September 15, 2014

East India by Colin Falconer

East India by Colin Falconer
ISBN: 9781621251798
Trade Paperback

Synopsis: In any other circumstance but shipwreck, rape and murder, a man like Michiel van Texel would never have met a fine lady such as Cornelia Noorstrandt.

He was just a soldier, a sergeant in the Dutch East India company’s army, on his way from Amsterdam to the Indies to fight the Mataram. Such a woman was far above the likes of him.
But both their destinies intertwine far away from Holland, on some god-forsaken islands near the Great Southland. When their great ship, the Utrecht, founders far from home, surviving the Houtman Rocks is the least of their worries.
As they battle to survive and the bravest and the best reveal themselves for what they are, Cornelia’s only hope is a mercenary in a torn coat who shows her that a man is more than just manners and money.
He makes her one promise: ‘Even if God forsakes you, I will find you.’
But can he keep it?
My review: As with other books I have read by Colin this book kept me intrigued from page one all the way through the end. I liked that it was about a part of the world that we don't get to read much about in historical fiction. The author did a great job in his character development and making them come to life. The setting of the book was also incredible the attention to detail was very good in the fact that you get a sense of being sent back in time. This book is weaved with adventure and excitement which helps the story move along quickly. You will find yourself reading long into the night as I did with this book. I am not sure still if I liked Cornelia or not, there were times I felt for her but then time I got frustrated. The story of the whole shipwreck and how the had to survive was very interesting to me. If you have not had a chance to try Colin's books yet I suggest you get started, he writes about strong women in history and makes each of them come alive on the pages for us. 
Be sure to check out Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours (click here) to see all the stops on the tour. 

Buy the Book

About the Author

Born in London, Colin first trialed as a professional football player in England, and was eventually brought to Australia. He went to Sydney and worked in TV and radio and freelanced for many of Australia’s leading newspapers and magazines. He has published over twenty novels and his work has so far been translated into 23 languages.
He travels regularly to research his novels and his quest for authenticity has led him to run with the bulls in Pamplona, pursue tornadoes across Oklahoma and black witches across Mexico, go cage shark diving in South Africa and get tear gassed in a riot in La Paz.
He currently lives in Barcelona.
For more information please visit Colin Falconer’s website. You can also find him on Facebook or follow onTwitter.

September 13, 2014

Dancing on the Head of a Pen by Robert Benson

I received this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for a fair and honest review. 
Dancing on the Head of a Pen by Robert Benson
ISBN: 9781400074358

Synopsis: In this masterful blend of the practical and the spiritual, Robert Benson invites you into the work and rewards of a writer’s life. More than a primer on effective writing, Dancing on the Head of a Pen is a winsome guide to the place in the heart where the life of the spirit meets the life of art.
Dancing on the Head of a Pen is a pure delight to read. Encouraging, honest, practical, and important. I needed this book.”
—Melody Carlson, author of more 200 books including Finding Alice 
“With deceptive simplicity and an almost seductive easiness in his voice, Benson lays open before us the filigreed mystique of the writing life in all its beauty, its unmitigated angst, and its inescapable vocation.”
—Phyllis Tickle, author of numerous books including The Divine Hours
“Robert Benson’s Dancing on the Head of a Pen is a gem. It is wise, witty, and inspiring—a trifecta seldom achieved by a book on the writing life.”
—James Scott Bell, bestselling author of Plot & Structure

After some forty years and nearly twenty books, I have learned I do not know about a lot of things, but I do know how to write a book. Some of these things are habits stolen from other writers, writers far better than I am. Some are disciplines I stumbled upon to feed both the caliber of the writing and the work of being a writer. Some of them are practices I discovered on my own after years of dancing on the head of a pen.
Robert Benson
The Life of the Spirit Meets the Life of Art
A compelling combination of advice and inspiration, Dancing on the Head of a Pen will challenge and encourage writers, artists, musicians, painters—anyone drawn to a life of artistic expression. 
Digging deeply into his own writing habits, failures, and successes, Robert Benson helps you choose the ideal audience for your work, commit to it, and overcome the hurdles that inevitably confront both aspiring artists and accomplished professionals. 
Extending beyond the craft of writing, this gentle book moves into a rich discussion on the relationship between spirituality and art. Including wisdom from revered writers past and present, Dancing on the Head of a Pen is a beautiful mosaic of inspiration, practical help, and a glimpse into the disciplines that shape one writer’s life.

