Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Lona Chang by Ashleyrose Sullivan

Happy Tuesday, everyone! Today I'm a stop on the TLC blog tour for Ashelyrose Sullivan's Lona Chang: A Superhero Detective Story.

Lona Chang and Awesome Jones are good. They're to be married, Awesome has taken on the mantle of his father - even though the Guild says he's not allowed, and Lona herself has come into a power she's just beginning to learn about. But all that changes when a good friend and fellow superhero dies in Lona's arms. His death shakes Arc City to its core, but none are more affected than Lona herself. Andy's cryptic final words, the strange circumstances of his death, and an odd book with seemingly hidden clues are more than enough to force her to investigate. And what she finds could mean bad news for all of Arc City. 

Lona Chang is a cute idea - a story told in comic book style complete with bold faced lead ins like you'd see in a comic panel. There are even comic panels throughout the book. Of course, it's also a story about superheroes, which is always fun. And it's got within the story as Lona takes her investigation further and finds more clues in different books.

And the story is fun. A murder mystery, flashbacks to a story that began some years ago, and even Lona and Awesome's relationships with one another and their friends all make this an entertaining read. And yet, the execution wasn't as polished as I would have liked.

I found myself a bit confused by the progress of the book from the start, rereading sections in order to try and get a grasp on what was happening. I often felt, too, like more effort was put into the mystery than the characters themselves - I wanted to spend less time in the pages of the books Lona was reading, for example, and more time with Lona herself.

Lona Chang is the second book in the series, following Awesome Jones: A Superhero Fairy Tale. Character development aside, Lona Chang can be read as the starting point quite easily. I say character development aside because I assume there's maybe more emphasis on their development in that first outing. And yet, it doesn't mean it's not needed in the second.

Lona Chang is a great concept and a fun afternoon read, but I found wanted more depth overall.

To see more stops on the tour be sure to check out the official TLC tour page here. And for more on Ashleyrose Sullivan and her work you can visit her website here.

Purchase Links: Amazon

Sunday, October 15, 2017

New Releases 10/17/17

Some of the new titles hitting shelves this week are:

The Last Mrs. Parrish by Live Constantine

House of Shadows by Nicola Cornick

Start Without Me by Joshua Max Feldman

Seven Days of Us by Francesca Hornok

Forbidden Suns by D. Nolan Clark

Righteous by Joe Ide

Uncommon Type: Some Stories by Tom Hanks

Twelve Dogs of Christmas by David Rosenfelt

Deep Freeze by John Sandford

Tell Me No Lies by Lisa Hall

The Floating World by C. Morgan Babst

It Devours! by Joseph Fink & Jeffrey Cranor

The Book of Dust by Philip Pullman

Strange Lies by Maggie Thrash

The Sidekicks by Will Kostakis

Dear Martin by Nic Stone

A Line in the Dark by Malinda Lo

I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter by Erika L. Sánchez

A Skinful of Shadows by Frances Hardinge

Like Water by Rebecca Podos

The Midnight Dance by Nikki Katz

New on DVD:
Spiderman: Homecoming
Girls Trip

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Pre Pub Book Buzz: The Silent Companions by Laura Purcell

Browsing is, I think, the best part of being in a bookstore. And online avenues have created a new sort of browsing. I was scrolling through Edelweiss recently and came across Laura Purcell's upcoming title and now I can't wait to read it!

Edelweiss is kind of great for discovering upcoming titles, if you didn't know. You can browse publishers' catalogs, you can see comp titles, all kinds of fun stuff. And as a book junkie who not only loves to wander the spines of bookstores' collections, I very much like to stay in the know about what I need to buy down the line as well.

And this one, readers, is one I definitely need to buy!

Here's a bit about the book from Goodreads:

When Elsie married handsome young heir Rupert Bainbridge, she believed she was destined for a life of luxury. But with her husband dead just weeks after their marriage, her new servants resentful, and the local villagers actively hostile, Elsie has only her husband's awkward cousin for company. Or so she thinks. Inside her new home lies a locked door, beyond which is a painted wooden figure--a silent companion--that bears a striking resemblance to Elsie herself. The residents of The Bridge are terrified of the figure, but Elsie tries to shrug this off as simple superstition--that is, until she notices the figure's eyes following her.

A Victorian ghost story that evokes a most unsettling kind of fear, this is a tale that creeps its way through the consciousness in ways you least expect--much like the silent companions themselves.

This is not Purcell's debut, but it is the first of her books to be released here in the States and it's said to be a great one for fans of Shirley Jackson!

The Silent Companions is due out in March from Penguin. 

Friday, October 13, 2017

Short Fiction Friday: The Murders of Molly Southbourne by Tade Thompson

Molly Southbourne has to be careful. Any drop of blood has to be quickly taken care of, or it'll turn into another Molly - intent on murder. Yes, since she was a little girl, Molly has been killing herself over and over and over. But with strict care and attention, and the help of her parents, Molly has made it to adulthood still living and breathing. 

But that doesn't mean she's safe. In fact, as she grows older things only become more dangerous. 

Sooo this one wasn't a big hit for me. It should have been. Everything about the premise promised it would be. But something about Thompson's style just didn't click for me. Instead of being strange and mysterious, it was just plain hard to follow.

Molly bleeds and her blood becomes another Molly. Not a baby Molly, but another Molly exactly the same age and appearance as the Molly that bleeds. And yes, the doppelgängers appear from any Molly's blood, hence the care and attention it takes not only in getting rid of Molly's blood but in getting rid of other Mollys.

The story begins with Molly chained up, visited by at least one other Molly who narrates the story. And of course, without context the reader is immediately asking, which Molly is which?

The bigger questions, for me, are why do the Mollys all want to kill and why does Molly have this strange ability in the first place? (Because I have control issues and apparently can't always follow a story where it leads my - just going with the flow!)

Molly's backstory is never quite revealed to my satisfaction. It's more a read between the lines story than anything. Yes, there's some detail given about her mother and about what led to Molly's problem, but I wanted more. (See, control issues.)

I've gotten better over the years with less explanation in stories. As a teen, I'd have had a much stronger reaction to the pieces of the story that are left out. As an adult, I accept it as an interesting read, but admit I still crave more answers in order to be thoroughly satisfied.

The Murders of Molly Southbourne is being adapted as a movie and I'll be interested to see how it turns out. I'd also be interested in reading more should Thompson revisit this story in some way down the line, so clearly I didn't dislike it. I just want loose ends tied up. Control.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Odd Child Out by Gilly Macmillan

It's Thursday, everyone! Today I'm a stop on the TLC blog tour for Gilly Macmillan's latest, Odd Child Out.

Two boys - best friends - but then one ends up hospitalized after an accident that may be more than that. 

DI Jim Clemo is just back on duty after mandatory leave and therapy thanks to a very public breakdown. His boss, and everyone besides, thinks this is a straightforward accident that'll be open and shut. Unfortunately, the case is much more complicated than it seems. An eyewitness claims to have seen the boys fighting, but by all accounts Noah and Abdi never fight. With Noah in a coma, though, and Abdi silent, the police don't have much to go on. And then the public gets wind of the case. 

I've not read Gilly Macmillan's What She Knew, so this is my first meeting with Jim Clemo. And yet, this second outing does stand well enough on its own that it made for a great introduction.

Jim is the kind of cop who gets over involved in his cases. Which is why he's good at his job, but also why he suffered a breakdown before the events of Odd Child Out take place. From the start, though, I could tell that it was beneficial, not just for him but for Abdi. There's a line in the book when Jim is interviewing Abdi for the first time, or trying to, and he says his own father would have taken the boy into the station.

