Important Announcement: We’re Now Located at Literaryetc.com!

newsite1
Well…we have a .com! It was an impulsive buy, but something I’ve been wanting to do and wasn’t sure when it was going to happen (either at the end of the 6 month blog anniversary in June or at the end of the year). You have much more control over a wordpress.org blog than a wordpress.com one. Then I saw A Bookish Heart make a post about her new address and how awesome the new host was in helping her move that I couldn’t resist. On top of that they were having a 30% discount and that pretty much made me bite the bullet.

Adam from Safe Shark Hosting is AMAZING! He set up wordpress and transferred the blog over. Thank you doesn’t seem enough for his support. I appreciate immensely.

I paid for the domain mapping and right now you can still access the blog via the wp.com address, but please update your bookmarks to: literaryetc.com. We’re in the process of having subscribers (those via email) moved automatically, but am waiting for WP.com staff to do so.

RomCon Tax Day Relief Blog Hop & Giveaway

tax_day_blog_hop
We’re happy to be part of RomCon’s Tax Day Relief Blog Hop! I’m hoping to attend this year’s Rom Con, but still not sure. In the meantime let’s do a giveaway! Since it’s a “Tempting” month, I’m offering one lucky winner an ebook copy of Jessica Lemmon’s Tempting the Billionaire either from Amazon or Barnes and Noble. To enter simply a comment below with your preferred format. If you prefer a paperback copy, check out the interview with Jessica for a chance to win 1 of 2 copies (US only).

tempting1Synopsis:
Crickitt Day needs a job . . . any job. After her husband walks out on her, she’s determined to re-build her life and establish a new career. When swoon-worthy billionaire Shane August hires her as his assistant, she jumps at the chance to prove herself. Despite her growing attraction to her boss, she vows to keep things strictly professional. No flirting. No kissing. Definitely no falling in love…

Shane August is all business, all the time. He’s a self-made man who’s poured his heart and soul into his company, and he’d never allow himself to get involved with an employee. Then he hires sweet, sexy Crickitt-and he can’t keep his mind or his hands off her. But no matter how much he wants Crickitt, Shane fears that painful secrets from his past will always come between them. With fate working against them, can these two lonely hearts learn that sometimes mixing business with pleasure is the perfect merger?


Giveaway details:
1 ebook of Jessica Lemmon’s Tempting the Billionaire gifted from Amazon or Barnes & Noble. Contest ends Wednesday April 17th at 3 pm EST.

Don’t forget to check out the other participants. There are 41 blogs participating and that means more giveaway options for you! PLUS comment here and win one of twenty-five 50% off coupons to RomCon® 2013!

Book Review: Amanda Quick’s The Mystery Woman

mysterywomanTitle: The Mystery Woman
Author: Amanda Quick
Genre: Historical Romance
Series: Yes / Book 2
Rating: 4 out of 5
My Copy: Advance Reader Copy via LibraryThing’s Early Reviewers Program

I’m a fan of Amanda Quick (aka Jayne Ann Krentz) and auto-buy her books. I admit I lost interest in her Arcane series once we reached the conclusion of how Jones & Jones agency came together and she started expanding the Arcane series to include outside associates. I wanted to prep for this review by reading the last 3 books I missed, but decided it would be best to read from a new reader’s perspective without any previous knowledge as most new readers.

Amanda Quick’s The Mystery Woman is the second book in her Ladies of Lantern Street series. If you haven’t read the first book, Crystal Gardens, it’s not necessary to do so. Quick does a good job giving you an overview of what exactly the agency Flint & Marsh specializes in and a brief history of how it was established.

On the night her mentor, Roland Fleming, is found murdered, Beatrice Lockwood is forced to change her identity to hide from the killer. She finds employment at Flint & Marsh, a private agency that specializes in discreet inquiries. Undercover as a paid companion, Beatrice meets Joshua Gage, former messenger to the mysterious Mr. Smith, and helps her foil a kidnapping attempt on her employer. Joshua informs Beatrice that he has been looking for her and needs her assistance in finding his sister’s blackmailer. Little do they know, someone with a more sinister plan is also looking for Beatrice. Will they be able to uncover the identity of the blackmailer or will Beatrice become the killer’s next victim?

