Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Review: Del Norte by Julia Robb

Title: Del Norte
Author: Julia Robb
Format: Ebook
Publisher: Self-published
Publish Date: December 2013
Source: I received a copy from the author; however, this did not affect my review.

What's the Story?:

From "San Angela is a rough place in 1870, and Magdalena Chapas knows all about it; from the men who shoot holes in each other while drinking in her saloon, the Del Norte, to the man who loved her, married her and left her without a word. 

Now Ray Cortez is back, and Magdalena doesn't know what her ex-husband wants.
Does it have anything to do with the gravestone she leaned on the Del Norte's back wall?
The stone says, "Americo Chapas, 1823-1868, Asesinado, Dios Lo Vengara, Murdered, God Will Avenge Him." 

Sing Kum knows about men. She was freezing to death in a boxcar when Lan found her and nursed her back to health. But Lan has a past and ambitions Sing only discovers when it's too late. She already loves him.

Dr. Wade Pickney knows what men can do because the Yankees locked him up in a POW camp during the war and almost starved him to death. Then they accused him of the unspeakable. 

Thomas knows what men can do because he was adjutant at the camp which imprisoned Wade.
Thomas, Magdalena's partner at the Del Norte, also knows Ray Cortez is going to be the death of somebody if he, Thomas, doesn't stop him. homas tells Magdalena that Ray was not a good man but she can trust him, she can love him. "Shut up," Magdalena says, fending off the drunks, slipping the cards from the faro box, raking in the money, and waiting for her world to explode around her."

My Two Cents:

"Del Norte" is a historical fiction story with strong Western adventure elements. It has an ensemble of characters who come from very different backgrounds whose lives all touch each other in this book. Westerns are not my usual fare but I appreciated this book for the characters and some of the detail used to bring them to life.

The characters were interesting. I definitely had my favorites. My very favorite character in this book was Sing. I felt bad for her. She comes to live with Lan with hopes of marriage. She knows that they would be a good fit for each other. Lan has other ideas and leaves poor Sing in the dust. I really wanted to know more about her and what made her tick. I thought it was so interesting that she still was so drawn to Lan even after she found out that he had very different ideas than her on what he wanted out of life in this place that was very new to both of them. There were other characters that I really enjoyed but I did wish that Sing had gotten a little more face time in this book.

The writing in this book was good. I liked all of the detail. The characters were very vibrant. Some of the conversations and the way that people spoke in this book felt quite modern and not like the 1870s time period that the book took place in, which took me out of the book a little bit.

Overall, this book would be a good pick for those looking for a character driven adventure story.


Tuesday, April 29, 2014

TLC Book Tours Review and Giveaway: I Am Livia by Phyllis T. Smith

Title: I Am Livia
Author: Phyllis T. Smith
Format: ARC
Publisher: Lake Union Publishing
Publish Date: May 1, 2014
Source: TLC Book Tours

What's the Story?:

From "At the tender age of fourteen, Livia Drusilla overhears her father and fellow aristocrats plotting the assassination of Julius Caesar. Proving herself an astute confidante, she becomes her father’s chief political asset—and reluctantly enters into an advantageous marriage to a prominent military officer. Her mother tells her, “It is possible for a woman to influence public affairs,” reminding Livia that—while she possesses a keen sense for the machinations of the Roman senate—she must also remain patient and practical.

But patience and practicality disappear from Livia’s mind when she meets Caesar’s heir, Octavianus. At only eighteen, he displays both power and modesty. A young wife by that point, Livia finds herself drawn to the golden-haired boy. In time, his fortunes will rise as Livia’s family faces terrible danger. But her sharp intellect—and her heart—will lead Livia to make an unbelievable choice: one that will give her greater sway over Rome than she could have ever foreseen."

My Two Cents:

"I am Livia" is a historical fiction tale of Ancient Rome that tells the story of Livia Drusilla, who moves in and out of the political circles of Rome. Told from Livia's own perspective, this book gives the reader a front row seat to an absolutely fascinating time. I really enjoyed seeing all of the political intrigue and romance of the time through Livia's eyes. My fellow historical fiction fans will really enjoy this tale with its fantastic detail.

I really liked Livia as a character. She was definitely one of the elements that really made the book for me. She is so smart and I loved that she was a book lover like I am. She realizes that the way that she moves in the political circles of the time is not something that is open to all women and she really takes advantage of her position. We get to see how she moves in and out of these circles and how she makes decisions that really change the way the politics of Rome move. This book definitely has a strong romantic element to it, which I loved reading about. Livia and Octavianus' relationship was really intriguing to me. I loved reading about them.

One thing that I really like about book blogging is that it has opened the doors to so many new doors for me. Before book blogging, I had read very few books set during the ancient time period. I am always happy to visit some place new. This book had some great armchair traveling in it. There is a lot of good detail there!

Overall, this is a great historical fiction story!


One lucky winner will win a copy of this book (U.S./CAN only)!

