Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Could There Be a Better Beach Read??!!

I started taking a book to the gym. I told myself that the only time I could read this book would be there, in hopes that it would motivate me not only to go, but to do the amount of cardio I need to, since it's my least favorite part of the whole gym experience.

It worked, sort of.

My first book was Kyra Davis's Lust, Loathing and a Little Lip Gloss, which I highly recommend. I posted something here about that one.

My latest gym read was Alex Garland's debut, The Beach. I really like the movie. In fact, I really like Alex Garland, when he works with Danny Boyle, which he has thus far. Next year the film version of Kazuo Ishiguro's Never Let Me Go is slated for release and Garland wrote the screenplay. We'll see if he's still got the magic.

The book, as I said, Garland's debut, was released in 1996 and the film was released in 2000. In the book. Richard has decided to take some time off from regular life and tool around Asia. He's made his way to Thailand where a fellow hostel-mate tells him a tale about a beach, a paradise kept secret from the rest of the world. The following morning, the man has committed suicide, but not before entrusting a map to this beach in Richard's care. Richard invites Etienne and Françoise, two travelers from France, to find the beach with him. They set off for paradise, but Richard has made a mistake. He told someone about the beach. The three arrive and find that it's everything, and more, than the ever dreamed it could be. A small community has flourished on the island and they are pretty much welcomed with open arms. Then it all goes to hell. The two Americans Richard passed the map to have arrived on a neighboring island and Rich is ordered to keep watch and ensure that their island remains a secret. Richard's world, and his mind, begin to crumble and paradise is about to come to an end.

The book does differ slightly from the film, if you've seen it. First, leave it to FOX to insist that the lead has to be American. Not a big deal except that it meant changing most of the cultural references since Richard is English. They also removed a character, something I really don't think was necessary, and played up the romance between Richard and Françoise, as though we can't watch a movie without that aspect. I dunno.

The Beach, the film, is a bit of a controversy because up until that point, Ewan MacGregor was Boyle's leading man. I heard the production company wanted a more bankable lead and insisted on Leo as Richard. It's fine, especially now after the Leo madness that hit in my teens has cooled down (it wasn't that I didn't like him, just that I didn't like him being shoved down my throat).

Apparently the bigger controversy for the film was the landscaping done to the beach in question to make it fit the film. Thai police also had some complaints about their depiction in the film. Ah well.

This is, in my opinion, a gritty and beautiful tale of adventure. Garland's descriptive passages make you feel as though you are right there on the beach with Richard and his friends. Plus, the magical setting makes it all that much more shocking when things start to fall apart.

I highly recommend the book and the movie. I think they're both great on their own and I think Boyle did a fantastic job capturing Garland's tale on film.

There are, of course, deeper messages in the book. Rich's generation is a post-Vietnam one, and doesn't everyone feel some sort of disconnect with the world around them? The island is a place where they all have a purpose, they all have a sense of belonging and importance, something that young adults really strive for and battle with, I think. Ah well, you get what you get out of a book. I enjoyed this one and let's leave it at that.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

New Releases 6/30

Some of the new titles hitting shelves this week include:

Girls Just Wanna Have Guns by Toni McGee Causey - aka Bobbie Faye's (Kinda, Sorta, Not Exactly) Family Jewels second in the HILARIOUS Bobbie Faye series

Prey by Rachel Vincent - fourth in the spectacular Shifters series

City of Souls by Vickie Pettersson - fourth in the amazing Zodiac series

Bloody Awful by Georgia Evans - second in the Brytewood series

Kill Zone by Vicki Hinze - first in the new War Game series

Fan Mail by PD Martin - latest in the Sophie Anderson series

Rebel Princess by Judith Koll Henry - follow-up to The Canterbury Papers

The Bone Factory by Nate Kenyon

The Shore by Robert Dunbar - sequel to The Pines

A Stroke of Magic by Tracy Madison - follow-up to Taste of Magic

The Goodbye Cousins by Maggie Leffler

Last Summer of Her Life by Jean Reynolds Page

Mortal Friends by Jane Stanton Hitchcock

Purses and Poison by Dorothy Hall - second in the Haley Randolph series

Return to Sullivan's Island by Dorthea Benton Frank

The Apostle by Brad Thor

The Swimsuit by James Patterson and Maxine Paetro

Killer Summer by Ridley Pearson

A Plague of Secrets by John Lescroart

New on DVD:
12 Rounds
Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li

(not a dvd week for me).

New reviews at Bookbitch.com:
City of Souls
Bloody Awful
The Shore
Living Raw Food by Sarma Melngailis

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Even More Concrete Evidence That I Am A Dork

I am seriously considering arranging my moving schedule around BBC America's new July lineup. I'm not joking.

For those of you who haven't heard. We did find a place and we have signed a lease. I don't know how on Earth we are going to save money at this point, but I do know that it won't be by cutting the cable.

Nope. I need my BBCA and other stuff. Truth: I know I can live without. We didn't have cable when we moved here, but we eventually decided that it was a minor expense and we were kind of bored. It wouldn't save us that much in the short run either, and if we're going to save by not going out, well, tv it is. For me.

