Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Book Spotlight: "Castles, Customs, and Kings"

02_by Castles, Customs, & Kings (Vol II)

Castles, Customs, and Kings: True Tales by English Historical Fiction Authors (Volume 2)
Publication Date: September 30, 2015
Madison Street Publishing
Hardcover, Paperback, eBook; 598 Pages

Genre: History

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An anthology of essays from the second year of the English Historical Fiction Authors blog, this book transports the reader across the centuries from prehistoric to twentieth century Britain. Nearly fifty different authors share the stories, incidents, and insights discovered while doing research for their own historical novels.

From medieval law and literature to Tudor queens and courtiers, from Stuart royals and rebels to Regency soldiers and social calls, experience the panorama of Britain’s yesteryear. Explore the history behind the fiction, and discover the true tales surrounding Britain's castles, customs, and kings.

Visit the English Historical Fiction Authors blog & Facebook page.

"Thoroughly enjoyable and diverse...leisure reading for any history fan." - Elizabeth Chadwick, on Castles, Customs, and Kings (Volume 1)


Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, November 16
Review at Oh, for the Hook of a Book!
Spotlight at Unshelfish

Tuesday, November 17
Review at Kinx's Book Nook

Wednesday, November 18
Review at One Book Shy of a Full Shelf

Thursday, November 19
Review at Unabridged Chick

Friday, November 20
Review at With Her Nose Stuck In A Book

Saturday, November 21
Spotlight at The Reading Queen

Monday, November 23
Review at A Chick Who Reads
Spotlight at HF Connection

Tuesday, November 24
Spotlight at So Many Books, So Little Time

Wednesday, November 25
Review at Broken Teepee

Thursday, November 26
Spotlight at A Literary Vacation

Friday, November 27
Review at Bookish
Spotlight at Let Them Read Books

Saturday, November 28
Spotlight at Passages to the Past

Monday, November 30
Review at Impressions In Ink
Review at CelticLady's Reviews
Review at The True Book Addict

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Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Book Blast: "The Persian Woman" by Thomas Booker

02_The Persian WomanPublication Date: September 2, 2015
Circle B Publishing LLC
eBook; 229 Pages

Genre: Literary/Mystery/Thriller

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A tough Navy SEAL and a beautiful Persian woman clash before working together to confront a ferocious common enemy. It is a tale of jihad, terror, and forbidden love. A Jeffrey Quinn novel.

“I stayed up late reading this book a second time. I read it first for the intriguing story and the second time for the wonderful language. Mr. Booker has crafted a timely and compelling story filled with a cast of characters from the slimy to the sublime. I would like to have a friend like the main character, Jeffrey Quinn . . . a man with a past and his own demons . . . honest . . . loyal . . . .” -Rebecca K. McWhorter (5 Star Amazon Review)


About the Author

03_Thomas BookerSoldier of fortune Thomas Booker has traveled widely in Europe, Africa, and Latin America. He currently is helping to build a children’s clinic in South East Asia. He resides in Texas.

Book Blast Schedule

November 4
Book Nerd

November 12
Boom Baby Reviews

November 16
A Book Geek

December 29
Broken Teepee


To win an eBook of The Persian Woman please enter using the GLEAM form below. 20 eBooks are up for grabs!


– Giveaway ends at 11:59pm EST on December 31st. You must be 18 or older to enter.
– Giveaway is open internationally.
– Only one entry per household.
– All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspect of fraud is decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion
– Winner has 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.


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Monday, November 16, 2015

Mini Reviews (11)

This was the strangest book I have read in a long time.  I'm still not one hundred percent sure I understood the whole thing.  I expected it to be a lot scarier and while there were creepy parts, it really wasn't scary at all.  It was just really weird!  I feel like I'm still trying to process what happened.  I will say that it was well-written and was a quite the page turner; it just ended very strangely and I didn't feel like I had all my questions answered.  I'm giving this 3 stars as a neutral rating because I can't decide if I liked or disliked this book.

I'll start by saying that I didn't dislike this book but I was disappointed in it.  It seemed like there was a lot of hype surrounding it and I just thought it fell flat.  The story did suck me in and keep me interested but most of the characters were not likable at all so it was hard to relate to anyone or feel sympathetic to them.  Also, throughout the whole story, I knew there was going to be a big twist at the end and when it was revealed, it made me really mad.  I really couldn't believe that was the direction the story took and it made dislike one of the characters even more. 3 stars.  

