You like me! You really like me!

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I was nominated by ER @Literary Tea for The Sunshine Blogger Award! Thank you so much! Please be sure to head over to her blog and give it a follow! ❤


So what is The Sunshine Blogger Award?

The Sunshine Blogger Award is given to bloggers who are creative, positive, and inspiring. Once nominated, the blogger is required to write a post in which they:

  • Thank the blogger who nominated them and link back to their blog.
  • Answer the 11 questions asked by the blogger who nominated them.
  • Nominate 11 other blogs and give them 11 new questions to answer.
  • Notify your nominees and display the Sunshine Blogger Award in your post.

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ER’s Questions! 

What is the one thing that you don’t like about Blogging?

One thing I don’t like is the days where I am inspired to blog, but I can’t seem to get the words out right. I’ll spend hours trying before I give up, frustrated.

Describe your reading nook.

My reading nook is the corner of my bedroom. I have one large bookcase and a smaller one. I’m expecting another to arrive soon–a belated birthday gift. I’m pretty sure that it’ll be filled up soon! Haha. I have an old desk chair but i need to replace it, as it’s very uncomfortable.

Have you ever given a really bad rating to a book? How did you feel about it?

I have. When I was first blogging; I didn’t have much in the way of a filter, and I lambasted this one book. I don’t remember the name of it now, but I remember being extremely honest and frank in how I felt about it.  I felt good at the time but I look back and I realise I probably came off as an ass. I didn’t offer any constructive criticism, so it was a bad review.

How do you juggle your responsibilities and commitments with blogging and reading?

I don’t have much in the way of responsibilities, but I admit, I read a lot at night, when I’m going to bed. Unfortunately, a few more pages always ends up the entire bloody book! It’s not always bad, but when I’m a zombie the following day, I kind of regret it.

Would you rather party or read?
Read. I’m very uncomfortable at parties, unless it’s with family and then it’s better because I know the people there. I hate the awkwardness of parties where I don’t know anyone.

Which fictional character would you marry?
Oh wow. This a hard one! But I think I would pick Rhett Butler. I know it’s a peculiar choice to some, but ever since I was a little girl, people have joked that I’m just like Scarlett O’Hara. So I expect that a marriage to Rhett would be fun. Unlike Miss O’Hara, there’s no Ashley Wilkes to distract me from Rhett.

What are the qualities that make a book stand-out?

Well, I am shallow. I love a pretty cover. If it catches my eye, then I’m quite interested. But for me, a good book is one that makes me feel like I’m right in the midst of all the action, I love descriptions; good detailed ones. I love vibrant characters. I want hours to go by when I think it’s only been a few minutes.

What would be the one question you would ask your favourite author? Name the author.

Did Scarlett and Rhett get back together?! –Margaret Mitchell

Suggest a book for your father.

I’m adopted and I don’t know anything about my father, including who he is.

Which character do you identify with the most?

Well, I’m torn between Scarlett O’Hara and Jo March. There’s a rebellious and stubborn streak in me, one that no one has ever been able to break. I’ve always known what I wanted (or what I thought I wanted) and I’ve been bullheaded, stopping at nothing to get my way. My family is important to me and there’s really nothing that I wouldn’t do for them, which is a trait that both young women have. I feel a kinship with Jo because of my love of writing, but I’ve always felt a bit like Scarlett personality wise.

Of course, I identify heavily with Belle from Beauty and the Beast, but I think everyone knows that about me!

Give two pieces of advice to your future blogging self.

Be patient. The words will come when they’re ready and not a moment before. Forcing them only makes them sound terrible and everyone else can tell that they’re forced.

Stay passionate. If you feel the love fading, take a step back. Take a break. Reconnect with your love and then start over, but not until you feel ready to do so. Else you’ll burn out and then rage quit again.

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My Questions!

  1. What is your all time favorite children’s book?
  2. You have the opportunity to have dinner with three authors–living or dead. Who do you pick and why?
  3. What is your favorite classic novel?
  4. What is the worst book to movie adaptation, in your opinion?
  5. What is the best book to movie adaptation, in your opinion?
  6. If you could trade places with any character, who would you chose and why?
  7. What is your favorite book?
  8. If you could cast any actor/actress to play your favorite characters, who would you choose and why?
  9. What is a book that you absolutely hate?
  10. What’s your favorite way to read? (Like, on a rainy day? In bed? Et cetera.)
  11. What is your favorite genre and why?

page-separatorMy Nominees!

Paige @ BooksNBelle
Kris Marie @ Boston Book Reader
Andrea @ 17th Century Lady
Rachel 
Jenniely
Cleo
Jenny @ Jenny in Neverland

I would have picked 11 of you; but my computer is being slow as hell. -_- And I haven’t gotten to interact with that many of you yet!

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Happy Belated Birthday to Me!

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196ac33352fbce181858e471b1cb51f6I’m newly 31! I celebrated my 31st on the 9th, but I didn’t really get to celebrate since Hurricane Irma decided to come visit. It was pretty lousy but I feel very lucky since my area was spared mostly. There are a lot of tree branches down, but beyond that, my family and I were very lucky. We didn’t lose power or anything at all. If that was my birthday gift from the universe, I feel highly appreciative. I fully intend on donating to help others who weren’t as fortunate and  if you can, please do. The damage is extraordinary and it will take a long time before things are ‘normal’ again, if they ever are.

Now, if you’ve followed me for a long time, you’ll know that I visit Books-A-Million for a bit of a shopping spree. I only got to go yesterday, which coincidentally would have been my great-Grandmother’s 116th birthday. (She was also a voracious reader, so it was fitting! I joked that I was celebrating for the both of us.) We wanted to make sure that we could get gas and such, which thankfully, we are able to.

