Tag Archives: Chris Cleave

Stacking the Shelves #2

Stacking the Shelves is hosted by Tynga’s Reviews and is a way to share the books that you’ve acquired during the past week.  This week I tried to cut back in the book-buying department (always so hard for me!), but I also went after an ARC copy of a book that I really want to review, and succeeded! Here’s what I got this week:

Something Red by Douglas Nicholas.  Release date: September 18 2012.  I just mentioned this book in my Waiting on Wednesday post and decided to contact Mr. Nicholas to see if he could send me a review copy. He was kind enough to hook me up with his publicist at Atria Books/Simon & Schuster (thanks Ariele!)  and I now have a digital ARC to read. Yippee! This is a fantasy that takes place in thirteenth century England, and I can’t wait to read it.

Shadow of Night by Deborah Harkness. Purchased. I’ve been waiting for this one forever, it seems. I loved A Discovery of Witches and I’m happy that the wait between books was relatively short. A love story between a vampire and a  witch, with time travel and exotic locales? What more do you need?

Gold by Chris Cleave. Purchased. Just in time for the Summer Olympics, Cleave’s third novel is set in the world of Olympic cycling. I’m not a sports fan, but I am a Chris Cleave fan, which means I’m excited to read this book.

What’s new on your shelves this week?


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Tammy’s Top Ten Books on my Summer TBR List

Welcome to Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by The Broke and the Bookish, one of my favorite blog events to participate in. It’s been almost a month since my last Top Ten list, so I’m excited this week’s theme is fairly easy (sometimes the themes just don’t resonate with me, so I skip them).  But there are so many great books coming out this summer, it was actually difficult to narrow it down to ten. Here they are, in order of release date:

Shadows Cast by Stars by Catherine Knutsson. Released June 6th. This book is already out. Just look at the gorgeous cover! The story takes place 200 years in the future, and combines elements of Greek mythology and tales of the aboriginal peoples. Sixteen-year-old Cassandra is immune to the plague, but people are after her blood since it has mystical properties. It’s received some awesome reviews on Goodreads, and I’m looking forward to reading it.

The Taken by Vicki Pettersson. Released June 12th. Here’s another book that’s already hit the shelves. I’ve mentioned it before in another post and I’m still excited to read it. How’s this for a blurb: “He’s a fallen angel. She’s a rockabilly reporter. Together they must solve a deadly string of murders plaguing the mortal and the immortal worlds.” (Goodreads) I don’t care how many books are out there that involve humans and immortals, I’m still not tired of them!

Talulla Rising by Glen Duncan. Release date: June 26th. I love Glen Duncan. I loved the first book in this series, The Last Werewolf (you can read that review here.) I don’t want to say too much about the plot because anything I say really will spoil it if you are planning on reading The Last Werewolf. Let’s just say it’s about werewolves and some nasty things are bound to happen. Plus, Duncan’s writing is luminous and incredibly beautiful, and it’s worth reading for that alone.

Gold by Chris Cleave. Release date: July 3rd. Do I need to mention again how much I love Chris Cleave? That his writing fills me with awe? That his story ideas are so creative, horrible, amazing, heart-wrenching and ultimately satisfying? Gold will surely be all of those things. This time he’s written about the Olympics and two women competing for a spot on the British Olympic team. But it’s not just about that. Cleave’s stories have so many layers, and his characters’ voices are so unique, that I hope you give him a chance, if you haven’t already.

God Save the Queen by Kate Locke. Release date: July 3rd. First of all, I love the cover. The story is set in an alternate universe England in the year 2012. Queen Victoria is undead, and all manner of paranormal creatures roam the streets. Our heroine Xandra is a member of the Royal Guard, and when her sister goes missing, she sets out to find her.  Seems like a fantastic combo of urban fantasy and steampunk!

Tiger Lily by Jodi Lynn Anderson. Release date: July 3rd. Lots of books coming out July 3rd! Maybe because of the holiday…Tiger Lily is the story of Tiger Lily from, you guessed it, Peter Pan, told from her point of view. It begins before Wendy comes to Neverland, when Tiger Lily falls in love with Peter. But when Wendy shows up, everything changes. I love stories that give you another perspective on a classic, and this one not only sounds fantastic, but has received some very good reviews.

