Giveaway: $50 Gift Certificate to Shabby Apple!


Today, I'm happy to announce a giveaway for a $50 gift certificate to Shabby Apple, an online clothing store specializing in modern outfits inspired by vintage clothing!

There are so many beautiful dresses and outfits to choose from at Shabby Apple! 

 The ballerina inspired Bloom Skirt is one of my favorites!



I also love the new Ferris Wheel line, including the Blue Racer Skirt and Sea Breeze Dress!



Stop by Shabby Apple for more dresses and outfits inspired by vintage clothing, and enter below for your chance to win a $50 GC to spend on your favorite item!

GIVEAWAY RULES
Shabby Apple has generously provided a $50 gift certificate for a lucky reader of my blog.
All you have to do is follow my blog publicly and fill out the Rafflecopter form below. Please follow publicly or I can't tell that you are following :)
  • US/CAN only
  • Must be a follower to enter
  • Gift certificate will be mailed out by the publisher
  • Must be 18 or over 
  • Ends May 6
Thanks to everyone for entering! Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Giveaway! "A Wedding in Springtime"

"A Wedding in Springtime"
 by Amanda Forester

Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
Release Date: May 7, 2013

Summary from goodreads.com:

Five minutes into Miss Eugenia Talbot's presentation at court, notorious rogue Mr. William Grant made her laugh, ruining her debut. To hush up the scandal, Eugenia's aunt hires a matchmaker to quickly find a suitor— anyone except the infamous William Grant—to help restore Eugenia's reputation. But amiable Eugenia shows a disturbing tendency to follow her heart, and is again caught in the company of notorious Grant. When a traitor creeps closer, threatening to ruin more than just Eugenia's reputation, her kindheartedness may be her ultimate undoing...



Sourcebooks has generously offered a copy of "A Wedding in Springtime" to a lucky reader of my blog! To keep with the wedding theme, please share your wedding stories in the comments!! It could be your best/worst wedding story, a celebrity wedding you wish you would have attended, the best/worst wedding gift you received, or your favorite/worst part of your wedding, etc. Let's all play along and have fun with it!





GIVEAWAY RULES
The publisher has generously provided a paperback copy of "A Wedding in Springtime" for a lucky reader of my blog.
All you have to do is follow my blog publicly and fill out the Rafflecopter form below. Please follow publicly or I can't tell that you are following :)
  • US/CAN only
  • Must be a follower to enter
  • Books will be mailed out by the publisher
  • Must be 18 or over 
  • Ends May 1
Thanks to everyone for entering! Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway



Crayola's 110th Birthday Celebration!

 Happy 110th Birthday, Crayola!

Visit Crayola's Facebook page to find out how you can enter to win a trip for 4 to the Crayola Experience!


To celebrate their 110th birthday, the 8 original crayons are throwing a birthday bash at the new fun-omenal Crayola Experience, the world's only interactive Crayola family attraction. Right now, they're out on a colorful adventure to spread the news, and you're invited to join the fun!

How can you join in on the fun? You can FOLLOW the crayons on their adventure, LEARN more about each color and enter to WIN a trip for 4 to celebrate their birthday and the Grand Opening of the all new Crayola Experience this coming May, 2013!

Visit the Crayola Facebook page and click "enter now" for your chance to be first in line when the Crayola Experience reopens.

The new Crayola Experience features four floors of new interactive exhibits and one-of-a-kind attractions that will bring the magic of color and your child's creativity to life! The winner will be among the first to experience the fun, along with a three- night, all-expenses paid stay. It's an experience your kids will never forget - and neither will you!


Disclosure: Crayola provided the information that I have posted, and will be providing a 110th Anniversary pack in exchange for the post.

"Secrets from the Past" Feature and $20 Amazon GC Giveaway!

Today, I'd like to feature Barbara Taylor Bradford's new book, "Secrets from the Past", along with a giveaway for a $20 gift card to Amazon.com!


"Secrets from the Past"
by Barbara Taylor Bradford
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Release Date: April 9, 2013


Summary from goodreads.com:

From the #1 New York Times bestselling author comes a powerful and emotional novel about one woman’s quest to uncover long-buried secrets about her family--secrets she will stop at nothing to uncover, no matter the consequences. At thirty, American photojournalist Serena Stone has already made a name for herself with her unique and dramatic coverage of wars in the Middle East, following in her famous father’s footsteps.  But after his unexpected death in France, she ends her job at the renowned photo news agency, weary of years of danger.  Leaving the front lines behind, Serena returns to New York where she starts work on a biography of her celebrated father.  When Serena discovers that her former lover Zachary North is in trouble overseas, she's forced to leave the safety of her new life, and head back to a place she was trying to escape...and her life will never be the same again. As she brings Zac back to health in Venice, she discovers a shocking secret in the archives of her late father’s work.  It is a secret that will propel her back to war-torn Libya, risking her life looking for clues that she hopes will piece together the mystery surrounding her parents’ marriage and the part of their life together that she never knew.

Well-kept secrets, passionate love, obsession, betrayal, redemption, and the power of the past to control the future propel Secrets from the Past, the explosive new novel from The New York Times bestselling author Barbara Taylor Bradford

About the Author
Barbara Taylor Bradford was born and brought up in England, and started her writing career as a journalist. She has written twenty-seven international bestsellers. This is her twenty-eighth novel. In 2007 Queen Elizabeth awarded her the OBE for her literary achievements. She currently lives in New York with her husband, TV and film producer Robert Bradford.

