Friday, October 24, 2014

HF Virtual Book Tours Review and Giveaway: Floats The Dark Shadow by Yves Fey

Title: Floats The Dark Shadow
Author: Yves Fey
Format: Paperback
Publisher: Bearcat Press
Publish Date: August 2012
Source: HF Virtual Book Tours






What's the Story?:

From Goodreads.com: "Young American painter Theodora Faraday struggles to become an artist in Belle Époque Paris. She's tasted the champagne of success, illustrating poems for the Revenants, a group of poets led by her adored cousin, Averill. When children she knows vanish mysteriously, Theo confronts Inspecteur Michel Devaux who suspects the Revenants are involved. Theo refuses to believe the killer could be a friend-could be the man she loves. Classic detection and occult revelation lead Michel and Theo through the dark underbelly of Paris, from catacombs to asylums, to the obscene ritual of a Black Mass. Following the maze of clues they discover the murderer believes he is the reincarnation of the most evil serial killer in the history of France-Gilles de Rais. Once Joan of Arc's lieutenant, after her death he plunged into an orgy of evil. The Church burned him at the stake for heresy, sorcery, and the depraved murder of hundreds of peasant children. Whether deranged mind or demonic passion incite him, the killer must be found before he strikes again."

My Two Cents:

This book's title, "Floats the Dark Shadow," itself makes this book sound dark and it is! The book is set in Paris during the Belle Epoque, which is an exciting and dangerous place. In the story, our main characters, Michel and young American painter Theodora, are faced with solving a series of gruesome crimes. The killer is somebody who fancies himself to be the reincarnation of one of the most famous and dangerous serial killers ever. This book is definitely dark and definitely not for the faint of heart but if you're looking for something exciting that will keep you turning the pages, this just may be a perfect pick so close to Halloween!

While this book took me a little bit of time to get into, it picks up very quickly as Theodora finds herself on the front lines with this most dangerous killer. I thought that it was a really interesting idea that the killer believes himself to be a reincarnation of one of Joan of Arc's lieutenants gone bad. It definitely made for an intriguing storyline!

This book was definitely suspenseful and definitely had a good deal of mystery going on! I liked how the author was able to keep us guessing with how our heroes were going to solve the crime. This definitely kept me on my toes! I also really liked how Paris itself almost becomes a character in this book. This Paris is not the city of lights, it is more like this idea of darkness and depravity. Overall, I ended up really enjoying this book.





Giveaway:

One lucky winner will win a copy (ebook or paperback) of this book (U.S. only)! Just fill out the Rafflecopter form below!:


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Thursday, October 23, 2014

TLC Book Tours Review: How to Build a Girl by Caitlin Moran

Title: How to Build a Girl
Author: Caitlin Moran
Format: ARC
Publisher: Harper
Publish Date: September 23, 2014
Source: TLC Book Tours






What's the Story?:

From Goodreads.com: "What do you do in your teenage years when you realize what your parents taught you wasn't enough? You must go out and find books and poetry and pop songs and bad heroes—and build yourself.

It's 1990. Johanna Morrigan, fourteen, has shamed herself so badly on local TV that she decides that there's no point in being Johanna anymore and reinvents herself as Dolly Wilde—fast-talking, hard-drinking gothic hero and full-time Lady Sex Adventurer. She will save her poverty-stricken Bohemian family by becoming a writer—like Jo in Little Women, or the Brontës—but without the dying-young bit.

By sixteen, she's smoking cigarettes, getting drunk, and working for a music paper. She's writing pornographic letters to rock stars, having all the kinds of sex with all the kinds of men, and eviscerating bands in reviews of 600 words or less.

But what happens when Johanna realizes she's built Dolly with a fatal flaw? Is a box full of records, a wall full of posters, and a head full of paperbacks enough to build a girl after all?"


