New on the Shelves…

By Lisa | Filed in New Books | No comments yet.

Here’s another new title I could not resist: Lovecraft’s Monsters with a pretty terrific list of authors.

monstersPrepare to meet the wicked progeny of the master of modern horror. In Lovecraft’s Monsters, H. P. Lovecraft’s most famous creations—Cthulhu, Shoggoths, Deep Ones, Elder Things, Yog-Sothoth, and more, appear in all their terrifying glory. Each story is a gripping new take on a classic Lovecraftian creature, and each is accompanied by a spectacular original illustration that captures the monsters’ unique visage.

Contributors include such literary luminaries as Neil Gaiman, Joe R. Lansdale, Caitlín R. Kiernan, Karl Edward Wagner, Elizabeth Bear, and Nick Mamatas. The monsters are lovingly rendered in spectacular original art by World Fantasy Award–winning artist John Coulthart (The Steampunk Bible).

You know, I told someone recently that I haven’t done a giveaway in ages and this is my second in 2 weeks! This sounds like a fantastic read and since I can’t fit it into my schedule, I want some of my readers to put it on their TBR list, then come back and tell me all about it. To help you along, I’ve got some free copies straight from the publisher. Now, a little about the book to whet your appetite:

half-brother_3D“When Harvard graduate Charlie Garrett starts teaching at Abbott, an Episcopal boarding school in Massachusetts, the chair of the English department tells the young teacher that his students ‘all still believe in truth.’ LeCraw’s gorgeous sentences dramatize a campus where literature stirs young hearts and minds . . . LeCraw never eases the emotional tension. . . One of the finest school-set novels in recent memory.” 

The Millions


“With profound insights and through elegant, understated prose, LeCraw tells an intricate tale of loyalty and betrayal, secrets and truths, taking readers on a dreamlike journey into the heart of passion and the soul of family. In this exotic, emotive, and evocatively delicate novel, LeCraw brings southern gothic to staid New England in a tale reminiscent of books by Pat Conroy, Anne Rivers Siddons, Anne Tyler, and Donna Tartt.

–Carol Haggas, Booklist (starred)


“Fresh out of Harvard, Charlie Garrett becomes an English teacher at the Abbott School in Abbottsford, Massachusetts . . . But Charlie isn’t a typical blue blood . . . Charlie is drawn to chaplain Preston Bankhead, a fellow Southerner, and falls in love with Preston’s daughter, May, nine years his junior. He doesn’t act on his feelings while she’s an Abbott student, but they correspond when she goes to college and begin an ardent affair when she comes home to take care of her father while he’s dying of melanoma . . . a complicated, engrossing study of characters and relationships. 


For more on Holly, check out her website, Holly LeCraw , and follow her on Twitter @HollyLeCraw.

I’ll be giving away one free copy for every five entries, up to a total of 5 copies. US only, please. Just use the form at the bottom and give me your name, email and shipping address. Don’t worry – no one sees the form but me; if you’d rather not leave your address, just say so in the comments, but be ready to reply quickly if you’re a winner! If you share this on Twitter or Facebook, leave me a link for a bonus entry. Entries close at midnight on Friday, February 20th and I will announce the winner(s) Saturday morning. Good luck!

Your Name (required)

Your Email (required)

Did you share this on Twitter or Facebook? Link here

Address or Contact Instructions

A friend of mine at Felony & Mayhem Press passed this song along to me. They are vying for a FedEx small business grant and if you like their song, I hope you’ll vote for their business! There’s a link below to vote and you can vote once a day using your social media logins. Even if you decide not to vote, check out their song – great stuff for mystery lovers!



By Lisa | Filed in Quotables | No comments yet.

“It is likely I will die next to a pile of things I was planning to read.”

– Lemony Snicket

Happy Valentine’s Day!

By Lisa | Filed in Commentary | One comment


Hot Guys with Books

By Lisa | Filed in Book Review | No comments yet.

I saved this one for Valentine’s Day! What could be better than a hot guy reading a book? How about two hot guys kissing over a book? Oh yeah! Thanks to James Franco and Zachary Quinto for starting V-Day off right.

zach and james

Magno_Girl (1)Sometimes, there are books that I’d really like to read, but I know I am already over-committed and I just have to say no. But that doesn’t mean YOU can’t read it! So today, I’ve got a guest post from Joe Canzao, author of Magno Girl. I loved the synopsis:

When a Manhattan pizza maker is found dead in his own dough, Magno Girl enlists the aid of her biker ninja boyfriend to help solve the crime – and quickly discovers there’s more to the pie than meets the eye, including a sinister plot that spans the globe. 

