Tuesday, December 8, 2015

2 A.M. at the Cat's Pajamas by Marie-Helene Bertino

Released: August 2014

2 A.M. at the Cat's Pajamas by Marie-Helene Bertino couldn't have been more of a perfect pick for the holiday season. The entire novel takes place on the eve of Christmas Eve, and focuses on three main characters searching for love and life fulfillment in the wintry, snow-covered streets of Philadelphia. This novel is super original and incredibly witty, and I couldn't read it fast enough!

Sunday, November 8, 2015

The Dinner by Herman Koch

Released: February 2013

Herman Koch's The Dinner is one of those novels that takes place entirely in one evening (throughout a family dinner!). I LOVE books written in this format since they're usually relatively fast-paced. Let me say that The Dinner is excellent -- I breezed through this novel in just under two days, and you will, too!

Dreadful dinner plans

The novel opens with narrator Paul Lohman arriving at a fancy restaurant with his wife, Claire. The couple has plans to meet with Paul's annoying, high-maintenance politician brother Serge and his wife Babette. Both couples have 15-year-old sons who are best friends; but, unfortunately, both teens have committed a horrible, unspeakable crime that could land the boys in jail for the rest of their lives. The purpose of the dinner is to discuss how the matter should be handled, and for both couples to come to an agreement about their son's futures.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Urban Gothic by Brian Keene

Released: August 2009

Brian Keene is one of my favorite horror novelists, so of course I couldn't resist picking up Urban Gothic when I found it in the bookstore. I flew through this novel in two days! I absolutely loved it. A great prelude to Halloween.

White suburban teens get stranded in the ghetto

After attending a hip-hop concert somewhere in Philadelphia, three teenage girls and their boyfriends are stranded in a broken-down, low-income neighborhood when their car breaks down during a wild goose chase for a bag of weed. While trying to fix their car, the teens are frightened away by a group of scary-looking black teens who only wanted to help. Desperate to get away, the teens escape to a nearby deserted, boarded-up house.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Smoke by Catherine McKenzie

Released: October 2015

I've been a huge fan of Catherine McKenzie since I first read Spin back in 2012 (here's my review for Spin). Her protagonists are always incredibly familiar, personable, and intelligent, and it's never too difficult for me to relate to each and every one of them.

Smoke is McKenzie's newest release, and hits the shelves October 20.

Another scary wildfire in the Rocky Mountains

After having spent years in the field putting out dangerous wildfires, Elizabeth is now living a more low-key life as an arson investigator for Nelson County in the Rocky Mountains. When Elizabeth wakes up to the not-so-distant smell of smoke, she soon learns that an out-of-control wildfire is threatening her home and small town. While local residents point the finger at the gentle, innocent old man who lost his house to the fire, Elizabeth suspects that a group of defiant teens are to blame for starting the fire. Caught in the middle of the investigation is Elizabeth's ex-best friend Mindy, the mother of one of the boys suspected to have started the fire.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Chosen by P.C. Cast and Kristin Cast

Released: March 2008

Chosen is the third book in the House of Night vampyre series by the Cast mother and daughter duo. It's getting REALLY hard for me to take a break from this series. It's just so fun! I'm loving the story so far. Like I mentioned previously in my review for Betrayed, I'm completely hooked!

Taking care of undead dead Stevie Rae

Chosen picks up shortly after the ending of Betrayed. It's Christmas time, and Zoey's friends are throwing her a birthday party, or "Birthmas" party. Zoey is desperately trying to enjoy her birthday celebration, but there's still so much going on behind the scenes for Z.

First of all, Zoey is still juggling her feelings for three different men: Erik Night, Loren Blake, and Heath -- the human with whom she's managed to Imprint. Second, Zoey is still working on coming to terms with the fact that her best friend Stevie Rae is dead -- or, at least, "undead dead," meaning the country gal is still technically alive, but without a soul. Third, Zoey must continue to keep High Priestess Neferet at arm's length, considering Neferet cannot be trusted and is confirmed to be the evil mastermind killing off vampyre fledglings and turning them into soulless, bloodsucking creatures like Stevie Rae.

Friday, September 4, 2015

Betrayed by P.C. Cast and Kristin Cast

Released: October 2007

Betrayed is the second novel in the House of Night series by P.C. Cast and daughter Kristin. I've already fallen in love with this series but sadly, the novels are far too short! (This one sat at a fast-paced 310 pages.) I'm so excited I've got book #3 on deck (Chosen), which I'm considering tackling next after writing this review!

