Monday, January 27, 2014

Bloggiesta Finish Line


I took part in my first Bloggiesta this past weekend, and I'm happy to report that I successfully met my goals:

  • I updated my review index.  This update ended up taking me much longer than I thought it would as I didn't realize how out of date my index was.  Needless to say, I'll try to stay on top of it from now on.   I'm already thinking about how to enhance the look of my review index page, which I may do as part of the next Bloggiesta!
  • I prepped for my upcoming review posts by inserting all book, author, and book tour details into my posts.   Now all that's left for me to do, when the time comes, is to write the reviews themselves.  Prepping in advance will save me a lot of time over the next few weeks, and, from now on, I plan to put aside some time every few weeks to do post prep work.  
The only thing I didn't manage to do was hop around the blogosphere and leave comments for other Bloggiesta participants.   I do hope to visit some wrap-up posts, however.  

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Book Review: The Tenth Saint by D.J. Niko


Cambridge archaeologist Sarah Weston makes an unusual discovery in the ancient Ethiopian mountain kingdom of Aksum: a sealed tomb with inscriptions in an obscure dialect. Seeking to ascertain the translation and the identity of the entombed man, she and her colleague, American anthropologist Daniel Madigan, stumble upon a lethal conflict.

Tracking down clues in Addis Ababa and the monasteries of Lalibela, Sarah and Daniel uncover a codex in a subterranean library revealing a set of prophecies about Earth’s final hours written by a man hailed by Coptic mystics as Ethiopia’s tenth saint. Violently opposed by the corrupt director of antiquities at the Ethiopian Ministry of Culture and Tourism, they’re left for dead in the heart of the Simien Mountains. Surviving to journey to Paris, Sarah is given another piece of the ancient puzzle: a fourteenth-century letter describing catastrophic events leading to the planet’s demise.

Connecting the two discoveries, Sarah faces a deadly intercontinental conspiracy to keep the secret of the tenth saint buried. Risking her reputation and her life, Sarah embarks on a quest to stall the technological advances that will surely destroy the world.

Medallion Press | January 25th, 2012 | 464 pages

My Review

When Sarah Weston, a Cambridge archaeologist leading a dig in Ethiopia, stumbles upon a seemingly untouched tomb, she realizes that her find could be historically significant.  As Sarah works to uncover the identity of the tomb's occupant, she quickly learns that there are those who will do anything to keep the truth hidden.  Determined to carry on with her work in spite of threats, Sarah joins forces with anthropologist and TV personality Daniel Madigan.  Working together, Sarah and Daniel learn that the body belonged a man known as Ethiopia's tenth saint, a man whose prophecies describe in detail the earth's final days.  But Sarah and Daniel's discoveries continue to place them, and those they associate with, in direct danger.  As Sarah and Daniel come to learn more about the tenth saint's prophecies, they realize that much more is at stake then just their professional careers and, potentially, their lives.  For if the prophecies hold true, the end of days is near.      

The Tenth Saint, the first novel in D.J. Niko's Sarah Weston Chronicles, is a modern-day thriller that will keep readers eagerly turning the pages.  One of the things I liked best about this novel is that it doesn't fit neatly into any one genre.  While the bulk of the narrative focuses on Sarah Weston and her quest (the thriller aspect), certain chapters also flash back in time to the days of the tenth saint.  This gives the book a historical flavour.  I found the prophet's chapters, while initially slow to get going, every bit as intriguing as those set in the modern-day, especially as the truth of his life is slowly revealed.  Sarah Weston is a well-developed character.  I admit that I didn't warm to her right away, but by the novel's end she'd won me over.   Another strength of this novel is its setting.  Most thrillers I've read recently are set in the United States and/or Europe.  While parts of this novel are set in these common locations, much of the book takes place in Africa, which is not a typical setting for thrillers.  While certain aspects of the narrative are predictable and others not entirely plausible, the suspense is maintained throughout the story.   For this reason I found The Tenth Saint difficult to put down, and ended up racing through it in a matter of hours.   

