Friday, May 29, 2009

Guest Author - Kathryne Kennedy


By Kathryne Kennedy
ISBN: 978-0-505-52764-6
Leisure Love Spell
Historical Fantasy Romance

Grimspell castle. With its dark, imposing stone walls, it certainly looked haunted. As a ghost-hunter, Lady Philomena was accustomed to restless spirits. But she found the dark, imposing nature of the castle's owner far more haunting than any specter. London Society might not approve of shape-shifters such as Sir Nicodemus Wulfson, but firmly-on-the-shelf Philomena rather enjoyed the young baronet's sudden interest in sniffing around her skirts. She'd even consider giving in to him altogether if not for a murderer on the loose-a beast that might just be Nico himself.

Read the first chapter, watch the book video, and read more reviews at: http://www.kathrynekennedy.com/EnchantingtheBeast.html

Enter to win a 5-carat London blue topaz princess-style necklace at: http://www.kathrynekennedy.com/contest.html

Read the author’s interview with the hero: http://www.dorchesterpub.com/Dorch/SpecialFeatures.cfm?Special_ID=2667

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Thursday, May 28, 2009

Author Guest Post - Tanya Egan Gibson

Readers, please join me welcoming Author Tanya Egan Gibson who will be guest blogging here today!

About the Book
Did you know that less than a third of 13-year olds are readers? As a former high school English teacher, Tanya Egan Gibson was well aware of this gloomy statistic. But she was still flabbergasted when a bright student told her, “It’s not your fault, Mrs. Gibson—I’ve just never read a book I liked.”

In her debut novel, HOW TO BUY A LOVE OF READING (Dutton, May 2009, $25.95), Gibson introduces readers to Carley Wells, a teen just like the one in her classroom, who never met a book she liked. Carley’s nouveau riche parents, distraught at the prospect of looming college applications, decide to fix this by commissioning a book to be written just for Carley, a book she’ll have to love, one that will impress their entire wealthy Long Island town with their devotion to the arts. They will buy their daughter a love of reading.

*********************
BOOKS AS FUN
By Tanya Egan Gibson
As I searched archival films from the nineteen-forties through -sixties for footage to use in a funny book trailer for my upcoming novel, How To Buy a Love of Reading, I chuckled at the depictions of readers and reading that made them seem as exciting as Brussels sprouts (and as humorless).  One of Coronet’s “instructional films” shows a student library volunteer—who patently aspires to the position of hall monitor—repeatedly denying a classmate’s pleas to keep an overdue book out one more day with, “I can’t.  It’s a rule.”  The narrator of another film proclaims that the purpose of leisure reading is to “learn things you’d like to know about many subjects.”

Fifty or so years later, for many people reading still appears that boring.  The protagonist of my novel, teenage Carley Wells, thinks it’s stultifying.  She’s learned from her parents that people read books or pretend to read them to impress other people.  She’s learned from school that books are supposed to be dissected into symbols and metaphors and other literary devices, like “fetal pigs.” According to the most recent NEA study on reading, while overall reading is on the rise, we’re becoming a nation divided into two categories: readers (like you, I presume, since you’re reading a book blog) and nonreaders like Carley.

Convincing non-reading children or spouses or friends to read isn’t easy. For one thing, it’s hard to show non-readers the appeal of reading through visual means like TV or movies. (The one Coronet film that tried to depict, through diagrams, the act of words entering a boy’s head on lines that went from the page to his eyes to his brain made him look as if he were being impaled by language.)  For another, because we often speak about books—especially “literary fiction”—in terms of their import or seriousness, we end up deemphasizing the very qualities that people seek when looking for a diversion: the ability to entertain and the potential for emotional engagement.  Simply put, we don’t make reading sound fun.

As a writer, reader, and former high school English teacher, I believe that while there are a thousand other good reasons to read—reasons ranging from the intellectual to the practical to the spiritual—fun is always the most important one.

Thank you for that entertaining post, dear Author! Readers, your thoughts / comments are most welcome.

