on November 3, 2015
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Imagine a world where your destiny has already been decided…by your future self.
It’s Callie’s seventeenth birthday and, like everyone else, she’s eagerly awaiting her vision―a memory sent back in time to sculpt each citizen into the person they’re meant to be. A world-class swimmer. A renowned scientist.
Or in Callie’s case, a criminal.
In her vision, she sees herself murdering her gifted younger sister. Before she can process what it means, Callie is arrested and placed in Limbo―a prison for those destined to break the law. With the help of her childhood crush, Logan, a boy she hasn’t spoken to in five years, she escapes the hellish prison.
But on the run from her future, as well as the government, Callie sets in motion a chain of events that she hopes will change her fate. If not, she must figure out how to protect her sister from the biggest threat of all.
This review is long overdue, but that is a common theme for me as of late. Over the past year, I have used any “spare” time (between school, work, commuting, spending time with my family) to attack my leisure/TBR list. So, when I have a moment to write a review/blog during the semester, that means I’m on top of my game. Yay for me!
Check out this lovely book-look created by another fan:
When I read Pintip Dunn’s Forget Tomorrow earlier this year, it acted as the miracle brain balm to my reading romance rut. With Victoria Scott’s Dante Walker trilogy complete, J.L. Armentrout’s Lux series at an end, and Amy Engel’s The Book of Ivy duology finished, I felt at a loss for where to turn to for my next gripping teen read. Then, lo and behold, EntangledTEEN puts out the first book in another MUST READ series: Forget Tomorrow. My SciFi,YA, Romance loving heart was happy again…and completely in love with the characters and plot of Pintip Dunn’s new series.
I hesitate. Not because I don’t want to touch him, but because I do. I want to take his hand and hold it forever. […] Because five years ago, I never noticed the way his upper lip rested on his lower one, soft but assured. My breath didn’t quicken when he was near, and my stomach didn’t flip-flop whenever he touched me.
Our friendship has entered unfamiliar terrain.
Fans of the above mentioned books and others like the Divergent and UTNS series will find their next action-packed, romantic tension fix with Forget Tomorrow.
Two bad-ass characters, each carrying a secret. 17 year-old Callie is a strong, resilient, complex, and clever character that perfectly complements Logan, her childhood crush, who emanates from the page with quiet courage and a heart of gold. In other words, I’m in love.
This heart-pounding debut explores themes of family, convention and rebellion, identity, and the power of choice. I’m dropping everything to dive into the newly release sequel, Remember Yesterday, TONIGHT.
Follow me on Instagram for a chance to win a hardcover copy of Remember Yesterday in the near future.
Bedmates by Nichole Chase
Series: American Royalty #1
Release Date: October 4th, 2016
Publisher: William Morrow Books
Buy Now: Amazon | B&N | BAM! | iBooks | Indiebound | Kobo
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From the bestselling author of Suddenly Royal comes the first in a sparkling new series about America’s favorite royal—the First Daughter.
Everyone makes mistakes, especially in college. But when you’re the daughter of the President of the United States, any little slip up is a huge embarrassment. Maddie McGuire’s latest error in judgment lands her in police custody, giving the press a field day. Agreeing to do community service as penance and to restore her tattered reputation, Maddie never dreams incredibly good looking but extremely annoying vice president’s son, Jake Simmon, will be along for the ride.
Recently returning from Afghanistan with a life-altering injury, Jake is wrestling with his own demons. He doesn’t have the time or patience to deal with the likes of Maddie. They’re like oil and water and every time they’re together, it’s combustible. But there’s a thin line between love and hate, and it’s not long before their fiery arguments give way to infinitely sexier encounters.
When Jake receives devastating news about the last remaining member of his unit, the darkness he’s resisted for so long begins to overwhelm him. Scared to let anyone close, he pushes Maddie away. But she isn’t about to give up on Jake that easily. Maddie’s fallen for him, and she’ll do anything to keep him from the edge as they both discover that love is a battlefield and there are some fights you just can’t lose.
The hand on the back of my neck tilted my head so he could kiss me better and I melted against him. I’d waited for this moment most of my life and I sure as hell wasn’t disappointed.
The kiss wasn’t rushed, wasn’t abrupt. It was slow, lingering brushes of lips, as our breaths slid over each other. It was an intense, raw moment as we tested unknown waters and what we found only increased our determination. When his tongue swiped across my bottom lip in a request for entrance I opened on a sigh. His free hand caressed my hip before sliding around to the small of my back, tucking me against him.
The feel of his hard body pressed against me made my head spin. Every delectable inch of him was hard in just the right way. As his mouth danced over mine, fire ran through my veins. Everywhere that he touched me came alive and I wrapped my arms around his neck, hungry to feel more of him pressed to me. This was what I’d been looking for all these years. I felt alive and appreciated with each stroke of his tongue and touch of his hands.
His arm tightened around my waist and my feet left the ground. I gasped as he sat me on the unfinished kitchen island. Dark brown eyes drilled into mine as his hands slid down to cup my ass before gently spreading my legs so that he could fit between them. He pressed against my center and I couldn’t help but groan as he pulled me tight. Wrapping my legs around his hips I pushed even closer, trying to relieve the building ache.
He groaned into my mouth and I took the moment to nip his bottom lip. I’d wanted to do that forever; to feel it plump between my teeth. One of his hands squeezed my ass tighter and he grinded his erection into me, causing my head to fall backward on a gasp of pleasure. Each move against me made me gasp louder, and my eyes fell shut. With one hand he pulled my hair free from the rubber band before tangling his fingers in it.
“God, you taste good.” His voice was raw, harsh, and it sent shivers down my spine. He ran his nose along the column of my throat before nipping gently below my ear. “Should have done this forever ago.”
GiveawayThe Violinist of Venice by Alyssa Polombo
Published by St. Martin's Griffin, St. Martin's Press on December 15, 2015
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A sweeping historical novel of composer and priest Antonio Vivaldi, a secret wealthy mistress, and their passion for music and each other
Like most 18th century Venetians, Adriana d'Amato adores music-except her strict merchant father has forbidden her to cultivate her gift for the violin. But she refuses to let that stop her from living her dreams and begins sneaking out of her family's palazzo under the cover of night to take violin lessons from virtuoso violinist and composer Antonio Vivaldi. However, what begins as secret lessons swiftly evolves into a passionate, consuming love affair.
Adriana's father is intent on seeing her married to a wealthy, prominent member of Venice's patrician class-and a handsome, charming suitor, whom she knows she could love, only complicates matters-but Vivaldi is a priest, making their relationship forbidden in the eyes of the Church and of society. They both know their affair will end upon Adriana's marriage, but she cannot anticipate the events that will force Vivaldi to choose between her and his music. The repercussions of his choice-and of Adriana's own choices-will haunt both of their lives in ways they never imagined.
Spanning more than 30 years of Adriana's life, Alyssa Palombo's The Violinist of Venice is a story of passion, music, ambition, and finding the strength to both fall in love and to carry on when it ends.
“Playing the violin again ignited a permanent glow that I carried inside me, which burned gently and steadily just beneath my breast bone. Before I left Maestro Vivaldi’s house, we agreed I should return at noon in three days’ time, but I knew my frequent comings and goings would not go unremarked upon for long. I was tempting il destino, but I couldn’t stop.”
The man, the myth, the legend:
Most ears are familiar with Vivaldi’s Four Seasons and think of him as the Italian Violin Master with no recollection of the exact period he was from, or with any idea that he was even a priest. While the maestro was, indeed, a priest, he was also an 18th century playboy by way of his rock star status. Yes, even 18th century Venice had rock stars. Vivaldi’s skill at playing the violin and at composition thrusted an aura of virtuoso virility around him that the ladies found hard to resist. Especially his virginal music pupils.
The Violinist of Venice reads with the alternating tempos of adagio and vivace. It is an ambitious book that does a lovely job of capturing the culture and landscape of the times it is set in. I went into this book expecting the author to completely demonize and generalize Vivaldi’s character, but was pleasantly surprised when she didn’t. She composed his character with as much thought and dimension as Adriana, the female lead.
Adriana is a strong and rebellious character who embodies what I would hope to have been like had I been alive in 18th century Venice. The author does a great job at capturing the suffocating patriarchy that made women the property of their fathers or husbands in this era and dictated what they could and could not do. For a girl like Adriana, pursuing her musical aspirations was literally gambling with her life.
Carnivale! Venice, Italy.
