Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Book Review: The Five by Robert McCammon

The Five is the latest novel from Robert McCammon.

Book Description
Subterranean Press is proud to present Robert McCammon's first contemporary novel in nearly two decades, a tale of the hunt and unlikely survival, of the life and soul, set against a supernatural backbeat. Robert McCammon, author of the popular Matthew Corbett historical thrillers (Speaks the Nightbird, Mister Slaughter), now gives us something new and completely unexpected: The Five, a contemporary novel as vivid, timely, and compelling as anything he has written to date.

The Five tells the story of an eponymous rock band struggling to survive on the margins of the music business. As they move through the American Southwest on what might be their final tour together, the band members come to the attention of a damaged Iraq war veteran, and their lives are changed forever.

The narrative that follows is a riveting account of violence, terror, and pursuit set against a credible, immensely detailed rock and roll backdrop. It is also a moving meditation on loyalty and friendship, on the nature and importance of families those we are born into and those we create for ourselves and on the redemptive power of the creative spirit. Written with wit, elegance, and passionate conviction, The Five lays claim to new imaginative territory, and reaffirms McCammon's position as one of the finest, most unpredictable storytellers of our time.

I'm kicking off the first official review in The Great McCammon Read with  Robert McCammon's The Five. I've been holding on to The Five since its release in May waiting for the weather to turn cooler, the nights to grow longer, and to get the general "the timing is right" feel. (I clearly have reader issues.)

One thing I love about McCammon is how different each of his works are from one another. It feels like it's always about the story and not about being pidgeonholed into a genre. As usual, I can't pidgeonhole this one. It's contemporary, it's thriller, it's horror. More importantly, it's a really great story.

Despite how unpredictable and intense The Five is, McCammon managed to create this intimate, gradual pacing throughout the entire novel. I was invested in the band, invested in the story, and I felt like I was invested in the fate of the world.

The Five is a story of good versus evil, light versus dark, family, sacrifice, and the power of music.

The end of The Five evoked a lot of emotion in me which was awesome. I don't normally cry in a book (unless a dog dies!), but the end was a wonderful personification of The Five's story and a testament to McCammon's epic storytelling.

I'd recommend McCammon to anyone, but I'm especially recommending The Five to those who have a heart for music.

8/10: Great Read

The Great McCammon Read

Plan on reading The Five? Let me know if you post/have posted a McCammon review somewhere so I can point folks to it. You can find all the details of The Great McCammon Read here. Next month I'll be reading and reviewing Mystery Walk if you'd like to join me!

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Monday, November 28, 2011

Cyber Monday (+ Giveaway!): Robert McCammon

If you've been wanting to check out Robert McCammon, I have great news for you! Open Road Media is running a Cyber Monday sale on their ebooks today making them all just $2.99. This includes all nine titles from Robert McCammon. That's a steal.

If you are still unsure, fill out the form at the bottom with the title you'd like to win, and I'll pick a random winner tonight and gift it to one winner (Kindle version only). You don't have to have a Kindle to read it, just a Kindle app on your PC, phone, tablet, etc. (Amazon is the only store that allows "gifting"...)

Be sure to check out all the details on my The Great McCammon Read in case you want to join in with your selection! (And tune in tomorrow for my review of McCammon's The Five!)

The Wolf's Hour

On the eve of D-Day, a British secret agent with unique powers goes behind Nazi lines

Michael Gallatin is a British spy with a peculiar talent: the ability to transform himself into a wolf. Although his work in North Africa helped the Allies win the continent in the early days of World War II, he quit the service when a German spy shot his lover in her bed. Now, three years later, the army asks him to end his retirement and parachute into occupied Paris. A mysterious German plan called the Iron Fist threatens the D-Day invasion, and the Nazi in charge is the spy who betrayed Michael’s lover. The werewolf goes to France for king and country, hoping for a chance at bloody vengeance.



Mine

A mother fights to rescue her newborn from a six-foot-tall madwoman

No one knows Mary Terrell’s real name. She killed a man during the climax of the Summer of Love, and for two decades she has changed her name and location regularly, always keeping watch over her shoulder for the FBI. She has three passions: LSD, firearms, and children. She visits toy stores a few times a week, picking out a baby doll to take home and treat as a child. The new family always starts out happy, but when the baby refuses to eat, Mary gets angry. Murdered dolls fill her closet, and the woman who calls herself Mary Terror is tired of children made of plastic.

Laura Clayborne’s marriage gives her little joy, but she can’t wait for her son to come into the world. But if Mary Terror has her way, it won’t be long before he leaves it again.



