Friday, January 31, 2014

0 Review: Netherworld by Lisa Morton

Title: Netherworld (The Chronicles of Diana Furnaval #1)
Author Lisa Morton
Published by: JournalStone
Published: January 10, 2014
Paperback, 282 pages
ISBN: 978-1-940161-08-2
Genre: Paranormal
Source: Publisher

Book Summary:
In nineteenth-century Victorian England, a young widow finds that she has inherited more than her late husband’s property: The Furnavals serve as the ancestral keepers of supernatural portals scattered around the globe. When demonic entities begin crossing over from the Netherworld, Lady Diana realizes that a war is brewing, and she must be the one to confront it.

Accompanied by a young Chinese sailor named Yi-kin, her feline guardian Mina, and a mysterious scholar, Stephen, Diana will begin a journey to solve the mystery of her husband's death and prevent the apocalypse.

My thoughts:
Diana Furnaval is a Gatekeeper to the Netherworld. That entails keeping the creepy crawlies and specters from entering this world and reeking havoc on unknown pedestrians. She became a Gatekeeper when she married her husband Lord Stephen Furnaval. They were very happy in their life until Lord Furnaval disappears and is presumed dead. In despair, Diana starts to close the portals. However in doing so, she inadvertently starts a war. And her beloved Stephen might not be dead after all.  

Diana Furnaval isn't trapped by conventions of the time. She is very forward-thinking in all areas of her life. Even with her husband gone, she still continues his work with the Gateway. All those are good qualities in a heroine. She's also a know-it-all. And that kind of bothers me. She encounters new things and ideas all the time and knows everything about them because, coincidentally, she's read a book on the very subject the day before. This seemed too happenstance for my liking. I like intelligent characters, but this went a little to far for me.

For the most part, I liked the story-line. I love that Diana is on a search for her husband, the mysterious characters she encounters, and the Netherworld. Morton is very descriptive in her narrative. She makes the scenes come alive, but at times I found sections in this book boring. I had to force myself to read through them, but then the story would pick up again.

Overall I though this book is an okay to good read. I would recommend this book with some caution, because it's not everyone's cup of tea. I'd also like to see the author expand on Diana's character a little bit. Especially since Victorian England didn't see many trouser-wearing ladies at the time. Netherworld is the first book in this series. I would consider reading the second book before I make up my mind entirely.

My rating:
2.5 but I'll round it to 3

Thursday, January 30, 2014

1 The Winter Siege Virtual Book Tour: Giveaway Guest Post and by D.W. Bradbridge

I’ve always been fascinated by the nature of history. How can you possibly know for sure what really happened during a particular historical event when history consists of a collection of contemporary reports written largely by people who have agendas of their own?
I grew up being told, for example, that Richard III was a scheming and villainous crookback and yet recent debate puts much of Richard’s bad press down to the Tudor propaganda machine.
Similarly, it is reported that when John, Lord Byron, commander of the Royalist forces in Cheshire, heard about the murder of twelve men in a church in the small village of Barthomley on December 23rd, 1643, by some of his soldiers, he wrote a letter to the Marquis of Newcastle saying; “we… put them all to the sword, which I find to be the best way to proceed with these kind of people, for mercy to them is cruelty.”
It is a letter, which earned Byron the nickname of the “bloody braggadoccio.” However, a senior royalist member of the Sealed Knot, who I know well, insists that there is no proof that Byron ever wrote this letter and, indeed, was more likely the victim of a set-up. So who do you believe?
My aim with The Winter Siege, set in the Cheshire salt town of Nantwich during the bitter winter of 1643-44, was to create a very detailed historical framework based on contemporary documents – so many of the events described in the novel did actually happen. Many of the characters in the novel were also real people – not just the recognisable historical figures like Fairfax, Byron and Booth, but many of the minor townsfolk too. For example, Alexander Clowes, the best friend of my main character, Daniel Cheswis, really was the name of the bellman in Nantwich at that time. My idea was to create a “what-if” scenario, weaving a fictional murder mystery plot around the historical facts of the siege and the battle.
The question the reader will want to know is how much of the story is real and how much should be taken with a large dose of Nantwich salt. As is often the case with history, it is for you, the reader to decide. Reality can be what you want it to be.

