The Enchanting Collection of Stories Found...Here is Anything But "Grim"

GrimTitle:  Grim
Author(s):  Various
Format:  ERC
Length:  480 pages
Publisher:  Harlequin TEEN
Rating:  5 Stars

Inspired by classic fairy tales, but with a dark and sinister twist, Grim contains short stories from some of the best voices in young adult literature today:

Ellen Hopkins
Amanda Hocking
Julie Kagawa
Claudia Gray
Rachel Hawkins
Kimberly Derting
Myra McEntire
Malinda Lo
Sarah Rees-Brennan
Jackson Pearce
Christine Johnson
Jeri Smith Ready
Shaun David Hutchinson
Saundra Mitchell
Sonia Gensler
Tessa Gratton
Jon Skrovan

My Thoughts

This book is nothing sale short of fairytale   AWESOMENESS!
All of today's greatest YA authors have come together in one volume to breathe new life into some of the world's best known and most loved stories.

The retellings found in this anthology are a far cry from the "happier ever after" tales of childhood.
These stories live on the darker side of imagining.  The places where the things that go bump in the night live.
Some of the stories are direct variations on older versions,  and therefore will be easily recognizable for today's readers.
Some are just inspired by the tales they represent, and therefore are a new creation.
Going through the book and trying to guess which author wrote what, is half the fun of sifting through this fantastic collection.

"The Descent" More Than Rises To The Challange of Great Adult Fiction

The Descent (The Taker, #3) Title:  The Descent
(The Taker #1)
Author:  Alma Katsu
Format:  ERC
Length:  352 pages
Publisher:  Gallery Books
Rating:  4 Stars

The final installment in the “mesmerizing” (Booklist, starred review) and addictive trilogy—find out who truly holds the key to Lanny’s heart and whether she’ll ever be reunited with her beloved in this gripping supernatural tale of magic, lust, and longing.

Lanore McIlvrae has been on the run from Adair for hundreds of years, dismayed by his mysterious powers and afraid of his temper. She betrayed Adair’s trust and imprisoned him behind a stone wall to save Jonathan, the love of her life. When Adair was freed 200 years later, she was sure that he would find her and make her existence a living hell. But things turned out far different than she’d imagined.

Four years later, Lanore has tracked Adair to his mystical island home, where he has been living in self-imposed exile, to ask for a favor. She wants Adair to send her to the hereafter so she may beg the Queen of the Underworld to release Jonathan, whom she has been keeping as her consort. Will Lanore honor her promise to Adair to return? Or is her intention to reunite with Jonathan at any cost?

Of all the forces of the universe, the most mysterious, confounding, and humbling is the power of love. The epic story of love and loss, magic and destiny that began with The Taker and sparked a chase around the world in The Reckoning comes to a surprising conclusion with The Descent.   -Goodreads

 My Thoughts
Alma Katsu's The Descent, is a glorious amalgamation of historical fiction, fantasy, and mythology.
This third and final installment of The Taker trilogy, finds Lanore grieving the loss of Luke, while trying locate Adair in order to save Jonathan.
Confused yet?
You're not alone.
Adding to the confusion is the fact that dearest Jonathan just happens to be dead.
Yes...I said dead.
Lanore is being haunted by Dante-esque dreams of his torture and demons in the Underworld, and Adair is on an island with reincarnations of two conniving witches from his past.
If all of that is not reason enough to start you turning pages; the end of this book surely will be.

Alma pulls no punches story-wise with The Descent. Be forewarned however, there is a great deal of senseless pining on Lanore's part concerning her long lost Jonathan. It can get rather trite.
The last 30% of the book is where the reader's treasure lies. This is where all of Adair's secrets come to bare in a most fantastic and unbelievable way.

As usual, a good portion of Adair's part of the story is told in historical flashback. In fact, his is the only portion of the story told this way.
This is important because this is the portion of the the book concerning his experiences with alchemy.
Why bring that into play ask?
Well, it is said alchemy which brings about the amazing ending that was alluded to earlier in this review.
This is a book that is full of surprises and complex situations. The rather slow start is more than made up for by an awesome ending.

