Category Archives: Bookish Chatter

Dewey’s 24-Hour Readathon: October 2014

Tomorrow, Dewey’s 24-Hour read-a-thon officially kicks off! This is my favorite of the two read-a-thons; there’s something about the cool fall weather and the idea of curling up under a nice, warm, blanket that appeals to me!

When I heard my in-laws were coming in town, I knew I still had to figure out a way to participate in the read-a-thon. So, while most participants will be starting tomorrow morning, I’m starting today.  I’ll still be participating in bits and pieces tomorrow, but I want to dedicate uninterrupted time to my reading.  Then, after my in-laws depart on Sunday morning, I’ll pick back up again. Still getting in that full 24-hours, but covering multiple days with breaks in between!

Here’s my book line-up. I always concentrate on horror/thriller for this read-a-thon. The timing is just perfect! Also, I don’t plan on reading all of these titles; I simply like to have options.

First, the print books:

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The ebooks:

  • Parasite by Mira Grant
  • Fingersmith by Sarah Waters
  • Dead of Night by Jonathan Maberry
  • Fall of Night by Jonathan Maberry
  • Locked in by Jon Scalzi
  • Plus: Dozens of comics/graphic novels!

 

 

Library Titles (I’ll be picking these up as soon as the library opens!):

  • The House of Small Shadows by Adam Nevil
  • This Is How it Ends by Jen Nadol

Since  I’m not participating in the read-a-thon in the traditional sense, I might just do daily updates until Sunday when I’ll go back to updating after each book read. I’ll post the updates on Tumblr, then link them below!

Update #1 (Sunday 10/19 5:00 PM)
Update 2: 10/19 7:30 PM

TSS: Murder, Monsters & Mayhem Week 2 Wrap-Up

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This post comes a little (ok, a lot) later than I hoped. Last night, my teen went to his first Homecoming dance. Upon dropping him off for the dance, I learned they didn’t have enough volunteers. Guess who stayed until after midnight checking in hundreds of kids? Yep, that would be me. Thankfully, the fam let me sleep in until 9. I needed the sleep. I’m still suffering from a pretty wicked headache.

Speaking of wicked, we’ve come to the end of yet another week of Murder, Monsters & Mayhem!  I was particularly fond of quite a few posts this week. Can you guess which ones?

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Also, I announced the concept of this year’s Murder, Monsters & Mayhem contest: Do You Believe in Ghosts?

It’s been a cold & rainy weekend here. I have a roast in the crock pot (Thank you, Andi, for the recipe!) and I’m curled up on the couch with a spooky read. How was your reading week?

If you’ve posted reviews of horror/thriller/supernatural titles, be sure to link them up on the Murder, Monsters & Mayhem Link-up Page. There will be prizes!

Fall Book Preview: October 2014, Part III

Didn’t I warn you that October was an outstanding month of books. I’ve shared two lists thus far (Part I & Part II) and I’m wrapping up with the final list of books today. These lists have covered the gamut as far as books go.  You’ll have to let me know if I’ve overlooked any!

Sometimes the Wolf by Urban Waite (Oct. 21):

Set in the Pacific Northwest, a spellbinding story of family, violence, and unintended consequences that showcases the searing prose, soulful characters, and vivid sense of place of an acclaimed writer in the tradition of Cormac McCarthy, Dennis Lehane, and Elmore Leonard

Sheriff Patrick Drake tried to lead an upstanding life and maintain some financial stability until his wife passed away. He did okay for a while, singlehandedly raising his family in a small mountain town. Then he was hit with money troubles, fell in with some unsavory men, and ended up convicted of one of the biggest crimes in local history.

Twelve years later Patrick is on parole under the watchful eye of his son Bobby, who just happens to be a deputy sheriff in his father’s old department. Bobby hasn’t had it easy, either. He’s carried the weight of his father’s guilt, forsaking his own dreams, and put off the knowledge that his own marriage could be stronger and more hopeful. Yet no matter how much distance he’s tried to put between himself, his father, his grandfather, and the past, small town minds can have very long memories.

Trouble isn’t done with the Drakes—and a terrifying threat boils up from Patrick’s old life. And this time, no one will be spared . . .

The Wolf in Winter: A Charlie Parker Thriller by John Connolly (Oct. 28):

The community of Prosperous, Maine has always thrived when others have suffered. Its inhabitants are wealthy, its children’s future secure. It shuns outsiders. It guards its own. And at the heart of Prosperous lie the ruins of an ancient church, transported stone by stone from England centuries earlier by the founders of the town…

But the death of a homeless man and the disappearance of his daughter draw the haunted, lethal private investigator Charlie Parker to Prosperous. Parker is a dangerous man, driven by compassion, by rage, and by the desire for vengeance. In him the town and its protectors sense a threat graver than any they have faced in their long history, and in the comfortable, sheltered inhabitants of a small Maine town, Parker will encounter his most vicious opponents yet.

Charlie Parker has been marked to die so that Prosperous may survive.

Prosperous, and the secret that it hides beneath its ruins…

The Midnight Plan of the Repo Man by W. Bruce Cameron (Oct. 28):

Ruddy McCann, former college football star, has experienced a seismic drop in popularity; he is now Kalkaska, Michigan’s full-time repo man and part-time bar bouncer. His best friend is his low-energy Basset hound Jake, with whom he shares a simple life of stealing cars.

 Simple, that is, until Ruddy starts hearing a voice in his head.

 The voice introduces himself as Alan Lottner, a dead realtor. Ruddy isn’t sure if Alan is real, or if he’s losing his mind. To complicate matters, it turns out Katie, the girl he’s fallen for, is Alan’s daughter.

 When Alan demands Ruddy find his murderers, Ruddy decides a voice in your head seeking vengeance is best ignored.  When Alan also demands he clean up his act, and apartment, Ruddy tells him to back off, but where can a voice in your head go?

 With a sweet romance, a murder mystery, a lazy but loyal dog and a town full of cabin-fevered characters you can’t help but love, New York Times bestselling novelist W. Bruce Cameron’s The Midnight Plan of the Repo Man is yet another laugh-out-loud, keep-you-up-late, irresistible read. 

 

The Disappearance Boy by Neil Bartlett (Oct. 28):

A man. A woman. A disappearance boy. This is the story of Reggie, an illusionist’s assistant, and the performances that come to define him.

Reggie Rainbow got his name at the orphanage. He had polio as a child, and seventeen years of using crutches have given him strong hands and nimble fingers. It is this dexterity, perfect for illusions, which first led Mr. Brookes to hire him for the act. Reggie has been a disappearance boy for years now, making a long string of alluring assistants vanish while Mr. Brookes tricks and misdirects the audience.

But in the spring of 1953, the public no longer seem interested in illusionists. Bookings are slim, even in London. When Mr. Brookes gets a new slot at the down-at-the-heel Brighton Grand, Reggie finds himself in a strange town, one full of dark and unexplored corners. And it is the arrival of Pamela Rose, a beautiful new assistant, that truly turns his life upside down. As the Grand’s spectacular Coronation show nears, Reggie begins to wonder how much of his own life has been an act—and sets out to find somebody who disappeared from his life long ago.

Masterful and heartfelt, The Disappearance Boy is the tale of one young man coming into adulthood amidst the smoke-and-mirrors backstage world; a story of love, tears, and illusion—of all that stays behind the curtain.

The Essential Supernatural: On the Road with Sam and Dean Winchester by Nicholas Knight (Oct. 28):

Go back on the road with Sam and Dean Winchester in this revised and updated edition of the best-selling The Essential Supernatural. Filled with interviews with the cast and crew of the hit show, stunning behind-the-scenes-imagery and art, and a wealth of thrilling removable items, this updated version includes new chapters on seasons 8 and 9 and a preview of the upcoming season 10.

This deluxe edition dissects the show season by season, state by state, tracking the Winchester brothers as they travel across the U.S. in their distinctive classic car. Join them as they hunt all those things that go bump in the night, seek vengeance on the Yellow-Eyed Demon that killed their parents, deal with the Knights of Hell, and stop the bona fide Apocalypse! Illustrated with full-color images, behind-the-scenes photos, exclusive production art, and other elements-such as continuity photos and even the covers of the in-universe Supernatural novels by Chuck Shurley-this is the ultimate guide to Supernatural for the show’s legion of fans.

Us by David Nicholls (Oct. 28):

Douglas Petersen may be a mild-mannered scientist, but his reserve hides a sense of humor that, against all odds, seduces beautiful art-school graduate Connie into a second date…and into marrying him. Now, almost three decades after their relationship first blossomed in London, they live in the suburbs with their moody seventeen year-old son, Albie. Douglas is still deeply in love with his wife, and is looking toward Albie leaving for college so that he can reconnect with Connie, and somehow reignite the spark that seems to be missing. That is, until Connie tells him she thinks she wants a divorce.