Twitter Page: https://twitter.com/BTBNovelist
Giveaway

GIVEAWAY RULES:

The author and publicist have generously provided a $20 gift card to Amazon.com for a lucky follower of my blog!
All you have to do is follow my blog publicly and fill out the Rafflecopter form below. Please follow publicly or I can't tell that you are following :)
  • US only
  • Must be a follower to enter
  • Gift card will be mailed out by the publisher
  • Must be 18 or over 
  • Ends April 28
Thanks to everyone for entering! Good luck!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

"The Lady and Her Monsters" Review

"The Lady and Her Monsters"
by Roseanne Montillo

Publisher: William Morrow
Release Date: Feb 5, 2013
Source: sent by publisher

My Rating: 4.5 of 5 Stars

Summary from goodreads.com:
The macabre meets art in this startling blend of grotesque nineteenth-century science and fascinating literary creation that examines the actual Victor Frankenstein's and the real-life horrors behind Mary Shelley's gothic masterpiece, Frankenstein

A highly entertaining blend of literary analysis, lore, and scientific history, told with the verve and ghoulish fun of a Tim Burton film, The Lady and Her Monsters traces the origins of the greatest horror story of all time-Mary Shelley's Frankenstein-using the novel as a centerpiece from which to explore the frightful milieu in which it was written. Roseanne Montillo recounts how Shelley's Victor Frankenstein mirrored actual scientists of the period-curious and daring iconoclasts, influenced by their predecessors in the scientific age, who were obsessed with the inner workings of the human body and how it could be reanimated after death.

Montillo reveals how Shelley and her contemporaries were products of their time-intellectually curious artists, writers, poets, philosophers, and others intrigued by the occultists and daring scientists appearing across Europe who risked their reputations and their immortal souls to advance our understanding of human anatomy and medicine. But their remarkable experiments could not be undertaken without the cutthroat grave robbers who prowled cemeteries for fresh corpses. The newly dead were used for both private and very public autopsies and dissections, as well as the most daring trials of all: attempts at human reanimation involving electricity-experiments eagerly attended by the likes of Shelley and other onlookers compelled by the bloody and grotesque.

Juxtaposing the monstrous mechanization and exploitation of rising industrialism with the sublime beauty and decadence of Romanticism embodied in the legendary artists who defined the age, Montillo takes us into a world where poets become legends in salons and boudoirs; where fame-hungry "doctors" conduct shocking performances for rabid, wide-eyed audiences; where maniacal body snatchers secretly toil in castle dungeons. The result is a unique, rich, and revealing look into the creation of a classic.

My Review:

I'm fascinated by all things related to Frankenstein and the author, Mary Shelley, so I knew I had to read this book. The book is a great addition to any fan's library, and I was not disappointed. Yes, the subject matter here is definitely a little graphic in the beginning. I had no idea that scientists were doing that many experiments on reanimating the body, and the author does not shy away from the details. Equally shocking is the lengths that the scientists went to in order to obtain human bodies to experiment on, including grave robbing.

I greatly enjoyed the biographical information about Mary Shelley herself and her partners in crime, Percy Shelley, Lord Byron. Some of this was familar to me, but I did learn a lot of new things about Mary, Percy, and Byron. I learned a lot more about her family as well. Shelley doesn't make her first appearance in the book until about the halfway point though.

I think fans of Frankenstein, or the author Mary Shelley, will want to add this book to their collection. It's definitely got a shock factor that some of the other non-fictional works don't have. I think it will also appeal to fans of the horror genre in general.



Bottom Line: A great way to learn more about Mary Shelley and the background that inspired her to write Frankenstein.


"Tempestuous" Review

"Tempestuous: A Twisted Lit Novel"
by Kim Askew and Amy Helmes

Publisher: Merit Press
Release Date: Dec 18, 2012
Source: sent by publisher

My Rating: 5 of 5 Stars

Summary from goodreads.com:
Recently banished, unfairly, by the school’s popular crowd, former “it girl,” Miranda Prospero, finds herself in a brave new world: holding dominion amongst a rag-tag crew of geeks and misfits where she works at the Hot-Dog Kabob in the food court of her local mall. When the worst winter storm of the season causes mall workers and last-minute shoppers to be snowed-in for the night, Miranda seizes the opportunity to get revenge against the catty clique behind her social exile. With help from her delightfully dweeby coworker, Ariel, and a sullen loner named Caleb who works at the mall’s nearby gaming and magic shop, Miranda uses charm and trickery to set things to right during this spirited take on Shakespeare’s The Tempest.

My Review:

This book was adorable and so much fun! I can see it being made into a great teen movie! It actually reminded me of another movie set in a mall, think "Paul Blart Mall Cop" if the mall were run by teenagers with no adults.

The book was complete read on its own, but I do feel like I was missing out because I have never read or seen "The Tempest" by William Shakespeare, the work that this book is based upon. I tried to find some info about the play online but I really couldn't come up with that many similarities without reading the play. But the absolute best part of the book, and other books like this, is that now I want to read the original work! Hopefully this series will introduce younger readers to classic books and encourage them to read the originals as well!

The story is a fun overnight romp at the local mall, with a lively cast of characters. Miranda and Caleb being handcuffed together was one of my favorite storylines. He really had that teen bad boy thing going for him, but it seemed like Miranda always took the lead! The fact that Miranda used to actually be one of the "mean girls" took that storyline to a level that you don't usually see.


Main Characters: 4/5
Supporting Characters: 4/5
Setting: 5/5

Romance: 4/5

Uniqueness: 5/5
Cover: 4/5
Writing: 4/5


Bottom Line: This book is a such a fun story, perfect for the next big teen movie! I'm definitely inspired to read the Shakespeare play, "The Tempest", now!

