Showing posts from September, 2014


One lone winner this week (and a late announcement at that, my apologies!)...

The winner of The Tapestry is ... Elisabeth H.!

Congrats to the winner!  A few more giveaways are coming up in the next few weeks so keep an eye out. 

Hope everyone is having a lovely, reading-filled weekend!

Weekend reads and going on a babymoon...

Tonight my wife and I are going on a "babymoon", a little weekend getaway before Little Reader arrives.  It was something we had wanted to do but didn't have strong feelings about what/where we would go ... until I learned that the famed artists residence, Yaddo, was offering a rare day of tours this weekend.

My wife and I first learned about Yaddo in 2008, when we accidentally stumbled across the special exhibit offered by the New York Public Library. Yaddo's artistic legacy is pretty incredible -- among their alum include Hannah Arendt, Newton Arvin, James Baldwin, Leonard Bernstein, Truman Capote, Louise Erdrich, Patricia Highsmith, Langston Hughes, Ted Hughes, Robert Lowell, Flannery O'Connor, Sylvia Plath, Katherine Anne Porter, Colm Tóibín, and David Foster Wallace.

Our literary weekend will start with a drive out to the Berkshires, where we hope to tour Herman Melville's Arrowhead and Edith Wharton's The Mount, then we'll power on to Saratoga …

Cover Reveal: A Day of Fire

So, in the countdown to the arrival of my Little Reader (in seven weeks, give or take), I'm really focusing on my TBR as I'm more than a little panicked about all the reading I won't be doing once I have a newborn.

I've been so excited for this book since I heard about it -- a novel about Pompeii, with interconnected stories from six fabulous historical fiction authors.

I'm delighted to share the book's cover with info about how to pre-order -- and a chance to win a copy for yourself!

Title:A Day of Fire: A Novel of Pompeii
Authors: Stephanie Dray, Ben Kane, E. Knight, Sophie Perinot, Kate Quinn and Vicky Alvear Shecter, with an introduction by Michelle Moran
Genre: Historical Fiction
Release Date: November 4, 2014
Preorder Now:US or UK

A Day of Fire: A Novel of Pompeii
Pompeii was a lively resort flourishing in the shadow of Mount Vesuvius at the height of the Roman Empire. When Vesuvius erupted in an explosion of flame and ash, the entire town would be destroyed. …

Bookish baby shower

This past weekend, our dear friends threw us a wonderful baby shower -- unsurprisingly, bookish themed!

My girlfriends used my wife's favorite baby book, All the World, as a guestbook --  and everyone left a note to us and our Little Reader.  It was wonderfully touching.

There weren't many baby games as there was mostly eating, gabbing, eating, present opening, eating, and catching up.

Among the many delicious things we served were:
One fish, two fish, red fish, goldfish (crackers)Green eggs and (deviled) ham Bread and jam (and brie) for FrancesCloudy with a chance of (cocktail) meatballsFrecklejuice (punch made w white grape juice, pomegranate juice, and ginger ale)The hungry hungry caterpillar (apples with spiced caramel cream cheese dip)Madeleine's French onion dipand of course, a wonderful book-shaped cake (made by the same friend who made my wife's 30th birthday shark cake.  Thanks, Natalie!).

We received so many wonderful gifts, including many, many books for our …

Weekend reads and a fab author reading...

Last night I got to see Jessie Burton, author of The Miniaturist, at one of my all-time fav indies, Harvard Bookstore with a friend I hadn't seen since April (hi, Tracy!). 

It was a wonderful reading and I'm even more charmed with Burton and her novel.  An actress, Burton's reading was faaaaaaaaaahbulous; turns out she's the reader for the British audiobook of The Miniaturist, so if you're an audiobook fan, get that edition stat! 

After reading her excerpt, she spoke a bit about how her novel came to be, which I found fascinating and remarkably helpful and inspiring, given that I'm mired in my own attempt at writing a novel.  (But I'm not daydreaming about an 11 publisher bidding war over my manuscript!) (Well, maybe a little.)

