5.28.2013

Top Ten Tuesday: Freebie

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme from The Broke and the Bookish.


This week's topic is a freebie, meaning I get to pick my own. Generally, it's recommended that you peruse the past topics for one you may have missed, etc. Instead, I checked out what my fellow bloggers were posting. At The Broke and the Bookish they posted their top ten ingredients for a perfect day of reading; There were books involved...listed the top ten sequels they're dying to read; and The Zombie Librarian listed the top ten books they'd like to forget and then read for the first time again. But it was Tsuki's Books where I found the topic I wanted to stick with: 

Top Ten Books I Haven't Bought Yet, But Desperately Want

This kind of sort of goes hand in hand with a topic covered back in December, but a little different. Also, I'm leaving out the special editions. This is about the books, not the editions. And this is really just a small selection...obviously...I mean, my Amazon wishlist (the one of just books) is about 115 books long so...


I got hooked on Elna Baker through The Moth podcast.









5.27.2013

Mailbox Monday 5/27/13

Mailbox Monday is hosted this month by 4theLOVEofBOOKS


This week I received ZERO books. I am saddened.

Last week's giveaway was for a copy of Jennie Fields' paperback edition of The Age of Desire. The winner was:

Shoshanah G

Please check your email for details!

Hopefully I'll get some new books next week. In the mean time, my roommate has gone on vacation and left me with these books to peruse:



5.21.2013

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Favorite Covers of Books You've Read

Top Ten Tuesday is, as always, brought to you by The Broke and the Bookish.


This week's Top Ten holds a special place in my heart. I'm a sucker for covers. I've discussed this before (and you will see some covers from when I discussed this in 2011). Sure, you're not supposed to judge a book by its cover, but I often do. Can't help it. Just the way of the world. Whatever. 

So this week's top ten is meant for me. :D











Be sure to check out The Book Cover Archive to find some new favorites. 

And don't forget to enter this week's giveaway!

Giveaway: The Age of Desire, by Jennie Fields

You can win your own copy of The Age of Desire by entering this week's giveaway! Winner will be announced on Monday 5/27. Enter by clicking here.
This giveaway has ended.

(Penguin; On-sale: 5/28/13)

"Now in paperback, a sparkling glimpse into the life of Edith Wharton and the scandalous love affair that threatened her closest friendship, The Age of Desire: A Novel, by Jennie Fields, brings to life one of literature’s most beloved writers, whose own story was as complex and nuanced as that of any of the heroines she created.


Extraordinary coincidences, such as the sudden discovery of more than 100 letters from Edith to Anna, Edith’s governess turned literary secretary and confessor, make Jennie Fields’ own story of writing this novel remarkable. In The Age of Desire, Fields seamlessly weaves these letters and other diary entries throughout a narrative that alternates between the points of view of both women, taking the reader on a vivid journey through Wharton’s exhilarating world."


For more information, please check out www.jenniefields.com


5.20.2013

Mailbox Monday 5/20/13

This month's Mailbox Mondays are brought to you by 4 the LOVE of BOOKS.

First of all, let's get last week's giveaway out of the way:

For a copy of Deborah Harkness' Shadow of Night, the winner was

Johanna C.

And for the super cute alchemical buttons, the winner was

Jessica P.

Please be sure to check your email for details!

***


This week, I received one book: The Age of Desire, by Jennie Fields
(Penguin; On-sale: 5/28/13)
"Now in paperback, a sparkling glimpse into the life of Edith Wharton and the scandalous love affair that threatened her closest friendship, The Age of Desire: A Novel, by Jennie Fields, brings to life one of literature’s most beloved writers, whose own story was as complex and nuanced as that of any of the heroines she created.

Extraordinary coincidences, such as the sudden discovery of more than 100 letters from Edith to Anna, Edith’s governess turned literary secretary and confessor, make Jennie Fields’ own story of writing this novel remarkable. In The Age of Desire, Fields seamlessly weaves these letters and other diary entries throughout a narrative that alternates between the points of view of both women, taking the reader on a vivid journey through Wharton’s exhilarating world."

