Sunday, March 31, 2013

New Releases 4/2/13

Some of the new titles hitting shelves this week are:

Tuesday's Gone by Nicci French

Life After Life by Kate Atkinson

Bristol House by Beverly Swerling

Nowhere But Home by Liza Palmer

There Was an Old Woman by Hallie Ephron

No Way Back by Andrew Gross

The Mermaid of Brooklyn by Amy Shearn

Reconstructing Amelia by Kimberly McCreight

Zombies Don't Forgive by Rusty Fischer

The Death of a Dowager by Joanna Campbell Slan

The Forever Knight by John Marco

Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline

The Whiteness of the Whale by David Poyer

All You Could Ask For by Mike Greenberg

Nameless by Lili St. Crow

Stung by Bethany Wiggins

Oblivion by Anthony Horowitz (Gatekeepers #5)

Dark Triumph by Robin LaFevers

New on DVD:
John Dies at the End
Hemingway & Gellhorn

New reviews at Bookbitch.com:
Erebos by Ursula Poznanski
The Guilty One by Lisa Ballantyne

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Pre Pub Book Buzz: Doctor Sleep by Stephen King

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.

You had to know the Stephen King post was coming :) If you've been hiding under a rock, Doctor Sleep is the highly anticipated sequel to King's The Shining. It's due to hit shelves on September 24 and I couldn't be more excited! Last fall I read the e short by King and his son Joe Hill, In the Tall Grass, only to discover that about half of the file were previews of King and Hill's upcoming books (Doctor Sleep and NOS4A2). While I was itching for a taste of Sleep, the knowledge that it was almost a year out at that point was too much. There was no way I could read the sample and then stand waiting that long! I may have to schedule a Shining reread in preparation if I have a chance, though!

Here's a bit about the book from the Simon and Schuster catalog:

On highways across America, a tribe of people called The True Knot travel in search of sustenance. They look harmless—mostly old, lots of polyester, and married to their RVs. But as Dan Torrance knows, and spunky twelve-year-old Abra Stone learns, The True Knot are quasi-immortal, living off the “steam” that children with the “shining” produce when they are slowly tortured to death.

Haunted by the inhabitants of the Overlook Hotel where he spent one horrific childhood year, Dan has been drifting for decades, desperate to shed his father’s legacy of despair, alcoholism, and violence. Finally, he settles in a New Hampshire town, an AA community that sustains him, and a job at a nursing home where his remnant “shining” power provides the crucial final comfort to the dying. Aided by a prescient cat, he becomes “Doctor Sleep.”

Then Dan meets the evanescent Abra Stone, and it is her spectacular gift, the brightest shining ever seen, that reignites Dan’s own demons and summons him to a battle for Abra’s soul and survival. This is an epic war between good and evil, a gory, glorious story that will thrill the millions of devoted readers of The Shining and satisfy anyone new to the territory of this icon in the King canon.

Cemetery Dance will be releasing a special slipcover edition of the hardcover. Here's the link to their order page.

King also has a new Hard Case Crime due out in June called Joyland.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

To See or Not to See: Ripper Street

I haven't been talking about very many shows or movies here of late and I'm not sure why. I keep planning to - I've seen some great stuff of late. Somehow I just keep neglecting to do posts. Well today I'm doing one. Ripper Street is a pretty new BBC show that just recently wrapped up airing its first season here on BBCA (it's available on DVD now as well).

This historic crime drama features the Whitechapel district division post-Ripper. The incomparable Matthew Macfadyen plays the famous Edmund Reid, head of the division, and Frederick Abberline also makes brief appearances throughout the series. Reid/Macfadyen's second in command, Bennett Drake, is played by Jerome Flynn (a familiar face to any fans of the Game of Thrones series) and Adam Rothenberg rounds out the main cast as Homer Jackson, a former Pinkerton who now calls London home.

The show's a win for me for a number of reasons. First, the writing is great. The episodes feature the tension and politics of the time and for the most part stand alone. There are some story arcs that continue through the series - Reid and his daughter, Jackson's past, and Ripper - but for the most part you can jump in at any episode.

Then you have the cast. I'm was a big fan of Macfadyen and Flynn already but Rothenberg quickly won me over (I'm a sucker for a Pinkerton).

If you haven't checked out the show, I definitely recommend doing so very soon. Apparently a second season has been ordered for next year! I should mention the show is quite graphic at times. If you're not a fan of dark detective shows, you may want to steer clear.

Here's a trailer to pique your interest:

If you're a fan of this kind of stuff, I can think of some great books along the same lines:

Alex Grecian's The Yard (London post-Ripper), Lyndsay Faye's Dust and Shadow (Jack and Sherlock Holmes) and Kieran Shields's Truth of All Things (Pinkerton main) both come highly recommended by a historian friend of mine. I loved Stephen Gallagher's Bedlam Detective (time period and particularly dark), which is a follow up to Kingdom of Bones but can be read alone.

For some modern reads, I recommend Cody McFadyen's Shadow Man, SJ Bolton's Now You See Me, and Maureen Johnson's The Name of the Star.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Six Years by Harlan Coben

Six years ago, Jake met the love of his life and was forced to say goodbye. With almost no warning, Natalie broke it off to marry another man. Knowing that Jake takes his promises seriously, she made him swear that he would leave them alone. In all those years, Jake has never broken his promise but he's never gotten over Natalie either. But Natalie's husband happens to be an alumni of the same university where Jake now teaches. As such, the man's obit runs briefly on the school website and Jake just happens to come across it. Jake travels out to the funeral only to discover that the man's widow - not Natalie - is accompanied by two teenage children. As Jake tries to dig deeper into the sudden mystery, he finds himself a target. It seems everyone wants to know where Natalie has been for the past six years! Jake is convinced that Natalie is in trouble but how can he track down someone who's all but vanished?

Harlan Coben can always be counted on for a wonderfully plotted puzzler of a read. Six Years was that, but it was also oddly similar in a lot of ways to Tell No One. I was struck more than once by that feeling of deja vu. Don't get me wrong, Six Years is great and it's definitely a different story, but a lot of the elements are similar enough that I found myself feeling (guiltily) a tiny bit disappointed in this latest from one of my favorite authors.

