Thursday, December 31, 2015

0 Happy New Year


Wednesday, December 30, 2015

1 4 Challenges I'm Taking On In 2016

I'm really excited to have joined a few reading challenges for 2016. One of my goals is to read more books that are already in my sad and neglected TBR pile. But also to read more classics and nonfiction books. I think these challenges will help me stay focused and on task. 



Belle's Library

The Rules
  • Books published during the Victorian age (1837-1901) are acceptable. 
  • Books written about the Victorian age are acceptable, no matter what year they were published. (Here are some ideas
  • Stories are not limited to Victorian Britain. Read about what was going on in other parts of the world during this time! 
  • Challenge is open to everyone everywhere---you don't have to have a blog or site to enter to win. Just enter the link to your online review (Amazon, Goodreads, BookCrossing, or elsewhere). 
  • Go to Belle's Library if you'd like to participate in this too. 



Nonfiction Reading Challenge hosted at The Introverted Reader


I read several nonfiction books a year, but I'd like to challenge myself to read more. So, I'm going to sign up at the Explorer level (6-10 books). If you're interested in signing up for this challenge, you can click the button or go to The Introverted Reader.





Every year I tell myself that I will read more classics, but honestly there are so many books that I need to read that I hardly have time to read what I want. This year, I making time! This challenge is hosted by The Pretty Books. All you have to do is read one classic book a month. Here are some suggested questions that I might talk about during this challenge:



WHEN I Discovered This Classic

WHY I Chose to Read It 

WHAT Makes It A Classic

WHAT I Thought of This Classic

WILL It Stay A Classic

WHO I’d Recommend It To




And last by not least: The Rory Gilmore Reading Challenge. This is my own, personal challenge--though I'm sure there might be blogs who are hosting this challenge. I know I won't finish this list in a year, but I hope to get started on it anyway. If you're not familiar with who Rory Gilmore is then you need to watch Gilmore Girls. It's available on Netflix, and it's awesome!

What challenges did you join? 

0 Review: You're A Vampire: That Sucks!

Title: You're A Vampire: That Sucks!
Author: Count Domenick Dicce
Publisher: Penguin
Published: October 13, 2015
Paperback, 150 pages
ISBN: 9780399175886
Genre: Nonfiction, Humor
Source: Publisher
Buy From Amazon


Summary:

Being bitten by and turned into a vampire isn’t the glitz and glamor that Hollywood makes it out to be. In fact, one out of five newly turned vampires will succumb to a slew of easily avoidable and common pitfalls within their first few months as a nightwalker—tempting garlic-laced Italian food, silver jewelry, and anything with an SPF below 1,000 will have to go.

As an answer to this tragic loss of undead life, “Count" Domenick Dicce has written the definitive how-to guide that just might save your pale, ice-cold skin. This helpful tome will cover everything from Vampire 101—such as hunting, feeding, and getting used to your new powers—to Vampire Graduate Studies—such as coffin selection, the ghoulish world of vampiric social hierarchy, and the universal Laws of the Vampire.

This humorous and giftable guide will be perfect for you or the vampire nut in your life, complete with illustrations throughout.

My Thoughts:

So . . . I expect any day now to be turned into a vampire. Why else would I have this book? If you're recently one of the undead, or soon to be undead, you might want to check out this book: You're a Vampire: That Sucks! by Count Domenick Dicce. 

Why would I need a book to tell me how to be a vampire, you might ask yourself. After all, if you're like me, you've been watching movies and reading books--Buffy, Interview With A Vampire, Twilight, Trueblood, Black Dagger Brotherhood--about vampires for years. Surely you'd have vampirism down by now. But there is a lot of misinformation out there and you don't want your undead years to be shorter than you living years.

That's why this book is so great. Dicce sorts urban legend from fact. In this book you'll learn things such as:
  • Feeding
  • Hunting
  • Weaknesses 
  • Powers (Yes, you have powers!)
  • How to pick the perfect coffin
  • How to manage your money to last you a long, long time
  • How to make friends and not kill them
  • Why familiars are necessary
  • How to turn someone else into a vampire
  • Vampire laws: Why you should follow them
 This is the perfect gift for the newly turned vampire in your life. Dicce approaches the heavy topic with humor and grace. It will make your transition into this new phase of life much easier. And hey, if I accidentally run into you, and mistakenly eat you for dinner, no hard feelings, right? 


Tuesday, December 29, 2015

0 Review: Sketching Character

Title: Sketching Character
Author: Pamela Lynne
Publisher: Vanity and Pride Press
Published: September 25, 2015
Ebook
ASIN: B015UJZFX2
Genre: Historical Fiction, Pride and Prejudice
Source: Author
Purchase From Amazon


Summary:

What if a tragic event involving a beloved sister shatters Elizabeth Bennet‘s confidence in her ability to accurately judge a person’s character? When she leaves Longbourn for Kent, Elizabeth’s heart is full of worry for those she left behind. She carries a secret that would ruin her family if exposed and she must deceive the ones closest to her to conceal the truth.

