Monday, February 29, 2016

0 Here's a little something you might want to add to your tbr pile.



THE SERPENT KING (On sale March 8, 2016 / $17.99 / Ages 14 & up) by singer-songwriter Jeff Zentner
In this emotional story, the son of a Pentecostal preacher faces his personal demons as he and his two outcast friends try to make it through their senior year of high school in rural Forrestville, Tennessee, without letting the small-town culture destroy their creative spirits and sense of self. Drawing from his own roots growing up in the south, Zentner’s debut is haunting, heartbreaking, and hopeful, and is  in the vein of beloved novels The Perks of Being a WallflowerLooking for Alaska, and Eleanor & Park.

Check out the annotated pages by Jeff Zentner 






PRAISE for THE SERPENT KING


One of Paste Magazine’s “10 Most Anticipated YA Books of 2016”

“Zentner’s prose wraps you up like a warm, Southern hug and packs the punches of a sweaty country brawl...The Serpent King is a debut you won’t be able to resist or forget. The Southern Boy in me savored every syllable and the reader in me fell in love with every page.”
—John Corey Whaley,
author of Where Things Come Back, winner of the Michael L. Printz Award and William C. Morris Award

The Serpent King gripped me in its coils and kept me turning pages late into the night.
A triumph of love and dignity.”
—Stephanie Perkins,
New York Times bestselling author

“[T]his sepia-toned portrait of small-town life serves as a moving testament to love, loyalty, faith, and reaching through the darkness to find light and hope. Zentner explores difficult themes head on—including the desire to escape the sins of the father and the fragility of happiness—while tempering them with the saving grace of enduring friendship.”
— Publishers Weekly, Starred Review

“Thorough characterization and artful prose allow readers to intimately experience the highs and lows of these three friends . . . Recommended for fans of John Green and Rainbow Rowell.”
— School Library Journal

“Characters, incidents, dialogue, the poverty of the rural South, enduring friendship, a desperate clinging to strange faiths, fear of the unknown, and an awareness of the courage it takes to survive, let alone thrive, are among this fine novel's strengths. Zentner writes with understanding and grace—a new voice to savor.”
— Kirkus Reviews

“A musician himself, Zentner transitions to prose easily in his debut, pulling in complex issues that range from struggles with faith to abuse to grief. Refreshingly, this novel isn’t driven by romance—though it rears its head—but by the importance of pursuing individual passions and forging one’s own path. A promising new voice in YA.”
— Booklist

“A moving debut novel of friendship and forgiveness that will stick with you long after you’ve finished it, I’m calling it now… The Serpent King is already one of my favorite books of 2016.”
— Eric Smith for BookRiot



Jeff Zentner lives in Nashville, Tennessee. He came to writing through music, starting his creative life as a guitarist and eventually becoming a songwriter. He’s released five albums and appeared on recordings with Iggy Pop, Nick Cave, Warren Ellis, Thurston Moore, Debbie Harry, Mark Lanegan, and Lydia Lunch, among others.

Now he writes novels for young adults. He became interested in writing for young adults after volunteering at the Tennessee Teen Rock Camp and Southern Girls Rock Camp. As a kid, his parents would take him to the library and drop him off, where he would read until closing time. He worked at various bookstores through high school and college.

He speaks fluent Portuguese, having lived in the Amazon region of Brazil for two years.


2 This Is The Air I Breathe



Yesterday, a friend of mine introduced me to her mother. She told her mother about my blog and my job and explained that her mother was a big reader too. Her mother then proceeded to ask me what I was currently reading. I told her at the moment I wasn't reading anything. Which is a strange thing for me to say or even admit. But it's true. For the past few months my life has been in emotional turmoil and for the past few weeks my life has been turned upside down. And because of it, I find myself unable to enjoy the pleasure of a good book.

Please forgive me if my words seem wooden because I feel wooden. Over a year ago my mother-in-law was diagnosed with cancer. She had her kidney removed and her prognosis was good. The doctor believed he had removed all the cancer. Six months ago, she found out that the cancer was back, so she started chemo. At first the chemo didn't seem to affect her much. She was still able to do all the things she normally did--but it didn't last.

November is when it started hitting her pretty hard. She found that she easily tired after a simple task. Then in January things got really bad. She could hardly keep anything down and she couldn't really function by herself. She was hospitalized at the beginning of February for dehydration. What we thought would be a short stint in hospital turned out to be much longer. Her first few days in the hospital, the family planned on trying to get her into a rehabilitation center so she could build up her strength and get the attention she needed. However that was not meant to be. On February 13, her doctor called us in to let everyone know that he did not expect her to make it.

I'm not ashamed to admit that I broke down at that moment. It was a surreal moment. I never doubted in my mind that she would make it through this. Until then. But there it was.

The days that followed were both sorrowful and, as strange as it may sound, joyful. She was still lucid at this point. We were able to say everything we needed to her and she to us. We stayed with her around the clock until she passed a few days later. One of the things we were grateful for was that she was never in any pain, and she passed in her sleep. In a strange way it was comforting.

