Book Drunkard

“I am simply a 'book drunkard.' Books have the same irresistible temptation for me that liquor has for its devotee. I cannot withstand them.” L.M. Montgomery


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Cassie Stocks guest post and giveaway!


I’m so happy to have Cassie Stocks, the author of Dance, Gladys, Dance, guest posting on my blog today.  If you didn’t read my review of her book yesterday, go check it out!  You can also read an excerpt HERE

Join me in welcoming Cassie –

The Problems of Characters

 My name is Cassie Stocks and I have a character problem. It’s not that I have trouble creating them or that, once created, they wreak havoc on my carefully crafted story. The problem is that they appear too regularly in my beleaguered brain. If I let my mind have its way, I’d be writing Russian-style novels in which the reader would have to keep a list of all the characters in order to follow the story.

The problem is once a character occurs to me, they seem to arise fully formed and oh so interesting that to not use them seems like some form of murder. How to relegate a named person with foibles and dreams and an interesting past to the ‘Not Using’ file?

Sometimes I don’t have to, the character Girl (just about everyone’s favorite) in Dance, Gladys, Dance was originally to be a bit character, but once she emerged in all her disheveled glory, I kept on with her and she ended up being an integral part of the story (let me apologize in advance for what happens to her). Marilyn, the wildly drunken screenwriter, appeared because someone needed to answer the door in the deadbeat hotel that Frieda is taken to visit. I honestly didn’t know who was going to answer the door. When Marilyn appeared she too ended up having a story to tell that affected the main story.

I think it’s more than a little like real life. The people we meet all have their stories, pasts, dreams, interesting connections, and complex inner lives but we rarely come to know them in all their individual glory. The complexities of an inner self make people interesting. ‘Why’ is the operative question I have to keep asking myself. In real life, if I want to, I can say, “Bob is a jerk” and leave it at that. In writing fiction, if Character A is a jerk, I have to ask, “Why is he a jerk?” Did his best goldfish just die? Is he ill? Did he always want to be a ballet dancer but had weak ankles? Did he lose someone important to him and never recover? It’s a valuable intellectual/psychological exercise for me. If I can find compassion for Jerk Character A in my fiction, maybe, in real life, I can extend Bob the Jerk the same empathy. As a writer, it’s the most interesting thing I get to do, to delve into a person profoundly to discover everything about them, to stretch the boundaries of what I know about different types of people, and to discover what lies beneath the surface of their behavior.

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Thanks so much, Cassie!

And now for the giveaway details.  I have one copy to give away to one lucky Canadian.  Comment on this post with your email address.  Then, tell me what your favourite book by a Canadian author is.  For another entry, tell me if you’ve ever seen a ghost!  (for me, the answers are Anne of Green Gables and no)  Contest ends on August 1oth.  Good luck!


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Clara and Mr. Tiffany by Susan Vreeland, review and giveaway


Clara and Mr. Tiffany by Susan Vreeland – Summary from Amazon:

It’s 1893, and at the Chicago World’s Fair, Louis Comfort Tiffany makes his debut with a luminous exhibition of innovative stained-glass windows that he hopes will earn him a place on the international artistic stage. But behind the scenes in his New York studio is the freethinking Clara Driscoll, head of his women’s division, who conceives of and designs nearly all of the iconic leaded-glass lamps for which Tiffany will long be remembered. Never publicly acknowledged, Clara struggles with her desire for artistic recognition and the seemingly insurmountable challenges that she faces as a professional woman. She also yearns for love and companionship, and is devoted in different ways to five men, including Tiffany, who enforces a strict policy: He does not employ married women. Ultimately, Clara must decide what makes her happiest—the professional world of her hands or the personal world of her heart.

My Review:

For many years I’ve looked longingly at Tiffany Lamps, coveted them, but I never really knew much about the history behind them.  I was surprised to hear about Clara Driscoll and that it was she who was behind the iconic lamps.

I love how Susan Vreeland took someone as little known as Clara, and with a great deal of research and imagination wrote a beautiful book about her.  Not only that, but she paints a picture of how life at the turn of the century was for women and men in New York with plenty of historical detail.  There is also quite a lot of detail about the making of the lamps.  I found it extremely interesting because it couldn’t have been easy – it’s not like they had the technology like we do today.

