Monday, April 9, 2018

Mailbox Monday (80)

Good morning y'all! Today I'm linking up with Mailbox Monday for the first time in ages. 

I've neglected this blog a lot in recent months mainly because life has just kind of exploded.  We went on an amazing trip to Germany in November and as soon as we got back, I found out I was pregnant.  I was so sick for the first few months! It was all new to me because I felt so good when I was pregnant with Julia.  During that same time, the hubs started having a lot of stomach issues and ended up having surgery in February.  So there has been  A LOT going on lately. 

I'm finally feeling better and trying to read more.  I set a really low goal for the year (52 books) and so far I'm on track so that's nice.  I have still been bringing new book babies into my house but I think that's going to slow down here really quick.  I've been taking advantage of the kindle sales and need to read what I have for a while.

Here is some of what I got this week:

For Review (from author):


Purchased for Kindle:






What books did you get this week?

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Mini Reviews (24)



I will read anything about Anastasia.  She was my gateway drug into Russian history and I'm kind of obsessed.  I Was Anastasia is one of my new favorite fictional books about her and a possible escape.  I loved the story; it went back and forth between Anastasia experiencing the revolution and captivity and Anna Anderson trying to bolster her claim that she was the Grand Duchess.  Both periods were super intriguing and I was completely sucked into the story, never sure where things would end up.  The end was so good and not what I expected at all.  The fact that it was a surprise was awesome and just solidified my feelings towards this book.  I would highly recommend it! 4 stars.




It looks like The Pines of Winder Ranch contains two RaeAnne Thayne novellas but my review copy only had a A Cold Creek Reunion so that's what  I am reviewing.  This was classic RaeAnne Thayne in that everyone lives happily ever after which is exactly what I was looking for.  Her cowboy, Taft Bowman, was tough but so sweet and I loved seeing his relationship with his family, the townspeople and Laura's kids.  Laura was a little irritating for my taste but I appreciated the reasons why she irritated me.  The romance was great and I thought Laura's kids provided some good comedic moments in addition to being the climax of the story.  Cute story! 4 stars.



Carnegie's Maid by Marie Benedict

I don't read much about US history but this one had such an interesting premise that I couldn't resist.  The author creates a fictional maid, Clara Kelly, who instills in Andrew Carnegie the idea that he should engage in philanthropic endeavors.  It was a really nice concept that this woman he loved was the reason behind Carnegie's generosity.  Clara was an awesome character; she was intelligent and tenacious and I enjoyed seeing her strive to improve her position in life.  Overall, I really enjoyed the story but I so wished it could have ended in a different way.  The ending felt too rushed and while realistic, I just wished it could have been happier.  3 1/2 stars.

I received these books from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Monday, March 19, 2018

Review and Giveaway: "The Cold Light of Dawn" by Anna Belfrage


Synopsis:
After Henry of Lancaster’s rebellion has been crushed early in 1329, a restless peace settles over England. However, the young Edward III is no longer content with being his regents’ puppet, no matter that neither Queen Isabella nor Roger Mortimer show any inclination to give up their power. Caught in between is Adam de Guirande, torn between his loyalty to the young king and that to his former lord, Roger Mortimer.

Edward III is growing up fast. No longer a boy to be manipulated, he resents the power of his mother, Queen Isabella, and Mortimer. His regents show little inclination of handing over their power to him, the rightful king, and Edward suspects they never will unless he forces their hand.

Adam de Guirande is first and foremost Edward’s man, and he too is of the opinion that the young king is capable of ruling on his own. But for Adam siding with his king causes heartache, as he still loves Roger Mortimer, the man who shaped him into who he is.

Inevitably, Edward and his regents march towards a final confrontation. And there is nothing Adam can do but pray and hope that somehow things will work out. Unfortunately, prayers don’t always help.

The Cold Light of Dawn is the fourth in Anna Belfrage’s series, The King’s Greatest Enemy, the story of a man torn apart by his loyalties to his lord and his king.

My Thoughts:  I'm going to try to not gush because I know that I always get a little over the top when I review an Anna Belfrage book.  That being said, The Cold Light of Dawn is probably my favorite installment in the series.  Kit and, especially Adam, faced some some pretty serious life-changing situations in this book and watching them navigate these situations was both beautiful and heart-breaking.

Adam was really the shining star of this book.  He really had to figure out who he was and what was most important to him more so than in the other books.  Adam's loyalties were really put to the test in this book and he really struggled to manage his work and loyalty to the king with his love for the man who raised him, Roger Mortimer.  It broke my heart to see him torn between the two men and his attempts to do his duty to them both.  I also hated how the king essentially betrayed Adam's loyalty because of his feelings toward Mortimer as well as because of his health issues.  The end of the story was terribly sad but so beautifully written.  I think the reader really got to see deep into Adam's soul; I already knew he was a good man but seeing the love and kindness he showed Mortimer was just so poignant. 

