January 31, 2016

A Son's Vow by Shelley Shepard Gray - Review and Giveaway

I received this book from Litfuse in exchange for a fair and honest review

Published: January 26, 2016
Number of pages: 288
Genre: Christin Fiction
Series: Charmed Amish Life #1

Three months ago, everything changed for Darla Kurtz and her family.

Darla's father was responsible for a terrible fire at Charm's lumber mill which killed five Amish men. And though he, too, lost his life, the town of Charm hasn't looked at her family the same since. Even Lukas Kinsinger---with whom Darla used to have a close friendship.

Now her brother's anger at the town is spilling over onto Darla, and she has the bruises to prove it. The accident already cost five lives, but if something doesn't change soon, Darla fears it will cost her---and her family---even more.

Lukas Kinsinger wants to mourn the loss of his father, but he can hardly find the time to breathe. Suddenly the head of his father's lumber mill and responsible for taking care of his three siblings, he's feeling the pressure. He has also never felt more alone---especially with the new tension between he and Darla. But when he learns of her troubles at home, Lukas knows he can't simply stand by and watch. Someone has to help her before another tragedy occurs.

As Lukas and Darla attempt to repair their families, they discover something deeper than friendship growing between them. But will Lukas and Darla's love be accepted after so much loss? Or will the pain of the past overcome any chance of future happiness?

Shelley Shepard Gray's first book in her Charmed Amish Life series is set in the quaint Amish village of Charm, Ohio, and tells the stories of the Kinsinger siblings who are each struggling to find both forgiveness and love in the face of tragedy.

Purchase a copy: http://bit.ly/1TnOt9W

What did I think of the book:
Shelley Shepard Gray has hit is out of the park again with this book in a new series. The characters in this book were very likeable. I felt bad for Darla and how the town was treating her after the accident. So she had not only her own grief to deal with but the anger of the town as well as trying to raise her family. The author did a good job in developing each of the characters and the descriptions she used were good as well. After reading this you will want to stop by Charm and have a visit. This is going to be a series to remember. I am looking forward to seeing what happens in the next book and who we will meet. 

About the author:
Shelley Shepard Gray is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author, a finalist for the American Christian Fiction Writers prestigious Carol Award, and a two-time HOLT Medallion winner. She lives in southern Ohio, where she writes full-time, bakes too much, and can often be found walking her dachshunds on her town's bike trail.

Connect with Sherri: website, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest


To enter the giveaway click here

January 29, 2016

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For Cheddar or Worse by Avery Aames - Review/Guest Post and Two Giveaways

I received this book from the author in exchange for a fair and honest review

Published: February 2, 2016
Number of pages: 320
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Series: Cheese Shop Mystery #7

In the new Cheese Shop Mystery from the Agatha Award-winning author of As Gouda as Dead, an extra-sharp tongued cheese critic is cut down during a summer cheese festival.

It’s time for the annual Cheese Festival in Providence, Ohio, and Charlotte Bessette’s cheese shop is packed with homemade specialties. Meanwhile, her friend Erin is prepping her dairy farm and inn for cheese makers, marketers, journalists, and one surprise guest—Lara Berry, pretentious cheese whiz, pompous bestselling author, and pungent critic whose extra sharp tongue can crumble a reputation.

Even though any love for Lara by her friends curdled long ago, Charlotte is surprised when the foodie is smothered to death in her room at Erin’s inn. Accusations start flying, but the one laying blame on Erin strikes Charlotte as a crock. Now, to clear her friend’s name, Charlotte has to sift through Lara’s ex-lovers, former business partners, and unforgiving enemies to find a killer before Lara’s past casts a tainted pall on the festival’s future.


What did I think of this book:
This book was another great addition to a fun series that I have been enjoying from book one. I enjoyed hearing about the week long cheese festival and wish I could attend as it sounds like fun. The way the author writes you feel as if you could almost taste the cheeses she is talking about. Then her descriptions of the town make you want to stop in for a visit. Of course then we have a murder on our hands to help Charlotte solve. There are so many people who did not like Lara that this seems like an undaunting task. Just when you think you may have it figured out then there is another twist. I had fun following Charlotte as she tried to clear her friend's name while at the same time trying to work on the cheese festival. If you are looking for a good mystery for a raining day then I suggest you pick this one up. 

About the author:
Avery Aames is the Agatha Award–winning author of The Long Quiche Goodbye and six other titles in the Cheese Shop Mystery series. As Daryl Wood Gerber, she is the nationally bestselling author of the Cookbook Nook Mysteries, including Fudging the Books, Stirring the Plot, Inherit the Word, and Final Sentence. Like her protagonist, Avery is an admitted foodie. Prior to writing, Avery (aka Daryl) acted on stage and television, including on Murder, She Wrote. Don’t forget to sign up for her fan club so you can be entered in all her contests! You’ll find that fan club on her website! Visit her website at www.darylwoodgerber.com.

Author Links
Blog: www.mysteryloverskitchen.com (Blog Wednesdays)

Giveaway #1
This giveaway is for one print copy of For Cheddar or Worse. The giveaway is open to the US only. Once the winner is randomly chosen they will be notified via email and have 24 hours to reply or a new winner will be chosen. One requirement is to leave a comment on the post and this will be verified. If no comment is left you will be disqualified. Thank you and good luck.

