Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Giveaway of giveaways

I apologize for a single-giveaway post, but this one is just too drool-worthy to resist! Win Susan Holloway Scott's entire bibliography! I kind of hating advertising it, as I desperately want to win, but I'm willing to share the joy! Thank you to Passages To the Past for hosting!

Dracula in Love - Karen Essex

Title: Dracula In Love
Author: Karen Essex

Genre: Fiction (Paranormal)

Love/Hate?: Mostly love, but things got a little frosty between us toward the end.
Rating: 3.5ish/5
Did I finish?: Y to the E-S.

One-sentence summary: Mina Murray tells all, news at eleven.

Tropes: SPOILERS! The expected - vampires are sexy; make good soul mates. (I don't get it the appeal of alabaster skin on men. Or blood sharing.) Also, motherhood trumps all.

Why did I get this book?: I didn't want to be the last one to read it!
Source: Public library.
Challenges: Historical Fiction, Support Your Local Library

Do you like the cover?: Yes. I want to be that chick so desperately, right down to her gloves.

First line from book: Everyone has a secret life.

Did... I become so engrossed in Mina's telling of the story that I often found myself cursing Stoker for covering things up, as if this were a real-life tale?: YES.

Did... this book remind me of the Francis Ford Coppolla film?: Yes, due to one major plot point.

Did... I routinely stop reading just as things got good because I wanted to keep from finishing this book too soon?: YES. Such delicious torture.

Did... knowing that Essex's research was accurate make the scenes in the madhouse more awful/awesome?: YES. Seriously, sometimes the truth really is more horrifying than fiction.

Review: I'm not a vampire girl when it comes to supernatural affections. But I love classic vampire stories so I was willing to give this book a try since it was a spin-off of the original. And having been introduced the possibility of a Mina Murray with some real oomph (thanks to League of Extraordinary Gentlemen -- the graphic novels, not the film) I've been eagerly awaiting her incarnation in popular literature. Karen Essex's Mina comes close to satisfying.

The conceit is brilliant: Bram Stoker got it wrong. And with that start, the story develops as a very twisted parallel to the one originally offered, deviating here and there, revealing far more malicious and duplicitous characters than the ones Stoker presented. Purists might protest, but that's the best part: it was a man telling the story in a man's world, and Mina's experience in that world was vastly different.

Essex's research really comes out in the novel, especially regarding Seward and his work at the madhouse. The passages featuring 'treatments' at the madhouse are chilling, perhaps the most horrifying stuff in the novel and I found myself really questioning whether the Count was the villain -- or the medical community.

Sadly, my constant swoons over this book lessened as the story went on. Even though I'm not naturally inclined toward vampires -- especially as romantic leads -- I was willing to run with it (especially since every mortal man had so far been monstrous). But midpoint in the novel Mina developed the kind of sudden onset passivity seen in some action film heroines, when they transform from strong, tough characters to helpless creatures in need of a hero to make things better. Even though Mina ultimately came into her own by the end of the novel, the second half of the book left me very cold.

I found the romance between Mina and the Count to be very contrived, despite Essex's attempts to give it some romantic gravitas (which, frankly, were a little too Marion Zimmer Bradley-esque for my tastes), and I especially hated Mina's easy acceptance of the histrionic men -- immortal and moral -- in her life. After the treatment she experienced with Jonathan Harker, it was insulting that she took it from the Count. Girlfriend should have schooled the man, not let him skulk around.

Ultimately, I liked this book -- it was such a refreshingly researched take on Stoker's Dracula. As Essex explains in her Author's Notes, the era of Stoker's Dracula was one filled with abject fear about women. Illuminating that in this book is what made it so captivating and charming despite it's flat romance.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Short Fiction Friday, 8/27

This week's offerings are all of a sci-fi-ish bent. Clearly I was in a mood when I started collecting items!

'Invisible' by Lisa Martens

This is not a story for the easily offended: a very direct look at sexism and desire. Twisted -- and very good.

