Monday, January 26, 2015

An Appetite for Violets Giveaway


I'm pleased to offer a giveaway of An Appetite for Violets by Martine Bailey. This giveaway is open to readers in the United States.

About the Book: Irrepressible Biddy Leigh, under-cook at the forbidding Mawton Hall, can’t wait to settle down with her sweetheart and set up her own tavern. But when her elderly master marries the young, enigmatic Lady Carinna, Biddy is unwittingly swept up into a world of scheming, secrets, and lies.

Forced to accompany her new mistress to Italy, Biddy takes with her an old household book of recipes, The Cook’s Jewel, in which she records her observations. When she finds herself embroiled in a murderous conspiracy, Biddy realises that the secrets she holds could be the key to her survival – or her downfall . . .

AN APPETITE FOR VIOLETS is an utterly compelling story of food, obsession and mystery, introducing a brilliant new voice in historical fiction

To enter just fill out the form below by Sunday February 1!





Amy

Monday, January 19, 2015

Weekend Notes 1/19/2015

I had an unofficial New Year's Resolution to post three times a week which I've already failed. But I'm going to take the mindset of every week is a new week and keep trying. :D

I also had a New Year's Resolution to start listening to podcasts and audio stuff more. I've never been very good at it...I just tune things out. But I feel like this would be a good ability/skill to work on. So I started with Serial because I knew I'd need something really good, something a lot of people liked, to get started. And I while I did have to rewind a lot because I spaced or got distracted with actual work, I did blow through it in one week. It's right up my alley---a true crime podcast...but told in multiple segments so as to be addictive. The mixture of real life interviews, the music, the overall outstanding production quality made it especially enjoyable. I liked it a lot and I'm excited there will be another season. I also found it kind of frustrating and revealing. Without uncovering any new evidence, nothing is ever going to change. But it sure feels like the case was mishandled--at least from the defense?--to begin with. But maybe most frustrating is realizing you can never know the truth! Anyway, I read a few interviews with family members, etc. afterwards and it was interesting. And how crazy that a podcast could be so popular, idek. Anyway, I don't know what to listen to next! I've read several lists of suggestions, but I'm not sure any of them are really calling my name, woe.

You may have heard about the Academy Awards and how the movie Selma was mostly snubbed. I should note that I haven't seen really any of the nominees, but I did want to see Selma and so I went this weekend. It's really good, everyone. See this movie. It's a great film. It manages to accomplish what I feel like is really hard for historical pieces by making the setting feel vibrant and alive and believable. Everyone felt real, it felt urgent, and it felt like now in a really raw way that I don't know how to explain. The acting was all GREAT, the violence was surprising and uncomfortable, but necessary. It also really challenged me personally. I'm amazed at people who fight for freedom and their convictions in such a real physical way. (by physical I mean--putting themselves in harms way, not punching or something). I just really liked it so much. And yes it's timely and relevant, of course it is. One thing I have to note is that I read someone argue it was the most Christian film of the year, so I was curious if I'd also find it satisfying from the perspective of *faith* And I don't know that I agree. Yes, there's an obvious depiction of a man struggling with whether or not what he's doing is right and multiple people of faith who join the struggle, but I also felt..I don't even know how to explain it, but like the film was in a way trying to distance itself from any sense of *endorsing* Christian faith. It was in subtle things, like when one character says, "I'm not talking about the Bible, but common sense" (paraphrase) and an obvious effort to demonstrate that people of many faiths joined the march. I'm not saying this as something against the film...it was more like a feeling than anything else, but I wanted to note it. Maybe it's an example of someone presenting something respectfully they don't believe themselves?

I also caught up on a few movies that were lingering on my "want to watch" list because they were adaptations of books I've read.
The Maze Runner--Boring tbh. It also seemed faithful to the book from what I remember but it's been awhile. I guess the casting was okay? But man is this ever a BOY film. By which I mean, there are barely any girls in it.

The 100 Foot Journey--I barely remember this book, I didn't like it much from what I recall. But the movie was sweet and charming and had lots of pretty food and just overall pleasant--a rarity these days you know. Recommended!

Gone Girl--I did like this quite a bit, but I found the score incredibly distracting. I remember wondering at the time if Gone Girl as a film would be as interesting as the book--the surprise is all gone you know? And I have to conclude reading the book was more enjoyable for me. I did like the movie and it seemed very faithful as it should with Gillian Flynn adapting it and well cast as well.