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Wednesday, May 27, 2009

MATING RITUALS OF THE NORTH AMERICAN WASP by Lauren Lipton

Mating Rituals of the North American WASP
By Lauren Lipton
368 p, 5 Spot, ISBN: 978-0446197977


Lauren Lipton returns with a romantic comedy about two seemingly mismatched strangers who fall in love and get married—but not exactly in that order.

New Yorker Peggy Adams is upset when she wakes up next to a strange man after a night in Las Vegas she can't remember...but she's horrified when she discovers she has married him! Luke Sedgwick is WASP royalty, the last of the New Nineveh, Connecticut, Sedgwicks. He might also have been perfect, if Peggy weren't already "pre-engaged" to her live-in boyfriend (with a promise ring to prove it). Peggy and Luke agree to get an annulment ASAP—and then receive an offer they can't refuse.

Luke's eccentric Great-aunt Abigail offers the two the chance to make millions on the family estate: All they have to do is stay married for a year. Peggy is soon pretending to be one-half of the perfect couple among New England's WASPy set on the weekends, while keeping her marriage a secret in New York during the week. But she isn't prepared for what might be her worst mistake of all: Falling in love with her soon-to-be ex-husband.

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Monday, May 25, 2009

Author Guest Post - Kristina Riggle (Giveaway!)

Kristina Riggle
352 p, Harper Collins, 0061706280
About the Book
As a wilted flower child, Mira Zielinski has never been one to follow orders. Not from her husband, not from her boss - not even from her oncologist. Mira has her own idea about handling her newly diagnosed breast cancer, and it does not involve hopping up on the operating table. Her grown children will no doubt object -- when she gets around to telling them.

As they come home for the weekend of Mira and Max's thirty-fifth wedding anniversary party, her kids harbor some secret trials. Middle child Ivan's lifelong desire to be a songwriter is withering on the vine after years of futility and his dating haplessness is so familiar, it's almost a family joke. The impulsive and very young youngest child Irina will walk in the door with a surprise groom, though she's already looking for the escape hatch in her shiny new marriage. As for the oldest, Katya, let's just say that it would be a relief if her husband's big secret were just the affair she suspects he's having. As these trials unfold, certain family truths come to light but will they shake Mira's resolve?

Guest Post

Anne Tyler is my literary hero.

I ran across a copy of Breathing Lessons for 25 cents at a garage sale when I was a teen-ager, and in the years since, I've re-read it countless times. This book showed me that it was not only possible to write about inner lives in a compelling way, but possible to do so beautifully. The characters in her Pulitzer Prize winning book were a whole generation older than me at the time (except, of course, in flashback to their own youth) and now I'm catching up to them, so the book has new layers of richness for me each time I read it. I remain a fan of Ms. Tyler. My recent favorite of hers would have to be Digging to America, another chronicle of family life, in this case, two starkly different families brought together by chance and the unique experience of adoption.

Despite this, I lost faith for a while in the draw of internal stories. Rather, I lost faith that such supposedly "quiet" stories could find a place in today's publishing world. I tried writing a "noisier" story, and it wasn't fun, and it didn't turn out great, either.

A family story kept calling to me, a story about messed up grown kids – Katya, Ivan and Irina -- coming home for an anniversary party and the shocking secret awaiting them there, courtesy of their unconventional hippie mother, Mira.

And so that's what I did. I won't flatter myself to think I've achieved the heights of Anne Tyler's craft in a first novel. But I remembered all I loved about that book and others like it and I wrote Real Life & Liars for an audience of one: me. It's just my kind of book. Lucky for me, it was also my agent's kind of book, my editor's kind, and early readers have already started to embrace it as well.

I think one reason we love stories of families struggling with themselves and each other is that we're all a little screwed up! You don't have to be mired in a stale marriage with spoiled kids like Katya, or the perpetual family loser in love and career like Ivan, or a beauty who flits through life carelessly to hide a feeling of worthlessness, like Irina. Whatever your particular foible, be it large or small, it's a comfort to see this frailty reflected in a novel, especially when the characters begin to take steps to break old patterns at last.

Thanks for dropping by to see me today. So tell me, what are your favorite books celebrating the drama of inner lives?