Recommended to fans of thrillers, especially those with a historical touch.   I'm looking forward to reading The Riddle of Solomon, the next book in D.J. Niko's Sarah Weston Chronicles. 

Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars
Source: I received a copy of this novel as part of D.J. Niko's Virtual Book Tour in exchange for a fair and honest review

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The Tenth Saint is currently on tour!  Click here to check out the tour schedule, which includes reviews, a giveaway, and a guest post.

About the Author

D.J. Niko is the nom de plume of Daphne Nikolopoulos, an award-winning author and journalist. Her first novel, titled The Tenth Saint, was released in March 2012 to rave reviews by both readers and the trade. In March 2013, it was awarded the Gold Medal for popular fiction in the prestigious, juried Florida Book Awards. An archaeological thriller embroidered with historical motifs, The Tenth Saint takes readers on an adventure across the globe: Ethiopia, the Syro-Arabian Desert and Abyssinian Empire circa fourth century, London, Paris, Brussels, and Texas. The Tenth Saint is the first book in The Sarah Weston Chronicles series. The second, titled The Riddle of Solomon, releases July 1, 2013.  Daphne is now at work on a historical novel set in tenth century B.C.E. Israel. The epic story details the collapse of the United Monarchy and the glory and fall of the empire built by King Solomon. It will be released in early 2015.

As a former travel journalist, Daphne has traveled across the globe on assignment, or for personal discovery. She has been to some places most of us don’t realize are on the map, and she has brought them to life through her writing for various magazines, newspapers and websites on an international scale. Her travel background and rich experiences now bring authentic detail, color, and realism to her fiction.

She also is the editor in chief of Palm Beach Illustrated magazine, a 62-year-old luxury-lifestyle glossy. She also is the editorial director of Palm Beach Media Group, and in that capacity oversees 11 magazines and 3 websites.

She is the mother of twin toddlers and, in her spare time, volunteers for causes she believes in—literacy, education, child advocacy, and the advancement of traditional and tribal arts from around the world. Born in Athens, Greece, she now lives with her family in West Palm Beach, Florida.

For more information, please visit D.J. Niko’s website. You can also follow on Facebook and Goodreads.

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Friday, January 24, 2014

Book Review: The Harlot's Tale by Sam Thomas

The Harlot's TaleSynopsis:

It is August, 1645, one year since York fell into Puritan hands. As the city suffers through a brutal summer heat, Bridget Hodgson and Martha Hawkins are drawn into a murder investigation more frightening than their last. In order to appease God’s wrath—and end the heat-wave—the city’s overlords have launched a brutal campaign to whip the city’s sinners into godliness. But for someone in York, whipping is not enough. First a prostitute and her client are found stabbed to death, then a pair of adulterers are beaten and strangled. York’s sinners have been targeted for execution.

Bridget and Martha—assisted once again by Will, Bridget’s good-hearted nephew—race to find the killer even as he adds more bodies to his tally. The list of suspects is long: Hezekiah Ward, a fire and brimstone preacher new to York; Ward’s son, Praise-God, whose intensity mirrors his father’s; John Stubb, one of Ward’s fanatic followers, whose taste for blood may not have been sated by his time in Parliament’s armies. Or could the killer be closer to home? Will’s brother Joseph is no stranger to death, and he shares the Wards’ dreams of driving sin from the city.

To find the killer, Bridget, Martha, and Will must uncover the city’s most secret sins, and hope against hope that the killer does not turn his attention in their direction.

Minotaur Books | January 7th, 2014 | 320 pages

My Review

The Harlot's Tale, the second novel in Sam Thomas' Lady Bridget Hodgson series, is a fast-paced, intelligent historical mystery.  Set in the Northern English city of York approximately one year after the conclusion of the series' introductory book, The Midwife's Tale (click here to read my review), The Harlot's Tale finds midwife Bridget Hodgson and her assistance Martha Hawkins called upon to assist in a series of grisly murder investigations involving prostitutes and adulterers.  But not everyone is keen that the murders be solved, for the city is in the midst of a severe heatwave, one that many feel will be relieved only when the city turns from its sinful ways. 