Guest Post:

Apple Pie Cheddar Ice Cream

There’s Nothing Like Homemade Ice Cream! By Avery Aames aka Daryl Wood Gerber

There's a rule of thumb that says you "shouldn't" freeze cheese. Here's the reason. Artisanal cheeses are delicate. Their molecular structure will weaken in the freezer. When they defrost, the structure breaks down and the cheese can become crumbly and dry. Still, I wanted to try.

So I decided to make an apple pie ice cream and use a Cheddar cheese.

SIDE NOTE: My father LOVED apple pie with Cheddar cheese. I love apple pie with ice cream. This was a no-brainer experiment!

By the way, Cheddar is firm and not as airy as other cheeses so the experiment…

Was a success! Not just because of the cheese, but also because the flavors of apple and cinnamon and BROWN sugar are simply luxurious.

The cheese, which held up under the frozen conditions, was an added bonus. It provides a yummy texture. Caveat: the cheese didn't have the same flavorful tang as a fresh sharp cheese. Still, I absolutely loved the result and will make it again. I hope you will enjoy.

Say cheese!

Do you experiment when you cook?

*I use a Cuisinart Counter top Mixer.

3 egg yolks
1 c. sugar
1 c. half and half
1 c. whipping cream
1 c. (8 oz.) mascarpone cheese
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 apple, Pippin is my choice, peeled and diced
2 oz. Cheddar cheese, cubed into teensy cubes
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons water
1 teaspoon cinnamon

In a sauce pan, over low heat, mix apples, brown sugar, water and cinnamon. Cook for 10 minutes, until tender. Set aside and let cool completely.

In a separate sauce man, stir together yolks and sugar and cook, 30 seconds on low.

Add half and half, cook 1 minute on low. Stir and cook 1 more minute. Stir and cook 1 additional minute. [Total 3 ½ minutes.]

Turn off heat. Add whipping cream, mascarpone, and vanilla.

Stir and let cool to room temperature. 

Chill 1-3 hours in refrigerator

Start counter top mixer. Add cream mixture. Whip, per counter top mixer instructions, 20-25 minutes.

Add apples and Cheddar cheese cubes to ice cream mixture. 

Whip 5 more minutes until goodies are incorporated.

Pour into clean containers and freeze. About three hours later, it’s a perfect consistency.



Tour Participants

January 25 – Shelley’s Book Case – Review, Giveaway

January 26 – Lisa Ks Book Reviews – Review, Guest Post, Giveaway

January 27 – Brooke Blogs – Review, Guest Post, Giveaway

January 28 – Mallory Heart Reviews – Review

January 29 – Griperang’s Bookmarks – Review, Giveaway

January 30 – Melina’s Book Blog – Review, Guest Post, Giveaway

January 31 – Cozy Up With Kathy – Review, Guest Post, Giveaway

January 28, 2016

New Blog Name and Address

Hello all - I wanted to let everyone know that I have changed the name of my blog to A Holland Reads which in turn has changed the website address and in turn my Facebook page. Below are the links. Thank you


Blog address

The Thorn Bearer by Pepper D. Basham - Spotlight/Snippet/Interview

Published: May 7, 2015
Number of pages: 362
Genre: Historical Fiction
Series: Penned in Time #1

When Ashleigh Dougall’s fiancé leaves her eight months before their wedding, the unexpected blow ignites a battalion of insecurities stemming from her father’s intimate betrayal. In an attempt to escape her shame, Ashleigh boards the ill-fated Lusitania to cross the war-torn waters of Europe. Much to her dismay, she isn’t traveling alone.

Sam Miller is always making up for his best friend’s mistakes. Determined to help his childhood friend, Ashleigh, he offers his compassion and companionship as she ventures across a perilous sea. With the faint hope of renewing his lost love for Ashleigh’s sister, Sam never expects to find the woman of his dreams in the love of his childhood friend.

Neither are prepared for the life-altering and heart-breaking journey of their friendship.

About the author:
Pepper Basham is an award-winning author who writes romance peppered with grace and humor. She currently resides in the lovely mountains of Asheville, NC where she is the mom of 5 great kids, speech-pathologist to about fifty more, lover of chocolate, jazz, and Jesus, and proud AlleyCat over at a group writing blog, The Writer’s Alley. Her debut historical romance novel, The Thorn Bearer, released in May 2015, with the second arriving in February 2016. Her first contemporary romance debuts in spring 2016.

Website/blog: www.pepperdbasham.com
FB Author page - https://www.facebook.com/pages/Pepper-D-Basham
Twitter - https://twitter.com/pepperbasham
Pinterest - https://www.pinterest.com/pepperbasham/
Goodreads - https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/13561411.Pepper_D_Basham
AmazonAuthor Page - http://www.amazon.com/Pepper-Basham/e/B00W0IZ1F4/ref=dp_byline_cont_pop_ebooks_1

Book Snippet:
The last remnants of the thick morning fog clung to the horizon, but with a bright sun overhead it promised a full evaporation within the hour. A mixture of relief and fear washed over her. Land. With the warnings of torpedoes, nothing looked more reassuring, but with landfall came a closer step to Catherine- and Ashleigh’s next conflict. What price would she have to pay to convince Catherine to be with Sam? Were there other romantic options in Edensbury besides her faithless sister?

