Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Wednesday Fun Fact

Did you know that bestselling author, Darcie Chan was one of indieBRAG’s earliest B.R.A.G. Medallion Honorees? She is now a main-stream publishing author with Random House.

Darcie's website

Twitter: @DarcieChan

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Sunday Book Highlight!

B.R.A.G. Medallion Honoree

When the body of Maggie McFarland, an 86-year old widow, is found among the rubble of the once-famous, landmark Artemis Hotel, leveled by fire nearly seventy years ago, residents of Roscoe are shocked. However, it is not the location where Maggie is found, but rather the manner of her demise that has everyone puzzled. For it isn't a heart attack that has felled her; nor has she suffered a stroke, or taken a fatal fall from a porch. Her life has not ended so uneventfully. Maggie has been killed by a bullet to the heart, fired from a pistol at close range. Who would possibly want to kill this kind, gentle woman, known throughout the area as one of the best trout fly tiers within a hundred miles of the famed Beaverkill River? That is the mystery that confronts Matt Davis in Broken Promises, one of the most baffling cases of his career.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Calling All Readers!

Thank you to readers who have submitted applications to indieBRAG- we are so glad to have you join us!
We still need more readers so be sure to tell your friends!

Genres provided: Fantasy, Historical Fiction, Literary Fiction, Mystery, Paranormal, Romance, Science Fiction, Thriller, Young Adult, Children and Non-Fiction.

We will provide the ebooks for free and you will be a part of a global reading group attempting to shine a light on worthy self-publishing books.

Thank you!
Stephanie M. Hopkins

indieBRAG Team Member

Monday, December 21, 2015

Books by Nancy Bilyeau

Check out one of my all-time favorite trilogies by Nancy Bilyeau. She is one of my favorite writers of the Tudor Era. I highly recommend!

Tudor fiction like no other. Joanna Stafford, a Dominican nun, learns that her favorite cousin has been condemned by Henry VIII to be burned at the stake. Defying the rule of enclosure, Joanna leaves the priory to stand at her cousin’s side. Arrested for interfering with the king’s justice, Joanna, along with her father, is sent to the Tower of London.

While Joanna is in the Tower, the ruthless Bishop of Winchester forces her to spy for him: to save her father’s life she must find an ancient relic—a crown so powerful, it may possess the ability to end the Reformation.

With Cromwell’s troops threatening to shutter her priory, bright and bold Joanna must decide who she can trust so that she may save herself, her family, and her sacred way of life. This provocative story set in Tudor England melds heart-stopping suspense with historical detail and brings to life the poignant dramas of women and men at a fascinating and critical moment in England’s past.

It was a time of fear. It was a time of prophecy. It was a time for one woman to show a courage she never knew she had...

Winner of the Best Historical Mystery Award from the RT Reviews, 'The Chalice' is a thriller told from the point of view of a young woman caught in the crosswinds of time: She has pledged to become a Dominican nun in an England ruled by Henry VIII, who has ruthlessly smashed his country's allegiance to Rome. By 1538, the bloody power struggles between crown and cross threaten to tear the country apart. Joanna Stafford has seen what lies inside the king’s torture rooms and risks imprisonment again, when she is caught up in a shadowy international plot targeting the King. As the power plays turn vicious, Joanna understands she may have to assume her role in a prophecy foretold by three different seers, each more omniscient than the last. The life of Henry VIII as well as the future of Christendom are in her hands—hands that must someday hold the chalice that lays at the center of these deadly prophecies. As she struggles to forge a life for herself in a country that rejects her faith, she must also decide if her future should be shared with a man--and if so, which of the two men who love her should be chosen. 

The next page-turner in the award-winning Joanna Stafford series takes place in the heart of the Tudor court, as the gutsy former novice risks everything to defy the most powerful men of her era.

After her Dominican priory in Dartford closed forever—collateral damage in tyrannical King Henry VIII’s quest to overthrow the Catholic Church—Joanna resolves to live a quiet and honorable life weaving tapestries, shunning dangerous quests and conspiracies. Until she is summoned to Whitehall Palace, where her tapestry weaving has drawn the King’s attention.

Joanna is uncomfortable serving the King, and fears for her life in a court bursting with hidden agendas and a casual disregard for the virtues she holds dear. Her suspicions are confirmed when an assassin attempts to kill her moments after arriving at Whitehall.

