Friday, November 4, 2016

October 2016 Wrap Up

 Phew!  I am so glad that October is over.  Halloween was fun but the rest of the month was just plain rough.  Work was crazy busy and I just kind of got into a reading rut.  The majority of the books I read were finished in the last week because I just didn't have it in me to read.  A lot of what I read this month was pure fluff and I don't see that changing for the rest of the year.  I think I'm going to actively try to read as many Christmasy romance novels as I can because I just don't have the brain capacity for anything too deep right now.

I am on track to meeting my new goal of 80 books for the year so I'm pretty happy about that.  I am not doing a great job of reading books I own but I did still manage to read two non-fiction books in October.  Even thought I've read fewer books total than last year, I've already surpassed the number of non-fiction books I last year.  I really wanted to try to focus more on non-fiction books this year and as of right now, almost 25% of my books this year have been non-fiction.  That's not too shabby.

I've been pretty terrible at keeping up with the blog over the past two months so I'm hoping to post more often.  I would like to shoot for at least once a week but hopefully more than that. 

Here's what I read in October:

1.) Hungry Heart by Jennifer Weiner
2.) A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas - 5 stars
3.) Crumpets and Cowpies by Shanna Hatfield - 4 stars
4.) Becoming Queen Victoria by Kate Williams - 3 stars
5.) Thimbles and Thistles by Shanna Hatfield - 4 stars
6.) Christmas in Mustang Creek by Linda Lael Miller - 3 stars
7.) Property of a Noblewoman by Danielle Steele - 3 stars

My stats for the month:

-7 books read
   -2 non-fiction
   -2 historical fiction
   -1 review book
   -3 library books

   -3 books I own
   -5 ebooks

I hope November is off to a great start for you!

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Cover Reveal: "The Competition" by Donna Russo Morin

COVER REVEAL!


THE COMPETITION: Da Vinci’s Disciples Book Two!


Ready (willing and eager) to see the cover of the much-anticipated second book in the Da Vinci’s Disciples trilogy? Well, we hope so, because here it is (be sure to read to the end of the post for an extra special bonus!).

But before we get to the gorgeous cover, here’s what the author has to say about the next book in this thrilling trilogy and its cover:

“I knew I wanted the second book in this trilogy to be a little more personal, get into the lives of these courageous women, and da Vinci himself, a bit more deeply. Oh, they are still daring to go where women had never gone before in the Renaissance, and they put everything on the line for the love of their art—their marriages, their family relationships, even their lives—to do it, to bring their work out into the open, no matter the consequence. Another form of art is explored through their eyes, through their hands. But in THE COMPETITION, I’ve pulled back more of the layers of their lives and the secrets they may hold. Love bursts to fulfillment, desire is ignited, disastrous illnesses change lives, and familial condemnations are shattered. All set amidst the glory that is Florence during the Renaissance.

These women are bold; there can be no doubt. But they are elegant women and this cover, like the first, captures that elegance to perfection. It is the seamless companion to the first, and they look dazzling together.”

Ready to see the cover? Not just yet. Here’s the official description first:

A commission to paint a fresco in the church of Santo Spirito is about to be announced and Florence’s countless artists each seek the fame and glory this lucrative contract will provide. Viviana, a noblewoman freed from a terrible marriage, and now able to pursue her artistic passions, sees a potential life-altering opportunity for herself and her fellow artists. The women first speak to Lorenzo de’ Medici himself, and finally, they submit a bid for the right to paint it. And they win. The very public commission belongs to them.

But with the victory comes a powerful cost. The church will not stand for women painting, especially not in a house of worship. The city is not ready to consider women in positions of power, and in Florence, artists wield tremendous power. Even the women themselves are hesitant; the attention they will bring up) on themselves will disrupt their families, and even put them in physical danger.

All the while, Viviana grows closer to Sansone, her soldier lover, who is bringing to her a joy that she never knew with her deceased husband. And fellow-artist Isabetta has a flame reignited, sparked by Lorenzo himself.

Power and passion collide in this sumptuous historical novel of shattering limitations, one brushstroke at a time.

THE COMPETITION: Da Vinci’s Disciples Book Two goes on sale April 25, 2017. Pre-order a copy here.

Add it to your Goodreads shelf!

Now, are you ready to see the cover?

Really?

Are you sure?

Here it is!

02_the-competition


Do you love it?!

Haven’t read the first book yet? Now’s your chance at a special reduced price.

For the next SEVEN days (beginning November 2 until November 9!), the Kindle version of PORTRAIT OF A CONSPIRACY IS ONLY $.99…that’s a $7 savings!

Get your copy now!

Read the first critically acclaimed book, fall in love with these daring women, and get ready to fight beside them for the right to be who they truly want to be in THE COMPETITION.

