Monday, July 30, 2012

A Bad Day for Voodoo by Jeff Strand

Have you ever wished you could get revenge for some unfair or undeserved occurrence? Considering it's a Monday, I'd say quite a few of us have probably imagined paying someone back their due in response to some misdeed of one kind or another. Jeff Strand's story of revenge and voodoo is one I think ranks up there as a pretty perfect Monday read!

It wasn't fair that Tyler got a zero for cheating, especially since Tyler didn't cheat. But his teacher doesn't care at all and has no interest in even considering Tyler's side of the story. Tyler's friend Adam is ready to help plan the perfect revenge and comes up with what he thinks is a brilliant idea: a voodoo doll. Sure that the thing will never work, Tyler gives it a poke during class. The result is not quite what either of the teens expected. Instead of a sharp pain, the teacher loses his entire leg! Blood spurts everywhere and students are screaming and passing out. Insanity! Now Tyler has to see if the maker of the doll can do anything to help but before he can make it to the shop, he's waylaid by thugs, cannibals, a zombie, shootouts... complete and utter madness.

Strand's hilarious teen horror is quirky and unbelievably entertaining. I have no doubt that it will please his adult fans just as much as the teens it's intended for. A Bad Day for Voodoo is pure fun! I think Strand had to have had just as much fun writing this one as I did reading it. As the story progresses and becomes more and more ridiculous, I found myself laughing out loud and completely forgetting all the mess that had put me in a bad mood -- 'cause, yes, I did pick up A Bad Day for Voodoo in hopes that it would help alleviate some stress and tension and it most definitely delivered on all counts!

So if you're in the mood for some B-movie horror fun, A Bad Day for Voodoo is perfect... whether you're a teen or an adult.

New Releases 7/31/12

Some of the new titles hitting shelves are:

You Don't Want to Know by Lisa Jackson

Whispers Underground by Ben Aaronovitch

Off the Grid by PJ Tracy

Miss Me When I'm Gone by Emily Arsenault

Ten Girls to Watch by Charity Shumway

Night Forbidden by Joss Ware (Envy series)

Thy Neighbor by Norah Vincent

What the Nanny Saw by Fiona Neil

The Wild Princess by Mary Hart Perry

The Light Between Oceans by ML Stedman

All Seeing Eye by Rob Thurman

Chimera by TC McCarthy

The Care and Handling of Roses With Thorns by Margaret Dilloway

The Trinity Game by Sean Chercover

Lake Country by Sean Doolittle

Triburia by Karl Taro Greenfeld

In the Shadow of the Banyan by Vaddey Hatner

The Holden Age of Hollywood by Phil Brody

Destiny by Gillian Shields

New reviews at Bookbitch.com:
Hell or High Water by Joy Castro
Stolen by Kelley Armstrong

Friday, July 27, 2012

Shadow Show ed by Sam Weller and Mort Castle

Today I'm part of the TLC blog tour for the new Ray Bradbury inspired anthology Shadow Show edited by Sam Weller and Mort Castle. This collection has simply blown me away and I can't recommend it highly enough!

Each contributor, in addition to their story, shares a little piece of their Ray Bradbury history: how he influenced and inspired them and, in some cases, personally encouraged them in their writing. And so I'll share a tiny bit of my own Bradbury memory:

When I was a freshman in high school, I wrote a paper on Ray Bradbury. When I was even younger than that, I can remember staying up super late and catching episodes of Ray Bradbury Theater on tv. Something Wicked This Way Comes was a staple in my childhood movie watching as well and I have my mom's old paperback copy on my bookshelf. I've never read Fahrenheit 451. In fact, I'd say that I've read less than half of Bradbury's accumulated works over my lifetime -- I need to get to reading! -- but The Illustrated Man remains one of my favorite collections and the latest edition holds pride of place on my bedside table, ready at hand for when I need a dose of Ray.

Bradbury has always amazed me. His short stories in particular are fascinating bites of entertainment that astound and entertain readers of all ages, from all walks of life. This collection is proof of that as well. Authors of every genre have come together to pay tribute to Bradbury, bringing to life their own stories inspired by Bradbury's work. Neil Gaiman, Joe Hill, Alice Hoffman, Dave Eggers and so many more contributed to the collection.

These stories - like Bradbury's - are poignant and beautiful as well as creepy and disturbing. And like Bradbury's work, the stories in Shadow Show range in genre, style, tone, and subject. Some, like Margaret Atwoood's "Headspace" are dark science fiction reads and others, like Thomas F. Monteleone's "The Exchange" are more nostalgic pieces. Each tale serves as a great homage to a fantastic writer who sadly passed away just weeks before the release.

