Showing posts from May, 2011

Queen by Right by Anne Easter Smith

Title:Queen By Right
Author: Anne Easter Smith

Genre: Fiction (Historical / English / Medieval)
Publisher/Publication Date: Touchstone (5/3/11)
Source:Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours

Rating: Liked.
Did I finish?: Yes!
One-sentence summary: The life of a young noblewoman who witnesses some of the most tumultuous events in medieval Europe, from Jeanne d'Arc to court intrigue around Henry VI to her own family's claim to the English throne.
Reading Challenges:British Books, Historical Fiction

Do I like the cover?: Yes.  While it does have the 'chopped head' figure so common on historical novel covers, the layout is interesting and enjoyably accurate to the novel!  The castle featured is Raby Castle, where the heroine Cecily was born, and the falcon on the woman's arm refers directly to a handful of scenes from the novel. 

I'm reminded of...: Margaret George, Anya Seton, Alison Weir

First line: A scream pierced Cecily's dreamless sleep.

Did... I find the wealth…

Mailbox Monday, May 30

Seen both at The Printed Page (hosted in May at MariReads) and The Story Siren, my Mailbox Monday/In My Mailbox.  What did you get?  Planning to read any of these?

For Review

The Seven Year Bitch by Jennifer Belle
The Kitchen Shrink by Dee DeTarsio Centuries of June by Keith Donohue Before Versailles by Karleen Koen The Girl in the Garden by Kamala Nair

Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen & The Circus Fire: A True Story of an American Tragedy by Stewart O'Nan, thanks to The Maiden's Court


My giveaway for Sarah Addison Allen's The Peach Keeper had the highest number of entries since I've started blogging, I think. It was a treat meeting other Allen fans and introducing new readers to her.

The winner of The Peach Keeper is... Melissa of Confessions of an Avid Reader!

I still have three open giveaways if you haven't entered yet!

Armchair BEA Interview with Bethany of Subtle Melodrama

I have had such a blast with Armchair BEA this week, especially meeting and connecting with other amazing bloggers.  I missed out on posting my last interview on Wednesday, so I'm doing it today because I think everyone else should get to know Bethany of Subtle Melodrama as well!  You can check out her Armchair BEA intro or just keep reading to learn more about this great blogger!

What's your favorite article of clothing?
I love wearing vintage dresses, and I've got a few that I absolutely love. I have an 80s prom dress with a big tulle skirt that I love, but rarely get the chance to wear!

What was the oddest/weirdest/most fabulous thing you wanted to do 'when you grew up'?
Ninja Princess Space Cowboy Bounty Hunter. I'm working on it.

According to your bio, you hate marzipan. Did you have a tragic marzipan incident in your life?
Hmm. I don't think so. My mum loves marzipan, and I suspect I probably discovered that I hated it when I tried her otherwise-delicio…

Don't Breathe a Word by Jennifer McMahon

Title:Don't Breathe a Word
Author: Jennifer McMahon

Genre: Fiction (Literary Thriller / Supernatural / Vermont)
Publisher/Publication Date: Harper Paperbacks (May 17, 2011)
Source:TLC Book Tours

Rating: Liked a whole lot.  Almost love. 
Did I finish?: You couldn't have stopped me if you tried.
One-sentence summary: Childhood fantasy and adult reality collide when a woman and her boyfriend are led to believe they'll be reunited with his sister who disappeared as a child fifteen years ago.
Reading Challenges: None.

Do I like the cover?: YES! How creepy is it?! It's so perfect for the story and is super eye-catching.

I'm reminded of...: Sarah Dunant, Carol Goodman, Mary Robinette Kowal, Shirley Jackson

First line: Hotter than hot, no air-conditioning, sweat pouring down in rivers, the Magic Fingers motel bed vibrating beneath her, Mr. Ice Cream doing his thing above.

Did... I actually have problems going to sleep while reading this? YES. The creepy factor is amazing. B…

Q&A with Anne Easter Smith

Over the last week or so I've been engrossed in Anne Easter Smith's newest historical novel, Queen By Right, and so am very excited to share my Q&A with the author.  Read on to learn a little about her, her writing process, and the book -- and don't forget to enter the giveaway!

What was the plot of your very first piece of fiction?

Great question Audra, and the first anyone has asked me that. I am embarrassed to say I tried writing a Georgette Heyer book of my own when I was 19 and going back and forth on the train to work in London from my home in Surrey. I got nine chapters in and then could not make up my mind where I was going with the story -- bland and romantic or gothic and melodramatic! So I quit. Next time I attempted a book was in my 50s when I wrote “A Rose for the Crown,” my first novel (and I thought my only) about the York family in the Wars of the Roses.

