Monday, May 31, 2010

A Passage Update

So my extended holiday weekend is almost over and of course I set my sights too high for reading goals. That was to be expected, though.

I'm about halfway through Justin Cronin's The Passage as we speak and I'm totally loving it. In truth, I didn't devote my whole weekend to it as planned. We bought a grill Friday night -- I say bought, but in reality we'd saved some reward points and coupons so that even in our budget crunched state we could buy the thing. Now it'll be another three years before a splurge buy!

So we grilled steaks on Friday and I rounded out the evening with an IFC movie called The Disappeared, which actually turned out to be pretty good. Then we spent Saturday at the Boulder Creek Festival and grilled for dinner again, this time hamburger patties that we served up with mac and cheese, broccoli, and grilled bananas ('cause Mike's going grill crazy). We watched a crazy hail storm that evening and then It's Complicated.

Yesterday I did spend most of the afternoon reading, but then took a break to fix chicken tacos for supper and watch the first episode of the Syfy movie Tin Man. Mike thought it was a little cheesy but I really enjoyed it. Two more eps to go.

And here we are on Memorial Day. I made us breakfast and checked out the launch of Cooking Channel and am back to The Passage. It's completely amazing. I mean completely amazing. Whatever you think you know about this book, whatever you think you expect, well... all I can say is that you should prepare to be blown away.

It's post-apocalyptic. It's vampires. It's crazy intricate world building. It's quite a read!

I've got onions pickling for potato salad (just one version I make, inspired by the potato salad we had at The Salt Lick in Austin last summer -- you pickle the onions and then you mix BBQ sauce, mayo, mustard, and vinegar into the potatoes. Yum!) and hot dogs planned for the grill this evening. Possibly grilling up some romaine lettuce for salad, too. (Try it, pop the whole romaine heart or the individual leaves on the grill with a little olive oil, salt, and pepper and it's wonderful!)

Hope you guys are enjoying your day off, if you have a day off. And if you're working today, I hope you at least get some down time this evening to kick back and relax.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

New Releases 6/1/10

Some of the new titles hitting shelves this week include:

Vows, Vendettas and a Little Black Dress by Kyra Davis -- fifth in the Sophie Katz series

Justice in June by Barbara Levenson

Captivity by Deborah Noyes

Little Town, Great Big Life by Curtiss Ann Matlock

Damaged by Pamela Callow

Procession of the Dead by Darren Shan

The Dead Lie Down by Sophie Hannah

Lightborn by Alison Sinclair

The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner by Stefanie Meyer (June 5)

Bullet by Laurell K. Hamilton

The Burning Wire by Jeffery Deaver -- Lincoln Rhyme #9

The Rule of Nine by Steve Martini

My Soul to Keep by Rachel Vincent

Never Wave Goodbye by Doug Magee

New on DVD:
Alice in Wonderland

New reviews at Bookbitch.com:
Vows, Vendettas and a Little Black Dress
Husband and Wife by Leah Stewart

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Pre Pub Book Buzz -- So Cold the River by Michael Koryta

Morning, everyone! How's the weekend treating you so far? I promised you a super cool pre-pub post this morning and here it is. Whenever I see a lot of really great hype around a book, especially from authors I love and respect, it always worries me just a little bit. I've been on the side that hears all the hype and then is disappointed by the book. I've also been on the side doing the hype and then hearing disappointment from others. It's a really fine balance for some books. I don't think this is one of them.

Michael Koryta seems to be establishing himself as a jack of all trades in the fiction genre. Kind of like Dan Simmons, who is one of the authors praising Koryta's latest, So Cold the River (note: Koryta has yet to tackle sci-fi, so we'll see). Koryta is the author of four Lincoln Perry mysteries and the standalone thriller Envy the Night. He has won the St. Martins Press/PWA Best First Novel, been nominated for and Edgar, and a Los Angeles Times Book Prize for best Mystery/Thriller. Now he's trying his hand, very successfully I might add, at a gothic ghost tale set in Indiana. Simmons compares the book to King's The Shining. Michael Connelly says, "Guaranteed to put the cold finger down your spine." And Dennis Lehane called So Cold the River, "An icy, terrifying winner...."

This creepy read begins with filmmaker Eric Shaw, a man who's pretty much ruined his career in Hollywood before it even began. Now he's making a living doing wedding videos and photo montages for funerals. When he's approached by Alyssa Bradford to make a video about her father-in-law and his childhood in West Baden Springs, Eric thinks this is finally his chance. No one in the Bradford family knows much about patriarch Campbell Bradford, but they do know that he grew up in West Baden Springs. They also have a strange bottle of Pluto Water that the man's been carrying around all these years. With the bottle as a lead, Eric is sent to West Baden where he's put up in the opulent West Baden Springs Hotel. The bottle of water, always cold, becomes frosty and sparks Eric's curiosity. But when Eric decides to take a small sip of the mineral water, everything changes. That one action creates a connection between Eric and events that have long since been buried. Now Eric must uncover the secrets that surround him, or possibly die trying.

I ate up this book! I devoured it last week and loved every single second of the experience. The way the tale unfolds is completely captivating. And many aspects of this book are grounded by a real setting. West Baden Springs Hotel exists and looks to be every bit as magical as Koryta's version in the book. The Lost River is real. Even Pluto Water is real, though I doubt Eric's experience has ever been documented. Just a completely amazing read and definitely one of the best I've had the pleasure of reading so far this year.

So Cold the River hits shelves on June 9, so be on the lookout! This is one summer thriller that will give you chills even on the hottest days!

