Update: Winner, Book Signing, Competition and More

Happy Sunday evening everyone!  Today is just gonna kinda be a hodge podge kind of post.  There are a lot of little things that have been happening in my world that don’t really need individual posts.

First, I want to thank everyone who stopped by in the recent days to support the authors I was hosting.  Thank you, also, to Lynne Silver and Rachael Wade for stopping by and sharing their awesome books.  With Lynne’s book came a contest and our lucky winner was Alethea.  Congratulations!  You will be contacted very shortly.  Keep your eyes peeled I will be having more contests and giveaways in the upcoming weeks.  I also have a lot of fantastic authors and books I will be reviewing, promoting, interviewing and guest posting.  For exact dates be sure you check out my Upcoming Events page.

Second, this week I had an awesome chance to go to a Deborah Harkness book signing.  Sadly, this is the first signing I’ve ever been to.  It was fantastic.  She read from her new book and did a Q&A.  It was quite a thrill for me especially since I’ve read both her books and have done an author profile on her.  Here are just a couple of pics from the signing.

Deborah Harkness answering Q & A

Me and Deborah Harkness

Third, I am planning a Big Baddies Competition.  I am going to take the baddest villains in the books that I’ve read and your suggestions and pit them against each other.  You guys will cast your vote to see who will win.  I’m not quite sure when I am going to start the competition, but I need your suggestions please.  Leave a comment below with who you think is bad.  I need all the villains I can get!

Finally, I just want to thank all of my new followers.  I hope you will enjoy the blog and if you have any suggestions or want me to write about any particular topic I am definitely up for ideas.  I have a brand new facebook page so please like it to keep up with all the giveaways, competitions and contests that not only I highlight but others I am supporting.  A big thanks again for all my followers!

Review: Shadow of Night by Deborah Harkness

I finally finished my number 1 on my TBR list.  I have been waiting quite a while for this sequel and it was completely worth the wait.  Deborah Harkness’ second book in her All Saints trilogy was an outstanding follow-up to her first book, A Discovery of Witches.   It is truly going to be a difficult wait for the final book in the trilogy.

Shadow of Night begins where A Discovery of Witches left off.  Matthew and Diana have taken a step and landed at the Old Lodge in 1590.  It is the Elizabethan era.  A time of Shakespeare and Marlowe, witch hunts and religious strife between Catholics and Protestants.  No running water, no technology other than horseback and carriages and illness due to vermin infestation.  This is a long way from Diana’s 21st Century.  Not long after Diana and Matthew enter the 16th Century they run into Kit Marlowe, Sir Walter Raliegh and Henry Percy among other historically significant creatures.  What seemed like a quick job of jumping to the past, picking up Ashmole 782 and helping Diana become a proper witch soon becomes a daunting task.  Not long after being in Oxford and trying to find a witch to help Diana is accused of witchcraft and a timely summons by Matthew’s father Phillipe forces them to take an unscheduled journey to Sept-Tours.  At Sept-Tours, many significant events occur and many of Matthew’s secrets are discovered.  One of which is Diana’s discovery of Matthew’s Blood Rage.  A rage that few vampires have when deprived from blood.  Though many secrets are revealed at Sept-Tours, many more still linger.

After spending some time at Sept-Tours Diana and Matthew are forced to flee yet again.  They go to London where Queen Elizabeth is awaiting them.  Queen Elizabeth is in quite a mood since one of her top spies has been doing things that she has not approved of.  It is in London that Diana finally finds witches willing to help her.  She finally discovers what she is and the witches have agreed to help her learn how to be a witch and use the craft.  Again, this peace is short-lived and soon Queen Elizabeth is forcing Matthew to go to Prague to see the Holy Roman Emperor and retrieve something that is hers.  It is in Prague that Diana and Matthew finally find Ashmole 782.  Diana becomes a focal point of the Holy Roman Emperor’s attentions and learns that a protective, jealous vampire is not one you want around a powerful and significant figure.  Yet again, Matthew and Diana must flee and find themselves back in London.  It is this final journey to London that Diana comes across someone very significant in her own history.  Diana and Matthew finally have some answers, more questions and have impacted history more than they should.  They finally take a step back to the present landing them back in the Bishop House.  Diana and Matthew work their way back to Sept-Tours where their family awaits their return.

