Friday, May 31, 2013

The Dark Pool by J.E. Fishman

For inner city high school coach Shoog Clay, it's not enough that his players do well on the field. He makes it his job to ensure that the kids are doing well off the field too. And his players are succeeding. They're winning and they're making the grades all while staying out of trouble. But Shoog isn't the only one with a vested interest in his players' success. When rising star Antwon Meeps gets arrested while visiting family in Georgia, it's not Shoog who comes to his rescue. It's a lawyer representing someone who wants to make sure Antwon doesn't go down. This person has put a lot of time and money into Shoog's team and will do anything to guard his investment. Antwon and Shoog soon find themselves in a tough spot, forced to play along as someone else pulls the strings behind the scenes.

J.E. Fishman's The Dark Pool reminded me a bit of Harlan Coben's work. The idea of the fairly decent, average guy (in this case Shoog, who is a really likable character) being manipulated and forced to face sometimes overwhelming obstacles, not to mention the sports aspect here (very Myron Bolitar minus Win) and the fact that Dark Pool is a mystery/thriller.

The Mean came across a bit cartoonish at times. Kind of pushing the limit of becoming overwhelmingly so. Fortunately Fishman did reign it in before it became too far fetched... for the most part. I have to say the end came really close again. There was enough action to keep it moving that it was easy to let the outlandishness slide.

From the very first page I was pleased with the pacing and Fishman's over all style. The combination of Wall Street and sports wasn't going to be an immediate draw for me but I'd heard really good things about Fishman's work. I thought it really worked. It's a plot that I can see easily being reality (barring the ... no spoilers). When it got to the real nitty gritty of the long and short and the Q scores, I did get a little lost for a while, unfortunately. Overall, though, I have to say I had a lot of fun reading The Dark Pool.

Rating: 3.5/5

Armchair BEA: Ethics & Non-Fiction

Heavy topics today!

So blogging ethics. Hm. Folks, once you put something on the internet it's out there for everyone to see. I try to use the think before you speak thing in blogging as well and frequently rewrite things to try and be a bit more even toned and such. If there's anything I'm a bit on the fence about, in terms of content or tone, I tend to remove it just to be on the safe side. I don't censor myself but I try to be aware of the potential issues that could crop up.

Plagiarism is a hot button topic. It's not something that I've had a whole lot of experience with - I post my opinions on books, there's not a whole lot of grey area there in my opinion. When I do post an image, a synopsis, or anything that's not my own, I link back to the source and I post the source as credit. Giving credit where credit is due is a courtesy at minimum. It takes, what, two extra seconds to add in a little bit of extra text? Good manners as well as covering all your bases. Ultimately, though, I guess I don't really put a whole lot of thought into it because I don't understand it. If you're blogging, I assume you're blogging for you (I am). So I can't wrap my head around someone who would try to pass off someone else's material as their own. There just doesn't seem to be any excuse.

As far as review ethics are concerned, I'm not sure what to say. Everything posted here on the blog is my own opinion but I do come from a bookseller background. What does this mean? It means that even if I dislike a book, I'm hard pressed not to find something positive about it simply because I understand that I may not be the right audience for the title. It doesn't mean that I give glowing five star reviews to books that I hate (and I rarely hate a book) but it does mean that if the writing is good and the story is interesting but doesn't quite hit the spot for me, that's what I'm going to say. I receive review copies. I'm not paid or pressured to write positive reviews. I am a very eclectic reader and I choose which titles I want to read out of my own stack of ARCs and purchased books, so I do generally enjoy what I'm reading. I'm not assigned books so there's less of a chance that I'm going to completely detest what I'm reading. If a book is terrible I might actually opt not to write a post. It's my choice.

Onto the genre topic: Non-Fiction

I'm incredibly picky when it comes to non fiction. First, I like non fiction that reads like fiction. A prose approach to the narrative itself, can't be too academic, and has to be entertaining.

My non fiction tastes extend pretty much to food related topics (food memoirs are super fun!), anthropology related topics, and virus related topics.

Some faves are:

Richard Preston's The Hot Zone. Holy moly! This book really does read like fiction and I've been tempted to pick up Preston's other non fiction titles as a result. I've yet to at this point (though I have read his one fiction release and I'm a big fan of his brother's work).

