Posts

Showing posts from 2014

Books Read in 2014

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January

Linda Bamber, Taking What I Like
Colin Falconer, Isabella: Braveheart of France
J. Boyce Gleason, Anvil of God
Elaine Neil Orr, A Different Sun
Nicky Penttila, An Untitled Lady
Sam Thomas, The Midwife's Tale [reread]
Sam Thomas, The Harlot's Tale
Heather Webb, Becoming Josephine

February

Kim Cooper, The Kept Girl
Michelle Diener, Mistress of the Wind
Nancy Horan, Under the Wide and Starry Sky
Marci Jefferson, Girl on the Golden Coin
Nina Siegal, The Anatomy Lesson
Peter Swanson, The Girl with a Clock for a Heart
Michele Zackheim, Last Train to Paris

March

Ruth Hull Chatlien, The Ambitious Madame Bonaparte
Laurel Corona, The Mapmaker's Daughter
Nicole Dweck, The Debt of Tamar
Daniel Levine, Hyde
M.J. Neary, Never Be At Peace
Shannon Selin, Napoleon in America
Jan Shapin, A Snug Life Somewhere
Carol Strickland, The Eagle and the Swan

April

D.W. Bradbridge, The Winter Siege
Mario Giordano, 1,000 Feelings For Which There Are No Names
Sandra Gulland, The Shadow Queen
Viole…

Top Ten Reads of 2013

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First things first: you're not reading this wrong!  This is indeed my top ten post for 2013 -- not 2014.  Somehow, I never posted this last December or January, and I liked these books too much to let them go without some praise.  My top ten of 2014 will be posted later this week.

Now, my favorite reads from last year (all of which I still passionately recommend and think about!).

It was incredibly challenging assembling my top ten reads for 2013. So many standout, stellar books this year! In the end, my final top ten list is made up of the reads that emotionally rocked me in some shape or way, that I haven't stopped thinking about, that I have purchased or gifted for others.

Seven of the ten were written by women. Eight of the ten are historical fiction. (Pretty on par with other top tens since I've started blogging.) Four are part of a series, but only one is the end of the series; the rest are the start. Two are reads from Literary Wives, and both are books I wouldn&…

Weekend reads and getting back to reading...

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Even though we moved three months ago, we just unpacked Little Reader's bookshelf last weekend. (Just in time for his grandmother's visit this weekend!)  We're mostly just reading Hello, Bugs to Little Reader right now -- but he really does seem to like the images!

Unbelievably, I read a whole book last week! It was fabulous, too -- Megan Mayhew Bergman's short story collection Almost Famous Women.  (Review to come in January when it releases.) But I managed to get reading in while nursing or pumping, and I'm glad to be back in the reading groove.

My read for this weekend (and beyond) is How To Be A Heroine: Or, what I’ve learned from reading too much by Samantha Ellis. It's very readable for non-fiction, a mix of memoir and personal essay about some favorite, beloved, and well-known heroines from Western lit. It makes me want to revisit (or read for the first time) every book she mentions! (But that's a wish for later -- I'm not that bold to attempt a…

Winners

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Life is a blur these days -- Little Reader turned three weeks! -- and it feels like it's been forever that he's been here and that he's still a new arrival.  But every day it gets a little easier to do more and more, and I've got books by me for when he's nursing -- I've got in a page or two now and then!

Here are my giveaway winners!


The winner of The Tiger Queens is ... Alise!

The winner of The Spoils of Avalon is ... Susan T!

Congrats to the winners! I don't have any upcoming giveaways for a few weeks, but I'm going to try to keep reviewing -- although at this point, it may just be breastfeeding books, board books, and other parenting guides. I'll try to keep it interesting!

