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Tuesday, September 30, 2014

HF Virtual Book Tours: Prisoner of the Queen by E. Knight

Title: Prisoner of the Queen
Author: E. Knight
Format: Ebook
Publisher: Knight Publishing, LLC
Publish Date: July 30, 2014
Source: HF Virtual Book Tours






What's the Story?:

From Goodreads.com: "I have served three queens in my life. One was my sister, one was my savior, and one my bitterest enemy.

Knowing she was seen as a threat to the Queen she served, Lady Katherine Grey, legitimate heir to the throne, longs only for the comfort of a loving marriage and a quiet life far from the intrigue of the Tudor court. After seeing her sister become the pawn of their parents and others seeking royal power and then lose their lives for it, she is determined to avoid the vicious struggles over power and religion that dominate Queen Elizabeth’s court. Until she finds love—then Kat is willing to risk it all, even life in prison."


My Two Cents:

In "Prisoner of the Queen," E. Knight is back with another tale from the Tudor Court. Think you've read everything about the Tudors? Ms. Knight shows that there is much more to love. I know that I have thought that maybe I was over reading about the Tudors before but when I read books like this one, my mind is changed very quickly. Filled with court intrigue and passion, this book will have you wanting to read more about her heroine, Katherine Grey, sister of Queen Jane Grey!

Queen Jane, also remembered as the nine day queen, is probably one of Henry VIII's queens that I know the least about and in that vein, I did not know much about Katherine Grey either before reading this book. She has an equally interesting story to her sister. Both sisters lived during an extremely volatile time during England's history where some of the luster had started coming off of the throne. It made for really good reading! Katherine is seen as a major threat to the throne and therefore her life is made miserable by the powers that be. While she has no designs on taking the throne for herself, there are other people in her family that are keen on ruling themselves, which makes Katherine suspect. I really felt for her! She wants to live her own life but is never really allowed to do that.  You'll definitely feel her frustration throughout the book. Knight captures it perfectly!

The writing and the research that went into this book make it an especially good treat for historical fiction readers. Knight is both able to give us really vivid characters while not skimping on rich historical detail. Count me as one of those anxious for the next release in this series!



Follow the Rest of the Tour:


Monday, September 15
Review at WTF Are You Reading?
Tuesday, September 16
Review & Giveaway at JulzReads
Wednesday, September 17
Review at Just One More Chapter
Spotlight & Giveaway at Passages to the Past
Thursday, September 18
Review at A Chick Who Reads
Spotlight at Historical Fiction Connection
Friday, September 19
Guest Post at What Is That Book About
Monday, September 22
Review at Historical Fiction Obsession
Review & Giveaway at The Tudor Enthusiast
Tuesday, September 23
Review at Book Nerd
Review at Historical Tapestry
Wednesday, September 24
Review at leeanna.me
Spotlight & Giveaway at So Many Precious Books, So Little Time
Thursday, September 25
Review at CelticLady’s Reviews
Review at Curling Up By the Fire
Friday, September 26
Review & Giveaway at Peeking Between the Pages
Monday, September 29
Review at So Many Books, So Little Time
Tuesday, September 30
Review at A Bookish Affair
Review at Flashlight Commentary
Review at Oh, For the Hook of a Book
Wednesday, October 1
Review at Caroline Wilson Writes
Review at 100 Pages a Day – Stephanie’s Book Reviews
Thursday, October 2
Review & Excerpt at Romantic Historical Reviews
Review & Giveaway at Luxury Reading
Friday, October 3
Review at The True Book Addict
Review at A Bibliotaph’s Reviews
Review & Giveaway at Broken Teepee
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Monday, September 29, 2014

#FRC2014 Review: A Blind Spot for Boys by Justina Chen

Title: A Blind Spot for Boys
Author: Justina Chen
Format: Hardcover
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Publish Date: August 12, 2014
Source: BookSparks Fall Reading Challenge






What's the Story?:

From Goodreads.com: "Shana has always had a blind spot for boys. Can she trust the one who's right in front of her?

Sixteen-year-old Shana Wilde is officially on a Boy Moratorium. After a devastating breakup, she decides it's time to end the plague of Mr. Wrong, Wrong, and More Wrong.

Enter Quattro, the undeniably cute lacrosse player who slams into Shana one morning in Seattle. Sparks don't just fly; they ignite. And so does Shana's interest. Right as she's about to rethink her ban on boys, she receives crushing news: Her dad is going blind. Quattro is quickly forgotten, and Shana and her parents vow to make the most of the time her father has left to see. So they travel to Machu Picchu, and as they begin their trek, they run into none other than Quattro himself. But even as the trip unites them, Quattro pulls away mysteriously..."


My Two Cents:

Okay, by the cover for "A Blind Spot for Boys," you may be saying, oh, this is just another YA romance. It might be cute but there isn't going to really be anything special about it. And if you are thinking that, let me assure you that while this is a YA romance, but there is a lot special about this book and I ate it up! This book has a lot of heart, a great romance, and a fantastic setting. If you're looking for a YA romance that has a lot more than just a love story, this might just be for you!

I really liked the main character, Shana, in this book. She realizes that she needs to take time to focus on the important things in life and that she needs to get over her heartbreak. Shana is dealing with a lot in this book. Her last relationship with an older guy ended horribly and she is still not sure that she's over him. Her father, who is a brilliant photographer, is losing his eyesight, which means that he will be losing one of his great hobbies. Shana's parents decide it's the perfect time to seize the day and do some of the traveling that they have always talked about doing before it gets too late for Shana's father to see some of the sights that he has always wanted to see. Right before the trip, Shana meets Quattro, a guy who she soon learns is dealing with his own pain. The story covers both the relationship between Shana and Quattro as well as their relationships with their families, who are both dealing with some pretty tough stuff. I loved the way that the author built and grew their relationship throughout the book. It really felt realistic!

I also loved, loved, loved the setting of this book. I may have mentioned this before but it bears repeating, I love armchair traveling through books! This book definitely allows you to do that to somewhere that is well off the beaten path: Machu Picchu, somewhere I have always dreamed of going. The things that happen to the characters when they visit and the way that it changes them is really amazing. Not only do the main character shine here, but the secondary characters really shine as well!

This is a book that I know that I am going to want to revisit in the future, both for the love story and the exotic setting!


 

Ivan and Misha for Kindle!

Hi everyone! I just wanted to let you all know that "Ivan and Misha" by Michael Alenyikov is now available as a Kindle e-book! Check out my review here!





