Monday, 31 August 2015

The NoMad Cookbook - Daniel Humm & Will Guidara


Synopsis: Chef Daniel Humm and his business partner Will Guidara are the proprietors of two of New York's most beloved and pioneering restaurants: Eleven Madison Park and The NoMad. Their team is known not only for its perfectly executed, innovative cooking, but also for creating extraordinary, genre-defying dining experiences. The NoMad Cookbook translates the unparalleled and often surprising food and drink of the restaurant into book form.

Review: I realized this cookbook was going to be a notch above what the average home-chef is generally willing to commit to when it was noted that all recipes with foie gras use grade A duck. Measurements are in metric instead of the American standard of imperial units, so if you aren't accustomed to grams versus cups and tablespoons, you'll be in for a rude awakening. The prologue with the story of the restaurateurs and their locations was a great and interesting introduction. The photos are spectacular and there is the addition of a cocktail menu in the back (quite the bonus). But the meat of this cookbook and what you probably need to know are the recipes? After all, that's what we are ultimately interested in when we buy a cookbook.

It's difficult to answer, because it depends on what level of cooking you can manage.

I learned how to smoke trout without a smoker (THANK YOU, NOMAD!) and zeroed in on a roasted lamb with summer beans and savory recipe that is absolutely going to happen. I admit, it is unlikely that I will ever attempt a good 80% of the recipes in The NoMad Cookbook. Still, I give this cookbook four stars on the grounds that anyone who is able to commit will probably smack down a Michelin-worthy meal. Either way, this is a sassy kitchen accessory that any home cook would be proud to display in their collection.

I'd like to thank Net Galley and the publisher Ten Speed Press for an ARC of this book in exchange for my honest opinion, which this is.


Amazon Link: The NoMad Cookbook

This post contains an affiliate link, which means that if you click on the Amazon link and buy the book, I may receive a commission.

Sunday, 30 August 2015

The Last Chance Christmas Ball - Mary Jo Putney, Jo Beverley, Joanna Bourne, Patricia Rice, Nicola Cornick


A chance meeting beneath the mistletoe, a stolen glance across the dance floor—amid the sumptuous delicacies, glittering decorations, and swell of the orchestra, every duchess and debutante, lord and lackey has a hopeful heart. There's the headstrong heiress who must win back her beloved by midnight—or be wed to another….the spinster whose fateful choice to relinquish love may hold one more surprise for her…a widow yearning to glimpse her long-lost love for even one sweet, fleeting interlude …a charming rake who finds far more than he bargained for. And many other dazzling, romantic tales in this star-studded collection that will fill your heart and spice up your holidays…

An excellent collection of vignettes that create a whole story. Exceptional writing and a diverse, well developed team of characters. The opening Claire-Nick story was my least favorite and I set the book down several times during because it didn't hook me. Fortunately, I knew there were more tales to come and held out for them. The book is woven whole by a variety of perspectives and with each character having their own measured and important subplot. It reminded me a bit of the Edwardian movie Gosford Park, particularly with the evenhanded upstairs-downstairs fun. Because you become vested in all the characters, you also grow to enjoy them equally. Ultimately, the compilation is a fantastic success and The Last Chance Christmas Ball is a book any lover of Regency romances will have some fun with.

I'd like to thank Net Galley and Kensington books for providing a copy of this novel in exchange for my honest review, which this is.


Amazon Link: The Last Chance Christmas Ball

This post contains an affiliate link, which means that if you click on the Amazon link and buy the book, I may receive a commission.

Saturday, 29 August 2015

Screwed - Sergiu Viorel Urma


Screwed: Dancing with the Generals by Sergiu Viorel Urma is a historical memoir, an autobiography, of Urma, a reporter for The Associated Press news agency in communist Romania. Urma spent forty years as an Associated Press reporter in Romania, Eastern Europe, and in the US. The book starts with Urma sitting in the reading room of the National Council for the Study of the Securitate Archives in Bucharest. As he looks over the now-public dossier of his movements—the secret police files—recorded by communist Romania's Department of State Security, the secret police agency of Communist Romania, we catapult into Urma's tale on the subversive relationship, political pandering, torture, and all the trappings of a heavy-handed marriage between the communist machine and the press.

Sergiu Viorel Urma has written a tense memoir with Screwed: Dancing with the Generals, and he doesn't hold back in his revelations of the first-hand facts presented in his harrowing autobiography. At under 150 pages in the hands of a prolific reader, I should have been able to finish this book in a single sitting. Not so with Screwed. Urma has provided a trove of information so extensive and disturbing, I was forced to set it down after consuming only a handful of pages, and it ultimately took me a week and a half to finish. This had nothing to do with the writing itself—on the contrary—the subject matter is effectively conveyed in a believable, well written script, and so intense, it was impossible to process in a short span of time. This little book packs a whopper of a punch, and I strongly recommend it to anyone with interests in ambitious and inspiring stories of professional integrity and personal survival.

Review written for Readers' Favorite.

Amazon Link: Screwed: Dancing with the Generals

This post contains an affiliate link, which means that if you click on the Amazon link and buy the book, I may receive a commission.

