Saturday, August 31, 2013

Books I Got

It's been established so clearly that I can't even lie about it: I have no self-control when it comes to books. I acquire them at a much faster rate than I can actually read and review them, but hopefully these posts will help those books get some exposure NOW instead of waiting until I actually manage to find time to, you know, read them.

This post is for some of the books I've gotten in the past month or so.

For Review

Bellman & Black
By Diane Setterfield

I can't even. I just. Ok, I LOVE Diane Setterfield's Gothic debut The Thirteenth Tale SO, so, so much. That book came out in 2006 and Mrs. Setterfield has made me wait an incredibly long time for a second book.

And what a second book! It's a ghost story!! I LOVE ghost stories!

Which means my expectations are scary high and I'm a nervous wreak because I want to drop life and start reading Bellman & Black RIGHT NOW, but I also don't want to finish it too quickly (are you going to make me wait another seven years for more wonderfulness once I've finished this??) and....what if I don't love it as much?

See? Stupid expectations. I'm just going to have to resign myself to the idea that I'm going to hate it, so that this way I can love it. Does that even make sense?

Received from Atria's Galley Alley.

The King Arthur Trilogy: Dragon's Child
by M. K. Hume

I love Arthurian books, but I like it when they stick to MY idea of what the characters should be like (Merlin had better be good!) and I don't care if they're historically grounded. Also, I like magic.

My husband wants minimal to no magic and lots of historical grounding. He doesn't care if liberties are taken with the characters' roles.

Basically, I want myth, pageantry, romanticism, and characters to root for. He wants gritty historical battles with gritty historically accurate people.

So at least one of us will like this book.

Received from Atria's Galley Alley.

Blood & Beauty
by Sarah Dunant

I've been watching Showtime's The Borgias this past month and, of course, I went on a Goodreads spree adding lots of Borgia books onto my TBR. Blood & Beauty was one such book.

Then, two days later I get a package in the mail containing THIS BOOK.

So of course I felt totally paranoid (book clutching and furtive glances abounded) and maybe a little bit special because somehow these omniscient publishers decided to turn their attention to little me and gift me with the exact book I wanted!

And then I read the paper inside explaining how I had won a copy through a Shelf Awareness giveaway I entered months ago.

So, yeah. But, yay book!  

Thieves' Quarry
by D. B. Jackson

So the Borgia book situation wasn't as Big Brother as I thought. But this book, this book was totally the result of my psychic powers at work!

Ok, picture it: My living room, July, I'm sitting on the couch lamenting how I don't have nearly enough exciting Revolutionary War books to read. Why don't authors write them more often? This is a fantastic period in history and most of what I seem to have to choose from are assigned reading for middle schoolers and non-fiction.

Now enter Awesome Publisher. I get an email about D. B. Jackson's sequel in a series about pre-Revolutionary America! So, setting? Check! But wait, what's that stuff floating around his hand on the cover? Could it be...magic??


Basically this series is set right before the American Revolution but includes magic, mystery, and what sounds like a super badass protagonist (the guy on the cover, I presume). Also, I can apparently read the books out of order. Score!

Pitched and received from publisher.

Confessions of Marie Antoinette
by Juliet Grey

I read the first and second books in this series and LOVE THEM SO MUCH. They're adult books that are heavy on the historical details, but with a first person narration from Marie's perspective that makes her totally BFF likable.

You can really tell Juliet Grey is a sympathetic supporter of Marie Antoinette, but the books are still balanced in portraying her faults as well.

These are my favorite Marie Antoinette books (slightly higher than my other favorite The Bad Queen, a YA book by Carolyn Meyer) and I am super excited to read the final installment in the series (even though I know I won't like how it ends! *sobs*)

Requested and received through NetGalley.


The Seance
by John Harwood

I read this book because I was hoping it would be good like The Thirteenth Tale, and while it wasn't quite as wonderful, I loved it a whole lot and book pushered it into the hands of many library patrons.

So when I saw it for sale on the bargain books shelf, I couldn't resist. This is for sure a book I want to reread and now it's mineeeee all mineeeeee!!

The Restorer
by Amanda Stevens

Look, I'll be honest. I don't really want to read this book. I don't really like urban fantasy and I've decided in my head that I won't like The Restorer. And now I'm even getting petulant about it.