Bradbury's body of work is so vast and wonderful, I really believe -- and truly hope -- that it will survive the test of time, continuing to inspire readers and writers for generations to come. I also hope that works like this one will pique readers' interests and drive, say, a Neil Gaiman fan to seek out The Martian Chronicles, or an Audrey Niffeneger fan to run out and buy a collection with "The Playground" after reading this book.

Whether you come to Shadow Show because you're a Bradbury fan or because you're a fan of one or more of the contributors, it doesn't matter. It's what you walk away with that counts and I think everyone will walk away with a sense of wonderment and a greater appreciation for a writer who has proven to be one of the best of all time.

For more stops on the tour, visit the official TLC tour page here.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Losing Clementine by Ashley Ream

What would you do if you had just thirty days to live? Clementine Pritchard is faced with just that question. In one month, Clementine will kill herself. She's got it all planned out, down to the nitty gritty details. She wants to wrap things up and she doesn't want it to be a burden on anyone.

Clementine has a history and challenges. But surprisingly LOSING CLEMENTINE doesn't become a big pity party or afterschool special. Ream's leading lady is snarky and funny and the book brings up some interesting questions in an unexpected way. It's hard not to love Clementine and Ashley Ream is definitely an author to watch!

I have to apologize because I apparently forgot to post this review! It's been sitting in draft form since I wrote it. (My Bookbitch review ran when I originally read the book back in March.) It's never too late for a book review and a reading recommendation, though :)

My reading has been a bit insane of late. I'm hopping around according to mood and reviews and formats (I now have an audio going for walks and such and I also have a brand new ereader that I've so far been using to read at night thanks to a dead bedside lamp and the fact that said device has a nighlight function). That and I've been spending a lot of wasted time watching crap on tv. Literally flipping channels. Ah well. It's a mood thing. My reading will swing back like it always does. I'm in the middle of a great short story collection at the moment, which always does wonders when I'm indecisive -- a little bit of this and a little bit of that is kind of perfect when I'm in a wishy washy state.

I've also got some superb looking titles in my TBR stack -- books suited for every mood and taste you can imagine.

For fellow moody readers, I'd say folks looking for a great quirky character driven novel will love Losing Clementine. It's a quick read that gives you a curious, and I've heard quite appropriate, look inside the mind of someone battling mental illness. And it's pretty darn funny throughout.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

15 Seconds by Andrew Gross

I'm excited to be part of the TLC blog tour for Andrew Gross's latest, 15 Seconds! If you're looking for a great, fast-paced thriller, Andrew Gross is your man!

A routine traffic stop turns out to be anything but for Henry Steadman. The plan was to get the rental car, check in to the hotel, and play some golf before the Doctors Without Borders conference began. But on the way to the hotel, Steadman gets lost. He's pulled over for running a red light and things take a weird turn. Before he knows it, he's in the back of a police cruiser, cuffed and being yelled at by an irate officer. When the fuss dies down, the officer admits it was a case of mistaken identity and is about to let Steadman go on a warning when a second car pulls up and the cop is shot. Now Steadman's friend is dead as well and the doctor is running for his life. His only hope is untangling the web he's now caught up in and finding the real killer before it's too late. 

Everyone always wants to know where an author gets their ideas and the story behind this one is kind of a whopper! I'll let Andrew tell you about it himself:

Trust me (and the many, many others who have said it) when I say this is definitely a one-sitting read. The pacing is excellent and the intensity level of the story makes it the kind of read that you literally can't put down.

Gross is the author of five other solo novels:

The Blue Zone
The Dark Tide (Ty Hauck #1)
Don't Look Twice (Ty Hauck #2)
Reckless (Ty Hauck #3)
Eyes Wide Open

Gross also cowrote a number of books with James Patterson.

For more on Andrew Gross and his work, check out his official website (link above). You can also like him on Facebook and follow him on Twitter.

To visit other stops on the tour, visit the official TLC tour page here. I've got a couple of cool extras for you as well: Gross's publisher has prepared a Reading Group Guide for 15 Seconds. And Andrew was a guest on Booktrib's live chat last week. If you missed it, you can watch the whole thing here.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Charlotte Markham and the House of Darkling by Michael Boccacino

I've been in the mood for some dark and strange reads of late and I have to say that my TBR has delivered! Over the past week, I finished up a Joe Hill and I had an early shot at Michael Boccacino's fabulous debut, Charlotte Markham and the House of Darkling, which hits shelves tomorrow.

