#100 ~ House and Home & My 100th Review Contest

September 8, 2008 at 12:00 am | Posted in Books, Family, LIfe, My Life with Books, Reading, Secrets and Lies | 50 Comments
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Today I have the great pleasure of hosting Kathleen McCleary on her House and Home book tour sponsored by TLC Book Tours.  I very much appreciate the invitation to participate in this tour as well as the opportunity to read Kathleen’s novel.  Please click on Kathleen’s name below to visit her website.  Click on the TLC Book Tours graphic for more information on this wonderful new book tour program.

House and Home by Kathleen McCleary

By outside appearances, Ellen Flanagan had it all: a loving husband, two beautiful daughters, a house she decorated and maintained with love and dedication, and Coffe@Home, a business that merged her passion for antiques with her interest in coffee and fine tea.  All was not what it seemed.  Sam, her adventurous and creative husband, had a passion for inventing.  When he created a baby beeper he thought would make it big, the couple put a second mortgage on their home.  When the baby beeper didn’t pay off, that second mortgage cost them the home Ellen so dearly loved and her 18 year marriage.  As time got near to vacate the house they sold, Ellen found she couldn’t part with it.  She decided that she’s rather see it burn than to allow another family to call it home.

The opening paragraph to this novel, after explaining Ellen’s attachment to the home, ends by saying that she would burn it down.  I was instantly curious, especially since this seemed pretty hard core for a novel with such a beautiful and inviting cover.  That paragraph brought to mind the song “Sunny Came Home” by Shawn Colvin.  I was eager to find out what it was about Ellen or the house that drove her to even think about arson.  When at first I couldn’t find any logical explanation for her planning something so destructive, it was frustrating.  Ellen wasn’t mentally ill, she and Sam were on amicable terms despite the fact that they were divorcing, her business was thriving, and she had the most thoughtful and supportive best friend in the world.  Why?  Then it occurred to me.  As much as she loved that house, her fixation was a protective cover. She believes that burning down her house will keep others out.  Truthfully, if not subconsciously, what she’s doing is making all that she has lost and all that she is losing tangible and visible, especially to Sam.

This is really a novel about relationships, both the good and the bad.  Sometimes there is a cost to starting them.  Sometimes there is a cost to losing them.  There are times when the cost may be too high; but in the end, you can’t live your life fully without them.  Be they with your best friend, your lover, your family, business associates, or even mere acquaintances, your interactions with other people teach you how to play, work, love, hurt, forgive, learn, laugh, cry, hold on, and to let go.  Ellen spent the first 44 years fighting to control her life. House and Home is the story of how she learns that what makes life worth living requires you to constantly take leaps of faith.

Kathleen McCleary is a clear and concise writer and she brought some wonderful characters to life.  You can feel Ellen’s pain and the anxiety brought about by her need to be in control from the start, even if you don’t completely understand it at first.  You can see how it blinds her to what she has.  House and Home is a reminder that when life feels like one crisis after another, the only way not to get lost in it all is to focus on your friends and loved ones.  It is a celebration of friendships, relationships, and family.  If you’re like me, you’ll find this novel every bit as heartwarming as the cover suggests.

Literate Housewife’s 100th Book Review Contest

I am so excited about today because it marks the day I am posting my 100th book review online.  My blog started on Blogspot and it was called “52 Books or Bust.”  I started it in January, 2007 to give me a way to be accountable to my personal goal of reading 52 books that year and to also provide me with a way to remember what I read.  It was from those meager beginnings that The Literate Housewife Review started.  I had no idea that 21months later I would be celebrating today.

