Have You Heard of Libib? It’s the Online Book Cataloging Website of My Dreams!

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I recently ran across a book cataloging website called Libib (I know, weird name, right?) and decided to try it out. FOR FREE, you can catalog your entire library of physical books (or movies, music & video games), where it’s stored online in a database that can be sorted in various ways—alphabetically by title or author, for example—and added to at any time. And the best part is that there is a handy phone app (for iPhone and Android) that will scan the bar codes of your books and input all the book’s information into the Libib database!

Here’s how Libib works:

1. Download the Libib app onto your phone.

2. Take a book off your shelf and scan the bar code. Here’s an old book I didn’t even know I had!

scanning

3. Once the scanner picks up the bar code, the book is immediately added to your library. It even instantaneously shows up on your computer! Now that I’ve scanned The Time Machines, you can see the computer screen shot below, where the title is now part of my library! You can see it under the letter “T” where it belongs. You can also see the total number of books I’ve entered under the name of my library, “Tammy’s Physical Book Library.” Obviously, I still have lots of books to scan:-D (click on the image to make it larger).

Libib example

4. Now, simply click on the title to see all the information about the book:

libib screenshhot 2

It automatically adds a cover photo of the book, date of publication, publisher, number of pages, the ISBN number(s) and a description of the book. You can also add your own information with the “tags” and “notes” features, review the book, add a rating and lots more!

I have noticed some limitations to this system, which is that sometimes the bar code just won’t scan. I do have some books with old ISBN numbers, and it won’t pick up all of those. Also, if you have a paperback version of a book that came out in hardback first, when you scan the paperback, it will upload the hardback cover art, not the paperback cover art. That isn’t ideal for me in terms of book collecting, but it still does the job and includes the book as part of your library.

The other thing it won’t do is indicate if a book is an advanced reader’s copy, because ARCs don’t have bar codes. However, to get around that, I can find the ISBN on the ARC and MANUALLY enter it, and the book will pop up in the system. You can then go to the “tags” tab and add an “ARC” tag, which is a great way to keep track of the ARCs I own.

This is a work in progress! Here are some of the piles of books in my house that I need to scan into my Libib library. In many cases, books are double-stacked on the shelves, so you can’t even see them all (and this isn’t even all my piles!):

Once you have your library scanned into the system, you can join a social network and publish your library online, so other Libib users can see what you have. I’m not sure I’ll do that, because really, does anyone care about my library but me? Probably not:-D

I can’t tell you how excited I am to have discovered Libib! It may take me some time to catalog my entire library, but it’s super fun to do, and very quick. I know you’re all dying to know how many books I own, so once my library is scanned, I’ll do a follow-up post.

Have you ever heard of Libib? Are you interested in cataloging your book library? Or do you have another system you use? I’d love to hear about it!

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Over-Booked [17] – A Book Haul Post

Over booked banner

 Welcome to Over-Booked, where I’m sharing my recent book acquisitions, and linking up with Stacking the Shelves at Tynga’s Reviews and The Sunday Post at The Caffeinated Book Reviewer. I caved and requested a couple of Edelweiss titles, but I am getting pickier, so these are books I’m very excited about reading! Here’s what I have this week:

Physical books:

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Sweetland by Michael Crummey. This is my only purchase lately, and it just happens to be my Riot Read book of the month. I’ve heard good things about this story, and I still get a kick out of opening the Riot Read package each month and being surprised!

Tunnel Vision by Susan Adrian. Thank you to St. Martin’s Press for this finished copy! I was on the blog tour this past week and you can read my review of Tunnel Vision and enter to win a copy as well.

Pacific Fire by Greg Van Eekhout. Big thanks to Tor for the review copy! I just finished this and LOVED it. My review will be up next week, and I’m part of the blog tour on Wednesday, so make sure to come back and read my interview with Greg. I believe there is a giveaway for this blog tour as well.

There Once Lived a Mother who Loved Her Children, Until They Moved Back In by Ludmilla Petrushevskaya. OK, that’s got to be the record for the longest title ever! I won this book from Grace @ Books Without Any Pictures. Thank you Grace! This looks like a lot of fun.

