Saturday, June 27, 2015

Shelf Candy Saturday #154: Wise Child, by Monica Furlong

Welcome to Shelf Candy Saturday!

This is my weekly feature
showcasing beautiful covers!
It also provides information, if available,
on their very talented creators!

For more information
about Shelf Candy Saturday,
simply go HERE.

Here's my choice for this week!

Wise Child
Monica Furlong
Hardcover, 240 pages
Random House Books for Young Readers
February 24, 2004
Fantasy, Historical Fiction, 
Young Adult Fiction

My Thoughts About This Cover

This is such an absolutely perfect cover! It's bold, simple, and detailed, all at the same time. The larger shapes are offset by the details -- the beautifully done flowers held by the woman, the intricate ornamentation around the sleeves and neckline of the woman's cloak, the Celtic designs (I wonder if they're tiles) on the wall behind the woman and little girl, as well as the strange flowers with the long stalks, to the left and right of the composition. The bowl, with a pestle inside, is also very nicely detailed. The little girl is holding what seems to be a small clay or ceramic face in her hands. This, too, is very well done. 

The woman, whom I presume to be Juniper, one of the book's main characters, is staring out at the viewer with a very enigmatic look. It's also a defiant one. It's as if she's daring you to take the child away from her. This is further emphasized by the protective hand she lays on the little girl's left shoulder.

The little girl, too, has an enigmatic look on her face, but she's staring at something -- or someone -- off to her left.

The warm earth tones of the composition are also perfect, since Juniper is a sorceress. She's obviously very knowledgeable about herbs.

The whole composition, as well as how Juniper is staring at the viewer, also remind me of Byzantine art. People depicted in Byzantine icons and mosaics stare out at the viewer in much the same way.Also, their clothes are richly ornamented, and the compositions are bold and simplified. The people depicted are also rendered in a stylized manner, instead of realistically. I love this style because of all these characteristics!

Mosaic from the church of Hagios Demetrios
late 7th or early 8th century

I also love that font!  And its color complements those earth tones. The same font is used for the author's name, but the artist compressed it in the title.

I didn't need to check the Amazon reader to find out who the brilliant creators of this beautiful cover were: Leo and Diane Dillon, two of my favorite cover artists! Their covers are always beautiful! They also reflect several influences, especially the Byzantine one, although they have their own inimitable style.


Online Links

What do you think of this 
week's cover?
Please leave a comment 
and let me know!

Friday, June 26, 2015

Feature & Follow Friday #4: Required Book That You Actually Loved

Welcome to Feature & Follow Friday!!

This weekly hop is hosted by  
Rachel @ Parajunkee's View, and 
Alison @ Alison Can Read!!

You can find the rules at the links above.
Join in the fun and make new blogging friends!

Every week, 1 or 2 new blogs 
are featured!

Today's Featured Blogs!!

Hazy Reads
The Boundless Booklist

Here is this week's question:

Is there a book that you were
required to read in
school that you actually loved?

Contributed by

Natalie Hearts Books

I was required to read several literary classics in high school. Among them were Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen, Wuthering Heights, by Emily Brontë, The Catcher In The Rye, by J.D. Salinger, Jane Eyre, by Charlotte  Brontë, and Billy Budd, by Herman Melville. But only one really stands out as my favorite. That book is most definitely Jane Eyre.

I loved everything about this book! Jane, the main female character, is a very strong-willed young woman. She's had to make her own way in the world, for the most part. Orphaned as a baby, she is then 'raised' by a very cruel aunt until the age of 10, when she is sent to a charity school for orphans. She leaves the school at 18, and is hired as the governess (nanny/tutor) to a little girl at the mysterious mansion known as Thornfield Hall.

What happens to Jane at the mansion is one of the great stories of classic literary fiction. This novel is not only a coming-of-age tale, but also a passionate love story, full of drama, mystery, and the clash of wills between Jane and her employer, Edward Rochester. Their relationship, though stormy, is also beautiful and romantic. 

Jane is the narrator, so we get to know her personality very well. She is a feminist, which means that the author was well ahead of her time in writing this book.

Jane Eyre is also a great Gothic novel, full of brooding tension and symbolism. Brontë handles the suspense masterfully, as well, and the prose style is beautiful and lyrical.