Giveaway: Dodinsky Poster and Signed Bookmark!

 As part of the March of Positivity and to celebrate the release of "In the Garden of Thoughts" by Dodinsky, I am hosting a giveaway of a Dodinsky poster and a signed bookmark!

To share the positivity, I would like to share this quote from Dodinsky:

  “I believe wherever dreams dwell, the heart calls it HOME. So may you untangle yourself from the twist of melancholy and let your thoughts carry you back to the birthplace of your truth.”



"In the Garden of Thoughts"
by Dodinsky, illus by Amanda Cass
Publisher: Sourcebooks
Release Date: April 2, 2013

About the Book: In the Garden of Thoughts is a gift book that reduces the complexities of life into simple universal truths. It is a collection of short and poignant thoughts widely embraced by my readers and accompanied by whimsical and delightful illustrations to capture a reader’s imagination.
About Dodinsky: His intent was simply to share his reflections about life in order to help heal the wounds inflicted by life’s troubles. At the time, the man known by his readers as Dodinsky had no idea that within months of starting his blog In the Garden of Thoughts, thousands of readers would find healing through the modest words he planted.
The focus of Dodinsky’s short writings–love, compassion, growth, tolerance, and self-worth–clearly resonate with his readers, whom Dodinsky calls “gardeners.” His page has become a community in which people from all walks of life share their own stories.
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/thegardenofthoughtsbydodinsky
Website: http://www.dodinsky.com/






GIVEAWAY RULES
The publicist has generously provided a Dodinsky poster and a signed bookmark to a lucky reader of my blog.
All you have to do is follow my blog publicly and fill out the Rafflecopter form below. Please follow publicly or I can't tell that you are following :)
  • US only
  • Must be a follower to enter
  • Prizes will be mailed out by the publicist/publisher
  • Must be 18 or over 
  • Ends April 13
Thanks to everyone for entering! Good luck!



Sunday Shout Out 33


Recently, I introduced a new feature here at In the Hammock on Sundays. It's called "Sunday Shout Out" and it's a place where I can give a special shout out to those publishers and authors who have sent me books over the week, as well as those bloggers who have hosted contests that I've won! I'll also be giving shout outs to any other cool books, blogs or bookish news that I've spotted during the week.

This is one month's worth of books! Wow! March was extra busy for me, so I didn't get a chance to post my shout outs!
For Review
"As You Wish" by Eloisa James


"Exposure" by Kim Askew and Amy Helmes


"Tempestuous" by Kim Askew and Amy Helmes



"The Butternut Tree" by Maureen Ann Richards Kostalnick


"The Magic of I Do" by Tammy Falkner


"One Heart to Win" by Joanna Lindsey


"Losing It" by Cora Carmack



"It Happened at the Fair" by Deeanne Gist


"The Registry" by Shannon Stoker


"Black Venus" by James MacManus


"In the Garden of Thoughts" by Dodinsky, Illus by Amanda Cass


"Mira's Diary: Home Sweet Rome" by Marissa Moss

 

"Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald" by Therese Anne Fowler
 

Giveaway and Excerpt: "The Mapmaker's War"

 Today, I am featuring an excerpt from the book "The Mapmaker's War" along with a giveaway of the book!


"The Mapmaker's War"
by Ronlyn Domingue

Publisher: Atria
Release Date: March 5, 2013

Summary from goodreads.com:
This will be the map of your heart, old woman. In an ancient time, in a faraway land, a young woman named Aoife is allowed a rare apprenticeship to become her kingdom’s mapmaker, tasked with charting the entire domain. Traveling beyond its borders, she finds a secretive people who live in peace, among great wealth. They claim to protect a mythic treasure, one connected to the creation of the world. When Aoife reports their existence to her kingdom, the community is targeted as a threat. Attempting to warn them of imminent danger, Aoife is exiled for treason and finds refuge among the very people who had been declared her enemy. With them, she begins a new life surrounded by kindness, equality, and cooperation. But within herself, Aoife has no peace. She cannot share the grief she feels for the home and children she left behind. She cannot bear the warrior scars of the man she comes to love. And when she gives birth to their gifted daughter, Aoife cannot avoid what the child forces her to confront about her past and its truth. On this most important of journeys, there is no map to guide her. In this tale—her autobiography— Aoife reveals her pain and joy, and ultimately her transformation. The Mapmaker’s War is a mesmerizing, utterly original adventure about love and loss and the redemptive power of the human spirit. Watch for its epic sequel, The Chronicle of Secret Riven, in 2014.


