Saturday, July 22, 2017

Stacking The Shelves: July 22, 2017

Stacking The Shelves is a weekly bookish meme hosted @ Tynga's Reviews & Reading Reality.




For Review:
The Hummingbird Heart by A.G. Howard
Anita send me her new upcoming book for review, which I'm currently reading. Yay!

Wilde in Love by Eloisa James
It's been way too long since I read a book by Eloisa James so when I saw this one on Edelweiss I didn't hesitate to grab it.

The Duke of Her Desire by Sophie Barnes
Another one I grabbed from EW because it sounds really great.


Bought:
Gilded Cage by Sherry D. Ficklin
All That Glitters by Sherry D. Ficklin
Nothing Gold by Sherry D. Ficklin
I couldn't resist buying all of these books since they were all 99c. Such a bargain! They're set in the 1920's, one of my favorite eras so I'm really excited to read them.


Bought:
Moonshadow by Thea Harrison
This one has been recommended to me so I decided to buy myself a copy since it was only 99c

Portrait of a Conspiracy by Donna Russo Morin
I found out this book was on sale for 99c when I participated in the blog tour with a guest post from the author so of course I couldn't resist buying it. Check out the post here.

Violet Grenade by Victoria Scott
I haven't read a book by this author in ages but I loved what I've read from her in the past so yet again I just had to buy this one. Also a 99c sale!


Bought:
Sin by Emma Hart
Yet another book I bought on sale for 99c. Is it obvious I can't resist this price? LOL

Romancing the Duke by Tessa Dare
Alyssa from The Eater of Books recommended this book to me after I asked which one of Tessa Dare's books I should buy and read next. I'm super excited to start it soon!




Have a great weekend, everyone! ♥


Thursday, July 20, 2017

ARC Review: The Duchess Deal by Tessa Dare

Title: The Duchess Deal
Author: Tessa Dare
Series: Girl Meets Duke #1
Publication: August 22nd 2017 by Avon

Genre: Historical Romance
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Google PlayKobo

Rating: 4.5/5

When girl meets Duke, their marriage breaks all the rules…

Since his return from war, the Duke of Ashbury’s to-do list has been short and anything but sweet: brooding, glowering, menacing London ne’er-do-wells by night. Now there’s a new item on the list. He needs an heir—which means he needs a wife. When Emma Gladstone, a vicar’s daughter turned seamstress, appears in his library wearing a wedding gown, he decides on the spot that she’ll do.

His terms are simple:
- They will be husband and wife by night only.
- No lights, no kissing.
- No questions about his battle scars.
- Last, and most importantly… Once she’s pregnant with his heir, they need never share a bed again.


But Emma is no pushover. She has a few rules of her own:
- They will have dinner together every evening.
- With conversation.
- And unlimited teasing.
- Last, and most importantly… Once she’s seen the man beneath the scars, he can’t stop her from falling in love…


The Duchess Deal was the first book I read by Tessa Dare but it certainly won't be my last. I really enjoyed it a lot. I already thought it sounded like a pretty unique historical romance and I'm so glad to say that I was right about it. It definitely was different from other books in the same genre that I've read before. I just loved that uniqueness so much.

The premise is pretty straightforward. Scarred since his return from the war, the Duke of Ashbury (a.k.a. Ash) has been living a sheltered life for the past two years but he's in need of a wife to give him an heir. Enter Emma Gladstone, a vicar's daughter turned seamtress who turns up —in a wedding dress no less— in the Duke's library. Ash pretty much decided then and there that Emma will become his wife.

Can I just say that I adored Emma? I really did. I loved how she kept confronting Ash and coming up with little pet names for him that he hates. That part was so hilarious. Ash definitely had a challenging personality, thinking no one could ever love him because of his scars. So he's your typical scarred hero, inside and out. Initially he just wanted to have a marriage of convenience with Emma and after that she could have her own house in the country to raise their son. Of course Emma challenged him on every turn, which I loved, of course.

This story also had a great cast of secondary characters. I loved the friends that Emma made and who eventually also became Ash's friends. I especially loved Alex and I hope that the next book will be about her and the very mysterious man she met at the bookstore. Another favorite character was Khan the butler. I laughed a lot with him and Ash.

Overall, The Duchess Deal by Tessa Dare was a great historical romance. It was funny as hell, very steamy and full of fiery female characters as well as great friendships. I loved it and can't wait for book two!



Tessa Dare is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of fourteen historical romance novels and five novellas. Her books have won numerous accolades, including Romance Writers of America’s prestigious RITA® award (twice) and the RT Book Reviews Seal of Excellence. Booklist magazine named her one of the “new stars of historical romance,” and her books have been contracted for translation in more than a dozen languages.