The Darrow family has suffered great loss of late -- Mrs. Darrow passed away after a long battle with illness and the boy's nanny has recently been murdered, Charlotte Markham, the new governess, steps up as surrogate nanny in addition to her position, determined to do what's best for the boys. After all, Charlotte herself knows great loss as well. While exploring the woods one day, Charlotte and the boys come across a strange house. The House Darkling exists in a different world, one in which Mrs. Darrow lives, serving as a governess herself. Charlotte agrees to return with the boys, allowing them to spend more time with their mother, but as Charlotte learns more about House Darkling and The Ending -- the world in which Darkling exists -- she becomes convinced that severing the connection between the worlds might be in everyone's best interest.

This is a wonderfully weird debut filled with fantastical and horrific imagery. It's hard to believe that this is Boccacino's debut as his creation in the Ending and House of Darkling is both magical and brilliant. I can find no fault in this book and would happily and highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys dark fantasy.

Markham is definitely going down on my list as one of my favorite 2012 releases. One of the cool things Boccacino does (in addition to building a great story and a truly original and intriguing world) is the inclusion of short stories. This is something a few of my other favorite authors have done and it can be quite effective as well as wholly creative (John Harwood in The Ghost Writer, Susannah Clarke in Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell, and Carlos Ruiz Zafon in The Shadow of the Wind - though I can't recall if he included the stories or just mention of them). Interestingly, Boccacino's PS portion of the book includes reading recommendations and Jonathan Strange makes his list.

I did a happy dance when this book arrived and was happily entrenched in the book from beginning to end. I highly recommend running out tomorrow and tracking down a copy if you're looking for a really fabulous new read!

Sunday, July 22, 2012

New Releases 7/24/12

Some of the new titles hitting shelves this week are:

Charlotte Markham and the House of Darkling by Michael Boccacino

Thirteen by Kelley Armstrong

The Book of Tomorrow by Cecelia Ahern (pb)

Technomancer by BV Larson

Buried on Avenue B by Peter De Jonge

A Simple Thing by Kathleen McCleary

Broken Harbor by Tana French

The Thing About Thugs by Tabish Khair

Where We Belong by Emily Giffin

Black List by Brad Thor

Judgement Call by JA Jance (Joanna Brady series)

Let the Devil Sleep by John Verdon

Something Strange and Deadly by Susan Dennard

Endlessly by Kierstan White

New reviews at Bookbitch.com:
Charlotte Markham and the House of Darkling
What You Wish For by Kerry Reichs

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Keepsake by Kristina Riggle

Trish is a single mom doing her best to raise two kids while working full time. But Trish also has a big problem: Trish is a hoarder. She managed to hide the problem from outsiders until her youngest son, Jack, was injured when a stack of things toppled over on him. The doctor reported Trish and now she's faced with cleaning out the clutter or facing court and possibly losing Jack. Her oldest son, Drew, has already left because of the mess and Trish can't bear losing both of her boys. But as much as Trish would love to deny it, the hoarding is more than just mess she doesn't have time to take care of. In a last ditch effort to help, Drew approaches Trish's sister, Mary, asking her to lend a hand in the clean up effort. Though Mary and Trish have a strained relationship, Mary has seen first hand what hoarding can do to a person. As the family comes together to support Trish, everyone must eventually face the issues that have brought them here. 

I see sawed quite a bit with this book. Riggle's writing and pacing are fine. In fact, the story moved along quite quickly. I had a hard time sympathizing with Trish throughout the story though. At one point I'd be fine and in her corner and then I'd find myself getting aggravated. Trish is so defensive -- like the people you see on an actual episode of Hoarders actually. Considering I'm not a fan of the show, I guess you can see why I'd struggle with Trish. 

Fortunately, Riggle was able to pull me back into the story each time I started to waffle. By the time the women start to get some insight into their mother's background, I was pretty invested in the tale and settled in to read to the end. 

Though this is my first outing with Kristina Riggle's work, this is not her first release. Riggle is the author of Things We Didn't Say, The Life You've Imagined, and Real Life & Liars

For other thoughts on the book, check out the TLC tour page here for links to the other stops. For more on Riggle and her work visit her website here, like her on Facebook, or follow her on Twitter

Kristina Riggle will discuss Keepsake on Book Club Girl on Air on Wednesday, July 25 at 7 pm ET.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Stolen by Kelley Armstrong

I'm continuing my Women of the Otherworld catch-up reading!

This second in the Women of the Otherworld series finds Elena Michaels held captive by a reclusive genius intent on studying Elena and others like her. Elena is surprised to learn of the other races that inhabit our world. Even more surprising is the fact that these races band together to protect themselves from events like this one. While investigating a potential leak in werewolf intelligence, Elena meets her first witches: Ruth and Paige Winterbourne. These two coven witches are intent on alerting the weres of the danger posed by Ty Winsloe, an internet entrepreneur who is behind a string of kidnappings amongst the races. It is the Winterbournes' hope that the weres will join with them in their attempt to overthrow Winsloe and save the others. But it's only when Elena herself falls victim to Winsloe's whims that the Pack becomes involved.

