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Showing posts from December, 2015

Midweek reads and wrapping up...

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I keep setting myself up for failure.

I want to write my top ten of 2015 blog post, but nearly half of my top ten reads have been unreviewed, so I keep putting that post off in hopes I'll rally and write those reviews. And I've got some thoughts on changes to this blog for 2016 I want to explore, but don't want to dive into that until I wrap up 2015 stuff. And I want to do some of that fun reading challenge geekiness but haven't nailed down my 2016 TBR.

This is what I do to myself all the time, be it blogging or writing or any other endeavor: lots of rules about how/when I do it. If I make one resolution in 2016, it'll be to give myself permission to just do what I want, the moment I want to do it.

Today is the first snow of the season in Boston, and it's deliciously dramatic from my living room window. My wife had to go to work in it, but I'm happily snuggled inside, although despite the wealth of books around me, I'm not entirely interested in readin…

2016 Reading Challenge: Book Riot's Read Harder

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I was so intrigued by Book Riot's Read Harder challenge when it came out last year, but was not in the place to participate. But this year, with my goal to do more free-range reading, it seemed more reasonable. What I especially love about reading challenges like this one is that I'm forced to seek out some reads well beyond my regular reading -- and in this day and age when there's so much misunderstanding and lack of empathy toward those who are "other" than one's self, that feels very important.


Read Harder 2016

Read a horror book

Read a nonfiction book about science.

Read a collection of essays.

Read a book out loud to someone else.

Read a middle grade novel.

Read a biography (not memoir or autobiography).

Read a dystopian or post-apocalyptic novel.

Read a book originally published in the decade you were born.

Listen to an audiobook that has won an Audie Award.

Read a book over 500 pages long.

Read a book under 100 pages.

Read a book by or about a person …

2016 Reading Challenge: #ReadMyOwnDamnBooks

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This is a book challenge designed for me, and I'm so very grateful that Andi at Estella's Revenge made it happen. #ReadMyOwnDamnBooks is exactly what it sounds like: a reading challenge that requires us to read our damn books!

I'm going to make my aspirational TBR as I unpack from our move, but I'm hoping to read 10 of my own damn books. And I'm planning to split it between my physical reads and my ebooks, especially as I've gotten spendy when it comes to ebooks. They're piling up on my hardrive while my physical bookshelves remain static, and I want to be sure I'm reading what I'm buying!

2016 Reading Challenge: Historical Fiction

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I haven't done my roundup of how I did on my 2015 reading challenges, but I'm pretty sure the only one I successfully completed was the Historical Fiction one, and that's okay by me.

So obviously, I'm signing up for this one again!

Hosted by the fabulous Amy at the amazing Passages to the Past, I'm committing to 15 reads for the 2016 Historical Fiction Reading Challenge.

Books Read

Susan Wittig Albert, Loving Eleanor
Heidi Heilig, The Girl from Everywhere
Mary Robinette Kowal, Ghost Talkers
Mary Robinette Kowal, Glamour in Glass
Mary Robinette Kowal, Shades of Milk and Honey
Mary Robinette Kowal, Without a Summer
Michelle Moran, Mata Hari's Last Dance
Jean Rhys, Wide Sargasso Sea
Julie K. Rose, Dido's Crown
Mary Sharratt, The Dark Lady's Mask
Various, A Song of War
Colson Whitehead, The Underground Railroad

Books Read in 2015

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January

Megan Mayhew Bergman, Almost Famous Women
Laura Foley, Joy Street
Mavis Gallant, From the Fifteenth District
Alex Myers, Revolutionary

February

Anna Freeman, The Fair Fight
Heather Webb, Rodin’s Lover

March

Seth Greenland, I Regret Everything
Jan Moran, Scent of Triumph [DNF]
David Morrell, Inspector of the Dead

April

C.W. Gortner, Mademoiselle Chanel

May

Elizabeth Berg, The Dream Lover [DNF]
Rashad Harrison, The Abduction of Smith and Smith
Mary Slaight, The Antigone Poems
Donna Thorland, Mistress Firebrand

June

Michelle Diener, Dark Horse
Kate Forsyth, The Wild Girl
Paula McLain, Circling the Sun
Kris Waldherr, The Lover’s Path

July

Nalo Hopkinson, Falling in Love with Hominids
Nuala O’Connor, Miss Emily
Chantal Thomas, The Exchange of Princesses [DNF]
P. G. Wodehouse, The Code of Woosters [audiobook]

August

Marci Jefferson, Enchantress of Paris
Naomi J. Williams, Landfalls

September

Karen Abbott, Liar, Temptress, Soldier, Spy
Jeannine Atkins, Little Woman in Blue
Laura Purcell, M…

Book Review: The Fair Fight by Anna Freeman

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Title:The Fair Fight
Author: Anna Freeman

First line: Some folks call the prize-ring a nursery for vice.

