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Monday, June 29, 2015

Review: Girlboss by Sophia Amoruso

Title: Girlboss
Author: Sophia Amoruso
Format: Hardcover
Publisher: Portfolio
Publish Date: May 6, 2014
Source: Library



What's the Story?:

From Goodreads.com: "At seventeen, Sophia Amoruso decided to forgo continuing education to pursue a life of hitchhiking, dumpster diving, and petty thievery. Now, at twenty-nine, she is the Founder, CEO, and Creative Director of Nasty Gal, a $100+ million e-tailer that draws A-list publicity and rabid fans for its leading-edge fashion and provocative online persona. Her story is extraordinary—and only part of the appeal of #GIRLBOSS.

This aspirational book doesn’t patronize young women the way many business experts do. Amoruso shows readers how to channel their passion and hard work, while keeping their insecurities from getting in the way. She offers straight talk about making your voice heard and doing meaningful work.

She’s proof that you can be a huge success without giving up your spirit of adventure or distinctive style. As she writes, "I have three pieces of advice I want you to remember: Don’t ever grow up. Don’t become a bore. Don’t let The Man get to you. OK? Cool. Then let’s do this.”"


My Two Cents:

"#GIRLBOSS" is a memoir of sorts by Sophia Amoruso, who is the CEO and founder of Nasty Gal. Nasty Gal, for those of you who are not familiar, is a online retailer that sells vintage clothes and is hugely successful. Told by Amoruso herself, the story is partially the story of how she got to where she is all prior to the age of 30 (super impressive, no?). It's also it meant to be a book to encourage other young women to go for what they want even if it seems like it's not reachable.

I found the book to be really inspiring. I always like reading about success stories of those who are no too much older than I am. The book is written in a fairly informal way and to some degree, it feels as if one of your friends is giving you some heart-to-heart business advice. I liked that style for this particular book because it made it feel a little bit friendlier to me. There is a lot of good advice in this book; however, there is also some advice that does feel a little bit like the same old, same old. That being said, sometimes it really is the same old, same old that will get you to the place that you want to be. Overall, I thought those was a pretty good read especially for those who want some advice but aren't necessarily into delving into more traditional business literature.


 

Friday, June 26, 2015

Review: Operation Massacre by Rodolfo Walsh

Title: Operation Massacre
Author: Rodolfo Walsh
Format: Paperback
Publisher: Seven Stories Press
Publish Date: 1957
Source: Borrowed






What's the Story?:

From Goodreads.com: "1956. Argentina has just lost its charismatic president Juán Perón in a military coup, and terror reigns across the land. June 1956: eighteen people are reported dead in a failed Peronist uprising. December 1956: sometime journalist, crime fiction writer, studiedly unpoliticized chess aficionado Rodolfo Walsh learns by chance that one of the executed civilians from a separate, secret execution in June, is alive. He hears that there may be more than one survivor and believes this unbelievable story on the spot. And right there, the monumental classic Operation Massacre is born.

Walsh made it his mission to find not only the survivors but widows, orphans, political refugees, fugitives, alleged informers, and anonymous heroes, in order to determine what happened that night, sending him on a journey that took over the rest of his life.

Originally published in 1957, Operation Massacre thoroughly and breathlessly recounts the night of the execution and its fallout."


My Two Cents: 

"Operation Massacre" takes place during a very dark time in Argentina's history. It is the 1950s and the political establishment has been upended. Charismatic President Juan Peron lost the presidency during a coup. The Peronistas try to stage an uprising, which fails, and journalist, Rodolfo Walsh is at the center of it trying to find out what happened. Walsh uses his skills as a journalist in order to shed some light on what happened during and after the uprising and how it affected the entire country. This is an unflinching true-life account of a country in chaos.

One of my majors in college was International Studies with a focus in Latin America. I am still endlessly fascinated about this area of the world and I am sort of surprised that I didn't come across this book earlier in my studies. I was very happy to be able to borrow it from a friend. It was really interesting to read about this event from a more on-the-ground approach than you would get from a standard history book. Walsh is a very driven individual and really wants to shed light on what happened. He draws on a lot of interviews and first hand accounts of people who were there and witnessed both the uprising and the fallout. I really liked that he focused so heavily on the accounts of people who were actually there and who actually witnessed

In a lot of ways, this book reminded me of Truman Capote's "In Cold Blood" in the way that it was told. It is a gripping story that pulled me in right from the beginning. I love learning history through books like this one as they get you right into the heart of the issue.

The history behind how this book was published is fascinating as well. This was originally published as magazine articles as the magazine was the only one brave enough to publish these stories (this would have been an incredibly controversial work during that time period). It's really fantastic that Walsh's work got published at all as the magazine editor could have just as easily said no for his own protection!

If you're interested in history and especially if you are interested in politics or South America, this is most definitely a worthwhile read!
 




Thursday, June 25, 2015

#HNS2015 : Almost There!



Today, I am winging my way out to Denver, CO for the 2015 Historical Novel Society Conference. I attended in 2013 and had so much fun. I think you can probably tell from my blog that I read pretty eclectically but my very favorite genre is historical fiction. This conference is truly a treat for me! It is so exciting to be around so many people who love the genre just as much as I do.

