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May 30, 2013

Book Giveaway Galore! Three Winners each get a pack of books!

Thursday, May 30, 2013
Today is the Giveaway Day at Armchair BEA & I was going to originally participate in the posts but my heart wasn't in it this year, sad to say.

I am in a bit of a funk lately ... job, kids, husband, everything is getting on my nerves... BLAH. Rainy soggy humid blah icky weather.

So, what's a girl to do?

GIVE AWAY BOOKS!!!!!!!!!!!
Please help get  me some happy thoughts and show your love for reading and join me in celebrating books.. which is what we book bloggers LOVE right?

So here we have three different 'stacks' of books that I am giving away. Click links for more information on the titles.

Book Giveaway #1 - Christian Historical Fiction

Book Giveaway #2 - Royal | Arthurian Historical Fiction

Book Giveaway #3 - General Literature Mix

All of these books are read/gently used, and some are ARCs as well. Follow the instructions on the Rafflecopter form. Email subscribers get an extra 10 giveaway entries, as a big thank you to those who subscribe!! Apologies to non-USA readers, but my budget can only handle mailing to USA residents. Thanks for entering and sharing my giveaway!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

May 29, 2013

Call Me Zelda by Erika Robuck

Wednesday, May 29, 2013
Robuck's writing evokes the melancholy state of Zelda 
Call Me Zelda by Erika Robuck
Biographical historical fiction
Penguin NAL, May 7, 2013
Review copy provided by the publisher, thank you!
Burton Book Review Rating: Very good, and I recommend it! 4 stars

From the author of Hemingway’s Girl comes a richly imagined tale of Zelda Fitzgerald’s love, longing, and struggle against ever-threatening insanity.
From New York to Paris, Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald reigned as king and queen of the Jazz Age, but those who really knew them saw their inner turmoil.
Committed to a Baltimore psychiatric hospital in 1932, Zelda vacillates between lucidity and madness as she fights to forge an identity independent of her famous husband. She discovers a sympathetic ear in her nurse Anna Howard, who finds herself drawn into the Fitzgerald’s tumultuous lives and wonders which of them is the true genius. But in taking greater emotional risks to save Zelda, Anna may end up paying a far higher price than she ever intended.
In this thoroughly researched, deeply moving novel, Erika Robuck explores the boundaries of female friendship, the complexity of marital devotion, and the sources of both art and madness.

With all eyes on Gatsby-themed books and movies this year, Erika Robuck's tale of Zelda's manic depression is not the glitzy glamorous high-rolling tale of the 'gin-soaked' Jazz Age that some may expect. The novel is actually narrated by Zelda's fictionalized nurse, who gets in over her head during her care of Zelda and is sucked into the abyss that the Fitzgerald family creates for each other. It is a sad and poignant story and definitely not a sweet love story of Zelda and F. Scott - they were depicted as being very abusive and cruel and it was heartbreaking to read about their vindictiveness towards each other as Zelda sank deeper and deeper into a psychotic state.

This is not the first time the author has depicted distressing circumstances: Receive Me Falling touches on slavery, and Hemingway's Girl features a tattered and battered Hemingway with another example of a volatile relationship. Robuck can adeptly write these scenes as her voice is always clear and true though I am quite sure that I did not expect Call Me Zelda to be quite so melodramatically depressing, for lack of a better description.

Nurse Anna Howard's story is a major piece of the Fitzgerald puzzle as she is attempting to come to grips with the after-effects of the war and the fact her husband has disappeared while on duty. Anna becomes too close to the Fitzgeralds and subsequently blurs the lines between patient and nurse, but this flawed nature is what endears the reader to Anna, and being told in first person helps as well. The relationship between Zelda and Anna is the biggest thread to this story which plays itself out even when Zelda is not in the picture.

The nuances of the thirties are here in the telling through Zelda's letters and depictions of the past, but the story is very character-driven as they each attempt to manage their relationships. Zelda and Scott, Zelda and Scott and their daughter, Anna and the Fitzgeralds, Anna and her parents, Anna and her brother the priest, Anna and her missing husband, Anna and the missing husband's best friend, Anna and her driver, etc. It is a melancholy look at marriage between soul mates, at love that is lost to the ravages of time, of how misunderstandings irrevocably lead to disaster, of resilience of a little girl amidst it all, and how despite the tragedies and the grief, life goes on whether there is redemption or not.

While not a concentrated look at Zelda alone, using the narrator of Anna really helps the reader to imagine Zelda as a woman, a struggling wife and mother, and not just a flapper at a party. I love Erika Robuck's emotive writing especially because she always seems to be able to get at the heart of the characters just as she did with them here. I've always felt that Robuck's voice is eloquent and precise as she emits both the beauty and the tragedy of the figures she is portraying. The book chronicles the failures during their doomed quest to find the former life of the laughter and the young love in such a way that you will never be able to think of the Fitzgeralds in quite the same way again.

May 26, 2013

TSS | Post Office Fun | What Are You Reading?

Sunday, May 26, 2013
The Sunday   
Visit Svea's blog at The Muse in The Fog Book Review to start linking up your Sunday posts; Suddenly Sunday is a weekly event hosted by Svea whose purpose is to share all the exciting events that have occurred on your blog throughout the week.

Hope you are all having a nice Memorial Day weekend, and feeling peace as you remember your loved ones as you are spending some time off with family.

This week I snazzed up my twitter background, it was tons of fun. Go take a look at my twitter profile and let me know what you think! It's better than the last one anyway which was just a tiled image of my old blog button, but it is a pain in the butt to get it to look right from one computer screen to the next. Maybe that's why I had simply done a tiled image before...

I also spent tons of $$ at Kohls and got some cute tops including eight or nine tank tops so I think I'm ready for the summer since Spring has forgotten to spring. It's pretty darn muggy already! I also got a haircut - alleluia - which is a major feat with two kids and a full time job and always existing exhaustion, but I'm most proud because I braved it and just went to Great Clips and it wasn't a disaster. They're open on Sundays!

Also, a few weeks ago I used a mailbox/memes post to test out Google Plus Commenting where some of you could utilize that, however others who aren't on google plus can't comment. So I deleted the Google Plus commenting feature and of course that deleted the actual comments. Very glad I had only tested it out for a very short while, so if you were thinking about using the google plus feature (available via blogspot settings in your dashboard), it's not very blog friendly. It posts your comments to a stream on Google plus and it's just sort of stupid, so before any fellow bloggers decide to try it out I wanted you to be aware of these issues.

