Autumn Reads!

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It’s that time of year again when I feature the books I’m looking forward to the most this autumn. I’m seriously in awe of how fast the year has gone but happy at the same time. This wasn’t the best year for my family and I. We are focusing on a better end to the year and a happier 2020. Speaking of, I’m hoping that next year welcomes in another Jazz Age of sorts. Give me flapper dresses, jazz, bobs, give me all of it! This might just prove to be a lot of fun. I might also be the only one to think so, but it’d be a blast in my opinion. Bring it all on, won’t you, Old Sport? (Great Gatsby reference, for those who didn’t get it.) tenor (1)

So…
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I picked my Top Ten Autumn reads and I”ll include some honorable mentions down below. I hope you enjoy my picks and be sure to let me know what you’re looking forward to! I’m excited to hear what you’re looking forward to. 

Six bestselling and award-winning authors bring to life a breathtaking epic novel illuminating the hopes, desires, and destinies of princesses and peasants, harlots and wives, fanatics and philosophers—six unforgettable women whose paths cross during one of the most tumultuous and transformative events in history: the French Revolution.

Ribbons of Scarlet is a timely story of the power of women to start a revolution—and change the world.

In late eighteenth-century France, women do not have a place in politics. But as the tide of revolution rises, women from gilded salons to the streets of Paris decide otherwise—upending a world order that has long oppressed them.

Blue-blooded Sophie de Grouchy believes in democracy, education, and equal rights for women, and marries the only man in Paris who agrees. Emboldened to fight the injustices of King Louis XVI, Sophie aims to prove that an educated populace can govern itself–but one of her students, fruit-seller Louise Audu, is hungrier for bread and vengeance than learning. When the Bastille falls and Louise leads a women’s march to Versailles, the monarchy is forced to bend, but not without a fight. The king’s pious sister Princess Elisabeth takes a stand to defend her brother, spirit her family to safety, and restore the old order, even at the risk of her head.

But when fanatics use the newspapers to twist the revolution’s ideals into a new tyranny, even the women who toppled the monarchy are threatened by the guillotine. Putting her faith in the pen, brilliant political wife Manon Roland tries to write a way out of France’s blood-soaked Reign of Terror while pike-bearing Pauline Leon and steely Charlotte Corday embrace violence as the only way to save the nation. With justice corrupted by revenge, all the women must make impossible choices to survive–unless unlikely heroine and courtesan’s daughter Emilie de Sainte-Amaranthe can sway the man who controls France’s fate: the fearsome Robespierre.

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From #1 
New York Times bestselling author Leigh Bardugo comes a mesmerizing tale of power, privilege, and dark magic set among the Ivy League elite.

Galaxy “Alex” Stern is the most unlikely member of Yale’s freshman class. Raised in the Los Angeles hinterlands by a hippie mom, Alex dropped out of school early and into a world of shady drug-dealer boyfriends, dead-end jobs, and much, much worse. In fact, by age twenty, she is the sole survivor of a horrific, unsolved multiple homicides. Some might say she’s thrown her life away. But at her hospital bed, Alex is offered a second chance: to attend one of the world’s most prestigious universities on a full ride. What’s the catch, and why her?

Still searching for answers, Alex arrives in New Haven tasked by her mysterious benefactors with monitoring the activities of Yale’s secret societies. Their eight windowless “tombs” are the well-known haunts of the rich and powerful, from high-ranking politicos to Wall Street’s biggest players. But their occult activities are more sinister and more extraordinary than any paranoid imagination might conceive. They tamper with forbidden magic. They raise the dead. And, sometimes, they prey on the living.

Ninth House is the long-awaited adult debut by the beloved author of Shadow and Bone and Six of Crows. Leigh Bardugo will take her place alongside Lev Grossman and Deborah Harkness as one of the finest practitioners of literary fantasy writing today.
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From the New York Times bestselling author of The Night Circus, a timeless love story set in a secret underground world–a place of pirates, painters, lovers, liars, and ships that sail upon a starless sea.

Zachary Ezra Rawlins is a graduate student in Vermont when he discovers a mysterious book hidden in the stacks. As he turns the pages, entranced by tales of lovelorn prisoners, key collectors, and nameless acolytes, he reads something strange: a story from his own childhood. Bewildered by this inexplicable book and desperate to make sense of how his own life came to be recorded, Zachary uncovers a series of clues–a bee, a key, and a sword–that lead him to a masquerade party in New York, to a secret club, and through a doorway to an ancient library hidden far below the surface of the earth. What Zachary finds in this curious place is more than just a buried home for books and their guardians–it is a place of lost cities and seas, lovers who pass notes under doors and across time, and of stories whispered by the dead. Zachary learns of those who have sacrificed much to protect this realm, relinquishing their sight and their tongues to preserve this archive, and also of those who are intent on its destruction. Together with Mirabel, a fierce, pink-haired protector of the place, and Dorian, a handsome, barefoot man with shifting alliances, Zachary travels the twisting tunnels, darkened stairwells, crowded ballrooms, and sweetly soaked shores of this magical world, discovering his purpose–in both the mysterious book and in his own life.

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New York Times bestselling author Renée Ahdieh returns with a sumptuous, sultry and romantic new series set in 19th century New Orleans where vampires hide in plain sight.