Lush settings, including a few delicious scenes at Carnivale, and historically accurate social climates made this book an enthralling read. I loved the thematic elements such as the divisions of sections and chapter titles that made this book like reading a musical score. The Violinist of Venice was a smart and entertaining window into Vivaldi’s lifetime and that of the women who met his hypnotic and inspiring charms. Musician and non-musician alike will enjoy this emotionally engaging and epic love story that doesn’t play out as one would expect. I can’t wait to read the next novel by Alyssa Palombo.
Setting the mood:
Although Paganini came to fame a while after Vivaldi, the rock star aura of this talented violinist/composer drove women crazy in the same way. It’s not hard to see why in the film The Devil’s Violinist which tells the tumultuous story of Paginini during the height of his fame. This is a great film to watch before reading The Violinist of Venice to help paint a picture of how musicians like this were received in society, and a great film to follow-up with is The Red Violin which tells the story of a violin spanning over 3 centuries, all the way back to its creation in 17th century Italy.
And just for fun:
Everyone knows Vivaldi composed moving violin pieces, but not very many know that he also composed arias and other vocal pieces. Simone Kermes is one of my favorite contemporary Baroque vocalists, and I have included a Spotify playlist of her Viva! Vivaldi album for your listening pleasure. Enjoy!
Published by Pamela Dorman Books, Viking Pages: 352
For Jane Re, half-Korean, half-American orphan, Flushing, Queens, is the place she’s been trying to escape from her whole life. Sardonic yet vulnerable, Jane toils, unappreciated, in her strict uncle’s grocery store and politely observes the traditional principle of nunchi (a combination of good manners, hierarchy, and obligation). Desperate for a new life, she’s thrilled to become the au pair for the Mazer-Farleys, two Brooklyn English professors and their adopted Chinese daughter. Inducted into the world of organic food co-ops, and nineteenth–century novels, Jane is the recipient of Beth Mazer’s feminist lectures and Ed Farley’s very male attention. But when a family death interrupts Jane and Ed’s blossoming affair, she flies off to Seoul, leaving New York far behind.
Reconnecting with family, and struggling to learn the ways of modern-day Korea, Jane begins to wonder if Ed Farley is really the man for her. Jane returns to Queens, where she must find a balance between two cultures and accept who she really is.
Yeaaaaah, I was supposed to post a review about this AMAZING book (more than) a few months ago but lets move on, shall we? *clears throat*
The thing is, I enjoyed this re-telling of Jane Eyre so much that I was waiting for my intellect to catch up. RE JANE was incredibly clever, insightful, poignant, and funny. Sometimes it’s hard to come up with the words to review such a smart book. I bow down to the author’s character-constructing prowess and now forge ahead with my inadequate assessment.
I loved this book in the same way that I LOVE the Bridget Jones’s Diary films. It has all the same quirky and entertaining elements paired with more thoughtful and contemplative underlying themes that address topics such as adultery, relationships, boundaries, intersectionality, personal growth, and unconditional love.
Patricia Park’s depiction of Jane’s struggle against the ties that bind her to family, cultural custom, and Korean traditions- and her outgrowth of some of these suffocating expectations- made for a completely engaging read. I loved this MC. She perfectly captured the conflicting duality in all of us (especially women) as we enter into the confusing adulthood of our twenties. Jane was at once vulnerable, scared, and shy, and curious, courageous, and strong. It was rewarding to see/read Jane’s heart/head struggles. And of course, all the accompanying characters that depict Jane’s family, employers, and friends were constructed just as meticulously and entertainingly.
The writing and construction of Jane’s thoughts and experiences was just so on point in this novel. Truly a literature and contemporary fiction lover’s dream. A lovely balance between heavier themes and the kind of fluffy subject matter that can typify the twenty-something female experience was achieved in Re Jane.
[…] The rest of the family was just upstairs, yet in that moment they seemed so far away.
Ed inched closer, running his fingers over my cheek and tucking strands of hair behind my ears. I grew self-conscious […] And suddenly Ed was pulling away. “Good night, Jane.” His tone had gone chilly. He bit his lip. Abruptly he left me […] Rejection was a numbing quality. I sat like that on the wicker love seat for a minute, an hour, I couldn’t tell you how long.
And then it was dawn. […]
A little later that morning, I awoke from a rum-and -Coke induced haze- in my own bed- to the sound of the upstairs telephone ringing. I tripped from the tangle of sheets and out the door. When I picked up, a familiar voice blasted through the receiver.
“You come home right now. Grandpa coming from Korea. Not look good, you living outside house.”
I tried to hide the sleepy mumble from my voice. “I have a job, Uncle. With responsibilities.”
“What exactly you do all day?”
To reiterate, I really, really, really enjoyed this book and think it deserves a spot among the beloved books on your shelf. It’s a contemporary classic that begs to be read more than once.
Have you read RE JANE? Please share your thoughts in the comment section. I’d love to know if you enjoyed the book as much as I did.
Bohemian Gospel by Dana Chamblee Carpenter
Published by Pegasus on November 15, 2015
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Set against the historical reign of the Golden and Iron King, Bohemian Gospel is the remarkable tale of a bold and unusual girl on a quest to uncover her past and define her destiny.
Thirteenth-century Bohemia is a dangerous place for a girl, especially one as odd as Mouse, born with unnatural senses and an uncanny intellect. Some call her a witch. Others call her an angel. Even Mouse doesn’t know who—or what—she is. But she means to find out.
When young King Ottakar shows up at the Abbey wounded by a traitor's arrow, Mouse breaks church law to save him and then agrees to accompany him back to Prague as his personal healer. Caught in the undertow of court politics at the castle, Ottakar and Mouse find themselves drawn to each other as they work to uncover the threat against him and to unravel the mystery of her past. But when Mouse's unusual gifts give rise to a violence and strength that surprise everyone—especially herself—she is forced to ask herself: Will she be prepared for the future that awaits her?
BOHEMIAN GOSPEL WAS ONE OF MY FAVORITE BOOKS OF 2015.
“A fast-moving, seductive read. A fascinating mix of dark fantasy and rich historical detail.” Author of The Bloodletter’s Daughter
Like any good book, Bohemian Gospel is a book for all seasons. However, I suggest you hurry and go buy a copy to read now, during the Winter months, so you can cuddle up under a fuzzy blanket by a toasty fire. This book will make you crave that kind of setting. The author’s writing is like the warm glow cast by candle flames despite the story giving me bone-deep chills on more than one occasion.
Bohemian Gospel is the kind of book that will beckon you out of bed in the wee hours of the morning with anticipation. Kind of like Christmas morning when you were a kid. It’s a rich story set in a time period that was unfamiliar to me (13th Century Prague/Bohemia), with a main character that was perplexing and bewitching. There’s an intriguing and devilishly good question about the MC, called Mouse, that propels the story forward at a seductive pace. Mouse is a character that ends up surpassing the implications of her moniker and becomes a lioness in the face of fate. To put it succinctly , this book cast a spell over me.
Although under 400 pages, there is an epic feel to the story as the reader witnesses decades of Mouse’s life unfold in both joy and torment. There were elements of Bohemian Gospel that reminded me of the His Fair Assassin series by Robin LaFevers (HUGE compliment).
The secondary characters in Mouse’s story peaked my imagination and curiosity as thoroughly as Mouse did. The romance between Mouse and King Ottakar is predictable, but told in an enthralling and poignant way that had me on the edge of my seat.
There were moments in this novel that were pure, terrifying darkness. Those moments completely satisfied my need to be creeped out by a book. Sounds strange, I know, but the eerie and diabolical current to the story was so unique and transfixing. Read the following two pages for a really creepy excerpt:
There was just something beyond magical about this tale that had the capacity to both break and mend my heart in a single beat.
Wonderfully textured with elements of magic, mysticism, paganism, and fantasy, the author’s beautiful writing brought these elements together with lyrical perfection.
I could not describe this story better than the cover quote that boasts Bohemian Gospel as “A grand, thought-provoking adventure in sorrow, joy, and magic. One of the most intriguing novels you’ll read this year.”
Bohemian Gospel was one of my favorite things of 2015 and I am thrilled to share Mouse’s story with you by offering the following GIVEAWAY courtesy of PEGASUS BOOKS. Enter below for a chance to win this lovely novel. (Sorry, International friends. Giveaway is for US ONLY.)
And just for fun:
I enjoyed reading Bohemian Gospel to Patricia Petibon’s Poulenc album. Although the music is from a completely different historical time period (20th Century), Poulenc’s daring sacred works in this compilation resonated well with Mouse’s tale for me.