Burton shared some wonderful anecdotes, including a story about the piles of edits she received from both her British editor and American editor (400 pages each!).  Daunted by how she was going to reconcile these edits and still h…

Authority by Jeff VanderMeer

Author: Jeff VanderMeer

Genre: Fiction (Sci-Fi / Speculative / Contemporary / Scientific Expedition / Survivalism / Conspiracy / Government Coverup / Mutation)
Publisher/Publication Date: FSG Originals (5/6/2014)
Source: My public library

Rating: Liked.
Did I finish?: Yes.
One-sentence summary: The new director of the Southern Reach must untangle the events of the most recent expedition into Area X while also ascertaining what is going wrong with the employees at HQ -- and keeping sane when doing so.

Do I like the cover?: I do -- I love the cover design for the whole trilogy -- benign but creepy, with nods to the story.

First line: In Control's dreams it is early morning, the sky deep blue with just a twinge of light.

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

Why did I get this book?: I had to get it after the first one!

Review:Authority is the second book in Jeff VanderMeer's creepy and delicious speculative sci-fi-ish Southern Reach trilogy. (My review of the first book,…

Interview with Deborah Swift

Yesterday I reviewed Deborah Swift's Shadow on the Highway, her historical novel about a 17th century highwaywoman and her deaf maid.  I'm thrilled to share my interview with Ms. Swift, so read on to learn more about this book and her research.

Was Shadow on the Highway the original title of your book?

When I first began, it was Lady of the Highway. But then I realized there was too much material for one book, especially for younger readers, so I have saved that title for the last book of the series, which is told from Lady Katherine Fanshawe's (Kate's) point of view.

As you were writing Shadow on the Highway, was there a particular scene or character that surprised you?

I was surprised by the character of Abigail. At first I thought she might not be able to hold her own against someone as strong-willed as Lady Katherine, but she developed a stubborn persistence which enabled her to more than match her. Abigail, being the maid, is able to discover secrets that are hidde…

Shadow on the Highway by Deborah Swift

Title:Shadow on the Highway
Author: Deborah Swift

Genre: Fiction (Historical / 17th Century / UK / Class Differences / Maid / Disguises / English Civil War / Social Movements)
Publisher/Publication Date: Endeavor Press (7/15/2014)
Source:Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours

Rating: Liked.
Did I finish?: I did!
One-sentence summary: A young deaf woman becomes maid to the imperious Lady Katherine Fanshawe, but to her surprise, learns that her mistress has secrets and passions that put them both into danger.
Reading Challenges:E-book, Historical Fiction

Do I like the cover?: I do, although I don't think it precisely ties into the story.

I'm reminded of...: Michelle Diener

First line: I knew why they had sent me instead of Elizabeth to Markyate Manor, though they thought I hadn't understood.

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

Why did I get this book?: I'm a huge fan of Swift's novels.

Review: This intriguing YA historical novel has Swift's usual deft use of historical ba…

R.eaders I.mbibing P.eril IX

The R.eaders I.mbibing P.eril (RIP) reading challenge, set between September 1 and October 31, is a favorite among book bloggers. It's an easy challenge with a fab theme (especially for those of us who get spooky, foggy, or chilly autumns.)

The theme is easy. Any book in these genres:
Mystery.Suspense.Thriller.Dark Fantasy.Gothic.Horror.Supernatural. counts, and there's an opportunity to screen a film for the challenge, too! One can commit to reading one book (or more if one loves this genre).

I'm feeling strangely bold, so I'm going for the first level of the challenge, which is to read four books.

My tentative TBR is:

Ray Bradbury, Something Wicked This Way ComesHenry James, The Turn of the ScrewShirley Jackson, The Haunting of Hill HouseCherie Priest, Maplecroft (The Borden Dispatches #1)
Two of my TBR reads are mini-challenges within this one, which is nice -- these are shorties I think I'm likely to get in before Little Reader arrives in November!