Abdi and his family are refugees from Somalia. It's an area Noah's father actually knows well as he's spent time there photographing the very camp Abdi's family once lived in. And this detail - Abdi's background, that is - is part of what makes the book such an emotional read. From page one it's obvious this is not going to help Abdi. Comments that seem to be in passing - a tut tut from a fellow bus passenger that Abdi's sister overhears, yelled slurs at the hospital when Abdi's parents arrive to pick him up - make it clear (even if you've been living under a rock) what kind of backlash there will inevitably be. And it doesn't make Jim's job any easier.

As I mentioned, Odd Child Out is an emotional read. Chapters alternate between multiple characters, including Noah himself while he's in his coma. Normally a mystery will draw anger and sympathy from me as a reader, but this one got to me much deeper than that. I don't want to give anything away, but Macmillan does a fantastic job at tugging at your heartstrings while also giving the reader a great mystery. Be prepared!

To see more stops on the tour be sure to check out the official TLC tour page here.

For more on Gilly Macmillan you can visit her website here. You can also like her on Facebook and follow her on Twitter.

Purchase Links: HarperCollins | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Hide and Seek by MJ Arlidge

Happy Book Birthday to MJ Arlidge whose latest Helen Grace mystery hits shelves today!

After being framed for a series of murders, Helen Grace has been sent to Halloway to await trial. The prison is on its last legs, set to be closed by the end of the year and understaffed as a result. Helen, a cop responsible for a fair number of the women housed there, certainly hasn't made any friends. It's just a matter of keeping her head down and waiting for trial - or to be proven innocent. As far as the latter, she has help on the outside, but most of her former colleagues have turned against her in the wake of her arrest. 

Then an inmate in the cell next to Helen's is brutally murdered. While locked up for the night. Helen heard nothing, but can't help investigate. And as more bodies pile up, it becomes clear time is running out: not only must she find a way to clear her name, she now has to survive Halloway, too!

If dark and twisty is to your taste (as it definitely is mine), this is a series you really don't want to miss. And I can personally attest to the fact that you can dive into this one without having read the five predecessors - I missed book five, Little Boy Blue. Much to my shame! Though there are spoilers for Blue in Hide and Seek, I plan to go back and read that one very shortly. I love this series!

Helen is hard as nails, but she has a hidden side. This is something we know from previous outings and is reiterated here in Hide and Seek. That facade and the fact that she lets very few people in is exactly what's left her now at the mercy of the prison system and the courts. She's been framed for murder. By her own nephew. And only one cop on the outside is pursuing the case from that angle. Everyone else has apparently washed their hands of Helen in spite of the years she's spent on the police force and the accomplishments she's made there.

Which sucks.

As a reader who's taken the time to get to know Helen through much of the series, it really sucks to see her in this situation. And yet, she's Helen Grace! And of course when inmates start getting murdered in their own locked cells she's going to investigate!

Arlidge's plots are complex and, as mentioned, quite twisted. But they're also oh so fabulously put together. And again, you can dive into this one straight away, but if you want to start from the beginning, you'll see that Helen's (and the department's) growth from each installment to the next is fabulously thought out. I can't wait for the next installment!

Here's the series list in order, if you're interested:
Eeeny Meeny
Pop Goes the Weasel
The Doll's House
Liar Liar
Little Boy Blue
Hide and Seek
Love Me Not (2018)

Monday, October 9, 2017

Last Christmas in Paris by Hazel Gaynor & Heather Webb + a Giveaway

Good morning, readers! Today I'm a stop on the TLC blog tour for Last Christmas in Paris by Hazel Gaynor and Heather Webb.

When Thomas and her brother, Will, went off to war, Evie Elliott promised to write. And write she did. Taking up residence at Will's writing desk, she kept them abreast of everything going down on the home front while they, sometimes in the case of Will, wrote to her of their experiences on the actual front. 

It was a war everyone expected to be over by Christmas, and yet it dragged mercilessly on and on. And throughout, Thomas and Evie kept up their correspondence. Decades later, Thomas is ready to rerun to Paris. Along the way, he reminisces over his letters, saving one final one for Christmas Eve.

Christmas in Paris is a (mostly) epistolary novel set within he framework of Thomas's trip in 1968. And while it might sound as though the letters that make up the tale are only between Evie and Thomas, that's not the case at all. There are letters between Evie and her friend Alice, letters between Thomas and his father, letters between Evie and Will, and telegrams and letters from and to others besides.

Through them, we see the evolution of each character through the most horrible of circumstances: war. They begin bright eyed and excited, ready to take on the world and defeat the enemy. But it doesn't take long for reality to set in. Evie, who can't go to the front, fights the only way she can: with her pen and her words. Thomas fights to gain his father's approval and to defend his country and others, but never expected it to be as brutal as it inevitably is revealed to be. Fortunately, through it all, they have one another to turn to.

Apparently the idea for this book came out of the anthology Fall of Poppies, edited by Heather Webb.  According to the authors' note, they wanted to tell more stories set in WWI. You can read the note yourself, but I find it fascinating to see how the idea for this came together. Two writer friends with a passion for history, emailed discussions back and forth, and an idea is born and brought to fruition!

And WWI is a fascinating time. The kind of battles fought were indeed different from those before with effects no one dreamed about. A virtual generation of men was lost. And the massive nature of the war caused huge social change as well. Women back home had to take on the roles left behind by men, roles that were then taken from them when the men returned. Both Evie and Thomas illustrate these issues and changes throughout the book.

Last Christmas in Paris works seamlessly and the fact that the authors were able to create such a great story while also giving ample life and breath to their characters through letters is fantastic! Definitely recommended for any fan of historical fiction!

Oh, and if you're like me and feel like reading Christmas books when it's not Christmas is just weird, this isn't really a Christmas book. Fair warning, though, it is a bit of a tearjerker!

And now for the giveaway! I've got one copy to give away to one of you lucky readers. To enter, simply fill out the Rafflecopter below before Monday, October 23. Open US only.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

To see more stops on the tour be sure to check out the official TLC tour page here.

For more on Hazel Gaynor and her work you can visit her website here. You can also like her on Facebook and follow her on Twitter.

For more on Heather Webb and her work you can visit her website here. You can also like her on Facebook and follow her on Twitter.

Purchase Links: HarperCollins | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Sunday, October 8, 2017

New Releases 10/10/17

Some of the new titles hitting shelves this week are:

A Long Day in Lychford by Paul Cornell

The Power by Naomi Alderman

The Rules of Magic by Alice Hoffman

Christmas at Little Beach Street Bakery by Jenny Colgan

I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith (new edition)

Mirror, Mirror by Cara Delevingne

Never Coming Back by Alison McGhee

The Breathless by Tara Goedjen

This Darkness Mine by Mindy McGinnis

All the Crooked Saints by Maggie Stiefvater

The Wonder Trees by Kali Wallace

Forest of a Thousand Lanterns by Julie C. Dao

The Knowing by Sharon Cameron

Beserker by Emmy Laybourne

Into the Bright Unknown by Rae Carson

Turtles all the Way Down by John Green

All the Wind in the World by Samantha Mabry

The Hollow Girl by Hillary Monahan

Tool of War by Paolo Bacigalupi

New on DVD:
Baby Driver
The House
Wish Upon
The Beguiled

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Pre Pub Book Buzz: Weave a Circle Round by Kari Maaren

I'm in the mood for a fun read, y'all, and Kari Maaren's debut sounds like just the ticket. Course it's not out just yet :)

Here's a bit about the book from Goodreads:

Freddy wants desperately to not be noticed. She doesn't want to be seen as different or unusual, but her step-brother Roland gets attention because he's deaf, and her little sister Mel thinks she's a private detective. All Freddy wants to do is navigate high school with as little trouble as possible.

