Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tour: The Tudor Conspiracy

US Publication Date: July 16, 2013
UK Publication Date: July 18, 2013
St. Martin’s Griffin
Paperback; 352p
ISBN-10: 0312658494

Hunted by a shadowy foe in Bloody Mary’s court, Brendan Prescott plunges into London’s treacherous underworld to unravel a dark conspiracy that could make Elizabeth queen—or send her to her death in C.W. Gortner’s The Tudor Conspiracy

England, 1553: Harsh winter encroaches upon the realm. Mary Tudor has become queen to popular acclaim and her enemies are imprisoned in the Tower. But when she’s betrothed to Philip, Catholic prince of Spain, putting her Protestant subjects in peril, rumors of a plot to depose her swirl around the one person whom many consider to be England’s heir and only hope—the queen’s half-sister, Princess Elizabeth.

Haunted by his past, Brendan Prescott lives far from the intrigues of court. But his time of refuge comes to an end when his foe and mentor, the spymaster Cecil, brings him disquieting news that sends him on a dangerous mission. Elizabeth is held captive at court, the target of the Spanish ambassador, who seeks her demise. Obliged to return to the palace where he almost lost his life, Brendan finds himself working as a double-agent for Queen Mary herself, who orders Brendan to secure proof that will be his cherished Elizabeth’s undoing.

Plunged into a deadly game of cat-and-mouse with a mysterious opponent who hides a terrifying secret, Brendan races against time to retrieve a cache of the princess’s private letters, even as he begins to realize that in this dark world of betrayal and deceit, where power is supreme and sister can turn against sister, nothing—and no one—is what it seems.

Review: I've been reading a lot of Tudor books again, but I have to say of my recent reads, The Tudor Conspiracy is one of the best. In fact, it is one of the best I've read in a long time.

It is a great mix of fiction and fact.

This is the second book in the Elizabeth Spymaster Chronicles but it is definitely a good stand alone read. (I will however be getting the first book)

What I loved the most about this story is that its voice is a man. I'm so used to reading Tudor novels told from the point of view of one of Henry's Queens or his daughters, or a lady in waiting etc. It was refreshing to hear a male voice, and Brendan Prescott is just wonderful.

Brendan's character was so full of emotion. He was easy to love. There was a death near the mid-point of the book that is just totally heartbreaking, and I loved that Brendan showed how he felt in regards to the person that passed away.

He's also a character that is full of nobility. He cares more for the people he is working for than the politics. But he is also human, with flaws and weaknesses. I think that's what makes him so likable. He's human.

This book also lets you see both of Henry VIII's daughters...both Queen Mary and Princess Elizabeth and Gortner doesn't try to portray one in a better light than others, which is really unusual.

There are a lot of secrets Brendan keeps I was really not expecting to see so many loose ends tied up considering that this is series, but that said I really am looking forward to the next book.

I highly recommend this to lovers of the Tudor period and historical fiction.

Rating: 5 flowers

Monday, July 29, 2013

TLC Book Tours Book Review: Monica McCarty - The Hunter

Author: Monica McCarty
Title: The Hunter
Publisher: Ballentine Books
Publish Date: June 25, 2013
Buy: Amazon
Review Copy Provided By: TLC Book Tours and the publisher
Book Blurb: 
The war for Scotland’s freedom continues as King Robert the Bruce battles on. At his command is an elite army of trained warriors, soldiers dedicated to their king, their country—and to the remarkable women they love.

Prized for his unbeatable tracking skills, Ewen “Hunter” Lamont accepts a dangerous assignment: locate a missing undercover courier. But this is no ordinary target. Ewen has met his prey before as “Sister Genna,” a fiery, forbidden woman forever etched in his memory after one stolen, sinful kiss. Now that he knows her real identity, he’s more determined than ever to keep her safe. But without the protection of the veil between them, fighting the allure of the beautiful lass may be the toughest battle this extraordinary warrior has ever faced.

After her ill-fated attempt three years ago to rescue her twin sister, Janet of Mar has found salvation acting as a royal messenger—until she surrenders to a darkly handsome warrior whose rough, sensual kisses stir feelings the woman in her can’t deny. But when betrayal leads to danger, and a crucial communiqué is put in jeopardy, Janet has no choice but to put her faith in the hunter who can find anything—perhaps even her heart.

