Wednesday, October 31st, 2012
Thanks to the kindness of friends, the next three Thursdays will all be give-away Thursdays. I have three books for you, all very different. They are:
— Juliana Gray’s A Gentleman Never Tells, the follow-up to her phenomenal debut historical romance A Lady Never Lies, set in nineteenth century Tuscany;
— Alison Pace’s book of essays, You Tell Your Dog First, her first foray into nonfiction after a series of successful contemporary novels which include If Andy Warhol Had a Girlfriend and Pug Hill;
— and, last but not least, a signed copy of Andrea Penrose’s The Cocoa Conspiracy, second in her sprightly Regency mystery series, complete with recipes.
I’ll be giving away A Gentleman Never Tells on 11/1, You Tell Your Dog First on 11/8 and The Cocoa Conspiracy on 11/15. Stay tuned for more details!
Wednesday, October 31st, 2012
It feels a little odd and almost a little wrong to be going back to normal things like Halloween after the upheaval of the storm. To all those still struggling with the aftermath, my thoughts are with you.
Apologies for the disruption to the usual schedule here on the site! Teaser Tuesday will return as usual next week with one of my favorite snippets from The Ashford Affair.
In the meantime, just a reminder that this is the last day to enter the contest for an advance copy of The Ashford Affair! The winner will be announced tomorrow.
Wishing you all a happy and spooky Halloween!
Monday, October 29th, 2012
With the winds howling outside my window, I was tempted to detour this “if you like” into something about storms– but it’s hard to think of “like” and “storm” in the same phrase just now, so, instead, I’m going with the original plan: Halloween movies.
Every year, I put on my princess dress, fill my old plastic pumpkin with candy (in case of trick or treaters) and settle down for some scary movies. So far, we’ve gone through:
— House on Haunted Hill, the remake, with Geoffrey Rush, which was sufficiently low gore and high ghost to keep me happy;
— The Haunting, the 1960’s adaptation of The Haunting of Hill House, fairly faithful to the book;
— The Haunting, the 90s remake, brilliantly cast, but otherwise what on earth were they thinking?;
— Waxwork, a wonderfully hokey 80s horror movie in which college students get sucked into various spooky scenarios via a haunted wax museum;
— House of Wax, a classic Vincent Price vehicle;
— Thirteen Ghosts, the remake, with the guy who plays Monk, like The House on Haunted Hill, reasonably creepy and low gore, with a comprehensible underlying plot thread (I hate it when horror movies have no plot);
— The Cabin In The Woods, Joss Whedon’s meta horror movie, which has clever dialogue and definitely does get you thinking about the nature and rationale of horror movies– but didn’t have that Halloween ghost story feel, probably because of the meta.
This year, we’re watching an old favorite of mine, The Uninvited, a classic ghost story set in an old house in Cornwall.
What would you recommend for Halloween watching?
Friday, October 26th, 2012
With less than a week until Halloween, my reading has been skewing heavily towards ghost stories… with one surprise discovery. Here’s what I’ve been reading:
— Julie Kagawa, The Iron King.
How did I not discover this book before? It’s the amalgamation of all the folk-lore based fantasy novels I read in my youth, featuring warring faerie courts and a half-mortal girl pulled into the middle of it all. It was quite definitely a stay up half the night read.
— Shirley Jackson, The Haunting of Hill House.
It’s Halloween reading time! Every year, I re-read Shirley Jackson’s Haunting of Hill House. Is it a ghost story? Is it a non-paranormal portrait of an individual’s descent into madness? Either way, it still gives me chills.
— John Harwood, The Ghost Writer.
This modern/Victorian hybrid scared me silly last year. Now that I know the plot twists, I didn’t have to sleep with the lights on this time, but it’s still fairly creeptastic and very well written. The juxtaposition of modern narrative and Victorian ghost stories provides a two-in-one feel. Also recommended: The Seance.
— Barbara Michaels, Here I Stay.
An old favorite, featuring a woman who inherits a (haunted?) house and turns it into a bed and breakfast.
— Barbara Michaels, Stitches in Time.
