Saturday, November 30, 2013

#TuesBookTalk December Selection: Winter Solstice by Rosamunde Pilcher

TuesBookTalk Read-a-Longs on Twitter (@tuesbooktalk #tuesbooktalk) and on Goodreads will be reading, Winter Solstice by Rosamunde Pilcher, in December. Our first discussion will be this Tuesday, December 3. Our chats take place on Twitter at 9:30pm ET/8:30pm CT on Tuesday nights (see hashtag above). If you can't join us on Twitter, feel free to share your thoughts in the Goodreads group. The reading schedule is available in the Goodreads group here. Hope you will join us!


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Friday, November 29, 2013

HFVBT: J. Boyce Gleason's Anvil of God--Review and {Giveaway} #AnvilOfGodTour

My thoughts
I was so glad to be offered this book for review because I have not read any historical fiction surrounding the Carolingian dynasty. I am pleased to say that Anvil of God was a terrific introduction to the era. Gleason's impeccably researched novel takes us into the heart of the time period and tells us an exciting and interesting tale of a time when Christianity was striving to quash Paganism and warfare was a constant.

Struck with the reality that he is dying, Charles Martel (Charles the Hammer) devises a plan for his sons to rule the kingdom and to make an advantageous marriage for his daughter to achieve political stability. However, his offspring are not so ready to cooperate. Having different views on religion and wanting to choose marriage for love over political advantage, his sons and daughter have designs on choosing their own paths in life. What we are left with is a story of the bonds of family and what factors can cause those bonds to break.

Gleason has written a fantastic historical novel. This being the first book in The Carolingian Chronicles, I am looking forward to the next book.

About the book
Publication Date: July 26, 2013
Paperback; 440p
ISBN-10: 1475990197

It is 741. After subduing the pagan religions in the east, halting the march of Islam in the west, and conquering the continent for the Merovingian kings, mayor of the palace Charles the Hammer has one final ambition-the throne. Only one thing stands in his way-he is dying.

Charles cobbles together a plan to divide the kingdom among his three sons, betroth his daughter to a Lombard prince to secure his southern border, and keep the Church unified behind them through his friend Bishop Boniface. Despite his best efforts, the only thing to reign after Charles's death is chaos. His daughter has no intention of marrying anyone, let alone a Lombard prince. His two eldest sons question the rights of their younger pagan stepbrother, and the Church demands a steep price for their support. Son battles son, Christianity battles paganism, and Charles's daughter flees his court for an enemy's love.

Based on a true story, Anvil of God is a whirlwind of love, honor, sacrifice, and betrayal that follows a bereaved family's relentless quest for power and destiny.

About the author

After a 25-year career in crisis management and public affairs, J. Boyce Gleason began writing historical fiction and is publishing his first novel ANVIL OF GOD, Book One of the Carolingian Chronicles. With an AB in history from Dartmouth College, Gleason brings a strong understanding of the past to his historical fiction. He is married, has three sons and lives in Virginia.

For more information please visit

Visit other blogs on the tour--Tour Schedule
Twitter Hashtag: #AnvilOfGodTour

Follow the instructions on the Rafflecopter form below to enter for a chance to win a print copy of Anvil of God by J. Boyce Gleason!

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, November 28, 2013

Cat Thursday: Happy Thanksgiving!

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)

To all my friends, whether you're my cat lovers, book lovers, or a combination of both, Happy Thanksgiving! Share some turkey with those kitties (and puppies)! *wink*

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Wednesday, November 27, 2013

HFVBT: Deborah Swift's A Divided Inheritance--Review #DividedInheritanceTour

My thoughts
Once again, I am extremely impressed with Deborah Swift's talent of weaving a historical tale. The Gilded Lily was the first of her works that I read and with A Divided Inheritance, she continues to demonstrate her ability to write engaging and well-researched historical fiction.

In this intricate novel, we learn of the lace making business, fencing/sword play and the religious controversies of Jacobean England and Spain of the period. All this may sound like it would read like non-fiction, but Swift intersperses the lives of her characters and so we get a great story along with a learning experience.