Then someone moves into the house on Grosvenor Street. Two extremely odd someones.

Cuerva Lachance and Josiah aren't . . . normal. When they move in next door, the house begins to exhibit some decidedly strange tendencies, like not obeying the laws of physics or reality. Just as Freddy thinks she's had enough of Josiah following her around, she's plunged into an adventure millennia in the making and discovers the truth about the new neighbors.

So not only does this sound fab, it just earned a starred review in Publishers Weekly as well!

Weave a Circle Round is out in November from Tor.

Friday, October 6, 2017

The Breathless by Tara Goedjen

It's Friday! It's also gloomy and ick out and I want to stay home and read something creepy! Like Tara Goedjen's debut, The Breathless.

It's been one year since Roxanne Cole died. One year of hunting for the person everyone knows is responsible, her boyfriend Cage. One year of grief and trying to move on. 

For Ro's younger sisters, Mae and Elle, moving on means two different things. Elle has taken to cleaning their downtrodden home in hopes of turning it into a b&b. Mae hasn't yet figured out how to move on. And when she finds an old journal Ro discovered just before dying, she becomes obsessed with the idea that it can help her understand what went down that terrible day. 

Then Cage shows up on their doorstep. Asking for Ro. No one's seen him since she died and he claims he can't remember where he's been. In spite of all her suspicions, Mae decides to help, in hopes that finding out about Cage's lost year will finally answer the questions surrounding Ro's death. 

The Breathless is just packed with fabulous atmosphere! A creepy old house filled with old pictures and stories of past generations. A journal with what appears to be spells and secrets that trace back as far as Mae's family history. Oh, and the whole mystery surrounding Ro's death as well.

Of course Mae's investigation is not easy. First, the journal that she thinks could hold answers? Yeah, her grandfather wants her to have nothing to do with it, so she has to read it in secret and hope no one finds out. And it's not exactly easy to interpret. Ro clearly made her own additions to the book, but Mae can't make heads or tales of them, which of course makes her even more certain the answers are in the book.

It also doesn't help that Mae's father has been literally hunting for Cage for the past year. He says he'll shoot him on site!

From the start I was trying to puzzle this one out on my own. And while I thought I maybe had an idea... Nope! Well, maybe some but I was wrong in just as many theories.

Oh, and that atmosphere! I loved it. The story took it's time building, which I also appreciated, letting us get into the groove and get a good idea of the characters and the setting before easing us into the really weird stuff. And a lot of that stuff comes from flashbacks to that earlier generation of Coles. I don't want to spoil it, but if you're looking for a goosebump inducing southern gothic read, this is a good place to start!

The Breathless officially hits shelves Tuesday, October 10.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

The Last Ballad by Wiley Cash

It's Wednesday, everyone! And today I'm a stop on the TLC blog tour for Wiley Cash's latest, The Last Ballad.

Ella May wanted nothing more than to be able to afford to take care of her kids. Her life was a hard one, working six nights a week at one of the local mills for just $9 a week. And that was just enough to pay the rent and not much else. Her husband left her after they lost a son and Ella has been left to fend for herself and her four kids alone. 

But when rumblings of union organizing begin, Ella saw hope. And it was that hope that led her to join up, to protest the terrible conditions she and others like her suffered. And ultimately it's what led to her death. 

Wiley Cash's latest is set in 1929 and is based on the very real Loray Mill Strike in Gastonia, North Carolina. Cash allows the story to unfold through Ella May's voice as well as others around her. In fact, the story begins with Ella May and then jumps forward seventy-six years to 2005 where her eldest daughter has resolved herself to telling her mother's story to her now grown nephew.

But the story stays mostly in 1929, told through the eyes of a fallen man, a mill owner and his wife and daughter, a black man from New York, and others. Through these characters, we get not only a look inside Ella May's final days but a look inside the political and cultural issues that ultimately led to much needed change. But it was change that did not come about easily.

Cash is one of my favorite new authors. Each of this stories features a wonderful sense of character and of place. And this latest has that added layer of history as well. His prose makes for rich and intense reading each and every time.

The Last Ballad is not an easy read. In fact, it's the kind that will no doubt make you realize how far we still have to go considering the current atmosphere around us. But it is a hopeful read, one that pays heed to the heroic efforts of real people through the lens of fiction.

The Last Ballad is the perfect read for anyone with an interest in American history. It's also a great book club pick - I can see lots of potential and meaty discussion around this one. And of course, The Last Ballad is sure to please fans of Cash's previous novels. If you haven't had the chance to read him yet, I definitely recommend doing so soon!

To see more stops on the tour be sure to check out the official TLC tour page here.

For more on Wiley Cash and his work you can visit his website here. You can also follow him on Facebook and on Twitter.

Purchase Links: HarperCollins | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Satellite by Nick Lake

Happy Book Birthday to Nick Lake whose latest, Satellite, releases today!

Leo has never lived on Earth. He's spent almost sixteen years exclusively on Moon 2, a space station that orbits the planet. Born on Moon 2, Leo and twins Orion and Libra, were told they had to wait until their bodies were deemed strong enough to return to Earth. And that day has finally come. 

Leo looks forward to everything. Gravity, air on his face, the sun... And though Earth has always been referred to as home, it's not a place Leo, Orion, or Libra has ever belonged to. From the start, their trip isn't what they expected and now they have to try to navigate - and survive - against impossible odds. 

Nick Lake's latest is a bit like The Martian for teens. A bit.

We meet Leo and the others just shy of Leo's 16th birthday. He and the twins have been raised on a space station. All three were born there, unplanned, and unable to return unless and until their bodies are strong enough. And because of the effects of space travel on the body, they each only see their mothers for brief periods. So they've been raised by a rotating staff of Moon 2 scientists.

Leo loves space. He wants to be an astronaut. But he does want to see and experience Earth as well. So his trip home is one that he's been anticipating for quite some time. And yet, it's understandable that when he arrives the reality of this planet is not what he expected.

What's more, there are hints throughout that maybe life on Earth isn't all that great at the moment.

Set in the near future, Earth is experiencing drought and other problems. Nasa has been privatized and enveloped within a larger company. And then of course there's the fact that even though Leo and the others have trained for their Earth trip, they've never even faced gravity before much less everything else the planet has to throw at them.

Satellite takes a bit of getting used to. Leo narrates and his voice is clear from the beginning, including his penchant for not using capitalization and speaking almost Twitter like rather than fully spelling out everything. It's jarring at first, but I found I was quickly sucked in. And once I was, boy was Satellite fun!

There are elements that reminded me a lot of The Martian, but there were elements too that reminded me a bit of Jonathan Maberry's Mars One as well. I mean, they're all set in space... but Satellite definitely stands on its own and makes for a fantastic sci fi read. Sci fi for a non sci fi reader, as the book's actual editor puts it. And it's absolutely appropriate!

Monday, October 2, 2017

Paradox Bound by Peter Clines

Good morning, readers! We had a somewhat sunny weekend here, amidst our days of gloomy drizzle, and I got some reading done! One of the titles at the top of my list, Peter Clines's newly released Paradox Bound.