Mr. Shivers Winner!

Alright readers. It's time to announce the winner of Robert Jackson Bennett's Mr. Shivers! By random number generator, the winner is:


Congrats, Jen! And thanks to everyone who participated. I have some more giveaways coming soon. Just keep an eye out here for them!

Thanks for reading!

Friday, May 28, 2010

It's a Holiday Weekend!!!

Yay! Long weekend means no Monday! I hate Mondays. They're the worst day of the week. The only day that comes even close is Sunday. Why? I mean, Sunday is the weekend, right? But I usually spend Sundays with the knowledge that yet another weekend is coming to an end and another Monday is on its way soon. Once you get past Monday everything gets better, but ugh. So a long weekend with a Monday off is always the best!

And how will I be spending my weekend? Tackling the TBR of course! In the stack for this week is the highly anticipated The Passage by Justin Cronin -- I've been waiting for this book to come out for two years and I swear I did a dance when the review copy arrived. SWEETNESS!!!

Another one in the stack for this weekend is Sarah Pinborough's latest A Matter of Blood, book one in the Dog-Faced Gods series. This is a UK release that Cynthia over at High Crimes ordered in for me. I haven't seen a US release date on it yet and I love Pinborough, so I splurged.

I also have a stack of review stuff for this week including the latest R.J. Ellory release, The Anniversary Man, and S.J. Bolton's Blood Harvest. We'll see what I can accomplish in three days, though. The Passage is a hefty one, but if I can, I plan on tackling Jennifer McMahon's Dismantled this weekend as well. I know, I know! I always try to squeeze in too much! What can I say. I have high expectations of myself.

Hope you all have a great weekend! I've got an awesome pre-pub post tomorrow and I'll be announcing the winner of Mr. Shivers, too.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

An Abundance of Distractions

Wow. I'm really slacking. I've been slammed busy with work, which is definitely a good thing although I'm still, on a weekly basis, fighting the concern that there will be no new pitches. Frustrating to say the least, but extremely rewarding to have pitches that go through. My first two books are coming out in June -- my first two pitches and contracted authors. I'm really excited for them and for myself.

Memorial Day weekend is coming up. We're finally going to spring for a grill, sort of. Not sure if we'll have it for the big grilling weekend, but we'll see. I do, however, have a fantastic read set aside to spend my weekend immersed in and I can't wait to dive in. It's delayed gratification! I'm also starting to look at my TBR and debate vacation reads for next month as well. I've told you before that it's a double edged sword: I can never make up my mind and end up bringing too many and then get nothing read anyway.

Anyway, more reviews to come, but I thought I'd give you my semi-regular life update and tell you what's going on. Remember you have until midnight Friday to enter to win a copy of Mr. Shivers, details here.

Also, June is fast approaching and I wanted to let you in on the newest mini-challenge being hosted over at Literary Escapism. As you know I've participated in both her League Challenge and her Battle Royale Challenge (both minis as part of her year long annual New Authors Challenge -- my goal was 15 and I've already surpassed it) and actually won prizes in each one. Super cool! They're super fun. First you get to see what everyone else chooses then you get to see the fruits of your labor, so to speak: Jackie posts stats at the end of each challenge so you can see just how many new reviews are generated as a result of the challenge. Being a big book nerd, I find this really cool because it shows just how much effort we readers are making to get the word out about the books we love.

Anywho, the challenge this go around is firsts - debut books, firsts in series, or first in a new genre for the author. All of the dets are here. Sign up and have fun! The contest starts June 1 and I'll let you guys know then which books I've chosen for the month.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Sherrilyn Kenyon's New Teen Release

Hello, all! Bestselling paranormal romance author Sherrilyn Kenyon's debut teen book hits shelves tomorrow and there's lots of extras for you to check out.

Here's some info on Infinity, the first book in the new Chronicles of Nick series:

At fourteen, Nick Gautier thinks he knows everything about the world around him. Streetwise, tough and savvy, his quick sarcasm is the stuff of legends. . .until the night when his best friends try to kill him. Saved by a mysterious warrior who has more fighting skills than Chuck Norris, Nick is sucked into the realm of the Dark-Hunters: immortal vampire slayers who risk everything to save humanity.

Nick quickly learns that the human world is only a veil for a much larger and more dangerous one: a world where the captain of the football team is a werewolf and the girl he has a crush on goes out at night to stake the undead.

But before he can even learn the rules of this new world, his fellow students are turning into flesh eating zombies. And he’s next on the menu.

As if starting high school isn't hard enough. . .now Nick has to hide his new friends from his mom, his chainsaw from the principal, and keep the zombies and the demon Simi from eating his brains, all without getting grounded or suspended. How in the world is he supposed to do that?

Sounds awesome, right? You can read more on Sherrilyn Kenyon's official page for the series, here.