This book could very easily be the last in the series and if it is, then I think the story was tied up quite well.  However, Ms. Belfrage left a note at the end of the book indicating that we may get to see more of Adam and Kit in the future and I really hope that's the case.  I thoroughly enjoyed the historical note at the end of the book (I love a good historical note) and I ended up going out and reading more about Roger Mortimer when I finished this book.  I'm pretty intrigued by him now!

I will always love Ms. Belfrage's books and sing their praises but The Cold Light of Dawn is a really special read.  There's something magical when an author can evoke real emotion from the reader and that's what Ms. Belfrage was able to do here.  I'm so glad I got the opportunity to read this one! 4 1/2 stars.



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 historical- 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.

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

Giveaway



During the Blog Tour we will be giving away a complete set of The King’s Greatest Enemy series to one winner & two winners will win a paperback copy of The Cold Light of Dawn! To enter, please enter via the Gleam form 

Giveaway Rules
– Giveaway ends at 11:59pm EST on March 30th. 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.
 




I received this book from HFVBT in exchange for an honest review.

Friday, March 9, 2018

Book Spotlight and Giveaway: "Shadow By The Bridge" by Suzanne Zewan






Shadow by the Bridge by Suzanne Zewan



Publication Date: November 1, 2017


No Frills Buffalo


eBook & Paperback; 368 Pages


ISBN-13: 9780998881188




Genre: Historical Mystery






11-year-old Fritz Reynolds recalled his father telling him that man is the only creature who can find amusement in killing. Little did he realize that those words would become the theme for his teenage years growing up in the rural hamlet of Linden, New York. In this coming-of-age story, Fritz takes us back to a simpler time when neighbors gathered at the general store to listen to radio shows, drank barrel-aged cider, and worshiped at the Baptist church every Sunday. All was picturesque in his close-knit farming community until terror was unleashed on them.


Amazon | Barnes and Noble | IndieBound



About the Author


Suzanne is coordinator at Genesee Valley Educational Partnership and is an adjunct professor at Buffalo State College. She has a M.A. in English and Creative Writing and a M.S.Ed. in Career and Technical Education. Other publications include a poem in Jigsaw (2014), a short story and two poems in Jigsaw (2016), and a short story in Amaranth Review (2016).

For more information, please visit Suzanne Zewan's website. You can also find Suzanne on Facebook and Twitter.


Blog Tour Schedule


Monday, February 19
Feature at Beth's Book Nook Blog

Thursday, February 22
Interview at The Book Junkie Reads

Tuesday, February 27
Feature at A Literary Vacation

Thursday, March 1
Excerpt at What is That Book About

Saturday, March 3
Interview & Excerpt at T's Stuff

Wednesday, March 7
Review & Excerpt at WS Momma Readers Nook

Friday, March 9
Feature at So Many Books, So Little Time

Tuesday, March 13
Excerpt at My Reading Corner

Thursday, March 15
Review at Donna's Book Blog

Tuesday, March 20
Review at Locks, Hooks and Books

Thursday, March 22
Excerpt at Buried Under Books

Friday, March 23
Review at Broken Teepee

Monday, March 26
Interview at Passages to the Past

Wednesday, March 28
Review at Svetlana's Reads and Views

Friday, March 30
Review & Excerpt at A Chick Who Reads

Saturday, March 31
Review at Cup of Sensibility


Giveaway


During the Blog Tour we will be giving away two paperback copies of Shadow by the Bridge to one lucky winner! To enter, please enter via the Gleam form below.

Giveaway Rules

– Giveaway ends at 11:59pm EST on March 31st. You must be 18 or older to enter.
– Giveaway is open to US residents only.
– Only one entry per household.
– All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspect of fraud is decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion.
– Winner has 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.

Shadow by the Bridge


Thursday, February 8, 2018

Book Spotlight and Giveaway: "Fanny Newcomb and the Irish Channel Ripper" by Ana Brazil






Fanny Newcomb and the Irish Channel Ripper by Ana Brazil



Publication Date: November 1, 2017


Sand Hill Review Press


Formats: Paperback & eBook




Genre: Fiction/Historical/Mystery






Gilded Age New Orleans is overrun with prostitutes, pornographers, and a malicious Jack the Ripper copycat. As threatening letters to newspaper editors proclaim, no woman is safe from his blade.

Desperate to know who murdered her favorite student, ambitious typewriting teacher Fanny Newcomb launches into a hunt for the self-proclaimed Irish Channel Ripper.

Fanny quickly enlists her well-connected employers—Principal Sylvia Giddings and her sister Dr. Olive—to help, and the women forge through saloons, cemeteries, slums, and houses of prostitution in their pursuit.

