Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Mini Reviews (10)


 

I feel bad for saying this, but this book didn't really do anything for me.  I know a lot of people raved about it and had so many emotions about it but I just didn't get it.  It was very slow and hard to get into and I guess I just wasn't overwhelmed by the big event.  It wasn't a bad book and I really enjoyed a lot of the interrogation scenes (not because I enjoy that but because they were well-written and the dialogue was interesting).   I really wanted to love this book but I just didn't.  3 stars.

 

I loved the Wolves of Mercy Falls books so I had to read this book.  It's all about Cole and Isabel and it was  really good.  Cole is a fascinating character; he's a total smart-ass but also a very sensitive soul.  I enjoyed getting to know him more and watching him deal with his demons.  He is a very unpredictable character so there were a lot of situations where I felt like I was holding my breath out of fear that he would screw something up.  The romance between Cole and Isabel is dreamy and the story had me hooked from page 1.  Did I mention that the ending rocks?  Because it does.  Definitely a must-read fro any fan of the series. 4 stars.
 

I am fascinated by the story of the Titanic (embarrassingly enough, I saw the movie 7 times in the theater).  This book moves between past and 'present' (1980s) and follows a young Irish immigrant girl in 1912 and her granddaughter in the 1980s and is kind of a coming of age story for both characters.  The story is absolutely beautiful and heart-breaking.  The author created a wonderful story by combining fictional characters with historical figures who really were on Titanic.   I highly recommend this book.  4 stars.




Let me start by saying that I love Tana French so I was really excited to read this book.  However, I was a little disappointed by this book.  It was very slow to get started and even when the story started moving it was just not super exciting.  I didn't hate it but I really struggled to push through it. It was an interesting premise and I think that Ms. French did a great job of portraying the complexities of teenage girls so it wasn't a total wash.  That being said, if you haven't read any of Ms. French's books, don't start with this one. 3 stars.
 

 
Margaret Pole is such an interesting historical figure with such a complicated life.  Ms. Gregory did an excellent job of covering Margaret's life from the time of her brother's death until her own death.  However, this book was really long and at times seemed to drag on.  Even though I enjoyed reading this book, it seemed like I was reading it forever.  I stuck with it because I really wanted to finish the series and overall, it was a decent read. 3 stars.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Mailbox Monday (37) Kid's Edition!

I'm back and linking up with Mailbox Monday again!  Work and life have been insane lately so it's been a few weeks since I have posted.  The past week has been filled with work related stress and a sick baby so Christmas wasn't anywhere near as fun as I had hoped.  

I didn't get any books for Christmas but I did get some gift cards that I will be using to buy books so I will post those in the next few weeks.  I decided to make my Mailbox Monday a kid's edition because Julia got a ton of books for Christmas and I thought it would be fun to showcase them!


Frankenstein: A BabyLit Anatomy Primer - If you haven't seen these BabyLit books, you should check them out.  They take Classics and turn them into fun education board books for little ones.

The Bearnstein Bear's Bear Family Treasury-I couldn't find a link to this one but it is a compilation of 8 Berenstain Bear's books.  I loved these books when I was a kid so I'm excited to read these to Julia.

Going West (My First Little House)- I had never heard of the 'My First Little House' books until a friend of mine gave me one for Julia.  They take some of the stories from the Little House books and turn them into short, illustrated children's books.  They're really neat!

Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day - This is one of my childhood favorites.  My mom read it to my brother and I when we were kids and I have great memories of listening to her read it.

Julia's House for Lost Creatures- I have never heard of this book before but my brother and his family gave it to Julia and just from flipping through it, it looks like a fun read.  Plus, the main character is named Julia!

A Wolf's Tale - This is another one I haven't heard of before but it's another version of the Three Little Pigs and looks really cute.
Little Blue Truck Leads the Way and Little Blue Truck's Christmas - We have the first Little Blue Truck book and love it so I can't wait to read these two!


My online book/mom group had a Christmas book exchange and Julia got the books above.  The Christmas in the Big Woods book is another of the 'My First Little House' books.  She also got Moo, Baa, La La La! by Sandra Boynton; her books are awesome and I recommend them to anyone with a little one at home.  The final book she got was Anna Karenina: A BabyLit Fashion Primer.  This book is absolutely gorgeous.  The drawings are exquisite and I love it even if Julia doesn't get it.

So there you have it!  Julia hit the mother load for Christmas in both books and toys.  Hope you all had a happy holiday!  Leave a link in the comments so I can check out your book haul!