How are things going for all of you? Any podcast suggestions?

Amy

Thursday, January 15, 2015

The Amityville Horror by Jay Anson


Remember when we all used to do reading challenges? Well, I guess some people still do them :D. I gave them up, but every once in a while I have a desire for some kind of themed reading that makes me momentarily pause and think of it as a challenge. Instead, they are sort of loose project ideas in my head--things I keep in mind when thinking about what I want to read. One such thing is reading classic horror stories. I don't really mean CLASSIC classic horror stories, but definitive horror stories, i.e. Rosemary's Baby which I read last year, and also The Amityville Horror which...I read last year, but am only now reviewing. Oooops.

This definitely classifies as a defining horror story. It launched a many installments film franchise and is frequently referenced in other horror stories, is a basis for the way many haunted house stories go, features my favorites, the Warrens, etc. Plus when I asked for recommendations on classic horror stories to read--this was recommended to me! So alas I read it last October.

I was actually fairly familiar with the story before I started to read it. I've watched some of the movies and a documentary that's on Netflix about the true story. So in some ways there were no surprises but apart from that this was an amazingly addictive compulsive read despite how ridiculous it all seems? Like, Anson really sells the horror of it and tries to make it all sound as real as possible and when an author sounds like they believe in the terror that's happening it almost doesn't matter if it flies against all common sense. But, what I found EVEN MORE interesting is how other ideas really came through even though he wasn't ~telling that particular angle of the story. Like, I mentioned that I watched the documentary on Netflix (My Amityville Horror) that seemed to suggest that George was actually abusive. One of the things that happens when they move into the new house is he starts acting like a big jerk and the book frames it as the spirits in the house affecting his behavior, etc. But it's really odd because some of the behavior is shockingly alarming and Anson just kind of...presents it matter of factly? I wonder if the year the book was published has anything to do with it, we'd be raising major alarm bells now. There's also the issue that the Lutz's just seems like people who consistently make poor choices and yet Anson frames them as being relatively normal people.

Having said that, the book certainly offers up its fair share of scares. It's really fast paced--I read it during the Readathon, I believe, and reading it cover to cover really creates that rich feeling of suspense that will give you a chill down your spine! However, if you're feeling too creeped out after reading it, the internet is ready to debunk pretty much everything in the book to help you sleep at night!

Thanks for the rec guys! I liked this one a lot.

I purchased my own copy for reading.

Amy

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Weekend Notes

Well the New Year started off with a bang...I got sick. So sick that for a few days I was basically just sitting in front of the TV watching mostly bad movies. Which is funny because for years now I've had a really hard time even being interested in movies, I saw just three in the theater last year and two of those were with my nieces and weren't movies I would have ever picked out for myself. But for some reason, I've been GIVE ME ALL THE MOVIES so far this year which just goes to show that life is cyclical.

Out of the movies I've watched, I think I enjoyed Begin Again the most, I was worried, to be honest, it was going to be one of those dry indie films that feels important but fails to engage, but it really wasn't at all. It was unexpectedly enjoyable, charming almost, a love letter to New York City--they said in the extras, but to me it was a love letter to music. The original title of the movie was, Can a Song Save Your Life? and wow. I really wish in this case they'd kept that title. It's the perfect title for the movie and makes sense in a way the title Begin Again doesn't. I actually had trouble remembering the name of it.

I also watched the first season of the Bletchley Circle and everyone was right, what a great show. I will probably finish it up soon, but now that I am feeling better, just a slight lingering cough, I'm not really in the mood to stay parked in front of the TV. It's a new year! There's so much to be done!

I've read two books, House Broken, which I reviewed Friday. I forgot to mention in that review that the book is very free of potentially offensive elements. No language or explicit sex or anything. And Where She Went, the sequel to If I Stay, at long last. I finally felt compelled to pick up this book because I was so touched by the If I Stay movie. More thoughts soon.

Also, fellow TWD fans, I made this gifset of the imcomparable Danai Gurira on the very important topic of vampires vs. zombies. I was surprised to see so many people say how surprised they were that she is so gorgeous. I think Michonne is a stunner on the show, but yes Danai is an absolute babe.

Looking forward to another busy week and hopefully more posts and reviews! Tell me what you're up to this weekend!

