Wednesday, December 7, 2016

New Release! "Garden of Her Heart" by Shanna Hatfield

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USA Today Bestselling Author Shanna Hatfield joins us with her latest release, a sweet World War II romance.

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Picture a beautiful summer day when the sky is clear, the temperature is warm, but not uncomfortably so, and the humidity is low.

On one of those ideal summer days, Captain Cavedweller (my husband) and I climbed a hilly path to visit the Japanese Garden in Portland, Oregon. We heard it was “nice” and “pretty,” but we had no idea what to expect.

After we topped the hill and paid our admission at the little gate booth, we walked inside the garden, spellbound by the beauty around us. For a few minutes, we didn’t move, absorbed in the wonder of being transported to a completely different world in a matter of a few steps. The garden — oh, such a lovely garden. I highly recommend visiting it if you are ever in the area. There are ponds with bright orange fish, walking paths, raked sand, and a waterfall. In truth, in my mind’s eye, it is Miko’s secret garden, only bigger.

It was while we wandered along the moss-covered stones and stepped across the wooden bridges that the idea for this story began to percolate. What if there was a girl who lived in a secret garden? Why would she be there? What scenario would drive her into hiding in a Japanese garden up on a hilltop that no one knew was there?

As Captain Cavedweller and I ambled among weeping cherry trees and vibrant flowering bushes, I blurted out my thoughts. Then somehow, in a wonderful blending of ideas, we both arrived at the conclusion of World War II. A Japanese girl would have every reason to hide, had she the opportunity to do so, in 1942 when the government ordered all Japanese along the West Coast “military areas” to report to Assembly Centers.

And so the story was born.
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Can forbidden love blossom

   amid the constraints of war?

The moment the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, life shifted for Miko Nishimura. Desperate to reach the Portland Assembly Center for Japanese-Americans, she’s kicked off the bus miles from town. Every tick of the clock pushes her closer to becoming a fugitive in the land of her birth. Exhausted, she stumbles to her grandparents’ abandoned farm only to find a dying soldier sprawled across the step. Unable to leave him, she forsakes all else to keep him alive.
After crashing his plane in the Battle of the Atlantic, the doctors condemn Captain Rock Laroux to die. Determined to meet his maker beneath a blue sky at his family home, he sneaks out of the hospital. Weary and half out of his mind, he makes it as far as a produce stand he remembers from his youth. Rather than surrender to death, Rock fights a battle of the heart as he falls in love with the beautiful Japanese woman who saves his life.
A poignant, sweet romance, Garden of Her Heart proves love can bloom in unlikely places even under the most challenging circumstances.

Don't miss out on this beautiful happy ever after. Get your copy today!


Available on:
    


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Join us for a Facebook Party today (December 7) from 4-7 p.m. (EST) to celebrate the release of Garden of Her Heart. Here is the link:

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Excerpt:
“Please, Miko? Would you at least consider marrying me?”
She shook her head and tried to pull away from him, but he drew her closer, wrapping his arms around her and holding her. His breath tantalized her ear as he bent his head near hers. “Please?”
“I can’t, Rock. I don’t want to be the cause of you missing out on the love of a lifetime.” She turned her head to the side and pressed it against his neck. Unintentionally, she heightened the yearning that already pulsed between them. Forcibly, he relaxed his hold on her.
“Miko,” he whispered. “Look at me, sweetheart.”
Unhurried, she tipped her head back, drawn into the bright warmth of his eyes.
“Miko, if I didn’t want to marry you, I wouldn’t offer. I rather like the idea of spending my future with you. We have more going for us than many couples who wed. There is no doubt in my mind at all about your ability to be a good wife. Me, on the other hand…” His cocky grin brought an amused light to her eyes. “It might be challenging to be married to someone like me.”
A smile curved her mouth upward and Rock tamped down the desire to kiss her again, even with the pastor watching their every move.
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shanna-3USA Today Bestselling Author Shanna Hatfield writes character-driven romances with relatable heroes and heroines. Her historical westerns have been described as “reminiscent of the era captured by Bonanza and The Virginian” while her contemporary works have been called “laugh-out-loud funny, and a little heart-pumping sexy without being explicit in any way.”
Convinced everyone deserves a happy ending, this hopeless romantic is out to make it happen, one story at a time. When she isn’t writing or indulging in chocolate (dark and decadent, please), Shanna hangs out with her husband, lovingly known as Captain Cavedweller.
Find Shanna’s books at:
Shanna loves to hear from readers. Follow her online at:

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

November 2016 Wrap Up

Oh my goodness, I am so glad November is over!  First, because I LOOOOVE Christmas but also because November was a giant suck fest for a variety of reasons.  Despite all that, I managed to have the best reading month I've had in years (probably).  I pretty much gorged myself on Christmas romance novels and it was pure heaven.  I plan on continuing to do that for the rest of the year because they're full of fluffy goodness. I feel bad for reading so many of the same genre but that's about all I can handle right and I have big reading plans for the new year so I'm going to enjoy myself until then.

I hit my raised goal of 80 books and am now only 11 books shy of 100!  Most of what I read was library books so like I every year, I've pretty much failed at reading my own books.  I think the ones I did read this month were books I just purchased instead of just ones I've had for a while.  I did beat my non-fiction total from last year; I know I wanted to finish with 20 total for the year but I don't think that's going to happen.  I know I've missed a lot of reading goals for the year but I'm okay with that.  I'm kind of tired of putting pressure on myself to read things.  It's kind of fun to read what I want for a change!

Here are my stats for November:

-20 books read
-1 nonfiction
-7 historical fiction
-1 review book
-16 library books
-3 books I own
-7 ebooks

What I read in November:

1.) Blackballed: The Black and White Politics of Race on America's Campuses by Lawrence Ross
2.) Corsets and Cuffs by Shanna Hatfield
3.) Trading Christmas by Debbie Macomber
4.) Mistletoe on Main Street by Olivia Miles
5.) Call Me Mrs. Miracle by Debbie Macomber
6.) A Creed Country Christmas by Linda Lael Miller
7.) The Perfect Christmas by Debbie Macomber
8.) A Lawman's Christmas by Linda Lael Miller
9.) Victoria by Daisy Goodwin
10.) Dashing through the Snow by Debbie Macomber
11.) The Christmas Angel by Jane Maas
12.) Christmas in Snowflake Canyon by RaeAnne Thayne
13.) An Outlaw's Christmas by Linda Lael Miller
14.) Starry Night by Debbie Macomber
15.) The Christmas Quandary by Shanna Hatfield
16.) The Mistletoe Promise by Richard Paul Evans
17.) Snow Angel Cove by RaeAnne Thayne
18.) There's Something About Christmas by Debbie Macomber
19.) A Cold Creek Christmas by RaeAnne Thayne
20.) Mr. Miracle by Debbie Macomber

How was November for you?  Are you on track to meeting your reading goals?


Friday, November 4, 2016

October 2016 Wrap Up

 Phew!  I am so glad that October is over.  Halloween was fun but the rest of the month was just plain rough.  Work was crazy busy and I just kind of got into a reading rut.  The majority of the books I read were finished in the last week because I just didn't have it in me to read.  A lot of what I read this month was pure fluff and I don't see that changing for the rest of the year.  I think I'm going to actively try to read as many Christmasy romance novels as I can because I just don't have the brain capacity for anything too deep right now.

I am on track to meeting my new goal of 80 books for the year so I'm pretty happy about that.  I am not doing a great job of reading books I own but I did still manage to read two non-fiction books in October.  Even thought I've read fewer books total than last year, I've already surpassed the number of non-fiction books I last year.  I really wanted to try to focus more on non-fiction books this year and as of right now, almost 25% of my books this year have been non-fiction.  That's not too shabby.

I've been pretty terrible at keeping up with the blog over the past two months so I'm hoping to post more often.  I would like to shoot for at least once a week but hopefully more than that. 

