Monday, April 23, 2018

#CoverCliche: Celtic Queen

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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On the night of Guinevere’s birth, a wise woman declares a prophecy of doom for the child: She will be gwenhwyfar, the white shadow, destined to betray her king, and be herself betrayed. Years pass, and Guinevere becomes a great beauty, riding free across Northern Wales on her beloved horse. She is entranced by the tales of the valorous Arthur, a courageous warrior who seems to Guinevere no mere man, but a legend. Then she finds herself betrothed to that same famous king, a hero who commands her willing devotion. Just as his knights and all his subjects, she falls under Arthur’s spell.

At the side of King Arthur, Guinevere reigns strong and true. Yet she soon learns how the dark prophecy will reveal itself. She is unable to conceive. Arthur’s only true heir is Mordred, offspring of a cursed encounter with the witch Morgause. Now Guinevere must make a fateful choice: She decides to raise Mordred, teaching him to be a ruler and to honor Camelot. She will love him like a mother. Mordred will be her greatest joy–and the key to her ultimate downfall.

Return to a time of legend–the days of Guinevere and Arthur and the glory that was to become Camelot.


Forced to flee Ireland, Gracelin O’Malley boards a coffin ship bound for America, taking her young daughter with her on the arduous transatlantic voyage. In New York, Gracelin struggles to adapt to a strange new world and to the harsh realities of immigrant life in a city teeming with crime, corruption, and anti-Irish prejudice. As she tries to make a life for herself and her daughter, she reunites with her brother, Sean . . . and a man she thought she’d never see again. When her friendship with a runaway slave sweeps her into the volatile abolitionist movement, Gracelin gains entrée to the drawing rooms of the wealthy and powerful. Still, the injustice all around her threatens the future of those she loves, and once again, she must do the unthinkable.





The captivating story of Cot Daley, kidnapped in Galway and shipped to Barbados and sold as a slave. The survivor of a failed rebellion, in which black and Irish slaves have conspired to overthrow their masters, Cot Daley is called in for questioning. She agrees to give her account only as part of her life story, wanting to set the record straight for posterity. The tale of her amazing life unfolds: the journey to Barbados, the harrowing years of fieldwork on the sugarcane plantations, and her marriage to an African slave and rebel leader. Kate McCafferty brilliantly re-creates this little-known part of seventeenth-century history, when more than fifty thousand Irish were sold to the plantation owners of the Caribbean.



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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. 


Friday, April 20, 2018

#Wishlist: April 2018

Like many readers, my TBR grows faster than it shrinks. I find a subject that interests me and titles start piling up one right after the other. With so many bookmarked, I thought it'd be fun to sort through and feature five titles a month here at Flashlight Commentary. 

So in addition to being a book addict, I am also really into podcasts and one of the podcasts I listen to on a regular basis is BookRiot's All the Books. Shocking right? A book junkie, who listens to a podcast about books? Who'd have guessed. 

The podcast has two episodes a week. The first features the week's new release and the second is dedicated to books that are not new, the latter of which, is which is where I drew inspiration for this month's wishlist. 

It's not unusual for me to feature backlist titles, but this month's selections were deliberately selected from the backlists of authors I absolutely love. Enjoy!

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A Place Beyond Courage by Elizabeth Chadwick

Sometimes Keeping Your Honor Means Breaking Your Word

The early twelfth century is a time for ambitious men to prosper. John FitzGilbert is a man of honor and loyalty, sworn to royal service. When the old king dies, his successor rewards the handsome and ambitious John with castles and lands. But King Stephen has a tenuous hold on both his reign and his barons, and when jealous rivals at court seek to destroy John, he backs a woman's claim to the crown, sacrifices his marriage, and eventually is forced to make a gamble that is perhaps one step too far.

Rich with detail, masterful in its storytelling, "A Place Beyond Courage" is a tale of impossible gambles and the real meaning of honor.

"Picking up an Elizabeth Chadwick novel is like having a Bentley draw up at your door: you know you are in for a sumptouous ride."-"Daily Telegraph"

"The best writer of medieval fiction currently around."-Richard Lee, founder and publisher, "Historical Novel Society"

"A star back in Britain, Elizabeth Chadwick is finally getting the attention she deserves here."-"USA Today"
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Interregnum by S.J.A. Turney

The Empire has fallen. The Empire must rise
A historical fantasy tale of valour, honour, and determination against all odds

For twenty years civil war has torn the Empire apart; the Imperial line extinguished after the mad Emperor Quintus was burned in his palace, betrayed by his greatest general and oldest friend, Kiva Caerdin.

