Book Ruts & Fantastic Beasts.

I’m sure by now you noticed I haven’t been posting as of late. (I hope you have, lol. I’d feel badly thinking I’m just talking to myself.) And that’s not because I don’t want to–it’s because I have been in a dreaded book rut. You guys know what I’m talking about. I think as readers; we all get into that sort of mode, where no matter what we pick up, we just can’t get into it. It’s not because of the book; it’s just something in yourself that makes you feel listless and sort of ‘meh’ about everything. It’s depressing! I have also been doing battle with my own depression, so that may be a factor too. I tell my books, “It’s not you, it’s me.”

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I’ve seriously felt like doing this…and that’s insulting to authors, I know. Yet, since authors are also voracious readers, I’m pretty sure that they understand the struggle and know that it’s nothing against them. I just can’t get into anything. I’d say it’s my mind, but is it? Is it my body? Maybe, I can’t seem to get comfortable in bed, where I love to curl up to read. (Next year’s goal is to get a new one; it’s been like…8 years? I need a new bed.) The chair in my room is also uncomfortable as all get out. It’s my old computer chair; but I don’t have a computer in my room anymore, so I should probably just get rid of it.

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This isn’t to say that I’m not excited for new releases coming out next year; hell no, your girl is pumped, trust in that! There’s a lot of amazing releases coming out and I’ll be telling you all about them! I just can’t seem to get motivated right now. I don’t know if I took too many books on at once or if I just really disliked one and it’s put me in a mood. The last book I read, ‘The Memoirs of Jacqueline Onassis Kennedy’ was really brilliant; it was a unique look at Jackie’s life pre-White House and post-White House. I’ll try to get a review up of it soon. I think it was really fantastic.

eae9b3ba475b609f020cb0c1c60429ffSo, when in a rut, what do you guys do? Do you kind of wait it out? Try something in a new genre? Hope the muse will return? I feel like I’m going crazy trying to come up with solutions. Though I admit, I did happily buy two new books the other day, in hopes they’d help spark my need to read again. I picked up the illustrated ‘Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them’ and also ‘History of Magic’. I absolutely love the illustrated editions of the books; they’re so beautifully done and provide new visuals for the series. As to ‘A History of Magic’, it’s quite fun, giving an inside look at how the books came to be, background stories on items and people who were referenced along with notes from JK Rowling and much more. Both are brilliant. I looked through them, and can’t wait till I’m able to finally jump in entirely.

Speaking of Harry Potter; did you guys see the new picture of the Fantastic Beasts cast? Itumblr_olzkdkrd8v1tnan7oo2_400 honestly think most of the cast is brilliant but I just don’t like Johnny Depp as Grindelwald and I will sorely miss Colin Farrell as Percival Graves. I hope they bring him back somehow! Or, at the very least, I hope JK gives us an answer as to his fate. If they can bring Credence back; Percival can still be alive and anxious for revenge. Just sayin’. I swear, I’m saying this as an objective HP fangirl, not as a longtime Colin Farrell fangirl, haha. (But seriously, how perfect was he? Look at him! He was so dapper…and that touch of grey..mmph. Okay, okay, total fangirl here.)

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Depp just looks peculiar to me here. There’s a cohesiveness with the rest of the cast; but he just…I don’t know. He doesn’t look like he fits. But I suppose we shall see. Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald comes to theatres 16th November 2018.

And for now, I’ll close. I hope my American readers have a wonderful Thanksgiving! To everyone else, Happy Holidays! ❤ T’is the season, right?

 

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Spotlight: Marriage of a Thousand Lies

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Lucky and her husband, Krishna, are gay. They present an illusion of marital bliss to their conservative Sri Lankan–American families, while each dates on the side. It’s not ideal, but for Lucky, it seems to be working. She goes out dancing, she

drinks a bit, she makes ends meet by doing digital art on commission. But when Lucky’s grandmother has a nasty fall, Lucky returns to her childhood home and unexpectedly reconnects with her former best friend and first lover, Nisha, who is preparing for her own arranged wedding with a man she’s never met.