My Two Cents:

In "How to Build a Girl," we meet Johanna, a teenaged girl who lives in a too small house with a too big family. She is also about as awkward (endearingly so, but awkward nontheless) as one can get. Johanna wants to get away from it all and start living her grown-up life (even if she doesn't exactly know what that looks like). Since she is still too young to leave the house, she gets in with a local music magazine and starts writing for them. Hilarity ensues!

After reading Caitlin Moran's autobiographical books "How to be a Woman" and "Moranthology," I knew that I needed to get my hands on this book so see what Moran's fiction was like. Well, the fiction feels very much like the non-fiction and I definitely enjoyed it. "How to Build a Girl" does feel very similar and a lot of the scenarios in the book are similar. But when it comes down to it, what worked in the non-fiction books, works here and makes for an entertaining read!

The book is told from Johanna's perspective and she has a very bright and funny voice. There were definitely several parts in the book where I was trying to control my laughing out loud while on the metro (a mark of a good story)! I fell for Johanna, who feels quite similar to Caitlin in a lot of ways. If you already know Moran's writing, you will probably enjoy this book. If you've wanted to try her books out, this is a fitting one to do that with! I would love to see Moran branch out more with her fiction in the future!


 

Review: The Queen Of Four Kingdoms by Princess Michael of Kent

Title: The Queen Of Four Kingdoms
Author: Princess Michael of Kent
Format: ARC
Publisher: Beaufort
Publish Date: September 2014
Source: I received a copy from the PR; however, this did not affect my review.





 What's the Story?:

From Goodreads.com: "At the age of nineteen, Yolande of Aragon is sent away from her family, her friends, and everything she knows, to marry the young Duke of Anjou, King Charles VI's first cousin. Their marriage has been arranged to form an alliance between the previously warring kingdoms of Aragon and Anjou, and is politically fraught in a time of great danger and unrest. Yet the union between Yolande and Louis becomes not only a great love story, but also sets in motion events which will change the course of history.

As Louis spends more and more time and money fighting in Italy for his claim to the Kingdom of Naples, Yolande is left alone with their six children to govern their lands. But through her charm, fierce intelligence and the clever use of her spies, she becomes the saviour of not just her kingdoms but also of France."


My Two Cents:

"The Queen of Four Kingdoms" is a historical fiction look at Yolande of Aragon, who, like many aristocratic women of her age is sent off to become the consort to Louis, the Duke of Anjou. Luckily for Yolande, her match actually becomes a great love. Unlike many other women of the time, Yolande actually rules her lands as the Duke keeps going to Italy in order to fight tooth and nail for the Kingdom of Naples. This book is all about how Yolande copes with balancing family (she and the Duke have a lot of children) and duty. The Kingdoms of Anjou and Aragon seem to be only mildly assuaged by Yolande and the Duke's match.

In this book, you have a fabulous main character to read about. Yolande definitely kept me reading. I really enjoyed this story. Yolande is a really interesting figure and I did not know much about her. I am not certain as to whether or not that I've read much about her in historical fiction before. I really liked reading about everything she was able to do while her husband was away. It was so interesting to me how much power she was able to have and how she was able to walk the line between caring for her children and ruling a kingdom. I also really liked the appearance of Jeanne d'Arc in this book. She is one of my favorite historical figures to read about. What a life! It was really interesting to see Yolande's take on what Jeanne did and was able to accomplish and also how her life was ended.

Overall, the writing of this book is really good. I found it enjoyable. The writing style is interesting. The book was written in third person present tense. I think I probably say this every time I read a book in that tense (it is just so different to me) but, it did take me awhile to get used to and drew my attention away at first. Slowly I warmed up to it and it really helped me to get into the story eventually. It was an interesting choice but in the end, I think that the author succeeded.

I would be remiss if I didn't draw attention to the author. The author is Princess Michael of Kent, the wife of Queen Elizabeth II's cousin. She also came from an aristocratic family. This gives her a very unique resume. Prior to this, she had written a couple books and the foreword in this book makes it sound like she will write more (Yay!).