'Five Rules for Commuting in the Underworld' by Merrie Haskell

I have a soft spot for Persephone, and I like stories that place power back in her hands.

'The Fermi Paradox Is Our Business Model' by Charlie Jane Anders

I'm a bit impatient with scifi that is too technical too fast, or loaded with a lot of scientific jargon that goes over my head. This great piece has fabulous world building, and does so in a brief amount of space and time without losing the reader.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Winner - For the King

And by random draw, the winner of my copy of For the King by Catherine Delors is


Congrats! I've sent an email; please send me your mailing address so you can get this amazing book in your hot, little hands! ;)

WWW Wednesday, 8/25

Cute meme from Should Be Reading, WWW Wednesday!

* What are you currently reading? Kiss Me Deadly, which is really completely perfect for a day like today!

* What did you recently finish reading? Persuasion by Jane Austen

* What do you think you’ll read next?: I'm dragging out Dracula In Love because I don't want to finish it it (in a good way). So it's a concurrent/next read.

What are you all reading now?

Giveaway Roundup, 8/25

Haven't done a giveaways post in a while -- now that Mockingjay and Red Queen are out, I'm waiting to see what the next hot books will be. In the meantime, there are still so many other delicious books available!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Persuasion - Jane Austen

Title: Persuasion
Author: Jane Austen

Genre: Fiction (Classic/Literary)

Love/Hate?: Looooooooooooooooove.
Rating: 4/5
Did I finish?: I did!

One-sentence summary: Middle child given bad life advice, misses out on man of her dreams, but gets second chance!

Why did I get this book?: I have the 'Jane Austen is my Homegirl' challenge; and I was in the mood.

Source: Local library!

Do you like the cover?: Yes -- I like the sweet simplicity of it, although I think the row boat is a bit odd. Schooner perhaps?

Did this book make me wish my commute were longer?: YES. Or that I should have no commute and could sit around a read all day.

Did this book require a dictionary?: YES: éclaircissement (the clearing up of anything which is obscure or not easily understood; an explanation), and weirdly enough, retrench, only because I thought I knew what it meant, but decided to double check.

Did I eventually have to quit dog earring any page with a quote I liked because I was going to end up simply retyping the novel?: YES

Review: How do you review Jane Austen if you're not Harold Bloom or Margaret Drabble? I can't even, so I'll discuss this particular edition: Signet Classic (2008), with an introduction by Margaret Drabble (from 1964) and an afterward by Diane Johnson (of Le Mariage/Le Divorce fame).

I feel like I also should come clean and say straight out that Pride & Prejudice is not my favorite Austen (seriously, I don't get the Darcy love). My favorite Austen is Northanger Abbey. I cut my teeth on Gothics like Mysteries of Udolpho and have always felt rather affectionately toward Catherine Morland. After that, Persuasion tops my list. So despite any flaws this book might have in terms of plot or characters, I really love this book.

Diane Johnson's Afterword was an enjoyable addition. As an aspiring novelist, I read for enjoyment -- but also, to learn. Johnson reviews Austen's techniques and highlights her skillful writing. I rather wish it was offered at the beginning -- Johnson's notes inspire a close reading.

Teaser Tuesday: 8/24

Teaser Tuesday hosted by Should Be Reading.

Oh, this week's teaser is So.Good. I literally opened my brand new copy of Kiss Me Deadly: 13 Tales of Paranormal Love so I've no idea the context of this teaser, but damn, I'm intrigued! It comes from the short piece 'Hare Moon' by Carrie Ryan.

Her hand shakes as she dips the pen into ink and holds it above the page. The printed words are impossible to decipher, tears trembling from her eyes and her body racked with sobs. And then she writes: There is always a choice. It is what makes us human. It is what separates us from the Unconsecrated. But that does not mean that choice cannot turn men into monsters. I have chosen survival over life.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Mailbox Monday, 8/23

Hosted by Chick Loves Lit!