This was an absolutely phenomenal book.  I will have to read it again soon just to pick up details I know I missed.  Deborah Harkness’s ability to bring you right back to the 16th century is awe-inspiring.  The characters and significant historical figures are fantastic.  I am a sucker for a love story and Matthew and Diana’s is awesome.  They have ups and downs and many losses that they bear together.  I loved the peripheral characters of Gallowglass, Pierre, Annie and Jack to name a few.  I loved to hate Kit Marlowe.  I really wished ill will on him.  The scenes in London, France, Prague and Oxford allow for backdrop of a familiar yet different world.  This book takes you with Matthew and Diana as they navigate the court intrigues, witch hunts and nefarious acts of would be friends.

I totally and completely recommend this book.  But, you will want to read A Discovery of Witches first.  If you are interested in that book I have reviewed that one also. You can check it out here:  http://wp.me/p2is8i-3N .  If you want more information regarding either Shadow of Night or A Discovery of Witches you can also go to Barnes and Noble, Amazon or any other book retailer.

Lounging by the Kiddie Pool (My Top 10 Summer Re-Reads)

One of the main points of summer is relaxation, vacation and letting the winter blues float away on waves of summer sun and fun.  For me, summer forces a choice between reading new books and/or  re-reading some of my favorite books.  I can never choose between the two so I do both.  I read a new book then to almost do a sort of cleansing I re-read a book that I have read many times already.  The upside to doing this is you get the excitement of the new book/author but also get to be re-acquainted with previous enjoyable stories.

Choosing what to re-read is one of the biggest challenges.  Sometimes for me it’s just a matter of what kind of mood I am in.  But, for the most part there are certain books I tend to gravitate to when I need to read something that feels like new each time but I have the comfort of knowing what is going to happen and know the characters like they are old friends. One of the many upsides of the summer re-read is that you don’t have to go in series order.  If your favorite book is not the first one it is not necessary to re-read all of them to get to your favorite.  It’s the summer go crazy and start in the middle.  This was a hard list to come up with because I have a lot of books that I could put in this category.  But, I figured I would pick some lesser known authors to include in the list to introduce to a wider audience.  Plus, they are really good and should get noticed!

10.  Juliet by Anne Fortier-This is a unique twist on Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet.  I enjoy the jumping from the past to present and connections between the past characters and the present ones.  Plus, who doesn’t like a good Romeo and Juliet type of story.

 

 

9.  The Mating by Nicky Charles-This is one of the best free books I have ever come across.  The author publishes her own books so you have to take some of the editing with a grain of salt and just focus on the writing.  She reinvents the idea of werewolves and make it seem very believable.

 

 

8.  Lover Reborn (Black dagger Brotherhood #10) by J.R Ward-This is the 10th book in the Blackdagger Brotherhood Series.  This book focuses on Tohrment and No’One/Autumn.  I feel the need to re-read this one because I read it so fast the first time through I don’t think I got everything I wanted and needed.  Plus, for those BDB fans out there…I need my Qhuinn and Blay fix.

 

 

7.  Darkfever (Fever Series #1) by Karen Marie Moning-We meet MacKayla Lane from Ga in this first book in the Fever Series.  You quickly fall for her as she discover’s who she is and why she is being hunted.  All the while she is searching for the killer of her sister. But for those familiar with the Fever Series all I really have to say about this is…BARRONS!!!

 

 

6.  Marked (Eternal Guardians #1) by Elisabeth Naughton-Marked is the first in Elisabeth Naughton’s Eternal Guardians series. You are introduced to the Guardians, but this book focuses on their leader Theron.  If you like Greek mythology with a twist you will like this series.  The story is fast paced and an excellent beginning to a wonderful series.

 

 

5.  The Naked Viscount by Sally Mackenzie-This is definitely my favorite in Sally Mackenzie’s Naked Series.  You won’t find two better Characters than Jane and Edmund.  She is headstrong and he just doesn’t know what hits him when she does.  It’s a really fun Regency romance.

 

 

4.  A Certain Wolfish Charm by Lydia Dare-I really like all of Lydia Dare’s books.  This is the first in her series with the Westfield brothers.  Once you meet them you will be coming back for more.    Simon is brutish and Lily doesn’t put up with his act.  All the while you throw in some paranormal (werewolves) and its a unique Regency Paranormal Romance.  Not many of those out there!

 

 

3.  Exclusively Yours by Shannon Stacey-If you like Carly Philips’ books you will like Shannon Stacey.  There writing is similar and very cute.  This is a nice fresh read especially between books.  Her characters are funny and very relatable which helps the story move very fast.  I would recommend all of her books, but this one in particular is my favorite.

