28 February 2011

Yes. I'm Going All the Way.

Well, almost. I'll admit that I get a little swayed by the masses at times. Who doesn't, though? We get our book recommendations from each other! Recently, I jumped on Twitter a few months back and even created a Facebook site a couple of weeks ago. Heck, I even did my first vlog last week.

So when it seemed that everyone recently was purchasing their domain names, I started to get a little paranoid. After all, I really bonded to the Coffee and a Book Chick name, and I slowly started to freak out that someone, somewhere in the world, would innocently purchase www.coffeeandabookchick.com and I would forever be mad at myself for not doing it sooner.

I have no idea if blogging will be a lifelong love - I know that there will be times in life when I won't blog as much, or even at all. But I knew that I wanted to have my own little corner on the great world wide web, and Coffee and a Book Chick was the sign I wanted to put over the door. Now, it's mine and I feel all warm and fuzzy.

So. Thank you to all the esteemed and veteran book bloggers for welcoming me into your ranks as a newbie. I've learned so much and I'm coming up on my official one year in May, and I'm pretty excited!

I think it should redirect you appropriately, but in case it doesn't, know that:

http://coffeeandabookchick.blogspot.com *should* redirect you to http://www.coffeeandabookchick.com.

Thank you!

Happy Reading,
Coffee and a Book Chick


23 February 2011

Did you see my gushing praise on my vlog yesterday? Did you know that next month the release of one of the best Young Adult novels I've ever read comes out?

Between Shades of Gray, by Ruta Sepetys reviews a little known fact of history - the subsequent aftermath of the signing of the Nazi-Soviet Non-Aggression Pact resulted in millions of people, those considered "anti-Soviet" in the Baltic States (Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania), were deported to Russian prison work camps and sentenced to ten or more years. Many were as young as children, even babies, who were sentenced. With the countries being erased off of the map, who would remember them? Read my full review by clicking here.

I'm so fortunate to have this opportunity to host a giveaway and include an Author Interview with Ruta Sepetys. The research conducted with survivor stories is unquestionably heartbreaking, yet beautifully written. If you don't win this book through this giveaway, please make sure to read it soon - there is so much history to share!

I have TWO copies to give away and the author is also including these beautiful bookmarks & key chains!
Entries accepted through this Sunday, February 27, 2011

To be entered, all you have to do is...
  1. Please leave a comment with your email address.
  2. You don't have to be a follower of the blog or Twitter...you don't even have to tweet about it or anything...BUT...I love feeling the love. 
  3. So, leave an extra comment each time you do tweet or blog about it to up your chances, and leave another comment if you become a fan of my Coffee and a Book Chick Facebook site...

Author Interview

1.  As a debut author, what prompted you to begin writing and to go through the tough process to find an agent, a publisher, etc.?

RS - Growing up, I was a bit lost in the middle. I never felt part of the inside track but I wasn't an outsider either. So I became more of an observer. I wrote things down with the intention of one day creating stories around the characters and situations I observed. I also love to discover bits of history that may have been hidden for some reason or another. The piece of history I wrote about has a very personal connection for me but it wasn't the first book I queried with. I sent a middle-grade novel to an agent and at the last minute decided to enclose a couple pages of Between Shades of Gray, just to show the range of my writing. The agent called and told me that the voice and story of Between Shades of Gray felt more authentic than my other book. He told me that's what I should pursue. So I shelved the first book and wrote Between Shades of Gray. I am so grateful for that advice!

2.  Your debut book which is released next month, deals with some very tough topics that are not often, if at all, discussed in history. As Lithuanians in the 1940s, Lina and her family find themselves in the middle of a great political divide when it was deemed that the Baltic States should no longer exist on a map. The deportation of hundreds of thousands of people to Russian gulags and to work on farms occurred. Given prison sentences of more than ten years at times (even for children) were issued. They essentially starved or froze in the harsh winters as a result of these prison sentences. How did you begin your research? What was it like to visit the areas that you mention in the book?

RS - I took two trips to Lithuania to research the book. I met with survivors, family members, historians, psychologists and members of government. I conducted lengthy interviews. It was heart-wrenching, really emotional. Some of the people I interviewed had never spoken about what happened and it was quite traumatic for them to talk about it. But it was wonderful to finally meet many family members and see where my father grew up. 

