Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Reading Wrap-up For June at Emeraldfire's Bookmark

Hello everyone out there and I hope that you all had a terrific reading month for yourselves. I am known as Emeraldfire around the Internet and this is my new personal reading blog.

Anyway, I started out June with about two hundred unread books lying around the house and ended the month with...umm...uncountable amounts of books unread. All of the books that I acquired this month came from a Library Book Sale that Mom and I went to on the 1st, authors, Amazon and Bookmooch.

Let me try to break down the influx for you:

Changes to the TBR pile

Read from my TBR pile (Yes! I am a reading machine :))
- Death Wish by Megan Tayte
- Grey by Christi J. Whitney
- The Lady and the Minstrel by Joyce DiPastena

Added to my TBR pile (oh well, you win some and you lose some! :))
- The Blooding of Jack Absolute by C. C. Humphreys
- Breaking Dawn by Stephanie Meyer
- Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister by Gregory Maguire
- The Council of the Cursed by Peter Tremayne
- Dancing With Demons by Peter Tremayne
- Darker Still by Leanna Renee Hieber
- Eclipse by Stephanie Meyer
- How to Date a Dragon by Ashlyn Chase
- Hunting Sweetie Rose by Jack Frederickson
- The Inheritance by Louisa May Alcott
- J is For Judgment by Sue Grafton
- A Marble Woman: Unknown Thrillers of Louisa May Alcott by Louisa May Alcott and Madeleine B. Stern
- New Moon by Stephanie Meyer
- Once Upon a Prince by Rachel Hauck
- The Raven Warrior by Alice Borchardt
- R is For Richochet by Sue Grafton
- The Rose Labyrinth by Titania Hardie
- Running Blind by Cindy Gerard
- Sherlock Holmes vs. Dracula by Loren D. Estleman
- A Visit From Sir Nicholas by Victoria Alexander
- BlindSight by Susan Peterson Wisnewski

Taken off my TBR pile and sent to a new home (Yay! Happy Dance! :))
- Death Wish by Megan Tayte
- Grey by Christi J. Whitney
- The Lady and the Minstrel by Joyce DiPastena

Well, there it is...the breakdown! All in all, a very good reading month for me, considering. Here's a further breakdown:

Books Read: 3
Pages Read: 1,180
Grade Range: A+! to A!

So, there you go! The reading month that was June. I hope that you all had an equally good reading month; if not a little better. :) See you all next month! :)

May you read well and often

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Introducing The Jack of Souls by Stephen C. Merlino!

So, I was delighted to learn that the first book in Stephen C. Merlino's fantasy trilogy, The Unseen Moon Trilogy - The Jack of Souls - will be going on sale in ebook form for $0.99 from Amazon. The sale will only last for a limited time - the weekend of July 4th - from Friday, July 3, to Sunday, July 5, 2015! I would advise you to grab your own copy as soon as possible - I know you won't regret it! :)

I had the pleasure of reading Book 1 in The Unseen Moon Trilogy by Stephen C. Merlino - The Jack of Souls - in May of 2015 and here is my review. Keep your eyes open for my 'Flashback Friday' post on Friday, July 3, 2015, posted to coincide with the start of the $0.99 sale on Amazon!

Meet Stephen C. Merlino 

Stephen Merlino lives in Seattle, WA, where he writes, plays, and teaches high school English. He lives with the world's most talented and desirable woman, two equally fabulous children, and three attack chickens.

Growing up in Seattle drove Stephen indoors for eight months of the year. Naturally, that meant he read a lot, and at the age of eleven he discovered the stories of J.R.R. Tolkien and fell in love with fantasy.

Summers and rare sunny days he spent with friends in wooded ravines or on the beaches of Puget Sound, building worlds in the sand, and fighting orcs and wizards with driftwood swords.

About the time a fifth reading of The Lord of the Rings failed to deliver the old magic, Stephen attended the University of Washington and fell in love with Chaucer and Shakespeare and all things English. Sadly, the closest he got to England back then was The Unicorn Pub on University Way, which wasn't even run by an Englishman: it was run by a Scot named Angus. Still, he studied there, and as he sampled Angus's weird ales, and devoured the Unicorn's steak and kidney pie (with real offal!), he developed a passion for Scotland, too.