Excerpt

Prologue
By Ronlyn Domingue,
Author of The Mapmaker's War: A Legend

This will be the map of your heart, old woman. You are forgetful of the everyday. | misplaced cup, missing clasp | Yet, you recall the long-ago with morning-after clarity. These stories you have told yourself before. Write them now. At last, tell the truth. Be sparse with nostalgia. Be wary of its tangents. Mark the moments of joy but understand that is not now your purpose. Return to the places where your heart was broken. Scars evidence harm done. Some wounds sealed with weak knits. They are open again. The time has come to close them.
Here, choose the point of entry. Any place, any time, right now and you have --
Your small finger in the hearth's ashes. A line appears. You divide space.
Then there were twigs and broom bristles. Scratches and marks and lines until you had the control to create shape. Circle, triangle, square, said your older brother. Ciaran put the first nib under your thumb and first scrap of parchment beneath that. What you drew is missing in substance and memory. In its place, years apart, you transformed the circle into a tub. The triangle was a churn. The square became a table. You marked your spot with an X.
Aoife, said your brother, who taught you to draw a map?
The kitchen as it was when you were five. You could render space and suspend time.
You lived in a large cold house at the edge of a forest. The shady quiet lured, then hid, you. Wild child, said the nursemaid. Uncivilized, your mother declared when you returned home dirty with treasures. She tried and failed to tame you. Wait until I tell your father, said she. Next to his chair, you held your breath and your guard. He saw no harm in the fresh air and exercise. Good habit to start now because what man wants a fat wife? said your father. Indulgent, she called him. She stormed off on stout legs.
You had few ordinary interests as a girl. You didn't dress your bronze hair, tend to dolls, or join petty quarrels. This perplexed your mother, who tried her best to create a being in her own image. You soon realized you had to give to take. When you were attentive to your morning girlhood duties, she fought less when you asked for afternoon freedom. You acquiesced to learn how to behave regardless of whether you intended to follow suit. The re­ward was worth the concession.
With meticulous care, you planned your provisions, though not your expeditions. Adventure wasn't in the hunger to come but in the quest of what to follow. You packed your pouch | nuts and fruit, soft bread and hard cheese | along with parchment and ink, cloth scraps and straight edges.
You mapped the hidden worlds when you were still young enough to see them.
Spiderwebs and honeycombs taught the wisdom of symmetry. To you, everything before your eyes was built upon invisible lines and angles. The very spot where you stood only a point among many. A girl is not always in her place, you thought. A girl can be many places at once. And so you were. When you settled upon a space in the forest or meadow, you made a grid on the earth with small steps and tiny flags until there were row upon row of even little squares. You took your seat within the grid. You moved from square to square, noting what stood still and what passed by. All day long you observed and measured, sketched and colored. That which was off the edges appeared on the parchment as well. There were mysterious realms of bees and ants and creatures never seen before, with tiny castles and bright gardens.
One day, as you traced the uncovered trails of termites, you heard a rustle in the brush. You remained still with hope that the ancient stag or a sturdy bear would meet your eye. What a lovely beast to draw in that place! Instead, you faced a boy with green eyes and chestnut curls. A boy you knew well. Prince Wyl called your name and held up a dead rabbit by its hind legs. You lifted your hand in a polite wave and turned back to your work.
Did you see what I caught? I shall skin it and give the fur to the tailor to make you a fine collar, said Wyl.
It will be cold if you do that, you said.
It's dead. It has no need for fur now.
So literal,Wyl.You mistake my japes.
You meant no hardness toward him. As you looked to the ground again, you smiled. You knew his gesture was an act of affection. Such regard you had neither sought nor earned. His attentions you tried not to encourage or reject. That you two knew each other at all was a matter of circumstance. Your father served as the King's most trusted adviser.
On that day, when you wished Wyl had been the stag or a bear, you realized he didn't ask to see your map. He had on other occasions.You had no way to know that in years to come he would be privy to every chart you made, to the very last one.
See, you became a mapmaker.
Those hours you spent looking at the distance from one point to the next | star to star, rock to rock, blade to blade | were your study of geometry before you ever received formal instruction. You could be both abstract and precise, and sit for long periods. Ciaran gave you lessons in nuthematics and astronomy. He had also taught you to read. You enjoyed the challenge of learning. You also liked the attention from your brother, amiable and patient with you. Your mother encouraged the companionship between her children. However, she saw no purpose for the lessons.
You need to know what is practical for a woman, said she. All this effort leads to nothing.
Nothing indeed would have come of it had you not heard your father and brother in conversation.
The kingdom was in a quiet time. For generations before, there had been years of strife, battles to claim land and battles to control it. At last, there was much to manage and little known about the holdings. They discussed the King's consideration to map the entirety of his realm. Mapmakers would need to be hired and some trained.
You almost cried out on impulse. This you wanted to do, although you didn't know why. You banished the thought that you would be denied the training. You wanted to be good at something other than what was expected of you, for life.You threw yourself at chance.
We'll see, said your father when you asked for a place at the apprentice's table. Don't raise your hopes, said Ciaran when you told him of your wish. Your brother, seven years your senior, had begun to serve the King in earnest, the heir to your father's role as a trusted adviser.You had no such secure inheritance.You suspected your name would not receive mention.
Now. Tell the truth.
You turned Wyl's affection to your advantage. The pull between you both served in your favor.You didn't call it manipulation. Perhaps it was. An offhand comment was all it took. I would like to learn to draw real maps. With magical speed, there you were in the mapmaker's chamber.
Heydar came from another kingdom with an accent, his instruments, and several bound volumes. His ears sprouted whiskers that reached up to his frantic hair and down to his bushy beard. He looked, and ate, like a lion. You passed the tests he gave you, then he tested your courage because he saw your wits. He didn't care that you were a girl, but twelve. All he cared was whether you could learn the craft, whether you practiced enough. He demanded excellence.You would deliver.
You thought to thank the King for his favor. Wyl arranged a brief meeting. The King said he had been assured of your talents. He said he made exceptions for what pleased him, and it pleased him greatly to have such intelligence, enthusiasm, and tenacity at his service. He gave no mention as to who might have swayed him. Or why he allowed it.