Kushiel’s Dart by Jacqueline Carey. Big thanks to Tor for sending me this gorgeous reissue of a book that’s getting lots of attention! I’ll be reviewing it next month, and Tor is offering up copies for a giveaway, so stay tuned!

From Edelweiss/NetGalley:

Flex by Ferrett Steinmetz. Thanks to Angry Robot for the review copy! This book sounds awesome!

Uprooted by Naomi Novik. I’ve already seen good reviews for this book, and although I haven’t read any Novik before, I hear she’s really good.

Throne of Darkness by Douglas Nicholas. This is the third book in a series, and even though I missed the second book, the publisher tells me this works well as a stand-alone. I absolutely loved Something Red, so I’m anxious to check this out.

That’s my book haul for now! I’d love to hear if you’re planning on reading any of these! And link me up to your book hauls:-D

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Unique & Thought Provoking: THE GHOSTS OF HEAVEN by Marcus Sedgwick – Review

The Ghosts of Heaven by Marcus Sedgwick
Genre: Unable to categorize!
Publisher: Roaring Brook Press
Release date: January 6 2015
Source: eARC from publisher via NetGalley
Pages: 336

four and a half

The nitty-gritty: A quartet of interlinked stories set in different time periods, joined together by the recurring theme of the spiral. A complex story that requires some thought and patience, with a big payoff.

How arrogant is man, Bowman has sometimes wondered, to think he can know everything about the universe while stuck to the surface of a tiny planet in a remote region of the galaxy? Yes, great things have been learned, but not everything. There is always the unknown. No matter how high you climb on the spiral staircase, there is always another turn of the stair, out of view, and that’s where the unknown lies.

The Ghosts of Heaven was one of those books that completely surprised me. I had seen lots of mixed reviews on Goodreads, and I mean mixed, folks! And so I was curious to read it for myself. This is my second Marcus Sedgwick book, and while I enjoyed the last one (She is Not Invisible), I absolutely loved The Ghosts of Heaven. Not everyone will “get” this book, and it’s not a page turner or a plot-heavy story. I’ll admit it took me until the middle to finally see where it was going, and how everything would eventually tie together. The Ghosts of Heaven will make you think about big concepts, like our place in the universe and how everything is connected. It’s a philosophical piece that asks some tantalizing questions about our existence, and it does so by traveling through time and space. It requires a patient reader, and if you are that person, I guarantee you will love this book.

The story is divided into four “quarters,” and each one has its own set of characters and takes place during a different period in time. In his introduction, Sedgwick explains that the quarters can be read in any order, and the story will still make sense. Being the slightly OCD person that I am, I started at the beginning and proceeded in the normal way, reading the stories in order. I found this to work extremely well, and I urge you to do the same. The last story, in my opinion, is the linchpin of the bunch, and brings together elements from the previous three stories. All four revolved around the theme of spirals, and the way they appear in nature and art, over and over again. Briefly, here is a breakdown of the four stories:

Whispers in the Dark. This story in verse describes an ancient tribe of people who use cave art to communicate and “do magic.” A young girl hopes that she will be chosen to be “the one who will go to the caves” and make the magic on the cave walls, magic that will ensure successful hunting. The girl is chosen, but not for the reason she wants. As she travels through the forest, she notices the beautiful spirals found in nature, like a snail’s shell and the tender leaves of a fern. This is a harrowing story full of danger and explores the beginnings of written communication.

The Witch in the Water. A minister comes to a small town and sets out to wreak havoc on the innocent people who live there. A young girl, who makes medicines from the plants in the forest, is accused of witchcraft after the visiting minister convinces the townspeople that she is evil. This was an unsettling story with slowly mounting tension, as one by one, the villagers start to believe that she is a witch.

The Easiest Room in Hell. This was my second favorite tale, and it’s told through journal entries by a man named Doctor James, who has just come to work at the Orient Point Lunatic Asylum. There he meets an inmate named Charles Dexter, a man who appears sane on the outside, but is actually irrationally terrified of anything spiral-shaped, including the massive spiral staircase at the center of the asylum. James bonds with Dexter and is convinced he can help him recover, but the evil Doctor Phillips has other ideas. Sedgwick’s asylum is surrounded by the sea, which gives this story a Gothic feel. He uses foreshadowing to great effect, and the format reminded me of Dracula. This was a sad and chilling tale, and Sedgwick cleverly drops in clues from the previous two stories.