Friday, September 26, 2014

Review: This Town by Mark Leibovich

Title: This Town
Author: Mark Leibovich
Format: Hardcover
Publisher: Blue Rider Press
Publish Date: July 16, 2013
Source: Library






What's the Story?:

From Goodreads.com: "'The great thing about Washington is no matter how many elections you lose, how many times you're indicted, how many scandals you've been tainted by, well, the great thing is you can always eat lunch in that town again. What keeps the permanent government spinning on its carousel is the freedom of shamelessness, and that mother's milk of politics, cash. In Mark Leibovich’s remarkable look at the way things really work in D.C., a funeral for a beloved television star becomes the perfect networking platform, a disgraced political aide can emerge with more power than his boss, campaign losers befriend their vanquishers (and make more money than ever!), "conflict of interest" is a term lost in translation, political reporters are fetishized and worshipped for their ability to get one's name in print, and, well - we're all really friends, aren't we? What Julia Phillips did for Hollywood, Timothy Crouse did for journalists, and Michael Lewis did for Wall Street, Mark Leibovich does for our nation's capital.'"

My Two Cents:

Do you dream of being a part of the Washington you see on tv? Do you want to be a Washington Insider?  Do you like gossip? Then this book might be for you. This book is filled with gossip from Washington's hallowed halls. This book is full of a lot of anecdotes and is definitely fun and frothy but it has its flaws.

Now, I actually live in this area and I love Washington, D.C. and this book sort of sells this area short. This book is about a very select group of people who work in Washington. Not everyone falls into this place as Leibovich would make you think. This book is filled with some of the marquee names from this town but it's only a small sliver and therefore not a particularly good picture of this place.

This book is quite long and while it started with a bang for me, eventually it started tapering off for me about halfway through as some of the stories started to feel the same. Overall, this may have been better in a slimmed down dose.


 

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Review: The Love-Artist by Jane Alison

Title: The Love-Artist
Author: Jane Alison
Format: Hardcover
Publisher: Farrar Straus Giroux
Publish Date: April 1, 2001
Source: Owned






What's the Story?:

From Goodreads.com: "Why was Ovid, the most popular author of his day, banished to the edges of the Roman Empire? Why do only two lines survive of his play Medea, reputedly his most passionate work and perhaps his most Accomplished? Between the known details of the poet's life and these enigmas, Jane Alison has Interpolated a haunting drama of passion and psychological manipulation. 

On holiday at the Black Sea, on the fringes of the Empire, Ovid encounters an almost otherworldly woman who seems to embody the fictitious creations of his soon-to-be-published Metamorphoses. Part healer, part witch, she seems myth come to life. Enchanted and obsessed -- and, for the first time in a long while, flush with inspiration -- Ovid takes her back with him to Rome. But the inexorable pull of ambition leads him to make a Faustian bargain with fate that will betray his newfound muse. As the two of them become entangled in its snares, the reader is drawn deep into an ingeniously enacted meditation on love, art, and the desire for immortality."

My Two Cents:

"The Love Artist" is the story of the famous poet, Ovid, and his exile from Rome. Not much is known about why exactly he was exiled. Not much is known about what his life was like when he was exiled. The author is able to take what we do know and create a fascinating story about what may have happened to Ovid during that time period.

The book is definitely a quiet one and takes a little while to truly hit its stride. It eventually gets there but it just takes a little bit. It slowly unfolds as we find out about Ovid's exile and the woman that he meets there that will change the course of his life, both personal and creative. He very quickly falls in love with a woman that may have become the muse for Ovid's Medea, of which only two lines survive today. This woman is mysterious. She may even have some magical qualities and she may actually be a witch. Ovid molds her character into the perfect character for his work.

I liked the settings in this book most of all. I still have not read all that much historical fiction set in ancient times and I really find myself appreciating books that have a lot of detail about the setting. I love armchair traveling and definitely appreciated exploring somewhere new.

Overall, this was an interesting look at Ovid's life.  


 

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Review: Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

Title: Eleanor & Park
Author: Rainbow Rowell
Format: Hardcover
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Publish Date: February 26, 2013
Source: Owned






What's the Story?:

From Goodreads.com: "Two misfits.
One extraordinary love.

Eleanor
... Red hair, wrong clothes. Standing behind him until he turns his head. Lying beside him until he wakes up. Making everyone else seem drabber and flatter and never good enough...Eleanor.

Park... He knows she'll love a song before he plays it for her. He laughs at her jokes before she ever gets to the punch line. There's a place on his chest, just below his throat, that makes her want to keep promises...Park.

Set over the course of one school year, this is the story of two star-crossed sixteen-year-olds—smart enough to know that first love almost never lasts, but brave and desperate enough to try."


My Two Cents:

"Eleanor and Park" is a fantastic book that I wholeheartedly recommend to anyone who has been an awkward teenager. I had heard people raving and raving about this book and it took me much too long to get to. My TBR is always much too long and I never get to the books that I want to read very quickly. This book was certainly worth the wait though. Picture a John Hughes movie (oh yes, this takes place in the 1980s, which I absolutely loved) filled with a great storyline and truly memorable characters and this is exactly what you get with this book and it is wonderful, absolutely wonderful.

Oh, high school. At least for me, it was a time filled with a lot of fun and a ton of awkwardness. This book reminded me a lot of my first love in high school. Instead of bonding over comic books and moody 80s music, it was bonding over Incubus and Adam Sandler songs on the Debate Club bus (yes, I was a pretty cool teenager) for me. I think a lot of us will find common ground with Eleanor and Park. In high school, most of us haven't quite found the confidence that we find later on. Both of the main characters are going through that process in this book. They find a lot of confidence from each other, which is truly wonderful.

Now this book is not just a sweet love story; there is a lot more to this book than just that. Both Eleanor and Park's family life factor into this book. Eleanor comes from a truly horrendous family situation. Her stepfather is absolute scum that makes Eleanor feel really bad about herself. Her mother both defends her and is victimized by the stepfather but chooses to stay just because she believes their tenuous existence is better than what she would find elsewhere. Park has a pretty good family life but feels misunderstood by his parents who don't seem to be able to cope with the changes that he is starting to go through.

This book was well written. The author captures all of those little details that really made the characters feel real. This is the first book that I have read by Rainbow Rowell but I know it will not be the last!


 

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Review: A Teaspoon of Earth and Sea by Dina Nayeri

Title: A Teaspoon of Earth and Sea
Author: Dina Nayeri
Format: Hardcover
Publisher: Riverhead
Publish Date: January 31, 2013
Source: Library






What's the Story?:

From Goodreads.com: "Growing up in a small rice-farming village in 1980s Iran, eleven-year-old Saba Hafezi and her twin sister, Mahtab, are captivated by America. They keep lists of English words and collect illegal Life magazines, television shows, and rock music. So when her mother and sister disappear, leaving Saba and her father alone in Iran, Saba is certain that they have moved to America without her. But her parents have taught her that “all fate is written in the blood,” and that twins will live the same life, even if separated by land and sea. As she grows up in the warmth and community of her local village, falls in and out of love, and struggles with the limited possibilities in post-revolutionary Iran, Saba envisions that there is another way for her story to unfold. Somewhere, it must be that her sister is living the Western version of this life. And where Saba’s world has all the grit and brutality of real life under the new Islamic regime, her sister’s experience gives her a freedom and control that Saba can only dream of."

