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Thursday, February 28, 2013

Review: Jane Austen's World by Maggie Lane

Title: Jane Austen's World
Author: Maggie Lane
Format: Hardcover
Publisher: Carleton Books
Publish Date: August 1, 1997
Source: I received a copy from the PR; however, this did not affect my review.


Why You're Reading This Book:

  • You're a Jane Austen fan!
What's the Story?:

From Goodreads.com: "Jane Austen's World gives readers a unique, behind-the-scenes look at the life and times of one of England's most loved authors. Not only does it offer fascinating biographical background -- her life, her family and friends, her sources, her interests and enthusiasms -- but it captures her times -- from the great issues of politics and war of Regency England to the cultural environment that helped shape her work.Her six novels -- Sense and Sensibility, Pride and Prejudice, Mansfield Park, Emma, Northanger Abbey, and Persuasion -- have charmed generations of readers with their wit and romance, with a dramatic growth in popularity over the past few years. With over 150 illustrations and photographs, this wonderful introduction to Jane Austen's life will delight anyone who has enjoyed her books."

My Two Cents: 

2013 is the year that we celebrate the 200th year anniversary of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice (how crazy is that?). "Jane Austen's World" is a re-release just in time for this celebration. Many of us know all about Ms. Austen's stories. They've been read and dissected and read and dissected some more for the past two centuries but how many of us know a whole lot about Jane Austen herself? If you are anything like me, the answer is almost nothing. This book seeks to fill this void.

Want to know what Jane Austen's life was like in her small English town? Want to know what other people's lives were like during the same time? Want to know what our beloved Ms. Austen did in her spare time? This book has the answers to all of these questions and more. After reading this book, I feel like I have a much better understanding of and a much better appreciation for Ms. Austen. I always like to see where authors drew their inspirations for various books so it was interesting to see where Austen drew the inspiration for books that are still so popular today.

This book is also chock full of pictures of so many different things related to Austen. There are pictures of what she and her relations might have looked like. There are pictures of her houses. There are even some pictures of some of the movie and television adaptations that have been done of her books. I loved that!

Bottom line: This would be a great book for anyone who already loves Austen and wants to get to know her better. It would also be a good book for those who are less familiar with Austen and her works as well.


  

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Review: Rage Against the Dying Light by Jan Surasky

Title: Rage Against the Dying Light
Author: Jan Surasky
Format: Hardcover
Publisher: Sandalwood Press
Publish Date: June 1, 2012
Source: I received a copy from the PR; however, this did not affect my review.






Why You're Reading This Book:

  • You're a historical fiction fan.
  • You know some about Celtic history already.
What's the Story?:

From Goodreads.com: "Few woman warriors are more storied than Boudicca, the fierce redheaded queen who, in the first century A.C.E., led the most celebrated Celtic rebellion in history. Here, for the first time, Jan Surasky imagines Boudicca's enthralling story of bravery and triumph from the Celtic perspective. In her extensively researched, vividly told novel, Boudicca bursts to life asnever before in all her bold passion, brazen courage and heroic glory. After a carefree childhood, Boudicca is wed to a much older king. Then, her world turns dark. Romans invade the island, taking slaves, publicly humiliating Boudicca and assualting her two young daughters. Betrayed and outraged, Boudicca leads thousands of warriors into an epic battle to avenge her daughters and rid her beloved island of Roman tyranny. Grand in scope and intimate in detail, this beautifully written novel resonates with the queen's indomitable spirit, placing her alongside no lesser woman warrior than Joan of Arc herself."

My Two Cents:

"Rage Against the Dying Light" is the story of Boudicca, the warrior queen who led her people to victory. She is a well known figure of Celtic history, a people that I really just don't know much about at all, which may have been part of some of the issues that I had with this book. I was not familiar at all with Boudicca at all before this book.

Boudicca's story is definitely interesting and this book was definitely well researched. It's a relatively short book (not much over 200 pages) and the book goes very fast with little explanation about the culture of the Celtic people and all of the various tribes that appear in the book. I think someone that had a better background in Celtic history might get more out of this book than I did. I had to look up so many different things because there was no explanation within the book. It was very confusing to me.

It was also really hard to keep track of how far apart all of the different events in the book happened. I really like when historical fiction books have clear markings as to when events are happening. For example, dates at the beginning of the chapter or something to give the story some sort of chronological context.

The writing in the book is very good and is definitely what kept me reading. I really wish that there had been more detail and story building so that I could understand more about Boudicca and her accomplishments.


  

Waiting on Wednesday!

"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted at Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.





What are you waiting for?  

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Review: Bicoastal Babe by Cynthia Langston

Title: Bicoastal Babe
Author: Cynthia Langston
Format: Paperback
Publisher: NAL Trade
Publish Date: June 6, 2006
Source: I received a copy from the PR; however, this did not affect my review.






Why You're Reading This Book:

  • You're a fiction fan.
  • You're a chick-lit fan.
  • You're an armchair traveler.
What's the Story?:

From Goodreads.com: "A stylish debut novel that asks: How many frequent flyer miles does it take to land Mr. Right?

Not exactly what you'd call a goddess of cutting edge culture, Lindsey Miller is shocked when she's offered the über-hip job of writing "The Pulse," a newsletter that tracks white-hot trends in everything from fashion to cosmetics to entertainment. Before long, Lindsey finds herself on a whirlwind bicoastal romp as she jet-sets between New York and Los Angeles, fumbling to uncover what's cool today-and what will be the next big thing tomorrow.

