Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Tomorrow's Blog, Today

I decided that I should post this before I lose my train of thought (it happens!). I am winding my way through the final chapters of Jane Johnson's debut, The Tenth Gift, probably about an hour away from finishing it up, and I decided it would be my next post.

I love books about books, when they are done right. I fall for every Da Vinci Code inspired title as well as the lost diary found stories. Of course this would include anything from "real" books as characters to the diaries mentioned above to the fictional tales of Shadow of the Wind. I love them. They're fun, they usually have a historical twist to them, and they fall into each and every category and genre there is. Some are strict mystery, I've come across horror that uses this theme, some are more literary titles. I'll give them all a shot. Yes, it is another of the patterned sort-of gimmicks that attracts my browsing attention in shops!

Author Jane Johnson is an interesting one herself. She has worked in the books industry for 20 years (per her website) and worked on Tolkien's titles, Peter Jackson's film adaptations of LOTR, has written a series of children's titles, and published separate titles under two pseudonyms. Today she works as the Fiction Publishing Director for Harpercollins UK (a title that would make any bibliophile envious). Now she's got a new title being released on May 6, the topic of which was inspired by research into her own family's history.

The Tenth Gift, aka Crossed Bones in the UK, involves two women who are linked through a common interest, but really much more than that. Present day, Julia Lovat's longtime lover has decided to break it off and try to make a go of it with his wife. As a parting gift, he gives Julia an old book called "The Needle Woman's Glorie," a centuries old piece featuring embroidery patterns of the time. Within the pages of the book is something of much more historical value than the patterns, though. It seems the original owner of the book was a girl called Catherine Anne Tregenna, Cat for short. In 1625, Cat begins to write her own story within the pages of the book. In July of that year, Cat is kidnapped by corsairs from Morocco and taken to Africa where she is to be sold into slavery. The more Julia learns of Cat's tale, the more questions she has about what happened to the girl. Cat's story will have a profound affect on Julia's own life and send her on an adventure that begins to resemble Cat's own. 

I have to say that this book is absolutely living up to each and every expectation I had for it. Johnson weaves an intricate tale that I can only compare to the likes of Carol Goodman. It's a literary adventure with a dash of mystery, romance, adventure, and history all woven together in a really great read!

Another Must Read From My Collection!

I know I've talked about her before, but I was searching on the internet and saw that even from over the pond, a blurb from my review of Hayder's Ritual made it to her site! Yay! Considering the fact that Hayder is one of my absolute favorites, this is pretty cool stuff!

This little book left was my introduction to Hayder - official since she had already been recommended to me. 

We got in this ARC along with a couple of others and I eyed this baby all through a meeting with our Loss Prevention dude at BN. It was actually like my first day, or week, or month at the new store and I think it was the first ARC I happened to see there. I can't for the life of me remember what else was sitting on that table, but this one intrigued me.

The Devil of Nanking is about a woman named Grey who travels to Japan to look for a piece of film from the 1937 Nanking Massacre. The film itself is only rumored to exist, but shows something so gruesome that for years people have told Grey she made it up. Grey has been institutionalized, for what we don't know until the very end of the book. She contacts a scholar she believes has this footage and he agrees to hand it over on one condition, Grey must find something for him first. Grey gets work in a men's club in Japan in an attempt to gain access to a local mob leader who has what the scholar wants. 

I promise you this is the ultimate in creepy, suspenseful, up-all-night reads! I have recommended it to numerous people, some of whom have come back and told me that this was the most disturbing book they'd ever read, and they loved it! It's gruesome and gory and everything that's missing from really great scary reads. As I've said before, though, none of it is gratuitous. 

Since then, I have become a severely impatient Hayder fan who just cannot wait for the American release. I ordered both Pig Island and Ritual from mystery bookstores who stock UK editions, so that I could get my Hayder fix. If you haven't read her yet, I envy you as I am now impatiently waiting for a book that will be at least a year in the making! 

Devil and Pig are both stand-alones. The remaining three titles all feature DI Jack Caffery, a damaged hero if ever there was one. First comes Birdman then Treatment (which I think was the most disturbing for me by far) and finally Ritual (can also be read as a stand-alone) which hits shelves in the states in September, but for the extra cost you can get it from High Crimes or The Poisoned Pen. 

Happy reading!

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

I must be missing out!

I moved away (far away) from teen books at a pretty early age. I sometimes revisited them if an author I was particularly fond of had one out (the recent Joanne Harris title Runestones, for example). Other than that, I pay attention thanks to my sisters.

I tried for years to get them reading. There are three of them by the way. One was a reading queen - she was super competitive and so was of the mind that she had to be the best at everything, including the AR goals. She's now into chick-lit and has less time to read than the other two because she is always worried about homework What's up with that? When I was in school I hardly had any. It's so not fair that kids have no time for anything else these days.

Anyway, of the other two, one absolutely fell in love with Eragon and has been a junior junkie since and the other was apparently always a closet junkie - reading when she was supposed to be sleeping so no one ever knew.

I actually had a copy of Twilight. Mike picked it up for me thinking it sounded like something I would like, and it did except that it was a teen title. Meanwhile, junior junkie #1 had moved on from dragons to vamps, so I sent it to her. She LOVED it! My copy was early so she was one of the first to read it. I managed to snag an early copy of the second thanks to a friend, but she had to make mom go buy her the third. Now she is on pins and needles for the 4th! At least she gets a reprieve. The Host is already on its way to her doorstep she just has to wait a few more days.

This one is sure to cause some trouble between junkie #1 and junkie #2 since they've been swapping books due to economic troubles - yeah, on my part! They have me buy them books and ship them across 4 states saying that they never know what to buy! I have to say, I have read The Host. It was fantastic and now I am really wishing that I had held onto Twilight long enough to read it myself. Am sorely tempted to head out and buy the paperback so that I can no longer be one of the ones missing out! I'm waiting for the movie with as much anticipation as my sisters.

My snobbery is not because I feel I am too old for teen titles. It's simply this, I have so much to read that I can't branch out to teen stuff as well! I can definitely make room for the occasional one, though, before being the good sister and passing it along. A good book is a good book either way and Stephenie Meyer has an amazing following amongst both teens and adults.