Connie’s timing couldn’t be worse. Wanting to encourage her son’s artistic interests, she’s planned a month-long tour across Europe, where they’ll experience the world’s greatest works of art as a family, which she can’t bring herself to cancel. But perhaps going ahead is for the best? Douglas feels sure that this landmark trip will rekindle the romance they’ve lost along the way, as well as help him to bond with Albie. He prepares with a meticulously detailed itinerary, but they barely make it to Amsterdam before his plans go awry.

Narrated from Douglas’s endearingly honest, stealthily witty, and at times achingly optimistic point of view, Us is the story of a man rising to the challenge of rescuing his relationship with the woman he loves—as he embarks on a life-changing journey on the heels of a son who’s always felt like a stranger. It is an authentic meditation on the demands of marriage and parenthood, the regrets of abandoning youth for middle age, and the complicated relationship between the heart and the head. And in David Nicholls’s gifted hands, Douglas’s odyssey brings Europe—from the famed museums of Paris to the cafés of Venice to the beaches of Barcelona—to vivid life just as he experiences a powerful awakening of his own. Will this summer be his last as a husband and involved father, or the moment when he turns his marriage—his whole life—around?

The Book of Strange New Things by Michel Faber (Oct. 28)

A monumental, genre-defying novel over ten years in the making, from the internationally bestselling author of The Crimson Petal and the White.

The Book of Strange New Things tells the story of Peter Leigh, a devoted man of faith called to the mission of a lifetime, one that takes him literally light years away from his wife, Bea. Peter becomes immersed in the mysteries of an astonishing new environment and the ego-gratifying work of ministering to a native population hungry for the Bible—this “book of strange new things.” But he soon begins to receive increasingly desperate letters from home. North Korea is devastated by a typhoon; the Maldives are wiped out by a tsunami; England endures an earthquake, and Bea’s faith, once the guiding light of their lives, begins to falter.

A separation measured in galaxies, and defined both by one newly discovered world and another in a state of collapse, is threatened by an ever-widening gulf that is much less quantifiable. Peter’s and Bea’s trials lay bare a profound meditation on faith, love tested beyond endurance, and the responsibility we have to others.

The Killer Next Door by Alex Marwood (Oct. 28):

Alex Marwood’s debut novel, The Wicked Girls, earned her lavish praise from the likes of Stephen King, Laura Lippman, and Erin Kelly, and was shortlisted for an Edgar Award. Now Marwood’s back with a brilliant, tightly paced thriller that will keep you up at night and make you ask yourself: just how well do you know your neighbors?

Everyone who lives at 23 Beulah Grove has a secret. If they didn’t, they wouldn’t be renting rooms in a dodgy old building for cash—no credit check, no lease. It’s the kind of place you end up when you you’ve run out of other options. The six residents mostly keep to themselves, but one unbearably hot summer night, a terrible accident pushes them into an uneasy alliance. What they don’t know is that one of them is a killer. He’s already chosen his next victim, and he’ll do anything to protect his secret.

Last Train to Babylon by Charlee Fam (Oct. 28):

Who put the word fun in funeral? I can’t think of anything fun about Rachel’s funeral, except for the fact that she won’t be there.

Aubrey Glass has a collection of potential suicide notes—just in case. And now, five years—and five notes—after leaving her hometown, Rachel’s the one who goes and kills herself. Aubrey can’t believe her luck.

But Rachel’s death doesn’t leave Aubrey in peace. There’s a voicemail from her former friend, left only days before her death that Aubrey can’t bring herself to listen to—and worse, a macabre memorial-turned-high-school reunion that promises the opportunity to catch up with everyone…including the man responsible for everything that went wrong between she and Rachel.

In the days leading up to the funeral and infamous after party, Aubrey slips seamlessly between her past and present. Memories of friendship tangle with painful new encounters while underneath it all Aubrey feels the rush of something closing in, something she can no longer run from. And when the past and present collide in one devastating night, nothing will be the same again.

But facing the future means confronting herself and a shattering truth. Now, Aubrey must decide what will define her: what lies behind . . . or what waits ahead.

 

Fall Book Preview: October 2014, Part II

Yesterday, I shared the first part of my most anticipated books of October list, books that publish the first week of October. October is another big publishing month; I forsee at least one more post after this one!

Following are the books scheduled to post the second week of October. Click on the book image or title to preorder!

As You Wish: Inconceivable Tales from the Making of the Princess Bride by Cary Elwes, Joe Layden (Oct. 14)

From actor Cary Elwes, who played the iconic role of Westley in The Princess Bride, comes a first-person account and behind-the-scenes look at the making of the cult classic film filled with never-before-told stories, exclusive photographs, and interviews with costars Robin Wright, Wallace Shawn, Billy Crystal, Christopher Guest, and Mandy Patinkin, as well as author and screenwriter William Goldman, producer Norman Lear, and director Rob Reiner.

The Princess Bride has been a family favorite for close to three decades. Ranked by the American Film Institute as one of the top 100 Greatest Love Stories and by the Writers Guild of America as one of the top 100 screenplays of all time, The Princess Bride will continue to resonate with audiences for years to come.

Cary Elwes was inspired to share his memories and give fans an unprecedented look into the creation of the film while participating in the twenty-fifth anniversary cast reunion. In As You Wish he has created an enchanting experience; in addition to never-before seen photos and interviews with his fellow cast mates, there are plenty of set secrets and backstage stories.

With a foreword by Rob Reiner and a limited edition original poster by acclaimed artist Shepard Fairey, As You Wish is a must-have for all fans of this beloved film.

Ruth’s Journey: The Authorized Novel of Mammy from Margaret Mitchell’s Gone with the Wind by Donald McCaig (Oct. 14):

Authorized by the Margaret Mitchell Estate, here is the first-ever prequel to one of the most beloved and bestselling novels of all time, Gone with the Wind. The critically acclaimed author of Rhett Butler’s People magnificently recounts the life of Mammy, one of literature’s greatest supporting characters, from her days as a slave girl to the outbreak of the Civil War.

“Her story began with a miracle.” On the Caribbean island of Saint Domingue, an island consumed by the flames of revolution, a senseless attack leaves only one survivor—an infant girl. She falls into the hands of two French émigrés, Henri and Solange Fournier, who take the beautiful child they call Ruth to the bustling American city of Savannah.

What follows is the sweeping tale of Ruth’s life as shaped by her strong-willed mistress and other larger-than-life personalities she encounters in the South: Jehu Glen, a free black man with whom Ruth falls madly in love; the shabbily genteel family that first hires Ruth as Mammy; Solange’s daughter Ellen and the rough Irishman, Gerald O’Hara, whom Ellen chooses to marry; the Butler family of Charleston and their shocking connection to Mammy Ruth; and finally Scarlett O’Hara—the irrepressible Southern belle Mammy raises from birth. As we witness the difficult coming of age felt by three generations of women, gifted storyteller Donald McCaig reveals a portrait of Mammy that is both nuanced and poignant, at once a proud woman and a captive, and a strict disciplinarian who has never experienced freedom herself. But despite the cruelties of a world that has decreed her a slave, Mammy endures, a rock in the river of time. She loves with a ferocity that would astonish those around her if they knew it. And she holds tight even to those who have been lost in the ravages of her days.

Set against the backdrop of the South from the 1820s until the dawn of the Civil War, here is a remarkable story of fortitude, heartbreak, and indomitable will—and a tale that will forever illuminate your reading of Margaret Mitchell’s unforgettable classic, Gone with the Wind.

Of Bone and Thunder by Chris Evans (Oct. 14):

Apocalypse Now meets The Lord of the Rings in a bold new fantasy from the acclaimed author of the Iron Elves trilogy, filled with “heroic action that keeps fans coming back” (Publishers Weekly).

Channeling the turbulent period of the Vietnam War and its ruthless pitting of ideologies, cultures, generations, and races against each other, military historian and acclaimed fantasy writer Chris Evans takes a daring new approach to the traditional world of sword and sorcery by thrusting it into a maelstrom of racial animus, drug use, rebellion, and a growing war that seems at once unwinnable and with no end in sight. In this thrilling epic, right and wrong, country and honor, freedom and sacrifice are all put to the ultimate test in the heart of a dark, bloody, otherworldly jungle.

In this strange, new world deep among the shadows under a triple-canopy jungle and plagued by dangers real and imagined, soldiers strive to fulfill a mission they don’t understand and are ill-equipped to carry out. And high above them, the heavy rush of wings slashing through the humid air herald a coming wave of death and destruction, and just possibly, salvation.

Crooked River by Valerie Geary (Oct. 14):

He is not evil. I am not good.
We are the same: broken and put back together again.