3.  Between Shades of Gray touches on several tough and heart-wrenching moments that many people may not normally read about - what helped you decide to write it for the YA audience?

RS - Many of the survivors I interviewed were teens when they were deported to Siberia. Their stories were incredibly compelling. The teen years are intense because you're experiencing so many things for the first time. Imagine going through that in captivity in Siberia. So I thought that making the main character a teenager might add an interesting dimension to the story. Also, I desperately hoped that by writing for a YA audience, teachers and librarians might discover this piece of history.  

4.  While Lina was the main character and I absolutely loved her, I found that I was equally drawn to her mother - her strength and resilience brought me to tears on more than one occasion. Was there someone in your research that caught your eye to make this character, or was it a combination of research and personal influences?

RS - The character of Elena definitely came from personal influences, most of all my own mother and sister. My mother has always been so devoted and loving to her children. My older sister is also an incredible woman and mother. So I combined my mother and sister to create Elena.   

5.  The title of the book is beautiful, and the cover is magnificent! How did you come up with the title and how involved do authors get to be when it comes to selecting the cover of their book?

RS - Thank you! I love the cover too. The designer at Penguin did a wonderful job. In my case, I wasn't consulted about the cover. But when my publisher sent it to me I loved it immediately. In terms of the title, I think sometimes we tend to categorize things in the extreme (good/evil, love/hate, etc.) But usually, things are not simply black or white. More often, the truth lies somewhere in the middle and we find love there, between shades of gray. In meeting with survivors I learned that their situation was complicated and choices were difficult. Not all the Soviets were cruel. Some showed compassion. So they couldn't hate all of the Soviets. Hope and truth lived between endless layers of gray. That was the inspiration for the title.
6.  The video explaining the reasons for why you wanted to write this story - how your family was affected by this historic tragedy - was both beautiful and incredibly sad. How has your family, both in the States and overseas, received your book?

RS - My family has been incredibly supportive from day one. My parents read every draft and we have celebrated each foreign sale together. My father also appears in the video and it was incredibly special to have him in it. 

7.  What authors/books do you love to read?

RS - Wow, there are so many. I love anything by Meg Rosoff. I also love Laurie Halse Anderson, Deborah Heiligman, Edith Wharton, Sharon Cameron, Roald Dahl, and Philip Ardagh. I also enjoy non-fiction and biographies. 

8.  What's next for you?

RS - I'm currently writing another book for Philomel. It's historical fiction set in the US in the 1950's. In terms of what's next, I just want to keep writing. I have so many stories and characters in my head and I really want to get them down on paper!

Thank you so much, Ruta!! I'm really looking forward to seeing the success of your book and I can't wait to read more from you!

RS - Thank you so much for having me here, Natalie! 

Author Bio
Born and raised in Michigan, Ruta Sepetys is the daughter of a Lithuanian refugee. The nations of Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia disappeared from maps in 1941 and did not reappear until 1990. As this is a story seldom told, Ruta wanted to give a voice to the hundreds of thousands of people who lost their lives during Stalin's cleansing of the Baltic region.
Ruta lives with her family in Tennessee. Between Shades of Gray is her first novel. You can visit Ruta Sepetys at www.rutasepetys.com

Happy Reading,
Coffee and a Book Chick


22 February 2011

My First Vlog...Spotlighting Three Debut Authors...

*chuckling nervously*

I hope you enjoy my first vlog... I wanted to spotlight three debut authors for 2011. Maybe I'll do more...what do you think?

Happy Viewing,
Coffee and a Book Chick


21 February 2011

Devotion: A Memoir, by Dani Shapiro

She is an adult, married, with a young son. She is a writer, living in New York, with deadlines and assignments. Her place in life is already carved out and understood.


For Dani Shapiro, her memoir embraces the fact that she actually doesn't know, but that she is trying - trying so very, very hard - to find out. Most especially, faith becomes the crucial piece that perhaps will help make sense of it all, to calm her anxiety and the fear that something bad could happen at any moment. Faith, though, has almost disappeared in her adult life, which is the most troubling. The uneasy feeling of being an outsider in the very religion you were raised in is undeniably unsettling. She wonders how it is possible that she doesn't remember Jewish hymns and prayers that she grew up hearing and reciting herself - how can this be so? The doubt and fear become the wall, separating her from some semblance of personal foundation.

