Sunday, August 30, 2009

New Urban Fantasy

At midnight, when I'm trying to think of a new post because I haven't yet finished my latest read, it's kind of nice to have a past title pop into my head and realize that I haven't spotlighted it here yet. My fault for not doing it when it was released, but it gives me new topics when I can't finish a new book everyday (ah, that would be heaven, wouldn't it? To be able to read a whole book everyday -- not just to have the ability, but to have the opportunity.)

I'm getting a package ready to send to the Junior Junkies, which always prompts me to check on release dates for various sequels and series titles -- 'cause one sister in particular will bug me every month until the new one comes out, even if the one she just read was released this month! And you can forget loaners with her. The older one is more than happy to borrow, but the other is like me and likes to keep her books, and mine!

So one of the books that I sent along and is now on all of our "watch for" radars for sequels, is Jay Wells's Red-Headed Stepchild, first in the Sabina Kane series. Orbit released this one in April and the JJs and I all agree that it was fantastic.

Here's some more info on the book for you:

Sabina Kane, a half mage/half vampire assassin, would have been a high-born vamp if her bloodline had been pure. As such, she is relegated to wet work on behalf of her grandmother, the Alpha and leader of the Domina, those who rule the vampire race. Sabina would like nothing more than to prove her loyalty and capability to her grandmother and finally earn the respect she deserves. This is why she accepts a job that sends her straight into an enemy’s camp, posing as a disgruntled vamp with vengeance on her mind. This group, led by the charismatic Clovis Trakiya, a half vamp himself, says that their goal is to unite the supernatural races, but Clovis’s own personal vendetta is against the Domina itself. This assignment will truly test Sabina in ways that she could never prepare for and will force her to face the truth about her birth for the very first time.

Wells has a unique character and a great hook -- the reader is left wondering, along with Sabina, just what the truth behind her heritage is. It's a super-cool, fun read and I can't wait until the next installment is released. As of last check (tonight) Orbit has book two in the series, The Mage in Black, slated for release in January. Don't tell my sister, though!

Ah to be young. I get to go home in October -- I've waited because my reunion is coming up and a trip before that didn't seem very practical with the move and everything that was upon us this summer. I haven't been home since last Christmas, so it's definitely time. I get a bit down when I start thinking about not being around for my sisters. They're cool chicks and I like to be able to hang out with them.

It's going to be strange going back to see all the people I went to school with, too. It's been 10 years. I feel like I'm getting so old! Yeah, yeah, I know it's all relative. It's going to be such a weird trip for me! My youngest sisters, the twins, are sophomores and the oldest sister is a senior at the same school I haven't stepped foot in for 10 years! Agh! Freaks me out, man!

Alright, enough of the exclamation points for one evening. I'm beat. Tomorrow's Monday, sadly. Night all -- hope you had a great weekend.

New Releases 9/1/09

Some of the new titles hitting shelves this week are:

Intertwined by Gena Showalter -- first in her new teen series and second title in the brand new Harlequin Teen line

Vengeance Road by Rick Mofina -- first in a new thriller series

Murder at Longbourn by Tracy Kiely -- debut cozy inspired by Austen

Air Time by Hank Phillippi Ryan -- third in the Charlie McNally series

Blind Eye by Jan Coffey -- latest thriller from husband and wife Nickoo and Jim McGoldrick

Walking Dead by C.E. Murphy -- latest in the urban shaman series

Evil at Heart by Chelsea Cain -- third in the Gretchen Lowell series

Tears of Pearl by Tasha Alexander -- fourth in the Lady Emily series

The Yard Dog by Sheldon Russell -- a mystery that's earning great reviews

Soulstice by Simon Holt -- second in the Devouring series for teens

The Spire by Richard North Patterson

New on DVD:
Desperate Housewives season 5
Heroes season 3
State of Play
CSI season 9

New reviews at Bookbitch.com:
Vengeance Road
Murder at Longbourn
Sidney Sheldon's Mistress of the Game by Tilly Bagshawe
Unbound by Kim Harrison, Vicki Pettersson, Jeaniene Frost, Melissa Marr, & Jocelynn Drake

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Happy Weekend Everybody!

The weather outside is totally icky today. I love a good rainstorm, especially if it becomes a thunderstorm, but this chilly, gray, is it or isn't it crap just gives me headaches. Literally, the pressure change outside wreaks havoc with my sinuses. To top it off, I've a headache of one sort or another all week long.

So you'd think I would spend the day relaxing and sleeping in. Not so. I'm testing recipes (which is fun, don't get me wrong). I think now that I'm officially off the diet and on my own to count calories and cook again, I'm going a little nuts.

Last weekend I made an etouffé, some baked herbed tomatoes that I later ate with Laughing Cow cheese on Wasa crackers for a snack, and Lemon Muffins that I broke out for breakfast with cottage cheese and fruit. I also tried to make cantaloupe coolers -- they were very cantaloupe-y. And I made a cous cous salad with rotisserie chicken, my new go-to for cleaning the fridge and not overdoing the calories.

Today we're supposed to be going to a barbecue at a friends house so I offered to make some cheese covered olives (we'll see if the recipe works, but I think something might be missing), some stuffed cherry tomatoes (scooped and draining as we speak), some potatoes O'Brien (homemade and in place of my usually fabulous but mayo laden potato salad -- probably not going to be an everyday substitution in that case because I love potato salad), and some sweet of some sort. I had one in mind, but I'm currently reading Michelle Maisto's The Gastronomy of Marriage: A Memoir of Food and Marriage and her walnut tarts sound out of this world!

This book is super fun if you're a foodie at all. I don't normally read a lot of non-fiction, much less memoirs, mainly because I have so much fiction on my plate to work around. After seeing Julie & Julia, however, and reading some of Julie Powell's blog posts, I have to admit that I really enjoy reading about other people's obsessions with food. Makes me feel like I'm in good company.

Michelle Maisto is a twenty-something living in NY (dangerously close to my own age and that's not all we have in common -- I'm seeing a link here between women in my own generation embracing food as a means of expression, comfort, and control that is missing in other areas of our lives, like work). At the time the book was written, Michelle had just gotten engaged to her long-time boyfriend and they'd decided to move in together. Planning the wedding while merging their homes, discovering new things you only learn in living with someone, and maneuvering about their kitchen -- deciding what is whose responsibility and when -- are things that every couple goes through, so I can relate to her story. In addition, Michelle is a total foodie, a pescetarian besides, with a love for fresh produce and trying new things. She describes their dinners and favorite dishes with a mouthwatering zeal that makes me want to immediately run to the farmers' market and buy everything I've yet to try myself. In truth, after the fabulous greens with pomegranate butter that I had a Jax last weekend, Michelle's fondness for them is amping me up to try and recreate the dish myself.

Did I mention that she comes from an Italian background and her fiancée a Chinese background? I've been craving noodles since I started this book last night!