I am especially excited this year because I will be on a panel discussing Trends in Historical Women's Fiction with authors Kate Quinn and Eliza Knight as well as literary agent, Kevan Lyon. It's going to be a blast!

Unfortunately, you missed your opportunity to sign up for the conference (it's totally full!!!) but if you happen to be in the Denver area, this year the author signings are free and open to the public. Over 130 authors will be there to sign books from 5 to 7 p.m. on Saturday, June 27th.

 

 I can't wait to tell you all about the conference when I get back!




Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Review: Blackberry Winter by Sarah Jio

Title: Blackberry Winter
Author: Sarah Jio
Format: Paperback
Publisher: Plume
Publish Date: September 1, 2012
Source: Library






What's the Story?:

From Goodreads.com: "Seattle, 1933. Single mother Vera Ray kisses her three-year-old son, Daniel, goodnight and departs to work the night-shift at a local hotel. She emerges to discover that a May-Day snow has blanketed the city, and that her son has vanished. Outside, she finds his beloved teddy bear lying face-down on an icy street, the snow covering up any trace of his tracks, or the perpetrator's.
 

Seattle, 2010. Seattle Herald reporter Claire Aldridge, assigned to cover the May 1 "blackberry winter" storm and its twin, learns of the unsolved abduction and vows to unearth the truth. In the process, she finds that she and Vera may be linked in unexpected ways..."

My Two Cents:

I had really been wanting to read something by Sarah Jio for awhile. All of her books have sounded so good to me and I really wanted to see what they were all about. I came across "Blackberry Winter" at the library and when I read what the story was about, I knew I had to read it. I can tell you I was not disappointed!

"Blackberry Winter" is the story of two women in two different times. There is Vera, a woman in the 1930s who is struggling to care for her young son and to make ends meet. There is Claire, a woman in present day Seattle who is struggling to make her marriage work after tragedy strikes. Claire is a reporter and finds herself following a lead about a cold case involving the disappearance of a child.

Time split books can be hit or miss for me. In the case of this book, it worked really well. There were so many different surprises throughout this book and real connections between the women that it just worked really well. Jio gives you just enough about the connection between the women to keep you reading just. one. more. page (this book was really hard to put down because of that)! The way that she was able to connect everything at the very end was thoroughly delicious.

I also really liked both of the characters in this book and found them equally interesting. I felt for both of the characters. Both are dealing with very different situations but both situations center on children and what it means to be a parent. Both of the characters felt really real to me. Vera was so interesting to me. She is out on her own during a time when it was really difficult for a woman to make her own way. Claire is dealing with her problems by throwing herself into her work. She eventually realizes that she has to deal with her problems and she can't hide any longer!

I know that this is not the last time I read a book by Sarah Jio!


  

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Odds and Ends: Two Months Gone

When I was still pregnant, I had a lot of people tell me that once the girls were here, time would go by with warp speed. I believed them but I guess I didn't think about just how quickly it would feel like time was going. As of last week, we now have two very sweet two month olds. I am lucky enough to still be home with them but much too quickly those days and hours seem to be winnowing away as well.






Every day they seem to be changing. They are reacting a little bit more to things. They finally started smiling last week and it melts my heart every single time.

Whenever anyone asks about our girls, it feels like they want us to be frantic and crazed. With two little ones, I am definitely busy but these girls are amazingly good. It's as if they know that preserving Mom's nerves is a good thing. They're just really content little babies. They eat. They sleep. They are healthy. We have them on a good schedule. I feel like I've been knocking on every piece of wood that I happen upon because I know how lucky we are and I know that it could all turn around in an instant! Even the somewhat frustrating days are still pretty good.





If so much has changed in two months, where in the world are we going to be in three months???


Monday, June 22, 2015

Book Junkie Promotions Spotlight: Keep Dancing by Leslie Wells

02_Keep Dancing Cover Publication Date: February 5, 2015 Percambio Press Formats: Print & ebook 256 pages
Series: Come Dancing, Book Two Genre: Contemporary Romance/New Adult/Chick Lit
Add to GR Button
Julia is a young book editor on the rise. Jack is a British rock star at the pinnacle of his fame.
Can they both get what they want—if what they need threatens to tear them apart?
It’s January, 1982. Twenty-four-year-old Julia Nash has just moved in with her boyfriend, rock and roll guitarist extraordinaire Jack Kipling. Their connection sizzles as Jack takes her to England to meet his mother, and then to a private Caribbean island for a sensual post-holiday retreat.
But back in New York, they hit a turbulent patch. Career-focused Julia is in the running for a new job, while Jack’s life becomes even more chaotic with an upcoming thirty-city tour. Although free-spirited Jack enjoys his partying lifestyle, he craves more support on the home front. But Julia doesn’t know if she can ever be a domestic goddess—or if her wild boyfriend can ever be domesticated.
On tour, Julia experiences private jets, mind-blowing concerts, shocking hotel room antics, and screaming headlines. Back home, she has to decide if their relationship can withstand the ravages of fame and conflicting interests—not to mention a suave bestselling author who seems to like more than her grammar sense.
Emotionally poignant, hilarious and steamy, Keep Dancing will delight brand-new readers as a stand-alone novel, and also serves as the perfect follow-up to Come Dancing.