Publication Date: October 1, 2013
Electric Reads
Paperback; 488p
ISBN-10: 1492795712

1643. The armies of King Charles I and Parliament clash in the streets and fields of England, threatening to tear the country apart, as winter closes in around the parliamentary stronghold of Nantwich. The royalists have pillaged the town before, and now, they are returning. But even with weeks to prepare before the Civil War is once more at its gates, that doesn’t mean the people of Nantwich are safe.
While the garrison of soldiers commanded by Colonel George Booth stand guard, the town’s residents wait, eyeing the outside world with unease, unaware that they face a deadly threat from within. Townspeople are being murdered – the red sashes of the royalists left on the bodies marking them as traitors to the parliamentary cause.
When the first dead man is found, his skull caved in with a rock, fingers start being pointed, and old hatreds rise to the surface. It falls to Constable Daniel Cheswis to contain the bloodshed, deputising his friend, Alexander Clowes, to help him in his investigations, carried out with the eyes of both armies on his back. And they are not the only ones watching him.
He is surrounded by enemies, and between preparing for the imminent battle, watching over his family, being reunited with his long-lost sweetheart, and trying, somehow, to stay in business, he barely has time to solve a murder.
With few clues and the constant distraction of war, can Cheswis protect the people of Nantwich? And which among them need protecting? Whether they are old friends or troubled family, in these treacherous times, everyone’s a traitor, in war, law, or love.
When the Winter Siege is through, who will be among the bodies?

Buy Links

About the Author

D.W. Bradbridge was born in 1960 and grew up in Bolton. He has lived in Crewe, Cheshire since 2000, where he and his wife run a small magazine publishing business for the automotive industry.
“The inspiration for The Winter Siege came from a long-standing interest in genealogy and local history. My research led me to the realisation that the experience endured by the people of Nantwich during December and January 1643-44 was a story worth telling. I also realised that the closed, tension-filled environment of the month-long siege provided the ideal setting for a crime novel.
“History is a fascinating tool for the novelist. It consists only of what is remembered and written down, and contemporary accounts are often written by those who have their own stories to tell. But what about those stories which were forgotten and became lost in the mists of time?
“In writing The Winter Siege, my aim was to take the framework of real history and fill in the gaps with a story of what could, or might have happened. Is it history or fiction? It’s for the reader to decide.”
For more information please visit D.W. Bradbridge’s website. You can also find him on Facebook and follow him on Twitter.

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Wednesday, January 29, 2014

0 Snakeroot: Andrea Cremer Guest Post

Research always plays a part in the creation of my novels. How much and what kind of research I complete varies from book to book. Prior to becoming a full-time writer I was a history professor, and research has long been part of my professional life. My attachment to history and origin stories pushes me toward historical research, but the history inSnakeroot is based in research I completed for the first Nightshade books. Thus, the research needed for this new novel had more to do with logistics than content. New settings appear in Snakeroot. For example, Logan ends up in the Hamptons, near Montauk, and I spent time looking at the landscape and properties (wow, they are gigantic and expensive!). I often use Google Earth when researching geography because I like have a strong visual sense of every location in my novels. Unfortunately I didn’t start watching Revenge until after I’d written Snakeroot.

New characters appear in Snakeroot and naming the inhabitants of my novels always takes quite a bit of time. I do research on the meaning and history of names before assigning them to characters. I find I can’t write a person’s story if the name isn’t right.

I tend to do my research as I write rather than beforehand, so I’ll be diving into books all along the way!


Picking up right where BLOODROSE left off, SNAKEROOT follows two characters readers know well from the original Nightshade trilogy.  Adne, one of the Searchers and Ren's half-sister, is plagued by nightmares featuring the evil Bosque Mar, now trapped in the Nether and looking for a way out.  Adne's power draws him to her, and he wants, more than anything, for her to come to the side of dark magic and free him. Logan Bane, the Keeper who was once set to rule Calla and Ren's Haldis pack, is one of the few of his kind left, after he helped Shay close the rift between our world and the Nether.  But he wants to re-open that rift so he can re-create Guardians and reclaim the Keepers' magic. He raids the Rowan Estate to find what he needs to perform dark, ancient rituals, but Bosque Mar has turned his back on Logan for his treachery, and without his help, Logan is lost.  The two teens are both battling Bosque Mar--one who wants to be left alone, and the other who wants help.

About Andrea Cremer:
Andrea Cremer is the internationally bestselling author of the Nightshade series, which includes the critically acclaimed Nightshade, Wolfsbane, Bloodrose, Rift and Rise. She went to school until there wasn't any more school to go to, ending with a Ph.D. in early modern history--a reflection of her fascination with witchcraft and warfare--and taught for years at Macalester College.  She grew up roaming the forests and lakeshores of northern Wisconsin, but now lives in New York City, where she roams the sidewalks and riverbanks of the concrete jungle she calls home.  @andreacremer

4 Review: Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge

Title: Cruel Beauty
Author: Rosamund Hodge
Publisher: Balzer and Bray
Published: January 28, 2014
Ebook, ARC
ISBN13: 9780062224750 
Genre: Fantasy
Source: Edelweiss

Goodreads Summary:
Based on the classic fairy tale Beauty and the Beast, Cruel Beauty is a dazzling love story about our deepest desires and their power to change our destiny.