But, Ruby and I have a book club together where we read books one or both of us have loved, read books we've both been meaning to read, and read books we both want to read but don't think we'd actually read without a support group.  

The Restorer falls into the category of "books one of us loves" and the one who loves it is Ruby. She also loves the romance and the male lead, which I have to admit is the thing that's kind of intriguing me because I like Ruby's taste in men.

So, fine. I'll try it.

Besides, Ruby hasn't steered me wrong yet.

A Countess Below Stairs
by Eva Ibbotson

This is another Ruby book club book. I have an irrational reluctance to read Eva Ibbotson because in my head I think her books are long and boring. Why? I have no idea.

I had this same irrational fear of Juliet Marillier, and Ruby cured me of that, so hopefully the same will happen here.

What did you get this week? Are you interested in reading any of these books? What did you think of them if you've read them already?


Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Book Review: Crown of Midnight by Sarah J. Maas

Release Date: August 27, 2013
Publisher: Bloomsbury 
Pages: 432
Received: ARC from publisher, via NetGalley, pre-ordered
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars, Special Shelf

This is a sequel, and while there aren't any MAJOR spoilers for the first book, there are a few (like, if a mention a character, you kind of know they didn't die in the first book!)

Worried about spoilers? Read my review of the first book Throne of Glass instead!


From Goodreads:

After a year of hard labor in the Salt Mines of Endovier, eighteen-year-old assassin Celaena Sardothien has won the king's contest to become the new royal assassin. Yet Celaena is far from loyal to the crown – a secret she hides from even her most intimate confidantes.

Keeping up the deadly charade—while pretending to do the king's bidding—will test her in frightening new ways, especially when she's given a task that could jeopardize everything she's come to care for. And there are far more dangerous forces gathering on the horizon -- forces that threaten to destroy her entire world, and will surely force Celaena to make a choice.

Where do the assassin’s loyalties lie, and who is she most willing to fight for?


What's higher than a five star Special Shelf rating? 

That's what I gave Throne of Glass, but Crown of Midnight blows it out of the water.

Crown of Midnight takes everything in Throne of Glass and adds MORE. There's more character depth, more action, more relationship exploration, more intrigue, and more heartbreak (oh my gosh the HEARTBREAK).

The scope of the story explodes from the contained Throne of Glass setting revolving around the competition to a more sprawling, epic-fantasy style with all sorts of layers and hints for things to come (those witches!!!).

If Throne of Glass was like dipping my toe into still waters, Crown of Midnight was taking a running leap and cannonballing into Sarah J. Maas's imagination.

I can't write my sleepover party invitation fast enough

It took me a little while to warm up to Celaena in Throne of Glass, but when it dawned on me that she was the girl version of every male character I love, I realized I'd just met my new best friend.

While I think Sarah J. Maas did a great job making Celaena more than a one-note character in Throne of Glass, Crown of Midnight deepens her characterization even further. The protective (but fun!) layers of arrogance are peeled back to reveal a girl with hopes, dreams, fears, insecurities, and hurts.

I ached for her. The best character I can compare her to now for sheer level of complexity and depth, fun and fluffy mixed with serious, is Buffy, and I can think of no higher praise than that. (Side note: If you haven't watched Buffy yet, go watch it!)

Crown of Midnight Celaena is just as kick-butt awesome as she was in Throne of Glass, but MORE. I knew she was this super badass assassin and she definitely had a few moments to show that off in Throne of Glass, but I always felt like she was holding back on me a little. And she was. So what happens when Celaena doesn't hold back?


I don't want to spoil one second of those scenes (and one in particular is a total re-read scene), but let's just say Celaena's arrogance over her abilities is downright HUMBLE.

But that re-read scene? Oh gosh, I can't even begin to talk about it. If you've read it, then YOU KNOW.

If you haven't read it, well, you're missing out. It was a powerhouse scene and I didn't know whether to cheer triumphantly, start punching people angrily, bask in the intrigue, fist pump the awesomeness, swoon uncontrollably, or SOB MY BLEEDING HEART OUT (x2).