Praise for Keep Dancing

“Set in the 80s and dripping with the excesses this time period excelled at, Julia and Jack have reached a point in their relationship where the hard work begins. Julia is working towards her own stardom, while Jack continues to play in the world that made him. As external forces do their best to force this unusual couple apart, Jack and Julia will need to decide if they should keep dancing or find new partners. Emotionally plump with laughter, love, and heartbreak…” —Smexy Book Reviews “HOT”—“In book two of the Jack and Julia series, Wells once again titles chapters after hit songs, and finds even more ways to describe the excitement surrounding New York City as she did in the debut…” —Romance Times "This is a 5 star series, and I recommend this as a wonderfully fun yet angsty read. I loved the chemistry between Jack and Julia and their crazy bad communication skills (they didn’t have cell phones, after all). The breakups were worth it, if only just so they could make up!" -Cindy Becker, The Book Enthusiast

Praise for the first novel about Jack and Julia: Come Dancing, an Amazon Bestseller and Apple iBooks Breakout Book

“Wells builds an emotionally poignant love story, abounding with romance and humor.” —Smexy Book Reviews
“Sometimes a book like this comes along and takes me out of the niche reading that I tend to find myself in.... I am in love… So very sex + the city.” —Must Read Books or Die
“It reads like a very, very good romantic comedy movie.” —Michelle & Leslie’s Book Picks
“Once you start, you are completely unable to put it down.” —Devilishly Delicious Book Reviews
“Like a well-oiled machine or a well-tuned guitar, Julia and friends work their way into your heart.” —Satisfaction for Insatiable Readers
“Hot, sexy, and combustible.” —Blushing Divas Book Reviews
“Come Dancing is brimming with both humor and heart.” —Flashlight Commentary
“It's a fun romp, and the sparkling characters definitely made it worth the read.” —A Bookish Affair
“I enjoyed reading Come Dancing! It had a good story, fascinating characters, and a charming vibe.” —Julie Anne, Teacups & Book Love

Keep Dancing Available at

About the Author

03_Leslie Wells Credit © Leslie WellsLeslie Wells left her small Southern town in 1979 for graduate school in Manhattan, after which she got her first job in book publishing. She has edited forty-eight New York Times bestsellers in her over thirty-year career, including thirteen number one New York Times bestsellers. Leslie has worked with numerous internationally known authors, musicians, actors, actresses, television and radio personalities, athletes, and coaches. She lives on Long Island, New York.

Author Links

Keep Dancing Blog Tour Schedule

Friday, May 1 Review at Peeking Between the Pages
Saturday, May 2 Spotlight at The Never-Ending Book
Monday, May 4 Review at Red Hot Books
Thursday, May 7 Guest Post at I Heart Reading
Friday, May 8 Spotlight at Rainy Day Reviews
Monday, May 11 Review at Tea Cups and Book Love
Tuesday, May 12 Review at Room With Books
Wednesday, May 13 Spotlight at Susan Heim on Writing
Friday, May 15 Spotlight at Flashlight Commentary
Wednesday, May 20 Review & Guest Post at Must Read Books or Die
Thursday, May 21 Spotlight at Romance Junkies Blog
Monday, June 1 Review at The Life & Times of a Book Addict Spotlight at Genre Queen
Tuesday, June 2 Spotlight at CelticLady's Reviews
Wednesday, June 3 Review at Shelly's Book Shelves
Thursday, June 4 Review at SOS Aloha
Friday, June 5 Spotlight at Just One More Chapter
Monday, June 8 Review at The Danish Bookaholic
Tuesday, June 9 Review & Excerpt at Reading in Pajamas
Wednesday, June 10 Review at Book Nerd
Thursday, June 18 Spotlight at A Literary Vacation
Monday, June 22 Review at Satisfaction for Insatiable Readers
Wednesday, June 24 Guest Post at Brooke Blogs
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Exciting Giveaway!

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Saturday, June 20, 2015

Review: Hello, I Love You by Katie M. Stout

Title: Hello, I Love You
Author: Katie M. Stout
Format: Hardcover
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
Publish Date: June 9, 2015
Source: I received a copy from the publisher; however, this did not affect my review.






What's the Story?:

From Goodreads.com: "A teen escapes to a boarding school abroad and falls for a Korean pop star in this fun and fresh romantic novel in the vein of Anna and the French Kiss.

Grace Wilde is running—from the multi-million dollar mansion her record producer father bought, the famous older brother who’s topped the country music charts five years in a row, and the mother who blames her for her brother’s breakdown. Grace escapes to the farthest place from home she can think of, a boarding school in Korea, hoping for a fresh start.