 

 

2.  Shadow Bound by Erin Kellison-This book has to be my all-time favorite book that I found for free.  It is definitely a different take on Death (Grim Reaper) and the idea that he falls in love and has a child.  This story is about the child and the powers she has.  The characters are well-formed and the story is very well thought out leading us to believe there is a continuing story.  Adam and Talia are unforgettable characters that will leave you wanting more or to just go back and read about them all over again.

 

1.  A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness-Not much more I can say about Matthew and Diana that I haven’t already said in my book review.  There story is epic and since there continuation in Shadow of Night is coming out I have to re-acquaint myself with all the nuances of the story so they are fresh for the next one.

 

 

If any of these books interest you I would suggest going over to Amazon or Barnes and Noble to see the actual overviews of that book.  Also, if you haven’t read the series I wouldn’t always suggest jumping into the middle.  It could be confusing and possibly turn you off of a good series.

For more information about any of these books, series or authors please go to Amazon, Barnes and Noble or your local retail book seller.  You may also ask me if you have any specific questions.  Happy Reading!!

Feet in the Sand and a Good Book in Hand (My Top 10 Summer Reads)

Since it is coming up on vacationing season I figured I would lay out my top 10 books I want to read while on vacation or just throughout the summer.   For me it’s probably more likely hanging out by the baby pool, but either way I have some reading to do.

I have chosen a wide variety from Non-fiction to Young Adult.  When I was coming up with my list I actually felt like it was a bit daunting especially when I have plans to do some re-reading. But, that is another post entirely.  I hope you enjoy my choices.  It wasn’t easy to narrow my long list down to just 10 but I think these are a good variety to keep me entertained while trying to avoid getting splashed.

10.  The Very Picture of You by Isabel Wolff-At thirty-five, Gabriella “Ella” Graham is a successful portrait artist in London. She captures the essential truth in each of her subjects’ faces—a tilt of the chin, a glint in the eye—and immortalizes it on canvas. But closer to home, Ella finds the truth more elusive. Her father abandoned the family when she was five, and her mother has remained silent on the subject ever since. Ella’s sister, Chloe, is engaged to Nate, an American working in London, but Ella suspects that he may not be so committed. Then, at Chloe’s behest, Ella agrees to paint Nate’s portrait. (see more at www.bn.com)

9.  The Murder of the Century by Paul Collins-On Long Island, a farmer finds a duck pond turned red with blood. On the Lower East Side, two boys playing at a pier discover a floating human torso wrapped tightly in oilcloth. Blueberry pickers near Harlem stumble upon neatly severed limbs in an overgrown ditch. Clues to a horrifying crime are turning up all over New York, but the police are baffled: There are no witnesses, no motives, no suspects. (see more at www.bn.com)

8.  Once a Witch by Carolyn MacCullough-Tamsin Greene comes from a long line of witches, and she was supposed to be one of the most Talented among them. But Tamsin’s magic never showed up. Now seventeen, Tamsin attends boarding school in Manhattan, far from her family. But when a handsome young professor mistakes her for her very Talented sister, Tamsin agrees to find a lost family heirloom for him. The search—and the stranger—will prove to be more sinister than they first appeared, ultimately sending Tamsin on a treasure hunt through time that will unlock the secret of her true identity, unearth the sins of her family, and unleash a power so vengeful that it could destroy them all. This is a spellbinding display of storytelling that will exhilarate, enthrall, and thoroughly enchant.

7. The Irish Princess by Karen Harper-Born into a first family of Ireland, with royal ties on both sides, Elizabeth Fitzgerald-known as Gera-finds her world overturned when Henry VIII imprisons her father, the Earl of Kildare, and brutally destroys her family. Torn from the home she loves, her remaining family scattered, Gera dares not deny the refuge offered her in England’s glittering royal court. There she must navigate ever-shifting alliances even as she nurtures her secret desire for revenge. From County Kildare’s lush green fields to London’s rough-and-tumble streets and the royal court’s luxurious pageantry, The Irish Princess follows the journey of a daring woman whose will cannot be tamed, and who won’t be satisfied until she restores her family to its rightful place in Ireland.

