Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Something Fun for Summer

I was lucky enough to get an advance copy of Karen Bergreen's debut, Following Polly. As I dove in, though, I wasn't really sure where it was going. I also wasn't sure if it was going to be quite my cup of tea. Fortunately, though, Bergreen came through! Following Polly is a quirky and fun mystery with a very atypical heroine.

In the beginning, Alice Teakle works for a highly successful casting agent in New York. It wasn't a career that Alice chose for herself, but it was steady work and she was pretty good at it. All of that changed when, in a moment of conscience, Alice revealed a little too much information to an actress and was overheard by her wretched boss. Jobless and faced with starting over, Alice isn't even sure what she wants to do. When she runs into an old classmate, though, she becomes obsessed with the woman. Polly Dawson, entrepreneur and wife to famous director Humphrey Dawson, has led a charmed life. And she's done it by being an uber bitch to those around her. At first, it's just kind of a lark. But then Alice finds herself spending her entire days following Polly. When Polly is murdered, though, Alice is the prime suspect. Unable to return home or turn to her friends, Alice goes on the run, eventually tracking down a longtime crush who might just be able to offer some assistance in clearing her name.

By the time Alice goes on the run, I was kind of obsessed. At first, when Alice is following Polly, you don't really know much about her, and that's kind of the point. I think throughout the story, Alice actually learns more about herself and the reader is treated to that as it happens. So by the time Polly is murdered, Alice is just starting to figure things out and that really engaged me as a reader. Even her own perceptions of herself compared to what other characters were saying was different. Alice sees herself as forgettable. Her friends see her in a very different light. But this unassuming attitude is what allows Alice to follow people in the first place. Bergreen's mystery is also well-plotted. I had no clue who the killer was until the very end, as Alice is discovering the killer's identity herself.

Following Polly is out on shelves now and makes for an entertainingly smart, light mystery.

Monday, June 28, 2010

A New Release You Must Read!

In January, Allison Brennan debuted her new Seven Deadly Sins series with the release of Original Sin (pre pub post here). Readers were introduced to an amazing cast of characters each with their own reasons for being involved in the coming battle with evil. (Psst, the series really started with a novella in the 2008 release, What You Can't See.)

Moira, the daughter of a powerful witch, left the coven and came under the protection of a secret brotherhood of priests determined to defeat those like Moira's mother.

Rafe, kidnapped by the coven, has little memory of the events that led to his being saved by Moira. As the memories begins to resurface, though, it becomes clear that his knowledge is something the coven wants.

Anthony is bound by vow to fight against evil. His fear is that Moira cannot possibly have given up her old ways, especially after the death of this brother. The tension between Anthony and Moira makes for a great backstory and possibly some hint as to what will come.

Skye McPherson, sheriff of Santa Louisa, where it all begins, has never been one to believe in the supernatural, but her relationship with Anthony has thrown her headfirst into a world she never could have believed existed.

All of them will have to fight each of the demons released by Moira's mother and her coven. In Original Sin, it is the Demon Envy that plagues Santa Louisa. Now, in Carnal Sin, the Demon Lust has found its way to Los Angeles. A series of unconnected crimes is suddenly linked when a worker at the coroner's office finds similar markings she believes might be tattoos on three of the recent arrivals. She answers a call put out by McPherson that brings Skye, Rafe, and Moira to the City of Angels. Local officials are none to pleased to be offered "help" on their case and immediately begin to butt heads with Skye. As civilians, Rafe and Moira have a little more leeway to investigate, until they get noticed by the demon itself. Now they must prepare for a new battle and try to figure out how to stop another of the Seven before it's too late.

I love this series! Allison Brennan combines mystery, urban fantasy, and romance in just the right amounts to create page-turning thrillers with a fascinating interwoven mythology built on magical lore. I really can't wait to see what happens as each of the demons is revealed. Urban fantasy, paranormal romance, and thriller fans alike can all dive in and enjoy.

You don't have to have read the prelude novella, but you do need to read the books in order (Original Sin then Carnal Sin). As an added bonus, there is also a short story available on Brennan's website (link above).

Sunday, June 27, 2010

New Releases 6/29/10

Some of the new titles hitting shelves this week are:

Tracking the Tempest by Nicole Peeler

Panic Zone by Rick Mofina

Mozart's Blood by Louise Marley

Shadow Bound by Erin Kellison

Almost Perfect by Susan Mallery

Swords and Dark Magic: The New Sword and Sorcery by Jonathan Strahan and Lou Anders

Running Dark by Jamie Freveletti

The Crowded Shadows by Celine Kiernan

Pray for Dawn by Jocelynn Drake -- Dark Days book 4

The Secret Lives of Baba Segi's Wives by Lola Shoneyin

Tatiana and Alexander by Paulina Simons

Ice Cold by Tess Gerritsen

Keys to the Repository by Melissa de la Cruz -- Blue Bloods series

Night Myst by Yasmine Galenorn

Tutankhamun: The Book of Shadows by Nick Drake

New on DVD:
Percy Jackson & The Olympians: The Lightning Thief
Hot Tub Time Machine
The Crazies

New reviews at Bookbitch.com:
Carnal Sin by Allison Brennan
Following Polly by Karen Bergreen

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Pre Pub Book Buzz -- Still Missing by Chevy Stevens

There are a handful of thrillers hitting shelves this summer that have been garnering buzz and attention for quite some time now. Still Missing by Chevy Stevens is one of them. Lisa Gardner blurbed it, PW gave it a starred review, everyone who's read it so far seems to love it.

