Saturday, February 13, 2016

Book Blast: "The Vatican Princess" by C.W. Gortner

02_The Vatican PrincessThe Vatican Princess: A Novel of Lucrezia Borgia
by C.W. Gortner

Publication Date: February 9, 2016
Ballantine Books
Hardcover, Ebook, Audiobook
400 Pages

Genre: Historical Fiction

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Infamy is no accident. It is a poison in our blood. It is the price of being a Borgia.

Glamorous and predatory, the Borgias fascinated and terrorized 15th-century Renaissance Italy. Lucrezia Borgia, beloved daughter of the pope, was at the center of the dynasty’s ambitions. Slandered as a heartless seductress who lured men to their doom, was she in fact the villainess of legend, or was she trapped in a familial web, forced to choose between loyalty and survival?

With the ascension of the Spaniard Rodrigo Borgia as Pope Alexander VI, the new pope’s illegitimate children—his rival sons, Cesare and Juan, and beautiful young daughter Lucrezia—assume an exalted position in the papal court. Privileged and adored, Lucrezia yearns to escape her childhood and play a part in her family’s fortunes. But Rome is seductive and dangerous: Alliances shift at a moment’s notice as Italy’s ruling dynasties strive to keep rivals at bay. As Lucrezia’s father faces challenges from all sides, he’s obliged to marry her off to a powerful adversary. But when she discovers the brutal truth behind her alliance, Lucrezia is plunged into a perilous gambit that will require all her wits, cunning, and guile. Escaping her marriage offers the chance of happiness with a passionate prince of Naples, yet as scandalous accusations of murder and incest build against her, menacing those she loves, Lucrezia must risk everything to overcome the lethal fate imposed upon her by her Borgia blood.

Beautifully wrought, rich with fascinating historical detail, The Vatican Princess is the first novel to describe Lucrezia’s coming-of-age in her own voice—a dramatic, vivid tale set in an era of savagery and unparalleled splendor, where enemies and allies can be one and the same, and where loyalty to family can ultimately be a curse.



"Assiduously researched and expertly crafted . . . . This unholy plunge into Rome's darkest dynasty is wholly engrossing." - Allison Pataki, New York Times bestselling author

"A spider web of Renaissance intrigue with a legendary cast . . . Impressive research, a lush background, and deft characterization make for a fascinating read." - Margaret George, New York Times bestselling author

"Elegantly written and deeply researched . . . Renaissance Italy is vividly brought to life. I’m captivated by this knowledgeable author’s take on the controversial Borgias." - Alison Weir, NYT bestselling author

About the Author03_CW Gortner

C.W. GORTNER holds an MFA in Writing with an emphasis in Renaissance Studies from the New College of California, as well as an AA from the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising in San Francisco.

After an eleven year-long career in fashion, during which he worked as a vintage retail buyer, freelance publicist, and fashion show coordinator, C.W. devoted the next twelve years to the public health sector. In 2012, he became a full-time writer following the international success of his novels.

In his extensive travels to research his books, he has danced a galliard at Hampton Court, learned about organic gardening at Chenoceaux, and spent a chilly night in a ruined Spanish castle. His books have garnered widespread acclaim and been translated into twenty-one languages to date, with over 400,000 copies sold. A sought-after public speaker. C.W. has given keynote addresses at writer conferences in the US and abroad. He is also a dedicated advocate for animal rights, in particular companion animal rescue to reduce shelter overcrowding.

Half-Spanish by birth and raised in southern Spain, C.W. now lives in Northern California with his partner and two very spoiled rescue cats.

For more information visit C.W. Gortner’s website and blog. You can also find him on Facebook, Twittter, Goodreads, Pinterest, and YouTube. Sign up for C.W. Gortner’s Newsletter for updates.

