Showing posts from February, 2012

The Turning of Anne Merrick by Christine Blevins

Title:The Turning of Anne Merrick
Author: Christine Blevins

Genre: Fiction (Historical / American Revolution / 18th century / Historical Figures Fictionalized / Women in War / Love Triangle)
Publisher/Publication Date: Berkley Trade Publishing (2/7/2012)
Source:Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours

Rating: Loved!
Did I finish?: Yes -- inhaled this one in days!
One-sentence summary: Widow Anne Merrick disguises herself as a loyal Tory among English troops during their campaign to Albany while her true love fights with the American rebels.
Reading Challenges:Historical Fiction

Do I like the cover?: Yes! First, the woman has her whole head, hurrah! And I like -- nay, love -- her dress. And she's sort of unusual looking for a histfic cover model, I think, which endears the cover to me even more!

I'm reminded of...: Diana Gabaldon, Sandra Gulland, Georgette Heyer

First line: In the distance, the resound of ax iron biting into wood echoed up from the valley floor, adding ringing harmony to t…

The King's Agent by Donna Russo Morin

Title:The King's Agent
Author: Donna Russo Morin

Genre: Fiction (Historical / 1500s / Italy / Florence / Art / Conspiracy)
Publisher/Publication Date: Kensington (3/1/2012)
Source:Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours

Rating: Okay to liked.
Did I finish?: I did.
One-sentence summary: A modest noblewoman with a secret and an honorable, patriotic thief take a jaunty journey, inspired by Dante's masterpiece, in search of a sculpture that might change everything.
Reading Challenges:Historical Fiction

Do I like the cover?: I do -- it's pretty -- but I hate the truncated head shot and it doesn't exactly fit the story (other than imply, I presume, the heroine). I would have loved one of the pieces of art mentioned in the story, or something alluding to Dante's works -- anything but the bland costumed lady!

I'm reminded of...: Emilio Salgari

First line: His hands quivered ever so slightly.

Do... I like the author's blog?: YES. Donna Russo Morin shares historical tidbits and…

Interview with Nancy Bilyeau

From the first line, I was completely taken by Nancy Bilyeau's intriguing Tudor novel, The Crown.  Following a noblewoman-turned-nun, this novel had everything I adore in a good book.  I'm excited to share my interview with Nancy Bilyeau, so read on to learn more about her writing, her book, and what she does when she's not reading.  Bonus: giveaway!

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

I wrote stories in high school but I don't remember any of them now. Then there is a huge gap until I attempted fiction in the last seven years. My first novel is The Crown. But before that I wrote a short story in a Gotham Writer's Workshop class. The plot revolved around an American woman going to a cabin on a lake in Canada with her Canadian boyfriend to meet his family. Because it's me writing this, there are rivalries and drinking and illicit sexual encounters and finally a drug overdose. LOL.

Do you have any writing rituals or routines?

Not ritual exactly,…

In my Mailbox Monday, February 27

Seen both at Mailbox Monday -- hosted in February at Metro Reader -- and The Story Siren, my Mailbox Monday/In My Mailbox.  I think I've finally shaken of my cold -- hooray! -- and my relishing my nights of reading again (instead of, like, wheezing myself to sleep at 9pm).

For Review

Molly Make-Believe by Eleanor Hallowell Abbott
Clair de Lune: A Novel by Jetta Carleton
A Partial History Of Lost Causes: A Novel by Jennifer Dubois
The Garden of Evening Mists by Twan Eng Tan
We Bury the Landscape by Kristine Ong Muslim
People Who Eat Darkness: The True Story of a Young Woman Who Vanished from the Streets of Tokyo--and the Evil That Swallowed Her Up by Richard Lloyd Parry


Next To Love: A Novel by Ellen Feldman, thanks to Random House Secret Read


This week four giveaways ended -- really good ones, too! -- so I'm excited to announce the winners.

First, my Jennifer Haigh-stravaganza!

The winner of Faith is... Brooke!

The winner of Baker Towers is ... Anna of Diary of an Eccentric!

I've also got winners for two more awesome books:

The winner of Gillespie and I is ... Irene!

The winner of The Kama Sutra is ... Terri C.!

Congrats to the winners! If you didn't win, check out my open giveaways -- currently five now, and more coming next week!

Friday Reads and being frustrated...

So, I had a review scheduled for today but had to bump it as we've been internet-less for a few days at home. The repair tech just left, and hallelujah!, we've got internet again. It's shameful how badly I need my internetz.

