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Showing posts from November, 2011

People Tell Me Things: Stories by David Finkle

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Title:People Tell Me Things: Stories
Author: David Finkle

Genre: Fiction (Short Stories / New York City / Contemporary / Manhattan / Writers on Writing / Upper Class / Satire)
Publisher/Publication Date: Nthposition Press (10/4/2011)
Source:TLC Book Tours

Rating: Okay.
Did I finish?: I did.
One-sentence summary: Ten stories involving Manhattan artists, elite, and intellectuals.

Do I like the cover?: Eh -- it's a bit comic book-y which doesn't exactly fit the feel of the stories. I imagine something more like the New Yorker would be more appropriate.

I'm reminded of...: Jennifer Belle

First line: "What I'm about to tell you is strictly confidential," my old friend Stanley Konig was saying at the first of two recent lunches we had. From 'Stanley Konig writing as Conrad Stamp'

Buy, Borrow, or Avoid?: Borrow for a fluffy escape to Manhattan.

Why did I get this book?: Armchair travel to NYC, and I do love some snotty insider-ness about the art world.

Review: This col…

A Different Sky by Meira Chand

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Title:A Different Sky
Author: Meira Chand

Genre: Fiction (Historical / WWII / 1930s / Singapore / Cross-Cultural Romance / Racism / Colonialism / Post-Colonial Fiction / War)
Publisher/Publication Date: Random House UK (7/4/2011)
Source: The publisher.

Rating: Liked.
Did I finish?: I did -- took some time, but it was worth it!
One-sentence summary: A detailed look at life in Singapore, from the late 1920s through the 1940s, through the viewpoints of three very different Singaporeans.
Reading Challenges:Historical Fiction, South Asian

Do I like the cover?: Eh -- it's okay. I would have preferred a black and white photo of Singapore, perhaps, something that better represented the place of the story rather than one of the characters.

I'm reminded of...: Nevil Shute

First line: On the journey they spoke about the island, a pinprick on the great body of Asia.

Buy, Borrow, or Avoid?: Borrow -- but immediately start reading because you'll need some time to dig in!

Why did I get this bo…

Mailbox Monday, November 28

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Seen both at Mailbox Monday -- hosted in December at Let Them Read Books -- and The Story Siren, my Mailbox Monday/In My Mailbox on a Sunday, as usual. Shaking off my post-holiday binge (and no, it wasn't the turkey that did me in!), I'm pretty delighted by my most recent arrivals. Have you read any of these?  What did you get?


For Review



Island of Wings by Karin Altenberg
The King's Agent by Donna Russo Morin
The Western Lit Survival Kit: An Irreverent Guide to the Classics, from Homer to Faulkner by Sandra Newman

Won



Arcadia by Lauren Groff, thanks to the publisher

Winners!

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Apologies for missing last week's winner -- real life (especially Thanksgiving prep) slowed me down but happily, it resulted in a good week. Work was fun, the celebrating was fun, and the food was fabu! I'm happy to announce giveaway winners, for last week and this week.




The winner of Jane Austen Made Me Do It is ... Jenna of Literature & a Lens!

The winner of A Train in Winter is ... Amy of HerStory!

The winner of The Personal History of Rachel DuPree ... Jill of Rhapsody in Books!

Congrats to the winners! I've got three open giveaways and more coming, so check out my giveaway page for details!

The Doll by Daphne du Maurier

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Title:The Doll: The Lost Short Stories
Author: Daphne du Maurier

Genre: Fiction (Short Stories / British / 1930s / 1940s / Relationships)
Publisher/Publication Date: Harper Paperbacks (11/22/2011)
Source:TLC Book Tours

Rating: Liked.
Did I finish?: Yes!
One-sentence summary: Thirteen quirky, creepy, humorous, and atmospheric short stories by the author of Rebecca.
Reading Challenges:British Books

Do I like the cover?: I think so -- it sort of creepies me out, which is good, but this book is more dark humor than dark horror, so I don't know if it fits entirely...

I'm reminded of...: Anaïs Nin, Dorothy Parker

First line: No one can call me an insensitive woman. From 'The Limpet'

Did... I cackle with delight more than once?: YES. Du Maurier's sharp look at clergy and couples was hilarious and right on target, and I snickered like a weirdo on the train because it was that good.