In Bridget Hodgson, Sam Thomas has created a memorable, true to life historical heroine.  One of the things I like best about Thomas' characterization of Bridget is that her attitudes, beliefs and actions are consistent with her position in society and the time period in which she lived.  One of my biggest pet peeves in historical fiction is characters who hold a modern world view.  Neither Bridget nor any of the other characters in this novel have this problem and, as a result, they feel authentic.  Another strength of this book is the historical detail, through which Thomas is able to bring 17th century York and its inhabitants to life.  While the practice of midwifery and its attendant customs aren't as prominent in The Harlot's Tale as they were in the first book, they do play a part in the story, which should satisfy readers who found the midwifery to be one of the most interesting aspects of The Midwife's Tale.   For my part, I enjoyed learning more about the nature of the religious tensions that existed in cities and towns such as York, which by 1645 had fallen into the hands of the Puritans, many of whom had little tolerance for those whose views did not match their own.  As I'm not overly familiar with the English Civil War, this book provided me with insight into the opinions and beliefs held by those who lived through it. 

While the characters and historical detail are big reasons why I enjoyed this novel, I also found the mystery itself to be a compelling one.  On several occasions I thought I had figured the murders out and identified the perpetrator only to be proven wrong.  As a result, the ultimate resolution ended up surprising me.   I also enjoyed learning of some of the ways in which a potential perpetrator could be "proven" guilty. 

I highly recommend The Harlot's Tale to anyone who enjoys mystery novels, historical or otherwise.  I can't wait to see where Thomas takes Bridget Hodgson next!

Rating: 4.5 out of 5 Stars
Source: I received a copy of this novel from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for a fair and honest review. 

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The Harlot's Tale has been on tour for the month of January.  Click here to check out the tour schedule

About the Author

Sam ThomasSam Thomas is an assistant professor of history at the University of Alabama in Huntsville. He has received research grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Newberry Library, and the British Academy. He has published articles on topics ranging from early modern Britain to colonial Africa. Thomas lives in Alabama with his wife and two children.

For more information, please visit Sam Thomas’ website and blog. You can also follow him on Facebook and Twitter.

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Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Top Ten Tuesday: My Reading Wish List

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and Bookish.   This meme features a different top 10 list every week.   This week's list is:

Top Ten Things On My Reading Wish List 
(if you could make authors write about these things you would. Could be a specific type of character, an issue tackled, a time period, a certain plot, etc.)

(1) More Harry Potter books!  I'd love J.K. Rowling to write a series featuring Harry's parents, Sirius Black and Remus Lupin during their later years at Hogwarts, as well as when they were members of The Order of the Phoenix.  

(2) More Fantasy Fiction in the vein of George R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire series.  I've noticed an increasing number of urban fantasy works in the Fantasy section of my favourite bookstores lately and less epic fantasy.  We need more epic fantasy I say! 

(3) Young Adult novels that don't feature a love triangle.  While I'm not a young adult I do, on occasion, enjoy reading YA novels.  I'm tired of the inclusion of love triangles though, especially when the girl picks the guy I wasn't rooting for (I'm looking at you Katniss Everdeen).

(4) More Historical Fiction set in less popular time periods and featuring little known historical figures.  I'll read historical fiction set in just about any time and place so long as the story sounds good, but let's face it, some eras are overdone (I'm talking to you, Tudor-era).   I'd love to read more historical fiction set in Scandinavia, Africa or India, for example.  I would also love to see more historical fiction authors explore historical figures often overlooked by the genre. 

(5) More Historical Fiction set in Canada.  This one relates to my previous wish list item.  Canada is not an overly popular setting for historical fiction, even by Canadian writers.  But Canada has an interesting and varied history and I would love to read more about it through historical fiction.   

