Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Publishing: A Writer's Memoir - Gail Godwin

Publishing book cover
Publishing: A Writer's Memoir by Gail Godwin
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA
Publication Date: January 13, 2015
Source/Format: Publisher (Thanks!) || Hardcover
[I received this book from the publisher. This in no way affects the opinions in my review.]

Publishing is a personal story of a writer's hunger to be published, the pursuit of that goal, and then the long haul--for Gail Godwin, forty-five years of being a published writer and all that goes with it.Recollecting her long and storied career, Godwin maps the publishing industry over the last fifty years, a time of great upheaval and ingenuity. Her eloquent memoir is illuminated by Frances Halsband's evocative black-and-white line drawings throughout.

Let me preface my thoughts with two facts: 

1) I have yet to read a novel by Gail Godwin.
2) Nonetheless, I wanted to read about her experience as a published writer.

Publishing is a non-fiction novel where Godwin highlights the start, the ups and the downs of her prolific writing career. The chapters are not necessarily chronological, which was unexpected. But since they are dutifully titled, and include references to the time period/novels/publishers involved in the subtitle, it was less confusing than one might think. 

Personally, I found her style of narration very candid. She named names, talked about the troubles she faced and the highs of her career in equal measure. It was undoubtedly an eye-opener when it came to viewing the publishing industry, as Publishing is a novel where Godwin tells it how it is. While delivery was a little dry, it was still fascinating to read about all of the things Godwin has experienced so far. 

Godwin has graced us with her anecdotes, feelings included, and it’s downright compelling at certain points. Still, Publishing is not the type of memoir I would easily recommend, though it certainly has its merits. It would be the type of read I’d suggest to fellow writers, or those with an interest in publishing, or perhaps fans of Ms. Godwin herself.

Monday, January 26, 2015

The Ghosts of Heaven - Marcus Sedgwick

The Ghosts of Heaven book cover
The Ghosts of Heaven by Marcus Sedgwick
Publisher: Roaring Brook Press
Publication Date: January 6, 2015
Source/Format: Publisher (Thanks!) || ARC
[I received this book from the publisher. This in no way affects the opinions in this review.]

Four linked stories boldly chronicle madness, obsession, and creation through the ages. Beginning with the cave-drawings of a young girl on the brink of creating the earliest form of writing, Sedgwick traverses history, plunging into the seventeenth century witch hunts and a 1920s insane asylum where a mad poet's obsession with spirals seems to be about to unhinge the world of the doctor trying to save him. Sedgwick moves beyond the boundaries of historical fiction and into the future in the book's final section, set upon a spaceship voyaging to settle another world for the first time. Merging Sedgwick's gift for suspense with science- and historical-fiction, Ghosts of Heaven is a tale is worthy of intense obsession.

When faced with the task of reviewing a Marcus Sedgwick novel, I always find it impossible to put into words. A novel from him is an experience, one that resonates in a way unique to each reader. 

The Ghosts of Heaven is his latest release, a novel that is a story broken up into quarters - a girl who is fascinated by cave drawing, the hunt for witches, the experience of a doctor in an insane asylum, a man on a spaceship voyage. Each is set in a different time period, with a unique narrator and set of circumstances. What is it that ties everything together? Spirals, the shape that fascinates each of these narrators in different ways.

Each quarter of the novel contains a compelling story in its own right. Readers get the opportunity to know the characters fairly well during the time spent with them, and will feel for each one accordingly. But to me, what really makes The Ghosts of Heaven so interesting is how, by the end of each part, you're able to draw connections with the other sections. This, I feel, is part of Sedgwick's intent behind the story. The other part? Causing the reader to notice spirals, and to reflect on what they mean after all they've learned in these four stories.

