The Sunday Salon ~ October Wrap Up, NaNoWriMo and Mining ARCs

November 9, 2008 at 2:50 pm | Posted in Books, LIfe, Reading | 14 Comments
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Since I didn’t get a chance to reflect on October, I thought I would start there before discussing my first full week of November.

October Wrap Up

October was an exciting month for me. Not only did I try some new things on my blog, I also celebrated my 37th birthday, my daugthers’ 6th (Emma) and 4th (Allison) birthday, and my 11th anniversary with Danny.  My parents and my Uncle Ryan came down for a visit, something that is always nice.  The most momentous thing for me, though, was standing up in front of nearly 250 people and speaking at a professional conference.  I left that stage feeling energized and alive.  I can’t really express how much of an adrenaline boost that gave me for more than a week.  It was a defining moment in my life.  You never know what you can do, do well, and enjoy unless you try.

October Spotlight

For the first time, I spent the entire month focusing on one book – The Witch’s Trinity by Erika Mailman.  I hope that everyone enjoyed it.  Erika wrote a wonderful guest post and graciously offered three giveaway copies of her novel.  I am looking forward to hearing back from our three winners: Dar, XXX and .  As an FYI, I still owe the transcript of the interview with Erika and hope to post that this week.

October Reading Recap

I also had a pretty decent reading month in October.  I read nine books and, as of last night, they are all reviewed.  I am not counting Bible Illuminated because I did not read the entire New Testament.

Here’s the list:

Non-Fiction:

Constitution Translated for Kids by Cathy Travis
Bible Illuminated: The Book (New Testament)
Just Say Nu by Micheal Wex

General Fiction

The Tenth Case by Joseph Teller
Bad Monkeys by Matt Ruff
Janeology by Karen Harrington
Finding Nouf by Zoë Ferraris

Historical Fiction

The Other Queen by Philippa Gregory
The Lost Diary of Don Juan by Don Carlton Abrams
Capote in Kansas by Kim Powers

Anti-Pick of the Month

I could not pick just one book as my favorite, so I’m going to do something a little different.  If you had all of the books I read and could only pick one not to read, I guess I would pick:

cover-of-the-tenth-case

NaNoWriMo

I started the NaNoWriMo at the beginning of the month and over the first two days, I wrote almost 5,000 words.  Unfortunately, this is not something that I can continue.  Giving the responsibilities I have at home and my very real need to get out from underneath the pile of ARCs I’ve accumulated.  I’ve decided to focus on the prior commitments I made to authors and publishers.  That being said, I really enjoyed the writing I did accomplish and I know that this is something I can do when the time is right.

Although I’m no longer participating, that doesn’t mean that I can’t cheer the rest of the troops on.  If you’re like Bethany, Karen, Jena and are working hard to meet your 50,000 words this month, I am your biggest cheerleader.  If you need encouragement or anything, you know where to find me. Go Team NaNoWriMo!

Mining ARCs

So, after deciding to quit NaNoWriMo, I organized all of my ARCs and prioritized them based upon external deadlines like book tours and personal interest.  I’ve put myself on a book every three day schedule and, after this middle of this week, a Monday, Wednesday, Friday review schedule.  If I follow through on the schedule I’ve worked out, I will be free to begin picking books based upon my whims, not my obligations beginning the first of February.  I have just a little over two months to go until I reach the other side – with ample time built in for the holidays so I don’t get stressed out mid-stream.  To me, this will be a wonderful thing.  As much as I love the opportunity to read new books, the weight of that obligation is getting too heavy for me.  It’s making my reading and my blogging feel like a part-time job I can’t get rid of instead of the joy it has been for the most part.  I hope to be able to accept a book or two each month, but from here on out, I want to be in complete control of my reading.

I’ve got my eyes on the prize and believe me, once my last scheduled review is posted on January 30, 2009, there will be a huge celebration going on in The Literate Housewife’s household.

How was your week?