Below are the pictures of my ‘loot’, as I call it. You can click on the images to enlarge them. I actually only got two or three historical fiction books, the rest are more on the fantasy/young adult side.

I’ll give you a pointer, because you’re probably thinking, “Holy crap, how much did you spend?!” Hit the Bargain Section! You can find such gems in there. Most of the books there, I found in Bargain. I think a lot of people turn their noses up, looking for the newest releases and such, which don’t get me wrong, I get it! But I don’t mind reading books that are several years old. If it’s a series, fantastic! Then I can work on collecting it and not drop a fortune to do so. 

Have you guys read any of these? What are your thoughts on them?

I didn’t realise this was signed until I got in the car–that was a pleasant surprise! It was the last one that I saw too, so maybe the Amazons were smiling down upon me, haha.IMG_20170915_163909[1]

Until my next post–stay safe if you’re in an area where storms are headed (Jose, Lee and Maria! Go away already!) and be sweet to each other!

 

Blog Tour: The Twilight Empress!

Twilight Empress: A Novel of Imperial Rome
by Faith L. Justice

Publication Date: May 12, 2017
Raggedy Moon Books
eBook & Print; 392 Pages

Series: The Theodosian Women, Book 1
Genre: Fiction/Historical/Action & Adventure

 

 

Twilight Empress tells the little-known story of a remarkable woman—Galla Placidia, sister to one of the last Roman Emperors. Roman princess, Gothic captive and queen—Placidia does the unthinkable—she rules the failing Western Roman Empire—a life of ambition, power and intrigue she doesn’t seek, but can’t refuse. Her actions shape the face of Western Europe for centuries.

A woman as well as an Empress, Placidia suffers love, loss, and betrayal. Can her strength, tenacity and ambition help her survive and triumph over scheming generals, rebellious children, and Attila the Hun? Or will the Dark Ages creep closer and bring down the Empire?

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Amazon US | Amazon CAN | Amazon UK | Barnes and Noble | iBooks | IndieBound | Kobo

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Faith L. Justice is a science geek and history junkie, which is reflected in her writing. Her short stories and poems have appeared in such publications as “The Copperfield Review”, “Beyond Science Fiction and Fantasy”, and the “Circles in the Hair” anthology. Faith has published in such venues as “Salon.com”, “Writer’s Digest”, “The Writer”, and “Bygone Days”. She’s an Associate Editor for “Space & Time Magazine”, a frequent contributor to “Strange Horizons”, and co-founded a writer’s workshop more years ago than she cares to admit.

To contact Faith, read her essays and interviews, or get a sneak preview of her historical novels, visit her website at www.faithljustice.com. You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.

Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, September 11
Review at 100 Pages a Day

Tuesday, September 12
Feature at The Hungry Bookworm
Guest Post at Myths, Legends, Books & Coffee Pots

Wednesday, September 13
Review at Book Drunkard

Thursday, September 14
Feature at The Reading Queen

Friday, September 15
Review & Excerpt at Clarissa Reads it All

Monday, September 18
Review at Creating Herstory

Tuesday, September 19
Review at The Muse in the Fog Reviews

Wednesday, September 20
Guest Post & Giveaway at The Muse in the Fog Reviews

Thursday, September 21
Feature at A Holland Reads

Friday, September 22
Review at Book Nerd

Monday, September 25
Review at So Many Books, So Little Time
Review & Excerpt at Locks, Hooks and Books

Tuesday, September 26
Feature at The True Book Addict

Wednesday, September 27
Review at Pursuing Stacie
Review & Giveaway at What Cathy Read Next

Friday, September 29
Review at Bookramblings
Feature at CelticLady’s Reviews

Monday, October 2
Review at History From a Woman’s Perspective

Tuesday, October 3
Review at Svetlana’s Reads and Views

Wednesday, October 4
Interview & Giveaway at Passages to the Past

Thursday, October 5
Review at A Bookish Affair

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In this day and age, particularly in this political climate, we don’t seem to get to appreciate the ladies out there changing the world. I think we’ve learned that politics is still a very male, old boys club. To be a woman and to break barriers is amazing. But we also take advantage of the knowledge that women can run, they can have positions of power. Back in the day–and I mean, way back, women couldn’t run. They were essentially encouraged to marry well, run the household and bear children. The prospects for a woman were not the best. Even high born women had to endure limitations.

Our main character, Placedia, is fierce. There’s no getting around that. So if you like a strong woman, you’re going to love her. Granted, women weren’t really allowed to rule in their own right, but if it weren’t for her, Rome would have fallen apart. Even when captured, her strength and patience were legendary, in my opinion. Rather than planning an escape, she learned from the Goths and used this knowledge in life. She also gained their respect, married and forged a life there until her brother saw it as a political move by the Goths.

In a world where men dominate everything, she was a joy to read about and to learn about. It follows Placedia from being a young woman to her death; so you do learn what becomes of her and of her life. Though a fictional adaptation, one does get a sense and feeling of who Placedia really was. This one of those novels where I remember why I love historical fiction as much as I do.  Rich and full of detail, but never boring, The Twilight Empress is an absolute delight to read and I can’t wait for the next in the series.

This is truly a sumptuous treat for bookworms and historical fiction lovers.

I’d give it ★★★★★ stars.

Additional Notes:

  • I received a copy of this in exchange for my fair and honest review.
  • would recommend this to a friend. 100%!

Excerpt: Twilight Empress

35225725TWILIGHT EMPRESS: A NOVEL OF IMPERIAL ROME

(EXCERPT)

CHAPTER 1

ROME, AUGUST 410

GOD’S BLOOD, I’M TIRED.

