Friday, November 24, 2017

The Tip of My Wish List: Historical Fiction Book Series

If you're anything like me you've got a book wish list so long there is no way you will ever be able to read through it all. And, on top of that, it's never ending because you just can't stop adding more books to it! To try and organize myself I'm sharing 5 books from my wish list that I'm most excited to get to, usually with a common theme, on the last Friday of each month. I know a number of excellent bloggers who will be doing similar posts and I'll be sure to link to their posts as well so you can see all the goodies we're excited about and, hopefully, add a few new books to your own wish list. I'll also link the titles to Goodreads where you can read reviews and find the various ways to purchase a copy of the books if they sound like your style. I really hope you enjoy and let me know if you've read any of these or have others you would add to the list.
 
For November I thought I would share the first book in 5 book series that I'd really like to find the time to read. With a series there is always a greater commitment, in my opinion, when deciding to dive in because, once I start, I might not want to stop until I've made my way through the whole series! While I already own a number of book series these five are some that I haven't yet gotten my hands on.
 
 
 
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Weaving a tapestry of fact and fiction, Sara Donati's epic novel sweeps us into another time and place...and into the heart of a forbidden affair between an unconventional Englishwoman and an American frontiersman.


It is December of 1792. Elizabeth Middleton leaves her comfortable English estate to join her family in a remote New York mountain village. It is a place unlike any she has ever experienced. And she meets a man unlike any she has ever encountered - a white man dressed like a Native American, Nathanial Booner, known to the Mohawk people as Between-Two-Lives. Determined to provide schooling for all the children of the village, she soons finds herself locked in conflict with the local slave owners as well as her own family.


Interweaving the fate of the Mohawk Nation with the destiny of two lovers, Sara Donati's compelling novel creates a complex, profound, passionate portrait of an emerging America.



Maisie Dobbs (Maisie Dobbs Series #1)


Maisie Dobbs isn’t just any young housemaid. Through her own natural intelligence—and the patronage of her benevolent employers—she works her way into college at Cambridge. When World War I breaks out, Maisie goes to the front as a nurse. It is there that she learns that coincidences are meaningful and the truth elusive. After the War, Maisie sets up on her own as a private investigator. But her very first assignment, seemingly an ordinary infidelity case, soon reveals a much deeper, darker web of secrets, which will force Maisie to revisit the horrors of the Great War and the love she left behind.



The Last Kingdom (The Saxon Stories #1)


This is the story of the making of England in the 9th and 10th centuries, the years in which King Alfred the Great, his son and grandson defeated the Danish Vikings who had invaded and occupied three of England’s four kingdoms.

The story is seen through the eyes of Uhtred, a dispossessed nobleman, who is captured as a child by the Danes and then raised by them so that, by the time the Northmen begin their assault on Wessex (Alfred’s kingdom and the last territory in English hands) Uhtred almost thinks of himself as a Dane. He certainly has no love for Alfred, whom he considers a pious weakling and no match for Viking savagery, yet when Alfred unexpectedly defeats the Danes and the Danes themselves turn on Uhtred, he is finally forced to choose sides. By now he is a young man, in love, trained to fight and ready to take his place in the dreaded shield wall. Above all, though, he wishes to recover his father’s land, the enchanting fort of Bebbanburg by the wild northern sea.

This thrilling adventure—based on existing records of Bernard Cornwell’s ancestors—depicts a time when law and order were ripped violently apart by a pagan assault on Christian England, an assault that came very close to destroying England.



The Pillars of the Earth (Kingsbridge Series #1)


Ken Follett is known worldwide as the master of split-second suspense, but his most beloved and bestselling book tells the magnificent tale of a twelfth-century monk driven to do the seemingly impossible: build the greatest Gothic cathedral the world has ever known.


Everything readers expect from Follett is here: intrigue, fast-paced action, and passionate romance. But what makes The Pillars of the Earth extraordinary is the time the twelfth century; the place feudal England; and the subject the building of a glorious cathedral. Follett has re-created the crude, flamboyant England of the Middle Ages in every detail. The vast forests, the walled towns, the castles, and the monasteries become a familiar landscape. Against this richly imagined and intricately interwoven backdrop, filled with the ravages of war and the rhythms of daily life, the master storyteller draws the reader irresistibly into the intertwined lives of his characters into their dreams, their labors, and their loves: Tom, the master builder; Aliena, the ravishingly beautiful noblewoman; Philip, the prior of Kingsbridge; Jack, the artist in stone; and Ellen, the woman of the forest who casts a terrifying curse. From humble stonemason to imperious monarch, each character is brought vividly to life.

The building of the cathedral, with the almost eerie artistry of the unschooled stonemasons, is the center of the drama. Around the site of the construction, Follett weaves a story of betrayal, revenge, and love, which begins with the public hanging of an innocent man and ends with the humiliation of a king.



The Bronze Horseman (The Bronze Horseman Series #1)


The golden skies, the translucent twilight, the white nights, all hold the promise of youth, of love, of eternal renewal. The war has not yet touched this city of fallen grandeur, or the lives of two sisters, Tatiana and Dasha Metanova, who share a single room in a cramped apartment with their brother and parents. Their world is turned upside down when Hitler's armies attack Russia and begin their unstoppable blitz to Leningrad.

Yet there is light in the darkness. Tatiana meets Alexander, a brave young officer in the Red Army. Strong and self-confident, yet guarding a mysterious and troubled past, he is drawn to Tatiana—and she to him. Starvation, desperation, and fear soon grip their city during the terrible winter of the merciless German siege. Tatiana and Alexander's impossible love threatens to tear the Metanova family apart and expose the dangerous secret Alexander so carefully protects—a secret as devastating as the war itself—as the lovers are swept up in the brutal tides that will change the world and their lives forever.