This beautifully written memoir is a quiet undertaking, an introspective study into understanding meaning and religion, if only to feel a connection to her deeply religious father or to repair the relationship with her mother - maybe, actually, even to God. And I could not put it down.

Weaving elements of different faiths, yoga, Kripalu, her search is a lyrical unfolding of personal stories, snippets of contemplation, short pages of confusion, heartbreak, and understanding. Dani Shapiro's path evoked a sense of my own questions of faith - where was I to fit myself in the great landscape of life? Reading it in a few hours was a simple journey for a similar door to open a bit more, and understand personal faith.

I know that this will fit perfectly on my bookshelf, a comforting reference point. One person's life can't possibly provide all of the answers another hopes for, but it can certainly offer a bit of comfort to know that you're not the only one moving about and trying to make sense of it all. This is my first time reading Dani Shapiro's work and I kick myself for not having read her other books sooner.

Although I'm sure this will be recommended mostly for women, I would recommend this to anyone who has pursued their own questions of life and faith, and their place in all of it. Book clubs - this is definitely one to pick! I enthusiastically encourage you to select this for your next meeting - there is no question that it will evoke thoughtful discussions and personal stories. Dani Shapiro will also be available to Skype with your book club! Click here to find out more.

About the Author
Dani Shapior's most recent books include the novels Black & White and Family History and the bestselling memoir Slow Motion. Her short stories and essays have appeared in the New Yorker, Granta, Tin House, Elle, Vogue, Ploughshares, and O, The Oprah Magazine, among other publications. She livers with her husband and son in Litchfield County, Connecticut.

Follow Dani:

Many thanks to Trish with TLC Book Tours for giving me the opportunity to read this book!
Please take a look through the upcoming tour schedule to read more reviews!

Wednesday, February 9th: Kelly’s Lucky You!
Thursday, February 10th: Book Club Classics!
Monday, February 14th: {Mis}Adventures of an Army Wife
Tuesday, February 15th: Books Lists Life
Wednesday, February 16th: nomadreader
Tuesday, February 22nd: Coffee and a Book Chick
Wednesday, February 23rd: Colloquium
Friday, February 25th: Books in the City
Monday, February 28th: English Major’s Junk Food
Tuesday, March 1st: she reads and reads
Tuesday, March 1st: The House of the Seven Tails
Wednesday, March 2nd: Boarding in My Forties
Thursday, March 3rd: Man of La Book
Tuesday, March 8th: Chefdruck Musings

Happy Reading,
Coffee and a Book Chick


20 February 2011

Who Won the Giveaway for Evenfall by Liz Michalski?

Brockport @ 175
Liz Michalski's Evenfall is out THIS MONTH! So if you didn't win it in this giveaway, please stop on by any bookstore to flip through the book. I think you might be excited to bring it home! Read my full review by clicking here.

Congratulations to...

I've sent you an email requesting address. And then all you need to do is read it, then review it!

Happy Reading,
Coffee and a Book Chick


16 February 2011

Wordless Wednesday...

My honeymoon in Rome a year and a half ago...

Monumento Nazionale a Vittorio Emanuele II or Altare della Patria
For more Wordless Wednesdays, click here.

Happy Dreaming,
Coffee and a Book Chick


14 February 2011

Monday, Monday... What Are You Reading?

First, THANK YOU to Sheila at Book Journey! I won her anniversary giveaway and woke up this  morning to find a $20 Amazon gift card in my email! *dance* Woot!!

  • In the Belly of Jonah, by Sandra Brannan - This has been so well received and I'm excited to get a chance to read it. And this one is autographed! *squeals* Here's the first couple paragraphs: "A window cut into a girl's body sets off a desperate search for a serial killer with an artistic bent. Liv "Boots" Bergen is shocked when the body of a stunning college intern working in her Colorado limestone quarry is found on the shores of a nearby reservoir. Clues are scarce - except that the crime scene appears to be a macabre, intricately staged tableau."
  • Book of Days, by James L. Rubart - Although something I don't normally pick up, it's a Christian fiction book that definitely hooked me. Doesn't this sound different? "Young Cameron Vaux's mind is slipping. Memories of his wife, killed two years earlier in a car accident, are vanishing just as his dad predicted they would. Memories he knows he has to remember. His father tells Cameron that to save his mind he must find 'the book with all days in it' - the past and future record of every dole on earth." Something about it just drew me in.

