Wednesday, April 29, 2015

The Age of Adaline

Last week I had the opportunity to see The Age of Adaline, and today my review is up at BreakPoint! Check it out if you get a chance - and if you've seen the film (or plan to) I'd love to hear your thoughts!

(Spoiler: Blake Lively is gorgeous, Michel Huisman will make you swoon, but in my view Harrison Ford steals the show.) :)

In defense of Hawkeye...

Monday, April 20, 2015

Double Cross by DiAnn Mills

This week, the
is introducing
Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. (April 1, 2015)


DiAnn Mills is a bestselling
author who believes her readers
should expect an adventure. She combines unforgettable characters with unpredictable plots to create action-packed, suspense-filled novels.

Her titles have appeared on the CBA and ECPA bestseller lists; won two Christy Awards; and been finalists for the RITA, Daphne Du Maurier, Inspirational Readers’ Choice, and Carol award contests. Library Journal presented her with a Best Books 2014: Genre Fictionaward in the Christian Fiction category for Firewall.

DiAnn is a founding board member of the American Christian Fiction
Writers; the 2015 president of the Romance Writers of America’s Faith, Hope, & Love chapter; a member of Advanced Writers and Speakers
Association, and International Thriller Writers. She speaks to various
groups and teaches writing workshops around the country. She and her
husband live in sunny Houston, Texas. DiAnn is very active online and
would love to connect with readers on any of the social media platforms
listed at her website.


FBI Agent Laurel Evertson’s investigation into a scam targeting the elderly takes an unexpected twist when key evidence leads her to Morton Wilmington, a felon she arrested five years ago on her first undercover assignment. That case has haunted her since, and though she’s vowed to forget Wilmington—and what she sacrificed to put him away—he is now her best lead.

Houston Police Officer Daniel Hilton fears his grandparents may be the scammer’s next targets, and he’ll do anything to protect his family—even force interagency cooperation. But he’s quickly drawn to Laurel’s empathy and zeal and agrees to follow her lead . . . even if it means teaming up with a felon.

As the unlikely trio uncovers evidence suggesting the scam is more extensive and deadly than they imagined, both Laurel and Daniel find themselves in the crosshairs of a killer. Together they must decide if they can trust Wilmington’s claims of redemption, or if he’s leading them straight into a double cross.

If you would like to read the first chapter of Double Cross, go HERE.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Star Wars: The Force Awakens - new trailer!

The new teaser trailer for the upcoming Star Wars film just dropped, and I am a complete and utter wreck and mess of feels and everything is all too much and I will never survive this movie I CAN TELL ALREADY.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Jaded by Varina Denman

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
David C. Cook (March 1, 2015)
Varina Denman


An avid reader and blogger, Varina Denman enjoys writing fiction about Christian women and the unique struggles they face. She seems to have a knack for describing small town life, and is currently working on a three book Texas series which will soon be published by David C. Cook. The first book in the series, Jaded, won the 2013 ACFW Genesis contest for romance.

Varina attended three Texas universities over a span of five years, majoring in four subjects and earning zero degrees. However, she can now boast sixteen years as a home educator, volunteering in the local cooperative where she has taught numerous subjects including creative writing and literature.

Even though Varina has spoken at ladies’ retreats and taught women’s Bible classes, she finds the greatest fulfillment facilitating prayer groups. She lives in Burleson, Texas, where she helps with Family Ministry in her home congregation. Varina is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and North Texas Christian Writers.


As a child, Ruthie was shunned by the local congregation. Thirteen years later, Ruthie’s heart begins to stir when an attractive single preacher arrives. But their relationship is bitterly opposed—unearthing a string of secrets which threaten to turn the church, the town, and her world upside-down.

Jaded is the rare novel that is both love story between a woman and man ... and God and His church. Plunging deep into the waters of shame, forgiveness and restoration, it will resonate with every woman who’s experienced a loss of heart ... and a thirst for hope.

If you would like to read the first chapter of Jaded, go HERE.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Review: A Bone to Pick by Charlaine Harris

A Bone to Pick (Aurora Teagarden #2)
By: Charlaine Harris
Publisher: Berkley


In the months following the series of murders that led to the dissolution of the Real Murders club, Aurora "Roe" Teagarden lost a boyfriend, gained a stepfather, and attended more than her fair share of weddings. Life looked -- perish the thought! -- predictably spinster-ish, until Jane Engle, erstwhile library volunteer and Real Murders enthusiast, dies and leaves the bulk of her estate to Roe. Since Roe never considered Jane more than a casual acquaintance, the unexpected windfall is a shock -- but not an entirely unwelcome one. But Roe's excitement over the options her new, moneyed status opens for her future are quickly tempered by the suspicion that this gift is more than a happy accident of fate. Jane left her everything for a purpose...and when she discovers a battered human skull hidden in Jane's house, Roe realizes that her very survival may depend on uncovering the unassuming Jane's darkest secrets...