An amazing haul this week!

Adam & Eve, via LibraryThing. There seems like a metric ton of plot happening here, which could be awesome or terrible. I'm pretty excited.
Naslund (Ahab's Wife) delivers a cheesy blend of futuristic thriller, pseudoreligious speculation, and idyllic romance. In 2017, Lucy Bergmann's astrophysicist husband is murdered just before he is to reveal the existence of extraterrestrial life. Now, as the keeper of a copy of his data, Lucy's being stalked by the leaders of a sect called Perpetuity, who intend to destroy any challenge to their fundamentalist beliefs. And when Lucy agrees to transport an ancient scroll that offers an alternate version of the Book of Genesis from Cairo to the Dordogne, she becomes a double target. Lucy pilots a plane (this convenient ability is indicative of the preposterous plot) and crash-lands in Mesopotamia, where she meets a gorgeous, naked man named Adam (an American GI gone a touch nutty) who nurses her back to health in a facsimile of the Garden of Eden. Their chaste but busy domesticity is eventually threatened by the evil Perpetuity crew, and they face even more danger after an escape to France. It's embarrassingly bad in every way, from the dopey conceit of a 21st-century Eden to the paper-thin characters who spout ersatz philosophy and spiritual theorizing while enjoying the cloying clichés of romance fiction.

Banned in Boston, because I'm a Boston girl myself and I adore Beacon Press books.

“I want to be intelligent, even if I do live in Boston.”
—an anonymous Bostonian, 1929

In this spectacular romp through the Puritan City, Neil Miller relates the scintillating story of how a powerful band of Brahmin moral crusaders helped make Boston the most straitlaced city in America, forever linked with the infamous catchphrase “Banned in Boston.”

Bankrolled by society’s upper crust, the New England Watch and Ward Society acted as a quasi-vigilante police force and notorious literary censor for over eighty years. Often going over the heads of local authorities, it orchestrated the mass censorship of books and plays, raided gambling dens and brothels, and utilized spies to entrap prostitutes and their patrons.

Miller deftly traces the growth of the Watch and Ward, from its formation in 1878 to its waning days in the 1950s. During its heyday, the society and its imitators banished modern classics by Hemingway, Faulkner, and Sinclair Lewis and went to war with publishing and literary giants such as Alfred A. Knopf and The Atlantic Monthly. To the chagrin of the Watch and Ward, some writers rode the national wave of publicity that accompanied the banning of their books. Upton Sinclair declared staunchly, “I would rather be banned in Boston than read anywhere else because when you are banned in Boston, you are read everywhere else.” Others faced extinction or tried to barter their way onto bookshelves, like Walt Whitman, who hesitantly removed lines from Leaves of Grass under the watchful eye of the Watch and Ward. As the Great Depression unfolded, the society shifted its focus from bookstores to burlesque, successfully shuttering the Old Howard, the city’s legendary theater that attracted patrons from T. S. Eliot to John F. Kennedy.

Banned in Boston is a lively history and, despite Boston’s “liberal” reputation today, a cautionary tale of the dangers caused by moral crusaders of all stripes.

Kiss Me Deadly, thanks to Good Choice Reading. How excited am I for this one?!

If you can possibly thirst for more mysterious metaphysical accounts of love, Trisha Telep has organized some of the greatest and most thrilling tales of paranormal paramours since The Eternal Kiss. She presents the acclaimed literary talent of thirteen unique authors, creating a collection of stories that will undoubtedly capture the imagination of every soul who dares to read them. Werewolves, ghosts, zombies, vampires, and fallen angels drive the plot of these riveting romances.