For more information, please check out www.jenniefields.com



BONUS you can win your own copy of The Age of Desire by entering this week's giveaway! Winner will be announced on Monday 5/27. Enter by clicking here
This giveaway has ended.

***

While you're here, be sure to check out the two reviews posted here at The Literary Gothamite from this week:

A Tale for the Time Being, by Ruth Ozeki
&
Studio Saint-Ex, by Ania Szado


Review: Studio Saint-Ex, by Ania Szado

Studio Saint-Ex
by Ania Szado
Knopf
368 pp  |  June 4, 2013
Mignonne Lachapelle has returned to New York City after a year home in Montreal with her mother. She arrives in the wake of a rather bleak discovery: one of her senior-year professors at her fashion school has stolen her designs for a magnificent butterfly-inspired collection, and is pandering it as her own.

Returning to confront Madam Fiche, the plagiarist, she is unexpectedly hired by her as an assistant for her Atellier* Fiche, a job that Mignonne only accepts as a last resort after a number of other fashion houses turn her down for any kind of design position.

It is a meeting of desperations - Mignonne's for a career, and Madam Fiche's for help; and when these women begin to collaborate, it is clear who will be the true beneficiary of their work.

But a forced and difficult collaboration with Madam Fiche is not the only issue at hand in Studio Saint-Ex; Mignonne is also confronted by the arrival of her former lover--a married man, a member of the French Air Force, and a French aristocrat. His friends call him "Saint-Ex," Mignonne calls him Antoine, and his wife Consuelo calls him Tonio. But readers will know him as Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, the beloved author of The Little Prince (Le Petit Prince, 1943). 

Driven by the combined forces of ambition and desire, Szado's fictionalized history is an excursion into the creation of The Little Prince as well as an examination of the fashion world of the 1940s. At first, I believed it was simply the latter. The infamous author's name didn't manage to ring any bells in my head. It wasn't until Antoine begins telling Mignonne the story of the boy he's been sketching on napkins for months that I caught on. But it didn't matter, because Szado's story is beautifully told, even if it hadn't been rooted in historical fact. The seduction and the romance are all real, and beautifully intertwined with the drama from the pressure of the fashion and literary industries. 

Mignonne exists in a constant state of tug-o-war between her two loves, and the reader will likely find it difficult to root for either one over the other. Eventually, this conflict leads to what could be a mutually beneficial collaboration with Antoine's wife, Consuela, whose serpentine sensibility threatens to tear the entire fabric of Mignonne's reality to shreds.

This is a very quick read, rife with the kind of imagery that can suck you into a story and never let go. And lovers of The Little Prince will, I'm sure, be enamored by this fictionalized account of the great author, his tempestuous wife, and the love that could have been.

*Atellier, meaning "studio" or "workshop" in French.

5.18.2013

Review: A Tale for the Time Being, by Ruth Ozeki

A Tale for the Time Being
by Ruth Ozeki
Viking Adult
432 pp  |  March 12, 2013
In Ruth Ozeki's newest novel, a Hello Kitty lunchbox swaddled in a freezer bag washes ashore on a remote island off the coast of Vancouver. The diary found inside is written in purple ink, bound in what was once (symbolically) Marcel Proust's In Search of Lost Time, and is accompanied by a handful of other souvenirs, not the least interesting of which is a watch that once belonged to a WWII Japanese kamikaze pilot.

Believing that the bundle may be early flotsam from the devastating tsunami that recently hit Japan, Ruth and Oliver (self-insertions of the author and her husband) begin examining and reading the contents, trying to discover who the owner is and what may have happened to her. On many levels, Ozeki's novel plays with the reader's preconceptions of time and authorship. The style of self-insertion is a tricky one, forcing the reader to seriously reconsider and question the boundaries between fact and fiction, and between past, present and future.

A Tale for the Time Being is a puzzle, built on two alternating narratives that seem almost parallel, though we know fairly early on that they are in fact separated by approximately ten years. But as the young diarist's 104-year-old Zen Buddhist nun great-grandmother Jiko would say: then, now, they're the same.