Although the characters, especially Zachary, are not immediately likeable or endearing, as the story progresses, an understanding of their motivation and inner workings comes to light. By the end of the story, these characters will stay with you.

Deborah Swift is an exciting voice in historical fiction. I look forward to her future releases and to going back to read her earlier work. Highly recommended.

About the book
UK Publication Date: October 23, 2013
Pan MacMillan
Paperback; 480p
ISBN-10: 033054344X

A family divided by fortune. A country divided by faith.

London 1609...

Elspet Leviston’s greatest ambition is to continue the success of her father Nathaniel’s lace business. But her dreams are thrown into turmoil with the arrival of her mysterious cousin Zachary Deane – who has his own designs on Leviston’s Lace.

Zachary is a dedicated swordsman with a secret past that seems to invite trouble. So Nathaniel sends him on a Grand Tour, away from the distractions of Jacobean London. Elspet believes herself to be free of her hot-headed relative but when Nathaniel dies her fortunes change dramatically. She is forced to leave her beloved home and go in search of Zachary - determined to claim back from him the inheritance that is rightfully hers.

Under the searing Spanish sun, Elspet and Zachary become locked in a battle of wills. But these are dangerous times and they are soon embroiled in the roar and sweep of something far more threatening, sending them both on an unexpected journey of discovery which finally unlocks the true meaning of family . . .

A Divided Inheritance is a breathtaking adventure set in London just after the Gunpowder Plot and in the bustling courtyards of Golden Age Seville.

About the author

Deborah Swift used to work in the theatre and at the BBC as a set and costume designer, before studying for an MA in Creative Writing in 2007. She lives in a beautiful area of Lancashire near the Lake District National Park.  She is the author of The Lady’s Slipper and is a member of the Historical Writers Association, the Historical Novel Society, and the Romantic Novelists Association.

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

Visit other blogs on the tour--Tour Schedule
Twitter Hashtag: #DividedInheritanceTour

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, November 26, 2013

A Reading Life (22)

So, almost a month again since I've done one of these posts. I'm seriously slacking.
Listening To:  Christmas music! Yes, I've been listening in the car for a couple of weeks now. I bought Kelly Clarkson's new Christmas CD and I've really enjoyed it.

Books finished:
The Arrow Chest, Robert Parry (review)
The Diabolist, Layton Green (review)
Illuminations, Mary Sharratt (review)
Stoker's Manuscript, Royce Prouty (review)

The Red Queen, Philippa Gregory
A Divided Inheritance, Deborah Swift (review Wednesday)
Anvil of God, J. Boyce Gleason (review Friday)

Coming Up:  
I'm not saying. *frown* I'm so behind on review books. So, a combination of that and Christmas books. I MUST get my Christmas reading in!

Watching: I have been watching a ton of Christmas movies! There are so many good new ones on The Hallmark Channel this year, not to mention Lifetime, ABC Family, and ION channel. Also...have to admit the Doctor Who 50th anniversary episode had me scratching my head. We had a talk about it on Facebook and that cleared things up a bit for me, but I'm still mildly perplexed. Did anyone else feel that way? I'm loving the new FOX show, Almost Human. I simply adore Karl Urban. At the movie theater, Thor 2. Awesome! Chris Hemsworth IS Thor, but my favorite part of the movie was any part that featured Tom Hiddleston as Loki. He is my new favorite actor. *grin/swoon*

Making: I made Baked Monte Cristo sandwiches! Have you ever had them? They are delicious and this recipe was super easy. This week, I'm cooking a Thanksgiving dinner with my mom. The church down the street was going door to door giving away free turkeys. It was such a blessing! I'm going to make sausage cornbread stuffing, smashed red potatoes...not sure what else, but desserts will be five layer pecan pie and a pumpkin cheesecake. Yum! On the craft front, I'm hoping I will have time to do some Christmas crafting this year. *fingers crossed*
Grateful for: my blogging and writing friends who showed me nothing but love and encouragement when I failed so miserably at NaNoWriMo...again. You know who you are...I love you!

Looking forward to: tomorrow! My sister, my niece and my grand-niece and grand-nephew are coming into town! It has been almost two years since we've seen them. Can't wait! Family is so important, especially at this time of year. *love*

Picture: library sale haul and big Eugenia Price win from Arleigh at

Werewolf, Glen Duncan
A Cedar Cove Christmas, Debbie Macomber
Raised by Wolves, Jennifer Lynn Barnes
Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm, Kate Douglas Wiggin
The Book of Fires, Jane Borodale
Home for Christmas, Andrew M. Greeley
The Season of Passage, Christopher Pike
The Christmas Dog, Melody Carlson
The Shoemaker's Wife, Adriana Trigiani
The Christmas Encyclopedia, William D. Crump
Jane Goes Batty, Michael Thomas Ford
Christmas, Present, Jacquelyn Mitchard
Landlocked, Doris Lessing
Auggie Wren's Christmas Story, Paul Auster
The Girl Below, Bianca Zander*
*actually won from Curl Up And Read
Mara and Dann, Doris Lessing
Juliet, Anne Fortier
Never Let You Go, Erin Healy

Eugenia Price's Savannah Quartet
Gorgeous covers!

What's been happening in your Reading Life?


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Friday, November 22, 2013

Christmas Spirit Read-a-Thon: Reading Plans

I'm hosting this read-a-thon over at Seasons of Reading so if you haven't signed up, why not join us!? It runs today through Sunday and kicks off my annual Christmas Spirit Reading Challenge, which I'm hosting over at The Christmas Spirit blog.

I'm hoping to at least read Barbara Briggs Ward's The Snowman Maker and Richard Paul Evans' A Winter Dream and perhaps get to A Christmas Home and the Nutcracker book. We shall see. My sister and her daughter (plus my grand-niece and nephew) are coming into town on Tuesday to spend the Thanksgiving holiday with us (yay!) so I have a lot of preparation this weekend, including decorating for Christmas!


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Thursday, November 21, 2013

Cat Thursday: The hearts have it

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 mentioned awhile back that Arya is one of those cats whose spots take the shape of hearts and I promised to share once I was able to get some decent pictures. Here you go! I think the hearts are why she is so sweet. =O)

This first one is not as pronounced...

but the one on her side...

Image source: lolcats

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Friday, November 15, 2013

Paul Douglas Lovell's PaulyAnna International Rent Boy--Guest Post and {Contest}

What keeps you focused on a given story?

I was determined to keep focus on Paulyanna because I made the mistake of saying out loud I was going to write a book. Before that I only said I wanted to write a book.

I never commit or say I will do something unless I know it will happen. I don’t want to lose face. I came from a background of false promises and unfulfilled goals. It is a personal pride thing, my attempt to set myself apart from those I once knew.

Living by this rule has often made me come across as ungrateful or arrogant.

Example: An enthusiastic colleague I don’t particularly like tries to confirm my participation in some social event. His head nods for me as he asks, “You are coming, right?” I say “no”. Then he hates me.

I also had chest pains for about a year and, as my dad died of lung cancer, I put two and two together and wrote a will. Ever since my life became wonderful, I keep expecting to suddenly pop off. I wanted to ensure I got my story completed because I didn’t want people to forget me. Turns out I only needed extra magnesium and that people had already forgotten me.

I didn’t need to keep my focus on plot because my life story was already created; I only needed to jot it down. However, I do tend to ramble and go off topic, but like a homeward-bound drunk, I usually stumble back onto the right track.

I had no deadline so I could potter along without pressures to finish. When I couldn’t concentrate or my sentences refused to line up, I could stop, do some neglected chores or walk the dog. I carry a Dictaphone to record my ideas, even partial ones that I can develop later. This leaves my brain open to new thoughts.

Before I had my Dictaphone, I would spend the entire walk trying to remember a single detail, repeating it until I got home. Note book and pen I don’t carry; I’d need an A4 pad and would probably get prosecuted for littering.

I have a routine of sorts: 2pm till 4.30pm is my writing time. I make sure I am fed and watered, have my cosy jogging bottoms on and an empty bladder. No music, and I put the cat out as he licks incessantly and it drives me crazy.

