Monday, September 1, 2014

Intruders by Michael Marshall

Longtime followers will know by now that I've got a pretty big BBC addiction going. I guess I'm actually an official Anglophile, all things considered. Anyway, as a fairly longtime reader of Michael Marshall Smith's work I was really excited to see that one of his books was getting the small screen treatment! And it was one that I hadn't yet read.

Intruders, starring John Simm and Mira Sorvino, premiered Saturday, August 23, just after the new Doctor Who and I was determined to read the book first. I did succeed in part, reading enough to get me beyond the storyline of that first episode before tuning in. But I have to say this, the newest trailer for the show included a pretty big spoiler for readers, in my opinion.

I won't tell you what it is because if your curiosity is piqued and you'd like to read the book first you'll discover that part of the magic in Marshall's storytelling is the mystery surrounding what's really happening in the story.

Jack Whalen is surprised when an old schoolmate shows up on his doorstep asking for help. Jack, an ex-cop, feels the man's excuse for dropping by is fairly thin - a woman and her son murdered in Seattle and a connection to an estate being settled. It seems clear to Jack that the husband did it, so he shares his opinion and sends his old peer on his way. Before he can ponder over the visit any further, Jack becomes aware that something strange is going on with is wife. In an attempt to find out more, he follows her trail to Seattle and soon becomes part of an investigation that seems to tie directly into the murders. But things are more bizarre than Jack could ever imagine and while he searches for answers a little girl who's not quite what she seems is making her own way to the city, leaving a trail of bodies in her wake. 

I finished reading this one just before the second episode aired and it's really difficult not to compare the two. On the one hand I did love the fact that the real plot is kept closely hidden up until the end of the book. On the other hand the end plays out so quickly that I rather like the fact that the show is leaving more hints along the way.

In the grand scheme of Michael Marshall Smith's work I don't think The Intruders is going down as my favorite. It's maybe middle of the road in that it was fun and it was definitely compelling but the end didn't live up to my expectations based on the build of the story itself or the author's other works. I can't say yet whether I'll actually end up preferring the book or the show since there are still more episodes to come, but so far I think I'm finding the show just a bit more satisfying. Unusual to be sure.

Rating: 3/5

(Michael Marshall Smith writes under both that name and Michael Marshall. The Intruders was pubbed under Michael Marshall.)

Sunday, August 31, 2014

New Releases 9/2/14

Some of the new titles hitting shelves this week are:

Maplecroft by Cherie Priest

Keep Your Friends Close by Paula Daly

Seven Wonders by Ben Mezrich

Murder 101 by Faye Kellerman

The Secret Place by Tana French

Personal by Lee Child

The Lewis Man by Peter may

Night of the White Buffalo by Margaret Coel

Season of Storms by Susanna Kearsley

Fall of Night by Jonathan Maberry

The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell

The Barter by Siobhan Adcock

Shifting Shadows by Patricia Briggs

Acceptance by Jeff VanderMeer

An Italian Wife by Ann Hood

The Fatal Tree by Stephen R. Lawhead

Sleeping Late on Judgement Day by Tad Williams

Somewhere Safe with Somebody Good by Jan Karon

The Golden Princess by S. M. Stirling

The Alliance by Shannon Stoker

Trial By Fire by Josephine Angelini

Heir of Fire by Sarah J. Maas

Anatomy of a Misfit by Andrea Portes

New on DVD:
Cabin Fever: Patient Zero
They Came Together

New reviews at
Third Rail by Rory Flynn
Traitor's Blade by Sebastien de Castell
Abroad by Katie Crouch

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Pre Pub Book Buzz: Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

It seems just about everyone is talking about Emily St. John Mandel's upcoming book - and you can add me to the list! It sounds utterly fabulous and is definitely on my must have list for September.

Here's a bit about the book from Goodreads:

One snowy night a famous Hollywood actor slumps over and dies onstage during a production of King Lear. Hours later, the world as we know it begins to dissolve. Moving back and forth in time-from the actor's early days as a film star to fifteen years in the future, when a theater troupe known as the Traveling Symphony roams the wasteland of what remains-this suspenseful, elegiac, spellbinding novel charts the strange twists of fate that connect five people: the actor, the man who tried to save him, the actor's first wife, his oldest friend, and a young actress with the Traveling Symphony, caught in the crosshairs of a dangerous self-proclaimed prophet. Sometimes terrifying, sometimes tender, Station Eleven tells a story about the relationships that sustain us, the ephemeral nature of fame, and the beauty of the world as we know it.