So of course I did all of that, which is why Crown of Midnight comes with the Don't Read This in Public warning.

So what happens with the romance?

Throne of Glass had a love triangle I actually didn't hate, but Crown of Midnight makes it very clear early on who Celaena chooses. If you like the guy who *I* like and wanted her to end up with, then you'll be overjoyed with Crown of Midnight. Sarah J. Maas took my wildest dreams and gave me everything I wanted and more! The scene re-reading potential in this book is super high.

But... ok, I can't say anything more except that, but just know that the romance doesn't devlove into monotone sappiness that overwhelmes the book with boringnesss. Not at all. I laughed, I cried from pure happiness, I swooned, I raged, and I BAWLED. And that's all I'm going to say about that.

If you were rooting for the other side of the love triangle, sorry! But, unlike most losing sides of love triangles, this guy actually has a personality and plot all his own.

After reading Throne of Glass I had talked about how I hoped he would grow and develop into a character in his own right because I see more for him than getting relegated to third-wheel status. Thankfully, that totally happens in Crown of Midnight! He has his own stuff happening and I can't wait to see how it develops more in the next book.

And the secondary characters?

One of the strenghs of Throne of Glass was the super-developed side characters. I had strong feelings for each of them and they all seemed to have lives of their own (not just lives that revolve around the main character/plot point).

I was happy to see Kaltain return, and while her role is much smaller than in Throne of Glass, I have a feeling her parts are hinting toward something Significant in future books. Nehemia is also back, as is Fleetfoot and both are just as awesome as they were in Throne of Glass.

There are also a few new characters of which I have mixed feelings (as you're supposed to), but by far my favorite is the talking doorknob (who reminded me of a mix of Gwen's talking sword Vic from Mythos Academy and the general vibe of The Last Unicorn—two very good things).

And the plot?

I'm a sucker for sprawling epic fantasy plots that cover multiple realms, cultures, peoples, and, of course, feature lots of intrigue and layered history between them all.  

Throne of Glass hinted at this broader world, but Crown of Midnight BROUGHT it. This series is now the type of story where I can settle in and get my geek on analyzing all the tiny details of the world and people and how they all fit together.

While you definitely have to read Throne of Glass before starting Crown of Midnight, I also highly, highly recommend reading the prequel novellas, too. At the very least, read them before reading Crown of Midnight. I don't think readers would be lost without this backstory knowledge, but it added a whole new layer of enjoyment for me in both the characterization and the plot.

As far as pacing goes, well, you know me, I consider anything over 300 pages a long book and this one weighs in at a hefty 432 pages. But it wasn't nearly enough. I kept making myself try to read slower so I could savour it. I would have happily read another 400+ pages and would probably still have wanted more.

I was totally invested in both the plot and the characters, so there was never a dull moment for me. There are quieter moments that focus on character and relationship building, but I was just as entralled by these scenes as I was by the heart-pounding action scenes (of which there were also a lot).

But the ending? I'm STILL struggling to know what to do with myself until the release of book three. It's such a cliffhanger! Plus, I'm so wrapped up in these characters and this world that it's just downright cruel to rip me away from them and make me wait for more.

Oh, and a warning? Sarah J. Maas is the best kind of cruel author because she kills her characters and rips my heart out. In the most gut-wrenching ways. 

Bottom line

I've already re-read most of Crown of Midnight and Throne of Glass and the prequel novellas (and pre-ordered the print version of the prequel bindup!) and I would have read the bonus scenes but I'm saving them for when I desperately need another fix between publications. I'm holding myself over for now with the completely unrelated but still (co-) written by Sarah J. Maas Starkillers Cycle (which is awesome, by the way), but I'm dying for more Celeana now.

Sarah J. Maas is one of those rare Soul Twin authors who writes as if she has a line straight to my heart and she's giving me everything I've ever wanted in a book. Which is to say, she's an autobuy author for sure.

And, oh look, Crown of Midnight comes out today, so you know what that means? NO MORE WAITING! 

Explanation of rating system: Star Rating Key 

Do you have any questions about Crown of Midnight that I haven't addressed?
Feel free to ask in the comments!

