Everyday Tidbits...

I am having vision issues which is terrifying to someone whose work and interests lie in reading and writing. Because of this, I am falling behind in some of my reviewing commitments and ask for your support and patience.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

A Heart Revealed...Review

About the book:
Amber Marie Sterlington, the Rage of the Season in Regency-era London, has her pick of men, and she knows what she wants most in a husband: a title and a fortune. Why would she ever marry for something as fickle as love? And why would she ever look twice at Thomas Richards, a third son of a country lord?
But when Amber’s social standing is threatened, the character of her future husband becomes far more important than his position. After a public humiliation, she finds herself exiled to Yorkshire. Alone except for her maid, Amber is faced with a future she never expected in a circumstance far below what she has known all her life. Humbled and lonely, Amber begins to wonder if isolation is for the best. Who could ever love her now?

I love Regency stories. And I have loved Josi Kilpack's cozy mysteries, so I was excited to see her venture into the romance genre.

My main frustration with the novel was that Amber was a horrible, selfish girl in the first half of the story. She really had no redeeming qualities and so when a medical condition forces her into confinement and she is all but banished from society, it was hard to find compassion for her.

However, as she is forced to come to terms with her physical condition as well as her new station in life, Amber does come to learn about compassion and kindness. She forges a relationship with her maid and discovers skills she never expected to have.

After witnessing her public humiliation, Thomas inadvertently discovers Amber's whereabouts, and attempts to see her, even though she is in hiding as a widowed recluse. Thomas was infatuated with her before her exile, but she doesn't even remember who he is. So, when romance does finally occur, it feels a bit forced and hard to believe, even as it is sweet that he is so accepting and loving towards her, regardless of her condition.

This is a sweet romance and one that explores the importance of loving and accepting people for who they are, not what they look like. I enjoyed this story, I just didn't love it.

Thanks to Shadow Mountain for the opportunity to review this book. You can learn more about Josi Kilpack here. You can purchase your own copy here.

Read 4/15

* * *
3/5 Stars

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Florence: A Travel Guide to Fabrics, Frames, Jewelry, Leather Goods, Maiolica, Paper, Woodcrafts & More

Hi Everyone! If you like to travel, especially to Italy...and especially to Florence, then you have to take a look at Laura Morelli's new Authentic Arts series. Today, I am spotlighting the second set of books in this series.

"Laura Morelli has set out to make you an expert in handmade crafts." --American Style Magazine

About the Book

Going to Florence, Italy?

Don't buy anything in Florence until you read this book!

If you're traveling to Florence, Italy, you want to go home with a special souvenir: a leather handbag, a piece of gold jewelry, hand-printed stationery, or one of the city's famous luxury fabrics. But selecting which jacket or which wallet to buy can be an intimidating experience. How do you know if you're buying something authentic, something made in Florence, something made in a traditional way? How do you determine if you've fallen prey to one of the city's many tourist traps?

Florence boasts some of the most famous artistic traditions in the world. Here's what you need to know about them.

Laura Morelli leads you beyond the souvenir shops for an immersive cultural experience that you won't find in any other guidebook. This indispensable guide includes practical tips for locating the most authentic goods in one of the busiest tourist destinations in the world. Packed with useful information on quality and value, and with a comprehensive resource guide, Laura Morelli s Authentic Arts: Florence is the perfect guide for anyone wanting to bring home the unique traditions of the capital of the Renaissance. 

Artisans of Florence is the companion to Laura Morelli's Authentic Arts: Florence: A Travel Guide to Fabrics, Frames, Jewelry, Leather Goods, Maiolica, Paper, Woodcrafts & More. Put both books together and you'll be the most knowledgeable traveler in Florence!

About the book

Artisans of Florence is the companion to Florence: A Travel Guide, bringing you inside the workshops of several dozen of the most accomplished makers of Florentine fabrics, hand-carved frames, and other treasures. Put both books together and you'll be the most knowledgeable traveler in Florence! 

"Laura Morelli has set out to make you an expert in handmade crafts." --American Style Magazine

Laura Morelli, an art historian and trusted guide in the world of cultural travel and authentic shopping, leads you to the best of Florence's most traditional arts. Laura Morelli's Authentic Arts series is the only travel guide series on the market that takes you beyond the museums and tourist traps to make you an educated buyer--maybe even a connoisseur--of Florentine leather, ceramics of the Amalfi Coast, Parisian hats, Venetian glass, the handmade quilts of Provence, and more treasures. 

Bring Laura Morelli's guides to Florence with you, and you'll be sure to come home with the best of Florence in your suitcase. 