When you sat with your studies at home, your mother bustled to and fro. She stitched and stitched and stitched. She hurried and harassed the servants. She sighed and moaned.You ignored her. She told your father he would have difficulty finding a mate for such a daughter as yourself.
She isn't crippled or ugly, which is good enough, but no man wants a stupid wife, said he.
That was how you became apprenticed to the old man. Why you, with that silent desperation you hoped he could not detect? You sensed if you could do well there, if you were a good mapmaker, you would avoid the inevitable. You knew what happened to girls like you.
You confess that you weren't as smart as others assumed. You were no prodigy at figures and measures. What you grasped you did so with diligence and repetition until it became second nature. There had to be precision in your practice. You took pleasure in it. There was room for error in the Land of the Bees and Outlying Environs but not in the case of territory and ownership.
For four years, you apprenticed with the old mapmaker. Heydar tutored you in the pertinent subjects related to the craft. He showed you how to use all of the instruments. He sent you afield with them | heliotrope high in the hot sun |, then allowed you to practice at his side at the table. He gave to you his insight into triangles. That he brought from his distant land of sand. He mapped with three sides as his center and trained you to do the same. This he claimed proudly as his innovation. You claimed his legacy.
Heydar supervised your work as you charted the castle and its immediate lands. He had done so himself, but this was your final test. He praised your effort. He declared you ready to go on your own. Before he left to return to his homeland, he gave you the waywiser given to him by his adept.
Many distances this wheel has measured with its walks. Remember me in a step once in a while. My time is done, and yours has begun, said he.
The old mapmaker gave his leave and the King his permission. You crossed paths with your brother on his travels from holding to holding. With his group of envoys, Ciaran created lists and tallies. He was to collect numbers of people, animals, and goods. He was also to discern what grievances needed attention, what loyalties called for boons, and what troubles might be in brew beyond the borders.
You were instructed to chart all that could be seen, and that was much. The kingdom was wide and broad. There were mountains and rivers, hills and streams, forests and valleys. Within this were the hamlets and towns, mills and smithies, pastures and arables, roads and paths. Ciaran and you were to note the fortifications. Ciaran, the condition. You, the location.
Many times, Ciaran's work would be done before you finished with yours. He would return to your childhood home, and you would stay behind to tend to the maps, but not only the maps. You explored the nearby regions by yourself. There were birds and plants and on occasion creatures you had never seen. You liked to speak with the people and learn about their customs. They fed you unusual foods and told familiar stories with subtle twists. Sometimes you sketched simple treasure maps for the children and hid coins for them to find.
To you, knowledge of the people was meant to be mapped as well. For whimsy, you would include reminders on your work for the King. They meant something to you and only you. This was how you entered your childhood again. A hut's roof edged with ribbons for no apparent reason. A place where you ate too much of a succulent pie. A fallow field speckled with blue gentian.
It seemed, though, that just when you had found a comfortable rhythm in your temporary quarters, Prince Wyl appeared with matters to tend on behalf of his father. His presence caused a stir, with people running about to catch a peek at him and share words. He was, in fact, good with the subjects, when he saw them. He exchanged pleasantries. Sometimes he asked questions and listened until the people had had their say. When requested, he touched the crowns of children's heads with gentleness. But, more often than not, Wyl was within your sight. He rode his horse around the place where you were at work. He sat at the hand of the host who gave shelter and food to the King's representatives. He seemed to talk longer with others when you were nearby, in conversation with the son of a prominent nobleman. Or a lowly shepherd. Or a man on your crew.
He has the stealth of a squirrel and the modesty of a peacock, you thought.
One summer morning, you leaned over the plane table, your eye in a squint, and stood quickly when the object in your sight went black. There was Wyl with a raspberry between his fingertips and a small metal bowl filled with more.
Thank you, but I'll wait to eat them. Stained fingers, stained map, you said.
You're tame enough to feed by hand, said he.
You stood bold before his charming smile and the pride he'd mustered. Such a thing he'd never said to you. Wyl looked at the map in progress and noticed the triangles that branched across the parchment.
Where are we? asked he.
You pointed to an open space yet to be drawn.
This land is flat with little to see. Your work must be difficult.
I have my ways.
What would help you?
Elevation, perhaps. I've had dreams of a tower.
Then you'll have this tower, said Wyl.
So it was. You gave him drawings of the tower in your dreams. Wyl found the woodcutters and smiths to make its pieces. He found stouthearted men to test its design, which did not fail, and hired them to tend to its care.
Innocent Wyl. He could not hide his adoration. You resisted your tender feelings. Was it love? Perhaps. When you were children, you attempted to keep the boundary fixed. Much your mother's doing. Bow to him, Aoife, he is the prince. Be friendly, not familiar. Be gracious. Be obedient. Be careful. | yes, be that with his dark brother Raef as well |
You liked Wyl. His disposition was sanguine. He seemed more interested in pleasure than power. Grudges didn't suit him. When you were young, when a girl wasn't permitted to say aloud she found a boy comely, you thought he was just that. As you grew older, you found him handsome. An exceptional example. He, for whatever reason, found you pretty. No boy orbits a girl as he did unless an attraction, a physical attraction, exists.
When you first saw the tower, you toed the great beams at its base. You tugged the ropes that tethered the tower to the ground for safety. You tapped the metal bolts that locked the heartwood beams into place. Then, the best part of all, you didn't have to climb the sides like a ladder but could walk the staircase you had envisioned. A spiralled up to the top.
You took your maiden ascent alone, with a crowd below, Ciaran and your crew, Wyl and his brother Raef. It was summer again. All was green and gold. All was alive. You had stood higher before, in the hill country, but this was different. When you leaned over the side, that caused much shouting on the ground. You saw straight down, your shadow a small dark splotch in the grass. So this is what the swallow sees on the wing, you thought. And as if by invitation, a blue swallow appeared above your head. It hovered before your eyes, plunged toward the earth, and darted away with a green head and long legs crushed between its beak. You called Wyl to join you.
The tower is wondrous. I could kiss you, you said.
Yes, you could, said he.
So literal, Wyl.
Then I'll wait until you mean what you say.
You felt a sting. For the first time, a joke on him barbed you back.You watched him stare afar and wondered why he went to such lengths to please you. Perhaps there is more to this boy I once knew, you thought.You linked your arm with his and leaned into him, both swaying groundless.