I need some prayer warriors for me.. totally need to get one of the school positions that are open and teasing me.. there are SEVEN positions that I've applied for - all paraprofessional jobs that might mean less money but it would offer an environment that I am perfect for. Pray that I get calls for some interviews there! Yes, I still have a job currently, but things are not looking so hot for the company and it's past time for me to move on. SEVEN is a good number in the bible, I hope it sends me positive energy!

Mailbox Monday is a meme originally from Marcia's Mailbox and is being hosted by Abi @ 4 the LOVE of BOOKS for this month. The Story Siren also hosts IMM, so we can find some cool YA titles there as well.

So as I mentioned last week, an idiot driver took out my mailbox so I've had to go to the glamorous post office to fetch my mail every day. Back when I was growing up on Long Island we had a quaint little receptacle attached to the house which negated all these mailbox issues. Ah, the good old days! Some of the older neighborhoods here in TX still have that old fashioned style of mailboxes, but I wonder if postmen started getting too overheated with all that walking and we all started putting our mailboxes on the street for efficiency's sake. So now my mailbox and steel pole is demolished and my husband will have to have the fortitude to install a new one when he gets the desire to. Meanwhile, it's off to the post office I go. Yay.

Featured eBook Download:

Take A Chance On Me by Susan May Warren 
This book was just begging for me to, ehm, take a chance on as I loved the author's historical Daughters of Fortune series and wanted to see if I would like her contemporary work as well. I splurged on the $1.99 special price.
Darek Christiansen is almost a dream bachelor—oldest son in the large Christiansen clan, heir to their historic Evergreen Lake Resort, and doting father. But he’s also wounded and angry since the tragic death of his wife, Felicity. No woman in Deep Haven dares come near.

New assistant county attorney Ivy Madison simply doesn’t know any better when she bids on Darek at the charity auction. Nor does she know that when she crafted a plea bargain three years ago to keep Jensen Atwood out of jail and in Deep Haven fulfilling community service, she was releasing the man responsible for Felicity’s death. All Ivy knows is that the Christiansens feel like the family she’s always longed for. And once she gets past Darek’s tough exterior, she finds a man she could spend the rest of her life with. Which scares her almost as much as Darek learning of her involvement in his wife’s case.

Caught between new love and old grudges, Darek must decide if he can set aside the past for a future with Ivy—a future more and more at risk as an approaching wildfire threatens to wipe out the Christiansen resort and Deep Haven itself.
For Review ...
Love at Any Cost (The Heart of San Francisco #1) by Julie Lessman - I haven't read any of Lessman's work even though I have all of her titles. I am eager to get started!
Jilted by a fortune hunter, cowgirl Cassidy McClare is a spunky Texas oil heiress without a fortune who would just as soon hogtie a man as look at him. Hoping a summer visit with her wealthy cousins in San Francisco will help her forget her heartache, Cassidy travels west. But no sooner is she settled in beautiful California than Jamie McKenna, a handsome pauper looking to marry well, captures her heart. When Jamie discovers the woman he loves is poorer than he is, Cassidy finds herself bucked by love a second time. Will Jamie discover that money can't buy love after all? And can Cassidy ever learn to fully trust her heart to a man? With delectable descriptions and a romantic sensibility, bestselling author Julie Lessman brings the Gilded Age to life in this sumptuous new series. Readers will faithfully follow Lessman to the West Coast for more romance, passion, and surprising revelations found in "Love at Any Cost."

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

The What Are You Reading meme is hosted by Sheila at Book Journey where we keep track of what we are currently reading and plan to read.

This week on the blog there were two reviews:

David and Bathsheba by Roberta Kells Dorr (read quite awhile ago, but its pub date is early June). This is a reissued novel that I enjoyed enough to want to read Solomon's story which I hope they will reissue as well.

Last week I finally finished the chunky non-fiction read of American Phoenix: John Quincy and Louisa Adams, the War of 1812, and the Exile That Saved American Independence by Jane Hampton Cook and my review is here.

I needed some fast paced reading after that chunky one, and I couldn't have chosen better timing for Karen Witemeyer's newest novel Stealing The Preacher. I DEVOURED it. This book is fantastic for those wanting a preacher in their midst! Not fantastic for those who don't want to hear God's message, but perfect for those of us who do. Now THIS is Christian fiction the way I like it! I had read the novel that precedes this one and I loved it so much I went and bought her previous novels. Now I really can't wait to read them all.

Then I started reading Call Me Zelda by Erika Robuck featuring the famous Fitzgeralds. I have always admired this author's work as her voice rings clear and true, and I know I won't be disappointed with this story.

Coming up I would have to read the above Julie Lessman title for review in the August HistNov mag, and then I will probably start either Firebird by Kearsley or Godiva by Galland. Godiva is an edelweiss copy I've had for awhile, and I just couldn't ever get myself in the mood for it. I don't like reading eGalleys as a general rule, so I wonder if the Godiva one has already expired anyway. I'm not going to care at this point if it's gone either, I am getting a little burned out on the review robot thing anyway =) as I am totally looking forward to some summer reading of my own books, such as Katherine by Anya Seton. If you want to join me in this read, we are planning on reading it as a group over on Goodreads. Feel free to join in. The start date is July, and I know some of you already said you would join in and I am so eager to begin the discussions, that I've already got the topics set up! See you there!

May 24, 2013

David and Bathsheba by Roberta Kells Dorr

Friday, May 24, 2013
The love story that rocked a kingdom

David and Bathseba (Song of Solomon #1) by Roberta Kells Dorr
Biblical fiction
Moody Publishers | River North; New Edition, June 2013
Paperback 320 pages
Review copy provided via publisher on NetGalley, thank you!
Burton Book Review Rating: 4 stars

David and Bathsheba is a spellbinding story of a gifted king and the woman he loved but could not have. Told from Bathsheba’s perspective, author Roberta Kells Dorr bring to life the passion that almost cost David his kingdom and tested a people’s courage and faith in God. “David and Bathsheba” is colored richly with details of Bible-era Israel – from the details of the everyday way of life to details of the Jewish religion. Dorr brilliantly merges reality with folklore as she tells the story of two great characters of the biblical era. The book starts out with Bathsheba as a young girl and David as a strong willed rebellious military leader. It details the way they meet and follows them all the way through their difficulties.