The Song of Destiny. Definitely my favorite, the last story jumps to the future, as a spaceship of five hundred sleeping people hurtles toward a planet called New Earth, a journey that will take one hundred years. Keir Bowman is a “sentinel” on the ship, one of ten people who are tasked with waking up every ten years to make sure all is in order. This was the scariest of the bunch, as we soon discover a terrifying mystery that Bowman must solve during his waking hours.

Each story feels completely different from the others; and yet somehow, it all makes sense when you’re finished reading. Over and over, Sedgwick uses the spiral as a way to unite the characters together, and ultimately, as a way to explain life itself:

“You can never make it back to where you began, you can only ever climb another turn of the spiral stair. Forever.”

I do have one complaint—or rather it’s something I’m puzzled by—and that is I don’t understand why this book is being marketed as young adult (according to Amazon, it’s for ages 12 and up). Most of the characters are adults, and the thoughtfully complex themes seem more suited for adult readers. I’ve been running across more and more “young adult” books that seem to be mislabeled, and I’d love to find out the reasoning behind some of these marketing decisions. I think by being labeled “young adult” The Ghosts of Heaven will miss out on a more appreciative audience.

This is a special book, something unique that won’t appeal to every reader. But for those who enjoy puzzles and coincidences, this is a beautifully written story that will give you chills as you read the last lines.

Big thanks to the publisher for supplying a review copy. The above quotes were taken from an uncorrected proof and may differ in the final version of the book.

Find the book:

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Want to win a copy of The Ghosts of Heaven? Check back in February for my Book Review Giveaway!

 

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Blog Tour: TUNNEL VISION by Susan Adrian – Review + Giveaway!

Welcome to my stop on the Tunnel Vision Blog Tour! You can read my review below, and don’t forget to check out the giveaway at the end of the post (U.S. and Canada only this time). First, here’s what this book is about:

Tunnel Vision

Jake Lukin just turned 18. He’s decent at tennis and Halo, and waiting to hear on his app to Stanford. But he’s also being followed by a creep with a gun, and there’s a DARPA agent waiting in his bedroom. His secret is blown.

When Jake holds a personal object, like a pet rock or a ring, he has the ability to “tunnel” into the owner. He can sense where they are, like a human GPS, and can see, hear, and feel what they do. It’s an ability the government would do anything to possess: a perfect surveillance unit who could locate fugitives, spies, or terrorists with a single touch.

Jake promised his dad he’d never tell anyone about his ability. But his dad died two years ago, and Jake slipped. If he doesn’t agree to help the government, his mother and sister may be in danger. Suddenly he’s juggling high school, tennis tryouts, flirting with Rachel Watkins, and work as a government asset, complete with 24-hour bodyguards.

Forced to lie to his friends and family, and then to choose whether to give up everything for their safety, Jake hopes the good he’s doing—finding kidnap victims and hostages, and tracking down terrorists—is worth it. But he starts to suspect the good guys may not be so good after all. With Rachel’s help, Jake has to try to escape both good guys and bad guys and find a way to live his own life instead of tunneling through others.

four stars

The nitty-gritty: An addictive and exciting story with lots of mysteries to solve, government conspiracies, and just a touch of romance.

We’re in the parking lot of a park. There are trees everywhere: cottonwoods, aspens, oaks, all in full green leaf, the grass bright. The air is hot and still. It smells like summer.

The last time I was outside, it was the dead of winter. I breathe, deep.

This. Oh God, this. I can’t go underground again.

I didn’t know much about this story before I read it. In fact, this was one of those books where I completely forgot to read the blurb first, so for that reason the plot surprised and delighted me. Tunnel Vision isn’t without its faults, however. This story requires a great deal of suspension of disbelief, and that was my main stumbling block as I was reading it. However, Jake’s voice and the imaginative idea of “tunneling” kept me flipping pages as fast as I could. For a young adult novel, the protagonist is older than normal, so keep that in mind if you are a teen reader or someone who recommends books to teens. Jake is eighteen, a senior in high school, and is about to go off to college. His language is salty to say the least, so if F-bombs aren’t your thing, this might not be the right story for you.

