Wednesday, February 27, 2013

172 Hours on the Moon by Johan Harstad

I was looking for the perfect snowstorm read while also trying to pick my second book for the 2013 Translation Challenge being hosted over at Curiosity Killed the Bookworm, when I finally settled on Johan Harstad's 172 Hours on the Moon. This YA sci-fi/horror has been getting pretty great reviews from a lot of the bloggers I follow and it's been on my radar for a while. It seemed perfect for both counts on this snowy weekend.

In the decades since man's first steps on the moon, NASA has all but abandoned moon landings. Until now. Three teens, randomly selected from around the globe, will have the opportunity of a lifetime: participating in a brand new lunar mission. Once they're selected, they'll undergo months of training before heading off with a team of astronauts to DARLAH-2, a modular station built in the Sea of Tranquility in the seventies. The station has never been used. In fact, this team will be the first to ever set foot in DARLAH-2. But the mission isn't so straightforward. These teens and their team are about to find out the real reason man hasn't returned to the moon. 

I was a little concerned at the outset with this one. It seemed to start a bit slow and I wasn't hitting it off with the characters. Mia, who never had any interest in the moon in the first place, is entered by her parents. She's down right rotten to them and only agrees to go after learning that her bandmates would die for the opportunity themselves. Antoine is hurting over a bad break up and signs up while obsessively mourning his relationship. And Midori is a bit of an outcast amongst her schoolmates in Japan. She dreams of escaping to a place where she'll fit in. For all of them, the fame and notoriety of being involved with the moon mission is the perfect opportunity. Once we get past the somewhat awkward introductions and into the meat of the story, 172 Hours on the Moon gets really good.

I loved the creepy factor! The "truth" about DARLAH-2 when it's revealed, Midori's weird urban legends, the warnings before the mission begins, all of it is great! There were parts that were more than a little reminiscent of Apollo 18. Fortunately for us all, Harstad does a much better job with his moon horror.

I don't know why we don't have more space horror. Alien is phenomenally popular. I loved Pandorum. Just about every Mars movie has been pretty terrible, though, and while I was stoked about Apollo 18 in theory, in reality it didn't live up to expectations. 172 Hours on the Moon gives me more hope. I'd like to see more like this!

And a nod to Tara F. Chace for her translation here. Harstad's teen debut was originally published in his native Norway. Harstad's style overall is very Scandinavian - there is a starkness that I notice with all the Scandinavian fiction I read and it's very much present in Harstad's book. Had I not known this was a translation going in, however, I don't think I would have noticed. The translation is completely smooth and seamless.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

The Madness Underneath by Maureen Johnson

Happy book birthday, Maureen Johnson! Today marks the release of The Madness Underneath, the second in Johnson's Shades of London series.

Rory Deveaux is recovering in Bristol after barely surviving an attack by the Ripper. She's ready to return to her school and her friends in London, but it takes some prompting to convince her family. It does help that her therapist has announced it the best road to recovery for Rory - returning to the scene of the incident, that is. Turns out this return has been manipulated by the Shades. See, the Ripper destroyed their last terminus and the division is in danger of being shut down unless they can come up with something quick. After all, what good is a ghost busting cop if he can't bust ghosts? Fortunately for them, Rory has somehow managed to become a terminus herself. With just a touch, she can banish a ghost to wherever it is they go. And her return couldn't have come soon enough. Something weird is happening in London once again and Rory might be the only one who can stop it. 

I think it's safe to say that The Madness Underneath has been at the top of a lot of Must Have lists for 2013, mine included! I adored The Name of the Star. Rory is smart and sarcastic and the combination of mystery/thriller elements and paranormal is one that I always love - when done well. And Johnson definitely does it well. Plus, Johnson's writing style is light without becoming overly frothy. Snarktastically snarky, to be honest: just the right blend of smart ass humor and social observation (extra wonderful in a boarding school setting and via a Louisiana girl, too!).

Strangely, while The Madness Underneath delivered on all counts, the end felt a little flat. It's clear there's more to the story but this felt very much more To Be Continued... than the end of The Name of the Star. Ah, well. I guess it'll be another year before we find out what happens to ... and with the whole ... and if Rory will be able to ... I don't want to ruin it for you!

Monday, February 25, 2013

A Future Arrived by Phillip Rock

Morning, all! I'm a stop on the TLC tour for the final installment of Phillip Rock's Abingdon Pryory trilogy this morning.

When we last left the Grevilles and Abingdon behind in Circles of Time, it was Christmas of 1923. Now, as A Future Arrived begins, it's 1930. Anthony and Hanna Greville are now in their seventies and the Earl of Stanmore is sadly reminded that his youth is far behind him. Charles is now headmaster of Burgate House School. Martin's young brother in law Albert is just about ready to begin university, but reveals that he'd much rather follow Martin's lead and become a journalist himself. Meanwhile, the Wood-Lacy girls are all growing up as is Alexandra's son Colin. The story soon launches into WWII and the next generation become the focus of this final installment in the trilogy. 

This has been something of a roller coaster of a read. I've become so invested in these characters and am very sorry to have to finally say goodbye to them all. I was concerned upon learning that the characters I'd come to know and love in the first two books took a bit of a back seat in this third release but actually the transition worked very well. Many of them are still readily present throughout the story (Martin for the most part, though Charles, William, the elder Grevilles, and even Fenton do make occasional appearances).

I rather enjoyed getting to know the younger characters better! And it made sense considering that by the time WWII rolls around these are the characters now experiencing the terrors and tragedies that Charles, Fenton, and Martin experienced in The Passing Bells. Colin - Alexandra's son - has dreams of becoming a military pilot as does Derek Ramsey, one of Charles's students. Jennifer Wood-Lacy falls hard for Albert - Martin's brother in law. And We follow them all through their formative years and into the new war.

As with the first two, Rock's style is gripping and his pacing is phenomenal. It took me just one afternoon to get through this final installment. Granted I'd planned my weekend that way, saving up this last visit with Abingdon Pryory for a day when I could devote all my time and attention to it.

Any fan of historical fiction and epic family dramas will love this trilogy. I really cannot recommend it highly enough! Rock sadly passed away in 2004. The rest of his work is out of print. It does make me wonder what other gems are hiding in the depths of publishing past, not deemed to be literary enough to last through the generations. Again I am so glad that this particular trilogy has been rereleased today.

Be sure to check out the official TLC tour page here to see the rest of the stops on the tour for this book and the rest of the trilogy as well.