Happy Reading,
Coffee and a Book Chick


12 February 2011

Villette, by Charlotte Bronte: Week One

A day(ish) late on my first weekly post! Eek.

Wallace at Unputdownables is hosting the Villette Read-a-long. Each week through March 31st, a short section of the book will be read, and a weekly write-up will be posted here and at the other participants' blogs. These posts will contain spoilers...

I was pulled in immediately. Lucy Snowe is living with her godmother, Ms. Bretton, when little six-year-old Polly arrives. Polly's a little bit of a brat and it's pretty obvious that she is downright spoiled. Temporarily staying with them since her father isn't well, she is drawn to Graham, the sixteen-year-old son of Ms. Bretton. Teasing her and treating her like a little sister, Polly becomes distressed when his attention is not on her, and almost to the point where I felt uncomfortable by her reaction, even though it seems innocent enough.

I was getting a little annoyed with Polly at this point, though.

When Polly eventually returns to her father, the focus circles back to Lucy Snowe. I was pleased about this because I didn't feel as if I knew her, even though she had been narrating the entire time.

After a few years, and distanced from Ms. Bretton, Graham, and Polly, Lucy's prospects for work are slim. She settles with an elderly, ill, and kind woman, Miss Marchmont, who shares her sad love story one night and then passes away, leaving Lucy jobless again. Yet another sad moment for Lucy as Miss Marchmont promised her the night she passed that she would do something nice for Lucy should anything happen to her, help her with finances and such - but she dies that same night, so she obviously didn't have a chance to change her will or anything! Gah! I felt horrible for Lucy. True to Lucy's character, though, she accepts her final wages and moves on without saying a word about the deathbed promise.

Lucy is again back to what looks like a sad and lonely life. And where will she work? For someone who once had a lot of money, it's an unfortunate predicament for her to be in.

Loving this book so far.

Happy Reading,
Coffee and a Book Chick


09 February 2011

The Fifth Servant, by Kenneth Wishnia

Can a killer be tracked in only three days?

Benyamin Ben-Akiva, a young Talmudic scholar in Prague, has just arrived from Poland. While conducting his daily duties as a shammes (or servant), he hears the mournful cries of a distressed parent calling for their child throughout the city streets, the sound piercing his heart. A short while later, a young Christian girl is found murdered with her throat slashed in the shop of a Jewish owner.

On this night in 1592, the night before Passover, the Jewish community in Prague is suffering the oppression of religious discrimination. Christian "authorities" arrest the Jewish shopkeeper and hold him for blood libel, without any investigation to the crime scene at all. The laws of might overtake right, and with Ben-Akiva being new to the area, there aren't many friends he can count on right now. But without his help, the shopkeeper will not meet a friendly end. There is no option for Ben-Akiva but to ensure that a fair and thorough investigation is conducted.

With the help of common sense and scholarly insight, Ben-Akiva begins what almost becomes a modern day crime novel, investigating and searching the crime scene, canvassing areas to talk to witnesses, and piecing clues and evidence together to identify suspects. There isn't much flexibility or willingness by the community, though, to help the investigation proceed. Doubt, mistrust, religious stereotyping - the history of another time ultimately becomes the central focus of this novel.

Only at the outset was it slow to keep my attention - while I was enthralled by the imagery Wishnia provided, I was put off by the modernization of the dialogue. And although Wishnia includes an author's note clarifying his reasons for bringing 16th century conversations to a more contemporary approach, I did (only initially) struggle with it. I much prefer historical fiction to be representative (or as closely as it can be, or maybe even how it is imagined it would be) to the actual speech patterns and word usage that are found during that time so it did make it difficult to get into the rhythm of the book.

Once I did, though, it was a highly enjoyable read. I appreciate Jewish fiction and especially historical fiction, so to be able to combine the two and then throw a murder mystery on top of that, added to my overall pleasure. While I do wish the mystery played a more central part throughout the story, I could accept that the primary discussion Wishnia focused on was of the interaction and struggles that the Jewish community experienced during this time. The spiritual and personal challenges of Ben-Akiva and others provided fantastic character development, and I enjoyed the insight into these characters. Wishnia does provide a helpful glossary in the back of the book, however he does a fantastic job of sentence structure to contextualize it so that you may not need to use the glossary.