Just a warning- THIS scary child-thing might visit you in your dreams after reading Bohemian Gospel:
Are you guys excited for Titans by Victoria Scott? WE are! Here is a sneak peek at Titans!!
[pdf-embedder url=”http://mereadalot.net/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/TitansSneakPeek.pdf” width=”500″]
From Victoria Scott, author of FIRE & FLOOD, comes a thrilling story of impossible odds.
Ever since the Titans first appeared in her Detroit neighborhood, Astrid Sullivan’s world has revolved around the mechanical horses. She and her best friend have spent countless hours watching them and their jockeys practice on the track. It’s not just the thrill of the race. It’s the engineering of the horses and the way they’re programmed to seem so lifelike. The Titans are everything that fascinates Astrid, and nothing she’ll ever touch.
She hates them a little, too. Her dad lost everything betting on the Titans. And the races are a reminder of the gap between the rich jockeys who can afford the expensive machines to ride, and the working class friends and neighbors of Astrid’s who wager on them.
But when Astrid’s offered a chance to enter an early model Titan in this year’s derby, well, she decides to risk it all. Because for a girl from the wrong side of the tracks, it’s more than a chance at fame or money. Betting on herself is the only way she can see to hang on to everyone in the world she cares about.
STEAL THIS AVATAR for your TWITTER, FACEBOOK, INSTAGRAM, TUMBLR, ETC.!
Countdown to Titans
TITANS Count Down Widget courtesy of Erin Westlund.
Published by Createspace on August 11, 2015
Source: the Author
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Victorian London: For five years, Charlotte (Charlie) Holloway has lived as a boy in the slums. But when one theft too many gets her arrested, her only means of escape lies with a dead man. Charlie hasn't raised a spirit since she first discovered she could do so five years ago. That time, her father banished her. This time, she brings even more trouble upon herself.
People are now hunting Charlie all over London, but only one man succeeds in capturing her.
Lincoln Fitzroy is the mysterious head of a secret organization on the trail of a madman who needs a necromancer to control his newly "made" creatures. There was only one known necromancer in the world - Charlotte - but now there appears to be two. Lincoln captures the willful Charlie in the hopes the boy will lead him to Charlotte. But what happens when he discovers the boy is in fact the young woman he's been searching for all along? And will she agree to work for the man who held her against her will, and for an organization she doesn't trust?
Because Lincoln and his ministry might be just as dangerous as the madman they're hunting.
Victorian Era London, England
ATTENTION POLDARK FANS: You will LOVE the dynamic between the Female and Male protagonists in this novel.
I wish I could buy stock in C.J. Archer.
Once again, she’s blown me away with the start of another great series, The Ministry of Curiosities. When I read C.J.’s books, I imagine her conducting her research in wonderfully dusty libraries and some mystical, greenish light shooting up from the pages, illuminating her face and filling her with magical writing powers. I have always enjoyed how C.J. filters her love for history and all of her historical research through such addicting and entertaining novels.
The Last Necromancer has a scandalous start and immediately threw me into the reality of slum life in 1889 London. C.J.’s world building falls out of the pages and properly transports the reader to whatever setting our protagonist, Charlotte Holloway, is occupying.
Charlotte is like a mix of Eponine, from Les Mis, and Demelza, from Poldark. Her fighting spirit, sense of self-preservation and boldness was a nice departure from the quiet and helpless Victorian women so often portrayed in novels of this era. Charlotte has an edge to her, sharpened by experience, and she is a protagonist that I enjoyed from the first page.
Alexandra Dowling– My Charlotte Holloway
Without a word, he padded back to the casket and placed the weapon inside, then returned to the bedroom. He re-emerged after ten minutes wearing nothing but a towel around his hips and carrying another that he used to dry his hair.
His lack of attention to me allowed me to take in the sight of his chest and shoulders, the left one with a bandage covering it where I had shot him. The youths in the gangs I’d been in had never had bodies like that. Fitzroy’s shoulders were broad, with bulges of muscle rippling down his arms and across his chest. The sprinkle of dark chest hair tapered off before reaching his rigid stomach.
If Charlotte reminded me of Demelza, then Lincoln Fitzroy, the dashing and disturbing male protagonist, one-hundred percent reminded me of Ross Poldark. Lincoln is described as looking darkly handsome, like he could fit in with Gypsies. The below image is what instantly came to mind when his character was described in the book. By God, he is a likable character and I just *die* with anticipation every time I read a C.J. Archer book while waiting to be introduced to the male MC. She just gets them SO RIGHT every time. There are undercurrents of Heathcliffe from Wuthering Heights and Rochester from Jane Eyre in Lincoln Fitzroy and, of course, we all know that is an intoxicating combination.
Aidan Turner– My Lincoln Fitzroy
The Last Necromancer is creative and has a unique twist with the pleasant familiarity of classic romance novels. This book was as spellbinding as C.J.’s other novels and thank goodness she writes faster than I can read because the second novel in the series, Her Majesty’s Necromancer is already out! So, basically, if you love reading, history, romance, and the paranormal and superhuman, then YOU WANT TO READ THIS BOOK. And can I just say, aren’t the covers AMAZING?!
Aaaand just for fun:
There were some things about The Last Necromancer that reminded me about the Tooth and Claw Doctor Who episode. If that ep. was one of your favorites (as it was mine), then I think you will enjoy The Ministry of Curiosities series.
Bathing Beauties, Booze and Bullets by Ellen Mansoor Collier
Series: A Jazz Age Mystery #2
Published by Decodame Press on May 5, 2013
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The last thing Jazz wants to do is compare make-up tips with ditzy dames competing in the Miss Universe contest, known as the "International Pageant of Pulchritude and Bathing Girl Revue." She'd rather help solve the murders of young prostitutes who turn up all over town, but city officials insist on burying the stories during Splash Day festivities. After Jazz gets to know the bathing beauties, she realizes there's a lot more to them than just pretty faces and figures.
Jazz becomes suspicious when she finds out the contest is also sponsored by the Maceos, aspiring Beach Gang leaders and co-owners of the Hollywood Dinner Club, where the girls will perform before the parade and pageant. Worse, her half-brother Sammy Cook, owner of the Oasis, a speakeasy on a rival gang's turf, asks her to call in a favor from handsome Prohibition Agent James Burton: He wants Agent Burton to raid the Hollywood Club during the bathing beauties dance routine--or risk revenge from the Downtown Gang leader. Her loyalties torn, Jazz is faced with an impossible task that could compromise both of their jobs and budding romance.
Meanwhile, Jazz fends off advances from Colin Ferris, an attractive but dangerous gangster who threatens Sammy as well as Burton. In the end, she must risk it all to save her friends from a violent killer hell-bent on revenge. Inspired by actual events. (Sequel to FLAPPERS, FLASKS AND FOUL PLAY, the first "Jazz Age Mystery" in the series.)
“”Boardwalk Empire” meets “Miss Universe” in 1927 Galveston, Texas-the “Sin City of the Southwest.” Jasmine (“Jazz”) Cross is an ambitious 21-year-old society reporter for the Galveston Gazette who wants to be taken seriously by the good-old-boy staff, but the editors only assign her fluffy puff pieces, like writing profiles of bathing beauties.”
Here’s a fun alternate version of the cover:
I discovered this Jazz Age Mystery series while researching 1920s fiction and I tested the waters with Flappers, Flasks and Foul Play, which I adored. But, I gotta be honest. I enjoyed Bathing Beauties, Booze and Bullets EVEN MORE than the first book in this series!
Have no idea what ”Bathing Beauties” are or what the “Bathing Girl Revue” is? Then check out this cool footage of 1925 Galveston Beauties competing for the grand prize:
The plot, the slang, the characters, the details- they swirled together with all the cinematic verve of a Billy Wilder film! Twists and turns in the story definitely had me guessing (and getting it wrong, lol) more than in the first book.
Jasmine Cross (aka Jazz), the ballsy belle the Jazz Age Mysteries revolve around, continues to be fleshed-out in BBBB and I fell in love with her character a little more. I loved being inside Jazz’s head while she schemed all over town and connected overlooked dots to solve this Galveston murder mystery based on true events. Jazz is ready to move up from Society reporting and into the big time: Crime reporting. She proves to her fellow male colleagues at the Galveston Gazette that she’s got the moxie it takes to investigate big cases and I felt like Ms. Cross definitely left an impression on her boss. Maybe Jazz will be moving on up in the next novel? I’ll have to wait and see.