Sunday, February 24, 2013

New releases 2/26/13

Some of the new titles hitting shelves this week are:

The Silence of Bonaventure Avenue by Rita Leganski

Black Feathers by Joseph D'Lacey

The Last Days by Adam Nevill

Fade to Black by Francie Knight

Dreams and Shadows by C. Robert Cargill

The Day is Dark by Yrsa Sigurdardottir

Children of Liberty by Paullina Simons

Black Sheep by C.J. Lyons

The Golden Age of Death by Amber Benson

Night Resurrected by Joss Ware

Lady of Ashes by Christine Trent

The Teleportation Accident by Ned Beauman

Ex-Heroes by Peter Clines

If a Stranger Approaches by Laura Kasischke

Dualed by Elsie Chapman

The Madness Underneath by Maureen Johnson

Pulse by Patrick Carman

Emblaze by Jessica Shirvington

The Summer Prince by Alaya Dawn Johnson

Between Two Thorns by Emma Newman

New on DVD:
Breaking Dawn pt 2
Chasing Mavericks
The Master

New reviews at Bookbitch.com:
Blood's Pride by Evie Manieri
The Madness Underneath by Maureen Johnson

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Pre Pub Book Buzz: London Falling by Paul Cornell

I'm bringing back Pre Pub Book Buzz -- or Books I'm Stoked About -- Saturdays! Why? Because there are always a ton of upcoming releases I can't wait to read and Saturdays are kind of a free day to do promote those.

I came across Paul Cornell's London Falling just recently in an article that I now can't track down. Oh, well. Here's a bit about the book:

Police officers Quill, Costain, Sefton, and Ross know the worst of London—or they think they do. While investigating a mobster's mysterious death, they come into contact with a strange artifact and accidentally develop the Sight. Suddenly they can see the true evil haunting London’s streets.

Armed with police instincts and procedures, the four officers take on the otherworldly creatures secretly prowling London. Football lore and the tragic history of a Tudor queen become entwined in their pursuit of an age-old witch with a penchant for child sacrifice. But when London’s monsters become aware of their meddling, the officers must decide what they are willing to sacrifice to clean up their city.

Given that Cornell is another of the ranks of Doctor Who writers in the fiction world and I completely adore Ben Aaronovitch's work (and Doctor Who) - not to mention London Falling sounds super cool anyway - of course this would be on my Must Have list!

London Falling is out now in the UK and due out April 16 here in the States from Tor. You can read an excerpt here

Friday, February 22, 2013

Blood's Pride by Evie Manieri

Well, after what seems like a slew of WWI historical fiction, I definitely needed a fantasy break! Evie Manieri's Blood's Pride (new out as of 2/19) rose to the top of the TBR as a result. Blood's Pride is an epic fantasy and first in the new Shattered Kingdoms series. It's also Manieri's debut novel.

Harotha and her brother Faroth were just children when the Norlanders attacked Shadar. They wanted to precious ore of the region and enslaved the Shadari as servants and miners. Now the Shadari has banded together to hire the Mongrel, a legendary mercenary who just might be able to help them overcome the Norlanders. But she has an agenda of her own. 

Blood's Pride is the first in a trilogy and that definitely became clear by the time I finished reading - there's no true cliffhanger ending but there are lots of questions remaining by the end of the book.

There's a link to a great Q&A with the author at the bottom here. I came across this as I was about halfway through the book and found it interesting that Manieri mentions the fact that the story begins in the middle. There's a prologue about the Norlanders' attack of the Shadar and then the reader is pretty much dropped into the story, swept along and left to glean details about the world and the characters along the way. While it's a better option than the dreaded info dump, it did leave me more than a bit confused throughout the beginning of the book.

The story unfolds around six main characters: Eofar, the governor's son; Harotha, a Shadari whose brother is leading the revolution; Isa, Eofar's youngest sister; Rho, a Norlander soldier whose relationship with his leaders is complicated; Daryan, the Shadari "king"; and Jachad, the King of the Nomas. And of course they've all got secrets that are revealed over the course of the story.

Fortunately, Manieri's tale does move along quickly. In fact, I was surprised at just how fast the pacing was. Sure, we could have spent a little more time with some of the characters, but overall I felt like the story paid off in a pretty great way by the end. Very much worth a little head scratching in the beginning as I tried to wrap my head around what was going on.

The worldbuilding is interesting. We learn that the Norlanders - the Shadari call them Dead Ones - are pale skinned and sensitive to sunlight. Their skin is cold and they "speak" to one another through their minds, which leaves their hearing very sensitive as well. On the other hand, the Shadari have a darker complexion and their touch burns the Norlanders. Their religion doesn't allow for writing or reading (and we do learn why). And then there are the Nomas, a desert tribe whose men and women live separate throughout much of the year. Many of the details about these people and the characters are revealed throughout the story, so some of the complexities aren't clear from the outset of the book. As with many series, it will be interesting to see how the story unfolds and what we continue to learn in the  upcoming installments.

Here's the link to the Q&A with Manieri over at Tor (mentioned above). According to the author, Fortune's Blight (book 2) is due out later this year.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Whispers Under Ground by Ben Aaronovitch

This post has been a LOOOONG time coming. Somehow, I drafted it and then lost it. Every time I revisited it, something came up. Anyway, sadly late is better than never, right?

This third in the series finds Peter Grant trekking underground to investigate a murder that smells of something magical. According to Nightingale and the River sisters there's nothing strange going on under London. And the River sisters would know considering their waterways criss cross the area in question. But Peter isn't so sure. All the clues lead directly to the tunnels and sewers that lie beneath the city. Meanwhile, the Folly officers have added one more to their ranks since Lesley has begun to show magical abilities and they're all on the hunt for a lead in the case of the faceless man.

I know I've said it before, but Ben Aaronovitch's series is one of my absolute favorites -- urban fantasy and otherwise. I love the characters and I love the kinds of magic and supernatural things popping up in his London setting. But what I love the best is the intertwining of London and British history! Aaronovitch sits alongside Mike Shevdon as tops on my list for this very reason.

I find the mysteries in this series are extremely well plotted. Again, the mix of real, police procedural and magic makes it a fun twist on the typical mystery. It's a fun blend for a lot of reasons but most of all because Grant's powers allow him to bend the rules of regular police work. I find the interaction between the Folly and the regular officers to be quite fun as well.

Aaronovitch has a truly unique series here and I can't recommend it highly enough. Given his history with TV, I would absolutely love to see an adaptation of this series. Peter Grant is for me what I know Harry Dresden is for fans of Jim Butcher's series (I've not jumped into those yet). I love Grant and Lesley and the River sisters and all of the other characters that pass through the series. I can only imagine how wonderful a show it would make. Till then, I'm happy with the books themselves :)

Word on the street is that there is a book four due out in the UK this year. No word yet on when it will be available here in the States, but it's showing as a June release overseas.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

The Comfort of Lies by Randy Susan Meyers

Morning, all! I'm a stop on the TLC tour for Randy Susan Meyers's The Comfort of Lies this morning.