As the connection between the two women is rekindled, Lucky tries to save Nisha from entering a marriage based on a lie. But does Nisha really want to be saved? And after a decade’s worth of lying, can Lucky break free of her own circumstances and build a new life? Is she willing to walk away from all that she values about her parents and community to live in a new truth? As Lucky—an outsider no matter what choices she makes—is pushed to the breaking point, Marriage of a Thousand Lies offers a vivid exploration of a life lived at a complex intersection of race, sexuality, and nationality. The result is a profoundly American debut novel shot through with humor and loss, a story of love, family, and the truths that define us all.

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S.J. SinduSJ Sindu was born in Sri Lanka and raised in Massachusetts. Her hybrid fiction and nonfiction chapbook, I Once Met You But You Were Dead, won the 2016 Turnbuckle Chapbook Contest and was published by Split Lip Press. She was a 2013 Lambda Literary Fellow and holds a PhD in Creative Writing from Florida State University. She teaches Creative Writing at Ringling College of Art and Design. Marriage of a Thousand Lies is her first novel.

The Canary Club: Book Blitz!

The Canary Club
Sherry D. Ficklin
Published by: Clean Teen Publishing
Publication date: October 16th 2017
Genres: Historical, Romance, Young Adult

“Bad Luck” Benny is a boy from the wrong side of the tracks. Recently released from jail, he has vowed to keep his head down and stay out of trouble. But he also needs to care for his ailing sister and the rest of his struggling family, and he’ll do anything to make that happen—even if it means taking a position with a notorious crime boss. He soon finds himself in over his head—and worse still—falling for the one dame on earth he should be staying away from.

Masie is the daughter of a wealthy gangster with the voice of an angel and gun smoke in her veins. Strong-willed but trapped in a life she never wanted, she dreams of flying free from the politics and manipulation of her father. A pawn in her family’s fight for control of the city, and with a killer hot on her heels, she turns to the one person who just might be able to spring her from her gilded cage. But Masie is no angel, and her own dark secrets may come back to burn them both.

Two worlds collide in this compelling story of star-crossed lovers in gritty prohibition-era New York.

Perfect for fans of Beatriz Williams’ A CERTAIN AGE or Libba Bray’s THE DIVINERS, THE CANARY CLUB by Sherry D. Ficklin will entice Historical Romance fans of all ages. This Gatsby-era tale filled with dazzling speakeasies, vicious shoot-outs, gritty gangsters, and iridescent ingenues has also been compared to the television series Z: THE BEGINNING OF EVERYTHING and BOARDWALK EMPIRE.

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Glitter and Gold (A Canary Club Prequel) is currently FREE!

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EXCERPT:

Lepke.

I roll the name around in my head like a curse.

Glancing back over my shoulder toward my room, toward June, I know what I have to do.

For the most part, it suits me just fine to let people think I’m just some silly girl, some empty-headed dame. Because what it means is that they never see me coming, never suspect me of being capable of doing terrible things.

But I am my father’s daughter.

I was born to violence like a fish is born to water. It’s part of me, part of who I am. All my life I’ve watched the people around me suffer—the women most of all. It’s a fact of this life that more often than not, shots are fired, grievances aired, and warnings sent through the women around the powerful men. They are soft targets. Disposable, but cared for enough to make a point.

In this business, women are nothing more than weaknesses to be guarded and fodder to be thrown when needed. Pawns in a game we aren’t even allowed to play. It’s one of the reasons I was so glad when Mother had sent me off to private school upstate. For a few months, I’d felt normal. Safe.

Being called back to the life after losing her was like suddenly having an axe hanging over my head again. For one dark, dark moment I’d considered running away—and I might have too. But soon enough I realized that this is where I belong, even if I might wish otherwise. I have to do what I can to protect my family, what family I have left. I know my part and I can play it as well as any Hollywood starlet. I know I should be appalled, bereaved that things like this come so easily to me now. But I let that grief, and the dreams of being anything other than what I am, go a long time ago. And so I stay. Cursed to walk the fine line between hero and villain, between vengeance and redemption.