Richly described and exuding the smells and sounds of what 16th century Prague surely must have been like, Wishnia has clearly researched thoroughly for The Fifth Servant, and it is a strikingly beautiful and gritty look into this time period. Whether it is a group of Jesuits walking on the cobbled streets, or a tough scene of torture and interrogation of a potential "witch," Wishnia has superbly captured scenes so vivid that in several instances, a moment of reflection was needed before proceeding. I look forward to more of his work.

About the Author
Kenneth Wishnia has a Ph.D. in comparative literature. His crime fiction has been nominated for the Edgar and Anthony Awards. He teaches composition, literature, and creative writing at Suffolk Community College on Long Island, where he lives with his wife and children.

Visit the author's website by clicking here.

Happy Reading,
Coffee and a Book Chick


Many thanks to Trish with TLC Book Tours for giving me the opportunity to read this book!
Please take a look through the upcoming tour schedule to read more reviews!

Tuesday, February 8th: Raging Bibliomania
Wednesday, February 9th: My Two Blessings
Thursday, February 10th: Coffee and a Book Chick
Monday, February 14th: Bloggin’ ‘Bout Books
Thursday, February 17th: Man of La Book
Friday, February 18th: Chaotic Compendiums
Wednesday, February 23rd: The Lost Entwife
Thursday, February 23rd: In the Next Room
Thursday, February 24th: Book Journey
Monday, February 28th: Wordsmithonia
Wednesday, March 2nd: Rundpinne


08 February 2011

It is the early 1600s in Rome. Artemisia Gentileschi, a young and upcoming artist, has suffered rape at the hands of her teacher and father's friend, and now has to endure the horrors of a public trial in which she is physically exposed during an examination to determine if she is a virgin or did in fact, suffer rape. With nothing but a thin screen to separate her from the attendees in court, seventeen-year-old Artemisia is poked and prodded, and humiliated. Following this horrifying introduction to the public Roman art scene, Artemisia enters into an arranged marriage with another painter and moves to Florence. Artemisia is much more talented than her husband and while the relationship begins in a playful and hopeful manner resulting in a child, it eventually is clear that her husband cannot handle the fame and talent that his wife possesses. She soon becomes more respected in Florence for her study and work. With her marriage failing, Artemisia begins to travel to different cities within Italy, pursuing her art and working with her patrons, successfully making her mark on the Italian art scene.  

Susan Vreeland
Without question, Vreeland has done a lot of research, and it shows. Influenced by her father's art and the controversial Caravaggio, Artemisia's paintings bring to life with vivid talent some of the darker moments from the Bible and historical legend. Absorbing and richly described, The Passion of Artemisia is a beautiful, and sometimes gritty, insight into Baroque Italy's artists, patrons, and even religion. Artemisia's life is visually detailed by Vreeland, as descriptive and thought-provoking as Gentileschi's actual paintings. The end result is a most satisfying read, of an engaging and tangible view into life for a female artist during one of the most influential times of Italian art. 

Those who are interested in art, the process of mixing paints and applying to canvas, and how a painting is translated from the mind to the canvas, will truly enjoy this book. If you liked Girl With a Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier, then you will most likely enjoy The Passion of Artemisa by Susan Vreeland. I look forward to the next audio production of Susan Vreeland's Girl in Hyacinth Blue, also narrated by Gigi Bermingham, and also focusing on art.

Thoughts on the Audio
This is my first audio book that I actually enjoyed! Many of you know that I've struggled with finding a good one. Vreeland's story of this historical figure felt genuine and thorough, and the usage of the Italian language peppered throughout is wonderfully engaging and kept me enthralled. In fact, this is one of those books where I believe (based on the overall professional production of it) that I would much prefer the audio to the printed version.

Part of my enjoyment of this audio production was Gigi Bermingham's lyrical and fluid narration. When reviewing her background, it's no surprise that she is also registered with the Screen Actors Guild and has done film and television. Effectively maneuvering through the Italian language with an ease of an Italian born in Rome, Bermingham carried the story effortlessly. There was a clear and distinct voice to each of the characters, men included, and never once did I feel distracted. Combined with musical interludes introducing chapters, this audio production was exactly what I needed to feel more comfortable with listening to books.