Here's some info from the publisher:

A missing young woman, a frightening abductor, a sealed-up remote cabin, and an honest, frank voice trying to sort out a situation that would destroy anyone: Chevy Stevens' STILL MISSING is a page turner in the truest sense of the word. STILL MISSING is that rare debut find-a shocking, visceral, brutal and beautifully crafted novel.

On the day she was abducted, Annie O'Sullivan, a thirty-two year old realtor, had three goals-sell a house, forget about a recent argument with her mother, and be on time for dinner with her ever-patient boyfriend. The open house she hosts is slow, but when her last visitor pulls up in a van as she's about to leave, Annie thinks it just might be her lucky day after all. She couldn't be further from the truth.

Interwoven with the story of the year Annie spent as the captive of psychopath in a remote mountain cabin, which unfolds through sessions with her psychiatrist, is a second narrative recounting events following her escape. This includes her struggle to piece her shattered life back together as well as the ongoing police investigation into the identity of her captor. Through this, Annie and the reader, discover that the truth doesn't always set you free.

This is Stevens's debut and from what I'm hearing is set to make her one of the biggest new names in the thriller genre. Still Missing hits shelves on 7/6. I have this in my review stack for the coming week and will keep you guys posted on my thoughts.

Friday, June 25, 2010

And Some Short Story Collections From the Archives

I have reviewed some fantastic short story collections since starting the blog and I thought I'd recap some of them here in case you were actually interested in looking for some of these for your summer reading.

Back in the beginning of the blog, I posted an entry about a thriller collection called Like a Charm edited by Karin Slaughter (you can see it here). This was probably one of the first collections by multiple authors that I truly fell in love with. Each story was loosely tied together by a charm bracelet. I loved the running theme and I loved the selection of authors inside, many of whom were completely new to me. This is one collection that will have you looking over your shoulder and checking the door locks! This is a fantastic one for you mystery and thriller fans.

Another great collection for mystery fans is Laura Lippman's Hardly Knew Her. This collection is broken into themed chapters and really show off Lippman's talent. If you've not read her, this would be a fantastic place to start. Lippman is known for her amazing stand-alones and her acclaimed Tess Monaghan PI series. You can read that post here.

For horror fans, Joe Hill's award winning collection 20th Century Ghosts is truly amazing. And it's really not all horror. Some of the stories are whimsical, some of them are downright chilling. All of them are amazing and show the depth of range of this author. I highly, highly recommend it. You can see my 20th Century Ghosts post here.

The New Dead edited by Christopher Golden is fantastic if you're a fan of zombie stories. Each author in the collection puts their own spin into this anthology of walking dead. I love it! You can read that post here.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Some Short Story Collections In My TBR

If I've planned this right, then this is Thursday. I'm heading off to see the family and show off the new ring. Fun stuff! This means I've also spent much of last night (Wednesday night) agonizing over what to pack for my vacation. I'm horrible at narrowing down travel reads. Part of my plan for this trip was to bring some things I could leave behind (books my sisters would want to read). Not sure yet how that worked out. I'll keep you posted.

I recently bought two short story collections myself and since I prefer to review here rather than to post about books I haven't read, this presented a bit of a conundrum in my themed short story reading recommendations week. But then I decided as a glimpse into my own expanding TBR stack, that would be ok.

The first is Neil Gaiman's Fragile Things: Short Fiction and Wonders. Gaiman, author of Stardust, Coraline, and Neverwhere (to name a few) is fantastic. He's dark fantasy, he's horror, he's just great fiction actually. Originally released in 2006, Fragile Things is a collection of tales and poems, many of which have been published elsewhere previously, brought together in one collection.

The other is John Connolly's Nocturnes. Published in 2004 by Hodder and Stoughton (and 2006 by Atria), the collection features a combination of original (not published in the US before) and older pieces as well as a Charlie Parker novella. They're darker thriller and horror stories that I can't wait to dive into. I recently rented The New Daughter, a horror flick with Kevin Costner and Ivana Baquero and while the movie didn't quite blow me away, I was pretty pleased with it overall. It was based on one of the stories in this collection and prompted me to track down a copy.

