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Saturday, February 28, 2009

From The TBR Pile

So I finally managed to get to a book that's been hiding in my TBR stash for quite some time. It's Ariana Franklin's Mistress of the Art of Death. Now, when I read Franklin's debut (aka Diana Norman so her first book under the Franklin pseudonym) City of Shadows, I was literally blown away. I actually have it as an unbound manuscript so I really couldn't take it with me anywhere, or read in the tub like I usually do, but it was so fantastic that I literally just sat in my room with the binder until I finished. I really thought that it was wonderful (I think I'll have a post on it one of these days soon). 

Anyway, when I saw that Mistress was due out, I ran out and snatched up a copy. And then when Serpent's Tale came out, I ran out and snatched up a copy of it too. And now Grave Goods, book three in the series, is due out and I figured that it was time for me to actually read these books! Grrr. I know, just like every other book hoarder knows, that I buy more books that I can possibly read. It's a hoarding thing and fortunately I only do it with books. 

I blame it on my jobless year as a freshman in college. I thought I wouldn't be able to afford to feed my habit. Little did I know, mom was well aware of my addiction and any time things were particularly rough for me that first year, she'd give me money to go out and buy myself some books. But the hoarding mentality, grabbing up every appealing book now so that I will have it when I want it, stuck. And working at the bookstore didn't make it any better. As the person in charge of the fiction sections of the store, I saw pretty much every new title that came into the stores I worked in for about 6 years. That's a lot of impulse buying. And I intend to read every last one of them before I die! Course it keeps growing exponentially, but I'm confident it can be done : )

And then times like this hit and I gotta tell you, after turning the final page in Mistress, I wanted to jump right in to Serpent. It was that good! So it was, in this case, a really good thing that I had book two waiting for me when book 1 was finished. 

Mistress of the Art of Death is the first in a series of twelfth century mysteries featuring a female pathologist. At the time, there was a famous medical school in Salerno that allowed female students. Adelia Aguilar is the best of the best as far as her teachers are concerned, so when the English town of Cambridge has a string of kidnappings that directs all suspicion on the city's Jews, the King of Sicily steps in to lend a hand. He sends his best master in the art of death (Adelia) along with her bodyguard and his best investigator to Cambridge to find out what is going on. With the current (12th century) climate, however, Adelia must keep her skills and her purpose a secret from all but a select few. And, when her partner in this endeavor is killed, she becomes determined to solve the mystery on her own, even if it means exposing herself in the meantime. 

I think this is the most brilliantly conceived forensic mystery I have come across in a long time. And, Franklin has chosen an amazing period of history as her setting. It is true that in Salerno, at the time, women were allowed to practice medicine. Add to that the outlook of the people on various issues and you've got what seems to be a short period of change before the plague and subsequently the Church changed everything. It's fascinating and it's obvious that Franklin has a. done her research and b. is excited about the period she's chosen. It all comes through in the reading and makes Mistress a book that just sucks you in. 

Mistress of the Art of Death will appeal to both historical fans as well as fans of forensic mysteries. Imagine if Temperance Brennan lived in medieval times (even though Brennan is a forensic anthropologist, I think temperament-wise, both characters are head-strong and stubborn, and totally lovable).

Both Mistress and Serpent are out in paperback now, Grave Goods is due out in hardcover on March 19.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

A Just For Fun Food Post

So I'm trolling around the internet this afternoon after talking to my mom about cooking dilemmas - hers: figuring out what to cook in the limited time that she has, that will be slightly healthier and that everyone will eat. Anyway, I bought mom the Sam Zien cookbook (see this post) after she saw mine (she got it for me for Christmas) and she was talking about how she had gone to the store with a few of his recipes in mind. Of course she didn't write a list so she essentially walked out of the store with a whole bunch of cheese and some basil (Sam has a some pizza recipes in his book that use store-bought crust and mom wanted one of these). 

So strange brain connections that I make, I start looking for a vodka pizza recipe. When Mike was in NYC working, I went up to visit him for a few days. I did a lot of internet trolling then, too, to find restaurants. Major foodie that I am, I wanted to make the most of my trip. One night, though, we went out looking for something cheap and tasty and settled on pizza. Course in NYC pizza places are a dime a dozen. But, we walked past this little place that had a sign advertising their famous vodka pizza, forcing our decision. 

It was a little (or big, because NY slices are rather big) slice of absolute heaven. I desperately want their vodka sauce recipe now. It was tangy and had a great spicy kick to it that I've not had in other vodka sauces. My friend's aunt has a recipe in her book for a vodka sauce that does call for red pepper flakes so I really want to see how it compares to my memory of that slice. 

Anyway, Mike has been back to NY a couple of times since then but seeing as how we were just wandering around, neither of us could remember where we had eaten that fantastic pizza. Little did I know, vodka pizza is not that big of a dish and this place has really made a name for itself with it. So, if I'm ever back in NYC, Pomodoro Ristorante on Spring Street is the place I'll be going. 

Oh, and lady, we totally saw you hit that car like three times while we were eating there! Just saying. 

I got your back...

Toby! What am I talking about? This

So after last night's Top Chef, I suppose some soul searching is on order for me. See I should be supporting our local winner, but I really, really, really wanted Stefan to win. I lurve him. I think he was the better bald man.

Anyway, if you're a fan of the show and saw last night's ep, then you know it was a bit heart-wrenching to watch Carla. I felt terrible for her. It really was hard to watch. I think throughout the season she showed that if she went with her gut and cooked HER food, she was really a force to be reckoned with. She was lucky in that she slid by at the beginning, but towards the end she really started to shine. 

As for Stefan. Oh man. First off, since I totally love the man (sorry, Mike, I love you more!) I think the editors and producers set out to pin him as the bad guy. I mean c'mon, the man was no Lisa, he could roll with the punches and take the criticism, but he was confident and rightly so. I'm not sure if Hosea really spent as much time as the editing made it look complaining about Stefan and creating this rivalry, but it was obnoxious at the least and enough for him to lose any appeal that he had with me in the beginning.