We were assigned to do book reports on this novel  in high school, and I thoroughly enjoyed doing so! 

I love this book so much that I hosted a read-along, together with my blogger friend Brian @ Babbling Books, from September to November of last year. You can access the first post of the read-along HERE. My review can be found HERE

If any of you out there decide to read this great novel, you won't regret it!  I loved it from the very first time I read it.

 What book did you enjoy reading
in school, even though it
was required reading?

Next Week's Question

What is the first book you
remember reading?

Contributed by
Bookish Findings

These are my follow preferences.
The links are in my sidebar.

 Be sure to visit the rest of the
participating blogs!!


Friday Finds #2: June 26

Welcome to Friday Finds!!

This meme is hosted by Jenn @ A Daily Rhythm, and features books added to our TBR lists. The books don't necessarily have to be purchased. Nor do they have to be recent releases, either.

If you'd like to participate, just go over to Jenn's blog for the rules!

Here's my list for this week!

I already have the first book in this series, Hemlock,
on my Goodreads TBR, so I went ahead and 
added this one. Next I will be adding
book 3, Willowgrove!

I find this book to be very unique and fascinating! Yes, it's about angels, but the author seems
to have her own take on the subject.
And the cover is SO GORGEOUS!!

I never get tired of reading about 
The Twilight Saga!
There are several great books out there
that analyze the series, and this
one looks GREAT!!

Well, first of all, this cover is STUNNING.
I not only love its beautiful design, but
I'm also very anxious to dive into this plot!
And that title clinches the deal!

Here's another BEAUTIFUL cover! It's a 
Steampunk novel, too, which is, of course, 
a HUGE plus! I've been wanting
to read one of those!

I know some people will think I'm  looney tunes 
with this But heck, this is not
any crazier than reading about vamps
and werewolves. Ever since Star Trek
and ET, I've been fascinated by 
this topic!

Here's another Steampunk goodie, with another STUNNING cover!! And yes, folks, the 
female hero is definitely kick-butt!  Plus
I like her fashionista outfit!

Speaking of strong female heroes, this cover
speaks for itself! That dragon had better
watch out! I need to know what 
happens in this one!

What books have you added 
to your TBR list?
Leave your link in the 
comments, and I'll 
go check out your finds!

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Shelf Candy Saturday #153: The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender, by Leslye Walton

Welcome to Shelf Candy Saturday!

This is my weekly feature
showcasing beautiful covers!
It also provides information, if available,
on their very talented creators!

For more information
about Shelf Candy Saturday,
simply go HERE.

Here's my choice for this week!

The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows
of Ava Lavender
Leslye Walton
Hardcover, 301 pages
Candlewick Press
April 9, 2014
Fantasy, Historical Fiction, 
Paranormal Romance, Young Adult Fiction

My Thoughts About This Cover

I am absolutely ecstatic about this cover! I have seen it on several blogs, where it's garnering praise for its simple beauty!

Well, when I saw the image above, it was love at first sight, and I promptly added the book to my Goodreads TBR! 

The first thing that struck me was the apparent simplicity of the design, as well as that incredibly gorgeous shade of blue-green! When I enlarged the image, I was enchanted by the meticulous details in that one solitary feather. These details give the cover a distinctly magical feel, and have a slight Art Nouveau influence, I think. Furthermore, I love that the title is 'written' right on top of the feather, in a lovely, stylized script, with no capital letters. Sheer brilliance! A very important detail, too, is that the letters are 'outlined' by the background, so they really stand out, instead of getting lost in the feather.

Another lovely aspect of the design is that the background color is darker around the edges of the cover, and the feather's color is a beautiful shade of peach that not only makes the feather stand out, but also complements the background color perfectly!

Now I can't wait to add this book to my collection! (Woe is me.....I hope I don't run out of space again....) Of course, the plot is awesome, as well, and I'm so very glad that this stunning image has pulled me in!

I'm very sad to say that I was unable to get any information on the cover artist..... Checking out the Amazon reader was no help at all, as it's not available for this book. Needless to say, I'm extremely disappointed, as this cover is an absolute gem. I will only be able to find out the artist's name when I actually purchase this book....

What do you think of this 
week's cover?
Please leave a comment 
and let me know!