Shadow of Night by Deborah Harkness. Release date: July 10th. I’ve been waiting for this follow-up since I read the last page of A Discovery of Witches.  The love story of a witch and a vampire, A Discovery of Witches was so unique and concluded with a cliffhanger ending. Second books in trilogies are often disappointing, but this one has seen some good reviews, so I’m hoping for the best!

Auracle by Gina Rosati. Release date: August 7th. Sixteen-year-old Anna can astrally project out of her body. That’s a concept for a novel you don’t run across very often.  She becomes trapped when a classmate takes over her body, and she must rely on her friend Rei to help her get back. Love the cover, and love the idea.

The Black Isle by Sandi Tan. Release date: August 7th.  Another book I’ve mentioned before, The Black Isle is a Chinese ghost story about a girl named Cassandra who can see ghosts. It has lots of historical elements and takes place from the 1920’s to WWII. It looks like a combination of real-life places and events mixed with the paranormal. I believe this is Tan’s first book.

Hearts of Darkness by Kira Brady. Release date: August 7th. It’s hard to tell from the book cover that this is actually a paranormal romance novel. It’s the first in a series, and is the story of a nurse named Kayla Friday who is trying to unravel the secret of her sister’s death. Along the way she runs into a sexy werewolf. Bad things ensue. Does love win out? Probably not in the first book.  This cover says neither “werewolf” nor “romance” to me, but who knows?


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Waiting on Wednesday #7

I’m so excited about this week’s Waiting on Wednesday! (which is hosted by Breaking the Spine, btw).  If you’ve read this blog for a while, you know that Chris Cleave is one of my very favorite writers, and I’m happy to report he has a new book coming out this summer.

Gold by Chris Cleave. Release date: July 3, 2012 by Simon & Schuster. Cleave’s Little Bee and Incendiary are two of my favorite books, and I hope to add Gold to that list.   Here’s the description from Amazon:

What would you sacrifice for the people you love?

KATE AND ZOE met at nineteen when they both made the cut for the national training program in track cycling—a sport that demands intense focus, blinding exertion, and unwavering commitment. They are built to exploit the barest physical and psychological edge over equally skilled rivals, all of whom are fighting for the last one tenth of a second that separates triumph from despair.

Now at thirty-two, the women are facing their last and biggest race: the 2012 Olympics. Each wants desperately to win gold, and each has more than a medal to lose.

Kate is the more naturally gifted, but the demands of her life have a tendency to slow her down. Her eight-year-old daughter Sophie dreams of the Death Star and of battling alongside the Rebels as evil white blood cells ravage her personal galaxy—she is fighting a recurrence of the leukemia that nearly killed her three years ago. Sophie doesn’t want to stand in the way of her mum’s Olympic dreams, but each day the dark forces of the universe seem to be massing against her.

Devoted and self-sacrificing Kate knows her daughter is fragile, but at the height of her last frenzied months of training, might she be blind to the most terrible prognosis?

Intense, aloof Zoe has always hovered on the periphery of real human companionship, and her compulsive need to win at any cost has more than once threatened her friendship with Kate—and her own sanity. Will she allow her obsession, and the advantage she has over a harried, anguished mother, to sever the bond they have shared for more than a decade?

Echoing the adrenaline-fueled rush of a race around the Velodrome track, Gold is a triumph of superbly paced, heart-in-throat storytelling. With great humanity and glorious prose, Chris Cleave examines the values that lie at the heart of our most intimate relationships, and the choices we make when lives are at stake and everything is on the line.

What books are you waiting for?


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Tammy’s Top Ten All Time Favorite Characters in Books

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.  If you head on over to their site, you can see other bloggers’ top ten lists too. This week is tough!  I mean, what do you do? Go back to the classics?  I decided to focus on books I’ve read in the past five years or so.  And I’ve noticed my list features lots of smart, beautiful, and resourceful women. With a couple of guys thrown in!  Here we go, in no particular order:

Rudy from The Book Thief by Markus Zusak. I love this book so much. And although I’m listing Rudy as my favorite character, I really love Liesel as well. This is a survival story, a love story, a sad story, and a story of hope. Liesel is the book thief, but I fell in love with her friend Rudy. Just read it, if you haven’t yet. You won’t regret it.

