Friday, July 31, 2009

Music and Movies and Various Other Items -- I'm Feeling ADD

It's a shame that a grown (semi-grown) woman feels guilty for spending money! And eating (yep, we had pizza tonight). One of these days, I would like to be comfortable enough not to feel as though I might regret decisions later. Although, my Extreme Pizza order did make me very happy at the time. (If you have one of these in your area, I definitely recommend checking it out!)

Anywho, my lamenting is due to, and thanks to, my music purchase (download ongoing) of just a moment ago -- I think it's $10 well spent in spite of my comments above.

See, I'm exactly the person that advertising is made for. And I discovered today that my newfound, favorite radio station is no more. Not sure why, I have a feeling it's because mediocrity in the radio airwaves has once again become the rule, but that means that my own personal music selection must again be relied upon for my entertainment -- that and the 70s/80s stations. And while I'm still totally gaga over My Chemical Romance and Does it Offend You, Yeah (my last purchases before Vampire Weekend) and have recently dug out my Bloc Party and Interpol cds (hey, they become new again after a while), my collection needs some refreshing NEW new additions.

The new radio stuff just isn't doing it for me. And, for a while now, I've been finding music thanks to my fave tv shows and/or television commercials (iTunes and iPod commercials can usually be relied upon to spark my interest).

I found a new band today courtesy of a movie trailer. Here, is the link to the trailer for The Collector, I'll have to let you know later what I think of the movie itself, but the song in the trailer is super cool and the album rocks just as much.

The band is Nico Vega and the album was released earlier this year on MySpace Records. If you liked my earlier post about Vampire Weekend, this is the opposite end of the music spectrum in many ways. Loud, edgy, but still some explicit lyrics -- there are some more mellow (not totally mellow, just more mellow than others on the album) songs on the album as well, "Wooden Dolls," for one.

This just goes to show you how much of a difference a great song can make in the right place. See, the film in question, The Collector, is written by the same folks responsible for the latest Saw films, and while I'm always up for new horror films, I'm not necessarily the biggest fan of "torture porn." Weirdly enough, I love a good, hard thriller in the Mo Hayder vein, but these kinds of movies are usually my last resort. "Beast" kind of makes the movie look exciting and different in a way. In fact, I got so jazzed up about seeing it that I wanted to drag my other to the theater at 10:30 for tonight's last showing.

And actually, I'm amazed it's playing here at all. I've not heard of it until now and I'm usually very on top of these things.

Haha, I just remembered that I discovered Does it Offend You, Yeah from the Fast and Furious trailer, and it was the best part of the whole stinking movie -- well that and cute Paul Walker -- but the movie was not good otherwise, and I'm pretty forgiving in the fast cars action flicks category -- hey, I saw Torque at the theater, ok? Yeah, stop laughing.

Alrighty, I've digressed long enough. I figure you're probably thirsting for some good reading sountracks just as much as I am, though, so I have to throw these in every once in a while (and Nico Vega definitely makes great reading music in my humble opinion -- I tend to get book flashbacks when I re-listen to albums that I read to, which is why Stephen King and John Mellencamp are forever linked in my mind).

Remember to get your name in for the MJ Rose contest before end of day Sunday. I'll be drawing on Monday and notifying the winner then. And, as a bonus movie item, THIS is the movie I'll be first in line to see next weekend (and hoping it doesn't suck at all!). And, of course, a foodie like me won't miss Julie & Julia either. Guess this means a movie post is in order soon! If anyone sees Funny People, let me know what you think. And the movie Mike's been working on The Cove is playing in select theaters if you're a documentary person -- it's very disturbing, folks.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Book/TV News and a Giveaway

Ok, so I know I'm really late posting today. I was doing some freelance transcription work for the folks Mike works with, and we had to hook my keyboard up to his computer (to make life easier, short-long story, but I won't go into it).

So, I'm hooked in again and earned some extra money and am now posting a giveaway that I've been planning to coincide with some TV, page-to-screen news!

I'm super excited to hear that Kevin Williamson has adapted LJ Smith's Vampire Diaries books into a prime-time show for the CW. The show premieres September 10 and I'll be tuned in, hoping the show is as kick-ass as I remember the books being.

This fall, ABC is airing FlashForward based on Robert J. Sawyer's book of the same name. The series stars Joseph Feinnes, Dominic Monaghan, and Gabrielle Union and airs Thursdays, starting September 24. Interestingly enough, the show was originally produced by HBO. We'll see if this has any effect (affect?) on the show soon.

ABC is going real literary this fall with another show based on a book, Eastwick, based on John Updike's Witches of Eastwick, will air on Wednesdays.

And finally, the giveaway. In honor of Past Life, a new show airing on FOX in January, based on MJ Rose's Reincarnationist books, I'm giving away the set of two to one commenter here.

To enter for a copy of The Reincarnationist AND The Memorist, just leave me a comment here with your e-mail address (no PO Box folks and continental US only -- I'm still recovering from moving costs).

Deadline to get your name in is Sunday, August 2 (end of day). I'll announce the winner here on Monday, August 3 and contact them via the e-mail provided in the comment.

Good luck and happy reading!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Free Stuff

Alright, readers! Stay tuned for details to come regarding giveaways!

It's the I've just moved shelf cleaning I've been promising. First up will be MJ Rose's first two Reincarnationist books (I got a duplicate of the second and bought a second copy of the first to give away the set here) and Tracy Madison's Taste of Magic (I've got my personalized win here so one of you gets my second copy).

Ok, be ready! I'll start the Rose contest tomorrow so check back for more info then.

And in Other New Author News

Christopher Ransom's debut horror title, The Birthing House, is set to hit shelves next Tuesday, and I'm zipping through so I can review it for the BB in time.

It's a truly creepy read about a couple, Conrad and Joanna Harrison, who move into an old Victorian home in Wisconsin, only to discover that there is something very strange about the house. Jo leaves, almost immediately, for work -- adding strain to their already stressed marriage -- and Conrad is left to learn the secrets of the house alone. Noises in the night, strange women appearing at his bedside, blood on the floor, and that doesn't include the physical occurrences either. The house wants life and seems to be able to do whatever it takes to ensure that that happens.