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Check out these lovely blogs for more books to add to your wish list(updated as they become available):


Holly at 2 Kids and Tired
Stephanie at Layered Pages
Heather at The Maiden's Court
Erin at Flashlight Commentary
Magdalena at A Bookish Swede
 

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Cover Crush: Her Body and Other Parties by Carmen Maria Machado

Hello, my name is Colleen and I am a cover slut. I know, I know....you aren't supposed to judge a book by it's cover. I just can't help myself! A beautiful cover draws my eye every single time and I can't help but pick up the book it's dressing and see if the inside seems as intriguing as the outside. Sometimes it does, and sometimes a pretty cover is just a pretty cover. Either way, I love getting an eyeful!

One of my favorite bloggers, Erin at
Flashlight Commentary, created a weekly blog post called Cover Crush and she and some other blogger friends are sharing their favorite covers each Thursday. I've decided to join in this year and will link to their posts down below.

So, without further ado, my Cover Crush this week is.....




I love the fluidity of this cover, especially the corset (which looks, slightly, like the sinewy insides of a person) and the green snake-like ribbon twisting around it. The darker, contrasting colors are very appealing as well.

Let's see what the synopsis can tell us about the stories within....



A highly anticipated debut by one of the most ferociously gifted young writers working today (Michelle Huneven)

In Her Body and Other Parties, Carmen Maria Machado blithely demolishes the arbitrary borders between psychological realism and science fiction, comedy and horror, fantasy and fabulism. While her work has earned her comparisons to Karen Russell and Kelly Link, she has a voice that is all her own. In this electric and provocative debut, Machado bends genre to shape startling narratives that map the realities of women's lives and the violence visited upon their bodies.

A wife refuses her husband's entreaties to remove the green ribbon from around her neck. A woman recounts her sexual encounters as a plague slowly consumes humanity. A salesclerk in a mall makes a horrifying discovery within the seams of the store's prom dresses. One woman's surgery-induced weight loss results in an unwanted houseguest. And in the bravura novella Especially Heinous, Machado reimagines every episode of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, a show we naively assumed had shown it all, generating a phantasmagoric police procedural full of doppelgangers, ghosts, and girls with bells for eyes.

Earthy and otherworldly, antic and sexy, queer and caustic, comic and deadly serious, Her Body and Other Parties swings from horrific violence to the most exquisite sentiment. In their explosive originality, these stories enlarge the possibilities of contemporary fiction.



Don't forget to check out what covers my blogger buddies are drooling over this week (updated as they become available):


Magdalena at A Bookaholic Swede
Meghan at Of Quills & Vellum
Erin at Flashlight Commentary
Heather at The Maiden's Court
Stephanie at Layered Pages
Holly at 2 Kids and Tired



Created by Magdalena of A Bookaholic Swede



Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Review: Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury

Publisher: Avon
Pub. Date: September 26th, 2006
Pages: 293

Genre: Fiction / Science Fiction / Horror


Synopsis



A carnival rolls in sometime after the midnight hour on a chill Midwestern October eve, ushering in Halloween a week before its time. A calliope's shrill siren song beckons to all with a seductive promise of dreams and youth regained. In this season of dying, Cooger & Dark's Pandemonium Shadow Show has come to Green Town, Illinois, to destroy every life touched by its strange and sinister mystery. And two inquisitive boys standing precariously on the brink of adulthood will soon discover the secret of the satanic raree-show's smoke, mazes, and mirrors, as they learn all too well the heavy cost of wishes - and the stuff of nightmare.

 

What Did I Think About the Story?



I decided to pick up and finally read Something Wicked This Way Comes for a number of reasons, including the fact that I was feeling like reading a "scary story" when I read it last month, I vaguely remember really enjoying the movie version when I was a kid, and author Riley Sager was going to be conducting a Twitter chat around the book on October 25th (#ReadWithRiley) and I really wanted to participate. It's one of those classics that I felt bad about never reading, even more so because it sounds so deliciously scary. I'm incredibly sad to say that I didn't love it as much as I'd expected.

My biggest issue with the story was the way the author told it. The writing style is so florid and poetic that I found myself having to constantly stop reading and reread passages to make sure I fully understood what was happening to the characters. While this might be perfect and quite beautiful writing for a different sort of genre, when it comes to a story that is meant to be terrifying, being removed from the tension, panic, and horror ruins that feeling of terror for me. I want to feel scared, not be confused about whether or not I am understanding what is happening in the story and whether or not those characters are feeling scared. That terror has to be visceral, not just cerebral.

I do have to say that there were a few instances where I was able to get into the flow of the story and enjoy the quite unsettling things happening to this town and its inhabitants. There is one scene in particular, where the two boys witness a man riding backwards on the carousel and the horrible results when that carousel finally stops turning, that had my heart pumping deliciously. The scenes taking place within the house of mirrors were pretty scary as well. I just wish there were more of these sorts of scenes and less waxing descriptions.

I also enjoyed the way the story highlighted the frenetic nature of boys and their imaginations and need for adventure that seems to seep away as they age, as well as how that aging can slowly begin to pull even the closest boys apart as their interests and motivations begin to separate. I thought the story an interesting way to show the dangers of not being satisfied in whatever chapter of life you happen to be in - either wishing to be young and back in the "good ol' days" or fighting to grow up before your time - and how that dissatisfaction can leave you open to all sorts of nefarious choices.

All in all I am happy that I read Something Wicked This Way Comes for the Twitter chat as it is a classic and did have parts that I ended up enjoying. It was not, however, the quick, terrifying read I anticipated and I will admit that this left me somewhat disappointed overall. I would recommend those that are interested in the story based on the synopsis or other reviews give it a try...you might end up loving it as so many other readers have.
      

What Did I Think About the Cover?



No, just no. While I know what the carousel represents, why one of the boys is riding one of the horses off into the sky I cannot figure out. The book also has an 80s feel (not in a good way) even though this edition was printed in 2006, and it doesn't do anything to make me want to read the story. With so many sinister happenings going on within the story there are almost endless possibilities for a better cover than this.  