Either or both of these could make it into my suitcase this week. We'll have to see. I think short stories may suit my vacation reading needs, though, since I always have so much planned that I can't ever seem to sit down and read for long periods, falling asleep over my books at night and coming home having finished none.

I'm preposting (as mentioned) so tomorrow's post is actually going to be a look back at some collections that I've already featured but feel should be highlighted again.

Happy Reading!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Insatiable Winners!

Alrighty, we have two winners for Meg Cabot's latest, Insatiable. They are (by random number generator):




Congrats, guys! I'll be emailing you shortly for details. Thanks to everyone who entered. More to come, so keep checking back!

Joanne Harris

Alright, continuing the short story theme for summer reading, I had to post something about Joanne Harris. Because she's amazing. All of her work is truly phenomenal.

I discovered her while in college, working at the bookstore. In 2001, I received an ARC for her then new release, Five Quarters of the Orange. I had seen Chocolat, but not read the book, but when I saw that this was the new release from that author, I figured it was time to give her a shot.

I loved Five Quarters it remains one of my favorites today and one that I always heavily recommended to readers. I went on to read all of her available books (Chocolat, Blackberry Wine, then Coastliners and Holy Fools. When Jig and Reels was released in 2004, there was no doubt that I would snatch it up and devour it like the others. But it was short stories. I mean, I knew I loved King's stuff by this time, but I wasn't completely sold that another author could capture that same magic in their shorts that King had for me.

Boy was I wrong! The first thing I absolutely loved about this collection is that Harris explains her inspiration for each story. I'm not sure why, but that particular element really added something genuinely fantastic to this book. The second thing that I love is that it shows her range as an author. If you haven't read her before, then you should know that there's always a touch of magic, sometimes a little bit of gothic undertones, and a general ability to evoke every emotion you can think of. Jigs and Reels is all of that in twenty-two neat little packages.

Some of the stories, like the opening tale "Faith and Hope go Shopping," are heartwarming feel good stories. Others, like "Gastronomicon" are magical stories. And still others are sneaky and disturbing stories. All of them are gems! There is not one tale in this collection that I didn't get completely absorbed in.

I know that I owe you all some Joanne Harris posts here. They'll be coming. This is the first and I definitely recommend it as a starting point if you've not be introduced to her yet. Completely amazing. I promise.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

More Short Stories For You

Of course one of my favorite short story collections is Night Shift by Stephen King. I will say that I avoided the shorts for as long as I could. While in high school, I can remember some particularly terrible stories -- flatlined tales that never seemed to move from point A to point B with anything resembling action or tension or anything. I prefer my short stories to contain all of the elements of a long story (a book) just in a quick bite.

I won't mention the tales that turned me off as a kid, mostly because I have found at as an adult I have an appreciation for a few. But man, I still remember the bad ones. So King or not, by my senior year I was leery of anything labeled a short story. But when I found that some of my favorite movies were based on shorts (Children of the Corn and Sometimes They Come Back in particular), I had to give it a try.

Other tales you might recognize from Night Shift:

"Trucks" -- inspiration for Maximum Overdrive and later Trucks
"Night Shift" -- movie Graveyard Shift
"The Mangler" -- movie The Mangler
"The Lawnmower Man" -- movie The Lawnmower Man
"Quitters, Inc" -- part of Cats Eye
"Jerusalem's Lot" and "One for the Road" both tie into 'Salem's Lot

Much to my then boyfriend's disappointment, I took the book on a bike trip and read the whole way there -- sorry, dude. You kind of have to expect it with readers: car rides are reading trips. And I found that the ride was the perfect time for these short creepy tales. First off, I like to read in long sittings. So a short sitting or one with interruptions suits me for short stories better than novels (which also makes them the best summer or vacation reads!). Second, King packs a punch even in the smallest stories. You can probably imagine how successful the actual bike ride was when all I really wanted was to get back to my book and the next story.

I mentioned yesterday that King is a huge fan of the short story and has been making a big effort on his own to ensure that the art stays around. If you pick up one of his collections (like this one) I think that you'll enjoy it. I can guarantee that even if you think you aren't a fan of short fiction, you will be if you find the right ones for you.

Monday, June 21, 2010

It's Monday!

Yep. It's Monday again. How was your weekend? I got engaged! Yes. All so very exciting. We're going home for a visit this week and he wanted to make sure that I had the ring in time to show everyone. I'm still a little bit off kilter over it all. Very surreal. And folks are already asking when the wedding will be. One step at a time.

Anywho, back to summer reading recs. I'm in a short story mood this week. In fact, I've been stocking up. Short stories are beloved among writing circles, but they seem to have fallen out of readers' circles view lately. Anthologies and collections are, I think, a great introduction to an author you may never have read before or a really fantastic way for an author to spread their wings and show what they're capable of.

If done well, a short story can be very effective. If it's not quite your thing, there's always another one to try next that might be.

