Tuesday, December 10, 2013
Yesterday we had a "refreshing" ice storm in our area and this morning a snow storm is expected to dump 5 inches of snow on us. At this lovely (note sarcasm) time of year, all I want to do is hibernate with a good book. What about you? Perhaps one of this week's new releases will help you forget all about the nasty weather.
Over in Romance you can cuddle up with "Kisses, She Wrote: A Christmas Romance," by Katherine Ashe, "A Little Too Much," by Lisa Deroschers," "Kiss of the Night," by Sherilyn Kenyon, "Rodeo Queen," by T.J. Kline, "A Beautiful Wedding," by Jaime McGuire and "The Cupcake Diaries: A Spoonful of Christmas," by Darlene Panera.
Move on over to Mystery for "Once Upon a Lie," by Maggie Barbieri, "Heirs of the Body," by Carola Dunn, and "The Midwife's Tale," by Samuel Thomas.
Slide over to Science Fiction/Fantasy for "Seven Sorcerers," by John R. Fultz, "The Doctor and the Dinosaur," (no relation to Dr. Who) by Mike Resnick and "Kaleidocide: A Peacock Novel," by Dave Swavely.
If you're looking to pass time on a snow day, you may want to check out "Snakeroot," the latest "Nightshade" novel by Andrea Creamer or "These Broken Stars," by Annie Kaufman in Young Adult.
Other new releases in Fiction include "Innocence," by Dean Koontz, "The Housemaid's Daughter," by Barbara Mutch, or "The Remains of Love," by Zeruya Shalev.
Will any of these new books make your "to-read" or "to-gift" list? Share with us and remember to support your local bookstores whenever possible.
Monday, December 9, 2013
3.10 "The New Neverland"
This week we make it back to Storeybrooke. Families are reunited, happy tears are shed, Pan plots deviously, and Emma just knows that something is rotten in the state of Denmark. In the flashback to the Enchanted Forest Charming just wants to go on his honeymoon while Snow is focused on getting a head - a gorgon head to be precise - so she can defeat Regina once and for all.
Is it just me or are the flashbacks getting less and less interesting? At this point we've seen enough of Snow and Charming's backstory that continuing to go back to it is feeling more forced. The moral of the flashback was so in your face that I found it a little bit hard to swallow. I also dislike the idea they seem to be trying to weave in that Snow has a dark streak in her from the beginning. Even Charming was pointing out her inconsistencies. And I just don't buy the baby explanation as answering all of her behavior there. I would also like to note that she looked ridiculous in that giant cloak when they first enter the spring palace (where there is miraculously no dust yet no servants either). But moving on!
I adored everything that happened in Storeybrooke. Belle and Rumple are so adorable and seeing Rumple as good yet wily makes me happy. He pulls it off in a way that Regina just never quite manages to do.
Hook proves that he simultaneously has good form and then insinuates that he and Tink have a little something going on, just to make Emma jealous. Poor form there sir. However, I did appreciate that he said he wanted to give Emma and Neal a chance. The thing he doesn't see is the thing that Emma finds herself trying to work through this episode - that she is the savior and that this fact will impact her entire life and all of her relationships.
Regina is back on the wagon and trying to do the right thing. Snow starts things off on a good foot by pointing out all that Regina did to get them off the island, but I was really enjoying the evil-with-a-purpose Regina of the last several episodes and I hope we don't lose that. However, her passion for being a "good" mother was precisely what was needed in this episode. And it got her hurt and blinded her to the truth. That sounds like the perfect recipe for her to move back toward cold, evil Regina again to me.
I kind of feel like I may be the only person left who is still a giant Charming fan, but I adore every scene he is in. I adore how affectionately exasperated he is with Snow and the way he really doesn't let her get away with everything. So going with her might seem like he's giving in, but he understands, just as he shows with Emma, that there are larger picture things and that he doesn't own or rule his wife or daughter. They have their own responsibilities, desires, and needs and he loves and trusts them to offer advice, let them know when he thinks they're making a mistake, but to also trust that they may sometimes see or understand something he doesn't. And if they screw up, he's not there to rub it in their faces, but to love and support them anyway.