Review: I loved this book. I just loved it. The awesome is just one layer upon another: the plot is fascinating, the characters intriguing, the writing spectacular, the author's story amazing.

Shamefully, I didn't pen my thoughts back in February when I finished this, because I was just back to work from maternity leave and feeling even more sleep-lost and fuzzy-minded than I am now. But ten months later, I'm still obsessed with this book, and I hope I can convey enough of what was brilliant to entice some of you to read it.

Set in the late 1700s, the novel is split between three narrators: Ruth, daughter of a prostitute, who gains notoriety and fame as a female boxer; Charlotte, the pox-scarred wife of Ruth's patron, who takes inspiration from Ruth to find her own rough freedom; and George, friend to Charlotte's husband, and complicated third in an unusual love …

Book Review: The Conqueror's Wife by Stephanie Thornton

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Title:The Conqueror's Wife: A Novel of Alexander the Great
Author: Stephanie Thornton

First line: Alexander deemed himself a god, the mythic descendant of Achilles and the son of Zeus, and entire nations fell to their knees in ecstatic worship of him.

Review: I loved this book. LOVED. Another top ten read for 2015.

To be fair, I anticipated I'd love it, having adored Thornton's previous novels (Daughter of the Gods and The Secret History). But this one, featuring those closest to Alexander the Great, really blew me away.

Unlike her previous novels about Theodora and Hatshepsut, it is the figures in Alexander's life who tell his story (and despite the title, more than wives, too): Hephaestion, Alexander's best friend and lover; Thessalonike, his adoring younger sister; Drypetis, the fierce daughter of Persia's King Darius; and Roxana, the scrappy Persian who becomes Alexander's first wife. Through these four points-of-view, we see a kind of Alexander as they k…

Interview with Ruth Downie, Stephanie Dray, E. Knight, Kate Quinn, Vicky Alvear Shecter, S.J.A. Turney, and Russell Whitfield

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I just loved A Year of Ravens, a fabulous collaborative novel about the story of Boudicca and her rebellion against the Romans. It was gutting and gruesome, and had me in tears often. I've a soft spot for Boudicca as well as the stories of women forgotten by history, and A Year of Ravens handles both beautifully.

I'm so delighted to share my interview with the seven authors of A Year of Ravens -- Ruth Downie, Stephanie Dray, E. Knight, Kate Quinn, Vicky Alvear Shecter, S.J.A. Turney, and Russell Whitfield -- who reveal some fun tidbits about the process of creating this novel, working together, and what surprised them.


Where did the book's title come from? (And who came up with it?)

STEPHANIE: Kate, Eliza and I were at Panera Bread trying to think of a title that would go with our previous release, ‘A Day of Fire’ and I stumbled onto ‘A Year of Ravens.’ I loved it so much that I then wouldn’t let them change it to anything else.

ELIZA: Stephanie’s genius took this one!

KAT…

Weekend reads and the guilt, oh, the guilt!...

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I am so behind on reviews! I have about seven books to review, I think, not including the ones I'm currently reading, and I'm trying to avoid looking and the calendar and panicking. (It's okay for me to review 2015 reads in 2016, right???)

If there's been one theme to my blogging year this year, it's this: feeling behind. My sweet, bookish baby just captivates me, so if I'm not working, I'm with him. But I also think I'm still struggling with some postpartum depression, because I have a hard time sitting down and writing -- be it a blog post, book review, or even work on my novel. (NaNoWriMo was mixed -- I didn't "win" but I did manage nearly 11,000 words and maintained about three weeks of regular writing.)

I've decided to seriously scale back my blog expectations for 2016. So far, I haven't signed up for any book tours and I'm trying to keep from doing so. (I don't think I've posted a book tour review on time once thi…

Book Review: Médicis Daughter by Sophie Perinot

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Title:Médicis Daughter
Author: Sophie Perinot

First line: In my dreams the birds are always black.

Review: The extent of my knowledge about Marguerite of Valois begins and ends with the sumptuous 1994 film starring Isabelle Adjani, but the drama of her marriage and the days following have stuck in my mind for more than a decade. I've been dying to get my hands on this book since learning of it, as I enjoyed Perinot's debut and was eager for her take on the infamous French royal and her notorious family.

I was rewarded with a stellar read, a top ten for 2015, and I have no doubt I'll be haunted by this one for a long while.

Opening in 1562, a decade before her marriage, the novel is narrated by Marguerite. A smart young woman who craves the love of her mother -- Catherine de Médicis -- Marguerite is powerless against her conniving, mercurial family. Her brothers love her, but their affection comes with an enormous price tag. Marguerite wrestles for what small power she can, …