My Rating: 3.0/5.0



I purchased a copy of Something Wicked This Way Comes for my own library. All opinions are mine alone. For more information about the book, including other reviews and links to where you can purchase a copy, see Goodreads HERE.
 
 


Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Release Day Review: Little Broken Things by Nicole Baart

Publisher: Atria Books
Pub. Date: November 21st, 2017
Pages: 368

Genre: Fiction / Literary Fiction / Mystery


Synopsis



An engrossing and suspenseful novel for fans of Liane Moriarty and Amy Hatvany about an affluent suburban family whose carefully constructed facade starts to come apart with the unexpected arrival of an endangered young girl.


I have something for you. When Quinn Cruz receives that cryptic text message from her older sister Nora, she doesn’t think much of it. They haven’t seen each other in nearly a year and thanks to Nora’s fierce aloofness, their relationship consists mostly of infrequent phone calls and an occasional email or text. But when a haunted Nora shows up at the lake near Quinn's house just hours later, a chain reaction is set into motion that will change both of their lives forever.

Nora’s “something” is more shocking than Quinn could have ever imagined: a little girl, cowering, wide-eyed, and tight-lipped. Nora hands her over to Quinn with instructions to keep her safe, and not to utter a word about the child to anyone, especially not their buttoned-up mother who seems determined to pretend everything is perfect. But before Quinn can ask even one of the million questions swirling around her head, Nora disappears, and Quinn finds herself the unlikely caretaker of a girl introduced simply as Lucy.

While Quinn struggles to honor her sister’s desperate request and care for the lost, scared Lucy, she fears that Nora may have gotten involved in something way over her head—something that will threaten them all. But Quinn’s worries are nothing compared to the firestorm that Nora is facing. It’s a matter of life and death, of family and freedom, and ultimately, about the lengths a woman will go to protect the ones she loves.


What Did I Think About the Story?



I fell in love with the cover of Little Broken Things when I saw it earlier this year and so already had it on my radar when author Nicole Baart posted that she was looking for reviewers to join her street team. I've participated in a few of these teams before and have had really good luck finding some excellent reads this way. I'm so glad I joined this team as Little Broken Things is such a heartfelt, touching story of piecing life back together after immense pain and finding a support system in places you didn't necessarily think you'd find it.

The story is mainly told through three women's perspectives: Nora, a woman looking to protect a young girl - Lucy/Everlee - at all costs and willing to sacrifice anything to do it; Quinn, Nora's sister, who finds herself the unlikely protector of Lucy at the same time as she's struggling somewhat with creating her own family; and Liz, Nora and Quinn's tightly-buttoned mother, who seems to have lost hold of her family and wants desperately to bring them back together again somehow. Sporadically sprinkled in between these perspectives is that of Nora's best friend, Tiffany, a woman who is also connected closely to little Lucy and who struggles between protecting this little girl and giving in to the love of a conniving and possessive man. As the story unfolds so many questions are asked - who are Lucy's parents? Why did Nora leave this little girl without giving anyone any information about her? Where did Tiffany go? Why is Nora convinced that Lucy is in so much danger? - and the answers to all of these questions and more are slowly dropped within the narrative, leaving the reader to pick up the various pieces and put them back together to reveal all right before the end. While I will admit that I had an idea where some of the story was headed and what would be revealed, I had the best time seeing just how all would be laid into place and how those revelations would effect all of the various characters.

I think what I enjoyed more than anything else, even the mysteries surrounding the greater story, was the way that these women all came together to try and protect this young girl. Even while they all seemed to want to shake or slap each other at times, they had this sweet, scarred girl to protect and love, which in turn ended up bringing them closer together again. It also made them put their own personal issues and selfishness aside and to realize what was important in the here and now.

There is a lot of pain and abuse suffered by most of our characters, something that, within the hands of a less skilled writer, could have been really hard to read about. While it was still incredibly heartbreaking to know what some of these characters experienced (or, in some cases, had to learn that their loved ones inflicted on other people), Nicole Baart delicately dropped this information throughout the story with such tenderness and heart without having to go into lurid details. While I don't typically have a problem with more graphic writing, those that due will be quite happy to know that Baart approaches the subjects with care.

Little Broken Things is a beautifully written, inspiring story about resilience and recovery after the worst possible things happen, and about taking all of those broken pieces of a person left over after tragedy strikes and reshaping them into a new life, often with the help and support of people you might not have expected to be there to help you pick up the pieces. It's also about the many shapes of a family and just what that word means. While the mystery aspect might not have been overly hard to figure out, the story as a whole is quite beautiful and I recommend it to anyone that enjoys a character-driven narrative.


What Did I Think About the Cover?



Well I picked this cover for one of my weekly Cover Crushes earlier this year, so it probably goes without saying that I adore the cover! I love the soft focus over the young girl, making her seem both mysterious and somewhat unidentifiable. It really is gorgeous and I could stare at the cover for days.


My Rating: 4.5/5.0



Thank you to author Nicole Baart and Atria Books for providing me with a free copy of Little Broken Things in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are mine alone. For more information about the book, including other reviews, author information, and links to where you can purchase a copy, see Goodreads HERE.
 
 


Monday, November 20, 2017

Don't Miss Out! Novel Expressions Book Promotions & Blog Tours is giving away a $100 AMAZON GIFT CARD!

Some of my favorite bloggers have created a new online book promotion and book tour company - Novel Expressions - and to celebrate they are giving away a $100 Amazon Gift Card to one lucky follower of their Facebook page! Just follow the instructions below to enter!
 
 


There are just a few things you need to do to qualify to win:

To enter you need to do ALL of the following:

1. Like and follow Novel Expressions on Facebook HERE.
2. Like the global giveaway post (pinned at the top of the Facebook page).

Additional entries may be earned by doing the following:

1. Comment on the global giveaway post.
2. Tag a friend in your comment.
3. Share the post on Facebook.


Giveaway will be open through December 15th and the winner will be announced December 16th!
 