Since birth, Nyx has been betrothed to the evil ruler of her kingdom-all because of a foolish bargain struck by her father. And since birth, she has been in training to kill him.

With no choice but to fulfill her duty, Nyx resents her family for never trying to save her and hates herself for wanting to escape her fate. Still, on her seventeenth birthday, Nyx abandons everything she's ever known to marry the all-powerful, immortal Ignifex. Her plan? Seduce him, destroy his enchanted castle, and break the nine-hundred-year-old curse he put on her people.

But Ignifex is not at all what Nyx expected. The strangely charming lord beguiles her, and his castle-a shifting maze of magical rooms-enthralls her.

As Nyx searches for a way to free her homeland by uncovering Ignifex's secrets, she finds herself unwillingly drawn to him. Even if she could bring herself to love her sworn enemy, how can she refuse her duty to kill him? With time running out, Nyx must decide what is more important: the future of her kingdom, or the man she was never supposed to love.

My thoughts:

Cruel Beauty had me at re-telling of Beauty and the Beast. As a huge fan of the original story I knew this book was for me. After reading a few chapters I realized it was more than that. It also stems from Greek Mythology as well. So with those two elements combined I settled down for a good read.

The story is about Nyx. Her father makes a bargain before she's born that she'll be married off to a monster that haunts her town. She's raised knowing that's her purpose in life, and also to kill the monster to free the town. Nyx hates her destiny. She's bitter towards those who love her. I can hardly blame her there. She hides so much anger in her heart that on the outside she's an obedient child, but on the inside a raging volcano of emotions.

By the time she gets to her 'new' home, she's ready to do battle with the monster, aka Ignifex, and reclaim her homeland. Things aren't as easy as she thought they would be. Ignifex is charming in a dangerous sort of way that she finds enchanting. She also befriends a shade-like shadow that helps her through the castle. And from here the story gets interesting. 

I couldn't help but wonder who the shade was? Can Ignifex really be trusted?  What's the deal with the town? All these questions and more kept me turning the page to find out more. So as far the story line goes, I liked it. I also like that Nyx was not your typical "damsel in distress." Her emotions were all over the place, but understandably. I also like Ignifex and Nyx together. I know he's the bad guy, but he draws you in and you want him to succeed. 

Overall, I like this story. The cross between Beauty and the Beast and Greek Mythology really complimented each other. The story is fast moving and enchanting. Very entertaining! 

My rating:
3.5 but I'll round up to 4

Tuesday, January 28, 2014


The mass market edition of FROST BURNED is now available in stores. And thanks to Penguin I have a copy to giveaway to a lucky reader. 

Mercy Thompson's life has undergone a seismic change. Becoming the mate of Adam Hauptman - the charismatic Alpha of the local werewolf pack - has made her a stepmother to his daughter Jesse, a relationship that brings moments of blissful normalcy to Mercy's life. But on the edges of humanity, a minor mishap on an ordinary day can turn into so much more. After an accident in bumper-to-bumper traffic, Mercy and Jesse can't reach Adam - or anyone else in the pack for that matter. They've all been abducted. Through their mating bond, all Mercy knows is that Adam is angry and in pain. Outclassed and on her own, Mercy may be forced to seek assistance from the most unlikely of allies: the vampire seethe.

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Monday, January 27, 2014

2 Covet's January Release Plus A Giveaway

Covets have all the sexiness, emotion, and happily ever after that readers have come to expect and love from Entangled. They are firmly grounded in the contemporary world, but each novel brings in supernatural twists, breaking the contemporary and paranormal rules, alike. To find out more about their titles, chat with authors, participate in special events, and to find out what books you’ll be coveting next, visit the Entangled website, follow them on Twitter, LIKE their Facebook page, and join the Book Club.

Also, make sure to hop on over the Entangled in Romance blog to join in the fun as Covet challenges readers to share their worst date stories. The worse, the better, hold no punches!

Today I'm happy to be featuring Covet's January releases:

Love at Stake by Victoria Davies
Abbey is the lone human working for Fated Match, a company that pairs members of the supernatural community with their eternal mates. 

To snag a young vampire socialite as their next client, Abbey journeys to the home of Lucian Redgrave, the oldest vampire on the East Coast. But he's not willing to allow his vampire daughter to use the agency... unless Abbey can first find his perfect match in a month.

