Sunday, April 27, 2014

Mailbox Monday (14)

Mailbox Monday is a weekly meme started by Marcia at To Be Continued.  It's a great way to share all the bookish things you get each week!  Check it out here!

I only got one book this week but it looks like it will be a good one!

From the Library:



I am fascinated by the Duggars so I'm very interested to see how this book is.

What did you get in your mailbox this week?

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Dewey's 24 Hour Read-A-Thon April 2014 Master Post





I finally broke down and signed up for the Read-a-thon!  I have had so much fun participating in the past and this post convinced me I should give it a shot again.  I haven't participated since last April and I've had a baby since then so I'm not sure how this is going to go.  I'm going to try to get as much reading done as I can between chasing Julia and all the other commitments I have.

I'm hoping to make a dent in the following books:

The Runaway Highlander by R.L. Syme
The King by J.R. Ward

Also, my hold on Catching Fire (the movie) came in a the library so I will finally get to watch it tomorrow!  It's book related so it counts, right?

I'll update this post throughout the day to let you know how I'm doing.  Have fun everyone!

Hour 0 Kick Off post

1) What fine part of the world are you reading from today? I'm in Kansas.
2) Which book in your stack are you most looking forward to? I can't wait to read The King
3) Which snack are you most looking forward to? Not sure.  I have to stop at the store today so we'll see what I get.
4) Tell us a little something about yourself!  I'm a married mom of a 10 month old baby girl and a crazy furbaby.  Reading is my most favorite past time.
5) If you participated in the last read-a-thon, what’s one thing you’ll do different today? If this is your first read-a-thon, what are you most looking forward to?  When I participated last, I hoped to do more cheerleading so I'm going to try to do that.


Hour 8 update

This morning has been crazy and I haven't got much reading accomplished.  I had to go help my in-laws for a bit, then stop by the library to pick up 'Catching Fire' so I can watch it tonight then I had to go grocery shopping.  I did listen to A Breath of Snow and Ashes by Diana Gabaldon while I was out running errands and I read Barnyard Dance by Sandra Boynton to Julia but I was only able to get in a few pages of actual reading.  Julia is down for a nap now so I'm hoping to get some reading done over the next few hours.  Let's do this!

Read-a-thon wrap up

So I didn't do that great during the read-a-thon.  I read about 150 pages in The Runaway Highlander, read a couple of board books to Julia, listened to about a half hour of A Breath of Snow and Ashes and watched two thirds of 'Catching Fire'.  I did have a bookish day but didn't read anywhere near as much in the past.  I'm kind of sad I couldn't participate more but am hopeful that I'll do better in October. 

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Quick Review: "Intensity" by Dean Koontz

From Goodreads:  Past midnight, Chyna Shepard, twenty-six, gazes out a moonlit window, unable to sleep on her first night in the Napa Valley home of her best friend's family. Instinct proves reliable. A murderous sociopath, Edgler Foreman Vess, has entered the house, intent on killing everyone inside. A self-proclaimed "homicidal adventurer," Vess lives only to satisfy all appetites as they arise, to immerse himself in sensation, to live without fear, remorse or limits, to live with "intensity." Chyna is trapped in his deadly orbit. 

Chyna is a survivor, toughened by a lifelong struggle for safety and self-respect. Now she will be tested as never before. At first her sole aim is to get out alive--until, by chance, she learns the identity of Vess's next intended victim, a faraway innocent only she can save. Driven by a newly discovered thirst for meaning beyond mere self-preservation, Chyna musters every inner resource she has to save an endangered girl...as moment by moment, the terrifying threat of Edgler Foreman Vess intensifies.


My Thoughts:  Oh boy, I have a lot to say about this book.  I was looking for a good, creepy mystery and several people recommended Intensity.  I was pretty excited when after 50ish pages, I was super creeped out.  Edgler Vess is a freak with a capital 'F' and his crimes in the beginning of the book were horrible.  However, after that the book kind of went down hill for me.  Chyna is a fascinating character but her actions are completely unrealistic and at times pretty ridiculous.  There is no way that a normal (and intelligent) person would do most of the things she did.  I think I also struggled with this book because it was written in 1987 prior to everyone having cell phones.  The story would have ended a lot earlier if someone had just had a cell phone! 