Since then, I've been in sort of a fog. Wondering around aimlessly trying to move forward. At times, it's easy. Other's not so much. I never realized how stressful, emotional, and tiring the last few months have been until it was over and my body began to let go of all the emotions I have been holding onto so tightly.

My current predicament is not unique. There are so many people who are currently breathing the same air as I am right now. And while I would not wish this upon another living soul, it's comforting to know that I'm not alone in this. Life goes on, and so must we.

Today is my first day back at work, the blog, and all the other activities that I put aside for the last month. I look over at my tbr pile and patiently wait for the book I'll read next to call out "pick me." It hasn't happened yet. But I hope today is that day. Reading has always been my escape, my therapy, my joy. Not being able to read during this whole ordeal has taken its toll. And I so desperately want to lose myself in a good book.

I want to thank everyone for their patience while I took the time off that I needed. Thank you to the people who let me reschedule or cancel last minute without giving me any grief over it. If you sent an email, I will get to it, but as it turns out: when you don't check your email for a while it really piles up! Features and reviews and the whole lot will be back in March.

Thank you for listening.


Friday, February 26, 2016

0 Spotlight: The Vatican Princess

02_The Vatican Princess

The Vatican Princess: A Novel of Lucrezia Borgia

by C.W. Gortner

Publication Date: February 9, 2016
Ballantine Books
Hardcover, Ebook, Audiobook
400 Pages
Genre: Historical Fiction
Add to GR Button  

Infamy is no accident. It is a poison in our blood. It is the price of beinga Borgia.Glamorous and predatory, the Borgias fascinated and terrorized 15th-century Renaissance Italy. Lucrezia Borgia, beloved daughter of the pope, was at the center of the dynasty s ambitions. Slandered as a heartless seductress who luredmen to their doom, was she in fact the villainess of legend, or was she trapped in a familial web, forced to choose between loyalty and survival?With the ascension of the Spaniard Rodrigo Borgia as Pope Alexander VI, the new pope s illegitimate children his rival sons, Cesare and Juan, and beautiful  young daughter Lucrezia assume an exalted position in the papal court. Privileged and adored, Lucrezia yearns to escape her childhood and play a part in her family s fortunes. But Rome is seductive and dangerous: Alliances shift at a moment s notice as Italy s ruling dynasties strive to keep rivals at bay. As Lucrezia s father faces challenges from all sides, he s obliged to marry her off  to a powerful adversary. But when she discovers the brutal truth behind her alliance, Lucrezia is plunged into a perilous gambit that will require all her wits, cunning, and guile. Escaping her marriage offers the chance of happiness with a passionate prince of Naples, yet as scandalous accusations of murder and incest build against her, menacing those she loves, Lucrezia must risk everything to overcome the lethal fate imposed upon her by her Borgia blood.Beautifully wrought, rich with fascinating historical detail, The Vatican Princess is the first novel to describe Lucrezia s coming-of-age in her own voice a dramatic, vivid tale set in an era of savagery and unparalleled splendor, where enemies and allies can be one and the same, and where loyalty tofamily can ultimately be a curse.

AMAZON | BARNES & NOBLE | INDIEBOUND

Praise

"Assiduously researched and expertly crafted . . . . This unholy plunge into Rome's darkest dynasty is wholly engrossing." - Allison Pataki, New York Times bestselling author"A spider web of Renaissance intrigue with a legendary cast . . . Impressive research, a lush background, and deft characterization make for a fascinating
read." - Margaret George, New York Times bestselling author"Elegantly written and deeply researched . . . Renaissance Italy is vividly brought to life. I m captivated by this knowledgeable author s take on the  controversial Borgias." - Alison Weir, NYT bestselling author

03_CW GortnerAbout the Author

C.W. GORTNER holds an MFA in Writing with an emphasis in Renaissance Studies from the New College of California, as well as an AA from the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising in San Francisco.After an eleven year-long career in fashion, during which he worked as a vintageretail buyer, freelance publicist, and fashion show coordinator, C.W. devoted the next twelve years to the public health sector. In 2012, he became a full-time writer following the international success of his novels.In his extensive travels to research his books, he has danced a galliard at Hampton Court, learned about organic gardening at Chenoceaux, and spent a chillynight in a ruined Spanish castle. His books have garnered widespread acclaim andbeen translated into twenty-one languages to date, with over 400,000 copies sold. A sought-after public speaker. C.W. has given keynote addresses at writer conferences in the US and abroad. He is also a dedicated advocate for animal rights, in particular companion animal rescue to reduce shelter overcrowding.Half-Spanish by birth and raised in southern Spain, C.W. now lives in Northern California with his partner and two very spoiled rescue cats.For more information visit C.W. Gortner s website and blog. You can also find him on Facebook, Twittter, Goodreads, Pinterest, and YouTube. Sign up for C.W. Gortner s Newsletter for updates.

Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, February 15 Blog Tour Kick-Off at The Maiden's Court
Tuesday, February 16 Review at Book Lovers Paradise Interview at LetThem Read Books
Wednesday, February 17 Review at UnshelfishReview at Flashlight Commentary
Thursday, February 18 Interview at Flashlight Commentary
Monday, February 22 Review at Luxury Reading
Tuesday, February 23 Review at Oh, forthe Hook of a Book!
Wednesday, February 24 Review at The Lit Bitch Review at Historical Fiction Obsession Interview at Oh, for the Hook of a Book!
Thursday, February 25Review at A Bookish Affair
Friday, February 26Review at Broken Teepee Spotlight at To Read, Or Notto Read Interview at A Bookish Affair04_The Vatican Princess_Blog Tour Banner_FINAL

Thursday, February 18, 2016

4 Q&A with Maia Chance, Excerpt, and Giveaway




Q&A with Maia Chance - Beauty, Beast, and Belladonna


1)      Describe Beauty, Beast, and Belladonna in 140 characters or less.

Beauty, Beast, and Belladonna is a fun, adventurous, and romantic historical mystery set in a secret-riddled French chateau in 1867.

         2.)  What is your idea of perfect happiness?

           Happiness for me is spending time outside somewhere beautiful, with my husband, kids, and dog.

3.)    What’s your favorite part of Ophelia’s quirky personality?

I like the way Ophelia compensates in creative and gutsy ways for her lack of a good formal education.  She’s smart and resourceful and she uses her unusual skill set—farm girl, circus performer, actress—to help solve the mystery.

4.)    Which living person do you most admire?

My husband, actually.  He is an unusually gifted person who overcame significant disadvantages and obstacles to get where he is today.  And he gives the best pep-talks!

5.)    What inspired you to marry fairytales and mystery?

I was searching for something that hadn’t been done yet, and I was reading a lot of fairy tale criticism for school at the time.  It sounded like a deliciously fun project, so I plunged in.

6.)    Is there a type of scene that's harder for you to write than others? Love? Action? Racy? 

Dialogue definitely comes more easily for me.  I find action scenes more challenging—I’m paranoid that they’ll get bogged down.  (So if I can, I add dialogue to my action scenes!)

7.)    What do you consider the most overrated virtue?
Sticking to strict schedules.  I don’t like to keep people waiting, but there is something to be said for giving yourself creative or restful wiggle-room during the day.

8.)    Which of the characters in this novel do you feel the most drawn to?

 I became more attached to Professor Penrose in this book.  He’s more vulnerable and at a loss than in the previous two books—and more deeply in love.

9.)    Which words or phrases do you most overuse? 

Oh, my.  Probably dozens.  I seem to like “buzz” a lot for some reason.  I’m deleting it all the time.

10.) Can you describe for us your process for naming characters?

For historical American characters I use census records.  I collect names from cemeteries whenever I visit one, and I often borrow names from literature.  Since my books have lots of characters, I try to give them all distinctive names that hint at their personalities, to help the reader keep everyone sorted in their mind.

11.) Who are your favorite writers?

Agatha Christie, P.G. Wodehouse, Edith Wharton and Theodor Adorno.

12.) Who is your most loved hero of fiction?

Indiana Jones.

13.) Which talent would you most like to have?

It would be ecstasy to be a really, really great opera singer.

14.) You're hosting a dinner party, which five authors (dead or alive) would you invite?

P. G. Wodehouse would probably be the life of any party.  Also, Agatha Christie, Edgar Allan Poe, Shakespeare, and F. Scott Fitzgerald.  There would be lots of drinking at this party.  Maybe some arguments.  No strip poker though.

15.) Do you have a favorite time period in literature?

Not really.  Because of my English degrees I have read very widely, and I have favorites from every era.  And every era has its stultifying boring authors, too.

16.) What is your motto?
Keep trying.

17.) What is the best reaction over a book that you’ve ever gotten from a fan?

Fans who say my book gave them pure pleasure—that’s happened a few times—make me so happy.  It’s my aim to give people something to read that’s a pleasurable and absorbing diversion from Real Life.  Real Life is hard.

18.) Where would you most like to live?

A place with lots of trees where I could do all my daily activities and errands on foot.  I’m working on it.

19.) Which historical figure do you most identify with?

No one specific, but I often think of the female writers over the centuries who kept at their stories even when they had screaming kids and the dinner to cook and a really messy house piling up around them.  They did it, and so can I.

20.) What are you working on next?


 I just completed a humorous contemporary mystery that does not yet have a publisher, and I’m working on a historical fantasy adventure with a co-author.  After that, the next thing will be book #3 of the Discreet Retrieval Agency series.



