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Showing posts from July, 2011

Mailbox Monday, Aug 1

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Seen both at Mailbox Monday (hosted in August at Life in the Thumb) and The Story Siren, my Mailbox Monday/In My Mailbox...on a Sunday!  (Another crazy week ahead of me!)  Read any of these?  What did you get?

For Review




The Lantern by Deborah Lawrenson
Road from the West (Chronicles of Tancred #1) by Rosanne E. Lortz
Wendy and the Lost Boys by Julie Salamon
Does a Bear Sh*t in the Woods?: Answers to Rhetorical Questions by Caroline Taggart
Two for Sorrow (Josephine Tey #3) by Nicola Upson
Salvage the Bones: A Novel by Jesmyn Ward

Won



When God Was a Rabbit by Sarah Winman, thanks to Nomadreader

Purchased/Swapped



A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway
The Masque of the Black Tulip by Lauren Willig

Winners!

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Another belated announcement, last week's winners and this week's. Sorry to make all of you wait! Without further ado...

The winner of French Lessons is ... Meg of Write Meg!

The winner of Centuries of June is ... Literati Wannabe!

The winner of The Girl in the Garden is ... Colleen Turner!

The winner of Miss Timmins' School for Girls isCarrie of Nomadreader!

Congrats to the winners!  For those who didn't win, I've got plenty of open giveaways and many more coming.

Everything Beautiful Began After by Simon Van Booy

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Title:Everything Beautiful Began After
Author: Simon Van Booy

Genre: Fiction (Literary / Contemporary / Greece / Loss)
Publisher/Publication Date: Harper Perennial (7/5/2011)
Source:TLC Book Tours

Rating: L-O-V-E-D! Another to make the top ten of 2011!
Did I finish?: Yes -- inhaled -- I couldn't stop!
One-sentence summary: An exploration of love, loss, and the secrets that weigh and shape our lives.

Do I like the cover?: Yes -- it could easily be the two main characters.

I'm reminded of...: Lawrence Durrell, Jeanette Winterson

First line: Everything was already here and I was last to be born.

Am... I ready to reread this already?: YES. Gorgeous language and such a moving story -- I'm not ready to leave!

Am... I frantic to read more by Van Booy?: YES. This was his first novel (please let another come out soon!) but he has two collections of short fiction I'm desperate to get my hands on.

Did... this book make me want Greek food?: YES, no surprise. I also wanted my apartment i…

Reign of Madness by Lynn Cullen

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Title:Reign of Madness
Author: Lynn Cullen

Genre: Fiction (Historical / 15th century / Royals / Spain / Netherlands)
Publisher/Publication Date: Putnam Adult (8/4/2011)
Source:TLC Book Tours

Rating: LOVED!
Did I finish?: Yes -- and in my reluctance to stop reading, I missed my stop on the subway, twice!
One-sentence summary: The life of 15th-century royal, Juana of Castile, daughter of formidable Ferdinand and Isabel of Spain, and her tumultuous marriage.
Reading Challenges:Historical Fiction

Do I like the cover?: I'm not wild about it, until I study it, and then I like it a little more.  The narrow diamond shape creates this sort of closed-in feeling that replicates the feeling of Juana's eventual imprisonment.  The figure reminds me of the woman from the cover of Cullen's first novel, The Creation of Eve.

I'm reminded of...: Melanie Benjamin, Sandra Gulland, Anya Seton

First line: A birdcage might be gilded, but it is still a cage.

Did... I enjoy this novel despite knowing next …

Interview with Daisy Goodwin

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Last week I reviewed the delicious The American Heiress by Daisy Goodwin.  I'm thrilled to share my interview with her.  Read on to learn more about her and her book, and see the end for another chance to win a copy of her novel!

What was the plot of your very first piece of fiction?
This book is my very first piece of fiction, although I did try and write a film script about spies in the 1930's when I was a student.

Do you have any writing rituals or routines?
My only rule is to keep going until I hit a thousand words. And I don't re-read or revise until I get to the end. It is too easy to pick things to bits and forget the big picture.

The title of your book changed when released in the U.S.: it went from My Last Duchess to The American Heiress. Was My Last Duchess always the title you had in mind? What do you think of the American rename?

I took the title My Last Duchess from the poem by Robert Browning and I have to say that I had that poem very much in mind when I was …

Eromenos by Melanie J. McDonald

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Title:Eromenos
Author: Melanie J. McDonald

Genre: Fiction (Historical / Ancient Rome / LGBT)
Publisher/Publication Date: Seriously Good Books (3/11/2011)
Source:Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours

Rating: Liked a great deal.
Did I finish?: Yes, gobbled up in a few hours.
One-sentence summary: The 'memoirs' of Antinous, lover to the Roman emperor Hadrian.
Reading Challenges:Historical Fiction

Do I like the cover?: Yes -- it's very dark but quite beautiful and I think it alludes to a scene in the novel quite poetically.

I'm reminded of...: Penelope Fitzgerald, Mary Renault

First line: Such a quiet night, after Alexandria.