The struggles of the two women presented are, on the surface, staggeringly different. Ruth is struggling, and has been for some time, with trying to write her next novel - an account of dealing with her late mother's Alzheimer's disease. Nao, our young diarist and purple-ink-toting would-be-francophile, has been struggling with a severe bullying problem at school, her father's affinity for attempting suicide, and her own recent decision to (sometime, in the near future) commit suicide herself. Their problems could not be any more different, and yet Ruth finds herself relying on Nao's narrative.

But just as Ruth believes she is close to finding all of her answers through Nao, the narrative stops. In a passage that could be straight out of what my roommate calls the "infinite parallel meta universe" that is Stephen King's Dark Tower series*, the words simply vanish from the page, and Ruth finds herself contemplating her existence, perhaps as only a character in Nao's narrative. The words have disappeared from the page, and the story is unfinished until Ruth can find a way to affect the past in the present.

Zen Buddhist philosophy serves as a kind of backbone for the novel (Ozeki herself is a Zen priest) but, having gone into it myself knowing almost nothing about that school of thought, you don't need to be enlightened first; Ozeki's footnotes on just about everything will take care of all of that without being preachy. Each lesson is a foothold for Ruth, and for Ozeki's readers.

We're meant to understand that time is not the end, it is the means. Time is not the cage in which we live, it is the freedom by which we live. And, without spoiling it for you, it's once Ruth accepts that lesson that the pieces finally fall into place and the words re-inscribe themselves upon the page.


*In King's Dark Tower series, Stephen King is himself a character within the narrative. The various characters visit him when it is discovered that he is writing their lives. This is also somewhat similar to the existence of all the enchanted forest characters being in Henry's book prior to the curse being broken on ABC's Once Upon a Time.

5.14.2013

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Books Dealing with Tough Subjects

Compared to last week's topic, things are about to get depressing up in here. Today's subject is about books dealing with tough subjects, whether it be abuse, suicide, grief, or just whatever speaks to you personally.


So here goes...I'll say this now: I don't really want to talk about these...the're all wonderful, but tough/difficult subjects are...subjective, so it's just gonna be titles & authors. Read at your own risk. 


(hint: McEwan's a pretty solid bet)

Don't forget to enter this week's giveaway! Click here to enter!
this giveaway has ended

5.13.2013

Mailbox Monday 5/13/13

Mailbox Monday is hosted this month by 4 the LOVE of BOOKS.

First and foremost, we have a giveaway winner to announce. The winnder of a copy of Charlie Lovett's new novel The Bookman's Tale is:

Shannon R.

Please check your e-mail inbox for more details!

And don't worry! If you didn't win, The Bookman's Tale will be in bookstores on May 28th.
Pre-order your copy now!

***

Nextly, my haul this week consisted of one and only one book, but one I'm pretty excited about: 


due out from Knopf on June 4th.

***

Lastly, we have another giveaway, this one for lovers of Deborah Harkness' A Discovery of Witches:

You can either win a copy of the second book in the All Souls Trilogy, Shadow of Night, coming out in paperback this month

or

you can win these supercute alchemical buttons, also being furnished by Viking/Penguin.

enter to win the book or the buttons here.
this giveaway has ended

5.08.2013

Giveaway: The Bookman's Tale, by Charlie Lovett


Hay-on-Wye, 1995. Peter Byerly isn’t sure what drew him into this particular bookshop. Nine months earlier, the death of his beloved wife, Amanda, had left him shattered. The young antiquarian bookseller relocated from North Carolina to the English countryside, hoping to rediscover the joy he once took in collecting and restoring rare books. But upon opening an eighteenth-century study of Shakespeare forgeries, Peter is shocked when a portrait of Amanda tumbles out of its pages. Of course, it isn’t really her. The watercolor is clearly Victorian. Yet the resemblance is uncanny, and Peter becomes obsessed with learning the picture’s origins.
As he follows the trail back first to the Victorian era and then to Shakespeare’s time, Peter communes with Amanda’s spirit, learns the truth about his own past, and discovers a book that might definitively prove Shakespeare was, indeed, the author of all his plays.
The book is due out May 28th. You can win your very own copy by entering the giveaway here. The winner will be announced in next Monday's mailbox. 
this giveaway has ended