There was a flicker of a romance in Flappers, Flasks and Foul Play that fans into a slightly bigger flame in Bathing Beauties. I really enjoyed the dynamic between Jazz and her love interest and can’t wait to see where it goes in the next novel.
The author does a really great job at capturing the cultural climate of Prohibition era Galveston. Everything from the customs, mannerisms, dialogue and gender roles/expectations bring this historical mystery to vivid life. Ellen Mansoor Collier has a knack for describing all the decadence of the era from saloons, to brothels, to dresses, to perfumed lamps. It’s like walking into a magical transporting antique store when reading the author’s descriptions of stuff from the 20s. It made me want to run to the nearest flea market or antique mall to find the cool collectibles she references. In short, these books have basically made me want to ditch my modern life and become a full-time flapper journalist. Ha!
Aaand just for fun:
Enjoy this 1920s dance craze montage. It will help you visualize some of the dance moves mentioned in Bathing Beauties, Booze and Bullets. 🙂
I haven’t had the pleasure of reading this book yet but I’m definitely going to grab a copy with a beautiful cover and synopsis like that! ENTER TO WIN some awesome swag below!
Author: Jacqueline Garlick
Pub. Date: August 11, 2015
Formats: Paperback, eBook
One determined girl. One resourceful boy. One miracle machine that could destroy everything.
After an unexplained flash shatters her world, seventeen-year-old Eyelet Elsworth sets out to find the Illuminator, her father’s prized invention. With it, she hopes to cure herself of her debilitating seizures before Professor Smrt—her father’s arch nemesis—discovers her secret and locks her away in an asylum.
Pursued by Smrt, Eyelet locates the Illuminator only to see it whisked away. She follows the thief into the world of the unknown, compelled not only by her quest but by the allure of the stranger—Urlick Babbit—who harbors secrets of his own.
Together, they endure deadly Vapours and criminal-infested woods in pursuit of the same prize, only to discover the miracle machine they hoped would solve their problems may in fact be their biggest problem of all.
PREORDER NOIR, the next book in the series NOW! Release Day: August 18, 2015
NOIR Book Two of THE ILLUMINATION PARADOX SERIES, companion to LUMIERE, Book One.
With Urlick imprisoned for the murder of Professor Smrt, Eyelet must find her way back through the Infirm-infested woods, to the forbidden city of Brethren, to free Urlick before it’s too late.
Along the way, she elicits the help of Crazy Legs, Urlick’s longtime friend. Together they overthrow a travelling freak show train destined for Brethren, with plans to use it to distract the city, so Urlick can make an escape. But Eyelet is lead astray, when a haunting image from her past appears in an abandoned factory at the edge of town. There she unearths a series of ungodly secrets and soon finds herself, imprisoned.
Will C.L. be able to save them both from their fates?
Or will he too, fall prey to the tyranny of Brethren’s newest Ruler?
Rumor has it the Ruler has secrets of her own.
Secrets she’s determined to keep.
Seems an heir may have been overlooked.
The true heir to the Commonwealth throne.
A Little Bit of R&R – Promo
Bookcrush.in – Promo Post
ME Read A Lot – Promo Post
Christina Farley – Promo Post
Series: A Jazz Age Mystery #1
Published by Decodame Press on 7/1/2012
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"Boardwalk Empire" meets "Downton Abbey" in this soft-boiled Jazz Age mystery, inspired by actual events. Real-life rival gangs fight over booze and bars during Prohibition in 1920s Galveston, Texas—the “Sin City of the Southwest.”
Jasmine Cross, a 21-year-old society reporter, feels caught between two clashing cultures: the seedy speakeasy underworld and the snooty social circles she covers in the Galveston Gazette. After a big-shot banker with a hidden past collapses at the Oasis—as speakeasy secretly owned by her black-sheep half-brother, Sammy Cook—Jazz suspects foul play. Was it an accident or a mob hit?
Soon handsome young Prohibition Agent James Burton raids the Oasis, threatening to shut it down if Sammy doesn't cooperate. Suspicious, he pursues Jazz, hoping for information (and some romance), but she refuses to rat on Sammy.
As turf wars escalate between the Downtown and Beach gangs, Sammy is accused of murder. To find the killer, Jazz must risk her life and career, exposing the dark side of Galveston’s glittering society. Now available in a revised trade paperback version with a glossary of 1920s slang.
I discovered Ellen Mansoor Collier’s Jazz Age Mystery series while doing some Historical research of my own, and by God, I feel like I struck gold, babies! GOLD!
We’ve all read the 1920s Historical Fiction set in New York, Chicago, Paris, New Orléans, but I never would have thought about experiencing the Jazz Age via Galveston, Texas until I read Flappers Flasks, and Foul Play. To be honest (I admit with my head hung in shame), the only history I really knew about Galveston had to do with The 1900 Storm that devastated the city.
The author’s smart and classy writing style keeps the familiar cadence of a ”whodunnit” novel or film noir feature. The female protagonist, Jasmine Cross, is clever and fearless as she plays her investigative cards in two different worlds: the seedy side and the socialite side to solve a crime that hits close to home. With all the moxie of Louis Lane, Jasmine Cross is the kind of strong female character you will find yourself rooting for.
Full of rich historical detail and colorful 1920s slang true to the era, Galveston, the “Ellis Island of the West” jumps off the pages. A fun and entertaining mystery drives the story along, but it was the story world that really won me over. Every aspect- from the cultural climate to the perfume and cosmetic cases- is fully realized and I couldn’t have asked for better world building. It was a special treat to learn so much about Prohibition era Galveston while having the pleasure of enjoying the fictional story that facts are built around. Hardcore History and Mystery Lovers alike will fall head over heels for this series, and general readers will be enlightened and entertained.
Flappers, Flasks and Foul Play left me fiending for more mystery and mayhem steeped in rich historical context. Luckily for me (and YOU), I can indulge myself in the next three books in this series: Bathing Beauties. Booze and Bullets, Gold-Diggers, Gamblers and Guns, and Vamps, Villains, and Vaudeville.
ATTENTION FELLOW HOUSTONIANS: Check out the Galveston Heritage Festival on Saturday, August 15, 2015 to experience first-hand some of the exciting history Ellen M. Collier brings to life in her Jazz Age Mystery series!
Aaaand JUST FOR FUN:
Want a soundtrack with a 1920s feel to complete that Jazz Age Mystery feel? Then check out PostModern Jukebox for vintage renditions of modern radio songs. If you live in Houston (or surrounding areas) they will be performing at Cullen Performance Hall on December 2, 2015.
EVERY LAST BREATH Synopsis:
Some loves will last ’til your dying breath
Every choice has consequences—but seventeen-year-old Layla faces tougher choices than most. Light or darkness. Wickedly sexy demon prince Roth, or Zayne, the gorgeous, protective Warden she never thought could be hers. Hardest of all, Layla has to decide which side of herself to trust.
Layla has a new problem, too. A Lilin—the deadliest of demons—has been unleashed, wreaking havoc on those around her…including her best friend. To keep Sam from a fate much, much worse than death, Layla must strike a deal with the enemy while saving her city—and her race—from destruction.
Torn between two worlds and two different boys, Layla has no certainties, least of all survival, especially when an old bargain comes back to haunt them all. But sometimes, when secrets are everywhere and the truth seems unknowable, you have to listen to your heart, pick a side—and then fight like hell…
Roth cleared his throat. “Shortie, look…look at your hand.”
Look at my hand? Why in the world would he be asking me to do that in the midst of all the cray?
“Do it,” he said quietly and too gently.
The dread exploded in my gut like buckshot, and my gaze dropped to my left hand. I expected to see the weird marbling of black and gray, a mixture of the demon and Warden that existed inside of me and a combination I’d become almost familiar with by now. My nails had lengthened and sharpened, and I could tell they were hard enough to cut through steel, as hard as my skin, but my skin…it was still pink. Really pink.
“What the…?” My gaze traveled to my other hand. It was the same. Just pink. My wings twitched, reminding me that I had shifted.
Zayne swallowed. “Your…your wings…”
“What about my wings?” I almost screeched, reaching be‑ hind me. “Are they broken? Did they not come out—” The tips of my fingers came into contact with something as soft as silk. My hand jerked back. “What…”
Stacey’s watery eyes had doubled in size. “Um, Layla, there’s a mirror above the fireplace. I think you need to look in it.”