This story also seemed like it was a lot longer than it needed to be.  There were times where I was really bored and considered just giving up but I really wanted to know how the story ended.  I will say that the ending didn't disappoint and I liked the way it all wrapped up.  Overall, the story had a lot of potential but it fell flat for me.  I don't know if I will be reading another Koontz book anytime soon.  2 stars.

I borrowed this book from my local library.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Review: "Catching Air" by Sarah Pekkanen


From Goodreads:  A chance to run a B&B in snowy, remote Vermont—it’s an offer Kira Danner can’t resist after six soul-crushing years of working as a lawyer in Florida. As Kira and her husband, Peter, step into a brand new life, she quells her fears about living with the B&B’s co-owners: Peter’s sexy, irresponsible brother Rand, and Rand’s wife, Alyssa…who is essentially a stranger.

For her part, Alyssa sees taking over the B&B as the latest in a string of adventures. Plus, a quiet place might help her recover from the news that she can’t bear children. But the idyllic town proves to be anything but serene: Within weeks, the sisters-in-law are scrambling to prepare for their first big booking—a winter wedding—and soon a shy, mysterious woman comes to work for them. Dawn Zukoski is hiding something; that much is clear. But what the sisters-in-law don't realize is that Dawn is also hiding from someone…


My Thoughts:  This isn't a book I probably would have found on my own but I am so glad it found me!  I will definitely be reading more of Pekkanen's books in the future!

Likes:  I love the idea of leaving your stress filled life to go run a Bed and Breakfast in the country.  That honestly sounds awesome to me so the setting of this book was awesome.  The descriptions of the house, the wilderness and the food gave the story such a great atmosphere.  I also loved watching the different relationships between husband and wife, brothers and sisters-in-law. Each of the couples had issues that needed to be addressed as did Peter and Rand and I liked that all of the relationships were dealing with issues that couples face in real life.

Dislikes:  The only thing I didn't like about this book was that Dawn's story was a little bit implausible.  It added a little mystery to the story but it didn't seem very realistic.

Characters:  All the characters were great but I really liked Kira and Alyssa the best.  They both had such different personalities but they complimented each other so well.  I loved how they didn't know each other very well but they managed to become fast friends.  I also enjoyed watching Kira deal with her past and figure out what she wanted in the future.  She was probably my favorite character and she had the most growing to do.  Dawn was another interesting character.  I didn't really like her at first but as the story continued, she really blossomed into a different person.  I guess this is kind of a 'coming of age' story but with adults. 

Overall:  This was a great read and I would recommend it to anyone!  It would be the perfect book to add to your summer reading list!  4 stars.

Catching Air is available on May 6 and you can pre-order it on Amazon here!

I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Mailbox Monday (13)

Mailbox Monday is a great way to showcase all of the bookish goodies you receive each week.  Check it out here!

I hope everyone's having a wonderful Sunday whether you celebrate Easter or not!


For Review:

Roan Rose by Juliet Waldron (ebook, not pictured)

From the Library:

Intensity by Dean Koontz (ebook, not pictured)

What books did you get this week? 

Friday, April 18, 2014

Book Blast and Giveaway: "Blackwell's Paradise" by V.E. Ulett

Blackwell's ParadiseBlackwell's Paradise

by V.E. Ulett



Publication Date: January 8, 2014

Old Salt Press LLC

Formats: Ebook, Paperback



Series: Blackwell's Adventures, Volume II

Genre: Historical Adventure/Naval HF



Relive the pleasure of falling into the past with the author of Captain Blackwell’s Prize, in Volume II of Blackwell’s Adventures.