"Cured" Has The Answer For What Ails YA Dystopia

Cured (Stung, #2) Title:  Cured
(Stung #2)
Author:  Bethany Wiggins
Format:  ERC
Length:  336 pages
Publisher:  Walker Children's Publishing
Rating:  5 Stars

Now that Fiona Tarsis and her twin brother, Jonah, are no longer beasts, they set out to find their mother, with the help of Bowen and a former neighbor, Jacqui. Heading for a safe settlement rumored to be in Wyoming, they plan to spread the cure along the way--until they are attacked by raiders. Luckily, they find a new ally in Kevin, who saves them and leads them to safety in his underground shelter. But the more they get to know Kevin, the more they suspect he has ties to the raiders. He also seems to know too many details about Jacqui and her family—details that could endanger them all. For the raiders will do anything they can to destroy the cure that would bring an end to their way of life. Bethany Wiggins’s reimagining of our world after an environmental catastrophe won’t fail to stun readers.  -Goodreads

My Thoughts

Jacqui Bloom, was a story waiting to be told from Stung, and boy, what an amazing story she turned out to be.
The strong willful and haunted Jack/Jacqui shines quite brightly as the central character of Cured.  If anyone who has read its predecessor has any qualms about a story being able to hold its own in light of the fabulousness that is Stung, and Fiona, Bowen, and Jonah; please rest assured that Jacqui fills the bill in spades.
Now that Fiona and Bowen have manged to find not only the cure, but both love and stability; they are once again called to risk their lives to help friend Jacqui Bloom, in her quest to find both her long lost brother and mother, and locate a hidden settlement of uninfected in Wyoming.  Just to sweeten the pot for Fiona, there are rumors that her mother may be found there as well.

This book does what readers love.  It uses emotionality to draw the reader into both the story and its players, and couples that with the plot twists and nonstop action needed to keep them enthralled.
Bethany Wiggins is second to none in her ability to build suspense within her books, without making it obvious that  she is doing so.
She is able to do this with a greater ease in Jacqui's case, because unlike Fiona, Jacqui has a past from which the reader can gather the threads of familiarity needed to weave a bond.

Add to that the fact that she is unsure of herself as woman, of her quest, and the man to whom she gives her heart...and WOW!

Speaking of Kevin.  What a mystery to be solved in that one.  He is an enigma right until the very END.
There are even reappearances of a kinder, gentler, and more human Jonah and the still evil ex-mayor.

This is an awesome end to a wonderful duology; tied with the most gorgeous "happily ever after bow".


Join #ReadOn Jan. 11 at 4pm est. to Q & A with @alexiapurdy @amaliehoward @gailmencini @jennifer_sage

Welcome to our 21st episode of ReadOn!  Tonight we will have these wonderful 4 authors.  The first two authors tonight will be for Teen/Ya!  The last two will be Adult!  So we have something for everyone tonight folks.  And of course make sure to stick around at the end to get the super secret code so you can enter the giveaway! 
Giveaway is open to EVERYONE!

Alexia Purdy

Alexia Purdy Amazon | Twitter | Website | Facebook | Goodreads


Alexia currently lives in Las Vegas, Nevada- Sin City! She loves to spend every free moment writing, or playing with her four rambunctious kids. Writing has always been her dream and she has been writing ever since she can remember. She love's creating paranormal fantasy and poetry and loves to read and devour books daily. Alexia also enjoys watching movies, dancing, singing loudly in the car and Italian food.

Ever Shade (A Dark Faerie Tale #1)

Ever Shade (A Dark Faerie Tale, #1)Ever Shade A dark twist on faeries. For Shade, a chance meeting with a powerful Teleen faery warrior who wields electrical currents and blue fires along his skin, has her joining him on a treacherous mission for the good Seelie Faerie Court across the land of Faerie. Magic and malice abound and nothing is what it really seems to be. The evil Unseelie Queen and her treacherous allies are around every corner as Shade makes her way across the breathtaking landscapes of the world of Faerie, which exists alongside the mundane human world. Shade discovers her own uncharted magic and meets some of the most powerful warriors in Faerie while battling evil dryads, conniving Teleen guards and challenges on her life with every step in a world where nothing can be taken for granted. Paperback includes the prequel: Evangeline Books in this series: Prequel: Evangeline Book 1: Ever Shade Book 2: Ever Fire Book 3: Ever Winter Book 3.5: The Cursed Book 4: Ever Wrath

Amalie    Howard 

Amalie Howard


AMALIE HOWARD grew up on a small Caribbean island where she spent most of her childhood with her nose buried in a book or being a tomboy running around barefoot, shimmying up mango trees and dreaming of adventure.

An aspiring writer from a young age, Amalie's poem "The Candle," written at age thirteen, was published in a University of Warwick journal. She was also a recipient of a Royal Commonwealth Society essay award (a global youth writing competition). A Colby College graduate, she completed simultaneous Honors Theses in both French and International Studies, and graduated Summa Cum Laude/Phi Beta Kappa. At Colby, she was cited for research and criticism in Raffael Scheck's article, "German Conservatism and Female Political Activism in the Early Weimar Republic," and his subsequent book, MOTHERS OF THE NATION. She also received a distinction in English Literature from the University of Cambridge (A-levels) as well as a certificate in French Literature from the Ecole Normale Supérieure in Paris, France.

