Thursday, August 10, 2017

Cover Crush: Between Earth and Sky by Amanda Skenandore

We all know we shouldn't judge a book by its cover, but in today's increasingly competitive market, a memorable jacket can make or break sales.

I am not a professional, but I am a consumer and much as I loath admitting it, jacket design is one of the first things I notice when browsing the shelves at Goodreads and Amazon. My love of cover art is what inspired Cover Crush, a weekly post dedicated to those prints that have captured my attention and/or piqued my interest. Enjoy!

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Amanda Skenandore's Between Earth and Sky is clean, classy, and timeless. The color scheme is light and the artist didn't rely on complex patterns or embellishments. It's a deceptively simple design, but one stands out just the same. 

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Did this week's cover catch your eye? Do you have an opinion you'd like to share? Please leave a comment below. I'd love to hear from you!

INTERESTED IN SEEING MORE?
CHECK OUT WHAT MY FRIENDS HAVE BOOKMARKED:

Magdalena at A Bookaholic Swede
Colleen at A Literary Vacation
Heather at The Maiden's Court
Holly at 2 Kids and Tired
Meghan at Of Quills & Vellum
Stephanie at Layered Pages


Friday, August 4, 2017

Daughter of the Sky by Michelle Diener

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
Obtained from: Netgalley
Read: August 3, 2017

The Victorian Empire has declared war on the Zulus if they don't accede to their outrageous demands. The clock is ticking down to the appointed hour. With no idea why the British are marching three massive columns of men and guns towards them, one Zulu general is prepared to take an impossible risk. But the life he's gambling with isn't his own... The sole survivor of a shipwreck off the Zululand coast, 15 year-old Elizabeth Jones is taken in by the Zulus, the people of the sky. Six years later, her white skin becomes useful to the Zulu army as they try to work out why the Victorian Empire has pointed their war-machine at the Zulu nation. Elizabeth is suddenly Zululand's most important spy. While infiltrating the British camp, Elizabeth's disguise as a young soldier is uncovered almost immediately by Captain Jack Burdell. However, he believes the tale she spins of searching for a missing brother and shields her from discovery, allowing her to bunk in his tent and giving her a job as his batman. Burdell is war-weary and disillusioned - no longer willing to follow regulations at all costs. But as Elizabeth and Jack explore their growing attraction to each other, the two armies move towards their inevitable clash. Elizabeth is torn between the guilt of betrayal and her fierce loyalty to her Zulu family, and when Zulu and British meet on the battlefield, both she and Jack find their hearts and their lives caught in the crossfire.

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Michelle Diener’s Daughter of the Sky was new territory for me. I knew virtually nothing about the Anglo-Zulu War prior to reading the book, but I was intrigued by the prospect and couldn’t help taking interest in the novel. Looking back, however, I have to admit to feeling the novel’s characters and themes outshone the history on which it was based.

I don’t mean to discount Diener’s illustration of the British invasion of Zululand or the Battle of Isandlwana, but politics don’t take centerstage here and I don’t want to mislead readers by implying otherwise. Elizabeth and Jack are caught up in the conflict, but their stories hinge on the morality of their circumstances, how they identify themselves, and the decisions they make when their loyalties are torn.

Daughter of the Sky is not standard fare by any means and while the story was lighter than I’d hoped going in, the narrative proved well-worth my time and I definitely recommend it to fellow readers.

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She’d been a spy for minutes and was already a failure. The only way out now was pleading. Or running.  
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Thursday, August 3, 2017

Cover Crush: The Scent of Death by Andrew Taylor

We all know we shouldn't judge a book by its cover, but in today's increasingly competitive market, a memorable jacket can make or break sales.

I am not a professional, but I am a consumer and much as I loath admitting it, jacket design is one of the first things I notice when browsing the shelves at Goodreads and Amazon. My love of cover art is what inspired Cover Crush, a weekly post dedicated to those prints that have captured my attention and/or piqued my interest. Enjoy!

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The designer behind Andrew Taylor's The Scent of Death is an absolutely genius. Lone figures walking into the backdrop are pretty standard fare as far as thrillers are concerned, but the scroll of the iron fence creates both depth and intrigue. Can't wait to get my hands on this one!

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Did this week's cover catch your eye? Do you have an opinion you'd like to share? Please leave a comment below. I'd love to hear from you!