The repercussions of a court martial and the ill-will of powerful men at the Admiralty pursue Royal Navy captain James Blackwell into the Pacific, where danger lurks around every coral reef. Even if Captain Blackwell and Mercedes survive the venture into the world of early nineteenth century exploration, can they emerge unchanged with their love intact. The mission to the Great South Sea will test their loyalties and strength, and define the characters of Captain Blackwell and his lady in Blackwell’s Paradise.



Enter the Goodreads Giveaway






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Goodreads Book Giveaway


Blackwell's Paradise by V.E. Ulett


Blackwell's Paradise


by V.E. Ulett




Giveaway ends April 30, 2014.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.


Enter to win


Praise for Blackwell's Paradise



“Not for the faint hearted – Captain Blackwell pulls no punches! Prepare for a right roaring romp in the company of two of the most captivating characters in historical fiction.” - Alaric Bond, author of Turn A Blind Eye, and the Fighting Sail Series



Buy the Book



Amazon (eBook)

Amazon (Paperback)

Barnes & Noble (Nook)

Barnes & Noble (Paperback)

Book Depository

iTunes



About the AuthorVE Ulett



A long time resident of California, V.E. Ulett is an avid reader as well as writer of historical fiction.



Proud to be an Old Salt Press author, V.E. is also a member of the National Books Critics Circle and an active member and reviewer for the Historical Novel Society.



As the long war in Europe comes to its conclusion, so does Captain Blackwell’s career in the Royal Navy in BLACKWELLS’ HOMECOMING, a story of the dangers and rewards of desire.

Author Links



Website

Goodreads

Old Salt Press



Book Blast Schedule



April 1 Historical Tapestry

April 2 Broken Teepee

April 3 Confessions of an Avid Reader

April 4 The True Book Addict

April 7 Layered Pages

April 8 The Maiden's Court

April 9 Passages the Past

April 10 Just One More Chapter

April 11 Closed the Cover

April 12 Words and Peace

April 14 Luxury Reading

April 15 To Read or Not to Read

April 16 Peeking Between the Pages

April 18 So Many Books, So Little Time

April 21 Flashlight Commentary

April 22 Curling Up With a Good Book

April 23 HF Book Muse-News

April 24 A Bookish Affair

April 25 Oh, For the Hook of a Book

April 27 Kincavel Korner

April 28 CelticLady's Reviews

April 29 Historical Fiction Connection

April 30 Reading the Ages



Giveaway



To enter to win a copy of Blackwell's Paradise please complete the Rafflecopter giveaway form below. Giveaway is open to US and Canadian residents only.



Giveaway ends at 11:59pm on April 30th. You must be 18 or older to enter.

Winners will be chosen via Rafflecopter on May 1st and notified via email.

Winners have 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.



a Rafflecopter giveaway




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Review: "The Collector of Dying Breaths" by M.J. Rose



Synopsis:  From one of America’s most imaginative storytellers comes a passionate tale of love and treachery, spanning the days of Catherine de Medici’s court to the twenty-first century and starring a woman drawn back, time and again, to the past.


In 1533, an Italian orphan with an uncanny knack for creating fragrance is plucked from poverty to become Catherine de Medici’s perfumer. To repay his debt, over the years RenĂ© le Florentine is occasionally called upon to put his vast knowledge to a darker purpose: the creation of deadly poisons used to dispatch the Queen’s rivals.

But it’s RenĂ©’s other passion—a desire to reanimate a human breath, to bring back the lives of the two people whose deaths have devastated him—that incites a dangerous treasure hunt five centuries later. That’s when Jac L’Etoile—suffering from a heartache of her own—becomes obsessed with the possibility of unlocking Rene’s secret to immortality.

Soon Jac’s search reconnects her with Griffin North, a man she’s loved her entire life. Together they confront an eccentric heiress whose art collection rivals many museums and who is determined to keep her treasures close at hand, not just in this life but in her next.

Set in the forest of Fontainebleau, crisscrossing the lines between the past and the present, M.J. Rose has written a mesmerizing tale of passion and obsession. This is a gothic tale perfect for fans of Anne Rice, Deborah Harkness, and Diana Galbadon.