(All links are to amazon.com but I am no way affiliated with amazon.  I just wanted to be able to show more information about the books.)

Monday, December 15, 2014

New Release!: "Feel" by Karen-Anne Stewart

01_Feel CoverPublication Date: December 15, 2014 | eBook, Paperback | ISBN-10: 1502757745

Genre: New Adult, Paranormal Romance

Add to GR ButtonThe one whose emotions I can't feel is the one who makes me feel the most.

I was a sensitive, at least that's what I was told by the boy who saved me from the overwhelming emotions that consumed my soul, the boy who saved me from myself when my gift became stronger. Through the years, he was my redemption, my reason to take my next breath...then, he was gone.

Jensen always told me I was strong, but I didn't believe him until I was forced to be strong on my own, and I kept breathing without him. I've taken 42 million breaths since the moment he sent me away. Now, four years later, he's standing in front of me, and I can barely breathe.

This isn't just a story about the abilities I possess; it's a story about something much stronger...the love of the man who possesses every part of me.

***Disclaimer - Feel is intended for readers 18+ due to strong language, mature scenes, and some violence.

FeelquoteKISS


Watch the Book Trailer


[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SoWsYWu9jik?rel=0]


Praise for Karen-Anne Stewart


"Karen-Anne Stewart’s writing always captivates me from the word go….Every character, even the secondary characters are so well developed, that they become so much more to me than characters in a story, and instead feel like long-lost friends. It is the sign of a really good author that they can invoke this feeling in their readers, and Karen-Anne Stewart never fails to deliver." Sorcha O’Dowd – Old Victorian Quill

"Karen-Anne Stewart writes with grit. There is a boldness to her style that cuts through the social niceties with hardcore dialogue, brutal physical violence and sizzling passion. Ms. Stewart will sucker punch you with scenes that will make you cringe, melt your heart and frustrate the heck out of you, all within a few pages. She colors her main characters in vivid tones…each supporting character gets their own unique shade and together the effect is a kaleidoscope of colors. The world she has invented is often dark, sometimes frightening, but always memorable as she reveals each nugget of detail with precision, notching up the tension, heat and emotion. If this author can think it, she can write it, so expect to be taken completely out of your world and to walk on the wild side in hers." Dianne – Tome Tender

"Ms. Stewart develops top-notch bestseller list quality work! NO JOKE! The way that she can weave words together easily sucks you right into the story." Jamie Roberts – Reading, Eating, and Dreaming


Buy the Book




About the Author


03_Karen-Anne StewartAuthor of New Adult Romance who doesn't shy away from writing about sensitive issues and hot heroes.

Karen-Anne Stewart has always adored reading and has now fallen in love with writing. Her written works are The Rain Trilogy: Saving Rain, Healing Rain, and After the Rain, and the newly released stand alone novel, Ash to Steele. Her debut novel, Saving Rain: The First Novel in The Rain Trilogy, was a nominee for the Book Junkie’s Choice Awards, and Saving Rain and After the Rain were nominees for the 2014 RONE Awards.

When Karen-Anne isn’t writing, she enjoys spending time with her family and friends, hiking, and visiting new places. She fuels her addiction of creating new stories by her only other addiction, caffeine, and listening to a myriad of musical genres. Tucked away near the Blue Ridge Mountains, Karen-Anne lives with her husband, daughter, three dogs, and their cat. She plans on writing new adult romance as long as her fingers maintain dexterity.


Author Links




Feel Release Day Blitz Hosts


The Lit Bitch
Pure Textuality
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Susan Heim on Writing
You Gotta Read Reviews
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Giveaway


To enter to win an autographed copy of Feel by Karen-Anne Stewart & a $15 Amazon or Barnes & Noble Gift Card, please enter the giveaway HERE.


Rules


– Giveaway ends at 11:59pm on December 19th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
– Giveaway is open to residents of the US 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 have 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.

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Monday, December 8, 2014

Review: "Whither Thou Goest" by Anna Belfrage

Synopsis: 
Whither Thou Goest is the seventh book in Anna Belfrage’s series featuring time traveller Alexandra Lind and her seventeenth century husband, Matthew Graham.

In their rural home in the Colony of Maryland, Matthew and Alex Graham are still recovering from the awful events of the previous years when Luke Graham, Matthew’s estranged brother, asks them for a favour.