Placidia put the parchment down, closed her eyes, and rubbed her temples in a futile attempt to ease her headache. She had had little sleep the night before, and less to eat, as she worked with the city elders to avert this most recent crisis. With the Visigoths at the gates of Rome for the third time in three years, the city was exhausted—little food, few defenders, and no hope of rescue from the Imperial Court, which was safe behind the protecting marshes of Ravenna. At twenty-two, she should have been safely married, raising children; not picking up the pieces of an empire dropped from the careless hands of her half-brother, the Emperor Honorius.

“Treason and betrayal, Mistress!”

The urgency in Paulus’ gruff voice drove all tiredness from her body. Nothing chilled her blood as much as the cry of ‘treason.’ The word summoned unwanted images of her adopted sister Serena, struggling against the executioner’s garrote, and Serena’s husband Stilicho’s head on a pike. The unwarranted death of the two people who raised her had precipitated her flight from the Ravenna court and her estrangement from her brother.

Placidia took a deep breath and steadied her hands.

“What treason?” She managed a calm voice despite her racing heart.

“Someone opened the Salarian Gate. The barbarians are in the streets. We must flee to safety.”

Placidia chewed her lower lip, rapidly forming and discarding options to save her household. There were rules to sacking a city, and Placidia hoped King Alaric would abide by them. One of those rules provided sanctuary in Christian churches. The Gothic King was purportedly a devout Christian, if of the Arian heresy.

“What are your orders, Mistress?” The light of battle gleamed in Paulus’ eyes. A Vandal soldier wounded in Stilicho’s service, he had been with her since she was a child.

“Deploy my personal guards at the bottom of the hill. Take the rest of the servants to the Basilica of St. Peter immediately and claim sanctuary. I’ll come with the guards as soon as I destroy these documents.”

Placidia grabbed the nearest of several piles of parchment—letters of support; reports on food and supplies throughout the Empire—and laid them in an unlit bronze brazier. She would give the enemy no helpful information. Her hands trembled as she poured oil on the papers and lit them from her lamp. Smoke curled from the parchment, irritating her eyes.

“I’ll send the servants away, Princess, but do not ask me to leave you alone. I’ve seen my share of sacked cities.”

“I want you to go with the servants, Paulus.”

His face set in a familiar stubborn cast.

“I don’t have time to argue. What can a crippled old man do here?”

The stubborn look gave way to one of hurt pride.

Placidia softened her tone. “I have lost all whom I love in the past two years. The man and woman who were more to me than father and mother, my cousins, my…betrothed.” Her voice caught. “I have no wish to lose the one person left from my past. I care for you, my friend, and want to see you safe.”

“Do you think I care less for you?” Paulus’ eyes glittered with unshed tears. “You are the last of my lord’s household. I am bound to you by oath and blood.”

Screams echoed down the colonnade, accompanied by splintering wood and crashing crockery. Placidia froze like a rabbit before a snake. My people are lost. The raiders must have ridden hard and fast to get to the palace so soon.

Paulus grabbed the small knife Placidia used to break the wax seals on her letters, and rushed toward the door. “Come, Princess, we will go to the oratory. Perhaps they will honor sanctuary there.”

Placidia shook her head. “If King Alaric wants me dead, the chapel won’t shelter me. If he wants me alive, perhaps I can extend that privilege to my household by being bold rather than timid.”

A scream, choked off in the middle, sent Paulus through the door at a limping run. Placidia piled the rest of the papers onto the blaze and dashed out after him.

She faltered at the scene. Normally, the central garden with its splashing nymphaeum was a soothing refuge from the heat of the August sun. Now a cadre of at least fifty Gothic warriors systematically herded the palace servants into the leafy refuge, releasing the scent of lavender and rosemary as their leather-clad feet trampled herbs and flowers. They used the flats of their swords, sometimes striking a lagging slave, to push them into a tight knot of gibbering humanity.

Unlike the wildly varying dress and armor of most barbarian warriors, these wore more or less matching knee-length green tunics trimmed with scarlet at the neck and hem. Most also sported mail shirts and Roman-style helmets—rare, these days, even among Roman troops.

At least King Alaric sent an elite corps to take me.

One warrior spied her under the colonnade and rushed forward, grinning.

Paulus jumped in front of the man, threatening him with the letter knife. “Don’t touch her! She’s the…”

The barbarian brushed the knife aside with a sweep of his arm and struck Paulus with the silvered hilt of his sword.

The old man sank to the ground, senseless or dead, a large gash bleeding profusely on his forehead.

Placidia stalked into the garden, back rigid, face pale.

“Stop at once!” Her voice pierced the scene, turning it momentarily into a tableau.

The advancing warrior bared his teeth and said, in execrable Latin, “Roman woman not a mouse—more my liking.”

“I am Princess Galla Placidia, sister of Emperor Honorius, daughter of Emperor Theodosius the Great, Granddaughter of Emperor Valentinian. On pain of death, I demand you leave us in peace.”

The barbarian hesitated, confusion clouding his eyes.

Placidia suppressed an inappropriate smile. Her impressive list of relationships didn’t square with her ink-stained fingers, plain blue linen gown, and unadorned curly brown hair.

“Leave her, Berig.” A commanding voice rose from among the warriors.

A red-haired barbarian muscled his way through the pack. She had not seen him because he stood half a head shorter than most of his companions. He looked her over speculatively.

“You have the bearing of a royal, if not the accouterments.” He motioned to the slaves nearest them. “Is this your mistress?”

To their credit, they all looked to Placidia before answering. She nodded permission.