-----------

Kristina Riggle, freelance journalist and author of the novel Real Life & Liars, available June 16, 2009 from Avon/HarperCollins

Sign up for my newsletter at http://www.kristinariggle.net

Thank you for that insightful post, Kristina. It's always intriguing to see the road to one becoming a writer! Readers, your comments are most welcome!

What's your answer to Kristina's question? You may just win a copy of this book if you're lucky enough!

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GIVEAWAY

To Enter
  • Just leave a comment with your email address in the body of the comment saying : What are your favorite books celebrating the drama of inner lives?
  • Only comments containing both pieces of info (the answer of the question above and your email address) will be considered. 
  • Your email address will only be used to contact you in case you're the lucky winner.
Deadline   Midnight CST of June 8, 2009.

Please read the Disclaimer. Good luck!


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Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Author Guest Post - Matt Rees

Readers, please join me welcoming Matt Beynon Rees, Author of The Omar Yussef Mysteries, who will be guest blogging here again today!

*********************
Baksheeshed to the Bone
By Matt Beynon Rees

It turns out Jesus was right. I know, because I found a Good Samaritan.

Really, he was a good guy, and he actually was a Samaritan. There’re still a few of them about.

In January, my new Palestinian crime novel THE SAMARITAN’S SECRET was about to be published. To help promote it, I decided to film a video clip using many of the locations from the story, much of which unfolds on a West Bank hilltop where the last remnants of the ancient Samaritan tribe live. There are just 370 of them, high above the violent city of Nablus, near the site where they believe their ancient Temple stood.


My friend videographer David Blumenfeld and I headed from our homes in Jerusalem to shoot the video. The day before I’d spoken with a Samaritan priest to arrange some meetings and to be sure the enclosure around the Temple wouldn’t be locked.

“That depends on the money,” he said, in Hebrew. (The Samaritans mainly speak Arabic, but they also have Israeli i.d. cards and speak Hebrew. On their Sabbath, they speak nothing but Samaritan, which they believe is ancient Hebrew.)

As a journalist, I’m not accustomed to paying to interview people. “How much?” I asked.

“How much do you think?” he ventured.

Oh, no, we’re about to get all Middle Eastern, I thought. I hate haggling. “Well, let’s say 200 shekels.” That’s about 60 bucks.

He scoffed. “A thousand.”

I made noises to show that such a figure was painful to me. “Five hundred.”

“Five hundred,” he said. “See you tomorrow.”

When we reached the village, Kiryat Luza, the day was clear and sunny. The priest met us at the museum he set up in his living room and we filmed a few scenes alongside his trove of photos and old documents. Before we’d finished, he took out a receipt book: “I’ll do your receipt, shall I? What did we say? A thousand, wasn’t it?”

“No, it was five hundred.”

He started to tell me about how much work we were making him do. I gave him seven hundred and let it go.

Now, the priest was supposed to open the gates to the Temple compound for us. But somehow, after I’d paid him, that duty was delegated to another fellow. As we filmed, he complained that he needed to go home and eat. (The Samaritan village is about the sleepiest place I’ve ever seen. If anybody up there had anything pressing to do that necessitated hurrying me along, I’d have been very, very surprised.)

So as we left I gave him 100 shekels and thanked him with my warmest collection of Arabic words of praise.

“Something for the other guy,” he said, pointing at a figure lurking near the gate. “He had to wait too.”

I peeled off 20 shekels more. It hadn’t been this bad since I was first in the Middle East as an innocent 19-year-old, shucked for “baksheesh” by every Egyptian within a mile of the Great Pyramid.

David and I had filmed for four hours in a ridiculously hot January sun. I had read my cue-cards in five different languages, and I’d been fleeced until the leather on my wallet started to look raw. Sustenance was in order. We went down the slope to the village to look for food.

“The Good Samaritan Restaurant” would’ve been a good bet, you’d have thought. But it serves no food – only whisky.

Next door, the “Guests and Tourists Paradise” was open. Three men smoked cigarettes lazily at one of the tables.