My Thoughts:

Likes:  I have only read one other book by M.J. Rose but after finishing The Collector of Dying Breaths, I am convinced that I need to read more!  I was kind of feeling like I was in a reading slump and this book pulled me out completely.  Once I started reading, there was no stopping!  I loved  how the story jumped between past and present so seamlessly and how connected the two were.  I also enjoyed the romantic aspect as well as the creep factor.  It's not really a mystery novel but it definitely had a creepiness to it that I really liked.  One of my favorite aspects of the story is the author's descriptions of perfumes:  the smells, the ingredients and how they were made.  I felt like I could almost smell the specific perfumes as she was describing them.

Characters:  Jac is such an awesome character.  Her ability to connect with past lives is fascinating and made for an exciting story.  I also really liked Rene Bianco.  His rise from obscurity to be such a powerful force at the court of Catherine de Medici made for great reading.  He was a very complex character; he was a master at creating poisons for Queen Catherine but at the same time, he didn't like
that he was responsible for so many deaths.  I've always found Catherine de Medici to be a really interesting historical figure and I'm still on the fence as to how I felt about her in this book.  There were things to like about her (saving Rene) and things that were not so likable.



Dislikes:  I didn't really 'dislike' anything about this book but I would have liked to know more about Melinoe.  She was definitely a very 'unique' person.  Her father's death was just so weird and all the shady things she did while working with Jac made me very curious about her life in general as well as her very odd relationship with her step-brother.

Overall:  I loved this book.  LOVED.  4 1/2 stars.

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

About the Author:

M.J. Rose is the international best selling author of fourteen novels and two non-fiction books on marketing. Her fiction and non-fiction has appeared in many magazines and reviews including Oprah Magazine. She has been featured in the New York Times, Newsweek, Time, USA Today and on the Today Show, and NPR radio. Rose graduated from Syracuse University, spent the ’80s in advertising, has a commercial in the Museum of Modern Art in NYC and since 2005 has run the first marketing company for authors – Authorbuzz.com. The television series PAST LIFE, was based on Rose’s novels in the Renincarnationist series. She is one of the founding board members of International Thriller Writers and runs the blog- Buzz, Balls & Hype. She is also the co-founder of Peroozal.com and BookTrib.com.
Rose lives in CT with her husband the musician and composer, Doug Scofield, and their very spoiled and often photographed dog, Winka.

For more information on M.J. Rose and her novels, please visit her website. You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter and Goodreads.

Guest Post from M.J. Rose:

"It is with irony now, forty years later, to think that if I had not been called a murderer on the most frightening night of my life, there might not be any perfume in Paris today. And that scent—to which I gave my all and which gave me all the power and riches I could have hoped for—is at the heart of why now it is I who call myself a murderer."
From The Collector of Dying Breaths 


“I’m not sure what it was or where she sprayed it, but her scent will be the end of the life I loved. And I will find comfort in the simpleness of sitting with her on a Saturday afternoon with nothing else to do.” ―Darnell Lamont Walker

 
Check out other stops on the tour here!
Follow the tour on twitter:  #DyingBreathsTour

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Mini Reviews (7)



Every time I read another Susanna Kearsley book, I fall more and more in love with her writing.  Her stories are so amazing!  Mariana pulled me in from the first page and did not let go.  I loved the romance and the history and I loved how Kearsley pulled in the whole idea of reincarnation.  The end was beautiful and so surprising.  I did not see it coming at all but the fact that it was a surprise made the end even better.  5 stars.



I want to be Jen Lancaster's BFF.  She is one of the funniest people out there.  I have read all of her memoirs and this one is just as hysterical as the rest.  Reading about her attempts to follow Martha Stewart's way of life was so fun and I found myself laughing out loud a couple of times.  There was also a more serious side to this book and some of the events left me in tears.  I highly recommend this book if you are looking for a funny, snarky read.  4 stars.



