Wednesday, December 28, 2011

2011 favorites and such

I keep a running list of favorite reads throughout the year so that I can do a list for Bookbitch.com. I cut a few just for the sake of keeping the list varied, but here is my complete list of 2011 favorites (all released in 2011), in order of having read them:

  1. The Poison Tree by Erin Kelly (mystery/thriller)
  2. The Sworn by Gail Z. Martin (fantasy)
  3. Midnight Riot by Ben Aaronovitch (urban fantasy)
  4. Learning the Swim by Sara J. Henry (mystery/thriller)
  5. Summer of Night by Dan Simmons (reissue) (horror)
  6. The Restorer by Amanda Stevens (paranormal thriller)
  7. Heads You Lose by Lisa Lutz and David Hayward (comedic mystery/thriller)
  8. The President's Vampire by Christopher Farnsworth (paranormal thriller)
  9. Hanging Hill by Mo Hayder (dark thriller)
  10. Don't Breathe a Word by Jennifer McMahon (mystery/thriller)
  11. Graveminder by Melissa Marr (paranormal)
  12. The White Devil by Justin Evans (mystery/thriller)
  13. Robopocalypse by Daniel H. Wilson (sci-fi/thriller)
  14. Before I Go To Sleep by SJ Watson (mystery/thriller)
  15. Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs (teen/paranormal)
  16. Ready Player One by Ernest Cline (sci-fi/thriller)
  17. The Demon Trapper's Daughter by Jana Oliver (teen/urban fantasy)
  18. The Keeper of Lost Causes by Jussi Adler-Olsen (mystery/thriller)
  19. Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor (teen/urban fantasy)
  20. 11/22/63 by Stephen King (sci-fi/thriller)
And the books I wish I'd gotten to in 2011 because I'm sure they would have made the list:

  1. Lev Grossman's The Magician King (the first is in my TBR now)
  2. Alma Katsu's The Taker
  3. Erin Morgenstern's The Night Circus
  4. Hillary Jordan's When She Woke
  5. Kendare Blake's Anna Dressed in Blood
  6. Michelle Hodkin's The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer
  7. Christopher Buehlman's Those Across the River
  8. Rosamund Lupton's The Sister
  9. Daniel Polansky's Low Town
  10. David Liss's The Twelfth Enchantment
  11. Felix J. Palma's The Map of Time
  12. Thomas Mullen's The Revisionists
And here's to more fabulous reads in 2012!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

As 2011 winds down

As we get closer and closer to the New Year, I can't help but hope that 2012 will be a year for relaxing. We bought a house, which came with a whole slew of minor issues (added up = lots of unwanted stress), and I'm trying to get the place set up in spite of the fact that I have plenty of time to get things where I want them. I'm not comfortable in clutter nor am I too pleased when a project takes me longer than I think it should.

I am happy to announce that all of the books are on shelves (yay!). But no one room is complete.

We did take some much needed chill time this weekend. We started watching Breaking Bad and we watched all of the first season of Game of Thrones, which I have to say is totally freaking awesome (gratuitous and plentiful raunchy sex aside). Shame on me for having started the first book ages ago and never getting beyond the prelude!

So I hear that each season of the show should follow one book. This means that season one should, in theory, be the actual book A Game of Thrones. I'm thinking at least a skim of the book may be in order so that I can move on to book two immediately -- I'm not sure when season two will actually start (April, I hear) and the show definitely ended with things up in the air for everyone in the story.

Political intrigue set in a middle ages world with talk of dragons, white walkers, and a coming winter that everyone fears. Are you intrigued?

There are a lot of players, first there are the Starks -- Ned (played by Sean Bean), his wife, Catelyn, their four children, and Jon Snow, Ned's child from another woman. They seem to be the only stand up family in the show! Then you have the Lannisters, the villains (uber villains, 'cause there are others), Cersei Lannister (played by Lena Headey) who is also the King's wife, her slimy brother Jamie and their younger brother, Tyrion, the imp (I love his character). Ned is the King's hand, his best friend, and his protector. So when Ned discovers some complicated secrets about the King and the Lannisters, he puts himself, his family, and the crown at risk.

Meanwhile, the two remaining Targaryen children are planning their return, which would involve overthrowing the current king and taking back the throne that once belonged to their father. Confused? Only because there are so many intricate strings of plot going on.

I predict lots of back stabbing, unexpected alliances, more raunchy sex, and hopefully some creepy winter stuff in season two!

I've actually got the first three books on hand and this week would be a perfect time to begin them (or continue with a couple of other epic fantasy series I've started). If you're interested in reading them, there are currently five titles in George R. R. Martin's Song of Ice and Fire series (and it looks like two additional titles forthcoming):

A Game of Thrones
A Clash of Kings
A Storm of Swords
A Feast For Crows
A Dance With Dragons

For more on the author and the books, visit George R. R. Martin's website here. Note, Martin is a producer on the show and seems to have quite a bit of creative input. From what I hear, he's pleased with the outcome so far and given that the show has been wildly popular, I hope we'll get to see all seven books on screen eventually.

Sadly, if you don't have HBO or one of the OnDemand/Watch Instantly features, and you have to wait for the dvd, which looks to be slated for release in May. But the first four books are all in paperback!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Settling in for the holidays

These past few weeks -- and this weekend in particular -- have been utter madness!

I'm a total homebody. I like building my nest and I don't like moving it. Seriously, moving brings out the absolute worst in me and I'm sorry for all those poor folks who had to be on the receiving end.

But it looks as though we're finished cleaning the old place and everything seems to be in the new place, though lots of things have gotten lost in the midst of all the boxes (tv remote). Now to get the house in order and enjoy the coming holiday and New Year!

Not a whole lot of reading done, though I did squeeze in Alan Bradley's latest, which happens to be a Christmas book. I Am Half-Sick of Shadows is the fourth Flavia de Luce book and my introduction to the series.