“Is it possible to eat?” I asked.

A tall, thin young man rose and welcomed us. We sat and took a couple of Cokes from the fridge. There was much muttering among the three smokers. Two of them disappeared up the street. “I think they’ve gone home to get Mamma to make our lunch,” I said to David. Certainly no cooking took place in the kitchen at the back of the restaurant.

The tall man smiled and nodded. We waited…and waited. But the food did come, and it was good.

As we left, the young man told me his name was Samih. His father was the High Priest of the Samaritans. He gave me a free poster with historical information about the Samaritans and smiled very broadly. Then he counted out my exact change.

I left a nice tip.

Matt Beynon Rees’s latest Palestinian crime novel The Samaritan’s Secret is published by Soho Press. His website is www.mattbeynonrees.com

Thank you for that entertaining post, dear Author! Readers, your thoughts / comments are most welcome.

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Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Book Excerpt - A Little Light Magic by Joy Nash

A Little Light Magic by Joy Nash
336 p, Leisure Books (May 26, 2009), ISBN-10: 050552693X

Chapter 1

Nick Santangelo checked his watch as he climbed the cracked concrete steps. Five twenty-nine. Right on time and this couldn't take long--there was a mountain of paper he had to move across his desk before tomorrow. Mentally, he plotted out his evening. Two minutes to explain he couldn't do the job, five to drive home and grab a sandwich, fifteen to get back to his office in Atlantic City.

He rapped on the frame of a battered screen door.

"Hello?"

No answer.

He pounded again, harder this time. "Hello?"

"What? Oh! Just a minute."

The door opened. "Hi," a breathless voice said. "Can I help you?"

Nick opened his mouth to answer, then took a good look at the woman standing in the doorway and shut it again.

She wasn't at all what he'd expected.

Not that he'd been expecting anything. But if he had been expecting something, it wouldn't have been a freckled pixie with wild black curls and streaks of silver paint smudged across her nose. Her eyes were green, her skin was flushed, and her full red lips drove every thought out of his head and straight to his groin.

Oh, man. This was not good.

Despite his best effort at nonchalance, his gaze flicked to her chest, and Lord, that was a mistake, because she was wearing a stretchy scoop-necked tee with no bra. Her breasts were just the kind he liked--round and firm, not too big, not too small. Her highlighter-green knit top stretched from peak to peak, distorting the lettering on the front.

Dance as if no one were watching.

Funny, dancing wasn't the activity that immediately sprang to mind.

Jesus. Why the hell had he left his clipboard in the truck? It would have come in handy right about now, positioned strategically in front of his belt buckle...

The object of his unexpected lust tilted her head to one side and touched the tip of her tongue to her bottom lip. He nearly groaned out loud. She blinked up at him, one hand on her hip, the other holding a paintbrush dipped in silver paint. She only came up to his chin, but something about her seemed taller.

He floundered around for his lost professionalism. "Ms. Morgan?"

"Yes."

"I'm Nick Santangelo. From Santangelo Construction. You were expecting me?"

"Oh. Yes! Yes, I was. But not until five thirty."

He checked his watch. "It's five thirty-two."

"It is?" She looked genuinely shocked at the news. "I must've lost track of the time." She kicked a remnant of Sunday's The Press of Atlantic City out of the path of the door. "Come in."

He stepped into a minefield of paint paraphernalia and moving boxes. The screen door slammed behind him, making him start. Broken. Well, why the hell not? Everything else in the house seemed to be, from the dented aluminum step ladder to the beat-up folding table, which was flanked by equally decrepit folding chairs that didn't match. A battered CD player--complete with duct-taped cord--was gurgling something that was probably supposed to be a clear mountain stream but sounded more like a running toilet.

Ms. Morgan circled her paintbrush at the walls. "What do you think of them?"

He guessed she meant the clouds. They covered all four walls of the twelve-by-twenty room, painted in billowing silver on a field of electric blue. Overhead, faceted crystals hung from the ceiling like stars.

What did he think of it? He looked at Ms. Morgan and entertained a few doubts about her sanity.

"Well?"

He cleared his throat. "It's...bright."

