Call Me 37 Today

October 8, 2008 at 10:43 am | Posted in LIfe, Reading | 36 Comments
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Well, the day has finally arrived and I can no longer say that I am 36.  Well, I was born at around 9:50pm, so I could wait to say I’m 37 until tonight, but that’s being a little ridiculous (although if you agree with the whole date and time thing,  you’ll make me exceedingly happy right up until 9:49pm).

Seriously, 36 was a wonderful year.  I feel that I’ve come into my own in my career and as a book blogger.  I have read 70 books since my last birthday and have reviewed 64. It would be hard for me to pick out a favorite from during that time, but the books that have stood out in my 37th year are The Monsters of Templeton by Lauren Groff, Gardens of Water by Alan Drew, The Last Queen by C.W. Gortner, The Autobiography of Henry VIII by Margaret George, The Witch’s Trinity by Erika Mailman, Trauma by Patrick McGrath, Songs for the Missing by Stewart O’Nan, Aberrations by Penelope Przekop, The Gargoyle by Andrew Davidson, and Sweetsmoke by David Fuller.

The best blogging experience I had personally revolved around Love is a Mix Tape by Rob Sheffield.  I bought this book for my husband, but read it first.  Little did either of us know that this would have a personal connection for my husband.  He was friends with Rob’s wife Renee.  We had a great time going through his pictures from that era and we posted one of Renee.  It always irritates me when there is no pictures in memoirs because I want to know what the people look like.  In this case, Danny was able to supply that for me.  It was also really neat to listen to the tape of his band singing The Beverly Hillbillies theme song to the tune of R.E.M.’s Talk about the Passion.  That whole experience was wonderful.

Best of all, I’ve met some of the most wonderful people last year.  From authors, to publicists, to my fellow book bloggers, to my readers.  I won’t name any because I don’t want to leave anyone out.  My life is richer because of you all.

I hope that everyone has a beautiful, beautiful day!

Behind… My September Wrap-Up

October 1, 2008 at 11:30 am | Posted in Books, Historical Fiction, LIfe, My Life with Books, Philippa Gregory, Reading | 12 Comments
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My grandfather worked in tool and die.  When he retired, he had his machines in his shed.  One of the things he loved to make the most were cribbage and euchre boards.  He gave this lovely euchre board to me quite some time ago.  Although I’m not sure how to take that on a personal level ;), it really does represent the state of my blog as the month of September has drawn to a close and October is finally underway.  Grandpa will be 91 on the 15th, so happy early birthday from your favorite granddaughter in Virginia!

September really was quite a month.  I participated in two wonderful book tours, I read 11 books (!!!!), the Literate Housewives Book Club officially started (thanks to everyone who has signed up on the forum!), we all celebrated Book Blogger Appreciation Week, and I took a road trip to see one of my favorite authors, Philippa Gregory.  While this will be a month to remember, it has left me behind on my reviews and my comments.  Hopefully October will be a good catch up month.  With my birthday, the girls’ birthdays (Ally – 22nd, Emma – 23rd), our 11th anniversary, a visit from my parents and Uncle Ryan, and a business trip to Boston, it’s sure to be eventful if nothing else.

I read 11 books this month, but I only wrote 7 reviews (including The Seamstress that I owed from August).  That leaves me 5 reviews in the hole.  I’m hoping to have those all written and published by Monday.  Here’s how my reading broke down by category:

General Fiction

House and Home by Kathleen McCleary
Will I Ever Know by Charles Henry
First Daughter by Eric Van Lustbader
The Torn Skirt by Rebecca Godfrey – review forthcoming

Historical Fiction

The Last Queen by C.W. Gortner
Immortal by Traci Slatton – review forthcoming

Young Adult Fiction

Sisters of Misery by Megan Kelly Hall – review forthcoming

Short Fiction

Months and Seasons by Christopher Meeks

Non-Fiction

One Can Make a Difference edited by Ingrid E. Newkirk
Good Person Guidebook by Richard Bayer, PhD – review forthcoming
Shrink Rap by Robin A. Altman – review forthcoming

Best Read of the Month:

Honorable Mentions:

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I hope that you all had a happy and prosperous September and will be enjoying the changing of this colors in October.