Friday, June 19, 2015

To Ride A White Horse, by Pamela Ford: Book Tour Review & Giveaway!!

To Ride A White Horse
Pamela Ford
Trade Paperback, 363 pages
Pamela Ford, Publisher
Historical Fiction, Romance

Your feet will bring you to where your heart is.

Set against the backdrop of 1840s Ireland and America, To Ride a White Horse is an epic historical saga of hope, loyalty, the strength of the human spirit, and the power of love.

With Ireland ravaged by famine, and England unsympathetic to its plight, Kathleen Deacey, a spirited and strong-willed young Irish woman, faces a devastating choice—leave her country to find work, or risk dying there. Despising the English for refusing to help Ireland, she sets sail for Canada, determined to save her family and find her missing fiancé.

But her voyage doesn't go as planned, and she ends up in America, forced to accept the help of an English whaling captain, Jack Montgomery, to survive. As Jack helps her search for her fiancé and fight to save her family and country, she must make an impossible choice—remain loyal to Ireland or follow her heart.

With insight and compassion, award-winning author Pamela Ford captures the anguish of a devastating period in Irish history, illuminates the resilience of the human spirit, and celebrates the strength of love. To Ride a White Horse is a deeply-moving novel that wraps itself around the heart and doesn't let go.


Praise for To Ride A White Horse

 "A sweeping historical love story that hits all the marks." (Publishers Weekly starred review)

"Overwhelming! Six stars! What a stunning story!
Pamela Ford's book.....made me go through
a series of intense emotions.... It's a 
breathtaking story of love, hope, and courage!"
(Goodreads First Reads Giveaway winner)

"A splendid historical romance with characters
to cheer." (Fresh Fiction)


Romance Fiction
2015 IPPY Awards 


Amazon US/Amazon UK
Amazon CA
Barnes & Noble
The Book Depository

I received a complimentary paperback 
copy of this novel from the author, 
in exchange for an honest 
review, and I have been very honestly 
enthusiastic about it!

One of the most important aspects of a novel, for me, is the characters. When I first discovered To Ride A White Horse, I was immediately attracted to its unusual, beautiful cover. However, what truly caught and held my interest was the expertly drawn characters that not only intrigued me, but, long before the end of the novel, had totally stolen my heart. And, of course, Ireland itself is a character in this book, too, as the author lovingly describes its rolling green hills, full of mysterious faeries....

The plot, with its hints of Irish mythology, also drew me in. There were unexpected twists in the story, and well-placed, too. At no point did I feel that they were forced. In fact, events followed smoothly one upon another. Also, the characters, especially Kathleen, faced believable challenges.

The writing is also superb, as Ford deftly describes not only the beauty of the land, but of the people themselves -- people with strong family ties, bold courage, and the tenacity to keep on striving to survive, in the midst of incredibly terrible circumstances -- the Irish potato famine of 1846. In fact, the whole novel is a paean to the Irish spirit!

Here's a great example of Ford's lush prose, from a short vignette right before the novel's prologue: "Holding her granddaughter close to her chest, she pointed to the great white swells galloping across the sea, and in hushed tones told the young girl of the white horses of the Tuatha de Danann, the Irish gods, traveling between the faerie and the mortal worlds."

Although this is not a supernatural or fantasy story, Kathleen frequently refers to the faeries, whom she considers to be very real. She also frequently quotes her mother, who has always taught her children several very beautiful Irish proverbs. These things make this tale very appealing for those who, like me, are fans of mythology and fantasy. 

Kathleen Deacey is such a memorable character! The author brings her vividly to life. Readers come to know her thoroughly as the novel progresses; her determination and strength of character, love for her family, and innate compassion are so beautifully depicted! I also loved her comical references to "the Good People", and it didn't strike me as odd that she was at the same time a good Catholic girl. 

In spite of the obstacles Kathleen encounters, she somehow retains her optimism, simply refusing to give up. This is very obvious in her insistence that Jack Montgomery, the whaling ship captain she meets under the most unusual circumstances, take her to America as soon as possible, so she can  get work and send money to her starving family, back in Ireland. It's also evident in her relentless search for her missing betrothed, Danny O'Sheehan.