The grit and glamour of Manhattan is electrifying -and so is Victor Ragsdale, the slick Wall Street broker who charms her with his street-smart savvy manner. But the warmth and sunshine of L.A. is bliss-and so is Danny Wynn, the dreamy blonde surfer who sweeps her into his strong, suntanned arms.

Lindsey's two lives are both so exciting-and both so different. But disaster strikes when her evil trend-spotting partner begins to expose Lindsey for what she really is: tragically un-hip and only one dirty martini away from being found out and fired."


My Two Cents:

"Bicoastal Babe" is the type of book that you want to read when you're ready for a mental vacation. It's a fairly fast read but is still super engaging and oh so much fun! I was ready for a little book vacation and this book was just perfect to that end!

In "Bicoastal Babe," Lindsey Miller lands a dream job, which sounds pretty darn good to me. She basically gets to make a living checking out the hottest restaurants and openings to find the next big thing. She gets to spend half a month in NYC and half the month in L.A. It sounds like it could be a really fun job for at least awhile. It's a chance for Lindsey to get away from her old life and to create a new one or two new ones as it were.

Lindsey is a very well written character. Ms. Langston succeeded in making her both likeable and real. She doesn't always make the best decisions (the parts where she skips out on the new job to hang out with the stockbroker in NYC made me want to shake her. Why would you do that with a brand new job or any job really? Seriously?). On the other hand, you want to root for her because of some of the other things that happen in the book (some of the work things that happen to her would be pretty tough to deal with). I think it had to have been pretty hard to write a character like that! Lindsey's character was definitely a stand out for me in this book!

Bottom line: This book will appeal to readers who like interesting characters, a little bit of armchair traveling, and are looking for a fun, light read.


  

Tuesday Memes!


Top Ten Tuesday is hosted at The Broke and the Bookish

This week's topic is Top Ten Authors That I'd Put On My Auto-Buy List (basically an auto-buy list is no questions asked..you love this author so much that no matter what they wrote next you'd buy regardless of genre or subject matter):

These are in no particular order. All of these authors are absolutely fantastic! (I'm a total fangirl):

'Cause I can't! Seriously!


  1. David Sedaris
  2. Augusten Burroughs
  3. Khaled Hosseini
  4. Isabel Allende
  5. Stephanie Perkins
  6. Jodi Picoult  
  7. Haruki Murakami
  8. Gabriel Garcia Marquez
  9. Jen Lancaster
  10. Megan McCafferty
Ugh, there's at least another dozen people that could go on this list!

Who would be on your list?

First Chapter First Paragraph is hosted by Bibliophile by the Sea
 

 

"Perspective. I need to get perspective. It's not an earthquake or a crazed gunman or a nuclear meltdown, is it? On the scale of disasters, this is not huge. Not huge. One day I expect that I'll look back at this moment and laugh and think, Haha, how silly I was to worry- "
 
Would you keep reading?

    
 

Monday, February 25, 2013

Review: The Very First Bite by Cynthia Langston

Title: The Very First Bite
Author: Cynthia Langston
Format: Paperback
Publisher: Self-published
Publish Date: August 20, 2012
Source: I received a copy from the PR; however, this did not affect my review.






Why You're Reading This Book:

  • You're a fiction fan.
  • You like chick-lit.
  • You're looking for a light read.
What's the Story?:

From Goodreads.com: "The Very First Bite chronicles the toils and triumphs of Lanie Albers, who has just ten weeks to mentally and physically prepare for the ultimate day of reckoning: her high school class reunion.

With twenty pounds of extra weight, a dead-end job and a boyfriend who won’t commit, the prospect of revisiting old classmates has Lanie reeling with panic. Not to mention the loose ends she’ll finally have to face, like Chad, her first love, for whom she suspects she might still have feelings. And Candace, her lifelong best friend, who abruptly ended their friendship seven years ago with no explanation.

By examining the ghosts of her past, Lanie begins to prepare for the revelations and confrontations of the big night. She also launches a desperate campaign to lose weight: an uproarious battle with fad diets and disastrous workouts, most of which lead her right back to the cookie jar."


My Two Cents:

Oh, the high school reunion! For some people, just hearing those words can put your mind into overdrive. This is exactly what happens to Lanie. She's thinking about the person that she used to be in high school. She's thinking about her crushes and her best friend from high school that stayed her best friend through college and then suddenly seemed to walk out of her life for seemingly no reason.

"The Very First Bite" follows Lanie through the months prior to her high school reunion. This year will be my ten year high school reunion (where the heck does the time go???) and I loved reading about some of Lanie's thoughts as she goes into going to her reunion. Some of it resonated with me and some of it did not (thank goodness but more on that later). It's a fast read with a good dose of fun.

So part of the book had to do with Lanie's feelings about going to the reunion and reuniting with the people of her past. The other part has to do with how Lanie is feeling and looking going into her reunion. Lanie is worried about the weight that she has gained but she's by no means fat. She tries just about every fad diet in the book, which annoyed me. Why not just eat healthy and exercise? Any diet that requires you to eat a special diet cookie is probably really bad for you (not to mention gross! Just imagine how many chemicals there must be in there!). I didn't like these parts of the book at all. Yes, I understand wanting to lose weight. I totally get that. I wish that I could be as fit as I was in high school but that would mean going back to swimming 5-6 times a week (ain't gonna happen these days). Lanie's obsessing just got a little grating.