Jon Ronson's The Psychopath Test. Really fantastic and super funny (in a twisted sort of way). Definitely one I highly recommend.

Heather Pringle's The Mummy Congress. This one's been out for a while but it remains one of my favorite reads on the subject.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Strands of Bronze and Gold by Jane Nickerson

When I first heard murmurings about Jane Nickerson's Strands of Bronze and Gold, I immediately added it to my must have list. It's Bluebeard! Bluebeard! In the midst of a multitude of fairy tale retellings, we finally have a freaking Bluebeard book! I did have to wait a bit to finally dive in but the long weekend was the perfect opportunity.

After the death of her father, Sophia Petheram is offered a wonderful opportunity: her beloved godfather has offered her a place in his home as his ward. From the beginning, it is clear that Sophia will not want for anything. Her godfather is charming and good-natured, and has provided her with everything she could possibly need and more. But as time goes by, Sophia comes to realize that her godfather's outward appearance of charm and good humor is a mask for something more sinister. His moods change swiftly and his wrath can be quite harsh. Sophia is sure that her godfather's moodiness must be a result of his terrible losses. The longer Sophia stays in his household, though, the more she learns about her godfather's true nature.

Ok, Strands of Bronze and Gold is creepy! Like skin crawling creepy! In Nickerson's version of this tale, the story takes place in Mississippi just a few years before the beginning of the Civil War. Sophia's godfather - Bernard de Cressac - is a wealthy landowner from France whose main home is an old French abbey that was brought over piece by piece and reassembled in the South. The atmosphere Nickerson builds is fantastic, oozing with chilling description.

The other skin crawlingly creepy aspect, though, is Sophia's overall inability to see through her godfather's facade in the beginning of the book. I mean, it was ick! de Cressac is so clearly wooing his young ward and it seriously icked me out!

This was my one and only complain about the book as well. In terms of character growth, yes it gives us a chance to see Sophia come into her own. But the period of time it takes for Sophia to wizen up and stop brushing off de Cressac's actions was kind of agonizing for me. (It was like watching a horror movie heroine go up the stairs to investigate the noise when she should be running out the door!)

Anyway, beyond that, Strands of Bronze and Gold was a wonderful twist on the Bluebeard tale! Nickerson's got details on her next book, The Mirk and Midnight Hour, already listed on her website and it sounds equally to die for - voodoo and freaky fairies in Civil War Mississippi - I can't wait to read more from her!

Rating: 4.5/5

Armchair BEA: Giveaway and Literature

So today is giveaway day and the genre discussion is general literary fiction. This is going to be a tough one for me. I do enjoy quite a lot of books that I consider to be more literary reads. They are probably still very much genre fiction for a lot of serious literary readers, so I'm just throwing that out there and acknowledging it early :)

First for the giveaway. I've been cleaning my shelves and I'm offering up some themed two-fers. US only though since they'll be coming direct from me:

Summer Thriller Pack: Laura Lippman's And When She Was Good and Alafair Burke's Never Tell

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Summer Action/Adventure Pack: Matthew Dunn's Sentinel and James Rollins's Bloodline

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Summer Beach Reads Pack: Heather Barbieri's The Cottage at Beach Glass and Dorothea Benton Frank's Porch Lights

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Two of my recent favorites pack: Beth Gutcheon's Gossip and Liza Palmer's Nowhere But Home

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So to enter, just fill out the appropriate Rafflecopter before midnight, June 9. You can enter for multiple packs if you like. Please note that you do not have to be an Armchair BEA participant to enter to win. 

Now for the genre discussion. I'll be honest and say that I'm not even sure what literature is these days. I'm sure it's supposed to refer to a slightly higher brow, less dime store-esque type of work, but the lines have blurred so much in publishing that I think you might be hard pressed to find a truly accurate definition these days - and titles that back it up. If I'm honest, a lot of what's described as literature (genre-wise) doesn't really make it to my TBR.