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Follow the Rest of the Tour:

Monday, April 21st: Passages to the Past – author guest post
Wednesday, April 23rd: Dwell in Possibility
Friday, April 25th: Svetlana’s Reads and Views – author guest post
Monday, April 28th: Historical Tapestry – author guest post “Why I Love Rome…”
Monday, April 28th: Words for Worms
Tuesday, April 29th: A Bookish Affair
Wednesday, April 30th: Italian Brat’s Obsessions
Friday, May 1st: Literally Jen
Monday, May 5th: Ageless Pages Reviews – author guest post
Wednesday, May 7th: Broken Teepee
Thursday, May 8th: The Most Happy Reader
Monday, May 12th: Passages to the Past
Tuesday, May 13th: Unabridged Chick
Thursday, May 15th: The Adventures of an Intrepid Reader
Monday, May 19th: Ageless Pages Reviews
Wednesday, May 21st: The Most Happy Reader - author guest post
Thursday, May 22nd: Books Without Any Pictures
Tuesday, May 27th: Col Reads
Tuesday, June 3rd: Svetlana’s Reads and Views
Wednesday, June 4th: Luxury Reading

Giveaway: Bunker Hill by Nathaniel Philbrick

Nathaniel Philbrick's phenomenal book, Bunker Hill, comes out in paperback today. Check out what I had to say in my review here!

Thanks to the lovely publishers, I am pleased to be able to give away a copy of this great book. Want to learn more about this fascinating episode in history? Fill out the Rafflecopter form below (U.S. only)!

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Monday, April 28, 2014

TLC Book Tours: On the Rocks by Erin Duffy

Title: On the Rocks
Author: Erin Duffy
Format: ARC
Publisher: William Morrow
Publish Date: April 22, 2014
Source: TLC Book Tours

What's the Story?:

From "Six months ago, Abby's life fell apart for all the world to see. Her longtime boyfriend-turned-fiancé, Ben, unceremoniously dumped her-on Facebook-while she was trying on dresses for the big day.

When the usual remedies-pints of Ben & Jerry's, sweatpants, and a comfy couch-fail to work their magic, her best friend, Grace, devises a plan to get Abby back on her game. She and Abby are going to spend the summer in Newport, in a quaint cottage by the sea, enjoying cool breezes, cocktails, and a crowd of gorgeous men.

But no matter how far away they go, Abby and Grace discover that in the era of social media-when everyone is preserving every little detail of their lives online-there is no real escape. Dating has never been easy. But now that the rules are more blurred than ever, how will they find true love? And even if they do, can romance stand a chance when a girl's every word and move can go viral with a single click?"

My Two Cents:

When Abby is unceremoniously dumped by her seemingly perfect fiance on Facebook, she is pretty sure that her life is over and that she is never going to get over this rejection. Her friend Grace gets her to break out of her shell and spend the summer at the shore, where some old friends and some new ones too show her that she can stand on her own and that there are good guys out there that still exist. This is a fun read about picking yourself off the ground and letting you be the one that saves yourself.

This is the second book by Erin Duffy. I read the first one, "Bond Girl" and really enjoyed it. And a lot of the reasons that I enjoyed "Bond Girl" are present again in this book. The writing is nicely paced and the way that the characters are written is really realistic and definitely pulled me into the book.

Abby is definitely a character that grew on me as the book went on and I'm glad that I gave her a chance. At first, I didn't like that she was very woe-is-me and seemed to care more about what people thought of her break-up than the fact that she was broken up. At first she seemed more sad about not having all of the things that go along with a wedding than not having her fiance. As the book goes on and Abby gets stronger and more secure in herself, she also grows and changes a lot. Once she realizes that it is up to her to save herself, she becomes a character that you will enjoy.

Overall, I enjoyed this book. It would be a perfect light read for the upcoming beach season!


Sunday, April 27, 2014

Review: Providence by Lisa Colozza Cocca

Title: Providence
Author: Lisa Colozza Cocca
Format: Hardcover
Publisher: Merit Press
Publish Date: March 18, 2014
Source: I received a copy from the publisher; however, this did not affect my review.

What's the Story?:

From "The eldest of ten children on a dirt-poor farm, Becky trudges through life as a full-time babysitter, trying to avoid her father's periodic violent rages. When the family's barn burns down, her father lays the blame on Becky, and her own mother tells her to run for it. 

Run she does, hopping into an empty freight car. There, in a duffel bag, Becky finds an abandoned baby girl, only hours old. After years of tending to her siblings, sixteen-year-old Becky knows just what a baby needs. This baby needs a mother. With no mother around, Becky decides, at least temporarily, this baby needs her. 

When Becky hops off the train in a small Georgia town, it's with baby "Georgia" in her arms. When she meets Rosie, an eccentric thrift-shop owner, who comes to value and love Becky as no one ever has, Becky rashly claims the baby as her own. Not everyone in town is as welcoming as Rosie, though. Many suspect Becky and her baby are not what they seem. Among the doubters is a beautiful, reclusive woman with her own terrible loss and a long history with Rosie. 