I've said it before when talking about this show, but the attitude of the competitor plays such a big part in who I would prefer to see win. I think Stefan was confident and I really think he had reason to be. He won a ton of challenges because he was a damn good chef. Hosea on the other hand, started out strong and then sort of lost it in the middle. What really clinched it for me, though, was the farm episode. Teaming up with Leah and letting Ariane take the fall for that challenge was a putz move. I mean seriously, in that particular challenge it looked like neither Hosea or Leah really did much of anything.

And the following episode was no better. Hosea didn't redeem himself in my eyes like Jeff did - explanation: in the first ep Mr. Florida made a comment about how he checks his freaking hair before going out on the floor. Not at all a comment that made him a star in my eyes in spite of the fact that he's good looking enough for bad hair to be an "issue." But, he was a good chef and throughout the show I think he was humbled a bit. By the end, I was rooting for him. Anyway, with Hosea it was just the opposite. I liked him at first and then some of his actions and the attitude portrayed on the show caused me to lose all of that "local support" stuff. Meanwhile, team Europe had me cracking up just about every episode and Stefan was rolling out fabulous dishes (with only a few hiccups).

What I'd like to see is a reality show with Fabio and Stefan! Team Europe reunited and running a kitchen together. And that's all I want to see, the two of them goofing off in a restaurant together. I would watch. 

So, Hosea won even though my vote went to Stefan. Hat's off to Hosea. I wonder if he'll be staying in Boulder and opening a place here or leaving for NYC or some other food mecca (I think it would be a bad move as Boulder really is kind of a foodie community in some ways and can support a lot of different restaurants). Can't wait for next season!

**So right after I hit "publish post" here, I found this EW interview with Mr. Boulder himself. Again, not sure how much of what we saw on the show was edited for extra drama, but Hosea's comments on Stefan in this article are quite a breath of fresh air. Who knows.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

And Procrastination Hits Again

So I'm in the midst of editing two cookbooks at the moment, one in the proof stage and one in the pre-design stage, and I find myself getting very distracted. First off, I'm particularly anal so it really bothers me if I feel like something is out of place. For instance, my desk is a wreck at the moment and I keep catching glimpses of this pile of stuff out of the corner of my eye and it's keeping me from accomplishing things. I'm not kidding. It's bothering me so much that I desperately need to clean it but I keep telling myself that I don't have time so I'm really not getting anything done. It's terrible and I'm sure that it points to some strange psychological issue that I should pay someone to work out for me. 

I'm distracted and blogging : ) See, procrastination rearing its ugly head!

After finishing Jonathan Maberry's latest last night, I moved on to Keith Donohue's Angels of Destruction. Now I'm not quite finished, but I thought it would be a good idea to post something about Donhue's other title, The Stolen Child. But, Donohue's debut hit shelves while I was still working at the bookstore and not yet doing my reviews, and seeing as how it has been a while, but I still want to let you guys know about it, I will have to defer to the wonderful reviewers at PW:

"Folk legends of the changeling serve as a touchstone for Donohue's haunting debut, set vaguely in the American northeast, about the maturation of a young man troubled by questions of identity. At age seven, Henry Day is kidnapped by hobgoblins and replaced by a look-alike impostor. In alternating chapters, each Henry relates the tale of how he adjusts to his new situation. Human Henry learns to run with his hobgoblin pack, who never age but rarely seem more fey than a gang of runaway teens. Hobgoblin Henry develops his uncanny talent for mimicry into a music career and settles into an otherwise unremarkable human life. Neither Henry feels entirely comfortable with his existence, and the pathos of their losses influences all of their relationships and experiences. Inevitably, their struggles to retrieve their increasingly forgotten pasts put them on paths that intersect decades later. Donohue keeps the fantasy as understated as the emotions of his characters, while they work through their respective growing pains. The result is an impressive novel of outsiders whose feelings of alienation are more natural than supernatural."

While the specifics have left me, I can tell you that this is one book that you don't forget. As I said, I was still working at the bookstore at the time in question and this was a title that my friendly rep brought me - I got to meet with her when she came to the store and she usually had her top picks set aside for me, the books she recommended highest out of that batch of releases. Stolen Child was one of those titles that the company was pretty excited about so I was, in turn, excited to be reading it. 

At the time, my other was doing some work for a local company that did promo videos and the like, and he had been asked to shoot footage of a local 24-hour film festival/contest. I remember it was not too cold out at first, but I was wearing sandals and ended up runing down to a little shoe store to buy some ridiculously overpriced socks to keep my poor toes warm. And I dragged The Stolen Child with me. So as I sat, shivering while my other filmed students and locals running around, I also sat completely mesmerized by Donohue's book. I'm not kidding here. Just like his stories take on an almost fairy-tale quality in subject, his voice is, as one reviewer put it, simply magical. His use of traditional folk tales brings a great fantasy element to a book that goes beyond simple genre labels. 

I'll be reviewing Angels of Destruction this weekend for the Bookbitch, but you guys should all know that it is just as wonderful as The Stolen Child. It's difficult to compare these to other titles, but if you're looking for a sort of literary read (I mean book clubby read here) with a fantasy element, this is it for you. I honestly think that Angel may even turn out to be better than Stolen Child, so you have something to look forward too!

Monday, February 23, 2009

A Big Mess

I'm an absolute mess. I'm serious. I'm 27 and I feel like I'm falling apart. Course part of it is my lovely bruised toe thanks to my walking into furniture last night. Yeah, my little sister got an earful of that one! And no I was not drinking the Bacardi Watermelons from the night before. I was trying to have a quiet evening testing a muffin recipe and watching a zombie movie, but no, I had to go and maim myself instead. 

And now I've got a crick in my neck from sitting funny while watching that Dutch horror movie. See, I'm falling to pieces here. 