6. Bedding Lord Ned by Sally MacKenzie-Determined to find a husband, Miss Eleanor “Nell” Bowman attends a ball put on by the Duchess of Greycliffe, fondly referred to as the Duchess of Love. But she roundly dismisses the suitors the matchmaking hostess has invited on her behalf. For it’s the duchess’s dashing son Ned, Lord Edward, who long ago captured Nell’s heart—and roused her desire. All it takes is a pair of conveniently misplaced silky red bloomers to set the handsome widower’s gaze on this unusual girl who is clearly more than meets the eye…

5.  Once Burned by Jeaniene Frost (June 26, 2012)-After a tragic accident scarred her body and destroyed her dreams, Leila never imagined that the worst was still to come: a terrifying ability to channel electricity and to see a person’s darkest secrets through a single touch. Leila is doomed to a life of solitude…until creatures of the night kidnap her, forcing her to reach out with a telepathic distress call to the world’s most infamous vampire..(see more at www.bn.com)

4.  Out of Oz by Gregory Maguire-Once peaceful and prosperous, the spectacular Land of Oz is knotted with social unrest: The Emerald City is mounting an invasion of Munchkinland, Glinda is under house arrest, and the Cowardly Lion is on the run from the law. And look who’s knocking at the door. It’s none other than Dorothy. Yes. That Dorothy. (see more at www.bn.com)

3.  The Watchers by John Steele-Beneath Lausanne Cathedral, in Switzerland, there is a secret buried before time began, something unknown to angels and men, until now…

Marc Rochat watches over the city at night from the belfry of the cathedral. He lives ina world of shadows and “beforetimes” and imaginary beings.
Katherine Taylor, call girl and daydreamer, is about to discover that her real-life fairy tale is too good to be true.
Jay Harper, private detective, wakes up in a crummy hotel room with no memory. When the telephone rings and he’s offered a job, he knows he has no choice but to accept.

Three lives, one purpose: save what’s left of paradise before all hell breaks loose.

2.  The Laughing Corpse by Laurell K. Hamilton-The novels of New York Times bestselling author Laurell K. Hamilton take readers into the dangerous life of Anita Blake, animator and vampire hunter—a woman as good at raising the dead as she is at slaying the undead. Now, a creature from beyond the grave is tearing a swath of murder through St. Louis. And Anita will learn that there are some secrets better left buried—and some people better off dead…(see more at www.bn.com)

1.  Shadow of Night by Deborah Harkness (July 10, 2012)-Deborah Harkness exploded onto the literary scene with her debut novel, A Discovery of Witches, Book One of the magical All Souls Trilogy and an international publishing phenomenon. The novel introduced Diana Bishop, Oxford scholar and reluctant witch, and the handsome geneticist and vampire Matthew Clairmont; together they found themselves at the center of a supernatural battle over an enchanted manuscript known as Ashmole 782.

Now, picking up from A Discovery of Witches’ cliffhanger ending, Shadow of Night plunges Diana and Matthew into Elizabethan London, a world of spies, subterfuge, and a coterie of Matthew’s old friends, the mysterious School of Night that includes Christopher Marlowe and Walter Raleigh. Here, Diana must locate a witch to tutor her in magic, Matthew is forced to confront a past he thought he had put to rest, and the mystery of Ashmole 782 deepens. 

***All overviews came from www.bn.com.

For additional information on the above books you can go to Barnes and Noble, Amazon or any other Book retailer.  For more books on my To Be Read list you can go to my Goodreads list.

Author Profile: Deborah Harkness

As a follow-up to my book review about A Discovery of Witches, I wanted to focus on Deborah Harkness.  I wanted to find out how a History professor dives into a Historical/Paranormal Romance book and becomes very successful on her first try.

Deborah Harkness grew up outside Philadelphia, Pa.  She has lived in New England, California, Illinois and England.  In the last 28 years she has become an accomplished scholar.  She has received degrees from Mount Holyoke College, Northwestern University, and the University of California at Davis.  During her years of scholarly work she worked in many different and prestigious libraries.  Libraries from the Bodleian at Oxford University to the Newberry Library.  Having acquainted herself so intimately with the inner workings of these prestigious libraries she developed a love and affinity for all libraries.  She is currently teaching at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles.

According to Ms. Harkness, her best-selling novel A Discovery of Witches came about when she wondered “if there really are vampires, what do they do for a living?”  This simple statement catapulted her into writing her first book in the All Saints trilogy.  Her writing style is very visually descriptive. Yet, Ms. Harkness’s writing  flows in a way that makes every word important to the plot.   She can bring you into her world so very easily.  Her descriptions of the surroundings brings you into the story in a way that few authors can.    Once drawn in you don’t want to leave.  You fee the need to find out what is going to happen next.  As, a history teacher myself I enjoyed all of the historical tidbits in her book.  The historical parts do not weigh the story down, but enhance it.  Not only are they accurate but they added an element of realism that only a story grounded in truth can.  I must say that I envy her students.  If her lectures are half as good as her book I really wish she had been one of my professors in College.  I would have loved to have gotten into historical discussions with her and be able to pick her brain.

