©Oscars® bring upswing in book sales

WOO HOOO!!   It looks like more books are being sold because they have been made into award nominated and award winning movies!!  yippeee!  I love to see more people reading books, and if it's because of a film connection?? That's awesome!! 

This is what Publishers Weekly has said:

A number of books that inspired films nominated for an Academy Award this year are seeing a sharp uptick immediately following the Sunday night telecast of the show. The Descendants by Kaui Hart Hemmings jumped to #114 from #1,164, good for a 921% sales spike (additionally the book was up to #59 on the Kindle bestseller list from #348); Brian Selznick's The Invention of Hugo Cabret (which served as the basis for Hugo) was up to #15 from #52 (a 246% increase);Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer was ranked #69, up from #164 (a 137% increase; on the Kindle list, it was up to #19); Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy by John le Carre saw an 88% sales increase (for Kindle, it wa up to #121 from #333), and was up to #235; The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson was up to #116, good for a 95% sales increase;Moneyball by Michael Lewis saw a 91% sales increase, which took it from #561 to #293. The Help continued to perform better on the Kindle, and was up to #11 from #26.

The Descendants wins Best Adapted Screenplay

Congratulations to THE DESCENDANTS, Best Adapted Screenplay! 

Screenplay written by  Alexander Payne and Nat Faxon & Jim Rash, from the book written by Kaui Hart Hemmings.

DARK SHADOWS: RETURN TO COLLINWOOD By Kathryn Leigh Scott & Jim Pierson

I can't wait to read this one!!  Yeah, I'm one of those kids who used to race home to watch Jonathan Frid, as the tortured Barnabas Collins, sink his vampire teeth into the pale necks of Collinsport women, while trying to decide if I'd rather be Angelique or Josette. Gotta love this book!


By Kathryn Leigh Scott & Jim Pierson
Foreword by Jonathan Frid

Pub Date: April 1, 2012

Kathryn Leigh Scott, who played Josette DuPrés, vampire bride in “Dark Shadows

announces publication, April, 2012, of DARK SHADOWS: RETURN TO
COLLINWOOD, co-written with Jim Pierson, an in-depth look at five
decades of the classic Gothic horror soap opera that made sympathetic vampire
Barnabas Collins a pop culture phenomenon and prompted the big-screen
revival starring longtime fan Johnny Depp, directed by Tim Burton.

With a foreword by Jonathan Frid, who created the role of Barnabas Collins,
this new book includes hundreds of rare photographs and behind-the-scenes
anecdotes from Kathryn Leigh Scott (Josette DuPrés), Jonathan Frid (Barnabas
Collins), Lara Parker (Angelique Bouchard) and David Selby (Quentin
Collins), who appear in cameo roles with Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter
and Michelle Pfeiffer in the new Gothic epic feature film Dark Shadows to be
released May 2012. With the ongoing fascination for all things vampiric, this
book, about the making of the new film and the history of the original series, is
an enticing volume for new and old fans alike.

In its heyday, the original Dark Shadows daytime series (ABC-TV, 1966-1971)
attracted 20 million viewers. The spooky, literate, romance and horror-driven
show had universal appeal -- and came to be known as the program “kids ran
home from school to watch.” Reruns and DVD releases of all 1,225 episodes
have spawned new generations of Dark Shadows fans, who attend annual Dark
Shadows Festivals where cast members reunite to celebrate the show’s unending popularity.

Authors Kathryn Leigh Scott and Jim Pierson have previously collaborated on
five top-selling books about Dark Shadows and a coffee table book about the
career of its creator, the late producer-director Dan Curtis.

