Beth's Book-Nook Blog

Reviews of What I've Been Reading….

Review: THE GUEST ROOM by Chris Bohjalian

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Chris Bohjalian is one of my very favorite authors, so I was more than thrilled to get his new novel through Net Galley for review.

Here’s the description via Net Galley:

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Saturday Snapshot – Some Favorite Ornaments

I have been collecting Christmas ornaments since I was a little girl. I took pictures of a few to share here.

We love to get an ornament each time we travel somewhere. Also my children have lots of special ornaments that they’ve gotten over the years, too.

One of our favorites is this Charlie Brown Christmas tree one — you can press a button and hear Linus speaking about the true meaning of Christmas.  
If you know us, you know that Disney is one of our favorite places!!


Above (l to r): Tiffany bulb from the Metropolitan Museum of Art, a Joan Walsh Anglund one I’ve had since I was young, Empire State Building globe that lights up, and an Irish cross we got on our honeymoon.

Eiffel Tower from Paris (another favorite place!), “Beth” – one of my four Little Women ornaments, Disney (again!) and the Disney Cruise ship, and Hershey Kiss Carolers from Hershey Park.

Tree on the left is the children’s tree (artificial) filled with all their ornaments. Tree on the right is the (real) family tree.

Happy Holidays to all who celebrate and Best Wishes for 2016!

Saturday Snapshot is hosted at westmetromommyreads.com.

Please see her site for full participation details.

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Book Blast for THE EDGE OF LOST

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We are blasting it up today to bring you Kristina McMorris’ THE EDGE OF LOST. This book is on my TBR list and I will be entering the GIVEAWAY, too!

The Edge of Lost
by Kristina McMorris

Publication Date: November 24, 2015
Kensington Books
Trade Paperback, 340 pages

Genre: Historical Fiction

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From New York Times bestselling author Kristina McMorris comes an ambitious and heartrending story of immigrants, deception, and second chances.

On a cold night in October 1937, searchlights cut through the darkness around Alcatraz. A prison guard’s only daughter—one of the youngest civilians who lives on the island—has gone missing. Tending the warden’s greenhouse, convicted bank robber Tommy Capello waits anxiously. Only he knows the truth about the little girl’s whereabouts, and that both of their lives depend on the search’s outcome.

Almost two decades earlier and thousands of miles away, a young boy named Shanley Keagan ekes out a living as an aspiring vaudevillian in Dublin pubs. Talented and shrewd, Shan dreams of shedding his dingy existence and finding his real father in America. The chance finally comes to cross the Atlantic, but when tragedy strikes, Shan must summon all his ingenuity to forge a new life in a volatile and foreign world.

Skillfully weaving these two stories, Kristina McMorris delivers a compelling novel that moves from Ireland to New York to San Francisco Bay. As her finely crafted characters discover the true nature of loyalty, sacrifice, and betrayal, they are forced to confront the lies we tell—and believe—in order to survive.

AMAZON | BARNES & NOBLE | BOOKS-A-MILLION | POWELL’S| INDIEBOUND

 

Advance Praise

“Kristina McMorris evokes such a strong sense of place that to open her books feels less like reading and more like traveling. Her absorbing new novel..[is an] epic, deeply felt tale of struggle and second chances… a transporting piece of historical fiction.” — BookPage

“McMorris’ gripping immigrant saga sweeps from Dublin to New York, through Prohibition and vaudeville, from New York to San Francisco and Alcatraz. It is a young man’s battle with hardship and tragedy, but it is also a portrait of America during a turbulent time and a quest that ends in triumph. Readers will be caught up in this well-told story.” — RT Book Reviews, 4 Stars

“Compelling, resonant and deeply moving, The Edge of Lost is an absorbing tale of deceit and self-deception, survival and second chances, the ties that bind and the lure of the unknown.” — Christina Baker Kline, #1 New York Times bestselling author ofOrphan Train

“The story will grab your heart on page one and won’t let go until the end—and if you’re like me, not even then. I absolutely love this book, and so will you.” — Sara Gruen, #1New York Times bestselling author of Water for Elephants