Did... I make my wife read this immediately after I finished?: YES. I had to share my delight, and t…

The Conference of the Birds by Peter Sis

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Title:The Conference of the Birds
Author: Peter Sís

Genre: Fiction (Poetry / Illustrated / Sufi / Meditation /
Publisher/Publication Date: The Penguin Press (10/27/2011)
Source:TLC Book Tours

Rating: Liked.
Did I finish?: Yes, very quickly.
One-sentence summary: A gorgeously illustrated meditation on self, spirituality, and knowledge.

Do I like the cover?: I do, although it is very restrained compared to the gorgeous art inside.

I'm reminded of...: Thich Nhat Hanh,

First line: When the poet Attar woke up one morning after an uneasy dream, he realized that he was a hoopoe bird...

Buy, Borrow, or Avoid?: Buy because you're not going to want to give this one back!

Why did I get this book?: Luscious illustrations, poetry, and ruminations on spirituality -- sign me up!

Review: Like everyone else who has touched this book, the first thing I'm going to gush about is just how ridiculously gorgeous it is. It's a treat to hold, a very visceral reminder to any reader of the magic contain…

Friday Reads, and it's chilly out...

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After starting the week at nearly 70, this week ends with the promise of snow. Oh, New England, don't ever change.

My FridayReads for this confused, cold, possibly snowy, likely rainy weekend-before-a-holiday is The Doll: The Lost Short Stories by Daphne du Maurier. So far, it is so good, and I'm in love. Du Maurier's Rebecca is one of my top ten desert island I-will-love-this-book-for-forever books so I'm unsurprised to find I'm enjoying these short stories (trivia: Du Maurier wrote 'The Birds' which was turned in to the Hitchcock film, although the two have little in common with each other other than the title).

What are you reading this weekend?

In the Forests of the Night by Kersten Hamilton

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Title:In the Forests of the Night (Goblin Wars #2)
Author: Kersten Hamilton

Genre: Fiction (Young Adult / Celtic Mythology / Supernatural-Paranormal / Chicago / High School)
Publisher/Publication Date: Clarion (10/22/2011)
Source:NetGalley

Rating: Liked!
Did I finish?: Oh yes -- you couldn't stop me!
One-sentence summary: Teenaged Teagan battles the goblin world as it encroaches on her world while juggling high school, a job, college applications, and one very mean social worker.
Reading Challenges:E-Books

Do I like the cover?: Eh, I'm not wild about it, but like the first book's cover, it suggests the art that Teagan's mother might have created, so it fits in that regard.

First line: Tears were spilling down Teagan Wylltson's cheeks as she went up the stairs.

Did... I often have snicker fits on the subway while reading?: YES. As with the first book, Hamilton peppers the story with fabulous sarcasm and snark, and I love it. The Wylltsons and friends are my kind of people.

Interview with Caroline Moorehead

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Last week I reviewed the powerful, fascinating and moving A Train in Winter: An Extraordinary Story of Women, Friendship, and Resistance in Occupied France.  Caroline Moorehead has long been a favorite author of mine -- her biography on Martha Gellhorn is brilliant! -- and so I'm delighted to share my interview with her.  Read on to learn more about her writing, A Train in Winter, and what she does when she's not writing.  There's also another chance to win a copy of A Train in Winter.

You've written a number of biographies as well as non-fiction books about international human rights and justice. What makes a person or topic a juicy enough subject for a book?

My best subjects combine social history, archives that have not been much used, and interviews with people who remember the events - but only just. I like writing about people who have not been too much written about (Martha Gellhorn, Lucy de la Tour du Pin), or doing historical subjects which lie just at the e…

Mozart's Last Aria by Matt Rees

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Title:Mozart's Last Aria: A Novel
Author: Matt Rees

Genre: Fiction (Historical / Murder Mystery / 18th Century / Vienna / Historical Figure Fictionalized / Conspiracy)
Publisher/Publication Date: Harper Perennial (11/1/2011)
Source:TLC Book Tours

Rating: Okay.
Did I finish?: I did.
One-sentence summary: Mozart's sister travels to Vienna after her brother's unexpected death to discover his final work might have stirred up danger and caused his demise.
Reading Challenges:Historical Fiction

Do I like the cover?: I do -- it's super pretty but is completely not relevant to the book!

I'm reminded of...: Kate Mosse, Sena Jeter Naslund, M.J. Rose

First line: When she sang, it was hard to imagine death was so near.

Did... I immediately zip to YouTube to find all the music referenced in this novel?: YES. Especially since Rees makes it clear the story arc was influenced by a specific piano sonata, I had to listen to see if it echoed the novel's feel.

Buy, Borrow, or Avoid?: Borrow …

Winners!

