Tuesday, September 20, 2011

EROMENOS by Melanie McDonald: Review: BLOG TOUR

SERIOUSLY GOOD BOOKS--Historical Fiction


Blurb:



What is the nature of love? Of control? These big questions without easy answers are the heart of the book, as we watch Antinous come to his own conclusions about both.
No one knows what happened to the real Antinous. All that is known is that he drowned in the Nile and then Hadrian deified him. McDonald has given us the imaginary voice of a young man whose image has been immortalized in busts and sculptures, a young man who may very well have been as haunted as his death is mysterious.


My Review:



It was extremely refreshing to read this novel. Not only because it was about a period in history that I am not very familiar with, but also because it shows a side a history that people don’t often talk about. Historical Fiction will always be my favorite, but sometimes it does get a little repetitive, especially when you’re reading novels about the same historical figure, but by different authors. One of the main reasons Eromenos is so refreshing is because it takes the genre I love, but throws a twist into it, a very good twist!


During Greek and Roman times it was acceptable for powerful men, such as Hadrian to sleep with and love young men. I love that this book gives the reader a whole new perspective on love and relationships during this time. I think there will be some readers who are too narrow minded to enjoy Eromenos, but I am definitely not one of them. It was a short, easy read but it was also full of information about the most powerful man of his time, Hadrian, who was the ruler when Hadrian’s Wall (obviously named for him) was built in England. This was during the time when Roman’s still ruled the majority of land, including most of present day England. It is about intense love and loss, and it was a fascinating read that opened my eyes to a whole new genre of literature.

 I commend the author for this book, which was exceptionally well-written, informative, and tasteful.  Not to mention one of the most original love stories that I’ve had the pleasure to read.  Open-minded readers who are interested in time period should definitely purchase this book. It’s rare to find a historical fiction novel that is open to expanding boundiaries, and changing what you thought you knew about the historical fiction genre. My only complaint is that it was so short. I wanted to know more about the lives of Hadrian and his lover, and I think it easily could have been longer and more detailed. Other than that I was pleased, and in my opinion the book deserves a four out of five stars.


Tuesday, September 6, 2011

THE SECOND DUCHESS by Elizabeth Loupas: Review

Blurb:


In a city-state known for magnificence, where love affairs and conspiracies play out amidst brilliant painters, poets and musicians, the powerful and ambitious Alfonso d'Este, duke of Ferrara, takes a new bride. Half of Europe is certain he murdered his first wife, Lucrezia, the luminous child of the Medici. But no one dares accuse him, and no one has proof-least of all his second duchess, the far less beautiful but delightfully clever Barbara of Austria.

At first determined to ignore the rumors about her new husband, Barbara embraces the pleasures of the Ferrarese court. Yet wherever she turns she hears whispers of the first duchess's wayward life and mysterious death. Barbara asks questions-a dangerous mistake for a duchess of Ferrara. Suddenly, to save her own life, Barbara has no choice but to risk the duke's terrifying displeasure and discover the truth of Lucrezia's death-or she will share her fate.





My Review



The Second Duchess is one of the best historical fiction novels that I’ve read in awhile! I love pretty much any type of historical fiction, but the author, Elizabeth Loupas, added a twist to this historical fiction novel by adding the element of mystery.

Apparently the Duke of Ferrara has long been suspected of killing his first bride, the flighty Lucrezia de Medici. When his second wife, Barbara of Austria, moves to Ferrara it is immediately put into her head that the first duchess was murdered.  Those who are putting these ideas in her head are those who are against the Duke of Ferrara and Barbara of Austria's marriage. Barbara is a strong willed and intelligent woman who decides to take it upon herself to find out the truth of the suspicious death of Lucrezia. At first when the Duke of Ferrara finds out, Barbara is punished, but as he grows to respect her he gives her more freedom to ask questions and find answers. The part that I really liked is that the author has Lucrezia’s “immobila” (basically her ghost) following the action and the investigation the whole time, and giving hints here and there (to the reader) of what really happened. I was unable to guess who the murderer was until the very end of the novel! I would be set on believing that one person had been the murderer, and then another clue would come about that showed that they could not have been the person who murdered Lucrezia. I also liked that Loupas didn’t make Lucrezia’s “ghost” out to be some creepy, haunting presence. Only the reader knows that she is there, and all she does is comment on certain things that happen in the investigation and in the lives of her former husband and his new duchess.

This was the first book I have read in awhile just for me, not for a review. It was nice to sit back and read and not worry about taking notes down. Although, I find that I forget quite a few parts of books when I don’t write things down!  I would definitely recommend this book to historical fiction lovers. I knew nothing of Lucrezia de Medici or Barbara of Austria prior to reading this novel. I had heard of the Duke of Ferrara before, but not of this Duke of Ferrara, so it was very interesting to read about the history of a different group of people, with the author's amazing creative license of course!

