Monthly Archives: May 2010

New York – May 23, 2010

Yesterday was a fun-filled day of walking, sight-seeing, and general socializing!

I thought I would share some photos of what we saw. Click on any photo to enjoy a larger view.

Battery Park:

The Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island:

The Brooklyn Bridge and Brooklyn:

The Empire State Building:

Ground Zero:

After all that walking, we DID find some time to just sit down and relax:

Mailbox Monday – May 24, 2010

Welcome to this week’s edition of Mailbox Monday coming to you from New York City! The books below are those which arrived before we left for the BEA and Book Blogger Convention.

This event is hosted each Monday by Marcia at The Printed Page…so make sure you drop over to her blog to play along.

Harper Collins sent me The Devil’s Star by Jo Nesbo through a Shelf Awareness offer. This third book in the Detective Harry Hole series centers around a possible serial killer who is murdering women and then severing their fingers (gruesome, eh?).

Nesbo’s previous novels have been huge successes here and abroad. He is the winner of the Glass Key Award (northern Europe’s most prestigious crime-fiction prize) for the first novel in the Harry Hole series. Nesbo currently lives in Oslo. To learn more about Nesbo and his work, visit the author’s website.

Riverhead Books sent me an Advance Readers Edition of Work Song by Ivan Doig through a Shelf Awareness offer. This latest novel from Doig brings back Morrie Morris – a character from The Whistling Season (which I have in my TBR pile). Introducing a “colorful cast of characters” along with a plot involving the clash between “the ironfisted mining company, outside agitators, and the beleaguered miners,” Doig takes readers to a Butte, Montana during its post-World War I heyday. I really enjoy Western novels, and I have yet to read anything by this author (who has been a National Book Award finalist and won several awards).

Doig writes on his website:

I don’t think of myself as a “Western” writer. To me, language—the substance on the page, that poetry under the prose—is the ultimate “region,” the true home, for a writer.

To learn more about Doig and his work (including readers’ guides to all his novels), visit the author’s website.

What books arrived at YOUR house this week?

New York, New York

We’re here! Look who we found sitting two seats behind us on our flight:

In case you don’t recognize her…that’s me with Trish (on left) from Hey Lady,Watcha Readin’?

Kip and I arrived in New York City at 6:30PM last night, checked into our hotel and then met up with my sister Paula and her boyfriend Gene for a very late dinner in Times Square. Wow – Times Square is CRAZY!!! Billboards, lights, and thousands of people. It does seem to be true that no one sleeps here.

Here are a couple of photos…I can’t seem to edit them too well on my laptop…but you can click any to enlarge:

Billboard Mania

Being Silly – Times Square…WOW!

Kip and Me in Times Square

Paula and Me in Times Square

We were out until 2:30 AM last night, so we slept in this morning. Just getting up and getting going for the day. We’re meeting Paula and Gene soon and heading out to sight see. Updates later!

A Sisterly Quilt…

If you read my blog, you know that my sister Paula was diagnosed with colon cancer in November 2009. It is terrifying when someone you love gets this kind of diagnosis, and it has been really hard for me to be 3000 miles away from Paula during the last few months (although I did get to enjoy an extended visit with her in January shortly after her surgery). Life just doesn’t allow me to make frequent trips back East…but still, I want to be “present” for my sister. I want her to know that even though the miles separate us, I am always there in my heart. You may or may not remember that my very first quilt was made with Paula’s help (and also my niece, Abby). So, what better way to let Paula know I love her then to make her a quilt?

I chose fabrics from a designer I know Paula loves: Kaffe Fassett. These fabrics are happy, vibrant, feel-good type  fabrics. I downloaded a free pattern from this site and spent two weekends before I left for the BEA stitching. I loved every second I spent making this quilt because it made me feel closer to my sister. The finished quilt size is 56″ X 56″ – a perfect lap size. Here is the finished project (*click on photos to enlarge):

But the best part? Being able to meet up with her in NYC and give her the quilt in person (*click to enjoy a larger image):

Preparing for New York…

Tomorrow Kip and I head to Sacramento, and then on Saturday we board our flight to New York City and the BEA and Book Blogger Convention.

