Monday, May 31, 2010

Giveaway!!! Claude and Camille by Stephanie Cowell

I have a brand new copy of Claude and Camille available for one lucky winner! This beautiful story, about one of the most renowned painters of the impressionism era, is not to be missed! To learn more about this lovely novel, you can read my review and Stephanie's guest post here: 
Claude and Camille review & guest post



Synopsis: (From the Publisher)
Sometimes he dreamt he held her; that he would turn in bed and she would be there. But she was gone and he was old. Nearly seventy. Only cool paint met his fingers. “Ma très chère . . .” Darkness started to fall, dimming the paintings. He felt the crumpled letter in his pocket. “I loved you so,” he said. “I never would have had it turn out as it did. You were with all of us when we began, you gave us courage. These gardens at Giverny are for you but I’m old and you’re forever young and will never see them. . . .” 

In the mid-nineteenth century, a young man named Claude Monet decided that he would rather endure a difficult life painting landscapes than take over his father’s nautical supplies business in a French seaside town. Against his father’s will, and with nothing but a dream and an insatiable urge to create a new style of art that repudiated the Classical Realism of the time, he set off for Paris.

But once there he is confronted with obstacles: an art world that refused to validate his style, extreme poverty, and a war that led him away from his home and friends. But there were bright spots as well: his deep, enduring friendships with men named Renoir, Cézanne, Pissarro, Manet – a group that together would come to be known as the Impressionists, and that supported each other through the difficult years. But even more illuminating was his lifelong love, Camille Doncieux, a beautiful, upper-class Parisian girl who threw away her privileged life to be by the side of the defiant painter and embrace the lively Bohemian life of their time.

His muse, his best friend, his passionate lover, and the mother to his two children, Camille stayed with Monet—and believed in his work—even as they lived in wretched rooms, were sometimes kicked out of those, and often suffered the indignities of destitution. She comforted him during his frequent emotional torments, even when he would leave her for long periods to go off on his own to paint in the countryside.

But Camille had her own demons – secrets that Monet could never penetrate, including one that when eventually revealed would pain him so deeply that he would never fully recover from its impact. For though Camille never once stopped loving the painter with her entire being, she was not immune to the loneliness that often came with being his partner.

A vividly-rendered portrait of both the rise of Impressionism and of the artist at the center of the movement,Claude and Camille is above all a love story of the highest romantic order.







Giveaway Guidelines:


~10 possible entries~

+1 entry for posting a comment and leaving your e-mail. (no e-mail = no entry)
+5 entries for becoming a Follower, or already being a Follower.
+ 3 entries for posting about this giveaway on your blog or adding a link for it on your sidebar. (please post link with your comment)
+ 1 entry for tweeting about this giveaway. (please post link with your comment)



~Please post all your entries in one comment, thanks :)
~This auction will be open to USA residents only.
~Ends June 28th~


Good Luck everyone!!!

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Suddenly Sunday

Since The Sunday Salon is closed to new members, I have created my own weekly event of Suddenly Sunday! Feel free to join in the fun, just link back to this blog :)
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Hi everyone! I hope you all have been having a fabulous weekend and are enjoying any memorial day celebrations you might be apart of :) After a few random days of thunder storms, it seems summer is finally here. I am definitely looking forward to a summer of reading and writing outside! Here are a few things going on here at Confessions and Ramblings of a Muse in the Fog:
The winner for The Queen's Pawn by Christy English is: 
Luvdaylilies
Congratulations! I will be sending you an e-mail shortly to obtain your information, please respond as soon as possible :) Thank you to everyone who participated in this giveaway! Be sure to check back later this week for another great giveaway!!!
This week in my mailbox, for review:

I just finished my first Jean Pilady novel (what took me so ling to read her work?!)  The review will be coming up this week :) I also have a couple more reviews with some great guest posts too!


Have a great week & happy reading!


Friday, May 28, 2010

Friday Finds at the Bookstore: Bedlam, The Furthur Secret Adventures of Charlotte Bronte by Laura Joh Rowland

Publish date: May 2010
Format: Hardcover 352pp

Synopsis: (From the Publusher)
Following the notable debut of The Secret Adventures of Charlotte Brontë, beloved author Laura Joh Rowland offers her legions of fans the next installment in the Charlotte Brontë mystery series... with more to come. On her last escapade, Charlotte unintentionally witnessed a murder and found herself embroiled in a dangerous chain of events. Now, Charlotte returns in a stunning sequel that takes the reader into the most sinister institution in London: Bedlam.

