Friday, 2 December 2016

Happy December and the Countdown to Christmas!

Happy December!

Ahhhh, the air outside is getting nippy and I am excited.  I get to pull out the toques, warm scarves, big jackets and oodles of blankets!  This weather is great for reading...with a steamy cup of tea.  I am also feeling a bit better having put up most of my Christmas decorations before December 1st.  Now to focus on making my Christmas cards.  It was great seeing people's faces when they opened them last year, so am really stoked to make them again.  I am in pretty good shape so on to making my Christmas book and movie list.

A CHRISTMAS CAROL (Charles Dickens)
-I have seen many movie adaptations of A Christmas Carol but my two favourite versions are the 1938 and 1951.  Alstair Sims and Reginald Owens are fabulous in their roles as Scrooge so I usually alternate each year on which movie I watch...and sometimes I watch earlier in the month and the other on Christmas Eve.  Before the days of DVDs and Streaming I would watch whatever version they played on the CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Chanel) at midnight on Christmas Eve.  This year I will be adding the animation version (2009) starring Jim Carey to my viewing...I saw a few minutes of it last year and I am intrigued. I read A Christmas Carol for the first time several years ago and LOVE the book.  I picked up an audiobook of Laurence Olivier performing the book so am really excited to read this classic again this year. 

LITTLE WOMEN (Louisa May Alcott)
-I feel in love with Little Women many moons ago.  I love the characters and writing so it is very easy to reread this classic.  I will also be listening to this on audio...but have not picked any particular version.  I love the 1933 version of Little Women because Katharine Hepburn is the best Jo in my opinion! I also do like the 1949 version, but can't buy June Allyson as Jo at all.  I am also a big fan of the 1994 version as it features many great actresses and actors.  I have not seen the 1994 version in two years so will probably give that one a go.

-I saw A Christmas Story for the first time just last year.  I really enjoyed it and was happy to learn that it was based on a book! And, by great chance one of my groups on Goodreads picked it as the monthly read.  My library doesn't have a copy but there is an audio version (not sure if unabridged) on YouTube I will give a go.

I scoured my book lists and shelves and have added Truman Capote's A Christmas Memory  and also a "sequel" to A Christmas Carol, Charlie Lovett's The Further Adventures of Ebenezer ScroogeA Christmas Memory has also been adapted to a film, so will see if I can find that to watch.  I also would like to read Jo's Boys and Little Men also by Louisa May Alcott if there is any time.  I would also like to read Silent Nights  and  Crimson Snow Edited by Martin Edwards (short stories). 

For movies and shows just some on my radar...How the Grinch Stole Christmas (original animation version), Rudolph the Red-Nose Reindeer, Frosty the Snowman, A Charlie Brown Christmas, A Christmas in Connecticut, It Happened on 5th Avenue, Holiday Affair, Meet Me In St. Louis, The Man Who Came for Dinner, The Holiday, Love Actually,  Elf, National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation, etc.

Tomorrow I will have a review for SANTA KLAUS MURDER by MAVIS DORIEL HAY.

k (My Novelesque Life)

Thursday, 24 November 2016

GUEST POST: All about Adverbs (Holly Tierney-Bedord)

GUEST POST: All about Adverbs 
 by Holly Tierney-Bedord

Something readers may not know is that writers get a lot of pressure to avoid using adverbs. Even though adverbs fill our conversations, relying on them when writing a book is not considered good practice.

First of all, let’s remind everyone what an adverb is.

noun: adverb; plural noun: adverbs
  1. a word or phrase that modifies or qualifies an adjective, verb, or other adverb or a word group, expressing a relation of place, time, circumstance, manner, cause, degree, etc. (e.g., gently, quite, then, there ).

(Is it weird that an adverb is a noun?)

To simplify matters, an adverb modifies a verb. Adverbs often end with the letters ly. Just like a verb can tell you what a noun did (The dog ran.), an adverb tells you how the verb did it (The dog ran slowly. The dog ran quickly.)
What editors will tell you is that much of the time, if you used an adverb, it’s because you used the wrong verb in the first place. Back to that dog. If he ran slowly, that means he trotted. Or staggered. Or loped. If he ran quickly, you could write that he raced or shot across the room.

Here’s a paragraph about why adverbs aren’t your friend. What could you cut from it to make it clearer and stronger?

You should really clean up those totally useless adverbs! You seriously don’t need them. They’re just another way to easily puff up your writing. Despite what your fourth grade teacher told you about writing book reports, more words aren’t necessarily better. Adverbs can absolutely be necessary, and since people rely on them pretty often in their natural speech and informal times like when they send an email, readers are used to seeing them so it’s not actually hurting anything to leave them in sometimes. The trick is knowing when to leave them in and when to simply press the delete button. So remember: If a sentence would lose meaning by deleting the adverb, then it logically makes more sense to leave the adverb in place. But if you want to carefully edit down your work now and then and really make it a little clearer, try eliminating some adverbs and see if your work isn’t stronger without them.

