Title: Winter's Tales Author: Isak Dinesen Genre: Fiction (Short Stories / Danish / 19th century / Fairy Tales / Historical Figure Fictionalized) Publisher/Publication Date : Vintage (6/1/1993) Source: My public library Rating: Liked. Did I finish?: I did, over a week, about a story or two a night. One-sentence summary: Twelve short stories on love, faith, courage, family, obligation, wonder, and death. Do I like the cover?: I don't -- I know it matches the cover for Seven Gothic Tales , but I don't think it reflects the flavor or tone of the stories. I'm reminded of...: A.S. Byatt, O. Henry, First line : In the first half of the last century there lived in Sealand, in Denmark, a family of cottagers and fishermen, who were called Plejelt after their native place, and who did not seem able to do well for themselves in any way. From "The Dreaming Child" Buy, Borrow, or Avoid?: Borrow or buy: there's some lovely, poetic language i
Showing posts from September, 2011
Title: Call Me Princess Author: Sara Blædel Genre: Fiction (Crime / Mystery / Denmark / Police Procedural ) Publisher/Publication Date : Pegasus Book (8/16/2011) Source: NetGalley Rating: Okay Did I finish?: Yes, but I skimmed a good deal. One-sentence summary: Danish police detective races to find a rapist before he strikes again, all while juggling stresses in her personal life. Reading Challenges: E-Book Do I like the cover?: Eh -- the book is about internet dating, not the dangers of walking alone at night, so the cover doesn't feel quite right to me. First line : The pain cut into her wrists, and she couldn't react because her hands were tied so tightly behind her back. Buy, Borrow, or Avoid?: Borrow if you're a Scandinavian crime fic addict and you're in need of a new fix. Why did I get this book?: I like some crime and mystery series, and I love things set in Denmark. Review: This is Blædel's American (or English-language) deb
Title: Salvage the Bones: A Novel Author: Jesmyn Ward Genre: Fiction (Hurricane Katrina / Southern Fiction / Dog Fighting / Teen Pregnancy) Publisher/Publication Date : Bloomsbury USA (8/30/2011) Source: TLC Book Tours Rating: Loved/hated in that this book totally effed me up. Did I finish?: Yes. One-sentence summary: Fourteen year old Esch is pregnant, caring for her absent, violent alcoholic father and three brothers, each needy in their own way, against the backdrop of Hurricane Katrina. Do I like the cover?: Yes, as much of the story centers around a pit bull named China. First line : China's turned on herself. Did... I cringe from the first page?: YES. The writing is stellar and so the violence packs a punch. I was winded, and it was good/painful/awful/amazing. Did... I inhale this book in a single night?: YES. Really, I couldn't shake this book, even when I was horrified and uncomfortable. I had to read on. Buy, Borrow, or Avoid?: Borr
Title: A Man of Parts: A Novel of H. G. Wells Author: David Lodge Genre: Fiction (Historical / WWII / London / Historical Figure Fictionalized / early 20th century / Publisher/Publication Date : Viking Adult (9/15/2011) Source: The publisher Rating: Liked to love -- I bet my estimation will grow as time goes on. Did I finish?: Totally -- couldn't put it down. One-sentence summary: At the end of his life, author and lover-of-many H.G. Wells reflects on his life. Reading Challenges: British Books , Historical Fiction Do I like the cover?: I love it -- the vintage illustrations of women suggest Wells' lovers, or at least, his interest in women and there's something about the font that is ugly and yet, so appealing. I'm reminded of...: A.S. Byatt First line : In the spring of 1944 Hanover Terrace, a handsome row of Nash town houses on the western perimeter of Regent's Park, is looking distinctly war-worn. Buy, Borrow, or Avoid?: Buy or bor
Three giveaways closed for this week. Here are the winners! The winner of Ashes of the Earth is ... Nancye D ! The winner of Road From the West is ... Elysium ! The winner of Ivan and Misha is ... Serena of Savvy Verse & Wit ! Winners have been emailed -- congrats! For those who didn't win, I have two open giveaways still and more coming this week!
