Tag: Books: First Reads

Review: Mrs. Poe

Posted 16 September, 2013 by Lianne in Books / 5 Comments

Mrs. Poe
By: Lynn Cullen
Format/Source: Advanced reading copy courtesy of Simon & Schuster CA

It is 1845, and Frances Osgood is desperately trying to make a living as a writer in New York; not an easy task for a woman—especially one with two children and a philandering portrait painter as her husband. As Frances tries to sell her work, she finds that editors are only interested in writing similar to that of the new renegade literary sensation Edgar Allan Poe, whose poem, “The Raven” has struck a public nerve.

She meets the handsome and mysterious Poe at a literary party, and the two have an immediate connection. Poe wants Frances to meet with his wife since she claims to be an admirer of her poems, and Frances is curious to see the woman whom Edgar married.

As Frances spends more and more time with the intriguing couple, her intense attraction for Edgar brings her into dangerous territory. And Mrs. Poe, who acts like an innocent child, is actually more manipulative and threatening than she appears. As Frances and Edgar’s passionate affair escalates, Frances must decide whether she can walk away before it’s too late…

I received a review copy of this novel from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. The premise of this novel caught my attention; I don’t know much about Edgar Allen Poe–may have read one of his short stories when I was growing up but otherwise I’ve had no other exposure to his work–but this story intrigued me and had me curious about Poe’s life and the course of his literary career and achievements. This novel will be available on September 24th.

Read More

Review: Unexploded

Posted 9 September, 2013 by Lianne in Books / 4 Comments

By: Alison MacLeod
Format/Source: galley courtesy of Penguin Canada via NetGalley

May, 1940. Brighton. Wartime.

On Park Crescent, a sunlit and usually tranquil street, Geoffrey and Evelyn Beaumont and their eight-year-old son, Philip, anxiously await news. The enemy is expected to land on the beaches of Brighton any day.It is a year of tension and change. Geoffrey becomes Superintendent of the enemy alien camp at the far reaches of town, while young Philip is gripped by the rumour that Hitler will make Brighton’s Royal Pavilion his English HQ. He spends hours with his friends imagining life in Brighton under Hitler’s rule. And as the rumours continue to fly and the days tick on, Evelyn struggles to fall in with the war effort and the constraints of her role in life, her thoughts becoming tinged with a mounting, indefinable desperation.

Then she meets Otto Gottlieb, a ‘degenerate’ German-Jewish painter and prisoner in her husband’s internment camp. As Europe crumbles, Evelyn’s and Otto’s mutual distrust slowly begins to change into something else, which will shatter the structures on which her life, her family and her community rest. Love collides with fear, the power of art with the forces of war, and the lives of Evelyn, Otto, and Geoffrey are changed irrevocably.

This book was longlisted for the Man Booker Prize 2013. Novels set in World War Two usually grab my attention and I think this title actually made it on my want-to-read list before the longlist was announced. I was approved of a galley copy of this novel from the publishers in exchange for an honest review. This book will be available on September 10 (conveniently on the same day as the announcement of the shortlist). May contain some spoilers ahead!

Read More

Review: The Bones of Paris + Giveaway

Posted 3 September, 2013 by Lianne in Books / 20 Comments

The Bones of Paris
By: Laurie R. King
Format/Source: galley courtesy of Bantam Publishers via NetGalley & Advanced Reading Copy courtesy of the author as part of The Bones of Paris Book Tour

Paris, France: September 1929. For Harris Stuyvesant, the assignment is a private investigator’s dream—he’s getting paid to troll the cafés and bars of Montparnasse, looking for a pretty young woman. The American agent has a healthy appreciation for la vie de bohème, despite having worked for years at the U.S. Bureau of Investigation. The missing person in question is Philippa Crosby, a twenty-two year old from Boston who has been living in Paris, modeling and acting. Her family became alarmed when she stopped all communications, and Stuyvesant agreed to track her down. He wholly expects to find her in the arms of some up-and-coming artist, perhaps experimenting with the decadent lifestyle that is suddenly available on every rue and boulevard.