Nevertheless, I was able to set all of that aside while reading and get completely wrapped up in Jake and his plight. Coben has always managed to do that to me as a reader. His combination of everyday characters and crazypants intense situations usually means that no one will be seeing much of me until I get through to the end of the story. (Note, these are great for those LONG waiting room experiences. But if you start reading Coben at bedtime, just be ready to be up for a while!)

If this happens to be your intro to Coben, you're in for a big treat! If you're a long time fan, you'll no doubt see the same similarities here (not pointing out specifics for fear of spoilers) with Tell No One.

Word on the street is that we'll finally, finally see a US movie adaptation in Six Years. Hugh Jackman has been tapped to play Jake (yay!). Up till now the only adaptation out there is the French Tell No One (which is wonderful! I rewatched it just after finishing Six Years.)

Rating: 3.5/5

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

The Guilty One by Lisa Ballantyne

Good morning, all! I'm a stop on the TLC book tour for Lisa Ballantyne's The Guilty One today!

Daniel Hunter is a solicitor specializing in defense of minors. His own upbringing and being bounced around from foster home to foster home, led to his decision to become an advocate for children in the same sorts of situations. In fact, if Daniel hadn't been adopted when he finally was and cared for by the woman he'd come to call mom, he might have ended up exactly where these kids are.

Eleven-year-old Sebastian Croll is accused of murdering his eight-year-old neighbor. The crime is particularly brutal and the evidence does seem to point to Sebastian's guilt. But Sebastian insists that he is innocent. Daniel sees some of himself in Sebastian and while he isn't sure whether to believe the child or not, the fact that this kid will be tried as an adult for such a terrible crime weighs heavily on the lawyer. When his adopted mother passes away in the midst of everything, Daniel is forced to face the demons of his own past as well.

This debut from Lisa Ballantyne is an immensely captivating read. In Daniel, his past, and the case, Ballantyne has created a story that is haunting and impossible to walk away from. Daniel's decision to distance himself from Minnie is kept from the reader for the majority of the book as is the truth behind the case itself. These elements alone are guaranteed to keep any curious reader hooked, but when you add in Ballantyne's style and characters you end up with a book that will appeal to a wide range of readers.

The Guilty One was released last year in the UK and has already garnered Ballantyne quite a bit of attention. Now US readers have a crack at it as well. I expect the book will be equally as well received here (Ballantyne earned a starred review in Publishers Weekly).

To see what others on the tour have to say, check out the official tour page here.

For more on Ballantyne and her work, visit her official website. You can also like her on facebook. And for a peek inside the book, visit the publisher's page here.

Rating 4.5/5

Monday, March 25, 2013

Angelopolis by Danielle Trussoni + a Giveaway

Morning, everyone! Tomorrow just happens to be the release date for Daneille Trussoni's long-awaited follow up to Angelology and the publishers have kindly allowed me to offer up one copy of each for giveaway! Read to the bottom for entry dets.

When Angelology hit shelves back in 2010 we were kind of in the midst of an angel trend. Where some of the other titles in the trend had failed to satisfy what I'd hoped for, Trussoni came through in spades! In fact, in my review of Angelology I compared it to my reading of The Historian (one of my all time favorites). I was even fortunate enough to be able to attend Trussoni's book signing over at the Tattered Cover that year.

Unfortunately for me, my Swiss cheese brain has pretty much purged all of the details of Angelology. But, I did discover that the publisher is marketing Angelopolis as a stand alone. I can't tell you how relieved I was to hear that, though I do wish I'd had time to fit in a reread of Angelology before hand.

Angelopolis begins ten years after Angelology. Verlaine meets up with Evangeline in Paris, only to witness her being kidnapped at the hands of an Emim the angelologists have long been pursuing. Before she's captured, Evangeline gives Verlaine an odd little item that turns out to be one of the eight missing Imperial Faberge eggs. Verlaine and his partner travel to Russia where they discover the egg's importance and evidence that Evangeline's mother had been on the brink of a huge discovery before her death. Their digging leads them to a remote angelology outpost in Bulgaria who's research is tied directly into the Great Flood. Together, they may be able to uncover a secret that will give humans a huge advantage in the war against the angels. 

While I enjoyed the tie in to Russian history and the Black Sea, Angelopolis felt like it was missing some of the magic of Angelology. This second in the trilogy is worth reading but I just didn't love it like I did that first installment.

For some fun extras, check out the Angelopolis playlist on Spotify and the Angelopolis app on Facebook. The publisher has also put together a book club kit that has all kinds of neat stuff and an Angelopolis Geocache. In addition, the publisher is offering book clubs the chance to win a call-in or Skype chat with the author for the book club.

Now for the giveaway. One winner will receive a copy of Angelology and Angelopolis courtesy of the publisher. Contest ends midnight, April 7. US only (no PO boxes, please).

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sunday, March 24, 2013

New Releases 3/26/13

Some of the new titles hitting shelves this week are:

Virus Thirteen by Joshua Alan Parry

The Iron King by Maurice Druon

Leaving Everything Most Loved by Jacqueline Winspear

Island 731 by Jeremy Robinson

Frozen Solid by James M. Tabor

The Age Atomic by Adam Christopher

The Witch of Little Italy by Suzanne Palmieri

The Tale of Raw Head & Bloody Bones by Jack Wolf

Wolfhound Century by Peter Higgins

Black Feathers by Joseph D' Lacey

The Marching Dead by Lee Battersby

Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald by Therese Anne Fowler

Ice Cold Kill by Dana Haynes

Extinction Machine by Jonathan Maberry

Angelopolis by Danielle Trussoni

Twice Tempted by Jeaniene Frost

Something About Sophie by Mary Kay McComas

The Burgess Boys by Elizabeth Strout

Let the Dead Sleep by Heather Graham

A Touch of Scarlet by Eve Marie Mont

Impostor by Jill Hathaway

Wasteland by Susan Kim & Laurence Klavan

New on DVD:
The Collection
Killing Them Softly
Parental Guidance
A Royal Affair
Veep season 1

New reviews at Bookbitch.com:
Virus Thirteen
The Demonologist by Andrew Pyper
Six Days by Harlan Coben
Dark Tide by Elizabeth Haynes

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Pre Pub Book Buzz: The Orphan by Christopher Ransom

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 always look forward to summer. When I was a kid, it meant no school. As an adult, it means the sweltering sunny days I love so much. For the past few years it's also meant I can expect a new release from one of my favorite horror authors, Christopher Ransom. This year is no exception! Ransom's latest, The Orphan,  is due out August 15 from Sphere (UK only). 