“A beautifully told story about a young man’s journey through adversity and loss with an exhilarating ending that I couldn’t put down and stayed up well past my bedtime to finish.” — Charles Belfoure, New York Times bestselling author of The Paris Architect

“In The Edge of Lost Kristina McMorris takes us on a thrilling ride . . . I found myself thoroughly immersed in her richly evocative settings, just as I was captivated by the pure humanity of her characters as they struggled for redemption. This book is a wonderful read!” — David R. Gillham, New York Times bestselling author of City of Women

“The Edge of Lost takes readers on an enthralling journey . . . right up to a tense, edge-of-your-seat ending that left me breathless. An absorbing, addictive read.” — Beatriz Williams, New York Times bestselling author of The Secret Life of Violet Grant

“With prose as lyrical as the music woven through its narrative, and boasting impeccably observed historical details, The Edge of Lost is a thoroughly mesmerizing novel. I adore everything that Kristina McMorris writes and this book is no exception.” — Jennifer Robson, international bestselling author of Somewhere in France

About the Author

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Kristina McMorris is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author and the recipient of more than twenty national literary awards, as well as a nomination for the IMPAC Dublin Literary Award, RWA’s RITA® Award, and a Goodreads Choice Award for Best Historical Fiction. Inspired by true personal and historical accounts, her works of fiction have been published by Kensington Books, Penguin Random House, and HarperCollins. The Edge of Lost is her fourth novel, following the widely praised Letters from Home, Bridge of Scarlet Leaves, and The Pieces We Keep, in addition to her novellas in the anthologies A Winter Wonderland and Grand Central.

Prior to her writing career, Kristina hosted weekly TV shows since age nine, including an Emmy® Award-winning program, and has been named one of Portland’s “40 Under 40” by The Business Journal. She lives with her husband and two sons in Oregon, where she is working on her next novel. For more, visit www.KristinaMcMorris.com. You can also follow Kristina on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.

Book Blast Schedule

Monday, December 14
The Maiden’s Court
Passages to the Past

Tuesday, December 15
A Literary Vacation
CelticLady’s Reviews
What Is That Book About

Wednesday, December 16
Reading Is My SuperPower
Svetlana’s Reads and Views

Thursday, December 17
Unshelfish
A Book Geek
With Her Nose Stuck In A Book

Friday, December 18
The Lit Bitch
The Reading Queen

Saturday, December 19
Book Nerd
Beth’s Book Nook Blog
So Many Books, So Little Time

Sunday, December 20
Let Them Read Books
Eclectic Ramblings of Author Heather Osborne

Monday, December 21
Boom Baby Reviews

Giveaway!

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To win a signed copy of The Edge of Lost by Kristina McMorris please enter the giveaway via the GLEAM form below.

Rules

– Giveaway starts at 12:01am EST on December 14th and ends at 11:59pm EST on December 21st. You must be 18 or older to enter.
– Giveaway is open to residents in the US and Canada ONLY.
– Only one entry per household.
– All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspect of fraud is decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion
– Winner has 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.
The Edge of Lost Book Blast Giveaway

Direct Link: https://gleam.io/hu4b3/the-edge-of-lost-book-blast-giveaway

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HFVBTour of THE LAST WIFE OF ATTILA THE HUN by Joan Schweighardt

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I’m excited today to be part of the blog tour for THE LAST WIFE OF ATTILA THE HUN.

Here’s the scoop from HFVBT:

The Last Wife of Attila the Hun
by Joan Schweighardt

Publication Date: October 13, 2015
Booktrope Editions
Paperback; eBook; 272 Pages

Genre: Literary/Historical Fiction

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Two threads are flawlessly woven together in this sweeping historical novel. In one, Gudrun, a Burgundian noblewoman, dares to enter the City of Attila to give its ruler what she hopes is a cursed sword; the second reveals the unimaginable events that have driven her to this mission.

Based in part on the true history of the times and in part on the same Nordic legends that inspired Wagner’s Ring Cycle and other great works of art, The Last Wife of Attila the Hun offers readers a thrilling story of love, betrayal, passion and revenge, all set against an ancient backdrop itself gushing with intrigue. Lovers of history and fantasy alike will find realism and legend at work in Joan Schweighardt’s latest offering.