Did... I love McDonald's story about seeing Hadrian and Antinous' statues and how it gave her the idea for this book?: YES.  It made me a little teary and got me properly primed for how wonderful this novel would be.

Did... I wiki Antinous to see some of the sculptures Hadrian commissioned?: YES, and Antinous is quite a looker.

Did... I tear up at the…

Interview with Nayana Currimbhoy

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Last week I read and reviewedMiss Timmins' School for Girls, a delightful coming-of-age novel set in 1970s India.  It's unusual and unique and incredibly compelling and I can't rave about it enough.  I'm excited to share my interview with the author, Nayana Currimbhoy, as well as another chance to win a copy of her book.

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

My very first piece of fiction was a short story, when I was nine, and for some reason I still remember how good I felt when I wrote it, and how great it felt when it was read aloud in class by the teacher. It was something about a jewel hidden in an umbrella.

That was when I decided to write a novel. It has only taken me more than forty years to get to it!

Do you have any writing rituals or routines?

I write at night, mainly, when the family is asleep, and in short, intense bursts when I am in my country cabin in the summer…the thing I really need is to have a stretch of time where I have the comf…

My Year with Eleanor by Noelle Hancock

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Title:My Year with Eleanor: A Memoir
Author: Noelle Hancock

Genre: Non-Fiction (Memoir / Contemporary / New York City / Self Discovery)
Publisher/Publication Date: Ecco (6/7/2011)
Source:TLC Book Tours

Rating: Liked enormously!
Did I finish?: Yes -- in a day or so!
One-sentence summary: A laid-off blogger spends a year inspired by Eleanor Roosevelt, confronting the things that she fears.

Do I like the cover?: Yes, it's adorable and quirky and doesn't take itself too seriously -- much like the tone of this book!

First line: I was lying on a beach in Aruba, mulling a third piña colada, when I received a phone call announcing I'd been laid off from my job.

Did... I love the blending of Eleanor's life with Hancock's?: YES.  Hancock wasn't just inspired by a quote of Eleanor's but found parallels in her life and Roosevelt's and that made this memoir meatier and more enjoyable.

Did... this book inspire me to contemplate my own fears?: YES. And not just the big thing…

The American Heiress by Daisy Goodwin

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Title:The American Heiress
Author: Daisy Goodwin

Genre: Fiction (Historical / late 19th century / American / British / Peerage / Marriage)
Publisher/Publication Date: St. Martin's Press (6/21/2011)
Source: The publisher

Rating: Liked a great deal -- ice cream sundae delicious!
Did I finish?: Yes -- gobbled it up like the aforementioned sundae.
One-sentence summary: A rich American girl sets off for Europe and lands a prize catch in the form of of a Duke -- but is it happily ever after?
Reading Challenges:British Books, Historical Fiction

Do I like the cover?: Love it -- although I'm not sure the dress exactly resembles one from the late 1890s.  Still, it's a striking cover that evokes the luxury and elegance of the era.

I'm reminded of...: Jeanne Kalogridis, Amanda Prantera, Suzanne M. Wolfe 

First line: The visiting hour was almost over, so the hummingbird man encountered only the occasional carriage as he pushed his cart along the narrow strip of road between the mansions…

Teaser Tuesday, July 19

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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 the delightful The American Heiress by Daisy Goodwin. My review is coming this morning but I just had to share a bit of what hooked me early on.  This is our first introduction to the heroine, Cora Cash, and honestly, I laughed and gasped and read on eagerly for more.

In the Blue Room, Cora Cash was trying to concentrate on her book.  Cora found most novels hard to sympathise with -- all those plain governesses -- but this one had much to recommend it.  The heroine was 'handsome, clever, and rich', rather like Cora herself.  Cora knew she was handsome …

Before Versailles by Karleen Koen

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Title:Before Versailles: A Novel of Louis XIV
Author: Karleen Koen

Genre: Fiction (Historical / French / 17th century)
Publisher/Publication Date: Crown (6/28/2011)
Source:TLC Book Tours

Rating: Liked very much!
Did I finish?: Yes -- I kept daydreaming about returning to it whenever I had to stop.
One-sentence summary: Seven months in 1661 at the king's palace in Fontainebleau, France are filled with intrigue, romance, mischief, and mystery as a young lady-in-waiting navigates life at court.
Reading Challenges:Historical Fiction

Do I like the cover?: Yes, although it's a bit simple, it appeals to me, and has hints of Koen's previous covers (plus I love it when the covers accurately portray the setting -- in this case, Fontainebleau Palace).

I'm reminded of...: Sandra Gulland, Anya Seton

First line: Intelligent, virile, handsome, a man who made himself master of all he surveyed, Louis XIV was the foremost figure of his age.

Did... I get lost in this book every time I picked it up…

Mailbox Monday, July 17

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Seen both at The Printed Page (hosted in July at A Sea of Books) and The Story Siren, my Mailbox Monday/In My Mailbox...on a Sunday!  I've got a crazy review week ahead of me so I'm doing my mailbox today.  Lots of fascinating books to review plus some guilty pleasure purchases!  Read any of these?  What did you get?




