Sunday, January 31, 2010

Busy Reading Week!

WOW! The books came flying in this week! UPS, FedEx, USPS all have been at my door. In addition to all the books, I got some clothes I ordered on QVC, my first new clothes in three years, so I was very excited. But I digress...
I received The Last Queen by C.W. Gortner from the author. He has a form on his website where you can request a book and if he has a copy he'll send it. How nice! It's about Juana of Castile, the last hereditary Queen of Spain.
Trish from Hey Lady! Whatcha Readin'? hooked me up with some goodies through TLC Book Tours. I've already finished Laura Lippman's Life Sentences, which I loved. Look for the review in March. The Creation of Eve by Lynn Cullen and Watermark: A Novel of the Middle Ages by Vanitha Sankiran are both historical fiction coming out in the spring.
Finished 2 excellent books this week, Laura Lippman's Life Sentences and Get Lucky by Katherine Center. Both are contemporary fiction, which was a nice change from all of the historical fiction I've been enjoying. I still got my historical fiction fix with the audio book of Mistress of the Art of Death by Ariana Franklin. I read it several years ago, and decided to listen to the book before starting the audio of the second in the series, The Serpent's Tale. I'm so glad I did! I remembered that the writing was mellifluous and it is even more wonderful on the audio, read by Rosalyn Landor. Her British accent brings to mind the setting and she does wonderful voices for the characters without going over the top.
My line up for this week is The Last Queen and Death of a Gossip by M.C. Beaton, as well as the audio The Serpent's Tale. I also have reviews to write for Get Lucky, Young Bess and Life Sentences.
What are you reading this week? Get anything new that you're excited to read?
Mailbox Monday is hosted by Marcia at The Printed Page. J.Kaye's Book Blog sponsors What are you reading on Mondays? Both of them will give you lots to add to your lists!
Don't forget my giveaways in the right-hand column.

Giveaway: The Triumph of Deborah

Eva Etzioni-Halevy brings the story of the Old Testament's Deborah, renowned judge and prophet of the Israelites alive with her novel The Triumph of Deborah. Deborah is known to many people as the author of the Song of Deborah from the book of Judges. The Triumph of Deborah focuses on this very important time in the history of the Israelites, when their army, led by Deborah and the great warrior Barak defeats the Canaanites and bring about 40 years of peace.Besides giving readers a look into history, the separate, personal stories of Deborah, and Barak give readers a glimpse into agrarian life in the villages of the Israelites. Deborah is amazingly strong and sure of herself, and the wisdom she believes God bestows on her. She looks at situations from all points of view, while constantly following Torah law and the Commandments. Her charismatic yet calm personality and regal disposition, draw people to her and they heed her advice and opinions. Each day, Deborah leaves her husband and five sons to go to work under her special tree to dispense justice to all who come to her. A working woman in the twelfth century B.C.E.!
After his destruction of the Canaanite palace and town of Hazor, Barak frees the Israelites who have been slaves to the Canaanites and takes the Canaanite princess Ashera to his home to become his bride. In the group of Israeli women who Barak hires to wrk in his home is Nogah, daughter of Canaanite King Jabin by on of his Israeli slaves. The story of their complicated love-triangle and how it brings about the peace contract is interesting and amazing.
I know next to nothing about the Old Testament, and other than knowing there was an important woman named Deborah in Jewish history, I had no knowledge of this story prior to reading The Triumph of Deborah. I found it amazingly relevant to our world today, with familiar jealousies, pride, and questions about gender roles.
GIVEAWAY INFORMATION I enjoyed The Triumph of Deborahso much, that I need to share it with one of you! I will be giving away my gently used copy of The Triumph of Deborah. To win it, just leave a comment telling me the name of any woman of the Old Testament.
For extra entries you can Follow the Evil Overlord, Tweet about the giveaway, or mention it on your own blog. Please leave a separate comment for each entry. If you are already a Follower be sure to leave a comment saying so.
This giveaway will end Wednesday, February 10 at 11:59 PM, EST.