I met Roth’s gaze for a second before I spun around and all but ran to the fireplace I was sure Stacey’s mom had never used. Clutching the white mantel, I stared at my reflection.
I looked normal, like I did before I shifted…like I was going to class or something. My eyes were the palest shade of gray, a watered-down blue. My hair was so blond it was almost white, and a mess of waves that went in every direction like usual. I looked like a colorless china doll, which was nothing new, except for the two fangs jutting out of my mouth. I wouldn’t show them off at school, but that wasn’t what caught my attention and held it.
It was my wings.
They were large, not as massive as Zayne’s or Roth’s, and normally they were almost leathery in texture, but now they were black…black and feathered. Like legit feathered. That soft, silky thing I’d felt? It had been tiny feathers.
“Oh my God,” I whispered at my reflection. “I have feathers.”
“Those are definitely feathered wings,” Roth commented.
I whipped around, knocking over a lamp with my feathered right wing. “I have feathers on my wings!”
Roth cocked his head to the side. “Yeah, you do.”
He was absolutely no help, so I turned to Zayne. “Why do I have feathers on my wings?”
Zayne shook his head slowly. “I don’t know, Layla. I’ve never seen anything like this.”
“Liar,” hissed Roth, shooting him a dark look. “You’ve seen that before. So have I.”
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GiveawayThis Broken Wondrous World by Jon Skovron
Series: Man Made Boy #2
Published by Viking Juvenille on August 4, 2015
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“My fellow monsters,” said Moreau. “No longer will we hide in the shadows, cringing, cowardly, hiding our true potential. You see, the humans do not view us as people. We must force them to expand their view of personhood to include us. By any means necessary.”
A year ago, Boy, the son of Frankenstein’s monster, had never even met a human. Now he’s living with his human “family,” the descendants of Dr. Frankenstein, in Switzerland. That is, until the maniacal genius Dr. Moreau, long-ago banished to a remote island for his crimes against humanity, asks for Boy's help. Moreau wants Boy to join his army of animal/human hybrid creatures and help him overthrow human society. Boy will do anything to save this broken, wondrous world from the war that threatens to split it in two. But how much will he have to give up? And is the world worth saving?
This book was like reading a graphic novel for me- something completely out of my comfort zone and my predictable preferences. The fact that I ended up enjoying this book (a lot, actually), makes me question how well I know myself.
TBWW is rife with political, cultural, and societal commentary dressed up in a wonderfully insane premise and wonderfully colorful characters who are far from human, but surprisingly humane.
Jon’s writing has a mad genius feel to it, and he regularly mixes instances of pure juvenile prose with clever, enlightening moments of eloquence. (Yes. I just said that.) I found myself reflecting on what I was reading often, trying to piece together what the author was ”really saying” beneath the gruesome and fantastical story. I even found myself staring at the cover, trying to figure out why the KEN was lighter in the word BROKEN. Now, that may just be me going overboard reading into things, but I love stories that make me do that. Stories that make me think a novel stands for something greater than the sum of its parts. And I think that’s maybe one of the things the author pieces together about our monstrous, “flesh golem”, Boy. Although quite frightening on the outside, he is often times more human in thought and emotion than those around him.
“…I have not seen your kind here in over a century.”
” Ya. A giant man made from dead men.”
“The technical term is ‘flesh golem’.” Golems were people made from inanimate objects. The material could be anything- clay, stone, metal. As far as I knew, my parents and I were the only ones made from body parts.
The world building is nicely done between the different time zones visited throughout the novel, but the characters definitely steal the show over the action packed plot. At some points in the novel I found myself thinking “I’m gonna throw up in my mouth”. The Doctor Moreau thread to the story was wholly grotesque and gut- wrenching.
While La Perricholi, a Latin American bad ass, was my favorite character in the novel, there were plenty of others to choose from, though none as show stopping as her in my opinion.
Then a slim figure dressed in black and red ran into the middle of the fight, striking out at the pig men so fast that the movements were only a blur. A moment later, the three pig men dropped to the ground and a women stood next to Henri. She looked to be in her early twenties, wore a black dress with red ruffles, and had a single red rose tucked into her long black hair.
This Broken Wondrous World takes the reader across continents and across the vast complexities of the human psyche. Fast-paced and thought-provoking, TBWW is as entertaining as a novel can get. After finishing the book, I imagined myself sitting across from an intimidating and mysterious looking Jon Skovron with a note pad in one of my hands and a pencil clutched in the other, desperately asking, “But what does it all mean?!”. And of course, he responds, “Silly girl. Trix are for kids!”.
October is around the corner and Random House has given us another Illuminae teaser to share! Illuminae is already available for pre-order at the links below:
Make sure to check out the awesome Illuminae website after watching the teaser video, and check out the out-of-this-world ships that are featured in the story. And grab the Illuminae COUNT DOWN WIDGET for your blog!
Grab the code for the COUNTDOWN WIDGET!
Once Upon A Crime by P.J. Brackston
Explore the ships here:
Series: A Brothers Grimm Mystery #2
Published by Pegasus Books on July 15, 2015
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From New York Times bestselling author P. J. Brackston comes the prequel to Gretel and the Case of the Missing Frog Prints, the new novel in the rollicking series featuring Gretel, all grown up and working as a private investigator in 18th century Bavaria.
Gretel (yes, that Gretel) is now 35, very large, still living with her brother Hans, and working as a private investigator. The small, sleepy town of Gesternstadt is shaken to its pretty foundations when the workshop of the local cart maker is burnt to the ground, and a body is discovered in the ashes. It is Gretel who notices that the cadaver is missing a finger.
At first, she does not see this as significant, as her mind is fully focused on a new case. Not that she wouldn’t far rather be investigating an intriguing murder, but her client is willing to pay over the odds, so she must content herself with trying to trace three missing cats. It is not until she is further into her investigations that she realizes the two events are inextricably and dangerously connected, and that the mystery of the missing cats will lead her into perilous situations and frightening company.
Very soon Gretel finds herself accused of kidnapping Princess Charlotte, twice locked up in the cells at the Summer Schloss, repelling the advances of an amorous troll, strapped to a rack in Herr Schmerz’s torture chamber, and fleeing a murder charge. With dubious help from her brother (whose scant wits are habitually addled by drink), she must prove her innocence, solve the puzzle of the unidentified corpse, and find the stolen cats before they meet a grisly end
You can find my other reviews of Paula Brackston’s novels HERE.
I was sent a copy of Once Upon A Crime from the publisher in exchange for an honest review, so I have not had the pleasure of reading the first book in this series. In fact, I didn’t even know this series existed until the publisher emailed me. I’m going to have to start stalking Paula Brackston so I can stay in the loop about her work. Everything she writes is MAGIC.
Going into this novel, the 2013 film Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters, immediately came to mind. OUAC is definitely reminiscent of this film, but where the story and characterization in the movie fell flat for me, Paula captures and creates with such wit and comedic timing in her own spin on the story.
I absolutely LOVED experiencing the same cleverness and lyrical quality I love about Paula’s Historical Fiction/Fantasy novels in this wholly entertaining, satirical masterpiece. Once Upon A Crime is full of knee-slapping hilarity, shady scenarios, and damn good writing. All things I’ve come to expect from Backston’s work.
Set in 1776 Bavaria, Brackston weaves together a comical mystery revolving around a Princess, dead bodies, missing kittens, a love-sick giant and a lusty troll. I have to say, the characters were more absorbing than the plot for me and that’s exactly how I like it.
Thatched roofs, taverns and cottages awash in the warm glow of walk-in fire places, and the kind of frothy beer that strikes up memories of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast are all images that invaded the senses in OUAC. The world building is nothing short of a fairy-tale.
As a spoof on the traditional Hansel and Gretel children’s story, Paula achieves the perfect adult retelling casting Hansel and Gretel as slap-stick detectives in their mid-thirties. The story flowed at a leisurely pace, and the plot kept me guessing until the end. I was completely charmed and humored by this Brothers Grimm Mystery, and I look forward to reading the rest in the series.A Royal Experiment by Janice Hadlow
Published by Henry Holt & Co. on November 18, 2014
Source: the Publisher
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The surprising, deliciously dramatic, and ultimately heartbreaking story of King George III’s radical pursuit of happiness in his private life with Queen Charlotte and their 15 children
In the U.S., Britain's George III, the protagonist of A Royal Experiment, is known as the king from whom Americans won their independence and as "the mad king," but in Janice Hadlow’s groundbreaking and entertaining new biography, he is another character altogether—compelling and relatable.