I liked the whole story line about Lanie's crush and her best friend. There is a great twist that I did not see coming. I love being surprised!

Bottom line: A great book for when you want a light read!


  

Mailbox Monday!


Welcome to Mailbox Monday, a meme started by Marcia and hosted by Audra of Unabridged Chick this month. 





Gifted (from a very sweet friend who shares my love of books. Books are the best gifts, people!):

Key of Light by Nora Roberts
Key of Knowledge by Nora Roberts
Key of Valor by Nora Roberts
Chocolat by Joanne Harris

For Review:

The Chalice by Nancy Bilyeau
Margaret Fuller by Megan Marshall
Rocamora by Donald Michael Platt
House of Rocamora by Donald Michael Platt

What was in your mailbox?

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Review: Burning Embers by Hannah Fielding

Title: Burning Embers
Author: Hannah Fielding
Format: Paperback
Publisher: Omnific
Publish Date: April 2012
Source: I received a copy from the author; however, this did not affect my review.


Why You're Reading This Book:
  • You're a historical fiction fan.
  • You're a romance fan.
  • You're an armchair traveler.
What's the Story?:

From Goodreads.com: "Coral Sinclair is a beautiful but naive twenty-five-year-old photographer who has just lost her father. She's leaving the life she's known and traveling to Kenya to take ownership of her inheritance--the plantation that was her childhood home--Mpingo. On the voyage from England, Coral meets an enigmatic stranger to whom she has a mystifying attraction. She sees him again days later on the beach near Mpingo, but Coral's childhood nanny tells her the man is not to be trusted. It is rumored that Rafe de Monfort, owner of a neighboring plantation and a nightclub, is a notorious womanizer having an affair with her stepmother, which may have contributed to her father's death. Circumstance confirms Coral's worst suspicions, but when Rafe's life is in danger she is driven to make peace. A tentative romance blossoms amidst a meddling ex-fianc, a jealous stepmother, a car accident, and the dangerous wilderness of Africa. Is Rafe just toying with a young woman's affections? Is the notorious womanizer only after Coral's inheritance? Or does Rafe's troubled past color his every move, making him more vulnerable than Coral could ever imagine? Set in 1970, this contemporary historical romance sends the seemingly doomed lovers down a destructive path wrought with greed, betrayal, revenge, passion, and love."

My Two Cents:

"Burning Embers" tells the tale of Coral who returns to Kenya and to the beloved house where she grows up after she inherits the house after her father's death and only after her engagement totally falls apart. On her journey to Kenya, she meets a stranger who she is attracted to immediately (oh, insta-love). Once she gets to Kenya, she realizes that Rafe, the stranger she met on the boat, knows her step-mother and there might be something more to why he seems to be very interested in Coral and her newly acquired house, Mpingo.

My favorite part of the book is the setting. I don't get a chance to read a lot of books set in Africa so it's always a treat when I find a book that is set there. You all know that I love a good exotic location! I didn't know much about 1970s Kenya so it was really interesting to read about how much the country was changing. Fielding paints a really vivid picture of the country and the seaside town that Mpingo is in. You can picture what the landscape must look like. I could definitely see why Coral would want to stay there! My fellow armchair travelers will really enjoy this perspective.

I had a really hard time with the romance in this book. Rafe really never grew on me. Coral falls for him very quickly but it was really hard for me why she fell for him. He seems sort of full of himself and he is sort of a womanizer too but Coral seems to not think about any of that. Once Coral sort of figures out the mystery of why Rafe is always hanging around, why he painted pictures of her before they ever met, and why all of the workers at Mpingo seem to deeply distrust him, she can't help but to feel like she's still attracted to him. Even when all those issues get cleared up, she is willing to leave everything she wanted for him but I still wanted to understand more about the why.

Overall: Begin for the promise of romance, stay and linger for the setting.


  

Friday, February 22, 2013

HF Virtual Book Tours Review and Giveaway: Thwarted Queen by Cynthia Sally Haggard

Title: Thwarted Queen
Author: Cynthia Sally Haggard
Format: Paperback
Publisher: Self-published
Publish Date: October 29, 2012
Source: HF Virtual Book Tour


Why You're Reading This Book:
  • You're a historical fiction fan.
What's the Story?:

From Goodreads.com: "THWARTED QUEEN is a portrait of a woman trapped by power, a marriage undone by betrayal, and a King brought down by fear.

Cecylee is the apple of her mother’s eye. The seventh daughter, she is the only one left unmarried by 1424, the year she turns nine. In her father’s eyes, however, she is merely a valuable pawn in the game of marriage. The Earl of Westmorland plans to marry his youngest daughter to 13-year-old Richard, Duke of York, who is close to the throne. He wants this splendid match to take place so badly, he locks his daughter up.

The event that fuels the narrative is Cecylee’s encounter with Blaybourne, a handsome archer, when she is twenty-six years old. This love affair produces a child (the “One Seed” of Book II), who becomes King Edward IV. But how does a public figure like Cecylee, whose position depends upon the goodwill of her husband, carry off such an affair? The duke could have locked her up, or disposed of this illegitimate son.

But Richard does neither, keeping her firmly by his side as he tries to make his voice heard in the tumultuous years that encompass the end of the Hundred Years War - during which England loses all of her possessions in France - and the opening phase of the Wars of the Roses. He inherits the political mantle of his mentor Duke Humphrey of Gloucester, and become’s the people’s champion. The rambunctious Londoners are unhappy that their country has become mired in misrule due to the ineptitude of a King prone to fits of madness. Nor are they better pleased by the attempts of the King’s French wife to maneuver herself into power, especially as she was responsible for England’s losses in France. But can Richard and Cecylee prevail? Everywhere, their enemies lurk in the shadows."