Blue World

A novella and twelve stories from a master of supernatural horror

Father John has lived his whole life without knowing a woman’s touch. Hard at first, his self-denial grew easier over time, as he learned to master his urges with a regimen of prayer, cold showers, and jigsaw puzzles. That changed the day that Debra Rocks entered his confessional. A rough-talking adult film actress, she has come to ask him to pray for a murdered costar. Her cinnamon perfume infects Father John, and after she departs he becomes obsessed. Around the corner from his church is a neon-lit alley of sin. He goes there hoping to save her life before he damns himself.

That is “Blue World,” the novella that anchors this collection of chilling stories by Robert R. McCammon. Although monsters, demons, and murderers fill these pages, in McCammon’s world the most terrifying landscape of all is the barren wasteland of a lost man’s soul.



Swan Song

McCammon’s epic bestselling novel about a girl psychic struggling to survive in the aftermath of a nuclear holocaust

Something flashes in nine-year-old Swan’s brain, telling her that trouble is coming. Maybe it’s her mother, fed up with her current boyfriend and ready to abandon their dismal trailer park and seek a new home. But something far worse is on the horizon. Death falls from the sky—nuclear bombs which annihilate American civilization. Though Swan survives the blast, this young psychic’s war is just beginning.

As the survivors try to make new lives in the wasteland, an evil army forms, intent on murdering all those tainted with the diseases brought by fallout. When Swan finds a mysterious amulet that could hold the key to humankind’s salvation, she draws the attention of a man more dangerous than any nuclear bomb. To rescue mankind, this little girl will have to grow up fast.



Mystery Walk

Two young psychics do battle with an ancient evil

Billy Creekmore was born to be a psychic. His mother, a Choctaw Indian schooled in her tribe’s ancient mysticism, understood that the barrier between life and death is permeable. She knew how to cross it, and used that knowledge to help the dead rest easier. She passed that power on to her son, and he has spent his whole life learning how to communicate with the dead to prevent them from meddling with the living.

Though his powers are the same, Wayne Falconer’s background could not be more different. The son of a prominent preacher, he would be disowned if his father learned he was using supernatural powers in service of the church. Though they don’t know each other, Billy and Wayne share a recurring dream—and a common enemy. When a nightmarish monster descends on their community in Alabama, mankind’s fate will rest in their hands.



Stinger

A UFO crash sends a small Texas town into uproar

The sun rises on Inferno and Bordertown: patches of civilization carved out of the tough Texas earth, watching each other and waiting to see which dies first. The copper mine is finished, and both towns—one for the whites and one for the Mexicans—are wasting away. Now a pair of mysterious visitors is about to make them shrink faster.

The black ball lands first. A small sphere, snapped off of an alien ship as it plummets through the atmosphere, it explodes onto Jessie Hammond’s truck. When Jessie’s daughter picks it up, the object possesses the young girl’s body and begins trying to communicate. As Jessie tries to rescue her daughter, something far more deadly sets down in the desert. An interstellar war has come to Texas, and Inferno is going to burn.



Gone South

A moment of madness forces a Vietnam veteran to run for his life

Two decades after he finished serving his country in the jungles of Southeast Asia, Dan Lambert still pays the price. As he hustles for construction work in the heat of a brutal Louisiana summer, Dan tries to ignore the pounding in his head—a constant reminder of the Agent Orange–caused leukemia which will soon end his life. And now the bank wants to repossess his truck. His attempt to reason with the loan officer does not get him far. Dan loses himself in rage, and for a moment is back in the jungle again. When he comes out of his bloodlust, he has shot the banker through the chest. There is nothing to do but run.

On his trail are two peculiar bounty hunters: a onetime Siamese twin and a heavyset Elvis impersonator. To save his own life, Dan is going to have to remember why it was worth living in the first place.



Boy's Life

In Zephyr, Alabama, a bizarre murder is only the beginning

Small town boys see weird sights, and Zephyr has provided Cory Jay Mackenson with his fair share of oddities. He knows the bootleggers who lurk in the dark places outside of town. On moonless nights, he’s heard spirits congregate in the churchyard to reminisce about the good old days. He’s seen rain that flooded Main Street and left it crawling with snakes. Cory knows magic, and relishes it as only a young boy can.

One frosty winter morning, he and his father watch a car jump the curb and sail into the fathomless town lake. His father dives into the icy water to rescue the driver, and finds a naked corpse handcuffed to the wheel. This chilling sight is only the start of the strangest period of Cory’s life, when the magic of his town will transform him into a man.



Usher's Passing

A struggling author must confront the dreadful secrets of his famous family’s past

Two men argue in the low light of one of nineteenth-century New York’s vilest bars. One is an aristocrat, clearly slumming, while the other, in appearance no better than the gutter-trash around him, is the finest author of his age. The wealthy man is Hudson Usher, come to berate Edgar Allen Poe for using Usher’s family history as fodder for his most famous story. The house of Usher has not fallen, Hudson boasts. It will endure into the centuries.