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October Spotlight ~ Week 4 ~ A Guest Post by Erika Mailman

October 23, 2008 at 9:46 am | Posted in Books | 6 Comments
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It doesn’t truly seem possible, but October is almost coming to a close. Just a little over a week and we’re saying hello to November.  The good news is that in the October Spotlight, I’ve saved the best for last.

This week, I am pleased to present the following guest post written by Erika Mailman, the author of The Witch’s Trinity.  At the end of this week, I’ll be posting the entries in the “What’s Witchcraft Have To Do With It” contest to win a copy of the new paperback edition.  What?  You didn’t know about this contest or you haven’t entered yet?  There’s still time to enter!  Click here for the details.  Voting will begin tomorrow.

Next week, I’ll be publishing the exclusive interview I had with Erika over the weekend.  I had a wonderful time speaking with her and I hope that you’ll enjoy the interview just as much.  That is also the week at the entries for the “Not On My Watch” contest will be posted for voting.  I’m really looking forward to that contest as well.  Once again, click here for more details.  There’s still plenty of time to enter this contest.  Be creative and show us what you’ve got!

Without further interruption, here is Erika’s guest post.  Enjoy!

Why Germany?

When I talk with people, they often ask me why I set my novel The Witch’s Trinity in Germany. After all, my ancestor Mary Bliss Parsons was accused of witchcraft in Massachusetts; that would be a more logical place to set it. I remember one literary agent who was interested enough in the book to talk to me on the phone said, “You’ll never publish it set in Germany. Germany doesn’t sell. Set it in England.” I declined to switch the setting, and she declined to represent me. Thankfully, my current agent saw no such problem.

Germany just made sense to me. I’m of German descent (my name Mailman is a bastardization of Mehlman). I loved the Brothers Grimm fairy tales set in the forests of Germany. I felt that the Old World feel of a village deep in snow, with people speaking in clipped, guttural accents, would best convey the claustrophobic atmosphere I was looking for.

And lo and behold, Germany provided the staging ground for the most vicious and prolific witch hunts.

Author Lyndal Roper writes,

“The themes of the witch trials recur with monotonous regularity across Western Europe, featuring sex with the Devil, harm to women in childbed, and threats to fertility, all issues which touch centrally on women’s experience. It was in Germany that these fears found their most terrifying expression and resulted in the largest number of deaths.”

Ropal blames Germany’s scattered power systems (religious and secular) for allowing these panics to rampage uncurbed, as well as the friction created by the Reformation and Counter-Reformation pitted against each other. She also posits that Germany’s culture and landscape played a direct role in permitting the witch craze to reach such a height. She talks of the morbid artwork, the Gothic cathedrals that illustrated how wicked and sin-filled mortal men were. This created a fear of hellfire that made it seem possible that witches were walking in their midst, bringing a little flame of that very fire with them.

German villages suffered the most losses through witchcraft executions. One terrible statistic: two different towns so diligently pursued their witches that in both, only one woman remained alive. You can bet those women kept their mouths firmly shut.

To further strengthen the choice to set my novel in Germany, it was German friars who penned the infamous witch hunting bible the Malleus Maleficarum. This is the book that permitted magistrates in far-flung places to properly stage a witchcraft trial. Gutenberg’s newish invention, the printing press, made its dissemination in large numbers possible. The book, in fact, was a bestseller of its day, going into multiple editions over hundreds of years. And you can still find it at many bookstores today, as a historical artifact reprinted in the 1970s.

One has to wonder, if the Malleus Maleficarum hadn’t existed, would so many people have died? Without its legalistic guidance, would magistrates have bumbled through questioning a witch and concluded that there was no substance to the accusation? Since the Malleus mentions all the things witches are capable of, many surmise that the inquisitions consisted of magistrates asking leading questions—which, along with torture which the Malleus recommended, would make anyone confess—about deeds that wouldn’t have even been thought of if not suggested.