I'm rambling here. Like I said, after The Host, I want to go read about Bella and Edward! The Host, pictured right, is due out May 6 and I highly recommend it, even if you aren't normally into paranormal titles. In fact, it focuses more on one pocket of the human resistance after the alien invasion and Wanderer who is an outsider amongst her own kind. Super fun!

Monday, April 28, 2008

What I am working on

I have no blog today thanks to a visiting friend and the book pictured left. This is what I am currently working on. The book is going to the printer in June and I am trying to wrap things up so that it will be a complete book.

Anyway, like I said, this is what I am working on and today, the visiting friend (who is a bit hungover thanks to the reunion party that they had yesterday - read not feeling sorry one bit since I didn't drink) will be heading to Denver with a couple of us for lunch and bargain book shopping at the Tattered Cover! Should have some great (but really not necessary as the TBR shelves are overflowing) additions to my book collection this afternoon.

Stay tuned for a real blog tomorrow. Oh, and this is not going to be the real cover for GA. I have yet to pick the photos for that!

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Weekly release update

Coming this Tuesday:

Child 44 by Tom Rob Smith - one of the most talked about debuts so far this year and it is worth all of the hype. How does one track down a serial killer in a country that has no crime?
The Lady Elizabeth by Alison Weir - historical fiction that traces the life of Elizabeth 1 from the age of three until the beginning of her monarchy.
The Deal by Adam Gittlin - a great "smart" thriller for fans of Joseph Finder and Stephen Frey
Cathedral of the Sea by Ildefonso Falcones - Spanish import that's been getting a lot of buzz
The Queen's Bastard by C. E. Murphy - Elizabethan based fantasy 
Darkest Night by Gena Showalter - first in a new paranormal romance series based on Pandora's box myth
These Boots Were Made for Strutting by Lisa Cach, Gemma Halliday, and Melanie Jackson - how the perfect pair of shoes really can transform a woman
Bloodstone by Nate Kenyon - Stoker nominated UK horror title
5th Witch by Graham Masterton
Fiancee at her Fingertips by Kathleen Bacus - when a "guy" designed to keep matchmakers off your back becomes just a little too real
One Foot in the Grave by Jeaniene Frost - Follow up to last year's paranormal mystery debut Halfway to the Grave

27 Dresses

New reviews up at bookbitch.com:
Child 44
The Lady Elizabeth
The Queen's Bastard
Darkest Night
The Deal

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Them - A movie review

The film that terrified Europe...

Ok, with a tag line like that one, you know I had to find a copy of this movie. I walked to Target (not a long walk and with gas prices...). Nope, not in stock. I did, however, find the remake of Romero's Day of the Dead with Mena Suvari and Ving Rhames. As an aside, why all the zombie haters all of the sudden? I thought Day was getting a theatrical release ands instead it's straight to DVD! That's worse than Diary of the Dead which only played in Denver. 

Anyway, back to Them or Ils (the French title). Best Buy had copies and an ran over to get one. I then sat and waited for it to get dark. Again, with that tag line there, I needed the right atmosphere. 

The movie begins with a mother and daughter driving down the road, arguing, in Romania. The mother sees something in the street and crashes her van into a tree trying to swerve to avoid it. Of course she gets out to investigate and there is nothing there. Then, the car won't start. She gets under the hood while her daughter attempts to rev the engine. No dice. Then mom vanishes. Daughter gets out and investigates, yelling "mom" over and over until someone answers. Significantly freaked, she hops back in the car only to find that the keys are missing. She holds her hand over the door lock and tried to call the cops but gets put on hold! Then, predictably, while she was out looking for ma, one of the killers gets in the car and that's the end for daughter. All in the prologue.

Cut to Clementine and Lucas, a French couple who have been in Romania for 3 months. Clem's house just happens to be down the road from where the prologue incident occurred and she passes the accident site on her way home. The couple spend an uneventful evening together and settle down for the night. But, something wakes Clem at 3:45. Noises outside, car mysteriously sitting somewhere she didn't park it. Lucas goes to look, the car revs up aims at him a couple of times and then backs away, down the drive. They call the cops (who seem to be rather inefficient in this movie) and are told to call back in the morning regarding their stolen vehicle. Then the power goes out!

Ok, I think that's enough of a description. Sounds strikingly similar to the upcoming film The Strangers and though both movies are about a couple being harassed in their homes, and claim to be based on actual events (most likely a mish-mash of actual cases), and taking into account that I have not seen the Tyler/Speedman flick, I think that they are going to be very different outcomes. Course the outcome of Them is the creepiest aspect of the film.

Mike found it to be rather cliche, I thought it was pretty good and definitely f-ed up! Not much gore, not much blood, and it doesn't fall into the new torture porn genre either. No worries for the squeamish! Watch it in French with the subtitles!

Friday, April 25, 2008

Be Adventurous!

When I first got into reading, I was one of those who was skeptical of each and every "new" book that I came across. I can't explain what might have been going through my head at the time, but I was new to the hobby and not alone in my fear of reading something I wouldn't like. A lot of people still suffer from this, fortunately I broke out of it once I ran through every single book by four authors. I began with RL Stine, moved onto Christopher Pike, then Richie Tankersly Cusick, and finally Dean Koontz.

Yep, after that I had to broaden my reading horizons. I was in middle school at the time and obviously there was still a world of books to discover (something that never changes). 

By the time I had my driver's license, I had learned that almost any bribe could earn me books. I blame it on my mom who, when I was 13, would promise me books in exchange for helping babysit my three little sisters. Anyway, it was around that time that I really started to explore new release sections and got completely hooked on hardcovers! Expensive habit to have. It's easier to be adventurous with someone else's money! I do have to say that this was all before I started my first job, and once I had started working, all of my money went to books. 

To the point. My newly discovered adventurous tendency to randomly pick up and buy books by authors I had never heard of (ah, my favorite thing to do these days) happened to coincide with what I believe was the beginning of the Scandinavian craze. There is no doubt today that Scandinavian authors have dug a niche for themselves in the mystery genre. They have a style that is completely their own - something you can detect almost from page one. It's hard to explain, but it's there. 