“Are you alright?”

Sam’s voice broke through her thoughts.

“Why didn’t you bring your plate camera? Didn’t you say it made clearer photos?”

“It’s with my luggage.” He shook his head and placed his palm over his heart. “My pride and joy and much too nice a camera to toss around on the deck of a ship.”

His gaze held hers until she returned his smile. The power the man had over her was unnerving. Her stomach twisted at the thought. Another man with power over her? She stepped toward the railing and looked out toward the coastline. A gray-green mound broke the line of the horizon. Sunlight sparkled across the waves. She blinked her eyes open against the sun’s reflection on the horizon. It was easy to see God in the vastness of the sea and the strength of those waves. A frown pulled at her bottom lip. So where was all that power years ago? Did He even hear her cry for help? She closed her eyes to the sun’s warmth and breathed in the salty air as it sent her well-kept hair into chaos. Her thoughts almost formed into a prayer, years of habit and necessity. But He didn’t care.

“Ash, come take a look at this view.”

She pushed away her thoughts and walked to Sam’s side. Carefully she leaned close to the small leatherbound box on its precarious tripod perch. Sam hobby had grown into a little business back in Millington, even finding some of his photographs of Appalachia in a few magazines, but Ashleigh had never grown adept in working the tiny device. Her hand reached to steady the instrument and brushed against Sam’s fingers. She attempted to pull her hand back, but he captured her fingers and placed them on the side of the camera, firming his palm over them.

“Hold it like this.”

He stood behind her now, his arms hemmed her in on each side to steady the camera and his breath warmed her ear. She swallowed, or tried to, but her dry mouth wouldn’t cooperate. Stop these feelings, Ashleigh. Ignore them.

She forced the rising heat in her chest to chill and took a deep breath, attention fixed on the site through the lens. It was remarkable how one could frame a piece of the world. The monstrous ocean wasn’t as frightening in such small doses. In fact, the angle at which the sun glazed the water held a magical, almost hypnotic quality. So vast and mysterious, and yet as beautiful as starlight’s reflection in a pond.

“It’s beautiful. It truly frames the world.”

“One of the many reasons I’m obsessed with it, I think.” Sam’s voice smoothed past her ear. He guided the camera to a different scene, nearer the coast. She ignored the influence of his closeness to the chaos in the pit of her stomach. “Can you see the coast now?”

“Oh yes, it’s lovely.” She pulled back and smiled up at him, but hadn’t calculated his extreme closeness.

His face hovered just above hers, eyes so intense, she thought he might read her rebel thoughts. His brow tilted upward, slightly, as if he was searching for an answer to an unvoiced question.

She didn’t have an answer. She couldn’t have an answer.

As if drugged, she drew her attention from his and back to the camera lens. The sea rumbled out to meet the distant shore, waves as confused as the emotions crashing about in her heart. She couldn’t wait to get off of this boat. There would be plenty of opportunities to flee Sam’s closeness in Edensbury. She knew all the hiding places at her mother’s home.

As a child, hiding had been a survival skill honed to near-perfection.

She blinked the framed scene back into view. A strange stream of bubbles broke into her line of vision making a surprisingly straight path through the waves. A fish? Whale? Whatever it was, it moved fast.

“Sam, look here. There’s some strange fish coming up from the water toward the ship.”

His lips quirked into a doubtful smirk as he took the camera. “A fish coming toward the ship?” He peered through. “I don’t know of any fi—” His breath caught and his body stiffened. “No.”

His exclamation pierced through her and echoed from her own lips. “What, Sam? It can’t be—”

“Torpedo on the starboard side!”

The shout rang down from a place above her followed immediately by another from somewhere else on the boat. A chill trembled down her spine. Sam’s gaze locked with Ashleigh’s and everything slowed. Sounds muffled except for the thrumming of her heartbeat in her ears. Sam pushed his camera aside and took hold of her shoulders just as an explosion sent them staggering like ragdolls toward the railing. Ash and dust flew into the air and rained down upon them, a few pieces stinging against her back. No, dear Lord. We’ve been hit.

1. Who or what inspired you to start writing?
Is it too simplistic an answer to say that God created me for writing? I truly feel that way about it. I've always loved storytelling, which may be in-part due to the strong cultural thread of oral storytelling in Appalachia but also is a God-given talent. Combine the two and I guess it was a match made in happily-ever-after :-)

2. What do you do to help you get over writer's block?

I write on a different story, or I pray, or listen to music and daydream or brainstorm with my Brainstorming Team (who are super duper, btw).

3. Do you have scheduled writing time or a certain amount of words you write each day?
I wish I could be as diligent to do a wordcount for the day but, alas, I am not. I do have a consistent writing time (usually) between 9:30-10:30 or 11pm

4. Where do you get your ideas for your books?
Oh, lots of different places. I can be inspired by a song, a movie or book, real-life events - anything that leads my brain to ask the question "What if?" Most of the stories I write inspire their own stories as spinoffs - probably because I just don't want to say goodbye to these fun new friends.

5. When you are not writing what do you like to do?
I love hanging out with my kids, chatting with my friends on The Writer's Alley or FB, going on walks in the mountains, reading, playing piano.