You all know that I read enough not to be one of those terribly television addicted folk, but I do like being able to tune in to my shows or channel surf when I want to. Call me crazy.

I'm stoked, though, that BBC is releasing Being Human here. It's a show about a vamp, a werewolf, and a ghost who all share a flat. You can watch prequels introducing the characters here (Mitchell, George, Annie). Also on my must see list is the return of Torchwood in a 5 episode arc called "Children of Earth."

This show is also reported to be coming to BBC America (I first heard about it on a Murderati post and was psyched to see it on the upcoming list here). Survivors is a remake of a show from the 70s and is apparently based on a book by Terry Nation, creator of the Daleks on Doctor Who.

And then, of course, there are the Doctor Who specials airing throughout the year. "The Next Doctor" played tonight and "Planet of the Dead" co-starring Michelle Ryan from Jekyll (another can't miss BBC show on dvd), Bionic Woman, and the now airing on NBC Merlin, airs next month.

Ok, so I am terribly addicted. But, I do other things. As a side note, had my second weigh-in today and lost another 2.4 pounds. Yay for me and proof that I'm not a total couch potato.

Anywho, I haven't sprung for Showtime or HBO, so I must not be too bad. I will wait for Weeds, Dexter, and True Blood to hit dvd, though I did think it was incredibly unfair of HBO to issue a free preview weekend that included the first ep of season 2 of TB. Ugh. It was cool, though. I'll just have to read the books until next year (my sister lurves them. She says Eric is her fave. Hm...).

Win More Stuff

Check out Icedream's blog, Reading in Appalachia for some great giveaways this week!

First up, she's giving away a book for HER birthday. That's right. She's giving a winner a book of their choice for her own birthday. Crazy lady! Check out the rules here.

And, she's also giving away a copy of Carlos Ruiz Zafon's Angels Game, one of the best books hitting shelves (already hit shelves) this summer.

Good Luck!

Friday, June 26, 2009

Wow, I'm Behind

I wish that I were better at keeping track of mass market releases for you guys. See, I'm an impatient reader and an impulse shopper. I buy in hardcover because I can't wait for the paperbacks. I know I'm an oddball in that sense. I'd rather spend my money on a $25 book than something else.

One of my faves from last year was released in mm in February, but I think if you haven't read it yet, it would be a great one for this summer. Be warned, if you take it on vacation, you may find yourself doing nothing but reading!

City of the Sun by David Levien, introduces readers to PI Frank Behr, a gritty investigator reminiscent of any one played by Bruce Willis. In fact, that's exactly how I see Behr -- as Brucey a la Last Boyscout.

I reviewed City, last February when it was released in hardcover, and now I get a crack at the sequel, Where the Dead Lay, due out on my b-day!

Here's the City of the Sun review I wrote for Bookbitch.com (its in the archives, check her site out, if you don't already, for GREAT new reviews each week, giveaways each month, and tons of other book stuff for book lovers):

United States statistics show that 2,300 people are reported missing every day. The first 24-72 hours of these cases are critical. Often, if the person is not recovered in that time period, they never will be. Jamie Gabriel is one of these people. He left this morning, just like every morning - picking up the papers for his route and riding off on his bike. Unlike every other morning, though, something happened to Jamie. A year later, his parents are ready to give up the search for their missing son. The police have no leads and have never made any progress on the case. In a last ditch effort, the couple hires PI Frank Behr. Behr initially refuses the case, but his guilt over the death of his own son compels him to try. Amazingly, he makes progress, but his investigation has stirred up a hornet’s nest of trouble. While both shocking and disturbing in subject matter, this thriller is wholly rewarding. I can imagine a grizzled Bruce Willis playing Behr in the movie.

Three of us reviewed it last year, including the BB herself. See for yourself why this one made my top ten of 2008!

This is a one-sitting read that's perfect for fans of Brian Freeman and Harlan Coben (fans of staying up all night with an edge-of-your-seat thriller, in other words).

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Try A Stay-Cation Instead

I'm in a mood today. I really just want to unhook the phone, shut off the computer, and stay in with a good book. I think I need some time out of reality. The house-hunting mess has been stressing me out for too long (much longer than any NORMAL person would suffer thanks to my being such a worry-wort weirdo), and I'm having my mid-week diet meltdown -- halfway between weigh-ins and not sure if I'm making progress even though I'm following it to the T.

I'm a mess. Don't feel sorry for me, though. One of these days I'll get the zen meditation thing down and save myself some ulcers. Until then just be glad you don't live with me.

All the more reason for some escapism in the form of a book. Carol Goodman is one of my favorites for this. First, you get to visit a locale you may not ever have the opportunity to in reality, and it's all in this gothic, romantic atmosphere that whisks you away from real life. Perfect.