The Dressmaker by Kate Alcott



The Dressmaker 

By Kate Alcott
Double Day, $25.95

           Publisher's synopsis:

Just in time for the centennial anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic comes a vivid, romantic, and relentlessly compelling historical novel about a spirited young woman who survives the disaster only to find herself embroiled in the media frenzy left in the wake of the tragedy.
 Tess, an aspiring seamstress, thinks she's had an incredibly lucky break when she is hired by famous designer Lady Lucile Duff Gordon to be a personal maid on the Titanic's doomed voyage. Once on board, Tess catches the eye of two men, one a roughly-hewn but kind sailor and the other an enigmatic Chicago millionaire. But on the fourth night, disaster strikes. 
 Amidst the chaos and desperate urging of two very different suitors, Tess is one of the last people allowed on a lifeboat. Tess’s sailor also manages to survive unharmed, witness to Lady Duff Gordon’s questionable actions during the tragedy. Others—including the gallant Midwestern tycoon—are not so lucky. 
 On dry land, rumors about the survivors begin to circulate, and Lady Duff Gordon quickly becomes the subject of media scorn and later, the hearings on the Titanic. Set against a historical tragedy but told from a completely fresh angle, The Dressmaker is an atmospheric delight filled with all the period's glitz and glamour, all the raw feelings of a national tragedy and all the contradictory emotions of young love.

My thoughts:  

I knew when we first met Tess, putting unironed, crumpled sheets on her employer's bed, that this wasn't going to be the usual Titanic story. This one was going to have a different spin to it.  I was really looking forward to reading Kate Alcott's The Dressmaker, and I am really glad that I did get to read it!    Tess wrangles her way on to the Titanic by seizing an opportunity to work for Lucile, Lady Duff-Gordon, the infamous clothing designer and the somewhat questionable survivor on the Titanic.  Tess is no maid, she's a talented seamstress, with a gift in design and Tess uses this opportunity to get to New York and find a future there.

Unlike other books and stories with a Titanic plotline, The Dressmaker's author, Kate Alcott, wisely places the tragic sinking towards the beginning of her story and places all of the action and development around the survivors and the U.S. Senate hearings that asked questions that one hundred years later, are still being asked. 

I enjoyed reading The Dressmaker, I think the plot lines were interesting and the writing even and consistent. I do have to add that I was a bit disappointed in the character development in some of the second tier characters and I felt that we really didn't get to know Tess, or what she really thought of the two diametrically opposed men who Tess is involved with from the ill fated cruise,  Jack, the wealthy Chicagoan and Jim, the sailor. 

Alcott, in a brilliant move, used actual testimony from the hearings to help paint the scenery of what the world was like in 1912 and how the Titanic was evacuated.  It was good to see the names of the famous and infamous included in her telling and it was enlightening to learn that even a hundred years ago, the paparazzi were present (and hounding in their pursuit of a photo and a story from the mournful, dazed survivors) as the Carpathia docked in New York.  Alcott also includes a daring and somewhat pushy female reporter, Pinky, so that she could provide the readers a look at the about-to-explode world of the suffragettes and women's rights.

Tess grows in wisdom and strength, the story is interesting and it's told from a new angle, I just wish there was more emotion there. I wish we knew Tess better.  She's a character worth knowing,

I give this book 4 out of 5 stars.

*This galley was provided to me by the publisher's publicist at my request, and that in no way affected my fair review.

Agatha Award Nominees Announced

 2011 Agatha Awards banquet will be held on Saturday, April 28, 2012.  Congrats to all of this year's nominees!

More info here: http://www.malicedomestic.org/agathaawards.html

Agatha Award Nominees

 Congratulations to all the nominees!


Best Novel: 
The Real Macaw by Donna Andrews (Minotaur)
The Diva Haunts the House by Krista Davis (Berkley)
Wicked Autumn by G.M. Malliet (Minotaur)
Three-Day Town by Margaret Maron (Grand Central Publishing)
A Trick of the Light by Louise Penny (Minotaur)

Best First Novel:
Dire Threads by Janet Bolin (Berkley)
Choke by Kaye George (Mainly Murder Press)
Learning to Swim by Sara J. Henry (Crown)
Who Do, Voodoo? by Rochelle Staab (Berkley)
Tempest in the Tea Leaves by Kari Lee Townsend (Berkley)