Here's what I read in October:

1.) Hungry Heart by Jennifer Weiner
2.) A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas - 5 stars
3.) Crumpets and Cowpies by Shanna Hatfield - 4 stars
4.) Becoming Queen Victoria by Kate Williams - 3 stars
5.) Thimbles and Thistles by Shanna Hatfield - 4 stars
6.) Christmas in Mustang Creek by Linda Lael Miller - 3 stars
7.) Property of a Noblewoman by Danielle Steele - 3 stars

My stats for the month:

-7 books read
   -2 non-fiction
   -2 historical fiction
   -1 review book
   -3 library books

   -3 books I own
   -5 ebooks

I hope November is off to a great start for you!

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Cover Reveal: "The Competition" by Donna Russo Morin

COVER REVEAL!


THE COMPETITION: Da Vinci’s Disciples Book Two!


Ready (willing and eager) to see the cover of the much-anticipated second book in the Da Vinci’s Disciples trilogy? Well, we hope so, because here it is (be sure to read to the end of the post for an extra special bonus!).

But before we get to the gorgeous cover, here’s what the author has to say about the next book in this thrilling trilogy and its cover:

“I knew I wanted the second book in this trilogy to be a little more personal, get into the lives of these courageous women, and da Vinci himself, a bit more deeply. Oh, they are still daring to go where women had never gone before in the Renaissance, and they put everything on the line for the love of their art—their marriages, their family relationships, even their lives—to do it, to bring their work out into the open, no matter the consequence. Another form of art is explored through their eyes, through their hands. But in THE COMPETITION, I’ve pulled back more of the layers of their lives and the secrets they may hold. Love bursts to fulfillment, desire is ignited, disastrous illnesses change lives, and familial condemnations are shattered. All set amidst the glory that is Florence during the Renaissance.

These women are bold; there can be no doubt. But they are elegant women and this cover, like the first, captures that elegance to perfection. It is the seamless companion to the first, and they look dazzling together.”

Ready to see the cover? Not just yet. Here’s the official description first:

A commission to paint a fresco in the church of Santo Spirito is about to be announced and Florence’s countless artists each seek the fame and glory this lucrative contract will provide. Viviana, a noblewoman freed from a terrible marriage, and now able to pursue her artistic passions, sees a potential life-altering opportunity for herself and her fellow artists. The women first speak to Lorenzo de’ Medici himself, and finally, they submit a bid for the right to paint it. And they win. The very public commission belongs to them.

But with the victory comes a powerful cost. The church will not stand for women painting, especially not in a house of worship. The city is not ready to consider women in positions of power, and in Florence, artists wield tremendous power. Even the women themselves are hesitant; the attention they will bring up) on themselves will disrupt their families, and even put them in physical danger.

All the while, Viviana grows closer to Sansone, her soldier lover, who is bringing to her a joy that she never knew with her deceased husband. And fellow-artist Isabetta has a flame reignited, sparked by Lorenzo himself.

Power and passion collide in this sumptuous historical novel of shattering limitations, one brushstroke at a time.

THE COMPETITION: Da Vinci’s Disciples Book Two goes on sale April 25, 2017. Pre-order a copy here.

Add it to your Goodreads shelf!

Now, are you ready to see the cover?

Really?

Are you sure?

Here it is!

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Do you love it?!

Haven’t read the first book yet? Now’s your chance at a special reduced price.

For the next SEVEN days (beginning November 2 until November 9!), the Kindle version of PORTRAIT OF A CONSPIRACY IS ONLY $.99…that’s a $7 savings!

Get your copy now!

Read the first critically acclaimed book, fall in love with these daring women, and get ready to fight beside them for the right to be who they truly want to be in THE COMPETITION.