The writing is very typical Quick especially with the use of paranormal elements she’s been fond of using these past couple of years. It doesn’t distract a reader and it goes hand in hand with the time period of late Victorian England. The paranormal became popular during the era and there was a demand for people who had the ability to conjure spirits or speak with the dead. It makes sense that she would have a character with some type of extrasensory ability. In this case, Beatrice is a clairvoyant and Ronald Fleming recognized her talent. Joshua doesn’t believe in the paranormal and several times Beatrice reminds him how his intuition has been spot on and therefore is an extension of the psychic realm. Quick once again does thorough research and it shines throughout The Mystery Woman. She incorporates aspects of Egyptology in her plot and again it makes sense, since the Victorians were obsessed with Egypt. As the use of electricity emerged in the 19th century, so did the question of raising the dead. Quick takes advantage of this experimentation and incorporates into the plot. I won’t say exactly what it is, but it goes hand in hand with Egyptian mythology and paranormal ability.

In terms of characterization, one thing that stood out immediately is how much Joshua resembles a previous Quick character. Joshua reminded me of a lot of Tobias March (from the Lake/March series) and both share the same characteristics in terms of an injured leg and having a nephew under his wing. What I really like about Quick is that she gives us strong heroines who aren’t afraid to make a life for themselves. These are no shrinking violets and The Mystery Woman reminded me once again why I’m a fan of Amanda Quick. She also makes you think about the possibilities of science. The whole idea of reviving someone who is dead will leave most readers fascinated and yet horrified. I’m still thinking about it a few weeks later.

If you’re a fan of historical romance mixed with a bit of mystery, I recommend Amanda Quick’s The Mystery Woman. Just be advised, there a few plot holes regarding the mystery, but nothing you’ll lose sleep over.

Film Friday: Before Sunset

I’m happy to welcome Arlinda to Literary, etc! She’s guest blogging today and she’s here to review her favorite film, Before Sunset.


beforesunsetIt all started with a random conversation with a complete stranger on a train. Nine years later they are reunited by the book Jesse wrote about his night with Celine. Upon the success of his novel, Jesse embarks on a promotional tour in Europe with the last stop in Paris. It is at the infamous Shakespeare and Company bookstore where he at long last runs into Celine. She walks in. She’s listening to him ramble on about a book he wants to write and then he sees her. For a moment you can feel the tension and the connection and the realization that this is the person they’ve both been waiting for. This movie takes us on a physical and emotional journey seeking to understand and “capture what it means to really meet somebody [and] make that connection.” Throughout the film Celine and Jesse maintain a playful yet serious conversation. Their conversation is engaging and you experience a genuine sense of intimacy–breaking down their life contemplation to the smallest details. Their discussions range from life, politics, sex, love, romantic idealism, and relationships. Yet at the root of their issues they seek validation from one another. They want to know everything they experienced that one night meant as much to the other as it did to them. The highlight if the film for me is when each character breaks down in the car. There’s so much pent up frustration and hurt and an animosity for this life they could have had together. All the words they needed to vocalize are being said; there was more connecting between these two than a one night stand. I was a real connection and a powerful one.

This entire movie takes the viewer on a walk around Paris. Its highly intimate and personal.

Below are a couple of my favorite clips:


This clip is when Celine breaks down


This clip is when Jesse breaks down and Celine reaches out to touch him and pulls away

This final clip is at the end of the film and Celine sings a song at Jesse’s request

After she finishes she turns up Nina Simone’s Song Just In Time, she’s dancing around mimicking Nina Simone and says to Jesse “Baby, you’re going to miss that plane.” And he smiles and says “I know.”

Feature & Follow #7

8474595901_873f4993f4 Feature and Follow Friday is a weekly blog hop hosted by Parajunkee & Alison Can Read. It’s a fun way to find other blogs and meet new bloggers.

You can follow Lit, etc via Twitter, Facebook, Networked Blogs, Bloglovin, or subscribe to the blog via email. Please let me know if you’re a new follower and I’ll follow back.


Q: We are about to see a lot of posts & tweets about reader conventions, RT, BEA, ALA and many more are starting soon. Which one would you love to attend? Where and why?