5.07.2013

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Books When You Need Something Light & Fun

Top Ten Tuesday is, as always, brought to you by The Broke and the Bookish


This week's Top Ten is a little difficult for me. I don't re-read too many books, and those that I do tend to be on the longish end of the spectrum. 
I still have a list, but I decided to get some help on this post a friend, Miss Laura Cunningham, whose blog you can check out and bring some love to here. Between the two of us, I'm sure we can manage to find an unorthodox kind of light and fun.

Elle's Top Books When You Need Something Light & Fun

Sometimes you can’t beat the feeling you get rereading a book that you read as a child. It feels like going home. And this is that book for me. Wizards, riddles, magic, dwarves, dragons... What’s more fun than a good old-fashioned adventure story?

Good Omens is my go-to comfort book. Fun, hilarious, almost heartwarming- well, as heartwarming as a book about the apocalypse can be. So good I named my cats after the two main characters.

This is a book that I love to get lost in. The characters are easy to love, the central mystery is tantalizing, and the atmosphere is heady and thick like summer fog. Easy to read, not easy to put down. I highly recommend, not only this, but all of Zafon’s books.

Fragile Things
Smoke & Mirrors
M is for Magic
When what you’re looking for is “light and fun”, you can’t beat short stories. They give you a glimpse of a story without the commitment of a novel. Be careful, these stories are like potato chips- you’ll start by reading one and, before you know it, you’ll finish the book.

I guess a recurring theme here is “things I read in childhood” and “fabulous adventures”. Oh well. This is one book that you definitely have to read in your lifetime. If you liked the movie, you’ll love it. If you didn’t like the movie... How? Also one time I met William Goldman and cried on him but he was very nice about it. Stand up fella.

If you want a strong plot-line and deep, driven characters, admittedly, this isn’t for you. But if you want endless spasms of hilarity loosely stitched together by improbable situations, then it’s a perfect match. Very Monty Python-esque humor. Light and fun at its best.

Lauren's Top Books When You Need Something Light & Fun

The Princess Bride, by William Goldman
On this, Laura and I can agree wholeheartedly. Everyone should read it. This and The Neverending Story, though that one is a bit more of a mire. For the record, I've never cried on Mr. Goldman.

This is in the short story way of things. If you like short stories about darker things but not enough to pick up John Connolly's Nocturnes, this is a good start. 
From the author of Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell. 

I know what you're thinking: Oh god, here comes the Austen. You're not wrong. But I've loved on Doornebos' stellar bit of fluff before. It's kind of wonderful. 

I think this one actually goes by the title of To Conquer Mr. Darcy now, which I think is just sad. 

Sweet short stories by the autor of Atonement. He tried the stories out on his young kids before publishing, so you know they've got a pretty respectable stamp of approval.

Anything by Dave Barry
Seriously. Anything. This includes but is not limited to: his syndicated column in the Miami Herald; the Starcatcher series which he wrote with Ridley Pearson; Dave Barry Slept Here; and I'll Mature When I'm Dead.

You knew this was coming didn't you? Look, I know it's not a terribly light book or a terribly fun book (unless you go into it knowing you can ride the wave of Sir Walter and Elizabeth's stupidity) but this book is kind of like my reset button. I'll re-read it simply because I know every word. It's like a palate cleanser. I have two copies in my apartment right now. It's a necessity. 

5.05.2013

Mailbox Monday 5/6/13 ...and a Giveaway

Mailbox Monday is hosted this month by 4 the LOVE of BOOKS.


This week's haul includes a galley that is also a giveaway, a birthday gift (my birthday was this Friday!) and a handful of books rescued from my office. 