Book Blast Schedule

Tuesday, February 9
Drey's Library
The Maiden's Court
CelticLady's Reviews

Wednesday, February 10
The Lit Bitch
The Never-Ending Book
A Dream within a Dream
What Is That Book About

Thursday, February 11
Laura's Interests
The Reader's Hollow
Flashlight Commentary

Friday, February 12
Let Them Read Books
To Read, Or Not to Read

Saturday, February 13
So Many Books, So Little Time
Eclectic Ramblings of Author Heather Osborne

Sunday, February 14
100 Pages a Day
With Her Nose Stuck In A Book

Monday, February 15
A Book Geek
A Bookish Affair
Puddletown Reviews

Tuesday, February 16
Just One More Chapter
Historical Fiction Obsession
Teddy Rose Book Reviews Plus More

Wednesday, February 17
Impressions In Ink
A Literary Vacation
The Country Bookworm

Thursday, February 18
The True Book Addict
Ageless Pages Reviews

Friday, February 19
Passages to the Past
Kristin Un-Ravelle'd
Book Lovers Paradise

Saturday, February 20
Beth's Book Nook Blog
One Book Shy of a Full Shelf

Sunday, February 21
Carpe Librum (Seize The Book)
Seize the Words: Books in Review

Monday, February 22
Broken Teepee
Book Drunkard
The Reading Queen

Tuesday, February 23
Teatime and Books
View from the Birdhouse
Historical Fiction Connection


To win a Borgia-Inspired Velvet Bag & Beaded Bracelet from C.W. Gortner please enter the giveaway via the GLEAM form below.


– Giveaway ends at 11:59pm EST on February 23rd. You must be 18 or older to enter.
– Giveaway is open to US residents only.
– 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.

The Vatican Princess Book Blast

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Friday, February 12, 2016

Review: "To Be a Queen" by Annie Whitehead

From Goodreads:  This is the true story of Aethelflaed, the 'Lady of the Mercians', daughter of Alfred the Great. She was the only female leader of an Anglo-Saxon kingdom. It is the tale of one family, two kingdoms and a common enemy. Born into the royal house of Wessex at the height of the Viking wars, she is sent to her aunt in Mercia as a foster-child, only to return home when the Vikings overrun Mercia. In Wessex, she witnesses another Viking attack and this compounds her fear of the enemy. She falls in love with a Mercian lord but is heartbroken to be given as bride to the ruler of Mercia to seal the alliance between the two Anglo-Saxon kingdoms. She must learn to subjugate her feelings for her first love, overcome her indifference to her husband and win the hearts of the Mercians who despise her as a foreigner, twice making an attempt on her life. When her husband falls ill and is incapacitated, she has to learn to rule and lead an army in his stead and when he subsequently dies, she must fight to save her adopted Mercia from the Vikings and, ultimately, her own brother.

My Thoughts:  I thoroughly enjoyed this book!  I really like to read about periods in history that I'm unfamiliar with and this book really piqued my interest.

To Be a Queen has so many good characters.  It's hard to choose a favorite!  Teasel, as Aethelflaed is called, is a fantastic main character.  I was so impressed with her intelligence, poise and inner strength.  She made the best of her arranged marriage and she and Ethelred build a relationship based on mutual respect and eventually love.  Theirs was an unexpected but beautiful love story.  Besides Teasel, I loved Frith.  His faithfulness to Teasel was so endearing.  I also liked how, despite the fact that he was more of a secondary character, he was still very well-developed. 

It was fascinating to read about the battles, politics and customs of the Saxons and Mercians and to see just how devastating the Viking raids were.  The author provides a great deal of historical detail and does a really good job of weaving it into the story.  As I said above, I know nothing about this period and hadn't even heard of Mercia until reading this book.  It was a really interesting period to read about and I have added it to my growing list of things to research more. 

The only complaint I had is that the book was a little slow to start but once I got into the story, I was hooked.  I would highly recommend To Be A Queen to any fan of historical fiction.  4 stars.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

January 2016 Wrap Up

Blech! I'm so glad that January is over.  The whole month always feels like a giant holiday hangover and it just felt especially crappy this year.  I didn't even touch the blog because I was so burned out on everything.

