Friday, September 26, 2014

HFVBT: Leslie Carroll's Inglorious Royal Marriage - Review and {Giveaway}

My thoughts
Did I really just read a non-fiction book!? That was my reaction upon finishing the terrific Inglorious Royal Marriages. In this book, we learn about the inner workings of royal marriages that were far from ideal situations. As these were most commonly arranged marriages, there was not much chance of a love match and so many of these marriages were in fact...inglorious.

Some of the marriages included in this well-researched and entertaining book are:
  • Henry VI and Margaret of Anjou
  • The three ill-fated marriages of Margaret Tudor (Henry VIII's sister) to James IV of Scotland, Archibald Douglas, 6th Earl of Angus, and Henry Stewart, 1st Lord Methven
  • The marriages of Isabella Romola de Medici and Eleonora di Garzia di Toledo
  • Philippe of France, Duc d'Orleans' marriages to Henriette-Anne of England and Elisabeth Charlotte von der Pfalz, Princess Palatine
  • Princess Marie of Edinburgh and Ferdinand I of Roumania
  • and more!
I especially liked reading about the marriages that I knew little about. While I'm more familiar with the marriage of Mary Tudor and Philip II of Spain, I really had no idea about the marriages of the two Medici sisters or Maria Carolina of Austria. I learned a lot from this book and was highly entertained in the process. When reading these accounts of arranged marriages, we are reminded of what a privilege it truly is to marry who we want and for other reasons than advantageous political connections and marriage for the sake of producing heirs. The royals may have been privileged, but that privilege often came with a price. 

This is my first foray into the author's series of non-fiction royal dramas and it won't be my last. I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in history and royalty.

Publication Date: September 2, 2014
NAL Trade
Formats: eBook, Paperback; 400p
Genre: History/Non-Fiction/Royalty

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Why does it seem that the marriages of so many monarchs are often made in hell? And yet we can’t stop reading about them! To satisfy your schadenfreude, INGLORIOUS ROYAL MARRIAGES offers a panoply of the most spectacular mismatches in five hundred years of royal history….some of which are mentioned below.

When her monkish husband, England’s Lancastrian Henry VI, became completely catatonic, the unpopular French-born Margaret of Anjou led his army against the troops of their enemy, the Duke of York.

Margaret Tudor, her niece Mary I, and Catherine of Braganza were desperately in love with chronically unfaithful husbands—but at least they weren’t murdered by them, as were two of the Medici princesses.

King Charles II’s beautiful, high-spirited sister “Minette” wed Louis XIV’s younger brother, who wore more makeup and perfume than she did.

Compelled by her mother to wed her boring, jug-eared cousin Ferdinand, Marie of Roumania—a granddaughter of Queen Victoria—emerged as a heroine of World War I by using her prodigious personal charm to regain massive amounts of land during the peace talks at Versailles. Marie’s younger sister Victoria Melita wed two of her first-cousins: both marriages ultimately scandalized the courts of Europe.

Brimming with outrageous real-life stories of royal marriages gone wrong, this is an entertaining, unforgettable book of dubious matches doomed from the start.

Praise for Leslie Carroll’s Royal Books
“An irresistible combination of People magazine and the History Channel.”—Chicago Tribune (5 Stars)

“Thoroughly enjoyable.”—Booklist

“For those who tackled Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall, and can’t get enough of the scandal surrounding Henry VIII’s wives, [Notorious Royal Marriages is] the perfect companion book.”—

Buy the Book
Amazon US
Barnes & Noble

About the Author
Leslie Carroll is the author of several works of historical nonfiction, women’s fiction, and, under the pen names Juliet Grey and Amanda Elyot, is a multipublished author of historical fiction. Her nonfiction titles include Royal Romances, Royal Pains, Royal Affairs, and Notorious Royal Marriages. She is also a classically trained professional actress with numerous portrayals of virgins, vixens, and villainesses to her credit, and is an award-winning audio book narrator.

A frequent commentator on royal romances and relationships, Leslie has been interviewed by numerous publications, including, USA Today, the Australian Broadcasting Company, and NPR, and she was a featured royalty historian on CBS nightly news in London during the royal wedding coverage of Prince William and Catherine Middleton. She also appears as an expert on the love lives of Queen Victoria, Marie Antoinette, Catherine the Great, and Napoleon on the television series “The Secret Life of [fill in the name of famous figure]” for Canada’s History Channel. Leslie and her husband, Scott, divide their time between New York City and Washington, D.C.

For more information please visit Leslie’s website. You can also connect with her on FacebookTwitter, and Goodreads.

Visit other blogs on the tour--Tour Schedule
Twitter Hashtag: #IngloriousRoyalMarriagesBlogTour #History #Royalty #Monarchy #RoyalMarriages
Twitter Tags: @hfvbt @lcarrollauthor @penguinusa

Follow the instructions on the Rafflecopter form below to enter for a chance to win a paperback copy of Inglorious Royal Marriages! (Open to U.S. Only)
a Rafflecopter giveaway

A copy of this book was sent to me in exchange for an honest review. I was not monetarily compensated for providing it.


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Thursday, September 25, 2014

Cat Thursday - Banned Books Week Edition

Welcome to the weekly meme that celebrates the wonders and sometime hilarity of cats! Join us by posting a favorite LOL cat pic you may have come across, famous cat art or even share with us pics of your own beloved cat(s). It's all for the love of cats! Enjoy! (share your post in the Mr. Linky below)

I'm doing my series of posts this week about Banned Books Week (using Slideshare) so I thought I would incorporate today's slideshow with Cat Thursday. Hope you like it!

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Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Nhys Glover's The Gladiator's Bride - Spotlight and Book Excerpt

Title: The Gladiator’s Bride
Author: Nhys Glover
Release Date: November 1st
Genre: Historical Romance

Crippled by shyness, shunned for being not-right-in-the-head, gifted artist and Roman noblewoman, Marcia Mica, has only two people in the world who truly love her – her teacher, Daedalus, and her childhood friend, Asterion, both slaves in her father’s household. But when forbidden love blooms between the unlikely friends, only disaster can come of it. That disaster leaves Marcia horribly scarred and Asterion sold into the arena as a gladiator. 

Years later, Daedalus brings a broken Marcia to Britannia, and Sabrina, the healer who saved his life when he was a boy, works miracles on the scarred girl. However, not all scars are physical and those Sabrina has no ability to heal. 

When Sabrina and Marcia are kidnapped by a Celtic leader bent on revenge, Asterion must depend on the dreams of a Celtic Seer to find the love of his life and help foil a revolt that threatens the fragile peace in Roman Britannia. But even if he and his friends succeed, can scars that are more than just physical ever really be healed and can those whose lives are owned by others ever truly be free to follow their hearts?

Author bio:

After a lifetime of teaching others to appreciate the written word, Aussie author Nhys Glover finally decided to make the most of the Indie Book Revolution to get her own written word out to the world. Now, with almost 100,000 of her ebooks downloaded internationally and a winner of 2013 SFR Galaxy Award for 'The Titan Drowns', Nhys finds her words, too, are being appreciated.

At home in the beautiful Yorkshire Dales of England, Nhys these days spends most of her time "living the dream" by looking out over the moors as she writes the kind of novels she loves to read: The ones that are a little bit steamy, a little bit different and wholly romantic.

Author and Buy Links: 
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As he took the shortcut through the forest, heading for home, a shadow flitted through the trees and appeared at his side. He was so shocked by her sudden appearance that he dropped the sack of flour.

‘Marcie, what are you doing here?’ he demanded as he tried to get his heartbeat under control again. ‘You shouldn’t be out here alone.’

‘You were with her again, weren’t you?’ Her delicately beautiful face was twisted in fury, honey-brown eyes flashing fire at him.

‘What? Who? What are you talking about? Don’t come up on me like that. I might have hurt you.’

‘That widow. The one the boys all talk about. I heard them. They think I don’t understand, but I do. You go to her house and do things to her!’ Her accusations stung and he felt guilt morph instantly into fury.

‘Mind your own business. It’s nothing to do with you!’ He slung the flour-sack onto his back again and stomped off down the narrow trail.

‘Don’t you talk to me like that, Asterion! You’re my slave and I have the right to know what you’re doing with your time. You aren’t free to go where you like, see who you like!’ she snarled at him.

He stopped and looked down at her in shock. In the last year he’d grown taller by almost a head than she was. Now, the year’s difference in their age seemed insignificant. In fact, after spending time with the widow, he felt much older and more worldly-wise than she was. Marcie was still a child, even though her sixteen-year-old body said otherwise. This little display of temper only went to prove it.

‘Oh sorry, mistress, I forgot my place for a moment. Of course you have the right to know that I’ve been sharing the widow’s bed. Do you want the details? How I make her scream and pant? How she sucked my cock until I came in her mouth?’ He knew he was stepping over the line, but so had she.

Their relative stations in life had always been ignored by mutual, unspoken agreement. They’d always been equals. But now, by throwing his servitude in his face, she’d crossed the line. She’d showed him how she really saw him. How beneath her he really was.

Marcie’s mouth dropped open and he was immediately aware of the seductive draw of it. Those red lips were so full and sweet, covering perfect white teeth that looked just like rows of pearls. By brushing back a stray tendril of glossy brown hair, she drew his eye to the seductive softness of it, made him itch to bury his fingers in its lengths.

But honey-brown eyes that were usually filled with warmth when they gazed at him were now wide with astonishment and pain. And he suddenly realised what he’d done.

In that moment, he wanted to call back the words and go back in time to do this all again.

‘She sucked what?’ she gasped, her cheeks flaming red.

‘Nothing. Forget it. I shouldn’t have said anything. You just made me mad. Let’s get home. Daedalus will be wondering what happened to you.’

‘He’s gone to the coast to check on our cargo. Pater went with him,’ she said absently, clearly not focused on the information she was imparting.

‘Then it’s me who has to get back. I’ll be in trouble if I’m much later.’

‘You wouldn’t be, if you hadn’t gone to her. How could you? How...How could you?’ Her eyes filled with tears and his heart felt sick in his chest. In that moment, he wanted to cut off his cock for making him cause her this pain.

‘Marcie, don’t. You don’t understand. I’m a man now. I...I have needs I can’t control. The widow helps me. Haven’t you noticed the difference in me the last few months?’ He was almost pleading with her for forgiveness. And that was stupid. What had he done wrong except take an hour a week for himself? He deserved that, didn’t he?

‘Yes, I’ve noticed. You look so smug and cocky, swaggering around the place. The boys say you’ve got too big for your own sandals now. They say that the widow has played with more than your prick. She’s played with your head. Made you think you’re better than them.’
‘I am better than them. And it didn’t take the widow to make me know it. What do you want from me Marcie? Tell me – ’

She launched herself at him so fast that he again dropped the sack of flour. Her tightly closed lips butted against his in a fiercely innocent kiss. It smashed her teeth into his, cutting his lip, and it felt nothing like the soft, seductive caresses the widow gave him.

But it was like putting a naked flame to tinder. Like a lightning strike to a tree. The very fact that her lips were sealed to his blew every thought from his head and brought his cock to instant, painful attention. Blood pounded in his ears, his legs grew weak. Air evaporated from his lungs.

Fighting for control, he pushed her away. ‘What are you doing? Stop!’

‘You don’t have to go to her. If kissing is what you want, I can give you that. You don’t have to go to her!’

‘Yes I do!’

‘Why? Aren’t I good enough for you?’

He grabbed her by the shoulders and shook her in fury. His head felt ready to explode.

‘I need more than kisses! Don’t you get it? We aren’t children anymore. And I need more than friendship and kisses. And you can’t give me what I need. You’re the little mistress and I’m the slave. They’d cut off my balls if I so much as looked at you the wrong way!’

Her eyes filled with tears again and she sobbed so hard it felt like her searing pain came from his own chest. Looking at her hurt too much, so he dragged her into his arms and pressed her to his aching heart.


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Banned Books Week 2014 - Some of my Favorites in Banned Books

Have you entered my Banned Books Week Giveaway!?


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Monday, September 22, 2014

A Reading Life (35) and #Bloggiesta Ending Stats

Bloggiesta stats at end of post

Currently reading:
March, Geraldine Brooks (still)
People of the Book, Geraldine Brooks (yeah, a finish is not looking promising)
The Ancestor's Tale, Richard Dawkins (This one will have to be for another time..too deep for me at the moment)
The House of Seven Gables, Nathaniel Hawthorne
All the Pretty Horses, Cormac McCarthy (another Classics Club spin that I will not get to *frown*)

The Essential Edgar Allan Poe (Stories, Poems, Biography)

Family Reading Project (20 minutes daily, alternating titles):
The Crystal CaveMary Stewart (on page 196)
Salem's Lot, Stephen King (we have chosen this for our scary read for Fall. I started reading SK when I was about 12 or 13 and they've already listened to The Stand with me on audio so they're ready)
Jurassic Park, Michael Crichton (on page 131) (The boys have decided that we should not continue with this one. It's way technical and so kind of over their heads for their age...and they're getting bored)

One movie/One TV show I like right now:
I can't believe I haven't been to a movie since my last Reading Life post which was on September 1st! I usually go to a movie every weekend, but with Gabe's  football games on Saturdays, it hasn't been possible. So, the last movie I watched (with the boys) was The Amazing Spiderman 2 and I was NOT happy with the ending. I'll leave it at that.
New show on SyFy...Z-Nation. Zombies...I love zombies. This one is more campy than The Walking Dead, but it's still pretty good. And I SO enjoyed the back to back Miss Marple episodes on Masterpiece Mystery (PBS) last night. One can never go wrong with Agatha Christie.

Busy, busy, busy! Work has...should I say exploded or imploded...yeah, one of those. lol I have another new client so I'm working more (which means more money...and I got my raise...the positives) and this week I'm the back up for one VA who is on vacation and I'm also the back up for another who is on maternity leave for two weeks. So trying to fit in blogging and reading has been even more of a challenge. And I'm getting ready to start a writing class this week. Eek!

The reason I missed going to the movies this past weekend...I was shopping for supplies for the Christmas planner I'm making. I first went to Walmart and they didn't have everything I needed so I had to go to Michael's (no Hobby Lobby for me). I got a huge book of Christmas scrapbook paper for half off and I also got a cute jar that was on clearance for my TBR jar project. Hoping I will be able to work on both the planner and TBR jar this week. I'd like to have the planner ready to share on Rudolph Day at The Christmas Spirit (my Christmas blog) on Thursday. Good luck, right!?

The read-a-long for The House of Seven Gables by Nathaniel Hawthorne is still going on (of course, I'm behind on the reading), in conjunction with Gothic September at Castle Macabre. I was hoping to do more with Gothic Septemeber (some themed posts, etc.), but haven't had time to put anything together. Maybe I can for the last week. We'll see...

I'm thinking about hosting a read-a-long of The Vampire Armand by Anne Rice in October at Castle Macabre, in conjunction with The Never-Ending Anne Rice Challenge. Still haven't decided...guess I better get my butt in gear!

TuesBookTalk - We are currently reading two non-fiction books, Unbroken by Laura Hilenbrand and The Ancestor's Tale by Richard Dawkins. Unfortunately, Heather and I have decided that we just cannot finish Ancestor's Tale right now. I might try it again later, but it's just too much for me at the moment. Our scary read for October is 77 Shadow Street by Dean Koontz.

Lit Collective - we are reading and discussing the works of Geraldine Brooks in August ...I extended this through September. Everyone is behind on the reading. (And I'm STILL behind!)
Caleb's Crossing
People of the Book

Theme nominations will soon be open for our theme read in March.

Reading Challenges:

 photo Travel-the-World-in-Books-Reading-Challenge_zps805c7134.jpg 

I'm still trying to get my sign up ready for Rebecca and Tanya's Travel the World in Books challenge. I'll get to it, ladies...I promise!

My upcoming events (challenges, read-a-thons, other reading events):

Banned Books Week commentary on this blog going on right now. Posts went up today and yesterday and if you check out yesterday's (Sunday) post, I'm offering a giveaway. 
Gothic September at Castle Macabre - going on now

FrightFall Read-a-Thon at Seasons of Reading - Sign Up Here

Season of the Witch at Castle Macabre (Oct) - Want to share with us something scary you, movie, or TV show? Post will go up over there this week. You can email me at truebookaddict (AT) gmail (DOT) com if you're interested in contributing.

Recent Book Acquisitions (including library check-outs):

For review:
Die I Will Not, S.K. Rizzolo
Prisoner of the Queen, E. Knight
Consolamentum, Rebecca Hazell
The Oblate's Confession, William Peek

Library Sale:
The Weekend, Bernhard Schlink
Moby Dick, Herman Melville
Leviathan, Scott Westerfeld
Lydia Bennet's Story, Jane Odiwe
The Long Song, Andrea Levy
Memoir from Antproof Case, Mark Helprin
Against All Things Endings: The Last Chronicles of Thomas Covenant, Stephen R. Donaldson
Allison Hewett is Trapped, Madeleine Roux
The Woman in the Fifth, Douglas Kennedy
The Old Curiosity Shop, Charles Dickens

Beautiful Disaster, Jamie McGuire
Dexter in the Dark, Jeff Lindsay
Shadow of Night, Deborah Harkness

Bloggiesta ending stats
My original list with tasks struck through:
1. Add a Family Reading Project tab to pages tab and create a page to keep track of our progress.
2. Write a review for The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd
3. Work on my Slideshare projects for my Banned Books Week posts Created one
4. Come up with my list for the Travel the World in Books reading challenge (long overdue)
5. (Possibly) start working on my TBR Jar Project  purchased jar and paper - lol
6. I forgot to add...clean out email, respond to any review requests YES!
7. Cleaned up sidebar - non-appearing images and non-working links, updated other linked badges
8. ???
9. ???

Okay, so I didn't do too hot. Some is better than none, right? My main thing was the email. I have to STOP letting it get like that!

What's going on in your Reading Life?


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Banned Books Week 2014 - Intellectual Freedom


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Sunday, September 21, 2014

Banned Books Week 2014 - Affirm the Freedom to Read September 21 - 27

This is one of the most important weeks of the year, in my opinion. Every year I participate in my small way by posting about banned books here on the blog. It's all about spreading awareness and celebrating our freedom to read.

To kick things off, I share the press release from the American Library Association's (ALA) Media Relations Specialist, Heather Cho:

CHICAGO — It may surprise some to find out there are hundreds of reported attempts to ban books every year in the United States. It may be even more astounding for them to hear that since 1990, the American Library Association’s (ALA) Office for Intellectual Freedom (OIF) has received reports of more than 18,000 attempts to remove materials in schools and libraries for content deemed by some as inappropriate, controversial or even dangerous.

Banned Books Week, Sept. 21 – 27, 2014, reminds Americans about the importance of preventing censorship and ensuring everyone’s freedom to read any book they choose. According to ALA’s OIF, for every banned book reported, there are many more that are not.

This year’s Banned Books Week is spotlighting graphic novels because, despite their literary merit and popularity as a format, they are often subject to censorship. Graphic novels continually show up on the ALA’s Office for Intellectual Freedom’s Top 10 List of Most Frequently Challenged Books. The most current list for 2013 includes two graphic novels: Dav Pilkey’s “Captain Underpants” series at the top spot and Jeff Smith’s series “Bone” at #10.

“Our most basic freedom in a democratic society is our first amendment right of the freedom to read,” said ALA President Courtney Young. “Banned Books Week is an opportunity for all of us – community residents, librarians, authors and educators – to stand together protecting this fundamental right for everyone and for future generations. We can never take this precious right for granted.”

Banned Books Week has been celebrating the freedom to read for 32 years. Libraries, schools and bookstores across the country will commemorate Banned Books Week by hosting special events and exhibits on the power of words and the harms of censorship. On Sept. 24, SAGE and ALA’s OIF will present a free webinar discussing efforts to un-ban books by visiting activists and speakers in London, Charleston, S.C., Houston and California. For the fourth year the public is invited to read from their favorite banned books by participating in the popular Banned Books Week Virtual Read-Out on YouTube.

Past participants have included highly acclaimed and/or frequently challenged authors such as Judy Blume, Chris Crutcher, Whoopi Goldberg, Lauren Myracle and many more. This year’s new videos will feature Ana Castillo, Stan Lee and Lois Lowry, among others.

In addition to book challenges, online resources, including legitimate educational websites and academically useful social networking tools, are being overly blocked and filtered in school libraries. To help raise awareness, the American Association of School Libraries (AASL), a division of the ALA, has designated one day during Banned Books Week as Banned Websites Awareness Day, Wednesday, Sept. 24. During Banned Websites Awareness Day, the AASL is asking school librarians and other educators to promote an awareness of how excessive filtering affects student achievement.

Many bookstores, schools and libraries celebrating Banned Books Week will showcase selections from the ALA OIF’s Top Ten Most Frequently Challenged Books of 2013. The list is released each spring and provides a snapshot of book removal attempts in the U.S. The Top Ten Most Frequently Challenged Books of 2013 reflects a range of themes and consists of the following titles:
  1. “Captain Underpants” (series), by Dav Pilkey.Reasons: Offensive language, unsuited for age group, violence
  2. “The Bluest Eye,” by Toni MorrisonReasons: Offensive language, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group, violence
  3. “The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian,” by Sherman Alexie.|Reasons: Drugs/alcohol/smoking, offensive language, racism, sexually explicit, unsuited for age group
  4. “Fifty Shades of Grey,” by E. L. James.Reasons: Nudity, offensive language, religious viewpoint, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group
  5. “The Hunger Games,” by Suzanne CollinsReasons: Religious viewpoint, unsuited to age group
  6. “A Bad Boy Can Be Good for A Girl,” by Tanya Lee StoneReasons: Drugs/alcohol/smoking, nudity, offensive language, sexually explicit
  7. “Looking for Alaska,” by John Green.Reasons: Drugs/alcohol/smoking, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group
  8. “The Perks of Being a Wallflower,” by Stephen ChboskyReasons: Drugs/alcohol/smoking, homosexuality, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group
  9. “Bless Me Ultima,” by Rudolfo AnayaReasons: Occult/Satanism, offensive language, religious viewpoint, sexually explicit
  10. “Bone” (series), by Jeff Smith
    Reasons: Political viewpoint, racism, violence
Banned Books Week is sponsored by the American Booksellers Association, American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression, American Library Association, American Society of Journalists and Authors, Association of American Publishers; Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, Freedom to Read Foundation, National Association of College Stores, National Coalition Against Censorship, National Council of Teachers of English, PEN American Center, People For the American Way and Project Censored. It is endorsed by the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress.

For more information on Banned Books Week, book challenges and censorship, please visit the ALA Office for Intellectual Freedom’s Banned Books website or

I look forward to you stopping by this week to check out some daily slideshows I've created about Banned Books Week. In the meantime, to celebrate kick off day, share with me what Banned Books Week means to you? Those who comment will be entered to win a $10 Amazon eGift card to spend towards purchase of a banned book of your own. You can read lists of banned books by year HERE. Also, share with us which banned book you will purchase if you win. I will draw a winner on Sunday, September 28. 


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Thursday, September 18, 2014

#Bloggiesta - Semi-formed plans

It's time for another Bloggiesta! Yay! Of course, not sure why I'm so excited, as I'm so busy with work right now, I'm not sure how much I'll get done. I do have a couple of for sure tasks and then I'll just leave some open spaces to add on to if/when I think I might be able to squeeze more in.

1. Add a Family Reading Project tab to pages tab and create a page to keep track of our progress.
2. Write a review for The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd
3. Work on my Slideshare projects for my Banned Books Week posts
4. Come up with my list for the Travel the World in Books reading challenge (long overdue)
5. (Possibly) start working on my TBR Jar Project
6. I forgot to add...clean out email, respond to any review requests
7. Cleaned up sidebar - non-appearing images and non-working links, updated other linked badges
8. ???
9. ???