This is my new favorite Susanna Kearsley book. There was just something about the story that spoke to me and swept me away.  I think this is the first book I've read by her that involved time travel and I think that gave it a unique twist.  I loved all the characters and the relationship between Eva and Daniel was completely swoonworthy.  I swear that nobody can write romance the way that Kearsley can!  5 stars.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Bookish and Not So Bookish Thoughts (5)

I'm linking up with Bookishly Boisterous' "Bookish and Not So Bookish Thoughts" again.  Check it out here

1.) I've been plowing through books lately and it's awesome!  I've made really good headway on my reading goal for the year.  According to goodreads, I'm 8 books head of schedule.

2.) I have received a lot of review books recently.  It looks like things will be busy around the blog this summer.

3.) Julia got a cold from daycare and was sick all weekend.  She then proceeded to share it with me. I shouldn't be surprised.  There's no way a person can clean up that much snot and not get sick.

4.) The hubs is working second shift now so I'm pretty much a single mom all week.  It's not as hard as I expected but it sure isn't easy either.  I keep telling myself it's only until August; hopefully I can make it that long.

5.) I finished another Susanna Kearsley book this week.  I just can't say enough about how awesome her books are.

6.) I gave up sweets for Lent and am counting the days until I can have chocolate again.  I haven't had any Cadbury mini eggs yet and I'm dying!

7.) I just realized that I have been doing a ton of reading on my phone.  I haven't used my nook in months...honestly I can't even remember the last time I used it.

That's all I've got!  I hope you have a great week!

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Quick Review: "The Midwife's Confession" by Diane Chamberlain

 
 
From Goodreads: 
Dear Anna,
What I have to tell you is difficult to write, but I know it will be far more difficult for you to hear, and I'm so sorry-

The unfinished letter is the only clue Tara and Emerson have to the reason behind their close friend Noelle's suicide. Everything they knew about Noelle - her calling as a midwife, her passion for causes, her love for her friends and family - described a woman who embraced life.
Yet there was so much they didn't know.

With the discovery of the letter and its heartbreaking secret, Noelle's friends begin to uncover the truth about this complex woman who touched each of their lives - and the life of a desperate stranger - with love and betrayal, compassion and deceit.

My Thoughts:

Likes:  The synopsis of The Midwife's Confession sucked me in immediately and the story did the same.  The story itself was engaging and kept me wanting to know more and even when I thought I had figured everything out, I really hadn't.  Normally I don't like books with multiple characters' points of view, but it actually worked for this book.

Characters:  I did not like Noelle at all.  I couldn't tell if I was supposed to feel sorry for her or not but she was such a difficult character to like.  Yes, she was self-less and spent her life catering to the needs of others but she was also so self-absorbed, like she couldn't let anyone else see the real her (except one person).  Maybe if she had been more open with her friends and family, things wouldn't have turned out the way they did.  It was kind of frustrating to watch her just make a mess of her life.

Dislikes:  While the story kept me interested, it was so unbelievable.  It felt like the author kept throwing in crazy scenarios to make the story even more dramatic.  There is no way any of that stuff could happen to one group of people.

Despite my issues with some aspects of the story, it was a quick, easy and entertaining read.  3 stars.




Sunday, April 6, 2014

Mailbox Monday (12)


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

I haven't posted a mailbox for a couple of weeks so I have a lot of books to feature today!

From the Library:



For Review (from HFVBT):


Winter Fire by Kathy Fischer-Brown

For Review (from publisher):



The Ashes of Heaven's Pillar by Kim Rendfeld

What books did you get this week?
 

Book Blast and Giveaway: "Inscription" by H.H. Miller

H.H. Miller's Book Blast for Inscription will be featured around the blogopshere from March 31-April 13.