One hundred and fifty years later, the Usher line persists. The newest heir is Rix Usher, a hack horror writer whose ailing father has just called him back to the family’s North Carolina estate. To become the new Usher patriarch, Rix must confront a Gothic mystery more twisted than anything even Poe could have imagined.



Update: This contest is now closed. Congratulations Gidge! Your book has been "gifted". I hope you enjoy it!

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Sunday, November 27, 2011

Read-along: The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King: Week Three

This week marks the end of the LOTR read-along and the end of my revisit to Middle Earth. This read-along was hosted by the Little Red Reviewer and Geeky Daddy. Be sure to stop by the Little Red Reviewer's post to watch a parody on the ending of The Lord of the Rings. It's funny stuff.

Thank you read-alongers for allowing me to join in, and thanks Book Den'ers for reminiscing with me!

As always, there may be spoilers ahead for those who have not experienced this journey.

What do you think Gandalf was going to speak with Tom Bombadil about?

It sounded like Gandalf was possibly seeking advice from Tom Bombadil.

What did you think of the two weddings? Do you think Eowyn will eventually find happiness with Faramir?

I'm glad things worked out for Aragorn and Arwen, but I *love* the relationship between Eowyn and Faramir. (I'm also thrilled for Sam and Rosie, too!)

What did you think of their meeting with Saruman on the road home? I was half expecting someone to just kill Saruman.

The company has a lot more pity for people than I probably would!

Holy Cow I was not expecting the scouring of the shire. If this is your first time reading, were you surprised? And if this isn't your first time reading, does the shock get a little easier to swallow on re-read?

The scouring of the shire was heartbreaking. Sam said it was worse than Mordor! :(

What did you think of the very end, of the departure of the Havens?

I thought it was a great ending. I'm glad Gandalf told Merry and Pippin what was happening. I'm glad Sam got to see Galadriel again. :) Frodo is heartbreaking to me. I hope his departure means a part of him can heal.

Characters are supposed to change and develop during a story, right? Who changed more, Sam or Frodo?

Both. Frodo's changes depress me. Sam, on the other hand, will heal and has stepped into a proud existence.

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Saturday, November 26, 2011

Notable New Book Releases [Nov. 20 - Nov. 26]

These are the new releases that caught my eye this week. What did I miss? Be sure to tell me what books you were excited about this week!

Shock Totem 2 - Curious Tales of the Macabre and Twisted edited by K. Allen Wood
Publication Date [Kindle]: November 20, 2011

[Lots of great Shock Totem news. All 4 issues of Shock Totem are now out on Kindle. Issue #1 has been reduced to $.99. Issue #2 has been released at $.99! Issues #3 and #4 are out now, too, at $1.99. I'm in the middle of issue #4, but I can already tell you it's worth grabbing. I hear a rumor that Lee Thompson's awesome Beneath the Weeping Willow has been recommended for a Bram Stoker. Oh! I should also mention the Shock Totem Holiday Edition was released last week for only $.99, too! Lots of awesome reading on the cheap!]

The long-awaited second issue of Shock Totem features new fiction from David Jack Bell, Cate Gardner, Vincent Pendergast, Leslianne Wilder, and others. Also includes nonfiction from Mercedes M. Yardley, a conversation with James Newman, reviews, and more. 



20 Years Later by Emma Newman
Publication Date: November 22, 2011

[It's hard for me to pass up a YA post-apocalyptic read.]

LONDON, 2012: It arrives and with that the world is changed into an unending graveyard littered with the bones, wreckage, and memories of a dead past, gone forever.LONDON, 2032: Twenty years later, out of the ashes, a new world begins to rise, a place ruled by both loyalty and fear, and where the quest to be the first to regain lost knowledge is an ongoing battle for power. A place where laws are made and enforced by roving gangs-the Bloomsbury Boys, the Gardners, the Red Lady's Gang-who rule the streets and will do anything to protect their own.THE FOUR: Zane, Titus, Erin, Eve. Living in this new world, they discover that they have abilities never before seen. And little do they know that as they search post-apocalyptic London for Titus' kidnapped sister that they'll uncover the secret of It, and bring about a reckoning with the forces that almost destroyed all of humanity.



Micro: A Novel by Michael Crichton and Richard Preston
Publication Date: November 22, 2011

[The partial manuscript for Micro was discovered after Crichton's death. Micro has since been completed by Richard Preston (writer of The Hot Zone).]

In Jurassic Park, he created a terrifying new world. Now, in Micro, Michael Crichton reveals a universe too small to see and too dangerous to ignore.

In a locked Honolulu office building, three men are found dead with no sign of struggle except for the ultrafine, razor-sharp cuts covering their bodies. The only clue left behind is a tiny bladed robot, nearly invisible to the human eye.

In the lush forests of Oahu, groundbreaking technology has ushered in a revolutionary era of biological prospecting. Trillions of microorganisms, tens of thousands of bacteria species, are being discovered; they are feeding a search for priceless drugs and applications on a scale beyond anything previously imagined.