Review: What do you get when you combine a super alpha Highlander warrior and a kick butt heroine? You get the main characters for Monica McCarty's latest Highland Guard Novel.

Yes, this is a series, but no, you don't have to read them in order if you don't want to.

Ewen is an alpha male in the way any romance reader is used to. There's a right way, a wrong way and his way which is the only way to do things. That way is challenged when he meets Sister Genna, who is Janet of Mar. She's every bit as alpha as he is and she isn't afraid to stand up to him (and she does)

I'm a total fan of historical romance, but I don't often read Scottish historicals. They lack the glamour that goes along with the regency period (which is my period of choice). These stories are usually rough and full of fighting and ward. (That goes without saying..that's the time period)

However there really was something about Janet's spunky behavior and Ewen that made me fall in love with this book. I also liked that it wasn't totally  full of sex. I'm a lover of smut, but I believe it should fit in with the story, and in this case it did, but not in great quantities

Monica McCarty captures the time period of Edward II and Robert The Bruce...she also did so with a great deal of historical accuracy, which doesn't often happen in romance novels

This book  made me want to try the other books and get to know the rest of the sexy Highlanders.

Monica's writing brings the period to life while telling a story that keeps the pages turning.

Rating: 4 flowers

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Book Review: The Big, Not-So-Small, BBW Romance, Dating Agency

Author: Ava Catori
Title: The Big, Not-So-Small, BBW Romance, Dating Agency
Publish Date: May 2, 2013
Buy: Amazon
Review Copy Provided By: Net Galley
Book Blurb: 
Becky Holgate's lost her focus. It’s complicated...she didn’t mean to fall in love with another woman’s guy. How could she be a matchmaker for other people if all she could think about was her own heart? Determined to ignore her growing infatuation, she set her site on building her career. Only Reed Amwell was making it hard to concentrate; every encounter left her breathless.

Reed didn’t mean to fall for the curvy girl, but she was carefree, silly, and fresh. Her soft curves and playful heart had him questioning his current relationship. Could he be with the wrong girl? He needed to figure it out fast, because his wedding day was getting closer by the minute.

With a laugh-out-loud best friend, an insane cat, and a business to run, Becky Holgate didn’t have time for guys like Reed Amwell...until time was running out.

Review: The title of this book is quite a mouthful, considering that the story is only about 120 pages in length.

There are a lot of books going around now with BBW (Big Beautiful Woman) as heroines. What I liked about Ava's Becky is that this was a heroine that was real. Her self esteem issues throughout the book were ones that any girl, myself included feel when there are a few or many extra pounds on your frame.

The book might have been more refreshing if she were more comfortable with herself, like her friend Sam. Both are BBWs but Sam enjoys life more and doesn't let her weight hold her back, even though she was burned by a past boyfriend.

Reed was an interesting hero. I loved him...I was confused by him..I didn't know what to make of him. Super gorgeous and engaged when he first met Becky, it was hard to think that these two would get it together.

I don't like books with cheating and I was really glad that Reed chose to break it off with Jessica. (Who was a Bitch..and that capital B needs to be there). There is absolutely no way you can like that girl. She was "Wicked Witch" evil. Seriously, the girl needed a house to fall on her!

I would have liked this story to have been a little longer because I felt all the characters relationships moved a little too fast. But then again..the character are in their mid-twenties and things tend to move faster at that age. But I would have liked more time getting to know Reed and Becky and definitely Sam.

The only gripe I had was with the confrontation with Jessica....I knew it was going to happen. The pretty thin girl had to belittle the fat chick. It was too obvious for me.

Still it was a cute fun read and a nice introduction to a new author.

Rating: 3 flowers

Saturday, July 27, 2013

A Chick Ponders Bookish Things: Book Geekery

Last night I spent several hours organizing a new bookcase that I bought.

I set up the top shelf for most of my Doctor Who books!

Take a look!

Had to get some of my other Doctor Who stuff in the picture too.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

TLC Book Tours Book Review: Stargazey Point

Author: Shelley Noble
Title: Stargazey Point
Publisher: William Morrow
Publish Date: July 9, 2013
Buy: Amazon
Review Copy Provided By: TLC Book Tours & the publisher
Book Blurb: 
Shelley Noble's Stargazey Point is a beautiful story of love, heartbreak, friendship, and new beginnings.