My idea of literary fiction seems to lean these days to more serious genre stuff and I'm pretty generous with my "literary" tags. Justin Cronin's The Passage and The Twelve for example, are what I'd call literary horror. I consider Carol Goodman's work to be literary mystery while I generally tag Joanne Harris as literary fiction. I've tagged Katherine Neville's The Eight and The Fire as literary puzzles and Tom Rob Smith's Child 44 as a literary thriller. My tagging - and the reason I'm pretty liberal with my own genre descriptions - comes from being a bookseller and a desire to spread the "if you like this you should try..." love.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

The Corpse Reader by Antonio Garrido

While the boom in forensic based fiction and tv doesn't seem to be ebbing at all, I find it a bit surprising that Antonio Garrido's The Corpse Reader is the first book I've come across with Song Ci as the main character. Surely there may be more that have escaped my notice, but I was pretty excited to dive into this one.

Song Ci, or Ci Song as he's called in the book, is known as the father of forensic science. His Collected Cases of Injustice Rectified outlined investigative procedures for examining bodies and included case studies as well (at least one of which is included in Garrido's novel).

Ci Song was a devoted student and lucky enough to work as an assistant to Judge Feng while his family lived in Lin'An. The death of his grandfather brought all of that to an end. Ci and his family relocated to his older brother's house in the country and Ci found himself responsible for helping out with the family land. But when Ci discovers a body in his brother's field, it's the beginning of lots of changes for the boy and his family. Ci faces trial after trial as he makes his way back to Lin'An and becomes a student at the famed Ming Academy where he catches the eye of the emperor and is tasked with solving a particularly gruesome set of murders. The case could mean making a name for himself as the Corpse Reader or it could finally bring about Ci Song's downfall.

It is interesting that The Corpse Reader is inspired by the life of an actual person, but the story is most definitely fiction. (The author does include a bio of the real life Ci Song at the end of the book.)

I did go into The Corpse Reader expecting a full on crime novel. In reality the second half of the book is devoted to one big case. The first half does include plenty of crimes and lots of opportunities for Ci Song to show off his talents, but this portion of the book is focused on Ci Song's journey and the numerous obstacles in his path. (The Ci Song of the book has really crap luck!)

At first, Garrido's tome seems to be something of a door stopper, but in truth the book moves along very quickly. I'd look up after a bit of time reading and discover that a hundred page chunk had gone by in what seemed like a relatively short period or time.

The Corpse Reader was released in Spain in 2011 and won the Zaragoza International Prize for best historical novel in 2012. The new edition is translated by Thomas Bunstead, who has done an impeccable job in my honest opinion: it's really a quite seamless translation.

Rating: 4/5

Armchair BEA: Blogger Development & Genre Fiction

Today's two part discussion begins with how we've developed ourselves as bloggers. I have been blogging since 2008 and the decision to do so stemmed from my desire to continue recommending books and talking about books after I'd left my job as a bookseller.

I review online for Bookbitch.com and have since 2006 but I wanted an outlet to talk about books and movies and tv shows and anything else I wanted to talk about. My primary reviews have always been for BB and I use my blog for extras - adding more personalization and discussion to my reviews (I write a separate review for my own blog).

Since last year's Armchair BEA, I've started doing blog tours with TLC as well as jumping on board with some of the publisher promoted blog tours, which has done a lot to pick up traffic to the blog. I've been hosting more giveaways - and started using Rafflecopter for that (love it!).

It's all fairly little steps but ultimately my desire is simply to share great reads.

Genre Fiction:

The second part of today's discussion is genre fiction. I lurve this topic!

Horror is still my number one favorite genre. I cut my teeth on it. The first book I read on my own and can say I truly enjoyed was a Jeffrey and the 3rd Grade Ghost title. I was hooked! I spent every cent I had on RL Stine and Christopher Pike books, eventually working my way through every horror-ish title I could get my hands on in the juvenile section of the bookstore.

And yes, I've branched out quite a bit in the years since. I read just about any genre you can name these days and I especially adore cross genre reads that incorporate elements from all over the literary landscape! My three favorite combos with horror are mystery/thriller (of course), fantasy (awesome!), and sci fi (I want more of this).