Mixing wit, sensuality, and emotion, Tessa writes Regency-set romance novels that feel relatable to modern readers. With her bestselling “Spindle Cove” and “Castles Ever After” series, she has had great fun creating heroines who defy the conventions of their time—engaging in “unladylike” pursuits that range from paleontology to beer-making—and dreaming up the strong-willed, sexy heroes who find their hearts ensnared by them.

A librarian by training and a booklover at heart, Tessa makes her home in Southern California, where she lives with her husband, their two children, and a trio of cosmic kitties.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads


Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Can't-Wait Wednesday: The Revolution of Marina M. by Janet Fitch

Can't-Wait Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted at Wishful Endings, to spotlight and talk about the books we're excited about that we have yet to read. It's based on Waiting On Wednesday hosted at Breaking the Spine.



The Revolution of Marina M. by Janet Fitch
Expected publication: November 7th 2017 by Little, Brown and Company

From the mega-bestselling author of White Oleander and Paint It Black, a sweeping historical saga of the Russian Revolution, as seen through the eyes of one young woman

St. Petersburg, New Year's Eve, 1916. Marina Makarova is a young woman of privilege who aches to break free of the constraints of her genteel life, a life about to be violently upended by the vast forces of history. Swept up on these tides, Marina will join the marches for workers' rights, fall in love with a radical young poet, and betray everything she holds dear, before being betrayed in turn.

As her country goes through almost unimaginable upheaval, Marina's own coming-of-age unfolds, marked by deep passion and devastating loss, and the private heroism of an ordinary woman living through extraordinary times. This is the epic, mesmerizing story of one indomitable woman's journey through some of the most dramatic events of the last century.

The author is unknown to me but The Revolution of Marina M. sounds like the perfect book for me:

Historical fiction 
1900's 
Russia 
The Russian Revolution 
800+ pages 

I can't wait for it to be released!


Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Blog Tour: The Competition by Donna Russo Morin ~ Guest Post + Giveaway (US)


Welcome to my stop for the blog tour of The Competition by Donna Russo Morin. 

Below you'll find a guest post written by the author and a giveaway (US only) below as well as more information about the book and author. I just want to say that this is one of my favorite guest posts ever. The renaissance is one of my favorite eras in history so I obviously really loved this guest post. And I hope you all will enjoy reading it as well.

 I haven't read The Competition yet or the first one. I have bought the first book, though, so I'm hoping to read that one as soon as I can.



The Competition by Donna Russo Morin

Publication Date: April 25, 2017
Diversion Publishing
eBook & Paperback; 268 Pages
Series: Da Vinci's Disciples, Book Two
Genre: Historical/Mystery



Donna Russo Morin returns with a follow-up to Portrait of a Conspiracy, called “a page-turner unlike any historical novel, weaving passion, adventure, artistic rebirth, and consequences of ambition,” by C.W. Gortner. 

 In a studiolo behind a church, six women gather to perform an act that is, at once, restorative, powerful, and illegal. They paint. Under the tutelage of Leonardo da Vinci, these six show talent and drive equal to that of any man, but in Renaissance Florence they must hide their skills, or risk the scorn of the city.

A commission to paint a fresco in Santo Spirito is announced and Florence’s countless artists each seek the fame and glory this lucrative job will provide. Viviana, a noblewoman freed from a terrible marriage and now free to pursue her artistic passions in secret, sees a potential life-altering opportunity for herself and her fellow female artists. The women first speak to Lorenzo de’ Medici himself, and finally, they submit a bid for the right to paint it. And they win. 

But the church will not stand for women painting, especially not in a house of worship. The city is not ready to consider women in positions of power, and in Florence, artists wield tremendous power. Even the women themselves are hesitant; the attention they will bring upon themselves will disrupt their families, and could put them in physical danger. 

All the while, Viviana grows closer to Sansone, her soldier lover, who is bringing her joy that she never knew with her deceased husband. And fellow-artist Isabetta has her own romantic life to distract her, sparked by Lorenzo himself. Power and passion collide in this sumptuous historical novel of shattering limitations, one brushstroke at a time.

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Google Play | iTunes | IndieBound | Kobo



Guest Post

FLORENCE: THE BIRTH PLACE OF THE RENAISSANCE; THE LAND OF MY ANCESTRY

All around them, a new evolution in art was taking place, one that would come to be known as the period of the greatest artistic rebirth, the cultural bridge from the Dark Ages to the Modern era. You could smell innovation and enlightenment in the air. Da Vinci’s Disciples didn’t care that as women they were prohibited from taking part. They would take part; they were determined to make their mark, no matter the consequences. So it is to Florence we go.

