Tag: Seven Deadly Sins of Reading


This was fun! I was tagged by Lauren at romance4thebeach to participate in this questionnaire. Thanks Lauren!


Defined as: An intense and selfish desire for something.

What is your most expensive book?

 2010 Guide to Literary Agents.


Defined as: Extreme anger.

What author do you have a love/hate relationship with?

Gillian Flynn. I hated the characters in Gone Girl but I couldn’t put the book down. It was so well written and suspenseful, but I hated the ending. I loved the book. No, I hated the book. See?


Defined as: Intense over-indulgence.

What book have you devoured over and over with no shame?

I wish I could say I’ve read books more than once. I don’t think I have. However, I will be re-reading The Bronze Horseman at some point. That book (the whole trilogy) just wrung me dry. So emotional. I loved it.

sloth_word_tattoo_design_24Defined as: a reluctance to work or make an effort.

What book have you neglected to read due to laziness?

I’d have to say The Story of Edgar Sawtelle. This is the only book I stopped reading before finishing. For me, it was slow and I just couldn’t get through it. I also bought Anna Karenina years ago and it still sits, untouched, on my shelf. Taunting me.


Defined as: satisfaction derived from one’s own achievements or from qualities or possessions that are widely admired.

What book do you talk about most in order to sound like an intellectual reader?

I read what makes me happy and I’m proud of any book that does that. I guess if I were to try to impress someone, I’d tell them I read The Goldfinch. But I didn’t really enjoy it as much as I hoped I would. The book I talk about most lately, has to be Outlander and prior to that, Me Before You by JoJo Moyes. Fantastic books.

lust_word_tattoo_design 18Defined as: a strong sexual desire.

What attributes do you find attractive in male characters?

 I like male characters who are strong, protective, slightly jealous and romantic. Perfect examples: Alexander Belov (Bronze Horseman) and Jamie Fraser (Outlander).


Defined as: a feeling of discontented or resentful longing aroused by someone else’s possessions, qualities, or luck.

What book would you most like to receive as a gift?

Definitely Ken Follett’s The Century Trilogy. The whole trilogy. I guess this kind of ties in with Greed, too.

I’m tagging

Gina Ardito

Harry Hauca



If you don’t want to participate, no worries! If you would like to be added, just let me know!

A Verra Good Series!

Twenty-three years ago, Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander was released for public consumption. This past July, I decided to read it. Twenty-three years after publication. On a whim.

Actually, this series was strongly recommended by one of my readers, who is now a friend. So, when I say I read it ‘on a whim’, I really mean I finally decided to listen to her.

I read the 642-page book in four days. I gobbled it down, swallowed it and relished the entire story – every word, every page. It was awesome! If you would have told me I’d love a story that involves time-travel back to the Scottish Highlands of the 18th century, witch-hunts, hangings, and war, I would have said you were crazy.

This was all of that and more – a love story that encapsulated everything I want: a strong heroine, a good looking hero (with an accent), nail-biting scenes and the most romantic dialogue I’ve ever read. Dare I say, it’s as good as The Bronze Horseman. Gasp!

So, I read the next book in the eight-book series, Dragonfly in Amber. Already completely hooked onto Jamie and Claire’s story, I enjoyed it immensely.

Outlander 2014

Here’s where it gets a little spooky (to me). Twenty-three years after this story was published, producers from Starz! decided to make the first book into a TV series. The same summer I just so happened to read it. Coincidence? Perhaps.

Or do I have that power?

If you’ll recall in a previous post, I read The Bronze Horseman late last year (also a recommendation I finally listened to), a decade after publication, and guess who stopped into the Book Revue in Huntington for the first time this Spring? That’s right. Paullina Simons. See?

I’m thinking it’s me.

Anyway, I couldn’t believe my good fortune at being able to see the characters I fell in love with come to life every Saturday night at nine pm. I can’t remember the last time I’ve looked forward to a television program. And I have DVR, so I never actually see a show at the time it airs. Except for this one. To hear Jamie call Claire “Sassenach” and “mo nighean donn” outside of my head puts me in my happy place.


My husband watches the series with me. He’s seen my head buried in these books for weeks so his curiosity is peaked. And, he knows it will be a long, cold winter if he doesn’t.

Each week as we watch, I fill him in on snippets of information I’m privy to, having an intimate knowledge of the story. I truly believe I love the Starz! series even more having read the book – something I rarely say.

“What are they calling Claire?” He asked.

“Sassenach. It’s Scottish for ‘outsider’ or ‘outlander’” I explain.

Though husband was satisfied with my answer, I took it a step further.

“When Jamie calls her ‘Sassenach’ though, it’s with affection. And very romantic.”

I have the third installment, Voyager, waiting on my Kindle. I have forced myself to take a break from this series to read other books – but always, it is in the back of my mind, waiting, taunting, beckoning me.

Husband called me the other day from the car. “Hello, Susquehanna.” He said.

“Are you trying to say Sassenach?”

The next day, he walked in from work. “How was your day, my Sasperillo?”

“Um, it’s Sassenach.”

Tomorrow night is the final mid-season episode, which bothers me. It’s like Starz! gave me a gift and now they want to take it back before I fully enjoyed it. I’m sure the reason will be explained at some point. I hope.

In bed, husband whispered in my ear, “G’night my little Seskatchewan.”


If you haven’t jumped on the Outlander bandwagon yet, I say go ahead. You won’t be disappointed. I promise you, it’s verra good!


Meeting Paullina Simons

Thanks to personal hygiene and a little luck, I met my favorite author, Paullina Simons, last Friday.