Against a background of war, decay and violence, men who once served in the proud Imperial army now fight as hands for hire, little but fodder for greedy lords fighting over the remnants of more glorious times.

Kiva’s memories of the Empire are reignited when fighting alongside a fearsome mercenary unit, the Grey Company. Forced to face a dark and shameful past, he struggles to put his life back together. To achieve redemption, he and his men must defeat an ancient, cunning and bitter rival. Only then can the Empire be unified and become reborn…

Set in a hugely imaginative and atmospheric world inspired by Roman history, Interregnum is the first novel in S.J.A. Turney’s epic Tales of the Empire series, and is perfect for readers of Conn Iggulden, Bernard Cornwell and Simon Scarrow.
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The Serpent and the Pearl by Kate Quinn

One powerful family holds a city, a faith, and a woman in its grasp—from the national bestselling author of Daughters of Rome and Mistress of Rome.

Rome, 1492. The Holy City is drenched with blood and teeming with secrets. A pope lies dying and the throne of God is left vacant, a prize awarded only to the most virtuous—or the most ruthless. The Borgia family begins its legendary rise, chronicled by an innocent girl who finds herself drawn into their dangerous web…

Vivacious Giulia Farnese has floor-length golden hair and the world at her feet: beauty, wealth, and a handsome young husband. But she is stunned to discover that her glittering marriage is a sham, and she is to be given as a concubine to the ruthless, charismatic Cardinal Borgia: Spaniard, sensualist, candidate for Pope—and passionately in love with her.

Two trusted companions will follow her into the Pope's shadowy harem: Leonello, a cynical bodyguard bent on bloody revenge against a mysterious killer, and Carmelina, a fiery cook with a past full of secrets. But as corruption thickens in the Vatican and the enemies begin to circle, Giulia and her friends will need all their wits to survive in the world of the Borgias.
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Gladiatrix by Russell Whitfield 

The Ancient Roman public's hunger for gladiatorial combat has never been greater. The Emperor Domitian's passion for novelty and variety in the arena has given rise to a very different kind of warrior: the Gladiatrix.

Sole survivor of a shipwreck off the coast of Asia Minor, Lysandra finds herself the property of Lucius Balbus, owner of the foremost Ludus for female gladiators in the Eastern Empire. Lysandra, a member of an ancient Spartan sect of warrior priestesses, refuses to accept her new status as a slave. Forced to fight for survival, her deadly combat skills win the adoration of the crowds, the respect of Balbus.

But Lysandra's Spartan pride also earns her powerful enemies: Sorina, Gladiatrix Prima and leader of the Barbarian faction, and the sadistic Numidian trainer, Nastasen. When plans are laid for the ultimate combat spectacle to honor the visit of the emperor's powerful new emissary, Lysandra must face her greatest and deadliest trial.

This is a thrilling first novel that combines fascinating historical detail with blistering action.
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The Wife, the Maid, and the Mistress by Ariel Lawhon

A tantalizing reimagining of a scandalous mystery that rocked the nation in 1930—Justice Joseph Crater's infamous disappearance—as seen through the eyes of the three women who knew him best.

They say behind every great man, there's a woman. In this case, there are three. Stella Crater, the judge's wife, is the picture of propriety draped in long pearls and the latest Chanel. Ritzi, a leggy showgirl with Broadway aspirations, thinks moonlighting in the judge's bed is the quickest way off the chorus line. Maria Simon, the dutiful maid, has the judge to thank for her husband's recent promotion to detective in the NYPD. Meanwhile, Crater is equally indebted to Tammany Hall leaders and the city's most notorious gangster, Owney "The Killer" Madden.

On a sultry summer night, as rumors circulate about the judge's involvement in wide-scale political corruption, the Honorable Joseph Crater steps into a cab and disappears without a trace. Or does he?

After 39 years of necessary duplicity, Stella Crater is finally ready to reveal what she knows. Sliding into a plush leather banquette at Club Abbey, the site of many absinthe-soaked affairs and the judge's favorite watering hole back in the day, Stella orders two whiskeys on the rocks—one for her and one in honor of her missing husband. Stirring the ice cubes in the lowball glass, Stella begins to tell a tale—of greed, lust, and deceit. As the novel unfolds and the women slyly break out of their prescribed roles, it becomes clear that each knows more than she has initially let on.

With a layered intensity and prose as effervescent as the bubbly that flows every night, The Wife, the Maid, and the Mistress is a wickedly entertaining historical mystery that will transport readers to a bygone era with tipsy spins through subterranean jazz clubs and backstage dressing rooms. But beneath the Art Deco skyline and amid the intoxicating smell of smoke and whiskey, the question of why Judge Crater disappeared lingers seductively until a twist in the very last pages.