Still grieving the sudden death of their mother, Sam and her younger sister Ollie McAlister move from the comforts of Eugene to rural Oregon to live in a meadow in a teepee under the stars with Bear, their beekeeper father. But soon after they arrive, a young woman is found dead floating in Crooked River, and the police arrest their eccentric father for the murder.

Fifteen-year-old Sam knows that Bear is not a killer, even though the evidence points to his guilt. Unwilling to accept that her father could have hurt anyone, Sam embarks on a desperate hunt to save him and keep her damaged family together.

I see things no one else does.
I see them there and wish I didn’t. I want to tell and can’t.

Ollie, too, knows that Bear is innocent. The Shimmering have told her so. One followed her home from her mom’s funeral and refuses to leave. Now, another is following Sam. Both spirits warn Ollie: the real killer is out there, closer and more dangerous than either girl can imagine.

Told in Sam and Ollie’s vibrant voices, Crooked River is a family story, a coming of age story, a ghost story, and a psychological mystery that will touch reader’s hearts and keep them gripped until the final thrilling page.

Three Hundred Million by Blake Butler (Oct. 14):

Blake Butler’s fiction has dazzled readers with its dystopian dreamscapes and swaggering command of language. Now, in his most topical and visceral novel yet, he ushers us into the consciousness of two men in the shadow of a bloodbath: Gretch Gravey, a cryptic psychopath with a small army of burnout followers, and E. N. Flood, the troubled police detective tasked with unpacking and understanding his mind.

A mingled simulacrum of Charles Manson, David Koresh, and Thomas Harris’s Buffalo Bill, Gravey a sinister yet alluring God figure who enlists young metalhead followers to kidnap neighboring women and bring them to his house—where he murders them and buries their bodies in a basement crypt. Through parallel narratives, Three Hundred Million lures readers into the cloven mind of Gravey—and Darrel, his sinister alter ego—even as Flood’s secret journal chronicles his own descent into his own, eerily similar psychosis.

A portrait of American violence that conjures the shadows of Ariel Castro, David Koresh, and Adam Lanza, Three Hundred Million is a brutal and mesmerizing masterwork, a portrait of contemporary America that is difficult to turn away from, or to forget.

Bird in Hand by Christina Baker Kline (Oct. 14):

Four people, two marriages, one lifelong friendship: Everything is about to change.

It was dark. It was raining. It was just an accident. On the drive home from a rare evening out, Alison collides with another car running a stop sign, and—just like that—her life turns upside down.

When she calls her husband from the police station, his accusatory tone reveals cracks in their relationship she’d never noticed were there. Now she notices everything. And she begins to realize that the life she carefully constructed for herself is as tenuous as a house of cards. Exquisitely written, powerful, and thrilling, Bird in Hand is a novel about love and friendship and betrayal, and about the secrets we tell ourselves and each other.

The Daylight Gate by Jeanette Winterson (Oct. 14):

An instant bestseller in the UK, The Daylight Gate is Jeanette Winterson’s singular vision of a dark period of complicated morality, sex, and tragic plays for power in a time when politics and religion were closely intertwined. On Good Friday, 1612, deep in the woods of Pendle Hill, a gathering of thirteen is interrupted by the local magistrate. Two of their coven have already been imprisoned for witchcraft and are awaiting trial, but those who remain are vouched for by the wealthy and respected Alice Nutter. Shrouded in mystery and gifted with eternally youthful beauty, Alice is established in Lancashire society and insulated by her fortune. As those accused of witchcraft retreat into darkness, Alice stands alone as a realm-crosser, a conjurer of powers that will either destroy her or set her free.

Dead Set by Richard Kadrey (Oct. 14):

After her father’s funeral Zoe and her mother moved to the Big City to start over. But life’s not so easy, the money is tight, and a new school always brings trials. Zoe’s only escape, as has been the case all her days, is in her dreams. A world apart from her troubled real life and the only place where she can spend time with her closest companion: her lost brother Valentine.

But something or someone has entered their dream world uninvited. And a chance encounter at a used record store where the vinyl holds not music, but lost souls, has opened up a world of the lives of the restless dead. It’s here that the strange proprietor offers her chances to commune with her dead father. The price? A lock of hair, a tooth, then . . .

Walking Dead #5: Robert Kirkman’s the Walking Dead: Descent by Jay Bonansinga (Oct. 14):

The latest novel in the Walking Dead saga, following the events of The Fall of the Governor, and Lilly Caul’s struggles to rebuild Woodbury after the Governor’s shocking demise.

Out of the ashes of its dark past, Woodbury, Georgia, becomes an oasis of safety amidst the plague of the walking dead – a town reborn in the wake of its former tyrannical leader, Philip Blake, aka The Governor.

Blake’s legacy of madness haunts every nook and cranny of this little walled community, but Lilly Caul and a small ragtag band of survivors are determined to overcome their traumatic past…or die trying.

As a super-herd of walkers presses in on the community, Lilly’s innate leadership skills kick into high gear.  An undiscovered cache of weapons — as well as a labyrinth of tunnels beneath the town — changes the balance of power.

But as is often the case in Woodbury, things are not as they seem.

The beleaguered survivors are about to learn – along with the troubled yet heroic Lilly Caul – that the greatest threat is often from within.

The Boy Who Killed Demons by Dave Zeltserman (Oct. 15):

“My name’s Henry Dudlow. I’m fifteen and a half. And I’m cursed. Or damned. Take your pick. The reason? I see demons.”

So begins the latest novel by horror master Dave Zeltserman. The setting is quiet Newton, Massachussetts, where nothing ever happens. Nothing, that is, until two months after Henry Dudlow’s 13th birthday, when his neighbor, Mr. Hanley, suddenly starts to look . . . different. While everyone else sees a balding man with a beer belly, Henry suddenly sees a nasty, bilious, rage-filled demon.
Once Henry catches onto the real Mr. Hanley, he starts to see demons all around him, and his boring, adolescent life is transformed. There’s no more time for friends or sports or the lovely Sally Freeman-instead Henry must work his way through ancient texts and hunt down the demons before they steal any more innocent children. And if hunting demons is hard at any age, it’s borderline impossible when your parents are on your case, and your grades are getting worse, and you can’t tell anyone about your chosen mission.

A very scary novel written with verve and flashes of great humor, The Boy Who Killed Demons is Dave Zeltserman’s most accomplished and entertaining horror novel yet.

The May Bride by Suzannah Dunn (Oct. 15):

Jane Seymour is a shy, dutiful fifteen-year-old when her eldest brother, Edward, brings his bride home to Wolf Hall. Katherine Filliol is the perfect match for Edward, as well as being a breath of fresh air for the Seymour family, and Jane is captivated by the older girl.

Only two years later, however, the family is torn apart by a dreadful allegation-that Katherine has had an affair with the Seymour patriarch. The repercussions for all the Seymours are incalculable, not least for Katherine herself. When Jane is sent away to serve Katharine of Aragon, she is forced to witness another wife being put aside, with terrible consequences.

Changed forever by what happened to Katherine Filliol, Jane comes to understand that, in a world where power is held entirely by men, there is a way in which she can still hold true to herself.

Gretel and the Dark by Eliza Granville (Oct. 16):

A captivating and atmospheric historical novel about a young girl in Nazi Germany, a psychoanalyst in fin-de-siècle Vienna, and the powerful mystery that links them together.

Gretel and the Dark explores good and evil, hope and despair, showing how the primal thrills and horrors of the stories we learn as children can illuminate the darkest moments in history, in two rich, intertwining narratives that come together to form one exhilarating, page-turning read. In 1899 Vienna, celebrated psychoanalyst Josef Breuer is about to encounter his strangest case yet: a mysterious, beautiful woman who claims to have no name, no feelings—to be, in fact, a machine. Intrigued, he tries to fathom the roots of her disturbance.

Years later, in Nazi-controlled Germany, Krysta plays alone while her papa works in the menacingly strange infirmary next door. Young, innocent, and fiercely stubborn, she retreats into a world of fairy tales, unable to see the danger closing in around her. When everything changes and the real world becomes as frightening as any of her stories, Krysta finds that her imagination holds powers beyond what she could ever have guessed.

Rich, compelling, and propulsively building to a dizzying final twist, Gretel and the Dark is a testament to the lifesaving power of the imagination and a mesmerizingly original story of redemption.

Whew! What a list, right?  Stay tuned…one more list to come tomorrow!

Fall Book Preview: October 2014, Part I

I’m a little behind on this. Crazy work schedule plus a teen son with shingles, I have little time to even contemplate reading a book.  That said, I did take the time to review books releasing in October. Wow, what a month!  While I’ll be focusing largely on horror and thriller for Murder, Monsters & Mayhem, there are many books outside this genre that I’m excited about.

Following is the first part of that list, books releasing the first week of October.  As usual, I’ve included the publisher’s summary and a link for you to preorder the book.