Do you have any writing rituals or routines?

I like to do exercise and chores in the morning, have a q…

Armchair BEA Interview with Teresa of Teresa's Reading Corner

I'm so excited to share my Armchair BEA interview with Teresa of Teresa's Reading Corner, a blogger I've read for a quite a while and like greatly.  You can learn a little more about Teresa by reading her Armchair BEA intro, or just read on!

What's your favorite article of clothing? 
My favorite is probably my Lucky Brand Easy Rider Jeans. They are so comfortable and still look polished.

What was the oddest/weirdest/most fabulous thing you wanted to do 'when you grew up'?
Hmmm that is a really tough question, especially since I haven't grown up yet. I'd say that the most fabulous thing I've done as an adult is moving to Colorado. I love it here and am so glad that I did it.

According to your bio, you 'dabble' in cooking. What's your favorite thing to cook?
I try a lot of odd things. One of my biggest battles is finding the perfect pulled pork recipe. I came close with a green chile pulled pork that was fantastic for burritos. It wa…

Armchair BEA interview with Cait of The Cait Files

I've had the pleasure of getting to meet Cait of The Cait Files, a new-to-me-blogger, thanks to Armchair BEA, and I'm thrilled to introduce her to my readers!  To learn a little about Cait, check out her Armchair BEA intro and read on!

If you're comfortable with it, would you share with us what you're studying at university?
I study philosophy! Actually, I finished it, I'm just doing my final exams now =/

What's your favorite article of clothing?
Gahh hard one. Hmm. I love a lot of my clothes! Okay, I have 3, that'll have to do I'm afraid...I have a hat shaped like a mouse which my bf bought my for christmas! It's soooo cute. Erm then there's the dress he bought me for Christmas which is a really nice bronze colour with long floaty sleeves and a lace bodice. and finally my blue blazer with elbow patches-I love that!

What was the oddest/weirdest/most fabulous thing you wanted to do 'when you grew up'?
Omg I've wanted to be everything. T…

Author Reading: Emma Donoghue, May 23

If it's not super apparent from the photo, I was seriously over-the-moon about seeing Emma Donoghue.  Hosted at the Harvard Book Store in Cambridge (which, despite it's name, is not affiliated with the university -- that'd be the Co-op), the reading was a packed, intimate event.  I was maybe four feet away from the woman herself.

And it was awesome.

I've never been to an author reading before, so I had no idea what to expect.  I've been a fan of Emma Donoghue since I was 18 when I discovered Hood (that's the original copy I bought in college on the table!).  Since then, I've read and loved every book of hers -- but I haven't read Room and based on the description, I wasn't planning to...but ohemgee, did my mind change after seeing Ms. Donoghue!

Even though she had a bit of a scratchy throat, it was a delight listening to her.  She has a fabulous accent and is so real and personable.  The reading was really more of a Q&A -- she opened by reading …

Teaser Tuesday, May 24

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

- Grab your current read & open to a random page
- Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page (be careful not to include spoilers!)
- Share the title and author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers
This week's teaser is from Jennifer McMahon's Don't Breathe a Word, which I'm enjoying -- mostly.  (Phoebe, the heroine, and I are a bit at odds about her behavior.)  Thankfully, the other characters -- there's about five who are pretty central to the story -- are fascinating and complicated and engaging enough that I can sort of ignore Phoebe when she annoys me.

Picking a teaser that wasn't a spoiler was remarkably challenging!  So many tidbits get revealed with each page, which builds tension deliciously but makes for difficult quoting.  Still, I think I found a pa…

Armchair BEA, May 23 - Who am I

This year was too soon to try to attend the real world BEA and Book Blogger Con in New York City, which made me sad, so I was ecstatic to see an armchair variation.  Today's daily topic is Who are you, and how do you armchair?  This might be too cutesy or a total failure, but I'm going to try to do that with my standard review template!

Title: Unabridged Chick
Author: Audra

Genre: I prefer fiction to non-fiction, although I do enjoy a lovely biography or memoir now and then.
Publisher/Publication Date: I began blogging at Blogger/Blogspot in January 2010.

Rating: Five million stars because I'm awesome??? ETA: Maybe I should acknowledge that I'm not a 'clean reads' person or anything like that.  I try to indicate in reviews if books are particularly risque or very mild but personally I don't mind a little sex in my fiction.
Did I finish?:  No, but I haven't quit yet either, so that's pretty fun!

One-sentence summary:I'm a 30-something married lesbian …

Mailbox Monday, May 23

Seen both at The Printed Page (hosted in May at MariReads) and The Story Siren, my Mailbox Monday/In My Mailbox.  What did you get?  Planning to read any of these?

