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 09.21.08

September 21, 2008 at 1:35 pm | Posted in Books, LIfe | 12 Comments
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The Sunday Salon.comIt is such a gorgeous day today!  This is the first morning I woke up feeling chilly.  A few months from now I’ll no doubt be complaining about this, but it felt really, really good.  I’ll be wearing long pants and a long sleeve t-shirt today for sure.  And, since I’ve finally gotten my seasonal blahs to a manageable place, I can enjoy the cooler weather and the changing of the colors. 🙂

What a week!  Book Blogger Appreciation Week was an inspiration to me.  Jen at Devourer of Books made my week early on and it just stayed that way.  I enjoyed visiting new blogs and presenting four of the awards and two contests.   It culminated in a wonderful book blogger wide shout out to Amy at My Friend Amy that was really impressive.  It’s amazing what a group of people who don’t know each other can do in such a short period of time. I want to personally thank Trish at Hey Lady, Whatcha Readin’ for the gorgeous button she created for Amy.  It is absolutely lovely!

The Literate Housewives’ Book Club is also back up and running.  After 9 months, we’re giving it another try.  In addition to the blog, I’ve created a forum and will be creating a newsletter.  Our first book is Immortal by Traci Slatton.  A couple of the members have finished the book, but I’m about 10 chapters in myself.  We’re not actually describing the book until we’ve finished, which will probably be closer to the end of the month.  So, there’s still time to join if you’re interested.

In addition to the blogging, I got a good deal of reading done.  I finished Sisters of Misery by Megan Kelly Hall.  I read that novel to help out Andi at AndiLit.  It was really good and I just noticed that in the activity of BBAW that Amy hosted a guest post by the author.  I really enjoyed it and am looking forward to the sequel.  I also read and enjoyed The Torn Skirt by Rebecca Godfrey.  I’ll be writing and posting the reviews for these novels this week.

I have a question about young adult literature for those of you who regularly read and review it.  Sisters of Misery is listed in the YA Lit category.  It was about a group of high school aged girls, so that fits YA to me.  However, there were quite a few references to drugs, sex, rape, and gang rape.  Two characters, one of whom is a high school character, smoke.  What really stuck out to me as being inappropriate for a YA novel is my least favorite word, c*nt.  Are these topics and the use of that kind of language acceptable or common in the YA literature of today?  It’s been since the late 80s since I’ve read YA fiction and I know that a lot has changed…

I’m starting Bad Monkey by Matt Ruff and The Other Queen by Philippa Gregory in addition to Immortal for my reading this week.  A lot of great reading is heading my way.

Next weekend I’ll be heading to the National Book Festival in Washington, D.C. and I cannot wait!  I’ll have pictures and a report back on those festivities in my next Sunday Salon.  In the meantime, have a great week everyone!

Immortal ~ A Second Chance

August 9, 2008 at 7:33 am | Posted in Books | 3 Comments
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When I had my co-workers help draw the winning names for my Immortal contest, I wished that I had enough copies for everyone.

What’s the next best thing?  Another blogger having copies to giveaway!  So, if you entered my contest but didn’t win a copy of Immortal by Traci Slatton, Lisa at Book on the Brain has two copies up for grabs!  Her contest ends on August 15th.  Click here for details on her give away.  Good luck!

Announcing the Literate Housewives’ Book Club Contest!

July 25, 2008 at 10:17 am | Posted in Books | 38 Comments
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Trumpeter VIII by Elyse Ashe Lord

Trumpeter VIII by Elyse Ashe Lord

As a teaser earlier this week, I indicated that I was getting several copies of a historical fiction novel to give away to a few of my readers. I’m going to use those free copies to relaunch The Literate Housewives’ Book Club, which has been inactive since the end of December. I’m excited to announce that I have three copies of Immortal by Traci Slatton to give away! At the end of this post is the book trailer and a Q&A with the author.

About the Contest:

1) Please only enter this contest if you’re willing to participate in my online book club. The first 15 people to sign up will receive a personalized bookmark made by me, whether they win a copy of the book or not. 🙂

2) To be entered in the contest, leave a comment to this post with at least one suggestion for making an online book club fun and successful. You will get one entry into the contest for each suggestion, up to a total of three entries.

3) If you blog about this contest, you’ll get two additional entries into the contest. Send me an email or leave a comment with the link.

4) The deadline for entering the contest will be Friday, August 8.

5) In addition to receiving a free copy of the book, the winners will also receive a personalized hand made bookmark that is specific to the book as a special thank you for taking this journey with me. They will also have contributor rights to the blog in order to post questions, topics, etc…

6) If you already own a copy of Immortal and would like to participate, let me know. I’ll send you a bookmark as well.

I will be retooling the LHBC site in the meantime in preparation for the relaunch. I cannot tell you how excited I am about this. I hope that this will be as much fun for me as it will be for everyone else.