Watching the by-play, the warrior said, “I commend you on your servants, Princess. They are most loyal.” He smiled, showing white, even teeth in a tanned face framed by a red beard. Lines gathered at the corners of his green eyes. “I am Ataulf, General and Master of King Alaric’s cavalry.”

The Gothic King honors me by sending his heir and second-in-command. “General.” Placidia drew her slender form into a commanding pose. “Have these…men…vacate my residence at once.”

“We will leave shortly, Princess. King Alaric sent me to escort you to our camp. You are to be the guest of the King and the Gothic people.”

“Do not pretty the package, sir. I am a hostage. For what other reason would you force me from my home?” She waved her right arm in a sweeping arc. “You strip Rome and seek to squeeze additional treasure from my brother.”

“King Alaric recognizes your…value.”

His hesitation hinted at deeper motives for her detainment. Perhaps Alaric wished more than gold from her estranged brother. And little will he get—gold or otherwise—from that lack-wit.

 

He’s there…! The Phantom of the Opera!

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I’m absolutely delighted to be able to share the cover of Heather Webb’s new novel! I’ve hosted her here before and I am looking forward to doing so again. Keep your eyes peeled for more info! Coming out on 6th February 2018, I present to you…

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In this re-imagining of Phantom of the Opera, meet a Christine Daaé you’ve never seen before…

Christine faces an impossible choice: be a star at the Paris opera as Papa always wanted, or follow her dream—to become a master of illusions. First, she must steal the secrets of the enigmatic master who haunts her, survive a world of treachery and murder, and embrace the uncertain promise of love. To succeed, she will risk her life in the grandest illusion of all.

 

“Webb combines music and magic seamlessly in The Phantom’s Apprentice, weaving glittering new threads into the fabric of a classic story. Romantic, suspenseful and inventive, this novel sweeps you along to its breathless conclusion.” — Greer Macallister, USA Today bestselling author of The Magician’s Lie and Girl in Disguise

“A performance worthy of the Paris Opera…Christine’s evolution from ‘damsel in distress’ to self-reliant woman is masterfully done, hooking the reader from the first page. Webb’s work is immersive, well-crafted, and beautifully paced. A must-read!”–Aimie K. Runyan, author of Daughters of the Night Sky

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When Josephine Bonaparte appeared to Heather in a dream, she switched gears from Heather  Webbfun-loving high school teacher to author & history nerd, all for the love of books.

To date, her historical novels have sold in ten countries, received national starred reviews, and been featured in print media including the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, Cosmo, Elle, and more. RODIN’S LOVER was chosen as a Goodread’s Pick in 2015.

Forthcoming, LAST CHRISTMAS IN PARIS, is an epistolary love story set during WWI which she co-wrote with NYT bestseller Hazel Gaynor. It releases Oct 3, 2017.

When not writing, Heather flexes her foodie skills, geeks out on pop culture and history, or looks for excuses to head to the other side of the world, (especially her beloved France). She loves to chitchat on Twitter with new reader friends or writers (@msheatherwebb) or via her Facebook page. Stop on by!

 

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This weeks Top Ten is going to be the books I had the most trouble getting through. Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish, which I just discovered from another blog on Twitter. So thank you to social networking!

Okay! Here we go!

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I usually devour Ms. Moran’s books; I even have a few on my bookshelf. However, this time, I was sorely disappointed and I couldn’t finish. You would think a book about Mata Hari would be fascinating and would keep you entertained. Not the case this time. Though a short novel at 273 pages, I called quits at 50 pages. I found the writing not up to Ms. Moran’s usual par and the research didn’t seem as in depth as usual. What could have been a fascinating topic dragged on and I just couldn’t get into it.

18490831This book was supposed to be hilarious and charming. I thought it more fitting to donate it and never lay eyes upon it again. It was hyped up, but it didn’t deliver. I found the obsessive mentions of bodily functions and the racism too overpowering to be entertaining. Yes, I understand that this book is based in the 1920’s and racism was common. However, I felt maybe the author should have covered it in a way that didn’t make me feel like that was just his personal feelings. I also felt that he (Andrew Lewis Conn) tried too hard at times. He also used ridiculous words and phrasings that didn’t need to be used at all. He made me feel like he went to college and learned all of them and needed to show off that he knows big words. They’re tripe. Absolutely unnecessary in the long haul. This was a DNF…and an instant addition to the ‘donate to library’ box.

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The writing to me was juvenile and lacked the finesse a Tudor/Elizabethan era novel should have. The characters were one dimensional and quite frankly, if the real Amy Dudley was as annoying as she is in the book, then I completely understand why Robert didn’t spend much time with her. She was given to tantrums and acting like a spoilt child rather than a wife of a courtier. She was spiteful and I spent most of the time wanting to slap her. I understand that she wanted more time with her husband, but that really wasn’t the way to accomplish that. The emphasis put on that it was a love match–Amy married rather high above her station–seemed ironic, since he couldn’t seem to tolerate being near her. Why the author chose to turn her into such an intolerable git in this book, I’m still pondering. Terrible, terrible writing.

 

22571611Far too predictable. Girl meets boy, girl dislikes boy, boy charms girl, girl falls for boy…blah blah. The boy in this case is William Shakespeare and he is the biggest tool. Katherine d’Lisle is essentially a doormat, having no endearing qualities in my opinion. Even when she discovers he’s lied to her, she can’t really pull herself away. it is very much a case of unrequited love because Will is in love with two things–himself and his work. Also, he tells her that he’s married but she believes they’ll go away together. (Seriously.) Far too disjointed, most of the characters were lackluster and honestly, I had to force myself to finish.