She wants nothing to do with music, but when her roommate Sophie’s twin brother Jason turns out to be the newest Korean pop music superstar, Grace is thrust back into the world of fame. She can't stand Jason, whose celebrity status is only outmatched by his oversized ego, but they form a tenuous alliance for the sake of her friendship with Sophie. As the months go by and Grace adjusts to her new life in Korea, even she can't deny the sparks flying between her and the KPOP idol.

Soon, Grace realizes that her feelings for Jason threaten her promise to herself that she'll leave behind the music industry that destroyed her family. But can Grace ignore her attraction to Jason and her undeniable pull of the music she was born to write?"


My Two Cents:

In "Hello I Love You," Grace just wants to run away from her family. Her father is a big time record executive and her brother is a troubled musician. To top it all off, Grace is trying to run away from her ex-boyfriend, who seems to have his eyes on every other girl in all of Tennessee. When Grace starts going to boarding school in South Korea, she doesn't speak a lick of Korean. She is in an entirely different world and she doesn't understand the culture so when she meets KPOP star, Jason, she has no idea who he is but she falls for him very quickly (it's insta-love with a slight twist). As it is a story about growing up and finding your way and an unknown world.

I like this story mostly for the setting. I always like reading books that are set in places that are new to me or that I have an interest in. South Korea is utterly fascinating to me so I was excited for it. I thought that the setting would play a little more of a role in the book. It really doesn't except for the fact that Grace seems to hate it. Throughout this book, Grace is definitely going through culture shock and so she seems to be very judgemental of South Korea and never really seems to want to get to know the country. It was very frustrating for me because there were a lot of cases were some of the things that she said made me think that she was sort of being a stereotypical ugly American and she never really got past that, which had me wondering what role the setting truly played. I kept waiting for her to begin to grow or change but it doesn't happen. It was very frustrating!

I did like the love story between Grace and Jason. At first they really don't care for each other but Grace is attracted to him. I didn't care for that insta-love in this book but the way that the characters didn't get together right away sort of made up for it. The real part of the story that appealed to me was the part about what was going on with Jason and what was going on with Grace's family. This definitely added a little bit more depth to this book!

This book was a mixed bag for me. I like the setting and I understand that to some degree a person is not always going to like going into other countries. But it didn't quite work for me to have the main character be so unresponsive and so dismissive to the setting. It almost made the setting feel like it was merely there so this love story could have an exotic locale. I wanted to like this book more!


 

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Review: The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson

Title: The Devil in the White City
Author: Erik Larson
Format: Paperback
Publisher: Vintage
Publish Date: February 4, 2004
Source: Owned






What's the Story?:

From Goodreads.com: "Bringing Chicago circa 1893 to vivid life, Erik Larsen's spell-binding bestseller intertwines the true tale of two men--the brilliant architect behind the legendary 1893 World's Fair, striving to secure America's place in the world; and the cunning serial killer who used the fair to lure his victims to their death. Combining meticulous research with nail-biting storytelling. Erik Larsen has crafted a narrative with all the wonder of newly discovered history and the thrills of the best fiction."

My Two Cents: 

"The Devil in the White City" is a gripping true crime, historical story about the 1893 World's Fair in Chicago. The World's Fair was a chance for America to put on a show for the rest of the world to rival some of the greatest cities in the world such as Paris. This is one of those stories that you have to keep reminding yourself that it is actually a true story just because it is so fantastic.

This is the first book that I have read by Erik Larson but it will not be the last. Someone had given my husband, an architect, this book for a gift and it was one of those books that I always meant to get around to reading. I finally had a chance to read it when we were actually in Chicago last year (anyone else have this thing where they really like reading books in the places where they're set? I love it! It really adds something to my reading experience!)

I really liked the way that Larson was able to weave together a lot of great historical detail into a really engaging narrative. The planners of the World's Fair wanted to create the most spectacular spectacle that the world had ever seen. Meanwhile, the whole thing threatens to collapse when a horrible murderer threatens the city of Chicago.

Larson moves back and forth between the lead-up to the World's Fair and the murders. I loved this juxtaposition! On one hand, you have a group of great minds trying to bring order to chaos. On the other hand, you have a deranged mind bent on bringing chaos. It was so cool! Overall, this was a really great story!


 

Monday, June 15, 2015

Review: Red Gold by Alan Furst

Title: Red Gold
Author: Alan Furst
Format: Paperback
Publisher: Phoenix
Publish Date: 2005
Source: Borrowed






What's the Story?:

From Goodreads.com: "If you enjoy mysteries set against the rich background of World War II Europe (Philip Kerr's Berlin Noir trilogy and the fine French series by J. Robert Janes are prime examples), you should also know about Alan Furst. He began by writing such excellent, original books as Dark Star and Night Soldiers, all set in Eastern Europe. The locale then moved to Paris for The World at Night, where we first met the enigmatic film producer and reluctant Resistance hero Jean Casson.

