Sunday, May 29, 2011

Pre-Pub Book Buzz: Before I Go to Sleep by SJ Watson

Sorry I missed this yesterday, folks. I've sort of been on a computer ban (self-enforced, of course). Instead, I watched movies yesterday. I know. Bad me. I have to say, I'm even more convinced than ever that the weather plays a huge roll in my mood. Friday was nice and sunny. I had energy aplenty and bounced around the house listening to Cake and Vampire Weekend and the new Foster the People while I made beer can chicken and three bean salad and cleaned and vacuumed the house.

Yesterday, I ended up on the couch with a blanket and the film adaptation of Never Let Me Go, which didn't help. Anyway, this SHOULD have been yesterday's post, but now you get a double dose today.

Before I Go To Sleep is one of many talked about books due out this summer, and one that I personally am seriously looking forward to. Here's some info from the author's website:

Christine wakes up every morning in an unfamiliar bed with an unfamiliar man. She looks in the mirror and sees an unfamiliar, middle- aged face. And every morning, the man she has woken up with must explain that he is Ben, he is her husband, she is forty-seven years old, and a terrible accident two decades earlier decimated her ability to form new memories.

But it’s the phone call from a Dr. Nash, a neurologist who claims to be working with Christine without her husband’s knowledge, that directs her to her journal, hidden in the back of her closet. For the past few weeks, Christine has been recording her daily activities—tearful mornings with Ben, sessions with Dr. Nash, flashes of scenes from her former life—and rereading past entries, relearning the facts of her life as retold by the husband she is completely dependent upon. As the entries build up, Christine asks many questions. What was life like before the accident? Why did she and Ben never have a child? What has happened to Christine’s best friend? And what exactly was the horrific accident that caused such a profound loss of memory?

Every day, Christine must begin again the reconstruction of her past. And the closer she gets to the truth, the more un- believable it seems.

So, I also have to tell you that the publisher is running a special promotion on this book. Head over to the official facebook page and "Like" the book. You'll have access to contests, excerpts, and all kinds of other fun stuff before the book hits shelves.

And because everyone is always interested in movie hype, the author does say that the movie adaptation is in the works and Ridley Scott's company is set to start filming this year. (Note that the book is already out in the UK, but is set to hit shelves here in the US on June 14.)

New Releases 5/31/11

Some of the new titles hitting shelves this week are:

The Summer We Came To Life by Deborah Cloyed

Missing Persons by Clare O'Donohue

Hot Lights, Cold Steel by D.P. Lyle

The Girl Who Disappeared Twice by Andrea Kane

Neon Graveyard by Vicki Pettersson

Degrees of Freedom by Simon Morden -- Samuil Petrovitch book 3

Dreams of Joy by Lisa See (follow-up to Shanghai Girls)

The Day I Ate Whatever I Wanted by Elizabeth Berg

Wicked Lies by Lisa Jackson and Nancy Bush

My Dear I Wanted to Tell You by Louisa Young

Trader of Secrets by Steve Martini

The Deadliest Bite by Jennifer Rardin -- last Jaz Parks book

Deadline by Mira Grant

The Midnight Palace by Carlos Ruiz Zafon

Silencing Sam by Julie Kramer (paperback)

Windward Passage by Jim Nisbet (paperback)

New on DVD:
Drive Angry

New reviews at Bookbitch.com:
My Dear I Wanted to Tell You
The Neon Graveyard
Black Swan Rising by Lee Carroll

Friday, May 27, 2011

It's Friday! What are you reading?

Oh, I thought this week would never end! But here it is, Friday! Not sure what to do with the long weekend. Movie releases are pretty meh -- no desire whatsoever to see Hangover 2, although hubby may go. Trying to pick some books to keep me busy.

At the very moment, though, I'm finishing up Jon Ronson's latest, The Psychopath Test: A Journey Through the Madness Industry. I know I don't normally read a lot of nonfiction (foodie memoirs, mostly), but Ronson cracks me up. At this point, I would probably read just about anything he writes.

The journalist who brought us The Men Who Stare at Goats and Them: Adventures With Extremists, becomes curious about psychopaths and psychiatry when he is asked to investigate a strange manuscript that has been mailed to academics around the world. His digging leads him to a man he believes is responsible, a man he also believes may be a crackpot. At the same time, Ronson isn't sure how much faith to put into the industry as a whole. Are their diagnoses true and real?