Alex has no problems whatsoever ignoring Luke’s sad plea for help. In her opinion Matthew’s brother is an evil excuse of a man who deserves whatever nasty stuff fate throws at him. Except, as Matthew points out, Luke is begging them to save his son – his misled Charlie, one of the Monmouth rebels – and can Charlie Graham be held responsible for his father’s ill deeds?

So off they go on yet another adventure, this time to the West Indies to find a young man neither of them knows but who faces imminent death on a sugar plantation, condemned to slavery for treason. The journey is hazardous and along the way Alex comes face to face with a most disturbing ghost from her previous life, a man she would much have preferred never to have met.

Time is running out for Charlie Graham, Matthew is haunted by reawakened memories of his days as an indentured servant, and then there’s the eerie Mr Brown, Charlie’s new owner, who will do anything to keep his secrets safe, anything at all.

Will Matthew deliver his nephew from imminent death? And will they ever make it back home?

My Thoughts:   Even after seven books, Anna Belfrage does not disappoint!  Whither Thou Goest is the latest book in the Graham Saga and follows Alex and Matthew on new adventures.

It's hard to believe that Alex and Matthew are getting older because they still seem as energetic as they did from day one.  Belfrage does a wonderful job of showing how much they still love each other and has created this ideal couple out of Alex and Matthew.  I love how they still face every hurdle head on and together and that no matter where they go, mischief seems to find them.

There was a lot going on in this book but the story definitely had a slower pace to it.  I appreciated that this book wasn't super action packed because after the last book, I think the characters (and the reader) needed a break!  Don't get me wrong, there was action in this book but it was just on a much smaller scale.  The reader got to know some of Graham children better; Sarah and David both moved to the forefront of this story and it was fun to watch them develop as characters.

Oh boy, can Belfrage write some villains.  Angel Munoz was about as evil as they come and Sassafras Brown was super creepy.  They aren't the Burleys, but they were both pretty bad.  I'm curious about the Angel past/future connection and look forward to seeing if there is more about that in the next book.  In fact, I really look forward to the next book in general.  This book did a great job of getting things ready for the last book; I'm so excited to see how things turn out and can't wait to see if all of my questions will be answered.

Overall, Whither Thou Goest is another hit.  Like I always say in these reviews, if you haven't read the series, go do it!  I can't stress enough how much I love everything about it.  4 stars.

About the Author:
I was raised abroad, on a pungent mix of Latin American culture, English history and Swedish traditions. As a result I’m multilingual and most of my reading is historical – both non-fiction and fiction.

I was always going to be a writer – or a historian, preferably both. Instead I ended up with a degree in Business and Finance, with very little time to spare for my most favourite pursuit. Still, one does as one must, and in between juggling a challenging career I raised my four children on a potent combination of invented stories, historical debates and masses of good food and homemade cakes. They seem to thrive … Nowadays I spend most of my spare time at my writing desk. The children are half grown, the house is at times eerily silent and I slip away into my imaginary world, with my imaginary characters. Every now and then the one and only man in my life pops his head in to ensure I’m still there. I like that – just as I like how he makes me laugh so often I’ll probably live to well over a hundred.

I was always going to be a writer. Now I am – I have achieved my dream.

For more information, please visit Anna Belfrage’s website and blog. You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.



Sunday, December 7, 2014

Mailbox Monday (36)

I'm linking up with Mailbox Monday again!  Check it out here!

I had a slow book week but I'm okay with that because I have a ton of books to read and not a lot of time in which to do it.  The good news is, I'm almost done Christmas shopping!! Woohoo!  I still have a ton of holiday related things to do (Christmas cards, wrapping, etc) but at least I can check that off the list.  

Here is what I got this week:

From the Library (ebook):


Purchased:

 (I have already read this one but I have the rest of the series so I wanted this one too)

What books did you get this week?

 

Friday, December 5, 2014

My Reread of the Little House books part 1


A few weeks ago I posted about how I was taking a class on Laura Ingalls Wilder's early works (see the post here).  The class has ended and I have finished my re-read of the first four 'Little House' books.  I have read each of these books countless times but this was the first time I have read them as an adult.

I loved reading these stories again.  The illustrations are beautiful and each book is as wonderful as I remember it being.  I've been trying to come up with a favorite of these four and I just can't.  I do really lean toward Little House on the Prairie because I love the descriptions of the family setting up their homestead but I don't think I could choose a true favorite of these four.  Farmer Boy was a little less fun to read because the edition I read didn't have any illustrations in it; Garth Williams illustrations help make these books great so I was really bummed to realize that the copy of Farmer Boy I got from the library didn't have any. 