My Review: I have been dreaming and thinking about writing a book, in fact this has been a dream of mine since I was little, so when I saw this book I thought it might be some inspiration for me. This worked out to be very true. I like how he gives us advice on writing without being dry reading. It was also nice that Robert shared some of his own personal tips about writing. Another interesting part of this book is when the author talks about the three hats, of course you will have to read the book to see what I am talking about. This will be a book that I will use over and over again. 

Robert Benson is the author of numerous books, including The Echo Within, Digging In, and Home by Another Way. A retreat leader, Benson writes and speaks often on the life of prayer and contemplation, the practice of faith and spirituality, and the art and craft of writing. He is a graduate of and an adjunct faculty member for the Academy for Spiritual Formation, a program of The Upper Room. He is married to the literary agent Sara Fortenberry. Benson lives in Nashville, Tennessee, and he dances on the head of a pen every day no matter where he happens to be.

Tried and True by Mary Connealy - Review and a Kindle Fire Giveaway by Litefuse

I received this book in exchange for a fair and honest review
Tried and True by Mary Connealy
Wilde at Heart Series #1
ISBN: 9780764211782

Synopsis: Saddle up for a wildly fun ride with the Wilde sisters!
Kylie Wilde is the youngest sister–and the most civilized. Her older sisters might be happy dressing in trousers and posing as men, but Kylie has grown her hair long and wears skirts every chance she gets. It’s a risk–they are homesteading using the special exemptions they earned serving in the Civil War as “boys”–but Kylie plans to make the most of the years before she can sell her property and return to the luxuries of life back East.
Local land agent Aaron Masterson is fascinated with Kylie from the moment her long hair falls from her cap. But now that he knows her secret, can he in good conscience defraud the U.S. government? And when someone tries to force Kylie off her land, does he have any hope of convincing her that marrying him and settling on the frontier is the better option for her future?
My review: Mary has a great start to another series that I am going to enjoy. I think it is cool that Kylie and her sisters served in the Civil War posing as men. How frustrating for them though that their exemption was going to be taken away from them because they are women. Mary did a good job of telling the story of the many women who served in the war under disguise through Kylie's story. I felt really bad for Aaron going home to find his family all gone, I can't imagine how that must have felt. It was fun watching the romance blossom between Aaron and Kylie. The characters were very well developed and strong which for me helps the story. I look forward to reading the rest of the books in this series. 
Purchase a copy:
About the author: Mary Connealy writes fun and lively "romantic comedy with cowboys" for the inspirational market. She is the author of the successful Kincaid Brides, Lassoed in Texas, Montana Marriages, and Sophie's Daughters series, and she has been a finalist for a Rita and Christy Award and a two time winner of the Carol Award. She lives on a ranch in eastern Nebraska with her husband, Ivan, and has four grown daughters.

Find Mary online: websiteFacebook,Twitter

Check out Litefuse (click here) to see the rest of the stops on the blog tour

Don't miss the first book in Mary Connealy's Wild at Heart series. In Tried & True, Mary is back with her signature humor and heartfelt story-telling.

Mary's celebrating by connecting with readers during a live webcast event and giving away a Kindle HDX.

One winner will receive:
  • A Kindle HDX
  • Tried & True by Mary Connealy
Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on September 23rd. Winner will be announced at the Tried & True LIVE webcast event on September 23rd. Connect with Mary for an evening of swoon-worthy book chat, fun trivia, laughter, a sneak peek at the next book in the Wild at Heart series, and more! Mary will also be taking questions from the audience and giving away books, fun prizes, and gift certificates throughout the evening.

So grab your copy of Tried & True and join Mary and friends on the evening of September 23rd for a chance to connect and make some new friends. (If you haven't read the book, don't let that stop you from coming!)

Don't miss a moment of the fun; RSVP today by signing up for a reminder. Tell your friends via FACEBOOK or TWITTER and increase your chances of winning. Hope to see you on the 23rd!

September 9, 2014

Tower of Tears by Rhoda D'Ettore

I received this book in exchange for a fair and honest review.
Tower of Tears by Rhoda D. Ettore
The McClusky Series #1
ISBN: 9781497361273
Trade Paperback

Synopsis: Betrayal. Despair. Murder. Mystery. Romance. Blackmail. “If God be good, Mr. Landon will burn in the eternal flames of hell. If God be bad, he will suffer much worse.” In 1820, a young woman and her son leave Ireland for a better life in America. She soon suffers heartache and tragedy, while residing with family whom she has never met. Unbeknownst to her, the family had already set her up with employment in a factory–a factory run by a lecherous man. This is the first book in a series that will follow the McClusky family while they become Americanized while face with the Potato Famine, the US Civil War, and the Industrial Revolution.