First I must tell of my own connection, one I didn’t know existed until after I wrote my fourth book, THE KING’S AGENT. Yes, in that glorious small speck of time between completing one book and starting another, I sent out a query to an organization that researches surnames. It took them a while to complete the appropriate investigation, during which time I developed the basic idea for my next work in progress, a trilogy also set in Florence on the birth of the female Renaissance artist. It would seem as if my fascination for the ancient city was firmly entrenched in my psyche. The information, when it came from the research institute, wonderfully illustrated with my family crest on parchment looking paper, declared that the origin of my family was, most probably… Florence. My ancestors have been calling, and I am answering that call as best I can.

Julius Caesar named the city ‘Florentina’ (meaning ‘flourishing’) when founded in 59 BC as a military retirement haven. How portentous the name would come to be. Yet there is evidence of occupation dating back to prehistoric times. Caesar developed the city, true, with the assistance of the great Roman general and statesman Lucius Cornelius Sulla, from a military state of mind, one that is still in evidence even today. Situated on a major artery leading to Rome, the Via Cassia (still known by that name in the heart of Rome, as the A1 for hundreds of miles leading throughout the country) it was rich with fertile farmland. The combination proved successful and it soon grew from a small Roman settlement to a lively commercial epicenter.

Enclosed in a wall approximately 1800 meters long, the city is rectangular in shape, and developed, as did most cities initially Roman, with straight roads and right angles. The main roads led to four towered gates and the Arno—a major river flowing in from the west coast—at first lay outside its gates. Located at the apex of main roads and a large river, found Florence growing rapidly, commercial activity and trade thrived, as did the city.

Christianity made its way to Florence in the second century and by the next, churches began to spring up like the shoots of spring flowers. Today there are close to forty churches and it is these religious houses that are partially responsible for the birth of the Renaissance.

Like so many other locations in Italy, Florence was prey to the pillaging of the Barbarian invasions of the Dark Ages. And though the city built more interior city walls, they too fell to the Lombards, the dark period of the city’s history.

But from out of the darkness, came the light.

By the 8th century, a feudal system was established in Florence, in truth throughout Tuscany, and the city became a county of the Holy Roman Empire, changes that were both a blessing and curse. More city walls were constructed, more gates for protection and grandiosity, and over the next few centuries Florence continued to prosper and its population to grow exponential; a flurry of activity leading to one of human evolution’s greatest eras, the Renaissance.

Any great accomplishment or movement or change in the direction of human kind, does not come about because of one circumstance or the efforts of one human, but from a conglomeration of magnificent events…the perfect storm. Such was the Renaissance and its birth in a city named Florence.




Its inception can be found, in part, in the politics of the city. A strife-ridden communal system gave way to an oligarchy, a system that would rule the city on and off for hundreds of years. The greatest of all the oligarchies belong to the Medici family (who are not only minor players in The King’s Agent, but who will be taking more center stage in my current works-in-progress). Yes, these were men who had undeniable, dare I say obnoxious, certainty in their superiority, but they were also gifted with open curious minds whose craving for knowledge and truth and beauty brought new and enlightening concepts to within the city walls. Harking back to the teachings of the Greeks and the Romans, they revived the value of the human being and, within this eagerness for knowledge and enlightenment, Humanism was born. Man came to consider himself God’s greatest creation and combined with a craving for rational thought and an affirmation of the natural environment in which he existed. A distinctive characteristic of Humanism was the glory of art, of man’s ability to manipulate media into whatever form they chose.

The rise of Humanism, the profusion of churches—churches which needed pious artwork to compete with the glory of its architecture—combined with the unflattering urge of humans to outdo each other, brought together all the necessary ingredients for an artistic explosion: fertile temperament, a surplus of venues, and the need for the leading citizens to become the leading citizen, producing a plethora of patrons vying for the best artists of all sorts. It was a collision that had never happened before, one that some hope will happen once again (one that I personally believe took place in the 1960s).

But it was not only painters and sculptors that Florence and its rebirth produced, though there were those a plenty, to name a few: Giotto di Bondone, Masaccio, Domenic Ghirlandaio, Perugino, Michelangelo, Raphael, Botticelli, Titian, and, of course, Leonardo da Vinci. And those are just the upper echelon of painters. Architecture reigned supreme as well under the skillful hands of Brunelleschi (the architect of Santa Spirito cathedreal; the main setting of THE COMPETITION), Leone Alberti, Palladio, and Bramante. And their glory was all written about with equal talent by the writers of the age: Petrarch, Boccaccio, Luigi Pulci, and Poliziano. In fact, so many of Italy’s greatest writers and poets were connected to Florence, its dialect came to be known as the official Italian language, beginning with the appearance of Dante’s Il Divina Commedia, a powerful component of the multilayered tale that is The King’s Agent. The power of Florence was felt in almost every facet of Renaissance life. The currency of the city, the gold Florin, came to be the most valued, not only in Italian but to all the corners of Europe, from Hungary to Britain to Bruges, and everywhere in between, and helped to develop industry across the continent.