Zoey settles into her new role as Dark Daughters leader

Betrayed picks up only weeks later from the ending of Marked. Vampyre fledgling Zoey Redbird has settled into a good rhythm with school and is happy with her new group of friends. She's still seeing gorgeous vampyre upper-classman Erik, and has even found herself flirting with Loren, the much older and incredibly handsome poetry teacher at House of Night. Zoey even manages to forge a somewhat-friendship with arch enemy Aphrodite -- a beautiful but venomous blond and former leader of the Dark Daughters.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

The Hard Way by Lee Child

Released: May 2006

It's been a few years since I reviewed anything by Lee Child, and that's mainly because I allowed Tom Cruise to ruin Jack Reacher's character for me (temporarily, at least). It's taken me this long to get over it, especially since having finished One Shot, which is the book on which the Jack Reacher film was based. Now, I can happily move on and pray they don't make another Reacher movie starring Tom Cruise.

The Hard Way, which is the 10th book in the Jack Reacher series, is one of the best Reacher novels I've read yet. This novel pretty much redeemed my bad experience with One Shot.

Monday, August 31, 2015

Marked by P.C. Cast and Kristin Cast

Released: May 2007

Marked is the first novel in the House of Night series written by P.C. Cast and her daughter, Kristin Cast. As a years-long, die-hard fan of L.J. Smith's The Vampire Diaries, I typically tend to shy away from most other teen vampire series (because I'm just never satisfied!). But after having purchased the first several books in the House of Night series for a bargain, I decided to give it a whirl.

Vampyres live among us!

In an alternate reality created by the Cast duo, "vampyres" have always existed. Select teenagers become fledgling vampyres after being "Marked" with colorful tattoos on their faces by some mysterious higher being. After they become Marked, teens are removed from public school and sent to a boarding school known as the House of Night, where they're trained to embrace and understand the ways of vampyres.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Pork by Cris Freddi

Released: 1981

My copy of Pork, featured at the left, was released in 1983. The artwork is fun -- I purchased this novel from the sci-fi/fantasy section at my local bookstore. I hunted down Pork after looking up "humorous fantasy novels" on the Internet, and I think I found this title on a Goodreads list somewhere. Sci-fi and fantasy aren't usually my go-to genres, but when I do read fantasy, I tend to enjoy the goofy picks.

Sunday, August 2, 2015

The Association by Bentley Little

Released: September 2001

I usually devote the entire autumn season to horror, but this year, I've gotten an early start. Bentley Little is another horror novelist I can't stop obsessing about. His work is so creepy.

Check out the back cover synopsis for The Association. Isn't the summary irresistible?

Congratulations, Barry and Maureen: You've been approved by the Association and are encouraged to move into your exclusive gated community as soon as possible. Please be aware that we reserve the right to approve your decor, your landscaping, your friends, and your job. All relationships with neighbors should be avoided. Any interference from the outside will not be tolerated. Any attempt to leave will be stopped. Any infraction of the rules could result in severe fines, physical punishment, or death. Please send all other inquiries to the house on the hill. Preferably before dark. P.S. You're being watched.


Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Long Lost by David Morrell

Released: May 2002

I became a fan of David Morrell after reading Creepers back in 2011. Since then, I've been building up a small collection of Morrell's backlist. This past weekend I read Long Lost, and now I definitely want to read everything else on Morrell's backlist. The novel took me about a day and a half to finish; I couldn't stop obsessing about it. Just like Creepers, Long Lost is fast-paced and engaging, and I was eager to get to the end so I could see if the good guy kicks the bad guy's ass.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

The Lock Artist by Steve Hamilton

photo by: authorstevehamilton.com
Released: January 2010

The Lock Artist has won the Edgar Award for Best Novel, and has been on my wish list since its release. I was thrilled the day I finally found a copy, and it wasn't on my bookshelf for too long before I decided to dive into it.

Miracle Boy in prison

The Lock Artist is narrated by Mike, a young man sentenced to life in prison for his role as a boxman, or safe cracker, in a series of heists. Mike has been mute since he was eight years old, when a terrible family tragedy should have resulted in his death. After being unable to open the safe for a robber at his uncle's liquor store, Mike develops an interest in learning how to pick locks. After several years and lots of practice at lock-picking, 17-year-old Mike gets talked into breaking into the home of a local high school jock. After getting caught, Mike must redeem himself by performing odd jobs for Mr. Marsh -- the man whose house Mike broke into.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Slither by Edward Lee

photo by Amazon.com
Released: November 2006

I grabbed Slither from my bookshelf with high hopes of indulging in splatterpunk. This is the first novel I've ever read by Edward Lee, and I'm happy to say I loved it, and I'm looking forward to reading The Golem and Infernal Angel --  both of which are already on standby at Mt. TBR.