In 1872, New Orleans is a city ruled by the dead. But to seventeen-year-old Celine Rousseau, New Orleans is a safe haven after she’s forced to flee her life as a dressmaker in Paris. Taken in by the sisters of the Ursuline convent in the middle of the carnival season, Celine is quickly enraptured by the vibrant city, from its music to its fancy soirées and even its danger. She becomes embroiled in the city’s glitzy underworld, known as La Cour des Lions, after catching the eye of the group’s enigmatic leader, Sébastien Saint Germain.

When the body of one of the girls from the convent is found in Sébastien’s own lair–the second dead girl to turn up in recent weeks–Celine battles her attraction to Sébastien and suspicions about his guilt along with the shame of her own horrible secret.

After a third murder, New Orleans becomes gripped by the terror of a serial killer on the loose–one who has now set Celine in his sights. As the murderer stalks her, Celine finally takes matters into her own hands, only to find herself caught in the midst of an age-old feud between the darkest creatures of the night, where the price of forbidden love is her life.

At once a sultry romance and a decadent, thrilling mystery, master storyteller Renée Ahdieh embarks on her most potent fantasy series yet.

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In the city of Craewick, memories reign. The power-obsessed ruler of the city, Madame, has cultivated a society in which memories are currency, citizens are divided by ability, and Gifted individuals can take memories from others through touch as they please.

Seventeen-year-old Etta Lark is desperate to live outside of the corrupt culture but grapples with the guilt of an accident that has left her mother bedridden in the city’s asylum. When Madame threatens to put her mother up for auction, a Craewick practice in which a “criminal’s” memories are sold to the highest bidder before being killed, Etta will do whatever it takes to save her. Even if it means rejoining the Shadows, the rebel group she swore off in the wake of the accident years earlier.

To prove her allegiance to the Shadows and rescue her mother, Etta must steal a memorized map of the Maze, a formidable prison created by the bloodthirsty ruler of a neighboring Realm. So she sets out on a journey in which she faces startling attacks, unexpected romance, and, above all, her own past in order to set things right in her world.
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From the acclaimed author of Forest of a Thousand Lanterns comes a fantastical new tale of darkness and love, in which magical bonds are stronger than blood.

Will love break the spell? After cruelly rejecting Bao, the poor physician’s apprentice who loves her, Lan, a wealthy nobleman’s daughter, regrets her actions. So when she finds Bao’s prized flute floating in his boat near her house, she takes it into her care, not knowing that his soul has been trapped inside it by an evil witch, who cursed Bao, telling him that only love will set him free. Though Bao now despises her, Lan vows to make amends and help break the spell.

Together, the two travel across the continent, finding themselves in the presence of greatness in the forms of the Great Forest’s Empress Jade and Commander Wei. They journey with Wei, getting tangled in the webs of war, blood magic, and romance along the way. Will Lan and Bao begin to break the spell that’s been placed upon them? Or will they be doomed to live out their lives with black magic running through their veins?

In this fantastical tale of darkness and love, some magical bonds are stronger than blood.

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In this mesmerizing sequel to the New York Times bestselling Girls of Paper and Fire, Lei and Wren have escaped their oppressive lives in the Hidden Palace, but soon learn that freedom comes with a terrible cost.

Lei, the naive country girl who became a royal courtesan, is now known as the Moonchosen, the commoner who managed to do what no one else could. But slaying the cruel Demon King wasn’t the end of the plan—it’s just the beginning. Now Lei and her warrior love Wren must travel the kingdom to gain support from the far-flung rebel clans. The journey is made even more treacherous thanks to a heavy bounty on Lei’s head, as well as insidious doubts that threaten to tear Lei and Wren apart from within.

Meanwhile, an evil plot to eliminate the rebel uprising is taking shape, fueled by dark magic and vengeance. Will Lei succeed in her quest to overthrow the monarchy and protect her love for Wren, or will she fall victim to the sinister magic that seeks to destroy her?

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Blood HeirThis hot debut is the first book in an epic new series about a princess hiding a dark secret and the con man she must trust to clear her name for her father’s murder. 

In the Cyrilian Empire, Affinites are reviled. Their varied gifts to control the world around them are unnatural—dangerous. And Anastacya Mikhailov, the crown princess, has a terrifying secret. Her deadly Affinity to blood is her curse and the reason she has lived her life hidden behind palace walls.

When Ana’s father, the emperor, is murdered, her world is shattered. Framed as his killer, Ana must flee the palace to save her life. And to clear her name, she must find her father’s murderer on her own. But the Cyrilia beyond the palace walls is far different from the one she thought she knew. Corruption rules the land, and a greater conspiracy is at work—one that threatens the very balance of her world. And there is only one person corrupt enough to help Ana get to its core: Ramson Quicktongue.

A cunning crime lord of the Cyrilian underworld, Ramson has sinister plans—though he might have met his match in Ana. Because in this story, the princess might be the most dangerous player of all.

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Sisters of Shadow and Light

From the acclaimed author of Defy, Sara B. Larson, Sisters of Shadow and Lights is a timeless and fantastical tale of sisterly love and powerful magic

The night my sister was born, the stars died and were reborn in her eyes….

Zuhra and Inara have grown up in the Citadel of the Paladins, an abandoned fortress where legendary, magical warriors once lived before disappearing from the world―including their Paladin father the night Inara was born.

On that same night, a massive, magical hedge grew and imprisoned them within the citadel. Inara inherited their father’s Paladin power; her eyes glow blue and she is able to make plants grow at unbelievable rates, but she has been trapped in her own mind because of a “roar” that drowns everything else out―leaving Zuhra virtually alone with their emotionally broken human mother.