Readers of the bible would recognize the story of King David slayer of giants and how he became acquainted with Bathsheba. It was one of those times that upon reading the Bible I was a bit disgusted at how such a revered man behaved regarding women. Despite that, there is a new interest for me to read biblical novels since I am now through with reading the bible cover to cover for the first time.

Even though the synopsis states this is Bathsheba's point of view, that is not completely true. It is an omniscient narrator that offers a view from many angles, including David's new advisor Ahithopel who is Bathsheba's grandfather. Ahithopel is first portrayed as a wise and logical man, and has the best interests of his family at heart, especially since Bathsheba has lost her father during one of the many religious battles.We also get David's point of view, and his tumultuous relationship with Michal who was Saul's daughter.

There are quite a few battles in the Old Testament, and the one that brings the story of David to life is the victorious battle in Urusalim. Here we also meet Uri, who Ahithopel wants the young Bathsheba to marry. Bathsheba has little say in the matter, and is forced to marry Uri the Hittite whom readers of the bible would recognize as Uriah. There is turmoil during this marriage, and we know eventually that David will see Bathsheba bathing, and the rest is history.

The story of the bible is fleshed out, with views of a few sides. The many wives of David, the family of Bathsheba, and the sons of David all play a part in the story. I felt the central mover and shaker was actually Ahithopel, as it was at his will that major things occurred. While the events of Bathsheba's life are the key events, do not expect to just get her side of the story, because in the end you'll get a full sense of the restless era that contains David and the sad story of his sons Absalom and Amnon, with the hope of righteousness finally settling on young Solomon, the son of David and Bathsheba.

As a reissue from 1980 I was not overly passionate about it at first. Its tone was a bit too matter-of-fact as it offered interesting background information to Bathsheba's family as a child. Towards the latter of the novel I became more entrenched in the story while the author filled in the voids from what we know from David and Bathsheba's lives from the bible. Both the historical details of Israel and the biblical sense were very well presented and I would recommend it to those who have not already read David and Bathsheba's fictionalized story yet.

From what I can tell Solomon's Song was written as a sequel, but I can't tell if that is being reissued yet. Queen of Sheba is being reissued a month after this one, but I would prefer to read the story of Solomon. It is a testament to the good writing of Roberta Kells Dorr that I am already eager to read that story.

May 20, 2013

American Phoenix: John Quincy and Louisa Adams, the War of 1812, and the Exile that Saved American Independence by Jane Hampton Cook

Monday, May 20, 2013

American Phoenix: John Quincy and Louisa Adams, the War of 1812, and the Exile that Saved American Independence by Jane Hampton Cook
Thomas Nelson; May 2013
Hardcover 512 pages
Review copy provided by BookSneeze in exchange for this review, thank you!
Burton Book Review Rating: 4.5 stars
American Phoenix tells the gripping story of John Quincy Adams’s “honorable exile” during the War of 1812 and the harrowing journey of his wife, Louisa, to be reunited with her family.

American diplomat John Quincy Adams and his wife, Louisa, had two things in common with the audacious Napoleon Bonaparte—speaking perfect French and living in exile. American Phoenix reveals the untold true story of Quincy’s unexpected nomination as the top US envoy to Russia in 1809, and Louisa’s agony at being forced to leave their six- and eight-year old boys behind in Boston. Believing that ambition can never repay such sacrifice, she clings to the hope of reuniting with her sons in a year. Pretention, royal dissipation, extreme weather, covert political maneuvers, French interference, private tragedy, and two great wars trap them in St. Petersburg longer than their worst fears. Their personal story is soon swept into the public drama of Napoleon’s war with Russia and America’s war with Great Britain, which ultimately force John Quincy and Louisa to live apart. When Napoleon escapes his exile, his march to reclaim Paris threatens to forever separate John Quincy and Louisa from each other and their children back home.

American Phoenix uncovers the challenges, fears, sorrows, joys, triumphs, and faith that come when life—no matter the era—takes an unexpected journey.

American Phoenix is the story of the political exile that John Quincy and Louisa Adams endured in Russia in 1809-1815. These historical figures wrote many letters and diaries which are now used to help characterize these two iconic figures of American history. But this book is more than just a look at this famous couple, there are other diplomats also in the Imperial courts of the Czar Alexander which is the setting for most of this impressive piece of literature.

Aside from just the important political atmosphere of the times, issues with social customs, trade embargoes, Napoleon and family matters all come together in this non-fiction account of this period that is left out of most children's history books. The nuances of the era are evident as Louisa laments of her lack of funds to suitably dress herself for the dances held at court because when she humbly declines she is facing the ire of the Imperial Mother. Louisa's sister Kitty is with the Adams on this diplomatic trip abroad, and she attracts the attention of the Czar and irks Louisa's sensibilities, illustrating one example of Louisa's own family life.

The author writes, "The long-term repercussions would influence not only John's future as a diplomat but ultimately the success of US trade in Europe and thus practical acceptance of America's sovereignty." This was John Q Adams main purpose in Russia: opening up favorable trade routes despite the enmity between France and England. But who was the USA, anyway? In 1810 America was certainly not an influential country it has since become; the book indicates it was still seen as a part of England no matter how many times the USA sought independence from the British.

The strongest theme in the first half of the book is this commerce and trade issue, which is why Adams was sent to Russia as a diplomat. "There was a pretty strong sentiment against the colonial trade in Paris, because they considered it as all English," a peeved Caulaincourt replied. Napoleon was a major player in this as the Emperor of France and as diplomats began to talk amongst themselves the seeds of discontent regarding Napoleon are planted. We watch Napoleon come and go, and come again, and go again as Adams attempts to avoid costly wars despite the European conflicts, and he hears months later of news from America and the Redcoats invasion.

Alongside John's peacemaking political endeavor, we never forget Louisa, who was forced to leave two of her boys behind in America while she was surrounded by blankets of ice with little hope of communication from her family in America. Since she was fluent in French she was able to converse easily with others in a royal court, and was a respectable and pretty lady. On the inside, she was aching to go home, and the author imparts this sort of depression through the very words of Louisa herself. And this little foray to St. Petersburg wasn't supposed to take quite as long as it did, so as the years iced over during that "honorable" exile she suffered "doubt, guilt, denial, depression and nightmares" as she coped with childbearing and loss.

