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Showing posts from March, 2013

Winners!

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Gorgeous, gorgeous spring day today, and my wife and I are still a bit wince-y.  But we're both feeling considerably better, which is nice.

Two giveaway winners today -- one from last week and one for this week!

The winner of The Orchardist is ... Jenn of The Picky Girl!

The winner of The Dark Heroine is ... Jaime H.!

Congrats to the winners!  Folks have until end of day Tuesday to get back to me.  If you didn't win, check out my open giveaways -- as always, more coming!

Weekend reads and not feeling great...

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Even though it's gorgeously mild outside, I've been stuck inside most of this week -- and sadly, not reading!

My wife has been home all week with pneumonia and I've been wracked with a migraine, so needless to say, there's been very little reading going on.  I'm wicked behind on that and reviews, and I'm a tiny bit stressed!

I'm starting to feel a smidgen better, and my weekend reads will be The Tale of Raw Head and Bloody Bones by Jack Wolf and The Bequest of Big Daddy by Jo-Ann Costa. (That's a make-me-feel-better mango lassi next to the book.)

What are you reading this weekend?

(Also, I'm at a loss about linking this week -- I personally am disappointed in GoodReads being bought by Amazon.  Now they've got Shelfari, LibraryThing, and GoodReads -- is there another social reading network I should use?)

The Prisoner of Heaven by Carlos Ruiz Zafón

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Title:The Prisoner of Heaven
Author: Carlos Ruiz Zafón

Genre: Fiction (Historical / 1950s / 1930s / Spain / Prisons / Bookstores / Books on Books / Secret Identities / Dumas /
Publisher/Publication Date: Harper Perennial (3/12/2013)
Source:TLC Book Tours

Rating: Liked a good deal.
Did I finish?: I did!
One-sentence summary: The story of a prisoner, a bookstore, and a mysterious stranger.
Reading Challenges:Historical Fiction,

Do I like the cover?: Yes and no. Yes, it is super pretty and atmospheric. No, it doesn't capture the feel of the book.

I'm reminded of...: Gabriel Garcí­a Márquez, José Saramago

First line: That year at Christmas time, every morning dawned laced with frost under leaden skies.

Buy, Borrow, or Avoid?: Borrow or buy if you're a Zafón fan or like books about books.

Why did I get this book?: Everyone I know raves about Zafón's The Shadow of the Wind.

Review: I have long wanted to read Zafón's novels; everyone I know raves about The Shadow of the Wind. Thi…

The Paradise Guest House by Ellen Sussman

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Title:The Paradise Guest House
Author: Ellen Sussman

Genre: Fiction (2000s / Bali / 2002 Bali Bombing / Terrorism / American Ex-Pat / PTSD / Romance)
Publisher/Publication Date: Ballantine Books (3/26/2013)
Source:TLC Book Tours

Rating: Liked!
Did I finish?: I did.
One-sentence summary: Two Americans who survived the 2002 Bali terrorist bombings struggle to move on after the terrifying event.

Do I like the cover?: Eh -- it's pretty enough, but doesn't capture the story, I think.

First line: "And you?" the man says.

Buy, Borrow, or Avoid?: Borrow if you like chick lit that pays attention to current events or if you like movies in the vein of Beyond Rangoon and The Impossible.

Why did I get this book?: I liked Sussman's French Lessons when I read a few years ago; was curious to see how she handled a terrorist attack!

Review: I'm not sure how to describe this book exactly: it's a beach-y romance at heart (literally featuring Bali's gorgeous beaches) featuring a her…

Interview with Liesel Schwarz

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Earlier this month I read Liesel Schwarz's A Conspiracy of Alchemists, an imaginative steampunk romantic adventure. I'm thrilled to share my interview with Liesel, so read on to learn more about her and her writing. Be sure to enter the giveaway at the end!

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

My very first attempts at writing fiction involved the intrepid adventures of a magical pony who could fly. I was about six years old at the time. Not much has changed in respect of my plotting it seems as I still write about magical characters who fly off on adventures...

Do you have any writing rituals or routines?