Struggling to stay ahead of her most formidable enemy yet, an unknown one, she becomes entangled in dangerous court politics. Her dear friend Catherine Howard is rumored to be the King’s mistress. Joanna is determined to protect young, beautiful, naïve Catherine from becoming the King’s next wife and, possibly, victim.

Set in a world of royal banquets and feasts, tournament jousts, ship voyages, and Tower Hill executions, this thrilling tale finds Joanna in her most dangerous situation yet, as she attempts to decide the life she wants to live: nun or wife, spy or subject, rebel or courtier. Joanna Stafford must finally choose.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

2016 Historical Novel Society Indie Award Announcement

I have the great pleasure to announce that I have been honored of being the short-list judge for the Historical Novel Society Indie Award alongside Steve Donoghue HNS US Indie Review Editor and author Janis Pegrum Smith - and the Finalist judges: James Aitcheson (author and historian) and Anna Belfrage author and 2015 Indie Award Winner.

Here's the full longlist - the nine selected shortlist titles will be announced here on 1st January.

I am in good company!

Stephanie M. Hopkins 

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

What Is In A Name?

When reading a story, I am always wondering how the writers came up with the name for their characters. Now, historical fiction, I get. Except maybe for the fictional characters thrown in. Does the writer look on the internet, billboards, name their characters after friends, favorite actor, family or foe? Or do the names just pop in their heads? I wonder if some writers come up with the name from the personalities of their characters. That would be cool. Or do they take an on-line survey? As you can see, there are endless ways to come up with names…

Whatever the reason, this is just one of the many thoughts on my mind in the world of a writer and reader.

For myself, I write alternate history, so I use names of Historical figures.  Okay, okay, I use names that have always appealed to me or of names of people I’ve come across growing up as well. Names of girls I wish my mother named me or who I despised. Names of boys I disliked with a passion or had a crush on. Hey, at least I can admit this out loud in a VERY public way.  

Do you often wonder how writers come up with names?

Stephanie M. Hopkins

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Sunday Book Highlight!

Pompeii was a lively resort flourishing in the shadow of Mount Vesuvius at the height of the Roman Empire. When Vesuvius erupted in an explosion of flame and ash, the entire town would be destroyed. Some of its citizens died in the chaos, some escaped the mountain's wrath . . . and these are their stories: A boy loses his innocence in Pompeii's flourishing streets. An heiress dreads her wedding day, not knowing it will be swallowed by fire. An ex-legionary stakes his entire future on a gladiator bout destined never to be finished. A crippled senator welcomes death, until a tomboy on horseback comes to his rescue. A young mother faces an impossible choice for her unborn child as the ash falls. A priestess and a whore seek redemption and resurrection as the town is buried. Six authors bring to life overlapping stories of patricians and slaves, warriors and politicians, villains and heroes who cross each other’s' path during Pompeii's fiery end. But who will escape, and who will be buried for eternity?

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Layered Page's Current Reads

There are moments when I read more than one book at a time. I can’t help myself and my moods have been all over the place lately with differnt genres. Luckly, I can keep up with all of the stories in my head without getting confused. Okay, Okay I’ll tell you a little secret. I take notes as well. Shh…don’t tell. Plus, I have a big project I have been asked to work on in the new year and I need to clear some of my reading shelf. This project will take up almost half a year worth of reading. More to come later about that.

So let’s get started! Below are the books I’m reading and what I have to say about each book thus far. Enjoy!

I have been dying to get my hands on one of Libbie Hawkers books. When this came available through NetGalley, I jumped on it. I’ve read the first few pages so far and I am intrigued with the premise. Review coming soon.

When Zenobia takes control of her own fate, will the gods punish her audacity?

Zenobia, the proud daughter of a Syrian sheikh, refuses to marry against her will. She won’t submit to a lifetime of subservience. When her father dies, she sets out on her own, pursuing the power she believes to be her birthright, dreaming of the Roman Empire’s downfall and her ascendance to the throne.

Defying her family, Zenobia arranges her own marriage to the most influential man in the city of Palmyra. But their union is anything but peaceful—his other wife begrudges the marriage and the birth of Zenobia’s son, and Zenobia finds herself ever more drawn to her guardsman, Zabdas. As war breaks out, she’s faced with terrible choices.

