Showing posts from June, 2011

The Art of Forgetting by Camille Noe Pagan

Title:The Art of Forgetting
Author: Camille Noe Pagán

Genre: Fiction (Contemporary / Friendship / New York City)
Publisher/Publication Date: Dutton (6/9/2011)
Source:TLC Book Tours

Rating: Okay to meh.
Did I finish?: Yes, in three hours at the pool.
One-sentence summary: Hallmark-y novel about two friends rebuilding their friendship after an accident changes one friend's personality and eradicates her memories.
Reading Challenges: None.

Do I like the cover?: It's pretty, and the image relates to one of the characters. I quite love the fonts used for the title and author's name.

First line: There is only one way to boost your metabolism: exercise.

Does... this novel feel like a Hallmark-movie-meets-an-after school-special?: YES. It's very wholesome and topically complicated with a very heartwarming conclusion.

Did... I feel decidedly unhealthy while reading this book?: YES. Between the heroine's participation in a running organization and her knowledge of diets, I felt a …

Seven Year Bitch by Jennifer Belle

Title:Seven Year Bitch
Author: Jennifer Belle

Genre: Fiction (Contemporary / Marriage & Parenting / New York City)
Publisher/Publication Date: Riverhead Trade (5/3/2011)
Source:TLC Book Tours

Rating: To my great surprise, I actually liked it (when I wasn't hating on it).
Did I finish?: Yes - very easy to read and get in to.
One-sentence summary: Late '90s-era chick lit heroine is now nearly 40, married and has a kid, but of course it's never happily ever after.
Reading Challenges: None!

Do I like the cover?: Eh -- it matches the hardcover version, so I suppose that's nice, but I'm not wild about it.  I'm grateful, at least, it doesn't feature shoes, a super feminine font, those curlicue-style cartoon women, or a metric ton of pink.

First line: As I walked along Waverly Place to meet my friend Joy for dinner, I saw a girl in her twenties leisurely crossing the street, and something about her brought that whole decade of my life back to me.

Were...the passages on h…

Winners of The Blighted Troth

A little late (sorry!), here are the winners of the amazing The Blighted Troth giveaway!

The signed paperback goes to ... Heather of The Maiden's Court!

E-books go to ... lag123, Margaret, and Alison of The Musings of a Book Junkie

For those who didn't win, I still have four giveaways open (including two for international folks) and more opening later this week!

Quick hello and a question for readers

Thanks, friends, for all the comments while I've been gone -- it's been a wonderful treat to see comments pop up while I'm racing between workshops, exhibits, and receptions!

So far, I haven't seen much of Charlotte other than the two-blocks surrounding the convention center. Such is life.  But I did have a fantastic culinary adventure my first night, and sit down because you're going to be shocked: it wasn't Carolina-style BBQ!  (I think that might be a sin.)  Randomly, we found this staggeringly awesome Swedish restaurant!

I know it's not an impressive looking dish BUT it was amazingly delicious.  Swedish meatballs (far more romantically called Kottbullar on the menu, if I recall correctly) with this melange of cider (alcoholic!) soaked apples, some cabbage, potatoes, and...other stuff.  I forget, but it was tasty, and with $2 beers (how badly I miss happy hour.  Boston, I love you, but less blue laws, please!), it was a fabulous night for my wife and I.

Interview with Janet Mullany

Earlier this month I read and loved loved Janet Mullany's hilarious and sexy Regency Mr Bishop and the Actress.  I'm excited to share my interview with Ms. Mullany about her novel and her writing.  Read on and don't forget to enter to win a copy of Mr Bishop and the Actress!

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

I think it was a plagiarized version of Black Beauty (Anna Sewell) but I got bored and couldn't figure out what was going to happen next. Astonishingly, that's how I still write (other than first person horse narratives and, I hope, the plagiarizing).

Was Mr Bishop and the Actress the original title of your book?

Yes. The title came first before I even knew what the book was about. It's a variant on the English joke where you add "as the actress said to the bishop" to any innocuous statement to make it sound filthy. It's the equivalent of adding "in bed" to a fortune cookie motto. (Go on. Try it, as the actress sai…

Teaser Tuesday, June 21

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
I'm having all kinds of mixed feelings about this book, which is fun since I think it topically passes for chick lit (even if the heroine is no longer a late 20-something).  It's a mix of marriage/motherhood angst and heroine-takes-on-quirky-job-and-learns-about-herself etc.  At times, it infuriates me, and at other times, delights me.  Picking a teaser was tough because this book also has two different feels at times.  I finally picked this bit, from early on, which is typical of Belle's 'Bad Mommy' wryness.

I loved Duncan and I loved being his mother but I wasn't su…

On the road!

For the next ten days I'll be out of town, working a work conference in Charlotte, NC.  I've got some content in the queue but probably won't be able to visit and comment as much -- I'm very sorry!  I'll be back home during the 4th of July holiday weekend, and I'll catch up then.  In the meantime, if anyone can recommend fabulous things to do (places to eat, etc.) in Charlotte (or Raleigh), let me know!

