Mailbox Monday – March 28

Posted in Event at 5:23 am by Amber

Mailbox Monday

A big thank you to Marcia at The Printed Page for originating Mailbox Monday. This weekly meme is now on tour. The hostess for March is Laura of I’m Booking It. Be forewarned that reading and participating in Mailbox Monday posts can increase your TBR pile.

For the past three weeks I keep reading Amanda Hocking’s name on different blogs.  So I bought her book, Switched, and it will probably be weeks or months before I can read it.

What arrived in your mailbox this week?


Ian Rankin on NPR

Posted in Event at 2:05 pm by Amber

Yesterday’s NPR interview with Ian Rankin is going to add another book to my TBR pile.  I’ve heard of him but haven’t read anything by him.

The title of his newest book is The Complaints and features an internal affairs police officer, Malcolm Fox.  He sounds like a straitlaced sort of guy trying to do what’s expected of him to the best of his ability.  Rankin mentioned people seemed to like Fox even though he’s very different from his famous Detective Inspector Rebus. 

Thinking about it, there are some people who want such a character right now.  People will always use books to escape from their ordinary lives but isn’t it nice to have a character who could be someone who lives on your street?


The Bells by Richard Harvell

Posted in Review at 6:06 am by Amber

Title: The Bells
Author: Richard Harvell
Publisher: Crown Publishing
Source: ARC from NetGalley

The Bells

The celebrated opera singer Lo Svizzero was born in a belfry high in the Swiss Alps where his mother served as the keeper of the loudest and most beautiful bells in the land. Shaped by the bells’ glorious music, as a boy he possessed an extraordinary gift for sound. But when his preternatural hearing was discovered-along with its power to expose the sins of the church-young Moses Froben was cast out of his village with only his ears to guide him in a world fraught with danger.
Rescued from certain death by two traveling monks, he finds refuge at the vast and powerful Abbey of St. Gall. There, his ears lead him through the ancient stone hallways and past the monks’ cells into the choir, where he aches to join the singers in their strange and enchanting song. Suddenly Moses knows his true gift, his purpose. Like his mother’s bells, he rings with sound and soon, he becomes the protégé of the Abbey’s brilliant yet repulsive choirmaster, Ulrich.
But it is this gift that will cause Moses’ greatest misfortune: determined to preserve his brilliant pupil’s voice, Ulrich has Moses castrated. Now a young man, he will forever sing with the exquisite voice of an angel-a musico-yet castration is an abomination in the Swiss Confederation, and so he must hide his shameful condition from his friends and even from the girl he has come to love. When his saviors are exiled and his beloved leaves St. Gall for an arranged marriage in Vienna, he decides he can deny the truth no longer and he follows her-to sumptuous Vienna, to the former monks who saved his life, to an apprenticeship at one of Europe’s greatest theaters, and to the premiere of one of history’s most beloved operas.
In this confessional letter to his son, Moses recounts how his gift for sound led him on an astonishing journey to Europe’s celebrated opera houses and reveals the secret that has long shadowed his fame: How did Moses Froben, world renowned musico, come to raise a son who by all rights he never could have sired?

Harvell’s prose is beautiful.  It takes a few pages to get into the rhythm of his words but is worth the time.  The detail helps transport the reader to a small village in the Alps as Moses tells the story of his life. 

The synopsis provides a rough outline of the story but getting from Point A to Point Z is by turns heartbreaking and joyous.  I wouldn’t hesitate to read another novel by Harvell.


Mailbox Monday – March 14th

Posted in Event at 5:04 am by Amber

Mailbox Monday

A big thank you to Marcia at The Printed Page for originating Mailbox Monday.  This weekly meme is now on tour.  The hostess for March is Laura of I’m Booking It.  Be forewarned that reading and participating in Mailbox Monday posts can increase your TBR pile.

I honestly didn’t think I’d have anything to write about this week.  I (thought) I was pre-ordering Kate Atkinson’s newest Jackson Brodie book Started Early, Took My Dog.  Imagine my surprise when it showed up late this week.  I made a date to read it this weekend and I guarantee it won’t disappoint her fans.

What arrived in your mailbox this week?


