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Wednesday, April 23, 2014

HFVBT Guest Post and Giveaway: Grist by Linda Little

I am very excited to welcome Linda Little here to A Bookish Affair today! Linda is the author of "Grist," a fascinating historical fiction tale!


Grist. “What a great title!” I’ve heard this repeatedly, along with, “what a beautiful image!” What else can people say as a book is launched and before they have opened it? Of course, despite sage advice to the contrary we all judge books by their covers. We know it, and “they” know it, and everyone in the book business knows it. This is why the title and the cover are such a big deal for publishers. I have had experience with small, medium and large publishers and with everyone the look of a book is critical.
I have long (I mean for about 15 years) thought Grist would be a wonderful title for a book. At one point I thought my second novel would be called Grist but the central story moved off in another direction. Both my first two novels had their titles changed after long discussions. Publishers just didn’t like my working titles. They were too this or not enough that. I capitulated in both cases bowing to their superior knowledge and more extensive experience in the business. Several years ago I was talking to a publisher who asked me what I was working on and when I told her she said it sounded great but of course the title would need to be changed because no one knows what “grist” means. Not this time, I thought. Not again. I’m using that title!
Luckily I found a terrific publisher (Roseway, an imprint of social justice publisher, Fernwood) who embraced the title and the book whole-heartedly. So Grist it is! What I love about this word is that it is very much a 19th century word so it immediately helps set the period. It is true that few people would be able to define the word with precision. All that is left for most of us today is the expression “grist for the mill.” In fact, grist is simply any grain that is destined for a mill. Anything that goes into the stones is grist. What distinguishes a handful of oats from a handful of oat grist is an intention. This oats is not earmarked for sale or fodder or seed; it is earmarked for the mill. It is grist. For the mill. It may be ground into flour (a sifted product) or meal (not sifted). The word embodies the ideas of grain, milling, fate, and choice simultaneously. Penelope MacLaughlin, my protagonist, is also noun, verb, and an idea. She is the subject and the object. The mill provides her with a living, a home, a place for her family, an identity, but the mill is also her nemesis, her enemy, her destruction. She grinds and she is ground. “I married Ewan MacLaughlin of my own free will,” she says. All through the novel she makes choices within the confines of her milling life. As she says to her granddaughter: “Perhaps it is God that grows the grain; I leave this to you to ponder. But it is man who determines which kernels will be planted as seed and which will be hauled to the mill for grist.”
That is the title; now what about the cover design? Choosing the cover image is one of the really delightful jobs of publishing a book. Once the heavy lifting has been done and we are down to more clerical types of editing and publicity duties, the first cover designs are floated. In the case of Grist I received five very different cover designs to consider. One I didn’t like, two were lovely, and the last two were intriguing. The one I didn’t like was easy to discard. The two lovely ones I sat with for a while but ultimately they were simply too static. They looked like the story was already over and everyone was living happily ever after. With only a slight tug to the heart I let them go. Then Bev (the publisher) and I began debating the relative merits of the final two. The images were 1) a technical drawing of a waterwheel and 2) the cropped image of a nineteenth century woman (which we ultimately chose). We went through many versions of each. I loved the waterwheel diagram but in the end I thought it would not be as likely to attract the reader I thought would most enjoy the book. The cropped woman is not conventionally pretty, just as Penelope is not. The image is off-centre and the top half of her face and head are out of the frame. It puts the woman in the “wrong” place. This contributes to a sense of unease—something is wrong. It suggests movement and troubles but also strength and a powerful female presence driving the novel.
The cover of a book calls out to its readers and I wanted my cover to be calling in precisely the right pitch. I think the cover’s sepia colouring, the 19th century dress, and the off-centre cropping give a very accurate representation of the story. Although I was sad to see the waterwheel drawing go, we were able to use the image elsewhere. It is reduced in size and you can find it reproduced at the start of each chapter. Of course in addition to the image and the title the front cover must feature to author’s name. In my humble opinion, it all looks terrific. But then as any writer will tell you, when a book finally has your own name printed on the cover it is hard to see it as anything other than absolutely gorgeous!