Casson returns in fascinating form in Red Gold, washing up broke and depressed in his home city, now totally ground down by its German occupiers. Recruited by a sympathetic cop, Casson joins a group of officers working undercover inside the Vichy government to help de Gaulle. Casson's job is to convince justifiably skeptical French communists to cooperate; to do so he must organize a complicated, extremely dangerous transfer of weapons. There's nothing glamorous about the work or its result, but Furst is such a persuasive writer that we come to realize what a success it is for Casson just to stay alive. This innovative and gripping novel eloquently transports us back to a different era and a different world. --Dick Adler"

My Two Cents:

"Red Gold" is a sort of sequel to Furst's "The World at Night" although it still a part of his Night Soldiers series. "Red Gold" picks up the story of Jean Casson, the main character from "The World at Night." In this book, we see Casson as more battle-worn than he was in the first book but still committed to trying to help the Resistance movement in France. The stakes are even higher now!

The great thing about Furst's "Night Soldiers" books are that you can really start anywhere in the series without confusion as the books focus on different characters (except for "Red Gold" and "The World at Night." I actually read this book before I read the previous book and still totally understood this one (I do wish that I had read them in the right order merely from the standpoint of being able to see the progression of Casson's character).

Casson is a fascinating character. At first, he starts out wanting to stay out of the fray and to simply live his life without getting too involved. In this book, he cannot help but to be involved. He has a lot of drive and commitment. I really like how Furst is able to change this normal, everyday man into somewhat of a hero. Furst does this with a lot of his characters, which really helps to pull readers into caring about what happens to these people where there is so much more than what meets the eye initially. I did like "The World at Night" a little bit better because we see much more of a change in Casson as well as much greater characterization, another reason that I wish I had read this book after that one.

The world building and setting in this book continued to be one of my favorite things. Furst knows how to do a lot with a little. No description is wasted here!




Friday, June 12, 2015

Review: Under a Dark Summer Sky by Vanessa Lafaye

Title: Under a Dark Summer Sky
Author: Vanessa Lafaye
Format: ARC
Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark
Publish Date: June 2, 2015
Source: I received a copy from the publisher; however, this did not affect my review.






What's the Story?: 

From Goodreads.com: "Huron Key is already weighed down with secrets when a random act of violence and a rush to judgment viscerally tear the town apart. As the little island burns under the sun and the weight of past decisions, a devastating storm based on the third-strongest Atlantic Hurricane on record approaches, matching the anger of men with the full fury of the skies. Beautifully written and seductive, UNDER A DARK SUMMER SKY is at once a glorious love story, a fascinating slice of social history, and a mesmerizing account of what it's like to be in the eye of a hurricane."

My Two Cents:

"Under a Dark Summer Sky" is a story about many different kinds of people converging on Huron Key, a fictitious location in the Florida Keys. It is the 1930s and Huron Key is to play host to a group of American veterans who have nowhere to go after the war. In trying to provide jobs (or to prevent more chaos in Washington), the government came up with the idea to put veterans back to work. It's during the Great Depression and things are actually a little bit better in the Keys than they are in the rest of the country. The veterans think that they're going to be able to make a new life in the small community. The community is hesitant to accept this group of soldiers. The story is a multifaceted look at a community under great tension.

This wasn't a part of history that I really knew much about, which is what drew me to this book in the first place. The author mixes fact and fiction to show a community under pressure. The event of the soldiers coming to the Florida Keys is only one part of the story. The community is doing not only dealing with the arrival of the veterans, who are little more rowdy then they'd like. Then a catastrophic event shakes up the entire community. The community is also dealing with a terrible hurricane that is threatening their livelihoods. I enjoyed learning the history of this event!

There is an undertone of racial tension throughout this book. We are introduced to several characters, black and white, that interplay with each other to show us what things were like then. We are introduced to Missy, who is a nanny for the Kincaid's, a rich family in the area. We are also introduced to Henry, a soldier that comes home to Huron Key to find that he is still an outsider and is accused of an egregious crime.

It was a little bit hard for me to get into the story for a couple reasons. One, there were a lot of places where I felt like the author was telling a little bit too much. I get a lot of enjoyment out of putting together the pieces myself but when the author spells out so much, a bogs down the telling of the story. I hung in there because of the history behind this story. Eventually the flow of this story seems to even out a little bit as we get to the main arc of the story involving the crime at the center of the book. Overall, this is an interesting piece of history and I would love to read more about these events.


 

Thursday, June 11, 2015

HF Virtual Book Tours: Médicis Daughter: A Novel of Marguerite de Valois Pre-Order Blitz

