Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Thrills and Chills and Things That Go Bump in the Night!

I'm always on the lookout for fresh new authors and one that can creep me out is even better. One of my favorite new ones is the inimitable Alexandra Sokoloff. 

Not one to be pinned down with one genre, she is quite simply amazing. I loved her debut, The Harrowing, which you can read a bit about here. And am waiting anxiously for her latest book, The Unseen, to hit shelves in May. 

If you're looking for something to take your mind off of the current climate (literal and figurative) around you, you should definitely seek out one of Sokoloff's titles. Her second book, The Price, is a dark tale of desperation and faith that reaches into the darkest depths of the human heart. 

Have I got your curiosity piqued? Then here is my review of The Price:

Horror fans were in for a treat with Sokoloff’s amazing and original debut, The Harrowing. Her second release is no less amazing. 

How far would you go to save the life of a loved-one? To save yourself? This is the question that Sokoloff poses in The Price. Miracles happen all the time. Hospitals make a business out of them. Brilliant doctors make new discoveries in science everyday. People are cured, seemingly miraculously, and go on to live long and healthy lives. Something different is happening at Briarwood Medical Center, though. Within these hallowed halls someone waits. He listens, intent on hearing those four magic words, “I would do anything.” Will Sullivan is about to discover just how far one will go to experience the hope of a miracle. Extraordinarily creepy. Sokoloff infuses even the most innocent scenes with an undeniable sense of dread. You know something bad is coming but it still sneaks up and scares the pants off of you.

Readers looking for something new and original in the horror/thriller genres should be reading Alexandra Sokoloff. The mix of intense situations and suspense plus the supernatural element and creep factor make her books the ultimate in late night reading!

Monday, March 30, 2009

Another Must Read From My Collection!

Ok, first I want you to know that I am posting this about a week in advance. Why? Because I am finishing the last 50 pages of Brian Freeman's upcoming Jonathan Stride book, In the Dark, and I realized, like I always do, that I've not posted anything about Brian Freeman yet. 

So, I'll be nice and start with the very first book in the series (since I want you to run out and buy it and read in order). But seeing as how this came out while I was still a bookseller and only doing newsletter reviews, I have to borrow from an outside source for the synopsis. 

Straight from Brian Freeman's website, here is some info on his amazing, edge-of-your-seat debut Jonathan Stride thriller, Immoral

Lieutenant Jonathan Stride is suffering from an ugly case of déjà vu. For the second time in a year, a beautiful teenage girl has disappeared off the streets of Duluth, Minnesota. Gone without a trace, like a bitter gust off Lake Superior.

The two victims couldn't be more different. First it was Kerry McGrath. Bubbly. Sweet sixteen. And now Rachel Deese. Strange and sexually charged. A wild child.

The media is hounding Stride to catch a serial killer. But Stride, haunted by personal loss and by his failure to solve Kerry's murder the year before, doesn't think the answer is that simple. As he exposes Rachel's twisted background, he begins to believe that the truth behind Rachel's disappearance is more complex than anyone imagines. And more evil.

The search carries Stride from the icy stillness of the northern woods to the erotic heat of Las Vegas. And Stride finds his own life changed forever by the secrets he uncovers.

Secrets that stretch across time in a web of lies, death, and illicit desire.

Secrets that are chillingly... immoral.

And because I will never recommend a book that I didn't enjoy, it's obvious that I liked this one. But it was more than that! I LOVED it. This was a really stand-out debut for me. First because Freeman did something that I hadn't ever really seen in a mystery before. He moved on. Halfway through the book, it's months after the fact and Stride is trying to move on. Then he changes pace and ends up in Vegas. It really shakes up the book. Second, because I love Stride and Maggie Bei and the setting. And finally, because they're freaking intense! I would recommend reading when you know you can devote enough time to finishing. You won't want to put this down for anything. 

Immoral is a super fast read. If you like Harlan Coben, you're going to love Brian Freeman. And, Stride's tales continue in Stripped, Stalked, and now In the Dark (due out Tuesday!). 

Also, I just learned that Freeman is half of the team Ally O'Brien's The Agency. Yep, it's true. Freeman and London agent Ali Gunn are Ally O'Brien. I should have a chance to delve into Freeman's feminine side shortly. Until then, run out and buy Immoral if you haven't already! I'll post some follow-ups about Stripped and Stalked before I post about In the Dark (which is fabulous, chilling, heart wrenching, and as intense as the rest of the series). In the meantime, if you are caught up on your Freeman, my review of In the Dark is now up at bookbitch.com

Sunday, March 29, 2009

New Releases 3/31

Some of the titles hitting shelves this week are:

Red-Headed Stepchild by Jaye Wells - first in a fun new urban fantasy series featuring a half mage, half vampire assassin

Afraid by Jack Kilborn - a thriller from JA Konrath and a definite one-sitting read

Unseen by Nancy Bush - a stand-alone romantic suspense from the author of the Jane Kelly series

In the Dark by Brian Freeman - fourth in the fantastic Jonathan Stride series

The Stranger by Max Frei - a Russian import!

Darling Jim by Christian Moerk - a new gothic read

Long Lost by Harlan Coben - a new Myron Bolitar mystery! Grab your Yoo-Hoo!

Nightwalker by Heather Graham

Malice by Lisa Jackson - the latest in her New Orleans "series"

New releases on DVD:
Tell No One - finally, finally, finally! The award-winning French film based on Harlan Coben's bestseller
Slumdog Millionaire
Marley & Me
Seven Pounds 
and the latest Horrorfest films:
The Broken
From Within
Perkins 14
Butterfly Effect 3
Dying Breed

New reviews at Bookbitch.com:
Red-Headed Stepchild
In the Dark
Long Lost

Saturday, March 28, 2009

In Case You Missed it...

So you all should know by now that I love food just as much as I love books and a while back, I posted about a new shop in Boulder called the Savory Spice Shop. I love this store. They have just about everything you could possibly be looking for in the spice department and they have some fabulous blends of their own, complete with recipes to get you started. 