In college, he fell in love with writing, and when a kindly professor said of a story he'd written, "You should get that published!" Stephen took the encouragement literally, and spent the next years trying. The story remains unpublished, but the quest to develop it introduced Stephen to the world of agents (the story ultimately had two), and taught him much of craft and the value of what Jay Lake would call, "psychotic persistence."

Add to that his abiding love of nerds - those who, as Sarah Vowel defines it, "go too far and care too much about a subject"- and you have Stephen Merlino in a nutshell.

Stephen is the 2014 PNWA winner for Fantasy. 

He is also the 2014 SWW winner for Fantasy.

The Jack of Souls by Stephen C. Merlino (2014)
Length: 352 pages 
Purchase your copy from Amazon and Barnes and Noble!

The Jack of Souls Blurb:

An outcast rogue named Harric must break a curse laid on his fate or die by his nineteenth birthday. As his dead-day approaches, nightmares from the spirit world stalk him and tear at his sanity; sorcery eats at his soul.

To survive, he’ll need more than his usual tricks. He’ll need help - and a lot of it - but on the kingdom’s lawless frontier, his only allies are other outcasts. One of these outcasts is Caris, a mysterious, horse-whispering runaway, intent upon becoming the Queen’s first female knight. The other is Sir Willard - ex-immortal, ex-champion, now addicted to pain-killing herbs and banished from the court.

With their help, Harric might keep his curse at bay. But for how long?

And both companions bring perils and secrets of their own: Caris bears the scars of a troubled past that still hunts her; Willard is at war with the Old Ones, an order of insane immortal knights who once enslaved the kingdom. The Old Ones have returned to murder Willard and seize the throne from his queen. Willard is both on the run from them, and on one final, desperate quest to save her.

Together, Harric and his companions must overcome fanatical armies, murderous sorcerers, and powerful supernatural foes. Alone, Harric must face the temptation of a forbidden magic that could break his curse, but cost him the only woman he’s ever loved. A tale of magic, mischief, and the triumph of tricksters.

May you read well and often

Joyce DiPastena - The Lady and the Minstrel

26. The Lady and the Minstrel by Joyce DiPastena (2015)
Length: 613 pages
Genre: Historical Romance
Started: 3 June 2015
Finished: 27 June 2015
Where did it come from? Many thanks to Kathy at Ebooks For Review for sending me a copy of this book to read.
How long has it been on my TBR pile? Since 8 April 2015
Why do I have it? I like historical romance and Joyce DiPastena is a new author for me.

During the reign of King John - in thirteenth-century England - Robert Marcel chafes under the law that holds him bound as a villein on his lord's manor; serving at the whim of his master and denied any chance at freedom. He attempts a daring escape, determined to leave everything behind - his family, his security, the only life that he's ever known - to seize the only viable chance he can see to determine his own fate. He is very nearly caught by his cruel master, but a young girl's quick thinking actions allow him to slip away.

Several years pass and Robert takes up trade as a minstrel; traveling around England and earning a living through plying his musical talent. Invited to play at the betrothal banquet of the notorious Earl of Saxton, Robert is stunned to come face to face with the one girl he's never forgotten - the girl whose single act of kindness towards him quite literally saved his life. She is now the Lady Marguerite of Winbourne, and she is betrothed to the earl. Robert is determined to find some way to show his gratitude to Lady Marguerite for the assistance she gave him so long ago, but her status as a noblewoman puts her completely beyond Robert's reach - yet he is completely smitten by her shy smile.

Lady Marguerite has often thought of the young man she helped escape. Over the intervening years since she crossed paths with the runaway serf, Marguerite has fondly remembered their brief encounter. She had always hoped that the small service she provided to the desperate young man might have helped him in some way, but was unsure if what she had done was actually successful. Marguerite has absolutely no idea if Robert remembers her, although she has never forgotten him.