Charming also had my favorite line of the episode. Again. When Emma asks if he's sure he isn't just trying to keep her away from Hook and he responds "You think I'm interested in Hook? Emma, I'm a married man!" Just ridiculous and the perfect lightness in that moment. He also had the line that covered the theme of the episode in the same conversation when he tells Emma: "There's more to life than just looking for the next fight."
Speaking of a fight. I really can't believe that the blue fairy is dead and I want to know why the shadow (which I am still dying to find out more about) went after her specifically. There has to be some magic in her shadow (remember all the purple sparks?) that will work toward the spell Pan is trying to perform.
Also, I have to give some kudos to both the actor who plays Henry/Pan and the one who plays Pan/Henry. There were a couple of moments when Henry just nailed the creepy expression of Pan - particularly when he is looking around his old room. I love that he is getting a chance to branch out as an actor.
I also thought that Pan did a great job of exuding the simplicity and innocence that is Henry. After all of the intense creepiness of the last episodes, it shouldn't be so believable that he is Henry, but it totally is.
My final thought as I think about what is coming up in the winter finale is that Pan simply doesn't understand love. He sees it as a danger, a liability, a weakness. And, if everything goes as we've come to expect, love will be the thing that ultimately defeats him. What form that love will come in is still up in the air for me, but I am fairly certain that it is going to be the key.
Saturday, December 7, 2013
"The Hunger Games: Catching Fire," the second film based off the best-selling trilogy by Suzanne Collins was the #1 film in America the past two weekends and is on track to make be #1 again this weekend. Everyone involved in the blog is a huge fan of the books and the first film but did "Catching Fire," meet our expectations?
Naomi: "I really enjoyed this movie. I liked it much better than the first one. I liked the director [Francis Lawrence] better, how it was filmed better. I don't know what else to say, because I just liked it and would gladly watch it again. I thought the casting was great. Quite pleased."
Rebecca T. "I loved Catching Fire. I also cried through pretty much the whole thing. I thought that it was paced well and I thought that it held more closely to the book than the first one. What was added was added well (such as the PTSD episode Katniss experienced right at the beginning). I loved the casting for everyone, but especially for Finnick, Mags, and Wiress. I was also very happy for many of the things that were left in like Katniss' nightmares and the comfort she and Peeta found in each other over the course of the movie and the development of all the characters. I am beyond excited for the next movie."
So, if you're like our Rachel and haven't made it out to see the film yet, what are you waiting for? Go see it! If you have seen it, please share your reviews below but try to keep them spoiler free. And, "may the odds be ever in your favor."
Tuesday, December 3, 2013
I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving with friends and family. If you're starting your holiday shopping or looking for something special for yourself, definitely consider one of this week's new releases.
Mickey Haller aka, "The Lincoln Lawyer," presents his latest case in "The Gods of Guilt," the fifth installment in Michael Connelly's best-selling series. Other new releases in Mystery/Thriller include "Chilled to the Bone," by Quentin Bates, "Ten Lords A Leaping," by C.C Benison, "Billionaire's Blend," by Cleo Coyle, and "The Fourth Day," by Christoph Spielberg.
Over in Romance, best-selling author Sylvia Day releases her latest steamy tale, "Spellbound." "Legend of the Highland Dragon," by Isabel Cooper, "Brandon's Bride," by Lisa Gardner, "Breathe," by Lauren Jameson, "Gabriel's Redemption," by Sylvain Reynard and "Unstoppable," by Shannon Richard are also available today.
"Dance of Mirrors," the third "Shadowdance" novel by David Dalglish is available in Science Fiction/Fantasy today along with "Andromeda's Choice," by William C. Dietz, "Malice," by John Gwynne, "Something More Than Night," by Ian Tregillis, and "Supervolcano: Things Fall Apart," by Harry Turtledove.
The "Pretty Little Liars," from Rosewood find themselves in more trouble in the series' fourteenth installment, "Deadly," by Sara Shepard. Additional new releases in Young Adult include "Rebel Spring," by Morgan Rhodes and "Ink is Thicker Than Water," the second novel in the "Falling Kingdoms" series by Amy Spalding.