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INTERESTED IN MORE WISHLISTS?
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
Stephanie at Layered Pages

Thursday, April 19, 2018

#CoverCrush: Art in the Blood by Bonnie MacBird

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 publishing 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. This appreciation for cover art is what inspired Cover Crush, a weekly post dedicated to those images that have captured my attention and/or piqued my interest. Enjoy!

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London. A snowy December, 1888. Sherlock Holmes, 34, is languishing and back on cocaine after a disastrous Ripper investigation. Watson can neither comfort nor rouse his friend – until a strangely encoded letter arrives from Paris.

Mlle La Victoire, a beautiful French cabaret star writes that her illegitimate son by an English lord has disappeared, and she has been attacked in the streets of Montmartre.

Racing to Paris with Watson at his side, Holmes discovers the missing child is only the tip of the iceberg of a much larger problem. The most valuable statue since the Winged Victory has been violently stolen in Marseilles, and several children from a silk mill in Lancashire have been found murdered. The clues in all three cases point to a single, untouchable man.

Will Holmes recover in time to find the missing boy and stop a rising tide of murders? To do so he must stay one step ahead of a dangerous French rival and the threatening interference of his own brother, Mycroft.

This latest adventure, in the style of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, sends the iconic duo from London to Paris and the icy wilds of Lancashire in a case which tests Watson's friendship and the fragility and gifts of Sherlock Holmes' own artistic nature to the limits.
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A high contrast color scheme and a silhouette in one design? Count me in! Sherlock spin-offs are a dime a dozen, but Art in the Blood by Bonnie MacBird stands out like few others. Reminiscent of Murder Maps, the subtly of the layers add both depth and intrigue to the image and strike just the right chord for the story within.

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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
Stephanie at Layered Pages

Monday, April 16, 2018

#CoverCliche: Stolen Kisses

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 first retelling of the passionate, twelfth-century love story since the discovery of 113 lost love letters between Heloise d’Argenteuil and Pierre Abelard—the original Romeo and Juliet.

"While I sleep you never leave me, and after I wake I see you, as soon as I open my eyes, even before the light of day itself." —Abelard to Heloise

Among the young women of twelfth-century Paris, Heloise d’Argenteuil stands apart. Extraordinarily educated and quick-witted, she is being groomed by her uncle to become an abbess in the service of God.

But with one encounter, her destiny changes forever. Pierre Abelard, headmaster at the Notre-Dame Cloister School, is acclaimed as one of the greatest philosophers in France. His controversial reputation only adds to his allure, yet despite the legions of women swooning over his poetry and dashing looks, he is captivated by the brilliant Heloise alone. As their relationship blossoms from a meeting of the minds to a forbidden love affair, both Heloise and Abelard must choose between love, duty, and ambition.

Sherry Jones weaves the lovers’ own words into an evocative account of desire and sacrifice. As intimate as it is erotic, as devastating as it is beautiful, The Sharp Hook of Love is a poignant, tender tribute to one of history’s greatest romances, and to love’s power to transform and endure.

Martine Leavitt offers a spellbinding story, interweaving elements of classic fantasy and high romance in this National Book Award Finalist. Keturah follows a legendary hart into the king's forest, where she becomes hopelessly lost. Her strength diminishes until, finally, she realizes that death is near. Little does she know that he is a young, handsome lord, melancholy and stern. Renowned for her storytelling, Keturah is able to charm Lord Death with a story and thereby gain a reprieve but only for twenty-four hours. She must find her one true love within that time or all is lost. Keturah searches desperately while the village prepares for an unexpected visit from the king, and Keturah is thrus into a prominent role as mysterious happenings alarm her friends and neighbors. Lord Death's presence hovers over this all until Keturah confronts him one last time in the harrowing climax.

Love is for women who have choices. She has none.

In eleventh-century France on the eve of the First Crusade, Isabel de Vermandois becomes the wife of a man old enough to be her father. He is Robert de Beaumont, Comte de Meulan. A hero of the Norman victory at Hastings and loyal counselor to successive English kings, Robert is not all Isabel had expected. Cruel and kind by contrast, he draws her into the decadent court of King Henry I. As Robert's secrets are unraveled, Isabel finds her heart divided. Her duties as a wife and mother compel her, but an undeniable attraction to the young William de Warenne, Earl of Surrey, tempts her. In a kingdom where love holds no sway over marital relations, Isabel must choose where her loyalties and her heart lie.

Based on the life of a remarkable medieval woman forgotten by time, The Burning Candle is a story of duty and honor, love and betrayal.

