Friday, September 30, 2011

Review: After Midnight by Irmgard Keun

Title: After Midnight
Author: Irmgard Keun
Publisher: Melville House Publishing
Publish Date: May 24, 2011
Source: Netgalley

Why You're Reading This Book:

  • You're a fan of novellas that cover a lot of ground. 
  • You love an old treasure.
What's the Story?:

From "Sanna and her ravishing friend Gerti would rather speak of love than politics, but in 1930s Frankfurt, politics cannot be escaped—even in the lady's bathroom. Crossing town one evening to meet up with Gerti's Jewish lover, a blockade cuts off the girls' path—it is the Fürher in a motorcade procession, and the crowd goes mad striving to catch a glimpse of Hitler's raised "empty hand." Then the parade is over, and in the long hours after midnight Sanna and Gerti will face betrayal, death, and the heartbreaking reality of being young in an era devoid of innocence or romance.
In 1937, German author Irmgard Keun had only recently fled Nazi Germany with her lover Joseph Roth when she wrote this slim, exquisite, and devastating book. It captures the unbearable tension, contradictions, and hysteria of pre-war Germany like no other novel. Yet even as it exposes human folly, the book exudes a hopeful humanism. It is full of humor and light, even as it describes the first moments of a nightmare. After Midnight is a masterpiece that deserves to be read and remembered anew."

My Two Cents:

I really, really love when publishers bring old treasures (also known as a book in this particular case) to new light and new audiences. After Midnight is one of those books. This is a short book about a vivacious girl named Sanna who is living in a quickly changing world. In this sort of novella, Keun gives us a look at not only the world events changing the the course of history at the time but also how regular life still seems to creep in.

I really enjoyed this short story. I had never heard of it before but this is definitely a treasure from the past.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Author Interview and Giveaway: Meredith Mileti, Author of Aftertaste

So yesterday, I reviewed the book, Aftertaste by Meredith Mileti. Today, I have the pleasure of welcoming Meredith to A Bookish Affair for an interview. Oh, and US readers have a chance to win a copy of this awesome book!


1. Have you ever dreamed about owning a restaurant like Mira does in Aftertaste? What kind of restaurant would you want to own?

Yes, I used to think about it occasionally, but I decided to write about it instead. Whatever real desire I had was quashed by the research I did for Aftertaste. It is an incredibly demanding job to run a restaurant -- and very physical. You’ve got to be in great shape -- you are on your feet for hours, seven days a week. If I did have a restaurant, it would be a little cozy little neighborhood bistro-type place. I’d serve great breads and croissants, maybe a few breakfast soufflés and crepes, some great soups and a couple of interesting salads for lunch.

2. I've never been to Pittsburgh before. If and when I do make it there, what restaurants should I eat in?

Pittsburgh is a great food town, which is surprising to many people. (I guess we are a well-kept secret!) I’ve got lots of favorite restaurants. It’s tough to narrow them down to three, but here goes:

There is a terrific little Moroccan restaurant in the Mt. Lebanon suburb called Kous Kous Café. It’s tiny, maybe eight tables, but the food – French-inspired Moroccan -- is absolutely amazing. Lots of tagines, a terrific kefta (a Moroccan take on the hamburger) served with goat cheese and fig tfaya (caramelized onions and sweet roasted figs) served on house-made Moroccan wheat bread. There is a wonderful salad with grilled whole sardines and an inspired take on osso bucco with white wine and artichokes.

In the Point Breeze section of the city there is a little place called Point Brugge Café that serves Belgian cuisine. It is hands down my favorite place to eat mussels in the city and rivals many I’ve had abroad. They also have a knockout selection of Belgian beers. Their frites are great, too.

I also love Dish, a small restaurant in a row house on Sarah Street on Pittsburgh’s South Side. It’s Italian, with an emphasis on great seafood and antipasti. There’s squid and spinach antipasti that I love so much it makes a cameo appearance in Aftertaste. I order it every time I’m there. It also has a fun, casual vibe and a neat bar with a lovely selection of Italian wines by the glass.

3. What inspired you to write Aftertaste?

The idea for the story came to me several years ago when I was writing my doctoral dissertation. It was a heavy statistical analysis and I was totally consumed by it. I’d accepted an academic position that was dependent upon my finishing it, so I had a major, looming deadline. We had three young kids at home at the time and my husband, champ that he is, told me I could have the summer off from cooking -- he would handle feeding the family so I could finish. I was grouchy and miserable and not just because I was subsisting on a diet of take-out food and hamburger helper. I was missing the only creative outlet I had at the time -- cooking. Mira interrupted me one day and wouldn’t leave me alone, so I wrote the first chapter of her story. Then I stuck it in a drawer and it sat there for a couple of years while I was busy doing other things, but I never stopped thinking about her. Eventually, I picked it back up and Aftertaste is the result!