Marguerite's tender feelings for Robert quickly turn into so much more when they are finally brought back into each other's lives. Despite the difference in their stations, Robert vows to himself that he will win Marguerite's hand, come what may - he knows they are meant to be together. Marguerite herself, longs to be free to marry Robert - her one true love - but that will require her to sacrifice all she holds dear.

Robert and Marguerite share a forbidden love and a past they just can't leave behind. They are tested at every turn by those who would do everything in their power to drive them apart - people whose every intention is to destroy what Robert and Marguerite have found together. Yet, can their love survive and truly conquer all?

I have always enjoyed reading historical romances - particularly those set in the Middle Ages. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book. At 613 pages, The Lady and the Minstrel by Joyce DiPastena is certainly long and very richly detailed - but by no means is the story dull or in any way over-written. The story itself was very well-written and strongly grounded in the medieval time period. I was quickly immersed in the plot and found myself wondering what would happen next.

This is the first book by Ms. DiPastena that I've ever read, but it certainly will not be my last. I have placed this author's name at the top at my Wish List, and give this book a definite A+!

A+! - (96-100%)

May you read well and often

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Christi J. Whitney - Grey

25. Grey by Christi J. Whitney (2015)
The Romany Outcasts Series Book 1
Length: 262 pages
Genre: Fantasy
Started: 14 June 2015
Finished: 25 June 2015
Where did it come from? I downloaded a copy of this book to read for free from Netgalley.
How long has it been on my TBR pile? Since 7 May 2015
Why do I have it? I like fantasy and Christi J. Whitney is a new author for me.

Sebastian Grey is just your normal, average high school senior. He's in the drama club at school - strictly as a 'behind-the-scenes' set designer - he has a circle of good friends, gets fairly decent grades, and has a pretty sweet job at his foster brother's tattoo shop: 'The Gypsy Ink'. All in all, Sebastian's life is going great for him. At least he's always thought so, and as long as nobody knows about Sebastian's strange dreams, his life will continue to be terrific.

For the past several months, Sebastian has dreamed of a girl - a Gypsy girl dancing around a nightly campfire somewhere deep in the forest. He doesn't think that much of his recurring dream, until his dream girl turns up at school. Then Sebastian begins to realize that his dream is not just some typical  teenage fantasy.

When a caravan of strangers arrives in town, Sebastian soon realizes that nothing about his world is what it seems. The caravan is filled with members of a carnival troupe - the 'Circe de Romany' - performers who come into town every two years. Suddenly, Sebastian finds himself surrounded by secretive gypsies, stalked by shadowy figures, feeling inexplicably strange and more volatile as time passes.

Sebastian has no idea what is happening to him, all he knows is that he's changing somehow. He also knows is that he needs to protect the girl at all costs. In fact, that's something that is becoming imperative. And Sebastian intends to protect her to the best of his ability, even if it means that he will never be normal again.

I absolutely loved reading this book. I usually do like reading anything that has to do with the Gypsy culture, and really felt a connection with the characters. In my opinion, this was quite an excellent start to the series, and I look forward to finding out where the story goes from here. I give this book a definite A!

A! - (90-95%)

May you read well and often

Monday, June 22, 2015

Megan Tayte - Death Wish

24. Death Wish by Megan Tayte (2015)
The Ceruleans Series Book 1
Length: 305 pages
Genre: Fantasy
Started: 6 June 2015
Finished: 22 June 2015
Where did it come from? Many thanks to Kathy at Ebooks For Review for sending me a copy of this book to read. I downloaded a second copy of this book from Amazon.
How long has it been on my TBR pile? Since 8 April 2015 from Kathy at Ebooks For Review; Since 19 June 2015 from Amazon.
Why do I have it? I like fantasy and Megan Tayte is a new author for me.

Seventeen-year-old Scarlett Blake had always felt that she had lived in the shadow of her older sister, Sienna. Sienna was eighteen: lovely, vivacious, dramatic, the life of the party. Which is why Scarlett is so haunted by her sister's sudden death. True, the sisters had never been especially close - even with a ten month age difference between them - but Scarlett had always felt a sisterly bond of some sort.