Looking for another book like this?
You might like:

 Click on the pictures to go to my reviews.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Book Review: Far Far Away by Tom McNeal

Release Date: June 11, 2013
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
Pages: 384
Received: ARC from publisher, via NetGalley
Stars: 2
Goodreads Page

This book made me irritated. Like a skin irritation. Like a rash. Like something I just want to scrub off my skin. I'm actually annoyed with myself that I didn't DNF (it was that darn engaging narrator, more on him later).

Here's a list of things I didn't like:

  • The main character. He's SO weak. He comes across like a dull, dim child. So much so that I have a hard time even guessing at his age. He also doesn't ever actually DO anything except get pushed around and influenced by the other characters. Jeremy makes Bella Swan (even New Moon pining for Edward Bella Swan) seem like a vibrant, dynamic, go-getter in comparison. He doesn't grow AT ALL throughout the book. He just shifts from following one person to following a different person.
  • Ginger, the stereotypical "feisty girl" who is supposed to be the sparkling character who pulls Jeremy out of his shell and breathes life into his dormant existence. I just wanted her to shut up and leave the book. She isn't nearly as enchanting or original as I think she's supposed to be. I would have loved for someone to have stuck a giant wad of bubble gum in her hair.
  • The wandering plot. So much pointless stuff happens. Each time a new plot development would be introduced I'd hope that finally the plot would actually move somewhere. But no. I got the feeling all those little vignettes were supposed to be somehow poignant but I couldn't help but think, "Why am I wasting my time reading about this??"
  • The "It's just like a Grimm fairy tale!" tie ins. I don't think the obvious stick could have hit any harder. Sometimes it was effective and I did like it, but overall I wasn't loving the DID YOU GET THAT CLEVER ALLUSION, DIMWIT??? vibe when, duh, how could you not get it?
  • The LITERATURE vibe. I hate it when my books spend more time telling me they're high brow than in telling me a story.
  • The genre mash. Is this a contemporary romance? A mystery? A fairy tale? A true-crime thriller? A middle grade book? A YA book? An adult book? Fantasy? Realistic? Set in the present day? Set in the past? I never felt grounded and the mix of different elements didn't sit right with me. It felt convoluted and contrived. 
  • The obvious EVERYTHING. I was wrong about only one tiny thing, and I liked what I thought was happening better than what was actually happening. SPOILER! I was hoping the victims were used to make the prince cakes.

Things I did like:

  • LOVED Jacob Grimm, the ghost narrator. He spoke so beautifully, totally sucking me into the story despite the fact that I didn't actually care about the characters or events. His feelings for Jeremy were incredibly touching and actually made me shed a tear for Jeremy. Jacob serves as a ghostly guardian/best friend/father figure for Jeremy and he is fiercely protective. I loved the glimpses into Jacob's life, his journey through the afterlife, and his quest to find peace. HE did grow and change, though I loved him every step of the way.
  • The food descriptions. My gosh they were downright enthralling. Mouthwatering. Fantastic. It wouldn't matter if that food was poisoned, people, or intended to fatten me up for a witch's dinner, I'd eat it.

Bottom line: Despite a few things I absolutely LOVED, I'm so turned off that I'd be hard pressed to pick up another book by this author.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

DNF Explanation: Ink by Amanda Sun

DNF Explanation

Read: 100 of 368
Received: ARC from publisher

I seriously tried to stick with this book. I kept making little bargains with myself like, "Just read until you discover what the mythology is all about and if you still don't like it then you can quit" or "Just read an hour a day and you'll be finished in no time!"

I even started skimming in the hopes that I could hurry up through the boring stuff and get to the meat of the story. I did that for about two pages before I realized this is ridiculous and by gosh I am a shameless DNF-er and I've championed the idea of not wasting any time with books I'm not feeling when there are a bizillion books I could be reading instead and I just needed to stick to my guns and DNF already. So I did.

Is there a pre-req Manga course I was supposed to take?

First, the feeling that I was missing something. The main character Katie is an American girl suddenly thrown into living in Japan and she totally feels like a fish out of water. And I got that feeling. Amanda Sun did a great job of making me feel like I was dropped into something completely foreign and disorienting and not at all something I can relate to. Hey, just like Katie!

Except I HATE that feeling. I like order and planning and knowing exactly what I'm getting into. I don't even like changing plans at the last minute.