Well, today the owners were on Paula's Best Dishes on Food Network, making Harissa Spiced Green Bean Salad, Marrakesh Chicken with Artichokes and some other dishes using spices from their shop. 

If you missed it this morning, the recipes are available online and the show will re-air on Monday. 

Some more titles to look forward to

I could go on for weeks about the upcoming books that I'm excited about. Instead, I'll finish up today with some of the other highlights that are on my MUST HAVE list. 

First up is Cecelia Ahern's Thanks for the Memories due out on April 7. Believe it or not, I am a big chick-lit fan. When Helen Fielding's Bridget Jones's Diary hit shelves in 1998, I had to have it. It was one of the first hardcover books I purchased on my own. I loved it. I definitely have my favorites in the genre and Ahern has been one of them ever since I read PS I Love You

And then there's Louise Ure's Liars Anonymous, due out April 14. My first of Louise's books was last year's The Fault Tree (now out in paperback). Here characters and her setting are so well written that it left me literally thirsting for more. 

Next is Gillian Flynn's Dark Places, due out May 5. Flynn's dark and somewhat disturbing debut, Sharp Objects, was quite literally one of the best books I have ever read. I've been waiting patiently for this follow-up and now I am dying to read it. 

One of my favorite debuts last year was Tom Rob Smith's Child 44, a thriller and mystery set in Stalinist Russia. His follow-up, The Secret Speech, continues Leo Demidov's story and is due out on May 19. 

June 1 sees the release of the first title in Laura Caldwell's new trilogy, Red Hot Lies. Laura was on one of the ITW (international thriller writers) panels at LCC in '07 and talked about this project. I've been anxious to dig in ever since. 

I'm always on the hunt for new horror and the UK's Conrad Williams is one of my favorite new discoveries. His bleak, post apocalyptic title One hits shelves on June 9. International Horror Guild award winner, The Unblemished, was one of the most disturbingly strange horror novels I've read in ages. I have heard that One is even better!

A thriller that's been getting tons of buzz this year is Linda Castillo's Sworn to Silence, due out June 23. Castillo is the author of numerous previous award winning titles (and she really looks too young for all that accomplishment). Sworn promises to be one this summer's hottest thrillers.

And finally, The Girl Who Played with Fire by Stieg Larsson, out July 28, is the follow-up to what must be one of the most talked about debuts of 2008, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. Sadly, Larsson's trilogy is being published posthumously, so there is only one more book to round out the series.  

Friday, March 27, 2009


I really like that paranormals are at their peak right now. I know some people wonder when there will be too many vampire books, but let's face it, there's just so much you can do with the subject. I mean how many serial killer books can you have? An infinite number in my mind because there are always new spins on the same old story, making it fresh and new and exciting. Vampires are open to even more creativity if you think about it. I mean you could have a vampire serial killer if you wanted. There are mean nasty vamps and there are smolderingly handsome vamps. There are manipulative vamps and even overweight vamps. 

I think The Strain is definitely going to be a stand-out, totally original vampire books. First off, Guillermo del Toro has a hand in it and the man is just freaking awesome. Chuck Hogan, known for his crime novels The Standoff and Prince of Thieves, co-authors this first book of a projected trilogy. 

Here's some info from the product description at BN.com:

A Boeing 777 lands at JFK after a flight from Berlin and is on its way to the gate-when it suddenly goes dark. Just stops dead. The control tower loses contact with the pilot and all electrical activity shuts down. No movement or communication from inside. Nada. An emergency crew gathers, everyone watching the silent plane now bathed in floodlights. Then a sliver of black quietly appears on the fuselage. It's a door opening from within. 

Dr. Eph Goodweather, head of the CDC's New York team, enters and finds a cabin looking like a winged graveyard where everyone appears to be dead. As he begins to remove bodies for transport to the morgue, four victims are discovered miraculously alive-and relatively unscathed apart from complaints of disorientation and a strange soreness. 

But this is just the beginning

At the same time, Eldrich Palmer, director of the global Stoneheart Group, monitors the JFK scene on TV from his sickbed in Virginia. Pleased with what he sees, he sends for a helicopter for immediate transport to a Manhattan penthouse. In Queens, Eph's ex-wife Kelley and their 11-year-old son ready themselves with the rest of the Eastern United States for the first total lunar eclipse in more than four hundred years. In a pawn shop in Spanish Harlem, a former professor and survivor of the Nazi concentration camps named Abraham Setrakian takes it all in. He knows that his time has come, that a war is about to begin, and that the Master is Here.

So begins anescalating battle of epic proportions as the vampiric virus that has infected the four survivors begins to ravage the city. Eph-guided by Setrakian, and joined by Vassily, a exterminator, Nora, Eph's CDC colleague, and Gus, a Harlem gangbanger-fights his way through the next horrifying days, determined to save his wife and son before the Master succeeds in his unholy mission.

I am so excited! Now we all know that this is not del Toro's first foray into vamp world. In 1993, his film Cronos was a vampire flick that's a little different from what you might be used to. And then there's Blade II

I haven't been able to really find any info on the inspiration for this project, but it does look as though del Toro was in talks with FOX back in '06 about producing a dark fantasy series about vamps called The Strain

The Strain hits shelves on June 2 and promises to be one of this summer's blockbuster titles. 

Thursday, March 26, 2009


I am totally excited about Blake Crouch's new book. This is not a debut, but this year will be Blake Crouch's year. I feel it. Crouch is the author of Locked Doors and Desert Places, and his latest  title Abandon will be hitting shelves on my b-day! On top of that, he has also contributed to the upcoming Thriller 2 edited by Clive Cussler (due out June 1st). 

Crouch lives here in Colorado, and apparently began working on Abandon in 2005 after being inspired by his new home. The book has been getting praise from some of the biggest in the thriller genre, including JA Konrath, Lee Child, and Marcus Sakey. 