I know many of us think of Stephen King as the "King" of modern day short stories, and it's very true that he's been passionate about the art and does his part to keep it in the mainstream. His son, Joe Hill, has joined the club as well, winning awards for his first collection 20th Century Ghosts, and contributing to many new anthologies in the past few years, including the one I want to highlight today: Stories: All New Tales edited by Al Sarrantonio and Neil Gaiman. That's right, Neil Gaiman. See, Neil himself has been doing huge things for the short story. He has his own collections, Fragile Things and Smoke and Mirrors, and I'll bet if you pick up a handful of current genre anthologies, you'll find his name in a few.

With Stories, he's contributed as well as edited. The book features all new tales from the likes of Joe Hill, Joanne Harris, Peter Straub, Jodi Piccoult, Jeffery Deaver, and Roddy Doyle (just to name a few).

And for your viewing pleasure, I thought I would include this widget with Gaiman talking about the book and short stories:

Sunday, June 20, 2010

New Releases 6/22/10

Some of the new titles hitting shelves this week are:

Pray for Silence By Linda Castillo

Murder in the Abstract by Susan Shea (6/24)

Carnal Sin by Allison Brennan (Seven Deadly Sins series book 2)

Shades of Gray by Caitlin Kittredge and Jackie Kessler (Icarus Project book 2)

The Amateur Historian by Julian Cole

Snowbound by Blake Crouch

The Chill of Night by James Hayman

Beachcombers by Nancy Thayer

Following Polly by Karen Bergreen

The Devil Amongst the Lawyers by Sharyn McCrumb (a Ballad novel)

The Other Mothers' Club by Sam Baker

101 Places Not to See Before You Die by Catherine Price

Sizzling Sixteen by Janet Evanovich

Dark Flame by Alyson Noel (next in the Immortals series)

Broken by Karen Slaughter

Silencing Sam by Julie Kramer

Crashers by Dana Haynes

Ancestor by Scott Sigler

New releases on DVD:
Green Zone
Remember Me
She's Out of My League
The Last Station

New reviews at Bookbitch.com:
Murder in the Abstract
Pray for Silence

Friday, June 18, 2010

Book Blogger Hop June 18 - June 21

In the spirit of the Friday Follow, the Book Blogger Hop is a place just for book bloggers and readers to connect and find new blogs that we may be missing out on! This weekly BOOK PARTY is an awesome opportunity for book bloggers to connect with other book lovers, make new friends, support each other, and generally just share our love of books! It will also give blog readers a chance to find other book blogs that they may not know existed! So, grab the logo, post about the Hop on your blog, and start HOPPING through the list of blogs that are posted in the Linky at Crazy-For-Books!!

The Hop lasts Friday-Monday every week, so if you don't have time to Hop today, come back later and join the fun! This is a weekly event!

Your blog should have content related to books, including, but not limited to book reviews.

If you start following someone through the Hop, leave a comment on their blog to let them know! Stop back during the week to see other blogs that are added! And, most importantly, the idea is to HAVE FUN!!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

We Interrupt This Program For... A Giveaway

Hey there, folks! I know I'm doing thriller recs this week, right? But the lovely Katrina is offering up two (2) copies of Meg Cabot's latest, Insatiable.

Here's some info on the book:

Vampires. This isn’t the first time they’ve taken a bite out of popular culture. And with INSATIABLE (June 8), #1 New York Times bestselling author Meg Cabot blends trend with tradition as only she can to create a fresh, funny, pulse-pounding and poignant update of our darkest eternal Gothic romance, Dracula.

Sick of hearing about vampires? So is Meena Harper. But as a writer for Insatiable, the second-hottest daytime soap (thanks to her burdensome if lucrative psychic ability to see into the future and determine how people are going to die), Meena’s being forced to use a vampire story line to boost ratings. But, just as Insatiable is switching to a vampire theme to attract a younger demographic, a spate of chilling murders-by-exsanguinations grips New York City.

Enter Lucien Antonescu, a sexy, melancholic Romanian history professor / vampire who recognizes that the murders are the work of rogue vampires who have broken away from his order (Lucien happens to be the son of Vlad the Impaler, whom Bram Stoker gave such a bad rep). Lucien's opposition: Alaric Wulf, a sympathetic detective from the Palatine Guard, who hopes to use Meena and her prophetic gift to stop the murders and track down Lucien. Unfortunately for Alaric, Meena is a little in love with Lucien.

Meg Cabot winningly applies her trademark likable fallible protagonists and breezy storytelling. With
INSATIABLE, she injects some much needed Gothic romance (and humor) back into the vampire oeuvre, and once again stakes her claim as the “master of her genre.”

I love Meg Cabot. Seriously everything she touches is gold. I'm a huge fan of her Lizzie Nichols and Heather Wells series and am super excited that she's diving into the vampire world here.