Some favorites:

Anything by Stephen King, of course! King incorporates a lot of fantasy elements into some of his stories (The Dark Tower series, for example).

Summer of Night by Dan Simmons - a truly fantastic coming of age horror story!

The Man From Primrose Lane by James Renner - not exactly horror but it is horrific. It's cross genre for sure and contains elements of sci-fi, mystery, thriller...

Stephen M. Irwin's The Broken Ones (sort of mystery/dystopian/horror)

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

The Original 1982 by Lori Carson

Morning, all! I'm a stop on the TLC book tour for Lori Carson's debut, The Original 1982.

In 1982, Lisa found out she was pregnant. Her boyfriend, a well-known international musician, didn't want to be a father. And so, Lisa decided not to go through with the pregnancy. 

But what if Lisa had chosen differently? In her imagined 1982, she keeps Minnow. It's tough at times, but Lisa does everything she can for her daughter, making a life for the two of them and imagining how her things would be different if this was her reality, the other 1982. 

Like a few of  my other reads lately, I've got mixed feelings about The Original 1982. The story structure is odd, to say the least. The narrative plays out mostly as the other 1982, with interspersed lines throughout about how the original 1982 actually played out. And I rather enjoyed this.

Carson writes in a first person, present tense POV, which definitely takes a little getting used to. POV isn't actually something I talk about much here because I'm honestly not a stickler for any particular one. If it works, it works and that's all I really pay attention to. When I notice it, though, it seems like maybe it's not quite working. Here it just didn't seem all that smooth in spite of the fact that the book is an overall quick read.

What I didn't really like about the book was the final part, set in the original 1982. After so much of Lisa's imagined story, being brought back to her reality wasn't quite as interesting. Perhaps that's the point. That this is the reason she's imagined her life with Minnow in the first place. (It's set as a story that she's writing in the final portion of the book.)

Lori Carson's debut is interesting and it was fun to read a different kind of narrative. I liked Lisa and Minnow, but my heart ached for them. By the time I got to the final portion, I was also feeling a bit down thanks to the book.

Rating: 3.5/5

To see more stops on the tour, check out the official TLC tour page here.

For more on Lori Carson, including a chance to see her read from the book's prologue, visit her website here. You can also like her on Facebook.

Armchair BEA: Introductions & Classics

So for the intro portion of today's Armchair BEA post, I've chosen the following questions from the list:

Have you previously participated in Armchair BEA? What brought you back for another year? If you have not previously participated, what drew you to the event?

Yes! I participated for the very first time last year (and you can read my intro post from last year's event as well if you're interested). Since I still, sadly, have not been able to go to actual BEA, I definitely wanted to participate in Armchair BEA again. I think it's a great way to connect and discover new-to-me blogs and bloggers.

Where in the world are you blogging from? Tell a random fact or something special about your current location. Feel free to share pictures.

I'm blogging from just outside Denver, Colorado, which is (according to this Huffington Post article) the 5th most literate US city of 2012. And we'd have to be thanks to our great bookstores!

What are you currently reading, or what is your favorite book you have read so far in 2013? 

I am currently reading (because I'm pre-posting) Sarah Jio's The Last Camellia and Michael Logan's Apocalypse Cow. I know, it's a weird mix!

Tell us one non-book-related thing that everyone reading your blog may not know about you.

I majored in Criminal Justice with a double minor in English and Anthropology. But then I changed track a bit with a job as a bookseller and later attended the Denver Publishing Institute. 

Which is your favorite post that you have written that you want everyone to read?

I don't know that I necessarily have a favorite post but I certainly enjoyed showing off what a nerd I am for Game of Thrones here. I'm also loving the Top Ten Tuesday posts (hosted by The Broke and the Bookish) and would love if my post on authors I think deserve more recognition (here) turned some readers onto some of my favorite authors. I'm also quite fond of the interview posts I've been doing of late. This one with Paul Cornell is really fun and my husband put together a great video using my interview with Maureen Johnson and her recent Tattered Cover appearance here.


The genre portion of today's post is classics. I have a love/hate relationship with classics. Generally a classic is something that has withstood the test of time. Why (or even if) these particular books have stayed relevant is anyone's guess in some cases.

