things, but Natalie Lindstrom, the heroine of the series, helps out with murder investigations. See, she can channel the dead and allow them to speak when their voices would otherwise go unheard. The job takes a severe toll on Natalie and the other Violets, both emotionally and physically. To make matters worse, it seems that there's a serial killer targeting the Violets. Each one of the victims "visits" Natalie to tell their tale, but something is keeping them from identifying the killer. Its up to Natalie and FBI agent Dan Atwater to try and figure it all out before she becomes the next victim. 

The concept in these books was like nothing else I had encountered in all of my reading years and I absolutely loved it. In later books, Woodworth branches out in such a way that he can really do pretty much anything with this series. According to his MySpace page, Woodworth has been working on some short fiction, but it is unclear when/if the next Violet book will come out. Readers should know, though, that although the final book definitely leaves room for more, you won't be left hanging. 

So, four books to add to your must read list especially if you are a fan of serial killer mysteries and/or paranormal mysteries and if you're in the market for some really fantastic reads. And now I'm off to discover my next Woodworth while I wait and hope for a new Violet book sometime down the line. 

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Weird What?

I will have you know that as I attempt to write this blog there is a six-toed kitty sitting in front of my computer screen dangerously close to the keyboard. So, you'll have to forgive strange typos as they will all be blamed on her : )

It's October and I had hoped that I would get to more horror this month. Yes, I still have a week and a grwoing stack of books to read as well. We shall see what happens, eh? Thus far I have managed to read a few. Just lasat week I cracked open Mary SanGiovanni's Found You and noticed that there was a little bit in the book about strange occurrences in New Jersey. Now, this is completely new to me. I'm a southern girl and I guess I always assumed that the south had a corner on weird. I mean, c'mon, New Orleans and voodoo, Mary Leveau, and ghosts galore! I just thought that Mrs. SanGiovanni had a very healthy imagination and hoped this would mean much more to come from this fairly new author. 

Today, though, I began reading Robert Dunbar's The Pines. From what I can tell, The Pines was originally published in 1989 under Banner of Truth publishing and then again in 1992 by Leisure. Leisure/Dorchester is reprinting the book and it is due out October 28. Apparently, the tale will continue into a second title, The Shore, listed as coming soon from Dorchester. 

Now, I'm not quite finished with this book, but I was intrigued by the fact that it's about the Jersey Devil. I'm 27 and I've never read anything about the Jersey Devil. Not to say I've never heard mention of it, but I never knew what it was or where the legend came from. According to his website, Dunbar is an expert on the legends of Pine Barren, the area in which The Pines takes place. 

About a third of the way through the book I decided to come look at Wikipedia. I felt like I was missing out having no real knowledge of the Jersey Devil (not to worry readers, Dunbar does outline the tale in The Pines, but I'm a bit obsessive when curious and so...). A few hours later and now browsing the Weird New Jersey site, I'm wondering how there's not a whole slew of New Jersey based horror authors!!! 

Weird New Jersey is a mecca for the weird, wacky, and in some cases truly creepy. If you want to check out the Wikipedia entry on the Jersey Devil, just click here. You can also check out this Weird New Jersey video on the hunt for the Jersey Devil (Dunbar appears briefly). 

So, Jersey Devil, hoax or great American myth? You decide. And, next week, run out and buy Dunbar's newly released (and uncut?) The Pines just in time for some great Halloween reading. Check Bookbitch.com early next week for my review. 

Monday, October 20, 2008

Crazy Popular and Well Deserved

September 2006 saw the release of a phenomenally popular modern gothic tale by new author Diane Setterfield. 

I adore this modern gothic trend. You really don't see it all that much, and I'm always looking for more, but every one that I have gotten my hands on thus far has been utterly fantastic reading. 

Setterfield follows the gothic style to a T. If you aren't familiar with the gothic genre, here's some info from wikipedia: 

Definition: Gothic fiction (sometimes referred to as Gothic Horror) is a genre of literature that combines elements of both horror and romance. As a genre, it is generally believed to have been invented by the English author Horace Walpole, withis 1764 novel The Castle of Otranto.

Wikipedia goes on to say the following of gothic fiction: Prominent features of Gothic fiction include terror (both psychological and physical), mystery, the supernatural, ghosts, haunted houses and Gothic architecture, castles, darkness, death, decay, doubles, madness, secrets and hereditary curses. 

For more, here's the link to the Wikipedia entry. Check out the list of works at the end for more reading. 