 

18404135I have rarely come upon any books with her as a main character and I was very excited to see that she was a main character. She is such a strong historical figure and a fascinating one at that; however, Ms. Goodwin disappointed me. Every single character seemed so…dull and lifeless. I found very little to like in any character, which made it very hard for me to get through it. It is a very loosely based story of Elisabeth ‘Sisi’, Empress of Austria when she visited England. Whilst I knew she had long hair and was thought of as pretty (which, I agree with!), it was maddening to hear very other moment about it. Also, putting meat on her face at night? That was rather vile. Whether that fact is true or not, I don’t know, but it was not very entertaining and just another thing I disliked. Sisi was made to be this vapid, bubble headed woman and I don’t think she was like that at all. Also, an Empress throwing childlike tantrums or sulk when she didn’t get her way. I really struggled with finishing.

25476259Lizzie Borden is one of history’s strangely fascinating people. There’s so much intrigue surrounding her–did she? Didn’t she? Thus, one would think her to be a good subject for a book. I must applaud Ms. Purdy for her obvious enthusiasm. However, that is about the most praise I can bestow.  I suppose that I, like most people, expect a more radicalised version or a version where we get chills down our spines and a good dark read. I didn’t get that here, much to my own disappointment. I found myself wishing someone would take an axe and smack Lizzie with it as she came off as an immature brat through most of the book. I would have liked to have seen more development of the. characters and the surroundings; to give more life to the story.  I was disappointed with this one.

21412403The story of Mammy from Gone With The Wind. I think I’ve posted before how much of a “windie” I am. When I had first heard this was coming out, I was absolutely delighted. Mammy is one of the central characters in the well beloved original and I love her. I thought to myself, “Oh boy! We’re going to get a good backstory on her! We’re going to learn this and that…blah blah, so forth and so on.” I had read Donald McCaig’s ‘Rhett Butler’s People’ and honestly, I enjoyed that, so I had no worries about Ruth’s Journey.

I should have taken it as a sign when I was denied for the ARC.

 

I wanted to be able to relate to her, however, she was quite unlikable I found; or at the 176265very least, her characterization made her rather unlikable. She was such a conflicted individual and I found I often wanted to reach into the book and smack her because as a child/young woman, she was intolerably rotten. Spoiled rotten and over-privileged…granted, I know that is how she was raised, but I just couldn’t believe her. And how she hooked Lincoln into marrying her…I know that this was just a dramatization but how dreadful of her. Also, I didn’t like how she complained about being poor. She knew when she married him that they’d be poor. Yet, hey, let’s go blow money on gowns that she didn’t need! Let’s buy furniture for the house they didn’t have yet! Let’s force Lincoln to work even harder and have nothing to show for it since people didn’t regularly pay him. I do appreciate the details; I like to hear about the hustle and bustle of towns, the detail of attire and I will give the author as much credit for that as I possibly can. Sadly, that is about as much praise as I can give and even that can be too much of a good thing. The scenes were repetitive; such long paragraphs about Mary Todd Lincoln feels and those way too frequent dream sequences…ad nausium is the term I’m thinking of here.

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Need I say more?
I didn’t think so.

 

 

 

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The title is misleading in that Wolf Hall was the home of the Seymours and there isn’t a great deal of them. Secondly, I found the writing choppier than the ocean on a blustery, windy day. Very, very disappointed.

 

 

 

 

The Dark Mermaid!

The Dark Mermaid
Christina L. Barr
Publication date: September 5th 2017
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult

“True love is not a myth. It’s mystic. It’s a force in the universe that draws two people together, resulting in incredible power, for either good or complete chaos.”

On the day Luna proves that she is powerful enough to be her father’s heir, she is banished for saving the life of an enchanting human boy. Her father, the king, gives her two options: kill Ian and regain her honor by the time she comes of age, or be destroyed.

Luna finds shelter in forbidden waters and comes under the protection of her father’s greatest enemy, the Sea Witch. As her ward, Luna becomes a fearsome warrior, but struggles with the fear of turning her powerful magic dark.

With only days remaining before her seventeenth birthday, Luna finds Ian sailing the seas in search of answers. Luna is determined to escape her father’s wrath, and the Sea Witch’s plot of revenge, but dark forces won’t allow her to live a human life without making an impossible sacrifice.

Goodreads / Amazon

Want to receive a free song inspired by the book that Christina sang herself?

Fill out this form here before Sept 9th!

EXCERPT:

True Love

When I returned to the lair, the Sea Witch was much too distracted gutting her catch of shark to care much about my adventures. She had no idea that I had found Ian and kissed him. I wanted to keep it that way. For all she knew, I spent my day with Napa, and I most certainly didn’t fight my sister to the almost death. I made sure to heal my wounds before she saw me.

I hid the pendent, dagger, and lock of hair in a satchel and hoped the Sea Witch wouldn’t be able to sense the magic. I also had to hope that she wouldn’t sense any special magic in me. It was odd that I wasn’t fatigued from my battle. Instead, I felt energized. My magic was leaking out of my body. I tried to keep my movements limited and to remain completely calm.

Unfortunately, somewhere between the chewing of our dinner, the Sea Witch cocked her brow at me in suspicion. “Did Napa bring you a new gift?”

“Why do you ask?”

“I sense new magic.”

I panicked on the inside, but I would not allow that panic to the surface of my thoughts. Of course, she would have been able to sense the pendent. I reached into my satchel and handed it to her without any fuss, and I hoped she didn’t ask any questions about the other item of interest. “Napa didn’t know any better.”

“Interesting.” It only took a moment for the Sea Witch to analyze what it could do. I don’t know why I was so surprised when she disappeared. “This would be more useful on the surface world.” She tossed it back to me and became visible once more. “Quite interesting.”