But Lepke isn’t going to get away with this. Not this time.

I drag my hand through the water, mixing in the salts, cementing my plan in my head.

As soon as I deposit June in the tub I steal away to the den to make a call.

“Hello?” Vincent Coll’s groggy answer reverberates through the receiver.

My heart stutters at the sound of his voice. “It’s Masie. I need a favor.”

“What’s up, doll?”

I hesitate, biting my bottom lip. It’s then that I notice the smear of blood on my dress.

“I have blood on me, Vinny,” I say, more to myself than him, but his tone heightens.

“Are you alright?” He’s awake now, alert and sharp.

“It’s not my blood,” I clarify. “It’s the blood of someone I care about, though.”

He calms again, “What do you need?”

“Lepke Brewer,” I spit the name, unable to quite put into words how I want him to suffer. How much I want him to hurt.

On the other end of the line there’s a deep sigh, followed by the sound of a lighter flicking and Vinny taking a long drag. Despite being someone I once cared about greatly, Vinny is a dangerously unstable man on a good day. I know he’ll do what I’m about to ask without breathing a word of it to anyone—not out of loyalty to me or sympathy for June and what had happened to her, but for the sheer opportunity to level some brutality on a rival. Most people call him Mad Dog, thanks to his reputation for being about as well tempered as a rabid animal. But to me, he’s just Vinny, the young boy who’d come to stay with us after being expelled from the Catholic Reform School his mother had abandoned him to. We’d spent our formative years together, thick as thieves and practically family, until he took up the role as Daddy’s enforcer and hit man. He’d changed after that.

Hell, we’d both changed. And neither of us for the better.

I roll the memory of him around in my head, biting the inside of my cheek as I decide what to say next. We haven’t been close in a very long time, and that’s the way it has to be. It might have been something more once, or maybe I just wanted there to be something there that never was. He’d kissed me exactly once, and it had been enough to sear itself into my memory, only to be buried beneath piles of disappointment and choices neither of us can take back. He has to be hard to do what he does, with no weaknesses for our enemies to exploit. And if I’m being honest, it’s the darkness in him that terrifies me. Not because I don’t understand it, but because I do. I know exactly how easy it would be to allow myself to be consumed by the violence of this life—and how good I would be at it.

But that’s not the person I want to be.

Even so, here I am, about to ask him to do the dirty work for me, just so I can keep my hands just a little bit clean.

“You want him taken care of?” he asks finally.

I suck in a breath before answering. Yes, I want him dead. I want him wiped from the face of the earth so he can’t ever hurt anyone ever again. I imagine myself saying yes. I imagine myself throwing a fistful of dirt onto Lepke’s coffin as it’s lowered into the ground. And then I imagine trying to look myself in the mirror every day after that.

“I want him to hurt,” I say after a moment. “I want him to be broken to the core of him. But leave him breathing.”

Leave it to Vinny to echo my own fears back to me. “You sure about this, Mas?” he asks, taking another drag and exhaling it slowly. “It’s not going to keep you up at night?”

It’s a barb from an accusation I’d leveled at him the last time we spoke, when I’d asked how he slept at night, after all he’d done. His answer had been crude and aimed to hurt me. Mine would be much kinder.

“I suppose I will have to find a way to live with myself,” I answer, keeping my tone indifferent.

He hangs up without even saying goodbye.

I hold the receiver in my hand for a few heartbeats before returning it to its cradle. JD is being groomed to take over the family business and –despite daddy’s constant berating that he’s too soft-hearted or slow-witted or whatever insult he feels like hurling in the moment for the job—I’ve never stepped in and asked for a place in the business. I’m just the girl, after all, to be coddled and protected and mollified. I’d been surprised that he let me worm my way into the club as it’s headline singer rather than being shipped off to wherever. Now, I can’t help but wonder, if Daddy had seen me tonight, if he might rethink the line of ascension.

And I can’t help but wonder what life would be like for me if he did.