Friday, 28 August 2015

Grilling, Grilling, & More Grilling - Dror Pilz


More than just a compilation of recipes, Grilling, Grilling & More Grilling starts with a comprehensive guide to a variety of techniques, grill prep, and tricks to make your barbecue, gas grill, or smoker perform in its optimal state. When it comes to the actual recipes, this cookbook does not disappoint. From standard fare to culinary feats you would never consider creating on the grill, Grilling, Grilling & More Grilling is laden with a full range of amazing recipes. The classic margherita pizza, Romania-style kabobs, Patagonian grilled chicken breasts, salmon with mustard aioli, and ricotta-stuffed dates were the absolute stand-outs for me.

If you're looking for recipes that sizzle, look no further. Grilling, Grilling & More Grilling will be a year-round reference on my little shelf of cookbooks.

I'd like to thank Net Galley and Imagine for providing a copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinion.


Amazon Link: Grilling, Grilling & More Grilling!

This post contains an affiliate link, which means that if you click on the Amazon link and buy the book, I may receive a commission.

Thursday, 27 August 2015

Whispers From The East - Amie Ali


by Amie Ali

Available in eBook & Paperback
272 Pages
Literary/Historical Fiction


I was blown away by this story which, while set in the past, is probably one of the most relevant topics of today. The book starts in 1947 with a gritty migration by the first protagonist, Ammi, out of India and into Pakistan. It then moves forward to the 1970's and jumps into Carolyn's POV, a Catholic who has married one of Ammi's Muslim sons in California. Finally, to 1985 and the POV of Ivy, an American Muslim convert who has married Ammi's youngest son in Florida. The struggles from Ammi's perspective and the perspective of two modern women with Pakistani husbands ensues until it hits fever pitch.

Whispers from the East is eloquently written with the authentic voice of a woman's heart, be she a mother, a wife, or both. The forward moving POV transitions where we meet each woman only at a critical prelude—written in the form of running vignettes that harmonize the overall arc—keep the story fluid and make the time transitions seamless. One character is not more important than another, and Ali writes with a measured, even hand in describing where each woman stands. This book really opened my eyes to Muslim-Christian interfaith marriages and the real struggles of racism (from both sides) and the impact of these matches on women and their relationships. Again, highly relevant to today but the historical settings and the details make this read even deeper.


Ammi, a pregnant 24-year-old, flees New Delhi with millions of Muslim migrants in the early hours of the 1947 Partition of India, clawing her way through a controversial caste system and into the heart of Lahori society.

A family broken by betrayal.
Two of Ammi's beloved sons immigrate to the United States and secretly marry dazzling, contemporary American brides. One bride converts to Islam. The other commits apostasy, the sin of all sins.

Three women who stand to lose everything.
The collision of two belief systems—two worlds—come to a head as Ammi, Carolyn, and Ivy fight to keep their own marriages, families, and futures secure.



Amie Ali's stories focus on the lives of Western women who find love among the cultural breadth of Middle Eastern, North African, and South Asian countries. Weaving western expectations of love and family with extensive cultural and religious differences, she enjoys writing stories that bridge divides and offer a peek into these diverse, often controversial relationships.

For more information visit Amie Ali on Facebook and Twitter. You can also find her on Goodreads.

Wednesday, 26 August 2015

Sophia of Suffolk - Jamie Michele


by Jamie Michele

Available in eBook & Paperback
352 Pages
Historical Fiction (clean)


One heiress.

Three guardians.

The possibilities—and difficulties—seem endless.

Sophia Bexley, an orphaned heiress, is forced to leave her beloved Suffolk at the bidding of her guardians. With a heart for philanthropy and a mind to make a difference, she waits only for the day she reaches her majority to claim her rightful inheritance and pursue her dreams.

She has eight months remaining until she can take control of her own wealth and way of life.
But that may come too late.

Thrust onto London's vast social scene, she is chased by fortune hunters, ruled by inadequate guardians, and swept up in a sea of deceit.

Will she survive the remainder of her minority with her fortune and reputation intact? Or will the machinations and conceit of the people meant to protect her force her into ruin?

Set upon the dawn of the expanded Regency era in 1795 Georgian London, Sophia of Suffolk is a three part series following the life, love, and trials of Sophia Bexley.


This book was an emotional rollercoaster (in a great way). I was conflicted on my feelings for the heroine because she is really someone you like, but she gets sucked into some on the crappiest situations you want to pull her aside and ask, "What the heck are you doing?!?!"

I thought I was buying a cute little Regency romance but this turned out to be a dramatic epic, and I have been sucked in. I will absolutely be reading book two. Five stars, without question. Exceptional.



Jamie Michele is a San Francisco born author who fell in love with a Londoner and promptly moved to England. When not writing, she can usually be found on a picnic blanket in Bath, reading on the lawn out front of the Royal Crescent.

For more information visit Jamie Michele on Author Central and Goodreads.

Tuesday, 25 August 2015

Book Blitz! Cage of Deceit - Jennifer Anne Davis


Cage of Deceit by Jennifer Anne Davis
(Reign of Secrets #1)
Published by: Clean Teen Publishing
Publication date: August 25th 2015
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult


Jennifer Anne Davis’ best-selling True Reign series captivated readers from the very first page. Now, get ready to become entangled in the follow-up series, Reign of Secrets. In this new series, follow Allyssa, the daughter of the beloved Emperor Darmik and Empress Rema— and find out what happens after happily ever after.