In this installment, Flavia, a precocious eleven-year-old with a talent for chemistry, has decided to set a trap for Santa. Her plans are complicated when a film crew arrives at the family estate and a charity event is planned at Buckshaw. No worries, though, Flavia comes out pretty unruffled even when they find themselves snowed in with a dead body. With the vast majority of Bishop's Lacey camped out in her home, the list of suspects is ridiculously long, but Flavia is sure she can solve the murder.

I've seen folks describe this series as whimsical and charming and honestly can't think of more appropriate words myself. Flavia is so adorably fun! A wonderful mystery heroine paired with a keep you guessing plot, and an easy enough read that I could fit in short sit downs amongst all the moving craziness.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

New Releases 12/20/11

Some of the new titles hitting shelves this week are:

Once Upon a Time: A Collection of Classic Fairy Tales

Silence by Jan Costin Wagner

Covert Warriors by W.E.B. Griffin

The Devil's Elixer by Raymond Khoury

DC Dead by Stuart Woods (Stone Barrington)

Touch of Power by Maria V. Snyder

On a Dark Wing by Jordan Dane

New on DVD:
Straw Dogs
Midnight in Paris
Dolphin Tale

New reviews at Bookbitch.com:
Micro by Michael Crichton
The Winter Ghosts by Kate Mosse
One Good Turn by Kate Atkinson

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Pre-Pub Book Buzz: Incarnate by Jodi Meadows

The teen market is just bursting with new stuff! I have to say, I would have stuck to teen much longer had there been this kind of selection back then! It's really pretty awesome and there's so much crossover appeal these days as well. Any number of adult readers, myself included, have expanded their TBR stacks to include teen titles -- and many of our favorite adult authors are writing YA titles and vice versa.

Jodi Meadows's Incarnate is one I've seen popping up on other blogs. It sounds like a super cool concept and is one I'm anxious to dive into. Here's some info from the publisher's site:

New soul

Ana is new. For thousands of years in Range, a million souls have been reincarnated over and over, keeping their memories and experiences from previous lifetimes. When Ana was born, another soul vanished, and no one knows why.

No soul

Even Ana’s own mother thinks she’s a nosoul, an omen of worse things to come, and has kept her away from society. To escape her seclusion and learn whether she’ll be reincarnated, Ana travels to the city of Heart, but its citizens are afraid of what her presence means. When dragons and sylph attack the city, is Ana to blame?


Sam believes Ana’s new soul is good and worthwhile. When he stands up for her, their relationship blooms. But can he love someone who may live only once, and will Ana’s enemies—human and creature alike—let them be together? Ana needs to uncover the mistake that gave her someone else’s life, but will her quest threaten the peace of Heart and destroy the promise of reincarnation for all?

Jodi Meadows expertly weaves soul-deep romance, fantasy, and danger into an extraordinary tale of new life.

This is Meadows's debut series and Incarnate hits shelves Jan 31 (so nuts that we're looking at 2012 releases already).

Friday, December 16, 2011

The Tiny Book of Tiny Stories and HitRecord

A quick post here. It's Friday! Woohoo! And we're just over a week away from Christmas. If you're looking for any last minute gifts or just want something super fun for yourself, check out HitRecord and their Tiny Book of Tiny Stories. This would be the first volume from !t books.

I was curious about this one when I heard about it. It's a collaborative effort and Joseph Gordon-Levitt heading up the HitRecord movement. The Tiny Book of Tiny Stories is a cute little hardcover book with tiny stories and accompanying art. It's fun. It'll make you laugh. It'll make you smile. It'll make you think. And who knows, it might inspire you as well. If so, you can join in on the HitRecord collaboration and maybe you can make it into vol 2!

Here's the prerelease video (though the book is out now):

And a sample of what you will see inside:

I love that one! One of my favorites from the book.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Moving and Micro

It's almost time! And you know that that means? The best part of moving -- reorganizing the bookshelves!!! (I am well aware of the dorkiness of that statement.) Even cooler, my husband is promising new bookshelves (eventually). Not pre-fab store bought ones. Nice, tall, room-filling bookshelves!

I mentioned the other day that I was reading Michael Crichton's latest (and last), Micro. While I'll admit right off the bat that some of the situations, dialogue, and characters made me giggle more than just a little in their simplicity, the rest of me had a lot of fun reading it.

Seven grad students are offered the chance of a lifetime when employment opportunities open up at Nanigen. A shocking discovery puts them all in grave danger, though, when they find themselves shrunk down to "micro" size. As they battle giant bugs and make their way across the Hawaiian wilderness, each of them draws on their own specialties to help the group survive. But can they make it back to Nanigen in one piece?

I think overall that it's hard for me to be too critical. Heck, I'm not overly critical most of the time anyway. I haven't written a book! I like to read and I like to read for entertainment. Obviously some books are more well written than others. Usually I just avoid the ones I know will be too cheeseball. But, sometimes you need a little cheese in your life. And the weekend of a last-minute inspection, plumbing inspection, and imminent move-in at a new place is definitely a time for cheese. (And by Hawaiian wilderness above, I mean Hawaii through the eyes of tiny people.)

Micro brought to mind many things. First off, Honey, I Shrunk the Kids. I was eight when that movie came out. I saw it a million times. They played it in school (wonder if they still do?). It also brought to mind the whole radioactive giant bugs, Attack of the Fifty Foot Woman, Incredible Shrinking Man movie era. Like I said, it was fun.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

World Book Night USA

So not only are we (meaning the US of A) participating in World Book Night 2012, but you can get involved. World Book Night is looking for givers nationwide. They've narrowed their list of titles (you can see that here) and you can now apply to be a giver in your area.

I have no idea if I'll get picked, but it would be super cool! There are some requirements (here), but if you meet those, I'd definitely encourage you to head over and throw you name in the ring, too.

And, if World Book Night wasn't cool enough, one of the folks involved with the Denver Publishing Institute is in charge. Yay!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Where's My Bookmark: And Only To Deceive by Tasha Alexander

It's very rare that I re-read. It's not a preference thing and my memory has certainly suffered so that the ending wouldn't be spoiled in a mystery I've already read (terrible! I'm only 30!), but with so many new books on my radar, it's hard to go back to an oldie from the shelves. But it does happen.