The Sunday Salon 9.7.08 & 100th Review Contest

September 7, 2008 at 2:15 pm | Posted in Books, LIfe, Reading | 12 Comments
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The Sunday Salon.comThis has been a productive week in Literate Housewife Review land. I read three and a half books, hosted a book tour, got nominated for a BBAW award, and published two reviews, which brought me just one review away from my 100th review!  I remember back in January of 2007 that I never in my wildest dreams saw this day coming.  I was hoping to make it to 52.  I had no idea what this would become.  Now, I’m looking forward to my next 100 reviews.  The sky’s the limit when you keep and open mind and follow your heart.

I hosted C.W. Gortner on his blog tour on Tuesday and published my review of his delightful novel, The Last Queen.  Please feel free to keep leaving comments and questions for him.  He’ll be coming back periodically to check out what’s going on.  He seems very nice and you can also find him on the new and improved site of the Historical Fiction board.  If you enjoy historical fiction and haven’t checked out this board, you really should.  You’ll find some familiar book blogging faces and other interesting people.

Adam at Letters on Pages wrote a wonderful review of The Blue Death.  He graciously agreed to read and review it for me.  Thank you, Adam!

On Friday, I found out that I was nominated for a Book Blogger Appreciation Week award and I’m so thrilled.  I was nominated in the Best Book Club Blog category and I’m thrilled.  Please take the time to vote for me (if you choose) and all of the other wonderful nominees at My Friend Amy.

Last night I finally published my review of The Seamstress by Frances De Pontes Peebles.  I can’t tell you how excited I was when I typed in the “#99” in the header for that post.  This leads me to my 100th Review Contest…

Tonight at midnight I will be publish my 100th review.  I am tomorrow’s host for Kathleen McCleary’s blog tour for House and Home, which is being sponsored by TLC Book Tours.  I don’t want to give away too many details here.  You’ll have to come back after midnight to find out all the details, but I’ll leave you with this clue:

I missed The Sunday Salon last week, so I want to take this opportunity to thank four of my book blogging friends:

I was one of the lucky winners in Chartroose’s 101 post contest at Bloody Hell, It’s a Book Barrage and last week my treasured Jane Austen action figure arrived in the mail.  She now uses her super writing powers to guard and protect my collection of her books.

Shana at Literarily nominated me for the SuperCommenter award and I’m so delighted!  I will be making my own nominations next week.  Thanks, Shana!

Don at Don’s Stuff also awarded me for my comments on his blog.  I have say that I am tickled by this graphic and may have to use it in another post if I’m so lucky as to win any other awards.  Thanks, Don!

Finally, my friend Marcia at The Printed Page sent me a copy of The 19th Wife by David Ebershoff.  I have been wanting to read this novel since I first read Devourer of Books’s reviewMarcia’s review made me even more excited to read it.  I’ll be participating in the author’s book tour in November, so I only have a little while longer to wait.  Thanks so much, Marcia!

So, that’s my week.  It was nice feel good about what I’ve accomplished again.  I seem to have mostly recovered from the start of the school year.  How’s your week been?  I’m wishing everyone a great week ahead!  I’m hoping to keep up the reading and post four reviews.  Let’s see if I can meet my own personal challenge on that.

#98 ~ The Last Queen

September 4, 2008 at 12:00 am | Posted in Books | 17 Comments
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The Last Queen: A Novel by C.W. Gortner

I am pleased to publish this review as one of the stops on C.W. Gortner’s Virtual Book Tour!

The Last Queen tells the story of middle child of Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand, Juana. She watched her parents take back the country of Spain from the Moors and return it to a united country. She also was witness to the Spanish Inquisition meant to unify the country under the Roman Catholic Church. She was never meant to rule, but as a series of deaths befell the children and grandson of Isabella and Ferdinand, Juana was left to take over as Queen of Castille upon the death of her mother. The one thing that Juana had in common with her mother, being married to a man whose wealth and title were dwarfed by her own, proved to be a battle of a lifetime for Juana.

I enjoyed the picture Gortner painted of the young Juana, loving to explore the world and willing to push the limits of propriety to do so. Despite her independence and drive, her somewhat sheltered existence made it possible for her to fall under the charms of her husband, Phillip the Handsome. He is painted as a good hearted man who gave in to his advisers who fed his lust for power. As Juana stood in his way, her heart got trampled over and over again. When her mother dies, Juana fights for what’s best for her homeland, desperately hoping that there are those who will fight with her.