For Review

Jerusalem Maiden: A Novel by Talia Carner
Reign of Madness by Lynn Cullen
Next to Love by Ellen Feldman
The White Woman on the Green Bicycle by Monique Roffey
The Hypnotist (The Reincarnationist #3) by M.J. Rose


The Insider by Reece Hirsch - thanks to GoodReads First Reads


Carnal Machines: Steampunk Erotica, edited by D.L. King - thanks to Teresa at Read All Over Reviews
Collective Visioning: How Groups Can Work Together for a Just and Sustainable Future by Linda Stout


Two giveaways ended yesterday, so without further wait, here are the winners!

The winner of Island Beneath the Sea is ... SusieBookworm!

And the winner of The Rebellion of Jane Clarke is ... The Missive Maven!

A quick note: in the last few giveaways folks haven't been leaving an email address -- which is fine if your blogger profile includes that info.  But today I actually had to draw four times to get two winners, as twice the chosen winner had a private blogger profile or a profile lacking an email address. 

So....if you decide to enter one of my open giveaways, please be sure I can contact you if you win!

Apex Magazine - January 2011 (Issue 20)

Title: Apex Magazine - January 2011 (Issue 20)
Author: Catherynne M. Valente (Editor)

Genre: Fiction (Short Fiction/Sci-Fi/Speculative)
Source: Purchased

Rating: Liked!
Did I finish?: Yes! Savored it over a few days.

Do I like the cover?: Ish -- I'm not sure how it ties into this issue, but it's very cool looking.

I'm reminded of...: Nicola Griffith, Elizabeth Hand

First line: Point of Infection +61 Days. I suppose there are things one can only learn through experience; the fever is coming on faster than I had expected, making it difficult to organize my thoughts. -- from "The Tolling of Pavlov's Bells" by Seanan McGuire

Buy, Borrow, or Avoid?: Buy if you can -- issues are $2.99 but a subscription is $19.95 for twelve meaty issues.  A favorite purchase already!

Review: I tried out Apex Magazine last year with a few sample issues and was immediately hooked; nearly a year later, I find the same sharp storytelling in each issue that makes my subscription tot…

When We Danced on Water by Evan Fallenberg

Title:When We Danced on Water
Author: Evan Fallenberg

Genre: Fiction (Israeli / Contemporary / Historical - WWII)
Publisher/Publication Date: Harper Perennial (6/2011)
Source:TLC Book Tours

Rating: Liked immensely. Intensely.
Did I finish?: YES, in less than one day - Monday morning to Monday night.
One-sentence summary: Teo, an eighty-five year old ballet dancer, is inspired to find passion - and some lost memories of his youth - upon meeting a lovely 40-year waitress in Tel Aviv.
Reading Challenges:Eastern European, Historical Fiction

Do I like the cover?: Yes - it has this bittersweet feel that is very reminiscent of the novel's tone and matches one of the key settings of the story.

I'm reminded of...: Michael Ondaatje

First line: He said, "Where's Rona."

Do... I think this book would be perfect for book groups?: YES. It's slim and a quick, beautiful read, but covers great topics like obsession versus passion, commitment to art, and the thin line between public/pr…

Teaser Tuesday, May 17

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

- Grab your current read & open to a random page
- Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page (be careful not to include spoilers!)
- Share the title and author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers

This week's teaser is from When We Danced on Water by Evan Fallenberg.  I started this book Monday morning and finished it late Monday night -- it was marvelous.  I really want to gush about it right now but as I'm posting my review tomorrow, I'm going to restrain myself.

Picking a teaser was tortuously hard: the writing is simple but lovely, and the two main characters so charming and fascinating.  Still, I managed to settle on one lovely passage, early on, when Teo, the 85-year old retired ballet dancer and choreographer, is revisiting his memories, most of which revolve aroun…

Lily of the Nile by Stephanie Dray

Title:Lily of the Nile: A Novel of Cleopatra's Daughter
Author: Stephanie Dray

Genre: Fiction (Historical - Ancient Egypt/Rome - Magical Historical)
Publisher/Publication Date: Berkley (1/4/2011)
Source: Won from the author

Rating: Liked so very, very much. I'm desperate for the sequel.
Did I finish?: Oh yes -- inhaled this book.
One-sentence summary: The trials, tortures, and triumphs of Selene, daughter of Cleopatra and Mark Anthony.
Reading Challenges:Historical Fiction

Do I like the cover?: Yes -- super pretty -- although I would have rather it be set in Rome since most of the book takes place there.

I'm reminded of...: Marion Zimmer Bradley, Clysta Kinstler, Libba Bray

First line: They came from Memphis, Thebes, and Heliopolis to see the Savior born.