Anyway, sorry for posting so late. I spent my weekend reading Jonathan Maberry's new book, Patient Zero, and absolutely loved it (hence the need for a zombie flick last night). Yep, I dragged it to the gym and even fell asleep over it last night after taking my first insomnia fighting pill (still woke up three times, doc). It's fabulous, the book not the pill. And I just finished it and had to share it with you guys.

It is a bit hard to pin down genre-wise, but in a good way. I think it leaves more room for readers outside of one genre to get attached to an author. A good thing! Maberry is known for his Pine Deep trilogy (Ghost Road Blues, Dead Man's Song, and Bad Moon Rising) and now he's attacking zombies! It's sort of zombie horror meets military suspense meets thriller. I mean there are zombies and there are terrorists who make zombies and then there's the secret government group that fights the zombies. See, the best of all the action worlds. 

Seriously though, it begins with Joe Ledger having to kill the same man twice. The first time, he's on a task force tracking terrorist movement in the states. The second time, Ledger has been brought in to talk about the first incident with a group called the Department of Military Science. Seems that after Ledger killed his man, he didn't actually die. In fact, the guy went on to wreak havoc with the others who tried to drop him for good. Ledger finally succeeds, earning himself a spot with the DMS as their new team leader. But where do the zombies come from and how do you go about fighting an enemy you can't find? It's Joe's job to try and figure that out and his team of fellow badasses are all there to help. But when it begins to look as though one of their own may be in league with their as yet unidentified nemesis, well that just pisses Joe off. 

Patient Zero is fantastic. It's everything you want in a zombie book and so much more. Horror fans will love it and everyone else will, too (well almost everyone, Nicolas Sparks fans should probably avoid it as it's not so much of a heartwarming tale as it is a skin-crawling one). This book totally hit the spot for me and I want everyone to run out and buy it when it comes out next week. 

Oh, and if you're lucky enough to be trying to get back into a shape other than jiggly, like I am (hope you can sense the sarcasm in that one) and happen to take Joe and his zombie foe to the gym with you, I can tell you right now that Guns N' Roses is the best soundtrack! Seriously, I love my gym and one of the reasons is that they play pretty much all 80's cock rock! (Sorry now if that term offends anyone.) 

Happy reading!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

New Releases 2/24/09

Some of the new titles hitting shelves this week are:

Terminal Freeze by Lincoln Child - a creature feature in the Arctic!

White Witch, Black Curse by Kim Harrison - latest in The Hollows series, puts me two books behind now

Promises in Death by JD Robb - latest installment in Nora Roberts's mystery series

Night and Day by Robert Parker - Jesse Stone book 8

Blood and Ice by Robert Masello - another Arctic thriller

The Magician's Apprentice by Trudi Canavan - prequel to the Black Magician trilogy

New on DVD: 
um, not much, but missing from last week's post
Quarantine
Dead Like Me: Life After Death

New reviews at Bookbitch.com:
Terminal Freeze
The Desert by Bryon Morrigan
Silent on the Moor by Deanna Raybourn
What Looks Like Crazy by Charlotte Hughes

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Christopher Moore!

One of my V-Day gifts for Mike was the latest Christopher Moore book, Fool. So I've not had a chance to read it yet myself, but tonight (Friday) Moore was due to sign copies at the Boulder Bookstore and Mike and I were, of course, in attendance, with book in tow.

I love Christopher Moore. Maybe not as much as Mike does, but I still love him all the same. He's hilarious in a twisted and sick sort of way. My personal fave (that I've read so far) is Dirty Job, while Mike's is Lamb (a fave of most Moore fans).

This was my second Moore signing, we saw him when he toured for You Suck, the second vampire book that was released in January of 2007 so it was time to see Moore again anyway. I highly recommend regular doses of his particular brand of humor, just to keep you on your toes. And having seen Moore before, we were prepared for the show. Moore doesn't read, at least not from his books, but tonight he did read a little something that he wrote under the influence of some Nyquil at his hotel, musings about the newly installed and must be politically correct second peephole that he so eloquently said is only good if the person on the other side is just as short (because otherwise you're looking at someone's junk). 

Moore also told the hilarious story of his time at a ceramics factory making baby Jesuses with antlers. If you ask him about it he'll probably tell you too. If you get to attend, he may even have some goodies, but you better be prepared to work for it, that's all I'm saying.

Course during the question segment the thing that was on most people's minds was whether any movies are in the works. I seem to recall this was a pretty popular topic at the last signing as well and while I, too would like to see a film, it's gotta be something Moore fields questions on every time he appears. Thing is an author really has nothing to do with whether his books are adapted. Once rights are sold its our of his hands. And the other thing is that most books are optioned, but most books are never adapted. So, who knows. We'll see. He did say that he spoke recently with someone who wants to do Stupidest Angel and that Chris Columbus has the rights to Dirty Job. Again it remains to be seen whether either will come to be. If you want to cast your vote as to who you would cast in Stupidest Angel, check out Moore's blog.

So to the book (which again I have not read) Fool is Moore's version of Shakespeare's King Lear from the jester's (or fool's) point of view (perhaps in response to our past political environment). Here's the starred review from PW:

Here's the Cliff Notes you wished you'd had for King Lear—the mad royal, his devious daughters, rhyming ghosts and a castle full of hot intrigue—in a cheeky and ribald romp that both channels and chides the Bard and all Fate's bastards. It's 1288, and the king's fool, Pocket, and his dimwit apprentice, Drool, set out to clean up the mess Lear has made of his kingdom, his family and his fortune—only to discover the truth about their own heritage. There's more murder, mayhem, mistaken identities and scene changes than you can remember, but bestselling Moore (You Suck) turns things on their head with an edgy 21st-century perspective that makes the story line as sharp, surly and slick as a game of Grand Theft Auto. Moore confesses he borrows from at least a dozen of the Bard's plays for this buffet of tragedy, comedy and medieval porn action. It's a manic, masterly mix—winning, wild and something today's groundlings will applaud.