Giveaway:

One lucky winner will win a paperback copy of Grist (U.S. and CAN only, please)! Just fill out the Rafflecopter form below!

  a Rafflecopter giveaway

Follow the Rest of the Tour:

Monday, April 14
Interview & Giveaway at Passages to the Past
Tuesday, April 15
Review at Reading the Past
Guest Post at Closed the Cover
Wednesday, April 16
Review at Confessions of an Avid Reader
Thursday, April 17
Guest Post & Giveaway at Confessions of an Avid Reader
Monday, April 21
Review & Giveaway at Peeking Between the Pages
Tuesday, April 22
Review at A Bookish Affair
Wednesday, April 23
Review at Flashlight Commentary
Review & Giveaway at The True Book Addict
Guest Post & Giveaway at A Bookish Affair
Thursday, April 24
Review at CelticLady’s Reviews
Spotlight & Giveaway at So Many Precious Books, So Little Time
Friday, April 25
Guest Post & Giveaway at Historical Fiction Connection

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Tuesday, April 22, 2014

HF Virtual Book Tours: Grist by Linda Little

Title: Grist
Author: Linda Little
Format: Ebook
Publisher: Roseway Publishing
Publish Date: April 15, 2014
Source: HF Virtual Book Tours






What's the Story?:

From Goodreads.com: "“This is the story of how you were loved,” Penelope MacLaughlin whispers to her granddaughter.

Penelope MacLaughlin marries a miller and gradually discovers he is not as she imagined. Nonetheless she remains determined to make the best of life at the lonely mill up the Gunn Brook as she struggles to build a home around her husband’s eccentricities. His increasing absence leaves Penelope to run the mill herself, providing her with a living but also destroying the people she loves most. Penelope struggles with loss and isolation, and suffers the gradual erosion of her sense of self. A series of betrayals leaves her with nothing but the mill and her determination to save her grandchildren from their disturbed father. While she can prepare her grandsons for independence, her granddaughter is too young and so receives the greater gift: the story that made them all."


My Two Cents:

"Grist" is a really interesting historical fiction tale that will be perfect for those looking for strong and memorable characters and great historical detail. Penelope believes that she is going to be alone as a spinster schoolteacher until Ewan comes to town. Ewan fascinates Penelope and intrigues her. They fall quickly for each other and there is no question that Penelope will leave what she knows and go to live with Ewan. Things with him are not at all what they seem though.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book and a big part of that was how much I enjoyed the characters. Penelope was such an interesting character to me and I really loved reading about her in this book. She felt really real to me. I liked that the author gave her a lot of uniqueness. She isn't perfect but she is honest (at least with the reader). I liked reading about how she changes throughout the book. I also really liked that the story was told from her perspective, which really helped me to dive into the story. Ewan is also an interesting character. At first I thought that he was just a super pious man but it turns out that he is hiding a lot of secrets that make up some of the huge twists in the book.

There were a lot of twists and turns in this book, which I definitely liked. I love when a book can keep me on my toes. Both Penelope and Ewan are hiding a lot from each other and it was really great to see how their secrets unfolded in the book.

I also really liked the setting and the description of the setting. Penelope leads a relatively lonely life at the Mill but the setting really sounded pretty. This book definitely made for some good armchair traveling!





Follow the Rest of the Tour:


Monday, April 14
Interview & Giveaway at Passages to the Past
Tuesday, April 15
Review at Reading the Past
Guest Post at Closed the Cover
Wednesday, April 16
Review at Confessions of an Avid Reader
Thursday, April 17
Guest Post & Giveaway at Confessions of an Avid Reader
Monday, April 21
Review & Giveaway at Peeking Between the Pages
Guest Post & Giveaway at A Bookish Affair
Tuesday, April 22
Review at A Bookish Affair
Wednesday, April 23
Review at Flashlight Commentary
Review & Giveaway at The True Book Addict
Thursday, April 24
Review at CelticLady’s Reviews
Spotlight & Giveaway at So Many Precious Books, So Little Time
Friday, April 25
Guest Post & Giveaway at Historical Fiction Connection
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Friday, April 18, 2014

The Giver: A Guest Post by Elizabeth Eckhart

I am very excited to welcome Elizabeth Eckhart back to A Bookish Affair. Today, she is talking about one of my childhood favorites, "The Giver" by Lois Lowry, which is getting ready to be turned into a movie.