Eli lives a pretty boring life in a pretty boring town. With one exception. Every so often, he runs into a mysterious person in an antique car. 

It's true. It's happened three times - the first when he was just eight and a half. Harry was tinkering with a Model A Ford and in a rush to get going. Just before the car disappeared, young Eli thought he saw another car, this one with a shooter aiming at the Model A. If that's not adventure for an eight year old, nothing is!

When Eli was thirteen, he met Harry again. Fresh off a run-in with the town bully, Eli finds Harry once again tending to the same Model A. Eli gets more of a chance to talk to Harry this go around, but also comes to the shocking (for a thirteen-year-old boy, anyway) realization that Harry is a woman! 

Then, when Eli is twenty-nine, ready and waiting for a sight of that Model A, he is finally rewarded. But though Eli has aged, Harry seemingly has not. And when he asks her to stay, she jets off anyway, on a mission, she says, to Boston. 

But that's not where Eli and Harry's story ends. The following day, Eli is approached by a stranger intent on learning where Harry has gone and what she's told Eli. Worried for her, Eli travels to Boston himself, desperate to warn the woman he's become just a little obsessed with before the stranger can find her. And this effort lands Eli right in the middle of a conspiracy that stretches the lengths of history! On the run, alongside Harry, Eli experiences adventure he could never have imagined. But it's an adventure that will end either in victory or certain death. 

Peter Clines is one of my go to authors. He can undoubtedly be counted on for a fun read each and every time, and this one is no exception. What's more Paradox Bound is a bit of a Doctor Who read alike!

So Eli has become obsessed with this stranger who occasionally crosses his path. Of course he would be, there's mystery and danger surrounding this person. Why does she drive a Model A, one that she claims runs on water! And why does she dress in a frock coat and tricorn hat? And who would be shooting at her? (If that even happened, because it seems Eli doesn't entirely trust what his eight-and-a-half-year-old eyes witnessed.)

Eli becomes fascinated by classic cars and keeps a constant eye out for Harry's next arrival. Which is why he manages to spy her on the side of the road one late evening after he's been out drinking with friends. And that encounter would have been like the rest had Eli not felt it his duty to warn her about what happened next.

What Eli doesn't realize is that A. Harry is quite adept at taking care of herself and B. his little mission to save her lands himself in hot water instead.

Paradox Bound is a wibbly-wobbly time-wimey sic-fi adventure certain to please fans of fun reads and, as I mentioned, Doctor Who. Both of which describe me to a T!

Highly recommended for your fall TBR!

Sunday, October 1, 2017

New Releases 10/3/17

Some of the new titles hitting shelves this week are:

The Stolen Marriage by Diane Chamberlain

The Last Ballad by Wiley Cash

Origin by Dan Brown

The Dark Lake by Sarah Bailey

The Hanging Girl by Eileen Cook

Fear by Dirk Kurbjuweit

Blackwing by Ed McDonald

Odd Child Out by Gilly Macmillan

The Devils You Know by M.C. Atwood

The Witches' Tree by M.C. Beaton

The Murders of Molly Southbourne by Tade Thompson

The Deep Dark Descending by Allan Eskens

What the Hell Did I Just Read by David Wong

The Vineyard by Maria Dueñas

Last Christmas In Paris by Hazel Gaynor & Heather Webb

The Bloodprint by Ausma Zahanat Khan

The Secrets of Chicory Lane by Raymond Benson

13 Minutes by Sarah Pinborough

Broken Circle by J.L. Powers & M.A. Powers

Ringer by Lauren Oliver

The Last Namsara by Kristen Ciccarelli

Haunting the Deep by Adriana Mather

That Inevitable Victorian Thing by E.K. Johnston

Akata Warrior by Nnedi Okorafor

27 Hours by Tristina Wright

Sparked by Helena Echlin & Malena Watrous

Before the Devil Breaks You by Libbra Bray

Satellite by Nick Lake

Things I'm Seeing Without You by Peter Bognanni

New on DVD:
The Book of Henry
Priates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales

Saturday, September 30, 2017

What I'm Reading for International Translation Day: Madness Treads Lightly by Polina Dashkova + a Giveaway

I just learned that today is International Translation Day and so I wanted to share my current read in case you were interested in looking for a translated work to read today as well.

I quite love translated works. Books by people from other places about cultures that are different from our own. Plus, it means a whole new subset of titles to add to my TBR, and that's never a bad thing.

Inevitably, I am drawn to foreign genre fiction: horror, sci fi, and crime fiction like Polina Dashkova's Madness Treads Lightly, which released this month from Amazon Crossing. I haven't finished the book yet, so I'll share a bit about it from Goodreads and the publicist:

Celebrated as the “Russian crime queen,” Polina Dashkova is Russia’s most successful author of crime novels. She has sold fifty million copies of her books and has thrilled readers in countries across Europe and Asia.

Now, for the first time ever, Dashkova’s work has been translated into English—through collaboration with award-winning translator Marian Schwartz. English-language readers can now join Dashkova’s millions of fans across the globe on a thrilling journey deep into Siberia and into the mind of a killer in her novel Madness Treads Lightly...

Only three people can connect a present-day murderer to a serial killer who, fourteen years ago, terrorized a small Siberian town. And one of them is already dead.

As a working mother, Lena Polyanskaya has her hands full. She’s busy caring for her two-year-old daughter, editing a successful magazine, and supporting her husband, a high-ranking colonel in counterintelligence. She doesn’t have time to play amateur detective. But when a close friend’s suspicious death is labeled a suicide, she’s determined to prove he wouldn’t have taken his own life.

As Lena digs in to her investigation, all clues point to murder—and its connection to a string of grisly cold-case homicides that stretches back to the Soviet era. When another person in her circle falls victim, Lena fears she and her family may be next. She’s determined to do whatever it takes to protect them. But will learning the truth unmask a killer…or put her and her family in even more danger?

Madness Treads Lightly was originally released sixteen years ago and is, as mentioned above, Dashkova's first title to be translated into English. Amazon Crossing has been killing it lately with intriguing releases (I've got two Chinese titles from them in my TBR right now too, Jia Pingwa's Happy Dreams and Zhou HaoHui's Valley of Terror, both of which I'm dying to dive into). And this one is even more intriguing because it's based on true events. 

I am really loving this so far, it's dark and packed with suspense. It's also a doorstopper clocking in at over 500 pages. But the story is a compelling one and the details about Russian life and culture are fascinating. 

Madness Treads Lightly is out now and I am offering up one copy to one of you lucky readers. To enter, simply fill out the Rafflecopter below before Monday, October 16. Open US only. 

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

There's Someone Inside Your House by Stephanie Perkins

You may be surprised to find out that Stephanie Perkins, author of Anna and the French Kiss and other titles, is a HUGE horror fan. Yep, she is. I know because I follow her 31 Days of Horror posts each Halloween! (If you don't know, it's a challenge where you watch a horror movie each day during the month of October.) So yeah, she's a horror fan. And she's making her YA horror debut this week with There's Someone Inside Your House!

Makani moved to Osborne to get away from drama. Unfortunately, tiny Osborne, Nebraska is anything but drama free. Dropped in her grandmother's lap by parents who seem to have little interest these days, Makani has managed to make two good friends and carve out a little niche for herself at her new school. And while the actions of her past haunt her, her biggest worries are a. that her new friends will find out why she moved and b. that the boy that blew her off will continue to do so. 

That is, until someone starts killing her classmates!