The Ghost Orchid was my first by this author, and it totally hit the spot. Since then, I've also read The Sonnet Lover and The Night Villa, both equally lush and exciting reads. I think Ghost Orchid is somewhat darker than the other two, though, and I'm in a mood for dark. Here's my Book Bitch review (one of my early ones) for Ghost Orchid to pique your interest:

What happens when the past and present collide at this haven for artists? Ellis Brooks, a first time novelist, is about to find out as she unravels the mysteries of Bosco in this picturesque tale. The dual story line of this novel provides a thrilling and captivating read. Present day, Ellis and fellow artists are experiencing strange occurrences that seem to be an almost exact repeat of what happened in the home a century earlier. In 1893, Milo Latham, the original owner of the Bosco estate, hosted a séance to contact her dead children. The rest is a mystery that still haunts the house today. What really happened on that fateful night nearly 100 years ago? Are there really ghosts at Bosco? What Ellis discovers while researching her novel is ultimately one family's eerie and well-kept secret - a secret that will connect Ellis to Bosco in ways she could never imagine.

All of Goodman's titles, including Seduction of Water, Drowning Tree, and Lake of Dead Languages are currently available in trade paperback. Goodman's upcoming title, Arcadia Falls, is set in the states (she ventured overseas for both Sonnet Lover and The Night Villa), and of course it's already on my "To Buy" list. Release date for this title is set for March of next year.

Readers who enjoy gothic literature and literary mysteries will love Goodman's titles.

Win Something!

I'll post something later, but for now, head over to Lori's Reading Corner to enter to win a copy of Hank Phillippi Ryan's Prime Time.

This debut won the Agatha for Best First Novel and was nominated for a RITA after it was released in 2007. Mira has repackaged the whole thing and rereleased Prime Time in preparation of books two and three hitting shelves this summer.

Face Time is set for an Aug. 1 release and Air Time is due out Sept. 1.

Lori's contest is open to US residents only and you must leave your e-mail address in your comment on her page (follow the link above for more info and to get your name in).

Good luck!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

The Name's Changed But It's Still the Same

I was really sad to hear that Dorchester has folded their Shomi line due to the dreaded and damned economy this year. The books are being absorbed into other lines, though, so never fear! Shomi and it's inaugural authors hold a very special place in my heart. Cheeseball, I know, but really I didn't read "romance" much before they hit the shelves. I think they proved to be a perfect jumping off point for me, piquing my interest in the genre.

Course since then I've come to realize just how much on those shelves could very well be in the general fiction population and fit quite well. But romance fans are rabidly loyal and they are continuing to buy books in droves, so I think romance is a good place to be right now. And who doesn't some steamy escapism once in a while?

And, they make perfect beach reads!! You knew it was coming.

Eve Kenin's Driven is a perfect example. Here's my review from the BB archives to hopefully spark your interest:

In the bleak and icy landscape of the Northern Waste, Raina Bowen has only one hope for securing the future of a sister who has been kept a secret from her until now. Raina has never known the warmth or security of a loving family or friends, but it is her hope that her own young sister can know better life. Raina’s only hope is to win a dangerous long haul trucking race that would earn her enough money to ensure both of their futures. The race involves carrying a large shipment of genetically enhanced grain across the frozen tundra. Raina contacts one of her father's old acquaintances, a mysterious figure who calls himself Wizard, a man who may be able to guarantee her win. Raina is drawn to Wizard in spite of his strange demeanor and soon finds herself teaming up with him against ice pirates set on hijacking her shipment and corporate killers out to collect the bounty on her head. This steamy futuristic romance works on so many different levels. For one, it’s a complete surprise, readers may think they know what’s coming, but they can’t possibly predict where the story will lead them. Driven also takes readers directly into Kenin’s latest release, Hidden. It’s a fantastic premise and Kenin, aka Eve Silver, pulls it off with amazing skill. It’s romance on steroids.

Driven earned a starred review in PW (no small achievement) and won the RT reviewers' choice award for Best Futuristic Romance. And Hidden was nominated for the same the following year.

Kenin, aka Eve Silver, writes both paranormals and historical suspense. She's got an upcoming gothic romance under the Silver name, Seduced by a Stranger, due out in September and then, according to her website, she's got a new "dark urban paranormal romance" trilogy due out next year (yay!). Until then, you can get both Driven and the sequel Hidden in addition to the other Eve Silver titles, in bookstores now.

The Junior Junkies are particularly fond of the Kenin (and other Shomi) titles as well, so that should tell you something. I'm going to have to keep the new ones a secret from them, because they'll be nagging the hell out of me until they come out next year.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Another Great Read From the Paranormal Realm

In continuing with my beach read theme, I decided to tease you all with a post about the second Brytewood book in Georgia Evans's fantabulous new trilogy. Last month I had the immense pleasure of reading Evans's kick off to the series, Bloody Good, which I wrote about here.

This weekend, I managed to reach part of my reading goal and zipped through the second book, Bloody Awful, in which Alice, Peter, and pals must ID a second vamp in their quaint English village. The Germans' plans have suffered a minor setback with the loss of one of their vamp infiltrators, but the remaining three bloodsuckers carry on the mission, this time sending one of their more powerful numbers into Brytewood posing as a baker. Nurse and werefox Gloria Prewitt finally reveals herself, and we learn more about the town's somewhat shady grocer Samuel Worleigh. Meanwhile, Alice discovers that Mother Longhurst has suddenly disappeared, and more Others are revealed.