He was the first of Britain’s three Hanoverian kings to be born in England, the first to identify as native of the nation he ruled. But this was far from the only difference between him and his predecessors. Neither of the previous Georges was faithful to his wife, nor to his mistresses. Both hated their own sons. And, overall, their children were angry, jealous, and disaffected schemers, whose palace shenanigans kick off Hadlow's juicy narrative and also made their lives unhappy ones.
Pained by his childhood amid this cruel and feuding family, George came to the throne aspiring to be a new kind of king—a force for moral good. And to be that new kind of king, he had to be a new kind of man. Against his irresistibly awful family background—of brutal royal intrigue, infidelity, and betrayal—George fervently pursued a radical domestic dream: he would have a faithful marriage and raise loving, educated, and resilient children.
The struggle of King George—along with his wife, Queen Charlotte, and their 15 children—to pursue a passion for family will surprise history buffs and delight a broad swath of biography readers and royal watchers.
Such a wonderfully written and thoroughly explored family dynasty. This is one of my new favorite Royal Biographies. A Royal Experiment is as compelling and absorbing as a novel.
Most of us who dabble in Historical reading and Historical films might have a faint idea about who King George III is. Or maybe he sounds familiar from school days spent in American History class learning about the American Revolution. Those who live outside of America and studied European History or pursued History outside of high-school will be more familiar with him. Before reading A Royal Experiment, the only things I ” knew” about King George III were from the 1994 film The Madness of King George. (It’s a fun movie, and if you have Amazon Prime you can watch it for FREE here.) Looking back at the film after having read A Royal Experiment, it now seems like an unsympathetic caricature of King George III. Janice Hadlow does an exquisite job of exploring George the monarch and George the man in her Historical Biography, and shows how George III set out right from the start to rule England differently than his predecessors, King George I & II. A Royal Experiement kept me utterly captivated through 700+ pages of the Hanoverian dynasty and George the III’s life and rule.
Hadlow’s writing is refreshing and has a historical pop-culture edge to it that will make this book appealing to the King George scholar as well as the King George laymen. Some might say Hadlow’s writing is a paradox. A Royal Experiment reads with the historical vigor and detail of a text-book while being a wildly entertaining page turner. The historical world building and context of what was going on in and around England leading up to and during George III’s reign is captured in wonderful detail.
If Britain in 1760, was a volatile and sometimes intimidating place, it was also an increasingly wealthy one. Almost every visitor commented on the general air of comfortable prosperity that manifested itself in the clean and well-appointed private houses, the luxurious inns and, above all, in the quality of the roads […] From the moment of their arrival, travellers to Britain were struck by the sheer busyness of the place. They were astonished by the air of perpetual activity, not just the roads, but in the teeming streets; in the ports dominated by the masts of tightly packed ships; on the new canal systems, thronged with burdened barges; in the parks and pleasure gardens, where rich and poor mingled in huge numbers in pursuit of a good time.
I also enjoyed the insight into Queen Caroline’s character, George’s wife. Hadlow leaves no detail to the imagination, and she laid bare the kind of relationship George had with all of his family members and confidantes. The life and times of King George III reads like the best kind of fiction. Drama, romance, politics, gossip, betrayal, passion, and despair. A Royal Experiment would do well to be made into a BBC series. I had NEVER been interested in the House of Hanover until this book, and now I am completely fascinated with this period of British History. I was sad for A Royal Experiment to end, and I cannot wait to read the next book Janice Hadlow writes.
Here’s the trailer for The Madness of King George if you’re interested, but I wholly recommend reading Janice Hadlow’s A Royal Experiment for a more accurate and more entertaining window into King George’s life.
His Last Mistress by Andrea Zuvich
Published by Self Published on July 5, 2013
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This story charts the tragic romance between the dashing but doomed James Scott, Duke of Monmouth and the virtuous Lady Henrietta Wentworth. Monmouth, eldest illegitimate son of King Charles II, is already married and infamous for his womanising ways. Henrietta is engaged to another. Despite the dangers, Henrietta finds she cannot resist him. When his father dies, the malleable Monmouth falls prey to schemes, plots and rebellion that will surely lead to the Tower.
His Last Mistress is a passionate, sometimes explicit, carefully researched and ultimately moving story of love and loss, set against a backdrop of dangerous political unrest, brutal religious tensions, and the looming question of who will be the next King.
I’m wrapping up my Monarch Madness posts this weekend!
Today I’m reviewing and posting a GIVEAWAY of Andrea Zuvich’s intoxicating novel, His Last Mistress.
You will fall madly in love with this book if you are a fan of The Seventeenth Century, political intrigue, court gossip, romance, and betrayal.
His Last Mistress follows the passionate love affair between the Duke of Monmouth, an illegitimate son of King Charles II, and Henrietta Wentworth, a Lady of the court who is doomed to a loveless marriage until she catches the eye of Monmouth.
To my knowledge, I had never read anything about this romantic duo until His Last Mistress, and I loved being introduced to characters who are usually left to the peripheral of the historical eye. This Historical Romance/Biographical Fiction elegantly mixes in well researched facts with the author’s captivating storytelling. Fans of general Historical Fiction and die-hard Merry Monarch fans will both be swept up in this tragic tale.
I enjoyed the pace of the novel and was wholly entertained by the two main characters. His Last Mistress is full of fist-biting moments both in and out of the bedroom. ENTER BELOW TO WIN an EBOOK of His Last Mistress, and stop by Andrea Zuvich’s wonderful website: The Seventeenth Century Lady. Seriously. Her website is a dream for History lovers of this era.
About the Author
I’m a 17th-Century historian, specialising in the Late Stuart period, with an emphasis on the reign of William and Mary (1689-1702). I live in Windsor, England.
I studied at Rockledge High School, from which I received my Diploma, then Brevard Community College where I obtained my Associate’s Degree in History, and became a member of Phi Theta Kappa honour society. I went on to study at the University of Central Florida, where I obtained two Bachelor’s degrees – one in Anthropology and one in History. I then continued my education in history online through the University of Oxford, Princeton University, and the Curtis Institute of Music.
Since graduating in 2008, I have been independently researching the 17th-century – a time I have always loved and had a keen interest in, and that passion has turned into this website and my work in historical fiction and history articles.
Visit Andrea’s website and get your EBook SIGNED via the Authorgraph on the right side of her page!The Midnight Witch by Paula Brackston
Published by St. Martin's Griffin, Thomas Dunne Books on March 25, 2014
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"The dead are seldom silent. All that is required for them to be heard is that someone be willing to listen. I have been listening to the dead all my life."
Lilith is the daughter of the sixth Duke of Radnor. She is one of the most beautiful young women in London and engaged to the city’s most eligible bachelor. She is also a witch.
When her father dies, her hapless brother Freddie takes the title. But it is Lilith, instructed in the art of necromancy, who inherits their father’s role as Head Witch of the Lazarus Coven. And it is Lilith who must face the threat of the Sentinels, a powerful group of sorcerers intent on reclaiming the Elixir from the coven’s guardianship for their own dark purposes. Lilith knows the Lazarus creed: secrecy and silence. To abandon either would put both the coven and all she holds dear in grave danger. She has spent her life honoring it, right down to her charming fiancé and fellow witch, Viscount Louis Harcourt.
Until the day she meets Bram, a talented artist who is neither a witch nor a member of her class. With him, she must not be secret and silent. Despite her loyalty to the coven and duty to her family, Lilith cannot keep her life as a witch hidden from the man she loves.
To tell him will risk everything.
Spanning the opulence of Edwardian London and the dark days of World War I, The Midnight Witch is the third novel from New York Timesbestselling author Paula Brackston.
Okay, so this book doesn’t technically involve a monarch BUT it does involve a Duke and Duchess, so I’ve decided to include this review and the giveaway hosted by St.Martin’s Press.
I had not had the pleasure of reading one of Paula Brackston’s books until The Midnight Witch, and I cannot believe it took me this long to get around to it.
I can’t imagine a more magical combination for a Historical Fiction lover and all around genre lover than what Ms. Brackston has merged together in this book. We have: Royalty, World War I, Witches, Ghosts, Bohemia, Romance, and CATS. ——-Yes, you read that correctly; all of those luscious elements are embodied in this book.