6. What one piece of advice would you like to give to aspiring writers?

WRITE. It's easy to have a great plan but no follow-through - writing is the only way to get a story written :-) I also strongly encourage getting involved with a writing group to have support from other aspiring/published authors. It also adds inspiration and accountability...in that order.

7. Who is your favorite author or book that you would like to recommend to your readers?

Laura Frantz - top choice! Always! Her characters are memorable, storylines are strong, and her writing is beautifully lyrical.

Pepper Basham Author Promo Video from Dan Phillips on Vimeo.

January 27, 2016

The Secrets of Lizzie Borden by Brandy Purdy

I received this book from the author in exchange for a fair and honest review

Published: January 26, 2016
Number of pages: 384
Genre: Historical Fiction

In her enthralling, richly imagined new novel, Brandy Purdy, author of The Ripper’s Wife, creates a compelling portrait of the real, complex woman behind an unthinkable crime. Lizzie Borden should be one of the most fortunate young women in Fall River, Massachusetts. Her wealthy father could easily afford to provide his daughters with fashionable clothes, travel, and a rich, cultured life. Instead, haunted by the ghost of childhood poverty, he forces Lizzie and her sister, Emma, to live frugally, denying them the simplest modern conveniences. Suitors and socializing are discouraged, as her father views all gentleman callers as fortune hunters. Lonely and deeply unhappy, Lizzie stifles her frustration, dreaming of the freedom that will come with her eventual inheritance. But soon, even that chance of future independence seems about to be ripped away. And on a stifling August day in 1892, Lizzie’s long-simmering anger finally explodes… Vividly written and thought-provoking, The Secrets of Lizzie Borden explores the fascinating events behind a crime that continues to grip the public imagination—a story of how thwarted desires and desperate rage could turn a dutiful daughter into a notorious killer.

What did I think of this book:
I enjoy reading books by this author as she has a knack for telling us historical stories and making them more interesting, so when I was offered this book to read I was happy to say yes. Brandy Purdy does a very good job of protraying Lizzie Borden and all the dark things she went through in life. After reading about her childhood and young adult years you can kind of understand why she went a crazy and committed the murders. I can not imagine all that she had to endure although this book gives us a pretty good idea. Her father was so mean and crazy. There is such vivid description in this book you feel as if you can really feel the emotions that Lizzie felt. You felt as if you were right there alongside her throughout her sad life. It seems as if there was not much happiness in Lizzie's life and I felt bad for her. You could tell that the author did a lot of research to get this book just right. I would recommend this book if you are looking to learn a little more about a dark piece of history. 

January 25, 2016

Me Before You by JoJo Moyes - Review

Published: July 30, 2013
Number of pages: 369
Genre: Fiction

Lou Clark knows lots of things. She knows how many footsteps there are between the bus stop and home. She knows she likes working in The Buttered Bun tea shop and she knows she might not love her boyfriend Patrick.

What Lou doesn't know is she's about to lose her job or that knowing what's coming is what keeps her sane.

Will Traynor knows his motorcycle accident took away his desire to live. He knows everything feels very small and rather joyless now and he knows exactly how he's going to put a stop to that.

What Will doesn't know is that Lou is about to burst into his world in a riot of colour. And neither of them knows they're going to change the other for all time.

What did I think of this book:
Wow! I have to say that I orginially picked this book up because I saw this author mentioned many places and it came recommended to me from a friend, so I thought ok I will give it a chance. This book is definately going to be on my list of books that are my all time favorite books ever. It was a book that I did not want to put down but at the same time did not want to rush through it because I did not want it to end. When I first met Will I thought I am not going to like him, but I ended up really liking him not that far into the book. Then we have Lou she could make me smile and shake my head all at the say time. She was a little bit of a goof but that is what I liked about her. I could not imagine being in Will's position and all of the hate going through his head. The way the author wrote the story she would give you a view from other major characters in this story. By doing this I think it added to the story line perfectly. My only complaint is that I wish I had the second book: After You so I could start it tonight as I want to know what happens next for Lou and the Traynors. This is a book I will recommend to everyone I talk to and I think it is fitting for young adults to read as well. I will be checking out other books written by this author as well. 

About the author:
Jojo Moyes is a British novelist.

Moyes studied at Royal Holloway, University of London. She won a bursary financed by The Independent newspaper to study journalism at City University and subsequently worked for The Independent for 10 years. In 2001 she became a full time novelist.

Moyes' novel Foreign Fruit won the Romantic Novelists' Association (RNA) Romantic Novel of the Year in 2004.

She is married to journalist Charles Arthur and has three children.

Beyond the Silence by Tracie Peterson and Kimberley Woodhouse - Review and Giveaway (from Litfuse)

I received this book from Litfuse in exchange for a fair and honest review

Published: January 5, 2016
Number of pages: 352
Genre: Historical Fiction

The shadows over this olive grove hide more than just the truth.

Lillian Porter has always wanted to fulfill her mother's dream of going west, so when she hears about a nanny position in Angels Camp, California, she defies her grandfather and takes a chance on a new future. But she quickly wonders if she made the right choice. Murky rumors swirl around Woodward Colton, her new employer, but the gossip doesn't match the man Lillian comes to know.