It was no surprise when I read C.W. Gortner’s bio and learned that he is of Spanish decent. It could be sensed in his writing and the way that he wrote about Spain and his characters. When Juana wrote of her love of her country, she was speaking through the author. He treated the faults and mistakes of the leaders who shaped the future of Spain with respect and sympathy. They may have been sovereign leaders, but they were human. It is a blessing to have your history told to the ages by someone as who speaks with honesty driven by love.

There is only one aspect of this novel that tripped me up at times – the use of Spanish when the story was written in English. The terms of endearment did not bother me, but to read a sentence in Spanish and then have it translated into English again by the narrator brought me out of the story. I was able to catch the meaning of those Spanish sentences with me weak Spanish and the context of the paragraph. Even without any exposure to Spanish, I don’t believe the translation back into English was necessary.

On its own, this novel was intriguing, but after having read so much about Juana’s youngest sister, Catherine of Aragon, and Tudor England, I found this story absolutely fascinating. It was unfortunate how the lives of Isabella and Ferdinand’s children played out. With the possible exception of Marie, they all met tragic and heartbreaking fates: their eldest children died young, Juana lived out much of her adulthood in isolation to keep her from the thrown, and Catherine wasted her youth patiently awaiting her destiny to be the Queen of England only to spend her last years valiantly and perhaps stubbornly claiming to have never lost that crown. Whether it was simply bad luck or bad karma from the Inquisition, this family had a cosmic thumb pressed down upon them. Juana dealt with the storms of her life with grace, dignity and strength. Her life might have been tragic, but when told by someone as passionate about his subject and as skilled an author as Gortner, reading about her life was one of my most pleasing reading experiences this year.

If that’s not enough to entice you to read this novel, here’s more from the author:

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To buy this novel, click here.

The Sunday Salon

August 24, 2008 at 10:14 am | Posted in Books, LIfe, My Life with Books, Reading | 6 Comments
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The Sunday Salon.com

This week was by far less eventful than last week. For that I am very grateful. I was able to read two books: The Last Queen by C.W. Gortner and House and Home by Kathleen McCleary. I also posted my review of Pattern Recognition by William Gibson.

I became absolutely entranced by Juana La Loca while reading Gortner’s novel. Her story is tragic as she was betrayed by every man in her life, but she was such a strong woman. I hated that Jennifer was translated into Juanita in my high school Spanish classes. It wasn’t as sexy as Carmen or Pilar. It sounded plain to me. Now I would happily take on the name Juana for the strength and courage it signifies. Besides, what’s wrong with people thinking you might be crazy? They should be careful.

I read McCleary’s novel for one of the first TLC Book Tours, so you’re just going to have to come back on September 8th, when the tour reaches The Literate Housewife Review. This will be the second time I’ve participated in a virtual book tour. My first go round was for Mrs. Lieutenant by Phyllis Zimbler Miller. It was a good experience for me and I’m hoping that when Bethany from B&b ex libris is less bogged down we can get together with the author and hold a discussion.

This week I launched my first reading challenge: Expand Your Horizons. The object of this challenge is to exchange books with a friend who has different taste in books than you do. The first reviews for this challenge were Special Topics in Calamity Physics, written by my friend Mark and my review of Pattern Recognition. I’m hoping that Mark and I will do this again soon. It was a good experience for the both of us.

Marcia from The Printed Page will be sending me her copy of The 19th Wife by David Ebershoff. I’ve been coveting this book ever since it was offered as an Early Review book through LibraryThing. Jen’s review at Devourer of Books only intensified it. I am so excited to be receiving it. Thanks, Marcia! I’m starting the next book I’ll be sending you today…

Which leads me to what I’m going to be reading this week. The first book up is The Seamstress by Frances De Pontes Pebbles. It is set in Brazil, a country I’ve never visited before and I’m really looking forward to it. It’s a 600+ page book, but I’m thinking that it will read quickly. After that, I’m going to read Femme Fatale by Pat Shipman, which is a biography of Mata Hari. I’m really looking forward to this. I just discovered that she was a Dutch courtesan. One of my people… 😉

I’ve gotten a little behind in my blog reading, so I’m hoping to catch up on that tonight. I hope that everyone has had a wonderful week. Emma starts kindergarten tomorrow and after a great experience at her open house, she’s looking forward to it. That will help me keep my tears to a minimum. 😉

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