When I get stuck on a sentence or direction, I remember the other times I got stuck and KNOW it will come and it always does… in the end.

So this is my virtual book tour which I hope is going well.

I am Paulyanna, International Rent-boy. I’m putting my life up to be judged so if you enjoy the read, please spread the word. Recommend me to friends. Review me.

Many thanks, PDL.

About the book
Title: Paulyanna International Rent Boy
Author: Paul Douglas Lovell
Publisher: Self Published
Formats Available In: Digital
Released: September 2013

Paulyanna: International Rent-boy is an honest and frank portrayal of a working-class male prostitute’s life.

Many factors contribute in delivering the main character onto the streets. Some very typical such as early abandonment, poverty, lack of education and sexual abuse. But Paul does not dwell too much on the past and refuses to allow these events to mar his ambition.

At eighteen a lost train ticket leaves him stranded in the city after a job interview. He uses his questionable wits to make a quick decision that steers him down a rather dodgy path.

Without added glamour or grit, Paul shares the raw accounts of his life as a rent-boy in the 90s, from London to Los Angeles. It may not have been pretty, and there was risk and danger as well as fun and thrills, but Paul had the audacity to succeed in his quest to obtain happiness, security and wealth.

This is not an erotic tale. It is an ordinary account of day-to-day life as viewed from a unique perspective. A peek into what really goes on behind the glassy-eyed smile of a male street worker. Read about his life in this optimistic and fascinating roadbook adventure.

Amazon UK

About the author

A Black Country Lad who now lives in the Black Boy Land or Schwarzbubenland as it is called in Switzerland. Life started off badly and after spending a big part of it on the margins of society working as a rent-boy (gay male prostitute) I eventually found my husband (civil partner) in 2000 and a new chapter in my life began.

Years on and we are still very happily married, or at least I am. He kept every single one of his promises and didn’t tire or change his attitude towards me. Never once have I felt cold, hungry or scared.

I now live in a detached property with a large garden in a small hamlet of 895 residence. Set in the foothills of the Jura mountains. I am surrounded on all sides by hilly forests, a small stream runs through it’s centre. It really is a proper piece of paradise. When I’m feeling extra spiritual it is easy to imagine. We are nestled in the palms of an almighty giant. God if you like. Whom, despite all I had done saw fit to watch over me and guide me to a life worth living. I have a beautiful black cat called Darcy and also a Gordon Setter girl-dog name Asherah. We live an idyllic existence.

I now enjoy the small pleasures in life, gone are the pressures of Big City Life nowadays, I can see sky out of my windows. I experience every season. In the Spring and Summer, whilst out walking in the woods we often make a fire to cook a jumbo sausage. My dog likes sausage walks. Autumn is spend harvesting our homegrown and raking up leaves. I spend a lot of my time gardening. Chopping and stacking wood for the log burner that heats our home throughout the Winter season. I’m a Glippy a glamourous hippy. We are extremely green and energy efficient, I’m a recycling master.

I wear what I call my doggy clothes mostly, saving my glad rags for when visiting the city. I like to pretend I’m living in the olden days and going to town is a really big event. So that is the new improved me. I must admit I do still enjoy cannabis but now, I drink red wine also.

“I always had a dream to become a writer and although not quite there yet am doing everything I can to make it a reality.”



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Thursday, November 14, 2013

Cat Thursday: Authors and their cats (27)

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 their Cats Thursday. Each time I will feature an author and their cat(s).

I absolutely adore this pic of Herman Hesse and his kitty. Such love!

I also have for you a terrific gift idea for your cat loving friends...which means you must also buy one for yourself. I just might...haha!

Crazy Cat Lady Action Figure

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Saturday, November 9, 2013

Happy Birthday, boy is 12 years old today!

How time flies! I know every parent that reads this can relate. It seems like only yesterday he was a baby in my arms and now he's twelve. One year away from being a teen, 4 (or 5) years away from driving, and only 6 years away from being an adult. Ugh! Make the time slow down!

The pic above is from his birthday party last weekend. =O)

Happy Birthday, son! I love you!


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