Oh, and in case you're wondering, the book does have a handful of recipes included, and other dishes are described with so much depth that I'm sure anyone interested (me!) can make many of them at home themselves.

The Gastronomy of Marriage is not due out until September 8, so keep it on your radar if you're as obsessed with food as I am. Again, we'll all be in good company and I know I'm not the only one who can relate to a girl with a carb and cheesy tv habit!

Friday, August 28, 2009

A Totally Gothic Read

I just totally chucked this original post. On purpose, so no worries. I'm just kind of drawing a blank on where I want to go with this. Ok, the book part. The title I want to draw your attention to is Natasha Mostert's Windwalker, a fantastic philosophical gothic romance about soul mates. Here's more:

In an attempt to escape from the memory of her brother’s recent death, photographer Justine Callaway takes a job as the caretaker of the English manor called Paradine Park. She knows nothing of the house’s dark history but is immediately drawn to the neglected estate. Justine soon finds herself becoming obsessed with events that took place in the home nearly a decade ago. Parradine Park was once the not so happy home of the Buchanan family. One evening, eldest son Adam snapped and murdered his own brother. Adam was never seen again. Unable to deal with the loss of her favorite son, their mother committed suicide and Adam’s sister abandoned the home shortly thereafter. Justine is haunted by this tale and to learn as much as she can about Adam Buchanan and the event that tore his family apart. Thousands of miles away, in a town called Kepler’s Bay, Adam Buchanan has made a new life for himself. He lives in almost complete solitude and never forgets the crime that caused this punishment. He does dream, however. Adam has long believed that his soul mate awaits him somewhere, in this life or the next. By strange coincidence, he happens across a magazine carrying and article about Justine. From that moment forward, he knows that she is the one. Will these two fated lovers meet or will their own tragic pasts keep them forever apart?

I feel like a Cyberman tonight, "delete, delete, delete." I guess that's what happens when I blog tired.

I love Mostert's books. Love them, love them, love them! They kind of transcends general genre labels: each of her books delves into philosophy, mythology, science, romance, fantasy, and even some mystery. Windwalker falls into what I consider to be a modern gothic category. It's a very traditionally gothic tale in that it follows the style outlined in those classic Victorian-era stories, but of course it's a modern book -- modern gothic. It's a style that I am completely enamored with but I find many authors can't pull it off. Mostert does.

As a side note, the Junior Junkies, in case I haven't mentioned it before, are 15 and 16 (about to be 17). When Mostert's latest, Keeper of Light and Dust, was released, I decided to send them a copy, but I wasn't really sure how it would be received. Keeper is a bit of a vampire tale, but very non-traditional -- the almost-17-year-old loves anything and everything vampire but I was afraid she would be disappointed that it wasn't a vampire tale in the Dracula sense. And Mostert's books get a little deep. I totally underestimated my sister. I think I should be given some credit for sending her the book in the first place, but I was afraid she wouldn't like it as much as I did. She loved it!

I just sent her Windwalker and I this time I am totally certain that my she is going to lurve it as much as she did Keeper.

Mostert is one of those authors that I really, really want people to seek out and try. She's seriously deserving of much more attention than I think she gets. This is why I blog! Each book I feature here is a new gem that I want to share with fellow readers.

Agh, this is the sign that I need to hit the sack!

Anyway, if you can find this one (I don't think it's out of print, but I did use the UK cover here rather than the US one, so be aware), definitely snatch it up. And if anyone comes across a copy of The Other Side of Silence (an affordable copy, that is) let me know. It's the only one I'm missing and can't track down.

Night all.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Top Chef Time

Ok, I wasn't really going to comment on the season thus far seeing as how it's really hard to make an opinion when all you get are sound bites with this many contestants. Hell, last night we didn't even see all of the quickfire dishes.

But, I have to say this season has some strong contenders for Top Chef, and for most annoying chef! Don't get me wrong, I still think it's hard to get an accurate opinion of anyone on any type of show like this. You say one stupid thing and you're the focus of all of the clips. But when they start complaining about asinine things and heckling their competitors, or when they get hung up on one person and just bitch and moan about them, making it seem like there's some sort of behind-the-scenes vendetta going on, I can't help it.

Agh! Just cook! I have some I'm rooting for already, the brothers and Kevin being the main ones. We'll see how the season pans out, though.

And before you start saying I'm a hypocrite, I have typically rooted for the cocky ones in the past. There's one that falls in this category this season (so far) and he's one of the ones annoying me, so I'm breaking my streak. Jimmy Neutron -- I mean, Marcel, Hung, and Stefan were some of my favorites so far, but unless one of the three I listed above turns out to have a streak like these guys ...

Anyway, we'll see how it plays out.

In other TC news, I don't think I mentioned it here, but I finally ate at Jax! This is the restaurant where Hosea hangs his hat these days. The food was amazing. I mean it, simply amazing! I had a Farmers' Market salad with a citrus vinaigrette (I think it was lemon but I can't recall) and the bass with pomegranate brown butter sauce. Oh, so good! You could have taken away the fish and given me just a plate of greens and brussel sprouts (which I don't normally eat) with that sauce and I would still have been in heaven!

And if you're missing Fabio, you can watch him recreate one of last night's winning dishes here. I can listen to him all day!

Just to Show You

how bad the TBR can be (no I won't show you my pile), I thought I'd share the love today and tell you about some of the other reads added to my stack thanks to various blog posts at my favorite blog sites.

From Vixen's Daily Reads -- Vickie's rating system is great fun, I'd take her recs any day:
  • Jeanne Stein's Anna Strong series (I bought the first at LCC and sent it to my sisters, they've read the whole series and now I have to get them back so I can read them thanks to Vickie's stellar review of The Watcher)
  • Cherie Priest's Four and Twenty Blackbirds (I bought this one and then shifted it up the pile thanks to this review at Vixen's blog)
  • My boyfriend is currently reading the Jim Butcher books and Vickie's list of favorite quotes from book 3 is hilarious! I'm stealing them from my man when he's done.

From Jenn's Bookshelves -- Jenn seems to have the same eclectic reading taste I do:
  • John Gilstrap's No Mercy (featured in her Tuesday Teaser this week)
  • Brian Keene's Urban Gothic (I didn't even realize this one was out yet until I read her post)
  • Elizabeth Massie's Sineater (I must have come across this one at some point, but this is the first time I've seen it reviewed and it sounds amazing)

Other blogs I follow:
  • Tez Says -- she's always got news on upcoming paranormal/urban fantasy reads and writes fantastic reviews (she's not afraid to tell you she didn't like a book or why)
  • Chery's Book Nook - Cheryl is one of the queens of the blog tour. She's always hosting something different, someone different, and new books in just about every genre
  • Pure Imagination - Lori is a YA fiend. Anytime I want a teen read for my sisters (ok, for me) I know she's probably read it and reviewed it already and I can rely on her opinion

And these are just some of them. I follow others (one recently on hiatus due to computer malfunction) and various author run blogs. So you see why I waste hours online and then $$ at the bookstore?! There's no possible way I can ever read everything out there that interests me, but I'm damn sure going to try. And every one of these ladies seems to be in the same boat! They make for good virtual company.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

It's Lori's Fault

I love hearing that my blog has given someone more reading ideas. And I totally poach TBRs from fellow readers as well -- poach sounds so negative, doesn't it? But really, is there a better word for trolling book blogs and fellow Shelfari shelves for stuff to add to my "To Buy" list? I don't think so.

