29 February 2016

Two winners of The Changing Season by Steven Manchester announced

Thanks to those who entered my Friday Freebie last week to WIN 1 of 2 ebook copies of The Changing Season by Steven Manchester.

Entries closed at midnight Friday 26th February, and congratulations go to our two winners:
Denise Newman Ange Sharma & Debbie Rodgers!
Congratulations Denise & Debbie, you'll receive an email shortly advising you of your win and your ebook prize will be sent to you directly by the author.

Thanks to Steven Manchester for the giveaway copy and to the winners, I hope you enjoy your prize. If you missed out, stay tuned for three more giveaways coming soon.

Carpe Librum!

P.S. Unfortunately Denise Newman didn't respond to any of my emails informing her of the win and consequently has forfeited her prize. Congratulations to the runner up winner Ange Sharma.
26 February 2016

Review: Revival by Stephen King

Stephen King's novel Revival is what I'd call a slow burn. Covering themes of family, addiction and faith, Revival spans 50 years in the life of Jamie Morton and his priest, Reverend Jacobs.

Reverend Jacobs is obsessed with the power of electricity and he discovers he has the power to heal people. But does he heal with faith or science or is the whole thing just a con?

Although not a standout bestseller when compared to other novels in Stephen King's vast body of work, Revival contains an interesting plot exploring some big issues and showcasing some great writing along the way. Here's my favourite quote from page 60:

"Her blond hair was underground now, growing brittle on a satin pillow in the dark." 
Oh my gosh, that still gives me the creeps! The best part of Revival was Jamie Morton's childhood growing up in New England. Stephen King has an unbeatable talent for writing young characters and the first quarter of the book had me chuckling and smiling, and the remainder of the book had me (and Jamie) yearning for the innocence of those early years.

Promotional material claims Revival is a 'masterpiece from King, in the great American tradition of Frank Norris, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and Edgar Allan Poe' although I'd have to disagree. Revival was an enjoyable story and a great page turner with a few flashes of brilliant writing, but it wasn't a knock-out for me.

My rating = ***

Carpe Librum!

This month it was announced that Revival has been adapted for the big screen by Josh Boone and is being reviewed by Universal Pictures, so let's hope we see it on the big screen.
23 February 2016

Winner of a copy of Spellbound by Maree Coote announced

Thanks to all those who entered my Friday Freebie last week to WIN a copy of Spellbound by Maree Coote
Entries closed at midnight Friday 17th February, and congratulations go to (drum roll):
Mary Preston!
Mary is a regular visitor to Carpe Librum, so it's great to see her name come up. Congratulations Mary, you'll receive an email shortly advising you of your win, and you'll have 7 days to provide me with your postal address. Your prize will be sent to you directly by Melbournestyle Books.

Thanks to Melbournestyle Books for the giveaway copy and stay tuned for more giveaways.

Carpe Librum!

21 February 2016

HFVBT Spotlight for The Vatican Princess - A Novel of Lucrezia Borgia by C.W. Gortner

02_The Vatican Princess
Publication Date: February 9, 2016
Ballantine Books

The Vatican Princess: A Novel of Lucrezia Borgia by C.W. Gortner

Infamy is no accident. It is a poison in our blood. It is the price of being a Borgia. 

Glamorous and predatory, the Borgias fascinated and terrorized 15th-century Renaissance Italy. Lucrezia Borgia, beloved daughter of the pope, was at the center of the dynasty’s ambitions. Slandered as a heartless seductress who lured men to their doom, was she in fact the villainess of legend, or was she trapped in a familial web, forced to choose between loyalty and survival? 

With the ascension of the Spaniard Rodrigo Borgia as Pope Alexander VI, the new pope’s illegitimate children - his rival sons, Cesare and Juan, and beautiful young daughter Lucrezia - assume an exalted position in the papal court. 

Privileged and adored, Lucrezia yearns to escape her childhood and play a part in her family’s fortunes. But Rome is seductive and dangerous, alliances shift at a moment’s notice as Italy’s ruling dynasties strive to keep rivals at bay. As Lucrezia’s father faces challenges from all sides, he’s obliged to marry her off to a powerful adversary. But when she discovers the brutal truth behind her alliance, Lucrezia is plunged into a perilous gambit that will require all her wits, cunning, and guile. Escaping her marriage offers the chance of happiness with a passionate prince of Naples, yet as scandalous accusations of murder and incest build against her, menacing those she loves, Lucrezia must risk everything to overcome the lethal fate imposed upon her by her Borgia blood. 

Beautifully wrought, rich with fascinating historical detail, The Vatican Princess is the first novel to describe Lucrezia’s coming-of-age in her own voice - a dramatic, vivid tale set in an era of savagery and unparalleled splendor, where enemies and allies can be one and the same, and where loyalty to family can ultimately be a curse.