With the death of her siblings and far from home, Charlotte has few people to trust. Struggling with romantic entanglements and her stressful rise to prominence on the literary scene, she is more alone than ever. On a visit to London, Charlotte goes on a tour of London's most famous hospital for the mad, Bedlam. She is sure she recognizes a struggling Mr. Slade, her long-missing ex-lover, strapped to one of the stretchers. Charlotte starts digging, and soon finds herself trying to reveal a secret that high-powered men would (and do) kill to protect. It is up to Charlotte to find the truth and expose a plot of global proportion. But what if the conspirators get to her first?


Friday, May 21, 2010

New UK Release: Virgin Widow by Anne O'Brien

Publish date UK: May 21, 2010
Publish date USA: November 2010

Synopsis: (From the Publisher)
This title is about England's forgotten Queen. England, 1469. A daughter of Warwick the Kingmaker, Anne Neville cannot dictate her own future. Her marriage will be political, made purely to advance her family's interests. But at the age of fourteen, her father's treason forces her into exile, and into an uneasy betrothal with Edward of Lancaster. Edward is changeable and completely controlled by his powerful mother, Margaret of Anjou. In a hostile, impoverished court, Anne finds herself at the mercy of other's whims. On her wedding night, the audience assembled to witness her bedding instead witnesses a royal humiliation. At the point of consummation, Queen Margaret forbids the act. Anne went to her husband's bed a virgin, and she will remain so. The battle for the crown of England rages, and Anne's husband must fight for his cause. But he is foully done to death by Richard, Duke of Gloucester - a man who twice before has been betrothed to Anne. Anne must decide where her loyalties lie. And during the reign of King Edward, the wrong decision could mean death.


Thursday, May 20, 2010

Book Review: The Brothers of Gwynedd by Edith Pargeter (Book One ~ Sunrise in the West)


Synopsis: (From the Publisher)
A Burning Desire for One Country, One Love, and One Legacy That Will Last Forever.

Llewelyn, prince of Gwynedd, dreams of a Wales united against the English, but first he must combat enemies nearer home. Llewelyn and his brothers—Owen Goch, Rhodri, and David—vie for power among themselves and with the English king, Henry III. Despite the support of his beloved wife, Eleanor, Llewelyn finds himself trapped in a situation where the only solution could be his very downfall...

Originally published in England as four individual novels, The Brothers of Gwyneddtransports you to a world of chivalry, gallant heroes, and imprisoned damsels; to star-crossed lovers and glorious battle scenes; and is Edith Pargeter’s absorbing tale of tragedy, traitors, and triumph of the heart.

My Review:

I am pleased to be apart of this "Summer Reading Group" that been so thoughtfully put together by Sourcebooks. Our feature book for this group is, The Brothers of Gwynedd, A Quartet by Edith Pargeter. Since the book was originally published as four separate books, we will be reviewing one book a month throughout the summer!

Book One, Sunrise in the West, focused on setting the stage for what looks to be a tale of turmoil, passion and treachery. Told from the perspective of Samson, a man with strong connections to the Gwynedd brothers, we learn who is who and the ambitions of those in power. 

At a very young age, it seems Samson is connected to Llewelyn, son of the great prince, in a vast amount of ways. These two friends are torn apart during their youths and sent their separate ways, only to find one another again by random twists of fate. Now as a grown man, Samson gives his loyalty to Llewelyn and follows him through every battle and hardship. 

As the Gwynedd brothers are set against each other, driven by greed and ambition, Wales is constantly at war with itself. After years of upheaval and uncertainty, Llewelyn accepts his brothers vow of fealty, but can a brother so easily turned be trusted completely? With England now a cretin threat to the Welsh dominance, sides must be chosen and a rightful leader crowned. Can these brothers of Gwynedd come together for the good of their country or will their actions bring everyone a grim demise...