Having skipped around a bit in the series, it's interesting now to return to the beginning and see how some of these characters were introduced. I love the different races that are included in the series and am glad that Armstrong expanded beyond the werewolves alone. While Elena and her Pack are interesting, the fact that almost each installment in the series focuses on someone new and introduces new elements to the world keep the series fresh and interesting.

Now, you guys should know that there's pretty much no way I'll get through the whole series before Thirteen releases, especially not now that I've read The Hunter and the Hunted especial!

This post Thirteen e special features two shorts and a sample of the upcoming finale in the series. 

In Stalked, which was previously printed in the collection My Big, Fat Supernatural Honeymoon, Clayton and Elena have finally taken a break and an official honeymoon. Clay's doing his best to make it as special as he can even if that means hiding the fact that a mutt is tailing them. If he can deal with the man on his own, Elena will be none the wiser. 

Off-Duty Angel finds Eve Levine on a special mission, tracking a shaman as a favor for Kristof. Then the shaman leads Eve to a potentially huge find and she's willing to do what it takes to make sure it's hers. 

And, of course, the teaser sample of Thirteen, the first seven chapters of the big, big series finale everyone has been waiting for. I couldn't help it. I had to dive in and now I'm waiting anxiously for the book to hit shelves so I can continue! Absolute torture!

You should know that Kelley Armstrong is running a promo on her site pertaining to the especial. I'm not sure how long it will run, but if you buy the especial and send her your receipt, she's got some special edition bookmarks. Check it out and remember Thirteen hits shelves on 7/24!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Dust Girl by Sarah Zettel

Slow Run, Kansas is a backwater barely-town suffering greatly in the wake of the Great Depression. Dust storms rage and businesses are drying up. Callie and her mother live in and run the old Imperial Hotel. While it was once glamorous and busy, the Hotel is now crumbling and failing. But Callie and her mother have stayed in spite of it all. In spite of the dust that has settled in Callie's lungs. In spite of the lack of money and the struggle to keep the place running. And in spite of the fact that almost no one stops in Slow Run these days. They trudge along in hopes that Callie's father will keep his promise and return to them. Then, in a fit of desperation, Callie's mother calls on her to attempt to reach out to her father through means Callie doesn't even understand. Rather than bring her father home, Callie instead loses her mother as well. In order to get her back, Callie must travel West to California. But along the way, Callie will learn that everything she's come to believe may indeed be wrong. For Callie is far from normal and her life will soon be filled with magic and creatures beyond belief.

One thing everyone seems to agree on with Sarah Zettel's Dust Girl is that it's strange. I found it wonderfully imaginative! It brought to mind the magic of The Wizard of Oz and The Odyssey a la Oh, Brother Where Art Though. What's more, I found the setting to be completely unique and fabulous!

Fairies in Dust Bowl, Kansas. Oh, my! The only other Dust Bowl era fantasy I can recall coming across so far is Robert Jackson Bennett's Mr. Shivers. I'm sure (or I hope) there are others who have taken advantage of this time period and setting but none comes to mind. If it's truly that under exploited as a setting, I do hope that it will be taken advantage of more in the coming years.

Now Dust Girl is a YA fantasy and the first in the American Fairy Trilogy. Zettel does draw on some other inspirations that I'm sure many readers in the target audience will not be familiar with. The most blatantly obvious (and I caught it but it was also mentioned in the Author's Note) is They Shoot Horses, Don't They. I've not read Horace McCoy's book but I did randomly come across the film one evening. It's a truly strange and dark story. It sprang to mind the instant Callie comes across the flier for the dance marathon and I was pleased as punch that I recognized it.

My point in all this is that Dust Girl, as odd a story as it is, worked for me. It was different from anything else I'd come across and I found it highly entertaining. But I kind of like weird.

This is Zettel's first official teen release. She is the author of a number of previous fantasy novels but this is my first read by her.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Love is Murder Winner!

Congrats to DonnaS, the winner of the LOVE IS MURDER giveaway. Thanks to all who entered!

What You Wish For by Kerry Reichs

Morning, all! I'm super excited to be participating in the TLC blog tour for Kerry Reichs's latest, What You Wish For. First, I completely adored this book! Second, I've been a fan of Kerry's mom's books (Kathy Reichs) for ages and while the two write totally different stuff, I was definitely stoked to give Kerry a try.