As Ronson meets and speaks with folks inside the industry, folks labeled by the industry, and researches past treatment methods and their questionable effectiveness, the book becomes increasingly hilarious -- and disturbing!

Anyway, it's an entertaining read. Ronson is a smart man and an incredibly talented writer. I highly enjoy his written pieces (haven't seen any of his documentaries, though I'd like to).

For more on Ronson and The Psychopath Test, visit his website at: www.jonronson.com

And as an extra special bonus, here's the link to Jon Stewart's interview with Ronson.

As a side note, knowing that Ronson interviewed David Icke for Them means that I am now dying to read it. Google him, you'll see why.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Black Swan Rising by Lee Carroll

Hi, all. Can I just say that it has been a looooong week and I am really looking forward to that extra day off this weekend? 'Cause it's true.

Anyway, I have been making some slow progress in chipping away at the TBR stack thanks to the Literary Escapism NA Mini-Challenge this month, and I intend to continue knocking them out even though this is my last entry for the challenge.

After much debate, I chose Lee Carroll's "debut," Black Swan Rising, which was released last fall -- and I am so glad that I did. Debut is in quotes because technically it is Lee Carroll's debut, but Lee Carroll is actually husband and wife writing team Carol Goodman and Lee Slonimsky. And I've been a fan of Carol Goodman since I read The Ghost Orchid back in 2006.

When I saw that Goodman and her husband were collaborating on an urban fantasy, I had to have it. And I think I ordered it the same week it was released. And it sat in my TBR stack (sniff) until this weekend.

I have to say I'm a little glad that I waited. I thought it was fantastic and there's a second book in the series due out this August. So now I only have to wait about two months as opposed to if I'd read it last year and had to wait twelve. But I still shouldn't have let it flounder on my shelves for so long.

In the book, Garet (Margaret) James receives some bad news from the family lawyer one rainy afternoon. In a daze, she wanders into an antique store where an old man commissions her to open a silver box. You see, the box is welded shut and Garet is a jewelry maker who's recently been written up in the paper. Plus, the box is sealed with an old signet that exactly matches a ring Garet's mother gave her before she died. She takes the box home and opens it just before a group of men breaks in. Some paintings and the box are stolen and Garet's father ends up in the hospital. And this kicks off a strange series of events unlike anything Garet has ever experienced. Now, charged with saving New York, tracking down a magician, and learning all about her secret heritage, Garet's life will forever be changed.

Awesome! I mean it, super awesome! Urban fantasy at it's best. I love the setting and all of the characters (I have a special soft spot for Lol especially). The book is steeped in mythology and fairy tales, all of which come alive in the New York Lee Carroll has created here. I can't wait to get my hands on The Watchtower come August!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Hybrid Winner

Good morning, folks! We have a winner for Brian O'Grady's debut thriller, Hybrid:


Congrats, Dan! Thanks for reading, everyone. As I said, more contests to come, so keep watching.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Two Upcoming E-vents You Should Know About

E-vents are becoming all the rage in the publishing world. Here are two upcoming events you should know about.

This first event, Chevy Stevens, hosted by Booktrib, is tomorrow at 3pm et. Details above.

The second event is next Friday and features authors Julia Quinn and Elizabeth Boyle.


The ‘Traditional’ Book Signing Revolutionized:

New York Times Bestselling Authors Julia Quinn and Elizabeth Boyle

Featured in Streaming Online Book & Author Event

Friday, June 3, 2011; 7:00pm PST/ 10pm EST;

Live from Powell’s Books at Cedar Hills Crossing (Beaverton, OR)


New York Times bestselling authors Julia Quinn and Elizabeth Boyle headline a much-anticipated virtual book signing, powered by Vivo, taking place at 7:00pm PST on Friday June, 3, 2011. Veteran romance writers Quinn and Boyle will discuss their latest releases JUST LIKE HEAVEN and LORD LANGLEY IS BACK IN TOWN (respectively). Both authors with answer questions and sign copies for virtual event attendees, as well as those who attend live from Powell’s Books at Cedar Hills Crossing in Beaverton, OR. Information regarding the streaming event can be found online at www.avonromancelive.com.