Preparing for this trip has been crazy! Not only did it involve detailed planning to schedule things, but it also included a couple of shopping trips…and then decisions about clothing, things to bring, and of course which books would go with me.

I’ve been pretty selective about my book choices because, let’s face it, I may not have any time to actually read…and I also want to leave room in my luggage for the books with which I will undoubtedly come home. BUT, I will have a six hour plane flight in each direction to spend time reading.

So here is the reading material that is going to NYC with me:

The Penelopiad, by Margaret Atwood
Tinkers, by Paul Harding
The Secret Lives of People in Love, by Simon Van Booy
There is No Me Without You, by Melissa Fay Greene

I am also bringing along my current read (In the Wake of the Boatman) which I hope to finish before my flight leaves San Francisco. At any rate, whether it be on the west coast or the east…I am planning on Bookcrossing this one. I may also tuck in one or two more books to set free in NYC – I’ll let you know if I do that!

I did not take a photo of the luggage…it is too scary, although half of it is empty right now…I plan on coming home with full bags!

See you on the East Coast!

My Name is Mary Sutter – Book Review

“You won’t last,” the man said eyeing Mary.

“I will need a room and bedding,” she said.

“I fear you will need much more than that.” Shaking his head, he stood, a look some might describe as pity shadowing his eyes, softening the hard set of his mouth. “My name is William Stipp,” he said. “The surgeon in charge of this misery.”

“And my name is Mary Sutter.” – from My Name is Mary Sutter, page 118 –

Women in the 1860’s had few choices when it came to the medical field – they were either nurses (although no formal nursing schools existed in the United States at the outset of the Civil War), or midwives. Physicians (all male) during this time period left the delivery of babies largely to female midwives. When physicians were obligated to  intercede, their use of chloroform (anesthesia) necessitated the use of forceps to deliver the babies from their unconscious mothers…this resulted in many deaths and complications due to bleeding and tearing. Robin Oliveira’s first novel centers around a young woman who learns the art and skill of delivering babies at a very early age from her mother who is also a midwife.

Fifteen, and already precociously able. She was spoken of: It is something about her hands; it is something about her voice. And around the city, at suppers and church socials and dances and even upon the streets, when an alert matron spotted a newly expectant mother, Mary Sutter’s name was whispered. – from My Name is Mary Sutter, page 24 –

But for Mary Sutter, simply delivering babies is not enough … she desires to be not only a physician, but a surgeon. As the novel opens, tensions are high with Civil War threatening. As Mary’s brother and future brother-in-law join the ranks of volunteer soldiers, Mary is attracted by a news release that Dorothea Dix is requesting women to sign up as nurses to care for the wounded. Although she does not meet the age requirement of 30 years old (Mary is still in her early twenties), she leaves her home in Albany against her mother’s wishes and strikes out for Washington City.

Out in the channel, the ship’s boards vibrated with the thrum of the engines. A rising breeze played with the loose ends of the woman’s hair as the black river water slipped underneath the sharp prow.

The young woman imagined her mother finding the note she had left behind.

In her valise, she carried forty dollars, three dresses, and her stethoscope. In only six hours’ time she would be dropped at the docks in Manhattan. – from My Name is Mary Sutter, page 88 –

My Name is Mary Sutter is Mary’s story – the story of an adventurous, persistent young woman during a tumultuous time in American history. In the pages of her novel, Oliveira captures the chaos, death, and trauma of under supplied hospitals and overwhelmed doctors and nurses…bringing to life the amazing stamina and courage of those who filled those roles. Physicians during the Civil War were inadequately trained for the trauma and infection which struck down men during battle. At the outset of the war there were only 27 surgeons and no nurses for an army of 13,000 soldiers and 75,000 volunteers. Surgeons learned how to amputate limbs in the field with no formal training.