My Two Cents:

"Thwarted Queen" is the story of Cecylee, mother of Richard III (yes, the same one that was recently discovered to be buried under a car park) and a major player in the War of the Roses. Cecylee has always been a really fascinating historical figure to me. She was incredibly driven to make sure that her descendants ended up on England's throne but in the end, her drive and her habit of trouncing on people ends up making a lot of trouble for herself.

Because she's such a fascinating figure, I loved reading more about Cecylee. There are several other books that have recently come out about her recently (Queen by Right by Anne Easter Smith comes to mind). It's easy to see why so many people are so drawn to learning and writing about Cecylee. "Thwarted Queen" covers from her late childhood until the end of her life. The book gives a good picture of her life. I especially liked the beginning of the book where we get to see what Cecylee's life was like before the War of the Roses. It was interesting to see where she came from as well as how her marriage to Richard, the Duke of York, was arranged.

This book is divided up into several books, which I wish that I had known before I started reading the book. You don't find out that the book is really supposed to be broken into separate books until the author's note at the very end of the book. The books are laid out in chronological order but each of them have very different feelings and layouts, which was a little discombobulating when reading the books all together. I found the books told from Cecylee's first person point of view to be more compelling. The first book is the most story like. The other books are more telling rather than showing. There is a lot of rattling off of facts and dates and not a lot of story arc. I found myself wanting to know more about Cecylee's feelings about things.

Overall: An interesting read about Cecylee, the Duchess of York.
 



Giveaway:

Win a copy of Thwarted Queen (US only)! Fill out the form below!

 
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Don't Forget to Follow the Rest of the Tour:

Monday, February 11
Review at Griperang’s Bookmarks
Review & Giveaway at Luxury Reading

Tuesday, February 12
Review at The Book Garden

Wednesday, February 13
Review & Giveaway at Peeking Between the Pages

Thursday, February 14
Review at Flashlight Commentary

Friday, February 15
Review at Ageless Pages Reviews
Guest Post at Flashlight Commentary
Monday, February 18
Review at The Lit Bitch
Review & Giveaway at Confessions of an Avid Reader
Tuesday, February 19
Interview & Giveaway at The Lit Bitch
Wednesday, February 20
Review at A Book Geek
Thursday, February 21
Review at Psychotic State Book Reviews
Feature & Giveaway at The Maiden’s Court

Friday, February 22
Review & Giveaway at A Bookish Affair

Monday, February 25
Review at Oh, for the Hook of a Book!

Tuesday, February 26
Review at Kinx’s Book Nook
Interview & Giveaway at Oh, for the Hook of a Book!

Wednesday, February 27
Review at A Chick Who Reads
Thursday, February 28
Author Guest Post at A Chick Who Reads
Friday, March 1
Review at Sharon’s Garden of Book Reviews
 

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Booking Through Thursday!

Booking Through Thursday is hosted here

Today's question is: How often do you visit a library? Do you go to borrow books? Do research? Check out the multi-media center? Hang out with the friendly and knowledgeable staff? Are you there out of love or out of need?



I love, love, love the library! I always have. Heck, I'm trying to get a free night in a library like hotel just because I love being surrounded by books so much. It is probably one of my favorite places in the world. The library is the reason that I am not living in a refrigerator box somewhere due to lack of funds. The library has always allowed me to read as voraciously as I want without bankrupting myself (a major bonus, no?). I usually only go to browse for books but back in high school, college, and grad school, I did a lot of researching and studying at the library (you could not beat the quiet study rooms).

My library is quite small right now and isn't all that great. It's in sort of a run down mall until the new library opens this summer. I've seen plans for the new library and it looks amazing and is about a 5 minute drive from my house. I am counting down the days until the new library opens!

What say you?

Interview with Derek Birks

Today I am excited to welcome Derek Birks, author of Feud here to A Bookish Affair.






1. What was your research process like for "Feud?"

Research for me is a blend of two very different processes: factual research and site visits. For ‘Feud’ I started out with a fairly sound knowledge of the Wars of the Roses period so the factual research was all about the fine detail. Where possible, I did that on the internet but also used libraries to get hold of some sources. I spent a lot of time researching the battles because there were a great many of them between 1459 and 1461! One of the difficulties was often that so little is known about the battles and military historians are still arguing about some of them.

There is no substitute for going to the places you write about. The field visits really helped me to visualise the medieval world of ‘Feud’, especially where I used an actual place such as Ludlow. The fictional manor houses and castles used by the two feuding families are all based on actual sites that I’ve visited, photographed and studied in detail. Walking sites, especially battlefields, is a really useful way of understanding them but sometimes the experience becomes a little too real and I well remember getting soaked to the skin when I visited the site of Mortimer’s Cross.

2. So, I have to ask: what do you think of Richard III being found under a car park recently? Were you surprised that it was him?

I was surprised because from the start it all seemed so unlikely - a king turning up in a car park. It just doesn’t happen, does it? As a keen, but very inexperienced, archaeologist I was fascinated to follow how the dig went. I’ve always had a soft spot for Richard and felt that the “black legend” inspired by
Tudor propaganda must be flawed at least to some extent. Having said that, I admit that I find some apologists for Richard III a little overpowering. The man was no saint!

