Showing posts from 2013

Books Read in 2013


Edward Belfar, Wanderers
D.L. Bogdan, The Forgotten Queen
Carol K. Carr, India Black and the Rajah's Ruby
Stephanie Dray, The Princess of Egypt Must Die
Jade Kennedy, Silver Threads
Emma Newman, Between Two Thorns
Lisa O’Donnell, The Death of Bees
Chris Pavone, The Expats
B.N. Peacock, A Tainted Dawn
Phillip Rock, The Passing Bells
Sam Thomas, The Midwife's Tale


Melanie Benjamin, The Aviator's Wife
Maryka Biaggio, Parlor Games
Kit Brennan, Whip Smart: Lola Montez Conquers the Spaniards
Tara Conklin, The House Girl
Stephen Dobyns, The Burn Palace
Kevin Lynn Helmick, Driving Alone: A Love Story
Rita Leganski, The Silence of Bonaventure Arrow
Ludmila Petrushevskaya, There Once Lived a Girl Who Seduced Her Sister's Husband, and He Hanged Himself: Love Stories
Rod Rees, The Demi-Monde
Rod Rees, The Shadow Wars
Phillip Rock, A Future Arrived
Phillip Rock, Circles of Time
Alana White, The Sign of the Weeping Virgin


Anna Belfrage, Like Chaff in the Wind


While my Christmas was lovely, my wife and I were gifted with nasty colds that we can't shake.  We're both home and dragging ourselves around the house like, well, pathetic sick things!  Anyway...

The winner of Woman of Ill Fame is ... Meg @ A Bookish Affair!

Congrats! I don't have any open giveaways at the moment, but there are many more planned with the start of 2014.

Hope all of you have had lovely holidays, if you celebrate, and have safe and joyful New Year's celebrations! I'm grateful for all of you!  I'm sorry I've fallen behind on commenting on blogs, but I expect to catch up once I shake this cold.  

(And, on January 3, it'll be my fifth blogiversary!!  I'm going to try to do something awesome!)


It's a frantic weekend for me, being three days before Christmas, so I'm keeping this brief!

The winner of The Spirit Keeper is ... Xina!

The winner of Fires of London and The Prisoner of the Riviera is ... Natalie M.!

The winner of The Prisoner of the Riviera is ... Judith S.!

Congrats to the winners! Winners have been emailed and have until Friday to respond. Check out my current giveaway -- it might be the last for 2013 but I have many more coming up for 2014!

Weekends reads and getting festive...

Countdown to my winter holiday break! My workplace closes next Tuesday for a week, so I'm really looking forward to that.  I've got a massive holiday break reading queue in the works, starting with...

My weekend read is Mistress of the Wind by Michelle Diener. I'm an enormous fan of Diener's work, so I can't wait to see how she handles fantasy and a retelling of a favorite fairy tale of mine, East of the Sun, West of the Moon.

I've just finished two really fantastic books I can't squee about -- I'm blurbing them for Bloggers Recommend so you'll find out a little after the first. Then I'll be shouting about them nonstop.

I hope to get my top ten reads of 2013 posted on the 30th -- am still struggling with whittling down the list to ten!

What are you reading this weekend?

Interview with Erika Mailman

Yesterday I reviewed Erika Mailman's marvelous historical novel, Woman of Ill Fame, about a young prostitute in 19th-century San Francisco who struggles for more than her daily income.  I was captivated by this book from the first page, and I'm delighted to share my interview with Erika Mailman.  Read on to learn a little more about her, her writing, and what she does when she's not working on a book.  Be sure to enter the giveaway!

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

I think that was in third grade and had something to do with a group of girls who would ride ponies together. I remember stapling it together and illustrating it. How I wish I still had it!

Do you have any writing rituals or routines?