AMAZON | BARNES & NOBLE | ITUNES

Praise

“The hero-tales of the Germanic peoples form a glowing thread in the tapestry of European literature. The Last Wife of Attila the Hun presents one of the greatest of those legends from a woman’s perspective, with emotion as well as action, bringing new meaning to an ancient tale.” – Diana L. Paxson, author of the Wodan’s Children trilogy, and co-author of the New York Times bestseller Priestess of Avalon

“Richly woven, yet simply told, The Last Wife of Attila the Hun is an epic delivered in lucid and lyric verse. Schweighardt creates a mesmerizing story deserving to be read aloud and celebrated like all the world’s best tales.” – Julie Shigekuni, author of A Bridge Between Us, Invisible Gardens and Unending Nova.

About the Author

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Joan Schweighardt is the author of five novels. A former independent publisher, she makes her living editing, writing and ghostwriting for private and corporate clients.

WEBSITE | FACEBOOK | TWITTER

Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, December 14
Spotlight at Flashlight Commentary

Tuesday, December 15
Spotlight at Unshelfish

Wednesday, December 16
Review at History From a Woman’s Perspective

Thursday, December 17
Review at Book Nerd

Friday, December 18
Review at Beth’s Book Nook Blog
Spotlight at CelticLady’s Reviews

Saturday, December 19
Spotlight at Svetlana’s Reads and Views

Sunday, December 20
Review at Carole’s Ramblings
Review at One Book Shy of a Full Shelf

Monday, December 21
Review at Let Them Read Books
Spotlight at A Literary Vacation

And here’s a Giveaway!

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Giveaway

To win a Paperback copy of The Last Wife of Attila the Hun please enter the giveaway via the GLEAM form below.

Rules

– Giveaway starts at 12:01am EST on December 14th and ends at 11:59pm EST on December 21st. You must be 18 or older to enter.
– Giveaway is open internationally.
– Only one entry per household.
– All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspect of fraud is decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion
– Winner has 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.

 

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Well, I am very excited about this book (which I am still in the midst of reading). I have to say that I know little about Attila the Hun. I remember reading somewhere that the Huns were quite fierce and feared. Beyond that, my only other “experience” of Attila is in the Night at the Museum movies. This book is so interesting to me as it’s all new – the time period, the legends, the people. The story is well-written and holds my attention, and I look forward to the conclusion.

I’m so glad I got to be part of this tour – thank you for my e-copy to review!

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Quick Review: POP GOES THE WEASEL by M. J. Arlidge

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I really enjoyed the first Detective Helen Grace mystery I read – EENY MEENY – so I was excited to find POP GOES THE WEASEL on Net Galley. DI Helen Grace is a multi-layered character with a dark past and a dark side to her personality. In this installment, she is chasing a serial killer — one who mutilates his/her victims and then sends a body part home. But as Helen is seeking a killer, she is also watching over a young man for a very specific reason that relates to her shadowed past.

Apparently there are two more Helen Grace mysteries that escaped my attention (I wish Net Galley had a “notify” feature). This is a gritty series, but I like it. I really like uncovering the layers that make up Helen and figuring out the mystery, too. Thank you for my review e-copy!

If you like crime novels, give this one a try!

 

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Review: A BEAUTIFUL BLUE DEATH by Charles Finch

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A while ago I received this from Net Galley. I love Sherlock Holmes and I was drawn to this mystery which sounded like a mystery from the same time period:

Description (via Net Galley)