And, for a sneak peak at the book and more on Infinity visit the official sanctuary here.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

New Releases 5/25/10

Some of the new releases hitting shelves this week are:

Blockade Billy by Stephen King - a novella

Ten Things I Love About You by Julia Quinn

Cheat the Grave by Vicki Pettersson

Blown Away by Sharon Sala

The Lies We Told by Diane Chamberlaine

Death Watch by Jim Kelly

Shut Up and Kiss Me by Christie Craig

Fade to Midnight by Shannon McKenna

My Sister's Voice by Mary Carter

She's So Dead to Us by Kieran Scott

The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest by Stieg Larsson

Point Dume by Katie Arnoldi

Sidney Sheldon's After the Darkness by Tilly Bagshawe

Life Without Summer by Lynne Griffin

The Blue Bistro by Elin Hilderbrand (trade paperback)

The Devil's Queen by Jeanne Kalogridis (trade paperback)

Brains: A Zombie Memoir by Robin Becker

New on DVD:
Dear John
The Road

New reviews at Bookbitch.com:
Shut Up and Kiss Me
She's So Dead to Us
Cheat the Grave
Blood Oath by Christopher Farnsworth

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Pre Pub Book Buzz -- Vows, Vendettas and A Little Black Dress by Kyra Davis

It's time for Sophie Katz to make another appearance in the book world. Yay! Last year, I was introduced to Sophie and her author, Kyra Davis, when the fourth book in the series, Lust, Loathing and a Little Lip Gloss, was due out. I took her to the gym with me and dragged the book around until I was finished. And then wanted more!

Vows, Vendettas and a Little Black Dress is due out on June 1, but I snagged a review copy and am reading it as we speak. Here's the description from the back cover for you:

The peach taffeta bridesmaid dress -- THAT should be Sophie's problem. Not attempted murder.

Overjoyed at Maryanne's engagement, amateur sleuth Sophie Katz can't wait for the wedding vows and party toasts to begin. But then Dena - best friend, bridesmaid and all-around vixen - is mysteriously shot just after the announcemend. Lave this to the authorities? No way. Dena may never walk again, and Sophie vows to marry her fists with the shooter's face.

Problem is, the number of suspects is off the charts - from jaded lovers to anti-free lovers to just plain old haters. Dena's made plenty of enemies, thanks to her popular sex shop - and yes, she's no saint - but really, who deserves to be shot?

With an uberlogical almost boyfriend condemning her vigilante quest, and a wedding planner going vicariously bridezilla over the dream princess wedding, Sophie's barely thinking straight. But if she can keep her cool (and avoid all errant taffeta), she just might nab her man and save the (wedding) day. Big if.

If you haven't read a Sophie Katz mystery yet, treat yourself to them this summer. They're the perfect all around read: funny, suspenseful, romantic, and did I mention FUNNY? Perfect beach reads for the upcoming beach read season. Perfect lay in the hammock all afternoon read. Perfect for stowing away in your room and reading, while your significant other scratches their head wondering why you're laughing so much.

The series, in order, is:
Sex, Murder and a Double Latte (Blogged about here and here)
Passion, Betrayal and Killer Highlights
Obsession, Deceit and Really Dark Chocolate
Lust, Loathing and a Little Lip Gloss (Blogged about here)
Vows, Vendettas and a Little Black Dress (June 1)

Now, I've just heard that Harlequin, Kyra's publisher, is of the belief that chick-lit is dead. Dead?! How can it be dead? At it's heart, Janet E writes mystery chick-lit (Kyra writes mystery chick-lit so if you're a Janet E fan, I just found you a new author to add to your shelves).

If you pick up a Sophie Katz mystery, post about it somewhere. Review it on Amazon and BN.com. Blog about it. Put it on your Shelfari or your GoodReads pages. Spread the word, because that's what really matters in the reading community! Show 'em all that chick-lit is not dead, and more than that, show your support for a fantastic author who has plenty more Sophie Katz books under her belt if we want 'em (and I certainly do)!

Friday, May 21, 2010

New Giveaways

Just discovered Tiffany's Bookshelf through the Book Blogger Hop and she has a fantastic contest going over there. It's her For the Love of All Things Vampire contest and the prize pack is super cool. Check it out.

Also, the fabulous Jenn over at Jenn's Bookshelf is giving away copies of Karen White's latest, On Folly Beach. You can check that out here.

And Jackie at Literary Escapism is giving away a copy of Sara Creasey's sci-fi debut, The Song of Scarabaeus, here.

Also, I promised to start another giveaway this week so here it is. Randomly selected from the stack of giveaway books is Robert Jackson Bennett's debut title from Orbit, Mr. Shivers.

The book was released in January and I spent a few maddening days in Bennett's world tracking down Mr. Shivers with Marcus Connelly (maddening is the tone of the book -- crazy, dark, and at times terrifyingly real). Connelly is obsessed with tracking down the man responsible for killing his daughter. You can read more here. I think you're really going to like it, so if you're in the mood for a dark atmospheric and creepy read, leave me a comment here before midnight next Friday, May 28.

Book Blogger Hop May 21-24, 2010

It's Book Blogger Hop Day over at Crazy for Books.

In the spirit of the Friday Follow, the Book Blogger Hop is a place just for book bloggers and readers to connect and find new blogs that we may be missing out on! This weekly BOOK PARTY is an awesome opportunity for book bloggers to connect with other book lovers, make new friends, support each other, and generally just share our love of books! It will also give blog readers a chance to find other book blogs that they may not know existed! So, grab the logo, post about the Hop on your blog, and start HOPPING through the list of blogs that are posted in the Linky list below!!

The Hop lasts Friday-Monday every week, so if you don't have time to Hop today, come back later and join the fun! This is a weekly event!

Your blog should have content related to books, including, but not limited to book reviews.

If you start following someone through the Hop, leave a comment on their blog to let them know! Stop back during the week to see other blogs that are added! And, most importantly, the idea is to HAVE FUN!!

The Hop isn't just for you to throw your link in there and not visit any other blogs. It's all about networking and finding new blogs that are of interest. So, in the spirit of the Hop, try to make some time to visit other blogs and don't post your link if you are not planning on visiting other blogs in the Hop that week. This is a weekly event, so if you don't have time this week, that's fine! We'll see you next week!