My Review: I was happy to read this book as it has a lot of things that interest me, Ireland immigrant, 1800s time period, mystery, romance it has it all. Rhoda did a very good job developing the characters as well as the settings as I felt as if I knew the characters forever and could picture myself everywhere they were. Jane was such a strong woman to leave her husband and move to a new country with her son to live with relatives she did not know to start a new life, I don't think I could have done that. This was a book I could not put down as I wanted to see what was going to happen next with Jane and her new adventure in life. I look forward to the rest of this series. 

Buy the Book

National Military Family Association

$1 per sale will be donated, regardless of what format is purchased—ebook, print, audiobook & regardless of site purchased—will be donated to the National Military FamilyAssociation. This organization helps families reconnect when the parents return from deployments, as well as helping families with other transitions and keeping the children active while the parents are deployed.

About the Author

Rhoda D’Ettore was born in Woodbury, New Jersey, into a family of 5 siblings–which has provided her with plenty of comical material. She began working at the United States Postal Service at 25 years old, and over the past 15 years has accumulated many humorous stories about situations that the public never gets to know about. Her first ebook, “Goin’ Postal: True Stories of a U.S. Postal Worker” was so popular that readers requested it in paperback. Recently, she published the humorous “Goin’ Postal” in paperback along with another story entitled, “The Creek: Where Stories of the Past Come Alive”. Combining these two into one book may seem strange, as one is humorous and the other is a heart wrenching historical fiction, however, doing so proves to the reader Rhoda D’Ettore’s versatility.
Rhoda D’Ettore received her degree in Human & Social Services while working at USPS, has travelled extensively, and loves history. Over the years she has volunteered for several community service organizations, including fostering abused and neglected dogs for a Dalmatian rescue.
For more information please visit Rhoda’s website. You can also find her on Facebook and Twitter.

Be sure to stop by Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours (click here) to see the rest of the stops on the tour. 

September 5, 2014

All's Fair in Love and Cupcakes by Betsy St. Amant - Review - Facebook Party and Giveaway (from Litfuse)

I received this book in exchange for a fair and honest review.

All's Fair in Love and Cupcakes by Betsy St. Amant
ISBN: 9780310338451
Trade Paperback

Synopsis: Kat Varland has had enough of chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry.

At twenty-six years old, Kat is still living in the shadows of her family in Bayou Bend, Louisiana. Still working shifts at her Aunt Maggie's bakery. Still wondering what to do with her passion for baking and her business degree. And still single.

But when Lucas Brannen, Kat's best friend, signs her up for a reality TV bake-off on Cupcake Combat, everything Kat ever wanted is suddenly dangled in front of her: creative license as a baker, recognition as a visionary . . . and a job at a famous bakery in New York.

As the competition heats up, Lucas realizes he might have made a huge mistake. As much as he wants the best for Kat, the only thing he wants for himself---her---is suddenly in danger of slipping away.

The bright lights of reality cooking wars and the chance at a successful career dazzle Kat's senses and Lucas is faced with a difficult choice: help his friend achieve her dreams . . . or sabotage her chances to keep her in Louisiana.

My Review:  This was a fun book to read. I liked how the Cupcake Combat was the back drop fopr friends finding out they love each other. Books like this just make me feel good. I enjoyed how the author developed the characters and let us hear their thoughts through out the entire book. It was fun reading about the competition in the background as I enjoy foodie competitions and then add the element of Lucas and Kate into the mix. I will say these two drive me crazy in a fun way as you just want to tell them to wake up, but that is part of what kept me reading to see if they would eventually find each other as more than friends. I recommend this book as a fun summer read. 

About the author: 

Betsy St. Amant lives in Louisiana with her young daughter and has a heart for sharing the amazing news of God's grace through her novels. A freelance journalist, Betsy is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers. When she's not reading, writing, or singing along to a Disney soundtrack with her daughter, Betsy enjoys inspirational speaking and teaching on the craft of writing.

Find Betsy online: websiteFacebook

Be sure to check out Litfuse Group (click here) to see all the other great reviews of this book. 

