Showing posts from October, 2013

Weekend reads and going silent...

Apologies to all for the lack of interaction -- my sabbatical started last week and it was a bit hectic leading up to it!

I was in a wedding last weekend (congrats Tracy and Matt!) and I spent most of this week doing errands in anticipation of leaving!

Tomorrow my wife and I drive about two hours northwest to the small Berkshire-ish town where I'll be living for five weeks.  (This will be the longest stretch in almost a decade that I'll be living alone!)  I'm excited and a bit anxious (will I get work done? will it suck the worst? will I be lonely and waste time on Facebook? etc.) but really eager to practice some intentional quiet time -- and of course, get novel writing. 

My weekend reads are, needless to say, a bit in flux.  I'll be doing more research reading but will settle down with Avery Hays' The Sixth when I need something not related to 1850s Kansas.

I owe many comments and emails and I'm sorry again for being so inconsistent -- once I'm settled…

Interview with Deborah Swift

Yesterday I reviewed Deborah Swift's rich novel of early 17th century Spain, A Divided Inheritance. I'm delighted to share this interview with Ms. Swift, who talks in wonderful detail about this book, her writing process, and what she's reading.  Be sure to enter the international giveaway for a copy of A Divided Inheritance!

Was A Divided Inheritance the original title of your book?

No. Apparently it is very common for titles to be changed by publishers. The original title was The Swordmistress of Seville. The publishers felt that a reference to swords positioned the book either as a man’s book or as a fantasy, so we worked together to come up with another title and A Divided Inheritance was the result. There is a strong male character in the book as well as a strong female character so actually, I wouldn’t mind a few more male readers! I had originally been wary of anything with ‘inheritance’ in the title, although it was an obvious choice given what happens in the nove…

A Divided Inheritance by Deborah Swift

Title:A Divided Inheritance
Author: Deborah Swift

Genre: Fiction (Historical / 17th Century / Lace / Swordsmanship / Spain / Expulsion of the Moriscos)
Publisher/Publication Date: Pan MacMillan (10/23/2013)
Source:Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours

Rating: Liked.
Did I finish?: I did.
One-sentence summary: In 1609, a young Englishwoman learns of a secret cousin who inherits the family lace business she anticipated running and finds herself following him to Spain.
Reading Challenges:Historical Fiction

Do I like the cover?: Eh -- I'm not wild about it.

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

First line: Magdalena was afraid to sleep in case she did not wake.

Buy, Borrow, or Avoid?: Borrow or buy if you enjoy meaty historical novels that don't feature royals,

Why did I get this book?: I loved Swift's previous novel, The Gilded Lily.

Review: This was one of those historical novels that leave you breathless; it's so much more that the blurb suggests. Deborah Swift …

Interview with Michelle Diener

I'm delighted to share my third interview with author Michelle Diener. I reviewed her delightful Banquet of Lies yesterday and I'm thrilled she answered my questions about this book and her charming heroine Giselle.  Be sure to enter the giveaway to win a copy of Banquet of Lies!

Was Banquet of Lies the original title of your book?

Yes. For once, the title the book started with was the one it kept. :)

As you were writing Banquet of Lies, was there a particular scene or character that surprised you?

Yes. The character of the Duke of Wittaker. I had a certain character in mind for him, and had him in a couple of scenes that just didn't work. I eventually had to completely re-imagine him and his role, and I think the book was far stronger for that.

Where did the character of Giselle -- Banquet of Lies' chef-slash-spy -- come from?

I've had her in mind since 2005, so a long time. I started the book all those years ago, but I didn't have a strong enough motive for h…

Banquet of Lies by Michelle Diener

Title:Banquet of Lies
Author: Michelle Diener

Genre: Fiction (Historical / 19th Century / Espionage / Food & Culinary Arts/
Publisher/Publication Date: Gallery Books (10/22/2013)
Source:Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours

Rating: Liked a good deal, if not loved!
Did I finish?: I did, in a day.
One-sentence summary: A young noblewoman disguises herself as a French chef to hide from a murderer and deliver a sensitive political document.
Reading Challenges:Historical Fiction

Do I like the cover?: Alas, I don't -- I feel like I'm looking at a Barbie doll or mannequin -- there's something plastic-y about the model. Given the emphasis on food and cooking, it's a shame there isn't a more foodie cover!

I'm reminded of...: Karen Harper, Lauren Willig

First line: "I hear from the Countess de Salisburg that you collect recipes, Miss Barrington?"

Am... I grateful Diener includes recipes for some of the meals she mentions in her book?: YES, especially the unfamiliar …

Cars and Girls

Title:Cars and Girls
Author: Pankhearst Writers Collection (Madeline Harvey, Evangeline Jennings, Zoë Spencer,Tee Tyson)

Genre: Fiction (Short Stories / Contemporary / Noir / Southern US / Midwest US / Crime / Murder / Motherhood)
Publisher/Publication Date: Pankhearst (5/24/2013)
Source: The publisher

Rating: Looooooooooooooooooooved. A favorite of 2013.
Did I finish?: Oh hell yes.
One-sentence summary: Four dark, devastating stories of bad ass women, their bad ass cars, and their bad ass problem solving skills.
Reading Challenges:E-book

Do I like the cover?: Love it. It is exactly what I want for this volume and could be any one of the heroines.

First line: Today is the day I get my freedom., from 'Road Runner'

Buy, Borrow, or Avoid?: Buy, buy, buy (currently $3.99 for an ebook) if you like bad ass women, fast cars, over-the-top action films with seriously messed up settings.

Why did I get this book?: I love noir and I especially love women in noir.

Review: I don't even know where …

Interview with Mary Sharratt

Last year I read Mary Sharratt's exceptional novel, Illuminations. Set in 12th century Germany, it's a stunning, devastating, and mesmerizing account of Hildegard von Bingen, one of the Catholic Church's most dynamic visionaries. I'm thrilled to share my interview with Ms. Sharratt, so read on to learn more about her book, her writing, and what she does when she's not writing.  Be sure to enter the international giveaway to win a copy!

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

As a very young child I wrote stories about horses and my best friend and the adventures we had together. I one of the more memorable plots, there was only one horse to ride so my poor friend was stuck riding a cow and hanging on to its horns!

Do you have any writing rituals or routines?

I love to shut out the world for a few hours, play classical music, switch off the phone and email, and just be with my manuscript. Pure bliss!

Was Illuminations the original title of your book?

Mailbox Monday, October 14

It appears I haven't done a Mailbox Monday since August!  The host for October is Gina @ Book Dragon's Lair.

So here's the massive haul so far! To learn about any book, click the cover -- it'll open to the GoodReads page in a new tab/window.

What did you get this week?

For Review


Thanks to Pushkin Press


Yay, a new India Black short!

Some books for work. Yay!

Read-a-Thon: Hours 1 through 3 plus spine poetry!

So far, I've 'finished' only one book, and I suppose it's a bit of a cheat: my wife has been reading Pride and Prejudice aloud to me for the last month, and so we spent this morning finishing it.  She read, and I noshed on nutella waffles and sipped coffee.  Quite the lady of leisure!

Now my wife is off doing some home-y chores and I'm feeling a tad bit guilty.  So I'm dithering a bit -- doing a few read-a-thon challenges -- before I settle down to some more reading.

To the right is my contribution to the Spine Poetry mini-challenge.  

For those of you participating in Read-a-Thon, what are you reading?  I'm going to do my second 'cheat' and finish up yesterday's read, Cars and Girls, and then pick up something new.