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Review: The Mapmaker’s Children

May 28, 2015

The Mapmaker's Children

Eden and her husband have moved out of the city, hoping the slower pace will help them in their quest to have a baby.  Their new house is old and full of character and Eden finds a few old things stored away in her pantry.  A little investigation leads her to Sarah Brown, a strong woman from the past who wasn’t all that different than she is.  Sarah’s father was the well known abolitionist, John Brown.  He passed his values down to his children and Sarah uses her talents to help the Underground Railroad.

Sarah McCoy expertly weaves the stories of these two women together in her wonderful historical novel, The Mapmaker’s Children.  Even though the two women lived a hundred and fifty years apart and lived very different lives, deep down inside they were very much alike – seeking to find value in their lives.

McCoy imagines a life for John Brown’s real daughter Sarah and gives readers a peek into the workings of the Underground Railroad.  She spins a dual narrative with Eden and her struggle with infertility – a struggle so many women can relate to.  I was engrossed with both stories but have to admit that I enjoyed Eden’s just a little bit more because of Cleo, a wonderful secondary character.  Both women felt real to me, though, so I was invested in this gem right from the start.  The Mapmaker’s Children will have broad appeal for both historical fiction readers and women’s fiction readers.  This is a book you don’t want to miss!

Review copy provided by Random House.  I am an Indiebound Affliate.

Wondrous Words Wednesday

May 27, 2015

Wondrous Words Wednesday is a weekly meme where you can share new words that you’ve encountered or spotlight words you love.  Feel free to get creative!   If you want to play along, grab the button, write a post and come back and add your link to Mr. Linky!

I found three great words in one sentence in Mademoiselle Chanel by C. W. Gortner.

I also had astrakhan-trimmed coats in silk velvet and quilted charmeuse with matching linings; black, red, and gold tabard dresses with square necklines, flared embroidered cuffs, and low-slung waists; and waterfall gowns beaded in lignite jet.

1. astrakhan – I found two definitions for astrakhan: karakul of Russian origin and a cloth with a usually wool, curled, and looped pile resembling karakul.  Reading those definitions made me wonder what a karakul is so I looked that up to.  A karakul is any breed of hardy fat-tailed sheep with a narrow body and coarse wiry fur.


2. tabard – A tabard is a short loose-fitting sleeveless or short-sleeved coat or cape.


3. lignite – Lignite is a usually brownish black coal intermediate between peat and bituminous coal.


What words do you want to celebrate today?

Author event and giveaway: Susan Boyer

May 26, 2015

Susan Boyer

I was lucky enough to attend the launch party for Agatha Award winning author Susan Boyer‘s latest book, Lowcountry Boneyard.  It’s the third book in her Liz Talbot series – mysteries set in the lowcountry with the lightest touch of the supernatural.  I’ve known Susan for quite some time now because she’s a local author for me.  She attends many of the same author events I do and supports our local indie bookstore, Fiction Addiction.  That alone is enough to make me like her but I have to tell you Susan is a kind, generous, and uplifting person.  Her launch party was packed and featured delicious food and lots of great conversation.

I got Susan to autograph a copy of Lowcountry Boneyard for one lucky reader and she threw in a Stella Maris (the fictional setting of her books) t-shirt to sweeten the deal.

About Lowcountry Boneyard:

When a father hires PI Liz Talbot to find his heiress daughter, Liz suspects the most difficult part will be convincing the overbearing patriarch she left town. That’s what the Charleston Police Department believes. But behind the garden walls South of Broad, family secrets pop up like weeds in the azaleas. The neighbors recollect violent arguments between Kent and her parents. Eccentric twin uncles and a gaggle of cousins covet the family fortune. And the lingering spirit of a Civil-War-era debutante may know something if Colleen, Liz’s dead best friend, can get her to talk. Liz juggles her case, the partner she’s in love with, and the family she adores. But the closer she gets to what has become of Kent, the closer Liz dances to her own grave.