As Becky's life becomes entangled with the lives of the people in town, including a handsome boy who suspects Becky is hiding something from her past, she finds her secrets more difficult to keep. Becky should grab the baby and run, but her newfound home and job with Rosie have given Becky the family she's never known. Despite her guilt over leaving her mother alone, she is happy for the first time. But it's a happiness not meant to last. When the truth comes out, Becky has the biggest decision of her life to make. Should she run away again? Should she stay--and fight? Or lie? What does the future hold for Becky and Georgia? With a greatness of heart and a stubborn insistence on hope found in few novels of any genre, "Providence" proves that home is where you find it, love is an active verb, and family is more than just a word."

My Two Cents:

"Providence" is the story of Becky, a young teen trying to create a new life for herself after her family pushes her out. Becky hops a train and finds something that will change her life. When she finds a baby, she realizes that she needs to do everything to take care of the baby as well as herself. Luckily she lands in a friendly town filled with interesting people who have really big hearts. This is a warm tale that reminded me a lot of books like "Where the Heart Is" by Billie Letts.

I enjoyed this story! It starts out a little bit slow but as you get to know the characters and become invested in their story, the story begins to feel like it is going faster and then becomes quite exciting towards the end with the uncertainty surrounding what will happen to the characters. I enjoyed the writing for the most part. I wish that we got to see a little more about motivations of the different characters in the book, especially the main character, Becky, but overall I did enjoy the storytelling in this book.

The characters definitely make the story. I felt so bad for Becky. You want her to find a place that she can call home so badly because her family life was so horrible. I also really liked Rosie who sees right away that Becky and baby Georgia just need love, pure and simple love. She gives them a home and seems to have a sixth sense about giving Becky exactly the kind of loving home that Becky was so lacking.

This book would be perfect for when you are looking for a quaint story with a big heart!

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Review: The Shadow Queen by Sandra Gulland

Title: The Shadow Queen
Author: Sandra Gulland
Format: Ebook
Publisher: Doubleday
Publish Date: April 8, 2014
Source: Netgalley

What's the Story?:

From "A series of chance encounters gradually pull Claudette into the alluring orbit of Athénaïs de Montespan, mistress to Louis XIV and reigning "Shadow Queen." Needing someone to safeguard her secrets, Athénaïs offers to hire Claudette as her personal attendant.

Enticed by the promise of riches and respectability, Claudette leaves the world of the theater only to find that court is very much like a stage, with outward shows of loyalty masking more devious intentions. This parallel is not lost on Athénaïs, who fears political enemies are plotting her ruin as young courtesans angle to take the coveted spot in the king's bed.

Indeed, Claudette's "reputable" new position is marked by spying, illicit trysts and titanic power struggles. As Athénaïs, becomes ever more desperate to hold onto the King's favor, innocent love charms move into the realm of deadly Black Magic, and Claudette is forced to consider a move that will put her own life—and the family she loves so dearly—at risk.

Set against the gilded opulence of a newly-constructed Versailles and the War of Theaters, THE SHADOW QUEEN is a seductive, gripping novel about the lure of wealth, the illusion of power, and the increasingly uneasy relationship between two strong-willed women whose actions could shape the future of France."

My Two Cents:

"The Shadow Queen" is an engaging historical fiction tale of Claudette, a young woman who comes from a family of performers and actors and finds herself in the center of the court of France's Louis XIV as she becomes a confidante to Athenais, the King's mistress. Claudette was a real person, which made this tale even more fascinating to read.

Claudette is a really interesting character and I really liked that she was based on a real historical figure. Her voice felt really authentic to me and I love the way that she was written. She grew up in a family of performers and is very good at what she does. I loved reading about her family and all of their performances that they put on for the nobility. I think the world of theatre at that time must have been so absolutely fascinating and it really shines through in this book.

This book centers on the characters but it also touches on the importance of performers and actors in the political realm. I love historical fiction that takes place in the Royal Courts of Europe but a lot of them can kind of feel this same. The political and religion aspects of this book gave this book a totally different feeling that I ate up. Although many enjoyed their performances, the performers were often seen as almost being evil. The juxtaposition between so many enjoying theatre and how it interplayed with religion and politics was really interesting to me.

Overall, this was a fascinating take on court life and my fellow historical fiction fans will eat it up!


Friday, April 25, 2014

Review: Cooked by Michael Pollan

Title: Cooked
Author: Michael Pollan
Format: Hardcover
Publisher: The Penguin Press
Publish Date: April 23, 2013
Source: Library

What's the Story?:

From "In Cooked, Michael Pollan explores the previously uncharted territory of his own kitchen. Here, he discovers the enduring power of the four classical elements—fire, water, air, and earth—to transform the stuff of nature into delicious things to eat and drink. Apprenticing himself to a succession of culinary masters, Pollan learns how to grill with fire, cook with liquid, bake bread, and ferment everything from cheese to beer.