Ransom's debut brings to mind John Saul's early work, twisty horror tales I remember reading ages ago. Comes the Blind Fury and Suffer the Children, just to name a few. The Birthing House is a dark and terrifying read that will horrify readers -- so if you're looking for a new horror tale, this would be the one to buy.

Strangely, or not, this book has already been released in the UK. Ransom is from Boulder, Colorado, my adopted home since '05, and now lives in Mineral Point, Wisconsin. I guess we're just a little slower stateside, eh?

It's promising, though, that the book has already become a bestseller according to the London Times list. One would hope that readers here will take notice as well and propel the debut author into the realm of book stardom that he and The Birthing House deserve.

Be warned readers, this chilling read is on par with Barker and other greats in the horror world. This is no quiet thriller, but a stormy and intense read that is at times very disturbing.

And, if you're in or around the Boulder area, Chris will be at the Boulder Bookstore on August 17 at 7:30 so speak about and sign The Birthing House. I'll definitely be there, book in hand! He will also be appearing at the Highlands Ranch branch of the Tattered Cover on August 18.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

An Author Signing

After all the house issues, Mike talked me into talking myself out of going to the Diane Mott Davidson signing at Chataqua this evening.

Yes, it's true, I almost talked myself out of going. I've been fighting a headache and kind of wanted to stay in tonight with the promised storm heading our way (probably the storm that cause the headache -- double-edged sword). And I was going to the event alone, after all.

Still, I'm glad that Mike convinced me to go -- that and my desire to support a local bookstore (High Crimes) and an author event kept me motivated to go. (Side note: if you have the opportunity to attend an event near your home, take advantage of it!)

This is not the first time I've seen Davidson in action. In late '04 or early, early '05, I made Mike drive from Lafayette to Houston for a signing at Murder by the Book (a fantastic store if you live in the Houston area) for the release of Double Shot. And I'm very jealous of this year's crop of DPI students because Davidson, a local Colorado author (moved to Evergreen in 1976 if I wrote my notes correctly, after living in Texas and California first), spoke at the Publishing Institute this year. Not that I missed out, we had Stephen Coonts and Gordon Campbell, but I wanted Davidson, too! Greedy me.

Anywho, Davidson talked about her inspiration and research for several of her books, including her latest release, Fatally Flaky, which involves bridezillas, wedding catering, and spas. But I haven't had a chance to read it yet, so look for that post in the near future.

Instead, tonight I wanted to tell you a little bit about Davidson and her talk from this evening.

Davidson started out in 1982, but her first two books remain unpublished today. She wrote Catering to Nobody in the late 80s and it was released in 1990. If you haven't read the books, they feature Goldy Schultz, a Colorado caterer who deals with all sorts of issues -- and gets involved in many a murder -- through her work. They're super fun reads, and are as addictive as some of the dishes Goldy serves up. Don't worry, they come with recipes too, so you can try them out for yourself as you read.

My grandmother actually got me started reading this series ages ago. Back then, she was a little careful about what books she threw my way. I was probably still in middle school at this point, so it's understood. Davidson's books, while funny and exciting, do deal with some deep dark issues, but definitely fall into the cozy category, meaning that they're not graphic in either the violence or the sex department. In fact, just like a great recipe, they have just the right amount or both, even for someone like me who isn't afraid of the darker, gorier reads.

I have to say that Diane Mott Davidson, like many authors, is such an inspiration to me. She taught herself to cook, watched Julia Child everyday, and lived down the street from Sunset books -- all things that added to the experiences that she drew from when creating this series. She even received a letter from Child herself after mentioning the famed chef so many times in her books.

She's been inspired by everything from her local church to Oliver North, and from bingeing models to coroners' tales. She creates her own recipes and tests each one for high altitude and sea level (believe me, a bigger deal than you would think if you've never tried to bake in Colorado) and she's worked with many a caterer in the name of research. And I think it's obvious when reading Goldy's tales that Davidson gives each and every new book her all.

Davidson is full of advise for writers and enthusiastically tells people to try different things when starting out, in order to find what works best for you. I have taken her advise to heart before, having watched an interview from Poisoned Pen bookstore in Scottsdale (found on YouTube) where she talks about how she started out writing, and find that I learn something new each time I hear her speak.

With a total of 15 titles in the series thus far, Davidson shows no sign of stopping any time soon (and thank goodness for that), though readers may notice she has slowed a bit to allow more time between titles. Hey, I'm not complaining. Authors are artists and in creating each new book, they devote so much time and energy into pleasing their readers, true, but also in remaining true to their characters and their work. If it takes that extra 6 months to make Goldy's next outing that much better, I welcome it!

Fans of the series can look for the long-awaited cookbook in Davidson's future (according to this evening's news) and she is currently at work on series title 16.

For more on Davidson, and for a peek inside some of her latest titles, visit her official HarperCollins site here.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Do You Like CSI?

I've been a fan of CSI since episode 1. And even now, when every show you turn on seems to have a forensic spin on it, I still love Vegas and New York.

This fall, CSI creator Anthony Zuiker has something great in store for thriller fans. It's his debut novel and the first "digi-novel" -- a book with an interactive web experience including online bridge videos to watch between each chapter of the book.

Book 1, Level 26: Dark Origins, is to be the first in a series and will hit shelves on September 8. The book is co-written with Duane Swierczynski, author of Severance Package (amongst other titles), and is about a group that hunts the most evil of all killers.

I can't even describe how freaky this trailer is. This is a whole new level of book/reader interaction, similar to, but even more in depth than that of last month's Personal Effects: Dark Art, which you might remember from this post.

Is this the future of reading as we know it? Not necessarily. But, based on the level of effort put into this project, I can tell you that it should knock readers completely out of the water. It's unexpected, I'll tell you that much. But you'll also remember that I loved the concept of Hutchins's novel and so I'm totally psyched about Zuiker's project as well.

Based on the trailer above, I would think this was going to be a new CBS series rather than a book. Maybe we'll bring some TV fans over to the dark side of the printed page, eh?

I'll keep you posted on this one. I've received a copy to review and I'm sure I'm not going to be able to wait until September to read it. I'll have to squeeze it in before that for sure!

