Showing posts from July, 2012

Audio Book Review: Changeling by Philippa Gregory

Title: Changeling (Order of Darkness, Book One)
Author: Philippa Gregory
Read by: Charlie Cox
Publisher: Simon and Schuster Audio
Publication Date: May 24, 2012
Running Time: 6.5 hours
ISBN: 978-1-4423-5023-6
Genre: Young Adult, Historical Fiction
Source: Publisher


Italy, 1453. Seventeen-year-old Luca Vero is brilliant, gorgeous—and accused of heresy. Cast out of his religious order for using the new science to question old superstitious beliefs, Luca is recruited into a secret sect: The Order of the Dragon, commissioned by Pope Nicholas V to investigate evil and danger in its many forms, and strange occurrences across Europe, in this year—the end of days.  

Isolde is a seventeen-year-old girl shut up in a nunnery so she can’t inherit any of her father’s estate. As the nuns walk in their sleep and see strange visions, Isolde is accused of witchcraft—and Luca is sent to investigate her, but finds himself plotting her escape.  

My thoughts on the audio:
Charlie Cox has appeare…

Terry J. Newman Guest Post

Greetings from across the pond!
In the email exchange that we had when discussing this guest post, Marcie suggested that I might consider writing on the subject of “the best/worst thing about 25th Century Britain.”
I suspect she realised that just about my only reference source for this would be my own book, “Drayling” – so I agreed readily. Many thanks, Marcie!
Drayling is, in fact, the name of a small district in Southern 25th Century Britain, and it is typical of communities throughout the country at that time.
Its citizens revere the memory of Dunstan Heathfield, a 24th Century statesman who formed the Government of National Unity, and went on to show how, by non-violent, yet determined political means, peace could be achieved throughout the world.
Such a prize did not, of course, come without a price. Over a period of time, competitive sport, religion, currency and non-administrative travel and communication were all abolished and banned by law.
Controversial, certainly, but Hea…

Deleted Scene from Anastaia Forever

Here is a bit of background on the scene from Joy Preble:
“The Anastasia Forever deleted scene is my favorite. I had originally envisioned Anne turning into a full blown Baba Yaga much earlier. And so I wrote this scene where she and Ben and Tess and Ethan all go to that Swedish film festival, but in the middle of the story. And there's all this wonderful tension and just at the moment that Ben decides to confront Anne about Ethan and her feelings, Anne realizes that smelling Ben's cologne is making her hungry. Really hungry. And well, she almost eats him. And after that much wackiness ensued. But in the end, I didn't go this route. But it is fun to see what might have been had my editor seen it.”

Deleted Scene:
We stop at the base of the Grand Staircase - all pretty marble and elegant looking. I’ve always loved those stairs – regal in a way that most things aren’t these days. Once when I was five, David chased me up and down the stairs until we were both red-faced and ou…

Austen in August

I've recently signed up for Austen in August. I've read all of Jane Austen's books except for Mansfield Park, and this is the perfect opportunity to read it. I also have a few books in my reading pile that fit this reading challenge perfectly. I'm a huge fan of all things Jane, and so excited to participate.  If you'd like to join me for Austen in August, you can sign up here. Which Austen book is your favorite?

Give@way: The Serpent's Bite by Warren Adler

The Serpent’s Bite, is set on the treacherous trails and isolated wilds of Yellowstone Park, where an aging father, George Temple, seeks to use a nostalgic horse trek to reconcile with his estranged daughter and son.  They hadn’t seen one another since the passing of George’s wife nearly five years earlier and the family reunion is intended to bring back memories of their first trek 20 years earlier. The story reveals hidden secrets that plague the family and lead to disaster.
George, a wealthy man, had  previously cut off his children from additional handouts after having given each of them millions of dollars to further their failed dreams.  Scott still hoped to get his business off the ground while Courtney was still looking to make it big as an actress.  But George wants to unite the family and ask for their support as he announces plans to wed again, so he decides to resume funding what he knows are lost pursuits, feeling both guilty for cutting them off earlier and  now for ena…

Review: Gold and Glory by Brian Libby

Title: Gold and Glory (Mercenaries #2)
Author: Brian Libby
Publisher: Avid Readers Publishing Group
Published: April 22, 2010
paperback, 454 pages
ISBN: 1935105477 (ISBN13: 9781935105473)
Genre: Fantasy
Source: Author

Summary (From Goodreads):
GOLD AND GLORY The second volume of the Mercenaries series After a long winter of training and reorganization, the Pelicans Mercenary Regiment marches out of obscure Ironport to look for a contract, its inexperienced commander wondering if she is up to the job for which she was so unexpectedly chosen. There is indeed work available for sharp halberds and accurate bows, and not just locally, as the slowly-approaching storm takes more definite shape.