Bloody Awful is set for release next week and Bloody Right finishes out the trilogy in August.

I'll be sad to see this series end. I've grown so attached to the characters in such a short time. But I'm also anxious to see what happens next -- Awful was pretty much a one-sitting read for me. I was super excited to get my grubby paws on it and I really did read most of sitting on my porch Sunday afternoon. Great premise, great writing, and just an overall fun read.

I'm kind of proud of myself for managing to stay away from the computer for a good part of Sunday. I didn't touch the XBox either. I slept in and hit the gym early and then spent the rest of the day trying to relax. I was probably about 85% successful in this avenue, I'll admit the house-hunting jitters hit on and off, but I can't really help that.

Ok, I'm going to fix myself a hot tea and settle in for the evening. Day 8 of the diet down with little to no cheating, yay me!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

New Releases 6/23

Some of the new titles hitting shelves this week are:

Sworn to Silence by Linda Castillo - highly anticipated (and worth it) thriller with a great new lead

The Cutting by James Hayman - a really great debut thriller and I believe first in a new series

The Embers by Hyatt Bass

Doomsday Key by James Rollins - latest in the Sigma series

Naamah's Kiss by Jacqueline Carey - first in a new series that takes place in Kushiel's world

The Baker Street Letters by Michael Robertson

Now & Then by Jacqueline Sheehan

Below Zero by CJ Box - latest in the Joe Pickett series

Finger Lickin' Fifteen by Janet Evanovich

Prism by Faye and Aliza Kellerman - Faye Kellerman teams up with her daughter for a new teen thriller

New on DVD:
Confessions of a Shopaholic
Pink Panther 2

New reviews at Bookbitch.com:
The Cutting
Sworn to Silence
City of Souls by Vicki Pettersson

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Making Progress!

I'm losing! Yay! I have to tell you, this is freaking hard and I really hope that I'm able to stay on top of eating better after this. I do not want to go through this all again!

Anyway, in between dreams about pizza and cheeseburgers, I did get some reading done this weekend.

I've been walking with my neighbor each morning and we got to talking about beach reads -- she's headed to Mexico, lucky gal, and was going to the bookstore for some books. It got me thinking about what I would take given the chance (I typically take too many books and finish nothing!) so I decided to do some beach-read posts for a bit with some recs from my reading past that I haven't yet talked about here.

First up is Casey Daniels. If you like chick-lit and/or paranormal mystery, then you need to check out this series. It's one of the more lighthearted ones out there.

Daniels's debut, Don of the Dead, introduces Pepper Martin, a society gal who's fallen on tough times. Her latest gig is as a tour guide at a local cemetery where she has the misfortune of bonking her head on a grave marker. After coming to, Pepper realizes that she can now see the dead, and they want things from her. Gust Scarpetti will become Pepper's first undead "client" in this hilarious series. He's the mob boss whose grave Pepper fell on and he's pretty anxious to find out who did him in.

This is the first in the series and hit shelves back in '06. It's followed by The Chick and the Dead, Tombs of Endearment, and Night of the Loving Dead. Pepper is a hugely likable character a la Stephanie Plum -- a little klutzy and very gutsy -- and each new installment is just as entertaining as the last.

It's summer (official as of tomorrow even though it's cold enough here to trick you), even if you don't get a vacation, treat yourself to some fabulous reading! Plus, the fifth book in this fun series hits shelves in October, just in time for Halloween reading, so you might want to start now and catch up.

Alright. I'm going to treat myself to some popcorn and an old movie and try to relax for an evening before I get back to the house-hunting and dieting adventures tomorrow. Wish I had a Coke instead of lemon water to go with it. Agh!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Stupid Becky!

I lost my book last night. Not sure how, but I lost it. Or not! I spent all day looking for it. I wasted valuable reading time searching only to find it late last night -- on my freaking bedside table!

I think my brain is turning to mush people! And what is this gem that I was so desperate to recover? Vicki Pettersson's latest Signs of the Zodiac book, City of Souls. I'm kind of reading ahead and still hoping I can catch up this week, mushy brain and all.

I realize, though, that I've only posted here about her very first book, The Scent of Shadows, the fabulous opener to this 100% original urban fantasy series. So, here's the link to that one, and I thought I would take this opportunity, just a week or so before book 4 hits shelves, to tell you about the others (and get you to run out and buy them, as usual).