  



Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Giveaway: Here and Again by Nicole R. Dickson

Today, I am excited to be able to give away a copy of "Here and Again" by Nicole R. Dickson. Check out my review here! Just fill out the Rafflecopter form below. This giveaway is open to U.S. residents only.





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Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Blog Tour Review and Giveaway: Loop by Karen Akins

Title: Loop
Author: Karen Akins
Format: Ebook
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
Publish Date: October 21, 2014
Source: I receive a copy from the publisher; however, this did not affect my review.



What's the Story?:

From Goodreads.com: "At a school where Quantum Paradox 101 is a required course and history field trips are literal, sixteen year-old time traveler Bree Bennis excels…at screwing up.

After Bree botches a solo midterm to the 21st century by accidentally taking a boy hostage (a teensy snafu), she stands to lose her scholarship. But when Bree sneaks back to talk the kid into keeping his yap shut, she doesn’t go back far enough. The boy, Finn, now three years older and hot as a solar flare, is convinced he’s in love with Bree, or rather, a future version of her that doesn’t think he’s a complete pain in the arse. To make matters worse, she inadvertently transports him back to the 23rd century with her.

Once home, Bree discovers that a recent rash of accidents at her school are anything but accidental. Someone is attacking time travelers. As Bree and her temporal tagalong uncover seemingly unconnected clues—a broken bracelet, a missing data file, the art heist of the millennium—that lead to the person responsible, she alone has the knowledge to piece the puzzle together. Knowledge only one other person has. Her future self.

But when those closest to her become the next victims, Bree realizes the attacker is willing to do anything to stop her. In the past, present, or future."

My Two Cents:

In "Loop," Bree is a time traveler (or at least she is learning how to be a good time traveler) from the 23rd century. She gets into a bad situation where she kind of, sort of, accidentally (of course!) brings a 21st century boy with her back to the 23rd century. This is a huge no-no and Bree knows that she is going to be in big trouble. That is nothing compared to the series of events that is set off once she gets back to her own time. Loop is the first in a planned YA sci-fi series that engaged me from the beginning!

Bree is a great character and was tons of fun to read about. She is independent and is never afraid to stand up for the things that she holds dear. Even more endearingly, she is an absolute mess and botching things seems to be her job at some points of the book. I loved that the story was told from her perspective as it really allowed you to get deeply into the book. I also really liked the story between her and Finn. It was so much fun to read about!

World building is a huge factor for me in any sci-fi book and this book definitely has it in spades. I loved how the author was able to create a world where time travel simply seems like a fact. I loved all of the detail about what Bree's 23rd century world is like and what she thinks about the 21st century. All of the detail really pulled me in.

I was very excited to see that Goodreads already has a sequel to this book listed. I was very sad to see that said sequel doesn't come out until 2015... sigh. Overall, this was a great story with great world building!


Giveaway:

You could win a copy of Loop (US only)! Just fill out the Rafflecopter form below!

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Monday, October 20, 2014

BookSparks Fall Reading Challenge Review: Rock Angel by Jeanne Bogino

Title: Rock Angel
Author: Jeanne Bogino
Format: Paperback
Publisher: Prashanti Press LLC.
Publish Date: September 16, 2014
Source: BookSparks Fall Reading Challenge






What's the Story?:

From Goodreads.com: "Shan is young, beautiful, talented, and addicted to heroin in Rock Angel, a novel that follows her meteoric rise to guitar goddess stardom in the 90’s. She is discovered in New York by a handsome, arrogant musical genius named Quinn, and sparks fly between them when he hires her as lead guitarist of his band. Although Quinn is accustomed to bedding a different groupie every night, he can’t ignore his deepening feelings for his new band mate. From gritty Greenwich Village clubs to L.A.’s Troubadour; gigging and touring the country to the cover of Rolling Stone, Rock Angel is infused with the passionate music and intense sexual chemistry of Shan and Quinn. Shan must work out her personal demons and learn to trust Quinn enough to love him, but still remain true to the music that has always been her salvation."