Her estranged sister, it seemed, had made the ultimate dramatic exit. Running away from her boarding school, joining a surfing fraternity on a lark, partying hard: that all sounded like typical Sienna-style antics to Scarlett. But walking fully clothed into the sea during a violent thunder storm after leaving a party - that didn't make any sense at all. Yes, Sienna was a wild child, she lived life right on the edge - but she wasn't suicidal. Scarlett knew how much Sienna loved life; loved living too much to throw it all away.

Determined to find out what really happened, Scarlett follows in her sister's footsteps. She arrives at the secluded English cove where Sienna had lived for the last few months of her life. She has come alone, determined to uncover the truth for herself. Yet she never reckoned on meeting two boys who are determined to help her.

There is Luke: the handsome blue-eyed surfer with the easy smile who'll see the real Scarlett, who'll challenge her, who'll save her. And Jude: the elusive, enigmatic drifter with a strange knack for turning up whenever Scarlett's in need.

As Scarlett's quest for the truth unravels, so too does her grip on reality as she knows it. Because there is something decidedly strange going on in this little cove. A gravely injured magpie suddenly circles the sky; a dying fawn watches her from the undergrowth. Hands glow with an inexplicable light; imbued with undeniable warmth and an indescribable feeling of power.

What transpires for Scarlett is a summer full of discoveries: discoveries about Sienna; and discoveries about herself. Learning what it means to conquer fear. Falling in love. Choosing life. Choosing death. A summer to believe the impossible.

I must say that I really enjoyed reading this book. In my opinion, it was poignant and well-written, and I found myself really feeling for the characters. I'm totally caught up in the story and want to know what happens next. This is actually the first book that I've read by this author, but I'm eagerly awaiting the next book in the series. I give Death Wish by Megan Tayte an A! and will definitely be putting Megan Tayte's name on my Wish List.

A! - (90-95%)

May you read well and often

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Book Excerpt For BlindSight by Susan Peterson Wisnewski

Hello Everyone! I hope that you're all having a wonderful day today. I'm so glad to welcome Susan Peterson Wisnewski author of the Paranormal Suspense/Thriller novel BlindSight, to Emeraldfire's Bookmark. Ms. Wisnewski is currently on a Book Excerpt Blog Tour with Pump up Your Book! lasting through the end of June. This is also my twentieth Book Excerpt post ever, but I still hope that I do BlindSight by Susan Peterson Wisnewski justice.

The author is also doing an awesome giveaway - she is giving away a $25 Amazon Gift Card to one lucky winner at the end of her Book Excerpt Blog Tour. Be sure to fill out the Rafflecopter form below, and I wish you all the very best of good luck in taking part!

About BlindSight:

Life is already bad enough after Tisha Adams loses both her job and her beautiful Manhattan apartment. Living in a musty garage apartment and working for her uncle in Queens, her life is upended when she witnesses a murder on her train commute.

When the body disappears, she teams up with Detective Murphy, a man with mysterious abilities. But Tisha is keeping a secret of her own, a skill she’s always hated and feared. The dead speak to her. And if she touches a person, their past, present and future are revealed to her.

But as the body count rises, and those closest to Tisha are drawn into the nightmare, Tisha’s only choice is to reach out to her estranged grandmother to learn more about her intuitive talents. In a race against the clock to rescue those in danger and solve the murders, she’ll need all her abilities. Even the gift she’s been afraid to use. The dead will speak, but only if she’s willing to listen.

Purchase your copy from Amazon and Barnes and Noble!

Meet Susan Peterson Wisnewski 

Susan Peterson Wisnewski is an indie author from the northeast. She writes thrillers and paranormal with a sprinkling of chick lit and horror.

From a cruncher of numbers to a stringer of words, she decided it was time to follow her dreams and put down on paper all of those stories that floated around in her head. Raised in New York City and Long Island, she is a consummate shopaholic having been given the gift of style from her mother and grandmother. When not writing, she can be found shopping, visiting museums, gardening, or being walked by her oversized puppy.