I found myself quickly absorbed in Mary’s life – the frustration of being turned away from medical school, the horror of the battlefield and field hospitals, and the uncertainty of survival. This is not just a story of one woman’s courage in the face of war, however, but it is also a love story and a story of familial ties. Mary’s rivalry with her twin sister Jenny provides an emotional backdrop to the larger story; and Mary also has a surprising impact on two men who grow to love her – William Stipp, a surgeon nearly three decades older than she, and James Blevens, a doctor who realizes that research is the key to uncovering the mysteries of medicine.

Oliveira has clearly done her homework, and the historical detail in the novel is impeccable. My Name is Mary Sutter is engrossing, vivid, and powerful. Mary is an inspiring and unforgettable character who symbolizes the many women who were the unsung heroes of the battlefields and hospitals during the Civil War. Oliveira includes many historical figures in her novel including Dorothea Dix, John Hay, President Abraham Lincoln, and Clara Barton (the ‘Angel of the Battlefield’) which lends authenticity to Mary’s story.

I was hooked on this novel from page one. Those readers who love historical fiction and strong female characters will love this book. Robin Oliveira succeeds in revealing not only the facts and details of an era, but the motivations and emotions of the men and women who lived it. A compelling blend of politics, medicine and war…this is a book I can highly recommend.

FTC Disclosure: This book was sent to me from the publisher for review on my blog.

Scheduling for BEA – Decisions, Decisions

For the last several days I have been haunting the BEA website, printing off events and author signings, pulling together a multitude of emails and blog posts…all in order to put together a schedule for next week. There are overlaps and tight time lines – especially on Wednesday which seems to be the most popular day for everything I want to do. But, despite all of this, I think I have a pretty good tentative schedule.

Kip and I arrive in NYC on the evening of May 22nd (Saturday) and leave late in the day on May 29th (Saturday).

Saturday Evening (May 22nd):

  • Meet up for a late dinner with my sister Paula and her boyfriend Gene who are coming to New York for three days. I cannot wait to give my sister a HUGE hug.

Sunday (May 23rd) – all day:

  • Touristy stuff with Paula and Gene – Kip is in charge of this end of the trip, but we will definitely be going to Ground Zero and The Strand Bookstore at some point.

Monday (May 24th):

  • Morning – breakfast with my sister and Gene before they head back to New Hampshire.
  • Late Morning – Tour of Bloomsbury/Picador/Tor publishing house
  • 1:00-5:00 PM – sometime during this time slot we’ll go by to pick up our press passes and get our tickets for the opening event on Tuesday with Barbara Streisand.
  • Evening – Dinner with Kip’s cousin in NYC

Tuesday (May 25th):

The first two events conflict – I’ll have to decide which one to attend…

  • 8:30-10:00 – The Value of a Book Event
  • 9:30-10:30 (Room 1Eoz) – Bringing Your Authors to the Social Media Party
  • Late Morning – Tour of Penguin publishing house
  • Afternoon – Nothing planned…possibly some more touristy type things
  • 6:00-7:00 pm (Special Events Hall) – Opening event with Barbara Streisand
  • Evening – Late dinner, relaxing

Wednesday (May 26th):

The first three things all conflict, although I could probably do two of the three…more choices!

  • 10:00-11:00 (Room 1E17) – Hot Book Club Titles for Fall
  • 10:00-11:00 (Table 5) – Joyce Carol Oates signing (ticketed)
  • 10:00-11:00 (Booth #4340-Other Press) – Mitchell Kaplan signing

In the afternoon, you will see there are all kinds of overlaps and conflicts…

  • 1:00-2:00 (Table10) – Jan Brett signing (ticketed)
  • 2:30-3:30 (Table 15)) – Doonesbury Limited Edition Lithograph signing (ticketed)
  • 3:00-4:00 (Harper Collins booth #3359) – Champagne Toast to celebrate To Kill a Mockingbird 50th Anniversary
  • 3:30-4:00 (Harper Collins booth #3359) – Simon Van Booy signing

The two evening events also overlap – We’ll be going to the Harper Collins event definitely, but maybe we can attend both since the Tweet Up goes for an hour past the Harper Collins event.