“Very.” I grinned hard and continued feasting, but I had the sense that she knew I was hiding many details from her. It’s not that I didn’t trust her. I just wanted to make sure she would take the news well, so I didn’t have to worry about her killing everyone outside of our immediate sphere.

It wasn’t easy. I wanted to tell her about Ian’s infatuation with me. It was flattering after my father threw me away. I wanted to tell my mother how his smile enchanted me, and now, I was under his spell. I tried to get him out of my head, so the Sea Witch wouldn’t find out, but while I brushed my hair and stared into the broken mirror Napa gave me, I began to imagine that I was staring at myself from his point of view, and I knew I was truly as beautiful as he made me feel. The thought of never seeing him again was crushing my heart and suffocating my insides. There had to be a way to see him again beyond tricks, smokes, and mirrors.

“Luna, what’s wrong?”

I saw Ian’s face too clearly in my mind. She must have known that I was thinking about him, but that wasn’t so strange. I could still hide the truth for a little while. “Why would something be wrong?”

She floated in front of me with a furrowed and curious brow. “Because you never sing.”

I hadn’t even noticed. I was singing the same song I sang to Ian when I first said goodbye. If he had his hooks in me that deeply, was there truly any escaping him? “You’ll think I’m being a fool.”

The Sea Witch surprised me and held me by my shoulders from behind. “Out of the two of us, I’m the one that made a blood oath with your father. You could be foolish for a thousand lifetimes and not end up as foolish as I once was.”

Perhaps I was being unfair to her. If she were trying to be a real mother, she deserved a chance. As my elder, she might have sound advice to put my mind at ease. “Napa told me that humans believe in true love. I know it sounds childish, but I think I’m experiencing it. I’ve found true love.”

I was so embarrassed that I kept my eyes focused on the teeth of the comb in my hands. I was responsible for ruining Ian’s childhood, and I delayed his life afterward. I didn’t deserve to feel such a consuming joy, especially if Ian were the root cause.

“I’ve heard of true love.” The Sea Witch nicked my chin up with her finger to force her eyes into mine. “The humans teach it like a fairytale, but true love is not a myth; it’s mystic. It’s a force in the universe that draws two people together, resulting in incredible power, for either good or chaos.”

“Chaos?” I laughed. Frankly, it was difficult to believe that there was an actual explanation to how I felt. Napa referred to love as “irrational logic”. I wasn’t sure if having a legitimate reason was worse or better. “How can what I feel ever lead to destruction?”

“I’m not saying that it will, but true love is a dangerous magic.” The Sea Witch got uncomfortably close to my face. I tried to back away, but she swam around to observe me fully. Nothing about me had changed physically, but I’m sure she wasn’t seeing with her natural eye. “I can sense it on you. Your magic is stronger.”

I thought of how quickly I defeated my sister, but then, I quickly pushed that out of my mind. “How is that possible? Is it just because I have feelings for Ian?”

“No. That would be ridiculous, but it is possible that you’re drawn to each other for a reason.” She, once again, became agonizingly uncomfortable. I didn’t back away or cower from her glaring and curious eyes. I tried to be firm while I blanketed my mind with thoughts of training battles, meditation, and the past few lonely years of my life. I would not think of Ian, and I certainly wouldn’t think of the kisses we shared!

Except, I completely did.

I don’t know if my sudden memory of Ian’s kiss was vivid enough to burrow into her brain, but she certainly seemed more suspicious after I indulged in it. “You must have seen him again!” I covered my face. I would have hidden in my clam, but she was already inside of it with me. She grew impatient and pulled my hands away from my flustered face. “I did. Napa found Ian, and I went to see him. He gave me the dagger I had been searching for, and we spoke.”

“That’s not the only thing you did.”

I straightened out my body and tried to look a little taller and mature than I had been acting a moment ago. “We did share a kiss, yes.”

Instead of lecturing me, she twirled around the cavern, shrieking in delight. I hadn’t seen her genuinely happy or excited over anything, so I was a little terrified. “Did he have magic?”

“He didn’t seem to have knowledge of having magic.” “Perhaps he’s an amplifier,” she suggested with much intrigue. “What do you mean?”

“They are extremely rare, but an amplifier can increase your magic, even without being able to use it.” She swam to me and clasped onto both my hands and smiled. “If you were to mate, you could create new magic for your offspring and leave your own power intact. If that’s true, you should definitely mate him.”

“Uh…” My mouth opened in shock. The desire to feel and be more of an adult was ripped away from me. “I’m not ready for this conversation.”

“Why? Do you love him?” “It’s preposterous that I love him!” “But you do!” She chuckled. “I see it in your eyes. I feel it through your magic. He’s made you more powerful. If Fate is pulling you to love this man, don’t push back. There’s no sense in fighting what will be.”

Was it truly possible that Ian made me feel stronger? Was he the reason why I could use my magic to fight my sister so effortlessly? Even if it were true, what did it matter? I only wanted to control my magic so it wouldn’t accidentally go dark. I had no desire to be the greatest sorcerous in the world.

It was silly to think that I could take human form and live with Ian. I hardly knew him. But, for some reason, the thought of leaving to discover the world with him began to fill my chest and gut with a ticklish light that turned into a glorious rumbling. I clutched onto my chest as I felt it vibrating. My entire body was radiating heat. I tried to convince myself that I was merely embarrassed, but my hands were tingling.

“The thought of escaping with that human is causing your magic to burst from you,” the Sea Witch said. “You can’t deny what you want or may very well need.”

Author Bio:

As the daughter of sci-fi enthusiasts and a pastor, Christina L. Barr has been taught to believe that anything is possible. She’s been a serious composer as far back as twelve-years-old, and has had the opportunity to sing her songs around the world.

