Friday, July 30, 2010

Phillipa Gregory "The Red Queen" Free Giveaway!

We are very happy to announce that the good people at Simon & Schuster have not only sent Loaded Questions a copy of Phillipa Gregory's new book The Red Queen but have also passed along another copy for us to give away to one lucky reader of Loaded Questions!

Here are the details:

  • The giveaway is FREE to our devoted readers and new converts.
  • Entering is easy, simply leave a comment on this post with a short note ... maybe what you like about LQ or the book that you're currently reading.
  • Our readers will have one week to post their reply, ensuring their entry in the giveaway. All entries must be received by August 6th at midnight. Please take care to include contact information in your comment/entry so that we may successfully contact the winner of the prize in a timely manner. (Sounds like common sense, right? You'd be surprised.)
  • The winner will be announced Monday, August 9th at Loaded Questions and via a private email to the winner no later that 5pm PST. In order to select the winner of our Phillipa Gregory The Red Queen Giveaway in the most equitable manner we will use the Random Integer Generator at
   Good Luck and Happy Reading!
           - Loaded Questions Staff

Want More Info on Philippa Gregory 
and her new novel, The Red Queen? 

   We've got a rundown on the new book, a recommendation from Publisher's Weekly, the book's cover description and a video of Gregory herself reading from the new novel! 
      Bestselling author Philippa Gregory’s new book, The Red Queen, will be available in hardcover next week, August 3rd. The new book, coming in at a total of 400 pages, is the second in the author's The Cousin's War series. The first in the series, The White Queen was a #1 New York Times Bestseller and will be available in paperback on August 6th of this year. 

    Publisher's Weekly Writes: Nobody does the Tudors better than Gregory (The Other Boleyn Girl), so it should come as no surprise that her latest—the War of the Roses as seen through the eyes of Henry VII's mother —is confident, colorful, convincing, and full of conflict, betrayal, and political maneuvering. Gregory gives readers Margaret Beaufort in her own words, from innocent nine-year-old to conspiring courtier who stops at nothing to see her son on England's throne. Gregory devotees will note the difference between the supernaturally gifted Yorkist White Queen and Lancastrian Margaret, who, despite saintly aspirations, grows worldly through three marriages; a powerless widow at 13, remarried and separated from her only son by 15, it is not until she's 29 that Margaret is ready to realize her most audacious ambitions. Gregory clones have made historical novels from a woman's perspective far too familiar to make this seem as fresh as her earlier works. Yet, like Margaret Beaufort, Gregory puts her many imitators to shame by dint of unequalled energy, focus, and unwavering execution.

    Want more info? Watch the video below to see bestselling author Philippa Gregory read from The Red Queen, her second epic novel set during the Wars of the Roses.


    From the book cover of The Red Queen by Philippa Gregory: 

    Heiress to the red rose of Lancaster, Margaret Beaufort never surrenders her belief that her house is the true ruler of England and that she has a great destiny before her. Her ambitions are disappointed when her sainted cousin Henry VI fails to recognize her as a kindred spirit, and she is even more dismayed when he sinks into madness. Her mother mocks her plans, revealing that Margaret will always be burdened with the reputation of her father, one of the most famously incompetent English commanders in France. But worst of all for Margaret is when she discovers that her mother is sending her to a loveless marriage in remote Wales.

    Married to a man twice her age, quickly widowed, and a mother at only fourteen, Margaret is determined to turn her lonely life into a triumph. She sets her heart on putting her son on the throne of England regardless of the cost to herself, to England, and even to the little boy. Disregarding rival heirs and the overwhelming power of the York dynasty, she names him Henry, like the king; sends him into exile; and pledges him in marriage to her enemy Elizabeth of York's daughter. As the political tides constantly move and shift, Margaret charts her own way through another loveless marriage, treacherous alliances, and secret plots. She feigns loyalty to the usurper Richard III and even carries his wife's train at her coronation.

    Widowed a second time, Margaret marries the ruthless, deceitful Thomas, Lord Stanley, and her fate stands on the knife edge of his will. Gambling her life that he will support her, she then masterminds one of the greatest rebellions of the time—all the while knowing that her son has grown to manhood, recruited an army, and now waits for his opportunity to win the greatest prize.