From the decadent halls of Rome to the golden sands of Egypt, Zenobia fights for power, for love, and for her son. But will her hubris draw the wrath of the gods? Will she learn a “woman’s place,” or can she finally stake her claim as Empress of the East?

The Beautiful Daughters has been completely conflicted. My thoughts are torn with this story, actually. I’m reviewing this one for NetGalley, so you will see more of my thoughts soon when I post the review.

Adrienne Vogt and Harper Penny were closer than sisters, until the day a tragedy blew their seemingly idyllic world apart. Afraid that they got away with murder and unable to accept who they had lost—and what they had done—Harper and Adri exiled themselves from small-town Blackhawk, Iowa, and from each other. Adri ran thousands of miles away to Africa while Harper ventured down a more destructive path closer to home.

Now, five years later, both are convinced that nothing could ever coax them out of the worlds in which they’ve been living. But unexpected news from home soon pulls Adri and Harper back together, and the two cannot avoid facing their memories and guilt head-on. As they are pulled back into the tangle of their fractured relationships and the mystery of Piperhall, the sprawling estate where their lives first began to unravel, secrets and lies behind the tragic accident are laid bare. The former best friends are forced to come to terms with their shared past and search for the beauty in each other while mending the brokenness in themselves.

I’m almost through with, 'In the Shadow of the Storm' by Anna Belfrage. I am on the last few pages. What an adventure! I’m reserving the rest of my thoughts for my written review which will come in the near future.

Adam de Guirande owes his lord, Roger Mortimer, much more than loyalty. He owes Lord Roger for his life and all his worldly goods, he owes him for his beautiful wife – even if Kit is not quite the woman Lord Roger thinks she is. So when Lord Roger rises in rebellion against the king, Adam has no choice but to ride with him – no matter what the ultimate cost may be. 

England in 1321 is a confusing place. Edward II has been forced by his barons to exile his favourite, Hugh Despenser. The barons, led by the powerful Thomas of Lancaster, Roger Mortimer and Humphrey de Bohun, have reasons to believe they have finally tamed the king. But Edward is not about to take things lying down, and fate is a fickle mistress, favouring first one, then the other. 
Adam fears his lord has over-reached, but at present Adam has other matters to concern him, first and foremost his new wife, Katherine de Monmouth. His bride comes surrounded by rumours concerning her and Lord Roger, and he hates it when his brother snickers and whispers of used goods. 

Kit de Courcy has the misfortune of being a perfect double of Katherine de Monmouth – which is why she finds herself coerced into wedding a man under a false name. What will Adam do when he finds out he has been duped? 
Domestic matters become irrelevant when the king sets out to punish his rebellious barons. The Welsh Marches explode into war, and soon Lord Roger and his men are fighting for their very lives. When hope splutters and dies, when death seems inevitable, it falls to Kit to save her man – if she can. 

'In the Shadow of the Storm' is the first in Anna Belfrage’s new series, The King’s Greatest Enemy, the story of a man torn apart by his loyalties to his lord, his king, and his wife.

Hysterical Love by Lorraine Wilke is a B.R.A.G.Medallion Honoree and the author kindly sent me a copy because of the support I have been giving her on Layered Pages. She is a delight to work with and I’ve been wanting to read her stories for a while now. Being from the South and reading a story where the setting takes place in California is new to me and thus far I am enjoying the experience. Lorraine certainly does not hold back with her prose and style. One can tell she enjoys her craft in character building.

Dan McDowell, a thirty-three-year-old portrait photographer happily set to marry his beloved Jane, is stunned when a slip of the tongue about an “ex-girlfriend overlap” of years earlier throws their pending marriage into doubt and him onto the street. Or at least into the second bedroom of their next-door neighbor, Bob, where Dan is sure it won't be long. It's long. 

His sister, Lucy, further confuses matters with her “soul mate theory” and its suggestion that Jane might not be his... soul mate, that is. But the tipping point comes when his father is struck ill, sparking a chain of events in which Dan discovers a story written by this man he doesn’t readily understand, but who, it seems, has long harbored an unrequited love from decades earlier. 