And, ok, I love reading historical fiction and mentally traveling to all these different places that are just as foreign to me as modern day Japan, but at least I feel grounded in those stories. Amanda Sun bombarded me with all sorts of  random cultural things like naming conventions and stuff like that, but she didn't provide me with a coherent framework at all.

I felt like I was at a social gathering with a blindfold and a bunch of people animatedly talking about all these tiny details about a movie I've never watched and no one will stop discussing for one second to just clue me in on a basic plot summary.

The fact that Amanda Sun used Japanese terms to describe half the stuff didn't help AT ALL, either.

And a pre-req Japanese course?

Which leads to my second reason for DNF-ing. Ok, look, I get it, we're in Japan. And you know what language people speak in Japan? Japanese. Totally understand that. And I totally get that the dialogue I'm reading is actually being spoken by the characters in Japanese without the author interjecting Japanese words into the narrative every fifth word.

Which also doesn't make any sense because if the assumption is that everyone is speaking Japanese, then why am I reading a mix of mostly English with a few random Japanese words thrown in? I loathe it when authors do this (it is also far too common in historical fiction).

And, also, guess what language this reader speaks? Yeah, not Japanese. I'm irritated all over again just thinking about this.

Shunning in the cafeteria level hate

But fine. Maybe I could have put up with all that (I've certainly put up with the stupid random foreign language interjections thing before). I'm a character girl, plus I was looking forward to this nifty new mythology I kept hearing about.

So, characters. These characters were the same exact characters in every other cookie-cutter YA paranormal. Katie is blindingly dumb, abrasive, perfect (though she's the first to deny it!), and, oh yes, a stalker.

See, she meets this guy who is totally Bad News (so says everyone, including himself in a very cryptic Edward-ish "It's better if we're not friends because I'm dangerous" kinda way) and of course she immediately starts stalking and falling in love with him.

And if that wasn't pathetic enough (girl, get a life) Amanda Sun has totally convinced me that this guy is a grade A jerkface and I want nothing to do with him. Though he's also inexplicably drawn to Katie! But he needs to push he away. Except then he takes her out to dinner. And then pushes her away again. But then tells her he likes being near her. So, yeah.  

I read 100 pages, and most of that was filled with Katie acting like a psycho stalker. The rest was spent on her vehemently denying the possibility of paranormal happenings (she starts seeing drawings move) while also screaming at Jerkface that SHE KNOWS HE KNOWS SOMETHING WEIRD IS GOING ON WITH HIS PICTURES!

There's more, like bland place-holder friends and a mysterious-but-nice guy who will probably become the losing side of the inevitable love triangle, but does it even matter?

Oh, right, the mythology

WHAT mythology? Drawings move. Ink...drips? A lot? I'm sure there will be more, but at almost a third of the way in, I need a little more than that. Given the quality and lack of originality in the rest of the story, I don't have high hopes for the mythology. Maybe I'm wrong, but at this point I don't care.

Bottom line

Not for me. Then again, I had pretty similar things to say about Die For Me, so readers who liked that series would probably like Ink.

Do you want to read Ink? Because I'm totally willing to trade my copy! Email me at smallreview at yahoo dot com if you have something on my wishlist, ARC wishlist, or something you think I'd like!

Do you have any questions about Ink that I haven't addressed?
Feel free to ask in the comments!

Have you read Ink? What did you think about it? 

Looking for another book like this?
You might like:

 Click on the pictures to go to my reviews/Goodreads.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Mini Review: The Rose Bride by Nancy Holder

The Rose Bride
by Nancy Holder

Release Date: June 26, 2007
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Pages: 245
Received: Library
Stars: 3.5
Goodreads Page

I'm a big fan of the Once Upon a Time series, though admittedly some entries in the series have been stronger than others. The Rose Bride falls somewhere in the middle.

Nancy Holder nailed the fairy tale feeling and the whole story had that magical story quality that I like to see in retellings. That also means the characters aren't SUPER developed, but that's not really a problem in fairy tales. Still, surprisingly, especially considering it's such a short book, there's actually a lot of stuff going on in terms of both character growth and events. 

