Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday: THE PRINTMAKER'S DAUGHTER by Katherine Govier

is hosted by Jill from

Join in and tell us . . .

What are you waiting for?

My pick for this week is . . .

Pub. Date: November 2011
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Format: Paperback , 512pp  
ISBN-13: 9780062000361
ISBN: 0062000365

Description (from the publisher):
The legendary printmaker Hokusai created Japan’s best-known image, "The Great Wave"—but the story of his daughter Oei comes to life for the first time in this vivid historical novel, combining scholarly detective work and a daring narrative that shines fresh light on issues of authorship, duty, and the tender and inscrutable bond between a father and daughter.

Recounting the story of her life, Oei plunges us into the colorful world of 19th-century Edo, in which courtesans rub shoulders with poets, artists consort with warriors, and the arts flourish in an unprecedented moment of creative foment—all despite a repressive political regime. Oei and Hokusai live amongst actors, novelists, tattoo artists, and prostitutes, evading the Shogunate's spies. Her father journeys to gather visual references for his evolving masterpiece, "Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji." Wielding her brush, Oei rejects the typical pursuit of domesticity in favor of dedication to the arts. She defies all expectations of womanhood. All but one—a dutiful daughter to the last, she will obey the will of her eccentric father, the man who created her and who, ultimately, will rob her of her future.

"Lavishly researched and brilliant. . . . Govier astonishes throughout in her ability to write epic themes intimately, particularly in the lyrical, absorbing, and intense final hundred pages.” — Publishers Weekly (starred review)

Click here to visit the author's website.

About the author (from the publisher):
Katherine Mary Govier (born July 4, 1948) is a Canadian novelist. Born in Edmonton, Alberta, she was educated at the University of Alberta and York University. In 1997, she was awarded the Marian Engel Award for a woman writer in mid-career. Prior to that she was shortlisted for the Trillium Award in 1994, and won the City of Toronto Book Award in 1992. She has been made a Distinguished Alumna of the University of Alberta and is one of York University's "Famous Fifty" graduates. She has been Chair of the Writers' Trust of Canada and President of PEN Canada. Her novel CREATION was a New York Times Notable Book of 2003. Govier lives in Toronto, Ontario with her partner Nicholas Rundall. She has two children, Robin and Emily Honderich.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Teaser Tuesdays: AN EXPERT IN MURDER by Nicola Upson

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme hosted by Miz B. of Should Be Reading.

" Lydia gave an involuntary shudder. 'You know, I've just remembered what Johnny said when he made the toast last night: "To memorable exits." He couldn't have known, could he?' "

- page 160

(Josephine Tey Series Book 1)
by Nicola Upson

Pub. Date: June 2009
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Format: Paperback , 320pp
ISBN-13: 9780061451553
ISBN: 006145155X  

Want to play along?  Here's what to do:
  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title and author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

Book Giveaway: CLAIM OF INNOCENCE by Laura Caldwell

I have one (1) copy of Laura Caldwell's CLAIM OF INNOCENCE up for grabs.

I recently rated this book 3.5 stars and this was my bottom line:

"I enjoyed this book. I'd recommend CLAIM OF INNOCENCE if you're looking for a good, basic legal thriller that will entertain you but not strain your brain."

Click here to read my full review.


• Leave an original comment on this post telling me you would like to win. Include an email address with your comment so that I can contact you if you do win. Use a spam-thwarting format such as geebee.reads AT gmail DOT com or geebee.reads [at] gmail [dot] com

You must leave an email address in order to qualify. If I can't contact you, you can't win!

• You can earn an extra entry by being or becoming a Follower or Subscriber of this blog and telling me about it in a separate comment.

• Blog about this contest and provide me with the link to the post in a separate comment, and I'll give you yet another entry.

• Tweeting about this contest and providing me the link in a separate comment will get you one more entry. I've added a Retweet button at the bottom of every post.