“Russo Morin’s elegant command of language and composition left me breathless, but the story itself, with its flawless depiction of power, corruption, defiance, intrigue, and retribution makes Portrait of a Conspiracy an absolute must read.” Flashlight Commentary

“...a page-turner unlike any historical novel, weaving passion, adventure, artistic rebirth, and consequences of ambition...a masterful writer at the peak of her craft.”—C. W. Gortner, author of THE CONFESSIONS OF CATHERINE DE’ MEDICI

“This riveting book is filled with art, assassinations, retribution, and a sisterhood of fascinating women who inspire as well as entertain.”—Stephanie Dray, NYT Bestselling author of AMERICA’S FIRST DAUGHTER

“In PORTRAIT OF A CONSPIRACY, Russo Morin's prose is as sharp as a Medici dagger...Thwarting danger, finding love, and creating masterpieces, [these women] remind us just how powerful the bonds of womanhood can be.”—Marci Jefferson, author of THE ENCHANTRESS OF PARIS

“A 15th-century Florence of exquisite art, sensual passion and sudden, remorseless violence comes vividly to life in Donna Russo Morin's new novel.”—Nancy Bilyeau, author of THE CROWN

“In PORTRAIT OF A CONSPIRACY, Russo Morin's rich detailing transports the reader to the heart of Renaissance Italy from the first page.”—Heather Webb, author of BECOMING JOSEPHINE

“Illicit plots, mysterious paintings, and a young Leonardo da Vinci all have their part to play in this delicious, heart-pounding tale.”—Kate Quinn, author of THE EMPRESS OF ROME SAGA

About the Author03_donna-russo-morin


Donna Russo Morin is the award winning of author of historical fiction. A graduate of the University of Rhode Island, she lives near the shore with her two sons, Devon and Dylan, her greatest works in progress.

Donna enjoys meeting with book groups in person and via Skype chat. Visit her website at www.donnarussomorin.com; friend her on Facebook and follow her on Twitter @DonnaRussoMorin.

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Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Review: "Duty to the Crown" by Aimie K. Runyan



From Goodreads:  In 1667, an invisible wall separates settlers in New France from their Huron neighbors. Yet whether in the fledgling city of Quebec or within one of the native tribes, every woman’s fate depends on the man she chooses—or is obligated—to marry.

Although Claudine Deschamps and Gabrielle Giroux both live within the settlement, their prospects are very different. French-born Claudine has followed her older sister across the Atlantic hoping to attract a wealthy husband through her beauty and connections. Gabrielle, orphan daughter of the town drunkard, is forced into a loveless union by a cruel law that requires her to marry by her sixteenth birthday. And Manon Lefebvre, born in the Huron village and later adopted by settlers, has faced the prejudices of both societies and is convinced she can no longer be accepted in either. Drawn into unexpected friendship through their loves, losses, and dreams of home and family, all three women will have to call on their bravery and resilience to succeed in this new world…
  

My Thoughts:  Duty to the Crown is such a great sequel.  I loved the first book and was eager to read more about the amazing characters.  Duty to the Crown did not disappoint and I was sucked back in almost immediately.

There are a lot of highs and lows in this book.  At times it felt like an emotional rollercoaster but I really appreciated the fact that the author kept the story real.  She didn't sugar coat anything and events that transpired were in line with what the reality of that time.  There were sad moments but when I sat back and thought about them, I remembered that those kinds of events happened all the time in that era and I like that the author kept the story more historically 'real'. (Sorry for being vague, I don't want to give anything away!).

The characters still continue to be great.  I loved watching the girls grow into smart, strong young women.   Gabrielle experienced some hard times but I enjoyed seeing her strength as she dealt with so much adversity.  I think Claudine became one of my favorites in this book.  I really didn't like her in the beginning but she changed so much throughout the course of the story and she became such a fascinating character.  

This book also showed a little of the legalities of life in the Canadian colony and I found the court proceedings detailed in the story as well as some of the laws pertaining to women and marriage to be really interesting.  The laws didn't work out much in the favor of women but I always find it interesting to read about the status of women in different time periods.

Duty to the Crown is another great story from Aimie K. Runyan.  If you haven't read any of the 'Daughters of New France' books, I would highly recommend them!  4 stars.

I received this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Review: "Hungry Heart" by Jennifer Weiner



From Goodreads:  Jennifer Weiner is many things: a #1 New York Times bestselling author, a Twitter phenomenon, and “an unlikely feminist enforcer” (The New Yorker). She’s also a mom, a daughter, and a sister; a former rower and current cyclist; a best friend and a reality TV junkie. In her first foray into nonfiction, she takes the raw stuff of her personal life and spins into a collection of essays on modern womanhood as uproariously funny and moving as the best of Tina Fey, Fran Lebowitz, and Nora Ephron.

