Saturday, September 5, 2009

Giveaway: The Day the Falls Stood Still

Many thanks to the lovely Diane Saarinen for allowing me to host this wonderful giveaway of one (1) copy of the novel The Day the Falls Stood Still. Unfortunately, due to the shipping costs the winner must have a valid U.S. mailing address (no PO boxes). The giveaway will end on September 16th at midnight and the winner will be chosen by on August 17th. The winner will have 48 hours to respond, before a new winner will be chosen.

To be entered you must leave a comment with a valid email address. No email address = no entry. You must also leave a relevant and intelligent comment on:
+ My review of The Day the Falls Stood Still
+ The guest post by Cathy Marie Buchanan

For an additional entry each you may complete the following:
+ 1 For following this blog
+ 1 Follow me on twitter
+ 1 Add my blog button (with a link back) on your blog
+ 2 For posting about this giveaway on your blog
+ 1 For posting about this giveaway on your sidebar or tweeting

Yep, that's right... if you complete all of the above you will be entered to win 7 times. Good luck!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Review: The Day the Falls Stood Still

The Day the Falls Stood Still
by Cathy Marie Buchanan

Steeped in the intriguing history of Niagara Falls, this epic love story is as rich, spellbinding, and majestic as the falls themselves.

1915. The dawn of the hydroelectric power era in Niagara Falls. Seventeen-year-old Bess Heath has led a sheltered existence as the youngest daughter of the director of the Niagara Power Company. After graduation day at her boarding school, she is impatient to return to her picturesque family home near Niagara Falls. But when she arrives, nothing is as she had left it. Her father has lost his job at the power company, her mother is reduced to taking in sewing from the society ladies she once entertained, and Isabel, her vivacious older sister, is a shadow of her former self. She has shut herself in her bedroom, barely eating--and harboring a secret.

The night of her return, Bess meets Tom Cole by chance on a trolley platform. She finds herself inexplicably drawn to him--against her family's strong objections. He is not from their world. Rough-hewn and fearless, he lives off what the river provides and has an uncanny ability to predict the whims of the falls. His daring river rescues render him a local hero and cast him as a threat to the power companies that seek to harness the power of the falls for themselves. As their lives become more fully entwined, Bess is forced to make a painful choice between what she wants and what is best for her family and her future.

Set against the tumultuous backdrop of Niagara Falls, at a time when daredevils shot the river rapids in barrels and great industrial fortunes were made and lost as quickly as lives disappeared, The Day the Falls Stood Still is an intoxicating debut novel.

First Sentence:
The stone walls of Loretto Academy are so thick I can sit curled up on a windowsill, arms around the knees tucked beneath my chin.

I really loved reading The Day the Falls Stood Still, Cathy's writing is smooth and easy to follow. I was able to connect with all of the characters easily, while at the same time there was a distance from some of them that worked well for the storyline. For instance I felt a huge distance between myself and Bess' sister Isabel, which helped me understand how Bess felt when she returned home from the Loretto Academy for girls and found a sister completely different than the last time she saw her. I fell in love with Tom Cole from the first moment he was mentioned. I am amazed that Cathy was able to make Tom appear mysterious and love-able throughout the whole book.

My favorite thing about this book is the fact that it is set in Niagara Falls, because I have never read a book about the area... and what makes it even better is the fact that it is historical. The only trouble that I had with this book is the fact that time jumps forward very quickly, which is understandable since the book is only 320 pages... but I kinda felt that I missed out on a lot of Bess' life. I do have to warn you though to make sure you are not in a public place, oh like say the park... like I was, when you finish this book because you will have tears in your eyes. ;)

I would recommend The Day the Falls Stood Still to anyone who enjoys reading historical fiction or love stories. The book also contains all of the aspects of life including the different levels of society, suicide, death, birth, and growing up.

Favorite Quotes:
Endless water plummets from the brink to the rocks below, like the careless who slip, like the stunters who fail, like the suicidal who leap.
His accusation of cowardice smarted, and I blurted out, "I figured you for a gentleman."
"I hoped I could learn," he said and turned away.
. . . there are two kinds of love. One that is slow in coming and builds with shared kindnesses. And another that is all-consuming, blind, little more than lust. "The first can last a lifetime," she says. "The second is founded on nothing and cannot."

