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    This is my little corner of the world where I can do whatever I some of my favorite (and not so favorite) books, whine about yet another gray sky, or just share a little of what it means to live in the Pacific Northwest after a lifetime of living in the sun.

    Reading As you spend time on my blog, you may notice that my reading tastes are a bit eclectic. I used to be what I call a "book snob". That was before I began work on my master's degree and needed light recreational reading and discovered that while some books might not be "critically acclaimed", they could still be some great fun to read! Now I read a little bit of everything.

    Writing One of my lifelong dreams (besides meeting John Taylor from 80's Duran Duran fame) has been write the next great American novel . I'm sure many of you share this dream (you might even share my dream of meeting John Taylor, who knows). I've always been afraid to start writing. I put "writing" in the sub-title of the blog hoping that it will force me to begin writing something or else I will have to crawl away in shame...

    Living I'll also be sharing stories about my experiences living and parenting in the PNW. If you're expecting great tips on how to organize your schedule or how to prepare gourmet meals on a shoestring budget...sorry, you won't find that here. I am chronically messy, chronically disorganized, and chronically planning gourmet meals that never get prepared. It's just going to be me...sharing my trials and tribulations of not only leaving 365 days of sunshine for 350 days of gray skies but also the oh so fun adventure of parenting two "tweens" who think they know more than me.

Giveaway & Book Review: I Shall Be Near To You

Title:   I Shall Be Near To You
Author:   Erin Lindsay McCabe
Genre:   Historical Fiction
Source:   Publisher and TLC Book Tours
Rating:  4
Locate It: Amazon

An extraordinary novel about a strong-willed woman who disguises herself as a man in order to fight beside her husband in the Civil War, inspired by a real female soldier’s letters home
Rosetta doesn’t want her new husband Jeremiah to enlist, but he joins up, hoping to make enough money that they’ll be able to afford their own farm someday. Though she’s always worked by her father’s side as the son he never had, now that Rosetta is a wife she’s told her place is inside with the other women. But Rosetta decides her true place is with Jeremiah, no matter what that means, and to be with him she cuts off her hair, hems an old pair of his pants, and signs up as a Union soldier.
Rosetta drills with the men, prepares herself for battle, and faces the tension as her husband comes to grips with having a fighting wife. Fearing discovery of her secret, Rosetta’s strong will clashes with Jeremiah’s as their marriage is tested by war. Inspired by over two hundred and fifty documented accounts of the women who fought in the Civil War while disguised as men, I Shall Be Near To You is the intimate story, in Rosetta’s powerful and gorgeous voice, of the drama of marriage, one woman’s amazing exploits, and the tender love story that can unfold when two partners face life’s challenges side by side.

My Thoughts:

I actually asked to be part of this book tour.  My mom recently discovered I Shall Be Near To You at our public library and wouldn’t stop talking about how much she loved it and how I really needed to read it.  Well, she was right.  The story of Rosetta, Jeremiah, and their friends is absolutely charming.  You’ll find yourself falling in love with both Rosetta and Jeremiah.  Rosetta is not your usual mid-19th century woman.  She is stubborn and strong and independent.  She is willing to fight for what she loves.  You quickly find yourself wanting to fight for Rosetta.

Erin Lindsay McCabe did an amazing job of detailing life on a Civil War battlefield.  She brought the sights, the sounds, and even the smells alive for me in her writing.  McCabe’s gentle use of dialect and first person perspective (a perspective I’m not always fond of) truly immersed me in Rosetta’s life.

Don’t forget to enter the giveaway below.  If you give I Shall Be Near To You a try be sure to let me know what you think.

*Thanks to TLC Books for giving me a copy of this book in order to participate in the blog tour and for sponsoring this giveaway.  

a Rafflecopter giveaway

September 6, 2014 - 9:30 am
September 6, 2014 - 10:08 am

Heather J @ TLC Book Tours - First person narration can be tricky but it works so well when it is done right. This sounds like a wonderful read! Thanks for being a part of the tour.

September 11, 2014 - 6:32 am

Susan (Bloggin' 'bout Books) - I love good historical fiction, especially when it’s “based on a true story.” I’m definitely going to enter the giveaway. Thanks!

September 11, 2014 - 6:33 am

Susan (Bloggin' 'bout Books) - Oops, guess I missed the giveaway. I’m going to request the book from my library instead :)

Book Review & Giveaway: Inamorata by Megan Chance

**Don’t forget to enter the giveaway down below**

Title:   Inamorata
Author:   Megan Chance
Genre:   Historical Fiction/Fantasy
Source:   Publisher/TLC Book Tours
Rating:  4
Locate It: Amazon


American artist Joseph Hannigan and his alluring sister, Sophie, have arrived in enchanting nineteenth-century Venice with a single-minded goal. The twins, who have fled scandal in New York, are determined to break into Venice’s expatriate set and find a wealthy patron to support Joseph’s work.

But the enigmatic Hannigans are not the only ones with a secret agenda. Joseph’s talent soon attracts the attention of the magnificent Odilé Leon, a celebrated courtesan and muse who has inspired many artists to greatness. But her inspiration comes with a devastatingly steep price.

As Joseph falls under the courtesan’s spell, Sophie joins forces with Nicholas Dane, the one man who knows Odilé’s dark secret, and her sworn enemy. When the seductive muse offers Joseph the path to eternal fame, the twins must decide who to believe—and just how much they are willing to sacrifice for fame.