Title: Me Again Author: Keith Cronin Genre: Fiction (Contemporary / Stroke / Family Secrets) Publisher/Publication Date : Five Star (9/7/2011) Source: TLC Book Tours Rating: Okay. Did I finish?: I did, very quickly. One-sentence summary: A thirty-four year old man wakes up from a six-year coma to discover his life, literally, will never be the same. Do I like the cover?: I do -- I'm not wild about the design (the gigantic Gruen quote draws my eye more than the title and image, perhaps intentionally) but the image is directly related to the story. I'm reminded of...: Alice Sebold, Elizabeth Berg First line : I was born on a Tuesday morning. Buy, Borrow, or Avoid?: Buy, if you do, as 25% of the book earnings are being donated to the American Stroke Association -- perhaps gift this to someone if you or someone in your family has been affected by stroke. Why did I get this book?: The setup -- humorous, a little bittersweet, a bit sad -- intrigued me.
Earlier this month I read and enjoyed Katherine Webb's novel The Legacy , a historical novel-contemporary mystery melange set in Oklahoma and the UK. It's a perfect beach-y read for the last days of summer. I'm excited to share my interview with Ms. Webb, so read on to learn about her writing, her novel, and what she's been reading! What was the plot of your very first piece of fiction? The very first I have no idea - my mother tells me I started writing stories when I was six or seven years old, often featuring a character called Crow, apparently; but I have no memory of them. I did start to write a novel in my teens - it was a fantasy story, deeply unoriginal, in which two characters falling in love brought warring races together. Thankfully, it's not saved anywhere! Do you have any writing rituals or routines? No real rituals, but I have to have everything tidy and organised. I'm a real neat freak, so if the house is a mess or there's a pile
I was completely taken by Ivan and Misha when I read it earlier this month; the interconnected short stories were moving, emotional, and intense without being overwrought. It's a collection that will stick with me, and so I was delighted when Michael Alenyikov agreed to answer my usual questions. Please read on to learn more about him, his writing, and his book. What was the plot of your very first piece of fiction? When I think of my "first story" there are really two that were written concurrently. One is a short piece about two boyfriends in NYC who argue about what to do on a day off, a late fall day that's unusually warm. One is an outdoor, sportsy kind of guy, the other is a stay at home and watch a foreign movie on TV. It's also their first anniversary as a couple. They compromise on going to Fire Island to fly a kite. There are several elements that in retrospect were examples of what I try for in my fiction: one was using a rather cliched sett
Title: L.A. Noire Author: Jonathan Santlofer, editor Genre: Fiction (Short Stories / Noir / Publisher/Publication Date : Mulholland Books (6/2011) Source: Purchased Rating: Liked a great deal. Did I finish?: Yes. One-sentence summary: Eight short stories set in or around 1940s Los Angeles, inspired by the video game L.A. Noire. Reading Challenges: Criminal Plots , E-books , Femme Fatale , Historical Fiction Do I like the cover?: Oh, I love it -- it has the glossy feel of the video game and the pulp-y sensibility of other novels from the era. Each story has it's own title art , as well, which was striking. First line : Deep in the alley, lit by the beam of the patrolman's flashlight, she looked like a naked angel in midflight, sky-swimming toward a dark heaven. From "Naked Angel" by Joe R. Lansdale Did... I actually read this on my phone?: YES. I'm not sure how it happened, but the three or four days I read this I left my reader at ho
Seen both at Mailbox Monday (hosted in September at Amused By Books ) and The Story Siren , my Mailbox Monday/In My Mailbox on a stuck-in-bed-with-a-cold Sunday. Read any of these? What did you get? For Review The Imaginary Emperor: A Tale of Old San Francisco by Steve Bartholomew Maman's Homesick Pie by Donia Bijan Irrepressible: The Life and Times of Jessica Mitford by Leslie Brody India Black and the Widow of Windsor (Madam of Espionage Mysteries #2) by Carol K. Carr English Lessons by Jack Ewing Dakota, Or What's a Heaven For by Brenda K. Marshall Jane Austen Made Me Do It: Original Stories Inspired by Literature's Most Astute Observer of the Human Heart edited by Laurel Ann Nattress The Luminist: A Novel by David Rocklin Won Revival: A Folk Music Novel by Scott Alarik, thanks to The Bowed Bookshelf Russian Roulette by Mike Faricy, thanks to vvb32 reads Cleopatra: A Life by Stacy Schiff, thanks to Little, Brown and Co Twit
Apologies for the lateness -- am wilting in bed with a horrible head cold! No fun -- I'm too headache-y to read, even. Now that's sad! This week's giveaway winners are... The winner of Just My Type is ... Rachel D. ! The winner of The Legacy is ... Marie B. ! Both winners have been notified by email. If you didn't win, I've got more open giveaways , so check them out!