Here's some info on Abandon, straight from Crouch's site:

On Christmas Day in 1893, every man, woman and child in a remote mining town will disappear, belongings forsaken, meals left to freeze in vacant cabins, and not a single bone will be found--not even the gold that was rumored to have been the pride of this town will be found either. One hundred and thirteen years later, two backcountry guides are hired by a leading history professor and his journalist daughter to lead them into the abandoned mining town so that they can learn what happened. This has been done once before but the people that went in did not come out. With them is a psychic, and a paranormal photographer--the town is rumored to be haunted. They've come to see a ghost town, but what they are about to discover is that twenty miles from civilization, with a blizzard bearing down, they are not alone, and the past is very much alive....

And, if you visit the link above, you can read the first chapter! I can't wait to read this one. It sounds creepy and completely fantastic! I love this type of thing, and it takes place in Colorado where I can still imagine that ghost towns are cool (I've not been to one the whole time I've been here and though I've heard they can be quite disappointing, I have nothing to ruin my view). 

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

A summer release not to be missed

Third in my "I Just Can't Wait for This Book to Come Out" posts is Carlos Ruiz Zafon's Angel's Game, prequel to the fantabulous Shadow of the Wind, one of my favorite books ever. I posted here about that one and told you all how excited I was about this upcoming release, but have any info on the release other than that it was a prequel. 

Well, the book is due out on June 16 (mark your calendars) and here's some info from Amazon:

In an abandoned mansion at the heart of Barcelona, a young man - David Martin - makes his living by writing sensationalist novels under a pseudonym. The survivor of a troubled childhood, he has taken refuge in the world of books, and spends his nights spinning baroque tales about the city's underworld. But perhaps his dark imaginings are not as strange as they seem, for in a locked room deep within the house are letters hinting at the mysterious death of the previous owner. Like a slow poison, the history of the place seeps into his bones as he struggles with an impossible love. Then David receives a letter from a reclusive French editor, Andreas Corelli, who makes him the offer of a lifetime. He is to write a book with the power to change hearts and minds. In return, he will receive a fortune, perhaps more. But as David begins the work, he realises that there is a connection between this haunting book and the shadows that surround his home. 

Set in the turbulent 1920s, The Angel's Game takes us back to the gothic universe of the Cemetery of the Forgotten Books, the Sempere and Son bookshop, and the winding streets of Barcelona's old quarter, in a masterful tale about the magic of books and the darkest corners of the human soul.

Shadow of the Wind is such a beautifully written, gothic tale that I don't see how this one could be any less magnificent. Plus, if you're like me and you love books about books, this one should give us more insight into the mysterious tales that fill Shadow of the Wind. 

I'm a big fan of gothic reads. It's a style that I think either few are interested in mastering these days, or that few are able to master these days. Zafon's US debut was one of the first modern gothic tales that I read and it left me wanting more. 

I should also point out that Angel's Game has been translated by Lucia Graves who also translated In the Shadow of the Wind

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Another one to watch for

So I thought that since I started off this week with a post about an upcoming book that I just can't wait for, I would just go ahead and make this whole week about some of the upcoming books that I'm desperate to get my grubby hands on. 

Today is Mo Hayder day. Yep. Skin, the upcoming Jack Caffery book is due out in the UK on March 26 and I have my copy pre-ordered. I've talked about Mo here and here, the first being a post I did back in the beginning about the differences between American and UK readers and the criticism that certain authors have garnered thanks to their very violent storylines, and the second being a post about my introduction to Hayder with Devil of Nanking, a book some people are forever reminding me has scarred them for life even though they really liked it. 

As I'm sure that I have pointed out before, there are a handful of overseas authors who I just must have asap, and that means not waiting for a US release to read them. Hayder is one of those and I am antsy for my copy of Skin. The promo material I read about Ritual, the previous Jack Caffery book, said that Hayder was referring to these as her Walking Man series. Now, the Walking Man was a small character in Ritual who has a big impact on Jack, freshly transferred to Bristol and teamed up with a police diver with her own issues. I'm really anxious to see what's going to happen to both Jack and Flea next. 

Here's a bit about what's coming in Skin, from Mo Hayder's site:

When the decomposed body of a young woman is found by near railway tracks just outside Bristol one hot May morning, all indications are that she's committed suicide. That's how the police want it too; all neatly squared and tidied away. But DI Jack Caffery is not so sure. He is on the trail of someone predatory, someone who hides in the shadows and can slip into houses unseen. And for the first time in a very long time, he feels scared. Police Diver Flea Marley is working alongside Caffery. Having come to terms with the loss of her parents, and with the traumas of her past safely behind her, she's beginning to wonder whether their relationship could go beyond the professional. And then she finds something that changes everything. Not only is it far too close to home for comfort - but it's so horrifying that she knows that nothing will ever be the same again. And that this time, no one - not even Caffery - can help her ...

No official word yet on the US release of Skin, but I'm guessing it will be sometime this fall. Readers looking for edge your seat suspense should definitely check out Hayder. Devil of Nanking and Pig Island are both stand-alones and the Jack Caffery series is as follows: 

The Treatment

Ritual can be read without having read the previous books in the series, but it looks as though Skin takes place just days after Ritual, so you have to read those two in sequence. Also, if you've read Birdman and Treatment, then you get a better feel for Caffery himself. 

Note that these books are not for the squeamish! Of all of them, I have heard critics say that they found Birdman especially disturbing and as I said earlier, other readers that I've recommended Devil of Nanking to have said that that one is particularly gruesome. Personally, The Treatment is the one that I found particularly brutal in both content and subject matter. So be warned. I love them all, though. Hayder is brilliant and should have a HUGE fan base here in the states in my opinion. People just don't know what they're missing!

And, as always, I will post here the minute I have finished reading Skin so you'll know what I think. 

Monday, March 23, 2009

In Preparation

So I know that I usually wait until I've actually read a book to post about it, but I can't wait on this one. 