On any given day in London, all Charles Lenox, Victorian gentleman and armchair explorer, wants to do is relax in his private study with a cup of tea, a roaring fire and a good book. But when his lifelong friend Lady Jane asks for his help, Lenox cannot resist another chance to unravel a mystery, even if it means trudging through the snow to her townhouse next door.
One of Jane’s former servants, Prudence Smith, is dead – an apparent suicide. But Lenox suspects something far more sinister: murder, by a rare and deadly poison. The house where the girl worked is full of suspects, and though Prudence dabbled with the hearts of more than a few men, Lenox is baffled by an elusive lack of motive in the girl’s death. When another body turns up during the London season’s most fashionable ball, Lenox must untangle a web of loyalties and animosities. Was it jealousy that killed Prudence? Or was it something else entirely, something that Lenox alone can uncover before the killer strikes again – disturbingly close to home?
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I loved this book! Lenox is a great character — reminds me of Holmes but different (quirky but not overly so). I really like his friendship with Lady Jane and hope that this continues in the next books into a relationship. I liked his doctor sidekick (Thomas) and found him a somewhat tortured and interesting character, too.
This mystery was hard to figure out and I didn’t guess it before the end.
Overall, a fun read and highly recommended to those who like Victorian mysteries!
Thank you for my review copy.
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Two for Christmas!

If you know me, you know I love Christmas! I recently got two books from Net Galley that focus on the Christmas season.

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This is how Net Galley describes A STUBBORN SWEETNESS AND OTHER STORIES FOR THE CHRISTMAS SEASON by Katherine Paterson (one of my fave children’s book authors!):

A Stubborn Sweetness and Other Stories for the Christmas Season is a collection of modern-day short stories by Katherine Paterson, award-winning author of Bridge to Terabithia and The Great Gilly Hopkins—both loved by children and adults for over twenty years. This compilation includes stories of real-life people such as a shopping mall’s night watchman, a lonely widower, a pregnant teenage runaway, a political prisoner in China, a grieving mother, and a privileged American, who have forgotten the true meaning of Christmas because of loss, pain, greed, or circumstances. Through unexpected and uplifting ways, each is reminded of the first Christmas story and the vision of hope and peace it offers the world. They realize that even in the darkness, the light and song of Christmas can be seen and heard.

This heart-warming gift book, filled with stories of realistic people finding hope, courage, and faith amidst life’s circumstances, radiates the spirit of the season and reminds each of us what Christmas truly means. Originally written to be read during her church’s Christmas Eve service, this collection of holiday stories is perfect for individuals, families, and churches to read and share during the season.

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I love, love, loved this compilation of short but touching stories which have as their theme the true meaning of Christmas. I read one each night before I went to bed. Highly recommended for a calming read at night or to give as a thoughtful gift of the season.

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I loved the title of this book and was drawn to it right away. I love not only the Narnia chronicles but C.S. Lewis’ adult writings on faith.

Here’s how Net Galley describes it:

Description
“Walking into Advent can be like walking through the wardrobe.”

With its enchanting themes of snow and cold, light and darkness, meals and gifts, temptation and sin, forgiveness and hope–and even an appearance by Father Christmas–C. S. Lewis’s The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe fits naturally into the Advent season. As the reader seeks a storied king and anticipates the glorious coming of Christmas, these twenty-eight devotions alternate between Scripture and passages from the novel to prompt meditation on Advent themes. Each devotion also includes questions for reflection. The book also provides several resources for churches, including four sessions for small group discussion and ideas for creating a “Narnia Night” for families. Readers will ultimately come to know God better while journeying through Narnia.

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This was a series of devotions and reflections that the author, Heidi Haverkamp, had done, in part, with her own church congregation. What a brilliant idea! While I loved reading this on my own, I would have loved even more having a group to share this with.

As always, thank you for my review copies, Net Galley and Westminster John Knox Press. Both books are available online or at your favorite indie. Merry Christmas!!

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Review of RIVER OF GRACE by Susan Bailey

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I’m happy today to be blogging about my friend Susan Bailey’s book: RIVER OF GRACE, which was sent to me via Net Galley. I know Susan from Louisa May Alcott’s Orchard House, and we have a lot in common.

Here’s the description of it via Net Galley:

Catholic recording artist and popular blogger Susan Bailey reveals, in this personal and moving narrative, how several major losses helped her rediscover creativity and faith. Filled with powerful insights on the presence and action of grace—in the Mass and sacraments, in nature, and even in grief—River of Grace guides readers to strengthen their faith during tough times and discover their own hidden gifts.