Though Slither is plenty violent and terrifying, I was hoping it would be a bit more splatterpunky than it was. But the novel's ending is wholly satisfying and justifies everything...I can't wait to read more of Edward Lee's backlist.

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Death Instinct by Bentley Little

Released: 1992

Death Instinct is Bentley Little's third novel, and was originally released under Little's pen name, Phillip Emmons. This novel is superb; it seems as if the horror genre in general was at its peak during the 1990s. If you want to feel horrified, shocked, grossed out, or (insert any other creepy adjective here), I'd suggest stocking up on horror novels by any author during this time period. I originally picked up Death Instinct after having read and enjoyed The Store by Bentley Little.

Wanna play naked horsie?

Death Instinct opens with a disturbing prologue that offers us a glimpse into the childhood of the novel's heroine, Cathy. Throughout Cathy's pre-teen years, her older brother David includes her in his many perverted games, one of which involves forcing her to watch him play naked on a toy horse. The author lets on that Cathy is an innocent young girl being taken advantage of by her sinister older brother.

Friday, May 29, 2015

Lost & Found by Jacqueline Sheehan

Released: April 2007

The front cover of Lost and Found by Jacqueline Sheehan is what initially caught my eye the day I purchased this novel. I enjoy reading these "feel-good" novels when I need a break from the thriller and horror genres.

Dreamworld's Synopsis

Rocky's husband Bob is a veterinarian who indulges in deep fried food whenever one of his "patients" dies, or when he has to tell people their pets are dying from cancer and other diseases. After consuming a carton of fried clams from Johnny's Drive-In, Bob dies from a heart attack in his and Rocky's upstairs bathroom as Rocky is ordering Lands' End socks from the Internet.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

The Expats by Chris Pavone

Released: March 2012

Chris Pavone's The Expats initially caught my eye at the bookstore because I had just spent the last three weeks or so catching up on every episode of FX's The Americans (I fucking love that show). I'm more intrigued than ever by spies, and by how they can manage to balance both a family life and a secret life.

"Where is Luxembourg?"

Kate Moore leaves her career in the CIA to live as an expat in Luxembourg with her husband Dexter, a security system genius who works as an independent contractor for one of the country's most prestige financial institutions. After having worked in secrecy as a CIA agent for several years, Kate is bored with her new life, which mainly consists of shuffling her children to and from school, and having coffee with the other expat moms.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Diana Gabaldon's Outlander, revisited

photo credit: en.wikipedia.org
If you follow any book organizations or book-related people on Twitter, or have Facebook friends involved with book clubs and reading, you may have heard or seen news about the Outlander television series that airs every Saturday evening on Starz.

A few years ago in summer 2013, when the Outlander series was initially picked up by Starz, I had doubts that the show would be any good. But as the premiere date neared, and everyone started talking about the upcoming show, I finally became excited.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Nantucket Nights by Elin Hilderbrand

Released: June 2002

I first fell in love with Elin Hilderbrand after reading The Matchmaker, which was just released last summer. Since reading that novel, I've been frantically purchasing everything on Hilderbrand's backlist. I dove into Nantucket Nights last week after deciding I needed a break from sci-fi and horror.

The Night Swimmers

Kayla, Val, and Antoinette have upheld the tradition of swimming naked at midnight on a secluded Nantucket beach on a special night every year for the last 20 years. Referring to themselves as the "Night Swimmers," each woman shares one of her most darkest secrets with the other women in a ritual most would find less than ladylike. When drunken Kayla brazenly accuses Antoinette of sleeping with Kayla's husband, Antoinette dances into the water and never returns to shore. The entire island of Nantucket goes into an uproar, and blames Kayla for Antoinette's disappearance.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Demise in Denim by Duffy Brown

Released: April 2015

Demise in Denim is the fifth book in the "Consignment Shop" mystery series by Duffy Brown. This southern cozy mystery series takes place in Savannah, Georgia and features the amateur sleuthing adventures of Reagan Summerside, consignment shop owner.

Duffy Brown and her publishers are always generous enough to send me copies of the Consignment Shop novels prior to their release dates. Receiving her surprise packages in the mail are always a real treat! I pushed all other reading to the wayside this weekend just so I could tear into this latest, especially since Brown's novels continue to get better and funnier with each new release.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Garden of Stones by Sophie Littlefield

Released: February 2013

Everyone has a weak spot when it comes to books; mine is anything associated with WWI or WWII. If a book's synopsis mentions anything about these wars, it goes immediately into my shopping cart — which is exactly why I went out of my way to hunt down a copy of Garden of Stones by Sophie Littlefield.

