Showing posts from July, 2013

Inheritance by Victoria Wilcox

Title:Inheritance (Southern Son: The Saga of Doc Holliday, Book One)
Author: Victoria Wilcox

Genre: Fiction (Historical / 1860s / 1870s / American Civil War / Georgia / John Henry Holliday / Historical Figures Fictionalized)
Publisher/Publication Date: Knox Robinson (5/2013)
Source: The author.

Rating: Loved!
Did I finish?: I did, finishing it in about three nights because I just couldn't stop!
One-sentence summary: The early years of John Henry 'Doc' Holliday's life, in post-Civil War Georgia, as he struggles to find his place in the world and the love of his life.
Reading Challenges:E-book, Historical Fiction

Do I like the cover?: I'm not wild about it, but I don't hate it.

First line: John Henry Holliday believed in heroes -- he came from a long line of them, after all.

Do... I love the wonderful extras available at the author's website?: YES. An annotated photo album of places in the novel, a detailed map of pretty much every place John Henry goes, a family tr…

Godiva by Nicole Galland

Author: Nicole Galland

Genre: Fiction (Historical / 11th Century / UK / Royal Intrigue / Edward the Confessor / Godiva / Historical Figures Fictionalized)
Publisher/Publication Date: William Morrow (7/2/2013)
Source: The publisher.

Rating: Liked!
Did I finish?: I did, very quickly!
One-sentence summary: An 11th century noblewoman finds herself condemned for her flirtatious politicking and must chose between surrendering her property -- the city of Coventry -- or riding naked through it.
Reading Challenges:Historical Fiction

Do I like the cover?: Guiltily, I don't! I appreciate seeing a full face, but she's a redhead! And she's clothed! Which isn't to say Godiva must be depicted naked, but, I don't know, if you're going to do a woman and a horse...

I'm reminded of...: Michelle Diener, Marina Fiorato, Karen Harper, Deborah Lawrenson

First line: In the time it took Godiva to wrest a concession from the young man, she could have easily spun a skein of yar…

Interview with Ania Szado

Earlier in the month, I reviewed Ania Szado's Studio Saint-Ex, her inventive novel about famed pilot and author Antoine Saint-Exupéry, his wife, and a young fashion designer who becomes embroiled with the couple. I was so taken with it -- it totally changed my perception of Saint-Exupéry! I'm thrilled to share my interview with Ms. Szado about her book and interests outside of writing.

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

My early plots involved a lot of galloping, shooting, and tying up bad guys—my brother and I had cowboy action figures as kids, and I used to write about their adventures. My first adult stories were more low-key. One of them, for example, was about a girl in a bathtub gaining insight into her mother's suicide. I'm much more focused on plot now than I once was.

Do you have any writing rituals or routines?

Depending on what stage I'm at in a manuscript, my routines range from intense procrastination (which is excruciating!) to in…


The nor'easter is gone, so it's bright and sunny and hot once more.  I'm not sure if I'm thrilled, since I rather enjoyed my cozy reading day yesterday, but after doing errands and what not, I'm going to park myself in the sun like a cat and try to finish up my book.

Last week's giveaway winner already had the book, so I've redrawn that winner along with the two for this week.

The winner of The Queen's Vow is ... Laura!

The winner of Chocolates for Breakfast is ... Elizabeth B.!

The winners of The Queen's Lover are ... Anne F., Renae @ Respiring Thoughts, and Emma @ Words And Peace!

Congrats to the winners!  Be sure to check out my open giveaways (there are two international giveaways!) and check in next week as more are coming.

Weekend reads and keeping warm...

After ridiculous temperatures for the last few weeks -- 90 at 9am! -- we have a nor'easter blowing in, so it's cold and gray and rainy. A perfect fall day! If it were fall!

While my wife is away on a business trip, I'm hunkering down with this beast for the weekend: The Thinking Woman's Guide to Real Magic by Emily Croy Barker.