Still, something dark did happen in the family's past. Lillian's seven-year-old charge hasn't spoken in over a year. Gently, Lillian tries to coax him out of his shell, hoping he'll one day feel safe enough to share what scared him. But the Colton olive farm is no longer a safe place. Lillian encounters suspicious characters on their land and mysterious damage done to the farm. When the housekeeper is brutally attacked, the town once again suspects the worst. Will discovering the truth help Lillian clear the name of the man she has come to love---or will it endanger her even more?

What did I think of this book:
I have enjoyed Tracie's books and was happy that I got the chance to review this book for her. Both authors capture from the first page with the characters they chose to write about. They did a good job with developing the characters and making them come off the page. The descriptions of the scenes were also well done and you felt as if you could see what the author was talking about. I liked how they really made you feel as if you were back in time. There is also an element of suspense in this story which adds to the story line.  Their writing style makes this book very easy to read quickly. It is one of those books that you can put down as you want the story to continue on. I really liked how Lillian worked with the little boy to try to get him to speak again. She was a gentle loving person to him. It had to be hard for her to leave her family to go become a nanny but I feel she made the right decision for her life after all is said and done. I highly recommend this book for a day of reading on a cold winter day. 

About the authors:
Tracie Peterson is the bestselling, award-winning author of more than 100 novels. Tracie also teaches writing workshops at a variety of conferences on subjects such as inspirational romance and historical research. She and her family live in Montana.

Connect with Tracie: website, Facebook

Kimberley Woodhouse is a multipublished author of fiction and nonfiction. A popular speaker/teacher, she's shared her theme of Joy Through Trials with over 150,000 people at more than a thousand venues across the country. She lives, writes, and homeschools with her husband of twenty-plus years and their two awesome teens live in Colorado.

Connect with Kimberley: website, Twitter, Facebook

Lillian Porter takes a chance on a new job and a new future . . . but rumors surrounding her job make Lillian begin to wonder if she made the right choice in Tracie Peterson and Kimberley Woodhouse's Beyond the Silence. There are rumors in town that her new employer, Woodward Colton, caused the death of his wife. This accusation doesn't match the man Lillian comes to know . . . but soon the Colton olive farm is no longer a safe place. Lillian encounters suspicious characters on their land and mysterious damage done to the farm. Will Mrs. Goodman and Jimmy be able to speak what they know in time to save Lillian from tragedy?

Tracie and Kimberley are celebrating the launch of Beyond the Silence with a Loaded Fire Prize Pack giveaway (details below) and an author chat party on February 11!

beyond silence-400 

One grand prize winner will receive:
  • One copy of Beyond the Silence
  • A Kindle Fire 7
  • A $50 Amazon gift card to load your Fire with books
Enter today by clicking the icon below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on 2/11. The winner will be announced at the Beyond the Silence Facebook party. RSVP for a chance to connect with Tracie, Kimberley, and other readers, as well as for a chance to win other prizes!

beyond silence-enterbanner

RSVP today and spread the word—tell your friends about the giveaway via FACEBOOK, TWITTER, or PINTEREST and increase your chances of winning. Hope to see you on the 11th!

January 21, 2016

Spark Joy by Marie Kondo - Review

I received this book from Blogging For Books in exchange for a fair and honest review

Published: January 5, 2016
Number of pages: 304
Genre: Self-Help

Japanese decluttering guru Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up has revolutionized homes—and lives—across the world. Now, Kondo presents an illustrated guide to her acclaimed KonMari Method, with step-by-step folding illustrations for everything from shirts to socks, plus drawings of perfectly organized drawers and closets. She also provides advice on frequently asked questions, such as whether to keep “necessary” items that may not bring you joy. With guidance on specific categories including kitchen tools, cleaning supplies, hobby goods, and digital photos, this comprehensive companion is sure to spark joy in anyone who wants to simplify their life.

What did I think of this book:
This is the second book by this author that I have read and I have enjoyed both of the. If you read them with an open mind I feel that you will find what she has to say to be helpful and makes sense. Also if you have not read her first book about tidying up I would suggest reading it first as this is a great companion/follow up book to that. I thought this was a very interesting book with some good ideas. I am looking forward to going through my things and deciding what to keep that sparks joy and what I do not need to keep anymore. I also liked how there were illustrations to go along with some things, like how to fold things. I thought that was helpful. I definately recommend this book if you are wanting to declutter your life.

About the author:
MARIE KONDO is the #1 New York Times best-selling author of The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up (also a best seller in Japan, Germany, and the UK) and was named one of Time magazine's 100 Most Influential People of 2015. She is the founder of the KonMari Method.