Official FTC Disclosure: I received no compensation for this review, other than the unsolicited copy of the book from the author.
Engraving by French artist Gustave Dore.


Friday, January 29, 2010

Giveaway: Lone Star Legend by Gwendolyn Zepeda

One of the very first books I reviewed for Hachette Publishing was Houston, We Have a Problema, Gwendolyn Zepeda's first novel, so I was very excited to see that her second, Lone Star Legend is ready for release. When I told Miriam at Hachette about my excitement, she offered up FIVE copies to giveaway to my readers.
From the back of the book:
Intrepid online journalist Sandy Saavedra lovers her anonymous life in Austin, Texas. When her magazine is sold to an internet gossip site, and the new editor decides Sandy should be the star reporter, she's suddenly thrust into a rather unflattering spotlight.
No matter how many passwords and aliases we use, there really is no such thing is privacy when you share your life online. Celebrities expect this, but what about the average person. Gwendolyn Zepeda's newest novel plays with this idea of public vs. private and what happens when those lines get crossed.
As a writer for the Latino gossip site Nacho Papi, Sandy is expected to make her news stories sensational, and be seen all over at big events, blurring the lines between journalism and entertainment. Then there is her personal blog, which she considers private and has told no one about. Somehow a reader of Nacho Papi and local Austin papers who is probably one of Sandy's three blog readers (yes, three) figures out Sandy S is also Miss TragiComic Texas and all hell breaks loose. Now her rantings about family, friends and boyfriends is being read by what seems like the whole world, and her loved ones are all getting their feelings hurt.As bloggers we all know the fine line we walk when sharing family stories on our blogs, but Sandy has taken it one step further and shared secrets and complaints, thinking only three strangers would read it. I often wondered at some of the foolish mistakes Sandy made, as she seemed such an intelligent, educated person. But she let herself be pulled along on the tide of the new management at work. By not being true to the honest journalist she is and becoming a writer of scandalous stories, Sandy gets lost in the mess of meetings, parties, interviews, and trips. Like most of these situations, it's only when everything blows up that Sandy learns who her friends are and how strong she really can be.  Although Sandy is not technically a professional blogger, I highly recommend Lone Star Legendto all my bloggy friends. It will definitely make you think about what you write in your posts.
Little Reminder: Any Amazon purchase you make by following a link on Thoughts from an Evil Overlord puts a few pennies in my currently unemployed pocket.If you're buying something anyway, you can just click through here, first.
Official FTC Disclosure: I received no compensation for this review, other than the uncorrected Advance Reader Copy from Hachette Publishing.
GIVEAWAY INFORMATION: Each entry should be a separate comment. Comments that do not meet the requirements will be deleted.
  • Leave a comment on this post, making sure there is a way for me to contact you.
  • Become a Follower of the Evil Overlord. If you are already a Follower, just leave a separate comment saying so.
  • Tweet or post to your Facebook page.
  • Mention the giveaway on your blog.
  • Giveaway will end Wednesday, February 10, 11:59 PM EST


Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Ink or Writing Fluid

For this week's Vintage Thingies Thursday, hosted by Suzanne @ ColoradoLady, I have some more things from my dad's basement. He gave me the ink bottle and the pens at different times over the years. The fountain pens were his father's, and he remembers him changing the nibs when they got worn down. I have other old fountain pens, but they are the kind a cartridge would go in. I'll dig them out for a future VTT. The ink, aka writing liquid, was discovered in one of 2 old dressers in the basement. I'm pretty sure they were put down there 45 years ago with all of this stuff filling them up already, which means it's all pre-1965. I bet my mom never even knew what was in them, except for the one bottom drawer where she kept wrapping paper!