The above is an excerpt from the book The Mapmaker's War: A Legend by Ronlyn Domingue. The above excerpt is a digitally scanned reproduction of text from print. Although this excerpt has been proofread, occasional errors may appear due to the scanning process. Please refer to the finished book for accuracy.
Copyright © 2013 Ronlyn Domingue, author of The Mapmaker's War: A Legend


Author Bio
Ronlyn Domingue
 is the author of The Mapmaker's War: A Legend (Atria Books; March 5, 2013). Its epic sequel is scheduled for 2014. Her critically acclaimed debut novel, The Mercy of Thin Air, was published in ten languages. Her writing has appeared in The Beautiful Anthology (TNB Books), New England Review, Clackamas Literary Review, New Delta Review, The Independent (UK), and Shambhala Sun, as well as on mindful.org and The Nervous Breakdown. Born and raised in the Deep South, she lives there still with her partner, Todd Bourque, and their cats.

For more information please visit http://www.ronlyndomingue.com, and follow the author on Facebook and Twitter


GIVEAWAY RULES
The publicist has generously provided a copy of "The Mapmaker's War" to a lucky reader of my blog.
All you have to do is follow my blog publicly and fill out the Rafflecopter form below. Please follow publicly or I can't tell that you are following :)
  • US/CAN only
  • Must be a follower to enter
  • Books will be mailed out by the publicist/publisher
  • Must be 18 or over 
  • Ends April 11
Thanks to everyone for entering! Good luck!



Giveaway and Guest Post with Amanda Scott

 As part of Amanda Scott's blog tour, I am happy to have the author stop by for a guest post, and a giveaway of one of these three ebooks, the winner's choice!


"Dangerous Illusions"
by Amanda Scott
Open Road Media
ebook, 344 pgs

Summary from publicist:
The first book in Amanda Scott’s acclaimed Dangerous series journeys from the battlefields of Waterloo to the ballrooms and boudoirs of London, where a deadly deception unfolds . . .

Engaged by proxy to a man she’s never met, Lady Daintry Tarrant is dismayed when the war hero returns, introducing himself as her fiancĂ©, Lord Penthorpe. She cherishes her independence and has turned away many suitors, but this one she must marry. Penthorpe is completely captivated by Lady Daintry—but he’s not who he claims to be.

Penthorpe and Lord Gideon Deverill fought together at the battle of Waterloo, and when Penthorpe fell, Gideon assumed his identity in order to see the beautiful Lady Daintry. Gideon knows there’s bad blood between Lady Daintry’s family and his own, but he’s smitten with Daintry and determined to reunite the bitterly feuding clans. When a ghost from Gideon’s past appears, he could lose everything—including Daintry’s love.


"Border Bride"
by Amanda Scott
Open Road Media
ebook, 344 pgs

Summary from publicist:
Set in treacherous sixteenth-century Scotland, the first volume of Amanda Scott’s Border Trilogy tells the unforgettable story of a woman sworn to defy the knight she is forced to wed—only to discover a love she’ll do anything to claim

As Mary, Queen of Scots, languishes in the Tower of London as a prisoner of her cousin, Queen Elizabeth, war tears Scotland apart. To save her beloved homeland, a proud Highland beauty named Mary Kate MacPherson must wage her own battle when she’s forced into wedlock with a knight, Sir Adam Douglas, from the barbaric borderland of Tornary.

Even as she succumbs to her seductive husband’s sensual demands, Mary Kate vows never to give him her heart. She will belong to no man. But Adam burns with something deeper than desire. Sworn to carry out a long-awaited revenge, he won’t rest until he has vanquished his enemies. Accused of treason, the last thing he expects is to lose his heart to the woman he’s determined to tame but never to love: his own wife.


"Highland Fling"
by Amanda Scott
Open Road Media
ebook, 421 pgs

Summary from publicist:
Forbidden passion has never been more dangerous—or more irresistible—in the first novel of bestselling author Amanda Scott’s spellbinding Highland series

Scotland, 1750. In the aftermath of the Jacobite rebellion, Maggie MacDrumin vows to keep fighting to liberate her people. But the intrepid Scotswoman is risking her life for a dangerous cause. When her latest mission lands her in a London courtroom on a trumped-up larceny charge, she has only one hope of survival. Enlisting the aid of Edward Carsley, the powerful fourth Earl of Rothwell, is a two-edged sword. The seductive aristocrat who awakens treacherous desire is her clan’s mortal enemy—a man she can never trust.

Edward will do whatever it takes to quell another bloody uprising. But how can he fight his passion for the rebellious Highland beauty in his safekeeping? As their lives come under siege, Maggie lays claim to the one thing Edward vowed never to surrender: his heart.


Guest Post
Now, I'd like to welcome Amanda Scott to In the Hammock for a guest post!

Here's Amanda!