Interview with Mary Burns

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I ended up having to pass on a number of delicious tours while on maternity leave, and one I'm particularly heartbroken about is the tour for Mary Burns' historical mystery, The Spoils of Avalon. Set in 1877, the novel follows famed painter John Singer Sargent and his childhood friend Violet Paget, better known as writer Vernon Lee. I love the whole setup of this series, and I'm thrilled I was able to interview Ms. Burns in lieu of a review.  Hope you're as intrigued as I am -- read on to learn more about her book, her writing, and what she does when she's not writing.  And be sure to enter the giveaway to win a copy!

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

My very first piece of fiction was a short story I wrote in the eighth grade (WAY back in 1964) about…ta da! The Beatles! I wrote an ‘odyssey’ story about them that actually pre-dated “A Hard Day’s Night”! The four lads had to get in high gear when John Lennon’s (then) wife Cynthia and newborn so…

Winners!

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My apologies for the delay in announcing these winners -- newborns are a bit exhausting!  I'm thrilled to share them now, however.

The winners of Texts from Jane Eyre are ... Tracy B., Shannon D., and Jennifer @ The Relentless Reader!

The winner of A Day of Fire is ... Craig W.!

Congrats to the winners!  There's one more giveaway going on and a few more coming.  Hopefully I'll get back to reading and can share my reviews of the last few books from before I gave birth.

Interview with Stephanie Thornton

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I have loved every singleone of Stephanie Thornton's historical novels and the only reason I'm not reviewing her newest, The Tiger Queens: The Women of Genghis Khan, is because I've got a six-day old baby.  But I'm dying to dig in (thank you, Ms. Thornton, for sending me a copy!) and I'm excited to share my interview with Ms. Thornton about this book and her writing of it. Be sure to enter the giveaway to win a copy, too!

Was The Tiger Queens the original title of your book?

Actually, it was! I'm three for three with my titles so far... They've all been my creation, which is pretty rare for authors these days. But The Tiger Queens is just the perfect for all of these women, considering how fierce they had to be to survive not only Mongolia's harsh climate, but also the political tumult of Genghis' conquests.

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

Fatima, a Persian captive, was actually the …

Little Reader is here!

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I apologize for disappearing suddenly, but I went into labor last Monday, and at 1:35am on Wednesday, Little Reader arrived! 

Meet Winslow Alcott.  He's about 21 inches long and today, at five days in, weights about 7 pounds, 12 ounces.  He's such a sweetie, although we're all learning how to live together.  Needless to say, I haven't been reading much but I'm hoping once we figure out our routine together, I can resume reading regularly.

I hope to keep updating here, however -- I have some wonderful author interviews coming up, a few giveaways, too, and I will try to keep in touch with folks -- but apologies if I seem to go MIA for a while.

To close, one more photo of the Little Reader...

Interview with the authors of A Day of Fire, part two

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I'm thrilled to share part two of my interview with the authors of A Day of Fire: Vicky Alvear Shecter, Sophie Perinot, Ben Kane, Kate Quinn, E. Knight, and Stephanie Dray (here's my review!). They kindly agreed to do a roundtable style conversation about the writing of this book. Be sure to check out part one of the interview to learn how this premise came about and what it was like for these novelists to write together (and there's a chance to win a Kindle copy of this book, too!)

What surprised you most about collaborating with the other authors?

Sophie: The sheer joy of it. This can be a very solitary business and so writers often come together to talk out snags in their work with fellow-writer friends. But this time group brainstorming had an extra layer of “all for one and one for all.” It was the most social writing experience I’ve ever had.

Ben: This part is where I missed out by living on the other side of the Atlantic! I know that four of the others met up a cou…

Cover Reveal: A Study in Death

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I had the pleasure of meeting Anna Lee Huber at the Historical Novel Society's conference in St. Petersburg, FL in 2013.  We were both audience members at a panel and she had a fabulously striking manicure. That got us talking, and then I learned about her 19th-century historical mystery series. Her books are on my maternity leave TBR, and I'm delighted to share details about her fourth release, coming out next summer.

A STUDY IN DEATH is the latest installment in the award-winning Lady Darby mystery series by national bestselling author Anna Lee Huber. It will release on July 7th, 2015 from Berkley Publishing, but is available for preorder now.