Magno Girl leaps into action. After all, she can fly, she can fight, and she can use her fearsome superpower, the “Gaze of the Guilt,” to bring a hardened criminal to his knees. But the road ahead is hard. The city’s other superheroes despise her, and the cops don’t want her around, and her own mom won’t stop spitting out advice about marrying a “respectable guy” and trading in her crime-fighting career for a baby carriage—but is she attracted to “respectable guys”? And is she interested in emotional commitment? And will finding real love be her biggest challenge of all? 

How could you not want to read that! And now, you’ll get a chance to. First, Joe has a few words about writing and humor; after that, you’ll get a chance to enter a giveaway and win a signed copy of Magno Girl. Keep reading…



Guest Post: Joe Canzano, author of Magno Girl

“So, what kind of novel do you have?”

“It’s a humor novel.”

“Yeah, but what kind of book is it?”

“It’s absurd humor—comedy.”

“Yeah, but is it a mystery? A science fiction book? What is it?”

There was a time when this was a normal conversation for a writer of comedy fiction. Comedy only existed inside of other pigeonholes. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy was sold as a science fiction book – and it is sci-fi, but isn’t it humor first? I found it in the sci-fi section of the bookstore. Do you remember book stores? They were like phone booths and buffaloes—once there were millions of them, but now, not so much.

Thanks to the internet, there is now a “humor” section in the book world, and I appreciate that change. I can call my novel “humor”, and then drill it down to other things that it’s related to, but really isn’t. I’m talking about something like fantasy. If I call my book “fantasy” it will not be what readers of that genre expect. It sure doesn’t belong anywhere near The Lord of The Rings.

Don’t get me wrong, I love Gandalf and his merry gang—THAT book is true fantasy. That’s old school, high fantasy, where men are men and hobbits are hobbits and women are scarce.

“But there were girls in the movie!” you say. They added them in. The books were all about a bunch of guys—wait, is Gollum a guy? Okay, the books were all about a bunch of non-females. It was a great story, but it was a little light on the lip gloss.

When all is said and done, I call my novel, Magno Girl, “comic urban fantasy,” since that’s the closest thing that fits outside of just calling it “humor.”

You can read a pdf of the first 20 pages right here:

Check it out.


And now for the giveaway! Leave me your name and email (it won’t be visible to anyone but me) and tell me what your Superpower would be! US residents only, please. Enter by 5pm EST on Sunday, February 15th, and I will announce the winner on Monday. Good luck!

Your Name (required)

Your Email (required)

What would your Superpower be?

Also: Did you share this on Facebook or Twitter? Include a link, so I can give you bonus entries!

New on the Shelves…

By Lisa | Filed in New Books | One comment

Now, just yesterday I posted the big list of new books I’ve received and told you I would be featuring them here in New on the Shelves. And I will, I promise – but first, I’m going to feature the newest addition, which just came in today: The Long and Faraway Gone by Lou Berney:

longWith the compelling narrative tension and psychological complexity of the works of Laura Lippman, Dennis Lehane, Kate Atkinson, and Michael Connelly, Edgar Award-nominee Lou Berney’s The Long and Faraway Gone is a smart, fiercely compassionate crime story that explores the mysteries of memory and the impact of violence on survivors—and the lengths they will go to find the painful truth of the events that scarred their lives.

In the summer of 1986, two tragedies rocked Oklahoma City. Six movie-theater employees were killed in an armed robbery, while one inexplicably survived. Then, a teenage girl vanished from the annual State Fair. Neither crime was ever solved.

Twenty-five years later, the reverberations of those unsolved cases quietly echo through survivors’ lives. A private investigator in Vegas, Wyatt’s latest inquiry takes him back to a past he’s tried to escape—and drags him deeper into the harrowing mystery of the movie house robbery that left six of his friends dead.

Like Wyatt, Julianna struggles with the past—with the day her beautiful older sister Genevieve disappeared. When Julianna discovers that one of the original suspects has resurfaced, she’ll stop at nothing to find answers.

As fate brings these damaged souls together, their obsessive quests spark sexual currents neither can resist. But will their shared passion and obsession heal them, or push them closer to the edge? Even if they find the truth, will it help them understand what happened, that long and faraway gone summer? Will it set them free—or ultimately destroy them?


The [Book] Blizzard of 2015

By Lisa | Filed in Commentary, New Books | No comments yet.

Dear Readers, I don’t know about the weather where you are but here, at The Shelves, there has been a blizzard of books! I have towering stacks of books covering just about every available surface! I am tempted to engage in some typical blizzard behavior and make a French Toast Run (go to the grocery store for eggs, milk and bread) and pretend I am snowed in with my lovely stacks of books.