However, I love that this story will most likely appeal to male readers in particular, and as a parent of a teen boy who is a very reluctant and picky reader, more stories like Tunnel Vision are sorely needed. Jake is a happy but driven senior whose biggest challenges are trying hard to get into Stanford and finding the courage to talk to Rachel, the girl he has a crush on. Jake has an unusual ability to clearly see the exact location of anyone in the world, as long as he is holding a personal object of that person in his hand. He calls his ability “tunneling,” and he’s kept it mostly a secret for his entire life.

But one night at a party, Jake gets drunk and unintentionally reveals his talent to everyone in the room. Unbeknownst to him, one of the girls at the party is a spy, and before long, Jake notices an odd car that seems to be following him. Soon after, he finds himself a virtual prisoner at a secret underground facility called DARPA, where he is put through a variety of tests to see how far his ability can go. The mysterious Dr. Liesel Miller and Eric Proctor convince Jake that he is “doing good” by using his tunneling ability to locate missing persons, hostages, and even suspected terrorists.

But it isn’t long before Jake realizes everyone is lying to him, and he sets out to discover the truth about DARPA’s real intentions. What follows is a thrilling adventure story full of intrigue and danger, and at the heart of it all, a boy’s search to get back the life he’s lost.

Adrian’s idea of tunneling isn’t necessarily original, but she’s taken the idea of holding an object and psychically gleaning information from it and flipped it on its ass. Just think about the things you could do with this ability, both good and bad. At first, Jake feels good about helping hostage victims or finding lost children, but he’s also made to tunnel into people like terrorists or children being forced to make bombs. The thought is that the outcome of being able to locate these people is a good thing, as his captors continue to remind him. I loved the double-edge sword that is Jake’s tunneling ability. He constantly struggles throughout the story about whether he’s doing the right thing, and luckily there is never a clear answer to his dilemma.

One of my favorite characters was Jake’s sister Myka, a super-smart twelve-year-old who goes to a special school for genius kids. Since their father died two years ago in a plane crash, Jake and Myka have become extremely close, and Jake has a special connection with her that relates to his tunneling. I loved Myka’s endearing combination of spunk and vulnerability. She loves her family above all else and is fiercely loyal to them. I also adored Jake’s Russian grandpa who he calls “Dedushka.” He’s got some secrets of his own and is one of the few people Jake can trust. I’m dying to tell you more about him, but I don’t want to spoil the story!

There’s a romance between Jake and a girl at school named Rachel, but it’s almost more of an afterthought. Rachel’s character wasn’t developed enough for my tastes, and she’s more or less relegated to the stereotypical “girl friend” role. Honestly, I would have loved the story even if she hadn’t been part of it.

My “suspension of disbelief” issue lies in the overly dramatic reactions of the DARPA characters, who treat Jake as if he is the country’s biggest secret asset, and they will do anything to keep him under their control. I get that his tunneling ability could be potentially dangerous if he were to get nabbed by the wrong people. But when the guns and handcuffs came out, I had a hard time believing such things would happen to an eighteen-year-old. Another thing that sort of bothered me was that through Jake, we get to peek into the minds of the people he’s seeing, but we’re never told anything else about them. Why is a woman handcuffed to a chair and being threatened with a knife? And whatever happened to her after that? We’re merely observers for a brief moment, and I wanted more information on these mysterious people.

But don’t let this deter you from reading Tunnel Vision. Some of my reactions to the dramatic parts of the book could be age-related, but for teen readers, this book is one hell of a ride. Adrian knows how to combine action and excitement with a wonderfully genuine family dynamic, all in one page-turner of a story.

Big thanks to the publisher for supplying a review copy. Above quote was taken from an uncorrected proof, and may differ in the final version of the book.

Find Tunnel Vision:

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About the author:

susan adrianSusan Adrian is a 4th-generation Californian who somehow stumbled into living in Montana. As a child she danced in a ballet company and read plays dramatically to blackberry bushes. Later she got a degree in English from the University of California Davis and worked in the fields of exotic pet-sitting, clothes-schlepping, and bookstore management. She’s settled in, mostly, as a scientific editor. When she’s not hanging out with her husband and daughter, she keeps busy researching spy stuff, learning Russian, traveling, and writing more books. Tunnel Vision is her first novel.