My Two Cents:

Oh this book was really, really good! If you want a book where you only get little bits and pieces along the way until everything comes together in an absolutely fantastic mind-blowing ending, this is the book for you! This is a family story with a dose of family secrets and even a little bit of something verging on magical realism. Saba and Mahtab are sisters, twin sisters. They are utterly and inextricably connected to each other. When Mahtab and their mother leave Iran for America, Saba is left to imagine what their life may or may not be.

The characters in this book are stunning and are ones that I am going to be thinking about for a long time. The chapters are narrated by various characters, which I really liked. Sometimes having a lot of narrators doesn't work for me because I get confused but here the characters are so unique that I had no trouble and really enjoyed seeing things from different angles. The main character of this book, Saba, is so wonderful.I loved Saba. She is a dreamer. She and her sister talk about going to America all the time and are encouraged by their mother who is a little bit of a rebel herself. She wants to think the best of people and the best of her situation even when everything points to the contrary. I absolutely loved following her character as she unravels the mystery of her sister and her mother. I love sister stories but this story has something special with a story of twin sisters. It is so heartbreaking thinking about siblings being separated and the author makes you really feel that pain in this book.

I also really loved the setting of this book. The book takes place in a very turbulent time during Iran's history mostly in the 1980s but stretching beyond that. The author does a really, really good job of making you feel what it must have been like to be both in the big city and small towns of Iran during that time. I loved all of the detail.

The writing in this book was so good. As I mentioned previously, there are a lot of big secrets in this book and I thought the author did a really good job of giving you just enough information to make me want to just read a few more pages to see what was happening. Needless to say, I finished this book rather quickly as I kept wanting to put all of the pieces together! Definitely a good read!


 

Monday, September 22, 2014

Review: Dogs Rule Nonchalantly by Mark Ulriksen

Title: Dogs Rule Nonchalantly
Author: Mark Ulriksen
Format: Hardcover
Publisher: Goff Books
Source: I received a copy from the PR; however, this did not affect my review.






What's the Story?:

From Goodreads.com: "There is nothing happier than a happy dog” reads one of the observations in this humorous and heartwarming look at the everyday interactions between man and man’s best friend. Renown illustrator Mark Ulriksen combines his handwritten observations with his intricate paintings of dogs from over 20 years of his career.

Mark reaches back to his youth to talk about his first dog and chronicles the idiosyncrasies of each of his ten dogs that have enriched his life. Mark parallels major life events from dating, married life, and raising a family, with such humorous moments as house-breaking a puppy, obedience classes, the sad melancholy of nursing an aging canine friend, Ted, and his eventual ascension to “dog heaven.”

Dogs Rule, Nonchalantly appeals to dog lovers of all ages. The intuitive, colorful paintings communicate a depth of understanding of the quips and quirks of our canine companions that will bring a smile to the faces of children, while the sophistication and nuance of Mark’s artistic expertise and his acute observations, will resonate with anyone who has ever had a dog. In addition, having contributed more than forty covers to The New Yorker magazine, this collection will also appeal to art lovers."


My Two Cents:

"Dogs Rule Nonchalantly" is a wonderful book for anyone that has ever loved or loves dogs. This new book by Mark Ulriksen is a book of really wonderful illustrations of Ulriksen's favorite subjects (and mine): dogs. The book tells the story of some of the dogs that the author had growing up as well as some of the dogs he has had more recently.

The little back story is great for this book (it is definitely cute), but it is really the illustration start truly make this book. His illustrations are both funny and heartwarming. Ulriksen definitely has his own sense of style when it comes to illustrations. I could see this being a really good book to give as a present to somebody who enjoys both art and dogs. It would make a fantastic coffee table book. This book will definitely give you the warm and fuzzies!


 

Friday, September 19, 2014

Review: Fever by Mary Beth Keane

Title: Fever
Author: Mary Beth Keane
Format: Hardcover
Publisher: Scribner
Publish Date: March 12, 2013
Source: Owned






What's the Story?:

From Goodreads.com: "On the eve of the twentieth century, Mary Mallon emigrated from Ireland at age fifteen to make her way in New York City. Brave, headstrong, and dreaming of being a cook, she fought to climb up from the lowest rung of the domestic-service ladder. Canny and enterprising, she worked her way to the kitchen, and discovered in herself the true talent of a chef. Sought after by New York aristocracy, and with an independence rare for a woman of the time, she seemed to have achieved the life she'd aimed for when she arrived in Castle Garden. Then one determined medical engineer noticed that she left a trail of disease wherever she cooked, and identified her as an "asymptomatic carrier" of Typhoid Fever. With this seemingly preposterous theory, he made Mallon a hunted woman.

The Department of Health sent Mallon to North Brother Island, where she was kept in isolation from 1907 to 1910, then released under the condition that she never work as a cook again. Yet for Mary, proud of her former status and passionate about cooking, the alternatives were abhorrent. She defied the edict."


My Two Cents:

Many of us history lovers have heard the story of Typhoid Mary but not many of us really know her story. In this book, Mary Beth Keane brings her story to life. Mary was a hardworking Irish woman who wanted to make her life being a cook for some of the fancy homes in her area. She found many good jobs but her dreams are crushed when it is found that although she does not have symptoms of typhoid fever, she can pass it on and she happens to pass it on through her food. Some believe that she is a public health hazard and must be stopped without any regard for her own health or happiness.

This was a really hard book to read in some places. It seems like Mary was punished in a lot of ways even though there really was not anything she could do about being a carrier of typhoid fever. She gets that but those in charge of public health don't get it at all. I really felt bad for her. It was interesting to me to see how the public in general felt about diseases and how the doctors did not really understand how to prevent diseases or help people with said diseases. I really felt for Mary. She ends up not being able to live a really full life because of the typhoid.

This story also explores the issues of Mary both being a woman and an immigrant. The book makes the case for Mary receiving a lot of the bad treatment that she receives because of her being a woman and an unmarried woman at that. She had tried to rise above her station in life and was thwarted at every turn. There was also the issue of her being Irish. Back during the early 1900s, the Irish immigrants coming to this country wer not well respected at all. They were treated as less than other people. I thought it was really fascinating how the author chose to tackle both issues.

This book was a very interesting read with a very memorable character.