In just a few years’ time, Bailey experienced one challenge after another: the deaths of her father and mother, financial issues, and the loss of her singing voice. Using the rich imagery of a river of grace, Bailey relates how her devotion to the Eucharist inspired her to see Christ’s presence in her life and helped her to trust again.

Each chapter relates Bailey’s experiences of loss and growth and features original activities and personal rituals that include everything from Joni Mitchell music videos and hot baths to imagery and uncooked spaghetti. These inspirational tools guide readers to reflect on their own experiences. Prayers and poetry are found throughout the book and a set of insightful reflection questions are placed at the end of each chapter.

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I really enjoyed this short and very readable book and immediately purchased a copy of it for a friend who had recently had a loss in her life. The image of a river, along with Susan’s inspirational writings about faith and dealing with loss, make this book a unique and meaningful read. I like how she has included short, optional activities at the end of each chapter. Being Catholic, I can identify and relate to Susan’s devotion to the Eucharist and the healing power that God’s grace can bring to us through it in our time of need.

Thank you for my review copy!

About Susan — from her publisher:

Susan Bailey is a blogger, musician, and speaker who frequently contributes to CatholicMom.com and the Association of Catholic Women Bloggers. Her work has also appeared on Catholic.net, and Catholic Online. Bailey blogs at Be As One and Louisa May Alcott is My Passion. She also writes a monthly column for The Catholic Free Press called Be As One. Bailey, who works as a marketing/advertising assistant, was a member of the Commission for Women of the Diocese of Worcester, Massachusetts, where she served as chair and secretary and helped organize the biennial Gather Us In conference. Formerly a professional musician and graphic artist, Bailey released three CDs and worked as a cantor for fifteen years. She earned a bachelor’s degree in elementary education (US History and music) from Bridgewater State University. She and her husband, Rich, have two grown children and live in North Grafton, Massachusetts.

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HFVBTour for IN THE SHADOW OF THE STORM by Anne Belfrage and GIVEAWAY!

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I am so very excited today to be part of the virtual book tour for Anna Belfrage’s new series! I loved her Graham saga (e.g. Rip in the  Veil, etc.) and actually cried at the end of the last book because it was over. Rest assured, Ms. Belfrage is still tirelessly penning new works and has started a new series, the first book of which is IN THE SHADOW OF THE STORM.

Here’s what HFVBT has to say:

In the Shadow of the Storm (The King’s Greatest Enemy, Book One)
by Anna Belfrage

Publication Date: November 1, 2015
Silverwood Books

Genre: Historical Fiction

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Adam de Guirande owes his lord, Sir Roger Mortimer, much more than loyalty. He owes Sir Roger for his life and all his worldly good, he owes him for his beautiful wife – even if Kit is not quite the woman Sir Roger thinks she is. So when Sir Roger rises in rebellion against the king, Adam has no choice but to ride with him – no matter what the ultimate cost may be.

England in 1321 is a confusing place. Edward II has been forced by his barons to exile his favourite, Hugh Despenser. The barons, led by the powerful Thomas of Lancaster, Roger Mortimer and Humphrey de Bohun, have reasons to believe they have finally tamed the king. But Edward is not about to take things lying down, and fate is a fickle mistress, favouring first one, then the other.

Adam fears his lord has over-reached, but at present Adam has other matters to concern him, first and foremost his new wife, Katherine de Monmouth. His bride comes surrounded by rumours concerning her and the baron, and he hates it when his brother snickers and whispers of used goods.

Kit de Courcy has the misfortune of being a perfect double of Katherine de Monmouth – which is why she finds herself coerced into wedding a man under a false name. What will Adam do when he finds out he has been duped?

Domestic matters become irrelevant when the king sets out to punish his rebellious barons. The Welsh Marches explode into war, and soon Sir Roger and his men are fighting for their very lives. When hope splutters and dies, when death seems inevitable, it falls to Kit to save her man – if she can.

In the Shadow of the Storm is the first in Anna Belfrage’s new series, The King’s Greatest Enemy, the story of a man torn apart by his loyalties to his baron, his king, and his wife.