For more on the series, visit the official Level 26 site here. And remember to add this one to your "to buy" list, and bookmark the site.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

New Releases 7/28

Some of the new titles hitting shelves this week are:

My Soul to Take by Rachel Vincent -- first in the Soul Screamers series, and the debut release from the new Harlequin Teen imprint

The Lost Sister by Megan Kelley Hall -- follow-up to Sisters of Misery

The Girl Who Played With Fire by Stieg Larsson -- second in the fantastic trilogy that began with The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo

Chosen to Die by Lisa Jackson -- sequel to Left to Die

The Perfect Couple by Brenda Novak -- fourth in the Last Stand series

Best Served Cold by Joe Abercrombie

Far Dark Fields by Gary A. Braunbeck -- a Cedar Hill horror

The Fire King by Marjorie Liu -- latest Dirk and Steele

The Weight of Silence by Heather Gudenkauf

Henry's Sisters by Cathy Lamb

Riverside Park by Laura Van Wormer

New on DVD:
Torchwood: Children of Earth
Doctor Who: Planet of the Dead
Fast & Furious

New reviews at Bookbitch.com:
The Lost Sister
Storm Cycle by Iris and Roy Johansen
Noodle Comfort by Kentaro Kobayashi

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Wishing I Had a Pool

I spent my first night alone in the new house last night and it was terrible. I'm not kidding. I totally psyched myself out and kept hearing things. Again, my only consolation is that the dog didn't perk up when I thought I heard the noises, so I must have imagined them. And I won't take my Ambien when Mike's not home. It knocks me out and I'm just afraid that I'd lay there sleeping through anything that might happen.

Plus, we discovered that the a/c in this house has never had a filter in it. Here's a tip folks, if you haven't changed your a/c filter in a while, you might need to. It helps it run efficiently and it can be really, really bad if you go too long without doing it.

Our last house had this issue and they had to replace the entire unit, very costly and avoidable. I definitely didn't want that to happen here so I asked about the filter the day before we stayed our first night. Our landlord had no clue. She lives out of state and hasn't been to the house in a while. I knew I should be worried because apparently that last tenants ran out on her.

Well, I was right to be worried. There is a company out here that offers tune-ups on your a/c and furnace and they discovered that the ducting was filled with crap because no one had ever put in a filter. So I had no a/c last night.

We'd actually turned it off a couple of days ago, but it turned out to be cool enough that the ceiling fans were enough (we have ceiling fans! Yay!). Last night was miserable, though. Hot, unable to sleep, and hearing noises = very grumpy Becky. I need a nap, and could really use a relaxing and cooling afternoon in the pool, but it's back in Louisiana and I won't be able to head home until around October. Heading back before that just doesn't seem practical with all of the moving expenses.

Ah well. I can read about it, though. This is a highlight of an upcoming title for September (I'll do a few more of these next week because there are some super cool reads coming this fall) that should give me a little taste of home.

Nevada Barr is best known for her series featuring park ranger Anna Pigeon. If you haven't read them, they're totally fabulous. I just realized I've never posted about the series, so that's now on the agenda as well. (13 1/2 is Barr's second 2009 release, after the latest Anna Pigeon book, Borderline.)

Anywho, 13 1/2 is not Barr's first stand-alone, but it is her first stand-alone thriller and it's set in New Orleans (see, there is a method to my madness). Here's the info on the book as it appears on Barr's website:

13 1/2 by Nevada Barr, New York Times bestselling author of the award-winning Anna Pigeon novels, has written a taut and terrifying psychological thriller. It is scheduled for release in September 29th, 2009 from Vanguard Press.

Polly Deschamps suspects there might be a connection between her beau and a series of decades-old murders.

Two broken pasts collide in an uncertain present carrying the reader from the horrifying 1970's murder spree of a child--dubbed "Butcher Boy" by a shocked public--in Rochester, Minnesota, to Polly, the abused daughter of Mississippi "trailer trash," to post-Katrina New Orleans.

And though a New Orleans being stalked by a serial killer probably isn't the way most folks would like to visit The Big Easy, I'll take what I can get.

Mmmm, but I could really go for a great shrimp poboy as well! I might just have to break out the fry-daddy as celebration when the diet ends (and then put it away again since I wouldn't want to backslide, eh.).

I'll be sure to update ya'll once I've read the book, but until then, keep it on your radar!

Friday, July 24, 2009

Children of Earth

Tonight (Thursday) is night 4 of the 5 part Torchwood mini-series that makes up season 3. I don't want it to end, but it's oh, so good and I'm dying to find out what's going on.

If you don't watch Torchwood, and have never seen it, I have to tell you to check it out. I must admit that I wasn't as big a fan of the show as I was of Doctor Who, I mainly checked it out when I ran out of Who episodes as something to bide my time until there were more.

It's fantastic, though!

If you have checked it out, but maybe weren't hooked after the first few eps, "Children of Earth" is a great place to start. It sort of stands alone as it's own arc -- you don't necessarily have to have watched the show before to understand what's going on. Torchwood hunts aliens and that's about all the info you need. You would, however, have a bit of a spoiler for the first two seasons if you start with the mini-series. There are some deaths in season 2, but overall I really don't think you'd be ruining it for yourself. I mean, you'd still not really know how it happens.

Though the show is currently airing on BBC America, it has already aired in the UK and is coming out on DVD next Tuesday. So, if you've missed it this week, you have a shot at watching all five eps on Sunday, right before the new Doctor Who and the re-air of the first ep of Being Human (another promising show, as I've already seen the first half of the first ep). Or, you can just rent/buy the dvds and watch them at your leisure next week. How freaking cool is that?!

Effects are a bit cheeseball, true to BBC form (a bit on par with FOX) but I absolutely love it. Love it! I haven't yet brought myself to read the Doctor Who and Torchwood books, but I have to tell you, both shows really leave me craving more sci-fi tv. I think Eureka will be next on my rental list now.

And, for a little bonus, here's the link to the BBCA site for Torchwood.

Ok, tv moment over for the week. I'm going to get ready to watch Day 4 right now! Revelations about Captain Jack and maybe we'll see what's in the glass room. You won't read this until tomorrow, though, and by then I'll be chomping at the bit for the final episode.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Music for the Soul

A rare music post for me, but here it is.