Find Susan:  Author Website | Twitter | Facebook | Tumblr |Blog

Want to win your own copy of Tunnel Vision? Simply fill out the Rafflecopter below. This giveaway is sponsored by the publisher, and therefore is open to U.S. and Canadian residents only. Good luck!

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Waiting on Wednesday [134] OUR LADY OF THE ICE by Cassandra Rose Clarke

WOW 2014 copy

Waiting on Wednesday is hosted by Breaking the Spine, and is a fun way to share upcoming books that you’re excited about with other bloggers and readers. This beautiful cover was just revealed, and the author is one I adore!

Our Lady

Our Lady of the Ice by Cassandra Rose Clarke. Releases fall 2015 from Saga Press. This cover is so evocative and lovely, and I’m so excited to have a new Clarke book to look forward to! I loved The Mad Scientist’s Daughter, and it looks like this one also has an android in it. Here’s the description from Cassandra Rose Clarke’s website:

Hope City, Antarctica. The southernmost city in the world, with only a glass dome and a faltering infrastructure to protect its citizens from the freezing, ceaseless winds of the Antarctic wilderness. Within this bell jar four people–some human, some not–will shape the future of the city forever:

Eliana Gomez, a female PI looking for a way to the mainland.

Diego Amitrano, the right-hand man to the gangster who controls the city’s food come winter.

Marianella Luna, an aristocrat with a dangerous secret.

Sofia, an android who has begun to evolve.

But the city is evolving too, and in the heart of the perilous Antarctic winter, faction will clash, dreams will shatter, and that frozen metropolis just might boil over…

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I’m intrigued by the setting as well as the Spanish character names! This is going to the top of the pile for sure.

Have you read anything by Cassandra Rose Clarke? Let me know what you’re waiting on!

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Tammy’s Top Twelve Genre Books by Women Authors for 2015

Top Ten Tuesday new 7-14 copy

**Big thanks to Mogsy and Wendy at Bibliosanctum for this idea!

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish, and this week’s theme is “FREEBIE” which means we all get to come up with our own Top Ten lists. This past week I discovered the science fiction and fantasy website Worlds Without End, which is an awesome book database for genre books that are nominated for or have received major book awards. How did I not know about this website before? I decided to join one of their reading challenges, 2015 Women of Genre Fiction Reading Challenge.

Women of genre challenge

So it took me a while to figure out how the website works. For the reading challenges, you can only use books that are already in their database, so I had to do a bit of searching before I came up with just the right combination of books for this challenge. Luckily, many of them are already on my “to read” list. The challenge rules state that the books should be “new-to-me” women authors. (I have to admit I’m cheating a bit, because one of these authors is NOT new-to-me.)  So here are my TOP TWELVE Genre Books by Women that I plan to read in 2015 (in no particular order):

Dreamer’s Pool by Juliet Marillier. Yes, I am going to read this book! Every blogger I know has read it and LOVED it. I’m so glad it’s in WWE’s database:-D

Generation V by M.L. Brennan. Another book I’ve been trying to get to, this is the year, people!

The Three by Sarah Lotz. I want to read this before Lotz’s next book comes out later this year.

The Golden City by J. Kathleen Cheney. I have copies of the first two books in this series, and now I have a reason to make sure I read them:-D

Half Bad by Sally Green. This was a book I requested but wasn’t approved for, and so it was forgotten. But now that the sequel is on the horizon, I’m anxious to catch up.

The Quick by Lauren Owen. I won this from Library Thing, and for some reason it got lost in a pile of books. (That’s never happened to you, has it???) I’d love to read and review this so I can request more books from LT.

The Wilds by Julia Elliott. I have a digital ARC that I just didn’t get to, so now I have an excuse to catch up.

The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black. I picked up an ARC of this book at Comic Con 2013 (!) and still haven’t read it!

Maplecroft by Cherie Priest. Here’s another book I got at SDCC and now I’m determined to read it:-D

Karen Memory by Elizabeth Bear. I can’t believe I haven’t read Elizabeth Bear before, and I’m anxious to read her latest.