Now, I have to face the fact that I may not be able to read all of these right away. I have a job. I have a social life. I have things to do that, sadly, keep me away from my reading. And if I do my usual New Books posts (2 per week), it will quite literally be months before I get to tell you about all of the books – in fact, there’s a good chance that the review will appear before the New on the Shelves post does! So, I wanted to take a minute and share this bounty with you. I will still be putting up New on the Shelves posts, because I assume if you are hanging out here you like to hear about new books. I will still be getting to the reviews as quickly as I can. But in the meantime, take a minute to click on some of these links and check out all the great new reading in our future! (And if you’re a little jealous – that’s okay. I forgive you.) So here, in no particular order, the Book Blizzard of 2015:

John the Pupil by David Flusfeder

Throne of Darkness by Douglas Nicholas

Silverblind (Ironskin Book 3) by Tina Connolly

Forgiving Maximo Rothman by A. J. Sidransky

The Unraveling of Mercy Louis by Keija Parssinen

The Bookseller by Cynthia Swanson

Mark of the Beast by Adolphus A. Anekwe

Island: How Islands Transform the World by J. Edward Chamberlain

The Forgetting Place by John Burley

The World Before Us by Aislinn Hunter

Of Things Gone Astray by Janina Matthewson

Monday’s Lie by Jamie Mason

The Whites by Richard Price

Better Than Before: Mastering the Habits of Our Everyday Lives by Gretchen Rubin

Life by Keith Richards

Lucky Alan: And Other Stories by Jonathan Lethem

The Flamethrowers by Rachel Kushner

A Head Full of Ghosts: A Novel by Paul Tremblay

The Peripheral by William Gibson

Wreckage by Emily Bleeker

The Night Circus by Erin Morganstern

Slim by Design: Mindless Eating Solutions for Everyday Life by Brian Wansink

Now admit it – you’re jealous. And if you’re like me, a little intimidated. That is quite a reading list! I’d stay and chat, but I need to get a few pages done before the end of the day.

triggerOh, I can’t tell you how excited I was to get a copy of Trigger Warning: Short Fictions and Disturbances for review! My love affair with Neil Gaiman’s writing has been a troubled one – some things I love, some things I don’t – but I love short stories when they are well-written and this collection was a treasure. That doesn’t mean I loved every one of them, that almost never happens, but there are some that were so good, so compelling, that I was sorry to see them end.

The book starts with a fairly long introduction, which makes great reading if you’re interested in a writer’s process and how they think about their work. It even contains a little bonus story about The Shadder – I love little hidden gems like this. (Joe Hill’s 20th Century Ghosts had a similar bonus story.) There is also a prize beyond measure: a recap of each of the stories and how they came to be. What a fabulous way to start the book! Not only do I get a preview of what’s coming, I get a little insight into the story behind the story.

I was torn about whether I should read these intros before I read the story, or afterwards. I opted for before (I don’t mind spoilers), but still found that by the time I read each story, I wanted to go back and read the introduction again, see if I remembered correctly, see what I thought about the origins, now that I’d read the story. It added a great deal to the book, and people who skim over it are really missing out.

As I was reading, I kept thinking, “Oh, this will be the story that I say was my favorite” – thought that at least 4 or 5 times and meant it every time. There is a good variety of stories here, not all frightening, not all funny, but clearly all the product of a wondrous imagination. There were stories that startled me, stories that worried me, and one story, “The Man Who Forgot Ray Bradbury”, that made me bring up my local library website and check out some more short stories. It brought back some marvelous memories.

I loved “The Thing About Cassandra”, the story about a shy young man and his imaginary girlfriend – all well and good, until 20 years later she shows up on Facebook, asking about him. I loved two of the stories in “The Calendar of Tales.” In October Tale, we wonder what happens when a happy and contented young woman finds a genie in a bottle and has nothing to wish for. In November Tale, a critically ill woman buys a brazier at a garage sale, planning to burn away old papers…and maybe much more.

My favorites by far were the Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Who stories. In “The Case of Death and Honey,” Sherlock solves the greatest mystery of all. I love the way his story is interwoven with that of the beekeeper, and the idea makes perfect sense to me: what on earth would Sherlock Holmes, the man who prefers serial killers to boredom, do when he retired? And “Nothing O’Clock” brings the new Doctor and Amy Pond an even greater and more dangerous enemy than the Daleks: The Kin. I am not a Dr. Who fan; I always think it’s exactly the sort of thing I should love, but I don’t. This story, however, really captures the spirit of the show, with enough background that even a non-viewer will enjoy it.

And I could go on. And on. There was “Click-Clack the Rattlebag.” There was “Witch Work.” There was “Adventure Story.” So much good storytelling, pared down into bite-size morsels, to be enjoyed in a sitting and smiled over the rest of the day. God, I love short stories – and I think you’ll enjoy this collection, as well.

My copy of Trigger Warning: Short Fictions and Disturbances by Neil Gaiman was an Advanced Reader Copy, provided free of charge.