Traveling the globe, she has worked as a research assistant, marketing representative, teen speaker and global sales executive. In between writing novels and indulging her love of reading, Amalie is also a review editor for TheLoopNY, a local Westchester-New York periodical, and blogs at She is represented by the Liza Royce Agency and is a member of SCBWI.

Her debut novel, BLOODSPELL, was selected as a Seventeen Magazine Summer Read. Look for WATERFELL from Harlequin TEEN Fall 2013, THE ALMOST GIRL from Strange Chemistry in January 2014 and ALPHA GODDESS from Skyhorse/Sky Pony Press coming April 2014.
For tour and upcoming events as well as more information on Amalie, please visit

The Almost Girl

The Almost Girl
Seventeen-year-old Riven is as tough as they come. Coming from a world ravaged by a devastating android war, she has to be. There’s no room for softness, no room for emotion, no room for mistakes. A Legion General, she is the right hand of the young Prince of Neospes, a parallel universe to Earth. In Neospes, she has everything: rank, responsibility and respect. But when Prince Cale sends her away to find his long-lost brother, Caden, who has been spirited back to modern day Earth, Riven finds herself in uncharted territory.

Thrown out of her comfort zone but with the mindset of a soldier, Riven has to learn how to be a girl in a realm that is the opposite of what she knows. Riven isn’t prepared for the beauty of a world that is unlike her own in so many ways. Nor is she prepared to feel something more than indifference for the very target she seeks. Caden is nothing like Cale, but he makes something in her come alive, igniting a spark deep down that goes against every cell in her body. For the first time in her life, Riven isn’t sure about her purpose, about her calling. Torn between duty and desire, she must decide whether Caden is simply a target or whether he is something more.

Faced with hideous reanimated Vector soldiers from her own world with agendas of their own, as well as an unexpected reunion with a sister who despises her, it is a race against time to bring Caden back to Neospes. But things aren’t always as they seem, and Riven will have to search for truth. Family betrayals and royal coups are only the tip of the iceberg. Will Riven be able to find the strength to defy her very nature? Or will she become the monstrous soldier she was designed to be?

Gail Mencini


Gail Mencini makes her literary debut with To Tuscany with Love, an adult coming-of-age novel. She was born and raised in rural Nebraska, where everyone knew their neighbors and summers were spent outdoors--working, playing, or watching fireflies. Her love for reading books and imagining characters and their stories germinated during those days of creating her own world. Gail's parents, who visited every continent except Antarctica, sparked her love of travel and adventure, which burns brighter than ever.

Gail was raised to be independent. College and grad school brought her training in tax law, and for many years she used that knowledge in her CPA practice to help clients across the country. In 1990 Gail's life took a radical shift when she became a wife and also "instant mother" to three active sons, with a fourth son born a few years later. 
One hot July summer in Key West, Gail and her husband toured Ernest Hemingway's house. Smacked in the face with the master writer's ghost and palpable presence, she confessed her secret desire to write books. Unlike her, Gail's husband felt only the heat and humidity and not a trace of Ernest. Her confession led to her writing a novel that won contests and landed a New York literary agent, but otherwise never saw the light of day. After years of writing, improving her craft, and working harder, the kernel of an idea and several trips to Italy inspired Gail to write To Tuscany with Love, the first book in her Tuscany series. The years following her childhood of imagining far-away places and the people there have only intensified her love for creating stories. Gail is thankful every day and knows she is abundantly blessed to be a wife, mother, and writer.

To Tuscany With Love

To Tuscany With Love
Can one college semester abroad change the course of your life?

Bella Rossini, a vivacious college junior, lands in jail overnight with acquaintances whom she mistakes for friends. Shipped off to Tuscany by her mother, Bella is suddenly thrust into living with seven strangers during one life-altering summer. 

Meet Hope, the sturdy and practical girl, steadfast in her loyalty to her boyfriend; Meghan and Karen, identical twins with an eye for fashion and beauty to match; Stillman, haunted by his hard past, and Phillip, an athlete, both fueled by competition; Lee, by family mandate in pre-med; and Rune, the Hollywood-bound wild child. All add sizzling chemistry and rebellious humor to the mix. 
In one whirlwind summer, while uncovering the charms of Italy, they discover both friendship and 

After their summer together, life – and loss – happens. 

Returning to Tuscany 30 years later, their dreams, anger, secrets and disappointments create an 
emotional kaleidoscope. Their reunion sends them on a startling collision course that none of them 
could have predicted.