It was strange to read these books as an adult because I noticed things that I wouldn't have noticed as a child.  On the Banks of Plum Creek has a lot of fun little stories that help make up the book as a whole but it also shows how poor the family was, how much they were relying on their wheat crop and how devastating it was when they lost it.  There were a couple of scenes where I cringed as I watched Pa Ingalls go on about how they could afford everything when they wheat was sold and seeing him buy a lot on credit because they could easily pay for it with their wheat crop.  Knowing how the story ended just broke my heart and showed me how precarious the family's situation really was.

I was also shocked by just how hard the Ingalls family worked.  They had a home set up in Wisconsin, left it and went to Kansas, built a functioning home there, left and built a new one in Minnesota.  The amount of work that went into building a home and maintaining it was astronomical and then to have to start over and over must have just been overwhelming at times.

Farmer Boy is a little different than the other three books as it focuses on Laura's husband, Almanzo's, childhood.  I love this book because of the descriptions of the food.  Oh my goodness, I want to live at Almanzo's house in this book because it is non-stop delicious food (at least that is the way it is portrayed in the book).  Almanzo's family was much better off financially than Laura's and it is pretty obvious.  That's not to say that the Wilder's didn't work as hard as the Ingalls, they just had more luxuries and a lot better food.

Overall, I had so much fun with this re-read and I really look forward to reading these with Julia when she's older.  The second half of the course starts in April and I can't wait to re-read the rest of the series!  


Wednesday, December 3, 2014

October/November Wrap Up

AAAH! December is here! How did that happen?  The past two months have been a complete blur and I have a feeling December is going to fly by too.  Despite things being so crazy, the past two months have been really good reading months and as of last week, I met my reading goal for the year...again!  Compared to previous years, it's not much but I took a class this semester that is KILLING me and have had an excessive amount of work to do at my actual job so getting any reading done feels like a big deal.  I have read 75 books this year, I'm hoping to get to 80 now but we'll see.  At this moment in time, I haven't read anything in close to a week so 5 books this month feels very ambitious.

Here is what I read in October and November:

1.) Bitter Greens by Kate Forsyth
2.) The Gospel of Winter by Brendan Kiely
3.) The Case for the Only Child by Susan Newman
4.) Come Dancing by Leslie Wells
5.) Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder
6.) Sinner by Maggie Stiefvater
7.) Farmer Boy by Laura Ingalls Wilder
8.) Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein
9.) Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder
10.) The Tudor Vendetta by C.W. Gortner
11.) On the Banks of Plum Creek by Laura Ingalls Wilder
12.) The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater
13.) The Loyalist's Luck by Elaine Cougler 
14.) The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater

What did you read in the last month or two?

Monday, December 1, 2014

New Release: "A Grave Inheritance" by Kari Edgren

02_A Grave Inheritance_CoverPublication Date: December 1, 2014

Carina Press

eBook; ASIN: B00OHV6MFA



Series: Goddess Born

Genre: Historical/Paranormal/New Adult/Romance



Add to GR Button



Selah Kilbrid may descend from the goddess Brigid, but her heart beats—and breaks—the same as any human. Yet enduring the scorn of London's most noble lords and ladies is a small price to pay for a chance at true happiness. Selah would endure much more for love, and her betrothed, Lord Henry Fitzalan, is prepared to challenge anyone foolish enough to stand in their way—even another goddess born.



But when a captivating young gentleman draws Selah into a world shadowed by secrets, she is forced to confront her darkest fears. What if some differences are too great to overcome and a future with Henry is doomed from the start?



With these doubts threatening her impending marriage and the very last of Brigid's fire draining from her soul, a violent attack on an innocent child pushes Selah to the very edge of her power. She must find a way to cross into the Otherworld and regain her strength—or forfeit the streets of London to death and disease.



Buy the eBook


Amazon US

Amazon UK

Barnes & Noble



About the Author03_Kari Edgren


Kari Edgren is the author of the Goddess Born series. In 2010 and 2011 she was a semifinalist for the Amazon Break Through Novel Award. In 2013, she was a RWA Golden Heart finalist. Ms. Edgren enjoys writing both historical and contemporary fiction, so long as there’s a spark of paranormal. She resides on a mountain top in the Pacific Northwest where she spends a great deal of time dreaming about the sun and torturing her husband and children with strange food and random historical facts.



For more information please visit Kari Edgren’s website. You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.



Sign Up for Kari Edgren’s Newsletter.