• Stumble this blog, Digg it, or Technorati Fave it, whatever, and leave a separate comment for another entry.

• Winners must provide a U.S. or Canadian street address. The publisher is unable to deliver to P.O. Boxes.

• PLEASE NOTE: One win per household. If you win this title in another contest hosted at another blog, the publisher will only send one copy per household address.

Deadline for entry is 11:59 p.m. EST on Tuesday, October 4, 2011.

• Winners will have 48 hours to respond to my email announcing that they have won; if I don't hear from a winner, I will draw another name.

• Winners are determined using the sequence generator at


Monday, September 26, 2011

Mailbox Monday: September 26, 2011

 Mailbox Monday, created by Marcia of A Girl and Her Books (f/k/a The Printed Page, is being hosted this month by Leah at Amused By Books. If you'd like to join in, stop by Leah's and leave a link - or just browse through the comments to see what new books have been showing up.

What's in your mailbox?

A Memoir by God
(with David Javerbaum)

“Damned comical. Amen.”Kirkus

Click here to read excerpts (you won't be sorry!).

by Joseph Monninger

"The beauty and brutality of nature unfolds in The World As We Know It--a touching tale of love, the wounds of loss, and the fragile complexities within the human heart."
-- Beth Hoffman, New York Times bestselling author of Saving CeeCee Honeycutt

by Lauren Oliver
illustrated by Kei Acedera

"Invigorating and hopeful, this novel testifies to the power of friendship and generosity to conquer greed and depression." - Publishers Weekly

Click here to visit the book's gorgeous website.

by Philippa Gregory
David Baldwin
& Michael Jones

"[Gregory] again brings insight to English history, recreating the power struggle between two of the nation's most notable women in a tale fresh for modern readers. There's no question that she is the best at what she does." -- Associated Press

Click here to view the Reading Group Guide.

by Philippa Gregory

"A worthy addition to this fascinating series, once again distinguished by excellent characterization, thorough research, and a deft touch with the written word.” –Library Journal

Click here to visit the author's website.

(Book II in the Twilight of Avalon Trilogy)
by Anna Elliott

“Passion, conflict, danger and magic combine for an irresistible love story which will keep you turning the pages!” –Michelle Moran, Author of Nefertiti and Cleopatra’s Daughter

Click here to read an excerpt.

“Fresh as a loaf of homemade bread just out of the oven, The Birth House, a tale of sex, birth, love and pain will more than satisfy the hungry reader.” - Joan Clark, author of An Audience of Chairs

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Wonderful Wins: A Luscious Assortment of Books

I haven't participated in Mailbox Mondays for the last few weeks because of an overwhelming schedule, but I want to express my appreciation for some Wonderful Wins that I've received over the past few weeks.  My TBR pile is pretty well stocked with a lucious assortment. Now, if I could just finagle a few days off from work . . . 

75 Anniversary Edition

a win from Brenda

by Lorna Graham

a win from Heather
of Bewitched Bookworms

a win from Rebecca

by Nicola Upson

a win from Kat
of Reviews from the Heart

by Juliet Grey

a win from Anna

by Sam Wasson

a win from Kat
of Reviews from the Heart

a win from Laura

by Melanie Rawn

a win from Patrick
of Pat's Fantasy Hotlist

a win from LB-Kids
(Little Brown and Co.)

Thank you to these and all the wonderful bloggers who generously offer their time and energy to host giveaways. I know from my own experience how much work it can involve. And thank you to the publishers and publicists who make these giveaways possible. Everyone's efforts (as well as the prizes!) are much  appreciated.

Ditto Doubles: Is She or Isn't She?

Time for a little bit of fun.

I've been collecting some likely suspects for this feature on duplicate images on book covers.  I'm hoping some of you will chime in on these. What do you think?

Same cover girl with Photoshopped hair redo? I'm leaning toward yes, but I'm not all the way there.

