Sunday, September 30, 2012

New releases 10/2/12

Some of the new titles hitting shelves this week are (and yes, this is a HUGE week of releases so I'm sure that I've missed some):

Peaches for Father Francis by Joanne Harris (UK Peaches for Monsieur le Cure)

The Runaway Princess by Hester Browne

Phantom by Jo Nesbo

Skarlet by Thomas Emson

The Round House by Louise Erdrich

The Shadowy Horses by Susanna Kearsley

Little Star by John Ajvide Lindqvist

The Woman Who Died A Lot by Jasper Fforde

Live by Night by Dennis Lehane

Ironskin by Tina Connolly

Mad River by John Sandford

This Book is Full of Spiders by David Wong

A Dangerous Inheritance by Alison Weir

The Hiding Place by David Bell

Three Parts Dead by Max Gladstone

Say You're Sorry by Michael Robotham

Salvation of a Saint by Keigo Higashino

The Gemini Virus by Will Mara

From Notting Hill with Love... Actually by Ali McNamara

Rogue by Mark Sullivan

Invisible Murder by Lene Kaaberbol and Agnette Friis

The Greatcoat by Helen Dunmore

Ruins of Lace by Iris Anthony

Sad Desk Salad by Jessica Grose

The Last Dragonslayer by Jasper Fforde

Lucid by Adrienne Stoltz and Ron Bass

Poltergeeks by Sean Cummings

Through To You by Emily Hainsworth

Death and the Girl Next Door by Darynda Jones

Magisterium by Jeff Hirsch

Eve & Adam by Michael Grant and Katherine Applegate

Darkness Falls by Cate Tiernan

Whispers at Moonrise by CC Hunter

New on DVD:
Dark Shadows
People Like Us
Red Lights
The Hole

New reviews at Bookbitch.com:
Little Star
The Shadowy Horses
The Candidate by Paul Harris

Thursday, September 27, 2012

This Case is Gonna Kill Me by Phillipa Bornikova

What do you get when you mix urban fantasy with a legal thriller? Phillipa Bornikova's fabulous debut, of course!

Linnet Ellery has just been hired on with one of the most well-known White-Fang firms in New York. Having been fostered by a vampire who's on close terms with Ishmael of Ishmael, McGillary, and Gold, Linnet is met with an understandable bit of hostility at the competitive law firm. Her assignment is less than glamorous, too: she's to help out on a case that's been on the books for over a decade with no resolution! When her boss is killed by a werewolf, though, things get really hairy. Linnet survives the attack and takes over the case but now she has to find out why her boss was murdered and if she may become a target as well! With the help of a sexy elf PI, Linnet could come out on top. Or she could end up dead herself.

This Case is Gonna Kill Me is a super fun and original read! I loved the combination of legal thriller and paranormal here. I also loved the uniqueness of the paranormal elements and the details on the vampire hierarchy and folklore, the werewolves, and the Alfar.

Bornikova has laid the groundwork for a truly stand out new urban fantasy series with this first and I can't wait for the next book to come out -- not just because of the somewhat cliffhanger ending, but so I can find out more about the hinted at story behind the vampire superstitions -- hunters and no female vamps! Very mysterious stuff.

This Case is Gonna Kill Me is new out as of this month and is an absolute must read for any urban fantasy fan, in my humble opinion.

Big thanks to Tor for letting me participate on the tour today!

(PS -- Phillipa Bornikova is the UF pen name for SF author Melinda Snodgrass, in case you were curious. She's also a member of George R. R. Martin's Wild Cards Collective!)

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Girl of Nightmares by Kendare Blake

Yesterday I finally posted my review of Kendare Blake's Anna Dressed in Blood. Today I've got the follow up review of Girl of Nightmares for you. I'd had in mind they would make great October posts but I figure we're close enough. The fall weather has been creeping in here in Colorado and I've had horror on the brain for at least the past month now!

