October 31, 2009

2010 Historical Reading Challenge

And now for my second challenge of 2010. This one is hosted by Kenda over at Lurve a la Mode.

FROM KENDA: This will encompass both straight historical fiction and historical romance. I’m hoping this challenge will allow some of us to get back into reading historicals, like me, as well as help us get into some of those books in our TBR piles or maybe to just discover something new.

The challenge will be to read 12 historicals in 2010. I don't think that I read more than 4-5 in 2009 so this will be a true challenge but I'm new to historicals and love them so I'm in. Wish me luck again.

  1. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer, Annie Barrows
  2. Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith
  3. People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks
  4. The Red Tent by Anita Diamant
  5. Flirting with Forever by Gwyn Cready
  6. Black Hills by Dan Simmons
  7. Outlander by Diana Gabaldon

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October 28, 2009

It begins... My first 2010 challenge

With just one book left to complete my last pending 2009 challenge I've started checking out the new 2010 challenges. The first one that caught my eye is over at At Home With Books.
FROM ALYCE: The idea behind this challenge is to read works by authors who have been recommended to you time and again, yet somehow you haven't managed to read any books by those authors. These are the authors that everyone else tells you are awesome, thus the "Awesome Author Challenge" title.

I've selected the "moderate" challenge which is 6 books to be read from January 1, 2010 to December 31, 2010. I'll dig through my TBR pile in the next week or so to figure out which authors I'm going to select.

Over the next few weeks I'll also be posting a few more challenges and I'm thinking that a lot will be repeats from last year. I've had so much fun with them this year that I'm looking forward to pushing myself further next year. Wish me luck!

  1. The Red Tent by Anita Diamant
  2. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
  3. Outlander by Diana Gabaldon
  4. Room by Emma Donoghue
  5. Skinny Dip by Carl Hiaasen

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October 27, 2009

Review: Elfs in a Conquered Realm by Anna del C. Dye

In this third and final installment of The Silent Warrior trilogy, Anna del C. Dye completes the story of Adren, her women warriors and her family told in three different parts covering many years.

The story begins with Paletin’s kingdom of Renil in trouble financially. He approaches Adren and Dellin about the possibility of securing the riches of the long deserted city of Menarm where Adren grew up and a new quest is planned for the elfs to help Paletin.

Once the mission is complete Adren and her family visit the Woodland elfs and meet Dellin’s paternal family for the first time and once again adventures ensue with some very near potential disasters.

Finally back in Menarm, Paletin has decided to reestablish the lost city of Menarm and Adren, Dellin and many others return to provide the assistance needed to bring Menarm back as a thriving sister city of Renil. But greed brings out the worst in mankind and soon Adren and her family are in danger again.

My brief synopsis makes the book seem like it was a tale about non-stop trouble for Adren and others but that is not case. Throughout the book there are conflicts and resolutions but each one is integrated with the revolving storylines.

There are so many wonderful components to the book. Elfs in a Conquered Realm is action, adventure, fantasy, romance and family loyalty all rolled up into one incredible story. Adren is up to her match making tricks again and in this book a few more children are introduced to the elf population which is a very rare occurrence.

Similar to my thoughts on going from book one to book two, Anna del C. Dye has progressed in character development and dialogue. The interactions flow much better in this third book and I sincerely hope to read more from this author. The entire trilogy is a must read for fantasy lovers.

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October 26, 2009

Blog Tour & Review: Pendragon's Banner by Helen Hollick

Product Description

Who was the man
… who became the legend
… we know as

Pendragon's Banner is the second book in Helen Hollick's exciting King Arthur trilogy, covering 459-465 A.D. This is not a fairy tale or fantasy. There is no Merlin, no sword in the stone, and no Lancelot. This is the most accurate Arthurian legend ever written, based on historical evidence and meticulous research.

At age twenty-four, King Arthur has the kingdom he fought so hard for and a new young family. But keeping the throne of Britain—and keeping his wife and three sons safe—proves far from easy. Two enemies in particular threaten everything that is dear to him: Winifred, Arthur's vindictive first wife, and Morgause, priestess of the Mother and malevolent Queen of the North. Both have royal ambitions of their own.

In this story of harsh battles, secret treasonous plots, and the life-threatening politics of early Britain's dark ages, author Helen Hollick boldly reintroduces King Arthur as you've never seen him before.

My Review:

Ever since I saw the movie with my favorite actor, Clive Owen, I’ve been intrigued by the story of King Arthur and Pendragon’s Banner filled my craving for a more behind the scenes story. This is definitely not a fairy tale telling of magic and triumph. It’s a realistic portrayal complete with fighting, jealousy, lust and tragedy.

The story pulled me in from the very beginning when Arthur ordered his nine-month pregnant wife to caravan to the land of a man looking to challenge his leadership. He was so dedicated his people that he knew bringing his wife along with would show good faith in his quest for peace. I thought to myself “Who does that?” and was hooked.