Devastated by tragedy during her last project, documentarian Abbie Sinclair seeks refuge with three octogenarian siblings, who live in a looming plantation house at the edge of the world.

South Carolina’s Stargazey Point used to be a popular family beach resort, but the beaches have eroded, most of the businesses have closed, and the crowds have gone. It's the perfect place to hide from the rest of world.

But hiding is harder than she thought it would be. There's a wise Gullah woman who seems to see into Abbie's soul, and an intriguing man on a quest to bring Stargazey Point back to life.

Stargazey Point by Shelley Nobel is the perfect beach read any time of year.

Review: To call Stargazey Point a beach novel is an understatement. It is a novel that takes you to the beach, even when you are hours away.

Stargazey Point instantly becomes a town that you want to visit and all the characters become people that you really want to know, especially the Crispins. I loved Millie, Marnie and Beau. These real Southerners, very gentile and full of charm.

Shelley's writing really draws you into the story, so that you feel you are right there with Abbie and Cabot.

Oh and did I mention Cabot is restoring an old carousel? That in itself won me over. I'm a sucker for carousels. They are my favorite amusement park ride. (Not a thrill seeker here) Oh and if you want to read more of how Cabot came to Stargazey Point, you'll want to read Shelley's novella, Stargazey Nights, that's an ebook only release.

I really couldn't put this book down once I started it, and when I did, it was to gaze longingly at the cover, wishing I was on the beach watching a carousel go round and round.

But this book is so much more than that. There's romance, there's forgiveness, there's starting over and friendship and a lot of new beginnings.

Abbie is really a character that grows so much throughout the novel, especially as she starts working with the underprivileged youth in the area to document the restoration of the carousel. I also love how she really connects with the Crispins. It is impossible not to love Beau.

I want to go to Stargazey Point..and after you read this book, you will too.

There's too much to love about this book. If you love books with a touch of Southern Charm..this is definitely your book.

Rating: 5 flowers

About Shelley Noble

Shelley Noble is a former professional dancer and choreographer. She most recently worked on the film sMona Lisa Smile and The Game Plan. She is a member of Sisters in Crime, Mystery Writers of America, and Romance Writers of America and is the author of Beach Colors. She lives in New Jersey. Find out more about Shelley at her website, follow her on Twitter, and connect with her on Facebook.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

A Chick Ponders Bookish Things: Why I Hate Posting Reviews On Amazon

I despise posting book reviews or any kind of review on Amazon.


There's so much drama there.

I recently had a comment on a review I posted over a year ago complaining of spoilers. I went back and looked at the review and there were none there.

I try very hard to write spoiler free reviews.

What I find really annoying about Amazon and even to a certain extent, Goodreads, is how many people write their reviews almost as comments to other reviews.

I get annoyed when I see people say...I don't know why this book got so many...5 star reviews because I hated it...yada yada yada or even vice versa.

If I'm reading a review, I want to know why that particular reviewer liked or didn't like the book, not a comparison with the rest of the reviewers.

After this last experience, I think I'm a little less inclined to share my reviews on Amazon. I really like to keep my stress levels down and...well, I hate to admit it, but I'm easily annoyed and I can be even more easily provoked. So comments like the one I received on that one review make me want to lash out.

I know I shouldn't let stupid stuff like that bother me, but I can't help it. It angers me so much.

So have any of you had any bad experiences with your reviews on Amazon?

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Historical Fiction Book Tours Guest Post: Trini Amador

Gracianna was my great-grandmother and when I was a child she used to talk a lot about being thankful. “Grateful?” Who talks to a four year old about that concept? Later in life I began linking shreds of stories I had been told with my own my beliefs. Suddenly, fifty years had gone by and it was time to tell the story about this strong Basque woman, my “Grandma Lasaga.” As a brand marketing executive that owns his own business I travel a lot. Last year I put in 250,000 miles worldwide. I live in Sonoma County, California but nearly all of my work is outside the US.  I wrote Gracianna in over thirteen countries! Rather than list them, I thought I’d pull out some highlights to help you see some of my inspirations. Gracianna took eight months to write but nearly two years to edit.