In Cambridge, Massachusetts, seven graduate students at the forefront of their fields are recruited by a pioneering microbiology start-up. Nanigen MicroTechnologies dispatches the group to a mysterious lab in Hawaii, where they are promised access to tools that will open a whole new scientific frontier.

But once in the Oahu rain forest, the scientists are thrust into a hostile wilderness that reveals profound and surprising dangers at every turn. Armed only with their knowledge of the natural world, they find themselves prey to a technology of radical and unbridled power. To survive, they must harness the inherent forces of nature itself.

An instant classic, Micro pits nature against technology in vintage Crichton fashion. Completed by visionary science writer Richard Preston, this boundary-pushing thriller melds scientific fact with pulse-pounding fiction to create yet another masterpiece of sophisticated, cutting-edge entertainment.



Kill Them All (Dead Man #6) by Harry Shannon
Publication Date: November 22, 2011

[I have got to start reading these instead of just buying them!]

Matt Cahill was an ordinary man leading a simple life until a shocking accident changed everything. Now he can see a nightmarish netherworld that exists within our own. Now he's on a dangerous quest for the answers to who he is and what he has become...and engaged in an epic battle to save us, and his soul, from the clutches of pure evil.

When Matt wanders into a struggling Nevada tourist trap recreation of an "old west" town, he's unaware that he’s being trailed by a Special Ops team of professional mercenaries hired by a University desperate to unlock the secret behind his resurrection...and that he's put everyone around him in dire jeopardy. The mercenaries have no intention of letting Matt escape...or letting any witnesses survive. Matt finds himself in a deadly bind. Somehow he must rally the peaceful citizens into defending themselves against the sadistic, well-armed mercenaries… or sacrifice himself to save them from certain death.

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Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Book Review: Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

Frankenstein is a classic horror novel written by Mary Shelley.

Book Description
Mary Shelley's Frankenstein is one of the masterpieces of nineteenth-century Gothicism. While stay-ing in the Swiss Alps in 1816 with her lover Percy Shelley, Lord Byron, and others, Mary, then eighteen, began to concoct the story of Dr. Victor Frankenstein and the monster he brings to life by electricity. Written in a time of great personal tragedy, it is a subversive and morbid story warning against the dehumanization of art and the corrupting influence of science. Packed with allusions and literary references, it is also one of the best thrillers ever written. Frankenstein; Or, the Modern Prometheus was an instant bestseller on publication in 1818. The prototype of the science fiction novel, it has spawned countless imitations and adaptations but retains its original power.

Frankenstein was a surprising read for me. I've never particularly expected to like Frankenstein, but it has always been on the list of books I've intended read. I decided it would make a great pick for the Dusty Volumes challenge.

As it turns out, I really enjoyed Frankenstein. I see why the image of Frankenstein's monster is so widely used in relation to "mad science". Victor Frankenstein concocted a huge man out of various human (and who knows what else's) body parts. This concoction truly was a monster, but I felt such pity for him. Pity for his hideousness, pity for his being unwanted by his creator, pity for his need of companionship.

In the beginning of Frankenstein, I found lines like "No word, no expression could body forth the kind of relation in which she stood to me - my more than sister, since till death she was to be mine only." to be very creepy and foreboding. I also enjoyed Victor Frankenstein's disturbing obsession, but I didn't fall in love with the story until after Frankenstein created and abandoned his monster.

Frankenstein wound up as a suspenseful and satisfying read. If you enjoy reading classics and you haven't read Frankenstein, now is a great time to change that. If you are a fan of the horror genre, Frankenstein is pretty much a must read. I'm thankful to have finally read it!

7/10: Recommended Read

I downloaded Frankenstein for free from Project Gutenberg.

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Thursday, November 17, 2011

Guest Post: On Memory And Fiction by M.J. Rose

I am excited to welcome M.J. Rose back to Book Den today!

All writers have rites and rituals that we've developed over the years. Habits and idiosyncrasies. Some I’ve developed for myself – some I learned from other authors.

I start by reading non-fiction about the period I’m writing about. Usually I’ve read a few dozen books and spent hundreds of hours doing research in person or on line.

And then I need to find three things.

The first is a question I don't know the answer to but find interesting enough to spend at least a year finding out.

The second is a quote that captures the spirit of the theme I want to write about — what I think powers the novel.

And the third is to find an object that belongs to my main character — that has some meaning to him or her — even if I don't always know quite what that meaning is when I begin.

The question that inspired this book was: Who owns art? Should the cultural heritage of a piece of artwork determine what museum it finally winds up in? Is restitution always in the best interest of the pubic?

For years I've been reading about Greece's efforts to get the Elgin Marbles back to their homeland. I can see both sides of the arguments. I have sympathy for countries whose riches have been taken from them. But at the same time I've spent a lot of my life visiting museums. I've been moved and inspired by work gathered from around the world and can't imagine what these amazing institutions would be like if they were stripped of their treasures.