  

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Review: Meant to Be by Lauren Morrill

Title: Meant to Be
Author: Lauren Morrill
Format: Hardcover
Publisher: Delacorte
Publish Date: November 13, 2012
Source: Owned





What's the Story?:

From Goodreads.com: "Meant to be or not meant to be . . . that is the question.

It's one thing to fall head over heels into a puddle of hazelnut coffee, and quite another to fall for the—gasp—wrong guy. Straight-A junior Julia may be accident prone, but she's queen of following rules and being prepared. That's why she keeps a pencil sharpener in her purse and a pocket Shakespeare in her, well, pocket. And that's also why she's chosen Mark Bixford, her childhood crush, as her MTB ("meant to be").

But this spring break, Julia's rules are about to get defenestrated (SAT word: to be thrown from a window) when she's partnered with her personal nemesis, class-clown Jason, on a school trip to London. After one wild party, Julia starts receiving romantic texts . . . from an unknown number! Jason promises to help discover the identity of her mysterious new suitor if she agrees to break a few rules along the way. And thus begins a wild goose chase through London, leading Julia closer and closer to the biggest surprise of all: true love.

Because sometimes the things you least expect are the most meant to be."


My Two Cents:

Are you looking for a cute, light love story? Then "Meant to Be" is for you! This was one of the books that I read for Dewey's Read-a-thon a little while back and it was the perfect pick for the wee hours of the morning when I needed something light that would still totally engage me so I stayed awake.

I really liked the main character, Julia. Julia reminded me a lot of myself in high school. While I am still very much a rule player, I've definitely lightened up a little bit since high school. Also, we have the whole swimming thing in common. I liked seeing how she progressed from wanting to have everything planned out, even to the point of who she was supposed to be married. It took me a little bit longer than Julia to realize that you can't plan too far in the future or you're going to fall on your face in the present.

I liked the love story between Julia and Jason. Jason is totally carefree almost to the point of being careless. I wished that we would have gotten a little more insight into his character and his motives for being the way that he is but the lack of this doesn't take too much away from the story line between him and Julia. I really liked seeing how they fell for each other.

I absolutely love London and I loved that this book took place there. This book made me want to go back and experience some of the other things that I didn't get to experience when I was there for my honeymoon. Aside from being a cute love story, this book is definitely good for armchair traveling. Julia and Jason get to see and do a ton while they are on their school trip.

I would love to have known what happened to Julia and Jason once they get back to the States. Do they stay in love? Maybe there will be a sequel? I know that I am personally hoping for one!
 




Wednesday, September 17, 2014

HF Virtual Book Tours: A Day of Fire Cover Reveal

I am excited to reveal the cover for “A Day of Fire: A Novel of Pompeii"! This is a book for historical fiction TBR piles everywhere—six authors (look at that list!), one volume, the gripping story of Pompeii’s final days. And now you can pre-order your copy so that, come November 4th, you won’t have to wait.

It’s Cover Reveal Time . . .

Title: A Day of Fire: A Novel of Pompeii Authors: Stephanie Dray, Ben Kane, E. Knight, Sophie Perinot, Kate Quinn and Vicky Alvear Shecter, with an introduction by Michelle Moran Genre: Historical Fiction Release Date: November 4, 2014
Pompeii was a lively resort flourishing in the shadow of Mount Vesuvius at the height of the Roman Empire. When Vesuvius erupted in an explosion of flame and ash, the entire town would be destroyed. Some of its citizens died in the chaos, some escaped the mountain's wrath . . .
01_A Day of Fire Cover
Six top historical novelists join forces to bring readers the stories of Pompeii’s residents—from patricians to prostitutes—as their world ended. You will meet: A boy who loses his innocence in Pompeii's flourishing streets; An heiress dreading her wedding day, not knowing it will be swallowed by fire; An ex-legionary who stakes his entire future on a gladiator bout destined never to be finished; A crippled senator welcoming death, until a tomboy on horseback comes to his rescue; A young mother facing an impossible choice for her unborn child as the ash falls; And a priestess and a whore seeking redemption and resurrection as the town is buried.

Pre-order today!

Amazon US | Amazon UK

About the Authors

STEPHANIE DRAY is a multi-published, award-winning author of historical women’s fiction and fantasy set in the ancient world. Her critically acclaimed historical Nile series about Cleopatra’s daughter has been translated into more than six different languages, was nominated for a RITA Award and won the Golden Leaf. Her focus on Ptolemaic Egypt and Augustan Age Rome has given her a unique perspective on the consequences of Egypt's ancient clash with Rome, both in terms of the still-extant tensions between East and West as well as the worldwide decline of female-oriented religion. Before she wrote novels, Stephanie was a lawyer, a game designer, and a teacher. Learn more at www.StephanieDray.com BEN KANE worked as a veterinarian for sixteen years, but his love of ancient history and historical fiction drew him to write fast-paced novels about Roman soldiers, generals and gladiators. Irish by nationality but UK-based, he is the author of seven books, the last five of which have been Sunday Times top ten bestsellers.Ben’s books have been translated into ten languages. In 2013, Ben walked the length of Hadrian’s Wall with two other authors, for charity; he did so in full Roman military kit, including hobnailed boots. He repeated the madness in 2014, over 130 miles in Italy. Over $50,000 has been raised with these two efforts. Learn more at http://www.benkane.net/ E. KNIGHT is an award-winning, indie national best-selling author historical fiction. Under the name, Eliza Knight she writes historical romance and time-travel. Her debut historical fiction novel, MY LADY VIPER, has received critical acclaim and was nominated for the Historical Novel Society 2015 Annual Indie Award. She regularly presents on writing panels and was named Romance Writer’s of America’s 2013 PRO Mentor of the Year. Eliza lives in Maryland atop a small mountain with a knight, three princesses and a very naughty puppy. For more information, visit Eliza at www.elizaknight.com. SOPHIE PERINOT is the author of the acclaimed debut, The Sister Queens, which weaves the story of medieval sisters Marguerite and Eleanor of Provence who became queens of France and England respectively. Perinot has both a BA in History and a law degree. A long-time member of the Historical Novel Society, she has attended all of the group’s North American Conferences, serving as a panelist at the most recent. When she is not visiting corners of the past, Sophie lives in Great Falls, VA. Learn more at www.SophiePerinot.com KATE QUINN is the national bestselling author of the Empress of Rome novels, which have been variously translated into thirteen different languages. She first got hooked on Roman history while watching "I, Claudius" at the age of seven, and wrote her first book during her freshman year in college, retreating from a Boston winter into ancient Rome. She and her husband now live in Maryland with an imperious black dog named Caesar. Learn more at http://www.katequinnauthor.com VICKY ALVEAR SHECTER is the award-winning author of the young adult novel, Cleopatra’s Moon (Arthur A. Levine Books/Scholastic, 2011), based on the life of Cleopatra's only daughter. She is also the author of two biographies for kids on Alexander the Great and Cleopatra. The LA Times called Cleopatra’s Moon--set in Rome and Egypt--"magical" and "impressive." Publisher’s Weekly said it was "fascinating" and "highly memorable." Her young adult novel of Pompeii, Curses and Smoke (Arthur A. Levine/Scholastic), released in June 2014. She has two other upcoming books for younger readers, Anubis Speaks! and Hades Speaks! Vicky is a docent at the Michael C. Carlos Museum of Antiquities at Emory University in Atlanta. Learn more at http://www.vickyalvearshecter.com/main