Good Luck everyone!
 


Spotlight on Clara at the Edge by Maryl Jo Fox + Giveaway!!

Publisher: She Writes Press
Pub. Date: November 21st, 2017
Pages: 340


At seventy-three, eccentric widow Clara Breckenridge is on a last-ditch journey to reconcile with her estranged son, finally confront the guilty secrets surrounding her daughter’s death, and maybe find love again before she dies miserable and alone. But Clara is her own worst enemy. Rigid and afraid of change, she has cocooned herself in her old house to escape from life. Magic purple wasps saved her as a child from an abusive father and they want to help her now, but wasps only live 120 days. Clara’s time is running out.

When her beloved house is slated for demolition, she panics and persuades her son to haul the house from Eugene to Jackpot, Nevada, where Clara’s life is turned upside down by two troubled young people. Can the rowdy purple wasp, a spirit guide with surprising powers, help Clara confront her past and join life again or is it too late? Clara at the Edge is imaginative, eventful, sometimes funny and deeply moving.


Praise for Clara at the Edge



“Clara is a fascinating, feisty character….The writing is haunting and lyrical, and frequently ripples with humor and heart….Clara truly is at the edge of something greater than herself....[and her] story unspools in a compelling and engaging way.”—FOREWORD REVIEWS

"Fox’s writing says yes to every surreal and absurd possibility life offers."—BOOKLIST

“Who knew wasps could be protectors, champions, and the best friends a girl ever had? Maryl Jo Fox has written a wild, enchanting, constantly surprising story of one woman’s resilience, courage, and redemption through what may be a kind of magical insanity. Clara At the Edge kept me buzzing on every page.”—Diana Wagman, author of Life #6 and The Care and Feeding of Exotic Pets

“This dazzling combination of riotous imagination with bottomless compassion makes this such a stellar debut. Readers will surely remember Clara and her crew— they are utterly distinct, and beautifully realized.”—Aimee Bender, author of The Color Master and The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake
                                                                  
"We will follow Clara anywhere."—Walter Kirn, author of Up in the Air and Blood Will Out


Buy the Book

 
 
 

About the Author

 
 
Maryl Jo Fox grew up in Idaho and studied music at the University of Idaho before transferring to UC Berkeley for a BA in English. She went on to earn an MA in English at the University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana. Her short fiction has appeared in Passages North, Bat City Review, and other journals. Her writing has also appeared in LA Weekly and the LA Times. She is a former president of the L.A. Drama Critics Circle. She has taught literature and composition at Pasadena City College, Glendale College, and others, and currently leads a novels discussion group at Vromans bookstore in Pasadena. She discovered her focus in a UCLA Extension Writers’ Program class, “Master Sequence in Magic, Surrealism, and the Absurd." Learn more at https://maryljofox.com/ and https://www.facebook.com/MarylJoFoxAuthor/. 
 
 

It's Giveaway Time!!

 

Thanks to Caitlin Hamilton Summie I have one copy of Clara at the Edge to give away today! The giveaway is for one copy and is open to US addresses only. I'll make it super easy to enter: just leave a comment on this post about why you want to win this book (does the topic catch your fancy? Do you already enjoy the author's writing?) along with your email address so I can notify you if you are the winner. That's it!

Because I really appreciate anyone who follows my blog, if you do follow just leave a separate comment for each way you follow and you'll get extra entries for each (please state in each comment how you follow). I'll use a random number generator to pick a winner among all entries and will announce the winner here on Monday, November 27th, 2017. I'll also send the winner an email (don't forget to include your email address in your comment so I can notify you if you are my winner!) and they will have 48 hours to respond with their mailing address.

Good Luck!!



Friday, November 17, 2017

Excerpt of The It Girl and Me: A Novel of Clara Bow​ ​by Laini Giles + Tour-Wide Giveaway!!

Sepia Stories Publishing
Pub. Date: March 25, 2017
Pages: 341

Series: Forgotten Actresses, Book #2
Gere: Historical Fiction / Biographical



Daisy DeVoe has left her abusive husband, her father has been pinched for bootlegging, and she’s embarrassed by her rural Kentucky roots. But on the plus side, she’s climbing the ladder in the salon of Paramount Pictures, styling hair for actress Clara Bow.

Clara is a handful. The “It” Girl of the Jazz Age personifies the new woman of the 1920s onscreen, smoking, drinking bootleg hooch, and bursting with sex appeal. But her conduct off the set is even more scandalous. Hoping to impose a little order on Clara’s chaotic life, Paramount persuades Daisy to sign on as Clara’s personal secretary.

Thanks to Daisy, Clara’s bank account is soon flush with cash. And thanks to Clara, Daisy can finally shake off her embarrassing past and achieve respectability for herself and her family.

The trouble begins when Clara’s newest fiancé, cowboy star Rex Bell, wants to take over, and he and Daisy battle for control. Torn between her loyalty to Clara and her love for her family, Daisy has to make a difficult choice when she ends up in the county jail.

Here, Daisy sets the record straight, from her poverty-stricken childhood to her failed marriage; from a father in San Quentin to her rollercoaster time with Clara, leaving out none of the juicy details.


Excerpt of The It Girl and Me

 

“The Wild Party, scene three, take six,” said the slate boy. He clacked the halves together and retreated.

“Action!”

Clara frolicked into the frame, turned enthusiastically, and let out a booming “Whoopee!”

The dangling microphone shook for a moment, then emitted a poof, like a giant creature exhaling.

“Cut!” Dorothy called.

Everyone on the set looked up at it in confusion. Clarence lowered the mike, his eyes filled with fear. Roy Pomeroy stalked over, grabbed the thing away from Clarence, and examined it. He hacked at the twine with his pocketknife, then shook his head. “Clarence, bring me a new tube. This one’s blown.”