I will also try to attend a Twitter chat, or two...but that depends on work too.

Happy Bloggiesta!


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Cat Thursday - Alice and Arya Adventures

Welcome to the weekly meme that celebrates the wonders and sometime hilarity of cats! Join us by posting a favorite LOL cat pic you may have come across, famous cat art or even share with us pics of your own beloved cat(s). It's all for the love of cats! Enjoy! (share your post in the Mr. Linky below)

So, I got a new purse on Saturday and left the box on the kitchen table. This is what greeted me on Sunday morning...

Yup, Alice has claimed her new bed.

And here's Arya relaxing in her favorite spot...on my chest. lol

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Wednesday, September 17, 2014

HFVBT: Colin Falconer's East India -- Review and {Giveaway}

My thoughts
To me, few things are better than a great stand alone historical novel. I knew that the author had a talent for the historical fiction craft way back when I read, When We Were Gods: A Novel of Cleopatra, (in my pre-blogging days). And he does not disappoint with East India.

What the author does best in this novel is to really bring out the true grit of what travel by sea must have been like in the 17th century. I certainly can't imagine being on board a ship, in cramped and less than hygienic conditions, for seven to eight months at a time. And yet, this book had me feeling uncomfortable because it did make me imagine what it was like and I was thankful that when I was able to tear myself away from reading it, I was safely in my comfy home. And not only was there far from ideal comfort on board the ship, but there were constant undertones of danger and gossip. Mutiny seemed to always be a possibility among the ship's crew.

The main character, Cornelia, is a high ranking lady and beautiful as well. So, of course, she is admired by some and vilified by others, thinking she's haughty and high minded. What struck me about her was that she was just really unhappy. A loveless marriage and the thought of travelling to be with the man she did not love, coupled with the arduous sea journey could not have been a happy time for anyone. What befalls her only makes matters worse.

What we learn in East India is that a good portion of the seven deadly sins are very present aboard ship and this leads to a very tragic outcome. Not only is East India historically accurate (am I the only one who has never heard of a bosun or a provost?), but it also does an excellent job of showing us human nature through the vivid characterization and action. As I was reading, I could picture each character - what they looked like and what they were about. It was like watching a movie in my head.

The author has quite a back list of novels, some of which are sitting on my 'to be read/to be reviewed' stack, and after reading East India, I know I'm in for a treat in my future reading.

About the book
Publication Date: July 8, 2014
Cool Gus Publishing
Formats: eBook, Paperback
Genre: Historical Fiction

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In any other circumstance but shipwreck, rape and murder, a man like Michiel van Texel would never have met a fine lady such as Cornelia Noorstrandt.

He was just a soldier, a sergeant in the Dutch East India company’s army, on his way from Amsterdam to the Indies to fight the Mataram. Such a woman was far above the likes of him.

But both their destinies intertwine far away from Holland, on some god-forsaken islands near the Great Southland. When their great ship, the Utrecht, founders far from home, surviving the Houtman Rocks is the least of their worries.

As they battle to survive and the bravest and the best reveal themselves for what they are, Cornelia’s only hope is a mercenary in a torn coat who shows her that a man is more than just manners and money.

He makes her one promise: ‘Even if God forsakes you, I will find you.’

But can he keep it?

Described by one critic as ‘Jack and Rose in the seventeenth century’, East India will keep you wondering until the final page.

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About the Author
Born in London, Colin first trialed as a professional football player in England, and was eventually brought to Australia. He went to Sydney and worked in TV and radio and freelanced for many of Australia’s leading newspapers and magazines. He has published over twenty novels and his work has so far been translated into 23 languages.

He travels regularly to research his novels and his quest for authenticity has led him to run with the bulls in Pamplona, pursue tornadoes across Oklahoma and black witches across Mexico, go cage shark diving in South Africa and get tear gassed in a riot in La Paz.

He currently lives in Barcelona.

For more information please visit Colin Falconer’s website. You can also find him on Facebook or follow on Twitter.

Visit other blogs on the tour--Tour Schedule
Twitter Hashtag: 
#EastIndiaBlogTour #HistFic #HistNov
Twitter Tags: @hfvbt @colin_falconer @CoolGusPub

Four copies of East India are up for grabs! Two (2) print (U.S. only) and two (2) eBook (International). Follow the instructions on the Rafflecopter form below to enter. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

A copy of this book was sent to me in exchange for an honest review. I was not monetarily compensated for providing it.