4. What would you want to eat as your last meal?

I’d start with mussels marinières with a warm, crusty fresh baguette for mopping up the sauce. A perfectly roasted chicken, mashed potatoes, a whole mound of sautéed broccoli rabe, an escarole salad with a mustardy vinaigrette and a nice minerally French chardonnay to go with it. Dessert would be cheese, (Midnight Moon, d’Affinois, French feta and a nice aged nutty cheddar), roasted nuts and honey, fresh figs, more bread, and since I don’t have to worry about a hangover, lots more wine.

5. What three books would you want to bring with you to a deserted island?

A Room With A View by E.M. Forester I’ve read this book so often I’ve lost count. It is an old friend. I love Italy, so the setting always works its magic on me, but even more than that, it’s the message of the story that I find so appealing. It’s about looking inward, how we each are responsible for our view of the world. Attitude is everything. It’s a romantic, visually evocative and touching story and would be a lovely book to keep me company.

 Pillars of The Earth by Ken Follett A big, sweeping saga that clocks in at nearly1000 pages. Art, architecture, compelling characters, intrigue and lots of action -- what more do you need?

The Art of Eating by MFK Fisher Sooner or later coconuts and mangos are going to get boring and I’ll have to become an armchair (or hammock, as the case may be) eater.


If you are a U.S. resident and want to win this awesome book, just comment below with either your favorite type of cuisine or what your favorite meal is. Don't forget to leave an email address that you check frequently!

- You must be 13 and over
- Open to US residents only!
- You must be a follower of A Bookish Affair

Giveaway ends October 6th at 11:59pm!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Review: Aftertaste by Meredith Mileti

Title: Aftertaste
Author: Meredith Mileti
Publisher: Kensington Books
Publish Date: September 1, 2011
Source: Receiving a copy from the PR company (this did not affect my review)

Why You're Reading This Book:

  • You love food centric books. 
  • You love interesting characters.
  • You love strong characters.
What's the Story?:

From "Mira Rinaldi lives life at a rolling boil. Co-owner of Grappa, a chic New York City trattoria, she has an enviable apartment, a brand-new baby, and a frenzied schedule befitting her success. Everything changes the night she catches her husband, Jake, "wielding his whisk" with Grappa's new waitress. Mira's fiery response earns her a court-ordered stint in anger management and the beginning of legal and personal predicaments as she battles to save her restaurant and pick up the pieces of her life. Mira falls back on family and friends in Pittsburgh as she struggles to find a recipe for happiness. But the heat is really on when some surprising developments in New York present her with a high stakes opportunity to win back what she thought she had lost forever. For Mira, cooking isn't just about delicious flavors and textures, but about the pleasure found in filling others' needs. And the time has come to decide where her own fulfillment lies - even if the answers are unexpected."

My Two Cents:

This is a story of one woman trying to figure out what her plan B is (and who doesn't need a plan B). It's a story of love and life balance and pursuing what's important and what you love. I can totally see where Mira is coming from. She literally walks in on her husband umm... engaging in extracurricular activities with one of the employees that works in Mira and her husband's restaurant. I'd be angry too. There are some characters in various books that I wish I could shake some sense into them and tell them to just get over it. But Mira was different. You really feel for her. She worked so hard to set up her restaurant only to have her livelihood destroyed by her husband's roving eye. Mira is real. When the book opens, she's in the midst of an anger management class, which she fails at. I love reading about characters who have very human flaws. Eventually she finds what she's looking for though as so many of us do.

The other star of this book is the food, oh the food. Mira owns an Italian restaurant. She learned how to cook in Italy. The descriptions of the things that Mira and the other characters both cook and eat are written in such lovely, vivid detail that you feel like you can taste it. This book made me hungry! The author added a nice touch at the end by including some of the recipes that Mira and the other characters made in the book. Like Mira's food in the book, they are simple recipes filled with all sorts of gorgeous ingredients. You better believe that I will be trying some of these recipes.

Bottom line: This book has a lot of good food and a lot of heart; you'll eat this one right up!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Winner of Eromenos by Melanie McDonald!

Kim from Time 2 Read is the winner of the Eromenos giveaway. The winner has been emailed and if I do not hear from the winner within 48 hours, I will have to pick a new winner!

Book Tour and a Giveaway Announcement: Hill 170 by Michael Barclay

Title: Hill 170
Author: Michael Barclay
Publisher: MKB Publishing
Publish Date: April 27, 2011
Source: Received a copy from the author. This did not affect my review.

Why You're Reading This Book:

  • You like military thrillers.
  • You like sort of adventure stories.
What's the Story?:

From "China, North Korea, South Korea and the United States - the major forces in the world’s most dangerous stand off.

Sergeant Dodge Bryce and the small team of USAF intelligence ops on Hill 170 keep the region safe. But who will keep them safe when a shocking incident costs the group fully one third of their number - overnight?