Dimple Bledsoe is a well-known television actress facing a dilemma: although her resume says she's 36, Dimple is closer to 40 and fears that if she waits much longer she'll miss out on motherhood. She'd hoped to meet Mr. Right and start a family the traditional way, but it looks as though that may not happen. Meanwhile, Wyatt Ozols had also hoped to settle down and have a family and, like Dimple, it just hasn't worked out. Wyatt's not one to let that get him down, he's ready for kids and has decided to go the adoption route. Unfortunately, the atypical situation of a single man looking to adopt may not work out in his favor.  

Maryn Windsor is a survivor. She beat breast cancer all on her own -- her husband left in the middle of treatment -- and now she wants to be a mom. Maryn and her ex proactively froze embryos in the event that the cancer treatment left her unable to conceive, but now Maryn needs her ex's permission to use them and the situation soon becomes the focus of a heated political debate. 

Eva Lytton is a highly successful agent facing a much different situation: she doesn't want kids. The problem is that every man Eva meets does. 

Each of them is facing tough decisions and odds that seem to be against them, but each of them is determined to win out in the end. And some of them will find connections with each other that may prove to be additional challenges or provide them with much needed support. 

What You Wish For features an ensemble cast of characters each facing the issue of children. They each have their own problems, their own unique needs, and their own coping mechanisms. At various points in the book, I found myself siding with and rooting for each one. I really don't want to give away too much though since getting to know each of them yourself is the best part.

Reichs also cleverly links the characters in some unexpected ways. Yes, Wyatt and Eva are cousins. Yes, Eva works in the same industry as Dimple. But the unexpected ways they each come together are part of the fun of the story.

What You Wish For is an emotional read filled with lovely and loving characters. Definitely a heart-wrenching read given the subject, but also a fun one that remains mostly upbeat throughout.

Visit the TLC tour page here for all the rest of the stops on the What You Wish For blog tour. And for more on Kerry and her work, visit her official site (linked at the top), you can also like her on Facebook and follow her on Twitter.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

New Releases 7/17/12

Some of the new titles hitting shelves this week are:

What I Did by Christopher Walking

Close Your Eyes by Iris Johansen and Roy Johansen

Sharps by KJ Parker

The Coldest War by Ian Tregillis

21st Century Dead ed by Christopher Golden

Tigers in Red Weather by Liza Klaussmann

Earth Unaware by Orson Scott Card and Aaron Johnston

The Trust by Norb Vonnegut

Third Grave Dead Ahead by Darynda Jones (pb)

Them or Us by David Moody (pb)

Kill Decision by Daniel Suarez

Perfect is Overrated by Karen Bergreen

Hell or High Water by Joy Castro

When in Doubt, Add Butter by Beth Harbison

Shine, Shine, Shine by Lydia Netzer

The Fallen Angel by Daniel Silva

Creole Belle by James Lee Burke

The Sandcastle Girls by Chris Bohjalian

Spark by Amy Kathleen Ryan

New on DVD:
Salmon Fishing in Yemen
Casa De Mi Padre
Friends With Kids

New reviews at Bookbitch.com:
Bitten by Kelley Armstrong
Bitter Seeds by Ian Tregillis
Dust Girl by Sarah Zettel
This is Not a Test by Courtney Summers
A Bad Day for Voodoo by Jeff Strand

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Dark Companion by Marta Acosta

When Jane Williams is chosen to receive a full scholarship to Birch Grove Academy, it seems things are finally looking up. An orphan since she was six, Jane has been shuffled around from home to home in the foster system for years. After the death of a good friend, Jane decides to buckle down and let an education be her way out. And now it is. But there's something strange about Birch Grove and the longer Jane is there, the more she realizes this new life may not be salvation at all. 

Marta Acosta has built a wonderful homage to Bronte in this unique and twisted version of Jane Eyre. Laced with quotes from classic gothic literature and filled with chilling atmosphere, Dark Companion is an all new and original tale contains just enough of the classic for fans to recognize. 

Just about anything promised to be gothic in nature will make it into my must read stack. I can't help it -- I love it! Even better when the book turns out to live up to those promised expectations, too. Dark Companion most definitely did turn out as I'd hoped. In fact, I found it to be dark and chilling and more than a little unsettling, to be totally honest. It made for a devilishly delicious read.

Jane was not what I'd expected. In fact, from the first page I knew that she would not be the typical teen heroine. She lives in the 'hood and her best friend makes a living on the street corner. Jane is tough and knows real life horror. She's not a shrinking violet and she knows how to handle herself in a bad situation -- a sort of modern day Jane Eyre for sure.