Kushiel’s Dart by Jaqueline Carey. Next month, Tor is re-releasing this book, which originally came out in 2001, and I’m excited that I get to help the publisher promote it with a giveaway. Many of my blogger friends have already read it, and loved it to boot!

 Zoo City by Lauren Beukes. Broken Monsters was one of my favorite books of 2014, so I’m going to start tackling Beukes’ backlist this year.

I’m excited to get started on this list! I plan on reviewing each book, even though the challenge rules say you’re not required to add reviews. Let me know if you’ve read any of these books, or if you’re participating in WWE’s reading challenge!

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Angry Robot is Back! Cover Reveal for HIDDEN HUNTRESS by Danielle L. Jensen + Giveaway

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Keep reading to the end, because Angry Robot is giving away TWO copies of Stolen Songbird!

Welcome, lovers of the UK publisher Angry Robot, who is back in action after a brief (but it sure felt long!) hiatus! I’m thrilled to be part of the cover reveal for Hidden Huntress, Book Two in Danielle L. Jensen’s The Malediction Trilogy. You may have heard of an amazing book called Stolen Songbird:

Stolen Songbird

And hopefully you’ve read it, because seriously folks, it’s amazing. After the closure last year of Strange Chemistry, all of Danielle’s fans were worried that we might not get to read the rest of her story. But luckily, Angry Robot will be continuing the trilogy, and I couldn’t be more excited! Hidden Huntress won’t be out until June, but in the meantime you can oooh and aahhh over this cover, and make sure you add it to your Goodreads list. Ready???

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Beautiful, right? And I love that it obviously takes place in a different setting…hmmmm. Just to whet your appetite, here’s the blurb from Goodreads:

Beneath the mountain, the king’s reign of tyranny is absolute; the one troll with the capacity to challenge him is imprisoned for treason. Cécile has escaped the darkness of Trollus, but she learns all too quickly that she is not beyond the reach of the king’s power. Or his manipulation.

Recovered from her injuries, she now lives with her mother in Trianon and graces the opera stage every night. But by day she searches for the witch who has eluded the trolls for five hundred years. Whether she succeeds or fails, the costs to those she cares about will be high.

To find Anushka, she must delve into magic that is both dark and deadly. But the witch is a clever creature. And Cécile might not just be the hunter. She might also be the hunted…

Add to Goodreads | Angry Robot | Danielle on Twitter

Are you ready for the giveaway? Angry Robot is kindly offering up (2) copies of Stolen Songbird, for those of you who need to catch up with the series! Open to US/UK residents only. Please fill out the Rafflecopter widget below to enter. Good luck!

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Beware the Obscura: SHUTTER by Courtney Alameda – Review

Shutter 3D

Shutter by Courtney Alameda
Genre: Young adult horror
Publisher: Feiwel and Friends
Release date: February 3 2015
Source: ARC from Comic Con
Pages: 384

five stars

The nitty-gritty: An unexpectedly addictive story, with a multi-genre feel that’s got something for everyone. An amazing page-turner that shouldn’t be missed!

When I opened my eyes, I stared up at the ribs of the Golden Gate Bridge. Large, toothy holes were busted into the deck, and chunks of concrete dangled from rebar sinews. Graffiti covered the bridge tower. Dripping water pealed like death knells and the whole structure creaked, its bones fracturing. The sky overhead had the livid darkness of dead flesh, of twilight dying.

While I adore the cover of Shutter, it doesn’t really tell you the whole story. If you’ve heard that Shutter is a frightening horror story, well yes, it is that. But it’s a whole lot more. Mix together Ghost Busters and City of Bones, add a healthy dollop of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and you have an approximation of the Shutter reading experience. Alameda is a writer to watch, because not only is her prose really good, but she knows how to write an exciting page-turner. I knew when I started reading that Shutter was a stand-alone, but the more I got to know the characters and the world, the more I wanted it to actually turn out to be a series! Imagine how sad I was at the end when everything wrapped up, no dangling threads or cliffhangers to be found.