Jennifer grew up as an outsider in her picturesque Connecticut hometown (“a Lane Bryant outtake in an Abercrombie & Fitch photo shoot”) and at her Ivy League college, but finally found her people in newsrooms in central Pennsylvania and Philadelphia, and her voice as a novelist, activist, and New York Times columnist.

No subject is off-limits in this intimate and honest essay collection: sex, weight, envy, money, her mom’s newfound lesbianism, and her estranged father’s death. From lonely adolescence to modern childbirth to hearing her six-year-old daughter’s use of the f-word—fat­­—for the first time, Jennifer Weiner goes there, with the wit and candor that have endeared her to readers all over the world.

By turns hilarious and deeply touching, this collection shows that the woman behind treasured novels like Good in Bed and Best Friends Forever is every bit as winning, smart, and honest in real life as she is in her fiction.


My Thoughts:  I fell in love with Jennifer Weiner's books when I read Good in Bed in college. Since then, I have read quite of few of her books and I feel like her books always speak to me.  She writes about topics I can relate to and I think that's why I enjoy her books so much.  
 
This memoir, like her novels, spoke to me in ways that I can't even describe.  I know it's her life story but there were so many parts of the book that felt so familiar to me.  I was an awkward, bookish kid from a dysfunctional family and reading the stories of her childhood made me feel more normal. I especially loved her descriptions of the difficult children in her family, they reminded me very much of my own little girl and cracked me up.  Everything she wrote about motherhood was spot on!  I also enjoyed her discussion of  books and reading and how they impacted her life; as someone who has always been an avid reader, her stories really hit home for me.

 Hungry Heart is an incredibly funny book and I found myself laughing out loud multiple times (which is kind of embarrassing when you're in the middle of an airport).  But it was also really poignant to read about her father, his issues, and how she and her family dealt with that.  I was impressed with her strength and ability to overcome the situation with her father.

Overall, I really, really loved this book.  I was impressed with Ms. Weiner's activism, ties to her family and how goal oriented she is.  Honestly, after reading this book, I personally see her as a role model for women everywhere.  I am so glad I read this book and I would highly recommend it to anyone (even you haven't read Ms. Weiner's works of fiction).  4 1/2 stars.

I received this book in exchange for an honest review.


 

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

September 2016 Wrap Up

It's fall and the holiday season is fast approaching!  I am so excited as the next few months are my favorite time of the year!  My daughter and I read a bunch of Halloween books yesterday, did a Halloween craft and we watched Halloweentown this morning.  I love the holidays! I've also already started listening to Christmas music (don't judge!). : )

September felt like a slow reading month but I still managed to read 9 books this month so I can't really complain.  Since I already met my goal of 52 books for the year, I decided to bump it up to 80.  I only have to read 6 books a month for the rest of the year to hit that goal so I think it's doable.  I haven't been super excited about most of the books I'm reading and I'm hoping that will change soon.  I'm really close to beating my non-fiction numbers from last year and I'm so happy about it!  I'll have to back and see what my non-fiction goal was for the year but I'm pretty happy with where I'm at.

Here are my reading stats for September:

-9 books read
   -3 non-fiction
   -2 historical fiction
   -1 review book
   -6 library books
   -2 books I own
   -5 ebooks

What I read in September:

1.) Dreamers by Eileen Truax - 4 stars
2.) Finding Rebecca by Eoin Dempsey - 3 stars
3.) My Grandfather Would Have Shot Me by Jennifer Teege - 3 stars
4.) Days of Sun and Glory by Anna Belfrage 
5.) The Marriage Pact by Linda Lael Miller - 3 stars
6.) Crown of Midnight by Sarah J. Maas - 4 stars
7.) The Marriage Charm by Linda Lael Miller - 3 stars
8.) The Marriage Season by Linda Lael Miller - 3 stars
9.) Higher Education in the Digital Age by William Bown
I hope you all have a great week!

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Mailbox Monday (66)

I haven't done a Mailbox Monday post in a while and since I got a ton of books this week, I decided to go ahead and put one up.  It's been such a relaxing weekend and today is my 6 year wedding anniversary so it's been a good few days!

My local library had their big fall sale this week; I had two coupons for free books and decided to stop by.  I meant to only get two books and wound up getting 10 books and visiting on two different days.  They had an amazing selection of non-fiction books this time and all of the books I got are practically brand new so I couldn't resist the price! 

For Review:



From the Library:

 

Purchased:



My Life by Bill Clinton

What books did you get this week?

