Monday, September 30, 2013

Shadow and Bone Read-Along!!

Announcing the
Shadow and Bone Read-Along,
hosted by
Maria @ A Night's Dream of Books!
Come join the fun!!

Shadow and Bone
(The Grisha #1)
Leigh Bardugo
Hardcover, 368 pages
Henry Holt & Co.
June 5, 2012
Fantasy, Paranormal Romance,
Young Adult Fiction

Amazon Synopsis

Surrounded by enemies, the once-great nation of Ravka has been torn in two by the Shadow Fold, a swath of near impenetrable darkness crawling with monsters who feast on human flesh. Now its fate may rest on the shoulders of one lonely refugee.
Alina Starkov has never been good at anything. But when her regiment is attacked on the Fold and her best friend is brutally injured, Alina reveals a dormant power that saves his life—a power that could be the key to setting her war-ravaged country free. Wrenched from everything she knows, Alina is whisked away to the royal court to be trained as a member of the Grisha, the magical elite led by the mysterious Darkling.
Yet nothing in this lavish world is what it seems. With darkness looming and an entire kingdom depending on her untamed power, Alina will have to confront the secrets of the Grisha…and the secrets of her heart.

Purchase Links

Amazon US (Print)
Amazon US (Kindle)
(includes a link for the Nook edition)

Post & Reading Schedule

Announcement Post/Sign-ups
Vonnie's Reading Corner
A Night's Dream of Books
September 30th

Week 1 Discussion Questions
"Before" - Chapter 5
Vonnie's Reading Corner
October 9th

Week 2 Discussion Questions
Chapters 6 - 12
A Night's Dream of Books
October 16th

Week 3 Discussion Questions
Chapters 13 - 17
Vonnie's Reading Corner
October 23rd

Week 4 Discussion Questions
Chapter 18 - "After"
A Night's Dream of Books
October 30th

Wrap-up & Reviews
A Night's Dream of Books
Vonnie's Reading Corner
November 1st

All participants should post reviews for
the wrap-up on November 1st,
and are encouraged to
hop around and comment on
each other's reviews.


(You must sign up in order to
enter the contest!)

Maria & Vonnie are really
looking forward to all of your
answers, comments, and reviews!
We hope you all enjoy
the read-along!

And don't forget to grab
the button and add
your link to the Linky below!

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Stacking The Shelves #23: The Mirrored World, The Magicians, The Magician King, Spiritual Growth, A New Earth, Tapping the Dream Tree

This is a weekly event hosted by Jennifer, Lili,
Stephanie, Helen, and Tynga @ Tynga's Reviews!

As the title implies, this is all about
sharing the books you're adding
to your shelves, be they physical or virtual.
For the complete rules, and to sign up,
just click on the link above.

This week's haul!! 

Books Purchased

This novel is based on the life
a Russian saint who gave all of
her possessions to
the poor after the death of her husband.
I adore 19th-century Russian
culture, so I just had to buy this book!
I got a signed copy, too!!

This novel has obviously been influenced
by the Harry Potter and Narnia books,
yet, is very original.
I love the synopsis, and besides,
the reviews are overwhelmingly positive!

This is the sequel to the book above.
I was lucky enough to get
a signed copy of this one, as well!!

This is a nonfiction book dealing
with spirituality.
Written by New Age author,
it contains many valuable spiritual insights
about transcending limited consciousness,
and living with joy and peace.
The cover painting is by artist
She is also known as Rajita Sivananda.

This is another nonfiction book
about spirituality,
written by the world-famous
It deals with the awakening
to be found in true awareness,
beyond the limitations of the ego.

This novel is by one of my favorite
fantasy authors, the great
I love the title of this one, too.
It's a collection of stories
about the fictional town of Newford,
located somewhere in North America.

What do you think of my haul?
What fascinating books
have you added
to your shelves this week?

Shelf Candy Saturday #86: Well-Read Women: Portraits of Fiction's Most Beloved Heroines, by Samantha Hahn

Welcome to Shelf Candy Saturday!!

This weekly feature
showcases beautiful book covers,
and provides information,
if available, on their very talented creators!

For more information
about Shelf Candy Saturday,
just click HERE.

Here's my choice for this week!

Well-Read Women: Portraits of
Fiction's Most Beloved Heroines
Samantha Hahn
Hardcover, 112 pages
Chronicle Books
August 27, 2013
Art, Classics, Historical Fiction,
Literary Fiction

Why do I love this cover?

This stunning cover just glows with its brilliant, lovely tones of color!  It was done in watercolor, by the enormously talented Samantha Hahn, who is also the author of this jewel of a book.

Of course, I love the blue background, which also softly colors the woman's fur coat.  The entire image is superbly painted.  The bobbed hairdo is just exquisite, with its glowing highlights.  The eye shadow, as well as the shadow below the jawline, are just right.  The font is typical of the Art Deco style, which was very popular in the 1920's.  The woman's haughty bearing is a clear indication that she is either very wealthy, or wishes to be.  Indeed, this is Daisy Buchanan, from F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby.