In this case, I was introduced to Tasha Alexander's Lady Emily series back in 2005 when And Only To Deceive was originally released. Since that time, there have been five new installments. Yikes! So And Only to Deceive went back into the TBR stack so that I could refresh my memory and read the series through.

And that time has come! Here's my brief nutshell review of the book:

This first in the Lady Emily Ashton series finds the widowed Emily attempting to learn more about recently departed husband. The two were married just a short period of time and Emily knew little about his activities. As she digs deeper into his interests, she learns of a conspiracy involving stolen antiquities and the British Museum.

A lush Victorian mystery.

2005 was a long time ago! So here's more from the author's page:

Emily's desire to learn more about her late husband takes her to the quiet corridors of the British Museum, where, amid priceless ancient statues, she uncovers a dark, dangerous secret involving stolen artifacts from the Greco-Roman galleries. To complicate matters, she's juggling two very prominent and wealthy suitors, one of whose intentions may go beyond the marrying kind. Her search to solve the crime leads to surprising discoveries about the man she married and causes her to question the role in Victorian society to which she, as a woman, is relegated.

Even in the midst of moving, I've kept a box of immediate must finds close (you know, so the ones I need to get to quickest in the TBR don't get misplaced). The one good thing about moving is that I get the chance to reorganize my bookshelves. The bad thing, those straggling boxes that disappear only to reappear much, much later after many, many searches!

Sunday, December 11, 2011


It's been a rocky few weeks. I've been alluding to the mess, but reluctant to go into it here -- out of superstition mostly. We've been house hunting. We're more than likely moving at the end of this week, or thereabouts. More than likely. There's still an eensy bit of possibility it won't happen, which has pretty much been the process all along. Everything has hinged on one thing or another, we've been prepared for it all to fall through (through no fault of our own actually -- we've jumped through all of the hoops in a timely fashion).

It has been stressful, to say the least. If all goes well, and nothing's gone without hiccups so far, I can be set up and hopefully relaxing in our first house of our very own by Christmas. One can hope.

Anywho. I'll keep you posted on that front. Obviously, being the stressed out in need of escapism person I am, I've been reading all along. Possibly at a slower pace. Not this weekend, though. I'll say this about the new Crichton (you can read Susan Tunis's insightful review here until I get my own up), it's moving along quickly. It's unfortunate that it's not a very cerebral read, but I don't need cerebral right now. I need exactly what Preston and Crichton offer up in Micro.

New Releases 12/13/11

Some of the new titles hitting shelves this week are:

Kill Switch by Neal Baer and Jonathan Greene

Too Much Stuff by Don Bruns

Pilgrim of the Sky by Natania Barron

Locked On by Tom Clancy

The Drowning River by Christobel Kent (Felony & Mayhem ed)

The Leopard by Jo Nesbo (Harry Hole)

The Drop by Michael Connelly (Harry Bosch)

Rise of Empire by Michael J. Sullivan

New on DVD:
Fright Night
Rise of the Planet of the Apes
Kung Fu Panda 2

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Pre-Pub Book Buzz: The Demi-Monde: Winter by Rod Rees

Ooh, I can't wait for this one! The Demi-Monde: Winter is the first in a series of four steampunk thrillers by Rod Rees. We're a bit behind the UK, who released this first installment a while ago. I believe book two, Spring, is already out there as well. At any rate, Winter hits shelves stateside on Tuesday, December 27 (just in time for those holiday gift cards!).

Here's what the publisher is saying:

In the Demi-Monde, author Rod Rees has conjured up a terrifying virtual reality, a world dominated by history’s most ruthless and bloodthirsty psychopaths—from Holocaust architect Reinhard Heydrich to Torquemada, the Spanish Inquisition’s pitiless torturer, to Josef Stalin’s bloodthirsty right-hand man/monster, the infamous Beria. The Demi-Monde: Winter kicks off a brilliant, high concept series that blends science fiction and thriller, steampunk and dystopian vision. If Neil Gaiman, Neal Stephenson, James Rollins, and Clive Cussler participated in Suzanne Collins’s The Hunger Games, the result might be something akin to the dark and ingenious madness of Rees’s The Demi-Monde: Winter.

And here's more:

The Demi-Monde:

1. A subclass of society whose members embrace a decadent lifestyle and evince loose morals.

2. A shadow world where the norms of civilized behavior have been abandoned.

3. A massive multiple-player simulation technology that re-creates in a wholly realistic cyber-milieu the threat-ambiance and no-warning aspects of a hi-intensity, deep-density, urban Asymmetric Warfare Environment.

4. Hell.

Welcome to the Demi-Monde, the ultimate in virtual reality—a military training ground and vivid, simulated world of cruelty and chaos run by psychopaths, madmen and fanatics.

If you die here, you die in the Real World . . .

In the year 2018, the Demi-Monde is the most sophisticated, complex and unpredictable computer simulation ever created, devised specifically to train soldiers for the nightmarish reality of urban warfare. A virtual world of eternal civil conflict, its thirty million inhabitants—“Dupes”—are ruled by cyber-duplicates of some of history’s cruelest tyrants: the fanatical Nazi butcher Reinhard Heydrich; Stalin’s arch executioner Lavrentii Beria; the torture-loving Grand Inquisitor Tom├ís de Torquemada; the Reign of Terror’s bloodthirsty mastermind Maximilien Robespierre.

But something has gone horribly wrong inside the Demi-Monde, and the U.S. president’s daughter, Norma, has been lured into this terrifying shadow world, only to be trapped there. Her last hope of rescue is Ella Thomas, an eighteen-year-old jazz singer and very reluctant heroine. But when Ella infiltrates the Demi-Monde and begins her hunt for Norma, she soon discovers the walls containing the evils of this simulated environment are dissolving—and the Real World is in far more danger than anyone knows. With the help of resistors determined to understand their world, Ella must race to save Norma and stop an apocalypse . . . but the clock is ticking.

Blending fact and fantasy, history and religion, military and existential themes, epic adventure and dark wit, dystopia and steampunk in a wholly original and driving narrative stream, The Demi-Monde: Winter is inventive fiction at its finest.