And, here's my review of Diane Setterfield's debut from the bookbitch.com archives:  

Every so often, readers get to experience a truly amazing story - this is one of them. Bestselling author Vida Winter has never been forthcoming about her past. For years, she’s done what she does best; told stories. Now, with her health failing her, she’s decided it’s time to tell the truth. Biographer Margaret Lea has spent her life immersed in classic literature. When she receives a letter from Ms. Winter requesting that she pen the author’s biography, her first instinct is to refuse. She becomes intrigued after reading Winter’s most famous novel Thirteen Tales of Change and Desperation, a novel that has gained almost cult status due to the fact that there are only twelve stories. What follows is a tale of tragedy, ghosts, twins and, ultimately, family. By using elements found in classic gothic literature, Diane Setterfield has created a truly phenomenal debut. Her vivid story captures readers from the very beginning. This is perfect rainy day reading. 

I just wish that Setterfield would release something new to satisfy my craving of more modern gothic lit. I just can't get enough of it and it's so freaking hard to find. For all you thriller readers out there, a warning: Gothic lit, modern or classic, is slower reading than today's thrillers. I mention this only because I have heard folk complain of how bored they get in reading them. If you need constant action in order for a book to keep your attention (nothing necessarily wrong with that, but a reflection of our modern taste and a little sad) then this is probably not the genre for you. They build slowly which, for me, increases the level of suspense and allows for plenty of character development and sets an overall eerie tone to the book if it's done right. Setterfield does it right!

To close, here's a link to a video I found on YouTube. I wish I lived in a city where people gave away fantastic and free books!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

New Releases 10/21

Some of the new releases hitting shelve this week include:

Testimony by Anita Shreve - a novel in which various characters speak out about the scandal and results of a high school sex tape at a Vermont private school
The Widows of Eastwick by John Updike - sequel to 1984's Witches of Eastwick
Bones by Jonathan Kellerman - latest in the Alex Deleware series
Rough Weather by Robert B. Parker - new in the Spenser series
Extreme Measures by Vince Flynn - latest to feature Mitch Rapp
Against Medical Advice by James Patterson and Hal Friedman- non-fiction

New on DVD: 
The Incredible Hulk
The Strangers
The Lazarus Project

New reviews at Bookbitch.com:
Clyde Ford's Precious Cargo
Sheila Lowe's Poison Pen
Mary SanGiovanni's Found You
James Herbert's The Ghosts of Sleath

It was a great reading week for me. I thought all of these titles were fantastic!

Movie update: Max Payne, not all that bad. Saw it today (Saturday) and had no real expectations thanks to the reviews that I had read. I had heard that it had a barely coherent storyline - not the case at all. I had also heard that if you haven't played the game you would be lost - again, not true. I've never played the game and had no problem following the movie. Basically, it falls into the category of "It's a video game movie, what did you expect?" it could have been better but it could have been much, much worse. It was not an Ultraviolet, nor was it Resident Evil. It falls somewhere in the middle and squarely in the realm of a fun way to spend 90 minutes if you have nothing else going on. I love Mark Wahlberg and probably always will. His performance in Payne far exceeds that of The Happening

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Another Contest Link

Lori over at Lori's Reading Corner is giving away a copy of Alafair Burke's latest, Angel's Tip. She is the daughter of James Lee Burke and Angel's Tip is her second title to feature NYPD Detective Ellie Hatcher. Here's the link to the giveaway and good luck!

A Whole New World

No, not Disney's version. I was trying to think of another older read that I could recommend and I came across Nelson DeMille's Charm School. Now, Charm School is kind of a special title for me. For one, it was recommended and loaned to me by one of my high school English teachers. At the time, I was notorious for not taking recommendations. I was 16, what do you expect. I also was not reading anything close to Nelson DeMille's kind of work. That being said, Charm School made me an instant DeMille fan and opened me up to the world of espionage and military fiction. Hey, I was learning. I was probably one of the few teens at the time reading about Vietnam era heroes! I can guarantee you that none of my classmates were reading DeMille, although now that I think about it, he'd be great if you know some teen guys who don't read much. 

If you're not familiar with DeMille, you should be. Most of his work would probably be classified as military or espionage thrillers, there are a few regular thrillers, but Charm School definitely falls into the espionage category.