I have not done well with a lot of the typical forced school reading. For someone who reads as much as I do my best guess is that a lot of the "classics" were introduced to me at the wrong age. I personally think I might actually enjoy Dickens these days. I don't really think I'd ever have much fondness for Hawthorne but who knows. Strangely, I was never required to read any Jane Austen, George Orwell, or anything else I might have considered fun in middle school and high school.

I had better luck with college courses, though, and a particular (and continued) love of gothic lit. I devoured Jane Eyre and read du Maurier's Rebecca on my own. As such, I definitely recommend the Brontes and du Maurier, particularly to readers who are looking for something deliciously atmospheric!

Monday, May 27, 2013

The Last Camellia by Sarah Jio

Sarah Jio is one of those authors that all my fellow readers seem to LOVE. But it's taken me until now, when the release of The Last Camellia -her fourth book - is looming, to dive in. At least now I can understand the fanaticism :)

1940: Flora Lewis is desperate to help her family. As her parents struggle to keep their bakery above water, Flora is approached with a unique - if dishonest - opportunity: rumors of a rare camellia have sparked the interest of a ring of flower thieves. Flora is sent to Clivebrook, England, to pose as a nanny for the Livingston family. Her real job is to track down the Middlebury Pink and in exchange will be handsomely rewarded. The promise of much-needed funds to help her family is her deciding factor, but she never planned on becoming attached to the Livingston children. Nor had she counted on becoming involved in a mystery surrounding the estate. 

2000: Addison Sinclair is trying to escape her past. When her husband's parents offer the couple use of their new country estate in England, Addison decides it's exactly what they need. As her husband, Rex, works diligently on his budding novel, Addison makes a surprising discovery: an orchard of camellias and a journal with a strange code and notes regarding the orchard. Addison and Rex soon discover that Clivebrook was home to a number of disappearances just before WWII. And the names of the missing girls match the ones Addison has found in the journal. But unravelling the journal isn't as easy as it seems, especially when the one person who can help the most isn't talking. 

Jio is apparently known for her dual timeline story telling and it's a device I quite enjoy. Not only does it provide the reader a great opportunity to connect with multiple characters, but it intensifies the suspense, especially as the story progresses.

I did very much enjoy the sort of gothic undertones in The Last Camellia. My only issue with the narrative is that it could have been longer in my opinion. There were many times throughout the book when I wished that Jio would have spent more time describing a scene.

I was fascinated by the story of the camellia. I can't be too sure but I think it's completely made up, sadly. The idea of the Queen's rage over a potentially stolen camellia was pretty fabulous and would make a great story alone (yet another piece of the story I would have loved to see more of). It does seem there is a similarly named rare camellia in England, though.

The Last Camellia is a wonderfully captivating tale and one that I very much enjoyed. My first Sarah Jio will not be my last, that's a guarantee! (The Last Camellia hits shelves tomorrow.)

Rating: 4/5

Sunday, May 26, 2013

New Releases 5/28/13

Some of the new titles hitting shelves this week are:

The Eighth Court  by Mike Shevdon

The Blue Blazes by Chuck Wendig

The Last Camellia by Sarah Jio

The Bookman's Tale by Charlie Lovett

I'll Be Seeing You by Suzanne Hayes & Loretta Nyhan

The First Rule of Swimming by Courteney Angela Brkic

Something Wicked by Lisa Jackson & Nancy Bush

Cradle Lake by Ronald Malfi

A Half Forgotten Song by Katherine Web

The Corpse Reader by Antonio Garrido

Wounded Prey by Sean Lynch

The Keeper of Secrets by Julie Thomas

Point Doom by Dan Fante

The Geneva Option by Adam LeBor

A Hundred Summers by Beatriz Williams

Deeply Odd by Dean Koontz

Oh Dear Silvia by Dawn French

The Son by Philipp Meyer

A Conspiracy of Faith by Jussi Adler-Olsen

The Wonder Bread Summer by Jessica Anya Blau

The Broken Places by Ace Atkins

The Original 1982 by Lori Carson

The Shambling Guide to New York City by Mur Lafferty

Of Triton by Anna Banks

Dare You To by Kate McGarry

The Girl With the Iron Touch by Kady Cross

Monument 14: Sky on Fire by Emmy Laybourne

New on DVD:
Dark Skies
Numbers Station

New reviews at Bookbitch.com:
The Last Camellia
He's Gone by Deb Caletti

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Pre Pub Book Buzz: 3:59 by Gretchen McNeil

I'm bringing back Pre Pub Book Buzz -- or Books I'm Stoked About -- Saturdays! Why? Because there are always a ton of upcoming releases I can't wait to read and Saturdays are kind of a free day to do promote those.