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Sunday, November 30, 2014

Mailbox Monday (35)

It's that time of the week again!  I'm linking up with Mailbox Monday, check it out here!

I hope everyone in the states had a wonderful Thanksgiving!  We had a nice time on Thursday and then put up all of our Christmas decorations yesterday.  We are ready for December!

I had Wednesday off and Julia was at daycare so I could run a bunch of errands and bake pies.  I stopped in at the library because I haven't had a chance to browse by myself since it re-opened.  There were parts of the library that I didn't even remember being there because I only ever get to go to the children's section!  I went a little overboard because everything looked so good.

Here is what I got:

The Secret Place by Tana French

Did you get any fun books this week?

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Guest Post: Elaine Cougler author of "The Loyalist's Luck"

Today I'm really happy to welcome Elaine Cougler to the blog!  She is the author of The Loyalist's Wife and The Loyalist's Luck which was just released in October (check out the review I posted yesterday!).

7 Super Interesting Things Writing The Loyalist’s Luck Taught Me

For the next half hour the house was all a-tumble with getting William ready to travel. Young Will and wee John woke with all the hubbub and even their sister slid down the steps as fast as she could to be part of the excitement. Catherine and Lucy held the youngest ones on their laps, out of the way of the men. Young Will ran back up to his room and reappeared as his father was opening the door, his hand behind his back.
“Daddy.”
“No, Will. Your daddy has to hurry,” said Catherine, holding the boy’s hand.
They gathered together in the kitchen and he stopped to smile at each one in turn. “I’ll be back soon.”
 But he wasn’t. The hours passed, night came and with it the far-off sounds of cannon-fire. John sat on the porch with Lucy and Catherine, all of them fighting off the barrage of mosquitoes but reluctant to retreat inside. William was there in the midst of the fighting and in this small way they could each support him. Or so it seemed.
Soon the sky went darker and quiet and a few crickets braved the stillness with their annoying shriek. The adults moved inside to their beds although sleep did not come easily. John wondered what Catherine’s thoughts were this night, the second without William. Lucy lay awake beside him; he heard the catch in her breath every few moments. In the morning he would ride towards the fighting. At Chippawa he thought. For now, he must let his fears go and just sleep.  –from The Loyalist’s Luck.

1.      I wanted to use cicadas in the above passage and, in fact, I did. Then a beta reader suggested to me that cicadas only make their racket in the daytime. Who knew? I looked it up and found my reader was right. The word became crickets because I remembered how they annoyed me when I was a kid and one got in the house at night.
2.      We always learned about the British and the Americans in the Revolutionary War and again in the War of 1812. Well, there was definitely a third side, the Iroquois confederacy and other tribes, sometimes fighting with the Americans and sometimes with the British. I learned the extent of the betrayal the Natives suffered during those times. And I was not proud.
3.      Should the word loyalists be capitalized, I wondered. Not usually, so I found, but I decided to give this group more credibility and capitalized Loyalists. I did the same with Natives.
4.      Governor Simcoe used a plan to settle those people with strong Loyalist leanings on land along the Niagara River and to dole out land further away from the border to those without Loyalist ties. Of course this makes sense because Canada was just in its infancy as was the United States and Simcoe was uncertain of his settlers’ allegiance. Families lived on both sides of the border, a circumstance with which Sir Isaac Brock had to deal when war came in 1812.
5.      Redans and redoubts confused me so that I decided to save my readers and just use redoubts in my book. For the record a redan is a V-shaped work, usually projecting from a fortified line.  A redoubt is an isolated work forming a complete enclosure of any form, used to defend a prominent point. My story line did not suffer because I opted to avoid the redans.
6.      Before the American Revolutionary War, traffic traveling on the present-day U.S. side of the border around the Falls used the road built specifically to portage around the Falls. After the Revolutionary War, the British had to build a new road on their side of the Niagara River. This Portage Road went from Queenston Heights to Chippawa and parts of that route still carry the Portage Road name.
7.      In school we learned that the War of 1812 went from 1812 to 1814. The Treaty of Ghent was in fact signed in December, 1814 but there were no cell phones or even telegrams to spread the news. The last battle was actually fought in early 1815 when the British troops on the North American continent, not knowing about the peace, attacked at New Orleans and were severely trounced.

These are the types of tidbits that make researching and writing historical fiction so interesting for writers. Consider leaving a comment with your own research and reading discoveries. 


Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Review: "The Loyalist's Luck" by Elaine Cougler

Synopsis:  When the Revolutionary War turns in favor of the Americans, John and Lucy flee across the Niagara River with almost nothing. They begin again in Butlersburg, a badly supplied British outpost surrounded by endless trees and rivers, and the mighty roar of the giant falls nearby. He is off on a secret mission for Colonel Butler and she is left behind with her young son and pregnant once again. In the camp full of distrust, hunger, and poverty, word has seeped out that John has gone over to the American side and only two people will associate with Lucy—her friend, Nellie, who delights in telling her all the current gossip, and Sergeant Crawford, who refuses to set the record straight and clear John’s name. To make matters worse, the sergeant has made improper advances toward Lucy.

With vivid scenes of heartbreak and betrayal, heroism and shattered hopes, Elaine Cougler takes us into the hearts and homes of Loyalists still fighting for their beliefs, and draws poignant scenes of families split by political borders. The Loyalist’s Luck shows us the courage of ordinary people who, in perilous times, become extraordinary.

My Thoughts:  The Loyalist's Luck is a wonderful sequel!  It's one of the best I've read in a long time. It picks up right where The Loyalist's Wife left off and takes the reader to Canada with a group of loyalists escaping the American Revolution. 

Lucy continues to be an amazing character.  She is hit with even more hard times in this book and still manages to be the picture of grace under pressure.  She dealt with a lot of good times and a lot of bad times but she still managed to keep it together.  I just love her!  We saw her husband John a lot more in this book but I felt like he played second fiddle to Lucy.  He was missing from chunks of the story again and it didn't seem like the reader ever really got to know him.  There was a point where I was almost hoping he wouldn't come back so that Lucy could get on with her life.  It's not that I didn't like him; it just seemed like I didn't know enough about him early on to care much about him.  I will say that I did really like Sergeant Crawford and I felt so bad for him.  He was such a kind person but he never got to have a chance to be happy (I'm not going to go into detail here for fear of spoiling things!).

The Loyalist's Luck portrays a life of constant struggle.  I liked that Ms. Cougler didn't sugar-coat the events that affected her characters' lives.  It was a very difficult time for people on both sides of the war and I liked that The Loyalist's Luck was an honest portrayal of what was really happening during the American Revolution.  I also love seeing the Revolution from the losing side. These books are actually my first encounter with what was going on with the other side and I definitely want to read more about it.


At its heart, The Loyalist's Luck is the story of a family sticking together through good times and bad.  It is a well-written, engaging story and I really look forward to its sequel.  4 stars.

About the Author:


A lifelong reader and high school teacher, Elaine found her passion for writing once her family was grown. She loves to read history for the stories of real people reacting to their world. Bringing to life the tales of Loyalists in the American Revolutionary War and the War of 1812 is very natural as Elaine’s personal roots are in those struggles, out of which arose both Canada and the United States.
For more information please visit Elaine Cougler’s website. You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and Goodreads.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Mailbox Monday (34)

I'm linking up with Mailbox Monday again. Check it out here!

It's almost Thanksgiving! I'm so looking forward to the long weekend!  It is much needed right now.  We are just staying in town and going to my in-laws for Thanksgiving.  It will be nice to relax a bit.

 I got two new books this week, both look really good.  I swore I was going to stay away from NetGalley but I couldn't help myself!  

From NetGalley:



I hope all of my American followers have a happy Thanksgiving!!  What books did you get this week?  Any big plans for the holiday?

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Review and Giveaway: "The Tudor Vendetta" by C.W. Gortner






Synopsis:  Winter, 1558: Elizabeth I has ascended the throne but the first days of her reign are already fraught with turmoil, the kingdom weakened by strife and her ability to rule uncertain.

Summoned from exile abroad at the new queen’s behest, Brendan Prescott arrives in London to face his shattered past. He soon finds himself pitted in deadly rivalry with his life-long foe, Robert Dudley, but when a poison attempt overshadows the queen’s coronation, Elizabeth privately dispatches Brendan on a far more dangerous assignation: to find her favored lady-in-waiting, Lady Parry, who has vanished in Yorkshire.

Upon his arrival at the crumbling sea-side manor that may hold the key to Lady Parry’s disappearance, he encounters a strange, impoverished family beset by grief, as well as mounting evidence that they hide a secret from him. The mystery surrounding Lady Parry deepens as Brendan begins to realize there is far more going on at the manor than meets the eye, but the closer he gets to the heart of the mystery, the more he becomes the quarry of an elusive stranger with a vendetta— one that could expose both his own buried identity and a long-hidden revelation that will bring about Elizabeth’s doom.