So, buy it and love it, and go out and support Chris and you local bookstore if you have a chance to attend one of his signings. Here's the link to his tour dates, just in case. 

Friday, February 20, 2009

A Film Post

So I arranged my rental queue so that I would get How to Lose Friends and Alienate People in on Tuesday, knowing that if I missed it that day it would go into the black depths of the very long wait. I had edits to do and usually like to have some background noise, but not something that I haven't seen before, so it seemed like a bad time to watch. I managed to squeeze it in, though, and was glad that I did.

I know I've said before that I am totally gaga over Simon Pegg, so I won't go into what a fantastically hilarious portrayal he gave of the seemingly grumpy judge from Top Chef (even though it was a great portrayal at that). No, instead I will say that I have a new sort of respect for Toby Young.

Now, I know that to give a fair review of the film I should have read Toby's memoir that shares the film's name. I haven't and I'm a bit money challenged thanks to all of my other spur of the moment purchases of late (Quarantine, Midnight Meat Train, and the Dead Like Me movie), but I promise I'll show my support and buy HTLFAAP shortly, I promise. I am somewhat familiar with Young, though. If you're a Top Chef fan like I am, then you know him as well. 

Initially I thought that his being chosen as a judge was a bit odd and probably prompted by the film itself and the fact that both Anthony Bourdain and Ted Allen were otherwise occupied this season. I must admit, however, that when I saw that Young was missing from at least the first part of the finale, I was a bit sad to see him gone. His eloquent way of basically telling someone that their food sucked superbly was pretty entertaining. In fact, I waited with baited breath to hear exactly how harsh he was going to be to each contestant and felt triumph for the chefs when he complimented them instead. He was entertaining to say the least. I'm not sure if he will be back in the final episode or if he will return next season, but I rather like the man. 

Ok, back to Simon Pegg's version now. In the film, Pegg plays Toby Young, a snarky young Brit trying to beg his way into the big time (or sneak, sometimes). Then he's hired on at a big NY magazine run by a man he once idolized and it seems like things are finally looking up. No matter what he does, though, he can't seem to get ahead, at least not on his own terms. Not only that, but his attempts to make friends and be himself just come across asinine and, well, a bit asshole-ish, but in a very funny and endearing way (no doubt thanks to the fact that Pegg is a pretty endearing fellow). I know that some creative license has been taken in making the film so I can't really tell you what actually happened to Young and what was made up for film (I'll have to enlighten you all once I've had a chance to read the book). 

Overall it's a funny film (though not at all family friendly) and if you're at least a little familiar with Young, you'll get a kick out of it like I did. If you don't know who he is at all (Mike didn't), you'll still enjoy the film (it's hard not to). You'll also probably be interested in checking out his website and some of his actual articles. 

So cheers, and I hope you like the film! Btw, Young worked for Vanity Fair and the folk mentioned in the book are all by name (as far as I know) so if you're curious as to who actually suffered some of Young's misdeeds, you'll have to check out the book like me, though outside of NY society it's likely we won't know who many of them are  : )

Thursday, February 19, 2009

A little backwards

I spent a fun evening back in March of '08 reading Lisa Lutz's second Izzy Spellman mystery, and now it's time for another. Yay! I'm super excited about reading the upcoming Revenge of the Spellmans (due out March 10) that I thought I would post about the earlier books. 

Now, I've got a raging headache and am a bit stressed (after a good afternoon in which I felt very productive, sucks don't it) and remembered that I had already reviewed a Spellman book here, but stupid me, I posted about book two without ever posting about book one! Ugh.

So, here it is. If you want to go back to my musings from last march on the fantabulous Curse of the Spellmans, here it is (and it's out in paperback now, too). If you aren't familiar with this hilarious series yet, then this is the post for you. 

Straight from the BB archives, here is my review of Lisa Lutz's give-Janet-Evanovich-a-run-for-her-money (are you loving the hyphens) debut, The Spellman Files, in which we are introduced to Izzy and her wacky family of PIs:

Meet Isabel Spellman. She’s a spunky troublemaking private eye who works for her parents’ P.I. firm. The story begins with Izzy being interrogated in regards to her young sister Rae’s disappearance. What follows is a hilarious chronicle of Izzy Spellman’s life leading up to the event in question. As a child and young adult, Izzy tormented her parents. She keeps an exhaustive list of all the “crimes” she got away with and a list of “interrogations” held in her parents’ basement for crimes she is suspected of having committed. She also keeps a running list of all ex-boyfriends, the most recent of which has led Izzy to the decision that she must leave the family business and try to live a “normal” life. Unfortunately for Izzy, her parents are not willing to let her go without a fight. Before they will agree to let her go with a reference that will allow her to gain employment elsewhere (and move out of their house) Izzy’s parents force her to work one last case – a twelve-year-old missing persons case that they hope will convince their daughter to stay. It is at this point in the story that fourteen-year-old Rae goes missing. Hilarity ensues as this quirky and dysfunctional family reluctantly pulls together to find its youngest member. Anyone who loves Janet Evanovich has to try Lisa Lutz.

This series is great if you really are looking for something to get your mind off of things. Izzy and her family are the ultimate in somewhat functioning dysfunction and the truly make for some of the best reading there is. I promise you, Lisa Lutz will definitely hit the spot for you if you're a fan of the Stephanie Plum books like I am. 

Now, I'm off to finish my Antarctic thriller (more on that later) and take some headache meds and try not to stress out too much before I can jump into Revenge of the Spellmans. Oh, and now that both Spellman Files and Curse of the Spellmans are out in paperback, do yourself a favor and splurge on them both, you'll laugh your ass off and love it!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Dan Simmons Signing

So last night (Monday) I dragged Mike over to the Colfax Ave Tattered Cover for the Dan Simmons signing. I love going to author signings, but I haven't been to as many as I would like because I don't always have someone to go along with me. There are not a lot of things that I really like to do all by my lonesome and this is not really one of them. So I was super excited that a. an author I like and respect was coming to town and b. that my boyfriend who has yet to read Simmons agreed to go with me simply because I asked. And you know what, Mike enjoyed himself quite a bit. He says that whenever an author is a good speaker, it doesn't matter if he isn't familiar with their work because it's interesting to hear them speak regardless. 

