Showing posts from September, 2012

Mailbox Monday, Oct 1

My Mailbox Monday this week is made up of some interesting indies and more 2013 releases.  Quite excited about the mix of styles, themes, and pretty covers!  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?

For Review


A recommendation from my boss when I gushed to her about Beautiful Lies.

Friday Reads and rainy days

It is my favorite kind of weekend -- allegedly quiet, possibly rainy -- so my reading queue is quite ambitious!

My girlfriends and I decided to have a bookish dinner together later this month, and after much discussion, we landed on Mr. Churchill's Secretary by Susan Elia MacNeal. My wife and our foodie friends are quite keen to replicate a 1940s, WWII, rationing-era dinner. Me, I'm just excited to dine by candlelight! So I'm starting this one over the weekend to get food ideas. I've also got Sarah Jio's Blackberry Winter -- my first time reading her but I know many, many folks loved her Violets of March. And finally, to shake things up, I'm also reading Ironskin by Tina Connolly (I love the cover!). What are you reading this weekend?

Thanks to all who weighed in last week on my blogging etiquette question.  My blogger friend decided to slightly alter her review: she mentioned that Author X is a pseudonym, but removed the author's identity -- and also…

Interview with Deborah Swift

Earlier this week I reviewed Deborah Swift's wonderfully visceral and delightfully dramatic Restoration-era historical novel The Gilded Lily. I'm thrilled to share my interview with Deborah Swift, so read on to learn more about her and her writing, and be sure to check out the international giveaway at the end!

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

It was a macabre romantic novel written when I was a teenager about a farm girl that fell in love with a boy from a travelling fun-fair and left home to follow him around the country. It was pretty awful stuff, culminating in a fatal accident on the Waltzers! I kept it for ages under the bed gathering dust but finally threw it away when I realized how bad it was!

Do you have any writing rituals or routines?

I write every morning whilst my mind is uncluttered with other jobs. Although I have a laptop I like to write on my big old clunky computer. I always start the day with a large mug of tea. Always by me is a good s…

Fires of London by Janice Law

Title:Fires of London
Author: Janice Law

Genre: Fiction (Historical / WWII / 1940s/ London / Historical Figure Fictionalized / LGBT / Murder Mystery)
Publisher/Publication Date: Mysterious / Open Road Integrated Media (9/4/2012)
Source: NetGalley

Rating: Loved!
Did I finish?: I raced through this one!
One-sentence summary: Painter Francis Bacon becomes a snitch for police during World War II when he's tangled in a series of crimes, from illegal gambling to murder.
Reading Challenges:E-books, Historical Fiction, NetGalley

Do I like the cover?: I don't have strong feelings either way -- the sort of charcoal-y sketchiness of it is kind of evocative of an artist's quick rendition.

I'm reminded of...: Nicola Upson

First line: "Got a light?" I asked the bulky man silhouetted against the gray night sky and the faint glimmer of the Serpentine.

Do... I love the article the author wrote about why she wrote this novel?: YES. She answers, in her own words, " a…

The Gilded Lily by Deborah Swift

Title:The Gilded Lily
Author: Deborah Swift

Genre: Fiction (Historical / UK / 17th Century / London / Sibling Relationships / Criminal Activity / Intrigue / Social Climbing)
Publisher/Publication Date: Pan Macmillan (9/13/2012)
Source:Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours

Rating: Liked to love!
Did I finish?: I did -- raced through this one in two nights!
One-sentence summary: Two sisters in Restoration London struggle to avoid arrest, freezing to death, and other challenges in this evocative historical novel.
Reading Challenges:Historical Fiction

Do I like the cover?: Eh -- I don't hate it but it's just sort of ambigu-historical.

I'm reminded of...: Lynn Cullen, Sandra Gulland

First line: Anyone else would probably scream -- woken in the night like that, with a hand clamped over the mouth in the pitch black.

