Ring out the old, ring in the new – Celebration and giveaway

Dear friends, it’s almost time to say goodbye to The Emerald City Book Review. I invite you all to join me in the New Year over at my other blog, Entering the Enchanted Castle. I’ll be moving all my book blogging activity over there, along with sharing thoughts about life, language, and other magical things.

It’s been absolutely wonderful to share this seven-year journey with you, and I want to thank everyone for making it such a joy.

This blog and its archives and old posts will remain up for at least six months, so don’t worry if there’s something you still want to read. And I hope to create an archive version of the site, for future reference.

I’ve also compiled some of my personal favorite posts in book form as The Best of the Emerald City Book Review. See the Rafflecopter widget below for a chance to win a copy, through January 6.

In addition, sign up for my email list at Entering the Enchanted Castle to get an extra chance in the giveaway. Until January 1 you will also receive a free PDF proof copy of the book. Don’t forget to confirm your subscription to complete your registration.

To stay connected, be sure to follow enterenchanted.com using your favorite method. My Facebook and Twitter accounts will stay the same, and I will try to transfer over WordPress and Bloglovin’ followers, but if that doesn’t work, or if you use another method, you will need to sign up again.

Once more, thank you for being here, and I hope to see you soon over at the Castle.

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A blog celebration with Make Me Read It Giveaway

Let’s have a Twelfth Night party like these jolly Breughel peasants, only with less drinking and more reading!

Happy New Year, everyone! It’s been just over four years since I started this blog on January 1, 2014, and I’d love to celebrate with you.

Stealing a fun idea from Nicole of Feed Your Fiction Addiction, I’m posting a list of 20 books on my TBR pile. If you win, you get to pick one and and I’ll send you your very own copy. Depending on price and availability the book sent may be used (good condition) or new; I will send via Book Depository if international. I can also send an ebook if you prefer and if it’s available.

I then solemnly vow and promise to read and review my copy within a month; it would be great if you would read along with me, but I won’t hold you to it. Please peruse the list, and then if you’d like to participate, use the Rafflecopter widget below. I hope there’s enough variety to give you all something that might interest you! Links are to Goodreads.

I would hereby like to acknowledge and thank my top commenters, and give you an extra boost in the giveaway — please identify yourself via Rafflecopter, and you will get five extra entries!

  • Chris of Calmgrove
  • Laurie of Relevant Obscurity
  • Brian of Babbling Books
  • Erica of Erica Robyn Reads
  • Katie of Doing Dewey
  • Jessica of The Bookworm Chronicles


Thank you all so much for being with me through these four years, or for stopping by if you’re a new visitor. And now for the book list:

  1. The Art Forger – B. A. Shapiro (Contemporary fiction about the Gardner Museum heist)
  2. Before the Feast – Sasa Stanisic (novel in translation about a German village steeped in myth and folklore)
  3. The Blood of the Martyrs Naomi Mitchison (historical novel about early Christians)
  4. The Blue Flower – Penelope Fitzgerald (lyrical historical fiction about the German poet Novalis)
  5. The Butterfly Mosque – G. Willow Wilson (memoir of the author’s conversion to Islam and life in Cairo)
  6. The Country Child – Alison Uttley (autobiographical fiction of an English childhood)
  7. A Different Kind of Daughter – Maria Toorpakai (nonfiction about a sport-loving Pakistani girl who passed as a boy)
  8. Dream Days – Kenneth Grahame (classic essays and stories by the author of The Wind in the Willows)
  9. The Edge of the World – Michael Pye (nonfiction about the cultural importance of the North Sea region)
  10. The Ghost of Thomas Kempe – Penelope Lively (Carnegie-medal-winning ghost story)
  11. The Infinite Air – Fiona Kidman (historical bio-fiction about a New Zealand woman aviator)
  12. Jude The Obscure Thomas Hardy (ultimate depressing Hardy novel)
  13. A London Child of the 1870s – Molly Hughes (memoir of a London childhood)
  14. Love – Elizabeth von Arnim (semi-autobiographical romance between an older woman and a younger man)
  15. Love in a Fallen city Eileen Chang (stories in translation from one of the great writers of contemporary China)
  16. Marmee and Louisa – Eve LaPlante (biography of Louisa May Alcott and her mother)
  17. Notes on a Cowardly Lion – John Lahr (biography of Vaudevillian Bert Lahr)
  18. The Owl Service – Alan Garner (classic YA fantasy based on Welsh myth)
  19. The Path – Michael Puett (based on a popular Harvard class on Chinese philosophy)
  20. The Spire – William Golding (historical fiction about the building of an English cathedral)

Congratulations to R-J, who won the Make Me Read It giveaway and chose The Art Forger from my TBR list. I’ll be sending her a copy, and reading mine ASAP!