Fanny’s good intentions quickly infuriate her longtime beau Lawrence Decatur, while her reckless persistence confounds the talented police detective Daniel Crenshaw. Reluctantly, Lawrence and Daniel also lend their investigative talents to Fanny’s investigation.

As the murderer sets a date for his next heinous crime, can Fanny Newcomb and her crew stop the Irish Channel Ripper before he kills again?


Amazon | Barnes and Noble



About the Author




A native of California, Ana Brazil lived in the south for many years. She earned her MA in American history from Florida State University and traveled her way through Mississippi as an architectural historian. Ana loves fried mullet, Greek Revival colonnades, and Miss Welty’s garden. She has a weakness for almost all things New Orleans. (Although she’s not sure just how it happened…but she favors bluegrass over jazz.)

The Fanny Newcomb stories celebrate the tenacity, intelligence, and wisdom of the dozens of courageous and outrageous southern women that Ana is proud to call friends.

Although Ana, her husband, and their dog Traveller live in the beautiful Oakland foothills, she is forever drawn to the lush mystique of New Orleans, where Fanny Newcomb and her friends are ever prepared to seek a certain justice.

For more information, please visit Ana Brazil's website and blog. You can also find her on Facebook, Pinterest and Goodreads.


Blog Tour Schedule


Monday, February 5
Interview at Passages to the Past

Tuesday, February 6
Excerpt at What Is That Book About

Thursday, February 8
Feature at So Many Books, So Little Time

Friday, February 9
Interview at Dianne Ascroft's Book Blog
Excerpt at To Read, Or Not to Read

Monday, February 12
Review at Fervently Curious

Friday, February 16
Review at Back Porchervations

Saturday, February 17
Review at Cup of Sensibility

Monday, February 19
Review at Peppermint Ph.D.
Interview at Fervently Curious

Wednesday, February 21
Feature at The Reading Queen

Monday, February 26
Review at A Chick Who Reads

Wednesday, February 28
Review at Beth's Book Nook Blog

Friday, March 2
Feature at A Bookaholic Swede

Monday, March 5
Review at Adventures Thru Wonderland

Wednesday, March 7
Review at Donna's Book Blog

Friday, March 9
Feature at What Cathy Read Next

Monday, March 12
Review at Buried Under Books

Thursday, March 15
Review & Excerpt at Clarissa Reads it All

Friday, March 16
Review at Svetlana's Reads and Views

Monday, March 19
Review at Cheryl's Book Nook


Giveaway


During the Blog Tour we will be giving away a paperback copy of Fanny Newcomb and the Irish Channel Ripper! To enter, please enter via the Gleam form below.

Giveaway Rules

– Giveaway ends at 11:59pm EST on December 15th. 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.

Fanny Newcomb #2


Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Review and Giveaway: "Isabella Unashamed" by Helen R. Davis and Carolina Casas





Synopsis: Isabella of Castile is known as Europe’s first great queen. Renowned for her marriage to Ferdinand of Aragon and birthing of modern day Spain, Isabella is also known as the queen who launched the Inquisition, completed the Reconquista and expelled the Jews from her nation. Not long after her triumph in 1492, her dynasty came apart and unraveled, and it was whispered by many that the Trastamara line was cursed.


But, What if Isabella had been wiser and not expelled the Jews, some of the very people who ironically helped put her on the throne of Castile? What if Isabella had had more foresight and had her successor be Catalina, who, although the youngest, was the most like her and the wisest of her children? How would the power balance of 15th and 16th century Europe shifted if Catalina had been the powerful queen regnant of Spain and not one of the ‘merry wives’ of Windsor?

A joint effort, Isabella Unashamed is written by two authors from very different cultural backgrounds who have nonetheless joined together to create a haunting portrait of Spain’s most famous queen, as well as a glimpse of what might have been had Isabella been wiser.

My Thoughts:  I love the idea of alternative history so I was very intrigued by this book.  I enjoy thinking about how the world would be changed if certain events transpired in a different manner and Isabella Unashamed provided a fascinating view of a changed world.

I have always felt bad for Catherine of Aragon (Catalina) so I loved that the authors made her the focus of this story.  It was really interesting to see how the authors' changed Catalina's story as well as the future of the Spanish kingdom.  With a few different choices, Ferdinand and Isabella rewrote their daughter's story and gave her a happy and rewarding adult life.  It was wonderful!

I also liked seeing Isabella come to the decision not to pursue the Inquisition in Spain.  I think the authors did a good job of making it a truly difficult decision for her; given the time period and her religious nature, it would have been hard for her to choose to be tolerant to other religions.

While I was fascinated by all the twists and turns of the story, I did think it was a little dry at times.  There weren't a lot of descriptions of the characters or the world around them so it was hard to really see the story.  That being said, I still enjoyed the story and loved their take on how history could have been different if Isabella had made other choices.  3 stars.