My Thoughts:

I wasn’t sure what to expect when I agreed to review it for the blog tour.  Honestly, I chose it because I liked the cover.  ;)   I’m glad I accepted it because I really liked this book.  I liked the small mysteries that unfolded over the pages.  I liked the way Megan Chance brought historical figures into the story.  I liked the slight paranormal twist of the story.

This is one of those books that I could talk on and on about what I loved but I am afraid that I would give something away in the discussion.  So I’m cutting this review short and am instead giving you a chance to win your own copy so that you can experience Inamorata for yourself.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


 *Thank you to TLC Book Tours for providing me with a digital copy of Inamorata and for sponsoring this giveaway.

September 1, 2014 - 3:47 pm

Megan Chance, author of Inamorata, on tour August 2014 | TLC Book Tours - [...] Friday, August 29th:  Under a Gray Sky [...]

September 1, 2014 - 3:51 pm

Heather J @ TLC Book Tours - I’m glad you enjoyed this book! Thanks for being a part of the tour.

Book Review: One Kick by Chelsea Cain

Title:  One Kick
Author:   Chelsea Cain
Genre:  Suspense/Thriller/Mystery
Source:  Kindle Purchase
Rating:  4.5
Locate It: Amazon  or  Powell’s

Kick Lannigan, 21, is a survivor. Abducted at age six in broad daylight, the police, the public, perhaps even her family assumed the worst had occurred. And then Kathleen Lannigan was found, alive, six years later. In the early months following her freedom, as Kick struggled with PTSD, her parents put her through a litany of therapies, but nothing helped until the detective who rescued her suggested Kick learn to fight. Before she was thirteen, Kick learned marksmanship, martial arts, boxing, archery, and knife throwing. She excelled at every one, vowing she would never be victimized again. But when two children in the Portland area go missing in the same month, Kick goes into a tailspin. Then an enigmatic man Bishop approaches her with a proposition: he is convinced Kick’s experiences and expertise can be used to help rescue the abductees. Little does Kick know the case will lead directly into her terrifying past…

My Thoughts:
If you are a follower of this blog, you may or not know that one of my favorite authors is Chelsea Cain.  I first discovered Chelsea through her Gretchen Lowell series (a wickedly funny female serial killer) and always look forward to her newest novels.   After six books in the Gretchen series, Chelsea has kicked off a new series with her book One Kick (Kick Lannigan #1).  

I’d read the synopsis, was thoroughly intrigued by the character of Kick Lannigan and was counting down the days for my pre-order to automatically download to my Kindle.  The book arrived last week and I can tell you that it did not disappoint.   The subject matter was disturbing (a ring of kidnapping pedophiles) but was handled well by Chelsea Cain.  She brought her character, Kick, out of a terrible situation (kidnapped as a very young girl and held captive for years) and gave her both the strength and the intelligence to overcome her past.

I really liked One Kick but will say that I was disappointed with Kick’s decision at the the end of the book and felt like there was a bit of a gap in the storyline that led to the decision.  The backstory was there and while we did see Kick weigh her choices earlier in the book, when the decision was made, I feel like it was an abrupt addition to the story without any explanation of how she came to make this particular choice. I apologize for being vague but don’t want to give too much away.

I recommend this book to fans of gritty thrillers with the warning that although it is well written, the topic of kidnapping and pedophilia can be quite disturbing.

Book Review: The Fortune Hunter

Title:   The Fortune Hunter
Author:   Daisy Goodwin
Genre:  Historical Fiction
Source:  Publisher
Rating:  4
Locate It: Amazon or Powell’s


In 1875, Sisi, the Empress of Austria is the woman that every man desires and every woman envies.

Beautiful, athletic and intelligent, Sisi has everything – except happiness. Bored with the stultifying etiquette of the Hapsburg Court and her dutiful but unexciting husband, Franz Joseph, Sisi comes to England to hunt. She comes looking for excitement and she finds it in the dashing form of Captain Bay Middleton, the only man in Europe who can outride her. Ten years younger than her and engaged to the rich and devoted Charlotte, Bay has everything to lose by falling for a woman who can never be his. But Bay and the Empress are as reckless as each other, and their mutual attraction is a force that cannot be denied.

Full of passion and drama, THE FORTUNE HUNTER tells the true story of a nineteenth century Queen of Hearts and a cavalry captain, and the struggle between love and duty.

My Thoughts:

I just finished The Fortune Hunter and I have to say that it was an enjoyable read.  Daisy Goodwin took her characters from three real people who’s lives intersected in the late 19th century.  Through Daisy’s imagination, we take a front seat to watch the somewhat scandalous love triangle between Empress Elizabeth of Austria, her hunting pilot, Bay Middleton, and an orphaned heiress.

The Fortune Hunter is full of great details about fox hunting, photography, and life in general during the Victorian era.  I think my favorite scene was a meeting between the Empress of Austria and Queen Victoria as they both attempted to “one-up” the other behind their cordial smiles.  I found Daisy Goodwin’s character of Sisi (the empress) to be consistent with what I know of her from history and actually found it a bit more touching knowing what the future held for her a few years after this story ends.

This is not deep or heavy historical fiction.  It leans more towards a sort of historically based chick-lit which makes it a perfect read for the last few weeks of summer.

*I received a copy of this book from the publisher which in no way affects my review.  This review is my honest opinion of this book.

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