I'm totally stoked! I think this looks like one of the coolest books of the season!

You can visit the official site at the link above. Or you can visit Harper Collins's book page here and you can read a sample of the book here on Scribd.

I'm hitting the books. Hope you enjoy your Saturday!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

More great news from Angry Robot!


Angry Robot has signed debut novelist, Lee Battersby for two books in a new fantasy series. The first title - The Corpse-Rat King - will be published in autumn 2012, with the second to follow in 2013. The deal included world English rights in physical and electronic formats.

In the highly imaginative The Corpse-Rat King, readers are introduced to Marius Helles as he plunders the bodies of the dead after a major battle - a crime punishable by death. The dead tell Marius that they need a King - the King is God's representative, and they need someone to speak to God and remind him where they are, thank you very much! He doesn’t actually want the job, but when the alternative is to deny a legion of angry corpses, it’s that or find a suitable compromise - and quickly: the dead aren’t known for their patience...

The deal was negotiated by Angry Robot editor Lee Harris, and Battersby’s agent Richard Henshaw of the Richard Henshaw Group, after The Corpse-Rat King came to Angry Robot’s attention during their first Open Door Month open submission period, earlier this year.

British-born Battersby, who now lives in Australia, said: "To publish a novel has been a long-held dream. To achieve it with such a progressive and forward-thinking publisher, based in the town of my birth, just makes it all the more special. Angry Robot think about speculative fiction the same way I do - that it is a warped and twisted fabric that should be used to pervert the minds of the young and the innocent."

Editor, Lee Harris stated: "Lee’s twisted worldview is ideal for Angry Robot’s many followers. The Corpse-Rat King is a great read - funny, exciting and very, very addictive - and I can’t wait for people to read this!"


Check out www.leebattersby.com for the low-down on Lee's work to-date and if you're Tweet-inclined, he's @LeeBattersby - give him a follow and make him feel welcome!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

A perfect winter ghost story

What's up world? I've not been hiding under a rock. I'll have an explanation for my frequent absences and brain farts next week, I promise.

In the meantime, I dove into Kate Mosse's The Winter Ghosts this weekend. I needed an escape and love ghost stories. This one's a bit shorter than Mosse's other titles, Labyrinth and Sepulchre, but is still set in France and concerns a little piece of lesser known (lesser known to me anyway) history.

In the book, Freddie is taking a jaunt through the Pyrenees. It's a much needed trip for a man who's had a hard time dealing with the loss of his brother. In truth, it's been years since his brother went missing in the war, and Freddie muddled through as best as he could. Eventually, though, his mind could take it no more. Now both his parents are dead and Freddie is taking small steps to regain his life. When his car goes off the road on a winding mountain pass, he seeks shelter in a nearby village. That night he meets an intriguing woman with a sad story. When he wakes, Freddie is in the throes of a raging fever. All those around him assume that his ramblings are that of a sick man, but Freddie knows differently.

The book is based on the fourteenth century massacre of the Cathars, something I know next to nothing about. It's a fascinating piece of history, though, and one that Mosse has touched on enough to pique my interest.

I think one of my favorite things about Mosse's work is the way she incorporates history into her stories. I enjoyed Labyrinth and Sepulchre very much and was glad that The Winter Ghosts kept up that tradition. I also love this book is, for the most part, a Victorian style ghost story.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

New Releases 12/6/11

Some of the new titles hitting shelves this week are:

Egypt: Book of Chaos by Nick Drake

Death Comes to Pemberley by PD James

Pharmacology by Christopher Herz

Red Mist by Patricia Cornwell (Kay Scarpetta)

Dragon Fate by EE Knight (Age of Fire #6)

A Perilous Conception by Larry Karp

The Forgotten Affairs of Youth by Alexander McCall Smith (Isabel Dalhousie #8)

The Tiny Book of Tiny Stories: Vol 1 ed by Joseph Gordon-Levitt

Vigilante by Stephen Cannell

Immortalists by Kyle Mills

Left Hand Magic by Nancy A. Collins

The Bishop by Steven James

The Unninocent: Stories by Bradford Morrow

The Clockwork Prince by Cassandra Clare (Infernal Devices #2)

Deadly Little Voices by Laure Faria Stolarz (Touch)

Shattered Souls by Mary Lindsey

New on DVD:
The Help
Cowboys & Aliens
The Debt
Point Blank

New reviews at Bookbitch.com:
11/22/63 by Stephen King
The Iron Knight by Julie Kagawa

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Pre-Pub Book Buzz: The House at Tyneford by Natasha Solomon

You may not have heard of this week's pre-pub, but if you're like me, you're going to want it. Bad.

So a while back, I zoomed through Downton Abbey on watch instantly and I loved it. I mean really loved it. And I finished right around the time the trailer for season 2 was released, so I immediately watched that as well and now I can't wait until it airs. I'm so excited!

And some of you probably aren't familiar with the show, but it's an Upstairs, Downstairs meets Gosford Park BBC show (literally, Julian Fellowes, the writer of Gosford Park was also writer/creator of Downton Abbey).

But this post isn't about Downton, it's about how excited I am for the US release of Natasha Solomons's The House at Tyneford. I snagged a copy at the trade show (note to attend every year now!) after seeing Kristin Hannah's blurb, "Fans of Downton Abbey and Kate Morton's The Forgotten Garden will absolutely adore The House at Tyneford."

And you know what I'd done right after finishing Downton and watching the trailer for season 2, looked for books like Downton. So of course I had to have Tyneford!

Here's the short synopsis from the publisher's page:

It's the spring of 1938 and no longer safe to be a Jew in Vienna. Nineteen-year-old Elise Landau is forced to leave her glittering life of parties and champagne to become a parlor maid in England. She arrives at Tyneford, the great house on the bay, where servants polish silver and serve drinks on the lawn. But war is coming, and the world is changing. When the master of Tyneford's young son, Kit, returns home, he and Elise strike up an unlikely friendship that will transform Tyneford-and Elise-forever.