Best Non-fiction:
Books, Crooks and Counselors: How to Write Accurately About Criminal Law and Courtroom Procedure by Leslie Budewitz (Linden)
Agatha Christie: Murder in the Making: More Stories and Secrets from Her Notebooks by John Curran (Harper)
On Conan Doyle: Or, The Whole Art of Storytelling by Michael Dirda (Princeton University Press)
Wilkie Collins, Vera Caspary and the Evolution of the Casebook Novel by A. B. Emrys (McFarland)
The Sookie Stackhouse Companion by Charlaine Harris (Ace)

Best Short Story:
"Disarming" by Dana Cameron, Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine - June 2011
"Dead Eye Gravy" by Krista Davis, Fish Tales: The Guppy Anthology (Wildside Press)
"Palace by the Lake" by Daryl Wood Gerber, Fish Tales: The Guppy Anthology (Wildside Press)
"Truth and Consequences" by Barb Goffman, Mystery Times Ten (Buddhapuss Ink)
"The Itinerary" by Roberta Isleib, MWA Presents the Rich and the Dead (Grand Central Publishing)

Best Children's/Young Adult:
Shelter by Harlan Coben (Putnam)
The Black Heart Crypt by Chris Grabenstein (Random House)
Icefall by Matthew J. Kirby (Scholastic Press)
The Wizard of Dark Street by Shawn Thomas Odyssey (EgmontUSA)
The Code Busters Club, Case #1: The Secret of the Skeleton Key by Penny Warner (EgmontUSA)

Best Historical Novel:
Naughty in Nice by Rhys Bowen (Berkley)
Murder Your Darlings by J.J. Murphy (Signet)
Mercury's Rise by Ann Parker (Poisoned Pen Press)
Troubled Bones by Jeri Westerson (Minotaur)
A Lesson in Secrets by Jacqueline Winspear (Harper)

The Orchid House by Lucinda Riley

The Orchid House
By Lucinda Riley

$15.00,  Atria Books

Publisher's synopsis:
Spanning from the 1930s to the present day, from the Wharton Park estate in England to  Thailand, this sweeping novel tells the tale of a concert pianist and the aristocratic Crawford family, whose shocking secrets are revealed, leading to devastating consequences. 

As a child, concert pianist Julia Forrester spent many idyllic hours in the hothouse of Wharton Park, the grand estate where her grandfather tended exotic orchids. Years later, while struggling with overwhelming grief over the death of her husband and young child, she returns to this tranquil place. There she reunites with Kit Crawford, heir to the estate and her possible salvation.
 When they discover an old diary, Julia seeks out her grandmother to learn the truth behind a love affair that almost destroyed the estate. Their search takes them back to the 1940s when Harry, a former heir to Wharton Park, married his young society bride, Olivia, on the eve of World War II. When the two lovers are cruelly separated, the impact will be felt for generations to come.
This atmospheric story alternates between the magical world of Wharton Park and Thailand during World War II. Filled with twists and turns, passions and lies, and ultimately redemption, The Orchid House is a beautiful, romantic, and poignant novel.

Iceberg, Right Ahead! by Stephanie Sammartino McPherson


Iceberg, Right Ahead!: 

The Tragedy of the Titanic

by Stephanie Sammartino McPherson
Twenty First Century Books,  $24.95

Synopsis from the publisher:
"Iceberg, Right Ahead!" Only 160 minutes passed between the time a sailor on lookout duty uttered these chilling words and the moment when the mighty ocean liner Titanic totally disappeared into the cold, dark waters of the North Atlantic. This century-old tragedy, which took more than 1,500 lives, still captivates people in the twenty-first century.  
Seventy-three years separate the two major Titanic events—the 1912 sinking of the vessel and the dramatic 1985 discovery of the wreck by Robert Ballard.  But additional stories about the victims, survivors, rescuers, reporters, investigators, and many others show the far-reaching effects this tragedy had on society. Award-winning author Stephanie Sammartino McPherson has collected  numerous personal accounts of the event, including the knighted man who spent the rest of his life in seclusion because he was accused of dishonorable behavior in a lifeboat, the stewardess who survived two shipwrecks and a mid-ocean collision,  and the New York Times executive who sent multiple reporters to meet the rescue ship, thus earning a national reputation for his newspaper.  She also links the Titanic tragedy to changes in regulations worldwide. After a Senate Inquiry and a British trial attempted to assign blame for the disaster, new laws on ship safety were put in place.  A group of nations also banded together to form an ice patrol, eventually leading to the formation of the U.S. Coast Guard. 
Even the most avid Titanic fans will learn something new as McPherson brings the reader up to date on the politics and intrigue still surrounding the wreck—including what modern science can reveal about what really happened to the ship and who was at fault. Prepare to follow the never-ending story of the Titanic into its second century.