It is definitely a book worth 5 out of 5 stars!

Friday, September 2, 2011

A Brief History of the Isle of Mull in Scotland--Interesting Article!


A brief history of the Isle of Mull (Scotland)

The general consensus agrees that the Isle of Mull has been inhabited since after the last Ice Age ended, which would be around the year 6000 BC. Inhabitants of the Bronze Age built abundant brochs, menhirs and also a stone circle, along with pottery, knives, burial cairns and other tantalizing evidence of the period.

During the time between around 600 BC and 400 BC, the inhabitants of the Iron Age were involved in the construction of defensive forts and crannogs. 563 AD saw an important and pivotal point in the Christian period, when it is thought that Christianity was first introduced to this particular area of Great Britain when St. Columba arrived from Ireland and set up a monastery close to the south western point of Mull.
Mull was to become a part of the Lordship of the Isles during the 14th century, subsequently being taken over by the MacLean clan in 1493 following the collapse of the Lordship.

There remains a legend which states that there are the remains of a Spanish vessel somewhere in the mud of Tobermory bay – laden to the gills with gold and treasure. Needless to say, the true identity of the ship and its cargo remains a mystery and the matter of dispute, but the story is nonetheless an incredibly famous local legend. 

Some believe that the ship in question is none other than the Florencia, which belonged to the defeated Spanish Armada and was known to have fled the British fleet in or around 1588, anchoring in the area to stock up on provisions. There was a dispute regarding payment and the ship was to catch fire, eventually spreading to the gunpowder reserves and causing an explosion which would sink the ship. Legend has it that the cargo hold also hid no less than £300,000 in solid gold and valuable treasures.

Others believe that the ship in question was named the San Juan de Baptista and according to records was used for carrying troops and such, rather than treasure and gold. This particular account speaks of the chief of the island at the time cutting a deal with the commander of the Spanish ship to add provisions and supplies, along with refitting the ship in exchange for their help in an ongoing feud with enemies and conspirators on the nearby islands. The tale tells that the ship was sunk during the conflict that ensued.

Whichever of the tales happens to be true, if any at all, extensive searches were carried out for the wreck and whatever it may or may not have been carrying from the 17th century right through to the end of the 20th and sadly, nothing of value or significant interest has so far been found.

At the time of the so-called Highland Clearances during both the 18th and 19th centuries, the 10,000 inhabitants of Mull were reduced to under 3,000.

During the Second World War, the entire island was to become a restricted area, with Tobermory bay becoming a naval base. The whole of the restricted area and the base within was put under the control of one Sir Gilbert Stephenson, who was known to rule from his leather furniture with such an iron fist and terrifying temper that he was donned with the nickname ‘The Terror of Tebormory’. A total of 911 ships and vessels passed through between the years of 1940 and 1945, with the base being used to train in anti submarine combat.

The Isle of Mull continues to display its rich history and boasts a number of iconic and historic buildings for the admiration of visitors, including Torosay Castle and Duart Castle which remain open to the public from the early spring until the end of the summer. There is also the remains of a small distressed castle by the name of Moy Castle which can be found on the shoreline of Lochbuie.

Visitors can also find the remains of a number of interesting chapels, including those located at Kilvickeon and Pennygown. There are also plenty of important archaeological sites, ranging from standing stones to chambered cairns. One of the most notable is that of the prehistoric stone circle located at Lochbuie and another three stone groups found close to Dervaig.



Wednesday, August 24, 2011

MY FIERCE HIGHLANDER by Vonda Sinclair: Review

Blurb:

Gwyneth Carswell, an English lady banished by her father to the harsh Scottish Highlands, wants nothing more than to take her young son away from the violence of two fighting clans--her own distant kin, the MacIrwins, and their enemies, the MacGraths. She risks everything to rescue the fierce MacGrath warrior from the battlefield where he’s left for dead by her clan. She only knows she is inexplicably drawn to him and he wants peace as she does. When her clan learns of her betrayal, they seek vengeance. Dare she trust the enemy more than her own family?

Laird Alasdair MacGrath is driven to end two-hundred years of feuding with the MacIrwins. But by taking in and protecting Lady Gwyneth and her son, he provokes more attacks from his mortal enemy. As the danger and conflict surrounding them escalate, Alasdair and Gwyneth discover an explosive passion neither of them expected. With the arrival of a powerful man from her past, a horrible decision confronts her--give up her son or the man she loves.



My Review:


I love reading books that are set in Scotland or Ireland, so My Fierce Highlander by Vonda Sinclair immediately appealed to me, obviously because of its title! When an author takes the beautiful terrain of Scotland, adds a love story, and historical elements I’m happy. My Fierce Highlander started off a little slow for me, and for the first couple of chapters I struggled a little bit to get into the book. However, I liked her descriptions of the terrain of Scotland’s Highlands, and the characters were believable enough for me to become involved in their story, and once I was involved in the plot the book was hard to put down.