Title: The Day the Falls Stood Still
Hardcover: 320 pages
ISBN 10: 1401340970
ISBN 13: 978-140134097
Buy It: Amazon, Borders, Barnes & Noble, Powell's
Review Number: 25
My Copy: provided for blog tour

Guest Post: Cathy Marie Buchanan

Born and bred in Niagara Falls, I grew up awash in an endless stream of local lore─the Maid of the Mist and her canoe, Sir Isaac Brock and the War of 1812, Blondin and his tightrope, Annie Taylor and her barrel, William “Red” Hill and his daring rescues, Sir Adam Beck and hydroelectricity, Roger Woodward and the miracle at Niagara… With such a storied past and the staggering beauty of the falls themselves, I knew I would set my debut novel in Niagara Falls long before I had an inkling about character or plot.

When it came time to research, I turned to my collection of books surveying Niagara’s history and with trepidation─my formal education in history ended in grade nine─cracked the cover of the book at the top of the stack. Yet, as I read, the bits of lore I had gathered as a child reignited, and I found myself reading late into the night. I had seen the rusted-out hull of the old barge lodged in the rapids just above the falls and, for as long as I can remember, knew two men had been rescued from that precarious perch. But as I pored over the history books, I found out that a life line gun had been shot out to the barge, and that when the lines of the breeches buoy meant to rescue the stranded men became snarled, a brave soul headed out to them in the black of night, trusting the lines anchored to that uncertain barge. I had always known about the convent school atop a bluff a stone’s throw from the falls, but I discovered that it was built at that spot because an early archbishop of Toronto had seen a picture of the falls as a boy and conjured up prayers floating heavenward with the mist.

What I was seeking, as I read, was the time period and narrative that best showcased Niagara’s wondrous and quirky past. The story of William “Red” Hill, Niagara’s most famous riverman, came up time and again, and with each telling I became more certain my main male character─Tom Cole─would be loosely based on him. Red Hill had an uncanny knowledge of the river and during his lifetime (1888-1942) hauled 177 bodies from the river, rescued 29 people and assisted a handful of stunters. In the early 1900s his beloved river was threatened by the massive diversion of water away from the falls for the production of hydroelectricity. While I came across no evidence of diversion causing him heartache, I knew I could incorporate it to thicken the plot.

To learn more about Red Hill, I spent afternoons in the Niagara Falls (Ontario) Public Library, perusing newspaper accounts of his rescues and self-published essays and leaflets commemorating his heroism. Along with the details of his life, I began to grasp the elusive nature of history, something every real historian must know in their bones. Newspaper accounts from a mere hundred years ago and published the day after an event conflicted with one another with startling regularity, and plenty went unsaid. As a writer committed to getting the known details right, such imprecision was a frustration but, I’ll admit, sometimes also a relief.

Once I’d decided my riverman’s love interest─Bess Heath─would come from a privileged background, I sequestered myself in the Loretto Archives, learning all I could about Loretto Academy, the prestigious convent school at Niagara Falls. I toured the academy, sat in the library where the students would have spent study hall and peered from dorm room windows as the boarding students surely had.

I scoured the internet, finding an abundance of gorgeous, historical images of Niagara Falls in the online databases of Library and Archives Canada, the Library of Congress, the Niagara Falls (Ontario) Public Library and the Toronto Archives. I was smitten and so were my editors, and many of the images found a home in The Day the Falls Stood Still.

In Niagara Falls, with Tom Cole and Bess Heath becoming ever clearer in my mind, I traipsed the hydroelectric installations and wandered the wooded pathways of the glen and walked the recreation trail that runs the length of the gorge and strode the streets of Silvertown, gazing up at Glenview where Bess would live upon her return from Loretto Academy. I stood at the brink of the falls, filling with wonder, wishing that I could, just once, glimpse the falls as it was before the massive diversion of water for hydroelectricity.