Five years ago, Tia fell for the wrong guy. He was right in so many ways except for the fact that he already had a family. Tia became pregnant and felt she had no other choice but to give the baby up. 

But Tia did want to be prepared in the event that the child ever wanted to know where she came from. And the family has kept her abreast of the child's progress -- sending pictures every year on her birthday. When Tia sends a letter to the baby's father, his wife, Juliette, intercepts it. Juliette knew that her husband had cheated but was never made aware of the pregnancy. While she struggles with the news, she also feels drawn to the child and decides to track her down. Meanwhile, Caroline -- the child's adoptive mother -- has struggled with motherhood and what it means for her career and family. 

This review is a bit tough for me. In fact, this read was tough for me. As a whole I really didn't like it. I do like Randy Susan Meyers's writing - I enjoyed her debut, The Murderer's Daughters. In fact, in my review for Bookbitch.com, I stated that:

Randy Susan Meyers approaches her subject with grace and sensitivity. A thoughtful, if somewhat sad (but ultimately hopeful), story about family, sisters, and the tragic effects of domestic abuse and violence on children.

Meyers does approach her subject with that same grace and sensitivity here in The Comfort of Lies. I also applaud and appreciate Meyers for not shying away from difficult subjects. And adoption issues like those tackled here are very difficult subjects.

I did not like these characters. I could sympathize with most (but not all) of them at times but I could not ultimately abandon the feeling that all of them were extremely selfish and a bit self-centered.

I think -- and this should be taken as a testament to Meyers's talent as a writer -- this story was just a bit too real for me. I could too easily see a situation like this manifest and it's not something I wanted to necessarily face as a reader. I'm a bit ostrich like when it comes to certain tough subjects and this was one of those cases. The combination of the subject matter and the characters made this a book I had to force myself to finish.

Again, though, while I can't say that I enjoyed the book, Meyers obviously managed to pull some very strong emotions from me as a reader through her prose. The book is very well written and, again, very thoughtfully presented. I'd urge you, readers, to check out the other stops on the tour.

To see more stops on the tour, check out the official TLC tour page here. As you'll clearly see, other reviewers did not necessarily feel the same way I did. It'll give you a more full perspective on the title in question.

For more on Meyers and her work, visit her official website here. You can also like her on Facebook, follow her on Twitter and Pinterest, and check out her Huffington Post pieces.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Characters in X Genre

I've decided to jump on board with Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week's topic, Top Ten Characters in any genre. I chose mystery/thriller. 

1. Carl Morck from Jussi Adler-Olsen's Dept Q series - he's a grouch after my own heart!

2. Nick Belsey from Oliver Harris's The Hollow Man - a true anti-hero but oh, so easy to like

3. Dexter Morgan from Jeff Lindsay's Dexter series - same reason as Nick Belsey, but Dexter is even more likeable!

4. Jack Caffery from Mo Hayder's series - Jack is a dark and stormy DI with major issues. As a whole, Hayder's characters are pretty great. (Flea is another favorite.)

5. Myfanwy Thomas from Daniel O'Malley's The Rook. This one is a cross genre with mystery elements and the whole thing is fun. At the beginning, Myfanwy has no memory at all and this makes for a great character as well as a fabulous read!

6. Peter Grant from Ben Aaronovitch's Rivers of London series. Another cross genre, this time it's urban fantasy with mystery elements. Grant is a sorcerer's apprentice and constable. Seriously fun series as a whole but seeing Grant continue to come into his own makes it that much better. 

7. Jackson Brodie from Kate Atkinson's series. Oh, I loved Brodie before the tv show but seeing Jason Isaacs as the character won me over further. 

8. Carlotta Carlyle from Linda Barnes's old series. She's a super tall redhead who drives a cab in her spare time and works as a PI. Also, her boyfriend is a mob guy. And her little sister is the daughter of a Columbian drug lord. This was one of my favorite series to recommend as a bookseller and I'm sure you can see why. 

9. Archie Sheridan/Gretchen Lowell/Susan Ward from Chelsea Cain's series. The whole cast of characters and their interactions make this series tops on my list. I just didn't want to eat up three entries with them :)

10. Kinsey Millhone from Sue Grafton's series. One of mysteries favorite PIs. Constantly stuck in the 80s and clever as all get out. 

Honorable mention: Irene Kelly from Jan Burke's series, Myron Bolitar from Harlan Coben's series (he would have been on the list but for the fact that I ran out of space!), Taylor Jackson from JT Ellison's series (and Sam!)...

I see I should have picked a narrower genre to make this more difficult on myself. It's so easy to get attached to series characters and there are so many great mystery/thriller series out there! 

Monday, February 18, 2013

Poisoned Pen Press's Second Annual Discovery Mystery Award Info

Morning, all! I've got exciting news today for all you aspiring mystery writers out there:

Poisoned Pen Press invites aspiring mystery novelists to write, win, publish:

Poisoned Pen Press Now Accepting Submissions for the Second Annual Discover Mystery Award;

will award a $1000 cash prize and publishing contract to this year’s winner

Scottsdale, Arizona– Poisoned Pen Press is now accepting entries for its second annual Discover Mystery Award. A first book contest specifically for unpublished writers trying to break into the mystery genre, the Discover Mystery Award will include a $1000 cash prize, the Discover Mystery title, and a publishing contract from Poisoned Pen Press.

Writers unpublished within the mystery genre are invited to submit their original mystery fiction manuscripts of between 60,000 and 90,000 words. Entries must be received by 11:59 PM Pacific on March 30, 2013. The Discover Mystery Award will be announced on May 31, 2013.

A $20 entry fee applies for all submissions. For full details, eligibility requirements, and manuscript submission instructions, visit: www.poisonedpenpress.com/contest

Entries submitted for the Discover Mystery Award will be judged by members of the Poisoned Pen Press editorial staff, along with an as-yet-to-be-named celebrity guest judge.

Poisoned Pen Press published Ronald Sharp’s No Regrets, No Remorse, the winner of 2012 Discover Mystery Award, in November.

Jessica Tribble, Publisher at Poisoned Pen Press, stated, “ Poisoned Pen Press is always looking to discover something new, which is why we launched the Discover Mystery Award last year. We were overwhelmed both by the volume and quality of submissions we received. While the competition was stiff, we were thrilled to publish No Regrets, No Remorse by Ronald Sharp, the winner of the first annual Discover Mystery Award. And now we are looking for the next winner. We can’t wait to see what we discover.”