  • 7:00-9:00 PM (The Algonquin Hotel) – Celebration of Book Bloggers event – Harper Collins
  • 7:00-10:00 PM (Powerhouse Books) – BEA Tweet Up event

Thursday (May 27th):

  • 9:30-10:30 (Table 26) – Kathleen Kent signing

Again, the next events conflict….

  • 12:30-??? – LUNCH

Friday (May 28th):

    Saturday (May 29th):

    • AM – relax, eat, reflect…maybe squeeze in one last thing before our flight leaves in the afternoon!

    Of course, it goes without saying, this schedule is subject to change…and if YOU’RE going to the BEA…I hope to see you there!!

    Mailbox Monday – May 17, 2010

    Welcome to this week’s edition of Mailbox Monday hosted each Monday by Marcia at The Printed Page.

    To play along, visit Marcia today and leave a link to your mailbox…then go visit other bloggers through THEIR links.

    I received a hardcover edition of Stay by Allie Larkin through a Shelf Awareness offer. I couldn’t resist it when I read this in the book description: ‘[…] Van drowns her sorrows in Kool-Aid-vodka cocktails and reruns of Rin Tin Tin, and does what any heartbroken woman in her situation would do: She impulsively buys a German Shepherd over the Internet.‘ I love books with dogs that help the protagonists recover from heartbreak…and when the dog is a German Shepherd…well, it is sure to make me smile. By the way, the dog on the cover is the author’s dog Argo!

    Allie Larkin lives in Rochester, New York with her two German Shepherds, Argo and Stella…Stay is her first novel. Read more about Larkin and her work on the author’s website.

    I won the The Yellow House by Patricia Falvey in a giveaway on Kristen’s blog We Be Reading. Published by Hachette in February of this year, the novel takes place in Ulster in the early part of the twentieth century. Author Robert Hicks says: ‘The Yellow House is an eloquently written story of the emergence of hope and love in a time of struggle and confusion in Ireland.Read an excerpt here.

    Patricia Falvey grew up in Northern Ireland before immigrating to the United States at the age of twenty. She divides her time between Texas and Ireland. The Yellow House is her first novel. To learn more about Falvey and her work, visit the author’s website.

    Lindsey, Publicity Manager at Viking/Penguin, sent me Promises To Keep by Jane Green who is donating 20% of her royalties from this book to breast cancer research. I think Lindsey is a bit of a mind-reader, because I have been thinking about reading a book by this new-to-me author for some time now. Promises to Keep is ‘a novel about the hard choices we have to face, about having to be your parents’ child long after you’ve grown up, and finally, about the enduring nature of love.‘ Green wrote this novel to help her through the traumatic loss of one of her best friends, Heidi, who lost her battle with breast cancer last year. Promises to Keep will be released in June 2010.

    Jane Green has written eleven previous novels, some of which made the New York Times bestseller list. Raised in London, she now lives in Connecticut with her husband and six children. Learn more about Green and her work by visiting the author’s website.

    Terrie from Other Press was kind enough to send me a finished copy of By Fire, By Water by Mitchell James Kaplan. You might remember I highlighted Other Press and mentioned this book on that post a couple of weeks ago. By Fire, By Water is historical fiction set in the 15th century and is due for release this week. The book flap reads: ‘ In this story of love, God, faith, and torture, fifteenth-century Spain comes to dazzling, engrossing life.

    Mitchell James Kaplan lives in Pennsylvania (he has also resided in California, Germany, Connecticut, New York, and Paris).  This is his first novel. To learn more about Kaplan and his work, visit the author’s website. Oh, and just as an aside, Kaplan will be at the Other Press booth (#4340) at the BEA for a signing at 10:00 AM Wednesday the 26th…I plan to be there!

    I won an Advance Readers Edition of Huck by Janet Elder through a Shelf Awareness Mother’s Day promotion (I also had a copy sent to my friend Katey…who, like me, is a dog lover!). This is a true story about a lovable toy poodle named Huck who goes missing and about the lessons an animal can teach those who love them, and how a beloved pet can open the hearts of strangers. I have a feeling this one might make me cry!