When I say “multi-genre,” I mean that it’s a combination of horror, urban fantasy, paranormal, and a bit of a romance as well. It also had the feel of a superhero story, since in Alameda’s world, ghosts and other “necros” as she calls her undead, are a part of everyday life, and it’s up to the Helsing Corps—a military-like group of “reapers”—to keep the rest of humanity safe. Micheline Helsing—and yes, you guessed it, she’s a descendent of Bram Stoker’s Van Helsing—is part of the Corps, and is a tetrachromat, someone who can see the different colored auras of ghosts and other undead creatures. Micheline’s special weapon against the undead is her DSLR camera, which she uses to “trap” the ghosts’ energy, in effect, killing them.

She’s aided by her crew, including Jude, a boy who can see someone’s death when he touches them; Oliver, a computer hacker and technical whiz; and Ryder, a reaper from the wrong side of the tracks who Micheline just happens to be in love with. Together they are usually an unbeatable team. But one night, something goes wrong when Micheline is trying to capture a ghost on film, and the entire crew becomes infected with a “soulchain,” a supernatural curse that will kill the infected in seven days unless the chain is broken. With a deadly deadline hanging over their heads, it’s a race to find and kill the ghost for good.

There were so many layers to this story, I almost don’t know where to begin. I guess I’ll talk about the world building first, which I found fascinating. Alameda takes the fictional tale of Dracula and turns it into fact, thus establishing a hierarchy of ghost hunters that descend from the Van Helsings, the Stokers, and other well-known family names from classic horror literature. Add to that the idea that Micheline is nearly the last of the Helsing line, and her father expects her to marry well and continue the family name, in order to preserve her abilities in future generations. Her childhood friend Ryder is not at all what Micheline’s father has in mind, and I loved the Romeo and Juliet romance between the two of them (although that romance does not overwhelm the story at all).

One of my favorite elements was the use of mirrors, and “antimirrors,” which separate our world from the world of the dead, which is literally on the other side of the mirror. Ghosts that are trapped in the Obscura, as this terrible place is called, cannot cross over into the land of the living unless the mirror is broken, and so the reapers take great care in protecting antimirrors. The world of the Obscura is similar to ours, yet dark and decrepit, and I loved Alameda’s descriptions of it.

The author also gives a plausible explanation for how a ghost’s energy can be captured on film. Her descriptions were technical enough that I completely bought into the concept, even though most of the techy stuff went over my head. Some reviewers claim that this idea is similar to that of a video game called Fatal Frame, but not being a gamer myself, I can’t say whether that’s true or not.

The action was nearly non-stop, and the story was so tense in places that I honestly could not stop reading. The entire thing takes place over the course of four days and nights, while the chapter titles count down the hours like a ticking clock. Alameda sets her story in San Francisco, and creates a fictional island where the Helsing Corps lives and trains as part of their duties. There was a very exciting escape scene when the gang is trying to get off the island, but I won’t tell you any more than that so as not to spoil the story for you!

In addition to all the action, Shutter has a surprising amount of emotional moments between the characters, which is just another one of those layers I mentioned earlier. Micheline and her father have a very tense relationship, and in the beginning I couldn’t stand him. But as the story goes on, we get a glimpse into the past and the reasons Leonard Helsing is so angry at Micheline. This particular back story was emotionally fraught and gave what could have been merely an exciting action story much more depth.

I don’t know what Courtney Alameda is working on next, or whether or not she intends to delve back into this compelling world, but I sure hope she does. I didn’t even touch on all the wonderfully drawn characters in Shutter, but trust me when I say I want to know more about each one, and I definitely want to spend more time with them. If you’re looking for your next addictive read, then folks, you’ve just found it. Highly recommended!

Big thanks to Feiwel and Friends/Macmillan for supplying a review copy. Quote above was taken from an uncorrected proof and may differ in the final version of the book.

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Waiting on Wednesday [133] SPLINTERED by Jamie Schultz

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Waiting on Wednesday is hosted by Breaking the Spine, and is a fun way to share upcoming books that we’re excited about with other bloggers and readers. This week I’m featuring a sequel to a new series I starting reading last year:

Splintered

Splintered (Arcane Underworld #2) by Jamie Schultz. Releases in July from Roc. I had a blast reading the first book in the series, Premonitions, and I’m looking forward to getting back into Jamie’s urban fantasy world. Here’s what Goodreads has to say:

The author of Premonitions continues his Arcane Underworld saga…

Anna Ruiz is on a mission: Help her friend and partner-in-crime, Karyn Ames, break free of the tangle of hallucinations and premonitions that have cut her off from reality. With the aid of her crew—ex-soldier Nail and sorcerer Genevieve—she’ll do whatever it takes to get Karyn help, even if it means tracking down every lowlife informant and back alley magic practitioner in the occult underworld of Los Angeles.