Today ends a rather hectic week, which followed another hectic week, so I have to apologize to everyone for being behind on commenting. I also owe Ari of Reading in Color a huge double apology for completely flaking on my interview with her. She sent amazing questions which are half answered in my draft email folder and the fault lies totally with me. Ari, I'm sorry! I'm sort of between books and swimming in a few current reads, all interesting enough but not keep-me-up-all-night compelling. So, my FridayReads for this week are: Call Me Princess by Sara Blaedel (Scandinavian crime novel), A Man of Parts: A Novel of H. G. Wells by David Lodge (historical novel about, surprise!, H.G. Wells), and Poison Penmanship: The Gentle Art of Muckraking by Jessica Mitford (non-fiction essays on 1950s America). What are you reading this weekend? And finally, a request. I have a custom URL for this blog! Hooray! Only I don't know how to get it to direct to here. I
Earlier this summer and I read and adored Lynn Cullen's historical novel Reign of Madness . Please read on to learn more about Ms. Cullen's writing process, Reign of Madness , and her next project. (I'm already dying to read it!). What was the plot of your very first piece of fiction? The first story that I remember writing was about a bear that ate so much honey that he had to roll home in a barrel. I was around six and hadn’t heard of Winnie the Pooh. I thought I was very clever and original, and didn’t worry too much about explaining how this barrel conveniently happened to be on top of the hill where the honey was. Do you have any writing rituals or routines? I like to get started after a “run” (if I can call my slogging along that) or walk by reading the work I’d done the previous day. I usually can’t resist rewriting that, and so an hour or two later, I begin on the new passage to be done. I write at the pace at which I “run”—slowly. I don’t work
Title: Does a Bear Sh*t in the Woods?: Answers to Rhetorical Questions Author: Caroline Taggart Genre: Non-Fiction (Humor / Pop Culture / Philosophy / Literature / General Trivia) Publisher/Publication Date : Plume (7/26/2011) Source: The publisher Rating: Liked. Did I finish?: Yes, in a breezy two hours. One-sentence summary: Snappy and humorous responses to a variety of rhetorical questions. Reading Challenges: British Books Do I like the cover?: I do -- the lettering in particular, as it conveys the feel of the book. I'm reminded of...: Ben Schott and other books that are good for leaving in a bathroom First line : It depends on where you are: in the average supermarket, there is a clearly labeled "Meat" section offering beef of various cuts and kinds; in a vegetarian restaurant you may search in vain and have to settle for the spinach and ricotta quiche. -- from "Where's the beef?" Buy, Borrow, or Avoid?: Borrow if you
Last week I read Rosanne E. Lortz's hefty and promising Road from the West , the first in a trilogy set in the 11th century. I'm excited to share my interview with Ms. Lortz (she loves one of my all-time favorite historicals!) so read on to learn more about her, her writing, and what she's been reading. What was the plot of your very first piece of fiction? I have to go way, way back for the first piece of fiction I remember writing. I think I was ten or eleven years old, and I took the fable of “The Boy Who Cried Wolf” and changed the characters into insects. There was a young ant in charge of taking the aphids out to pasture every day, and to cause a little excitement, he kept pretending that he had sighted the horrible ladybird beetle coming to devour the flock. Just like in the original story, when the ladybird beetle finally did arrive, no one would believe him and the aphids met a rather tragic end. Do you have any writing rituals or routines? With ten-m
I'm very excited to be a part of Book Blogger Appreciation Week 's blogger interview exchange. Please read on for my interview Ari of Reading in Color . Ari's blog focuses primarily on YA fiction about people of color (POC). Ari's blog is new-to-me but I was immediately taken with her smart reviews and wide range of tastes in fiction. One of the issues Ari blogs about is the 'whitewashing' of books by the publishing industry (using white models on book covers that feature characters of color, for example), an issue I first learned about when Justine Larbalestier's novel Liar was released in the U.S. (Justine has a great post on why this is so problematic.). Ari's mix of commentary on publishing and reviews makes her blog fascinating and enjoyable and I hope you stop by to check it out. If you could put a book in everyone's hand, what book would it be? Oooo tough question! I mostly review Young Adult so I'm going to say Whale Talk b
Three giveaways ended this week, so here are the winners! The winner of Becoming Marie Antoinette is ... Kathleen.B ! The winner of Q is ... Meg of Write Meg ! The winner of What Language Is is ... Jill of Rhapsody in Books ! I have five open giveaways including a last minute addition: after posting my review of Ashes of the Earth , I learned I could give away a copy of it! So if you read the review and was intrigued, check out the giveaway form at the end.