Today I'm stoked about Gretchen McNeil's upcoming release 3:59! Here's they synopsis from Goodreads:

Josie Byrne's life is spiraling out of control. Her parents are divorcing, her boyfriend Nick has grown distant, and her physics teacher has it in for her. When she's betrayed by the two people she trusts most, Josie thinks things can't get worse.

Until she starts having dreams about a girl named Jo. Every night at the same time—3:59 a.m.

Jo's life is everything Josie wants: she's popular, her parents are happily married, and Nick adores her. It all seems real, but they're just dreams, right? Josie thinks so, until she wakes one night to a shadowy image of herself in the bedroom mirror – Jo. 

Josie and Jo realize that they are doppelgängers living in parallel universes that overlap every twelve hours at exactly 3:59. Fascinated by Jo's perfect world, Josie jumps at the chance to jump through the portal and switch places for a day.

But Jo’s world is far from perfect. Not only is Nick not Jo's boyfriend, he hates her. Jo's mom is missing, possibly insane. And at night, shadowy creatures feed on human flesh.

By the end of the day, Josie is desperate to return to her own life. But there’s a problem: Jo has sealed the portal, trapping Josie in this dangerous world. Can she figure out a way home before it’s too late?

Nice, right? 3:39 is set to hit shelves on September 17. 

Friday, May 24, 2013

Apocalypse Cow by Michael Logan

A book about zombie cows with Terry Pratchett's stamp of approval?! Yeah, you could say that Michael Logan's Apocalypse Cow one had me from the get go!

When livestock in the UK starts to literally bite back, everyone is screwed!

Terry thought his biggest problem was the constant smell of meat that lingered on him thanks to his job at McTavish & Sons, a slaughterhouse located just outside of Glasgow. But when the cows fight back one afternoon, Terry finds himself at the center of a massive conspiracy. He wakes after the event to find that he's survived but is now being held prisoner by one of the men behind the virus that's infected the beasts.

Geldof is one of those teens who can't seem to catch a break. On top of all the usual teen problems, his parents are weird - mom's a militant vegan and dad's a huge pot head who's rarely sober enough to know what's going on. Then Geldof narrowly escapes his own cow attack. Now the neighbors are holed up in his house with his own family trying to survive the cowpocalypse - awkward considering he's had a crush on his math teacher and neighbor for ages!

Lesley is a reporter who's just been sacked. Just before she goes, she lands a big scoop but before she can act, she too is taken prisoner by the same folks who've captured Terry. Together they manage to escape and also make their way to Geldof's family home, but they'll all have to survive long enough to break the story.

So it turns out it's not just the cows that these characters have to worry about. It's all the animals! There are dog attacks, swine attacks, even crazy squirrel attacks across the continent. And they aren't just super violent out to eat you attacks, turns out the virus kind of makes the animals horny. Yeah. This is another wildly inappropriately hilarious read.

If you're not a fan of gore, sick and twisted content, and jokes at the expense of just about everyone, then this is definitely not the book for you. If you do like those things, Apocalypse Cow should pretty much top your must read list! And given this is Logan's debut, I really can't wait to see what he does next.

Rating: 5/5

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

The Resurrectionist by E.B. Hudspeth

Yesterday marked the release of the latest cool and "quirky" title from Quirk books - E. B. Hudspeth's The Resurrectionist. One part dark and gothic storytelling and one part cryptozoological anatomy book, The Resurrectionist is all awesome!

In lieu of my usual synopsis and review, I thought I'd simply share some of the awesome art and the book's super spectacular trailer with you instead (Quirk has the most phenomenal book trailers ever in my opinion!).

These are some of the Sphinx pieces courtesy of the Quirk website:


Sweet, right?! And here's the trailer I mentioned:

Now run out and find a copy - you know you want to!

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Doctor Who: Only Human by Gareth Roberts + a Giveaway

Hello, Whovians! My second tour post today is part of the Doctor Who 50th anniversary tour! I'm up with Doctor 9 and Gareth Roberts's Only Human.

In honor of the upcoming 50th anniversary - yes, that's right, Doctor Who is turning 50!!! The folks over at BBC Books have re-released 13 classic Doctor Who titles with special anniversary cover treatments - one title for each Doctor - and a brand new Doctor Who trivia book, Who-Ology. In addition to today's post, I'll have three more posts throughout this tour (Doctors 7, 8, and 11).

I'm super stoked about this tour, ya'll! I love Doctor Who! My dad got me started on the show back in the PBS rerun days with Tom Baker (Doctor 4) and when the reboot with Christopher Eccleston began airing in the US I was pleased as punch. I never could get the schedule straight, though! Eventually I had to upgrade our cable to include BBCA (which I don't think I can live without now) just so we could watch the new Who.

In Only Human, Rose, Jack, and the Doctor end up traveling to Bromley in 2005 to investigate evidence of a temporal distortion. They arrive in time to rescue a Neanderthal named Das who's just about to be taken into military custody. Considering Neanderthals have been extinct for 28,000 years it's obvious the man is connected to the time rip. But how did a Neanderthal travel from a time with no time travel technology to present day England? The Doctor and Rose set off to find out while Jack is left with the task of helping Das learn to live in present-day London.

Oh, this was so much fun! I haven't actually read any of the novel tie-ins to the series before and I was happy to discover that it was exactly like "watching" a new Doctor Who adventure. And since Saturday was the last episode until November, it was a welcome experience indeed!

As a special bonus for you, I've got a bit of trivia from Who-Ology and a chance for you to win some Who stuff below!

Trivia: The Ninth Doctor's last words were: "Rose... before I go, I just wanna tell you, you were fantastic. Absolutely fantastic. And do you know what? So was I!"

To see all of the stops on the tour and a full list of the anniversary titles, visit the official TLC tour page here.

Now for the giveaway. Note, I've extended the giveaway deadline! The publisher is offering up winner's choice of either Gareth Roberts's Only Human or the new Who-Ology. Simply fill out the rafflecopter below between now and midnight, June 2 June 16 to enter. This contest is open internationally!

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All the Summer Girls by Meg Donohue

Morning, everyone! Today I'm on two tours. First up is Meg Donohue's All the Summer Girls. 

Best friends Kate, Vanessa, and Dani haven't gotten together in ages. They were supposed to be partying in Vegas to celebrate Kate's upcoming wedding, but now the groom has walked and it looks like the whole thing is off. As Kate struggles with her broken relationship and the discovery that she's pregnant, Vanessa has marriage issues of her own. And Dani, well... she's just been fired, again. It's Dani who suggests that the three of them keep their trip plans but move it to the Jersey Shore instead. It'll be a great chance for each of them to take a break and spend time together. But it'll also be the first time they've returned as a group to the place Kate's twin died so many years ago - an event none of them has truly recovered from and one they've all been keeping their own secrets about. 

After Donohue's How To Eat a Cupcake, I kind of expected something a little lighter in tone than All the Summer Girls. This is not to say that her debut was all that light and fluffy - I mentioned in my review of that one that I found it had quite a bit of welcome substance, but still, All the Summer Girls was definitely heavier in tone.

While I found I could easily sympathize with each of the characters at times, I also found that there were moments when I didn't completely like any of them. It's hard to be too critical of that considering it's all the lumps and bumps - or in this case personality quirks - that make the characters seem real. It was that lack of connection, though, paired with the weightiness of the book (and the fact that I'd read this one and He's Gone one right after another) that turned me off of this one a bit. I have to say this was a downer of a weekend in terms of reading!

Like He's Gone it was still a good read and one that I've no doubt lots of folks will enjoy. It was certainly bad timing on my part, though!