Note the book appears to have a different title overseas, A Novel in the Viola. The House at Tyneford is set for release on Dec 27. For more on Natasha and her work, you can visit her site here.

I'm still working out the best way to do contests here, but in the meantime I do have two copies of Tyneford. If you're interested in a copy (and have read this far), leave me a comment below. If more than one person says they want it, I'll draw a name randomly.

Happy reading!

Friday, December 2, 2011

The Iron Knight by Julie Kagawa

So I finished The Iron Knight last evening. Guess I needed a little reading break after whizzing through that new King. Iron Knight took me just as long to read at about a third of the length!

Ash, the Winter Prince, has vowed that he will be with his love no matter what the cost. As queen of the Iron Realm, Meghan has ordered Ash to leave, knowing full and well that Ash cannot withstand the exposure to iron. And so Ash begins his quest to become human, the only solution to the problem and the only scenario that will allow him to stand by Meghan's side. With Grim and Puck, our hero sets off on his adventure. They are joined by two unexpected companions: the Big Bad Wolf, and a seer who will lead them to the End of the World. Along the way, they will face obstacles that will test their friendship, honor, and loyalties. But can Ash survive? And will Meghan be waiting on the other side?

I love Kagawa's Iron Fey world. The creatures, the various parts of the Nevernever, and the characters all come to life in the pages of these books. The Iron Knight continued in that same vein. My one complaint, though, and it's more that I guess I didn't realize it at the outset, is that this is a trilogy with a fourth title. The trilogy follows Meghan's arc (this is something that's obvious to the reader and also something that Kagawa points out in the interview at the end of Iron Knight). Iron Knight is Ash's tale. So while you do have to read them all in order, this fourth is not a true continuation of those first three in that Meghan is not a prominent character at all. The Iron Fey themselves aren't really featured in the book either. Ash is the lead, the story is told from his perspective, and it is his tale.

I'm not sure why I expected any different, but it led me to feel a bit off in the beginning of the story. Possibly also because I'm not a self-identified "Team Ash" member. Sure, he's the broody and handsome Winter Prince. And I like him. But realistically, I'm a Puck girl at heart. Sorry. It made the book no less enjoyable!

I have to say that I especially loved The River of Dreams and Phaed. Oh, if Kagawa would write an entire series about those two parts of the Nevernever (and more Puck, and more Grim), I would be a happy, happy girl!

Next up for Kagawa is a futuristic series with vampires.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver

Back in August, the teen book world was all abuzz about Lauren Oliver's Delirium, a dystopian title in which love has been cured. I thought it sounded super cool and made one of the Junior Junkies buy it on a bookstore trip. And have been waiting to borrow it. So when I had the opportunity to review Oliver's debut, Before I Fall, I jumped!

Samantha Kingston and her friends are popular. They can get away with just about anything. It's Cupid Day, a day they've all been waiting for. A day when popularity can be measured by the number of roses received. It's also the day Sam will die. But then Sam wakes up on Cupid Day again. The day starts the same as before, but as Sam's reactions change, the day begins to change as well. For Sam, every day will be Cupid Day until she gets it right. Save herself? Save her friends? Prevent the accident altogether? The options are endless and Sam's actions are the key.

I liked this book. I thought it had a lot of depth to the story. I've seen this sort of "what if" scenario in part before (and Sam even mentions Groundhog Day in the book), but this was a case where the author got it right.

One of the things I liked most was the way Oliver touches on sensitive subjects -- topics that are around us everyday and can easily become overwhelming or overly preachy. She handles them with ease and in a way that teen readers should appreciate.

As for Sam and her friends, it would be easy to paint the popular girls as the bad guys. And they aren't. They're teens and they're friends and they each have problems of their own. Oliver portrays them as whole characters rather than caricatures of Mean Girls, appropriate since they're the main characters of the book. Those kinds of flat stereotypes work fine with peripherals, but in this case they carry the story. The reader gets a chance to know them and connect with them, making them more real.

Lauren Oliver is definitely an author I'd like to see more of. You can bet I'll be snagging my sister's copy of Delirium as soon as I can, especially with its sequel, Pandemonium, due out next March.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Time travel Stephen King style

When Jake Epping is given the chance to go back to 1958, he sets his sites on changing a few things in hopes that they'll create a better future. His biggest goal is to prevent the Kennedy assassination in 1963. In order to do so, he'll have to live in the past, studying the facts known through history, and planning the best way to stop the president's death with the least ramifications. And his particular worm hole (or rabbit hole, as he refers to it), only comes out in 1958. Each entry is a complete reset, so if he fails, he'll have to start all over again in 1958.

This is somewhat the story behind Stephen King's latest, 11/22/63. I say somewhat because I'm not sure how to do it justice.

First off, this is an 849 page whopper. But, as has been my experience with King all along, size doesn't mean an intimidating read. I knew going in that I would want to set aside a fair chunk of time and this past holiday weekend was the perfect opportunity. Even with the Thanksgiving day feast preparations (for two, but a feast nonetheless), a little bit of holiday shopping (NOT on Black Friday), and a couple of movies, all in all it took me just four days to finish the book. And actually, my preference would have been even less time than that -- there were a couple of long sitdowns with the book, and that's what it really begged for. This is my way of saying that it looks long, but it doesn't take long -- even so, you're going to want to read it through once you start.

I am always in awe of King. I'm sure that his process is by no means effortless, but the finished product certainly seems so. He's a storyteller that I really think compares to no other (*fangirl*).

I will also say that this latest is definitely less horror than a non King reader would expect. If you think that you're not a fan of his typical work, this would be a great one to try. For longtime fans, there's a return to Derry and some great It references.