As you know, moving has been the bane of my existence lately. I'm still not sleeping well -- new environment and a/c issues I'm sure. In fact, I'm exhausted today. Bone weary. I was up at 5:30 listening to slurry run through the a/c lines. Fortunately, we've got someone coming out to look at it today. Hopefully that means we can start getting the room to arctic chill level soon and then it's just a matter of my getting used to new house noises.

I've not unboxed anything for three days. Shame on me. Nope, I haven't been working on the house because I've been trying to get some actual work work done. Part of that involves my calling all the area chamber of commerce offices for city info -- most have been very helpful and some seem to be on perpetual vacation, not returning calls at all.


So I told Mike that we needed to budget. Rent is more expensive here and I'm tired of the rental game altogether. Ergo, saving is a must. But, our phone and router were both on sale last week so I treated myself to a cd that I've been wanting (my sister's been wanting it as well).

And it's so fun! Vampire Weekend (named for a film made by one of the band's members) have a sort-of Caribbean (technically African according to the band's influences) sound that reminds me of certain 80s songs that I love. In fact, their videos have a very Duran Duran feel for me.

Like similar bands, the lyrics can sometimes get a bit heavy, but the upbeat music itself makes the listening experience so much fun. I feel like dancing around the room when I listen to it. And, given my wild mood swings of late, it gets me back in an up mood so that I'm not ready to wreak havoc around myself. "Oxford Weekend" is probably my favorite song on the cd with "A-Punk" right behind it. And I really dare you not to smile listening to "Mansard Roof" or "Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa" (reminscent of Talking Heads' "This Must Be the Place").

And that's the first half of the cd! The second half is just as good, trust me. It's my new happy cd. The band is smart, too, so don't be fooled by the chipper beats. The lyrics are not so thinly veiled opinion pieces on all kinds of things around the world but basically the way people treat each other (in a nutshell).

"Vampire Weekend" (the name of the album) was named on multiple best of 2008 lists and the band is currently working on a new album slated for later this year.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Noodle Comfort (and Noodle Torture)

Argh, I am a food addict. I've probably mentioned that, or you've probably figured it out by now. Food is my answer to just about any occasion. It's social, it's calming, and it's good for my spirit, but not my waistline or my budget.

And just when you thought I might have been showing some restraint and working on my self control, we had to up and move. I tell you, it's hard to stay motivated to keep to a diet, even one where they prepare all the main dishes for you, when your entire house (not to mention kitchen) are in complete disarray.

Shuttling boxes from one house to the next, toting paper towels and all-purpose cleaner from one room to the next -- and misplacing it and everything else every time I turn around -- it's no wonder I decided this week was the time to try that pizza place I've been checking out for over a year!

You think I'm kidding (or maybe you know me better). They deliver where we live now and I ordered Saturday night, after a lunch of burger and fries at yet another place that's is no longer far enough away for me to talk myself out of.

But I'm back on the diet today. Hopefully hitting the gym tomorrow (amazing that lugging around all of my books did not make up for that, or at least it doesn't feel like it).

And then, I got some cookbooks for review -- my first package at the new house! How freaking cool is that? I was reading off some of the recipes to my mom and she asked my why I was doing this to myself. Yeah.

But, when I do get off the diet, one of the cookbooks I received this week doesn't seem like all that bad of a way to ease back into "real" food. And with a title like Noodle Comfort, you have to admit it's pretty hard to resist. They're not kidding carbs are totally comfort, and if you're a pho fan (better than chicken noodle in my opinion) then you know, noodle dishes can be fairly low in calories, all things considered!

I haven't had a chance to test any recipes yet (obviously) but I told Mike he was under strict orders to cook and let me know what he thought. I can tell you that based on my very in depth look (and drool) over this book, I think it's a winner.

First off, it's the latest the Easy Japanese Cooking series written by Kentaro Kobayashi and published by Vertical, Inc. I really love the fact that for the most part, the ingredients are fairly easy to find, and even the ones I've never heard of have easy-to-locate alternatives -- always a plus, especially if you don't have an ethnic market in your area. The book also has a noodle guide, which I find really helpful. Even as much as I cook, I screw up noodles because I'm never quite sure what kind (Asian noodles that is) are used for what and sometimes grabbing and blindly tasting does not work in your favor, as I've learned: certain noodles are meant to be eaten cold, certain ones are supposed to be eaten crunchy... They even tell you how to make your own udon noodles -- thick wheat noodles. And the instructions are super easy to follow -- concise, to the point, and they include helpful tips.

Seeing as how I've never grown out of ramen, this book is kind of perfect for me. It's a pretend grown-up cookbook for foodies like me who still enjoy the simple things in life (laugh it up, ramen is some tasty stuff!). Add to that the fact that I practically ate the tv watching Man vs Food at that super spicy ramen place, and would have done just about anything to accompany Anthony Bourdain and Morimoto on their tour of noodle places, and it's pretty much a given that this book would make it into my cookbook collection one way or another.

Other titles in the series are: Bento Love (for making your own box lunches), Donburi Mania (rice dishes), and the upcoming Veggie Haven, and Appetizer Rex.

Vertical, Inc. started in 2003 and also releases manga, crafts, and Japanese lit titles including the Ring trilogy by Koji Suzuki. Check out their website here for more titles.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Moving News

Ok, I won't go so far as to say we're settled (most of my belongings are in our front room and my kitchen is a total catastrophe.), but we are in and I am in the process of cleaning the other house (nope, roomie is not helping AT ALL, and he's still living there).

I've gotten my first mail at the new house! We bought a router, got cable, phone, and internet hooked up (after quite an ordeal) and bought phones. Money, money, money out the window!

I'm completely exhausted. My first night, being me, I had myself convinced that every new noise was something to worry about. My only saving grace was that the dog had absolutely no reaction to them, so we must have been safe.

I cheated on the diet, multiple times, thanks to my kitchen mess -- I'm having trouble putting things away because I have no idea where I want to put them. I feel like there's going to be a better place no matter where they end up and so I just sit and think about it and get nothing done!

It's like that pretty much all over the house. Agh! Time is ticking away and the longer it takes, the closer I am to having to pack it all up again. So frustrating renting.

Anywho. I'm trying to get back on the wagon with everything -- reading, diet, gym, housework, work work -- and I'm going to try and figure out how to relax when my entire house is flipped upside down ('cause I need some sleep tonight). Hard to settle when you feel like there's so much to be done, right?