Set against the allure of Tuscany, with an irresistible fusion of heartbreak and humor, this debut novel, “To Tuscany with Love,” explores the fear of letting the past determine the future and the power of friendship.

Jennifer       Sage

Jennifer Sage


Jennifer Sage is the internationally acclaimed, best selling author of the novels "Immortal Dreams, Immortal Bound and Keltor". Keltor, her first book in "The Guardian Archives" series, is being translated into Italian to be lovingly adored in her favorite country in the world, by the wonderful publisher out of Rome, Dunwich Edizioni.

She is also the sought after poet of some very controversial erotica, which she usually shares for free over her many social media platforms. Requested by popular demand, there will be a very private, very secret work of her poetry released on 2-14-14, worldwide.
Besides being a lover of writing and reading, she is the lover of deliciously crafted red wines, phenomenal food that makes her squirm and a trademark "EEEEEK!" when she's excited. Want to know more? She can be found at 

Keltor (Guardian Archives, #1)

Keltor (Guardian Archives, #1)Keltor is a Guardian of the light even though he exists nearly in Shadow, haunted by his past. His world, the world of the Guardians, is a dark reality that coexists in modern day with ours. Behind the warm veils of our lives a war rages against the Shadow Demons and the Guardians protect as much of humanity as they can, still believing in us as a race.

There is one person alive, a Keeper, who has within her the power to tilt the scales one way or another in this war. With the ability to damn the Light or the Dark and no knowledge of how to she is supposed to do either, Liz is nearly a helpless pawn. A pawn that is about to find herself completely powerless against a force greater than she has ever known.

A Guardian who lost his heart centuries ago. A female who has never really known her own. Laws that prevent them from ever finding solace in the other. Far different laws that prevent them from turning away.

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Maybe Being "Univited" Is A Good Thing

Uninvited (Uninvited, #1) Title:  Uninvited
Author:  Sophie Jordan
Format:  ERC
Length:  384 pages
Publisher:  Harper Teen
Rating:  3 Stars

The Scarlet Letter meets Minority Report in bestselling author Sophie Jordan's chilling new novel about a teenage girl who is ostracized when her genetic test proves she's destined to become a murderer.

When Davy Hamilton's tests come back positive for Homicidal Tendency Syndrome (HTS)-aka the kill gene-she loses everything. Her boyfriend ditches her, her parents are scared of her, and she can forget about her bright future at Juilliard. Davy doesn't feel any different, but genes don't lie. One day she will kill someone.

Only Sean, a fellow HTS carrier, can relate to her new life. Davy wants to trust him; maybe he's not as dangerous as he seems. Or maybe Davy is just as deadly.

The first in a two-book series, Uninvited tackles intriguing questions about free will, identity, and human nature. Steeped in New York Times bestselling author Sophie Jordan's trademark mix of gripping action and breathless romance, this suspenseful tale is perfect for fans of James Patterson, Michelle Hodkin, and Lisa McMann.

My Thoughts
This book is an exercise in predictability with a descent love interest thrown in.
Good girl and sheltered princess Davy Hamilton, is devastated to learn that the perfect life that she and her parents have crafted for her can never be.
She is the carrier of the dreaded Homicidal Tendency Syndrome (HTS)-aka the kill gene.  This makes her public enemy number 1!
Great start right?
Just wait...the predictability will ensue in 3...2...1...


Great school...GONE!

What does she get?
How does caged, branded, and treated like an animal grab you?
Oh wait, there is the bit the hot new love interest who also just happens to be caged branded and treated just as bad.

Predictable enough for you?


Well... how about this?

We group all the animals together in a camp and train them to...
(cue dramatic music.)


The rating for this book was only saved by Sophie Jordan's wonderful writing and the great love story going on between Davy and Sean.
Here's hoping that all of the wrongs can be made right in book two, but seeing as this is slated as a duology, and not a trilogy...that is going to be quite a tall order.

"Defy" Is A Read Well Worth Giving In To

Defy (Defy, #1)Title:  Defy
(Defy #1)
Author:  Sara B. Larson
Format:  ERC
Publisher:  Scholastic Press
Rating:  4.5  

A lush and gorgeously written debut, packed with action, intrigue, and a thrilling love triangle.

Alexa Hollen is a fighter. Forced to disguise herself as a boy and serve in the king's army, Alex uses her quick wit and fierce sword-fighting skills to earn a spot on the elite prince's guard. But when a powerful sorcerer sneaks into the palace in the dead of night, even Alex, who is virtually unbeatable, can't prevent him from abducting her, her fellow guard and friend Rylan, and Prince Damian, taking them through the treacherous wilds of the jungle and deep into enemy territory.