Do... I love that the author offers writer retreats at her house in a historical village in Lancaster, UK?: YES. It makes me wish I had a novel in the works and the funds to e…

Cascade by Maryanne O'Hara

Author: Maryanne O'Hara

Genre: Fiction (Historical / 1930s / 1940s / New England / Berkshires / Marriages / Domestic Fiction / Artistic Ambitions / Love Triangle / WWII / Great Depression / Small Town Life)
Publisher/Publication Date: Viking (8/16/2012)
Source: NetGalley

Rating: Loved.
Did I finish?: I did -- but I lingered. No rushing through this one!
One-sentence summary: During WWII, a married artist in a small Massachusetts town finds herself struggling to keep her identity as her town faces possible destruction.
Reading Challenges:A-to-Z, E-books, Historical Fiction, NetGalley

Do I like the cover?: I adore the cover. It is stunning. Go ahead, click for the hi-res version. Stunning.

I'm reminded of...: Karin Altenberg, April Bernard, Rosalind Brackenbury

First line: During his final days, William Hart was haunted by drowning dreams.

Do... I love the author's playlist for the novel?: YES. Wonderfully vintage-y, moody, and all linked up on Spotify!

Do... I love th…

Mailbox Monday, Sept 24

This week's (early) Mailbox Monday (hosted in September at BookNAround) is a diverse and interesting collection of arrivals. The 2013 releases are starting to come in -- kind of crazy to think that the new year is approaching!

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?

For Review


Won from Austen Authors

Thanks to Nancy at 2012 - The Year in Books


I totally and completely forgot to draw winners for the giveaways that ended last week, so here's a big ole winner post.

The winner of Summer of the Dancing Bear is ... Anna of Diary of an Eccentric!

The winner of Blood Eye is ... J.L. S.!

The winner of The Mirrored World is ... Heather of The Maiden's Court!

The winner of Lucky Bastard is ... Christina of A Reader of Fictions!

Congrats to the winners!  Everyone has been emailed and I'll redraw if I don't hear back from folks in about 48 hours or so (or whenever I remember).  If you didn't win, be sure to check out my current giveaways -- and as always, I have plenty more coming!

Friday Reads and blogging etiquette

Happy Friday!  It's like November here all of a sudden, all grey and rainy, which makes me want strong tea and thick books, and I'm a bit sad I'm at work.  Le sigh.  I plan to hole up all weekend though.  I'm reading a lot of historical fiction: The Gilded Lily by Deborah Swift (1660s, girls run away to London!) and The Map of Lost Memories: A Novel by Kim Fay (1920s treasure hunters!).  What are you reading this weekend?

I've got a blogging etiquette question to bounce off all of you.  A blogger friend posed this query to me, and she and I came up with one solution, but we both realized we don't know what prevailing attitudes might be, so...what do you think? 

Blogging friend reviewed a book by Author A, and upon going to Author A's website, noticed the author picture on the website was the same picture for Author X.  Blogger realized that Author A is a pseudonym for Author X, and said so in her review.  Author A/X emailed the blogger to say that it isn&#…

Beautiful Lies by Clare Clark

Title:Beautiful Lies
Author: Clare Clark

Genre: Fiction (Historical / 1880s / UK / Marriage / Domestic Fiction / Skeletons in the Closet / Victoriana / Political Thriller / London / Socialism / Photography)
Publisher/Publication Date: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (9/18/2012)
Source:TLC Book Tours

Rating: Looooooooooooooooooooooved.
Did I finish?: I did.
One-sentence summary: The exotic wife of a radical MP has to keep quiet the secrets of her past while honoring her desire for artistic exploration and recognition.
Reading Challenges:Historical Fiction, Victorian

Do I like the cover?: I luuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuurve it. I want a print of it. Might be my most favorite cover of the year so far.

I'm reminded of...: Jane Harris, Sadie Jones, Ami McKay

First line: The room was dark.

Buy, Borrow, or Avoid?: I think this is going to be a 'buy' -- it's big, and chunky and needs to be savored, and I suspect might even be a reread for some! (It will be for me!)

Why did I get this book?: Because des…

The Bookie’s Son by Andrew Goldstein

Title:The Bookie’s Son
Author: Andrew Goldstein

Genre: Fiction (New York City / Bronx / 1960s / Jewish-American / Family Saga / Coming-of-Age / Criminal Underworld / Family Conflict / Parental Conflict / First Sexual Encounter)
Publisher/Publication Date: (sixoneseven) books (5/1/2012)
Source:TLC Book Tours

Rating: Liked.
Did I finish?: I did!
One-sentence summary: In the summer of 1960, Bronx-native Ricky Davis confronts his father's involvement with the criminal underworld when he tries to earn enough money to pay of their family's debt.