“Russo Morin’s elegant command of language and composition left me breathless, but the story itself, with its flawless depiction of power, corruption, defiance, intrigue, and retribution makes Portrait of a Conspiracy an absolute must read.” Flashlight Commentary

“...a page-turner unlike any historical novel, weaving passion, adventure, artistic rebirth, and consequences of ambition...a masterful writer at the peak of her craft.”—C. W. Gortner, author of THE CONFESSIONS OF CATHERINE DE’ MEDICI

“This riveting book is filled with art, assassinations, retribution, and a sisterhood of fascinating women who inspire as well as entertain.”—Stephanie Dray, NYT Bestselling author of AMERICA’S FIRST DAUGHTER

“In PORTRAIT OF A CONSPIRACY, Russo Morin's prose is as sharp as a Medici dagger...Thwarting danger, finding love, and creating masterpieces, [these women] remind us just how powerful the bonds of womanhood can be.”—Marci Jefferson, author of THE ENCHANTRESS OF PARIS

“A 15th-century Florence of exquisite art, sensual passion and sudden, remorseless violence comes vividly to life in Donna Russo Morin's new novel.”—Nancy Bilyeau, author of THE CROWN

“In PORTRAIT OF A CONSPIRACY, Russo Morin's rich detailing transports the reader to the heart of Renaissance Italy from the first page.”—Heather Webb, author of BECOMING JOSEPHINE

“Illicit plots, mysterious paintings, and a young Leonardo da Vinci all have their part to play in this delicious, heart-pounding tale.”—Kate Quinn, author of THE EMPRESS OF ROME SAGA

About the Author03_donna-russo-morin


Donna Russo Morin is the award winning of author of historical fiction. A graduate of the University of Rhode Island, she lives near the shore with her two sons, Devon and Dylan, her greatest works in progress.

Donna enjoys meeting with book groups in person and via Skype chat. Visit her website at www.donnarussomorin.com; friend her on Facebook and follow her on Twitter @DonnaRussoMorin.

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Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Review: "Duty to the Crown" by Aimie K. Runyan



From Goodreads:  In 1667, an invisible wall separates settlers in New France from their Huron neighbors. Yet whether in the fledgling city of Quebec or within one of the native tribes, every woman’s fate depends on the man she chooses—or is obligated—to marry.

Although Claudine Deschamps and Gabrielle Giroux both live within the settlement, their prospects are very different. French-born Claudine has followed her older sister across the Atlantic hoping to attract a wealthy husband through her beauty and connections. Gabrielle, orphan daughter of the town drunkard, is forced into a loveless union by a cruel law that requires her to marry by her sixteenth birthday. And Manon Lefebvre, born in the Huron village and later adopted by settlers, has faced the prejudices of both societies and is convinced she can no longer be accepted in either. Drawn into unexpected friendship through their loves, losses, and dreams of home and family, all three women will have to call on their bravery and resilience to succeed in this new world…
  

My Thoughts:  Duty to the Crown is such a great sequel.  I loved the first book and was eager to read more about the amazing characters.  Duty to the Crown did not disappoint and I was sucked back in almost immediately.

There are a lot of highs and lows in this book.  At times it felt like an emotional rollercoaster but I really appreciated the fact that the author kept the story real.  She didn't sugar coat anything and events that transpired were in line with what the reality of that time.  There were sad moments but when I sat back and thought about them, I remembered that those kinds of events happened all the time in that era and I like that the author kept the story more historically 'real'. (Sorry for being vague, I don't want to give anything away!).

The characters still continue to be great.  I loved watching the girls grow into smart, strong young women.   Gabrielle experienced some hard times but I enjoyed seeing her strength as she dealt with so much adversity.  I think Claudine became one of my favorites in this book.  I really didn't like her in the beginning but she changed so much throughout the course of the story and she became such a fascinating character.  

This book also showed a little of the legalities of life in the Canadian colony and I found the court proceedings detailed in the story as well as some of the laws pertaining to women and marriage to be really interesting.  The laws didn't work out much in the favor of women but I always find it interesting to read about the status of women in different time periods.

Duty to the Crown is another great story from Aimie K. Runyan.  If you haven't read any of the 'Daughters of New France' books, I would highly recommend them!  4 stars.

I received this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Review: "Hungry Heart" by Jennifer Weiner



From Goodreads:  Jennifer Weiner is many things: a #1 New York Times bestselling author, a Twitter phenomenon, and “an unlikely feminist enforcer” (The New Yorker). She’s also a mom, a daughter, and a sister; a former rower and current cyclist; a best friend and a reality TV junkie. In her first foray into nonfiction, she takes the raw stuff of her personal life and spins into a collection of essays on modern womanhood as uproariously funny and moving as the best of Tina Fey, Fran Lebowitz, and Nora Ephron.