EXCERPT

“What’s this?” Ophelia had almost stepped on something at the base of the cave wall.
            Penrose crouched and held the lantern over it.  “Good God,” he muttered.  “Is it . . . a shrine?”
            Small earthenware dishes held what appeared to be chocolate drops, purple berries, and loose pearls.  A clay vase held a red and white striped rose.
            Churches in New England didn’t have shrines.  They didn’t even have stained glass windows or statues.
            “Pearls,” Ophelia said.  “Madame Dieudonné was missing a pearl necklace.”  But—she looked carefully at the shrine—no ruby ring.  Still, the pearls connected the shrine, very loosely, to the missing ring.  There was hope yet.
            “This resembles the offerings people of the Orient assemble for their gods or ancestors,” Penrose said.
            “Those are belladonna berries, professor.”  The skin of Ophelia’s back felt all itchy and crawly, and she stole a glance to the black gap where the cave continued into the earth.  Someone could be back there.  Watching.
            “Miss Flax,” Penrose said slowly.  “Look at this.”  He lifted the lantern, illuminating the picture on the wall above the shrine.
            Heavens to Betsy.  A carved, black-painted beast, half-man, half-boar, undulated in the light.
            The body of the beast was like a man’s, although the feet seemed—Gabriel squinted—yes, they seemed to have hooves.  But the head!  It was unmistakably that of a furry boar, with large pointed tusks and tiny round ears.
            A slight crunching sound made Gabriel and Miss Flax freeze.  Their eyes met.
            Silence.
            Gabriel knew that somewhere in the shadows, someone or something lay in wait.
            Miss Flax, wide-eyed, in those awful trousers, seemed at once horribly vulnerable and dear beyond measure.  The pistol tucked into Gabriel waistband felt newly heavy.  He picked up the lantern and slowly stood, willing himself not to exude the essence of fear in case whatever was watching was an animal.
            “Come,” he mouthed to Miss Flax, wrapping his free hand around her wrist.  “Slowly.”
            She stayed very close to him as they walked steadily out of the cave.
            They emerged into the cold, damp night.  The moon glowed whitely above.  The air tasted of soil and rot.
            “Shouldn’t you extinguish the lamp?” Miss Flax whispered as they started down the rocky, ice-slicked slope.  “So they can’t see us?”  She tugged her wrist free of his hand so she could climb.
            “Wild animals are afraid of light.”  Gabriel longed to grab her wrist again, to enfold her, keep her safe.  If something were to befall her—
            “It wasn’t an animal in there,” Miss Flax said.  “It was a human being.  I could feel it.  Animals don’t make one feel so frightened.”
            “Not any animals?”
            “No.  Animals never seem evil, and I felt something evil up there in the cave.”

GIVEAWAY

I have one copy of  Beauty, Beast, and Belladonna to give away to a lucky reader. You must be at least 13 years old to enter. Giveaway is for US addresses only. Please read our giveaway policy before entering. 

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

1 Darkly, Deeply, Beautifully Release Day Party



 

DARKNESS HAS FALLEN, AND SHE ALONE WILL SEE THE LIGHT.


With her mother’s life hanging in the balance, Scarlett is devastated – and done with being in the dark. She wants answers, all of them.

But when was her pursuit of the truth ever straightforward?

Pulling a single thread impels a great unravelling. And each revelation will force Scarlett to rethink what she thought she knew about the Ceruleans, the Fallen, her family – herself.

All that came before was a mere prelude to this, the last journey. From London to Twycombe to Hollythwaite to Cerulea, Scarlett will be stalked by the ghosts of what has been, what may have been and what may come to pass. Until she reaches the place where it all began, and it all must end.

But in the final reckoning, none will survive unscathed. And some will not survive at all.

In this explosive conclusion to The Ceruleans series, all must be defined by their actions: sinner, saint… or something more beautiful entirely? 


Excerpt


I kissed Luke then. I kissed him. Like I hadn’t kissed him in more than a week – since before London, since before Hollythwaite, since Barcelona: when we’d been just a regular couple on a city break, wrapped up in each other. Through the kiss I heard his sigh, the release of emotion. And then he pulled me to him, onto his lap, and I kissed his lips, his jaw, his collarbone, his shoulder, and he kissed my lips, my earlobe, my neck, my –
‘No!’
My robe had slipped, exposing my back, and I struggled off him and wrestled with the fabric entangled at my waist.
He stood up. Put his hands on my shoulders. Said my name with so much tenderness that I had to stop. Had to look at him. The room was steamy, the glass doors occluded. No one could see. Only him.
‘Trust me,’ he said.
I did.
Slowly, he turned me. I steeled myself as he took it in, the brand I now wore. Non Serviam. I will not serve. Emblazoned on my back in the form of angry, jagged scar tissue.
When I felt his lips on the nape of my neck, I jerked in shock. But his hands on my hips held me still as he traced the path of the scar, one kiss at a time, from its very top to its termination just above my bikini bottoms.
‘Beautiful,’ he said.
I turned to him. He smiled up at me.
Sinking down so that we were both kneeling, I said, ‘How could you…?’
‘How could I not?’ was his answer. ‘I was there, Scarlett. I saw what you did for your mother. That scar: it’s beautiful.’
‘But it’s a punishment, Luke. Because I sinned. That’s not beautiful. It’s dark. Wrong.’
‘No! Don’t you say that. Trying to save your mother – that could never be wrong. If I’d had the chance, I’d have done it. My mum, my dad, Cara… I’d have saved them all. And you. I would always save you.’
His eyes were glistening, and I lunged for him and hugged him hard.
‘So stop hiding it from me,’ he finished, his voice muffled in my hair. ‘Please. Because I love that scar on you so goddam much.’
I nodded into his shoulder and he squeezed me.
It was calm in our little haven. Still. Warm. Nothing existed but Luke and me. We held each other for a long time, drifting in the haze.
And then Luke sat back and said, ‘So, you and me. We’re good?’
‘We’re good,’ I told him. Then I frowned and added: ‘For now. You know, Gabe, the Fallen: I have no idea what we’re getting into.’
‘Me either.’ He reached out a finger and drew, in the condensation on the glass door, a little lightbulb. ‘But whatever lies ahead,’ he said, ‘it has to be better than living in the dark.’