Oh, and we have a gazillion people living next to us, I've been stalked this week by a seven-year-old, and I can finally watch True Blood thanks my being suckered into a "special package" including HBO for a year. Mmmm, I can already picture the hours wasted in front of the TV.

New Releases 7/21

Some of the new titles hitting shelves this week include:

Sandman Slim by Richard Kadrey - paranormal debut

Dead Men's Boots by Mike Carey - third in the Felix Castor series

Storm Cycle by Iris Johansen and Roy Johansen - new romantic suspense stand alone from mother/son team

Twenties Girl by Sophie Kinsella - stand alone, chick-lit from the author of the Shopaholic series

New on DVD:
Coraline (on my must-buy list since it's coming in limited ed with 3D glasses!)

Ok guys. Thanks to my move, I've not gotten much read lately (it's driving me bananas), so I didn't have any new reviews for the BB this week, but there are still new reviews posted, so check her out for some new reads and try your luck at her monthly giveaways.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Moving Update

Hi, all!. Sorry I didn't post yesterday. We started slowly moving stuff on Wed, but we're trying to get everything else in the house tonight.

I'll be offline until Monday (if everything goes well and the cable lady told the truth about bumping us up from a Wed appt).

Not sure where everything is going to go in the new house and have very angry kitties at the moment. Cheating on the diet as well with Carl's Jr. for lunch and pizza for supper -- it's kind of hard to prepare veggies and all that stuff when your entire kitchen is in boxes!

Ok, see you all on Monday. For a weekend book rec, I've been relaxing with Jonathan L. Howard's Johannes Cabal the Necromancer during the move. Will let you guys know how it is next week (it's pretty funny if you have a sort-of dark sense of humor -- I"m really enjoying it, just wish I could curl up with it longer than it takes for me to pass out!).

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Put Him on Your Watch List

A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of reading a debut author who I think is going to be great. The book in question was The Cutting by James Hayman, a thriller/mystery set in Portland, Maine and featuring Detective Michael McCabe.

Michael McCabe thought that moving to Portland, Maine would offer a bit of safety and security for his family. When the mutilated body of a teenage girl is discovered and then another woman goes missing, McCabe begins to realize that no place is truly safe anymore. McCabe has his eyes set on a local surgeon, but the man's position makes it difficult to make a case, especially with limited evidence to support his theory. But McCabe also finds evidence that this latest case might be linked to an older unsolved case in Florida.

I hope that this is the first in a series. McCabe is an interesting character, but there were quite a few loopholes in his story (which would suggest that it will continue). The plot itself was really interesting and a little unexpected just based on my very first impressions of what was to come. Overall, a really gripping debut and one that has put Hayman firmly on my "watch for" list.

For another opinion (her review isn't posted just yet -- as I write this), check out Lori's review over at Lori's Reading Corner. I'm a little anxious to see what she thought considering I haven't read any reviews since I finished this book.

You know, I am one of those readers who checks out reviews of books before, during, and after I read them. I'm always curious to know what the rest of the reading world thinks. I think most of us book people do. I mean, c'mon, it's a great way to poach new reads!

Not that many of us need encouragement building out TBR piles! As you've read for the past couple of posts, I'm in the midst of a move and that means uncovering every single pile of titles hidden all over my house.

Fortunately for me, my memory has managed to hold up fairly well where my books are concerned. I'm only just beginning to come across new editions and wonder if it's a title I already own (agh! That means it's downhill from here, folks). I've only (knock on wood) bought one book twice and my friend benefitted from it since I just sent the duplicate onto her. Hey, it was a really intriguing book and I happened to buy two different editions. Now it would be really bad if it was the same exact copy!

But, I'm still of the opinion that you can never have too many new books. Each one is a new adventure for me. Now if only I could afford to support my habit in the way I would like!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

A Little More About Me

I am seriously superstitious. I know I've mentioned that before, but I have this belief that if you don't want something to happen, then you don't speak of it. Mentioning it will immediately cause it to come to be.

One of my fears in renting is that you never really know who will be coming into your home when. When I was in my apartment, they could come in for repairs or bug spraying or routine checks whenever they wanted. In my last house, the landlord (I later found out) was coming in without any sort of notice at all to muck around the house, though he never really managed to fix anything. Then the pipe burst in the basement and there were workers in the house for all of a week, sporadically. Fortunately with both of these, I was working outside the home so there was less of a chance of my being there when someone came in.

Our current landlord is super antsy to rent this place. It's annoying really. Our lease gives us 60 days to notify her of our intent. She listed this place a full 6 months before our lease was up last time and no way was I dealing with 6 mos of walkthroughs. Fortunately, she agreed and took the listing down. Then we ended up renewing. This time, though, it was listed a full 3 mos early, 30 days before our own deadline to decide.

Now if you've gotten this far, then you've probably put a few things together yourself. Like the fact that I work from home here and have a fear of people walking in. Worst case scenario, someone coming in while I'm in the shower.

It happened.

I'm not lying. Last Friday we were set to go to the Harry Potter pre-screening for a There With Care benefit. Mike did some work for them and the tickets were in thanks. I had originally said if they could sell the seats that they should, but when they offered them anyway, I was pleased as punch. It was super cool to be part of it.

The day before, we received a call from our landlord that a potential tenant would be doing a walkthrough on Friday at 2:30. Just a few hours later (on Thursday) someone showed up, without the rental agency. Mike let him walk through while I called the agency to find out what was up.

First off, he was legit, but he didn't have a showing scheduled for Thurs. In fact, they didn't show any showing for Friday either. I spoke with the realtor person this guy was dealing with and she said that the times got scrambled and no one would be showing up on Friday.

So, their fault. Friday rolls around and I headed to the gym for a workout. When I got home, I did some work and got things squared away so that my hours were on track and I could go without any problems. And I hit the shower. As I'm stepping out, I hear the dog going completely nuts. Um, yeah. An agency rep showed up with two older men to do a walkthrough after all.

Seriously one of my worst nightmares come true. I was freaking pissed. And then I felt guilty all day for being such a bitch to them. Mike says I'm fine that they had to expect it considering it was there screwup to begin with and I did have to come down in a towel to find out what was going on.