So, the second title, The Taste of Night, continues the tales of Zodiac Troop 175, paranormal division, Las Vegas. Here's my review from the BB archives:

The Las Vegas Shadow troop has been awfully silent since the events of The Scent of Shadows. Joanna Archer knows that they are preparing for something big. As the Kairos, a star sign of Zodiac legend who is equal parts light and dark, Joanna fears that revealing what she knows will put her position in the troop at risk. Zodiac legend states that the Kairos will choose to fight for either light or shadow and that in choosing she will determine the outcome of the war. Joanna’s father, the Tulpa - a being brought into existence through thought alone - leader of the Shadows, believes that she can be turned. The leader of Troop 175 fears that this may be the case if Joanna cannot learn to control her Shadow abilities. When the Shadows unleash a terrifying virus on the citizens of Las Vegas, Joanna is finally forced to disclose her knowledge of the plans. Her admission leads to her exile from the troop. Now, Joanna must fight alone to save the people she loves and once again earn the trust of her team. Pettersson has created a brilliant mythology to support her Zodiac series. As each new part of the legend is revealed the story becomes more and more intriguing. Part X-Men and part Heroes, this series is incredible and I can’t wait to see what happens next.

Readers who enjoy urban fantasy (who doesn't!?) shouldn't miss this series. It's tops on my list of favorites -- the plot and characters really stand out for me.

Mike and I are still house hunting. I've got to run and see another today (and still get my work done and still try to stay on track with the diet thing). Hopefully I can squeeze some nice, relaxing reading time in as well.

Remember, this is the second book in the series they are, in order:

Scent of Shadows
Taste of Night
Touch of Twilight
City of Souls

You must read them in order. The story is too intricate to skip around, just fair warning.

Happy reading!

Monday, June 15, 2009

What We're Watching

So a couple of weeks ago, I decided that I was dying to rewatch The Beach. Of course no one had it and it wasn't on OnDemand, so I ended up buying it. No big deal, I already have a bunch of Danny Boyle's films, and I like The Beach. I didn't want to pay shipping and I didn't have any books to order (any that I would let myself anyway), but I did happen to come across an ad for the latest season of Weeds.

Some of you might remember my little trip to NYC last summer while Mike was there working. We happened across a Best Buy and, since Mike had to spend lots of time indoors in front of the computer, we were looking for something to watch. He ended up buying all three seasons of Weeds (season 3 had just been released). We watched seasons 1 and 2 there in NY and 3 when he came home.

Now, I have kind of a weird sense of humor. I like funny, but only certain kinds of funny. This show, is HILARIOUS! It's an idea that's really taken off with the "premium" channels, too, seemingly average people in strange situations.

Weeds, if you didn't know, is a Showtime series about a suburban mom who sells pot. Mary-Louise Parker and her cast of strange family/friends/dealers are all fantastic. Parker is cute and innocent looking, which means she gets away with all the crazy stuff that happens. Elizabeth Perkins as Celia, is one of my favorite characters, for various reasons. Kevin Nealon and Justin Kirk occasionally go places with their humor that I can't really handle, but you get the picture.

This season, Majestic/Agrestic is gone. I wondered how they would keep Perkins and Nealon and all the other townsfolk on the show with the fire that ended season 3, but never fear, they are here! I won't give anything away, except to tell you that the show is just as funny and twisted as ever. We're about halfway through the season (arrived Saturday night). I wish it was still the weekend so I wouldn't feel guilty about watching all day to finish.

Season 5 is already airing on Showtime, but I'm guessing it'll be another year exactly before we get to see it on dvd. Ah well, there's Dexter in August to look forward to!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

New Releases 6/16

Some of the new titles hitting shelves this week include:

The Angel's Game by Carlos Ruiz Zafon

The Neighbor by Lisa Gardner

Real Life & Liars by Kristina Riggle

Along for the Ride by Sarah Dessen

Dune Road by Jane Green

New Releases on DVD:
Friday the 13th

New reviews at Bookbitch.com:
Angel's Game
Organic & Chic by Sarah Magid
Silver Falls by Anne Stuart
Personal Effects: Dark Art by J.C. Hutchins and Jordan Weisman
Sacrifice by S.J. Bolton

Saturday, June 13, 2009

It's That Time Again

Time for another Rachel Vincent post! Yep, Prey, Rachel Vincent's latest, is set to hit shelves at the end of the month, and because it's a paperback you know it'll be out earlier than that in some places.

I actually read this one as soon as I got my review copy in. This is one series that the Junior Junkies will tear each other apart to get to. Seriously. They will nag the ever living crap out of me from the day that they know that I've received it until I finally send it over and then they fight (well really just one of them does) to make sure they get to it first. Usually, I wait until about a week before the book is out to read it; the reviews aren't posted until the weekend before the official release date, so there's not much point beating myself up to read it early. But I couldn't wait that long to read this one anyway. Not after the way Pride ended.

So, this one picks up nine months after the last one left off and Faythe is on her way to finally see Marc. He's supposed to help escort Faythe and the others through the free territories as they make their way to where Manx will have her own trial. First, they're attacked by a group of strays working together -- it's almost unheard of that these misfits would band together for anything, but they did. Then, Marc goes missing. Everyone fears the worst, but Faythe is sure that he is still alive. The question is how long he will stay that way. Meanwhile, the Prides themselves are gearing up for a battle against one another as Faythe's father continues to struggle to keep his position.

I've probably said it before, many time actually, but I can't get enough of these books. And you know what, I'm always just as antsy to get my hands on the latest one as my sisters are, so I can't really fault them. I love how the characters are developing and I'm so involved with their stories that I get frustrated and sad and excited right alongside them.