Finally other new releases in fiction today include "Command Authority," the latest "Jack Ryan" adventure by the late Tom Clancy with co-author Mark Greaney and Eric Van Lustbader continues the work of Robert Ludlum with "The Bourne Retribution."
Will any of these books make your "to-read" or "to-gift" list? Share with us and remember to support your local bookstores whenever possible.
Sunday, December 1, 2013
3.9 "Save Henry"
Tonight we head back to the roots of the show with a quick flashback to the enchanted forest and a flashback to Regina's first days with baby Henry. Meanwhile on Neverland the band of misfits gangs together one last time to retrieve Henry's heart, defeat Pan, and make sure everyone, including the Lost Boys, can finally go home. With one unexpected little wrench in their plans.
I actually found most of this episode to be a little bit disappointing. Emma turns the Lost Boys in a matter of moments, Regina breaks free and retrieves the heart a little too easily, and everything just goes too well, but in a sense of feeling inevitable rather than ominous. And the flashback was so obvious. Big surprise, Regina has a hard time being a mother. I think that the thing that frustrated me the most was how very hard every single second has been on Neverland leading to this point. Pan has always been about 8 steps ahead of them and then wham bang boom they get Henry's heart back, save Gold, and make it to the ship with everyone completely intact. Just too convenient, even with the marvelous twist at the end.
However, there were those few spots that really intrigued me and, of course, the last five minutes packed quite a wallop.
First I adored the quip between Regina and Gold at the beginning:
Regina: I need a child, Gold, and I need your help.
Rumple: Well I'm flattered, but uninterested.
Regina: NOT LIKE THAT.
I think I may have hurt myself from laughing over that one. The way Regina delivered that line was hilarious.
I have 2 big questions now - 1. How/when does Rumple remember everything or, the better question is actually when does he stop pretending that he doesn't remember. And was there a period of time when he is actually affected by the curse? I am trying to remember if this was dealt with in the past, but I don't think so.
2. What did Regina forget when she drank that potion and when or did it ever wear off? Because I can't think of any time that we have seen that she has appeared to not remember who and what she is or to not fear Emma and what she could mean for the curse as well as for Henry's heart.
Side note: One of the biggest frustrations I had was when Snow went for Pandora's Box. She is so much smarter than that! The three of them standing there arguing is just so idiotic I couldn't buy it. And Regina's reason for breaking free? Just. No.
Other side note: Somehow they managed to cast a baby that actually looks like Henry! I am just in awe at the casting people on this show! Though Pinocchio still stands out as a dismal failure. But anyway. Another perfect choice.
I would love to see some more flashbacks where we find out that Michael and John Darling have been behind the scenes of other incidents - as long as it's not carried tooooo far.
It was nice to see Rumple out of the box again.
But as soon as I saw the glowy eye exchange between Henry and Pan I had a feeling about what had happened. I hadn't quite formulated it exactly, but I knew something strange had happened so I was not surprised at the end. But at the same time I was also shocked at that turn - don't ask me how both are possible.
I adore this idea and I hate that they did this to Henry, but I can't wait to see him have a chance to act as something other than Henry. And I am dying to see the actor playing Pan do Henry. This is going to be crazy.
So the last bit of this episode totally made up for most of the rest.
Friday, November 29, 2013
Back in 2009 the Borders Staff had the privilege of meeting author Michelle Zink. Her first book The Prophecy of the Sisters was about to launch and she wanted to use our bookstore for her launch party. As the Assistant Manager it was my job to make sure the event went off without a hitch. What I didn't realize was that I would end up becoming friends with her. She became a huge part of our Borders family. She again came to our store for the release of The Guardian of the Gate. We had an event set up for the final book in the Prophecy series when the bad news came down that we were liquidating.
I actually found out Borders was closing from her twitter feed, which was devastating to me. She came to support us during our last week of business, bringing us goodies to cheer us up. Michelle is truly a special member of the Borders family and we try to do what we can to support her as an author and a friend. I miss talking shop with her like we used to. We would stand in the middle of the Young Adult section and just talk about what authors were doing well and what wasn't.
Part of this interview was supposed to be published back in April 2012, but unfortunately due to issues on both ends (including the early birth of my daughter) it never got done.
