Sunday, August 19, 2012

Fall into Fiction

I'm knee deep in meaty, thick novels from authors that I love. What's a girl to do when you can't seem to finish a book a month? Well, I guess I'm in for a long fall. I guess that's okay, though because time will be spent with some of favorite authors.

On the top of my "chunkster" reading list is The Secret Keeper by Kate Morton. This early copy came addressed to me at the bookstore I work at. I gasped. It was a delightful way to come into work.

Description from Simon and Schuster:
The new novel from the New York Times and internationally bestselling author of The Distant Hours is a spellbinding mix of mystery, thievery, murder, and enduring love.

During a party at the family farm in the English countryside, sixteen-year-old Laurel Nicolson has escaped to her childhood tree house and is dreaming of the future. She spies a stranger coming up the road and sees her mother speak to him. Before the afternoon is over, Laurel will witness a shocking crime that challenges everything she knows about her family and especially her mother, Dorothy. 
Now, fifty years later, Laurel is a successful and well-regarded actress, living in London. She returns to the family farm for Dorothy’s ninetieth birthday and finds herself overwhelmed by questions she has not thought about for decades. From pre-WWII England through the Blitz, to the fifties and beyond, discover the secret history of three strangers from vastly different worlds—Dorothy, Vivien, and Jimmy—who meet by chance in wartime London and whose lives are forever entwined.
The Secret Keeper explores longings and dreams, the lengths people go to fulfill them, and the consequences they can have. It is a story of lovers, friends, dreamers, and schemers told—in Morton’s signature style—against a backdrop of events that changed the world.

I can not tell you how excited I am to read this. It came completely as a surprise to me that she even HAD a new book coming out. I was so diligent about checking her website and then I don't for a few months and POOF! new book.

Other chunkster, meaty reads that I'm excited for include (and are already out):

Broken Harbor by Tana French

Live by Night by Dennis Lehane

The Shoemaker's Wife by Adriana Trigiani

I will definitely be falling hard into fiction this fall. Wish me luck!

All I can say is that my bookclubs better pick some light reads or else I'm done for. Once I get over the monstrous weight of Freedom by Jonathan Franzen. ugh.

What are you all excited for this fall?

Happy Reading and as always, thanks for stopping by!

red headed book child

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Review: Widow's Might by Sandra Brannan

To say the third book in the Liv Bergen series was highly anticipated is an understatement. This will be my third year knowing Sandra Brannan and my third year enjoying her books. I look forward to the many more years I will have reading more of her books.

Like I mentioned in my final Year of Mysteries Giveaway, I will be posting a lot about Sandra and her books this month to lead up to the book signing event she will be doing at my bookstore in September.
She deserves as much press as she can get. :)

Because this is third in the series and there may be folks out there who have not heard of them, here is a quick description of each from the author's website.

Book 1: In the Belly of Jonah

The puzzle of “a window cut into a girl’s body” leads to a serial killer with an artistic bent in this thrilling mystery set in a Colorado mining community.
In the Belly of Jonah is a fast-paced mystery with a likable protagonist and an intricately woven narrative brimming with bizarre yet believable twists. The first in a series, the book expertly lays the groundwork for Liv Bergen, amateur sleuth, and her love interest, FBI Agent Streeter Pierce.
Liv becomes involved in the investigation of the murder of Jill Brannigan, a summer intern at the limestone mine Liv manages near Fort Collins, Colorado (a breathtaking setting that unwittingly becomes an accessory to crime). In doing so, she inadvertently puts her friends, her family, and herself at risk of being swallowed in the belly of a madman bloated with perverse appetites for women, surrealistic art, and renown.
Perhaps a bit too daring (and at times irreverent) for her own good, “Boots,” as Liv’s eight siblings call her, soon realizes she has a knack for outsmarting and tracking down the Venus de Milo murderer—and she enjoys it! As the gripping plot of In the Belly of Jonah unfolds, Liv Bergen takes her place alongside the best female crime-solvers as a woman with smarts, self-confidence, and intuitive savvy.