And now to the event! If you didn't know, Simmons is touring to promote his latest release, Drood, a story of Charles Dickens's final years. So what better a topic to begin with than his inspiration for the book itself, Charles Dickens. The book begins with an event that forever changed Dickens's life, a train crash that occurred just outside of Staplehurst. Though Dickens was uninjured, the event seemingly traumatized the man. Add to that the unfinished final novel, The Mystery of Edwin Drood and Dickens's behavior after the incident and you've got the makings of a really interesting tale. And that's what Simmons has done. Using fellow literary man Wilkie Collins as the narrator, Simmons has weaved a chilling and horrific tale of mystery and intrigue around the actual historical events of Dickens's time from the accident until his death. 

Simmons laid all of this out in his introduction to the book and then proceeded to read a short excerpt in which Collins himself resorts to some quite nefarious actions to save his own skin, or dignity as it may be. He followed with a brief question segment in which the only question was in regards to Simmons's personal feelings regarding the attempts to finish The Mystery of Edwin Drood and then he got on to the signing itself. 

There were a ton of people there. I brought my copies of Drood and Song of Kali to be signed (I restrained myself from bringing the whole collection). When it was my turn, Simmons jokingly asked if I had read Kali and said he was planning a trip to Calcutta for fans. I told him that although I loved the book and would happily read anything else like it that he produces, he has not sold me on Calcutta as a tourist destination, which of course earned some laughs on both our parts (now Mike has to read it so that he'll understand). Simmons also commented that although there has been interest in the past in a Kali adaptation for the big screen, there is someone currently interested who may be up to the challenge. I'm not sure if I can really see it as a film, but done well it should be as fantastically shocking as the book itself. 

Apparently, Carrion Comfort is set to be reprinted (I really didn't think it would stay out of print for long) and I'll definitely have to get a nice, crisp, new copy when it is. He also said that there is a French option for that particular book as well so, who knows, maybe a French flick about mind vamps is in the works. 

And finally, Simmons did reveal that he is working on a new book, one of more average length than Drood and Terror (but he didn't neglect to point out the great value you get in paying the same price for a 200 pager as you do for an 800 page whopper) but no word on the subject matter just yet. I can't wait. If you know Simmons's work, then you know that he's really all over the place. He has written award-winning sci-fi, horror, mystery, and now historicals, so there's really no telling what is up his sleeve this time. All I know is that it's pretty much a guarantee that it will be fabulous. 

So, here again is the list of tour stops for Drood. If you have a chance to make one, I suggest you do. It's a great way to show your support of a great author, the publishing industry, and whatever store is hosting the event. 

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

So for Valentine's Day, Mike and I had planned to head into Denver and eat at a little Cuban cafe for dinner. Unfortunately, the restaurant was first come first serve as far as tables went and we were not the only ones in the mood for Cuban that evening. Oh well, we'll just have to head over there for Denver Restaurant Week instead. 

So, it's 6pm, V-day, and we've got no reservations nor are we all that familiar with Denver dining options (other than Steubens, yum), and we wanted to go someplace a little different, someplace we don't normally go. We ended up at Palaih Casablanca, a Moroccan restaurant not unlike our beloved and sorely missed Maatam Fez (there's one in Denver as well). Anyway, the food was fantastic as expected and the evening was pretty perfect. 

If you haven't been to a Moroccan restaurant, all of the ones I have been to are pretty similar. You have a set 5 course dinner that begins with Harira (traditional chickpea and lentil soup) with honey wheat bread (because you eat everything with your hands, fun!), assorted Moroccan salads (typically one eggplant salad, aka zalouk, a carrot salad, marinated beets, and a few others, I've had whole chickpeas, a potato salad, tomatoes with peppers, and tomatoes with cucumbers). Then you get a b'stilla, a pastry made of chicken, eggs, and almonds and wrapped in phyllo sprinkled with powdered sugar. For your fourth course, you can choose from a variety of tagines - mine that night was the chicken with artichoke and olive while Mike had lamb with pears. And the last course is dessert served with traditional green mint tea sweetened with honey. 

Now, to the purpose of my post (some Denver restaurant info but also some book info), I have in my well-stocked kitchen an implement called a tagine. It's wonderful. It's a clay, cone-shaped cook pot that you can use on the stove top or in the oven. It's something my dad (also a lover of international cuisine) purchased for me a few years back and I have yet to use. But then I got Arabesque by Claudia Roden. It's a gorgeous cookbook filled with recipes from Morocco, Turkey, and Lebanon. It does require some special ingredients, but I find that most of them are becoming more readily available (I was having trouble finding preserved lemons without having to make them for myself, and I have found them recently at Whole Foods as well as my favorite spice shop, Savory Spice Shop - they ship). 

Most of the dishes that we've had at the restaurants are in this book. On top of that, there's the added bonus of both Lebanese and Turkish recipes as well. I used to frequent a Lebanese place back home when I was in college and miss the food very much. 

So, if you're a foodie with a taste for the exotic (there's nothing strange in this cookbook if that's what you're worried about), I would urge you to seek out this book (or others like it) and attempt to make your own Moroccan (or Turkish or Lebanese) feast at home. I have to tell you that I've been trying to get more veggies into our meals (we're big on the carbs being from Louisiana) and Moroccan salads are some of the tastiest I have ever had (don't think traditional green salad either, they're more like spreads or accompaniments for bread, packed with yummy spices and veggies). With some whole wheat pita bread and olives, I'm in heaven!