I fly to Asia quite a lot…Cathay Pacific is a wonderful airline that flies the Southeast Asia routes including Karachi, Pakistan where I am writing this now. The airline’s logo has a “bird” in it that represents flight. It reminded me that Gracianna was on a flight in her life, and at various points had decisions to make about what direction she should go. That is why in the art direction of the chapter breaks from chapter to chapter I have the bird switching her flight directions, flying one way then the next. I imagine that when you read Gracianna you will understand the symbolism of the other two birds in the trees that she is flying between.
There is more symbolism in the trees of those chapter breaks as well, and if you look closely enough you will see that the German Luger that plays a central role in the story will appear to you. But if you find it don’t show anyone.

At one point my business took me to Warsaw, Poland. I was writing the book during this excursion as well. For some reason and it had not occurred to me to extend my research to Krakow and Auschwitz on that trip. But that ended when I was tackled by the Polish night as the bitter cold overwhelmed me when the door of the plane opened. I was traveling from South America and inconveniently left my winter coat in California.  The burst of cold enveloped me.  The thought of my grandmother’s sister (or anyone) withstanding that sort of cold in a concentration camp drew me to Auschwitz. I needed to see where she had been.  I took hundreds of photos while I was there but have been unable to look at them since. Several of my Auschwitz photos were chosen by the producer of the Gracianna book video trailer accompanies this posting. Have a look. If you have any questions or want to know more inside stories about the book just contact me—I would love to hear from you.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Historical Fiction Book Tours Book Review: Gracianna


Publication Date: July 23, 2013
Greenleaf Book Group Press
Hardcover; 296p
ISBN-10: 1608325709

The gripping story of Gracianna--a French-Basque girl forced to make impossible decisions after being recruited into the French Resistance in Nazi-occupied Paris.

Gracianna is inspired by true events in the life of Trini Amador's great-grandmother, Gracianna Lasaga. As an adult, Amador was haunted by the vivid memory of finding a loaded German Luger tucked away in a nightstand while wandering his great-grandmother's home in Southern California. He was only four years old at the time, but the memory remained and he knew he had to explore the story behind the gun.

Decades later, Amador would delve into the remarkable odyssey of his Gracianna's past, a road that led him to an incredible surprise. In Gracianna, Amador weaves fact and fiction to tell his great-grandmother's story.

Gracianna bravely sets off to Paris in the early 1940s--on her way to America, she hopes--but is soon swept into the escalation of the war and the Nazi occupation of Paris. After chilling life-and-death struggles, she discovers that her missing sister has surfaced as a laborer in Auschwitz. When she finds an opportunity to fight back against the Nazis to try to free her sister, she takes it--even if it means using lethal force.

As Amador tells the imagined story of how his great-grandmother risked it all, he delivers richly drawn characters and a heart-wrenching page-turner that readers won't soon forget.

Review: There's so much to love about this book. The cover is stunning and as you turn the page so are they. There are very few books where the pages themselves are pretty, but this is one of those books.

What I love about this book is that it is part real life and part fiction. Not in the way that a lot of historical novels are though...the main character is the author's great grandmother. How awesome is that?

In fact, how awesome is it that you can write a fictionalized account of your great grandmother's life!

And the story is so gripping. Gracianna is the kind of woman most of us want to be. She's hardworking and ambitious in a time when most women just got married and raised a family. (not that she didn't want that) But she wanted more. She wanted to see more.

Any story that involves World War II and France is going to have suspenseful elements and as Gracianna tries to free her sister you get that.

This is a novel not to be missed!

Rating: 5 flowers

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Book Review: Prince Of Secrets

Author: Lucy Monroe
Title: Prince Of Secrets
Publisher: Harlequin Presents
Publish Date: July 23, 2013
Buy: Amazon
Review Copy Provided By: Net Galley
Book Blurb: 100% Determined Prince Demyan Zaretsky does whatever it takes to protect his country. So seducing Chanel Tanner will be easy. And marriage? An unfortunate side effect of duty. She unwittingly holds the economic stability of Volyarus in her hands...and he must secure it.

100% Devastating!

With his royal identity and intent disguised, Demyan sets about a ruthless seduction designed to make Chanel lose her mind with ecstasy. But when he discovers she is a virgin, he uncovers something in himself-a conscience. Now his plan takes a shocking turn-one this dark-hearted prince had never anticipated!