It's almost 600 pages which is quite appealing to me -- I think I'm just going to curl up and read the rainy weekend away! (I suppose I'll clean up the house, too, so my wife doesn't cry upon her return on Sunday.)

What are you reading this weekend?

Interview with Stephanie Carroll

Yesterday I reviewed Stephanie Carroll's A White Room, a deliciously creepy novel set in early 20th century Missouri.  A little bit Shirley Jackson, a little bit 'The Yellow Wallpaper', it's a book I won't easily forget.  I'm thrilled to share my interview with the author, so read on to learn more about Stephanie's writing process, her book, and what she does when she's not writing.  (It's pretty amazing.)  Be sure to enter the international giveaway to win a copy of A White Room!

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

Oh wow – that’s a great question, but I’m not sure if I can remember. When I was in elementary school, I remember being praised for writing a six page story that had something to do with a river. It was the first time I was really praised for my writing.

I also remember setting out to write my first novel when I was 13 or 14 and that was going to be about a hiking trip gone wrong. A group of teenagers were going to be …

A White Room by Stephanie Carroll

Title:A White Room
Author: Stephanie Carroll

Genre: Fiction (Historical / 1900s / Southern Gothic / Marriage / Insanity / Nursing / Marriage / Secrets)
Publisher/Publication Date: Unhinged Books (6/12/2013)
Source: NetGalley

Rating: Liked a great deal.
Did I finish?: I did.
One-sentence summary: In 1901, a young woman with some nursing training finds herself in a cold marriage, trapped in an eerie house, living in a town full of secrets.
Reading Challenges:E-book, Gothic, Historical Fiction

Do I like the cover?: I love it. I'm partial to Sargent anyway, but the image resembles a description early on in the book, of a woman in a white dress, twisting around to look behind her. This is very evocative of it.

I'm reminded of...: Shirley Jackson, Jennifer McMahon

First line: My father died with the taste of blood on his lips.

Buy, Borrow, or Avoid?: Borrow or buy, especially if you like atmospheric novels reminiscent of Shirley Jackson and Jennifer McMahon.

Why did I get this book?: Was …

Late Lights by Kara Weiss

Title:Late Lights
Author: Kara Weiss

Genre: Fiction (Contemporary / Boston / Young Adults / Juvenile Crime / Coming-of-Age / Gender Identity / Male - Female Friendships / Sex)
Publisher/Publication Date: Colony Collapse Press (2013)
Source:TLC Book Tours

Rating: Liked.
Did I finish?: I did, in one night.
One-sentence summary: Five interconnected stories of three young adults from Boston, struggling with identity, belonging, growing up, and making their way.

Do I like the cover?: It's great -- captures the gritty, urban feel of the stories (it reminds me of the opening titles to a crime tv show).

First line: Tonight, the halls are silent.

Buy, Borrow, or Avoid?: Borrow or buy, especially if you like gritty realism and fiction with young adults that isn't about insta-love and dystopias.

Why did I get this book?: I love books set in Boston.

Review: This slim volume of five interconnected vignettes offers a portrait of Boston teens that is heartbreaking, disturbing, and impossible to ignor…

Mailbox Monday, July 22

Mailbox Monday is hosted in July at Tasha @ Book Obsessed and there's another awesome few weeks of arrivals! The eye candy, oh, the pretties!

To learn about a book, click on the cover -- it'll open to it's GoodReads page in a new window.

What did you get this week? Interested in any of these?

For Review


According to the local news, it's not the hottest day of the week, but up there. Hope the rest of you having summery weather stay cool!

Just one winner this week!

The winner of The Queen's Vow is ... Katherine of Historical Fiction Notebook!

Congrats to the winner! Be sure to check out my open giveaways -- as always, more are coming!