For more on Meg Cabot and her titles, visit her official site at: www.megcabot.com

Now for contest dets: Leave a comment here (with your email) before midnight Tuesday, June 22. I'll announce the winners that morning and contact them via email as well. These will be coming direct from the publisher, so no PO Boxes and US only, please.

Good luck!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Summer Thriller Suggestions: Shadow Man by Cody McFadyen

I'm sick. It's my annual summer cold and it's been hanging around for over a week. And now I'm really tired. I hate feeling completely worn down. I know my body is telling me to take it easy so it can do its thing and fight off the cold, but I've got almost no symptoms (chest congestion) and so it just kind of baffles me. I want to spend the day in bed sleeping, but I have too much to do. Argh.

Anyway, to continue the dark thriller reading recs this week, I have to recommend Cody McFadyen's debut from 2006, Shadow Man. This first in the series introduced readers to Smoky Barrett, a tough Fed with a dark past.

I thought that I might have reviewed this one for bookbitch.com, but alas it was before my reviewing days. I do know that I wrote something on it for the bookseller newsletter back then, but I don't have that anymore. Shoulda kept it!

I'd met with our sales rep on this one. Someone, I forget exactly who, had put me in touch with her and although they typically did not visit the big boxes, she was trying to get booksellers more acquainted with the upcoming titles on their list. She brought masses of ARCs to the store for us. And as the fiction lead, I got to meet with her. I loved it. At one point, when she retired, she recommended me for an interview. Ah. That would have been super cool. A lot of publishers are sort of downsizing this kind of position these days, and I find that really sad. She was enthusiastic about their titles and recommended them to me, which of course got me excited, and then translated to my telling customers about these upcoming books. Yeah. I've said it all before.

Here's a bit about the book from the publisher:

In all her years at the Bureau, Smoky has never encountered anyone like him–a new and fascinating kind of monster, a twisted genius who defies profilers’ attempts to understand him. And he’s issued Smoky a direct challenge, coaxing her back from the brink with the only thing that could convince her to live. The killer videotaped his latest crime–an act of horror that left a child motherless–then sent a message addressed to Agent Smoky Barrett. The message is enough to shock Smoky back to work, back to her FBI team. And that child awakens something in Smoky she thought was gone forever. Suddenly the stakes are raised. The game has changed. For as this deranged monster embarks on an unspeakable spree of perversion and murder, Smoky is coming alive again–and she’s about to face her greatest fears as a cop, a woman, a mother…and a merciless killer’s next victim.

For more on Shadow Man, including an excerpt, visit the official Random House page here.

Not only did I love this book, but McFadyen continues to up the bar with each new installment to the series. Shadow Man is followed by The Face of Death, The Darker Side, and Abandoned.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Summer Thriller Suggestions: Linda Castillo Sworn to Silence

So I realized when doing my Saturday Pre-Pub post that I'd never posted anything here about Linda Castillo's first Kate Burkholder book. It happens. I typically review everything I read for BB and then post recs on the blog. Sometimes titles just completely slip my mind, though. It's not because I don't want to recommend them you guys, it's just because I can be flaky : )

So I thought I would do some themed posts, recommending titles for summer. I figure with book two coming out, and Sworn to Silence fairly new out in paperback, that this would be a good one to kick off my thriller suggestions.

Prior to Sworn to Silence, Linda Castillo was known for her romantic suspense reads. In Sworn to Silence, I think she stayed pretty true to her roots, while incorporating a much darker plot.

The book begins with the discovery of a body. A young woman who has been brutally murdered. The small town of Painters Mill is no stranger to violence, but the occurrence is pretty rare and this murder will remind people of a terrible series of crimes they'd rather forget. Sixteen years ago, Painters Mill was struck by a serial killer. Now Chief of Police Katie Burkholder was just fourteen at the time. Many believe this new murder is the act of the same man, but Katie knows different. She herself killed the man responsbile over a decade ago and she's carried the secret ever since. Everything about this new crime seems to point to the same killer, though. Now Katie must face the possibility that she killed the wrong man, and if that's true, then where has the real killer been hiding all this time? For Katie, hiding the truth about her past is becoming harder and harder as she tries desperately to solve this case.

I'd originally remarked in my BB review that this book is not for readers with a weak stomach. Fans of Chelsea Cain and Cody McFadyen are going to love Castillo, though!

