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Showing posts from April, 2017

Book Review: Feast of Sorrow by Crystal King

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First line: Marcus Gavius Apicius purchased me on a day hot enough to fry sausage on the market stones.

I read this 400+ page book in about 72 hours and I loved every page. It's old school fun: great characters, fabulous sense of place, evocative detail, drama in spades, and satisfying emotional peaks and dips.

The novel's narrator is Thrasius, a young slave gifted in cooking. He's purchased by Apicius, an immensely wealthy Roman determined to use his fortune, fabulous parties, and appreciation of exquisite cuisine to gain power with Caeser and his heirs.

Thankfully, Thrasius' reputation isn't exaggerated, and his skill and imagination in the kitchen -- combined with the rare, unusual, and expensive ingredients Apicius buys -- launches them both -- but also pulls them into a terrible rivalry that ends in unimaginable tragedy.

If you're not familiar with Apicius, don't wiki him; just enjoy King's revealing of his life. As I said on social media more than…

Teaser Tuesday, April 25

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I am seriously obsessed with Crystal King's Feast of Sorrow, a marvelously fascinating historical novel set in ancient Rome, following the gifted slave chef Thrasius, and his ambitious epicure master, Apicius. (Today's its release, too!)

I'll be honest, I was skeptical how much sorrow or drama there could be in a book about a cook but I was so very wrong. (Give it to the Romans to drama up everything!) This book has me gripped, and I'm pretty sure I'll finish all 416 pages in less than 72 hours.

Here's my teaser from it:
I heard and felt the whoosh of wings near my head as a giant owl swooped by me and came to land on Mars's outstretched sword. (p233)What are you reading today? Any teasers to share?

Winner!

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Better late than never, right?!

The winner of The Illusionist's Apprentice is ... Beth C.!

Congrats to Beth!

Be sure to check out my current giveaways -- more coming!

Weekend reads and spring soon?

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It's gray and rainy today, which I normally don't mind, but I'm also headache-y (allergies?) and super stressed about work, so everything is just annoying to me. (I'm pretty sure a gorgeous day would send me into a snit, so really, I'm not safe for human consumption.)

I'm chugging along merrily on my novel (my nine-month class wraps up in June!) and while I'm only just at Part 2, it feels like a better draft than I've ever had before. I feel like I've finally "gotten" how to do drafts without self editing so much, and it's such a relief. The story doesn't come easily, but at least I'm nitpicking at it less! 

My weekend read is Feast of Sorrow by Crystal King and it is faaaaaaaaahbulous. I'm really loving it, and I hope I get to log some serious reading time. (Dubious -- Unabridged Toddler got a new batch of library books and has been pleading for a day at the Children's Museum.)

What are you reading this weekend?

Release Spotlight: The Book of Air by Joe Treasure

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As I mentioned in my Top Ten Tuesday post, I love books inspired by classic lit, and I'm really really excited for this new release, The Book of Air, which imagines a future in which society is governed by Jane Eyre (!!!). I'll be reviewing it in May.

The Book of Air
Clink Street Publishing (4/4/17)

Retreating from an airborne virus with a uniquely unsettling symptom, property developer Jason escapes London for his country estate, where he is forced to negotiate a new way of living with an assortment of fellow survivors.

Far in the future, an isolated community of descendants continue to farm this same estate. Among their most treasured possessions are a few books, including a copy of Jane Eyre, from which they have constructed their hierarchies, rituals and beliefs. When 15-year-old Agnes begins to record the events of her life, she has no idea what consequences will follow. Locked away for her transgressions, she escapes to the urban ruins and a kind of freedom, but must d…

Book Review: The Widow’s House by Carol Goodman

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First line: When I picture the house I see it in the late afternoon, the golden river light filling the windows and gilding the two-hundred-year-old brick.

I love ghost stories; I love haunted house stories. Add in the magical combo of "The Yellow Wallpaper" meets Rebecca, and I am sold.

Our heroine, Clare, is the devoted wife to Jess, a writer whose runaway debut landed him fame and some fortune, but now faces writer's block as he wrestles with his second book. They move to Clare's hometown in the Hudson Valley, an area dominated by apple farms. Most everything is out of their price range, but they find they can live rent free at the decrepit River House if they act as groundskeepers -- a house owned by their former literature professor, Alden Montague -- Monty.

The find is serendipitous: Jess and Monte get along swimmingly, and despite some weird moments -- ghostly figures and crying babies at 3am -- Clare finds satisfaction in cleaning up Monty's home and nurt…

Top Ten Tuesday, April 18

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Top Ten Tuesday is a bookish meme created and hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. The themes change, but it's always about the top ten for you!