In other King news, the Bag of Bones tv movie premieres Dec 11 on A&E, Spring 2012 sees a new Dark Tower installment (DT world, but not part of the actual series to my understanding), and King's working on a Shining sequel as well. I also hear that King's son Owen has a novel in the works (he has a short story collection already out). And not to leave out Joe Hill, he seems to have a newly released Locke & Key out on shelves now.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

New Releases 11/29/11

Some of the new titles hitting shelves this week are (and it's pretty slim pickings):

The Scottish Prisoner: A Lord John Novel by Diana Gabaldon

The Lake of Dreams by Kim Edwards (pb)

The Drop by Michael Connelly (Harry Bosch)

Within the Flames by Marjorie M. Liu (Dirk & Steele)

Legend by Marie Lu

New on DVD:
Tucker & Dale vs Evil
5 Days of War
The Smurfs
One Day
30 Minutes or Less
Friends With Benefits

New reviews at Bookbitch.com:
Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver
Bliss by Lauren Myracle
The Lost Book of Mala R. by Rose MacDowell

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Pre-Pub Book Buzz: Everneath by Brodi Ashton

I've got another teen title for you in this week's pre-pub post. Everneath is another one my sister has her eye on and I think it looks super fun. Here's some info from Brodi Ashton's site:

Last spring, Nikki Beckett vanished, sucked into an underworld known as the Everneath, where immortals Feed on the emotions of despairing humans. Now she's returned- to her old life, her family, her friends- before being banished back to the underworld... this time forever.

She has six months before the Everneath comes to claim her, six months for good-byes she can't find the words for, six months to find redemption, if it exists.

Nikki longs to spend these months reconnecting with her boyfriend, Jack, the one person she loves more than anything. But there's a problem: Cole, the smoldering immortal who first enticed her to the Everneath, has followed Nikki to the mortal world. And he'll do whatever it takes to bring her back- this time as his queen.

As Nikki's time grows short and her relationships begin slipping from her grasp, she's forced to make the hardest decision of her life: find a way to cheat fate and remain on the Surface with Jack or return to the Everneath and become Cole's...

It sounds so Persephone! Everneath is the first in a trilogy and is due out January 24.

Friday, November 25, 2011

To add to your TBR: Deathless by Catherynne M. Valente

Whew. I got this one for my birthday this year. It's on my bedside table. Here's the description from Amazon:

Koschei the Deathless is to Russian folklore what devils or wicked witches are to European culture: a menacing, evil figure; the villain of countless stories which have been passed on through story and text for generations. But Koschei has never before been seen through the eyes of Catherynne Valente, whose modernized and transformed take on the legend brings the action to modern times, spanning many of the great developments of Russian history in the twentieth century.

Deathless, however, is no dry, historical tome: it lights up like fire as the young Marya Morevna transforms from a clever child of the revolution, to Koschei’s beautiful bride, to his eventual undoing. Along the way there are Stalinist house elves, magical quests, secrecy and bureaucracy, and games of lust and power. All told, Deathless is a collision of magical history and actual history, of revolution and mythology, of love and death, which will bring Russian myth back to life in a stunning new incarnation.

I love anything based in folklore and I really love folklore that goes beyond the standards that I'm readily familiar with. Plus, I'm not seeing a whole lot of stuff delving deeply into Russian folklore, so Catherynne Valente's latest was a super cool one to come across.

So that's a peek at my TBR stack and hopefully some intriguing reads to add to your own.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!

Morning, all! It's Turkey Day! Hope yours is fantastic and food and family filled!

To add to your TBR: A Matter of Blood by Sarah Pinborough

I've raved about Sarah Pinborough before, and it was with great anticipation that I ordered A Matter of Blood from the UK. Unfortunately, I brought the book on vacation and didn't get to it. And then it sat in my unpacked carry-on bag for a ridiculous amount of time. Ridiculous.

Sadly, in my lapse, the book is still only available via UK ordering sites. On a positive note, ordering from the UK is really pretty easy these days and there's a second book out. OHMYGOD, this is a 2010 release! I'm getting new bookshelves.

The recession has left the world exhausted. Crime is rising; financial institutions across the world have collapsed, and most governments are now in debt to The Bank, a company created by the world's wealthiest men. But Detective Inspector Cass Jones has enough on his plate without worrying about the world at large. His marriage is crumbling, he's haunted by the deeds of his past, and he's got the high-profile shooting of two schoolboys to solve - not to mention tracking down a serial killer who calls himself the Man of Flies. Then Cass Jones' personal world is thrown into disarray when his brother shoots his own wife and child before committing suicide - leaving Cass implicated in their deaths. And when he starts seeing silent visions of his dead brother, it's time for the suspended DI to go on the hunt himself - only to discover that all three cases are linked . . . As Jones is forced to examine his own family history, three questions keep reappearing: what disturbed his brother so badly in his final few weeks? Who are the shadowy people behind The Bank? And, most importantly, what do they want with DI Cass Jones?

These aren't the worst crimes in my TBR stack. Not by far. Jane Austen -- yeah. I have read 133 books so far this year and I'm not the only one with an ambitious and growing reading goal :) Lordy, I hope no one holds this week against me.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

To add to your TBR: Bitter Seeds by Ian Tregillis

Ian Tregillis's debut is actually a 2010 release that I discovered in a search for more steampunk reads. The cover art alone is enough to pique interest, but the synopsis is to die for:

It’s 1939. The Nazis have supermen, the British have demons, and one perfectly normal man gets caught in between

Raybould Marsh is a British secret agent in the early days of the Second World War, haunted by something strange he saw on a mission during the Spanish Civil War: a German woman with wires going into her head who looked at him as if she knew him.

When the Nazis start running missions with people who have unnatural abilities—a woman who can turn invisible, a man who can walk through walls, and the woman Marsh saw in Spain who can use her knowledge of the future to twist the present—Marsh is the man who has to face them. He rallies the secret warlocks of Britain to hold the impending invasion at bay. But magic always exacts a price. Eventually, the sacrifice necessary to defeat the enemy will be as terrible as outright loss would be.

PW gave it a good review and George R. R. Martin blurbed it. This is one of those cases where I feel guilty for not having come across the book sooner. I'm not certain what the hold up has been, but book two in the series was delayed, hopefully not due to lack of attention, so it's kind of a situation where waiting has paid off a bit: Bitter Seeds is due out in paperback in April 2012 and book two is set for release in July (hopefully). Tregillis did post this back in March, which sort of piles on more reader's guilt, and this earlier this month (note -- I didn't receive this book for review. I've not been sitting on promised promotion. I bought it and... my inner bookseller is cringing right now.)