    Janet Elder is a senior editor at The New York Times. She lives in Manhattan with her husband, their son,and the family dog. Huck is due for release in September 2010 through Random House/Broadway Books. To learn more about Huck and his family, visit the book’s website.

    What books came into YOUR home this week?

    Sunday Salon – May 16, 2010

    May 16, 2010

    Happy Sunday to all of you stopping by my blog today. The weather is gorgeous here (finally) and we have a housing project in process here – after several years of moaning and groaning about my backyard which is essentially a half acre of dirt and trees, we are finally putting in a much needed back deck. We had the area “prepped” (ie: dug out) on Friday…we also need to do a bit of terracing in preparation for landscaping (some day). Things will really get going in June after we get home from New York. Here are some photos of the yard during the excavation and the aftermath (click to enlarge):

    I was sitting here today thinking of what a great year in books I am having. So far (in just over four months of reading) I’ve read nine (9) five star books and six (6) four and 1/2 star books out of a total of 38 (for those of you who love math, that means almost 40% of the books I’ve read in 2010 are highly recommended). Wow. I also have read a bunch of four star books this year. Some cynical people might accuse me of being too soft on the authors, too generous with my ratings, or being less than honest in my reviews…but really, I think I am just getting more skilled at picking the books I know I will love. Of course, I have had a couple of failures this year, too…books that just didn’t blow me away. It happens.

    Since my last Sunday Salon post I finished reading The Lizard Cage by Karen Connelly (read my review). I wasn’t even sure I could do this book justice in my review. This is an amazing, disturbing, incredibly crafted novel about life inside a Burma prison…it explores hope, grief, faith, the endurance of the human spirit and freedom. I loved this book even though it was an emotional ride for me. Everyone should read this book. In case you haven’t figured it out yet, this was one of those five star, must read books for me. I fear I have been a little ignorant about what is going on in Burma, so this was also an eye-opener for me. I’ll be reading more about Burma in June when I’ll be touring a nonfiction book for TLC Book Tours titled Everything is Broken by Emma Larkin.

    My current read is a terrific historical fiction. My Name is Mary Sutter by Robin Oliveira is a review book sent to me from Lindsey over at Viking/Penguin which should hit bookstores tomorrow. I really enjoy historical fiction because I always learn something about history that I didn’t know before. This novel is set during the Civil War and features a midwife who longs to be a physician. Within just a few short pages, I was hooked. You can expect a review early in this week.

    In less than a week we leave for New York and the BEA and Book Blogger Convention. I am beyond excited. I can’t wait to meet the bloggers, and also the publishers and publicists, and authors who I have come to know through my reading. I know it will be a whirlwind of activity and I am planning on sharing it all with you here on my blog! I am trying to catch up on my sleep between now and then because my schedule is beginning to look like I won’t sleep once I get there. If you’re going, please let me know…or better yet, send your information to Dawn at She is Too Fond of Books by Wednesday (the 19th) and let everyone know so we can get together.

    Today I am quilting, reading, and enjoying the sunshine. I decided on the fabric I am going to use to make the quilt for Quilts for Kids (for the Social Justice Challenge). Here they are (click to enlarge):

    What are you doing? Whatever it is, I hope it involves a GREAT book!

    Winner – Singer’s Gun

    The Singer’s Gun by Emily St. John Mandel
    ISBN 978-1-936071-64-7
    287 pages
    Unbridled Books (May 2010)

    Thank you to all who entered to win an ARC of The Singer’s Gun. I assigned numbers to each entry and some people got extra entries for donating to Relay for Life…so there was a total of 31 chances to win. I then used Random.Org to pick a winner.

    *drum roll, please*

    Congratulations to:

    Kay from My Random Acts of Reading

    I’ll be emailing you, Kay!

    For those of you who did not win, I hope you’ll consider purchasing the book…it is definitely worth the read!