Oooh I wish I was attending BEA! I’m green with envy for those who are, but will live vicariously through their posts and updates. Bouchercon sounds like a great event-mystery writers are present and that means the possibility of meeting Chelsea Cain or Charles Finch. I also wish I could attend RT and RWA because I want to meet Elizabeth Hoyt and Sherry Thomas as well as Jessica Lemmon. Alas not going to those this year, but I am *hoping* to attend Rom Con (key word being: hoping). I’m in the midst of trying to figure out logistics because I’ll be in the Denver area in early June and trying to see how cost effective I can make a second trip in what would be a few weeks apart from my first visit.

ETA: I should note that I am attending the Southwest Book Fiesta being held in Albuquerque, Mother’s Day weekend. So far from the author list, I only recognize one author, but hey it’s a local event.

What about you? Any reader conventions you’d like to attend or attending?

Spotlight: The Tale of the Taconic Mountains

tac Title: The Tale of the Taconic Mountains
Author: Mike Romeling
Genre: Suspense / Occult

Synopsis:
Everyone had an agenda and it just seemed like coincidence—and of little consequence—that they happened to end up in the small town of Cedar Falls nestled at the base of Bakers Mountain, deep in the ancient Taconic Mountain range. Completely involved, even obsessed, with their own pursuits, it was hardly surprising the visitors would be unaware of older agendas both within the dying town and up in the forests and ridges of the mountain looming above.

There was the discontented novelist fleeing his job and his family, hoping to regain his mojo with a young girlfriend and a new book; a mother in search of her long-estranged daughter, but finding first an unlikely romance with the proprietor who loved his failing bowling establishment like a child—at least when he wasn’t making plans to burn it down for the insurance; a soap opera queen who thought she was stopping by for a simple PR gig for the PETA folks when the town was plagued by thousands of bats in search of a new home. Instead found herself revisiting Gretchen Foley, the frightened disturbed child she had been before emerging as the famous Amber Steele.

There were the two Native American friends who came to climb the mountain in search of the fabled quartz Spirit Stones of their Mohican ancestors, the young man who wanted to retrace the steps of his grandfather who once lived along the river that flowed through town. But instead he would come to grief and need to be carried down the mountain by the mysterious and seemingly ageless Boudine sisters who had led secluded lives high on the mountain as long as anyone could remember. Few knew where these strange women had their cabin, but the dying Randle Marsh did, and it was said that he visited the sisters often; was he trying to live on endlessly as dark rumors suggested the sisters did? The rustic Wayne Funt knew where they lived too, but he would leave them strictly alone until he and his dog Duke played a major role in the mayhem that broke out during the raging Christmas snowstorm that buried the town and the mountain.

This collision of clashing agendas was presided over by a sheriff who did the best he could to navigate a safe landing for as many as he could who shared the wild ride on this memorable, often frightening year. And if the result could often be laced with humor and absurdity, it was always tempered—sometimes tragically—with what has always been true: sometimes, deep in the heart of the New England mountains, there are things going on, things both lighter than air and darker than starless night.

mikeAbout Mike
Mike is a freelance writer and singer-songwriter from upstate New York. His first novel “Tale of the Taconic Mountains” was released in 2012. He lives−and often rambles through−the very mountains where the novel is placed. But since writing it, he takes care to return home before scary darkness falls.

Connect with Mike
Facebook Page
Goodreads: Author Page

Book Review: Digger Cartwright’s The House of Dark Shadows

darkshadowTitle: The House of Dark Shadows
Author: Digger Cartwright
Genre: Psychological Thriller
Rating: 5 out of 5
My Copy: Complimentary copy won via LibraryThing

I’m a big fan of psychological thrillers because nothing turns out the way you thought it would. Digger Cartwright does a phenomenal job with The House of Dark Shadows. I thought I had everything figured out due to the clues he gave us along the way, but I was blown off course. The ending isn’t exactly what you expect nor is it your typical Hollywood ending, but it fits.