This was book two in the Pendragon’s Banner Trilogy but definitely stands alone as I have not yet read The Kingmaking. I plan to read it soon and follow it up with Shadow of the King. I highly recommend this one for all historical fiction lovers.

More Tour Participants:

The Tome Travellers Weblog (10/12)

A Reader’s Respite (10/12)

Carla Nayland’s Historical Fiction (10/13)

Enchanted by Josephine (10/14)

Fumbling with Fiction (10/14)

Found Not Lost (10/15)

Nan Hawthorne’s Booking the Middle Ages (10/15)

Jenny Loves to Read (10/16)

The Review From Here (10/17)

The Courtier’s Book (10/18)

Chick Loves Lit (10/19)

Love Romance Passion (10/20)

He Followed Me Home… Can I Keep Him? (10/20)

The Impasse Strikes Back (10/21)

S. Krishna’s Books (10/22)

Books Like Breathing (10/23)

Passages to the Past (10/24)

Virginie Says (10/25)

Readaholic (10/25)

Rundpinne (10/26)

Books & Needlepoint (10/27)

Capricious Reader (10/27)

Books are my Only Friends (10/27)

A Sea of Books (10/28)

Bloody Bad (10/28)

Revenge of the Book Nerds! (10/28)

Booksie’s Blog (10/28)

Devourer of Books (10/29)

Peeking Between the Pages (10/29)

Starting Fresh (10/29)

Historical Tapestry (10/30)

Medieval Bookworm (10/30)

Book Soulmates (10/30)

Susan’s Art & Words (10/30)

Steven Till (10/31)

Café of Dreams (10/31)

*I received a copy of Pendragon's Banner from the publisher in exchange for participating in the tour and a review.

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October 25, 2009

Review: Petite Sweets by Beatrice Ojakangas

In Petite Sweets Ojakangas shows us how to make miniature versions of some of the most decadent and sinful desserts and sweets around. From planning the dessert menu and equipment basics to tips on ingredients it’s all covered with large full color photos.

Cooking and baking have always been hit or miss with me. I love to do it but even if I follow the recipe exactly I don’t always get the best results. Some of my more memorable dishes have been my Lemon Meringue Soup when trying to make my favorite pie and most recently when following my grandma’s light and fluffy gordita recipe I ended up with what my husband called “biscuits with meat”. LOL My son even nicknamed me “burner girl” because he was always scraping the burnt parts off his favorite grilled cheese sandwiches.

Petite Sweets has plenty of easy to follow recipes and for my review I tried the Mini Cream Puffs. There were just a few basic ingredients and I filled mine with vanilla pudding so in no time flat I had a tiny version of one of my favorite treats with almost no mess to clean up afterwards. My cream puffs were light, fluffy, golden brown and perfectly flaky and I actually surprised myself at how good they tasted.

One major plus is that since I’ve been dieting I’ve cut all sweets and goodies out of my diet. With Petite Sweets I was able to satisfy my sweet tooth without all the guilt that I would have had with the full size version.

In each of the categories below there are many more great recipes that have caught my eye and next up for me will be the Fresh Lime Pies made in mini muffin tins which will be just big enough to satisfy my craving while still being good.

Petite Sweets Categories
  • Little Cakes

  • Petite Pies and Tarts

  • Fruit and Berry Desserts

  • Mouses and Chilled Desserts

  • Creams, Custards and Frozen Desserts

  • Pastries and Sweets

Any of the sweet treats found in the book would be the hit of your party and your friends will all think you’re a master pastry chef. I highly recommend Petite Sweets for bakers of any skill level because as my family knows I’m not the best cook and my Mini Cream Puffs were a little bit of heaven.

*I received a copy of Petite Sweets from the publisher in exchange for a review.

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October 21, 2009

Review: Book Cover from Reading Comfort

Two weeks ago I received my Trade Size fabric book cover from Reading Comfort. I’ve had other fabric book covers in the past so I can share my honest comparison of the two.

Right as soon as I took my new cover out of the envelope I noticed two things that already had me loving the cover. One, there is a small metal embellishment on the cover. This is not only a good looking accent it lets me quickly identify the front of the book. No more flipping the book up and/or over before I can start reading.

The second thing I noticed was the nifty attached book mark. Other covers I’ve used didn’t have this or if there was one it was too short. With the length of the attached bookmark extending past the bottom of the book all I had to do was pull it up and out to open the book. No more losing my place with a paper bookmark that falls out.

The cover fits snuggly over the book without bending, wrinkling or creasing the book in any way. This was a big deal for me because I participate in a lot of book rings and always stress if I get even the tiniest crease on a book since they are borrowed. The cover allows me to drop the book into my house on straps, otherwise known as my purse, without worrying about it. In the two weeks since receiving the cover I’ve used it on three books of varying lengths and all have come out of the cover in the same shape they went in.

