Sunday, April 26, 2015

Dewey's 24 Hour #Read-a-Thon - End of Event Meme

End of Event Meme:

Which hour was most daunting for you?
I gave up the ghost in Hour 22. I just could not stay awake!

Could you list a few high-interest books that you think could keep a Reader engaged for next year?
I didn't even finish one book so no...although I think a good thriller would be advisable

Do you have any suggestions for how to improve the Read-a-thon next year?

What do you think worked really well in this year’s Read-a-thon?
I think it all worked well.

How many books did you read?
Less than one.

What were the names of the books you read?
Inspector of the Dead by David Morrell

Which book did you enjoy most?
See above

Which did you enjoy least?

If you were a Cheerleader, do you have any advice for next year’s Cheerleaders?

How likely are you to participate in the Read-a-thon again? What role would you be likely to take next time?
I will probably participate again, as a reader. I'm a sucker for read-a-thons!

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Saturday, April 25, 2015

Dewey's 24 Hour #Read-a-Thon - Mid-Event Survey

I actually just started in hour 11 which was my plan all along. I had stuff to do today. But now I'm getting my read on and I have my snacks. Munchos, yogurt covered pretzels, chewy Lemonheads and sour neon worms...and, of course, my trusty Diet Coke. Now for the survey...

Mid-Event Survey:
1. What are you reading right now?
My planned book...Home Before Dark by Charles MacLean
2. How many books have you read so far?
3. What book are you most looking forward to for the second half of the Read-a-thon?
The one I'm reading. Logically, I know I'll be lucky to finish this one. 
4. Have you had many interruptions? How did you deal with those?
No...just couldn't start until hour 11.
5. What surprises you most about the Read-a-thon, so far?
No surprises...yet.


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Dewey's 24 Hour #Read-a-Thon

Well, Dewey's Read-a-Thon starts at 7:00am my time, but I will most likely be sleeping since I'm just now going to bed. lol I will be out most of the day, probably until after 6pm. Going to lunch with my sons and my mom, grocery shopping and to a movie, The Age of Adaline (skeptical because Blake Lively is not my favorite, but the premise looks good).

When I return, I will get my read on! I have one goal to read (all of it) Home Before Dark by Charles Maclean.

Ed Lister has everything anyone could want, except his daughter, who was murdered while studying in Florence. Frustrated with the police inquiry, Ed sets out to discover who killed her, & why. His quest brings him ever closer to the charming, lethal psychopath Ward, & his website, Home Before Dark. (from Goodreads)

Sounds good, doesn't it!?

I'm continuing with the scary theme of my Spring Into Horror Read-a-Thon which is still going until the very last breath of Sunday night.

I shall pick up some snacks while at the grocery store.

Happy Reading!


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Thursday, April 23, 2015

Cat Thursday - A Cat Read-a-Thon

Welcome to the weekly meme that celebrates the wonders and sometime hilarity of cats! Join us by posting a favorite LOL cat pic you may have come across, famous cat art or even share with us pics of your own beloved cat(s). It's all for the love of cats! (share your post in the Mr. Linky below)

It's another read-a-thon week for me. I'm hosting my Spring Into Horror Read-a-Thon over at Seasons of Reading this week (hey, you can still join us!).

Some classics...

Yes, ma'am!!!

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Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Shaun D. Mullen's There’s A House In The Land - Guest Post, Excerpt and {Giveaway}

This giveaway was originally posted at Historical Fiction Connection, but since I only received one entry, I've decided to repost here and reopen the giveaway. I hope you enjoy the guest post and will enter the giveaway.

As a career journalist of the old school, I had long resisted writing about my own life on a farm beyond the far western suburbs of Philadelphia in the 1970s, but people kept telling me that those years on the farm would make for a very special book. They were right.

There’s A House In The Land (Where A Band Can Take A Stand)” fell into place when I decided to write about the farm from an historical fiction perspective.

Writing about my decade on the farm through the lens of historic fiction let me do a couple of things: A few of my housemates had not survived the decade, but most were alive and I wanted to protect their identities, so names of people and places were changed. And I rearranged some events from their sometime chronological inconvenience to my writerly convenience to give the book a better and more dramatic flow.

Another problem remained. Our adventures aside, there was a profundity to our time together, the lessons we took away and how they have shaped our lives since. I did not want to write a fictionalized memoir that would come off sounding like a rural version of the movie “Animal House.” In this I succeeded, at least according to reviewers.

Here with the opening of the first chapter of “There’s A House In The Land”:

“The first time I went out to Kiln Farm, bumping along in an aluminum beach chair anchored to the floor in the back of Eldon's Chevy Step Van, it seemed like it took forever although the farm was only 10 miles from New Park.