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Witch Week Day Two: Giveaway Day

This year, I’m excited to present a double giveaway — two books, in two different formats, thanks to Tachyon Publications.

The Emerald Circus by Jane Yolen, due to be released next week, is a master storyteller’s riff on various well-known tales including The Wizard of Oz, Peter Pan, Alice in Wonderland, and of course the Arthurian legend. Three Arthurian stories are included, of which my favorite is the novella Evian Steel, a striking re-imagining of the forging of Arthur’s sword in connection with the power of women’s magic. If only Yolen had been able to fulfill her intention of making this the central portion of a novel … perhaps one day she will?

A new introduction by Holly Black gives a tribute to Yolen by the next generation of fantasy writers, and each story has an endnote about its creation and original publication, paired with a thematically related poem — quite a unique feature!

As if this weren’t enough, the lucky winner will also receive a copy of The Forgotten Beasts of Eld by Patricia McKillip, a fantasy classic in a lovely new edition (click on the link for my recent review).

To enter to win one of each of these magical books, please use the Rafflecopter widgets below, with options for paperback copies (US only) and e-book versions (International).

US entrants may enter both giveaways but cannot win both. The winner for the paperback giveaway will be drawn first, and will be disqualified for the e-book giveaway.

Good luck!


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Witch Week 2015 Giveaway

This post is part of Witch Week, an annual celebration of fantasy books and authors. This year’s theme is New Tales from Old, focusing on fiction based in fairy tale, folklore, and myth. For more about Witch Week, see the Master Post.

Welcome, Witch Week participants! I’m SO thrilled to have two wonderful books to offer this year, thanks to the generosity of their publishers.

BitterGreens smallBitter Greens by Kate Forsyth was one of my favorite reads in 2015, a lush, opulent retelling of the Rapunzel story that also illuminates the life of a long-forgotten storyteller, Charlotte-Rose de la Force. I loved how Forsyth intertwined history and legend together in such a compelling and dramatic way, and I hope you will too. Thanks to Thomas Dunne Books for offering a paperback copy to one lucky entrant, and to Kate Forsyth for kindly answering some questions about her books and writing process. The interview will appear on November 4. This giveaway is international (Book Depository must ship to your country).

BloodyCFolioThe Bloody Chamber by Angela Carter is our reader-chosen readalong book this year, a dark and sensuous retelling of traditional tales that influenced many later writers. The Folio Society, publishers of beautiful illustrated editions of classic and contemporary literature, is offering their gorgeous version illustrated by Igor Karash and introduced by Marina Warner. This copy is also signed by the award-winning illustrator! Please check out more images from the book at the link, and peruse the Folio catalog while you’re at it. Don’t forget to come back for the readalong on November 5, though. This giveaway is US only.

If you have a US address, you may enter one or both of the giveaways. Two different winners will be chosen. Both giveaways will close at 12 a.m. Eastern Time on November 8. Good luck!

Bitter Greens cover courtesy of Thomas Dunne Books
Bloody Chamber cover courtesy of the Folio Society, copyright 2012 by Igor Karash

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September Wrap-Up Round-Up Giveaway

Welcome to the September Wrap-Up Round-Up Giveaway! If you haven’t already, go visit the monthly wrap-up post linkup hosted by Feed Your Fiction Addiction, and then come back here for a chance to win some of my favorite accessories that keep your books “wrapped up” in style. The picture below will show you what I mean…

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A couple of years ago I went looking for some durable, attractive cloth covers to help protect my books from bumps and stains, since I carry them everywhere inside and outside the house. I came across Gotcha Covered (clothbookcovers.com) and decided to buy a set of three of Cathy Holberg’s beautiful handmade covers in various sizes. I liked them so much I bought another set! I use them all the time, and appreciate how they keep my books in great shape, while pleasing my eyes with their colorful fabric patterns, and even keeping my place with a built-in bookmark.