“This is the seventh live-streaming event brought to fans by Avon Books,” says Senior Publicity Director Pam Jaffee. “Our recent ‘online signing’ from Turn the Page Bookstore in Boonsboro MD featured authors such as Nora Roberts and Jeaniene Frost, and was enjoyed by more than 1500 romance fans around the world via Livestream. Attendees travelled (virtually) from as far as Germany, Kenya, India, Pakistan, Ireland, Nigeria and Tunisia!”

What is an “untraditional” event in this day and age? These new streaming signings marry bricks-and-mortar with online; driving a dedicated digital fanbase to support stores at local independent booksellers.

“We’re eager to have Julia back,” says Regional Marketing and Publicity Manager of Powell’s Books Michal Drannen. “That she’s joined by Elizabeth Boyle, and that the evening will be streamed live makes the event doubly exciting. Fans of romance, this is one event you won’t want to miss!”

Readers can contact the skilled staff at Powell’s Books at Cedar Hills Crossing (503 228 4651) to order personalized copies of the participating authors’ newest titles. Newly released books from both authors include JUST LIKE HEAVEN by Julia Quinn and LORD LANGLEY IS BACK IN TOWN by Elizabeth Boyle.

More information is available online at www.livestream.com/romance andhttp://www.powells.com/biblio/2-9780061491900-42

Sunday, May 22, 2011

New Releases 5/ 24/11

Some of the new titles hitting shelves this week are:

Something Deadly This Way Comes by Kim Harrison

Beauty Queens by Libba Bray

The Girl in the Steel Corset by Kady Cross

Chasing the Moon by A. Lee Martinez

Blood Magic by Tessa Gratton

Awaken by Katie Kacvinsky

The Vampire Narcise by Colleen Gleason

The Arrivals by Meg Mitchell Moore

Secret of the White Rose by Stefanie Pintoff

Twenty-Five Books that Shaped America by Thomas C. Foster

The Devil She Knows by Bill Loehfelm

New on DVD:
Gnomeo and Juliet
I am Number Four
Forget Me Not

New reviews at Bookbitch.com:
Hybrid by Brian O'Grady
Wither by Lauren DeStefano

Friday, May 20, 2011

Body Count by P.D. Martin

I've been trying to clear some space in the TBR stack, and participating in Literary Escapism's latest Mini-Challenge, so I busted out P.D. Martin's debut Sophie Anderson title, Body Count. Martin is one of the latest additions to the Murderati lineup, sharing Sundays with Allison Brennan.

In the series, Sophie Anderson is a profiler from Australia who's recently transferred to the FBI. Her brother was kidnapped when she was a child, and she dreamed about it as it was happening. Now, her psychic abilities have resurfaced as a serial killer hits DC. When her friend and fellow agent, Sam, becomes the latest of the killer's victims, Sophie begins to test her ability in hopes that it will help her solve the case.

I like the premise of this series. And Sophie is a pretty good lead based on this first outing. I wasn't blown away, though. I thought the killer was obvious, but I wasn't sure if it was meant to be. Body Count is also a little more procedural than some of the other psychic investigators I've come across. The forensics explanations felt a little too informative, but given that the book was released in 2005 (2007 in the US), it could be that it was still early days of the forensics trend and the author felt it was necessary. I'm actually anxious to get to the follow up titles to see if some of this smooths out (which I expect it to seeing as this was Martin's debut).

I sort of feel like most of the issues (and let's admit it, they were small) come from this being a first book. I've got two more in the series in the TBR right now and am looking forward to getting back to Sophie and seeing what happens next. I think I want the series to be a little more seated in the psychic thing than the profiling right now, though.

There are now 5 (6 counting an ebook) books in the Sophie Anderson series:
Body Count
The Murderer's Club
Fan Mail
The Killing Hands
Kiss of Death
Coming Home

Body Count looks to be currently out of print. Some of the later titles are still available in paperback while others are ebook only at this point (have I mentioned that I hate that? I guess it's better than being completely out of print, but as someone who can't stand technology because it goes wrong at every possible, terrible moment, I've got no plans to invest in an ereader at this point.)