She unexpectedly encounters Mr. Darcy on her journey and his gentlemanly behavior confuses, yet comforts her. Their daily encounters in the woods surrounding Rosings soothes Elizabeth’s weathered conscience and she soon falls in love. Her doubts, along with the well-placed words of another, threaten to destroy the peace she finds in Darcy’s company and she wonders if she has again failed to correctly sketch his character.

When the truth behind her deception is uncovered, will Darcy shun her as Elizabeth fears, or will his actions prove that he is the very best of men?

My Thoughts:

The weather is dismal outside. For the past week we've fluctuated between severe weather (flooding and storms) or just humid and miserable. So the only thing to do is read (or in my case re-read) a book about a couple of fictional characters I can't get enough of--Elizabeth and Darcy.

In Sketching Character: A Jane Austen Inspired Novel, Elizabeth is having doubts about Darcy's character. She can't quite decide if he's honorable or a jerk. Because let's face it--Darcy can be a bit of an ass at times. Not only that, she's struggling with worry over her sister Lydia. A tragic event forces Lydia to regret some of her previous behaviors. This event can also lead to the ruin of all the Bennet sisters and lose Darcy's favor once and for all.

And this is a little spoilery, but I feel that it needs to be said for potential readers who might want to read this book but are sensitive to certain subjects: The tragic event that happens to Lydia is rape.

This is Pamela's second novel about two of the most beloved characters of all time. Her first book, Dearest Friends: A Jane Austen Inspired Novel came out in 2014. I have yet to read that one, but I purchased it after finishing Sketching Characters, which came out in September of 2015. So needless to say, I really enjoyed this book. There are some darker parts to this novel, but I feel it really added to the story line in making Elizabeth's fear of losing Darcy's good opinion because of the circumstance.

There were some aspects that I didn't quite agree with either. *SPOILER ALERT* Such as Darcy letting his sister spend time with Lydia after he finds out her secret. Not so much because he was being a jerk, but rather to protect Georgiana's innocence. But regardless it's a great read. I really enjoyed finding this new-to-me austenesque author. I hope Pamela Lynne has more Austen Inspired Novels up her sleeve, but in the meantime I have her first book to devour.

My Rating:






Monday, December 28, 2015

2 Readers, I need help . . .


It's been a few years since I've participated in a reading challenge (other than the Goodreads Reading Challenge) and I've missed it. I've also been a little out of the loop lately, and that's why I need your help. If you know of a 2016 reading challenge, then please let me know. I read pretty much across genres, so I'm up for anything. Don't forget to include the website in your comments. Thank you so much!

Thursday, December 24, 2015

0 Happy Holidays!


Wednesday, December 23, 2015

0 The Further Adventures of Ebeneezer Scrooge

Title: The Further Adventures of Ebeneezer Scrooge
Author: Charlie Lovett
Publisher: Viking
Published: October 20, 2015
Ebook, ARC
ISBN13: 9780525429104
Genre: Historical Fiction,
Source: NetGalley


Summary:

On a hot summer day some twenty years after he was famously converted to kindness, Ebenezer Scrooge still roams the streets of London, spreading Christmas cheer, much to the annoyance of his creditors, nephew, and his employee Bob Cratchit. However, when Scrooge decides to help his old friend and former partner Jacob Marley, as well as other inhabitants of the city, he will need the assistance of the very people he’s annoyed. He’ll also have to call on the three ghosts that visited him two decades earlier. By the time they’re done, they’ve convinced everyone to celebrate Christmas all year long by opening their wallets, arms, and hearts to those around them.

Written in uncannily Dickensian prose, Charlie Lovett’s The Further Adventures of Ebenezer Scrooge is both a loving and winking tribute to the Victorian classic, perfect for readers of A Christmas Carol and other timeless holiday tales.

My Thoughts:

Charlie Lovett has a way of delving into literature and shaking things up a bit. He did it first with Shakespeare and The Bookman's Tale and then again with Jane Austen and First Impressions. Now he does it with once more with Charles Dickens and The Further Adventures of Ebeneezer Scrooge. In The Bookman's Tale and First Impressions Lovett combines a modern-day story with a mysterious story involving the authors. The Further Adventures of Ebeneezer Scrooge is without the modern-day story. And as the title suggests, it's what happens to Scrooge after that fateful Christmas day.

This story does not take place at Christmas, but during the hot summer months. Ebeneezer is true to his word and keeps Christmas in his heart. So much so that during summer he's still wishing people a merry Christmas. Which makes him look and sound like a mental patient. Even those he's closest to--his nephew and his clerk turned partner--look at him like he might be going to the insane asylum any day. Not only that, his departed friend, Jacob Marley, still has many, many chains that cling to him. Scrooge vows to help Jacob anyway he can and so he once again enlists the help of the three spirits that helped him so long ago to help the people dearest to him before it's too late.