INTERESTED IN SEEING MORE?
CHECK OUT WHAT MY FRIENDS HAVE BOOKMARKED:

Magdalena at A Bookaholic Swede
Colleen at A Literary Vacation
Heather at The Maiden's Court
Holly at 2 Kids and Tired
Meghan at Of Quills & Vellum
Stephanie at Layered Pages


Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Cover Cliché: The Morally Questionable Green Hat

Sometimes, while browsing the virtual shelves on Amazon and Goodreads, I see jacket art that gives me a disconcerting sense of deja vu. I know I've not read the book, but I am equally certain I've seen its image somewhere before.

This phenomenon is what inspired Cover Clichés. Image recycling is fairly common as cover artists are often forced to work from a limited pool of stock images and copyright free material. The details vary cover to cover, but each boasts a certain similarity and I find comparing the finished designs quite interesting.

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Newly engaged, Clive and Henrietta now begin the difficult task of meeting each other's family. Difficult because Clive has neglected to tell Henrietta that he is in fact the heir to the Howard estate and fortune, and Henrietta has just discovered that her mother has been hiding secrets about her past as well. When Clive brings Henrietta to the family estate to meet his parents, they are less than enthused about his impoverished intended. Left alone in this extravagant new world when Clive returns to the city, Henrietta finds herself more at home with the servants than his family, much to the disapproval of Mrs. Howard and soon gets caught up in the disappearance of an elderly servant's ring, not realizing that in doing so she has become part of a bigger, darker plot. As Clive and Henrietta attempt to discover the truth in the two very different worlds unraveling around them, they both begin to wonder: Are they meant for each other after all




Sweeping and panoramic, You Were There Before My Eyes is the epic and intimate story of a young woman who chafes at the stifling routine and tradition of her small, turn-of-the-century Italian village. When an opportunity presents itself for her to emigrate to America, her hunger for escape compels her to leave everything behind for the gleaming promises await her and her young husband in Mr. Ford’s factories.

Determine to survive, and perhaps even thrive, young Jane finds herself navigating not just a new language and country, but a world poised upon the edge of economic and social revolution—and war. As Jane searches for inner fulfillment while building young family, the tide of history ebbs and flows. From the chaos of Ellis Island to the melting pot of industrial Detroit, You Were There Before My Eyes spills over with colorful characters and vivid period details. Maria Riva paints an authentic portrait of immigrant America and poignantly captures the ever evolving nature of the American dream.




In an enthralling new historical novel from national bestselling author Kate Quinn, two women—a female spy recruited to the real-life Alice Network in France during World War I and an unconventional American socialite searching for her cousin in 1947—are brought together in a mesmerizing story of courage and redemption.

1947. In the chaotic aftermath of World War II, American college girl Charlie St. Clair is pregnant, unmarried, and on the verge of being thrown out of her very proper family. She's also nursing a desperate hope that her beloved cousin Rose, who disappeared in Nazi-occupied France during the war, might still be alive. So when Charlie's parents banish her to Europe to have her "little problem" taken care of, Charlie breaks free and heads to London, determined to find out what happened to the cousin she loves like a sister.

1915. A year into the Great War, Eve Gardiner burns to join the fight against the Germans and unexpectedly gets her chance when she's recruited to work as a spy. Sent into enemy-occupied France, she's trained by the mesmerizing Lili, the "Queen of Spies", who manages a vast network of secret agents right under the enemy's nose.

Thirty years later, haunted by the betrayal that ultimately tore apart the Alice Network, Eve spends her days drunk and secluded in her crumbling London house. Until a young American barges in uttering a name Eve hasn't heard in decades, and launches them both on a mission to find the truth ...no matter where it leads.




In October 1932, at the tail end of Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s first presidential campaign, Eleanor Roosevelt took an overnight train from Potsdam to Albany with Lorena “Hick” Hickok, one of the top Associated Press reporters in the country. That train ride marked the beginning of an extraordinary relationship that would last the rest of Hick and Eleanor’s lives.

In Undiscovered Country, Kelly O’Connor McNees adroitly mixes fact and fiction to present an intimate portrait of the love that bloomed between these two women, hidden in plain sight. Using historical records (including the more than three thousand letters the pair exchanged over a span of thirty years), McNees portrays their relationship from their introduction as reporter and subject through their intense first meetings, their burgeoning affair, and the conflicts that arose as journalist Hick’s ethics were hopelessly compromised by her affection for the woman she was supposed to be covering.

A remarkable portrait of Depression-era America (including Hick and Eleanor’s work on the founding of Arthurdale, the federal housing project in West Virginia for homeless ex-miners), Undiscovered Country is thoroughly researched, highly readable, and beautifully subtle—an extraordinary portrayal of one of the greatest unknown love stories in American politics.