Inscription_CoverPublication: January 9, 2014

H.H Miller

Paperback; 278p

ISBN-10: 0615944418



eBook; 700kb

ASIN: B00HSBNW5Y



The year is 1851 and the Grand Guard is ravaging Mainland. Arrests. Floggings. Swift executions. Twenty-year-old Caris McKay, the beautiful heiress of Oakside Manor, is sent to live with distant relations until the danger has passed. It's no refuge, however, as Lady Granville and her scheming son plot to get their hands on Caris's inheritance with treachery and deceit.



Soon, alarming news arrives that the ruthless Captain James Maldoro has seized Oakside and imprisoned Caris's beloved uncle. And now he's after her.



Caris escapes with the help of Tom Granville, the enigmatic silver-eyed heir of Thornbridge. But when a cryptic note about a hidden fortune launches them on a perilous journey across Mainland, Caris and Tom must rely on wits, courage, and their growing love for each other if they hope to survive.



Filled with adventure, intrigue, and romance, Inscription will transport you to a historically fictional world you'll never want to leave.



READ AN EXCERPT.



Buy the Book



Amazon (eBook)

Amazon (Paperback)

Barnes & Noble



About the AuthorH.H. Miller Author



H. H. Miller is the author of the novel Inscription, a historically fictional romantic adventure. In real life, she's content director at Stoke Strategy, a brand strategy firm in Seattle, Washington, where she specializes in transforming what some might call "boring" technology jargon into compelling, readable, memorable stories. Her favorite escape is Manzanita, Oregon - a place of beautiful beaches, wild storms, chilly nights around the bonfire (even in July), and time to enjoy life with her husband and three children.



For more information please visit H.H. Miller's Facebook Page.



Book Blast Schedule



Monday, March 31

A Bookish Affair

Closed the Cover

Mina's Bookshelf



Tuesday, April 1

Historical Fiction Connection



Wednesday, April 2

Book Nerd

CelticLady's Reviews



Thursday, April 3

Flashlight Commentary



Friday, April 4

The Mad Reviewer

Oh, for the Hook of a Book



Saturday, April 5

Pages of Comfort



Sunday, April 6

So Many Books, So Little Time



Monday, April 7

Confessions of an Avid Reader

History from a Woman's Perspective



Tuesday, April 8

The True Book Addict

Historical Fiction Obsession



Wednesday, April 9

Broken Teepee



Thursday, April 10

SOS Aloha

Caroline Wilson Writes



Friday, April 11

Layered Pages



Saturday, April 12

Susan Heim on Writing

Curling Up With a Good Book



Sunday, April 13

Passages to the Past



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Giveaway



To enter to win one of 2 copies of Inscription please complete the Rafflecopter giveaway form below. Giveaway is open to US and Canadian residents only.



Giveaway ends at 11:59pm on April 13th.. You must be 18 or older to enter.

Winners will be chosen via Rafflecopter on April 14th and notifiied via email.

Winners have 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.



a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, April 4, 2014

Guest Post by Anna Belfrage, author of "Serpents in the Garden"

I am so excited to welcome Anna Belfrage to the blog today.  She is the author of "Serpents in the Garden" which is the fifth book in the Graham Saga (one of my new favorite series!).

First of all, may I extend a warm thank you (and a virtual hug – I am a hugging person) to Denise for being generous enough to host me today.  It is people like you, Denise, who make up the life-support system all authors need to thrive and go on writing.

Anyway; today’s post is about love. I have a thing about love – in all its forms and guises. Not that I believe myself to be unique in this; most people I know have a thing about love.
Love hurts, they say. I guess most of us would agree, having at some point or other experienced just how much it can hurt. Like when gorgeous Scott in 9th grade stared through you the Monday after the party, and yet he’d been anything but distant when you danced to “Stairway to Heaven” – or when pretty Amanda tossed her hair and told Marc it was over, she was with Steven now, and besides, she’d only been with Marc because she wanted to make Steven jealous – no one in their right mind really wanted to be with Marc! (Young people can be very cruel)
To be discarded like a faulty toy is painful – and even more so when there is an element of betrayal in it. In general, relationships where one of the parties cheat are already over long before the cuckolded party realises it. Once again, I imagine most of us have experienced just how difficult it is to be the one who no longer loves when the other is still burning for you – whether it be puppy love or the more mature version. How does one let someone down gently?