Sometimes death is not the end. Sometimes, a spirit hangs around, an angry shadow of the person they once were. And sometimes these ghosts can be a big problem. That's where Cas Lowood comes in. It's Cas's job to send these malevolent spectres back where they belong. Anna was the exception. Cas freed Anna from the curse that controlled her after her death and in return Anna saved Cas's life. But Cas can't forget Anna. He sees her in his dreams and even sometimes in real life. In these visions, Anna is trapped in a hellish dimension, tortured and pleading for help. Cas believes that he may be able to free her, but he won't be able to do it alone. 

As with its predecessor, Girl of Nightmares is more than just Anna and Cas's story. Anna saved Cas from the evil spirit that killed his father, but Cas still has a lot to worry about. He knows very little about his father or how they became responsible for banishing spirits. Girl of Nightmares tackles all of that and more.

These two books are definitely stand outs in terms of unique story and setting. Blake does an exceptional job of describing every detail in a rich and truly creepy way. The forest! Agh, craziness! I don't want to give it away but these are really fabulous teen horror reads!

Both books are available now and you definitely have to read Anna Dressed in Blood before Girl of Nightmares.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake

For Cas Lowood, ghost hunting is in his blood. After his father died, Cas took over the job and has been banishing vengeful spirits ever since. Now a tip on a particularly malevolent ghost has led Cas to Thunder Bay, Ontario. Anna, nicknamed Anna Dressed in Blood by the locals, has been wreaking havoc since her death back in the 50s. For decades, Anna has eliminated anyone unlucky enough to stumble into her home. As dangerous as Anna is, Cas feels there's something different about her. Even when she brutally murders another teen in front of him, she spares Cas, allowing him to leave unharmed. Cas is fascinated by Anna and becomes determined to learn her story, returning to see her again and again. What is it about Anna that makes her special and why does Cas resist killing her outright?

I was dying to read Anna after seeing how much other reviewers were raving about the book. Thankfully, it fully lived up to my expectations! Kendare Blake does a great job laying out the pieces of not one but two stories and tying them together in a way that makes complete (and satisfying) sense for the reader.

And of course there's a follow up. Girl of Nightmares rounds out the story and was released earlier this year. (Post to come.) Blake has reportedly signed on for a new series, so I think the duo of titles completes Cas and Anna's tale. I'd love to see more of Cas in the future as I can definitely see more possibilities with his character but can happily say that the conclusion of Girl nicely ties up the story begun in Anna.

Anna Dressed in Blood is teen horror (not terribly horrific in my opinion) with a bit of a romantic element. Nice cross over appeal for adults here as well!

Monday, September 24, 2012

The Cutting Season by Attica Locke

The elegant grounds of Belle Vie are haunted by ghosts of the past. Once a working sugar cane plantation, Belle Vie has become a historic tourist attraction featuring costumed performers and events. Caren Gray grew up at Belle Vie: her mother worked for the Clancy family -- the owners of the plantation -- and Caren is now the manager of the facility. Both the Grays and the Clancys have been tied to the land for generations, able to trace their families back to Civil War days. When a body is discovered just outside Belle Vie's old slave quarters, suspicion immediately falls on Belle Vie employees. Caren is sure none of her workers could possibly be responsible, but the authorities aren't listening. Soon there are murmurings of a possible closure, rumors that force Caren to reevaluate her own links to the land as well as her family history. Before long Caren finds herself at the center of two mysteries, that of the body recently discovered and the fate of her oldest Belle Vie ancestor, a freed slave named Jason who went missing generations ago. 

Attica Locke's second release marks the launch of Dennis Lehane's imprint with HarperCollins. It's easy to see why Locke caught Lehane's eye, The Cutting Season is a masterfully plotted mystery with an amazing depth of story and character.

I loved the interweaving of the two mysteries. Jason's story is revealed as the current mystery unfolds and Locke balances the modern and historic very well. In fact, her attention to detail is one of the things that makes the book so great. The stories, the characters, and the setting are all very carefully built and completely come to life.

Locke was recently interviewed on NPR's Morning Edition. It's a short interview but it makes a great prelude to the book itself as Locke explains her inspiration for the book and some of the things she considered in writing the story.