I used to don lipstick and sometimes a beret…I was tickled when I later learned about Chris Baty’s admonition to wear a Viking helmet (he’s the founder of National Novel Writing Month: I’m lucky in that I can actually write in noisy places like …

Woman of Ill Fame by Erika Mailman

Title:Woman of Ill Fame
Author: Erika Mailman

Genre: Fiction (Historical / 19th Century / San Francisco / Sex Worker / Murder Mystery / Serial Killer)
Publisher/Publication Date: (11/11/2013)
Source:Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours

Rating: Loved.
Did I finish?: I did -- I inhaled this one.
One-sentence summary: A young Boston prostitute makes her way to San Francisco during the 19th century gold rush, in search of her own fortune, but finds herself seeking a serial killer instead.
Reading Challenges:E-book, Historical Fiction

Do I like the cover?: I adore it -- so eye-catching!

First line: While the other passengers disembarked, I remained in the galley lying on a rice bag.

Buy, Borrow, or Avoid?: Buy, buy, buy!

Why did I get this book?: Was so deeply curious about the premise, plus I love 19th century West coast as a setting.

Review: From the first page of this delightful, delicious novel, our heroine Nora Simms makes no bones about who she is. A teenaged prostitute from Boston, Nora has …

A Rogue for All Seasons by Sara Lindsey

Title:A Rogue for All Seasons
Author: Sara Lindsey

Genre: Fiction (Historical / Romance / Regency)
Publisher/Publication Date: Sara Lindsey (6/1/2013)
Source: The author.

Rating: Liked a great deal.
Did I finish?: I raced through it gleefully!
One-sentence summary: A wallflower facing spinsterhood finds herself in a mock courtship with a stunning rogue when both realize they want their courtship to be real.
Reading Challenges:E-book, Historical Fiction

Do I like the cover?: I'm not wild about it, but I'm actually not really a fan of historical romance covers.

I'm reminded of...: Maya Banks

First line: For a girl of only eight years old, Diana Merriwether was very good at hiding.

Buy, Borrow, or Avoid?: Borrow or buy -- charming, engaging, and very sexy!

Why did I get this book?: A woman I met at a friend's wedding is friends with the author, and she asked if I'd be open to connecting with the author.

Review: I'm a sucker for happily ever afters, but I'm picky abou…

Interview with Janice Law

Janice Law wrote one of my top ten reads of 2012, Fires of London, and I was delighted by the sequel, The Prisoner of the Riviera. I'm thrilled to share this interview with Ms. Law, who talks about her writing, why she chose Francis Bacon as her protagonist, and what she's been reading lately. Be sure to enter the giveaway to win her two Francis Bacon mysteries!

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

The plot of my first novel was, believe it or not, based on the then-ongoing Watergate hearings. I kept thinking that some underpaid secretary must know what was going on. My underpaid secretary became Anna Peters and I moved the plot and cover-up to a big-oil firm— not the smartest move because I had to keep researching the petroleum industry, about which I knew nothing.

Do you have any writing rituals or routines?

When I am writing I try to write every morning except Sunday when I go to play duets with an old friend. To save my voice, frazzled from many years o…

Mailbox Monday, Dec 9

It's been more than a month since I've posted a Mailbox Monday update, so, here's my immense haul for the last five or six weeks.

Mailbox Monday is a weekly meme, hosted in December by Rose City Reader. The creator of the meme is polling bloggers about the future of Mailbox Monday, so if you care or are interested, check out the post and vote.

To learn more about any title, click on the cover; it'll open to the GoodReads page in a new tab/window.

What did you get this week?

For Review


Won, thanks to Dark Jane Austen Book Club!

Won, thanks to the author

Weekend reads and I'm home!

Technically, I've been back since Thanksgiving, but I finally feel like I've settled back home.  I already desperately miss my 'room of my own' out in western Massachusetts.  I got an incredible amount of writing done -- the most I've ever accomplished -- and learned a great deal about myself, my own writing habits, and the skill it takes to write a story.  My original plot line changed wildly once I went to work, which was a surprise, and I've found about two million holes I need to fill with more research.  I won NaNoWriMo for the first time in my life (I did 50K words in November) and am at about 70K words total.  All in all, I'm very satisfied!!  Here's hoping I can keep up the momentum and continue to write once I resume working; I think my chances of being a lady of leisure are pretty nil.