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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, April 12, 2018

#CoverCrush: The Lost Love Letters of Henri Fournier: A Novel by Rosalind Brackenbury

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 publishing 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. This appreciation for cover art is what inspired Cover Crush, a weekly post dedicated to those images that have captured my attention and/or piqued my interest. Enjoy!

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What do you do when you’ve lost the love of your life?

Seb Fowler has arrived in Paris to research his literary idol, Henri Fournier. It begins with an interview granted by a woman whose affair with the celebrated writer trails back to World War I. The enchanting Pauline is fragile, but her memories are alive—those of an illicit passion, of the chances she took and never regretted, and of the twists of fate that defined her unforgettable love story.

Through Pauline’s love letters, her secrets, and a lost Fournier manuscript, Seb will come to learn so much more—about Pauline, Henri, and himself. For Seb, every moment of Pauline’s past proves to be more inspiring than he could have imagined. She’s given him the courage to grab hold of whatever life offers, to cherish each risk, and to pursue love in his life.

Intimately epic, The Lost Love Letters of Henri Fournier spans generations to explore every beautiful mystery of falling in love, being in love, and losing a love—and, most important, daring to love again and discovering just how resilient the human heart can be.
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I'm a sucker for aged and layered designs, but can you blame me? Rosalind Brackenbury's The Lost Love Letters of Henri Fournier is simply stunning. Thankfully I've also procured myself a copy and can't wait to see if the narrative lives up to its jacket...

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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
Stephanie at Layered Pages

Monday, April 9, 2018

#CoverCliche: Lost in Thought

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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Will the dam hold?

Julie Wallace has always wanted to write. Trying to escape the Great Depression, Julie’s father buys The Alderton Sentinel, a small-town newspaper in flood-prone Alderton, Pennsylvania, and moves his family there. As flash floods ominously increase, Julie’s investigative reporting uncovers secrets that could endanger the entire community.

Julie, the newspaper, and her family are thrown into a perilous standoff with the owners of the steel mills as they investigate the conditions of the steelworkers. Battle lines are drawn between the steel mill owners and their immigrant laborers. As The Sentinel and Julie take on a more aggressive role in reforming these conditions in their community, seething tensions come to a head.

When a devastating tragedy follows a shocking revelation, Julie’s courage and strength are tested. Will truth and justice win, or will Julie lose everything she holds dear?

"This collection... escorts readers through historic Europe’s romantic settings in search of the perfect love story." --DESERET NEWS, Melissa DeMoux

In WAR OF HEARTS, Annette Lyon’s exciting novella, Anna, a journalist, is desperate to escape the magazine where Pete, her now-former boyfriend, also works. Heartbroken and still in love with him, Anna snags an assignment to cover the Winter War in Finland. She arrives at a snowy Finnish battlefront only to discover that Pete is already there—as her photographer. She’s determined to be professional about the situation until a battle breaks out in camp, putting her and Pete in harm’s way and putting their love to the test.

In bestselling regency romance author G.G. Vandagriff’s enchanting novella, THE EARL OF OAKSEY TAKES A WIFE, Melissa Burroughs is the new Countess of Oaksey. Her whirlwind romance and subsequent elopement was worth every divine moment, even if her parents did disapprove. When Melissa learns about her new husband’s apparently empty pockets, she wonders if the intimacy they’ve shared is only the ruse of a fortune-hunter. Melissa is devastated and determines to live a separate life from her new husband. But the Earl has other plans, which do not include staying away from his wife.

In Michele Paige Holmes’ charming story, GIFT OF LOVE, Ethan Mooreleigh knows he’ll never love another woman after the loss of his beloved wife. Yet he needs a male heir to inherit his vast fortune. Ethan’s best friend, Stuart, has an idea and retrieves his sister, Amelia, who has been living in a convent since the tragic death of her parents. Amelia only agrees to enter into the contract marriage because there’s a child involved, Ethan’s neglected three-year-old daughter. When Amelia meets Ethan for the first time at the altar, she realizes that the last thing she wants her marriage to be is loveless. But winning a man whose heart is still broken may be impossible.

A LESSON IN LOVE, a delightful novella by bestselling regency romance author Sarah M. Eden, captures the uncertainties of newlywed life. Lucy Stanthorpe arrives for the London Season, planning to attend every ball and musicale with her new husband, Reed, only to discover he has no intention of taking part in the social whirl. Spurred on by their family and friends, Lucy and Reed each formulate increasingly outlandish plans to teach the other a lesson in appreciation. Their battle of wills threatens to pull the young couple apart unless they can both soften their stubborn hearts.