As the town faces one murder after another, rumors about suspects begin to swirl around Makani's school. And with no idea who the killer is or how to stop them, everyone is afraid of being the next target. 

So of course Makani and her friends take it upon themselves to try and solve the murders. In true YA horror fashion. But that's in part because of the rumor mill and an attempt to ensure that Makani and her new friends stay off the suspect list as much as it is to make sure they aren't the next victims.

Their efforts are ratcheted up when someone close to them becomes a victim and people do in fact turn their eye in the group's way looking for suspects, as you'd expect.

Perkins's first horror attempt is, for the most part, successful. The stakes are high as is the suspense. The character building is pretty on point too, though I thought the build up to Makani's big reveal might have been just a touch overblown by the time we find out her real story. Admittedly, any drama as a teen is BIG DRAMA, though, so I thought it was aptly handled and true to the character's age.

If I have one beef with There's Someone Inside Your House, though, it's the fact that the killer is actually revealed halfway through. The story then becomes more about hunting this person down rather than the mystery of who the killer is, which took a bit of steam and tension out of the story for me.

And yet, There's Someone Inside Your House still made for a super fun read that brought me back to my Fear Street days!

Sunday, September 24, 2017

New Releases 9/26/17

Some of the new releases hitting shelves this week are:

Sleeping Beauties by Stephen King & Owen King

Don't Let Go by Harlan Coben

Provenance by Ann Leckie

The Blind by A. F. Brady

The Blackbird Season by Kate Moretti

A Casualty of War by Charles Todd

The Black Tides of Heaven by Jy Yang

The Red Threads of Heaven by Jy Yang

Hanna Who Fell From the Sky by Christopher Meades

Paradox Bound by Peter Clines

The Second Sister by Claire Kendal

Unforgivable Love by Sophronia Scott

Horizon by Fran Wilde

An Unkindness of Magicians by Kat Howard

An Enchantment of Ravens by Margaret Rogerson

Invictus by Ryan Graudin

There's Someone Inside Your House by Stephanie Perkins

The Ravenous by Amy Lukavics

The Language of Thorns by Leigh Bardugo

Wishtree by Katherine Applegate

New on DVD:
47 Meters Down

Friday, September 22, 2017

A Conspiracy of Ravens by Terrence P. McCauley - Excerpt + a Giveaway

The third book in Terrence McCauley's James Hicks series is out now and I've got a sneak peek to share with you! I'm also giving away a copy, so be sure to read through to the end to enter.

Before we dive into the excerpt, though, here's a bit about the book from Goodreads:

James Hicks finally knows his true enemy: the criminal organization known as The Vanguard. They mysterious group has been known as an organization of weapons dealers, drug runners and money launderers for years, but has now decided to add regime change to the mix. But knowing the enemy is one thing. Being able to defeat it is another matter entirely. When Hicks uncovers a solid lead on his new adversaries, his world explodes. His home base is attacked, his operatives in the field are wiped out and, for the first time, The University finds itself in open combat against an unknown enemy. In a battle that rages from the streets of Manhattan to the halls of power in Washington to the dark alleys of Berlin, Hicks will have to use every resource at his disposal to defeat A CONSPIRACY OF RAVENS.

As I said, this is the third in the series, following Sympathy for the Devil and A Murder of Crows. And yes, you should read them in order. 

And now for a peek inside the latest James Hicks thriller:

A Conspiracy of Ravens
by Terrence P. McCauley


2:00 A.M.

James Hicks was two hours south of Manhattan, driving to a meeting he didn’t want to attend in Washington, when his dashboard screen flashed red. It was a Proximity Alert from OMNI.


“Goddamn it.” Hicks pounded the steering wheel. “Not this shit again.”

Surveillance was the whole reason he was driving to Washington, D.C. in the first place.

The Optimized Mechanical and Network Integration System (OMNI) was one of the most advanced computer networks in the world, giving the University one of the few advantages it enjoyed over the larger, federally-funded agencies. OMNI’s access to satellites, data systems, and communications networks collected more data in a millisecond than any human mind could ever comprehend, and saw more than any human eye could see.

Since being selected as Dean of the University weeks ago, the network now dedicated part of its impressive bandwidth to constantly scan his immediate area for patterns and signals that may constitute a threat to Hicks.

He had refused the security measures at first, finding it intrusive for a man who had spent most of his life in the shadows. He had managed to stay alive this long without babysitting. He had seen no reason to allow it now.

But the protection came with the job and could not be refused, not even by the Dean. Given the number of people who had tried to kill him in the past few months, Hicks decided an extra set of eyes watching his back might not be a bad idea.

The automatic alert he was reading now proved he had made the right choice.

He tapped the dashboard screen for more information.
TAIL TIME: 30 minutes and counting
SPEED: Matching 70 miles per hour
ERROR: New Jersey license plates do not match VIN on black box

The fact that a car had been behind him for thirty minutes didn’t bother him. People often popped on the cruise control and let the car do the driving in light traffic like this.

It was the problem with the plates that bothered him. They didn’t match the Vehicle Identification Number OMNI detected from the signal on the BMW’s black box. That was unusual. Too unusual for it to be written off as a mistake.

Hicks had been checking his mirrors constantly during the drive south. He hadn’t detected anyone following him, but it was difficult to track a car in the middle of the night.

Hicks tapped a button on the Buick’s steering wheel, accessing the OMNI network. “Get me an Operator.”

“Contacting an Operator,” the female electronic voice answered as it connected him to one of the dozens of technicians located throughout the world who constantly monitored OMNI’s field operations.

A man’s voice, betraying a slight British inflection, came over the Buick’s speakers. OMNI may have been a secure closed network operating entirely on its own bandwidth, but University Operators still answered using a standard protocol script. “You’ve reached the switchboard. How may I help you?”

“This is Professor Warren.” It was the signal that he was not in any immediate danger and free to talk. If he had given them any other name, the Operator would have assumed he was in trouble and activated necessary security measures. Even with twenty-first-century technology, old tricks like code words still had a place. “Looks like I’ve become pretty popular. I need more information.”

“I’m sorry to hear that, sir.” Hicks heard the Operator’s fingers work a keyboard as he accessed OMNI to find his location and the alert that had flashed on the dashboard screen. “I see the nature of the problem now. The plates match the exact make, model, and year of the BMW following you, but the VIN is completely different.”

Hicks knew that ruled out any government agencies following him. They would not need to steal plates for a vehicle.

But someone did.

“Who owns the car, according to the VIN?” He heard the Operator typing. “Records show it was delivered to a BMW dealership in New Jersey late last week.” More clicks. “No record of sale. No stolen car reports with the police, either. It’s possible they stole the car tonight from the dealership after it closed.”

Convenient timing. “Who owns the plates?”

More clicks of the keyboard. “Michael Spatola of Franklin Lakes, New Jersey. Zooming in to get eyes on his address now.” More clicks on the keyboard. “Satellites show his BMW is still parked in his driveway, but the license plates have been removed from the vehicle.”

Hicks kept his eyes on the road. Someone had been smart enough to steal plates matching the same make, model, and year of the vehicle they had just stolen. Even if a cop decided to run the plates, they would be close enough to match and the cop would probably let them go. Both the car and the plates would be reported stolen eventually, but not for several hours.

That kind of pairing took planning and access. It took effort that common car thieves wouldn’t have gone through. And the odds that common car thieves just happened to be following him this long by accident were astronomical.

Everything about the car and the plates showed intent. It showed planning.

Hicks didn’t like it. He needed answers and, under the circumstances, there was only one way to get them.