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Review and Giveaway: "Days of Sun & Glory" by Anna Belfrage


Synopsis: Adam de Guirande has barely survived the aftermath of Roger Mortimer’s rebellion in 1321. When Mortimer manages to escape the Tower and flee to France, anyone who has ever served Mortimer becomes a potential traitor – at least in the eyes of King Edward II and his royal chancellor, Hugh Despenser. Adam must conduct a careful balancing act to keep himself and his family alive. Fortunately, he has two formidable allies: Queen Isabella and his wife, Kit. England late in 1323 is a place afflicted by fear. Now that the king’s greatest traitor, Roger Mortimer, has managed to evade royal justice, the king and his beloved Despenser see dissidents and rebels everywhere – among Mortimer’s former men, but also in the queen, Isabella of France.

Their suspicions are not unfounded. Tired of being relegated to the background by the king’s grasping favourite, Isabella has decided it is time to act – to safeguard her own position, but also that of her son, Edward of Windsor. As Adam de Guirande has pledged himself to Prince Edward he is automatically drawn into the queen’s plans – whether he likes it or not.

Yet again, Kit and Adam are forced to take part in a complicated game of intrigue and politics. Yet again, they risk their lives – and that of those they hold dear – as the king and Mortimer face off. Once again, England is plunged into war – and this time it will not end until either Despenser or Mortimer is dead.
Days of Sun and Glory is the second in Anna Belfrage’s series, The King’s Greatest Enemy, the story of a man torn apart by his loyalties to his lord, his king, and his wife.

 My Thoughts: I am so happy to be have Kit and Adam back in my life!  It feels like it's been forever since the last book came out.  This is the 10th book I've read by Anna Belfrage and once again it's a winner!

I enjoyed watching Kit and Adam grow into their marriage and create a really solid partnership.  There are a lot of highs and lows for them in the story but at the end of the day, they were always still there for each other.  I love the little family they've created, not just with their children but with their retainers and extended family members.  I also love their stubborn personalities; it's hilarious to watch them butt heads with each other.

I know I've said this before but Ms. Belfrage creates some nasty villains.  Despenser...UGH.  Could someone be anymore vile?  He was such a despicable character and I just kind of loved to hate him.  I did almost feel bad for him in the end but probably not as much as I should have.

There were a lot of political machinations going on in this book; people conspiring with and against each other seem to serve as a foreshadowing of events to come.  I think Ms. Belfrage did a really good job of laying the groundwork for what will probably in future books.  I know a bit about the historical events but I'm eager to see how Kit and Adam will fit in and what will happen to them and their family.

Days of Sun and Glory is the continuation of a really good story with great characters but what really stood out to me with this particular book is the attention to historical detail.  It was very clear that Ms. Belfrage has done quite a bit of research for this book and I think it made for a very rich tale.  I am eagerly awaiting the next installment in the series!  4 stars.

About the Author:

Had Anna been allowed to choose, she’d have become a professional time-traveller. As such a profession does as yet not exists, she settled for second best and became a financial professional with two absorbing interests, namely history and writing. These days, Anna combines an exciting day-job with a large family and her writing endeavours.

When Anna fell in love with her future husband, she got Scotland as an extra, not because her husband is Scottish or has a predilection for kilts, but because his family fled Scotland due to religious persecution in the 17th century – and were related to the Stuarts. For a history buff like Anna, these little details made Future Husband all the more desirable, and sparked a permanent interest in the Scottish Covenanters, which is how Matthew Graham, protagonist of the acclaimed The Graham Saga, began to take shape.

Set in 17th century Scotland and Virginia/Maryland, the series tells the story of Matthew and Alex, two people who should never have met – not when she was born three hundred years after him. With this heady blend of romance, adventure, high drama and historical accuracy, Anna hopes to entertain and captivate, and is more than thrilled when readers tell her just how much they love her books and her characters.

Presently, Anna is hard at work with her next project, a series set in the 1320s featuring Adam de Guirande, his wife Kit, and their adventures and misfortunes in connection with Roger Mortimer’s rise to power. The King’s Greatest Enemy is a series where passion and drama play out against a complex political situation, where today’s traitor may be tomorrow’s hero, and the Wheel of Life never stops rolling.

The first installment in the Adam and Kit story, In the Shadow of the Storm, was published in 2015. The second book, Days of Sun and Glory, will be published in July 2016.

Other than on her website, www.annabelfrage.com, Anna can mostly be found on her blog, http://annabelfrage.wordpress.com – unless, of course, she is submerged in writing her next novel. You can also connect with Anna on Facebook, Twitter and Goodreads.

Giveaway

To win a copy of Days of Sun & Glory by Anna Belfrage, please enter via the Gleam form below.
Rules
– Giveaway ends at 11:59pm EST on September 29th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
– Giveaway is open INTERNATIONALLY.
– Only one entry per household.
– All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspect of fraud is decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion
– Winner has 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.
 
 Enter HERE.

I received this book from HFVBT and the author in exchange for an honest review.
 
 
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