Sunday Salon Continued

So I dropped the ball yesterday.  Majorly.  I had promised to announce the winners of my giveaway in yesterday’s Sunday Salon post and it completely slipped my mind.  So, without further ado, the winners of The Book of Fires, by Jane Borodale, thanks to, are comments # 1 and 6!

Congratulations Fyrefly and Just Mom.

If you would be so kind as to send me your mailing addresses, I’ll have the books sent out ASAP.

While we’re at it, I should go ahead and do a wrap up post for January, since I forgot that as well.  I read the following books in January:

1. A Certain Slant of Light, Laura Whitcomb

2. Letter to my Daughter, Maya Angelou

3. Life as We Knew It, Susan Beth Pfeffer

4. Lit, Mary Karr

5. Ethan Frome, Edith Wharton

6. Girl in a Blue Dress, Gaynor Arnold

7. The Guinea Pig Diaries, AJ Jacobs

8. The Book of Fires, Jane Borodale

9. Saving CeeCee Honeycutt, Beth Hoffman

10. New Orleans Cemeteries, Eric Brock

For whatever reason, I had been under the impression that I had only read 8 books.  10 books in a month is pretty good for me.  Ideally, I would like to read more, but I’d say every book blogger wishes they had even more time for reading.  My favorite book of the month was probably Girl in a Blue Dress, by Gaynor Arnold, so watch out for that review in the coming month.

Book Review: The Book of Fires + Giveaway

The Book of Fires

Jane Borodale

Pamela Dorman Books (Viking)

356 pages

I used to be a big historical fiction fan.  I gobbled it up.  But then it got so repetative.  I began feeling as if every historical fiction novel was the same. So recently I had only been reading historical fiction with a twist.  It had to have a little something different about it in order for me to even give it a chance.  Which is why I selected The Book of Fires in the first place.

The Book of Fires is the story of Agnes, a teenage girl who is raped during the mid eighteenth century in a small, provincial town in England.  As the result of Agnes’ rape, she becomes pregnant.  Lost as to what to do, she decides to flee the family home in order to save her family from the shame that would come along with having a child out of wedlock.  The plan doesn’t come to full fruition until Agnes discovers her neighbor dead–and a jar of coins suddenly left with no owner.  The stolen coins allow Agnes to make a new life for herself in England, although the guilt of the stolen coins, coupled with that of the pregnancy, cause Agnes to wallow in self doubt.

Once she has arrived in England, Agnes finds work with Mr John Blacklock, who makes pyrotechnics for a living.  Agnes becomes his apprentice and begins learning how to build fireworks.  Whereby, she is also is waiting for her pregnancy to be discovered, at which point she is convinced she will be out in the street.

I found portions of this book to be extremely predictable.  Agnes had an alarming naivety which was apparent in a lot of situations.  For instance, on the ride to London she meets a woman named Lettice who offers to help her out once they reach their destination.  Lettice is very obviously a prostitute–that fact is apparent within paragraphs of her introduction.  Agnes though does not realize this fact until the end of the book.  Likewise, I found Agnes’ little escapade with Cornelius Soul to be a little too transparent too.  It got to the point where I wanted to shake her until she was made aware of her errors.  I had to keep reminding myself that Agnes was only a teenager, and in an extremely difficult position at that.  Just the same, it got old after awhile.

The portions regarding the construction of fireworks and Agnes’ work in the lab with John Blacklock were intriguing.  It was the type of thing I look for in fiction–a detail or an angle that isn’t commonly explored in popular fiction.  Although chemistry is not a subject I would generally be interested in, Borodale made it interesting and readable.  It was just the change of scenery I need to make The Book of Fires different from any other historical fiction book out there.

If you’re looking for something a little different, The Book of Fires is a great choice.  And lucky for you guys, I have two copies to give away.  Rules for entering are simple–the competition is open to mailing addresses in the US and Canada only and all you have to do is comment on this post.  Contest is open until this Sunday, January 31 at 9am EST!  Winners will be announced in my Sunday Salon this Sunday.

Other Reviews:

Hey Lady! Watcha Readin’?

Tanzanite’s Shelf and Stuff

I received this book from the publisher for review.

And the Winner is . . .

n229409Announcing the winner of Loving Frank, by Nancy Horan

Nancye (#8)

Please make sure to check your e-mail 🙂


I’ve decided it’s time to host my first giveaway.  I’ve been blogging for a little over a month now and it has been absolutely wonderful thus far.  To celebrate that, I have a brand new copy of Loving Frank, by Nancy Horan, to give away.  I chose this book because I read it last year and was completely enthralled.

n229409All you have to do is leave a comment.  I apologize, but I will only be able to ship within the US, due to financial constraints.  This contest ends at 11:59pm on October 5, 2009.  I will choose the winner by random selection by October 8, 2009.  Good luck!