To see more stops on the tour, visit the official TLC tour page here. For more on Attica, you can visit her official website (link above). You can also like her on Facebook and follow her on Twitter.

Friday, September 21, 2012

The Shadowy Horses by Susanna Kearsley

According to historical record, the fate of the Ninth Legion is unknown. This alone makes them a great focus for a number of works including Susanna Kearsley's latest, The Shadowy Horses

Verity Grey has accepted an interview for a position with Peter Quinnell's dig in Eyemouth. Little does she know the dig is a continued search on Quinnell's part for the missing Ninth. Reports of a spectral Sentinel have led Quinnell to Rosehill. Verity most definitely does not believe in ghosts but even she can't resist Quinnell's enthusiasm and the draw of local archaeologist David Fortune helps as well. She vows to give the dig a chance and when undeniable evidence of Roman occupation is uncovered, she becomes determined to see the excavation through. But the dig and the charming coastal village hide dangers that Verity is unprepared for. 

Kearsley hooked me with just a few lines this spring when I read Mariana and it was the same with Shadowy Horses. She does an amazing job building the tension and suspense in her plots, setting up a gothically tinged atmosphere, spicing it up with a little romance, and completely enthralling the reader in the tale. 

My one (minor) complaint was that the end seemed a bit rushed after all of that excellent build. Otherwise, The Shadowy Horses is a fabulous read! I can't wait to jump into more of Kearsley's backlist. I have both The Winter Sea and The Rose Garden in my TBR as we speak. And I hear that Kearsley's next book will feature a return of one of Shadowy Horses's characters. 

The Shadowy Horses is actually a reprint/rerelease from Sourcebooks and is due out October 2. 

Thursday, September 20, 2012

The Candidate by Paul Harris

Morning, readers. I'm part of the TLC tour for Paul Harris's The Candidate this morning.

Mike Sweeney believes Jack Hodges can truly change the course of our nation. As one of his staffers, Mike is dedicated to helping Hodges's campaign. When a would-be assassin takes a shot at the presidential hopeful, his popularity with voters immediately increases. But why did the assassin target Hodges in the first place? Mike is assigned to find out, but digging into this mess is harder than it would initially appear. The woman jailed for the crime isn't talking and when Mike traces her to Guatemala, he has no choice but to hop a plane and follow the clues wherever they may lead. In politics, the past never stays buried and if there's any smudge on Hodges's record, the campaign could bomb.

Paul Harris's latest is certainly timely in its release. The subject of presidential campaigning is one that no one can avoid at the moment. Fortunately, while the book may prompt some additional thought into what might be going on behind the scenes today, that's really the only bearing it has on the actual campaigns going on right this moment.

The Candidate is a political thriller through and through. The story is interesting and the basis for the plot (civil war in Guatemala) is real -- and is also one that I personally know almost nothing about, a point characters are quick to  latch onto in the book as well. Harris, a journalist who covers US politics, manages to delve into the topic here in a way that avoids being overly bogged down in complicated policy or facts. Instead, it's an easy read for someone looking for a good thriller and it's equally interesting for a reader who has some knowledge of political goings on as well.

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

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

The Absent One by Jussi Adler-Olsen

Oh, today. Wondering what you have in store for me as you continue to progress. Hrm.

Yesterday I froze in my office. It was madness! Fall did not waste any time hitting us. Our garden is going bananas, which is nice, but I am so not ready for turning off the AC and switching to heat. If we can just have a few months of nice mid 70-ish weather, I'll be happy.

We had one of those perfect kind of days a few weeks ago and I spread out the picnic blanket and dove into Jussi Adler-Olsen's latest, The Absent One.