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

To add to your TBR: Harbor by John Ajvide Lindqvist

Like most book junkies, my TBR stack grows exponentially with the release of so many enticing new books. This week I'm going to do some promotional posts on a few books in my TBR that, for various reasons, I haven't had a chance to start.

First up is Harbor by John Ajvide Lindqvist. I had this one in my "must have" list as soon as I heard about it. Lindqvist is the author of Let Me In and Handling the Undead and is being hailed as the Swedish Stephen King -- in other words, a must read for any horror fan.

Here's the description from the publisher:

One ordinary winter afternoon on a snowy island, Anders and Cecilia take their six-year-old daughter Maja across the ice to visit the lighthouse in the middle of the frozen channel. While the couple explores the lighthouse, Maja disappears­either into thin air or under thin ice­leaving not even a footprint in the snow. Two years later, alone and more or less permanently drunk, Anders returns to the island to regroup. He slowly realizes that people are not telling him all they know; even his own mother, it seems, is keeping secrets. What is happening in their town, and what power does the sea have over the town's inhabitants?

Harbor hit shelves on October 11 and has been languishing in my TBR for over a month now. At 500 pages, it's not the most intimidating book I've come across this year, but due to a sharp cut in free time, it's been waiting patiently until I can devote my full attention to it.

Lindqvist's English website is still under construction, but here's his brief bio from online:

John Ajvide Lindqvist was born in 1968 in Sweden. After a career as magician and stand up comedian he finally became an author of horror stories. His books are published in 29 countries – among them China, USA, United Kingdom, Brasil, Denmark and, of course, Sweden.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Where's My Bookmark: Bliss by Lauren Myracle

I won't go into the whole mess, but I really thought the whole National Book Award debacle this year was in poor taste. I bought Lauren Myracle's Bliss quite some time ago. I'd intended to read it and pass it along to my sisters, and though I'm sure they would have read it long before now and returned it to me to spend time in my TBR stack, I couldn't part with it. Then with the whole Shine/Chime incident, I finally bumped Bliss up the stack (you may recall that Chime has been bumped up as well thanks to the alpha TBR Tackle, and is still waiting). When Danny Marks (aka adult urban fantasy author I read and find super hilarious!) mentioned Bliss in his October horror reading plans and then gave it a great review, it got bumped up to the top.

As I write, I also have to admit that the new Stephen King is burning a hole through my bedside table -- but I plan on tackling the 800+ page beast Wednesday since I'll have a few days off of work. And I've got a massive migraine. And I just finished reading another teen Lauren book, Lauren Oliver's Before I Fall, so in my round about, twisty turny (wibbly, wobbly, timey, wimey) brain, that meant a teen horror was a good compromise.

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

When Bliss’s hippie parents leave the commune and dump her at the home of her aloof grandmother in a tony Atlanta neighborhood, it’s like being set down on an alien planet. The only guide naive Bliss has to her new environment is what she’s seen on The Andy Griffith Show. But Mayberry is poor preparation for Crestview Academy, an elite school where the tensions of the present and the dark secrets of the past threaten to simmer into violence. Openhearted Bliss desperately wants new friends, making her the perfect prey of a troubled girl whose obsession with a long-ago death puts Bliss, and anyone she’s kind to, in mortal danger.

I foresee Bliss being a super quick read. I'm pretty much entranced by Bliss's world. I love the fact that it takes place in 1969, which sets a great stage for some of the social issues that are part of the setting. The chapters are short and sweet and the story is moving along at a really quick pace.

Alrighty, readers. I'm going to do some TBR posts this week to give myself a chance to catch up on some reading, catch up on some work, and make sure the blog isn't idle while I'm doing so. Plus, with the year coming to a close I still wanted to give some face time to some books I haven't had a chance to get to just yet (maybe it'll give you some gift ideas).

Happy reading and happy turkey day planning!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

New Releases 11/22/11

Some of the new titles hitting shelves this week are:

Murder in the Making: More Stories and Secrets from Agatha Christie's Notebooks by John Curran

Agatha Christie An Autobiography by Agatha Christie (reissue)

Once Bitten by Stephen Leather

The Basement by Stephen Leather

Bad Blood by Kristen Painter (House of Comarre #3)

Saints Astray by Jacqueline Carey

Autumn: Disintegration by David Moody

Explosive Eighteenby Janet Evanovich

Micro by Michael Crichton and Richard Preston

Three-Day Town by Margaret Maron

Dead Man's Grip by Peter James

Swift Edge by Laura DiSolverio

If I Should Die by Allison Brennan

The Impossible Dead by Ian Rankin

Theft of Swords by Michael J. Sullivan

Unleashed by Nancy Holder and Debbie Viguie

Kiss of Frost by Jennifer Estep

The Future of Us by Jay Asher and Carolyn Mackler

New on DVD:
Super 8
Devil's Double
Sarah's Key

New reviews at Bookbitch.com:
V is for Vengeance by Sue Grafton
Blood Rights by Kristen Painter

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Pre-Pub Book Buzz: Unleashed by Nancy Holder and Debbie Viguie

I snagged a copy of Nancy Holder and Debbie Viguie's debut installment in their new Wolf Springs Chronicles while working Mountains and Plains this year. It had actually been on my radar, so it was pretty cool to come across it at the Random House table.

The premise reminded me a bit of that old Lou Diamond Phillips show, Wolf Lake, which sadly got canned pretty early on. I thought it was a cool show. It probably would get a fair shot these days. Ah well.

Anyway, in the book, Katelyn McBride is sent to live in Wolf Springs after her mother is killed in a fire. Her father has been dead for a few years and her paternal grandfather is her last living relative. For the California girl, the tiny Arkansas town is a nightmare. What's worse, her grandfather lives out in the woods, miles from town. Her new home comes with warnings never to go out alone at night and Kat soon learns why. A girl from the local high school was mauled to death not long before Kat arrived. Then another girl is killed.

