Showing posts from August, 2011

Interview with Karleen Koen

Earlier this summer I read and loved Before Versailles and I'm over-the-moon at sharing my interview with author Karleen Koen.

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

My very first piece of fiction would have to be short stories written for junior high.....something about a South American pyramid and time travel or something like that......I did write a send up of the Cinderella story for elementary, in which Cinderella was played by a big guy in a dress.....

Do you have any writing rituals or routines?

I'm always trying different things.....nothing sticks.....nothing makes the not-knowingness of the process any easier. I do have a fairly regular meditation practice, and that seems to help the stress.

Was Before Versailles the original title of your book?

I started with KING......had someone say, "As in Martin Luther?".....then I went to MONARCH.....thinking of the metamorphosis of a butterfly. My agent felt that title was too baldly masculine. Doodling…

Cocktail Hour Under the Tree of Forgetfulness by Alexandra Fuller

Title:Cocktail Hour Under the Tree of Forgetfulness
Author: Alexandra Fuller

Genre: Non-Fiction (Biography / Memoir / East Africa / 1960s / Post-Colonial)
Publisher/Publication Date: The Penguin Press (8/23/2011)
Source:TLC Book Tours

Rating: Loved, like I could elope with it loved!
Did I finish?: Yes, in a few nights.
One-sentence summary: A memoirist recounts her mother's life, from her Scottish roots to her childhood in '50s and '60s British-held Kenya and finally, her life in war-torn Rhodesia/Zimbabwe.
Reading Challenges:British Books

Do I like the cover?: I adore the cover. It's a picture of the author's mother with her childhood best friend, a chimp named Stephen Foster. It says everything about this book.

First line: Our Mum -- or Nicola Fuller of Central Africa, as she has on occasion preferred to introduce herself -- has wanted a writer in the family as long as either of us can remember, not only because she loves books and has therefore always wanted to…

Just My Type by Simon Garfield

Title:Just My Type: A Book About Fonts
Author: Simon Garfield

Genre: Non-Fiction (Fonts / Typography / History / Graphic Design)
Publisher/Publication Date: Gotham (9/1/2011)
Source:TLC Book Tours

Rating: Loved.
Did I finish?: Yes -- and I couldn't stop babbling about it.
One-sentence summary: A history of fonts, font design, and typography, written in a humorous and accessible style.
Reading Challenges:British Books

Do I like the cover?: Yes -- it captures the playfulness of Garfield's writing style and displays some beautiful font examples.

First line: On 12 June, 2005, a fifty-year-old man stood up in front of a crowd of students at Stanford University and spoke of his campus days at a 'lesser institution' -- Reed College in Portland, Oregon.

Buy, Borrow, or Avoid?: Borrow for sure -- even if you're not normally inclined toward graphic design, you'll not look at a sign or book cover the same way again!

Why did I get this book?: I am a font geek and I couldn't wa…

My wife gets bitten by the blogging bug...

My wife has gotten bitten by the blogging bug: Big Bad Belly.  She's spearheading a totally insane experiment that I'm witnessing/participating in/commenting on: six diets in six months.  From raw vegan to the Mediterranean diet, we're trying out different ways of eating/cooking to see what we like.  She's doing the hard work; I'm just eating the results.  If you're a foodie or have any cookbook recommendations, pop by her blog and say hello -- I'm sure she'd love the support!

Mailbox Monday, August 29

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 (hurricane-y!) Sunday.   Read any of these?  What did you get?

For Review

A Different Sky by Meira Chand
Me Again by Keith Cronin
The Last Time I Saw Paris by Lynn Sheene


An Accident in August: A Novel by Laurence Cossé, thanks to For the love of books


The House at Riverton by Kate Morton


My Saturday has been quiet so far -- we're risking hurricane ire, I suppose, and tempting fate, by not stocking up on food.  Instead, I've been cleaning house and dipping into my reading (searching for the perfect rainy day book!). 

This week's winners are...

The winner of The Homecoming of Samuel Lake is ... Amy (ArtsyBookishGal) of Backseat Writer!

The winner of Stories for Nighttime and Some for the Day is ... Ti of Book Chatter!

Congrats to the winners! See my current giveaways if you didn't win.