Now gravely short handed, the Hill faces its ultimate worst case scenario - a PRC spy in their midst. And Bryce - his remarkable string of intel discoveries having cost the PRC too much - is now the #1 target of China’s master assassin.

It’s a race against the clock as East and West square off in a chillingly authentic story of defections, betrayals and clandestine intelligence operations that you will never forget."

My Two Cents:

In the afterword, Michael talks about how he based some of the book on his own experiences in the United States Air Force. I thought that it was really cool how he was able to turn some of his experiences into a story. I think it really helped him give some good detail about the different characters and the different situations that they deal with. Since the characters are dealing with difficult and also very dangerous situations, it's helpful to have someone writing about these situations who have been there and done that. 

One down side is that there are a lot of things that need to be explained in a certain way so that people outside of the world spoken about in the book can understand what is going on. I really felt lost at some points. There were a lot of things that I just really didn't understand what was going on. I thought there were several points that could have been shown rather than told. It's a hard line to walk between not dumbing things down too much and making sure that your readers can follow everything. 

This book was also outside of the normal genres that I usually read which admittedly could have also affected to what I did or did not follow.

Bottom line: This book would probably be a good book for those who like military thrillers.

Follow The Rest of the Book Tour:

Sept 26th

Sept 27th
Review/ Giveaway

Sept 28th
Review// giveaway

Sept 29th
Feature/ Giveaway

Sept 30th
Interview/ Giveaway

Oct 3rd
Interview/ Giveaway

Oct 4th
Review, giveaway, Guest post

Oct 5th
Review/ Giveaway/ Interview

Oct 6th
Review, Giveaway

Oct 7th
Feature/ Giveaway

Oct. 10th
review, giveaway

Oct. 11th
Feature, Giveaway

Oct 12th
Review/ Giveaway

Oct 13rd
Guest post and contest

Oct 14th
Guest post/ giveaway

Don't Miss:

HILL 170 is giving away a Kindle and the Winner gets to choose!
Kindle 3G, Free 3G + Wi-Fi, 3G Works Globally, Graphite, 6″ Display with New E Ink Pearl Technology – includes Special Offers & Sponsored Screensavers
Kindle, Wi-Fi, 6″ E Ink Pearl Display 
Either = $139 value
Kindle is Amazon’s #1 best seller and has the most 5-star reviews of any product on Amazon.
The HILL 170 Kindle Giveaway Official Rules
1. Buy the book at Amazon –
2. (choose one)
A. Forward a copy of your Amazon purchase receipt to
B. Send a screen capture of your Amazon purchase receipt to
3. One entry per purchase.
4. Entries must be in by October 15th 2011.
5. Drawing will be held October 25th 2011. The winner will be announced on October 26th 2011.
The fine print: The actual prize is a $139 gift credit at Amazon. The winner may use this amount for any item(s) sold on Amazon. Void where prohibited.

Monday, September 26, 2011

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

Just Finished:

Look for my post as a part of the blog tour tomorrow (oh and the author is giving away a Kindle so you'll want to stay tuned for that!).

Currently Reading:

I'm not too far into this one yet but I'm looking forward to learning something on a subject (The Bosnian War) that I know very little about.

Next Up:

This is another Netgalley book and it takes place in Iraq. It should be interesting.
What are you reading this week?

Review: The Traitor's Wife by Kathleen Kent

Title: The Traitor's Wife
Author: Kathleen Kent
Publisher: Pan Books (Kindle Edition)
Publish Date: January 7, 2011
Source: Netgalley

Why You're Reading This Book:

  • You liked The Heretic's Daughter.
  • You like historical fiction.
What's the Story?:

From "I'll not ask you to be mine ... I will never seek to blunt the fury in you, never, and will honour your will as my own. What say you? Can you be a soldier's wife? New England, 1673. Martha Allen, a young woman reviled by her family because of her refusal to marry, is packed off to be a servant in her cousin's home. She takes charge of the neglected household and annoys everyone around her - including a mysterious Welshman who works for the family, a man whose forceful nature matches her own. As they both gradually let their guard down, a fragile, uneasy friendship grows between the pair. 

Meanwhile, on the other side of the Atlantic, a band of assassins, driven by the will of Charles II, charter a ship to the New World. They have a single aim: to capture Thomas Morgan, the killer of Charles I, and bring him back to London where he will face an excruciating death. The Royalists want to see his head on a spike outside the Tower of London. As Martha begins to fall for the tall Welshman, he reveals a little of his past. It soon becomes clear that his life is in grave danger. As the threat of the assassins grows closer, can Martha find it in herself to be a traitor's wife? Praise for The Heretic's Daughter 'Absolutely compelling' Daily Mail 'A very fine novel ... a remarkably accomplished telling of a truly shocking tale' Daily Express."