January 20, 2016

Dangerous Gentlemen by Beverley Oakley - Spotlight and Giveaway

Dangerous Gentlemen 
Daughters of Sin Book 2
By Beverley Oakley
Beverley is giving away a $10 Amazon Gift Certificate and 1 ebook of Her Gilded Prison (Book 1 in the Daughters of Sin). Please use the RaffleCopter below to enter. Remember you may increase your chances of winning by visiting the other tour stops. Those locations may be found here

Shy, self-effacing Henrietta knows her place—in her dazzling older sister’s shadow. She’s a little brown peahen to Araminta’s bird of paradise. But when Hetty mistakenly becomes embroiled in the Regency underworld, the innocent debutante finds herself shockingly compromised by the dashing, dangerous Sir Aubrey, the very gentleman her heart desires. And the man Araminta has in her cold, calculating sights.
Branded an enemy of the Crown, bitter over the loss of his wife, Sir Aubrey wants only to lose himself in the warm, willing body of the young “prostitute” Hetty. As he tutors her in the art of lovemaking, Aubrey is pleased to find Hetty not only an ardent student, but a bright, witty and charming companion.
Despite a spoiled Araminta plotting for a marriage offer and a powerful political enemy damaging his reputation, Aubrey may suffer the greatest betrayal at the hands of the little “concubine” who’s managed to breach the stony exterior of his heart.
Buy Links:
Amazon  B&N

In this extract, Hetty, a debutante and viscount’s daughter, is returning from the mending room at a ball when she learns that a certain interesting and ‘dangerous gentleman’ is a house-guest.
With a furtive look around her, Hetty hurried left and up the stairs, at which point two corridors at right angles disappeared into darkness. Choosing the one to the right, she found herself face-to-face with a series of closed doors.
Foolish, she chided herself. Of course they were closed and she could hardly open them. As she turned back toward the ballroom, a faint light shining from the crack beneath a door that was slightly ajar gleamed beckoningly.
Glancing over her shoulder, she approached it, and when she gave the door a little nudge with her foot, it swung open.
Excitement rippled through her.
“Hello?” she asked in a low voice. She took another step into the room. “Is anyone in here?”
Silence. A low fire burned in the grate before which was a table, against which were propped several items, including a familiar silver-topped cane. Her breath caught. The last time she’d seen that cane was when Sir Aubrey had exchanged several words with Araminta in the street as Hetty had been bringing up the rear with Mrs. Monks. Of course Sir Aubrey had not looked twice at her, excusing himself before having to be introduced to the younger sister and the chaperone who’d nearly closed the gap.
Heart hammering, Hetty closed the door behind her and went to pick up the cane.
How fortunate to have stumbled into Sir Aubrey’s room, she thought when she observed the fine coat lying upon the bed, apparently discarded in favor of what he was wearing tonight.
He really was a nonpareil, wearing his clothes as if they were an extension of his athletic physique.
Yet he was dangerous, she had to remind herself. Meaning she should not be here, which of course she shouldn’t, regardless of whether he was dangerous or not.
But how such a scion of good breeding and genteel society could be guilty of such a heinous crime as treason, Hetty could not imagine. And surely the story of the runaway wife was a gilded one. It was all the stuff of make-believe and Cousin Stephen was only telling Hetty he was dangerous to curb her schoolroom daydreams.
Turning, she saw half protruding from beneath the suit of clothes what appeared to be the edge of a silver, filigreed box. It was partly obscured by the overhang of the counterpane, as if it hadn’t properly been returned to its hiding place.
A moment’s indecision made her pause but soon Hetty was crouching on the floor, closing clammy fingers around the box. Might it contain secrets? Ones that would reveal, conclusively, what Cousin Stephen claimed was true?
Alternatively, proof that would exonerate Sir Aubrey?
Hetty fumbled for the catch. Dear Lord, this was too exciting for words. Perhaps Sir Aubrey was a secret agent working for the English, and Stephen had no idea.
Perhaps he was—
Protesting door hinges made her squeal as the door was flung wide. Hetty let the lid of the box fall and retreated into the shadows as Sir Aubrey strode into the room.
He was breathing heavily as he shrugged off his jacket with a curse, raindrops spattering into the hissing fire as he raked his fingers through his hair. A curious stillness overtook him and he froze, obviously sensing all was not as he left it.
He sniffed the air. “Orange flower water,” he muttered, stepping closer to the fire, fumbling for the tinderbox on the mantelpiece to light a candle.
Immediately he was thrown into sharp relief and as he stared at Hetty, it was not his look of shock and suspicion that made her scream—but the copious amounts of blood that stained his shirtsleeves and once snowy linen cravat.
“God Almighty, who are you?” he demanded as his gaze raked her finery. “You’re no parlor maid, that’s for certain.”
Gaping, unable to formulate a sensible answer, Hetty finally managed, “What happened to your arm, Sir Aubrey? Are you injured?”
“Sir Aubrey, is it? So you know who I am but you still haven’t told me who you are?” He grunted as he looked down at his arm, the bloodied linen shredded over the long graze. “It’s not as bad as it looks and I assure you, I gave a good account of myself.” His laugh was more a sneer. “Indeed, my assailant lies dead in the gutter.”
Hetty gasped. “Dueling?” Myriad questions crowded her mind. Could this be to do with Araminta? Had Sir Aubrey left Araminta in the middle of the ball to fight some other contender for her affections?
“Dueling?” he repeated. He shook his head and Hetty drew back at the coldness in his eyes. “There was nothing noble about my activities this evening. I was set upon in a dark alley. A short scuffle ensued, I drew my knife, then…” With his hand, he made a gesture like the slitting of his throat, adding, “I am slightly wounded but as I said, my attacker does not live to repeat the insult.”
Her horror clearly amused him, for his eyes narrowed while his generous mouth quirked. He looked like an incarnation of the most handsome demon she’d ever seen depicted in the fairy stories she loved to read.
“We all have enemies, madam. Enemies who must be eliminated if we are to breathe freely.”
Aubrey was enjoying the girl’s wide-eyed terror. No doubt she imagined he’d sliced the throat of a footpad, not the snarling, mangy cur who had leapt upon him as he’d been returning from his brief assignation to settle a gaming debt incurred by his favorite reprobate nephew.
Taking pity on her, he said reassuringly, “Don’t worry. I won’t hurt you.’ Her wide-eyed look as he removed first his jacket, then the bloodied shirt he tossed upon the bed before he rose to his full height, bare chested, afforded him the most amusement he’d had in a long time. “So, you’re the girl Madame Chambon sent?”

