March 28, 2010

Mailbox Monday: March 29, 2010


Mailbox Monday is a weekly meme hosted by Marcia at The Printed Page where we share what reads we have received in our mailboxes the previous week.


Here are the goodies that arrived for me last week:

Lucky Stars by Sarah Baker (author contact)

" From their first iconic pairing in 7th Heaven (1927) and in eleven films that followed, Janet Gaynor and Charles Farrell created an unparalleled cinematic romance. Their partnership was so utterly complete that in the minds and hearts of their adoring public, they were as one. Even though both enjoyed successful solo careers-Janet Gaynor won the first Best Actress Oscar and played Vicki Lester in the original A Star Is Born (1937) and Charles Farrell enjoyed a successful television career, playing Vern Albright on My Little Margie-their work as a team stood out. Even decades after their onscreen partnership ended, any mention of Gaynor in the press merited a mention of Farrell, and vice-versa. Behind the camera, Gaynor and Farrell carried on a secret romance that lasted from their first meeting in 1926 until Gaynor's first marriage in 1929. Supporting and encouraging each other's lives beyond Hollywood, they were able to maintain a mellow friendship that lasted their entire lives. Drawing upon previously unpublished interviews with Charles Farrell and Janet Gaynor, formal interviews with family and friends who knew them best, and meticulous archival research, author Sarah Baker details the fascinating behind the scenes story of the greatest romantic team of all time. The book includes a detailed filmography and is lavishly illustrated with over 100 photographs, many from Charles Farrell's estate. Includes a foreword by director Allison Anders (Grace of My Heart, Things Behind the Sun). "

Drood by Dan Simmons   (contest win)


" On June 9, 1865, while traveling by train to London with his secret mistress, 53-year-old Charles Dickens--at the height of his powers and popularity, the most famous and successful novelist in the world and perhaps in the history of the world--hurtled into a disaster that changed his life forever.


Did Dickens begin living a dark double life after the accident? Were his nightly forays into the worst slums ofLondon and his deepening obsession with corpses, crypts, murder, opium dens, the use of lime pits to dissolve bodies, and a hidden subterranean London mere research . . . or something more terrifying?

Just as he did in The Terror, Dan Simmons draws impeccably from history to create a gloriously engaging and terrifying narrative. Based on the historical details of Charles Dickens's life and narrated by Wilkie Collins (Dickens's friend, frequent collaborator, and Salieri-style secret rival), Drood explores the still-unsolved mysteries of the famous author's last years and may provide the key to Dickens's final, unfinished work: The Mystery of Edwin Drood.

Chilling, haunting, and utterly original, Drood is Dan Simmons at his powerful best."

So what goodies arrived in your mailbox last week?



March 23, 2010

The Making of a Book Cover

With appreciation to my friend Rene Lafayette for the heads up, this is a fascinating look at how those gorgeous book covers are created and brought to fruition:






March 22, 2010

Guest Post : Heather Jennings from The Circle of Friends and Her Creator, L. Diane Wolfe

Today I am pleased to welcome Heather Jennings, from the newly released The Circle of Friends Book V: Heather by author L. Diane Wolfe to Psychotic State. Welcome, Heather (and Diane)!


Love Stinks!
by Heather Kay Jennings


Yes, you read that right - love stinks. I thought I had it all figured out, too.


I developed a crush on my neighbor when we were kids. At first, he just annoyed me. Matt was just so damned happy all the time. No one should be that happy! He was a troublemaker, too. I’d never seen someone with such a penchant for mischief. But for reasons that have since escaped me, I fell in love with him. Fell pretty hard, too.


I wasn’t about to let him know, though. Figured I’d just play it cool. Most boys don’t want a serious relationship anyway. They just want to play the field and indulge in some physical fun. Since Matt was the ultimate playboy, I decided two could play at that game!


So why does love stink? Well, things were going great until Matt fell in love with another girl. And my roommate, of all people! She wasn’t even his type. Here I’d patiently waited for the right moment, and she stole the love of my life without even trying. It was so unfair.


I tried to break them apart. Even told Matt how I felt, but to no avail. Damn it, I never lose! But I lost Matt, and it made me feel miserable. I didn’t think I’d ever get over him.


So you know what? I’m done! Love’s too much effort and not worth the heartache. Besides, I can take care of myself. I don’t need anyone else. I’ve got plans for my future and career!


Love stinks. The last thing I need right now is someone in my life…




THE CIRCLE OF FRIENDS
BOOK V … HEATHER
BY L. DIANE WOLFE


When confidence turns to frustration…


A new beginning awaits Heather Jennings. The position at Clemson means she will finally realize her dream of coaching basketball. Heather is ready to focus on her duties, using sheer force if necessary to prove her independence.