In addition to the grand prizes, Poisoned Pen Press will also provide support in publicizing the winning work, and sharing information with prominent booksellers. However, should no entry meet the standards of the editorial team, Poisoned Pen Press reserves the right not to declare a winner, or to offer the cash prize without publication.

Found in 1997, Poisoned Pen Press is an independent publisher specializing in the highest quality mystery books. Based in Scottsdale, Arizona, Poisoned Pen Press is one of the largest publishers of hardcover mysteries in the world. Visit the new Poisoned Pen Press author blog and Discover Mystery™ at: www.poisonedpenpress.com.

Members of the news media wishing to request additional information about the Discover Mystery Award or Poisoned Pen Press are asked to contact Maryglenn McCombs by phone – (615) 297-9875, or by email –maryglenn@maryglenn.com.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

New releases 2/19/13

Some of the new titles hitting shelves this week are:

The Office of Mercy by Ariel Djanikian

The Mad Scientist's Guide to World Domination: Original Short Fiction for the Modern Evil Genius ed by John Joseph Adams

The Burning Air by Erin Kelly

Domino Falls by Steven Barnes & Tanarive Due

The Shadow Wars by Rod Rees

Blood's Ride by Evie Manieri

Farewell Dorothy Parker by Ellen Meister

The Lost Soul by Gabrielle Pierce (666 Park Ave book 3)

The Jackal's Share by Christopher Morgan Jones

The Sound of Broken Glass by Deborah Crombie

Nothing Gold Can Stay by Ron Rash

The Secret of Nightingale Palace by Dana Sachs

Targets of Revenge by Jeffrey S. Stephens

Trinity Rising by Elspeth Cooper

Crossbones Yard by Kate Rhodes

The Different Girl by Gordon Dahlquist

Fuse by Julianna Baggott

Mind Games by Kiersten White

How to Lead a Life of Crime by Kirsten Miller

New on DVD:
Anna Karenina
Fun Size

New reviews at Bookbitch.com:
The Specimen by Martha Lea
No Mark Upon Her by Deborah Crombie
Pantomime by Laura Lam

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Pre Pub Book Buzz: The Perfume Collector by Kathleen Tessaro

I'm bringing back Pre Pub Book Buzz -- or Books I'm Stoked About -- Saturdays! Why? Because there are always a ton of upcoming releases I can't wait to read and Saturdays are kind of a free day to do promote those.

When I read The Debutante by Kathleen Tessaro, I was kind of blown away by how great it was. The premise was intriguing and the history behind it even more so. It's been a while in coming, but Tessaro finally has a new book due out this year called The Perfume Collector.

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

A remarkable novel about secrets, desire, memory, passion, and possibility.

Newlywed Grace Monroe doesn’t fit anyone’s expectations of a successful 1950s London socialite, least of all her own. When she receives an unexpected inheritance from a complete stranger, Madame Eva d’Orsey, Grace is drawn to uncover the identity of her mysterious benefactor.

Weaving through the decades, from 1920s New York to Monte Carlo, Paris, and London, the story Grace uncovers is that of an extraordinary women who inspired one of Paris’s greatest perfumers. Immortalized in three evocative perfumes, Eva d’Orsey’s history will transform Grace’s life forever, forcing her to choose between the woman she is expected to be and the person she really is.

The Perfume Collector explores the complex and obsessive love between muse and artist, and the tremendous power of memory and scent.

The Perfume Collector is due out from Harper on May 14.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Pantomime by Laura Lam

Iphigenia Laurus - Gene for short - was raised the daughter of a wealthy family in Sicion. But while she's been taught to be a respectable young lady, she longs for something more. Things come to a head for Gene and she's left with seemingly no choice but to run away and attempt to make a new life for herself. As Micah Grey, Gene tries out and is hired on to train and work with the R.H. Ragona Circus of Magic. Amongst the performers and freaks, Gene finally feels like she belongs. And as Micah, she can start over in a place where no one knows her. But Micah/Gene is hiding something more than her background and Shadows have been enlisted to track her down. 

I've seen this book handled two ways -- overtly secretive and tell all. I'm going to try and balance my review a bit. I find overtly secretive very difficult to do but I was able to go into the book with very little expectation and enjoyed it all the more for that. I'd love for everyone to be able to approach the book the same way (and find it's pretty rewarding to approach most reads that way).

First let me say that sizing this book up in a generalized synopsis tough! Much has been made of the twist and I'm not going to reveal what it is. I don't feel bad in outright saying that Micah and Gene are the same person, however, as that becomes greatly clear in the beginning of the book. To that end, I've also seen some readers mention that they felt the actual book's synopsis was misleading. I can't say that I agree with that but everyone's allowed their own opinion. 

Laura Lam's debut is a unique fantasy set in a fabulously imagined world. Ellada and the various colonies and mythology are intriguing and I really hope that the follow up play up to that more. There are creatures that are only barely touched on in this debut, the cyrinx, the Chimaera, the Alders and their Vestige, and the Penglass. I'm dying to know what the Penglass is! Considering what we learn about Micah/Gene and what's hinted at, I'd imagine that book two will have to delve more into those subjects anyway. 

Gene/Micah is such an appealing character for so many reasons. Gene's struggles and attempts to fit in are at times completely heart wrenching, but Lam has also created a character with such overwhelming and admirable strength. I really enjoyed the balance of this story. Lam tackles some touchy issues and she does it very well, all in the midst of a compelling fantasy world. It's doesn't diminish the issues in any way but presents them in a truly different way. And of course the circus setting is infinitely wonderful! I know I'm not alone in wondering what will come next for the characters and the world especially considering the cliffhanger ending. 

Pantomime is new out this month from Strange Chemistry. You can read the first chapter here.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

The Specimen by Martha Lea

Morning, everyone. Happy Valentine's Day! I swear I didn't purposely set this odd debut as my Valentine's post, it just ended up that way!

Seven years ago, young Gwen Carrick fell in love with Edward Scales. Now it's 1866 and Gwen has been charged with Edward's murder. Is she guilty? What events led to this tragic end? 

When they met in 1859, Gwen was living alone with her sister Euphemia, a famed spiritualist who specialized in contacting dead loved ones. To say the sisters didn't get along would be a vast understatement. In fact, their relationship was a strained coexistence. Gwen had a studious and scientific mind and longed for a life of respect and equality - one she could never expect as a woman. Scientific pursuits were simply not acceptable womanly studies. But Edward seemed to enjoy Gwen's mind. When he invited her to accompany him to Brazil, she believed it was because he valued her input and talents. Unfortunately, Edward was hiding many things from Gwen, things that could ruin her forever. 

The Specimen is a strange mystery and a greatly engrossing one at that. From the beginning, it becomes clear that the characters are hiding things, misrepresenting themselves, and - in some cases - deviously plotting against one another. Gwen's story comes out through flashbacks beginning in 1859 interspersed with newspaper articles covering the trial itself.

Martha Lea has quite a unique style. While some pieces of the puzzle are revealed throughout the plot, there seems to be quite of bit of information left to the reader's imagination. Some events are hinted at without being overtly explained while others are tackled in a manner more appropriate for the time period in which the story is set. To that end, there's a lot left unsaid between the characters but emphasized through their actions and reactions to one another.

Gwen's relationship with Edward is a train wreck! The kind of relationship you know is set for a bad end -- even if the story had not begun with Gwen being accused of his murder. In fact, the reader is unsure of her guilt or innocence throughout the whole of the book.

There were, admittedly, portions of the story that I found a bit confusing. The significance of the balas diamond (which I had to google). It's mentioned a few times and my best guest is that it's further testament to Gwen's overall innocent nature. Fergus's part in the whole scheme was also a little unclear to me at times. All in all, though, discovering the truth behind the events in the story is fascinating enough to overlook these aspects (and my assumption is simply that I misread or completely missed something somewhere along the line).

If you're in the mood for an odd historical mystery with aspects of spiritualism, Darwinism, murder, lots of backstabbing, and oddities, this is the one for you. The Specimen is quite an intriguing and enjoyable debut!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

No Mark Upon Her by Deborah Crombie

Morning, all! I'm a stop on the TLC tour for Deborah Crombie's No Mark Upon Her the latest Kincaid/James mystery released in paperback.

Becca Meredith was an avid rower and a one-time Olympic hopeful. Some say she'd still have a shot today if she set her mind to it. It's something she'd been considering, but it would mean leaving her detective position with the Metropolitan Police Service. When her body is discovered floating in the river, just a short way from her boat, no one believes it's an accident. But who would want her dead? She and her ex husband seemed to be on good standing and there are no other obvious suspects. Duncan Kincaid is called in to investigate and as he delves deeper into the detective's life, he discovers she's been hiding things from those closest to her. Then a member of the search and rescue team that found her is attacked as well. Meanwhile, Gemma begins her own investigation -- one that may lead to the prime suspect in Becca's murder. 

I had a harder time jumping into this series than I have with others of late. Which is not to say that it's a bad starting point, but that I was very conscious of the fact that I was missing a massive amount of backstory. Every detail pertaining to Charlotte, for example. Also, Gemma's and Duncan's histories with Doug and Melody (and Doug and Melody's relationship as well). That aside, I was impressed by the amount of focus on the characters in Crombie's latest. Sometimes in mysteries you find series that feature great plots and transparent characters or fabulous characters and thin plots, not so with Crombie judging by No Mark Upon Her.

The story itself is very well built and I loved the pacing. It's a bit on the slow side but I honestly enjoy that when a book is as good as this one. The rowing aspect was interesting -- it's kind of akin to a foreign world for me. Rowing is not a sport that's common where I'm from or where I live (we're more likely to canoe back home and we're pretty landlocked now, sadly). It brought to mind Laura Lippman's Tess Monaghan series since Tess is also a rower. That was pretty much my introduction to the sport but Lippman doesn't go into quite the detail that Crombie does here.

I'm generally a fan of darker mysteries and thrillers, and I really like that Crombie's style, like Louise Penny (who's blurbed on the cover), is a little on the dark side. I think she's quite balanced in style, actually, bridging the gap between lighter cozies and truly darker series, thereby able to appeal to fans of both styles.

I'm a bit puzzled as to how I've managed to go this long without reading one of Crombie's books! As an avid mystery reader, my only guess is that I'd been apprehensive of tackling yet another series -- those mystery writers are long winded with their series! I kid, I rather enjoy getting to know a character that well. I've no doubt long time fans of Crombie's series are very attached to Gemma and Duncan. Fortunately, just as No Mark Upon Her has hit shelves in paperback, the latest addition to the series is hitting shelves in hardcover: The Sound of Broken Glass will be released on Feb 19.

If you're interested in starting from the beginning, series order is as follows:

A Share in Death
All Shall Be Well
Leave the Grave Green
Mourn Not Your Dead
Dreaming of the Bones
Kissed a Sad Goodbye
A Finer End
And Justice There is None
Now You May Weep
In a Dark House
Water Like a Stone
Where Memories Lie
Necessary as Blood
No Mark Upon Her
The Sound of Broken Glass

To see more stops on the tour, check out the official TLC tour page here.

For more on Deborah and her work, visit her official site here. You can also like her on Facebook and follow her on Twitter.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday: Romantic Reads

I've decided to jump on board with Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week's topic, Romantic Reads (which can be swoon worthy books, favorite romance reads, or best couples). I fear I may be out of my element here with this topic!

1. Jane Eyre - because I like my romantic reads with a tinge of gothic atmosphere!

2. Anything by Cecelia Ahern - P.S. I Love You will likely always be my favorite but I think in general her books are pretty romantic.

3. Forgotten by Catherine McKenzie - I adore McKenzie's work. This was a fun and sweet read and the romance was just right for my taste.

4. The Princess Bride by William Goldman - because it's The Princess Bride!

5. Austenland by Shannon Hale - I thought this was such a cute read! I can't wait for the movie.

Onto some couples now.

6. Julia Grey and Nicholas Brisbane from Deanna Raybourn's series. They're two of a kind: stubborn, clever, and passionate.

7. Stephanie Plum and Joe Morelli from Janet Evanovich's series. Yeah, I know they're on again and off again and Ranger keeps getting in the way, but one of these days I think they'll settle down :)

8. Charley and Reyes in Darynda Jones's Charley Davidson series. Not sure how romantic I'd call this couple so far, but their relationship sure is... steamy.

9. Peter Decker and Rina Lazarus from Faye Kellerman's series. Now this is definitely not a romantic series and I'm a bit behind, but I love this couple. They support each other and work great together as husband and wife.

10. Izzy and Henry from Lisa Lutz's Spellman series. They're another on again off again couple. I do so love them together though!

11. I have to get some King in here -- Eddie and Susannah from the Dark Tower series and Stu and Frannie from The Stand! Nothing like a couple that can find one another in an alternate dimension or the apocalypse!

So there you go! I was really reaching with this list. While most of my books have a romantic aspect to them, it's not what sticks in my mind further down the line. To be honest, I probably would have been better off doing an anti-romance list -- horror reads NOT to get you in the mood or something like that. So let's see:

1. The Shining - yep, that secluded winter getaway may seem romantic until hubs goes all crazy like.

2. Cujo and Pet Semetary - 'cause nothing says I love you like a slavering, rabid dog or a zombie cat (and kid).

3. Wuthering Heights - I may catch some flack here. Don't get me wrong, I love the story but I Cathy and Heathcliff are so horrible to one another!

4. Haunted by James Herbert - undoubtedly one of my favorite all time books here, but let's face it the character is driven a bit over the edge by the time the book ends.

5. Flowers in the Attic by V.C. Andrews! Because, ew.

6. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn - neglected to include this one and it's probably even more anti-romance than my #1, but it's such a great read!

Monday, February 11, 2013

Guest Post by Marie Brennan

Good morning, readers! As I mentioned on Friday, I'm participating in the tour for Marie Brennan's latest, A Natural History of Dragons, which released on February 5 from Tor. And as promised, today I've got a guest post from Marie. A big, big welcome to Marie and I'll hand the reigns over to her now as she talks about her theories on why "Victorianish" fantasy is so popular of late.

Victorian and Victorianish fantasy is big these days, isn’t it? I’ve heard a variety of theories as to why, my favorite of which is probably the one postulating that, just as the bucolic world of the Shire was the just-outside-living-memory past Tolkien looked to, so the height of the Industrial Revolution is for us. I don’t know if it’s true, but it implies we might have Depression/Dust Bowl fantasy as a big thing fifty years from now, which is an intriguing idea.

Anyway, my personal theory for why we’ve got so much nineteenth-century fantasy these days goes like this:

The Victorians were crazy.

Not in the medical sense of the word, at least not by our current standards. (Hysteria, bah.) But very much so in the “what the blazes were you people THINKING?” sense. More than any other time period or place I can think of, the nineteenth century in Britain, America, and certain parts of Europe lived in the happy delusion that they could do absolutely anything if only they tried hard enough. And sometimes, through sheer persistence and luck and lack of self-preservation instinct, they succeeded. As a result, the period is chock-full of amazing achievements and larger-than-life personalities -- which makes for a really fun narrative environment to play in.

It’s especially fun given that the Victorians were often so rational about their irrationality. Not only did they have ludicrous quack medicine, they dressed it up in pseudo-scientific advertisement! Not only did they have rampant belief in spirits, they assured themselves it was all quantifiably true! (Did you know that a wee Charles Babbage once tried to summon the devil? True fact, at least according to his autobiography. It was for science, you understand, not for personal gain; he was attempting to verify the existence of said entity.) They willingly -- nay, eagerly -- threw their lives into peril on the chance of making new discoveries. That push and pull, the yin and yang of rational organization and irrational enthusiasm, is a tremendous engine for telling stories.

Of course, both of those things have their dark sides. The enthusiasm drove things like imperialism, and science provided a justification for it. I’m an anthropologist; I know what my intellectual ancestors were doing with their skull measurements and other quackery. That’s something modern Victoriain’t fantasy (hat tip to Elizabeth Bear for the term) has to deal with one way or another, whether it grapples with the historical reality or imagines a better alternative.

But I’ve never been much interested in settings where everything is rosy. I like the shining top and dark underbelly of the nineteenth century: technological progress and its human cost, new discovery and the loss of old things, the collision of different cultures and the problems that result. The tension between those things is fascinating. My take on it in A Natural History of Dragons and the sequels is more light-hearted than it was in, say, With Fate Conspire, but that doesn’t mean I’m not still being driven by the same interest. What happens when fantasy runs face-first into a banner era for scientific inquiry? The space in between those two things makes for a very intruiging playground.

Marie Brennan is a former academic with a background in archaeology, anthropology, and folklore, which she now puts to rather cockeyed use in writing fantasy. She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area. In addition to many short stories and novellas, she is also the author of A Star Shall Fall and With Fate Conspire (both from Tor Books), as well as Warrior, Witch, Midnight Never Come, In Ashes Lie, and Lies and Prophecy. You can find her online at SwanTower.com, on Twitter, and on Goodreads.

Thanks to Marie for today's post and thanks to the folks at Tor for setting this up! I've still got my own review of A Natural History of Dragons to come as well, readers!

Sunday, February 10, 2013

New releases 2/12/13

Some of the new titles hitting shelves this week are:

Above All Things by Tanis Rideout

American Elsewhere by Robert Jackson Bennett

The House Girl by Tara Conklin

The Water Witch by Juliet Dark

Airtight by David Rosenfelt

The Best of All Possible Worlds by Karen Lord

Extinction by Mark Alpert

The Night Ranger by Alex Berenson

The Devereaux Legacy by Carolyn Hart (reissue)

Vampires in the Lemon Grove by Karen Russell

The Dinner by Herman Koch

We Live In Water: Stories by Jess Walter

Mirage by Mat Ruff (pb)

The Truth About Love and Lightning by Susan McBride

House of Earth by Woodie Guthrie

The Next Time You See Me by Holly Goddard Jones

The Comfort of Lies by Randy Susan Meyers

Calling Me Home by Julie Kibler

The Afrika Reich by Guy Saville

Three Graves Full by Jamie Mason

A Week in Winter by Maeve Binchy

Hit Me by Lawrence Block

Guilt by Jonathat Kellerman

Sever by Lauren DeStefano

Breaking Point by Kristen Simmons

Pivot Point by Kasie West

Out of the Easy by Ruta Sepetys

The Mirrored Shard by Caitlin Kittredge

Revel by Maurissa Guibord

Dance of Shadows by Yelena Black

Mistle Child by Ari Berk

Override by Heath Anastasiu

Who Done It ed by John Scieszka

New on DVD:
The Perks of Being a Wallflower
Silent Hill: Revelation
Robot & Frank

New reviews at Bookbitch.com:
The Madman's Daughter by Megan Shepherd
Proof of Guilt by Charles Todd
Circles of Time by Phillip Rock

Friday, February 8, 2013

Excerpt from Marie Brennan's A Natural History of Dragons

I am super excited to be part of the blog tour for Marie Brennan's latest, A Natural History of Dragons! Monday I'll have a guest post from Marie and I'll also have a review for you later. Today I've got an excerpt to get you started! But first, a bit about the book:

You, dear reader, continue at your own risk. It is not for the faint of heart—no more so than the study of dragons itself. But such study offers rewards beyond compare: to stand in a dragon’s presence, even for the briefest of moments—even at the risk of one’s life—is a delight that, once experienced, can never be forgotten. . . .

All the world, from Scirland to the farthest reaches of Eriga, know Isabella, Lady Trent, to be the world’s preeminent dragon naturalist. She is the remarkable woman who brought the study of dragons out of the misty shadows of myth and misunderstanding into the clear light of modern science. But before she became the illustrious figure we know today, there was a bookish young woman whose passion for learning, natural history, and, yes, dragons defied the stifling conventions of her day.