“Back then New Park was a quaint college town without a single decent restaurant. But it did have the New Park Tavern, which Edgar Allan Poe is said to have cursed when he got falling-down drunk following a lecture at the college and was thrown out, as well as two other establishments where students could hoist a pint before returning to the comfy confines of a picture book campus with ivy-covered buildings. The Poe story is apocryphal because the tavern didn't exist when the poet-storyteller gave the lecture, but that hadn't prevented the management from plastering raven images on beer mugs and T-shirts.

“Today that quaintness is long gone. There are several decent restaurants, the tavern is still raven-centric, but has been cleansed of its rusticated piss and beer charm. About the curse, I don't know. After a night of drinking, students now return to a campus that has grown up to become a world-class university known for far more than its football team.

“As for the farm, all but the farmhouse was razed years ago. The garden, apiary, barn, milk house, chicken coop, black walnut tree that little Caitlin swung under, and the fields that seemed to go on forever, were bulldozed and replaced by cookie cutter townhouses in a development insultingly called Kiln Farms.

* * * * *

“Eldon turned off the state road onto a driveway flanked by row after row of field corn and began the bumpy ascent to a place that would be my home for the next 10 years.
“My initial impression was a cosmic wow! For the first time since I had returned from Nam, I finally felt like I was home. It just wasn't the kind of home I had expected when a past and future resident of the farm, whom I had met in Saigon shortly before we caught Freedom Birds home, invited me to hang out until I got my bearings.

“The upper story of the farmhouse came into view as we began to crest the last hill and broke free of the cornfields. Windows blazing brilliant orange with the reflection of the late afternoon sun framed by white stucco walls and topped by a faded red tin roof created the appearance of a gigantic grinning jack o' lantern. Appropriate, because it was Halloween. There was music playing. Very loud music. I recognized it as King Crimson's ‘In the Court of the Crimson King.’

“The music was blaring from large Pioneer speakers on a porch flanked by two guys guarding a half keg of beer in a wash tub filled with chunks of ice. Both could have been mistaken for guitar god Duane Allman with their tall and lean builds, bushy moustaches and long hair, while an Irish setter, whom I imagined had to be deaf from the volume of the music, slept on the steps between the porch and front lawn, where a hotly contested game of horseshoes was being played.

“The guy sitting on one side of the keg was resplendent in a sparkling red lamé jumpsuit, MARS emblazoned in big letters on the back. His head and arms were painted a matching red, as well. The guy on the other side was wearing a similar only blue lamé jumpsuit with VENUS across the back, his head and arms painted blue. Trick or treating had obviously started early for these two planets . . .'

Buy the book

About the author
Shaun D. Mullen is an award-winning journalist and more recently an author.

Over a long career with newspapers, this editor and reporter covered the Vietnam War, O.J. Simpson trials, Clinton impeachment circus and coming of Osama bin Laden, among many other big stories. His work was nominated for five Pulitzer Prizes. Mullen also mentored reporters who went on to be the best in the newspaper and television business, including several who won Pulitzer Prizes.

He is the author of "The Bottom of the Fox: A True Story of Love, Devotion & Cold-Blooded Murder," a 2010 true-crime book about an unsolved murder in the Pennsylvania Poconos that recently has seen a surge in sales because of the manhunt for Eric Frein, who was captured after a 48-day manhunt and is charged with murdering a Pennsylvania state trooper. In August, he published "There's A House In The Land,” an historical fiction tale of the 1970s.

“Kiko’s House” is Mullen’s blog about political and cultural affairs. He also is a guest columnist at “The Moderate Voice.”

Much of Mullen's work is archived in the Shaun D. Mullen Journalism Papers in Special Collections at the University of Delaware Library.

Follow the instructions on the Rafflecopter form below to enter for a chance to win one of three print copies of There's A House In The Land (Open internationally)!

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Tuesday, April 21, 2015

A Reading Life (37) and Spring Into Horror Read-a-Thon

I can't believe I haven't done one of these posts since November! Just a testament to how busy I've been with life and dealing with illness and ongoing dental issues. I'm planning on doing this posts again weekly, but I'm not going to post on a set day. It might be Monday, or Tuesday, or even on a Sunday. I'm going to live dangerously!

Currently reading:
Solomon's Bride, Rebecca Hazell
A Tale of Two Cites, Charles Dickens
Inspector of the Dead, David Morrell

A Storm of Swords, George R.R. Martin (I'm trying to listen. I haven't been very dedicated to listening to audio lately)

Family Reading Project (20 minutes daily, alternating titles):
Sadly, I'm having a hard time pinning the boys down to continue this with me. Teen and preteen boys are hard to pin down for reading. All they care about is video games. Hoping to get this started back up going into summer.

TuesBookTalk - We are currently reading A Tale of Two Cities by Dickens. In May, we're reading Louisa May Alcott: The Woman Behind Little Women by Harriet Reisen.