Guest Post by Amanda Scott

   
How do you get the idea for a novel? What is your writing process like? Could you give us an example of you got the idea for any or all of these three books: Dangerous Illusions, Highland Fling, Border Bride.
My writing process varies from book to book, depending on what strikes chords in my imagination. Sometimes, I begin with a character. Other times, it's a particular setting that I want to use, like the Borders or the Highlands, or a castle with an interesting history. I think of the process itself as a sort of jigsaw puzzle. That's the same for every book. I find a piece here and another one there, and pretty soon they begin to add up to the outline for a story.
Border Bride began with the idea of a lass from the Highlands marrying a powerful Border lord, simply because men's attitudes toward women were very different in the two areas. In the Borders, on both sides of the line, traditions and attitudes were similar. Not that Scotsmen could not generally insist on doing things their way all over Scotland, mind you, but few men in the rest of country felt as if they had a God-given right to order their women around.
In sixteenth-century England, a woman had no legal standing except as her father's daughter or her husband's wife. Only widows who did not remarry had standing of their own. In Scotland, a woman had as much right as a man did to plead her case before a clan chief or laird, or the King for that matter. The King of Scots was just the chief of chiefs. Women could inherit wealth and titles in Scotland. They had many, many rights that Englishwomen did not have until the 19th or 20th centuries.
So, I asked myself, what if a Highland lass accustomed to offering her opinions and receiving generally respectful hearing marries a Border lord accustomed to instant obedience of his every command, who will dismiss most of her opinions and react badly to defiance? And what if her father orchestrates the marriage to suit an agenda of his own and arranges things in such a way that she has little choice but to comply, despite the Scottish law protecting women from unwanted marriages? What if both main characters have fiery tempers? What if he has a secret and she knows what it is? What if revealing it could get him hanged for treason? What if it concerns Mary Queen of Scots? The "what-ifs" are always the fun part of the process.
With Dangerous Illusions, the primary pieces were the Regency period and English versus Scottish laws pertaining to marriage, to women, and to children. In the case of children, there were literally no differences except that they were possessions of their fathers in England, just as wives were. In Scotland, wives had more rights, but children belonged to their parents, which generally amounted to the same thing as it did in England. The biggest difference was in what happened in cases of divorce, and that's what I chose to focus on for at least the first two books of the four-book series. But, having decided that much, I began to collect the pieces, and for Dangerous Illusions, I began at the Battle of Waterloo and the hero's 'meeting' with the heroine. After the battle, he finds a gilt-framed miniature of her near a dead soldier's body and decides to inform her himself of the man's death. Her family lives near his in Cornwall, and since his father and hers have not spoken for decades, the two of them have not met. What follows is a combination of mistaken identities, a bit of Romeo and Juliet, with a more sinister subplot that will lead to the second book and beyond.
Of course, research always provides numerous pieces for my books, and Dangerous Illusions was no exception. The heroine's niece, Charlotte (Charley) is horse-mad, and it occurred to me that at the time I knew almost nothing about training horses or how women learned to ride sidesaddle. So, when the local libraries failed me (no Google yet), I called the Smithsonian, told them my problem, and an expert talked to me for about twenty minutes after having recommended two excellent books on the subject. I've used details from that conversation and those books in many other stories, too. As a result, I was able to make both Charley and her aunt sound as if they knew what they were doing and what they were talking about. The heroine of Dangerous Illusions is Daintry Tarrant. Tarrant is a Cornish name, and when I traveled to England and Wales
Highland Fling actually began with a serendipitous, chance finding of three items at nearly the same time: a coffee-table size picture book at the University of California (Davis) library, detailing the River Thames through London in 1750 right down to shops on London Bridge, the steps from river to street level; a copy I bought of a fold-out, detailed drawing of London in 1750, showing the river and skyline behind it and including such details as individual houses (with their names) and garden layouts; and last but hardly least, the simple fact that Bonnie Prince Charlie had returned to London secretly in 1750 (having fled Britain after the '45) to persuade English supporters to stir up the whole conflict over the 'rightful' king again.
That gave me one setting for the book, so it was a simple matter to decide that the heroine should be another Highland lass but one whose father had lost his land when the English surged into Scotland. The hero, naturally, would be the English lord who had acquired their land for his own service in defeating the Scots. Add a father who is making illegal whisky, mix with wonderful stories of how such men smuggled their product past English officers wanting to seize it, send the heroine to London to meet her hero Bonnie Prince Charlie to offer Highland support and get herself arrested in the process…Then, when the only name she knows in London is the beast who stole her father's land… =and there you are.
In the process for any book, I do a detailed outline before I begin writing. I also, however, sketch out and write the first few scenes as soon as I know what they will be, and then I figure out what the other big scenes will be. I try always to write the big scenes as soon as I get a handle on them, because I find it easier to connect the dots, so to speak, if I know exactly where I'm going. The more road signs I can create for myself and my characters, the better and faster the work goes.




Bio:
A fourth-generation Californian of Scottish descent, Amanda Scott is the author of more than fifty romantic novels, many of which appeared on the USA Today bestseller list. Her Scottish heritage and love of history (she received undergraduate and graduate degrees in history at Mills College and California State University, San Jose, respectively) inspired her to write historical fiction. Credited by Library Journal with starting the Scottish romance subgenre, Scott has also won acclaim for her sparkling Regency romances. She is the recipient of the Romance Writers of America’s RITA Award (for Lord Abberley’s Nemesis, 1986) and the RT Book Reviews Career Achievement Award. She lives in central California with her husband.

For more information on Amanda Scott’s novels, please visit the official website.

Follow along with the rest of the tour here:
Link to Tour Schedule: http://hfvirtualbooktours.com/amandascottvirtualbooktour/
Twitter Hashtag: #AmandaScottVirtualTour



Giveaway

GIVEAWAY RULES:

The author and publicist have generously provided an ebook copy of one of these three ebooks, winner's choice, for a lucky follower of my blog!
All you have to do is follow my blog publicly and fill out the Rafflecopter form below. Please follow publicly or I can't tell that you are following :)
  • US/CAN only
  • Must be a follower to enter
  • Ebooks/codes (mobi, PDF, Epub) will be mailed out by the publisher
  • Must be 18 or over 
  • Ends April 11
Thanks to everyone for entering! Good luck!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Giveaway and Review: "Notes from Ghost Town"

"Notes from Ghost Town"
 by Kate Ellison

Publisher: Egmont USA
Release Date: Feb 12, 2012
Source: ARC sent by publicist

My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Summary from goodreads.com:

They say first love never dies...