What Language Is by John McWhorter

Title:What Language Is (And What It Isn’t and What It Could Be)
Author: John McWhorter

Genre: Non-Fiction (Linguistics / Communications / Anthropology)
Publisher/Publication Date: Gotham (8/4/2011)
Source:TLC Book Tours

Rating: Okay to liked.
Did I finish?: I did!
One-sentence summary: A discussion of what makes a language a language (rather than a dialect or 'tongue'), and how languages change, shape, grow, and shrink over time.

Do I like the cover?: It's a bit boring, but the word balloons make it clear what the book is about.  

First line: Page through a grand old book on what was once known as natural history -- as we all do so often, of course -- and you'll find that almost all drawings of marine life are rendered from the perspective of someone standing on the shore.

Buy, Borrow, or Avoid?: Borrow -- my mother was always big into me reading books that might challenge my brain a little and I still pick up something outside of my normal tastes now and then. This might be…

Interview with Deborah Lawrenson

I fell into hot, heavy, passionate love with Deborah Lawrenson's novel The Lantern. So it's with great delight that I get to share my interview with her. Learn more about her writing, The Lantern, and what she's enjoying these days. Comment for a chance to win this novel -- you'll love it!

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

My first novel was based on my experiences working in London for Nigel Dempster, the most famous national newspaper gossip columnist of his day. It was a great job for a young journalist, meeting everyone from film stars to lords and ladies. In my fevered mind, my book was a cross between Armistead Maupin’s Tales of the City and Evelyn Waugh’s Vile Bodies, with lots of topical and rather silly interweaving plots. Needless to say, the publishers didn’t see it quite that way. For them, it was a piece of chick-lit they could market as an insider’s view of the gossip world – and so they did.

Do you have any writing rituals or routin…

Q by Evan Mandery

Title:Q: A Novel
Author: Evan Mandery

Genre: Fiction (Contemporary / New York City / Relationships / Writers / Time Travel)
Publisher/Publication Date: Harper Paperbacks (8/23/2011)
Source:TLC Book Tours

Rating: Okay to liked at moments.
Did I finish?: I did, although it was tough at some parts.
One-sentence summary: A man bails on marrying the love of his life after his future self warns him not to, unleashing more unhappy future selves.

Do I like the cover?: Yes, although it gave me the impression this was more of a hipster-y novel than it is.

I'm reminded of...: Scarlett Thomas, Gary Shteyngart

First line: Q, Quentina Elizabeth Deveril, is the love of my life.

Did... I develop a bit of a crush on Q: YES. The courtship of Q and the narrator is too cute for words. Luff.

Did... I sigh, happily, at the end: YES. The last chapter was just perfect.

Buy, Borrow, or Avoid?: Borrow, I think, as it has a lovely romance at the heart of the story that's unusual and appealing.

Why did I …

Interview with David Liss

Last week I read The Twelfth Enchantment by David Liss which I loved, like love-it-so-much-I-wanna-marry-it loved. Thus, I'm psyched to share my interview with the author. Read on to learn more about him and his writing, and be sure to comment for another chance to win your own copy of The Twelfth Enchantment.

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

The first piece of fiction I ever remember writing was in the second grade. I don't recall the details, but it involved a crashed spaceship and carnivorous plants. The carnivorous plant phase lasted until about the 4th grade.

Do you have any writing rituals or routines?

I am a morning writer. Regardless of what time I get up, I begin to run out of steam around noon, so I like to get to work as early as I can. In the mornings I write at a local coffee shop, where they take ridiculously good care of me, even reserving my space every day. I work on my prose fiction for about four hours, eat lunch, and then get to w…

Mailbox Monday, Aug 22

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 (which might need to be the new scheduled time!)  Read any of these?  What did you get?

For Review

The Taker by Alma Katsu
Q: A Novel by Evan Mandery


You're Next by Gregg Hurwitz
Grace Interrupted (A Manor of Murder Mysteries #2) by Julie Hyzy


Mark of the Lion (Jade del Cameron Mysteries #1) by Suzanne Arruda
Strapless by Deborah Davis
The Native Star by M.K. Hobson
Lisey's Story by Stephen King

and of course, given Sourcebooks' $1.99 Heyer sale, a metric ton of Heyers including...

The Corinthian, The Grand Sophy, The Masqueraders, and Reluctant Widow.


Have some prize winners!

The winner of Eremenos is ... Col of Col Reads!

The winner of Reign of Madness is ... Holly of Bippity Boppity Book!

The winner of Everything Beautiful Began After is ... Diane of Bibliophile By the Sea!

Congrats to the winners!  Check out my other giveaways if you didn't win!