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

The latest terrifying domestic horror masterpiece from the bestselling author of The Birthing House and The People Next Door

The truth is more terrible than you can imagine.

Darren and Beth Dunn dreamed of having a son. So when Darren accidentally runs over and nearly kills young runaway Adam, the couple take in the troubled child and give him shelter in their home.

With an easy smile and a loveable nature, Adam is a dream addition to the family, but as his influence in the household grows, Darren begins to find himself haunted by the image of a boy from his childhood, a boy who went missing decades earlier.

As dark secrets are revealed, the Dunn's happy home becomes the hunting ground for an unspeakable evil.

There's no point locking the door.

There's no use shutting out the night.

Because the orphan is already there.

Dare you read to the end of The Orphan? Discover the chilling new novel from the author of The Birthing House and The People Next Door.

I can't wait! Ransom is local here in CO but many of his books are UK only (with the exception of The Birthing House and Killing Ghost the Cemetery Dance edition of The Haunting of James Hastings). Fortunately in this day an age it's pretty easy to order internationally. 

Friday, March 22, 2013

Virus Thirteen by Joshua Alan Parry

James and his wife Linda live in a world where viruses have been all but eliminated. Babies are born completely immune to cancer and AIDS is no more. Husband and wife are both employed by GeneFirm and have just gone public with a revolutionary discovery, but during their announcement James collapses. Doctors hesitantly diagnose him with brain cancer, but everyone knows the diagnosis is impossible - James has the cancer resistant gene implanted in all children. A quick DNA scan shows that James does not in fact have the resistant genes but before anyone can investigate further a deadly flu-like virus spreads globally in just days. Linda is assigned to the team responsible for finding a cure while James is on his own to find out just what his health scare and diagnosis really mean.

The premise for Virus Thirteen is great - it's a futuristic world where the government now enforces health care. If you're too overweight or have any kind of dependency that will lead to rising medical costs, you're forcibly sent to rehab. And while advancements in medicine have led to the eradication of some of the most dangerous illnesses, a manufactured virus knocks the country on its knees.

Parry's debut is fun but not without issues. It's at times just a bit too over the top to be taken seriously. Characters and their actions are exaggerated - the bad guys aren't quite Bond villain-esque but some are only just shy of it. This is one case where I felt like a little slower pacing would have been a benefit, allowing a little more of a chance to spend time in the book and get to know the characters.

The science in the book, on the other hand, is pretty believable. I'm definitely no expert, but I did find Parry's ideas to be presenting in a wholly convincing way.

Virus Thirteen officially hits shelves on Tuesday, March 26.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Erebos by Ursula Poznanski

My third pick for the 2013 Translation Challenge (hosted by Curiosity Killed the Bookworm) was an easy pick, especially considering it's been in my TBR way too long. (I'm loving that this challenge is prompting me to get to some of these titles that have been hanging around my shelves for an embarrassing amount of time.)

Something weird is going on with Nick's friends. First, Colin starts bailing on basketball practice and screening Nick's calls. Then more and more guys from the team start missing practice as well. Classes are half full and no one is talking about the reason behind the absences. Nick witnesses some of his classmates passing a small package around but it's not until someone passes it to Nick that he discovers exactly what's going on. It's a game. A game called Erebos. Once you begin playing, you have to stick to the rules (and secrecy is key) or you can be eliminated. Nick quickly becomes obsessed with Erebos, spending all of his free time inside the game. But playing the game comes with a price. Nick soon has assignments in the real world that affect his status in the game. And the game knows if someone fails to complete an assignment or breaks the rules in any way.

Holy moly! I got a bit obsessed with reading this book. First, I mentioned my insomnia has been pretty bad of late. I'm normally focused on trying to get back to sleep on these nights, but sometimes it's obvious that's not going to happen. And that was the case at least one night this week, which led to some 3 am Erebos reading (which led to reading through most of the wee hours, though I did manage another hour or so of shut eye). Second, the book drew me in in such a way that I was pretty desperate to get to lunch breaks and end of the work day just so I could get back to reading. I was dying to know what the real deal with the game would turn out to be!

Erebos moves along at a great pace, enhancing the overall tension of the story. I was as anxious about Nick's return to the game as he was and wondered alongside him just who the other players were. I absolutely loved the game play. I don't play a lot of games and part of the reason for that is that I do typically become a little too involved in them, playing for HOURS until all of the sudden I'm done and have to reintegrate myself into the non video game world. And I'm not very good at it, so the book world is much, much less frustrating. But I could easily understand the characters' sort manic obsession with the game. Poznanski does a great job of illustrating the emotion and the frantic desperation of the players.

But of course the mysterious Emily is one of my favorite characters. I won't say why, but she's pretty fabulous overall. I'd imagine I'd respond to Erebos much the way she does.

Reading multiple gaming thrillers this month wasn't entirely intentional. I can admit, though, that each of them has been such a good read that I'd happily continue the trend through the end of March! I'm considering it. I think have a few more appropriate titles hanging around.

This is the first of Poznanski's books to be translated into English and was released last year by Annick Press. Judith Pattinson handled the translation and has done a pretty great job. Some of the dialogue is a bit clunky, but I find that's pretty common in translated works for some reason. Overall it was a great read thanks to Pattinson's work.

Rating: 5/5

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

The Demonologist by Andrew Pyper

We got hit by another big snow recently and I figured it would be the perfect time to squeeze in a much needed horror read. Which is not to say that I haven't had some great reads of late, but that sometimes a girl just needs some horror! And since Andrew Pyper's The Demonologist was freshly released and in my absolutely must read as soon as possible stack, it was pretty impeccable timing. The Demonologist was almost - just barely not - a one sitting read, folks. Had I not taken some time out to watch The Following, I would have wrapped up reading Pyper's latest that evening.