I am very glad that The Brothers of Gwynedd is broken down into four separate books; it will definitely allow for an easier reading experience. The first 40 pages mostly focused on describing the relationships between everyone, which made for a slow and at times confusing beginning; the authors writing style probably did not help this. Once the story began to focus more on the brothers of Gwynedd, I found myself much more engaged with the story. With this first book only being 186 pages, it provided plenty of treachery and intricate plots. I think this book definitely set the stage for the next one, and I am looking forward to reading what happens next with these dramatic Welsh brothers. 

A Little Extra:
Here are the links to everyone else participating in the Summer Reading Group! 



May 17th Reviews
The Burton Review 
http://www.theburtonreview.com/
The Bibliophilic Book Blog 
http://www.bibliophilicbookblog.com/
Rundpinne 
http://www.rundpinne.com/
A Reader's Respite 
http://readersrespite.blogspot.com/
History Undressed 
http://www.historyundressed.blogspot.com/
Linda Banche Blog 
http://lindabanche.blogspot.com/
A Hoyden's Look at Literature 
http://caramellunacy.blogspot.com/
Renee's Reads 
http://theroyalreviews.blogspot.com/
May 18 Reviews
Between the Pages 
http://www.betweenthelinesandmore.blogspot.com/
The Broken Teepee 
http://www.brokenteepee.blogspot.com/
Books and Coffee 
http://bookswithcoffee.wordpress.com/
Book Girl of Mur-y-Castell 
http://books-forlife.blogspot.com/
Tanzanite's Shelf and Stuff 
http://shelfandstuff.blogspot.com/
Passages to the Past 
http://www.passagestothepast.com/
The Book Faery 
http://tbfreviews.net/
A Girl Walks Into a Bookstore 
http://agirlwalksintoabookstore.blogspot.com/
Martha's Bookshelf 
http://marthasbookshelf.blogspot.com/
May 19 Reviews
Beth Fish 
http://bfishreads.blogspot.com/
Deb's Book Bag 
http://debsbookbag.blogspot.com/
Book Tumbling 
http://booktumbling.com/
A Work in Progress 
http://danitorres.typepad.com/workinprogress/
Stiletto Storytime 
http://www.stilettostorytime.wordpress.com/
Queen of Happy Endings 
http://alainereading.blogspot.com/
May 20 Reviews
The Literate Housewife 
http://literatehousewife.com/
Reading Adventures 
http://readingadventures.blogspot.com/
Books Like Breathing 
http://bibliophile23.wordpress.com/
Kailana's Written World http://myreadingbooks.blogspot.com/
Confessions and Ramblings of a Muse in the Fog 
http://muse-in-the-fog.blogspot.com/
Wendy's Minding Spot 
http://mindingspot.blogspot.com/
Mrs. Q Book Addict 
http://web.me.com/quirion
The Life and Lies of a Flying Inanimate Object 
http://www.haleymathiot.blogspot.com/
Starting Fresh 
http://startingfresh-gaby317.blogspot.com/
May 21 Reviews
Loving Heart Mommy 
http://www.lovingheartmommy.com/
Peeking Between the Pages 
http://peekingbetweenthepages.blogspot.com/
Celtic Lady's Ramblings 
http://celticladysreviews.blogspot.com/
Bookfoolery 
http://bookfoolery.blogspot.com/
One Literature Nut 
http://mjmbecky.blogspot.com/
The Book Tree 
http://thebooktree.blogspot.com/
My Reading Room 
http://myreadingroom-crystal.blogspot.com/
May 23 Reviews
Carla Nayland's Blog 
http://www.carlanayland.org/index.shtm/

FTC: I received this book from the publisher. As always, these are my own honest opinions.

Copyright © 2010 Svea Love. All Rights Reserved.

What's New Wednesday: A Look at Next Weeks New Releases

Pub. Date: May 25, 2010
Format: Hardcover, 416pp

Synopsis: (From the Publisher)
The truth is, none of us are innocent. We all have sins to confess.

So reveals Catherine de Medici in this brilliantly imagined novel about one of history’s most powerful and controversial women. To some she was the ruthless queen who led France into an era of savage violence. To others she was the passionate savior of the French monarchy. Acclaimed author C. W. Gortner brings Catherine to life in her own voice, allowing us to enter into the intimate world of a woman whose determination to protect her family’s throne and realm plunged her into a lethal struggle for power.