After fifteen minutes of searching for a replacement, Clarence dashed over to Pomeroy with it. Pomeroy pulled the microphone apart, pushed in the tube, and reassembled it. This time, instead of heading back into the sound booth, he waited to see what happened.

“Places, everyone!” Dorothy called. Cast and crew resumed their spots.

“The Wild Party, scene three, take seven,” said the slate boy.

“And . . . action!”

There came Clara again, executing her perfectly casual turn, her face animated.

“Whoopee!” she exclaimed.

Poof.

Dorothy shook her head.

Pomeroy turned to Clarence again. “Any tubes left?” he asked through clenched teeth.

“Eight, Mr. Pomeroy.”

Pomeroy reached into his pocket and pulled out a wad of bills, then handed them to Clarence. “Get over to that place on Sunset. Pick up as many as they have in stock. We’re going to need plenty.”

While the cast and crew had a laugh over the tubes, Artie leaned over to me.

“She’s having to learn to use her voice for the very first time, and it scares the hell outta her.”

“And learn lines too,” I said. “She wanted me here for support the day they tested her. She was sobbing, Artie. Told me she couldn’t possibly be in pictures with a voice that bad.”

He shook his head. “It’s not bad. It’s just Brooklyn. We gotta help her develop some confidence. Everybody’s got mike fright right now. Think of all the foreigners in Hollywood who have accents thicker than butterscotch pudding. I got seated next to Vilma Banky and Rod La Rocque at a dinner party a couple months ago, and I couldn’t understand a word she said. Where the hell is she from, anyway? Those are the people who need to be worried. Clara is up to forty-five thousand fan letters a month! She’s Paramount’s biggest earner. They won’t kill her career over that voice, but I don’t want her sabotaging herself either.”

“I heard they’re giving Greta Garbo all the time in the world to lose some of her accent,” I said.

“Clara’s got a better voice than that.”

“If she can keep that stammer in check,” I said.

“She only does it when she’s nervous. She’s had it since she was little.”

“That long? I had no idea. I thought she was just frightened of sound.”

“We’re all scared of sound. But audiences want it. We gotta teach Clara how to act all over again.”

 

Buy the Book

 
 

About the Author

 

Originally from the counterculture mecca of Austin, Texas, Laini discovered a love of reading early on, and when she was eight, decided to be Nancy Drew. This dream was dashed when she realized she was actually a big chicken, and that there were no guarantees of rescue from tarantulas, bad guys with guns, and other fiendish plot twists. She finished her first “mystery novel” (with custom illustrations) when she was nine.

She set the writing aside for a while when life got in the way, but was led back to it through her interest in genealogy and 18 months of enforced unemployment due to moving north for maple-flavored goodies and real beer. Reading old microfilm stirred new life into her interest in writing, and watching early silent films struck the match.

Like most other writers, most of her monthly budget is spent on coffee and books. She lives with her husband and their two gray cats in Edmonton, Alberta.

For more information, please visit Laini Giles’ website. You can also connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Goodreads.


It's Giveaway Time!!!

 

During the Blog Tour we will be giving away 5 paperback copies of The It Girl and Me! To enter, please enter via the Gleam form HERE.

Giveaway Rules

– Giveaway ends at 11:59pm EST on November 29th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
– Giveaway is open to US & Canada 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.
 
Good Luck!!
 
  

The It Girl and Me Blog Tour Schedule

 

Wednesday, November 1

Kick Off at Passages to the Past

Thursday, November 2

Feature at What Is That Book About

Friday, November 3

Feature at So Many Books, So Little Time

Monday, November 6

Review at Bookish

Tuesday, November 7

Feauture at WS Momma Readers Nook

Thursday, November 9

Review at Beth’s Book Nook Blog

Friday, November 10

Review at A Bookaholic Swede

Monday, November 13

Review at Creating Herstory
Excerpt at Myths, Legends, Books & Coffee Pots

Wednesday, November 15

Review at A Chick Who Reads

Friday, November 17

Excerpt at A Literary Vacation

Monday, November 20

Feature at Let Them Read Books

Wednesday, November 22

Feature at The Lit Bitch

Thursday, November 23

Review at Locks, Hooks and Books

Friday, November 24

Feature at CelticLady’s Reviews

Saturday, November 25

Excerpt at T’s Stuff

Tuesday, November 28

Review at View from the Birdhouse

Wednesday, November 29

Review at A Book Drunkard


 
  




Thursday, November 16, 2017

Cover Crush: Far From The Tree by Robin Benway

Hello, my name is Colleen and I am a cover slut. I know, I know....you aren't supposed to judge a book by it's cover. I just can't help myself! A beautiful cover draws my eye every single time and I can't help but pick up the book it's dressing and see if the inside seems as intriguing as the outside. Sometimes it does, and sometimes a pretty cover is just a pretty cover. Either way, I love getting an eyeful!

One of my favorite bloggers, Erin at
Flashlight Commentary, created a weekly blog post called Cover Crush and she and some other blogger friends are sharing their favorite covers each Thursday. I've decided to join in this year and will link to their posts down below.

So, without further ado, my Cover Crush this week is.....
 
 
 
 
This is such a gorgeous cover!! Firstly, the soft pinks and oranges of the leaves are just beautiful. Secondly, I love the perspective of these leaves falling so heavily from above, onto and around the title. I don't think it necessarily gives anything about the story away either, and I kind of like that.
 
What can the synopsis tell us about the story hiding within....
 

A contemporary novel about three adopted siblings who find each other at just the right moment.

Being the middle child has its ups and downs.

But for Grace, an only child who was adopted at birth, discovering that she is a middle child is a different ride altogether. After putting her own baby up for adoption, she goes looking for her biological family, including—

Maya, her loudmouthed younger bio sister, who has a lot to say about their newfound family ties. Having grown up the snarky brunette in a house full of chipper redheads, she’s quick to search for traces of herself among these not-quite-strangers. And when her adopted family’s long-buried problems begin to explode to the surface, Maya can’t help but wonder where exactly it is that she belongs.