"Thanks. I thought so, too."

"Look, Ms. Morgan--"

"Call me Tori."

"Okay. Tori. I--"

She turned and started across the room, weaving between the boxes. "I don't really need much work done. It's just that the building inspector says I can't open Destiny's Gate in the front room while I live in the back without making a few fire code upgrades first." She bent at the waist to dip her brush into a can of paint. The zig-zag hem of her skirt rose, giving Nick a glimpse of smooth skin and a Celtic knot anklet tattoo.

With an effort, he refocused on a cloud. "Destiny's Gate?"

"That's what I'm calling my shop."

"Um...what do you plan to sell?"

She sidled back into his line of vision and started dabbing paint on the very cloud he'd been staring at. "Oh, Tarot cards, crystals, runes, books." She paused. "I'll do divination, too. People need to know what the cosmos has in store for them."

"Divination? You mean like fortune telling?"

"Some people call it that. I like to call it future sight."

"You're kidding, right?"

She frowned at him over her shoulder. "No. Why would I be?"

"Because you can't seriously think to sell that woo-woo stuff around here. Summer people come to Margate to take their kids to the beach, not to get their fortunes told. You'd be better off selling wave boards. Or Italian ice."

Her answering scowl sent him rocking back on his heels.

"Hey," he protested. "Don't go getting all mad. It's good advice. And it's free."

"Really."

"Yeah. If you want to tell fortunes, you should set up shop on the Ocean City boardwalk. That's where the tourists go when they're looking to throw away money."

"Throw away---Oh!"

Ms. Morgan--Tori--abandoned her cloud, her chest rising on a quick intake of breath. Nick tried not to look down, but Jesus, it was a lost cause. She marched right up to him and halted so close he could practically feel her breasts in his hands.

A jab of her brush near his nose brought his attention back to her face.

"I'll have you know fortune telling is a valuable art, not a waste of money! And I can't go anywhere else. I have to open Destiny's Gate here, in this house."

"You inherited the place recently, right?"

The light in her green eyes dimmed. "Yes. From my great-aunt. It's been a summer rental for the last seventeen years, since she moved into a nursing home."

"Well maybe now that it's yours, you should think of selling. This close to the beach, you'd get a great price."

"But the new owners would tear the house down!"

"Well, yeah, obviously. The value's all in the land."

She shook her head. Nick was momentarily distracted by her glossy dark curls stroking and sifting over her shoulders. His palms started to itch.

"No," she was saying. "I can't let that happen. Aunt Millie left so much positive psychic energy in these walls."

Positive psychic energy?

She shot him a disgruntled look. "You know, I didn't ask your opinion."

"What?" Nick said. "I didn't say anything."

"You didn't have to. But it doesn't matter, because I'm not looking for your advice. I just want to hire you. And there's really not much work here. You can probably finish it in a day or two."

"Well, about that," he said. "I only stopped by to--"

"Do you want to see the list?" She moved closer and he caught her scent. Something old fashioned and flowery. Calm. It seemed an odd choice for her. From what he could see, standing still wasn't something Tori Morgan knew how to do.

"I don't think--"

"Wait. It's around here somewhere."

Huh? A conversation with this woman shifted as quickly as sand in a storm. Bemused, he watched as she sank to the floor, her gauzy skirt swirling as she rifled through a stack of papers shoved into a cardboard box. Her paint brush, seemingly forgotten in her left hand, dripped silver onto the floor.

"Here." He grabbed the brush before it could do any more damage. "Let me take that."

She blinked up at him, then frowned at the brush. "Oh. Thanks. I know I put the building inspector's list in here somewhere."

He set the brush in one of her four-and-a-half open cans of silver paint. "Look, don't bother. I can't take your job anyway."

"What?"

She stood up so fast she nearly lost her balance. Nick caught her upper arm, then immediately wished he hadn't. Touching her wasn't the best idea. The urge to drag her flush against his body was entirely too urgent. What had gotten into him? He couldn't remember the last time he’d had such a sudden, overwhelming response to a woman.

