Showing posts from August, 2012

Friday Reads and ignoring my queue

Sooooooooooooooooooooo excited for the long weekend (sorry non-USians who don't get Monday off!).  I'm still working my way through Tarzan, but have started Fires of London by Janice Law, historical murder mystery set it World War II London, and The Other Half of Me by Morgan McCarthy which seems a bit English-y and moody and dysfunctional family-y. Yum!

I'm all messed up in my review queue because I started two non-queue books because, I don't know, I'm crazy and they were good and .... yeah.  Just finished Maryanne O'Hara's Cascade -- unghfughhhhhh, amazing/good/bittersweet. Am still working on words for that one. 

The other surprise was Kimberly Brock's The River Witch -- a contemporary Southern fic that hooked me with the moodiness and lovely characters.  Two great reads but as a result, I've got to scramble this weekend to write reviews for the books I'm scheduled to review.  Oops!

So, what are you reading this weekend?

The Mirrored World by Debra Dean

Title:The Mirrored World
Author: Debra Dean

Genre: Fiction (Historical / Russia / St. Petersburg / 18th Century / Nobles / Marriage / Madness / Sainthood / Cousins)
Publisher/Publication Date: Harper (8/28/2012)
Source:TLC Book Tours

Rating: Loooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooove.
Did I finish?: Oh yes, inhaled this one!
One-sentence summary: The life of the 18th century Russian saint, Xenia, as told by her cousin.
Reading Challenges:Historical Fiction

Do I like the cover?: I do -- it's quite pretty -- but I don't think it captures the novel's story.

I'm reminded of...: Sandra Gulland, Kathryn Harrison, Elizabeth Loupas

First line: Yes, this was her house many years ago, when she was still Xenia.

Buy, Borrow, or Avoid?: Borrow or buy if you like Russian hist fic or royal hist fic -- this tale of semi-nobles and icy Russian landscapes is marvelous.

Why did I get this book?: I've heard nothing but great things about Dean's previous novel, The Madonnas of Leningrad, so I coul…

Blood Eye by Giles Kristian

Title:Blood Eye (Raven, Book 1)
Author: Giles Kristian

Genre: Fiction (Historical / 9th Century / Northern Europe / Vikings / Norseman / Religious Relics / Amnesia)
Publisher/Publication Date: Bantam (8/28/2012)
Source:TLC Book Tours / NetGalley

Rating: Okay to liked.
Did I finish?: I did.
One-sentence summary: Violent, cinematic saga of a 9th century man who finds his Norse
Reading Challenges:E-book, Historical Fiction, Immigrant Stories, NetGalley

Do I like the cover?: Eh -- it's fine. It looks like what it is -- masculine mass paperback cover of an adventure historical.

First line: The hearth is spewing more smoke than flame, seething angrily and causing some of the men to cough as they hunker down among the reindeer furs.

Do... I love that the author will answer reader questions on his website?: YES.

Do... I love that the author is a former pop star and actor slash model in addition to being a historical novelist?: YES. He is a cutie, too!

Do... I like the book trailer?: YES. I ra…

Summer of the Dancing Bear by Bianca Lakoseljac

Title:Summer of the Dancing Bear
Author: Bianca Lakoseljac

Genre: Fiction (Historical / Eastern Europe / 1960s / Coming-of-Age / Gypsies / Rural Life / Grandparents / First Love)
Publisher/Publication Date: Guernica Editions (6/12/2012)
Source: NetGalley

Rating: Liked a great deal -- loved at times!
Did I finish?: I did -- I luxuriated with this one!
One-sentence summary: The summer of 1960 -- with the mysterious disappearance of a neighbor's baby and the arrival of gypsies -- shapes Kata's life for years to come.
Reading Challenges:E-books, NetGalley

Do I like the cover?: I do -- it's a smidgen cheesy but it represents a specific character/scene and I do like that.

I'm reminded of...: David Rocklin

First line: Perched high up in the crown of an old cherry tree, eight-year-old Kata sat in her hideaway, humming a tune.

Buy, Borrow, or Avoid?: Borrow or buy if you like poignant coming-of-age stories, Eastern European fiction, or stories from the '60s.

Why did I get this book?:

Interview with Alex Bledsoe

Earlier in August I fell madly in love with Alex Bledsoe's medieval-y, noir-y hero, Eddie LaCrosse, first in The Sword-Edged Blonde and then in his newest novel, Wake of the Bloody Angel. I'm thrilled to share my Q&A with Alex Bledsoe -- I'm having a bit of a fangirl moment, I admit -- so read on to learn more about him, his writing, and what he does when he's not conjuring more adventures for Eddie.

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

There’s actually three answers to that.