“Check traffic and toll cams based on my route. I’m looking for a visual of the driver. Send anything you get to my screen.”

Thirty seconds later, the Operator said, “Sending an image to you now.”

Hicks glanced at the screen while keeping his eyes on the road. A blurry image of two white males at a toll booth in the BMW appeared on his dashboard screen. Judging by the way they filled their seats, he guessed they were each over six feet tall and powerfully built.

The Operator explained, “That picture was taken as they blew through an EZ Pass station without an EZ Pass. I’ll keep looking for a clearer image, but that’s all I have for now.”

Hicks didn’t care about clearer pictures. He needed to find out who was driving that car.

“I’m in a generous mood tonight,” Hicks told the Operator, “so let’s do Mr. Spatola a favor. Enter the theft of the plates and the vehicle into the police network. Say the suspects should be considered armed and dangerous and are believed to be heading for the D.C. area.”

More keyboard clicks. “Doing it now, sir.”

Another idea came to him. “Show me the closest patrol unit on my map.”

A few more clicks. “I’ve just posted the location of the closest unit to your position on your map, sir. The blue icon is the closest police car—a county sheriff ’s deputy manning a speed trap approximately three miles and closing from your current position. The tail car is the red icon on your map, while your car is black.”

Hicks would have preferred a state trooper, but at least a county cop wasn’t some local Barney Fife looking to be a hero.

Hicks pulled the gloves tighter on his fingers. “Plot the nearest off-ramp between here and the speed trap. Something that gives me easy access back onto the highway.”

A blue line appeared on the map of his dashboard screen.

“There’s an off-ramp approximately two miles ahead of you, sir, but be advised: you may not be able to outrun the BMW. It’s got a twin 445 horsepower V8 engine. With all due respect, sir, that’s a tough engine for an old Buick to beat.”

Hicks smiled. That’s why I’ve got an Aston Martin V12 engine under the hood. “Consider me advised. Since the alert is already on the system, send a message directly to the deputy’s onboard computer. Tell him the vehicle is heading his way. Let’s see what he does.”

“Doing it now,” the Operator replied. “And good luck, sir.”

Hicks killed the connection. He never believed in luck. Only in himself.

Excerpted from A CONSPIRACY OF RAVENS © Copyright 2017 by Terrence McCauley. Reprinted with permission. All rights reserved.

About the Author: Terrence McCauley is the award-winning author of two previous James Hicks thrillers: SYMPATHY FOR THE DEVIL and A MURDER OF CROWS, as well as the historical crime thrillers PROHIBITION and SLOW BURN (all available from Polis Books). He is also the author of the World War I novella THE DEVIL DOGS OF BELLEAU WOOD, the proceeds of which go directly to benefit the Semper Fi Fund. His story "El Cambalache" was nominated for the Thriller Award by International Thriller Writers.

Terrence has had short stories featured in Thuglit, Spintetingler Magazine, Shotgun Honey, Big Pulp and other publications. He is a member of the New York City chapter of the Mystery Writers of America, the International Thriller Writers and the International Crime Writers Association.

A proud native of The Bronx, NY, he is currently writing his next work of fiction. Please visit his website at terrencemccauley.com or follow him at @terrencepmccauley.

Big thanks to Terrence McCauley's publicist for sharing the excerpt and for letting me give away a copy today!

And now for the giveaway! To enter, simply fill out the Raffelcopter below before Monday, October 9. Open US only and no PO boxes please. 

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Paperbacks From Hell: A History of Horror Fiction From the '70s and '80s by Grady Hendrix with Will Errickson

Oh, horror fans, is this the read for you! I normally steer clear of non fiction, but this was definitely an exception that I had to make.

One summer a few years back, Grady Hendrix and Will Errickson came together for a Tor.com series called "Summer of Sleaze." The two horror aficionados covered some of the schlockiest installments in horror history, beginning with a book about Nazi leprechauns (which turns out not to be leprechauns at all). And oh, I did love each and every post.

It wasn't all schlock, though. They took time out to focus on Thomas Tryon and James Herbert, Graham Masterton, and even Michael McDowell. For sixteen weeks (and then two subsequent series later on) they teased my TBR with posts about a bevy of horror delights that my itchy hands were (mostly) dying to find.

And that's a bit of the origin story behind Paperbacks From Hell!

Paperbacks From Hell is focused on the paperback (in particular) popularity of the horror genre that hit in the wake of the likes of Rosemary's Baby, The Other, and The Exorcist. (Levin, Tryon, and Blatty, if you're unfamiliar.), tracing the trends in both titles and cover illustrations that ruled over the course of roughly two decades.

Books about possession, devil worshipping, evil children, killer creatures and more captured the readers' imaginations! Hendrix touches on everything from the gory and grotesque to the literary classics that have survived the test of time. Many of the houses have died, some of the authors have too, but the shelves of used bookstores nationwide are still full to the brim with these gems. I should know, I've browsed enough of them to build my own small collection.

Let me be clear, I was not able to delve into the heyday horror fiction until the 90s due to age limitations. Mom but the kibosh on anything beyond the YA category until the summer I hit the age of fourteen and put my foot down - it was time to allow for adult horror reading!

So I missed out on a lot of the titles Hendrix is focusing on here, at least when they originally released.

But not all. Because there are some shining genre examples that have defied the inevitable death of most backlist, still read and released today! And Hendrix does take a breath to hit on the teen horror market of the day as well - Christopher Pike and R. L. Stine in particular, the gateway drugs for many of the horror fans of my own generation. And oh, what a glorious gateway it was for me! I can still recall my first Stine and Pike purchases (Haunted at a school book fair and The Chain Letter on a trip to Mandeville to visit a friend). I trolled the bookstore YA shelves for any and every creepy looking title I could find, all the while gazing longingly at the shiny Stephen King and Dean Koontz titles that beckoned from the forbidden adult section. And I'm always heartened to hear that I wasn't alone - lots of readers of my generation share almost the same story!

Horror is and probably always will be my go to when it comes to books and movies. I like to blame it on the fact that my parents admit to having taken me to the drive in with them to see Return of the Living Dead when I was a baby (in other words, way too young for it to have mattered, especially since I no doubt slept through it and probably couldn't see the screen). I can certainly trace it back to the first ghost story my parents bought me to try and encourage me to read back in second grade. And I can definitely trace it back to my discovery of R.L. Stine's Fear Street hiding out on a Scholastic book fair shelf in third grade. And while I may have missed many of the titles Hendrix talks about when they originally released, I'm making up for it now!

Monday, September 18, 2017

Lie To Me by J.T. Ellison + a Giveaway

Happy Monday, everyone! Today I'm a stop on the TLC blog tour for J.T. Ellison's latest, Lie To Me. If you visit frequently, then you may recall I already posted an excerpt of this one last month. If you missed it, be sure to check it out here.

Well now I get to follow up with my review!

And do be sure to read through to the end - I'm giving away a copy of Lie To Me to one of you lucky readers!

To the outside world, Sutton and Ethan have the perfect marriage. Two authors, each successful in their own right, who together seem to have it all. But the reality of their marriage is anything but perfect and certainly isn't happy these days. Ethan's latest book deal has been cancelled and their relationship is on the rocks after the death of their child. 

And then Ethan wakes one morning to find Sutton gone. All of her things - her purse, her computer, her phone, her clothes - are still there but Sutton is missing. And then Ethan finds the note: she's left him and doesn't want him to try and find her. 