For fifteen years they have lived, trapped in the citadel, with little contact from the outside world…until the day a stranger passes through the hedge, and everything changes.

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Inspired by a woman and events forgotten by history, bestselling author Susan Holloway Scott weaves together carefully researched fact and fiction to tell the story of Mary Emmons, and the place she held in the life—and the heart—of the notorious Aaron Burr.

He was a hero of the Revolution, a brilliant politician, lawyer, and very nearly president; a skillful survivor in a raw new country filled with constantly shifting loyalties. Today Aaron Burr is remembered more for the fatal duel that killed his rival, Alexander Hamilton. But long before that single shot destroyed Burr’s political career, there were other dark whispers about him: that he was untrustworthy, a libertine, a man unafraid of claiming whatever he believed should be his.

Sold into slavery as a child in India, Mary Emmons was brought to an America torn by war. Toughened by the experiences of her young life, Mary is intelligent, resourceful, and strong. She quickly gains the trust of her new mistress, Theodosia Prevost, and becomes indispensable in a complicated household filled with intrigue—especially when the now-widowed Theodosia marries Colonel Aaron Burr. As Theodosia sickens with the fatal disease that will finally kill her, Mary and Burr are drawn together into a private world of power and passion, and a secret, tangled union that would have shocked the nation…

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Honorable Mentions to…

The fourth book in the beloved Harry Potter series, now illustrated in glorious full color by award-winning artist Jim Kay.

Harry Potter wants to get away from the pernicious Dursleys and go to the International Quidditch Cup with Hermione, Ron, and the Weasleys. He wants to dream about Cho Chang, his crush (and maybe do more than dream). He wants to find out about the mysterious event involving two other rival schools of magic, and a competition that hasn’t happened for a hundred years. He wants to be a normal, fourteen-year-old wizard. Unfortunately for Harry Potter, he’s not normal – even by wizarding standards. And in this case, different can be deadly.

With dazzling illustrations from Jim Kay, this new fully illustrated edition of the complete and unabridged text of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire is sure to delight fans and first-time readers alike.

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A Clash of Kings: The Illustrated Edition: A Song of Ice and Fire: Book Two (A Song of Ice and Fire Illustrated Edition 2) by [Martin, George R. R.]THE BOOK BEHIND THE SECOND SEASON OF GAME OF THRONES, AN ORIGINAL SERIES NOW ON HBO.

Here is the second volume in George R.R. Martin magnificent cycle of novels that includes A Game of Thrones and A Storm of Swords. As a whole, this series comprises a genuine masterpiece of modern fantasy, bringing together the best the genre has to offer. Magic, mystery, intrigue, romance, and adventure fill these pages and transport us to a world unlike any we have ever experienced. Already hailed as a classic, George R.R. Martin stunning series is destined to stand as one of the great achievements of imaginative fiction.

A CLASH OF KINGS

A comet the color of blood and flame cuts across the sky. Two great leaders—Lord Eddard Stark and Robert Baratheon—who hold sway over an age of enforced peace are dead, victims of royal treachery. Now, from the ancient citadel of Dragonstone to the forbidding shores of Winterfell, chaos reigns. Six factions struggle for control of a divided land and the Iron Throne of the Seven Kingdoms, preparing to stake their claims through tempest, turmoil, and war. It is a tale in which brother plots against brother and the dead rise to walk in the night. Here a princess masquerades as an orphan boy; a knight of the mind prepares a poison for a treacherous sorceress, and wild men descend from the Mountains of the Moon to ravage the countryside. Against a backdrop of incest and fratricide, alchemy and murder, victory may go to the men and women possessed of the coldest steel…and the coldest hearts. For when kings clash, the whole land trembles.

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In the first book in a brilliant new fantasy series, books that aren’t finished by their authors reside in the Library of the Unwritten in Hell, and it is up to the Librarian to track down any restless characters who emerge from those unfinished stories.

Many years ago, Claire was named Head Librarian of the Unwritten Wing– a neutral space in Hell where all the stories unfinished by their authors reside. Her job consists mainly of repairing and organizing books, but also of keeping an eye on restless stories that risk materializing as characters and escaping the library. When a Hero escapes from his book and goes in search of his author, Claire must track and capture him with the help of former muse and current assistant Brevity and nervous demon courier Leto.

But what should have been a simple retrieval goes horrifyingly wrong when the terrifyingly angelic Ramiel attacks them, convinced that they hold the Devil’s Bible. The text of the Devil’s Bible is a powerful weapon in the power struggle between Heaven and Hell, so it falls to the librarians to find a book with the power to reshape the boundaries between Heaven, Hell….and Earth.

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A “brilliant and terrifically fun”* debut novel brings an enchanting new voice to fantasy.

Onna can write the parameters of a spell faster than any of the young men in her village school. But despite her incredible abilities, she’s denied a place at the nation’s premier arcane academy. Undaunted, she sails to the bustling city-state of Hexos, hoping to find a place at a university where they don’t think there’s anything untoward about providing a woman with a magical education. But as soon as Onna arrives, she’s drawn into the mysterious murder of four trolls.