Meet the Author: 
Beverley Oakley was seventeen when she bundled up her first her 500+ page romance and sent it to a publisher. Unfortunately drowning her heroine on the last page was apparently not in line with the expectations of romance readers so Beverley became a journalist.
Twenty-six years later Beverley was delighted to receive her first publishing contract from Robert Hale (UK) for a romance in which she ensured her heroine was saved from drowning in the icy North Sea.
Since 2009 Beverley has written more than thirteen historical romances filled with mystery, intrigue and adventure. Most are set in London ballrooms and country estates during the Georgian, Regency and Victorian eras.
Beverley lives with her husband, two daughters and a Rhodesian Ridgeback puppy the size of a pony opposite a picturesque nineteenth-century lunatic asylum. She also writes less steamy historicals and romantic suspense set in Colonial Africa, where she was born, as Beverley Eikli. Beverley's Links: Website | Blog | Mailing List | Twitter | Facebook | Facebook 

January 19, 2016

With This Ring? by Karen Witemeyer, Mary Connealy, Regina Jennings and Melissa Jagears - Review

I received this book from Bethany House in exchange for a fair and honest review

Published: January 5, 2016
Number of pages: 368
Genre: Historical Romance

Four top historical romance novelists team up in this new collection to offer stories of love and romance with a twist of humor. In Karen Witemeyer's "The Husband Maneuver," Marietta Hawkins decides to grab the reins when the ranch foreman she loves seems to be leaving forever. Regina Jennings offers "Her Dearly Unintended," where friends stranded by a rising river pretend to be newlyweds when a dangerous stranger arrives.

Mary Connealy's "Runaway Bride" finds a Texas ranger getting more than he expected when he rescues a young woman fleeing a dangerous arranged marriage. And Melissa Jagears' "Engaging the Competition" finds a young woman forced to assist the man she's often sparred with after an accident leaves him helpless. Each tale is a fun blend of history and romance that will delight readers.

What did I think of this book:
This was a fun book to read. I liked that the stories were short as it made the book read very quickly although I did wish the stories would have gone on a little longer. This book appealed to me as it was hitorical romance which is a genre I enjoy. Each author did a good job with the historical ascpect of their stories. Another thing I liked is that each of the characters were so real. Each story has a bit of humor in them as you will see as well as how some award situtations can end up turning out for the good. I don't know that I could pick out a favorite as they were all very good. If you have read these authors before you will enjoy this book as each of the stories have characters from their other books. If you have not read any books by these authors then give them a try and you will find them enjoyable. 

Late Harvest Havoc by Jean-Pierre Alaux and Noel Balen - Review/Excerpt/Giveaway

 Late Harvest Havoc
I received this book from the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review

Published: December 15, 2015
Number of pages: 169
Genre: Mystery
Series: Winemaker Detective #10

Vineyard revenge. Winter is in the air in Alsace and local customs are sowing trouble, piquing the curiosity of the famous winemaker from Bordeaux, Benjamin Cooker. While the wine expert and his assistant Virgile settle into their hotel in the old city of Colmar, distinguished vineyards are attacked. Is it revenge? The plot thickens when estates with no apparent connection to one another suffer the same sabotage just days prior to the late harvest. All of Alsace is in turmoil, plunged in the grip of suspicion that traces its roots back to the darkest hours of the German occupation. As he crosses back and forth into Germany from the Alsace he thought he knew so well, Cooker discovers a land of superstition, rivalry, and jealousy. Between tastings of the celebrated wines, he is drawn into the lives and intrigues of the inhabitants. 

What did I think of this book:
As you know I have been enjoying this series more and more with each book that is added to it. I have to say them one may have been my favorite or at least it is right up there at the top. As always we learn about wines as we read as well as we get to learn about a new part of the world in this book. I love the descriptions of the setting as it makes me feel as if I am right there along with the characters in the story. This book in particular I think was full of even more adventure and drama. I love how Benjamin and Virgile play off of each other in these books. It helps make for a good story line by having the characters so well developed. I can't wait to see what these authors have to offer us in the next book. 

Benjamin smiled. Virgile’s company was helping him recover his usual cheerfulness. It wasn’t so much the tour guide’s sudden death that was dragging him down. It was the prospect of vinifying Fritz Loewenberg’s Moselle wines. Goldtröpfchen was certainly a beautiful German village set in sloping and magnificently maintained vineyards, but the wine that came from its stocks was too sweet. Making honey from grapes was not Benjamin’s cup of tea. He had been clear with Loewenberg and had only accepted the assignment because the man had set his sights on a Saint-Emilion grand cru. The deal was making headway, and Benjamin was lending support to an operation that would cause a stir in Bordeaux. For the German businessman, having a Bordeaux vineyard was a way to restore his image in his Moselle homeland. Bad yeast during vinification had marred his wine the previous year.