Emily St. John Mandel is the author of Last Night in Montreal, The Lola Quartet, and The Singer's Gun. Station Eleven is due out September 9 from Knopf.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Short Fiction Friday: The Mysterious Madam Morpho by Delilah S. Dawson

I've decided I'm going to devote free Fridays to short fiction of some kind! I have a massive list of bookmarked Tor shorts as well as piles of collections and anthologies to get to - and lots of e shorts saved up on the e reader as well. So here goes - kicking it off with Delilah S. Dawson!

Madam Morpho arrived at Criminy Stain's Clockwork Caravan with little to her name, but she promised an act unlike any other. Even without Tish's help, Stain knows the woman is hiding something, but then who with the caravan isn't? With one touch, Tish can tell that Madam Morpho will be a fine addition and Stain agrees to take her on. 

Madam Morpho's act requires props, though, and for this Stain sends her to Mr. Murdoch, the caravan's clockwork master. No one in the caravan save Stain and Murdoch's assistant, Vil, have ever set eyes on the man - Madam Morpho is to be the first and the meeting unsettles them both. Before long they find that they share a passion as well as secrets that could endanger them both. 

Dawson's Blud series is seriously fun! The world - filled with bloodsucking creatures and people - is deliciously intriguing and I am enjoying every taste! The Mysterious Madam Morpho is the first of the Blud novellas and takes place post Wicked as They Come, but instead of focusing on Criminy and Letitia, we meet Madam Morpho (and her butterflies) and Mr. Murdoch. Dawson nicely paces the story, enticing the reader with teases and hints as to the truth behind both their secrets along the way. The romance develops somewhat quickly, but overall their story is still quite enjoyable.

Sang is such a rich world to play with that it's nice to return to it with extras like these. I wouldn't really consider the shorts and novellas so far to be necessary to the series as a whole but they are all nice in-between tales and a fun bonus to series fans.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Flings by Justin Taylor

Hi, all! Today I'm a stop on the TLC book tour for Justin Taylor's debut collection, Flings.

People young and old face all kinds of choices. Decisions that will affect their lives not only immediately but just as much further down the line. Friends newly graduated and deciding what to do next; a couple about to get married and facing down secrets from their past; a divorced father spending an evening with his grown children... these are just a few examples of the stories in Justin Taylor's new collection. 

I think there's a certain amount of discomfort I felt in reading these stories. Most of the characters are drifting, much in the way I imagine a lot of older twenty-somethings and thirty-somethings are. It's being faced with the very truth of today's post-college reality that's unsettling to someone like me and so with that in mind I can't say that I enjoyed these stories.

In terms of being realistic, well written, and effective, however, Justin Taylor most certainly has accomplished that. All of the people are well drawn and real. There's a depth to them that is intriguing. It makes you wonder - is the sign twirler on the corner skimming off the top? Is the person next to you on the airplane making a run for it from his longtime love? And what about that happy family in the corner booth of the restaurant - is there some dark tragedy that mars their past?

Rating: 3/5

To see more stops on the tour be sure to check out the official TLC tour page here. For more on Justin and his work you can visit his website here and follow him on Twitter.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Imitation by Heather Hildenbrand

Just last month, Amazon Publishing and Alloy Entertainment announced that they were teaming up to create a new digital first imprint focused on young adult, new adult, and commercial fiction. 

Here's a bit more about the new venture:

The new imprint, named Alloy Entertainment, will be part of Amazon Publishing’s Powered by Amazon program. Powered by Amazon enables publishers and authors to leverage Amazon’s global distribution and personalized, targeted marketing reach. 

“One of our strengths is working with talented authors to create and develop properties that have mass entertainment appeal,” said Leslie Morgenstein, President of Alloy Entertainment. “This program is an exciting extension of our business and will allow us to leverage Amazon’s ability to distribute to an incredibly diverse and broad readership.”