(6) The inclusion of end notes in works of Historical Fiction.   This one is inspired by a novel I recently finished, The Iron King by Maurice Druon.  While full of historical detail, the narrative of this novel is never weighed down by characters explaining to one another events or issues with which they would already be familiar.  Recognizing that while the characters would be familiar with them, the reader may not.  This is where the end notes come in, as they were used to convey necessary historical background to the reader.   Readers already familiar with the history of a particular novel can skip the end notes, while those who don't can use them if they want to learn more.    I think this is a great approach and one that should be adopted by more authors. 

(7) More Chick Lit featuring smart, independent women who don't obsess over designer labels and salivate over shoe sales, and who have solid careers in areas such as education, medicine, law or finance rather than in the fashion industry or media.  One of the reasons I stopped reading chick lit is because, while the stories could be good fun, I had a hard time relating to the main characters.  

I have only seven things on my reading wish list, but I'd be very happy if each of them were realized.

What things are on your reading wish list?

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Monday, January 20, 2014

Book Review: The Iron King by Maurice Druon


“Accursed! Accursed! You shall be accursed to the thirteenth generation!”

The Iron King – Philip the Fair – is as cold and silent, as handsome and unblinking as a statue. He governs his realm with an iron hand, but he cannot rule his own family: his sons are weak and their wives adulterous; while his red-blooded daughter Isabella is unhappily married to an English king who prefers the company of men.

A web of scandal, murder and intrigue is weaving itself around the Iron King; but his downfall will come from an unexpected quarter. Bent on the persecution of the rich and powerful Knights Templar, Philip sentences Grand Master Jacques Molay to be burned at the stake, thus drawing down upon himself a curse that will destroy his entire dynasty…

HarperCollins UK |  January 2013 (re-issue) | 340 pages (hardcover)

My Review

When I first read novelist George R.R. Martin's statement that Maurice Druon's Accursed Kings series is the "original Game of Thrones" I knew I had to read it.  I wasn't disappointed.

Set in early 14th century France, The Iron King concerns the final years of King Philip the Fair's reign, which was defined by his persecution of the Knights Templar and the scandalous behaviour of his daughters-in-law.  Philip's persecution of the Templars is particularly notable for his execution of Grand Master Jacques Molay who, with his dying words, curses the King and his descendants.  Very soon thereafter, things start to go badly for Philip, including the death of one of his trusted advisors and the coming to light of the adultery committed by his daughters-in-law.  It is not long before Philip starts to question whether or not Molay's curse is coming to fruition, and if his own downfall will be next.

Well-written and fast-paced, The Iron King is full of political intrigue and cunning.  The novel showcases the key political power players at Philip's court, as well as those who fall outside of it such as Philip's daughter Isabella, who is Queen of England, and the Lombard bankers who controlled money lending.  While the narrative unfolds from multiple viewpoints, Droun is still able to successfully convey the motivations and defining characteristics of each of his primary characters.  A lot of historical information is conveyed throughout the novel, but this information never serves to slow the narrative down given that Druon doesn't have his characters explain to one another historical details with which they would already be fully familiar.  Instead, Druon has included an extensive series of endnotes to provide the reader with historical background, an approach I wish more authors of historical fiction would adopt.

The Iron King is overall a fantastic read, and I can't wait to read the remaining books in the Accursed Kings series.  Highly recommended to fans of medieval historical fiction.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5 Stars
Source: Purchased

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Sunday, January 19, 2014

Mini Bloggiesta January 25th - 26th

After seeing a number of my fellow bloggers talking about and participating in Bloggiesta over the past few years, I've decided to take the plunge and start participating myself.  Yay!  

My goals are as follows:

  • Update my review index page as it hasn't been updated in a year or two;
  • Start to prepare my reviews posts for upcoming scheduled reviews.  My goal is to have posts ready with book jacket image, synopsis, author info (if applicable), giveaway information (if applicable), and formatted so that when the time comes for me to write a review all the admin associated with my review posts will already be taken care of.    

My goals are modest to start, but I'm looking forward to participating and learning about other blogger's goals.  Hopefully I'll pick up a few tips on how to be a better blogger in the process. 