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Finally: a sunny day after cold and rain!  Already the weekend is looking up!  Today I've got a metric ton of giveaway winners, too, so...



The winner of Wings was ... Margaret!

The winner of You Are Not So Smart is ... Steph of Bella's Book Shelf!

The winner of Irrepressible is ... Serena of Savvy Verse & Wit!

Congrats to the winners! As always, check out my current giveaways and keep an eye out for the ones coming this week!

Friday Reads and I'm all over the place...

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I'm juggling two wildly different books for FridayReads and the weekend: A Different Sky by Meira Chand (historical set in 1920s-1950s Singapore) and In the Forests of the Night by Kersten Hamilton (contemporary YA featuring a sturdy heroine with goblin blood). The differing reads suit my differing moods. It's been a rough week and sadly, my weekend doesn't promise to be very quiet, so I'm just hoping I can get through next week and survive until the Thanksgiving holiday (when I'll have four days off!).  Needless to say, I'm counting down the days!

What are you reading this weekend?

The Personal History of Rachel DuPree by Ann Weisgarber

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Title:The Personal History of Rachel DuPree
Author: Ann Weisgarber

Genre: Fiction (Historical / South Dakota / African Americans / Pioneer Homesteaders / 1910s / early 20th century)
Publisher/Publication Date: Penguin (7/ 26/2011)
Source:TLC Book Tours

Rating: Liked to love -- wonderful book!
Did I finish?: I did!
One-sentence summary: The struggles of an African-American family in 1917 on their drought-dried ranch in South Dakota.
Reading Challenges:Historical Fiction

Do I like the cover?: I do -- it very beautifully captures the sense of the story (although it vaguely reminds me of a YA novel, which this isn't.)

I'm reminded of...: Sigrid Undset

First line: I still see her, our Liz, sitting on a plank, dangling over that well.

Did... I blow past my stop during my commute?: YES! Another book so engrossing I looked up only when the train stopped and I realized I'd gone to the end of the line! But I didn't mind -- circling back gave me more time to read!

Did... I do a double take w…

Interview with Laurel Ann Nattress

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Over the last few weeks I've been ending my day with a story or two from the Austen-inspired collection Jane Austen Made Me Do It.  I enjoyed the escape and found the stories amusing, charming, diverting, and fun.  I was delighted when Laurel Ann Nattress, editor of the book and Austenprose.com blogger, agreed to be interviewed.  Please read on to learn more about her, her blog and this anthology, and what she does when she's not blogging.  There's also an opportunity to win a copy of Jane Austen Made Me Do It.

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Hi Audra, it is such a pleasure to be here at one of my favorite blogs, Unabridged Chick during my Grand Tour of the blogosphere in celebration of the release of my new Austen-inspired anthology, Jane Austen Made Me Do It.

What was the first Jane Austen novel you read? How about the first Austen-inspired novel?

Pride and Prejudice of course! It was 1980 and I had just seen the new BBC/PBS adaptation of P&P by Fay Weldon on Masterpiece Theatre. I has s…

A Train in Winter by Caroline Moorehead

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Title:A Train in Winter: An Extraordinary Story of Women, Friendship, and Resistance in Occupied France
Author: Caroline Moorehead

Genre: Non-Fiction (WWII / Vichy France / Nazis / Biography / French Resistance / Women Revolutionaries)
Publisher/Publication Date: Harper (11/8/2011)
Source:TLC Book Tours

Rating: Liked.
Did I finish?: I did!
One-sentence summary: The story of 230 women who, during WWII, were rounded up for participating in the French Resistance and imprisoned before being shipped in a cattle train to Auschwitz in 1943.
Reading Challenges:British Books

Do I like the cover?: I do -- I always love these kind of dramatic black-and-white photographs -- but I don't know if it fits the book exactly. The British/Canadian cover comes closer to conveying the friendship aspect of this book, although I think it's too cheery.

First line: On 5 January 1942, a French police inspector named Rondeaux, stationed in the 10th arrondissement of Paris, caught sight of a man he believed to be…

Jane Austen Made Me Do It edited by Laurel Ann Nattress

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Title:Jane Austen Made Me Do It: Original Stories Inspired by Literature's Most Astute Observer of the Human Heart
Author: Laurel Ann Nattress, editor

Genre: Fiction (Short Stories / Jane Austen / Austen-Inspired / Historical Figure Fictionalized / Regency / Contemporary)
Publisher/Publication Date: Ballantine Books (10/11/2011)
Source: The editor.