David Ullman is a father, a professor, and a husband. Though his marriage is on the rocks, his daughter is still the most important thing in his life. When a mysterious visitor offers Ullman an all-expense-paid trip to Venice, he's understandably leery. The woman in question claims that his expertise as a demonologist is needed. Ullman is not a "demonologist" but rather an English professor with a focus on literature the likes of Milton's Paradise Lost. Strangely, the woman is uninterested in Ullman's arguments. She doesn't even offer any details regarding the request. Ullman is ready to reject the offer altogether until he realizes that it might be a nice trip for him and his daughter, Tess, especially in light of the sudden news that his wife is leaving them both. But Venice turns out to be a nightmare and Tess is lost, presumed dead. Ullman believes otherwise and is dead set on saving her, even if it means making a deal with the devil himself.

The Demonologist brought to mind Dan Simmons's Song of Kali, another book about a father desperately trying to save his child. Both books are dark and chilling reads, though Pyper's tale stops short of becoming quite as shocking as Simmons's debut.

There are certainly many strong elements in The Demonologist as a whole, but two things in particular stood out for me. First is Ullman and his inner dialogue. I'm sure there's a different term for this that's much more appropriate but Ullman spends a lot of time on his own, pondering the clues he believes are set forth for him and mulling over Milton's Paradise Lost. It struck a chord for me and added an emotional depth that's missing from a lot of the more rushed horror out today.

The second thing that stood out for me were the literary references in the story. I should point out that I've never had to read Paradise Lost in any form. I do love the incorporation of literature in other fiction, however, and thought Pyper used it quite well here even for someone with very little knowledge of Milton's work.

Rumor has it The Demonologist is currently under option for film. Maybe, for once, a demon movie will actually appeal to me (they're usually at the bottom of my to watch list for the genre). After having read this one, though, I have to admit it has definite movie potential considering it's both intensely creepy and smart.

Thus far I've had the pleasure of reading just two other books by Pyper: The Killing Circle and The Guardians. Killing Circle definitely warrants a reread, but you can check out my review for Bookbitch.com in the site archives.

Rating: 4/5

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Books I Had to Have and Still Haven't Read

I've decided to jump on board with Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week the topic, Top Ten Books We Had to Have and Still Haven't Read. Ugh, there are way more than ten in my case - this is going to be an embarrassing post.

Let me preface this by saying that my expectation of being a broke college student led to some massive book hoarding on my part. In reality, I got a job at a bookstore and never had a lack of things to read on hand but the pattern was already set.

1. Apartment 16 by Adam Nevill - Nevill is a UK horror author who's latest releases ARE out here in the US. This was one of his UK only titles that I had to special order from overseas. Sadly it's still on my TBR. 

2. Divergent by Veronica Roth - everyone was talking about it so of course I had to have it. One of these days I'll get around to it (sooner rather than later).

3. The World House by Guy Adams - another horror-ish title. I'm not quite sure because I've yet to read it! I do pick it up frequently trying to squeeze it into the reading schedule but it's yet to happen. 

4. Clive Barker's entire Books of Blood collection - I don't feel terribly guilty about this one except for the fact that they're short stories and I feel like I should be able to get to them fairly regularly. This was more of a long term had to have for the book collection as a whole. 

5. The Magicians and Mrs. Quent by Galen Beckett - supposedly very "if you like Jonathan Strange... you'll like this" but I wouldn't know as of yet (in truth, I have accumulated three titles in this series by now 'cause, you know, what if I can't find them when I am ready to read them?)

6. The Meaning of Night by Michael Cox - gothically tinged Victorian mystery. I've got it and the follow up in hardcover. 

7. The Stone Council by Jean Christophe-Grange - (French thrillers) I've read one of this author's books and seen movie adaptations of two others (the books of which are on my TBR as well). I actually joined the 2013 Translation Challenge with getting to his books in mind!

8. The Quiet Girl by Peter Hoeg - I was so excited when this book came out. I've read Smilla and Borderliners and this one has been sitting on my TBR since its release. 

9. The Tomb by F. Paul Wilson - when The Keep was rereleased, I wanted to read through the Adversary Cycle. Unfortunately this second book was the only one available at the time (and it's the first Repairman Jack book). I held out until the rest of the Cycle was available and then... didn't buy them. BUT I did just read the new prequel to the Repairman Jack series so I can see The Tomb being bumped up soon. 

10. Among Others by Jo Walton - what can I say? I've heard nothing but AMAZING things about this book and I still haven't been able to get to it. I have a nice hardcover copy waiting patiently for me. 

There are so many others - I've got a backlist collection of Minette Walters, Sarah Rayne (special ordered from the UK), Barbara Vine/Ruth Rendell, Peter Straub, and Dan Simmons. I tend to start buying up backlist once I discover an author I like. I think I've been permanently scarred by books going out of print in my bookseller days! 

Dark Tide by Elizabeth Haynes

Hi, everyone! Today I'm a stop on the TLC blog tour for Elizabeth Haynes's latest, Dark Tide.

Last year there was a ton of buzz around Haynes's debut release, Into the Darkest Corner. Having read it in just about one sitting (on an amazingly pretty afternoon here in CO), I can say that all of that buzz was warranted. Into the Darkest Corner was a pretty phenomenal and chilling read. You can imagine, then, that the expectations going into Dark Tide were pretty high. Readers, I was not disappointed!

Genevieve has long dreamed of buying a boat - a houseboat she can live on and fix up and maybe even do some traveling. She worked two jobs to save up enough money and now her dream has finally come true. But Genevieve's dream soon becomes a nightmare when the body of one of her old coworkers is found floating in the river near her new abode.

Dark Tide is every bit as intense and fast paced as Into the Darkest Corner. Like her debut, Haynes tells her story in two different timelines - now and then. Now with the discovery of Caddy's body and the events that follow and then being the events that led up to the start of the book.