In Charm School (published in 1988) an American tourist in Russia takes a wrong turn and picks up a hitchhiker who spills some pretty intense state secrets. The tourist calls the American embassy, but by the time they get there to collect the guy, he's gone without a trace. Course the plot is much more complicated than this and involves KGB plans and a few key American players who have to unravel the whole thing. Super fun and a crazy page-turner. 

I tend to get bogged down with political plots and so most espionage fiction goes completely over my head. I'm not embarrassed to admit that I am not very politically minded nor do I follow many current events - they tend to stress me out and only lead me to believe apocalypse is inevitable, so I think it's better for my health to avoid most of it. Charm School, and actually all of DeMille's work that I have read to date, are very easy to get into. I've never had any problems grasping the stories at all. I haven't read the whole DeMille collection just yet, but of the ones I have read Charm School remains my favorites. 

So, I know you want something to tide you over until you get to watch Daniel Craig in the newest 007 movie (at least I do) and I highly suggest letting DeMille fill the gap. You won't be sorry. 

Friday, October 17, 2008

Contest Link

Stacy over at Bookbitch.com is giving away a Spooktacular set of books this month. Here's the link, check it out and enter to win and good luck to you all! And while you're there, hang out a bit and read some reviews. There are new titles up each week and multiple reviewers including myself so many books and many different opinions. 

Also, still have not heard from Kimmy - if you're out there in cyberspace, shoot me an e-mail with your prize pack choice and your snail mail. 

To See or Not to See?

I had wanted to go see Max Payne today but now I'm just not so sure. Back to my complaint of Babylon A.D. it just seems too often that movies are being manhandled in order to pack in more patrons of the 13-year-old male variety. I knew in seeing previews for Max Payne just over a month ago that this would be the case here as well. Why? Because about a month before the release date, the preview still said "This film is not yet rated" I take this phrase to mean, "We are currently making changes to please the ratings board and bring it down from R to PG-13."

I read a NY Times review of the movie and finished with a sense that the reviewer in question was basically saying to readers: This is a video game movie, what did you expect?

It's not that I expect video game based movies to be award-winning masterpieces. Not at all in fact. I just expect them to have storyline, decent effects, and to show me where the money that went into making the film was spent. So often it seems that they crank out these multi-million dollar productions with great effects and lots of visual stimuli (like a video game) but that they lose sight of the fact that they're making a full-length movie. 

There have been some really great comic book and video game movies out: Resident Evil is probably the best example. This was a great zombie flick. I didn't find it overly cheesy nor did I feel that it suffered for being a movie based on a video game. Overall, I just thought it was a really fun horror movie. On the flipside, the sequel sucked! Mainly it was because of the huge monster in the end. I could handle most of the rest. 

So, will Max Payne be more of a Resident Evil or will it be Ultra Violet all over again? I guess I'll just have to go see it and find out. I'll probably be picking a matinee, though, so it won't hurt as much if the movie is terrible. 

Office again

Heading into the office again this morning and so no time to blog at the moment. I'll post something later on today!

See you guys later. 

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Ooh, Columbus Day, you messed up my rental queue!

Agh! I have a method with my mailing rentals. See, I like to watch a lot of movies and so I always have new releases at the very top of my list. Problem is you have to get a movie back just in time for them to be processing your return and sending out your new one on the release date, or else you get the dreaded "Very Long Wait" message. Seeing as how Monday was Columbus Day (normal people have to work that day!) and even though UPS ran, apparently the mail didn't, my War, Inc. has now been relegated to the gloomy depths of the "Very Long Wait" list with Run Fat Boy, Run. I'm still waiting. 

Somehow I've been messing up my list for so long that my movies are coming as a complete surprise. I've been working my way through Doctor Who: Season 1 when all of the sudden, just in time for the weekend (prime Who watching time) I get in The State Within. Going over my head, that one is. 

At least I had a movie to see at the theater this weekend. We checked out Quarantine Friday night and it was super good. In the movie, reporter Angela Vidal (played by Dexter's Jennifer Carpenter - and yes, I did expect her to Deb out, but she didn't) is shadowing a couple of firemen for the evening when they are called out to an apartment building. The call is medical rather than fire, but they can't imagine what waits inside. Before they know it, one of the firemen and one of the cops on scene have both been bitten by the very woman they are attempting to help. Then, they're all locked inside the building. Armed guards surround the perimeter and whatever has infected the old lady upstairs is making its way through the trapped people inside. Lights go out, mayhem ensues, the perfect making for a great horror flick. 