It was a matter of spending a week across the Rhine in Germany. Benjamin had used the assignment as an opportunity to visit the hills of Alsace with his assistant, because Virgile was almost completely unfamiliar with its extraordinary wines.

“Tomorrow we’ll drive to Colmar. And from there we’ll start exploring,” Benjamin said before biting into a slice of bread coated with a thick layer of foie gras. “Maybe we’ll even go all the way to Ammerschwihr. This matter of the vines cut down with a chainsaw is perplexing, to say the least.”

“What happened again?” Virgile asked. “How many plants were cut?”

“One hundred and twenty. All destroyed in a single night.”

“Sacrilege! And the papers say the investigators have no leads.”

“Reporters are like pathetic winemakers churning out plonk,” grumbled Benjamin. “We’re lucky if we get half the story.”

“Well, it does seem that the cops are having a hard time with this, boss. What are your thoughts?”

Benjamin Cooker wiped his mouth and took two sips of his riesling.

“Clearly, this is an act of vengeance that dates to some deep-rooted rancor.”

Virgile, trying to imitate his employer, took one sip of his wine, then a second, and then a third. “This is Alsace,” he finally said. “Revenge is bound to be slow in coming, like the late harvest wines made in this region—and that would certainly wreak havoc. Right, boss?”

“‘Late Harvest Havoc.’ Sounds like the title of a mystery. Virgile, I think you’ve inherited your grandfather’s wit.”

About the authors:
 Jean-Pierre Alaux and Noël Balen, wine lover and music lover respectively, came up with the idea for the Winemaker Detective series while sharing a meal, with a bottle of Château Gaudou 1996, a red wine from Cahors with smooth tannins and a balanced nose.
About the Translator:
Sally Pane studied French at State University of New York Oswego and the Sorbonne before receiving her Masters Degree in French Literature from the University of Colorado where she wrote Camus and the Americas: A Thematic Analysis of Three Works Based on His Journaux de Voyage. Her career includes more than twenty years of translating and teaching French and Italian at Berlitz and at University of Colorado Boulder. She has worked in scientific, legal and literary translation; her literary translations include Operatic Arias; Singers Edition, and Reality and the Untheorizable by Clément Rosset, along with a number of titles in the Winemaker Detective series. She also served as the interpreter for the government cabinet of Rwanda and translated for Dian Fossey’s Digit Fund. In addition to her passion for French, she has studied Italian at Colorado University, in Rome and in Siena. She lives in Boulder, Colorado with her husband.

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Winemaker Detective Series:
#1 Treachery in Bordeaux,
#2 Grand Cru Heist,
#3 Nightmare in Burgundy,
#4 Deadly Tasting,
#5 Cognac Conspiracies,
#6 Mayhem in Margaux,
#7 Flambé in Armagnac
#8 Mysteries in Montmartre,
#9 Backstabbing in Beaujolais
#10 Late Harvest Havoc
Global giveaway open internationally: 5 participants will each win a print or digital copy of this book. Be sure to follow each participant on Twitter/Facebook, for more chances to win

Visit each blogger on the tour: tweeting about the giveaway everyday of the Tour will give you 5 extra entries each time! [just follow the directions on the entry-form]




Monday, January 4
Review + Excerpt + Giveaway at It’s a Mad Mad World

Wednesday, January 6
Review + Giveaway at The Discerning Reader

Thursday, January 7
Review + Giveaway at Queen of All She Reads

Saturday, January 16
Review at BookerTalk

Tuesday, January 19
Review + Excerpt + Giveaway at Griperang’s Bookmarks

Friday, January 22
Review + Giveaway at LibriAmoriMiei

Saturday, January 23
Review + Giveaway at Words And Peace

January 17, 2016

Death by Darjeeling by Laura Childs - Review

Published: May 1, 2001
Number of pages: 242
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Series: Tea Shop Mystery #1

Meet Theodosia Browning, owner of Charleston's beloved Indigo Tea Shop. Patrons love her blend of delicious tea tastings and southern hospitality. And Theo enjoys the full-bodied flavor of a town steeped in history -- and mystery... — It's tea for two hundred or so at the annual historic homes garden party. And Theodosia, as event caterer, is busy serving steaming teas and blackberry scones while guests sing her praises. But the sweet smell of success turns to suspense when an esteemed guest is found dead -- his hand clutching an empty teacup. All eyes are on Theo... who is now trying desperately to save her reputation and track down the real killer. If only she can make sense of it all--before someone else takes their last sip...

What did I think of this book:
This was a re-read for me and luckily I don't remember what I read especially if it has been years. I enjoyed this book every bit as much as I do the scrapbooking mysteries that Laura writes. I can't wait to continue on with this series. The characters are fun, the tea shop is quaint and I enjoy the all the talk about the different teas. Laura Childs has a knack for giving us such vivid descriptions. The teas she describes have such fun names and sound so tasty that I would love to find them to try. The descriptions of Charleston make you able to "see" the places she is talking about and want to visit to see them with your own eyes. The historical churches she mentions sound so nice that I want to research them to see them. I am sure the rest of the series will be just as good as Laura has never written a book I have not been happy with.