Ethan wants to respect her wishes, but he fears something terrible may have happened. And when her friends suggest maybe Sutton didn't leave at all but that Ethan may have done something, Ethan knows he can't sit idly by. 

If you're a fan of domestic noir/thrillers, you're going to absolutely love this latest from J.T. Ellison. Love it! There's a definite Gone Girl feel to this one. A missing wife, a suspected husband, the niggling feeling that our narrator can't be trusted... But don't worry, Lie To Me definitely stands on its own.

Ethan, when the story begins, is no perfect hubby. In fact, he's kind of a dick. I say this because in the very first pages he's musing over how he needs a hottie on his arm because he himself is a hottie and Sutton has kind of let herself go of late. What!? But even as Ethan does his damnedest not to endear himself to the reader, it's kind of impossible not to sympathize with him as suspicions turn his way.

And Sutton hasn't helped in that regard. The picture she's painted to those around her definitely doesn't put Ethan in a good light either.

The did he or didn't he would be enough to grab any reader's attention, but there are chapters narrated by someone unknown as well. Someone we're told from the start we're going to hate. Who is this person!?

Lots of interrobangs here, you'll notice. Because this is a book that deserves more than simple question marks and exclamation points. Lie To Me is super good, y'all. The pacing is intense and the story keeps you guessing all the way to the end. If you aren't reading J.T. Ellison yet, this is definitely the perfect place to start.

Lie To Me is excellent all around and one I highly recommend for any thriller fan!

And now for the giveaway. To enter, simply fill out the Rafflecopter below before Monday, October 2. Open US only and no PO boxes please.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

To see more stops on the tour, and more excerpts, be sure to check out the official TLC tour page here.

For more on J.T. Ellison and her work you can visit her website here. You can also like her on Facebook and follow her on Twitter.

Purchase Links: Amazon | Books-A-Million | Barnes & Noble

Sunday, September 17, 2017

New Releases 9/19/17

Some of the new titles hitting shelves this week are:

Autonomous by Analee Newitz

Null States by Malka Older

The Good People by Hannah Kent

An Echo of Murder by Anne Perry

The Scarred Woman by Jussi Adler-Olsen

Keep Her Safe by Sophie Hannah

White Bodies by Jane Robins

Best Day Ever by Kaira Rouda

Solar Bones by Mike McCormack

The Ninth Hour by Alice McDermott

The Cuban Affair by Nelson DeMille

Obsession by Amanda Robson

Jane, Unlimited by Kristin Cashore

Hunting Prince Dracula by Kerri Maniscalco

Release by Patrick Ness

A Poison Dark and Drowning by Jessica Cluess

One Dark Throne by Kendare Blake

New on DVD:
Wonder Woman
The Big Sick

New reviews at Bookbitch.com:
Casa Marcela by Marcela Valladolid

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

The Crows of Beara by Julie Christine Johnson + a Giveaway

Annie Crowe has hit rock bottom. Her husband has kicked her out and her company has given her an ultimatum: one final job to prove she can get back on her feet and stay sober. 

The job, doing PR for a mining company that wants to bring copper mining back to Ireland, won't be easy. The locals need the money and the jobs but the threat to their land is something they aren't going to compromise on. At the center of the efforts is the red-billed chough, a rare bird that happens to have one if its last nesting grounds in an area that would be impacted by the mines. 

Annie is entranced by the beauty of the village and its coast. But failing would mean the end of her career. As she fights not to fall prey to her own personal demons, she finds a guiding force in Beara. But can she decipher the meaning of the words whispered on the wind before she loses everything?

The Crows of Beara isn't a long book, and yet it feels sweeping nonetheless. Epic in its hints of mythology and its approach on the magic of Ireland - literal and figurative. Though one could say the magic of nature is literal...

Annie is out of rehab and fighting to stay sober, one day at a time, when the story begins. But the fall out from her mistakes hasn't ended. And that's when she decides that maybe a trip to Ireland, while potentially hiding many dangers to a newly sober and struggling person, might instead be exactly what she needs.

We learn that Annie has a lot of baggage. A lot of things she's still trying to work out, tracing all the way back to an injury that crushed her leg and her then athletic dreams. But none has been as crushing as the loss of her brother. And her crutch, that of alcohol, not only allowed her not to confront these things, but obviously made it worse.

At the same time, Annie isn't alone. Daniel, who turns out to be not only her neighbor in Ireland but the brother of the head of the conservation efforts, has his own demons as well. An accident landed him in prison and has kept him sober ever since, but he has never accepted the forgiveness offered by the family of his victim. As such, when his friends and family ask him to take more of a role in their efforts, becoming the face of their campaign, he resists.

But he finds it hard to resist Annie. And hears the same whispered words that she does.

Chapters alternate between Annie and Daniel as both their stories and that of Beara play out. How it ends for all of them is something you have to find out for yourself, but the journey is a beautiful one all around!

(Don't miss Julie Christine Johnson's fantastic guest post on Ireland and the seeds that would lead The Crows of Beara here.)

As promised last week, I do have one copy of The Crows of Beara to give away to one of you very lucky readers. To enter, simply fill out the Rafflecopter below before Monday, September 25. Open US only and no PO boxes please.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sunday, September 10, 2017

New Releases 9/12/17

Some of the new titles hitting shelves this week are:

The Twelve-Mile Straight by Eleanor Henderson

Bluebird, Bluebird by Attica Locke

The Man in the Tree by Sage Walker

Love and Other Consolation Prizes by Jamie Ford

An Excess Male by Maggie Shen King

Taste of Marrow by Sarah Gailey

Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng

The Names of Dead Girls by Eric Rickstad

A Column of Fire by Ken Follett

Lightning Men by Thomas Mullen

The Unquiet Grave by Sharyn McCrumb

Madness Treads Lightly by Polina Dashkova

The Bloody Black Flag by Steve Goble

We Were Strangers Once by Betsy Carter

When I Cast Your Shadow by Sarah Porter

Odd & True by Cat Winters

Warcross by Marie Lu

Nyxia by Scott Reintgen

Shadowhouse Fall by Daniel José Older

New on DVD:
It Comes at Night
The Mummy
Beatriz at Dinner

New reviews at Bookbitch.com:
Y is For Yesterday by Sue Grafton

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Pre Pub Book Buzz: Future Home of the Living God by Louise Erdrich

So one of the many hats I wear these days is at a local bookstore as Local Author Coordinator. It pairs nicely with the agenting and with the blogging, giving me a chance to meet local authors and writing groups, work and in hand with local authors I've already met at conferences and events, and of course be around bookstore people even more. One of them, aware of my fondness for post apocalyptic tales and such, has raved about Louise Erdrich's latest. So of course I'm dying to read it now, too!

Here's a bit about the book from Goodreads:

The world as we know it is ending. Evolution has reversed itself, affecting every living creature on earth. Science cannot stop the world from running backwards, as woman after woman gives birth to infants that appear to be primitive species of humans. Thirty-two-year-old Cedar Hawk Songmaker, adopted daughter of a pair of big-hearted, open-minded Minneapolis liberals, is as disturbed and uncertain as the rest of America around her. But for Cedar, this change is profound and deeply personal. She is four months pregnant.

Though she wants to tell the adoptive parents who raised her from infancy, Cedar first feels compelled to find her birth mother, Mary Potts, an Ojibwe living on the reservation, to understand both her and her baby’s origins. As Cedar goes back to her own biological beginnings, society around her begins to disintegrate, fueled by a swelling panic about the end of humanity.