Arabesque is food porn at its best, too, as there are pics of most of the recipes. Enough to make your mouth water and let you know that you're recipe is turning out right!

Monday, February 16, 2009

Event Announcements

If you live in the Boulder/Denver area, there are a couple of big author events that I wanted to let you know about.

First up is Dan Simmons! Yay! He'll be starting his Drood tour this evening (Feb 16) at the Tattered Cover on Colfax at 7:30. For other tour dates, visit this link.

And Christopher Moore will be hitting up both Boulder and Denver on his Fool tour. He'll be at the LoDo TC on the 19th at 7:30 and at the Boulder Bookstore on the 20th at 7:30 as well. And here's the link for the rest of the Fool tour stops.  

I'll try to bring my camera and post something about both events asap. 


Oh, such happy news!

So I started reading the new Deanna Raybourn this weekend. I can't help it. I normally wait until the week before the book is due out so that my review is up just in time for shoppers to see it and run out and get it (wouldn't want anyone to read about it, think it's great, and then forget because it's two months away!). It's really only a few weeks out and I'm actually quite certain that folks will probably be able to find it as early as next week. 

If you've not read Raybourn's fantastic series, I highly recommend them! I've posted about book one here on the blog, here's a link, and I guess it's time to post about book two. I mean I wouldn't want to give you 1 and then 3 with no 2, right?

So, straight from the BB archives, here's my review for Deanna Raybourn's fantabulous second installment to the Julia Grey series, Silent in the Sanctuary

In the second mystery to feature Lady Julia Grey, our heroine and two of her brothers have been having a rather extended holiday in Italy following the events surrounding the death of Julia’s husband. Their vacation is cut short when the family patriarch summons them home for Christmas. Apparently, the elder March became quite angered upon learning that one of his sons had gotten married while on vacation. The three siblings, plus one new daughter-in-law and a second Italian guest, soon arrive home at the family abode – a converted abbey that is now overcome with visitors in preparation of the Christmas holiday. Amongst the guests are two of Julia’s cousins, one of who is to be married shortly in the abbey chapel. Also visiting is the nefarious and dashing Nicholas Brisbane, also with a fianc√© in tow. Julia tries to act like this revelation is no concern of hers, but in truth, she is quite hurt by this news. Her own feelings are soon set aside when a body is discovered in the chapel and she and Brisbane are set in charge of the investigation. Once again, the two are working together to solve a mystery, this time in hopes of proving the innocence of one of Julia’s own family members. Raybourn’s remarkably addictive Victorian mysteries are a true delight. Julia and the rest of the Marches are charmingly quirky and the plots are both witty and fun.

These books are like candy! I just eat them up and the next cannot come out fast enough for me! And that brings me to the happy news. Originally, at least by the promotional material I had received early on, it seemed that this was to be just a trilogy. I did, bad me, skip to the end of the book to see if it ended with that same phrase that led to the others and it does! And so, directly from Deanna's own blog to confirm my happy suspicions that this is not the last of Brisbane and Julia

"And a quick note: I have run across a few mentions on the interwebs lately about Silent on the Moor being the last Julia Grey book. I don't know where that particular bit of misinformation hatched from, but I can promise you, it is NOT. The book I'm working on now is outside of the series, but by this summer I will be hard at work on the fourth Julia Grey. Spread the word!"

So here I am, spreading the word. Yay! I'm so excited. And now I have to run back and finish Moor because I am dying to know what happens.

Oh, readers looking for a great Victorian mystery with a little romance will LOVE these books. I promise, you will!

Sunday, February 15, 2009

New Releases 2/17/09

Some of the new titles hitting shelves this week are:

Everyone is Beautiful by Katherine Center - a great read about learning to see yourself and the others around you for who they really are, and loving them for it

The Manual of Detection by Jedediah Berry - a strange mystery in the vein of Jonathan Barnes' Somnambulist

Posed for Murder by Meredith Cole - a light debut mystery that's a quick and entertaining read

Precious by Sandra Novack - a dramatic debut that begins with the disappearance of a child

Hangman Blind by Cassandra Clark - a 14th century mystery

Lost City of Z by David Grann - an adventure narrative about the search for the ancient Amazon city and El Dorado

All the Colors of Darkness by Peter Robinson - latest Inspector Banks mystery

New on DVD:
How to Lose Friends and Alienate People
Quarantine
Body of Lies 
Changeling

New reviews at Bookbitch.com:
Everyone is Beautiful
The Manual of Detection
Posed for Murder




Friday, February 13, 2009

One of my favorite imports

I'm in love with Simon Pegg. I am. I can't help it. I have been ever since I saw Shaun of the Dead

For Christmas I bought Mike Spaced, the tv show written by Pegg and Jessica Hynes (she's got a cameo in Shaun). The show is about two twenty-somethings who meet while apartment hunting. They decide to go in together for a flat that's advertised for a "professional couple." Of course, hilarity ensues thanks to their pretend relationship and other events. 

I love it. We're just into the second season (disc two of the set) and it's one of the best shows ever! Nick Frost also stars (Pegg's partner in crime from both Shaun and  Hot Fuzz). Others in the show include Julia Deaken as their crazy landlady and Mark Heap as the crazy artist downstairs. 

If you're a Pegg fan like I am, this show is an absolute must-see. Do what ever you have to do to get your grubby hands on it, it's well worth it. 

Next up on the Simon Pegg horizon is the release of How to Lose Friends and Alienate People, due out on dvd on Tues. I find Pegg's own stuff much funnier, but I'm still looking forward to his portrayal of Toby Young (now a judge on Top Chef). And then in May, Pegg will be starring in JJ Abrams' Star Trek, as Scotty (I can't wait!). Of course there's also the third film that goes along with Shaun and Hot Fuzz, and that's a buddy/road trip flick written by Pegg and Frost, called Paul (according to IMDB that is). There's also another film rumored to be in the making, written by Pegg and Edgar Wright (co-writer of Shaun and Fuzz). So yeah, lots for me to look forward to. 