Once you pop, you can’t stop– or something like that. Another well-beloved Barbara Michaels, in this case involving a grad student and a haunted quilt.
What have you been reading?
Tuesday, October 23rd, 2012
Part of the fun of writing The Ashford Affair was getting to design my own imaginary English great house: Ashford Park.
Even more interesting? Figuring out how a modern American woman would react to learning that her grandmother had grown up in such a place.
Here, for your amusement, is the snippet from Chapter Two of The Ashford Affair where my modern heroine, Clemmie, first discovers that there’s far more to her grandmother’s past than she knew:
Monday, October 22nd, 2012
If you like Kate Morton’s The Secret Keeper, you’ll probably like:
— Her three other books: The House at Riverton, The Forgotten Garden, and The Distant Hours (if you haven’t read these yet, you’re in for a treat);
— The Ashford Affair: I usually try to leave my books out of these, but some of the booksellers who read advance copies of both told me that they were struck by similarities between The Ashford Affair and The Secret Keeper (I haven’t read Secret Keeper yet, so I’m very curious to see what they mean);
— Lucinda Riley’s The Orchid House, also partly set around World War II, going back and forth between mid-century and modern Britain;
— Natasha Solomon’s The House at Tyneford, also set around World War II, although without the back and forth component;
— Harriet Evans’s Love Always, which goes back and forth between the 1960s and the present as a modern woman untangles the secret that has changed her family forever;
— Susanna Kearsley’s Season of Storms, in which a mystery dating back to World War II Venice and beyond still haunts the present;
— Diane Setterfield’s The Thirteenth Tale, which is much darker than Morton’s books, but has similar Gothic overtones.
What would you recommend to fans of Kate Morton?
Friday, October 19th, 2012
This week, I treated myself to a bunch of books I’ve been wanting for a while:
— Pamela Morsi, The Lovesick Cure.
A sweet, heartwarming romance set in the Ozarks. It reminded me of both Kristan Higgins’s and Susan Elizabeth Phillips’s books, with as much focus on the supporting characters as on the central couple. Part of the strength of the book was how well it captured that giddy, beginning of relationship feeling once the hero and heroine realize that they’re it for each other.
— Kathleen Gilles Seidel, Summer’s End.
This book was like crack. I stayed up well into the wee hours on a night when I shouldn’t reading it from cover to cover. Although it has a romance component (a former Olympic gold medalist and the son of the woman her widower father has just married), it’s really the portrait of a family learning how to heal and reunite during a time of stress and change.
— Rosemary Clement-Moore, Texas Gothic.
I hoard my Rosemary Clement-Moore books, trying to eke them out. Since she has a new one coming out in May, I decided I could finally indulge and let myself read Texas Gothic. Like the Maggie Quinn books, this one features a sensible, smart-talking heroine who finds herself dealing with the abnormal. Perfect for just before Halloween….
— Barbara Michaels, The Walker in Shadows.
And since we’re getting into my Halloween theme-reading time, I trotted out a favorite old Barbara Michaels to start my ghost story marathon going: unquiet spirits from the American Civil War haunt a pair of Gothic houses in Maryland.
I have no idea what to pick up next. Possibly another Barbara Michaels, like Here I Stay, or I might splurge and get myself Kate Morton’s The Secret Keeper.
What have you been reading?
Thursday, October 18th, 2012
Elsewhere on the web this week, we have:
— A contest over on Jo Bourne’s site for a signed copy of The Orchid Affair. The best part? In order to win, entrants must each submit a poem using certain key words from the book description. The poems are hilarious. Pop over here and check it out!
— Pink Carnation-themed Artist’s Trading Cards! Check out these gorgeous Pink Carnation, Black Tulip and Emerald Ring inspired creations by Caroline over on her website, Glitter Tart Designs. Beautiful, no? The Emerald Ring one is my favorite. Which do you like best?
— Finally (okay, this is here on the web, not elsewhere on the web), just a reminder that the Ashford Affair ARC contest is still up and running! Just go to the Contest page for a chance to win an advance reader’s copy of The Ashford Affair. The winner will be announced November 1.