Q: A Novel
by Evan Mandery

And what to you think about this one?  Clearly, it's not the same photo, maybe even a different couple, but I do think it's the same alleyway. The lamps look the same. What cinches it for me (or maybe "clinches" it, considering what these couples are up to!) is that damaged spot on the lower left wall.

by Paul Griner

Okay. Now that we've all strained our eyes, let's reward ourselves with an obvious duplication:

by Jennifer Cody Epstein

I think all these covers are beautifully done no matter how it was accomplished. And as is usually the case, I think the insides of these books look pretty good, too! Click on the titles for full descriptions.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday: CIRCUS GALACTICUS by Deva Fagan

is hosted by Jill from

Join in and tell us . . .

What are you waiting for?

My pick for this week is . . .

some circus magic for the younger set . . .

Pub. Date: November 2011
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Format: Hardcover , 304pp  
Age Range: 12 and up
 ISBN-13: 9780547581361
ISBN: 054758136X

Description (from the publisher):
Rebel. Champion gymnast. Intergalactic traveler?

Trix can deal with being an orphan charity case at a snotty boarding school. She can hold her own when everyone else tells her not to dream big dreams. She can even fight back against the mysterious stranger in a silver mask who tries to steal the meteorite her parents trusted her to protect.

But her life is about to change forever. The Circus Galacticus has come to town, bringing acts to amaze, delight, and terrify. And now the dazzling but enigmatic young Ringmaster has offered Trix the chance to be a part of it.

Soon Trix discovers an entire universe full of deadly enemies and potential friends, not to mention space leeches, ancient alien artifacts, and exploding chocolate desserts. And she just might unravel the secrets of her own past—if she can survive long enough.

Click here to read Chapter One.

You can enter the Goodreads Giveaway for CIRCUS GALACTICUS until October 15th.

Click here to visit the author's website.

About the author (from the publisher):
Deva Fagan is the author of Fortune’s Folly and The Magical Misadventures of Prunella Bogthistle. She lives in Maine with her husband and her dog. She is not (to her knowledge) a space-faring mutant, though she has been known to dye her hair bright colors and is easily distracted by a particularly fine starry night sky. Visit her website at


Click here to read an excerpt.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Book Review: CLAIM OF INNOCENCE by Laura Caldwell

Pub. Date: August 2011
Publisher: Mira
Format: Mass Market Paperback , 448pp
ISBN-13: 9780778329329
ISBN: 0778329321

Description (from the publisher):
Forbidden relationships are the most tempting. And the most dangerous.

It was a crime of passion–or so the police say. Valerie Solara has been charged with poisoning her best friend. The prosecution claims she's always been secretly attracted to Amanda's husband…and with Amanda gone, she planned to make her move.
Attorney Izzy McNeil left the legal world a year ago, but a friend's request pulls her into the murder trial. Izzy knows how passion can turn your life upside down. She thought she had it once with her ex–fiance, Sam. Now she wonders if that's all she has in common with her criminally gorgeous, younger boyfriend, Theo.

It's Izzy's job to present the facts that will exonerate her client–whether or not she's innocent. But when she suspects Valerie is hiding something, she begins investigating–and uncovers a web of secret passions and dark motives, where seemingly innocent relationships can prove poisonous…

My Rating:  3.5 out of 5 stars - an entertaining and fast-paced legal and romantic thriller

My Thoughts:  I like a good thriller now and then. Sometimes they're just what I need to cleanse my reading palate as I transition from one historical period to another or after an especially gut-wrenching memoir. Laura Caldwell's CLAIM OF INNOCENCE caught me at just the right time. I found it to be a pleasantly engaging light read.

CLAIM OF INNOCENCE is actually the fourth book in the Izzy McNeil series, though it was the first one that I read. I didn't find myself at much of a disadvantage picking up the series at this point. It's not that different than filling in a new friend's backstory. On the other hand, I do prefer reading a series in order just so certain subplots aren't spoiled.