This is a lock your doors and turn all the lights on read! My favorite kind.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

New Releases 6/15/10

Some of the new titles hitting shelves this week include:

Blonde Bombshell by Tom Holt

Lowcountry Summer by Dorothea Benton Frank (sequel to Plantation)

29 by Adena Halpern

Left Hand of God by Paul Hoffman

A Fierce Radiance by Lauren Belfer

The Perfect Reader by Maggie Pouncey

Stories: All New Tales edited by Neil Gaiman and Al Sarrantonio

One Day by David Nicholls (author of Starter for Ten)

Naamah's Curse by Jacqueline Carey

Promises to Keep by Jane Green

Last Night on Twisted River by John Irving (trade paperback release)

New releases on DVD:
The Book of Eli
When in Rome
Youth in Revolt

New reviews at Bookbitch.com:
Mrs. Somebody Somebody by Tracy Winn
Hater by David Moody
The Anniversary Man by R.J. Ellory

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Pre Pub Book Buzz -- Pray For Silence by Linda Castillo

Last year, author Linda Castillo exploded onto the thriller scene with Sworn to Silence. No stranger to the suspense scene, Sworn to Silence proved to be her breakout title for new fans. Now, Castillo returns with Pray for Silence, the highly anticipated follow-up in the series. Set for release 6/22, Pray for Silence brings readers once again to the heart of Amish country with Kate Burkholder and her team. Here's some info from the publisher:

Kate Burkholder grew up in the Amish community of Painters Mill, Ohio, before leaving for the outside world and the study of law enforcement. Appointed Chief of Police in her former hometown, her knowledge of the Amish, their language and customs, makes her able to straddle two very different worlds. It’s been ten months since Kate Burkholder and BCI agent John Tomasseti solved the Slaughterhouse Murders Case and put the Amish and “English” residents of Painters Mill at ease. And as Kate and John keep each other at arm’s length, allowing their dark pasts to get the best of them, Kate is summoned to a brutal crime scene in the middle of the night—the murder of an entire Amish family.

The sight that will have the strongest affect on Kate is that of the two teenaged daughters, whose tortured bodies are found in the barn.

When Kate discovers a diary, she realizes a haunting personal connection to the case. One of the girls had been manipulated and abused—and may have led a secret double life. As Kate’s anger grows so does her resolve to find the killer and bring him to justice.

With this chilling new entry in the series, Linda Castillo once again immerses us in the mysterious world of the Amish with a story that manages to top her own bestselling debut thriller.

Castillo has already proven herself to be a true talent with fast-paced suspense and edge-of-your-seat plot lines. The return to Kate and Painters Mill is definitely a welcome one in my opinion. I've been dying to see what happens next with these characters and am completely fascinated by Castillo's setting.

Sworn to Silence is out now in paperback and Pray for Silence is due out 6/22. (If you've not read Sworn to Silence, I'll be posting something on Monday as part of my summer reading recs.)

Friday, June 11, 2010

The Iron Hunt by Marjorie M. Liu

My second title for Literary Escapism's The Firsts Mini-Challenge is Marjorie M. Liu's The Iron Hunt.

As you saw in my post on Monday, Liu is just all over the place! Her popular Dirk and Steele series has been running since 2005 and now she's got a game based on one and reprints due out soon. In 2008, Liu launched a new series that began with The Iron Hunt.

In the series, Maxine Kiss - Hunter's Kiss - is the latest in a long line of female warriors set to defend humanity from demons. Maxine is armed with a handful of demons herself: demons of the flesh who appear as tattoos during the day and free themselves each night to help her do battle. These demons are her only family. They are transferred from mother to daughter, which unfortunately for the host, leaves them then defenseless. Which means that when it comes time for Maxine to pass them along herself, she will be left without any protection against the beings that she has been so ardently fighting against. She will die. But that day will be a while coming. Unless the rumors that Maxine is the last are true. Though there are demons on this Earth. Most of them have been trapped behind a prison veil. That veil is losing strength and a war is coming. Maxine is the only true defense against this.

I'll admit that while I really enjoyed Liu's book -- it's a totally original concept, a big plus in the urban fantasy/paranormal genre and something that always stands out for me -- I was somewhat confused throughout much of the book. I find this happens to me a lot when an author has to introduce something that is so completely different, though. I kind of love it. Usually by book two I have a handle on this new world and I'm able to completely lose myself in it. It's definitely a downside of doing something original, but it's never a deterrent for me. It's more that I have to change gears.

I find that most readers don't have this problem. It's fun to be introduced to a whole new world with a new mythos as well.

Book two in the series, Darkness Calls, was released last summer (I was desperately searching for a copy last night so that I could continue the series, but my local big box is well-known for their crappy selection. I'll be looking elsewhere today and then ordering it if I still can't track it down). Book three, A Wild Light, is due out in July.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Get With It!

I'm out of it lately. I meant to post last night and I think I half convinced myself that I actually did because I completely forgot.


It's summer time. I wish I was a kid again so my brain could go on summer vacation! I really think us adults deserve it. Don't you agree? Not that kids get much vacation these days anyway. My sister has summer assignments. No, not just summer reading. Actual deadlines throughout the summer. She has to email the assignments to her teacher. She might as well be in school! Craziness.

Well even if you can't have a real vacation, I know all of us are searching for the perfect summer reads to sweep us away, if only for a little bit. I had wanted to do some themed weeks for summer reads. If I can get it together, I'll try to start next week with some of those recs. Today, though, I'm pulling one from way back in my reading past -- all the way back to 1997 when I had an extra credit assignment in English class to read a book and then it compare to its screen adapted counterpart.

One of the books I chose was Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child's Relic, and amazingly I've never posted about it here.

A lot of you have probably already read this, but I'd be willing to bet that there are a few of you who haven't. This is technically the first appearance of Agent Pendergast, FBI agent extraordinaire who has since become the lead character in many of Preston/Child's books. I love Pendergast! Just in case you couldn't tell.

He's not the lead in Relic, though, just to make that clear. And it's been ages since I've read this one, so here's the synopsis from the official Preston/Child website:

Just days before a massive exhibition opens at the popular New York Museum of Natural History, visitors are being savagely murdered in the museum's dark hallways and secret rooms. Autopsies indicate that the killer cannot be human...

But the museum's directors plan to go ahead with a big bash to celebrate the new exhibition, in spite of the murders.

Museum researcher Margo Green must find out who--or what--is doing the killing. But can she do it in time to stop the massacre?

Relic was followed by its sequel, Reliquary, and then Cabinet of Curiosities and so on and so on. Seriously. I'm not sure if the authors ever thought that they would take their characters as far as they have today, but I'm sure glad that they have. Main characters become peripheral characters or supporting "cast" in subsequent books, but there are a core few who appear over and over. Even the books that are technically stand alones eventually tie in in some way.

Pendergast's latest tale, Fever Dream, has just hit shelves and while I recommend all of Preston and Child's books (co and solo), you have to see where it all began with Relic. It's action/adventure, with a smattering of sci-fi, and archaeology that somewhat fringes on paranormal, and just oh, so fantastic! You simply have to read it. It's classic in my opinion!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Hater by David Moody

My first title for Literary Escapism's The Firsts mini-challenge is David Moody's Hater.

So here's the deal with David Moody. He's a UK author who released his book Autumn online for FREE. Yep, free. After that, he went on to start his own publishing company, Infected Books. In 2006, he published Hater and, according to his bio, within months he had a movie deal. How freaking cool is that? And not just any deal, Guillermo del Toro and Mark Johnson are producing and JA Bayona (director of the fantastically creepy The Orphanage) is directing.

In 2007, Moody signed a contract with St. Martin's Thomas Dunne Books for Hater and its two sequels. The contract has now expanded to include the Autumn series (five books).

This is a writers dream, I think. All of the hard work paying off and the author getting their dues. And its great for the readers, too! This means (by my count) eight Moody books here in the US. And actually, the second part of the Hater trilogy, Dog Blood, hit shelves this week.

Hater is a dark and brutal story in the viral apocalypse vein. (That's what I'm going to start calling it, viral apocalypse.) It begins with a handful of violent outbursts. Danny McCoyne is witness to one of the first: a man in a crowd randomly attacks an old woman, beating her to death before he's brought down. The number and rate of attacks increase slowly so that Danny and his family aren't even sure what's happening at first. Before too long, though, it's all over the news. And by the end, people have become terrified of one another. The news dubs the affected 'Haters' but it's still unclear just who 'they' are in this us against them tale.

I read this in one afternoon. It's been a bit of a reading slump for me, indecision being the biggest factor as I've been unable to even choose what book to read next. Hater and its sequel Dog Blood sort of literally fell into my lap thanks to St. Martins Press and Moody literally ripped me out of the blue reading phase. Hater is a quick train-wreck of a read. I don't think I could have put it down if I'd tried.

Moody's bio says he has an unhealthy addiction to the end of the world. I say bring it on! I love end of the world (post-apocalypse) reads. Love 'em! Autumn (the first book in that series) is due out here in the States in October. Hater is now out in trade and Dog Blood is out in hardcover.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

The Passage Release Day!

Today is the day that the BIG, MAGNIFICENT, HUGELY ANTICIPATED book The Passage hits shelves!

I'm sure you know by now, because you're book people, that the new releases hit shelves on Tuesdays. Yep, I remember the days of setting aside street date titles and working to get them all out and on the shelves and on displays before the gates opened at Waldens. I think I did a pretty good job at it, too. You could always count on me to have them out -- mostly because if I wasn't working there, I would be one showing up Tuesday morning for their favorite author's new release.

Anywho. I want you to go out and make a few books bestsellers this week. Do it. Go buy a book! You have a plethora of amazing reads to choose from this week.

First is Justin Cronin's The Passage. I read this Memorial Day weekend and I can't stop talking about it. And here you can see Justin Cronin on Good Morning America while Stephen King gushes about the book. Not joking. They also have an excerpt up. Not only that, but there's a really cool website for the book. Check it out here.

Another book hitting shelves this week (technically tomorrow, but I'll bet you might find it today at BN) is Michael Koryta's latest, So Cold the River, a book I told you about here. It's another perfect chilling read for summer that you won't want to miss out on.