In this post, I'm going to combine my #ReadMyOwnDamnBooks and #FitReaders wrap up since I've been pretty bad about updating. 

In January, I read 5 books toward my goal of 52 for the year so according to goodreads I'm right on track. It felt really slow to me because usually I read so much more in any given month.  I had a hard time focusing on books plus I'm taking a class this semester so even though I'm reading whole books, I am reading a lot of articles and book excerpts.

Out of the 5 books I read this month, only 2 were books I own and 1 was a re-read so I didn't do that great with reading my own books.  I am currently reading a ebook I own (a move in the right direction!) but after I'm done with it, I really need to get started on physical books.  We are hoping to move this year and I want to clear off my shelves!

In January I read:

1.) Tricky Twenty Two by Janet Evanovich
2.) Sweet Talk by Julie Garwood
3.) The Romanov Sisters by Helen Rappaport
4.) The Bronze Horseman by Paullina Simons
5.) To Be a Queen by Annie Whitehead

My January stats were:

-5 books read
   -1 non-fiction
   -2 historical fiction
   -1 review books
   -2 library books
   -2 books I own
   -5 ebooks

Let me start off by saying, I had every intention of getting back on track with regard to food and exercise in January but I failed miserably.  I fell down our wooden stairs at the beginning of the month and injured my tailbone so the only exercise I got was walking (anything else was pretty painful).  I managed to walk at least 3 times a week for the whole month but that was really about it.  I also did horribly with my eating.  January is a stressful month at my work (classes starting and the problems that go with that) so I pretty much ate everything in sight.  The last time I weighed myself was December 12 and I managed to gain 4 lbs between then and now. (insert sad face here)

So I'm re-committing to my goals in February.  I'm tracking my food in MyFitnessPal and have already gotten in 3 workouts this week.  We are visiting my family in California in six weeks and then start swimming lessons with Julia two weeks after that so I really need to drop some weight.  I'm feeling very motivated and excited for my pants to fit again!

I hope everyone has a great February!

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Mailbox Monday (54)

Hey!  I'm linking up with Mailbox Monday this week!  It's been a while since I've posted one of these but I got some good books this week and felt like sharing.

I've been doing well at not buying books lately but yesterday was my birthday so I had to get a couple!

Purchased (for nook):

I own Tatiana and Alexander in paperback but it is the only of the trilogy that I don't have in ebook format...until now.

From the Library:

The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace by Jeff Hobbs - I'm very eager to read this one.

What books did you get this week?


Sunday, January 3, 2016

2016 Bookish Goals and a Giveaway!

Happy 2016 everybody!  I am really excited for this year and all that it has to offer.  I have a lot of goals (both bookish and not) for the year and I'm excited to start working on them!  I usually share all of my goals here on the blog but this year I'm just going to stick with the bookish ones (mainly because I have so many!).  I will share some of what I am working on this year in future posts but I don't want this post to be six miles long so I'm leaving it out.

1.) Read 52 books- Typically, I read much more than this however, I plan to focus on different kinds of books this year and I don't want a high goal to distract me or stress me out.  If I read more, great but if not, I think focusing on one book a week is great.

2.) Read more non-fiction-I did really well with this goal last year but this year, I want to read even more non-fiction.  I am shooting for about 40-50% of my books this year to be non-fiction.

3.) #ReadMyOwnDamnBooks- Andi at Estella's Revenge is hosting a challenge to read books on your shelves already.  I have always set out to do this each year and failed miserably.  A few weeks ago, I purged my shelves of anything unread that I knew I would never read as well as anything I just don't want anymore because my shelves are ridiculously full.  This year, I'm really going to put some effort into it.  I have approximately 110 books (both ebooks and physical books) that I own and have not read.  The plan is read mostly what I own with some library books thrown in.

4.) Cut back even more on review books-Review books are always exciting and tempting but they also stress me out A LOT.  I cut back pretty significantly last year and plan to even more this year.  I would really like to keep my review books to under 15% of my total books for the year so I will need to be super selective about what I pick.