Ariel Lawhon, a rising star in historical suspense, unravels the extraordinary twists and turns in Anna Anderson's fifty-year battle to be recognized as Anastasia Romanov. Is she the beloved daughter, revered icon, and Russian grand duchess or is she an imposter, liar, and the thief of another woman's legacy?

Countless others have rendered their verdict. Now it is your turn.

Russia, July 17, 1918: Under direct orders from Vladimir Lenin, Bolshevik secret police force Anastasia Romanov, along with the entire imperial family, into a damp basement in Siberia, where they face a merciless firing squad. None survive. At least that is what the executioners have always claimed.

Germany, February 17, 1920: A young woman bearing an uncanny resemblance to Anastasia Romanov is pulled shivering and senseless from a canal. Refusing to explain her presence in the freezing water or even acknowledge her rescuers, she is taken to the hospital where an examination reveals that her body is riddled with countless, horrific scars. When she finally does speak, this frightened, mysterious young woman claims to be the Russian grand duchess.

As rumors begin to circulate through European society that the youngest Romanov daughter has survived the massacre at Ekaterinburg, old enemies and new threats are awakened. With a narrative that is equal parts The Talented Mr. Ripley and Memento, Lawhon wades into the most psychologically complex and emotionally compelling territory: the nature of identity itself.

The question of who Anna Anderson is and what actually happened to Anastasia Romanov creates a saga that spans fifty years and touches three continents. This thrilling saga is every bit as moving and momentous as it is harrowing and twisted.


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Which cover strikes your fancy and why? What colors draw your eye? Do you think the image appropriate next to the jacket description? Leave your comments below!

Have you seen this image elsewhere? Shoot me an email or leave a comment and let me know. 


Thursday, July 27, 2017

Cover Crush: No Longer Alone by Melinda Viergever Inman

We all know we shouldn't judge a book by its cover, but in today's increasingly competitive market, a memorable jacket can make or break sales.

I am not a professional, but I am a consumer and much as I loath admitting it, jacket design is one of the first things I notice when browsing the shelves at Goodreads and Amazon. My love of cover art is what inspired Cover Crush, a weekly post dedicated to those prints that have captured my attention and/or piqued my interest. Enjoy!

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Layered imagery always makes me do a double-take and Melinda Viergever Inman's No Longer Alone is a great example as to why. The kissing couple is the obvious heart of the design, but the house and the twister imply that this novel is a romance was gravitas.  The whole image comes together beautiful and leaves me curious about the narrative and how all these elements come together. 

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Did this week's cover catch your eye? Do you have an opinion you'd like to share? Please leave a comment below. I'd love to hear from you!

INTERESTED IN SEEING MORE?
CHECK OUT WHAT MY FRIENDS HAVE BOOKMARKED:

Magdalena at A Bookaholic Swede
Colleen at A Literary Vacation
Heather at The Maiden's Court
Holly at 2 Kids and Tired
Meghan at Of Quills & Vellum
Stephanie at Layered Pages


Wednesday, July 26, 2017

The Scarlet Coat by Angela K. Couch

Rating: ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
Obtained from: Netgalley
Read: January 25, 2017

Surrounded by the musket fire of the American Revolution, Rachel Garnet prays for her family to be safe. When the British invade the Mohawk Valley and her father and brother don't return from the battle, she goes in pursuit of them. She finds her brother alive but her father has been killed at the hand of the enemy. Amidst the death, how can she ignore a cry for help? Rachel reluctantly takes in a badly wounded British officer. But how long can her sense of Christian duty repress her hatred for his scarlet coat? Passages of Scripture and fleeting images of society are all Andrew Wyndham recalls after he awakens to the log walls of his gentle prison. Even his name eludes him. Rachel Garnet insists he is a captain in the British army. He mourns the loss of his memory, but how can he hope to remember war when his “enemy” is capturing his heart? Andrew’s injuries are severe, his memory slow to return, and the secret of his existence too perilous to ignore. As Rachel nurses him back to health, his hidden scarlet coat threatens to expose the deeds of her merciful heart, and Andrew is forced to face a harrowing decision—Stay hidden and risk losing the woman he loves or turn himself in and risk losing his life.

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I am well aware that one shouldn’t judge a book by its cover and artwork isn’t a factor I consider when rating any story, but what in the dewy decimal system is going on with Angela K. Couch’s The Scarlet Coat? Am I only one crinkling their nose over this poorly contrived composition?