Note to self, look up synonyms for poach (not cooking).

Haha. Anywho, I started reading a few books this weekend in an attempt to clear some reviews off the TBR shelf. One of those books got moved up courtesy of Lori over at Lori's Reading Corner, who reminded me of a great new title I had sitting on my shelf: Rick Mofina's Vengeance Road. Lori's got it in her stack to read this week and I decided that it would be my next read as well.

This is, according to Mofina's site, the first in a new series and features Buffalo, NY reporter Jack Gannon. Next book in the series is due out next summer.

The book begins with the discovery of a young woman, murdered and dumped in a local park in Buffalo. Gannon hears the word go out on the police scanner and decides to check it out for a possible story. What he discovers leads him to a surprising story that eventually lands him in the unemployment line. Now Gannon must uncover the truth about the murder in order to save his own reputation. Meanwhile, Jack has also been approached by a worried mother whose own daughter has gone missing. Gannon soon discovers that the girl is linked to his murder victim, but the second girl has been missing without a trace and Jack doesn't even know yet if she's still alive.

This is my first time reading Mofina and I really enjoyed it. The book had a very quick pace made all that much more intense by chapters featuring the missing girl. I have to say I am really looking forward the next chapter of Gannon's story and in going back and reading Mofina's earlier works as well. Definitely a recommended edge-of-your-seat read!

If Mofina is already on your reading horizon, then you might also like Jason Pinter's Henry Parker series.

More Fun Online Stuff

Did you enter to win at Harlequin Teen yet? Play the memory game each day for a new chance.

And, Chelsea Cain's latest is about to hit shelves. I can't wait. I actually have to catch up because I just realized that I never read the second book. Agh! So I'll have to read them back to back.

If you've not read Cain, the books (in order) are:

Heart Sick
Evil at Heart

I had the pleasure of reading Heartsick when it was released, and I've got to tell you there's a reason there was so much hype behind this one. Here's my review from the BB archives:

Detective Archie Sheridan worked the Beauty Killer case for ten years. In the end, the case almost killed him. Archie was kidnapped and tortured for ten days before Gretchen Lowell, the face behind nearly two hundred murders, inexplicably turned herself in. Today, Archie barely hangs on through an addiction to pain-killers, sleeping pills, and anything else that will help to drown out the pain and the memories of what happened. Oddly enough, Archie is declared finally fit to return to work when his superiors decide to reinstate the Beauty Killer Task Force. A new killer has targeted the Portland area and three teenage girls have already been found dead by his hand. This chilling mystery is essentially a story in two parts. One is the current investigation and the race to discover the identity of the After School Strangler before more girls are killed. The second story is that of those horrendous ten days and their aftermath (the ten days of torture Archie experienced at Gretchen's hand). This creepy debut has drawn comparison to the likes of Thomas Harris and his Hannibal Lecter thrillers. I can certainly see why. Cain has harnessed Harris’s muse - let’s just hope she writes a bit faster than he does.

And the Bookbitch herself read and enjoyed it as well. You can read her review at the site for another positive review and POV (honestly, I've not read any bad reviews of this book).

So you can now see why I'm totally miffed that I somehow managed to miss reading Sweetheart and why I am gearing up for a Chelsea Cain marathon to make up for it! I've heard some say that they find her work too gory or violent, so reader be warned. I would liken her to Cody McFadyen, another thriller author whose work I enjoy. I will say this, though, Cain has not hit the Mo Hayder brutality point. So there's room yet! But as I've always argued in regards to authors I enjoy who are known for brutal, no-holds-barred scenes, if it fits it works for me. Cain's scenes fits in the flow of the book and while some may make me cringe, she never makes me feel as though it's there for shock factor alone. Any time an author accomplishes that, I have to sing their praises.

If you're caught up on your Cain, you're in for a real treat. Minotaur has an excerpt of Evil at Heart up and you can take a look at it here.

And here's the trailer for Evil at Heart, for your viewing pleasure:

Monday, August 24, 2009

Afternoon All!

Hope you had a great weekend. I got about half of the things I wanted to do done. I guess that's a pretty good percentage considering I always give myself too much to realistically tackle in any given amount of time anyway.

I did get some reading done this weekend. One of my reads was the upcoming teen release Intertwined by Gena Showalter. This is the second book in the new Harlequin Teen line. They've started some different contests in honor of the release as well, which you can check out here. Or you can the widget I posted here for your own site and a chance to win a prize pack.

Intertwined is the beginning of Aden's tale. Aden is a 16-year-old whose unique situation has left him branded a troubled teen. In truth, he shares his body with the souls of four other individuals, each with their own abilities: one can travel through time, catapulting Aden into younger versions of himself, sometimes with grave results. One can raise the dead, which leaves Aden stuck cleaning up zombie messes all too often. One can tell the future and has foreseen Aden's own demise. And the fourth soul can allow Aden to possess others. When Aden moves to Crossroads, OK, he meets a girl whose mere presence quiets the other souls. Mary Ann and Aden are linked, but neither of them knows just how yet, but the arrival of more strange beings in their little town will draw them together in a way that even Aden's "friends" could not foresee.

Intertwined is the first in a new teen series and Unraveled is set for release in September. There are vampires, werewolves, zombies, witches, fairies, demons, and anything and everything else in between, all holding a big get together in one tiny town with Aden as their prize to possess.

Showalter is probably best known for her adult paranormal romance titles, among which are the Lords of the Underworld and Atlantis series. But this is not Showalter's first teen outing. Her prior releases include two teen titles in her Alien Huntress series, Red Handed and Blacklisted, and a teen stand alone called Oh My Goth.

Another perfect addition to what promises to be a very strong teen line.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

New Releases 8/25/09

Some of the new titles hitting shelves this week are:

Retribution by Jeanne Stein -- Anna Strong book 5

Night's Cold Kiss by Tracy O'Hara

The Strangely Beautiful Tale of Miss Percy Parker by Leanna Renee Hieber

Dark Legacy by Anna DeStefano

The Darkest Whisper by Gena Showalter -- latest in the Lords of the Underworld series

Unbound by Kim Harrison, Melissa Marr, Jocelynn Drake, Vicki Pettersson, and Jeaniene Frost

206 Bones by Kathy Reichs -- latest Temperance Brennan mystery

Alex Cross's Trial by James Patterson

New on DVD:
Sunshine Cleaning
Life: Season 2

New reviews at Bookbitch.com:
The Strangely Beautiful Tale of Miss Percy Parker
Dark Legacy
Master of the Game by Sidney Sheldon

Friday, August 21, 2009

Intertwined Sweepstakes

Contest Winner

As you recall, I was giving away a two-pack with Christie Craig's latest hilarious romantic mystery, Gotcha! and Tracy Madison's funny paranormal romance, A Taste of Magic.

And we have a winner. By random number generator:

I Heart Book Gossip gets the two-pack

So congrats! And thanks to everyone else who entered.

I've contacted the winner directly and will be sending out her pack as soon as I get a response.

To the rest of you, never fear, I've got some more stuff to give away including a finished copy of Stieg Larsson's The Girl Who Played with Fire and Tilly Bagshawe's latest, Sidney Sheldon's Mistress of the Game.

Watch for one of these drawings to begin next week.

Creepy Extras!

Christopher Ransom and his publisher St. Martins Press have some great extras up to go along with his book, The Birthing House, including excerpts, a great trailer, and a blog where you can talk about your own creepy haunted house experiences.

I thought this book was really great: truly a creepy read and a great display of Ransom's talent as an author (and hard work!). If you missed my post on the book itself, here's the link.

And here are the rest of the links:

Chris's official site: http://www.ransomesque.com/
The Blog where you can add your own story

And here's the trailer -- Chris's inspiration for the book (his own scary story) -- for your viewing pleasure.

There's also a great interview with Chris where you can read all about his influences and various thoughts on the horror genre. Check it out here for more insight into what makes this author tick.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Contest Reminder

Remember to leave a comment here (follow the link) before midnight tonight (Thursday, August 20) to enter to win a copy of Tracy Madison's A Taste of Magic and Christie Craig's Gotcha!, two hilarious romantic reads. And don't forget to leave me your e-mail address.

The winner will be announced Friday morning.

Ummm, the Title of the Book Says it All

I'm tired. Again. Just realized the title of my last blog really made no sense. Funny how I go into a blog with an idea and it transforms into something completely different. But this time I wanted to tell you about Leanna Renee Hieber's new book, The Strangely Beautiful Tale of Miss Percy Parker and I didn't want to get distracted (seeing as how I'm getting thrown off easily these days--seems like my concentration level is kind of wacky, maybe I need some supplement or something).

So this is the book that I was determined to finish (and fighting off my exhaustion to do so) the other night. And it was so worth it! I only wish it were time for the second book to come out already so I could read the next chapter in the story : ) I loved it!

Percy Parker is a strange young woman. 18-years-old and raised as an orphan in a convent, she is finally sent out into the world to become a student at the Athens Academy. She's older than the rest, has an aptitude for languages, and looks strikingly similar to the ghosts that haunt the halls of the school. Headmistress Rebecca Thompson is surprised by her newest student, but it is Alexi Rychman, a professor at the school, who is most taken with her. Alexi and Rebecca are both members of The Guard, a group of six Londoners who were chosen at a young age to be the protectors of the city and fight against the Darkness. Prophecy has foretold that there will be a seventh and that her coming will be the start great things, good and bad. Alexi believes Percy may be the one, but another has come into The Guard's midst as well. And all of this as Jack the Ripper stalks the street of their city.

The Strangely Beautiful Tale of Miss Percy Parker is the first in a new series. It's very well written and has a very distinctive style reminiscent of Susanna Clarke's Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell, though will admittedly be more approachable for some readers than Clarke's fantabulously massive tome. It's a very multi-genred read with Victorian flair! A little bit mystery, a little bit mythology, a little bit romance, and a lot of paranormal.

I also feel compelled to mention the fact that the marketing material says it will have strong cross-over appeal for adults and teens and I certainly agree with this sentiment. Technically it's an adult read and it's certainly styled as such (and I mean it doesn't have a "young" feeling that some teen reads do for me), but I know the Junior Junkies are going to gobble it up as well and probably pass it around to their friends, too. And they're a pretty good test market in my book for teen appeal.

Official release date on this one is August 25, but I believe it's available now. Book two is due out next year.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Great Books=Great Day!

I am having a fantastic day so far. I'm really hoping nothing brings me down now ; )

I turned in the edits and picked up some new Bleak House titles while at the office -- can't wait to jump in.

Then I went shopping with my leftover Christmas gift certificates. I spent some time at my favorite Pearl Street shops (Savory Spice Shop, Olive You & Me, and Peppercorn). One hour later I had blood orange olive oil, rose water, SSS homemade mango hot sauce, and a brand spankin' new Le Crueset skillet. So I decided to treat myself even more and bought two cupcakes at Tee & Cakes. After all, Top Chef premieres tonight and I always want a little treat while watching. And since I won't be cooking this week, a cupcake seemed the way to go.

Course Mike wanted to split one right away and I have to say that it was heavenly. Boston Cream Pie cupcakes, yum!

I'm thinking it's time to unpack the cookbooks finally. I've been using my Jack Bishop, but for the most part, the others have been sitting in the boxes waiting patiently for me to start cooking in my new kitchen. One of them I brought out this morning was Mark Bittman's The Best Recipes in the World. I don't think this is one for beginners, but if you aren't totally new to the kitchen and like to try new foods from around the world, this is a really great book to do that with. (I wish it had some pictures, but the thing is completely massive already, so I guess I can live without.) And with a resource like the Savory Spice Shop just a short drive away, it makes it that much easier to get excited about this book. But, if you don't have one near you, rest assured you can get everything online through their online shop and have it shipped directly to your door! How great is that?

This Bittman book was one of my holiday requests a few years back. Every time I look at it, I find something completely new that inspires me in the kitchen. The recipes range from very simple to a little more involved, but I haven't found any that I would consider outright complicated.

One interesting thing when browsing the book is that it is divided by ingredient/dish and then each recipe lists the country of origin, but if you wanted to do, say, a Caribbean-style menu, the index then lists each recipe by region: so you flip to the Caribbean section of the index and you can plan your menu from there.

I know that there are certain cookbook staples in every kitchen, Bittman's own How to Cook Everything being one of them, but for me, this one is the better fit. And now I can go try out my new blue Crueset oven-proof skillet on a dish like the Spanish Tortilla! Fun!

So, Top Chef, new skillet, and old favorites from the cookbook section -- now I just have to stay conscious of the calories, too!

Tired but Determined to Finish Reading

It seems as though I'm getting really old. No, I don't just mean the number (which is old enough for me to start freaking, thanks) but I mean the physically exhausted, why can't I stay up until 3am reading and still be good to go at 8am old. Yeah, sucks when that happens. Sucks when it happens and it's still close enough to not happening that I can remember! I take sleeping pills to stay asleep, but trust me when I say I have no trouble crashing out at 9pm these days. And I've done it the past couple of nights, albeit while watching tv so it wasn't really REAL sleep.

Tonight, though, 25 pages from finishing my book (The Strangely Beautiful Tale of Miss Percy Parker by Leanna Renee Hieber), I remembered that I need to write more text for the upcoming Colorado book and test a recipe (I'm bringing it back to the designer tomorrow and I still hadn't finished this at 5 when I went to dinner). So cross-eyed tired (no I don't understand why, enlighten me if you do -- iron levels tested fine just 4 days ago) I'm making microwaved lemon curd and eating wasa crackers with fake cheese -- to keep me from eating the yummy, pie filling wonderfulness that is lemon custard. In spite of my fears to the contrary, the recipe worked. And Mike promptly stole the rest of the wasa crackers and started spreading the steaming, hot lemon curd over them, proclaiming that it was like a candy bar only with a cracker.

I'm still on the diet and resisted the burning (literally) temptation for now, but the container of curd is currently in the fridge beckoning. Probably the only thing keeping me from diving in is the fact that for once I actually want chocolate (I'm more likely to reach for a lemon bar in a sweet-tooth emergency than chocolate most days).

I did finish, though. I got my text done, I got my recipe tested. I forgot to add a tip about tempering the eggs, but I can do that with the next proof. Now I can sleep. Oops, no I can't. No way am I waiting until tomorrow to find out how this book ends!

I'll post an actual book post later, after I've had my sleep. Right now I want to finish reading it before I pass out. In the meantime, let me direct you over to Killer Fiction for Christie Craig's latest post (psst, I'm giving away a copy of her book here hit the link for details and enter to win if you haven't). Just to give you a little taste. And for a little peek at Percy Parker check out the official site here.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

More Free Stuff!

Let's do another giveaway, shall we?

It's gloomy and yuck out right now and I could use some cheering up and some fun. I wish I had a copy of the book I'm reading now to give away, but instead, I do have a copy of Tracy Madison's paranormal romance, A Taste of Magic, and a copy of Christie Craig's funny mystery/romance, Gotcha.

I was lucky enough to win autographed copies of both of these books from these fabulous authors, after I'd already read the books. So that means someone gets my original copies.

Let's do a two-pack here -- so 1 winner will get both books.

Leave me a comment (with your e-mail addy so I can contact you if you're the winner). Still budgeting so no POs and US only, please. Deadline end of day Thursday, August 20 and I'll announce the winner Friday morning.

Good luck!

Christopher Ransom Signing

Hey all! I'm feeling quite out of it this morning, so if anything weird pops up here, please excuse it.

Last night I dragged Mike along to the Christopher Ransom signing at the Boulder Bookstore. It was quite an event, I must say.

Ransom, whose first novel debuted here in the states just a few weeks ago (read more about The Birthing House here or at Chris's official site) made his first bookstore appearance here in Boulder. He grew up here so the place was packed with friends, family, and fans of the book. Even Colorado's own Dan Simmons turned out to support Ransom. It was freaking cool!

Ransom talked about the inspiration for the novel (his own 140+ year-old birthing house in Wisconsin), his writing process, some of his own hair-raising experiences related to his house (strange coincidences or inspiration from the other side, who knows?) and some tidbits about his upcoming book as well as a project that he holds close to his heart and plans on rolling out later (a coming-of-age tale set in Boulder itself).

Overall it was a great talk: insightful and interesting, and we can all forgive him his first-time jitters!

And at the end of the night, it looked as though BBS sold out of their copies of The Birthing House. So congrats, Chris, on your first fabulous signing! Here's to many, many more!

Ransom's first novel, for those of you who didn't hit the links or haven't read it yourself, is a chilling horror tale (somewhat psychological -- which was very intended on Ransom's part) that takes place in a haunted birthing house. It's a great debut and a fantastically terrifying read. I highly recommend snatching it up while you can.

The book was released earlier this year in the UK and overseas, so if you happen to be reading from those parts, you should be able to find a copy as well.

Happy reading! You'll want to keep the lights on through this one!

Oh, and if you missed Chris but are in the Denver area this evening, he will be signing at the Highlands Ranch Tattered Cover @ 7:30 tonight (Aug 18).

Monday, August 17, 2009

At the Top of My Queue

I love online DVD rentals. I seriously do. I think it's the greatest invention known to man. In a day when you can walk into a physical movie rental shop and only find a gazillion checked out copies of the latest blockbuster movie releases to choose from, having foreign films and indies and otherwise unknowns at my fingertips without having to shell out $20+ to buy them is heaven.

Because that's just what I used to do. I had a membership card to a rental place that was between work and home. It was kind of a sweet deal, for a set price each month I could rent three movies at a time. No late fees. As soon as I returned one, I could get another. As soon as I returned three, I could get three more. And this place had a pretty great selection, in all honesty. But every so often I would really really desperately want to so some obscure foreign film and have to buy it or forget about it. I got some great ones this way, but I also got some clunkers.

This was back before I moved in 2005. Lo and behold, their location was not as convenient when I moved where I did, but we tried to rent anyway. I was told my membership deal only worked at the location I signed up at -- and, insult to injury, unless I cancelled it, I would continue to be charged for it even though I couldn't use it anymore. Yeah. I cancelled and never looked back. And signed up for online rentals.

So now, I get to watch movies galore and not buy them without test driving them first (but I still buy quite a few, too). Which is fabulous when it comes to things like what is currently holding top spot in my queue.

The fabulous Jonathan Maberry posted a link to a 9 minute trailer of a show that AMC will be doing this fall. The trailer was aired at Comic Con (oh, one day) but thanks to the internet is out there for all to see now. The show is The Prisoner and AMC is to air the mini-series this November. And I think it looks super cool! Here's a link to the official AMC site.

Anywho, I obviously was not around in the 60s to see the original British show -- I'm not even sure if it aired stateside considering my folks were on the young end of the tv viewing spectrum in those days as well. Mom most definitely does not remember it.

But, it's available to rent online in full! Yay. And I've got my hot little hands on disc 1 as we speak. Who knows, it may be a grave disappointment for this gen-y-er (sad but true, it does happen) or it could be in the realm of Logan's Run and Omega Man for me -- two older films that I think are fabulous. Older films I was introduced to because the 'rents are almost as big on movies as I am.

So, until I get to see Jim Caviezel as Number Six in November (remember to check it out), I'll be spending some quality hours with Patrick McGoohan and really hoping that this show is a great one (cause there's 10 discs in all).