    In a novel of conspiracy, passion, and coldhearted ambition, number one bestselling author Philippa Gregory has brought to life the story of a proud and determined woman who believes that she alone is destined, by her piety and lineage, to shape the course of history.
    Keywords: Philippa Gregory Free Giveaway, free copy of The Red Queen, free book giveaway, The Red Queen, Cousin's War, The White Queen, The Other Boleyn Girl, free, Tudor history, historical fiction, English historical fiction, War of the Roses, Elizabeth Woodville, Henry VIII, Margaret Beaufort

    Saturday, July 24, 2010

    Literary News: The Digital Battle, Publishing Houses in Peril?, Damnit Janet (Evanovich) and Animal Farm the Musical

    • The Digital Battle That loud cackle followed by uncontrollable laughter that you heard a few days ago was coming from on the day that it announced that for the first time since its Kindle had been released digital books had outsold hardcover books at the site. According to Amazon, one of most prolific booksellers in the country, in the last four weeks they have been selling as many as 180 digital books per every 100 hardback books sold. The announcement may not come as a surprise as the battle between the digital book and the traditional book has been going on for awhile now. It is interesting, however, to note that Amazon offers 630,000 kindle books as opposed to the millions of hardback books sold at the site. The Kindle has is still a relative newcomer to the Amazon site as it has only been sold for 33 months while the site itself has been in the book business for over 15 years. 
    • Publishing Houses in Peril? The battle between digital and traditional books is taking places on multiple fronts. Things have been heating up this week in the publishing world. It has been reported in the article "Random House Bullying Agents on EBooks - But Is It Legal?" by Mike Fleming over at that the power of the digital book has been creating quite a bit of angst over the place of traditional publishing houses in the future of the book biz. This controversy lands on the heels of Amazon's announcement as well as the announcement that book agent Andrew Wylie, the man behind a newly established electronic publishing imprint Odyssey Editions, has signed an exclusive deal with The deal would essentially cut out the middle man, the publishing houses, by selling Amazon sole e-book rights to titles like Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man, Vladimir Nabakov’s Lolita, Philip Roth’s Portnoy’s Complaint, Hunter S. Thompson’s Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, John Updike’s Rabbit Run series, Norman Mailer’s The Naked and the Dead and Evelyn Waugh's Brideshead Revisited. The books will only be available on Kindle for the traditional $9.99 price of digital editions. According to the piece's author Fleming, Random House responded with what he calls "sheer thuggery" by blacklisting Wylie in a"clear attempt to scare other authors and their reps from trying the same thing." Other publishers such as Macmillian, he writes, have taken similar measures. Fleming asks the question that is, undoubtedly, at the heart of the conflict: in the case of authors who signed contracts before the digital book was even a gleam in the eye of Amazon or Sony? The answer is one that is sure to cause debate. Hit reply and leave us a comment, what do you think? Read the rest of Mike Fleming's piece over at by clicking here.
    • Damnit Janet!  Janet Evanovich has been atop the New York Times bestsellers list a total of 14 times, has sold northward of 90 million books in her career and has been making quite a bit of news this week when news of her split with St. Martin's Press was announced. Evanovich, who has been with St. Martin's Press for the last fifteen years, recently asked for $50 million dollars for her next four books -- something St. Martin's just wasn't willing to do. News followed that her agent/son Peter Evanovich was shopping around at other publishers, the $50 million dollar ask still intact. According to a article Evanovich is one of the top grossing authors racking in an estimated $16 million dollars in book-related income last year. Her backlisted novels sell some 20 million copies a year. Evanovich's seperation with St. Martin's Press has perhaps come at a bad time for a number of reasons: the author's last novel, Sizzlin' Sixteen the latest novel in her very successful Stephanie Plum series, has had less than stellar reviews, receiving just two and a half starts out of a possible five over at, matters are only made more dire with the current state of publishing houses and their battle to stay profitable. According to there is a great deal of risk involved in signing deals like that requested by Evanovich: "such a front-loaded deal puts all the risk on the new books, and the publisher doesn't have the benefit of writing off losers against backlist books that remain at St.Martin's Press." While Dirk Smilie over at asks the obvious question, whether Evanovich is worth the steep price tag, he does point out that Pillars of the Earth author Ken Follett recently signed a $50 million dollar three book deal and that James Patterson also recently signed a whopping $100 million dollar deal over at Hatchette, although that deal was for an equally staggering seventeen novels. Evanovich, many argue, is on the same level as Follett and Patterson. All three prolific authors who have a reputation for churning out novels that consistently sell. Will Evanovich find a deal outside of the St. Martin's "family"? Is she the sum she's asking for fair? Share your thoughts by clicking comment and telling us how it is!
    •   Belt It Out: Animal Farm the Musical? This one could leave you scratching your head. According to the UK's The Daily Mail Sir Elton John and producing partner Lee Hall, the creative team behind the stage version of Billy Elliot: The Musical are planning to start work on a musical version of George Orwell's 65 year-old allegorical barn yard tale, Animal Farm. Lee reportedly told The Daily Mail that it had taken them about two years to secure the rights for the project, and that it would probably take another two years before the musical is finished. Consider yourself warned.