I've read both The Bookman's Tale and First Impressions and enjoyed them immensely, so I was thrilled to see what he'd do with Dickens' A Christmas Carol. While Dickens doesn't make an appearance in this novel, his spirit seams to dwell in the background, between the sentences and punctuation. Much like A Christmas Carol, The Further Adventures of Ebeneezer Scrooge is a quick but enticing read. And while this may appear to be a book to read only during the holidays, I believe it could be read during any season really. If you have an hour or two to spare during this holiday season, I suggest you give this book a try. It's also available on audio, narrated by Tim Gerard Reynolds, which is perfect to listen to while you're wrapping the last few gifts or getting dinner ready. I can't wait to see what Lovett's next book will be.



Also, if you like audio books, Patrick Stewart narrates A Christmas Carol and it's fantastic!  There are also versions narrated by Tim Curry, Jim Dale, and Orson Welles that promise to be just as good.   However, if you're more into watching it on television than reading, you should check out The Muppet Christmas Carol. It's surprisingly close to the original story. and lots of fun to watch! 


Monday, December 21, 2015

0 Spotlight: The Marriage Contract

THE MARRIAGE CONTRACT

by Katee Robert


When Teague O’ Malley and Callista Sheridan are ordered to marry they soon realize that there is much more at stake than money. Fans of Jackie Ashenden’s Make You and Kresley Cole’s The Master, Unexpected, will devour the super steamy and fast paced first book, The Marriage Contract in the O’ Malley series by NYT and USA Today Bestselling Author Katee Robert.

Series: The O’Malley Series #1
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Release Date: Paperback- December 22, 2015 Digital- June 2, 2015
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing- Forever


Synopsis:

Teague O’Malley hates pretty much everything associated with his family’s name. And when his father orders him to marry Callista Sheridan to create a “business” alliance, Teague’s ready to tell his dad exactly where he can stuff his millions. But then Teague actually meets his new fiancée, sees the bruises on her neck and the fight still left in her big blue eyes, and he decides he will do everything in his power to protect her.
Everyone knows the O’Malleys have a dangerous reputation. But Callie wasn’t aware of just what that meant until she saw Teague, the embodiment of lethal grace and coiled power. His slightest touch sizzles through her. The closer they get, though, the more trouble they’re in. Because Callie’s keeping a dark secret—and what Teague doesn’t know could get him killed.

Get More information at: Goodreads  | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | iTunes
About Katee Robert:

New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling author Katee Robert learned to tell her stories at her grandpa’s knee. She found romance novels at age twelve and it changed her life. When not writing sexy contemporary and speculative fiction romance novels, she spends her time playing imaginary games with her wee ones, driving her husband batty with what-if questions, and planning for the inevitable zombie apocalypse.  
Connect with Katee at: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Google + | GoodReads | Instagram | Tumblr | Youtube

EXCERPT

“Don’t lie to me.”
She shivered under that unrelenting gaze, and licked her lips, all too aware of how he tracked the movement. “It won’t happen again.”
“You’re right. Because I’m going to kill the bastard.” He kept stroking her skin, his touch doing strange things to parts of her body that weren’t anywhere near her neck. “Tell me his name.”
She wouldn’t, even if the man who’d hurt her wasn’t already dead. Even in their messed-up world, murder was a last resort—something to be avoided at all costs—not something you did for a woman you barely knew. “No.”
“Your father hasn’t been keeping what’s his safe.” Another stroke, this one closer to her jawline. “That’s his mistake—one I won’t be making as well. His name, Callista.”
Oh God, oh God, oh God. She had to get a handle on this now. She’d never considered herself one to crack under pressure, but this man put his hands on her and spoke in that quiet, confident way that promised violence to anyone who touched her, and she was dangerously close to losing control. Which kind of control was up for grabs, so she went with the least likely to reveal her secret.
She kissed him, her heels giving her enough height that she barely had to go up on her toes. Her lips brushed his, and for one interminable second she was sure neither of them took a breath.
Then his arms were around her, and he took the last step to bring their chests flush together and her back against the wall. Even knowing she should be panicking at being pinned, she slipped her arms around his neck and traced the seam of his lips with her tongue.
That was all it took.
He let go of her throat to cup the back of her head, and then she was in the middle of the single most devastating kiss of her life. His tongue stroked hers, claiming her mouth—her body—as his own. His hands stayed in place even as he continued the assault on her mouth, his touch headier than the nicotine. She arched against him, tilting her head to allow him better access, and he growled in approval.
Whatever she’d expected from this kiss, it certainly hadn’t been desire. Though desire was too tame a word. She’d felt desire before, and this wasn’t it. This was…need. All-consuming need that devoured everything in its path, leaving only destruction in its wake.