Review: I have to say that when the family of the hero (well his adopted family) has the same name as your boss, it makes for challenging reading. (especially when they are royals!)

What kept me reading was Chanel. Throughout the whole book I kept thinking, she had to be modeled after Temperance Brennan from Bones (the TV Show...not the books). Her personality was so much like hers and for that I loved her.

There's something about a smart female that is socially awkward and just totally unsure of how to deal with the hot sexy man that is Demyan that really intrigues a person.

I probably would have liked the story a bit more if she weren't a 29 year old virgin. Socially awkward or not...if she is as beautiful as she's written to be..well that part is hard to believe.

I did love the instant attraction between the two the really makes the reason Demyan is there seem insignificant.

I was also amazed at how Demyan's alpha maleness wasn't overpowering. It was there, but not in a way that makes him brutish, the way some Presents heroes can be.

Overall a pretty decent read.

Rating: 4 flowers

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Cover Reveal: Just My Luck

Just My Luck - PROMO Blitz

By Rosalind James

 (Escape to New Zealand #5)

Contemporary Romance

Date Published: 7/13/2013

A little distraction can be a wonderful thing.

Nate Torrance has a job to do, and the biggest rugby boots in the world to fill. He can’t afford to lose his focus, especially not to a brown-eyed Canadian who pushes all his buttons and looks much too good in a climbing harness.

Allison Villiers may not know what she wants to do with her life, but she’s clear about one thing. She’s not impressed by the new captain of the All Blacks, however big a deal he is to the rest of New Zealand. If only her unfortunate taste for adventure didn’t keep leading her astray . . .


“How are you finding Wellington so far?” Nate asked when they were out on the water. He’d managed to launch them from the beach with a shove, and even climb in again behind her without any mishaps. Ally was actually a little sorry. She’d been half-anticipating going over, and enjoying the prospect of teasing him about it. He definitely needed it.

“I love it,” she said, keeping up a steady stroke and feeling the calm that always came over her when she was surrounded by sea and sky, enjoying the effort, the rhythmic motion. She was going to be out here with him for a while, so she might as well keep this pleasant. She didn’t even have to look at him, after all. You couldn’t really turn around in a double kayak without tipping the thing, which was probably for the best in this case. “I’ve been wandering around getting happily lost, and finding my way home again. It’s a lively place, isn’t it? Lots of outdoor stuff to do too, and as you know, that’s my favorite thing.”

“It can get a bit wet and windy,” he cautioned.

“I’ve heard,” she said, unable to keep the amusement from her voice. “I’ve had a few discussions about the weather already, you see.”

She heard him groan. “I’m rubbish at chatting girls up,” he admitted, surprising a laugh from her. “I never know what to say. Everything’s either dull, or it sounds like a pickup line. I generally end up opting for dull.”

“Honesty works, though,” she told him. “That was pretty good right there.”

“Really.” He sounded surprised. “I should throw myself on your mercy, you think?”

“Definitely. A strong man being endearingly awkward . . . I like it. It’s an approach, anyway.”

“Better than spilling a beer on her, I reckon,” he said.

“Much better." She realized that she was paddling along with a smile on her face. Why hadn’t she met this guy before? She liked him.

“I’ll try again, then,” he said. “Did you spend Christmas here as well, on the Coromandel?”

“No, in Auckland. And it rained one day, but otherwise the weather was good. Just to anticipate you.”

He laughed. “Do anything special?”

“I did, actually. I bungy jumped off the Sky Tower. Kristen’s Christmas present.”

“Crikey. This is me shuddering back here."

“No, really?” she asked in surprise. “It was amazing. You should try it.”

“I’ll take your word for it,” he decided.

“You don’t like thrills?”

“I love thrills. Know how to get them, too. And it’s not by jumping off buildings.”

Wow. She didn’t think she’d pursue that one. Maybe he meant rugby. Yeah, right. He hadn’t meant rugby.

Rosalind James

Author Bio:

Rosalind James is the author of the bestselling “Escape to New Zealand” series, as well as "Welcome to Paradise," her first book in the new U.S.-based "Kincaids" series.

Rosalind divides her time between California and New Zealand.