Lilith has two very separate lives; she’s a Duchess and she’s the head witch of her coven. A necromancer coven. Lilith’s coven communes with the dead and can bring the departed back to life and use spirits as guides and helpers. Lilith keeps her witch side under the cloak of night, but both of her worlds end up colliding in this novel. The paranormal and the mundane become inextricably linked as Lilith discovers a sinister plot that will harm those she loves most.
And then she looks up and spies Bram, and her green eyes shine, and the smile with which she greets him warms his heart. As soon as she reaches him he snatches up her hand and presses it to his lips. For a moment they stand close, without speaking, desire fizzing between them.
The romance that spans the novel is beautiful and bohemian-like. Lilith is torn between the gentelman that is right for her status, and the one that is right for her heart.
I really enjoyed Brackston’s characters, and felt like they had a familiarity to them. The way the story unfolds was reminiscent of Anne Rice’s The Witching Hour. The Midnight Witch had a very epic feel and pace to it. The writing was beautiful and lyrical, but I would have liked a little more of the time period to have been captured as far as what was going on outside of Lilith’s circle. The part in the summary that mentions World War I was a huge pull-factor for me, but what is captured of it in the story is not satisfying for someone who really enjoys this time period.
Overall, I really liked this book and was inspired to read more of Brackston’s work. Full of rich descriptive detail and wonderfully crafted sentences, The Midnight Witch was a pleasure to read. ENTER BELOW for a finished Paperback copy of The Midnight Witch that includes a SNEAK PEAK at Paula’s forthcoming novel, The Silver Witch!Easy With You by Kristen Proby
Series: With Me in Seattle #8.5
Published by Evil Eye Concepts on March 24th, 2015
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Nothing has ever come easy for Lila Bailey. She’s fought for every good thing in her life during every day of her thirty-one years. Aside from that one night with an impossible to deny stranger a year ago, Lila is the epitome of responsible.
She’s pulled herself out of the train wreck of her childhood, proud to be a professor at Tulane University and laying down roots in a city she’s grown to love. But when some of her female students are viciously murdered, Lila’s shaken to the core and unsure of whom she can trust in New Orleans. When the police detective assigned to the murder case comes to investigate, she’s even more surprised to find herself staring into the eyes of the man that made her toes curl last year.
In an attempt to move on from the tragic loss of his wife, Asher Smith moved his daughter and himself to a new city, ready for a fresh start. A damn fine police lieutenant, but new to the New Orleans force, Asher has a lot to prove to his colleagues and himself.
With a murderer terrorizing the Tulane University campus, Asher finds himself toe-to-toe with the one woman that haunts his dreams. His hands, his lips, his body know her as intimately as he’s ever known anyone. As he learns her mind and heart as well, Asher wants nothing more than to keep her safe, in his bed, and in his and his daughter’s lives for the long haul.
But when Lila becomes the target, can Asher save her in time, or will he lose another woman he loves?
Oh my, I think I liked this novella better than the last few books in the With You in Seattle series. Being that is a novella, this story went by so quick, I was sad when it ended. I wish that we would have gotten more time with Lila, Asher and Casey. I really enjoyed getting to know these characters and their backstories. Especially Asher & Casey’s story. They’ve been through a lot and it’s really quite heartbreaking when you learn about what happened to his wife and Casey’s mother. I’m so glad that they found Lila, I think she was great for both Asher & Casey. 🙂
One thing that I really liked about this book was bringing the case that Asher is working on into the story. It added a bit of mystery and some suspense to the story. I think Kristen should do some more of that in the future. A little suspense always makes the story more interesting. 😉
While we’re in New Orleans getting to know Lily & Asher, we get a little visit with Matt & Nic when they came in to town from Seattle to visit Asher, as well as catch up a bit with Eli & Kate from Easy Love. Easy With You did a great job of blending both the With You in Seattle series (We first met Asher in Matt story, Tied With you, as he was Matt’s partner.) with the Boudreaux series (Lila is Kate’s BFF.) It was a very quick read, but so worth it. I hope that we see these characters some more in the future.
Boy, between this book and Easy Love I really want to visit New Orleans and eat some beignets. Who wants to go with me? 🙂
Thanks to Inkslinger & Kristen Proby for the chance to read and review this book for the blog tour. 😉
The Queen's Dwarf by Ella March Chase
“It’s been so long since I had sex, I don’t even know if my vagina still works,” I admit in a whisper, making Kate laugh.
“Trust me, it works.”
“How do you know?”
She simply continues to laugh.
“Good morning, ladies.”
Our heads both whip up at the deep, sexy voice, and I’m suddenly staring at a very sweaty, very half-naked, Asher.
“Good morning,” Kate says beside me, but I’m not paying attention to the words they’re saying. My mouth goes dry at the sight of Asher’s naked torso. He’s wearing running shorts, with his shirt tucked into the waist at his hip. He has earbuds in his ears, leading to his phone in his pocket.
He’s panting from his run, and sweat is running down his forehead, his cheek.
His fucking amazing chest.
One drop of sweat slowly makes its way down his sternum to his chiseled abs, and it takes everything in me to not lean over and lick it off.
Asher’s eyes are laughing as he props his hands on his hips, watching me. “How are you?”
“Oh, I’m fine.”
Kate snickers beside me, earning a kick to the shin from me.
“You look amazing,” he replies and offers me that half-smile. The one that promises all kinds of amazing naughtiness and has kept me up many a night over the past nine months.
“Thank you,” I murmur. Why am I so shy with him now? That night at the bar, I was confident. I knew exactly what I wanted, and that was him. I wasn’t shy. I didn’t hesitate.
And now I feel tongue-tied and hot.
Probably because now I know what he’s capable of.
Published by Thomas Dunne Books on January 21, 2014
Source: the Publisher
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It's 1629, and King Charles I and his French queen Henrietta-Maria have reigned in England for less than three years. Young dwarf Jeffrey Hudson is swept away from a village shambles and plunged into the Stuart court when his father sells him to the most hated man in England--the Duke of Buckingham.
Buckingham trains Jeffrey to be his spy in the household of Charles' seventeen-year-old bride, hoping to gain intelligence that will help him undermine the vivacious queen's influence with the king. Desperately homesick in a country that hates her for her nationality and Catholic faith, Henrietta-Maria surrounds herself with her "Royal Menagerie of Freaks and Curiosities of Nature"--a "collection" consisting of a giant, two other dwarves, a rope dancer, an acrobat/animal trainer and now Jeffrey, who is dubbed "Lord Minimus."
Dropped into this family of misfits, Jeffrey must negotiate a labyrinth of court intrigue and his own increasingly divided loyalties. For not even the plotting of the Duke nor the dangers of a tumultuous kingdom can order the heart of a man. Though he is only eighteen inches tall, Jeffrey Hudson's love will reach far beyond his grasp--to the queen he has been sent to destroy.
Full of vibrant period detail and with shades of Gregory Maguire's Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister and Philippa Gregory's The Queen's Fool, The Queen's Dwarf is a rich, thrilling and evocative portrait of an intriguing era
The Queen’s Dwarf was a completely engrossing historical tale of turmoil and intrigue from the perspective of the cherubic, 18 inch tall Jeffrey Hudson- a spy planted in the Queen’s Menagerie of freaks.
Jeffrey Hudson, The Queen’s Dwarf, and Queen Henrietta Maria
I have not read much historical biography or fiction from the reign of King Charles I, and this book was such a great introduction to the time period. The Stuart era is lushly crafted, and the author moves her characters beyond the personas we usually associate with royalty. Ella March Chase gives her characters just the right amount of depth and development, and really grabbed me on the psychological level of each of the main players.
Was I like these people? Once I stepped through this door, I would be embracing the fact that I was a grotesque, repellent as the living corpse or the aged fool who seemed constructed of nothing but bile and gristle.
Still, what did it matter what outcasts such as these thought of me? I took a bold step into the room, trying to seem confident, though my breeches were bagging. […]
“Look at the shape of him!” I heard someone murmur.
“An angelic freak,” another marveled.
“This is Jeffrey Hudson.” Will said, interrupting. “His ears may be small, but they work just fine.”
Jeffrey’s character was endearing and hypnotic. It was somewhat heartbreaking- here was the complex reality of a young man who lived his life before the palace as someone who tried to blend in and navigate the world without being squashed to death. And then of a young man who is thrust into court life as a freakish marvel and is looked at as a ”pet” or possession. I loved how the author captured the sadness and frustration of Jeffrey as a man with desires and feelings the same as any normal size person but being prevented from expressing those feelings or embracing them wholly because of his dwarfism. I couldn’t help but feel a protectiveness towards Jeffrey by the end of the novel. I loved being inside of his head and seeing him go through the very real, very troubling situations that tested his duties to Buckingham- the devilish duke that took him away from his family and employed him as his spy-and his loyalty to the French Queen. Loyalty that Jefferey could not help but feel towards the woman he was meant to destroy because he was so beguiled by her tenderness towards him and by her naivete.