In My Mailbox Monday, June 20

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

For Review

The Lake by Banana Yoshimoto

The Map of True Places by Brunonia Barry, thanks to Lip Gloss and Literature The Companion of Lady Holmeshire by Debra Brown, thanks to Historical Fiction Connection The Alienist by Caleb Carr, thanks to Books as Portable Pieces of Thought
The Daughter of Siena by Marina Fiorato, thanks to LibraryThing
The Sandalwood Tree by Elle Newmark, thanks to Goldberg McDuffie

Lot's Return to Sodom by Sandra Brannan The Janissary Tree by Jason Goodwin Désirée by Annemarie Selinko

Friday Follow, June 17

Inspired by the Twitter meme (#ff), I'm doing my own monthly Friday Follow.  Below are some blogs I enjoy following and I think you might enjoy following as well!  Check out my recommendations for May, and read on for this month's group.  If you have any recommendations, do share!

.bibliophile. .anonymous.: Jessie and her blog are a new find for me but I just love her voice and her friendly warmth.  Reading her is like dishing books with a close friend (check out her reviews of The Tea Rose and The Winter Rose for a taste; these reviews had me snortling with delight!). Jessie has a lovely meme of her own, Blog Watch Wednesday, in which she shouts out the blogs she likes and it's that open interest in connecting with passionate readers like herself that makes her a delight to read and chat with.

Burton Book Review: If you are a historical fiction fan, you must check out Marie's blog.  One of the first blogs I read regularly, I was immediately captivated by the quality of …

Mr. Bishop and the Actress by Janet Mullany

Title:Mr. Bishop and the Actress
Author: Janet Mullany

Genre: Fiction (Historical / Regency)
Publisher/Publication Date: Little Black Dress (3/3/2011)
Source: Won from Risky Regencies

Rating: Loved.
Did I finish?: Yes, and I even reread the last few chapters to revisit the awesome.
One-sentence summary: Proper Mr Bishop meets the decidedly improper Sophie Wallace and both pretend sparks aren't flying as they deal with family, troupes of actors, a wayward ward, and other obstacles in this Regency romp.
Reading Challenges:British Books, Historical Fiction

Do I like the cover?: Yes -- it's cute and fun (and matches her otherbooks so adorably!)

I'm reminded of...: I'm not sure I've read another author like her!

First line: Sophie clung to the ladder, her face a pale oval in the dark as she looked up at the two girls peering out of the window.

Did... my wife kick me out of bed because I kept her up with my loud laughing, snickering, and chortling?: YES.  I was banned from readi…

Room by Emma Donoghue

Author: Emma Donoghue

Genre: Fiction (Contemporary)
Publisher/Publication Date: Little, Brown and Company (9/13/2010)
Source: My public library

Rating: Liked, much to my surprise!
Did I finish?: Yes, in very nearly record time (three hours).
One-sentence summary: Five-year old Jack recounts life in 'Room', a 12 by 12 shed where he is imprisoned with his mother.
Reading Challenges:British Books

Do I like the cover?: Yes, although it sort of has a Bad Seed/murderous child feel to it; I vastly prefer the Picador paperback version.

First line: Today I'm five.

Did... I slightly go nuts with toddler overload near the start of the novel?: YES.  Jack's a very toddler-y toddler and for about two minutes, I thought I wouldn't be able to finish the novel, I was so aggravated with the kid!  (Good mom, I am not.)

Did... I often hold my breath during scenes because I was racing through them?: YES.  Some, out of horror (be over, be over!) and some because they were so exciting.

Interview with Talia Carner

I recently finished Talia Carner's incredibly moving novel Jerusalem Maiden and so enjoyed it.  I'm excited to share my interview with Ms. Carner about this book and herself.  Please read on -- there's another chance to enter to win a copy of Jerusalem Maiden.

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

The very first time I sat down to write fiction in late 1993, I ended up with a 640-page manuscript. After much revising and honing the craft on this virgin effort, it turned out to be Matryoshka Girl, an unpublished novel (but still good IMHO) set in Russia after the fall of Communism. It deals with valiant Russian women’s struggling for economic independence against the mafia. I have since learned about myself that I don’t think in the short-fiction format but rather in multi-layered, elaborate story lines on large canvases featuring strong female protagonists against powerful, seemingly unbeatable antagonists.

Do you have any writing rituals or routines?

With my…

The Hypnotist by M.J. Rose

Title:The Hypnotist
Author: M.J. Rose

Genre: Fiction (Contemporary / Historical / Paranormal)
Publisher/Publication Date: Mira (4/19/2011)
Source:TLC Book Tours

Rating: Okay.
Did I finish?: Yes.
One-sentence summary: A statue with immense possibilities is the catalyst for theft, murder, revenge, hope, and love.
Reading Challenges:E-books

Do I like the cover?: Eh -- it's got that ambigu-thriller thing going on but I would have liked something that referenced the iconic elements of the novel.