Director John Eric Dowdle is responsible for Quarantine but you may not know that it's actually based on Jaume Balaguero's Spanish film, Rec. Balaguero directed Sin Nombre (Nameless) and the American film, Darkness. He's also got a new movie out that for reasons still unbeknownst to me is not available here, called Fragile (starring Calista Flockhart). 

Ok, I'm going mess up my queue more in hopes of getting more Who (Doctor Who can save the world!).

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

And the Winner is!

So, by random number generator (this time mom picking a number via telephone four states away) the winner of today's drawing is: KimmyL

Congrats, Kimmy, and I apologize for being so late with this today. I meant to have it up first this this morning but I ended up having to run to the office for some stuff. 

UPDATE: Kimmy chose the Linda Lael Miller Pack.  

I've added two more grab bags to the list so the next winner will have the following to choose from:

Sportsmen (2 contemporaries with a sort-of sports theme)
Adventure (2 books)
Women's fiction (2 books) 
Hot Men (2 books)

And, today is the beginning or the newest round so get your name in for the October 30 drawing. Just leave a comment here to be entered. 

Becky's Video Game Rant

I am a book person. Have always been a book person and don't foresee any change in that. I am also a movie person and an occasional music person (not thrilled with most of what's come out lately and so very picky on that front). One thing that is standard throughout all of these industries is the Strict on Sale date. Yes, new released movies, music, and books have a Strict on Sale Date that is pretty heavily followed throughout merchandisers. Occasionally you may find an SOS book that's being sold at Wal Mart before the bookstores will sell it, but it's really rare. 

The SOS date is very heavily enforced. People lost their jobs over opening Harry Potter boxes before the SOS date. Thing is, I'm not a big video game person. Every once in a while, though, I get really excited about an upcoming game that looks super cool. 

Here is where my rant comes in. Did you know that video games have a release date but that they aren't actually available to purchase on that date? WTF is the point in having a release date? I've been to three places today in search of Dead Space. Like my books and movies, Dead Space had a release date that was posted EVERYWHERE. Today, 10/14, was that advertised date. Nope, nada, nyet, nix! No game!

Apparently, in the video game industry, the release date is actually the date on which the game ships to the retailers. Wha? How does that make sense. You mean today is the "release date" of a game but nobody will have it in stock until their UPS delivery guy delivers it tomorrow? Then why in the heck wasn't tomorrow the official release date? 

Why tell people something is coming out when they can't even buy it yet? I'm sitting here, having a pretty damn bad day (writing this 10/14 and posting 10/15) and I want to kill some space zombies! But no, I can't. I have to wait until tomorrow. 

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Oh, Tamara Thorne, where did you go?

I love Tamara Thorne! I'm serious. She's one of my major guilty pleasures. Her horror is the kind that would make classic fans cringe, but of all the modern horror writers out there, she's one of my absolute favorites. She's got this great blend of humor and horror that makes her work so much fun. 

Unfortunately for this fan, it seems Ms. Thorne (a pseudonym for Chris Curry) hasn't got anything coming out. In fact, it's been years since her last book, Thunder Road, was released. I remember because I was reading it when I was visiting the folks and I was at the urgent care center getting checked for strep (positive even with no symptoms!) and that was at least 2004.

One of my favorite Thorne titles is Moonfall. My parents always tell me about this cheesy horror movie that they like to watch, Motel Hell, and Moonfall reminds me of them every time! Plus, there's a plug for Moonfall in the Sorority trilogy. 

Anyway, today I wanted to recommend another of Ms. Thorne's titles, Haunted. Here's the synopsis from her website:

Its violent, sordid past is what draws bestselling author David Masters to infamous Victorian mansion called Baudey House. Its shrouded history of madness and murder is just the inspiration he needs to write his ultimate masterpiece of horror. But what waits for David and his sixteen-year-old daughter, Amber, at Baudey House, is more terrifying than any legend...
First comes the sultry hint of jasmine... followed by the foul stench of decay. It is the dead, seducing the living, in an age-old ritual of perverted desire and unholy blood lust. For David and Amber, an unspeakable possession has begun...

Now, I can handle graphic gore and violence pretty well, but it has to fit within the story that I'm reading. And it can never overshadow the story. I find that in some horror that's the case. It's as if the story come second to the graphic and sometimes downright obnoxious violence. Not so with Tamara Thorne's novels. She pushes the limit, but handles it in such a way that its natural and only enhances her tales. 