The journey from the page to the big screen is always a challenging one for all parties involved. Authors, if they actually want their book turned into a film, are often terrified their masterpieces will be entirely butchered by people who aren’t able to see or understand their vision for the work. Filmmakers, on the other hand, have their own fears; for instance, the book might not translate well into a screenplay, and thus, not result in a great movie. However, most of these pre-production issues are resolved fairly quickly with creative efforts from both parties.

However, this was not true for The Giver, Lois Lowry’s 1993 YA novel about a dystopian society where no one feels pain, suffering, or despair as an exchange for blind devotion to the government. The journey for her beloved book, from first being selected for film to the theaters, took over 20 years, quite a long time even for Hollywood’s standards.

Of course, film adaptations of YA books are commonplace these days - The Hunger Games, Harry Potter, Twilight, Divergent, and more are all extremely successful adaptations (if you’re interested in watching them, they’re all available through most online streaming services; check your cable provider’s website). Despite the years of success for these YA films, Lowry’s book rights have been bouncing from one production company to another since Bill Cosby first purchased them in 1994. The author herself thought it would never happen, telling Entertainment Weekly back in 2012, “The film rights have been out there for 15 years now, and every now and then, some big studio gets involved, and some major player gets involved. And then time passes, and it all collapses again.”

However, this time it was different, since Jeff Bridges became fully committed to the film (for which he had bought the rights to back in the 90’s). He cast himself as the titular character while bringing in other stars like Meryl Streep, Katie Holmes, Alexander Skarsgard, and, surprisingly, Taylor Swift to play the mysterious Rosemary. The role of Jonas, the protagonist, will be played by Australian actor Brenton Thwaites. Despite having found fame on various television series back home, he’s a relatively unknown actor stateside.

While not much is known about the film at this point, a trailer was released recently in March, which gives us some clues as to what the final product will look like. One thing that’s obvious right off the bat is that the filmmakers have chosen to make the characters much older than they’re described in the book; while Jonas is only 12 in the book, Brenton Thwaites is twice that at 24 - a casting decision that has (predictably) already drawn some ire from the book’s fans. I also caught a glimpse of some spaceships in the trailer that I don’t recall reading about...but I guess we’ll have to wait to see what that’s all about!

The film isn’t set to hit theaters until August 15th, which will give all of us plenty of time to re-read the book this summer before we watch the story told in theaters. There’s no word on whether the rest of the books in Lowry’s The Quartet series will be turned into films at this point. I would expect to hear news on that following the box office reports from The Giver, which means if you want to see them all transformed for the big screen, you should definitely show your support for the first!

 About the author:

Elizabeth Eckhart is an entertainment and film blogger for Directstartv.com, who finds nothing more compelling than a good story, no matter its medium.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

HFVBT Review and Giveaway: Inscription by H.H. Miller

Title: Inscription
Author: H.H. Miller
Format: Paperback
Publisher: Self-published
Publish Date: January 2014
Source: HFVBT


What's the Story?:

From Goodreads.com: "The year is 1851 and the Grand Guard is ravaging Mainland. Arrests. Floggings. Swift executions. Twenty-year-old Caris McKay, the beautiful heiress of Oakside Manor, is sent to live with distant relations until the danger has passed. It's no refuge, however, as Lady Granville and her scheming son plot to get their hands on Caris's inheritance with treachery and deceit.

Soon, alarming news arrives that the ruthless Captain James Maldoro has seized Oakside and imprisoned Caris's beloved uncle. And now he's after her.

