Read: my full review

With many thanks to the team at Center Street I’m happy to be offering one reader a hardcover copy of Michael Hurley’s nautically-inclined memoir, Once Upon a Gypsy Moon. Before we get to the details of the giveaway, I want to give a bit of praise to one element of this book that I didn’t mention in my review: that cover! I’ll be the first to advise not judging the books we read by them, of course, but as a graphic design enthusiast of sorts I simply have to acknowledge when a book’s design catches my attention. I love everything about this particular cover, from the photography to the choice of fonts. Every detail is just lovely. Much appreciation to Jody Waldrup, art director at Hachette, for a job so well done.

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Synopsis: Michael Hurley watched his world unravel in the wake of infidelity, divorce and failure. In August 2009, he was short of money, out of a job, and seeking to salvage a life that had foundered. Deeply in need of perspective, he took to the open seas in a 32-foot sailboat, Gypsy Moon. The story of his 2-year outward odyssey, deterred by rough weather and mechanical troubles, combines keen observation, poignant thoughts, and deeper introspection with glorious prose.

Once Upon a Gypsy Moon also presents a rare and much-needed point of view on the familiar spiritual-journey narrative. It offers a star-crossed love story wrapped inside a rollicking good sea tale, but it also has something important to say to the reader about relationships, faith and disbelief, life and death, love and marriage, and what really matters.

Connect with Michael: Website | Goodreads | Facebook


Read: my full review | my Q&A with the author

In addition to taking the time for a Q&A yesterday, author D.J. Williams has kindly offered readers a chance to win an autographed copy of his upcoming novel The Disillusioned (WestBow Press; 5/1)! The thriller follows two brothers as they search for answers long kept hidden by their father on a journey that will ultimately test their physical and spiritual strength. Below you’ll find an excerpt from The Disillusioned as well as a chance for one lucky reader to receive a signed copy of the novel!

An excerpt from The Disillusioned, Chapter 26

      In the far corner he noticed a boy in his early teens, who wore a knockoff Jordan jersey. He stared into the boy’s hazel eyes and tried to shake off a sudden urge to spend his last few Kwacha buying the boy a meal. He redirected his attention to the man behind the counter as wild thoughts flashed in his mind. He counted the money again, and reminded himself of his need to survive. He ordered two pieces of chicken and potato wedges. Thirty Kwacha.

      Back home most children are lucky, he thought. No real fear of starving. No real fear of dying. No real clue of how hard life really is when you’re only expected to live into your mid-thirties. Children back home were more worried about losing their cell phones, being grounded form Playstation, or being accepted into the right social circles. None of that mattered here. For a child, life on this side of the world was about one thing,

      Danny grabbed his tray, tried to shed himself of the guilt and found a table with a perfect view of the main street. Traffic passed as the thumping music from the neighborhood shebeen drifted through the night. Danny rather enjoyed the eclectic mix of American eighties pop and local African artists. It had become a unique soundtrack to his adventure.

      He wiped the sweat from the back of his neck and wondered how he’d made it thousands of miles from home. After just one week he was broker than broke. He had no idea what was going to happen next. He had jumped at thirty thousand feet without a parachute. What if he didn’t find her? What if the Vice President was wrong about his contact? Then what? He would have failed, again. He watched the miners laugh together.

      Danny tried to remember the last time he’d laughed. Even though it had only been a month, he wondered when he’d allow himself to grieve. It was hard to tell. His emotions had been unpredictable for weeks. The peaks and valleys left him unsure whether he had made the right choice coming to Zambia. He’d used the last three hundred dollars to pay for hotels, bus rides, and false information. He had risked everything.

      He opened the box, stared at two pieces of friend chicken, and realized this was all that was left. How he wished he could laugh. He wished he could be the man Brooke deserved. He wished he’d been wiser with the
opportunities given to him. He wished he could have saved his parents. In that moment, anger and envy crept into his soul.

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Synopsis: A mother’s suicide threatens to destroy a family legacy. Her sons, Sam and Daniel, are forced to leave their comfortable worlds behind and search for a woman they believe can unlock the secrets that have remained hidden. They are propelled into separate journeys from Los Angeles to the heart of the Zambezi, where they are forced to confront a man known as Die Duiwel, the Devil. On their adventures they will find themselves in a place where death is one breath away, where thousands of children are disappearing into the darkness, and where the woman they are searching for is on the hunt for revenge. When they stand face-to-face with the forgotten slaves of Africa, they will fight to redeem what has been lost.

Connect with D.J.: Website | Goodreads | Facebook | Twitter


Authors Ken Foster and Alison Pace at RJ Julia Booksellers

Last night I had the pleasure of attending a book discussion and signing event with authors Ken Foster and Alison Pace at RJ Julia Booksellers in Madison, Connecticut. Ken and Alison both shared some wonderful insights into their books and answered audience questions before signing copies for everyone. I recently reviewed Alison’s latest, You Tell Your Dog First, which is a heartwarming collection of essays about her life with dogs – most notably her West Highland white terrier, Carlie. Ken’s new book, I’m a Good Dog, is a tribute through both photography and essays to perhaps one of the most misunderstood breeds: the pit bull. Because of the nature of their books, and out of the kindness of the authors’ hearts, 10% of the proceeds from their books purchased at the event were donated to the New Haven Animal Shelter.