Okay, I’m going to sit here and drink some coffee while everyone works on this. Who am I kidding? As if people use the internet to learn!

Are you ready? I think this entire paragraph can be whittled down to the following:

Eliminate unnecessary adverbs to streamline and strengthen your writing.

If that’s too whittled down for you, how about this:

You should really clean up those totally useless adverbs! You seriously don’t need them. They’re just another way to easily puff up your writing. Despite what your fourth grade teacher told you about writing book reports, more words aren’t necessarily better. Adverbs can absolutely be necessary, and since people rely on them pretty often in their natural speech and informal times like when they send an email, readers are used to seeing them so it’s not actually hurting anything to leave them in sometimes. The trick is knowing when to leave them in and when to simply press the delete button. So remember: If a sentence would lose meaning by deleting the adverb, then it logically makes more sense to leave the adverb in place. But if you want to carefully edit down your work now and then and really make your work it a little clearer, try eliminating eliminate unnecessary adverbs and see if your work isn’t stronger without them.

These changes translate to this:

Despite what your fourth grade teacher told you about writing book reports, more words aren’t necessarily better. If a sentence would lose meaning by deleting the adverb, then it makes sense to leave the adverb in place. But if you want to make your work clearer, eliminate unnecessary adverbs.

Better, right?

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Holly Tierney-Bedord is the author of Surviving Valencia, Right Under Your Nose, Ring in the New Year, Bellamy’s Redemption, and many more books. Her newest novella Murder at Mistletoe Manor is her first cozy mystery. All her books contain far too many adverbs.

Thursday, 17 November 2016


I like new reading/book apps so I am always up to download free apps to see how they are.  I have not tried this one yet, but wanted to share it with you all as it launched yesterday.  I will do another post once I download and use this app! If you do so before me, let me know what you think!

Inkitt, the world’s first algorithm-based book publisher, is introducing an iOS app for iPhone and iPad available to readers globally today. In less than 2 years from launch, Inkitt has attracted over 700,000 unique readers: the iOS app will give book lovers and publishers greater access to Inkitt’s digital library of over 80,000 stories by up-and- coming authors.

“As more people read digitally we want to make it easier and faster for people to access great literature wherever they are, whether on the go or relaxing at home,” says Inkitt’s Founder and CEO, Ali Albazaz. “Inkitt’s iOS app will better enable emerging authors to share their work with test readership groups and give readers globally the opportunity to turn the page on one of the world’s next best sellers.”

Key features include:

● Access to 80,000 stories in every genre: fantasy, sci-fi, romance, thriller, horror,

adventure, action and more

● Personalized suggestions: hand-picked novels based on reader’s preferences

● App customization according to user preferences (e.g. font size, colors)

● Online/Offline: readers can save novels to their offline library to access them without

an internet connection
Beyond being a platform connecting authors and readers, Inkitt has developed an in-house algorithm that analyzes reading behavior to determine if a novel has the potential to become a bestseller. Using this unique data-driven approach, Inkitt aims to help emerging writers achieve their dreams of getting published by becoming a point of reference for publishers looking to uncover the world’s next best sellers. Back in April, Inkitt announced the signing of the platform’s first algorithm-chosen novel, Bright Star, a Young Adult fantasy novel written by Texan author Erin Swan and signed for publication with Tor Books. Since July, Inkitt has published another 3 novels: Catalyst Moon: Incursion by Lauren L. Garcia (Fantasy), Just Juliet by Charlotte Reagan (YA Romance) and I Was A Bitch by Emily Ruben (YA Romance Mystery). Both Just Juliet and I Was A Bitch became bestellers in their respective categories upon launch. (From Press Release)
Download APP Now!

Introducing Inkitt for iOS: Read great novels by up-and-coming authors on your iPhone and iPad from Inkitt - The Hipster's Library on Vimeo.

Saturday, 12 November 2016

MUST READ: Beautiful Fairytale Picture Book

Written and Illustrated by An Leysen
September 2016; 32 Pages
Genre: fairy tales, picture book, children's book

(I received an ARC from the NETGALLEY in exchange for an honest review.)


"Once upon a time, in a land far away from here, lived a girl named Olga. Olga lived with her father in a beautiful house, and they were very happy together. Until Olga’s father one day fell in love again … His new wife was cruel and mean. And her sister Baba Yaga, who lived in a dark forest, was even meaner. Baba Yaga was a real witch! There was a rumor she was fond of children … on her plate! One day Olga’s stepmother sent her to Baba Yaga. What was she supposed to do now?
Baba Yaga, the witch from Slavonic mythology is coming alive in this fairy tale. An Leysen takes you on a journey in an imaginative story about a wicked witch and a sweet and brave little girl." (From Publisher)
Image from Baba Yaga

 Clavis is soon becoming one of my favourite picture book publishers.  The artwork in these books are mind-blowing.  I would these pictures up on my wall.  The images in this book will have you have mesmerized, as will the story.  Some of images and story may scare younger kids.  I would say this story is for kids about 5-6 with the aid of an adult.  I HIGHLY recommend this book to anyone.

k (My Novelesque Life)

Picture Book Parade!