However, I got a good chunk of reading done while repairs were underway. Today's Friday Read is The King's Agent by Donna Russo Morin.  Super fun, very dramatic, a little silly, and perfect for my chilly weekend.

What are you reading this weekend?

The Technologists by Matthew Pearl

Title:The Technologists
Author: Matthew Pearl

Genre: Fiction (Historical / 1860s / Boston / MIT / Scientific Thriller / Historical Figure Fictionalized)
Publisher/Publication Date: Random House (2/21/2012)
Source:TLC Book Tours

Rating: Okay to liked.
Did I finish?: I did!
One-sentence summary: The first class of MIT faces prejudice, fear, and accusations of black magic as weird technological disasters plague 1860s Boston.
Reading Challenges:Historical Fiction

Do I like the cover?: I don't think I have strong feelings about it, although I'm leaning toward 'eh' on it.

First line: Its proud lines intermittently visible through the early morning fog, the Light of the East might have been the most carefree ship that ever floated into Boston.

Do... I love Matthew Pearl's extras?: YES. His website has photographs of some of the characters as well as a prequel available for download.

Am... I totally keen to prowl around MIT now?: YES. I'm deeply saddened that I don't know an…

When A Man Marries by Mary Roberts Rinehart

Title:When A Man Marries
Author: Mary Roberts Rinehart

Genre: Fiction (1910s / Socialite / Domestic Comedy / Secret Identity / Romance)
Publisher/Publication Date: Legacy Vintage Collection (2/14/2012)
Source: The publisher

Rating: Loved!
Did I finish?: Yes, I inhaled this one.
One-sentence summary: Socialite Kit McNair is convinced to play the wife of a rich friend when his fashionable dinner party is crashed by his even richer aunt and much drama ensues.
Reading Challenges:E-books

Do I like the cover?: I do -- it's rather sweet, which matches the mood of the novel, and hints at a scene...sort of.

I'm reminded of...: F. Scott Fitzgerald, Janet Mullany

First line: When the dreadful thing occurred that night, everyone turned on me.

Did... I develop a hot crush on both our narrator, Kit, and the object of her love/hate, Tom Harbison?: YES. Both were charming and dramatic and intense and fun and romantic and silly and totally hot (in my mind's eye).

Did... I have 97 bookmarks out of 15…

Teaser Tuesday, February 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
It's been a long time since I shared a teaser, but I haven't broken out of my habit of including more than two sentences. I can't help this -- this book is hilarious and begs to be quoted at length!  Written in 1910, When a Man Marries by Mary Roberts Rinehart is decidedly modern in feel -- banter, silly mixups, improbable circumstances -- but also reminds me a bit of F. Scott Fitzgerald -- lots of wealthy people behaving ridiculously.  Our narrator, Kit, pretends to be the wife of a friend to keep the friend's wealthy aunt from discovering he's divorced.  Then the ex…

Before I Go To Sleep by S.J. Watson

Title:Before I Go To Sleep
Author: S.J. Watson

Genre: Fiction (Contemporary / Thriller / Amnesia / Unreliable Narrator / UK)
Publisher/Publication Date: Harper Paperbacks (2/7/2012)
Source:TLC Book Tours

Rating: Okay.
Did I finish?: I did -- I was too petrified to stop!
One-sentence summary: A woman wakes to find herself in her 40s without a memory of her last twenty years or so, and each day she starts over trying to untangle the mystery of how it happened.

Do I like the cover?:I hate it, but I actually think it fits the book very well, and it's creepy and striking.  So...maybe I like it!

I'm reminded of...: Jennifer McMahon

First line: The bedroom is strange.

Buy, Borrow, or Avoid?: Borrow, especially if you're facing a gloomy weekend (weather-wise): the ambiance will make this even creepier!

Why did I get this book?: Some heavy hitters blurbed this book positively -- Dennis Lehane, Lionel Shriver, Anita Shreve -- so I figured I'd give it a try!

Review: Last year, I read somet…

Mailbox Monday, February 20

Seen both at Mailbox Monday -- hosted in February at Metro Reader -- and The Story Siren, my Mailbox Monday/In My Mailbox.  I'm sick again -- can you believe it?!  But another amazing week of arrivals perked me up!  What did you get this week? Read any of these?