And Joaquin, their stoic older bio brother, who has no interest in bonding over their shared biological mother. After seventeen years in the foster care system, he’s learned that there are no heroes, and secrets and fears are best kept close to the vest, where they can’t hurt anyone but him.
 
 
Don't forget to check out what covers my blogger buddies are drooling over this week (updated as they become available):


Magdalena at A Bookaholic Swede
Meghan at Of Quills & Vellum
Erin at Flashlight Commentary
Heather at The Maiden's Court
Stephanie at Layered Pages
Holly at 2 Kids and Tired



Created by Magdalena of A Bookaholic Swede
 
 

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Becoming Mrs. Smith by Tanya E. Williams + Tour-Wide Giveaway!!

Pub. Date: October 10, 2017
Publisher: Rippling Effects Writing & Photography
Pages: 100 Pages


Genre: Historical Fiction/Novella


Not all of war’s destruction takes place on the battlefield.


Violet’s heart flutters from the scarlet fever she survived as a child, and it beats faster at the sight of John Smith, the man she plans to marry. America is entrenched in WWII, and when John enlists, Violet is certain she won’t ever forgive him for dashing their dreams. As the realities of war slowly overtake her life, Violet’s days are filled with uncertainty and grief. She struggles to maintain her faith in John, as the world as she knows it, crumbles.

Becoming Mrs. Smith is the inspiring, and at times, heartbreaking story of a woman’s struggle to reclaim what she lost. War stole the man she loves, and childhood illness weakened her heart—perhaps beyond repair. While guns rage in Europe, the war Violet faces at home may be even more devastating.


Praise for Becoming Mrs. Smith



“Wonderfully emotional and beautifully written, Becoming Mrs. Smith will take hold of your heartstrings and leave you longing for more.” –Kelsey Gietl, author of Across Oceans


Buy the Book

 
Available on Amazon in Paperback and eBook
 
 

About the Author

 
 
A writer from a young age, Tanya E Williams loves to help a reader get lost in another time, another place through the magic of books. History continues to inspire her stories and her insightfulness into the human condition deepens her character’s experiences and propels them on their journey. Ms. Williams’ favourite tales, speak to the reader’s heart, making them smile, laugh, cry, and think.

For more information, please visit Tanya Williams’ website and blog. You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Goodreads, and Pinterest.
 
 

It's Giveaway Time!!

 

During the Blog Tour we will be giving away an eBook of Becoming Mrs. Smith! To enter, please enter via the Gleam form HERE.


Giveaway Rules


– Giveaway ends at 11:59pm EST on November 17th. 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.
 
Good Luck!!
 

HFVBT Schedule

 
Monday, October 30

Feature at View from the Birdhouse
Excerpt at Myths, Legends, Books & Coffee Pots

Tuesday, October 31
 
Review at Hopewell’s Public Library of Life

Wednesday, November 1
 
Feature at The Lit Bitch

Thursday, November 2
 
Review at Bookish

Friday, November 3
 
Feature at Passages to the Past

Monday, November 6
 
Review at Once Upon A Book

Tuesday, November 7

Feature at The Reading Queen

Wednesday, November 8

Guest Post at Encouraging Words from the Tea Queen

Thursday, November 9

Excerpt at Just One More Chapter

Friday, November 10

Feature at Jenn’s Book Vibes

Monday, November 13

Excerpt at What Cathy Read Next

Tuesday, November 14

Interview & Excerpt at Jorie Loves a Story

Wednesday, November 15

Feature at A Literary Vacation
Review at Singing Librarian Books

Friday, November 17
 
Review at Bookramblings
Review at Locks, Hooks and Books
Feature at Broken Teepee
 
 
 
 
 


Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Book Blast: Anna Belfrage's Graham Saga Series + Tour-Wide Giveaway!!

Please follow Anna Belfrage as her beloved Graham Saga series is blasted around the blogosphere & enter to win Books #1-8!
 
 

About The Graham Saga Series

 

This is the story of Alex and Matthew, two people who should never have met – not when she was born three hundred years after him.

It all began the day Alex Lind got caught in a thunderstorm. Not your ordinary storm, no this was the mother of all storms, causing a most unusual rift in the fabric of time. Alex was dragged three centuries backwards in time, landing more or less at the feet of a very surprised Matthew Graham.

In a series of books we follow the life and adventures of the expanding Graham family, both in Scotland and in the New World – and let me tell you it is quite an exciting life, at times excessively so in Alex’ opinion.

Sometimes people ask me why Alex had to be born in the twentieth century, why not make her a woman born and bred in the seventeenth century where the story is set? The answer to that is I have no idea. Alex Lind is an insistent, vibrant character that sprung into my head one morning and simply wouldn’t let go.

Seductively she whispered about terrible thunderstorms, about a gorgeous man with magic, hazel eyes, about loss and sorrow, about love – always this love, for her man and her children, for the people she lives with. With a throaty chuckle she shared insights into a life very far removed from mine, now and then stopping to shake her head and tell me that it probably hadn’t been easy for Matthew, to have such an outspoken, strange and independent woman at his side.

At this point Matthew groaned into life. Nay, he sighed, this woman of his was at times far too obstinate, with no notion of how a wife should be, meek and dutiful. But, he added with a laugh, he wouldn’t want her any different, for all that she was half heathen and a right hand-full. No, he said, stretching to his full length, if truth be told not a day went by without him offering fervent thanks for his marvelous wife, a gift from God no less, how else to explain the propitious circumstances that had her landing at his feet that long gone August day?

Still, dear reader, it isn’t always easy. At times Alex thinks he’s an overbearing bastard, at others he’s sorely tempted to belt her. But the moment their fingertips graze against each other, the moment their eyes meet, the electrical current that always buzzes between them peaks and surges, it rushes through their veins, it makes their breathing hitch and … She is his woman, he is her man. That’s how it is, that’s how it always will be.
 