Seventeen-year-old Allyssa appears to be the ideal princess of Emperion—she’s beautiful, elegant, and refined. She spends her days locked in a suffocating cage, otherwise known as royal court. But at night, Allyssa uses her secret persona—that of a vigilante—to hunt down criminals and help her people firsthand.
Unfortunately, her nightly escapades will have to wait because the citizens of Emperion may need saving from something much bigger than common criminals. War is encroaching on their country and in order to protect her people, Allyssa may have to sacrifice her heart. Forced to entertain an alliance through marriage with a handsome prince from a neighboring kingdom, she finds herself feeling even more stifled than before. To make matters worse, the prince has stuck his nosy squire, Jarvik, to watch her every move.

Jarvik is infuriating, bossy and unfortunately, the only person she can turn to when she unveils a heinous plot. Together, the unlikely pair will have to work together to stop an enemy that everyone thought was long gone, one with the power to destroy her family and the people of Emperion. Now the cage Allyssa so longed to break free from might just be the one thing she has to fight to keep intact. In order to save her kingdom, she will have to sacrifice her freedom, her heart, and maybe even her life.



Jennifer graduated from the University of San Diego with a degree in English and a teaching credential. Afterwards, she married her best friend and high school sweetheart. Jennifer is currently a full-time writer and mother of three young children. Her days are spent living in imaginary worlds and fueling her own kids’ creativity.

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Monday, 24 August 2015

Naked - Eliza Redgold

02_Naked A Novel of Lady Godiva_CoverNaked: A Novel of Lady Godiva
by Eliza Redgold

Publication Date: July 14, 2015
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Formats: Ebook, Paperback
Pages: 320

Genre: Historical Fiction

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We know her name. We know of her naked ride. We don't know her true story.

We all know the legend of Lady Godiva, who famously rode naked through the streets of Coventry, covered only by her long, flowing hair. So the story goes, she begged her husband Lord Leofric of Mercia to lift a high tax on her people, who would starve if forced to pay. Lord Leofric demanded a forfeit: that Godiva ride naked on horseback through the town. There are various endings to Godiva's ride, that all the people of Coventry closed their doors and refused to look upon their liege lady (except for 'peeping Tom') and that her husband, in remorse, lifted the tax.

Naked is an original version of Godiva's tale with a twist that may be closer to the truth: by the end of his life Leofric had fallen deeply in love with Lady Godiva. A tale of legendary courage and extraordinary passion, Naked brings an epic story new voice.


Redgold's Naked: A Novel of Lady Godiva gives readers a glimpse at the time leading up to Godiva's infamous (and fictional) ride through Coventry, in the buff, in a deal made with her husband and for her people. As opposed to full-on, straightfoward historical fiction, Naked is actually a historical romance, and I admit I wasn't entirely prepared for that. While it sets the stage for the romance in a historical setting, the story is more one for the heart than it is for history enthusiasts (such as myself). Still, Redgold is exceptional at weaving the love story—not just between Godiva and her husband, Lord Leofric of Mercia—but her unwavering devotion to Coventry. Well researched and written, I was pleasantly surprised by a twist in the latter third of the book. I think Redgold pushed through a threshold there for me with the layered storytelling that took the story to a much higher level. The ending, although perhaps wrapped up a little too neatly, is truly a fantastic one—and the poem at its finish was the icing on an already delicious cake.


I was given a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinion, which this is.


"Redgold's variation on this enticing legend is often lyrical and offers a satisfying blend of history, lore, and romance." (Booklist)

"Breathes new life into the story of the woman who would stop at nothing to protect her land and people." (Romantic Times)

"NAKED delivers far more than the famous ride of Lady Godiva. It's a beautifully woven story of love, loyalty, and the determination of a young woman trying to protect her people and their way of life, no matter the price. Godiva is a wonderfully strong woman in an age of dangerous men, and in NAKED, she certainly meets her match!" (Amalia Carosella, author of HELEN OF SPARTA)

"A wonderful, romantic retelling of the Lady Godiva legend. There is the colorful Anglo-Saxon backdrop, warriors, battles, peacemaking, desire, revenge and love - everything a fan of medieval romance could desire - plus a strong-willed heroin. Written with a lyrical lilt to her prose, Redgold adds realism to the myth and love to the lusty tale, allowing readers a glimpse into what might have been." (RT Book Reviews)


ABOUT THE AUTHOR03_Eliza Redgold_Author

ELIZA REDGOLD is based upon the old, Gaelic meaning of her name, Dr Elizabeth Reid Boyd. English folklore has it that if you help a fairy, you will be rewarded with red gold. She has presented academic papers on women and romance and is a contributor to the forthcoming Encyclopedia of Romance Fiction. As a non-fiction author she is co-author of Body Talk: a Power Guide for Girls and Stay-at-Home Mothers: Dialogues and Debates. She was born in Irvine, Scotland on Marymass Day and currently lives in Australia.