I don’t think this discovery will make much difference to the debate about Richard but it has certainly increased interest in him all around the world and as a history fan I think that must be a good thing.

3. Who is your favourite character from "Feud" and why?

Ah, this is a tough one because I’m so close to them all. I shouldn’t pick one really, they won’t like it! These characters have a life of their own, you know. When I first started the book Ned was the one who I expected to dominate the whole story - and he still does. But I must say I also enjoyed writing a lot of the minor characters such as Bagot, Mags and Felix.

I suppose if I had to choose one character, it would be Eleanor Elder. She’s not your typical late medieval woman, that’s for sure. She’s more of a force of nature - and she knows it. I love her directness, her courage and her loyalty. I also like the way she interacts with everyone else. She has a certain spark of life about her which sets her apart. She’s a hard character to write simply because she has to be different but yet still a product of her own time period. I’ve come up with many plot lines for her but most of them I discard because they would make her seem far too modern.

4. Can you tell us anything about what might be in store for the Elders in your future books?

Well, I don’t want to give too much away but the next book moves the story on several years to 1464 when the new Yorkist king is trying to stamp out the last traces of Lancastrian opposition in the north of England. The Elders face a new threat and Ned’s quarrel with the Earl of Warwick becomes even more serious. There will be plenty more fast-paced action and a lot of new characters are introduced - this will not surprise readers who noticed a heavy death toll in ‘Feud’! I’m hoping to release the second book in the summer.

After that I have plans for at least another two stories which will be set during the violent power struggle that took place in the crisis years of 1469-71. So there are a lot of ideas milling about for the future.

5. If you could bring 3 fictional characters with you to a deserted island, who would you bring and why?

Well there are rather a lot to choose from! On a deserted island I think I’d need a resourceful bunch so I’d take these three: Lisbeth from ‘The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo’ for her exceptional survival skills; Hawkeye from ‘The Last of the Mohicans’ for his bush craft and Bilbo Baggins from ‘Lord of the Rings’ not only because he’s a natural survivor but because hobbits value home comforts and I’m sure he’d be able to find some for me.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

HF Tours Virtual Tour Review and Giveaway: Romancing Olive by Holly Bush

Title: Romancing Olive
Author: Holly Bush
Format: Ebook
Publisher: Book Baby
Publish Date: November 1, 2011
Source: HF Virtual Tours


Why You're Reading This Book:
  • You're a historical fiction fan.
  • You're a romance fan.
  • You like character-driven stories.
What's the Story?:

From Goodreads.com: "In 1891, spinster librarian, Olive Wilkins, is shocked to learn of her brother’s violent death at a saloon gaming table and her sister-in-law’s subsequent murder, traveling far from her staid life to rescue her niece and nephew, now orphans. She arrives to find the circumstances of her brother’s life deplorable and her long held beliefs of family and tradition, shaken.

Accustomed to the sophistication of Philadelphia, Olive arrives in Spencer, Ohio, a rough and tumble world she is not familiar with, facing two traumatized children. Her niece and nephew, Mary and John, have been living with a neighboring farmer, widower Jacob Butler, the father of three young children of his own and a man still in pain from the recent loss of his wife.

Real danger threatens Olive and Mary and John while Jacob and his own brood battle the day-to-day struggles for survival. Will Olive and Jacob find the strength to fight their battles alone or together? Will love conquer the bitterness of loss and broken dreams?"


My Two Cents:

"Romancing Olive" is a historical fiction story that takes place in the late 1800s in the middle of America (Ohio specifically) that still was not really settled at that time. The story also has a really good dose of romance that I absolutely loved. I haven't read a lot of books set in this time period and I loved being able to explore it through this book.

I loved the characters in this book, especially the main characters, Olive and Jacob. This book is very much a character driven novel. Olive has no idea what sort of situation she's walking into when she goes to claim her niece and nephew after her brother's untimely death. She fully intends to take Mary and John back to her sophisticated city of Philadelphia where Olive believes that she will be able to give them a better life but fate has other plans. Olive is such a great character. For her time, she's very brave wanting to go out to Ohio and with so many of the things that she tries to do for Mary and John.

I also loved the romance in the book. I was really happy with the way that it ended. It's one of those endings that just makes you smile (who doesn't like a good and sweet happy ending?). It's definitely not love at first sight for Olive and Jacob. Jacob is still reeling from the death of his young wife. He's struggling to take care of his kids and he's too proud to admit that he needs help and that he might just be falling for Olive. There's a lot of twists and turns and complications and I loved following these characters through it all.

Overall: Historical fiction lovers will love this character driven novel.



Giveaway:

One lucky winner will win an ebook copy of "Romancing Olive" (International giveaway)!






   a Rafflecopter giveaway

Don't Forget to Follow the Rest of the Tour:

Monday, February 18
Review at nomadreader (Romancing Olive)
Giveaway at History Undressed
Tuesday, February 19
Review & Giveaway at Broken Teepee (Romancing Olive)
Wednesday, February 20
Review & Giveaway at A Bookish Affair (Romancing Olive)
Thursday, February 21
Review at Flashlight Commentary (Reconstructing Jackson)
Friday, February 22
Review at Adventures of an Intrepid Reader (Reconstructing Jackson)
Giveaway at A Writer’s Life: Working with the Muse
Monday, February 25
Review at So Many Books, So Little Time (Romancing Olive)
Review & Giveaway at The Life and Times of a Book Addict (Romancing Olive)
Tuesday, February 26
Giveaway at The Maiden’s Court
Wednesday, February 27
Review at The Musings of a Book Junkie (Reconstructing Jackson)
Thursday, February 28
Review at Book Drunkard (Reconstructing Jackson)
Friday, March 1
Interview at Tribute Books
Monday, March 4
Review & Giveaway at Let Them Read Books (Romancing Olive)
Tuesday, March 5
Review at Raging Bibliomania (Reconstructing Jackson)
Review at Griperang’s Bookmarks (Romancing Olive)
Wednesday, March 6
Giveaway at Layered Pages
Thursday, March 7
Review & Giveaway at Let Them Read Books (Reconstructing Jackson)
Friday, March 8
Review at Raging Bibliomania (Romancing Olive)
Review at The Novel Life (Romancing Olive)
Monday, March 11
Review at Griperang’s Bookmarks (Reconstructing Jackson)
Review at Books in the Burbs (Romancing Olive)
Interview & Giveaway at The Novel Life (Romancing Olive)
Tuesday, March 12
Review at Books in the Burbs (Reconstructing Jackson)
 

Waiting for Wednesday!

"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted at Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.





"She spent four years in a foreign prison for a crime she did not commit. Separated from her family, she was demonized by the international press and treated harshly by the Italian justice system, including disdainful police. She endured humiliation, injustice, and loneliness thousands of miles fromher home. Now, with intelligence, grace, and candor, Amanda Knox, the young American exchange student, tells the full story of her harrowing ordeal in Italy-alabyrinthine nightmare of crime and punishment, innocence and vindication-and-of the unwavering support of family and friends who tirelessly worked to see her win her freedom."

What are you waiting for? 

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

HF Book Tours Guest Post and Giveaway: B.N. Peacock

Today I'm excited to welcome B.N. Peacock, author of A Tainted Dawn, to A Bookish Affair.


Some time ago, an article in Writer’s Digest challenged the old saw “Write about things you know.” It took the position, “Don’t be afraid to write about things you like to know about instead.” I couldn’t agree more.

Passion, a Driving Force

There’s nothing wrong about writing about things one’s area of expertise. After all, the foundation blocks are there to build upon, and the amount of research needed is less. The time required to finish the project also may be considerably less—if the passion is there. If not, the task at hand, writing whatever the subject requires, can become a grind, dragging on for what seems forever.

Contrast this with the second view. I took this approach to writing A Tainted Dawn. True, I already knew something about the era in which it takes place, the period between 1789 and 1815. I’d cut my reading teeth on Jane Austin’s works, Tolstoy’s War and Peace, Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities, and C. S. Forester’s Hornblower series. Still, I was a long way from being an eighteenth century sailor, although I do admit to having a little of the revolutionary in me. Actually, I was and am a long way from being any kind of sailor, an armchair sailor, if you will. Not only that, I’m a woman writing in what is still mostly a man’s genre.

But I didn’t let these drawbacks stop me. Why? Because I madly love that era and wanted to write about it. Not as a naval expert, which I’m not, but as someone who’d bothered to become conversant with the navy of that period and its issues. I delved into books written in that period, not only about the navy, but also about the French army, which plays a role in my book, and will play an even greater role in the books to follows. I also wanted to bring into play the political themes driving the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars. Yes, the heady stuff of liberty, equality, and fraternity spurred badly clothed, hungry French soldiers to victory against overwhelming odds. But there also was realpolitik; the behind the scenes national plotting and scheming on an international scale that often made chess pieces of soldiers and sailors. Quite a workload to tackle!

Break the Workload into Bits

The task I’d set myself initially was daunting. However, I came to realize that I had to narrow the scope (one book at a time) and become more organized. (To be sure, I’m still working on these, but then, aren’t most of us in one way or another.) I’d exclusively concentrate on sailing ships, because mastering the technical details often made my head feel like it was about to explode. I even went so far as to take sailing lessons, to experience firsthand what the back and forth and downward plunge of boat under sail. Then I’d read about the experiences of those who made the sea their career and those who embraced revolution. Later still, I researched the political maneuvering of the times. Whenever possible, I traveled to the sites I mention in the book. This truly brought things into focus for me.

In the end, I could have written a several doctoral dissertations out of the material I found! Hard as all this was, though, I thoroughly enjoyed it. The more I read, the more I could relate to the time and the people in it. The better, too, I hope, I could make the era come alive for others.

Bringing It All Together

I suppose there can never be enough research. Fortunately or unfortunately, there comes a time to write. I found writing A Tainted Dawn similar to piecing together a puzzle. So many shapes and colors, how do they fit, where do they belong? Unlike most picture puzzles, however, I also found I had to omit many pieces. They simply wouldn’t all fit in one book. Frustrating, yes, but then information, like scenes, often is a matter of killing your darlings. Couldn’t I find a place for that one last detail about the woman’s march on Versailles? Or what about that interesting side note on life in rural Surrey? Drat! From having too little information, I went to having too much.

Therein lies the beauty of doing a series. I just might be able to cram, I mean use, the leftovers in the next book. And if I don’t? I’ve still more than enough residual passion to motivate me to learn more!

Giveaway:

Today I'm pleased to be able to giveaway a copy of A Tainted Dawn (open internationally)!