To me Gwyneth was definitely a more believable character to me than the main male character, Alasdair. She was a woman in the 1600’s who was sensual, but yet sought to hide the sensual side of herself, and felt guilty due to it, because it was not acceptable for her to express herself sexually. It’s changed quite a bit since then obviously, but as recently as 60 or so years ago it was still not really considered acceptable for woman. The only reason Alasdair is not as believable for me, is because he seems almost too perfect. His wife had died two years previously and he had yet to remarry or to even enjoy sex. Gwyneth helps to bring him “back to life” in a way. He is the Chieftain of his clan, and I guess I just found it a little unbelievable that he had not remarried in order to have heirs to follow him. In the 1600’s it seems like that was one of the main goals of men who were noble or wealthy, and it did not matter whether love came into the equation. Alasdair does gain the reader’s sympathy though, because he comes across as such a romantic hero, willing to risk his life for Gwyneth and her son. Gwyneth definitely comes across as the one with faults, and Alasdair occasionally comes across as clingy or needy when expressing his desire to wed Gwyneth. Overall I enjoyed reading the book, and it was a quick, fun read. I definitely recommend it to those that are fans of Historical Romance 
Novels, because I doubt you will be disappointed.

I feel good about giving this novel 4 out of 5 stars.


Sunday, August 21, 2011

RELUCTANT QUEEN by Geraldine Evans: Review


Blurb:

Mary, the beautiful, younger sister of English king, Henry VIII, reluctantly agrees to marry the aged and sickly Louis XII of France for reasons of state. But before agreeing, she extracts Henry’s promise that she may please herself for her second marriage. Mary is deeply in love with the low-born Charles Brandon, her brother’s boon companion, and is determined to wed Brandon should King Louis die.

Unhappy at the French court, blonde Mary makes friends with the charming, but debauched, Francis, her aged husband’s heir and son-in-law. But Mary is dismayed when her friendly overtures are taken as encouragement for something more than friendship. Too late, Mary finds that, even at twenty, Francis is a practised seducer. He pursues her relentlessly. And with the death of her husband and Francis’s elevation to the French throne and absolute power, her situation becomes desperate. Unprotected, Mary is a captive prey to Francis’s lust for her.

Will she ever be free to go to her lost love? Because since Louis’s death, Mary has become increasingly anxious about the rumours she hears concerning her brother’s plans for her future. Did Henry intend to push her into another loveless marriage to suit himself and the State?

King Henry sends Charles Brandon to the French court on a diplomatic mission, Desperate, Mary persuades him to go through a secret marriage with her. Then they confess to Wolsey and ask him to intercede with King Henry.

Fearfully, they await King Henry’s reaction, aware that no one, not even his much-loved younger sister, defies him with impunity. 


My Review:

I’m a sucker for anything to do with the Tudors, and Reluctant Queen by Geraldine Evans was no exception. There are hundreds of novels on Anne Boleyn, Elizabeth Tudor, Henry Tudor, Henry’s daughter Mary Tudor, etc., but one of the Tudors who I have read very little about is Henry’s little sister Mary Tudor. Of course she is almost always mentioned in books that I’ve read on that time period, and we know that she defied her brother, the King of England, to marry his best friend, but beyond that I knew very little about her. Her life definitely seems to have been too short, and it doesn’t seem to have been full of a great amount of happiness, but like her older sister and brother, when she wanted something she went after it even when it went against the wishes of others.

Geraldine Evans did a wonderful job of bringing Mary to life for me. I had no idea that she even had more than one child with Charles Brandon. Frances ended up becoming another semi-infamous Tudor, so she is known in history, but not much is heard of her other two children. I love how the author allows the reader to see what was possibly going on inside Mary’s head during her life. The reader is able to see the regrets that she possibly had over her marriage to Charles, as well as her mental and physical pain during the latter years of her life. It is apparent in the books that I read on Anne Boleyn, and also in this novel, that Mary did not like her and didn’t hide it very well. It was interesting to view the demise of Henry and Catherine’s marriage through his sister’s eyes in this novel.

The only complaint I have would be on how Anne Boleyn is portrayed in this novel. I cannot tell a lie, I am an Anne Boleyn supporter. Another issue I had is a factual inaccuracy. In the novel when Mary is Queen of France and Anne is one of her little lady’s in waiting there is a line which says, “Mary felt that she and Anne shared a special bond—had they not both lost their mothers around the same age? And although Anne still had a father, he was over-ambitious for his children […]” Anne’s mother did not die until around a year after Anne had been executed by Henry VIII.

Other than those two issues I thoroughly enjoyed this novel, and I learned a great deal about Mary Tudor, Dowager Queen of France and Duchess of Suffolk. During a time when women did as they were told, Mary went against the grain and chose her own destiny, which always makes for an interesting Tudor Era read!
This novel gets 4 out of 5 stars from me!