 


Buy links


 

Megan Tayte bio


Once upon a time a little girl told her grandmother that when she grew up she wanted to be a writer. Or a lollipop lady. Or a fairy princess fireman. ‘Write, Megan,’ her grandmother advised. So that’s what she did.

Thirty-odd years later, Megan is a professional writer and published author by day, and an indie novelist by night. Her fiction – young adult romance with soul – recently earned her the SPR’s Independent Woman Author of the Year award.

Megan grew up in the Royal County, a hop, skip and a (very long) jump from Windsor Castle, but these days she makes her home in a village of Greater Manchester. She lives with her husband, a proud Scot who occasionally kicks back in a kilt; her son, a budding artist with the soul of a palaeontologist; and her baby daughter, a keen pan-and-spoon drummer who sings in her sleep. When she's not writing, you'll find her walking someplace green, reading by the fire, or creating carnage in the kitchen as she pursues her impossible dream: of baking something edible.

You can find Megan online at:
http://megantayte.com/
https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/13478850.Megan_Tayte
https://www.facebook.com/megantayte
https://twitter.com/megantayte
https://www.instagram.com/megantayte/


Giveaway

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, February 15, 2016

1 Movie Star Cast: Ransom by Terri Reed


"WE HAVE YOUR SISTER."

Liz Cantrell is terrified when she receives a call from a man holding her newlywed sister captive - and she's convinced her sketchy brother-in-law's involved. Willing to pay any price for her sister's freedom, Liz flies to Niagara Falls with the ransom: an uncut diamond necklace worth millions. But the moment she lands, a handsome, world-weary Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent takes her into custody. Blake Fallon's determined to catch a ruthless diamond smuggler - and the pretty antiques dealer trying to save her sister could be just the break his case needs. But as they team up to rescue Liz's sister and trap the criminal mastermind, a desperate stand-off will threaten everything they hold precious - including their lives.

Northern Border Patrol: Keeping the US-Canada border safe.




Liz Cantrell to be played by Jade Bryce. I love the color of her hair here and the determined look in her eyes.




Blake Fallon to be played by Milo Ventimiglia. I was a huge fan of the Gilmore Girls and thought Milo was a nice looking young man. And now that he’s a bit older, he’s definitely hero material. I like the intimidating stare here, just what I imagine Blake would use.




Giveaway

I have a copy of Ransom to give away to a lucky reader. You must be at least 13 years old to enter. Giveaway is open to US addresses only. Please read our giveaway policy before entering.


Friday, February 12, 2016

0 The Vatican Princess: A Novel of Lucrezia Borgia by C.W. Gortner Book Blast and Giveaway

02_The Vatican Princess

The Vatican Princess: A Novel of Lucrezia Borgia
by C.W. Gortner

Publication Date: February 9, 2016
Ballantine Books
Hardcover, Ebook, Audiobook
400 Pages

Genre: Historical Fiction

Add to GR Button



Infamy is no accident. It is a poison in our blood. It is the price of being a Borgia.

Glamorous and predatory, the Borgias fascinated and terrorized 15th-century Renaissance Italy. Lucrezia Borgia, beloved daughter of the pope, was at the center of the dynasty’s ambitions. Slandered as a heartless seductress who lured men to their doom, was she in fact the villainess of legend, or was she trapped in a familial web, forced to choose between loyalty and survival?

With the ascension of the Spaniard Rodrigo Borgia as Pope Alexander VI, the new pope’s illegitimate children—his rival sons, Cesare and Juan, and beautiful young daughter Lucrezia—assume an exalted position in the papal court. Privileged and adored, Lucrezia yearns to escape her childhood and play a part in her family’s fortunes. But Rome is seductive and dangerous: Alliances shift at a moment’s notice as Italy’s ruling dynasties strive to keep rivals at bay. As Lucrezia’s father faces challenges from all sides, he’s obliged to marry her off to a powerful adversary. But when she discovers the brutal truth behind her alliance, Lucrezia is plunged into a perilous gambit that will require all her wits, cunning, and guile. Escaping her marriage offers the chance of happiness with a passionate prince of Naples, yet as scandalous accusations of murder and incest build against her, menacing those she loves, Lucrezia must risk everything to overcome the lethal fate imposed upon her by her Borgia blood.