Written and Illustrated by Monica Arnaldo

October 2016; 32 Pages
Owlkids Books
Genre: anxiety, picture book, children's

(I received an ARC from the NETGALLEY in exchange for an honest review.)


Margo's mother warns her to be careful in her activities, and Margo thinks about the worst-case scenario.  Over the day she becomes anxious until her mother admits that they are allowed to be messy.  I really like the pictures in this book and the message the author was trying to come across.  I do not think anxiety in kids is discussed much in mainstream.  Having had anxiety as a child I wish there books to say you are not alone.  However, I don't think the message came across that great in the story.  There is not much build up and has an abrupt ending. 

Written by Peggy Janousky
Illustrated by Meghan Lands
October 2016; 32 Pages
Annik Press
Genre: picture book, children's, school anxiety

(I received an ARC from the NETGALLEY in exchange for an honest review.)


It is the first day of school and Miss. Macintosh does not want to teach kindergarten.  The principle and all the teachers come over and get her out of the door - dressed and ready to catch the bus.  When she gets to school she realizes she may not be the only one who is nervous about the first day.

Love the illustrations in this book!  I like the twist in the story where it is the teacher, instead of the student, that is nervous about attending school for the first time.  It is a cute and fun story for any tot heading to school.

Written by Susan Hughes
Illustrated by Brooke Kerrigan
October 2016; 32 Pages
Kids Can Press
Genre: picture book, children's

(I received an ARC from the NETGALLEY in exchange for an honest review.)


Maggie McGillcuddy is unlike anyone in the neighbourhood.  She has an eye for trouble that no one else can see.  Then Charlie moves in next door and has an imagination as big as Maggie.  Maggie and Charlie are able to keep the bad things away that are in their imagination, but it is Maggie to the rescue when there is real trouble for Charlie.

I loved the relationship between Charlie and Maggie - reminds me of me and my Bibi.  I think sometimes the elderly and children have a special bond because they have the ability to see beyond the usual. I highly recommend this book!

Written and Illustrated by Corey Sookocheff
October 2016; 48 Pages
Random House Publishing; Tundra
Genre: picture book, children's

(I received an ARC from the NETGALLEY in exchange for an honest review.)


This is a cute book looking at how kids can problem-solve.  The pictures are just okay - they are very simple and might not engage children.  The story is also very simple, but is a great conversation starter with kids.   

Written by Pamela Hall
Illustrated by Jennifer A. Bell
October 2014; 32 Pages
Tanglewood Press
Genre: picture book, children's

(I received an ARC from the NETGALLEY in exchange for an honest review.)


 As Walnut eats his cereal in the morning he asks his mother if they can stay home together.  He regales her with all the fun things they could do.  Walnut's mother explains to him that she needs to go to work to pay for their home, and all the things he loves.  She also tells him that when she misses him at work she has pictures of him everywhere.  So in compromise he asks for his mother's pictures when he is at school and misses her. 

Soooooo adorable!  I love the illustrations in this one - it fits the characters and story.  I also liked that this book has a single mother that is the breadwinner in the family.  Just an adorable book for kids who have wondered what mom/dad does without them.

k (My Novelesque Life)

Saturday Stroll into Art: Poster Art

Edited by Stanley Appelbaum
2016; 272 Pages
Dover Publications
Genre: nonfiction, art, pop culture

(I received an ARC from the NETGALLEY in exchange for an honest review.)


"Les Maîtres de l'Affiche (The Masters of the Poster) is one of the most prestigious and influential art publications in history. Its 256 color plates have preserved for each succeeding generation a wide- ranging selection of outstanding posters from the turn of the century, when the popular art form had reached its first peak. This Dover edition is the first complete republication of the legendary Maîtres set to devote a full large page to each plate.

Les Maîtres de l'Affiche was issued as separate numbered sheets measuring 11 1/4 x 15 1/2 inches. Every month for 60 months, from December 1895 through November 1900, subscribers received a wrapper containing four consecutively numbered poster reproductions. On 16 occasions, the monthly wrapper also contained a bonus plate, not a poster reproduction but a specially created art lithograph. Jules Chéret, father of the modern poster, emerged with the lion's share of the plates, 60 of the 240 numbered poster reproductions and 7 of the 16 unnumbered bonus plates. Of the 97 artists represented in Les Maîtres de l'Affiche, some were preeminent painters and printmakers at various stages of their careers: Toulouse-Lautrec, Denis, Bonnard, Vallotton, Puvis de Chavannes. Others were famous illustrators and cartoonists of the period, still well known to art collectors and bibliophiles: Forain, Caran d'Ache, Ibels, Willete, Boutet de Monvel, Léandre. But there were also all those whose names say "poster," the conquering pioneers of the new medium: Chéret himself, Mucha, Steinlen, the Beggarstaffs, Grasset, Penfield, Parrish, Bradley, and Hardy.