Incapable of fixing his own romantic dilemma, Dan becomes fixated on finding this woman of his father’s dreams and sets off for Oakland, California, on a mission fraught with detours and semi-hilarious peril. Along the way he meets the beautiful Fiona, herbalist and flower child, who assists in his quest while quietly and erotically shaking up his world. When, against all odds, he finds the elusive woman from the past, the ultimate discovery of how she truly fit into his father's life leaves him staggered, as does the reality of what’s been stirred up with Fiona. But it’s when he returns home to yet another set of unexpected truths that he’s shaken to the core, ultimately forced to face who he is and just whom he might be able to love.

Lorraine Devon Wilke, author of the acclaimed debut novel, After The Sucker Punch, brings her deft mix of humor and drama to a whip-smart narrative told from the point of view of its male protagonist. Hysterical Love explores themes of family, commitment, balancing creativity, facing adulthood, and digging deep to understand the beating heart of true love.

Perfidtas is the sequel to Inceptio by Alison Morton. Her stories have been awarded the B.R.A.G. Medallion. Her alternate history series is unlike anything I have read before. I’m totally digging its uniqueness and the world she has created. Be sure to check out this series. I recommend starting with the first book. The stories build on each other.

Present day, alternate reality. Captain Carina Mitela of the Praetorian Guard Special Forces is in trouble – one colleague has tried to kill her and another has set a trap to incriminate her in a conspiracy to topple the government of Roma Nova. Founded sixteen hundred years ago by Roman dissidents and ruled by women, Roma Nova barely survived a devastating coup d’état thirty years ago. Carina swears to prevent a repeat and not merely for love of country. 

Seeking help from a not quite legal old friend could wreck her marriage to the enigmatic Conrad. Once proscribed and operating illegally, she risks being terminated by both security services and conspirators. As she struggles to overcome the desperate odds and save her beloved Roma Nova and her own life, she faces the ultimate betrayal…

Often times I switch to modern day thrillers to mix things up a bit. It also helps me keep things in perspective when it comes to my own writing. I am an avid reader of Historical Fiction but writing an alternate history story that takes place in the modern day and reveals a 16th Century past. It’s pretty cool. I’m having a lot of fun with it. 

A body in a rundown Opera House.
Simmering resentment in a small Virginia coastal town.
A missing manuscript.
A dark family secret.

Former piano prodigy turned FBI agent Scott Drayco is suffering nightmares from his last case as a private consultant. To add insult to injury, he's bequeathed an unwanted and rundown Opera House in Cape Unity, a down-on-its-luck seaside village where vacation homes were once a playground for the rich. His hopes for a quick sale are dashed when a new client with dreams of his own redemption is murdered in the Opera House, the letter “G” mockingly carved into his chest. Slowly, inevitably, Drayco is pulled into a tangled web of jealousy and betrayal that reaches across the Atlantic into some of the darkest days of human history. But will he be able to untangle the web before the tensions in Cape Unity explode into more violence and he becomes the next victim?

Okay, so as a general rule I do not do Vampire Stories (usually) but this captured my attention some time ago and I’ve been too curious about it to stay away. What do I think of it so far? Well, you’ll just have to wait. I want to surprise you.

Henry Stuart, Duke of Gloucester, the youngest brother of King Charles II is a handsome man with sound principles. When the twenty-year-old prince contracts smallpox in 1660, however, his life takes a decidedly sinister turn. Obsessed with Henry from afar, Contessa Griselda di Cuorenero - one of the Devil's concubines - turns him into a vampire and plunges him into the world of night. But Henry soon discovers that not all horrors are of the paranormal kind... In the unnaturally close village of Coffin's Bishop, Henry encounters a severely abused young woman - Susanna Edmonds - a woman who has suffered under humans more monstrous than vampires. Could love save them from the evil they have known? And at what cost? Henry must choose between his humanity and his monstrous, insatiable desire for human blood. From the author of "His Last Mistress," The Stuart Vampire is a dark gothic tale in the vein of The Monk.

The Historian is one I have read before (more than once) and I’m thoroughly enjoying it still. I’m reading it with a different eye this time around. Alas, it’s a dense read with articulate prose and I am absorbing this lush story in small lavish dosages.

To you, perceptive reader, I bequeath my history…

Late one night, exploring her father’s library, a young woman finds an ancient book and a cache of yellowing letters addressed ominously to ‘My dear and unfortunate successor’. Her discovery plunges her into a world she never dreamed of – a labyrinth where the secrets of her father’s past and her mother’s mysterious fate connect to an evil hidden in the depths of history.

Book descriptions from goodreads.