THE DEVIL'S DAUGHTER by Suzie Grant: Review

Blurb:

A bounty hunter facing his past encounters a criminal on the run from her own.

Blaze Marie Austin is no longer the little girl forced to be an outlaw. Finding her chance at redemption, Blaze repays the man who’d saved her life. Only her savior’s estranged son accuses her of betrayal and ignites a passion she can’t deny.

Gade Ryder returned to Eden, Texas, after a twelve year absence to investigate a gang of rustlers on the family ranch. Has he accepted the job out of misplaced family loyalty or had the compelling mystery of the devil’s daughter convinced him to stay in the one place he didn’t want to be? Confronted by the memory of his mother’s suicide and the father he blames for her death, Gade seeks comfort from the one woman he couldn’t trust.

When the little criminal is accused of murder, Gade realizes his growing attraction for her could not only cost him his freedom, it may well cost him his life. 


My Review:

I loved this book! It was a great Historical Fiction Western Romance. The vivid scenes that Suzie Grant brings to mind with her beautiful descriptions of Texas, when it was still mostly ranch land, are amazing. I loved Blaze’s character as well. She was hard on the outside, but as a reader you were able to ascertain that beneath her hard exterior she is a lost soul. I was surprised when I realized she was only 19, because she seems so much older. When you continue to read you discover the reason why she seems so much older than she really is. Her life has been a series of hurt and heartaches. Anyone she has ever loved or trusted has betrayed her, including family. She was on her own at such a young age, and had committed shocking crimes when she was barely a pre-teen, because of the people that she was forced to travel with.

The reader begins to see Blaze’s vulnerability when she interacts with Gade. He’s the only man that a woman, who has spent her entire life being forced to be so strong, could ever fall for. Blaze needs a strong man who can love her and also keep her grounded, and Gade is the man. He’s definitely the perfect man for a Western Romance novel. He’s strong and fierce, but he also has baggage that he carries with him that makes him human.
I liked that this book wasn’t all about the sex and romance, yeah there were some good sex scenes, but there was a ton of action as well. The reader is able to really get to know the two main characters, and also some of the more minor characters. It’s easy to care for Gade and his family, and when misfortune befalls them, it’s easy to grieve for them. I think the author, Suzie Grant, did an excellent job at bringing the characters and the scenery in this novel alive, and I look forward to reading more novels by her in the future.

This book definitely deserves a 4 out of 5 stars.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

THE GIFTED ONES by Lisa Vaughn: Review

Blurb:

Lisa was conservatively raised in a Catholic family in no-where middle America, where excitement is scarce and dreams are for sleeping. Little did she know, at age thirteen, she would suddenly find herself on a totally different path. Through an unlikely chance meeting of a fellow classmate, she's surprisingly mesmerized, almost consumed, to befriend a girl who is obviously from the other side of the tracks...the cool side. Lisa does whatever she has to just to be accepted into this small club of coolness. Little did she realize, she was signing up for a lot more than social status. The two best friends find themselves innocently taking their relationship to a foreign level neither had experienced or saw coming. A rollercoaster ride littered with choices and challenges Lisa never fathomed facing, especially in no-where middle America. She will find out what she is made of as she faces the consequences and struggles that come along with going against the grain. Throughout their six year relationship, you will witness a touching story of human nature at it's best...and at it's worst. Showing just how far the human spirit can be challenged and pushed to a point where your “fight or flight” instincts naturally kick in. Struggling just to survive in a world where you are not like everyone else, but at the same time you really are.


My Review:

This book was such a refreshing read for me. I rarely read memoirs or works of non-fiction, so the poignant honesty of this novel was such a nice break from the norm. Lisa Vaughn definitely has lived a life worth writing about, and her insight into the experiences she had are so revealing. I had never looked at love the way it happened with her. The idea that you could be a straight woman, and spend years loving another woman and being with her, was never something that I would have thought possible. I guess I looked at things as black and white; either you’re gay, bi, or straight. I had never thought of the grey areas, or of possibly falling in love with the person inside, rather than limiting yourself by only allowing yourself to fall in love with the person’s sex that you prefer. The love that this story deals with goes beyond the normal “love story” that we see all the time.

I also enjoyed reading about the struggles between Lisa and her mother. I think many young women go through a struggle of wills with their mothers, especially when they are alike in so many ways. I know that I went through a phase where I thought my mother was purposefully out to get me, and to ruin my life. Now, looking back at it, I realize how similar we were, and how often our arguments turned into a battle of wills between us…almost a battle for “power” in some ways.

I would definitely recommend this memoir. It makes you think of and view love in a new way. I think that it would appeal more to female readers, but some men would certainly enjoy it as well.
This novel was definitely a 5 star read for me.