Rating: Liked.
Did I finish?: Yes - a few stories a night before bed, with cocoa -- perfection!
One-sentence summary: Twenty-two short stories inspired by Jane Austen's novels and life.
Reading Challenges:British Books, Historical Fiction

Do I like the cover?: I do -- it's bold albeit a bit pink (but since I like pink that works for me) -- I appreciate the lack of curlique-ish font.

First line: A wedding must always be an occasion for joy, except when the husband is unwise enough to come under his wife's influence. from “Nothing Less Than Fairy-land,” by Monica Fairview

Buy, Borrow, or Avoid?: Borrow or buy, depending on your passion …

Mailbox Monday, Nov 7

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Seen both at Mailbox Monday and The Story Siren, my Mailbox Monday/In My Mailbox on a Sunday, as usual. I whined about my tiresome week on Friday but I'm happy to say things have gotten better, hooray! All the fabulous books I got helped. Super excited about these new arrivals. Have you read any of these?  What did you get?

For Review




The Doll: The Lost Short Stories by Daphne du Maurier
The Printmaker's Daughter: A Novel by Katherine Govier
Bridge of Scarlet Leaves by Kristina McMorris
Mozart's Last Aria: A Novel by Matt Rees
The Personal History of Rachel DuPree by Ann Weisgarber

Won



Wildflower Hill by Kimberley Freeman, thanks to Raging Bibliomania!

Purchased/Swapped/Gifted



Tarot for Writers by Corrine Kenner
The Sisters Brothers by Patrick deWitt (thanks Books, Personally!)

Winners!

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Two giveaway winners this weekend -- one from last week and one from this week!

The winner of Waiting for Robert Capa is ... Laura H.!

The winner of Maman's Homesick Pie is ... Kirsten!

Congrats to the winners! If you didn't win, check out my open giveaways!

Friday Reads and sunnier days

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Last weekend we were hit with an unexpected nor'easter and the heavy snow broke a tree branch onto our car! We didn't lose power (even though the branch pulled down wires) but our car is totaled. So I've been dealing with insurance stuff all week and escaping into reading when I can (the fluffy and fun Jane Austen Made Me Do It: Original Stories Inspired by Literature's Most Astute Observer of the Human Heart helped a lot!). I'm looking forward to a milder weekend with lots more reading!

My FridayReads for this week is A Train in Winter: An Extraordinary Story of Women, Friendship, and Resistance in Occupied France by Caroline Moorehead, which is just marvelous and moving. (I teared up on the train when I started it!) Although intense, it reads quickly, and I'm captivated. Can't wait to share my review next week.

What are you reading this weekend? And are you facing good or ugly weather?

ETA: I like the Book Beginnings meme, so here's the beginn…

To Join the Lost by Seth Steinzor

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Title:To Join the Lost
Author: Seth Steinzor

Genre: Poetry (Contemporary / Hell / Current Events / Politics / Social Commentary / Satire)
Publisher/Publication Date: Antrim House (5/1/2010)
Source:TLC Book Tours

Rating: Okay, to liked (at moments) and eh (at other moments)
Did I finish?: I did, in about three days!
One-sentence summary: A middle-aged agnostic-Jewish-Buddist American travels to Hell with Dante.
Reading Challenges:Fearless Poetry

Do I like the cover?: Actually, I rather do -- it kind of fits the feel of Steinzor's writing style!

First line: Midway through my life's journey, I found myself/lost in a dark place, a tangle of hanging/vines or cables or branches -- so dark! -- festooning/larger solid looming walls or/trucks or rocks or rubble, and strange stapes/moving through the mist, silent or/howling, scuffling through the uneven dirt or/dropping from the blotchy sky like/thicker clouds, so close sometimes I ducked in/fright so that they never quite touched me.

Did... I ve…

Interview with Stephanie Dray

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Stephanie Dray's series about Cleopatra's daughter Selene captivated me, first with Lily of the Nile, then with Song of the Nile.   I'm excited to say Ms Dray has confirmed there will be a third book in this series (happy news since I'm not ready to let Selene go!).  To my delight, Ms Dray agreed to be interviewed; read on to learn more about her writing practice, her newest book, and what she does when she's not writing.

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

Oh gosh, this is the most embarrassing question! I was probably a teenager when I started actually putting plots on paper. My first story was a romance about young angsty gymnasts who were either sleeping together or trying to kill one another with knives. I knew I had a future in writing, however, because my sister yelled at me, “You left Mitch bleeding on the porch and now I’ll never know what happened to him!”

Do you have any writing rituals or routines?

I usually make a soundtrack for whate…