For strict crime fiction fans (no vampires in sight and nothing paranormal here), R.J. Ellory's The Anniversary Man is due out this week. This is a dark and somewhat disturbing (not on a Mo Hayder level, though) crime thriller by an author who is just making his way here over the pond. He has seven books out in the UK, but this is just his second to be released here. I love, love, love both of the books (A Quiet Belief in Angels) and highly recommend them to mystery/thriller fans (here's my Anniversary Man post and here's the one for A Quiet Belief in Angels)

So these are the week's releases that I've read, but I also have to recommend one more. It's more vampires, but it's definitely for a different audience. Meg Cabot has put her stamp on the vampire world with Insatiable and it's due out today. I love Meg Cabot. She cracks me up. I have this one in the TBR and can't wait to get to it.

So, go buy a book. Go. Now. You can make a bestseller happen!

Monday, June 7, 2010

Are You Game?

I splurged and bought Alan Wake this weekend. I have to say, I'm not really sure what the hold up on this one was. I first read about it over two years ago, but the game still seems to be a bit rough. It is a super cool concept, though, and I'm looking forward to down time today so I can play a bit more. The girl at the game store did say that it can be finished up in about 7 hours of gameplay, so I think I'm trying to drag it out. Those things aren't cheap!

If you haven't heard of the game, you play as Alan Wake, a horror author who's on vacation when his wife disappears. Armed with a flashlight and weapons, you have to try to navigate a nightmarish world to save her. That's about all I got for now, but you can watch the game trailer here.

In other book/gaming news, though, the fantastic Elena at Wunderkind PR had sent me some info on a game based on Marjorie Liu's Dirk and Steele debut, Tiger Eye. The book, released in 2005 from Dorchester and set for rerelease in January, is about a woman with psychic powers who purchases an ancient puzzle box while in Beijing. Inside is a shapeshifter who has been trapped for centuries. The Dirk and Steele series are all basically stand alones wrapped around a paranormal detective agency. There are nine titles out currently, and the tenth, In the Dark of Dreams is due out in November.

The folks at PassionFruit Games formed their company after layoffs at Her Interactive. Together, the founders decided to start a new studio and build a game around Liu's novel. The result is their own debut, Tiger Eye: Curse of the Riddle Box, an interactive casual game for romance fans and the first game of its kind (based on a paranormal romance) released in the US.

Elena was kind enough to let me preview the game and I have to say it was really fun. Dela and Hari's story play out through a series of puzzles that can be somewhat challenging. This is just the first part what will be a two-part game and I can't wait to play the rest. I think gamers and Liu fans will all be pleased with this first release from PassionFruit. I hope they'll have more to come in the near future. It would definitely be nice to see more games based on books. It's always seemed like a perfect match to me.

Visit PassionFruit Games for details on how to download the game yourself. You can play a sample online or buy the whole game. Note that you don't have to have read Tiger Eye in order to play the game, but if you're a Liu fan already, you'll be delighted to hear that the author herself penned the script for the game.

The game, Tiger Eye: Curse of the Riddle Box, is available for both PC and Mac.

Contest Notes

So my blogging buddy Lori, over at Lori's Reading Corner, is running some fantastic contests this week that you should know about. The first is her "Fabulous 500 Follower $50 Amazon Giftcard Giveaway," ending June 18 and the second is her "Crazy Cozy Giveaway," ending June 15. Details on both can be found at the links I've embedded here, or you can visit her blog at www.lorisreadingcorner.com

Literary Escapism's official new mini-challenge has begun and I'm narrowing down my choices (trying to whittle away at the TBR with these challenges!). She's also got a couple of contests running this month. You can enter to win a copy of Jess Haines Hunted by the Others here and there's still a few days to enter to win Jennifer Estep's Web of Lies here.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

New Releases 6/08/10

Some of the new titles hitting shelves this week are:

The Anniversary Man by R.J. Ellory

Backseat Saints by Joshilyn Jackson

So Cold the River by Michael Koryta

The Passage by Justin Cronin

Cut, Paste, Kill by Marsall Karp -- a Lomax and Biggs mystery

Blood Harvest by S.J. Bolton

A Colorful Death by Carola Dunn -- second in the Cornish mystery series

Shakespeare Undead by Lori Handeland

There's Something About St. Tropez by Elizabeth Adler -- follow up to One of Those Malibu Nights

Mrs. Somebody Somebody by Tracy Winn

Dog Blood by David Moody -- follow up to Hater

Buy Back by Brain Wiprud

It's Not That I'm Bitter: Or How I Stopped Worrying About Visible Panty Lines and Conquered the World by Regina Barreca

Insatiable by Meg Cabot

Death Echo by Elizabeth Lowell -- 5th in the St. Kilda Consulting series

The Lion by Nelson Demille

Medium Raw by Anthony Bourdain

New on DVD:
Shutter Island
From Paris With Love

New reviews at Bookbitch.com:
The Passage
So Cold the River