If you sign MckLinky, please share the love and POST ABOUT THE HOP ON YOUR BLOG! How else will anyone else find out about it and come join the party?

Thursday, May 20, 2010

The President's Vampire

I've been trying to get my brain organized all week and it's not working out for me. I just walked into the kitchen for some reason and completely forgot why. So I'm back in my office. Still no clue what prompted the trip to the kitchen.

Anywho, while I try to figure that out, I figured I'd do a review for you guys. And it's a heads-up review because if you're in the Denver area, this author will be signing at the Tattered Cover Monday, May 24. I'll be there!

It was a little known entry in out history that prompted Christopher Farnsworth to write his debut, Blood Oath. A sailor accused of killing his fellow shipmates and drinking their blood was pardoned by Andrew Johnson in the 1800s and lived out the rest of his life in a mental institution. Farnsworth says history is filled with what he calls "Deep Weirdness" and as a history major in college, teasing out these stories is fun for him (and fun for us all to read!).

So the idea for Blood Oath was born and Nathaniel Cade came to be. Cade, a vampire from the 1800s who not only is pardoned by Johnson but is sworn to follow orders from and protect subsequent presidents has been working behind the scenes all this time. His partner of many years is dying and a new one, Zach Barrows, has been assigned. Now Zach has to quickly learn the ropes, learn Cade, and learn that all the creepy crawlies he thought were fiction are true. And he must learn it fast, because a terrorist plot is about to explode and Zach and Cade are on the case. Someone has been shipping body parts back from the Middle East and Cade has an idea why.

This book is cool. I mean uber cool. It reminds me of Hellboy in a lot of ways - secret government agents who investigate the paranormal. Thankfully, Farnsworth is reported to be working on a second title in the series as we speak. The flashbacks and the "factiods" that begin many of the chapters leave me definitely wanting more of this pair and more of Farnsworth's "Deep Weirdness."

As I said, Farnsworth will be signing at the Colfax Tattered Cover on Monday, May 24 at 7:30.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

We Went to a Show!

I'm kind of lame. I'm a homebody in the worst way. It doesn't help when you're trying to budget. My splurges are usually dinners out on nights when I don't feel like doing dishes.

Last night was different, though. And it actually didn't begin with last night. See I'd bought tickets to Muse last fall and waited and waited and waited until April when the concert was scheduled. I'm sure you read about that disappointment here. The tour buses were held up in the snow and the show was cancelled (did I mention I bought tickets for Muse and Silversun Pickups? We'll get to that.).

This was to be my first concert, my first show, since we moved here in 2005 when I sprang for Jason Mraz tickets (yes, my music taste is very eclectic and widespread). And the fact that it was two bands that I really wanted to see (I really want to see Muse and would have bought tickets for them either way, but SSPU was a great bonus).

I have my replacement tickets now. Different venue, different opening band, and the show's not until October. Given our last snow season (GOD I hope it's over) it's just as likely the October show will get snowed out as well. I guess I'll wait until I'm in the seats watching the show to get excited this time. SSPU are due back as well in a separate show, but unfortunately I'm too broke to buy those as well.

Anyway. I love music but haven't made many additions to my own collection of late. It's been a rough time finding new stuff I actually like. Last July, I bought Nico Vega's self-titled album after hearing the song "Beast" on a movie trailer. And the cd is fantastic. They actually came to town a few months later, but I didn't go.

Still a little upset over not seeing Muse, I started looking for shows. I missed Vampire Weekend (found out about it a day before so of course it was sold out), and I missed Punch Brothers. When I saw Nico Vega listed for a new show in Denver, I bought tickets that night. No way was I missing out on yet another band that I actually wanted to see. And they were cheap so they didn't hurt so bad.

The show was last night at The Walnut Room in Denver, a pretty cool place that's got a bar and some fantastic pizza in addition to the live music venue. And I have to say the prices are extremely reasonable on food, drinks, and tickets.

Frentik, Sara Slaton, and Sara Haze each played first- I bought Frentik's ep for my little sister - I have to say the first three acts were all pretty good, just completely different from Nico Vega. I mean the only thing they really have in common are the female frontmen. It was a bit of a surprise. The Frentik lead singer and Sara Slaton are both Denver locals and Haze is touring to promote her first cd (her song "My Own Hands to Hold" was featured on an episode of The Hills). This was actually the final show in Nico Vega's current tour.

The doors opened at 7:30 and the show started at 8. Nico Vega started setting up around 11 and HOLY SHIT! It was so worth the wait. They completely rocked out! I mean ROCKED OUT! Mike even liked them and Mike and I never like the same stuff.

They're due back in Denver on June 10 at Bender's and I'm seriously considering going (the only thing stopping me is that my dad actually bought us tickets to see Imogen Heap the following night -- super cool, three shows this year - planned anyway -- after a five year dry spell!). I seriously want to go, though. Nico Vega should be huge. They have a fantastic sound, they put on a totally amazing show, and much as I love the cheap tickets, they deserve to be playing bigger venues with much bigger crowds.

Monday, May 17, 2010

What Would You Do...

...if you had the chance to speak to yourself at age 14? Would you change anything? This is exactly the opportunity faced by seventeen-year-old Devi in Sarah Mlynowski's latest teen read.