Scotland, 1831. After a tumultuous courtship complicated by three deadly inquiries, Lady Kiera Darby is thrilled to have found both an investigative partner and a fiancĂ© in Sebastian Gage. But with her well-meaning—and very pregnant—sister planning on making their wedding the event of the season, Kiera could use a respite from the impen…

Interview with the authors of A Day of Fire, part one

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Yesterday I reviewed the faaaaaaaaahbulous A Day of Fire, a marvelous historical novel set during the eruption of Mount Vesuvius. Uniquely, it's penned by six authors -- Vicky Alvear Shecter, Sophie Perinot, Ben Kane, Kate Quinn, E. Knight, and Stephanie Dray -- but reads as a single work, devastating and exciting in equal part.

On a whim, I asked if the authors would consider doing a roundtable interview/discussion for my blog and to my delight, the authors agreed! I'm so excited to share this interview -- it confirms what I've suspected: that authors really are among the most fun people out there! I've split the interview into two parts, so here's part one (part two to be live on Friday).

And I loved this book so much I've decided to splurge and offer a giveaway, so be sure to enter!

How did this project come about?

Stephanie Dray: It started when Kate, Sophie, and I were celebrating Kate’s latest book release and began chatting about how, in the romance genr…

A Day of Fire by Various

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Title:A Day of Fire: A Novel of Pompeii
Author: Vicky Alvear Shecter, Sophie Perinot, Ben Kane, Kate Quinn, E. Knight, and Stephanie Dray

Genre: Fiction (Historical / Ancient / 1st Century AD / Italy / Natural Disaster / Collaborative Novel / Interconnected Stories)
Publisher/Publication Date: Knight Media, LLC (11/4/2014)
Source: The authors.

Rating: Loved.
Did I finish?: I did.
One-sentence summary: The story of seven citizens of Pompeii on the day of the fateful Mount Vesuvius eruption.
Reading Challenges:E-book, Historical Fiction

Do I like the cover?: Eh -- I'm not wild about it, but it gets across what's important: volcano, and the kickass authors.

First line: I discreetly tightened my loincloth as I approached Pompeii's Sarno Gate.

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

Why did I get this book?: I'm a fan of all the authors in this collection -- I couldn't resist!

Review: I love the idea of collaborative novels but find that unless it's a duo, anything more is usua…

Texts from Jane Eyre by Mallory Ortberg

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Title:Texts from Jane Eyre
Author: Mallory Ortberg

Genre: Fiction (Humor / Inspired By / Classic Literature)
Publisher/Publication Date: Henry Holt and Co. (11/3/2014)
Source: The publisher.

Rating: Loooooooooooooooooooved.
Did I finish?: Yeah, I did.
One-sentence summary: More than sixty poems, novels, and authors of classic and contemporary Western lit recast as a series of hilarious text messages.

Do I like the cover?: I do -- it captures precisely the feel of this.

First line: MEG
MEG
MEG WHAT'S ALL THIS
WHAT'S ALL THIS I'M HEARING ABOUT YOUR GETTING MARRIED
tell me it's a wretched lie
, from Little Women (p120)

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

Why did I get this book?: I have a soft spot for humor books that take on classic lit.

Review: Here's my one sentence review: this book is so hilarious, it's coming with me to the delivery room for when I need a laugh. (My midwife says laughing helps relieve pain and anxiety).

This deliciously irreverent volume re-imagin…

Winner!

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We're having a nor'easter here in Boston -- it's cold and rainy and a tiny bit snowy.  Despite myself, I rather like it, although everyone keeps teasing me the worse the weather, the more likely I am to go into labor.  (Eleven days and counting!)

The winner of Goddess Born is ... Holly!

Congrats to the winner!  I'll have a few more giveaways coming up, although things are slowing down while I go on "maternity leave" from the blog.  I don't plan to be wholly absent, but am not participating in tours for a few months, until I know I can go back to reading on a schedule.