Thursday, May 19, 2011

If You Love Forensic Thrillers...

In 2006, I came across Simon Beckett's debut, Chemistry of Death. I thought it was amazing. The first in a new forensic series, Beckett's book managed to be fresh and new even amongst the plethora of forensics reads popping up all over bookstores. When Written in Bone was released a year later, I immediately ran out and bought a copy. Beckett maintained the pacing and newness that he'd established in Chemistry and I loved it. So when Whispers of the Dead landed on shelves in 2009, I was super excited. Apparently so were Scandinavian and German readers.

Unfortunately, Whispers of the Dead got lost in the shuffle of my TBR and moving. And then I saw that his latest in the series, The Calling of the Grave, has been recently released -- in the UK.

US readers are and have been missing out. While other forensic series have flourished here, the amazing Simon Beckett appears not to have done as well as the publisher had hoped. I can't find any US release date for Calling and so have pulled Whispers out of my TBR to be started today and called the ever reliable Cynthia of High Crimes to place an order for an import copy of Calling.

My brain is not so fabulous that I can pull a review of a 2006 book out of my hat, but I do happen to have a possibly spoiler free review of Written in Bone for you. Both Chemistry and Bone are available in paperback here and with all of the various resources available (Cynthia would be my rec) it's easier than ever to get your hands on a reasonably priced UK release now. If you're looking for a really top-notch and gritty forensic mystery, I'd highly recommend giving Beckett a try. Now I'm off to read Whispers of the Dead before my copy of Calling arrives!

After the events of The Chemistry of Death, Dr. David Hunter has returned to his calling as a forensic anthropologist. David is ready to go home after helping on a case in the Grampian highlands when he is called to yet another scene. It seems a body has been discovered on Runa, a small island off the coast of Scotland. Most of the official police force is tied up with a massive train wreck and they need David to examine the remains and determine whether it is in accidental death or something requiring further investigation. David grudgingly agrees, knowing that it will cause problems back home, but also realizing that his help is necessary given the circumstances. Upon arrival in Runa, David discovers that the circumstances surround the death certainly do warrant further serious investigation. In fact, David is certain that the body in question is the result of a homicide, but before the investigative team can arrive, a severe storm system cuts off all access to the island. What’s more, communication with the mainland also goes down and David finds himself trapped on the tiny island with a killer who is getting more desperate every day. Simon Beckett’s series is every bit as entertaining and well written as Kathy Reichs and Jefferson Bass’s respective series. Great for readers who can’t get enough of the forensic craze, or anyone looking for a well-plotted mystery.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Hybrid by Brian O'Grady -- and a Contest

Morning everyone. I have to apologize for the late post, but I didn't get any sleep last night. Probably in part because I was dying to know what was going to happen in the book I was reading! Ah, a book junkie's dilemma.

Today, I want to introduce you to a new author that should be on your "Must Read" list. Brian O'Grady, a neuro surgeon, whose debut thriller, Hybrid, is out now. (Yeah, this is the one that kept me up all night!)

In Hybrid, a number of violent deaths in Colorado Springs are being linked to a viral outbreak. The CDC has already looked into the case and says it's nothing big, but Amanda Flynn knows differently. Amanda Flynn has faced this virus herself and was the only one to come out alive. After, officials kept her and tested her to try and understand how she'd survived such a devastating outbreak. She was finally let go and has been on the run ever since. See, this new virus, EDH1, or Hybrid, begins like the flu, but causes violent outbursts, and for those who survive, like Amanda, powers they could never imagine. Amanda can sense another like herself, but unlike Amanda, this other has an agenda that could lead to a worldwide catastrophe.

It's clear that O'Grady knows his stuff, which when combined with a talent for prose, makes for the most believable and fun medical thrillers. Plus, this virus is wreaking havoc in my neighborhood (practically) down in Colorado Springs. Craziness!

For more on Brian O'Grady, visit his website at: www.brianjogrady.com or check out this great interview over at ITW's The Big Thrill.

Now for the fun part. I have one copy of Hybrid to give away courtesy of the publicist as part of the Hybrid blog tour (currently running). For a list of participants, visit the Booktrib blog here. Open to US only, no PO boxes please. All you have to do to enter is leave me a comment here (with your email addy, so I can contact you if you win) before midnight Tuesday, May 24. I'll randomly select a winner on Wednesday morning.