I used to have these displayed with my antique printer's box among all sorts of interesting paraphernalia. I'm embarrassed to say I have become my father, because I had to pull them out of a drawer in a dresser (!) to photograph them for you. I have to think of a way to display them. If I had a big house with an entry I'd put a small desk there and do a little vignette as if someone had been writing in a journal. But I don't, so I can't.

In my search for any information on Schaeffer's Skrip Writing Liquid, I found this old advertisement. It shows how there was a little thing in the mouth of the jar so you weren't dunking the pen all the way in. Schaeffer's also made pens, in addition to ink. I just don't get calling it writing liquid, although that's what it is, I think it's a little goofy.
Those are my Vintage Thingies for this Thursday. I bet you've got something nifty and old and don't even realize that there are all of these vintage folks who would love to see it. Go on a hunt and come join us next week at ColoradoLady.


Monday, January 25, 2010

Happy Birthday, New England Bloggers!

A year ago I began the New England Bloggers, a loosely-knit group of bloggers from the six New England States of Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut. Our membership has grown to over 120 members with active blogs, and we have had a few carnivals and blog games among ourselves. To celebrate our one year birthday we are having a carnival of posts that relate to our interesting region.

Although I currently live in a Boston suburb, I grew up in the extremely small town of East Granby, CT, population 3,500. There were 53 people in my graduating class, 1 of whom is now my BIL. The thing that puts East Granby on the map is Old Newgate Prison, the oldest State Prison in the United States.

Originally a copper mine, the tunnels were first used to house dangerous prisoners in 1773, and during the Revolutionary War it held Tories and other Loyalists.
In 1827 it was no longer used as a prison and was once again exclusively a mine. It was designated as a National Historic Landmark in 1972.

As a child, field trips with the Girl Scouts and class groups brought me down into the dark and damp tunnels, where even short adults have to bend over to walk around.

Imagining being held down there for years could still terrify me, and I'm not even claustrophobic!

East Granby was a great place to grow up. At the time we had no stop lights, the volunteer firehouse horn blew at noon every day to tell the time, and we could always ride our bikes to A.C. Petersen Farms for ice cream.  The Dunkin Donuts that opened in the late 1980s was just allowed to install a drive-thru last year! Until the early 1960s East Granby was mostly agrarian, but has slowly become suburban as farms have given way to subdivisions. There are many beautiful historic homes, a volunteer library and a Congregational Church.

I hope you'll visit some of the other posts and see why New England is so special to us!


It's Monday, What Are You Reading?

It's Monday! What are You Reading? is hosted by J.Kaye's Book Blog. Tell the world about what you're reading, what you've recently finished, and what you are looking forward to reading. You're sure to hear about some great books!
I didn't receive any new books last week, luckily! I had gotten a little overwhelmed with ARCs and remembering which had to be reviewed at what times. I finally got a calendar and have scheduled them all out, some even in April!
I read The Triumph of Deborah by Eva Etzioni-Halevy last week and really enjoyed it. Eva had contacted me about a review, and since I love historical fiction and don't know much about the Old Testament, I was excited to try it. I will be reviewing it soon and having a giveaway for my copy.
I just finished Margaret Irwin's Young Bess, the first in her Good Queen Bess trilogy, last night. Originally written in 1945 it is being re-issued by Sourcebooks this spring. So that's another review you can look forward to in a couple of months!
This week I plan to read Get Lucky by Katherine Center, which looks like it will be an interesting story of returning home after years away and facing many ghosts of the pass, and The Founding, another historical fiction from Sourcebooks, written by Cynthia Harrod Eagles.
On my new audio book kick I have the first two Ariana Franklin books,Mistress of the Art of DeathandThe Serpent's Tale. I read Mistress of the Art of Death when it was first published and decided to listen to it before Serpent's Tale to refresh my memory. I've also got David Hosp's Innocence and MC Beaton's Death of a Gossip on audio. Hopefully I'll get a lot of things made for my etsy shop while listening!
If you didn't notice the links on the right, I have two book giveaways going on right now, The Swan Thieves by Elizabeth Kostova (5 copies from Hachette!) and They Found Him Dead by Georgette Heyer.