author Ken Foster
Ken Foster, author of I’m a Good Dog

Jeffery, a certified therapy pitbull

Ken and Alison talked about their first meeting with each other, years ago while part of a discussion panel called “Dog Lit”. It was great to hear from writers who are also dog lovers and who’ve managed to combine their passions in such a fulfilling way. Ken’s journey with I’m a Good Dog was a whirlwind from conception to publication and he discussed the many hurdles he faced with the project, most notably how the misconception of the pit bull breed led to a difficulty in getting publishers to take a chance on them. Ken is on a mission to help educate and enlighten audiences on the true nature and spirit of the breed, through not only his writing, but other ventures as well. He’s the founder of The Sula Foundation, which is devoted to the continued support of smart, dedicated pit bull owners and, as such, devoted to the future of the breed. Having known a mixed breed dog whose very sweet disposition was often overshadowed by the fierceness of her pit bull genes reflected in her appearance, I was enthusiastic about hearing from Ken and I’m grateful for the work he’s done. I also met Jeffery, who, as you can see, is an incredibly gorgeous pit bull with a very sweet and calm disposition; he’s a certified therapy dog who stopped by for the event to show his breed some support.

Author Alison Pace with yours truly

It was a delight to finally meet Alison after years of enjoying her wonderful books, from the must-love-dogs novels like Pug Hill and City Dog to the nonfiction departure with You Tell Your Dog First. She was incredibly kind and grateful for the support of her readers; her discussion about her new essay collection was delightful, very much in keeping with the experience of reading her work. She talked about one particular thing she mentions in the book, which was shortly after she adopted her Westie, Carlie, when her father said, “It’s wonderful, isn’t it, the way dogs connect you to the world?”. She was moved to infuse that sentiment in her work and it has a way of connecting the reader as well. She does a wonderful job of translating the feeling of those words into stories, both fictitious and reality-based. I’m very excited that Alison will be talking more about You Tell Your Dog First in an upcoming guest post here at Literary Inklings!

Last but certainly not least, Alison has kindly offered a copy of You Tell Your Dog First to one lucky reader of Literary Inklings!

To enter
- Leave a comment here to let me know you’d like a chance to win the book
- Be sure to include an e-mail address so I can contact you if you’ve won!

A winner will be chosen on November 21
The giveaway is open to US residents only

You can connect with both Ken and Alison on their Facebook pages: Ken Foster/I’m a Good Dog and Alison Pace as well as Twitter: @KenFosterWrites and @alisonpace. Many thanks to the beautiful RJ Julia Booksellers for hosting the event – visit them online, on Facebook, on Twitter and, if you’re ever in Madison, Connecticut, do visit them in person! I’m a Good Dog and You Tell Your Dog First are both available now from Penguin.


Thirty-four year-old psychologist Siri Bergman spends her days treating patients in her Stockholm practice, focusing her expertise on the troubles of others. At night she resides in a secluded seaside cottage where she struggles to accept the loss of her husband in a diving accident a year prior. Siri copes with her emotions by leaving every light in her small cottage lit, smothering her fear of the dark with copious amounts of cheap wine. She has managed to keep her roiling emotions at bay, but when the feeling of being watched in her home begins to prickle like a cold breeze on the back of her neck Siri finds that an unforeseen enemy may just succeed in tipping the scales and pouring the tumult from her past into the carefully maintained world of her professional life. When a body is found in the water near her cottage Siri understands the true gravity of the danger she’s in. Her enemy is close by, watching her, and the objective is another murder: hers.

- from my review

A few weeks ago the lovely Diane from a spot of whimsy wrote about Neil Gaiman’s All Hallow’s Read in a guest post here at Literary Inklings. If you missed it, take a look to get a better idea of what All Hallow’s Read is all about. In the spirit of the celebration I thought it would be fun to, as Neil suggests, give someone a scary book this year – and who better for that someone to be than one of you wonderful folks who kindly take the time to stop by this little corner of the internet?

The book is Some Kind of Peace by Swedish sisters Camilla Grebe and Åsa Träff. This was one of the scariest book I read this year; not scary in the outlandish sense, but that quiet, purposeful sort of psychological scary that gets under your skin and never lets you know what turn it will take next. It’s a very intellectual sort of scary (if I can say that without sounding like a snob). And it was one of my favorite books of the year (in my review I said that the authors combined “keen psychological observation, vivid imagery, and a strongly unpredictable storyline to create a novel that is simultaneously a taught thriller and an explorative character study.”). Here’s a tiny little preview–

A few more details on the book: while it was first published in 2009 under its original title, Någon sorts frid, this English edition was published this year, July 10th, by the wonderful Free Press, which is a division of Simon & Schuster. Free Press kindly supplied both my review copy and this additional copy for one of you. It’s a hardcover final copy, and it’s the first in Grebe and Träff’s Siri Bergman series; the second, More Bitter Than Death, will be published in America by Free Press (and elsewhere by Simon & Schuster) in July 2013. If you happen to be able to read Swedish, I believe there are already three books in the series published in their original language. For the rest of us, no spoilers!

Win Some Kind of Peace by Camilla Grebe and Åsa Träff

To enter:
Leave a comment anywhere on the blog, Tweet me, e-mail me, or write on my Facebook wall letting me know you want to be in the running to win the book. (You only have to tell me once and you don’t have to be a subscriber to the blog, though you can do that here (rss) or here (e-mail) and it’s free!)
Be sure to leave your e-mail address so I can contact you if you’ve won!

A winner will be chosen on November 1.
And the giveaway is open internationally.

It doesn’t count for anything in the giveaway, but if you want to tell me about the scariest book you read this year (or ever) I’d love to hear about it in the spirit of All Hallow’s Eve! And if you gave books to people this year which did you give, or would you give, or which have you given in the past? What makes a scary book scary, and why are scary books so fun?

Good luck, and happy All Hallow’s Read!