Good luck and happy reading!

The Midwife's Confession Winner!

Morning, all! By random number generator, the winner of Diane Chamberlain's latest, The Midwife's Confession, is:

Corri R.

Congrats, Corri R. and thanks to everyone who entered. I've got another contest post going up today and more to come down the line!

Monday, May 16, 2011

An Apocalypse to Lighten the Mood

Yeah, the only lightening up I did in my weekend reading, was to tackle a teen read. Subject-wise, still dark. Not a bad thing, though! I'll probably binge on chick-lit at some point, but I don't have any issue with continuing onto new, dark, fast-paced reads like Lauren DeStefano's teen debut, Wither.

And it's not really a post-apocalyptic book, to be precise. It's more of a post-outbreak/genetic disaster plot.

In the future, genetic manipulation has led to a stronger, healthier generation of children. But the life expectancy rates have taken a dive. Girls only live to be twenty and boys live to twenty-five. For years, scientists have searched for a solution, but many believe there's no hope. Sixteen-year-old twins, Rhine and Rowan, have been taking care of each other since their parents were killed. But when Rhine is kidnapped and forced to marry a wealthy Florida man, Rowan is left alone. Rhine can think of nothing other than escape and from day one, she begins to hatch a plan. In spite of the comforts offered to a girl in her position, Rhine is unwilling to be a token wife on the arm of some stranger.

I read Wither in one afternoon and knew that I was going to be on the edge of my seat when I turned the last page. It's the first in a projected trilogy and I'm dying to know what will happen next! But, we'll all have to wait. Book two in the Chemical Garden trilogy, Fever, is due out in February of next year.

And yes, Wither is a teen read, but one that definitely appeals to an adult market as well considering themes and characters. Now I'll have to see if my seesters agree with me!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

New Releases 5/17/11

Some of the new titles hitting shelves this week are:

Don't Breathe a Word by Jennifer McMahon

Graveminder by Melissa Marr

The Sweetness of Tears by Nafisa Haji

The Tender Mercy of Roses by Anna Michaels

American Pacifica by Anna North

The Jefferson Key by Steve Berry

Embassytown by China Mieville

The Passage by Justin Cronin (PB -- with teaser for book 2)

New on DVD:
The Roommate
The Rite
The Mechanic
Vanishing on 7th Street

New reviews at Bookbitch.com:
Don't Breathe a Word
The White Devil by Justin Evans
Love You More by Lisa Gardner
Hanging Hill by Mo Hayder
The Sweet Scent of Blood by Suzanne McLeod

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Pre-Pub Book Buzz: Don't Breathe A Word by Jennifer McMahon

I generally enjoy the books I read. In fact, it's rare that I don't like a book. But I do have to say that even among my favorites, I have my favorite favorites. Jennifer McMahon is one of these authors. An amazing writer who popped up just a couple years back with Promise Not to Tell, a book that was getting big, big buzz in the book world.

I discovered it on the Booksense (now Indiebound) list and searched it out so I could see what all the hype was about. You can read more about that here. So now, her latest, Don't Breathe a Word, is set for release on Tuesday and I was lucky enough to get my hands on an early copy. (Fangirl squeal!)

In the book, a twelve-year-old girl (Lisa) disappears. Fifteen years later, her brother and his girlfriend (Sam and Phoebe) receive a letter saying that she's back. After a weekend visit with Sam's cousin ends very strangely, Phoebe decides that she's going to unravel the mystery.

The story alternates between the present and fifteen years ago when Lisa disappeared. Lisa, who claimed that she'd met the king of the fairies, was entranced by a neighboring ghost town. She, Sam, and their cousin explored the ruins every chance they had. But someone started leaving gifts for Lisa and she swore it was the fairies. Present day, Phoebe has never had the kind of family Sam grew up with. The two are happy together, but Phoebe was there the day Lisa disappeared. She saw the sad little boy looking out his window. Phoebe, who used to fear the man under her bed, wants to know what Lisa found and where she went. Does the fairy king exist? Will he come for Phoebe next?