Do... I think book groups and those who like gripping vacation reads will enjoy this book?: YES. There's enough meat (history, politics, religion, treatment of women/prisoners) to allow a book group some great conversati…

Winner of The Paper Garden

And the winner of The Paper Garden: An Artist Begins Her Life's Work at 72 is ...  Amy of The House of the Seven Tails!   Congrats!
I've still got three open giveaways if you didn't win and more coming!

Blogger Doom, and Giveaway extended

As I'm sure many of you know, Blogger was down for about 20 hours or so and blogs were rolled back to Wednesday.  Some of you might see my Thursday review again -- sorry for the duplicate posts!  Since my blog was down most of Thursday, I'm extending my giveaway of Molly Peacock's The Paper Garden until midnight tonight (or, when I wake up Sunday morning).  So comment away if you haven't already!

ETA: Some folks have noticed that their comments from Wednesday 'didn't take' so if you commented on one of my giveaways Wednesday, you should check to ensure the comment is there!

Hotel Angeline by Various

Title:Hotel Angeline: A Novel in 36 Voices
Author: Jennie Shortridge & Garth Stein, editor/organizer

Genre: Fiction (Contemporary / Pacific Northwest / Collaborative)
Publisher/Publication Date: Open Road (5/3/2011)

Rating: Okay-ish to interesting.
Did I finish?: Unfortunately, no.
One-sentence summary: Fourteen year old Alexis deals with the challenges of running a residential hotel, dodging police, and her real estate-hungry uncle.
Reading Challenges:E-books

Do I like the cover?: Oh yes -- it's so quirky and interesting, very eye-catching.

First line: Halfway up the basement steps of the Hotel Angeline, laden with a heavy stack of industrial sheets and towels, Alexis Austen was beginning to think she'd taken on too heavy a load.

Why did I get this book?: The setup -- Thirty-six of the most interesting writers in the Pacific Northwest came together for a week-long marathon of writing live on stage -- seemed too cool to resist.

Review:  Unfortunately, …

The Peach Keeper by Sarah Addison Allen

Title:The Peach Keeper
Author: Sarah Addison Allen

Genre: Fiction (Contemporary / Southern)
Publisher/Publication Date: Bantam (3/22/2011)
Source:TLC Book Tours

Rating: Liked a great deal!
Did I finish?: Yes, in a day!
One-sentence summary: Two women from a small town in North Carolina discover that they share more secrets, connections, and mysteries than simply their high school past.

Do I like the cover?: Yes --it's super pretty and quite romantic.

I'm reminded of...: Maeve Binchy, Diana Abu-Jaber, Sena Jeter Naslund

First line: The day Paxton Osgood took the box of heavy-stock, foil-lined envelopes to the post office, the ones she'd had a professional calligrapher address, it began to rain so hard the air turned as white as bleached cotton.

Did... I have an impossible time limiting myself to one excerpt for my Teaser Tuesday clip?: YES.  The writing is just such fun.  Easy to read, but with some lovely imagery and a great deal of good humor.  It was exactly what I needed duri…

Teaser Tuesday, May 10

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

- Grab your current read & open to a random page
- Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page (be careful not to include spoilers!)
- Share the title and author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers

My teaser this week comes from The Peach Keeper by Sarah Addison Allen.  My review copy came with one of the Yankee Candle limited edition votives so everything was nice and peach-y scented.  This is my first time reading Sarah Addison Allen but I know many people who get swoon-y over her -- and now I know why!  I'm so loving this novel: the characters are charming and the set up is engaging and the dreamy, slightly magical plot line is otherworldly and believable.  Picking a teaser was a challenge, but I decided to go with this small snippet from the beginning of the book, in which our…

In My Mailbox Monday, May 9

Seen both at The Printed Page (hosted in May at MariReads) and The Story Siren, my Mailbox Monday/In My Mailbox (technically Sunday).  What did you get?  Planning to read any of these?

For Review

When We Danced On Water by Evan Fallenberg
Ashes of the Earth by Eliot Pattison


Three pack of Lois Duncan re-issues -- Down a Dark Hall, Stranger With My Face, Summer of Fear -- thanks to the Abbott Gran Medicine Show
The Bird Sisters by Rebecca Rasmussen, thanks to Read It Forward


Berlin Noir by Philip KerrThe One From the Other by Philip KerrA Quiet Flame by Philip Kerr
The Secret History of Moscow by Ekaterina Sedia

I went uncharacteristically nuts on this: I got March Violets from the library which my wife started and loved.  So I decided to get the first three books as a surprise and then found all five for cheap and, well, am totally the heroine for the month!