A Brief History of Seven Killingsby Marlon James (Oct. 2):

On December 3, 1976, just before the Jamaican general election and two days before Bob Marley was to play the Smile Jamaica Concert, gunmen stormed his house, machine guns blazing. The attack nearly killed the Reggae superstar, his wife, and his manager, and injured several others. Marley would go on to perform at the free concert on December 5, but he left the country the next day, not to return for two years.

Deftly spanning decades and continents and peopled with a wide range of characters—assassins, journalists, drug dealers, and even ghosts—A Brief History of Seven Killings is the fictional exploration of that dangerous and unstable time and its bloody aftermath, from the streets and slums of Kingston in the ‘70s, to the crack wars in ‘80s New York, to a radically altered Jamaica in the ‘90s. Brilliantly inventive and stunningly ambitious, this novel is a revealing modern epic that will secure Marlon James’ place among the great literary talents of his generation.

The Boy Who Drew Monsters by Keith Donohue (Oct. 7):

Ever since he nearly drowned in the ocean three years earlier,10-year-old Jack Peter Keenan has been deathly afraid to venture outdoors. Refusing to leave his home in a small coastal town in Maine, Jack Peter spends his time drawing monsters. When those drawings take on a life of their own, no one is safe from the terror they inspire. His mother, Holly, begins to hear strange sounds in the night coming from the ocean, and she seeks answers from the local Catholic priest and his Japanese housekeeper who fill her head with stories of shipwrecks and ghosts. His father, Tim, wanders the beach, frantically searching for a strange apparition running wild in the dunes. And the boy’s only friend, Nick, becomes helplessly entangled in the eerie power of the drawings. While those around Jack Peter are haunted by what they think they see, only he knows the truth behind the frightful occurrences as the outside world encroaches upon them all.

In the tradition of The Turn of the Screw, Keith Donohue’s The Boy Who Drew Monsters is a mesmerizing tale of psychological terror and imagination run wild, a perfectly creepy read for a dark night.

Alice + Freda Forever: A Murder in Memphis by Alexis Coe (Oct. 7):

In 1892, America was obsessed with a teenage murderess, but it wasn’t her crime that shocked the nation-it was her motivation. Nineteen-year-old Alice Mitchell had planned to pass as a man in order to marry her seventeen-year-old fiancée Freda Ward, but when their love letters were discovered, they were forbidden from ever speaking again.

Freda adjusted to this fate with an ease that stunned a heartbroken Alice. Her desperation grew with each unanswered letter-and her father’s razor soon went missing. On January 25, Alice publicly slashed her ex-fiancée’s throat. Her same-sex love was deemed insane by her father that very night, and medical experts agreed: This was a dangerous and incurable perversion. As the courtroom was expanded to accommodate national interest, Alice spent months in jail-including the night that three of her fellow prisoners were lynched (an event which captured the attention of journalist and civil rights activist Ida B. Wells). After a jury of “the finest men in Memphis” declared Alice insane, she was remanded to an asylum, where she died under mysterious circumstances just a few years later.

Alice + Freda Forever recounts this tragic, real-life love story with over 100 illustrated love letters, maps, artifacts, historical documents, newspaper articles, courtroom proceedings, and intimate, domestic scenes-painting a vivid picture of a sadly familiar world.

In 1892, America was obsessed with a teenage murderess, but it wasn’t her crime that shocked the nation-it was her motivation. Nineteen-year-old Alice Mitchell had planned to pass as a man in order to marry her seventeen-year-old fiancée Freda Ward, but when their love letters were discovered, they were forbidden from ever speaking again.

Freda adjusted to this fate with an ease that stunned a heartbroken Alice. Her desperation grew with each unanswered letter-and her father’s razor soon went missing. On January 25, Alice publicly slashed her ex-fiancée’s throat. Her same-sex love was deemed insane by her father that very night, and medical experts agreed: This was a dangerous and incurable perversion. As the courtroom was expanded to accommodate national interest, Alice spent months in jail-including the night that three of her fellow prisoners were lynched (an event which captured the attention of journalist and civil rights activist Ida B. Wells). After a jury of “the finest men in Memphis” declared Alice insane, she was remanded to an asylum, where she died under mysterious circumstances just a few years later.

Alice + Freda Forever recounts this tragic, real-life love story with over 100 illustrated love letters, maps, artifacts, historical documents, newspaper articles, courtroom proceedings, and intimate, domestic scenes-painting a vivid picture of a sadly familiar world.

Brood by Chase Novak (Oct. 7):

Two teenagers struggle with a horrific family legacy, and the woman who has adopted them fights for their lives–and her own.

Adam and Alice are reaching the age when some of the children created by the fertility treatment that spawned them begin to turn feral. Will they succomb to the same physiological horror that destroyed their parents? Every change brings on terror–the voice cracking as it changes, the swelling of the breasts, the coarsening of down into actual hair. Their aunt, Cynthia, oversees renovations to the Twisden family’s Manhattan residence–torn apart by the children’s parents at their most savage–and struggles to give her niece and nephew the unconditional love they never had. Meanwhile, in the world outside, the forces of good and evil collide as a troop of feral offspring threatens to invade the refuge Cynthia is so determined to construct behind the Twisdens’ walls.

 

Reunion by Hannah Pittard (Oct.7):

Five minutes before her flight is set to take off, Kate Pulaski, failed screenwriter and newly failed wife with scarcely a hundred dollars to her name, learns that her estranged father has killed himself. More shocked than saddened by the news, she gives in to her siblings’ request that she join them, along with her many half-siblings and most of her father’s five former wives, in Atlanta, their birthplace, for a final farewell.

Written with huge heart and bracing wit, REUNION takes place over the following four days, as family secrets are revealed, personal foibles are exposed, and Kate-an inveterate liar looking for a way to come clean-slowly begins to acknowledge the overwhelming similarities between herself and the man she never thought she’d claim as an influence, much less a father. Hannah Pittard’s “engaging and vigorous”* prose masterfully illuminates the problems that can divide modern families–and the ties that prove impossible to break. (*Chicago Tribune)

The Who & the What: A Playby Ayad Akhtar (Oct. 7):

The Pulitzer prize-winning author of Disgraced explores the conflict that erupts within a Muslim family in Atlanta when an independent-minded daughter writes a provocative novel that offends her more conservative father and sister.

Zarina has a bone to pick with the place of women in her Muslim faith, and she’s been writing a book about the Prophet Muhammad that aims to set the record straight. When her traditional father and sister discover the manuscript, it threatens to tear her family apart. With humor and ferocity, Akhtar’s incisive new drama about love, art, and religion examines the chasm between our traditions and our contemporary lives.

The Pure Gold Baby by Margaret Drabble (Oct. 7):

The first new novel in five years from “one of the most versatile and accomplished writers of her generation” (Joyce Carol Oates, The New Yorker)

“Achingly wise . . . Admirers of Marilynne Robinson will find themselves very much at home in this book.” -Wall Street Journal

Jessica Speight, an anthropologist in 1960s London, is at the beginning of a promising academic career when an affair leaves her a single mother. Anna is delightful-a pure gold baby. But as it becomes clear that Anna is not a normal child, the book circles questions of responsibility, potential, even age, with Margaret Drabble’s characteristic intelligence and wit. Told from the point of view of Jess’s fellow mothers, The Pure Gold Baby is a movingly intimate look at the unexpected transformations at the heart of motherhood.

The Lesser Dead by Christopher Buehlman (Oct. 7):

“As much F. Scott Fitzgerald as Dean Koontz” (#1 New York Times bestselling author Patricia Briggs), Christopher Buehlman excels in twisting the familiar into newfound dread in his “genre-bending” (California Literary Review) novels. Now the acclaimed author of Those Across the Riverdelivers his most disquieting tale yet…

The secret is, vampires are real and I am one.
The secret is, I’m stealing from you what is most truly yours and I’m not sorry…

New York City in 1978 is a dirty, dangerous place to live. And die. Joey Peacock knows this as well as anybody—he has spent the last forty years as an adolescent vampire, perfecting the routine he now enjoys: womanizing in punk clubs and discotheques, feeding by night, and sleeping by day with others of his kind in the macabre labyrinth under the city’s sidewalks.

The subways are his playground and his highway, shuttling him throughout Manhattan to bleed the unsuspecting in the Sheep Meadow of Central Park or in the backseats of Checker cabs, or even those in their own apartments who are too hypnotized by sitcoms to notice him opening their windows. It’s almost too easy.

Until one night he sees them hunting on his beloved subway. The children with the merry eyes. Vampires, like him…or not like him. Whatever they are, whatever their appearance means, the undead in the tunnels of Manhattan are not as safe as they once were.

And neither are the rest of us.