I'm purposely trying to be a bit cryptic, I really don't want to give away too much, so I'm trying to be careful how I phrase the synopsis. Trust me when I say that Don't Breathe a Word is really, really a fantastic and dark and twisted read.

Actually it was a week of satisfyingly twisted reads in my house. I may need to lighten it up a bit in the aftermath, but man this was a super reading week! I highly recommend all of McMahon's titles that I've read so far. Promise Not to Tell, Island of Lost Girls, and now Don't Breathe a Word are each amazing thrillers. Smart, well plotted, and hypnotically gripping! Also perfectly chilling even in the middle of a sunny afternoon.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

For Espionage Fans!

The second book in Eric van Lustbader's Jack McClure and Alli Carson is now out in paperback and Tor/Forge has a new book trailer out as well (see below).

Here's more about Last Snow:

New York Times bestselling sensation Eric Van Lustbader created the legendary Ninja and brought Jason Bourne into the twenty-first century. Last year, in First Daughter, Lustbader introduced street-smart ATF agent Jack McClure, who saved the President’s daughter from a criminal mastermind.

When an American senator who is supposed to be in the Ukraine turns up dead on the island of Capri, the President asks McClure to investigate. Jack sets out from Moscow across Eastern Europe, following a perilous trail of diplomats, criminals, and corrupt politicians. His task is complicated by two unlikely, unexpected, and incompatible companions---Annika, a rogue Russian FSB agent, and Alli, the President’s daughter.

Thrust into the midst of a global jigsaw puzzle, Jack’s unique dyslexic mind allows him to put together the pieces that others can’t even see. As he struggles to keep both young women safe and uncover the truth behind the senator’s death, Jack learns just how far up the American and Russian political ladders corruption and treachery have reached.

This is the second book to feature McClure and Carter, but I'm told that all three titles (First Daughter, Last Snow, and Blood Trust out this week) can each be read as stand alones as well as part of the series.

For more on each of the titles, visit:

Monday, May 9, 2011

A Sweet Scent of Blood -- Suzanne McLeod

A while back, I came across this video from Brit publisher Gollancz featuring a handful of their male and female authors duking it out, so to speak. And since I'm a book junkie, you know I'm always on the lookout for new, or new to me authors. Suzanne McLeod went on my wish list and was subsequently published here in the US, A Sweet Scent of Blood, first in the Spellcrackers series, was released here in April of last year and book two, The Cold Kiss of Death, was released just last month. Book three, The Bitter Seed of Magic, appears to be slated for release in December.

Last Friday, I wrapped up reading the first in this series. I have to say, I love McLeod's originality. It's vamps and fae and witches and trolls and other beings hanging out and living among us (in the UK).

Genevieve Taylor is a sidhe with a secret, she's also half vamp. But it's her heritage and her family secret that she's been trying to hide all this time. When the vamps come to Spellcrackers with a special request, Genny is assigned the case. It seems a local celebrity vamp has been accused of killing his girlfriend. That alone is not enough for Spellcrackers to step in, nevermind the fact that the witches and the vamps hate each other! No, the vamps suspect that magic is behind the killing and they want Genny to sniff out the spell, even though the local cops say no evidence of magic can be found. And this is when Genny really gets herself in trouble, aggravating local authorities, vamps, and the other "others" around her and landing her in a heap of trouble.

I have to admit I felt a little lost throughout this book. I kind of felt like I'd jumped into the middle of a series rather than the first installment. There's so much backstory, and so much that is obviously left to be revealed throughout the series, but I felt like I was missing something.

Book two is in the tbr and I hope that some of my own confusion is cleared away. I've read other reviews that are totally positive, so I'm guessing that it's my own personal mindset at the time of reading that's affecting me. All in all, though, setting, characters, and mythology are all stand out and different, which is a big plus.