Jennifer grew up as an outsider in her picturesque Connecticut hometown (“a Lane Bryant outtake in an Abercrombie & Fitch photo shoot”) and at her Ivy League college, but finally found her people in newsrooms in central Pennsylvania and Philadelphia, and her voice as a novelist, activist, and New York Times columnist.

No subject is off-limits in this intimate and honest essay collection: sex, weight, envy, money, her mom’s newfound lesbianism, and her estranged father’s death. From lonely adolescence to modern childbirth to hearing her six-year-old daughter’s use of the f-word—fat­­—for the first time, Jennifer Weiner goes there, with the wit and candor that have endeared her to readers all over the world.

By turns hilarious and deeply touching, this collection shows that the woman behind treasured novels like Good in Bed and Best Friends Forever is every bit as winning, smart, and honest in real life as she is in her fiction.


My Thoughts:  I fell in love with Jennifer Weiner's books when I read Good in Bed in college. Since then, I have read quite of few of her books and I feel like her books always speak to me.  She writes about topics I can relate to and I think that's why I enjoy her books so much.  
 
This memoir, like her novels, spoke to me in ways that I can't even describe.  I know it's her life story but there were so many parts of the book that felt so familiar to me.  I was an awkward, bookish kid from a dysfunctional family and reading the stories of her childhood made me feel more normal. I especially loved her descriptions of the difficult children in her family, they reminded me very much of my own little girl and cracked me up.  Everything she wrote about motherhood was spot on!  I also enjoyed her discussion of  books and reading and how they impacted her life; as someone who has always been an avid reader, her stories really hit home for me.

 Hungry Heart is an incredibly funny book and I found myself laughing out loud multiple times (which is kind of embarrassing when you're in the middle of an airport).  But it was also really poignant to read about her father, his issues, and how she and her family dealt with that.  I was impressed with her strength and ability to overcome the situation with her father.

Overall, I really, really loved this book.  I was impressed with Ms. Weiner's activism, ties to her family and how goal oriented she is.  Honestly, after reading this book, I personally see her as a role model for women everywhere.  I am so glad I read this book and I would highly recommend it to anyone (even you haven't read Ms. Weiner's works of fiction).  4 1/2 stars.

I received this book in exchange for an honest review.


 

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

September 2016 Wrap Up

It's fall and the holiday season is fast approaching!  I am so excited as the next few months are my favorite time of the year!  My daughter and I read a bunch of Halloween books yesterday, did a Halloween craft and we watched Halloweentown this morning.  I love the holidays! I've also already started listening to Christmas music (don't judge!). : )

September felt like a slow reading month but I still managed to read 9 books this month so I can't really complain.  Since I already met my goal of 52 books for the year, I decided to bump it up to 80.  I only have to read 6 books a month for the rest of the year to hit that goal so I think it's doable.  I haven't been super excited about most of the books I'm reading and I'm hoping that will change soon.  I'm really close to beating my non-fiction numbers from last year and I'm so happy about it!  I'll have to back and see what my non-fiction goal was for the year but I'm pretty happy with where I'm at.

Here are my reading stats for September:

-9 books read
   -3 non-fiction
   -2 historical fiction
   -1 review book
   -6 library books
   -2 books I own
   -5 ebooks

What I read in September:

1.) Dreamers by Eileen Truax - 4 stars
2.) Finding Rebecca by Eoin Dempsey - 3 stars
3.) My Grandfather Would Have Shot Me by Jennifer Teege - 3 stars
4.) Days of Sun and Glory by Anna Belfrage 
5.) The Marriage Pact by Linda Lael Miller - 3 stars
6.) Crown of Midnight by Sarah J. Maas - 4 stars
7.) The Marriage Charm by Linda Lael Miller - 3 stars
8.) The Marriage Season by Linda Lael Miller - 3 stars
9.) Higher Education in the Digital Age by William Bown
I hope you all have a great week!
 
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