BUY THIS NOVEL HERE!

Monday, August 15, 2011

WINNER of 300 Follower GIVEAWAY!

I know I am late announcing this, and for that I apologize, but this past week was nuts! It was the first week that students were back, and I barely  had any time to myself because of all the planning for class and meetings! Hopefully the second week will be calmer....but I doubt it! I have three books that I will be reviewing, and I will try to get the reviews written up this week! Once everything calms down with school I'll be able to spend more time on here keeping up with my reviews!!





Jessie!

Congrats on winning a copy of Joy Stroube's novel as well as a paperback copy of DEAD IRON!

Sunday, July 31, 2011

CAGED IN DARKNESS by Joy Stroube: GIVEAWAY!!





Joy Stroube, author of Caged in Darkness, has offered to give away an ebook copy (format of your choice) to one of my lucky readers! This comes right in time to celebrate my blog now having over 300 followers!! As and added bonus, I will also throw in a paperback copy of DEAD IRON by Devon Monk. So, one lucky follower entering my giveaway will receive an ebook copy of Caged in Darkness as well as a paperback copy of Dead Iron! Pretty good deal in my opinion! :)


Make sure to check out my post about the author of CAGED IN DARKNESS, Joy Stroube. She was kind enough not only to do an interview for my blog, but also to write a guest post! You can also check out some quotes from her book as well as the synopsis.


CLICK HERE TO CHECK OUT JOY STROUBE'S GUEST POST/INTERVIEW!

To enter the giveaway all you need to do is: 
**BE A FOLLOWER OF MY BLOG & LEAVE A COMMENT WITH YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS!** 

BONUS ENTRIES: 
1. FOLLOW ME ON TWITTER  
2. TWEET ABOUT THIS GIVEAWAY 
3. BECOME MY FRIEND ON GOODREADS 
4. BECOME MY FRIEND ON SHELFARI

You will get one extra entry for each bonus entry!


This giveaway will end AUGUST SEVENTH!




Also, a HUGE thank you to Jennie Webb for creating my new title background! It's wonderful & I LOVE it! :)

Friday, July 29, 2011

THE TUDOR THRONE by Brandy Purdy: Review

Blurb:


In the wake of King Henry VIII's death, England's throne is left in a precarious state - as is the peculiar relationship between his two daughters. Mary, the elder, once treasured, had been declared a bastard in favour of her flame-haired half-sister, Elizabeth, born of the doomed Anne Boleyn. Yet the bond between the sisters was palpable from the start. Now reinstated, Mary eventually assumes her place as queen. But as Mary's religious zeal evolves into a reign of terror, young Elizabeth gains the people's favour. Gripped by a tormenting paranoia, Mary is soon convinced that her beloved Elizabeth is in fact her worst enemy. And the virginal Elizabeth, whose true love is her country, must defy her tyrannical sister to make way for a new era...


My Review:


[I received this novel from the author as a review copy.]


Over the past several years I have read many books dealing with the Tudors. Most of them have dealt with Anne Boleyn or Elizabeth Tudor, and a few have been about Henry VIII’s other five wives, his sisters, and his daughter Mary. THE TUDOR THRONE, however, is the first Tudor novel that I have read that gives both Mary and Elizabeth Tudor’s points of view together following their father’s death. All of the books that I have read about Elizabeth have mentioned Mary or even had Mary play a large part in the book, or included Elizabeth in a book about Mary, but never have I read a book that placed equal importance on both Mary and Elizabeth's points of view. The novel was written as a first person account of both of their lives, so the chapters alternate between Mary’s point of view and Elizabeth’s. Although I have read their stories a hundred times, from a hundred different books, it was still a terrific novel that held my interest until the end. 


Switching back and forth between the sister’s perspectives enables the reader to really get to know both Mary and Elizabeth. Their fears and insecurities come to light in a way that only a first person narrative can provide. Both women were deeply affected by their father’s treatment of their mothers, and of women in general. Any future relationships with the opposite sex are indirectly tainted by their father’s treatment of women. Both Mary and Elizabeth are frightened of and desperate for love. Mary is desperate to find the love she lost from her father for so many years when she was young. She easily succumbs to Philip of Spain’s half-hearted courtship of her, and although she is the Queen of England, she allows him to rule her, as well as her country. After taking care of herself, guarding her emotions, and having no one to lean on for so long she is more than willing to put her life and love into Philip's hands, though he is no way worth it. 


Elizabeth turns out much differently when it comes to love and trust. Rather than throw everything away for love and companionship as her sister did, she puts up a wall around her that is impossible to penetrate. She refuses to end up like her mother, or any of the other women that her father loved passionately, only to discard when bored, angry, or seeking an heir. Elizabeth, unlike Mary, refuses to rely on anyone, especially a man. She wants to be her own woman, and to make decisions for herself and for her country. Years of sadness and loneliness had weakened Mary’s resolve, while it had strengthened Elizabeth’s. While both women were talented and extremely intelligent, it will forever be Elizabeth who stands out in people’s minds, because of the idea of womanly strength and power that she stood for.