My thoughts:
This review is of the second book of a series and may contain spoilers for book one!

Gold and Glory is part two of Mercenaries by Brian Libby. You can read my review of part one, Storm Approaching here. This book picks up pretty much where part one left off. Andiriel is the leader of the mercenary…

Guest Post: The Olympic Beat by Shannon Young

The Olympics Beat By Shannon Young
As a little girl growing up in America, I watched the Olympics religiously. There was a surprise every time we turned on the TV: a sport we’d never heard of in the throes of a dramatic moment, an inspirational commercial about the human spirit, a special on the culture of the Olympic city. We watched diving and gymnastics, the 100-meter final and every Michael Phelps race. I loved it all.

My favorite was the Opening Ceremony, a celebration full of colors and lights and symbolism I didn’t understand. During the four-hour production, I’d bounce back and forth between the TV and the kitchen (for snacks), eager to see what each country’s athletes would be wearing that year.

When I had the opportunity to attend an Olympics in person, I jumped for it like I was in the pole vault finals. The 2008 Beijing Games occurred just before my senior year of university, just when my college had given me a fellowship to study anything I wanted. It was the perfect time…

Give@way: All Things Different by Shawn Underhill

Late in the summer of 2005, starkly independent Jake Thornton was on the verge of turning 16, expecting little more than his driver’s license in the fall, and the continuance of the quiet life shared with his father. So when 14-almost-15 year old Sara moved in next door and began vying for his father’s attention, Jake wasn’t exactly thrilled, and couldn’t quite understand his father’s motives for allowing it. But certainly he never anticipated the dramatic shift their lives would take as a result.

As the summer fades and autumn takes over, friendship between the two teenagers begins blossoming into a bond, until fate steps in once more, threatening to tear them apart as quickly as they’ve come together. The decisions that follow, and the emotive tale that results, opens Jake’s eyes to the simple yet life altering truth, a truth that Sara has understood all along: that love—not the feeling but the action—is the most powerful force in the world.

Thanks to the author I have an e-copy of…

Review: The Elusive Mr. McCoy by Brenda Baker

Title: The Elusive Mr. McCoy
Author: Brenda Baker
Publisher: NAL
Published: July 3, 2012
paperback, 336 pages
ISBN: 978-0-451-23689-0
Genre: Contemporary
Source: Publisher

Summary (From Goodreads):

While trying to identify a man who collapses in a Portland, Oregon, coffee shop, two wallets are found: one belonging to David McCoy, the other to Eric McCoy.
Devastated by their comatose husband’s betrayal, Kendra and Lesley reluctantly join forces in an attempt to piece together a true picture of the man they both fell in love with. Instead, they uncover a vast web of deceit as they learn their husband lived a third life neither of them suspected.

My thoughts:
The Elusive Mr. McCoy by Brenda Baker is a very intriguing novel. From the first page, it had me hooked. David/Eric McCoy collapses in a coffee shop in front of Jason Cheddick, who is a private investigator. Jason  discovers two different ID's on this man when he checks for identification; one for Eric McCoy and one for David M…

Give@way Thieftaker by D.B. Jackson

Boston, 1767: In D.B. Jackson's Thieftaker, revolution is brewing as the British Crown imposes increasingly onerous taxes on the colonies, and intrigue swirls around firebrands like Samuel Adams and the Sons of Liberty. But for Ethan Kaille, a thieftaker who makes his living by conjuring spells that help him solve crimes, politics is for others…until he is asked to recover a necklace worn by the murdered daughter of a prominent family.
Suddenly, he faces another conjurer of enormous power, someone unknown, who is part of a conspiracy that reaches to the highest levels of power in the turbulent colony. His adversary has already killed—and not for his own gain, but in the service of his powerful masters, people for whom others are mere pawns in a game of politics and power. Ethan is in way over his head, and he knows it. Already a man with a dark past, he can ill afford to fail, lest his livelihood be forfeit. But he can't stop now, for his magic has marked him, so he must fight…

Q&A with Andrew John Rainnie

1. Why did you choose My Right Leg is Tastier Than My Left for your title?

It is the name of one of the chapter is the book, specifically Bangkok. When I was travelling I tried to make my blog titles funny or interesting. This specific one came about due to the fact that while sleeping in Bangkok, all the biting insects feasting on my right leg, but not my left, which meant I had one leg dotted with big splotches, while the other was relatively unscathed!