Having thrown that shallow commentary on the table, I’d like to say that I am in the minority in my estimation of the novel’s content. Most readers seemed to have greatly enjoyed the time they spent with The Scarlet Coat and while I truly appreciate those opinions, I can’t say Couch’s narrative suited my particular tastes.

Pardon my blunt assessment, but the characters struck me as one dimensional and I’d difficultly warming to either Rachel or Andrew. The novel was too sweet for my liking and I found the action both predictable and slow. Couch’s faith based themes are hard to miss and while I’ve no issue with the content, I couldn’t help wishing there’d been more subtly exercised in its presentation.

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Rachel glanced at the man on the floor, not sure whether to retreat or go back to her ministrations. Her insides twisted. This man fought for life. He was the enemy—her mind knew it—but lying here so helpless…he was only a man. Could she sit back and do nothing while he died?
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Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Cover Cliché: Faint-Hearted Femme

Sometimes, while browsing the virtual shelves on Amazon and Goodreads, I see jacket art that gives me a disconcerting sense of deja vu. I know I've not read the book, but I am equally certain I've seen its image somewhere before.

This phenomenon is what inspired Cover Clichés. Image recycling is fairly common as cover artists are often forced to work from a limited pool of stock images and copyright free material. The details vary cover to cover, but each boasts a certain similarity and I find comparing the finished designs quite interesting.

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The night holds no secrets for Sir Marcus Camberley now that he's free of the illness that threatened his life and there are no more vampires lurking in its shadows. So he's surprised to find himself in the middle of a small band of smugglers on Hampshire's quiet coastline. Even more surprising is the woman waiting to guide them on the beach. Mariah Dean is a no-nonsense, practically minded widow doing her best to help her neighbors and friends as best she can. Sex is the farthest thing from her mind until she runs into the talented lips of this strange gentleman. Seizing the opportunity, Mariah offers him one night in her bed. After all, if opportunity knocks, then it's only polite to answer the door. Of course, Mariah discovers to her chagrin that incredible sex can be rather addictive and gives rise to a whole new set of problems. Especially when her unexpected lover declares his intentions-and won't take "no" for an answer.




Lady Katherine Ellsworth lives a beautiful, dull country life in the midst of the Somerset moors. Her main concerns are country fayres and village intrigue. But when her cousin is murdered, Katherine soon learns that the killer has targeted her next. Walking upon the moors one day, she is attacked by a vicious man wielding a saber.

There is nothing for her to do but seek protection with her late cousin’s betrothed, Harold Rockfall, Duke of Highset. Harold Rockfall is a veteran of the wars in France, and has only returned to England to hunt his betrothed’s killer. But when he meets Katherine, he begins to wonder if he hadn’t picked the wrong cousin after all.

With the killer on the loose, Harry should be doing everything in his power to catch him. So why is it he never wants to leave Highwall Castle? Why is it he never wants to leave the intriguing and dangerous Lady Katherine Ellsworth? 




An unfulfilled love.

A royal hunt that goes horribly wrong.

And an opportunity for a humble governess to save the man of her dreams and gain a royal title in the process.

Virginia Honeyfield has been the governess for Nicholas Willoughby, the Duke of Kent, for years. She's the only one who truly understands the shy, reticent Duke, and she stays on to become his administrator when they both come of age. Their love and attraction fails to come to fruition, though, because Virginia is a mere commoner.

But everything changes in the blink of an eye when Nicholas indulges in his favorite passion, hunting, and he's attacked by a wild boar. His injuries are severe, and suddenly circumstances dictate that Virginia is the only one who can come to his rescue.

Will she succeed? And will her efforts allow their longstanding love to be realized? Download this fast-moving Regency romance today and find out!




Tatiana Ashurst has a secret – one that she cannot afford to be known to Georgian English society. But Kit Vallentyn discovers her hidden ability to wield infinitely powerful magic… and saves her from inadvertently revealing it to everyone. Tatiana knows it is impossible for her to marry him. But how can she help herself from becoming fascinated by this handsome man, who seems to extend a spell over her more powerful than any she can conjure?

Kit is out for a wife. His instinct, however, is to go through the mere motions of searching, just to please his ambitious father who wants a big dowry from the marriage. But the one woman who he can’t get out of his mind is the twin sister of the one his father wants him to marry – the one who is plain, penniless, ineligible… and enchanting in more ways than one.