Beautifully wrought, rich with fascinating historical detail, The Vatican Princess is the first novel to describe Lucrezia’s coming-of-age in her own voice—a dramatic, vivid tale set in an era of savagery and unparalleled splendor, where enemies and allies can be one and the same, and where loyalty to family can ultimately be a curse.

AMAZON | BARNES & NOBLE | INDIEBOUND


Praise

"Assiduously researched and expertly crafted . . . . This unholy plunge into Rome's darkest dynasty is wholly engrossing." - Allison Pataki, New York Times bestselling author

"A spider web of Renaissance intrigue with a legendary cast . . . Impressive research, a lush background, and deft characterization make for a fascinating read." - Margaret George, New York Times bestselling author

"Elegantly written and deeply researched . . . Renaissance Italy is vividly brought to life. I’m captivated by this knowledgeable author’s take on the controversial Borgias." - Alison Weir, NYT bestselling author

03_CW GortnerAbout the Author

C.W. GORTNER holds an MFA in Writing with an emphasis in Renaissance Studies from the New College of California, as well as an AA from the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising in San Francisco.

After an eleven year-long career in fashion, during which he worked as a vintage retail buyer, freelance publicist, and fashion show coordinator, C.W. devoted the next twelve years to the public health sector. In 2012, he became a full-time writer following the international success of his novels.

In his extensive travels to research his books, he has danced a galliard at Hampton Court, learned about organic gardening at Chenoceaux, and spent a chilly night in a ruined Spanish castle. His books have garnered widespread acclaim and been translated into twenty-one languages to date, with over 400,000 copies sold. A sought-after public speaker. C.W. has given keynote addresses at writer conferences in the US and abroad. He is also a dedicated advocate for animal rights, in particular companion animal rescue to reduce shelter overcrowding.

Half-Spanish by birth and raised in southern Spain, C.W. now lives in Northern California with his partner and two very spoiled rescue cats.

For more information visit C.W. Gortner’s website and blog. You can also find him on Facebook, Twittter, Goodreads, Pinterest, and YouTube. Sign up for C.W. Gortner’s Newsletter for updates.

Book Blast Schedule

Tuesday, February 9

Wednesday, February 10

Thursday, February 11

Friday, February 12

Saturday, February 13

Sunday, February 14

Monday, February 15

Tuesday, February 16

Wednesday, February 17

Thursday, February 18

Friday, February 19

Saturday, February 20

Sunday, February 21

Monday, February 22

Tuesday, February 23

Giveaway

To win a Borgia-Inspired Velvet Bag & Beaded Bracelet from C.W. Gortner please enter the giveaway via the GLEAM form below.

Rules

– Giveaway ends at 11:59pm EST on February 23rd. You must be 18 or older to enter.
– Giveaway is open to US residents only.
– 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.

The Vatican Princess Book Blast


04_The Vatican Princess_Blog Tour Banner_FINAL

Thursday, February 11, 2016

0 Review: Dreaming Death

Title: Dreaming Death (Palace of Dreams #1)
Author: J. Kathleen Cheney
Publisher: ROC
Published: February 2, 2016
ISBN: 978-0-451-47293-9
Paperback, 400 pages
Genre: Fantasy
Source: Publisher






Summary:

Shironne Anjir's status as a sensitive is both a gift and a curse. Her augmented senses allow her to discover and feel things others can’t, but her talents come with a price: a constant assault of emotions and sensations has left her blind. Determined to use her abilities as best she can, Shironne works tirelessly as an investigator for the Larossan army.

A member of the royal family's guard, Mikael Lee also possesses an overwhelming power—he dreams of the deaths of others, sometimes in vivid, shocking detail, and sometimes in cryptic fragments and half-remembered images.

But then a killer brings a reign of terror to the city, snuffing out his victims with an arcane and deadly blood magic. Only Shironne can sense and interpret Mikael’s dim, dark dreams of the murders. And what they find together will lead them into a nightmare...

My Thoughts:

J. Cheney first came on the scene in 2013 with her first novel, The Golden City. Since then she's written many fantasy-based books including Dreaming Death. From the first few chapters I knew this book was going to good. Cheney does an excellent job building up the plot and building the complex world around the characters. Although I enjoyed the first half of the book, it wasn't until the second half when the story pulled me in. 

The story is told from two different points of view: Mikael Lee and Shironne Anjir. Both characters have magical abilities. Mikael can dream of someone's death. He's not an onlooker, but sees through the eyes of the victim. Shironne is a sensitive. She can sense other people's emotions and thoughts. Because of her gift, Shironne has gone blind. These two come from different worlds but are thrown together to help solve several murders and the mystery surrounding them.

This is my first novel by Cheney, but after reading it, it made me want to go back and read her short stories and other novels. Even though the build-up in the beginning was a little slow for me, as a whole, the story was really good. I immediately wanted to read the next book in the series. Though I have no idea when it's coming out. Until then I shall have to content myself with reading Cheney's other works. 