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Don't Forget to Follow the Rest of the Tour:

Tuesday, January 29
Review & Giveaway at Broken Teepee
Review & Giveaway at Unabridged Chick

Wednesday, January 30
Interview & Giveaway at The Maiden’s Court

Thursday, January 31
Review at A Book Geek

Friday, February 1
Review at Book Dilettante

Monday, February 4
Review at The Novel Life
Review at Confessions of an Avid Reader

Tuesday, February 5
Guest Post at Confessions of an Avid Reader

Wednesday, February 6
Review at The Worm Hole
Review at Kinx’s Book Nook
Thursday, February 7
Review & Giveaway at Flashlight Commentary

Monday, February 11
Interview at Bibliophilic Book Blog

Tuesday, February 12
Giveaway at A Writer’s Life: Working with the Muse
Wednesday, February 13
Review at BookRamblings
Thursday, February 14
Review at Jenny Loves to Read
Review at CelticLady’s Reviews
Friday, February 15
Review at The Written World & Historical Tapestry
Monday, February 18
Review at A Bookish Affair
Tuesday, February 19
Review at Impressions in Ink
Guest Post & Giveaway at A Bookish Affair
Wednesday, February 20
Review at Words and Peace
Thursday, February 21
Giveaway at Words and Peace
Friday, February 22
Review & Giveaway at The True Book Addict
 

First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros

First Chapter First Paragraph is hosted by Bibliophile by the Sea
 
 
 "Lisa knew when she had been beaten. 
 
The phone had been ringing through the the door of her apartment. 'Hi Mom,' she'd said as she picked it up. No one ever called her landline except for her mother. 'What's up?' " 

Monday, February 18, 2013

HF Tours Review: A Tainted Dawn: The Great War by B.N. Peacock

Title: A Tainted Dawn: The Great War
Author: B.N. Peacock
Format: Paperback
Publisher: Fireship Press
Publish Date: March 1, 2012
Source: HF Virtual Tours



Why You're Reading This Book:

  • You're a historical fiction fan
What's the Story?:

From Goodreads.com: "August 1789. The Rights of Man. Liberty. Equality. Idealism. Patriotism. A new age dawns. And yet, old hostilities persist: England and Spain are on the brink of war. France, allied by treaty with Spain, readies her warships. Three youths - the son of an English carpenter, the son of a naval captain, and the son of a French court tailor - meet in London, a chance encounter that entwines their lives ever after. The English boys find themselves on the same frigate bound for the Caribbean. The Frenchman sails to Trinidad, where he meets an even more zealous Spanish revolutionary. As diplomats in Europe race to avoid conflict, war threatens to explode in the Caribbean, with the three youths pitted against each other. Will the dawn of the boys' young manhood remain bright with hope? Or will it become tainted with their countrymen's spilled blood? ..".compelling characters and an exciting plot... Much like the Hornblower series, A Tainted Dawn demands sequels. Let's hope B. N. Peacock is already hard at work on the next volume " Former U. S. Naval Officer Carl Jensen, Ph.D. Director, Center for Intelligence & Security Studies University of Mississippi"

My Two Cents:

"A Tainted Dawn" tells the story of three young men leaving home for the first time during the late 1700s when the world, especially Europe and the Americas, are rapidly changing. It is the first book in a planned series, which to my understanding, will continue to follow the characters from this book in their future journeys on the high seas.

Each of the young men come from very different backgrounds and while they pass by each other on their different journeys, there isn't really a lot of dealings between them all, which I thought could be really interesting since they are all from such different backgrounds. Out of the three main characters, I found Edward's story to be the most compelling. I liked all of the characters but Edward's story was the most interesting to me. I wish that the book had focused more on his story. He is from a very rich family but wants to get away from that life so he joins up with a boat and tries hard to just be one of the guys with the other men on the boat, who are all from lower class backgrounds. Edward can't quite fit in as ship life is pretty dismal.

The historical detail in this book is pretty good. This time period to me is so interesting. The world was changing at a rapid pace and people had to either move with the world or get left far behind. One of the other characters in the book, Louis, gets involved with some of the uprisings during the French Revolution and gets to see first hand how much things are changing.

Overall: This is an interesting book about three young men in a evolving world.






Follow the Rest of the Tour:


Tuesday, January 29
Review & Giveaway at Broken Teepee
Review & Giveaway at Unabridged Chick

Wednesday, January 30
Interview & Giveaway at The Maiden’s Court

Thursday, January 31
Review at A Book Geek

Friday, February 1
Review at Book Dilettante

Monday, February 4
Review at The Novel Life
Review at Confessions of an Avid Reader

Tuesday, February 5
Guest Post at Confessions of an Avid Reader

Wednesday, February 6
Review at The Worm Hole
Review at Kinx’s Book Nook
Thursday, February 7
Review & Giveaway at Flashlight Commentary

Monday, February 11
Interview at Bibliophilic Book Blog

Tuesday, February 12
Giveaway at A Writer’s Life: Working with the Muse
Wednesday, February 13
Review at BookRamblings
Thursday, February 14
Review at Jenny Loves to Read
Review at CelticLady’s Reviews
Friday, February 15
Review at The Written World & Historical Tapestry
Monday, February 18
Review at A Bookish Affair
Tuesday, February 19
Review at Impressions in Ink
Guest Post & Giveaway at A Bookish Affair
Wednesday, February 20
Review at Words and Peace
Thursday, February 21
Giveaway at Words and Peace
Friday, February 22
Review & Giveaway at The True Book Addict

  

Mailbox Monday!