Haunted, Moonfall, and the Sorority trilogy all seem to be still in print. I suggest you check them out this Halloween horror reading season!

Deadline tonight!

Remember, if you're interested in being entered to win the grab bag giveaway, deadline for tomorrow's drawing is today! Hit the link to the right and it will take you straight to the entry post. 

Good Luck!

Monday, October 13, 2008

Why Can't Reading Burn More Calories?

Finding a new horror author with an original tale is always great fun for me. A few weeks ago, Stoker award nominee Mary SanGiovanni's Found You was released. Of course I had to find a copy of The Hollower first. With all of the books that I've been reading lately (and noticing a trend in the whole Needful Things entire-town-be-damned storyline) I was somewhat surprised that The Hollower was, at its heart, a monster story. 

I reviewed the book a couple of weeks ago for bookbitch.com and here's a little of what I had to say:

Dave Kohlar has seen it, so has his sister Sally, and so did the man from Sally’s therapy group who committed suicide. Dave would like to think that he’s a fairly rational man, but when he sees the faceless creature in an overcoat and hat following him around, he’s sure he must be losing it. Then Sally flips out and has to be committed. Shortly after that, she escapes without a trace and Dave knows the creature he calls The Hollower is behind it. Then Dave meets Erik and Cheryl. They see the creature too and it’s possible that the three of them working together may be able to fight this thing. They’re joined by two unlikely allies as they set off to kill something that none of them could possibly understand. 

So, as I sit here writing this, I have about 30 pages left to read of Found You, the sequel to Hollower. Yesterday, in an attempt to get some reading done and get back into shape, I took SanGiovanni's new book to the gym with me. I HURT EVERYWHERE! I'm not kidding, I am so incredibly sore I just want to go sit in the bathtub. Ugh! Part of this is her fault, too! I didn't want to put Found You down so I just kept on peddling on the stationary bike until I forced myself to go home. I did weights and elliptical and core stuff as well - the stationary bike was the cool-down if you're interested - and no, I didn't skimp on the rest of the workout just so I could get back to my book, although that is something I have been known to do. If only I could figure out how to do more of my workout with book in hand - can't go the audio route either, I like holding my books and reading at my own pace. 

Anyway, in honor of it being October and all, I am still trying to read as much horror as I can before Halloween. Add SanGiovanni to your list if you're interested in a great monster story that's a really quick read!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

New Releases 10/14

Some of the new releases hitting shelves this week are:

The Fire by Katherine Neville - the long-awaited sequel to the fabulouly wonderful literary puzzle, The Eight
Flesh House by Stuart MacBride - latest in the Logan McRae series
Final Exposure by Steve Carlson - a mystery in which an everyday man and husband vows to find out why his wife was murdered
Captives by Todd Hasak-Lowy
Poe's Children edited by Peter Straub - collection of strange and macabre horror tales. A must for fans of the genre.
The Brass Verdict by Michael Connelly
Lion Among Us by Gregory Maguire

New on DVD:
Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull
War, Inc. - yay for John Cusack!
and, the Ghost House Underground films. Go here for more info on these horror flicks. 

New reviews at Bookbitch.com:
The Fire
Final Exposure
Poe's Children 

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Life on Mars

I had to record Life on Mars the other night because I was watching CBS's premieres. So, I didn't see the new American version of Life on Mars until yesterday. It totally rocked!

I tried to watch some of the original UK version when it was playing on BBCA but it was already a few seasons in and I can't find it on DVD to watch here. Unfortunately, I can't compare ours with the original. But again, the premiere totally rocked!

Jason O'Mara plays Sam Tyler, a cop from 2008 who is hit by a car and wakes up in 1973. Harvey Keitel plays his so not by the books 1973 boss, Lt. Gene Hunt. Gretchen Moll plays Annie Norris, a member of the policewoman's division, and The Sopranos' Michael Imperioli plays Det. Ray Carling. Of course, Tyler thinks it must all be part of his imagination and this is supported by the fact that he can hear people from 2008 talking to him occasionally (through the tv and through the car stereo in ep 1). 

Irish O'Mara is fantastic! I'm in love with him after just one episode! Style-wise I think it really works. I wasn't around in the 70s, but I can tell you the 70s scenes work for me at least. And the music, the music is wonderful. I wonder if ITunes will be seeing an increase in downloads of the featured songs? 