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When the chance came to sponsor this giveaway, I immediately thought of Cathy’s covers and asked her if she’d like to offer a set. I was delighted that she said yes, and even more delighted that she has generously offered three different sets, which you can see above. All of the covers are the Small size (10 inches by 7.25 inches, flat) and will fit most small standard paperbacks. Note that the cotton material does not stretch, so it shouldn’t be forced to fit books that are too large.

Gotcha Covered products are made by hand with great care here in the US. Browse clothbookcovers.com to see the other sizes and fabric patterns on offer; there’s even a cover for your e-reader! They make great gifts too. So now that I’ve whetted your appetite for these lovely covers, here are some rules:

  • Due to shipping costs, this giveaway is limited to US and Canada addresses only.
  • Anyone age 18 and older can enter; you do not need to have a post linked in the monthly Wrap-Up Round-Up.
  • Visit and comment on posts in the link-up to earn more entries. You can do this once per day, as long as you visit a different post each time.
  • Three different winners will be chosen and will each receive one of the book cover sets pictured above (which set will be chosen at random).
  • The giveaway will close at midnight on October 13. Winners will be contacted by email and must respond within 48 hours or another winner will be chosen.

To enter, just fill out the Rafflecopter form below. Good luck!

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Elizabeth Goudge Reading Week: A Visit to Torminster (with Giveaway!)

One of my favorite fictional places to visit is Torminster, Elizabeth Goudge’s version of her birthplace, Wells in Somerset. It’s like Barchester without the cynicism, or Cranford with a poetic and mystical touch. Centered around the Close that surrounds its beautiful cathedral, populated by an enchanting set of characters young and old, saintly and not-so, and most importantly possessing a really good bookshop, it’s a place I’m almost afraid to visit in real life lest it lose some of its charm.

Though she wrote them just before and during the Second World War, Goudge set these books in the early years of the twentieth century, the time of her own childhood. It was a placid, sleepy town at the time, removed from the worst ravages of industrialization. As such it offered her contemporary readers a welcome respite from the devastation of war, and for us provides a nostalgic trip back into a vanished world.

That’s not to say that there is no struggle or conflict to be found in Torminster, only that it’s more of an inner rather than an outer nature. In the first book, A City of Bells, young Henrietta has been taken in by Canon Fordyce and his wife as a companion to their irrepressible grandson Hugh Anthony. She loves her new home, but she is haunted by the memory of a mysterious poet who briefly lived nearby. As she and her adopted family search for answers to his disappearance and possible death, their lives are transformed in unexpected ways.

Seemingly responding to requests for more about Henrietta, Goudge wrote two more lovely books about Torminster for a younger audience: Henrietta’s House and Sister of the Angels. Both have been out of print and hard to find for years, but now the wonderful folks at Girls Gone By have reprinted them for us to enjoy. And I’m delighted to announce that they are offering a giveaway for EGRW readers: a copy of each book will go to one lucky winner. Please be sure to enter using the Rafflecopter widget below.

In Henrietta’s House, our Torminster friends set out on a picnic in honor of Hugh Anthony’s birthday, and each finds an adventure suitable to his or her nature. (Diana Wynne Jones fans may recall that this is one of the books Polly read and loved in Fire and Hemlock, which alone should recommend it to you.) It’s a charming modern-day fairy tale with something for everyone: humor, beauty, romance, danger, and even the appearance (and disappearance) of an early motor car.

Sister of the Angels, written first but concerning a slightly older Henrietta, is a shorter tale in which we get to spend more time in the Cathedral and its environs. Subtitled “A Christmas Story,” it gives us a glimpse into Henrietta’s future as an artist, and explores again the intersection of art, faith, and love that is so characteristic of Goudge’s writing.

The paperbacks from Girls Gone By are a quality production, printed in the UK and incorporating the original illustrations. Each book includes a different introduction by publisher Clarissa Cridland, which provide photos of some of the relevant sites in Wells, along with an excellent bibliography, a biography of Elizabeth Goudge, and (in Henrietta’s House) a synopsis of A City of Bells. All these extras make them even more tempting, and the care that has gone into their production speaks of how cherished they are by Goudge fans.