As Abbey coaches Lucian through his dates, she can’t deny the chemistry between them. But humans are toys for vampires, and risking her heart isn't a part of the plan.

Haunt Me by Heather Long

Recently divorced author MacKenzie Dillon has lost her writing mojo. When she inherits her great aunt’s haunted house in Virginia, she is determined to make a new start. The creepy old house provides inspiration but at what cost?

Successful architect and paranormal skeptic Justin Kent returns to Penny Hollow to fulfill his father’s dying wish of revitalizing their small town. To do that, he needs the allegedly haunted estate at Summerfield. Mac, the new owner, may be gorgeous and spunky, but she refuses to sell.

These two have a dangerous history that spans the ages, but will they discover the truth in time to save their lives?

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Saturday, January 25, 2014

2 Verily, Forsooth, Egads! Doctor Who Rewatch

We're re-watching Doctor Who this fall to prepare for the big anniversary special. I know that Doctor Who has been around for 50 years, but for time sake we're going to start with series 1 of 2005. If you've not watched it, but have wanted to. Here's your chance. We're watching via Netflix, so join us if you can. This week we're watching Series 3, episode 1 and 2, and we meet the Doctor's new companion, Martha Jones.

Title: Smith and Jones
Original Air Date: March 31, 2007
Directed by:  Charles Palmer
Written by: Russell T Davis

In episode 1 we meet the Doctor's new companion Martha Jones: 

Martha is studying to be a doctor herself. She runs into the Doctor at the hospital where she's training. And you know where the Doctor is, trouble follows. So the hospital gets sucked up to the surface of moon. Everybody is freaking out except Martha and the Doctor. I think the Doctor is impressed with Martha's ability to stay calm in crazy situations. Then these guys show up:

Yep. Rhinos who work as bounty hunters. They're searching for an alien (other than the Doctor) who is wanted for doing something bad to some other alien. They start to search the entire hospital. Meanwhile we discover who they're searching for:

She may look like an innocent old lady, but don't let that fool you. She'll suck your blood out through a straw. Literally. It's really gross. Also I think she's the same lady who's on Last Tango in Halifax. No blood sucking on that show. At least not yet. 

So the Doctor has a plan to get the Rhinos to recognize her alien DNA. And it's not pretty. He kisses Martha, and now she's head over heals in love. Lots of things happen with big machines and electricity, but all's well that ends well.

Life Lesson: Don't piss the rhinos off.

Title: The Shakespeare Code
Original Air Date: April 7, 2007
Directed by:  Charles Palmer
Written by: Gareth Roberts

For Martha's first adventure in space, the Doctor takes her to the days of Shakespeare. Which I think would be super cool. So they meet Shakespeare, Shakespeare flirts with Martha, Martha flirts with the Doctor, and the Doctor is still hung up on Rose. Are you still with me?

And Martha tries to speak the language of the day:

So things are not what they should be in merry, old England. There are witches about that are causing mayhem and plotting to take over the world.
The Doctor has to figure out who they are, what they want, and how to destroy them. And he does, because he's the Doctor. He also has a little help from Harry Potter:

And it's a pretty neat episode. But we also learn that he's managed to piss Queen Elizabeth off.  Queenie does not look happy!

Life Lesson: Mayhaps Shakespeare's plays are based on suggestions by the Doctor. 

Friday, January 24, 2014

0 Review: A Breath of Frost

Title: A Breath of Frost (The Lovegrove Legacy #1)
Author: Alyxandra Harvey
Publisher: Walker's Children
Published: January 7, 2014
Ebook, Arc
ISBN: 080273443X
Genre: Historical Fiction, YA, Paranormal
Source: NetGalley

Goodreads Summary:
In 1814, three cousins—Gretchen, Emma, and Penelope—discover their family lineage of witchcraft when a binding spell is broken, allowing their individual magical powers to manifest. Now, beyond the manicured gardens and ballrooms of Regency London, an alluring underworld available only to those with power is revealed to the cousins. By claiming their power, the three cousins have accidentally opened the gates to the underworld. Now ghouls, hellhounds—and most terrifying of all, the spirits of dark witches known as the Greymalkin Sisters—are hunting and killing young debutante witches for their powers. And, somehow, Emma is connected to the murders…because she keeps finding the bodies. Can the cousins seal the gates before another witch is killed…or even worse, before their new gifts are stripped away?

My thoughts:
This book appealed to me because of the time period (1814) and that it's about witches. Those two facts alone intrigued me, but the fact that it's written by Alyxandra Harvey also intrigued me. Harvey is a new-to-me author, but I've heard great things about her books. So I decided to read this new series of The Lovegrove Legacy.