Sadly, her triumph is hampered as her father and greatest advocate lies dying of cancer. Battling her grief, she must also deal with a sister who appears incapable of responsibility or achievement. And once basketball season begins, a talented but cocky player who resembles her in every manner challenges all that remains of Heather’s patience.


Heather’s life changes when she encounters a man capable of handling her bold and feisty attitude. Straightforward and smug, he entices her to date him, and despite his gruff nature shows a great capacity for compassion. However, the last thing Heather needs is a serious relationship with a man equally fixated on work and opposed to marriage…


Release date: March 16, 2010, Dancing Lemur Press, L.L.C.
$19.95 USA, 6x9 Trade paperback, 282 pages, Fiction/YA
ISBN 978-0-9816210-5-0 / 0-9816210-5-8


“Heather deals with real life and real situations.” 5 Stars
- Teens Read Too


“Curl up onto your favorite reading spot and journey along with Heather as she seeks the balance of family and work relationships. Be prepared to be pulled into Heather’s world and you will find yourself cheering her on and wanting to scold her at the same time. L. Diane Wolfe has created amazing characters with believable attributes and flaws; making Book V in the Circle of Friends series a true gem.”
- Donna M. McDine, Write What Inspires You Book Reviews


“Even after reading the novel, I am haunted by these characters… These characters are real to me, living breathing people that I now feel like I’ve known for years. This is the power of Wolfe’s writing.”
- The Book Pedler


Described as “encouragement personified”, Wolfe’s five-book Southern-based series portrays love and friendship overcoming all obstacles. Known as “Spunk On A Stick” to her fans, Wolfe is also a professional speaker. Originally from Oregon, she now resides in North Carolina. “With a positive attitude, any goal can be achieved!”
http://www.thecircleoffriends.net/
http://www.spunkonastick.net/


Book Trailer:



Author Information:
L. Diane Wolfe
Professional Speaker & Author
http://www.spunkonastick.net/ http://www.thecircleoffriends.net/  


Known as “Spunk On A Stick,” Wolfe is a member of the National Speakers Association. “Overcoming Obstacles With SPUNK! The Keys to Leadership & Goal-Setting”, ties all of her goal-setting and leadership seminar’s information together into one complete, enthusiastic package. Her YA series, The Circle of Friends, features morally grounded, positive stories that appeal to both teens and concerned parents. Ten years associating with a motivation training system and experience as a foster parent gave her the in-depth knowledge of relationships, personality traits and success principles. Wolfe travels extensively for media interviews and speaking engagements, maintains a dozen websites & blogs, manages an online writer’s group, and contributes to several other sites.


Links to purchase:
Amazon - http://www.amazon.com/Circle-Friends-Book-V-Heather/dp/0981621058/ref=sr_1_12?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1265066454&sr=1-12


Barnes & Noble: http://search.barnesandnoble.com/The-Circle-of-Friends/L-Diane-Wolfe/e/9780981621050/?itm=12&usri=l++diane+wolfe


Dancing Lemur Press L.L.C. : http://www.dancinglemurpress.com/id18.html





Thank you, Diane and Heather, for stopping by my blog today and taking the time to speak with us.  Best of luck with your new book! 

Readers, be sure to check in with Diane tomorrow at Jamieson Wolf's site, HERE

March 21, 2010

The Winners of "The Stolen Crown"!


The lucky winners of a copy of The Stolen Crown by Susan Higginbotham are

cantabile xx
and
marc74

Congratulations, cantabile xx and marc74! If you will forward me your mailing addresses, I will see that your new book gets out to you.


Thanks to everyone who visited my blog and entered the giveaway. Please stick around for future reviews and giveaways.

Thanks again to Danielle Jackson and Sourcebooks for making this giveaway possible.




March 19, 2010

Review of "The Stolen Crown" by Susan Higginbotham


Synopsis:  When six-year-old Kate Woodville’s beautiful sister Elizabeth makes a shocking—and secret—marriage to King Edward IV in 1464, Kate and her large family are whisked to the king’s court. Soon a bedazzled Kate becomes one of the greatest ladies in the land when she marries young Harry Stafford, Duke of Buckingham. But Kate’s fairy-tale existence as a duchess is shattered when the ongoing conflict between the houses of Lancaster and York engulfs the Woodville family.