As Stuyvesant follows Philippa’s trail through the expatriate community of artists and writers, he finds that she is known to many of its famous—and infamous—inhabitants, from Shakespeare and Company’s Sylvia Beach to Ernest Hemingway to the Surrealist photographer Man Ray. But when the evidence leads Stuyvesant to the Théâtre du Grand-Guignol in Montmartre, his investigation takes a sharp, disturbing turn. At the Grand-Guignol, murder, insanity, and sexual perversion are all staged to shocking, brutal effect: depravity as art, savage human nature on stage.

Soon it becomes clear that one missing girl is a drop in the bucket. Here, amid the glittering lights of the cabarets, hides a monster whose artistic coup de grâce is to be rendered in blood. And Stuyvesant will have to descend into the darkest depths of perversion to find a killer . . . sifting through The Bones of Paris.

The premise of this novel sounds really interesting (a murder mystery set in the City of Lights? Haven’t read many mysteries set in the city) plus I’ve never read anything by this author but her bibliography is pretty extensive. I was fortunate to be approved of a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review as well as take part in a blog tour for this novel. This novel will be available on September 10th. Be sure to check out the end of this review for a chance to win a hardback copy of this novel! US only (sorry international followers!)

This book is part of the Books on France Reading Challenge 2013 that I am participating in.

Read More

Review: My Notorious Life

Posted 2 September, 2013 by Lianne in Books / 4 Comments

My Notorious Life
By: Kate Manning
Format/Source: galley courtesy of Scribnr via NetGalley

This sweeping, evocative, and absolutely unforgettable novel about the charismatic and passionate Axie Muldoon who changed the lives of countless women was inspired by a real midwife who became one of the most controversial figures in Victorian New York City.

Set in gritty New York City in the last half of the nineteenth century, My Notorious Life is a vibrant portrait of Axie Muldoon, a plucky orphan who becomes one of the most successful—and controversial—midwives of her time. Told in a magnetic voice, pulsing and vivid, Axie recounts how she is separated from her mother and siblings, apprenticed to a doctor and midwife, and how she later parlays the sale of a few bottles of “lunar tonic for female complaints” into a thriving midwifery practice with her husband and fellow orphan friend, Charles G. Jones. But Axie is on a collision course with one of the most zealous, censorious characters of her era: Anthony Comstock, founder of the Society for the Suppression of Vice, and it will take all of Axie’s power to outwit him and save both herself and her family from ruin.

The premise of this novel sounds really interesting and it has been cropping up quite a bit as I wander around the bookish circles on the internet. I was approved a galley copy of this novel from the publishers via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This book will be available on September 10.

Read More

Review: Little Island

Posted 26 August, 2013 by Lianne in Books / 0 Comments

Little Island
By: Katharine Britton
Format/Source: galley courtesy of Penguin Group Berkeley via NetGalley

By the water
Have fun!

These are Joy’s grandmother’s last words—left behind on a note. A note that Joy’s mother, Grace, has interpreted as instructions for her memorial service. And so, the far-flung clan will gather at their inn on Little Island, Maine, to honor her.

Joy can’t help dreading the weekend. Twenty years ago, a tragedy nearly destroyed the family—and still defines them. Joy, Grace, her father Gar, and twins Roger and Tamar all have their parts to play. And now Joy, facing an empty nest and a nebulous future, feels more vulnerable than ever to the dangerous currents running through her family.

But this time, Joy will discover that there is more than pain and heartbreak that binds them together, when a few simple words lift the fog and reveal what truly matters?

The premise of this novel sounded interesting–I’m always up for a good family-centred drama–so I requested a copy of this novel. I received a galley copy of this novel courtesy of the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. It will be available on September 3.

Read More