I just happened to pass the Book Revue – a wonderful gem of a place in Huntington, NY, where every major author stops on their book tour – on my way home from my waxing appointment (see ‘The In-Between’ for details). Stuck at a traffic light, I happened to glance over to see a huge sign in the window, PAULLINA SIMONS, APRIL 11th. The light turned green and I accelerated  thinking, HOLY S—! My favorite author is going to be right here in Huntington, ten minutes from my house, on April 11th! When is April 11?

Oh God. It’s today. Without thought, I dialed my childhood bestie, who also loves Paullina.

We were the first ones to arrive at the bookstore that evening and decided to sit strategically at the back, right near the desk where Paullina would be signing her latest release, Bellagrand. We bought the book and sat, chatting, excited, catching up. Gradually the seats filled, but to my surprise, there wasn’t a large crowd – no one had to stand around the room. There were just the fifty or so of us. I couldn’t understand it. How was this store not packed wall to wall with her readers? How could I be so lucky to be here, one of only a few, privileged to meet this woman?

Paullina walked in and started to speak. She was gracious, humble, funny and endearing. I enjoyed her stories about her father, how he learned to speak English in the Gulag, so he could get his family out of Russia and to America. She spoke of Bellagrand, why she wrote the story about Alexander’s parents, Gina and Harry, how she related to Gina, an immigrant from Italy, and how Bellagrand is really, at it’s heart, a love story.

I regret now that I didn’t record her speaking so I can listen to her again and explain in more detail her entertaining, enlightening anecdotes. But at the time, I didn’t want to. I wanted to enjoy the experience first hand, fully present.

Paullina had the room under her spell until she stopped and opened her forum up to questions. Most of the people there wanted to know more about The Bronze Horseman, about Tatiana and Alexander, was there a movie in the works (Answer: trying, but need money). Not me. I wanted to know about her writing and asked her if she always knew she wanted to write.

To paraphrase her answer: Yes. After the company she worked for went under, “through no fault of her own,” she found herself unemployed and since she always thought she would write, decided to do it. Tully was her first book. She was 23.

I was the first one on line- my friend, Monica, behind me- clutching my book, waiting for Paullina to make her way to the table and sit. With a warm, welcoming smile, she looked at me and asked my name. This is what I said:




I’m sure I didn’t scare her. Well, almost sure.

Paullina seemed genuinely flattered and appreciative. In fact, she thanked the group more than once for coming out on a Friday night to see her (as if we had a choice!) She signed my book, wished me luck with my own book and I was on my way.



This is me spewing my fanatical one-word answer.

On the ride home, my friend held her copy and said: It was fate. What were the chances that we just read her books, written 10 years ago? That you happened to get your Brazilian on the 11th, happened to pass the Book Revue instead of going your normal route home (which is to not pass the Book Revue) and that we both happened to be available?

Yes, I agreed. Fate.

Then Monica verbalized my thoughts (as she usually does) : I want to have a cup of coffee with her. Again, I agreed.  I want to talk with Paullina, hear her stories, discuss our writing, share a laugh. Because I truly believe that if we were to have met at any other time, in any other place, she would have been a friend.

To Russia, With Love




Hi there. It’s me.

Let’s talk books.

If I love a book, I shout it from the rooftop (figuratively speaking): I mention it to everyone I know, blog it’s wonderfulness, email the author, rate it on Goodreads,  tweet my rating, and (try to) get all of my friends to read it.

I’ve read a few books this year, and until now, have not had the desire to shout about any . So, I thought I’d give a quick synopsis of what I’ve read the past month, what I’m reading now, and how I feel about them.

Just in case you were wondering.

I read Labor Day by Joyce Maynard for my Wine Not Read book club. It’s about a lonely boy and his lonely mother who take an injured escaped convict home from a store and spend five days with him at their house. With the movie out, all the press, the author being interviewed by Matt Lauer, I figured it would be great. It wasn’t. It never grabbed me emotionally and I was disappointed. Perhaps if the story was told from the woman’s point of view instead of from a thirteen-year-old boy, I might have enjoyed it more. Perhaps not. This one is not worth shouting.

I also read The Girl You Left Behind, by JoJo Moyes, a dual timeframe story set in WWI and modern day. I loved the beginning of this book: the story about Sophie and Edouard during WWI, and the decision Sophie’s forced to make while waiting for her beloved Edouard to return safely from war. It was really well done and hooked me immediately. However, I didn’t connect with the modern day story of Liv and Paul and that changed my feeling for the book from “love” to “like.”

I admire this author, who blew my mind last year with Me Before You. Moyes’ The Last Letter From Your Lover was also truly enjoyable.  The Girl You Left Behind does not hold a candle to either of those. It was good. Not great. But good. No shouting. No rooftops. Okay, maybe a fourth third floor balcony.

I am in the middle of The GoldFinch, by Donna Tartt, a 771 page story about a young boy in NYC who survives an accident that kills his mother. The writing is beautiful, but the details are exhausting and I need to take  breaks, which is something I don’t ordinarily do. I never cheat on one book with another. Each story gets my full attention until completion. I just can’t do it with this one. I will finish it. Eventually. But I need a few moments to breathe.

This leads me to the other book I’m currently reading, and the reason for this message.  I’m talking about Six Days in Leningrad, written by none other than my most favorite author, Paullina Simons. In this memoir of her first visit back to Leningrad (now St. Petersburg) in 25 years, Simons describes beautifully how she feels returning to her childhood home, in order to do research for her book The Bronze Horseman. Yep, that’s right. This is the story of how she got the information and inspiration to write THE story.


Reading Simon’s poignant account of her visit with her father, I realize just how much of herself and her own Russian life she put into her beloved trilogy. This one is a keeper.

I’m heading for the roof.