A Vision of Fire by Gillian Anderson, Jeff Rovin (Oct. 7):

The first novel from iconic X-Files star Gillian Anderson and New York Times bestselling author Jeff Rovin: a science fiction thriller of epic proportions.

Renowned child psychologist Caitlin O’Hara is a single mom trying to juggle her job, her son, and a lackluster dating life. Her world is suddenly upturned when Maanik, the daughter of India’s ambassador to the United Nations, starts speaking in tongues and having violent visions. Caitlin is sure that her fits have something to do with the recent assassination attempt on her father—a shooting that has escalated nuclear tensions between India and Pakistan to dangerous levels—but when teenagers around the world start having similar outbursts, Caitlin begins to think that there’s a more sinister force at work.

In Haiti, a student claws at her throat, drowning on dry land. In Iran, a boy suddenly and inexplicably sets himself on fire. Animals, too, are acting irrationally, from rats in New York City to birds in South America to ordinary house pets. With Asia on the cusp of nuclear war, Caitlin must race across the globe to uncover the mystical links among these seemingly unrelated incidents in order to save her patient—and perhaps the world.

We Are Not Good People by Jeff Somers (Oct. 7):

From the “exhilarating, powerful, and entertaining” (Guardian) storyteller of the Avery Cates series comes a gritty supernatural thriller featuring a pair of unlikely heroes caught up in the underground world of blood magic.

The ethics in a world of blood are gray—and an underground strata of blood magicians has been engineering disasters for centuries in order to acquire enough fuel for their spells. They are not good people.

Some practitioners, however, use the Words and a swipe of the blade to cast simpler spells, such as Charms and Cantrips to gas up $1 bills so they appear to be $20s. Lem Vonnegan and his sidekick Mags fall into this level of mage, hustlers and con men all. Lem tries to be ethical by using only his own blood, by not using Bleeders or “volunteers.” But it makes life hard. Soon they might have to get honest work.

When the pair encounters a girl who’s been kidnapped and marked up with magic runes for a ritual spell, it’s clear they’re in over their heads. Turning to Lem’s estranged master for help, they are told that not only is the girl’s life all but forfeit, but that the world’s preeminent mage, Mika Renar, has earth-shattering plans for her—and Lem just got in the way. With the fate of the world on the line, and Lem both spooked and intrigued by the mysterious girl, the other nominates him to become the huckleberry who’ll take down Renar. But even if he, Mags, and the simpletons who follow him prevail, they’re dealing with the kind of power that doesn’t understand defeat, or mercy.

Book One in the Ustari Cycle, the first portion of We Are Not Good People was originally published in an altered form as Trickster (Pocket Books).

Some Luck by Jane Smiley (Oct. 7):

From the winner of the Pulitzer Prize: a powerful, engrossing new novel—the life and times of a remarkable family over three transformative decades in America.

On their farm in Denby, Iowa, Rosanna and Walter Langdon abide by time-honored values that they pass on to their five wildly different children: from Frank, the handsome, willful first born, and Joe, whose love of animals and the land sustains him, to Claire, who earns a special place in her father’s heart.

Each chapter in Some Luck covers a single year, beginning in 1920, as American soldiers like Walter return home from World War I, and going up through the early 1950s, with the country on the cusp of enormous social and economic change. As the Langdons branch out from Iowa to both coasts of America, the personal and the historical merge seamlessly: one moment electricity is just beginning to power the farm, and the next a son is volunteering to fight the Nazis; later still, a girl you’d seen growing up now has a little girl of her own, and you discover that your laughter and your admiration for all these lives are mixing with tears.

Some Luck delivers on everything we look for in a work of fiction. Taking us through cycles of births and deaths, passions and betrayals, among characters we come to know inside and out, it is a tour de force that stands wholly on its own. But it is also the first part of a dazzling epic trilogy—a literary adventure that will span a century in America: an astonishing feat of storytelling by a beloved writer at the height of her powers.

An English Ghost Story by Kim Newman (Oct. 7):

A dysfunctional British nuclear family seek a new life away from the big city in the sleepy Somerset countryside. At first their new home, The Hollow, seems to embrace them, creating a rare peace and harmony within the family. But when the house turns on them, it seems to know just how to hurt them the most—threatening to destroy them from the inside out.

 

 

 

Lila by Marilynne Robinson (Oct. 7):

A new American classic from the Pulitzer Prize–winning author of Gilead and Housekeeping

Marilynne Robinson, one of the greatest novelists of our time, returns to the town of Gilead in an unforgettable story of a girlhood lived on the fringes of society in fear, awe, and wonder.

Lila, homeless and alone after years of roaming the countryside, steps inside a small-town Iowa church—the only available shelter from the rain—and ignites a romance and a debate that will reshape her life. She becomes the wife of a minister, John Ames, and begins a new existence while trying to make sense of the days of suffering that preceded her newfound security.


Neglected as a toddler, Lila was rescued by Doll, a canny young drifter, and brought up by her in a hardscrabble childhood. Together they crafted a life on the run, living hand to mouth with nothing but their sisterly bond and a ragged blade to protect them. Despite bouts of petty violence and moments of desperation, their shared life was laced with moments of joy and love. When Lila arrives in Gilead, she struggles to reconcile the life of her makeshift family and their days of hardship with the gentle Christian worldview of her husband which paradoxically judges those she loves.


Revisiting the beloved characters and setting of Robinson’s Pulitzer Prize–winning Gilead and Home, a National Book Award finalist, Lila is a moving expression of the mysteries of existence that is destined to become an American classic.

Stay tuned tomorrow for more October releases!

Gone Girl Film Release Giveaway!

UPDATED:

WINNER SELECTED! Congratulations, Sarah Hayes!!

It’s the book everyone was talking about. In just a few weeks, the movie is hitting the big screen.  I don’t know about you, but I’m excited.  I loved the book (despite the urge to throw it across the room) t so I’m thrilled to find out how the movie turned out.

Thanks to 20th Century Fox, I am giving away the movie tie-in version of book and a $25 Visa gift card to see the film in theaters.  To enter, comment below with the name of your favorite book turned movie!

The winner will be contacted on Friday, September 26th. Good luck!

Be sure to check out all these movie extras!

Amy Dunne is missing. Her Pinterest page has been found.  #GoneGirl

Gone Girl’s Amy Dunne has a Pinterest account you can explore. In the upcoming movie thriller Gone Girl by David Fincher, ‘Amazing Amy’ Dunne (Rosamund Pike) has gone missing and all eyes are on her husband Nick (Ben Affleck.) Everyone is wondering ‘Did Nick kill his wife?’

As evidence mounts and speculation rises, Amy’s past is coming into focus on Pinterest. What was she like? What were her interests? Did she leave any clues? Explore for yourself at http://bit.ly/AmyDunne

GONE GIRL – In Theaters October 3

Official Website | Facebook |Twitter | Google+ | #GoneGirl

 About the film

Directed by David Fincher and based upon the global bestseller by Gillian Flynn – unearths the secrets at the heart of a modern marriage. On the occasion of his fifth wedding anniversary, Nick Dunne (Ben Affleck) reports that his beautiful wife, Amy (Rosamund Pike), has gone missing. Under pressure from the police and a growing media frenzy, Nick’s portrait of a blissful union begins to crumble. Soon his lies, deceits and strange behavior have everyone asking the same dark question: Did Nick Dunne kill his wife?

Release: October 3, 2014
Director: David Fincher
Screenplay by: Gillian Flynn, based upon the novel written by Gillian Flynn
Produced by: Arnon Milchan, Joshua Donen, Reese Witherspoon, Ceán Chaffin
Cast: Ben Affleck, Rosamund Pike, Neil Patrick Harris, Tyler Perry

 

 

TSS: Booktopia Asheville #BooktopiaAVL

You may have noticed that this blog has been quite for the past several days. I’ve spent the last few days in the beautiful Asheville, NC surrounded by a host of readers and writers.

Last Thursday, I hopped on a plane the short trip down to Asheville to attend Booktopia Asheville.  For those of you unfamiliar, Booktopia is a series of weekend reader/author retreats organized by Ann Kingman and Michael Kindness, hosts of the podcast Books On the Nightstand.  Booktopia is held in three cities each year; this year it was held in Manchester, VT; Boulder, CO; and Asheville NC.  After trying to get to a few of the previous Booktopia events I was thrilled to get in this year. Registration is limited to 85 to maintain the intimate setting for which Booktopia is known.

I was joined by three other bloggers: Jennifer (Literate Housewife), Jennifer (Bookalicious Mama) and Shannon (River City Reading). And what a wonderful weekend we had.

Before the retreat officially kicked off, the two Jennifer’s and I embarked on our own self-navigated filed trip to visit the site of Highland Hospital, the mental institution where Zelda Fitzgerald lost her life in a fire.  Although the building was lost in the fire, beneath this large, majestic tree we found a plaque dedicated to Zelda.