It's clear that Acosta has put a lot of heart and planning into this book. As I said, it's got pieces of Jane Eyre that readers who are looking for them will easily find. But it's not at all a modern day retelling. Not even close. More a tribute to the elements that made Eyre and the other gothic pieces mentioned in the book the classics that they are today. I know that Dark Companion will be a hit with teens and adults alike. I hope that both sets of readers will get a taste for gothic lit and seek out some of the works mentioned in Dark Companion as well.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Record Your Fan Fiction at Comic Con

Hi, all! If you're lucky enough to be attending Comic-Con this week, I have some interesting news for you. Random House is running a contest for fan fiction authors and the prize is a recorded audio book of their work! Here are the dets:

Random House Audio Invites Fan Fiction Authors to Record Their Stories at Comic-Con International in San Diego

One story will be selected by RH Audio producers to be recorded professionally and streamed online

NEW YORK, NY (July 2, 2012)—At this year’s Comic-Con International in San Diego, CA, Random House Audio will be recreating an audiobook studio right on the convention floor--inviting authors of fan fiction to record a sample of their work for a chance to have their story recorded and released as a digital audiobook.

Stories from the following fandoms are eligible for the contest:

Star Wars®
The Inheritance Cycle by Christopher Paolini
Percy Jackson and the Olympians by Rick Riordan
The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer

Aspiring authors (who must be legal residents of the U.S. and 18 years or older) can sign up for a time slot to record their five-minute sample during the convention, July 12-15 at the San Diego Convention Center. Random House Audio producers will listen to the entries (no mashups, please) and select one to be professionally recorded and mixed by Random House Audio for streaming at www.randomhouseaudio.com. The grand prize winner and five runner-ups will have clips from their stories featured on the Random House Audio weekly podcast.

Sessions will be available Thursday through Saturday, July 12-14, from 10am-12pm and 1pm to 4pm at the Random House Audio booth #1515. Registration for morning slots is open now through July 10 atwww.randomhouseaudio.com, and afternoon slots will be available for same-day sign ups beginning at 9am the first day of the con on a first-come, first-served basis.  

Don’t see your fandom included on the list above? Sunday, July 15 is Open Mic Day! Fans of other series will get their chance to record their stories as well from 11am to 3pm and enter to win a collection of audiobooks.

Even if you’re not a writer, be sure to stop by the Random House Audio booth (#1515) for exclusive Comic-Con giveaways, including buttons, posters, headphones and mini microphone recorders.

For complete contest rules, click here.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

New Releases 7/10/12

Some of the new titles hitting shelves this week are:

Shadow of Night by Deborah Harkness

The Prisoner of Heaven by Carlos Ruiz Zafon

15 Seconds by Andrew Gross

Playing With Matches by Carolyn Wall

The Homecoming of Samuel Lake by Jenny Wingfield

Flight From Berlin by David John

Getting Over Mr. Right by Chrissie Manby

The Last Policeman by Ben H. Winters

Some Kind of Fairy Tale by Graham Joyce

Year Zero by Rob Reid

Size 12 & Ready to Rock by Meg Cabot

House of Shadows by Rachel Neumeier

Shadow Show ed by Sam Weller and Mort Castle

The Girl in the Blue Beret by Bobbie Ann Mason (pb)

The Time in Between by Maria Duenas (pb)

City of the Dead by Daniel Blake

Albert of Adelaide by Howard L. Anderson

The Great Escape by Susan Elizabeth Phillips

On the Island by Tracey Garvis Graves

The Crowded Grave by Martin Walker

I, Michael Bennett by James Patterson & Michael Ledwidge

The After Wife by Gigi Levangie Grazer

Back Fire by Catherine Coulter

Night Watch by Linda Fairstein

Seraphina by Rachel Hartman

The Little Woods by McCormick Templeman

Artemis Fowl: The Last Guardian by Eoin Colfer

Such a Rush by Jennifer Echols

Diva by Jillian Larkin

Friday, July 6, 2012

My beef over Jack Reacher

Hollywood and publishing have a curious relationship. For an industry that is constantly searching for new movie fodder, it would seem that publishing is a virtual candy shop of options. And it is. These days, popular titles get signed for the big screen even before they go to print. In a lot of instances, rights will be purchased and adaptations will never come to fruition for a variety of reasons. For those that do make it through the process, most of the authors have very little input or say with regards to any aspect of the adaptation (I say most because there have been cases where authors have a lot of input and rare cases where the author actually gets to put together the screenplay based on their work).

Sometimes the adaptation works and is true to the original tale, sometimes it isn't. It's the nature of the beast.

As a reader who also happens to be a huge movie buff, any adaptation news comes with a mixed sense of excitement and trepidation on my part: Are they going to do the book justice? Will it do well? Who will they cast to play my favorite characters?

It's this last one that really irks my nerves, though, and shows just how clueless Hollywood can sometimes be.