This book is set in the glamorous life in Regency London. Gretchen, Emma, and Penelope are cousins. What they don't know is that they come from a long line of witches. Powerful witches at that. And because nobody has bothered to tell them this, the girls cast spells. Like making it rain or making someone swell up to the size of giant balloon. Because they are untrained they start to catch unwanted attention. Not to mention the fact that they accidentally opened the gates to the underworld. Because of this Emma gets wrapped up in a murder investigation where she's the number one suspect.

As my first experience with Alyzandra Harvey, I would count this a success. I like the whole Regency time period and paranormal world that she's created. I found the characters quite charming. It made me envious of their relationship with each other. The story line was interesting, although not entirely unique. I found the reading fast paced and almost unputdownable. I would definitely continue reading this series as to find out what happens next with the girls. I think it would be worth it!

My rating:
I'd rate this a 3.5, but I'll round it up to a 4

Thursday, January 23, 2014

0 Jordan Jacobs Guest Post

I’m a sucker for all things British.  And I always have been: memorizing the full list of England’s monarchs as a ten-year-old, saving up money from summer jobs in high school for a plane ticket to London (it went towards college, instead), and--as a high school sophomore--betting that I could retain a Scottish accent for an entire month (I lasted, and not very convincingly, for just one afternoon).  Even today--having attended Oxford for two quarters abroad, graduated with a Master’s from Cambridge, and suffered through the wettest year on record in a drafty, North London flat--my anglophilia remains unbridled.  

I think the psychology goes something like this:

For Americans (or, at least for me) Britain represents a sort of an alternative universe.  We share the same language (arguably), and our histories have a way of overlapping (“our” being a significant stretch for this Californian descendant of Swiss Mennonites, hardscrabble Texans, and Ukrainian and Latvian Jews).  Our differences are noticeable, but slight, so that they take on more significance in comparison (while or whilst, underwear or pants, and traffic left or right).

And Britain is old … old in a way that shakes the full cultural family tree. That those kings and queens and knights really lived and died there, and that their battles and plots and power struggles really all occurred, gives a certain legitimacy to a story set in Britain’s past, and a special kind of thrill.

I know I’m not alone among my fellow Yanks--it’s a fascination as common as it is bewildering to my friends across the Pond.  And that is why I’ve had so much fun writing Samantha Sutton and the Winter of the Warrior Queen.  The plot is an adventure story, to be sure, but the context that I’ve placed it in is real.  Samantha confronts real Cambridge customs, ducks and hides through real medieval alleyways, and runs for her life across real English fields and downs. Working with her archaeologist uncle, she uncovers real artifacts, from a real site, where a real Warrior Queen may once have ruled.  

Writing this one felt a bit like cheating.  It’s just my anglophilia, distilled.

About the author:
I've loved archaeology--and writing!--for as long as I can remember. My childhood interest in mummies, castles and Indiana Jones led to my participation in my first excavation, at age 13, in California's Sierra Nevada. After completing a high school archaeology program in the American Southwest, I followed my passion at Stanford, Oxford, and Cambridge. Since then, my work for the Smithsonian, the American Museum of Natural History and UNESCO Headquarters in Paris has focused on policy and the protection of archaeological sites in the developing world.

My research and travel opportunities have taken me to almost fifty countries-- from Cambodia's ancient palaces, to Tunisia's Roman citadels, to Guatemala's Mayan heartland and the voodoo villages of Benin.

I'm now Head of Cultural Policy at the Phoebe Hearst Museum of Anthropology at UC Berkeley, and live in San Francisco with my wife and daughter.

About the book:
A secret society, a lost fortress, a precious artifact only Samantha Sutton can protect.

Twelve-year-old Samantha Sutton isn't sure she wants to go to England with her Uncle Jay, a brilliant, risk-taking archeologist. But the trip seems safe enough--a routine excavation in Cambridge--and Samantha has always had a love for the past.

At first the project seems unremarkable--just a survey to clear the way for a massive theme park. But everything changes when Sam uncovers something extraordinary. Are the local legends true? Is this the site of the ancient fortress belonging to Queen Boudica, the warrior queen? What treasures might be found?

When others begin to learn of her findings, Samantha senses she is in danger. Can any of her friends be trusted? Samantha will need to solve the mystery of the site in order to protect herself and let the world know of her remarkable discovery.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

2 Can Technology Destroy Us by Geoff Livingston

Can Technology Destroy Us

As a species, humans adapt technologies blindly with the hope of achieving promised benefits. We rarely consider societal impact. This is a huge issue, in my opinion. Technology itself doesn't destroy or evolve societies, our use of these tools does.