Her books are a genre mix all neatly packaged together. Surprise and twists keep her readers guessing and she has been accused of writing books that can’t be put down. Pushing characters to challenges themselves is her trademark as is a creating strong female characters – no damsels in distress here. Her inspiration comes from seeing a situation and then enhancing it to create an unusual story line. And yes, she does see ghosts, or spirits as they prefer to be called and has had her run ins with a fairy or two.

If you have a book club and live on Long Island or in the Southern Vermont area, she’d be happy to come for a visit.

Her latest book is the thriller/paranormal/suspense, BlindSight.

Connect and Socialize with Susan!

Win a $25 Amazon Gift Card From Susan Peterson Wisnewski!

This is how it works. Fill out the Rafflecopter form below and comment on each blog stop to win 5 extra entries!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

BlindSight Book Excerpt #8

The three of us sat waiting while an awkward silence engulfed us. I could hear my heart pounding and sweat began to accumulate under my arms. I needed to break the silence.

“I'm Tisha,” I said.

“Ken, and this is my sister Barbara,” Ken offered me his hand.

I looked at his hand that taunted me to touch it. As much as I wanted to shake, I couldn’t. I have a secret. I see things. When I touch another person’s hand I can see their past, their future, their secrets, and it scares the hell out of me. Two people know about it. Maybe three and I want to keep it that way.

“Nice to meet you. I don’t want to be rude, but I’m getting over a nasty cold and don’t want to spread it. Forgive me if I don’t shake your hand,” I added.

I thought about what he said. Ken and Barbara, Ken and Barbie. Well at least we have something in common. We both have parents with a sick sense of humor. My name is, or I should say was, Morticia Adams. My brother was named Gomez William Adams. My mother thought it was cute to name us after strange sitcom characters from the 70s, or so that is what I’ve been told. She skipped out on my family a long, long time ago. I legally changed my name to Tisha when I turned eighteen. My brother goes by the name Bill, his middle name.

I wanted to make conversation, but didn't know what to say. The thought of what I had just witnessed was weighing me down. The way the victim flew back after he was shot and the blood that spewed from his chest was sure to give me nightmares. The gravity of life and death and it all being over in a second had hit me hard. What could be so bad that you needed to take another life? It didn’t make any sense.

May you read well and often

Monday, June 1, 2015

Our Library Visit For June

Hello Everyone! How are you on this fine Monday? I'm doing just fine. :) Well, today is my birthday and as my special birthday request I asked to go to our local library's perpetual book sale and buy up the place. I was told 'the sky's the limit' as regards the number of books I could buy. However, my mom planned to be really strict with herself and not buy that many books. I think that I persuaded her to rethink her plan - after all it's my birthday and I don't mind sharing the good fortune with her; she's my mom! LOL!!! ;)

I think that I actually said to her, "As Birthday Girl, I decree that I be allowed to choose some of my mother's reading material today, and if 'the sky's the limit' for me, then that must also extend to my choice of books for my mom. As Birthday Girl, this is my decree, and I only ask that my mother doesn't limit me - Please!?!" I don't think that she can resist my 'Imperious Birthday Girl' tone - I use it so sparingly! ;) LOL!!!

Anyway, she and I got to the library at approximately 12:45 P. M., and a couple of close family friends met us there to wish me a very happy birthday and drop off a surprise picnic lunch for us to eat. It was drizzling rain very lightly, so we udecided to save the picnic until we arrived home. That left us carrying two coolers around with us until about 3:30 P. M. It actually worked out fairly well, as we set both coolers down beside a bench - the coolers were both slightly obscured from the sight of others, but still visible to us while we browsed the book sale that was set up in the same room.

Between us, we bought 50 books - 22 paperbacks and 28 hardcovers - and 5 jigsaw puzzles. We spent approximately $69 - $59 on books, and $10 on jigsaw puzzles. It turned out to be a pretty good haul for a birthday outing, if I do say so myself. ;) We actually ended up leaving the library with a total of seven full bags - that would be the two full coolers, a canvas bag, paper bag and two plastic bags full of books, and another paper bag for the jigsaw puzzles. We were loaded right up, but we had so much fun together.

At the moment, I'm debating whether to start reading The Lady and the Minstrel by Joyce DiPastena or Witchcraft Couture by Katarina West.

May you read well and often