Here at last, in her own words, is the true story of a pioneering spirit who risked her reputation, her prospects, and her fragile flesh and bone to satisfy her scientific curiosity; of how she sought true love and happiness despite her lamentable eccentricities; and of her thrilling expedition to the perilous mountains of Vystrana, where she made the first of many historic discoveries that would change the world forever.

Marie Brennan introduces an enchanting new world in A Natural History of Dragons.

And now for that excerpt:

Yes, we shot a dragon.

I find it fascinating that so many people take exception to this. Not simply in light of my later attitudes on the matter; no, the objections began long before then, as soon as the book detailing our research in Vystrana was published. People exclaimed over our “monstrous” actions, destroying a dragon simply so that we might understand how it worked.

These same people do not seem to care in the least that at the height of the Great Sparkling Inquiry, I had no less than six hundred and fourteen specimens in my shed -- very few of them dead from natural causes. Entomologists trap insects in their killing jars and then pin their corpses to cards, and no one utters a single squeak of protest. For that matter, let a gentleman hunt a tiger for its skin, and everyone applauds his courage. But to shoot a dragon for science? That, for some reason, is cruel.

Mind you, these objections come exclusively from men and women in Scirland and similar countries, most of them (I imagine) extolling the sanctity of dragons from the sanctuary of their comfortable studies, far from any actual beast of the breed. Indeed, few of those letter-writers seem to have seen a single dragon in their lives. They certainly have not spent days among Vystrani shepherds, for whom dragons are neither sacred nor even likeable, but rather troublesome predators who all too often make off with the shepherds’ livelihood in their jaws. The men of Drustanev did not hesitate to shoot dragons, I assure you. We might even have waited for one of them to do the deed, at which point my letter-writers might have been better satisfied with our virtue. But Vystrani shepherds try very hard to avoid dragons when possible, and we were impatient to get on with our work. So the gentlemen of our party studied the map, shouldered their guns, and went out to find their prey.

And I went with them. It was not at all like my first journey out from Drustanev; this time I was fully-dressed and properly shod, and the piercing mountain sun illuminated our path. This second expedition did much to improve my feelings toward the region: by my standards the air was still bitterly cold for the season, but the brilliance and life of my surroundings could not be denied. We saw eagles and thrushes, rabbits and deer, and even one bear lumbering down the far side of the valley. When I stepped apart from the men to take care of a certain biological matter, I startled a lynx, which stared at me with flat, unfriendly eyes before melting away into the trees.

A Natural History of Dragons is out now from Tor.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Circles of Time by Phillip Rock

Morning, readers! Today I'm a stop on the TLC tour for Phillip Rock's Circles of Time. This is the second book in the Abingdon Pryory trilogy.

The war to end all wars has finally come to an end and with it comes great change. For the Grevilles, though, it does mean something of a return to normalcy: Abingdon Pryory will soon be returned to its former glory and Lord Stanmore is anxious to return to the country estate. Alexandra, now widowed and with a young son in tow, has returned from overseas but there's tension between her and her father. Charles also has returned and is showing marked improvement. Meanwhile, Martin has taken a position with a large international news agency and Fenton Wood-Lacy has been exiled to the Middle East. 

Oh, I can't tell you have happy I was to return to this series! When I turned the final page on The Passing Bells I was already anticipating diving into the second and third installments. After all, we'd learned that Martin was a widow and Charles was out of his mind thanks to shell shock. And what of William, who we barely met, and Alexandra and Robbie and all of the others?!

Fortunately, Circles of Time picks up just a little after the end of Passing Bells. Martin has decided to move on and Charles's friends are rallying together to get Lord Grantham, I mean Lord Stanmore to consider bringing him home for his recovery. (And yes, readers, this second installment does definitely bring to mind Downton especially with regards to the family patriarch!)

Now that the war has ended, the Grevilles and others like them are slowly putting the pieces of their lives back together. Alexandra is struggling with her father's old fashioned ideals. Lord Stanmore is, in fact, struggling with his old fashioned ideals as well and the way the world is changing around him. It was interesting to see him slowly come around to some of the social changes, especially once Charles began to recover. That alone seemed to be the turning point for Anthony Greville, allowing him to finally put aside some of his staunch ideals and embrace the evolving world around him.

And like many of the other reviews I've seen thus far, Martin remains by far my favorite character. His position as a journalist and writer not only gives him a unique viewpoint amongst the varied characters of the story, but also allows him to move around a bit -- both literally and figuratively (socially). He travels to the Middle East to interview Fenton, giving us a glimpse not only of the military activity there but finally bringing Fenton back into the story. Martin also travels to Germany and becomes the first character to discuss what he witnesses as a result of the war... and foreshadowing the war to come.

These are characters that I've come to know and love through Rock's writing and I will be sad to say goodbye with the final installment.

To see more stops on the tour for the trilogy, visit the official tour page here.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Proof of Guilt by Charles Todd

Morning, all! I'm a stop today on the TLC blog tour for Charles Todd's latest Ian Rutledge mystery Proof of Guilt.

When the body of an unidentified man is discovered in Chelsea, Ian Rutledge is sent from Scotland Yard to investigate. The man appeared to have been hit by a car and, based on evidence on is clothing, dragged for a distance. Strangely, there are no tracks evident on the road itself and no one saw or heard anything in the neighborhood. What's more, the only identifying item found on the body is an expensive looking watch that's eventually traced to a prominent family of wine merchants. Only two of its kind were made and both were given to members of the merchant family, brothers Michael and Lewis French, but Michael was killed in the war. Certain they've identified the victim, Rutledge retrieves the man's sister for official identification. Unfortunately for Rutledge, the sister claims she has no idea who the man is and now her brother and his vehicle appear to be missing. Now Rutledge is faced with a growing number of questions and no clear answers to any of them. 

After my introduction to the Bess Crawford series with An Unmarked Grave I was definitely ready to try my hand at Todd's other series. Like Grave I found Proof of Guilt to be equally easy to dive into regardless of not having read the prior installments. The plotting is smart and Rutledge, like Bess, is a great lead. Unlike Bess, however, I did feel that I was missing out a bit in not knowing Rutledge's background. He's a man with a guilty conscience, for one -- he talks to a dead Scottish soldier in his head! So while the individual story stands fine on its own, Rutledge remains a bit of a mystery himself for this first time reader of the series.

I found the layering of the mystery to be particularly intriguing and appealing in Proof of Guilt. As Rutledge investigates further, more and more questions appear. Each avenue of inquiry results in further possibilities but no eliminating or revealing of suspects or motives. And Rutledge is constricted by the laws and politics of Scotland Yard, which makes things that much more difficult. In fact, at one point his boss is ready to bring in a suspect Rutledge instinctually feels is innocent but having seemingly exhausted all his ideas, he's unsure what to do next.