And just so you don’t think this is a fluff piece, I do have one con to share. My cat sat on the cover, which if you have cats you know their favorite thing is to sit on anything you have laying out LOL, and the cover picked up a lot of cat hair. But it did brush right off so no harm done.

The covers come in several colors and three sizes to fit mass market, trade size and hard back books or a gift set in a box with gold ribbon. Reading Comfort is an eco-friendly company that also offers the Book Buddy (read my review), lap blankets, book weights and book marks. Any one of these beautiful products would be a great anytime gift for the book lover in your life.

*I received a free book cover in exchange for this review.

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October 20, 2009

Review: Hannah: Daughters Of The Sea by Kathryn Lasky

At the age of fourteen Hannah Albury has reached the day where she transitions from old the Little Wanderer orphanage that she grew up in into the real world. After a miserable month in Kansas where she became deathly ill, Hannah was sent back to Boston and placed in the home of the wealthy Hawley family to work as a scullery maid.

There she befriends the family’s youngest daughter Ettie and delights in talking with the young girl even though contact between the family and household help is frowned upon. When Hannah catches the attention of a young painter, Stannish Wheeler, hired to paint the Hawley girls she unknowingly made an enemy of the older daughter Lila and her mysterious cat Jade. It quickly becomes obvious that Lila is not completely mentally stable and she soon has more to contend with than the unnatural attraction she has to the sea.

Resisting the call of the water is getting harder and harder to do especially when Stannish seems to have many of the answers she’s been looking for.

This was a great young adult read. It’s geared towards 9-12 year olds and I think it’s perfect. The story is mysterious enough to hold anyone’s attention and I know younger girls would love reading about Hannah’s adventures.

The only reason this book isn’t a full five stars is the major cliff hanger at the end. I’m all for leaving us hanging when there are more books in the series but this one has a very abrupt ending. So much so that I had to double check no pages were missing. Other than that I highly recommend this one for tween girls or anyone who loves to read YA fantasy books. I will definitely be reading the next in the series.

*Free copy provided by the Amazon Vine program in exchange for my review.

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October 18, 2009

Review: Dragons Prefer Blondes by Candace Havens

When dragon warrior Ginjin approaches the Alex Caruthers with a proposition of marriage she has to think fast. As a Guardian whose job it is to hunt down and kill the dragons that disobey the law and come to earth to harm humans, Alex has to be diplomatic in turning down Ginjin or risk starting a war between our world and the dragons’.

Her solution is simple. She lies and says she’s already in a relationship with Jake, the head of the Caruthers family security team. Not only does this give Alex an easy out but it also means that she gets to spend just a little more time with Jake which is never a hardship.

The more time she spends with Jake the more she realizes that her feelings toward him aren’t all friendly. But soon Alex learns that Jake lost his wife to illness four years ago and as many sparks fly between them Jake won’t open himself to falling in love for real. He just can’t take the risk of losing another person he loves and being a Guardian puts Alex’s life in danger constantly. Will the two overcome this fear as the tension between them grows?

I love that Havens writes such strong ass-kicking characters with a soft side. A lot of times heroines that kick ass are a little rough around the edges but the Caruthers sisters all have big warm caring hearts that balance the ass kickers and Alex is no exception. I do wish that there was a little more heat in her interactions with Jake but considering how he needs to detach himself from falling for Alex it makes sense.

This was another great paranormal romance from Candace Havens. It’s book two in the series but definitely stands alone and if you haven’t read any of her books yet I suggest you correct that immediately and start yourself on the super fun Bronwyn the witch books beginning with Charmed & Dangerous. She’s still my favorite Havens character and as much as I love the Caruthers sisters I would love to see Bronwyn return.

Be sure to visit my giveaway page to win an autographed copy of Dragons Prefer Blondes and read my review of Book 1 The Demon King and I.

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Giveaway: Dragons Prefer Blondes by Candace Havens

WINNER: Christopher in California

Second in the paranormal series featuring the Caruthers sisters, party girls who save the world-between cocktails.

Alex Caruthers is a sassy socialite who knows when it's time to turn in her dancing shoes and kick some serious dragon booty. But when Ginjin-the dragon warrior who's tried to kill her numerous times-chooses her as his mate, Alex finds herself in a situation that's too hot to handle.

For help she turns to Jake, head of Caruthers security-and a total hottie in a suit-and asks him to pose as her boyfriend. Their relationship might be fake, but Alex can't deny that one touch from Jake makes her burn hotter than any dragon could.

To enter to win an autographed copy of this fun book just tell me why you'd like to win.

For extra entries Tweet about the giveaway using the "ShareThis" link at the end of this post or Tweet your own message. Twitter entries can be done once a day, just be sure to leave me the link to your Tweet each time you do.

Giveaway open WORLDWIDE. Winners will be selected October 28th and will have 48 hours to respond to the winning email. Please be sure to leave me an email address in your comment if it's not in your profile or you post using anonymous.

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