The earliest thing I remember writing is turning a Batman comic book story into prose, using my dad's manual typewriter. I typed to the very edges of the page, both top to bottom and side to side. I don’t remember the plot, but I do know I got in trouble for using up all the ribbon, since my dad needed it to type up the minutes from the church session meetings. So even my very first story was an offense against God. :-)

I had delusions of becoming the next Geo…


Oofta -- getting ready to go back to work is a rough transition after so much time off. I'm quite spoiled now! Anyway, back to my regular schedule, starting with our winners for the week!

The winner of Diving Belles is ... Mabel S.

The winner of The Forrests is ... Anita Y.

The winner of The Orphan Master's Son is ... Shannon D.

Congrats to the winners! Winners have been emailed; if you didn't win, be sure to check out my other open giveaways.

Mistress of Mourning by Karen Harper

Title:Mistress of Mourning: A Novel
Author: Karen Harper

Genre: Fiction (Historical / 16th Century / London / UK / Candle-making / Royal Conspiracy / Henry VII / Tudors)
Publisher/Publication Date: NAL Trade (7/3/2012)
Source: The publisher.

Rating: Loved.
Did I finish?: I did.
One-sentence summary: Two grieving mothers -- Varina, a candle maker; and Elizabeth of York, Queen of England -- come together when an unexpected royal death exposes sedition, conspiracies, and more deaths.
Reading Challenges:Historical Fiction

Do I like the cover?: I don't hate it -- it's lovely seeing the two full figures of the women but I don't think either figure captures the two female leads.

I'm reminded of...: D.L. Bogdan, Sophie Perinot, Sandra Worth

First line: "Just think on it -- us making candles for the royal wedding," my brother-in-law, Gil, called to me from the door of the wax workshop.

Buy, Borrow, or Avoid?: Borrow or buy, especially if you like easy-to-inhale historical f…

Before the Rain by Luisita López Torregrosa

Title:Before the Rain: A Memoir of Love and Revolution
Author: Luisita López Torregrosa

Genre: Non-Fiction (Memoir / 1980s / Philippines / Journalist / Homosexuality / Romantic Affair )
Publisher/Publication Date: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (8/7/2012)
Source:TLC Book Tours

Rating: Okay to liked, depending on my mood.
Did I finish?: I did.
One-sentence summary: A newspaper editor's intense affair with a journalist during the violent elections between Marcos/Aquino in 1980s Philippines.

Do I like the cover?: I do -- it's so very striking and pretty, and doesn't sensationalize the romance between Torregrosa and her lover Elizabeth (although with those big ole O'Keefe-ian blossoms, there's certainly a sapphic suggestion).

I'm reminded of...: Jeanette Winterson

First line: In the years since that first letter came, postmarked New Delhi and written on pale lavender Claridges Hotel stationery, I have begun this story a hundred times, and each time I was afraid.

Buy, Borrow, or…

Interview with Adam Johnson

Earlier this month I was blown away by Adam Johnson's The Orphan Master's Son, a surreal, fantastical, dark, imaginative, chilling take on North Korea, love, delusions, commitment, and fantacisim. I'm excited to share my interview with him, so read on to learn more about his book, his writing, and what he doesn't when he's not reading.

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

In high school, I wrote a story from the perspective of several blades of grass as the lawn was being mowed. It was a very serious story that concerned the topics of indifference, conformity and surprise endings.

Do you have any writing rituals or routines?

I live near the University of California San Francisco, the state's only dedicated medical graduate school. I write in their medical library, which is open to the public, so many of my writing rituals have to do with sharing my writing space with the studious, the homeless and the mentally ill.

Was The Orphan Master's S…

The Siren of Paris by David LeRoy

Title:The Siren of Paris
Author: David LeRoy

Genre: Fiction (Historical / WWII / 1940s / Paris / Occupation / Concentration Camp)
Publisher/Publication Date: Self-published (2012)
Source:Promo 101 Book Promotions

Rating: Unfinished.
Did I finish?: I didn't.
One-sentence summary: An American art student finds himself changed when the Nazi-occupation of Paris forces him to make tough choices, ones that will impact him forever.
Reading Challenges:Historical Fiction

Do I like the cover?: I'm not wild about it -- while it certainly captures the romantic/femme fatale-y aspect of the story, I don't think it quite conveys the novel's focus on WWII Paris.

I'm reminded of...: M.L. Malcolm

First line: "May the Lord be with you," the priest's voice rang out to all gathered at Marc's graveside in September 1967.

Buy, Borrow, or Avoid?: If you're a WWII fic addict, this might be a good addition to your summertime reading.

Why did I get this book?: I can't resist W…

Mailbox Monday, August 20

This week's Mailbox Monday (hosted in August at 5 Minutes for Books) is a lovely want-to-spread-them-around-me pile of arrivals -- some serious eye-candy. To learn more about any book, click on a cover and the link will automatically open in a new tab/window.