Studio Saint-Ex by Ania Szado

Title:Studio Saint-Ex
Author: Ania Szado

Genre: Fiction (Historical / 1930s / 1940s / 1960s / Antoine de Saint-Exupéry / New York City / Montreal / Fashion Design / Infidelity / Marriage / French Ex-Pats / Quebecois)
Publisher/Publication Date: Knopf (6/4/2013)
Source: The publisher.

Rating: Liked a great deal.
Did I finish?: I did -- in just a few nights.
One-sentence summary: A young fashion designer in 1940s Manhattan meets famed author and pilot Antoine de Saint-Exupéry and his wild, reckless wife, and becomes embroiled in their marriage when she designs fashions for them.
Reading Challenges:Historical Fiction

Do I like the cover?: I do -- I believe it's a design by Valentina, who is a fashion designer mentioned in this novel. The artificial pose/setting is reminiscent of a show that makes up a huge part of the climax toward the end.

First line: I haven't even brought a book.

Buy, Borrow, or Avoid?: Borrow or buy, especially if you like novels about creativity, art, and the proces…

Interview with Stephanie Thornton

Yesterday I reviewed Stephanie Thornton's The Secret History, a wonderful novel of the 6th century Byzantine Empress, Theodora, who rose from the gutter to wear royal purple. I'm thrilled to share my interview with Stephanie, so read on to learn more about her, her book, and her current reads. Be sure to check out the international giveaway -- it comes with a Byzantine coin!

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

The first novel I wrote was about Hatshepsut, and her rise from being Pharaoh’s pampered daughter to Daughter of the Gods.
becoming Egypt’s first successful female pharaoh, all while thwarting internal palace coups, fighting against foreign uprisings, and falling in love with a commoner. I’m was thrilled when my editor told me she loved Hatshepsut’s character as much as I did; that novel will hit the shelves next year as

Do you have any writing rituals or routines?

I’m a full-time history teacher and have a six-year-old to keep me hopping, so I manag…

The Secret History by Stephanie Thornton

Title:The Secret History: A Novel of Empress Theodora
Author: Stephanie Thornton

Genre: Fiction (Historical / Turkey / 6th Century / Historical Figure Fictionalized / Sex Worker / Royalty / Royal Intrigue / Christianity)
Publisher/Publication Date: NAL Trade (7/2/2013)
Source:Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours

Rating: Liked a whole lot!
Did I finish?: I did, in a single night -- couldn't find a place to put the book down!
One-sentence summary: In 6th century Constantinople, a young prostitute rises through the ranks to become Empress of the Roman Empire.
Reading Challenges:Historical Fiction

Do I like the cover?: Oh, I do. It's probably not accurate, but oh, it's so exotic and pretty!

I'm reminded of...: Sandra Gulland, Philippa Gregory, Susan Holloway Scott

First line: My life began the night death visited our house.

Buy, Borrow, or Avoid?: Borrow or buy, especially if you like historical novels from the early medieval period

Why did I get this book?: Love Empress Theodora!


This is Paradise by Kristiana Kahakauwila

Title:This is Paradise: Stories
Author: Kristiana Kahakauwila

Genre: Fiction (Short Stories / Contemporary / Hawaii / Tourism / Locals and Natives / Crime / Class Differences / Romantic Relationships)
Publisher/Publication Date: Hogarth (7/9/2013)
Source:TLC Book Tours

Rating: Liked to loved.
Did I finish?: I did, in a single night.
One-sentence summary: Six stories of contemporary Hawaii, the people who live there, and the culture of being Hawaiian.

Do I like the cover?:Adore it. Love the coloring, the font choices, the image of the stereotypical hula toy. Spot on.

I'm reminded of...: Jane Bowles, Tara Masih

First line: 1) Take a drink each time the haole pastor says "hell". from 'Thirty-Nine Rules for Making a Hawaiian Funeral Into a Drinking Game'

Buy, Borrow, or Avoid?: Borrow or buy, especially if you like the grittier side of vacationlands and alleged paradises.

Why did I get this book?: Love Hogarth -- everything they've released is gold.