Sometimes it takes a couple of times before I buy a book. This is when, unlike this week, I am more aware of the amount I am spending and I'm feeling a bit guilty. But, I have to say that I usually have my mind made up the first time I pick up a book and in this case, it was only a matter of time before I bought it. And that time was probably about a week because I started to look for it at every bookstore that I went to. It was Natasha Mostert's Season of the Witch, which you can read about here. I was completely blown away by this book. All of the different concepts that are combined to create what is a sort of gothic paranormal mystery meshed perfectly. Mostert had me and I can guarantee that every release from here on out (and before, because I sought them out as well) are on my Must Buy list. 

So, I am thrilled that her new book is finally about to hit shelves. It is called Keeper of Light and Dust here in the states, and The Keeper in the UK. 

Once again, Mostert is using philosphy and mythology to tell a tale that is going to be 100% original in concept. And I can't wait! The book is due out on April 2 and I think you should all run out and buy it, or start with Season and see if you don't agree that Mostert is brilliantly talented. 

Here is some info on Keeper, as found on Mostert's page:

What is the greatest desire of all?

In the death choked corridors of Palermo's famous catacombs, a young man asks this question of himself as he stands surrounded by eight thousand mummified corpses. The answer he gives, will set the course of his life and take him on a journey into the heart of darkness.

Adrian Ashton is a brilliant man: a quantum physicist and chronobiologist who has devoted his life to the study of chi - the vital energy that runs through our bodies. A gifted scientist, he is also a skilled martial artist - and a hunter. Calling himself Dragonfly, he preys on fighters and martial artists who are blessed with a strong life force, draining them of their chi and making it his own. To assist him in his quest, he draws on the knowledge contained in an enigmatic Chinese text written by a legendary Chinese physician in the thirteenth century.

But the hunter becomes the hunted when a mysterious woman enters his life. A martial artist herself, she belongs to a long line of Keepers: women who are warriors, healers and protectors. When Dragonfly targets the man she loves, she sets out to defeat him. It becomes a fight to the death in which love is both the greatest weakness and the biggest prize.

A fast-paced, highly original thriller, Keeper of Light and Dust blends mysticism with science and explores themes as old as time: the imperative of violence, the redemptive power of love and the greatest desire of all -- to live for ever.

See, doesn't it sound fab?! And you can see Mostert herself talk about the book here

Mostert is also the author of Windwalker, a very gothic tale about soul mates, The Other Side of Darkness, a mystery, and The Midnight Side, a ghost story of sorts. Other Side and Midnight Side are out of print, so if you can find them I recommend snatching them up. I haven't found Other Side yet. 

Readers who enjoy mysteries with a touch of paranormal and philosophical riddles will love Natasha Mostert. I highly recommend her and will definitely keep you posted once I have read Keeper myself. 

Sunday, March 22, 2009

New Releases 3/24

Some of the new releases hitting shelves this week are:

The Dark Volume by Gordon Dahlquist - sequel to the amazingly fabulous Glass Books of the Dream Eaters

Secrets to Happiness by Sarah Dunn 

In the Courts of the Sun by Brian D'Amato - first in a projected trilogy about the Maya end of the world prediction

True Detectives by Jonathan Kellerman

Pursuit by Karen Robards

The Long Fall by Walter Mosely - introducins PI Leonid McGill

New on DVD:
Quantum of Solace

New reviews at Bookbitch.com:
The Serpent's Tale by Ariana Franklin
The Writing on my Forehead by Nafisa Haji
Wondrous Strange by Lesley Livingston
The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Online shopping is just way too easy!

So I'm a binge buyer. I'm not sure if this term exists, but it's what I am. I tend to be pretty ok about NOT spending money for short periods of time, but as soon as I loosen my fist and begin buying, look out! 

This week (and this is listed as much for my benefit as for yours), I bought:

The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan (16.99)
Jamie Oliver's cooking magazine (9.99)

Tell No One dvd (18.99)
'wichcraft: Craft a Sandwich Into a Meal by Tom Colicchio (18.15)
Last Ritual by Yrsa Sigurdardottir (4.95)
Therapy by Sebastian Fitzek (12.97)
Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton (12.97) 
7 arcs (35)

Sex, Murder, and a Double Latte by Kyra Davis (6.00)
Passion, Betrayal, and Killer Highlights by Kyra Davis (6.00)
Twilight dvd (17.99)

Total spending this week - $160


The good news is that I'm not buying clothes right now. I work from home so I'm wearing tees and jeans all the time. Groceries are really the only other thing that I spend my money on. Now, I'm not quite sure how bad a month's spending would look. I can tell you that I don't currently PLAN on buying any more books this month. Lisa Jackson's Malice hits shelves on the 31st, but I think I can restrain myself until next month at least.

But still, agh! Ah well, buyers remorse bites, but you get my point. I may go all next month without buying any books at all. If only I were stinking rich. 

In my defense, because I feel I need it right now and on top of the fact that I've already pointed out that I am not spending money on anything else, I did get some good deals. Here's how the original prices on my on sale purchases:

Tell No One dvd (18.99) reg 27.98
'wichcraft: Craft a Sandwich Into a Meal by Tom Colicchio (18.15) reg 27.50
Last Ritual by Yrsa Sigurdardottir (4.95) reg 23.95
Therapy by Sebastian Fitzek (12.97) reg 25.95
Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton (12.97) reg 26.00
7 arcs (35) each reg ~ 25.00

Sex, Murder, and a Double Latte by Kyra Davis (6.00) paperback 13.95 and seemingly out of print
Passion, Betrayal, and Killer Highlights by Kyra Davis (6.00) paperback 13.95 
Twilight dvd (17.99) reg 32.99

And, my Kyra Davis books are a. not for sure purchases since and b. hardcovers not paperbacks (I couldn't find the hardcovers listed). So that's about $200 savings (nevermind the fact that I would not have bought ANY of these if they hadn't been on sale - or at least not all this week that is). 

Hm. Ok, I'm going to eat my bologna now and maybe this will be a new tactic for losing weight - no grocery money = no food to eat = me losing weight while reading : )

Kidding. I do have a job. But I would gladly go on a ramen diet if necessary. And it's more books for me to tell you all about!