The quote that mesmerized me and epitomized what I wanted this book to be about was:

Often, in the cosseted quarters of a museum, we forget that every work of ancient art is a survivor, a representative of untold numbers of similar artworks that perished. This triumphant exhibition makes us remember, while demonstrating that every survivor saves much more than just itself: long strands of culture, identity and history waiting to be woven back together. —Roberta Smith writing in the New York Times about the exhibit Silent Survivors of Afghanistan's 4,000 Tumultuous Years

And the magical object, the talisman that belongs to my main character, is a broken pencil. It was in Lucian Glass's pocket the day he was brutally attacked and killed. He was only 20 at the time, a student at college. Glass has kept the pencil in a drawer that he opens all the time... he's seen it so often that he no longer notices it. Until the day my novel starts... and he's forced into remembering something he never really could forget.


Book Den is a stop on M.J. Rose's blog tour for The Hypnotist. [Read my review of The Hypnotist.] You can find the schedule of tour stops by visiting The Hypnotist Virtual Book Tour Schedule.

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Wednesday, November 16, 2011

TBR | Poseidon's Children by Michael West

Michael West is coming out with a new Urban Fantasy series called The Legacy of the Gods. It sounds awesome!

The first book, Poseidon's Children, will be released in March 2012. Check out the description:
Man no longer worships the old gods; forgotten and forsaken, they have become nothing more than myth and legend. But all that is about to change.

After the ruins of a vast, ancient civilization are discovered on the ocean floor, Coast Guard officers find a series of derelict ships drifting in the current—high-priced yachts and leaking fishing boats, all ransacked, splattered in blood, their crews missing and presumed dead.

And that’s just the beginning.

Vacationing artist Larry Neuhaus has just witnessed a gruesome shark attack, a young couple torn apart right before his eyes….at least, he thinks it was a shark. And when one of these victims turns out to be the only son of Roger Hays, the most powerful man in the country, things go from bad to worse.

Now, to stop the carnage, Larry and his new-found friends must work together to unravel a mystery as old as time, and face an enemy as dark as the ocean depths.

Right? I can't wait. I enjoyed Michael West's Cinema of Shadows, and important to note here, I could tell he did a lot of research while writing it. It makes me excited to see where he'll take this new series based on mythology. I have high hopes it could excel where some previous mythology based books have failed for me.

You can find Poseidon's Children here on Goodreads if you want to add it to your wishlist!

Are you a fan of Urban Fantasy or books based on mythology?

This post is being shared as part of Breaking the Spine's "Waiting for" Wednesday.

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Monday, November 14, 2011

Book Review: The Hypnotist by M.J. Rose

The Hypnotist is the third book of the Reincarnationist series by M.J. Rose.

Book Description

Haunted by his inability to stop the murder of a beautiful young painter twenty years ago, Lucian Glass keeps his demons at bay through his fascinating work with the FBI's Art Crime Team. Investigating a crazed collector who's begun destroying prized masterworks, Glass is thrust into a bizarre hostage negotiation that takes him undercover at the Phoenix Foundation—dedicated to the science of past-life study. There, to maintain his cover, he submits to the treatment of a hypnotist.

Under hypnosis, Glass travels from ancient Greece to nineteenth-century Persia, while the case takes him from New York to Paris and the movie while the case takes him from New York to Paris and the movie capital of the world. These journeys will change his very understanding of reality, lead him to question his own sanity and land him at the center of perhaps the most audacious art heist in history: a fifteen-hundred-year-old sculpture the nation of Iran will do anything to recover.

While The Hypnotist is the third book in the Reincarnationist series, this is the first book in the series I have read. The Hypnotist was stand alone enough for me to not miss out by not having read the previous two.

The Hypnotist was an intriguing thriller. I enjoyed the museum setting, and I found the past life exploration to be a unique premise.

If you enjoy thrillers and especially works by M.J. Rose, The Hypnotist is a good read for you to check out. I plan to continue reading the series with the next Reincarnationist installment.

6/10: Good Read


If you'd like to check out more reviews of The Hypnotist, be sure to visit some of the stops on M.J. Rose's blog tour this month. You can find the schedule of tour stops by visiting The Hypnotist Virtual Book Tour Schedule.

Review copy provided by the author

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Sunday, November 13, 2011

Read-along: The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King: Week One

This past week began the read-along of the last book in The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King. This read-along is hosted by the Little Red Reviewer and Geeky Daddy.

I was running a bit behind (still had to finish The Two Towers!), but I'm all caught up. If you've read the books or seen the movies, feel free to jump in the discussions! Please be aware that there are spoilers for those who have not yet experienced LOTR.