Saturday, December 19, 2015

0 Spotlight: Tales of Byzantium by Eileen Stephenson

02_Tales of Byzantium

Tales of Byzantium: A Selection of Short Stories
by Eileen Stephenson

Publication Date: May 2, 2015
Paperback & eBook; 152 Pages

Genre: History

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A young empress defies her powerful father for love and her rightful place on the throne.

A charismatic commander takes the gamble of a lifetime to save the lives of thousands of innocents.

An exiled princess finds a new sense of purpose and creates a legacy that will stand through the ages.

These stories provide a glimpse of the dynamic and proud Byzantines who lived during the height of the empire's splendor.

"Through elegantly described details, sharply observed characters, and especially crisp, modern-sounding dialogue, Stephenson takes these vignettes from the thousand years of Byzantine history, mixes them liberally with such excellent modern narrative histories as John Julius Norwich's A Short History of Byzantium, and manages to create three very intriguing windows into a part of history largely unknown to many readers." -Anne McNulty, Historical Novel Society Indie Reviews

AMAZON


03_Eileen StephensonAbout the Author

Eileen Stephenson was born in Fort Worth, Texas but spent most of her life in the Washington, DC area. She has degrees from both Georgetown University and George Washington University (neither involving the Byzantines) and is married with three daughters. Her interest in Byzantine history all started one fateful day when every other book in the library looked boring except for John Julius Norwich's A Short History of Byzantium.

WEBSITE | BLOG | FACEBOOK | GOODREADS


Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, December 14
Review at Library Educated
Interview at Let Them Read Books

Tuesday, December 15

Wednesday, December 16
Guest Post at A Bookish Affair

Thursday, December 17
Spotlight at CelticLady's Reviews

Friday, December 18
Interview at Dianne Ascroft Blog
Spotlight at The Writing Desk

Saturday, December 19
Spotlight at Teatime and Books

Sunday, December 20

Monday, December 21
Review at Book Nerd
Interview at Flashlight Commentary

Tuesday, December 22
Review at Luxury Reading
Review & Giveaway at One Book Shy of a Full Shelf

Giveaway

To win a Paperback copy of Tales of Byzantium by Eileen Stephenson please enter the giveaway via the GLEAM form below.

Rules

– Giveaway starts at 12:01am EST on December 14th and ends at 11:59pm EST on December 22nd. You must be 18 or older to enter.
– Giveaway is open internationally.
– Only one entry per household.
– All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspect of fraud is decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion
– Winner has 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.



04_Tales of Byzantium_Blog Tour Banner_FINAL

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

0 Review: The Seafront Tearoom

Title: The Seafront Tearoom
Author: Vanessa Greene
Publisher: Berkley
Publisher: December 1, 2015
Ebook, ARC
ISBN13: 9780425281260
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Source: NetGalley





Summary:

The first rule of afternoon tea: never rush. Take time to savor it. Just like friendship…

The Seafront Tearoom is an insider secret in small-town Scarborough – a beach-front haven with the best tea and cakes in town – and journalist Charlie Harrison would love to put it on the map with a feature in her magazine. But single mom Kat Murray doesn’t want to see her favorite sanctuary overrun by tourists, and begs Charlie to seek out other options. She offers her help, as a “tea obsessive,” and so does French au pair Séraphine Moreau, whose upbringing makes her a connoisseur of everything sweet and indulgent.

Together the three women will scour the countryside for quaint hideaways and hidden gems, sharing along the way their secrets, disappointments, and dreams – and discovering that friendship, like tea, takes time to steep. But learning too that once you open your heart, the possibilities are endless.

My Thoughts:

Vanessa Greene has written many books that feature tea including, The Vintage Teacup Club and Tuesdays at the Teacup Club. Tea is a warm, comforting, relaxing, and rejuvenating pleasure just like her latest book, The Seafront Tearoom. Which centers around a quaint little cafe called The Seafront Tearoom. The Seafront Tearoom is a hush-hush little jewel that the town of Scarborough likes to keep hidden from tourists, lest it ruin their little hideaway. 

This book centers around three friends who are each at a crossroad in their life. Kat, who is a single mother, is trying to find a job. Seraphine has moved from France to be an au pair and is struggling to connect to her charge. Charlie is career driven but is struggling to overcome a betrayal of her past and rekindle a connection to her family. The Seafront Tearoom is the backdrop where they forge a friendship over tea and scones that will help them find the strength to make hard choices and move forward in their lives.

The Seafront Tearoom is the perfect book to curl up on you couch with during these cold months. It's warm theme of friendship and the talk of tea left me warm and fuzzy. And at times even a little hungry--the ladies do their fair share of baking delicious treats to go with their afternoon tea. It also has made me crave homemade strawberry jam. Anybody want to send some my way? The story was a little predictable at times, but it's still an enjoyable read. The characters have a quality to them that make them seem real. Overall, this is an enjoyable story. It's the first book I've read by Vanessa Greene, and I'd love to read another. 