Friday, March 20, 2009

First one Down

It's 2:30 am and I am exhausted. I can only hope that this post will be at least semi-coherent, though, because I finished one of my reads and it was so utterly amazingly fantastic, that it just had to be today's post. 

See, I told you I could wrap it up fast, and now my sisters can have it by the end of next week. I totally can't wait to hear what they think about it, seeing as they're the intended audience and all. Obviously my ventures into the teen section are paying off lately for all of us (actually, I've had a string of great reads of late). 

This is a debut that I think many adults will be surprised to find is a teen read. While many are great fun for adults, Carrie Ryan's debut could easily be shelved in an adult horror section and you'd never, ever, ever know the difference. 

So, without further adieu, here's a bit about the horrific and bleak (but still totally teen appropriate) The Forest of Hands and Teeth, by Carrie Ryan:

Mary knows little about the event now referred to as the Return, but she knows that she and her family are safe behind the fence. The Guardians ensure that the Unconsecrated can't get in, and the Sisters take care of everyone. Order is very important in their society and most are content to live according to the rules that have been in place for so long. Tales of a time before the fence and the plague of walking dead leave Mary yearning for more, though. When her own mother is bitten and becomes infected, Mary is forced to join the Sisterhood. While living within the confines of the Cathedral, pining away for her true love, a love that is completely out of reach, Mary witnesses something the Sisterhood are willing to kill to keep quiet. An outsider from beyond the protected gate, slips through the barrier one evening. Mary is desperate to ask her about what lay beyond her tiny town, but the next time Mary sees the girl, it is not in the safe sanctuary. The girl has been cast out, without anyone in the village the wiser, and has become one of the most dangerous Unconsecrated they have ever faced. She is smarter and faster than the others and she will lead to the Sisterhood's undoing. When the fence is breached, Mary and a few others flee the town, facing the unknown world outside for the very first time. Will they survive or are humans done for?

I did attempt to bring this one to the gym with me, as I said last night, but I didn't get very far. Nope, this was a totally one-sitting read that I couldn't force myself to put down no matter how late it was getting (obviously). The only problem is that I desperately want more of this world. Run out and buy it yourself (it's a teen hardcover so you know it's cheaper than an adult one and it's completely worth it). And I'll even let you in on a little info I found at Carrie Ryan's website: Ryan's second book, tentatively due out some time next year, will take place in Mary's world. YAY!

If you're a fan o post-apocalyptic zombie tales (as I am) then you need to read this book. I just know you'll love it. And as soon as I get a true teen opinion, I'll give you guys an update, but based on how much they liked Marianne Mancusi's Razor Girl, I'm fairly certain they're going to LOVE this book. 

Thursday, March 19, 2009


I rarely read more than one book at a time. I usually read fast enough that there's really no point. After the incident on St. Patty's Day, however, I needed some stress-less reading, so I skipped ahead and started reading Rachel Vincent's upcoming Shifters book, Prey

I know, I know. I'm pretty good about sticking to my schedule, but I needed something to help me wind down. So, I allowed myself one night with it, and made it about halfway through. I am dying to get back to it, but my incredible guilt over straying from the schedule was weighing on me. 

So I read Nafisa Haji's debut, The Writing on my Forehead (a fantastic debut in my humble opinion, and one that I was supposed to read this week). Also on my schedule for this week was Deborah Turrell Atkinson's Pleasing the Dead, fourth in her Storm Kayama Hawaii mystery series. So, after finishing Haji's title in the wee hours of the morning, I jumped into that one. 

Then, I made a mistake. I promised my sister that I would send her a package on Monday (that wasn't the mistake). But, I just bought Carrie Ryan's The Forest of Hands and Teeth, a post-apocalyptic zombie novel for teens. The mistake was in thinking that I could knock it out fast enough to still review it this week and include it in the package as a surprise. So, I brought it to the gym (since that tactic worked so well with Lesley Livingston's Wondrous Strange) but then found myself so freaking exhausted that I got barely 20 pages in before I came home and pigged out. 

So, where does that leave me? Rambling and in the middle of four books! Agh! The good news, in this strictly all about me (but still every single one of these books is fab so I'm kind of doing my duty recommending books) is that I am ahead for the work week and can pretty much take tomorrow off to read! Yay! 

So to recap - Rachel Vincent is my hero, Nafisa Haji should be recommended to everyone, Deborah Turrell Atkinson will make you feign for sun, white sand, and cobalt blue ocean, and Carrie Ryan is totally addicting! No worries, I'll keep you all posted, but I didn't want another radio silent day to pass. 

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Aw, isn't the hellhound cute?!

No blog today. Am totally unprepared. I was up until 2am stewing about my dinner. Yep, cooked corned beef and cabbage for the holiday and the dog ate it. Yeah. This photo, btw, is not on the same day as the incident, but this is her chilling in my office (only room with space for the spare bed). And she thinks she's going to do it again today. I am in no mood. 

So, I'll pick up tomorrow - I've been bad and as some much needed therapy over my 6 hour dog treat, I shirked my review duties for the evening and read ahead with a July book. I'll tease you with it tomorrow. 

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Happy St. Patty's Day!

Are you enjoying your green beer and corned beef and cabbage? Or maybe a Guinness and Irish stew? Hope you remembered your green. 

I thought that since today is an Irish holiday, that I should showcase an Irish author. Seeing as how I've owned quite a few of this man's books (thanks to bookseller hoarding) and yet only just began his series, I though it was time to post something about John Connolly

Connolly, as many of you already know, is the author of the ever so popular (amongst mystery and thriller fans) Charlie "Bird" Parker series, which is set not in Ireland, but in the U.S. 

In the first of the series, Every Dead Thing, Charlie has been out of commission for a while thanks to the murder of his wife and daughter. At the time, he was a police officer with a heavy drinking problem. Now, he's retired and working the private sector. In the first half of the book, Parker has been hired to track down a missing woman. He traces her to a small town in Virginia where she grew up. It just so happens, that when the woman was much younger, her own sister was abducted and killed, along with several other children. Parker's nosing about in the long ago crime has riled up quite a few townsfolk who would like nothing more than for him to leave, by force if necessary. Parker solves his case and returns to NYC where he is contacted by someone claiming to be behind the murder of his family. This leads Parker to New Orleans where, with the help of an odd pairing of pals, he attempts to finally track down the man responsible for taking away everything he ever loved. 