Giveaway

To win a copy of A Day of Fire: A Novel of Pompeii please complete the Rafflecopter form. There are two copies (Ebook or Paperback) up for grabs. Giveaway is open to US & UK residents only. Giveaway ends at 11:59pm on September 26th. You must be 18 or older to enter. Winners will be chosen via Rafflecopter on September 27th and notified via email. Winners have 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen. a Rafflecopter giveaway

HF Virtual Book Tours Review and Giveaway: Inglorious Royal Marriages by Leslie Carroll

Title: Inglorious Royal Marriages: A Demi-Millennium of Unholy Mismatrimony
Author: Leslie Carroll
Format: Paperback
Publisher: NAL Trade
Publish Date: September 2, 2014
Source: HF Virtual Book Tours



What's the Story?:

From Goodreads.com: "It’s no secret that the marriages of monarchs are often made in hell. Here are some of the most spectacular mismatches in five hundred years of royal history....

In a world where many kings, queens, and princes lacked nothing but true love, marital mismatches could bring out the baddest, boldest behavior in the bluest of bloodlines. Margaret Tudor, her niece Mary I, and Catherine of Braganza were desperately in love with chronically unfaithful husbands, but at least they weren’t murdered by them, as were two of the Medici princesses were. King Charles II’s beautiful, high-spirited sister “Minette” wed Louis XIV’s younger brother, who wore more makeup and perfume than she did. Forced to wed her boring, jug-eared cousin Ferdinand, Marie of Roumania—a granddaughter of Queen Victoria—proved herself one of the heroines of World War I by using her prodigious personal charm to regain massive amounts of land during the peace talks at Versailles.

Brimming with outrageous real-life stories of royal marriages gone wrong, this is an entertaining, unforgettable book of dubious matches doomed from the start."


My Two Cents:

 "Inglorious Marriages" is the new release by wonderful author, Leslie Carroll. I always look forward to her releases but I was especially excited about this book because the subject seemed so fascinating to me and I was very happy to be proven correct. In this book, we see that the truth is sometimes stranger and more fabulous than fiction. The author uses this book in order to tackle some of the strangest, most interesting, most memorable, and craziest marriages of royalty throughout time. Some of the stories I was more familiar with than others but I enjoyed both revisiting and learning about new stories. This book makes for very entertaining nonfiction.

It's definitely the writing of the book that makes this book special. Carroll definitely has a gift for words and is able to breathe new life into some great stories from from history. I also really liked the way that Carroll was able to make this book incredibly entertaining. If you think that all history books are boring, this book will definitely show you otherwise.

Even though some of the stories were not new to me, I loved reading Carroll's take on the stories. Each chapter focuses on a new couple and each story is filled with fantastic love stories and a whole lot of drama!  I always like when I can learn something from a book. Overall, if you're interested in reading about royal marriages that you will be very happy that you never had to live through, then read this book. It will definitely make you thankful for your own situation!




Giveaway:

One lucky winner will win one paperback copy, open to US residents only.


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Follow the Rest of the Tour:

Monday, September 1
Review at Flashlight Commentary
Tuesday, September 2
Review at Book Lovers Paradise
Interview at Scandalous Women
Wednesday, September 3
Guest Post & Giveaway at Historical Tapestry
Thursday, September 4
Spotlight & Giveaway at Passages to the Past
Friday, September 5
Review at So Many Books, So Little Time
Monday, September 8
Review & Giveaway at Bibliophilia, Please
Tuesday, September 9
Review at Oh, For the Hook of a Book
Spotlight at Princess of Eboli
Thursday, September 11
Review at The Lit Bitch
Spotlight & Giveaway at Historical Fiction Connection
Friday, September 12
Interview at Oh, For the Hook of a Book
Monday, September 15
Guest Post & Giveaway at Let Them Read Books
Tuesday, September 16
Spotlight & Giveaway at Reading Lark
Wednesday, September 17
Review & Giveaway at A Bookish Affair
Saturday, September 20
Review at WTF Are You Reading?
Tuesday, September 23
Review & Giveaway at The Maiden’s Court
Wednesday, September 24
Review & Giveaway at Broken Teepee
Review & Giveaway at To Read or Not to Read
Thursday, September 25
Review at Bookish
Review at Historical Fiction Obsession
Friday, September 26
Review at The Musings of ALMYBNENR
Review & Giveaway at The True Book Addict
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Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Giveaway Winners!

I have a couple of giveaway winners to announce today!


The Queen's Exiles:
Michael

Madame Picasso:
Laurie

The Duel for Consuelo:
Anne

Don't forget to check out the other giveaways that I have going on right now:

The Fault in Our Stars is Almost Here!!!

The Fault in Our Stars is releasing on DVD and Blu-ray on September 16th and I am so, so, so excited for it!  As a member of The Fault In Our Stars Ambassador Program, I have helped in creating a list of the top moments from the film that I would love to relive! 

Featuring performances from Shailene Woodley and Ansel Elgort that made the film a favorite of fans and critics alike, this inspirational modern day tale of star-crossed lovers will have you going from laughter to tears and back again. 

Have you read the book or seen the movie?! What are your favorite moments that you would like to relive? Comment with your favorites and you will be entered to win a copy of TFIOS of your very own (U.S. only)! Comment prior to 12:00 AM EST on 9/26/14 to be entered!

HF Virtual Book Tours: The Crystal Cage by Merryn Allingham

Title: The Crystal Cage
Author: Merryn Allingham
Format: Ebook
Publisher: Harlequin
Publish Date: August 4, 2014
Source: HF Virtual Book Tours






What's the Story?:

From Goodreads.com: "Captivated…or captured?

Appearances don't always reveal the truth. Grace Latimer knows this better than most. Illusions of commitment and comfort have her trapped—until bohemian adventurer Nick Heysham charms his way into her world. Commissioned to recover a Great Exhibition architect's missing designs, he persuades her to assist in his research. The mystery of the Crystal Palace seduces Grace, and once she discovers clues about a forbidden Victorian love affair, she's lured into the deep secrets of the past…secrets that resemble her own.