Candy from Emergence by David R. Palmer.  I’m so glad I thought of this book. It’s been years since I read it, but it ranks high up on my list of favorite SF stories.  Candy is an incredibly smart eleven-year-old survivor of a bionuclear plague.  With her pet parrot Terry, she sets out on a journey to find other survivors.  Yes, it sounds like a million other post-apocalyptic novels, but it’s unlike anything else you’ll ever read. I’m holding on tight to my frayed paperback copy, because unfortunately, Emergence is out of print at the moment.

Fire from Fire by Kristin Cashore. I am eagerly awaiting Bitterblue, the final book in Cashore’s trilogy, but until then I can gush over Fire, the second in the series. In this world, Fire is called a monster.  She has fiery red, beautiful hair and can control people and read their minds.  She is such a unique character, that it’s hard to compare her to anyone else.

Jake from The Last Werewolf by Glen Duncan. Jake is the last werewolf on Earth, and he is one bad-ass dude.  But he’s also handsome, suave and charismatic. Plus he has the heart of a poet. Or at least Duncan does. Jake has been around the block and has given up hope, and now that he’s being hunted, he’s almost ready to go quietly.  You kinda feel sorry for the guy, but he finds the will to live when he meets…well, I don’t want to spoil it for you…

Myfawny Thomas from The Rook by Daniel O’Malley. “Myfawny” rhymes with “Tiffany.”  That’s one of the first things you learn about this wonderful character, told in her own words.  I loved The Rook and just never got around to writing a review, but Myfawny’s first person account of how she wakes up in someone else’s body (she’s actually lost her memory) and how she solves the mystery of who exactly is trying to kill her is one of the more original stories I’ve read recently.

Unnamed narrator from Incendiary by Chris Cleave.  The subject matter about a London bombing at a soccer game is tough to swallow,  and I don’t think I would have been able to get through it if it weren’t for the heart-felt narration of a woman whose husband and son were killed in the stadium.  Written as a letter to Osama bin Laden,  the narrator’s voice is fraught with sorrow and anger, but she gets through the horrible days after the bombing with a wry humor. She is truly an unforgettable woman.

Iko from Cinder by Marissa Meyer.  One of my most recent five-star reviews, Cinder is a SF take on the Cinderella fairy tale. Its structure follows the events in the classic tale, but the unique characters make this quite different. I love the character of Cinder, but I actually loved her android Iko even more.  Iko is quite intelligent for an android, and she is Cinder’s constant companion.  She keeps Cinder’s secrets just like a real friend, and you won’t believe what happens to her near the end of the story, or how Meyer sets the stage for Iko’s reappearance in the next book in the series, Scarlet.

Kvothe from The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss. Kvothe is everything a great character should be: dashing, a talented musician and gifted with the ability to do just about everything well. He’s also irreverent and has a mysterious past. He makes women swoon and breaks lots of rules.  I didn’t like Rothfuss’ second book, The Wise Man’s Fear, as much, but I did find even more to love about Kvothe.

Karou from Daughter of Smoke & Bone by Laini Taylor. Here’s another quirky, intelligent and talented female character with colored hair! Daughter of Smoke & Bone was a favorite of mine last year, mostly due to the characters, but also because Laini’s writing is so vibrant and engaging. You can tell she truly loves the characters she is writing about, and that makes the reader love them as well. Deep down I want to be Karou, a girl who can make wishes come true and has blue hair.

Lisbeth Salander from The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson.  Although she is abused in the beginning of the story, Lisbeth gets her sweet revenge and never lets the bad guys crush her spirit. How can you not love a character like that? And she’s a computer hacker to boot. I don’t really want to be her, but I do admire her tenacity and focus.

So, who are your favorite characters?