2. Why did you quit your job to travel the world?
I think the question should be why more people don't! I had been working the same job for five years, as well as freelancing and filmmaking, but my job was just a paycheck; the only thing I miss now are the friends I had there. But after I finished shooting my second short film, The Collector (based on a short story by acclaimed author Jonathan Lethem), I knew I had to go travelling then because I would not have the opportunity to do so again. We had shot for eight days in late 201…

A Short Q&A With Victoria Hanley

How did the idea for Wild Ink come about?
Participants in my workshops at writers’ conferences were eager for more complete information on writing for young adults (YA). There’s so much to say about this fascinating subject—more than can be covered in a few hours.

Why do you write young adult fiction?
I’m drawn to coming-of-age stories full of intensity, growth, and passionate voices.

What do you see as the future of young adult fiction?
More and more readers will discover this genre, and for good reason. YA novels are fast-paced and well-written, starring dynamic young characters who wrestle with all the pressures of life. Irresistible! I expect the market to keep expanding.

What about the future of YA nonfiction?
Nonfiction YA is an exploding genre right now. Hundreds of topics are just waiting for knowledgeable authors to write about them in a refreshing style that appeals to teens. (Wild Ink includes a chapter on writing nonfiction YA.)

What makes Wild Ink stand out from other books on…

Jackie Bouchard Guest Post: Four Lessons From Three Dogs

Four Lessons from Three Dogs
In “What the Dog Ate,” Maggie Baxter, a practical, rule-follower uses her Lab, Kona, as her guru to find tail-wagging joy. Just like Kona helps Maggie in both her career and her life, the three pups my husband and I have owned have taught me valuable lessons about my work—and about life.

1. It’s okay to be scared, but you still have to put yourself out there.
Our current rescue pup, Rita, was found on a Mexican beach. Whatever she went through as a stray made her a bit leery of new dogs and people. But that doesn’t stop her! We often visit an off-leash beach, and even though visibly trepidatious, she still approaches every dog looking for some playtime. Even though shaking in her furry boots, she bravely marches on.

I’m pretty shy myself. But writing means putting yourself out there, whether on the page or through marketing efforts. Rita reminds me to be brave.

Do fears hold you back? Rita says: Don’t let ’em! Just drag them along while going for your goals…

To review, or not to review . . .

To review, or not to review. That is the question. This past week has been terrible for relations between authors and reviewers. A lot of damage has been done, and people have stepped way over the line. A review blog, such as this one, is a platform for readers to express their opinions about the books they read. Some people only review books that they love, some people review books with a snarky tongue, and some find a happy medium in-between. Yes, I know there are internet trolls out there that go out of their way to make life miserable for other people. They go onto Amazon, Goodreads, and whatever social media outlet they can find to do nothing but spread hate and discontent. I don't know why these people feel the need to do so. Maybe their mother never hugged them as children.  Maybe they have a low self-esteem. Maybe they're just assholes. I don't know. However, the majority of the review blogs out there, review books for none other than the love of reading. Sometimes…

Andrea Kane Q&A

1.      Q: Where do you do most of your writing?
A: Wherever my Pomeranian lets me.  It’s amazing where he can place his snout, his paws, his tail and his body on my laptop to prevent me from writingJ

2.      Q: Do you have an inspiration board for each book? Maybe a scrapbook? What inspires you when you’re writing?
A: No boards, no scrapbooks.  I’m a pretty cerebral person.  For me, the inspiration comes from within – characters with a story they’re excited to tell!

3.      Q: Are any characters in the book based on people you know or have met in your personal life?
A: I am constantly inspired by people (and animals) I meet while researching my novels:  FBI agents, cops, other law enforcement personnel, doctors, nurses, vets, dogs, as well as people I meet in my everyday life.  I think my characters embody the best and worst traits of all of them.  Working closely with the FBI has given me the opportunity to see integrity, dedication, intelligence, and insightfulness up close and pe…

Alex Clermont Guest Post: “Smiling With a Full Stomach”

“Smiling With a Full Stomach”
In order to create a convincing world through words one of the things a writer must do is look at things. And not to tout my horn on this otherwise useless talent, but I do it very well. I sneak looks when people are being candid; I gawk when something strange is happening; I stare when beautiful or amazing moments grab my attention. I’ve been a great looker since I was a kid, and one of the things I’ve noticed is that people tend to be much happier when they’re eating food together.

Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Sunday dinners all suggested this to me. I can remember enjoying any holiday where my loosely knit extended family of second Uncles and grand cousins came to the dinner table. People that I only saw during funerals would show up and gossip cheerfully with my parents and other grownups between mouthfuls of hard to make food that I, even now, could never recreate without cutting a finger or burning some important part of my body. Growing up I though…

Review: The Girl's Ghost Hunting Guide by Stacey Graham

Title: The Girl's Ghost Hunting Guide
Author: Stacey Graham
Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky
Published: May 1, 2012
paperback, 192 pages
ISBN: 978-1-4022-6612-6
Genre: Nonfiction/Juvenile
Source: Publisher


What was that noise? The cat? The wind?
Little brother stealing a peek at your diary?
Or is it a ghost?
The Girls' Ghost Hunting Guide will help you identify the creepy crawlers from the spooky spirits, the howling winds fromt he haunting phantoms. And with this guide you can learn from real experts how to investigate and contact your very own ghosts!

My thoughts:
The Girl's Ghost Hunting Guide by Stacey Graham isn't what I thought it would be. I thought it would be cute stories and tricks that would be shared during a slumber party, or the like. I didn't realize until I started reading it that it is an actual ghost hunting guide. If you're familiar with the television show, Ghost Hunters, you know exactly what I'm talking about. I was pleasan…

Guest Post Lonely Together by Kathleen McFall

Lonely Together
When you have the loneliest job in the world — writing — it helps to have a partner

Few professional pursuits are as lonely as writing. A lighthouse keeper comes close. Or a hermit seeking enlightenment. Or possibly a toll booth operator.
It’s not that writers purposefully cut ourselves off from people, it’s just that we tend to live mostly inside our heads — forever spinning out plotlines, testing stories, creating characters, constructing new worlds and constantly, chronically, obsessively observing. And taking notes. It’s not normal behavior, truthfully, and it can make us feel alone, even in crowds.
Most productive writers don’t spend too much time in crowds anyway because we’re generally sequestered away somewhere scribbling in notebooks or pounding a keyboard. So it’s lonely AND boring. Think of the worst tortured artist from some subtitled French black and white film, magnify that by a god complex of biblical proportions and then add years of disappointment and …

Q&A with Brent Wolfingbarger

1. What made you want to write a political thriller?
I’ve always been interested in politics, and my experience handling election law cases served to heighten my awareness as to the myriad of ways that a very determined group of people could corruptly influence the results of an election.  Thus, the seed for The Dirty Secret was planted in my brain, and I’m very happy that I was able to drawn upon my real world experience to craft a story that reviewers have consistently found enjoyable.

2. Who is your favorite character in The Dirty Secret and why?
I’d say probably Sheriff “Silent” Doug Vaughn.  I really love Silent Doug because he is an enigma throughout most of the book.  A big, strong, by-the-book law enforcement guy who isn’t real big on small talk, he just keeps his nose to the grindstone and gets his job done without much fanfare.  However, there’s an air of mystery about him – especially when it comes to his missing left eye – and readers tend to be quite curious about him, wo…

The Language of Flowers: Marie-Anne Mancio Guest Post

The Language of Flowers
I've always been taken with French philosopher and feminist Simone de Beauvoir's statement that  'one is not born a woman, one becomes one.' What she meant was culture teaches us how to be feminine; it constructs our identity as women. (It wasn't so long ago that it was considered 'unnatural' for women to like sex for instance!)
As a historical novelist, I'm fascinated by context and the choices people make. And, whichever way you look at it, women's choices were more limited in the 19th Century. For me, many of our choices are led by our personalities but are also very dependent on other circumstances: economic, familial etc. It's the old nature/nurture debate.

Whorticulture (a hybrid word, a play on ‘whore’ and ‘horticulture’) has many references to nature. In the 19th Century, flower dictionaries were hugely popular, published in the U.S. in journal articles from the late 1820s onwards and in books such as Flora's …

Q&A with Richard McCartney

1. Please tell us a little about Desmond Cory's new novel, On The Gulf?
On the Gulf is a departure from the previous novels written by Desmond Cory. Having written a number of successful detective novels with series characters Prof. John Dobie and before that Johnny Fedora, the author wanted to experiment more and touch on some modern themes. It is the first novel from the author based in the Middle East where he lived for a number of years, and is arguably quite topical given the revolutionary wave of demonstrations and protests occurring in the Arab world right now.

2. Why did you feel the need to publish it after his death?
In addition to several requests we received at the Desmond Cory website asking for more novels, we felt that On the Gulf was probably one of the best Cory novels ever written, and therefore deserved to be published. It was 99% finished needing just a few tweaks, and with many well-known authors turning to self-publishing, we felt this was the best way to go.