Purchase a copy:

Don't miss Betsy St. Amant's latest fiction release, All's Fair in Love and Cupcakes. A "sweet" tale of two best friends and the choices they make between dreams and a possible "sure thing," St. Amant's novel is sure to satisfy your romantic-fiction craving.
Betsy is celebrating with a fun Kindle giveaway and a Love & Cupcakes Facebook party! One winner will receive:
  • A brand new Kindle
  • All's Fair in Love and Cupcakes by Betsy St. Amant
Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on September 18th. Winner will be announced at the "Love & Cupcakes" Author Chat Party on 9/18. Betsy will be hosting a "sweet" book chat, giving away prizes, and answering questions from readers. She will also share an exclusive sneak peek at her next book project!

So grab your copy of All's Fair in Love and Cupcakes and join Betsy on the evening of September 18th for a chance to connect and make some new friends. (If you haven't read the book, don't let that stop you from coming!)

Don't miss a moment of the fun; RSVP todayTell your friends via FACEBOOK or TWITTER and increase your chances of winning. Hope to see you on the 18th!

August 20, 2014

What Counts Most is How You Finish by Shelia Payton - Book Review and Guest Post

I received this book in exchange for a fair and honest review.
What Counts Most is How You Finish by Shelia Payton
ISBN: 9781465364982
Trade Paperback

Synopsis: What Counts Most is How You Finish is a book of short essays that shares ideas for addressing life's challenges. The book (which uses experiences from the author's life and the lives of others) is written with two ideas in mind: 
• Each person has to find his or her own way in life 
• We can learn worthwhile things from each other 

To make it easier to find an essay that can help the reader address life situations in real time, What Counts Most is How You Finish is divided into seven topic areas: Being You, Taking Care of You, Dealing with People, Overcoming Challenges, Staying Focused, Achieving Success and Making a Difference.

While the primary audience for What Counts Most is How You Finish is people between the ages of 16-25, the book has received positive feedback from many older than that who say it’s a good reminder for them.

My Review: I have been on a kick of looking for self help books to read. This book was written as a young adult book but is good for all ages. The way the author breaks down the lessons into seven topic areas make them easier to read about and learn. I enjoyed how the author used her life stories to teach us lessons that can be used your whole life. This is a book I will read more than once to get everything out of it. They say you must read/listen to new lessons six times to get everything out of it, so I will be doing that with this book. It is just the right length so as to now overwhelm you but to be satisfying. I recommend this book for parents and teenagers alike. 

Be sure to check out I Read Book Tours (click here) to see all the stops on the tour. 

Author's Bio:

Shelia Payton is an entrepreneur, former newspaper reporter, corporate manager and educator who spent all of her early life and much of her career in a time when people of color and women in this country were pushing for greater inclusion at all levels of society, and seeking greater opportunities to live life to the fullest. Like others in her generation, Shelia had to face and overcome barriers to entering and succeeding in non-traditional jobs, and create a place in civic and leadership settings. Also like others in her generation, Shelia’s motivation has not just been about what she can accomplish for herself, but also how she can open up opportunities for future generations. Shelia’s current focus is on creating books, plays and music that build human connections by breaking down barriers and stereotypes.

Guest Post by Shelia Payton

Building Up Your Self-Esteem Muscle
Motivational speaker and author Zig Ziglar said “Your attitude, not your aptitude, will determine your altitude.” I agree. Someone growing up in modest or difficult circumstances who believes in themselves is more likely to succeed than someone who may be smarter and had more life advantages, but doesn’t believe in themselves.

How do you maintain a positive attitude that can boost self-esteem? There is no easy answer, but the titles of some of the essays in my book, What Counts Most is How You Finish, provide some suggestions:
Who You Hang with Matters: The people you spend time with influence how you feel about yourself, act, and what you believe is possible for your life. Hang with “why not” people—those who see life’s barriers, but focus on life’s opportunities. Doing this can teach you to be more positive and confident in yourself.
Nobody Has the Right to Make You Feel Bad: Some people are miserable and want company in their misery; so they do things to make others feel bad. You don’t have to be their company. As toddlers we’re quick to tell someone “no” and snatch away when we don’t want to do something. If someone tries to make you feel bad, recapture your inner toddler: say “no” inside your head, and physically separate yourself from them.
Playing the hand you’re dealt: You can’t always control what happens in life, but you can decide how you respond to it. There are three basic options: wallow in self-pity, give up or, as songwriter Jerome Kern wrote, “pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and start all over again.” Follow Kern’s advice will help build your self-confidence.
Nothing Beats a Failure But a Try: You can’t win a sports championship if you never step on the field or court. It’s the same in life. People often don’t try something new or innovative, or take advantage of opportunities because they’re afraid they won’t succeed. If you don’t try, you’re guaranteed not to succeed. Rather than hold back, find out what you need to do, and do your best.
Focus on the Positive: This is tough. When you experience disappointment or get knocked down emotionally, it’s natural to curl up and lick your wounds. But neither good times nor bad times last forever. Instead of giving up tell yourself: “As long as I’m inhaling air things can get better.” Read books/articles or watch videos at the library about people who overcame life challenges, and follow their lead.
God Don’t Make No Junk: When doubt creeps into your thoughts, remind yourself you are not a mistake or an accident. You are here for a positive reason.
When you’re discouraged, keep this image in your mind: Flowers can teach us lessons about life. Before they blossom and show their beauty, flowers push their way through dirt and debris. Because they’re determined, they eventually break through to enjoy the sunlight.
Live your life with the determination of a flower and you, too, will enjoy the sunlight.