As Grace and Nick dig into the elusive architect's illicit, long-untold story, the ghosts of guilt and forbidden passion slip free. And history is bound to repeat itself, unless Grace finds the courage to break free and find a new definition of love…"


My Two Cents:

"The Crystal Cage" is a historical fiction with a heavy mystery element to it. The story takes place both in the present and also during the Great Exhibition during the mid to late 1800s. In this book, Grace is a researcher who is called upon by Nick, a modern day adventurer, to help him solve a mystery about what may have happened to some famous (and missing) architectural designs. At first, Grace is not sure that she really wants to help but she goes along with it anyway and ends up discovering some very important things about herself.

It took me a little while to get into this book. At first, I wasn't really sure where story was going and Grace seemed to be sort of a hard character to get to know. In a lot of ways, she's very standoffish and we see that with the beginning of her relationship with Nick. Once the story really starts to get going we begin to see a different side of Grace which really helped endear her to me. I just takes a little while to get there so hang on!

I like the historical mystery in the book. To some degree, that part of the book was more interesting to me because I really enjoyed the historical characters and hearing of stories that happen to them. I really was drawn in by the mystery even though it takes a little while to set up. There's also a love story during the historical part of the book that I also really liked. Overall, I think this book will find favor with those who like his stork call romance and also historical mystery.



Follow the Rest of the Tour:


Monday, September 15
Review at To Read or Not to Read
Spotlight at Flashlight Commentary
Spotlight & Excerpt at Romantic Historical Reviews
Tuesday, September 16
Review at A Bookish Affair
Excerpt at Casual Readers
Wednesday, September 17
Excerpt at CelticLady’s Reviews
Interview at What Is That Book About
Thursday, September 18
Review at Turning the Pages
Friday, September 19
Review at Queen of All Reads
Excerpt at Just One More Chapter
Monday, September 22
Review at Bibliotica
Spotlight at Layered Pages
Tuesday, September 23
Interview at SOS Aloha
Spotlight at Historical Fiction Connection
Wednesday, September 24
Excerpt at Passages to the Past
Thursday, September 25
Review at Oh, for the Hook of a Book
Excerpt at Princess of Eboli
Friday, September 26
Review at Unshelish
Spotlight at Let Them Read Books
Wednesday, October 15
Review at The Worm Hole

Giveaway

To win an eBook of The Crystal Cage please complete the Rafflecopter giveaway form below. Two copies are up for grabs. Giveaway is open internationally.
Giveaway ends at 11:59pm on October 15th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
Winner will be chosen via Rafflecopter on October 16th and notified via email.
Winner have 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Monday, September 15, 2014

TLC Book Tours: Flings: Stories by Justin Taylor

Title: Flings: Stories
Author: Justin Taylor
Format: ARC
Publisher: Harper
Publish Date: August 19, 2014
Source: TLC Book Tours






What's the Story?:

From Goodreads.com: "In a new suite of powerful and incisive stories, Justin Taylor captures the lives of men and women unmoored from their pasts and uncertain of their futures.

A man writes his girlfriend a Dear John letter, gets in his car, and just drives. A widowed insomniac is roused from malaise when an alligator appears in her backyard. A group of college friends try to stay close after graduation, but are drawn away from-and back toward-each other by the choices they make. A boy's friendship with a pair of identical twins undergoes a strange and tragic evolution over the course of adolescence. A promising academic and her fiancée attempt to finish their dissertations, but struggle with writer's block, a nasty secret, and their own expert knowledge of Freud.

From an East Village rooftop to a cabin in Tennessee, from the Florida suburbs to Hong Kong, Taylor covers a vast emotional and geographic landscape while ushering us into an abiding intimacy with his characters. Flings is a commanding work of fiction that captures the contemporary search for identity, connection, and a place to call home."


My Two Cents:

"Flings" is a great collection of short stories by Justin Taylor. Each story is a wholly individual story. Each story is just a snapshot of different people's lives. Each of those lives is very different and unique. If you like short stories with vivid characters and great detail, you will enjoy this collection of interestingly detailed stories.

The real treat in this book is how Taylor is able to take all of these different characters and give them their own individual voices. Admittedly, I often stay away from short stories because sometimes they feel incomplete to me (they are definitely growing on me though). One thing that Taylor did that makes this collection stand apart from any other collection is that he is able to very quickly lay out detailed worlds within each individual story, which has a tendency to engage the reader right off the bat. The stories definitely do not feel incomplete!

It's easy to tell that this book is going to be a big hit. Short stories are seeing an uprising in popularity and with authors like Taylor at the forefront, it's not hard to see why. Taylor rights writes with a sense of humor as well as great gravitas that really captures some of the beautiful and interesting moments in a person's life. Here even the ordinary is extraordinary.

While some stories I liked better than others, overall this book is a very good story collection. I know that I will be looking out for more by Justin Taylor in the future.


 
Follow the Rest of the Tour:


Tuesday, August 19th: The Book Binder’s Daughter
Thursday, August 21st: Dwell in Possibility
Monday, August 25th: guiltless reading
Tuesday, August 26th: Chronicles of a Country Girl
Wednesday, August 27th: Luxury Reading
Thursday, August 28th: No More Grumpy Bookseller
Monday, September 1st: A Book Geek
Tuesday, September 2nd: BoundbyBooks
Wednesday, September 3rd: Consuming Culture
Thursday, September 4th: The Whynott Blog
Tuesday, September 9th: …the bookworm…
Wednesday, September 10th: Patricia’s Wisdom
Thursday, September 11th: Spiced Latte Reads
Friday, September 12th: Book Hooked Blog
Wednesday, September 17th: Reading in Black & White
Thursday, September 18th: The Scarlet Letter
TBD: A Bookish Affair

#FRC2014 Review: The Wonder by Colleen Oakes

Title: The Wonder
Author:  Colleen Oakes
Format: Ebook
Publisher: SparksPress
Publish Date: September 23, 2014
Source: Fall Reading Challenge






What's the Story?:

From Goodreads.com: "An Exiled Princess.
An Ancient Tribe.
A Dangerous Stranger with Unknown Loyalties.

Dinah, the former Princess of Wonderland Palace, has been chased into the wilds of Wonderland after the brutal murder of her brother and the ruin of her impending crown. Now, as her half-sister Vittiore sits on the throne beside her Father, the brutal King of Hearts, Dinah finds herself alone in the forbidding Twisted Wood with only Morte, a homicidal beast, for company.

Hunted by the King and his army of Cards, Dinah struggles to evade those who long for her head, including Cheshire, the King’s clever advisor, who is slowly tightening his grasp around her. Spurred on by her rising terror, the former Princess finds herself at the center of a web of conspiracy reaching far beyond the Palace and deep into the mysterious Yurkei mountain tribes.
Even with the balance of an entire Kingdom at stake, Dinah knows something that her allies and enemies do not: that the most dangerous conflict of all has already begun as she battles the enticing rage that beckons her ever closer as love slips further from her grasp.