Book 2: Lot's Return to Sodom

The Sturgis Motorcycle Rally is no place for buttoned-down citizens—unless they’re trying to hide a murder or two.
In this second book in the eponymous series, gutsy, sharp-witted Liv Bergen vows to clear her brother’s name as a murder suspect. Her way is hindered, though, by half a million bikers and gawkers who have turned the Black Hills of South Dakota into a modern-day Sodom in the dog days of summer.
When Liv witnesses a second homicide, she attracts the uninvited attentions of Mully, the menacing leader of biker gang Lucifer’s Lot. Their cat-and-mouse game puts Liv once again in the path of FBI agent Streeter Pierce, who’s gone undercover to find the perp in the first murder—plus a shadow criminal called the Crooked Man.
Liv taps every ounce of brains and brawn she has to avoid becoming the killer’s next victim, and the intriguing Streeter shoots to kill.

Book 3: Widow's Might

A vengeful killer with a crooked sense of justice threatens Liv and those she loves most.
The murder of her future sister-in-law has been solved, but Liv Bergen finds herself drawn into a new murder investigation. A rancher has been bludgeoned to death in a style eerily reminiscent of a long-inactive serial killer known only as the Crooked Man—and the rancher’s frail yet feisty widow has been assaulted. Sharp-witted, plucky Liv is asked to be the handler of Beulah, the FBI’s man-trailing bloodhound. Together they unearth critical clues as to the Crooked Man’s whereabouts and warped mind.
FBI agent Streeter Pierce likewise turns his sights on tracking down his nemesis from ten years earlier. Pierce doesn’t complain, though; he’s falling in love with Liv and sets in motion an unconventional way to recruit her for the FBI’s training camp in Quantico as they work the case together. But is Liv falling for the brilliant, exotic agent Jack Linwood instead?
Once again, Liv “Boots” Bergen showcases her vast knowledge of the Black Hills of South Dakota – territory made famous by the gold rush that followed General George Custer’s expedition—and the novel folk who live there.

One of the things I like about this series is how personable they are. The people, the places all are very familiar and real to me. Liv Bergen herself, though described  differently in the book, reminds me of the Sandra and other people I know. Does this make for tricky reading when they get into rough and often terrifying situations? Yes, you bet. But it also makes it very easy for me to root for them.

The style of writing is also very straight forward. It's crime solving through and through with smart characters that aren't overly portrayed or done up in a way that they become cliche. Liv is a pretty normal gal who is smart and doesn't really take a lot of crap.  She comes from a big family and has a strong community around her. Though amateur in the crime solving stuff, she puts it all together by just her know how. (seriously...from mining to General Custer's expedition, this gals knows some s*$@).

Streeter is definitely the catch, in my opinion, but his allure is subtle. I have an active imagination so Sandra's writing of his no nonsense character allows for my mind to daydream about him a bit!

I have read many a mystery and I love all kinds. I said from the start that I thought Sandra's books were well written. She's got a schtick, if I dare use that word. She's created a solid character combined with settings you can tell she knows very well and mixes it with really clever, intricate crime solving. You can't beat that. 

Like any series, there will probably be one or two that may not hit me as strongly. The crime and history in this one didn't interest me as much as the first two but I still enjoyed the read. It had nothing to do with anything else but my mood. I am so happy for where Liv's character is going (no spoilers). I so very much look forward to the next book. I will miss Streeter and Liv's various family members in the meantime. :(

Rating: Recommend
Really folks, give this series a shot, especially if you are a mystery/thriller fan. They have everything you need from tough detectives, a sassy amateur sleuth, intriguing locales and some serious "What the..?" crime solving.

Title:  Widow's Might
Author: Sandra Brannan
Publisher: Greenleaf Book Group Press
Genre: Mystery/Thriller
Format: ARC
Purchase: IndieBound

More fun stuff about Sandra Brannan and her books:

Exclusives main page https://apps.odylfarm.
Widow's Might excerpt https://apps.odylfarm.
Giveaways main page https://apps.odylfarm.
Kindle Fire Giveaway https://apps.

Book Trailer Winner:

It's from Candace Hawkins, blogger and reviewer at Lovey Dovey Books. Here is what Candace had to say:

"I signed up for the Widow's Might book trailer contest ready for a new experience, but I never imagined I'd actually win the contest. I loved the challenge of putting together a short video that would, hopefully, show viewers what the story is about and pique their curiosity. The biggest part of the challenge was deciding how to portray the novel's plot, but understanding the story and characters and knowing why I enjoyed the story made creating the trailer that much more easier. Winning the contest has just made my year!"

Happy Reading and as always, thanks for stopping by!

red headed book child

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Review: Chicago, the Musical

Once again, I had the pleasure of being a part of Blogger Night at the Ordway Theater in St.Paul. What this means is that, along with a guest, I was able to see the musical Chicago on opening night. Write a review? No prob! My pleasure. Are you kidding?
 I am a huge theater fan! 

This opportunity began in June when I saw the musical, Fela. I was ecstatic to learn that it would be a continued opportunity.

I have never seen Chicago live. The many times I've been to New York this is one show my friends didn't really want to see. Chalk it up to seeing the movie already...yada yada...I don't know why but it never happened. I, on the other hand, HAVE been interested in it.
Yes, I loved the movie version with Renee Zellweger and Catherine Zeta Jones. You bet I have sung All that Jazz and Roxie Hart with fierce gusto in my car on the way to work. And, yep, I have slumped around in my slippers to Mr. Cellophane. Please, google these songs for the awesome music and begin your own dance party. 

This performance, though different from the movie, was electric and right on. John O' Hurley (from Seinfeld, Family Feud and Dancing with the Stars) was indeed the big star and got a round of applause when arriving on stage for the first time. He was certainly charming and wonderful as Billy. For me, however, it was the actress who played Roxie and the actor who played Amos that I liked the most.

Here's my quick recap of the story:

Setting: 1920s, Chicago. Roxie kills her lover Fred. Her husband Amos takes the fall until he  finds out she was fooling around. Roxie goes to jail, where women are stars for killing their men. She takes the spotlight away from Velma, another inmate, after hooking up with razzle dazzle lawyer, Billy.

Here's the blurb from the Ordway website:

The funniest songs, the hottest dancing, the sexiest cast and the greatest story on Broadway—no wonder Chicagohas been honored with six Tony Awards, two Olivier Awards, a Grammy and thousands of standing ovations.

Starring John O’Hurley, Chicago has everything that makes Broadway great: a universal tale of fame, fortune and all that jazz; one show-stopping song after another; and the most astonishing dancing you’ve ever seen. Come on, babe! Don’t you deserve a sure thing?

All in the all, the music was amazing, and the performers, most straight from the Broadway production, were beyond talented. I enjoyed every moment of it. 

The only bad thing? The next day I woke up with tonsilitis. Boo.

Thanks for stopping by!

red headed book child

Sunday, August 5, 2012

The FINAL Year of Mysterious Giveaway: August 2012

As I mentioned a few months ago, August would be my final Year of Mysterious Giveaway. Due to cost reasons, low response and me generally sucking about keeping up with it, I decided to end it. I wanted to go out with a bang with one of my favorite mystery/thriller authors out there, Sandra Brannan.

Most of you know my story and connection with Sandra, going back a few years now to when I met her at my first BEA and Book Blogger Convention. There I got her first book and read it on my flight home. I loved it and have eagerly awaited each book in the series. Widow's Might marks the third book in her series featuring, Liv Bergen.