5.) Participate more in #FitReaders-I started off strong with this last year and then it fell to the wayside.  I was exercising a lot but not participating or posting updates.  I really want to do more of that this year.

6.) Put more effort into the Blog-If I'm going to keep having this little place on the web, I need to start doing more with it.  Expect to see more personal posts as opposed to only reviews (or nothing).

Giveaway (US/Canada ONLY)!

I have a bunch of ARCs that I thoroughly enjoyed but no longer want cluttering my shelves.  I would love to share them with one lucky reader!  Enter using the rafflecopter below.  (This giveaway is only for US and Canada).

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Saturday, January 2, 2016

December Wrap Up and 2015 in Review

Happy New Year everyone!  I hope you have had a wonderful holiday season!  I am so looking forward to 2016 especially since 2015 was kind of a bummer in general (except with regards to reading!).

December was a crazy stressful month and as much as I love Christmas, I am so glad it's over.  I actually read more than I expected this month and even went over my increased goal of 100 and ended the year with 102 books read.  

In December, I read the following:

1.) Anything for You by Kristan Higgins
2.) Asking for It by Kate Harding
3.) Bellagrand by Paullina Simons
4. ) Missing Pieces by Heather Gudenkauf-
5.) Little Mercies by Heather Gudenkauf
6.) The Indifferent Stars Above by Daniel James Brown
7.) The Bride by Julie Garwood

My numbers for December:  
-7 books read
   -2 non-fiction
   -2 historical fiction
   -2 review books
   -4 library books
   -1 books I own
   -5 ebooks

As I said above, I am really happy with my reading this year.  I met most of my reading goals!

1.) Read 80 books-I managed to read 102 books this year.
2.) Read 20 books I own-Technically, I met this goal but a bunch of the books I read were rereads so it wasn't as helpful at clearing my shelves as I would have liked.
3.) Read more non-fiction books- In 2014, I only read 5 non-fiction books and I really wanted to do better in 2015.  I ended the year having read 16 non-fiction books which isn't too bad!
4.) Cut back on review books- My goal was to drop from 42% review books read in 2014 to 25% in 2015.  24.5% of the books I read in 2015 were review books so another goal met! It was nice not to have the pressure that comes with reading a lot of review books with a deadline looming.
5.) Post more than just reviews-I didn't really do this.  I actually slacked on the blog a lot this year.
6.) Decide what to do with the blog-I didn't do this either.  I am still not sure what to do with this old blog.

My numbers for 2015:
-102 books read
   -16 non-fiction
   -39 historical fiction
   -25 review books
   -50 library books
   -23 books I own
   -51 ebooks
   -10 rereads

I'm excited to share my goals for 2016 with everyone.  Check back next week for that post!

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Book Blast: "The Edge of Lost" by Kristina McMorris

02_The Edge of LostThe Edge of Lost
by Kristina McMorris

Publication Date: November 24, 2015
Kensington Books
Trade Paperback, 340 pages

Genre: Historical Fiction

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From New York Times bestselling author Kristina McMorris comes an ambitious and heartrending story of immigrants, deception, and second chances.

On a cold night in October 1937, searchlights cut through the darkness around Alcatraz. A prison guard’s only daughter—one of the youngest civilians who lives on the island—has gone missing. Tending the warden’s greenhouse, convicted bank robber Tommy Capello waits anxiously. Only he knows the truth about the little girl’s whereabouts, and that both of their lives depend on the search’s outcome.

Almost two decades earlier and thousands of miles away, a young boy named Shanley Keagan ekes out a living as an aspiring vaudevillian in Dublin pubs. Talented and shrewd, Shan dreams of shedding his dingy existence and finding his real father in America. The chance finally comes to cross the Atlantic, but when tragedy strikes, Shan must summon all his ingenuity to forge a new life in a volatile and foreign world.

Skillfully weaving these two stories, Kristina McMorris delivers a compelling novel that moves from Ireland to New York to San Francisco Bay. As her finely crafted characters discover the true nature of loyalty, sacrifice, and betrayal, they are forced to confront the lies we tell—and believe—in order to survive.