The longer Alex is held captive with both Rylan and the prince, the more she realizes that she is not the only one who has been keeping dangerous secrets. And suddenly, after her own secret is revealed, Alex finds herself confronted with two men vying for her heart: the safe and steady Rylan, who has always  cared for her, and the dark, intriguing Damian. With hidden foes lurking around every corner, is Alex strong enough to save herself and the kingdom she's sworn to protect.

My Thoughts
Defy is a wonderful book, but not for the reasons that one might think.  Though the main protagonist,  (and no...that is not a type-o, there are more than one) in this read is a girl fighter leading a double life as a boy, Alex/Alexa; the real meat of the story lies in unraveling the delicious mysteries that swirl around Prince Damian.

This book's author does a wonderful job in twisting reader's loyalties during  the course of this read.
Especially, where the prince is concerned.  She also builds both suspense and interest in her characters by revealing their secrets slowly.  Although, in the case of Alex/Alexa, the secret of her being a girl was out to those that mattered long before the big reveal in the book.

This is also where my problem with Alexa started.  She is fine until she learns that the prince and long time friend and fellow guard Rylan, know her secret.  Once everything is on the table so to speak, there is a marked change in Alexa; from self assured fierce warrior to  swooning dithering school girl.

Luckily for readers, there is plenty of action, magic, and intrigue to more than male up for the lapses into the land of the love addled teen.

Back to the good stuff.

The ending had to be the best part.  Yes, this is one of those!
The best thing about it is that it is open ended; there is plenty of room for all of the questions raised at this book's end to be answered in later installments.
This is an awesome adventure and a great start to a series! 

HFVBT Presents: An Untitled Lady Review and Giveaway!

Title:  An Untitled Lady
Author:  Nicky Penttila
Publication Date: December 20, 2013
Musa Publishing
ISBN: 9781619375963

Shocking family news forces Madeline Wetherby to abandon her plans to marry an earl and settle for upstart Manchester merchant Nash Quinn. When she discovers that her birth father is one of the weavers her husband is putting out of work—and a radical leader—Maddie must decide which family she truly desires, the man of her heart or the people of her blood.

An earl’s second son, Nash chose a life of Trade over Society. When protest marches spread across Lancashire, the pressure on him grows. If he can’t make both workers and manufacturers see reason he stands to lose everything: his business, his town, and his marriage.

As Manchester simmers under the summer sun, the choices grow more stark for Maddie and Nash: Family or justice. Love or money. Life or death.

My Thoughts
An Untitled Lady is so much different from any Regency Romance that I have read before.
This is not a romance  built on fainting ladies and simpering dandys.   This is truly a working man's romance.  This is a book fraught with issues of classism, sexism, worker's rights, women's rights, lies, deceit, and hosts of other issues that most books of its elk try to pretend do not exist.

I later came to understand that the historical events included in this novel were based on a very important event for Manchester, the Peterloo Massacre.
Where many novels would have made the significance of this factual bit of history an issue; this was not the case for this read.  Here is a case where the factual and the fictional blend in seamless grace.

There is also a lot to be said for both the hero and heroine of this story.  Yes, you did see that there is indeed an actual heroine here.
That does not mean however that she is not without her flaws, and true to the genre, she is allowed to cut a rather tragic figure at times.  She does prove herself to be resourceful and up to the many challenges that are thrown her way...when the chips are down.

The only detraction that comes to mind, has nothing to do with the story at all.
I feel that the cover does this book a great disservice.

This is an awesome look at Regency done differently!

Link to Tour Schedule:
Twitter Hashtag:  #AnUntitledLadyTour

About the Author
Nicky Penttila writes stories with adventure and love, and often with ideas and history as well. She enjoys coming up with stories that are set in faraway cities and countries, because then she *must* travel there, you know, for research. She lives in Maryland with her reading-mad husband and amazing rescue cat.

She’s chattiest on Twitter, @NickyPenttila, and can also be found at and on Facebook.
Buy The Book
Barnes & Noble
Musa Publishing (editor’s pick)

The Giveaway!

Tell me what you look for in a Historical Romance
for your chance to WIN
An Untitled Lady 

Don't forget to leave a valid e-dress in the comments!