She stared up at him with eyes the exact color of the ocean before a storm. She was so close now he could see that the green of her irises was touched with subtle flecks of blue. Her cheeks were flushed. And her lips...

"...do it," she said breathlessly.

What? He stared down at her.

"You have to do it. You have to take my job."

Oh, right. The job.

Nick released her and took a step back. "Look, I'm sorry, but I'm afraid I won't be able to help you out. My company doesn't do small projects like this. Doris should have told you when you called."

"Oh, she did. But she also said you might be able to squeeze it in if I couldn't find anybody else."

"I'd really like to help, but I'm overextended as it is. I can't possibly take this on."

"But that's not right! The cards said that you'd help me."

"Cards? What cards?"

She pointed at the folding table. "The Tarot. I did a reading after I talked to Doris. The outcome was favorable."

"I see," Nick said slowly, pacing toward the table. The cards spread out there weren't the regular playing kind, but some sort of fortune telling cards.

"Favorable." He slanted her a glance. "But not, I take it, definite?"

She grimaced. "Well...no. Not exactly definite." She tapped the closest card. "I drew the Moon. That always denotes a time of uncertainty."

He smiled. "There you go, then. That proves I'm not your man."

She looked up just long enough to send him a scowl. "It does nothing of the kind. See this card? The Four of Wands foretells success in new ventures. I can't have success if I can't open. That means you're going to take the job."

"Uh-huh."

"And besides," she pressed on, "you're my last hope. My only hope! You can't even imagine how many contractors I've called. Not one will even give me an estimate before August. But when I looked into my crystal, I saw the work completed before the Solstice."

Nick couldn't believe his ears. "You've got a crystal ball that tracks construction projects? You know, I could use one of those at the office."

"No," she said seriously. "It's not a ball. I can never get a good reading on a curved surface. I use a prism."

Nick shook his head. Time to go. Because, clearly, this woman had already left the building.

"Tell you what," he said, angling toward the door. "I'll ask around. Maybe one of my subcontractors will be interested."

He left before she could launch another protest, relieved to trade the whirling clouds and flashing crystals for the comforting solidity of his Dodge Ram 4x4. Tori Morgan might turn him on like crazy, but no way was Nick going to follow his little head on this one.

Tarot cards. Positive psychic energy. Visions in crystals.

The woman was out of her freaking mind.

*** 

Book Excerpt published here with Author's permission


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Monday, May 18, 2009

Mother's Day Book Giveaway

*** Winner - Joanne (shiloki@...) ***

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I had hoped to post this sooner, but sleep-deprivation that comes hand in hand with a newborn, put it clean out of my head. So I'll make it an easy one.

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GIVEAWAY

The Prize

One lucky winner will get all the 5 books listed below.

1. Miracles of Motherhood ISBN: 1931722927
2. Odd Mom Out By Jane Porter ISBN: 0446699233
3. Mommy Grace By Sheila Schuller Coleman ISBN: 0446545414
4. Beginner's Greek By James Collins ISBN: 0316021563
5. The Road Home By Rose Tremain ISBN: 0316002623

Books will be sent directly by the generous sponsor, Hachette Books.

To Enter
  • Visit Hachette Books. Come back here and tell me which book of theirs (apart from the prize books) are perfect for Mother's day.
  • Please include your email address at the end of your comment in the format "xyz AT abc DOT com" so that you can be notified should you be chosen as a winner. No email address = No Entry
For Extra Entries

Please leave a NEW comment for each extra entry you do.

1 Extra Entry - Blog this giveaway
with a link back to this post. Leave a new comment here with the link to your post.

1 Extra Entry - Follow this blog (or let me know if you already are) in a separate comment.

1 Extra Entry - Subscribe by email (or let me know if you already are) in a separate comment.


1 Extra Entry- Follow Me on Twitter (callmeabookworm) and Tweet this giveaway. Leave a new comment here with the link. You can tweet once per day for an extra entry EVERY DAY! Just tweet about my giveaway and come back here and leave me the link to your tweet.

1 Extra Entry- Grab my button and comment here with the link to your site and where I can find it.


Deadline   Midnight CST of June 1, 2009

Eligibility  US and Canada only.