The second book in the bestselling and award-winning Queen of Hearts Saga, The Wonder takes readers back to the most wondrous and curious places in Wonderland, and continues this darkly addictive tale featuring one of the most infamous villains of all time.

But be warned…not every fairy tale has a happy ending.
This is the story of a princess who became a villain."


My Two Cents:

"The Crown" and "The Wonder" are the first two books in Colleen Oakes' great Queen of Hearts saga. I'll be reviewing both of these books together so that you can see how both of the stories build on each other. As you may have guessed from the title of the series, this book is based on Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland, which has their designation of being one of my very favorite stories. When the first book opens we meet Dinah, who will be the future queen of hearts in the Alice in Wonderland stories. When we first meet her, she is a teenager who is just starting to figure out what her royal duties are going to look like. Oakes draws us into a pretty dark Wonderland where everyone that seems to be on your team is not really on your team. The second book is a little more action oriented than the first book. In the second book, Dinah is really growing into her own and we get to see the beginnings of the character that she turns into the Alice in Wonderland books.

I think that retellings and prequels to really famous stories can be really difficult to write so I think the author had a very ambitious goal with both of these books. I'm happy to report that she succeeds and stays true to the Alice in Wonderland stories and she also succeeds in making these books wholly her own as well. What I really liked about these books is that they stay true to the sorts of twist and turns that Carroll has in the original stories. I also liked that Oakes was able to take a character like the queen of hearts and show us how she almost became a sympathetic character. This isn't to say that we don't see Carroll's queen of hearts in Dinah but we do get to see a different side of her in this book and we also get to understand why things ended up the way that they ended up and the Alice in Wonderland books.

At first I wasn't really sure about how I was going to like Dinah as a character but Oakes is able to show us exactly what she's contending with and it definitely makes it a little bit easier to understand her character. No, she's not exactly a nice character but we understand where she is coming from.

At the end of the first book I was definitely ready to read more so I was happy to start the second book right away! The first book definitely feels more like a sort of setting up of the story. We get to meet a lot of the different characters in this scene is set for a lot of the plot points in the second book. That being said, I think that both books stand fairly nicely on their own but you'll definitely get a lot more out of the story if you read both of them. Overall, if you're a fan of the Alice in Wonderland stories and you ever wondered about the red Queen, Oakes has a great story for you.






 


My Two Cents:

"The Crown" and "The Wonder" are the first two books in Colleen Oakes' great Queen of Hearts saga. I'll be reviewing both of these books together so that you can see how both of the stories build on each other. As you may have guessed from the title of the series, this book is based on Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland, which has their designation of being one of my very favorite stories. When the first book opens we meet Dinah, who will be the future queen of hearts in the Alice in Wonderland stories. When we first meet her, she is a teenager who is just starting to figure out what her royal duties are going to look like. Oakes draws us into a pretty dark Wonderland where everyone that seems to be on your team is not really on your team. The second book is a little more action oriented than the first book. In the second book, Dinah is really growing into her own and we get to see the beginnings of the character that she turns into the Alice in Wonderland books.

I think that retellings and prequels to really famous stories can be really difficult to write so I think the author had a very ambitious goal with both of these books. I'm happy to report that she succeeds and stays true to the Alice in Wonderland stories and she also succeeds in making these books wholly her own as well. What I really liked about these books is that they stay true to the sorts of twist and turns that Carroll has in the original stories. I also liked that Oakes was able to take a character like the queen of hearts and show us how she almost became a sympathetic character. This isn't to say that we don't see Carroll's queen of hearts in Dinah but we do get to see a different side of her in this book and we also get to understand why things ended up the way that they ended up and the Alice in Wonderland books.

At first I wasn't really sure about how I was going to like Dinah as a character but Oakes is able to show us exactly what she's contending with and it definitely makes it a little bit easier to understand her character. No, she's not exactly a nice character but we understand where she is coming from.

At the end of the first book I was definitely ready to read more so I was happy to start the second book right away! The first book definitely feels more like a sort of setting up of the story. We get to meet a lot of the different characters in this scene is set for a lot of the plot points in the second book. That being said, I think that both books stand fairly nicely on their own but you'll definitely get a lot more out of the story if you read both of them. Overall, if you're a fan of the Alice in Wonderland stories and you ever wondered about the red Queen, Oakes has a great story for you.

Review: The Lightkeeper's Wife by Sarah Anne Johnson

Title: The Lightkeeper's Wife
Author: Sarah Anne Johnson
Format: ARC
Publisher: Sourcebooks
Publish Date: September 9, 2014
Source: I received a copy from the publisher; however, this did not affect my review.






What's the Story?:

From Goodreads.com: "Alone on the tip of the cape, Hannah Snow is on the verge of her most heroic rescue yet.

On 19th century Cape Cod, Hannah Snow shouldn't even be in the water. Her husband, John, would be furious-it's his job to tend to Dangerfield Light. It's certainly not women's work, and his quick trips out of town don't give her permission to rush toward the tattered ships. But she does, and though she can't save everyone, William "Billy" Pike, is someone she can. He's recuperating in her care when John's horse is found abandoned. Hannah invites Billy to stay as a hired hand-but soon discovers that he is not at all whom she thought he was. When everything holding her together falls apart, can Hannah learn how to save herself?"


My Two Cents:

In "The Lightkeeper's Wife," Hannah has only been married to John for a couple years. Their marriage is fairly comfortable but Hannah finds herself wanting to be able to do more to help run the lighthouse where they live. However, it is the 19th century and during that time, that is really a man's job so her husband is not happy to have her help at all, which means that it is very boring for Hannah. One night, Hannah helps rescue a man who is very lost himself and her life will never be the same after that. Her husband abandons her and she is left with Billy, the man she saves.

 This is a very quiet book that looks out one woman's resilience in the face of adversity. Hannah is left alone to fend for herself and as we see in the book, she tries to do a good job and in some ways succeeds and in some ways does not succeed. I really found her character to be interesting because she is so brave and unafraid no matter what happens to her on the small island.

This book is so much more then its synopsis; it's not only the story of a marriage, but it is the story of a woman having to deal with dangerous elements with nature and man created. I like how the other was able to create a sense of drama surrounding the people who visit the island. I really thought that was done well. Overall, I really enjoyed this book.


 

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Review: When We Fall by Emily Liebert

Title: When We Fall
Author: Emily Liebert
Format: ARC
Publisher: NAL Trade
Publish Date: September 2, 2014
Source: I received a copy from the PR; however, this did not affect my review.