I really love reading about Russian history!  One Night in Winter is set in Stalinist Russia at the very end of World War II.  It's an interesting look at the world of the elites in Russia at that time and showed how, no matter where you stood in the hierarchy, you could be brought down by the Stalinist machine.  There was a beautiful romance as well as a lot of heartache.  I knew this book wouldn't have the happiest of endings but it was still a really good book.  4 stars.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Cowboys and Christmas Blog Tour: Guest post by Shanna Hatfield

I'm so excited to welcome Shanna Hatfield to the blog today!  I recently read her book, The Christmas Bargain, and absolutely loved it!  (review here)


Welcome to the 2nd annual

Blog Tour!
Raising funds and awareness for the Justin Cowboy Crisis Fund

Ring in the Holidays with a Helping Hand
JCCF logoNovember 1 through Dec. 24,  10 percent of the net proceeds from all Shanna Hatfield book sales will be donated to the Justin Cowboy Crisis Fund. The JCCF is a non-profit organization that assists rodeo athletes who’ve sustained catastrophic injuries and are unable to work for an extended period. Every book purchased during this promotional period adds to the donation total. Don't forget to add books to your Christmas lists!

 Thank you, Krista, for hosting me today! It's so fun to be stop here on my blog tour this week.

inspired you to write the Rodeo Romance Series?
always loved rodeos. After my husband and I attended the Wrangler National
Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas, I knew I had to write a series about the sport. It’s
a bonus I’m able to tie in something I enjoy so much into a wonderful cause
like the Justin Cowboy Crisis Fund.

the series about?
Redemption. Love. It’s about never giving up, building inner strength, and
giving love a chance. Of course, there are hunky cowboy and feisty women, but
it’s much more than that. Due to the wound from her past, Kenzie is afraid to
trust anyone, particularly a cowboy, with her heart.  Kaley’s never been the most important person
to anyone, except her son. The process of opening her heart to love is new
experience for her. Celia is incredibly stubborn and independent. It’s hard for
her to accept the idea of falling in love. Despite their flaws, they all hold
hope close to their hearts as they learn about love.

made you decide to make this as a holiday series?
A large part of
that decision came from our fun experiences at the NFR and being in Las Vegas
in December. It’s a great way to get into the holiday spirit. I incorporate a
lot of the elements we’ve enjoyed into the story.

us a little about you’re the men in these stories.

Morgan is a talented saddle bronc rider determined to be the next world
champion in The Christmas Cowboy. The attraction he
feels for Kenzie Beckett the first time he sees her at the airport catches him
by surprise. Although he tries to ignore his interest in the beautiful woman,
he flirts with her every chance he gets and finally asks her out when they end
up in the same town on weekend.

is about Cort McGraw. The steer wrestler is Tate’s best
friend and one of my favorite characters (Shhh! Don’t tell the others!) When
the story begins, Cort is trying to deal with the reality that he’s sustained a
career-ending injury and will never compete in rodeo again. Thanks to the
efforts of his sister, Celia, and Tate, Cort ends up on a run-down ranch with a
wounded widow and her silent son. As he helps bring the ranch back from the
brink of derelict status, he discovers a new purpose for his life in loving
Kaley and Jacob.

     Life is hectic on a good day for rodeo
stock contractor Kash Kressley in Capturing Christmas. Between dodging
flying hooves and babying cranky bulls, he barely has time to sleep. The last
thing Kash needs is the entanglement of a sweet romance, especially with a
woman as full of fire and sass as Celia McGraw.

do you get the inspiration to write?
inspiration for sitting down every day and writing comes from the fact that I
love doing it and there is nothing else I’d rather be doing. I left my day job two
years ago to write full time, so this truly is my chosen career and source of

there anything else you’d like to share with my readers?
 Thank you
for hosting me today. I’m so grateful for this wonderful opportunity to connect
with your readers. I hope those who enjoy historical fiction, sweet romances, or
a good western, will consider reading my 

New Releases
To kick off the second annual Cowboys and Christmas Blog Tour and the JCCF campaign,
 two brand new holiday romances will release Nov. 12! 

Capturing Christmas
Cover Capturing Christmas is the third installment in the sweet holiday western Rodeo Romance series.

 Life is hectic on a good day for rodeo stock contractor Kash Kressley. Between dodging flying hooves and babying cranky bulls, he barely has time to sleep. The last thing Kash needs is the entanglement of a sweet romance, especially with a woman as full of fire and sass as the redheaded photographer he rescues at a rodeo.