In other humor news, but still related, Wright is also rumored to be directing a film based on one of Jon Ronson's works. Ronson is the author of The Men Who Stared at Goats, a book about supposed secret government experiments in paranormal studies, the film version of which is currently under production and stars George Clooney and Ewan MacGregor (to name a few). I've read some of Ronson's essays and he's pretty freaking funny, and if you can't tell, I'm kind of picky as far as humor goes. I'm not sure if Men will be a serious film or a humorous one, but I thought you guys might find it interesting. For more on Jon Ronson, visit his site here. And if you need something to do this weekend after your v-day festivities, you can rent Run Fat Boy, Run (I just watched it last weekend and thought it was super cute).

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

My Kind of Eye Candy

So I was searching through the internet looking for upcoming books to keep on my radar when I happened to see that Sue Grafton's latest Kinsey Millhone book is due out this December. Sure it's pretty far away, but I can't freaking wait! 

I started reading the series when I was a senior in high school. My ex's mom had most of the paperbacks, one of the few collections she held onto because she usually brought her books to the nursing home. She had suggested them to me, but I was pretty notorious at the time for not really taking recommendations. I was more of a hunt and peck and find on my own kind of gal at the time (still am but now happily accept recs thanks to dwindling stock at stores). 

I read A is for Alibi between midnight and 2 am and was interested enough to move on to the next one. It was C is for Corpse that really hooked me though. My third night into the series and I was desperate for more. I continued like this for a few weeks, literally racing through the series, reading each one in the wee hours of the morning when I was supposed to be getting much needed rest for brain function in high school (yeah, sure) and reading around my 3-4 nights a week waitressing at the local country club. 

And then I ran out. I had caught up with the author. What was I going to do? Wait like everyone else. And so I did. In the meantime, my grandmother (inherited the reading bug from her) bought me the whole series so that I had them all for myself. She still buys each new one for me. 

Grafton's last book, T is for Trespass, hit shelves in '07 when I was still at the temp agency. I remember sitting in my car reading it on my lunch break. Can you tell how much I adore this series?

If my sheer gleefulness as the prospect of having a new one in my hands in just ten months is not enough to get you curious, here's some info on the series:

  • Grafton began writing A after her divorce when all she could think about were all the different ways she would kill her ex.  
  • The first book was published in 1983
  • Because the books take place in close sequence, Kinsey is still stuck in the 80s
  • Which requires strict research on Grafton's part
  • I have tried Kinsey's signature pb and pickle sandwich and it's yummy
  • I am also a fan of the QP with cheese that she's always eating
  • At one point in time it was rumored that when Grafton hit Z, it would be 1990 
  • And that Z would be titled Z is for Zero so that she could continue with numbers
  • As far as I know, this labor of love for Grafton will not continue with numbers anymore seeing as how she's been at it for over 30 years and still has 5 titles to go.
Is your curiosity piqued yet? Are you gonna run out and start one of the best PI mystery series that ever existed? I suggest you purchase one of the collections as the early books really are like little tasty, chocolate covered cherries (yes, I have a craving for them with v-day so close), before you know it they're all gone! And do stick it out through at least C. For me that was really the one that got me started on this addiction. A and B are great, don't get me wrong, but C was the clincher. 

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

I'm in the mood for

...something different. Actually, I know exactly what I'm in the mood for but unfortunately will have to wait another month to get it. Last year I posted a review for Gordon Dahlquist's fabulous debut, Glass Books of the Dream Eaters. The book was released August 1, 2006, and it's taken this long for the second title to come out. I've been waiting in anticipation for ages, you see!

Anyway, because I know that The Dark Volume is going to be just as amazing and strange as the debut, and because I know that anyone who has not read Glass Books will be completely confused if they start with book two, this is my last ditch attempt to get you all to run out and buy Glass Books before The Dark Volume hits shelves on March 24. 

I've not been able to snag an early copy of this Dark Volume, so here's some info from Amazon.com:

Gordon Dahlquist transfixed readers across the world with his dazzling literary debut, the epic Victorian tale The Glass Books of the Dream Eaters. Now the internationally bestselling author continues an adventure like no other, featuring three heroes you will never forget.

Awakening from a fevered delirium, Celeste Temple finds herself in a fishing village on the remote Iron Coast. She has no idea where her companions, Cardinal Chang and Doctor Svenson, might be—nor whether any of her enemies survived the dirigible crash that marked her last conscious moment. And while her body seems intact, she cannot say the same for her mind. For she must contend not only with the possibility that peril awaits her but with the memory of her traitorous fianc√©’s murder at sea…along with thousands of other memories that now live within her—courtesy of a bewitching glass book. 

Hunted by murderous opportunists and cruel mercenaries of every kind, Miss Temple, Chang, and the Doctor are soon propelled into a quest that will draw them one by one into a realm of reckless, lawless terror. At every turn lies another enigma—and the stench of indigo clay, the raw material used to enslave even the most steadfast soul. Now they alone stand in the path of a diabolical conspiracy involving the books—one that will mean an alarming new world where once-free-roaming minds are wiped completely clean… if they live long enough. As Miss Temple, Cardinal Chang and Dr. Svenson uncover the devilish schemes of their deadly enemies, the terrifying secrets contained in 
The Dark Volume will be revealed one by one. For the blue glass is more lethal than they’d ever imagined—and those who possess it, as well as those who pursue it, are playing with fire.

Pulsing with electrifying suspense, this uniquely thrilling feat of the imagination will grip readers in its dark thrall long after the final page is devoured.


Everything will be put on hold when this book hits shelves. I'm going to have to get it that day and I swear like Marina with her Harry Potters, I won't be doing anything but reading! I was sick as a dog when I read the first one and it was totally odd and wonderful. I expect nothing less from this sequel and want everyone to experience it for themselves! And I will surely keep you posted as I will definitely be reviewing this title once I have had a chance to get my grubby little hands on it. 