Tsira is a troll who never quite fit into her clan, despite being the leader’s daughter. She decides to strike out on her own and look for work in a human city, but on her way she stumbles upon the body of a half-dead human soldier in the snow. As she slowly nurses him back to health, an unlikely bond forms between them, one that is tested when an unknown mage makes an attempt on Tsira’s life. Soon, unbeknownst to each other, Onna and Tsira both begin devoting their considerable talents to finding out who is targeting trolls, before their homeland is torn apart…

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An enthralling debut perfect for fans of Children of Blood and Bone set in a North African-inspired fantasy world where two sisters must fight to the death to win the crown.

Sixteen-year-old Eva is a princess, born with the magick of blood and marrow–a dark and terrible magick that hasn’t been seen for generations in the vibrant but fractured country of Myre. Its last known practitioner was Queen Raina, who toppled the native khimaer royalty and massacred thousands, including her own sister, eight generations ago, thus beginning the Rival Heir tradition. Living in Raina’s long and dark shadow, Eva must now face her older sister, Isa, in a battle to the death if she hopes to ascend to the Ivory Throne–because in the Queendom of Myre only the strongest, most ruthless rulers survive.

When Eva is attacked by an assassin just weeks before the battle with her sister, she discovers there is more to the attempt on her life than meets the eye–and it isn’t just her sister who wants to see her dead. As tensions escalate, Eva is forced to turn to a fey instructor of mythic proportions and a mysterious and handsome khimaer prince for help in growing her magick into something to fear. Because despite the love she still has for her sister, Eva will have to choose: Isa’s death or her own.

A River of Royal Blood is an enthralling debut set in a lush North African inspired fantasy world that subtly but powerfully challenges our notions of power, history, and identity.

TTT: What I Eat/Drink When Reading…

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This weeks theme made me chuckle because I don’t generally like to eat or drink when I’m reading. I’m a messy person in general. but when it comes to my books, they’re pristine. Still, even I break my own rule and so, I’m going to call myself out. Five of each. So…after being absent for this for several weeks….I present my return to Top Ten Tuesday and these are my choices.

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1. Hot Chocolate. MY FAVORITE. Seriously, this is one of my favorite drinks ever. It doesn’t matter who makes it, the brand, anything. Add some whipped cream and I am a happy soul.

2. Pumpkin Spice Latte. This is a seasonal thing, obviously, but here in Florida, Autumn doesn’t really happen. We go from hot to dead leaves. So when I can embrace something ‘autumn-ish’, you know that I do. I don’t go as crazy for PSL as I did a few years ago, but when I have a few bucks, I get one and I enjoy it.

3. Peppermint Mocha Latte/Frapp. I don’t care what time of year it is, if I can get this, I do. It’s definitely an all-time favorite of mine. Starbucks holiday beverages are my jam and I definitely enjoy the hell out of them. Shoutout to Dunkin too, because they have awesome drinks as well.

4. Coke or a Pepsi. I like soda, okay? And I don’t have a preferred one. It’s whichever brand is on the best sale.

5. Water. If I’m thirsty enough, I’ll drink water. It’s not my favorite thing in the world.

6. Chips. (Crisps, for my UK friends). It’s seldom that I eat when reading. But if I do, it’s usually plain chips. Though, salt & vinegar are others that I like.

7. M&Ms. You can hold the bag and just pop them into your mouth. Easy enough. (Peanut or plain, please.)

8. Gingerbread Men. Seasonal. But so good. I’m not fussy. Just give me my Gingerbread. Though the best was from Disney. I bought it from the actual human-sized Gingerbread House they made. (That was so cool! I definitely want to go back and buy a shingle of Gingerbread, haha.)

9. Peppermint Bark. I stock up so I have it until at least Valentine’s Day. (I hate V-Day.)

10. Candy Canes. I guess it’s obvious that I love seasonal stuff. I have always loved mint. Candy canes have always been a favorite of mine, especially when I’m reading. I don’t have to hold them, Just peel the cellophane as you go and there you go.

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Happy Release Day!! #capturingthedevil

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That’s right!! Today is the day and I’m SO excited. The last book in the Stalking Jack the Ripper quartet has just come out today. I admit, I’m sad that it’s ending, but it does lead us to wonder where Ms. Maniscalco will bring us next. She blends history with fiction and just writes a delightful story. Be sure to show her she me love on her website or on Twitter!  The above picture are my copies of the three previous books. All are highly recommended. ❤️
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  • Series: Stalking Jack the Ripper (Book 4)
  • Hardcover: 448 pages
  • Publisher: jimmy patterson
  • Publish Date: September 10, 2019 (Today!!!!)

In the shocking finale to the bestselling series that began with Stalking Jack the Ripper, Audrey Rose and Thomas are on the hunt for the depraved, elusive killer known as the White City Devil. A deadly game of cat-and-mouse has them fighting to stay one step ahead of the brilliant serial killer—or see their fateful romance cut short by an unspeakable tragedy.

Audrey Rose Wadsworth and Thomas Cresswell have landed in America, a bold, brash land unlike the genteel streets of London they knew. But like London, the city of Chicago hides its dark secrets well. When the two attend the spectacular World’s Fair, they find the once-in-a-lifetime event tainted with reports of missing people and unsolved murders.

Determined to help, Audrey Rose and Thomas begin their investigations, only to find themselves facing a serial killer unlike any they’ve heard of before. Identifying him is one thing, but capturing him—and getting dangerously lost in the infamous Murder Hotel he constructed as a terrifying torture device—is another.

Will Audrey Rose and Thomas see their last mystery to the end—together and in love—or will their fortunes finally run out when their most depraved adversary makes one final, devastating kill?