And of course there is John Quincy, with intriguing facts about the man who was subject to venomous attacks from political foes in America. Yet, while in Russia, later Paris, and later England, he was achieving respectability, even though it was a long and tedious process. But relations with Britain and America were never going to get better unless the British made amends for either kidnapping or killing sailors and injuring others during supposed peace time off the Virginia coast. The book relates all the maneuvers through John's eyes that lead to the wars, with British's invasion of Washington in October 1814 as well as Napoleon's earlier invasion of Russia. The eventual rise of America from the ashes is coincidental (or is it?) with the rise of Adams' respectability, and imparts the symbolism of the title American Phoenix.

As evidenced by this lengthy review (typical of all non-fiction reviews I write) the material was vast and the book shows how well the author researched her topics. I cannot imagine a full biography on the couple; if it came from this author I would expect it to be a few thousand pages! The Adams left us many of their letters and notes that their son helped edit and compile which were used as sources for this work by Jane Hampton Cook but her writing offers much more insight and details surrounding the atmosphere in which the letters were written. By focusing on these important political years, the author was able to exhibit the characteristics of John Quincy and Louisa Adams in such an informative way that we don't miss the "full biography" format and we get an expansive look at the political connections of John Quincy Adams as a representative of America. The author ended the book with the brief summary of their lives after these significant years of the exile, so you will not be left wanting to learn any more that what this book provides for this topic. This book is a fabulous tool to help humanize John Quincy and Louisa Adams as they endured much hardship on behalf of securing America's independence.

I also wanted to add that there were extensive notes and references as opposed to footnotes, thankfully they were at the end of the book as opposed to interfering with the flow of the book. After the notes were the bibliography and index for easy reference material, making this book a keeper for your American history library.

I review for BookSneeze®
Thanks to BookSneeze for a free copy of American Phoenix, in exchange for this honest and long-winded review. I felt I owed it to my country. *wink*

May 19, 2013

TSS | Mailbox Monday | Group Reads Info | FTC Mindgames

Sunday, May 19, 2013
The Sunday   
Visit Svea's blog at The Muse in The Fog Book Review to start linking up your Sunday posts; Suddenly Sunday is a weekly event hosted by Svea whose purpose is to share all the exciting events that have occurred on your blog throughout the week.

Spring was here, right? Was it? It's already hit over 90 degrees here in Texas, and meanwhile not too long ago I was wearing turtlenecks. Despite the heat, I took my kiddos out to the local Founder's Day Festival (150 years old Rockwall is) and we had some fun shopping and eating and hanging out with Radio Disney yesterday.

Exciting Events:
Go find yourself a used copy of that classic 1954 novel Katherine by Anya Seton, and come join us for a July Group Read. Information is here at the Goodreads Classic HF Group.

We have also just begun the Bible Study Plan of Major People. This plan will span 89 days but consists of 65 weekday daily chapters, leaving the weekends available for further study. You can follow along here, stragglers are allowed to participate at any time.

Instead of doing Armchair BEA this year I am going to do a giveaway here on the blog. I had tons of fun last year participating and I met new people, but I never really conversed with those folks again and I don't really have the time to devote to it this year.. so I am going to stick with my followers here and host some giveaways here without going through the 'Armchair' motions, lol. But, if you are a YA blogger, the Armchair BEA has tons of participants from that niche, and I definitely would recommend it to the YA followers! HINT subscribe by email, and find BBR on facebook to get more entries for the upcoming giveaways. I'll be pulling some books from the shelves that will be some general literature and christian historical fiction. My library is getting too insane for me to handle and I wouldn't mind sharing it with you!

Reviews on the blog this week: 

Old News that was New news to me, and as such I wanted to share:
 I created a little post about the FTC. It spread like wildfire on twitter as some strongly feel the FTC  has nothing to do with book blogging. It increased my hits tremendously, how awesome is that? Within the span of an hour there were 100 pageviews on that post alone. There is some disagreement over the term book blogger versus advertiser versus reviewer versus journalist versus writer versus marketer.. Some bloggers feel like they are blogging, some feel like they are promoting. I do feel like a review robot because all the reviews I do are 'expected' to be posted at a certain time. If I am on someone else's schedule like I have been for the last four years of reviewing, I do feel like an advertiser, albeit in a bloggy sort of way. Anyway, here's my quick turn around of a sort of rebuttal post to my own post, as I didn't want everyone to start taking my editorial as gospel (gasp!).

Who is the expert on this? No one. No matter what title you give yourself, from blogger to reviewer to writer to professional reader to professional reviewer etc etc each of us are entitled to post our feelings and that is what I did. I posted a letter to the FTC also to see if they would ever clarify their guidelines towards book bloggers. Because I DO want to know. Because of the quantity of varying and passionate opinions, we need some sort of fact from the actual source: the FTC.

Look how my traffic for the day spiked with the FTC post!! 117 views in about an hour. Woohoo! But my post sparked conversation and enlightenment throughout the blogosphere, and for that I'm eternally grateful. If I get a response to that letter, y'all will be the first to know (not counting on it)!

Most important lesson learned from all of this is that there is a need for more beneficial and helpful conversation about these matters that mean the most to us. Bloggers are supposed to stick together, because one of the biggest things bloggers mention about why they enjoy blogging is the camaraderie and helpfulness from virtual strangers within the blogging community. Let's not lose sight of that as we try to establish an amicable standard of book blogging in regards to free review books.

Mailbox Monday is a meme originally from Marcia's Mailbox and is being hosted by Abi @ 4 the LOVE of BOOKS for this month. The Story Siren also hosts IMM, so we can find some cool YA titles there as well.

Starting Monday I'm going to have to rename this meme "books I had to pick up at my post office". Some douchebag drunken fool smashed into my mailbox and tore out the steel pole as well (this is going to be fun to repair) and also tore down the neighbor's box and pole also. Idiots! I was pleased to see they left some car parts behind, and I hope it costs them tons of money to fix. Since they didn't land in the ditch by the neighbor's driveway, and judging from the damage done, I think it was a truck that came through. Texans love their pickup trucks and unfortunately the speed limit is 50 since it's a rural area. Grr. 

From Paperbackswap:

The Lady of Bolton Hill by Elizabeth Camden - I had read Camden's Against The Tide (review) not too long ago and really enjoyed it. It was a bit of a mix of christian fiction, romance, history and suspense..looking forward to this one which is actually the one that comes before Against The Tide, which is a 2013 Christy Award Nominee.