I would recommend this book to any reader who enjoys Tudor history. While Ms. Purdy did take creative license when it came to several parts of the book, it was still a well researched Tudor novel. I was impressed by what a quick and easy read it was. There was never a dull moment, and I was able to transport myself to Mary and Elizabeth’s Tudor England every time I opened the book. The fact that it was written in first person, from both women’s perspectives, (both before and after becoming Queen of England) added to the enjoyment and excitement of this fascinating novel of historical fiction.


I without a doubt give this book five out of five stars!


This novel is also published in the UK, but it is under the title, MARY & ELIZABETH by EMILY PURDY. It was published in the US on July 28th.


PURCHASE THE TUDOR THRONE HERE!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

CAGED IN DARKNESS by Joy Stroube: Guest Post & Interview!

Caged in Darkness
By J.D. Stroube

The ebook version will be available for purchase on August 1, 2011 at Amazon, B&N, Smashwords, and many other online websites. Shortly after the ebook release, a print version should be available through Amazon, as well.

Synopsis:

A witch raised in a cage of darkness...

Savannah Cross was born into a life of isolation and abuse. As a child, she witnessed her parents perform acts of malevolent evil, and now feels permanently tainted by their dark deeds.

When a coven discovers a tear stricken child, wounded on their elders lawn, they offer her a sanctuary she has never known. Savannah spends the next several years shattered, continuously looking over her shoulder, waiting for the darkness to claim her.

On her 16th birthday, Savannah’s life takes a drastic turn.She is consumed by overwhelming power that forever alters her emotionally and physically.

She must choose between two loves; the one who taught her to smile or the darkly seductive stranger who tempts her towards another path. Savannah must decide between the coven that was her haven and another one vying for her initiation. Just as Savannah begins to grasp what fate has in store for her, an evil looms over her loved ones; coming to claim an unbreakable debt.

How will she choose and survive the greatest evil she has ever witnessed... long enough to have a choice to make

The Idea Behind “Caged in Darkness”

My whole life I have been a dreamer. I would stay awake at night and daydream about other worlds and what it would be like to live in them. When I am asleep, I tend to have lucid dreams, which are complete plots to a book. I often write these dreams down, as ideas for future book. I have a dream journal designated for this purpose. Sometimes I find my ideas, while watching a show or reading a book. The idea for “Caged in Darkness” came to me, while browsing the Goodreads website for a new book. I had a strong urge to read a book about witches, but most of the books I came across did not satisfy my craving. Instead, I wrote down a plot for the kind of book I wished I could find. I then incorporated some other unique aspects to it and created a recipe for what I believe is an amazing series!

Quotes from Caged in Darkness

The day I first came to Meadow Falls is little more than a dream, though that little girl plagues me everyday. I still hear her crying out, and my skull fractures as pain is inflicted on her. She remained frozen in an eternal chamber of torture, and I did not know how to help her escape. Though, I would never escape her. She would follow me around for the rest of my life; a ghost waiting in the wings for me to acknowledge her. Her soft trailing fingers would continue to attempt a connection that I refused to allow; that I couldn’t allow if I wanted to survive. That ghostly girl was weak and insecure, while I needed to be strong and confident.

"What you are or where you came from is not important. It is who you are and the choices you make, that determine who you will become. If you can look inward and be satisfied, the opinions of others should melt away."

"All that is left to bring you pain, are the memories. If you face those, you’ll be free. You can’t spend the rest of your life hiding from yourself; always afraid that your memories will incapacitate you, and they will if you continue to bury them."

"No one has freewill until they are an adult, and by then the choices that were made for them, have already set them on a course that gives limited freedom in the choices to be made."


Interview:

1.      What was the inspiration behind Caged  in Darkness?


The inspiration behind Caged in Darkness began with my craving for a paranormal book that was not a vampire novel. I have always been fascinated by witches and the Wiccan religion. When I couldn’t find a book to sate my craving, I decided to write one. Caged in Darkness ended up evolving past the plot I originally imagined and took on a life of its own. When I was developing Savannah’s character, I gave her a dark past that she overcomes. As a psychology major, I have an appreciation for anyone who manages to carve their own path. I fueled Savannah’s personality with a great deal of my own.

1.  What book are you currently reading?


I am currently reading many different books. The Game of Thrones is my favorite out of the ones I am reading. I began reading it because I watched the show and couldn’t wait to find out what would happen next. It’s refreshingly original and it’s nice to read a fantasy novel since I rarely do.