 What's the Story?:

From Goodreads.com: "Ready for a fresh start, Allison Parker moves back to her hometown in the suburbs of New York. While she’d once savored the dynamic pace of city life, sadly, it lost its allure after her husband’s untimely death. Now, ready to focus on her art career accompanied by her ten-year-old son, Logan, Allison doesn’t anticipate that her past will resurface. When the wife of her husband’s best friend from summer camp takes her under her wing, things begin to spin out of control.

At one time, Charlotte Crane thought she had it all—a devoted husband, a beautiful little girl, and enough financial security to never have to worry. But behind her perfect facade lie a strained marriage and a fractured relationship with her sister. When new girl Allison arrives in Wincourt, Charlotte welcomes the chance to build a friendship. Before long, Charlotte begins to see her life through Allison’s eyes, and the cracks in her seemingly flawless existence become impossible to ignore.

As Allison heals from the loss of her husband—even wondering if she might be ready to date again—Charlotte feels more distant from her loved ones than ever before. The emerging friendship between the two women appears to be just the antidote both of them so desperately need...until everything falls apart."


My Two Cents:

 "When We Fall" is the story of two very different women. Allison is a woman who has to move back to her hometown for fresh start with her young son. She isn't looking forward to moving to her hometown, which she knows he's filled with catty women but she thinks it will be better to be home. Charlotte is one of those women (who fits into exactly the group that Allison is worried about) who wants everything to look perfect and it does look perfect, at least from the outside. But inside, it's a whole different story. Charlotte lets her fears get the best of her and causes a commotion in the small town. This is a story about friendship and trying to see that the grass is not always greener on the other side.

I really enjoyed this book. I could fully understand Allison's hesitancy in wanting to go back to her small hometown. I really like her character and the one that really surprised me was how much I ended up liking Charlotte. Charlotte is definitely not the easiest character to like. She is so lost and trying to make up for so many things by overcompensating a little bit. As the book goes on we learned that it's that Charlotte is really just so afraid that she doesn't know what to do. She's definitely a good lesson in why you should never jump to conclusions.

The writing of this book was pretty good. I really liked how the author was able to create such different characters. I did think that the ending dramatic event was a little bit far-fetched because I didn't really understand Charlotte's actions. But overall, the author does a really good job of showing us the various character motivations which really will help the reader get into the book. Overall, I thought this was a good story about two women who aren't exactly sure what they're looking for but they know that don't know when they find it.


 

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Happy 75th Birthday, Wizard of Oz!: A Guest Post by Elizabeth Eckhart

I am very excited to welcome Elizabeth Eckhart back to A Bookish Affair. Today, she is talking about one of my childhood film favorites, The Wizard of Oz!


For tens of millions of children and adults around the world, The Wizard of Oz remains a mainstay in their film collections, and the seemingly timeless film is celebrating a big milestone this year – its 75th birthday! It’s hard to believe that what originally started as a simple book by L. Frank Baum spawned one of the most iconic films in history, as well as a slew of spinoffs and adaptations. So, in honor of the classic film’s 75th anniversary, let’s take a look at some of the later works it inspired.
   

    This largely forgotten animated film released in England 1972 serves as a sequel to the original film. From its inception in 1962 the film was plagued with financial problems and eventually had to cease production for eight years before the studio could afford to start the project again. The cast impressively features Judy Garland’s daughter Liza Minnelli as the voice of Dorothy, along with the original Wicked Witch of the West Margaret Hamilton, Mickey Rooney, and Ethel Merman.

    Despite the fact that the film was a commercial failure in theaters, ABC purchased the rights to the film in 1976 and expanded the film into a Christmas special featuring live action segments with Bill Cosby as the Wizard. This version continued to air through the 70’s and into the 80’s before ABC shelved it. A Special Edition DVD of the film was released in 2006, however you’re going to have to fork over some cash if you want one, since new versions of it start at $115 on Amazon.

    This hugely popular Broadway musical is based on the 1995 book Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West, written by Gregory Maguire. Both stories tell the previously untold history of Elphaba, the future Wicked Witch of the West, and Glinda, the Good Witch. The two young witches first meet at a university, where their clashing personalities eventually result in the best of friendships, despite Glinda’s popularity and Elphaba’s poor reputation.
    The novel became began jumping top seller lists after the broadway musical, featuring Frozen’s Idina Menzel as Elphaba and Kristin Chenoweth as Glinda, won three Tonys and a Grammy. There have even been rumors of a film adaptation, but no details have been confirmed.

    The Wiz began as an all African-American stage adaptation of the original Wizard of Oz novel, which opened in 1974 in Baltimore. Written by Charlie Smalls and William F. Brown the play made its way to Broadway in 1975 before winning the Best Musical Tony Award in addition to six other Tony’s. The play also toured intermittently in the 70’s, 80’s, and 90’s establishing a large following.
    You might be more familiar, however, with the 1978 film version of The Wiz produced by Berry Gordy and his Motown Productions. Gordy purchased rights to the film and even signed with the original Broadway “Dorothy” Stephanie Mills in 1977, but Motown Record’s star (and Gordy’s girlfriend) Diana Ross insisted he give her the role instead. Despite a splashy cast that included Ross, Michael Jackson, Lena Horne, and Richard Pryor, along with a budget of $24 million, the film was a massive failure when it hit theaters and ultimately lost Motown $11 million. In addition, it more or less ended Diana Ross’s film career – she did go on to act in two more made-for-T.V. films in the 90’s, but never another theatrically released film. However after it’s release to home video it developed a cult following and is still a cult favorite thanks to it’s campy, psychedelic production.

    The most recent spinoff, released in 2013, acts as a prequel to the original film version. It’s all star cast includes James Franco as Oz, Michelle Williams as Glinda, as well as Rachel Weisz and Mila Kunis. The film tells the story of how a man named Oscar Diggs (Franco) made his way from being a two-bit magician traveling the backroads of a turn of the century Midwest to the magical land of Oz.
    The Disney film was an incredibly expensive (clocking in at $215 million) and a difficult one to create thanks to its heavy use of CGI elements and conversion into 3D and IMAX formats for theatrical release. However, it pulled in a staggering $493 million worldwide and a sequel, which all of the cast have signed up for according to Kunis.

    For fans of The Wizard of Oz the news of its 75th anniversary is a reason to celebrate the ageless and family friendly film. If it’s been a while since you’ve sat down and enjoyed the movie it’s readily available on demand through both cable providers and online streaming services. So, make some popcorn, sit back, and let yourself relive a childhood (or adult if you were a bit late to the game) classic.
  
About the author:

Elizabeth Eckhart is an entertainment and film blogger for Directstartv.com, who finds nothing more compelling than a good story, no matter its medium.

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