When Clara Endicott and Daniel Tremain's worlds collide after twelve years apart, the spark that was once between them immediately reignites into a romance neither of them thought possible.
But time has changed them both.
Daniel is an industrial titan with powerful enemies. Clara is an idealistic journalist determined to defend underprivileged workers.
Can they withstand the cost of their convictions while their hearts--and lives--hang in the balance?

eBook Download:

Heroes and Monsters: An Honest Look at the Struggle Within All of Us by Josh Riebock
Heroes and Monsters is an unforgettable memoir of passion and redemption, a ragged look into a world at once wildly twisted and profoundly beautiful, an exposé of both the hero and the monster within all of us.In this stunningly honest, thoroughly unconventional, and ultimately hopeful book, Josh James Riebock explores issues that form us into the people we are--issues of family, love, intimacy, dreams, grief, purpose, and the unexpected stops along the journey. With artful prose and vivid storytelling, he shows that pain and beauty are so inextricably linked that to lose the former costs us the latter. If you're grappling with life's inconsistencies and trials, If you're searching for an encounter with something real, If you're craving a story that's just a wee bit odd . . .Heroes and Monsters is a fresh and exhilarating perspective on the uneven nature of life, and the equally uneven people who inhabit it.

Portraits of Integrity: Real People Who Demonstrated Godly Character Volume 2 by Marilyn Boyer, Grace Tumas
Volume II of Portraits of Integrity brings your family another double dose of inspiration for greatness. Highlighting some prominent heroes from various periods of history, this book introduces you to:
--Nate Saint, the missionary pilot who, with four other brave men, gave his life in the effort to bring the Gospel to the Auca Indians of South America
--World War I hero, Sergeant Alvin York who single-handedly captured thirty-eight enemy machine guns and 132 prisoners
--Nathan Hale, George Washington's daring young spy who boldly entered British territory on a mission and when caught and about to be hung, spoke his last words: "I only regret that I have but one lift to lose for my country."
- Captain Eddie Simpson, the World War II pilot who, having survived the crash of his plane behind enemy lines then declined to escape, choosing instead to sacrifice his life for those of French Resistance fighters, delaying the advancing Germans long enough to make their escape
And much more!
Portraits of Integrity, Volume II is another exciting collection of true stories that will inspire your family members to strive for the heights of worthy character.

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

The What Are You Reading meme is hosted by Sheila at Book Journey where we keep track of what we are currently reading and plan to read.

Currently Reading:

I've been reading the chunkster of a non-fiction book on an American icon John Quincy Adams and actually just completed it late last night. I learned a lot about politics of the 1810 decade, and the events that lead to the War of 1812. Mostly I've read quaint little Regency style type romps that would be in this decade, and this is quite far from that ideal. America is struggling to assert herself as a country, and John Quincy Adams is over in Russia trying to persuade Czar Alexander (who may or may not have helped murder his father) to help the commerce and trade routes. American ships were being seized by the British, Napoleon was seizing our cargo, and Russia was our ally. But this is also the story of his wife, Louisa, who was forced to join Mr. Adams on his political exile to Russia. It's took FOREVER (ten days) to read because of the details and it is all new material for me, but I still recommend it.

Up Next:
Same as last week, just try to survive:
Quite a few titles in the pile, including Call Me Zelda, Stealing the Preacher, Firebird by Kearsley, Godiva by Galland, Wildish by Parry. It would be nice if I could get all these done before the July Group Read of Katherine by Anya Seton. Wishful thinking, I know. I have so many pressures in real life right now, blogging about books is kinda like not exactly high on the priorities list as I pray for the tornado victims not too far from me, and I wonder why I bother blogging anyway. Oh yeah, it's cuz some of my most awesome followers would miss me and I thank them for their love and support! Have a happy happy week, everyone! =)

May 17, 2013

Josiah's Treasure by Nancy Herriman

Friday, May 17, 2013
There are many kinds of treasures..
Josiah's Treasure by Nancy Herriman
Worthy Publishing, April 2013
Historical Romance/Somewhat inspirational
Review copy provided by the publisher for review in the May 2013 Historical Novel Society magazine
Burton Book Review Rating: 4 stars

Read my review of Herriman's previous novel, The Irish Healer

In 1882 Sarah Whittier dreams of opening an art studio run by immigrant women. She plans to use the house left to her by family friend Josiah Cady as collateral for her studio. But will all be lost when the inheritance is challenged by an angry man claiming to be Josiah’s son and legal heir? Rumor of gold nuggets hidden in the house place Sarah’s life in danger. Her future uncertain and her safety threatened, Sarah has nowhere to turn. That is, unless she can soften a vengeful man’s heart – and they both learn that love is finer than any gold.

Don't let the amateurish cover image dissuade you from this inspirational romance from Nancy Herriman. Set in San Francisco in 1882 we are introduced to Sarah as she is coping with the loss of a close friend and benefactor. She is grateful for the inheritance that Josiah has left her, and has made plans with that money which goes towards securing her future as well as other young ladies. Unforeseen changes occur when Josiah's long-lost son, Daniel, shows up from Chicago to claim Josiah's purportedly hidden treasure of gold, along with claiming his rights as heir to Josiah's estate.

Seedy sides of San Francisco lace the chilly atmosphere once the rumors of Josiah's treasure circulate and put Sarah in danger. Readers watch the characters develop just as we are trying to find out both the history behind Josiah's reasons for abandoning his family and discerning the past that Sarah has tried so hard to erase. Daniel and Sarah are admirable characters each trying to make their futures brighter for others as well as themselves, but they each need Josiah's inheritance to achieve their goals. Herriman's story weaves an unpredictable suspense factor in with the light romance, and there is just a small thread of the usual faith questions threaded throughout, making Herriman's newest novel a gratifying reading experience.
Read the first chapter of Josiah's Treasure here.

May 15, 2013

Public Information Post regarding the FTC!!

