Monday, September 29, 2014

The Imaginary Life by Mara Torres

Good morning, everyone! Today I'm a stop on the TLC book tour for Mara Torres's The Imaginary Life.

Beto told Nata that he needed some time. He suggested a temporary break and temporary is all Nata expected it would be. But Beto doesn't return Nata's calls and everyone says she should just get over him and move on. Nata sometimes imagines what it will be like when they see each other. She imagines what he's been doing while they've been apart. Eventually she even begins to imagine a life without him. 

The Imaginary Life is a nice little read, one many of us can likely identify with. It begins with Nata journaling her life post breakup, obviously pining over him in spite of her friends and her therapist suggesting it's time to move on. But moving on is hard! Especially when the other person leaves you hanging as Beto does here. And yet, things do get easier for Nata.

Nata's voice - via Mara Torres's writing - speaks to pretty much any woman who's ever gone through a breakup. Any woman who's ever wondered what the other person is thinking, what the other person is doing, if the other person is thinking of them the same way.

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

Sunday, September 28, 2014

New Releases 9/30/14

Some of the new titles hitting shelves this week are:

You by Caroline Kepnes

The Haunting Ballad by Michael Nethercott

Proof Positive by Archer Mayor

Consumed by David Cronenberg

The Zone of Interest by Martin Amis

The Brothers Cabal by Jonathan L. Howard

A Sudden Light by Garth Stein

A Perfect Witness by Iris Johansen

Good House by Peyton Marshall

The Assassination of Margaret Thatcher by Hilary Mantel

The Wonder of All Things by Jason Mott

Aunty Lee's Deadly Specials by Ovidia Yu

The Madness of July by James Naughtie

Mean Business on North Ganson Street by S. Craig Zahler

A Brief History of Seven Killings by Marlon James

The Lost Key by Catherine Coulter & J.T. Ellison

Mr. Bones: Twenty Stories by Paul Theroux

Only the Dead by Vidar Sundstol

The Lives of Others by Neel Mukherjee

French Pastry Murder by Leslie Meier

Lies We Tell Ourselves by Robin Talley

The Queen of Zombie Hearts by Gena Showalter

Belzhar by Meg Wolitzer

Unmarked by Kami Garcia

Party Games by R.L. Stine (Fear Street!)

New on DVD:
Cold In July
The Pretty One
Are You Here

New reviews at
In a Handful of Dust by Mindy McGinnis
No Time to Die by Kira Peikoff
Sparrow Hill Road by Seanan McGuire

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Pre Pub Book Buzz: Stiletto by Daniel O'Malley

OMG! The sequel to one of my FAVORITE debuts is finally coming out!!!

Daniel O'Malley's The Rook hit shelves January 2011 and I've been pining away for a sequel ever since. It's just such a very cool book and a very cool premise for a series that I couldn't imagine it not continuing. And now, at long last, there's a sequel due out! Stiletto is set to be released February 2015 from the good folks at Little, Brown.

Here's a bit about it from Goodreads:

In this spirited sequel to the acclaimed The Rook, Myfanwy Thomas returns to clinch an alliance between deadly rivals and avert epic -- and slimy -- supernatural war.

When secret organizations are forced to merge after years of enmity and bloodshed, only one person has the fearsome powers---and the bureaucratic finesse---to get the job done. Facing her greatest challenge yet, Rook Myfanwy Thomas must broker a deal between two bitter adversaries:

The Checquy---the centuries-old covert British organization that protects society from supernatural threats, and...

The Grafters---a centuries-old supernatural threat.

But as bizarre attacks sweep London, threatening to sabotage negotiations, old hatreds flare. Surrounded by spies, only the Rook and two women who absolutely hate each other, can seek out the culprits before they trigger a devastating otherworldly war.

I would show you the happy dance this news brought about but... yeah. Mark your calendars, folks! February 10 looks like the day. In the meantime, if you haven't treated yourself to The Rook, I highly suggest you do so immediately :)

Friday, September 26, 2014

Short Fiction Friday: All You Zombies by Robert A. Heinlein

I recently came across a trailer for a new movie from the Spierig brothers and decided to seek out the source story - to aid in my attempt to read more sci-fi in general and more classic sci-fi in particular. The movie is called Predestination and stars Ethan Hawke as "the Bartender" a time traveling cop. You can check out the trailer on IMDB here - I'll wait.