Lit Collective - we have just finished voting on our featured author for our August retreat and it looks like it will be Tana French! I'm so excited! I will be posting the poll to decide the books we will read by the end of this week (hopefully).

Recent Book Acquisitions:

From two library sales over the past weekend -
We Are Not Ourselves, Matthew Thomas
The Martian, Andy Weir
The Source, James A. Michener
The Wife, The Maid and the Mistress, Ariel Lawhon
Sycamore Row, John Grisham
Bliss House, Laura Benedict
The Orchardist, Amanda Coplin
The Winter People, Jennifer McMahon
Bones of the Lost, Kathy Reichs

Inspector of the Dead, David Morrell
Home Before Dark, Charles Maclean (if it arrives from Better World Books in time!)

I'm planning on participating in Dewey's Read-a-Thon on Saturday and will probably be reading Home Before Dark and if I finish it, either Dickens or The Witch of Painted Sorrows by M.J. Rose.

What's been going on in your Reading Life?


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Thursday, April 16, 2015

Cat Thursday - Cats in Art (10)

Welcome to the weekly meme that celebrates the wonders and sometime hilarity of cats! Join us by posting a favorite LOL cat pic you may have come across, famous cat art or even share with us pics of your own beloved cat(s). It's all for the love of cats! (share your post in the Mr. Linky below)

The monthly cat art gallery. Enjoy!

1747 Jean-Baptiste Perronneau - 
Magdaleine Pinceloup de la Grange, née de Parseval

1900 John William Godward - Idleness

Helen Allingham The Staircase, 
Whittington Court, Gloucestershire

Sunday Afternoon-Interior with a Girl Reading-
Michael Peter Ancher (1849 – 1927, Danish)

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Friday, April 10, 2015

Nancy Bilyeau's The Tapestry - In-Progress Review

Taking a page from the book of my friend, Heather at The Maiden's Court, so to speak. I am having a terrible time keeping up with my reading due to a busy work schedule and my seemingly endless dental problems of late (had root canal last Friday and it's not over yet *frown*). So please note that this is an in-progress review. I will finish the book this weekend and have a full review up next week.

My (in-progress) thoughts
As she did with her previous offerings, The Crown and The Chalice, Bilyeau has proven she is a force to be reckoned with in the historical fiction world. Her books never fail to entertain, while also being historically accurate and richly detailed. Joanna Stafford remains one of my favorite characters in a historical series. She proves time and again her bravery, loyalty and intelligence.

About the book
North America & UK Publication Date: March 24, 2015
Touchstone Publishing
Formats: eBook, Hardcover
Pages: 390
Series: Joanna Stafford, Book Three
Genre: Historical Mystery

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In THE CROWN, Sister Joanna Stafford searched for a Dark Ages relic that could save her priory from Cromwell’s advancing army of destruction. In THE CHALICE, Joanna was drawn into an international conspiracy against Henry VIII himself as she struggled to learn the truth behind a prophecy of his destruction.

Now, in THE TAPESTRY, Joanna Stafford finally chooses her own destiny.

After her Dominican priory in Dartford closed forever—collateral damage in tyrannical King Henry VIII’s quest to overthrow the Catholic Church—Joanna resolves to live a quiet and honorable life weaving tapestries, shunning dangerous quests and conspiracies. Until she is summoned to Whitehall Palace, where her tapestry weaving has drawn the King’s attention.

Joanna is uncomfortable serving the King, and fears for her life in a court bursting with hidden agendas and a casual disregard for the virtues she holds dear. Her suspicions are confirmed when an assassin attempts to kill her moments after arriving at Whitehall.

Struggling to stay ahead of her most formidable enemy yet, an unknown one, she becomes entangled in dangerous court politics. Her dear friend Catherine Howard is rumored to be the King’s mistress. Joanna is determined to protect young, beautiful, naïve Catherine from becoming the King’s next wife and, possibly, victim.

Set in a world of royal banquets and feasts, tournament jousts, ship voyages, and Tower Hill executions, this thrilling tale finds Joanna in her most dangerous situation yet, as she attempts to decide the life she wants to live: nun or wife, spy or subject, rebel or courtier. Joanna Stafford must finally choose.

