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Research Book Sale

August 22, 2007 by in category Archives tagged as

Have You Read This One?

TOWN AND COUNTRY BY MARK GIROUARD is another of the books donated for OCC’s September meeting’s Research Book Sale–and it’s another book, that it’s going to be hard for me to let go.

I enjoyed several of the chapters in this book, especially Chapter Three, which talked about John Chubb, who “with a sharp eyes, a genial wit and a skilled brush set out to put on to paper, the people of Bridgwater and its neighborhood in the last decades of the eighteenth century.”

Reading about Chubb and his observations was fascinating but what really made me smile are Chubb’s sketches, several of which are shown in this chapter including one of the biggest and liveliest of Chubb’s drawings which, according to Girouard, shows Lord Perceval, eldest son of Lord Egmont, “dressed in the height of fashion and seated at the reins of his phaeton, with a lapdog on his lap and a favour in his hat.” (And doesn’t the dog look like Mindy Neff’s little Harley? 😉

This is a great book. All I can say is if it makes it out of my house to the Research Book Fair, then it will be a testament to my strength of character.


Sandy Novy-Chvostal (aka Sandra Paul) is a recovering bookaholic, a published author, and 2007 Co-President of OCC/RWA.

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I Don’t Want To Write A Regency

August 11, 2007 by in category Archives tagged as

by Sandra Paul

Regular readers usually have a book or two lying on their coffee tables. Book lovers’ homes tend to feature large shelving units with a cozy couch nearby to cuddle up on while reading.

Bookaholics have couches, too–at least, I think we do. It’s hard to tell with books stacked everywhere. All too often, the only visible seat in our house is in the bathroom.

Which is possibly why my husband blanched when I told him I was going to my friend Angie Ray’s to pick up books she was donating (thank you, Angie!) for OCC’s Back to School Research Book Sale scheduled for our September 8th meeting.

“More books!” My husband clapped his hand to his forehead as if he had an immediate headache. “You’re {insert bad word here}-ing me! We don’t have room in this house for any more books!”

“These aren’t for me,” I reminded him. “They’re research books for the chapter sale.”

“How many books are we talking about?” he demanded.

“I think she said she has one or two books . . .” I wrinkled my brow. “Or was that one or two boxes?”

He got the grim look he always seems to wear whenever we go into bookstores. “Promise me–promise me!–that you won’t decide to keep them all yourself.”

“I wouldn’t do that! Besides, I’m working on a contemporary category with single title and historical western elements. Angie’s research books are mostly for medievals and Regencies. I don’t wanna write a Regency.”

He just stared at me.

I gave a long-suffering sigh. “Okay! I promise.”

“I’ll get the truck.”

He got the truck; and we hauled the books home. All five, nine–no, make that twelve–boxes of them. And I’m not going to keep them–but I figured it couldn’t hurt to scan a few–just to share with my fellow writers.

So I scanned BRITAIN THROUGH AMERICAN EYES by Henry Steele Comager and discovered in Regency England, the way a person knocked on a door denoted his social standing. That a servant, a postman, a milkman, a “half or a whole” gentleman, a very great gentleman, a knight or a nobleman all had distinctive knocks. “A servant is bound to lift the knocker once, whilst the postman knocks twice, very loudly. A milkman knocks once, at the same time, sending forth an artificial noise, not unlike the yell of an American Indian . . .”

I never knew that.

Another book Angie donated (and I just happened to glance over) is CAPTAIN GRONOW: HIS REMINISCENCES OF REGENCY AND VICTORIAN LIFE 1810-60, edited by Christopher Hibbert.

Anyone who loves Georgette Heyer’s work, can’t help but be intrigued by Captain Gronow’s description, written in 1862, of the Crockford Club.

I have alluded to the high play which took place at White’s and Brookes’s in the olden time,” says Gronow. “In the reign of George IV, a new star rose in the person of Mr. William Crockford; and the old-fashioned games of faro, macao, and lansquenet gave place to the all-devouring thirst for the game of hazard. Crockey, when still a young man, had relinquished the peaceful trade of a fishmonger for a share in a ‘hell,’ where with his partner Gye, he managed to win, after a sitting of twenty-four hours, the enormous sum of ones hundred thousand pounds. With this capital added to his former gains, he built the well-known palace in St. James’ Street–“

Okay. I wanna write a Regency.

Sandy Novy-Chvostal (aka Sandra Paul) is a recovering bookaholic, a published author, and 2007 Co-President of OCC/RWA.

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Reader Review

April 24, 2007 by in category Reading tagged as ,


by Marshall Karp

Carl Hiaasen (see my blog, “Twisted Male Humor”) may be looking over his shoulder wondering who is this new kid on the block.

He should.