But don't be mistaken, these are two very different stories with two very different heroines: Genevieve is quite possibly the exact opposite of Catherine. Genevieve is a sales person by day and an exotic dancer by night. She has no qualms about doing a little extra for the job if it means getting her one step closer to her dream. But when she's harassed at work, she fights back full force. Haynes recently discussed some of the differences in writing the two books here

This author has a real talent for putting together a captivating mystery. For me, Haynes is a guaranteed one-sitting or up-all-night read, so be prepared!  Just be warned, she's seemingly not afraid to delve into the darkest reaches of her imagination. I'll admit, though, Dark Tide wasn't quite as dark and twisted as Into the Darkest Corner.

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

For more on Haynes and her work, check out her website here. You can also like her on Facebook and follow her on Twitter.

Rating 5/5

Monday, March 18, 2013

The Shadow Wars by Rod Rees

Good morning, readers! As promised, I'm a stop on the TLC blog tour for Rod Rees's The Shadow Wars today. This is the second installment in Rees's Demi-Monde series (you can see my review of the first book here).


When we last left the Demi-Monde, Ella Thomas had been elevated to the position of Messiah - at least in the eyes of some Demi-Mondians - after saving the citizens of Warsaw by opening up the boundaries of their world. Meanwhile, the president's daughter, Norma Williams, has been captured by Aleister Crowley and a dupe personality has taken her place in the real world! Norma now finds herself trapped in a world that's in the midst of a massive war and her only hope of returning to her world is surviving what comes next.

Shadow Wars begins with a bang - a huge revelation! The Demi-Monde is not at all what we were told. Instead of a training program for soldiers, there's something much more sinister at play and the mysterious Professor Bole seems to be at its heart. Which would explain why Ella kept seeing him inside the Demi Monde in book one of the series.

Readers, while this intro does provide a good rundown of the meat of The Demi-Monde: Winter I do not suggest diving into this second installment unless you have read book one. Instead, the intro/Report to the Grand Council should serve as a little refresher for those who have already read the first book. Trust me on this - you want to read the books in order.

I'm really loving this series! I can't wait until the next book comes out (next year, I believe) to see what Rees will be throwing at his characters next.

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

For more on Rees and the series, visit the book's site here. You can also visit the publisher's official page here to read excerpts (click on the book's cover or scroll down to see The Demi-Monde: Winter page as well).

Rating: 4/5

Sunday, March 17, 2013

New Releases 3/19/13

Some of the new titles hitting shelves this week are:

Pandemonium by Warren Fahy

Six Years by Harlan Coben

Quintessence by David Walton

Trinity Rising by Elspeth Cooper

The Guilty One by Lisa Ballantyne

Double Feature by Owen King

The Magnificent Desolation by Thomas O'Malley

Family Pictures by Jane Green

Heart Like Mine by Amy Hatvany

The Curve of the Earth by Simon Morden

Helsinki Blood by James Thompson

Shattered Pillars by Elizabeth Bear

Queen Victoria's Book of Spells ed by Ellen Datlow & Terri Windling

The Missing File by D. A. Mishani

The Lost by Vicki Pettersson

Deadly Virtues by Jo Bannister

The Clockwork Princess by Cassandra Clare

Inferno: Chronicles of Nick by Sherrilyn Kenyon

Fox Forever by Mary E. Pearson

17 & Gone by Nova Ren Suma

New on DVD:
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
Zero Dark Thirty
This is 40
Les Miserables

New reviews at Bookbitch.com:
The Demi-Monde: Winter by Rod Rees
Gossip by Beth Gutcheon

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Pre Pub Book Buzz: Poppet by Mo Hayder

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.

There are some massively exciting books coming out soon and Mo Hayder's latest is one of them. I put Hayder right up there on my list with Stephen King. I'm not kidding. She's dark and creepy and intense and, like King, I can't get enough of her work. 

Poppet is the latest in the Jack Caffery series and is due out March 28 in the UK and (happy, happy, happy dance we don't have to wait that long) April 30 from Grove/Atlantic here in the States!

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

Mo Hayder has for years been a master of chilling, seamlessly plotted thrillers that keep the reader glued to the page long after lights out, and fresh off of winning the Edgar Award for Best Novel for Gone, Hayder is at the top of her game. Her latest novel, Poppet, is Hayder at her most terrifying: it’s a gripping novel about the search for a dangerous mental patient on the loose.

Everything goes according to procedure when a patient, Isaac, is released into the community from a high-security mental health ward. But when the staff realizes that he was connected to a series of unexplained episodes of selfharm among the ward’s patients, and furthermore that he was released in error, they call on Detective Jack Caffery to investigate, and to track Isaac down before he can kill again. Will the terrifying little effigies Isaac made explain the incidents around the ward, or provide the clue Caffery needs to predict what he’s got planned?.

Mo Hayder is renowned for conjuring nightmares that sink under the skin, and in Poppet she has delivered a taut, unbearably suspenseful novel that will not let readers go.

Hayder is not for everyone, but if you like your thrillers dark as dark can be then I definitely recommend checking her out. Here's the series list in order:

Ritual (this one begins the Walking Man Series, part of the Jack Caffery series)

And she's got the following stand alones as well: The Devil of Nanking (aka Tokyo and my absolute favorite of her titles), Pig Island, and Hanging Hill

In my blogging history I have not done posts for all of the Hayder titles, though I have read them all. You can find reviews for all of the books (except Devil of Nanking - that one I have done here on the blog) in the Bookbitch.com alphabetical archives. 

Friday, March 15, 2013

Author Spotlight - Maureen Johnson

Hi, all! I had the chance to go out and interview Maureen Johnson at her recent tour stop in Colorado at the Tattered Cover in Highlands Ranch. You can read the full written interview over at the Bookbitch blog.

Hubs was kind enough to film the interview and the event and put together this sweet video for me! Check it out!

I had a lot of fun and Maureen was great! She was energetic and funny - this was the final stop in The Madness Underneath tour and I definitely recommend attending if she's ever in your area for an event.