 

Author Bio:

Sherry is the author of over a dozen novels for teens and young adults including the best selling Stolen Empire series. She can often be found browsing her local bookstore with a large white hot chocolate in one hand and a towering stack of books in the other. That is, unless she’s on deadline at which time she, like the Loch Ness monster, is only seen in blurry photographs.

Sherry also writes contemporary romance under the pen name SJ Noble. You can find her at her official website, http://www.sherryficklin.com, or stalk her on her Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/sherry.ficklin .

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A Sea of Sorrow: A Novel of Odysseus

Congratulations are in order for members of The H Team, a group of historical fiction authors who all band together, each writing a chapter of a story that all blends together, creating one epic novel. If you haven’t read other books by this team of exceptionally talented novelists, you’re really missing out. Remedy that by picking up a copy of this one. I’ve provided links for the other three too. 🙂 Happy Bookday! 

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Odysseus, infamous trickster of Troy, vaunted hero of the Greeks, left behind a wake of chaos and despair during his decade long journey home to Ithaca. Lovers and enemies, witches and monsters–no one who tangled with Odysseus emerged unscathed. Some prayed for his return, others, for his destruction. These are their stories…

A beleaguered queen’s gambit for maintaining power unravels as a son plots vengeance.A tormented siren battles a goddess’s curse and the forces of nature to survive.
An exiled sorceress defies a lustful captain and his greedy crew.
A blinded shepherd swears revenge on the pirate-king who mutilated him.
A beautiful empress binds a shipwrecked sailor to servitude, only to wonder who is serving

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 whom.
A young suitor dreams of love while a returned king conceives a savage retribution.

Six authors bring to life the epic tale of The Odyssey seen through the eyes of its shattered victims—the monsters, witches, lovers, and warriors whose lives were upended by the antics of the “man of many faces.” You may never look upon this timeless epic—and its iconic ancient hero—in quite the same way again. In the tradition of Madeline Miller’s Song of Achilles, and with the spirit of Lindsey Davis’ The Third Nero and Kate Quinn’s Mistress of RomeA Sea of Sorrow transports you to the endlessly fascinating world of Homeric Greece.

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A Song of War: a novel of Troy by [Quinn, Kate, Cameron, Christian, Turney, SJA, Hawker, Libbie, Thornton, Stephanie, Shecter, Vicky Alvear, Whitfield, Russell]A Year of Ravens: a novel of Boudica's Rebellion by [Knight, E., Downie, Ruth, Dray, Stephanie, Whitfield, Russell, Turney, SJA, Quinn, Kate, Alvear Shecter, Vicky]A Day of Fire: a novel of Pompeii by [Dray, Stephanie, Kane, Ben, Knight, E, Perinot, Sophie, Quinn, Kate, Alvear Shecter, Vicky]

 

 

 

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Uncommon Type: Tom Hanks!

Happy Release Day to the one and only, Tom Hanks! The two-time Oscar-award winner is releasing his very first book, a collection of short stories.

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1101946156_bA collection of seventeen wonderful short stories showing that two-time Oscar winner Tom Hanks is as talented a writer as he is an actor.

A gentle Eastern European immigrant arrives in New York City after his family and his life have been torn apart by his country’s civil war. A man who loves to bowl rolls a perfect game–and then another and then another and then many more in a row until he winds up ESPN’s newest celebrity, and he must decide if the combination of perfection and celebrity has ruined the thing he loves. An eccentric billionaire and his faithful executive assistant venture into America looking for acquisitions and discover a down and out motel, romance, and a bit of real life. These are just some of the tales Tom Hanks tells in this first collection of his short stories. They are surprising, intelligent, heartwarming, and, for the millions and millions of Tom Hanks fans, an absolute must-have!

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0000001740673_p0_v1_s260x185TOM HANKS has been an actor, screenwriter, director and, through Playtone, a producer.  His writing has appeared in The New York TimesVanity Fair, and The New Yorker.  This is his first collection of fiction.