I'm not sure when the next book in the series will be released (my guess is sometime next year since this is the second one released this year and she's got a teen book hitting shelves in August).

Official release date on Prey is July 1, so keep your eye out for it and read the others in the meantime, if you haven't already (Stray, Rogue, Pride, Prey).

Friday, June 12, 2009

I'm gonna try...

a serious diet. Yep. I'm letting someone else make my food for the next 10 weeks. I have to tell you, I think this one is going to be VERY difficult for me. But, I'm hoping that I'll get used to it and the stress of spending so much time trying to figure out WHAT to eat and WHEN to eat it and how many calories are in it and all I really want is a freaking pizza, will ease up.

Especially right now. I've got work worries, weight worries (and frankly I don't care about my energy levels at this point, I want some of my old clothes to fit -- all I've accomplished so far is to lose enough that the ones that did fit are now too big and nothing fits right at all!), and moving worries. I don't like this. I feel like every aspect of my life is unstable and it's wearing me down.

Bitch, bitch, bitch, moan, moan, moan. I know and I'm sorry. See, I'm getting grumpy and I'm not supposed to be grumpy anymore! Like I said, hopefully not having to think about the food part for a while will help -- even if it will drive me nuts not being able to cook anything at all.

And that brings me to a sort-of cookbook post here. There is a book coming out at the end of the month that I have been dabbling with (I have a review copy and have prepared some of the dishes with great success) and I want to tell you about it. It's called Living Raw Food and it's by Sarma Melngailis author of Raw Food, Real World and proprietor of NY restaurant Pure Food and Wine a vegan/vegetarian restaurant using all raw food. She also runs OneLuckyDuck.com a website where you can get all of the hard-to-find ingredients in her cookbooks (Irish moss, kelp, dulse...) as well as cookies, bath stuff, OneLuckyDuck shirts and totes, raw food books, and other stuff.

Now, I'm not a vegetarian, certainly not a vegan, and am sometimes really turned off by how other books of this type are very preachy towards people like me, like I'm a bad person because I eat meat. Not so with Living Raw Food. She explains her reasons, and then makes the book very approachable for folks like me who are simply addicted to food of every kind!

In honesty, I was hoping this book would help me eat better and control my calories. I wish there was calorie information available for the recipes, but other than that, it's a great book (with a ton of deceptively healthy recipes). There's a whole section on "baked" goods -- they use a dehydrator to get the crispness you would get from baking -- and even a section with mixed drinks. (Yes you do need some special equipment: dehydrator, juicer, food processor, and a mandolin all come in handy.)

I made the Chocolate Coconut Truffles and the Coconut Snowballs, both of which use dehydrated, unsweetened coconut, agave nectar, and coconut oil. I had no problems finding ingredients for most of the recipes I was interested in, but I live walking distance from a Whole Foods, so I imagine it's not always so easy. The Snowballs also called for raw brazil nuts. Amazingly, because I love brazil nuts, I had a bag (but I kind of cheated because I suspect that they were roasted). Our friend said he doesn't usually like coconut and he dug into these little cookies like there was no tomorrow!

Another recipe we tried was the Cashew Milk, first in a section full of shakes and drinks that I'm dying to try (Lime Coconut Milk anyone?). It called for cashew butter, something I've been buying already, and it was pretty tasty, if you like nut milks (I like almond milk a lot, so I was prepared).

And tonight, as part of my last hurrah, I'll be making the English Cucumber Cups with Avocado, Mango, and Mint Salsa and Spiced Macadamia Nuts.

See, lots of tasty treats even if you're a ravenous meat eater like me. I think for us, this book is a good way to get some really creative and innovative, healthy dishes into our menus. (No, I don't think the truffles were "healthy" but they sure tasted great!).

So it'll be 10 weeks before I get to crack this baby open again, and by then it will have hit shelves (June 30). I hope you fellow foodies out there will give it a shot, cause it's kind of fun to think about food in a whole new way. It might even influence some of your regular cooking as well.

You can read more about Sarma at welikeitraw.com.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

We Had a Mini-Vacation

So Monday night, I'm working my tail off and thinking how much I would really like to just get away for a couple of nights and forget about moving and all of that. I called one of the B&Bs in the current book I'm working on (conveniently located just an hour away) and did the unthinkable in Becky-land -- I made a spontaneous reservation for two nights with their 5-course dinner and a couple's massage. Yep. Totally spur of the moment. We literally packed while I was booking it, dropped Sadie at a friends, left boucoup food for the cats, and set off. 

We stayed at (if you're in the area and interested) Romantic River Song in Estes Park, in their Morning Glory Room. The room came with a kitchenette and a captain's bed built into the wall (super cute)! Breakfast for both days was included and the romantic dinner was amazing. 

We hiked yesterday morning in Rocky Mountain National Park and had relaxing massages when we got back. Unfortunately, now it's all back to normal life and house-hunting stresses (found out they tried to show ours while we were gone, so it's kind of like a kick in the pants). 