Science fiction offers strange futuristic views of technology. Some are positive, others are dystopian. Many like Kim Stanley Robinson’s 2312 waver between the two. Science fiction offers us the opportunity to debate whether or not we will destroy ourselves with technology.

Is such dialogue pure fear of change? Or do we always forget the lessons of the past?

I know in the case of robotics, the decades old dialogue started by Isaac Asigemov's robot novels has been greatly beneficial. We have been actively trying to build artificial intelligence that will become useful to society while not becoming malevolent a la The Terminator.

But we are not always so forward thinking. Applied to the Internet we do all sorts of neat things like give ourselves access to incredible amounts of information and publishing tools. Then we do things like strip away privacy and quantify human worth and status using tools like Empire Avenue and PeerIndex.

In my book Exodus, Book One of The Fundamentalists I began with a post-apocalyptic world decimated by a biotechnology terror, a direct result of weaponized viruses. This narrative device allowed me to create a world where people avoided technology and religion for centuries, in favor of an agrarian utopia. In turn, over the trilogy I debate whether we as a species can use spiritual ideas and technology tools peacefully.

I have to tell you that by the end of the trilogy, technology makes a come back as a means of defense against fundamentalism. Humans end up using both to create power structures to benefit themselves and dominate other people. And in other cases, people use these very different tools to help each other.

Because that's who we are, at least right now. I really believe that generally a portion of the population will always fall to primitive negative actions, and others will rise above. The combination creates volatility.

Why do I have this view? Human beings are complicated, and create conflict. While some people are altruistic or generally good in design, we are all to some extent self-motivated. War itself is something that is a result of modern agricultural and political structures, say researchers. Even when we are not at war, we compete with each other and other nations to create the most prosperity and status.

Anyone who thinks the United States is not competing with China from a technological perspective is crazy. How many private incidents of cyberwarfare occur without our knowledge? It's not like the Pentagon or major companies want to admit how often they are getting attacked.

Furthering blind adoption of tools, technology has proven to be a huge economic driver. Consider the way we encourage technological development in Silicon Valley and beyond? IPOs and acquisitions drive the the tech sector.

Just this week we saw Google purchase Nest for an astounding amount to empower the Internet of Things. Society will certainly reap the economic benefits of data. But are individuals and communities ready for a coming wave of metric-based vanity that determines their place in society?

So you see, I really do think the human application of technology is a worthwhile discussion. Without foresight, it can become quite destructive, in my opinion. What about yours?


A former journalist, Geoff continues to write, and has authored four books. Most recently he published his first novel Exodus in 2013, co-authored Marketing in the Round, and wrote the social media primer Welcome to the Fifth Estate. You can follow him on Twitter at @geoffliving.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

0 Review: An Untitled Lady

Title: An Untitled Lady
Author: Nicky Penttila
Publisher: Musa Publishing
Published: December 20, 2013
Ebook, ARC
Genre: Historical Fiction/Romance
Source: NetGalley

Goodreads Summary:
*Not a traditional Regency* Shocking family news forces Madeline Wetherby to abandon her plans to marry an earl and settle for upstart Manchester merchant Nash Quinn. When she discovers that her birth father is one of the weavers her husband is putting out of work—and a radical leader—Maddie must decide which family she truly desires, the man of her heart or the people of her blood.

An earl's second son, Nash chose a life of Trade over Society. When protest marches spread across Lancashire, the pressure on him grows. If he can't make both workers and manufacturers see reason he stands to lose everything: his business, his town, and his marriage.

As Manchester simmers under the summer sun, the choices grow more stark for Maddie and Nash:
Family or justice.
Love or money.
Life or death.

My thoughts:

In this summary the author tell you it's "not a traditional regency." And it's true, it's not. This book in many ways reminded me a bit of North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell. It takes place in a northern town where factory and mills are run. The characters are surrounded by workers on whom their lives depend. However there are problems between the masters and their workers. 

The two main characters are Nash and Madeline. Nash is the second son of an earl. He chose a life of trade over any other occupation. He's a true bachelor and lives to work. Madeline is an orphan who learns a pretty shocking truth that leaves her reeling. She has few options to her, and they're not what she expected her life to be. She chooses to marry Nash and be a helpmate to him. 

Many of the truths that Madeline learns in this story is that she was adopted and that her birth father still lives. But he's a radical. Her father and her husband are on different political sides. Madeline feels torn between these two worlds. She lives in a time when women had little say over their lives.