Amy

Friday, January 9, 2015

House Broken by Sonja Yoerg


First of all, can we agree this is the best cover of 2015? I'm such a sap for dogs :)

House Broken is the first book I finished in 2015 and it was a great choice. While I was reading, I was reminded of just how much I enjoy women's fiction...uncovering the secrets of a family often reveals the reasons why families work the way they do and it's always interesting to examine and explore these dynamics. I especially enjoyed this one because as I mentioned...dogs! The main characters, Geneva, is a vet so there are a little doggie anecdotes throughout the book.

This also provides an interesting contrast to the human characters as they care for dogs, relate to them, and deal with their needs in their lives.

So as I mentioned, Geneva is the main character (though her daughter and mother also get POV) and her mother has just had an accident. Further complications require her mother to come live with Geneva's family as she recovers, giving them all a chance to reflect on the past. Geneva and her mother's relationship has always been strained and she also has a sister she's estranged from. She wants answers and as she interacts with her mother more and more, the past begins to come to light.

On top of everything else, she's also dealing with her own teenage daughter and her issues. Yoerg gives us glimpses into Ella's mindset (the daughter) and Helen's mindset (the mother).

I really enjoyed this book! It was just such a nice read, I don't know how else to explain it. It wasn't irritating, I was never bored--it was a great story, and I just really enjoyed reading it. I also think the way it ends is interesting, it's both hopeful and not hopeful! When you read it, maybe you'll understand what I mean.

I received a copy from the publisher for review.

Amy

Monday, January 5, 2015

Looking Ahead Survey!

Nabbed this from The Written World in an effort to keep this place active!

1. One Book You Didn’t Get To In 2014 But Will Be Your Number 1 Priority in 2015?

Ha. Haaaa. There are many books I really wanted to read in 2014 and didn't get to, but the thing about the book world is that IT MARCHES ON and about a billion new books are always coming out. PLUS, I'm always learning about older books and authors I didn't know about it and so it's nearly impossible for me to prioritize things. Like, I think I've sort of been having Tana French in this category for ages and yet she remains unread!

2. Book You Are Most Anticipating For 2015 (non-debut)?

To be honest, I'm not sure? Like, I've pored over book lists, but I'm just so overwhelmed by books I want to read in general that I don't think there's anything I'm anticipating that much. Though, I am pretty excited for Holly LeCraw's The Half Brother...she's an exceptionally beautiful writer and this one sounds even more interesting than The Swimming Pool. Oh and Beth Kephart's new one which just arrived the other day, of course!

3. 2015 Debut You Are Most Anticipating?

lol no idea. Debuts are always tricky to be excited about publicly anyway.

4. Series Ending/A Sequel You Are Most Anticipating in 2015?

Um, wow. I don't really read series anymore. :/ It's just so hard to keep up with them. Is there another Robert Galbraith book coming out this year? If so, I pick that. Oh, lol, not coming out in 2015, but I'm super excited to get a chance to read Symbiont by Mira Grant. Has anyone read this yet?

5. One Thing You Hope To Accomplish Or Do In Your Reading/Blogging Life In 2015?

I hope to read a wide variety of things, read off my shelf, blog more consistently, and love everything I read.

6. A 2015 Release You’ve Already Read & Recommend To Everyone:

I have read some 2015 books, but I recommend VERY few reads to everyone. One Step Too Far has really stuck with me, though.


Amy

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Happy 2015!

Happy New Year, everyone!

While I was on vacation, I was elaborately planning all of my goals for the new year...but...once I return to real life I realize I need to keep it real :)

I definitely want to read more. Last year's numbers were terrible--due to a variety of reasons. I know that nothing is really in my control and this year ahead could be worse, but I do think there are a few areas where I could make more reading time. I'd like to spend less mindless time on the computer for example. I had terrible concentration problems in the year due to stress, etc. and I'd really like to work on fixing those. So yes, I hope to read more.

I want to continue to read a mixture of new releases, recent releases and classics. My sister and I are going to do a quarterly book club which should be fun! I'll probably get my more ~classic type reads in there. I'd really love to read more of authors I know I already like. And I'd like to try to mix up my reading more--more poetry, more nonfiction, etc.

I guess my biggest goal will be trying to read more off my shelves and putting anything I don't own on hold for now except special circumstances.

I'd also like to get back to more regular blogging, and actually write about stuff instead of thinking about writing about it :)

So that's just a little bit of what I'm hoping the New Year will bring on the fronts most interesting to you all :) Let's hope 2015 is full of great books, great ideas, great love, great peace, great friendship!

Amy