Showing posts from January, 2014

Weekend reads and birthday month...

My wife's birthday was last weekend, which coincided with the ten year anniversary of our meeting! She got everything she wanted, from a homemade gourmet dinner to marathon-ing the Star Wars movies because I had never seen them. But we have a tradition in our family of celebrating the 'birthday month' which means my wife gets a few more weekends of fancy dinners made by me and dictating how we spend our weekends.  (Non-negotiable will be disassembling our Christmas tree, which we've obviously put off for weeks, oops!)

This weekend I'm reading Peter Swanson's The Girl with a Clock for a Heart. (The picture is from last night, not this morning -- I only do champagne before noon, and only on weekends!)

What are you reading this weekend?

Book Spotlight: Cloaked in Danger by Jeannie Ruesch

I have a not so secret love affair with historical romances, and I'm happy to share info about a new one that's on tour right now!  If you're intrigued, be sure to enter my giveaway.

Cloaked in Danger by Jeannie Ruesch

Publication Date: January 27, 2014
Carina Press

Aria Whitney has little in common with the delicate ladies of London society. Her famous father made his fortune hunting archaeological treasures, and her rustic upbringing has left her ill prepared for a life of parties and frippery. But when Gideon Whitney goes missing in Egypt, Aria must embrace the unknown. Armed with only the short list of highborn men who’d backed her father’s venture, she poses as a woman looking for a husband. She doesn’t intend to find one.

Adam Willoughby, Earl of Merewood, finds London’s strangest new debutante fascinating, but when he catches her investigating his family’s secrets, he threatens to ruin her reputation. He doesn’t intend to enjoy it so much.


Facebook Party for Stephanie Dray's Daughters of the Nile

In December I read the final book in Stephanie Dray's delicious trilogy about Cleopatra's daughter, Daughters of the Nile. I adored it and it made my top ten of 2013 (which I hope to post someday!).

To celebrate, Stephanie Dray is hosting a Facebook 'party' this Thursday, Jan 30th, from 12pm Eastern to 10pm Easter.  She and a bunch of awesome authors (and me!!) will be hanging around, giving away prizes and chatting about their books. I hope you'll consider joining it -- it's sort of like a wild chat with a bunch of your bookish, geeky friends, and if you've never participated one, I hope you'll give it a try!

On January 30th, from 12pm EST to 10pm EST, an impressive roster of historical fiction authors and bloggers are hosting a Facebook party in honor of historical fiction, the 2,023rd anniversary of the Ara Pacis, and the release of Stephanie Dray's newest book, Daughters of the Nile: A novel of Cleopatra's Daughter.
Some participating auth…

Anvil of God by J. Boyce Gleason

Title:Anvil of God
Author: J. Boyce Gleason

Genre: Fiction (Historical / 8th Century / France / Northern Europe / Court Intrigue / Sibling Relationships / Historical Figures Fictionalized / Medieval Christianity / Paganism)
Publisher/Publication Date: iUniverse (7/26/13)
Source:Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours

Rating: Loved.
Did I finish?: Yes, I inhaled this one!
One-sentence summary: In 8th century Europe, four heirs battle each other for freedom, power, and happiness after the death of their powerful patriarch.
Reading Challenges:Historical Fiction

Do I like the cover?: I'm on the fence. At moments, I really like it, and at others, I feel like it gives the novel a Dan Brown-y feel (which it isn't!).

I'm reminded of...: Marion Zimmer Bradley

First line: "God's will be done," Carloman whispered as the forward line closed on the enemy.

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

Why did I get this book?: Saw so many great reviews of it, I wanted in on the excitement!



It's getting balmy now -- nearly 40 today! -- but as it is my wife's birthday, we're doing some extravagant baking and cooking, marathon-ing the Star Wars movies since I've never seen them, and drinking our body weight in champagne.

The winner of The Harlot's Tale is ... Kara S.!

The winner of An Untitled Lady is ... Hanna @ Booking in Heels!

Congrats to the winners! Folks have until the end of Tuesday to respond or I'll redraw. Be sure to check out my active giveaways -- there are more coming next week.

Weekend reads and negative temperatures

Another ridiculously bitterly icy wintry weekend ahead of me!

I was feeling a bit book funk-ish until I started Anvil of God by J. Boyce Gleason. I'm on the tour for it, and would have passed except it got rave reviews and now I know why.