In 2007, she graduated from Holly High School number nine in her class and attended College for Creative Studies. She started a pop culture website called The Gorgeous Geeks with her two older sisters, and was even featured on Times Magazine.

Her addiction to writing emerged when she was eighteen and started her first novel. To date, she has nine novels published, fourteen completed, and her goal is to finish thirty books by her thirtieth birthday.

She is currently a Creative Director and spends her days making graphics and videos.

Website / Goodreads / Facebook / Twitter

 

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Happy Hogwarts Day! #19YearsLater #HarryPotter

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Well, guys. It’s September 1st! And if you’re a Harry Potter fan, you know what that means! It’s the first day of term! Or if you’re a Muggle, it’s time to reread the books and relive the adventures of Harry, Hermione and Ron. I wanted to do a Harry Potter post for awhile, but today seems like the best day to do so. It does make sense, doesn’t it? So today, it’s Harry Potter celebration!

So with that said, I have to make a confession. When the books first came out and there was all the hoopla and the bookstore parties and everything…guys, I thought it was stupid. I wasn’t impressed at all. (Call me a rebel; I just didn’t like to bandwagon things.) It was only when my parents were in AC Moore, getting craft items when I went wandering and I found ‘Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire’. It was the newest book and I skimmed it. I admit, I read the first chapter standing there. My parents only chuckled when they saw me and they bought it for me; which meant I had forfeited my allowance. So be it. I read the book in two days and ya’ll? A Harry Potter fan was born.

1018px-hogwarts_coat_of_arms_colored_with_shading-svgWhen school started later that month, they had started a Harry Potter club after school. I joined and I got the second book, which they provided to us. The group disbanded, but I kept the book. (I was supposed to give it back, oops.) I then made it my mission to read books one and three, both of which I got for my birthday in September. From then on, I made my parents pre-order the books for me. I never attended a book release party but I can tell you, when Pottermore opened, I was the first one of my friends to sign up and to log in. When I saw Harry Potter merchandise, I was all over it. And I, of course, saw all the movies. I used to see them with my cousin, who is six years younger than me, and we had a ball. When I went on vacation, for fun, I sent him a postcard with his name and I wrote ‘The bedroom at the top of the stairs’ (an homage to ‘The Cupboard Under The Stairs’) followed by his address. I didn’t know if it’d reach him, but it did. It was funny and I think he still has it somewhere. We also would play the video games together. He looks like a Weasley, my cousin, with his red hair and freckles, but I always called him Harry. Now that he has his own son, I hope when he’s a bit older, he’ll instill that love onto him.

I own all the movies too and my mother, who never read the books, finally gave in and 941b1e06449390c01d20d7fdd4692d8dwatched them. Now when there’s nothing on TV, we break out the movies. My ‘aunt’, (my mother’s partner of 35 years), read the books not at my instance, but at a friend of hers whom I call ‘Auntie Pat’. (If you read this, hi Auntie Pat! <3) If you ever meet her, you wouldn’t think of her as someone who’d read the books. She’s very well read, but I could never picture her as reading the series.  But when she insisted, Aunt borrowed them from me and another fan was born. I guess you can say, this is a HP household.

My house, as you can tell from the side of my page, is Slytherin as my house–and Pottermore sorted me into it. But as I sit here writing about this to you, I can’t help but be in awe that it’s been twenty years since JK Rowling and Bloomsbury published ‘The Philosopher’s/Sorcerer’s Stone’. Isn’t it strange to try and imagine our lives without Harry and his adventures? JK Rowling’s imagination is a thing of beauty and it’s created so much joy and happiness. That in itself is magic.

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Hogwarts, truly, became a haven for people. It was for me, for certain. Books were always my escape. They became the thing that made waking up everyday a wonder. They were the one constant in my life where I could forget my troubles. I was bullied very much. I wore glasses, I had freckles all over my face, was fat and I was shy. Not to mention, I struggled with my classes, so I felt stupid. And I had developed faster than the girls in my classes. When they had just begun to start wearing bras and getting periods; I’d been doing both since I was nine. You can imagine how miserable I felt; so for me; Hogwarts was the school I longed to be in; and I was, every time I opened the books. Luna felt like someone I could be friends with; Hermione who was I longed to be, although I discovered, just because someone is smart doesn’t mean that they’re happy and popular. Fred and George always made me laugh. Dumbledore gave me bits of wisdom, some of which has never left me. Snape, to me, there was always more to him than met the eye. I never disliked him as many people did. Professor McGonagall reminded me of my grandmother. I even liked Malfoy, who I felt was just terribly misguided. And Hagrid. Who didn’t love him!?

My books were my friends. And whilst I struggled to fit in, I happily lost myself in their world. Whether I was reading about Harry or the Babysitter’s Club or if I was hermione-granger-draco-malfoy-hermione-dramione-favim-com-4281021running wild with Sara Stanley in Avonlea or travelling across the Midwest with Laura Ingalls Wilder…I was home. The bullies didn’t exist in the worlds I was reading about. And if they did, the heroes in there dealt with them in the ways that I could not. Hermione punching Draco Malfoy will forever be my favorite moment. It’s almost as good as Tyrion slapping Joffery in Game of Thrones.

Even today, Hogwarts and the whole Wizarding World is still very much alive and well. The community that exists because of our love for this series and for Jo Rowling is a beautiful thing. Whether we’re playfully bickering or debating headcanons, or making up our own assumptions, or coming together to mourn–Alan Rickman, you are SO missed. We have our own Hogwarts; it exists in all of us. Magic is alive and well because we believe it to be so. Maybe the wand I have will never be anything but decoration, but it will be a reminder of the world created by this glorious series of books, the brilliant movies. My Slytherin robes may just be worn on Halloween, but they’re hung where all can see them. My books, the original series, my 20th anniversary edition, the illustrated editions…the Wizarding World is very much alive and well, and always shall be.