After the success of their first case, Carl Mørck has found himself in the odd position of receiving praise rather than the usual criticism. Now cleared to continue their work and with their pick of cases, Department Q is ready to move ahead. And they're getting a new team member as well. But before Rose joins them, Carl and Assad discover a strange case file dropped on Carl's desk. No one knows where it came from or why it's been sent to Department Q. It's a closed case from the 80s -- the murder of a brother and sister in 1987 and a confessed killer behind bars. Solved cases are definitely not Dept Q material but something about the case sparks Carl's interest. The case is tied to a set of well connected individuals, all of whom came under scrutiny at the time of the murder -- all of them were also cleared when the murderer came out and confessed. Mørck is convinced that there's more to the story but his superiors immediately warn him off. Not that that makes much of a difference, Mørck never responds well to authorities or their orders. Obviously someone felt the case was less that clear cut, too, considering the file made it's way to Dept Q in the first place. As Mørck and team dig deeper, they begin to upset some pretty influential folks and become targets themselves. Solving the puzzle could mean their own survival this time around.

I didn't adore this one quite as much as I did Keeper of Lost Causes. Yes, it's equally dark and twisted and Mørck is crusty and snarky as ever but I didn't think that Assad or Rose got much in the way of development at all. The overall read was fine -- better than fine, actually. The mystery itself is just as well-plotted as that of Keeper, but seeing as how it's a second I would definitely have liked to learn more about the characters. That being said, hopefully it'll come up in subsequent books and I definitely continue to look forward to where the series will go next.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Wake of the Bloody Angel Winner

By random number generator, the winner of my Wake of the Bloody Angel giveaway is:


Congrats, Scott! And thanks to everyone who entered. Remember, there's still time to enter to win a copy of Giles Kristian's Blood Eye. Hit the link for dets!

Friday, September 14, 2012

Audio review: Horns by Joe Hill

Ig Parrish has been living in hell. The murder of his high school sweetheart left him the prime suspect and while there was never enough evidence to convict him -- probably because he's innocent -- that's not stopped everyone around him from being certain of his guilt. But when Ig wakes up with horns, everything changes. At first he's not even sure they're real, but then everyone around him starts revealing their darkest, most private thoughts and desires. Ig's shaken but he soon realizes the power his horns wield and it might mean finally finding the person behind Merrin's murder. 

Joe Hill knows how to tell a truly twisted and entertaining story. Horns is at once disturbing and disturbingly funny. Latest news is that the movie is set for production and Daniel Radcliffe is set to play Ig. Seems like and odd but intriguing choice to be sure. I'm pretty anxious to see it on the big screen, though.

Per my audio MO, I listed to the majority of this one on audio before switching to the physical copy for the last 1/4 of the story. Narrator Fred Berman does a really fabulous job here injecting just the right amount of emotion and sarcasm into the reading. I also appreciated his pacing in reading and his attempts to change voice with new characters. It was quite amusing and appropriate for the tone of Hill's story.

If you're a horror fan and you're not reading Joe Hill yet, I just have to ask, why the heck not? The guy comes from a legacy of horror! And it's really hard not to point that out. He definitely stands alone and there's no need at all to mention his dad in reviews but any horror fan worth their salt would have to run out and buy Hill in finding out that he's King's son. So far I've read all of his novels, his short story collection (which is utterly superb), and his name on any anthology is enough to make me buy it. I'd really hoped Locke & Key would make it through the pilot process, too. Sadly it seems it's not to be. Oh, well, I'll live. I hear Hill has a new book in the works (and his brother does, too).

Thursday, September 13, 2012

The Mirrored World by Debra Dean

Good morning, readers! I'm part of the TLC book tour for Debra Dean's The Mirrored World today.

I read Debra Dean's The Madonna's of Leningrad when it was originally released and really loved the historical aspects of the story. The modern day thread was very hard for me to read emotionally. It was kind of heart wrenching to be honest but I was definitely interested in reading more from Dean. It's been a few years coming, but The Mirrored World is out now.

Dasha and her cousin Xenia were raised together almost like sisters. Now, all grown up, Dasha recounts their life together. 