The further into the book I read, the more I began to adore the cast of characters.  From Mr. Tiffany to Clara and all her friends at the boarding house, the ladies and men she works with, each one is important to the story and Susan brings them to life beautifully – even the minor characters.  You can tell they are all meaningful to her.  She is one of the foremost writers of historical fiction today.

Many thanks to TLC book tours for sending me a copy to read in exchange for my honest review.  And, also for allowing me to offer a copy of the book to one lucky reader of my blog.  Here’s how to enter:

Comment on this post with your email address.  If you share this post in any way – Twitter, Facebook, on your blog, etc – that will bring you extra entries.  Just let me know what you did.  If you like my blog on Facebook, that will also give you an extra entry.  Contest ends on May 29 and is open to anyone in Canada and the US.  Good luck!


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3rd Bloggiversary!


My 3rd bloggiversary came and went at the beginning of this month and – surprise surprise – I completely forgot!  I bet my nose was buried in a book or something…

Anyhow, to thank everyone who makes blogging a joy for me, I have a giveaway going on over on BOOK DRUNKARD’s Facebook page.  So, like my blog and see how you can enter!  The prize?  The book of your choice up to $20 from Book Depository.  Good luck and thank you once again 🙂


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Idol Hands by Cynthia Hill – winner


I tallied up all the comments, extra entries, shoved the number into Random.org and the lucky winner is…..:

BELLA!!

Congrats!  I will contact you now and then contact Cynthia and see how this will all go down.  I really hope you love the book as much as I did – and that your jaw doesn’t break when it hits the floor.  Have some padding ready just in case :p


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Cynthia Hill guest post and Idol Hands e-book giveaway!!


If you’re a regular reader of my blog, then you know I recently had my mind blown by a little book I like to call “OMGWTFREADTHISBOOK!”  Seriously.  Other people might call it IDOL HANDS – that works, too!  You can check out my review here.

I’m so happy to welcome Cynthia Hill to my blog today.  Enjoy her post and then enter to win an e-book of IDOL HANDS.

I’m starting to think of Idol Hands as the Fight Club of books. You know the movie, right? Brad Pitt and Ed Norton beating the crap out of each other for kicks? That’s about all I know of it, as it’s not really my type of movie, but everyone knows the famous line:

The first rule of Fight Club is that you do not talk about Fight Club.

Take the words “Fight Club” and replace them with the words “Idol Hands” and the premise stays the same. If you read just about any review, it says the same thing:

So then if reviewers have trouble talking about a book, how does the author promote it? To tell the truth, I sound like a total idiot when I talk about it to people. “It’s uh, about a boy band… well, no, not really about a boy band, but about this girl who was the girlfriend of a boy band member… but it’s not a romance… I know it sounds like chick lit, but it’s darker than that…” I sound like a blithering idiot.

There are fun parts of it, though. I get the emails, Facebook posts, and Twitter DMs after people finish reading the book and just have to talk about it “with SOMEONE”, and every single one makes me smile. I’d love to see some book clubs adopt Idol Hands just because I see how much people want to talk about it after they read it, but so far there seems to be an understanding by the readers that they don’t want to spoil anything for people who haven’t read it. It’s like getting to be a part of a secret club: there are those who have experienced Idol Hands, and those who haven’t. Remember being one of the ones to have seen The Sixth Sense and then coming across someone who hadn’t? Being able to give them that knowing, “Ohhh… so you don’t know then?”

No matter what, though, I am so very grateful for the reception that the book has been given by its readers and reviewers, and for the people who are trying their hardest to spread the word about it. As a new author, my best allies are happy readers who tell others. Then they can be a part of the club, too!

One lucky reader of this post will also get their mind blown when they win an e-copy of IDOL HANDS!!  I’m jealous.  I wish I could experience the book for the first time all over again.  To enter, comment on this blog post with your email address.  For extra entries, Tweet, Facebook, or blog about this giveaway.  Just leave links in the comments section.  Contest is open to anyone and ends on March 31, 2012.  AND, if there are a lot of entries, I might be able to persuade Cynthia to add another e-book to the pot.  So tell your friends!!

 


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The Crown by Nancy Bilyeau, review and giveaway


The Crown by Nancy Bilyeau is historical fiction with a healthy portion of mystery all wrapped up in a wonderful debut novel.  It’s set during the time of Henry VIII, so you know it’s going to be full of intrigue – court, political and otherwise.