This edition reproduces the plates in their original numerical sequence, one to a page, retaining the standardized tan border introduced by the editors of Les Maîtres. The bonus plates, originally unnumbered and issued at various times, have been given the letters A through P and have been placed at the end of the volume. The List of Plates indicates the exact months in which Maîtres subscribersreceived these bonus plates. In order to keep the plate pages uncluttered, the captions on those pages have been limited to plate number (or letter) and the artist's name. The List of Plates also furnishes essential data on the original full-sized posters: their dimensions, the year in which they were first published, city of publication, and specific print shop responsible. A special Dover feature, which is almost certainly a first ever, is a full literal translation of the text of all posters printed in a language other than English. These are all new direct translations from French, German, Italian, Spanish, Dutch, Danish, Czech, and Hungarian" (From Publisher)
 I am a sucker for vintage pop art posters!  It is a gorgeous collection of prints along with with some descriptions behind it.  I do think that this book would be better in print as you detach the prints.  I also think art books in general are nicer in print.

k (My Novelesque Life)


Short Story Saturday: Public Library and Other Stories

Written by Ali Smith
October 2016; 220 Pages
Penguin Books; Anchor
Genre: short stories, fiction

(I received an ARC from the NETGALLEY in exchange for an honest review.)


"Why are books so very powerful?

What do the books we've read over our lives - our own personal libraries - make of us?

What does the unravelling of our tradition of public libraries, so hard-won but now in jeopardy, say about us?

The stories in Ali Smith's new collection are about what we do with books and what they do with us: how they travel with us; how they shock us, change us, challenge us, banish time while making us older, wiser and ageless all at once; how they remind us to pay attention to the world we make.

Public libraries are places of joy, freedom, community and discovery - and right now they are under threat from funding cuts and widespread closures across the UK and further afield. With this brilliantly inventive collection, Ali Smith joins the campaign to save our public libraries and celebrate their true place in our culture and history.
" (From Publisher)
 I love the message behind this collection - libraries are essential and important even more today.  The stories relate to that message.  I enjoyed some of the stories more than others.  I liked them on the whole but just didn't connect to them as I hoped.

k (My Novelesque Life)

Friday, 11 November 2016

Feast Friday: Read Now, Cook Later

As I look to heal my inside and learning to love who I am, my next step for the new year is to look at my outside.  The past few months I come to appreciate how I look, but I also know I feel uncomfortable at this weight.  Since my grandmother passed away I have looked to food to satisfy things I am unhappy with in my life.  I let myself think it was a short term comfort, but I have struggled with my weight all my life.  I have been underweight and I have been overweight.  At age thirty-six, I worry that this will become a bigger problem later.  I have decided that instead of dieting, I have decided to look more into a healthy lifestyle.  So, you may see more cookbooks on the blog, lol. 

Written by Ryan Scott
October 2016; 256 Pages
Oxmoor House 
Genre: cooking, foodie, nonfiction

(I received an ARC from the NETGALLEY in exchange for an honest review.)

"One to Five is cooking for real life: master one basic recipe and learn to spin it into five quick, affordable, and crowd-pleasing dishes. Discover how Ryan's killer marinade, a simple rotisserie chicken, or an easy slow-cooker roast can turn into soul-satisfying meals like carnitas, stuffed egg rolls, sliders, a Vietnamese salad, and a hearty stew.

From taco night to breakfast as dinner, this book is all about flexibility as Ryan invites home cooks to think creatively about cooking while using supermarket staples. He offers ingenious strategies, tricks, and guidance on stocking the freezer and pantry so that great-tasting meals are always ready at the drop of a hat." (From Publisher)
 I have not yet used any of these recipes but have been marking down many that I want to try soon!  One of my favourite things about cooking is variety, and when you have to come up with meals, you also want it to be easy. I like how if you learn one recipe you are able to make it into five more.  I love the images of the food, which makes you hungry just skimming through the book. Also, Rachel Ray does the Forward!


Written by Mark Bitterman 
October 2016; 176 Pages
Andrews McMeel Publishing 
Genre: cooking, foodie, nonfiction, salt

 (I received an ARC from the NETGALLEY in exchange for an honest review.)

"From renowned salt expert and best-selling author of Salt Block Cooking and the James Beard Award-winning Salted, Mark Bitterman, comes this unique guide to transforming your favorite foods with natural, healthful, hand-crafted salt. By simply selecting and using the right salt in the right way, you will vastly improve every dish you make.