My Two Cents:

I actually did not realize that this was a prequel to Kathleen Kent's The Heretic's Daughter, a book that I read a couple years ago. I thought this was a great standalone book and if you didn't know otherwise, you wouldn't realize that there was a connection between the two books until the very end of the book. You may even want to read this book before you read The Heretic's Daughter if you haven't read it already.

I really liked the story that took place in Massachusetts rather than the story on the boat. I thought the characters of Martha and Thomas and Martha's cousin's family were much more engaging than the men chasing after Thomas (they seem to do a lot of waiting and talking and that's about it). I thought that Martha was a really interesting character. At her relatively young age, she's already sort of is a old maid and she goes to her cousin's family to basically try to find a husband. 

In a way, I almost enjoyed this book much more than The Heretic's Daughter. Thomas' story is incredibly interesting and really opened a new part of history for me. I also liked the picture of the small settlement that the characters lived in. I really thought you got a really good picture of how the early American settlers lived and some of the dangers that they faced. 

Bottom line: This is a great historical fiction read. 

Friday, September 23, 2011

Review: Smuggled by Christina Shea

Title: Smuggled
Author: Christina Shea
Publisher: Grove Press
Publish Date: July 5, 2011
Source: I received a copy from the author; however, this did not affect my review.

Why You're Reading This Book:

  • You like a good historical fiction.
  • You like being able to see how characters change throughout time.
What's the Story?:

From "Sweeping from post–WWII rural Romania to the cosmopolitan Budapest of 1990, Christina Shea’s Smuggled is the story of Eva Farkas, who loses her identity, quite literally, as a young child when she is smuggled in a flour sack across the Hungarian border to escape the Nazis.
Five-year-old Eva is trafficked from Hungary to Romania at the end of the war, arriving in the fictional border town of Crisu, given the name Anca Balaj by her aunt and uncle and instructed never to speak another word of Hungarian again. “Eva is dead,” she is told. As the years pass, Anca proves an unquenchable spirit, with a lust for life even when political forces threaten to derail her at every turn. Time is layered in this quest for self, culminating in the end of the Iron Curtain and Anca’s reclaiming of the name her mother gave her. When Eva returns to Hungary in 1990, a country changing as fast as the price of bread, she meets Martin, an American teacher, and Eva’s lifelong search for family and identity comes full circle as her cross-cultural relationship with Martin deepens through their endeavor to rescue the boy downstairs from abuse.

An intimate look at the effects of history on an individual life,Smuggledis a raw and fearless account of transformation, and a viscerally reflective tale about the basic need for love without claims."

My Two Cents:

It's very rare that you get to spend so much time with a character. We get to spend almost 50 years with Eva/Anca to see how she changes from the time. We get to see her as a young girl when she doesn't really understand what's going on when she is taken from her parents and her home in Hungary to go live with her aunt and uncle in Romania in order to escape the Holocaust. She has to take on a new identity and at such a young age, she almost forgets who she once was. After the war, Eva is suddenly reminded of her past when someone she once knew comes back in her life and could threaten to unravel her new persona and identity.

I love historical fictions about the WWII time period. This one covers that time period and beyond. The book also takes place in Romania and Hungary, two countries that I'm not particularly familiar with so it was cool to read about both places. Also, just having been in Ukraine, I've started being interested in countries that were in the Soviet Bloc the places Smuggled talked about were. I thought it was interesting to see what life was like in those countries, which were further away from Moscow and therefore seemed to have it a little bit better than Ukraine.

This book is pretty good. At one point though (and I don't want to give anything away), it got really, really depressing and hard to read. I understand that those times and the things that Eva was going through were not happy but it just seemed too much almost. I was happy when the book started picking back up.

Bottom line: If you're looking for a fresh WWII and beyond historical fiction, this is a great choice.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Booking Through Thursday: In Public

This week's question is: Do you carry books with you when you’re out and about in the world?And, do you ever try to hide the covers?

Guys, this week was my anniversary (my first anniversary) so my husband and I went out to a really, really tasty restaurant (if you're ever in DC, it's called Founding Farmers and you most go there. Your tummy will thank you!!!). After we finished dinner, we were making our way back to the Metro station and I mentioned that my back hurt. My husband asked me to list everything that I had in my bag. I listed all of the essentials that were in my bag and then he told me "It's probably that hardback book and your Kindle." True, true but does he really expect me not to carry a book of some sort to work??? Not happening, dear husband. It's just not happening.

As for hiding the covers, I don't. I think I have pretty decent taste in books so I'm always proud to show what I'm reading. One world that my Kindle opened up for me is romance novels 'cause sometimes you just need a story with a little steam and a happy ending. I think if I read paper versions of those books, some of the covers would definitely have to be hidden!!!

What say you?