The book pictured above is a title called Blackwater by Kerstin Ekman, a book that is amazingly still in print today! It was about a mother and daughter who find the bodies of two murder victims in the woods. The daughter grows up and the murder is still unsolved, but a series of events is about to change all of that. Another discovery I made around the same time was Peter Hoeg's Smilla's Sense of Snow. I loved both the book and the movie.

Since then, there has been an explosion of these releases. Arnaldur Indrason, Asa Larsson, Kjell Erickson, Henning Mankell, Karin Fossum, the list just goes on and on. 

So, if you're in the mood to try something different, give one of these guys a try, or just browse around and pick up something you've never heard of. It's always a gamble, but I find that I like it more often than not!

Thursday, April 24, 2008

It's the quiet ones you have to watch out for

Jennifer McMahon eased onto the scene last year with her debut Promise Not to Tell. It was a quiet ease, she barely made any waves. But wait, that's not entirely true. Promise was gaining attention even before it hit shelves. I'm not even sure where I heard about it first, but I do know that I was looking for it the day it was supposed to have been released.

Promise Not to Tell is about a murder in a small town. Kate Cypher has returned home to care for her mother and finds out that on the day of her arrival, the body of a young girl was found. The murder uncovers old memories and suspicions that the town, and Kate, would rather not consider. When Kate was a child she was friends with a local farm girl named Del. Del was the kid that all of their classmates made fun of. One day Del was found murdered and Kate has to wonder if the latest crime is tied into the one from so long ago. 

Promise is one part eerie mystery, one part coming-of-age story, and one part self-discovery tale. There's a slight supernatural twist that really makes you wonder, just as Kate does, could Del be seeking revenge from the grave?

Funny story about my experience with Promise, right after I finished reading it, I get this call from my uncle who is raving about this book he just read. He put it in the mail and when it arrived guess what it was. 

McMahon's latest, The City of Lost Girls in which the main character witnesses a strange kidnapping, has just hit shelves and I encourage anyone looking for a really great read to go pick them up. 

McMahon also has a hardcover title being released this year called My Tiki Girl.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Makes you wonder what's going on in people's heads

J.D. Rhoades's post on Murderati today got me thinking and I felt like my comment there had to be cut short (I can get longwinded, you know?) so here are some more thoughts.

To sum up, and I suggest you just hit the link and look at his post 'cause he's got some great links attached, an author openly bashed a reviewer on Amazon for giving her book a 3 star review. 3 star people, as in middle of the road. The author then claimed that she had hired PI who had tracked the reviewer down and she now had all this person's personal information, knew her family and their names, and knew where they all lived. CREEPY WENCH! I realize this is a totally open forum and just anyone can stumble upon this, but give me a break! I don't even know my horrible neighbor's name and don't care to even after her atrocious behavior towards us. Sure, I mutter names under my breath when I see her outside, but to go to this much trouble against someone who hasn't done anything to hurt you personally - it wasn't even a BAD review that said the book stunk - is, frankly, unprofessional.

I understand that an author pours their heart and soul into a book (or they should, if the effort is not there, it shows). I also understand that a published author, and even a non-published author, is doing something that I have never done and don't know if I ever will. I admire each and every one of them for that. The understanding by getting your name out there on a title people can pick up in the grocery store line, is that you have now opened yourself up to both criticism and praise and you should handle yourself with some decorum. Everyone who reads this knows that I write book reviews. As a reviewer, however I really like a book, I want the review to reflect it and I agonize over every single typo that makes its way in at 2am! When I don't like a book, but can still see that it was written well and that others will like it (which is the case most of the time) I try to say what I didn't like about it and then counter it with something positive. When I absolutely can't stand a book (there have only been 3 in the 2+ years that I've done this) I feel a great sense of disappointment, not just that I could have been reading something better, or that I had hoped it would redeem itself and it didn't, but that I now have to tell people that I didn't like it, on an open forum. I feel guilty about every single bad review that I give. It's hard to write them and this is something that I am trying to overcome so that I can give readers an honest opinion. I like to think that if I have readers who seek out my reviews, that they take my opinion with a grain of salt and understand that it is strictly MY opinion and unless they miraculously have the exact same taste in books as I do, that they will not rely solely on what I say. I know this is not the case after working in retail book sales for over 6 years, but I can hope. Now, to think that an author could get so incensed over one of my reviews that they would even think of tracking me down and coming to get me with their loyal henchmen is kind of ridiculous! But hey, if I disliked their book enough to post a BAD review, I still wouldn't retract it. Let me reiterate, I feel absolutely awful when I can't find anything good to say about a book, but would I really be doing the readers justice by lying? I would lose any credibility that I may have earned if I kept telling people to read clunkers.

My question is this, why oh why, if the author is so up in arms about a review that anyone and everyone can see, why would they counter that review by openly posting the fact that they are a psycho-lunatic on the same forum? I personally, as a reader who looks up to and even reveres some authors, am turned off by such behavior to a point that I will not read this author. If it were behavior shown by someone I happen to be a fan of, I would no longer read their books, either. Why would I want to support the career of someone who would potentially fall off the rails and come after me? Authors rely on people's opinions. Even if you write a BAD book, most readers will give you another shot. If you piss off your readers, though, you can pretty much kiss your career goodbye. Piss off some and you can survive, piss off all of them and who but those that live in a cave without internet are going to buy your next book?

I should probably counter this post by saying I hope I have not offended anyone. I want people to read my blog, I want people to seek out my reviews (except for the ones with blatant typos). I don't want to lose respect in the industry that I am trying so hard to make a career of. Frankly though, I think the above author should be shamed and embarrassed by her actions. I think if she ever were to come across this post (and hunt me down!) that she should at least realize that her actions have caused her to lose at least one potential reader. I don't think that I have written anything here that would cause me to do the same.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

I Forgot One

I've been looking forward to this book for so long that I forgot today was the official release date. Australian author Kate Morton makes her US debut with this haunting and gothic tale. Here's the starred review from PW. Visit KateMorton.com for more.