Determined to capture the best images possible, rodeo photographer Celia McGraw is fearless and feisty. Not one to back down from a challenge, her biggest risk isn’t in her work. Danger lurks in the way her heart responds to one incredibly handsome stock contractor. Will Kash and Celia capture the spirit of the season?

Get all three books in the Rodeo Romance series!

The Christmas Vow
CoverThe Christmas Vow  is the fourth book in the Hardman Holidays sweet Victorian romance series.

Columbia River Pilot Adam Guthry returns to his hometown of Hardman, Oregon, after the sudden death of his best friend. Emotions he can’t contain bubble to the surface the moment he sees the girl who shattered his heart eleven years ago.

Widow Tia Devereux escapes her restrictive life in Portland, returning to the home she knew and adored as a girl in Hardman. She and her four-year-old son, Toby, settle into the small Eastern Oregon community, eager for the holiday season. Unfortunately, the only man she’s ever loved shows up, stirring the embers of a long-dead romance into a blazing flame. When her former father-in-law, a corrupt judge, decides he wants to raise Toby, Adam may be the only hope she has of keeping her son.
You can pre-order your copy today for only $2.99! http://amzn.to/1KQHhvI

Hardman-Holidays-block for
Don't miss out on the Hardman Holidays series!

Guest Author Sign

You’re Invited to PARTY!
You’re invited to join in the online Cowboys & Christmas Facebook Party, Thursday, Nov. 12 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 (many of the giveaways will stay open until the following morning)!

Here’s the link to the party: http://tinyurl.com/cowboychristmasparty2

The talented guest authors joining in the celebration include: 
10 a.m. - Carmen Peone 
12:30 - Rachel Rossano 
1:30 - Dani Harper

Grand Prize Photo

To enter the drawing for an Amazon gift card, Wrangler Tote Bag, Rock & Roll Cowgirl T-shirt, autographed books, chocolates, and more fun goodies, fill out this form. Winners will be randomly drawn and announced Nov. 16. http://tinyurl.com/cowboychristmasprizes2 

Where to Find The Books
The Christmas Cowboy Cover 
Start the Rodeo Romance Series with The Christmas Cowboy.
christmas bargain cover 
Travel back to a time of grandeur in the old west
with the Hardman Holidays series.
The Christmas Bargain begins the popular series
and is available free for a very limited time!

About Shanna Hatfield
Shanna Hatfield 2Convinced everyone deserves a happy ending, hopeless romantic Shanna Hatfield is out to make it happen, one story at a time. Her sweet historical and contemporary romances combine humor and heart-pumping moments with characters that seem incredibly real.
When she isn’t writing or indulging in chocolate (dark and decadent, please), Shanna hangs out with her husband, lovingly known as Captain Cavedweller.
This USA Today bestselling author is a member of Western Writers of America, Women Writing the West,  Romance Writers of America,  Sweet Romance Reads, and Pioneer Hearts.

  Find Shanna’s books at:


Shanna loves to hear from readers! Follow her online:

Make sure you sign up for her newsletter to get the latest on new releases and exclusive giveaways!

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Quick Review: "The Christmas Bargain" by Shanna Hatfield

From Goodreads:  Luke Granger is about to get more than he bargained for…

As owner and manager of the Hardman bank, Luke Granger is a man of responsibility and integrity in the small 1890s Eastern Oregon town. Calling in a long overdue loan, Luke finds himself reluctantly accepting a bargain in lieu of payment from the shiftless farmer who barters his daughter to settle his debt.

Philamena Booth is both mortified and relieved when her father sends her off with the banker as payment of his debt. Held captive on the farm by her father since the death of her mother more than a decade earlier, Philamena is grateful to leave. If only it had been someone other than the handsome and charismatic Luke Granger riding in to rescue her. Ready to uphold her end of the bargain as Luke’s cook and housekeeper, Philamena is prepared for the hard work ahead. What she isn’t prepared for is being forced to marry Luke as part of this crazy Christmas bargain.

My Thoughts:  I didn't know what to expect when I picked up The Christmas Bargain but I was pleasantly surprised by what a sweet story it turned out to be!  I typically shy away from Christian fiction but I was pleased with how that aspect of the story was handled; I didn't feel beat over the head with it and it was well-integrated into the story. 