 

Graham Saga Titles

 
 
 
 
Book One: A Rip in the Veil
Book Two: Like Chaff in the Wind
Book Three: The Prodigal Son
Book Four: A Newfound Land
Book Five: Serpents in the Garden
Book Six: Revenge & Retribution
Book Seven: Whither Thou Goest
Book Eight: To Catch a Falling Star
Book Nine: There is Always a Tomorrow (November 2017)
 
 

It's Giveaway Time!!!



During the Blog Tour we will be giving away Books #1-8 in paperback to one lucky winner! To enter, please enter via the Gleam form HERE.

Giveaway Rules

– Giveaway ends at 11:59pm EST on November 20th. 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.
 
Good Luck!!
 
 

About the Author

 
 
 

Anna was raised abroad, on a pungent mix of Latin American culture, English history and Swedish traditions. As a result she’s multilingual and most of her reading is Anna Belfragehistorical- both non-fiction and fiction. Possessed of a lively imagination, she has drawers full of potential stories, all of them set in the past. She was always going to be a writer – or a historian, preferably both. Ideally, Anna aspired to becoming a pioneer time traveller, but science has as yet not advanced to the point of making that possible. Instead she ended up with a degree in Business and Finance, with very little time to spare for her most favourite pursuit. Still, one does as one must, and in between juggling a challenging career Anna raised her four children on a potent combination of invented stories, historical debates and masses of good food and homemade cakes. They seem to thrive…

For years she combined a challenging career with four children and the odd snatched moment of writing. Nowadays Anna spends most of her spare time at her writing desk. The children are half grown, the house is at times eerily silent and she slips away into her imaginary world, with her imaginary characters. Every now and then the one and only man in her life pops his head in to ensure she’s still there.

For additional information regarding Anna, her characters, extra scenes, and teasers for her next books, have a look at Anna’s website at: www.annabelfrage.com. You can also find her on Facebook or follow her on Twitter.
 
 

Graham Saga Series HFVBT Book Blast Schedule

 

Monday, November 6

T’s Stuff
Susan Heim on Writing

Wednesday, November 8

 Let Them Read Books

Friday, November 10

 A Holland Reads

Sunday, November 12

A Chick Who Reads

Monday, November 13

 Book Nerd

Saturday, November 18

 Books, Dreams, Life

Monday, November 20
 
 

 
 


Monday, November 13, 2017

Audiobook Review: The Circle by Dave Eggers

Publisher: Random House Audio
Release Date: October 8th, 2013
Length: 13 hours, 42 minutes
Narrator: Dion Graham


Synopsis



When Mae Holland is hired to work for the Circle, the world’s most powerful internet company, she feels she’s been given the opportunity of a lifetime. The Circle, run out of a sprawling California campus, links users’ personal emails, social media, banking, and purchasing with their universal operating system, resulting in one online identity and a new age of civility and transparency.

As Mae tours the open-plan office spaces, the towering glass dining facilities, the cozy dorms for those who spend nights at work, she is thrilled with the company’s modernity and activity. There are parties that last through the night, there are famous musicians playing on the lawn, there are athletic activities and clubs and brunches, and even an aquarium of rare fish retrieved from the Marianas Trench by the CEO.

Mae can’t believe her luck, her great fortune to work for the most influential company in America - even as life beyond the campus grows distant, even as a strange encounter with a colleague leaves her shaken, even as her role at the Circle becomes increasingly public. What begins as the captivating story of one woman’s ambition and idealism soon becomes a heart-racing novel of suspense, raising questions about memory, history, privacy, democracy, and the limits of human knowledge.


What Did I Think About the Story?



I absolutely love the concept of this book! I, like a lot of people, have lots of social media accounts and really enjoy interacting with people online as well as having nearly endless purchasing power right at the ends of my fingertips, no matter where I am. The thought of having all of these various accounts connected in one place, with one log in, sounds amazing!! So does the idea that having more transparency online might bring an end to internet trolling. What could go wrong with this idea? Oh, so many things!

I will fully admit that, if I was a young, single twenty-something person growing up in today's expanded world of technology, I would probably itch, at least at first, to work at a company like the Circle, if for no other reason than being at the forefront of technological advances (which I very much enjoyed learning about within this story) and having so much excitement and innovation - endless parties, endless products to try, the best of everything - always available right there at the company. This, on the surface, seems almost perfect doesn't it? I mean sure, you're expected to put in a lot of extra hours at work and don't get to see your family and friends as much as you used to. But look at all the benefits the job brings! This surface excitement slowly seeps away, however, when you discover just how invasive and stressful this sort of world could actually be.

Through Mae the reader gets to see this invasiveness, where people can see and hear what you are doing literally at every second of the day and at least some of the night, where every messy situation that any normal human experiences with their family and friends is laid bare for anyone to analyze and comment on. You also get to see how stressful it could become when people have constant expectations that you will answer their texts, like their products or services instantly, share their information online, not only join their groups and organizations but also attend them, rate every single place you visit, food you consume, product you use...it's endless madness! There is no way that any human can do all of the things having such an online presence would demand and still be present in the physical life they should actually be living. And there lies the rub.

I will admit that I wasn't a huge fan of any of the characters. They all, probably predictably, are quite self-centered and selfish by nature, and I've never been a big fan of people like this in reality. The narrator also made many of their voices almost comical in nature (I'm not sure if this was intentionally done or not) so they became almost caricatures, or ironic representations, of real people instead of actually feeling real. Some of this feeling might be due to the fact that I don't live in a fast-paced, hipster sort of world, so I don't come across people like this very often, but that was the impression I got from these characters regardless. I will say that the  narrator did an excellent job of giving voice to the frenetic nature of the Circle as well as the build up of stress and anxiety that would become inherent in people working there. I won't say too much regarding the lengths Mae will go to in order to become an integral part of the Circle, but the farther and farther she went down that rabbit hole the less and less sympathetic a character she became. Her total immersion did make the ending wonderfully unnerving in a subtle sort of way, so maybe my aggravation in her character, and most of the others, needed to happen in order to get to that seemingly inevitable ending. Whatever the reason I'm just glad I don't have to deal with frenetic, selfish people like they employ at the Circle in my life!