Series Graphic

About the Author

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Had Anna been allowed to choose, she’d have become a professional time-traveller. As such a profession does as yet not exists, she settled for second best and became a financial professional with two absorbing interests, namely history and writing. These days, Anna combines an exciting day-job with a large family and her writing endeavours.

When Anna fell in love with her future husband, she got Scotland as an extra, not because her husband is Scottish or has a predilection for kilts, but because his family fled Scotland due to religious persecution in the 17th century – and were related to the Stuarts. For a history buff like Anna, these little details made Future Husband all the more desirable, and sparked a permanent interest in the Scottish Covenanters, which is how Matthew Graham, protagonist of the acclaimed The Graham Saga, began to take shape.

Set in 17th century Scotland and Virginia/Maryland, the series tells the story of Matthew and Alex, two people who should never have met – not when she was born three hundred years after him. With this heady blend of romance, adventure, high drama and historical accuracy, Anna hopes to entertain and captivate, and is more than thrilled when readers tell her just how much they love her books and her characters.

Presently, Anna is hard at work with her next project, a series set in the 1320s featuring Adam de Guirande, his wife Kit, and their adventures and misfortunes in connection with Roger Mortimer’s rise to power. The King’s Greatest Enemy is a series where passion and drama play out against a complex political situation, where today’s traitor may be tomorrow’s hero, and the Wheel of Life never stops rolling.

The first installment in the Adam and Kit story, In the Shadow of the Storm, will be published in the autumn of 2015.

Other than on her website, www.annabelfrage.com, Anna can mostly be found on her blog,http://annabelfrage.wordpress.com – unless, of course, she is submerged in writing her next novel.

Blog Tour Schedule

Tuesday, December 1
Review at I’m Shelfish
Review at Let Them Read Books
Spotlight at Passages to the Past

Wednesday, December 2
Review at Beth’s Book Book
Review & Interview at Bookish

Thursday, December 3
Review at So Many Books, So Little Time

Friday, December 4
Review at Singing Librarian Books
Spotlight at Historical Fiction Connection

Sunday, December 6
Review at A Bibliotaph’s Reviews

Monday, December 7
Review at One Book Shy of a Full Shelf

Tuesday, December 8
Review at Book Nerd
Guest Post at One Book Shy of a Full Shelf

Wednesday, December 9
Review at Flashlight Commentary

Thursday, December 10
Review at Book Drunkard
Review at Impressions in Ink
Interview at Flashlight Commentary

Friday, December 11
Spotlight at The Never-Ending Book

Monday, December 14
Review at Unshelfish
Review at CelticLady’s Reviews
Guest Post at To Read, Or Not to Read

Tuesday, December 15
Review at A Chick Who Reads
Review at Historical Fiction Notebook

Wednesday, December 16
Review at Room with Books
Review at Griperang’s Bookmarks

Thursday, December 17
Review at Just One More Chapter
Review at Oh, For the Hook of a Book

Friday, December 18
Interview at Just One More Chapter
Interview at Oh, For the Hook of a Book

Monday, December 21
Review at Puddletown Reviews
Review at With Her Nose Stuck in a Book

Tuesday, December 22
Review at Bookramblings
Review at Broken Teepee

Giveaway

During the Blog Tour we will be giving away 2 eBooks and 1 paperback! To enter, see the GLEAM form below.

Rules

– Giveaway ends at 11:59pm EST on December 22nd. You must be 18 or older to enter.
– Giveaway is open internationally.
– Only one entry per household.
– All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspect of fraud is decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion
– Winner has 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.

Direct Link: https://gleam.io/IezOD/in-the-shadow-of-the-storm

 

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Now, I asked myself: How could I like this as much as the Graham books? Will I like it even if I know next to nothing about Edward II (I have to say I’m a Tudor person myself, Henry VII and forward)?

Well, I loved this book! It was a great read and fulfilled my historical fiction requirement of being entertaining, engrossing, and fun while also teaching me about something I didn’t already know about. I loved the characters, the events, the writing, and I can’t wait for Book 2 to come out (and I’m happy to review it – just saying!).

Thank you so much for my e-copy to review and for making me part of the tour!

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