For Kit and Tatiana to weather the storm of their desires, they have to peel away the layers of all of their secrets, to discover the simple truth of their love.




The night Victoria Conrad runs away doesn’t turn out at all like she planned. After being accosted by two ruffians, she is rescued by the Earl of Carlisle’s coachmen and taken to his country house—only to discover she is his prisoner! The doors aren’t locked but the winter is severe, and she is prevented from walking to freedom by the snow. Horribly scarred from painful injuries, Alastair Saville returned from the war a broken and lonely man, the last heir to an earldom he doesn’t want. The previous earl and his son, Alastair’s uncle and cousin, perished aboard a ship lost in the channel, but it is the wrongful death of Alastair’s beloved sister that sets his misery afire and makes him seethe for revenge. Alastair kidnaps Victoria to prevent her marriage to Ellison Montgomery, heir to the Montgomery barony, whom he blames for his sister’s death. Alastair intends to bring the man to ruin through poverty and scandal, but once he has Victoria as his unwilling guest she ceases to serve as an anonymous tool in his quest for vengeance. She is vivacious, outspoken and alluring, and she brings light into Alastair’s shattered existence. But Alastair is a dying man, and has only these last few days to enjoy her company as he dreams about life as a man whole, and what might have been.






Angelica is a Dutch heiress on the run from a British Officer who has gone from would-be-lover to stalker. The mystery man who appears with an offer of escort from New York City to her home in Albany may not be exactly who he seems, but Angelica is desperate to escape. The journey they make upriver during the height of the Revolution is full of danger, for there are Indians, opposing armies and brigands along the way. The greatest danger, however, will be to her heart.






Henrietta Hawksley walks hesitantly to the cliff edge, staring down into the pitch dark cold sea and it’s crashing waves…could this be the answer to her predicament, a long leap off the edge into the murkiness below? Left pregnant by the scandalous Lord John Pembury, her character and good name and more importantly that of her fathers the Rev. Robert Hawksley soon to be in disrepair…this appeared to be Henrietta’s only escape, until she falls into the arms of The Duke of Templeton - William Pembury. Will Henrietta’s life change for the better and be saved from scandal, will she finish that deliberate walk to the cliff edge…or does she favour a different path? Find out what happens in this delightful clean regency romance read, that gives you the real comfort and warmth of an exquisite candlelit feast...




To save her true love, she must sacrifice her own heart.

Tessa Ryder's Gift, which allows her to take the form of anyone she touches, was invaluable to the British Army's secret Omega Group. The Peninsula War is over, the Omegas are disbanded, but she's learned of a plot to exterminate them—and free Napoleon.

Desperate to warn Sebastian Montague, one of the few remaining Omegas, Tessa takes on the guise of his ex-mistress. It's the only way she can face the man she loved. The man whose memory of her was telepathically wiped—at her request.

Sebastian knows a lie when he sees one, and it doesn't take long to strip the disguise of the unfamiliar woman he believes is his assassin. But before he can use his formidable Gift for illusion to wring the truth from her, bullets fly and they are both on the run.

Surrounded by traitors and spies, Tessa and Sebastian fight to thwart the scheme to plunge England back into the darkness of war. And, as their powerful attraction brings them closer and closer, Tessa fights to protect the man she still loves more than life—by keeping the secret of their shared history buried deep in her heart.






India Black uses her wit and wiles as both a madam and a spy, proving she’s the best there is when it comes to undercover work…

Drawn into intrigue by her lover Philip Barrett, India finds herself being used as a pawn to help him steal a valuable jewel. Turning the tables, she proves that India Black answers to no man, no matter how attractive he may be…






Determined to help her impoverished family, Elizabeth Canham accepts a position at Burndale Academy, an isolated girl's school filled with secrets and shadows. There she meets mysterious widower Griffin Fairfax, a man dogged by dark rumours, a man who both frightens and fascinates her.

But Beth has secrets of her own, nightmares that haunt her and fears that follow her into the light of day when a woman is found dead in the nearby woods—the victim of a brutal murder… a murder that bears terrifying similarity to others. Then Beth discovers that all the victims were intimately connected to Griffin. Beth’s past has taught her to be wary, but her heart tells her that Griffin cannot be the charming, seductive killer stalking the night, stealing women’s hearts…and lives.


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Which cover strikes your fancy and why? What colors draw your eye? Do you think the image appropriate next to the jacket description? Leave your comments below!

Have you seen this image elsewhere? Shoot me an email or leave a comment and let me know. 


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