Becoming Marie Antoinette by Juliet Grey

Title:Becoming Marie Antoinette
Author: Juliet Grey

Genre: Fiction (Historical / French / Marie Antoinette / 18th century / Royals)
Publisher/Publication Date: Ballantine Books (8/9/2011)
Source:TLC Book Tours

Rating: Liked a great deal!
Did I finish?: Yes -- I'm dying for the sequel.
One-sentence summary: A detailed, human novel of the early years of Marie Antoinette's life.
Reading Challenges:Historical Fiction

Do I like the cover?: It's okay -- I'm not wild about it although I do appreciate that the model's entire face is shown rather than cut off at the eyes like so many hist fic covers.

I'm reminded of...: Sandra Gulland

First line: My mother liked to boast that her numerous daughters were "sacrifices to politics".

Did... I wish there was a Who's Who in this book?: YES. There are so many courtiers and nobles I kind of lost sense of who was who from time to time.

Did... I want to cry at the horrible dental word Marie Antoinette had to suffer through?: Y…

Wendy and the Lost Boys by Julie Salamon

Title:Wendy and the Lost Boys
Author: Julie Salamon

Genre: Non-Fiction (Biography / New York City / Playwright / Broadway / 1970s / Women's College / Family)
Publisher/Publication Date: The Penguin Press (8/18/2011)
Source:TLC Book Tours

Rating: Okay to liked.
Did I finish?: I did!
One-sentence summary: Biography of Pultizer and Tony prize winning playwright, Wendy Wassterstein.

Do I like the cover?: I adore the cover. It resembles a Playbill cover, and I can't imagine anything more fitting for a biography of a Broadway playwright.

I'm reminded of...: Nancy Milford

First line: When Wendy Wasserstein died on January 30, 2006, at age fifty-five, hers was a rare obituary considered important enough to make the front page of the New York Times.

Am... I seeking out Wasserstein's works now?: YES. Just raided the local library!

Buy, Borrow, or Avoid?: Borrow, especially if you enjoy reading about the '60s and '70s (there's some fun stuff about many favorite actors who …

The Lantern by Deborah Lawrenson

Title:The Lantern
Author: Deborah Lawrenson

Genre: Fiction (Contemporary / Historical / Provence / Gothic / Marriage / Mystery)
Publisher/Publication Date: Harper (8/9/2011)
Source:TLC Book Tours

Rating: LOVED, like top 10 of 2011 l-o-v-e-d!
Did I finish?: Yes, another record read in 3ish hours.
One-sentence summary: One rambling house in Provence connects two women as both struggle with the secrets that permeate their lives.
Reading Challenges:British Books, Historical Fiction

Do I like the cover?: Yes -- it's so pretty and reminiscent of the architectural feel of the novel's setting.

I'm reminded of...: Daphne du Maurier, Kate Morton, Amanda Prantera

First line: Some scents sparkle and then quickly disappear, like the effervescence of citrus zest or a bright note of mint.

Do... I wish I could live at Les Genévriers?: YES. Though falling apart, the hamlet seems to have this Anthropologie, French shabby chic thing going that I eat up with a spoon. I want!

Did... I love every chara…

Interview with Noelle Hancock

Earlier this summer, I read and was absolutely charmed by My Year With Eleanor, Noelle Hancock's memoir about overcoming her fears the year she was laid off and facing 30. It was an unexpectedly moving read, one I still think about -- in fact, I have to credit her with introducing 'time-release weirdo' into my vocabulary.  Read on to learn more about Ms. Hancock's transition from web blogger to memoirist, what element she didn't expect to include in her memoir, and what she's been reading lately.

Can you recall the subject or plot of the first piece of writing you did, whether as a kid or an adult, that you felt was the start of your writing career?

When I was in fourth grade, my teacher had us tear out a picture from a magazine and make up a story about it. I found a picture in Highlights of a puppy holding a fedora in his mouth. I made up a story about a burglar who’d robbed a house but dropped his hat on the way out. (Why I thought a burglar would be wearing…

Mailbox Monday, 8/15

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!  (Again!)  Read any of these?  What did you get?

For Review

The Last Nude by Ellis Avery
A Man of Parts: A Novel of H. G. Wells by David Lodge
Lionheart by Sharon Kay Penman


A Wife for Mr. Darcy by Mary Lydon Simonsen, thanks to Diary of an Eccentric


The Annotated Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov