Barefoot Saturday: You and Me

You and Me
Written by Stella Blackstone
Illustrated by Giovanni Manna
Ages 1 to 4
Large Format Board Book

Imagine yourself in a variety of situations along with the boy and girl in this simple rhyming text. As they play an imaginary game of opposites and contrasts, the children explore valleys and hills, light and dark, and hot and cold, but find that in the end, it’s best when “You’re you, and I’m me.”

You and Me is one of my favorite books in the Barefoot Books catalog. As you turn each page, your child will learn about opposites in a very imaginative way. The illustrations by Giovanni Manna are absolutely beautiful. To me, each page is a work of art.

When I read this book to my girls, my voice gets very soft and calm. The rhymes are very soothing as are the pictures.  Usually, my daughter and I will play a little game. I will read the first page and she will say the opposite from the next page. It’s fun watching her little mind work out what the opposite is.

Book Blogger Hop (8) & FF Friday

The Book Blogger Hop was originally created by Jennifer from Crazy-For-Books in March 2010 and ended December 31, 2012.

Luckily, Billy from Coffee Addicted Writer will relaunch the Book Blogger Hop. Each week the hop will start on a Friday and end on Thursday. There will be a weekly prompt just like before. The hop’s purpose will remain the same as it will give bloggers a chance to follow other blogs, learn about new books, befriend other bloggers, and receive new followers to your own blog.

Q: What are your thoughts on verification codes?
A: My answer is very simple. I don’t like them. If I have to verify that I’m not a robot when making a comment then I won’t comment. It’s that simple.

The Feature & Follow is hosted by TWO hosts, Parajunkee of Parajunkee’s View and Alison of Alison Can Read. Each host will have their own Feature Blog and this way it’ll allow us to show off more new blogs!

Q: Tell us about the most emotional scene you’ve ever read in a book – how did you react?
A: The first thing that came to my mind is in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows where Harry is walking in the Forbidden Forest with his family to meet Voldemort and he knows he will die. I remember I was 8 months pregnant and sitting at my kitchen table with my 2 year old daughter. I just started crying and I couldn’t stop. Every time I read that scene I break down. It was so powerful to me.

Why I love to Read by Liesel Hill

Why I love to Read

Drama Queen
by Liesel Hill

Why I Love to Read

Why do I love to read so much? It’s a valid question, given that the bookish community is just one corner of the world, albeit the most important one. ;D

The simple, all-encompassing answer is that I’m a bit of a drama queen. *waits patiently for you to recover from your shock* I know, I know. How could I be a drama queen? I mean, I only write stories about scary collective entities that murder individuals (Persistence of Vision), ferocious dragons and evils sorcerers, locked in battles that threaten to tear the world apart (WIP) and sadistic medieval dictators who rule over Eastern chaos and try to come up with new and more interesting ways to kill people (Citadels of Fire, out 9/2013). But me? A drama queen? Of course not!

Seriously though– *sticks out tongue and crosses eyes* –I think I’m a drama queen at heart, but I’ve had such an awesome life. My parents were loving and supportive. I’m very close with all of my siblings. I have friends I’ve known since junior high that I still hang with (on occasion). I live in the greatest country in the world. And I’ve been taught the basic Christian values of family, justice, honesty, and hard work. I mean, what do I have to complain about?

But drama is a human condition—I’d argue it’s even a human emotion—and we all need to vent sometimes. Reading allows me to do that. It allows all of us to get lost in worlds where the conflicts are real enough for us to care about, but not real enough that we actually have to deal with them. It’s a place where characters are likable, even when they’re not (as opposed to real people) and the bad guys are oh-so-tangible and vanquishable. It’s so much easier to wrap our heads around fictional conflicts than our own.

I’m a firm believer, though, that while also providing much needed relief and entertainment, getting lost in fiction also helps us build up our own characters and face our own real problems with more courage and confidence. Even if we don’t like how a character handles a situation, we’ve decided, by default, how we would handle it. And so, our own character grows.

The stuff I read (when it’s awesome) gives me courage and insight into the mystery that is our universe. If what I write does that for anyone else on any level, than all the reading I’ve ever done has been all kinds of worth it.

Here’s to coming up with noble-sounding excuses to read for hours on end. Cheers! ;P

Waiting on Wednesday: Long Live the King

Waiting On” Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we’re eagerly anticipating.
My Waiting on Wednesday:

Long Live the King by Fay Weldon
To be released on May 7, 2013

From the award-winning writer of the original Upstairs Downstairs—the second novel in an irresistible trilogy about an Earl’s family and his servants at the turn of the twentieth century.
As 1901 comes to an end, there is much to be grateful for: The Dilberne fortune has been restored, and the grand Dilberne Court, with its one hundred rooms, has been saved. Lord Robert’s son, Arthur, is happily married to Chicago heiress, Minnie, who is pregnant and trying to come to terms with her new role as lady of the manor, and her charming but controlling mother-in-law, Lady Isobel. As Lord Robert and Lady Isobel get caught up in the preparations of the coronation of Edward VII, they debate the future of their recently orphaned niece, Adela. Isobel and Minnie want to take her in; Robert and Arthur do not. While they argue, Adela runs away and joins a travelling group of spiritualists and has a life-saving run-in with the king. With Long Live the King, Fay Weldon continues the magnificent trilogy that began with Habits of the House. As the award-winning writer for the pilot episode of the original Upstairs Downstairs, Weldon brings her deservedly famous wit and insight to this novel of love and desire, morals and manners.

Review: Angelopolis by Danielle Trussoni

Angelopolis by Danielle Trussoni (Angelology #2)
Published by Penguin Group (Viking)
Released on March 26, 2013
302 pages
Received hardcover from publisher for review


Hailed by USA Today as “a thrill ride best described as The Da Vinci Code meets Raiders of the Lost Ark,” Danielle Trussoni’s bestselling first novel, Angelology, wove biblical lore, the Orpheus myth, and Milton’s Rebel Angels into a present-day world tinged with the divine supernatural. The novel plunged two endearing loners—art historian V. A. Verlaine and Evangeline, a beautiful young nun—into an ancient battle between a secret society and mankind’s most insidious enemies: angel-human hybrids known as the Nephilim.

Now a decade has passed since Verlaine saw Evangeline alight from the Brooklyn Bridge, the sight of her wings a betrayal that haunts him still. The Nephilim are again on the rise, scheming to construct their own paradise—the Angelopolis—and ruthlessly pursued by Verlaine in his new calling as an angel hunter. But when Evangeline materializes, Verlaine is besieged by doubts that will only grow as forces more powerful than even the Nephilim draw them from Paris to Saint Petersburg and deep into the provinces of Siberia and the Black Sea coast. A high-octane tale of abduction and liberation, treasure seeking and divine warfare, Angelopolis plumbs Russia’s imperial past, modern genetics, and the archangel Gabriel’s famous visitations to conceive a fresh tableau of history and myth that will, once again, enthrall readers the world over.

In Angelopolis, Danielle Trussoni continues her wonderful Angelology trilogy that will take you places that you never dreamed of. The war continues but who are the heroes and the villains? After you read this book, which side will you be on?

The story begins with Verlaine, ten years after he last saw Evangeline. He is now a extremely dedicated angel hunter. He hunts, captures and kills every angel that he comes across. His mission is clear until he sees Evangeline again. I love his internal conflict. Once again, which side will he choose. Ms. Trussoni has written his character to be obsessive in dealing with Evangeline. She is his addiction. Can he hunt her down like all his other conquests or will he submit to her seductive and beautiful nature? His struggle is intense and will take him to Russia and delve deeper into angelology lore.

I love that Ms. Trussoni took the readers to Russia. To me, angels and Romanovs fit perfectly together. Her references to the royal family and Rasputin pulls you further into the war between angels and humans. During the Romanov reign, Russia seemed so Gothic; the perfect backdrop for angelic warfare. Ms. Trussoni’s choice of Russia fits perfectly with the struggle of angelic resurrection; the rise and fall, and rise again, of Russia.

Unlike in Angelology, I found more sympathy for the Nephilim in Angelopolis. The horrific methods of angelologists put their justifications in doubt. Even Verlaine, at a specific moment, was able to feel some guilt and sympathy about their treatment. Specifically, there is a angel prison deep in the Siberian tundra. The conditions are horrible and treatment of the angels is even worse. Experimentation and torture are the norm. Even in war, is that acceptable? It makes you think, which side am I on?

New angels are introduced that will further confuse your loyalties; pure angels whose goals are unknown. In the end, Verlaine and Evangeline must make difficult choices. Will their choices end the world as they know it? The third book should answer that question and I can’t wait to read it!


Review: Yours Affectionately, Jane Austen

Yours Affectionately, Jane Austen by Sally Smith O’Rourke
Published by 2012
Published in Victorian Essence Press
261 pages
Historical/Austenesque Fiction
Was Mr. Darcy real? Is time travel really possible? For pragmatic Manhattan artist Eliza Knight the answer to both questions is absolutely, YES? And Fitzwilliam Darcy of Pemberley Farms is the reason why!
His tale of love and romance in Regency England leaves Eliza in no doubt that Fitz Darcy is the embodiment of Jane Austen’s legendary hero. And she’s falling in love with him. But can the man who loved the inimitable Jane Austen ever love average, ordinary Eliza Knight?
Eliza’s doubts grow, perhaps out of proportion, when things start to happen in the quiet hamlet of Chawton, England; events that could change everything. Will the beloved author become the wedge that divides Fitz and Eliza or the tie that binds them?
Yours Affectionately, Jane Austen is a delightful and sweet story about the modern-day Mr. Darcy that may have inspired Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. It is the sequel to The Man Who Loved Jane Austen and I wish that I had read that book before diving into this one. This book could be read as a stand-alone book; but, I would not recommend it. By reading both, you would get a better understanding of the story and the characters.
At its heart, this book about time travel, love-at-first-sight, and Jane Austen. There are three parallel stories going on throughout the book, past and present. All three are sweet and converge together at the end. First, you have Jane Austen missing her Mr. Darcy. Second, you have Simmons traveling through time to find Mr. Darcy. And finally, you have Eliza and Fit, the present, trying to find each other. All of them are intertwined and all of them touched by Ms. Austen.
I really enjoyed Ms. O’Rourke’s Jane Austen. She is a fun and loving aunt and sister. She is also extremely humble and modest about her work. However, at the same time, she is very proud of it. My favorite part of the book is when a man confronts her at a party saying that she has no business writing novels. She is very passionate in her response in defending her writing. To her uncle says one of favorite quotes:

I think a person who does not take pleasure in a good novel must be intolerably stupid.

I love that! This scene is also, indicative of her position as a woman in the Regency Period. She would have loved to say that to the rude man but she couldn’t; she had to rely on her uncle to give the insult.
As you can probably tell, my favorite parts of the book were about Jane. However, I did enjoy the budding romance between Fitz and Eliza. They are so tentative but at the same time passionate about each other. I really like that love-at-first-sight meant, to Fitz and Eliza, being home. I thought that was so romantic. Big sigh!
If you enjoy Austenesque fiction, I would definitely try Yours Affectionately, Jane Austen. But remember to read The Man Who Loved Jane Austen first. I think you will have a better experience.



About the Author:
“Where shall I begin? Which of all my important nothings shall I tell you first?” (J.A. June 15, 1808)
That I reside in the Victorian village of Monrovia, California; a mere two miles from my place of employment, The City Of Hope. COH is a cancer research hospital where I spend most daylight hours in the operating room as a scrub nurse.
That I am a native Californian, having been born in Glendale, and spent most of my life here with a relatively short span of years in Reno, Nevada where I attended school. Returning after graduation I have remained in sunny SoCal.
That I was widowed some time ago. That I have very domestic hobbies like sewing, cooking, baking, candy making and cake decorating. Oh, yeah I write, too. Mike, my late husband and teacher, taught me that writing has to be treated like a job so every day no matter how tired I am I edit, research one or more projects and write.
That presently I am finishing up the sequel to The Man Who Loves Jane Austen with Yours Affectionately, Jane Austen; have started a story of reincarnation that takes place in Pasadena, CA and am making notes for a ghost story set in San Francisco. Three stories running around in my head and often colliding but I untangle the debris and continue on.
There you have a few of my nothings.
Visit Sally at her website: Austenticity ~ The Everything Austen Site
and on Facebook Sally Smith O’Rourke and Twitter @Chawton1810

Barefoot Saturday

Starting this Saturday, I starting my Barefoot Saturday posts. I will be telling you all about my love for Barefoot Books, highlighting my favorite books and promoting the latest specials. I have recently signed up to be a Barefoot Ambassador and I’m so excited. Barefoot Books is a wonderful independent children’s book publisher who release beautiful, imaginative and creative books for children of all ages. My girls have been reading these books for almost eight years. They absolutely love them.

Barefoot, also, is a huge promoter of healthy living. There are so many books about being green. Their website has so many resources on how to raise your children in a healthy environment.

Cultural diversity is another major aspect of Barefoot Books. Your child can learn about so many different cultures by reading Barefoot Books. My daughters love books about China. They learn so much.

Each book is a work of art. The illustrations are amazing and beautiful! Your child will be totally engrossed in every book with all the bright colors and images.

The first book I’m highlighting is Animal Boogie. It is one of the first books I purchased from Barefoot. It is a wonderful singalong book with a CD which you can pop into your car CD player or download onto your iPod. Barefoot created a great video to accompany the book.

I love this book so much I want to give one away! Place an order through my website (just click the Start Shopping button on the right) and enter the giveaway!

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The Animal Boogie

Can you boogie? Down in the Indian jungle, the children and animals are learning about actions like leaping, stomping, shaking and flapping while meeting different jungle creatures.

Book with enhanced CD edition includes an animated video with audio singalong sung by acclaimed children’s performer Fred Penner.

Winner of the Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Gold & Platinum Awards
Society of School Librarians International Honor Book

Ages 3 to 7 years
Illustrated By: Debbie Harter
Sung By: Fred Penner

Book Blogger Hop (7) & FF Friday

The Book Blogger Hop was originally created by Jennifer from Crazy-For-Books in March 2010 and ended December 31, 2012.

 Luckily, Billy from Coffee Addicted Writer will relaunch the Book Blogger Hop. Each week the hop will start on a Friday and end on Thursday. There will be a weekly prompt just like before. The hop’s purpose will remain the same as it will give bloggers a chance to follow other blogs, learn about new books, befriend other bloggers, and receive new followers to your own blog.

Q:  What are the top 5 books you would grab in an emergency?
A:  If my house was on fire AND I have the opportunity to save some books, I would grab my entire hardback collection of Jane Austen. My husband gave them to me for our 1st wedding anniversary and they are from Oxford Press. Beautiful books! Besides being Jane Austen, they have incredible sentimental value.

The Feature & Follow is hosted by TWO hosts, Parajunkee of Parajunkee’s View and Alison of Alison Can Read. Each host will have their own Feature Blog and this way it’ll allow us to show off more new blogs!

Q:  What is your guilty pleasure as far as reading? Is it a genre, or is it a certain type of book?
A:  My guilty pleasure is some good urban fantasy; especially Jeaniene Frost, Ilona Andrews and Kelley Armstrong.

HFVBT: Review & Giveaway of The Bruges Tapestry

The Bruges Tapestry by P.A. Staes
Published by CreateSpace
Published on August 29, 2012
254 pages
Historical Fiction
I received this book from Historical Fiction Virtual Blog Tour in exchange for an honest review.


Following a 500-year-old mystery concerning a Flemish tapestry is routine work for Detective Claire DeMaer, since she’s employed by the Newport Beach Art Theft Detail. But, unlike past cases, this one involves arresting Paolo Campezzi, lover to her best friend Nora. Mr. Campezzi is a distant descendant of a Florentine Duke, who commissioned the tapestry in 1520 in Bruges, Belgium.

Claire finds that she must explore the true provenance of the tapestry, free Mr. Campezzi in order to re-establish her friendship with Nora and depend on the expertise of a textile expert she doesn’t know. All this must occur in 72 hours, before the Vatican takes the tapestry back.

But Claire isn’t the only one with the Vatican looking over her shoulder. Claire’s story intertwines with a 1520 diary by Beatrice van Hecke, the tapestry-weaver’s daughter. Only Claire can discover the secret that is woven in time.

I found The Bruges Tapestry to be a very engaging story from the very beginning. I loved the story of the tapestry; however, I wish the book focused more on the tapestry rather than the other subplots. The tapestry’s story makes a wonderful story all in itself.

The story begins in 1544 with a very distraught girl named Beatrice, the daughter of a tapestry maker. Her story is heartbreaking and it reeks of the abuses of the Catholic Church. To me, Beatrice should have been the main character of this book. She is such a strong young girl for her time and faced tremendous horrors. I wanted to read more about her life. Her story ended much too abruptly.

Next, we meet Claire who I’m not too crazy about. She is an art theft detective in present day. She investigates the alleged (yes, I’m an attorney) theft of the tapestry. I really enjoyed the mystery surrounding the tapestry. Her unraveling of the tapestry’s history was so intriguing. It kept me engaged in the book when her life issues bogged me down. I thought Claire’s issues with her family and her former lover distracted from the story of the tapestry.

Overall, I enjoyed this book with some distractions. I loved the tapestry and I wanted more. I wanted to know more about Beatrice and her Duke; less about Claire and her issues. This is a fun historical mystery and I think readers will enjoy it.

About the author:
P.A. Staes is the author of The Bruges Tapestry; the first of the Clare DeMaere series of historical mysteries. To lend veracity to The Bruges Tapestry Ms. Staes traveled to Stirling Castle in Scotland, The Victoria and Albert Museum in London, The Cluny Museum and Gobelin Factory in Paris, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art and The Cloisters to bring alive the rich and romantic world of tapestry. Ms. Staes lives in Southern California with her husband and two dogs.

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Virtual Book Tour Schedule

Monday, March 18
Review & Giveaway at Peeking Between the Pages
Tuesday, March 19
Review at Book Lovers Paradise
Review & Giveaway at Unabridged Chick
Wednesday, March 20
Review at Turning the Pages
Guest Post at Book Lovers Paradise
Thursday, March 21
Review & Giveaway at Kinx’s Book Nook
Friday, March 22
Review at A Book Geek
Monday, March 25
Review at A Bookish Affair
Review at Flashlight Commentary
Tuesday, March 26
Review at Ageless Pages Reviews
Wednesday, March 27
Review at Confessions of an Avid Reader
Thursday, March 28
Review at The Book Garden
Interview at The Maiden’s Court
Friday, March 29
Guest Post at Broken Teepee
Tuesday, April 2
Review at A Chick Who Reads
Wednesday, April 3
Guest Post at A Chick Who Reads
Thursday, April 4
Review at Book of Secrets
Review & Giveaway at Oh, for the Hook of a Book!
Friday, April 5
Review at Broken Teepee

Spring Cleaning Giveaway Hop

2nd Annual Spring Cleaning Giveaway Hop

It’s time for some spring cleaning!

This is your chance to clear out your overflowing bookshelf and pass some of your books on to other booklovers.  Time to pass on those books that just weren’t for you or the review copies that you are never going to get read.

And boy, do I have a box of books for you! Take a look

  • Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Seth Grahame-Smith
  • The Giving Quilt by Jennifer Chiaverini
  • The Lost Prince by Selden Edwards
  • A Tainted Dawn by B.N. Price
  • Savages by Don Winslow
  • The Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling
  • Jack by A.M. Homes
  • The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde

All you have to do is complete the rafflecopter form below! Good luck!

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