Please read the Disclaimer

Good luck!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Giveaway - Testimony by Anita Shreve

*** Winner - Denise ***

Testimony by Anita Shreve
Little, Brown and Company, 320 p, Fiction, ISBN: 9780316059862

At a New England boarding school, a sex scandal is about to break. Even more shocking than the sexual acts themselves is the fact that they were caught on videotape. A Pandora's box of revelations, the tape triggers a chorus of voices--those of the men, women, teenagers, and parents involved in the scandal--that details the ways in which lives can be derailed or destroyed in one foolish moment.

Writing with a pace and intensity surpassing even her own greatest work, Anita Shreve delivers in Testimony a gripping emotional drama with the impact of a thriller. No one more compellingly explores the dark impulses that sway the lives of seeming innocents, the needs and fears that drive ordinary men and women into intolerable dilemmas, and the ways in which our best intentions can lead to our worst transgressions.

View the Interactive eBook  
Listen to an Excerpt;
Download the podcast
View the video
Get the Reading Group Guide

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GIVEAWAY

The Prize

A copy of this book will go to one lucky reader, courtesy Hachette Books!

To Enter
  • Just leave a comment with your email address in the body of the comment itself telling me : 
    • Which scandal (present or past) do you think has made or will make for a good book? [Required]
    • For an additional entry, tell me which author should write it? [Optional]
  • Please list your email address within your comment so that you can be notified should you be chosen the winner.
For Extra Entries

Please leave a NEW comment for each extra entry you do.

1 Extra Entry - Blog this giveaway
with a link back to this post. Leave a new comment here with the link to your post.

1 Extra Entry - Follow this blog (or let me know if you already are) in a separate comment.

1 Extra Entry - Subscribe by email (or let me know if you already are) in a separate comment.


1 Extra Entry- Follow Me on Twitter (callmeabookworm) and Tweet this giveaway. Leave a new comment here with the link. You can tweet once per day for an extra entry EVERY DAY! Just tweet about my giveaway and come back here and leave me the link to your tweet.

1 Extra Entry- Grab my button and comment here with the link to your site and where I can find it.


Deadline   Midnight CST of May 31st, 2009.

Eligibility  US only.

Please read the Disclaimer

Good luck!
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Monday, May 11, 2009

A Conversation with Marina Fiorato


Q:  Could you tell us a little bit about your personal and professional background, and when it was you decided  to lead a literary life?

A: I was born and educated in the north of England and at university I studied history. I then rebelled against my parents’ academic background by going to art school and entering the film and music business! I began by generating onscreen graphics and I was lucky enough to work on films like Tomb Raider with Angelina Jolie and Proof of Life with Russell Crowe. I shifted into rock music and worked with U2 and the Rolling Stones and Aerosmith, but when I became pregnant with my first child I took maternity leave. It was then that my old life found me again, and it was after I had my son that I had the idea for the story for Glassblower. I wrote the book while I was on leave and never returned to my job. I think I had been trying to be something I was not, and then, when I had a child of my own, ideas of heritage and my Venetian origins became enormously important. My old interests had found me with a vengeance—it was like being tapped on the shoulder by my past.

My old interests had found me with a vengeance—it was like being tapped on the shoulder by my past.

Q: Is there a book or author that inspired you to become a writer?
A: I grew up reading Pamela Kaufman’s books about Alix of Wanthwaite and her wonderful earthy writing and sense of period really inspired me—she invokes the sounds, sights, and even smells of the past so well! In more recent writing I love the prose of Thomas Harris. In the Florentine section of Hannibal I think he really manages to evoke the beauty but also the brutality of Italy at the same time. It’s a modern tale but so Renaissance in spirit.