When Devi's boyfriend breaks up with her she can't think of anything except how she wishes she'd never dated him in the first place. Then she drops her cell phone in the fountain at the mall. She's only able to call one number: her own at age fourteen. With this realization comes the idea that Devi now has the opportunity to make everything better! She can focus her time on her friends and her schoolwork and forget all about heartbreaker Bryan. But as older Devi orders younger Devi to make certain changes, things don't always turn out as they'd both like.

Such a fun read. Everyone's thought about it: what it would be like to change one thing. What would happen if they'd done something differently. I know I have. A couple of things I would tell myself:
  • Get used to exercise while you don't need it!
  • You can get better grades!
  • You're not getting into grad school so you might as well finish those two extra undergrad degrees while you can. They might help later.
Mlynowski's book has been getting attention from others as well. In this Huffington Post article, she talks about the Twitter speed the book began gaining early on. Even other authors jumped on board. Jason Pinter listed Gimme A Call as one of his "5 New Releases You Should Check Out" article, also for Huffington Post.

Gimme a Call is a quick teen read and a great look at the whole "what if?" question.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Brunonia Barry Winners!

I've got winners for the Brunonia Barry contest (sorry I'm late). The winners are:

Debbie F



I've emailed each of the winners. Congrats guys! and thanks to all the other readers who entered. I have a stack of other giveaways and will announce a new one this week.

New Releases 5/18/10

Some of the new titles due out this week are:

Blood Oath by Christopher Farnsworth

The Ambassador's Mission by Trudi Canavan

Supreme Justice by Phillip Margolin

Amandine by Marlena de Blasi

Storm Prey by John Sandford

61 Hours by Lee Child -- #14 in the Jack Reacher series

Rolling Thunder by Chris Grabenstein

Spirit Bound by Richelle Mead -- Vampire Academy #5

Love Bites by Ellen Schreiber -- Vampire Kisses #7

New on DVD:
Valentine's Day
The New Daughter
The Disappeared

New reviews at Bookbitch.com:
Falling is Like This by Kate Rockland
Wereling by Steve Feasey
Ship Breaker by Paolo Bacigalupi
The End Game by Gerrie Ferris Finger
Gimme a Call by Sarah Mlynowski
Spooky Little Girl by Laurie Notaro

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Pre Pub Book Buzz -- Cheat the Grave by Vicki Pettersson

I told you earlier this week (here) that HarperCollins is giving away a free ebook version of Vicki Pettersson's first Zodiac book, The Scent of Shadows, and if you download it now you can run out and buy the other three books and catch up in time for the May 25 release of Cheat the Grave. Trust me, you'll want to run out and get them all and book four, City of Souls, has an especially killer of a cliffhanger ending.

Note: If you haven't read the earlier books in the series *SPOILERS AHEAD*

Here's the synopsis for book five:

Joanna Archer is working hard to put the painful events of her recent past behind, doing her best to embrace mortality after being superhuman.

But when she is stalked by a madman, she is forced to dive back into Vegas' underworld to piece together shocking discoveries about the mother who abandoned her, the lover who betrayed her, and the daughter who will follow in her footsteps. But in order to win back all those things, she must face off against a death-dealer who carries his soul in a blade... one that's screaming her name.


Pettersson expertly weaves classic superhero mythos with her own twist to create one of the most stand out series out there. I can not wait to get my hands on Cheat the Grave, and I wouldn't be able to wait even if I wanted. The JJs love this series as much as I do!

Friday, May 14, 2010

Remaking My Childhood (A Movie Post)

Remakes are a total double edged sword for me. First and foremost is the fact that anyone with an actual emotional attachment to a movie is going to abhor the remake. I'm convinced. But if you didn't grow up watching the movie, then you probably don't have an issue with it. Plus, some movies can really benefit from updated effects or a better storyline. But the thing is, I really think that there is so much original content out there just ripe for the picking, that I wish they would stop remaking all of the movies I watched as a kid! And I can't talk shit about them if I don't see them to compare.

I went to see Nightmare on Elm Street today. I waited. I didn't see it opening weekend because I've heard that the movie industry bases the success of the film on opening week numbers. So I waited and saw it today. Plus, Mike's working a shoot so I couldn't see anything he actually wanted to go see at the theaters : )

First off, things I did like about the movie:
  • Expanded story - to an extent. This was also a dislike for me because they went into icky details that the original never touched on
  • Kyle Gallner
  • Thomas Dekker
  • The dream sequences - although many of the memorable scenes from the original was done again in this version
  • The updates - the stuff about insomnia was interesting, the blog scene was pretty neat (and the other kids, this is where the expanded story I liked came in), and there were a few other scenes that were definitely a product of being in 2010 rather than 1984
Things I didn't like:
  • The fact that the really iconic scenes from the original were redone in this version. I mean, I understand it, but really this just adds weight to my opinion that the movie shouldn't have been remade in the first place
  • The ick factor. This is a movie about a child molester. I get that. Somehow, the original just didn't quite go the same place this "modern" version did.
  • REPLACING ROBERT ENGLUND!! I get that Jackie Earle Haley was really the only redeeming factor in Watchmen, but couldn't you just have made him the bad guy in an original concept horror movie?
Overall, it was a better remake than Friday the 13th (which I'm convinced was all about Jason guarding his pot plants) and My Bloody Valentine 3D (no attachment to the original, but it was a crap movie), but not on par with the recent remake of The Crazies.