Interview with Lois Leveen

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Last week I reviewed Lois Leveen's wonderful Juliet's Nurse, a novel of Shakespeare's tragic couple, told from the viewpoint of Juliet's wetnurse. But rather than simply retell the story, Leveen delved into life for a medieval domestic, and made this humorous character warm, earthy, and human. I'm thrilled to share my interview with Leveen, so read on to learn more about her and her writing.

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

It didn't *have* a plot. I wrote poetry and essays and was even editor of the literary magazine in high school, but although I devoured novels, I never tried fiction writing until I was in college. At Harvard, I was taking the required composition class in a special section that allowed you to write short stories along with essays. Well, the teacher (whose name I have happily forgotten) read my stories and told me, "you don't have a plot." I thought, "oh, I don't know how to write fiction.&q…

Weekend reads and almost ready...

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We're finally close to being prepped for Little Reader's arrival (I'm not sure I'll ever be ready!). About two weeks or so to go!

As we had to move into a one bedroom, we're sharing nursery space, so we decided to pick a muted nautical theme (with hints of Moby Dick, my wife's favorite book) for our room.

We got an inexpensive duvet cover from Ikea in a muted cream and slate blue stripe, and using a cheaper Ikea mirror, my wife managed to replicate a pricy Restoration Hardware mirror I had my heart set on.

I found the striking Moby Dick decal on Etsy, and my wife refinished all our bedroom furniture with chalk paint, to give things a distressed look. And since we're swimming in adorable baby clothes, we strung up a clothes line to show of a rotation of our favorites (including ones, no doubt, Little Reader will quickly outgrow).

It's been fun nesting, although we still have one more thing to do: install the car seat!  After that, I think I'll feel pre…

Juliet's Nurse by Lois Leveen

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Title:Juliet's Nurse
Author: Lois Leveen

Genre: Fiction (Historical / 14th Century / Verona / Italy / Inspired by Shakespeare / Mother/Daughter Relationships / Tragedy)
Publisher/Publication Date: Emily Bestler Books/Atria (9/2014)
Source:Italy Book Tours

Rating: Liked very much.
Did I finish?: I did.
One-sentence summary: The story of Shakespeare's famed Juliet and her tragic love are told by her beloved wetnurse.
Reading Challenges:E-book, Historical Fiction, NetGalley & Edelweiss

Do I like the cover?: I do.

I'm reminded of...: Melanie Benjamin, Laurel Corona, Nicole Galland

First line: Two nights before Lammas Eve, I go to bed believing myself fat and happy.

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

Why did I get this book?: I really enjoyed Leveen's previous novel, and I love literary retellings.

Review: I love books that take on familiar stories from unique angles, and those that explore Shakespeare are particular favorites. (If you haven't yet read Nicole Galland's I,…

Winner!

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Thank you, everyone, for your kind words recently.  I'm so grateful for all of you! It was a busy weekend, which is why I'm late with this -- my apologies!

The winner of Night of a Thousand Stars is ... Antonia!

Congrats to the winner!  Be sure to check out my open giveaway -- I have a few more coming! Hope everyone is having a great weekend!

Weekend reads and many transitions...

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The last few weeks have been busy, emotional, and full of transition.  I celebrated my sixth wedding anniversary last weekend, which also marked four weeks until our Little Reader is due.  As we scramble, badly, to finish our baby prep, I learned my youngest cat, Grace, had kidney failure and would need to be euthanized.

Last night, she passed away on her own, in my arms, comforted by our remaining elderly cat who slept with us until Grace's last moments. It's been very hard this year to have lost two cats, both of whom I've had for more than a decade, ahead of Little Reader's arrival -- to lose loved ones just before a new loved one comes feels, well, cold.

I haven't felt much like reading -- clearly a theme of my pregnancy, shamefully -- but have three current reads that are a welcome distraction from the stress and heartbreak. This weekend, I'm finishing up Sherry Jones' The Sharp Hook of Love, which is a decadent and engrossing novel of Heloise and Abel…