I'm reminded of...: Paulo Coelho, Michael Crichton

First line: Time played tricks on him whenever he stood in front of the easel.

Did... I easily get into this book despite it being the third in the series?: YES. The common thread is the search for historical items to enable easy access to one's past lives, and Rose references events from the previous two novels well enough that I didn't feel lost in the slightest.

Did... I totally desperately want to see the art and exhibits Rose describes?:…

In My Mailbox Monday, June 12

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

For Review

Miss Timmins' School for Girls by Nayana Currimbhoy Just My Type: A Book about Fonts by Simon Garfield Becoming Marie Antoinette: A Novel by Juliet Grey The Irresistible Henry House by Lisa Grunwald

Breath and Bones by Susann Cokal Small Acts of Sex and Electricity by Lise Haines The Singer's Gun by Emily St. John Mandel Rain Village by Carolyn Turgeon Drood by Dan Simmons L.A. Noire: The Collected Stories


Two giveaways ended on Friday and I've got the winners!

The winner of Queen by Right is ... Debbie of Author Debra Brown!

The winner of Don't Breathe a Word is ... Jessie of .bibliophile. .anonymous.!

Congrats to the winners!  I still have a few open giveaways if you didn't win -- and one opening on tomorrow!

Guest post on Nautical Fiction and mobile view

Inspired by Captain Wentworth's Boating Party, a Persusasion-themed event at vvb32reads, I wrote up a guest post on nautical fiction and my favorite boat-ish books.  I hope you'll stop by and tell me what you think!

Second, I've gone mobile!  (Mobile-view, technically.)  For those of you with smartphones and QR code readers, I present: 
Folks with Blogger blogs can activate mobile view by going to Settings > Email & Mobile and selecting 'Yes' for mobile view.  Smartphone owners can use apps like Google Goggles to read QR codes.

Q&A with Evan Fallenberg

I finished Evan Fallenberg's When We Danced on Water nearly a month ago, but I still can't stop thinking about it!  (It was seriously that good.)  I'm so excited to share my interview with Mr. Fallenberg.  Read on -- I hope it piques your interest in his beautiful book.

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

Two early pieces that I wrote and never completed to my satisfaction dealt with the tug between a religious lifestyle and an impossible love. Apparently, I got that out of my system when I finally found the story that suited it, that story eventually became my first novel, Light Fell.

Do you have any writing rituals or routines?

I like to write in the wee, dark hours of the morning, when the house is quiet and my brain feels least cluttered and most focused. On occasion, when I’m facing a major revision, I’ll leave home for a few days; my favorite getaway is the guest house at Kibbutz Ein Gedi, near the Dead Sea. I can be blissfully alone there, but wh…

Winner of When We Danced on Water

Very belatedly, the winner of When We Danced on Water is...

Serena of Savvy Verse & Wit!

Congrats!  Later today, I'll be sharing my interview with the author, Evan Fallenberg. 

As always, I have many giveaways still open if you didn't win anything.

Q&A with Mirella Sichirollo Patzer

I'm very excited to share my Q&A with author Mirella Sichirollo Patzer.  I'm a fan of her wonderful blog, History and Women, and I just loved her historical novel, The Blighted Troth.  Read on to learn more about this book and Ms. Patzer -- and don't forget to leave a comment to win a copy of The Blighted Troth!

Was The Blighted Troth the original title of your book?

The basic plot of The Blighted Troth is borrowed from the Italian classic novel, The Betrothed (I Promessi Sposi) by Alessandro Manzoni who wrote the story in 1863. In searching for a title, I wanted to ensure it was unique and had some spark to it. Coming up with a title is never easy and I just couldn’t seem to find the right title, one that I would love and that has never been used before. After several weeks, it came to me in the middle of the night and I thought it was the perfect fit.

The Blighted Troth has such a wonderful setting: early 18th century New France. Why did you choose to set your sto…

Q&A with Jennifer McMahon

I recently read Don't Breathe a Word, which might get the prize for creepiest book read in 2011 so far! It was great -- a perfect summer read. I'm thrilled to share my Q&A with the author, Jennifer McMahon. See the bottom for another chance to win a copy of Don't Breathe a Word.

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

I wrote my first short story in third grade, "The Haunted Meatball." I'm hazy on the details, but the meatball rolled off the table, and chased someone, probably seeking revenge. It may have glowed green (to indicate how haunted it was, of course!) In it, I took an everyday object and did my best to make it as creepy as I could. In some ways, I guess my writing has come full circle! What I remember most about that first story was this feeling of absolute magic -- I had created a world in which I could make anything happen. That sense of magic is still with me every time I sit down to begin a new book.

Do you have an…