New remakes in the works that I'm pissed about:
  • Karate Kid
  • Child's Play - does the world really need a new Chucky movie?
  • Dr. Giggles - um, the original is pretty terrible. We REALLY don't need a new one.
  • The Experiment - this one would piss me off more if I knew that anyone other than me (and Mike) had seen the German movie here. Seriously, see the German movie. It's so worth it.
  • Near Dark - just see the original
And remakes I'm on the fence about:
  • Suspiria - I love the original but this one definitely needs some new effects
  • The Birds - I've heard it won't be a remake of Hitchcock's film so much as another adaptation of du Maurier's short story
  • Hellraiser - could benefit from new effects, but the only reason I'm semi ok with this is that Clive Barker has apparently given his approval
Originals we should all see instead:
  • Gil's All Fright Diner - based on the book by A Lee Martinez
  • Breathers: A Zombie's Lament - directed by Diablo Cody and based on the book by S. G. Browne
  • The Countess - a Bathory movie written and directed by Julie Delpy
  • The Innkeepers - not sure if this is a sequel to House of the Devil or not, but I thought that one was pretty good so I'm looking forward to West's newest
  • The Ward - movie due out this fall and directed by John Carpenter
I don't actually know when or if a lot of these are due out (and I don't know that any of them are any good). We'll just have to wait and see. I'm just hoping horror (and movies in general) takes a turn sooner rather than later.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

A Spooky Fun Read

Last night I finished reading Laurie Notaro's fiction debut, Spooky Little Girl. Notaro, author of The Idiot Girls' Action Adventure Club and other humorous (I mean hilarious) memoirs, enters the fiction world with a fun tale of ghosts and unfinished business.

Lucy Fisher is down on her luck lately, but sure that things will turn around. They do, but not exactly as she'd hoped. While crossing the street to the unemployment office, she's hit by a bus. She wakes up to find that she's entered ghost school, in between states of being, where she will learn the ropes of being a ghost and prepare for returning to her previous life so she can fulfill her requirements in order to move on. Return as a ghost, that is. And her assignment is not exactly clear.

There is a slight sad note to the book. Not to put a damper on things, but no one knows Lucy is dead! No one but her sister, that is. And this is based on a story Notaro was told by a third party. Her imagined Lucy is spunky and fun, but you have to wonder about the girl who brought on the tale to begin with.

That's enough of that! Notaro is really funny. She brings a sort of slapstick comedy to this ghost story that makes it utterly charming and compulsively readable. I got flashbacks of Beetle Juice and Dead Like Me while reading it. True, the comedy is not quite as dark as Dead Like Me, there are no reapers, and what reminds me of Beetle Juice is merely the new girl trying to figure out being a spectre of her former self, but it's all dead comedy.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Breaking News

HarperCollins is offering a free ebook download of Vicki Petterson's first zodiac novel, The Scent of Shadows.

This is one of my absolute favorite series! If you haven't read them, here's your chance to start for free.

Still need convincing? (It's free, please tell me you're already in for it.) Anyway, if you still need a little nudge in the right direction (reading Pettersson is the right direction), then you can read my post about Scent here and my post on the second book in the series, The Taste of Night, here.

I've reviewed all four books in the Zodiac series for Bookbitch.com and you can find them each in the archives there. Book five is due out May 25 (sweet!).

A couple of extras: you can visit Vicki Pettersson's official site here. And here's a link to an interview with Las Vegas Weekly from July of last year.

Gerrie Ferris Finger is One to Watch

Over the weekend I tackled my TBR stack and actually made quite of bit of progress. One of the books that jumped out at me was Gerrie Ferris Finger's The End Game, her mystery debut and winner of the Malice Domestic Best First Traditional Mystery Novel Competition hosted by St. Martins/Minotaur each year.

In The End Game, former cop Moriah Dru has left the Atlanta PD to start a private investigations firm focused on locating missing kids. Child Trace has been gaining attention thanks to Dru's efforts and this is what gets her called in on a disturbing new case: Two sisters are missing after their foster parents are killed in a devastating house fire. With the suspect list growing as each minute passes - a convicted child molester in the neighborhood, a land-hungry landlord next door, reports that the kids were seen talking to "Santa" the day before they went missing, and many, many more - Dru and her partner on the case, Detective Rick Lake, have their jobs cut out for them.

I really enjoyed this book. Gerrie Ferris Finger has a style and tone that bring to mind dark classics of the genre and her subject is both timely and disturbing. (As she's pointed out in this post, however, most of the violence is "off screen," so to speak.) Personally, I prefer the mix of this tougher style with traditional characteristics. It results in a story that can appeal to cozy fans while still having a harder edge that appeals to readers like me. I really enjoyed Moriah Dru and Rick Lake. I thing Ferris Finger has built some fantastic characters here and I'm hoping there are future Child Trace mysteries to come. There's certainly big series potential here.

The End Game was released on April 27. For more on Gerrie and The End Game visit her official page here.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

The Host Winner

And by random number generator the winner is:


Congrats to Colette and thanks to everyone who entered. Remember, you still have until May 15 to get your name in for a copy of Brunonia Barry's The Map of True Places. Here's the link.