Totally un-book related, I am also participating in the One World, One Heart giveaway, with other crafters and artisans around the world. If you love handmade jewelry, art, accessories, you should check it out. Last year there were over 700 blogs giving things away!
So are you reading anything good this week that I might like? Tell me in the comments!

One World One Heart Giveaway

It's back! The One World One Heart Giveaway brings crafters from all over the world together. It's three weeks of love as artists share their creations and give them away to blog readers. This event is hosted by Lisa @ A Whimsical Bohemian, where all the participants are linked. Last year there were over three hundred artisans giving things away on their blogs, so it's a good thing we have three weeks to visit them all! So come ride the Magic Carpet and see what wonderful handmade items you might win.
My offering is the book Simply Handmade: 365 Easy Gifts and Decorations You Can Make along with a Winter Wonderland memory wire bracelet. If more than 100 people enter, I will add a second prize.
This giveaway is open to blog owners only. All you have to do is leave a comment on this post and make sure I have a way to contact you when you win. One entry per person only. Easy Peasy! Winners will be announced Monday, February 15, so all entries must be in by 11:59 PM Eastern US time on Sunday, February 14.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Georgette Heyer Mystery Giveaway

Sourcebooks is re-releasing many of Georgette Heyer's classic historical romances and mysteries, most written in the 1930s. If you have never read any of Heyer's work, you may be thinking, "Why put out old stories that are corny and dated?". Because they're not! I am hear to tell you that this should have been done much sooner!  I was lucky to read Devil's Cub, a historical romance and review it back in December. I loved it, so I begged Sourcebooks for another when the next set came out. They Found Him Dead is a mystery in the tradition of the cozy English country house whodunits, and I loved it. A birthday party is held for Silas Kane at his country home, Cliff House and a whole cast of quirky English characters attend, including his mother, business partners, young cousin, and the cousin's half brother, a rambunctious teen who loves exploring and is into everyone's business. When Silas does not come down for breakfast the next morning, family and staff look for him and he is found dead at the foot of the cliff, apparently falling during his pre-bedtime walk.

The inquest declares it an accident, but young Timothy Harte is convinced it was murder, and it looks like he may be correct when Silas's heir is shot dead at his desk. The local constabulary calls in Scotland Yard, and with Timothy in the middle of their investigation, they still manage to gather information and come up with several suspects. The investigation takes a fresh direction when it appears that attempts are being made on the life of Jim, the second heir!
I enjoyed all of the quirky characters, the ladies' maid who is overly loyal to her mistress, the no-nonsense young housekeeper, the smarmy business partner who likes to make moves on the ladies, the demanding and crotchety grande dame, and all the others. Each character description is precise, right down to their clothes and hobbies, making them vivid and easy to remember when try to figure out who is committing these murders. Definitely try They Found Him Dead or one of the other Georgette Heyer mysteries that have been re-released by Sourcebooks. They are all very reasonably priced and in paperback
Little Reminder: Any Amazon purchase you make by following a link on Thoughts from an Evil Overlord puts a few pennies in my currently unemployed pocket. If you're buying something anyway, you can just click through here, first.
Official FTC Disclosure: I received no compensation for this review, other than an Advance Reader Copy from Sourcebooks.
GIVEAWAY INFORMATION: Each entry should be a separate comment. Comments that do not meet the requirements will be deleted.
  • Leave a comment on this post telling me the name of your favorite mystery writer or series.
  • Become a Follower of the Evil Overlord. If you are already a Follower, just leave a separate comment saying so.
  • Tweet or post to your Facebook page.
  • Mention the giveaway on your blog.
  • Giveaway will end Sunday, January 31, 11:59 PM EST

Friday, January 22, 2010

I Love Snowflakes!