 

ZeldaCollage

Following this, we visited Grove Park Inn, the hotel where F. Scott Fitzgerald stayed while visiting Zelda during her many stays at Highland Hospital. Another breath-taking venue!

 

GrovePark

This was just the start of an incredibly rewarding weekend. In just a matter of a few days, I met/saw the following authors:

 Krista Bremer, MY ACCIDENTAL JIHAD
Wiley Cash, THIS DARK ROAD TO MERCY
Kim Church, BYRD
Denise Kiernan, The Girls of Atomic City: The Untold Story of the Women Who Helped Win World War II
Ariel Lawhon, THE WIFE, THE MAID AND THE MISTRESS
E. Lockhart, WE WERE LIARS
Anthony Marra, A CONSTELLATION OF VITAL PHENOMENA

 

AuthorsAsheville

Not only did I get to meet this outstanding authors, but I also had the opportunity to participate in dialogue in a small group setting that you just can’t find at any other book event.  I do plan on writing more about what each of the authors discussed as part of my reviews of each book, so stay tuned!

 

Also,  a special thank you to Malaprops, the independent bookstore that hosted many of the events.

 

Malaprops

 

 

Following is just a snapshot of some of the books I picked up during my visit:

IMG_3306IMG_3332BvqscIoIUAA8u82

 

If Booktopia does sound like the book event for you, I do encourage you to look into it. They are held annually in three locations around the country. This may have been my first Booktopia, but I doubt it will be my last. To be surrounded by so many book loving people…there is no equal to how this feels.

Thank you again, Ann and Michael, for this amazing experience.

Fall Book Preview: September, 2014, Part III

We’re in the final stretch! I’ve already shared Part I and Part II of my most anticipated books of September. Today, I’m pleased to wrap up this series with the final post.  Didn’t I warn you there were a lot of excellent books publishing in September? Click on the book cover or title to pre-order!

The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters (Sept. 16):

It is 1922, and London is tense. Ex-servicemen are disillusioned; the out-of-work and the hungry are demanding change. And in South London, in a genteel Camberwell villa—a large, silent house now bereft of brothers, husband, and even servants—life is about to be transformed as impoverished widow Mrs. Wray and her spinster daughter, Frances, are obliged to take in lodgers.

With the arrival of Lilian and Leonard Barber, a modern young couple of the “clerk class,” the routines of the house will be shaken up in unexpected ways. Little do the Wrays know just how profoundly their new tenants will alter the course of Frances’s life—or, as passions mount and frustration gathers, how far-reaching, and how devastating, the disturbances will be.

Short-listed for the Man Booker Prize three times, Sarah Waters has earned a reputation as one of our greatest writers of historical fiction, and here she has delivered again. A love story, a tension-filled crime story, and a beautifully atmospheric portrait of a fascinating time and place, The Paying Guests is Sarah Waters’s finest achievement yet.

The Witch’s Boy by Kelly Barnhill (Sept. 16):

When Ned and his identical twin brother tumble from their raft into a raging, bewitched river, only Ned survives. Villagers are convinced the wrong boy lived. Sure enough, Ned grows up weak and slow, and stays as much as possible within the safe boundaries of his family’s cottage and yard. But when a Bandit King comes to steal the magic that Ned’s mother, a witch, is meant to protect, it’s Ned who safeguards the magic and summons the strength to protect his family and community.

In the meantime, in another kingdom across the forest that borders Ned’s village lives Áine, the resourceful and pragmatic daughter of the Bandit King. She is haunted by her mother’s last words to her: “The wrong boy will save your life and you will save his.” But when Áine and Ned’s paths cross, can they trust each other long enough to make their way through the treacherous woods and stop the war about to boil over?

With a deft hand, acclaimed author Kelly Barnhill takes classic fairy tale elements–speaking stones, a friendly wolf, and a spoiled young king–and weaves them into a richly detailed narrative that explores good and evil, love and hate, magic, and the power of friendship.

The Infinite Sea: The Second Book of the 5th Wave by Rick Yancey (Sept. 16):

Cassie Sullivan and her companions lived through the Others’ four waves of destruction. Now, with the human race nearly exterminated and the 5th Wave rolling across the landscape, they face a choice: brace for winter and hope for Evan Walker’s return, or set out in search of other survivors before the enemy closes in. Because the next attack is more than possible—it’s inevitable.

No one can anticipate the depths to which the Others will sink, nor the heights to which humanity will rise, in the ultimate battle between life and death, hope and despair, love and hate.

Hardcase by Dan Simmons (Sept. 16):

Award-winning author Dan Simmons takes the reader on a trip with Kurtz through the cold, windy streets of Buffalo where one wrong move could mean a belly-full of lead…

Once Joe Kurtz needed revenge–and revenge cost him eleven years in Attica prison. Now Kurtz needs a job, and the price is going to be higher. Out of prison, out of touch, Kurtz signs on with the Byron Farino, Don of a Mob family whose son Kurtz had been protecting on the inside. Farino enlists Kurtz’s help to track down the Family’s missing accountant–a man with too much knowledge of Family business to have on the loose.

But someone doesn’t want the accountant found–and with enemies inside the Family vying for his throne, and turf warfare just around the corner, Farino needs an outsider like Kurtz to flush out who’s really behind this latest affront. As the story twists and turns and the body count rises, Kurtz no longer knows who he can trust. Everyone seems to be after something, from the mob boss’s sultry yet dangerous daughter, to a hit man named The Dane, an albino killer who is good with a knife, and a dwarf who is armed to the teeth and hell-bent on revenge. Kurtz has always been an ace investigator. Now he’s about to discover that to get at the truth, sometimes you have to go after it–hard.

Edge of Eternity: Book Three of the Century Trilogy by Ken Follett (Sept. 16):

Throughout these books, Follett has followed the fortunes of five intertwined families – American, German, Russian, English, and Welsh – as they make their way through the twentieth century. Now they come to one of the most tumultuous eras of all, the enormous social, political, and economic turmoil of the 1960s through the 1980s, from civil rights, assassinations, mass political movements and Vietnam to the Berlin Wall, the Cuban Missile Crisis, Presidential impeachment, revolution – and rock and roll.
 
East German teacher Rebecca Hoffman discovers she’s been spied on by the Stasi for years and commits an impulsive act that will affect her family for the rest of their lives…George Jakes, the child of a mixed-race couple, bypasses a corporate law career to join Robert F. Kennedy’s Justice Department, and finds himself in the middle not only of the seminal events of the civil rights battle, but a much more personal battle of his own…Cameron Dewar, the grandson of a Senator,  jumps at the chance to do some official and unofficial espionage for a cause he believes in, only to discover that the world is a much more dangerous place than he’d imagined…Dimka Dvorkin, a young aide to Nikita Khruschev, becomes a prime agent both for good and for ill as the U.S. and the Soviet Union race to the brink of nuclear war, while his twin sister Tania carves out a role that will take her from Moscow to Cuba to Prague to Warsaw – and into history.  
 
As always with Follett, the historical background is brilliantly researched and rendered, the action fast-moving, the characters rich in nuance and emotion. With the hand of a master, he brings us into a world we thought we knew but now will never seem the same again.

Rooms by Lauren Oliver (Sept. 23):

Wealthy Richard Walker has just died, leaving behind his country house full of rooms packed with the detritus of a lifetime. His estranged family—bitter ex-wife Caroline, troubled teenage son Trenton, and unforgiving daughter Minna—have arrived for their inheritance.

But the Walkers are not alone. Prim Alice and the cynical Sandra, long dead former residents bound to the house, linger within its claustrophobic walls. Jostling for space, memory, and supremacy, they observe the family, trading barbs and reminiscences about their past lives. Though their voices cannot be heard, Alice and Sandra speak through the house itself—in the hiss of the radiator, a creak in the stairs, the dimming of a light bulb.

The living and dead are each haunted by painful truths that will soon surface with explosive force. When a new ghost appears, and Trenton begins to communicate with her, the spirit and human worlds collide—with cataclysmic results.

Elegantly constructed and brilliantly paced, Rooms is an enticing and imaginative ghost story and a searing family drama that is as haunting as it is resonant.

Fire Shut Up in My Bones by Charles M. Blow (Sept. 23):

A gorgeous, moving memoir of how one of America’s most innovative and respected journalists found his voice by coming to terms with a painful past

New York Times columnist Charles M. Blow mines the compelling poetry of the out-of-time African-American Louisiana town where he grew up — a place where slavery’s legacy felt astonishingly close, reverberating in the elders’ stories and in the near-constant wash of violence.

Blow’s attachment to his mother — a fiercely driven woman with five sons, brass knuckles in her glove box, a job plucking poultry at a nearby factory, a soon-to-be-ex husband, and a love of newspapers and learning — cannot protect him from secret abuse at the hands of an older cousin. It’s damage that triggers years of anger and searing self-questioning.