Sunday, August 16, 2009

New Releases 8/18/09

Some of the new titles hitting shelves this week are:

Blood Atonement by Dan Waddell - sequel to Blood Detective

The White Queen by Philippa Gregory - a tale of the War of the Roses (on my Must Buy list)

Vanished by Joseph Finder

Princess of Landover by Terry Brooks - Magic Kingdom of Landover #6

The Law of Nines by Terry Goodkind - also on my Must Buy list, a thriller from the author of the bestselling Sword of Truth series

New on DVD:
The Last House on the Left

New reviews at Bookbitch.com:
The Embers by Hyatt Bass
The Rapture by Liz Jensen
When a Man Loves a Weapon by Toni McGee Causey
Dark Time:Mortal Path Book One by Dakota Banks

Friday, August 14, 2009

Throwback to the 80s

I received an e-mail this week regarding Tilly Bagshawe's latest, Mistress of the Game. PW described the book, in it's starred review, as "Gossip Girl meets Dynasty." I don't watch Gossip Girl and was much too young for Dynasty, but I have to admit that I was thoroughly intrigued. And even more so when I found out that Bagshawe was chosen to continue a tale begun by Sidney Sheldon.

Sheldon, creator of The Patty Duke Show and I Dream of Jeannie didn't begin writing novels until he was in his 50s -- and his books were hot. I mean really hot. His first, The Naked Face, was nominated for an Edgar for Best First Novel and his second book, The Other Side of Midnight, was just the first of what would be many NYT bestsellers. Master of the Game debuted at #1 if Wikipedia is to be trusted (I was 2 at the time so I wouldn't know first hand).

I've never read Sheldon. I do remember that many of his books were reprinted while I was still working at the bookstore. I also recall hearing about his death in 2007. And I know he was wildly popular because even years after his books debuted, customers were still raving to me about how they could never get enough.

So I thought if I could track down a copy of Master of the Game, that I would definitely be interested in giving it and Bagshawe's release a shot. Two days later, in possession of some coupons and gift certificates for one chain store, I found myself 15 minutes early for lunch with a friend, and right next to the other chain. Seriously, I kicked myself for not waiting, but it was totally spur of the moment meets fate. And it's not like I wouldn't find something else to use the coupons and gift certificates on (and I did later that weekend).

I thought I'd struck out and was lowering myself to asking at customer service when there it was. Right in front of me on a display (and shame on them for not following the rule of keeping at least one copy in the section for folks actually looking for the book).

I didn't have a chance to start the book until Wed, though, when I took it to the gym -- and found myself staying for over an hour and a half while I read the first 110 pages! It was addictive reading and I just wrapped it up (I read the rest of it today, again mostly at the gym).

Master of the Game begins with Kate Blackwell's 90th birthday. As she looks back on the history of her family, from the late 1800s to 1982, the reader follows along on a sordid tale of determination, revenge, greed, and obsessive love. From the diamond fields of South Africa to the heart of New York City, the family rises to heights most people only dream of.

But where does the saga go next? I will see very shortly. I have to tell you, this book was so completely gripping that I put it down and immediately snatched up Mistress. I'll keep you all posted, but if you're at all like me, you'll want to run out and grab Master so you can see what all the fuss is about.

Readers, it's time for a new generation to see what Sidney Sheldon is made of!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Top Chef Fans Get Ready!

It's almost that time again: time for a new season of Top Chef, that is! Weed, August 19, season six begins in Sin City!

I am so excited. I love Top Chef, and there are some new and upcoming cookbooks that all Top Chef fans need to add to their collections.

First up, last season's Fabio has put out his own cookbook Cafe Firenze Cookbook hit shelves earlier this month. This is the first I've seen of it, so here's some info from Amazon:

Cafe Firenze Cookbook celebrates the best of Italian cuisine, coupling gourmet recipes by Top Chef Season 5 fan favorite Fabio Viviani with martini recipes by award-winning mixologist Jacopo Falleni. Viviani's recipes--the same that made him a top contender in the most popular cooking show currently on television--are healthy, easy to prepare, and incredibly tasty, and each one is paired with one of Falleni's fabulous and completely original drink recipes. Each chapter covers a different type of recipe (appetizers, pasta, fish, meat, and desserts), and each begins with Viviani's personal background with each type of food and contains anecdotes, history, garnish instructions, and tips for buying ingredients.

Friends since the age of twelve in Florence, Italy, Viviani and Falleni are business partners in their popular Ventura county restaurant, Cafe Firenze Restaurant and Martini Bar, which brings Tuscan dishes and Florentine flair to Southern California. This incredible book of their authentic recipes from their home country will delight all Fabio Viviani's followers and fans, as well as anyone interested in Italian cuisine. Includes beautiful four-color photography by Antonio Busiello, whose work has appeared everywhere from National Geographicto Animal Planet, and a foreword by William Shatner, one of Viviani's biggest fans.

There's also a new Top Chef cookbook coming next month. It's the Top Chef: The Quickfire Cookbook and features quickfire recipes from the first 5 seasons. Here's the info from Chronicle Books:

Top Chef: The Quickfire Cookbook -- The much-anticipated follow-up to the New York Times best-selling Top Chef: The Cookbook is here! Drawing from all 5 seasons of the show, Top Chef: The Quickfire Cookbook features 75 of the best recipes—from Spike's Pizza alla Greek to Stephanie's Bittersweet Chocolate Cake—culled from the Top Chef Quickfire Challenges. Everything the home chef needs to assemble an impressive meal and channel the energy of the Quickfire kitchen is collected here, including advice on hosting a Quickfire Cocktail Party and staging Quickfire Challenges at home. Best of all, this book is spilling over with sidebar material, including tips for home chefs, interviews with contestants, fabulous photos, and fun trivia related to the chefs, dishes, and ingredients that make Top Chef a favorite.

For more Top Chef fun, check out the official Bravo site for season 6. And, as an added bonus, Carla Hall (also from last season) shares some clean eating favorites with Clean Eating magazine (Sept/Oct ed).

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

An Excellent Read

Hey there, everyone! So in Sunday's post I mistakenly wrote that Liz Jensen's "debut" The Rapture would be hitting shelves this week. It is coming out (today, actually), but it's not her debut. My mistake. She actually has quite a few books out, but I'd never come across her until now.

I read most of The Rapture today and was taken for a serious roller coaster ride. First off, it's one of those books that bridges a few genres: it's part psychological suspense, part thriller, part eco-thriller in a way, and ends on a totally apocalyptic note (love it!).

The story begins with Gabrielle Fox, an art therapist who's survived a terrible car accident that we eventually learn has left her paralyzed and has taken the life of her lover. Gabrielle has suffered emotionally as well as physically and many of her superiors do not feel that she should have returned to work as soon as she did. To make an easier transition, she takes a temporary post at an asylum for adolescents. Here she meets Bethany Krall, a 16-year-old who stabbed her mother to death. Bethany's course of treatment involves electrotherapy, which brings about another symptom in Bethany's illness: delusions she believes are predictions of disasters around the world. But Gabrielle is shocked to find that Bethany's predictions are quite accurate. But who can Gabrielle trust with her discovery and how can she prepare for what is to come?

This is a dark read with a very well thought out plot. It's also a smart and timely thriller that I think will appeal to a large group of readers: I see fans of literary as well as popular thrillers both enjoying this one (and especially readers who like a mix of both already). I think it's going to be a quiet one that definitely deserves a lot of attention.