I’m so glad that the way to Torminster is open once more, and hope that you will want to make a journey there soon.

Congratulations to the winner, Cleo of Classical Carousel!

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Review and giveaway copy source: Personal collection (A City of Bells); Paperbacks from publisher (Henrietta’s House and Sister of the Angels). No other compensation was received, and all opinions expressed are my own.

Witch Week Summary, Giveaway Winner, and 2015 Preview

It’s the final day of Witch Week at the Emerald City Book Review, and I’d like to say a giant THANK YOU to everyone who participated, first and foremost our five guest bloggers: Ana, Kristen, Jenny, Cheryl, and Chris. Your contributions were a daily joy! For easy reference, here they are again:

Thanks to all who commented on these, and on the readalong post for the book Witch Week. If you didn’t have a chance to read that book yet, it’s never too late! Feel free to come back to share your thoughts at any time.

I’d also like to thank Leeswammes and the Literary Blog Hop (fortuitously scheduled during this week) for bringing many readers from all over the world to ECBR, and Tor Books, which generously contributed a copy of Deep Secret for the Witch Week giveaway.

And how about that giveaway? Jean L. won the $10 Powell’s gift certificate, the DWJ zine, and the copy of Deep Secret. Congratulations, Jean! Though the Witch Week giveaway is over, be sure to check out ghostgrrrl for a great opportunity to snag two mini-zines on “Five Diana Wynne Jones Books,” open through November 15.

I’ve gathered a few posts that were linked or sent to me below. You can still use the linky on the Master Post to add yours; I’ll keep it open for at least another month. You can also leave a comment or email me at withawhy99 [at] gmail [dot] com. I’ll keep on gathering posts here as long as anyone bothers to send them to me.


Finally, I’m already planning next year’s Witch Week! The theme will be New Tales from Old (books based on folktales, myths, and traditional stories) and the featured book for Halloween will be Tam Lin by Pamela Dean. It’s set at a fictionalized version of my alma mater, Carleton College, which makes it extra fun for me — but it’s a great read for everyone. I’d also like to include another book by Diana Wynne Jones, Eight Days of Luke, which plays on the origin of our days of the week in Norse mythology.

Other than that, I’m open to suggestions. What content would you like to see? Are you interested in contributing a guest post, giveaway, or anything else? Do you have feedback about this year’s event? Again, comment or email me to let me know.

Thank you all for being a part of the first Witch Week. I hope you’ll be back next year, and that you’ll stay connected in the coming months too. I’d love to share my reading journey with you.


Witch Week 2014: Preview and Master Post

Diana Wynne Jones blog event


…Witch Week, when there is so much magic around in the world that all sorts of peculiar things happen… — Witch Week by Diana Wynne Jones

Welcome to Witch Week at the Emerald City Book Review, where for the first time I’m hosting what I hope will become an annual event celebrating our favorite fantasy books and authors. This year, we’re focusing on one of the best fantasy authors of all time, who is also the originator (as far as I know) of the term “Witch Week” — British writer Diana Wynne Jones. What will be happening?

Guest Posts: From October 31 through November 4, there will be a different guest blogger each day commenting on some favorite DWJ titles. You won’t want to miss any of these!

Readalong: On November 5, bring your thoughts about the book Witch Week to our readalong post, or just visit to see what other readers have to say.

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Diana Wynne Jones

Giveaway: From November 1 through 5, in sync with the Literary Blog Hop, enter a giveaway for a copy of artist Emma Jane Falconer’s unique DWJ zine, a $10 Powell’s gift certificate, and (US/Canada only) the new Tor edition of Deep Secret. You’ll get extra points for leaving a comment on any of the announcement posts, including this one!

Link up your own posts: Use the linky below, or just leave a comment or send me an email at withawhy99 [at] gmail [dot] com to let me know of any related posts you’ve done on your own blog at any time (does not have to be from this week). I’ll do a roundup on the final day of the week, November 6.

However you choose to participate, I hope you enjoy Witch Week! This is a new venture for me, so your comments and suggestions are much appreciated. Happy reading!