Advance Praise

“Kristina McMorris evokes such a strong sense of place that to open her books feels less like reading and more like traveling. Her absorbing new novel..[is an] epic, deeply felt tale of struggle and second chances… a transporting piece of historical fiction.” — BookPage

“McMorris’ gripping immigrant saga sweeps from Dublin to New York, through Prohibition and vaudeville, from New York to San Francisco and Alcatraz. It is a young man’s battle with hardship and tragedy, but it is also a portrait of America during a turbulent time and a quest that ends in triumph. Readers will be caught up in this well-told story.” — RT Book Reviews, 4 Stars

“Compelling, resonant and deeply moving, The Edge of Lost is an absorbing tale of deceit and self-deception, survival and second chances, the ties that bind and the lure of the unknown.” — Christina Baker Kline, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Orphan Train

“The story will grab your heart on page one and won’t let go until the end—and if you’re like me, not even then. I absolutely love this book, and so will you.” — Sara Gruen, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Water for Elephants

“A beautifully told story about a young man’s journey through adversity and loss with an exhilarating ending that I couldn’t put down and stayed up well past my bedtime to finish.” — Charles Belfoure, New York Times bestselling author of The Paris Architect

“In The Edge of Lost Kristina McMorris takes us on a thrilling ride . . . I found myself thoroughly immersed in her richly evocative settings, just as I was captivated by the pure humanity of her characters as they struggled for redemption. This book is a wonderful read!” — David R. Gillham, New York Times bestselling author of City of Women

“The Edge of Lost takes readers on an enthralling journey . . . right up to a tense, edge-of-your-seat ending that left me breathless. An absorbing, addictive read.” — Beatriz Williams, New York Times bestselling author of The Secret Life of Violet Grant

“With prose as lyrical as the music woven through its narrative, and boasting impeccably observed historical details, The Edge of Lost is a thoroughly mesmerizing novel. I adore everything that Kristina McMorris writes and this book is no exception.” — Jennifer Robson, international bestselling author of Somewhere in France

About the Author03_Kristina McMorris

Kristina McMorris is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author and the recipient of more than twenty national literary awards, as well as a nomination for the IMPAC Dublin Literary Award, RWA’s RITA® Award, and a Goodreads Choice Award for Best Historical Fiction. Inspired by true personal and historical accounts, her works of fiction have been published by Kensington Books, Penguin Random House, and HarperCollins. The Edge of Lost is her fourth novel, following the widely praised Letters from Home, Bridge of Scarlet Leaves, and The Pieces We Keep, in addition to her novellas in the anthologies A Winter Wonderland and Grand Central.

Prior to her writing career, Kristina hosted weekly TV shows since age nine, including an Emmy® Award-winning program, and has been named one of Portland's "40 Under 40" by The Business Journal. She lives with her husband and two sons in Oregon, where she is working on her next novel. For more, visit You can also follow Kristina on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.

Book Blast Schedule

Monday, December 14
The Maiden's Court
Passages to the Past

Tuesday, December 15
A Literary Vacation
CelticLady's Reviews
What Is That Book About

Wednesday, December 16
Reading Is My SuperPower
Svetlana's Reads and Views

Thursday, December 17
A Book Geek
With Her Nose Stuck In A Book

Friday, December 18
The Lit Bitch
The Reading Queen

Saturday, December 19
Book Nerd
Beth's Book Nook Blog
So Many Books, So Little Time

Sunday, December 20
Let Them Read Books
Eclectic Ramblings of Author Heather Osborne

Monday, December 21
Boom Baby Reviews


To win a signed copy of The Edge of Lost by Kristina McMorris please enter the giveaway via the GLEAM form below.


– Giveaway starts at 12:01am EST on December 14th and ends at 11:59pm EST on December 21st. You must be 18 or older to enter.
– Giveaway is open to residents in the US and Canada ONLY.
– 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.

The Edge of Lost Book Blast Giveaway

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