    Friday, July 23, 2010

    What We're Reading

    What We're Reading
    And You Should Too...

    Pearl of China by Anchee Min
    Current Amazon Price: $16.32
    Pub. Date: March 2010
    Bloomsbury USA

    During the Cultural Revolution of the 1960's and 70's Pearl S. Buck went from being a great story telling of Chinese history and cultural to a Western enemies whose writings and ideas were to be thought of poison from a foreign enemy. Before the novel starts Min dedicates the novel to Buck and expresses lament because of the fervor with which she had denounced Buck and her works during the revolution. The novel is a way in which Min feels she make up for those years of denunciation to an author who is now widely hailed as a great writer and heroine of the Chinese people.

    Best-selling author Anchee Min's latest novel delves into the life of Pearl Buck and her childhood friend and narrator Willow. As the book begins Buck is the daughter of a zealous Christian missionary who is struggling to move the people in the small southern Chinese city of Chin-kiang away from their numerous gods and towards the story of and belief in Jesus Christ. Buck's father faces a number of challenges as much of Jesus' teachings and life are lost in translation. The people feel uncomfortable about worship such a skinny god who looks as though he cannot feed himself as well as the image of a bearded Jesus who looks destitute and not respectable. It is Willow's crafty and cunning father who leaves his life as a common thief to aid Pearl's father in making his Jesus more popular by giving him less Western eyes and a rounder belly in order for him to compete with the plump Buddha the people cling to.
    The young Pearl we meet through the eyes of her Chinese playmate Willow will eventually grow up to be the iconic Pearl S. Buck author of The Good Earth, Imperial Women, and Dragon Seed along with a great many more historical fiction novels based in the China of her youth.  The character of Pearl is interesting, a girl who struggles to fit into a Chinese society that she think of as her own but clearly sticks out in. She is conflicted as she watches her father try and convert the locals whom she comes to think of as her own.

    I started reading the novel last night and am already a third of the way through it. Something about Min's writing instantly draws me in. I've read every one of her books and although some of them are more compelling than others I have enjoyed them all and was relishing the idea of another Min novel.  The read is quick but compelling and one I suggest. Yes, there are a number of religious elements in the novel, Christianity chiefly among them but the greater story of Pearl and Willow's friendship and themes of belonging and identity should out weight any misgivings one might have about religious elements.
    I have long been a fan of Chinese-born author Anchee Min, first reading her memoir Red Azalea in which the author details her childhood in Communist China during the Cultural Revolution of the 1960s and 1970s. The story is one of severe deprivation, betrayal and zeal for the words of  the powerful Chairman Mao. Min struggles to fit in and prove her loyalty to the Red Revolution grabbing hold all around her. Red Azalea is the story of an exceptional woman living in exceptionally difficult times. From her childhood in the Red Guard to the tireless and inhumane conditions of the work farm she was forced to toil in, the reader cannot help but feel a connection to Min who has a definite talent for capturing the spirit of those who were made to suffer in the midst of a revolution that was supposed to set them free. The title of her book comes from the propaganda film she was selected to star in and while she may have been free of the work farm this new role came with a new kind of heart ache and embarrassment as political machinations continued to wreak havoc.
    Min's other works have included Empress Orchid and The Last Empress, two historical fiction novels about the fabled Chinese Empress Tzu Hsi, also known as Empress Orchid whose life, like Min's is pretty extraordinary. Orchid goes from impoverished candidate in a field of hundreds who are auditioning to be selected for a spot as one of many of the Emperor's concubine to the fourth wife of the Emperor and mother of the "last emperor". Min's detail and description are as strong when writing about the Cultural Revolution as it is writing about the Opium Wars that plague China's royal power in its final waning days.Min tackles the life of Chairman Mao's wife in Becoming Madame Mao, a fictional book about Mao's wife's life that also covers her role as a creator of large scale propaganda infused musicals.

    Are you a fan of Anchee Min? 

    Here are some related books that you might like. . .

    Wednesday, July 21, 2010

    Books Turned Into Movies: Pillars of the Earth on Starz

    You may have remembered my unbridled enthusiasm when I heard that that Ken Follett's Pillars of the Earth was being turned into an eight hour miniseries for Starz starting, among others, Donald Sutherland and Ian McShane. The series is set to debut in the next couple of days but early reports of the series' quality have been less than glowing.