In AN OCEAN AWAY, Heather B. Moore’s captivating story, Gina Graydon knows the last thing she’ll attract on her holiday in France is an eligible bachelor. Tall, outspoken, and with a weakness for laughing at the wrong moment, not to mention being much too occupied with reading gothic romances, Gina decides she’d rather live in her fictional world. Besides, the only man who pays attention to her at the resort hotel happens to be her father’s worst enemy. And that is far from romantic. Reading in a secluded garden, and dreaming about the perfect kiss, all keep Gina much too busy to consider Mr. Edmund Donaldson any sort of hero.

Nancy Campbell Allen’s entrancing regency romance novella, WHAT HAPPENS IN VENICE, follows Evangeline Stuart as she determines to enjoy her vacation in Venice—her first and likely her last since she lives under the strict confines of her step-father’s control. When she meets the mysterious and romantic Conte Bellini, who happens to be Italy’s most eligible bachelor, she decides he is all part of the dream of visiting Venice. It’s impossible for her to believe that his interest in her is anything more than kindness to a foreign visitor. But when he discovers the true betrayal of her step-father, Evangeline learns the Conte may be the one person with the power to restore her happiness.

Return to a Jazz Age tale of grand adventure by New York Times bestselling author Deanna Raybourn

On the verge of a stilted life as an aristocrat’s wife, Poppy Hammond does the only sensible thing—she flees the chapel in her wedding gown. Assisted by the handsome curate who calls himself Sebastian Cantrip, she spirits away to her estranged father’s quiet country village, pursued by the family she left in uproar. But when the dust of her broken engagement settles and Sebastian disappears under mysterious circumstances, Poppy discovers there is more to her hero than it seems.

With only her feisty lady’s maid for company, Poppy secures employment and travels incognita—east across the seas, chasing a hunch and the whisper of clues. Danger abounds beneath the canopies of the silken city, and Poppy finds herself in the perilous sights of those who will stop at nothing to recover a fabled ancient treasure. Torn between allegiance to her kindly employer and a dashing, shadowy figure, Poppy will risk it all as she attempts to unravel a much larger plan—one that stretches to the very heart of the British government, and one that could endanger everything, and everyone, that she holds dear.

“Raybourn skillfully balances humor and earnest, deadly drama, creating well-drawn characters and a rich setting.” —Publishers Weekly on Dark Road to Darjeeling

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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, April 5, 2018

#CoverCrush: The Crook and Flail: A Novel of Ancient Egypt by Libbie Hawker

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 publishing 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. This appreciation for cover art is what inspired Cover Crush, a weekly post dedicated to those images that have captured my attention and/or piqued my interest. Enjoy!

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Book Two of The She-King series

The son of the god must take her rightful place on Egypt's throne.

Hatshepsut longs for power, but she is constrained by her commitment to maat – the sacred order of righteousness, the way things must be. Her mother claims Hatshepsut is destined for Egypt's throne – not as the king's chief wife, but as the king herself, despite her female body. But a woman on the throne defies maat, and even Hatshepsut is not so bold as to risk the safety of the Two Lands for her own ends.

As God's Wife of Amun, she believes she has found the perfect balance of power and maat, and has reconciled herself to contentment with her station. But even that peace is threatened when the powerful men of Egypt plot to replace her. They see her as nothing but a young woman, easily used for their own ends and discarded. But she is the son of the god Amun, and neither her strength nor her will can be so easily discounted. 

As the machinations of politics drive her into the hands of enemies and the arms of lovers, onto the battlefield and into the childbed, she comes face to face with maat itself – and must decide at last whether to surrender her birthright to a man, or to take up the crook and flail of the Pharaoh, and claim for herself the throne of the king.

Libbie Hawker's saga of the Thutmoside dynasty continues with The Crook and Flail, the anticipated sequel to The Sekhmet Bed.

This edition contains a sample chapter of The Book of Coming Forth by Day, Libbie Hawker's new ancient Egyptian series.
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Can we stop and talk about the use of color on Libbie Hawker's The Crook and Flail: A Novel of Ancient Egypt? It's an interesting combination, but it pops against the vast majority of Amazon's catalogue.

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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
Stephanie at Layered Pages

Monday, April 2, 2018

#CoverCliche: Across the Lonesome Prairie

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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Follow the paths of Sarah and Will (or Sam) as they tell their stories of trust, secrets, and betrayal on the frontier in the old West. Their pioneer spirit helped to fuel the expansion into the Western territories of the United States. The two are historically on their separate journeys, yet they remain intimately connected.