Welcome to Mailbox Monday, a meme started by Marcia and hosted by Audra of Unabridged Chick this month. 
 

 


For Review:

Won:
 
Bought (I bought myself some books as a Valentine's Day treat! Treat yo' self and what not):

What was in your mailbox?

Friday, February 15, 2013

Literary Locale!






So last week, I told you that I would tell you about the awesome weekend trip that my husband and I will be taking in March. Of course, since I was in charge of planning the trip, it's definitely going to have a literary lean.


In researching hotels, I came across one that I just know as a book lover that I'm absolutely going to be head over heels for. It's called the Library Hotel! Every room of the hotel is themed after a Dewey Decimal system number (seriously! how cool is that?).

Photo Credit

I. am. so. excited. I've spent a little time (okay,  a lot of time) dreaming of what room we'll get. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that it's something awesome but really, what wouldn't be awesome?

Once we booked the room, I found out through Facebook that the hotel is running a contest to give away a free night at the hotel. It's a contest! You enter a picture and then people vote for the picture that they'd like to win. The contest ends February 28.

Here's the picture that I entered:

This is one of our engagement pictures! It's crazy that this was taken almost 4 years ago!

If you are interested in voting for us (and I would be so eternally grateful if you would vote for us), here's what to do:

1. Click on this link which will take you right to our picture on the contest site.
2. Click on the "thumbs up." A pop-up will come up and ask you to install an app, which you have to do to vote. It's slightly annoying but that's the way the contest is set-up! I would be forever grateful if you voted though.


Aside from staying in an awesome hotel, I am really hoping to visit the main branch of the New York Public Library for the first time (the Library Hotel is located very close by) and I am also hoping to visit Strand Book Store (this will also be a first time visit for me). 

Are there any other cool literary places in NYC that we should go to?

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Giveaway Winners!


I have one winner to announce today!

A Thing Done:
Kim @ Time 2 Read

I have sent an email to the winner at this time!

Cover Reveal: Destiny and Destiny Revealed!





Gabriella is a witch. The problem is, she doesn't remember. She repressed the memories of her powers years ago when her mother was murdered. Now, the warlock who was responsible for her mother's death has set his sights on Gabriella. He is determined to use her fear to turn her to the dark side of magick…even if it kills her. Her mother's spirit is reaching out to warn her, but even that she pushes away. Desperate to save her daughter, the spirit finds a male witch–one that just happens to be in love with Gabriella. Darron is more than willing to help but the two young witches will have way more to battle than just an evil warlock. There are overbearing jocks and petty rich girls who get tempers flaring and often set Gabriella and Darron at odds. 
There is more to the story than Gabriella and Darron could even imagine. There are terrible secrets to be revealed, battles to be waged, and lives will be lost. Only after Gabriella and Darron both come to terms with who they really are, and open themselves up to the true meaning of magick, can they have any hope of fulfilling their destiny.
Available on Amazon, Smashwords and Barnes & Noble.  

Destiny Unveiled
Gabriella and Darron thought their magickal battle was over when they defeated the evil warlock, Richard. When her Aunt Donna seeks Gabriella's help in rescuing her catatonic daughter from the Dark Coven, Gabriella discovers that her cousin holds a power within her that would be catastrophic in the hands of the evil witches. Gabriella's coven sets out on a journey that may be their last. Along the way, they meet new allies, face devastating treachery, and battle not only the Dark Coven, but the darkness within themselves. When Gabriella finally comes face to face with the cousin she never knew existed, her true destiny is unveiled, and the fate of the mortal world is in her hands.
 Available on Amazon, Smashwords and Barnes & Noble


About the Author


Website
Facebook
Twitter
Goodreads

Laura “Luna” DeLuca lives at the beautiful Jersey shore with her husband and four children. She loves writing in the young adult genre because it keeps her young at heart. In addition to writing fiction, Laura is also the editor of a popular review blog called New Age Mama.  Her current works include Destiny, Destiny Unveiled, Phantom, Morrigan, Demon and Player.




The Giveaway





To celebrate the release of the new covers, Author Laura DeLuca is giving away a prize pack that includes a oil diffuser, incense and burner, decorative wooden keepsake box, lavender scented drawer liners, a crystal point, stone pendant, and signed copies of Destiny & Destiny Unveiled with the original covers.


The Whimsical Pixie Etsy Shop is also donating a beautiful altar set inspired by the original cover of Destiny Unveiled. 

The book's cover was recreated on the altar box lid; the design was first set in pyrography, painted, stain and given a protective coating of high gloss polycrylic. The flower Celtic knot pentagram is worn by Gabby and her friends as a symbol of unity and has been pyrographed on the altar tile. Red paint was floated around the perimeter to coordinate with the Blood Moon of the cover. A red rose in full bloom was used on both millefiori* pieces; the censor and charcoal tongs. It symbolizes the Gabby's destiny being unveiled. 



A scene in the book tells of the young hero doing spell work on the beach using a drift wood wand to cast a circle and sea shells to form a pentagram. Both of these have been included as well as censor sand and a roll of charcoal disks so you can perform your own ritual. Whether you're just starting to walk the path or have for years, this kit makes an attractive addition to your ritual tools.

One lucky winner is going to receive both these fabulous prize packs. To enter, just fill in the Rafflecopter form below. This giveaway will end on  3/28/13. Open to the US only. The winner will be notified via email and will have 48 hours to reply. Thanks again to The Whimsical Pixie and the author for offering this fantastic prize.

a Rafflecopter giveaway
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