Every Dead Thing reads, in some ways, like two novellas brought together to form the beginnings of a series. Not at all a bad thing, and definitely something that makes this book stand out. It's not many authors who start fresh with a new story in the middle of a book. Although, in many other ways, it's not at all a new story. Parker is plagued by the murder of his wife and daughter throughout the entire first half of the novel. Connolly's brutal tale is not for the faint-hearted; it's truly a shocking and suspenseful thriller. Every Dead Thing was a Shamus winner in 2000 for Best First PI Novel.

Connolly's series continues with The Killing Kind which is followed (in order) by:
White Road
Black Angel
The Unquiet
The Lovers (due out in June)

Connolly has also written two stand-alones, Bad Men and The Book of Lost Things, a fairy tale that any adult will enjoy, as well as a collection of short stories entitled Nocturnes

Other Irish authors you might be interested in are:
  • Declan Hughes - author of the Irish suspense series featuring Ed Loy (Wrong Kind of Blood, The Color of Blood, and The Dying Breed (aka The Price of Blood, U.S.)
  • Tana French - Edgar winner in the Best First Novel category for In the Woods, which is followed by The Likeness
  • Ken Bruen - author of the dark Irish-noir Jack Taylor series
  • John Boyne - author of The Boy in the Striped Pajamas and historical mysteries Crippen, Next of Kin, and Mutiny: A Novel of the Bounty (aka The King's Shilling UK)
There are a ton of others, too many to list, but I suggest you treat yourself to an Irish coffee (if it's cold enough) and settle in with one of these authors today in celebration! 

Monday, March 16, 2009

Let's Talk Teens'

A recent article in PW, the back page article, focused on teen titles and the idea that while adults are skeptical upon hearing the word "teen" attached to any read, that many of the new titles do appeal to older audiences. 

I've never been one to turn my nose up at a teen book, but I don't read as many as I like. Considering they are so quick, though, I have begun slipping more in between my other reads. I also know that plenty of paranormal readers of my age and older are dipping into the teen section for books like the Rachel Caine's Morganville Vampires series, the upcoming YA series by Shifters author Rachel Vincent, Kelley Armstrong's YA books, and even the upcoming Kim Harrison teen series. 

Last night I read Wondrous Strange by Lesley Livingston (one of the specific titles mentioned in the article). I ran out and bought it for the Junior Junkies, but decided to hang onto it so that I could read it first (that and Bliss by Lauren Myracle). Strange is such a fast read that I found I had read 1/3 at the gym alone. I finished it last night and now I want more!

It's a fairy story. Not a fairy tale, but a story about the fey and their realm bleeding out into ours. In Central Park lies the Samhain Gate, a thin connection between the worlds that King Auberon had tried to seal and failed. Each year on Halloween, the gate opens and Auberon's Janus guards -- changelings chosen specifically to guard the gate -- are set to work. Every nine years, though, something called the Nine-Night occurs. For not one, but nine nights total, beings can cross between the two worlds and it is the job of the Janus to make sure that this doesn't happen. This year is the year of the Nine-Night. Sonny Flannery, one of the Janus, discovers a girl wandering in Central Park on the first night of the Nine. This girl seems to be something more than a mere mortal, but Sonny leaves her for his duty. Then he finds that while all of the guards were busy on this night, something managed to pass through the gate, and all of the evidence points to a connection to this girl. Who or what she is, Sonny does not know, but his first clue is a script to Midsummer Night's Dream

This is a fun book that incorporates all kinds of mythology and fey tales. Midsummer plays a big part, but there are Norse myths and Celtic myths and there's probably more than I can't even pinpoint at this time. 

If you like mythology and fey tales, and if you have a reading teen in your life, give Wondrous Strange a try. My sister, the one in love with all things fanged, has recently become enthralled with fairies -- not cutesy fairy tales, but dark fairy tricksters and evil fey realms -- she's going to love this one! And I certainly hope to see more of this world and these characters from Livingston. 

Sunday, March 15, 2009

New Releases 3/17

Some of the new titles hitting shelves this week are:

Until it's Over by Nicci French - a very British thriller from husband and wife team

Broken Wing by Thomas Lakeman - third in his series, but it can be read as a stand-alone

Shatter by Michael Robotham - third to feature psychologist Joseph O'Loughlin

Grave Goods by Ariana Franklin - third in the 13th century forensics series, love it!

Alexander Cipher by Will Adams - a debut archaeology based adventure

Manna From Hades by Carola Dunn - first in a new series of Cornish mysteries (from the author of the Daisy Dalrymple series)

The Last Dickens by Matthew Pearl - a literary mystery 

New on DVD:
Twilight!!!!! (the 21st)

New reviews at Bookbitch.com:
The Tricking of Freya by Christina Sunley
Precious by Karen Novack
The Little Sleep by Paul Tremblay
Until it's Over
Broken Wing

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Oh, So Close...

So I have refrained from posting any really Twilight-y things here because I figure that anyone who is interested in reading it will on their own. I also figure that enough people have weighed in thus far that one more in favor is just a small ripple in a big pond. 

But, I have to admit that I am really excited about the upcoming dvd release. I loved the movie. It follows the book really closely, which is always a good thing. In the case of Twilight, however, I think that you are remiss if you haven't read the book first. It's not your typical vampire movie. Meyer does a fantastic job, in my opinion, of creating her characters and letting the reader get to know them. Works for a book and works for book fans who see the movie, but I think some people who maybe saw the movie first were probably a little miffed that it took so long for the action. IT'S CALLED STORY DEVELOPMENT (something that is lacking in a lot of films these days). 