I am very fortunate in that I can write anywhere, any place and any time. Sadly, I have developed this skill because life is so hectic and there is so little time to write. I do have a special mug though and no one is allowed to drink from it, because it's my writing mug.

Was A Conspiracy of Alchemists the original title of your book?

The book was initi…

Mailbox Monday, March 25

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This week's Mailbox Monday (hosted in March by Caitlin @ chaotic compendiums) is very light one -- just a handful of books! Still, some exciting arrivals!  To learn more about any of these books, click the picture -- link will open in a new link/window.

What did you get this week?

For Review







Gifted/Swapped/Purchased

Interview with Kate Forsyth

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Earlier this week I read the divine Bitter Greens, a beautiful historical novel/fairy tale retelling that captivated and seduced me. I'm thrilled to share my interview with Kate Forsyth; read on to learn more about her, her book, and what she does when she's not writing!

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


When I was about five I wrote a story about a brother & sister who fell down a hole into fairyland. Then, when I was seven, I wrote my first novel. It was called 'Runaway' and told the story of a brother & sister who ran away from their mean aunt & uncle & had all sorts do adventures on their way to find their nice aunts. It was very reminiscent of Enid Blyton.

Do you have any writing rituals or routines?

I walk for an hour, then have a cup of tea, and read over what I wrote the day before. That's it.

Was Bitter Greens the original title of your book?

Yes, Bitter Greens was always my title. I can't write a book till I have it…

Weekend reads and greeting spring...

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It snowed pretty heavily on the first day of Spring -- no surprise for Boston -- but my wife treated me to three gorgeous bouquets of flowers nonetheless.  Every morning they cheer me up -- although it's been nice and sunny in Boston, the melting gray slush depresses me!

Today I plan on finishing up The Unchangeable Spots of Leopards by Kristopher Jansma and this weekend I'll be starting Ellen Sussman's The Paradise Guest House.

What are you reading this weekend?

Swoon by Betsy Prioleau

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Title:Swoon: Great Seducers and Why Women Love Them
Author: Betsy Prioleau

Genre: Non-Fiction (Sex / Love / Romance / Seduction / Historical Figures / Celebrities)
Publisher/Publication Date: W. W. Norton & Company (2/4/2013)
Source:TLC Book Tours

Rating: Liked.
Did I finish?: I did!
One-sentence summary: A non-fiction survey into the world of the seducer -- historical ladies men and why they're so appealing!

Do I like the cover?: I do --with that swoon-y image and fat, silly font, I'm completely seduced. (Ha, play with words!)

I'm reminded of...: Michael Farquhar

First line: Pembroke, a hamlet once known as Scuffletown (population 2,800), sits in the southeastern flatlands of North Carolina on Highway 711 -- home to the University of Nor Carolina Braves, the Lumbee Indians, the Berea Baptist Church, Dollar Tree, Papa Bill's Ribs, a nearby drag strip with wheelstanding contests, and one of today's hottest ladies' men.

Buy, Borrow, or Avoid?: Borrow if you like popul…

Bitter Greens by Kate Forsyth

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Title:Bitter Greens
Author: Kate Forsyth

Genre: Fiction (Historical / 17th century / 16th century / France / Italy / Royal Court / Convent / Fairy Tale / Venice / Witchcraft)
Publisher/Publication Date: Allison & Busby (2/25/2013)
Source:Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tour

Rating: Loooooooooooooooooooooved.
Did I finish?: Yes, yes I did.
One-sentence summary: Renaissance Venice and 17th century France are connected by three women and one magical fairy tale.
Reading Challenges:Historical Fiction

Do I like the cover?: I do -- simple but striking.

I'm reminded of...: Emma Donoghue, Edith Pattou

First line: I had always been a great talker and teller of tales.

Did... I love reading about what inspired this novel? YES. Forsyth shares a lovely piece about how the myth and one of this book's heroines, Charlotte Rose de la Force, came to be.

