Sacred Treason by James Forrester – Giveaway

Yesterday I reviewed James Forrester’s Sacred Treason, an historical thriller set during the reign of Elizabeth I.

The nice people at Sourcebooks have been nice enough to offer a one copy giveaway, open to readers with mailing addresses in the US and Canada. Simply enter on the form below by 11:59 pm Central on Tuesday, November 6th.

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Hemingway’s Girl by Erika Robuck – Giveaway

Yesterday I reviewed the wonderful new novel by Erika Robuck, Hemingway’s Girl. Today I have two copies to give away to readers with US mailing addresses.

To enter, simply fill out the form below by 11:59 pm Central on Monday, September 17th.

The Twelve Rooms of the Nile by Enid Shomer – Giveaway

Another day, another book that makes me wish that What’s Old is New wasn’t on hiatus/maternity leave. This time it is Enid Shomer’s The Twelve Rooms of the Nile, which imagines a friendship between Florence Nightengale and Gustav Flaubert before the two of them become famous. Don’t take my word for it, though, here’s the synopsis:

Before she became the nineteenth century’s greatest heroine, before he had written a word of Madame Bovary, Florence Nightingale and Gustave Flaubert traveled down the Nile at the same time. In the imaginative leap taken by award-winning writer Enid Shomer’s The Twelve Rooms of the Nile, the two ignite a passionate friendship marked by intelligence, humor, and a ravishing tenderness that will alter both their destinies.

In 1850, Florence, daughter of a prominent English family, sets sail on the Nile chaperoned by longtime family friends and her maid, Trout. To her family’s chagrin—and in spite of her wealth, charm, and beauty—she is, at twenty-nine and of her own volition, well on her way to spinsterhood. Meanwhile, Gustave and his good friend Maxime Du Camp embark on an expedition to document the then largely unexplored monuments of ancient Egypt. Traumatized by the deaths of his father and sister, and plagued by mysterious seizures, Flaubert has dropped out of law school and writ-ten his first novel, an effort promptly deemed unpublishable by his closest friends. At twenty-eight, he is an unproven writer with a failing body.

Florence is a woman with radical ideas about society and God, naive in the ways of men. Gustave is a notorious womanizer and patron of innumerable prostitutes. But both burn with unfulfilled ambition, and in the deft hands of Shomer, whose writing The New York Times Book Review has praised as “beautifully cadenced, and surprising in its imaginative reach,” the unlikely soul mates come together to share their darkest torments and most fervent hopes. Brimming with adventure and the sparkling sensibilities of the two travelers, this mesmerizing novel offers a luminous combination of gorgeous prose and wild imagination, all of it colored by the opulent tapestry of mid-nineteenth-century Egypt.

The Twelve Rooms of the Nile is on sale today, but I also have one copy to offer to a reader with a US mailing address, courtesy of Simon & Schuster. To enter, fill out the form below by 11:59 pm Central on Sunday, August 26th.

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The Age of Desire by Jennie Fields – Giveaway

What’s Old is New is on hiatus/maternity leave at the moment, but I still can’t resist classic reimaginings. One that is catching my eye right now is Jennie Fields’ The Age of Desire, which is a novel of Edith Wharton’s life. Here’s the publisher’s description:

They say behind every great man is a woman. Behind Edith Wharton, there was Anna Bahlmann—her governess turned literary secretary, and her mothering, nurturing friend.

When at the age of forty-five, Edith falls passionately in love with a dashing younger journalist, Morton Fullerton, and is at last opened to the world of the sensual, it threatens everything certain in her life but especially her abiding friendship with Anna. As Edith’s marriage crumbles and Anna’s disapproval threatens to shatter their lifelong bond, the women must face the fragility at the heart of all friendships.

Told through the points of view of both women, The Age of Desire takes us on a vivid journey through Wharton’s early Gilded Age world: Paris with its glamorous literary salons and dark secret cafés, the Whartons’ elegant house in Lenox, Massachusetts, and Henry James’s manse in Rye, England.

Edith’s real letters and intimate diary entries are woven throughout the book. The Age of Desire brings to life one of literature’s most beloved writers, whose own story was as complex and nuanced as that of any of the heroines she created.

I’m hoping to read this soon, but in the meantime I have one copy to give away, courtesy of Pamela Dorman Books. Simply fill out the form below by 11:59 pm Central on Sunday, August 12th. US-mailing addresses only.

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Interview with Kristina Riggle, author of Keepsake

Kristina Riggle is the author of four novels, the most recent of which is Keepsake, which is the story of a hoarder trying to clean up her act and the family who attempts to help her. I previously reviewed Riggle’s other novels: Real Life and Liars, The Life You’ve Imaginedand Things We Didn’t SayI emailed with Riggle recently to talk about Keepsake and her writing career. Please see the end of this post for a giveaway opportunity. 

Jen: How did you choose to write about hoarding? What about it sparked a story for you?

Kristina: Inevitably, I will write about something that fascinates me. Years ago, I saw an episode of Oprah about a compulsive hoarder. Her personal appearance was immaculate, and the exterior of her home was beautiful. By all appearances she was an intelligent, rational, articulate woman. When she opened the door to her home, inside was a horror show of filth and debris. Even more striking was when she showed the producers an empty garbage can. She could not bear to ruin the “perfect” garbage can with trash, though the rest of her house was, in essence, a trash heap. When I was brainstorming new book ideas, it seemed like a natural topic that would be perfect for the type of character-driven story I like to write. It also turned out — not deliberately — to use some of the same themes I covered in an earlier unpublished manuscript, which also featured two sisters with opposite temperaments brought together reluctantly.

Jen: Did you have to do a lot of research about hoarding to write Keepsake?

Kristina: A fair amount. I read books and articles, and watched the currently popular hoarding reality shows, of course. The most interesting thing I did was to fill out a hoarding self-help workbook “in character” as Trish. There are many varieties of hoarder, and this exercise helped me fix her character in my mind. I also worked with a former college roommate who is a clinical psychologist like the Seth character. I already had his character in the works when my friend and I reconnected. That was a great bit of serendipity.

Jen: Your first book, Real Life and Liars, had at its core a physical illness, but your three books since then deal with characters with more psychological diseases: gambling, alcoholism, hoarding. Is there something that attracts you more to characters with problems of the mind, rather than solely of the body?

Kristina: Even Real Life and Liars was a book about the characters’ emotional lives, though a physical illness was the crisis at the center of the book. People fascinate me, especially when they don’t act in rational, logical, sensible ways. We’re all screwed up some way or another, and I don’t think my characters are all that different than people in general. It’s like that old slogan from the Biography TV show. “Every life has a story.”

Jen:  How does it feel releasing your fourth book? Is it much different than releasing your first?

Kristina: It does feel a little more normal, now, going to book events and talking to readers. But I still — and I’m sure always will — get a thrill out of fan mail, and signing books. I’m a little more anxious, too, in some ways. The longer I do this, the longer I want to do it. Forever, if I can. As long as my fingers can type. That’s a tall order in today’s publishing climate. But I’m hopeful for a long career.

Jen: Can you share one piece of advice for aspiring writers?

Kristina: I just heard this quote from the late Ray Bradbury on NPR’s Fresh Air: “By doing things, things get done.” If you want to be a writer, then by all means, write. If you want to publish, then research publishing in whatever form you choose to pursue. The point is, you can’t wish and hope yourself into being a writer anymore than you can anything else.


I have two copies of Keepsake to give away to a lucky reader anywhere in the world. Please enter on the form below by the 11:59 pm Eastern on Friday, July 20th.

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