There are rumors of martial law, of Congress confining pregnant women. Of a registry, and rewards for those who turn these wanted women in. Flickering through the chaos are signs of increasing repression: a shaken Cedar witnesses a family wrenched apart when police violently drag a mother from her husband and child in a parking lot. The streets of her neighborhood have been renamed with Bible verses. A stranger answers the phone when she calls her adoptive parents, who have vanished without a trace. It will take all Cedar has to avoid the prying eyes of potential informants and keep her baby safe.

A chilling dystopian novel both provocative and prescient, Future Home of the Living God is a startlingly original work from one of our most acclaimed writers: a moving meditation on female agency, self-determination, biology, and natural rights that speaks to the troubling changes of our time.

This sounds pretty amazing in my humble opinion and I will definitely be looking forward to getting my hands on a copy!

Future Home of the Living God is due out in November from Harper. 

Friday, September 8, 2017

Short Fiction Friday: Acadie by Dave Hutchinson

Duke never wanted to be president, and that's exactly why the Colony has chosen him. Theirs is a settlement that has created some of the smartest minds evolution will allow. Their founder has figured out a way to hack DNA, molding and creating to her heart's content. But she has no interest in leading.

Which is unfortunate because she's the one Earth is after. For generations, the Colony has been on guard, prepared for the day when Earth discovers their whereabouts. And when a small vessel is discovered in their vicinity, Duke is convinced it's no coincidence.

I was certain, at the start, that I wasn't going to make it through Dave Hutchinson's latest. It reminded me of my earliest days trying to read sci fi, when everything went literally over my head and I became convinced there was some super secret primer all the sci fi fans must have read but me.

We're dropped down in the middle of Duke's story. A ship has made its way into the Colony's space and, while many want to blow it off and forget about it, Duke is convinced it means they're about to be discovered.

But why the worry?

As the story progresses, we get to flash back to Duke's own origins. How he came to be part of the Colony and even how the Colony came to be in the first place. And as Duke's backstory is revealed, all becomes suddenly clear!

Thankfully this happens right about the time I was ready to throw in the towel, which was fortunate because I really didn't want to give up on this one.

Acadie is a fun read, even with the rocky start. There's a bit of a playful edge to the whole thing, made clear first by flying cats (no gravity!). And Duke, as an average person of average intelligence, making his way amongst a society of super brains, is a great narrator to get behind.

But that end. Oh, that end! That was the real kicker. That was what made this all worth it and, if I'm honest, completely unforgettable!

I won't ruin it for you, don't worry.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Guest Post by Julie Christine Johnson

Good morning, readers! I've been quiet this week - I've had my agent hat on preparing for an upcoming conference and reading through manuscripts. But today I have a treat for you - two posts, starting with a guest post from Julie Christine Johnson, whose latest book, The Crows of Beara, released this week.

Before I hand things over to Julie, here's a bit about the book from Goodreads:

When Annie Crowe travels from Seattle to a small Irish village to promote a new copper mine, her public relations career is hanging in the balance. Struggling to overcome her troubled past and a failing marriage, Annie is eager for a chance to rebuild her life.

Yet when she arrives on the remote Beara Peninsula, Annie learns that the mine would encroach on the nesting ground of an endangered bird, the Red-billed Chough, and many in the community are fiercely protective of this wild place. Among them is Daniel Savage, a local artist battling demons of his own, who has been recruited to help block the mine.

Despite their differences, Annie and Daniel find themselves drawn toward each other, and, inexplicably, they begin to hear the same voice--a strange, distant whisper of Gaelic, like sorrow blowing in the wind.

Guided by ancient mythology and challenged by modern problems, Annie must confront the half-truths she has been sent to spread and the lies she has been telling herself. Most of all, she must open her heart to the healing power of this rugged land and its people.

Beautifully crafted with environmental themes, a lyrical Irish setting, and a touch of magical realism, The Crows of Beara is a breathtaking novel of how the nature of place encompasses everything that we are.

And now, over to Julie!

A Writer’s Ireland

May 2002. My first trip to Ireland. Alone, I join a small group of strangers to hike the Beara peninsula, West Cork. I fall deeply in love with a land of impossible greens, peaches-and-cream sunrises and salmon-flesh sunsets, lashing rain and wind, always wind.

On the flight home two weeks later, I turn my face to the window, sobbing. I am as if torn from a lover, forever. Ireland has changed me. Beara has given me a sense of peace and wholeness I have never before experienced.

The years pass and I return to Ireland several times, hiking the Wicklow Way, Connemara, the Dingle and Kerry peninsulas; exploring Dublin, Galway, Limerick, Kenmare, Tralee. But Beara remains a dream crystallized in photographs and memories.

I dream of a land of poetry and legends, of An Cailleach, Clan Ó Súilleabháin, St. Caitighearn; a land of sky and water where battles were fought on gorse-cloaked mountains and warriors marked their Ogham runes on tall pillars. Where the ruined shadows of famine houses pale against the shadows of history cast by circles of ancient altars—slabs of stone sculpted by Bronze Age hands now scratching posts for the russet and inky-black flanks of Angus and Friesian.

I dream of villages where rows of Crayon-bright houses march up narrow streets, lace curtains fluttering in open windows. Where breath-stealing laughter falls from open pub doors, chased by heart-stealing songs.

I dream of a hiker high on the Slieve Miskish, peering into the green and blue infinity, boots soaked through with bog, fingers wrapped around a trekking pole, pack cinched around her waist like a lover's arms. She is so happy she could explode from the very fullness of her heart.

I dream of a humped, ragged block of stone perched on hill overlooking Ballycrovane Harbor. One edge resembles the profile of a woman, her furrowed brow arched over a proud nose, her gaze fixed on the Atlantic Ocean. She is An Cailleach Bheara, the Hag of Beara, mother of Ireland. Her story is Ireland's story, her survival the enduring drama of a tortured land of legendary beauty.

January 2014. I set the first draft of my first novel aside to rest, exhausted by the effort to corral a 170,000-wordsoup into a 99,000-word manuscript. That novel becomes my 2016 debut In Another Life, recently awarded Gold Winner for Fantasy by FOREWORD Indies at the American Library Association Annual Conference in June 2017. I leave behind a timeslip of modern and medieval southwest France to enter the cool, scabrous beauty of southwest Ireland.

I create the story of a recovering alcoholic who has a marriage to repair and a career to salvage, and another of an artist who cannot forgive himself for the tragedy he caused. As my characters begin to take shape, I know the threads connecting them will be found in the presence of the Hag. Her voice filters through these characters’ pain to reveal their authentic selves.

June 2015. Thirteen years after that first trip to the Beara peninsula, I'm in a blue room at an artist’s retreat center outside Eyeries. Tucked in bed, I watch the sun sink behind distant hills until suddenly it is morning. And I set forth to revisit the land of my dreams, discovering it anew.

September 2017. Fifteen years after that first trip to the Beara peninsula, I celebrate the release of my second novel, The Crows of Beara, a work shaped by this place of incomparable beauty and spirit.

About the author:  Julie Christine Johnson is the author of In Another Life (Sourcebooks, 2016). Her short stories and essays have appeared in many journals and anthologies, and she lives and writes in the seaside village of Port Townsend, Washington.  

Huge, huge thanks to Julie for being on the blog today! For more on Julie and her work, be sure to head over to her website here. You can also like her on Facebook and follow her on Twitter.

The Crows of Beara is on shelves now, so run out and buy a copy! And be sure to check back here for my review of The Crows of Beara (psst, I'll also be giving away a copy to one of you lucky readers!)