From the intrigue-laden passages of Whitehall to a foreboding Catholic manor and the prisons of the Tower, Brendan must risk everything to unravel a vendetta that strikes at the very core of his world, including his loyalty to his queen.

The Tudor Vendetta is the third book in Gortner’s Elizabeth I Spymaster Trilogy.

My Thoughts:   The Tudor Vendetta is a fantastic end to the Spymaster Trilogy.  It is an exquisite mystery filled with secrets and intrigue and is by far my favorite of the three.  I was hooked from the first two pages and could not put this book down.

Brendan is a much more mature and well-developed character in this book.  When the story begins, he has been away from England for several years and is finally able to return upon the death of Mary I.  He arrives in England just as Elizabeth is taking the throne and he is forced to deal with his old nemesis, Robert Dudley and I must say, Dudley is quite the twit in this book.  You can't help but hate him which makes him such a good villain.  I liked Elizabeth in this book; lately I've read a lot of books where I really just couldn't sympathize with her but I think Gortner does a great job of showing the precarious position she was in when she became queen and making her relatable.

The setting of this book was perfectly creepy; a small manor in the north of England where all kinds of strange things occur while Brendan is there investigating Lady Parry's disappearance.  The descriptions of both the surroundings of the manor and it's mysterious inhabitants kept me wondering what secrets the manor held.  And boy did it hold a big secret that changed the whole trajectory of the story.  While the reader thought Brendan was at the manor for one reason, it is revealed that he is there to deal with an entirely different situation.

The Tudor Vendetta is full of twists and turns and every time I thought I had it all figured out, I was wrong.  The story is action-packed and the ending is intense to say the least.  I loved every minute of it!  I highly recommend The Tudor Vendetta and the rest of the Spymaster Trilogy.  4 stars.

About the Author:

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.

C.W. recently completed his fourth novel for Ballantine Books, about Lucrezia Borgia; the third novel in his Tudor Spymaster series for St Martin’s Press; and a new novel about the dramatic, glamorous life of Coco Chanel, scheduled for lead title publication by William Morrow, Harper Collins, in the spring of 2015.

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 please visit C.W. Gortner’s website and blog. You can also connect with him on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, Pinterest, and YouTube.

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Check out other stops on the tour here!

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Mailbox Monday (33)

 Mailbox Monday is a weekly meme started by Marcia at To Be Continued.  It's a great way to show off all the cool books you received during the week.  Check it out here!

I got some great books this week!  On Monday night, I went to an event at a library near Kansas City and got to see Maggie Stiefvater and the Merry Sisters of Fate.  They gave a great talk on writing and then signed books.  I picked up a copy of The Raven Boys got it signed.  It was so fun!  I also got a couple of review books that I'm so excited to read.

Purchased:


For Review (from HFVBT):



What books did you get this week?

Monday, November 10, 2014

Guest Post: Shanna Hatfield, author of the Hardman Holiday series



Shanna-Hatfield-Nov-Blog-Tour

Welcome to the

Blog Tour!

A kickoff of two new holiday romances by Shanna Hatfield
and a fundraiser for the Justin Cowboy Crisis Fund

An Interview with the Men of Hardman Holidays

Three characters from Shanna Hatfield’s historical holiday series, Hardman Holidays join us today. Set in the western town of Hardman, Oregon, this series of sweet romances highlights determined women and the men who fall for them. Luke Granger, Blake Stratton, and Arlan Guthry talk about life in Hardman in the 1890s.

A warm welcome to you all. Tell us a little about how you met.

Luke: We all grew up in Hardman. Blake moved here with his parents from England just after my family arrived from New York when we were quite small. Arlan, your parents moved here before you were born, didn’t they? I was young enough I don’t remember.

Arlan: Yes, they did. My brother, Adam, was just a year old when they moved to Hardman. I was born two years later. Blake’s mother was a friend of my mother’s.

Blake: That’s right. When Mum and Dad returned to England, she mentioned how much she missed visiting with your mother, although she didn’t say the same about Luke’s.

Luke: (Grins) Dora Granger just takes a little getting used to. Besides, she’s completely changed for the better since I married Filly.

Blake: Rather like you, ol’ chum.



What type of work do you do?

Luke: I own the Hardman Bank and manage it with Arlan’s capable assistance. I also raise cattle, hold an interest in a lumber mill, and a partnership in a mine.