To enter to win an autographed copy of LOWCOUNTRY BONEYARD plus a Stella Maris t-shirt, simply fill out the entry form.  Contest is open worldwide – one entry per person, please.  I will use to determine the winner.  Contest ends at midnight EDT Thursday, June 4 2015.    Comments are welcome (and appreciated) but will not get you an entry in the contest.

Mailbox Monday

May 25, 2015

Mailbox Monday May 25

Welcome to Mailbox Monday, a meme started by Marcia of To Be Continued, and now hosted on its own blog.   It’s BEA week so I’ll be busy.  The next couple of days will be spent getting ready and then I’ll head to New York mid-week.  I’m really looking forward to it!  I found these books in my mailbox last week:





What did you find in your mailbox last week?

Review: Doodle Lit

May 22, 2015

Doodle Lit

According to Jennifer Adams and Alison Oliver, doodling is “a simple form of being creative” that can “make you feel calm and relaxed,” so they’ve created Doodle Lit, a fantastic book to help kick start the inner doodler in you!

Doodle Lit is divided into sections by well-known authors such as Arthur Conan Doyle and Emily Bronte.  The beginning of each section tells you a little about the author and features a doodle by them!  All of the activities in the section are geared toward the author and their books – for example, in the Lewis Carroll section, you’re encouraged to draw new hats for the Mad Hatter.  There are pages to doodle on, color on, and write on and there are even a few puzzles thrown in for fun.

This book features heavy duty paper and perforated pages so you can pull them out to work on them.  Adams and Oliver encourage you to get creative with “pencils, paints, markers, and crayons” and “to cut things from magazines or add photos” or other items.   Doodle Lit will provide hours of entertainment for anyone aged 8 and up and I highly recommend it.

Doodle Lit interior

kid konnection newI will link this up to Booking Mama’s Saturday feature, Kid Konnection. If you’d like to participate in Kid Konnection and share a post about anything related to children’s books (picture, middle grade, or young adult) from the past week, leave a comment as well as a link on her site.

Review copy provided by Gibbs Smith. I am an Indiebound Affiliate.


At the movies: Woman in Gold

May 21, 2015

Woman in Gold

When Maria Altman was going through her sister’s estate, she discovered some old letters from her sister’s attempts to recover artwork stolen from their family’s Vienna apartment by Nazis officers who looted their possessions.  Those letters sparked something in the strong-willed Maria so she contacted a friend’s son who was a young, inexperienced lawyer.  The two became obsessed and were determined to find justice for Maria’s family.

Woman in Gold is an outstanding movie!  It tells the story of Maria’s legal battles in the US and Austria and, through a series of flashbacks, tells her story from the beginning of World War II.  Maria came from a genteel, privileged background and has a fascinating story of her own.

The movie does drag in a spot or two but that didn’t keep my friend and I from thoroughly enjoying it.  Both Helen Mirren and Ryan Reynolds are outstanding in their roles and Maria’s story is fascinating.  After seeing the movie, I had to read more about her and the Woman in Gold.  If you missed this movie in the theater, be sure to rent it.


Wondrous Words Wednesday

May 20, 2015

Wondrous Words Wednesday is a weekly meme where you can share new words that you’ve encountered or spotlight words you love.  Feel free to get creative!   If you want to play along, grab the button, write a post and come back and add your link to Mr. Linky!

All of this week’s words came from and uncorrected proof of Eight Hundred Grapes by Laura Dave.

1. thief – “Then he took out his thief to a loud cheer.”

I was certain the character didn’t have a robber in his pocket so I looked this word up and found that a wine thief is a pipette used to remove a small amount of wine from a cask to taste or test it.


2. trope – “This was a trope of Jen’s – Henry’s brilliance.”

I felt like I should know the definition of this word, but I didn’t.  Trope has several meanings, including figure of speech.  In this case, I think Dave meant a common or overused theme or device.


3. enjoin – “Thank you for trying to enjoin me.”

This is another word that seemed familiar but I wasn’t sure of the definition.  Enjoin means to direct or impose by authoritative order or with urgent admonition.


What words do you want to celebrate today?


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