Thanks for stopping by! Be sure to check out my wordpress for author interviews and much more!

Stephanie M. Hopkins

Friday, November 27, 2015

Afternoon Tea at The Ritz Carlton

Every year my mother, sister, my daughter and I like to have a “girl’s day out” or a “girl’s weekend”. The last trip we took was to the Biltmore in North Carolina during the spring time. This year my sister and her husband came to visit for Thanksgiving so we decided to have a girl’s afternoon tea at The Ritz Carlton in Buckhead, Georgia. Off we went the day before Thanksgiving to have our tea.

First our tea of choice was poured. Mine was the Blackberry Tea.


Then delicate tea sandwiches were brought out. Just look at the variety of sandwiches to choose from. Each one was absolutely delicious. 


As we savored each bite we talked about different things and enjoyed the ambiance surrounding us. Even my teenage daughter was impressed and it takes a lot to a compliment out of her.


As we finished the sandwiches and more tea was poured by our hostesses, the scones were brought to our table. The scones were served with clotted cream, lemon curd and strawberry preserves. Yum!


Then last but surely not least, the delightful little cakes and an assortment of pastries was served. What a wonderful afternoon tea and memories made to cherish always.


Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Wednesday Morning Ramblings

Each morning when I wake up, I have so much on my mind. First is to give thanks to God. Then get my daughter up and to school. That is a process in itself! Then there is my tea before I can actually function for the day and then I move on to work related items. I have the great privilege of working in the book industry.  Which is perfect because one of the things I always have on my mind is, books. *I can imagine my daughter saying to me if she were watching me type this, “No…who would have thought?”* Got to love teenagers. Anyhow, I thought I would share a few pictures of some books I’d like to get to in the next foreseeable future. Of course I will be posting more titles later on. I’m not going to let you off the hook that easily. *smiles* I know many of you will want to add these to your never ending to-read list. Or for those of you who are looking for a good book. Or you are looking for great gift ideas for Christmas. Here you go. Enjoy!



Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Calling All Readers!

If you and your friends like to read, come on over and join the indieBRAG reading team! Free ebooks and no limit to how many you must read. Enjoy yourself and help support good indie books-
Join at:

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Interview with Marci Jefferson & Book Review

I’d like to welcome Marci to my blog today to talk with me about what Historical fiction means to her and the importance of it. Also at the end of the interview I have shared a few of my thoughts about her book, Enchantress of Paris

Marci, what are the periods of history focused on for your writing?

Enchantress of Paris is set in seventeenth century France, during the reign of Louis XIV.

Why Historical Fiction?

I spent a good deal of my childhood growing up in Yorktown, Virginia, where locals still tell Revolutionary War tales. Most of those tales were of men - brave generals and soldiers. But I was always interested in the roles women played in major events - where were they? Despite having few rights throughout most of history, women were indeed active, either influencing or defying powerful men, and sometimes forging their own destinies.

When did you know you wanted be a Historical Fiction writer?

I was riding atop a red double-decker bus when someone said, “There’s the Banqueting House, where Charles I was beheaded.” I’d been under the impression that only kings ordered beheadings! I decided to research everything about the Stuart family that my nursing professors didn’t bother teaching me in nursing school. Eventually, that research turned into writing my debut novel, Girl on the Golden Coin. And I've been writing historical fiction ever since!

How much time do you spend on research? What sources do you use?

I spend way too much time on research!  I read, read, then read some more! Since almost none of my characters are fictional, I find biographies most helpful. I can’t even tell you how many I’ve read throughout the years. But I also research general history books to gain an understanding of the political landscape. I scour maps. I wade through every source from my era plucking out period and cultural details. Sometimes I contact archivists in the area I’m researching to request copies of source materials that real historians research, such as letters and wills.

What do you feel is the importance of Historical Fiction?

One of my high school teachers had a poster on the wall that read, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” It struck me. I decided I didn’t want to make the mistakes of my forefathers, so I’ve always approached my historical research with an analytical eye. However, as the old adage goes, history is written by the victors. We cannot assume that all we’ve been taught about how our modern world was shaped is accurate. We must strive to know the facts and seek alternate points of view if we want to understand. I think historical fiction is special because it animates those alternate points of view. Historical fiction engages people, putting fresh perspective on old stories.

Who are your influences?

Philippa Gregory, Margaret George, Tracy Chevalier, and Michelle Moran.