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

I created a little post about the FTC just a little while ago, and it spread like wildfire and increased my hits tremendously, how awesome is that? Within the span of an hour there were 100 pageviews on that post alone because on twitter there was some disagreement over the term book blogger versus advertiser versus reviewer. Jenn's Bookshelves said not to worry at all, as this is not related to book reviewers - so I had to create this public service announcement!!!

added 5/31/13:
At this point, after the FTC has responded to my query, and after the BEA 2013, it is indeed agreed that bloggers/reviewers are technically endorsers regardless if you feel you should have another title or not. Jenn's Bookshelves was at an Ethics Conference and her tweets reiterated my original thoughts. I am glad we had the benefit of Jenn going to the conference so that she could live tweet her findings. She hasn't had a chance to create her own post from them, but here is a snap of some of the tweets:
click the image for more of the conversation

Also, from the FTC response they mailed to me, the bottom line is that the FTC is not targeting bloggers nor are they monitoring bloggers, and they do not have fines in place for violations of these guidelines. They will investigate reports of consumer fraud and deception however, as they will monitor the advertisers/promoters/publicists/authors who ask us to review their work for them. Their goal is to make the bigger companies aware of their guidelines so that those promoters will do their due diligence and ask us as a policy to always state our source of the book/product being reviewed. Another twitter conversation I had was the fact that AUTHORS themselves need to be aware of these Ethics and Guidelines and also request their reviewer to state what their relationship is between the reviewer and the author. ARCs/EGalleys/NetGalley that are 'given back'/not kept as a monetary value are still subject to these guidelines because as a reviewer/blogger we still have an advantage over the average reader for receiving free access to these products where your neighbor may not have been given this same chance.

The rest of the text here is the original post and I have not deleted anything I have previously posted in my rants, but remember we now have answers to our questions, such as bloggers are indeed endorsers.

Before pandemonium ensues because of my alarmist nature, I want to make sure that everyone who possibly has decided to give up their reviewing career because of my post - egads, please reconsider!!!

On the FTC website you can search for 'book blog' and nothing - nada - comes up. So does the FTC care about book bloggers at all? What's all the fuss then, right?

 (Except all the publicity companies I review for state : "To comply with new regulations introduced by the Federal Trade Commission, please mention as part of every Web or retail site review that the publisher has provided you with a complimentary copy of this book or advanced reading copy through __"). or 
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com <http://BookSneeze®.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Checking out the Twitter feed from some of bloggers concerning this FTC dot com thing: "I see reviews as reviews, not advertisements." So who knows who is right and who is wrong, (edit: see above text in red) but obviously there is zero need to panic about how you run your blog! As I initially said, it's interpretation of the law and for the past year I have indeed considered myself a review robot and have complained about it many times that I really feel like I have somehow found myself in a marketing business that is unpaid! There's the kicker, it's UNPAID! So the FTC Guidelines wouldn't apply to us? And no, all my books are not only galleys. I do receive actual copies at times that are able to be sold, traded in or gifted, so that is indeed compensation. Or isn't it? I just got a horrible book yesterday in the mail that I would not want in my house, so it's going on Paperbackswap! Credits for me!

I am thinking perhaps it is time to move away from my reviewing and write more of those posts to increase traffic to my blog! It will help hone my writing technique, and also increase traffic, and perhaps with your comments you can educate me on these finer points of book blogging! (Did you know that I want to be a writer one day? I wonder, does writing blog posts make me a writer? What's the consensus on this?)

On another note, these conversational posts always attract the most comments. While my reviews may get tons of hits, the comments are where we interact with each other and have fun with each other. That is what I LOVE about the book blogging community, they are so warm and fuzzy and so helpful. On twitter, there were many reactions to my FTC post, especially the ones where they are talking about misinformation. Editorial and opinions are my interpretations, maybe I could start writing for Huffington Post... this reminds me of when an author there posted an article about touring around the blogosphere and he was so displeased with how bloggers write. He got tons of hits there, and I bet you tons of folks took a look at that book he was marketing.

Do you get the most comments on your review posts or on your opinion/free-style posts? Oh and another question I've had.. there is this term floating around, I think it originated with NetGalley's how-to handbook actually...

"Professional Reader"... is this a term that as a reviewer you apply to yourself? Is there such a thing as a professional reviewer if you are NOT paid an hourly wage to review?

FTC Dot Com Guidelines

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Some say this Guide was not made for book bloggers - this was made for Advertisers. Are book bloggers advertisers? I certainly feel like I am a review robot, so in a sense, I feel like I am marketing a book when I am participating in blog tours etc.

Here is an updated post I created as a PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT in response to the talk of twitter land.

Back in March 2013 (where was I?) those pesky fellows at the FTC created a new PDF outlining the use of Social Media tactics and links etc for those of us who review. Basically, not only do we have to increase the font of our fine print for disclosures (as in those who have them at the bottom of their posts) this does not suffice the requirements for the FTC. And having a button somewhere on your site to your disclosure aka policy doesn't work either. You must be upfront (meaning at the top of your post) and state where you received the item from to distinguish if you were compensated for the post in any way (coupons, virtual points redeemable for something in the future, galleys, ARCs) and it must be "clear and conspicuous" before we get to "distracting" hyperlinks or gimmicks.

Most importantly, it wants that source to be stated BEFORE any links to "buy here" are able to be clicked. The FTC also specifically stated that NO SCROLLING should be required when a viewer is looking at your reviewed product, your readers must be able to see within that screen that you have received that item for free. They also went into affiliate marketing and how to handle those links *bangs head on desk*, but since I do not do that I didn't read too much about that quagmire.

Many book bloggers like myself already state fairly close to/underneath the book's image and information where the review book came from. So the true revelations in 2013 Guidelines aren't too bad - until you get to the way you tweet, facebook, Google Plus about the books you have read and reviewed. *bangs head on desk*

These social media posts/tweets which state anything positive in nature about an item you have received for free must also include in the beginning of that status update/tweet the 'Ad' or 'Sponsor' notation. That twitter follower of yours MUST understand before they click your link that you are marketing an item that you have been compensated for in some way, either via the ARC, galley, or perhaps an exclusive spot on a review list.*bangs head on desk*

As I discussed this on facebook, most bloggers were perturbed *as am I*, but then again most also felt that the FTC wouldn't target THEM in particular, we're the little guy, etc and so why should I care so much? It's not like the book bloggers are similar to the product review bloggers such as Mommy Bloggers, who seem to get free makeup, toys, strollers, kitchenware etc. Why go after book bloggers?

I care because these are Rules. There is a social etiquette being put in place, and as much as I despise the government getting in the way of our personal blogging, if one person feels compelled to follow the law, I feel others should, too. Those who break the rules get an unfair advantage, so to speak. That's my current opinion, and as a blogger I'm entitled to it. But then again, I wonder, is this FTC Dot Com Guideline thing an actual LAW? Yes, it states that it is, and that it covers virtually every sector in the economy. If we fail to follow the guidelines, the FTC will find ways to enforce it: "the Commission might bring an enforcement action alleging an unfair or deceptive practice in violation of the FTC Act".