Praise for The Tapestry
“Illuminated by Bilyeau’s vivid prose, minor players of Tudor England emerge from the shadows.” —Kirkus Reviews

“In THE TAPESTRY, Nancy Bilyeau brilliantly captures both the white-hot religious passions and the brutal politics of Tudor England. It is a rare book that does both so well.” —Sam Thomas, author of The Midwife’s Tale

“In spite of murderous plots, volatile kings, and a divided heart, Joanna Stafford manages to stay true to her noble character. Fans of Ken Follett will devour Nancy Bilyeau’s novel of political treachery and courageous love, set amid the endlessly fascinating Tudor landscape.” —Erika Robuck, author of Hemingway’s Girl

“These aren’t your mother’s nuns! Nancy Bilyeau has done it again, giving us a compelling and wonderfully realized portrait of Tudor life in all its complexity and wonder. A nun, a tapestry, a page-turning tale of suspense: this is historical mystery at its finest.” —Bruce Holsinger, author of A Burnable Book and The Invention of Fire

“A supremely deft, clever and pacy entertainment. This is Nancy Bilyeau’s most thrilling—and enlightening—novel in the Joanna Stafford series yet.” —Andrew Pyper, author of The Demonologist and The Damned

“A master of atmosphere, Nancy Bilyeau imbues her novel with a sense of dread and oppression lurking behind the royal glamour; in her descriptions and characterizations… Bilyeau breathes life into history.” —Laura Andersen, author of The Boleyn King

Buy The Tapestry
Barnes & Noble

About the Author
Nancy Bilyeau has worked on the staffs of InStyle, Rolling Stone, Entertainment Weekly, and Ladies Home Journal. She is currently the executive editor of DuJour magazine. Her screenplays have placed in several prominent industry competitions. Two scripts reached the semi-finalist round of the Nicholl Fellowships of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences. Her screenplay “Zenobia” placed with the American Zoetrope competition, and “Loving Marys” reached the finalist stage of Scriptapalooza. A native of the Midwest, she earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Michigan. THE CROWN, her first novel, was published in 2012; the sequel, THE CHALICE, followed in 2013. THE TAPESTRY will be released in March 2015.

Nancy lives in New York City with her husband and two children. Stay in touch with her on Twitter at @tudorscribe. For more information or to sign up for Nancy’s Newsletter please visit her official website.

Visit other blogs on the tour--Tour Schedule
Twitter Hashtag: #TheTapestryBlogTour #HistoricalMystery #NancyBilyeau
Twitter Tags: @hfvbt @tudorscribe @TouchstoneBooks


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Thursday, April 9, 2015

Cat Thursday - Authors and Cats (42)

Welcome to the weekly meme that celebrates the wonders and sometime hilarity of cats! Join us by posting a favorite LOL cat pic you may have come across, famous cat art or even share with us pics of your own beloved cat(s). It's all for the love of cats! Enjoy! (share your post in the Mr. Linky below)

The second Cat Thursday of each month is Authors and Cats Thursday. Each time I will feature an author and their cat(s).

In honor of Beverly Cleary's birthday this month, April 12, 1916. 

We all know who she is, but here's a short biography from Goodreads:

Beverly Cleary (born April 12, 1916) is the author of over 30 books for young adults and children. Her characters are normal children facing challenges that many of us face growing up, and her stories are liberally laced with humour. Some of her best known and loved characters are Ramona Quimby and her sister Beatrice ("Beezus"), Henry Huggins, and Ralph S. Mouse.

Beverly Cleary was born Beverly Atlee Bunn in McMinnville, Oregon. When she was 6, her family moved to Portland, Oregon, where she went to grammar and high school. She was slow in learning to read, due partly to her dissatisfaction with the books she was required to read and partly to an unpleasant first grade teacher. It wasn't until she was in third grade that she found enjoyment from books, when she started reading The Dutch Twins by Lucy Fitch Perkins. Thereafter, she was a frequent visitor to the library, though she rarely found the books she most wanted to read — those about children like herself.

She moved to California to attend the University of California, Berkeley, and after graduation with a B.A in English in 1938, studied at the School of Librarianship at the University of Washington in Seattle, where she earned a degree in librarianship in 1939. Her first job was as a librarian in Yakima, Washington, where she met many children who were searching for the same books that she had always hoped to find as a child herself. In response, she wrote her first book, Henry Huggins, which was published in 1950. Beezus and Ramona, Cleary's first novel to feature the Quimby sisters as the central focus of the story, was published in 1955, although Beezus and Ramona made frequent appearances in the Henry Huggins series as supporting characters.

In 1940 she married Clarence T. Cleary and they moved to Oakland, California. The Clearys became parents to a set of twins, Marianne Elisabeth and Malcolm James, in 1955. Clarence Cleary died in 2004. Beverly Cleary currently lives in Carmel, California.

She has also written two autobiographies, A Girl from Yamhill and My Own Two Feet.

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Thursday, April 2, 2015

Cat Thursday - The Funny and the Cute

Welcome to the weekly meme that celebrates the wonders and sometime hilarity of cats! Join us by posting a favorite LOL cat pic you may have come across, famous cat art or even share with us pics of your own beloved cat(s). It's all for the love of cats! (share your post in the Mr. Linky below)

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