Ms. Harkness’s next book Shadow of Night, continues the story of Matthew and Diana.   Here is a small excerpt from Shadow of Night due to hit bookstores July 10th:

“My eyes adjusted to the dim light as I surveyed the room. A substantial bed, small table, narrow benches, and a single chair came into focus. Through the carved uprights supporting the bed’s canopy I spied a doorframe that connected this chamber to another room. Light spilled from it onto the coverlet and floor in a misshapen golden rectangle. The walls were covered with the linen-fold panelling that I remembered from the few times I’d visited Matthew’s home in present-day Woodstock. Elaborately herringboned bricks lined the chimney, their outlines sharpened by the fire’s flames. They looked right, too. Such ornate brickwork would appeal to the stonemason Matthew had once been. Tipping my head back, I saw the ceiling – thickly plastered, coffered into squares, with a splashy red-and-white Tudor rose picked out in gilt in each recess.

‘The roses were obligatory when the house was built,’ Matthew commented drily. ‘I can’t stand them. We’ll paint them all white at the first opportunity.’

My gaze returned to my husband and I smiled with sudden excitement. ‘I really did it. I didn’t mess it up, or take us somewhere else like Monticello, or-‘

‘No,’ he said with an answering smile, ‘you did beautifully. Welcome to Elizabethan England…'”

 After reading A Discovery of Witches and now the small excerpt from Shadow of Night I know Ms. Harkness will have yet another hit on her hands.  I recommend you running out and getting A Discovery of Witches now before Shadow of Night comes out.  That way you can be ready for Shadow of Night.  I for one already have it pre-ordered and plan on attending a signing for Shadow of Night in July.  I can’t wait and if you read Ms. Harkness’s books then you too will end up in the same boat as myself.  Waiting with twitchy fingers, anxious to get your hands on the next installment of the All Saints Trilogy. 
 
For more about Ms. Harkness you can go to her website: deborahharkness.com.   For more information about A Discovery of Witches or Shadow of Night you can go to Barnes and Noble, Amazon or any other book retailer. 

Review: A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness

Today’s review is about a book that could easily become a modern classic, A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness.  This has easily become one of my favorite books and I have re-read it at least 3 times.  I plan to re-read it yet again right before the next installment in the series comes out in July.

A Discovery of Witches starts with just a small unintentional slip that will propel the story.  Diana Bishop is a witch, but most importantly in her mind she is a scholar.  She has always resisted using her powers and instead has put herself full force into her scholarly work of Scientific History.  The story begins in Oxford’s library where Diana unintentionally calls an elusive book, Ashmole 782.  This one act sends the whole story into motion. By summoning this book, even unknowingly, Diana brings down upon her trouble from witches, vampires and daemons.  Diana soon meets a vampire, Matthew Clairmont,  and they begin a journey of discovery for both her and him.

Matthew is a very notable scientist himself and when he hears about the re-appearance of Ashmole 782 he realizes he must find who has summoned it.  He becomes intrigued by Diana.  As Matthew and Diana become closer Diana’s control on her powers becomes less controlled and more erratic.  Matthew and Diana discover that their connection is less and less about the book and more about their destiny.  Their story intertwines in ways that neither of them could have thought possible.  Their enemies begin to come out of nowhere and everywhere.  Matthew and Diana realize that they must work together and with their friends and family to survive the trials that the discovery of Ashmole 782 has caused.

Overall, this is a phenomenal book.  It incorporates historical facts with paranormal.  Deborah Harkness really did her research when it came to the history and the science.  She not only brings in a realism with the characters of Matthew and Diana but she is also accurate in what she is talking about.  The love story of Matthew and Diana’s is one of my favorite parts.  I enjoy the star-crossed lovers aspect of their love story.  Diana being a witch and Matthew a vampire is illegal in their society.  Ms. Harkness weaves a story that will be enduring and makes you want to re-read it again and again just to find out what you missed from before.  I can’t wait for the next installment, Shadow of Night coming out in July.  If it is written half as well as A Discovery of Witches then Ms. Harkness will have another hit on her hands.

For more information or to purchase A Discovery of Witches you can go to Barnes and Noble, Amazon or any other book retailer.

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