For Review

A Wedding in Haiti by Julia Alvarez
The Sumerton Women by D.L. Bogdan
Coming of the Storm: Book One of Contact: The Battle for America by W. Michael Gear, Kathleen O'Neal Gear
Fire the Sky: Book Two of Contact: The Battle for America by W. Michael Gear, Kathleen O'Neal Gear
A Searing Wind: Book Three of Contact: The Battle for America by W. Michael Gear, Kathleen O'Neal Gear
The Receptionist by Janet Groth
The Year of the Gadfly by Jennifer Miller
Girl Reading by Katie Ward
Elegy for Eddie by Jacqueline Winspear
The Mapping of Love and Death by Jacqueline Winspear


Promise the Night by Michaela MacColl, thanks to Stiletto Storytime


An Arsonist's Guide To Writers' Homes In New England:…


Just one giveaway ending this week!

The winner of From the Memoirs of a Non-Enemy Combatant is ... Kathy of Bermudaonion!

If you didn't win, no worries -- I have a ton of open giveaways!

The Crown by Nancy Bilyeau

Title:The Crown
Author: Nancy Bilyeau

Genre: Fiction (Tudor / Reformation / 16th century / Nuns / Religious Conspiracy)
Publisher/Publication Date: Touchstone Publishing (1/10/2012)
Source:Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours

Rating: Liked immensely/basically loved.
Did I finish?: I did -- zoomed through this one without stop!
One-sentence summary:
Reading Challenges:E-books, Historical Fiction, NetGalley

Do I like the cover?: I love it. Even though it sort of has a The DaVinci Code-ish feel to it, I find it striking and unusual for a Tudor-set hist fic.

I'm reminded of...: Mary Doria Russell

First line: When a burning is announced, the taverns off Smithfeld order extra barrels of ale, but when the person to be executed is a woman and one of noble birth, the ale comes by the cartload.

Buy, Borrow, or Avoid?: Borrow or buy -- this one is worth getting. History, action, unique take on a popularly novelized time, and great storytelling.

Why did I get this book?: The cover, plus I love novels w…

The Garden Intrigue by Lauren Willig

Title:The Garden Intrigue
Author: Lauren Willig

Genre: Fiction (Historical / Regency / Napoleon / France / Ex-pats / Historical Figure Fictionalized / Contemporary / Academia Setting)
Publisher/Publication Date: Dutton Adult (2/16/2012)
Source: TLC Book Tours

Rating: Really, really liked!
Did I finish?: I did, super fast.
One-sentence summary: British spies in Napoleonic France, a contemporary American historian struggling with love and vocation, and a mysterious invention that might change history all come together in this breezy novel.
Reading Challenges:Historical Fiction

Do I like the cover?: I loathe it. Other books in the series featured art but these newer ones have the awkward, headless model thing going and this weird grocery store romance cover vibe.

I'm reminded of...: Janet Mullaney, Carol K. Carr

First line: "A little to the left....A little to the...No!"

Do... I absolutely adore Lauren Willig's website?: YES. A section detailing the artist and painting title…

Interview with Anne Clinard Barnhill

Last week I read Anne Clinard Barnhill's exploration of Anne Boleyn's reign in her novel At the Mercy of the Queen. Inspired by her real-life ancestors and her interest in the Tudors, her first novel is a coming-of-age story in a time and place fraught with dangers.  I'm excited to share my interview with her; read on the learn more about her, her writing, and what she does when she's not writing!  (Plus, there's another opportunity to win a copy of her book!)

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

Oh my, that's a tough one--I've been telling stories since I was quite young. I'd say my very first story was about a young girl who discovers an old ring in the farmland surrounding her new Virginia home, takes it home, cleans it up and begins to wear it. As she wears it, she begins to change--she stays in her room, reading about history, particularly the Civil War. She dresses strangely, in longer and longer skirts. The ring haunts he…

The Baker’s Daughter by Sarah McCoy

Title:The Baker’s Daughter
Author: Sarah McCoy

Genre: Fiction (Historical / WWII / Germany / Nazis / Contemporary / Immigration / Texas / Bakeries)
Publisher/Publication Date: Crown (1/24/2012)
Source:TLC Book Tours

Rating: Okay to liked.
Did I finish?: I did -- I was halfway through this book without realizing it -- it reads very fast!
One-sentence summary: Parallel stories of two women facing their own grey areas in life -- Elsie, a German woman during WWII, and Reba, a contemporary American woman dating a Border Patrol agent.
Reading Challenges:Historical Fiction, Immigrant Stories

Do I like the cover?: I do! I don't think it has anything to do with the story at all, but it's wicked pretty!

