And the Winner of the 1,000 Follower Giveaway is…

I’m not one for much suspense, so I’ll just say outright that it was comment #6, belonging to Tammy Sparks who won.  Thank you so much to everyone who entered!  I really enjoyed reading your thoughtful entries.

Tammy, I won’t be able to contact you today because first I work and then I have to go to a wedding (groan) but we’ll be in touch on Sunday.  If you could contact me through the Contact page on my blog we can work out the details first thing tomorrow morning (or afternoon, depending on how late I stay at said wedding).

The Mad Reviewer 1,000 Follower Giveaway

Well folks, it’s official!  I have reached the coveted 1,000 follower mark for my blog 2 1/2 years after starting it.  That’s hardly the fastest time to hit that particular milestone but I am proud of it simply because there are a lot of book blogs out there competing for a select audience of avid readers and authors.  It hasn’t always been easy and I’ll admit that there are times I’ve thought of quitting but then I realize how much I’d actually miss it.  It’s fun to have an outlet for my book nerdiness.

So as a way of saying thanks, I’m going to have a giveaway.  There are just two conditions:

1.  You must be a follower of my blog, whether through WordPress or email.  If you’re not already, you can click the follow button before entering.

2.  All you have to do is comment on this post, answering the question I present.  The winner will be selected randomly through a number generator by the order their comment was in.  (i.e. there are 25 comments and the random number generator selects 13 so whoever had the 13th comment wins.)

THE PRIZE

A $50 shopping spree on The Book Depository as long as they ship free to your country (most countries are included in their free shipping, but check before you enter!).

HOW TO ENTER

All you have to do is answer either (or both if you like) of the two questions below:

  1. What is your favourite book and why?  What is the thing you most enjoy about it?
  2. If you could pick any one historical, legendary or book character to talk with (ignoring language differences), who would it be?  Why?

Thank you guys so much for following me and have fun with the contest!

The winner will be announced on Saturday, August 30.

Dark Aemilia by Sally O’Reilly

Dark Aemilia by Sally O`Reilly(Cover picture courtesy of Vulpes Libris.)

A TALE OF SORCERY AND PASSION IN SEVENTEENTH-CENTURY LONDON—WHERE WITCHES HAUNT WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE AND HIS DARK LADY, THE PLAYWRIGHT’S MUSE AND ONE TRUE LOVE

The daughter of a Venetian musician, Aemilia Bassano came of age in Queen Elizabeth’s royal court. The Queen’s favorite, she develops a love of poetry and learning, maturing into a young woman known not only for her beauty but also her sharp mind and quick tongue. Aemilia becomes the mistress of Lord Hunsdon, but her position is precarious. Then she crosses paths with an impetuous playwright named William Shakespeare and begins an impassioned but ill-fated affair.

A decade later, the Queen is dead, and Aemilia Bassano is now Aemilia Lanyer, fallen from favor and married to a fool. Like the rest of London, she fears the plague. And when her young son Henry takes ill, Aemilia resolves to do anything to save him, even if it means seeking help from her estranged lover, Will—or worse, making a pact with the Devil himself.

In rich, vivid detail, Sally O’Reilly breathes life into England’s first female poet, a mysterious woman nearly forgotten by history. Full of passion and devilish schemes, Dark Aemilia is a tale worthy of the Bard.

[Full disclosure: I received a free paperback copy of this book for the blog tour in exchange for an honest review.]

I was really surprised at Dark Aemilia and I`m not really all that surprised when it comes to historical fiction anymore.  This truly is a tale of love and hate, revenge and kindness and the power of the written word.  Everyone makes mistakes, sometimes with dire consequences.

Aemilia herself is a fascinating lady: she`s mistress to a much older rich man at a very young age but then falls in love with a penniless playwright and poet.  Who is, of course, William Shakespeare.  The romance is quite tumultuous and although at first they both seem to hate each other (Aemilia hated The Taming of the Shrew) their love ends up being too strong and later turns to hate.  Aemilia is not always sympathetic, I`ll admit, but she is a fascinating character and you really do understand things from her point of view.  She has to make some harrowing choices that cost her almost everything, including very nearly her sanity.