Philamena and Luke are the cutest couple.  From the very first pages, it was clear that Luke was an upstanding character and I loved watching Philamena come out of her shell and really blossom throughout the story.  I really enjoyed reading as their romance softly and slowly came about.  One of my favorite scenes was that of their wedding day and seeing Luke realize that things weren't going to go the way he planned with their 'arrangement'.  I also really liked the secondary characters: Abby and Chauncy were great and Luke's parents were quite an interesting pair.

I read this over the summer but it definitely put me in the mood for the holidays!  Ms. Hatfield's descriptions of all the amazing meals that Philomena prepared left me with my mouth watering.  The Christmas Bargain is a delightful read and is a great way to get in the mood for the upcoming holiday season! 3 1/2 stars.

Be sure to stop by the blog tomorrow for a guest post by Ms. Shanna Hatfield, author of The Christmas Bargain!

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

Monday, November 9, 2015

Quick Review: "Esther" by Rebecca Kanner

From Goodreads:  A glittering Persian king has a vast empire that reaches farther than where the sun meets the horizon. He is bathed in riches and commands a frightening military force. He possesses power beyond any other mortal man and rules his kingdom as a god. Anything he desires, he has. Any woman he wants, he possesses. Thousands of them. Young virgins from all across his many lands.

A Jewish girl is ripped from her hut by the king’s brutish warriors and forced to march across blistering, scorched earth to the capitol city. Trapped for months in the splendid cage of the king’s palace, she must avoid the ire of the king’s concubines and eunuchs all while preparing for her one night with the king. Soon the fated night arrives, and she does everything in her power to captivate the king and become his queen.

But wearing the crown brings with it a new set of dangers. When a ruthless man plies the king’s ear with whispers of genocide, it is up to the young queen to prevent the extermination of the Jews. She must find the strength within to violate the king’s law, risk her life, and save her people.

This is a story of finding hidden depths of courage within one’s self. Of risking it all to stand up for what is right.

This is the story of Queen Esther.

My Thoughts:  I've been fascinated by Queen Esther ever since I first read about her in the Bible as a child.  This book tells the story of Esther from her capture throughout her life as queen.  Ms. Kanner's Esther is a fighter who is determined to survive against all odds.  Because of this determination as well as her intelligence, she is able to catch the eye of the king who makes her his queen almost immediately.  

I loved Ms. Kanner's description of life inside Xerxes' palace.  Her descriptions are magnificent; I just imagined a world where everything glittered.  I would also say that she writes some pretty good villains.  Haman and his family were vile, nasty and cruel; the lengths they went to in order to curry favor and gain power were horrible.  However, I liked that Esther was able to outsmart them without resorting to the kinds of dark deeds Haman and his brood utilized.

I will say that this story made me kind of sad.  Esther was in love with someone who she could never be with and it was painful to watch her and Erez grapple with their feelings and the circumstances that kept them apart.  There were also other areas where her life didn't work out the way she planned and it was incredibly heart-breaking (I don't want to give anything away).  

Overall, this was an enjoyable look at the life of an amazing biblical figure.  3 stars.

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

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Mailbox Monday (53)

Hey y'all!  I'm linking up with Mailbox Monday this week!  
It's been a while since I've done one of these.  I got a lot of books this week and they're all books that I can't wait to dive into.

From the library (ebook):

From the Library (physical books):

For Review (from HFBVT/the author):

(To say I'm excited to read this is an understatement.)

Kindle First freebie:

What books did you get this week?  Leave your link in the comments so I can check out your stack!

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Book Blast and Giveaway: "They All Fall Down" by A.K. Mason

02_They All Fall DownPublication Date: September 12, 2015
Paperback; 433 Pages

Genre: Contemporary/Women's Fiction

Add to GR ButtonFor her entire life, Alexandra Kramer has been checking a series of boxes. Trapped by the expectations of everyone else around her, she’s made good grades, married the right guy, and secured a place at the prestigious Harvard Business School.

But in the chaos of the 2008 financial crisis, Alex suddenly finds herself running into the fire, instead of seeking a safe haven from the flames. Ditching her Ivy League plans, she becomes dedicated to showing she has what it takes in the high-stakes, fast-paced boys’ club of Wall Street trading, as she forges her own path for the first time in her life.

As these volatile changes drive her husband Jamie into his own crisis, Alex is forced to examine the choices she’s made—as she’s torn between her traditional role as wife, and the exciting, Wild West appeal of the trading floor.

