Sunday, October 10, 2010

Sunday smatterings

Good morning, everyone - it's a beautiful fall morning here in Illinois. I've been up since 6am, after going to bed at 7pm yesterday with a wretched headache. The same thing happened on Friday night, so I'm hoping today will be better.

Without further ado, the winner of Susan Holloway Scott's The Countess and the King is:  Terry! Congratulations, and I'll be in touch to obtain your mailing address.

For a short time this summer, I stopped accepting review copies for the site, since I was overwhelmed with work... plus, when I was offered the opportunity to review Ken Follett's Fall of Giants, I couldn't pass it up.  A little daunting, though, to take on a 985-page historical epic - especially when you consider the size of the galley when it showed up in the mail.

Galley at left, smaller hardcover at right.  Talk about a doorstopper!
My review appeared in the Globe & Mail on Saturday, so hop on over to the site if you'd like to read it.  (An interview with Follett, posted earlier in the week, is linked from the piece.)  I went into it with high expectations, and I'm happy to report that the book met them.  It's sitting atop the bestseller lists of both the Globe and the New York Times, not surprising given Follett's past successes, and it's a great sign for historical fiction as a whole.  Anyone here who's in the midst of reading it, or planning on reading it soon?

My current read is Joan Naper's Beautiful Dreamer, set in Chicago in 1900, and I hope to have a review posted later in the week.  Also on deck is my pick for the letter U in the alphabet challenge, as well as Kate Morton's The Distant Hours (another enormous galley, but it can't compare to the Follett).


  1. I look forward to your review on Beautiful Dreamer. It sounds interesting but when I looked at the first 6 five star reviews they only had one review under their belt. Makes me wonder.....

  2. I took a look... most of the reviews I'm seeing are based on its entry in the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Awards, for which an excerpt (a chapter) was posted. The novel was self-published after that. The one I'm reading is a revised edition from a small press.

  3. Great review of Follett's book! I'll have to see if it's in the library :) I can imagine it will be quite popular with a long Hold list...

  4. Thanks! If you can get it from the library, you might need an extended checkout period :) It took me about three weeks to read, off and on.

  5. Looking forward to the review for Dreamer! I have to confess I'm not up for a tome right now, though, so Follett will have to wait...perhaps over the holiays :)

  6. I Read a galley of Fall of Giants, made my arms ache holding it. Started to prop it up on my lap on a pillow. I was surprised to see the hardback when it came out, expected it to be bigger that that.

  7. Hello Sarah
    Read your Follett review in the Globe on this, our Thanksgiving Monday holiday.

    Yes, I plan to read it, however having recently finished World Without End, need a brief respite to fast forward a few centuries!!

    Appreciated your reviews of the Canadiana and especially your questions on the unavailability of some books in the US and V/v in Canada. Strange.

    First visit to your site,---now on my 'favourites', whoops, favorites.


  8. Giants might be a good read over the holidays, Rowenna, though it's not one to read while lying on the couch after Christmas dinner, say. It's too difficult to hold upright! I agree with Croths on that score.

    Robert, yes, I can understand the need for a short break. I'm hoping I'll remember enough of the storyline of this one by the time the sequel appears in 2012. Thanks for bookmarking my site, and either spelling's fine by me (my Globe review was 'translated' into Canadian spelling, after all!).

    Happy Thanksgiving!

  9. Hello Sarah - while down with a nasty cold two weeks ago I read Fall of Giants. I confess to being a Ken Follett fan and so I was delighted that his book was available on Kindle which meant that I had it to read without leaving the house to purchase it. Unfortunately, it isn't one of his best novels although I did read it through. It seemed to me that he jammed it with too much historical fact and with characters who were contrived to tell a point or to emerge in subsequent parts of the planned trilogy. Perhaps my cold made me cranky?

  10. Hi Mary, thanks for your thoughts! Opinions differ, and that's fine :) I think one reason I didn't mind the abundance of historical detail is because of the educational factor - WWI is a time period I appreciated knowing more about - and the way Follett tied various events together to show the connections between them. I found him just as good a storyteller here as in Pillars, but with the latter, I didn't get a strong sense that his characters were truly medieval people. There were definitely some contrived moments, and to some extent the characters were vehicles for the history; I'd agree with that.