The announcement was paired with the release of the imprint's first three titles - Every Ugly Word by Aimee Salter, Rebel Wing by Tracy Banghart, and the one I'm covering today, Imitation by Heather Hildenbrand.

Ven was born and raised in Twig City. Just five years old, and yet a full grown teen, she was created as an Imitation: a perfect copy of someone living in the outside world, an Authentic. From day one Ven is taught to mimic her Authentic in language, behavior, and manner, all in preparation of one day being needed. When her Authentic is publicly attacked, Ven is sent to stand in until the criminals can be caught. 

But all the training in the world could never prepare Ven for being Raven Rogen. Ven is her own person, and she's nothing like Raven. Pretending takes every ounce of her concentration, but she's willing to do it until she can find a way to escape. 

I've been in a mood of late, readers. A bit of a blah mood. It happens to the best of us and for me, while it makes it harder to settle on a book, the kind of escape I get out of a good book is exactly what I need. I can say that while I wasn't blown away by Imitation (and some of that can be chalked up to the mood) it did provide the kind of escape I was craving. 

The story takes place in a futuristic setting wherein the ├╝ber rich can afford genetic clones for whatever purposes they can think of. The clones - or imitations - are supposed to be exact copies and so they spend much of their time observing their Authentic. The idea is that no one will know the difference between the Authentic and the Imitation. This is particularly difficult for Ven because Raven is pretty much a self-absorbed snob. 

I liked Ven and I liked the setting. I thought Hildenbrand did a pretty good job putting together a believable situation as well - someone is after Raven and it's up to Ven to be the bait until that person can be caught. There's much more to the story, of course, and Ven realizes that as soon as she steps foot outside Twig City. 

I wasn't surprised or really wowed at any point during the story, but I did enjoy it. There was a nice twist at the end and a super cliffhanger that makes it clear there's more to come. Imitation is technically a reprint so early readers likely have already read the follow up, Deviation. The Alloy Entertainment edition is due out in December. 

Rating: 3.5/5

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Top Ten Tuesday: Books I Really Want to Read but Don't Own Yet

I've decided to jump on board with Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week the topic is: books I'm dying to read but don't actually own.

I'm going to limit it to books that are out already - there are WAY too many in the wish list otherwise.

1. A Simple Plan by Scott Smith - Smith was praised by no less that Stephen King himself when this book released. I've read (and loved) The Ruins so there's no real reason for me not to have bought this one yet except that I have so many others to get to in my TBR right now. 

2. Blueeyedboy by Joanne Harris - I adore Harris's work but this is one of her few titles yet to be released here in the States. It is available through Book Depository but I haven't gotten around to ordering it yet. 

3. Crackpot Palace by Jeffrey Ford - his The Shadow Year was completely brilliant, so of course Ford's short story collection is in my must have list. 

4. Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea by April Genevieve Tucholke - I've heard nothing but great things about this book and have had it on my wish list since it released. Now there's a second one out that I need to add to the list as well!

5. The Osiris Ritual by George Mann - there are now four books in this series out with a fifth one coming. I've read the first book in this series and really quite enjoyed it. I just haven't bought this follow up yet. 

6. Blythewood by Carol Goodman - I've not yet read Goodman's titles as Juliet Dark but I do love her work as Carol Goodman. This one is her first teen outing and I've so far heard very little about it. It's probably in my next round of book buying :)

7. The Elementals by Michael McDowell - this one was highly recommended by another author I read. I recently found out that it was reprinted and is available once again. Yay! Another one that'll be in the next batch I buy. 

8. Hollow City by Ransom Riggs - this falls under the I-don't-know-why-I-don't-have-this-yet header! I loved Miss Peregrine's and had Hollow City added to the wish list before I'd even finished the first one. And yet, I don't have it!

9. Motherless Child by Glen Hirshberg - ok, so the reason I don't have MOST of these is just that I haven't bought them yet. I've tried to make myself a deal - I'll buy more when I finish a large enough chunk of the current TBR. 

10. Visions by Kelley Armstrong - I haven't read the first in this series yet but I already know I want to buy this latest as soon as I can.