If you're in the same boat as me right now, good freaking luck! Finding a new rental that we can afford is a headache I really wish I didn't have to deal with. And to top it off, it comes right around my birthday every year! 

Anyway, that's what was up with me! I'm reading Carlos Ruiz Zafòn's latest, The Angel's Game, and really savoring it. I'll have an official post for all of you later, but I have to tell you, if you're heading out on a relaxing vacation -- one where you'll have plenty of time to read -- this is the book to bring. And if you're not, treat yourself to an afternoon off with it. It's magical and eerie and as fabulous as Shadow of the Wind was. Also, for you lucky beachgoers, I am working my way through Alex Garland's The Beach (this is my gym read). I love the movie so I'm really enjoying the book. 

Alright, posts to come, now I have to get back to work. 

Monday, June 8, 2009

Recent Movie Roundup

Ok, guys. I skipped a week, but here's my exciting movie experience of the past two weeks. (Not actually very exciting.)

On opening night, we did see Sam Raimi's new film Drag Me to Hell with Justin Long and Alison Lohman. If you're a fan of the Evil Dead movies, then you can see that Raimi has gone back to his gross-out silliness that everyone loved so much back then. It was a nice change from the recent horror releases, one that I think old fans and new will appreciate. The movie is about a young bank employee who shames a gypsy woman, and ends up with a terrible curse placed on her. Just the right amount of humor. 

We also so The Hangover with Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms, Justin Bartha, and Zach Galifianakas. It was pretty darn funny even though it did go a bit over the top for me in some instances. I love Bradley Cooper, though, so he was the highlight of the movie for me. Ed Helms is pretty hilarious, too. No doubt Zach Galifianakas provided much of my boyfriend's laughs, but he sometimes took it too far for my somewhat different taste in humor. This is, of course, the movie about four guys who have a bachelor's party in Vegas only to wake up the following morning with one guy missing and no memory of what happened the night before. 

I rented chick-flicks, and both were fairly disappointing. 

New In Town is Renee Zellweger's latest, a movie in which a high-up with a food company is sent to manage layoffs and revamping of one of their factories. Zellweger is the fish-out-of-water from Miami sent to New Ulm, Minnesota. And Harry Connick Jr. plays the man she ends up falling for... it felt very forced. The story was too much like every other similar chick-flick, only the circumstances were kind of ho-hum most of the time. Predictable and not even one tear shed. A skip.

The Other End of the Line stars Jesse Metcalf as a California player who catches the eye of a credit card operator in Mumbia who, of course, goes against her parent's wishes and flies to America to meet her new love. It was cute enough, but didn't stand out. 

And finally, in a blast from the past, I curled up with Peter Weller's Leviathan last week for some 80's creature feature fun. I like this movie. Somehow, the cheesy 80's grade effects still do it for me. If you haven't seen it, a bunch of underwater miners find a downed Russian ship that records show is still around and kicking. The truth behind conspiracy lies in a bottle of vodka found on board. And what do you get when you put a bunch of miners together trapped underwater? Severe boredom, so of course some secretly partake in the drink... Well, then the trouble really starts. It's kind of like The Thing underwater. 

Sunday, June 7, 2009

New Releases 6/9

Some of the new titles hitting shelves this week are:

Awakening by SJ Bolton

The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane by Katherine Howe

Tehran Conviction by Tom Gabbay

The Memory Collector by Meg Gardiner

Death Wore White by Jim Kelly

In Ashes Lie by Marie Brennan

Personal Effects: Dark Art by JC Hutchins and Jordan Weisman

Roadside Crosses by Jeffery Deaver -- Katherine Dance #2

The Bourne Deception by Eric Van Lustbader

Relentless by Dean Koontz

Actor and the Housewife by Shannon Hale

New on DVD: 
Gran Torino
Fired Up
The International

No new reviews for BB.com this week (from me, there are still new ones to see, though). I was late getting them in. We've been house hunting and starting to pack here. Agh!

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Meltdown Mode

No post today. I'm exhausted and really could use a day off from EVERYTHING, but that's not going to happen. We're looking for a new place (worked late last night to make up for a few hours' driving around looking for FOR RENT signs -- let me tell you, it sucks, but this is not a renter's market right now). My area seems to have forgotten about the whole economic recession and tanking real estate market. The houses are still overpriced (as far as buying goes) and now the rentals are too, 'cause they know no one can afford to buy. 

Anywho. We're looking at one today. It's a bit early, but frankly I'm freaking out due to the sign in our own yard that kind of feels like a "Don't let the door hit you on the way out." Our lease is up at the end of July and the sign was put out last month. A bit early, no? And top that off with the Craigslist scams in our area and I'm ready to have a nervous breakdown. (Don't even ask, staying here is not a possibility. We'll be staying HERE, as in the area, but not this house, unfortunately.)

Much as I would like to spend my day in bed, it's just not going to happen today. Ramble, ramble, ramble. Sorry, I'm having a pity party here. I could use some more sleep, but the one thing I'm not going to start cheating on (because it's all downhill from there) is my workout regimen. Need to get ready to go on a walk with the neighbor. Thank GOD today's an off day at the gym. I don't think I could drag myself over there in this condition. 