The last legitimate descendant of the illustrious Medici line, Catherine suffers the expulsion of her family from her native Florence and narrowly escapes death at the hands of an enraged mob. While still a teenager, she is betrothed to Henri, son of François I of France, and sent from Italy to an unfamiliar realm where she is overshadowed and humiliated by her husband’s lifelong mistress. Ever resilient, Catherine strives to create a role for herself through her patronage of the famous clairvoyant Nostradamus and her own innate gift as a seer. But in her fortieth year, Catherine is widowed, left alone with six young children as regent of a kingdom torn apart by religious discord and the ambitions of a treacherous nobility.

Relying on her tenacity, wit, and uncanny gift for compromise, Catherine seizes power, intent on securing the throne for her sons. She allies herself with the enigmatic Protestant leader Coligny, with whom she shares an intimate secret, and implacably carves a path toward peace, unaware that her own dark fate looms beforeher—a fate that, if she is to save France, will demand the sacrifice of her ideals, her reputation, and the passion of her embattled heart.

From the fairy-tale châteaux of the Loire Valley to the battlefields of the wars of religion to the mob-filled streets of Paris, The Confessions of Catherine de Medici is the extraordinary untold journey of one of the most maligned and misunderstood women ever to be queen.



Publish date: March 2010
Format: Hardcover, 352pp

Synopsis: (From the Publisher)

The sensational murder of Dr. Harvey Burdell in his lower Manhattan townhouse was the biggest news story in the United States before the Civil War; “Who killed Dr. Burdell?” was the question that gripped the nation. Deftly interweaving fiction and fact, 31 Bond Street is a clever historical narrative that blends romance, politics, greed and sexual intrigue in a suspenseful drama.
When an errand boy discovers Burdell’s nearly decapitated body in the bedroom of his posh Bond Street home, there are no witnesses and virtually no clues. With the city up in arms over the vicious killing, District Attorney Abraham Oakey Hall immediately suspects Emma Cunningham, the striking young widow who has been living at 31 Bond Street with her two teenaged daughters, caring for Burdell’s home in exchange for a marriage proposal. But Burdell’s past is murky and his true intentions towards Emma Cunningham were questionable, leaving Emma with a plausible motive for murder. With the help of her defence attorney, Henry Clinton, Emma embarks on a legal drama to prove her innocence and spare herself from the gallows.
Set against the background of a bustling and corrupt New York City in 1857, 31 Bond Street is a fascinating archeological dig, taking the reader through the minutiae of a buried past, only to uncover circumstances that are shockingly contemporary: a sensationalist press, burgeoning new wealth, a booming real estate market, and race and gender conflicts. Ellen Horan’s gripping novel vividly exposes a small slice of lost history as it explores New York City on the eveof the Civil War.


Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Mistress of Rome, Giveaway Winners!!!


A big thanks to everyone who participated in this giveaway! The first winner of this thrilling novel is:

Carol M.

and the second winner is....

Amy

Congratulations to you both! I will be sending you an e-mail to obtain your information shortly. Please respond in 48 hours, or another winner will be chosen :)


Sunday, May 16, 2010

Suddenly Sunday

Since The Sunday Salon is closed to new members, I have created my own weekly event of Suddenly Sunday! Feel free to join in the fun, just link back to this blog :)
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Good afternoon everyone! It looks like summer is finally here; when I last looked at the forecast, it should be mid 80's for a while...but I am sure it will be a lot hotter soon! My little girl is loving the weather and is having a blast flying a kite (although she mostly flies it by dragging it behind her while running lol). As this weekend comes to a close, I hope you are refreshed for the week ahead :)


This week I had the pleasure of participating in the blog tour for Stephanie Cowell's newest novel, Claude and Camille. You can read my review and her lovely guest post here:

In my mailbox this week for review (I am SO excited about this one):


This week is the begining of the "Summer Reading Group" for The Brothers of Gwynedd by Edith Pargeter. This event, hosted by Sourcebooks, will be broken down into four parts and will occur once a month by a great group of book bloggers. Check back here on the 20th for my review and a list of everyone else who is participating!


Another great event over at HFBRT is just wrapping up today. The event's exciting topic for the week has been: THE CONFESSIONS OF CATHERINE DE MEDICI by C.W. Gortner! If you have not yet had the chance to discover this great event, you can still view everything that has occurred on their website: historicalfictionroundtable.com


Have a great week everyone & happy reading!