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Tammy’s Top Ten Books I Think Would Make Great Book Club Picks

This Tuesday’s Top Ten theme, hosted by The Broke and the Bookish, is great picks for Book Clubs, a subject that is near and dear to my heart, since I’ve been in a book club for the past six years.  My book club has read some of these, and the others are ones I either read before I joined, or books I’d love for us to read in the future. I really tried to stay away from obvious choices that may be in other bloggers’ top ten lists (The Help, for example, which I read and loved but so did a lot of people.) In my opinion, they have all the elements a great book should have:  well-written, an original/quirky premise, emotional payoff, and fantastic characters.  And crucial to any book club, these books are all discussion-worthy.   Here are my top ten in no particular order:

The Secret History by Donna Tart, 1996.  I have probably read this book about seven or eight times.  It’s one of my all-time favorite reads. It’s a mystery and takes place at college in New England. The characters are super-smart Greek scholars, which makes them not only really interesting, but I also learned a lot, too. The atmospheric first-person narrative is the perfect way to tell this lush, dangerous, and seductive story.

Bel Canto by Ann Patchett, 2001.  Another all-time favorite, Bel Canto takes place in an unnamed South American country in the house of the Vice President, where a lavish birthday party is being held for a Japanese businessman.  A famous opera singer has been invited to perform for the crowd.  Without warning, terrorists break in and take everyone hostage.  This story does not go where you expect it to go, and to this day I have never read anything like it.

Life of Pi by Yann Martel, 2001.  If you have not yet read Life of Pi, go read it now!  Pi lives in India and his family runs a zoo.  When his father decides to move the family to Canada, they set off on a cargo ship, along with many of their zoo animals who are headed to zoos in North America.  Then the ship sinks, and Pi is stranded on a raft with some of the animals, including a Bengal tiger.  This strange, dreamlike book will leave you wondering what is real and what is not.

Little Bee by Chris Cleave, 2008.  My book club read this about a year ago, but it was disappointing for me because at our meeting, only two of us had actually read the book, and we tried to discuss it without spoiling it for those who hadn’t.  It’s one of those books that holds a secret that must be discovered by reading the book.  Horrific, brutal, wonderful, emotional.  All these words describe Little Bee.  Now, go start reading…

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak, 2006.  This book is marketed as young adult, although in my humble opinion it should be required reading for every human on the planet.  Liesel Meminger is the book thief of the title, and is a nine-year-old foster child living in Germany during World War II when the story begins.  The book is narrated by Death, and although it may be hard to get into the slightly unusual style, don’t give up.  Liesel’s friend Rudy is one of my ALL-TIME favorite characters from any book I’ve ever read. And I’ve read a lot…

A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson, 1998.  This is my only non-fiction offering, but it’s a good one.  I don’t generally enjoy non-fiction, but being in a book club means that occasionally someone picks a non-fiction book.  A Walk in the Woods is one such pick, and I fell in love with Bill Bryson after reading it.  Bryson recounts his experience hiking the Appalachian Trail, the characters he meets along the way, and his anticipation of running into a bear.  It’s laugh-out-loud funny and oh so interesting.

The Story of Edgar Sawtelle by David Wroblewski, 2008.  I read this book when it was first published, and now that I’m writing about it, all the emotions I felt reading it four years ago are rushing back.  Edgar Sawtelle is a tale of survival, dogs, ghosts, and courage.  It is a modern re-telling of Hamlet and it made me cry – a lot.  I loved every word.

Swamplandia! by Karen Russell, 2011.  Ava Bigtree lives with her decidedly odd family in the Florida Everglades, where they run Swamplandia!, an alligator wrestling theme park.  Then Ava’s mother dies, her father leaves for the mainland on an errand and never comes back, and her brother Kiwi defects to the competition, and Ava must keep the park going herself.  With only her older sister Ossie for company, a sister that claims to be in love with a ghost, Ava struggles to keep her family from going under. A sweet, quirky and wonderous story.

State of Wonder by Ann Patchett, 2011.  I was trying to list books by ten different authors, but I can’t help myself.  Ann Patchett is just too good, and State of Wonder deserves to be on this list with Bel Canto.  This time she takes us into the Amazon jungle with a pharmaceutical researcher named Dr. Marina Singh, who is looking for a missing colleague.  In the jungle she runs into all manner of dangerous and mysterious things, as she searches for answers.  I loved this book for its unusual setting, and the science behind pharmaceutical research was fascinating.