 

The Nameless Land: Book Blitz

The Nameless Land
Lazlo Rappaport
Genres: Adult, Mythology

Desperate to free herself of the dream fox residing in her womb, Anastasia travels off to the shores of the Red Sea and strikes a deal with Lilith: If Anastasia will fashion three mirrors for the primordial witch, so the sorceress will exorcise the evil spirit.

A poetic parable of the modern woman, the riddle of love, and the question of meaning in a seemingly-godless world.

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EXCERPT:

Anastasia turned upon her side, and soon she lost herself in a dream—a memory of the night journey to Arkhangelsk, a memory of that very moment the engineer applied the brake.

Once the train had stopped altogether, the young Anastasia suddenly felt the absence of any soothing vibrations. In addition, she intuited a most ineffable presence standing outside the cabin door. When she opened it just a crack, she found herself face to face with a bald-headed girl dressed in a snug fur coat boasting a silvery diadem-spider brooch pinned to the lapel. “Are you a daughter of Lilith?”

“A daughter of Lilith? No, I’m a ghost. My name’s Svetlana.” As the bald-headed girl spoke, the silvery brooch turned the color of corroded high-tin bronze.

Anastasia glanced over at Mother where she lay snoring very softly in her bed and then turned back. “What do you want?”

The ghost girl did not answer. Her delicate bare feet perfectly silent against the floorboards, she walked off down the passageway.

“Come back here!”

“No, you follow me!” Swiftly the ghost girl continued to the end of the sleeping car, vanishing through the door.

With trembling heart, Anastasia continued down one car after another until she reached the caboose where she joined the ghost girl outside upon the landing.

What a fine Arctic summer. The midnight sun bathed the tundra in a soft-orange haze, and the wildflowers emitted a sweet scent not unlike that of freshly-baked Belorussian honey cake.

The ghost girl reached into her coat pocket, removed a little wooden flute, and performed the tune to Mussorgsky’s “Hebrew Song.” Afterward she turned to Anastasia and poked her right arm with the foot end. “Do you know why the train stops here? If you were to ask the conductor, he’d tell you that we stop here so that we don’t collide with one of the trains out of Finland. But that’s not so. In truth the train stops here only because the Arctic fox compels the train to stop here, for this would be the place where the Arctic fox prefers to climb aboard and prey upon some hapless little girl. Just like he preyed upon me last summer.”

Anastasia pointed at the railway tracks. “Look around!” she blurted out. “There’s no Arctic fox anywhere! You’re a daughter of Lilith, that’s what you are! You’ve come to deceive me and—”

“No, he’s here. It’s just that he’s rendered himself invisible.” The train lurched forward, and the ghost girl smiled. “You’re lucky. But I doubt that you should be lucky a second time, so whatever you do, you should not come back this way.”

“But we must come back this way. Back at the House of Fabergé, the bookkeeper and everyone else, they’re waiting for Mama to bring them a box of volcanic glass.”

The train’s steam trumpet bellowed out its deafening wail, and back in Sinai, Anastasia awoke to find that the fire had almost died out.

She sat up some and thought of the dream, the heretofore repressed memory. How could I forget all that? She thought of her childhood in Russia and sought to recall the precise moment when the invisible fox spirit would have slipped inside her womb.

Author Bio:

Lazlo Rappaport is the pseudonym of a very reclusive author from Ohio. He wrote the original draft of The Nameless Land while night-clerking at a series of Palestinian youth hostels in the Old City of Jerusalem, 1996-1999. Under his proper birth name, he holds an M.F.A. in poetry from Sarah Lawrence College.

 

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The Revolution of Marina M.

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From the mega-bestselling author of White Oleander and Paint It Black, a sweeping historical saga of the Russian Revolution, as seen through the eyes of one young woman.

St. Petersburg, New Year’s Eve, 1916. Marina Makarova is a young woman of privilege who aches to break free of the constraints of her genteel life, a life about to be violently upended by the vast forces of history. Swept up on these tides, Marina will join the marches for workers’ rights, fall in love with a radical young poet, and betray everything she holds dear, before being betrayed in turn.