Kiss Me Deadly includes the exceptional writings of several authors, including:

• Sarah Rees Brennan (faeries)
• Becca Fitzpatrick (angels)
• Caitlin Kittredge (witches)
• Karen Mahoney (vampires: sequel to story from The Eternal Kiss)
• Daniel Marks (ghost kids)
• Justine Musk (sorcerers)
• Diana Peterfreund (unicorns)
• Michelle Rowen (demons)
• Carrie Ryan (zombies)
• Maggie Stiefvater (werewolves)
• Rachel Vincent (banshees)
• Daniel Waters (zombies)
• Michelle Zink (gothic ghosts)

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Suddenly Sunday

I'm not sure I'm doing this right, but here's my first attempt at Suddenly Sunday.

Today I'm hosting my cousin-in-laws, my wife's 16-year old twin cousins. Right now we're all parked in the living room watching Keeping Up with the Kardashians -- not my normal tv fare but I can't say no to the girls. The wife is baking something from The Pioneer Woman so the day promises to be tasty and sweet-scented.

Book reading has been delayed by the house guests -- but as I love the girls, I don't mind! Plus, I'm going back to work tomorrow so I can catch up on my reading during my commute.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Blog Hop: Following blogs

Book Blogger Hop

Since I've found a few great blogs through the blog hop, I'm 'hopping' this week. The question: how many blogs do you follow?

Erm, so many I can't count. My Google Reader is my daily, primary source for news, pop culture, updates on my friends, etc. And books. I usually filter and focus, depending on how my day goes: books, the Etsy shops I favor, and Hark, A Vagrant.

Anyone stopping by who uses Shelfari -- any tips on getting the widget to actually work?

I'm having my first giveaway! Leave a comment for a chance to win!

Short Fiction Friday

Please leave a comment for a chance to win my copy of For the King!

'Salome danced': Short but powerful. I'm not even sure I liked this story, but it's stuck with me.

A great short story by Tananarive Due, 'Patient Zero'. I'm a sucker for dystopias, especially when there's a virus involved.

And technically, the final offering isn't short fiction, but it's too diverting to be passed up! Blogger Hyaline Prosaic shares an amazing find: a 1945 diary of an American girl, put online by her son, and linked with pictures and trivia of the era. Amazing.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

My first giveaway! For the King - Catherine Delors

Having finished and loved For the King, I thought I'd repay the karma of recent giveaway wins and offer my copy to someone!

If you'd like my copy (hardcover, read once, with only two small dog-ears, sorry!), leave a comment with your email address. I'll pick the winner at random on 8/25.

For the King - Catherine Delors

Title: For the King
Author: Catherine Delors

Genre: Fiction (Historical)

Love/Hate?: Love!
Rating: 5/5
Did I finish?: Couldn't finish fast enough, which was bad, because then the book was over!

One-sentence summary: Police inspector fights conspiracies within police, Paris, personal life.

Why did I get this book?: It was singing my name
Source: I won a copy from Hist-Fic Chick

Do you like the cover?: Yes, although it didn't catch the flavor of the book

First line from book: It had been one of the shortest days of the Year Nine of the Republic, the 3rd of the month of Nivose in the revolutionary calendar.

Did I routinely stay up after midnight to keep reading?: Yes.
Did this book make me wish my commute were longer?: Yes.
Did I nurture a crush on one or more of the characters: Yes. (Roch and Alexandrine, of course!)

Trivia gleaned: Sodomy was decriminalized post Revolution!

Review: I stayed up until about 3am to finish this book because I was dying to find out how things concluded. Delors has written my favorite kind of historical: rich in detail with interesting characters and a detailed plot that is engrossing. I particularly loved the police procedural angle -- I adore all things Napoleonic, but haven't read a novel that was really set with the citizens. Our hero, Roch Miquel, is maddening and dreamy, which felt very real for me: his youth and experience helped and hindered him through his investigation.

Tidbit not relevant to novel but still fun: Author Catherine Delors (@catherinedelors) tweets and she kindly tweeted back with every breathless squee of mine.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Wandering Wednesday

So last week I did my whole meandering-the-internet post on Thursday, but I can't shake the alliteration thing so I'm considering 'Wandering Wednesday'. Hence, links today. Who knows what I'll post tomorrow!