This is the essential guide to making great salt the centerpiece of your cooking at home.

We demand quality in our meals, and natural, hand-made salts are the most basic and essential way to make those ingredients shine. Mark Bitterman is THE salt expert and award-winning author. In this book he makes this simple truth abundantly clear with over 60 inspiring recipes such as: Colorado Beef Burger with Mesquite Smoked Salt, and Chilies, Truffle Salt Smashed Roasted Potatoes, Salted Latte Ice Cream with Lemon Espresso Drizzle.

The introduction explores why craft salt is different from iodized salt, kosher salt, and even industrially manufactured sea salt in regard to flavor, nutrition, and sustainability. The many varieties of gourmet salts available today are broken into 7 families (fleur de sel, sel gris, flake salt, traditional salt, shio, rock salt, smoked and infused salts), with helpful charts that make finding the right salt for the right food convenient and easy. The modern, but down-to-earth recipes are organized into practical chapters: Meat, Poultry, Seafood, Eggs and Dairy, Vegetables and Fruits, Sweets, and Drinks and Cocktails. Beyond the recipes, the tips, techniques, and suggestions will help you elevate your tried and true favorite dishes by now using the correct type of salt. Craft salts are not a fad, they are the heart and soul of our food culture today." (From Publisher)
 This cookbook is gorgeous!!! I love the pictures as much as I love the recipes.  I love that these recipes are doable and something that you would make - rather than just a nice-to-look at coffee table book.  I do not know much about salt, other than there is more than one type of salt, so it is nice how Bitterman lays out the information.  The first bit of the book is a little history and science of salt. I look forward to cooking with different varieties of salt!

Written by Erin Gleeson
September 2016; 256 Pages
Harry N. Abrams
Genre: cooking, foodie, nonfiction, vegetarian, hosting, parties

 (I received an ARC from the NETGALLEY in exchange for an honest review.)

"When food photographer and stylist Erin Gleeson left New York City to live in a cabin in the woods of northern California, she started the blog The Forest Feast to document her vegetable-centric, seasonal approach to cooking. Her readers are drawn to her healthy recipes that anyone can make—dishes that are easy enough to prepare after a long day at work, yet impressive enough for a party—as well as to her visually stunning photography and watercolors. Erin handwrites each recipe over her photos to create diagram-like, step-by-step instructions that are vibrant, unique, and most important, easy to cook from.

Erin’s recipes have always been ideal for entertaining, but now in The Forest Feast Gatherings she offers detailed guidance on hosting casual, yet thoughtful, get-togethers from start to finish with recipes that serve 6 to 8. The book offers 100 new, innovative vegetarian recipes, along with some fan favorites from the blog, arranged in a series of artfully designed menus that are tailored around specific occasions and seasons—whether a summer dinner party, a laid-back brunch, a vegan and gluten-free gathering, or holiday cocktails" (From Publisher)
 OMG, how gorgeous is this cooking and hosting book?! There are great photographs and watercolors that just make this book amazing.  I like how the book is laid out by season and party type. It seems like you are looking through someone's personal recipe journal.   Nothing is overdone or too hard.  It makes me want to buy a cabin and throw parties!  One of the things I have been thinking about is going semi-vegetarian (still eating fish and chicken).  This book might just entice me to eat more veggies too. Excuse me, while I go follow Erin Gleeson's blog

I promise if I try any of the recipes I will try and feature it on the blog!

k (My Novelesque Life)

Flashbulb Friday (Quick Review): Escapism

Found on Pinterest
Written and Photos by Candice Lee
2016; 160 Pages
LYC Media 
Genre: poetry, photography, nonfiction

(I received an ARC from the AUTHOR in exchange for an honest review.)
★ 1/2
 "This is a story about love and loss. This full-color book is a collection of poems and landscape photographs--all written, shot, and arranged by the author.
Composed in the style of a memoir, she shares her experiences through words and photos. This window into her emotions reveals the dark side of love as it narrates the journey through relationships, friendships, it's-complicated-ships, and self-identity. But really, it's a story about finding beauty in pain through growth." (From Publisher)

 For the past year I have been sharing my own poetry and personal essays on this blog and have come to discover a lot about myself.  I have been an extremely private person so putting myself out to the world was one of the scariest things I did.  Yet, it was very rewarding and freeing,  I realize I am not alone and I have an important role in this world.  Candice Lee also put herself out there with this poetry collection, which I greatly admire. Candice also displays her photography which is so gorgeous! I love landscapes so I spent some time just looking at them first.  It's hard to give this kind of book a rating as it's someone's journey in life.  For the photography I would have given this book a 4.5 rating.  The poetry in this book is honest, but at times lacks a bit of cohesion.  It is more like a free flow type of exercise.  Still very interesting to peruse through.

k (My Novelesque Life)

Thursday, 10 November 2016

Quick Review: MUST READ Picture Book!