I found this book to be a fascinating read. While it focuses on the lives of Madeline and Nash there is a heavy dose of realism for the time period they live. The author deals with the women's suffrage movement, politics, and fair labor. The author doesn't gloss over these trials and tribulations of the time. She puts her characters through the wringer. Some things end happily while others don't. This is an enjoyable story to read. It's not your traditional Regency, but it's definitely worth reading! 

Follow the tour for more reviews, interviews, guest posts, and giveaways:

My rating:

Official Book Trailer

Buy Links

Barnes & Noble
Musa Publishing (editor’s pick)
SmashwordsAbout the Author

Nicky Penttila writes stories with adventure and love, and often with ideas and history as well. She enjoys coming up with stories that are set in faraway cities and countries, because then she *must* travel there, you know, for research. She lives in Maryland with her reading-mad husband and amazing rescue cat.

She’s chattiest on Twitter, @NickyPenttila, and can also be found at and on Facebook.

Monday, January 20, 2014

0 Excerpt from The Last Savanna by Mike Bond and a HUGE survival giveaway

Excerpted from the book THE LAST SAVANNA by Mike Bond.  Copyright © 2013 by Mike Bond.  Reprinted with permission of Mandevilla Press.  All rights reserved

THE ELAND DESCENDED four steps down the grassy hillside and halted. He glanced all the way round the rolling golden hills, then closer, inspecting the long grass rippling in the wind, behind him, on both sides, and down to the sinuous green traverse of acacia, doum palms and strangler trees where the stream ran. The wind from the east over his shoulder carried the tang of drying murram grass and the scents of bitter pungent shrubs, of dusty, discarded feathers and glaucous lizard skins, of red earth and brown earth, of old scat and stones heating in the midafternoon sun. He switched at flies with his tail, twitched his ears, descended five more steps, and stopped again.
Thirst had dried his lips and eyes, tightened his throat, hardened his skin. Already the rain was drying out of the grass and soil pockets; here only the stream remained, purling between volcanic stones, rimmed by trees and tall, sharp weeds. He circled a thorn bush and moved closer several steps, his spiral gray horns glinting as he looked up and down the valley from north to west, then south, then up the slope behind him.
The shoulder-high thorn bushes grew thicker near the stream. The downslope breeze twirled their strong, dusty scents among their gnarled trunks; the sour smell of siafu, warrior ants, prickled his nose. He waited for the comforting twitter of sunbirds in the streamside acacias, the muffled snuffling of warthogs, or the swish of vervet monkeys in the branches, but there were none.
Licking his dry nose with a black tongue he raised his head and again sniffed round the wind, batting at flies with his ears, dropped his jaw and panted. There was truly no bad smell, no danger smell, but the wind was coming down the valley behind him and to get upwind he’d have to cross the stream and there was no way except through the thorn and commiphora scrub, which was where the greatest danger lay. He glanced back over his shoulder, gauging the climb necessary to regain the ridge and travel into the wind till he could descend the slope at a curve in the stream and keep the wind in his face. The sun glinting on the bleached grass, bright stones and red earth hurt his eyes; he sniffed once more, inhaled deeply, expanding the drum of thin flesh over his ribs, and shoved into the thorn scrub.
A widowbird exploded into flight from a branch on the far side of the stream and the eland jumped back, trembling. The sound of the stream pealing and chuckling coolly over its rocks made his throat ache. The heat seemed to buzz like cicadas, dimming his eyes. Shaking flies from his muzzle, he trotted through the scrub and bent his head to suck the water flashing and bubbling over the black stones.
The old lioness switched her tail, rose from her crouch and surveyed the eland’s back over the top of the thorn scrub. She had lain motionless watching his approach and now her body ached to move; the eland’s rutty smell made her stomach clench and legs quiver. She ducked her head below the scrub and padded silently to the stream, picked her way across its rocks without wetting her paws and, slower now, slipped a step at a time through the bush and crouched behind a fallen doum palm part way up the slope behind the eland, only her ears visible above it.
Far overhead a bearded vulture wavered in its flight, tipping on one wing, and turned in a wide circle. The eland raised his head, swallowing, glanced round; water dripping from his lips spattered into the stream. He shivered the flies from his back, bent to drink, raised his head, water rumbling in his belly. He turned and scanned the slope behind and above him; this was where he’d descended and now the wind was in his face and there was still no danger smell. His legs felt stronger; he licked his lower lip that already seemed less rough from the water filling his body. He trotted back through the thorn scrub past the fallen doum palm, bolting at the sudden yellow flash of terror that impaled him on its fierce claws, the lioness’ wide jaws crushing his neck as he screamed crashing through the bush. With one paw the lioness slapped him to the ground but he lurched up and she smashed him down again, her fangs ripping his throat, choking off the air as his hooves slashed wildly, and the horror of it he knew now and understood, dust clouding his eye, the other torn by thorns; the flailing of his feet slackened as the sky went red, the lioness’ hard body embracing him, the world and all he had ever known sliding into darkness.
The lioness sighed and dropped her head, the stony soil hurting her jaw. After a few moments she began to lick the blood seeping from the eland’s throat and mouth and the shoulder where her claws had torn it, then turned and licked her left rear leg where one of the eland’s hooves had made a deep gash. Settling herself more comfortably among the thorn bushes, she stripped back the skin along the eland’s shoulder, licking and gnawing at the blood and warm flesh beneath.
Crackling in the brush made her lay back her ears; she rumbled softly, deep in her throat. Heavy footsteps splashed through the stream and she growled louder, her rope tail switching. The male lion came up to the eland, lifted his lip and snarled.
Still growling she backed away slightly, lowering her head to grip the eland’s foreleg. The male sniffed the eland’s shoulder, crouched, ears back, and began to chew it. Then, gripping the shoulder in his jaw, he dragged the animal sideways, the lioness crawling after it, still holding the leg. Baring his teeth, the male leaned across the eland’s shoulder, bit down on the foreleg and pulled the eland over to get at its belly and flanks. Carefully the lioness edged round the carcass, reaching tentatively for a rear leg. With a roar the male flicked out a huge, flat paw that caught the side of her head. Her neck snapped loudly and the lioness tumbled back into the thorn brush, one rear paw trembling briefly.
The Samburu warrior rose from his hiding place among the rocks high up the slope, stretched his stiff legs and picked up his spear. From the shade he watched the lion’s thick black-maned head burrow into the eland’s belly. Since dawn, when the Samburu had begun watching the two lions, the young male and old female, they had mated nearly three times ten, but now he had killed her, giving the Samburu a possible solution to the problem that had been bothering him all day.