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Review and Giveaway: Road from the West by Roseanne Lortz

Title: Road from the West
Author: Roseanne Lortz
Publisher: Madison Street Publishing
Publish Date: September 2, 2011
Source: Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours

Why You're Reading This Book:

  • You like adventure stories.
  • You're in the mood for an epic historical fiction.
What's the Story?:

From "Haunted by guilt from the past and nightmares of the future, a young Norman named Tancred takes the cross and vows to be the first to free Jerusalem from the infidels. As he journeys to the Holy Land, he braves vast deserts, mortal famine, and the ever-present ambushes of the enemy Turks—but the greatest danger of all is deciding which of the Crusader lords to trust. A mysterious seer prophesies that Tancred will find great love and great sorrow on his journey, but the second seems intent on claiming him before he can find the first. Intrigues and passions grow as every battle brings the Crusaders one step closer to Jerusalem. Not all are destined to survive the perilous road from the West."

My Two Cents:

The Crusade was a Pope and Catholic sanctioned Christian takeover of Jerusalem. This book is the first in a trilogy that covers the first Crusade. Tancred, a young warrior, is told by Pope Urban if he fights in the Crusade, all of Tancred's sins will be absolved. Tancred really doesn't like playing by the rules but he wants to make his previous troubles go away.

I had never read any fictional books about the Crusade. I thought it was really interesting to see the Crusade from the perspective of the people who were fighting to boot the pagans out of the Holy City of Jerusalem. You can see from Tancred's perspective alone that people fought in the Crusades for all sorts of reasons. Some did fight because they believed they had a religious duty to remove the pagans from the Holy Land. Other fought for more selfish reasons. I guess I didn't realize that there was such a broad range of reasons for people to fight.

One of the things that I liked about this book is that although it takes place during a war, there isn't a lot of time spent on the battles themselves. The book covers more of the behind the scenes of what's going on. It talks more about what people were thinking as they marched towards the unknown. To me, this was way more interesting than a bunch of battle sequences.

Bottom line: This was a great adventure story with an interesting perspective.


Thanks to the author and publisher, one lucky reader of A Bookish Affair will win a copy of Road from the West. 

- You must be 13 and over
-  Open internationally
- You must be a follower of A Bookish Affair

Just fill out this really easy form here and you're entered!
Follow the Rest of the Tour:

Friday, September 2nd

Monday, September 5th

Author Guest Post & Giveaway at The Maiden's Court

Tuesday, September 6th

Author Guest Post & Giveaway at From the TBR Pile 

Wednesday, September 7th

Review at The Calico Critic

Thursday, September 8th

Review at Unabridged Chick

Monday, September 12th

Review at Broken Teepee

Tuesday, September 13th

Author Interview & Giveaway at Unabridged Chick

Wednesday, September 14th

Author Guest Post & Giveaway at Broken Teepee

Friday, September 16th

Tuesday, September 20th

Wednesday, September 21st

Review & Giveaway at A Bookish Affair

Thursday, September 22nd

Author Guest Post at Bibliophilic Book Blog

Monday, September 26th

Tuesday, September 27th

Wednesday, September 28th

Author Guest Post & Giveaway at Just One More Paragraph

Thursday, September 29th

Friday, September 30th

Review at By the By Books

Monday, October 3rd

Review & Giveaway at Peeking Between the Pages

Tuesday, October 4th

Author Interview at The Musings of a Book Junkie

Wednesday, October 5th

Review & Giveaway at Bippity Boppity Book

Thursday, October 6th

Review at A Few More Pages

Friday, October 7th

Monday, October 10th

Tuesday, October 11th

Author Interview & Giveaway at The Owl Bookmark Blog

Wednesday, October 12th

Thursday, October 13th

Review at Words and Peace

Friday, October 14th

Review at Reviews by Molly

Monday, October 17th

Review at Erin Reads

Tuesday, October 18th

Author Interview at Reviews by Molly

Wednesday, October 19th

Thursday, October 20th

Author Guest Post & Giveaway at The True Book Addict

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Crazy Book Tours: Salvation City by Sigrid Nunez

Title: Salvation City
Author: Sigrid Nunez
Publisher: Penguin Group
Publish Date: September 6, 2011
Source: Crazy Book Tours

Why You're Reading This Book:

  • You like dystopian fiction.
  • You like realistic dystopian fiction. 
What's The Story?:

From "In an American landscape devastated by a flu pandemic, orphaned thirteen-year-old Cole is rescued by an evangelical couple. Adjusting to a new life, he struggles with memories of the past. As other survivors become dedicated to their own vision of utopia, Cole imagines a wholly different future for himself.

Written in Sigrid Nunez's deceptively simple style, Salvation City is a story of love, betrayal, and forgiveness, blending the deeply affecting story of a young boy's transformation with a profound meditation on belief, heroism, and the true meaning of salvation."