With all these arrows pointing to Germany, I couldn’t help but create Güde’s world there. The village is fictional, but based on many hours of research and consideration. I’d be curious to hear from anyone who struggled with where to set their novel, or faced opposition about where they did.

* * * * *

Erika Mailman is the author of the novel The Witch’s Trinity. Lyndal Roper is the author of the nonfiction book Witch Craze.

Mailbox Monday ~ 10.13.08

October 13, 2008 at 12:59 pm | Posted in Books, LIfe | 12 Comments
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Happy Monday and Happy Columbus Day (for my US readers). I had a busy week in my mailbox, which is very nice when I’m actually opening the mail.  However, when I get to looking at my bookshelf, it gets quite intimidating.  So, here is what I found in my mailbox last week:

Broad Street by Christine Weiser ~ sent by Philadelphia Stories

I have read some interesting information about this novel, so I decided to give it a chance.  It’s about an all girls band, so I’m hoping that it will be a lot of fun.

Off the Menu by Christine Son ~ sent by the publisher

I received this book because I’ll be participating in the author’s TLC Book Tour in November.  I love the title, especially for Thanksgiving.

The Witch’s Trinity by Erika Mailman ~ signed and sent by the author

Thank you so much, Erika!  I am so thrilled to have a copy of this novel, as I originally rented it from the library.  In case you didn’t know, there are three ways you can win a copy of this wonderful novel.  Click here for the details.

A is for Atticus: Baby Names from Great Books by Lorilee Craker ~ unknown origin

I’m not sure how I received this book.  I searched my email for a clue, but came up with nothing.  It’s a fun baby name book, though.  My baby naming days are over, but it’s fun to look up names of people you know.  I can already say this would make a great gift for a mommy or daddy-to-be who loves to read.

Bedlam South by Mark Grisham and David Douglas ~ sent by the publicist

Marcia wrote an excellent review of this novel and I can’t wait to get started.

The Good Thief by Hannah Tinti ~ Sent by Lisa at Minds Alive on the Shelf

I won this book in her super awesome contest, even though I requested it using the wrong title. 🙂  Thanks for the great contest, Lisa!

My Lady of Cleves by Margaret Campbell Barnes ~ a gift from my co-worker

One of the contractors who works with us asked me to give him some book titles because he wanted to buy me a book for my birthday.  Of the list, he selected this novel, which received rave reviews from Marg at Reading Adventures.  I was so excited to open it.  I can’t wait to read it.  Anne of Cleves is such an interesting character to me.

October Spotlight ~ Week 2 ~ The Contests

October 9, 2008 at 12:39 pm | Posted in Books, Culture, Historical Fiction, Reading | 38 Comments
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This is the second week for The Literate Housewife October Spotlight featuring The Witch’s Trinity by Erika Mailman.  In case you missed the original post, click here.

Today we are talking about the contests.  Yes, contests.  Erika has graciously offered to provide three copies of the new and awesome (if I do say so myself) paperback version of her novel.  So, I’ve decided to get a little creative.  There will be three contests, so there will be three chances to win a copy for yourself.

In addition to entering one, two, or all of the contests, you can increase your chances by referring others to this contest via your blog or in email.  If you post a link to this page on your blog (It can be in another post.  It doesn’t have to be the subject of a post.), I’ll enter you two additional times into each of the contests you’ve entered.  The same goes if you send an email to 3 or more of your friends.  Just copy me and I’ll add to your entries.

Okay, here are the contests:

Just Enter Me Already

The Just Enter Me Already contest is for those who just want a shot at a free copy of The Witch’s Trinity without having to do anything more than leave a comment to this post between now and October 17, 2008.  Simple enough?  Leave a comment saying “Just enter me already.” and you’re good to go.  The winner will be announced on Saturday, October 18.