And for a bit of silliness, I couldn't resist this: Sylvia Plath paper doll

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Teaser Tuesday!

Inspired/lured by Should Be Reading, I'm taking part in Teaser Tuesday.

I'm cheating (so soon!) by posting the paragraph. Two sentences isn't enough!

Roch recognized the fragrance of carnation and lily of the valley. Blanche would leave a little perfume bottle open, probably to mask the odor of the room, the mercenary smell of a place where too many had passed and no one lived. Yet Roch forgot about the mixed scents, about the roundish stains on the chairs and the flowery coverlet. He wrapped his arms around Blanche and kissed her greedily. He realized how much he had missed her during those three days since the attack.

From For the King by Catherine Delors. Don't let the quote fool you; it's got some sexy in it, but this book also reads like a thriller. I am in swoons over it.

Monday, August 16, 2010

The Strangely Beautiful Tale of Miss Percy Parker - Leanna Renee Hieber

Title: The Strangely Beautiful Tale of Miss Percy Parker (Strangely Beautiful, #1)
Author: Leanna Renee Hieber

Genre: Fiction (Paranormal/Victoriana)

Love/Hate?: Dislike
Rating: 1/5
Did I finish?: No!

One-sentence summary: Friends of Justice, Victoriana-style, wait around for the The One in order to fight evil.
Tropes: Preternaturally attractive heroine, aggravatingly moody hero

Why did I get this book?: People I like like it!
Source: Public library

Do you like the cover?: Not particularly.

First line from book: The air in London was grey.

Did this book make me wish my commute were longer?: NO.
Did this book require a dictionary?: NO.
Did I want one of the characters to be my BFF?: NO.

Review: I've tried twice to read this book, and on my second attempt, I made it further -- third chapter. But neither time nor more pages made this book any more engaging for me. I found it bland and familiar (in the worst way). Worse, I didn't like any of the characters, least of all the eponymous Miss Percy Parker. To be fair, I hardly got to know her, but from the moment she stepped foot into the scene, I didn't want to.

I wish I had some specifics to offer, but really, I felt myself kind of glazing over with each page -- when I should have been hanging on every word.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Reading Challenge: Support Your Local Library

This is a total no-brainer for me; nearly all the books I read in a year come from my local library. I am so all over this challenge! Hosted by Home Girl's Book Blog.

I'm going to aim for Just My Size – Check out and read 50 library books.

So far, as of 8/2010, I've read 7 books from my local library. (Eeek, I need to catch up!)

  1. Fay Weldon, She May Not Leave (5/5)
  2. Gail Carriger, Soulless (5/5)
  3. A.E. Moorat, Queen Victoria: Demon Hunter (5/5)
  4. Maggie Stiefvater, Shiver (5/5)
  5. Katharine McMahon, The Rose of Sebastopol (5/5)
  6. Julia Cameron, The Writing Diet: Write Yourself Right-Size (2/5)
  7. Gail Carriger, Changeless (3/5)
  8. Jane Austen, Persuasion (4/5)
  9. Karen Essex, Dracula In Love (3.5/5)
  10. Susan Kaye, None But You (5/5)
  11. Susan Kaye, For You Alone (5/5)
  12. Melanie Benjamin, Alice I Have Been (5/5)
  13. Gail Carriger, Blameless (4/5)
  14. Gary Shteyngart, Super Sad True Love Story (4/5)

Saturday Giveaways

Why yes, this is my idea of a hot Saturday night!

  • Win one of three fabulous ARCs from Confessions of a Bookaholic: Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare, Halo by Alexandra Adoretto, or Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Laurie Viera Rigler - Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict

Title: Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict
Author: Laurie Viera Rigler

Genre: Fiction (Historical/Jane Austen)

Love/Hate?: Liked with reservations.
Rating: 3/5
Did you finish?: Yes.

One-sentence summary: Modern-day Courtney wakes up as Regency Jane.