The wait is over. Sophie Perinot, author of The Sister Queens, has a new book available for pre-order! Medicis Daughter travels forward three-hundred years from Perinot’s last novel to the intrigue-riven French court of Charles IX, spinning the tale of beautiful princess Marguerite who walks the knife’s edge between the demands of her serpentine mother, Catherine de Medicis, and those of her own conscience. This is a coming-of-age story that will remind audiences that, when it comes to the 16th century, the Valois are even sexier than the Tudors—and just as treacherous. 02_Medici's Daughter_CoverPublication Date: December 1, 2015 Publisher: Thomas Dunne Books Formats: eBook, Hardcover Genre: Historical Fiction Add to GR Button     Winter, 1564. Beautiful young Princess Margot is summoned to the court of France, where nothing is what it seems and a wrong word can lead to ruin. Known across Europe as Madame la Serpente, Margot’s intimidating mother, Queen Catherine de Médicis, is a powerful force in a country devastated by religious war. Among the crafty nobility of the royal court, Margot learns the intriguing and unspoken rules she must live by to please her poisonous family. Eager to be an obedient daughter, Margot accepts her role as a marriage pawn, even as she is charmed by the powerful, charismatic Duc de Guise. Though Margot's heart belongs to Guise, her hand will be offered to Henri of Navarre, a Huguenot leader and a notorious heretic looking to seal a tenuous truce. But the promised peace is a mirage: her mother's schemes are endless, and her brothers plot vengeance in the streets of Paris. When Margot's wedding devolves into the bloodshed of the St. Bartholomew's Day Massacre, she will be forced to choose between her family and her soul. Médicis Daughter is historical fiction at its finest, weaving a unique coming-of-age story and a forbidden love with one of the most dramatic and violent events in French history.

Praise for Médicis Daughter: A Novel of Marguerite de Valois

“This is Renaissance France meets Game of Thrones: dark, sumptuous historical fiction that coils religious strife, court intrigue, passionate love, family hatred, and betrayed innocence like a nest of poisonous snakes. Beautiful Princess Margot acts as our guide to the heart of her violent family, as she blossoms from naive court pawn to woman of conscience and renown. A highly recommended coming-of-age tale where the princess learns to slay her own dragons!” --Kate Quinn, Bestselling author of LADY OF THE ETERNAL CITY "The riveting story of a 16th century French princess caught in the throes of royal intrigue and religious war. From the arms of the charismatic Duke of Guise to the blood-soaked streets of Paris, Princess Marguerite runs a dangerous gauntlet, taking the reader with her. An absolutely gripping read!" --Michelle Moran, bestselling author of THE REBEL QUEEN "Rising above the chorus of historical drama is Perinot's epic tale of the fascinating, lascivious, ruthless House of Valois, as told through the eyes of the complicated and intelligent Princess Marguerite. Burdened by her unscrupulous family and desperate for meaningful relationships, Margot is forced to navigate her own path in sixteenth century France. Amid wars of nation and heart, Médicis Daughter brilliantly demonstrates how one unique woman beats staggering odds to find the strength and power that is her birthright." --Erika Robuck, bestselling author of HEMINGWAY'S GIRL

Médicis Daughter: A Novel of Marguerite de Valois Available for Pre-Order at

About the AuthorSP Small

SOPHIE PERINOT is the author of The Sister Queens and one of six contributing authors of A Day of Fire: A Novel of Pompeii. A former attorney, Perinot is now a full-time writer. She lives in Great Falls, Virginia with her three children, three cats, one dog and one husband. An active member of the Historical Novel Society, Sophie has attended all of the group’s North American Conferences and served as a panelist multiple times. Find her among the literary twitterati as @Lit_gal or on facebook at www.facebook.com/sophie.perinot.author.

Médicis Daughter Pre-Order Blitz Schedule

Monday, June 8 The True Book Addict Peeking Between the Pages So Many Books, So Little Time Tuesday, June 9 Unshelfish 100 Pages a Day A Book Drunkard The Reading Queen The Never-Ending Book Wednesday, June 10 Broken Teepee Passages to the Past Just One More Chapter Historical Fiction Connection Historical Readings & Reviews Thursday, June 11 A Bookish Affair Let Them Read Books Caroline Wilson Writes Svetlana's Reads and Views Friday, June 12 Boom Baby Reviews CelticLady's Reviews Book Lovers Paradise What Is That Book About

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

#SRC2015 Review: The Balance Project by Susie Orman Schnall

Title: The Balance Project
Author: Susie Orman Schnall
Format: Paperback
Publisher: Sparks Press
Publish Date: April 28, 2015
Source: SRC 2015






What's the Story?:

From Goodreads.com: "Katherine Whitney has it all. She’s married, has two daughters, is the COO of Green Goddess & Co., a multi-billion dollar health and wellness lifestyle company, and with the release of her book on work-life balance, she is not only a media darling but she is a hero to working moms everywhere. In reality, though, Katherine’s life is starting to fall apart, and her loyal assistant Lucy Cooper is the one holding most things together. But when Katherine does something unthinkable to Lucy, Lucy is faced with a difficult decision. Will she choose to change Katherine’s life forever or continue being her main champion. Her decision could change the trajectory of both of their lives. The Balance Project is a story of loyalty, choices, and most of all balance as it explores the hot-button issue that all women struggle with."

My Two Cents: 

"The Balance Project" is the story of Lucy, a young 20-something trying to make it in New York City. She has ideas about what she wants to do as a career but when an opportunity comes up to work for Katherine Whitney, America's queen of balance, Lucy thinks that's her foot in the door. What she doesn't realize is that Katherine really doesn't have it all figured out and the balance that she preaches about doesn't reflect her real life. Lucy is trying to keep it all together but Katherine's lack of balance seems to bleed into Lucy's life. This is a book about standing up for yourself and following your dreams. It's also the story of how looks can definitely be deceiving.