As for Jack, he's a wonderful character in his own right, and thus, a perfect match for Kathleen, even though she initially dislikes him, simply for being English. That's understandable, although not admirable; the English have turned their backs on the plight of the Irish people, and many of them (Jack's grandfather is an example) unfairly label the Irish as "lazy and irresponsible".

At first, I did have some trouble reconciling Jack's warm, kind personality with his occupation. I abhor the slaughter of whales, and noticed that the author obviously thought it was hellish work, from her metaphorical descriptions. There was a very poignant scene in which a mother whale and her calf were killed. This scene made me tear up. I was thus relieved to discover that Jack never liked whaling to begin with, and was planning to switch to something else in the near future.

This man is as wonderful a character as Kathleen! In addition to being a kind, compassionate person, he's an extremely attractive, very masculine guy, with not an ounce of egotistical vanity in him, either. Even better, when he falls hard for Kathleen, it's not only because he finds her attractive, but also because he admires her irrepressible spirit, and is touched by her own kindness. Furthermore, he never treats her in a condescending manner, even in the beginning. 

I'm not saying that these are flawless characters, though. Not by any means. Jack is haunted by his past, and Kathleen has issues of her own, such as her misplaced loyalties to her betrothed. Thus, these are real people with strengths and weaknesses, whom readers can totally relate to.

As for Danny O'Sheehan, I couldn't believe what he did to Kathleen, especially given the fact that they had known  each other since they were children. He struck me as very self-centered, uncaring, and totally unwilling to accept responsibility for the effect of his actions on others. What a marked contrast to Jack! 

The secondary characters, consisting mostly of Kathleen's family, are  also great! Her parents are gentle, hard-working souls who are very devoted to their children. I also liked Sean, Kathleen's brother, a good man who did not deserve to suffer through the great personal tragedy he unfortunately had to go through. That particular scene was another poignant one that moved me to tears.

This is a larger-than-life novel, as Ford weaves social issues into the plot, such as the Irish famine, and the unpleasant fact of prejudice against the Irish people. Throughout it all, Kathleen and Jack's love gradually intensifies, although both of them fight it for a good part of the book, for their own personal reasons. Once they begin to fall in love, though, their romance is a sweet one, full of banter and loving concern for each other.

I was very pleased to discover, as I read, that the author kept profanity to a minimum, and, while there was plenty of sexual tension, there were no steamy sex scenes in the novel. This is unusual nowadays for romances written for adults. Instead, Ms. Ford concentrates on letting us into the minds and hearts of her characters. Besides, the sparks are there, nevertheless! And Jack is definitely a great kisser! He's also very romantic, yet, respectful of Kathleen's wishes. He never forces her into  anything. He simply entices, very gently, in a very compelling manner.... Ah, Jack....

I can very heartily and thoroughly recommend this captivating, breathtaking novel which brings readers the magic of love in the midst of great tragedy, with touches of humor along the way! It is indeed a "sweeping historical love story", as stated by Publishers Weekly!


Pamela Ford is an award-winning author of contemporary and historical romances novels. She grew up watching old movies, blissfully sighing over the romance; and reading sci-fi and adventure novels, vicariously living the action. The combination probably explains why the books she writes are romantic happily-ever-afters with plenty of fast-paced plots.

After graduating from college with a degree in Advertising, Pam merrily set off to earn a living, searching for that perfect career as she became a graphic designer, print buyer, waitress, pantyhose salesperson, public relations specialist, copywriter, freelance writer – and finally author. Pam has won numerous awards, including the Booksellers Best and the Laurel Wreath, and is a two-time Golden Heart Finalist. She lives in Wisconsin with her husband and children.


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Friday Finds #1: June 19

Welcome to Friday Finds!!

This meme is hosted by Jenn @ A Daily Rhythm, and features books added to our TBR lists. The books don't necessarily have to be purchased. Nor do they have to be recent releases, either.

If you'd like to participate, just go over to Jenn's blog for the rules!

Here's my list for this week!

(I have already bought the paperback edition.)

( purchased the Kindle edition, but intend to 
get the paperback later on.)

(I purchased the paperback edition of this one.)

(I've also bought the paperback edition.)

What books have you added 
to your TBR list?
Leave your link in the 
comments, and I'll 
go check out your finds!