In 1878, Will is on the run after killing a man in a barroom gunfight. He escapes the Texas Rangers by joining a cattle drive as a cook headed to Dodge City. He struggles with the dilemma of saving his life or attempting to return to his pregnant wife and five children. Just when he thinks he might be able to return home, he is confronted by a bounty hunter who captures him and plans to return him to Fort Worth, Texas to be hanged.

Although Will changes his name to Sam, he remains an irresponsible, lonely and untrustworthy man on the dodge from the law who abandons the women he loves. He ultimately seeks redemption and marries Sarah.

In 1911, Sarah, a pioneer woman, and a widow with five children, struggles to find the inner strength to overcome betrayal, loneliness, fears, and self-doubt. Her husband, Sam, thirty years her senior, died with a mysterious and defiant declaration, "I won't answer!." Despite poverty and a crippling illness, she draws on her pioneer spirit to hold her family together and return to Nebraska to be near her parents and siblings.

When Sarah returns to Nebraska she receives staggering news which complicates her efforts to support her children. She is shocked, angry and emotionally devastated. Since she is attempting to establish herself in the community as a teacher, she believes she must keep her secret even from her own family. Will Sarah find forgiveness in her heart and the resolve to accept her new life alone?




One Thousand White Women is the story of May Dodd and a colorful assembly of pioneer women who, under the auspices of the U.S. government, travel to the western prairies in 1875 to intermarry among the Cheyenne Indians. The covert and controversial "Brides for Indians" program, launched by the administration of Ulysses S. Grant, is intended to help assimilate the Indians into the white man's world. Toward that end May and her friends embark upon the adventure of their lifetime. Jim Fergus has so vividly depicted the American West that it is as if these diaries are a capsule in time.




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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, March 29, 2018

#CoverCrush: Phoenix Fire by S.D. Grimm

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 publishing 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. This appreciation for cover art is what inspired Cover Crush, a weekly post dedicated to those images that have captured my attention and/or piqued my interest. Enjoy!

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After spending her life in foster care, Ava has finally found home. But all it takes is a chance encounter with hot nerd Wyatt Wilcox for it to unravel.

Now, things are starting to change. First, the flashes of memories slowly creeping in. Memories of other lives, lives that Wyatt is somehow in. Then, the healing. Any cut? Gone.

But when Cade and Nick show up, claiming to be her brothers, things get even weirder. They tell her she’s a Phoenix, sent to protect the world from monsters—monsters she never knew existed. It’s a little hard to accept. Especially when they tell her she has to end the life of a Phoenix turned rogue, or Cade will die.

With Wyatt’s increasingly suspicious behavior, Ava’s determined to figure out what he’s hiding. Unless she can discover Wyatt’s secret in time and complete her Phoenix training, she’ll lose the life, love, and family she never thought she could have.
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Phoenix Fire by S.D. Grimm has a lot in common with my pick from last week when you look at the use of contrast and empty space, but the color palette is much warmer. The finished design gives out a very different vibe, but it definitely caught my eye.

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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
Stephanie at Layered Pages

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

#BookReview: The Prince of Mirrors by Alan Robert Clark

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Two young men with expectations. One predicted to succeed, the other to fail.

Prince Albert Victor is heir presumptive to the British throne at its late Victorian zenith. Handsome and good-hearted, he is regarded as disastrously inadequate to be the king. By contrast, Jem Stephen is a golden boy worshipped by all - a renowned intellectual and the Keeper and outstanding player of the famous Eton Wall Game. He is appointed as Prince Albert’s tutor at Cambridge - the relationship that will change both of their lives.

Set mostly in London and Norfolk from the 1860s to the 1890s, 'The Prince Of Mirrors' is, behind its splendid royal façade, a story about the sense of duty and selflessness of love, that have a power to show someone who they really are. Blending historical facts with plausible imagination, it is a moving portrait of Britain’s lost king, the great-uncle of Queen Elizabeth II. 
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Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆   |   Obtained from: Netgalley   |   Read: March 23, 2018
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I picked up Alan Robert Clark’s The Prince of Mirrors as a palate cleanser between Days of Fire: Bush and Cheney in the White House by Peter Baker and Eisenhower in War and Peace by Jean Edward Smith. The novel is a far cry from the heavy political dialogues that characterize my Presidential Reading Challenge and I gave the premise no more than a superficial glance before jumping into the story. This wasn’t a book I expected to get swept up in, but that is exactly what happened.

I created the graphic below for anyone having trouble placing Clark’s protagonist. Albert Victor, aka Eddy, is in orange. He was the grandson of Queen Victoria and great-uncle of Queen Elizabeth II.