"This debut page-turner from Australian Morton recounts the crumbling of a prominent British family as seen through the eyes of one of its servants. At 14, Grace Reeves leaves home to work for her mother's former employers at Riverton House. She is the same age as Hannah, the headstrong middle child who visits her uncle, Lord Ashbury, at Riverton House with her siblings Emmeline and David. Fascinated, Grace observes their comings and goings and, as an invisible maid, is privy to the secrets she will spend a lifetime pretending to forget. But when a filmmaker working on a movie about the family contacts a 98-year-old Grace to fact-check particulars, the memories come swirling back. The plot largely revolves around sisters Hannah and Emmeline, who were present when a family friend, the young poet R.S. Hunter, allegedly committed suicide at Riverton. Grace hints throughout the narrative that no one knows the real story, and as she chronicles Hannah's schemes to have her own life and the curdling of younger Emmeline's jealousy, the truth about the poet's death is revealed. Morton triumphs with a riveting plot, a touching but tense love story and a haunting ending."

Already published in both Australia (as The Shifting Fog) and the UK, House at Riverton has been generating quite a bit of buzz. I can't wait to get my hands on a copy and see if it's worth the hype. I sincerely hope it is, I love these modern gothic tales and just can't get enough of them!

Monday, April 21, 2008

Out Tomorrow

Books hitting shelves tomorrow:
Whole Truth by David Baldacci
Santa Fe Dead by Stuart Woods
Quicksand by Iris Johansen

Now for the DVDs:
Cloverfield - loved it! Definitely lived up to the hype and they are currently in talks to do a sequel
The Orphanage - a Spanish horror film that is worth the watch (and the subtitles). I'll definitely be buying this one and highly recommend it.
One Missed Call - a remake of the Japanese film by the same name. The American version is a little easier to understand. There is a sequel to the Japanese film as well. 
Charlie Wilson's War - I've not seen it yet, but I have heard great things about it. 

New reviews up at bookbitch.com
River of Heaven by Lee Martin (fantastic book!)
The Death Chamber by Sarah Rayne (one of my UK faves)
After Hours at the Almost Home by Tara Yellen
The Philosopher's Apprentice by James Morrow

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Another Oldie but Goodie And He Has a New Book Coming Out

Author and artist Jonathan Santlofer is back with another "different" sort of murder mystery. Murder Notebook, follow-up to last year's Anatomy of Fear, is the second book to feature NYPD police sketch artist Nate Rodrigues. Santlofer, an artist of many means, also illustrates these mysteries (very cool!).

Santlofer is also the author of a trilogy of gruesome thrillers featuring Kate McKinnon. Kate, once a cop and now an art historian, is asked to assist on cases with what you might call artistic implications. In Death Artist, after killing a good friend of Kate's the murderer begins to communicate with her through his work - leaving intricate clues in art that only Kate can unravel. In book two, Color Blind, a killer uses his victims to create chilling works of art and Kate, after helping with the Death Artist, is once again called upon for her expertise. Finally, in the third installment to the series, Killing Art, Kate, after surviving the horrific incidents linked to the last case, is working on a new book about the "New York School" of painters. Unfortunately, her help is needed once again when a serial killer begins targeting collectors who happen to own pieces by these very same artists. 

Santlofer draws on his own art expertise to flesh out these art-based thrillers, giving readers interesting insight into the New York art scene, while also creating some fantastic page-turning mysteries. In Killing Art, Santlofer provides black and white artwork within the story that goes along with what you are reading. He continues this in his latest two titles. It's an innovative way to meld the two - art and murder mystery - making it a one-of-a-kind reading experience that I highly recommend! Be warned, Santlofer is wonderfully graphic.

Friday, April 18, 2008

The UPS Fairy Visited My House Today

Jeri Smith-Ready's latest title has had a reserved space at the top of my TBR pile since I first heard about it. Here's the description from Amazon:

Newbie marketing intern Ciara Griffin lands a job at WMMP, a station threatened with being sold to Skyware, a giant communications conglomerate, unless ad revenue picks up. A former con artist with a canny way with people, Ciara soon learns that the DJs are undead and specialists in the musical eras in which they were turned into vampires. One of them, Shane McAllister (turned in 1995), is really hot and dangerously tempting. In order to attract more listeners, Ciara promotes a new marketing strategy and the Sherwood, Md., station becomes 94.3 WVMP, the Lifeblood of Rock and Roll, exploiting the fang factor (which no listener takes seriously) for profit. It works, until an ancient vampire cult wants to pull the plug. Also playing in is The Control, an equally ancient paramilitary group created to protect good vampires and kill bad ones. Smith-Ready's musical references are spot on, as is her take on corporate radio's creeping airwave hegemony. Add in the irrepressible Ciara, who grew up in a family of grifters, and the results rock.

My review copy just came in today and I am super excited! 

Some other recent acquisitions or mine include Adrienne Barbeau and Michael Scott's Vampyres of Hollywood. Another must have considering the fact that I actually know who Barbeau is (and you should, too. She's starred in such flicks as John Carpenter's The Fog - the original - and Escape From NY, and more recently the HBO show Carnivale).  Madeline Wickham's (aka Sophie Kinsella's) Sleeping Arrangements just joined my pile as well.

I'll be sure to let you all know how they are so you can decide if you want to add them to your stacks, too.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Why the heck is a domestic an import?

I have been known to go to some great lengths to get my hands on books that I want. Back before Matt Reilly became big, I paid beaucoup bucks to have a mass market copy of Contest and a hardcover copy of Area 7 shipped over from the UK. I still buy my Mo Hayder and Joanne Harris books this way because I just can't wait that extra 6 months knowing that the book is out there.

When I was still working at the bookstore, we received a copy of Michelle Wan's debut mystery Deadly Slipper. Interior decorator Mara Dunn has never recovered from her twin sister's disappearance nearly 20 years ago. She has relocated to the Dordogne region in France and serendipitously comes across her sister's old camera - film still intact. The film contains a series of orchid shots. Mara, convinced that this may be the key to finally uncovering Bedie's fate, contacts orchid expert, Julian Wood, to help trace Bedie's path. Julian's interest lies in a photo of what he believes is an extremely rare orchid growing in the wild - something any decent orchidologist would die to see. The question becomes, did someone kill to find it?

I know you're thinking orchids? C'mon. It's true, I love, love, love this series. First of all, it's cozy but not cute. In fact, the characters that pepper this series almost push the book beyond cozy - they're damn creepy some of them! Plus, you add in all the derelict buildings and secrets the townspeople don't want outsiders privy to and you've got an extremely atmospheric series about a very surprisingly heated topic - orchids, who would have thought that flowers could incite such a passionate and violent response?   