Caris escapes with the help of Tom Granville, the enigmatic silver-eyed heir of Thornbridge. But when a cryptic note about a hidden fortune launches them on a perilous journey across Mainland, Caris and Tom must rely on wits, courage, and their growing love for each other if they hope to survive.

Filled with adventure, intrigue, and romance, Inscription will transport you to a historically fictional world you'll never want to leave."


My Two Cents:

"Inscription" is a historical fiction tale of love and family. Caris lives with her bachelor uncle and then is whisked away to a remote small town where her uncle hopes that she will be safe. It just means that she is at risk with new issues as there are many scheming to get there hands on her inheritance. A love affair between Caris and the man who saves her in many ways also plays at the center of this book. This is a fast read and will appeal to those that are looking for a little bit of romance with their historical fiction.

This book is very much character driven, which I enjoyed but I wish that we would have gotten a little more insight into the setting and why the fighting was occurring the way that it was. We just really know that it's going on and that it is affecting Caris and her uncle's way of life. The setting is very much background and was a little fuzzy for me. That being said, I really enjoyed reading about the characters in this book. I especially enjoyed reading about Caris, the main character. She was a very interesting heroine for the time period in the book. Her uncle almost treats her more like a son and really raised her to stand on her own two feet. She has education like a son would have and is privy to a lot of things that only men of the time would have been able to be involved in, which I really liked reading about. I liked reading about how she was able to do that in a world where women were still supposed to be delicate little flowers.

I liked the writing of this book overall. I thought that the characters were well written (I really, really liked Tom and Caris). Some of the dialogue was a little shaky at first but really evened out by Part II of the book. I really loved the adventure and romance aspects of the book! This was definitely an entertaining read!




Giveaway:

Want to win a copy of this book? Just fill out the Rafflecopter form below (U.S. and Canada only)! Can't wait? "Inscription" is a Kindle Countdown Deal.  Price started low on Monday (April 14) and increases each day until Friday (April 18). Get it today before the price goes back up!

 
a Rafflecopter giveaway


Follow the Rest of the Tour:
 
Monday, April 14
Review at Flashlight Commentary
Tuesday, April 15
Interview at Layered Pages
Interview & Giveaway at Flashlight Commentary
Wednesday, April 16
Review & Interview at Oh, For the Hook of a Book
Thursday, April 17
Review & Giveaway at A Bookish Affair
Spotlight & Giveaway on Passages to the Past
Friday, April 18
Review at Jorie Loves a Story
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Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Review: My Cup of Tea: Summer of Love by Kat Lieu

Title: My Cup of Tea: Summer of Love
Author: Kat Lieu
Format: Ebook
Publisher: Nummyz Production
Publish Date: January 2014
Source: I received a copy from the author; however, this did not affect my review.






What's the Story?:

From Goodreads.com: "It’s another suck-tastic summer for book nerd and baker, Sara Lee-Affen. She’s broke, she’s single, and she’ll probably die a virgin. At her beautiful cousin’s wedding, Sara meets a sexy and delicious stud muffin, Ian Forrests. He’s totally her cup of tea, that is until he laughs at her misery when a bee burrows into her ear. Yes, a dang bee. She’s dying (well not really) as he’s dying from laughter.

What a jerk. A smoking hot, Adonis of a jerk with strikingly green eyes, dark hair, and drool-worthy pecs and eight-pack abs. As luck and fate would have it, Sara keeps bumping into Ian all summer long and ends up working for him as a pastry chef at his failing bakery. Despite her better judgment, Sara falls for the sexy, badass rich boy. She discovers the truth about Ian: he’s a tortured soul who’s still pining for his deceased girlfriend, Sarah. One look at Sarah’s picture and poor Sara knows that she could never compete. She could never be Ian’s cup of tea.

Or could she?"