Thank you to Shelia for stopping by my blog and being a guest post. I hope you enjoy her book as much as I did. 

August 7, 2014

The Butterfly and the Violin by Kristy Cambron Review and Giveaway for a Kindle Fire as well as Facebook Party on 8/7

The Butterfly and the Violin
Hidden Masterpiece Book #1
By Kristy Cambron
ISBN: 9781401690595
Trade Paperback

Synopsis: A mysterious painting breathes hope and beauty into the darkest corners of Auschwitz—and the loneliest hearts of Manhattan.
Manhattan art dealer Sera James watched her world crumble at the altar two years ago, and her heart is still fragile. Her desire for distraction reignites a passion for a mysterious portrait she first saw as a young girl—a painting of a young violinist with piercing blue eyes.
In her search for the painting, Sera crosses paths with William Hanover, the grandson of a wealthy California real estate mogul, who may be the key to uncovering the hidden masterpiece. Together, Sera and William slowly unravel the story behind the painting's subject: Austrian violinist Adele Von Bron.
A darling of the Austrian aristocracy, talented violinist, and daughter to a high-ranking member of the Third Reich, Adele risks everything when she begins smuggling Jews out of Vienna. In a heartbeat, her life of prosperity and privilege dissolves into a world of starvation and barbed wire.
As Sera untangles the secrets behind the painting, she finds beauty in the most unlikely of places: in the grim camps of Auschwitz and in the inner recesses of her own troubled heart.
My Review: I loved this book the thing that pulled me in first was the cover, I love a good cover. I was not sure at first that I would enjoy it as I found out it is about the Holocaust and I am not big on those books but this one grabbed my attention and held it until the last page. Another thing that I liked is that this told the story of someone from the past and I enjoy stories like that. This book is an emotional book so if you are a person who cries at books be sure to have the kleenex at hand. Great character development and setting description. Kristy did a great job in her first book and I look forward to the next one. 

    About the Author

Kristy Cambron has been fascinated with WWII since hearing her grandfather’s stories. She holds an Art History degree from Indiana University and works as Communications Consultant. Kristy writes WWII and Regency fiction and placed first in the 2013 NTRWA Great Expectations and 2012 FCRW Beacon contests. Kristy makes her home in Indiana with her husband and three football-loving sons. Website: Twitter: @KCambronAuthor Facebook: Kristy-L-Cambron-Author

Welcome to the launch campaign for debut novelist Kristy Cambron's The Butterfly and the Violin. Romantic Times had this to say: "Alternating points of view skillfully blend contemporary and historical fiction in this debut novel that is almost impossible to put down. Well-researched yet heartbreaking. . . ."

Kristy is celebrating the release of the first book in her series, A Hidden Masterpiece, with a fun Kindle Fire giveaway and meeting her readers during an August 7th Facebook author chat party.


 One winner will receive:
  • A Kindle Fire
  • The Butterfly and the Violin by Kristy Cambron
Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on August 7th. Winner will be announced at The Butterfly and the Violin Author Chat Party. Kristy will be connecting with readers and answering questions, sharing some of the fascinating research behind the book, hosting a fun book chat, and giving away some GREAT prizes. She will also be giving an exclusive look at the next book in the series, A Sparrow in Terezin!

So grab your copy of The Butterfly and the Violin and join Kristy on the evening of August 7th for a chance to connect and make some new friends. (If you haven't read the book, don't let that stop you from coming!)

Don't miss a moment of the fun; RSVP todayTell your friends via FACEBOOK or TWITTER and increase your chances of winning. Hope to see you on the 7th!