Anyway, I didn't get the store's ARC of Slipper, I did contact someone at RH and request it, though. Of course, after reading it, I had to have the second book, Orchid Shroud, as soon as it was released. Then I waited. Where was book 3? No release last year, but I finally found something this year. Strangely enough, it's a Canadian edition. The book was just released in Canada, has no US release date, and her original publisher is here in the US. It's a Canadian branch of the same publisher that's released A Twist of Orchids

I have no idea why it's happened this way. I have never seen this. I did, however, have Cynthia at High Crimes order my Canadian copy (at about a $5 higher price than a US editions would cost) and now I am itching until it comes in at the end of the month. Why oh why can't the publishing industry just cater to my every whim and need? Ha, ha, just kidding, but until it does, I'll continue to do what it takes (pay the price when I can afford it) to have my favorites shipped. 

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Another Recommendation From My Collection

Every book junkie loves finding a new author. About two years ago, while browsing our local mystery bookstore, I came across this enticing cover. Granted, all UK covers are creepy, and I always pick them up to see what they're about, but this is one that I bought - budgeting and all that! I buy with less inhibition these days.

Anyway, the store had all three of Rayne's current titles on the shelf - A Dark Dividing which probably had the creepiest cover of all - two little girls who bear a striking resemblance to the "Come play with us, Danny," girls from The Stand, and Tower of Silence which has a looming tower in a bruised purple and black background. I picked Roots. Upon finishing it, I gave my boyfriend explicit instructions to snatch up the other two as Christmas gifts! (He gave me a GC, just as good!)

In Roots of Evil, Lucy Trent and her family will never overcome the stain that her grandmother left on their name. Baroness Lucretia von Wolff was a silent film actress, later rumored to be a Nazi spy, who killed two men and then committed suicide at the famed Ashwood Film Studio in the early 1950s. Though the scandal has died down, it is all about to become fodder for a new thesis on the psychological aspects of the murders. The researcher has also uncovered a second mystery, that of the child Alraune. Then the researcher's body is found in the Ashwood Studio, the murder a chilling depiction of the final scene in Lucretia's most famous film, Alraune. 

The pseudonymous Rayne always tells her story in parts. Chapters cut from the current storyline to those of the past, weaving each part of the story together until the final revelation in the end. Family secrets and the urgent need to ensure that they remain unknown to others always play a huge role in her stories. There are other similarities in the books as well. Rayne uses a lot of the same sorts of settings - which is what drew me to the books in the first place - an abandoned asylum (Spider Light), a derelict prison (Death Chamber), an asylum still in working order (Tower of Silence) ... as I have said before, I am a sucker for certain atmospheric elements in books and Rayne plays on all of those for me. BTW, spreading out the reading will resolve any issues you have with these similarities. 

Probably the most shocking title I have read so far is last year's Spider Light, this is the first one I would put on par to my other favorite UK terror maven, Mo Hayder. Rayne is nowhere near as graphic as Hayder, so you have nothing to fear in that regard. I am currently reading her latest, The Death Chamber, and still have Tower of Silence, and Dark Dividing to hold me until next year's title. Have no fear when ordering these, Amazon has them all in stock for regular mass market and trade paperback prices. 

I have yet to uncover the true identity of this author - her bio says that she is a well-known horror author in the UK who created Rayne when she decided to break from the horror genre to write psychological suspense. I'm still working on unmasking the author's identity - so that I can read her other stuff!    

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

How do you like your stake? Vamps, slightly crispy or overdone?

I read a post today regarding trends in books, specifically the current vampire popularity. The person, an unpublished author I believe, said that agents had told her that vamps were kaput. She then asked if readers were done with vampires.

Personally, my answer would be no. Sure, sure, there's a ton of it out there. Fact of the matter is, as long as it is well written and has an original plot (there are plenty out there), I'm good. I mean, no one to my knowledge has asked if readers are tired of serial killer novels. Right?

It's all about trends. Publishers are desperate to catch the next big thing. What is the next big thing? No one has a clue. By the time publishers figure out what new trend readers have adopted and adapted and latched onto, it's already on its way out.

When Da Vinci Code hit, so many wannabes came out of the woodwork it wasn't even cute anymore. I fell for most of them and I can tell you some only got published because the industry peeps were desperate to get on the bandwagon and release at least one book in that same vein. It's kind of sad when that happens, really. It means that 1. a lot of crap is going to hit the shelves, 2. there will be good and even great stuff out, too, but you'll have to wade through the crap first to find it, and 3. lots of good even great stuff will get passed over because those same industry peeps are now trying to hit the NEXT next big thing and because they thing readers are tired of the last next big thing.

So, as the folks at LCC stated, don't write something because you think it will fit into what is hot now, write something that you believe in. By the time you find an agent and your title is shopped around, and an editor takes a look at it and decides to buy it, and you go through rest of the whole mess, the trend will have passed and your book will still be 6 mos from hitting the shelves!

Vamps will be around for a long time to come. Their popularity has waxed and waned since before even Dracula came along. You may see less of them next year than you did this year, but they'll be back!

Monday, April 14, 2008

I started reading

I started reading this book over the weekend. It's totally weird and wacky and, well, just weird.

The story begins with our erstwhile hero playing the part of tutor and morality coach to a teenage girl who lives on a private island off the Florida Keys. Turns out the girl is a clone of her "mother" who desperately wanted to experience motherhood. 

Part two begins with a nefarious plot on the part of a weird fundamental religious group to force their moral views on the rest of the world. The girl from part one has grown up and built a "city" in which she tries to do all sorts of good things - things the weird group believes are against the moral code in question.

Part three is the result of the end of part two. The girl has now taken drastic measures to address the moral ambiguity that so plagues much of the upper crust of their society. The tutor and she have a falling out when he disagrees with her methods. 

I have about 50 pages left of the book. At times it's gloriously verbose - like Morrow must have some sort of background in poetry. At other times, it's tedious in its weirdness. I've attempted to read Morrow before. The Last Witchfinder is all about a girl who attempts all sorts of learned measures to disprove witchcraft and the need for witch hunts (if I remember correctly). There is an event in her childhood that prompts this. She eventually meets Benjamin Franklin and they have a brief affair. It's a long and meandering story that I gave up on about three quarters of the way in.

