WAITING ON WEDNESDAY | "Bitter Greens" by Kate Forsyth

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday is hosted by the fabulous Jill over at Breaking the Spine.This week, I'm waiting for the release of...

Bitter Greens by Kate Forsyth (Thomas Dunne; on sale September 23, 2014)
French novelist Charlotte-Rose de la Force has been banished from the court of Versailles by the Sun King, Louis XIV, after a series of scandalous love affairs. At the convent, she is comforted by an old nun, Sœur Seraphina, who tells her the tale of a young girl who, a hundred years earlier, is sold by her parents for a handful of bitter greens...

After Margherita’s father steals parsley from the walled garden of the courtesan Selena Leonelli, he is threatened with having both hands cut off, unless he and his wife relinquish their precious little girl. Selena is the famous red-haired muse of the artist Tiziano, first painted by him in 1512 and still inspiring him at the time of his death. She is at the center of Renaissance life in Venice, a world of beauty and danger, seduction and betrayal, love and superstition.

Locked away in a tower, Margherita sings in the hope that someone will hear her. One day, a young man does.

Award-winning author Kate Forsyth braids together the stories of Margherita, Selena, and Charlotte-Rose, the woman who penned Rapunzel as we now know it, to create what is a sumptuous historical novel, an enchanting fairy tale retelling, and a loving tribute to the imagination of one remarkable woman.

If you have read the blog at all, you know that I love historical fiction, France, and fairy tales. That all of these are included in one book seems magical to me. I cannot wait to get my hands on this.

What are you waiting on this week?

TOP TEN TUESDAY | Top Ten Authors I've Only Read One Book From But NEED to Read More

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Top Ten Tuesday is brought to you by the amazing Jamie over at The Broke and the Bookish! This week, I share the top ten authors I've only read one book by, but plan on reading more.

  1. Deborah Harkness: I just finished A Discovery of Witches, and surprisingly loved it. I'm definitely going to continue with this trilogy.
  2. Jojo Moyes: While she's a fairly well-known author, A Ship of Brides was my first taste of her writing. I loved it, and I'll be looking for more.
  3. Hazel Woods: I read This Is How I'd Love You recently, and while it seemed more romantic than my taste at first, it was just so moving.
  4. Rebecca Makkai: The Hundred Year House caught my eye because of it's beautiful cover, but the story drew me in, and I've already purchased The Borrower to read next!
  5. Kami Garcia: After reading the first in the Beautiful Creatures series and watching the book, I'm intrigued and would love to read more.
  6. Sandra Gulland: One of the queens of historical fiction, The Shadow Queen not only has a stunning cover, it was also a really well-written and suspenseful tale.
  7. Ruth Ozeki: With a style a bit like Haruki Murakami, I received a copy of her book A Tale for the Time Being from work and it sucked me in. I'll be looking for more.
  8. Kat Ross: Some Fine Day was a brilliant debut, and I can't wait to see more from Ross.
  9. Erin Morgenstern: The Night Circus's brilliant and fantastical writing impressed me.
  10. Jandy Nelson: After some prodding from my co-worker and Jandy's publicist, I picked up I'll Give You The Sun and it really moved me. GO READ IT GUYS. I have The Sky Is Everywhere lined up on my to-read pile now.
Which authors are on your list?


Thursday, August 21, 2014


I just moved back to my delightful home borough of Brooklyn, but boy was that hell. The supreme tragedy of being a book blogger / publishing employee moving house?

BOXES UPON BOXES OF BOOKS. I swear to God, my entire living room is made up of boxes. So of course, the first thing my guy and I do is run out for bookshelves, fearing the worst: furniture made up of our boxes of books.

Only problem is, our walls are made of plaster, and if we don’t anchor the bookshelves…we will probably be crushed under the weight of our reading obsession. But unfortunately, we can’t drill through our walls. Sigh.

You might be wondering if this is when we both had a wake-up call about being book hoarders? Nope. We bought more books. 

Anyway, that’s why things have been slow here at Off the Book. Still reading, still squeeing, still throwing books against the (now plaster) wall – just no Internet access to blog with until next week.