Tyger Tyger by Kersten Hamilton

Posted in Review at 6:15 am by Amber

Title: Tyger Tyger
Author: Kersten Hamilton
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Source: ARC from NetGalley 

Tyger Tyger Book Cover

Teagan Wylltson’s best friend, Abby, dreams that horrifying creatures-goblins, shape-shifters, and beings of unearthly beauty but terrible cruelty-are hunting Teagan. Abby is always coming up with crazy stuff, though, so Teagan isn’t worried. Her life isn’t in danger. In fact, it’s perfect. She’s on track for a college scholarship. She has a great job. She’s focused on school, work, and her future. No boys, no heartaches, no problems.Until Finn Mac Cumhaill arrives. Finn’s a bit on the unearthly beautiful side himself. He has a killer accent and a knee-weakening smile. And either he’s crazy or he’s been haunting Abby’s dreams, because he’s talking about goblins, too . . . and about being The Mac Cumhaill, born to fight all goblin-kind. Finn knows a thing or two about fighting. Which is a very good thing, because this time, Abby’s right. The goblins are coming. 

When I was 10 or 11, I was a fan of Mary Tanner’s Wizard Children of Finn.  She wove Celtic mythology into the tale of two children who time/place travel to meet the Finn Mac Cumhaill of legend.  I wanted to be the lucky lass to win his heart.

Kersten Hamilton also uses the Celtic mythology in Tyger Tyger.  The stories of Finn’s namesake provide a framework for the adventure inside. 

Teagan’s mother is a writer who illustrates her own books.  The paintings are populated with goblins and other creatures from Celtic mythology.  Abby dreams the paintings come alive and the creatures are hunting Teagan.  Children’s Services come by the house to see if Teagan’s parents will take in their nephew, Finn.  None of their lives aren’t the same after he moves in. 

Though Teagan is 16 and her stomach feels all fluttery around Finn they have a chaste romance which would be appropriate for younger readers.  Younger readers may identify with Aiden, Teagan’s younger brother, and think of Teagan and Finn as resourceful role models. 

Hamilton populates her novel with characters readers won’t soon forget.


Mailbox Monday – March 7th

Posted in Event at 8:00 am by Amber

Mailbox Monday

A big thank you to Marcia at The Printed Page for originally hosting Mailbox Monday.  It’s now on a monthly tour.  The March hostess is Laura of I’m Booking It.

This was a week for ebooks for me.  Very fitting since ebook week began on March 6th.

A Long, Long Sleep by Anna Sheehan – This a retelling of Sleeping Beauty in a science fiction setting.  This was from NetGalley.

Shadow Conspiracy II edited by Phyllis Irene Radford and Maya Kaathryn Bohnhoff – This is a steampunk anthology.  I don’t think I’ve ever read any so I hope I like it.  This was a LibraryThing Early Reviewers win.

The Restorer by Amanda Stevens – This is a new series featuring a cemetery restorer who sees ghosts.  This was from NetGalley.

What arrived in your mailbox this week?


February 2011

Posted in Status Report, Writing at 9:57 pm by Amber

These statistics are all for short stories, poems, or contest entries. Book reviews are not included.

  1. Sales in February: 0
  2. Rejections in February: 1
  3. Submissions sent out in February: 2
  4. Total stories/poems/contests pending responses: 1

February brought me a Flash Fiction workshop taught by the knowledgeable Jim Harrington.  I’m so thankful I’ve only experienced generosity and helpfulness from other writers.


Muslim Women Reformers by Ida Lichter

Posted in Review at 3:49 pm by Amber

Title: Muslim Women Reformers
Author:Ida Lichter
Publisher: Prometheus Books
Source: Lisa Roe, Online Publicist

Muslim Women Reformers by Ida Lichter
Lichter has written an informative book which can serve several purposes:

  • Educate the reader about how a country can allow religious law to override government law or politicize religion.
  • Provide a resource to readers of fiction and non-fiction books to read.  (Several of the profiled women are writers.)
  • Provide a resource of non-Western movies to watch. (Some of the profiled women are directors.)
  • It can be a dialogue starting point between women and men, Muslims and non-Muslims, or members of a political science class.

I was surprised by the similarities between the issues and the attempts to make them better.  For example, countries with high illiteracy rates focus on medical care/domestic violence services for women and teaching them how to read.  Countries with high literacy rates try to publicize women’s legal rights, teach job skills or how to open a business.  I knew standards weren’t the same for men and women in many of these countries but I was shocked to learn (a few countries in the book) nationality is another way in which men and women are treated differently. 

Men who marry foreigners or women of other religions are seen as spreading the faith so their children have all the rights that come with his nationality.  When women marry foreigners or outside their faith, the children don’t carry the nationality of their birthplace, can be kept from inheritances, and so on.  It sounds so… alien to me. 

Bahrain, Egypt, and Libya have been in the news recently and I can’t help but wonder how the work of these activists will adapt to the new changes.