James Patterson gave this cover quote for THE RABBIT FACTORY, “Marshall Karp could well be the Carl Hiaasen of Los Angeles — only I think he’s even funnier. THE RABBIT FACTORY will touch your funny bone, and your heart.”

Thanks once again to my friend and bookseller Michelle Thorne (“Bearly Used Books” in La Puente, CA), I found another terrific author. Michelle had given the hardcover to my dh as a gift last year. He loved it, but because it was HIS book and not mine, it ended up in his stash of books instead of my office shelves. He brought it to my attention after I finished another Hiaasen recently.

THE RABBIT FACTORY is centered around murders connected to an L.A. based entertainment mega-conglomerate a la Disney.

There are many reasons why I was drawn into this first novel by Karp–

First, James Patterson’s cover quote comparison to Hiaasen was a like a double endorsement! (Patterson’s WHEN THE WIND BLOWS is my favorite of his books!)

Second, I’ve been a fan of amusement parks since my first visit to Disneyland as a kid living in San Diego. Nowadays, not only can I hear the nightly fireworks from my bedroom window but I hold an annual pass so I can get my fix on a regular basis.

Third, LAPD detectives Mike Lomax and Terry Biggs. But it’s Lomax who gets to have center stage with chapters in his own first-person voice. (Another new trend I like: mixing first and third person.)

Mike Biggs has lost his wife to cancer only six months earlier, but the author handles this situation with just the right balance between grief and poignant memories. At the same time, Mike’s dad — Big Jim — is trying to help Mike move forward and into a new relationship, something Mike is loathe to do.

I know I’m reading a murder mystery. Anything could happen. Especially to the poor protagonist who may or may not fall in love with the wrong person. Or falls for the right one who gets blown up in the end. I hate when that happens.

I want happy endings. I think everyone does, despite the cynical sneer of too many people who turn their noses up at the romance genre. (I KNOW these literary elitists have not read a Meryl Sawyer or Karen Robards or they wouldn’t act that way!)

Without giving anything away (so you will buy this book!), I will say that Marshall Karp gave me every reason to keep coming back for more.

So I was absolutely thrilled to find out that Lomax and Biggs will be showing up again in Karp’s next book, BLOOD THIRSTY, which will be available May 1.

If you are in the Los Angeles area on May 15, Marshall will be doing a drive-by signing at noon at The Mystery Bookstore in Westwood while he’s in town to research his next Lomax and Biggs novel.

Review by:
Gillian Doyle writes paranormal suspense. She invites you to drop by at her blog and say hello.

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Reader Review

March 22, 2007 by in category Archives tagged as

Because She Can

by Sandy Diamond

Bridie Clark’s debut novel Because She Can is the The Devil Wears Prada for the book publishing industry enthusiasts.

The story unfolds with the young very bright editor Claire Truman taking a leap of faith. She leaves her very safe and comfortable but not very challenging position in a much loved company. Her leap of faith much to her friends and family chagrin and warnings lands her in the clutches of Vivian Grant, the overseer of a Hades-like book publishing company.

Claire resigns herself to completing an entire year, hoping to learn as much as she can from this horrible woman. Despite her verbal assaults and tirades Vivian’s actions and motives do teach Claire a certain kind of wisdom. What not to be.

The story is as much about Vivian Grant, who is said to very closely resemble Judith Regan (ReganBooks). For those of you not familiar with her name, she is the one that wanted to publish OJ Simpson’s If I Did It…which did not happen because of public outcry. Thank goodness for some decency in the publishing community.

I found Vivian Grant’s character interesting because even though author Bridie Clark says…it ain’t so.., her last boss was none other than, Judith Regan. Like Judith, Vivian published many trashy and wildly successful books. She also published some literary works of art.

I found the love stories in the novel to be very touching and very real. They encompass family love and romantic love. Nothing really convoluted, but nice to remember that these kinds of love are still with us today. Claire’s character grew as an editor and also as a person. She is someone that you would want to have as a friend. I liked her.

I read an interview on Bridie Clark which made me smile. She was asked “What are you reading right now?” One of the books she is reading is one of my all time favorites a very old book called Portnoy’s Complaint. She had me on that statement. She secured the deal when she said, “I also read so-called Chic Lit every day. I love fun, entertaining, lighthearted books. I read them the way most people watch television.”

I found this novel to be very entertaining, some times laugh out loud funny as well as very poignant at times. I would certainly recommend this book as a good solid read and well worth the hardback price.

I am looking forward to her next book.

Sandy Diamond, a reader who is not an author or aspiring writer in any way, was asked by her daughter to objectively review the latest book she read. While she has no hidden promotion agendas at this time, one day when her daughter is published, she will be completely biased and love her daughter’s work above all others. Even above Jude Deveraux.
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