As Edward IV fights to keep his crown, Harry’s relatives become hopelessly divided between Lancaster and York. Forced constantly to struggle with his own allegiances, Harry faces his defining moment when his dear friend Richard, Duke of Gloucester, determines to seize the throne for himself as Richard III. With lives in jeopardy and nothing less than a dynasty at stake, Harry’s loyalties—and his conscience—will be put to the ultimate test.


As a relatively recent historical fiction reader, I had yet to read anything by Susan Higginbotham but had read rave reviews and energetic exclamations from other bloggers.  Having finished my first Higginbotham novel, I completely understand it.  In short, I LOVED The Stolen Crown


The Tudor period has been revitalized with the rash of historical fiction releases and the success of Showtime's The TudorsThe Stolen Crown takes place during the York/Lancaster reign, immediately prior to Henry Tudor's reign (father of the infamous Henry VIII).  I didn't know much about this period, nor about Richard III.  What I did learn was fascinating, between his relatively short reign and how he managed to acquire the crown (hence, the title of this splendid book). 


Ms. Higginbotham took very much supporting characters to this slice of British history, using Henry ("Harry") Stafford, the 2nd Duke of Buckingham and his wife, Katherine ("Kate") Woodville, as narrators of this complex story, rather than one of the kings themselves.  And it works, many times over. 


I was immediately drawn into the story, thanks in equal parts to Ms. Higginbotham's descriptive and warm writing and the sympathetic and engaging Kate and Harry.  In my mind, historical fiction novels can be a tricky business.  So much research is necessary to go into them and sometimes the story itself can end up as dry as the proverbial Thanksgiving turkey.  Not a bad thing, necessarily, but if you want a good, enriching story to go with your history, you might want more than just history.  Ms. Higginbotham has no worries here.  The story is rich with both history and characterization.  The 15th century comes alive in the pages of this book and even if you know the story and the outcome, it's an incredible read and one I encourage you to make.   Personally, I did not know all of the history surrounding these events but reading Ms. Higginbotham's tale sent me to do some online researching about the real people. 

Fans of historical fiction, have no worries.  You should be more than pleased with The Stolen Crown.  For those readers on the fence about the genre, this book may sway you into fandom territory.  The Stolen Crown is not a bodice-ripper; while there is sex, it is mentioned more in passing than in exquisite (or excruciating) detail.  There may be a few objectionable words here and there but if you take issue with that, the richness of the story will probably render the words a moot point. 

Is there anything about The Stolen Crown I didn't care for?  Honestly, no.  I enjoyed all the characters, even the ones you love to hate.  I loved the richness of the characters, the way they were fully developed and I enjoyed the vivid descriptions of 15th century England.  My time spent with Harry Stafford, Kate Woodville and a King of England here and there was absolutely worth every minute.  Susan Higginbotham is firmly ensconced on my list of "must read" authors. 

The Stolen Crown is avaiable for purchase now at major booksellers, including Amazon and Barnes & Noble

For further information about Susan Higginbotham please visit her website HERE

If you would like a chance to win your own copy of The Stolen Crown, please click HERE.  The contest ends at 11:59 p.m. EST on March 19 (that's TODAY!). 

Review copy of this book provided by the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review.  In no way did the provision of the book affect the outcome of my review.




March 17, 2010

Noteworthy New Release: "The Circle of Friends, Book V: Heather"

The Circle of Friends, Book V:  Heather by L. Diane Wolfe
(Book Five in The Circle of Friends series)
Release Date:  March 16, 2010

Synopsis:  A new beginning awaits Heather Jennings. The position at Clemson means she will finally realize her dream of coaching basketball. Heather is ready to focus on her duties, using sheer force if necessary to prove her independence.


Sadly, her triumph is hampered as her father and greatest advocate lies dying of cancer. Battling her grief, she must also deal with a sister who appears incapable of responsibility or achievement. And once basketball season begins, a talented but cocky player who resembles her in every manner challenges all that remains of Heather’s patience.

Heather’s life changes when she encounters a man capable of handling her bold and feisty attitude. Straightforward and smug, he entices her to date him, and despite his gruff nature shows a great capacity for compassion. However, the last thing Heather needs is a serious relationship with a man equally fixated on work and opposed to marriage…








My review of The Circle of Friends, Book V:  Heather will be coming next week - - along with a guest post by author L. Diane Wolfe, writing as Heather herself that I guarantee you won't want to miss.  Book V has been given the Top Choice Award by FlamingNet Reviews (congratulations, Diane!)  and can be purchased through Amazon, Barnes & Noble or Dancing Lemur Press.  For more information, visit The Circle of Friends site

Happy St. Patrick's Day! 



March 11, 2010

I've Been Random-ized at Reading with Tequila!