"A Dawn So Wicked" Is A Lovely Begining

A Dawn Most Wicked (Something Strange and Deadly, #0.5)Title:  A Dawn Most Wicked
Author:  Susan Dennard
Format:  Ebook
Length:  112 pages
Publisher:  Harper Teen Impulse
Rating:  5 Stars

Daniel Sheridan is an engineer’s apprentice on a haunted Mississippi steamer known as the Sadie Queen. His best friend–the apprentice pilot, Cassidy Cochran–also happens to be the girl he’s pining for … and the captain’s daughter. But when it looks like the Sadie Queen might get taken off the river, Daniel and Cassidy have to do whatever they can to stop the ghosts that plague the ship.

Fortunately, there happens to be a Creole gentleman on board by the name of Joseph Boyer–and he just might be able to help them … -Goodreads

My Thoughts
This novella provides just the glimpse into swoon-worthy Daniel Sheridan's past that his fans have clamored for since meeting him in Something Strange and Deadly.  Here we meet the young and in love Daniel. It was sad to see that his love with the young and adventurous Cassidy Cochran is just as ill fated as the one that he has for Elenore.

The ghostly parts of this book and the coming together of the parts of what would later become the ghost busting team of "The Spirit Hunters" is an awesome story.
Knowing the history of Daniel's loss only serves to endear him to readers, and make us want to see his "happily ever after" come true.

Let The Good Times Roll With "Madam: A Novel of New Orleans"

When vice had a legal home and jazz was being born—the captivating story of an infamous true-life madam

New Orleans, 1900. Mary Deubler makes a meager living as an �alley whore.” That all changes when bible-thumping Alderman Sidney Story forces the creation of a red-light district that’s mockingly dubbed �Storyville.” Mary believes there’s no place for a lowly girl like her in the high-class bordellos of Storyville’s Basin Street, where Champagne flows and beautiful girls turn tricks in luxurious bedrooms.  But with gumption, twists of fate, even a touch of Voodoo, Mary rises above her hopeless lot to become the notorious Madame Josie Arlington.

Filled with fascinating historical details and cameos by Jelly Roll Morton, Louis Armstrong, and E. J. Bellocq, Madam is a fantastic romp through The Big Easy and the irresistible story of a woman who rose to power long before the era of equal rights.  -Goodreads

 My Thoughts

Madam: A Novel of New Orleans, is a wonderfully narrated tour of New Orleans' more sordid past; as seen through the eyes of some of its most note worthy and notorious citizens.

This is a story of a New Orleans living in the shadow of Jim Crow, and nod the cusp of change.
The waning of the 1800's and the dawn of the 1900's brought many changes to New Orleans.  While the Jazz culture was in its infancy, the long and storied history of the bawdy girl or "crib prostitute" was at an end.  What rose in her place was a "respectable whore" from a house in the "legal red light district of Storyville."
Young Mary Deubler is doing all that she can to survive her drunkard of a pimp, Lobrano, her johns, and life as a low brow prostitute amid the filth and crime of Venus Alley.  Viewed by most as nothing but a worthless piece; Mary knows that she is destined for greater things.  What she doesn't know is how a combination of tragedy, intelligence, ingenuity, luck, and law will come together to make her one of the most famous and infamous madams of her time.

Mary is someone whose success one is glad of given all that she had to go through in order to achieve it.
This tale is so well crafted that it is hard to know what parts of it are fiction and what parts are fact. The colorful cast of heroes and villains that populate this tale really make this story all that much more real to the reader.  This is a tale of a person, a legend, a city, and a way of life.

HFVBT Presents: Isabella: Braveheart of France

Publication Date: September 3, 2013
Cool Gus Publishing
Paperback; 218p
ISBN-10: 1621250911

She was taught to obey. Now she has learned to rebel.

Isabella is just twelve years old when she marries Edward II of England. For the young princess it is love at first sight - but Edward has a terrible secret that threatens to tear their marriage - and England apart.

Who is Piers Gaveston - and why is his presence in the king’s court about to plunge England into civil war?

The young queen believes in the love songs of the troubadours and her own exalted destiny - but she finds reality very different. As she grows to a woman in the deadly maelstrom of Edward’s court, she must decide between her husband, her children, even her life - and one breath-taking gamble that will change the course of history.

Does she submit to a lifetime of solitude and a spiritual death - or seize her destiny and take the throne of England for herself?