Quick answer nr 1: You can’t.

Quick answer nr 2: But you have to try, because otherwise you’re compounding the damage.

In Serpents in the Garden, one of my protagonists, Ian Graham, discovers his wife is sleeping with Patrick, the field hand. Humiliated and hurt, he is also beset by vivid images in which his adulterous wife is laughing at him while enjoying her lover’s caresses.
He sent wood chips flying; he chopped and chopped, venting anger and humiliation on the length of timber at his feet. He choked on his rage, a hard knot working itself up and down his gullet. God, how gullible she must have found him! He drove the axe head into the wood, and worked until his shirt stuck to his back.
It helped to gouge his way through the log. With each stroke, the red anger inside of him receded, the heat that threatened to boil over cooled, until he was left with a controlled, icy rage that lay like a lid across the angry whipping thing in his guts.

Ian and Jenny live in 17th century Maryland. Adultery could potentially lead to death (although it rarely did) and definitely to public humiliation. Not a sufficient deterrent for Jenny - she burns for the other man. Does she still love Ian? Yes, Jenny would have answered – at least initially. (This is before Ian has found out)
When Ian returned late, Jenny was waiting for him, newly bathed and in her best embroidered shift; nothing else.
“Malcolm?” he asked when she wound her arms round his neck.
“Asleep, and tomorrow is Sunday.”
“So it is,” he nodded, and the shift was already on the floor. He carried her over to their bed and made love to her until the candles guttered one by one.
In the dark, Jenny lay awake beside his sleeping shape and held on very hard to his hand. She loved this man, the way his hazel eyes shifted with his moods, the way his hands were warm and soft on her skin – of course she loved him. So, why was it Patrick she saw while they were making love? Why was it Patrick she wanted to hold her, take her?
She rolled over to face Ian and traced his sleeping profile. “I’m so sorry,” she whispered. “Oh God, Ian, I am that sorry.” And she knew that she wouldn’t put a stop to it – at least not yet.

Falling out of love is a much more gradual process than the tumultuous experience of falling in love. Bit by bit, love is downgraded to affection, to indifference, and where once life without the other was impossible to even consider, one day one wakes and thinks life without the other would be quite okay – quite nice actually. 
I don’t think Jenny in Serpents in the Garden ever reaches the indifference level. Instead, she is swimming in guilt, further burdened by the heavy-handed morality of the times. A woman who strayed was per definition a fallen woman, a sinful creature risking censure and ostracism. (A man who strayed was merely displaying normal male behaviour – unapproved of, but forgivable) As Jenny discovers, the adulterous woman in the 17th century had no rights – especially when it came to her children. So why does Jenny risk everything? Anyone who has been in love knows the answer; she can’t help herself.
Wounds to the heart can take a long time to heal, and in Serpents in the Garden several of my characters suffer devastating blows, the kind that bring you to your knees while you promise yourself that never, ever again will you gamble the well-fare of your heart on another human being. Fortunately, the heart is a resilient organ. Despite being badly bruised, at times even broken, it heals. The more daring among us will therefore set our heart at risk over and over again – hoping that one day we’ll find the love of our life. And many of us do. So yes; love hurts. But it also carries us through the darkest of days, it gives us wings to fly with, just when we need it the most. That, I believe, is one of the central messages in all my books: love rules, people. Without it, we would be but husks. 

Anna Belfrage is the author of The Graham Saga – so far five of the total eight books have been published. Set in seventeenth century Scotland and Virginia/Maryland, The Graham Saga tell the story of Matthew and Alex, two people who should never have met – not when she was born three hundred years after him. 

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.


 

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Review: "Serpents in the Garden" by Anna Belfrage

  Synopsis:  After years of hard work, Matthew and Alex Graham have created a thriving home in the Colony of Maryland. About time, in Alex’s opinion, after far too many adventures she is really looking forward to some well-deserved peace and quiet.