What really surprised me about Dark Aemilia is not only Sally O`Reilly`s clear love of Shakespeare (for she incorporates his plays whenever she can) but her mastery of Old English.  This isn`t some pseudo-medieval dialogue, but rather some very authentic language that you would expect to find in documents from the time.  She even uses slang that was common in during the time, like `dugs` and `chuck`.  Little historical details like this really bring the period to life.

The plot isn`t exactly fast-paced, but as I said it is interesting.  I couldn`t put this book down and was up until two in the morning to finish it because I had to know what happened to Aemilia.  The ending was quite sad but also satisfying because Aemilia never really changed.  She stayed true to herself and in the end got that measure of freedom she yearned for her whole life.  It`s a bittersweet ending because you think of what might have been, but Shakespeare was known for his tragedies so I guess it is quite fitting.

If you have ever admired or even read Shakespeare, I can`t recommend this book enough.  I absolutely loved it!

I give this book 5/5 stars.

Amazon     Barnes and Noble     Goodreads

It’s Official: The Mad Reviewer is Attending BEA 2015!

I’m so excited that I feel like bouncing up and down like I’m three years old once again.  I’ve managed to put away enough money that I can say with 95% certainty that I will be attending Book Expo America in New York in May 2015!  I’m planning on attending the Bloggers Conference for the first day and then meandering around the convention for the second and third days.  There will be meet-ups (hopefully) with any of you that want to meet in the flesh and I’ll also be taking a little time to actually experience New York.  I desperately want to go to the Metropolitan Museum of Art and watch either (or both) tapings for Last Week Tonight and The Daily Show.

Are any of you guys attending BEA 2015?  If not, would you ever attend a convention like that?  Why or why not?

Life, Plans and Blogging

The human body really is an amazing thing, particularly when it comes to stress.  For three months this year I was under so much stress that I was not allowed to take a break or get sick.  My body wouldn’t let me because people were depending on me to get stuff done.  But now that the stress is gone and has been replaced by grief, I’ve been having a rough time of it.  Which leads me to why I had grand plans for this week that didn’t work out: I got sick.  Again.

I think the worst of it is behind me (thank goodness) but I’m still not 100%.  At least I don’t have a fever anymore.  Anyway, that’s why I didn’t get to blog much this week.  Hopefully next week will be far more consistent.  I’ve got some good stuff for you guys to look forward to content-wise but also a very exciting contest and an even more exciting announcement that will be made tomorrow.

Why I, a Woman, Enjoy ‘Game of Thrones’

Spoiler Alert: If you haven’t watched the first four seasons of Game of Thrones, don’t read this and get mad at me.

Game of Thrones SexismIn some places online (as well as in the real world), there’s this idea that of course women can’t enjoy Game of Thrones because it’s sexist.  They say it objectifies women, there’s gratuitous nudity, it’s an all boys club meant for medieval fantasy fulfillment and that I, as a card-carrying member of Team Woman cannot possibly enjoy such a sexist show.  This annoys me for many reasons but I’m going to explain my logic below for why I enjoy the show, how it could be improved and why these critics aren’t digging deeply enough.

I, as a human being, enjoy the TV show Game of Thrones.  It has nothing to do with my gender, but rather my general love of fantasy with good plot lines.  Fantasy is one of my favourite genres and while I wouldn’t describe myself as a hardcore fan I do read more fantasy than anything else.  I originally picked up George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series because of friend of mine wouldn’t shut up about the TV show and I wanted to read and watch the first season and the first book simultaneously.  I was actually impressed with both: the TV show for how well it captured the vivid world Martin had created and the books for actually containing that vivid, well thought out world. Continue reading

Stay Tuned for Actual Regular Posting!

I’ve been really flaky this summer and I have no excuse for it other than a) work has been super busy because it’s tourist season and b) I’m lazy.  I let my technology problems in July get me out of the daily posting schedule and now that everything has been resolved I’ve kept on with my laziness.  But I have some exciting announcements to make up for it:

1.  I will be posting consistently because I’ve made an effort now to catch up in my reading and all blog-related general maintenance.

2.  Tomorrow I’m going to rant on something more than a little controversial.  Yay, rants!  I haven’t had one in ages.

3.  I’m at 996 followers, which means I’m going to have my big 1000 follower giveaway any day now.  When I do, you should stick around because the prizes are pretty awesome.

So basically I’m sorry for the random inconsistency and I promise it’s going away.  Thanks for sticking through it though guys; you’re awesome.