Iceberg, Right Ahead is the first of many books I'll be reviewing or spotlighting as we get closer to April, and we remember the 1,517 people who lost their lives exactly one hundred years ago on the night of April 14/15 of 1912.

Author Stephanie Sammartino McPherson has written a fact filled account of the tragedy that was Titanic. Just about 100 pages in length, she easily shares accounts, photos and enough information about what happened after the survivors returned home, to engage a reader of any age. Iceberg, Right Ahead  is directed at a YA audience and I think that's such a fabulous thing!  There are many lessons to be learned and McPherson touches on the most important, that actions matter and lives and reputations can be ruined with false accounts and misinformation.  She also tells of the great heroism, from so many people in all walks of life that night.  The term "women and children first" bring a whole new concept to how life was a hundred years ago, both good and not-so-good.  

Iceberg, Right Ahead is an easy read and a gorgeous read thanks to the many photos. I especially like that she included the "unsinkable" Margaret (Molly) Brown, Titanic's Captain Smith and also the recovery mission of Robert Ballard in 1985.

Iceberg, Right Ahead is a great way to introduce readers of all ages to the human and the physical tragedy that was Titanic. I've always been mesmerized by the accounts of the Titanic and I hope this book will entice another generation to learn more about how the unsinkable Titanic when down in a few hours.  

5 out of 5 stars. 

* This book was provided to me by the publisher through NetGalley, and that in no way affected my honest review.

Outside The Lines by Amy Hatvany

Outside The Lines
By Amy Hatvany

Washington Square Publishers, $15.00

Publisher's synopsis:
When Eden was ten years old she found her father, David, bleeding out on the bathroom floor. The suicide attempt led to her parents’ divorce, and David all but vanished from Eden’s life. Since childhood, she has heard from him only rarely, just enough to know he’s been living on the streets and struggling with mental illness. But lately, there has been no word at all.
 Now in her thirties, Eden decides to go look for her father, so she can forgive him at last, and finally move forward. When her search uncovers other painful truths—not only the secrets her mother has kept from her, but also the agonizing question of whether David, after all these years, even wants to be found—Eden is forced to decide just how far she’ll go in the name of love.

My thoughts about Outside The Lines:   Rarely do I comment about titles of books, but I have to commend whoever named this book!  Author Amy Hatvany's story of Eden, her father David and her mother is a heart breaking saga of discovery, truth and pain that really does exist "outside the lines."

This is a remarkable story told in an amazing manner.   Mental illness, and the repercussions that come  to the families affected by the symptoms and realities of a mentally unbalanced family member are hard for to me to read from a personal viewpoint. What moved me the  most is the remarkable way Hatvany switched from character to character, with different voices and also different time lines so seamlessly that the reader never losses focus so the reader easily follows the story that Hatvany is telling.

As Eden literally uncovers, layer by layer, the truths and lies and distortions that occurred in her family, she moves forward in her search to get the answers that have been haunting her all her life. Perhaps Eden's biggest leap of faith comes when she meets David in the homeless shelter where she volunteers.  Can she develop a relationship that's grounded?  Can she trust? In the end, will the truth complete her?

I can't recommend Outside The Lines enough. It's a well crafted, heartwarming story of one woman's struggle to step "outside the lines,"  to work through the scars of the past, and one day triumph.   Hatvany did a brilliant job showing how the effects of one unstable person can permanently affect everyone in their world.

5 out of 5 stars!

**  This book was provided to my by the publisher, and that in no way affected my honest opinion of this book.

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