Huge, huge thanks to Maureen, her agent, and her publicist as well as the folks over at the Tattered Cover for setting this up and allowing us to go out and film the interview. Hopefully I'll get to do more of these in the future.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

A Conspiracy of Alchemists by Liesel Schwarz

Hi, readers! I'm on the TLC tour for Liesel Schwarz's A Conspiracy of Alchemists this morning!

The trouble begins for Elle Chance when she accepts what should be a small charter job in Paris. The job soon becomes more complex than expected and Elle only narrowly escapes on her way back to London. When she arrives, however, she discovers that her father has been kidnapped and the man who got her into this mess insists on sticking around to keep an eye on her. But there's more going on than Elle could ever know including a surprising inheritance from her long gone mother.

Liesel Schwarz's debut is a mix of steampunk and paranormal sort of in the vein of Gail Carriger's Parasol Protectorates series. Where Carriger's series is set in the 1800s, however, Schwarz has set her book in the early 1900s.

A Conspiracy of Alchemists begins a bit rocky. The interaction between Elle and Marsh is not unlike that of Alexia and Maccon, but Schwarz doesn't manage to capture quite the same chemistry. The arguments between Elle and Marsh were awkward and seemingly ill placed - or chalked up to a woman's prerogative to change her mind - either way it just didn't quite work for me. Because of the similarities in setting and such, it's hard not to draw comparison to Carriger's work, which may be an unfair comparison except that Carriger's debut was much smoother in comparison to Schwarz's.

Now, this is not at all to say that I didn't like Schwarz's book. Quite the opposite in fact, it's a quick read and I thought it was overall very fun. The world is great and the steampunk elements are dead on. Even the characters - when they're not bickering - are enjoyable. Most of the stumbles I'd put down to first time issues and expect will work out better in subsequent releases. And for readers who enjoy steampunk and paranormal (like I do), Schwarz is a fine addition!

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

For more on Liesel Schwarz, check out her website here. You can also like her on Facebook and follow her on Twitter.

Rating: 3.5/5

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

The Silence of Bonaventure Arrow by Rita Leganski

Morning, all! Today I'm a stop on the TLC blog tour for Rita Leganski's debut, The Silence of Bonaventure Arrow.

I have to apologize for the short review here as my insomnia has been wreaking absolute havoc on my brain. Considering how much I enjoyed this book, though, perhaps less is more -- it'll lessen the chance that I'll give too much away and spoil it for you!

Bonaventure Arrow was born without a sound. But he was gifted with the ability to hear like no other. And he uses his gift to listen. He can hear the most subtle of sounds, those that elude everyone around him, including the sound of his father's voice - a man who was murdered before Bonaventure was born. That act and Bonaventure's gift are pieces in a puzzle that has been building for years. Soon, another person - this one gifted with Knowing - will come to help Bonaventure unravel the puzzle and help those around him finally heal. 

Oh, how I loved Rita Leganski's debut! It's a magical read and an emotional one at that. I loved the characters, I loved the premise, I loved everything about it really. But I especially loved how the author captured the essence of Louisiana. This book made me more than a little homesick!

In reading the book, I really don't see how it could have been set anywhere else. The fictional Bayou Cymbaline and historic New Orleans make the perfect backdrop for this kind of tale, supporting and lending an extra layer of belief (or suspension of disbelief). Leganski's portrayal of the time and place is so lush and real that even I -- a Louisiana girl, born and bred -- felt like I could reach out and share a beignet with Dancy and William on their honeymoon.

I have struggled with magical realism in the past. That suspension of disbelief being the biggest issue. Somehow when a book goes whole hog into the fantasy realm, I'm fine. When a story tries to balance between the magical and the everyday, however, it takes an author with real talent to draw me in. Leganski did that. It was reminiscent to what I enjoy so much in Sarah Addison Allen's work, truth be told, and I think fans of Allen's books will welcome Leganski to their reading collection with open arms. Reading this book was a true delight in every way!

To see what others on the tour thought, check out the official TLC tour page here. For a taste of Bonaventure Arrow check out the publisher's browse inside option. You can also like the author on Facebook.

Rating: 4/5

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Books on My Spring TBR

I've decided to jump on board with Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week the topic is our spring TBR. I don't know how I'll limit myself to ten, but here goes!

1. NOS4A2 by Joe Hill - this one definitely tops my list!

2. The Ashford Affair by Laura Willig - I've not read Willig before but I've been greatly anticipating this release. 

3. A Spear of Summer Grass by Deanna Raybourn - It's a bit different from her series but I love Raybourn's work. I'll read anything she writes.

4. Poppet by Mo Hayder - this is a UK release and I usually do not wait for the US edition to come out.  This is one of my favorite series (dark and creepy!) and I can't wait to get my hands on a copy!

5. The Perfume Collector by Kathleen Tessaro - I adored Tessaro's last release and expect I'll enjoy this one just as much.

6. The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker - everything I've read about this book sounds fantastic - historical fiction and folk tales. 

7. The Iron King by Maurice Druon - this one comes with a George R. R. Martin recommendation, of course it would be on my must read list!

8. Red Moon by Benjamin Percy - this one's on my radar because it's werewolf horror and because a group of coworkers recently read and enjoyed another Percy title.

9. You by Austin Grossman - an upcoming Mulholland release that's a mystery with videogames. 

10. Apocalypse Cow by Michael Logan- zombie cows sound like totally hilarious fun!

There are a TON more, but this is a taste of what I'm looking forward to reading this spring.  

Gossip by Beth Gutcheon

Morning, all! I'm a stop on the TLC blog tour for Beth Gutcheon's Gossip this morning.

In some places, gossip has become an industry. New York City, the biggest little city in the world, where everyone seems to know everything about everyone else, is just such a place. It is here that Loviah "Lovie" French and her friends Dinah and Avis have made their lives. They all attended the same boarding school in the 60s but only Lovie and Dinah remained friends after. As Lovie makes her way up in the fashion industry, eventually opening her own shop, Dinah makes a name for herself as a columnist in various papers, but leaves the business after a quietly hushed scandal. Meanwhile, Lovie and Avis reconnect and become close friends. Lovie watches as both Dinah and Avis make their families and move on in their lives and is thrilled when Dinah's youngest son falls for Avis's daughter. But Lovie soon finds herself in the middle of a mess, one that stems from some unsavory gossip, and one that ends in tragedy for them all. 