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Amazon  ||  B&N ||  IndieBound || Books-a-Million

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Kerri Maniscalco grew up in a semi-haunted house outside NYC where her fascination with gothic settings began. In her spare time, she reads everything she can get her hands on, cooks all kinds of food with her family and friends, and drinks entirely too much tea while discussing life’s finer points with her cats.

She is the #1 New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of the STALKING JACK THE RIPPER quartet.

Happy Birthday to Me!

Yesterday was my birthday.

I am now, officially, 33.

Wild, man! It’s so crazy how it seems time flies. Didn’t I just graduate HS yesterday? (Clearly not; that was 2005!!) It’s just amusing how sometimes I feel my age or younger. Does anyone else feel that? Or am I rambling? (Totally rambling, sorry!) But sometimes, I feel so much older. Since I took a tumble the other day (long story), my knee has been sore and I feel about 90. However, I’m optimistic that I can make 33 be awesome. I feel like it’s going to be a good year.

So as usual, I went to Books-A-Million where I went a little wild, but it’s the only time where I don’t feel regret spending. I am going to drop two words that make a world of difference. Bargain Bin. I would never be able to shop like I do without a Bargain section. Sometimes you find absolute gems in there. People laugh at me, but that’s where I always go first. (In all stores, in hindsight.) Once I am done, if I have enough, I look at the newer releases. I also recommend that if you can afford it and your store offers a membership deal, that you grab it up. The discount and coupons always make it worth it.

Ready? Okay, here we go! Here’s the loot!

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I know the titles may be slightly difficult to read, so I’ll list them here, except for the Michelle Obama book, which is just a photographic journey through her life. And the Panic! At The Disco album is just a record. 😀 I love vinyl records and since I had a coupon…I went for it. Here are all the book titles.

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That’s not my handwriting, in case you were wondering. It is pretty close though! ❤

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I would absolutely love to thank whoever sent me this copy of Spin the Dawn. There wasn’t a note, so it was totally anonymous, and all I’d really like is to say THANK YOU to whoever sent it. This will have to do though, so I hope my book faerie is reading this post. ❤️ Thank you to my friend Charles for sending Five Dark Fates and Capturing the Devil! The wait is rather irritating (I’m impatient, but he well knows this.) but I am doing my best. This has been a lovely birthday, truly!

Moreover, I want to thank YOU, my dear reader, for making this adventure in blogging what it is. If it weren’t for you, I don’t imagine this would be half as fun. I do wish you guys would interact more. I have Twitter, you can comment here, I’m on FB…I love to hear from you and to hear what you’d like to see.

I am going to try and be better about posting, so we’ll see what happens. I seem to hit a mid-summer slump and then have no inclination to read or post. I don’t know why that is, but I hope it improves. I have a lot of reading to do! Haha. I’m also excited because next month I’ll get to tell you about my first book signing ever. I’ll be meeting the six authors of RIbbons of Scarlet and I’m just over the moon in my excitement. I hope to get a picture with all six!

But more on that later on. For now…be good to one another and I’ll write soon. ❤

Tour Stop: Tiger Queen!

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I’ve been excitedly keeping this one quiet, because I’ve heard a great many friends want to read it, and I have, but I didn’t want to spoil it. But now I get to share with you lovely folks and I’m thrilled that I get to do so! It was such a good read. A bit quick, but very good. You should check out the other Tour Stops and enter the Giveaway! (<–Do it!!)
Now…let me get you acquainted…

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  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Blink
  • Publish Date: September 10, 2019

From Annie Sullivan, author of A Touch of Gold, comes Tiger Queen, a sweeping YA fantasy adventure that tells the story of a fierce desert princess battling to save her kingdom. Fans of Rebel of the Sands and Meagan Spooner will devour this retelling of Frank Stockton’s famous short story, “The Lady, or the Tiger?”

In the mythical desert kingdom of Achra, an ancient law forces sixteen-year-old Princess Kateri to fight in the arena to prove her right to rule. For Kateri, winning also means fulfilling a promise to her late mother that she would protect her people, who are struggling through windstorms and drought. The situation is worsened by the gang of Desert Boys that frequently raid the city wells, forcing the king to ration what little water is left. The punishment for stealing water is a choice between two doors: behind one lies freedom, and behind the other is a tiger.

But when Kateri’s final opponent is announced, she knows she cannot win. In desperation, she turns to the desert and the one person she never thought she’d side with. What Kateri discovers twists her world—and her heart—upside down. Her future is now behind two doors—only she’s not sure which holds the key to keeping her kingdom and which releases the tiger.

I was very intrigued about this story just from the blurb above and when the opportunity came to review, I jumped on it. Ms. Sullivan’s prose is a joy; she understands that this is a retelling and keeps true to that, but she also embraces world and character building, drawing you in entirely. I read this in a few hours, which is quite the feat, as I’ve been in somewhat of a slump lately. I loved Kateri, even though when we first meet her, she’s about to jump into the arena and cut someone down. She’s a strong character, one who you think at first, ‘Oh geez. Hothead teenager.‘ However, she’s far more than that. She’s complex and layered, put into situations that at sixteen, none of us would ever have dreamed of.