New Releases 5/11/10

Some of the new titles hitting shelves this week are:

A Curtain Falls by Stefanie Pintoff

The Other Side of the Door by Nicci French

Fever Dream by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child -- the latest Pendergast thriller

The Fire Opal by Regina McBride

The Ark by Boyd Morrison

Die Twice by Andrew Grant -- the second David Trevallyan thriller

The Same River Twice by Ted Mooney

The Poacher's Son by Paul Doiron

When Winter Returns by Kathryn Miller Haines -- the fourth Rosie Winter mystery

Falling is Like This by Kate Rockland

Heart of the Matter by Emily Giffin

The Nearest Exit by Olin Steinhauer

Dragon Haven by Robin Hobb

Moonshine by Alaya Johnson

New On DVD:
The Edge of Darkness

New reviews at Bookbitch.com:
Withchling by Yasmine Galenorn
The Marks of Cain by Tom Knox
The Scent of Rain and Lightning by Nancy Pickard
Play Dead by Ryan Brown
In the Shadow of Gotham by Stefanie Pintoff

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Saturday Offline

I'm going offline. I'm not kidding. I'm turning off the computer today so that the urge to check Facebook every five minutes is curbed. My goal is to get some reading done!

Mike is working all day on the show and I've got a stack of stuff -- stuff the Junior Junkies are begging me to read so they can get their grubby paws on them, and stuff that needs to be reviewed. Lots of stuff. Plus, it's so nice out -- if it ever warms up -- I'm thinking some hammock reading might be in store for me today.

Later peeps! Hope you have a great day of reading as well!

(Oh, I'll be back tomorrow with a Host winner, though there's only three to choose from so far.)

Friday, May 7, 2010

Blogs and Contests

So last week I signed up for the Book Blogger Hop, hosted by Jen at Crazy For Books. I've been having a ton of fun discovering other book blogs out there and hope that readers finding their way here have enjoyed my posts as well.

One of my fellow Shelfari friends and book blogers, Wonderbunny, is hosting a great contest over at her blog, Cookies, Books and Bikes. She's adding more books as she goes, but right now you can enter to win a copy of Kyra Davis's fantastically funny Sophie Katz debut or Mike Carey's first in his amazing Felix Castor series.

Lori over at Pure Imagination is giving away five copies of Jeri Smith-Ready's teen debut, Shade.

And although the Battle Royale at Literary Escapism is over, Jackie will be announcing a new mini-challenge for June on May 22. I can't wait. I've participated in both mini-challenges (and won) and am participating in the New Authors Challenge that she hosts as well (I've actually finished, but need to get all of my reviews posted here to be official).

As for me, you still have one day to get your name in for a copy of Stephenie Meyer's The Host (have you all read it already? It's really a fabulous book and it's free so enter if you haven't!) here and you have another week to enter for a copy of Brunonia Barry's Map of True Places. I've got a ton of contests coming up, so be sure to continue checkin back for new reviews and new giveaways here.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

The Secret Speech - Tom Rob Smith

So late last month, Hachette let me run a giveaway for copies of Tom Rob Smith's new paperback release of The Secret Speech. The book hit shelves this Tuesday and I wanted to tell you a little bit more about it. If you weren't one of the lucky winners, maybe you'll be enticed into buying the book :)

I have to say that when Child 44 was originally released, all of the hype was going to Stieg Larsson's The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo (another fantastic read if you haven't gotten to it yet). I read both of them pretty close together and I think style wise, if you like one, you should definitely check out the other. Where Tom Rob Smith differs, though, is that his books are set in Stalinist Russia, so they're historical thrillers. They are amazing, and his setting makes the books all that much more exciting.

So here you go:

It's been four years since Leo hunted down the serial killer in Child 44, and in that time he's been allowed to start his own homicide investigation office. During a case involving the death of a local printer, Leo determines that the man is actually a suicide, but discovers some interesting evidence that points to blackmail as a major factor. Meanwhile, Leo’s old boss approaches him to discuss a different blackmail case. The man is drunk and Leo puts him off until they are both rested. That evening the man kills his family before turning the gun on himself. And these two men are just the beginning. Though Russia is in a state of flux, someone is anxious to ensure that no one forgets the crimes of the past, and that includes Leo's own actions as an officer of the state. Making things worse is Leo’s tenuous home situation, which leaves him distracted when his adopted daughter is taken hostage. The Secret Speech will not disappoint fans of Smith's debut,Child 44. A total page-turner and an exciting continuation of Leo's story.

Congrats again to the folks who won The Secret Speech. I know you're going to enjoy it. And I highly recommend tracking down both books to anyone who is looking for a smart historical thriller.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Win a Copy of Brunonia Barry's Latest

Yay! It's free books galore this week!

I've got two - yes two - copies of Brunonia Barry's The Map of True Places up for grabs from the publisher. Who wants 'em?

Leave me a comment (with your email addy) here before midnight, Saturday, May 15. I'll draw two names the following morning and announce them here (and email the winners individually as well). And these are coming from the publisher, so no PO boxes and US only, please.

Now here's a bit about Barry's latest for you:

“It is not down in any map; true places never are.”
––Herman Melville

Brunonia Barry, the author of the beloved
New York Times and international bestseller, The Lace Reader, delivers her second novel, THE MAP OF TRUE PLACES, a complex and emotionally compelling novel about finding your true place in the world when you have no map.

After Boston psychotherapist, Zee Finch’s impending marriage falls apart and she loses a bi-polar patient to suicide, she returns to the town of her troubled youth––Salem––to care for her ailing father. While there, Zee encounters danger as she falls into the puzzle of unraveling the mystery surrounding her own mother’s suicide when Zee was a child and realizes shocking parallels between the death of her mother and that of her patient, Lilly Braedon. She also finds new love with a man who has a mysterious past, which may or may not be related to Lilly’s death.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Twist of Orchids Winner

Hi, guys! By random number generator, the winner is:


Congrats, Suko! And thanks to everyone else that entered. Don't forget, you have until Saturday to enter to win a copy of Stephenie Meyer's The Host. And I've got another contest starting tomorrow, so be sure to check back then!