My Rating:


Wednesday, February 10, 2016

0 Addison Fox Writing Space Tour plus a giveaway

Writing Space Tour


Thanks for having me on the blog today! When I got the request to show my work space I have to admit to a shudder…showing my workspace means cleaning it up!!  But since it was one of my new year’s resolutions, I can now say I completed that task by February!

So here we have it….

First, of course, is my desk. A staple for every writer and an essential tool to getting the work done. (Of course, you could also interchange this photo for one of my kitchen table or a Starbucks table and you’ve got a fair picture of me pending the day of the week!)
Second is my computer. Even more essential than the desk, my little workhorse is one of my prized possessions. I rarely go anywhere without it and I love knowing I can get back into my story at any time.

Finally, I’d be lost without my reward at the end of the day. There’s nothing like a glass of wine – if
it’s with family or friends it’s even better – as a chance to unwind and relax.

I hope you enjoyed the quick tour. And thanks for the incentive to make sure my desk looked a whole lot cleaner than it did earlier!!

Best,

Addison


Giveaway





In the second book of The Coltons of Texas series, a brooding cowboy tracks the stalker after his true love—and unborn child 

With an imprisoned serial killer for a father, rancher Ethan Colton never planned on continuing the tainted family name. But six months after a night of passion with a woman from his past, Ethan discovers he's about to be a dad. Beautiful, independent Lizzie Conner turns up at his Texas ranch expecting nothing but protection from the guarded cowboy. A stalker is fast on her trail, leaving creepy gifts and notes threatening her and the baby. Now all that matters to Ethan is keeping his unexpected family safe—and out of a killer's clutches.

I have 1 copy of Colton's Surprise Heir by Addison Fox to give away to one lucky winner. To enter, you must be at least 13 years old,you must have a US address, and you must read our giveaway policy first


0 What Camelot Means to Me: Daughter of Destiny Guest Post and Giveaway

02_Daughter of Destiny

Daughter of Destiny (Guinevere's Tale, Book One)
By Nicole Evelina

Publication Date: January 1, 2016
Lawson Gartner Publishing
eBook & Paperback; 326 Pages

Genre: Historical Fantasy

Add to GR Button



What Camelot Means to Me

I was a guest on a podcast not long ago and one of the interviewers asked me why I think interest in Camelot endures. While Camelot itself doesn’t become a location in my Guinevere’s Tale series until the second book, I’d love to explore my thoughts in-depth here as background to why I wanted to retell a story that’s been told hundreds of times already.

Camelot is so ingrained in our culture that when you say the word, powerful images immediately come to mind. For some, it’s the Kennedy family and their tragic saga, images of a perfect family with a “cursed” bloodline. For others, like me, it’s castles and crowns, knights in shining armor and forbidden love. You see, I was raised on stories of King Arthur and his court and cut my teeth on the musical Camelot. I may not have a lick of British in my ancestry, but Camelot is in my blood.

Some people see Camelot as a symbol of failure, of sin and greed and lust that led to ruin. I’m exactly the opposite. I see Camelot as a symbol of hope. It’s a utopian land of peace that for a brief, glimmering moment existed in the world, and which generation after generation strives to re-attain. It’s a symbol of what the world, what our lives could be if only we strived hard enough to pull our personal swords from the stone (and perhaps had a little magic on our side). Whether you’re a Kennedy Camelotian or a traditional one, I think the enduring lure of Camelot boils down to hope and the dream of a better life. The Kennedy’s overcame the stigma of Catholicism to go on to symbolize the American dream, just as King Arthur overcame his base-born nature (or at least so he thought) to wrest Excalibur from the stone and become, along with Guinevere, the penultimate medieval rulers.

This being said, much of Arthurian legend to-date has focused on King Arthur and his men. I think it’s time that Camelot became home to not only the famous knights, but to the women as well. Whether they are its Queen, its noble ladies, servants or the camp women who follow the army, its female population deserves to have their say; no longer should they hide in the shadows of men. The Round Table is famous for making its knights equal, even with King Arthur in some cases. Similarly, when its female stories are told, Camelot can be seen as a place of equality for all, another dream many of us strive for, alongside peace and a better life.

Other authors have adopted Guinevere and Morgan’s voices in the past and I’m proud to add my name to that list, lending the perspective of a 21st feminist to the story of an already strong Celtic woman (for that is how I see Guinevere, not as the fading wallflower of later legend). Did she sin? Yes. But that is not the totality of her story and she deserves to be painted with a more delicate brush, one that shows us the “why” behind the famous action and traces both the events that led up to and repercussions of her actions. As Queen of Camelot, it can be said that Guinevere symbolizes the female struggle for hope, for peace, for love, for equality and all the things Camelot means in our collective imaginations. Why then should she not tell her own story?
As she says in the prologue to Daughter of Destiny, “I will take back my voice and speak the truth of what happened. So shall the lies be revealed and Camelot’s former glory restored. Grieve with me, grieve for me, but do not believe the lies which time would sell. All I ask is that mankind listen to my words, and then judge me on their merit.”