As her country goes through almost unimaginable upheaval, Marina’s own coming-of-age unfolds, marked by deep passion and devastating loss, and the private heroism of an ordinary woman living through extraordinary times. This is the epic, mesmerizing story of one indomitable woman’s journey through some of the most dramatic events of the last century.

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Janet Fitch was born in Los Angeles, a third-generation native, and grew up in a family of voracious readers. As an undergraduate at Reed College, Fitch had decided to become an historian, attracted to its powerful narratives, the scope of events, the colossal personalities, and the potency and breadth of its themes. But when she won a student exchange to Keele University in England, where her passion for Russian history led her, she awoke in the middle of the night on her twenty-first birthday with the revelation she wanted to write fiction. “I wanted to Live, not spend my life in a library. Of course, my conception of being a writer was to wear a cape and have Adventures.” She has acquired a couple of capes since then, and a few adventures. And books.

Her novel PAINT IT BLACK was just made into a feature film directed by Amber Tamblyn, and her upcoming novel, THE REVOLUTION OF MARINA M. will be published in November.

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Spotlight on The Vineyard!

 I’m so excited to be able to share about Maria Duenas’s new novel, ‘The Vineyard’. It just came out on the 3rd, so I am late, but Happy Book Birthday! I’m including information about this stunning new novel below and I’m hoping to have a review up for you later this week. 

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THE WASHINGTON POST
on Maria Dueñas’ new novel The Vineyard:

“Dueñas demonstrates the same breezy and entertaining style she wields to such great effect in her previous works. She is an author who seems to put story first, more interested in delivering a good old-fashioned yarn than in trying to impress you with literary pyrotechnics.”

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THE BESTSELLING AUTHOR OF THE TIME IN BETWEEN(now a hit series on Netflix), MARIA DUEÑAS, RETURNS WITH ….

The Vineyard

Library Journal recently called it a “sprawling family saga filled with romance, intrigue, adventure and a bit of melodrama. An entertaining read that will appear to lovers of Isabel Allende’s Zorro,” while BookBub included it in its 15 Books We’re Excited to Read This Fall list, and Southern Living among its “heart-pounding historical novels to read right now!”

Certainly a grand production, The Vineyard by the New York Times bestselling author of The Time In Between, Maria Dueñas landed in stores this week (10/3). Loyal to her unique style, the acclaimed writer brings forth an array of colorful and intriguing characters including “damsels in distress, devious femme fatales, conniving gamblers” (Kirkus), in this magnificent story of ambition, heartbreak, and desire set in 1860s Mexico, Cuba, and Spain. The novel culminates in beautiful Jerez de la Frontera at the height of the sherry wine trade that turned the Andalusian city into a cosmopolitan hub. Elegant, lyrical and atmospheric, The Vineyard will sweep lovers of historical fiction and drama alike just in time for International Sherry Week (Nov. 6-12).

“Dueñas’ sweeping tale of fortunes made and lost abounds with dramatic characters and operatic plot twists […] this sprawling tale will charm fans of historical romance.”

– Kirkus Reviews

“Heart wrenching yet uplifting, this beautifully rendered story will linger in readers’ minds”

– RT Book Reviews, four stars

“Dueñas capably reveals the grace of second chances, as Larrea’s hard work overcomes a cruel twist of fate. There is despair; there is betrayal; there is romance and triumph. Dueñas’ many fans as well as readers who appreciate well-researched historical fiction will find The Vineyard appealing.” – Booklist

With the debut of her brilliant first novel, the New York Times bestseller The Time In Between (Atria; 2009), Dueñas was lauded for her descriptive and lyrical narrative and uniquely touching protagonists.  In a starred review, Publishers Weekly declared her “a writer to watch,” while El Mundo in her native Spain said, “Dueñas more than lives up to her title as one of the best contemporary authors today.”  It was critically and commercially acclaimed in the United States, and was also an international success, selling over two million copies worldwide and inspiring a popular Spanish television series (now available on Hulu and Netflix), known in the media as “the Spanish Downton Abbey.”  Her second novel, The Heart Has Its Reasons (Atria; 2012), was also well received and became an international bestseller.