    Mo Ryan of the Chicago Tribune's "The Watcher" certainly didn't mince her words when she wrote that the series had "made Ian McShane (temporarily) uninteresting." Before reading too much into her critique of the series it is important to note that Ryan doesn't sound like much of a fan of the novel, a novel that has been a critical and popular success for more than twenty years. She writes that the characters are sometimes wooden, that readers may find that the book contains more than enough information about the building of a cathedral in the 13th century but concedes that the book "gets the job done". This last bit is the nicest thing she says about both the book and the movie.

    Ryan writes: "If you read "The Pillars of the Earth," don't expect a masterpiece, but you will get a reasonably decent yarn and you'll learn how and why these towering monuments to faith came to be built. If you watch the miniseries, you'll see precious raw materials wasted and shoddy construction everywhere you look. The fact that good scenes and character moments from the book are poorly executed or changed beyond recognition in the miniseries just adds insult to injury."

    Golden Globe winner Ian McShane as Waleran Bigod.
    Of the cast Ryan writres: "The cast looks positively stranded, almost off-balance, as if they were never allowed a chance to get their bearings and dig into their characterizations." The biggest crime, according the Ryan is the fact that Ian McShane as the devious Waleran Bigod. It is this critique that leaves me the most fearful of the quality of the series. McShane is magic in a bottle and if he's been rendered ineffective the series' hopes for success may be short-lived.

    To be completely fair, Ryan's is hardly alone in her feelings about the Pillars of the Earth series. Entertainment Weekly, among others, has commented that the series is perhaps too dense and fails to tie plots together.

    My hope is that if you've read the book and are a fan that there will be some redeeming qualities to be found. I enjoyed the book (although I found the sequel-esque World Without End to have followed the formula of the first novel far too closely) I have seen the sets and interviews with the actors who have touted the authenticity of the research and work that went into creating medieval England. As a fan of the novel I'll be tuning in this week looking for authenticity and any entertainment I can get - it has to be better than a night of America's Got Talent, right?

    Related Links:

    Loaded Questions: Pillars of the Earth Starts Filming! 
    Loaded Questions: Our Interview with Author Ken Follett for the release of World Without End


    Loaded Questions is back!

    Loaded Questions has been away for far too long! However, we would like to announce that we are back and better than ever with a new staff, exciting upcoming interviews and more literary news! Please feel free to post our return on your sites/blogs. Your support is greatly appreciated!

    What's on the horizon?

    Our third interview with the talented and hilarious Mary Roach author of previous best-sellers Stiff: The Curious Case of Human Cadavers, Spook: Science Tackles the Afterlife and Bonk: The Curious Coupling of Science and Sex.

    The interview comes on the heels of the release of Roach's fourth novel, Packing for Mars: The Curious Science of Life in the Void. The book's product description reads: Space is a world devoid of the things we need to live and thrive: air, gravity, hot showers, fresh produce, privacy, beer. Space exploration is in some ways an exploration of what it means to be human. How much can a person give up? How much weirdness can they take? What happens to you when you can’t walk for a year? have sex? smell flowers? What happens if you vomit in your helmet during a space walk? Is it possible for the human body to survive a bailout at 17,000 miles per hour? To answer these questions, space agencies set up all manner of quizzical and startlingly bizarre space simulations. As Mary Roach discovers, it’s possible to preview space without ever leaving Earth. From the space shuttle training toilet to a crash test of NASA’s new space capsule (cadaver filling in for astronaut), Roach takes us on a surreally entertaining trip into the science of life in space and space on Earth.

    I received my copy yesterday and am giddy at the prospect of tearing into it this evening. From the few glimpses I have taken so far I can say without hesitation that Packing for Mars: The Curious Science of Life in the Void represents Roach at her very best. Stay tuned for the interview. In the meantime you can read our first interview with Roach and the second for the release of Bonk. 

    We've also lined up an interview with David Nicholls author of the acclaimed novel One Day. The UK's The Guardian wrote that with his latest work Nicholls "has drawn on all his comic and literary gifts to produce a novel that is not only roaringly funny but also memorable, moving and, in its own unassuming, unpretentious way, rather profound." The book garnered author, whose previous books include Starter for Ten: A Novel, A Question of Attraction : A Novel and The Understudy: A Novel, rave reviews from The New York Times to Entertainment Weekly. I spoke to Nicholls recently, he's currently on the set of the movie adaptation of One Day staring Anne Hathaway. We are very much looking forward to sharing this interview with you.

    Are you enamored by books? Have an interest in conducting author interviews or writing book reviews? Loaded Questions has already added four new members to its staff but we are still looking for individuals who have an interest in the above activities. Joining our staff is a great way to have contact with your favorite authors and to get your hands on early book releases for you to write about and read. Contact us with you information and interests if you think you'd fit the bill.
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