Lucy is a fantastic character. I like that the author told the story from her perspective so we really get a front row seat to all of her dealings with Katherine. Lucy definitely feels like a real person. Anyone who has just been starting out their career will recognize the desperation that Lucy has in trying to hold onto an opportunity that is wreaking havoc on her life. In the beginning of the book, Lucy seems to know what she wants and is trying to hold it all together to get there even if it means pushing away her boyfriend of eight years - she is sure that he will understand! Surprise, surprise, he doesn't understand and Lucy's life descends into greater cause chaos. We see Lucy eventually realize that having it all may look a little bit different than we initially think.

I love books that make me feel something and this book definitely made me feel a whole range of emotions. I was legitimately nervous as I watched both Lucy and Katherine's lives unravel. Being a person who favors order, the chaos really grabbed me. The ending of this book was great and I know that it is one that I am going to be thinking about for quite awhile (no spoilers!!!).

Between the topic at hand and the pop-culture references, this book is definitely very of the moment. With books like Sheryl Sandberg's "Lean In" and many others, it's hard to get away from the whole "women having it all discussion." As someone who has been in the workforce for awhile and is now a new mom, I know that topic is very much on my mind a lot recently. This book is a fictional look at what that actually means to have it all and how difficult it can actually be to find that balance. It's also the story of how balance looks different for each person. Overall, I enjoyed this section will take on a timely topic!


 

Thursday, June 4, 2015

#GBF15: A Small Town Festival With a Big Celebration of Books

This post has taken me awhile to put together (twins, you know) but I couldn't not talk about the amazing Gaithersburg Book Festival that I attended on May 16th. After attending for the first time last year, I decided to volunteer to be on the committee so I got to watch this year's festival take shape, which made attending this year even cooler! The Gaithersburg Book Festival is a one day event that takes place in May every year. The committee works really hard to get an amazing caliber of authors from all different genres to speak (and sign books!!!) every year. There's also tons of other activities to include book sales (yes!), workshops, and lots of fun literary related activities for the kiddos!

Gaithersburg sits just outside of Washington, D.C. and while D.C. gets a lot of literary events, they can be sort of hard to get to. The nice thing about the Gaithersburg Book Festival is that it is close enough to the city to be accessible but far enough away to feel like an escape. 

I was soooo excited about so many of the authors that were speaking. I didn't get to see even close to all of the authors that I wanted to see speak but I loved seeing everyone I did get to see! I even got pictures with some of the authors that I got books signed by and then in something resembling a blogger's worst nightmare, my phone (a.k.a. my camera/ my Facebook status-er, and my Twitter-er) ran out of battery so I didn't get all of the pictures/ statuses/ tweets out that I wanted to. C'est la vie!

Here's what I did get though:

Bryan Voltaggio was there! He happens to have grown up in the same town that I grew up in: Frederick, MD. He opened his first restaurant there and now he has several restaurants. Frederick is an absolutely charming town whose downtown area has been greatly revitalized in the last 10-15 years. I believe a lot of that is to the credit of restaurants and stores like Voltaggio's Volt. He was one of the first ones to take a chance in opening a great restaurant in an area that needed a bit of TLC.

Bryan Voltaggio and I.
I got to meet Alice Eve Cohen, author of "The Year My Mother Came Back!"

Alice Eve Cohen and I.

Reader indoctrination starts early in the A Bookish Affair household. My husband and I read a lot to our girls when they were still in utero. Now that they are here, we read to them every night and I am keen to turn them into little bookworms. I really wanted to get some books signed for them. Michelle Knudsen is the author of a few children's books including "Library Lion" and "Marilyn's Monster." Both books are ridiculously adorable! Matt Phelan is the illustrator of "Marilyn's Monster." I got signed copies of both books for my girls!

Michelle Knudsen, me, and Matt Phelan.

I also got to introduce a couple authors, which was really cool. I introduced Alexandra Robbins and David O. Stewart! I was so excited to introduce both of them as I had an opportunity to read their latest books (For Robbins, "The Nurses" and for Stewart, "Madison's Gift") and interview them for the GBF website. Here are the links to the Robbins interview and the Stewart interview if you're interested.

Here I am introducing Alexandra Robbins.

Here's Alexandra Robbins.

Here's David O. Stewart.
And then my phone died. Ugh. But the memories of a really good day live on. I got more books signed for my girls, including "Shiloh" by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor. That book was a childhood favorite of mine! I got books signed by Sarah Pekkanen and Erika Robuck. In total, I got 14 books signed! It was a fantastic day!

The Gaithersburg Book Festival is definitely one of my favorite literary events because it's intimate. A lot of signings and other literary events that I have been to are huge and you don't ever really get a chance to say hi to the author or to talk with them. I definitely got a chance to do a lot of that at this festival. I can't wait until next year!

What is your most favorite literary event that you have ever been to?