The Circle was definitely entertaining as well as being a social commentary on the ever-increasing reliability on online presences and social media and a warning of what can happen if that reliability goes too far. I read somewhere that the book is like the offspring of 1984 and Black Mirror and I think that is the perfect way to describe it. Definitely worth a read or listen-to if you're looking for something to keep you interested until the end. I'm now excited to watch the movie and see how it compares!  


What Did I Think About the Cover?



This cover doesn't do anything for me. I can see where the many interconnected and overlapping rings might represent the hive-like structure of the Circle and how they all sort of form a barrier around the central, almost closed circle, however I typically prefer a little more....something, anything...in a cover. With all that is going on within the story it seems like a better cover could have been created.


My Rating: 4.0/5.0



I borrowed a copy of The Circle from my library's Overdrive account. All opinions are mine alone. You can find more information about the book, including other reviews and links to where you can purchase a copy, on Goodreads HERE.




Friday, November 10, 2017

Book Blast: The Painter's Apprentice by Laura Morelli

Publisher: The Scriptorium
Pub. Date: November 15, 2017
Pages: 482

Series: The Gondola Maker, Book Two
Genre: Fiction/Historical



Star-crossed lovers with a costly secret. As the plague grips Venice, more than a quarantine divides them…


Venice, 1510. Maria Bartolini wants nothing more than to carry on her father’s legacy as a master gilder. Instead, her father has sent her away from the only home she’s ever known to train as an apprentice to Master Trevisan, a renowned painter.

Maria arranges to leave the painter’s workshop to return to her family workshop and to a secret lover waiting for her back home. But the encroaching Black Death foils her plans…

When the painter’s servants uncover the real reason why Maria has been sent away to train with Master Trevisan, they threaten to reveal a secret that could tear down her family and the future of their trade. She is forced to buy the servants’ silence, but as their greed steadily grows, Maria resorts to more desperate measures. She questions whether her heart’s desire is worth risking her family, her trade, and her future, but Maria’s sacrifices may amount to nothing if the plague arrives on her father’s doorstep and steals away everything she’s ever loved…


From the author of the award-winning The Gondola Maker comes a rich tale of Renaissance Venice, a heroine with a lust for life, and love against all odds.


Pre-Order Promotion



Author Laura Morelli is offering a set of great bonuses exclusively to her readers! If you like to delve deeper into the “story behind the story,” you’ll want to take advantage of Laura’s pre-order package, which takes readers behind the scenes of The Painter’s Apprentice with videos, pictures, commentary about Renaissance Venice, and other exclusive content.

Learn more here: http://lauramorelli.com/preorder-tpa/


Buy the Book

 
 
 

Praise for The Painter's Apprentice

 


“I’m a big fan of Venice, so I appreciate Laura Morelli’s special knowledge of the city, the period, and the process of gondola-making. An especially compelling story.” -Frances Mayes, author, Under the Tuscan Sun

“Laura Morelli has done her research, or perhaps she was an Italian carpenter in another life. One can literally smell and feel the grain of finely turned wood in her hands.” -Pamela Sheldon Johns, author, Italian Food Artisans

“Sixteenth-century Venice is the star of Morelli’s well-crafted historical novel about Luca Vianello, the eldest son of the city’s most renowned gondola builder.” -Publisher’s Weekly Starred Review

“The heir to a gondola empire rejects his birthright but comes full circle in this fascinating glimpse into late-Renaissance Venice by art-historian-turned-novelist Morelli (Made in Italy).” -Kirkus Indie Book of the Month

“The Gondola Maker is historical fiction at its best.” -Midwest Book Review
 
 

About the Author

 

Laura Morelli holds a Ph.D. in art history from Yale University, where she was a Bass Writing Fellow and Mellon Doctoral Fellow. She authored a column for National Geographic Traveler called “The Genuine Article” and contributes pieces about authentic travel to national magazines and newspapers. Laura has been featured on CNN Radio, Travel Today with Peter Greenberg, The Frommers Travel Show, and in USA TODAY, Departures, House & Garden Magazine, Traditional Home, the Denver Post, Miami Herald, The Chicago Tribune, and other media. Recently her art history lesson, “What’s the difference between art and craft?” was produced and distributed by TED-Ed.

Laura has taught college-level art history at Trinity College in Rome, as well as at Northeastern University, Merrimack College, St. Joseph College, and the College of Coastal Georgia. Laura has lived in five countries, including four years in Italy and four years in France.

Laura Morelli is the author of the guidebook series that includes Made in Italy, Made in France, and Made in the Southwest, all published by Rizzoli / Universe. The Gondola Maker, a historical coming-of-age story about the heir to a gondola boatyard in 16th-century Venice, is her first work of fiction.

For more information, please visit Laura Morelli’s website. You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.


HFVBT Book Blast Schedule



Monday, October 23

Passages to the Past

Tuesday, October 24

Suzy Approved Book Reviews

Wednesday, October 25

The Never-Ending Book
To Read, Or Not to Read

Thursday, October 26

The Reading Queen

Friday, October 27

What Is That Book About

Monday, October 30

Encouraging Words from the Tea Queen

Tuesday, October 31

WS Momma Readers Nook

Wednesday, November 1

The Book Junkie Reads

Friday, November 3

Broken Teepee
Locks, Hooks and Books

Monday, November 6

Creating Herstory

Tuesday, November 7

Myths, Legends, Books & Coffee Pots

Thursday, November 9

The Lit Bitch

Friday, November 10

CelticLady’s Reviews
A Literary Vacation
Romantic Historical Reviews

Saturday, November 11

T’s Stuff

Monday, November 13

Let Them Read Books