A mixed review on my part, with a nod to the fact that it's probably just me.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

New Releases 5/10/11 b

Some of the new titles hitting shelves this week are:

The White Devil by Justin Evans

Those In Peril by Wilbur Smith

The Snowman by Jo Nesbo -- latest Harry Hole installment

Faith by Jennifer Haigh

The Rogue by Trudi Canavan -- second in the Traitor Spy trilogy

The Daughter of Siena by Marina Fiorato

Mind Storm by K.M. Ruiz

A Time For Patriots by Dale Brown

Buried Prey by John Sandford -- latest Lucas Davenport

What Happened to Goodbye by Sarah Dessen

In the Garden of Beasts by Erik Larson

Lies That Chelsea Handler Told Me by Chelsea Handler

Die For Me by Amy Plum

A Drop of the Hard Stuff by Lawrence Block (5/12)

New on DVD:
Black Death

New reviews at Bookbitch.com:
The Midwife's Confession by Diane Chamberlain

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Pre-Pub Book Buzz: The White Devil by Justin Evans

So I'm sure my husband will be disappointed, but I've got some fantastic reads in the TBR stack and we're supposed to have nice weather this weekend. I've got some hammock time penciled in for a relaxed reading marathon weekend!

New out this Tuesday is the second book by Justin Evans. A Good and Happy Child, Evans's debut that hit shelves back in 2007, blew me away and was one of my favorite reads of the year. Needless to say, when I saw he had a new release due out this year, I couldn't wait to get my hands on it.

Justin Evans’s chilling and inventive literary thriller,
THE WHITE DEVIL, takes readers inside the rarefied walls of one of England’s most exclusive public schools, where a 200-year-old mystery involving Lord Byron resurfaces to wreak modern-day terror. With this brilliantly-rendered blend of gothic horror, literary mystery, and sexual coming-of-age, Evans deftly fulfills the promise of his widely acclaimed debut, A Good and Happy Child, which critics called “stunning” (Publishers Weekly, starred review), “dazzling” (Chicago Tribune), “beautifully written and perfectly structured” (Washington Post).

Andrew Taylor is an American teenager who should be beginning college back in the States. But bad choices and behavior have led to the withdrawal of his acceptances, so instead he finds himself in England, where his perturbed father has arranged for him to spend a year of atonement at Harrow, the legendary school that has educated Britain’s elite for centuries. As the new boy in the awkward position of entering during the final year—and as an American, to boot—Andrew is swiftly subjected to his classmates’ derision. He manages to make one friend, a South African named Theo Ryder, but soon after they meet, Theo is found dead. The authorities rule the death a natural one, caused by a rare pulmonary ailment, but rumors circulate that Andrew, with his past history of drugs, had something to do with it.

Andrew, in fact, had nothing to do with Theo’s death, but he did have a disturbing vision—witnessing his friend being strangled to death by a strange, white-blond man. Frightened and confused, Andrew at first tells no one what he believes he has seen. Meanwhile, he is recruited to play the lead part of Lord Byron in a new play, commissioned by the school to honor its famed alumnus. The playwright is Andrew’s housemaster, Piers Fawkes, a famous poet whose once brilliant career has fallen to alcoholism and despair. Andrew is recruited for the play by another housemaster’s daughter, Persephone Vine, who is struck by his uncanny resemblance to the Romantic poet.

Pleased to find a niche of acceptance in the stratified caste system of Harrow, Andrew begins rehearsing for the play and engages in a cagey flirtation with Persephone. But happiness is short-lived, as he is haunted by new dreams and visions, tinged with violence and sexual frisson, and all involving this strange blond boy. Andrew finally confides in Fawkes, who also begins to experience eerie sensations. Enlisting the research aid of the school’s archivist, Andrew and Fawkes identify the apparition as John Harness, who has been dead for two hundred years. Harness, they discover, was a scholarship boy who fell under the protection of his fellow student, Byron, and became the future poet’s lover. Fawkes is invigorated by this literary discovery, convinced it will revitalize his career. But more pressing are the jealous horrors that Harness will unleash, pitting Andrew in a fight to save his own life and those at of his compatriots, as well.

Justin Evans, who attended Harrow School for one year, fills THE WHITE DEVIL with letter-perfect details about the peculiar culture of this sequestered society. A masterful storyteller, he once again achieves what Tom Perrotta admired about his first novel, offering “a literary horror story that’s deeply intelligent, beautifully written, and seriously chilling.”

The White Devil officially hits shelves on May 10. A Good and Happy Child is out in paperback.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

The Midwife's Confession by Diane Chamberlain -- And A Giveaway

When the folks over at MediaMuscle asked if I would be interested in participating in a blog tour for Diane Chamberlain's latest, The Midwife's Confession, I was a bit excited. I've never read Chamberlain before now, but I love finding new authors, and the premise of her latest was intriguing. So I said yes. And here it is, plus a giveaway! For your chance to win a copy of The Midwife's Confession, keep reading. Dets below.