Rose, the heroine, was instantly likable and I felt strongly for her as she suffered through the requisite fairy tale trials (and they were so sad!). The villains of the story were creepy and easy to hate while still being people I cared about enough to continually hope they would redeem themselves in the end. The king had more depth than a stock Prince Charming, and I liked how he actually had a character arc of his own.

The story itself was really enjoyable. Elements are taken from the original Grimm version The White Bride and the Black One as well as Cinderella (or, more directly, the movie Ever After. Actually, VERY strongly from Ever After). There's also this whole part toward the latter half of the book that seems to speak directly (against) the fairy tale tradition of love at first sight. I'm not a big fan of instalove, so I especially appreciated this part.

But, everything wasn't perfect. The writing was jumbled in some parts with a few sentences making very little sense. Some plot points were also unnecessarily convoluted or not presented in the best way. They weren't deal breakers for me, but they were present enough that they're still worth noting.

I also didn't love the combination of French language and setting, a total fantasy kingdom, and Greek mythology. This was another feature that seemed jumbled. Two elements might have worked, but the presence of all three didn't make sense and was distracting.

Overall enjoyable and an entry worth reading by fans of the series. I'm glad I picked this up.

Looking for another book like this?
You might like:

 Click on the pictures to go to Goodreads.


Monday, August 5, 2013

Book Review: Fever 1793 by Laurie Halse Anderson

Release Date: September 1, 2000
Publisher: Aladdin (Simon & Schuster)
Pages: 272
Received: Own copy
Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Goodreads page


From Goodreads:

It's late summer 1793, and the streets of Philadelphia are abuzz with mosquitoes and rumors of fever. Down near the docks, many have taken ill, and the fatalities are mounting. Now they include Polly, the serving girl at the Cook Coffeehouse. But fourteen-year-old Mattie Cook doesn't get a moment to mourn the passing of her childhood playmate. 

New customers have overrun her family's coffee shop, located far from the mosquito-infested river, and Mattie's concerns of fever are all but overshadowed by dreams of growing her family's small business into a thriving enterprise. But when the fever begins to strike closer to home, Mattie's struggle to build a new life must give way to a new fight-the fight to stay alive.


Disease books!

I love historical fiction and I have a special (morbid?) interest in reading about plagues. So given that, I've had Fever 1793 on my TBR for a long time. Maybe it's the award or all the Laurie Halse Anderson fangirling I've heard, but for some reason I always shoved this book far down on my TBR priorty list. Hype scares me.

And then I didn't have a book to read and couldn't get to the library and figured I'd turn to my own shelves (finally) and read something I'd owned for years but still hadn't actually read.

Mattie can't hold a candle to Felicity* 

The main character does grow by the end of the book, but the problem with character growth means they need to start out at a point in need of growth, and that starting point can be irritating to read about.

Mattie acts spoiled and lazy with shameful (and anachronistic) work ethic. She's so judgy and I had a hard time finding anything about her to like.

But then people start dying!

And Mattie's personality matters less because the focus shifts to the disease. It's still about her because she's living through the events, but her as a person matters less than what's going on around her at the time. I was mostly fine with this though because I wasn't a fan of Mattie and I did find all the disease stuff very interesting.

The yellow fever outbreak is described well and with lots of historical details. I learned a whole bunch of stuff, which is exactly the reason I love reading historical books. MAJOR points for this! I entertained everyone around me with all sorts of wonderful facts about disease and eighteenth century living (I'm sure they were very pleased with me).

Even better, all these little factoids weren't just dropped in randomly. They were woven into the storyline in a way that felt natural and fluid. It wasn't boring or "educational" or anything like that. I felt like I was there, living through the nightmare right along with Mattie and the others. The world around me felt entirely real.

Then the disease abates and suddenly Mattie has grown and changed into a (sort of) better person. Is my "couldn't care less" feeling showing through? Well, I really couldn't care less.

Bottom line

Huge, super big points for historical writing, but zero points for Mattie (and really all the thinly developed characters).

I'm glad I read Fever 1793 and I'm glad I own it, but I don't think I'd bother buying a copy now if I didn't already have one. It's just, yeah, I liked the book. But I didn't love it and I don't fully get the hype. 