In order to mark this day, I wanted to hold a contest to thank you, my readers.  Without your comments and support I can’t say that I would still be doing this today.  In honor of reaching the 100 book mark, I’m going to give one of my lucky readers a copy of House and Home and ten other books I’ve read to date.  Here is a picture of the book and the links to those reviews:

The Last Wife of Henry VIII by Carolly Erickson ~ #24
Portrait on an Unknown Woman by Vanora Bennett ~ #37
Gilding Lily by Tatiana Boncompagni ~ #66
The Lady Elizabeth By Alison Weir ~ #70
Songs for the Missing by Stewart O’Nan ~ #78
Mrs. Lieutenant by Phyllis Zimbler Miller ~ #81
Regina’s Closet by Diana M. Raab ~ #84
The Gargoyle by Andrew Davidson ~ #88
37 by Maria Beaumont ~ #89
Castaway Kid by R.B. Mitchell ~ #94

When Kathleen McCleary read that this was my 100th review and would be holding a contest in its honor, she wanted to get in on the fun, too.  So, to sweeten this contest even further, the winner will also get the opportunity to talk with the author personally!  What a fun and wonderful opportunity!  And that’s not all! The second and third place winners in this contest will also get their own autographed copies of House and Home!

Have I peaked your interest enough?  Are you wondering what you need do to enter?  Here goes:

1. Leave a comment to this post by 11:59 EST on September 9 and you will receive two entries.  Comments left beginning on September 11 at midnight receive one entry.  If you comment includes a question about House and Home, for Kathleen McCleary, or about any of the other books in the contest, you will receive an additional entry (three entries possible).

2. If you have a blog, write a post about this contest by 11:59 EST on September 9 and leave me a message with the link to earn two entries.  If you do not have a blog, you can send an email telling 3 or more friends about this contest (copy me) by 11:59 EST on September 9 for those two entries.

Selecting the winners: I will be out of town starting Friday, so this is going to be a quick contest.  I will be using the List Randomizer on random.org to enter the names and will it will determine the winner at noon on Thursday, September 11 EST.  [I have wised up since my last contest. No more writing names down on sheets of paper, cutting them out, folding them, and putting them in a box and asking my beloved husband or bewildered co-workers to pick them out.]

Posting the results: I will be posting the names of the winners at 1pm EST.  The name of the person in lucky number 1 spot wins the copy of House and Home, the selection of 10 books I’ve previously reviewed, and a phone conversation with Kathleen McCleary!  The names of the people in lucky spots number 2 and 3 (assuming that there aren’t any repeating names – if there are, the second and third unique names) will also receive an autographed copy of House and Home.

Good luck to everyone who enters and a special thanks to Kathleen McCleary for making this contest that much more special!

To buy this novel, click here.

A Little Dose of Inspiration ~ A Guest Post & A Contest

July 30, 2008 at 5:19 pm | Posted in Books, LIfe, My Life with Books, Reading | 27 Comments
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While I’m not much more inspired today than I was yesterday, at least my post from last night and the picture I found using Google Images inspired Lisa Roe from Online Publicist. At the end of the post you will find details about the contest this post inspired me to hold… 🙂

A Little Dose of Inspiration?

Playing off of Jennifer’s post from Tuesday, I had a thought. We’re all feeling a bit blah-si-blah recently. With the conclusion of summer upon us (yes. It’s almost August now. Eek.), it’s time to reflect on the trips not taken, the plans aborted (I did not make it to German Fest AGAIN this year), and the books not read.

Wow. That’s depressing. I really intended on accomplishing much, much more this summer! Especially when it came to books. I read books for my projects, I read online content, and I read a postcard. Not that I’m complaining! I love what I do. I firmly believe we all do, but, there is a time when the weight of the books brings us down.

So, with that in mind, I feel we need to look at our TBR’s in a different way. Instead of gazing at that pile with a sense of foreboding and obligation, we need to shed a different light on them. Or move them to a different spot, spread the stack around, place them somewhere unusual or unexpected. Then take a picture and post it on your blog! Maybe once we look at the books in an artistic way, without the words, font, editing errors, and storylines getting in the way, we can see them as the beautiful objects they are instead of ‘work’.

I was going to stack mine outside by my reading bench for the photo, but when I came in, I found my darling kitty had his own affections for my titles, so I instead took this one:

Aw! My heart now explodes with joy at the thought of those books!  I can’t wait to see what images you all come up with!