Ok. Sorry this was such a late. I'm beat and heading to bed! Hope this post still makes sense to me in the morning. Seriously, though, check out The Rapture, you won't regret it -- but it will keep you up at night!

Sunday, August 9, 2009

New Releases 8/11/09

Some of the new titles hitting shelves this week include:

The Magicians by Lev Grossman -- I totally loved Codex, so I'm really looking forward to this new one

Blindman's Bluff by Faye Kellerman -- latest in the Decker/Lazarus series

The Rapture by Liz Jensen -- a debut thriller that's I'm starting as we speak

Eternal Prison by Jeff Somers -- latest in the Avery Cates series

Bento Love by Kentaro Kobayashi -- new addition to the Easy Japanese Cooking series

New on DVD:
I Love You, Man
17 Again

New reviews at Bookbitch.com:
Bento Love
The Birthing House by Christopher Ransom
Prime Time by Hank Phillippi Ryan
My Soul to Take by Rachel Vincent

Friday, August 7, 2009

Doin' Louisiana Proud

I have a very obvious proud sentiment with just about anything positive regarding my home state, and I make no bones about supporting folks who give us a good name.

Toni McGee Causey is one of those folks and I am happy to say that she and her heroine, Bobbie Faye, have not let me down! The third installment to the series hit shelves on August 1 and I think it may just be the best one yet. Pretty hard to do since I think the previous two were freaking fantabulous!

This time it's a little harder and a little darker than the others, and this time Bobbie Faye may just be in some not so funny, majorly serious trouble.

Sean MacGregor, an Irish baddie who appeared in Girls Just Wanna Have Guns (aka Bobbie Faye's (Kinda, Sorta, Not Exactly) Family Jewels), which you may remember from this post, is back and hell bent on revenge against Bobbie Faye and her FBI agent fiance, Trevor Cormier. Add to that one heartbroken bomb expert also determined to have his revenge and you've got a recipe that means disaster for Bobbie Faye, one that's not at all her fault this time -- well, maybe just a little.

Bobbie Faye's not entirely over the events that led to her first encounters with the Irish mafia, in spite of the new engagement ring on her finger and the fixer-upper she and Trevor have recently purchased. When Trevor is sent out on an op that's supposed to take two, three days tops, and doesn't return for seven, the Contraband Queen is beside herself with worry. And the one person she can trust to help her just happens to be her ex, Cam Moreau, a cop who's determined to win her back at any cost. Just when Bobbie Faye thought things couldn't get any worse, she finds herself enmeshed in a plot that could mean the end for the people she cares about the most.

When a Man Loves a Weapon shows that Causey is at the top of her game. I think it's pretty obvious that she's one of my newer faves and I think you're all gonna love her. The first two titles are definitely in the Janet E. realm of funny meets mystery. This one, however, tips into more romantic suspense territory (but still with some Bobbie Faye humor -- CeCe provides much of the levity in this one and her chicken foot juju made me chuckle even at the most action-packed part of the book).

If you haven't started this series yet, here's a link to my post on Causey's debut, Charmed and Dangerous (Bobbie Faye's Very (very, very, very) Bad Day. The best kind of book therapy a girl can ask for is the kind of therapy offered up by treating yourself to a Bobbie Faye reading day. God forbid you have an actual Bobbie Faye day!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Bento Love!

I am a huge foodie -- as evidenced by my ping-ponging mental state during this diet and my fluctuating metabolism thanks to the move to an office job. Man I really wish I'd taken advantage of having a high metabolism in high school!

I also like to play around in the kitchen. Sure there are some days when I would rather not mess with it. When I would rather have someone else have to clean up the mess and not have to worry about what I'm going to cook and when it's going to be ready or if it's even going to end up edible. But I totally jump for joy when I get a new cookbook or a new cooking mag!

Last month, I got a copy of the new addition to Kentaro Kobayashi's Easy Japanese Cooking series, Noodle Love. And this month I'm drooling over Bento Love.

For those of you who don't know, bento is just a boxed lunch, usually Japanese. They're pretty (people compete to build the most aesthetically pleasing bento layouts!), they're somewhat healthy, and they're pretty much grown up lunch boxes. Grown up for us, that is. For the people who have been preparing them and eating them for years, they're just lunch.

Now that I'm working from home, it's a little easier to control what I'm eating for lunch, but when I was working at an office, I would typically go out and buy lunch every day -- and it cost me at least $10. That's $50 for lunch every week! It's insane. Yes, there are cheaper options (McD's and Wendy's), typically unhealthy fried, yummy food (ah, Taco Bell, I miss you). And you could always bring your lunch, but the same old sandwich starts to lose its appeal for this girl -- I crave variety -- and frozen "healthy" dishes are sneered at by my gaping hole of a stomach. So of course Bento Love is right up my alley! It's everything you need -- rice, an entree, veggies, and (my favorite) condiments, all in one encompassed and easy to carry container.

The recipes in Bento Love are easy to follow and feature small portions, just the right size for your lunch. There are stir-frys (Beef and Green Pepper Stir Fry, Cashew Chicken Stir Fry), traditional dishes (I've seen the Three-Color Bento before), and some atypical bento recipes like Fish and Chips and the Cheeseburger Bento. There's also a section on side dishes -- because there are pictures of each recipe in the prepared bento boxes (very drool-worthy) -- and info on some of the ingredients you see throughout the book with some substitutions suggested as well (using sherry in place of mirin, for example).

So, get out your rice cooker and give yourself a little extra time in the morning to treat yourself to a really tasty lunch with the help of Kentaro Kobayashi, a man who takes his bento seriously! (Bentos are meant to be eaten just a few hours after they are prepared, but I'm sure if you don't have a bento lunchbox -- I've seen them at Asian stores -- that you shouldn't have a problem storing these in the fridge and reheating in the microwave.)

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Wizards, Magic, and Things That Go Bump in the Night

I feel like Jim Butcher is the male counterpart to Kim Harrison -- or maybe it's the other way around, technically, since Butcher's Dresden books started before the Hollows.

Either way, Butcher's Dresden is wizard to Rachel Morgan's witch. Wouldn't it be cool if they got together in a book?

I've had Storm Front for quite some time now, and actually reviewed it for the BB site back when I first began doing reviews. For me, because I was already hooked on Harrison, it was a little harder to get into Dresden's stories. But, it's my own loss.

I handed Mike Storm Front just before our move when I came across it while packing. He'd just finished reading a recent horror purchase of mine (much to my surprise), A. Lee Martinez's Monster, and Lincoln Child's Terminal Freeze. So I figured he might be up for Butcher (I'd tried before and he'd passed for one reason or another). Lo and behold, he later tricked me into buying the next two books in the series for him! (I guess that means that they're technically mine, right?) And now we're working our way through the tv show on dvd (he prefers the book Dresden to the tv Dresden -- says he's more of a badass on the page than the scree, though he also says Harry gets laid more in the show!).