Well, the mother and son team have officially made me a fan of yet another of their series -- meaning I'll have to go back and read from the beginning of this series now as well :)

The Rutledge books, in order, are as follows:

A Test of Wills
Wings of Fire
Search the Dark
Watchers of Time
Legacy of the Dead
A Fearsome Doubt
A Cold Treachery
A Long Shadow
A False Mirror
A Pale Horse
A Matter of Justice
The Red Door
A Lonely Death
The Confession
Proof of Guilt

To see more stops on the tour visit the official TLC tour page here.

For more on Charles Todd and the Rutledge and Bess Crawford series, visit the official author site here. You can also like them on Facebook.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

BookTrib Live Chat with Pam Jenoff

Another announcement today. The folks over at BookTrib are hosting a live chat today with Pam Jenoff. Pam will be discussing her latest release, The Ambassador's Daughter. 

Top Ten Tuesday: Bookish Memories

I've decided to jump on board with Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week's topic, Top Ten Bookish Memories.

1. Reading parties. My parents always encouraged us to read and when I was in elementary school dad started our household reading party trend. We'd pile up pillows in the living room and each bring in our own book to read.

2. Dean Koontz summer. There's a big age gap between my brother and I and our younger sisters. I was 11 when the oldest youngest sister was born. By the time I was in high school (and before I got my drivers license) mom was paying me in books to babysit the girls and each weekend she'd bring me over to Waldens to buy three new titles. I read through all of Dean Koontz's collection that summer.

3. My grandmother's bookshelves. My grandmother read like I do and she amassed a large collection of titles. Every time I'd go over to her house I'd walk the shelves to see what was new (and take a few to tide me over til next visit!)

4. Stephen King Book Club commercials and It. I remember when there were actual commercials on tv advertising the Stephen King book club. My mom should have known there was no hope then :) Those commercials completely captivated me. I was obsessed with reading Stephen King and there was no way my mom was allowing it (this was elementary school age). Then came the tv movie version of It. Mom broke down and I watched the first half. Unfortunately the door on the water shed outside my bedroom window wasn't shut that night and mom blamed my sleeplessness on It, conveniently forgetting to record the second half while we were out. It was years before I finished watching it! (I actually joined the SK Book Club years later -- it was still around when I was in college!)

5. My first Stephen King reads. I don't remember how old I was, but it was definitely pre high school when a tree fell into the porch of my grandfather's old house. My grandmother had been using it as an office and someone actually put an offer on the old place, caved in porch and all. We were cleaning out the bookshelves when I found a copy of Firestarter. I then procured a copy of Salems Lot as well. Pleased as punch, I informed mom I would be reading them both and that she might as well hand over her hidden copy of Pet Semetary. (Folks, I as at least twelve or thirteen at this point and - horror fiend that I was - mom had been fighting this battle for for at least three years now!)

6. Reading The Stand. I was a freshman in high school when a friend loaned me his hardcover copy of The Stand. Fortunately it was the end of the school year because I lugged that book around all week until I finished. I carted it around in my backpack for snagged reading moments during the school day. I read it on the bus. I even read it in the tub, leaning over the edge so I could read from the book laying on the floor!

7. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. This one stands out because of the circumstances. I had gone to a wedding out of town and spent two days completely miserable in a horrendous allergy attack that resulted in ER room cortisone shots at 2 am. And it was the weekend of my birthday. My parents had gotten me a gift certificate for book 4 and even though the bookstore only had holds left by the time I made it over, I managed to snag a copy.

8. Working at the bookstore. My first job in college was at Waldens. I wasn't allowed to work my freshman year, so just a few days after returning for my sophomore year, I hit the mall for applications. Of course the first stop was Waldens. And they were hiring! For the calendar shop. But I got hired on early and the calendar shop opening was delayed so I got a lot of experience in the bookstore itself before the holidays began and was offered a regular position after the New Year. Unfortunately for me, most of my paycheck went right back into the store with my book purchases!

9. Meeting Harlan Coben. I read Tell No One as an ARC before it was released and recommended the book to a customer who was never afraid to try something new -- even in hardcover. She liked it so much that she emailed Coben to let him know how much she'd enjoyed the book and that a bookseller had recommended it to her. Apparently he was so excited that he wanted to know which bookstore was recommending the title, so I sent him a follow up email. We corresponded a bit and when his next book was out he came to Houston for a signing. My friend and I and our significant others drove the three and a half hours out to Houston and made a night of it. When it was my turn to get the book signed, Coben remembered my email address and our "chats." It was super cool!

10. HP 5, 6, & 7 release parties. I was working at Waldens for the HP 5 release, but since we were a mall store we didn't have a midnight shindig. We did have fun -- we got to wear jeans and we had lots of giveaways and such. 6 was a much bigger to do since I was in a freestanding big box by then. Folks were in costume and customer service was the only safe haven for employees who didn't want to get smooshed! By 7 I was a customer myself. I snagged my copy and jetted out front to wait for my ride, reading the first pages by the light of the store sign.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Truth in Advertising Contest

Morning, all. I hope you had a fabulous weekend. We sure did, though I'm playing catch up with the reading now. I got a note about a fun contest this morning and wanted to share it with you.

In celebration of the publication of the new novel Truth in Advertising by John Kenney, Touchstone Books invites you to design an advertisement for the book! Entries will be judged by a panel of advertising industry experts and the winning design will win a cash prize of $5,000. We encourage applicants of all backgrounds to participate, including (but not limited to) those with experience in graphic design, advertising, and marketing.
To learn more about the contest and to submit an entry, visit http://truthinadvertisingcontest.tumblr.com
Additional details:
       Submissions can be in jpeg, mov, or gif format.
       Submissions must be in English.
       Submissions must be an original advertisement for TRUTH IN ADVERTISING by John Kenney and include the book title and author name.
       You may submit up to three (3) entries. Submissions must be different and not substantially similar.
       Participation open only to legal residents of the fifty United States or the District of Columbia who are 18 years or older as of date of entry.
       Submissions are due by February 28, 2013.

And here’s just a taste of what people are saying about Truth in Advertising:
       We’re sold on Kenney’s trenchant, quick-witted debut. A-” —Entertainment Weekly
       “A lively debut that has ‘movie deal’ written all over it.” —People
       It’s the stuff of Jonathan Tropper novels and Judd Apatow films and every Zooey Deschanel fantasy.” —USAToday.com
       “Balances the droll with the hopeful and the glib with the heartfelt.” –The Daily Beast

Please direct all questions to touchstonemarketing@simonandschuster.com.