Here are some other discussions to check out:
The Little Red Reviewer
Blue Fairy’s Bookshelf
Geeky Daddy
Lynn’s Book Blog
Polishing Mud Balls

This week's questions come from Clint at Geeky Daddy.

1.With the company that went with Aragorn through the Paths of Death. Would you have volunteered knowing it may be curse and ghosts haunting the paths?

I think if I made it that far on the journey, there would be no turning back. 

'I will go with you even on the Paths of the Dead, and to whatever end they may lead,' said Gimli.

2.What were your thoughts of Merry and Pippin in the preparation to the Battle of Gondor. It seemed that each ruler just thought that each hobbit could not be a contribution to the battle.  

Merry and Pippin - being small and unworldly - were more humored than taken seriously. I've had instances in my past - being young and female - where I had to prove my worth in a way those around me did not. I can appreciate Merry and Pippin holding their ground and coming out as important contributors.

3.Did you think that the preparations to the Battle sparked your interest and all or did you find that the flow was bogged down a bit?

I rushed through this in order to catch up, so I may have escaped some of the "bog down". :)

4. I thought that it was great that both Eowyn and Merry made it to the Battlefield. Yet against orders of the King and made a huge contributions. What did you think both of them doing this and would you have done this if it was you?

I immediately want to say "yes" I would have done it, but that's probably because I keep putting myself into the journey and into the roles of these characters. I'm loving Eowyn defying her role and heading out to battle alongside Merry.

5. What do you think of Denethor's rash decision to send Faramir to hold Western Osgiliath against the hosts of the Enemy that outnumbered their own greatly?

I do not enjoy Denethor. He does give me more insight into Boromir, though. Not only did Boromir want the ring to protect his people, he may have needed it to not be a shame to his father. Poor Faramir! Gah. He seems to already be a shame, and he still does as his father pleases.

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Thursday, November 10, 2011

Guest Post: Recommendations from Derek Clendening

I am excited to welcome Derek Clendening to Book Den. Derek is an author with a penchant for the dark and paranormal. Today he is sharing with us a list of recommended reads as well as a list of authors every horror fan should check out.

Be sure to leave Derek a comment to be entered for a chance to win a Kindle Fire!

I’m a very eclectic reader. As such, my recommendations are all over the place. For the most part, my taste falls in line with the horror genre, but even that is multi-faceted. I do have one recommendation outside of the genre, and I always steer people towards that one if they can’t travel on a dark journey with me.

1. Clara Callan by Richard B. Wright.

This is a literary novel about a school teacher in rural Ontario in the 1930s. It’s a good rainy day read. I know because I read it on a rainy day. Gobbled most of it up during that sitting, in fact.
2. House of Windows by John Langan.

To me, this novel is much more about a haunted person than a haunted house. It might not be bloody, but I couldn’t put it down, and I gladly recommend it anytime.
 
3. Everdead by Rio Youers.

Yes, it’s a vampire novel, with a traditional vamp to boot, but you won’t find a word play quite like it. Highly recommended.
4. Billy by Whitley Strieber.

This might be the scariest book I’ve ever read. I wouldn’t make that statement loosely. There’s nothing supernatural about it, but if you have a kid, a stepchild, a niece or nephew, or a pet you’ll want to protect them much more after reading this.
5. Ghost Story by Peter Straub.

This was Straub’s breakout novel and has been cited by Stephen King as his favourite horror novel. It’s well-written, multi-layered and compelling. Best of all, it’s still in print. It’s also available as an e-book.
Okay, I’m done with individual books. Now for some authors which horror aficionados should read. Bentley Little and Richard Laymon are a start. Horror fiends will know plenty about them, but if you enjoy horror and you’re just coming off of Stephen King’s backlist, you should give them a shot.

Other authors I’ve enjoyed include Douglas Clegg, Brian Keene, Scott Nicholson, Sephera Giron and Gord Rollo. These are slightly lesser known authors than Little or Laymon, but they’re all worth checking out. You’ll be glad you did.

You can find Derek Clendening's adult and YA novels and short stories on Amazon.com as well as on Derek's website: Derek Clendening Horror Author.


The Breeding

It began in New York. Then it spread. Zombies outnumber humans ten-to-one and they must retool the Earth to suit their needs. Capitalism has survived the Apocalypse and a billionaire zombie plans to cash in by opening a human breeding farm near Buffalo, New York. He will provide sustenance to his fellow zombies . . . at a price . . . . Remaining humans have been imprisoned, paired, made to breed and have been treated like the lower form of life that they have become. A deadly ultimatum forces their darkest family secrets and worst fears to surface. The strong will survive. The weak will perish.