So here is our interview with Michelle. and when you're done reading this, make sure to enter our giveaway for her latest book This Wicked Game.
1) Alan: If someone (let’s just say it’s a middle aged man who reads a lot of mystery/thrillers and suspense - not that I can think of anyone like that off the top of my head) asked you to recommend one of your own books, which one would you pick, and why?
Lol. ;) Right now I'd probably suggest starting with Prophecy of the Sisters. It's very much a classical fantasy/mystery in the vein of Wuthering Heights and Jane Eyre, with a paranormal twist, and the next two books, Guardian of the Gate and Circle of Fire, have a quest-type element a la Lord of the Rings. That said, I have a couple of thrillers in the works that haven't been announced yet.
2) Claire: Could you explain the process you go through while writing a book?
Drafting is such an organic process for me that it's hard to quantify, but let me see if I can try. Once I have an idea, I start by fleshing out the main character -- their motivation, appearance, psychology, etc. After that I look at the inciting incident and surrounding events, which helps me figure out where the book should be begin. In YA especially, you really don't have the luxury of a big build up. I try to start my books as close to the inciting incident as possible to draw the reader in quickly. Once I have all of that nailed, I move onto supporting characters, major plot points, and themes, if any (sometimes a theme doesn't reveal itself to me until I begin writing). The last thing I do before I begin drafting is create a Sequence of Events. This is a list of big things that must happen to get me from the beginning of the book to the end (I often have the last line in my mind before I even start writing). The sequence of events has been transformative. By allowing me to see all the big things that must happen, the book kind of reveals itself as I figure out how to get as expeditiously as possible from one major thing to the next.
3) Claire: Where do your ideas come from and how exactly do you turn them into stories?
Now THAT is organic. I get ideas everywhere, nearly everyday. They can come from movies, stories in the newspaper, things I see my teenagers go through, memories of my own adolescence, and sometimes out of thin air.
4) Claire: What is next on your agenda?
I have a book/TV option with ABC that I can't talk about, two new books coming out with HarperCollins (2015 and 2016), an adult book in process, and several YA ideas that I'm toying with. I've also been lucky enough to have some out-of-the-box opportunities, like writing for app companies and working on companion novels or "punch ups" of book/TV tie ins (a punch up is where one person writes a book or script and another is hired to make it better, or "punch it up"). I'd love to write literary fiction for adults, but right now I'm focusing on the projects in front of me. I'm also toying with the idea of trying my hand at self-publishing and/or writing more semi-erotic fiction (as in my Shadowguard novella series). Sorry you asked yet? :)
5) Jenn N: After reading your biography I noticed that you started writing later in life. What gave you the courage to pursue a new, challenging career and what advice can you give to other 30 somethings wishing they weren’t stuck behind a desk all day?
I've always been a writer, I just lost my way trying to make a living. Lol. First and foremost, determine if there's any way you can give yourself more time to pursue your goal. Can you downsize your lifestyle at all? Live less expensively so that you might work a less demanding job? I sold my house in California and moved my family to an inexpensive rural town, then sold antiques online to make a living while I wrote. It was terrifying but I was very determined not to spend my life doing something I didn't enjoy. That might not be possible for everyone, but in almost every case, compromises CAN be made to make more time an achievable goal. If that's not possible, create a schedule that sets aside time for your goal every single day. I live and die by mine, and I always have. Back when my kids were small and I had to sell antiques to make a living (which involved spending a lot of time at auctions, taking pictures, listing stuff, packing stuff, etc.), I wrote every night from . I gave up TV in 2006 when I was revising Prophecy of the Sisters, because I was determined to become published and just couldn't justify the time away from achieving my goal ( I wrote five books in two and a half years that way. Prophecy was the fifth). Even if you're working a day job, you can build in an hour for yourself every day. That hour should be sacred -- no TV, no social networking, no email. Just focus on doing something to meet your goal for on hour (or however much time you can eek out) a day. With writing, you can write 1,000 words an hour once you get in the habit. That's a book every 2-3 months working one hour a day. Lastly, don't let anyone tell you it isn't possible. It is never too late to reinvent yourself.