I initially read about Garden of Stones in RT Book Reviews. I couldn't resist wanting to read this novel, especially since I've lived near a few abandoned Japanese-American internment camps.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Maisie Dobbs by Jacqueline Winspear

Released: July 2003

Maisie Dobbs is the first novel in the cozy mystery series of the same name by Jacqueline Winspear. I can't recall exactly how Maisie Dobbs came to be on my wish list, but I suspect it may have been on behalf of a recommendation provided by Nancy Pearl—the author of Book Lust. Winspear's writing style and prose reminds me very much of that by Alexander McCall Smith and Nancy Atherton. This book is amazing, and I'm excited to talk about it!

Friday, March 20, 2015

Thrift Store by Bebe Nicholson

Released: December 2013

I found this book at a California laundromat last winter. The full title is actually Thrift Store: Shop, Cook, Laugh...But Don't Call the Police. At first glance, it looks like a goofy, funny "ha-ha" book, which is why I picked it up in the first place. While it only took me about an hour to read, it was exactly what I needed after finishing after having read novels of a more intense nature.

Thrift Store is a collection of anecdotes and recipes compiled by workers and volunteers for North Fulton Community Charities (NFCC) in Georgia. Each story is about a real experience that took place at a community thrift store—all of which are moderately entertaining if you frequently shop at thrift stores. Most of the stories are cute and wholesome, and provide a behind-the-scenes look at how non-profit thrift stores can help people in need.

Friday, March 6, 2015

Bookish Survey: Take Two

My current state of Mt. TBR. Yikes!
Remember when MySpace was a thing? I was addicted to taking all those ridiculous surveys and sharing them with my friends. They were so fun! Tonight, I decided we would do "take two" of the ultimate bookish survey. Here's the link to the first bookish survey, if you missed it. Feel free to post this survey on your own site, and leave the link to your survey answers in the comments section below!

1. Which book are you reading right now?

The Palace by Chelsea Quinn Yarbro. It's book two of the Saint-German series. I've been holding on to nearly all the books in the series for 10 years and have NEVER READ THEM. The owners of my local indie bookstore are friends with the author, and absolutely love her work. Out of my love for the owners, I decided to finally venture into this series and WOW. Yarbro is highly underrated, and highly underpublicized. Amazing.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

The Store by Bentley Little

Released: July 1998

If you're prone to judging books by their covers, the copy shown here of The Store will have you thinking there's not much to this particular book. It looks like another one of those ruthless, desert horror stories that take place in a hobunk small town in the middle of nowhere, and creepy shit happens there, like in the movie U-Turn featuring Sean Penn.

So again, if you're a person who often judges a book by its cover, let me tell you that the story in this book is much bigger than its lame cover may indicate.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Aunt Dimity and the Family Tree by Nancy Atherton

Released: February 2011

Imagine it's chilly outside, and you're all bundled up in your favorite cozy sweats. You've got nothing planned for the day; all you want to do is read. You make a cup of coffee or tea, and you stand in front of your bookcase looking for a book that will make you feel happy, and, well...cozy.

Want to know which book perfectly qualifies for your mood? Any book from the Aunt Dimity series will do. In fact, if you're a reader who generally loves the cozy mystery genre, you need to add the Aunt Dimity series to your wish list, stat.

Friday, January 30, 2015

Blue Bloods by Melissa de la Cruz

Released: May 2006

"If you loved The Vampire Diaries, you should read Melissa de la Cruz’s Blue Bloods." At least that's what this Buzzfeed article says, so I plucked Blue Bloods off my shelf earlier this week to see what all the fuss was about (for the record, I thought it read more like the vampire version of Gossip Girl).

The waifish blond with animé eyes who doesn't know she's beautiful

The star of Blue Bloods is Schuyler Van Alen, a 15-year-old girl who ranks dark, baggy clothing over pearls and short skirts and doesn't fit in at her prestigious Manhattan private school. Imagine that!

Sunday, January 11, 2015

As the Pig Turns by MC Beaton

Released: October 2011

As the Pig Turns is the 22nd novel in the cozy mystery "Agatha Raisin" series by MC Beaton. The Agatha Raisin series is my #1 all-time favorite cozy mystery series, so I treated myself to As the Pig Turns for Christmas to get caught up. At this point, there are 25 books in the series, and the 26th book entitled, Dishing the Dirt is due to release in fall later this year.