Xenia was like any other child -- almost. She had an uncanny prescience, sometimes able to predict certain things simply based on her dreams. When she met and fell madly in love with Andrei, her life seemed complete. They longed for children and when they finally conceived it seemed as though Xenia would have everything she dreamed. Life had other plans. Tragedy struck and Xenia retreated into herself. Dasha tried desperately to help, but when Xenia finally emerged she became fixated on helping those in need, finally giving away all of her possessions. She would disappear from Dasha's life only to be discovered wandering the most destitute area of the city, clothed in her husband's uniform and spouting predictions and helping those around her. 

Here's a bit from the author herself about the book:

Like Madonnas, The Mirrored World as historical fiction is fantastic. The images of eighteenth century Russia -- especially the whims and excesses of the royal family -- are fascinating and richly portrayed. But, again like Madonnas, I found Xenia and Dasha's story very sad.

Perhaps it's something that comes with age. I can recall as a teen being utterly disappointed in coming to the end of Gone With the Wind (the movie). By the time I was in my twenties I'd gone from loathing it to adoring it. Similarly, while both Madonnas and Mirrored World deal with undoubtedly woeful subjects, I can see how the stories would be considered less melancholy by other readers. By the end of Mirrored World Xenia herself is in a much more peaceful, if not outright happy, place and I think even Dasha has come to appreciate this as well.

All that said, I kind of wish that Mirrored World had been about twice as long as it actually was. It's a very slim read -- and a quick one at that. I would have loved for parts of the story to have been fleshed out more. By the the end of the story everything wraps up very quickly. In truth, Catherine's fear of Xenia is barely touched on at all.

For more stops on the tour, visit the official TLC tour page here. You can also like Debra's Facebook page here.

Monday, September 10, 2012

October Event: Murder, Monsters & Mayhem

Fellow horror addict Jenn over at Jenn's Bookshelves is once again hosting her annual Murder, Monsters & Mayhem event and I'm getting on board!

The goal is simply to feature posts throughout October focused on anything horror and/or thriller (books and movies). Since I've already got the fall horror bug, I'm going to have to pace myself!

My horror TBR currently includes:

Those Across the River by Christopher Buehlman
Legion by William Peter Blatty
The Reckoning by Sarah Pinborough

Ghost Story by Peter Straub
Children of the Night by Dan Simmons
14 by Peter Clines

The Devil's Oven by Laura Benedict
Some Kind of Fairy Tale by Graham Joyce
Vacation by Matthew Costello

And there are a bunch of new releases hitting shelves soon as well. Not sure which of these I'll hold off on until October, though. We'll just have to see!

Blood Eye by Giles Kristian + a giveaway!

Osric has always been an outsider in Abbotsend. He was found with no memory of who he was or where he came from. The locals fear him because of the blood spot in his eye, but Ealhstan, the mute carpenter, took him in as his apprentice. When the Norsemen arrived, Osric believed they were only interested in trade, but he was wrong. Abbotsend is burned to the ground and Osric, along with Ealhstan, is taken by the pagans, forced to travel with them on their exploits. Oddly, Osric finds he can understand their strange, foreign tongue. What's more, they revere Osric's mark, claiming he's been sent by Odin himself. 

This first in Giles Kristian's Raven trilogy is historical action/adventure akin to the sagas of Bernard Cornwell and Conn Iggulden (and yes, I picked those authors from my own reading experience before discovering that that they were mentioned in the back of the book -- *reading coincidences*). Kristian twists actual history to fit his tale, making the story both believable and interesting.

Set in ninth century Britain, the story is set around the first arrival of the Vikings (Norsemen). Some of the characters who appear within the story are based in fact -- Kings Coenwulf and Egbert, for example -- though much of the tale is pure fiction based more on the idea of the events of the time. The author's Q&A in the back of the book is a nice afterward for the piece and gives great background for the story and his approach to the trilogy.

Blood Eye was originally released in hardcover in 2009 in the UK. Now, all three titles in the trilogy are being released here in the states. Book two, Sons of Thunder, is due out September 25 and book three, Odin's Wolves, is set to hit shelves October 30.