Creative TBR Photo Contest

I was so excited by Lisa’s post that I decided to hold another contest. If Lisa’s post sparked your imagine to take a creative picture of your TBRs, submit your photo to me with a title. I’ll post all of the pictures I get anonymously (using only the title provided) on Monday, August 11. I’ll have all of my readers vote for the title that is most inspiring to them. The picture that captures the most votes as of 5pm EST on August 15 will win a $15 Amazon email gift certificate from me. Have fun! I look forward to seeing what you come up with!

Win a Free Copy of Mrs. Lieutenant!

June 24, 2008 at 8:51 pm | Posted in Books | 9 Comments
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Phyllis Zimbler Miller has graciously offered a copy of her novel to one of my lucky readers in conjunction with the blog tour stop today.  I would have posted about this earlier, but my daughter nearly broke her finger at day care today and I spent much of the day with her at doctor’s offices.  Thankfully, she is okay and sleeping peacefully.

Anyway, to the contest…

To win a free copy of Mrs. Lieutenant, all you have to do is comment on my review or this post (if you already have, you’re good).  If you link to this contest on your blog, you’ll get a second entry.  If I get more than 20 entries, I’ll throw in a second copy.  So encourage all your literate friends to sign up, it won’t hurt to enter and it may just increase your odds.

I’ll hold the drawing on Monday, June 30th at 5pm.

I would be extremely excited if the winner would be interested in talking with me about the book afterward.  As I mentioned in my review, this is one book that I really feel compelled to talk about.  If you win the book and have read it, I would love to call you, and I would post the interview on my blog.  It would be a great way to have a discussion.  No pressure, though.  I’d respect anyone who would prefer not to. 🙂

Good luck to everyone!!!

My Inner Archaeologist

May 27, 2008 at 4:16 pm | Posted in Books, LIfe | 7 Comments
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When I was in the 7th grade I decided that I wanted to be an archaeologist.  I cannot remember for the life of me what it was that triggered my interest in this adventurous and unusual career.  In the 8th grade my middle school offered a week long camp and one of the activities was archeology.  I still have the box full of “treasures” I discovered in a Michigan park.  I would have won an award for my archeological talents except for one flaw: I was too impatient.  I kept moving from square to square when I wasn’t finding anything.  For those of you who know me, this won’t come as a surprise at all.  Patience in the face of upcoming surprises, both known and unknown, is not my strong suit.

I never did pursue a career in archeology.  Just as with patience, math and science are not my strengths.  Also, I have a weak stomach.  After watching my first Indiana Jones movie, I was ready to retire to the calmer pastures of Political Science and English.  Still, I enjoy reading about archeology and what modern archaeologists are up to.  I don’t know if you caught the news that an archaeologist believes he has located Cleopatra’s tomb over the holiday weekend.  The timing of the publication of this article is perfect given that it coincided with the premier of the new Indiana Jones movie.  I haven’t seen the movie yet, but I can’t wait!  I hope that you liked it if you’ve seen it.  Let me know!

The timing of this archaeological find was also perfect for Michelle Moran, the author of Nefertiti.  She is getting ready to publish The Heretic Queen, a sequel to Nefertiti in September.  I haven’t read Nefertiti yet, but it’s on my list and just came out in paperback this week.

Cover of the Heretic Queen

In preparation for The Heretic Queen, Michelle has a really fun contest based upon the hieroglyphics used for the book cover.  Click here.  If you correctly translate the hieroglyphics, you might be one of two lucky people to win a 14 kt gold Nefertiti pendant, some Nefertiti chocolates, and a signed book!  I really had fun with this contest and I think you will, too.

So, get into the spirit of your inner archaeologist and enter this contest.  If you win – and I promise I won’t be (too) bitter if you do and I don’t – please let me know.  I’m dying to find out about those chocolates.

May Book Give Away

May 4, 2008 at 1:53 pm | Posted in Books, Free | Leave a comment
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It’s May and spring is finally here. I’m in the mood to do some spring cleaning and I thought I might provide my readers with the gift of a new book.