The lovely Jennifer at Reading with Tequila was kind enough to feature me at her blog today so please stop by, not only to read my responses to five random questions . . . or enter to win a gift card from my beloved Mother Ship (also known as Barnes & Noble) . . . but also to check out Jennifer's fantastic reviews! 

Click here to go right to the post featuring me - -and if you enter to win the gift card, GOOD LUCK!!


March 10, 2010

Guest Post: Author Susan Higginbotham

Today I am pleased to welcome Susan Higginbotham, author of the newly released The Stolen Crown to Psychotic State. Welcome, Susan!



Online Socialization by Susan Higginbotham

As an author of historical fiction, I blog. I do Facebook. I post on Goodreads. I co-administer a bulletin board, Historical Fiction Online. I tweet.


Oh, yes, and I actually work on my novel in progress as well.


Social media has transformed the way writers interact with readers, and though authors love to complain about the time-sucking aspect of this, it’s been far more of a blessing than a curse. Blog tours allow authors with limited publicity budgets and/or work or family commitments to virtually travel around the world. Author blogs and Facebook or Twitter pages enable writers to keep in touch with existing readers and to draw in new ones. Even better, the Internet is an introvert’s delight: those of us who end up sitting in a corner at the neighborhood cookout (if we get invited) can shine on the web.


Though we’re often preoccupied with the past, historical novelists have found modern-day social networking to be invaluable. We can debate historical questions, get and give help with historical research, and convey our fascination about the people and periods we find so interesting. We can also connect with people who share our interests—a particularly valuable thing for those of us whose relatives and friends don’t understand the sheer joy we have in tracking down our hero’s exact whereabouts in 1455 or in finding that the obscure tome for which we’ve been hunting for months has just been digitized on Google Books.


Of course, there’s a downside to all of this online socialization as well. It’s too easy for a writer who’s struggling with a tricky scene or a recalcitrant character to take a break by checking her favorite site, only to spend another hour (or two, or three) online before finally getting back to writing. Once an author establishes an online presence, she’s expected to maintain it, which can also cut into writing time. And, as many a writer has discovered to his dismay when doing an “ego search,” social networking has become a forum not only to praise books, but to pan them.


An author who spends time online is well advised to develop a thick skin and a sense of humor; writers who lack both, and who respond to a negative review, have provided endless entertainment for readers—not through their books, alas, but through their outraged online antics. Still, these negative aspects of social networking pale beside the positives. I’ve met some wonderful people online, and through discussions on the web I’ve encountered books and authors I never would have heard about otherwise.


I’ve been writing this post for about an hour now, and my hands are getting twitchy. It’s almost time to check out Facebook. In the meantime, though, here’s where you can find me online:

Website: http://www.susanhigginbotham.com  


Blog: http://susandhigginbotham.blogspot.com/  


Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/susan.higginbotham  


Twitter: http://twitter.com/S_Higginbotham  


Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/boswellbaxter  


Historical Fiction Online (a board I co-administer): http://www.historicalfictiononline.com/forums/index.php  





THE STOLEN CROWN BY SUSAN HIGGINBOTHAM—IN STORES MARCH 2010


On May Day, 1464, six-year-old Katherine Woodville, daughter of a duchess who has married a knight of modest means, awakes to find her gorgeous older sister, Elizabeth, in the midst of a secret marriage to King Edward IV. It changes everything—for Kate and for England.


Then King Edward dies unexpectedly. Richard III, Duke of Gloucester, is named protector of Edward and Elizabeth's two young princes, but Richard's own ambitions for the crown interfere with his duties...


Lancastrians against Yorkists: greed, power, murder, and war. As the story unfolds through the unique perspective of Kate Woodville, it soon becomes apparent that not everyone is wholly evil—or wholly good.


Susan Higginbotham is the author of two historical fiction novels. The Traitor’s Wife, her first novel, is the winner of ForeWord Magazine’s 2005 Silver Award for historical fiction and is a Gold Medalist, Historical/Military Fiction, 2008 Independent Publisher Book Awards. She writes her own historical fiction blog and is a contributor to the blog Yesterday Revisited. Higginbotham has worked as an editor and an attorney, and lives in North Carolina with her family. For more information, please visit http://www.susanhigginbotham.com/.



Thank you, Susan, for stopping by my blog today and taking the time to share your thoughts with us.  Best of luck with your new book!  (Which I finished yesterday, by the way, and LOVED!  Review to come soon, so please stick around).

How about you?  Do you blog?  Do you Tweet, Facebook or post on Goodreads? 