The first official trailer for Jack Reacher is out. This is a project that has had me gritting my teeth with frustration for some time now. Fans of the series are generally displeased with the casting of Tom Cruise as Reacher. He's wrong for the part. He's fine for a general action movie, but he's not Reacher. That's just the way it is. It seems to me though that Hollywood doesn't really give a fig about fans of the series. A bestselling and longtime series. One that Hollywood still assumes needs a big name attached to in order to draw viewers? Wha?

And the title -- Jack Reacher -- is cheeseball to the extreme. I know the idea is to create a Reacher franchise so what, will the next movie be called Jack Reacher 2. Lame.

I have absolutely no doubt that moviegoers unfamiliar with the Lee Child series will enjoy this movie. I also have no doubt that fans of the books will go see it. We're all curious. Even I know the movie will probably be good. Regardless, it will still be a disappointment because it will not live up to my expectations as a fan of the series.

And I repeat, Hollywood doesn't seem to care.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

The Prisoner of Heaven by Carlos Ruiz Zafon

Morning, everyone! I'm on the TLC blog tour for Carlos Ruiz Zafon's latest, The Prisoner of Heaven, a book I have been on the edge of my seat for. Unfortunately, my copy didn't arrive in time for a regular review post, so I'm going to do something a bit different here. Consider it a sort of Pre-Pub Post as well since the book officially hits shelves on July 10 -- and I want you all to be dying to read it by then!

Zafon made his US debut with the truly incomparable The Shadow of the Wind. This book is amazing  in depth and scope. It's a gothic tale for readers who love everything bookish and literary!

For his tenth birthday, Daniel's father takes him to the Cemetery of Lost Books. As a gift, Daniel must choose one of the books as his own - to read and keep and cherish. The book he chooses will change his life forever. La Sombre del Viento by Julian Carax takes just en evening for Daniel to complete. As any good reader does, Daniel goes in search of more works by Carax only to discover that the author is virtually unknown. But when someone begins seeking out and destroying any and all copies of Carax's remaining works, Daniel becomes obsessed with learning more. 

With Angel's Game, Zafon takes readers back to Barcelona with a sort of prequel to The Shadow of the Wind and now, The Prisoner of Heaven returns us back to Daniel and the aftermath of The Shadow of the Wind.

Here is the description from Zafon's site:

It begins just before Christmas in Barcelona in 1957, one year after Daniel and Bea from The Shadow of the Wind have married. They now have a son, Julian, and are living with Daniel's father at Sempere & Sons. Fermin still works with them and is busy preparing for his wedding to Bernarda in the New Year. However something appears to be bothering him.

Daniel is alone in the shop one morning when a mysterious figure with a pronounced limp enters. He spots one of their most precious volumes that is kept locked in a glass cabinet, a beautiful and unique illustrated edition of The Count of Monte Cristo. Despite the fact that the stranger seems to care little for books, he wants to buy this expensive edition. Then, to Daniel's surprise, the man inscribes the book with the words 'To Fermin Romero de Torres, who came back from the dead and who holds the key to the future'. This visit leads back to a story of imprisonment, betrayal and the return of a deadly rival.

Now, if you've not read The Shadow of the Wind or Angel's Game, I highly suggest running to your nearest bookstore and snatching up a copy of both. Dive in this weekend (because once you start you won't want to stop -- you'll want to clear your schedule completely!). I promise you... no, I swear to you that The Shadow of the Wind will be hands down one of the most wonderful reading experiences you will ever have. There are so many fantastic books in the world but every once in a while one will shine amongst all of the others, staying with you well beyond finishing the final page. The Shadow of the Wind is one of those books for me. 

If you have read Zafon's other works and are waiting on pins and needles for The Prisoner of Heaven, your wait will soon be over. Until then, check out this excerpt (also on Zafon's site) to tide you over until Tuesday.

Click here for more stops on the TLC Prisoner of Heaven tour and for more on Carlos Ruiz Zafon check him out on facebook and twitter (note, the tweets are Spanish).

Finally, if you're a Zafon aficionado or if you love the Shadow of the Wind books and want more of Zafon's work, the author has two YA titles out and a third on the way. They are: The Prince of Mist, The Midnight Palace, and The Watcher in the Shadows (2013). 

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Bitten by Kelley Armstrong

Urban fantasy is filled with uber talented authors, unique worlds, and fabulous characters. One of the early (and now longtime) players in the genre is Kelley Armstrong. Her debut, Bitten, was released back in 2001 and kicked off her highly popular Women of the Underworld series. This month, the series wraps up with the release of Thirteen.

One of the interesting things about Armstrong's series is the fact that much of it can be read in just about any order you like. The narrators are different and the stories do typically stand alone -- for the most part. With the finale coming up, a host of characters are making appearances and I'd really like to know who they all are before hitting the final title, so I'm starting from the beginning and filling in my reading holes.