My Rating:
3.5



Tuesday, December 15, 2015

0 Happy on-sale day to @DarlenePanzera for her newest sweet Western romance MONTANA HEARTS:SWEET TALKIN' ROMANCE! http://bit.ly/1QfmOI8

MONTANA HEARTS:
SWEET TALKIN’ COWBOY
By Darlene Panzera
Avon Books, an Imprint of HarperCollins Publishers
Fiction; Western Romance
December 15, 2015
E-book ISBN: 9780062394705; $.99




About the Book:
Darlene Panzera continues her heartwarming Western series with a roughed-up cowboy, the feisty girl next door, and the deal that brings them together

If it wasn't for an injury to his leg, Luke Collins would be riding rodeo broncos all day, every day. Until he heals, he's determined to help his family's guest ranch bring in money any way he can. But when a cranky neighbor gets in the way of his goal, Luke turns to the only person he knows can help: the gorgeous, rodeo-barrel-racing spitfire next door.

It's no secret: Sammy Jo's father is a pain in the neck. But if anyone can persuade him, it's her. So when Luke asks for help, Sammy Jo is more than willing to make a deal with the handsome cowboy. The cost? He's gotta get back up on that horse—with Sammy Jo's help, of course.

As teamwork reveals a deeper connection, Luke finds himself falling for the beautiful girl next door. But to win her heart? He'll just have to do whatever it takes.


Buy SWEET TALKIN’ COWBOY by Darlene Panzera:

About the Author:
DARLENE PANZERA writes sweet, fun-loving romance and is a member of the Romance Writers of America’s Greater Seattle chapter. Her career launched when her novella “The Bet” was picked by Avon Books and New York Times bestselling author Debbie Macomber to be published within Debbie’s own novel, Family Affair. Darlene says, “I love writing stories that help inspire people to laugh, value relationships, and pursue their dreams.”

Born and raised in New Jersey, Darlene is now a resident of the Pacific Northwest, where she lives with her husband and three children. When not writing she enjoys spending time with her family and her two horses, and loves camping, hiking, photography, and lazy days at the lake.

Join her on Facebook or at www.darlenepanzera.com.

Connect with Darlene Panzera:
Twitter: https://twitter.com/@DarlenePanzera

Monday, December 14, 2015

0 In the Shadow of the Storm Guest Post

02_In the Shadow of the Storm

In the Shadow of the Storm (The King's Greatest Enemy, Book One)
by Anna Belfrage

Publication Date: November 1, 2015
Silverwood Books
eBook & Print; 398 Pages
Genre: Historical Fiction

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Adam de Guirande owes his lord, Sir Roger Mortimer, much more than loyalty. He owes Sir Roger for his life and all his worldly good, he owes him for his beautiful wife – even if Kit is not quite the woman Sir Roger thinks she is. So when Sir Roger rises in rebellion against the king, Adam has no choice but to ride with him – no matter what the ultimate cost may be.

England in 1321 is a confusing place. Edward II has been forced by his barons to exile his favourite, Hugh Despenser. The barons, led by the powerful Thomas of Lancaster, Roger Mortimer and Humphrey de Bohun, have reasons to believe they have finally tamed the king. But Edward is not about to take things lying down, and fate is a fickle mistress, favouring first one, then the other.

Adam fears his lord has over-reached, but at present Adam has other matters to concern him, first and foremost his new wife, Katherine de Monmouth. His bride comes surrounded by rumours concerning her and the baron, and he hates it when his brother snickers and whispers of used goods.

Kit de Courcy has the misfortune of being a perfect double of Katherine de Monmouth – which is why she finds herself coerced into wedding a man under a false name. What will Adam do when he finds out he has been duped?

Domestic matters become irrelevant when the king sets out to punish his rebellious barons. The Welsh Marches explode into war, and soon Sir Roger and his men are fighting for their very lives. When hope splutters and dies, when death seems inevitable, it falls to Kit to save her man – if she can.

In the Shadow of the Storm is the first in Anna Belfrage’s new series, The King’s Greatest Enemy, the story of a man torn apart by his loyalties to his baron, his king, and his wife.

Series Graphic

AMAZON | BARNES & NOBLE | BOOK DEPOSITORY



Where do they come from?


Sometimes, people ask me where I get my ideas from.
“They just come to me,” I reply. Of course, this is a simplification: in general, something has snagged my attention, and while I go on with the humdrum of everyday life, my subconscious is happily beavering away, building a veritable mountain out of that little fact that first had me hooked.