A futile hope, as it turns out. Things start to heat up when Jacob, the third Graham son, absconds from his apprenticeship to see the world – especially as Jacob leaves behind a girl whom he has wed in a most irregular fashion.

Then there’s the infected matter of the fellow time traveller Alex feels obliged to help – no matter the risk. Worst of all, one day Philip Burley and his brothers resurface after years of absence. As determined as ever to make Matthew pay for every perceived wrong – starting with the death of their youngest brother – the Burleys play out a complicated cat and mouse game, and Alex is thrown back into an existence where her heart is constantly in her mouth, convinced as she is that one day the Burleys will achieve their purpose.

Will the Burleys succeed? And if they do, will the Graham family survive the exacted price?

Serpents in the Garden is the fifth book in Anna Belfrage’s time slip series featuring time traveller Alexandra Lind and her seventeenth century husband, Matthew Graham.

My Thoughts:  
 
Likes:  There was so much that I liked about this book!  As I'm sure is obvious from past reviews, I really love this series.  I loved that in this book, we got to know Alex and Matthew's children better and got to watch them become adults and deal with grown up issues.  I would like to see more of Mark; he seemed to get lost among all of his other siblings and I think he has the potential to be a really good character.  There was a lot going on but Ms. Belfrage did a good job of making it a smooth and cohesive story. There was a lot of drama in this installment as the Grahams encounters with the Burleys become more frequent and more violent.  I'm ready to see the Burleys get what's coming to them.  Blech, they are just plain awful human beings.  There was a HUGE cliffhanger at the end and it will be really interesting to see what happens with that.

Characters:  I swear I love Ian more and more with every book.  He is coming into his own as one of the primary characters and I just can't help but like him.  Luke made a couple of appearances in this book and was almost tolerable; I enjoyed his interactions with Jacob but his baiting of Simon reminded me that he is still scum.  I seriously think he needs to be punched for what he did at the end of the book!

Dislikes:  There was a big revelation regarding Margaret, Matthew's former wife, but other than the revelation itself, the story didn't go into much detail about it (who, what, when, where, how).  Maybe more will be revealed in future books? I want to know more!

Overall:  I have to give Ms. Belfrage so much credit for keeping this story fresh.  This is the fifth book in the series and it was still as good as the first.  I can't wait to see what the next book will bring. 4 stars.

Be sure to stop by on April 8 for a guest post by Anna Belfrage!!

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

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.  You can also find her on Facebook or follow her on Twitter.

 Check out other stops on the tour here!
Follow the tour on twitter:  #SerpentsintheGardenTour


Wednesday, April 2, 2014

March Wrap Up

Why is time going by so fast?!  I can't believe March is over.  Before I know it, June will be here and Julia will be turning 1!  Everything needs to slow down a little.

March was a really good reading month for me.  I read 8 (!) books which is a lot for me these days.  I have now read 19 books total for the year so I am well on my way to making my goal of 50 books for the year.  I may end up raising my goal but I am going to wait a while before I do that.  I don't want to overwhelm myself.

I only read one book this month that I own, the rest were library books and review books.  I happened to glance at my bookshelves recently and was reminded that there are quite a few books I own that I want to read.  So I think I am going to start alternating between library books, review books and books I own (either in print or electronic version).  Otherwise, I will just keep reading everything but the books I own (I don't know why I do this!).


Here is what I read this month:

1.) Queen Elizabeth's Daughter by Anne Clinard Barnhill
2.) The Collector of Dying Breaths by MJ Rose (review will post 4/18)
3.) The Morning Star by Robin Bridges
4.) The Secret Daughter of the Tsar by Jennifer Laam
5.) The Queen's Rivals by Brandy Purdy
6.) Serpents in the Garden by Anna Belfrage (review will post 4/3)
7.) Alienated by Melissa Landers
8.) The Midwife's Confession Diane Chamberlain
 
Imagination Designs