I just finished reading Madeline Finn and the Library Dog and wow what a beautiful book!  I loved both the illustrations and pictures and had to share a.s.a.p with you lovely readers!

Written and Illustrated by Lisa Papp
October 2016; 32 Pages
Peachtree Publishers
Genre: picture book, children's, learning to read

(I received an ARC from the EDELWEISS in exchange for an honest review.)


"Madeline Finn DOES NOT like to read. Not books. Not magazines. Not even the menu on the ice cream truck." 
 Madeline Finn does not like to read, but she does want the star that her teacher gives to students that read well.  She always gets the "keep trying" heart sticker.  She tries hard to study on her own but the words do not come to her.  Then one day at the library she is introduced to Bonnie the dog.  The Librarian asks Madeline Finn to please read to Bonnie to keep her company.  At first she is nervous but when she makes a mistake and Bonnie doesn't laugh but instead gives her full attention.  With Bonnie's help the words begin to fall into place and she can read! Will Madeline Finn be able to read out loud in class and finally get her star?

I loved the picture on the cover and the illustrations inside are breathtaking.  Most pages would make great postcard pictures.  The story is adorable but also perfect for parents of children who maybe cannot read.  I think the message is beautifully written and I hope that this books falls in the hands of other Madeline Finns.  

k (My Novelesque Life)

Wednesday, 9 November 2016

Quick Review: Angels Burning

Written by Tawni O'Dell
2016; 288 Pages
Gallery Books
Genre: fiction, literary, psychological, mystery

(I received an ARC from the NETGALLEY in exchange for an honest review.)


"On the surface, Chief Dove Carnahan is a true trailblazer who would do anything to protect the rural Pennsylvanian countryside where she has lived all fifty of her years. Traditional and proud of her blue-collar sensibilities, Dove is loved by her community. But beneath her badge lies a dark and self-destructive streak, fed by a secret she has kept since she was sixteen.

When a girl is beaten to death, her body tossed down a fiery sinkhole in an abandoned coal town, Dove is faced with solving the worst crime of her law enforcement career. She identifies the girl as a daughter of the Truly family, a notoriously irascible dynasty of rednecks and petty criminals.

During her investigation, the man convicted of killing Dove’s mother years earlier is released from prison. Still proclaiming his innocence, he approaches Dove with a startling accusation and a chilling threat that forces her to face the parallels between her own family’s trauma and that of the Trulys." (From Publisher)

Tawni O'Dell's first novel, Back Roads is one of my favourite books.  I have read it a few times, and even listened to it on audio! It is a dark story but also so realistic and very well-written.  O'Dell also has this dark humour that balances the book and keeps it from getting too depressing.  The "heroes" of her novels are always so interesting as they are not what you would expect.  I read O'Dell's second and third books and liked them but they lacked the punch of Back Roads.  I had a chance to read and review this book, but went in with no expectations...punch! Dove reminds me a lot of Harley - an older sibling trying to take care of the little ones, while trying to grow up themselves.  Right off you feel for them, but come to realize there is so much more to them. The secrets and mystery are key to the novel's allure but it is the characters who will stay in your mind.  Highly recommend this book!

k (My Novelesque Life)

WCW: Wollstonecraft Women

By Charlotte Gordon
2015; 672 Pages
Random House Publishing Group
Genre: history, literature, authors, feminist, biography

(I received an ARC from the NETGALLEY in exchange for an honest review.)

I was in my first year of college taking my second English course, the Romantic Period, that I first heard of Wollstonecraft and Shelley.  For me, this was a difficult course but yet one of the most interesting classes.  I read Frankenstein by Mary Shelley and immensely enjoyed the Gothic tale.  It was amazing to know that a women wrote such a brilliant horror tale.  Then I learned that Mary Shelley was the daughter of writer, Mary Wollstonecraft.  Wollstonecraft wrote A Vindication of the Rights of Woman which I inhaled for a class assignment.  Since reading some of their works, I have added everything else to my tbr list. And, then I saw this biography and knew I had to get my hands on it. 

"Although mother and daughter, these two brilliant women never knew one another – Wollstonecraft died of an infection in 1797 at the age of thirty-eight, a week after giving birth. Nevertheless their lives were so closely intertwined, their choices, dreams and tragedies so eerily similar, it seems impossible to consider one without the other.

Both women became famous writers; fell in love with brilliant but impossible men; and were single mothers who had children out of wedlock; both lived in exile; fought for their position in society; and thought deeply about how we should live. And both women broke almost every rigid convention there was to break: Wollstonecraft chased pirates in Scandinavia. Shelley faced down bandits in Naples. Wollstonecraft sailed to Paris to witness the Revolution. Shelley eloped in a fishing boat with a married man. Wollstonecraft proclaimed that women’s liberty should matter to everyone.