Chamberlain is the award-winning author of twenty novels. According to her bio, she's worked as a hospital social worker and a psychotherapist, and her first book was started in a doctor's waiting room back in the 80s. Her experience has certainly given her a keen insight into people, their emotions, their motivations, and universal struggles, all apparent in the characters of The Midwife's Confession.

When Noelle Downie commits suicide, those around her, including her best friends Emerson and Tara, are shocked. Noelle, a midwife by trade and a force within their community -- supporting and creating programs to help parents and newborns -- was the last person anyone expected to take her own life. But as Emerson and Tara soon learn, Noelle was hiding some dark secrets in her past. Secrets that affect Emerson and Tara, in fact. Secrets that weighed on Noelle and brought her to her breaking point.

Wow! This was an intense and emotional read. Really one that begged to be finished in one sitting -- and I did. Chamberlain touches on some very sensitive issues in this book as well, issues that all contribute to Noelle's tale. Chapters alternate from character to character, giving readers a look at things from literally all sides of the story.

If you're unfamiliar with Chamberlain, as I was, The Midwife's Confession is a great starting point. Readers who enjoy dramatic women's fiction with a touch of suspense and characters that literally come to life on the page are sure to enjoy this book. I have to say this is certainly not going to be my last read by Chamberlain, folks.

The folks at MediaMuscle are letting me give away one copy of The Midwife's Confession here on the blog. Simply leave me a comment here (with email) before midnight, Tuesday, May 17 (US only please). On Wednesday, May 18, I'll draw one random winner who will get their very own copy of Diane Chamberlain's latest. And, if you tweet or cross post about this giveaway, send me a link and I'll enter your name a second time.

Good luck and happy reading! And thanks to Tricia for allowing me to participate in the tour.

(Check out this trailer created by John Pagliuca Productions)

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Now Entering the House of Night

Yes, I've finally started PC and Kristin Cast's wildly popular teen House of Night series. After one installment in, I'm intrigued and anxious to begin book two.

Marked introduces Zoey Redbird, recently Marked and now a fledgling sent to live at the House of Night. In Zoey's world, vampires (vampyres) are very real. Being Marked by one does not mean the end, though for Zoey it may seem that way, socially anyway. But at the House of Night, everyone is like her. Or not. See, Zoey is different and it's this that makes her stand out. And no new kid wants to stand out!

I know, I've not given you much to go on here. I thought this was a great start to the series and I don't want to give too much away. I love the twist on the vampire mythology that the Casts have incorporated. I also think that this particular book had a great pacing that sets the momentum nicely for what I expect in the books to come.

As teen series go, it's not a totally unique premise, but one that I enjoy (boarding schools for the paranormal). And for this adult reader, it was an entertaining read. So, in my view, perfect for the teen set and a nice crossover potential for adults who enjoy YA paranormals.

More to come as I continue the series!

Sunday, May 1, 2011

New Releases 5/03/11

Some of the new titles hitting shelves this week are:

Prophecy by S.J. Parris

The Butterfly's Daughter by Mary Alice Monroe

Zombies Don't Cry by Rusty Fischer

Dead Reckoning by Charlaine Harris -- Sookie Stackhouse #11

Sixkill by Robert B. Parker -- Spenser #39

Bite Club by Rachel Caine -- latest Morganville Vampires installment

Divergent by Veronica Roth

If You Ask Me: And of Course You Won't by Betty White

Hard Bitten by Chloe Neill -- Chicagoland Vampires

Shift by Jeri Smith-Ready

The Delta Solution by Patrick Robinson

Story of a Beautiful Girl by Rachel Simon

The Reading Promise: My Father and the Books We Shared by Alice Ozma

Exposure by Therese Fowler

The Year We Left Home by Jean Thompson

New on DVD:
The Green Hornet
The Dilemma

New reviews at Bookbitch.com:
Burn Down the Sky by James Jaros
The President's Vampire by Christopher Farnsworth
The Ice Princess by Camilla Lackberg