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Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Victoria Strauss' Color Song - Book Blast and {Giveaway}

02_Color Song 
Publication Date: September 16, 2014 | Skyscape (Amazon Children’s Publishing) | Formats: eBook, Paperback, Hardcover
Genre: YA Historical

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By the author of the acclaimed Passion Blue, a Kirkus Reviews Best Teen Book of 2012 and “a rare, rewarding, sumptuous exploration of artistic passion,” comes a fascinating companion novel. Artistically brilliant, Giulia is blessed – or cursed – with a spirit’s gift: she can hear the mysterious singing of the colors she creates in the convent workshop of Maestra Humilità. It’s here that Giulia, forced into the convent against her will, has found unexpected happiness, and rekindled her passion to become a painter – an impossible dream for any woman in 15th century Italy. But when a dying Humilità bequeaths Giulia her most prized possession – the secret formula for the luminously beautiful paint called Passion blue – Giulia realizes she’s in danger from those who have long coveted the famous color for themselves. Faced with the prospect of lifelong imprisonment in the convent, forever barred from painting as a punishment for keeping Humilita’s secret, Giulia is struck by a desperate idea: What if she disguises herself as a boy? Could she make her way to Venice and find work as an artist’s apprentice? Along with the truth of who she is, Giulia carries more dangerous secrets: the exquisite voices of her paint colors and the formula for Humilità’s precious blue. And Venice, with its graceful gondolas and twisting canals, its gilded palazzi and masked balls, has secrets of its own. Trapped in her false identity in this dream-like place where reality and reflection are easily confused, where art and ambition, love and deception hover like dense fog, can Giulia find her way? This compelling novel explores timeless themes of love and illusion, gender and identity as it asks the question: what does it mean to risk everything to follow your true passion?

Praise for the Novels of Victoria Strauss

"Fantasy elements and a historical setting rich with sensuous detail are satisfying, but it’s Giulia’s achingly real search for her heart’s desire that resonates most today, when millions of girls still have limited choices. A rare, rewarding, sumptuous exploration of artistic passion." - Kirkus Reviews on PASSION BLUE (Starred Review, a Best Teen Book of 2012)

"Compelling…absorbing…An intriguing historical novel inspired by accounts of women artists in the Italian Renaissance." - Booklist on PASSION BLUE

"Mysterious dreams, suspense-filled legends, the terror that unfolds as the dig ensues, and the fine characterizations weave together beautifully to make this adventure fantasy a winner." - Booklist on GUARDIAN OF THE HILLS (Starred Review) 

"A rich story about human nature, this fantasy is a thought-provoking page-turner. The characters are deeply etched, and the plot turns are credible yet arresting…A thoroughly enjoyable read." - Kliatt on THE ARM OF THE STONE 

"The plot is complex yet convincing, and the abundant, well-chosen details of the settings–as well as the carefully developed characters–make this high fantasy a superior and original novel." - Publishers Weekly on THE GARDEN OF THE STONE (Starred Review)

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03_Victoria StraussAbout the Author

Victoria Strauss is the author of nine novels for adults and young adults, including the STONE duology (THE ARM OF THE STONE and THE GARDEN OF THE STONE), and a historical novel for teens, PASSION BLUE. She has written hundreds of book reviews for magazines and ezines, including SF Site, and her articles on writing have appeared in Writer's Digest and elsewhere. In 2006, she served as a judge for the World Fantasy Awards. An active member of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA), she's co-founder, with Ann Crispin, of Writer Beware, a publishing industry watchdog group that tracks and warns about literary fraud. She maintains the popular Writer Beware website, Facebook page, and blog, for which she was a 2012 winner of an Independent Book Blogger Award. She was honored with the SFWA Service Award in 2009. She lives in Amherst, Massachusetts.

For more information please visit Victoria's Strauss's website. You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and Goodreads.

Color Song Blog Tour & Book Blast Schedule

Monday, September 16
Book Blast at Passages to the Past
Book Blast at The True Book Addict
Tuesday, September 17
Review at Oh the Books
Book Blast at The Maiden's Court
Wednesday, September 18
Review at Casual Readers
Review at (Passion Blue)
Thursday, September 19
Review at
Monday, September 22
Review at Ageless Pages Reviews
Feature at Oh the Books
Tuesday, September 23
Book Blast at Flashlight Commentary
Wednesday, September 24
Review at History from a Woman's Perspective
Interview at Bibliophilia, Please
Book Blast at Reading Lark
Thursday, September 25
Book Blast at A Book Geek
Friday, September 26
Review at Reading Room Book Reviews
Book Blast at Just One More Chapter
Monday, September 29
Review at Tribute Books Mama
Interview at Math, Science & Social Studies...Oh My!
Tuesday, September 30
Review at Book Babe
Book Blast at Historical Fiction Connection
Wednesday, October 1
Review & Interview at Bookish
Book Blast at Historical Tapestry
Thursday, October 2
Review at Brooke Blogs
Review at Oh, for the Hook of a Book
Friday, October 3
Review at A Bibliotaph's Reviews
Book Blast at The Lit Bitch
Saturday, October 4
Book Blast at Susan Heim on Writing
Monday, October 6
Review at WTF Are You Reading?
Book Blast at Let Them Read Books
Tuesday, October 7
Review at A Leisure Moment
Wednesday, October 8
Review at Peeking Between the Pages
Friday, October 10
Review at A Bookish Affair