Once my subconscious is happy with this initial outline it decides it is time to poke me into action. My subconscious – or my inner muse, if you will – is a somewhat intimidating female presence. I picture her as tall, dark hair swept up in a magnificent hairdo from which curls spill every which way (at times giving her an eerie likeness to the Medusa) and dressed in skirts so long and wide they swirl around her as she moves. She is impatient, has a touch of OCD, and will gladly rip my sleep to pieces if that is what it takes to get my attention.

She is also devious. This is probably why she very often starts by introducing Mr Lead to me. Seeing as she’s my subconscious, she has a pretty good idea what sort of men I fall for – I like men with convictions, strong enough to shoulder whatever burdens come their way, brave enough to admit that sometimes they are scared and vulnerable. Plus it helps if they’re easy on the eye, and Ms Subconscious is good at having my dreams populated with one handsome man after the other. Actually, that is incorrect: Ms Subconscious has a monogamist streak, so once she’s created Mr Lead, she bombards me with images of him – sleeping, laughing, fighting, riding, taking a bath (naked, of course), comforting his woman, supporting his lord.

Adam de Guirande started off as one of those dreams. Tall, fair – a throwback on his Saxon ancestors rather than his Norman father – he popped up one night, his eyes resting on a shadowy young woman, as yet no more than a distant shape. His future bride, he explained with a crooked smile. Yet another favour from his lord, Baron Mortimer, this bride who came with substantial dowry – and a tarnished reputation.
“One should never believe in rumours,” I told him sternly, and the woman smiled at me, allowing me a glimpse of hair the colour of conkers in autumn, eyes as blue as cornflowers. Aha! I was on to something! The prospective bride was not quite what Adam expected her to be…
“Of course not,” Ms Subconscious muttered. “What would be the fun in that?”

From that rather vague beginning, In the Shadow of the Storm began to take shape. Adam de Guirande is a man sworn to serve his lord, willing to die for Roger Mortimer if that should be necessary. So far, his life has been relatively uncomplicated: Lord Roger has been a loyal baron to King Edward II, so serving him has been serving the king. But since some months back, things have changed, Mortimer heading the rebellion that forces the king to exile his favourites. And now, the king intends to strike back… Not good, as per Adam.

Neither is he entirely happy with this proposed marriage – but Lord Roger insists it must go forward, and to Adam’s surprise he finds himself developing feelings for his wife. Such feelings increase his vulnerability: where before he had little to lose but his own life, now there is a woman he has sworn to protect – his wife, Kit. Except of course, that woman is not who she says she is, and once Adam finds out just who she is, things go really wild and crazy as he tries to sort out his feelings from his anger.

“Right,” Ms Subconscious said when we’d gotten this far. “I’ll turn it over to you now, okay?” And just like that, she faded elegantly into the background, leaving me to sort out a love story set against a complicated political background. Fortunately, I had done my research. Come to think of it, I know exactly what it was that triggered Ms Subconscious to begin with: it was the story of Roger Mortimer as such, baron turned rebel, turned escaped prisoner, turned invader, turned regent, turned dictator, turned…One can see where she was coming from: Mortimer’s life reads like a Hollywood adventure, complete with a passionate love affair and a hunger for power. And thanks to Ms Subconscious, Adam de Guirande will be riding side by side with Mortimer, right up to the bitter end.

I cannot promise you an easy journey – life rarely is – but I can assure you Adam and his Kit will have more than their share of adventures as they gallop along in the wake of Mortimer’s fiery trail through history.
“Told you,” Ms Subconscious says, adjusting her purple (Purple? Seriously?) skirts. “Lucky you to have me living in your head. What would you do without me?”

Sleep better? But I don’t say that out loud. Ms Subconscious is a prickly character, and besides, she’s right: what on earth would I do without her?  

03_Annna_Belfrage 2015About the Author

Had Anna been allowed to choose, she’d have become a professional time-traveller. As such a profession does as yet not exists, she settled for second best and became a financial professional with two absorbing interests, namely history and writing. These days, Anna combines an exciting day-job with a large family and her writing endeavours.

When Anna fell in love with her future husband, she got Scotland as an extra, not because her husband is Scottish or has a predilection for kilts, but because his family fled Scotland due to religious persecution in the 17th century – and were related to the Stuarts. For a history buff like Anna, these little details made Future Husband all the more desirable, and sparked a permanent interest in the Scottish Covenanters, which is how Matthew Graham, protagonist of the acclaimed The Graham Saga, began to take shape.

Set in 17th century Scotland and Virginia/Maryland, the series tells the story of Matthew and Alex, two people who should never have met – not when she was born three hundred years after him. With this heady blend of romance, adventure, high drama and historical accuracy, Anna hopes to entertain and captivate, and is more than thrilled when readers tell her just how much they love her books and her characters.

Presently, Anna is hard at work with her next project, a series set in the 1320s featuring Adam de Guirande, his wife Kit, and their adventures and misfortunes in connection with Roger Mortimer’s rise to power. The King’s Greatest Enemy is a series where passion and drama play out against a complex political situation, where today’s traitor may be tomorrow’s hero, and the Wheel of Life never stops rolling.