For Review




Cocktail Hour Under the Tree of Forgetfulness by Alexandra Fuller
The American Heiress by Daisy Goodwin
The Magicians by Lev Grossman
The Magician King by Lev Grossman
The Twelfth Enchantment: A Novel by David Liss
Eromenos by Melanie J. McDonald
The Homecoming of Samuel Lake: A Novel by Jenny Wingfield


Purchased/Swapped



A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray
Rebel Angels by Libba Bray
The Sweet Far Thing by Libba BrayBedelia by Vera Caspary (an original hardcover from 1945!)

Winners!

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I missed posting last week's winners, so I'm combining two week's worth of giveaway results into this single post -- sorry for keeping all of you waiting!

From last week...

The winner of Mr. Bishop and the Actress is ... Jenna of Literature and a Lens!

The winner of The Hypnotist is ... karenk!

And for this week...

The winner of The Art of Forgetting is... Tiffany Drew!

The winners of The Seven Year Bitch are ... Jenn of Picky Girl and Lisa of Lisa's Loves (Books of Course)!

Congrats to the winners!  If you didn't win, I still have many open giveaways and more great ones coming this week!

In Her Wake by Nancy Rappaport

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Title:In Her Wake: A Child Psychiatrist Explores the Mystery of Her Mother's Suicide
Author: Nancy Rappaport

Genre: Non-Fiction (Memoir / Contemporary / 1960s / Divorce / Suicide)
Publisher/Publication Date: Basic Books (7/12/2011)
Source:TLC Book Tours

Rating: Liked a great deal.
Did I finish?: Yes -- it really was un-put-down-able!
One-sentence summary: A Boston-based psychiatrist recounts the story of her parent's marriage, her mother's suicide, and the subsequent impact on her family's life.
Reading Challenges: None.

Do I like the cover?: Yes -- it features a picture of the author's mother and feels a bit retro to me, reminiscent, perhaps, of the 1960s setting.

First line: The day my mother killed herself, she had just finished preparing her house on Marlborough Street for the anticipated return of her children after a fierce custody battle with my father.

Buy, Borrow, or Avoid?: Borrow for sure -- I think it could appeal to many readers for the myriad of angles Rapp…

Miss Timmins' School for Girls by Nayana Currimbhoy

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Title:Miss Timmins' School for Girls
Author: Nayana Currimbhoy

Genre: Fiction (India / Historical - 1970s / Girls School / Murder Mystery / Post-Colonial)
Publisher/Publication Date: Harper Paperbacks (6/21/2011)
Source:TLC Book Tours

Rating: Liked immensely!
Did I finish?: Yes -- I couldn't stop thinking about this book.
One-sentence summary: A young teacher's life is changed by love (and sex), the murder of a colleague, and family drama in 1970s India.
Reading Challenges:Historical Fiction, South Asian

Do I like the cover?: Yes. It references a rather iconic moment from the story.

I'm reminded of...: Charlotte Greig, Zoë Heller

First line: Today Charu came back to me, suddenly.

Did... I greatly appreciate the glossary in the back?: YES! It made my wiki-ing a lot less!

Did... I stay up multiple nights because I couldn't stop reading?: YES! At 491 pages, this was not one of my three-hour reads, but it was so good I didn't want to go to bed.

Do... I love the font used …

Teaser Tuesday, July 12

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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
Today's teaser is from Nayana Currimbhoy's fabulous novel Miss Timmins' School for Girls.  Set in 1974 at a girl's school in the Panchgani region of India, the story follows Charulata Apte, a young Indian woman who is an English teacher there.  The excerpt below is from early in the novel, as Charu is chatting with a few other teachers. They're telling her about monsoon season and how hard it is to keep the students cooped up inside.  Miss Manson, one of the teachers, suggested Charu help her teach the students Scottish dance.

I really knew nothing about the dancing habit…

The Girl in the Garden by Kamala Nair

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Title:The Girl in the Garden
Author: Kamala Nair

Genre: Fiction (Contemporary / India / Family / Relationships)
Publisher/Publication Date: Grand Central Publishing (6/15/2011)
Source:TLC Book Tours

Rating: Loved -- top 10 for 2011!!
Did I finish?: Yes -- another book I picked up around 1ish on Sunday and finished a few hours later -- I couldn't stop!
One-sentence summary: An Indian-American woman recounts the tumultuous summer she spent in India, more than a decade ago, when she learned the dark secrets about her mother's family.
Reading Challenges:British Books, South Asian

Do I like the cover?: Yes. Despite seeming a bit stock, the imagery of the peacocks comes directly from the story, and the cover has this lovely embossed frame around the title.

I'm reminded of...: Diana Abu-Jaber, Kamila Shamsie

First line: By the time you read this I will be flying over the Atlantic on my way to India.

Did... I know things bode well when the novel opened with a poem from Mirabai?: YES. She…