Picture captions and credits:
American Falls ─ Library of Congress, 3b15325r

Thank you for such an amazing guest post Cathy! Be sure to check back tomorrow for my review of The Day the Falls Stood Still! :)

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Just an update

So that everyone knows that I have not disappeared, turned into a vampire, been attacked by zombies or gotten sick... but I have been completely consumed with college and work, which both started on the 24th. It really sucks since my blog has been put on the back burner, well actually my computer has too since I haven't even had the urge to turn it on lately :( But I just wanted to let everyone know that I shall be trying to return to my regular posting soon and I have many exciting things lined up including:

-Review of Ash
-Review of Viola in Reel Life
-Author Interview with Malinda Lo
-Review of Geektastic
-Author Interview with Amy Efaw
-Review of The Day the Falls Stood Still
-Guest post by Cathy Marie Buchanan

-And FOUR (4) amazing giveaways!!! :)

I do hope to have all of these done this month, so don't forget to keep checking back! ;) I will also be posting my mailbox Monday for the past two weeks tomorrow, which shall be a vlog since I have accumulated way too many books to list in a post.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Author Interview: Ann Haywood Leal

Author Interview: Ann Haywood Leal

Did you major in English / Creative writing in college? Would you recommend aspiring writers to do so or major in a subject they would like to write about, such as history?
I majored in psychology and elementary education at the University of Washington in Seattle. Being a teacher has influenced my writing in a huge way. The kids definitely fuel me with ideas! I love listening to them talk. I don’t think you need to major in creative writing, but I’m sure it helps. Getting a liberal arts education is great, because it exposes you to so many different topics. You never know what is going to spark your interest as a writer and end up as the beginning of a story!

What was your first reaction when you saw the cover of your first book? Do you think that the cover of your Also Known as Harper represents the story within it?
That’s a great question because my book has actually had two covers! The one on the ARC (Advanced Reader Copy) is an old broken-down motel, which I loved. Then it was changed before the final hardcover was printed. It sounds corny, but when my editor showed me that cover, it took my breath away. It was as if the designer had gotten inside my head and put my thoughts down in picture form. It couldn’t have been more perfect.

Does it make you nervous knowing that people are reading your work?
Yes, yes, and yes! All of my writing life, which is from about age four, only a handful of people have ever read my stories; mainly my family and my teachers, and later on, my critique group. The one thing that I have always wanted though, was to give someone else the feeling that I got as a young girl when I found the right book on the shelf at the library. I would be thrilled if someone connected with one of my characters like that.

What kind of environment do you prefer to write in? Any music, or television in the background?
I am still teaching full-time, so I’ll pretty much write in any environment! I take a notebook or a laptop wherever I go so I can squeeze in as much writing time as possible. I’ve written on the sidelines at my daughter’s soccer practice, on an old church pew while my daughter was in her religion class, and on the floor in the hallway outside her violin lesson. My ideal environment would be outside with jazz music on my IPod and a really good mocha espresso drink, with extra chocolate on the side!

Have you ever based any of your characters on real life people? If so have they ever figured it out?
I have never consciously based any of my characters on a real person, but I’m sure they have certain traits of people I have come across or known. For example, Winnie Rae Early’s mother, Harper’s evicting landlord, has shades of an old neighbor of mine from my childhood. That neighbor said the most horrible things to the neighborhood kids—and even worse, she was the mother of three kids, herself! If she were to read the book, I doubt that she’d recognize herself. I don’t think that people tend to recognize their own bad qualities!

How do you pick the names of your characters?
Harper is named after Harper Lee, the author of my favorite book (and what I consider to be the great American novel!), TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD. Hemingway is a tribute to a friend of mine who passed away. He was her favorite author.

What inspired you to write Also Known as Harper?
I have volunteered at my local soup kitchen for the last few years. Harper isn’t based on a particular visitor of the soup kitchen, but more on a feeling I got when I first saw the children come in with their families. The adults tend to be somewhat beaten down by life, but the kids are so strong and they still have hope in their eyes. I tried to convey that hope and resiliency in the characters of Harper and her brother, Hem.

Do you have a favorite character from your novels?
Hmmm…..probably Harper. But I’m also attached to the main character from my first novel that I wrote in the sixth grade. It was a hundred pages, mainly on colored notebook paper. I was kind of a geek (I still am!), and I spent a lot of time with the characters in the books I was reading and writing!

If you were not an author, what profession would you want to have?
I would want to work in a bookstore or a library…or I would love to be a jazz singer or the lead singer in an alternative band…but there is an issue with my singing voice…it’s terrible!

Are you working on anything at the moment?
I just finished my second novel, SEARCHING FOR EZEKIEL, due out next year, also with Henry Holt/MacMillan. It is about two sisters, dealing with a mother who I hope will bring out conflicting emotions in the reader!

I have loved visiting your blog. Thank you so much!

Thank you oh so much for stopping by Books Love Jessica Marie and answering all of my questions! I really appreciate it! :)

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