Anyway, the show airs on Thursdays on ABC, following Grey's Anatomy (9pm my time zone). I'd recommend checking it out if you like detective shows. It'll be fun to see how it plays out considering you have a detective with all the modern-day forensic knowledge trying to figure out how to apply it in a time when it doesn't yet exist. 

Friday, October 10, 2008

Not Sick

Congestion gone! Sweet! Took yesterday off. Mike's working crazy long hour lately and he actually had yesterday off, so I decided to take the day off as well. We hung out and went to a movie and went out to eat last night. I'm back now, though.  

Back to books! It's October and I am in the mood for some horror. Last year on a trip to Denver, I discovered this great used bookstore that had some hardcover James Herbert. Herbert, called by some the UK Stephen King, has been in the game since 1974 when his title The Rats was released. In looking into a publishing company that had released another book (not his), I had come across information on Herbert's The Secret of Crickley Hall. I ordered it and waited very impatiently for the import to arrive. You know I really like to read in the rain, and it never rains over here, but we just happened have a pretty bad snowstorm hit and I was reading Crickley in this. Made for great atmosphere and the book was super creepy. So when I found this used bookstore with copies of his hardcovers, I was more than a little excited. Moon is out of print and Haunted is available in paperback, but I like hardcovers when I can get them - I snatched them up without hesitation. 

Now, I am always on the look for new horror, or even new to me horror, and was really excited after reading Crickley to discover that even though a lot of Herbert's work was published in the 80s, many of the books are still readily available. So, knowing this, I had high hopes for Haunted - you know, that it would live up to Crickley and that I would have this hidden treasure trove of horror novels to work my way through. 

Haunted so exceeded my expectations in every possible way. Now, before you run out and buy it (which you all should), you should know that this is a very quiet horror story. Herbert takes his time setting the atmosphere and building the suspense up until the big revelation and the uber creepiness that occurs at the end. I savored every page of this book and honestly wish that I could find more horror like this. If you're a movie fan, think Others

Haunted is the first story to feature paranormal investigator David Ash. Ash has been hired by an organization that investigates purported hauntings and such, specifically because he is such a skeptic. His reputation earns him an invitation to Edbrook. Nanny Tess, her niece Christina Mariell, and Christina's brothers Robert and Simon have reported some strange events at the estate and they would like David to investigate. Surprisingly, David himself witnesses the ghost on his very first evening in the home. Of course he believes that there must be a perfectly rational explanation for what he's seen and vows to figure it out. 

I loved it! I loved everything about it! Strangely, in all my years reading horror, my only previous experience with Herbert had been shelving the few new titles that have made their way over here - Once..., Nobody True, and Others (nothing to do with the movie mentioned above). I'm surprised that I haven't heard more about him. I was too young to have been reading him back in the 80s, when the majority of his work came out. I think he's been sadly overlooked by the current horror readers. I've been working my way through his collection somewhat slowly, stretching out the older titles so that I have a Herbert title to read when I'm in the mood for one. Last night I began reading The Ghosts of Sleath, the second book to feature Ash. It's reported that Herbert has planned to pen a third Ash title. He's still writing, though, and I find that each of his books is pretty different from the others. 

So, after all this rambling, if you're looking for a great haunted house story and you like quiet atmospheric reads - slow and steady intense build-up rather than in your face constant gore (which has its place but isn't always what I'm in the mood for), then you should run out and find a copy of Haunted. It is still available on Amazon, and you may be able to find it in used bookstores as well. 

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

I Hope I Am Not Getting Sick!

Couldn't sleep last night and so asked for help from some otc sleep medication. Woke up really groggy this morning and a little fuzzy around the ears. Figured it was the sleep stuff, though. Well, it's 10pm and the ears are still really foggy even after taking sudafed. Ugh! I really hope this passes without any other symptoms. 

Anyway. The Boulder Bookstore is celebrating its 35th anniversary and has some really great authors visiting town. Tonight Mike and a couple of friends and I went to see Neil Gaiman. THE Neil Gaiman! Super cool! I've not read through my whole Gaiman collection as of yet. I have read Stardust, Coraline, and Anansi Boys and the picture book Wolves in the Walls. Mike has been trying for ages to get me to read Good Omens, a book I am very much looking forward to reading but have never seemed to find the time. Neverwhere and American Gods are also waiting patiently in my TBR stack. 