About the Authors:


Helen R. Davis is an American author. Her first novel, Evita: My Argentina was previously published as Evita: My Life and republished with Custom Book Publications in Hong Kong. Her second novel, CLEOPATRA UNCONQUERED, which is the first in a series, imagines a world in which Antony and Cleopatra, rather than Augustus Caesar, are the victors of the Battle of Actium. the sequel, CLEOPATRA VICTORIOUS, will be released soon, followed by the titles CLEOPATRA MAGNIFICA and CLEOPATRA TRIUMPHANT. Her third novel, or at least, her third historical novel/alternate history, THE MOST HAPPY, will be published with Callipe Editorial, based out of Madrid Spain, on July 25th, 2017.

For more information, please visit Helen Davis’ website. You can also connect with her on Facebook and Twitter.



Carolina Casas has a BA in History and a minor in women’s studies.
Her debut novel “Isabella Unashamed” was co-written with the author of “Cleopatra Unconquered” & “The Most Happy”, Helen R. Davis and it is a powerful alternative historical novel that asks the important question that has been on everyone’s mind: what-if? What if Isabella had taken a different route than the one she did following the surrender of Granada at the beginning of 1492.
A young woman who enjoys life and giving to others, she is also a self-proclaimed nerd who currently resides in the lone star state of Texas where she spends her free time writing, drawing, reading about her favorite historical subjects and watching classical horror and rom-coms with her friends.

Carolina’s journey into the realm of alternate history began when she was very little. After a frightful and sleepless night, she was introduced to the legend of King Arthur and his knights through Sir Thomas Mallory’s epic “Le Morte d’Arthur” which started her fascination with the medieval period and later with other eras. This, along with her curiosity, has led her to delve into the realm of alternate history.

Carolina has several pages on Facebook where she works alongside other history buffs and novelists (Tudor Nerds with Glasses and Tudor Facts vs. Fiction), as well as a history blog where she shares her thoughts on movies and TV shows as well.

You can also find her on Twitter and Goodreads.





I received this book from HFBVT in exchange for an honest review.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Review and Giveaway: "There is Always a Tomorrow" by Anna Belfrage

Synopsis:  There is Always a Tomorrow is the ninth book in Anna Belfrage’s time slip series featuring time traveller Alexandra Lind and her seventeenth century husband, Matthew Graham.
It is 1692 and the Colony of Maryland is still adapting to the consequences of Coode’s Rebellion some years previously. Religious tolerance in the colony is now a thing of the past, but safe in their home, Alex and Matthew Graham have no reason to suspect they will become embroiled in the ongoing religious conflicts—until one of their sons betrays their friend Carlos Muñoz to the authorities.

Matthew Graham does not leave his friends to rot—not even if they’re papist priests—so soon enough most of the Graham family is involved in a rescue attempt, desperate to save Carlos from a sentence that may well kill him.

Meanwhile, in London little Rachel is going through hell. In a matter of months she loses everything, even her surname, as apparently her father is not Master Cooke but one Jacob Graham. Not that her paternity matters when her entire life implodes.

Will Alex and Matthew be able to help their unknown grandchild? More importantly, will Rachel want their help?

My Thoughts:  I did not expect to see another book with Matthew and Alex so There is Always a Tomorrow was an extremely pleasant surprise.  I loved being immersed in their world again; a world full of family and love and as always some trials and tribulations. 

I seriously want to live in Graham's Garden.  In this book, we find Matthew and Alex a little older with a growing number of new family members as well as some old favorites.  I've really enjoyed watching their children grow up and become significant characters in the story.  I think my favorite right now is Samuel and I was happy to see him come to the fore front of the story.

I also loved watching the family come together to protect Carlos.  I don't want to give any spoilers away but the Grahams know how to get things done.  The Grahams sure are a force to be reckoned with and I pity anyone who gets on their bad side!  They always seem to stand up for what they feel is right whether or not it is in line with everyone else's beliefs; I really admire that about them.

The story line involving Rachel was horribly sad but I liked that Ms. Belfrage didn't try to gloss over it or make everything turn out all puppies and rainbows with the situation.  It definitely broke my heart but it seemed more realistic given the time period.

Overall, I am so happy that I got to immerse myself in the Graham Saga again.  Ms. Belfrage left the story open-ended enough so I'll be crossing my fingers that we get to see more of the Grahams in the future.  4 stars.

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 historical- 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.

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

GIVEAWAY!

During the Blog Tour we will be giving away 2 eBooks & 2 paperback copies of There is Always a Tomorrow! To enter, please click here.

Giveaway Rules
– Giveaway ends at 11:59pm EST on December 21st. 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.


 
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