Alex Rommel has everything a bachelor could ask for. He’s successful at his job and quite the ladies man, but he’s missing the love of his life. Years ago Shannon left him and he’s been haunted with memories of her and desperately searches for her. He runs into an old university friend, Brad, at a café and Brad mentions how he’s met the love of his life. He introduces Lisa to Alex and when Alex inquires how they met, Brad tells him the internet. Alex is skeptical because you never know who is behind the screen, but needless to say he’s intrigued. As he prepares to leave the café he overhears Brad tell Lisa about the rumors surrounding Alex, he killed an ex-girlfriend; however, both of them disregard the rumors. Later that evening, Alex signs up for internet dating and meets the perfect woman, Hope. Little does he know he’s about to step into a tangled world of deception and the person he thought he could trust the most turns out to be his biggest enemy.

In terms of character development, it’s strong and the writing is engaging. Cartwright has a business background and he does a great job taking elements from the business world and incorporating them into the narrative. At times it was difficult to sympathize with Alex because he’s particular in his ways and yet when he first receives that phone call from Hope’s mother you can’t help but want to yell “run from the crazy Alex!” He has a trusted mentor, Thomas, but for the most part he was too closed off and only allowed a selected few into his inner circle of trust and ultimately this is where Alex went wrong. Alex also suffers from nightmares and in many ways foreshadows a lot of what happens to Alex and shows us what happened to Shannon. It’s Alex who refuses to look into it and it’s proof he’s a man running from his own demons.

In a day and age where you can virtually find any information about a person, I’m surprised Alex didn’t take the initiative to further look into Hope’s background. If the house on the street is the only one that doesn’t look right, search the house address and find out what you can. I remind myself had Alex done this, we wouldn’t have a story. I had all sorts of theories regarding Hope. At one point Alex is told Shannon was beaten to the point where she needed reconstructive surgery and a piece of me held out hope (no pun intended) that it was Hope. I’m not saying anymore about the plot, but I loved it.

There are some unanswered questions, but I just file them away as answered since the ending I believe confirms Alex’s suspicion when Thomas tells him, “you should have given them what they wanted.” Thomas calls this a mind-fuck when Alex asks him what everything around him is at that moment (I’m not saying what it is for fear of spoilers) and oh this book was definitely one.

If you’re a fan of psychological thrillers or looking to try a new genre, I highly recommend The House of Dark Shadows. I’ve never read Digger Cartwright before and I’m looking forward to reading more of his work.

Spotlight: The River of No Return

river Title: The River of No Return
Author: Bee Ridgway
Genre: Historical Fiction / Time Travel (Science Fiction)
Publication Date: April 23, 2013
Publisher: Dutton Adult

Synopsis:
“You are now a member of the Guild. There is no return.” Two hundred years after he was about to die on a Napoleonic battlefield, Nick Falcott, soldier and aristocrat, wakes up in a hospital bed in modern London. The Guild, an entity that controls time travel, showers him with life’s advantages. But Nick yearns for home and for one brown-eyed girl, lost now down the centuries. Then the Guild asks him to break its own rule. It needs Nick to go back to 1815 to fight the Guild’s enemies and to find something called the Talisman.

In 1815, Julia Percy mourns the death of her beloved grandfather, an earl who could play with time. On his deathbed he whispers in her ear: “Pretend!” Pretend what? When Nick returns home as if from the dead, older than he should be and battle scarred, Julia begins to suspect that her very life depends upon the secrets Grandfather never told her. Soon enough Julia and Nick are caught up in an adventure that stretches up and down the river of time. As their knowledge of the Guild and their feelings for each other grow, the fate of the future itself is hanging in the balance.

breeAbout Bee
I was raised in Massachusetts, then drifted around from here to there until I finally came to rest in Philadelphia. I teach American literature at Bryn Mawr College, and for fun I read, write, read, cook, read, walk all over my beautiful and dirty city, read . . . THE RIVER OF NO RETURN is my first novel, and the experience of writing it was so overwhelmingly fun that I’m roaring ahead on the sequel.