The main character, Joanna Stafford, is an educated nun with her own opinions and boy oh boy, she isn’t afraid to voice them!  Nor does she always necessarily go the way of the church.  I actually liked that about her – I get tired of reading about cookie cutter ‘perfect’ ladies who do what they are told without question.  Joanna questions EVERYTHING!  It makes her easy to relate to.  And really, it brings so much more to the story.  It was great to go on the roller coaster ride with her.  There were so many twists and turns in this book.  And I enjoyed every word of it.

I was surprised to learn that this is Nancy’s first novel.  While reading it, I felt as though the author was well seasoned, with many novels under her belt.  But, the research and wonderful writing style only made it seem that way.  So much detail!  I’m already looking forward to her next book.

I have one copy of The Crown to giveaway today to one lucky reader in the  US.  To enter, leave a comment with your email address below.  Extra entries will be given for Tweeting, blogging or sharing on Facebook.  Contest ends on March 12.  Good luck!

Nancy Bilyeau has worked on the staffs of Rolling Stone, Entertainment Weekly, and Good Housekeeping. Most recently, she served as deputy editor at InStyle 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 “Loving Marys” reached the finalist stage with Page International Screenwriting Awards and Scriptapalooza. A native of the Midwest, she earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Michigan. The Crown is her first novel, and she has finished writing the sequel to The Crown, which is called The Chalice.

Nancy Bilyeau’s Website:  http://www.nancybilyeau.com
Nancy Bilyeau on Twitter: @TudorScribe
Link to Book Trailer:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5iGvvxjm8dA
Tour Event Twitter Hashtag:  #TheCrownVirtualBookTour

Check out other stops on the blog tour HERE


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Eva Stachniak Guest Post and Giveaway


I’m so happy to have Eva Stachniak posting on my blog today.  Please welcome her!  And stay tuned at the end of the post for a giveaway 🙂

When I began writing The Winter Palace one of the first sources I reached for were the memoirs of Catherine the Great. I quickly discovered that the great Russian empress started writing them a few times, only to abandon all attempts in the end.

In her final, longest attempt—which takes us to the year 1759, three years before the coup which made her the Empress of Russia —Catherine wrote: Fortune is not as blind as people imagine. It is often the result of a long series of precise and well-chosen steps that precede events and are not perceived by the common herd. In people it is also more specifically the result of qualities, of character, and of personal conduct….Here are two striking examples. Catherine II. Peter III.

It didn’t take me long to realize that these remarkable memoirs constitute one of these well-chosen steps. This isn’t an act of confession, but a carefully woven story produced by a savvy politician who knows what she wants. Catherine II (for she refused to call herself Catherine the Great) was a voracious reader, and when she became empress she commanded one of the best libraries of the Western world. As a reader she was aware of the changing needs of the public which, by then, believed that a worthy life was ruled by reason. Catherine re-wrote her story a few times, not because she wanted to, but because she realized that she had to fine-tune her historical image. She had important goals: to elicit sympathy of future biographers, claim her legitimacy over the Russian throne, and convince everyone that she has been a much better choice for Russia’s Sovereign than her husband.

And so Catherine II presents herself as a newcomer to Russia, a bride of a cruel and foolish husband, a young woman mistreated by the elder empress, a mother whose children have been taken away from her. She gives us many details of her life—descriptions of dresses, buildings, and people—but she always stops short of describing the coup itself or her own less than stellar actions (like her tacit approval of her husband’s murder).

I’ve read and re-read these Memoirs many times in the course of doing research for my novel and every time I reach for them, I’m awed by the perfect pitch of Catherine’s voice. I know she manipulates me, forces me to pity her, all in preparation for the time when I’ll have to reflect on her dubious deeds. I know that she uses style and rhetoric as a master publicist for her cause.

It has taken all my strength to read between these masterly words, to look for the real woman behind the images she creates. And even now, when I’m working on the second novel about her, the Empire of the Night, I still remain on my guard.

And I am still awed.

 Source of the quote used: “The Memoirs of Catherine the Great.” A new translation by Mark Cruse and Hilde Hoogenboom. Modern Library: Random House, 2006.

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I have one copy of The Winter Palace up for grabs today.  It’s open to readers in Canada and the US and ends February 3, 2012.  To enter, comment on this post – be sure to leave your email address so I can contact you if you are the lucky winner.  For an additional entry, comment on the review I posted yesterday.  Any type of sharing of this giveaway will also count toward extra entries, just leave a link to how/where/what/etc.  Good luck!!