Thanks to Meryl Moss Media Relations I have this really cool prize pack to giveaway to a lucky reader. See the list below for what's included in this prize pack. This giveaway is open to US addresses only. You must be at least 13 years old to enter.
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Thursday, January 16, 2014

0 Review: The Cleaner of Chartres by Salley Vickers

Title: The Cleaner of Chartres 
Author: Salley Vickers
Publisher: Viking
Published: June 27, 2013
Hardcover, 304 pages
ISBN: 978-0-670-78567-4
Genre: Historical Fiction
Source: Publisher

Goodreads Summary
There is something very special about Agnes' Morel.  A quiet presence in a small French town of Chartres she can be found cleaning the framed medieval cathedral each morning and doing odd jobs for the townspeople in the afternoon. No one knows where she comes from or why.  Not Abbe' Paul, who discovered her one morning  twenty years ago, sleeping on the porch, and not Alain Fleury, the irreverent young restorer, who works along side of her each day and whose attention she catches with her tawny eyes and elusive manner. 
She has transformed everyone's life in her own subtle way, yet no one suspects the dark secrets of her past.

My thoughts:
Twenty years ago she appeared in the cloisters of the  ancient cathedral of Notre Dame, in the medieval town of Chartres in France.  To the town's people it seemed like she had always been there - a harmless presence, touching their lives in subtle ways.  But no one knows anything about her past.
One day she is asked to take on the cleaning of the cathedral by Abbe' Paul, who first discovered her sleeping on the north porch.  Working under the light of the magnificent stained glass and cleaning the famous labyrinth, Agnes' finds inner peace.
Soon she is helping Professor Jones and advising Philippe Nevers about his disturbed sister.  And with her colorful clothes and elusive manner she attracts the attention of Alain Fleury, the irreverent young man who is helping restore the cathedral.
But Agnes's new position provokes the jealousy of elderly Madam Beck and her friend Madam Picot.  Madam Beck, a long divorced woman of self importance, keeps a close eye on all who pass by her window and has the latest information on all.  One day a specter from Agnes''s past arrives, causing ugly speculations and rumors to fly and Agnes' finally is forced to confront her past and we learn the tramas that first brought her to Chartres.
This is a charming book to read.  Not normally my genre, but I found it a refreshing change of pace.
The old town of Chartres has kept the slow pace as a more modern town surrounds it has the hustle and bustle.
As the story unfolded, I felt like a guest watching all, being fearful as not to impose.  The characters were real.  Madam Beck reminded me of an aunt of mine.  Agnes' seemed fragile, eager to please, but there seemed to be a hidden strength emerge when all seemed lost.  Alain Fleury was a knight in shining armor, coming to her rescue in more ways than one. 
A wonderful cast of characters, a beautiful medieval town, makes this visit to France unforgettable.  


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