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Showing posts from October, 2019

Weekend Reads, or readathon-ing it...

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Busy weekends upon us, including this one. School open houses, playdates, and birthday parties. Spending time outside, enjoying New England fall when it's not an icy, rainy deluge.

But Dewey's 24 Hour Readathon is tomorrow, and as always, I've signed up in hopes of getting some good reading in. I've a string of books more than half read, and I'd love to finish them during the readathon.

I'm hoping I'll finish up Tarot for Troubled Times, which has given me so much to chew over and freshened up my tarot practice; as well as the absolutely emotionally gripping This Is How You Lose the Time War, which I'm both listening to and reading. It's deeply romantic and wonderfully fantastic, and the language is so good that after I hear the amazing audiobook readers do a chapter or two, I go back and read them to savor. And to my surprise, I'm going to be reading Emily Dickinson's Gardening Life: The Plants and Places That Inspired the Iconic Poet. I&#…

Chilling Effecty by Valerie Valdes

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Before she could shoot, a familiar voice boomed from the loudspeakers. "Attend me, worthless muck-eaters. I have come to your inferior outpost to apprehend the human captain Eva the Innocent!"

I erroneously described this as Firefly with a lesbian Mal; but I was only wrong about our main character's sexual identity (pansexual, maybe?). Otherwise, this marvelously fun comedic sci fi takes the best part of shows like Firefly, with a charming crew and a "curmudgeonly" "anti-hero" captain (who is both adorable and heroic), and injects welcome imagination into the ragtag-posse-take-on-enormous-challenges plot line.

Chilling Effect by Valerie Valdes
Harper Voyager, 2019
Copy from publisher for blog tour

Captain Eva Innocente loves her ship, La Sirena Negra, and her work: running cargo and passengers around the universe. The book opens with Eva struggling to recapture her most recent order -- a passel of psychic cats -- and so, by page 3, I was literally enam…

The First Lady and the Rebel by Susan Higginbotham

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"But you were right, in one respect. Those bullets made us what we are."

Susan Higginbotham's newest novel takes the familiar Civil War story of brother-versus-brother and offers a fresh, sad version: sisters Mary and Emily Todd. Mary Todd would marry Abraham Lincoln while Emily would marry Hardin Helm, a devoted Confederate who would eventually become a General in the Confederate Army.

The First Lady and the Rebel by Susan Higginbotham
Sourcebooks Landmark, 2019
Source from publisher on behalf of blog tour
Reading Challenge: Historical Fiction

From a Kentucky slaveholding family, the Todd siblings were bound to be torn apart by the Civil War, but moreso when headstrong Mary sets her sights on the humble Abraham Lincoln and Emily on dashing Hardin Helm. Higginbotham shares both stories with a tender sympathy, even with both women behave in petty or cruel ways. Initially both families were friendly, with admiration between Abraham Lincoln and Hardin Helm, until war fo…

Interview with Susan Higginbotham

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I am so excited to share my interview with novelist Susan Higginbotham. Although she might be most well known for her novels set in the UK, she's started exploring 19th-century America in her more recent books, including her newest, The First Lady and the Rebel. It's the gripping story of Abraham Lincoln's wife, Mary Todd Lincoln, and her beloved sister Emily, as they find themselves at the opposite ends of the Civil War. My review comes on Thursday but prepare for major squees. I loved this book!

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

Because I've been writing since I was a child, I can't remember, but I can tell you that it likely had something to do with cats. My first attempt at a historical novel, however, was when I was in junior high and started to write a novel about a family of orphans living through the Blitz. (Clearly, given the current vogue for World War II novels, I was way ahead of my time.) It didn't have much plot, as I recall,…

Farewell My Life by Cynthia Sally Haggard

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The war had been over for less than four years, and Berlin was full of amputees begging on the streets, of gaunt young men startling at the slightest thing.

This is a splashy, dramatic historical novel that reads like a mix of penny dreadfuls, 1980s Joan Collins romances, and any number of thrillers. Mixing a tumultuous, intriguing setting -- Europe in 1921 and 1922, then a jump to 1938 -- with a dysfunctional family saga, this book is like a froofy cocktail in a bubble bath: a little excessive but oh-so good.

Farewell My Life by Cynthia Sally Haggard
Self Published, 2019
Copy provided by author as part of blog tour
Read Harder 2019

What I so appreciated and enjoyed in this book was the mix of expected and surprising in the story. I've read many pre-war historical novels and any number of gifted-heroine-exposed-to-the-world coming-of-age stories, but Haggard picked unique details that made this story new. The heroine at the heart of this novel is Grace, an Italian-American woman w…