Little do we know, of course, that the odds are beyond stacked against her. Fortunately, she’s a girl with a brain and the gumption to want to defy them. Initially, it is for her mother’s memory, but it becomes more because she sees and knows that the people need a change. With the drought that is plaguing them, water is scarce. A gang of outlaw boys keeps stealing more than the allotted two buckets a day. If Kateri wants to be Queen, she’s going to have a lot on her shoulders. Is she strong enough? Or will she be relegated to marrying some foolish man who is more interested in being a king for the wealth and power it’ll bring to them? Are the Desert Boys what they all think? Is everything as it seems?

Rife with tradition and rich, vivid descriptions, along with a really vibrant cast of characters from all manner of backgrounds, This is definitely a fantastic book with a valuable lesson at the end.

Four stars for sure!


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AnnieSullivan-PhotoAnnie Sullivan grew up in Indianapolis, Indiana. She received her Master’s degree in Creative Writing from Butler University. She loves fairytales, everything Jane Austen, and traveling. Her wanderlust has taken her to every continent, where she’s walked on the Great Wall of China, found four-leaf clovers in Ireland, waddled with penguins in Antarctica, and cage dived with great white sharks in South Africa. You can follow her adventures on Twitter (@annsulliva) or on her blog: anniesullivanauthor.wordpress.com.

Four little lessons…

Tomorrow is…my 33rd birthday. I feel old in comparison to some of you bloggers, you’re so young. But I think it’s marvelous to see such passion for books and reading in you. Be it e-book or physical copies, I don’t judge how you read, so long as you are reading. I am ‘old’ enough to impart some wisdom…and so…I shall.

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Every. Single. Time. And I insist too to my therapist. *Sigh*Don’t ever let anyone shame you for loving reading. Everyone has something that they love and can’t live without. For some of us, that’s reading and it always will be. There’s something about opening a book (or turning on an e-reader) and finding worlds within pages that is so utterly delicious. The characters, the wondering what their motives are, the intrigue, the…you get it. Don’t ever be ashamed. And honestly, apply this to anything that you really like.  Also…I find that a lot of people seem to agree because as the graphic there shows…lol. I mean, this sums a lot of us up, doesn’t it?

Example, I love Funko Pops. I have no more room for them, but I love them. Some might say I’m too old for them, but hey, I like them! I’m not ashamed of that. If I ever have more room…probably going to grab a bunch.

People also try to tell me it’s creepy that I say Beauty and the Beast is my favorite movie,
but again…not listening.

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Genre-Shaming. Not cool. I admit it. I’ve done it. And I felt like a huge creep afterward, so I apologized. I may not enjoy the same things as everyone else, but I have no ground to stand on. It is not, nor will it ever be, my place to tell you that you shouldn’t enjoy a genre of books. I don’t shame people for liking Fifty Shades, for example. (I confess that I awkward eye people who think Christian Gray isn’t abusive though.) If you want to read erotica–do it! Want to read YA? Go for it! There are a million amazing books (far more than a million, I’m sure) out there. Pick something and give it a go!

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Ageism and Sexism. This annoys me. I’m told that because I’m 33 I should let go of YA 25 Hilarious Memes Just for Big Readers and Book Lovers #bookmemes #readingmemes #funnypics #booklovers #booksbooks. I’ve discussed this before and I’m gonna say it again. I enjoy what I enjoy. YA books are nothing like the books I read growing up. There’s just so much more to them than I ever expected. They’re literally out here saving the world or toppling corrupt governments. Give me that! Also, stop saying to those of us who are older that we’re too old for this. No one is too old to have an opinion on books, y’know? (Or anything, really.) Also–sexism. If a man wants to blog about books or make-up or anything he wants….stop dragging them. There aren’t a lot of male bloggers that I’ve seen, which is a pity, given the amount of talent out there. I read that some men feel that their opinions just aren’t welcomed. A reader is a reader.

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Be Kind. This is just a simple one. Apply to all facets of life. You never know what someone is going through. A smile, a kind word…anything like that might just change their day. It costs nothing to be kind. Sometimes the reward comes back tenfold, sometimes there is no reward more than just a smile back. The world needs more love and kindness; far less vitriol and cruelty.

 

History’s Forgotten Victims (Gill Paul Guest Post!)

History’s Forgotten Victims
by: Gill Paul.
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History is scattered with events in which the deaths of ‘ordinary people’ are overshadowed because someone famous was involved.

In an extreme example, the first headlines in US newspapers after the Titanic sank in 1912 focused on the death of millionaire John Jacob Astor and only mentioned as an aside that 1,500 other people had perished.

Jacqueline Kennedy was always careful to remember police officer J.D. Tippit, who was shot and killed by Lee Harvey Oswald when he pulled over his car 45 minutes after the assassination of her husband, the President. She compared her grief with that of Tippit’s widow. But the entire media focus was on Mrs. Kennedy in her black veil, clutching the hands of their two young children, while Marie Tippit and her three children mourned in private.

When there is a plane crash or a tsunami, a forest fire or a massacre, news editors’ first response is to find out whether anyone famous was involved, and history books often follow their lead.

I would like to redress the balance in one particular instance by writing about the four devoted servants who died with the Romanovs in July 1918, shot and bayonetted to death in a grimy Ekaterinburg basement. Their names were Dr. Eugene Botkin, Anna Demidova, Alexei Trupp and Ivan Kharitonov.