For more information visit Eliza Redgold's website. You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, Pinterest, and Google+.


Monday, August 10
Review at Bibliophilia, Please

Tuesday, August 11
Spotlight at Passages to the Past

Wednesday, August 12
Guest Post at The Maiden's Court
Spotlight at A Book Geek

Thursday, August 13
Spotlight at Just One More Chapter

Friday, August 14
Review at 100 Pages a Day

Saturday, August 15
Guest Post at Mina's Bookshelf

Monday, August 17
Review at A Bookish Affair

Tuesday, August 18
Review at Book Nerd
Guest Post at A Literary Vacation

Wednesday, August 19
Review at Unshelfish
Review at Svetlana's Reads and Views

Thursday, August 20
Spotlight at Historical Fiction Connection
Guest Post at A Bookish Affair

Friday, August 21
Review at History From a Woman's Perspective
Review at Let Them Read Books

Monday, August 24
Review at I'm Shelf-ish
Review at Please Pass the Books
Guest Post at Bibliotica

Tuesday, August 25
Review at A Fold in the Spine
Review & Interview at History Undressed
Guest Post at Curling Up By the Fire

Wednesday, August 26
Review at Bookish
Spotlight at The True Book Addict

Thursday, August 27
Review at With Her Nose Stuck in a Book
Review & Guest Post at Romantic Historical Reviews
Guest Post at The Lit Bitch

Friday, August 28
Review at A Book Drunkard
Review at Book Lovers Paradise


To enter to win a copy of Naked: A Novel of Lady Godiva or a $50 Amazon Gift Card, please enter via the GLEAM form below. Three winners will be chosen.


– Giveaway ends at 11:59pm EST on August 28th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
– Giveaway is open to US residents only.
– Only one entry per household.
– All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspect of fraud is decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion
– Winner has 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.

Naked: A Novel of Lady Godiva Blog Tour

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Sunday, 23 August 2015

The Brevity of Twit - K.D. Rose


Synopsis: From the author of "Inside Sorrow" , Readers Favorite 2013 international Silver Medal for Poetry.
Humor in 140 characters or less.
A witty walk through the minefield of tweeting, twitter, and the many uses we have socially for it. From serious poetry to a scandalous take on improper grammar, this fast paced take on the brevity of chatting in 140 characters or less will have you falling in love with tweeting all over again.

Review: I had a lot of fun reading this little book! K.D. Rose has mastered the art of satire and funneled it into 140 character punches. The Brevity of Twit is packed with a compilation of her Twitter gems, interspersed with funny stories about trending topics and Twitter etiquette. While those are the clips that kept me laughing, her 140 character poetry is actually amazing. It's clear that Rose has a great deal more to offer than fantastically clever sarcasm and witty puns—she is also a profoundly talented poet. She has mastered the art of Haiku, formulating poetry that fits perfectly within the confines of the Twitter soap box. That feat aside, the poetry is really good—and I look forward to reading more of it (and think you should too). And so, off to follow K.D. Rose I go…


Amazon Link: The Brevity of Twit: Poetry in 140 Characters

I was provided with a complimentary copy of this book by Xpresso Book Tours in exchange for my honest opinion, which this is. This post contains an affiliate link, which means that if you click on the Amazon link and buy the book, I may receive a commission.


Saturday, 22 August 2015

Unexpectedly Expecting - Sophia Labonte


After a heartbursting breakup, Sandra allows her friends to whisk her away to the Bahamas so she can nurse her wounds and move forward. The trip turns out to be just what she needs, and Thomas—a successful and sexy Brit—turns up at just the right moment. Convinced he was nothing more than a passionate one-night stand, she tosses his contact details and heads home to Toronto. It isn't until a few months later that she realizes the error of this decision, when she bumps into him, pregnant with his child and seeing how caring of a man he truly is. Alas, he is in a serious relationship with a stunning fashion icon and model named Tiffany, who wields a heavy hand over Thomas and, in turn, Sandra, in a love triangle that makes for a highly entertaining read.

This was a cute and diverting story, and I had a lot of fun reading it. If you are looking for a playful read while relaxing on your beach blanket this summer, you'll certainly find it in Unexpectedly Expecting.


Amazon Link: Unexpectedly Expecting

This post contains an affiliate link, which means that if you click on the Amazon link and buy the book, I may receive a commission.

Friday, 21 August 2015

Cover Reveal! Finding Bliss - Cassie Strickland

Findling Bliss B&W
Finding Bliss by Cassie Strickland
(The Bliss Series, #1)
Publication date: September 18th 2015
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Romance



One phone call was all it took. A voice on the answering machine, a man oblivious to what calling me would do, uprooted my entire existence. He revived old hurts, dug up past nightmares. He destroyed everything I’d built for myself.
But I found bliss through Grey, in Grey.


I had no idea that making a simple phone call, one that devastated me because of the reasons behind it, would make me question my truths, my friendships, everything I held dear in my little town. Calling her was the best and worst decision I’d ever made, but it brought her to me, to Bliss.
And I could never take that back.

Finding Bliss is a story about redemption, of love, of finding true, irrevocable bliss. It’s about new beginnings and the heights you can attain during them.