This year I’ve received several Advance Reader’s Copies of books and I’ve reviewed them here at Literate Housewife. Five of them are part of this book give away:

Artist’s Proof

The Forgery of Venus

Gardens of Water

The House at Riverton

The Venetian Mask

I’m also giving away my two used trade paperback copies I own…:

Bel Canto

The Cider House Rules

And two hardcover copies…:

Jonathon’s Story

The Lady and the Unicorn

What do you need to do to get one of the free books?  If you live in the US or Canada, simply leave a comment to my review of the book(s) you are interested in and let me know why you would like to read it.   For each book, I’ll draw a winner at random from all of the comments posted on Tuesday, May 20th.   I’ll let the winner know by email.  If I get the addresses, I’ll have all of the books in the mail that Thursday or Friday.

This is a win/win situation.  My bookshelves will be just that much tidier and you might find yourself with a free book.

Good luck!!!

#66 ~ Gilding Lily

April 23, 2008 at 11:07 pm | Posted in Books, Culture, entertainment, Family, My Life with Books, Reading | 1 Comment
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Gilding Lily by Tatiana Boncompagni

Sometimes getting what you dream about can become a nightmare. At least that is Lily’s experience in this engaging, fun, and fast-paced novel. Gilding Lily tells the story of a young woman from a middle class background who marries into an established, wealthy family in New York City. Her romance with Robert Bartholomew, which brought her swiftly into society as one of New York’s “It girls,” rivals any Disney Princess story. Only for Lily, her wedding day didn’t signal a victory over a vicious step-mother or blood thirsty dragon. It was only then that her nemesis came out into the full light of day – Josephine Bartholomew, her mother-in-law.

Lily’s time in limelight in New York’s social scene ended as quickly as it began. She became pregnant before the ink was dry on her marriage license. Along with baby came Robert’s career crisis. By the time Will is a few months old, Lily hadn’t lost a pound of her baby weight, is having trouble making ends meet on the income from her husband’s trust, and is lonely and miserable. Robert, without the prospect of a job in sight, spends his days networking with his mother or playing squash at the club. At night he’s often out escorting Josephine to social events. Finally, after a particularly heated argument about the two Ms (money and mother-in-law), Lily decides to go back to work. Her talented writing, her connections, and her knack for getting stories other reporters could only dream of provide Lily with an opportunity to return to New York’s socialite scene. Soon she has to decide if getting the story, becoming a socialite in her own right, and, perhaps, earning her mother-in-law’s respect is worth the risk of losing the man she loves.

From the first chapter where we meet Lily tripping on the hem of couture dress on her way to gala, I was drawn in to the book. I got so involved in the characters that by the end I could hardly put the book down. In fact, if it were not for this book I might never have discovered that I have an unusual talent for reading a paperback while curling my hair and drinking the morning’s first Diet Coke. This novel revolves around New York’s elite, but the highly competitive animosity that often exists between women is universal. When push comes to shove, women are often our own worst enemies. So, where there is a group of women you will usually find a catty woman like Di or a Morgan who is trying to undermine everyone else to insure her position. When your disapproving mother-in-law is the queen bee of that social set, eventually all hell will break lose. As much fun as it is to watch the fur fly, you’ll be hoping along with Lily that having a happy family with Robert really isn’t too good to be true.

Boncompagni’s writing, which is smooth and easy to read, is what really made this book for me. So often when reading chick lit I get the impression that the author thinks nothing about the readers beyond the dollar signs. When reading Gilding Lily, you can sense the pride that Boncompagni has in her work. If this first novel is any indication of what is to come, hers will be a career to follow.


Gilding Lily will be published in September of 2008. As the publication date draws near, look for a contest here to win your own copy!

To buy this book, click here.

Last Chance

March 29, 2008 at 7:33 am | Posted in Free | 1 Comment
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Today’s the day I’m going to draw a name for a free copy of Robin Gerber‘s novel, Eleanor vs. Ike!


If you haven’t already contacted me and would be interested in receiving a copy of this book, please leave a comment here. I’ll be holding the drawing at 5pm EST, so time is running out. You’ve got nothing to lose and possibly a free read to win. What could be better than that?

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