Each section of Cooked tracks Pollan’s effort to master a single classic recipe using one of the four elements. A North Carolina barbecue pit master tutors him in the primal magic of fire; a Chez Panisse–trained cook schools him in the art of braising; a celebrated baker teaches him how air transforms grain and water into a fragrant loaf of bread; and finally, several mad-genius “fermentos” (a tribe that includes brewers, cheese makers, and all kinds of picklers) reveal how fungi and bacteria can perform the most amazing alchemies of all. The reader learns alongside Pollan, but the lessons move beyond the practical to become an investigation of how cooking involves us in a web of social and ecological relationships. Cooking, above all, connects us.

The effects of not cooking are similarly far reaching. Relying upon corporations to process our food means we consume large quantities of fat, sugar, and salt; disrupt an essential link to the natural world; and weaken our relationships with family and friends. In fact, Cooked argues, taking back control of cooking may be the single most important step anyone can take to help make the American food system healthier and more sustainable. Reclaiming cooking as an act of enjoyment and self-reliance, learning to perform the magic of these everyday transformations, opens the door to a more nourishing life."

My Two Cents:

"Cooked" is Michael Pollan's latest book which is (perhaps unsurprisingly) another wonderful entry on food. I love Michael Pollan and he definitely falls on my "Anything They Come Out With I Will Read" list. I think he definitely has some sane advice in this crazy, crazy world of food and the way all of those yummy things come to us. This book tackles cooking. Pollan is asked a lot about how we the people can try to change the food industry for the better and his main suggestion is to cook more. Like actually cook with fresh produce and whole foods. In this fast paced world, it can be hard to find time to cook but it's definitely something worthy to toil at.

As with his other books, Pollan succeeds in not being preachy while he explores all of the different ways that we transform raw materials like meat, flour, veggies, and fruits into delicious, delicious food. You feel like you are exploring with him and he most definitely leaves you room to come to your own conclusions, which I really appreciate.

Each section focuses on a different way that we transform our food into things we want to eat such as barbeque or fermentation. I really like that the book was broken up this way. I especially loved the section on barbeque (who realized that true barbeque-ers were so serious about their craft???).

Pollan makes a good point of how cooking can actually be interesting and even relaxing. It can almost be a form of meditation. He shows that cooking doesn't necessarily need to be a chore (advice that I am really, really trying to take myself). Overall, if you enjoy food or cooking, you should really read this book!


Thursday, April 24, 2014

HFVBT Book Blast: Blackwell's Paradise

Blackwell's ParadiseBlackwell's Paradise
by V.E. Ulett

Publication Date: January 8, 2014
Old Salt Press LLC
Formats: Ebook, Paperback

Series: Blackwell's Adventures, Volume II
Genre: Historical Adventure/Naval HF

Relive the pleasure of falling into the past with the author of Captain Blackwell’s Prize, in Volume II of Blackwell’s Adventures.

The repercussions of a court martial and the ill-will of powerful men at the Admiralty pursue Royal Navy captain James Blackwell into the Pacific, where danger lurks around every coral reef. Even if Captain Blackwell and Mercedes survive the venture into the world of early nineteenth century exploration, can they emerge unchanged with their love intact. The mission to the Great South Sea will test their loyalties and strength, and define the characters of Captain Blackwell and his lady in Blackwell’s Paradise.

Enter the Goodreads Giveaway

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Blackwell's Paradise by V.E. Ulett

Blackwell's Paradise

by V.E. Ulett

Giveaway ends April 30, 2014. See the giveaway details at Goodreads.
Enter to win

Praise for Blackwell's Paradise

“Not for the faint hearted – Captain Blackwell pulls no punches! Prepare for a right roaring romp in the company of two of the most captivating characters in historical fiction.” - Alaric Bond, author of Turn A Blind Eye, and the Fighting Sail Series

Buy the Book

Amazon (eBook)
Amazon (Paperback)
Barnes & Noble (Nook)
Barnes & Noble (Paperback)
Book Depository

About the AuthorVE Ulett

A long time resident of California, V.E. Ulett is an avid reader as well as writer of historical fiction.

Proud to be an Old Salt Press author, V.E. is also a member of the National Books Critics Circle and an active member and reviewer for the Historical Novel Society.

As the long war in Europe comes to its conclusion, so does Captain Blackwell’s career in the Royal Navy in BLACKWELLS’ HOMECOMING, a story of the dangers and rewards of desire.

Author Links

Old Salt Press

Book Blast Schedule

April 1 Historical Tapestry
April 2 Broken Teepee
April 3 Confessions of an Avid Reader
April 4 The True Book Addict
April 7 Layered Pages
April 8 The Maiden's Court
April 9 Passages the Past
April 10 Just One More Chapter
April 11 Closed the Cover
April 12 Words and Peace
April 14 Luxury Reading
April 15 To Read or Not to Read
April 16 Peeking Between the Pages
April 18 So Many Books, So Little Time
April 21 Flashlight Commentary
April 22 Curling Up With a Good Book
April 23 HF Book Muse-News
April 24 A Bookish Affair
April 25 Oh, For the Hook of a Book
April 27 Kincavel Korner
April 28 CelticLady's Reviews
April 29 Historical Fiction Connection
April 30 Reading the Ages


To enter to win a copy of Blackwell's Paradise please complete the Rafflecopter giveaway form below. Giveaway is open to US and Canadian residents only.