My Two Cents:

In "Rock Angel," Shan is a teenager who is running away from her difficult family life and goes to New York where she's discovered by Quinn, a full-fledged rockstar. At first Shan and Quinn don't exactly get along. She thinks that Quinn is a control freak and Quinn thinks that Shan is much too young to know what's good for her. All of this is complicated by Shan's addiction to heroin. This is a story of music, passion, and love set during their rollicking 90s.

In a lot of ways, this book feels very realistic. I really liked how the author was able to create characters who seemed like they could've been real. Shan is definitely a broken character. She, as I mentioned before, is ready to get away from a horrible family life and getting herself into a lot of trouble along the way. Quinn is the quintessential brooding musician who is just a little stuck on himself and stuck on his music. These two very different people come together to form a very interesting relationship, that I loved watching grow. The book covers a few years so we really get to see a lot of changes firsthand.

Being someone who will not musically talented myself but enjoys music all the same, I really enjoyed the musical aspect of this book. The author did a really good job of capturing the changing landscape of rock music during the 1990s. I loved reading about how the band in the book gets ready to tour and all of the places they play in as well as the general atmosphere that they make their music in.

The writing of the book was pretty good. There were a couple parts that were a bit stiff but overall, I thought this was a good read on a volatile relationship between two very talented musicians.






 

Friday, October 17, 2014

HF Virtual Book Tours Interview and Giveaway: Deanna Raybourn, Author of Night of a Thousand Stars

Today, I am really excited to welcome Deanna Raybourn to A Bookish Affair!


  1. How did you come up with the idea for "Night of a Thousand Stars?" 
    The book is loosely connected to my previous novel, CITY OF JASMINE. I set up a story arc in that book that left a few threads untied, so this was my opportunity to weave them in. Characters that had only been alluded do in the first book took center stage in this one, and there is even a cameo by one of JASMINE’s main characters to link them more tightly together. 

  2. What was your research process like for this book? What is the most interesting or strange thing you found out during your research? 

    The research was pretty straightforward since I had just set a book in Damascus. I had read mountains of information about the area during and after WWI, Lawrence of Arabia, Lady Hester Stanhope, Gertrude Bell, Jane Digby, etc. so I was able to use all of that in this book as well—always a luxury! I plowed through my notes again to refresh my memory and did some more intense digging about the Syrian countryside to get the details right. The most fun was probably the time I spent immersed in Circassian native dress. If I could, I’d wear it every day—it’s unspeakably gorgeous. I particularly loved the passage I found describing how a Circassian bridegroom uses the tip of his knife to cut his bride free from her corset on their wedding night!

  3. Who is your favorite character in this book and why? 

    I love Sebastian unreservedly, and writing Poppy was just complete joy. She’s bright and intrepid, two of my favorite qualities in a character, and I think that’s apparent from the very first page when she literally runs away from her chance at a brilliant society match. But my favorite character in this book is probably Masterman. I love her hidden depths! She was great fun to write, and I left a lot of her secrets unrevealed, keeping her a little mysterious. She’s brilliant and acerbic and unexpected. 

  4. You've written many books now. Have you found your process has changed at all? Has writing gotten easier or harder? 

    My process has essentially turned on its head. I used to write very long first drafts that included every detail and then whittle them down. I’ve since learned to write a much shorter first draft and embellish it as I revise. It saves an almost incalculable amount of time to insert brackets with a note about what I want to include and keep forging ahead. Then I know exactly which bits of information to go in search of, where I need to expand a conversation, or do a better job of setting a scene. 

  5. If you could choose any three fictional characters or historical figures to bring with you to a deserted island, who would you bring and why?  

          I would choose doomed queens—Anne Boleyn, Catherine Howard, and Marie Antoinette.  They didn’t have a chance to live out their lives, so they probably deserve a little fun. 


Giveaway:

You have a chance to win an ebook copy of "Night of a Thousand Stars" (open internationally).

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