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Giveaway Winner: Becoming Josephine by Heather Webb

I'm pleased to announce that the winner, selected using, of my recent giveaway for Becoming Josephine by Heather Webb is:


Congratulations Marie!  I hope you enjoy the book as much as I did.  The winner has been contacted by email. 

Thanks to everyone who entered and to Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours for the opportunity to host the giveaway.

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Thursday, January 16, 2014

A Few Thoughts on The Poisoned Island by Lloyd Shepherd


Tahiti 1769. English sailors arrive on the shores of the Polynesian paradise— a place of staggering beauty where magic and ancient myths still hold sway. But they soon devastate the island with disease, war, and death, planting deadly seeds that will be carried back to England forty years later.

London 1812. On a gray June morning, the Solander docks, her hold containing hundreds of exotic plants from Tahiti for the King’s Gardens at Kew. The apparently successful expedition soon takes a horrifying— and inexplicable—turn: The crew of the Solander starts dying one by one. Thames River Police Chief Charles Horton can find no signs of murder or suicide to explain the deaths, and the ship’s surviving crew seems intent on hampering his investigation. When one of the plants begins to show frightening changes, it is up to Charles Horton to determine how it might be stopped.

Atria Books | January 14, 2014 | ISBN: 9781476712871

My Thoughts
  • Lloyd Shepherd's The Poisoned Island takes place primarily in London in the early 19th century, although parts of the narrative are also set in Tahiti.   The story concerns the return from Tahiti of the Solander, a ship sent to the island to transport native plants back to London, and her crew.  Almost immediately upon the ship's return, however, crew members start to turn up dead.  While their deaths don't appear to be related to foul play, police officer Charles Horton investigates them nonetheless.   Horton soon discovers that there is much more to the deaths than meets the eye, including linkages to a mysterious Tahitian plant. 
  • The mystery in this novel unfolds slowly and from various character's perspectives.  While some readers might find these changes in perspective jarring, I think it worked very well for this particular novel as it heightens the sense of intrigue and leaves the reader guessing as to the possible explanation for the deaths right until the final pages. 
  • Aside from being an intriguing mystery, one of the greatest strengths of The Poisoned Island is how vividly the settings are described.  As a result, both 19th century London and Tahiti come to life for the reader.
  • Another strength of the novel is its skillfully drawn characters, whose narratives readers should find interesting.  Charles Horton, the novel's protagonist, is particularly engaging and I enjoyed how he applied newly developed detective/ investigative techniques to his work. 
  • Several of the characters in the book, including Charles Horton, were first introduced in The English Monster, a mystery dealing with England's infamous Ratcliffe Highway murders.  I wasn't aware prior to reading The Poisoned Island that it was a follow-up to an earlier book.  While The Poisoned Island can be read as a stand alone novel, it does include a number of references to events in The English Monster and it is apparent that Charles Horton was much affected by them.  The inclusion of these references didn't diminish my enjoyment of the mystery found in The Poisoned Island, but I did sometimes feel as if I was missing important background information.  
  • Overall an entertaining and well-written novel, The Poisoned Island is recommended to fans of historical mysteries.   I'm looking forward to reading more from Lloyd Shepherd, including  The English Monster

Rating: 3.5 out of 5 Stars
Source: I received a copy of this novel from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review.
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Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Waiting on Wednesdsay: Silence for the Dead by Simone St. James

It's once again time for Waiting on Wednesday, a weekly meme hosted by Jill over at Breaking the Spine that spotlights books we are eagerly anticipating the release of.

My pick this week is:

Silence for the Dead by Simone St. James
NAL Trade
Release Date: April 1, 2014

Synopsis (From

Portis House emerged from the fog as we approached, showing itself slowly as a long, low shadow...."

In 1919, Kitty Weekes, pretty, resourceful, and on the run, falsifies her background to obtain a nursing position at Portis House, a remote hospital for soldiers left shell-shocked by the horrors of the Great War. Hiding the shame of their mental instability in what was once a magnificent private estate, the patients suffer from nervous attacks and tormenting dreams. But something more is going on at Portis House—its plaster is crumbling, its plumbing makes eerie noises, and strange breaths of cold waft through the empty rooms. It's known that the former occupants left abruptly, but where did they go? And why do the patients all seem to share the same nightmare, one so horrific that they dare not speak of it?