After reading the first Roe Teagarden mystery, Real Murders, in preparation for the Hallmark film series, I couldn't resist moving on to the second installment (and the first story adapted for television). While I missed the club that first introduced Roe to crime-solving, this is a solid second outing, if lacking some of the sense of quirky community that existed between Roe and her fellow crime aficionados. But what it may lack in cozy mystery charm, it makes up for with a chick lit sensibility that provides some of Roe's most relatable moments. This is light chick lit, in keeping with the cozy genre, but it works, giving Roe a much needed, sassy single edge to her personality. I just hope that her potential romance with Aubrey, her stepfather's Episcopalian priest, continues because he is ADORBS.

What the mystery of the skull in Jane's window seat lacks in cleverness or depth it makes up for in atmosphere, as this menacing, unwanted discovery forces Roe to re-examine her assumptions about Jane as well as her new neighbors. I found Roe's reluctance to admit to finding the skull -- critical evidence in a murder investigation -- frankly beyond belief, but this isn't a series that exactly relies on logic or due process. Roe's adventures are perfect for when one craves a few hours of escapist entertainment with a few chills thrown in for good measure. I'm sorry to see Roe leave her library job behind after this monetary windfall, but Roe's bookish charm is so thoroughly ingrained in her character I can't foresee her forsaking her love of literature any time soon...or so I hope! Looking forward to seeing more of Roe's adventures on-screen and in print!

About the book: 

Death comes calling on a small-town librarian whose life is passing her by. 

Aurora "Roe" Teagarden's fortunes change when a deceased acquaintance names her as heir to a rather substantial estate, including money, jewelry, and a house complete with a skull hidden in a window seat. Roe concludes that the elderly women has purposely left her a murder to solve. So she must identify the victim and figure out which one of her new, ordinary-seeming neighbors is a murderer-without putting herself in deadly danger.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Review: The Captive by Thomas Locke

The Captive (Legends of the Realm #0.5)
By: Thomas Locke
Publisher: Revell


The Long Hall serves as both Joelle's refuge and prison, for years earlier she was brought to the wizards and wizards-in-training who called the hall home, near death, one of the last of her kin. Though many wished her dead, a problem best avoided, Joelle found one ally -- Trace, the Master of the mages, her protector, friend, and mentor. A child of two worlds, Joelle may be an outcast, but she possesses the power to see beyond the physical realm. Though the full extent of her powers are untapped, even feared, Joelle resolves to leverage her relationship with Trace to gain the strength to leave the Long Hall forever. For she's seen the future -  malevolent mage is gathering power, threatening the safety of her enforced refuge, leaving Joelle more determined than ever to escape and meet her fate as a free woman.

Thomas Locke is a pseudonym for Davis Bunn, a name that should be familiar to anyone who has followed Christian fiction in the last twenty years. I was thrilled to discover that The Captive and its follow-up marks his first foray into high fantasy in years, and as an avid fan of a genre that seems all too slim in faith-based circles I'm always on the lookout for a fresh voice. The Captive is a wildly promising introduction to Locke's Realm series, whetting readers' appetites for more information about Joelle's mysterious past and the role of magic in the Realm. However, I'm concerned that Joelle isn't the main focus of Emissary, so I'm a bit puzzled by the choice to introduce this world through her eyes only to shift perspective in the first novel. That concern aside, this is an engaging introduction to Locke's world, and I look forward to seeing the seeds of conflict planted here further developed in the follow-up. There is a delicious medieval sensibility to Locke's world-building, a blend suggestive of Middle Earth with a dash of Arthurian legends -- a satisfying, intriguing introduction!

About the book:

The only remnant of Joelle's former life is her name.
The only hint of her future is a foreboding vision of darkness.
And her only hope is a man she has yet to meet.

One of the last of a disappearing race, Joelle spends her days as a prisoner of the Long Hall, sweeping corridors and dusting scrolls while young wizards learn to ply their trade. In the dark of night, she practices the magical arts that are forbidden to one of her kind, hoping to soon break the spell that holds her captive. 

But an evil is growing beyond the enchanted stone walls. Joelle will need much more than her own skills to escape it. Someone is coming for her. And when he arrives, he will change everything.