Ugh, this renting shit is for the birds! I seriously can't take this anymore. On the one hand, you can say the worst has happened so I'm good now. On the other, I'm leery about taking an afternoon shower, so I have to kind of sit in the post-gym sweat all day until Mike gets home for fear of it happening again.


Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Moving Blues

I hate moving. I really hate it. When I was a kid, for some reason I thought that moving would be the coolest thing ever. As an adult, I stayed in my apartment for four years before moving here to Colorado. We moved here in '05, to our current house in '07, and now we're moving to a new house (thankfully sans roommate). And I really wish I could just snap my fingers and have everything magically transported.

I'm something of a packrat. While I know this, it's still hard for me to accept that I may not actually need every single thing that I hang onto. But true to packrat form, it's hard for me to part with things. So while some people clean and streamline with a move, I just keep transporting the same junk from one place to another, adding to it as I go.

I haven't made much progress packing.

One thing I just absolutely will not part with, though, is my collection of books. I've been building it since I was a kid and I'm not getting rid of them. So I have to keep my mouth shut and move the boxes myself in order to keep my other from breathing a word of selling off some. But it should help amplify my working out this week, lugging 50 pound boxes up and down stairs.

Ah well, to the book rec for today. I'm currently reading (right this very moment, alongside Koko -- a tome) Iris and Roy Johansen's latest collaboration Storm Cycle.

I first started reading Johansen back in 1996 when she made her cross-over debut with Ugly Duckling. For years I gobbled up each new release without fail. And then I kind of moved on. I think sometimes you have to. I think sometimes, you need a break from a good thing to be able to appreciate what captured you in the first place. I've had to do it recently with a few of my other authors from back then.

But when I returned to Johansen last year with her first book co-written with son Roy, I remembered what I loved so much about her books.

Mother and son team up in this blockbuster worthy thriller. Hanna Bryson is an expert in the field of marine architecture. As such, she is tapped to inspect a Russian sub that has been recently acquired for display in an American maritime museum. When her brother Connor discovers encrypted messages on the interior plates of the sub, Hannah knows that something of great significance has been found, she just doesn’t understand how great. Then, Connor is murdered and Hannah vows revenge at all cost. In order to succeed, Hannah teams up with a Russian mercenary who’s with his own agenda. Every aspect of Iris Johansen’s trademark romantic suspense is present in this collaborative effort, but son, Roy, lends a nice balance and something of an edge to the whole story. The combination works quite well. I think fans of both authors will be pleased.

Silent Thunder hit shelves last July andStorm Cycle will be out next Tuesday. They're both stand-alones.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

New Releases 7/14

Some of the titles hitting shelves this weekend are:

Missing Mark by Julie Kramer - second in the Riley Spartz series

Ravens by George Dawes Green

Whiskey Gulf by Clyde W. Ford - third Charlie Noble thriller

Jericho's Fall by Stephen L. Carter

Still Waters by Nigel McCrery - (trade paperback) first in a new series

Koko by Peter Straub - trade paperback reprint of the first in the Blue Rose Trilogy

Best Friends Forever by Jennifer Weiner

In the Valley of Ancient Rain Gods by James Lee Burke

Undone by Karin Slaughter - next in the Grant County series

The Best of Times by Penny Vincenzi

The Girl in the Blue Dress by Gaynor Arnold

Guardian of Lies by Steve Martini

New on DVD:
Color of Magic
A Haunting in Connecticut

New reviews at Bookbitch.com:
Missing Mark
Where the Dead Lay by David Levien
The House of Lost Souls by F.G. Cottam
Pop Tart by Kira Coplin and Julianne Kaye

Friday, July 10, 2009

Read Along With Me

Last night I finished up my latest read and started Peter Straub's Koko, a book that I've had my eye on for some time. So I don't have a review for you yet, but this is a re-release of a classic that's garnered some major critical praise throughout the years.

Peter Straub made his first appearance in the paranormal book world in 1975 with Julia, a book that was later adapted to film in The Haunting of Julia (or Full Circle), starring Mia Farrow. (In truth, he had one novel and a couple of books of poetry before that, but Julia was the first to deal with the supernatural.) But it was his 1979 release of Ghost Story that really got attention. Of course, Ghost Story was adapted to film in 1981 and has been hugely popular with horror fans ever since (it still pops up in forums as one of the best page to screen adaptations of the genre). In fact, Ghost Story, the film, was my introduction to Straub, rather than The Talisman, the amazingly fantastic book co-authored with Stephen King (read it! It's one of my absolute favorites of all time. I read it in college and was blown away by it.)

My mom was a fan of Ghost Story. She'd never read the book, but she loved the movie. I was probably 18 or 19 when it came on tv and she recommended it. Later, I read Talisman and Straub's 2003 Stoker winning release, Lost Boy, Lost Girl.

Given that I inhale books, you would think that I would have read much more of the man's work by now. Not so. Could be because many of his works were re-released while I was working at the bookstore and those editions are mostly out of print now. Sure, sure, you can find Straub's work at any used bookstore. In my defense, I've only recently started to go to our local one again, and did in fact buy one of his other titles on a visit a few months back. It's been on my TBR pile since then. But that's kind of a good thing.

Why? Because Straub has three books that are tied together through what is called the Blue Rose Trilogy. My purchase those months ago, after a recommendation from a fellow reader, was The Throat, a novel that just happens to be book three in the trilogy. And now, Random's Anchor/Vintage imprint is reprinting all three books. Koko, a psychological horror based around four Vietnam vets, is the first in the trilogy and a new edition is hitting shelves next Tuesday (July 14). Mystery, the second title, is being re-released in January of next year. And though it's not listed on Amazon just yet, The Throat will be due out sometime next summer.

Koko, like Dan Simmons's Song of Kali, won Straub the World Fantasy Award in 1989, Straub's first of many awards. He has won 5 Stoker Awards since, one of them for The Throat.