I'll say that it's been ages since I've read Cornwell or Iggulden so I was super excited to delve into Kristian's work. I was not let down. The narrative's pacing is quick and the story is thrilling. It's the kind of book that I'd like to see adapted for the big screen as well -- an action packed historical saga with lots of burly men and bloody action scenes! I can't help it -- the book trailer is so well made that I'd like to see more!

If you're interested, here's a quick short that goes along with the series.

For more stops on the tour, visit the official TLC tour page here. For more on Giles Kristian and his work, visit his official site here. You can also like him on Facebook and follow him on Twitter.

And now for the giveaway! I have one copy to give away courtesy of the publisher (US/Canada only). To enter, leave me a comment here before midnight September 30. Please include an email where I can reach you if you win. I'll draw a winner on Monday, October 1. 

Sunday, September 9, 2012

New Releases 9/11/12

Some of the new titles hitting shelves this week are:

The White Forest by Adam McOmber

Those We Love Most by Lee Woodruff

Telegraph Avenue by Michael Chabon

The Blinding Knife by Brent Weeks

The Malice of Fortune by Michael Ennis

Robert Ludlum's The Janus Reprisal by Jaime Freveletti

A Wanted Man by Lee Child

The Yellow Birds by Kevin Powers

Escape by Perihan Magden

The Mirrored World by Debra Dean

Full Blooded by Amanda Carlson

Hanging By a Thread by Sophie Littlefield

Shadowfell by Juliet Marillier

Tilt by Ellen Hopkins

Flesh & Bone by Jonathan Maberry

The Brides of Rollrock Island by Margo Lanagan

Unspoken: The Lynburn Legacy by Sarah Rees Brennan

New on DVD:
What to Expect When You're Expecting
Snow White & the Huntsman
The Loved Ones
Rosewood Lane

Thursday, September 6, 2012

And When She Was Good by Laura Lippman

Morning, everyone! I'm a stop on the TLC book tour for Laura Lippman's latest today!

Heloise Lewis knows all about hiding in plain sight. She is, after all, a prostitute. But Heloise lives in a normal neighborhood and lives a quiet life, not drawing attention to herself or her profession. No, Heloise has done everything she can to blend in and provide the best life she can for her son, Scott. Scott will never know the truth about his father or Heloise's job. It took a lot for Heloise to get where she is in the world, not least of which was turning over evidence that led to her pimp's incarceration -- and making sure that he never found out she was responsible. But now it looks as though his case will be appealed and Heloise's carefully built facade is in danger of falling apart. 

Laura Lippman is the author of the popular Tess Monaghan series as well as a number of standalones, including And When She Was Good. For longtime readers, though, Heloise is not completely unfamiliar. In fact, Heloise appears in a short story ("One True Love") and a novella (Scratch a Woman) featured in Lippman's 2008 collection, Hardly Knew Her.

Lippman is a master of her craft. Her writing is crisp, her plots are excellent, and -- as with Heloise -- her characters are complex. I always appreciate a tight plot but I love Lippman's character development even more so. In more instances than not, there comes a point where you have to question Lippman's leads: is this character telling the truth, what is this character hiding (because in Lippman's case there's usually a twist), and is this character actually a good person? This element makes Lippman's characters more realistic for me as a reader.

Heloise is a formidable lady and a character with so many layers that I can't help but be drawn to her. For some she may be a bit too hard but I find her to be strong and willful, ready to do whatever it takes to help those closest to her.

You don't have to have read either of the Heloise stories in order to read And When She Was Good, but you'll certainly want to. In all honesty, I have truly enjoyed each and every book I've read by Lippman (and her short stories are some of my favorites). She's one of those authors who is guaranteed to keep me up way past my bedtime and this latest was no exception. 

For more on Laura and her work, visit her official website (link above). You can also like her on Facebook

To see what others on the tour thought, visit the official TLC book tour page here

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Wake of the Bloody Angel by Alex Bledsoe -- and a giveaway!

I'm a stop on the TLC book tour for Alex Bledsoe's Wake of the Bloody Angel today and I've got a copy to giveaway courtesy of the publisher!