Of course it's werewolves. But, the build up to the big reveal in this one is perfect. The right blend of suspense and backstory, and enough to leave you hanging (at a very unfair point in the story, I might add) in agonizing anticipation of the second installment.

Agh! Talk about keep you coming back for more. I am dying to know what happens next. I loved the menacing tone of this story. The air of the town and the secrets that it harbors (many of which the reader still doesn't know by the end of this first in the series).

Another thing I really enjoyed about this book was the fact that the teens seemed real. That might be my adult perspective -- obviously the real test is a teen's opinion -- but I definitely put this one up there with other teen titles I've enjoyed in my beyond teen years. And it still reminds me of Wolf Lake :)

Friday, November 18, 2011

Blood Rights by Kristen Painter

Thank goodness for funk buster books! Whew! I was starting to get worried after last week's terrible reading debacle, traveling aside. I'm not sure that November will recover, but at least the end of the month should be better than the beginning if Kristen Painter's Blood Rights is any indication (and since there are two follow up books, I take it as a given that they'll be just as good as this first in the series and not return me to the blahness.)

The series takes place in the future -- 2067 -- the various paranormals that fill the series include shifters, fae, and of course, vampires. Descended from some of the most famous mad men and women throughout history (Bathory, Tepes, even Rasputin), each house has a specific powers and a hierarchy of power. The vampires are served by comarre, an exclusive group of highly trained people whose blood rights are sold to those in power.

Blood Rights: House of Comarre book 1 begins with the death of the House of Tepes Elder, Lord Algernon. His comarre, Chrysabelle, is suspected of the murder and has disappeared. Tatiana, a power hungry Tepes with her own agenda, must find Chrysabelle or be accused of the murder herself. Unbeknownst to Tatiana, Chrysabelle has fled to New Florida and sought the protection of her aunt, a comarre who won her freedom in a battle to the death. But when Chrysabelle's aunt is kidnapped, she'll need the help of a cursed vampire, a ghost, and a shifter to get her back.

Worldbuilding! Worldbuilding aplenty! Painter even says that it's an aspect about urban fantasy that she loves, and that's clear in the intricate and carefully put together world she's built for the House of Comarre series. The beings and their backgrounds, the characters and their individual stories, the plot that's the driving force of the book and the subplots that are weaved around it, Painter has done it all so very well!

I have to say that I do love all the characters, but Fi is by far my favorite. And the various beings, the whyspers, the comarre, the shadeaux, etc, are completely intriguing. I look forward to finishing out the trilogy and learning more about them as well as seeing where the entire arc of the story is headed.

Blood Rights and Flesh and Blood are both available now. Book three, Bad Blood, officially hits shelves 11/22. And they're Orbit, so you know they're good!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Don't miss Miss Peregrine's!

Can I set some New Year's resolutions this early? My first would be to get a little better about keeping the blog current with my actual reading.

One of my bday wishlist items this summer was Ransom Riggs's fabulous debut, Miss Peregrine's Home For Peculiar Children. This is by far the most original book I've read in a long, long time. Riggs collected vintage images and built his odd tale around a selection that appear within the pages of the book.

Sixteen-year-old Jacob Portman used to believe all the amazing stories his grandfather told him. Tales of an island in Wales and a strange group of children who lived in a home run by Miss Peregrine. Jacob's own grandfather was sent to the home to be kept safe during the war. Jacob knows the stories can't be real and now that he's a teen, he's much too old for his grandfather's peculiar stories. But when his grandfather is killed, Jacob witnesses the unimaginable. For him, the only possible way to explain what he's seen is to travel to Wales and see Miss Peregrine's for himself.

I loved everything about this book! Riggs's chosen images work incredibly well integrated into the story. The characters are wonderful and the story is wholly original -- quite unlike anything I've ever come across to be totally honest.

If you've read it, or plan to read it (you must, you must!), be forewarned the end will leave you wanting more. The good news is that there IS more to come! Riggs confirmed in August that there is a sequel in the works (happy dance!).

Ransom Riggs falls firmly in the category of super cool in my book. If you have time, check out his blog and his various videos and pics. He's got a wonderful eye for the eerie.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Abandoning Reads

I'm back! I took a trip last week to visit the family. As usual, I packed more than I could realistically read. Unfortunately, this particular time I seem to have packed some stinkers. It's hard to tell.

I used to be able to read through anything. I was the master at ignoring everything around me. I'm not sure when that began to change, but it has -- significantly. Airports and airplanes should be two of the best places to read. You spend so much time tied to one spot that the distraction of fiction (or non, depending on your taste) is a relief. I can't tune things out anymore, though. Walking traffic, unintelligible and garbled announcements, random pieces of conversations all around me... all of it invades my reading space.

I've had to seriously consider certain things in choosing traveling reads. Nothing too heavy or cerebral will do. Nothing that requires more than the absolute minimum concentration, in other words. And I did take this very seriously in choosing the four books I took along.

After zero progress reading en route, I arrived home. Now, normally we're spending time running around busy, busy, busy, but this trip was a little different. We're in the midst of the school year so all of my sisters were gone during the day. And my mom ended up having day surgery while I was in. I had hours in which to read all on my own. But... yeah.

I'm well aware that choosing the wrong book at the wrong time will heavily affect how I feel about the book. My sister had a couple of things I wanted to borrow that I refused to read because of this very thing. I set aside two books without even hitting the hundred page hurdle. One was a very popular book that I decided I just couldn't focus on at the time. The second was interesting, but the writing was a bit off and I couldn't see sticking with it for 400 pages.

Agh! I know plenty of readers out there who have come to terms with abandoning reads. I haven't gotten to that point. I have definitely been burned, expecting a book to redeem itself after sticking through to the end and finding that not to be the case. It's just so frustrating to devote any amount of time only to decide to give it up.

Oh well. I'm back. I'm reading a good one (actually the fourth book I brought along and never cracked open because of time spent on the others).

So what's up with you, fellow readers? What did I miss? Are you still hanging around after such a rambling post? I was disappointed to find that my few prepped posts for while I was gone never went up. I knew I was forgetting something :)