Finally, Blow escapes to a nearby state university, where he joins a black fraternity after a passage of brutal hazing, and then enters a world of racial and sexual privilege that feels like everything he’s ever needed and wanted, until he’s called upon, himself, to become the one perpetuating the shocking abuse.

A powerfully redemptive memoir that both fits the tradition of African-American storytelling from the South, and gives it an indelible new slant.

Afterworlds by Scott Westerfeld (Sept. 23):

Darcy Patel has put college on hold to publish her teen novel, Afterworlds. With a contract in hand, she arrives in New York City with no apartment, no friends, and all the wrong clothes. But lucky for Darcy, she’s taken under the wings of other seasoned and fledgling writers who help her navigate the city and the world of writing and publishing. Over the course of a year, Darcy finishes her book, faces critique, and falls in love.

Woven into Darcy’s personal story is her novel, Afterworlds, a suspenseful thriller about a teen who slips into the “Afterworld” to survive a terrorist attack. The Afterworld is a place between the living and the dead, and where many unsolved—and terrifying—stories need to be reconciled. Like Darcy, Lizzie too falls in love…until a new threat resurfaces, and her special gifts may not be enough to protect those she cares about most.

Whew! What a list! Plenty of books to keep us all busy! Did I miss any books? Which titles are you most looking forward to?

Fall Book Preview: September, 2014, Part II

Yesterday, I shared the first of three posts spotlighting the September releases I’m excited about. Today I’m pleased to share the second list.  Once again, I’ve included the publisher’s summary and a link to preorder. Without further ado…

Of Monsters and Madness by Jessica Verday (Sept.9):

Annabel Lee is summoned from Siam to live with her father in 1820’s Philadelphia shortly after her mother’s death, but an unconventional upbringing makes her repugnant to her angry, secretive father.

Annabel becomes infatuated with her father’s assistant Allan, who dabbles in writing when he’s not helping with medical advancements. But in darker hours, when she’s not to be roaming the house, she encounters the devilish assistant Edgar, who bears an uncanny resemblance to Allan, and who others insist doesn’t exist.

A rash of murders across Philadelphia, coupled with her father’s strange behavior, leads Annabel to satisfy her curiosity and uncover a terrible truth: Edgar and Allan are two halves of the same person – and they are about to make the crimes detailed in Allan’s stories come to life. Unless Annabel stops them.

City of Stairs by Robert Jackson Bennett (Sept.9):

Years ago, the city of Bulikov wielded the powers of the Gods to conquer the world. But after its divine protectors were mysteriously killed, the conqueror has become the conquered; the city’s proud history has been erased and censored, progress has left it behind, and it is just another colonial outpost of the world’s new geopolitical power.

Into this musty, backward city steps Shara Divani. Officially, the quiet mousy woman is just another lowly diplomat sent by Bulikov’s oppressors. Unofficially, Shara is one of her country’s most accomplished spymasters—dispatched to investigate the brutal murder of a seemingly harmless historian.

As Shara pursues the mystery through the ever-shifting physical and political geography of the city, she begins to suspect that the beings who once protected Bulikov may not be as dead as they seem—and that her own abilities might be touched by the divine as well.

Five Days Left by Julie Lawson Timmer (Sept. 9):

Mara Nichols is a successful lawyer, devoted wife, and adoptive mother who has received a life-shattering diagnosis. Scott Coffman, a middle school teacher, has been fostering an eight-year-old boy while the boy’s mother serves a jail sentence. Scott and Mara both have five days left until they must say good-bye to the ones they love the most.

Through their stories, Julie Lawson Timmer explores the individual limits of human endurance and the power of relationships, and shows that sometimes loving someone means holding on, and sometimes it means letting go.

 

The Marco Effect: A Department Q Novelby Jussi Adler-Olsen (Sept. 9):

All fifteen-year-old Marco Jameson wants is to become a Danish citizen and go to school like a normal teenager. But his uncle Zola rules his former gypsy clan with an iron fist. Revered as a god and feared as a devil, Zola forces the children of the clan to beg and steal for his personal gain. When Marco discovers a dead body—proving the true extent of Zola’s criminal activities—he goes on the run. But his family members aren’t the only ones who’ll go to any lengths to keep Marco silent . . . forever.

Meanwhile, the last thing Detective Carl Mørck needs is for his assistants, Assad and Rose, to pick up a missing persons case on a whim: Carl’s nemesis is his new boss, and he’s saddled Department Q with an unwelcome addition. But when they learn that a mysterious teen named Marco may have as much insight into the case as he has fear of the police, Carl is determined to solve the mystery and save the boy. Carl’s actions propel the trio into a case that extends from Denmark to Africa, from embezzlers to child soldiers, from seemingly petty crime rings to the very darkest of cover-ups.

The Children Act by Ian McEwan (Sept. 9):

Fiona Maye is a leading High Court judge who presides over cases in the family court. She is renowned for her fierce intelligence, exactitude, and sensitivity. But her professional success belies private sorrow and domestic strife. There is the lingering regret of her childlessness, and now her marriage of thirty years is in crisis.

At the same time, she is called on to try an urgent case: Adam, a beautiful seventeen-year-old boy, is refusing for religious reasons the medical treatment that could save his life, and his devout parents echo his wishes. Time is running out. Should the secular court overrule sincerely expressed faith? In the course of reaching a decision, Fiona visits Adam in the hospital—and encounter that stirs long-buried feelings in her and powerful new emotions in the boy. Her judgment has momentous consequences for them both.


Station Eleven by Emily St John Mandel (Sept. 9):

An audacious, darkly glittering novel set in the eerie days of civilization’s collapse, Station Eleven tells the spellbinding story of a Hollywood star, his would-be savior, and a nomadic group of actors roaming the scattered outposts of the Great Lakes region, risking everything for art and humanity.

One snowy night Arthur Leander, a famous actor, has a heart attack onstage during a production of King Lear. Jeevan Chaudhary, a paparazzo-turned-EMT, is in the audience and leaps to his aid. A child actress named Kirsten Raymonde watches in horror as Jeevan performs CPR, pumping Arthur’s chest as the curtain drops, but Arthur is dead. That same night, as Jeevan walks home from the theater, a terrible flu begins to spread. Hospitals are flooded and Jeevan and his brother barricade themselves inside an apartment, watching out the window as cars clog the highways, gunshots ring out, and life disintegrates around them.

Fifteen years later, Kirsten is an actress with the Traveling Symphony. Together, this small troupe moves between the settlements of an altered world, performing Shakespeare and music for scattered communities of survivors. Written on their caravan, and tattooed on Kirsten’s arm is a line from Star Trek: “Because survival is insufficient.” But when they arrive in St. Deborah by the Water, they encounter a violent prophet who digs graves for anyone who dares to leave.

Spanning decades, moving back and forth in time, and vividly depicting life before and after the pandemic, this suspenseful, elegiac novel is rife with beauty. As Arthur falls in and out of love, as Jeevan watches the newscasters say their final good-byes, and as Kirsten finds herself caught in the crosshairs of the prophet, we see the strange twists of fate that connect them all. A novel of art, memory, and ambition, 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.

Sabotage by Matt Cook (Sept. 9):

A missing Stanford professor and a cruise ship held hostage begin a thrilling story of action and espionage on the high seas.

A cruise ship loses power in the North Atlantic. A satellite launches in the South Pacific. Professor Malcolm Clare—celebrated aviator, entrepreneur, and aerospace engineer—disappears from Stanford University and wakes up aboard an unknown jet, minutes before the aircraft plunges into the high seas.

An extortionist code-named “Viking” has seized control of a private warfare technology, pitting a US defense corporation against terrorist conspirators in a bidding war. His leverage: a threat to destroy the luxury liner and its 3,000 passengers.

Stanford doctoral student Austin Hardy, probing the disappearance of his professor, seeks out Malcolm Clare’s daughter Victoria, an icy brunette with a secret that sweeps them to Saint Petersburg. Helped by a team of graduates on campus, they must devise Trojan horses, outfox an assassin, escape murder in Bruges, and sidestep treachery in order to unravel Viking’s scheme. Failure would ensure economic armageddon in the United States.

Both on US soil and thousands of miles away, the story roars into action at supersonic speed. Filled with an enigmatic cast of characters, Matt Cook’s debut novel is a sure thrill ride for those who love the puzzles of technology, cryptology, and people. 

Broken Monsters by Lauren Beukes (Sept. 16):

A criminal mastermind creates violent tableaus in abandoned Detroit warehouses in Lauren Beukes’s new genre-bending novel of suspense.