How much fiction (in your opinion) is best to blend with historical facts?

In the historical genre, I believe the facts should structure the fiction. I strive to be as historically accurate as possible, though I’m an amateur historian. In my novels, readers will find fictionalized answers to questions unanswered in the history books. I hope readers will also consider history to be not only a setting in my novels, but an active part of the plot, a character at times, and motivation for everything that happens.

How do you feel the genre has progressed in the last ten years?

The last ten years have seen a great deal more historical fiction with a literary bend than the prior decade. It is a genre always in flux. Currently, the most popular period is World War I, but I think a good royal adventure like Enchantress of Paris will always intrigue readers.

What are the important steps in writing Historical Fiction?

Do your homework. Research, research, then research some more. Research until you can make history part of your story, not just a background. If you write about a historical figure, remember to be true to that person’s spirit.

What must you not do writing in this genre?

You must not get tripped up by anachronisms. Tempting as it may be, in historical fiction you cannot have Louis XIV behind the wheel of a Rolls-Royce! And you can’t have Louis XIV and Marie Mancini take a stroll past the Eiffel Tower!

When writing, do you use visuals to give you inspiration? Such as historical pictures of people, castles, and owns? What about historical objects?

Oh yes, I have copies of Marie Mancini’s portraits hanging on my walls. Maps of seventeenth century Paris strewn about my desk. And I have copies of seventeenth century astrological almanacs, ones Marie Mancini may have read, on my bookshelf.



About the Book, Enchantress of Paris: A Novel of the Sun King’s Court


The alignment of the stars at Marie Mancini's birth warned that although she would be gifted at divination, she was destined to disgrace her family. Ignoring the dark warnings of his sister and astrologers, Cardinal Mazarin brings his niece to the French court, where the forbidden occult arts thrive in secret. In France, Marie learns her uncle has become the power behind the throne by using her sister Olympia to hold the Sun King, Louis XIV, in thrall.

Desperate to avoid her mother's dying wish that she spend her life in a convent, Marie burns her grimoire, trading Italian superstitions for polite sophistication. But as her star rises, King Louis becomes enchanted by Marie's charm. Sensing a chance to grasp even greater glory, Cardinal Mazarin pits the sisters against each other, showering Marie with diamonds and silks in exchange for bending King Louis to his will.

Disgusted by Mazarin's ruthlessness, Marie rebels. She sacrifices everything, but exposing Mazarin's deepest secret threatens to tear France apart. When even King Louis's love fails to protect Marie, she must summon her forbidden powers of divination to shield her family, protect France, and help the Sun King fulfill his destiny.
 My thoughts:

It’s not often I read historical Romance. Matter of fact, I read one last year that took place in France that was in the same genre. It was enough for me for a while. I have become extremely selective in this genre for many reason but I will not touch on that today. But I will say that I’ve read a ton of books that takes place in royal courts and I wanted something new and fresh. However, when I was first approached about reviewing this story, I was hesitate but when I read the title, premise, and book cover, it appealed to me instantly. Not having the opportunity to read Marci’s first book, Girl on the Golden Coin-which I hear nothing but praise, I had to read this one to find out about Marci’s amazing craft of writing. Does Marci pull it off in Enchantress? Well, yes. I believe she has. Here’s why. For a women to capture a King’s love and hold it amongst a vast court of women’s intrigue in wanting to capture his attention. Marie held her own despite the odds and danger against her and she did it brilliantly. Not only that, she defies her uncle-a powerful Cardinal-time and time again. Alas, in the beginning of the story, I wasn’t too sure about her. Having read on, Marc builds on Marie’s character, wit, charm and strength. But all is not well in the French court or the young King’s will or power.

King Louis is another matter altogether. I wanted to dive in the story and shake him to no end. That’s all I can say about that. I don’t want to give spoilers away. Marci did a superb job in her character development. There were quite a few characters I loved to hate in this story. A major plus.

French court intrigue, romance, politics, danger, passion, charm, atmospheric, solid plot, great supporting characters. This story has it all. I’m rating this book four and a half stars! A must read!

Stephanie M. Hopkins.

Be sure to check out Marci’s blog tour appearance and to find out more about her writing, her website!