Side Note
I am a fan of all things Italian. I love the culture, the people, the language, the food. To be able to go to Italy twice, with one of them being my honeymoon a year and a half ago, has been truly a fortunate blessing. Being able to revisit Italy through art, pictures, and books continues to keep me in love with Italy, and Vreeland's stunning story of this historical figure has been a fascinating walk into a true passion of mine. I did do some additional research, and Artemisia Gentileschi certainly was influenced by Caravaggio. (When I went to Rome, seeing Caravaggio's painting in person at the San Luigi dei Francesi literally made me cry). This graphic painting below of "Judith Beheading Holofernes" by Gentileschi is reviewed in detail in the book - the colors and actions are incredibly physically detailed, which definitely identifies the "Caravaggisti" influence. The painting below is graphic, however when compared to Caravaggio in the link provided above, you will see similarities with the physiology and movement, the colors, and the internal lighting that seems to emanate from within the painting.
Judith Beheading Holofernes

This is my first entry into the Italy in Books Reading Challenge hosted by Book After Book. I so thank her for hosting this challenge! Grazie cosí tanto, il mio amico! (Thank you so much, my friend!)

Lettura Felice,
Caffé e Una Donna del Libro


07 February 2011

Monday, Monday... What Are You Reading?

Welcome to Coffee and a Book Chick!

Please stop by and read my review of Bury Your Dead, by Louise Penny.

Set in the deep winter of Canada, and thrust in a maze of mysteries, Chief Inspector Gamache is unofficially back on a case with a ghost from his recent past keeping up with him. With stunning visual imagery, Louise Penny captures life in the cold snow amidst a murder investigation that goes much further than just the body hidden in the basement of the Literary and Historical Society. The investigation goes deeper into almost three hundred years before in the history of Old Quebec, with the location of the remains of the city's founder Samuel de Champlain still being tracked. 
...Coffee and a Book Chick...

  • Caribou Island, by David Vann (HarperCollins - released January 2011) - I'm so excited to read this one! I've seen so many incredible reviews!
  • Here, Home, Hope, by Kaira Rouda (Greenleaf Book Group Press - To Be Released May 2011) - New fiction debut author Kaira Rouda introduces readers to what is called Desperate Housewives meets The Middle Place in this absorbing, witty story about one suburban mother's journey from a midlife crisis to reinvention with the help of her husband, friends, and neighbors. She also has a great Facebook fan site in which she's hosting giveaways.
  • The Second Duchess, by Elizabeth Loupas (Penguin - released January 2011) - Debut author Elizabeth Loupas delves into historical fiction set in Italy. You say Italy? I say, yes, please! The excerpt on her site really drew me in.
  • Her Fearful Symmetry, by Audrey Niffenegger (Simon and Schuster) - I am the only person on the planet who hasn't read either The Time Traveller's Wife or this one so I'm way behind. Picked this one up from Paperbackswap.
  • Lucifer's Tears, by James Thompson (G.P. Putnam's Sons, a member of Penguin Group - To Be Released March 2011) - The front tag line reads, "If you loved Stieg Larsson, try James Thompson." I loved The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, so hopefully it's like that one.
  • The Water Wars, by Cameron Stracher (Sourcebooks Fire - released January 2011) - I couldn't find a website for this author, so I included the Amazon link. This is a Young Adult novel and it seems intriguing. The jacket starts out with "Welcome to a future where water is more precious than oil or gold..." I've read mixed thoughts on this, so I'm eager to jump into the fray and have a go at it.
What about you? What did you pick up at the store, library, or in the mail?

Happy Reading,
Coffee and a Book Chick


05 February 2011

Bury Your Dead, by Louise Penny

The crunch of snow. The wind howling and swirling the landscape into a gray blur. One man, walking with his dog in Quebec City, haunted by his past.

In this engaging sixth book in the Gamache series released last fall, Bury Your Dead is the story of Chief Inspector Armand Gamache, who has traveled to Quebec City to recuperate from an event no cop should ever have to go through. Surrounding himself with the antique books at the Literary and Historical Society, Gamache throws himself into researching the battles which established the city, and develops his own scholarly theories to while away the time. Or, more accurately, to distract himself from his ghosts.