Books like this make me feel dumb. Like there's something that I am just not getting. I am enjoying most of The Philosopher's Apprentice, but it's kind of Philosophy 101 meets a silly tale on morality. Some parts I get and others I don't. We'll see what lies ahead in the last 50 page chunk. 

Sunday, April 13, 2008

New Releases 4/15

Coming out this Tuesday:

Hold Tight by Harlen Coben - yet another fantastic keep-you-up-all-night thriller by the man who does it best!
River of Heaven by Lee Martin - a great book about secrets, loneliness, and the things you don't know about the people closest to you.
The House at Riverton by Kate Morton - officially not out until April 22, but Amazon is showing it in stock. It's been getting quite a bit of buzz and is on my TBR list. 
Easy Innocence by Libby Fischer Hellman - this one has been available for a few weeks, but this is the official release date on Amazon (hmmm). Anyway, it's a great and gritty new mystery from Hellman (author of the Ellie Forman series). PI Georgia Davis is hired to help prove the innocence of a man accused of murder after he is found standing over a bludgeoned body, covered in blood and holding a baseball bat. Loved it!

AVP: Requiem (on my To Buy list!)

Reviews at www.bookbitch.com:
Hold Tight by Harlen Coben
Easy Innocence by Libby Fischer Hellman
Ravenous by Ray Garton
Succubus in the City by Nina Harper

Friday, April 11, 2008


I hit up the bookstore today. Among today's purchases are:

Jack O'Connell's The Resurrectionist. It's a booksense pick this month and sounds really great. The book is being called part noir thriller and part fantasy. It's about a man whose son is in a coma. He's taken him to an asylum where doctors claim to have "resurrected" other patients in similar circumstances. The website is what really caught my initial attention. You can check it out for yourself here.

I also bought Susan Hubbard's Society of S. This is a sort of coming of age vampire tale. It's supposed to be quite different from the other vampire books that are out, though. Course my sister is totally enamored with anything having to do with the fanged wonders so I bought two copies of this one. The sequel, The Year of Disappearances, is due out in May.

Finally, the book that kept me up all night. A few days ago, I received a copy of Lee Martin's River of Heaven. I expected a very heavy sort-of literary piece, given the fact that Martin was a Pulitzer finalist. Instead, River is haunting tale of loneliness and secrets. Sam is an aging bachelor who has spent his life hiding his homosexuality. He has also been keeping an even bigger secret all these years, one concerning the death of a childhood friend. The uneasiness Sam and his brother Cal so plainly feel whenever anyone mentions the event suggests that something pretty awful must have occurred. Cal himself has been less than truthful with Sam, but it's been years since they last spoke and Sam fears upsetting the delicate balance of their current situation.

I am loving this book! I am completely exhausted today thanks to it, but I am trucking along! I'll finish it up today and hopefully get started on some of these others, too.

Happy reading!

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Posing an Interesting Question

I had an e-mail from Don Bruns yesterday and he brought up an interesting question - just what is the equivalent of chick-lit in men's fiction?

You know what I mean. Every once in a while you come across a humorous novel about men, written by men. Some authors (aside from Bruns, obviously) that come to mind (and their books) would be Harlan Coben's Myron Bolitar series (not his stand-alones). They may be a bit more gritty, but they are freaking hilarious. All you have to do is imagine yuppyfied Winn beating the crap out of someone! In a strange and twisted way, I would also put Christopher Moore in this category. Sure, he has more of a paranormal twist to his stuff, but they're still sick and twisted funny - they also fall firmly in the satire category in some cases. If these books were about women they would definitely be chick-lit (chick-lit mystery in Bruns and Coben's case - Janet E style), so what do you call it when it's for men?

Obviously the first thing that comes to mind is not something booksellers are going to start spouting on the sales floor! So in all seriousness, what would this sub-genre be called? Can you think of something?

The cover shot here, btw, is Don's new book due out this September in his new series. I really recommend that you check his stuff out. He's also got the Mick Sever Caribbean Mystery series out (I've not read these yet). It starts with Jamaica Blue, then comes Barbados Heat, South Beach Shakedown, and St. Bart's Breakdown.

Check out Coben's Bolitar series as well, if you haven't yet. Myron is an ex-pro-basketball player who blew out his knee and had to find something else to do. He has some sort-of shady past with an FBI gig, and now works as a sports agent. His clients are always in some sort of trouble, though, and it's usually up to Myron and Winn to fix it. Winn is Myron's Lula - if she were a yuppy ninja master!

As for Christopher Moore - the man has a totally twisted sense of humor - maybe it's from all the SPAM he ate in Hawaii! His stuff always has a paranormal twist to it, and I've only read a handful so far. Everyone's favorite seems to be Lamb, The Gospel According to Biff, Christ's Childhood Pal. Sad to say, I have to admit to not having read this one just yet. I have read Dirty Job in which an unsuspecting average, everyday guy becomes a grim reaper. I have also read Lust Lizards of Melancholy Cove where a doc switches everyone's meds with placebo and a prehistoric lizard catapults the island into a bout of horniness! See what I mean... there's also the turkey bowling goodness that can be found in Bloodsucking Fiends and it's follow-up You Suck where another unsuspecting average guy is turned into a vamp just before he meets his dream girl.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Feeding the Habit

Yep, still can't figure out how to control the graphics on this thing!

Anyway, I am a book junkie. It's true. I am also a huge movie buff, and when these worlds collide I am usually a pretty happy camper. Coming to theaters this summer is the movie Blindness. It stars Julianne Moore, Sandra Oh, Gael Garcia Bernal, and the amazing Mark Ruffalo. It's also based on a book by Nobel Prize winning Portuguese author Jose Saramago. The adaptation is directed by Fernando Meirelles, the Brazilian director responsible for the film adaptation of The Constant Gardener. 

The story is this: everyone in a nameless town has been struck by sudden blindness. Everyone except the wife of an eye doctor. And that is all I know for now. You can check out the movie trailer here. Tell me this doesn't sound totally cool, though!

I have yet to read the book, obviously. But I have just been notified that my package with Blindness, and its sequel Seeing, has just been shipped and should arrive any day now - this is why this post is on feeding the habit. 