So, here's the review from PW when Koko was released in the 80s:

In his most gripping, most hallucinogenic thriller to date, the author of Ghost Story and Shadowland takes us on a dizzying spin through those eerie psychic badlands where nightmare and insanity seem to fuse with reality. It's 15 years after the Vietnam War and a string of murders in Southeast Asia convinces four veterans of the same Vietnam platoonone now a doctor, another a writerthat the murderer, whose trademarks are mutilation and a playing card with "Koko" scrawled on it, was also a member of the platoon. They resolve to find him, for purposes of their own, before the police do. Led by the platoon's one-time lieutenant, who has a cold-blooded killing of villagers on his record, they follow Koko's trail to the sleazy bars and sinister dives of Singapore and Bangkok, and finally to New York where one of them becomes his latest victim. A probe into the killer's grim childhood yields his true identity, as well as his genesis as a psychopath, but in a thrilling climax, the now-you-see-me, now-you-don't Koko proves just how wily he is. The characters are realistic and complex, and the story continues to resonate in the mind long after the final page is turned.

I have high, high expectations of this book. First off, I was so freaking blown away by Dan Simmons's Song of Kali, and warranted or not, I've somehow associated the two as being similar in style and tone (though not subject). You can read my thoughts on Kali (another I highly recommend) here.

Second, because Straub typically makes it to 9/10 of every favorite horror authors list I've seen.

And third, because I need something to snap me out of my slump!

Ok, well I'm off, because this is long enough as it is. Hopefully it's inspired you to run out and grab this if you haven't read it (check out and excerpt here), and if you have then you can tell me what you think of it.

Hope you have a great Friday. I'm off to a pre-screening of the new Harry Potter this afternoon.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

A Paranormal Must Read

From a place you might not expect it, too.

I've been a fan of Jan Burke's work since 2001 when I read my very first Irene Kelly mystery.

Funny story, Burke has relatives in my old neck of the woods and I was telling a customer about this fabulous mystery I'd just read (Flight), when she revealed that she was Burke's cousin. Later, I ended up working with another one of her relatives.

Last year, Jan Burke broke away from her series with the release of The Messenger, a mystery/thriller with a supernatural twist. I was a little worried, I gotta admit. I knew that Burke was a great writer, but what if I ended up let down because I really wanted to get back to Irene's story? No fears, readers. I am here to tell you that it completely lived up to my expectations and more. In fact, it even earned a starred review in PW, a big deal.

So, without further adieu, here's a bit about the book to whet your appetite (my review as posted on Bookbitch.com):

In 1815, Tyler Hawthorne was a soldier fighting against Napolean at Waterloo. He was in his early twenties. He still is today. On the brink of death, Tyler was offered a deal, if he were to agree, he would never grow old and he would never die. In exchange, he must walk the Earth delivering the messages of the dead. His trusty sidekick, a massive dog called Shade, a cemetery dog, is his constant companion. Problem is, the deal was never meant to be for longer than a few years. Course Tyler had no way of knowing this, and his would-be enemy was eliminated long ago, or so he thought. This entity has finally returned and is determined to gain back what was once his. Amanda Clark has only just met her newest neighbor, and after mistakenly assuming that the man is a con artist of the worst kind, she finds herself drawn to him. Unfortunately, Amanda’s association with Tyler lands her right in the middle of the conflict. The Messenger is quite different from what Burke’s fans may be used to with the Irene Kelly series. At its heart, though, the plot is all her and will please new and old readers alike. A fantastic paranormal thriller.

So it's Thursday. One day from the beginning of the weekend and another week almost at its end. Am I the only one who always feels like the weekend doesn't bring about a nice break, but just slightly hastens the beginning of yet another week? I'm working on it. Live in the moment, smell the flowers, that sort of thing. There's just always so much that I want to accomplish on the weekends and I can never seem to get it all done.


I also wish that adults still got a summer break like kids and students do. There's always, for me, an anticipation for the start of summer, and then I remember that it's really no different from the rest of the year, except for the gorgeous weather and the yearn for a swimming pool.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Post B-Day Post

Wow, I'm sitting in my office and there's this guy doing yardwork at the house across the street with a dog that looks just like ours. For a minute there I got worried!

Anywho. As I said, yesterday was my 28th. Thanks for all the birthday wishes you guys! I cheated on the diet and am worrying what the fallout will be this weekend. We'll just have to see. I did decide to go with Mexican for dinner and even had a margarita (after I swore I wouldn't).

Ah well, them's the breaks. I did have fun though.

So I think I'm in a bit of a slump. I can't decide what to read. I've picked up and dropped a couple of books this week that really aren't hitting the spot, which is not to say that they're bad, they just aren't appealing to me at the moment. I went to the bookstore yesterday and nothing was really jumping out at me there either. What's wrong with me? It's so frustrating.

I got a gift certificate, so I can order a couple of titles, and I have this nagging feeling that I should spend it, spend it, spend it. Am I the only person who does that? Part of me knows I should wait because there are some fabulous things coming out that I know I'm going to want. But there are some things out now that I really want as well. I think I'm just really hesitant to bring more books into the house before we move next week. After that, I can start packing 'em into the new house!

I did buy Hank Phillippi Ryan's Prime Time over the weekend. I haven't cracked it open just yet, though, because I have a stack of TBRs that I've been tackling (real effective adding to it while I'm working it down, I know). It's the first in a series with the second, Face Time, due out at the end of July and Air Time, book three, due out at the end of August. Here's the product description from Amazon on that one:

In the cutthroat world of television journalism, seasoned reporter Charlotte McNally knows that she'd better pull out all the stops or kiss her job goodbye. But it's her life that might be on the line when she learns that an innocent-looking e-mail offer resulted in murder, mayhem and a multimillion-dollar fraud ring.

All too soon her investigation leads her straight to Josh Gelston, who is a little too helpful and a lot too handsome. Charlie might have a nose for news, but men are a whole other matter. Now she has to decide whether she can trust Josh…before she ends up as the next lead story.