The Between Years

Randy and Carol Fuller face the worst horror parents can possibly face when they lose their six month old son, Kenny, to Sudden infant Death Syndrome during a freak snowstorm. In the following months, Randy wants a second chance at parenthood, but Carol isn’t ready. Their marriage disintegrates. However, Randy discovers his second chance, anyway, when he begins to see Kenny at age four. Then at age eight, twelve and eighteen. Soon it becomes apparent that Kenny is alive and growing up within the walls of Randy’s ancestral home. Randy has the opportunity to be a father to Kenny again, although in ways he never expected. And he must face obstacles he never imagined. The Between Years is a novel of ghosts and memory, obsession and darkness, and the undying love only a parent can understand.


More from Derek regarding his exciting Kindle Fire giveaway:

To enter to win a Kindle Fire, leave your name and e-mail address in the comment form below. You can enter once per blog stop. Visit each blog stop to increase your odds of winning. If I crack the Kindle Top 100, I will give away another Kindle Fire. E-mail me for the tour newsletter including a full listing of tour stops at derek (dot) r (dot) clendening (at) gmail (dot) com.

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Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Book Review: The Chronicles of Harris Burdick by Chris Van Allsburg

The Chronicles of Harris Burdick: Fourteen Amazing Authors Tell the Tales is an anthology of stories inspired by Chris Van Allsburg.

Book Description
An inspired collection of short stories by an all-star cast of best-selling storytellers based on the thought-provoking illustrations in Chris Van Allsburg’s The Mysteries of Harris Burdick.

For more than twenty-five years, the illustrations in the extraordinary Mysteries of Harris Burdick by Chris Van Allsburg have intrigued and entertained readers of all ages. Thousands of children have been inspired to weave their own stories to go with these enigmatic pictures. Now we’ve asked some of our very best storytellers to spin the tales. Enter The Chronicles of Harris Burdick to gather this incredible compendium of stories: mysterious, funny, creepy, poignant, these are tales you won’t soon forget.

This inspired collection of short stories features many remarkable, best-selling authors in the worlds of both adult and children's literature: Sherman Alexie, M.T. Anderson, Kate DiCamillo, Cory Doctorow, Jules Feiffer, Stephen King, Tabitha King, Lois Lowry, Gregory Maguire, Walter Dean Myers, Linda Sue Park, Louis Sachar, Jon Scieszka, Lemony Snicket, and Chris Van Allsburg himself.

In the introduction to The Chronicles of Harris Burdick, Lemony Snicket says "the story of Harris Burdick is a story everybody knows". I must be living under a rock because somehow I was unaware of Harris Burdick.

If you are like me and you've never read Chris Van Allsburg's The Mysteries of Harris Burdick, it's a picture book of 14 detailed drawings (said to be drawn by a mysterious Harris Burdick) each with a title and a caption. The reader is invited to make up their own story based on the picture using the caption as a prompt. I love this idea, and it is the basis of The Chronicles of Harris Burdick.

Fourteen successful writers contributed to The Chronicles of Harris Burdick with each creating a story based on the drawings of Harris Burdick. This was my first exposure to the imaginative drawings, and I found myself instantly wondering the story behind each one and anxious to see what each author envisioned for their particular illustration.

My favorite drawing is Mr. Linden's Library and the caption "He had warned her about the book. Now it was too late." is so perfectly creepy.

My favorite story, however, is probably the one associated with A Strange Day in July with the caption reading "He threw with all his might, but the third stone came skipping back.". It was a fun, twisted little story of twins who decide they are going to make everyone believe they are triplets.

Another of the stories featured in The Chronicles of Harris Burdick is Stephen King's The House on Maple Street. It was originally published in Nightmares and Dreamscapes, but it was inspired by the Harris Burdick drawing of the same title. It now makes perfect sense to me why there is a random illustration in Nightmares and Dreamscapes! I will return to the rock I am living under as soon as this review is complete.

If you are a fan of Chris Van Allsburg's The Mysteries of Harris Burdick, you are sure to enjoy The Chronicles of Harris Burdick. I think it would also be a great way to introduce short fiction to young readers. It was an odd read, but also a delightful one at that.

7/10: Recommended Read

Review copy provided by publisher

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Saturday, November 5, 2011

Notable New Book Releases [Oct. 30 - Nov. 5]

It's time again for the new books that caught my eye this week. Let me know what I missed and what books you were excited about this week!

Hell and Gone by Duane Swierczynski
Pub Date: October 31, 2011

The second of three high-energy thrillers arriving back-to-back from cult crime fiction sensation Duane Swierczynski.

Left for dead after an epic shootout that blew the lid off a billion-dollar conspiracy, ex-cop Charlie Hardie quickly realizes that when you're dealing with The Accident People, things can get worse. Drugged, bound and transported by strange operatives of unknown origin, Hardie awakens to find himself captive in a secret prison that houses the most dangerous criminals on earth.