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Interview with B.R.A.G. Medallion Honoree Kathryn Guare

B.R.A.G. Medallion Honoree Kathryn Guare is here today to talk with me about her book, Deceptive Cadence. Kathryn lives in the Vermont town where she grew up, part of the third generation of her family to call the tiny capital city of Montpelier home. She spent ten years as an executive with a global health membership and advocacy organization, worked as a tour coordinator in a travel agency, and has traveled extensively in Europe and India. She has a passion for Classical music, all things Celtic, and exploring ethnic foods and diverse cultures. Her first novel, "Deceptive Cadence" was awarded a Gold Medal in the Readers Favorite Awards and a Silver Medal in the Next Generation Indie Book Awards, and most recently was honored with an IndieB.R.A.G Medallion. She currently has three books published in the Conor McBride Series, with more on the way.

Hello, Kathryn! Thank you for chatting with me today and congrats on the B.R.A.G. Medallion. How did you discover indieBRAG?
I belong to the Alliance of Independent Authors and several of its recipients are Medallion recipients. Through the discussions in the member forum, I came to understand that indieBRAG was very well respected among authors and other professionals in the self-publishing industry, so I decided to check out the website and learn more.

Please tell me about your book, Deceptive Cadence.

I like to think of it as “a thriller with heart.” The hero of the book is an Irishman named Conor McBride. He’s a talented musician whose career was ruined when was arrested for a crime he didn’t commit. Now, he’s been asked to reinvent himself, and assume an undercover identity to search for the man responsible, who happens to be his own brother, Thomas. The book is about his wild ride from the west coast of Ireland all the way to India, as he finds himself drawn into a dangerous game where things are not what they seem and he doesn’t know who to trust.

Who designed your book cover?

I worked with Andrew and Rebecca Brown at Design for Writers. They are based in the UK and I’m in the US, but despite the geographical distance the whole process felt very collaborative and positive, and I was really happy with the result.

What are a couple of the themes written in your story?

I focus a lot on character development in my writing, so I’d say the most important theme in the story is the internal struggle of the hero to hold on to his own sense of identity. He’s not a professional spy, and he’s a decent man, so he has trouble with the moral ambiguity of what he’s doing. Pretty quickly, he gets sucked into this world of criminal gangs, drugs and human trafficking. He used to be a man who carried a violin everywhere, and now he’s a man who carries a gun. And what’s worse (from his standpoint, not the reader’s!)  is his discovery that he’s very good at it. He’s learning things about himself he didn’t want to know, and as the book continues he begins to realize that he can never “unlearn” them, or go back to the life he had before.

What is an example of conflict that Conor experiences in his undercover identity?

I’d say one big conflict is his attitude about his brother. Thomas is ten years older and was Conor’s hero, so when he disappeared and let his younger brother take the fall for a crime he’d committed, it was a bitter betrayal. Conor’s first instinct is to refuse the mission to find him, but once he’s persuaded Thomas is in danger he can’t help but go through with it, because in spite of everything he still loves his brother, and part of him also wants the opportunity to confront him and get an explanation.

To read the rest of this fascinating interview with Kathryn Guare, click here

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Gisborne (Book of Pawns) by Prue Batten

In a story where status means power and survival depends on how the game is played, two people, one a squire wronged in life and one a noblewoman, are drawn together by lust and a lost inheritance in twelfth century England. Guy of Gisborne is a man with secrets, Ysabel of Moncrieff, a naïve and opinionated noblewoman whose world comes tumbling down like the stones of a mighty cathedral on the death of her mother.
Gisborne is ordered to Aquitaine to escort the young woman home to attend to her grieving father and whilst travelling, she discovers Gisborne's secrets are not just connected with his family but with the throne of England.

And with revenge.


Sunday, June 21, 2015

Sunday Book Highlight

Pablo Perez is a 12-year-old poor kid without much going for him. His classmates have dubbed him "Duct Tape" because his tattered discount-store sneakers are held together guessed it, duct tape. He can't escape the bullying.

Pablo's luck, however, changes after he finds a $20 gold coin while swimming with his sister in a river near their home. Pablo later buys a $1 treasure map at the county fair. The map shows the route to the "lost treasure" of Jesse James. Pablo can't help but wonder: Is there a link between the map and the gold coin?

He is determined to find out, and he, his 9-year-old sister and 13-year-old cousin hire, an ill-natured cave guide, and begin a treacherous underground adventure in search of treasure.