In the aftermath of Pirates of the Caribbean, I'd thought (hoped, wished) there would be a slew of pirate related fiction to feed my continued craving of all things pirates. Sadly, I never found anything. Until now!

Eddie LaCrosse has a new client -- his landlord. Turns out the highly secretive Angelina has a long lost love. Once upon a time, in her early barmaid days, Angelina fell for a young sailor named Edward Tew. Tew, intent on providing for his new lady, set off to earn his riches the old fashioned way -- through piracy. He was never heard from again. Twenty years later, Angelina is tired of waiting and has hired Eddie to find out what happened to Tew. Eddie enlists the help of Jane Argo, a former pirate captain herself, and sets off on the high seas in search of the long lost pirate. Rumor has it his ship went down with a mighty haul but no one has ever found Tew, his missing cargo, or his ship, The Bloody Angel. Can Eddie solve the mystery where past treasure hunters have failed?

My expectations were sky high jumping into Wake of the Bloody Angel. Thankfully, Alex Bledsoe came through in spades! The mystery is well plotted and the mix of fantasy and mystery elements is an excellent pairing. Plus there are pirates! And sea monsters! Need I really say more?

This is technically the fourth installment in Bledsoe's Eddie LaCrosse series. Another big plus for this book is that the reader really doesn't miss anything by jumping in at book four. There are hints of past things Eddie's faced, but overall the book can be read as a stand-alone and serves as a great introduction to the series as a whole. Be warned, if you read one you'll definitely want to read the rest!

Here's the series listing in order:

The Sword Edged Blonde
Burn Me Deadly
Dark Jenny
Wake of the Bloody Angel

And now for that giveaway! To enter, leave a comment here before midnight, September 16 (US only, please). I'll randomly draw a name and announce the winner on Monday, September 17. Be sure to leave contact info so I can get in touch if you win.

For more on Bledsoe and his work, visit his official website (link above). You can also like him on Facebook and follow him on Twitter.

To see the rest of the stops on the tour, visit the official tour page here.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Monstrous Beauty by Elizabeth Fama

Happy book birthday to Elizabeth Fama! Her latest, Monstrous Beauty, hits shelves today.

The folks in Plymouth know that something lurks beneath the waters at their shore. Local legends talk of mermaids who lure fisherman to their deaths. Ezra Doyle is a studious young man with a passion for marine biology. His interest in local stories and mythology has led to his study of the ocean environment itself and his fortuitous introduction to Syrenka. As he learns more about her life and her kind, Ezra and Syrenka begin to fall desperately in love. But the only way they can be together is for Syrenka to become human, a solution that comes with tragic consequences. 

For as long as Hester Goodwin can recall, she has been fascinated by the history of her family and her town. Having decided never to fall in love or have children, she has devoted most of her time to her job at Plimouth Plantation. Sadly, her decision regarding love comes not from a lack of interest, but from the knowledge that children would mean almost certain death: her family line is filled with tragedy as mother after mother has passed after giving birth to their daughters. Sure the same fate awaits her, she has resolved never to let it come to that. But when Hester meets the stranger on the beach, she finds herself drawn to him in a way she's never experienced. Upon hearing her story, the stranger suggests that Hester's family may be cursed and that if she can unravel the story, maybe Hester can break the curse once and for all.

Monstrous Beauty is a wonderful read! The story alternates between 1872, Syrenka and Ezra's time, and Hester's present-day story. The mix of historic and modern makes for an excellent and intriguing tale and though the reader knows Syrenka and Hester are connected, much of Hester's story still comes as a surprise with unexpected elements around every corner.

Fama's use of history and mythology are just one of my favorite aspects of the story -- I loved the characters and the overall plot as well, but her use of mermaid lore was the real standout for me. Having read Zoraida Cordova's The Vicious Deep earlier this year, I was interested to see how Fama's mermaids would differ. While I expected that each author would have dealt with their subjects in much different ways, I can now happily report that this is in fact the case. Both are excellent reads featuring mermaids but that's where the similarities end. Where Cordova's book is a very modern sort of adventure story, Monstrous Beauty has a very classic fairy tale feel to it.