Why did you get this book?: Won it!

Do you like the cover?: Yes -- very pretty.

First line from book: Why is it so dark in here?

Review: In the end, the book was charming enough that I didn't openly hate it, but my friends can attest to my frustration whilst reading it. The writing was great, the research thorough, making it all the more aggravating that our heroine Courtney/Jane was rather awful for most of the book.

To be fair, Rigler does what I require for a character involved in time travel: some real confusion about what happened and how to proceed. But quickly Courtney/Jane's constant -- and rather repetitive -- musings grew tiring, and as an alleged Jane Austen devotee, she seemed pretty oblivious to aspects of Georgian/Regency life that even non-Austen fans know.

While reading this book, I was strongly reminded of Channel 4's Regency House Party, a reality tv show in which contemporary singles had to spend a 'season' living -- and courting -- by Regency rules. The participants responded as one would imagine: the women chafed at the restrictions and only found Regency life charming at moments. Rigler's Courtney/Jane acts the exact same way; unlike the cast of RHP, however, Courtney/Jane knew she wasn't simply play-acting -- and yet she still behaved anachronistically, selfishly, and rather boorishly. Still -- and this is what kept me from hating the book -- in the end Courtney/Jane put on her big girl pants and grew up, and it was both in character and reasonable.

The conclusion was a little too quick and neat for me -- what I found most interesting about the book was Courtney/Jane's interaction with Edgeworth and I wish more time was spent on their courtship and less on Courtney/Jane's endless ruminations on her ex-fiance Frank. Given that Courtney's LA friends show up in the sequel, I think I'm going to pass on it -- her friend Wes seems so slimy I don't care how much the author tells me we should secretly like him.

Short Fiction Friday

This week's short fiction suggestions are wildly different -- no theme jumped out at me!

From The New Yorker is Karen Russell's "The Dredgeman's Revelation". I tend not to be a fan of the kind of stories featured in The New Yorker but Karen Russell was one of the handful of women on their 20 Under 40 series and I had decided to read all the women at least. This story was a winner for me. I've a little crush on Louis Thanksgiving Auschenbliss.

One of the Children’s Aid nuns came in to retrieve the newborn orphan, and Louis lost his true past in a few squeaks of her nun shoes on the linoleum. Carrying him away, leaving that widening blank of a woman behind him, this wimpled stranger wound the clock of Louis’s life. The nun (who sometimes dreamed she was a man in advertising, writing copy for Hollywood movies) tucked a paper with a short description of his delivery into his blanket, thinking that this might help him to be adopted by a Christian family: MISLABELLED STILLBORN MIRACLE BABY ALIVE PRAISE GOD FOR LOUIS, THANKSGIVING!

Somewhere down the line, the nun’s purple comma got smudged and then Louis had a surname.

From A Twist of Noir comes yet another deliciously dark piece of noir, Copper Smith's "We Can't Dance Together". Almost all the stories posted are winners, I think, but then there are standouts like this one.

We’ve got nothing in common. She’s young enough to be my daughter. The names that mean everything to me – Aretha Franklin, Al Green, Otis Redding – are, to her, ancient history, ghosts of hit parades past. And I call her Nineteen because I don’t even know her name.

Apart from that she’s perfect. Because she calls me every night at exactly three minutes to midnight – about an hour into my late night shift at WSOL – and we swap secrets in the dark like lonely co-conspirators.

And while not short fiction, I have to give a shout out to Poetry Foundation's special Ramadan section, Poems of Muslim Faith and Islamic Culture. There are more than just poems there, too: blog posts, podcasts, and short essays.

From "Different Ways to Pray" by Naomi Shihab Nye:

While for certain cousins and grandmothers
the pilgrimage occurred daily,
lugging water from the spring
or balancing the baskets of grapes.
These were the ones present at births,
humming quietly to perspiring mothers.
The ones stitching intricate needlework into children’s dresses,
forgetting how easily children soil clothes.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Thursday: Meanderings

Forget alliteration; I'm going to just think of other clever ways to describe my 'theme' posts. So, Thursday will have Meanderings -- links to lead us around the internet...or something like that.