The weekend, I'm reading a trio of historical romances for review here or the Historical Novel Society: What the Groom Wants by Jade Lee, A Rogue for All Se…

Daughters of the Nile by Stephanie Dray

Title:Daughters of the Nile
Author: Stephanie Dray

Genre: Fiction (Historical / Ancient Rome / Historical Figure Fictionalized / Herod / Magic)
Publisher/Publication Date: Berkley Trade (12/3/2013)
Source: The author

Rating: Looooooooooooooooooooooooved like a loving thing!
Did I finish?: Oh yeah -- I even reread the second book in anticipation.
One-sentence summary: The final chapters in the life of Cleoptra's daughter, Queen Cleopatra Selene of Mauritania, and her battle with the Emperor Augustus.
Reading Challenges:Historical Fiction

Do I like the cover?: I do - so dramatic and lurid!

First line: I will never see my mother's Egypt again, I think.

Buy, Borrow, or Avoid?: Buy, buy, buy -- and get the first two, too!

Why did I get this book?: Because I adore Dray's writing and this series is electrifying!

Review: Wow. Wow. It's been a few days since I've finished this one, and I'm still struggling with how to articulate just how much I adored this book. Loved it so much …

The Prisoner of the Riviera by Janice Law

Title:The Prisoner of the Riviera
Author: Janice Law

Genre: Fiction (Historical / 1940s / Monte Carlo / Homosexuality / Murder Mystery / Post-WWII)
Publisher/Publication Date: Road (12/10/2013)
Source: NetGalley

Rating: Liked.
Did I finish?: I did.
One-sentence summary: British painter Francis Bacon vacations in the French Riviera when he becomes embroiled in a murder and a case of mistaken identity.
Reading Challenges:E-book, Historical Fiction

Do I like the cover?: I'm undecided. At first, I think I dislike it, but if I look at it more, it reminds me a bit of a Hitchcock film, which appeals to me, so...maybe I do like it.

I'm reminded of...: Nicola Upson

First line: The war was over; Herr Hitler was dead; Hirohito was mortal.

Buy, Borrow, or Avoid?: Buy, buy, buy!

Why did I get this book?: I adored her previous one!

Review: Last year I read and adored Janice Law's previous novel featuring 20th century painter Francis Bacon, Fires of London. (It made my top …

The Spirit Keeper by K.B. Laugheed

Title:The Spirit Keeper
Author: K.B. Laugheed

Genre: Fiction (Historical / 18th Century / Pennsylvania / Irish Immigrants / Native Americans / Prophecy / Cross-Cultural Romance)
Publisher/Publication Date: Plume (9/24/2013)
Source:TLC Book Tours

Rating: Liked a very good deal.
Did I finish?: I did!
One-sentence summary: In 18th century Pennsylvania, a teenaged Irish girl is taken in by two Native Americans from the Pacific Northwest to fulfill a seer's prophecy.
Reading Challenges:Historical Fiction, Immigrant Stories

Do I like the cover?: Yes, it's quite pretty; as our heroine's red hair is constantly commented upon, the focus on it is fitting, as well as the small touches reminiscent of art from Native American tribes in the Pacific Northwest.

First line: This is the account of Katie O'Toole, late of Lancaster Co., Pennsylvania, removed from her family by savages on March the 2nd in the year of Our Lord 1747.

Buy, Borrow, or Avoid?: Borrow or buy.

Why did I get this book?: I'…

Literary Wives: Interview with Ariel Lawhon

I'm so delighted to be the December host of the first ever Literary Wives author interview! (Hopefully, the first of many more!)

For December, we read Ariel Lawhon's The Wife, the Maid, and the Mistress, and you can see what everyone thought by checking out their blogs: Ariel of One Little Library, Emily of The Bookshelf of Emily J., Carolyn at Rosemary and Reading Glasses, Cecilia at Only You, Lynn of Smoke & Mirrors, and Kay of whatmeread!

We all sent questions along, and Ms. Lawhon generously answered all of them.  Read on to learn more about this twisty, atmospheric tale of marriage, betrayal, and one big disappearance!

Lynn: I can understand the motivation to write provided by this “Hoffa”-like event, but what was the initial thought that piqued your interest enough to begin writing this novel?

AL: I’d never heard of Joseph Crater until I read an article about him in The New York Post nine years ago. I didn’t know that his disappearance was the biggest missing person’…