To enter to win any of the following prizes please complete the form below:

2 Grand Prizes Winners: One Kindle Paperwhite with custom Color Song cover with Color Song and Passion Blue ebooks pre-loaded, plus swag (postcards, bookmarks), and signed paperback editions of Strauss's Stone duology (The Arm of the Stone and The Garden of the Stone) (US only) 2 winners: Signed hardcovers of Color Song and Passion Blue, plus swag (postcards, bookmarks) (US and Canada) 5 winners: Signed paperbacks of Color Song and Passion Blue, plus swag (postcards, bookmarks) (US and Canada)
Giveaway ends at 11:59pm on October 10th. You must be 18 or older to enter. Winner will be chosen via Rafflecopter on October 11th and notified via email. Winner have 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.
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Thursday, September 11, 2014

Cat Thursday - Authors and Cats (36)

Welcome to the weekly meme that celebrates the wonders and sometime hilarity of cats! Join us by posting a favorite LOL cat pic you may have come across, famous cat art or even share with us pics of your own beloved cat(s). It's all for the love of cats! Enjoy! (share your post in the Mr. Linky below)

The second Cat Thursday of each month is Authors and Cats Thursday. Each time I will feature an author and their cat(s).

Once again, I'm behind due to work constraints. I still owe you all a visit from last week and I promise I will be by. 

I like to honor authors with birthdays during the week when I do these posts, but had a difficult time finding an image of an author with a cat who also had a birthday in September. But I did come across something interesting and so I'm taking a bit of a different approach this month. Hope you like it!

T.S. Eliot has a birthday in September (the 26th in 1888). We all know what he's famous for, but did you know that he also wrote cat poems? Actually, I did know this because I had read some of his book, Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats. I think I may even have it on my shelf. Hmm. Anyway, I came across this site that was featuring a book of cat stories, Best Cat Stories, an anthology published in 1953. According to the post, the book has some wonderful illustrations and among it's literary offering is a poem by T.S. Eliot with a featured illustration of him with a cat. And so, I share it here! 

You’ve read of several kinds of Cat,
And my opinion now is that
You should need no interpreter
To understand their character.
You now have learned enough to see
That Cats are much like you and me
And other people whom we find
Possessed of various types of mind.
For some are sane and some are mad
And some are good and some are bad
And some are better, some are worse –
But all may be described in verse.
You’ve seen them both at work and games,
And learnt about their proper names,
Their habits and their habitat:
How would you ad-dress a Cat?
So first, your memory I’ll jog,
And say: A CAT IS NOT A DOG.
Now Dogs pretend they like to fight;
They often bark, more seldom bite;
But yet a Dog is, on the whole,
What you would call a simple soul.
Of course I’m not including Pekes,
And such fantastic canine freaks.
The usual Dog about the Town
Is much inclined to play the clown,
And far from showing too much pride
Is frequently undignified.
He’s very easily taken in –
Just chuck him underneath the chin
Or slap his back or shake his paw,
And he will gambol and guffaw.
He’s such an easy-going lout,
He’ll answer any hail or shout.
Again I must remind you that
A Dog’s a Dog — A CAT’S A CAT.
With Cats, some say, one rule is true:
Don’t speak till you are spoken to.
Myself, I do not hold with that -
I say, you should ad-dress a Cat.
But always keep in mind that he
Resents familiarity.
I bow, and taking off my hat,
Ad-dress him in this form: O CAT!
But if he is the Cat next door,
Whom I have often met before
(He comes to see me in my flat)
I greet him with an OOPSA CAT!
I’ve heard them call him James Buz-James –
But we’ve not got so far as names.
Before a Cat will condescend
To treat you as a trusted friend,
Some little token of esteem
Is needed, like a dish of cream;
And you might now and then supply
Some caviare, or Strassburg Pie,
Some potted grouse, or salmon paste –
He’s sure to have his personal taste.
(I know a Cat, who makes a habit
Of eating nothing else but rabbit,
And when he’s finished, licks his paws
So’s not to waste the onion sauce.)
A Cat’s entitled to expect
These evidences of respect.
And so in time you reach your aim,
And finally call him by his NAME.
So this is this, and that is that:
And there’s how you AD-DRESS A CAT.

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Thursday, September 4, 2014

Cat Thursday - Cat Thievery

Welcome to the weekly meme that celebrates the wonders and sometime hilarity of cats! Join us by posting a favorite LOL cat pic you may have come across, famous cat art or even share with us pics of your own beloved cat(s). It's all for the love of cats! Enjoy! (share your post in the Mr. Linky below)

I'm sure we've all learned at one time or other that cats are great thieves. Here are some epic examples (the first one is a bit photoshopped, but still funny).!

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