Two primary mysteries are investigated within Bury Your Dead, and even a third soon becomes entangled within one of them. The first is the discovery in Quebec City of the body of a local eccentric, Augustin Renaud, who was known as an amateur archaeologist hell-bent and unapologetic on locating the missing remains of the city's founder, Samuel de Champlain. Renaud's body is found unceremoniously and slightly covered in the basement of the Literary and Historical Society in which Gamache has been spending his time. Finding himself now immersed in an investigation on request by the local police, Gamache is surrounded by more than enough potential suspects, each of them eclectic and unique in their own right. He also simultaneously begins to investigate the reason why Renaud may have been at the historical library in the first place.

Another agent on Gamache's team, also on leave, is Inspector Jean-guy Beauvoir. Also haunted by the same episodes plaguing Gamache, Beauvoir is unofficially asked by him to return back to Three Pines, a hidden city in Canada to investigate a case once believed as closed - a murder of a hermit who had a house full of expensive historical antiques. Was the man convicted of the crime really the killer?
My Thoughts 
Although Bury Your Dead may be part of a series, I found it comfortable and substantially easy to fall into the story. Just enough history for each character is pulled in from prior Gamache stories so that the reader isn't confused. It can certainly function as a stand alone. And even though there are two mysteries investigated, Louise Penny successfully layers each story with solid characters and rich writing so that no detail is missed - you can feel the crunch of snow underfoot as Gamache walks with his dog, Henri to the Lit & His (as it's called in the book), and you can feel the ambiance of the cozy cafés, enriched with the robust smells of coffee and sandwiches.
Louise Penny builds history, not only within the cases, but within each character - these are not superficial characters embedded to move the story along. Instead, each is important to the development of the eventual discoveries which both uncover astonishing and most unexpected truths that, in one case, made me gasp out loud in surprise. Bury Your Dead is a story resonating deeply of individual betrayal and secrets, rounding out into quite the perfect mystery to spend a Saturday afternoon with.
I recommend this for those who enjoy crime fiction mysteries and especially unique locales, entrenched with deep history and swirling with the sights and sounds that allows readers to virtually tour Quebec City and Three Pines. Food and drink are beautifully described, and the visual aspects of a snow-covered city are easily seen and felt. Although dealing with murder, it is not graphically detailed. You may also consider visiting Louise Penny's site to get a quick audio walk-through of the proper pronunciation of the characters' French names. I am looking forward to catching up with more of Louise Penny's books.
Visit the author's site by clicking here.
Visit the author's blog by clicking here.
For an audio pronunciation guide to character names, click here.

FTC Disclosure: I received this copy from Ann-Marie Nieves with Get Red PR for my honest review. Thank you!

Happy Reading,
Coffee and a Book Chick


01 February 2011

In the ever-changing world of always wanting to stay one step ahead, who wouldn't love the idea of a hotel that was geared to those of us who call ourselves book lovers?  Wouldn't we want to be in an exciting city like Paris or New York, experiencing all that those cities had to offer, but then at the end of the day, still be able to satisfy the bibliophile in all of us?

I know I would.

Recently, the incomparable Shelf Awareness highlighted two such hotels, and I had to know more.  Within minutes of looking at each hotel, I was pouncing onto online travel sites - how much would that last minute flight to Paris or New York be?  Alas, it may not be meant to be for this weekend...

Paris provides us book nerds with Le Pavillion Des Lettres.  There are twenty-six rooms which is fitting as there are twenty-six letters in the alphabet, so why not devote a hotel to all things reading and writing?

Authors represented are a varied mix, and they include the likes of Diderot, Kafka, Shakespeare, Proust, and Baudelaire...

One picture shows the view from one of the rooms.  And the view is onto the Eiffel Tower.


These beautiful pictures just exude the whimsy I know I need.

Le Pavillion Des Lettres

Superior Room and Junior Suite

And don't we all have to attend BEA in New York in May? If we all pooled our money together, maybe we could all stay in one of these rooms. Okay, that might be nuts - a gazillion bloggers staying in one room?

It's a concept luxury boutique hotel in Midtown Manhattan. According to their home page, "Each of their ten guest room floors...are dedicated to one of the ten major categories of the Dewey Decimal System: Social Sciences, Literature, Languages, History, Math and Science, General Knowledge, Technology, Philosophy, The Arts and Religion."

I want to stay here for BEA, don't you? Might need to win the lottery, but I love to dream...

The Library Hotel...

Library Hotel Exterior

Fairy Tales Bedroom

Happy Reading and Sleeping,
Coffee and a Book Chick