Weekend reads and almost unpacked...

I'm not so unpacked I feel like I can share apartment shots yet (at least, not wide views) but I've posted a few heavily filtered closeups on my Instagram.  But once the boxes are out, I plan to share a shot of the bookshelves -- we went from five bookshelves, double stacked, to just two!!  And even then, there are few enough books I can stage stuff all artsy-like, as if from a magazine!

I'm still figuring out my new commute but have happily gotten back into reading (whew!).  (But I still need to catch up on my backlog of reviews!)

This weekend, I'm reading Janice Law's Moon Over Tangier, the third novel featuring 20th century painter Francis Bacon. (I uh-dore these books; see my reviews for Fires of London and The Prisoner of the Riviera.) Of course, I'm facing boxes and the inevitable post-move clean up, but it's worth it: our new place is cute and free of hateful landlords!

What are you reading this weekend?

2 A.M. at The Cat’s Pajamas by Marie-Helene Bertino

Title:2 A.M. at The Cat’s Pajamas
Author: Marie-Helene Bertino

Genre: Fiction (Contemporary / Philadelphia / Multiple POVs / Jazz Club / Musicians / School Teacher)
Publisher/Publication Date: Crown (8/5/2014)
Source:TLC Book Tours

Rating: Liked very much.
Did I finish?: I did!
One-sentence summary: Over twenty-four hours, a gifted but troubled child, a divorced teacher, and the owner of a failing jazz club find joy, sadness, and triumph
Reading Challenges:E-book, NetGalley & Edelweiss

Do I like the cover?: Oh, I love it -- it's so retro and jazzy.

First line: Snow flurries fall in the city.

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

Why did I get this book?: The title -- it's too intriguing to resist!

Review: I was immediately charmed with this book from the first page: the narrative style is musical and playful, the characters varied and full of personality, and the heart of the story emotional without being cloying.

Set on Christmas Eve Eve in Philadelphia, the novel follows a variety …

Cover Reveal: Nancy Bilyeau's The Tapestry

I've been wild for Nancy Bilyeau's Tudor-era historical thrillers and her delightful heroine, ex-nun Joanna Stafford (my reviews for The Crown and The Chalice).  I've been on pins-and-needles for her third book, and am thrilled to be part of the cover reveal for it.  Even better -- I'm giving away a paperback copy of it before its release!

Title: The Tapestry
Author: Nancy Bilyeau
Publication Date: March 24, 2015 Touchstone Publishing Formats: eBook, Hardcover Pages: 390
Genre: Historical Mystery Series: Joanna Stafford, Book Three

In THE CROWN, Sister Joanna Stafford searched for a Dark Ages relic that could save her priory from Cromwell’s advancing army of destruction. In THE CHALICE, Joanna was drawn into an international conspiracy against Henry VIII himself as she struggled to learn the truth behind a prophecy of his destruction.

Now, in THE TAPESTRY, Joanna Stafford finally chooses her own destiny.

After her Dominican priory in Dartford closed forever—collatera…

Sinful Folk by Ned Hayes

Title:Sinful Folk
Author: Ned Hayes

Genre: Fiction (Historical / Medieval / 14th Century / UK / Rural Life / Murder Mystery / Pilgrimage / Secret Identities)
Publisher/Publication Date: Campanile Books (1/22/2014)
Source:TLC Book Tours

Rating: Liked very much.
Did I finish?: I did!
One-sentence summary: After five boys are murdered, a band of villagers take their bodies to court to seek out justice, but face violent trials and tribulations along the way.
Reading Challenges:E-book, Historical Fiction

Do I like the cover?: I adore it -- love the woodcut style illustration and the feel, which perfectly captures the novel's story.

First line: In the end, I listen to my fear.

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

Why did I get this book?: The setting and melancholy premise fascinated me.

Review: Set in 1377, Sinful Folk follows a band of starving villagers who are pilgrimaging to court to plead for justice following the suspicious deaths of their sons. Five boys burned to death in a house, i…