Kitty finds a dangerous ally in Jack Yates, an inmate who may be a war hero, a madman or maybe both. But even as Kitty and Jack create a secret, intimate alliance to uncover the truth, disturbing revelations suggest the presence of powerful spectral forces. And when a medical catastrophe leaves them even more isolated, they must battle the menace on their own, caught in the heart of a mystery that could destroy them both.

What book are you waiting for this week?

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Monday, January 6, 2014

Book Review and Giveaway: Becoming Josephine by Heather Webb


Rose Tascher sails from her Martinique plantation to Paris to trade her Creole black magic culture for love and adventure. She arrives exultant to follow her dreams of attending Court with Alexandre, her elegant aristocrat and soldier husband. But Alexandre dashes her hopes and abandons her amid the tumult of the French Revolution.

Through her savoir faire, Rose secures her footing in high society, reveling in handsome men and glitzy balls—until the heads of her friends begin to roll.

After narrowly escaping death in the blood-drenched cells of Les Carmes prison, she reinvents herself as Josephine, a socialite of status and power. Yet her youth is fading, and Josephine must choose between a precarious independence and the love of an awkward suitor. Little does she know, he would become the most powerful man of his century-Napoleon Bonaparte.

BECOMING JOSEPHINE is a novel of one woman’s journey to find eternal love and stability, and ultimately to find herself.

Plume Books/Penguin | December 31, 2013 | 320 pages | ISBN-10: 0142180653

My Review

The name Josephine Bonaparte is undoubtedly familiar to readers with an interest in Revolutionary and Napoleonic-era France. While Josephine is a relatively popular figure, there are surprisingly few historical novels that feature her as a central character.  As such, Becoming Josephine, Heather Webb's debut novel chronicling Josephine's life, is a welcome addition to the historical fiction genre. 

Born Rose Tascher on the French island of Martinique, the woman who would become wife to French Emperor Napoleon lived the type of life well suited for a novel.  Josephine endured a loveless first marriage to French aristocrat Alexandre de Beauharnais, but through this marriage was able to befriend some of France's most prominent citizens.  Although she survived the horrors of the French Revolution and Robespierre's Terror, not everyone she knew was as fortunate.  Once she caught the eye of Napoleon, Josephine's life again takes a dramatic turn, one that ultimately led to her becoming Empress of the French.  Each of these episodes and aspects of Josephine's life is featured in Becoming Josephine, a novel that is sure to please readers hoping to learn more about this fascinating woman. 

Having previously read a few novels about Josephine I was already familiar with her life prior to reading Becoming Josephine. Despite this familiarly, I enjoyed the fresh perspective brought to her life by Heather Webb, who presents Josephine as charming, kind, compassionate and caring.  Josephine experienced a few rough periods in her life, but she never let her own disappointments or hardships stop her from trying to help others. This is most evident during the French Revolution. Webb's characterization of Josephine is one of the novel's greatest assets, as readers will undoubtedly come to care about Josephine as much as the author does. Becoming Josephine is further enhanced by Webb's attention to detail, which comes through most prominently in her often vivid and eloquent descriptions of people and settings. Given this novel is a work of biographical fiction, it necessarily includes the historical figures with whom Josephine interacted and the major events she lived through.  Of the secondary figures featured in the book, I enjoyed getting to know Napoleon best, and think Webb does a great job showing the development of his relationship with Josephine. 

While Becoming Josephine covers a significant period of time and a number of important events, it is nevertheless a quick read.  There are a few instances in the novel where I wish certain aspects of Josephine's life had been explored in more depth, most particularly the early years of her marriage to Alexandre and her life while French Empress, which I think were passed over a little too quickly.  Overall, however, Webb does a good job of conveying just the right amount of information to ensure readers garner an appreciation for Josephine and her story while not bogging them down with too much detail. 

Recommended to all fans of historical fiction, especially those interested in the French Revolution and Napoleonic eras of French history. 

Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars
Source: I received a copy of this novel from the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review

Becoming Josephine is currently on tour!  Click here to check out the tour schedule.  You'll find links to other reviews, giveaway opportunities and author interviews. 

About the Author

Heather Webb grew up a military brat and naturally became obsessed with travel, culture, and languages. She put her degrees to good use teaching high school French for nearly a decade before turning to full time novel writing and freelance editing.

When not writing, Heather flexes her foodie skills or looks for excuses to head to the other side of the world.

For more information please visit Heather’s website. You can also find her on Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter.


I'm pleased to host a giveaway for one copy of Becoming Josephine.  Giveaway details are as follows:

- To enter, simply leave a comment below with your email address.
- The giveaway is open to residents of Canada and the United States only;
- Only one entry per person;
- The giveaway is open until midnight (EST) on January 15th.
- The winner will be selected using

Good Luck!

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Saturday, January 4, 2014

2014 Reading and Blogging Resolutions and Goals

Happy 2014!  I hope you all enjoyed the holidays and are now settling nicely into this new year.

Every year around this time I reflect upon what I'd like to accomplish over the next twelve months from both a reading and blogging perspective.  I had a busy reading and blogging year in 2013.  I hit the 100 books read milestone for the first time ever, and managed to write a record 142 blog posts (I only posted 102 in 2012).  My resolutions and goals for 2014 have been shaped in large part by my experiences in 2013. 

Focus on Quality Not Quantity.  I admit, I'm really proud of the fact that I managed to read 100 books in a single year during 2013, but when I thought about the goal to set for myself this year I decided that the number of books I read in a given year shouldn't really matter.  I deliberately choose not to read some of the longer novels I have sitting on my shelves last year because reading them required a significant time investment, one that could impact on the overall number of books I read.  I put off some great books because of this choice.  I won't be doing that in 2014.  Bring on The Luminaries, A Place of Greater Safety and Fall of Giants!  My goal for 2014, therefore, is simply to read good books no matter the number. 

Focus on my TBR pile.  I agreed to review a lot of books last year.  As a result, I often looked at my enormous TBR pile and wondered when I would ever get back to my own books.  While I'm definitely appreciative of review opportunities, I have decided to significantly limit the number of books I agree to review in 2014, including cutting way back on the number of books I request for review via Netgalley.  This year my focus will be on reducing the size of my own TBR pile. 

No Challenges.  Since starting this blog in late 2010, I've taken part in annual reading challenges.   But I've deemed 2014 as the year of no challenges.  I'm going to let my reading moods determine where to take me in my reading selections this year, rather than be guided by challenge requirements. 

Blog More.  Ideally, I would like to blog more in 2014, whether in the form of review posts, general bookish discussion posts, meme participation, or commenting on other blogs.  I'm not, however, going to put any pressure on myself when it comes to posting.  If I go a week or two (or more) without any new posts I'm okay with that.  Blogging is an activity I undertake because I love to discuss books and book-related topics with fellow readers. 

What about you?  Do you have any reading or blogging resolutions or goals for 2014?  I'd love to hear about them if you do. 

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Wednesday, January 1, 2014

First Book of the Year 2014


Sheila over at Book Journey is currently hosting the "First Book of the Year 2014" event (Click on the event title to learn more).   My first book of 2014 is:

Becoming Josephine by Heather Webb


About the Book (Synopsis from

A sweeping historical debut about the Creole socialite who transformed herself into an empress

Readers are fascinated with the wives of famous men. In Becoming Josephine, debut novelist Heather Webb follows Rose Tascher as she sails from her Martinique plantation to Paris, eager to enjoy an elegant life at the royal court. Once there, however, Rose’s aristocratic soldier-husband dashes her dreams by abandoning her amid the tumult of the French Revolution. After narrowly escaping death, Rose reinvents herself as Josephine, a beautiful socialite wooed by an awkward suitor—Napoleon Bonaparte.

Plume | December 31, 2013 | 320 pages

What is your first book of 2014?

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