María Dueñas is also a writer who has her finger on the pulse of society, with an innate talent for exploring the more personal and intimate issues in life—issues that no matter who we are and what we’ve accomplished—have affected many of us.  THE VINEYARD is a powerful story of courage in the face of adversity, and of a destiny forever altered by the force of passion.

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Mauro Larrea’s fortune, the result of years of hardship and toil, comes crashing down on the heels of a calamitous event. Swamped by debt and uncertainty, he gambles the last of his money in a daring play that wins him an abandoned house and a vineyard an ocean away.  Mauro travels to Andalusia de Jerez in Spain with every intention of selling the property and returning to Mexico. That is, until he meets the unsettling Soledad Montalvo, the wife of a London wine merchant, who bursts into his life unannounced, determined to protect her family’s legacy. Before long, Larrea finds himself immersed in the rich culture of the sherry trade. As his feelings for Soledad ripen into a consuming passion, he seeks to restore the vineyard to its former glory.

From the turbulent young Mexican republic to flourishing Havana, and onward to the fertile vineyards of Jerez in the second half of the nineteenth century, María Dueñas’s new novel takes place on both sides of the Atlantic, the New World and the Old.  This story of family intrigue vividly conjures the noise and grit of silver mines, and the earthier lure of ancient vineyards and magnificent cities whose splendor has faded. Using the same resonant voice and skillful narrative style as she did in The Time In Between and The Heart Has Its Reasons, María Dueñas pours heart and soul into THE VINEYARD and creates a vibrant canvas that immerses readers in each locale, and offers a fascinating study in contrasts, contradictions…and second chances.

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duenasmariaMaría Dueñas holds a PhD in English philology. After two decades dedicated to academics, she broke onto the literary scene in 2009 with the publication of the New York Times bestselling novel The Time In Between, followed by The Heart Has Its Reasons in 2012. Both novels became international bestsellers and have been translated into 35 languages. The television adaptation of The Time in Between earned critical and international acclaim. The Vineyard is her third novel and is being simultaneously published in Spanish as La Templanza.

 

 

 

 

 

The Gospel of Loki [A Review]

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I admit freely that I geeked out hard when I was at Books-A-Million and I saw this book.the-gospel-of-loki-9781481449472_hr I’m a big fan of The Avengers and the Thor films, so Loki is well known to me. In my writing group, a friend of mine actually wrote as the much maligned God of Mischief and included more information about him than I knew. So when I saw this, I didn’t feel that my collection would be complete unless I had him on my shelf too.

I have the habit of when I’ve seen someone portray said character, they will always be that character. Thus, the narrator in my head took on Tom Hiddleston’s voice and Loki still looked like him, though there is a line referring to Loki as having red hair. (Jaw, meet floor.) I mean…I can see it but it just struck me as a “woah buddy!” moment.

tumblr_n7zq5wq3kg1rz0ey2o2_500This book is precisely what you’d expect from Loki. He is full of himself but charming, a bit of a braggart, self depreciating in some moments, a troublemaker and an outsider who kind of got the crappy end of the stick from the All-Father, Odin. He admits there are things he could have done differently, but didn’t. He also tends to not take full responsibility for things, instead finding ways to say, “Well, can’t you see why I was driven to do this?” If you’re expecting Loki Laufeyson from the films, you may be a teensy bit disappointed. This isn’t the story of the baby Jotun that Odin brought home to be raised with Thor. This story begins when he was simply a body-less being, Wildfire, born of Chaos who ends up manipulated by Odin, the All-Father. Loki narrates us from the beginning all the way to Ragnarok, and there is seldom a moment where I was bored or didn’t enjoy the story. Norse Mythology is fascinating and I intend to read more about it, so I do thank the author.