From critically acclaimed author Kate Ellison comes a heartbreaking mystery of mental illness, unspoken love, and murder. When sixteen-year-old artist Olivia Tithe is visited by the ghost of her first love, Lucas Stern, it’s only through scattered images and notes left behind that she can unravel the mystery of his death.

There’s a catch: Olivia has gone colorblind, and there’s a good chance she’s losing her mind completely—just like her mother did. How else to explain seeing (and falling in love all over again with) someone who isn’t really there?

With the murder trial looming just nine days away, Olivia must follow her heart to the truth, no matter how painful. It’s the only way she can save herself.

My Review:

I really enjoyed this book much more than I thought I would! Usually books with this many issues are difficult for me to read, but this author did a great job of keeping things hopeful even in dire circumstances. I love that Liv really works hard to fix things for her mother, herself, and even her ghost best friend, Lucas. She is dealing with so much, but she never loses hope that things will get better, and tries hard to make it so. She never wallows in self pity or feels defeated. The tone of the book never felt depressing to me, and that is something that I pick up on whenever a book is the least bit depressing. I'm so glad I took a chance and read this book even though I had doubts that I would enjoy it.

I was caught up by the mystery in this book. It did remind me of the popular mystery tv shows, where there are many suspects to investigate before the real culprit is revealed. Even with this formula though, it wasn't predictable for most of the book for me.

The romance plays out really well. It's not your typical love triangle, since one of the players is a ghost. I think there is a lot of heart in this love triangle, and possibly Liv's decision has to more to do with herself and her own growth than it does about weighing the pros and cons of the boys themselves.

After I finishing, I really felt hopeful and satisfied. Then a while later, I realized that maybe there were some loose ends to be tied up. However, some of that may be because of  the style of suspect after suspect being questioned, so then after they were 'off the hook' we didn't really get to know the rest of their story. I can't really discuss the other loose end, because of spoilers, but it was just another thing to think about in the outcome.


Main Characters: 4/5
Supporting Characters: 4/5

Setting: 4/5

Romance: 4/5

Uniqueness: 4/5
Cover: 3/5 (the new cover is much less scary than the ARC cover though!)
Writing: 4/5


Bottom Line: A great mystery with paranormal elements. I don't think this one is as scary or intense as some other similar books are, and that made me enjoy the book much more.


Follow Egmont USA on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/EgmontUSA
Follow Egmont USA on Twitter: @EgmontUSA
Follow Kate on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/KateEllisonBooks
 

Giveaway includes a hardcover copy of "Notes from Ghost Town" as well as a paperback copy of "The Butterfly Clues"






GIVEAWAY RULES
The publicist has generously provided a hardcover copy of "Notes from Ghost Town" as well as a paperback copy of "The Butterfly Clues" to a lucky reader of my blog.
All you have to do is follow my blog publicly and fill out the Rafflecopter form below. Please follow publicly or I can't tell that you are following :)
  • US/CAN only
  • Must be a follower to enter
  • Books will be mailed out by the publisher
  • Must be 18 or over 
  • Ends April 11
Thanks to everyone for entering! Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway



"And Then She Fell" Review

"The Lass Wore Black"
by Stephanie Laurens

Publisher: Avon
Release Date: March 26, 2013
Source: sent by publicist (TLC)

My Rating: 5 of 5 Stars

Summary from goodreads.com:
The only thing more troublesome than a Cynster man...is a Cynster lady who believes love is not her destiny. Famously known in London society as "The Matchbreaker," Henrietta Cynster's uncanny skill lies in preventing ill-fated nuptials - not in falling victim to Cupid's spell.

But then she disrupts one match too many and feels honor-bound to assist dashing James Glossup in finding a suitable bride for a marriage of convenience.

A task infernally complicated by the undeniable, unquenchable attraction that flares between James and Henrietta, who continues to believe she will never fall...

My Review:

I'm not sure why it took me so long to start reading this author's books! This is only my second book by this prolific historical romance author, and I have loved both romances! This story is sweet and genuine, a perfect regency love story!

I think the part of the book that I loved the most was the first half, when James and Henrietta are "just friends" but they both have feelings for each other already. I think the author perfectly captured that feeling that most anyone who has ever had a crush on someone has had. You know, that feeling when you second guess every single move the other person makes, and over analyze every word they say, trying to figure out if they 'like' you or if they just want to be friends. It was so sweet and honest, and something I think everyone can relate to.


I loved reading about the supporting characters, too. Although I haven't read any other Cynster books, I can see how they are so popular if all of the characters are a strong as Henrietta. I liked that she was very strong without being ridiculous or silly about not wanting a husband. She basically just didn't want to waste her time on the wrong man. James was very sweet, I liked that he wasn't stubborn or afraid to admit that he had feelings for Henrietta, even though he was cautious and wanted to make sure she felt the same way by wooing her before telling her how he felt.


Main Characters: 5/5
Supporting Characters: 5/5
Setting: 4/5

Romance: 5/5

Uniqueness: 4/5
Cover: 4/5
Writing: 5/5


Bottom Line: A perfect regency romance, with a sweet love story between two fantastic leads. This story makes me want to go back and read the rest of the Cynster books!




Find Stephanie Laurens on the web:
http://www.stephanielaurens.com/

Follow along with the rest of the tour.