Showing posts from October, 2014

Interview with Lois Leveen

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...

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

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,…


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...

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…

Interview with Kari Edgren

Last week I reviewedGoddess Born, a delicious historical romance set in 18th century Pennsylvania, with a semi-divine heroine and a dreamy, mysterious hero. It was a wildly fun escapist read, just what I need in the countdown to Little Reader's arrival, and I'm delighted to share my interview with the author, Kari Edgren. Please read on to learn more about her and this book, and be sure to enter the giveaway at the end!

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

When I was younger I did all my storytelling in my head, so my first recorded piece of fiction didn’t come about until well into adulthood. That was about a girl who moved from Seattle to Mississippi after her father died and ended up falling in love with a ghost. I seem to kill the parents a lot in my stories, which is odd since I adore my parents. It must be an issue with authority.

Do you have any writing rituals or routines?

I’m one of those rare writers who can’t write in my pajamas. I have to be sh…

Goddess Born by Kari Edgren

Title:Goddess Born
Author: Kari Edgren

Genre: Fiction (Historical / 18th Century / Pennsylvania / Supernatural / Romance / Secret Identities / Witchcraft)
Publisher/Publication Date: Carina Press (5/29/2014)
Source:Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours

Rating: Loved it!
Did I finish?: Inhaled it!
One-sentence summary: A young healer, descendant of a goddess, finds herself in a marriage of convenience in order to protect herself and her family's estate -- only to end up accused of witchcraft.
Reading Challenges:E-book, Historical Fiction, Immigrant Stories

Do I like the cover?: Ish -- it's very pretty, and I love me some drapey dresses, but doesn't capture the story for me.

First line: The air was still, the sky silent and empty over the wheat fields that ran undisturbed to the forest's edge.

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

Why did I get this book?: Bloggers I trust were raving about it.

Review: This book has one of the most unique premises I've read in a while: set in 1…

Interview with Deanna Raybourn

I'm so excited to share my interview with Deanna Raybourn. Raybourn has a passionate collection of fans, of which I am now a member (read my review of her newest release, Night of a Thousand Stars).  Read on to learn more about her and her writing, her book, and what she does when she's not writing.  Be sure to enter the giveaway, too!

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

It was a governessy Victorian novel with an amnesia subplot. I had just finished rereading Jane Eyre and was feeling pretty into all things Gothic. I still think the plot has possibilities, so maybe one day I’ll rewrite it just for fun. Okay, no, I probably won’t because I’m too busy writing things I’m actually under contract to write, but I like the idea of writing it over. Only the basic premise is salvageable, I’m quite sure.

Do you have any writing rituals or routines?

I prefer to start a new book on the first of a month. For each book, I create a collage that hangs opposite my desk t…

Night of a Thousand Stars by Deanna Raybourn

Title:Night of a Thousand Stars
Author: Deanna Raybourn

Genre: Fiction (Historical / 1920s / UK/ Middle East / Romance / Treasure / Espionage)
Publisher/Publication Date: Harlequin MIRA (10/1/2014)
Source:Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours

Rating: Loved.
Did I finish?: Yes!
One-sentence summary: An impetuous socialite abandons her fiancee at the altar and is helped out of hot water by a handsome clergyman, but when she goes to London to thank him, finds herself becoming embroiled in a complicated mystery in the Middle East.
Reading Challenges:E-book, Historical Fiction, NetGalley & Edelweiss

Do I like the cover?: Sort of? It's pretty, but not a favorite of mine.

I'm reminded of...: Lauren Willig

First line: "I say, if you're running away from your wedding, you're going about it quite wrong."

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

Why did I get this book?: Between the author and the setting, I couldn't resist.

Review: I am the newest member of the passionate Dean…

Weekend reads and finally, some quiet...

It's our first weekend in a few in which we're not crazy busy...and I'm grateful.  It's been a wonderful few weeks -- our baby shower, pregnancy photo shoot, and babymoon -- but I'm glad to be home to finish up some nesting.  (There are a shocking amount of boxes left unpacked, le sigh.)

My weekend will be spent finishing up two on-going reads, the delicious Night of a Thousand Stars by Deanna Raybourn and the equally fabulous Goddess Born by Kari Edgren.  I'm also  hoping to sneak in Jeff VanderMeer's Acceptance, the final book in his Southern Reach trilogy that has me absolutely gripped.

What are you reading this weekend?

Dark Aemilia by Sally O'Reilly

Title:Dark Aemilia
Author: Sally O'Reilly

Genre: Fiction (Historical / 17th Century / UK / London / Theater / William Shakespeare / Poet / Marriage / Motherhood / Witchcraft)
Publisher/Publication Date: Picador (5/27/2014)
Source: The publisher

Rating: Liked greatly.
Did I finish?: Oh, I did.
One-sentence summary: A beautiful courtier -- who is also an aspiring poet -- recounts her tumultuous life, including her affair with playwright William Shakespeare and her dabbling with magic.
Reading Challenges:Historical Fiction

Do I like the cover?: I uh-dore it -- so dramatic and striking.

I'm reminded of...: Karen Essex, David Liss

First line: I am a witch for the modern age.

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

Why did I get this book?: I love learning about obscure women writers.

Review: This bawdy, dramatic, and atmospheric historical novel brings to life Aemilia Bassano Lanyer, a nearly forgotten Elizabethan poet -- the first woman in England to be published -- who, in O'Reilly's h…