My Two Cents:

"My Cup of Tea: Summer of Love" is a novella that walks a fine line between Young Adult and New Adult. Sara's summer is changed when she meets Ian at a family wedding. She falls for him quickly but he seems less interested in her and more interested in poking fun at her. After another  chance meeting, they hit it off and Sara begins working in Ian's bakery. One problem, the bakery belonged to Ian's girlfriend, who passed away and who happens to be named Sarah. This novella ended up being a good read (with a cliffhanger of an ending that had me wanting more).

Overall, I really liked this story. I loved watching the relationship unfold between Sara and Ian. Sara is ready to fall for Ian even if he isn't ready to fall for him. Ian fights it as long as he can because he is still not over Sarah. I thought that the aspect of the book was really interesting. I loved reading about how Ian grappled with his feelings for Sara and Sarah and how they differed.

This book started out a little shaky for me but really hit its stride as the story unfolded. By the end, I was very sorry that this book was only a novella. The book ends in a heck of a cliffhanger that has me wanting more and it looks like I will have to wait until this summer to read the next installation, sadly. This book would be a good pick for when you're looking for a light read to get lost in!


 

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Review: The Venetian Bargain by Marina Fiorato

Title: The Venetian Bargain
Author: Marina Fiorato
Format: ARC
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
Publish Date: April 8, 2014
Source: I received a copy from the publisher; however, this did not affect my review.


Why You're Reading This Book:
  • You're a historical fiction fan.
  • You love intrigue.
  • You're an armchair traveler.
 What's the Story?:

From Goodreads.com: "Venice, 1576. Five years after the defeat of the Ottoman Empire at the Battle of Lepanto, a ship steals unnoticed into Venice bearing a deadly cargo. A man, more dead than alive, disembarks and staggers into Piazza San Marco. He brings a gift to Venice from Constantinople. Within days the city is infected with bubonic plague—and the Turkish Sultan has his revenge.

But the ship also holds a secret stowaway—Feyra, a young and beautiful harem doctor fleeing a future as the Sultan’s concubine. Only her wits and medical knowledge keep her alive as the plague ravages Venice.

In despair, the Doge commissions the architect Andrea Palladio to build the greatest church of his career—an offering to God so magnificent that Venice will be saved. But Palladio’s life is in danger too, and it will require all the skills of Annibale Cason, the city’s finest plague doctor, to keep him alive. What Annibale had not counted on was meeting Feyra, who is now under Palladio’s protection—an impossible woman whose medical skills and determination are matched only by his own."


My Two Cents:

"The Venetian Bargain" is a fascinating story of Constantinople and Venice. Feyra is a doctor who comes to Venice from her home in the Ottoman Empire to discover the answer to a mystery that she was told right before a loved one passed away. Feyra doesn't know what awaits her in Venice and she goes to the brand new city with a lot of trepidation. This book has a little bit of something for everyone.

I love visiting some place new through my reading and this book gave me an opportunity to visit the gorgeous city of Venice. Unfortunately, the city is dealing with the Bubonic Plague but that only makes for a more fascinating story. You really get a good sense of the city through Feyra's eyes as she unravels the mystery that was given to her. We get to see her dealings with some of the highest houses in the city. She was such a fantastic character.

One of the details that I absolutely loved was the medical aspect of the book. Feyra is well practiced in the way of medicine and she meets another doctor, Annibale Cason, who is working hard to treat those with Bubonic Plague. I think medicine is really interesting to read about in general but I especially like reading about how people used to be treated prior to the advent modern medicine. It is just so interesting to me! Fiorato loads this book with a lot of really great detail but the detail surrounding Feyra and Annibale's practice was really fantastic to me!

I know that this book is definitely going to be a future re-read for me!


 

Monday, April 14, 2014

Giveaway: The Secret Life of Walter Mitty Prize Pack

So last week I told you all about my experience watching "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty" via Google Play and loving it. This week, I'm very excited to be able to give you a chance to win a prize pack with the Blu Ray, a book of James Thurber's short stories, and a Walter Mitty tumbler.




Just fill out the Rafflecopter form below if you want to win (U.S. Only)!


a Rafflecopter giveaway
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