Did... I enjoy the author's list of favorite academic studies of fairy tales?: YES. Her whole blog is a treat -- she's recently interviewed a sl…

The Bruges Tapestry by P.A. Staes

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Title:The Bruges Tapestry
Author: P.A. Staes

Genre: Fiction (Historical / 16th Century / Belgium / Tapestry Making / Vatican / Contemporary / Dual Narrative / Mystery)
Publisher/Publication Date: CreateSpace (8/29/2012)
Source:Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tour

Rating: Okay.
Did I finish?: I did.
One-sentence summary: The story of a Belgian tapestry is told through the family who made it and the individuals who found it, separated by five hundred years.
Reading Challenges:Historical Fiction

Do I like the cover?: I do -- it's reminiscent of other crime novels (like Cara Black's) which matches the feel of the story.

First line: I was sixteen years old when Marie died giving birth to Father Bernardo's child.

Buy, Borrow, or Avoid?: Borrow or buy if you like women's contemporary fiction with historical twists, like Sarah Jio's books.

Why did I get this book?: I love art mysteries!

Review: Alternating between the past and the present, this novel tells the story of a tapestry, and …

A Conspiracy of Alchemists by Liesel Schwarz

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Title:A Conspiracy of Alchemists
Author: Liesel Schwarz

Genre: Fiction (Historical / Victoriana / Steampunk / early 20th Century / British / Supernatural)
Publisher/Publication Date: Del Rey (3/5/2013)
Source:TLC Book Tours

Rating: Liked.
Did I finish?: I did, fairly quickly!
One-sentence summary: A warlock, an absinthe fairy, and a lady dirigible pilot become embroiled in a dangerous war between dark magic circles and the mundane world.

Do I like the cover?: I do, mostly -- I hate that '80s-esque neon pink graffiti scribble at the bottom -- otherwise, it doesn't offend.

I'm reminded of...: Elizabeth Bear, Gail Carriger

First line: This was the place where people came to give their souls to fairies.

Buy, Borrow, or Avoid?: Borrow if you like the ambiance of steampunk, alterna-historical settings, and corsets.

Why did I get this book?: I'm totally a sucker for steampunk.

Review: Set in 1903, this steampunk-flavored historical fantasy follows Miss Eleanor "Elle" Chance, …

Mailbox Monday, March 18

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Here's this week's Mailbox Monday (hosted in March by Caitlin @ chaotic compendiums).  A light week for arrivals, although oddly, a lot of duplicates, including three copies of Bee Ridgway's The River of No Return!

To learn more about a title, click the image -- it will open in a new tab/window.  What did you get this week?

For Review











Won



Via GoodReads Giveaways

Gifted/Swapped/Purchased



Gifted from Raging Bibliomania -- thank you!

Interview with Amanda Coplin

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Earlier this month I reviewed Amanda Coplin's The Orchardist, a lovely, atmospheric, quiet novel set in early 20th century Oregon.  Love, family, the rural West -- this book is a favorite of 2013 so far.  I'm thrilled to share my interview with the author, so read on to learn more about her, her novel, and what she's reading right now. 

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

A teddy bear named Cuddles, reviled by her sisters, runs away from home and travels to outer space.

Do you have any writing rituals or routines?

I like to write in the morning after breakfast, coffee in hand.

Was The Orchardist the original title of your book?

No. The original title was The Wrested Earth.

As you were writing The Orchardist, was there a particular scene or character that surprised you?

The character of Jane surprised me the most, probably. The decision she made when faced with the possibility of facing Michaelson again.

When you’re not writing, what do you like to do?

Rea…

Winners!

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So, I was crunched for time last week and didn't get to last week's winners, so this post has ALL the winners!



The winner of Children of Liberty is ... Meg @ A Bookish Affair!

The winners of Equal of the Sun are ... Natalie and Christina!

The winner of The House Girl is ... Amy S.!

The winner of The Silence of Bonaventure Arrow is ... Mariya!

Congrats to the winners!  Folks have until Wednesday to reply; I'll redraw winners after that.  Be sure to check out my open giveaways -- more coming next week!