Not only did Wollstonecraft declare the rights of women, her work ignited Romanticism. She inspired Coleridge, Wordsworth and a whole new generation of writers, including her own daughter, who – with her young lover Percy Shelley – read Wollstonecraft’s work aloud by her graveside. At just nineteen years old and a new mother herself, Mary Shelley composed Frankenstein whilst travelling around Italy with Percy and roguish Lord Byron (who promptly fathered a child by Mary’s stepsister). It is a seminal novel, exploring the limitations of human nature and the power of invention at a time of great religious and scientific upheaval. Moreover, Mary Shelley would become the editor of her husband’s poetry after his early death – a feat of scholarship that did nothing less than establish his literary reputation." (From publisher)
 I actually read this book April 2015, before the published date, but I could not write a review.  Every time I sat down to write something I felt like it wasn't good enough.  How do I review two women I admire so greatly- as a reader, writer and feminist?  It's daunting but I would rather give it a try and let people know how much  loved this book.  This book is 600+ pages and I read this in 3 days! There is a lot of information but it reads like a novel.  Gordon does a great job combining storytelling and facts.  This is what I would want to read when I was in history classes.  She is able to bring both women to life and made me even more thirsty for information.  Next year I want to read more about and from mother and daughter.  I also would love to read something else by Charlotte Gordon as her writing skills are remarkable.



Critically acclaimed author Charlotte Gordon's newest book is Romantic Outlaws: The Extraordinary Lives of Mary Wollstonecraft and Her Daughter Mary Shelley. Earlier works include Mistress Bradstreet: The Untold Story of America's First Poet — a Massachusetts Honor book for non-fiction — and The Woman Who Named God: Abraham's Dilemma and the Birth of Three Faiths. In 2012, she was selected as the 2012 Rose Thering Fellow by the Lubar Institute for the Study of Abrahamic Religions at the University of Wisconsin, Madison.

Her essays have appeared in various publications, including The Cambridge Companion to Early American Poetry, Harvard Magazine, The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal. She has also published two books of poetry: When the Grateful Dead Came to St. Louis and Two Girls on a Raft.

A graduate of Harvard College, she received a master's degree in creative writing and a Ph.D. in history and literature from Boston University. She has been a frequent guest on NPR and the CBC, including spots on Weekend Edition and The Current. From 1999-2002 she was Elie Wiesel's teaching assistant at Boston University. Currently, she is an Associate Professor of English at Endicott College.

For more information on Charlotte Gordon and Romantic Outlaws check out the author's website.

k (My Novelesque Life)

WCW: The First Mrs. Einstein

I have been hard at work in getting my new website up and running.  I have been planning and learning things beyond my capacity.  I am hoping that if all goes well I can launch on January 1, 2017.  In the meantime, I will still be posting reviews, but to a lesser extent.  I am happy to announce a new feature called, Woman Crush Wednesday.  I hope to showcase great women in books - whether real or created characters.  And on to the review...

Written by Marie Benedict
October 18, 2016; 304 Pages
Sourcebooks Landmark
Genre: historical fiction, fictionalized biography

(I received an ARC from the NETGALLEY in exchange for an honest review.)


While I do not understand physics and mathematics, I have always been fascinated by the women and men who excel in the field.  Einstein has always seemed like a fascinating character, but I have not actually read anything on him. Other than him being brilliant I have not heart much about his personality.  When I saw this novelized biography of Einstein's first wife I figured, why not?

Mileva “Mitza” Marić at the age of 20, went to Zürich University to get her degree in physics.  In 1896, women were getting married and having children, as their family dictated.  Mitza's father sees his daughter only excelling in school.  It is due to his efforts to get her educated that she attends an elite school that has not let many women through their doors.  Once accepted into the program she must also get the acceptance of her peers and professors.  With her brilliant mind and hard work she is able to impress fellow student, Albert Einstein.  As the two study together they become closer and Mitza must decide if she can be a wife and a scientist.  

I had not heard of Mileve Maric before I read this novel, and it has been my loss.  This women with a slight limp and a powerful mind is a true inspiration woman.  I can only imagine how much she must have endured in her life to do something she was good at but was frowned upon. Also, her limp has been brought up a few times in the book.  It has been equated to a deformity.  It seems a bit harsh but that was what it was like in those times, and what some people thought.  Since finishing the novel, I have Googled to find more information and hope to find a biography to read.  

Now, the novel is based on real people but it is a fictionalized version.  Benedict has taken liberties with the facts to write a beautiful novel.  I started this novel on Saturday night but had work the next day so I had to put it aside.  Once I got home, I read till I finished the book.  Then with every book that touched me, I held it while I processed it all through my mind.  Benedict has a way of taking a reader to the time and place of the setting but also into the mind of the characters.  I went in thinking I would learn a bit more about Einstein but instead came away with great admiration for Mitza. This novel is about Mitza, not Albert, so you get her perspective and and her life.  Albert was portrayed as a bit of a...jerk.  That is because using facts, Benedict has given us Mitza's side of the story.   I know some readers had a problem with this novel not be more "factual" about the Einsteins.  For me, I love a good story...if it is a fictionalized story of a real person it leads me to read a biography or memoir.  I read this book for entertainment, if you will, and The Other Einstein delivers!