This is the story of Isabella, the only woman ever to invade England - and win.
Praise for Isabella: Braveheart of France

“What an intriguing story! … I'm enchanted indeed! Loved it!” - Montreal Times

“Author Colin Falconer has brought Isabelle's story to life … wonderful descriptive and succinct prose graces each page of this biographical novel.” - Great Historicals

“Isabella: Braveheart of France is a gripping read … this is phenomenal historical fiction that is highly recommended.” - Crystal Book Reviews

My Thoughts
 This novel is a wonderful look into the personal and courtly  life of Queen Isabella of France.
Married off at the age of 12 to King Edward II; Isabella  finds herself nothing more than a political pawn in a loveless marriage.
As she matures however, she proves herself to be a master of politics and diplomacy.
This story is an intriguing and eye-opening look at the goings on of King Edward's reign.
There is never a dull moment.  Just when you think that you have things figured out, there is another plot hatching, someone is sentenced to death or torture, or there is a shocking love interest. (As was the case for King Edward II)
This book is the perfect blend of historical accuracy and magical story crafting in a surprisingly slim 275 pages.

Twitter Hashtag:  #IsabellaTour

 About the Author
Born in London, Colin first trialed as a professional football player in England, and was eventually brought to Australia. He went to Sydney and worked in TV and radio and freelanced for many of Australia’s leading newspapers and magazines. He has published over twenty novels and his work has so far been translated into 23 languages.

He travels regularly to research his novels and his quest for authenticity has led him to run with the bulls in Pamplona, pursue tornadoes across Oklahoma and black witches across Mexico, go cage shark diving in South Africa and get tear gassed in a riot in La Paz.

His most recent novels are Silk Road, set in the 13th century, and Stigmata, set against the backdrop of the Albigensian Crusade in Southern France in 1209. He currently lives in Barcelona.

For more information please visit Colin Falconer's blog. You can also find him on Facebook or follow on Twitter.

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Book Blitz...And A Giveaway! Jessica Scott's BACK TO YOU!

Back to You (Coming Home, #3)From USA Today bestselling author Jessica Scott comes BACK TO YOU (On-sale 1/7), a powerfully emotional and darkly authentic military romance in her Coming Home series.

He's in for the fight of his life . . . 

Army captain Trent Davila loved his wife, Laura, and their two beautiful children. But when he almost lost his life in combat, something inside him died. He couldn't explain the emptiness he felt or bridge the growing distance between him and his family-so he deployed again. And again. And again...until his marriage reached its breaking point. Now, with everything on the line, Trent has one last chance to prove to his wife that he can be the man she needs ...if she'll have him

. . . to win back his only love.

Laura is blindsided when Trent returns home. Time and again, he chose his men over his family, and she's just beginning to put the pieces of her shattered heart back together. But when Trent faces a court martial on false charges, only Laura can save him. What begins as an act of kindness to protect his career inflames a desire she thought long buried-and a love that won't be denied. But can she trust that this time he's back to stay?

A Little Chat With Jessica Scott
1. You first introduced Trent and Laura a few years ago and readers have been eagerly awaiting their story for a few years. Did you always know when you first created them in BECAUSE OF YOU that this was how their story would play out?

I knew they would have a story to tell but telling their story in this particular way, no I didn’t intend it. It took finding my amazing editor along with multiple attempts at trial and error to get them just right. I’m a nervous wreck about their story, but I’m also really excited because I’m very happy with how their story turned out. Plus, hamsters. Who can argue with that, right?

2. BACK TO YOU is the incredibly emotional story of a marriage at the breaking point. What or who inspired you to write this story?

I remember standing in the ops one day and one of the guys was on the phone with his wife. He was telling her how much he was sorry, how much he didn’t want to work late. Then one of the other guys remarked that he always says that but he doesn’t ever mean it. So I had this idea of a man who was so driven to get back to war that he let his entire family and personal life suffer, but I also wanted a wife who people could relate to as well. Laura is Trent’s perfect complement.

3. In your own personal life, you’ve been the soldier that has deployed to a war zone and the spouse that stayed home and has taken care of the family on the home front. Which was more difficult for you in your experience? And why?

That’s a much bigger topic than we have time for but I’ll say this: each one has its own unique challenges. Being deployed, not being able to get home when your kids are crying that they want mommy, that’s brutal. It rips your soul out. But then coming home and your reality doesn’t live up to the fantasy? In some ways I think it’s worse, and that doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. As far as being the wife at home? I remember vividly lying awake at night, obsessively checking to make sure my ringer was turned on. I never cared when he called I just wanted to hear his voice. So which one is worse? I can’t really say. But I’m grateful that we’ve made it through each one a little bit stronger, you know?

4. Which is your favorite story to write—a reunion romances like Trent and Laura’s where each scene is alive with their own history or a fresh romance where they meet for the very first time and everything is new? Why?

I love a reunion story. I love the idea of being able to forgive and love the person you’re with right then and not the memory of someone. I’m a huge sucker for reunion stories, honestly. I love the reconnection, the noting of how things have changed, of learning to love that person all over again, especially after a betrayal or things didn’t work in the past.