The first installment in the Adam and Kit story, In the Shadow of the Storm, will be published in the autumn of 2015.

Other than on her website, www.annabelfrage.com, Anna can mostly be found on her blog, http://annabelfrage.wordpress.com – unless, of course, she is submerged in writing her next novel.

Blog Tour Schedule

Tuesday, December 1
Review at I'm Shelfish
Spotlight at Passages to the Past

Wednesday, December 2
Review at Beth's Book Book
Review & Interview at Bookish

Thursday, December 3

Friday, December 4

Sunday, December 6

Monday, December 7

Tuesday, December 8
Review at Book Nerd

Wednesday, December 9

Thursday, December 10
Review at Book Drunkard
Interview at Flashlight Commentary

Friday, December 11
Spotlight at The Never-Ending Book

Monday, December 14
Review at Unshelfish

Tuesday, December 15

Wednesday, December 16
Review at Room with Books

Thursday, December 17

Friday, December 18
Interview at Just One More Chapter

Monday, December 21

Tuesday, December 22
Review at Bookramblings
Review at Broken Teepee

04_In the Shadow of the Storm_Blog Tour Banner_FINAL

Friday, December 11, 2015

0 Decorum Book Blast and Giveaway

02_Decorum

Decorum: A Novel by Kaaren Christopherson

Publication Date: March 31, 2015
Kensington Publishing Corp.
Foramts: eBook, Paperback, Audio
Pages: 425
Genre: Historical Fiction/Romance
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Kaaren Christopherson's brilliantly observed novel captures the glamour and gritof one of the world's most dazzling cities during one of its most tumultuous eras--as seen through the eyes of a singularly captivating heroine...In 1890s New York, beautiful, wealthy Francesca Lund is an intriguing prospect for worthy suitors and fortune hunters alike. Recently orphaned, she copes by working with the poor in the city's settlement movement. But a young woman of means can't shun society for long, and Francesca's long-standing acquaintance with dashing Edmund Tracey eventually leads to engagement. Yet her sheltered upbringing doesn't blind her to the indiscretions of the well-to-do...Among the fashionable circle that gathers around her there are mistresses, scandals, and gentlemen of ruthless ambition. And there is Connor O'Casey--an entirely new kind of New Yorker. A self-made millionaire of Irish stock, Connor wants more than riches. He wants to create a legacy in the form of a luxury Madison Avenue hotel--and he wants Francesca by his side as he does it. In a quest that will take her from impeccable Manhattan salons to the wild Canadian Rockies, Francesca must choose not only between two vastly different men, but between convention and her own emerging self-reliance.

Rules Of Decorum

A gentleman should not be presented to a lady without her permission being previously asked and granted. This formality is not necessary between men alone;but, still, you should not present any one, even at his own request, to another,unless you are quite well assured that the acquaintance will be agreeable to thelatter.If you wish to avoid the company of any one that has been properly introduced, satisfy your own mind that your reasons are correct; and then let no inducement cause you to shrink from treating him with respect, at the same time shunning
his company. No gentleman will thus be able either to blame or mistake you.The mode in which the avowal of love should be made, must of course, depend uponcircumstances. It would be impossible to indicate the style in which the matter should be told... Let it, however, be taken as a rule that an interview is best;but let it be remembered that all rules have exceptions...

Praise

A story of discovery, entitlement and love. - Northern Virginia Magazine

Remarkable in its similarities to the work of Edith Wharton. The reader feels drawn into a world of glamour, glitz, and supreme hypocrisy. Everything is permissible as long as one does not get caught. It is a drama of manners and the stakes are high one misstep could mean social oblivion [Decorum] will appeal to a wide range of readers, particularly those who enjoy period novels such as Age of Innocence and The Portrait of a Lady. - The Historical Novel Society

Beautiful heiress Francesca Lund must figure out how to assert her ideas within the confines of 1890 s New York high society. - Library Journal

Reminiscent of Washington Square but with a more modern heroine, Decorum illuminates the dark world beneath New York society. Christopherson incorporatesa clever mystery and populates the novel with a large cast of characters. - RT Book Reviews, 4 Stars

About the Author

03_Kaaren ChristophersonKaaren Christophersonis the author of Decorum a novel about Gilded Age New York that began taking form in 1999 during a course on writing historical fiction. From that moment, Connor O Casey (who had been rattling around in her brain for months) finally appeared one night and said, All right, woman. Here I am. What are you going to do about my story? So she began to put his words on paper, and he hasn't kept quiet since. Soon Francesca, Blanche, Tracey, Vinnie, and the rest of the characters began arguing, gossiping, loving, and forming themselves into Kaaren s first novel.Kaaren has had a professional career writing and editing for over 30 years and is a senior editor for an international development nonprofit organization in Washington, DC.She has written fiction since her school days, story poems, children s books, historical fiction, and time travel, and continues to be active in writer's groups and writing workshops. In addition to her career as a writer, Kaaren was the owner of a decorative painting business. She loves to travel and prowl through historical sites, galleries, and museums. She is active in several churches in DC and in her local Northern Virginia community, where she shares her home with feline brothers, Archie and Sammy.A Michigan native, Kaaren received her BA in history and art and her MA in educational administration from Central Michigan University in Mt. Pleasant, Michigan.For more information visit Kaaren Christopherson's website. You canalso find her on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.