Snobbishly, I'm not wild about hist fic that doesn't have some ladies in it, and I was apprehensive that it would be all guys fighting all the time.  But so far, it's not!  The guys are rather plotty and there's a very kickass heroine I completely love. (Also, speaking of ladies, I don't know if you can tell, but the model on the cover is rocking abso-fantastic-lutely fabu eye shadow and I might attempt it one day...)

What are you reading this weekend?  Are you facing below zero weather too?

Isabella: Braveheart of France by Colin Falconer

Title:Isabella: Braveheart of France
Author: Colin Falconer

Genre: Fiction (Historical / 14th Century / Edward II / Marriage / Royal Intrigue / Homosexuality)
Publisher/Publication Date: Cool Gus Publishing (9/3/2013)
Source:Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours

Rating: Liked a good deal.
Did I finish?: I raced through it.
One-sentence summary: The life of Isabella of France, a 14th century queen of England.
Reading Challenges:E-book, Historical Fiction, What's In a Name

Do I like the cover?: I do. I don't think the costume is accurate to the era, but whatever, I like the jewels.

First line: You will love this man.

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

Why did I get this book?: Very curious about medieval royalty and I've long wanted to read one of Falconer's novels.

Review: I went into this book having no idea who Isabella was nor even when this book was set. (In my copy, the first time a date appears is Chapter 16.) Despite that small hindrance, I had no problem getting into …

A Different Sun by Elaine Neil Orr

Title:A Different Sun
Author: Elaine Neil Orr

Genre: Fiction (Historical / 19th Century / Georgia / West Africa / Missionaries / Slavery / Marriage)
Publisher/Publication Date: Berkley Trade (4/2/2013)
Source:TLC Book Tours

Rating: Loved. LOVED. This will make my top 10 of 2014!
Did I finish?: I couldn't put this book down!
One-sentence summary: In the mid-1800s, a young Georgia woman marries a charismatic minister with a checkered past and strange ailments and moves to West Africa, where her faith in herself, God, and her husband are challenged.
Reading Challenges:Historical Fiction

Do I like the cover?: Actually, I don't. It has elements of the novel featured, so I ought to, but something about it doesn't gel for me.

I'm reminded of...: Geraldine Brooks, Amanda Coplin, Barbara Kingsolver

First line: In gray morning light, Emma Davis stood before the old slave's garden at the back of his cabin, looking upon the precise rows of cabbage planted for fall.

Buy, Borrow, or Avoid…

Interview with Heather Webb

Yesterday I reviewedBecoming Josephine by Heather Webb, a delightful debut novel about one of my favorite historical figures, Josephine Bonaparte. I just fell in love with Webb's articulation of her, and I'm excited to share my interview with her. Read on to learn more about her and her book and what she does when she's not writing.

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

You’re looking at it! LOL. Becoming Josephine was my first novel. I had a handful of historical romance short stories that I piddled with in junior high, but I never finished any of them.

Do you have any writing rituals or routines?

I leave my house every Saturday and Sunday morning and hunker down in a coffee shop somewhere and write for 5-7 hours. It’s when I get the bulk of it done, mostly because I receive fewer emails and have less social media crapola to deal with on those days. But also, because I still have young kids at home. Weekends, my husband is home. I’m looking forward to ne…

Becoming Josephine by Heather Webb

Title:Becoming Josephine
Author: Heather Webb

Genre: Fiction (Historical / 18th Century / France / Historical Figures Fictionalized / French Revolution / Napoleon Bonaparte / Political Intrigue)
Publisher/Publication Date: Plume Books (12/31/2013)
Source:Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours

Rating: Liked a great deal.
Did I finish?: I raced through it!
One-sentence summary: The tumultuous, troublesome, sparkling, and charmed life of Josephine Bonaparte.
Reading Challenges:Historical Fiction

Do I like the cover?: I do -- it's rather eye-catching for a historical novel (no headless woman!).

I'm reminded of...: Lynn Cullen, Karen Harper

First line: The missive arrived in the night.

Buy, Borrow, or Avoid?: Borrow or buy, especially if you're a Francophile.

Why did I get this book?: I adore Josephine and I've been eager for this book since meeting Webb at the Historical Novel Society conference last June.