Authors Links

Website| Facebook |

Friday, July 19, 2013

Book Review: Accidents Happen

Author: Louise Millar
Title: Accidents Happen
Publisher: Atria Books
Publish Date: June 25, 2013
Buy: Amazon
Review Copy Provided By: Net Galley
Book Blurb: From Louise Millar, the acclaimed author of The Playdate, comes a gripping psychological thriller where one woman’s streak of bad luck may be something far more sinister. Kate Parker lives her life in a state of heightened anxiety, constantly afraid that something terrible will happen to her and her ten-year-old son, Jack. She obsesses over statistics to make them safe. There’s a reason for Kate’s nervousness. She lost her parents in a freak traffic accident on her wedding night, and her husband Hugo was murdered. It’s time for Kate to move on and start a new life.

When Kate meets Jago, it feels like she’s about to get that new beginning. Soon, though, her doubts return—despite the fact that everyone thinks she’s irrational. But is she imagining things? Or does she have a real reason to worry? After all, accidents happen.

Heralded as “a writer to watch” (Booklist) for her stylishly creepy and accomplished debut, Louise Millar skillfully layers suspense and twists in this taut and deeply suspenseful thriller.

Review: Accidents Happen is a kind of chicklit thriller. Louise Millar writes the story so that the pages turn effortlessly. You are taken into Kate and Jack's world instantly and it is a crazy crazy world.

So many bad things have happened to Kate...her parents were killed on her wedding day, her husband was murdered and so many other little things. Kate suffers anxiety and she uses statistics to help her think she's safe.

Kate is a character that takes some getting to know before you start to feel any emotions for. In fact, for the first part of the book, you like her in laws think she's totally out of her mind and you feel nothing but sorry for her poor little boy that lives in the shadow of her fear. Her paranoia keeps him from enjoying an outdoor sleepover...(though there is a lot more to his fears)

Then a chance meeting with an author in a juice shop gives her a new lease on life. Jago shows her how to put away her fears, but in doing so, she ends up doing things that she wouldn't normally do.

All the while this is happening we know there's someone out there watching her and her son. In fact, you almost think you know what's going to happen.

But you don't.

That's why this book is so fantastic. When you reach the last 40 pages and you release that what you thought was going to happen isn't...your jaw will drop.

This was a wonderfully written and fun book to read. It isn't edge of your seat suspenseful or scary but it is gripping and you won't want to put it down once you get started. She creates characters that you really start to pull for and she gives them complex lives.

Jack is probably the best written child character that I've read in a novel. He comes across as genuine and he's adorable and also almost grown up at times.

Louise Millar is definitely an author to watch

Rating: 5 flowers

Author links

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

TLC Book Tours Book Review: The Chalice

Author: Nancy Bilyeau
Title: The Chalice
Publisher: Touchstone
Publish Date: March 2013
Review Copy Provided By: TLC Book Tours & the publisher
Book Blurb: The Chalice is a historical thriller told from the point of view of a young woman caught in the crosswinds of time: She has pledged to become a Dominican nun in an England ruled by Henry VIII, who has ruthlessly smashed his country’s allegiance to Rome. In 1538, bloody power struggles between crown and cross threaten to tear the country apart. Joanna Stafford has seen what lies inside the king’s torture rooms and risks imprisonment again, when she is caught up in a shadowy international plot targeting the King. As the power plays turn vicious, Joanna understands she may have to assume her role in a prophecy foretold by three different seers, each more omniscient than the last. The life of Henry VIII as well as the future of Christendom are in her hands—hands that must someday hold the chalice that lays at the center of these deadly prophecies. As she struggles to forge a life for herself in a country that rejects her faith, she must also decide if her future should be shared with a man–and if so, which of the two men who love her should be chosen.

Review: The Tudor Period....oh how I wish I could quit thee, but I just can't. There's something about those royals that draw me in.

I heard so much about The Crown and The Chalice when it first came out in March. I had to read it. I was bursting with excitement to be on this tour.

I'm so glad this book didn't disappoint. (Don't you hate it when things that receive a lot of hype don't live up to it).

This book was fantastic. (and heavy...literally heavy...)

I have really been getting into books that are historical mysteries and this book is just that, and so much more.