Looks cool, right? It played at this year's South by Southwest and apparently did really well. Well enough, in fact, to get picked up for distribution.

A quick look-see at the movie's dets shows that it is in fact based on a short story penned by Robert A. Heinlein and published back in 1959 (if Wikipedia is to be trusted) in Fantasy and Science Fiction magazine. BTW, don't read the actual Wikipedia breakdown of the story if you want the story or movie to be any sort of surprise.

"All You Zombies" is weird and cool and super bizarre. It's also extremely short. Supposedly, though, the Spierig brothers have stuck close to their inspiration while also fleshing out and obviously adding more of an investigation plot.

In the short, the Bartender is set on recruiting a character called the Unmarried Mother. The Unmarried Mother has a troubled past that is revealed to the Bartender during their talk - over drinks - with the Bartender ultimately suggesting he can help the Unmarried Mother in gaining some vengeance or closure. In exchange, the Unmarried Mother will sign on as a fellow temporal agent. 

It's hard to say much about the story without completely ruining it, and I do feel a bit of a sense of regret in now knowing at least part of the movie plot as well. I'm sure there's lots that can be debated about the story, but all in all it's a time travel paradox story. Everything in the story hinges on specific events that must happen via time travel.

I'm not sure how I really want to rate this read. On the one hand I know it's a classic of the genre and Heinlein is a HUGE name in said genre as well. On the other hand it's just such a weird story! It might require another read through before seeing the film.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

In a Handful of Dust by Mindy McGinnis

Holy crap, Vegas! Soylent Green is people!

If you've read Mindy McGinnis's latest you'll know what I mean (even if you don't get the seventies cultural reference there). This follow up/companion to Not a Drop to Drink was rough! Not bad rough, just hard to read at some points. But what would I expect after Not a Drop to Drink, right?

Lucy is sixteen and she, Lynn, and Stebbs are now part of a small but thriving community. Lucy even has a boyfriend of sorts in her friend's brother, Carter. But when a polio outbreak hits it seems the only traceable connection to the infected is Carter - and Lucy. Lucy's grandmother knows something about the virus but not enough to ensure that either of the teens is or isn't the cause or, if they are carriers, how long the virus will be active. 

Carter is exiled and Lynn decides it's time for her and Lucy to move on as well. They've heard rumors that desalination plants in California have made ocean water drinkable. The lure of limitless water and no more harsh winters sets the two women on a trek that could cost them their lives, but the promise of a future filled with such hope is too much to resist.

Readers, don't make the same mistake I did in reading this one concurrently with Edan Lepucki's California! I've been doing that one on audio so going back and forth between the two stories quickly became unmanageable. Fortunately for me In a Handful of Dust proved to be just as quick of a read as Not a Drop to Drink and I wrapped it up in one Saturday afternoon. 

It is a tough world to be so completely submerged in for that period of time! And I do mean submerged. There were times when I'd come out of the story almost gasping for breath. It was jarring turning the final page and easing back into real life. 

I blame this on the truly treacherous path that McGinnis places her characters on. Some of it is par for the course now in both post-apocalyptic settings and survival stories. Let's face it, two women on the road are going to likely come up against at least some of the same dangers (let's play Adam and Eve, y'all! Ick!). And yet McGinnis does add in some things I've not yet come across (what happens in Vegas...).

In a Handful of Dust is a sequel to Not A Drop to Drink - same world, same characters, further into the future than that story. But you don't have to have read that first installment to dive into this one. I would warn, however, that much of Lynn's character development is left to Not a Drop to Drink. Readers skipping out on that one likely won't feel they know her character very well based on just In a Handful of Dust.

Rating: 5/5

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Peter Pan Must Die by John Verdon

Dave Gurney is back in this fourth installment of John Verdon's series.

It's been just a few months since Gurney helped solve the Good Shepherd case. Just a few months since his consulting led to Jack Hardwick's forced retirement from the NYSP. Jack has been left with something of an axe to grind over the whole thing and Gurney is well aware that he owes him. So when Jack approaches him with a new plan, Gurney has little choice but to go along. 

