Banned Books Week - September 24 - 30

Saturday, December 31, 2016

2016 End of Year Book Survey and Happy New Year! #BestBooks2016


The Annual End of Year Book Survey is hosted by The Perpetual Page-Turner

Note: The survey is for books you read throughout the year, no matter when they were published, and is not limited to just books that came out in 2016!!


Number Of Books You Read: 

53 (only 7 shy of my 60 book goal!)

Number of Re-Reads:

2 - Dracula and A Christmas Carol. Both were audio books, and both are favorites so I know I will probably re-read again. 

Genre You Read The Most From:

Horror. This would have been historical fiction in prior years, and that genre did run in second this year, but horror won the day. I read some really great horror this year (which I review on my sister blog, Castle Macabre).

You can check out my year in books on Goodreads here.



1. Best Book You Read In 2016?

I'm not going to do a top ten list this year so I'm going to break this down by genre (if I reviewed the book, the title will be linked):

Best Historical Fiction - The Secrets of Lizzie Borden, Brandy Purdy 
Second place: Medicis Daughter, Sophie Perinot

Best Horror - The Night Parade, Ronald Malfi
Second place: Children of the Dark, Jonathan Janz

Best General/Literary Fiction - The Mountain Story, Lori Lansens
Second place: And the Mountains Echoed, Khaled Hosseini

Best Audio Book - The Girl on the Train, Paula Hawkins (narrators - Clare Corbett, India Fisher, Louise Brealey.
Second Place: Dracula, Bram Stoker (read by an all star cast including Tim Curry, Alan Cumming and more).

Best book published before 2000: Roots, Alex Haley
Second place: 'Salem's Lot, Stephen King

Best Poetry: Paradise Drive, Rebecca Foust
Second place: The Jane and Bertha in Me, Rita Maria Martinez

2. Book You Were Excited About & Thought You Were Going To Love More But Didn’t?

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children, Ransom Riggs

3. Most surprising (in a good way or bad way) book you read?

There's a story behind this one. I really thought the cover was so cheesy, and I remember thinking it wasn't going to be any good. Man, was I wrong. Just an amazing concept horror novel, but you see what I mean by the cover (just my opinion).

Hexagram, Duncan P. Bradshaw

4. Book You “Pushed” The Most People To Read (And They Did)?

The Night Parade, Ronald Malfi

5. Best Sequel of 2016?

The Secret Language of Stones (The Daughters of La Lune, #2), M.J. Rose

6. Favorite new author you discovered in 2016?

Michelle Garza and Melissa Lason, authors of Mayan Blue, a fantastic horror novel I read and reviewed this year. They were dubbed The Sisters of Slaughter by the editors of Fireside Press. That is a most worthy moniker for them.

7. Best book from a genre you don’t typically read/was out of your comfort zone?

This did not apply this year

8. Most action-packed/thrilling/unputdownable book of the year?

This was a tie between The Girl on the Train, Paula Hawkins and Wolf Land, Jonathan Janz

9. Book You Read In 2016 That You Are Most Likely To Re-Read Next Year?

A Christmas Carol, Charles Dickens - I read it almost every year. The last two times, I listened on audio. This year it was an Alison Larkin production and it was wonderful. Click the title to read my review.

10. Favorite cover of a book you read in 2016?

Too hard to choose just one!



11. Most memorable character of 2016?

Lizzie Borden



12. Most beautifully written book read in 2016?



13. Most Thought-Provoking/ Life-Changing Book of 2016?


14. Book you can’t believe you waited UNTIL 2016 to finally read?

See #13 above.

15. Favorite Passage/Quote From A Book You Read In 2016?

I know there were many, and I'm sure I quoted a bunch in reviews, but I never write them down. That ends in the new year. Book journal will be utilized! These two I did remember though, so I knew to go back to them.

This one is from Hexagram by Duncan P. Bradshaw...

"Look what we do as people. We've spent our entire time killing each other and everything else on this planet. We invented religion so that people can kill other people who believe in something different, or to offer some hint of better things when you've gone through your entire life serving those with power. It's bullshit. We're supposed to evolve as a species, yet it feels like all we do is go backwards. We find new and inventive ways of killing each other and ruining the planet..."

This is the line from my review introducing this sonnet from Paradise Drive by Rebecca Foust...

I leave you with this final sonnet, which speaks to my love of books and reading, to the mother who instilled that love in me, and to the validity of the escape and redemption that can come from reading a book...

Forgotten Image

Your mother, reading on the stairs in light
poured in a wide shaft. At night, shadows,
soft thuds and pleading, clink-clink of his ice
in the glass. Your mother, reading. Light seen
through a chink in a cellar wall. The attic air,
dry and danced with bright motes. You know
it's there, at the top of the house, the stairs
you must muster the mind to ascend. But how?
Where is the first step? Your old notebooks,
dust-felted, stacked up somewhere. Your mother,
reading. The sense of another life, inside
and outside the walls. An attic, other upper rooms
in the home. Other homes. You are a mother now,
too--so many open mouths, so much to do--
your mother reading, reading herself alive. Showing you.


16.Shortest & Longest Book You Read In 2016?

Shortest - Saris and a Single Malt, Sweta Srivastava Vikram, 46 pages
Longest - Roots, Alex Haley, 688 pages

17. Book That Shocked You The Most

Hands down! (My review will explain why)


18. OTP OF THE YEAR (you will go down with this ship!)

I didn't really fan girl over any one true pairing in the books I read. I'm old, I guess. 😉

19. Favorite Non-Romantic Relationship Of The Year

David Arlen and his daughter, Ellie in The Night Parade by Ronald Malfi.

20. Favorite Book You Read in 2016 From An Author You’ve Read Previously

The Secrets of Lizzie Borden by Brandy Purdy

21. Best Book You Read In 2016 That You Read Based SOLELY On A Recommendation From Somebody Else/Peer Pressure:

N/A

22. Newest fictional crush from a book you read in 2016?

N/A

23. Best 2016 debut you read?

I'm going to go with Hex by Thomas Olde Heuvelt. While not technically a debut, it did debut in the United States in 2016. It became a best seller in the Netherlands and was translated and released for the first time in the U.S. in 2016. Apparently, Warner Bros. is developing a TV series. That should be interesting!


24. Best Worldbuilding/Most Vivid Setting You Read This Year?

Hexagram by Duncan P. Bradshaw

25. Book That Put A Smile On Your Face/Was The Most FUN To Read?

The Lion in the Box by Marguerite de Angeli

26. Book That Made You Cry Or Nearly Cry in 2016?

The Mountain Story by Lori Lansens
Roots by Alex Haley
And the Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini

27. Hidden Gem Of The Year?

The Candle Giver by Barbara Briggs Ward - Honestly, Barbara writes such wonderful Christmas books.

28. Book That Crushed Your Soul?

Roots by Alex Haley

29. Most Unique Book You Read In 2016?

Tie between Hex by Thomas Olde Heuvelt and Hexagram by Duncan P. Bradshaw

30. Book That Made You The Most Mad (doesn’t necessarily mean you didn’t like it)?

The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins - I loved this book, but it made me mad as hell. I've never wanted to punch a bunch of characters as much as in this book. 😁


1. One Book You Didn’t Get To In 2015 But Will Be Your Number 1 Priority in 2017?

Um, there are a bunch, but there are actually two that I've been really thinking about...

The Vampire Armand by Anne Rice - I actually started this in 2015 and had to put it aside (no, I was not hating it...everyone knows Anne is my favorite author). Mom bought me Anne's most recent release, Prince Lestat and the Realms of Atlantis for Christmas, and I have got to get busy reading the other books in the series so I can get to it. I suppose I could read out of order. My whole love affair with Anne's books began when I read the third Vampire Chronicles book first, The Queen of the Damned, and it remains my favorite book of all time. Something to think about.

A Storm of Swords by George R.R. Martin - This remains one of my most favorite series of all time (so far...I've only read books one and two) and I want to continue on. It's time.

2. Book You Are Most Anticipating For 2017 (non-debut)?

Two EmpressesBrandy Purdy

3. 2017 Debut You Are Most Anticipating?

Talon of God, Wesley Snipes - purely because I'm such a big fan of him in the Blade movies. I'd like to see if his writing is any good.

4. Series Ending/A Sequel You Are Most Anticipating in 2017?

Winds of Winter, George R.R. Martin (if it does get released...rumor says this year)

5. One Thing You Hope To Accomplish Or Do In Your Reading/Blogging Life In 2017?

I recently had a talk with myself (yes, I do that) and basically it involved my thinking that there is no reason I can't read more than I do. My goal is to read at least 100 pages each day. Let's face it. 100 pages is really not that much in the grand scheme of things, so I really don't see that as an unaccomplishable goal, and if I can read more than 100, it will really up the ante on my reading.

I need to write more reviews. Meaning...review the books that I read that aren't for review, even if it's just short and sweet.

Get back to writing my A Reading Life posts each week. I have two features on this blog, Cat Thursday, which I'm pretty great at keeping up with, and the aforementioned on which I have severely slacked. I will try.

Any year of reading is a great year, no matter how crappy the year was. Am I right?
How was your reading year?

Wishing you all much health, peace and prosperity...Happy New Year!


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Thursday, December 29, 2016

#CatThursday - Wishes for a Happy New Year #cats


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! (share your post in the Mr. Linky below)

This year has not been the greatest...and these last few days...ugh. One of my childhood idols died (Carrie Fisher) and a music artist who I greatly admired (George Michael), not to mention the many others taken from us this year. My mom's best friend since childhood, and mom's beloved cat too. Sad, sad year. We can only hope that 2017 will be a better year. Trying to stay optimistic considering other things that have occcurred in our country this year. 

So, the girls and I are wishing you happiness, health and prosperity in 2017. For now though, this image below is 2016 to a T. It just did not go as planned. 




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Sunday, December 25, 2016

Wishing you peace and joy this Christmas


Wishing you and yours a very Merry Christmas, and to those who do not celebrate Christmas, Happy Holidays and Happy Solstice. May your days be Merry and Bright!


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Friday, December 23, 2016

Brandy Purdy's Two Empresses - #Win an Advanced Copy!


Hearts, unlike empires, cannot be ruled…

On the island paradise of Martinique, two beautiful, well-bred cousins have reached marriageable age. Sixteen-year-old Rose must sail to France to marry Alexander, the dashing Vicomte de Beauharnais. Golden-haired Aimee will finish her education at a French convent in hopes of making a worthy match.

Once in Paris, Rose’s illusions are shattered by her new husband, who casts her off when his mistress bears him a son. Yet revolution is tearing through the land, changing fortunes—and fates—in an instant, leaving Rose free to reinvent herself. Soon she is pursued by a young general, Napoleon Bonaparte, who prefers to call her by another name: Josephine.

Presumed dead after her ship is attacked by pirates, Aimee survives and is taken to the Sultan of Turkey’s harem. Among hundreds at his beck and call, Aimee’s loveliness and intelligence make her a favorite not only of the Sultan, but of his gentle, reserved nephew. Like Josephine, the newly crowned Empress of France, Aimee will ascend to a position of unimagined power. But for both cousins, passion and ambition carry their own burden.

From the war-torn streets of Paris to the bejeweled golden bars of a Turkish palace, Brandy Purdy weaves some of history’s most compelling figures into a vivid, captivating account of two remarkable women and their extraordinary destinies.

Win an advanced copy of Two Empresses, Brandy Purdy's upcoming historical novel. Enter at the author's blog here. Giveaway ends on December 31st. U.S. entries only.


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Thursday, December 22, 2016

#CatThursday #Christmas Week 4 - Merry Christmas!


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! (share your post in the Mr. Linky below)

Alice, Arya and I would like to take this opportunity to wish you and yours a very Merry Christmas! Have safe and happy celebrations with your family and friends.  -^o^-





I haven't had too much trouble with the cats messing with the tree, except I did find some ornaments on the floor. That could be from the droopy Fraser Fir branches, or Arya's shenanigans. However, they will. not. stop. drinking. the. tree. water! It's infuriating!



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Thursday, December 15, 2016

#CatThursday #Christmas - Week 3 Videopalooza!


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! (share your post in the Mr. Linky below)

Probably my favorite commercial on TV right now!




Cats vs. Christmas Trees



Christmas Cats



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Thursday, December 8, 2016

#CatThursday #Christmas Week 2 - In Memoriam for Emma & Sneakers


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! (share your post in the Mr. Linky below)


One of our good friends here at Cat Thursday (Gina at Book Dragon) lost her beautiful boy, Sneakers, a couple of weeks ago. It was a hard decision her family had to make and I know they were heartbroken, but sometimes the well-being of our beloved pets is all we can think about. Sneakers was lucky to have such loving pet parents. RIP, Sneakers. My thoughts and hugs go out to Gina and her family.



My mom had to make that same difficult decision last week with her 15 year old kitty, Emma. She had been battling thyroid disease for several years. Her quality of life was so low in recent years. Last Thursday morning, she fell and mom thinks she had a seizure. Then she wasn't able to move around much and went into hiding, as cats are wont to do when they're sick. Mom took her to the vet and they were thinking she was in kidney failure. Mom just did not want her to suffer any longer. 



We are all so sad. Emma was part of the family. My boys and I live with my mom so we were around Emma all the time. I bonded with Emma when she was little. When mom was still living in Michigan, and I was pregnant with my older son, Gabe, we traveled up there because mom was having a baby shower for me with my Michigan friends and family. We stayed at mom's and Emma was this little tiny thing. She was my constant companion during that visit and I cried when we left to come home (you can barely see her in the pic of us below...I'm holding her).



We are already missing her greatly and mom is heartbroken. It really is like losing a part of the family. Rest in peace, dear Emma. We love you and know that you will be happy again across the Rainbow Bridge.

*********

Just so we're not crying the rest of the day, here's a bit of Christmas funny. (Probably not a preview any longer. Most likely going on right now in many households. lol)


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Thursday, December 1, 2016

#CatThursday - #Christmas Week One #cats


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! (share your post in the Mr. Linky below)

December already! I can hardly believe it. Time for our yearly Christmas cat antics. Fun, fun, fun!




This cat loves Christmas...


...and this one hates it. lol (I've probably shared these before, but they're too funny not to share again)




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Thursday, November 24, 2016

#CatThursday - Happy Thanksgiving! #cats


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! (share your post in the Mr. Linky below)

Wishing you all a very safe and Happy Thanksgiving amongst family and friends. Thank you for being a part of my Cat Thursday family. I am very thankful for you.


Today's the day, Ginger! 


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Thursday, November 17, 2016

#CatThursday - How to build an Outdoor Cat Shelter #cats


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! (share your post in the Mr. Linky below)

Cole and Marmalade had this excellent video posted yesterday about building an outdoor shelter for stray/feral cats. It really is such an awesome idea and the cold season is quickly approaching.




Additional tips from their YouTube Channel:

*Other tips/options/considerations for this type of shelter...
1. You can use a hairdryer to warm the plastic up before cutting out the holes to make it easier
2. You can use styrofoam or insulation board instead of straw
3. ALWAYS use straw and not hay! - Hay soaks up moisture which makes the shelter cold and can also get moldy
4. You can add a second entrance/exit to the shelter if you're worried about predators in your area, I chose not to since this cuts down on the insulation of the shelter a lot
5. You can add plastic flaps to the entries/exits to help keep drafts out


There's loads more shelter options you can check out here: http://www.alleycat.org/resources/feral-cat-shelter-options-gallery/ --- The most important thing is to purrlease DO SOMETHING if you know of any feral or stray cats in your area that could really use a shelter this winter to keep warm… if I can make one with "help" from Marmalade, I know you can too! 


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Friday, November 11, 2016

Sherry Christie, author of Roma Amor, on Growing Up Roman #Giveaway (ends tonight)


Living in early first-century Rome, you’d have been classified from the moment of your birth. If either of your parents was a slave (as an estimated 1/3 of the city’s population were), you were a slave too. With luck, you’d grow up to be a rich man’s well-educated scribe or physician if you were a boy, or maybe a lady’s maid if you were a girl. Without luck, you might be destined to labor on a farm, on a construction gang, or in a brothel.

However, if your parents were free, so were you. Unless you earned or inherited a lot of money, you might live your life as an artisan or work in someone else’s business. You were a commoner, one of the many low-class plebs.

If you had a net worth of at least 100,000 denarii—nearly half a million dollars—you’d qualify for the equestrian class. (The name equites came from Rome’s citizen-army days, when men like these had to be wealthy enough to buy a horse.)

Equites were typically business owners, controlling companies that shipped luxuries and commodities throughout the Empire, manufactured everything from pottery lamps to soldiers’ swords, and mined tin, copper, lead, and gold. Sons would be trained to grow the family’s wealth, and both sons and daughters would eventually marry someone from another powerful equestrian family. Mergers and acquisitions, Roman style!

One last group was even higher in status: the Senatorial class. With a net worth of 250,000 denarii, about $1 million, you were eligible to be appointed to the Senate and to hold the highest posts in military and civil government. You would raise your sons to bring the family more honor and prestige, and you would build alliances by marrying your children into families of comparable (or greater) influence and distinction.

This is the class that Marcus Carinna, the lead character in my debut historical, Roma Amor: A Novel of Caligula’s Rome, was born into. After his older brother’s suicide for a reason that still embitters him, he escaped the treacherous politics of Rome to serve as an army officer on the rugged Danube frontier.

Now Caligula Caesar has come to power, and Marcus’s father, an ambitious Senator, orders him to return. Accompanying him back to Rome is a hostage captured in a battle: a sullen Germanic priestess named Aurima. Relaxing in his family home, Marcus contrasts its amenities with the primitive life of barbarians:

Light from the three-tongued floor lamp glowed on the frescoes, the polished desktop, the statue in the corner. I thought briefly of my promise that Aurima would be well quartered. To a girl accustomed to a hut of sticks and thatch, a patrician house like this would be luxury beyond imagining.

Like all well-to-do families, the Carinnas own a number of slaves, most of whom were born in the household or raised from childhood. A slave with special skills might be bought as required. For example, when Marcus’s older brother grew up, he was given slaves to meet all his needs:

. . . they were all gone: my brother’s body slave, his secretary, scribe, accountant, dresser, bed girl, clothes-mender, and guards.

Since Marcus is now the only son, it’s important that he marry well and have children who will carry on the family name and enhance its prestige. When he returns, that’s one of the first things his sister teases him about:

“Now the question that has all of Rome abuzz,” Nina announced. “What lucky female will marry Marcus Carinna?”

I made a face. The best sort of wife, to my mind, was someone else’s.

Mother took a date from the server’s dish. “Spare us the grimaces, Marcus. It has been shamefully long since your betrothal was annulled.”

“No loss,” I muttered. My sponsa’s father had decided not to marry his daughter into the family of a man charged with treason.

“Scores of noble papas have been hinting to Father about their little girls,” Nina added with relish.


Will this bad-boy aristocrat follow the rules and let himself be affianced to some Senator’s dutiful daughter? Gods forbid he should be drawn to coppery-haired Aurima, whose mystical powers hide a ruthless desire for revenge on Rome. After all, she’s a sacred hostage, a virgin, and a barbarian: three reasons why he should have nothing to do with her.

And he can forget trying to prove his courage by leading legions against Rome’s enemies. Now that his brother is dead, Marcus’s father expects him to carry on the family tradition of public service. Although obedience to one’s paterfamilias is ingrained in Roman children, Marcus is violently opposed to taking his brother’s place:

He would have me in service as an acolyte, pimp, and bribe-bearer for some power-hungry praetor or Senator, who would teach me to fawn on the mighty, betray my allies, and trample my enemies.

It was Publius whom he had bred to climb the rungs of public life, eventually to join our forebears who had been overseers of taxes, roads, and waterworks, Treasury officials, givers of games, builders of public edifices, magistrates, lawmakers, governors, and generals. I, the second son, had been permitted to eavesdrop on my brother’s education until resentment and jealousy got the better of me. Oh, I understood rebellion.


It’s especially galling that his father commands him to protect and serve the man who was his brother’s closest friend. Because Marcus can’t forget how his brother died—or that the friend who didn’t try to save him was Caligula Caesar, now master of Rome.

When his struggles to befriend and steady the temperamental Caligula are disturbed by his brother’s restless spirit, Marcus finds he cannot escape the past. Caught in a web of deceit, conspiracy, and betrayal, he will uncover a secret that threatens his family, the woman he desires, even his life... and may bring chaos to the young Roman Empire.


Michelle, thanks very much for this opportunity to review “growing up Roman” with your True Book Addict followers, and to share some examples of how this might play out in a Senatorial family.

Readers, Roma Amor: A Novel of Caligula’s Rome, is now $2.99 as an ebook. Or you can enter below for a chance to win one of two paperback copies of Roma Amor that I’m giving away. I thank you for your time, and look forward to your comments!



Roma Amor: A Novel of Caligula’s Rome by Sherry Christie
Publication Date: April 15, 2016
Bexley House Books
Paperback; 496 Pages
Genre: Historical Fiction



READ EXCERPT.

Marcus Carinna hears a voice whisper, “Your turn,” as he rides past his family tomb. An unseen presence also startles the Germanic priestess Aurima, whom he is bringing to Rome. But hardheaded Romans scoff at ghosts, and Marcus can’t believe it’s a warning from his brother, who killed himself three years earlier.

37 AD: To great acclaim, 25-year-old Caligula Caesar has become Rome’s new master. No one is more pleased than Senator Titus Carinna, who helped him succeed to the throne. It’s a shame the Senator’s older son–Caligula’s closest friend–committed suicide after being charged with treason. But that still leaves Marcus, his second son.

Headstrong and hot-tempered, Marcus would rather prove his courage by leading legions against Rome’s enemies than take his brother’s place. Yet when his father orders him to befriend Caligula, he has no choice.

Caught in a web of deceit, conspiracy, and betrayal, he will uncover a secret that threatens his family, the woman he desires, even his life… and may bring chaos to the young Roman Empire.

“The first installment in a page-turning saga that revisits the heroes and villains of the grandest city of the ancient world…. Comes alive with the long gone characters who were its lifeblood” -Kirkus Reviews

‘‘Combines current political concerns, the wide lens of the serious historical novel, and emotional maturity and realism with an utterly splendid grasp of what it must have been like to live in Rome under Caligula’s reign.” -Sarah Smith, Agatha Award winner and New York Times Notable author



About the Author
After earning a Phi Beta Kappa creative award in college for an early draft about a nobly born charioteer, Sherry Christie spent many years of research and revision developing ROMA AMOR into the story about fathers and sons that it wanted to be. It’s a joy to immerse myself in the lives of first-century Romans–and a distinct change from my day job as a . In addition to writing, Sherry is a professional copywriter. She lives on the coast of Maine with a native-born Viking and two cats.

For more information, please visit Sherry Christie’s website. You can also connect with her on Twitter, and Goodreads.

Giveaway
To win a paperback copy of Roma Amor: A Novel of Caligula’s Rome by Sherry Christie, please enter via the Gleam form below. 2 copies are up for grabs!

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


Roma Amor


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