Detective Gabriella Versado has seen a lot of bodies. But this one is unique even by Detroit’s standards: half boy, half deer, somehow fused together. As stranger and more disturbing bodies are discovered, how can the city hold on to a reality that is already tearing at its seams?
If you’re Detective Versado’s geeky teenage daughter, Layla, you commence a dangerous flirtation with a potential predator online. If you’re desperate freelance journalist Jonno, you do whatever it takes to get the exclusive on a horrific story. If you’re Thomas Keen, known on the street as TK, you’ll do what you can to keep your homeless family safe–and find the monster who is possessed by the dream of violently remaking the world.
If Lauren Beukes’s internationally bestselling The Shining Girls was a time-jumping thrill ride through the past, her Broken Monsters is a genre-redefining thriller about broken cities, broken dreams, and broken people trying to put themselves back together again.

Whew! Another outstanding list of books, right? Stay tuned for tomorrow for the final post in this series!

Fall Book Preview: September, 2014, Part I

School is starting back up here again in the next few weeks and the promise of cool, fall weather is just around the corner.  Fall is, by far, my favorite season of the year.  Here in Virginia, trees begin to change color, a piece of artwork created by Mother Nature I look forward to each year.

Fall also brings a flurry activity in the publishing world! September, alone, has dozens of books publishing that have caught my eye.  So many, in fact, that it requires I have not one, not two, but three posts previewing the books I’m most exited about.

As always, I’ve provided the publisher’s summary and a link to pre-order (by clicking on the title or book cover). Enjoy!

The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell (Sept. 2):

A vast, intricate novel that weaves six narratives and spans from 1984 to the 2030s about a secret war between a cult of soul-decanters and the small group of vigilantes who try to take them down. An up-all-night story that fluently mixes the supernatural, sci-fi, horror, social satire, and heartbreaking realism and will elevate David to an even higher level of success.

 

 

 

 

Blackfin Sky by Kat Ellis (Sept.2):

Just like any other morning, Skylar Rousseau is late for school, but when she is greeted by a blanket of silent stares upon entering Blackfin High, she discovers that the whole town thought she fell from the pier and drowned on her sixteenth birthday three months earlier. However, Sky remembers the last three months living her life as normal, and since she is a full, living breathing human being, she has no idea whose body is buried underneath her tombstone. Everyone seems reluctant to help except her steadfast friend and crush, Sean . . . and a secretive man who draws her to a mysterious circus in the woods.

Sky must wade through impossibilities and lies to discover the truth about what happened to her, which proves to be a bit difficult when someone is following her every move with the intent to harm her. And Sky’s only hope of finding the answers she seeks may have already been turned to ashes.

 

Somewhere Safe with Somebody Good by Jan Karon (Sept.2):

After five hectic years of retirement from Lord’s Chapel, Father Tim Kavanagh returns with his wife, Cynthia, from a so-called pleasure trip to the land of his Irish ancestors.

While glad to be at home in Mitford, something is definitely missing: a pulpit. But when he’s offered one, he decides he doesn’t want it. Maybe he’s lost his passion.


His adopted son, Dooley, wrestles with his own passion—for the beautiful and gifted Lace Turner, and his vision to become a successful country vet. Dooley’s brother, Sammy, still enraged by his mother’s abandonment, destroys one of Father Tim’s prized possessions. And Hope Murphy, owner of Happy Endings bookstore, struggles with the potential loss of her unborn child and her hard-won business.


All this as Wanda’s Feel Good Café opens, a romance catches fire through an Internet word game, their former mayor hatches a reelection campaign to throw the bums out, and the weekly Muse poses a probing inquiry: Does Mitford still take care of its own?

The Secret Place by Tana French (Sept. 2):

The photo on the card shows a boy who was found murdered, a year ago, on the grounds of a girls’ boarding school in the leafy suburbs of Dublin. The caption says I KNOW WHO KILLED HIM.

Detective Stephen Moran has been waiting for his chance to get a foot in the door of Dublin’s Murder Squad—and one morning, sixteen-year-old Holly Mackey brings him this photo. “The Secret Place,” a board where the girls at St. Kilda’s School can pin up their secrets anonymously, is normally a mishmash of gossip and covert cruelty, but today someone has used it to reignite the stalled investigation into the murder of handsome, popular Chris Harper. Stephen joins forces with the abrasive Detective Antoinette Conway to find out who and why.

But everything they discover leads them back to Holly’s close-knit group of friends and their fierce enemies, a rival clique—and to the tangled web of relationships that bound all the girls to Chris Harper. Every step in their direction turns up the pressure. Antoinette Conway is already suspicious of Stephen’s links to the Mackey family. St. Kilda’s will go a long way to keep murder outside their walls. Holly’s father, Detective Frank Mackey, is circling, ready to pounce if any of the new evidence points toward his daughter. And the private underworld of teenage girls can be more mysterious and more dangerous than either of the detectives imagined.

The Skeleton Takes a Bowby Leigh Perry (Sept. 2):

While using his head to play Yorick’s skull in a high school production of Hamlet, Sid the Skeleton witnesses a murder. Now Georgia Thackery and her bony best buddy will both need to keep their heads as they stick their necks out and play sleuth to catch the killer…

Personal by Lee Child (Sept. 2):

Lee Child has become a bestselling juggernaut, and his iconic hero Jack Reacher has been dubbed “one of the most enduring action heroes on the American landscape.” (The New York Times). With each new entry, critics fall harder for Reacher and legions of new fans climb on the bandwagon. Now, Child once again gives a jolt of pure adrenaline to the suspense genre, with a story so gripping that even the most weathered Reacher fans will find themselves on the edge of their seats. Where will Reacher turn up this time? And which bad guys are in for a hard fall? Stay tuned to this spot—as one of the most popular authors in the world is about to become even bigger.

Acceptance by Jeff Vandermeer (Sept. 2):

The final installment of Jeff VanderMeer’s Southern Reach Trilogy

It is winter in Area X. A new team embarks across the border on a mission to find a member of a previous expedition who may have been left behind. As they press deeper into the unknown—navigating new terrain and new challenges—the threat to the outside world becomes more daunting. In Acceptance, the last installment of Jeff VanderMeer’s Southern Reach Trilogy, the mysteries of Area X may have been solved, but their consequences and implications are no less profound—or terrifying.

A mesmerizing biography of the brilliant and eccentric medical innovator who revolutionized American surgery and founded the country’s most famous museum of medical oddities

Imagine undergoing an operation without anesthesia performed by a surgeon who refuses to sterilize his tools—or even wash his hands. This was the world of medicine when Thomas Dent Mütter began his trailblazing career as a plastic surgeon in Philadelphia during the middle of the nineteenth century.

Although he died at just forty-eight, Mütter was an audacious medical innovator who pioneered the use of ether as anesthesia, the sterilization of surgical tools, and a compassion-based vision for helping the severely deformed, which clashed spectacularly with the sentiments of his time. Brilliant, outspoken, and brazenly handsome, Mütter was flamboyant in every aspect of his life. He wore pink silk suits to perform surgery, added an umlaut to his last name just because he could, and amassed an immense collection of medical oddities that would later form the basis of Philadelphia’s Mütter Museum.

Award-winning writer Cristin O’Keefe Aptowicz vividly chronicles how Mütter’s efforts helped establish Philadelphia as a global mecca for medical innovation—despite intense resistance from his numerous rivals. (Foremost among them: Charles D. Meigs, an influential obstetrician who loathed Mütter’s “overly modern” medical opinions.) In the narrative spirit of The Devil in the White City, Dr. Mütter’s Marvels interweaves an eye-opening portrait of nineteenth-century medicine with the riveting biography of a man once described as the “P. T. Barnum of the surgery room.”

The Barter by Siobhan Adcock (Sept. 4):

The Barter is a ghost story and a love story, a riveting emotional tale that also explores motherhood and work and feminism. Set in Texas, in present day, and at the turn of the twentieth century, the novel follows two young mothers at the turning point of their lives.

Bridget has given up her career as an attorney to raise her daughter, joining a cadre of stay-at-home mothers seeking fulfillment in a quiet suburb. But for Bridget, some crucial part of the exchange is absent: Something she loves and needs. And now a terrifying presence has entered her home; only nobody but Bridget can feel it.

On a farm in 1902, a young city bride takes a farmer husband. The marriage bed will become both crucible and anvil as Rebecca first allows, then negates, the powerful erotic connection between them. She turns her back on John to give all her love to their child. Much will occur in this cold house, none of it good.

As Siobhan Adcock crosscuts these stories with mounting tension, each woman arrives at a terrible ordeal of her own making, tinged with love and fear and dread. What will they sacrifice to save their families—and themselves? Readers will slow down to enjoy the gorgeous language, then speed up to see what happens next in a plot that thrums with the weight of decision—and its explosive consequences.

Whew! Quite a list, right? And these are just titles published the first week of September! Check back tomorrow for Part II!