Yep, I knew that the movie was coming, and I had looked at the book quite a few times - it was actually The Double that first caught my attention. I usually buy without any consideration other than the fact that a book sounds interesting, so I have no explanation for the odd frugal choices that I make. Nope, none. Anyway, the situation has been rectified and I will be reading Blindness and probably Seeing before the movie is released in August. BTW, Seeing is linked 'cause Amazon has it bargain priced in hardcover right now. I figured my fellow addicts might be interested. 

Stay tuned for my thoughts on Blindness. I do some lit-fic occasionally, but usually opt for lighter fare (as you've seen) so I hope Saramago does not overwhelm me. But hey, I could handle Murakami! 

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

A Small Press You Should Get to Know

In an earlier post, I talked about how specific imprints publish certain types of books and how this could be helpful to readers looking for new authors. Another aspect of this is the small press. There are a ton of great small presses out there, some of them specialize in specific genres, some do a wide variety of things. Oceanview is just one of them, but it's the one I want to talk about today. Hit the link and you'll see that Oceanview does mostly mysteries and thrillers.  

When I was at LCC last month, I had the pleasure of meeting author Don Bruns. Don's title, Stuff To Die For, was nominated for a lefty and he and his buddy were campaigning pretty hard to get votes. It's a good thing, too, because this was the first time I noticed that I had not received a ballot! Anyway, I picked up a copy of Stuff out of curiosity and read it in one night. It was really that good!

Stuff is about two twenty-something, longtime buddies who are doing their best to make it big. They get the grand idea to start a hauling/moving company, but things turn south when they discover a severed finger in their first load. It's a  hilarious mystery set in Florida (a state that seems to inspire humorous mysteries), and filled with a great cast of characters. It's also the first in a new series and will be followed this fall by Stuff Dreams are Made of.

Don, by the way, is a great guy and he headed up the panel on character development. You can check out his site and his other titles (and a great short preview of Stuff) here.  

Oceanview releases about one new hardcover a month. I have four more of their titles in my TBR pile - Twisted Justice by Patricia Gussin, a mystery about a woman accused of murdering her husband's mistress (on shelves now), The Deal by Adam Gittlin a thriller concerning an investment scandal gone wrong (May 1), Rabbit in the Moon by husband and wife team Deborah and Joel Schlian which is an international thriller that takes place in China in 1989 (June 1), and finally the much awaited second installment to Don Bruns new series which is due out in September. 

With no less than 8 award winning titles under their belt, I'd be willing to bet that all of Oceanview's upcoming titles are nothing short of fantastic, and I urge readers to check them out. 

Monday, April 7, 2008

Alright Romance Fans

Dorchester is letting you, the fans, vote for Mr. Romance 2008. Visit Dorchester starting today to see the nominees. 8 guys will be nominated (2 each day) and after the last are listed you can vote.

The winner will be announced at this year's Romantic Times Book Lovers Convention, which I recommend you attend if you are in the Pittsburgh area - hey, it's not JUST for romance titles. In fact, if you've ever picked up a RTW magazine, you'll see that they review just about everything you can imagine. Check out the authors attending this year.

In addition to Mr. Romance, you can also check out Dorchester's upcoming, most recent, and backlist thrillers, horror, romance, and westerns, and read some sample chapters, too.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Coming 4/8

Titles hitting shelves this Tuesday:

Blood Ties by Pamela Freeman - first in a new fantasy trilogy and debut adult release by Freeman. Story is interesting and moves quickly!
Certain Girls by Jennifer Weiner
Bulls Island by Dorthea Benton Frank - in my TBR pile
Once Upon a Time in the North by Philip Pullman - new release that takes place in the world of His Dark Materials
Where Are You Now by Mary Higgins Clark 
Zapped by Carol Higgins Clark - latest in her Regan Reilly mystery series. 

There Will Be Blood
Resurrecting the Champ
Walk Hard
Lions for Lambs
Reservation Road
Hell's Kitchen: The Complete First Season

New reviews at www.bookbitch.com:
Ritual by Mo Hayder - yet another fantastic and gruesome thriller by one of the best!
Blood Ties by Pamela Freeman
Codex 632 by Jose Rodrigues dos Santos

Saturday, April 5, 2008

If you're not reading Harlan Coben yet, what's wrong with you?

In 2001, I was a junior in college working at Waldenbooks. I'd gotten the job just one year before, at the ripe old age of 19, and was making a pest of myself requesting ARCs for our store. One day, a yellow mailer arrived bearing a neon orange gift that I will never forget - a finished copy of Harlan Coben's first stand-alone title, Tell No One.

Tell No One is about a man who receives a strange e-mail on his anniversary. The message is something that only his wife would know, but she's been dead for eight years. From that moment on, this book takes off at warp speed and never lets up. It's impossible to put down! To tell anymore would be to give too much away, but it is one of the best thrillers ever. It's also the book that cemented Coben's steady position on the bestseller lists from that time forward. 

Coben made his debut years before the release of Tell No One and already had a strong fan base thanks to his Myron Bolitar series. Deal Breaker, book one, was released in 1995 and was followed by Drop Shot, Fade Away, Back Spin, One False Move, Final Detail, and Darkest Fear. Bolitar is a sports agent turned sleuth with a taste for yoo-hoo and a crazy yuppy ninja master sidekick. They're great! With Tell No One Coben wanted to do something a little different, something more serious and gritty than the Bolitar books. Tell No One catapulted Coben's career, and deservedly so. Since then, Coben has released seven more stand-alones, including Promise Me, which marked the long-awaited return of Bolitar himself. 

Hold Tight, the latest release, is due out April 15 and I'm reading mine now. I gotta tell you, it's guaranteed to make the NYT top 10! Coben is a master at keeping readers in suspense and if you haven't read one yet, you need to run out and buy one tonight. Just make sure you give yourself plenty of time to read 'cause you'll definitely want to finish it in one sitting!

Friday, April 4, 2008

The Ruins: Page to Screen and No Spoilers

Yep, I had to see it asap and I did. The Ruins started today and you should definitely check it out.