But since a magical heist went to hell, the crew has been working for crimelord and doomed magus Enoch Sobell. Between fighting Sobell’s battles with some seriously scary demonic forces and tangling with a group of violent fanatics who want to manipulate Karyn’s abilities for their own gains, Anna, Nail, and Genevieve are beginning to realize they’re in way over their heads.

And now that Karyn’s secret about seeing the future is out, even more unpleasant parties—human and otherwise—are about to come knocking…

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Have you read Premonitions yet? Let me know what you’re waiting on!

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Tammy’s Top Ten Releases of 2014 I Meant to Read, But…

Top Ten Tuesday new 7-14 copy

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish! I’ve been furiously participating in Top Ten Tuesday for the past couple of months, nearly every week, because there have been so many great topics. This will be my last one for a while, it’s time for a break! I hate making this list, because I sincerely wanted to read each of these books. But too many review commitments and life getting in the way made it impossible. I’m going to make an effort to play catch-up, however, and try to get to as many of these as possible in 2015, especially since I already have copies of each one:-) Instead of the usual “ten,” I’m bringing you my Top Fourteen Releases of 2014 that I Meant to Read:

The Horror Books:

Motherless Child by Glen Hirshberg. Tor sent me a finished copy of this book, so technically I should consider this a review book. Nonetheless, it’s one of five horror novels that I’m determined to read.

Bird Box by Josh Malerman. I’ve heard great things about this psychological horror story, and I have a copy ready and waiting.

The Three by Sarah Lotz. This book has all sorts of rave reviews, and the sequel, Day Four, comes out this year, so I definitely want to catch up soon.

The Lesser Dead by Christopher Buehlman. A vampire tale set in 1970s New York, this book is very high on the list to read soon.

Maplecroft by Cherie Priest. I snagged an ARC of this book at Comic Con, but just didn’t have time to squeeze it in. I’ve read some mixed reviews, but I’m still determined to read it this year.

The Review Books:

The Wilds by Julia Elliott. Confession: I am a book review blogger but sometimes I miss review books. I’ve heard excellent things about this short story collection, so I’m making it a point to catch up.

The Barrow by Mark Smylie. A very kind publicist sent me a copy, yes, after it had been released, but I still feel bad that I wasn’t able to fit it into the schedule. I’ll be taking care of that soon, especially since the sequel comes out this year.

The Cure for Dreaming by Cat Winters. This was one of those NetGalley titles that wasn’t available on Kindle, and I messed up and forgot to download it to my Nook before it was archived. BUT I turned around and purchased a copy, so I have it ready to read and review!

Tomorrow and Tomorrow by Thomas Sweterlitsch. Here’s a review book from Edelweiss that just got pushed under the rug for some reason (certainly not on purpose!). And it received some awesome reviews, so I want to read it even if the review is late.

Midnight Thief by Livia Blackburne. I read and loved the prequel to this book, Poison Dance, but I was in a time crunch when the release month came around. I’d love to catch up before Daughter of Dusk (book two) comes out this summer.

The Quick by Lauren Owen. This was a Library Thing win, and I’m kicking myself for not getting to it. It is pretty long, and maybe that’s why I pushed it off.

The Recommended Books:

Dreamer’s Pool by Juliet Marillier. Multiple bloggers have recommended this book, and I rushed out and bought my own copy because of that. Now I just need to find the time to read it!

Dorothy Must Die by Danielle Paige. This book got lots of good reviews, and I bought a copy when it came out. And it’s another book with a sequel coming out this year.

This Shattered World by Amie Kaufman & Meagan Spooner. I loved the first book in this series, and the lovely Tabitha sent me an ARC of This Shattered World. I had hoped to get to it last month, but didn’t.

So, which one should I read first? I need help deciding!

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