It has been such an honor not only to write about the artists and innovators of the Renaissance, but to write about the birthplace of family.

Praise for The Competition

"THE COMPETITION is a page-turning, provocative romp through a fascinating time and place―15th-century Florence. Donna Russo Morin has given us a novel for our time, a book featuring strong female characters fighting the odds to break the “glass ceiling,” and reminding us that this battle is not new: women have been waging it for centuries. ―Sherry Jones, author of The Sharp Hook of Love: A Novel of Heloise and Abelard 

“...a page-turner unlike any historical novel, weaving passion, adventure, artistic rebirth, and consequences of ambition...a masterful writer at the peak of her craft.”―C. W. Gortner, author of The Confessions of Catherine de'Medici 

“A 15th-century Florence of exquisite art, sensual passion and sudden, remorseless violence comes vividly to life in Donna Russo Morin's new novel.”―Nancy Bilyeau, author of The Crown 

“In Portrait of a Conspiracy, Russo Morin's rich detailing transports the reader to the heart of Renaissance Italy from the first page.”―Heather Webb, author of Becoming Josephine 

“Illicit plots, mysterious paintings, and a young Leonardo da Vinci all have their part to play in this delicious, heart-pounding tale.”―Kate Quinn, author of The Empress of Rome Saga 

"In elegant prose, Morin paints a captivating tale of courageous women painters who battle against prejudices in Renaissance Florence. Featuring strong women characters, each with distinctive personalities, this is exactly the type of historical novel I enjoy. Exhilarating and compassionate, The Competition sings a beautiful tribute of women's talents and underscores Morin's masterful storytelling. Delightful!"―Weina Dai Randel, author of The Moon in the Palace and The Empress of Bright Moon 

“An inspiring tale of determined women, empowered by undeniable talent, in the male-dominated art world of Renaissance Florence. In The Competition, Ms. Morin delivers a captivating story rich with historical detail and beautifully woven through with atmosphere.”―Diane Haeger, author of Courtesan

About the Author

Donna earned two degrees from the University of Rhode Island. In addition to writing, teaching writing, and reviewing for literary journals, Donna works as a model and actor; highlights of her work include two seasons on Showtime’s Brotherhood and an appearance in Martin Scorsese’s The Departed. Donna is the proud mother of two sons, one a future opera singer, the other a future chef. 

Donna's titles include The Courtier's Secret, The Secret of the Glass, To Serve a King, The King's Agent, Portrait of a Conspiracy, and The Competition.

Donna enjoys meeting with book groups in person and via Skype chat. Visit her website at www.donnarussomorin.com. You can also connect with her on Facebook and Twitter.

Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, June 26 Interview at The Book Junkie Reads 

Tuesday, June 27 Review at A Bookaholic Swede 

Wednesday, June 28 Spotlight at Passages to the Past 

Thursday, June 29 Spotlight at The Lit Bitch Spotlight at A Holland Reads

Friday, June 30 Review at The True Book Addict 

Monday, July 3 Review at Pursuing Stacie 

Wednesday, July 5 Guest Post at Books of All Kinds 

Thursday, July 6 Spotlight at The Writing Desk 

Saturday, July 8 Review at Svetlana's Reads and Views 

Monday, July 10 Review at History From a Woman's Perspective Spotlight at The Never-Ending Book 

Tuesday, July 11 Spotlight at A Literary Vacation 

Friday, July 14 Interview at Dianne Ascroft's Blog 

Monday, July 17 Review at Let Them Read Books 

Tuesday, July 18 Guest Post at Bookfever <--- Me ♥

Thursday, July 20 Spotlight at What Is That Book About 

Monday, July 24 Review at Ageless Pages Reviews 

Wednesday, July 26 Spotlight at CelticLady's Reviews 

Thursday, July 27 Review at Oh, for the Hook of a Book! 

Friday, July 28 Review at Just One More Chapter

Giveaway

During the Blog Tour we will be giving away a paperback copy of The Competition & a Key Pendant necklace! To enter, please enter via the Gleam form below. 

Giveaway Rules 

– Giveaway ends at 11:59pm EST on July 28th. You must be 18 or older to enter. 
– Giveaway is open to residents in the US only. 
– Only one entry per household. 
– All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspect of fraud is decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion. 
– Winner has 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen. 

The Competition



♥ Holly's Boys ♥

Highly recommended story to check out!