Rating: 3.5/5

To see other stops on the tour, check out the official TLC tour page here.

For more on Meg Donohue and her work, visit her website here. You can also like her on Facebook and follow her on Twitter.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday: Favorite Book Covers

I've decided to jump on board with Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week the topic is: Favorite Book Covers!

Since I am very drawn to great cover design, this is going to be super fun! I'm not sure how I'll narrow it to just ten, though :) (I'm going to try to include cover credits where I can.)

1. The Spirit Ring by Lois McMaster Bujold - you can't tell from the image here, but that ring is a shiny, silvery-gold. I used to troll the library bookshelves for shiny spines - I took this as an indication that it was a new book and therefore likely not to be something I'd seen on the shelves before. When I came across The Spirit Ring, and pulled that shiny new spine out to find the shinier - and kind of creepy- ring (illustrated I believe by Steven Hickman) on the front, I was sold! (It was a good pick, the book remains one of my favorites of all time!). Sadly this cover on the Baen hardcover edition with Carol Russo's design is no longer available and the ebook cover really doesn't inspire. 

2. The Replacement by Brenna Yovanoff - this cover just screamed, "You have to have me!" when I saw it. Yovanoff includes the cover credits in her FAQ, photographer Jonathan Barkat and designer Natalie Sousa.

3. Bitter Seeds by Ian Tregillis - I completely adored the original cover of this book. I know it's been redesigned and it's fine but this original with art by John Jude Palencar was so fabulous! 

 (I don't have any of the below on hand to include credits, unfortunately.)

4. Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs - the whole design of this book is fabulous but the cover is so eerie. Again it was one that I had to know more about as soon as I saw that cover. 

5. The Town That Forgot How to Breathe by Kenneth J. Harvey - this book was so weird and the cover perfectly conveys that weirdness! 

6. Ritual by Mo Hayder - this is the UK cover and it seems that all of the UK covers were revamped to suit this style at one point. I love it - I think it's utterly fantastic! I actually do own a copy with this treatment but can't get to it to find the credits. 

7. The Glass Books of the Dream Eaters by Gordon Dahlquist - I've really loved each different version of this cover that I've come across. I can't find the particular edition I own and it wouldn't matter because the picture would never convey the full effect, but this cover is a great one as well. 

8. Carrion Comfort by Dan Simmons - this one is a bit of a cheat because I've not finished reading it. I wanted to include it here because I so love everything about this cover and this style of horror covers from the late 80s and early 90s. The rereleased cover on this one is so dull by comparison. 

9. Wither by Lauren DeStefano - I don't know what it is about this cover that makes it so haunting but it's definitely a favorite of mine. 

10. 172 Hours on the Moon by Johan Harstad - holy moly, I don't know which version of this one is creepier, the hardcover or the paperback! This is the hardcover but the pb is equally as good. 

He's Gone by Deb Caletti

Morning, readers! Today, I'm a stop on the TLC blog tour for Deb Caletti's He's Gone.

Dani Keller's husband is gone. She woke up to find his side of the bed empty. At first, she thought he'd simply run out for coffee. As time passed, she thought maybe he'd run into a friend or been held up in some way. By that afternoon, she knows something is wrong. She finds his car still parked nearby and nothing is missing except his phone, his wallet, and the clothes he was wearing the night before. No one has seen him or heard from him. Days go by without word and the police are stumped. Has Ian had an accident or has he simply left her?

I have really mixed feelings about this one! He's Gone is a great read. Deb Caletti's writing - especially where her characters are concerned - is excellent. Really top notch! The complexities of relationships, the heartwrenching journey Dani takes emotionally as she faces the fact that her husband is gone, and the mystery as to his fate pull the reader along in a way that makes it impossible to put this book down. But man is it a downer! Holy moly! I really found myself dreading getting to the end of this one.

There's a definite ominous tone to the book, in my opinion. And honestly, I had considered what turns out to be the truth about Ian's disappearance early on. I was never quite sure if I'd figured it out, though.

Anyway, a great read but one you probably should prepare yourself for emotionally.

Rating: 4/5

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

For more on Deb and her work, visit her website here. You can also like her on Facebook, or follow her on Twitter.