1.  Who is you’re your favorite author?


I have many favorite authors. My favorites depend on the genre. Historical Romance, my favorites are Eloisa James, Sabrina Jeffries, Sarah Maclean, Lisa Kleypas, and Julia Quinn. Mystery my favorites are Lisa Jackson and Kay Hooper. Fantasy would be James Clemens and Jim Butcher. The genre with most of my favorite authors is probably Young Adult. I absolutely love Rick Riordan, Richelle Mead, Rachel Hawkins, Claudia Gray, Cassandra Clare, J.K. Rowling, Amelia Atwater-Rhodes, and L.J. Smith. I love reading most genres. However, my favorites are Historical Romance and Young Adult.

1. What prompted you to start your writing career?


I’ve been writing my whole life, but have always been insecure about letting people read my pieces. My friends and family told me that I was a natural and was destined to become a writer. It has been a dream of mine for as long as I can remember. However, I always had a little voice telling me that they were only saying those things, because they felt obligated. My professors often compliment my essays, but those are academic. Then, about six months ago, I had to write a personal narrative for one of my classes. My professor called me and told me that my essay was phenomenal. It was vastly different hearing it from her, because I knew she didn’t feel an obligation to compliment me. I also befriended a girl from my University, who quickly became an email buddy. We would tell each other about our experiences. Every time she read my emails, she would mention that she felt pulled in by them. She continually told me I should be a writer, which was amazing since I never told her about that dream. Finally, I decided that I needed to publish my books. I am sure there will be some people who won’t enjoy my books, but hopefully the people who do enjoy them will out number the ones who don’t.

1.   Why do you think people will be interested in reading your books?



I plan to release my novels quickly. As a reader, I despise waiting a year for the next book in a series and I refuse to do this with my readers. I have three series and a stand alone novel that I will be releasing. I think people will be interested in reading my books because my writing style is unique and I have an extraordinary imagination. The people who know me, often comment on how I see the world differently. I am extremely descriptive, obsessed with editing, and I try to incorporate many twists to my stories. When I read, I can usually figure out everything that will happen in a book within the first few chapters. I don’t want people to have that issue with my books. I try to ensure that my readers will be completely surprised by my books. I also make my characters personalities realistic. There are so many different people in the world and each personality is unique. My characters aren’t perfect; they have flaws. However, I think their flaws are what make them captivating.

What authors do you look up to or consider to be mentors?

The authors I most consider my mentors are James Clemens and Richelle Mead. James Clemens pulled me into his Banned and the Banished series because he constantly introduced new developments into each book. His books were so unique that I still have not found a fantasy author who lives up to him. His series has remained by favorite since I was in junior high. Richelle Mead captivates me with her writing because it is so sincere. She goes the extra step to create her characters and her plot. I admire both authors.

Did you have a lot of help and support while writing this novel?

I’ve been lucky to have an amazing support network! My family is encouraging and is with me every step I take. My friends (Lisa, Jackie, Sarah, Regina, and Kari) all help with my editing and constantly beg me for the next piece I write. They really help to boost my self esteem. My husband is phenomenal, because he doesn’t let me give up. My father has always believed in me, which makes it easier to believe in myself. Surprisingly, my cover artist “Regina Wamba” has been great for support. We became friends during the process of creating the cover for Caged in Darkness. I feel blessed to know that I have so many people to catch me if I fall.

Do you plan to continue writing novels in the future?

I am hoping to make writing novels a career. However, I also understand that many authors cannot make a living on writing alone. I write because it’s my passio,n not for money. For now, writing is something I do purely because it makes me happy. My career will be a psychologist once I am finished with the massive amount of schooling it takes to become one.

When did you first realize that you wanted to become an author?

My interest in writing originated when I was too young to write properly. My stories were scribbles back then. I remember beginning because my family told me to write a story during dinner. I think it was to get me to sit still, but it turned into one of my favorite things to do. When I gazed on my scribbles, I saw a real story and would read it to family members. As I aged, I became a better writer. My family quickly picked up on my natural ability and encouraged it. 


Thanks so much to Joy Stroube, author of CAGED IN DARKNESS, for taking time to write a guest blog post for me as well as do an interview! I am looking forward to reading CAGED IN DARKNESS in the very near future!


Friday, July 15, 2011

A LADY'S CHARADE (Medieval Romance Novel) by Eliza Knight: Review

I've been on a kick reading and reviewing romance novels for awhile on here, and here is yet another one! I suppose that when MY love life sucks, romance novels allow me to lose myself in them for a little while! Also, to those who have sent me ebooks or paperbacks to review, I promise I am working on it. Moving across the country took more out of me than I expected, and my motivation to read went out the door! I'm getting into the swing of things again!

Blurb:

From across a field of battle, English knight, Alexander, Lord Hardwyck, spots the object of his desire—and his conquest, Scottish traitor Lady Chloe.