Giveaway ends at 11:59pm on April 30th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
Winners will be chosen via Rafflecopter on May 1st and notified via email.
Winners have 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.

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Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Giveaway Winners!

I have several giveaway winners to announce today!

Eliza Knight Giveaway:

The Debt of Tamar:

The House at the End of Hope Street:

The Moon Sisters:

Queen Elizabeth's Daughter:

HFVBT Guest Post and Giveaway: Grist by Linda Little

I am very excited to welcome Linda Little here to A Bookish Affair today! Linda is the author of "Grist," a fascinating historical fiction tale!

Grist. “What a great title!” I’ve heard this repeatedly, along with, “what a beautiful image!” What else can people say as a book is launched and before they have opened it? Of course, despite sage advice to the contrary we all judge books by their covers. We know it, and “they” know it, and everyone in the book business knows it. This is why the title and the cover are such a big deal for publishers. I have had experience with small, medium and large publishers and with everyone the look of a book is critical.
I have long (I mean for about 15 years) thought Grist would be a wonderful title for a book. At one point I thought my second novel would be called Grist but the central story moved off in another direction. Both my first two novels had their titles changed after long discussions. Publishers just didn’t like my working titles. They were too this or not enough that. I capitulated in both cases bowing to their superior knowledge and more extensive experience in the business. Several years ago I was talking to a publisher who asked me what I was working on and when I told her she said it sounded great but of course the title would need to be changed because no one knows what “grist” means. Not this time, I thought. Not again. I’m using that title!
Luckily I found a terrific publisher (Roseway, an imprint of social justice publisher, Fernwood) who embraced the title and the book whole-heartedly. So Grist it is! What I love about this word is that it is very much a 19th century word so it immediately helps set the period. It is true that few people would be able to define the word with precision. All that is left for most of us today is the expression “grist for the mill.” In fact, grist is simply any grain that is destined for a mill. Anything that goes into the stones is grist. What distinguishes a handful of oats from a handful of oat grist is an intention. This oats is not earmarked for sale or fodder or seed; it is earmarked for the mill. It is grist. For the mill. It may be ground into flour (a sifted product) or meal (not sifted). The word embodies the ideas of grain, milling, fate, and choice simultaneously. Penelope MacLaughlin, my protagonist, is also noun, verb, and an idea. She is the subject and the object. The mill provides her with a living, a home, a place for her family, an identity, but the mill is also her nemesis, her enemy, her destruction. She grinds and she is ground. “I married Ewan MacLaughlin of my own free will,” she says. All through the novel she makes choices within the confines of her milling life. As she says to her granddaughter: “Perhaps it is God that grows the grain; I leave this to you to ponder. But it is man who determines which kernels will be planted as seed and which will be hauled to the mill for grist.”
That is the title; now what about the cover design? Choosing the cover image is one of the really delightful jobs of publishing a book. Once the heavy lifting has been done and we are down to more clerical types of editing and publicity duties, the first cover designs are floated. In the case of Grist I received five very different cover designs to consider. One I didn’t like, two were lovely, and the last two were intriguing. The one I didn’t like was easy to discard. The two lovely ones I sat with for a while but ultimately they were simply too static. They looked like the story was already over and everyone was living happily ever after. With only a slight tug to the heart I let them go. Then Bev (the publisher) and I began debating the relative merits of the final two. The images were 1) a technical drawing of a waterwheel and 2) the cropped image of a nineteenth century woman (which we ultimately chose). We went through many versions of each. I loved the waterwheel diagram but in the end I thought it would not be as likely to attract the reader I thought would most enjoy the book. The cropped woman is not conventionally pretty, just as Penelope is not. The image is off-centre and the top half of her face and head are out of the frame. It puts the woman in the “wrong” place. This contributes to a sense of unease—something is wrong. It suggests movement and troubles but also strength and a powerful female presence driving the novel.
The cover of a book calls out to its readers and I wanted my cover to be calling in precisely the right pitch. I think the cover’s sepia colouring, the 19th century dress, and the off-centre cropping give a very accurate representation of the story. Although I was sad to see the waterwheel drawing go, we were able to use the image elsewhere. It is reduced in size and you can find it reproduced at the start of each chapter. Of course in addition to the image and the title the front cover must feature to author’s name. In my humble opinion, it all looks terrific. But then as any writer will tell you, when a book finally has your own name printed on the cover it is hard to see it as anything other than absolutely gorgeous!


One lucky winner will win a paperback copy of Grist (U.S. and CAN only, please)! Just fill out the Rafflecopter form below!