I love snow, snowflakes, and snowmen. I have a huge collection of snowmen, and I had several snowflake sweaters that I had to give away because they have all become too large. I'll begin building it up again next year, don't worry. I was very excited when AliciaMae of Crafts and Cooking chose snowflakes as a topic for the EtsyBloggers Street Team January carnival.
When I was teaching I always did a snowflake bulletin board, but not with the usual flat paper snowflakes. I'd teach the kids to make some very cool 3-D snowflakes. It would be frustrating for some, but this worked with students fourth grade and up. Step by step directions are available at WikiHow, as well as a video so to create this cool snowflake.
I spent a little time looking around on etsy, and found many cute things that fit the snowflake/snow theme. Clicking any picture will take you to the listing.


Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Vintage Thingies Thursday-Always Prepared

It's Thursday, the day for all things fabulously vintage! Suzanne @ Colorado Lady hosts the fun Vintage Thingies Thursday meme.This week I have something else that is not from my parents' basement. It's from no one's basement, actually. It belongs to my friend Paul, and he carries it most of the time whenever he leaves the house. It's always nice to see vintage thingies being used.
Paul uses this wonderful silver telescoping cup as his pill case. He likes to show off with it, opening and closing, as well as claim that he takes more pills than anyone. Which is definitely not true, because I take more pills than him. We've even counted and compared! LOL
I love the gorgeous embossing on the lid. I've never seen one of these so beautiful, I think I've only seen the plain, military-issues versions.
Added Note: I just found out I am featured in an Etsy Treasury showcasing products that bring awareness to different causes. Please go check it out, and if you are an Etsy member leave a comment for myextrabeads, the woman who created it. Treasuries only last 2 days, so hurry!
Have you got some nifty vintage item laying around and don't even realize it? Get it out and join us for Vintage Thingies Thursday @ ColoradoLady! It's wicked fun!

How to Save Your Own Life

Self-help books are not my usual cup of tea, but when Lisa from Books on the Brain recommended How to Save Your Own Life: 15 Lessons on Finding Hope in Unexpected Placesby Michael Gates Gill and told me it was a fast read, I decided that with a new year I'd give the genre another try, and I'm definitely glad I did.  How to Save Your Own Lifehas fifteen chapters, each beginning with a command: Love, Learn, Let Go, Laugh, followed by a description such as Let Go...of your watch, PDA, and iPod.  Like most self-help books, there's a lot of common sense with few brand-new ideas, but reading a book like this at the beginning of the year sparks a desire to simplify life and enjoy the blessings one already has rather than setting New Year's goals to do more, get more, and be more.  How to Save Your Own Life is a quick read, a small book you can keep in your briefcase or desk and pull out to re-read a chapter, almost like a book of daily meditations.   Yes, How to Save Your Own Life is a great gift for that person you know who is always too busy, but it's really something most American should sit down, read, and think about over a cup of coffee [or tea!].
In his first book,How Starbucks Saved My Life, Mr. Gill shares his experience as a man from a family of financial and social privilege who was devastated to be fired from his high-paying executive position at the age of 63. Lost and wandering through life without feeling a real purpose, a job was offered to him one day when he went for his morning coffee, and he found himself saying, "Yes."  The simple life he was living, and the people around him inspired the first book, and now he has taken lessons learned during his book tour to share with us in this inspiring little book full of super simple ideas. Below is a video of Michael Gates Gill talking about How to Save Your Own Life.
To read reviews from other bloggers and learn more about Michael Gates Gill, visit TLC Book Tours for a complete list of all the stops on the blog tour for How to Save Your Own Life.
FTC Disclosure: As Part of TLC Book Tours, I received an advance copy of How to Save Your Own Life from Gotham books to review. I received no other compensation for this review.
Little Reminder: Any Amazon purchase you make by following a link on Thoughts from an Evil Overlord puts a few pennies in my currently unemployed pocket. If you're buying something anyway, you can just click through here, first.