Blake: He doesn’t want to get bored. (Blake and Arlan chuckle). While Luke is running hither and yon to meetings and the like, I stay home and carve furniture or work with my horses.

Luke: The Viscount should mention his furniture is in high demand both in England and America under the Roxbury House name. He also breeds and trains some of the best horses in this part of the country.

Arlan: His stallion, Romeo, is quite an impressive beast.

Blake: Romeo’s feelings would be hurt to hear you refer to him as a beast.

Arlan: If the name fits… As Luke mentioned, I work at the bank as his assistant. When I’m not there, I play the trumpet in the community band, and participate in activities around town.

Luke: And I thought he just had a thing for the phantasmagorical wonders of the new magician who rolled into town.

(Arlan frowns at Luke while Blake laughs)

Arlan: You just like to say the word "phantasmagorical" and work it into nearly every conversation since Alex came to town. She is a very talented magician.

Blake: And very beautiful.

Luke: And single. Don't forget she is as free and unfettered as they come, should anyone be interested in courting her.

(Arlan glares at Blake and Luke)


Use  five words to describe the most wonderful thing in your life

Luke: Filly - my wife, my love.

Blake: Beautiful Ginny - wife, friend, lover.

Arlan: That’s a tough one. Maybe you can come back to me on that.

Luke: (Slaps Arlan on the back) It’s just us. Go on, Arlan, fess up.

Arlan: (Frowning at Luke while fidgeting with his pocket watch.) Look at the time, we really must be going.



Before you leave, tell us what’s the best part of Christmas in Hardman?

Arlan: The sounds of carols, the crunch of snow beneath my boots, and the decorations. There is a feeling of kinship and welcome all around town.

Blake: (Snorts and shakes his head) Don’t forget the food, Arlan. You’re about to neglect a very important part of the holidays.

Luke: Like Filly’s cakes, tarts, and candies. There are the sweet breads and rolls, jams and pies, and the best cookies.

Blake: (Glances at Luke) Did she make those chocolate meringue things again?

Arlan: I had the rash idea Filly and Ginny were the best part of the holiday season for you two. It will be my pleasure to let them know you much prefer cookies and bread to their love and devotion. (Smirks at his friends)



Thank you for joining us. Any parting words for our readers?

Luke: Thank you for hosting us today. If you enjoy sweet holiday romances set in the past, I hope you’ll consider reading our stories in The Christmas Bargain, The Christmas Token, and The Christmas Calamity.


Where to Find The Books

Travel back to a different time with the historic Hardman Holiday Series,
christmas bargain coverbeginning with The Christmas Bargain

Now through Dec. 24, Shanna will donate 10 percent of the net proceeds from all her book sales to the Justin Cowboy Crisis Fund. JCCF logoThe JCCF is a non-profit organization that assists rodeo athletes who’ve sustained catastrophic injuries and are unable to work for an extended period.


You’re Invited to PARTY!

You’re invited to join in the online Cowboys & Christmas Facebook Party Thursday, Nov. 13 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. (PST). Drop in anytime during those four hours to enter to win great prizes, chat with guest authors, and more! Here’s the link to the party: http://tinyurl.com/cowboychristmasparty

The third book in the Hardman Holidays sweet Victorian romance series releases that day! The Christmas Calamity takes readers back to Hardman just in time for the holiday season. Preorders are available now for just $1.99 on Kindle. You can reserve your copy here:   http://amzn.com/B00OGOO994

In addition, the first book in the Hardman Holidays series, The Christmas Bargain, will be available free that day, as well!

Prize Basket

Enter to Win Prizes!

To enter the drawing for an Amazon gift card, autographed books, chocolates, original western artwork, and more fun goodies, fill out this form.

About Shanna Hatfield

Shanna Hatfield 2A hopeless romantic with a bit of sarcasm thrown in for good measure, Shanna Hatfield is a bestselling author of sweet romantic fiction written with a healthy dose of humor. In addition to blogging and eating too much chocolate, she is completely smitten with her husband, lovingly known as Captain Cavedweller.

Shanna creates character-driven romances with realistic heroes and heroines. Her historical westerns have been described as “reminiscent of the era captured by Bonanza and The Virginian” while her contemporary works have been called “laugh-out-loud funny, and a little heart-pumping sexy without being explicit in any way.”

She is a member of Western Writers of America, Women Writing the West, and Romance Writers of America.

Find Shanna’s books at:


Shanna loves to hear from readers! Follow her online:

 
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