Thursday Giveaways

I've a bit of a cold so the idea of winning freebies perked me up a little!

  • Win an $80 Gift Card from CSN Furniture! from Butterfly Book Reviews
  • Also from Butterfly Book Reviews, win a copy of Almost to Die For by Tate Hallaway
  • A copy of The Body Finder at Liz Writes

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Gail Carriger - Changeless

Title: Changeless
Author: Gail Carriger

Genre: Fiction (Paranormal romance)

Love/Hate?: Sentimental like.
Rating: 3/5
Did you finish?: Yes -- I was dying to get to the dénouement!

One-sentence summary: Alexia Tarabotti wrangles her husband's former pack and solves a mystery.

Why did you get this book?: Sequel to Soulless

Do you like the cover?: Eh.

First line from book: "They are what?"

Review: Maybe I should sit on this a little, since I finished this book literally twenty minutes ago. There's a cliff hanger at the end which I hate, only because my mancrush Conall responds in a way that feels (to me) a bit out of character. I feel awfully curmudgeon-y for this review: while the book was witty and droll, it also felt a little off for me. I disliked the new characters -- Madame Lefoux, Lady Kingair -- and was pretty annoyed with the returning ones -- Ivy and Angelique. The only thing that kept me happy was Alexia and Conall, so it felt like a big slap when I hit the end!

I'll revisit this review in a month or two -- we'll see what sticks. I'm pretty sure I'll still be annoyed by the sapphic thing that was going on but maybe I'll feel less hostile about everything else.

Jane Austen is My Homegirl Reading Challenge

The title is obvious, but for clarity: read as many Austen inspired and Austen spin off books as you can before the challenge ends at the end of July, 2011.


I had to join since I just got my copy of Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict -- clearly, fate wants me to!


  1. Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict, Laurie Viera Rigler
  2. Persuasion, Jane Austen
  3. None But You, Susan Kaye
  4. For You Alone, Susan Kaye

Literary Mashups and then some

At The Qwillery, there is a fantastic article about the rash of horror/supernatural literature influenced by classic literature. Qwill breaks them up into three categories, which is helpful, as I do find one vein of the trend more appealing than others (the 'twisted history' trend). But even though I'm not wild about the mashup trend, I still drooled a little at the nice catalog of books Qwill put together -- I always need more books to add to my TBR.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Mailbag Monday

OMG, I finally have my first mailbag Monday! Today, thanks to My Jane Austen Book Club, I got my copy of Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict.

I just have to finish up Blameless and then I think I'm going to dive into it. I'm slightly nervous -- I wasn't wild about By a Lady: Being the Adventures of an Enlightened American in Jane Austen's England by Amanda Elyot and the premise seems very similar. At least in CJAA, Jane Austen only makes a cameo; in BAL, she became the heroine's BFF, which was a bit much for me.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Sunday Giveaways

More giveaways (it's crazy awesome how many there are!):

Friday, August 6, 2010

Fiction Friday

Some great short fiction found online (not necessarily new, though it was new to me!). The first story cracked me up and made me snicker on the subway; the second story was a poignant twist that stuck with me; and the third is by one of my newest favorite authors, featuring her trademark ability to make me fall in love in under 100 words.

From A Twist of Noir, 'Things To Do In Deptford When You're Dead' by Paul D. Brazill.

The trouble with me is that I never realise how deep in the shit I am until I’m choking on the stuff.

Take last summer, for example. It started, as usual, in a pub and ended up, as always, in a graveyard. But that wasn’t the problem.

You see, I’m a professional killer. A hit man. Twenty years in the business, man and boy. Booze and bullets and bodies are all par for the course in my game. But it was a bird that landed me in it. And not just any bird, mind you. It was the boss’s bird.