In this installment, Izzy deals with a number of personal issues as well as the main story line - defending a woman accused of killing her best friend. She's torn between reuniting with her ex-fiance (clearly one of those aforementioned subpots) and developing a deeper commitment with her new, much younger lover; her long-dead father isn't so dead after all; her mother seems ambivilent about her own marriage, and her stepfather, the only real father she has ever known, is leaning on Izzy for counsel and support.

While it might be a bit of a stretch for an attorney to jump right into criminal defense without prior experience, this is fiction, and let's face it, escapist fiction at that. Izzy is dedicated and observent, and she's able to form a bond with the defendant that her co-counsel cannot. Despite this bond, and though Izzy believes the woman is innocent, she knows there's more to this case than meets the eye and she's determined to get to the truth.

I liked Izzy. She's smart and has a strong individualistic streak. (Besides dating a much younger guy, she drives around Chicago on a scooter!) I really liked her young boyfriend, Theo. Frankly, I wouldn't be giving the ex-fiance a second thought if Theo was in my life. ;-) I wasn't crazy about the ex-fiance, the not-dead father, or the killer (guess I wasn't supposed to like the killer anyway!).  I don't know that I'd go back and read previous books in the series because now I know too much, but I would read future installments and I'd also like to check out a few of Caldwell's stand-alone novels, especially THE GOOD LIAR.

I enjoyed this book. I'd recommend CLAIM OF INNOCENCE if you're looking for a good, basic legal thriller that will entertain you but not strain your brain.

About the author (from the publisher):
Laura Caldwell, a former trial lawyer, is currently a professor and Distinguished Scholar in Residence at Loyola University Chicago School of Law. Her first book, Burning the Map, was selected by as one of the best of 2002. The releases of A Clean Slate, The Year of Living Famously and The Night I Got Lucky prompted Booklist to declare, "Caldwell is one of the most talented and inventive—writers around." Her mysteries, Look Closely and The Rome Affair, received critical acclaim, and her international thriller, The Good Liar, was called "a massive achievement." She has been published in ten languages and more than twenty countries.

The Izzy McNeil series:




I read this book as part of the R.I.P. VI Challenge.

  • Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book for review purposes only. No monetary consideration was exchanged for my honest opinion.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

R.I.P. VI Challenge - September 1st - October 31st

September 1st through October 31st
Hosted by Carl V. at Stainless Steel Droppings

I'm jumping on board the R.I.P. VI Challenge hosted by Carl V. at Stainless Steel Droppings. Even though this is the sixth year the challenge has run, this is the first time I've joined it. I'd be looney not to - I read so much that qualifies and the requirements are so broad, the only way I'll fail is if I don't post my reviews. That's the real challenge for me!

I'm commiting to the challenge on three levels: books, short stories, and movies. Here's an excerpted description from Carl's post followed by a listing of my personal choices. As I post reviews, I'll link them to the lists below.

"The purpose of the R.I.P. Challenge is to enjoy books that could be classified as:

Dark Fantasy.

"The emphasis is never on the word challenge, instead it is about coming together as a community and embracing the autumnal mood, whether the weather is cooperative where you live or not."

"Read four books, any length, that you feel fit (my very broad definitions) of R.I.P. literature. It could be Stephen King or Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Ian Fleming or Edgar Allan Poe…or anyone in between."

1. CLAIM OF INNOCENCE by Laura Caldwell (Thriller)
3. THE TAKER by Alma Katsu
5. TWO FOR SORROW by Nicola Upson

"You can read short stories any time during the challenge."

1. THE LOTTERY by Shirley Jackson
2. A GOOD MAN IS HARD TO FIND by Flannery O'Conner
3. THE PEAR-SHAPED MAN by George R.R. Martin

". . . for those of us that like to watch suitably scary, eerie, mysterious gothic fare
during this time of year.  It may be something on the small screen or large.
 It might be a television show, like Dark Shadows, or your favorite film"

1. --To Be Decided --

Friday, September 2, 2011

Friday Finds: THROUGH NO FAULT OF MY OWN by Coco Irvine

Friday Finds is a weekly meme hosted by MizB at Should Be Reading. Click on over and tell us about your own wonderful book finds by leaving either a link or a comment.