People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks, 2008.  Based on a true story, People of the Book is a wonderful journey into the past history of a rare and famous book, the Sarajevo Haggadah, one of the first Jewish volumes to be illuminated with images.  As Hanna Heath begins to uncover its mysteries, she discovers clues within the book, including an insect wing and salt crystals. Brooks is a master storyteller, and the talent necessary to pull off such a sweeping story is mind-boggling.

Agree? Disagree? I’d love to hear from you.


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Tammy’s Top Ten Books of 2011

The year is almost over, and I finally get to post my top ten favorite books of the year. For the first time, I am participating in “Top Ten Tuesday” created by The Broke and the Bookish.  Each week they come up with a new top ten list and invite other bloggers to participate.  I read some great books this year and it was harder than I thought to narrow it down to only ten.  But I did!  And here they are, my favorite reads of 2011, in no particular order:

1. READY PLAYER ONE by Ernest Cline.  A high-speed romp through a future where virtual reality is the norm and knowledge of 80’s pop culture might lead you to hidden treasure.  OK, it’s really hard to describe this book in one sentence.  Ready Player One is filled with 80’s trivia, fantastic characters, and enough adrenaline to keep you up late reading. You can read my review here.

2. DAUGHTER OF SMOKE & BONE by Laini Taylor.  A young-adult novel about a mysterious girl named Karou who has blue hair and draws pictures of creatures that may or may not exist.  A beautifully written story and one of the most imaginative young adult books I’ve read this year.  It’s also the only young adult title on my list, and I read a lot of them.  Unfortunately, young adult books are all starting to feel the same to me, but this one stood out, not only for its content, but for the lovely and original dust jacket.

3.  THE NIGHT CIRCUS by Erin Morgenstern.    A story that spans decades, The Night Circus is a surreal tale of dangerous magicians and true love.  Morgenstern’s prose is magical and lush, and I loved the dream-like experience of reading this book.  You can read my review here.

4.  THE FAMILY FANG by Kevin Wilson.  If you are looking for a stand-out story about a dysfunctional family, this is the one to beat.  The story of a family of performance artists, The Family Fang is a cautionary tale of how parents can damage their children.  It is funny, strange and sad, and I loved every word.

5. ORYX AND CRAKE by Margaret Atwood.  This book originally came out in 2003, but I just got around to reading it this year, and I’m so glad I did.  It’s a beautiful and horrifying vision of a future where genetic engineering has gone too far.  Oryx and Crake is written in Atwood’s usual lush style and I could not put it down.

6.  THE LAST WEREWOLF by Glen Duncan.  A bloody, sexy and funny story of, you guessed it, the last werewolf on earth.  I loved the characters, and Duncan’s writing is gorgeous.  You can read my review here.

7. INCENDIARY by Chris Cleave.  Although the subject matter is hard to read, this story of a distraught wife and mother who has lost her husband and son to a suicide bomber is a must-read.  The first-person narrative is powerful and even humorous despite the character’s pain and is the reason this novel succeeds on so many levels.

8.  STATE OF WONDER by Ann Patchett.  One of my favorite books of all time is Bel Canto by Patchett, and I’m happy to say State of Wonder is just as good.  The story takes us deep into the Amazon jungle on a search for a missing scientist. It’s got everything: drama, suspense and lots of mystery.

9.  A DISCOVERY OF WITCHES by Deborah Harkness.  In short, an epic story about the relationship between a vampire and a witch.  It’s much more than that, however, and I’m very happy that this is the first of a trilogy (Book Two comes out in 2012!).

10.  SWAMPLANDIA! by Karen Russell.  Another tale of a dysfunctional family, Swamplandia! is a story of a family of alligator-wrestlers. How can you not want to read this book?  It is poignant look at one family’s attempts to survive in a changing world.

It was a great year for books, and I’m looking forward to 2012.  Stay tuned for my next top-ten list, “Tammy’s Top Ten Books of 2011 That I Wanted to Read but Didn’t…”


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