What’s Witchcraft Got To Do With It

The What’s Witchcraft Got To Do With It contest is for those who like to right and have something to say about human history and how it has been shaped by witch trials.  In 250 words or less, answer one of the following questions:

A. Why do you think it’s important to discuss and remember the witch trials that have taken place around the world?

B. Did you get nightmares from reading The Crucible?  Do you, like the author, have relatives who were involved in trials themselves?  Tell us how witchcraft or witch trials has impacted your life.

C. What is the most interesting or important thing you’ve learned about witchcraft of the use of witch trials throughout history?

Send your entry to me via email to literatehousewife (at) gmail (dot) com on or before Thursday, October 17.  I will post the entries on my blog on Friday, October 18 along with a poll.  In this situation if you posted about these contests or sent out an email, I will add two votes to your total.  The winner will be the person whose essay has the most votes at the time the poll closes.  The winner will be announced on Friday, October 24.

Not On My Watch

The Not On My Watch contest is for those who like to get a little creative.  Send in a picture to literatehousewife (at) gmail (dot) com that illustrates what you would do to stop/prevent/protest witch trials if you lived in a time and place where they were taking place.  Those pictures need to be submitted on or before Thursday, October 30.  I will post them on Friday, October 31 along with a poll.  Again, if you posted about these contests or sent out an email, I will add two votes to your total.  The winner will be the person whose essay has the most votes at the time the poll closes.  The winner will be announced on Monday, November 3.

I Don’t Want To Wait

If you don’t want to wait on any of these contests to get your own copy of The Witch’s Trinity to read, click here to buy the hard cover version from Amazon, or here for the new paperback edition from Barnes and Noble.

Literate Housewife Spotlight ~ October

October 1, 2008 at 10:15 pm | Posted in Books, Culture, Family, Historical Fiction, LIfe, Reading, Religion | 11 Comments
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Several months ago, when I was compiling the list of books I’ve reviewed for this blog, I found some that I had forgotten all about.  That doesn’t necessarily meant that I didn’t enjoy them.  They just didn’t stick with me.  There were others that easily remembered and know that they were read and raved about by other authors.  There were still others, however, that I truly loved that I have not found much other discussion about at all.  I couldn’t quite figure out why more people hadn’t reviewed them.  The more I thought about this, the more the idea of featuring these novels in a different way started to shape and take form.  That idea is becoming a reality this month in my first installment of the Literate Housewife Spotlight.  Every other month I will be featuring a book that has stayed with me after I closed it for the last time.  It is a book that I believe in and want to share with you.  As part of the Literate Housewife Spotlight,  each Thursday I will post something new about the book, its topics, or its author.  I hope that you get as much out of this as I do.  Mostly, I hope to encourage you to find a copy of the book and check it out for yourself.

The first novel featured in The Literate Housewife Spotlight is The Witch’s Trinity by Erika Mailman.  I read this novel last winter and was drawn into the world of Güde Müller, an elderly woman living in early 16th century Germany.  It was a time of superstition, just ripe for the witch trials sweeping through Europe.

Witchcraft, witch trials, and the political and social vulnerability of women are timely themes.  I’ve recently read Sisters of Misery by Megan Kelly Hall and have read several wonderful reviews of The Heretic’s Daughter by Kathleen Kent.  Both of these novels take place in or near Salem, Massachusetts.  The Sisters of Misery takes place in modern day while The Heretic’s Daughter takes place during the height of the witch trials in the United States.  During Salman Rushdie’s discussion about his newest novel, The Enchantress of Florence, he touched on these topics as well.  He made one especially interesting observation.  The now stereotypical signs of witchcraft in that day and age, the pointy hat, the broom, and even the cat were common to almost any woman.  If the woman was ugly, that could be the sign of a witch.  If the woman was beautiful, she was a temptress for the devil.  In every situation, all that was ever needed was an accusation.  That is it.  In essence, all a woman needed to be was eccentric, envied, hated, or seen as an easy scapegoat to be a witch.  Imagine what it must have felt like to know that a witch hunter was coming to town.  What would you do to survive?