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Review: The Appetites of Girls by Pamela Moses

Title: The Appetites of Girls
Author: Pamela Moses
Format: Paperback
Publisher: G.P. Putnam's Sons
Publish Date: June 26, 2014
Source: I received a copy from the publisher; however, this did not affect my review.





What's the Story?:

From Goodreads.com: "Self-doubting Ruth is coddled by her immigrant mother, who uses food to soothe and control. Defiant Francesca believes her heavy frame shames her Park Avenue society mother and, to provoke her, consumes everything in sight. Lonely Opal longs to be included in her glamorous mother’s dinner dates—until a disturbing encounter forever changes her desires. Finally, Setsu, a promising violinist, staves off conflict with her jealous brother by allowing him to take the choicest morsels from her plate—and from her future. College brings the four young women together as suitemates, where their stories and appetites collide. Here they make a pact to maintain their friendships into adulthood, but each must first find strength and her own way in the world. "


My Two Cents:

The appetites of girls is the story of for college aged women: Ruth, Francesca, Opal, and set Sue. I was with so many of us in college, these girls are thrown together and a dorm Sweet where the beginnings of lifelong friendships are born. The title of this book deals with the fact that each of these women has dealt with both a physical appetite having to do with actual food and a mental appetite having to do with desire. This multi-fold theme is woven throughout the book.

This book is broken up into three parts. First, we get the brat background story of each character. Each character has had A different dealing with food. And it has affected the way that each character deals with the world. Second, we the readers witness each of these characters experience in college and how they are affected by the stories of their past. The third section books at these women as full-fledged adults after they have been friends for a long time. This is sort of a hard book to explain and it definitely took a while for it to grow on me by by the end of the book after seeing each character go through so much, I really enjoyed this book. If you do try those book, I suggest giving it a little while to see how it all comes together.

One of the things that really struck me in this book is the way that the author was able to create a really unique voice for each character. This can be really difficult for others to do when it they are counting on the characters to show the reader the story. At first I did feel as if I was being held at arms length but as I read on, The author has a really nice way of slowly opening up the characters to the reader.

And a lot of ways, at this book is very quiet but powerful. I think it's a really good book for anyone who feels like they are always dealing with the past and someway and looking for ways to overcome it.

#SRC2015 Review: The Grown Ups by Robin Antalek

Title: The Grown Ups
Author: Robin Antalek
Format: Paperback
Publisher: William Morrow
Publish Date: January 27, 2015
Source: SRC 2015






What's the Story?:

From Goodreads.com: "The summer he’s fifteen, Sam enjoys, for a few secret months, the unexpected attention of Suzie Epstein. For reasons Sam doesn’t entirely understand, he and Suzie keep their budding relationship hidden from their close knit group of friends. But as the summer ends, Sam’s world unexpectedly shatters twice: Suzie’s parents are moving to a new city to save their marriage, and his own mother has suddenly left the house, leaving Sam’s father alone to raise two sons.

Watching as her parents’ marital troubles escalate, Suzie takes on the responsibility of raising her two younger brothers and plans an early escape to college and independence. Though she thinks of Sam, she deeply misses her closest friend Bella, but makes no attempt to reconnect, embarrassed by the destructive wake of her parents as they left the only place Suzie called home. Years later, a chance meeting with Sam’s older brother will reunite her with both Sam and Bella - and force her to confront her past and her friends.

After losing Suzie, Bella finds her first real love in Sam. But Sam’s inability to commit to her or even his own future eventually drives them apart. In contrast, Bella’s old friend Suzie—and Sam’s older brother, Michael—seem to have worked it all out, leaving Bella to wonder where she went wrong."


My Two Cents:

"The Grown Ups" is the story of Susie, Sam, and Bella and by extension, Michael, who is Sam's brother. When the book opens they are teenagers. It's the things that they do as teenagers that will shape them into the adults that they become. This book is really interesting because it looks at each of the characters throughout their formative years, those strange years from being a teenager to being a full fledged adult. Each chapter of the book focuses on a different character in a different time period. We see them first as teenagers and then college-age kids and then adults. This book tracks the trajectory that each of their lives take and how even after they flee the comfort of their suburban neighborhood, their lives continue to be interwoven with each other.

I really enjoyed this book. I think anyone who has gone through the transition between those strange years as a teenager to trying to find ourselves in college to becoming a full-fledged adult who has to do adult things will get something out of this book. In many ways this book is a traditional bildungsroman tale about all three of these characters. They start out not really knowing what their future lives are going to be like. Each life is different. Suzie knows what she wants. Bella thinks she knows what she wants but may not really know. Sam has no idea what he wants.

I really like the way that this book was written. At first I wasn't sure how I was going to feel about the characters as we only get to see them every so often throughout each of the different sections. However, the author has a really great way of making the reader understand what is going on in each of the characters heads. We see them succeed. We see them struggle. We see them try to make a sense of the world where they are supposed to eventually be the adults even when it feels like they really don't want to. It was that part of the book that really hit home for me. I think I was particularly struck by the way that the author was able to show how sometimes even as an adult you wake up and wonder how exactly you got to wear you are. Overall, this was a good story.


 
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