I'm reminded of...: Camille Noe Pagan

First line: Long after the downstairs oven had cooled to the touch and the upstairs had grown warm with bodies cocooned in cotton sheets, she slipped her feet from beneath the thin coverlet and quietly made her way through the darkness, neglecting her slip…

Ragnarok by A.S. Byatt

Title:Ragnarok: The End of the Gods
Author: A.S. Byatt

Genre: Fiction (Norse Mythology / WWII / Childhood)
Publisher/Publication Date: Grove Press (2/1/2012)

Rating: Liked with hardcore swooning.
Did I finish?: Yes -- savored over a week.
One-sentence summary: A young girl experiences

Do I like the cover?: I do although I don't think it captures the feel of the story, either Byatt's little girl or the Norse mythology.

I'm reminded of...: Jeanette Winterson

First line: There was a thin child, who was three years old when the world war began.

Do... I love the Canongate Myth series so hardcore?: YES. I'd elope with it if I weren't already married and it was legal.

Did... I bookmark so many passages because the language was amazing?: YES. 53 of 193 pages were bookmarked because of some gorgeous, delicious turn-of-phrase, and that was me limiting myself!!

Did... I seriously fall in love with line after line?: YES. I struggled to limit myself with my GoodReads s…

At the Mercy of the Queen by Anne Clinard Barnhill

Title:At the Mercy of the Queen: A Novel of Anne Boleyn
Author: Anne Clinard Barnhill

Genre: Fiction (Historical / Tudors / Reformation England / Historical Figures Fictionalized)
Publisher/Publication Date: St. Martin's Griffin (1/3/2012)
Source:Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours

Rating: Okay.
Did I finish?: I did -- this reads quickly!
One-sentence summary: Young Madge Shelton is brought to the glittering court of Anne Boleyn, where she finds love, lust, and court intrigue in spades.
Reading Challenges:A to Z Reading Challenge, Historical Fiction

Do I like the cover?: I don't hate it -- I think the cover model looks a bit like Natalie Portman, which is kind of distracting.

First line: Already the grassy fields surrounding Hever Castle were greening, though Easter was several weeks away.

Buy, Borrow, or Avoid?: Borrow.

Why did I get this book?: I was intrigued by the familiar Tudor tale seen through the eyes of a lesser known cousin.

Review: Despite my love of hist fic, the Tudors a…

Kama Sutra by Vatsyayana

Title:Kama Sutra
Author: Vatsyayana, A.N.D. Haksar (Translator)

Genre: Non-Fiction
Publisher/Publication Date: Penguin Classics (1/31/2012)
Source: The publisher

Rating: Liked.
Did I finish?: I did!
One-sentence summary: A new translation of the classic, notorious Kama Sutra -- without images, but still sexy.
Reading Challenges:Books in Translation, Dewey Decimal Challenge

Do I like the cover?: I adore the cover. It's gorgeous, naughty, playful, sinuous, sensual, striking, and provocative. I love the Beardsley-esque-ish style and the colors. The flipside has even naughtier poses!

First line: The Kama Sutra was written in India nearly two thousand years ago.

Buy, Borrow, or Avoid?: Borrow for sure -- learn what this notorious work really is about!

Why did I get this book?: I'm still 15 inside and am curious about sex!

Review: No need to feel mortified reading this book! Blessedly free of awkward 60s-ish drawn illustrations, Cosmo-esque cartoon figures, or really disquieting photograp…

Faith by Jennifer Haigh

Author: Jennifer Haigh

Genre: Fiction (Contemporary / Boston / Families / Catholic Church / Priest Abuse / Irish-Americans
Publisher/Publication Date: Harper Perennial (1/17/2012)
Source:TLC Book Tours

Rating: Liked a great deal.
Did I finish?: Yes -- I inhaled this book.
One-sentence summary: A woman reflects on her childhood, her family, and her brother, a Catholic priest, when he's accused of sexual abuse during Boston's 2002 abuse scandal.

Do I like the cover?: Eh -- I'm not wild about it. I vastly prefer the hardcover design which fits the familial theme of the story.

First line: Here is a story my mother has never told me.

Buy, Borrow, or Avoid?: Buy or borrow -- this is a WOW! book.

Why did I get this book?: After so many book bloggers I like raved about it, I knew I had to give it a try, despite the discomforting topic. I'm a sucker for anything set in Boston.

Review: Everything you've heard about this book is true. It's beautifully written, complic…