Where to buy the books

Meet the Author

Laura Morelli holds a Ph.D. in art history from Yale University, where she was a Bass Writing Fellow and Mellon Doctoral Fellow. She authored a column for National Geographic Traveler called “The Genuine Article” and contributes pieces about authentic travel to national magazines and newspapers. Laura has been featured on CNN Radio, Travel Today with Peter Greenberg, The Frommers Travel Show, and in USA TODAY, Departures, House & Garden Magazine, Traditional Home, the Denver Post, Miami Herald, The Chicago Tribune, and other media. Recently her art history lesson, “What’s the difference between art and craft?” was produced and distributed by TED-Ed.

Laura has taught college-level art history at Trinity College in Rome, as well as at Northeastern University, Merrimack College, St. Joseph College, and the College of Coastal Georgia. Laura has lived in five countries, including four years in Italy and four years in France.

Laura Morelli is the author of the guidebook series that includesMade in Italy, Made in France, and Made in the Southwest, all published by Rizzoli / Universe. The Gondola Maker, a historical coming-of-age story about the heir to a gondola boatyard in 16th-century Venice, is her first work of fiction.


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Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Grace of Gratitude Journal...Review

About the book:
Grace of Gratitude is an exquisite journal that has lined pages for the reader to express their own thoughts of gratitude. Inspiring examples of gratitude by the author Deborah Perdue, and beautiful illustrations by Tara Thelen are interspersed throughout. Gratitude is a valuable spiritual practice, and through this journal, one can reap the benefits of appreciation of life to feel more joy and more peace on a sustained level. This journal is not only for the novice, but also for anyone who is already experienced at the spiritual practice of feeling gratitude in his or her life.

Gratitude is something that too many of us don't focus on. Too often we only think about the difficulties in life, we don't look around us at the blessings. Expressing gratitude, whether it be to God, to the people around you, to the universe or just acknowledging it to yourself, is so important. At times in my life I have had my own gratitude journals, where the only things I write are about things I am grateful for. It's a beautiful practice and truly does allow happiness and peace into your heart. As often happens though, I get a bit lazy or unfocused and stop recording and opening acknowledging my blessings. But, recognizing that for which we are grateful allows us to feel more joy, more happiness.

Normally I prefer a lined journal with no other distractions. No quotes, no pictures. The Grace of Gratitude journal, however, is wonderful.  The illustrations are lovely and the thoughts and examples provided by the author are terrific prompts for writing about your own thoughts of gratitude.

This would make a lovely gift.

Thanks to Pump Up Your Book Promotion for the opportunity to review this book. You can learn more about Deborah Perdue here. You can purchase your own copy here.

Read 3/15

* * * * *
5/5 Stars

Monday, March 23, 2015

How to Catch a Prince...Review

About the book:
Prince Stephen came to America to escape responsibility. But what he found complicates his life more than ever.

Corina Del Rey is happy with her life in Melbourne, Florida. She spends her days engrossed in her career as a journalist and has her sights set on climbing the corporate ladder if for no other reason, to distract herself from her dissolving family. But when she is confronted with the past she fought so hard to put behind her, she struggles to make sense of her future.

Prince Stephen of Brighton Kingdom has moved on since the tragic death of his buddies in Afghanistan. A star professional rugby player, he has no intention of looking over his shoulder at what could've been.

But when a notice arrives in the mail requiring his and his wife s appearance before the courts to dissolve their marriage, he must deal with the questions rumbling around in his heart. He thought his marriage had been annulled long ago, but his memories of Corina Del Rey remain close. Does he still love her? Can he even find her? Above all, can he tell her the truth about that fateful night in Afghanistan seven years ago? If he does, he might really lose her forever."

Several years previous, Prince Stephen of Brighton Kingdom secretly wed Corina del Rey and they shared a wonderful, but short time together before he deployed to war. After the death of friends who died protecting him, Stephen was overcome with grief and believing his marriage to have never been officially filed or valid, he pulls away from Corina. Corina has tried to move on with her life, but her twin brother died in the attack on Prince Stephen and she has always yearned for answers.

When Prince Stephen discovers that his marriage is, in fact, still valid, he searches out Corina and the two must decide if they want it annulled. Corina refuses to sign the annulment papers until Stephen tells her about the circumstances surrounding her brother's death and he refuses to do so.

The two realize they're still in love, but their differences of opinion regarding the circumstances of her brother's death may just be enough to separate them forever.

This series is just, quite simply, fun. But, How to Catch a Prince tackles a bit more of a sober subject as it also deals with Prince Stephen's PTSD stemming from his war experiences. The story is Christian this one is a bit more heavy handed with the preaching, and there is also a bit of a magical realism to it with a couple of delightful guardian angels.

The book can stand alone, but it is much better if you've read the series in order. I have loved the Royal Wedding series and I was glad to see this story return to Brighton Kingdom. I hope there is more than just this trilogy!

Thanks to Litfuse Publicity for the opportunity to review this book. You can learn more about Rachel Hauck here. You can see other reviews and tour stops here. You can purchase your own copy here.

Read 3/15

* * * *
4/5 Stars