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Follow the Rest of the Tour:

Monday, April 14
Interview & Giveaway at Passages to the Past
Tuesday, April 15
Review at Reading the Past
Guest Post at Closed the Cover
Wednesday, April 16
Review at Confessions of an Avid Reader
Thursday, April 17
Guest Post & Giveaway at Confessions of an Avid Reader
Monday, April 21
Review & Giveaway at Peeking Between the Pages
Tuesday, April 22
Review at A Bookish Affair
Wednesday, April 23
Review at Flashlight Commentary
Review & Giveaway at The True Book Addict
Guest Post & Giveaway at A Bookish Affair
Thursday, April 24
Review at CelticLady’s Reviews
Spotlight & Giveaway at So Many Precious Books, So Little Time
Friday, April 25
Guest Post & Giveaway at Historical Fiction Connection

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Tuesday, April 22, 2014

HF Virtual Book Tours: Grist by Linda Little

Title: Grist
Author: Linda Little
Format: Ebook
Publisher: Roseway Publishing
Publish Date: April 15, 2014
Source: HF Virtual Book Tours

What's the Story?:

From "“This is the story of how you were loved,” Penelope MacLaughlin whispers to her granddaughter.

Penelope MacLaughlin marries a miller and gradually discovers he is not as she imagined. Nonetheless she remains determined to make the best of life at the lonely mill up the Gunn Brook as she struggles to build a home around her husband’s eccentricities. His increasing absence leaves Penelope to run the mill herself, providing her with a living but also destroying the people she loves most. Penelope struggles with loss and isolation, and suffers the gradual erosion of her sense of self. A series of betrayals leaves her with nothing but the mill and her determination to save her grandchildren from their disturbed father. While she can prepare her grandsons for independence, her granddaughter is too young and so receives the greater gift: the story that made them all."

My Two Cents:

"Grist" is a really interesting historical fiction tale that will be perfect for those looking for strong and memorable characters and great historical detail. Penelope believes that she is going to be alone as a spinster schoolteacher until Ewan comes to town. Ewan fascinates Penelope and intrigues her. They fall quickly for each other and there is no question that Penelope will leave what she knows and go to live with Ewan. Things with him are not at all what they seem though.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book and a big part of that was how much I enjoyed the characters. Penelope was such an interesting character to me and I really loved reading about her in this book. She felt really real to me. I liked that the author gave her a lot of uniqueness. She isn't perfect but she is honest (at least with the reader). I liked reading about how she changes throughout the book. I also really liked that the story was told from her perspective, which really helped me to dive into the story. Ewan is also an interesting character. At first I thought that he was just a super pious man but it turns out that he is hiding a lot of secrets that make up some of the huge twists in the book.

There were a lot of twists and turns in this book, which I definitely liked. I love when a book can keep me on my toes. Both Penelope and Ewan are hiding a lot from each other and it was really great to see how their secrets unfolded in the book.

I also really liked the setting and the description of the setting. Penelope leads a relatively lonely life at the Mill but the setting really sounded pretty. This book definitely made for some good armchair traveling!

Follow the Rest of the Tour:

Monday, April 14
Interview & Giveaway at Passages to the Past
Tuesday, April 15
Review at Reading the Past
Guest Post at Closed the Cover
Wednesday, April 16
Review at Confessions of an Avid Reader
Thursday, April 17
Guest Post & Giveaway at Confessions of an Avid Reader
Monday, April 21
Review & Giveaway at Peeking Between the Pages
Guest Post & Giveaway at A Bookish Affair
Tuesday, April 22
Review at A Bookish Affair
Wednesday, April 23
Review at Flashlight Commentary
Review & Giveaway at The True Book Addict
Thursday, April 24
Review at CelticLady’s Reviews
Spotlight & Giveaway at So Many Precious Books, So Little Time
Friday, April 25
Guest Post & Giveaway at Historical Fiction Connection
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Friday, April 18, 2014

The Giver: A Guest Post by Elizabeth Eckhart

I am very excited to welcome Elizabeth Eckhart back to A Bookish Affair. Today, she is talking about one of my childhood favorites, "The Giver" by Lois Lowry, which is getting ready to be turned into a movie.

The journey from the page to the big screen is always a challenging one for all parties involved. Authors, if they actually want their book turned into a film, are often terrified their masterpieces will be entirely butchered by people who aren’t able to see or understand their vision for the work. Filmmakers, on the other hand, have their own fears; for instance, the book might not translate well into a screenplay, and thus, not result in a great movie. However, most of these pre-production issues are resolved fairly quickly with creative efforts from both parties.

However, this was not true for The Giver, Lois Lowry’s 1993 YA novel about a dystopian society where no one feels pain, suffering, or despair as an exchange for blind devotion to the government. The journey for her beloved book, from first being selected for film to the theaters, took over 20 years, quite a long time even for Hollywood’s standards.

Of course, film adaptations of YA books are commonplace these days - The Hunger Games, Harry Potter, Twilight, Divergent, and more are all extremely successful adaptations (if you’re interested in watching them, they’re all available through most online streaming services; check your cable provider’s website). Despite the years of success for these YA films, Lowry’s book rights have been bouncing from one production company to another since Bill Cosby first purchased them in 1994. The author herself thought it would never happen, telling Entertainment Weekly back in 2012, “The film rights have been out there for 15 years now, and every now and then, some big studio gets involved, and some major player gets involved. And then time passes, and it all collapses again.”