The Dark Heroine by Abigail Gibbs

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Title:The Dark Heroine
Author: Abigail Gibbs

Genre: Fiction (Contemporary / London / UK / Vampires / Paranormal/Supernatural / Romance / Teenaged Heroine)
Publisher/Publication Date: William Morrow Paperbacks (3/5/2013)
Source:TLC Book Tours

Rating: Meh.
Did I finish?: I did not.
One-sentence summary: A teenaged human learns that vampires live and rule in Britain.

Do I like the cover?: Not particularly.

First line: Trafalgar Square is probably not the best place to stand at one o'clock in the morning.

Buy, Borrow, or Avoid?: Avoid unless you're a huge vampire fan or familiar with/fond of Gibbs' online work.

Why did I get this book?: The title, probably -- I've forgotten now!

Review: This book was inspired by the Twilight series and originally penned as a sprawling online story by a 14-year old girl. Said story eventually garnered 17 million views...and with the runaway success of Fifty Shades of Grey, no one should be surprised that Gibbs' novel was given the same online-to-…

Forlorn Hope by James Mace

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Title:Forlorn Hope: The Storming of Badajoz
Author: James Mace

Genre: Fiction (Historical / Early 19th Century / Wellington / War / Spain / European History / British Army / French Army)
Publisher/Publication Date: Legionary Books (2012)
Source:Pump Up Your Book!

Rating: Liked.
Did I finish?: I did!
One-sentence summary: The days surrounding the 1812 assault on Badajoz, Spain.
Reading Challenges:E-book, Historical Fiction

Do I like the cover?: I do -- it's an original painting by a contemporary artist of the Badajoz invasion.

First line: It was a hateful task for a British infantryman.

Buy, Borrow, or Avoid?: Borrow or buy, especially those who enjoy military fiction.

Why did I get this book?: I was intrigued by the premise and its connection with I Stood With Wellington.

Review:This 100 page novella is a horrifying snapshot of a suicidal mission. Technically a prequel to I Stood With Wellington (which I loved), this and the full-length novel can be read alone. (As can I Stood With Welling…

I Stood With Wellington by James Mace

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Title:I Stood With Wellington
Author: James Mace

Genre: Fiction (Historical / Early 19th Century / Napoleon / Wellington / War / Waterloo / European History / British Army / French Army)
Publisher/Publication Date: Legionary Books (2012)
Source:Pump Up Your Books

Rating: Liked a good deal.
Did I finish?: I did!
One-sentence summary: An account of two military geniuses -- Wellington and Napoleon -- and the soldiers who fought with them in the skirmishes leading up to Waterloo.
Reading Challenges:E-book, Historical Fiction

Do I like the cover?: It's fine -- nothing fancy.

First line: France is falling.

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

Why did I get this book?: I enjoy novels featuring Napoleon -- Georgette Heyer, Sandra Gulland -- but haven't read any that deal strictly with the battles he led, and was curious.

Review: I'm not a Napoleon fangirl but I love novels set during his time. I cut my teeth on Georgette Heyer and the Georgian-era is still a favorite. And while I like boo…

Children of Liberty by Paullina Simons

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Title:Children of Liberty
Author: Paullina Simons

Genre: Fiction (Historical / early 20th century / Boston / Italian Immigrant / Boston Brahmin / Culture Clash / Prequel)
Publisher/Publication Date: William Morrow Paperbacks (2/26/2013)
Source:TLC Book Tours

Rating: Meh.
Did I finish?: I did not -- I stopped at 104 pages.
One-sentence summary: The story of a Sicilian immigrant, Gina, and a Boston brahmin, Harry, in 1899 Boston.
Reading Challenges:Historical Fiction, Immigrant Stories

Do I like the cover?: I do -- although it evokes Colonial fiction for me rather than turn-of-the-20th-century.

I'm reminded of...: Ann Chamberlin, Jennifer Chiaverini, David John

First line: There had been a fire at Ellis Island the year before Gina came to America with her mother and brother in 1899, and so instead of arriving at the Port of New York, they had set sail into the Port of Boston.

Buy, Borrow, or Avoid?: Borrow? I can't objectively say.

Why did I get this book?: So many people raved about Simons…