Not intended for readers under the age of eighteen due to language and sexual situations.


Cassie Strickland lives in East Texas with her husband, her daughter, and her Jack Russell terrier. With the support of her family and friends, she recently changed her career path to something new and exciting, something she loves to do - writing.


Thursday, 20 August 2015




You can’t write historic fiction if you don’t like research. The questions I kept asking in one scene after another are; “what does it sound like? What does it smell like? What does it taste like?” I have to be able to answer those questions.

Everyone knows the expression “Remember your audience.” Well, a writer needs to take that seriously. Who is going to read historical fiction? History buffs! I have read too many books with sloppy research, who have characters using a telephone five years before it was invented. Or referring to Vernon and Irene Castle’s performances taking place years before the two of them had even met. Once I spot those errors, the author has lost me.

I need to NOT lose my readers. In writing Wealth and Privilege, I read the street maps of Pittsburgh for the years of my book, from 1875 to 1889. And newspaper accounts, and biographies and histories and street directories. But I also had to pay attention to every little detail. Once I almost likened a character to a bad-tempered Pekingese (my grandmother had one when I was a child). Problem is, that breed wasn’t around yet in 1875! So if I hadn’t checked my facts (my husband spotted that one for me), I would have lost all the dog lovers in the audience. Parts of Minneapolis were called St. Anthony’s Falls when my character was there. I would have lost readers from Minnesota if I hadn’t checked my facts.

To talk about a person’s life, I have to talk about food, and dancing, and clothing, and transportation, and the weather. Popular hobbies of the time. All of these things need to be researched. I happen to be a Vintage dancer and a costumer, so those elements come easily to me. I have a few old cookbooks in my personal library, because I know they weren’t eating Heinz ketchup on Oscar Mayer hot dogs in 1875. There’s no fast food, no microwaveable dinners, no macaroni and cheese. No Wonderbread. So, what were they eating? I had to go look it up.

Research also allows for the most marvelous surprises! Who knew that rollerskating was a big craze in the 1880s…? I stumbled across that tidbit while looking for information about the new Rover Safety Bicycle. Once I knew about “rinking,” I had to find a way to use it.

Because I love the history, my readers trust me. I’ve had several readers send me messages, or write reviews, that comment upon the historical aspects of the story. They feel like they really were there at the Johnstown Flood, or the Railroad Riots of 1877. I had based those chapters on newspapers and other eyewitness accounts, and the events really ring true when my characters get caught up in them.


Wealth & Privilege by Jeanette Watts

Money. Family. Love. Hate. Obsession. Duty. Politics. Religion - or the lack thereof. Sex -- or, once again, the lack thereof.

Thomas Baldwin finds himself married to a woman he can’t stand, while head-over heels in love with another woman he can’t have. Talk about bad planning. He feels like a kite, buffeted by circumstances which blow him not only through personal crises, but also through some of the most significant events in Pittsburgh during the late 1800s, including the railroad riots of 1877, the creation of the Homestead Steel Works, the assassination of President Garfield, and the Johnstown Flood. Over time, and with the help of his muse, who dances maddeningly just beyond his reach, he takes control of his life, wresting it from the winds attempting to control him.

A carefully-researched historical novel about life among the privileged class of Pittsburgh during the Industrial Revolution.

About the Author


Jeanette Watts has written television commercials, marketing newspapers, stage melodramas, four screenplays, three novels, and a textbook on waltzing.

When she isn’t writing, she teaches social ballroom dances, refinishes various parts of her house, and sews historical costumes and dance costumes for her Cancan troupe.

Jeanette will be awarding a Victorian cameo to a randomly drawn winner (International)

via rafflecopter during the tour!

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Cover Reveal! Hidden Scars - Amanda K. Byrne

eCover RaineyCloud9 Hidden Scars by Amanda Byrne

Hidden Scars by Amanda K. Byrne
(Hidden Scars, #1)
Publication date: September 22nd 2015
Genres: Adult, Contemporary


Sometimes the past won’t stay where it belongs.
Sara’s number one rule of dating: closed off, secretive men need not apply. Years of therapy helped her move past the damage done by her emotionally abusive boyfriend, and she’s ready to date again. Someone funny, laid back, and easy to talk to. All things her coworker Taylor isn’t.
Taylor’s quiet. Too quiet. He operates in permanent stealth mode, and he hides his secrets as well as Sara does. She doesn’t want to be attracted to him, but after a night spent in a hotel room together, trapped by a blizzard, she can’t deny there’s a fire-hot connection between them, waiting to ignite. Their working relationship inches closer and closer to friendship, until one day she gathers her courage and kisses him.
It’s the match Taylor was waiting for.
What starts as a sweet, fumbling friendship quickly becomes a passionate and intense affair. Just when Sara’s starting to feel safe in Taylor’s arms, his secrets come out, and she wonders if she’ll ever be able to stop looking over her shoulder.

When she’s not plotting ways to sneak her latest shoe purchase past her partner, Amanda writes sexy, snarky romance and urban fantasy. She likes her heroines smart and unafraid to make mistakes, and her heroes strong enough to take them on.