Ms. Benedict has been kind enough to provide My Novelesque Life with a guest post! I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

THE OTHER EINSTEIN: Researching and Writing
By Marie Benedict

 When I first decided that I would write THE OTHER EINSTEIN, a novel about Mileva Maric who was Albert Einstein’s first wife and a physicist herself, I rolled up my sleeves and dug into the research. This deep dive into the past, utilizing original source material if I can get my hands on it, is one of my favorite aspects of writing historical fiction and the closest step I can take into the time portal I dreamed about in my childhood. I adore losing myself in the minutiae of the daily life of historical figures so that I answer long-held questions about their roles in the past, in this case understanding Mileva’s part in Albert’s four most ground-breaking theories.

But this time was different. This time, finding original source material about my character was unusually challenging. And this was a hurdle I hadn’t expected given that my character — based on the real-life woman Mileva Maric — was married to one of the world’s most famous and written-about men during the most prolific period in his life.
Countless tomes about the iconic Albert Einstein sat on the shelves of bookstores and libraries that I visited. Those books sometimes referenced Mileva Maric, but only rarely with any specificity or detail. A few wonderful books emerged which gave me information about Mileva and the world from whence she came, among them Einstein in Love: A Scientific Romance by Dennis Overbye, In Albert’s Shadow: The Life and Letters of Mileva Maric by Milan Popovic, and Einstein’s Daughter: The Search for Lieserl by Michele Zackheim. But otherwise, it was hard to find information about Mileva. Why was this, I wondered. Was it because people had their gaze so firmly fixed on the man that they forgot to look at the woman bolstering him?
I rejoiced when I found Mileva’s letters, which can now be found in Albert Einstein/Mileva Maric: The Love Letters by Jurgen Renn and Robert Schulman and Reading Mileva’s own words to Albert, her best friend Helene and a few others, I came to understand her brilliant, insatiably curious mind as well as the unsure, naive woman who lurked behind it. I began to see how a woman as intelligent as Melissa might also be emotionally insecure enough — due to a childhood and young adulthood without friends or romantic ties due to her unusually sharp mind and physical defect — to withstand certain unacceptable behavior from the mercurial Albert. It was this particular research that allowed me to excavate Mileva Maric from the past.


When I did a little research on Marie Benedict, I discovered she also writes under the name of Heather Terrell.  And, even better I had read (and liked!) her novel, The Chrysalis.  

Marie Benedict is a lawyer with more than ten years' experience as a litigator at two of the country's premier law firms. She is a magna cum laude graduate of Boston College with a focus in History and Art History, and a cum laude graduate of the Boston University School of Law. While practicing as a lawyer, Marie dreamed of a fantastical job unearthing the hidden historical stories of women -- and finally found it when she tried her hand at writing. She embarked on a new, narratively connected series of historical novels with THE OTHER EINSTEIN, which tells the tale of Albert Einstein's first wife, a physicist herself, and the role she might have played in his theories. Writing as Heather Terrell, Marie also published the historical novels The Chrysalis, The Map Thief, and Brigid of Kildare.

What’s the best thing about being a writer?
As a child, I always adored books in which the characters found a doorway to the past and got to lose themselves in another time and place. I wanted to be those characters. Now, as a writer, I get to fulfill that childhood fantasy of traveling to the past by walking through the doorway of my fiction.
What are you currently working on?
Right now, [in addition to THE OTHER EINSTEIN} I am researching and writing CARNEGIE'S MAID, the story of Andrew Carnegie's early years and manner in which the women in his life, his mother's lady's maid in particular, changed the trajectory of his meteoric rise to turn him into the world's first philanthropist.
How do you get inspired to write?
Because my writing focuses on the untold stories of women throughout history, the inspiration for my writing usually comes from historical research and reading that I undertake regularly. Once I dig into the research, I operate almost like a archaeologist, unearthing the story from the detritus of history where it was buried.
Where did you get the idea for your most recent book?
To be perfectly honest, until recently, I had only the most commonplace knowledge of Albert Einstein and had never even heard of his first wife, Mileva Maric. But then, one day, I helped my son Jack with a report on the wonderful Scholastic children's book Who Was Albert Einstein?, and it mentioned briefly that Albert Einstein's first wife was a physicist. I became intrigued. I wondered who was this woman, a physicist when very few women even had university educations. And I became curious about the role she might have played in the great scientist's discoveries. Once I dug into the research about Mileva and her life, the idea for THE OTHER EINSTEIN was born.

To keep in touch with Marie Benedict and what she is working on, please follow her on FACEBOOK!

k (My Novelesque Life)