Super Cool News

Have you read Leanna Renee Hieber's fantabulous book, The Strangely Beautiful Tale of Miss Percy Parker? No? Well then get to it! The follow up, The Darkly Luminous Fight for Persephone Parker is new out on shelves and now Dorchester has made this excellent announcement:

Dorchester Publishing is thrilled to announce the signing of the Broadway musical option agreement for Leanna Renee Hieber’sThe Strangely Beautiful Tale of Miss Percy Parker, a haunting tale of love and ghosts in Victorian England.

Mt. Claire Entertainment bought the novel for its musical adaptation, and Hieber, who has innate talent for invoking the Victorian era in her writing, will pen the script. Composing music and lyrics are Kenny Seymour (Broadway credits include music direction for “Memphis” and arrangements for “The Wiz”) and Nicholas Roman Lewis (creative development for “The Alchemist” and “They Call Me La Lupe”), with additional orchestrations and arrangements by Jim Abbott (“Wicked,” “Bombay Dreams,” “Disney’s Tarzan”)

“(Hieber’s) lifelong passions for the Victorian era, classic fairy tales, the paranormal and ancient mythology combined with her professional background as a classically trained theater actress endow this project with the essential ingredients for titanic commercial success,” said Tim DeYoung, Dorchester Senior VP for sales, marketing and distribution.

A September 2009 release from Dorchester imprint Leisure Books, the novel tells a lyrical tale of an eerily beautiful young woman who harbors a special talent for interacting with ghosts. The rich, atmospheric love story employs a brilliant cadre of characters who believe Percy may be the key to an ancient prophecy. The Strangely Beautiful Tale of Miss Percy Parker acquired an impressive fan base, rave reviews, and a slot on the Barnes and Noble Bestseller list.

“Leanna’s book had enthralled me from the moment I first read it,” said Lewis, “I knew this would make a wonderful musical…the characters and epic nature of the story lend themselves to song, and I knew that Kenny shared my desire to incorporate sweeping cinematic themes with traditional musical theater styles.”

For more about Leanna Renee Hieber and The Strangely Beautiful Tale of Miss Percy Parker, visit www.leannareneehieber.com or www.dorchesterpub.com. The novel’s sequel, The Darkly Luminous Fight for Persephone Parker, is a May 2010 publication.

Anyway, thought you guys would be as excited to hear about this as I was. You can read my review of Strangely Beautiful... here.

Monday, May 3, 2010

The Host Giveaway

Morning, all! I'm happy to announce that Hachette is letting me run a giveaway for a copy of the new paperback edition of Stephenie Meyer's The Host. (Dets on how to enter at the bottom of this post.)

I was in the bookstore Friday and saw a woman paging through the book next to one of the displays. She read a bit, walked a few steps away (with it still in her hands) and continued reading down the stairs where she had to stop at the platform and read more. I wanted to scream at her, "Buy it! Buy it! It's fantastic!." I didn't see if she made it to the register because I was on my way out with my own purchase, but I hope she took it home and devoured it like I did when it first came out!

Now, I've never done a Stephenie Meyer post. First, I was late coming to the Twilight saga, much to the chagrin of my sisters. And by then I figured everyone had put in their two cents already.

The Host was actually my first Meyer read and I happily reviewed it for Bookbitch.com, but was really only a few months into blogging at the time. But I loved it. I mean I really, really loved it. I jumped on the Meyer bandwagon within just moments of cracking that tome and have not looked back since. (To be honest, I was already on her bandwagon because she was one of the first who really got through to the eldest Junior Junkie, sending her on her way to earning Junkie status!)

The Host is Meyer's adult debut (though it's really fine for her teen readers as well -- I've noticed this as a concern on Shelfari, and thought I should mention that). It's got all the hallmarks of the Twilight saga, a love triangle and (in my opinion) excellent characterization and an enthralling plot. Instead of vamps, though, it's about aliens! I'm one of many who are seriously hoping that there will be another outing in this world. (Did I mention I loved it?!) Here's a little bit about The Host:

They call themselves souls and they live transferring themselves from one host to another. Earth is just their latest conquest. Wanderer has lived more lives than most of her kind and this is why she is chosen to be placed inside one of Earth's remaining resistant humans. From the beginning, Melanie, the host, is different from others: Her consciousness seems to have remained, and her memories of loved ones haunt Wanderer day and night. Melanie’s increasingly insistent voice drives Wanderer to the desert where she hopes to finally track down the human's family. As Wanderer's bond with Melanie changes, though, she becomes unsure of her place in this life. Her kind leads a collective existence, one with no room for individuality. The fact that humans embrace this offers an aspect to life that Wanderer has never experienced.

And, my thoughts back in May '08 when I reviewed the book for Bookbitch.com:

This is a more complex story than any synopsis can really express, but it’s essentially a tale of love, friendship, and the need to belong somewhere. Meyer has already conquered the teen scene, and captured the hearts of many adult readers as well, with her Twilight series. The Host is an absolutely amazing book that will give those few remaining holdouts the opportunity to see just what all the fuss is about. I’ll tell you now, it’s all true - I loved The Host and can’t recommend it highly enough.

Now tell me, are you one of those holdouts? How would you like to win a free copy? If so, leave me a comment here (with your email) between now and midnight Saturday, May 8 (US only, please). I'll draw a name on Sunday morning and announce it that morning. Good luck!