Released in July of '06, Scott Smith's The Ruins had a certain buzz about it that made it hard to ignore. A few months before the release, a friend of mine tells me she has this ARC I might want to read, it's about these kids and these ruins or something, it looked interesting...Ruins, I'm there. I am a sucker for certain plot elements (you'll learn that about me).

She brings it in and the first thing I notice is the huge blurb by Stephen King. Now, how am I going to resist a temptation like that? So, I went in thinking, horror story about college kids vacationing in Mexico and strange Mayan ruins, cool! 

Oh had I known then what I know now. You see, this is a case where you can't really talk too much about the story or you'll ruin the surprise. Unfortunately, the cryptic description that I did have, led me to expect something totally different than what the book actually is. I don't want that to happen to anyone reading this. I don't want to give people the impression that this book is anything other than what it is. I want people to go in knowing that they are going to read a great, harrowing, and gruesome psychological suspense novel. Sure there are horror elements to the story, sure there are some ruins, tiny though they may be, but this is by no means an archaeological horror story (what I was expecting). So, this is my attempt to enlighten because The Ruins is a fantastic book and I want everyone to like it!

The Ruins is about a group of kids vacationing in Mexico. They meet up with some other kids - 3 Greeks and 1 German - and they hang out on the beach having a good time, until the German says, "Gee guys, my brother took off to follow this archaeologist we met and he's not back yet, wanna come with while I look for him?" So they all say "Cool!" 

The group sets off, minus 2 drunken Greeks who have been left with a map so they can join up later. They find the dig site, and discover that the locals are a little uptight about their being there. Then, the locals surround them and threaten them with guns and bows and arrows so they can't leave the site. 

On to the movie! It was a good adaptation - on it's own, it's a great movie - as an adaptation, it's fairly true to the story, though not completely. They do change a few things - a couple of which I just plain don't agree with, but hey, they were changes made for movie audiences, not hard-core fans of the book. Jonathan Tucker - who I absolutely adore - stars with Jenna Malone. Ze German is a hottie who I have never heard of (UK born Joe Anderson) but has some interesting projects on his plate. I have to say that this character is the one who suffered some of the biggest changes and I wish they had left him alone. They kept in some of the elements that he brings to the story, but it comes out a bit forced since they had to lay it on another character. Shawn Ashmore (holy crap Iceman buffed up!) and Laura Ramsay round out the doomed vacationers.  

My suggestion, read the book and then see the movie and appreciate both of them for what they are. If you too are fond of Mr. Germany, let it go! And as for the other change, well, I think you'll agree that it was done for the typical Hollywood reason, but I don't want to spoil it so I won't go into anymore details! 

Thursday, April 3, 2008

One of my favorites

I'm a huge fan of foreign titles (the good ones anyway) and this is one of my favorites. Not many people in the states know who Jean-Christophe Grange is. You'd really have no reason to. I watch a lot of movies and am a big fan of Jean Reno. In searching through some of the movies he's starred in in past years, I came across a movie called The Crimson Rivers. It's just a great movie and I suggest you check it out.

Anyway, as of a little while back, the English translation of Grange's book Blood Red Rivers, the title Crimson Rivers is based on, was still available to order through Amazon and even Barnes and Noble. I snatched it up, along with all of the other Grange titles I could find. Most of his books still seem to be fairly easy for American audiences to come by - Amazon has both new and used copies of most of them available.

You'll have to forgive me as it's been a while since I read this one, but here is a brief synopsis of Flight of Storks

Louis Antioch is hired to help track a group of storks and their flight migration into Africa. The stork population has been decreasing incrementally each year and the scientist who hires him wants to know why. Then, the scientist is brutally murdered just before the job is to begin. Antioch continues his task, even though his employer is dead, and follows the birds through a variety of foreign locales. What he discovers about the birds, and subsequently his employer's death, makes this an extremely exciting read. 

Grange's style is unforgivable and violent, though it is by no means the most graphic that I have come across. The translation is great. There's a sense that you are reading Grange's work rather than Grange's French work translated by a third party into English. It loses none of its effectiveness. 

I am such a huge fan of this man's work that I am sorely tempted to get copies of his latest two titles and read them in French. If any of you read Shelf Awareness, the Friday questions ask the interviewee what book they are an advocate for ... well, Grange and, by turn, translated works are the author and cause I am a total advocate for, so this is not the last you'll see on either in this blog. For now, though, I recommend you try and find a copy of Flight and if you are lucky enough to come across it, you'll see what I mean about this amazing author. (there are a ton of used copies available through Amazon). 

Wednesday, April 2, 2008


Just how many of you actually pay attention to what is on the spine of your books? Probably not many. It can sometimes tell you a lot about the book you are holding. Sure most people look at the genre label across the top, and we know that's not all that helpful these days, but I am talking about the actual publishing house imprint.

Working for the Devil is a great example. Why? Because it was one of the first releases under Hachette company's new sci-fi/fantasy imprint Orbit. Eos, publisher of Kim Harrison's series, is Harpercollins's equivalent and Del Rey belongs to Random House. So you know that if you pick up a book bearing one of these imprint logos, you've got a sci-fi/fantasy title in your hand.

Of course, not all imprints are this simple. William Morrow, for example, is an imprint of Harpercollins that publishes every genre imaginable. Random House's Doubleday and Ballantine imprints are much the same, as is Penguin's Dutton. The only thing you can be fairly sure of when looking at these is that they are adult titles (they have separate imprints for YA and kids books). So, how does this help, you might be asking? Take a look at your bookshelves. What imprint do you see that's most prevalent there? For me it may just be William Morrow because I do read quite a few of their titles. This means that whoever is on staff, acquiring titles for the imprint, has a knack for picking books that you like.

Another one that's helpful is the publisher itself. I'll post another blog on small presses, but I can't leave out a mention of them here. A lot of small presses publish for specific markets. Bleak House is a great example of this - typically with small publishers (even more so than imprints who do many genres), if you like one of their authors, you will more than likely enjoy other titles from the same press. If you are curious, Bleak House publishes dark and gritty mysteries and had three Edgar nominations this year. (Bleak House is technically now an imprint of another small press.)

Try it next time you're browsing the bookstore. Look at the imprints and pick up a few random titles based on this alone (reading the flap copy or back cover), you might find something you like that's completely new to you.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008


Sorry no post today, computer is acting up. Will have something new for your tomorrow.