Friday, May 14, 2010

Book Review & Guest Post: Claude and Camille by Stephanie Cowell



Synopsis: (From the Publisher)

"Sometimes he dreamt he held her; that he would turn in bed and she would be there. But she was gone and he was old. Nearly seventy. Only cool paint met his fingers. “Ma très chère . . .” Darkness started to fall, dimming the paintings. He felt the crumpled letter in his pocket. “I loved you so,” he said. “I never would have had it turn out as it did. You were with all of us when we began, you gave us courage. These gardens at Giverny are for you but I’m old and you’re forever young and will never see them. . . .”

In the mid-nineteenth century, a young man named Claude Monet decided that he would rather endure a difficult life painting landscapes than take over his father’s nautical supplies business in a French seaside town. Against his father’s will, and with nothing but a dream and an insatiable urge to create a new style of art that repudiated the Classical Realism of the time, he set off for Paris.
But once there he is confronted with obstacles: an art world that refused to validate his style, extreme poverty, and a war that led him away from his home and friends. But there were bright spots as well: his deep, enduring friendships with men named Renoir, Cézanne, Pissarro, Manet – a group that together would come to be known as the Impressionists, and that supported each other through the difficult years. But even more illuminating was his lifelong love, Camille Doncieux, a beautiful, upper-class Parisian girl who threw away her privileged life to be by the side of the defiant painter and embrace the lively Bohemian life of their time. 

His muse, his best friend, his passionate lover, and the mother to his two children, Camille stayed with Monet—and believed in his work—even as they lived in wretched rooms, were sometimes kicked out of those, and often suffered the indignities of destitution. She comforted him during his frequent emotional torments, even when he would leave her for long periods to go off on his own to paint in the countryside.
But Camille had her own demons – secrets that Monet could never penetrate, including one that when eventually revealed would pain him so deeply that he would never fully recover from its impact. For though Camille never once stopped loving the painter with her entire being, she was not immune to the loneliness that often came with being his partner. 
A vividly-rendered portrait of both the rise of Impressionism and of the artist at the center of the movement,Claude and Camille is above all a love story of the highest romantic order."


My Review:

In this touching and in depth look into the life of Claude Monet, the reader is at once absorbed into a world of art and passion. Told from the perspective of Monet himself, we follow him from his first days as an aspiring artist, through his struggles and hardships, then into his reflective later years. After reading Claude and Camille, Monet's brilliant artwork has taken on a whole new meaning and depth. In writing this novel, Stephine Cowell has brought Monet and his art to vivid reality, and in doing so, she has also created a masterpiece of her own. 
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I am happy to announce that, as a part of her current blog tour, Stephanie has stopped by today to share with us a lovely guest post!

Tank you Stephanie for bestowing Confessions and Ramblings of a Muse in the Fog with your time and thoughts; it is a pleasure to have you here!





~The advice of a wise old scholar to a new historical novelist~


I once had a conversation with the very great Elizabethan scholar A.L. Rowse in the sunny quad of an Oxford College. He was then a mere 85 years old and I was quite in awe of him. In fact everyone was so scared of his irascible temper that they stayed away from him but he was never bad tempered with me. I had won a 10 day scholarship to live at Oxford and attend lectures there because of the Elizabethan novels I was trying to write and so we met to my great joy and awe.

I asked him timidly as we sat in the sun, “But is it ok to invent things and to make up dialogue?” And his eyebrows raised and he said fiercely, “Of course you have to make up dialogue! And scenes.”

He was also a Shakespeare scholar and I pondered these things. We have no idea if Henry V rose up before his men as they were about to storm Agincourt and cried, “Once more unto the breach, dear friends! Cry ‘God for Harry, England, and Saint George!’” He might have muttered to one of his captains that his shoes hurt and it looked like rain might dampen the gun powder. But for four hundred years brave Harry has lived in the minds and hearts of readers for this speech.

So of course you have to make things up and with that you may have the blessing or skepticism of readers. Fiction brings historical figures to life as no biography can do. And looking back at that conversation I had with Dr. Rowse that day and a subsequent one seated at the High Table in Jesus College’s dining hall under a picture of Elizabeth I who founded the college, I realized that while I was looking at him with awe, he was also looking at me a little wistfully because I had the gift or the tenacity to make history come to life through fiction. We each had different gifts.