About the Book

Q&A for Traci Slatton
Author of Immortal
Tracilslatton.com

Tell us about your book, Immortal.

Immortal is a rags-to-riches-to-burnt-at-the-stake story. It’s a journey of spirit and an education of the heart. That said, it’s the story of a mysteriously gifted street urchin who undergoes the darkest moments possible and still goes on to find true love, deep friendship, hope, faith, and ultimately the deepest secrets of his origins.

Why did you write this book?

I love to tell stories! I was working on a non-fiction book about science and spirituality. (Piercing Time & Space, ARE Press, Virginia Beach, VA: 2005.) It was fascinating research, but I found myself longing to write fiction, to create characters and wrap myself around adventure, conflict, and obstacle. Story lust drove me.

The book takes place in Florence during the Renaissance: What inspired you to choose this setting?

This goes back to the previous question. Renaissance Florence is a character in this novel–it’s inextricably interwoven into the story. It’s why I wrote THIS book. More explicitly, I am married to Sabin Howard, who is one of the foremost classical figurative sculptors working today. (www.sabinhoward.com) Think Michelangelo’s work: that’s what my husband’s work resembles. Moreover, Sabin is half-Italian; his mother is from Torino and he is completely fluent in the language. So, for him, Renaissance Italy is alive and well. It’s a part of our everyday discourse. I was always interested in Renaissance art but it’s become a passion because of living with Sabin.

Also, Florence between 1300 and 1500 was an intense and extraordinary place, almost unequalled in history. Art, philosophy, learning, commerce, banking, and government were all burgeoning and concentrated into this small city, making it the center of Europe. Out of Florence radiated invention and innovation. One of the popes called it “The fifth element of the universe.” Only Paris between the two world wars comes close to the fervor of creativity that was taking place in Florence during the Renaissance. It’s a powerful time to write about.

How did you come up with a protagonist like Luca?

I wanted a character who would meet and make an impression on my two great Renaissance heroes: Giotto and Leonardo. This character had to be the kind of man who could inspire love, lust, envy, admiration, and riveting hatred in other people. And he was going to face terrible challenges, so he had to have personal resources to help him through. And his suffering would make him humble and give him a hunger to love and be loved.

Lucas plays many different roles – orphan, companion, healer – throughout the story, which do you personally relate best to?

Perhaps to the healer and the companion. I was a hands-on or spiritual healer for many years, and Luca gets to do what I always longed to do: lay hands on and cure someone completely, even bring a dying man back to life.

I have four daughters, and in the best moments of parenting, there is a companionable aspect to it. There are moments when all the little stuff falls away, all the blah-blah-blah about messy bedrooms and parties and grades and allowances and health concerns, and my children and I are friends, laughing together. Even my little one, who is 3, sometimes sits and chats with me as if we were two good buddies. I treasure those moments.

Luca meets da Vinci, Botticelli…“immortals” whose impact on society is still apparent. Can you talk to us about some of those figures, and the way they still shape modern society?

They have left a legacy of art and ideas which is the foundation of western civilization. Petrarch, who is a friend of Luca’s in Immortal, articulated the notion of the individual self (see Ascent of Mount Ventoux) on which we built the United States: “We hold these truths to be self evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights.” This is a radical change from the earlier systems of society, and it came out of the Renaissance. The great Cosimo de Medici who led Florence from 1434 to 1464 established the Platonic Academy, which formulated the ideals of humanism which are now axiomatic in our worldview. Even our pop philosophy, eg The Secret, has its roots in Pico della Mirandella’s Oration on the Dignity of Man: “O highest and most admirable felicity of man to whom it is granted to have whatever he chooses, to be whatever he wills!”

The great artists like Leonardo and Botticelli left us ideals of beauty that are still unparalleled. Leonardo left behind a prototype of a polymath genius as the highest aspiration.

Part of what makes Luca’s story so beautiful is the time period it is set in and the people he encounters. Do you think it would have had the same significance had it been placed at another time, such as the present?

Renaissance Florence is such an integral part of the story that it’s hard to say. I am, however, considering bringing Luca back in a future book that is set in Paris between the two world wars. Readers who love Luca can stay tuned…

Luca witnesses many important historical events throughout his life. What kind of research did you conduct for these?

I read a million books (okay, maybe a hundred), searched on-line, spoke with friends and relatives with extensive historical knowledge (my husband is a Renaissance sculptor and my father-in-law is a history teacher with a PhD), and I corresponded with, or spoke to, a couple of professors. I also like the History channel for shows on history! And we visited Italy several times, spending much time in the Medici chapel in Florence and the Pinacoteca Vaticano in Rome.

No one but me is to blame for inaccuracies, distortions, and out right fallacies.

What are your future writing plans in writing?

I am working on the sequel to Immortal right now.

Any advice you could give to beginning novelists out there?

Persist! And know who to trust with your work.

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