With this said, I did enjoy hearing about the Nine Realms, the different sorts of people, the gods, the demons. If you’re a Marvel fan, you’ll see familiar names: Thor, Six, Balder–remember him, he leads to a particularly painful time in Loki’s life–Odin, Freya and Heimdall. And there’s plenty of new folks, plenty of fascinating things going on that you’ll be as immersed as I was. I also liked how he could shape shift, how there were glamour effects and the magic that you expect from legends like this. The story of him giving birth to Slepnir, the eight legged horse, was peculiar. But then again? Life in Asgard is a bit unusual.

I daresay that I do feel for him; he’s too likable to be hated. I genuinely liked hearing his side of theme and I hope that perhaps there may be more to read. Having never read one of Ms. Harris’s books before, I will surely remedy this. She is talented, giving us such a well known figure as a protagonist and writing in first person. It made it easier for me to find that there were things about him I really liked and disliked. I didn’t like how blase he was about his family; if memory serves me correctly Loki loved Sigyn, his wife, he loved his twin sons by her and I think he loved his triplets by Angrboda, Fenrir, Jormangandr and Hel. So the indifference and dislike towards them didn’t really fit for me. I also was a bit confused by his utterly modern language. As we saw in films and comics, if you’ve read them, he’s got quite the vocabulary: ‘you mewling quim!’ for example. So hearing everyday, modern language was a bit peculiar.

All in all, it is enjoyable. Not perfect, but certainly enjoyable.

I’d give it ★★★ stars.

Additional Notes:

  • I bought this copy for myself.
  • would recommend this to a friend.

The Indigo Girl {A Review}

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❝It was so unlike me, but yet, it was me. Something was unfurling within me from behind the fear of societal expectations. Something true and deep. A part of my soul I’d always known was there but never acknowledged. I knew I’d never completely stop playing the role assigned to me in this life, but I would never ever let it compromise me.❞

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What I love about this book is that this is based on a true story. There’s nothing more interesting to me than when you take someone’s story and share it with the world who may not have known it. Eliza Lucas is sixteen when her father leaves her in charge of her family’s plantations when he goes back to to Antigua to serve as lieutenant governor during the English and Spanish conflict.  In a world where women are supposed to sit pretty and marry well, this is a unique opportunity for Eliza and one that she relishes, though her mother would prefer to see her married off and her husband tending to overseeing the plantations. It’s through her own determination and hard world that she avoids the yoke of marriage and instead struggles to see if indigo, a highly sought after dye, could be grown in the colony. Her determination and her willingness to work with the slaves of the property, whom she treated like family, teaching them to read in exchange for their helping her with the crop.

Even though she’s sixteen, there was a naivete about her, which is stripped away through time and in its place a new grit is formed and adds to Eliza’s already unique personality and mindset. I loved how she refused to be let down, that she kept fighting until she succeeded and continued with that same indomitable spirit throughout the rest of her life. She is also remarkable because General George Washington was one of the pallbearers at her funeral in 1793. She was truly amazing and she seems to have passed that down to her children, her two sons both were Federalist Vice Presidential candidates, the elder son was a signatory on the Constitution.

Included in the novel are actual snippets from Eliza’s letters and it’s lovely to hear Eliza’s own voice in this tome about her. Granted, it is a first person perspective, but there’s something special about including Eliza’s actual words.

I loved this book and I can’t wait to reread it. Ms. Boyd has a gift for storytelling and how to make things come alive. It was an absolute joy to read and I forced myself to take my time–I’m usually a fast reader–because I wanted to savor the story and to really get to know Eliza and her family. It’s a book you should enjoy and share with friends; it’s truly a wonderful read.

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%!

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Author Photo Natasha Boyd

Natasha Boyd is an internationally bestselling and award-winning author of contemporary romantic Southern fiction and historical fiction. She holds a bachelor of science in psychology and also has a background in marketing and public relations. After hearing one of Eliza’s descendants speaking about Eliza’s accomplishments, the need to tell her story became so overwhelming that it couldn’t be ignored. Hence, The Indigo Girl was born. Boyd also started an Instagram account to document the research she accumulated; visit @eliza.the_indigo_girl for more information.