I can really go fangirlly over this book. You have the setting of Tudor have Henry VIII (I am, I that song always pops in my head when I talk about him) and his reformation of the church...putting all the Catholics out of work basically. Joanna was a Dominican novice.

So many novels set in this period focus on The Crown....this book not so much and that's what makes it so interesting. Bilyeau's writing it engaging and you'll find the pages turning with ease. (And as I said there are a lot of them)

The Chalice is the sequel to The Crown, but it can be read as a stand alone novel as well.

Rating:  5 flowers

About Nancy Bilyeau Nancy Bilyeau is a magazine editor who has worked at such publications as Rolling Stone and InStyle and is now the executive editor of DuJour. A native of the Midwest, she earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Michigan. She researched and workshopped her first novel, The Crown, for five years before finding an agent and selling it in an auction to Touchstone/Simon&Schuster in 2010. For The Chalice, she traveled to England to do in-depth research into the tumultuous late 1530s of the Tudor era. She lives in New York City with her husband and two children. For more information about Nancy and her work, visit her website at

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Book Review: Plain Admirer

Author: Patricia Davids
Title: Plain Admirer
Publisher: Love Inspired
Buy: Amazon
Review Copy Provided By: Net Galley
Book Blurb: 
Love is Only a Letter Away

So what if Joann Yoder's Amish community deems her a spinster? She's content to stay single. In the meantime, she's working hard to finally buy her dream house. So it's problematic when she's fired from her job to make room for the owner's nephew, Roman Weaver. His blue eyes aside, she simply can't stand him! Good thing she has the secret letters she's been exchanging with a mystery man to keep her going. But who is writing her letters? And could she possibly fall for him in real life, too?

Review: Patricia Davids writes really lovely Amish romance. These aren't books like Beverly Lewis or Wanda Brunstetter. These stories are love stories. Readers already know Joann from the last book.

This book is about two seemingly opposite personalities attracting...but as you read the story, you find out that Joann and Roman really aren't all that opposite at all.

I loved how they each took little jabs at each other. You could really understand it from Joann's point of view. She was being ousted from a job that she loved just so the owner's nephew could find work. The fact that she managed to be civil to him while teaching him a job she had been doing and doing well speaks volumes for her.

It is no wonder sparks flew between the two. Joann is a maedel (spinster) and Roman is a goodlooking Amish man trying to recover from an accident that left him with little use of one arm.

The arguments between Joann and Roman really made the story come alive. Of course so did the letters that they shared though neither of them know that they are writing to the other at the time.

I really loved how they came together in this story. Definitely one of Patricia's best.

Patricia Davids' Brides of Amish Country series is much like Debbie Macomber's Cedar Cove series. You get to meet new people and revisit old friends with each book, so each story is new, but familiar.

Rating: 5 flowers

Monday, July 15, 2013

Historical Fiction Book Tours Book Review: The Queen's Rivals w/Giveaway


US Publication Date: June 25, 2013
Kensington Publishing

Paperback; 384p

ISBN-10: 0758265999

UK Publication Date: September 12, 2013

Avon Publishing

ISBN-10: 1847563457

Book Blurb:
Their ambitions were ordinary, but they were born too close to the throne...

As cousins of history's most tempestuous queens, Ladies Jane, Katherine, and Mary Grey were born in an age when all of London lived beneath the Tower's menacing shadow. Tyrannized by Bloody Mary and the Virgin Queen, the sisters feared love was unthinkable —and the scaffold all but unavoidable...

Raised to fear her royal blood and what it might lead men to do in her name, Mary Grey dreads what will become of herself and her elder sisters under the reigns of Mary Tudor and Elizabeth I. On their honor, they have no designs on the crown, yet are condemned to solitude, forbidden to wed. Though Mary, accustomed to dwelling in the shadows, the subject of whispers, may never catch the eye of a gentleman, her beautiful and brilliant sisters long for freedoms that would surely cost their lives. And so, wizened for her years, Mary can only hope for divine providence amid a bleak present and a future at the whim of the throne — unless destiny gains the upper hand.

A gripping and bittersweet tale of broken families and broken hearts, courage and conviction, The Queen's Rivals recounts an astonishing chapter in the hard-won battle for the Tudor throne.

Please note this book will be published in the UK as THE FALLEN QUEEN by Emily Purdy.