Hay-on-Wye, 1995. Peter Byerly isn’t sure what drew him into this particular bookshop. Nine months earlier, the death of his beloved wife, Amanda, had left him shattered. The young antiquarian bookseller relocated from North Carolina to the English countryside, hoping to rediscover the joy he once took in collecting and restoring rare books. But upon opening an eighteenth-century study of Shakespeare forgeries, Peter is shocked when a portrait of Amanda tumbles out of its pages. Of course, it isn’t really her. The watercolor is clearly Victorian. Yet the resemblance is uncanny, and Peter becomes obsessed with learning the picture’s origins.
As he follows the trail back first to the Victorian era and then to Shakespeare’s time, Peter communes with Amanda’s spirit, learns the truth about his own past, and discovers a book that might definitively prove Shakespeare was, indeed, the author of all his plays.
The book is due out May 28th. You can win your very own copy by entering the giveaway here. The winner will be announced in next Monday's mailbox. 
tthis giveaway has ended

*

My birthday gift (from mi madre) was a book I'm pretty much assuming I'm going to love. I'm not usually swayed by critics, but Stephen King wrote up a brilliant review of this novel in the New York Times, and I just knew I had to have it: 


You can read King's review here

*

As for the books I rescued from the office, they were:

Because I want to re-read it, and because it's the same edition I read as a kid, and it has the freakiest cover...

Because I needed a copy, so why not?

Because I've never read it.

Because I have less of a problem with the book and more of a problem with the film. If you're in the mood to throw up all over everything you own, watch the film. It's in Hulu+'s Criterion collection. 

and

Because I've been to the Poe cottage in the Bronx twice in the last month or so, and I wasn't sure why I didn't already own something similar. 

5.01.2013

Review: Pastors' Wives, by Lisa Takeuchi Cullen

Pastors' Wives
by Lisa Takeuchi Cullen
April 30, 2013
Plume  |  368pp
A guest review by Jessica Pruett-Barnett

I wish I could say that I went into reading Lisa Takeuchi Cullen’s debut novel Pastors’ Wives without prejudice. When asked to review it, I said yes without hesitation. As a lifelong Christian of the liberal sort, and as the daughter of two pastors, I am more qualified than most to evaluate chick-lit about the sordid life of the women behind megachurch men; I’ve seen and heard everything that happens behind the scenes. I didn’t expect Cullen to get anything right.

I was wrong. My expectations, shaped from decades of reading Christian novels from stores like The Mustard Seed, led me to believe that Pastors’ Wives would have weak-willed women pretending to be strong while bowing before their husbands (and God, in a Book of Paul way) while spouting Bible verses on every page.

Instead, Pastors’ Wives reads like a secular chick-lit novel that just happens to take place in a megachurch in Georgia. Ruthie moves from Manhattan to an Atlanta suburb when her husband gets a new job as an Assistant Pastor. Candace is in charge of the behind the scenes work at the megachurch, dictated by her position as the Head Pastor’s wife. Ginger is Candace’s daughter in law, married to the black sheep son who does missionary work abroad when not heading his own church. As the year goes by, all of them learn new ways to function as people outside of being preachers’ wives, gaining brains, heart, and courage along the way. The only blah moment in the novel is the semi-forced sub-subplot of Ruthie dealing with her mother’s death and her father’s subsequent remarriage. It isn’t needed and doesn’t shine light on her life as a preacher’s wife.

I have to applaud (insert me applauding right now) Cullen. She created three women who are all Christians yet not bigots. These are not the fundamentalists that dominate the US media, although it wouldn’t take a stretch of the imagination to see that Candace has some conservative views. They preach compassion and actually use it, as seen in a few important plot points that I won’t mention because of spoilers. The research Cullen did for Pastors’ Wives is evident from her details, down to the way that a popular preacher can influence car sales based on the type of car he (almost always a he in terms of megachurches) drives.

You don’t have to be a Christian to enjoy Pastors’ Wives; it won’t preach at you. That is the most important takeaway from this novel: Church isn’t just a building or a steeple, church is people of all types and backgrounds and beliefs. And maybe, just maybe, that’s ok.