I "found" this lovely little book at Unshelved.

by Coco Irvine, Peg Meier

Pub. Date: March 2011
Publisher: University of Minnesota Press
Format: Paperback , 104pp
Series: Fesler-Lampert Minnesota Heritage
ISBN-13: 9780816673063
ISBN: 0816673063

Description (from the publisher):
On Christmas Day, 1926, twelve-year-old Clotilde “Coco” Irvine received a blank diary as a present. Coco loved to write—and to get into scrapes—and her new diary gave her the opportunity to explain her side of the messes she created: “I’m in deep trouble through no fault of my own,” her entries frequently began. The daughter of a lumber baron, Coco grew up in a twenty-room mansion on fashionable Summit Avenue at the peak of the Jazz Age, a time when music, art, and women’s social status were all in a state of flux and the economy was still flying high.
Coco’s diary carefully records her adventures, problems, and romances, written with a lively wit and a droll sense of humor. Whether sneaking out to a dance hall in her mother’s clothes or getting in trouble for telling an off-color joke, Coco and her escapades will captivate and delight preteen readers as well as their mothers and grandmothers.
Peg Meier’s introduction describes St. Paul life in the 1920s and provides context for the privileged world that Coco inhabits, while an afterword tells what happens to Coco as an adult—and reveals surprises about some of the other characters in the diary.

Click here to read Peg Meier's article on "Unearthing Coco Irvine."

About the author(s) (from the publisher):
A lumber baron’s daughter, Coco Irvine Moles (1914–1975) grew up on St. Paul's prestigious Summit Avenue. She and her sister Olivia Irvine Dodge donated their family home to the state of Minnesota in 1965, and since 1966 it has served as the governor's residence. Peg Meier was a reporter at the Star Tribune for thirty-five years. She is the author of many popular books, including Wishing for a Snow Day, Bring Warm Clothes, and Too Hot, Went to Lake.


Photo by Brian Shriver


Everyone in my family made it through Irene and her aftermath without any major catastrophes. Thank goodness! Yes, we went days without power, but some of us had running water and gas stoves. (Still tossed out most of the contents of the refrigerator and freezer.)  Yes, we were all separated for part of the time and often without even cell phone service so we were not able to check in with each other. That was nerve-wracking!

As it turned out, I did not evacuate during the actual hurricane. After thinking about it and talking with neighbors, I believed our house would be okay but access to our penninsula neighborhood might be cut off due to flooding. Most people in the neighborhood were staying, so I decided to take my chances. Evacuation is never easy, but certain kinds of pets make it really complicated and we have two cats. On Sunday evening after things quieted down a bit, I hopped the bridge and spent the night at my Mom's. My sister and neice and nephew extended their vacation in Florida so they remained out of harm's way. We were lucky to only go a few days without power.  There was a small fire at my Mom's senior housing building caused by the overuse of generators, but no one was hurt and she ended up spending a couple of nights at my house.

In my general area, things are slowly getting back to normal. There are still several thousand without power, and I know some people have suffered complete devastation.  My heart goes out to them.  But all in all, for me and mine, we were really quite lucky.

Thank you to everyone for your comments and emails full of good wishes and concern. I hope any of you who were visited by Irene came through as well as I did.

I have a lot of catching up to do here at A Sea of Books. Not surprisingly, I haven't been able to do much reading this week.  Actually, the most reading I did was during the actual hurricane! There was nothing else to do, and not much else I wanted to do!

P.S.  That's an actual picture taken from my neighborhood at the top of the post. Brian Shriver is an amazing photographer, and he specializes in panoramic shots. I strongly urge you to click on through and check out his work. I especially like this one of the Looff Carousel from Crescent Park in Riverside, Rhode Island. It's awesome!