Giveaway

To win a Paperback or AudioBook of Decorum please enter the giveaway via the GLEAM form below.
Rules Giveaway starts at 12:01am EST on November 15th and ends at 11:59pm EST on December 18th. You must be 18 or older to enter. Giveaway is open internationally. Only one entry per household. All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspect of fraud is decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion Winner has 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.

Monday, December 7, 2015

1 Fooling Around With Cinderella Excerpt and Giveaway


Enter to Win a 
Custom Pink-Beaded Cinderella Charm Bracelet



FOOLING AROUND WITH CINDERELLA
Storybook Valley #1
Stacy Juba
Released November 9th, 2015
Self Published



What happens when the glass slippers pinch Cinderella's toes?

When Jaine Andersen proposes a new marketing role to the local amusement park, general manager Dylan Callahan charms her into filling Cinderella’s glass slippers for the summer. Her reign transforms Jaine’s ordinary life into chaos that would bewilder a fairy godmother. Secretly dating her bad boy boss, running wedding errands for her ungrateful sisters, and defending herself from the park’s resident villain means Jaine needs lots more than a comfy pair of shoes to restore order in her kingdom.

First in the Storybook Valley series, a blend of sweet romance, chick lit, and fairy tale fun.

BUY NOW
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& N
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Dylan scrutinized Jaine, arms folded across his royal blue shirt with the Storybook Valley logo stamped over the left in white block letters. “Do you wear contacts?”
“I have plenty of media contacts. Wait. Did you say wear contacts? You mean instead of these?” Jaine fingered the earpiece of her gold-rimmed glasses.
“Right. Contact lenses.”
She gave a nervous chuckle. “I scheduled a consultation in college, but was too squeamish to insert the lens. I was more comfortable in glasses.”
Was she really justifying her vision enhancement choices to her prospective new boss? Maybe he intended to discuss medical benefits. Or did he think she looked nerdy? What was the saying? Guys don’t make passes at girls who wear glasses? Not that she wanted him to make a pass even if he was hot.
“How blind are you without glasses?” Dylan persisted.
“You wouldn’t want to drive with me.”
“How about if you’re walking around a building? Are you in danger of hurting yourself?”
This interview had taken the Mad Hatter Freeway from Fairy Tale Land into Wonderland where nothing made a damn bit of sense. Did this guy have a glasses fetish, like those weirdoes with shoe fetishes?
“I should be okay. I take them off for special occasions.” In fact, Jaine’s older sister Bree, who was getting married in August, remarked just last week, “You are losing the glasses for my wedding pictures, right?”
What the hell. She’d be a good sport and hope Dylan would be so grateful to pick the brain of a real, flesh and blood, bespectacled person that he would appoint her marketing director. Jaine removed her glasses and the fine details of her surroundings fuzzed. She nodded toward the framed print hanging on a side wall, the picture a wash of symbols and colors. “I can tell that’s a park map, but the words and images smear together.”
And that was myopia in a nutshell. Jaine adjusted her glasses back into place so she could see his reaction. Dylan examined her with such intensity that a blush stained her cheeks. She patted her blonde French braid, in case stray strands were straggling out.
“Here’s the situation,” Dylan said. “I took over the general manager position a few months ago. I’m evaluating possible changes and researching how other theme parks run. My grandfather and father have worked with a marketing firm for years to create our brochures, billboards, print, and radio ads.”
Jaine’s shoulders caved, imperceptible to him, but it felt as if her whole body was sinking.

No fairy tale job ending for her.







Stacy Juba got engaged at Epcot Theme
Park and spent part of her honeymoon at Disneyland Paris, where she ate a
burger, went on fast rides, and threw up on the train ride to the hotel. In
addition to working on her new Storybook Valley chick lit/sweet romance series,
Stacy has written books about ice hockey, teen psychics, U.S. flag etiquette
for kids, and determined women sleuths. She has had a novel ranked as #5 in the
Nook Store and #30 on the Amazon Kindle Paid List. 

When she’s not visiting
theme parks with her family, (avoiding rides that spin and exotic hamburgers),
or writing about them, Stacy helps authors to strengthen their manuscripts
through her Crossroads Editing Service. She is currently writing the next book
in the Storybook Valley Series, Prancing Around with Sleeping Beauty.






 

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