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And lest we forget…today is the day that Albus Severus Potter went to Hogwarts today.  I think I’ll let Jo finish up this post for me; the line is a poignant today as it was the day I first read it. (And yes, I skipped to the end of the book–I needed to know if he lived or not! lol.)

 

“The scar had not pained Harry for nineteen years. All was well.”

Spotlight on: The Sworn Virgin!

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Guys, I’m so excited to have a spotlight for this novel; in the next few weeks, I’ll have a review up too. The premise is different from what I’m used to and features a culture that I admittedly know little about. The premise is down below along with a synopsis and a bit about the author. I hope you’re as excited as I am by the time you get to the bottom of this post! This is Kristopher Dukes’s first novel and I’m absolutely delighted to be hosting her here. I hope you’ll be sure to check out The Sworn Virgin, out now in stores!

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The Sworn Virgin: A Novel by [Dukes, Kristopher]THE SWORN VIRGIN
by Kristopher Dukes is a gripping historical novel based on an ancient Albanian tradition—which is more relevant and timely than ever. In The Sworn Virgin, a desperate young woman swears to remain a virgin her entire life in order to gain control of her body and her future. The Sworn Virgin takes place in a wild world – but how many women today, in international cities, must make micro-denials of their sexuality in exchange for the respect that men take for granted?  

Brilliantly researched for over five years, The Sworn Virgin makes Ottoman Empire-era Albania come to life.  To go back one-hundred years in the Albanian mountains was to go back one-thousand years. Pagan spirits roamed the woodlands. Tribal warfare consumed families. Women could become men.

To swear to remain a virgin one’s entire life was the only way a woman could become an heir of family property, work for a living, or honorably escape an arranged marriage.  After taking this oath, a woman, for all intents and purposes, became a man to her community. She might change her name, cut her hair, and dress like a man. “She” no longer existed, and became referred to as “he.”

But what would happen if a sworn virgin fell in love? Dukes’s novel asks this question, and asks you: Would you sacrifice once-in-a-lifetime love for your independence? For your life?

When eighteen-year-old Eleanora’s father is shot dead on the cobblestone streets of 1910 Albania, Eleanora must abandon her dream of studying art in Italy as she struggles to survive in a remote mountain village with her stepmother Meria. Nearing starvation, Meria secretly sells Eleanora into marriage with the cruel heir of a powerful clan. Intent on keeping her freedom, Eleanora takes an oath to remain a virgin for the rest of her life—a tradition that gives her the right to live as a man: she is now head of her household and can work for a living as well as carry a gun. Eleanora can also participate in the vengeful blood feuds that consume the mountain tribes, but she may not be killed—unless she forsakes her vow, which she has no intention of ever doing.

But when an injured stranger stumbles into her life, Eleanora nurses him back to health, saving his life—yet risking her own as she falls in love with him…

Fraught with tension, the overarching theme of gender is eerily reminiscent of today’s conversation of what it means to be a woman, and how much of that is determined by patriarchy’s pressures. As women continue to fight for equality within the political, social, and economic realms, THE SWORN VIRGIN is an empowering reminder of brave women who have stood up and leaned in throughout history. Already gaining praise as a “feminist novel” (RT Book Reviews), Dukes’s novel is a page-turner filled with drama, romance, humor – and at its heart – a woman who, nevertheless, persisted.

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Image may contain: 1 personKRISTOPHER DUKES was born and raised in Los Angeles, California. She has been a nationally published writer since high school. Her work has been featured in the bestselling book series Written in the Dirt and fashion bible WWD, and profiled in VOGUE.fr, NY Times.com, Fast Company, Forbes.com, WWD, and Elle. The Sworn Virgin is her debut novel. She lives in Manhattan Beach, California, with her husband, Matt, and Doberman, Xena.
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Spotlight: The Other Einstein

 

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Einstein, Albert (1879-1955), Einstein-Maric, Mileva (1875-1948)Happy Paperback Release Day! Although this book has been out for awhile, it’s just now a paperback copy. Be sure that you grab yourself a copy, as this is going to be a fascinating read. I know most of us think of Einstein as the man with the wild white hair and blank sort of expression, and E=MC2. It’s easy to forget that he had an interesting life and that he was also married. Twice, actually. This book focuses on his first wife and her contributions, which are generally not looked at as much. A woman physicist wasn’t really heard of; remember, women in college was somewhat uncommon then.

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A vivid and mesmerizing novel about the extraordinary woman who married and einstein-470x705worked with one of the greatest scientists in history.

What secrets may have lurked in the shadows of Albert Einstein’s fame? His first wife, Mileva “Mitza” Marić, was more than the devoted mother of their three children—she was also a brilliant physicist in her own right, and her contributions to the special theory of relativity have been hotly debated for more than a century.

In 1896, the extraordinarily gifted Mileva is the only woman studying physics at an elite school in Zürich. There, she falls for charismatic fellow student Albert Einstein, who promises to treat her as an equal in both love and science. But as Albert’s fame grows, so too does Mileva’s worry that her light will be lost in her husband’s shadow forever.

A literary historical in the tradition of The Paris Wife and Mrs. PoeThe Other Einstein reveals a complicated partnership that is as fascinating as it is troubling.

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othereinstein-marie_benedictMarie Benedict is a lawyer with more than ten years’ experience as a litigator at two of   the country’s premier law firms and for Fortune 500 companies. She is a magna cum laude graduate of Boston College with a focus in history and art history and a cum laude graduate of the Boston University School of Law. She lives in Pittsburgh with her family.

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