Her lies could be her undoing…

Abandoned across the border and disguised for her safety, Chloe realizes the man who besieged her home in Scotland has now become her savior in England. Her life in danger, she vows to keep her identity secret, lest she suffer his wrath, for he wants her dead.

Or love could claim them both and unravel two countries in the process…

Alexander suspects Chloe is not who she says she is and has declared war on the angelic vixen who's laid claim to his heart. A fierce battle of the minds it will be, for once the truth is revealed they will both have to choose between love and duty.
 



My Review:



This was definitely a great romance novel! I enjoyed it from beginning to end. I love when an author brings “new” characters into historical fiction novels. So many hist. fict. books are about well known people in history (not that it’s a bad thing!!) but it’s cool to hear from the perspective on the time period through the eyes of someone new.

I was immediately drawn to Chloe. She’s a strong, intelligent woman who is able to make it through several sticky situations. The hero of the novel, Alexander, is the perfect romance novel hero. He’s strong and also has an angry, devilish streak in him that makes women want to tame him, and those are definitely MY favorite kind of romance heroes—no one wants a pushover.

The connection between Chloe and Alexander is pretty intense. How they hold out as long as they do is beyond me! The author, Eliza Knight, went into some pretty steamy detail about the love scenes between the two of them.

This  novel was not just about steamy sex & knights in armor, it also has a great story line, and two characters that you really want to root for, did I mention the steamy sex scenes?

I would definitely recommend this book to any historical romance novel fans. I thoroughly enjoyed it!

I give this novel five out of five stars!


Wednesday, July 13, 2011

RAFE'S REDEMPTION by Jennifer Jakes: Review

Blurb:

He rode into town to buy supplies, not a woman. For hunted recluse Rafe McBride, the raven-haired beauty on the auction block is exactly what he doesn't need. A dependent woman will be another clue his vengeful stepbrother can use to find and kill him. But Rafe's conscience won't let him leave another innocent's virginity to the riff-raff bidding. He buys her, promising to return her to St. Louis untouched. He only prays the impending blizzard holds off before her sultry beauty breaks his willpower. She wanted freedom, not a lover. Whisked to the auction block by her devious, gambling cousin, and then sold into the arms of a gorgeous stranger, outspoken artist Maggie Monroe isn't about to go meekly. Especially when the rugged mountain man looks like sin and danger rolled into one. But a blizzard and temptation thrust them together, and Maggie yearns to explore her smoldering passion for Rafe. But when the snow clears, will the danger and secrets that surround Rafe and Maggie tear them apart?




My Review:

I was hooked by the first chapter of this book. This was the first ‘erotic’ historical fiction novel that I’ve read in awhile. I used to be hooked on them! Then I slowly started reading historical fiction that still had a little sexy stuff going on, but had more of a historical base to it than an erotic.

Maggie and Rafe are the two characters in this novel. They both come from wealthy families, but through different circumstances they end up in a way disowned by their families. Maggie because of a step-brother who was no good, and Rafe because of something he had done during the Civil War. The sexual tension through the first part of the book was pretty intense! I definitely was holding my breath at times because of some of the VERY naughty language. I’m in no way a prude, so it was appealing and not at all disgusting to me. However, if you’re a sexual prude, then obviously don’t pick this book up. If you feel like getting kinda turned on, well then, this book is for you! Lol I won’t lie, when the sexual tension was finally over, and they took it to the next level, the sex scenes and the dialogue between each other AND in their heads was pretty arousing! So if you are into erotic fiction, this is most definitely a book to pick up!

It also has a really good story line, and enough adventure to keep the reader interested. It isn’t all about sex like some erotic novels. The author did an excellent job of making both Maggie and Rafe well-rounded characters, and the reader is rooting for them the whole time. It’s not just about random, gratuitous sex; it’s also about passion and love between two good people. Rafe come across as a hard guy at first, but of course Maggie is able to get through his hard exterior to see the amazing guy he really is.

There are also the antagonists in the story, because you can’t have a good adventure story without someone or several someone’s who are trying to either break up the romantic relationship or are enemies from before and are trying to settle a score. One of these people is Maggie’s step-brother, who is trying to have her killed because he wants to inherit the Monroe fortune, and the other is Simon who is Rafe’s step-brother who is trying to revenge his brother Shane. Shane was a rapist, and Rafe didn’t let him get away with it, so there are scores to be settled, and that adds to the excitement.

The story wasn’t forced at all, yes there were some cliché romance story parts, but honestly, there is no way to write a romance novel without some of the usual romance novel happenings. Jennifer Jakes definitely has a dang good imagination when it comes to describing the sex scenes, wow! I can only hope her own sex life is as amazing as the one she describes! I definitely will be purchasing more novels by her in the future, because this novel has gotten my mind back in the gutter! Lol

I would without a doubt give this novel 5 out of 5 stars.  It was well written, had a great story line, well-researched, and the descriptions were great!