What does Camelot mean to you? Do you feel like you know the story of its women? Why or why not? What do you most want to know about them?




Before queenship and Camelot, Guinevere was a priestess of Avalon. She loved another before Arthur, a warrior who would one day betray her.

In the war-torn world of late fifth century Britain, young Guinevere faces a choice: stay with her family to defend her home at Northgallis from the Irish, or go to Avalon to seek help for the horrific visions that haunt her. The Sight calls her to Avalon, where she meets Morgan, a woman of questionable parentage who is destined to become her rival. As Guinevere matures to womanhood, she gains the powers of a priestess, and falls in love with a man who will be both her deepest love and her greatest mistake.

Just when Guinevere is able to envision a future in Avalon, tragedy forces her back home, into a world she barely recognizes, one in which her pagan faith, outspokenness, and proficiency in the magical and military arts are liabilities. When a chance reunion with her lover leads to disaster, she is cast out of Northgallis and into an uncertain future. As a new High King comes to power, Guinevere must navigate a world of political intrigue where unmarried women are valuable commodities and seemingly innocent actions can have life-altering consequences.

You may think you know the story of Guinevere, but you’ve never heard it like this: in her own words. Listen and you will hear the true story of Camelot and its queen.

Fans of Arthurian legend and the Mists of Avalon will love Daughter of Destiny, the first book in a historical fantasy trilogy that gives Guinevere back her voice and traces her life from an uncertain eleven year old girl to a wise queen in her fifth decade of life.

Amazon (Kindle) | Amazon (Paperback) | Barnes & Noble

Praise

"A gripping read that brings a wonderfully depicted Guinevere tumbling out of the shadows of myth." - Anna Belfrage, author of The Graham Saga

"Nicole Evelina shows a deep and passionate love for the Arthurian world, and her re-weaving of the story of Guinevere and Arthur makes for enjoyable reading. With more volumes to come, if you like stories of Camelot, ancient priesthoods, magical Avalonian dreams and embattled romance, this is for you." - John Matthews, author of 'Arthur of Albion' and 'The Camelot Oracle'.

"Colorful and exciting...love all the characters. You will have a ball with this book." - Serena Scott Thomas, actress and audio book narrator

03_Nicole EvelinaAbout the Author

Nicole Evelina is St. Louis-born historical fiction and romantic comedy writer. Her first four books are coming out in 2016:

1. Daughter of Destiny (January 1 – This is the first book of an Arthurian legend trilogy that tells Guinevere’s life story from her point of view)
2. Camelot’s Queen (March 23 – The second book in the trilogy)
3. Been Searching for You (May 23 – a contemporary romantic comedy that won in the single title romance category of the 2015 Great Expectations Contest (sponsored by North Texas RWA) and the 2015 Gold Rose Contest (sponsored by Portland RWA) and is a finalist in five others.
4. Madame Presidentess (July 25 – Historical fiction about 19th century American Presidential candidate Victoria Woodhull, the first American woman to run for President)

She hopes to have the final book in Guinevere’s Tale available in late 2016 or early 2017.

Nicole is a member of and book reviewer for the Historical Novel Society, and Sirens, a group supporting female fantasy authors, as well as a member of the Romance Writers of America, Women Fiction Writers Association, the St. Louis Writer’s Guild, Women Writing the West and the Alliance of Independent Authors.

She is one of only six authors who completed the first week-long writing intensive taught by #1 New York Times bestselling author Deborah Harkness in 2014. Nicole has traveled to England twice to research the Guinevere trilogy, where she consulted with internationally acclaimed author and historian Geoffrey Ashe, as well as Arthurian/Glastonbury expert Jaime George, the man who helped Marion Zimmer Bradley research The Mists of Avalon.

Her website/blog is http://nicoleevelina.com and she can be found on Twitter as well as on Pinterest, Facebook, Goodreads, Instagram and Tumblr.

Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, February 8
Review at The Mad Reviewer
Spotlight at Unshelfish

Tuesday, February 9
Review at Bookish
Guest Post at Let Them Read Books

Wednesday, February 10

Thursday, February 11

Friday, February 12
Review at Broken Teepee

Monday, February 15

Tuesday, February 16
Interview at Flashlight Commentary

Wednesday, February 17
Spotlight at Passages to the Past

Thursday, February 18
Review & Interview at Singing Librarian Books

Friday, February 19
Review at Book Nerd

Monday, February 22

Tuesday, February 23

Wednesday, February 24

Thursday, February 25

Friday, February 26

Giveaway

To win a paperback copy of Daughter of Destiny (Guinevere’s Tale, Book One) by Nicole Evelina please enter the giveaway via the GLEAM form below. Two copies are up for grabs!

Rules

– Giveaway ends at 11:59pm EST on February 26th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
– Giveaway is open to US residents only.
– 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_Daughter of Destiny_Blog Tour Banner_FINAL
 

To Read, or Not To Read Copyright © 2010-2016 - |- Template created by O Pregador - |- Powered by Blogger Templates