Stick with me, friends. There are some great reviews coming.


FACE IN A BOOK | Book Review: "Fool's Assassin" by Robin Hobb

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Face in a Book is my weekly mini-review feature. This week I focus on the launch of Robin Hobb's Fitz and Fool Trilogy!

Fool's Assassin (Fitz and Fool Trilogy #1) by Robin Hobb (Del Ray; on sale August 12, 2014)

Nearly twenty years ago, Robin Hobb burst upon the fantasy scene with the first of her acclaimed Farseer novels, Assassin’s Apprentice, which introduced the characters of FitzChivalry Farseer and his uncanny friend the Fool. A watershed moment in modern fantasy, this novel—and those that followed—broke exciting new ground in a beloved genre. Together with George R. R. Martin, Robin Hobb helped pave the way for such talented new voices as Scott Lynch, Brandon Sanderson, and Naomi Novik.

Over the years, Hobb’s imagination has soared throughout the mythic lands of the Six Duchies in such bestselling series as the Liveship Traders Trilogy and the Rain Wilds Chronicles. But no matter how far she roamed, her heart always remained with Fitz. And now, at last, she has come home, with an astonishing new novel that opens a dark and gripping chapter in the Farseer saga.

FitzChivalry—royal bastard and former king’s assassin—has left his life of intrigue behind. As far as the rest of the world knows, FitzChivalry Farseer is dead and buried. Masquerading as Tom Badgerlock, Fitz is now married to his childhood sweetheart, Molly, and leading the quiet life of a country squire.

Though Fitz is haunted by the disappearance of the Fool, who did so much to shape Fitz into the man he has become, such private hurts are put aside in the business of daily life, at least until the appearance of menacing, pale-skinned strangers casts a sinister shadow over Fitz’s past . . . and his future.

Now, to protect his new life, the former assassin must once again take up his old one...

This was a thrilling return to Fitz’s story – I was so excited to read this, and was honestly a little worried that it wouldn’t live up to all of the hype. Especially since George R.R. Martin (A Song of Ice and Fire) called it, "Fantasy as it ought to be written . . . Robin Hobb’s books are diamonds in a sea of zircons."  Happily, I was wrong.

Mild spoilers ahoy, under the page break.

FACE IN A BOOK | Book Reviews: "Some Fine Day" by Kat Ross,"The Fortune Hunter" by Daisy Goodwin & "The Rosie Project" by Graeme Simsion

Thursday, August 07, 2014

Face in a Book is my weekly mini-review feature. This week includes a bunch of great reads, including a unique dystopian YA, historical fiction about Sisi, the Empress of Austria, and an eccentric genetics professor searching for his life-long mate - through statistics, of course.

Some Fine Day by Kat Ross (Strange Chemistry; on sale July 1, 2014)

Sixteen-year-old Jansin Nordqvist is on the verge of graduating from the black ops factory known as the Academy. She's smart and deadly, and knows three things with absolute certainty:

1. When the world flooded and civilization retreated deep underground, there was no one left on the surface.
2. The only species to thrive there are the toads, a primate/amphibian hybrid with a serious mean streak.
3. There's no place on Earth where you can hide from the hypercanes, continent-sized storms that have raged for decades.

Jansin has been lied to. On all counts.

Jansin is a teenage girl training for a military life "underground." Her society left the surface of Earth after global warming created "hypercanes" - devastating storms that rage across the continents. While on a vacation above, she gets kidnapped and what she discovers will change everything she ever thought she knew.

While I'm getting pretty sick of dystopian YA - which has flooded the market lately, as I'm sure you know - this was a standout. Jansin is smart, brave, and best of all, she can sometimes be really flawed and foolish, all of which I loved. And she actually has both parents, which is new. She grows to care about her love interest, but it was still all a bit quick for my taste. I didn't really feel that their relationship was worth Jansin risking everything for and leaving her family behind, considering there wasn't much romantic development there.

However, Ross really delves into some deep topics: genetic engineering and mutation, man-made global warming, militaristic societies, biological and chemical warfare...all of which lead to an interesting and fast-paced plot that I zoomed through and ultimately enjoyed. It's a shame the publisher, Strange Chemistry, went out of business - I hope this title finds a new home soon.