But it also went into how this applies to endorsing a product... which means positive reviews.. so if it's a somewhat critical negative review, then I guess that means we can ignore all these little rules..
Which opens up a whole other can of worms into what star rating would officially mean somewhat not positive, bwahahaha!!
"Three stars is good!"
"No way, that's a low rating in my opinion!"
"That means it was just okay, so is that good or bad?
*bangs head on desk*"
"What about 3.5 stars?"
*bangs head on desk*


And what about the flurry of BEST OF 2013 posts we will see at the end of the year? Doesn't that IMPLY in itself a positive reaction to a book? And what if one of those books on the list was a review title? All our tweets and FB posts have to say "AD: Best of 2013 at BBR!"  or even snazzier: "Sponsored: Best of 2013 at BBR!" *bangs head on desk*

Another tricky question, for those sites who are virtual tour companies, blogging for books type campaigns or review sites such as HNS or even Kirkus Reviews etc.: Shouldn't those companies also be showing the word AD everywhere when they repeat a positive line from a review? Why is the FTC targeting the specific blogger, and not starting at the top and making the publicity companies comply first? Why does the little person have to be the one to do everything? But the Canadian bloggers were thrilled to not have to be subject to the FTC regulations. Canada is looking better and better every day! Je m'appelle Marie, et vous?

*gets ice pack and Excedrin.*

Edit to add: I was not compensated for this review of the Guidelines in any way. Do comments on my blog count as compensation?

Edit to add: I am not a lawyer and this is merely a raving lunatic editorial/opinion post .

Edit to Add: Again this is all interpretation. Would love a specific guide on what the FTC means to address towards book blogging. You can carry on as you will. =)

This post was created on 5/15/2013.
I am adding the following on 5/31/2013 for continuity's sake:
But truly, all of this discussion was done in snarky fun. The bottom line is we all need to have a sense of ethics, and agree that endorsing products and books regardless of what title you give to yourself, you need to state your source. That was the response I got from the FTC, and that was the talk of the BEA 2013 as well. Everything stated above is true, but the hypothetical situations were of course Over The Top Examples where I was using my intelligence to point out how some things can get a little out of hand and to the extreme. (Case in point, how this post went viral and those who don't know my snarky character created pandemonium on twitter before investigating the context of the post).

May 14, 2013

In Times of Fading Light: A Novel by Eugen Ruge

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

An "Online Exclusive" plus more!

In Times of Fading Light: A Novel by Eugen Ruge
Graywolf Press, June 11, 2013
Literary Fiction, 328 pages
Review copy provided from the publisher via Historical Novel Society for their Online Exclusive, this review expands on that linked review.
Burton Book Review Rating: 3 stars
Enthrallingly expansive in its geographical and temporal sweep, this story of a German family tells of years spent in exile, of the revolution of 1989 and beyond. The masterful narrative makes halt in Mexico, Siberia and East Berlin, climbing the summits and charting the abysses of the 20th century along the way. The result is both a stunning panorama and a monumental German novel that makes history itself tangible through the history of one family. A novel of immense stature, founded on its humanity, its precision and its humour.

In Times of Fading Light focuses on three generations. The grandparents, still convinced Communists, return to the fledging East Germany at the beginning of the 1950s to do their part in establishing the new state. Their son returns from the other direction, having emigrated to Moscow and found himself banished to Siberia. He returns with his Russian wife to a country mired in petit bourgeois values, yet also brings with him an unwavering belief that they can be changed. The grandson, meanwhile, feels increasingly constricted in a heimat that was not of his choosing, and heads to the West on the very day that his grandfather, the family patriarch, turns 90. The glittering lights of a political utopia that once shone enticingly seem to be gradually fading as time wears unwaveringly on.

Eugen Ruge's newly translated literary novel  lets the reader experience the atmosphere of the political upheaval of Germany's families while interspersing somewhat sarcastic reflections of their way of life. Following multiple characters during multiple time periods, the novel has a reminiscent quality to it as we explore the characters through different viewpoints. On display is a resilient family that slowly reveals their fractures through their personal despair and struggles of alcoholism, cancer, and marriage as we flip through the 1940's, 1990's and 2001.

Wilhelm and Charlotte the communists, their son Kurt the smart one with the weak writer's hands, Kurt and Irina's son Alexander the drifter, and Alexander's son Markus the screwed up kid, all come and go just as the fragments of the time lines come and go. Each family member seems disappointed in the next family member, and through all the jumping of timelines we know some of the story before we technically get to it, as with the major event of Wilhelm's ninetieth birthday party. Everyone is expected to attend this grand event, and before we get to this major event of the story there is a back and forth that is somewhat difficult to keep track of.

The novel starts off with Alexander tending his elderly father Kurt when we learn Alexander is struggling to accept his own diagnosis of inoperable cancer. Here he finds letters and notes from Kurt which resurface at the end of the novel, but not to the degree this reader would have liked. Kurt's father Wilhelm is overly proud of himself and his Communist views, but there is a bit more history of his immediate family that is missing yet alluded to.

The narration shifts from Kurt and Irina, to Wilhelm and Charlotte, and to Alexander and his son as we anticipate an epic ninetieth birthday party for Wilhelm. I would have liked to know what really happened during that Nazi era to Kurt and his brother besides prison but we must fill in the blanks ourselves. Wilhelm is utterly disappointed in his life and he wonders what was the point of it all as the Wall comes down, and yet Kurt wonders too (eighty million people dead!) so we witness the search for identity all set against different backdrops of Germany's society- deftly showing the parallels of the generations - and we realize dejectedly that it is all the same thing in the end. The novel reads as if we were flipping through clippings of the characters’ memories so that we can relate to them all, but the constant jumping to another person and time frame is jarring. The writing itself is clear and precise, honest and blunt, but I question the change of tense in the last chapter. Some situations were a bit crude, but fleshes out the novel as it grasps the demons of reality for this family.

May 12, 2013


Sunday, May 12, 2013
The Sunday   
Visit Svea's blog at The Muse in The Fog Book Review to link up your Sunday posts; Suddenly Sunday is a weekly event hosted by Svea whose purpose is to share all the exciting events that have occurred on your blog throughout the week.

Happy Mother's Day!

This week on the blog I reviewed:

The Bastard King by Jean Plaidy (Absolutely fantastic novel as expected, portrays William the Conqueror). I recommend this title for those readers who have enjoyed the recent release of Patricia Bracewell's Shadow on The Crown. I loved it so much I blazed through it leaving my fellow group readers behind in the dust. It had been way too long that I've neglected Jean Plaidy, and I must I must I must find time to read more of her work.