BotkinES.jpgAppointed in 1908, Botkin was the most devoted physician any royal family could wish for. He treated Alexei for the complications of haemophilia and was endlessly patient with Alexandra’s countless ailments, both real and imagined. He was married with four children but his devotion to the Romanovs caused the breakdown of his marriage. After the death of two of his sons in the First World War, he became increasingly religious and felt it was his earthly duty to continue to look after his royal charges once they were under house arrest, although he was several times given the option of leaving. He was in the middle of writing a prophetic last letter – “I am dead, but not yet buried” – when Yurovsky, the commander of the guards, knocked on his door at midnight on the 16th of July 1918 and asked that he tell the family to dress and prepare to leave. Botkin stood close to Nicholas in the basement and took bullets to the head, spine, and pelvis that killed him more or less straight away.

Anna Demidova.jpgAnna Demidova’s father was a wealthy merchant and she was introduced to the Romanov household in 1905 by a friend who already worked there. She was a tall blonde woman with blue eyes, who had suffered disappointments in love. She got engaged to her friend’s brother while in service, but for one reason or another it didn’t work out. Next, she had a crush on the Romanov girls’ English tutor Charles Sydney Gibbes – who was homosexual. She became indispensable to Alexandra during their period of house arrest, looking after her clothes and personal possessions, writing letters for her and doling out her various medicines. When they were ordered down to the basement, Anna was carrying two pillows with metal boxes containing some of the family’s jewels hidden inside. She was hit in the leg during the opening volley of shots and fainted. When she came round and saw Yurovsky and another of the killers, Ermakov, she cried “Thank God! God has saved me!” Ermakov raised his bayonet to slash her and she caught its blade in her hands, gripping on tightly till she was so badly wounded she could hold no more and he finished her off with brutality.

Alexei Trupp had served as a colonel in the Russian Army before joining the Romanov household as a footman. He was extremely tall and strong, capable of carrying little haemophiliac Alexei with ease. His devotion to the Romanovs knew no bounds: he requested that he be allowed to follow them to the Ipatiev House, even signing a document in which he consented to be treated as a prisoner of the Ural Soviet. He brought with him Alexei’s spaniel, Joy, the third of the three dogs that joined them in captivity (the others were Tatiana’s French bulldog, Ortipo, and Anastasia’s spaniel Jemmy). When the firing started Trupp was hit first in the leg before a second bullet in the side of the head killed him outright.

Ivan Kharitonov was married, with a young daughter, when the Romanovs were arrested. He brought his wife and child along to Tobolsk, where they spent the winter of 1917-18, but left them behind in April when he accompanied the former royals to Ekaterinburg, presumably with some inkling that it could be dangerous. Food was scarce at the Ipatiev House and they were dependent on charity from outside, but he usually managed to make Alexandra’s habitual meal of macaroni and he taught the grand duchesses how to bake bread. He was struck by several bullets in the first volley of firing on the night of 16th/17th July and died instantly.

Each of them had their own tragic story; two of them left children, who went on to have grandchildren. All four were canonised by the Russian Orthodox Church in the 1990s. All four were heroes. But while the Romanovs’ story is the stuff of legend, few remember their servants’ names today.

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The Lost Daughter (A Spotlight!)

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  • Paperback: 496 pages
  • Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks
  • Publish Date: August 27, 2019

    If you loved I Am Anastasia by Ariel Lawhon you won’t want to miss this novel about her sister, Grand Duchess Maria. What really happened to this lost Romanov daughter? A new novel perfect for anyone curious about Anastasia, Maria, and the other lost Romanov daughters, by the author of The Secret Wife.

    1918: Pretty, vivacious Grand Duchess Maria Romanov, the nineteen-year-old daughter of the fallen Tsar Nicholas II, lives with her family in suffocating isolation, a far cry from their once-glittering royal household. Her days are a combination of endless boredom and paralyzing fear; her only respite are clandestine flirtations with a few of the guards imprisoning the family—never realizing her innocent actions could mean the difference between life and death

    1973: When Val Doyle hears her father’s end-of-life confession, “I didn’t want to kill her,” she’s stunned. So, she begins a search for the truth—about his words and her past. The clues she discovers are baffling—a jewel-encrusted box that won’t open and a camera with its film intact. What she finds out pulls Val into one of the world’s greatest mysteries—what truly happened to the Grand Duchess Maria?

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    “In The Lost Daughter, [Gill Paul] has woven a heart-wrenching love story with a gripping historical mystery. This story is so real and compelling that you are there in the past and present all the way.” (Karen Harper, New York Times bestselling author of American Duchess)

    “Fascinating! Gill Paul captures this family and this period of history so vividly. Such a wonderful book!” (Hazel Gaynor, author of The Girl Who Came Home and The Lighthouse Keeper’s Daughter)

    “A remarkable novel…I loved Maria’s courage in the face of revolution and war, and adored her fierce determination to protect her family. The history is fascinating, the love story passionate and the characters moving.” (Natasha Lester, international bestselling author of The Paris Seamstress)

    “Riveting…At once richly descriptive and mysterious, Gill Paul demonstrates her extraordinary talents in this deeply affecting tale of war, forgiveness, and family legacy.” (Heather Webb, internationally bestselling author of Meet Me in Monaco & Last Christmas in Paris)

    “This epic story is so engrossing that readers will have difficulty putting it down.” (Publishers Weekly)

    “Bold and powerful, filled with emotion, tension and vivid characters in a setting that is rich in historical detail.” (Kate Furnivall, author of The Survivors)

    2Gill PaulGill Paul is an author of historical fiction, specializing in relatively recent history. She has written two novels about the last Russian royal family: The Secret Wife, published in 2016, which tells the story of cavalry officer Dmitri Malama and Grand Duchess Tatiana, the second daughter of Russia’s last tsar; and The Lost Daughter, published in October 2018, that tells of the attachment Grand Duchess Maria formed with a guard in the house in Ekaterinburg where the family was held from April to July 1918.