Do I like the cover?: I do -- it was designed by the author's son and is quite evocative of the novel's mood, setting, and family focus.

First line: The day started uneventfully.

Am... I in swoons over discovering a new publisher?: YES -- especially because this is, I presume, a local press. 617 is the area code for Boston and I'm tickled by their name!

Buy, Borrow, or Avoid?: Borrow or buy if you like NYC as a character, strong family n…

Enchantment by Thaisa Frank Short Story Discussion

In 2010, Thaisa Frank's historical novel, Heidegger's Glasses, made my top ten favorite reads for that year. When Serena of Savvy Verse and Wit invited me to participate in a readalong of Frank's new short story collection, I had to say yes. (Been dying for Frank's next work!)

We're discussing one of Frank's stories today, "The Mapmaker", if you'd like to pop by; I'll be reviewing this volume later this month. (So far, I'm in love.)

Love, in Theory by E. J. Levy

Title:Love, in Theory
Author: E. J. Levy

Genre: Fiction (Short Stories / Relationships / Midwest / Single Women / Divorces / LGBT / Weddings / University Life)
Publisher/Publication Date: University of Georgia Press (9/15/2012)
Source:TLC Book Tours

Rating: Loved, in reality, not theory.
Did I finish?: I did, and I reread about half the stories!
One-sentence summary: Ten short stories on love, loss, and everything in between.

Do I like the cover?: I looooove the cover -- it's kind of like a mock flow chart identifying the various themes

I'm reminded of...: Aislinn Hunter, Tara L. Masih,

First line: It's not like we believed that they were the sons of God or anything, but for a while (before Dr. Davidson and all the publicity, before it became a story, when we were still just folks caught up in the mystery of the thing), we felt kind of special -- chosen, you might say -- to be host to the three Christs of Moose Lake, Minnesota., from 'The Three Christs of Moose Lake, Minnesota&…

Friday Reads and it's short

Oddly enough, this is like my Short Fiction Weekend -- my Friday/weekend reads this week are two short story collections.  The first is Love, in Theory: Ten Stories by E.J. Levy, which, I'll be honest, I'm a bit nervous about because one of the themes is adultery, and we know what a baby I am about that. The other collection is Enchantment: New and Selected Stories by Thaisa Frank which I'm very excited about -- I adored Frank's novel, Heidegger's Glasses, and I'm participating in a group read/discussion of stories from Enchantment, hosted by Serena at Savvy Verse & Wit.

What are you reading this weekend?

As It Is On Earth by Peter M. Wheelwright

Title:As It Is On Earth
Author: Peter M. Wheelwright

Genre: Fiction ( 1990s / 2000s / Academia / Family Saga / New England / University Life / Coming-of-Age )
Publisher/Publication Date: Fornite Books (9/13/2012)
Source: Author

Rating: Liked.
Did I finish?: I did!
One-sentence summary: In the last months of 1999, a 30-something New England professor

Do I like the cover?: I do -- nature and the New England landscape feature heavily in this novel.

I'm reminded of...: Cass Dalglish, Hans Koning, Sena Jeter Naslund

First line: There is an old story that a Bible was found in a wall cavity at a former Dominican Nunnery in San Cristobal de las Casas, State of Chiapas, Mexico.

Buy, Borrow, or Avoid?: Borrow or buy if you like poetic, mystical family fiction, a strong sense of place, philosophical ruminations and mundane concerns twisted together.

Why did I get this book?: The setting -- New England -- and the focus on family, legacy, love, and identity was too tempting to resist!

Review: Set in t…

Interview with S.G. Browne

Earlier in the month I read S.G. Browne's hilarious and zippy Lucky Bastard, a wry and breakneck novel about a man who can literally steal a person's luck. I'm thrilled to share my interview with Browne, so read on to learn more about him and his book, and be sure to enter my giveaway for a copy of Lucky Bastard!

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

The first short story I wrote for my creative writing class in college was about a college student who is halfway through writing a short story for his creative writing class that’s due the next day when his computer crashes, taking his story with it. (This was back in 1988, when hardly anyone owned a computer and there were no flash drives and everything was saved on 5 ¼ inch floppies.) So the main character borrows a typewriter and tries to recreate his story but grows frustrated and ends up making the fatal proclamation that he’d do anything to get his computer working again. Naturally he turns on the TV, …