Rumor and speculation tie Eddy to both the Cleveland Street scandal and the infamous Whitechapel murders, but unlike Alan Moore and Eddie Campbell, Clark downplays the sensational and crafts a penetrating fictional portrait of a man struggling to come into his own. At its heart, The Prince of Mirrors is a story of identity, the burden of expectation, and the challenges of living by stringent standards of duty, faith, and traditional morality.

Eddy’s journey of self-discovery is prompted in many ways by his tutor, James Kenneth Stephen. I don’t want to give too much away, but I loved how Clark framed this story. Trends in historic fiction don’t lend themselves to male-driven narratives and I adored indulging in social rhythms and perspectives that are so often ignored and disregarded by mainstream publishers.

I was equally enthralled by Clark’s fearless portrayal of bi-polar disorder. When people talk about diversity in historical fiction, the question usually centers on race, but the term is just as applicable to sexuality, gender, age, religion, nationality, and representation of disabilities and disorders. Kate Quinn featured a heroine with a stutter in The Alice Network, Marie Benedict’s lead has a club foot in The Other Einstein, and Karen Harper tackled epilepsy in The Royal Nanny, but such depictions are more exception than norm. I don’t mean to get on a soapbox here, but we need more fiction like this; more stories by authors who are not afraid of tearing down barriers and erasing social stigma through the creativity of their pens and keyboards.

Clark’s characterizations of Princess Hélène of Orléans, Queen Victoria, Edward VII, Alexandra of Denmark, and George V are worth mentioning, as is his command of language and prose. The novel is slow in terms of pacing, but I found it thematically thought-provoking and brilliantly imagined. Highly recommended.

The following does not factor in my review, but I feel it worth noting for readers who are sensitive to particular content: The Prince of Mirrors includes descriptions of same-sex intimacy.

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"If the common people felt this exclusion, they might have been comforted to know how eagerly those trapped in the carriages would have swapped place..."
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HISTORICAL FICTION BASED ON LESSER KNOWN ROYALS:

The Romanov Bride
★ ★ ★ ★ ★


The Fortune Hunter
★ ★   ☆

The Royal Nanny
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
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Monday, March 26, 2018

#CoverCliche: Cautious by Nature

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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At the heart of truth lies madness...

Two months before Hitler's rise to power, a beautiful young woman is found naked and near death in the woods outside Berlin. When she finally wakes from her coma, she can remember nothing, not even her name. The only clue to her identity is a handbill found nearby, advertising a public lecture by Albert Einstein: 'On the Present State of Quantum Theory'.

Psychiatrist Martin Kirsch takes the case, little suspecting that this will be his last. As he searches for the truth about 'the Einstien Girl', professional fascination turns to reckless love. His investigations lead him to a remote corner of Siberia via a psychiatric hospital in Zurich. There the inheritor of Einstein's genius - his youngest son, Eduard - is writing a book that will destroy his illustrious father and, in the process, change the world.

A beautiful American spy flees into the night. On her own, she must live by her wits to evade capture and make it to the safety of the Allied forces.

Lily Saint James grew up traveling the European continent, learning languages as she went. In 1938, her mother’s abrupt death brings her back home to Washington, D.C., and after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, Lily comes to the attention of the Office of Strategic Services (OSS). Her knowledge of German, French, and Italian makes her the perfect OSS Agent, and her quick thinking places her as a nanny in the household of an important German Army Colonel, where she is able to gather intelligence for the Allies. After her marketplace contact goes missing, she makes a late-night trip to her secondary contact only to find him under interrogation by the SS. When he commits suicide, she flees into the frigid winter night carrying false identification papers that are now dangerous and a mini film cartridge with vital strategic information. In order to survive, Lily must make it out of Germany, into the hands of Allied-controlled France, through a path fraught with peril. 






In the midst of the Second World War, and charged with taking vital equipment via the 9:45 train, Ena Dudley makes regular trips to Bletchley Park, until on one occasion she is robbed. When those she cares about are accused of being involved, she investigates, not knowing whom she can trust. While trying to clear her name, Ena falls in love.






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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. 


Friday, March 23, 2018

#BookReview: The Lost Love of a Soldier by Jane Lark

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The stunning prequel to Kindle bestseller The Illicit Love of a Courtesan!
Life is for grasping and living...

Naïve and innocent, Lady Ellen Pembroke falls for a dashing young army officer. Captain Paul Harding has such an easy, enchanting smile and his blue eyes glow; vibrancy and warmth emanating from him. She is in love.

In turn, the Captain finds his attention captured by the beautiful young daughter of the Duke of Pembroke at a house party in the summer. Finding Ellen is like finding treasure on the battle field. His sanity clings to her - something beautiful to remind him that not all in the world is ugly.