Review: There are certain authors I know will always delight me when it comes to the Tudor Period. One of those authors is Brandy Purdy.

In this Tudor novel we are treated to the lives of the Grey sisters, Katherine, Jane and Mary.

Everyone knows of Jane...who was the 9 day Queen. She's written about quite a bit in historical fiction. What surprised me was that the voice of the story was the younger sister, Mary, who I didn't really know much about until reading this book.

Like all books in the Tudor period this one is filled with drama and a lot of emotion. A lot of emotion, especially once you reach the point where sister Jane is put on the thrown..and then cousin Mary takes it from her. As you see the sister's lives crumble because of their position in the line for the thrown of England, you have to feel sad for all of them. The lives of Jane and Kate were truly heartbreaking.

From the beginning Mary is a voice you get a huge amount of "feels" for. She's described as a dwarf (She stopped growing at 5 years of age) and a hunchback. Yet of all the Grey sister's she's the one that came out the best.

Brandy takes a few liberties with history, but it makes the story so much more powerful. I loved that the thee sisters were almost like The Three Musketeers, The Brilliant One (Jane), The Beautiful One (Kate) and The Beastly One (Mary).

I highly recommend this book to fans of the Tudor period, or those looking for a different story other than the usual players.

Rating: 5 flowers

About the Author

Brandy Purdy (Emily Purdy in the UK) is the author of the historical novels THE CONFESSION OF PIERS GAVESTON, THE BOLEYN WIFE (THE TUDOR WIFE), THE TUDOR THRONE (MARY & ELIZABETH), THE QUEEN'S PLEASURE (A COURT AFFAIR), and THE QUEEN'S RIVALS (THE FALLEN QUEEN). An ardent book lover since early childhood, she first became interested in history at the age of nine or ten years old when she read a book of ghost stories which contained a chapter about Anne Boleyn haunting the Tower of London. Visit her website at, you can also follow her, and her cat Tabby, via her blog at where she posts updates about her work and weekly book reviews.

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TLC Book Tours Book Review: Stephanie Evanovich - Big Girl Panties

Author: Stephanie Evanovich
Title: Big Girl Panties
Publisher: William Morrow
Publish Date: July 9, 2013
Buy: Amazon
Review Copy Provided By: TLC Book Tours & The Publisher
Book Blurb: 
Holly Brennan used food to comfort herself through her husband’s illness and death. Now she’s alone at age thirty-two. And she weighs more than she ever has. When fate throws her in the path of Logan Montgomery, personal trainer to pro athletes, and he offers to train her, Holly concludes it must be a sign. Much as she dreads the thought of working out, Holly knows she needs to put on her big girl panties and see if she can sweat out some of her grief.

Soon, the easy intimacy and playful banter of their training sessions lead Logan and Holly to most intense and steamy workouts. But can Holly and Logan go the distance as a couple now that she’s met her goals—and other men are noticing?

Review: I'm really on the fence with this book. I was super stoked to see that Janet Evanovich's niece had written a book and its a romantic comedy.

The problem for me is it is too much a comedy and not enough romance, mostly because Logan is more than a bit shallow and Holly totally lacks any self esteem. Her parents are elderly hoarders who only want her so she can take care of them. Her husband died of pancreatic cancer...and she's overweight.


Poor Holly.

However she has spunk and that makes things really funny at times.

Holly isn't going to let the super hot guy sitting next to her in coach make her life hell for the flight and through that comes the offer to help her through personal training.

I think that's why this book was a bit off putting for me. Why do all books about fat girls have to be about the struggle to lose weight so that the super hot guy will fall madly in love with them? (Oh and this is coming from a fat girl, m'kay?)

Of course as she loses weight she gets noticed and Logan does start falling for her. Slowly but surely Logan starts to be less shallow, though he still ponders how he's going to get her to lose those last 20 pounds.


I liked the book a lot, but it somehow didn't live up to the hype.

I read this book in one evening. That in itself should prove that it is enjoyable. I found myself laughing out loud many times as I turned the pages. In that respect you can draw comparisons to her aunt Janet. I can definitely see this book being made into a movie too. I just fear that Owen Wilson, Ben Stiller or Adam Sandler might be involved...

Rating; 4 flowers

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