* That would be Felicity Merriman, the awesome Revolutionary girl to whom I still and will always compare all Revolutionary girls.

Explanation of rating system: Star Rating Key 

 Do you have any questions about Fever 1793 that I haven't addressed?
Feel free to ask in the comments!

Looking for another book like this?
You might like:

 Click on the pictures to go to my reviews.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Sidekicked Giveaway

Click on the picture for a list of blog tour stops

Info for the giveaway:
  • What you can win: A finished copy of Sidekicked by John David Anderson
  • As always, you do NOT have to be a follower
  • This giveaway is US only
  • You must be 13 years of age or older
  • One entry per person
  • I will contact the winner through email and the winner will have 24 hours to reply before a new winner is chosen
  • This giveaway closes on August 8th

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Release Blast: In Defense of the Queen + Giveaways

Bookblast with Prism Book Tours

Adventure, intrigues and assassins, a wild ride against time. Historical fiction with a flair is what Diener does best! - Nocturnal Book Reviews

In Defense of the Queen (Susanna Horenbout & John Parker, #3)In Defense of the Queen

by Michelle Diener

An artist never betrays her patron . . . especially one of the world's most powerful kings.

Susanna Horenbout has learned this lesson from the cradle. But when she receives a letter from her father telling her to do just that, she faces a dilemma. Betray Henry VIII, or carry out the request of her father’s employer, Margaret of Austria, and pass secret information to Henry’s queen, Katherine of Aragon.

Caught between the machinations of her husband and her nephew, the Emperor Charles, Queen Katherine needs all the allies she can get. But what can Susanna really do to help her, and even if she does, will it be enough?

Susanna and her betrothed, Parker——one of Henry's most trusted courtiers——balance on the knife’s edge of treason as they try to make sense of both international and domestic conspiracies. Sometimes, it's better the enemy you know . . .

Praise for the previous books:

With its richly detailed historical setting and intrigue-filled plot, “In a Treacherous Court” is simply irresistible. Chicago Tribune

“Awesome! History woven flawlessly into riveting fiction.” - Tammy J. Schneider (Special Features Editor and book reviewer at Affaire de Coeur Magazine)

“Just when readers think there is nothing new to be learned about Henry VIII, debut author Diener delivers a taut suspense . . . that will keep you turning the pages.” - Kathe Robin (4 star review in RT Magazine August 2011 issue)

Diener’s writing style is beautiful, to the point, vivid and exciting. This author is one to watch if you love the likes of Philippa Gregory or Anne Easter Smith. The characters are going to hook you first, and the intrigue will keep you turning the pages. - Reader’s Entertainment

Keeper offers a compelling, page-turning mystery packed with unexpected twists and turns, solid prose, always-fascinating court intrigue, and a unique story that feels like a classic mystery wrapped in a Tudor setting. - Book Addict Diary

Michelle DienerMichelle Diener writes historical fiction. Her Susanna Horenbout and John Parker series starts with IN A TREACHEROUS COURT. Set in the court of Henry VIII, it features the real historical figures of artist Susanna Horenbout and Henry’s Keeper of the Palace of Westminster and Yeoman of the King’s Robes, John Parker. It was followed by KEEPER OF THE KING'S SECRETS, also featuring Susanna Horenbout and John Parker, and DANGEROUS SANCTUARY, a short story with the same characters, set between the two books, is currently available as an ebook only.

THE EMPEROR'S CONSPIRACY, set during the Napoleonic Wars in London in 1811, was released on November 27th, 2012.

DAUGHTER OF THE SKY, set at the outbreak of the Anglo-Zulu War of 1879, was released on March 1st, 2013.

Michelle also contributed a short paranormal story to the ENTANGLED Anthology entitled BREAKING OUT. All the proceeds of the sale of ENTANGLED go to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation.

Michelle grew up in South Africa, and now lives in Australia with her husband and two children.

On SALE for $.99 

Amazon * Barnes & Noble * iTunes * Kobo


* $50 Amazon Gift Card.

* 2 Print copy sets of In a Treacherous Court, Keeper of the King's Secrets & In Defense of the Queen. USA, Canada & UK only.

* 10 eCopies of In Defense of the Queen. International. 

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