This week's top ten Tuesday theme is: Top Ten Things That Will Make Me Instantly Want To Read A Book.

Let's see if I can limit myself to 10!

Top Ten Things That Will Make Me Instantly Want To Read A Book:
Noir/Noirish/Noir-Inspired: I love me a good femme fatale, and a man who doesn't want to be a chump; I love double crosses and triple crosses, and anti-heroes and depressing one night stands. Anything reeking of Hammett, Chandler, Cain, or Hughes wins with me.
Archaeologists: Between Indiana Jones and the Vesper Holly books, adventurous archaeologists were imprinted on me as a kid and I'm just a sucker for archaeologists in fiction.
Sea Monsters: I'm completely and totally freaked by sea monsters (although I kind of like the ocean, I vastly prefer the clear Caribbean to the murky New England Atlantic, where obviously some…

Book Review: Eileen by Ottessa Moshfegh

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First line: I looked like a girl you’d expect to see on a city bus, reading some clothbound book from the library about plants or geography, perhaps wearing a net over my light brown hair.

I pretty much wanted to read this one the moment it came out; between the cover, the Boston setting, and the sense of noir-ish-ness I got from the plot, it seemed like a sure hit for me. I made it the January pick for my book club and ... I'm glad I read this book, but I'm really ambivalent about it. (Most of my book club hated it, although more than one person admired the raw narrative style.)

Set around Christmas in 1963, the novel is narrated by Eileen. A much older Eileen tells us this story, and she offers up her younger self on a platter, unvarnished and exposed.

Eileen works as a secretary in a boy's juvenile detention facility/prison. She lives with her father, an retired police office and alcoholic who is plagued by terrors (and perhaps mental illness). Eileen's life shuttle…

First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros, April 11

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I'm doing First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros, hosted by Bibliophile by the Sea, in which you post the first paragraph of the first chapter of the book you're reading (or going to read).

My excerpt today is from Naomi J. Williams' stunning and fabulous Landfalls. This is a reread for me; I first read this when it came out in 2015 and uh-dored it, and to my great delight, my book club picked it for our read this month, thus giving me an excuse to dive back in.

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No one knew what to make of the new galley stoves when they arrived. There were two -- one for each ship -- and they came by boat, first for the Boussole and then for the Astrolabe, disassembled into their cumbersome components and accompanied by a foul-mouthed shipyard locksmith charged with installing them.


What are you reading right now? Share your intro with me!

Book Review: 1,001 Ways to Slow Down by Barbara Ann Kipfer

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This beautifully illustrated volume does just what the title promises, offering 1,001 ways to slow down.

In her introduction, Kipfer writes about "living at the speed that brings you the most joy and satisfaction", which resonated deeply with me. I'm not a slow person by nature, but I could use with more reminders to be attentive to the moment.

Designed to be cracked open when needed, rather than read through in a sitting, this book is like a zen friend who offers those reminders without judgment. The tips range from the easy -- Slow down and enjoy eating. -- to the more complicated -- Consider a move to a smaller house. -- so every suggestion may not be right for each reader. But even those that really weren't or won't be applicable to me -- Chop your own wood. -- still offered me a moment of pause -- and really, isn't that what it's about?

I found immediate use for this book from the day it arrived -- a random page offered the perfect centering sentim…

Teaser Tuesday, April 4

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Teaser Tuesday is a weekly bookish meme where readers share a teaser from their current read. It was started by MizB of Books and a Beat.

My teaser for today comes from the start of Carol Goodman's The Widow's House.

"It's the color of old money," Jess said, his voice full of longing. (p1)

I'm a sucker for openings like this.

What are you reading today? Any good teasers to share?

Book Review: The Illusionist’s Apprentice by Kristy Cambron

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First line: Agent Elliot Matthews stared down a firing squad.

Kristy Cambron is a new-to-me author, but from the reviews I've seen, she's got a devoted fan base. This wasn't a read for me, but I can appreciate why so many love her books.

Set in the high-flying 1920s in Boston, this novel follows illusionist Wren Lockhart (born Jennifer Charles). At the book's open, a spiritualist debunked by Harry Houdini seems to bring a man back from the dead -- who then promptly dies again -- and the FBI think it's murder.

As Houdini's former assistant, Wren comes to the attention of the two agents -- especially when a piece of paper with her real name is found on the dead man.

From there, the novel moves through multiple mysteries, like solving the murder, as well as Wren's mysterious background, including the sister she staunchly tries to protect.

Cambron does a great job evoking the details of the era, from Wren's distinctive style of dress (men's tuxedos) to …