Granted, it's still an angsty teen vampire flick, but that's what I love about it! I will admit that after seeing the movie it took great restraint for me not to return again. And, considering some of the other things I was seeing at the theaters around the same time (Haunting of Molly Hartley, Eagle Eye, Max Payne, The Boy in the Striped Pajamas), well it really just hit the spot as far as what I wanted in a movie at the time (story, and no tears). 

So yes, I will be buying the dvd and doing my part to help sales. 

In related news, word is that filming is beginning this month on New Moon (wow that one WILL be a tearjerker) and they will be filming the remaining movies back to back (yay!). As best I can tell, everyone is returning for movie two - Taylor Lautner has even been bulking up to play the transformed Jacob Black. I'm psyched (I'm a dork). And, right now the tentative release date is November of this year. 

Also, fyi, I know some stores are doing a midnight release party for the dvd. I won't be attending one, but if this is something you're interested in, check with your local bookstores to see if they are one of them. 

Friday, March 13, 2009

Oh, the Pain!

Sorry no post yesterday guys and gals. I meant to, I really did. I had a session with a personal trainer yesterday (my gym is actually really cheap compared to others and the training sessions are pretty affordable for someone in a pinch - like me). 

My high school reunion is coming up and I, sadly, have gained since leaving my 8 hours a day on my feet job at the bookstore for a desk job. One would think that since I currently work from home that it would be easier to get to the gym and watch what I eat. And actually, I found out that in the just over a year that I've worked from home, I've not gained any weight (yay!). No, I gained it all in the two years before that (boo!). So I'm maintaining at least. But I want to be in better shape in general and especially for my reunion. 

So, too much information there! I got home yesterday and was already in quite a bit of pain and totally exhausted. No post (yeah, I should have done it before hand). 

Anyway, one of the love/hate things I have about the gym is that I want to actually get some reading done while I'm there. I'm not in my own home and can't choose my tv programming, so I want to read. That's only really possible for me on the stationary bike, though. And the stationary bike, while being a workout, is not as much of a workout as, say, the arc trainers. Ah well, I still do the bike for my cool down and my current gym buddy is Ariana Franklin's The Serpent's Tale. Grave Goods, book three in the series, is due out on Tuesday and I'm trying to catch up. 

So, I already posted about the first in this historical mystery series, Mistress of the Art of Death, and now it's time for book two. (See here for previous post)

In the time since solving the mystery of the murdered children in Cambridge, Adelia and her caravan have been exiled to the countryside (the Fens). Not truly exiled, but in order to escape murmurings of witchcraft and seeing as how her bodyguard is from the dreaded East... In that time, Adelia has also given birth to Allie, her child out of wedlock thanks to her affair with Rowley (now a man of the cloth after the King's promotion). But Adelia, Mansur, and even Gyltha have been living quite happily with their peaceful country life, until Rowley summons. It seems that someone has tried to poison the King's mistress and Rowley fears that the people (and the King) will blame Queen Eleanor who he is sure is innocent. They all pack up, baby included (and Rowley couldn't be happier about his offspring) to Godstow, where they promptly discover their first body. Adelia believes that the body was meant to be found and so, in order to throw off and later unmask the murderer, they obtain permission from the local convent to hide the body in its icehouse. That taken care of, Adelia, Mansur, and Rowley travel to the tower that is the home of the Rosamund the Fair. Having examined the poisonous mushrooms, Adelia has surmised that the deathcap could be responsible and, if so, then Rosamund is done for. And so she is. Adelia's initial examination of the body is disturbed, however, by some very unexpected visitors. After that, all goes to hell in a handbasket, but I'll let you all discover why. 

I just get so excited about a great read and Serpent's Tale is truly a great read! Adelia is a fabulous character and Rowley, well, in spite of his current position, it's clear that Adelia's thoughts about his feelings for her are wrong. And again, Franklin incorporates actual events into her story. Rosamund the Fair, or Rosamund Clifford, was a longtime mistress of King Henry II. She did retire to the nunnery in Godstow (the town in which the story takes place), but it doesn't appear that there was any mystery surrounding her death. Still, the story that she lived in a home surrounded by a labyrinth, and the poisoning itself, are part of popular legend. And of course it makes for a great murder mystery as well. 

For more on this wonderful series, and this title in particular, visit the site at: www.arianafranklin.com

Even if you aren't a big fan of historicals, I think you'll still quite enjoy this series. And who knows, it could lead you to seek out more of this sort as well. I'll keep you posted once I get to Grave Goods, but I'm certain it's going to be just as wonderful. And to wrap up my Ariana Franklin stuff, I'll have to post about City of Shadows one of these days. It was my first and I loved every single minute of it (it's about Anastasia).

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Another Great Debut

So I'm finishing up reading Christina Sunley's amazing debut, The Tricking of Freya, and I decided that I have to tell you all about it. 

Now I know that it seems like I read mostly thrillers, and I probably do. But I also read quite a few other things. One of my favorites in years past has been Cindy Dyson's And She Was which you will remember from this post. Now what does that have to do with Christina Sunley's book? Well, it's true that Sunley's tale is quite bit different from Dyson's, but something about it keeps reminding me of that book. I think it's a combination of the cold setting, the amazing imagery, and the fact that both authors are superb storytellers. That said, if you've read Dyson, then you're sure to love Sunley's tale as well. 

In The Tricking of Freya, Freya Morris has recently discovered that her aunt, Birdie, had a child who was given up for adoption. It is Freya's goal not only to track down her missing cousin, but also to tell this person as much about their family as she can. She begins with her first visit to Gimli, in Canada. Their grandfather, a famous poet, traveled from his native Iceland after a volcanic eruption covered the land in ash, killing crops and sheep. Years later, his soon-to-be-wife made the same journey. They had two daughters, Birdie and Freya's mother, Anna. Eventually, Anna travels to the United States where she stays until Freya is seven. Their first trip to Gimli is the first time that Freya meets her extended family face to face. Sadly, it is also on that trip that Freya's mother suffers an accident from which she never truly recovers, an accident that Freya will never forgive herself for. Birdie turns out to be a true force to be reckoned with. Her manic episodes are a cause of much stress in the family. Freya is too young to understand what they are and idolizes her crazy and energetic aunt. It is the summer of Freya's thirteenth year that changes everything. The following year, Birdie commits suicide, something Freya also blames herself for. As Freya's anger and later her own guilt prevent her from returning to Canada, she attempts to move on with her own life. It is only upon finally returning to Canada that she again finds purpose in life, purpose in telling her family's tale, in finding her missing relative. 