Connect with Bee
Official Website
Twitter: BeeRidgway
Facebook: Page
Goodreads: Author Page

Book Review: Lauren Willig’s The Ashford Affair

ashfordTitle: The Ashford Affair
Author: Lauren Willig
Genre: Historical Fiction
Series: No
Rating: 5 out of 5
My Copy: Advance Reader Copy courtesy of St. Martin’s Press

If you’re familiar with Lauren Willig’s books, then you know she often combines narratives from the past with the present. The Ashford Affair isn’t any different and incorporates the narratives of both Clementine (in the present) and Addie’s (the past). This is Addie’s story, but in many ways, it’s also Clementine’s. Clementine is on journey to realize what truly matters in life.

Clementine Evans arrives late to her grandmother’s birthday celebration and is surprised when her grandmother calls her Bea. She asks her mother about Bea, but doesn’t get a direct answer. In fact, Clementine asks around and slowly a family secret is unearthed. Bea was a cousin of Granny Addie and through a series of flashbacks we’re told Addie’s story. Addie comes to live with the Earl of Ashford following the death of her parents. On her first night she’s befriended by one of the Earl’s daughters, Beatrice; Bea takes Addie under her wing and both become fast friends. As the narrative progresses, we see Addie grow up and on the night of the Earl’s eldest daughter’s presentation to society, Bea and Addie decide to view the ball in progress. Unfortunately, Bea brings along a pet mouse and accidentally lets go of it and Addie afraid it will be trampled to death goes to rescue Binky. Lucky for Binky she’s saved by a young man and Addie is instantly smitten. The next day, they run into each other and he introduces himself as Fredrick. Addie never forgets him and when she runs into him several years later she’s surprised and happy he remembers her. Fredrick and Addie spend time together attending a series of lectures and musical concerts and she introduces him to Bea. Addie is heartbroken when Frederick marries Bea and she goes on with her life as best she can. Five years later, she’s asked to visit to Kenya and putting her feelings aside for Fredrick she decides to visit. The Ashford Affair is a beautiful story about a love between two people and the heartache that comes with having to live with one’s mistakes.

In terms of characterization, we have rich strong characters, but admit I wish we had more of Fredrick’s perspective. Especially when he’s trying to come to terms with what to do with Addie before he marries Bea. I would have loved to have read something about his thoughts of Addie in Kenya with him and Bea or what he was thinking when her visit was announced. Bea comes off as a spoiled bitch. I realize she’s a woman trapped in a world that is changing around her and she’s unsure of how to proceed. The year she was presented to society, she was the débutante of the year and highly sought after. As a daughter of an earl, she was brought up with the expectation of marrying into the aristocracy and not having to make her own way. I keep thinking about Bea and as much as I want to judge her and hate for what she ends up doing, I can’t because in the end, she made the ultimate sacrifice. Fredrick once accused her of being jealous of Addie and I have to agree with his assessment, but for Bea, the jealously wasn’t that Fredrick was interested in Addie. It was the fact Addie was going to leave her and have a happy life, while Bea remained miserable. As for our present day characters, it’s interesting how much Anna resembled Bea in her personality and her life choices; whereas Marjorie took after Addie. Clementine is a hybrid of the both women; having Bea’s features and Addie’s drive for success.

Fans of historical fiction are in for a real treat as Willig does a great job incorporating life in England before the First World War to how everyone adapts to the changing world afterwards. We go from soirees to the heat in Kenya. Willig gives us rich descriptions and when Addie complains of the heat and her sweat stained dress, you can vividly picture it. The Ashford Affair is well written and the only real complaint I have is that, it ended way too quickly. Then again I read this in less than two days. As for the mystery surrounding the family secret, I do wish Willig would have focused on a few key scenes. That being the photographs Clementine finds, but in the end Addie and Bea are allowed to keep their secrets. It’s because of that, I’ll let the past stay shrouded in mystery.

If you only read a few books a year, this is one book you have to read. If you’re looking into trying a new genre or are in a reading funk, pick up The Ashford Affair. To say I loved it is an understatement because I more than loved it. It’s a beautiful story and I’m not ashamed to say I broke down into tears more than once. This is one book I’ll be rereading more than once.

Hunt’s The Haunted Manor

William Holman Hunt was a founding member of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood. Hunt painted this 1849 in Wimbledon Park. See the haystack and the lights in the house? Those were added later and thus are different from the somber tones in the rest of the painting. Your thoughts?

William Holman Hunt (1827-1910) – The Haunted Manor
Oil on board