What did you get?  Have any of these?

For Review


It's a steamy, rainy, pea-soup-y day in Boston, so I need a little cheering up.  Sharing these giveaway winners makes me happy!

The winner of House of Shadows is ... Jessie of Ageless Pages!

The winner of Miss Me When I'm Gone is ... techeditor!

The winner of The Age of Desire is ... Meg of Write Meg!

Congrats to the winners!  Winners have been emailed.  If you didn't win, be sure to check out my many open giveaways and keep reading this blog -- I have a very huge giveaway opening on Friday!

Friday Reads and I'm starting my staycation...

I have the good fortune of a metric ton of vacation days so I'm taking some time off for a little stay-at-home vacation! I plan, understandably, to fill my days with straight-up reading, a fringe of reviewing, and a ton of laying around and reading. (Did I say that already?)

I'm wading through four books at the moment because I can't commit: The Siren of Paris (historical novel, WWII, set in Paris); The Twelve Rooms of the Nile (historical novel, 1850, Nile River, fictitious meeting of Florence Nightingale and Gustave Flaubert!); A Case for Solomon: Bobby Dunbar and the Kidnapping That Haunted a Nation(non-fiction, 1912, a kidnapped boy is later claimed by two different set of parents); and Tarzan of the Apes (vintage fic, 1880s, monied son is raised by apes).

What are you planning to read this weekend?  Any opinions on these reads?

Telegraph Avenue by Michael Chabon

Title:Telegraph Avenue
Author: Michael Chabon

Genre: Fiction (California / Berkeley / Record Store / 1970s / 2000s / Place as Character / Music / Racial Identity / Cultural Identity / Parenthood)
Publisher/Publication Date: Harper (9/11/2012)
Source: The publisher.

Rating: Dislike / Unfinished
Did I finish?: I did not.
One-sentence summary: An indie record store in Berkeley, CA witnesses the trials, tribulations, battles, and victories of two families, one black and one white.

Do I like the cover?: Yes -- it perfectly captures the vibe of the book.

I'm reminded of...: Quentin Tarantino, Nick Hornby, Ann Patchett

First line: A white boy rode flatfoot on a skateboard, towed along, hand to shoulder, by a black boy pedaling a brakeless fixed-gear bike.

Buy, Borrow, or Avoid?: If you love Chabon, or Berkeley, then you'll probably want to read this.

Why did I get this book?: I was lucky enough to score a spot on the Telegraph AvenueReadalong, sponsored by Emily at As The Crowe Flies (and Read…

Interview with Julie K. Rose

Earlier this month I fell in love with Julie K. Rose's Oleanna, a wonderfully moving historical novel set in early 20th century Norway. I'm thrilled to share this interview with the author; read on to learn more about her and her writing, Oleanna, and what she does when she's not working on her novels. Be sure to check out the international giveaway as well!

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

Oh my lord. I think it was a school assignment in elementary school, and it was called Panzer the Super Dog, all about our German shepherd. Honestly, all I can remember about it is the drawing I did on the front, of the dog with a Superman cape. I expect he flew around and saved the world.

Do you have any writing rituals or routines?

I almost always write in the morning, because that's when my brain is most awake. I get up at 4:30 and try to get an hour or so in before I do my workout, and start my day job. I get my coffee, light one of my Zena Moon candles, …

Wake of the Bloody Angel by Alex Bledsoe

Title:Wake of the Bloody Angel
Author: Alex Bledsoe

Genre: Fiction (Fantasy / Pirates / Mystery /
Publisher/Publication Date: Tor Books (7/3/2012)
Source:TLC Book Tours / NetGalley

Rating: Liked a great deal.
Did I finish?: Yes -- I inhaled this one.
One-sentence summary: Sword-for-hire-with-a-heart-of-gold Eddie LaCrosse is hired by a friend to find her long lost amour, and learns her story is more complicated than he anticipated.
Reading Challenges:E-book, NetGalley

Do I like the cover?: You know, I don't care one way or the other -- it's pretty cheesy, but kind of glossy, too, and I'm really not feeling much.

I'm reminded of...: D.B. Jackson

First line: "There's a new client waiting to see you," Angelina said when I entered her tavern.

Do... I have a bit of a hot crush on our sword-for-hire Eddie LaCrosse?: YES. He can brag he's got at least one lesbian fangirl.

Buy, Borrow, or Avoid?: Borrow or buy -- this was another delightful entry in Bledsoe's wonde…

Mailbox Monday, August 13

A small but deeply satisfying and super eclectic Mailbox Monday this week (hosted in August at 5 Minutes for Books). To learn more about any book, click on a cover and the link will automatically open in a new tab/window. 

What did you get?  Have any of these?

For Review