    Gill’s other novels include Another Woman’s Husband, about links you may not have been aware of between Wallis Simpson, later Duchess of Windsor, and Diana, Princess of Wales; Women and Children First, about a young steward who works on the TitanicThe Affair, set in Rome in 1961–62 as Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton fall in love while making Cleopatra; and No Place for a Lady, about two Victorian sisters who travel out to the Crimean War of 1854–56 and face challenges beyond anything they could have imagined.

 

Cover Reveal: Dreamland!

Dreamland by Nancy Bilyeau

Publication Date: January 16, 2020
Endeavor Quill
Genre: Historical Fiction
The year is 1911 when twenty-year-old heiress Peggy Batternberg is invited to spend the summer in America’s Playground.

But the invitation to Coney Island is unwelcome. Despite hailing from one of America’s richest families, Peggy would much rather spend the summer at the Moonrise Bookstore where she works voluntarily, than keeping up appearances with Brooklyn socialites and her snobbish, controlling family.

But soon it transpires that the hedonism of Coney Island affords Peggy more of the freedom she has been longing for. For one, she finds herself in love with a troubled pier-side artist of humble means, whom the Batternberg patriarchs would surely disapprove of.

Disapprove they may, but hidden behind their pomposity lurks a web of deceit, betrayal and deadly secrets. And as bodies begin to mount up amidst the sweltering clamour of Coney Island, it seems the powerful Batternbergs can get away with anything…even murder.s

It is up to Peggy to overcome the oppression of her family and clear the name of her vulnerable lover, before she or her beloved sister become the next victims of Dreamland.

Extravagant, intoxicating and thumping with suspense, bestselling Nancy Bilyeau’s magnificent Dreamland is a story of corruption, class and dangerous obsession.

About the Author

“Dreamland” is Nancy Bilyeau’s fifth novel of historical suspense. She is the author of the best-selling historical thriller “The Blue” and the Tudor mystery series “The Crown,” “The Chalice,” and “The Tapestry,” on sale in nine countries.

Nancy is a magazine editor who has lived in the United States and Canada. She studied History and English Literature at the University of Michigan. After moving to New York City, she worked on the staffs of “InStyle,” “Good Housekeeping,” and “Rolling Stone.” She is currently the deputy editor of the Center on Media, Crime and Justice at the Research Foundation of CUNY and a regular contributing writer to “Town & Country” and “Mystery Scene Magazine.”

Nancy’s mind is always in past centuries but she currently lives with her husband and two children in Forest Hills in the borough of Queens. “Dreamland” is her first novel set in her adopted hometown of New York City.

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Cover Reveal Schedule

Monday, August 19
A Bookish Affair
Gwendalyn’s Books
What Is That Book About

Tuesday, August 20
Clarissa Reads it All
Just One More Chapter
Books In Their Natural Habitat

Wednesday, August 21
Unabridged Chick
Donna’s Book Blog
Let Them Read Books

Thursday, August 22
A Book Geek
The Lit Bitch
Tar Heel Reader
Kris Waldherr Art & Words

Friday, August 23
I’m All About Books
Lost_in_a_book_reviewer
Historical Fiction with Spirit

Saturday, August 24
Broken Teepee
Passages to the Past
Locks, Hooks and Books

Sunday, August 25
A Darn Good Read
Orange County Readers
So Many Books, So Little Time

Monday, August 26
Coffee and Ink
Jessica Belmont
Maiden of the Pages

 

Kiersten White fans…

Buffy fans, rejoice!

Kiersten White fans, rejoice!

The Slayerverse lives on with her second in the Slayer series. I don’t have preorder links, but I’ll update when I do. I’m also posting from my phone, so I hope this looks okay. 🙂 Still, I was excited and wanted to share. Please enjoy!

And…be careful out there. You never know what creeps about in the dark. 😉

  • Series: Slayer (Book 2)
  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Simon Pulse
  • Publish Date: January 7, 2020

“Will get Buffy fans up in their feels.” —Entertainment Weekly on Slayer

Nina continues to learn how to use her slayer powers against enemies old and new in this second novel in the New York Times bestselling series from Kiersten White, set in the world of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

Now that Nina has turned the Watcher’s Castle into a utopia for hurt and lonely demons, she’s still waiting for the utopia part to kick in. With her sister Artemis gone and only a few people remaining at the castle—including her still-distant mother—Nina has her hands full. Plus, though she gained back her Slayer powers from Leo, they’re not feeling quite right after being held by the seriously evil succubus Eve, a.k.a. fake Watcher’s Council member and Leo’s mom.

And while Nina is dealing with the darkness inside, there’s also a new threat on the outside, portended by an odd triangle symbol that seems to be popping up everywhere, in connection with Sean’s demon drug ring as well as someone a bit closer to home. Because one near-apocalypse just isn’t enough, right?

The darkness always finds you. And once again, it’s coming for the Slayer.

2Kiersten White is the New York Times bestselling author of many books for teens and young readers, including And I DarkenNow I RiseBright We BurnThe Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein, and Slayer. She lives with her family near the ocean in San Diego, where she perpetually lurks in the shadows. Visit Kiersten online at KierstenWhite.com and follow @KierstenWhite on Twitter.