The entire book is a collection of Hahn's stunning illustrations of some of literature's most famous heroines, such as Daisy Buchanan, mentioned above, Clarissa Dalloway, from Mrs. Dalloway, by Virginia Woolf, Emma Woodhouse, from Emma, by Jane Austen,  Alice, from Alice In Wonderland, by Lewis Carroll, Hester Prynne, from The Scarlet Letter, by Nathaniel Hawthorne, Jane Eyre, from the novel by the same name, written by Charlotte Bronte, and many others.  Each illustration is accompanied by a quote, rendered in equally beautiful calligraphy, from the novel that features the heroine. 

Samantha Hahn is a fashion illustrator.  She holds a BFA in Illustration  from Syracuse University, and an MFA in Art Education from Columbia University.  Her work has been featured in You Are So Loved and Watercolor: Paintings of Contemporary Artists, published by Chronicle Books,  The Great Big Book of Fashion Illustration, published by Batsford, Print and Pattern, published by Laurence King Publishers, Crafting A Meaningful Home, published by STC Craft, and many others.

Samantha Hahn lives in Manhattan (New York City) with her husband and toddler.

Samantha Hahn Online

What do you think of
my choice?
Leave me a comment
and let me know!

Friday, September 27, 2013

Blog Tour: Book Review/Giveaway!! Knight Blindness, by Chris Karlsen

Welcome to the Knight Blindness
Book Tour, sponsored by
Innovative Online Book Tours!!

Knight Blindness
(Knights In Time #3)
Chris Karlsen
Trade Paperback, 394 pages
CreateSpace, July 30, 2013
Historical Fiction, Romance, Science Fantasy

The idea of time travel -- whether to the past or the future -- has always fascinated me.  Throw in some romance, and I'm sold!  That's precisely what this novel is about, although the traveling is not scientifically detailed, remaining something of a mystery. 

This is the third novel in Karlsen's "Knights In Time" series, which describes the adventures of several medieval knights who suddenly find themselves in the 21st century, without knowing how, except that there's a time portal somewhere....  

In spite of being the third novel, Knight Blindness can be read by itself, since the author provides some clues as to what's going on, and characters from the previous two novels also appear in this one.

Two enemy knights, one English, the other French, fight each other during the Battle of Poitiers, in France.  The year is 1356, A.D.  The English knight, Stephen Palmer, had been given a mysterious prophecy about a knight bearing certain colors and heraldic symbols.  Upon encountering that very knight, he hesitates....and is struck down by him.  The lethal blow is delivered by the Frenchman, Roger Marchand.

Both knights are suddenly transported to the present year -- 2013.  Stephen is lying on the ground at the edge of the scene of the famous battle, and is found by some locals, who call an ambulance.  Meanwhile, Roger materializes in the midst of a dense cluster of trees, not far from where Stephen is lying....

Although I was indeed attracted to this book by the plot, I must admit that I was not initially comfortable reading the story.  That's because Stephen is permanently blinded by the blow he suffered at the hands of Marchand, whose sword hit Stephen's helm in such a way that it injured his eyes.  Karlsen actually described the extent of Palmer's injury.  I saw that coming, and skipped over that part completely.  Still, it wasn't easy for me to go on....

Despite my initial discomfort, I'm glad I persisted with this book.  I was rewarded with a wonderful cast of characters, as well as an intriguing plot that really captured my interest!

Stephen Palmer is a very engaging, fascinating character.  Being a knight, and thus, bound by a code of honor, he's very proud and stalwart.  From the very beginning, he attempts to be independent, to do as much for himself as he possibly can.  This is very admirable.  It also means that he's very stubborn, resisting help from his friends (who have also traveled in time) whenever he thinks he can cope on his own.  He's also a very sweet, chivalrous man.  He is very much attracted to Esme Crippen, the tutor his friends Guy and Basil have hired to teach him about historical developments since the 14th century.  At one point, he even insists that Esme's boyfriend come to the door to escort her to his car for a date, instead of blowing the horn and waiting for her to come out.  I found this enchanting!  How many men do that nowadays?  Not many....

Another wonderful thing about Stephen is that he has a beautiful tenor voice.  He happens to come across the songs from "The Phantom of the Opera", and starts learning them.  Eventually, he can sing them by heart, and his interpretations are indeed very musically competent!

I really liked Esme as the perfect woman for Stephen.  She's initially reluctant to take on the assignment, especially since she's been told that Stephen is not 'quite right in the head'.  His friends think it's best for Esme not to know the truth; they fear she won't be able to take it.  