If she’s not writing, she’s reading, drinking hot chocolate, and trying not to destroy her house with her newest DIY project. She lives in the beautiful Pacific Northwest, and no, it really doesn’t rain that much.

Author links:


Wednesday, 19 August 2015

Spotlight & Excerpt! THE LADY AND THE MINSTREL - Joyce DiPastena

02_The Lady and the MinstrelThe Lady and the Minstrel
by Joyce DiPastena

Publication Date: January 29, 2015
Publisher: Sable Tyger Books
Formats: Ebook, Paperback
Pages: 601
ISBN: 9780986239618

Genre: Historical Fiction/Romance

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A forbidden love and a past they can’t leave behind . . .

In King John's England, Robert Marcel chafes against the law that holds him bound as a villein on his lord’s manor. He tries to make a daring escape and is nearly caught by his cruel master, but a young girl helps him slip away.

Years pass and Robert takes up trade as a minstrel. Invited to play at a banquet for the notorious Earl of Saxton, he is stunned to come face to face with the girl he’s never forgotten—now Lady Marguerite of Winbourne, betrothed to the earl. Her status as a noblewoman puts her completely out of Robert’s reach, but he knows they are meant to be together. He vows to make her his wife no matter what the cost.

Lady Marguerite has often thought of the young man she helped escape. Her tender feelings for him quickly turn into much more when they are brought back into each other’s lives. She longs to be free to marry Robert, the man she loves, but that will require her to sacrifice all she holds dear.

They are tested at every turn by those bent on driving them apart and destroying what they have found together. Can their love truly conquer all?


“Why are you here? What do you want?” She wished to chill him again with her dignity, but the questions instead came out barely more than a whisper.

“To see you. To talk with you. To—” His voice snagged as the truth swept the impassive mask from his face. “Oh, heaven forgive me, to kiss you!”

His hand reached out again, then hesitated, hovering just below her chin. Instead of rebuffing him, she felt herself sway towards him ever so slightly. His fingertips, calloused from his lute’s strings, brushed against her cheekbone. Then her cheek cradled gently in his palm and the midnight eyes, no longer veiled, gazed into hers with a longing that took away her breath.

“I have thought of nothing but you since you gazed at me in the village today.” His voice shook slightly as the words spilled out in a rush. “Then when you smiled at me in the hall, I knew I was lost. I cannot hope to court you. I am only a poor minstrel, and you are betrothed to the Earl of Saxton. But one kiss—just one!—I would cherish to the end of my days. Just one, if you will grant it—and then I will be gone.”

Gone? Let him go now, when she had only just found him? Heaven could not be so cruel as to ask her to send him away so soon! If it took a kiss to bind him—

He must have taken her silence as assent, for he pulled her against his chest. He held her firmly, yet so gently that the embrace brought no pain to her back. Marguerite had never been in a man’s arms before. Her heart raced so hard a pleasurable little buzz of dizziness hummed through her mind and body. He did not look like a man who often hesitated to take what he wanted and yet when he bent his head towards hers, he checked himself just short of her lips. It was that instant of uncertainty in him, briefer than a heartbeat, that nudged her leap of faith in his honor and lifted her willing mouth and drifted shut her eyes.

And then she felt his mouth on hers, gentle, warm, strong, yet somehow cautious, as if weighing something in her, as if waiting ... for what? Outrage on her part? Resistance? Oh, heavens! If Marguerite had felt dizzy before, her senses now swam in earnest, and she wound her arms around his neck and let her body melt against him and kissed him back as if all her future hung on this one moment.



"DiPastena portrays . . . the world Robert and Marguerite inhabit, with a great deal of confidence and skill; this is a deeply-researched book that wears its learning very lightly, and it bears comparison well with other great novels of the Middle Ages. I loved the book and highly recommend it." ~ Historical Novel Society

"A grand novel of epic proportions . . . Both Marguerite and Robert are rich characters with much depth and background. . . . The storyline is unique . . . The solution to Marguerite's problem is inspiring!" ~ InD'Tale Magazine

ABOUT THE AUTHOR03_Joyce DiPastena

Joyce DiPastena dreamed of green medieval forests while growing up in the dusty copper mining town of Kearny, Arizona. She filled her medieval hunger by reading the books of Thomas B. Costain (where she fell in love with King Henry II of England), and later by attending the University of Arizona where she graduated with a degree in history, specializing in the Middle Ages. The university was also where she completed her first full-length novel…set, of course, in medieval England. Later, her fascination with Henry II led her to expand her research horizons to the far reaches of his “Angevin Empire” in France, which became the setting of her first published novel, Loyalty’s Web (a 2007 Whitney Award Finalist). Joyce is a multi-published, multi-award winning author who specializes in sweet medieval romances and romantic historicals heavily spiced with mystery and adventure. She lives with her two cats, Clio and Glinka Rimsky-Korsokov, in Mesa, Arizona.

For more information visit Joyce DiPastena's website and blog. You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.