Her luminous brown eyes sank a hook in my heart. I could feel them drawing me in. I bowed, flinging off Goodfellow’s cloak, baring my ridiculousness on purpose. Laughter rose from the ladies and even the queen herself.
King Charles I, Queen Henrietta Maria, Duke of Buckingham
It was wonderful to be shown the perspective of a commoner and what Jeffrey thought about royalty and the monarchs while living beyond the palace walls, and then how that changed once he was in the midst of it all. It’s seems everyone, including Buckingham, was much more complex and tormented than one would assume. Despite the lavish parties, entertainment, and settings, every day in court seemed like a day playing Russian Roulette. I really enjoyed how the author meticulously represented all of this through her descriptive details that encompassed much more than lovely or -freakish- facades.
The pacing of the story was just right, so as to fully develop every aspect of Jeffrey’s life and experiences and the Stuart era. There were many flashbacks throughout that help us understand Jeffrey as a character, and give insight to how he suspected his dwarfism came about. I can’t wait to read another book by Ella March Chase, and I recommend The Queen’s Dwarf to any Historical Fiction fan who is interested in reading about royalty from an un-royal and unique perspective. This book is also perfect for anyone interested in the Stuart era, or anyone who wants to be swept up in a lovely interpretation and depiction of real historical figures.
Many thanks to St.Martin’s Griffin for providing me with a copy for review of this novel, and for also providing a finished paperback copy for giveaway. The giveaway is open to U.S. and Canada residents only. Enter below for a chance TO WIN!Turtle Bay by Tiffany King
Published by Self Published on March 20, 2015
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If you're a teenager in a small, rural area, how do you exist when your eccentric, free-spirited parents are the town freaks everyone laughs at?
For sixteen-year-old Rainbow Honeywell—or Rain, as she insists on being called—the answer was to become the queen of all pranks. She never wanted to be a troublemaker, but the label quickly stuck when everyone in Huntsville, Kansas, became a target. All she wanted was to deflect the negative attention off her parents, but Rain's plan backfired to the max, landing her in a heap of trouble with the local authorities and expelled from high school.
An unexpected inheritance offers Rain an opportunity for a new beginning when she and her family move across the country to the quaint beach community of Turtle Bay, Florida.
Determined to make the best of her second chance, Rain vows to walk the straight and narrow, hoping her parents will fly under the radar while she soaks up some fun in the sun, sandy beaches, and hot, tanned guys. Unfortunately, she picks the wrong new friends, and a late night party lands her back in the kind of trouble she had been hoping to avoid. As the newbie in town with a record, Rain takes the brunt of the punishment when an unforgiving judge chooses to make an example out of her and slaps her with enough community service hours to keep her busy until she is old and gray.
Facing the harsh reality of paying for the actions of others while atoning for her own past sins, Rain is paired up with Josh Shaw, a judgmental local lifeguard whose love for the beach and the environment is eclipsed only by his distaste for those who trash it. As far as Josh is concerned, Rain is guilty and got what she deserved, regardless of her side of the story. To make matters worse, a tropical storm sits in the Atlantic, threatening to wreak havoc on the small beach community.
Things slowly change as Rain begins to appreciate her surroundings through Josh's eyes, proving she is not the person he thinks she is. Their feelings for one another blossom as the tropical storm grows into a hurricane and bears down on Turtle Bay. With impending danger looming, the small beach community must come together in order to ride out the storm.
I could almost see the tension leave their shoulders. “Look at our Rainbow, all grown up,” Butch said, pretending to wipe away a tear. Unlike the reluctance Buttercup had shown, Butch was all for me getting a job. He appreciated the fact I wanted to work for what I wanted.
“Aw, don’t cry, Creston,” I said, patting him on the back.
“Butch,” he corrected.
“Rain,” I countered.
“I’ll never understand why you’d want to change the name we felt suited you so well,” Butch grumbled, churning up the ground with the hoe.
“I’m sure your parents felt the same way,” I pointed out, heading for the main house so I could grab some grub before I headed to Tasty Freeze.
“Creston is not a name. It’s the gooey stuff in the corner of your eye in the morning,” he griped, stabbing at the ground.
“That’s gross, dear, and you need to turn the earth, not pulverize it,” Buttercup said, humming to herself as she sorted through her seeds. She already seemed to have moved on from her mistrust from moments before. Buttercup embraced harmony and refused to rise to conflict. It was nice most of the time, but a pain when you were itching for a fight.Bad Girls Don't Die by Katie Alender
Series: Bad Girls Don't Die #1
Published by Disney Hyperion on April 21, 2009
Source: Purchased by Reviewer
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Alexis thought she led a typically dysfunctional high school existence. Dysfunctional like her parents' marriage; her doll-crazy twelve-year-old sister, Kasey; and even her own anti-social, anti-cheerleader attitude. When a family fight results in some tearful sisterly bonding, Alexis realizes that her life is creeping from dysfunction into danger. Kasey is acting stranger than ever: her blue eyes go green sometimes; she uses old-fashioned language; and she even loses track of chunks of time, claiming to know nothing about her strange behavior. Their old house is changing, too. Doors open and close by themselves; water boils on the unlit stove; and an unplugged air conditioner turns the house cold enough to see their breath in.
Alexis wants to think that it's all in her head, but soon, what she liked to think of as silly parlor tricks are becoming life-threatening--to her, her family, and to her budding relationship with the class president. Alexis knows she's the only person who can stop Kasey -- but what if that green-eyed girl isn't even Kasey anymore?
A fresh and funny take on the classic possessed-doll-poltergeist story.
I love Katie Alender. Her writing is clever and carries that kind of quick-wit charm you see on the big screen or current television shows aimed at teens. I really enjoy Katie’s writing and her simple yet effective characterization. I first fell in love with Katie’s writing in her book, Marie Antoinette, Serial Killer. You can check out my review of that one, here.
Alexis is our narrator, and she is your typical teenage girl who soon discovers her younger sister isn’t just being a spoiled brat; she’s POSSESSED. Alexis is easy to relate to and unlike many characters in horror films, she’s smart and rarely made me want to slap her.
Kasey, Alexis’s younger sister, is a character we end up feeling sympathetic for despite her demonic demeanor. I LOVE when an author does that with a character you naturally feel like you should hate. I continually felt conflicted about Kasey, and I loved the dimension that aspect of her character added to the story.
While there is a thin thread of romance in this story, it takes backseat but promises to be more center-stage by the end of the novel.
Now he had turned his whole body to face me. “I’ve never met anyone like you.”
I felt an urgent, almost magnetic pull between us. It made my throat feel dry and airy.
“This is so weird, ” I said, but it came out as a whisper.
He studied my face for a moment and then smiled.
Oh God, was it obvious that my heart was pounding? It was like those scenes in movies where the girl thinks the guy’s going to kiss her, so she closes her eyes and puckers up. Except I wasn’t just puckering my lips- I was puckering my whole soul.
This book is filled with all kinds of wonderfully-creeptastic scenes that will make you want to sleep with the lights on. The world-building is nicely done, the pacing was reminiscent of a teen thriller, and overall, this book is an entertaining and light-read that is definitely worth an add to your TBR list. Here’s one of my favorite and most infuriating scenes from the book:
“Go to bed, Kase.”
“Why did you want me to come in here?” she asked, looking around.
Was she kidding? “What are you talking about? I didn’t want you in here… It’s the middle of the night!”
She slumped and leaned away. Her hand brushed the hair back away from her face. It was a gesture of elegance, practiced and casual.
Then she reached out to my arm. Her fingers brushed my skin. “We can be friends,” she whispered.
I felt a sharp burn and looked down to find four red marks across my skin, where she’d touched me.
“You know what?” I said. “I’m sick of this. Get out of here.”
Kasey stood up suddenly, and grabbing the yearbook from my nightstand, threw it at the wall as hard as she could.
Then, with hard eyes, she backed away and hit herself in the face.
It took me a moment to process what I was seeing- my sister with an angry red mark on her jaw- and by the time I realized what she’d done, she was huddled on the floor screaming at the top of her lungs.