Tonight, Neil read from his latest book, The Graveyard Book. If you've seen it (just out one week now) then you know it's being marketed as a kids/YA book. Gaiman told us that in the UK they have released two editions of the book, one that looks rather similar to the one here in the states and is aimed at an adult audience, and a second edition with a different illustrator that is being marketed to a younger audience. Brilliant in my opinion. Stateside, Gaiman fans seem to have no problem buying it as a "kids'" title. 

Because of the huge crowd, and no doubt thanks in part to a broken finger, Gaiman presigned stock at the event. He spent a good portion of the night reading the second half of the seventh chapter of the book - one chapter for each stop on the tour and filmed for your viewing pleasure. You can watch Neil read here

After the reading, we got to watch a teaser for the upcoming film adaptation of Coraline, due out in theaters in February. Dakota Fanning voices the heroine and Teri Hatcher is her mother and other mother! Super fun and supposed to be in 3-D. 

Before the event began, the BBS folks handed out note cards for fans to write questions on. After the Coraline preview, Gaiman picked through and answered things like (paraphrased):

What is your perfect writing atmosphere? - Anyplace without the internet... Gaiman also revealed that he used to be a night writer, until he quit smoking and drinking coffee. 

Do you write for kids or adults in mind? He answered mostly writes with himself in mind - himself as the audience. 

What's your favorite breakfast? Yes, earned some deserved jokes from the author. He did say cheese omelets, made by himself, are his fave. 

He talked about his work with Who Killed Amanda Palmer and Mirrormask. Other things, other things... honestly, I'm totally beat. Can't remember. 

National Novel Writing Month - apparently last year Gaiman wrote a pep talk/speech for participants. He revealed that while working on The Graveyard Book he went back and reread the speech himself. Quite a few authors participated this year and last and you can check out the pep talks here

Um... I have to confess, I am trying to write this while listening to the audio of Gaiman being interviewed by his daughter Maddie (fun stuff on his website). 

Great event. If you have a chance to go see Gaiman at any point in time I would highly recommend it. Check out the readings above. Read more of Gaiman's musings at his own blog. Oh, and Harpercollins has this great browse inside feature. You can check out Graveyard Book and even backlist titles

So, have fun, explore, and check out Neil Gaiman's world. And if you're in or around the Boulder area, here's the link to other upcoming events at the Boulder Bookstore. 

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

You Might Not Have Known...

... that Harlan Coben is a really funny guy. Sure, we all know he writes some of the best page-turners out there, but if you haven't read his Myron Bolitar books, well, you just don't know what you're missing. 

(I know I highlight a lot of older titles here. It's mainly because I review all the new ones over at Bookbitch.com. But what if you go over there and read a review for a really great book and find that it's actually like tenth in a series? Plus, when you find an author who does have a big backlist of existing books, it's like finding buried treasure!) 

Back to Harlan. Although the fabulously wonderful Tell No One launched Coben into the bestselling stratosphere, he was already an established author with a series of books under his belt. 

Myron Bolitar, a sports agent and sometimes PI, first popped onto the reading radar in 1995 with Deal Breaker. In the first of the series, Myron is about to sign a college football player set to go pro when the guy's ex shows up. Sort of. See, years before, the player's girlfriend disappeared. Now, a magazine with some racy photos of her shows up and Myron has to figure out what's going on before his guy's reputation is totally ruined. Nevermind the fact that he thought his girlfriend was dead and is looking to Myron for a little moral support. 

I know, I know. You're thinking, but I'm really not into sports, how do I know I will like this? Because I say you will. Just kidding. The combination works, though. You find out that Bolitar was a pro-basketball player ... for about five minutes before he blew out his knee. Needing to find an alternate career path, Myron and his yuppy ninja master buddy Win do some off and on work for the feds. Now, all growed up and graduated, Myron represents kids like him and Winn helps pick up the pieces when Myron pisses people off. 

Myron also appeared in Promise Me, which was essentially a stand-alone thriller. 

Now, I've met Coben and he really is more like his Myron books in person. He's not brooding or dark. Nope, he's hilarious! To give you a clue, I used to equate this series to the closest you'd get to a male Janet E. 

There are seven books in the series (not counting Promise Me) so if you find yourself looking for something to read before Long Lost comes out in March (and drum roll, it's going to be a new Myron book - not sure if it'll be like Promise Me or closer to the series) and you've been contemplating reading these, do yourself a favor and go pick up Deal Breaker and a couple of Yoo-Hoos (Bolitar's drink of choice) and have some fun!