My Two Cents:

By now you guys know that I really like dystopian fiction and I like when they at least have a little bit of a realistic premise. Salvation City has a very realistic premise: a whole bunch of people are dying from a flu. Frankly, it's a little creepy but it works. Cole loses his parents in the flu epidemic and is adopted by a pastor and his nice but sort of dumb wife. The environment in Salvation City is unlike anything that Cole has known. He grew up in a very secular house and Salvation City is in the midst of preparing for the apocalypse since they believe the flu pandemic has signaled the end of the days.

I liked this book. It had an interesting premise. Cole essentially is shown two ways of life or two paths that he can follow. He's young and so he struggles with these truths (okay, just about anyone would struggle with these choices). He doesn't know which way to go. On the whole, I thought the book had some holes that I would have liked more information about. You can't really tell which way Cole goes. You get to see the beginning of the choice that he makes but not the total resolution. It would have been nice to see which way he really went.

I sort of struggled with what rating to give this one. I really like the premise and the writing was really good. You really get a good sense of the characters. I just wish that the book would have felt a little more finished. This is still a really good read but the lack of a neat ending irked me.

Monday, September 19, 2011

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

Just Finished:

This book takes place in Romania and Hungary, two places that I don't know much about. Very good book. Look for my review later this week!

Currently Reading:

Dystopian for adults!

Next Up:

Hoping to get my historical fiction fix out of this one!

What are you reading?

Review: The Dragon and the Pearl by Jeannie Lin

Title: The Dragon and the Pearl
Author: Jeannie Li
Publisher: Harlequin
Publish Date: September 20, 2011
Source: Netgalley

Why You're Reading This Book:

  • You like romance stories.
  • You love exotic locales.
What's the Story?:

From "Former Emperor’s consort Ling Suyin is renowned for her beauty; the ultimate seductress. Now she lives quietly alone—until the most ruthless warlord in the region comes and steals her away....

Li Tao lives life by the sword, and is trapped in the treacherous, lethal world of politics. The alluring Ling Suyin is at the center of the web. He must uncover her mystery without falling under her spell—yet her innocence calls out to him. How cruel if she, of all women, can entrance the man behind the legend."

My Two Cents:

This past weekend, I was looking for a little bit of a lighter read (my husband and I took a road trip to the beach to celebrate our first anniversary) and this book certainly fit the bill!!! This is the second book about Li Tao (the first was called The Butterfly Swords). I didn't read The Butterfly Swords but I don't think you have to read it in order to enjoy The Dragon and the Pearl. This book is definitely a great stand alone book.

Suyin is alone in the world. After she falls out of favor with the monarchy, she lives on her own. Tao is a ruthless war lord looking to stake a claim in any way that he can. He takes Suyin away from her home because he thinks that she will make a good bargaining chip for him to get what he wants. Suyin is a former courtesan who is rumored to be able to make men fall in love with her with just a single look. Li Tao hardly believes that and is sure that he will be above her charm. Eh, it's a little predictable but I still loved the book and as I said, it fit the bill for a good light read.

I really liked this book. The setting is off the beaten path (China during the Tang Dynasty) and I thought that Lin did a really great job with creating the world for the reader. 

Bottom line: If you're looking for a love story in an awesome locale, this is the book for you.

Friday, September 16, 2011

BBAW 2011: Blogging

Today, we're talking about how we blog on the final day of BBAW 2011 (*tear*). Here are my 3 tips for awesome blogging.

  1. Network!: Before book blogging, I had never done anything with Twitter. I didn't really get it. Shortly after I started book blogging, I started a Twitter account. Truth be told, I didn't plan to use it right away; I just wanted to register my name so it would match with my blog name. I soon got sucked in though. Other bloggers, authors and publishers are at your fingertips with Twitter!
  2. Engage!: Don't be shy. Reach out to your fellow bloggers! Connect!
  3. Write from the heart: If you feel strongly about something, you'll be more likely to engage your readers.
How do you blog?

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Small Blogs, Big Giveaway: Part 3

Small Blogd Big Giveaways 3rd Edition

ENTER TO WIN and scroll down to read the full list of prizes or read it here!

30 prizes split between 3 winners + 3 Gift Card Giveaways!