What A Mother Knows by Leslie Lehr

This was a nice change of pace for me; a blend of mystery & suspense as a mom finally wakes up from a coma and finds her world had changed around her. Her husband is distant, people are hiding things from her yet they are quick to judge her. Her daughter has gone missing but it seems no one else cares about that fact. I had chosen this as a sort of tribute to Mother's Day as it displays the bond between mother and child quite well.

Mailbox Monday is a meme originally from Marcia's Mailbox and is being hosted by Abi @ 4 the LOVE of BOOKS for this month. The Story Siren also hosts IMM, so we can find some cool YA titles there as well.

May 7, 2013
Call Me Zelda by Erika Robuck.. I am the biggest fan girl of Erika, I totally drooled over Hemingway's Girl and I pulled a big I-told-you-so moment when I reviewed Receive Me Falling over three years ago. Well, I still told you so. Looking forward to this one. Read my review of Receive Me Falling and then go buy it for kindle at $2.99.

From the author of Hemingway’s Girl comes a richly imagined tale of Zelda Fitzgerald’s love, longing, and struggle against ever-threatening insanity.

From New York to Paris, Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald reigned as king and queen of the Jazz Age, but those who really knew them saw their inner turmoil.

Committed to a Baltimore psychiatric hospital in 1932, Zelda vacillates between lucidity and madness as she fights to forge an identity independent of her famous husband. She discovers a sympathetic ear in her nurse Anna Howard, who finds herself drawn into the Fitzgerald’s tumultuous lives and wonders which of them is the true genius. But in taking greater emotional risks to save Zelda, Anna may end up paying a far higher price than she ever intended.

In this thoroughly researched, deeply moving novel, Erika Robuck explores the boundaries of female friendship, the complexity of marital devotion, and the sources of both art and madness.
A Certain Summer by Patricia Beard
"Nothing ever changes at Wauregan.” That mystique is the tradition of the idyllic island colony off the shore of Long Island, the comforting tradition that its summer dwellers have lived by for over half a century. But in the summer of 1948, after a world war has claimed countless men—even those who came home—the time has come to deal with history’s indelible scars.
Helen Wadsworth’s husband, Arthur, was declared missing in action during an OSS operation in France, but the official explanation was mysteriously nebulous. Now raising a teenage son who longs to know the truth about his father, Helen turns to Frank Hartman—her husband’s best friend and his partner on the mission when he disappeared. Frank, however, seems more intent on filling the void in Helen’s life that Arthur’s absence has left. As Helen’s affection for Frank grows, so does her guilt, especially when Peter Gavin, a handsome Marine who was brutally tortured by the Japanese and has returned with a faithful war dog, unexpectedly stirs new desires. With her heart pulled in multiple directions, Helen doesn’t know whom to trust—especially when a shocking discovery forever alters her perception of both love and war. 
Stealing The Preacher by Karen Witemeyer (book 2 in the Archer Brothers series!)

On his way to interview for a position at a church in the Piney Woods of Texas, Crockett Archer can scarcely believe it when he's forced off the train by a retired outlaw and presented to the man's daughter as the minister she requested for her birthday. Worried this unfortunate detour will ruin his chances of finally serving a congregation of his own, Crockett is determined to escape. But when he finally gets away, he's haunted by the memory of the young woman he left behind--a woman whose dreams now hinge on him.
 For months, Joanna Robbins prayed for a preacher. A man to breathe life back into the abandoned church at the heart of her community. A man to assist her in fulfilling a promise to her dying mother. A man to help her discover answers to the questions that have been on her heart for so long. But just when it seems God has answered her prayers, it turns out the person is there against his will and has dreams of his own calling him elsewhere. Is there any way she can convince Crockett to stay in her little backwoods community? And does the attraction between them have any chance of blossoming when Joanna's outlaw father is dead set against his daughter courting a preacher?

Featured eBook Download

Desired: The Untold Story of Samson and Delilah by Ginger Garrett

Meet the legendary Samson as you've never known him before … through the eyes of the three women who loved him.

Before Samson was an Old Testament legend, he was a prodigal son, an inexperienced suitor, a vengeful husband, and a lost soul driven by his own weakness. This is his story as told by three strong women who loved him—the nagging, manipulative mother who pushed him toward greatness, the hapless Philistine bride whose betrayal propelled him into notoriety, and the emotionally damaged seductress—the famous Delilah—who engineered his downfall and propelled him to his destiny. Desired celebrates the God of Israel's to work powerfully in the midst of hopes, fears, desires, and sorrows.

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?
The What Are You Reading meme is hosted by Sheila at Book Journey where we keep track of what we are currently reading and plan to read.

One of these I recommend, the other I don't.:

This week I finished Death and the Courtesan by Pamela Christie and The Bastard King by Jean Plaidy. Unfortunately I had read The Bastard King first and became enthralled/accustomed to Plaidy's fabulous classy prose, and so jumping into a sexually charged lighthearted silly mystery within Death and the Courtesan was not such a fantastic idea. Slightly arduous and I was so pleased that it was short in length. The review will have to hold till August however for the HNR magazine.

Currently Reading:
That meant it was time to move on to something a bit more enlightening/rewarding:
American Phoenix: John Quincy and Louisa Adams, the War of 1812, and the Exile That Saved American Independence by Jane Hampton Cook
This is a very intriguing chunky non-fiction book featuring John Quincy and Louisa Adams. I have been meaning to pry myself away from British history and learn more about American history, and this is perfect for that. Featuring the War of 1812 and the Adams' 'political exile' to Europe (which was news to me), the author is using the couple's extensive diary collection to bring these two historical figures to life, and I am enjoying the writing style very much.

The next bible online study plan is starting tomorrow - it is the 89 Day Plan (weekends off for catch up if needed) which will focus on Major People. Sign up here to read along with the group, it is open to everyone.

Up Next
Quite a few titles in the pile, including Call Me Zelda, Stealing the Preacher, Firebird by Kearsley, Godiva by Galland, Wildish by Parry. It would be nice if I could get all these done before the July Group Read of Katherine by Anya Seton. Wishful thinking, I know. I have so many pressures in real life right now, blogging about books is kinda like not exactly high on the priorities list but as usual it does keep me sane as a hobby in its own annoying sort of way.