However, this time it was different, since Jeff Bridges became fully committed to the film (for which he had bought the rights to back in the 90’s). He cast himself as the titular character while bringing in other stars like Meryl Streep, Katie Holmes, Alexander Skarsgard, and, surprisingly, Taylor Swift to play the mysterious Rosemary. The role of Jonas, the protagonist, will be played by Australian actor Brenton Thwaites. Despite having found fame on various television series back home, he’s a relatively unknown actor stateside.

While not much is known about the film at this point, a trailer was released recently in March, which gives us some clues as to what the final product will look like. One thing that’s obvious right off the bat is that the filmmakers have chosen to make the characters much older than they’re described in the book; while Jonas is only 12 in the book, Brenton Thwaites is twice that at 24 - a casting decision that has (predictably) already drawn some ire from the book’s fans. I also caught a glimpse of some spaceships in the trailer that I don’t recall reading about...but I guess we’ll have to wait to see what that’s all about!

The film isn’t set to hit theaters until August 15th, which will give all of us plenty of time to re-read the book this summer before we watch the story told in theaters. There’s no word on whether the rest of the books in Lowry’s The Quartet series will be turned into films at this point. I would expect to hear news on that following the box office reports from The Giver, which means if you want to see them all transformed for the big screen, you should definitely show your support for the first!

 About the author:

Elizabeth Eckhart is an entertainment and film blogger for, who finds nothing more compelling than a good story, no matter its medium.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

HFVBT Review and Giveaway: Inscription by H.H. Miller

Title: Inscription
Author: H.H. Miller
Format: Paperback
Publisher: Self-published
Publish Date: January 2014
Source: HFVBT

What's the Story?:

From "The year is 1851 and the Grand Guard is ravaging Mainland. Arrests. Floggings. Swift executions. Twenty-year-old Caris McKay, the beautiful heiress of Oakside Manor, is sent to live with distant relations until the danger has passed. It's no refuge, however, as Lady Granville and her scheming son plot to get their hands on Caris's inheritance with treachery and deceit.

Soon, alarming news arrives that the ruthless Captain James Maldoro has seized Oakside and imprisoned Caris's beloved uncle. And now he's after her.

Caris escapes with the help of Tom Granville, the enigmatic silver-eyed heir of Thornbridge. But when a cryptic note about a hidden fortune launches them on a perilous journey across Mainland, Caris and Tom must rely on wits, courage, and their growing love for each other if they hope to survive.

Filled with adventure, intrigue, and romance, Inscription will transport you to a historically fictional world you'll never want to leave."

My Two Cents:

"Inscription" is a historical fiction tale of love and family. Caris lives with her bachelor uncle and then is whisked away to a remote small town where her uncle hopes that she will be safe. It just means that she is at risk with new issues as there are many scheming to get there hands on her inheritance. A love affair between Caris and the man who saves her in many ways also plays at the center of this book. This is a fast read and will appeal to those that are looking for a little bit of romance with their historical fiction.

This book is very much character driven, which I enjoyed but I wish that we would have gotten a little more insight into the setting and why the fighting was occurring the way that it was. We just really know that it's going on and that it is affecting Caris and her uncle's way of life. The setting is very much background and was a little fuzzy for me. That being said, I really enjoyed reading about the characters in this book. I especially enjoyed reading about Caris, the main character. She was a very interesting heroine for the time period in the book. Her uncle almost treats her more like a son and really raised her to stand on her own two feet. She has education like a son would have and is privy to a lot of things that only men of the time would have been able to be involved in, which I really liked reading about. I liked reading about how she was able to do that in a world where women were still supposed to be delicate little flowers.

I liked the writing of this book overall. I thought that the characters were well written (I really, really liked Tom and Caris). Some of the dialogue was a little shaky at first but really evened out by Part II of the book. I really loved the adventure and romance aspects of the book! This was definitely an entertaining read!


Want to win a copy of this book? Just fill out the Rafflecopter form below (U.S. and Canada only)! Can't wait? "Inscription" is a Kindle Countdown Deal.  Price started low on Monday (April 14) and increases each day until Friday (April 18). Get it today before the price goes back up!

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Follow the Rest of the Tour:
Monday, April 14
Review at Flashlight Commentary
Tuesday, April 15
Interview at Layered Pages
Interview & Giveaway at Flashlight Commentary
Wednesday, April 16
Review & Interview at Oh, For the Hook of a Book
Thursday, April 17
Review & Giveaway at A Bookish Affair
Spotlight & Giveaway on Passages to the Past
Friday, April 18
Review at Jorie Loves a Story
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Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Review: My Cup of Tea: Summer of Love by Kat Lieu

Title: My Cup of Tea: Summer of Love
Author: Kat Lieu
Format: Ebook
Publisher: Nummyz Production
Publish Date: January 2014
Source: I received a copy from the author; however, this did not affect my review.