Monday, August 10
Spotlight at What Is That Book About

Tuesday, August 11
Spotlight & Giveaway at Unshelfish

Wednesday, August 12
Review at Book Nerd

Thursday, August 13
Spotlight at I Heart Reading

Friday, August 14
Character Interview at Boom Baby Reviews

Saturday, August 15
Review at A Fold in the Spine

Monday, August 17
Interview at A Silver Twig

Tuesday, August 18
Spotlight & Giveaway at Peeking Between the Pages

Wednesday, August 19
Spotlight at Please Pass the Books

Thursday, August 20
Interview at Books and Benches

Friday, August 21
Review at Just One More Chapter
Review at With Her Nose Stuck in a Book
Spotlight at A Literary Vacation

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Tuesday, 18 August 2015

Autumn in the City of Angels - Kirby Howell


Seventeen year-old Autumn is one of the 1% who survived the Crimson Fever that wiped out most of Los Angeles and the world. Tucked away in the luxury penthouse she had shared with her architect father and famous mother, she is able to survive for months on food rations and water her father had stored in the safety of her secluded and secure hideaway. The need for human contact is met when she finds two other survivors, Ben and Rissi, a socially awkward, seventeen year-old mechanical whiz and his animated seven year-old sister. While out on a scout for more supplies, they run into members of the gang The Front, who are rebuilding a colony under the direction of their leader Kyle, a violent director with dubious motives. Having had a run-in with Kyle previously in which she was saved by the mysterious and personable Grey, she remembers Grey's mention of another colony formed in the underbelly of Hollywood High School, and makes her way there, soon joined by Ben and Rissi. But Grey isn't just a normal eighteen year-old boy, and racing against time, the group must relocate to avoid a war with The Front, while Autumn is forced to confront an uncomfortable truth about the young man she has fallen in love with in a world she no longer understands.

Autumn in the City of Angels is a light, easy read that young teenagers will enjoy. It isn't ground-breaking or singular for the genre of apocalyptic romance, but it is certainly entertaining. The characters are well developed and the story moves at a measured pace. Many may feel that there is a lot that goes unanswered, but I actually appreciated that Kirby Howell was able to write a quality teen novel without the usual information dump many debut novelists tend to cram into a book. Readers are allowed to inject their own visions within the context of a well-written and delightful story. The character Grey will certainly appeal to fans who adored Edward in the Twilight series, whereas Autumn is in a league of her own—a strong, independent teenager, and the every-woman that most teenage girls aspire to be. Recommended for teens who are looking for a taste of romance, nicely enveloped in a bit of fantasy.


Amazon Link: Autumn in the City of Angels (Autumn Series) (Volume 1)

This post contains an affiliate link, which means that if you click on the Amazon link and buy the book, I may receive a commission.

Monday, 17 August 2015

Spotlight & Excerpt! Incurable - E.C. Moore

by E.C. Moore

Publication Date: July 6, 2015
BookTrope Publishing
eBook; 360 Pages

Genre: Historical Suspense/Literary

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Her menacing past was loose and in close pursuit. The fear of the thing lived in her eyes, and trepidation sounded with each step her heels made as she fled…

Los Angeles 1956—Marilyn Palmer is a beauty with a deep dark secret. After a threatening note from a blackmailer arrives she hires a private eye to help keep her unsavory past under wraps.

Incurable is a story wrought with impetuous and regrettable decisions made by a desperate young woman. Barely eighteen years old, and a gifted seamstress, she makes the ill-fated decision to run away from her Detroit home with a wily friend. Bound for Hollywood, and seeking stardom, the girls set out on an incredible journey.

This splendidly imagined debut explores the tumultuous life and times of a woman who suffered the ultimate betrayal as a child during the Great Depression. A story of survival set against the backdrop of early Hollywood, misery on Hotel Street in Honolulu before the bombing of Pearl Harbor, and heartbreak in Los Angeles during WWII, Incurable delivers an emotional intensity rarely found.



When Marilyn pulled out of her driveway and into the cul-de-sac, she spotted a mysterious blue car parked across the street. The very same car had been parked up the way the day before, and she wondered if it meant anything. On her way to meet Lillian at Flynn’s Fish-n-Steak, Marilyn thought she spotted the blue car in her rearview mirror, but when she turned around she realized it was a different vehicle altogether. Her mind must be playing tricks; she had jumped to an absurd conclusion. So what if a strange car showed up two days in a row? Her normally reclusive neighbors must have company—that’s all.


"Incurable will have you flipping through its word-painted images, and thinking about its characters long after you've read the last line." - Anita Kovacevic

ABOUT THE AUTHOR03_Author E.C. Moore

When E.C. Moore’s not writing feverishly, you will find her out walking or sightseeing. She’s wild about coffee, books, cooking, good wine, cairn terriers, miniature ponies, historical houses, and witty people.

She resides in a fifties bungalow in Southern California, with her creative-director husband, a yappy blonde dog, and one feisty Chihuahua.

For more information visit E.C. Moore's website. You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Amazon, Google+, and Goodreads.