The Ghosts of Heaven is, as most Sedgwick novels before it, not necessarily a novel for everyone. But if you're craving a novel that will inspire you to reflect on what you've read, or if you want to read a dark, haunting tale, this book may just be your cup of tea.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

2015 Book Blogger Love-a-Thon

Hello, friends! Today, I bring you an announcement that absolutely thrills me – the 2015 Book Blogger Love-a-Thon is open for sign-ups today. As always, I’m excited to be hosting such a fun event that fosters positivity, creativity + love in this book blogging community! I hope you’re already to get in on sharing the love with me this year.

A Little History

In 2012, Katelyn, one of my dearest blogging friends, hosted the first Book Blogger Love-a-Thon. She came up with the event, because she wanted to create a way for bloggers to spend some time sharing the love into the community. In 2013, I joined her to co-host the event and did it again in 2014. This year around, Katelyn will be taking a break from hosting – so I’ll be flying solo (and missing Katelyn while I do). 

The Book Blogger Love-a-Thon is an event dedicated to spreading the love for blogs + bloggers! It’s time dedicated to exploring the blogging community, leaving a comment or two, meeting new friends and fostering positivity among the bloggers of the community. The event includes an introduction post, mini challenges, Twitter chats and a giveaway! The full schedule will be sent to the participants after they sign up.

This year, I’m hoping to see all the blogger/reader/author/publisher love and encouragement popping up all over the place – and hoping everyone who participates will have a good time. A fun set of posts + a great set of prizes awaits all those who join! If you find yourself interested and want to sign up, please fill in the form below all the details. You’ll be an official #LoveAThon participant, joining me and countless others!


Who is invited to participate? Any bloggers, authors + publishers. It’s best that you have a blogging platform that you can use to post for the challenges though! (Anyone can jump in on the chats though!)

When will it take place? After the success we had last year, I’ve decided to keep the two day schedule. The Love-a-Thon will take place from February 21-22, 2015, 9AM-9PM EST on both days. 

How do I sign up? All you need to do is fill out the form below! You can grab the banner up top, or the button below to put in your sidebar. If you’re feeling extra excited, you can also share about the event on Twitter (using the official hashtag #LoveAThon), write a blog post or share on any other social media sites. The more bloggers who talk about the event, the more participants we’ll have and it’ll be even more fun for us all! Sign-ups will be open up until February 20, though I recommend signing up early so you can get a copy of the schedule and start planning your posts.

How can I help? There are two ways you can choose to help. First, you can help us spread the word! Last year’s number of participants really blew us away, and I’m hoping that there's a great response for the year’s Love-a-Thon as well! Second, you can donate to the giveaways! If you want to donate ANYTHING – books, swag, services – towards the mini-challenge giveaways or the big giveaway at the end, please email bbloveathon@gmail.com with details.

Twitter? Use the official hashtag (#LoveAThon) when tweeting about the event. I’ll be checking on it every now and then, so use it if you want me to see your tweets!

Questions, comments, concerns or suggestions? If you have any other concerns that were not answered here, feel free to send an email to bbloveathon@gmail.com or to tweet me at @alexalovesbooks. I’ll be happy to answer any queries you might have!

Before you guys sign-up for the Love-a-Thon, I wanted to take a moment to share about a special project that Estelle, Magan & Jamie will be doing - Random Acts of Kindness - that ties in perfectly with the Love-a-Thon's main intent: spreading love in the book blogging community. They are basically encouraging everyone to engage in random acts that focus on expressing gratitude and kindness to others. Perfect match for the Love-a-Thon, right? They'll be doing this in the week leading up the Love-a-Thon, and I highly encourage you to join them (as I will)! For more info, check out both Estelle's post and Jamie's post.

So, what are you waiting for? Sign up to participate in the 2015 Book Blogger Love-a-Thon today! If you do sign up for the 2015 Book Blogger Love-a-Thon, I just want you to know that I’m so grateful and so excited to have you joining me this year! This community is large and wonderful and made out of so many unique individuals, and it’s truly awesome to get to celebrate it this way.


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