Follow the event on twitter

HOSTS & other giveaways

Organized by: Reading Romances
also having a US$50 gift card giveaway!
Laurie's Thoughts & Reviews - also having several giveaways
The Magic Attic ‪- having her 600 follower giveaway
Forbidden Passions Reviews - also having other giveaways
Book Nerd Reviews - having an international giveaway
Can't Put It Down - having several giveaways under her Giveaways & Contest Tab
Krystal Larson - Live To Read - also having several giveaways
A Bookish Affair - also having other giveaways
Sugarpeach - also having two giveaways
Book Briefs - having her 500 follower giveaway
The Sanction Chronicles- having a giveaway every friday
Thank you to our featured authors:
Gabrielle Bisset: A Writer's Blog- also giving away a signed copy of the Stolen Destiny paperback and bookmarks to US/Canada winner and ebooks of Stolen Destiny and Love's Master to International , able to be signed through Kindlegraph. September 15-18 at her blog!
Edie Ramer's Blog
Regan Black, Paranormal Romance Author - having a onus giveaway at her site: a Smuggler's Stash which includes a Tracking Shadows t-shirt and all the 2096 contraband a reader could want (coffee, coffee mug, sweets, and ebook).
Jean Brashear

Julia Crane
Small Blogs, Big Giveaways- 4th edition: October 22-29! Sign up to HOST or be a featured author the 4th edition of this event, by answering this form!


We'll be selecting a random participant to win a gift card for every 1000 entries till we reach 3000!
The first winner will choose 11 items from the prize list (including 1 gift card)
The 2nd will choose 10 items after the 1st winner has chosen (including 1 gift card)
The 3rd will get 9 items after the 2nd winner has chosen (including 1 gift card)
The remaining books and giftcards will be given to our hosts.


1.Sign up using the RAFFLECOPTER tool.
1.2Read the blog rules to know how to sign up for the prizes other blogs might be providing.
2.This is an INTERNATIONAL giveaway
3.You must be at least 18 years or older, or of legal age in your country.
4.The contest will end on September 23rd at 12:01 AM EST.
5.Winners will be selected using the RAFFLECOPTER tool and posted on the the next day after the event is over.
5.1The winners will be notified by email and announced on all hosting blogs.
5.2 The winners will have 48 hours from the date they are posted to provide a mailing address. If you do not contact me within two days a replacement winner will be selected. NO EXCEPTIONS.
6.Each blogger will be responsable for mailing the prize they provided. No replacements will be made. Your email address will not be saved or used for any other purposes then to contact the winner in the contest for their mailing address.
6.1 The other bloggers are not responsible for other prizes that are not honored, distributed in a timely manner, lost, stolen, or damaged during transit.
7. Prizes are subject to change/cancellation without prior written notice.

BBAW 2011: Readers

One of the things that book blogging has done for me is that it has really opened me up to new genres. Before starting to book blog the chances of me picking up a Young Adult or Romance book were very slim. They were just genres that I had never really explored before. Once I started reading other book blogs and connecting with other bloggers and hearing about all of the different things that they were reading, I decided to go out on a limb and try some of these genres that were new to me. Boy, was I glad that I did. I never realized how much I was missing out on.

How has book blogging changed you?

Historical Fiction Book Tour Stop and Giveaway: Eromenos by Melanie McDonald

Title: Eromenos
Author: Melanie McDonald
Publisher: Seriously Good Books
Publish Date: March 11, 2011
Source: Received a copy as a part of the HF Book Tour

Why You're Reading This Book:

  • You love ancient Rome!
  • You like a good love story.
  • You love stories about people with big personalities. 

What's the Story?:

From "Eros and Thanatos converge in the story of a glorious youth, an untimely death, and an imperial love affair that gives rise to the last pagan god of antiquity. In this coming-of-age novel set in the second century AD, Antinous of Bithynia, a Greek youth from Asia Minor, recounts his seven-year affair with Hadrian, fourteenth emperor of Rome. In a partnership more intimate than Hadrian's sanctioned political marriage to Sabina, Antinous captivates the most powerful ruler on earth both in life and after death.
This version of the affair between the emperor and his beloved ephebe vindicates the youth scorned by early Christian church fathers as a "shameless and scandalous boy" and "sordid and loathsome instrument of his master's lust." EROMENOS envisions the personal history of the young man who achieved apotheosis as a pagan god of antiquity, whose cult of worship lasted for hundreds of years—far longer than the cult of the emperor Hadrian.

In EROMENOS, the young man Antinous, whose beautiful image still may be found in works of art in museums around the world, finds a voice of his own at last."

My Two Cents:

Ancient Rome has quickly become one of my favorite places to read about. Okay, really any book that has to do with anything involving Italy or the area that became Italy intrigues me. The Romans are fascinating to me. You have all sorts of larger than life personalities marching through all of the different stories about Ancient Rome. This story was new to me. I knew of Hadrian (my husband had photographed a lot of his villa while in Italy studying during college) but I did not know about the great love affair between Antinous and Hadrian.

Young Antinous

You have handsome, young Antinous and aging Hadrian who almost seems to yearn for Antinous' youth even though Hadrian is an incredibly powerful emperor. Hadrian brings Antinous to Rome to study in one of the best schools. Hadrian and Antinous' love soon blossoms.