Ellen is someone to fight for and someone to survive for when he is inevitably called to arms in the battle of Waterloo...
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Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★   |   Obtained from: Netgalley   |   Read: March 14, 2018
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My comments on Jane Lark’s The Lost Love of a Soldier are closely linked to a conversation that runs through my reviews of Capturing the Earl’s Love and The Desperate Love of a Lord so if you’re joining me mid-thought, it might be a good idea to click over and start from the beginning.

My ARC of The Lost Love of a Soldier has been on my kindle since 2014 which is why I’d like to start my review with an apology to both Jane Lark and Harper Impulse. For those keeping track, this makes me both a penny pincher and a procrastinator, both of which are descriptors I chose to own. Add single-mom who is gainfully employed full-time while going to school and you probably understand my reasons, but that’s neither here nor there.

I read the description of The Illicit Love of a Courtesan before realizing Amazon ordered the books by the date of publication. This meant that chronologically the series began with The Lost Love of a Soldier which was great as it was the only novel I had access to. That said, having understood the premise of what was effectively book two, destroyed any and all hope for an HEA in book one. I may be starting at the beginning, but this story was going to get dark.

Other readers might have been upset by this, but I was actually intrigued. I’d adored Lark’s disregard for genre tropes in both Capturing the Earl’s Love and The Desperate Love of a Lord. If anything, my inadvertent discovery proved my enthusiasm was well-placed so I jumped in with every expectation that Lark would deliver something extraordinary.

I came up for air two-hundred and sixty-three pages later, emotionally crippled, but thoroughly satisfied by the story. The plot is at moments predictable and I will cop to vividly flashing on the performances of Reese Witherspoon, Romola Garai, and Jonathan Rhys Meyers during my reading, but I thoroughly enjoyed this narrative and how Lark used the Battle of Waterloo to bring context and drama to the experiences of her cast.

I think it goes without saying that I’ll be seeking out the rest of the Marlow Intrigues as soon as possible. Highly recommended. 

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"Finding Ellen had been like finding treasure on the battle torn fields in his head. His sanity clung to her, something beautiful to remind him that everything was not ugly. She was someone to fight for. Someone to survive for..."
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#BookReview: The Desperate Love of a Lord by Jane Lark

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From Kindle bestselling Historical romance author, Jane Lark, comes a brand new FREE novella to accompany her breathtakingly beautiful Regency series.

Fiercely independent, Lady Violet Rimes, the merry widow, has played the town, dangling men from leashes like a pack of adoring hounds, always the one in control. She has never let a man toy with her.

An idle, attractive rake, Lord Geoffrey Sparks has had little to do other than enjoy life. He has let Violet play her games for months without complaint, because he likes her company—and admittedly her bed. But in recent months he's found himself gravitating towards her more and more. Things have changed between them. He likes her for who she is and not simply the notorious widow. He thought his feelings were returned, but . . . Why then has she suddenly vanished from town without a word?

A couple of months ago, she'd complained about his friend being a heartbreaker, but now Violet is breaking his heart...
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Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆   |   Obtained from: Personal Kindle Library   |   Read: March 12, 2018
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My comments on Jane Lark’s The Desperate Love of a Lord are closing linked to a conversation I began in my review of Capturing the Earl’s Love so if you’re joining me mid-thought, it might be a good idea to click over and start from the beginning.

Having my mind blown by an author isn’t something I’m used to so when it happens, I take notice. This fact likely explains the two second gap between my first and second experiences with Jane Lark’s work. I knew nothing about the Marlow Intrigues series and I don’t consider myself and fan of the genre, but I’d liked what I’d seen and wasn’t getting caught up on the details.

Like Capturing the Earl’s Love, The Desperate Love of a Lord is short. It clocks in at a hundred and eight pages, so character development is a little thin. That said, the novella proved Lark isn’t a one trick pony. Both hero and heroine are atypical in their make-up, but I also adored the role-reversal on which the story was built. Lark was keeping me on my toes and I was more than happy to enjoy the ride.

That ride, however, was short-lived. At least that’s what I thought when I looked at Amazon and realized none of Lark’s other titles were available for free and having already exhausted my monthly book allowance on print editions of Elizabeth Chadwick’s Templar Silks and Joan Renner’s The First with the Latest!, I figured I’d be waiting till April to again indulge in Lark’s delightful brand of storytelling. That is until I ran a search on my kindle and discovered a forgotten ARC of The Lost Love of a Soldier

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"He’d probably had too much to drink, but it was the brandy which had given him the courage to come and make a spectacle of himself. He felt like such a bloody fool, falling for her so heavily if she had just been playing games."
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