Review: One of my all-time favorite trilogies is Sandra Gulland's series a…

An Untitled Lady by Nicky Penttila

Title:An Untitled Lady
Author: Nicky Penttila

Genre: Fiction (Historical / 19th Century / Manchester / Class / Manufacturing / Political Unrest / Romance / Regency)
Publisher/Publication Date: Musa Publishing (12/20/2013)
Source:Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tour

Rating: I liked, very much!
Did I finish?: I did!
One-sentence summary: A young woman arrives in Manchester for an arranged marriage, only to find her prospects radically changed, and she struggles to make her way in the world amidst the political tumult in Manchester.
Reading Challenges:E-book, Historical Fiction

Do I like the cover?: Eh -- it's fine. It works as a non-garish romance cover.

First line: Nash first saw her as an apparition, a gilt London trinket set down by mistake at a dusty crossroads three miles north of town.

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

Why did I get this book?: I have a soft spot for Regency romances but the political themes in the book's blurb really sealed the deal.

Review: I was taken by surpr…

Taking What I Like by Linda Bamber

Title:Taking What I Like
Author: Linda Bamber

Genre: Fiction (Short Stories / Shakespeare / Literary Retelling / Academia / Teaching / Prisons / Jane Eyre)
Publisher/Publication Date: Black Sparrow Press (10/22/2013)
Source:TLC Book Tours

Rating: Liked.
Did I finish?: I did.
One-sentence summary: Eight short stories play with Shakespeare, imagine teaching Jane Eyre interminably, and examine the emotional impact of a painting.

Do I like the cover?: I do -- it's bold and eye-catching.

I'm reminded of...: Margaret Atwood

First line: Not Jane Eyre again.

Buy, Borrow, or Avoid?: Borrow or buy if you like short stories that play with literature's greats (Shakespeare and Jane Eyre).

Why did I get this book?: I like Shakespeare and stories that mess with great stories.

Review: This collection of eight short stories touches upon, reimagines, wrestles with, and are inspired by Shakespeare, Jane Eyre, and Thomas Eakins' painting, The Gross Clinic.  Funny, emotional, knowing, meta, and geek…

Interview with Sam Thomas

Yesterday I reviewed Sam Thomas' The Harlot's Tale, the second novel featuring 17th century midwife Bridget Hodgson.  She's a fascinating heroine, and this is an intriguing, appealing series.  I'm thrilled to share an interview with the author, so read on to learn more about him, his books, and what he does when he's not writing.

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

That's a tough one! In high school I think I wrote some short stories, but have no memory of what the plot was. So my first piece of fiction - that I remember - was my first book, The Midwife's Tale!

Do you have any writing rituals or routines?

I have to, or I'd get nothing done. This time of year it is: Get up at 5:00, and brew a pot of coffee. While the coffee brews, empty the dishwasher, and peel and separate two (not one, but two!) Cutie oranges. (I eat the cuties with a fork so my fingers don't get sticky.) Then I write.

I wrote my first three books on the computer,…

The Harlot's Tale by Sam Thomas

Title:The Harlot's Tale
Author: Sam Thomas

Genre: Fiction (Historical / 17th Century / York / Midwife / Religion / Murder Mystery)
Publisher/Publication Date: Minotaur Books (1/7/2014)
Source:Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours

Rating: Liked!
Did I finish?: I did!
One-sentence summary: Midwife Bridget and her assistant Martha
Reading Challenges:Ebook, Historical Fiction, Netgalley & Edelweiss

Do I like the cover?: I'm not wild about the design of the covers for this series, but they're distinct, and I'm pleased they're consistent.

First line: Jane!

Buy, Borrow, or Avoid?: Borrow or buy, especially if you like mysteries with a unique protagonist and locale.

Why did I get this book?: I'd read and enjoyed Thomas' previous novel.

Review: Set during a sweltering August in 1645, The Harlot's Tale returns to the dirty, tumultuous city of York and midwife Bridget Hodgson and her friends. Taking place a year after the first novel, The Midwife's Tale, this novel …

Mailbox Monday, January 5

My first Mailbox Monday for 2014!

The winter blizzard delayed mail for a few days, which meant, once delivery resumed, I had a wonderful deluge of arrivals! A delicious mix of genres and themes. I can't wait to read each one!

To learn more about a title, click the image; the GoodReads page should open in a new window/tab.

What did you get? Have you heard of any of these? For those of you who celebrate Christmas, did you get the bookish haul you wanted?

For Review


Thanks to Pushkin Children's Books


My Christmas present from my artist brother-in-law (the one who designed my masthead), who hoped to inspire my writing!