Title: Ashes of the Earth: A Mystery of Post-Apocalyptic America Author: Eliot Pattison Genre: Fiction (Mystery / Post-Apocalypse / Dystopia / Future) Publisher/Publication Date : Counterpoint (4/1/2011) Source: The publisher. Rating: Liked. Did I finish?: I did, pretty quickly. One-sentence summary: Twenty-five years after an apocalypse wiped out most of the Earth, a series of murders threatens the stability of a community of survivors. Do I like the cover?: I'm not wild about it, but it features key elements from the book so that makes me happy! I'm reminded of...: Octavia Butler, Robert Heinlein First line : The faces of the many child suicides Hadrian Boone had cut from nooses or retrieved below cliffs never left him, filled his restless sleep, and encroached in so many waking nightmares that now, as the blond girl with the hanging rope skipped along the ridge above, he hesitated, uncertain whether she was another of the phantoms that haunted
Title: Road from the West Author: Rosanne E. Lortz Genre: Fiction (Historical / Crusades ) Publisher/Publication Date : Madison Street Publishing (9/2/2011) Source: Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours Rating: Okay. Did I finish?: I did. One-sentence summary: The early months of the First Crusade (1096) are seen through the eyes of Tancred, a young nobleman eager to save his soul by 'freeing' Jerusalem. Reading Challenges: Historical Fiction Do I like the cover?: I do -- the image certainly evokes the Crusades in my mind. First line : The stars changed their courses the day that Tancred the marquis tossed aside his sword and strode off the field of battle. Did... I love the map and four-page list of characters?: YES. It made things much easier! Did... I find myself wiki-ing things non-stop, because I learned so many interesting bits of Crusade-y trivia?: YES. Books like this are wonderful because they make real historical eras that were far-off a
Title: Ivan and Misha Author: Michael Alenyikov Genre: Fiction (Contemporary / Fathers & Sons / New York City / Gay / Immigrants / Russian-American) Publisher/Publication Date : Triquarterly/Northwestern University Press (10/30/2010) Source: TLC Book Tours Rating: Greatly liked to love! Did I finish?: Yes, quite greedily! One-sentence summary: Interconnected stories centering around a family of Ukrainian immigrants in New York City and their friends and lovers. Do I like the cover?: I do -- New York City is ever present in the stories, and the punch cut vaguely looks like men staring at each other -- the twins, perhaps? I'm reminded of...: Anne Carson, Jeanette Winterson First line : Misha's papa had disappointed before. Did... I read this in a day?: YES. About four hours, a little longer, another book I picked up to thumb through and found myself unable to put down. Am... I half daydreaming of a sequel to see where the twins are now?: Y
Title: The Taker Author: Alma Katsu Genre: Fiction (Contemporary / Maine / Historical / 19th century / Paranormal) Publisher/Publication Date : Gallery (9/2011) Source: The publisher. Rating: Okay. Did I finish?: I did. One-sentence summary: One woman, two hundred sordid years, and one unending love. Reading Challenges: Historical Fiction , R.eaders I.mbibing P.eril Do I like the cover?: Yes, although I vastly prefer the UK cover. While neither exactly capture the novel's feel (to me), the UK version is sort of reminiscent of the tattoos some of the 'chosen' have. I'm reminded of...: Karen Essex, Anne Rice, Cate Tiernan First line : Goddamned freezing cold. Do... I love the freebies the author offers on her website ?: YES. Signed bookplates and bookmarks, plus a chance to Skype with her if you read this for a book club. Did... I love reading about historical Maine and Boston?: YES. I'm a sucker for New England historicals! Am...