alwaysamy: (pumpkin)

I came to Neil Gaiman really late, not being a fantasy or comics reader. But I fell in love with Coraline, and so many people I know adore his work that I knew I needed to read The Graveyard Book.

The premise is something out of a nightmare—the mysterious “man Jack” kills an entire family, intending to end with the toddler in the upstairs bedroom. Instead, the child escapes, and makes his way to the graveyard’s gate, where a kindly “ghost” immediately takes the child in. As a mother, the image of this baby crawling up the hill, alone in the night, to a graveyard absolutely chilled me, but what happens there is the best possible outcome.

Read more... )
alwaysamy: (books)
I read an excellent blog called Bookshelves of Doom, written by a Maine librarian who loves YA fiction (among other things). She posted a link to a reading challenge on another blog that initially began as a sci-fi site and has broadened its scope, and it's exactly right for this time of year! (Well, on purpose. Duh.) 

It's called the R.I.P. Challenge, aka Readers Imbibing Peril, and it's all about reading stories that haunt, terrify, and spook, tales that poke into the dark corners and wake the ghosts and explore the unknown. Which is what I do every year at this time anyway, leading up to Halloween! That's when I revisit Shirley Jackson  and some of my favorite Stephen King stories, and when I look for new horror novels (and also pull out my DVDs of The Haunting and other scary favorites).

As the challenge states, the goals are pretty simple: 

1) Have fun reading.
2) Share that fun with others.

Simple, right? 

It's running now through October 31st, and started September 1st (actually a day or two before that, I think), but it's early days! If you want to pick some books about things that go bump in the night (and they don't have to be YA, to be clear), you can simply read them and enjoy them, or you can sign up and post reviews, as well.

Which is what I'm planning to do! So far I'm planning on:

The Graveyard Book, Neil Gaiman
The Ghost Stories of Edith Wharton
Magic For Beginners, Kelly Link
Valiant, Holly Black

But I may try to pick up a few more! Check out the link above -- there are actually different ways to tackle this, if you want to be more organized about it.




alwaysamy: (books)
I just finished The Thirteenth Tale, by Diane Setterfield. WOW. One of the best books I've read in years. It's everything a novel should be, in the most old-fashioned sense of the word, and her style is timeless -- there are no pop culture references here, no mentions of TV or the Internet, or even cell phones. It could be set anytime in the last thirty years or so, and in the end it doesn't matter *when* it's set.

It's got everything -- ghosts, twins, madness, incest, a crumbling old estate, a governess, a secret baby, and most importantly books themselves. The power of story here is the point, and it's magnificent.

I'm finishing up The Sweet Far Thing, by Libba Bray, right now -- I have no idea why it took me so long to get to this book, which is the third in her series. After that, I'm wide open, and remembering what summer usually means to me when it comes to books.

For years, of course, some lucky summers meant a new Harry Potter, and almost every summer means a new Julia Quinn and/or a new Nicci French -- light, sexy or suspenseful beach reads. There's no more Harry (::sobs bitterly::), and I think I've grown out of Quinn and French, much as I liked them in the past.

Any recommendations?

alwaysamy: (books)
I stole this from Facebook. The object was to sit down and note the first fifteen books that came to mind within fifteen minutes. This is my fairly weird list. A scholar I am not, apparently.

I did this here because I wanted to write a little about each title, and Facebook sometimes seemed a little cramped to me. So. Post your own list! It's fun.



alwaysamy: (sam squee)
My friend Jilli, aka The Lady of the Manners, has written a book. And if you go here, you can see the first of several charming videos about it! 

And if you go here, you can see her gorgeously redesigned website, the fabulous Gothic Charm School, where you'll find all sort of tidbits about her new book...

which looks like this: 



Go! Browse, buy! And take note of the subtitle: An Essential Guide for Goths and Those Who Love Them. It's as charming as Jilli herself, and a fascinating read (even for those of us whose Goth stops with a love of haunted houses and an affinity for the Addames).

Book rec!

Mar. 15th, 2009 10:54 am
alwaysamy: (all work no play)
I just finished Joe Hill's 20th Century Ghosts, and I'm still reeling, in that dizzy, giddy way that comes after something's spun you around and left you breathless.

This is a collection of short stories, and first of all, I'd forgotten how much I love this form. It's one I never mastered (I write long, I guess -- all of my short stories sort of ... stop, rather than end, because I realize I'm running out of space). I was interested in it because his Heart-Shaped Box had gotten so much praise, and because I love good, thinky horror. 

I think what surprised me most was that this collection isn't simply horror -- "Better Than Home," for instance, is simply a story about a boy and his dad (and a really gorgeous one, full of the kind of realistic, almost uncomfortable detail that makes it ring true). And some of the pieces are more dark fantasy than anything else, or maybe closer to dark magical realism -- "Pop Art," for example, which is about, very literally, an inflatable boy. (And broke my heart in about a million ways -- it's sharp and exquisite and incredibly true on every level.)

When Hill breaks out the horror, though, he doesn't hold back -- "Abraham's Boys" is horrifying on a very realistic level, and "My Father's Mask" is so startling and dreamlike and surreal, it made actually me squirmy. "Best New Horror" goes exactly where you think it shouldn't -- couldn't possibly -- go, and it works so well, it's like a gut punch. 

If you like horror, or simply like excellent writing, take a look. And check out Hill's blog -- he's running a Love Your Indie Bookstore contest this month, which is awesome of him.

Now to finish Heart-Shaped Box, which is *thisclose* to giving me nightmares.

New book!

Dec. 2nd, 2008 02:41 pm
alwaysamy: (stop look)
Here's the cover of my Harlequin Super Romance title, Pictures of Us, available in January!



This isn't a typical romance, in that the couple involved is already married. It was originally intended to be part of Harlequin's Everlasting line (see the hot pink oval there?), which unfortunately didn't last long. Everlasting was created to showcase relationships, in all their complicated glory -- decades-long marriages, for instance, or the stories of love lost and found again later.

This is that kind of story. Tess and Michael may be married when the book begins, but their history isn't as simple as a high school romance with a happy ending...and their future is suddenly more uncertain than either of them would have ever predicted.

Stay tuned for more teasers...

New book!

Jun. 7th, 2008 10:57 am
alwaysamy: (writer)
Hot Date is out now -- feels like it's been a while since I had a book on the shelves! Here's a peek.



NEEDED: ONE HOT MAN...

Soon-to-be ex-husband in the rearview mirror. Hometown straight ahead. Grace Lamb at the wheel, beginning a whole new life in an about-to-drop-dead old VW bus. She plans to start a gardening business in the charming hamlet of Wrightsville, PA, and put her green thumb to good use. Hey, why not? Flower, ferns, even plain old grass like her…they really like her. What could go wrong? Everything, once the bus breaks down and a local cop pulls over to help. One luck through the windshield and Grace is feeling lucky again. The man in blue is none other than Nick Griffin, her former childhood crush, all grown up and looking incredibly handsome and sexy. Yes, officer, there is a problem…

WHO'S READY FOR ROMANCE     

At last. Something to do. Wrightsville isn’t the most exciting beat, despite nabbing the hardened criminal who stole the library’s Harry Potter collection. Nick can’t take his eyes off the drop-dead gorgeous redhead with the broken-down VW bus. Grace’s looks may have changed for the better (way better) since she was a kid following Nick and her big brother around, but he’s about to find out that she still gets into the strangest scrapes. And from messing with the mob over a bunch of vintage sex toys (don’t ask) to making Nick forget that he has a brain when she happens to touch him, Grace still drives him crazy. Except now he’s falling crazy in love…

Stay tuned for reviews, what I was listening to when I wrote this, why Hot Date is the wrong title (heh), and excerpts...
alwaysamy: (bookstore)
After a month of not being able to settle on a book to read, I'm drowning in books at the moment. Got Minette Walters' The Devil's Feather and Ruth Rendell's Thirteen Steps Down out of the library, and am waiting on the new Deborah Crombie, Water Like a Stone. New books by favorite authors! Finally.

Of course, the other day I forgot to bring my book to work. With an hour break for dinner, the idea of being bookless struck me with terror. So I wandered over to the Waldenbooks and not only picked up a new Laurie R. King, The Art of Detection (which I didn't even know was out -- my radar must be faulty), but I found ROOM SERVICE on the front wall under New Releases! Very cool.

Yay!

May. 31st, 2007 10:29 am
alwaysamy: (room service)
All About Romance has given Room Service a B+!

Here are a few of the snippets that made me preen:

"I really enjoyed this book; it was fun, had an interesting plot, and featured likable characters. My mouth watered reading about Rhys’ cooking and his food descriptions. Rhys and Olivia were interesting people."

"This sweet and entertaining novel is lots of fun. I recommend it highly."

Want to read the whole review? Look here.

One last note: AAR has come under fire in the past for being too brutal. I disagree. One of the reasons I love the site and love their honesty is because books cost money. I don't want to buy something that's going to turn out to be a waste of my time *or* my hard-earned dollars.

And in this review, of my book? Every nit they pick is something I can nod at and say, "Yup, I should have done that, I should have developed that plot point or that character." The AAR reviewers are smart women (and men), and I appreciate their frank reviews, especially when romance is so often accused of being a rainbows and kittens girls club.
alwaysamy: (room service)
Room Service hits stores today (although I hear it was available in some places over the weekend).

Here's the back cover copy:

WELCOME TO CALLENDER HOUSE

Olivia Callender needs a wake-up call. With a hundred-year-old hotel to rehabilitate, a staff of lovable eccentrics to marshal, and guests to keep happy, she has no one but herself to blame for daydreaming through the past few years--or her uncle's threat to take over the hotel.

And Rhys Spencer isn't helping. When the sexy British chef checked in, Olivia's common sense checked out. She doesn't have time to let him distract her, even if he is feeding her hottest fantasies. But the heat they create together is too much to resist, and when they spend a luscious night in bed, Olivia truly wakes up for the first time--only to realize just what a mess her beloved hotel is. Throw in a pair of bumbling saboteurs, a cranky ex-ballerina, a gorilla costume, a lovesick writer, and tofurkey for fifty, and Olivia has her work cut out for her. All of which might be easier than convincing a certain brash Brit that he needs to wake up, too--and realize that he's hungry for her love.


Sound good? You can find the book in stores or online, through Amazon or B&N.com! If you read it and like it, let me know! If you read it and hate it, well...you can let me know that, too, but I won't be as happy about it.

Book news!

Feb. 12th, 2007 09:33 pm
alwaysamy: (books)
With all the talk of books today (go [livejournal.com profile] paperdol!), I realized that the mass market edition of I Love You to Death was released on February 6. If you haven't read it, and you want to, now you can get it cheaper!

It's my first mass market release, which is cool (the others have all been in trade) and it's got a brand-new cover, too. Yay!



Clicky link for your convenience...
alwaysamy: (book)
With everyone posting their reading lists lately, I thought I would list what I read this year. It's a bit light on heavy, serious reading, that's for sure, and it's a bit light in general -- most of my reading is done before bed, and I tend to get drowsy (reading by the faint glow of the nightlight, since Sara is still in our room) before I get too many pages in.

So here it is, in all its relative glory, in order: )

So, 39 books. And probably nearly a dozen more I started and put down, including The Time Traveler's Wife (which I really want to get back to), Twilight (which sucked), and Rosemary Edgehill's Bast novels, which seemed weirdly dated and not all representative of the New York I know (or even knew fifteen years ago). I'm reading The China Garden by Liz Berry right now, and really enjoying it, but no way will I be done by tomorrow.
alwaysamy: (knowledge)
Anyone else a Sarah Smith fan?

I devoured all three of her connected novels, The Vanished Child, The Knowledge of Water, and A Citizen of the Country, and just finished her latest, Chasing Shakespeares.

Chasing Shakespeares is very different -- one of the things I loved most about the other novels was the early twentieth century setting, in New England and in Paris (the details about 1910 Paris and the great flood that swept through it were one of the things that fascinated me in The Knowledge of Water). Chasing Shakespeares is set in 2000, and narrated by a self-conscious graduate student named Joe Roper -- self-conscious about his beginnings in a nearly dead little town in Vermont, and his place at Northeastern, instead of Harvard. In the end, though, Joe's perspective (as opposed to that of Posy Gould, the Hollywood-born rich Harvard student who sweeps him off to London in an attempt to authenticate a letter from Shakespeare) is exactly what makes his musings about Shakespeare so valuable.

I'm not a Shakespeare scholar (hell, I haven't read half the plays, and almost none of the sonnets), and I was never very interested in what's called "the authorship question," but this book isn't (really, much) about who is specifically responsible for the beloved lines of all of those plays and poems. It's about imagination and history, and how the two are intertwined. It's about what you believe that goes beyond facts, and how we invent ourselves every day. It's about what gets left behind, the footprints that we all leave on the world.

In an interview at the back of the book, Smith says that she chose Joe as the protagonist because the events of the book need to *matter* to someone, in a world-about-to-end way. The authorship question never mattered to me before, but Smith sold me on why, and how much, it mattered to Joe Roper. Fabulous book.

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