And then things get really bad. Because this isn't just any prison. It's a Kafkaesque nightmare that comes springloaded with a brutal catch-22: Hardie's the warden. And any attempt to escape triggers a "death mechanism" that will kill everyone down here--including a group of innocent guards. Faced with an unworkable paradox, and knowing that his wife and son could be next on the Accident People's hit list, Hardie has only one choice: fight his way to the heart of this hell hole and make a deal with the Devil himself.



Petrified by Graham Masterton
Pub Date:
November 1, 2011

The latest from a “master of modern horror” - Braydon Harris is convinced God has it in for him. Although Suki, his little girl, seemed thrilled to be kidnapped from her mom’s parents’ house, an electric storm has hit, and it looks like the Lord isn’t going to make it easy for Braydon to get away. Braydon’s right. A huge truck jack-knifes in front of him, his car catches alight, and Sukie winds up in hospital with terrible burns – burns which only exacerbate the terrible nightmare she’s had for years about scary things flying through the sky, like shadows . . .



Property of A Lady by Sarah Rayne
Pub Date: November 1, 2011

[Who is Sarah Rayne, and what have I been missing? Kirkus called this the "eighth novel". Of what? Her career? The series? Her books look awesome.]

A house with a sinister past - and a grisly power - When Michael Flint is asked by American friends to look over an old Shropshire house they have unexpectedly inherited, he is reluctant to leave the quiet of his Oxford study. But when he sees Charect House, its uncanny echoes from the past fascinate him - even though it has such a sinister reputation that no one has lived there for almost a century. But it's not until Michael meets the young widow, Nell West, that the menace within the house wakes . . .



The Mammoth Book of Best New Horror 22 edited by Stephen Jones
Pub Date: November 1, 2011 (Print)

The Mammoth Book of Best New Horror series continues to be the world’s leading annual anthology dedicated solely to showcasing the best in contemporary horror fiction. The latest volume is comprised of more than 20 of the most outstanding new short stories and novellas by both contemporary masters of horror and exciting newcomers.

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Thursday, November 3, 2011

Book Review: The Nightmare Within by Glen Krisch

The Nightmare Within is an excellent debut horror novel from Glen Krisch.

(Partial) Book Description
Maury has the power to pull dreams into the waking world, giving the dreams corporeal form. These dream-people range from seemingly human figures, to monstrous beasts compelled by the most primal urges. Once exposed to the real world, the dreams evolve, adapting to their surroundings.

Maury is gathering dreams for display at Lucidity, the soon-to-open Museum of Dreams. From a boy named Kevin, he removes Mr. Freakshow, a nightmare feeding on the trauma of Kevin having recently witnessed his father's murder.

[...]

Kevin will do whatever it takes to be free of his nightmare, once and for all.
Maury will do whatever it takes to protect the love of his life.
Mr. Freakshow will do whatever it takes to realize his immortality.

Will Kevin survive his nightmare?

Despite my love of horror, it's rare for me to find a book I consider scary. Not only was The Nightmare Within scary, it was heartbreaking and filled with great characters. The Nightmare Within was a multidimensional and unpredictable read, and I enjoyed the heck out of it.

I knew, knew I was going to regret waiting so long to tear into The Nightmare Within.

If you are a horror fan, I highly recommend you check out Glen Krisch. You can get The Nightmare Within by itself or coupled with Where Darkness Dwells in Twice as Dark: Two Novels of Horror (for less than $5!). Just don't wait as long as I did to read it!

8/10: Great Read

Review copy provided by the author

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Tuesday, November 1, 2011

The Great McCammon Read: The Details


It's here! Beginning this month I am planning to read/reread Robert McCammon's works.

My "The Great McCammon Read" will follow this one book a month schedule:
  • The Five
  • Mystery Walk
  • Usher's Passing
  • Swan Song
  • Stinger
  • The Wolf's Hour
  • Blue World
  • Mine
  • Boy's Life
  • Gone South
  • Speaks the Nightbird
  • The Queen of Bedlam
  • Mister Slaughter
  • The Providence Rider
  • Baal
  • Bethany's Sin
  • The Night Boat
  • They Thirst
  • I Travel by Night



I know that's a pretty huge schedule. I'm going to start with The Five this month because that is McCammon's latest release, and I have been waiting for fall to read it. Then I am going to go back through McCammon's backlist starting at the fifth book he published for a couple of reasons, but most notably because the ebooks will be available from Open Road Media if anyone wants to check them out. The last four books in my list are McCammon's first four published novels, and slated for future release by Subterranean Press.

There are some exciting things in the works in regards to The Great McCammon Read. You know, other than getting to revisit a few of my favorite stories ever. If at anyone wants to join in at any level during the course of The Great McCammon Read, please jump in or let me know! If you review (or have reviewed) a McCammon book (anywhere) let me know, and I'll be sure to showcase it no matter what month. It doesn't have to follow my schedule. If you have a favorite McCammon and you want to do something official during the month it is scheduled - on your own blog or on Book Den - let me know!

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