Mine was complicated. Sometimes historical fiction travels over a period of many years in which thousands of scenes between the real people took place but in a book, they must be condensed to a handful, each showing the development of the characters. Which scenes? What dialogue? What history do we need? His was complicated. He spent days and days studying the buttery books from the 1580’s of Corpus Christi College, Cambridge (the history of what each student bought to eat every day then, and yes they kept the hand-written accounts!) to discover what the playwright Christopher Marlowe spent on food when there. Dr. Rowse spent months poring over original documents from London circa 1600 to discover the identity of Shakespeare’s Dark Lady of the Sonnets.

Dr. Rowse was a good friend of his Cornish neighbor, Daphne du Maurier, and knew and loved her novels well. He knew that historical novelists are the best entry to times past for a reader. I used Dr. Rowse’s research for my first three novels. I kept writing him begging letters to his house in Cornwall to tell me more and more about my then subject. And finally he wrote back testily, “You know quite enough about these people and their times. Now write your novel!” In the last few years of life, I set one of his poems to music, sang it to the guitar and sent it to him. A small enough gift to a great man. 

Since then I have done and continue to do as my gifted colleagues do (and as he ordered me to do in his last letters written at the age of 92), to keep studying and then write my novels and bring times past between the covers of a book. I have his many letters on the English blue letter paper of the time in his scrawling handwriting. “Keep writing,” he told me. “Never never betray your gift. Let me know if you need anything more from me. Love, A.L.”
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To learn more about Stephanie and her works, you can visit her website: stephaniecowell.com

FTC: I received this book from the publisher. As always, these are my own honest opinions.
Copyright © 2010 Svea Love. All Rights Reserved.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

What's New Wednesday: A Look at Next Weeks New Releases

Pub. Date: May 18, 2010
Format: Paperback, 320pp


Synopsis: (From the Publisher)
"Luis de Santángel, chancellor to the court and longtime friend of the lusty King Ferdinand, has had enough of the Spanish Inquisition. As the power of Inquisitor GeneralTomás deTorquemada grows, so does the brutality of the Spanish church and the suspicion and paranoia it inspires. When a dear friend’s demise brings the violence close to home, Santángel is enraged and takes retribution into his own hands. But he is from a family of conversos, and his Jewish heritage makes him an easy target. As Santángel witnesses the horrific persecution of his loved ones, he begins slowly to reconnect with the Jewish faith his family left behind. Feeding his curiosity about his past is his growing love for Judith Migdal, a clever and beautiful Jewish woman navigating the mounting tensions in Granada. While he struggles to decide what his reputation is worth and what he can sacrifice, one man offers him a chance he thought he’d lost…the chance to hope for a better world. Christopher Columbus has plans to discover a route to paradise, and only Luis de Santángel can help him.

Within the dramatic story lies a subtle, insightful examination of the crisis of faith at the heart of the Spanish Inquisition. Irresolvable conflict rages within the conversos in By Fire, By Water, torn between the religion they left behind and the conversion meant to ensure their safety. In this story of love, God, faith, and torture, fifteenth-century Spain comes to dazzling, engrossing life."


Sunday, May 9, 2010

Suddenly Sunday

Since The Sunday Salon is closed to new members, I have created my own weekly event of Suddenly Sunday! Feel free to join in the fun, just link back to this blog :)
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Good afternoon everyone! I hope you all are enjoying a great Sunday and all the moms are having a lovely day :) You might have noticed my absence from the blog over the past week or so; it seems my schedule and life became a bit crazy for a while, so a little break was a necessity. I am really excited to be back and have some great things coming up here at Confessions and Ramblings of a Muse in the Fog! So, here is a little peak at what is in store:

Coming up for review: 
Claude and Camille by Stephanie Cowell (and guest post)
The Queen's Lover by Vanora Bennett
No Will but His by Sarah A. Hoyt (and guest post)
plus many more!


I am sure you are all eager to know the winner of Mistress of Rome by Kate Quinn that ended on Monday...I will get the announcement up soon!

Don't forget to enter in my giveaway for The Queen's Pawn by Christy English....it ends tomorrow!



Have a great week & happy reading!