Monday, August 10
Review at Book Nerd

Tuesday, August 11
Review at A Fold in the Spine
Spotlight & Excerpt at Curling Up By the Fire

Wednesday, August 12
Guest Post & Giveaway at Unshelfish

Thursday, August 13
Review at With Her Nose Stuck in a Book
Spotlight & Excerpt at A Literary Vacation
Spotlight & Excerpt at What Is That Book About

Sunday, August 16
Review at History From a Woman's Perspective
Spotlight & Excerpt at Please Pass the Books

Monday, August 17
Guest Post at Passages to the Past

Thursday, August 20
Review at Bookramblings
Spotlight & Giveaway at Teddy Rose Book Reviews Plus More

Friday, August 21
Tour Wrap-Up & Giveaway at Passages to the Past

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Sunday, 16 August 2015

Mount of Hope: A Victorian Tale of Young Love - Jamie Michele

This book surprised me in a lot of different ways. I was expecting a traditional Victorian romance and a good story of period detail and dialog, but what I wasn't expecting was a lyrical style of writing and a storyline that was both engaging and funny.

This is the story of a love triangle between Alfred Dermont (spoiled only son and heir to a country seat), Julia Drummond (ward to the Dermont's and childhood friend/sister to Alfred), and Amelia Thorwold (beautiful lady of London's bon ton who catches Alfred's fancy). The story unfolds with a clever twist and all the characters are all very well portrayed.

I recommend this book to anyone who enjoys reading Georgette Heyer, Edith Wharton, Thomas Hardy, and the lyrical style of Jane Austen.


Amazon Link: Mount of Hope: A Victorian Tale of Young Love

This post contains an affiliate link, which means that if you click on the Amazon link and buy the book, I may receive a commission.

Saturday, 15 August 2015

SPOTLIGHT: The Forgotten Flapper - Laini Giles

02_The Forgotten Flapper_CoverThe Forgotten Flapper: A Novel of Olive Thomas (Forgotten Actress Series, Volume 1)
by Laini Giles

Publication Date: August 1, 2015
Publisher: Sepia Stories Publishing
Formats: eBook & Trade Paperback
Pages: 411

Genre: Historical Fiction/Biographical

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A presence lurks in New York City’s New Amsterdam Theatre when the lights go down and the audience goes home. They say she’s the ghost of Olive Thomas, one of the loveliest girls who ever lit up the Ziegfeld Follies and the silent screen. From her longtime home at the theater, Ollie’s ghost tells her story from her early life in Pittsburgh to her tragic death at twenty-five.

After winning a contest for “The Most Beautiful Girl in New York,” shopgirl Ollie modeled for the most famous artists in New York, and then went on to become the toast of Broadway. When Hollywood beckoned, Ollie signed first with Triangle Pictures, and then with Myron Selznick’s new production company, becoming most well known for her work as a “baby vamp,” the precursor to the flappers of the 1920s.

After a stormy courtship, she married playboy Jack Pickford, Mary Pickford’s wastrel brother. Together they developed a reputation for drinking, club-going, wrecking cars, and fighting, along with giving each other expensive make-up gifts. Ollie's mysterious death in Paris’ Ritz Hotel in 1920 was one of Hollywood’s first scandals, ensuring that her legend lived on.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR03_Laini Giles_Author

A native of Austin, Texas, Laini Giles grew up the daughter of bookworms, and became a Nancy Drew devotee early on. When she realized there might be no escape from hairy tarantulas and bad guys with guns, she put her detective dreams on hold and wrote about them instead, finishing her first mystery novel with custom illustrations when she was eight. It was this love of mystery combined with a love of old MGM musicals and The Marx Brothers that led her to check Kenneth Anger’s Hollywood Babylon out of the library during her formative years. Ideas began to simmer.

A graduate of the University of North Texas, she put the writing on hold for a while when real life got in the way (i.e.—she met and married her Canadian husband and headed north for maple-flavored goodies and real beer). She highly recommends moving to another country and not being able to work for a year for finishing any novels you may have laying around.

Laini and her husband live in Edmonton, Alberta with their three gray girl cats, nicknamed The Supremes.

For more information visit Laini Giles' website and blog. You can also find her on Twitter and Goodreads.


Monday, August 3
Kick Off & Giveaway at Passages to the Past

Tuesday, August 4
Interview at The Maiden's Court

Wednesday, August 5
Book Blast/Spotlight at History From a Woman's Perspective

Thursday, August 6
Review at Book Nerd

Friday, August 7
Book Blast/Spotlight at What Is That Book About

Monday, August 10
Review at Book Babe

Tuesday, August 11
Book Blast/Spotlight at Room With Books

Wednesday, August 12
Character Interview at Boom Baby Reviews
Spotlight & Giveaway at Teddy Rose Book Reviews Plus More

Thursday, August 13
Review at Beth's Book Nook Blog

Friday, August 14
Spotlight & Giveaway at To Read, or Not to Read

Saturday, August 15
Book Blast/Spotlight at Please Pass the Books

Monday, August 17
Book Blast/Spotlight at A Literary Vacation

Tuesday, August 18
Book Blast/Spotlight at Let Them Read Books

Wednesday, August 19
Review at A Book Drunkard

Thursday, August 20
Spotlight & Giveaway at View From the Birdhouse

Friday, August 21
Book Blast/Spotlight at CelticLady's Reviews

Monday, August 24
Review at A Chick Who Reads

Wednesday, August 26
Review & Giveaway at Raven Haired Girl

Thursday, August 27
Book Blast/Spotlight at Svetlana's Reads and Views

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