A couple that have come out recently that are on my to buy list are Andrew Grant's Even. This guy is Lee Child's brother. Seriously! How can you go wrong with that? PW gave it a starred review:

Jason Bourne fans will welcome Grant's thrill-packed debut, which introduces Lt. Cdr. David Trevellyan, of Royal Navy Intelligence. Near the end of a mission in New York City, Trevellyan's chance discovery late one night of a bum in an alley with six neatly arranged bullet holes in his chest makes the secret operative the NYPD's prime suspect in the man's murder. After the FBI takes over the case, Trevellyan learns the victim was an undercover agent for the bureau, the sixth to die in a series of killings. Disavowed by his British bosses, Trevellyan realizes he has to fend for himself in what is clearly some sort of frameup. A villainess with a taste for genital mutilation lends a James Bondian touch, but Grant, bestseller Lee Child's younger brother, never strikes a false note in a plot that could have gone over-the-top in lesser hands. Effortlessly filling in bits of his protagonist's backstory during breathing spaces between action scenes, Grant closes on a nicely dark note.

The other is Fragment by Warren Fahy, which got a fabulous review in PW as well:

Starred Review. Fahy's imaginative debut puts a fresh spin on the survival-of-prehistoric-beasts theme popularized by Jurassic Park. When members of the cable reality show SeaLife, aboard a ship in the South Pacific, respond to a distress beacon from Henders Island, several of the show's scientists wind up slaughtered by bizarre animals on the remote island. In response, the U.S. government blockades Henders Island to contain the serious biothreat its unique fauna could pose to humanity. The ship's botanist, Nell Duckworth, joins the investigative team, which quickly finds that arthropods on the island have evolved into sophisticated and ferocious life forms. Particularly memorable and frightening are the creatures Nell dubs spigers, which have eight legs and are twice the size of a Bengal tiger. Exciting debates on topics like the role of sexual reproduction in the development of life on Earth provide a sound scientific background.

And then some of my favorites have new titles coming out in September. Watch for the new Jeff Lindsay book, Dexter By Design, and the third book in John Twelve Hawks's trilogy The Golden City, both due out 9/8.

So, plenty to choose from, I just need this funk to clear up. Scrub my brain.

Monday, July 6, 2009

News and Stuff

Ok, not an official book post right now, but some different things.

First off, I hope you're all playing Tracy Madison's online scavenger hunt for a chance to win loads of fun stuff. Round 4 started today and the winner will be announced day after tomorrow. Check here for details.

Lori over at Lori's Reading Corner is giving away a copy of James Patterson and Maxine Paetro's Swimsuit. Dets here. Contest ends July 10.

And, I just got news that Orbit is throwing a fabulous "Awesomely Bad SFF Cover" blowout. Check here and add your 2 cents. Sounds super fun! And remember, Orbit is still offering a new $1 e-book each month. Here's the link for this month's read (and you can see what's coming up, too).

Tomorrow is my 28th (ugh, I wish it was 22 again for a while). I'm turning in my latest cookbook for design and then taking a day off of the diet to treat myself to some of the food I've been missing (Dennis's egg salad at Cafe Food for one).

Next week is out official move-in date at the new place. Official out date here is not until the end of the month so I'm undecided about internet and cable changeover dates, but otherwise we have plenty of time to drift over there with all our stuff. Just cross your fingers that I can begin putting some away for a rainy day.

Hope you all had a Happy 4th.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

New Releases 7/7

Some of the books hitting shelves this week include:

House of Lost Souls by F.G. Cottam - a gothic-style ghost story and a chilling read

Abandon by Blake Crouch

Where the Dead Lay by David Levien - second in the Frank Behr series

The Castaways by Elin Hilderbrand

Blue Moon by Alyson Noel - second in the Immortals series

Greedy Bones by Carolyn Haines - a Sarah Booth Delaney mystery

Last Known Address by Theresa Schwegal

Johannes Cabal the Necromancer by Jonathan L. Howard

Black Hills by Nora Roberts

Burn by Linda Howard

The Devil's Company by David Liss - third to feature Benjamin Weaver

The Crowning Glory of Calla Lily Ponder by Rebecca Wells

The Devil's Punchbowl by Greg Iles

New on DVD:
The Unborn

New Reviews at Bookbitch.com:
Blue Moon
The Beach by Alex Garland
The Shore by Robert Dunbar
Bloody Awful by Georgia Evans
Living Raw Food by Sarma Melngailis
The Goodbye Cousins by Maggie Leffler

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

The Sweet Taste of Romance

Today is Tracy Madison's official release of her second book, A Stroke of Magic, which follows her debut, A Taste of Magic (released in Feb.).

And I've decided to share a little secret with you: Tracy's giving away stuff! Yep. Check out her blog here for the details. Just to make you work for it, I won't tell you where you can get the answer (but it's kind of easy to find even if you haven't read the new book).

Now, I've read A Taste of Magic, and it's a really funny, light read with a nice blend of romance, gypsy magic, and chocolate. Yep, chocolate. The main character owns her own bakery. Mmmm, my dieting self is drooling just remembering that book. (Yeah, the food cravings are still that bad and probably will be much worse with my b-day right around the corner here.)

As you've probably guessed, I did review Taste for the BB this past spring, so here are my thoughts, from the site archives of course:

Elizabeth Stevens has admittedly not been having the best of times lately. Her ex, after revealing that he was leaving her for another woman, has hired Liz and her bakery, A Taste of Magic, to make his new wedding cake. It probably wouldn’t be so bad if Liz had had anything resembling a relationship of her own for the past year, but sadly she has not. So when her grandmother gifts her with magical abilities on her 35th birthday, Liz has a lot to look forward to. Turns out Liz is descended from a gypsy witch and her own power shines when combined with her baking prowess. Soon she’s whipping up a batter of revenge for her ex, lust for her hunky neighbor, and even a little confidence for her friends. But of course, Liz is about to discover that the old adage, be careful what you wish for, is ever so true, and it could be that her greatest wish is closer than she thinks. This contemporary romance debut with a sweet touch of magic is the first in a new series — a cute and light read.

Everybody needs some light reading sometime (I need it all the time, personally). This is one to curl up with and read straight through, and then move on to Elizabeth's sister's story in Stroke of Magic (Alice is an artist).

This book brings to mind that old movie with Sean Patrick Flanery and Sarah Michelle Gellar, Simply Irresistible, the one where her emotions affect the people who eat her food. It was cute, but I think I prefer Elizabeth's leading man to Flanery (sorry), maybe because he's a cop.

Anywho, check out Madison's site, enter to win, and good luck! Oh, and run out and grab Taste of Magic for a pick-me-up read (do yourself a favor and grab a sweet treat to go with it, you'll need it!).