From Cabinet Des Fées, 'In Defense of a Queen' by Donna Quattrone.

Fire makes its own kind of music.

My toes start to tingle as the strains of a nearby waltz mix with the crackle of the flames. Warmth. Music. Joy. I’ve known them all. Indeed, I’ve known many pleasures, though I’ve never felt the quickening of conception. I’ve seen sweet loving under soft, thick quilts drain the tension from the face of the most important man in the kingdom and I’ve witnessed the burden that returns there each dawn. I’ve seen these things because I am queen to that king. When I married my husband, I also adopted his daughter, Snow, and I vowed to love her as if she were my own. What I will be remembered for is the gifts that I gave this child. A woman’s simple things, they were: a carved bone comb and some ribbons. The gifts were meant to be reminders, tokens of the feminine that I’d feared she forgotten. The apple… well, that was something else entirely; an indulgence of an old woman’s nostalgia and nostalgia, as they say, is lost on the young. But that, my friend, comes at the end of the story, not the beginning.

From Merry Sisters of Fate, 'Under Wraps' by Maggie Stiefvater.

HER: I am in love with the man who makes carousel horses.

He has a workshop on the way out of town, the side that leads toward farmland and then fields and then pretty much nothing for two hundred miles. The carousel workshop used to be an old pig barn, my daddy told me once, but somewhere along the way someone gutted it. Knocked down all the interior partitions and scraped out all the straw and dirt and crap down to bare earth and then laid big, wide pieces of hardwood in the place of the pig muck. Daddy said it was damn near insane to gut an old red barn like that when you could just build something new. Said it was a lot of work, whoever did it.

I think the man who makes the carousel horses did it. I’ve seen him, standing thoughtfully in line at the Super Fresh, quiet like he’s always quiet, and I think that he looks like the sort of man who has the patience to turn a pig barn into something pretty. There are a lot of rumors about him and that workshop, here in town. That there is more to him and his horses than meets the eye.

Friday: Giveaways

A round-up of lovely giveaways!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Theme posts? Thursday's experiment

Is it too cutesy to have 'theme' posts on certain days of the week? I kind of like it when I see other blogs doing it. Of course, I don't have a snappy title for today, but I was thinking of sharing links I liked. So Ttttttttttlinky Thursday?

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

The Writing Diet - Julia Cameron

Title: The Writing Diet: Write Yourself Right-Size
Author: Julia Cameron

Genre: Non-Fiction (Self Help)

Love/Hate?: Haaaaaaaaaaaaaate
Rating: 2/5
Did you finish?: Yes, with great effort

One-sentence summary: Cameron cobbles her creative writing shtick with more AA principles and other peoples' dieting tips

Why did you get this book?: I saw it at the library and felt v bitchy

Do you like the cover?: Despite myself, yes!

First line from book: I'm a creativity expert, not a diet expert.

Review: I have to confess I only picked up this book so I could shiver gleefully at the horrifying way Julia Cameron has continued to shill her particular brand of writing how-to. As I ended up having to admit mid-read, this book isn't nearly as hideous as I had anticipated -- and it might, for some, even be helpful.

Having become an amateur competitor in the world of weight loss, I'm familiar with many of the techniques Cameron proposes, and they come from reputable sources I like and admire, like WeightWatchers and Geneen Roth. She mixes her exercises -- particularly the Morning Pages and self dates -- with the mindfulness practices seen in successful diet plans, most notably keeping track of what one eats, and learning to honor when one is hungry versus searching for something emotionally.

The technique doesn't seem very harmful although I find Cameron's tone insufferable: she constantly crows about how effective her writing program is for weight loss, although she has nothing but her own anecdotal observations to back it up. ('X came to my workshop and by the end weighed less!' is the typical evidence Cameron offers.)

In the end, it wasn't the train wreck I wanted it to be, and many might actually find it helpful in their weight loss endeavors.