5. Trent is such a compelling character and you do a beautiful job of showing his survivor’s guilt and the resulting anxiety and fear that provokes in him. He’s both so alpha and strong and so very broken. What inspired you to create such a complicated hero? A real life person? A
culmination of your own experiences? What you’ve seen yourself in the army? And were you at all concerned about the way readers would respond to him?

Trent is going to be hard for people to read, I suspect. He comes close to crossing some boundaries, and I wanted to do that deliberately: I wanted people to understand that coming home from war isn’t cured in a day or a week. It’s a process. Someone like Trent who has bled in combat isn’t going to be okay after a night of magical sex. I know that’s the fantasy, but I wanted something more: I wanted the fantasy that the couple will be strong enough to make it. So for me, Trent is deeply, deeply personal because I’ve seen friends struggle with some very tough choices. And the truth is, there is no magical cure but there can still be a happily ever after if you have someone strong enough to stand with you.

6. Laura is such an amazing character because she’s done the best for her family at every turn and supported her husband. But when all communication breaks down with her husband and he just keeps deploying, she serves her husband with divorce papers while he’s serving. It seems like such a taboo to serve papers while your spouse is deployed—is that true? And why did you choose to have Laura, the ultimate good wife, respond this way?

Laura sending Trent divorce papers while deployed I think is the ultimate prohibition. It’s just wrong on so many levels, and yet I wanted to give readers a sense of what could drive someone to their breaking point. Laura is such a strong woman and yet she broke. The strongest of us all have our breaking points. I wanted to show people how hard the war has been on everyone—not just the soldiers deploying but on the kids, on the spouses—but I also wanted to give people hope, too.

7. Agent Chaos and Fluffy, the family hamsters, almost steal the show with their disappearing acts and they add the perfect amount of cuteness and comic relief. What inspired you to add them into the story?

Ah Fluffy and Agent Chaos. So for readers who don’t know, we have hamsters. It all started when we volunteered to buy the pre-k class pet. I didn’t realize that this would include home visits for the holidays. Fluffy was the first hamster and she promptly escaped within the first 24 hours. After that, we’ve become a multiple hamster household and well, when they escape, it’s madness because we have dogs and cats who, by some miracle, haven’t actually ever managed to capture one of the little buggers.
This story badly needed something to lighten it up. I thought adding in some escaping rodents would be the perfect thing to break up a really tough interaction between Trent and his kids. They provided a bridge for him to cross, a way to reach them while he was still getting used to them.

8. Big wedding or small? Hamsters or dogs? Sweats or lingerie?

Small wedding. Both hamsters and dogs and cats. Sweats all the way.

9. Emma and Ethan, Trent and Laura’s kids, are adorable and watching Trent learn how to be a dad again is an amazing thing. How do you think Trent got so detached from his family?

Coming home to be a parent again is probably the hardest thing soldiers do. The kids have changed, they have their own wants and needs and, well, they’re not your soldiers. They don’t listen like your soldiers have to. The noise and the chaos and the constant needs are really tough to get used to again, so I think Trent just ran away because it was too much to deal with.

10. Since this is such an emotionally charged story, was it difficult for you to write? Or did it come easily?

It was very, very difficult to write. I wanted to push boundaries and create at least a glimpse of what it’s like to come home. I wanted to give readers a taste of the emotions that people go through, the fear, the uncertainty but also the love and the hope and the relief that their loved one is home safe.

11. Since you’ve been in Trent’s shoes, what is the hardest thing about readjusting to civilian life after a deployment?

The crowds and the entitlement. To this day, I won’t go into crowded stores or wait in crowds. It’s suffocating. And it’s funny because when I first came home, I was so annoyed at people complaining about lines and traffic and school starting. I was just so grateful to be back. Now, I’m much more sympathetic to everyday gripes and groans. I think it’s just part of how we get through our days.

Jessica ScottAbout the author:
USA Today bestselling author Jessica Scott is a career army officer; mother of two daughters, three cats and three dogs; wife to a career NCO and wrangler of all things stuffed and fluffy. She is a terrible cook and even worse housekeeper, but she's a pretty good shot with her assigned weapon and someone liked some of the stuff she wrote. Somehow, her children are pretty well-adjusted and her husband still loves her, despite burned water and a messy house.

She's written for the New York Times At War Blog, PBS Point of View: Regarding War Blog, and Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America. She deployed to Iraq in 2009 as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom/New Dawn and has served as a company commander at Fort Hood, Texas.

She's pursuing a PhD in Sociology in her spare time and most recently, she's been featured as one of Esquire Magazine's Americans of the Year for 2012.

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