What's the Story?:

From "It’s another suck-tastic summer for book nerd and baker, Sara Lee-Affen. She’s broke, she’s single, and she’ll probably die a virgin. At her beautiful cousin’s wedding, Sara meets a sexy and delicious stud muffin, Ian Forrests. He’s totally her cup of tea, that is until he laughs at her misery when a bee burrows into her ear. Yes, a dang bee. She’s dying (well not really) as he’s dying from laughter.

What a jerk. A smoking hot, Adonis of a jerk with strikingly green eyes, dark hair, and drool-worthy pecs and eight-pack abs. As luck and fate would have it, Sara keeps bumping into Ian all summer long and ends up working for him as a pastry chef at his failing bakery. Despite her better judgment, Sara falls for the sexy, badass rich boy. She discovers the truth about Ian: he’s a tortured soul who’s still pining for his deceased girlfriend, Sarah. One look at Sarah’s picture and poor Sara knows that she could never compete. She could never be Ian’s cup of tea.

Or could she?"

My Two Cents:

"My Cup of Tea: Summer of Love" is a novella that walks a fine line between Young Adult and New Adult. Sara's summer is changed when she meets Ian at a family wedding. She falls for him quickly but he seems less interested in her and more interested in poking fun at her. After another  chance meeting, they hit it off and Sara begins working in Ian's bakery. One problem, the bakery belonged to Ian's girlfriend, who passed away and who happens to be named Sarah. This novella ended up being a good read (with a cliffhanger of an ending that had me wanting more).

Overall, I really liked this story. I loved watching the relationship unfold between Sara and Ian. Sara is ready to fall for Ian even if he isn't ready to fall for him. Ian fights it as long as he can because he is still not over Sarah. I thought that the aspect of the book was really interesting. I loved reading about how Ian grappled with his feelings for Sara and Sarah and how they differed.

This book started out a little shaky for me but really hit its stride as the story unfolded. By the end, I was very sorry that this book was only a novella. The book ends in a heck of a cliffhanger that has me wanting more and it looks like I will have to wait until this summer to read the next installation, sadly. This book would be a good pick for when you're looking for a light read to get lost in!


Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Review: The Venetian Bargain by Marina Fiorato

Title: The Venetian Bargain
Author: Marina Fiorato
Format: ARC
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
Publish Date: April 8, 2014
Source: I received a copy from the publisher; however, this did not affect my review.

Why You're Reading This Book:
  • You're a historical fiction fan.
  • You love intrigue.
  • You're an armchair traveler.
 What's the Story?:

From "Venice, 1576. Five years after the defeat of the Ottoman Empire at the Battle of Lepanto, a ship steals unnoticed into Venice bearing a deadly cargo. A man, more dead than alive, disembarks and staggers into Piazza San Marco. He brings a gift to Venice from Constantinople. Within days the city is infected with bubonic plague—and the Turkish Sultan has his revenge.

But the ship also holds a secret stowaway—Feyra, a young and beautiful harem doctor fleeing a future as the Sultan’s concubine. Only her wits and medical knowledge keep her alive as the plague ravages Venice.

In despair, the Doge commissions the architect Andrea Palladio to build the greatest church of his career—an offering to God so magnificent that Venice will be saved. But Palladio’s life is in danger too, and it will require all the skills of Annibale Cason, the city’s finest plague doctor, to keep him alive. What Annibale had not counted on was meeting Feyra, who is now under Palladio’s protection—an impossible woman whose medical skills and determination are matched only by his own."

My Two Cents:

"The Venetian Bargain" is a fascinating story of Constantinople and Venice. Feyra is a doctor who comes to Venice from her home in the Ottoman Empire to discover the answer to a mystery that she was told right before a loved one passed away. Feyra doesn't know what awaits her in Venice and she goes to the brand new city with a lot of trepidation. This book has a little bit of something for everyone.

I love visiting some place new through my reading and this book gave me an opportunity to visit the gorgeous city of Venice. Unfortunately, the city is dealing with the Bubonic Plague but that only makes for a more fascinating story. You really get a good sense of the city through Feyra's eyes as she unravels the mystery that was given to her. We get to see her dealings with some of the highest houses in the city. She was such a fantastic character.

One of the details that I absolutely loved was the medical aspect of the book. Feyra is well practiced in the way of medicine and she meets another doctor, Annibale Cason, who is working hard to treat those with Bubonic Plague. I think medicine is really interesting to read about in general but I especially like reading about how people used to be treated prior to the advent modern medicine. It is just so interesting to me! Fiorato loads this book with a lot of really great detail but the detail surrounding Feyra and Annibale's practice was really fantastic to me!

I know that this book is definitely going to be a future re-read for me!


Monday, April 14, 2014

Giveaway: The Secret Life of Walter Mitty Prize Pack

So last week I told you all about my experience watching "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty" via Google Play and loving it. This week, I'm very excited to be able to give you a chance to win a prize pack with the Blu Ray, a book of James Thurber's short stories, and a Walter Mitty tumbler.

Just fill out the Rafflecopter form below if you want to win (U.S. Only)!

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