I admit I struggled a bit with the synopsis here. I didn't want to give away too much and I almost resorted to using the publisher's copy until I realized that it only thinly veils the outcome of the story anyway. In my defense, I didn't actually read the cover copy before diving into this book, and I truly think that it made it that much of a better read for me. I would love for everyone to experience the book that way.

I've not read Gutcheon before, but I certainly plan to read more of her in the future. I found myself completely entranced by this book and while it's certainly a character driven tale (and I loved them all), what initially drew me in was Gutcheon's prose. Her writing is so vivid and musical, I couldn't help but be sucked into the story.

Lovie, as the narrator, is hard not to connect with. I think you'd have to be a bit of a sourpuss not to love her. And then there are Dinah and Avis. Dinah is maddening! Her attitude towards just about everyone, including (sometimes) Lovie, makes you want to slap her. But really she's not all that bad and Gutcheon presents her in full -- warts and all, so to speak. She has her own moments and her own troubles. I had a harder time with the kids, Grace in particular, only because as the reader we get to see so much more of Avis than her own daughter does. By the time their relationship is on the mend, the story is already headed downhill.

But I didn't know that! Yes, I suspected things were coming to a head. I had no idea the outcome would be what it ended up being. It was shocking compared to the rest of the story and because it was so unexpected, it was completely jarring. This is a book that I think is going to stay with me for a while. But as I said, I'm already browsing Gutcheon's backlist for a new addition to the TBR. Gossip was a pretty excellent read in my humble opinion!

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

For more on Beth Gutcheon and her work, check out her official website here. You can also like her on Facebook and follow her on Twitter.

Rating: 5/5

Monday, March 11, 2013

The Demi-Monde: Winter by Rod Rees

A bit later this month, I'll be participating in the TLC tour for Rod Rees's The Shadow Wars, the second installment in the Demi-Monde quadrilogy, which was the prefect opportunity for me to jump into the first book of the series -- one that's been languishing in my TBR for way too long!

The Demi-Monde was created as a hyper-real military training module. While many training ops are too controlled and unable to produce a real experience, the Demi-Monde is designed to be the exact opposite. After initial programming to include some of the world's most evil sociopaths, the Demi-Monde was designed to learn. Situations are unpredictable and "players" are unaware of any other reality. To die in the Demi-Monde is to die in real life. When the president's daughter enters the Demi-Monde and is taken captive, the military is forced to send in a civilian to rescue her. Ella Thomas desperately needs the money but nothing can truly prepare her for the reality of the Demi-Monde. But Ella is clever and she is armed with two huge advantages: first, she's been armed with the knowledge of the reality she's come from. Second, she's tapped into the Demi-Monde's programming. And Ella will need all the help she can get if she's to survive and complete her mission.

Rod Rees's debut is a kind of brilliantly conceived story. It's a combination of science fiction and alternate history set in a totally Matrix-like world. For me, it works as long as I don't think too hard about it. And that's what I think a lot of science fiction is -- diving in and taking the author's word for it. It wasn't all that difficult considering Rees does a great job of making his world believable. Even if you have difficulty wrapping your head around the idea of the Demi-Monde, the characters that populate this alternate world are fantastic in every regard, helping to make the world that much more realistic.

Ella and Vanka are, of course, the stars of the show. Ella is thrust into this world and immediately acclimates. Of course being armed with the knowledge of her own world and history is of great use, especially considering she's put into a world that flourishes through adopting every bad political, racist, sexist, and religious idea out there.

Vanka is a mystery even to Ella, which leads me to believe that there will be some possibly quite interesting revelations about him to come in further installments. He's a bit of a ladies man but the chemistry between him and Ella builds fabulously.

Aside from them, we also have Trixie Dashwood, a bit of a high society gal who's got some unpopular ideas that could mean trouble for her father; Aleister Crowley serves as just one of the big bads in the Demi-Monde; Reinhard Heydrich, the head of the ForthRight and a pretty heinous character; and a slew of others both fictional and based in history.

As I mentioned, this is just the first in a series of four and there is a pretty HUGE cliffhanger ending. I can't wait to get to Shadow World now. You can look for my post in the TLC book tour on March 18.

Rating: 3.5/5

Sunday, March 10, 2013

New Releases 3/12/13

Some of the new titles hitting shelves this week are:

Bay of Fires by Poppy Gee

Rage Against the Dying by Becky Masterman

Rebellion by Ian Irvine

Breaking Point by CJ Box

A Question of Identity by Susan Hill

A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki

The Lords of Salem by Rob Zombie

Beauty by Brian D'Amato

Farthing by Jo Walton (reissue)

Rebel Angels by Michele Lang

Dark Tide by Elizabeth Haynes

Mila 2.0 by Debra Driza

Escape Theory by Margaux Foley

Strands of Bronze and Gold by Jane Nickerson

Deep Betrayal by Anne Greenwood Brown

Scowler by Daniel Kraus

Code by Kathy Reichs & Brendan Reichs

New on DVD:
Storage 24
Rise of the Guardians
Life of Pi
Ripper Street

New reviews at Bookbitch.com:
172 Hours on the Moon by Johan Harstad
A Future Arrived by Phillip Rock

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Pre Pub Book Buzz: The Shining Girls by Lauren Beukes

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.

This week I'm featuring Lauren Beukes's upcoming Mulholland release The Shining Girls. Here's a bit about the book from the publisher:

The Time Traveler's Wife meets The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo in this story of a time-traveling serial killer who is impossible to trace--until one of his victims survives.

In Depression-era Chicago, Harper Curtis finds a key to a house that opens on to other times. But it comes at a cost. He has to kill the shining girls: bright young women, burning with potential. He stalks them through their lives across different eras until, in 1989, one of his victims, Kirby Mazrachi, survives and starts hunting him back.

Working with an ex-homicide reporter who is falling for her, Kirby has to unravel an impossible mystery.

THE SHINING GIRLS is a masterful twist on the classic serial killer tale: a violent quantum leap featuring a memorable and appealing girl in pursuit of a deadly criminal.