6) Rebecca: I know your kids are pretty involved in promoting and such. I was wondering how much they are involved and what they think about having a mom who writes young adult. Also how does having teenagers in the house impact your writing. Do you draw inspiration from them and their friends?
My older two kids are in college now, and they're very busy with their own projects (art and writing respectively). My younger two are less interested (one of them is a political junkie and the other an aspiring filmmaker). Plus, I think the novelty of having an author for a mom has worn off in the face of the not-very-glamourous reality (deadlines, work in your pajamas, mass quantities of caffeine and candy, etc.). They absolutely inspire my writing, even if it's just a seed from something that happens to them or something I hear them talking about. I try to be careful not to pilfer directly, but I do gain inspiration by being around young people so much, and I find that I have more New Adult ideas now that my older two are in college.
7) Jessica P: Which of your books is your favorite?
The Prophecy of the Sisters trilogy is really the story of my heart. It has the most of me in it, and it's the book that changed my life.
Jessica P: Do any of your books stand out as being easy or hard to write?
Alice in Prophecy of the Sisters and Raum in A Temptation of Angeles were both challenging. I don't like to create cookie-cutter villains, so I really worked to make them nuanced and human and three-dimensional. One of the things I'm most proud of is Alice winning Best Villain against Lord Voldemort in the Teen Reads Awards, not just because of the award, but because even as people were truly afraid of her, I received emails almost daily from readers who said they felt sorry for her. I consider that a writing win.
9) Jessica P: Which character from your books would you invite to dinner, and why?
There is a very mysterious character in my upcoming 2015 book with whom I'd love to chat. ;)
10) Jessica P: Are there any authors out there who inspired your writing at all?
So many! Carlos Ruiz Zafon, Janet Fitch, Margaret Atwood, Michael Koryta, Sarah Waters, Lois Duncan. The list goes on!
11) What is your favorite tv show?
Six Feet Under will forever and always have my heart.
12) What type of movie do you like to watch?
We're movie fanatics! I like movies that do something different, which makes Indies a favorite. Lately I've loved Beasts of the Southern Wild, Cloud Atlas, Prisoners, The Master, Twelve Years a Slave. I'm also a sucker for a good inspirational film or tear jerker (Invictus, The Blind Side) and enjoy the occasional smart comedy.
13) Do you ever get influenced by music while you are writing?
All the time! I purposefully choose film scores that mimic the atmosphere I want in the book I'm writing. They become the "soundtrack" of that novel, and it really helps me stay true to my original vision for the book.
14) What would be your perfect last meal?
Some kind of mexican food.
15) Do you have any guilty pleasures?
Plenty! I love the occasional trashy erotic romance (Black Dagger Brotherhood anyone?), HGTV while I wrap Christmas presents with my girls, A "fruit salad" that my grandmother used to make in the midwest that is little more than apples, oranges, bananas, walnuts and mayonnaise (don't judge!), and probably worst of all, Spicy Sweet Chili Doritos. ;)
Tuesday, November 26, 2013
After you gather together this week, you might want to take some time to relax with one of this week's new reads or get started on your holiday shopping.
There are plenty of treats for Romance lovers this week. Your stocking will be overflowing with "Dangerous Seduction," by Zoe Archer, "Wildest Dreams," by Toni Blake, "Chain of Illusions," by Boone Brux, "The Devil Wears Kilts," by Suzanne Enoch, "The Pirate Bride," by Sandra Hill, "Beneath This Man," by Jodi Ellen Malpas, and "Hard Target: Elite Ops," by Kay Thomas.
Slide your sleigh over to Science Fiction/Fantasy for "The Hum and the Shiver," by Alex Bledsoe, "Last to Rise," by Francis Knight," or "The Land Across," by Gene Wolfe.
Mystery fans will want to wrap up "Hostage," by Kay Hooper, "Our Picnics in the Sun," by Morag Joss and "Doyle After Death," by John Shirley.
Over in Young Adult, you'll find "Angel Fever," the conclusion to L.A. Weatherly's "Angel" Trilogy, "Pawn," by Aimee Carter, and "Fireblood," by Trisha Wolfe.