This is such a beautiful tale. Like the famed poet within, Sunley's writing is truly poetic. She brings Iceland and Gimli alive in a way that will make you believe that you have been there and experienced it all yourself (or will make you wish you could - booking a trip to Reykjavik anyone?). I love the fact that there is so much Norse mythology and history throughout this book as well. Iceland and its people have such a rich and interesting history and Sunley incorporates it perfectly with her story. 

It's clear to me why this book is garnering such attention (a starred review in PW, and a fabulous write-up in More magazine, amongst others). I think everyone should run out and buy this book, it's a fantastic read and I hope I've done it justice here.  

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

A Must Read for Mystery Fans

I love cracking open a new fantastic read. It's like finding a new best friend. Alas, it all ends so quickly. 

Let me start this off by saying that while I realize that Paul Tremblay's debut novel is a play on Raymond Chandler's The Big Sleep, I cannot compare the two as I have never read Chandler. So, I really can't comment on that other to say that even I can't miss that link. 

In The Little Sleep, PI Mark Genevich has a unique problem in that he suffers from severe narcolepsy. It's all the result of an accident that occurred years ago, and his symptoms range from nodding off at odd times to sleeping while appearing to be awake (semi-functioning and speaking so that those around him almost don't notice he's not really with them) and even paralyzing episodes where he is still very aware of things around himself but he cannot respond. So, when a local semi-celebrity appears in Mark's office and says she wants to hire him to find her fingers, he should have suspected something was up. When he wakes, he finds an envelope with two photos of the woman inside. Now, not only does he have to solve the case of the photos, but he has to figure out exactly what the case is. And apparently, after the woman in question claims to have never met him, he has has to figure out who hired him as well. Of course he can't admit any of this because what kind of detective would he be if he can't even keep his cases straight. 

Tremblay's mystery is a unique one with a funny spin. Don't be mistaken, though, the book is not farcical by any means. Genevich isn't a sad sack either. Sure, he's something of a cynical pessimist, but he's also pretty amusing as the stress of the case forces him to project a sort of laissez faire attitude about his condition while attempting to assure his mother that all is well. 

The Little Sleep is being hailed as a hard-boiled, "new noir" mystery and is an Indiebound Indie-next pick for April (which means that indie booksellers all agree that you should be reading it!). It's fresh and fun and kept me up until 3 am reading! I guarantee that once you start, you'll find yourself in the same position I was. So, find some quiet time and settle in 'cause you're not going to want to put it down!

Alright, so now I am definitely in need of a nap and all thanks to Paul Tremblay and Mark Genevich, but that's ok because that's when you know you've found a great read. I can't wait to see what Tremblay comes up with next. 

The Little Sleep is out now in trade paperback. I've not read anything quite like this one, so I really don't have a fair comparison. Others are saying it's like Jonathan Lethem's Motherless Brooklyn, but if you've attempted that one, as I have, rest assured that Mark Genevich is much easier to read than Lethem's detective with Tourette's : )

Go get Little Sleep today. Read it tonight, and I dare you not to love it. 

Monday, March 9, 2009

Super Fun Flick!

So I happily spent my weekend reading and catching up on some movie watching in a very quiet house. It was fun, but I definitely had my "oh my god, what do I do with myself?!" moments. 

I usually take this time to watch the kinds of movies I know my SO either won't like or will make fun of. Sadly, the first film I picked was a bit of a disappointment. My second movie, though, did not let me down. In fact, it far exceeded my expectations. 

I thought that I had mentioned Ghost House Underground here before, but it appears that I haven't. Ghost House Pictures, producers of such films as The Messengers and Boogeyman, distributed a string of films last October that they called Ghost House Underground. They're not Ghost House movies, but rather independent films from all over that were tagged and marketed through Ghost House and Lionsgate. I've now seen two of these films and have loved both of them. 

Tonight's movie (Sunday) was called The Substitute, or Vikaren, a Dutch film directed by Old Bornedal (Nightwatch - the original Danish and Ewan McGregor versions). Apparently, in other countries this film is aimed towards a younger audience than here in America. A handful (about 5 if I counted right) of f-bombs were enough to earn it a much undeserved R-rating. Which is not to say that adults won't enjoy it, I did quite a bit, but it is to say that I think a younger audience would appreciate and rather like it as well -- if they can get past the subtitles, that is, because overdubbing is no way to watch a movie. 

Anyway, in The Substitute, a group of sixth-graders must deal with a truly out of this world substitute. Carl, a boy who has recently lost his mother in an accident, and his classmates know that there is something off about their new teacher. It begins with her odd comments, things that no teacher would ever get away with telling a child, and the fact that she seems to be able to read their minds. A search proves that there is no teacher in the area under her name, but the kids' parents are soon put at ease when the head of education appears and reassures them that the teacher is truly wonderful and will do great things with the students. Her goal seems to be to get the kids to advance to a stage where she can bring them as representatives for the region to an event in Paris. The kids try again and again to convince their parents that this is a facade but they remain convinced that the students are merely being kids, creating some fantasy for attention. 

This is such a fun movie. Like I said, perfect for kids for the most part and truly amusing for adults as well. It's not a splatter-filled gory horror, but it's still creepy and the effects that are there are great. I'd recommend it to anyone looking for a lighter horror/sci-fi flick; not as many laughs as Shaun of the Dead, but it's still pretty amusing. And I'll bet you'll get a bit of a flashback to Bruce Coville's old My Teacher is an Alien series if you're of my generation of readers. 

Oh, and you should definitely treat yourself to a viewing of the original Danish version because news is that an American remake may be in the works.