This short ebook excerpted from Emissary gives you a magical glimpse into the Realm--and the heroes who will stop at nothing to save it.

Mist of Midnight by Sandra Byrd

This week, the
is introducing

Howard Books (March 10, 2015)


After earning her first rejection at the age of thirteen, bestselling author Sandra Byrd has now published more than forty books. Her adult fiction debut, Let Them Eat Cake, was a Christy Award finalist, as was her first historical novel, To Die For: A Novel of Anne Boleyn. To Die For was also named by Library Journal as a Best Books Pick for 2011 and The Secret Keeper: A Novel of Kateryn Parr, was named a Library Journal Best Books Pick for 2012. The Tudor series’ end cap, Roses Have Thorns: A Novel of Elizabeth I published in April, 2013.

A life-long lover of Victorian Gothic romances, Sandra’s new series, Daughters of Hampshire, weaves elements of that mystical, traditional genre with inspirational and literary threads. Mist of Midnight, the series’ first book, debuts in March, 2015.

Sandra has also published dozens of books for tweens and teens, and is passionate about helping new authors develop their talent and their work toward traditional or independent publication. As such, she has mentored and coached hundreds of new writers and continues to coach dozens to success each year.


In the first of a brand-new series set in Victorian England, a young woman returns home from India after the death of her family to discover her identity and inheritance are challenged by the man who holds her future in his hands.

Rebecca Ravenshaw, daughter of missionaries, spent most of her life in India. Following the death of her family in the Indian Mutiny, Rebecca returns to claim her family estate in Hampshire, England. Upon her return, people are surprised to see her...and highly suspicious. Less than a year earlier, an imposter had arrived with an Indian servant and assumed not only Rebecca's name, but her home and incomes.

That pretender died within months of her arrival; the servant fled to London as the young woman was hastily buried at midnight. The locals believe that perhaps she, Rebecca, is the real imposter. Her home and her father's investments reverted to a distant relative, the darkly charming Captain Luke Whitfield, who quickly took over. Against her best intentions, Rebecca begins to fall in love with Luke, but she is forced to question his motives—does he love her or does he just want Headbourne House? If Luke is simply after the property, as everyone suspects, will she suffer a similar fate as the first “Rebecca”?

If you would like to read the first chapter of Mist of Midnight, go HERE.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Review: Cinderella, or The Little Glass Slipper by Charles Perrault and illustrated by Camille Rose Garcia

Cinderella, or The Little Glass Slipper
By: Charles Perrault
Illustrated by: Camille Rose Garcia
Publisher: Harper Design
ISBN: 978-0062333919


Prior to the release of Disney's gorgeous new Cinderella, I stumbled across this new storybook edition of the classic story by Charles Perrault, lavishly illustrated by Camille Rose Garcia. I'm not going to comment on the story here (which I love), but rather on this volume's effectiveness as a vehicle for transmitting the classic story in a fresh way. On that score, Garcia succeeds in spades. this is a gorgeous volume, filled with eye-popping swathes of color on every spread. The illustrations bring the Cinderella story to life with all of the quirk, charm, and energy of a Tim Burton film, sure to appeal to readers looking for something outside the norm represented by more traditional incarnations of the famous rags-to-riches princess. Whether you are looking to add Perrault's original classic to your library for the first time or expand on your collection, this beautifully illustrated hardback is a worthy addition to the ever-expanding world of fairy tale related literature. 

About the book:

"Do not stay past midnight. If you remain at the ball a minute longer, your coach will again become a pumpkin."

Initially published in 1697, Charles Perrault's Cinderella is one of the most beloved and widely known fairy tales. Cinderella has been ordered into servitude by her cruel stepmother and stepsisters, but when a costume ball is held for the kingdom's marriageable prince, Cinderella's fairy godmother gives her the chance to attend—disguised as a lavishly dressed and bejeweled princess. But Cinderella must depart at the stroke of midnight, lest her fine clothes turn to rags and her coach to a simple garden pumpkin. In her flight, she leaves a tiny glass slipper in her wake—the lovelorn prince's only clue to her identity. Will he find her?

This new gift edition presents the unabridged version of the Perrault tale, with the bewitching, brilliantly colored illustrations of renowned artist Camille Rose Garcia.