First up, Bitten.

Elena is a werewolf. Not by birth and not by choice, but it's a fate she's learned to live with. Her abrupt introduction into the were world was softened by support from the local Pack. After years alongside them, though, Elena has finally struck out on her own. Now she's got a solid relationship, a steady career, and in spite of the difficulty hiding who she is, she's doing alright. But when the Pack summons her, Elena knows she has no choice but to return. After all, they've vowed never to contact her unless it's an absolute emergency. And this is an emergency. Survival of the Pack means staying under the radar and a mutt is preying on humans in Pack territory. If they can find the mutt and stop him before it's too late, the Pack might be safe. If they can't contain the mutt, all hell could break loose!

Elena has been a peripheral character in some of the titles I've read, but this is my first time reading her story. In fact, I've discovered that she's by far the most popular lead in the series (in terms of number of books), serving as narrator in Bitten, Stolen, Broken, and Frostbitten as well as a number of shorts.

Given that my introduction to the series has been through Savannah Levine, I've been excited about getting to the witch installments (Dime Store Magic and Industrial Magic) but I have to say that now I'm temped to skip around and continue with Elena!

Elena is one cool cat... er... wolf! She's strong and she's opinionated. She's all around the perfect heroine for a slightly gritty, slightly romantically tinged, paranormal series! I'm curious as to whether she was intended to carry the whole series or if Armstrong always planned to introduce other leads? Probably something she's addressed throughout the years...

As for the series itself, I love the various elements that go into each story. They're thrillers, they're mysteries, there's some romance (as mentioned), and then there's the paranormal aspect. It's our world as we know it but with weres and witches and demons and ghosts sharing our space.

Thirteen hits shelves on July 24, so there's plenty of time to dive into the series or play catch up like me. There's a new especial available, too.

Monday, July 2, 2012

This is Not a Test by Courtney Summers

Happy Monday, all! It's Sunday night as I write this and I'm hoping that this week will prove to be easy peasy -- it's a holiday week (July 4th is Wed so that's a little strange but I won't complain) and then Saturday is my b-day.

My b-day is always sort of a toss up for me: I'm at that point where I just want to pause my aging. Yes, I'd just like to settle a bit and get used to being in my 30s before moving further into them. Too much pressure to be all grown up now. Makes it kind of appropriate that I'm blogging about a YA book today :)

When I first started coming across murmurings about Courtney Summers's This is Not a Test, I knew it had to go on my desperately want/must have list. It's zombiepocalypse for one! Who can resist that? Not me. For another, PW called it "The Breakfast Club, George Romero style." What, what?! Even better!

Sloane Price wants out. Her sister is gone and her home life is nothing to get excited about, but when the dead begin to walk, Sloane's choice is made for her. She and five other teens have managed to make their way to the high school, boarding up doors and windows and holing up in the auditorium to wait out the attack. They're all sure that help will be on its way soon, but as the days pass, that hope starts to wither. Desperate, each of the teens is confronted with the ultimate fear: what if no one is coming? What if they're all alone? What do they do next?

Publisher's Weekly definitely had it right in that This is Not a Test is an intense character study -- teens facing the end of the world as they know it, relying on each other for survival with no parents around to guide them or help them along the way. Summers adeptly combines true supernatural horror with the horrors of real life giving depth to an already gripping story. It's a win all around in my opinion.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

New Releases 7/3/12

Some of the new titles hitting shelves this week are:

God Save the Queen by Kate Locke

Criminal by Karin Slaughter

The Next Best Thing by Jennifer Weiner

Gold by Chris Cleave

Die a Stranger by Steve Hamilton

Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern (pb)

Night Seeker by Yasmine Galenorn (Indigo Court #3)

The Last Minute by Jeff Abbott

The Last Refuge by Ben Coes

The Nightmare by Lars Kepler

The Good Dream by Donna VanLiere

The Sacrifice Game by Brian D'Amato

Discretion by Allison Leotta

Even White Trash Zombies Get the Blues by Diana Rowland

Potboiler by Jesse Kellerman

Ransom River by Meg Gardiner

Advent by James Treadwell

What You Wish For by Kerry Reichs

East of Denver by Gregory Hill

The Hollow City by Dan Wells

Elza's Kitchen by Marc Fitten

The 13th Target by Mark de Castrique

Dark Companion by Marta Acosta

Once by Anna Carey (Eve Trilogy bk 2)

The White Glove War by Katie Crouch (Magnolia League #2)

Amelia Anne is Dead and Gone by Kat Rosenfield

New reviews at Bookbitch.com:
God Save the Queen
The Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker
Dark Companion by Marta Acosta