Q: You studied history at Oxford University and the University of Venice, where you specialized in the study of Shakespeare’s plays as an historical source. How has your education influenced your writing?
A: I studied a lot of Shakespeare in school and was inspired by both the language and the sheer drama of his storytelling. I’m like a magpie when I write; I steal shiny bits of the work of my betters and weave them into my own prose! There is so much Shakespeare in The Glassblower of Murano, from pieces of plot to direct quotes. I was particularly inspired in this case by The Merchant of Venice, which is one of the plays I studied in detail for my master’s degree, but I also lifted a plotline from Romeo and Juliet. There’s even a quote from The Tempest in there somewhere. At least I steal from the best!

Q: Do you scrupulously adhere to historical facts in your novels, or do you take liberties if the story can benefit from the change?
A: I do try, as far as possible, to be reasonably accurate — I think because of my training in historical research that any blatant inaccuracies would really jar. If push came to shove, though, I would sacrifice total accuracy for the cause of the story. It’s not my job as a novelist to create a piece of historical documentation. What I’d like to think is that my books might serve to interest people in a certain period or character, and serve as a jumping-off point for them to then go away and research their interests from proper historical sources. My historical hero, Corradino Manin, is fictional so I wasn’t bound by the constraints of writing about a real person; that gave me a certain amount of freedom. The context, though, the world in which he lives, does have to be accurate. There are real historical figures in the book, like Louis XIV, but as they tend to be marginal there is not the obligation to feverishly research them.

"I love the way glass is such a shifting entity. In many ways it has as many faces as Venice itself."

Q: Are there any parallels between you and Leonora? Can you tell us a bit about your own travels in Venice and experiences with glassblowing?
A: There are a number of parallels between myself and Leonora, mostly to do with our heritage. Like her, I have a Venetian family. I was actually lucky enough to study at the University of Venice for six months and I lived on the Lido, taking the vaporetto into Ca’ Foscari every day, which was wonderful. While there I remember taking a tourist trip to Murano, where I saw a glassblower make a tiny, perfect crystal horse in about sixty seconds. I remember that it seemed like a miracle, and the episode stayed with me; in fact it’s included in the book when Giacomo makes a glass horse for the young Corradino. I returned to Venice years later to get married, in a little church on the Grand Canal. The whole wedding party was in eighteenth-century dress, which was fabulous, and we took boats out to the islands for the reception. It was unforgettable.

Q: You’ve mentioned that one of your favorite blown-glass windows in Venice is at Ca’ Foscari, a palace on the waterfront of the Grand Canal. What do you see when you look at that window, in particular, and all blown glass, in general? What is it about Venice, blown glass, and the process of glassblowing that you hoped to reveal to your readers?
A: There are hundreds of beautiful windows on the Grand Canal, but Ca’ Foscari has a special resonance for me because of studying there. Originally a palace, Ca’ Foscari is now used as a university and stands in a particularly beautiful bend of the canal; what fascinates me is that the window itself is as beautiful as what you can see through it. I like the way that these windows also tell the story of Venice’s history—they are a wonderful hybrid of western and eastern design and exemplify Venice’s identity, a republic standing astride two empires.

Blown glass fascinates me because, like most great crafts, it’s incredibly difficult to achieve a good result. I used the word miraculous in the book and I think it’s deserved. I love the way glass is such a shifting entity. In many ways it has as many faces as Venice itself, and I think that nature of changeability, of having many faces, is what I wanted to reveal about the city. Glass begins life as a powder which becomes liquid, then solid; there’s only a very short window to work with glass before it hardens, and it takes a true artist to do it. Incredible, too, that such beauty comes from humble sand—true artistry from a quintessence of dust.

Venice is so unchanging; it’s essentially the same place architecturally as it was in the seventeenth century. There are few places in the world about which one can say this, because most cities have changed to accommodate roads and sprawling suburbs. But because Venice as a “character” was the same then as now, I thought it would be really interesting to take a look at ideas of heritage and continuity of a particular Venetian family, with a peculiar creative genius. I was interested in whether or not a skill like glassblowing is passed down in the same way that, say, facial characteristics are. Is glassblowing in the Venetian DNA? Are these skills built into the Venetian genome, and how much does the city itself create artists by a kind of osmosis which has nothing to do with the century they are in? These are the kind of questions which interested me.

** Reprinted here by permission of St. Martin’s Griffin.**
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