I am very excited to have a copy to give away to one of my readers. Stay tuned for more posts about this book and Sandra coming up in the next month. She will be doing a book signing at the bookstore I work at in September and I'll have lots to post at that time.

Here's a description from Goodreads:
The third Liv Bergen mystery picks up right where the second one left off: the murder of Liv’s future sister-in-law has been solved, but an older rancher has been bludgeoned to death in a style eerily reminiscent of a long-inactive killer known only as the Crooked Man. FBI agent Streeter Pierce, still on assignment in Sturgis, South Dakota, must now turn his sights on tracking down the killer—his nemesis from ten years earlier. Pierce doesn’t complain, though; he’s falling in love with Liv and sets in motion an unconventional plan to recruit her for the FBI’s training camp in Quantico as they work the case together. But is Liv falling for the brilliant, exotic agent Jack Linwood instead?

Once again, Liv’s vast knowledge of the Black Hills of South Dakota—territory made famous by the gold rush that followed General George Custer’s expedition—and the novel folk who live there leads her to unearth critical clues about the Crooked Man. But are facts enough to safeguard Liv’s sister Elizabeth and her friend, an elderly woman battling cancer who was attacked just days after her husband was murdered? Will the frail yet feisty widow recover her strength in time to help Liv thwart the Crooked Man’s murderous plans and fatal blows?

If you have not heard of this series, well, shame on you. No, seriously, here's the link to her website (Sandra Brannan) to check out her first two titles. Her character Liv is whip smart, nosy, funny and a whole lot of fun to read. Oh and there is a sexy FBI agent too. !

Contest Rules:
Runs from August 5-September 15 
(running longer to match her event at Magers and Quinn Booksellers)
Please be a follower of my blog
Please leave an email address
Please reside in the United States


Happy Reading and as always, thanks for stopping by!

red headed book child

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Review: Every Day by David Levithan

I snagged this ARC from work a few weeks back, intrigued that the author David Levithan was the co-author of Will Grayson, Will Grayson, a book I've been meaning to read. It turned out to be a quick and fascinating read. I'm looking forward to recommending it once it comes out later this month.

Here's the description from Goodreads:
Every morning, A wakes in a different person’s body, a different person’s life. There’s never any warning about where it will be or who it will be. A has made peace with that, even established guidelines by which to live: Never get too attached. Avoid being noticed. Do not interfere.

It’s all fine until the morning that A wakes up in the body of Justin and meets Justin’s girlfriend, Rhiannon. From that moment, the rules by which A has been living no longer apply. Because finally A has found someone he wants to be with—day in, day out, day after day.

With his new novel, David Levithan has pushed himself to new creative heights. He has written a captivating story that will fascinate readers as they begin to comprehend the complexities of life and love in A’s world, as A and Rhiannon seek to discover if you can truly love someone who is destined to change every day

It's impossible to imagine waking up every day in a different body. Would it be cool for awhile? Painful? Annoying? Awesome? Hard to say. I think A's character felt a little bit of everything along the way until he meets Rhiannon. Now he only wants to go wake up with her and to experience the love and real connnection with another person, instead of starting over every day.

I really felt for A, in his courage to accept his fate and manage what comes to him every time he wakes up. It was survival mode all the way. Make it through the day without screwing up the person's life in which you inhabit for 24 hours.

Once Rhiannon and A meet and the truth comes out, Leviathan does a good job with the portraying the struggles of what love really is. What if the person  you love looks different every day? A woman one day? A man the next? A's character always stayed the same age but everything else changed. Rhiannon, at times, had a hard time seeing past the outside to get to the inside. And A desperately tried to show her he was still in there.

Rating: Recommend
This was a wonderful read. It would appeal to a wide audience, definitely more thought provoking young adult. Perhaps for fans of John Green.

Title: Every Day
Author: David Levithan
Genre: Young Adult
Publisher: Random House
Release Date: August 28, 2012
Purchase: IndieBound

Happy Reading and as always, thanks for stopping by!

red headed book child