Sounds freaking awesome! Beukes is the author of Angry Robot's Zoo City and Moxyland. The Shining Girls is due to hit shelves on June 4. (April 25 if you're in the UK.)

Thursday, March 7, 2013

The Different Girl by Gordon Dahlquist

Veronika's life is simple. Every day is the same - she and her sisters are woken up by Irene, they take a walk, they discuss what they learned with Robbert, they take a nap, they help fix dinner, and they go to bed. Sometimes they walk together, sometimes they walk in separate places. But every day is essentially and simply the same... until May arrives. Other than Robbert and Irene, May is the first person Veronika and the others have ever seen. And though Veronika, Caroline, Eleanor, and Isobel are all alike - with the exception of the color of their hair - May is different. They long to know more about this new girl and where she comes from, but May's life is complicated and, as they soon learn, dangerous. For Robbert and Irene, May's arrival also means facing the one thing they've always feared - the possibility they'll be discovered by other outsiders.

Gordon Dahlquist has long been on my favorites list thanks to his exceptional debut, The Glass Books of the Dream EatersThe Different Girl is Dahlquist's first teen release and while I'm a definite fan girl - and therefore not the most objective reader in this case - I found it to be equally as fabulous as Glass Books. I also thought it was kind of perfect for both adult and teen audiences. I think others will be just as impressed.

The story is unique in that much of it is left unsaid. Veronika is perfect as a narrator but she is unaware of a lot of the details about the world she lives in - and so those details are only touched upon through things she observes and hears. We do glean from the narrative the fact that this is a world that has certain prejudices against technology. The girls are kept secret and the urgency with which Robbert and Irene guard them is supported through their actions. Veronika is also unique amongst the other girls, testing boundaries the others never really consider until May arrives.

The story walks a fine line with just enough missing information to intrigue readers rather than frustrate them. I'm sure there will be others who feel differently, but for me it was the perfect balance. To be fair, Dahlquist is kind of a master at weird stories in my opinion, so I did expect something a bit outside of the box in this latest. I wasn't let down. The Different Girl is most definitely going down as one of my favorite reads this year!

Rating: 5/5

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Children of Liberty by Paullina Simons

Morning, all! Today I'm a stop on the TLC tour for Paullina Simons's latest, Children of Liberty.

A brief aside and intro here but this is my first time reading Simons. Which is odd considering I have had a copy of The Bronze Horseman for a shamefully long time. So long, in fact, that I brought it along for my week long "vacation" having my wisdom teeth removed. Yeah, no reading happened that week! Anyway, upon learning that Children of Liberty is in fact a prequel to Bronze Horseman, I figured this was my chance! Thankfully, a fellow reviewer on the tour has read the other books and was able to answer my biggest question about just how this ties in with HorsemanChildren of Liberty is about Alexander's parents!

Gina's father longed to bring his family to America but it wasn't until after his death that his wife and remaining children were finally able to make the journey. Upon their arrival, the family meets Ben Shaw and Harry Barrington, two young men who come to their aid as new immigrants. Ben is immediately drawn to Gina, but it's Harry who will capture her affections in this new world. 

I couldn't help comparing this to Adriana Trigiani's The Shoemaker's Wife for obvious reasons. In reality, other than the romance aspect, they are very different books.

I love the historical context in Children of Liberty: Ben and his bananas (and the Panama Canal), early Massachusetts, and the constant friction between Gina and her family with regards to proper behavior. She shines as a headstrong and willful girl who seems to have the best of intentions. All in all, Children of Liberty is a wonderfully atmospheric historical tale and one that no doubt has only begun - while I have heard that this is just part of their story, it was quite clear that even considering The Bronze Horseman we haven't seen the last of Gina and Harry. It's equally clear that their future is going to be rocky.

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

For more on Simons and her work, check out her official website. You can also like her on Facebook and follow her on Twitter.

Rating: 3/5

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Series I'd Like to Start

I've decided to jump on board with Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week the topic is series we'd like to start. Such an excellent topic! There are so many I've been meaning to dive into.

1. Outlander by Diana Gabaldon - I know, shame on me for not having read these yet! I have the whole series in hand. My grandmother loved them and wanted the hardcovers to replace her paperbacks, so I got the second hand paperbacks by default (my sister is now reading the hardcovers).

2. The Mortal Instruments by Cassandra Clare - I actually have the first three on hand for a binge beginning to this series, I just haven't had a chance to start them as of yet. 

3. Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl - again, I have the first one in hand. The plan was to read BEFORE I saw the movie but I didn't have time. In my defense on this one I was waiting to borrow the book from my sister. 

4. Delirium by Lauren Oliver - see reason above! I bought the first in the series for one of my sisters and had to wait to borrow it. She just recently sent it to me (and then I'll have to buy her the rest of them!). 

5. The Necromancer Chronicles by Amanda Downum - my plan is to read more fantasy in general this year. This is a trilogy that I have in my TBR stack in its entirety, so there's really no excuse other than squeezing it in!

6. Chronicles of the Necromancer by Gail Z. Martin - (lots of necromancers!). I've technically begun reading in this world but this is the first series by Martin. I started with the Fallen Kings Cycle, set in the same world but technically a separate series (even though it features a lot of the same characters). Now I have to work my way back. 

7. The Kingkiller Chronicle by Patrick Rothfuss - I have heard nothing but great things about these so far. I only recently bought the first in the series and there are only two out at this point - I'm not too far behind!

8. Benny Imura series by Jonathan Maberry - this is Maberry's teen zombie series and is another that I've been meaning to start for quite some time and just haven't had the chance yet. 

9. October Daye series by Seanan McGuire - I've read McGuire's alternate personality - Mira Grant - but haven't started her paranormal series just yet. I loved her Newsflesh books though and am pretty certain I'll enjoy these. 

10. Pink Carnation series by Laura Willig - this is another series I've heard wonderful things about - a combination romance and espionage in a historical setting. I've got the first and have brought it on trips in the past but I never manage to read as much as I plan on vacations!

Trust me when I say there are a ton more. I've inherited entire series from my grandmother's collection, too!