The following is a reprint of my review from February of this year:

The Witch’s Trinity tells the story of Güde Müller, an elderly grandmother who lives with her only son Jost and his family. They live in Tierkinddorf, Germany and have been experiencing two years of extreme famine. The strain of living without adequate food is taking its toll on the family and the town as a whole. Güde can tell how much Irmeltrud, Jost’s wife, resents her being alive and taking food that would ordinarily go to her children. After a Catholic priest is called in to investigate whether witches are to blame for the town’s hard luck, one of Güde’s childhood friend is burned at the stake. Still, the town is desperate. The able-bodied men leave the village in search of food. While they are gone, the village starts to turn on one another and it seems that no one is safe from being accused of witchcraft.

This book had a powerful affect on me. It made it difficult for me to sleep well for almost a week. It’s unbelievable the things that humans will do to one another and it’s frightening how open women and the elderly are to abuses of many kinds. It’s especially shameful how women turn on each other instead of supporting each other. The terror experienced by Güde and other helpless citizens of Tierkinddorf was so believable that there were entire sections of this book that had my heart racing. I left this book feeling thankful to be alive in 2008 instead of 1608. Witch trials make workplace cattiness seem like child’s play.

As with many books, The Witch’s Trinity was tidied up too quickly and neatly. I would still suggest that anyone interested in witch trials or the plight of women or the elderly read it. You will continue to think about this book and its themes long after you’ve finished it. That certainly sets this novel by Erika Mailman apart from the rest.

The Witch’s Trinity is being published in paperback on October 7th.  Over the course of this month, Erika Mailman is graciously offering copies of this novel to three lucky readers.  Come back each week for details on how you can win your own copy of this novel.  Not willing to leave it to luck?  Click here to order a hard cover copy of this novel for yourself.

#58 ~ The Witch’s Trinity

February 15, 2008 at 12:22 pm | Posted in Books, Brain Food for Thought, Culture, Family, Historical Fiction, LIfe, Religion | 1 Comment
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trinity.jpg

The Witch’s Trinity: A Novel by Erika Mailman

I’ve been reading a lot of historical fiction recently and most of it has centered on London. The greatest portion of that has taken place during the reigns of the Tudor monarchs. I wanted to change things up. So, when I read the list of Divia’s holiday bounty, I instantly took notice of The Witch’s Trinity. Not only does it take place in Germany, it had a paranormal twist. This made it very much different from my usual fare. It was a quick read that did not disappoint.

The Witch’s Trinity tells the story of Güde Müller, an elderly grandmother who lives with her only son Jost and his family. They live in Tierkinddorf, Germany and have been experiencing two years of extreme famine. The strain of living without adequate food is taking its toll on the family and the town as a whole. Güde can tell how much Irmeltrud, Jost’s wife, resents her being alive and taking food that would ordinarily go to her children. After a Catholic priest is called in to investigate whether witches are to blame for the town’s hard luck, one of Güde’s childhood friend is burned at the stake. Still, the town is desperate. The able-bodied men leave the village in search of food. While they are gone, the village starts to turn on one another and it seems that no one is safe from being accused of witchcraft.

This book had a powerful affect on me. It made it difficult for me to sleep well for almost a week. It’s unbelievable the things that humans will do to one another and it’s frightening how open women and the elderly are abuses of many kinds. It’s especially shameful how women turn on each other instead of supporting each other. The terror experienced by Güde and other helpless citizens of Tierkinddorf was so believable that there were entire sections of this book that had my heart racing. I left this book feeling thankful to be alive in 2008 instead of 1608. Witch trials make workplace cattiness seem like child’s play.

As with many books, The Witch’s Trinity was tidied up too quickly and neatly. I would still suggest that anyone interested in witch trials or the plight of women or the elderly read it. You will continue to think about this book and its themes long after you’ve finished it. That certainly sets this novel by Erika Mailman apart from the rest.

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To buy this novel, click here.

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