Review: I adored this co…


Busy weekend (but then again, what weekend isn't?!). Excited to share this week's giveaway winners!

The winner of Bathing Beauties, Booze and Bullets is ... Mystica!

The winner of She Rises is ... Folliesgirl14!

The winner of The Queen's Rivals is ... Cynthia B!

Congrats to the winners! You can check out my current giveaways -- and be sure to watch for forthcoming ones!

Nine Fold Heaven by Mingmei Yip

Title:Nine Fold Heaven
Author: Mingmei Yip

Genre: Fiction (Historical / 1930s / China / Shanghai / Gangsters / Love Affairs / Motherhood)
Publisher/Publication Date: Kensington (6/25/2013)
Source:Book Promotion Services

Rating: Liked.
Did I finish?: I did.
One-sentence summary: A young assassin returns to Shanghai to find an old lover, her child, and settle old scores with dangerous gangsters.
Reading Challenges:Historical Fiction

Do I like the cover?: I do.

First line: Three months ago, I was singing to loud applause in a Shanghai nightclub; a few days later, I became unexpectedly wealthy.

Buy, Borrow, or Avoid?: Borrow or buy, especially if you like fiction set in China and/or heroines who are unapologetically dangerous and sexy.

Why did I get this book?: Last year I read Yip's Skeleton Women; this is the sequel.

Review: While technically the sequel to Skeleton Women, which I read last year, Nine Fold Heaven works as a standalone novel. In essence, it's about a woman's quest to fi…

Weekend reads and I'm super busy...

A busy weekend ahead of me!

Doing a dinner party tonight for an out-of-town friend who is around just tonight and tomorrow I have my monthly-ish dinner club.  The theme will be grilled, and my wife and I are bringing a variety of grilled salads!  I'm seeing my in-laws on Sunday for a late birthday celebration (for me!) and will be meeting more friends for drinks at my new favorite bar.

Reading time will not be great, so I'm especially glad my weekend read is this slim volume of short stories: This Is Paradise by Kristiana Kahakauwila.

What are your weekend plans? What are you reading?

My interview!

I'm delighted to say I was interviewed by Kayla Posney at the Pittsburgh Examiner about historical fiction.

Please check it out, then come back and tell me what your answers to some of the questions would be!

(Especially who you'd have at a dinner party!)

The Queen's Lover giveaway!

Last year I read and lovedThe Queen's Lover by Francine du Plessix Gray.

This novel of Marie Antoinette's lover, Axel von Fersen, captivated me from the first page (turns out he was more than a nobleman with a pretty face!).

The publisher contacted me about offering a giveaway for the newly released paperback!


I'm thrilled to offer a paperback copy of The Queen's Lover to three (3) lucky readers!

To enter, fill out this brief form. Open to US readers only (sorry!), ends 7/26.

Chocolates for Breakfast by Pamela Moore

Title:Chocolates for Breakfast
Author: Pamela Moore

Genre: Fiction (Coming of Age / 1950s / Hollywood / Boarding School / Love Affairs / Mothers and Daughters)
Publisher/Publication Date: Harper Perennial (6/25/2013)
Source:TLC Book Tours

Rating: Liked.
Did I finish?: I did, very quickly.
One-sentence summary: The scandalous coming-of-age story of a 16-year old girl who has a crush on her female teacher, loses her virginity to a gay man

Do I like the cover?: I do, very much. Love the dated feel of the font and colors, the pretty figure, the retro coloring.

I'm reminded of...: Françoise Sagan, Sylvia Plath

First line: Spring at Scaisbrooke Hall was clearly the most beautiful time of year.

Buy, Borrow, or Avoid?: Borrow or buy if you like retro/vintage fiction, coming of age stories, and seedy settings.

Why did I get this book?: I had a spell in which I was briefly enamored of Bonjour Tristesse, and the comparison of this book to it made me desperate to read this one.

Review: Written by an 18…