When her two worlds suddenly collide, it becomes clear the institutions she once believed in so strongly are more flawed than she ever imagined—and when everything comes crumbling down, it’s up to Alex to decide for herself what’s worthy of putting back together.


*Kindle eBook on Sale for $.99, now through November 9th!

About the Author

03_A.K. MasonA. K. Mason is a graduate of Harvard College, who deferred her acceptance to Harvard Business School on three different occasions in favor of working on Wall Street. As a bond trader from 2007 to 2013, she experienced the financial crisis first-hand, and was on the trading desk as Lehman Brothers underwent bankruptcy.

In 2013, Mason earned her MBA from New York University’s Stern School of Business and left Wall Street to build a fitness technology and media business. She currently resides in Washington, DC, with her family.



AGCTo win a $50 Amazon Gift Card please enter using the GLEAM form below.


– Giveaway ends at 11:59pm EST on November 13th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
– Giveaway is open internationally.
– Only one entry per household.
– All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspect of fraud is decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion
– Winner has 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.


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Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Bookish (and Not So Bookish) Thoughts (14)

I'm linking up with Bookish (and Not So Bookish) Thoughts over at Bookishly Boisterous.

Trick-or-treating with grandma!
1.) We had so much fun on Halloween!  Julia was a Rockford Peach from 'A League of Their Own' and she was just too cute.  She can be pretty shy but she had so much fun trick-or-treating.  My mother-in-law lives in a very friendly neighborhood so everyone was handing out candy and there were kids everywhere.  It was great!

2.) I swore that, for the rest of the year, I would only read books I own.  Yeah...that lasted about two seconds.  I went to the library to drop some movies off and wound up having time to browse the shelves and ended up leaving with four books.  Oops.

3.) When I first finished grad school, I bought the first two Harry Potter books in Russian so I could practice my language skills.  Fast forward to many years later, I finally bought the rest of the series in Russian and plan to start reading them next year after I finish my English re-read this year.  I just don't feel like taking a Russian class this spring so I'm hoping this will be almost as helpful.

4.) I'm so excited for the holidays but am not excited for the complete financial drain that is the holidays.  I'm going to really try to keep spending to a minimum this year but it is so hard.  I've been terrible with my budget lately and need to get my act together since we're planning to buy a house this spring.

5.) I went to vote for Goodreads books of the year and realized that I have read very few of the books nominated.  A bunch of them are on my TBR list but I've maybe read 6-7 of all the books nominated.  I feel like a read a lot but maybe I just don't read enough brand new books.

6.) Halloween killed my diet.  I have to get back on track but we've been having a bunch of parties at work this week so it might not be until next week.  I'm still doing pretty good with my exercise though!  I really wish I could just eat all the time and not gain weight. (HA!)

Have a great week everyone!

Monday, November 2, 2015

October Wrap Up

 I hope you all had a wonderful Halloween!  We took Julia trick-or-treating for the first time and she had a blast!  It was really fun to watch her experience the holiday now that she's old enough to now what's going on.  Now bring on Thanksgiving and Christmas!

October was a good reading month for me.  I participated in Dewey's Read-A-Thon this month so that helped a lot.  I hit my goal of reading 80 books this year and have decided to raise it to 100.  I finished October with 9 books read in the month and 84 books read for the year which is 2 more than I read in the whole year last year. If I can read 8 books per month for the rest of the year, I will hit 100.

I'm also going to try something new for November and December.  I'm going to try to just read books I own for the rest of the year.  I do have two books on hold at the library and two review books to read but otherwise I want to solely read books I own (whether ebook or physical).  I really need to purge my shelves so I'm hoping this will help.

Here are my October numbers:
-9 books read
   -1 non-fiction
   -2 historical fiction
   -2 review books
   - 3 library books
   -4 books I own
   -6 ebooks

Here are the books I read:

1.) The Secret Servant by Daniel Silva - 3 stars
2.) The Silent Girls by Eric Rickstad - 3 stars
3.) Raising Your Spirited Child by Mary Sheedy Kurcinka -5 stars
4.) A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle - 4 stars
5.) Medici's Daughter by Sophie Perinot - 3 stars
6.) The Three by Sarah Lotz - 3 stars
7.) Spirit of the Highway by Deborah Swift - 3stars
8.) The Good Girl by Mary Kubica - 3 stars
9.) Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling - 4 stars

I hope you all have a great week!
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