I'll get some reading done tonight (hopefully) and tell you about SJ Bolton's Sacrifice tomorrow. And I've got the new Mo Hayder and the new Carlos Ruiz Zafon on my bedside table for this week's reading, so I promise I have some good ones coming up. 

Hope someone out there squeezes in a nap for me!

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Yet Another Laugh Out Loud Read

Alrighty, I told you all about the re-release and re-branding of Toni McGee Causey's Bobbie Faye series last Friday, and I promised that I would post a little something about book the second -- Bobbie Faye's (kinda, sorta, not exactly) Family Jewels, now (as of June 30) Girls Just Wanna Have Guns

I also want to remind you that Toni is running a contest this week. Visit her website here for details, excerpts, and more. AND you can read more from Toni at the fantastic Murderati blog every other Sunday (highly recommend you add this blog to your faves). 

So, without further adieu, here's my review of Family Jewels/Girls Just Wanna Have Guns from the BB archives:

Bobbie Faye, the Contraband Queen and walking disaster of South Louisiana, is back and better than ever. Bobbie Faye’s latest adventure begins with a surprise visit from some of her nefarious cousins. It seems Bobbie Faye’s aunt, Marie, has gone missing with some diamonds and her estranged husband is willing to do just about anything to get them back – the diamonds, not necessarily his wife – and he’s not the only one, either. Homeland Security, gangsters, and Irish mafia all take shots at Bobbie Faye before too long, each group expressing their need to be the ones that Bobbie Faye makes her delivery to. Problem is, Bobbie Faye doesn’t have a clue what’s going on. Too bad for her, though, ‘cause no one is in any mood to listen. Where Bobbie Faye goes, disaster is sure to follow and this time she’s once again leaving behind her a trail of demolished property, terrified law enforcement agents, and bankrupt insurance companies. If you like the Stephanie Plum series, you’re going to love Bobbie Faye. She’s a tough and gutsy Cajun who’s not willing to take crap from anyone – I love it. Toni McGee Causey does for South Louisiana, and my hometown, what Janet E. does for the Garden State. Highly recommended.

It's pretty much summer here, and though Bobbie Faye makes for great year-round reading, I especially love reading this series around this time of year -- it makes me almost feel like I'm back in Louisiana!

Charmed and Dangerous, the first book in this series (formerly known as Bobbie Faye's Very (very, very, very) Bad Day) is now out and Girls Just Wanna Have Guns is due out on June 30 in mass market -- you can still get the trade paperback under the original title as well. And remember, the third book in the series, When a Man Loves a Weapon is due out August 4 (I'll be sure to remind you!).

Monday, June 1, 2009

On a Roll

I've been reading quite a few funny mysteries lately and here's another must-read that I had to tell you all about (due out tomorrow!). These things are like my favorite Green & Black's milk chocolate bars -- I can't get enough of them! They're the perfect blend of humor, romance, suspense, and mystery. 

So when Kyra Davis's Lust, Loathing and a Little Lipstick arrived in the mail, I was thrilled. I'd read Sex, Murder and a Double Latte, and completely fallen in love with mystery author Sophie Katz. There are two books in between Sex and Lust, but as far as I can tell, as long as you've read the first, you can jump right into the fourth. (I've got Passion, Betrayal and Killer Highlights and still have to buy Obsession, Deceit and Really Dark Chocolate), but I couldn't wait that long to read Lust, plus I had to have my review ready for release date so all of you could run out and buy it right away!

Here's my review from last week's Latest Reviews at Bookbitch.com (in case you missed it):

In the fourth title of this hilarious series, mystery author Sophie Katz has finally saved up enough money to buy her first home. Unfortunately in the San Francisco housing market, Sophie can only afford a modest fixer-upper. When her slimy ex-husband, who just happens to be a realtor, approaches Sophie with the deal of a lifetime—a fabulous renovated Victorian in a very desirable neighborhood, selling for way under market value—Sophie knows there must be a catch. And there sure is. Sophie and her ex arrive just in time to find the owner dead of a heart attack. Still, the owner’s son seems pretty anxious to unload the property, but only if Sophie can prove that she can make contact with the other side. The deal also comes with the stipulation the Sophie join a group obsessed with the undead. Then one of the members is murdered and it looks as though Sophie’s dream home may slip through her fingers. But Sophie’s not going to go down without a fight; she’s going to solve this one and get that house even if it means exposing herself to a crazed psychopath. Such a fun series. Davis’s cast of quirky and loveable characters never fail to crack me up.

Now, Kyra Davis is also running a contest with her latest release. Readers have a chance to win a trip to Sophie's San Fran and you can get all the details here

I can't recommend this series highly enough. If you like Toni McGee Causey, Lisa Lutz, and, of course, Janet E., then you're guaranteed to love Kyra Davis. Sophie and Mr. Katz accompanied me to the gym and I pushed through some serious cardio whilst reading! Try it and then reward yourself with one of Sophie's favorite drinks afterwards -- you'll be glad you did.