Anywho, Butcher's been going strong for almost 10 years now and currently has 11 titles in the series (number 12 is due out next year). He's also the author of the Codex Alera series and has a new title due out in November.

Here's some info about Storm Front:

Harry Dresden is a wizard: he doesn't do children's parties or love potions, but he is pretty good with finding lost things, especially people. He also occasionally helps out the local police with any suspicious and possibly supernatural crimes. When the bodies of Jennifer Stanton and Tommy Tomm -- an upscale call-girl and a bodyguard for notorious mobster Johnny Marcone -- are discovered dead, their hearts having exploded out of their chests, the Chicago PD has no choice but to call in Dresden. Harry's involvement in the case becomes more than a consultation when a demon comes knocking on his door. Soon, the White Council, the governing body of over all wizards, is after him as well. See, Harry may well be the only wizard capable of such murders. With more bodies piling up, and more evidence pointing in his direction, Harry must discover the true killer, or die trying.

Butcher's plot is fast-paced and Harry is a witty character. Readers who enjoy a paranormal twist on the traditional PI novel will love the Dresden books. (As a side note, I miss the old covers like the one above. I thought they were very catchy and much less Sci-Fi channel than the new ones. Although, I think I would like the new ones if I had never seen the old ones in the first place.)

Butcher's wife, Shannon, is also an author. You can check out more about here at her website here.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Witches, Magic, and Things That Go Bump in the Night

I'm not sure who coined the term "urban fantasy" or what the first book categorized in the sub-genre actually was. (I've heard that it's Neil Gaiman's Neverwhere, but don't have anything except Wikipedia to back it up -- I suspect there are older books that fall into the category, however.)

Anyway, in '04 I received a book that I think I really considered my first read in the genre, Kim Harrison's Dead Witch Walking.

I was blown away by Harrison's debut. It was utterly fabulous and I told all of my fellow coworkers and customers about it. I'm not exaggerating here -- I kept copies of it behind the counter at the register so I could spring it on people when I was working cashwrap.

In the book, Rachel Morgan, a bounty hunter with a supernatural agency the equivalent of the FBI, quits her job to open her own agency. Fortunately, she's not alone. She takes their best vamp agent with her and together with a pixie, they open their own doors as a sort-of paranormal PI firm. Unfortunately for Rachel, others are not so pleased with her newfound solo gig and a contract is put out on her name.

Now, Harrison's book takes place in the near future after a virus spread by genetically altered tomatoes has infected and killed off enough of the human population that the "others" out there come out of the closet. Imagine a world where you're afraid to eat ketchup and pizza (hell) and this is it. In fact, the biggest vamp in town owns a pizza parlor that is not too frequented by humans.

It's fun, it's catchy, and it's an infectiously addicting read. It was my gateway into the urban fantasy genre. Harrison set the bar for me.

As many books as there are with similar plots in the reading world, not limited to urban fantasy here, I think there's a reader for just about every one. I am a Harrison reader and since it was totally original for me at the time, Dead Witch Walking set the standard for me when reading anything remotely similar -- they have to stand out like this one did.

So far, there are seven titles in the Hollows series, and each one has a title that's a play on a Clint Eastwood film. Each new book has been just as fantastic as the last and each one gets you more and more wrapped up in the characters' stories.

Harrison has recently launched her young adult series with the brand-spanking-new, Once Dead, Twice Shy, featuring Madison Avery, a character from a story she contributed to the teen collection Prom Nights From Hell.

And Harrison has also contributed to some adult anthologies, the latest of which is the upcoming Unbound, which also includes tales from other urban fantasy mavens Vicki Pettersson, Melissa Marr, Jeaniene Frost, and Jocelynn Drake

Monday, August 3, 2009

Contest Winner

Ok! By random number generator, GrumpyDan is the winner of the MJ Rose book set. I've e-mailed Dan for his address and will send the titles out as soon as I've received it.

Thanks for reading everyone and I'll hold another contest, probably around the end of the month (I do have a stack of stuff to giveaway, so keep watching for details).

Thanks again!


Sunday, August 2, 2009

New Releases 8/04

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

The Birthing House by Christopher Ransom -- debut horror

When a Man Loves a Weapon by Toni McGee Causey -- third in the Bobbie Faye series (on my bedside table as we speak, cause everybody needs some Bobbie Faye therapy when stressed out)

Speed Shrinking by Susan Shapiro -- a neurotic, therapy obsessed, self-help author goes on an eating binge just before her book about conquering food addiction is released

Second Sight by George D. Shuman -- latest in the Sherry Moore series

The Calligrapher's Daughter by Eugenia Kim -- also on my bedside table thanks to the fabulous reviews it's been earning.

Rules of Vengeance by Christopher Reich -- follow-up to Rules of Deception

The Siege by Stephen White -- a Boulder, Colorado thriller (they eat him alive out here!)

New on DVD:
Flight of the Conchords, Season 2
The Soloist

Been doing house stuff all week and was late with my reviews (sorry). So, new reviews at BB next week.

Until then, don't forget to leave a comment here (link to post) to enter to win copies of MJ Rose's two Reincarnationist books. Deadline for submitting your name is tonight (details at the post).

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Contest Reminder

And again, don't forget to leave a comment on this post with your e-mail address included, to get your name in to win a set of MJ Rose's Reincarnationist books (The Reincarnationist and The Memorist). Deadline is end of day tomorrow (Sunday).

Good Luck!

Teen Must Read!

If you've been reading here long, then you know that I'm a big, big fan of Rachel Vincent's Shifters (werecats) series. I lurve it! Seriously lurve it! It's up there on my favorite new series list with some really stand out urban fantasy.

Well, Harlequin, Vincent's publisher, has launched a brand-spanking-new teen line chose Vincent to be the very first release! Super cool, right? And it rocks!

My Soul to Take is the first in Vincent's new Soul Screamers series, featuring teen bean sidhe (banshee) Kaylee Cavanaugh. (The link for Harlequin Teen will take you to an excerpt and free e-book prequel.)

Kaylee doesn't know why she gets the terrible urge to scream when she senses death. Heck, she doesn't know why she senses death. But, she's about to find out that she's one of a small group of very special people. The bean sidhe's sing for the dead and help a soul to cross over to the other side. And when Kaylee discovers that there are young girls in her town dying from no apparent cause, she and her friends will be the only ones who can do anything to stop it.

I love that yet again Vincent has found something that hasn't been done in the genre. I was literally chomping at the bit to get my hands on this book, and it was so worth it. And it's a perfect way to launch the new line!

Gena Showalter's Intertwined is next (end of Aug) and PC Cast's Elphame's Choice follows at the end of September.

My Soul to Take is great for teens and adults alike. I think fans of the Shifters books will really enjoy this teen read, and a new crop of Rachel Vincent fans are going to be inspired to run out and snatch up the adult reads while waiting for My Soul to Save (the second Soul Screamers book) to come out in January.