Esme also doubts, in the beginning, that she'll be able to teach a blind man.  However, all her doubts are swept aside when she meets Stephen.  Although this is not a case of "insta-love", there is an attraction, mostly on Stephen's part, from the start.  Esme slowly warms up to him, however.  She finds him totally charming, if rather stubborn.  He insists on going horseback riding, for instance, something she thinks might be too dangerous for him to attempt, even if she does accompany him.  I found her worrying over him very touching. 

As for Roger Marchand, he is Stephen's avowed enemy.  Once he learns that he and Stephen have traveled in time to the future, he becomes intent on finding Stephen and returning with him to the year 1356, so that he (Roger) can warn the French king, thus assuring victory for France at the Battle of Poitiers.  He is relentless in his pursuit of the English knight.  

Although Marchand is also chivalrous and bound by a code of honor, his fanaticism in attempting to change history makes him a less than likable character.  However, there are moments in the novel when his softer side comes through, and I did feel touched by this aspect of his personality.  He has sustained a major loss in his past, which has perhaps really influenced his worldview.  He hides his pain through force of will, as I imagine most men similarly affected do.  

The minor characters in this novel (who are major characters in the previous two books) are also very well drawn.  I like the way they take care that Stephen's needs are met, that he is comfortable and safe.  Sometimes Stephen rebels against their concern, but it's understandable that, since they're genuine friends, they would worry about him and want to prevent any harm coming to him, since he now has a disability.

Karlsen makes this story very believable, having gone to quite a bit of trouble to acquaint herself with procedures and techniques used to help the blind.  She has also researched the historical period well. Stephen and Roger come across as realistic medieval knights, although at times I think they sound much too modern.  However, they do have a definitely outdated view of the world, so this contributes to making them believable, even if they don't always sound like 14th-century warriors.

The pacing of the novel varies throughout.  It starts off with battlefield action.  Then, when the two knights are mysteriously transported to the 21st century, it slows down as Stephen begins the process of recovery and adaptation to his disability.  There's also the gradual unfolding of the romance between Stephen and Esme.  Then the action steps up again as the French knight's hunt gets under way.

All in all, I found this to be a very enjoyable novel, in spite of my initial discomfort.  Time travel fans will really appreciate Karlsen's attention to historical details, while those who love romance with something 'extra' will also find this a great read! 

Now I'd like to go back and read the two previous books in the series!  I need to find out all about the other knights' adventures and romances in time!! 


Reviewer's Note
I'd like to thank
Innovative Online Book Tours
for including me in
this tour, as well as for
providing the book in exchange for
an honest review.

Purchase Links

About the Author

I was born and raised in Chicago.  My father was a history professor and my mother was, and is, a voracious reader.  I grew up with a love of history and books.

My parents also love traveling, a passion they passed on to me.  I wanted to see the places I read about, see the land and monuments from the time periods that fascinated me.  I've had the good fortune to travel extensively throughout Europe, the Near East, and North Africa.

I am a retired police detective.  I spent twenty-five years in law enforcement, with two different agencies.  My desire to write came in my early teens.  After I retired, I decided to pursue that dream.  I write two different series.  My paranormal series is titled "Knights In Time".  My romantic thriller series is titled "Dangerous Waters".

I currently live in the Pacific Northwest with my husband, four rescue dogs, and a rescue horse.

Chris Karlsen Online

Book Trailer


Knights In Time Series: Books 1 & 2

Be sure to enter the FABULOUS giveaway!! 

For the complete schedule of participating blogs,
just click on the button below!
When you get to the I.O. website, be sure
to scroll down until you find this tour.
Enjoy all the stops!!

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Waiting On Wednesday #89: Snakeroot, by Andrea Cremer

This is a weekly event hosted by
It showcases future releases which
we book bloggers
are eagerly anticipating!!

Here's my choice for this week!

( Nightshade #4)
Hardcover, 336 pages
December 10, 2013
Paranormal Romance, Urban Fantasy
Young Adult Fiction

Goodreads Synopsis

Fans asked for it, and now they've got it! Andrea Cremer is continuing the story she began in her internationally bestselling trilogy: Nightshade, Wolfsbane, and Bloodrose. In this new installment, Bosque Mar haunts the dreams of both Adne and Logan, trying to escape for the Nether, where Calla, Shay and the other Guardians trapped him in the final battle in the War of All Against All. Will he turn Adne to the dark side? Will Logan reclaim his birthright? And will darkness take over our world? In a novel filled with magic, romance and breakneck action, master storytelling Andrea Cremer's newest installment will not disappoint!

Why am I waiting on this book?

I am such a HUGE fan of this series!!
I've read the first three novels,
which are packed with exciting action,
wonderful characters,
and great romance, and, quite frankly,
I didn't want it all to come to
an end so soon!!
So, I'm really happy that Andrea has
decided to continue with this series!!
I have my credit card ready
so I can snap this one up the minute
December 10th rolls around!
And I know I'm not alone!! 

What do you think of my choice?
What wonderful book(s)
are you waiting on this Wednesday?