Review: Real Murders by Charlaine Harris

Real Murders (Aurora Teagardent Mystery #1)
By: Charlaine Harris
Publisher: Berkley
ASIN: B000W917LU


I must confess, I'd never even heard of Aurora Teagarden until I started seeing advertisements for a new film on the Hallmark Movies & Mysteries channel (which is kind of my default "background noise" station, because seriously can you ever have too many Murder She Wrote re-runs? No, obvs...). And even then, nothing in the trailer clued me into the fact that it was a book series, until I finally did a google search on the name and discovered that not only was the upcoming film inspired by a series of books, but the main character was a LIBRARIAN. My book loving heart was overcome -- this is total cozy mystery catnip for the likes of me, people!

Real Murders is the first installment of Aurora's sleuthing adventures, and it is so 1990s it was giving me all the nostalgic feels. No internet! Phones on CORDS attached to WALLS! Not to mention Aurora's fashion sense. *wink* Aurora (also called Roe) is all of 4'11" with coke-bottle glasses and a mass of hair she usually keeps tame with a braid...quiet and bookish and perfectly ordinary. She's content with her lot in life until her existence is upended with a terrifying splash of murder, the likes of which she's only found in her true crime books. Her passion for history and mystery met its outlet in the Real Murders Club, a diverse group of locals who met once a month to discuss a historical murder case or related crime-solving topic. But when one of the club members turns up dead, the body staged to mimic that meeting's topic -- the Julia Wallace murder -- Roe's amateur passion for murder casts an unwelcome and all too real shadow over her carefully ordered life. Soon the perpetually-single Aurora is juggling not one but two potential boyfriends, all while wondering which member of her criminally savvy fellow club members decided to take their passion for history's more gruesome chapters and bring it to life in her hometown...and where, and how, would they strike next?

If you're craving the mystery equivalent of comfort food, Real Murders contains all the ingredients to satisfy one's craving for a mystery cozy -- a plucky heroine, a quirky small town, a dash of romantic possibility, and a few red herrings. Roe is a likable lead, if not particularly well-rounded, and the supporting players are typical of the assortment that normally populates stories of this ilk -- the flirt, the jock, etc. While not particularly groundbreaking Real Murders is an altogether pleasant way with which to while away a few hours. It may lack some of the finesse of a Christie novel, but it more than makes up for any predictability with its action-packed final act. This series has promise, and its premise makes it perfect material for a series of telefilms, all guaranteeing I'll revisit Aurora's world soon!

About the book: 

Though a small town at heart, Lawrenceton, Georgia, has its dark side-and crime buffs. One of whom is librarian Aurora "Roe" Teagarden, a member of the Real Murders Club, which meets once a month to analyze famous cases. It's a harmless pastime-until the night she finds a member killed in a manner that eerily resembles the crime the club was about to discuss. And as other brutal "copycat" killings follow, Roe will have to uncover the person behind the terrifying game, one that casts all the members of Real Murders, herself included, as prime suspects-or potential victims.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Mademoiselle Chanel Book Blast!

Please join author C.W. Gortner as his latest release, Mademoiselle Chanel, is featured around the blogosphere from March 17-April 3, and enter to win one of three fabulously chic, Chanel-style black and white beaded bracelets!

02_Mademoiselle Chanel Cover
Publication Date: March 17, 2015
William Morrow/HarperCollins
Formats: Hardover, eBook, Audio Book

Genre: Historical Fiction

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DRAMA, PASSION, TRAGEDY, AND BEAUTY: C.W.’s new novel stunningly imagines the life of Coco Chanel—the iconic fashion designer whose staggering creativity built an empire and made her one of the 20th century’s most influential, and controversial, figures.

Born into rural poverty, Gabrielle Chanel and her sisters are sent to a convent orphanage after their mother’s death. Here, the nuns nurture Gabrielle’s exceptional sewing skills, a talent that will propel her into a life far removed from the drudgery of her childhood.

Transforming herself into Coco—a seamstress and sometime torch singer—the petite brunette burns with ambition, an incandescence that draws a wealthy gentleman who will become the love of her life. She immerses herself in his world of money and luxury, discovering a freedom that sparks her creativity. But it is only when her lover takes her to Paris that Coco discovers her destiny.

Rejecting the frilly, corseted silhouette of the past, her sleek minimalist styles reflect the youthful ease and confidence of the 1920s modern woman. As Coco’s reputation spreads, her couturier business explodes, taking her into rarefied society circles and bohemian salons. Her little black dress, her signature perfume No. 5; her dramatic friendships, affairs, and rivalries with luminaries of her era increase her wealth and fame. But as the years pass, success cannot save her from heartbreak. And when Paris falls to the Nazis during World War II, Coco finds herself at a dangerous crossroads, forced to make choices that will forever change her.

An enthralling portrayal of an extraordinary woman who created the life she desired, Mademoiselle Chanel is Coco’s intimate story.