And now for the GIVEAWAY!!!  Thanks to the lovely Danielle Jackson at Sourcebooks, I have TWO copies of The Stolen Crown up for grabs.  To enter, simply leave me a comment and let me know what historical era you like to read about - - the medieval age, the Tudor years, the Victorian era or something closer to home, such as World War II or even the 1950s?  Just let me know and you're entered to win your own copy of The Stolen Crown.  That's it!  U.S. and Canada only (my apologies to our overseas friends).   Contest to end on Friday, March 19, 2010 and the lucky winners drawn on Saturday, March 20, 2010.

Good luck!  

March 7, 2010

Mailbox Monday: March 8, 2010

Mailbox Monday is a weekly meme hosted by Marcia at The Printed Page where we share what reads we have received in our mailboxes the previous week.


Here are the goodies that arrived for me last week:



Silent Scream by Karen Rose (publicist contact)

"When a teenage girl dies in a suspicious fire, Detective Olivia Sutherland is assigned to track down the arsonist. Then she discovers something more sinister: a vicious blackmailer who preys on young people and murders without hesitation. Making her work even harder is sexy firefighter David Hunter. He's not only sharing the case but sparking memories of their long-ago night of passion, when feelings were left unspoken and hearts were broken.


David has his own ghosts, and a million regrets. But while he and Olivia try to face the wall of pain between them, a diabolical puppet master is pulling strings to make a group of twentysomethings do his bidding. Soon Olivia and David are scouring the city for a calculating criminal who seems tantalizingly close--and is moving in for the kill."


Objection! by Nancy Grace (purchased by me)

"The host of Closing Arguments on Court TV and Nancy Grace on CNN's Headline News takes on a host of controversial topics at the heart of the criminal justice system, including the imperiled jury system, the "blame-the-victim" defense, the death penalty, and the celebrity factor."





Make it Fast, Cook it Slow: The Big Book of Everyday Slow Cooking by Stephanie O'Dea (purchased by me)

"Make It Fast, Cook It Slow is the first cookbook from Stephanie O'Dea, the extremely popular slow cooking blogger: affordable, delicious, nutritious, and gluten-free recipes to delight the entire family.


In December 2007, Stephanie O'Dea made a New Year's resolution: she'd use her slow cooker every single day for an entire year, and write about it on her very popular blog. The result: more than three million visitors, and more than 300 fabulous, easy-to-make, family-pleasing recipes, including: Breakfast Risotto; Vietnamese Roast Chicken; Tomatoes and Goat Cheese with Balsamic Cranberry Syrup; Falafel; Philly Cheesesteaks; Crème Brulee

--and much more. Make It Fast, Cook It Slow is the perfect cookbook for easy, quick prep, inexpensive ingredients, and meals that taste like you spent hours at the stove."


So what goodies arrived in your mailbox last week?









March 2, 2010

The Winner of "The Last Surgeon"!


The lucky winner of a signed copy The Last Surgeon by Michael Palmer is . . .

etirv

Congratulations, etirv!  If you will forward me your mailing addresses, I will see that your new book gets out to you.


Thanks to everyone who visited my blog and entered the giveaway. Please stick around for future reviews and giveaways.

Thanks again to author Michael Palmer for making this giveaway possible.



March 1, 2010

Mailbox Monday: March 1, 2010

Mailbox Monday is a weekly meme hosted by Marcia at The Printed Page where we share what reads we have received in our mailboxes the previous week.


Here are the goodies that arrived for me last week:



 The Boleyn Wife by Brandy Purdy (won through Celtic Lady's blog)

"Shy, plain Lady Jane Parker feels out of place in Henry VIII's courtly world of glamour and intrigue--until she meets the handsome George Boleyn. Overjoyed when their fathers arrange a match, her dreams of a loving union are waylaid when she meets George's sister, Anne. For George is completely devoted to his sister, and cold and indifferent to his bride. As Anne acquires a wide circle of admirers, including King Henry, Jane's resentment grows. But if becoming Henry's queen makes Anne the most powerful woman in England, it also makes her highly vulnerable. And as Henry, desperate for a male heir, begins to tire of his mercurial wife, the stage is set for the ultimate betrayal...

Encompassing the reigns of five of Henry's queens, THE BOLEYN WIFE is an unforgettable story of ambition, lust, and jealousy, of the power of love to change the course of history, and of the terrible price of revenge."


A bit of an aside, but I won this book from Kathleen at Blog O' The Irish.  If you haven't had a chance to check out her blog, simply click HERE.  She has some terrific reviews and great giveaways so please stop by her blog and give it a read.  And be sure to congratulate her on her newest furry family member, Misty!

So what goodies arrived in your mailbox last week?