Jack is set on starting up as a PI and he has his eye on a high profile case as his first. Kay Spalter was convicted of killing her husband, Carl, and is serving a life sentence. Jack has inside information proving negligence in the investigation and, with the help of a top-notch attorney and Gurney, plans to get the case overturned. As Gurney begins to investigate, it becomes clear that there are definite questions about Kay's guilt and the case against her. With mob links, corrupt cops, and a seriously dysfunctional family at the root of the case, Gurney has plenty of leads to look into. Strangely, though, one unidentified person keeps appearing at every turn. Is this the real killer? And if so what is the motive behind Carl Spalter's murder?

John Verdon is a master at creating whip quick puzzlers! Gurney, dubbed a super cop, has excellent observation skills - skills that fortunately don't come across as over the top. It's quite easy, as a reader, to follow his train of thought and the various details to his conclusions.

In Peter Pan Must Die, Jack is something of a roadblock. He's determined to prove negligence - a clear effort to enact some revenge on the very people who penalized him for bringing Gurney in on their former case. And yet, as Gurney begins to find clues suggesting Kay Spalter's innocence, Jack seems almost unwilling to listen. He's not out to prove her innocence, he's out to prove the guilt of the police!

I love the interactions and relationships between Gurney and the other characters. The tension between him and his wife over his continued involvement in investigations in spite of his retirement (which is actually quite accepting on her part). Gurney's feelings about Jack, "it's complicated" about sums it up. There's a definite care and attention in the development of the characters in this series that I appreciate as a fan.

I kind of feel like the Dave Gurney series is one that doesn't get as much attention as it deserves. I really do recommend checking it out, even if you dive in with this latest, as Verdon has created something here that rivals the best of the mystery/thriller genre!

Per Blogging for Books requirements: I received this book for free from Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest review.

The Banks of Certain Rivers by Jon Harrison + a Giveaway

Good morning, everyone! I had to bring this post back in light of the author's new edition and publishing deal. An author whose work I very much enjoy and whose opinion on books I very much respect, recommended Harrison's self-published book last year in her efforts to help spread the word. Since then, Harrison's book has been acquired by Lake Union Publishing and a brand spanking new edition hit shelves yesterday. So for all of you new readers, heads up - you're going to want to check this one out! (Psst, I get to offer up a copy for giveaway - read through to the bottom to enter!)

Neil Kazenzakis doesn't exactly have it easy: he's a high school teacher with a teenage son he's been raising on his own since his wife was hospitalized a few years ago. Neil and his son, Chris, are doing their best. Chris does well in school and is planning to start college in a year. But Neil has been in a relationship for the past two years, something he's been careful to keep from his son out of fear of how he will react. Just when he's ready to finally come clean, Neil is accused of beating up a student. A scandalizing YouTube video is all the proof most people need of the event, but Neil stands by his side of the story. The video's account isn't what really happened. Suspended while the event is investigated, Neil's world is further shaken by the threat of losing his job and the insurance that pays for his wife's long term care.

While the story is playing out, there are emails addressed to Neil's wife interspersed throughout the story. It's his journal of sorts and gives readers further insight into the various things Neil struggles with. His friend Alan serves as a good sounding board for some of these issues, but Neil spends a lot of time hiding things from those around him - not really for his own sake but to protect the people he loves from the things he thinks might hurt them. Neil puts up a good front, but it wears on him and as the story progresses he starts to crack.

Neil reminisces about his life, his marriage, his family, and his friends throughout the story as well. It's worked into the narrative in a way that it doesn't at all hinder the flow of the story, which has a great pacing. Harrison's prose is very smooth, the kind of story that sweeps you along so that you don't even notice how much time has passed when you next look up from the page.

Harrison's characters and their relationships are the driving force of this story. Without such fantastic characterization, the story would still have been a good story but the characters make it more relatable and human.

Rating: 4.5/5

For more on Jon and his work you can check out the book's official website here. You can also like him on Facebook and follow him on Twitter.

As promised, I do have a copy to give away. To enter simply fill out the Rafflecopter below before Monday, October 13. Open US only - no PO boxes please.

a Rafflecopter giveaway