Monday, February 9, 2009

So I Happened to Notice...

that one of my favorite books is being released in e-book format very soon. Not that I read e-books or anything (I have no e-reader and don't want to sit in front of my computer for that long, plus, I read in the tub and I'm thinking an expensive e-reader + water = bad things). 

But, it did remind me that I've never posted here about it. Bad me! You know I read just about anything, but most of my reads have some sort of mysterious element to them. This book is no exception, although to look at it you might not initially see the multiple layers. And that's one of the things that makes it such a fabulous read. I also have to admit that upon initially starting the book, I had some reservations. In just a few pages, however, the author and her tale completely won me over and I am so glad for it. 

The fantastic, wonderful, amazing book (well you've already seen the pic so you know) is And She Was by Cindy Dyson. I've been waiting for ages for Dyson to release something new, but alas it has not happened. That's ok, though, because I can introduce all of you to And She Was! The title comes from the song of the same name by the Talking Heads, just fyi. 

Anyway, still trying to get over my mad cold, but I'm with it enough to remember to post some actual info on the book before my mind leaves on vacation. So, with that little nugget, here's my review from the Bookbitch archives:

This is a fantastic debut set in the Aleutian Islands in the mid 1980's. When Brandy follows her boyfriend to this remote setting, she is left to her own devices as he ships off to sea on a fishing trawler. She manages to find work at one of the toughest bars in the world. Here, one of her favorite pastimes - collecting bathroom graffiti - causes her to get embroiled in a mystery of sorts that spans generations. Paralleling Brandy's tale is that of three women and their female ancestors. In the 1700's when explorers discover these remote islands, the men of the Aleutian society leave to protect their homes against the invaders. While the men are off fighting, the women and children are forced to fend for themselves. As hunting is a men's task and all the men are gone, food is becoming scarce. Three women are forced to take matters into their own hands and in doing so they leave themselves open to being banished from their society. This is a story of self discovery and growth as well as one that gives insight to cultural differences and taboos. And She Was is a truly amazing read that I cannot recommend highly enough. Dyson's writing is impeccable and the story will appeal to a very broad audience. 

So run out and buy it, order it if you have to (it's well worth it) and tell me if you don't absolutely love it. I put this in my Joanne Harris category. I think if you like Harris (Chocolat) then you should like Dyson. I would also suggest that if you belong to a book club that has the tendency to read the same things every other book club is reading, suggest this title for something a little bit different!

Sunday, February 8, 2009

New Releases 2/10/09

Some of the new titles hitting shelves this week are:

Fool by Christopher Moore - Moore's take on Shakespeare's King Lear will no doubt be as hilarious as his other works. I'm looking forward to it. 

Drood by Dan Simmons - a literary thriller about Charles Dickens

Lethal Legacy by Linda Fairstein - latest in her Alexandra Cooper series

The Silent Man by Alex Berenson 

The Renegades by T. Jefferson Parker

New on DVD:
Miracle at St. Anna
My Name is Bruce
W.
Nights in Rodanthe
Soul Men

New reviews at Bookbitch.com:
Bloodprint by Kitty Sewell
Captain Freedom by G. Xavier Robillard
Brethren by Robyn Young
Ever by Alyson Noel

Sunday, February 1, 2009

New Releases 2/3/09

Some of the new titles hitting shelves this week are:

Addition by Toni Jordan - a funny and sweet story about one woman and her obsessive compulsive disorder (not a downer at all, but a really good read)

Bones of Betrayal by Jefferson Bass - fourth collaborative fiction work by Bill Bass and Jon Jefferson (in the Body Farm series). Great plot, great mystery, great read!

Bloodprint by Kitty Sewell - another fantastic psychological suspense from the author of Ice Trap.

Captain Freedom by Gregory Xavier Robillard - a hilarious debut. Witty and sarcastic and unputdownable. Great for readers who live Christopher Moore

The Vagrants by Yiyun Lee - dramatic debut fiction about China in the 1970s

New on DVD:
Nick and Nora's Infinite Playlist
Zack and Miri Make a Porno
Secret Life of Bees

New reviews at Bookbitch.com:
Bones of Betrayal
Addition
Mark of the Devil by William Kerr
Blood Blade by Marcus Pelegrimas

IOUs

So I know I've been slacking and I owe you guys some blogs. I'll have to make this fairly quick or else I fear my diminished mental capacity will become all to obvious. (No I've not been drinking.) 

So Mike came home from Sundance bearing gifts in the form of 25th anniversary tees and rhinovirus, the viral gift that keeps on giving. And since I've been working from home for exactly one year now, not being exposed to any kind of illness over the course of those 12 months, I guess our little congestive friend decided it was my turn. 

I am surprisingly not all that sick just yet. I have a feeling it's only going to get worse, though, since I usually suffer from record-breaking months-long extended visits from the rhino. The congestion's not all that bad, but my energy level is about nil. I stupidly decided to use the little bit I had yesterday to clean the kitchen. Today I managed to scrape in multiple hours of less productive work (I say that because if I weren't sick, the work would have taken about half as long as it did). I'm just too darn busy to get sick right now. 

Anyway, short and sweet since my Nyquil might be kicking in any time now and just correcting a typo is exhausting me (I'm no fun when I'm sick). I'm trying to work my way through the behemoth that is Drood. Normally not all that much of a chore, but for once the weight of the book is getting me down. Damn being sick. It should inspire some pretty nifty Nyquil dreams, though ; )

I also started reading Inkheart in case Drood becomes more than my head can handle seeing as how it is consumed by a warring immune system and those mucus monsters from the Mucinex commercials. 

I'll keep ya'll posted. Now I'm going cuddle up with Drood and wait for Masterpiece Classics to come on (if I can stay awake that long). Happy Superbowl Sunday everyone!