Release Graphic

Praise for Mademoiselle Chanel

“In this deliciously satisfying novel, C.W. Gortner tells the epic, rags-to-riches story of how this brilliant, mercurial, self-created woman became a legend.” (Christina Baker Kline, New York Times bestselling author of Orphan Train)

“In a novel as brilliant and complicated as Coco Chanel herself, C. W. Gortner’s prose is so electric and luminous it could be a film, and not just any film, but one of the grandest biopics of our time. Divine!” (Erika Robuck, bestselling author of Hemingway's Girl)

“A richly imagined, deftly researched novel, in which the ever fascinating Coco Chanel comes to life in all her woe and splendor, her story unfolding as elegantly as a Chanel gown.” (Cathy Marie Buchanan, author of The Painted Girls)

“From her heart-wrenching early years through her decades of struggle and glory, Gabrielle Chanel was fascinating—as is C.W. Gortner’s Mademoiselle Chanel. Coco lives again in this rich tale of brilliance, determination, and fierce self-creation.” (Ania Szado, author of Studio Saint-Ex)

“Gortner brings to life a woman who was as alluring and captivating as her signature scent. ” (Historical Novels Review)

“Gortner brings history to life in a fascinating study of one woman’s unstoppable ambition.” (Booklist)

“Well-written and historically accurate . . . An homage to a couture icon whose influence is still powerful today.” (Kirkus Reviews)

Buy Mademoiselle Chanel

Barnes & Noble

About the Author

03_CW Gortner

C.W. GORTNER holds an MFA in Writing with an emphasis in Renaissance Studies from the New College of California, as well as an AA from the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising in San Francisco.

After an eleven year-long career in fashion, during which he worked as a vintage retail buyer, freelance publicist, and fashion show coordinator, C.W. devoted the next twelve years to the public health sector. In 2012, he became a full-time writer following the international success of his novels.

In his extensive travels to research his books, he has danced a galliard at Hampton Court, learned about organic gardening at Chenoceaux, and spent a chilly night in a ruined Spanish castle. His books have garnered widespread acclaim and been translated into twenty-one languages to date, with over 400,000 copies sold. A sought-after public speaker. C.W. has given keynote addresses at writer conferences in the US and abroad. He is also a dedicated advocate for animal rights, in particular companion animal rescue to reduce shelter overcrowding.

C.W. recently completed his fourth novel for Ballantine Books, about Lucrezia Borgia; the third novel in his Tudor Spymaster series for St Martin's Press; and a new novel about the dramatic, glamorous life of Coco Chanel, scheduled for lead title publication by William Morrow, Harper Collins, in the spring of 2015.

Half-Spanish by birth and raised in southern Spain, C.W. now lives in Northern California with his partner and two very spoiled rescue cats.

For more information visit C.W. Gortner's website and blog. You can also find him on Facebook, Twittter, Goodreads, Pinterest, and YouTube. Sign up for C.W. Gortner's Newsletter for updates.

Mademoiselle Chanel Book Blast Schedule

Tuesday, March 17
Mina's Bookshelf
Oh, for the Hook of a Book!
So Many Books, So Little Time

Wednesday, March 18
Forever Ashley
History From a Woman's Perspective

Thursday, March 19
The Lit Bitch
100 Pages a Day

Friday, March 20
A Literary Vacation
Beth's Book Nook Blog
What Is That Book About

Saturday, March 21
Genre Queen

Sunday, March 22
A Bookish Girl

Monday, March 23
Let them Read Books

Tuesday, March 24
The True Book Addict

Wednesday, March 25
Historical Fiction Connection
The Never-Ending Book

Thursday, March 26
Broken Teepee

Friday, March 27
The Maiden's Court

Saturday, March 28
Caroline Wilson Writes
Svetlana's Reads and Views

Sunday, March 29
Passages to the Past

Monday, March 30
Flashlight Commentary
To Read, Or Not to Read
I'd So Rather Be Reading

Tuesday, March 31
Book Lovers Paradise

Wednesday, April 1
Booktalk & More

Thursday, April 2
CelticLady's Reviews

Friday, April 3
Book Nerd
Luxury Reading


Three Chanel-style black and white beaded bracelets will up for grabs during this blast, follow along for chances to win!


– Giveaway starts on March 17th at 12:01am and ends on April 3rd at 11:59pm EST.
– Must be 18 or older to enter.
– Giveaway is open to US residents 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.
- Winners will be notified via email and have 48 hours to claim prize, or new winner is chosen.

Mademoiselle Chanel Book Blast Giveaway

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