I really liked the character of Antinous, who is our narrator for this book. He is very young but learns very quickly the sort of games he must play in order to retain Hadrian's favor. He is also incredibly vulnerable and isn't sure that he can make Hadrian love him forever. At only a little over 150 pages, this book is short but we easily fall for the characters.

One of the highlights of the book is the descriptions. I was drooling over the descriptions of some of the food in the book. I thought the book also had a good sense of place. I could see the hills of Rome and the Roman Forum and the palaces.

One drawback to the shortness of the book is that I found myself wanting a lot more. The ending is good and gripping but I just wasn't ready to leave the characters quite yet!

Bottom line: This is a great book for any historical fiction lover!


One lucky A Bookish Affair reader will win a copy of this book!

- You must be 13 and over
- Open internationally!
- You must be a follower of A Bookish Affair

Just fill out this super simple form here!

Don't Forget To Follow The Rest of the Tour!:

Monday, July 18th
Author Guest Post at C.W. Gortner's Historical Boys
Thursday, July 21st
Monday, July 25th
Author Guest Post at Christy English's A Writer's Life: Working with the Muse
Review & Giveaway at Unabridged Chick
Friday, July 29th
Monday, August 1st
Author Interview at Unabridged Chick
Thursday, August 4th
Monday, August 8th
Thursday, August 11th
Review at Bonjour, Cass
Monday, August 15th
Thursday, August 18th
Author Guest Post at The Musings of a Book Junkie
Monday, August 22nd
Review & Giveaway at Let Them Read Books
Thursday, August 25th
Review & Giveaway at Broken Teepee
Author Guest Post at Nan Hawthorne's Booking History
Monday, August 29th

Review at The Book Garden
Thursday, September 1st
Author Guest Post at One Book Shy of a Full Shelf
Monday, September 5th
Author Guest Post at The True Book Addict
Review & Giveaway at One Book Shy of a Full Shelf
Thursday, September 8th

Review at The True Book Addict

Monday, September 12th

Review at Bibliotropic
Review at By the By Books
Thursday, September 15th

Review & Giveaway at A Bookish Affair

Friday, September 16th

Interview at Tribute Books Reviews

Monday, September 19th

Wednesday, September 21st
Author Interview at Historical Fiction Obsession

Monday, September 26th
Review at Book Girl of Mur-y-Castell

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Review: Domestic Violets by Matthew Norman

Title: Domestic Violets
Author: Matthew Norman
Publisher: Harper Perennial
Publish Date: August 9, 2011
Source: Netgalley

Why You're Reading This Book:

  • You love witty books.
  • You don't mind laughing out loud in public.
  • You like reading about characters that you'd want to be friends with.
What's the Story?:

From "Tom Violet always thought that by the time he turned thirty-five, he’d have everything going for him. Fame. Fortune. A beautiful wife. A satisfying career as a successful novelist. A happy dog to greet him at the end of the day.
The reality, though, is far different. He’s got a wife, but their problems are bigger than he can even imagine. And he’s written a novel, but the manuscript he’s slaved over for years is currently hidden in his desk drawer while his father, an actual famous writer, just won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. His career, such that it is, involves mind-numbing corporate buzzwords, his pretentious archnemesis Gregory, and a hopeless, completely inappropriate crush on his favorite coworker. Oh . . . and his dog, according to the vet, is suffering from acute anxiety.

Tom’s life is crushing his soul, but he’s decided to do something about it. (Really.) Domestic Violets is the brilliant and beguiling story of a man finally taking control of his own happiness—even if it means making a complete idiot of himself along the way."

My Two Cents:

Guys, let me just gush about this book a little bit. If you are looking for a book to laugh over and to get sucked into, this is the book for you. I was absolutely thrilled when I won the chance to read this book through Netgalley (and okay, I know that you don't really "win" things through Netgalley but this book felt like winning for serious).

I'm always on the look out for books that talk about my town, Washington, DC, that aren't political thrillers. This book fits the bill. Norman does a wonderful job of capturing the essence of the city (yes, there are actually people in DC that don't work on the Hill). A lot of the book is focused in Georgetown with a bit of Dupont Circle thrown in. One of my favorite indie bookstores, Politics and Prose, even gets a shout out! It was refreshing to see my DC written down just as I know it!

Tom Violet is a really awesome character. He's like the type of co-worker that I'd want to have around to while away the day with at work. He struggles with being in his famous writer dad's shadow. His dad has a personality that is larger than life and Tom is sort of doubtful that he'll ever be able to measure up. All of the characters in Domestic Violets are really well-written. They feel like people that you may come across sometime in your life. I love when characters feel that realistic.

This book is amazing. It's funny, it's touching, it's happy, it's realistic. This book has something for everyone. I know we still have a few months in the year so this may be a little premature but I definitely think this is going to rank as one of my favorite books for 2011.

Bottom line: you need to read this book!

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