Fama also authored a short companion story, "Men Who Wish to Drown," you can read here. This one is a great prelude to whet your appetite or a nice follow up/extra after reading Monstrous Beauty.

Monday, September 3, 2012

The Shoemaker's Wife by Adriana Trigiani

Good morning and happy Labor Day! I'm a stop on the TLC Book Tour for Adriana Trigiani's The Shoemaker's Wife today!

Ciro was just ten years old when he and his brother, Eduardo, were left at a convent. Their father had been killed in a mining accident in America and their mother, unable to cope with the loss, prevailed upon the nuns at San Nicola for help. She was supposed to return the following summer. Years passed with no word and the sisters continued to raise Ciro and Eduardo as if they were their own.

Enza and her family lived just five miles away, up the mountain. Her father owned a carriage and a horse with which he provided carriage services up and down the mountain. The family worked hard, scrimping and saving every penny so that they could buy a house of their own. When Enza's youngest sister passes away, Ciro is hired to dig the grave. The two are immediately drawn to one another, but fate has different plans for the two. Ciro is sent to America and Enza is left wondering what went wrong. Soon after, Enza and her father also make their way across the ocean in hopes of earning enough to provide for their family back home in Italy.

For Ciro and Enza, life becomes a series of chance meetings and missed opportunities, but love wins out in the end. Theirs is a story of love, family, and honor.

This latest from Trigiani is a sweet story of two people and their dreams. The Shoemaker's Wife is filled with lush imagery and emotion. I thought the author did a fabulous job bringing the reader inside Ciro and Enza's experiences, breathing life into the characters as well as the various settings in a way that sweeps us along with the story. From the mountains of Italy to the budding mining towns of Minnesota, all of the sights and sounds that Ciro and Enza encounter throughout the years of their story came through completely in Trigiani's prose.  

Enza and Ciro's story is both uplifting and heart breaking -- and is based, in part, on Trigiani's own grandparents, an aspect I find makes the book that much more appealing. The new paperback edition includes photos from Trigiani's own family that helped in inspiring The Shoemaker's Wife.

This was my first time reading Trigiani and I'm happy to say that now I understand what all the fuss is about :) I laughed and I cried my way through this book. I also zoomed through it, shutting myself away on Saturday until I read through to the very end!

For more on Trigiani and her work, visit her official website (link above). You can also like her on Facebook and follow her on Twitter.

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

Sunday, September 2, 2012

New releases 9/4/12

Some of the new titles hitting shelves this week are:

Breed by Chase Novak

Map of the Sky by Felix Palma

Buffalo Bill's Dead Now by Margaret Coel

The Devil's Madonna by Sue Potts

The Other Woman by Hank Phillippi Ryan

Face of the Enemy by Joanne Dobson & Beverle Graves Myers

In a Fix by Linda Grimes

Ashes of Honor by Seanan McGuire

Supernatural Born Killers by Casey Daniels

Trust Your Eyes by Linwood Barclay

This Case is Gonna Kill Me by Phiilipa Bornikova

Murder Most Austen by Tract Kiely

Luther: The Calling by Neil Cross

The Fine Color of Rust by PA O'Reilly

Those Across the River by Christopher Buehlman (pb)

Slow Apocalypse by John Varley

Trojan Horse by Mark Russinovich

Laura Lamont's Life in Pictures by Emma Straub

The Time Keeper by Mitch Albom

Beneath the Glitter by Elle Fowler

How Lucky You Are by Kristyn Kusek Lewis

Garment of Shadows by Laurie R. King

Monstrous Beauty by Elizabeth Fama

Origin by Jessica Khoury

Carnival of Souls by Melissa Marr

The Edge of Nowhere by Elizabeth George

Entice by Jessica Shirvington

Outpost by Ann Aguirre

Rage Within by Jeyn Roberts

New on DVD:
The Five-Year Engagement

New reviews at Bookbitch.com:
Monstrous Beauty
The Broken Ones by Stephen M. Irwin
Fated by Alyson Noel