The Fortune Hunter by Daisy Goodwin (St. Martin's Press; on sale July 29, 2014)

In 1875, Sisi, the Empress of Austria is the woman that every man desires and every woman envies.

Beautiful, athletic and intelligent, Sisi has everything - except happiness. Bored with the stultifying etiquette of the Hapsburg Court and her dutiful but unexciting husband, Franz Joseph, Sisi comes to England to hunt. She comes looking for excitement and she finds it in the dashing form of Captain Bay Middleton, the only man in Europe who can outride her. Ten years younger than her and engaged to the rich and devoted Charlotte, Bay has everything to lose by falling for a woman who can never be his. But Bay and the Empress are as reckless as each other, and their mutual attraction is a force that cannot be denied.

Full of passion and drama, THE FORTUNE HUNTER tells the true story of a nineteenth century Queen of Hearts and a cavalry captain, and the struggle between love and duty.

I went into this knowing that Daisy Goodwin had written another title that I wasn't fond of - The American Heiress, but I like to give authors more than one chance. Especially when enough time has lapsed that there may be some improvement to the writing style, which was my issue with the last book. I'm glad I gave Goodwin another shot, because I enjoyed The Fortune Hunter.

Set in 1875, Charlotte Baird is the sole heiress to a fortune, who dreams of becoming a professional photographer. This obviously creates waves through her staunchly conservative society. When she meets and falls in love with Bay, she believes that her life is right on track for happiness. However, when "The Most Beautiful Woman in Europe," Sisi, the Empress of Austria, arrives - everything changes. Bay, an expert horseman and Captain of the Royal Guard, becomes infatuated with the Empress, who often takes him hunting. His relationship with Charlotte becomes strained, and gossip-mongers are tearing the pair apart.

I felt like I was immersed in the Victorian era, and Goodwin is skillful with her description of how the upper crust lives. I liked Charlotte very much, and I found Bay pretty fascinating as well. While I didn't feel any sympathy with Sisi, it was wonderful reading historical fiction about a historical figure you don't hear much about. The blend of fact and fiction kept me intrigued, but I did wish there had been more fact. However, this was a solidly good read.

The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion (Simon & Schuster; on sale June 3, 2014)

Don Tillman, professor of genetics, has never been on a second date. He is a man who can count all his friends on the fingers of one hand, whose lifelong difficulty with social rituals has convinced him that he is simply not wired for romance. So when an acquaintance informs him that he would make a "wonderful" husband, his first reaction is shock. 

Yet he must concede to the statistical probability that there is someone for everyone, and he embarks upon The Wife Project. In the orderly, evidence-based manner with which he approaches all things, Don sets out to find the perfect partner. She will be punctual and logical--most definitely not a barmaid, a smoker, a drinker, or a late-arriver.

Yet Rosie Jarman is all these things. She is also beguiling, fiery, intelligent--and on a quest of her own. She is looking for her biological father, a search that a certain DNA expert might be able to help her with. Don's Wife Project takes a back burner to the Father Project and an unlikely relationship blooms, forcing the scientifically minded geneticist to confront the spontaneous whirlwind that is Rosie--and the realization that love is not always what looks good on paper.

This was one of the most unique (and adorable) books I've read all year. Don Tillman teaches genetics at a university in Australia - and he's steadfastly single. Not for lack of trying - he just hasn't met the right woman. He embarks on "The Wife Project" to find his perfect mate, using a hilarious questionnaire to weed out the most inappropriate.

When his best friend picks out a questionnaire - it turns out to be Rosie. Rosie is very much the "unperfect" partner - she smokes, she's a bartender, she drinks, and she can't cook! Don finds out, however, that Rosie is on the hunt for her biological father - and the "Father Project" begins. Slowly, you watch Don begin to fall for Rosie, and it's absolutely precious.

This was equal parts sweet, quirky, and intelligent. The narrator had a very distinctive voice, and I was definitely rooting for Don throughout the whole book. This is a novel I'll be recommending to people for a long time.