About the Author
C.W. Gortner holds an MFA in Writing with an emphasis in Renaissance Studies from the New College of California. After an eleven year career in fashion and twelve years in the public health sector, in 2012 he became a full-time writer.
03_CW Gortner
Author C.W. Gortner

In his extensive travels to research his books, he has danced a galliard at Hampton Court, learned about organic gardening at Chenoceaux, and spent a chilly night in a ruined Spanish castle. 

His books have garnered widespread acclaim and international success with over 400,000 copies sold. C.W. now lives in Northern California with his partner and two very spoiled rescue cats. 

For more information visit C.W. Gortner’s website. Sign up for C.W. Gortner’s Newsletter for updates.

04_The Vatican Princess_Blog Tour Banner_FINAL
19 February 2016

Friday Freebie: WIN 1 of 2 ebook copies of The Changing Season by Steven Manchester

Valued at $5.99AUD
* Copies courtesy of the author *

This e-book giveaway will appeal to all dog lovers, so please enter below and win a copy for yourself or a friend.

This was supposed to be a simple summer for Billy: one more lazy expanse of time before college began. He'd fill the hours playing with Jimmy - his canine best buddy - going camping and doing all the things he promised Jimmy they'd do before Billy left. But that was before the accident that shook the entire town. It was before the summer job that turned into something so much more than a way to get a pay cheque. And it was before Vicki. 

This summer was destined to be many things to Billy, things he didn't truly understand until now. But it was definitely not going to be simple. 

An enormously touching, richly textured, deeply moving novel of new adulthood, The Changing Season is an experience to savour - with special appeal to dog lovers.

Author Bio
A veteran of the Gulf War and a prison investigator in a Massachusetts penitentiary, Steven Manchester has had several careers, including that of a published author.

He's the author of four #1 bestsellers: Twelve Months, The Rockin' Chair, Pressed Pennies and Gooseberry Island as well as the award-winning novel, Goodnight, BrianHis work has appeared on NBC's Today Show, CBS's The Early Show, CNN's American Morning and BET's Nightly News.

When not spending time with his beautiful wife, Paula and their four children, Steven is busy writing and promoting his work.

This giveaway has now closed.
16 February 2016

Winner of Missing by Melanie Casey giveaway announced today

Last week's giveaway was a popular one and it seems plenty of you wanted to win your own copy of Missing by Melanie Casey. I loved this Australian crime novel and gave it 5 stars in my review, so was very excited to be able to give away a copy to one lucky person.

The giveaway closed at midnight on Friday 12th February, so congratulations go to:
Kim Stace!
Congratulations Kim, you'll receive an email shortly advising you of your win, and you'll have 7 days to provide me with your postal address. 

Thanks to Pantera Press for the giveaway copy and stay tuned for more giveaways and more great titles this month.

Carpe Librum!
RRP $29.99
15 February 2016

Review: The Forgetting Time by Sharon Guskin

* Copy courtesy of Pan Macmillan Australia *

If I could give this book six stars (our of five) I totally would. How's this for a teaser:
Noah is four and wants to go home. The only trouble is he's already home.
The Forgetting Time by Sharon Guskin is the story of Noah and his Mum Janie. Noah has nightmares, begs Janie for his real mother and keeps asking when he can go home. Nobody can tell Janie what's wrong with her son despite visiting a whole host of specialists.

This novel covers themes of identity, death, mental illness, the possibility of re-incarnation and children who may (or may not) remember their previous life as well as an overarching theme of a mother's love for her son.

This topic is right up my alley (having read Children Who Have Lived Before - Reincarnation Today by Trutz Hardo last year), and exploring the themes through this novel was a absolute thrill for me. At times I felt The Forgetting Time was written especially for me!

Sharon Guskin has clearly done her research and I knew I was in expert hands. I can't believe this is her debut novel; wow, what a way to burst onto the scene! Her writing is polished, and I admire her for extending the ending beyond what I was expecting. I got so much more out of The Forgetting Time than I thought possible.

I can't wait to see what she writes next and I have no doubt she'll be my favourite debut author of 2016.

Awesome, amazing, I loved loved loved it!

My rating = *****

Carpe Librum!
12 February 2016

Friday Freebie: WIN a copy of Spellbound by Maree Coote

Published in February 2016
RRP $39.95
* Copy courtesy of Melbournestyle Books *

What's better than spelling a word correctly? Spelling a picture beautifully!
There are shapes all around us… shapes that look like the letters of the A-B-C. Can you find the letters hidden in these pictures of faces, places, animals and things?
Learn how to create your own Letter Art. A fun and challenging design book for readers, writers and graphic designers of all ages.

Beginners: find the letters hidden in the pictures. Fun and educational, Letter Art helps with letter recognition, spelling, reading, writing and observational skills.

Advanced: the first book of its kind, Spellbound reveals a brand new approach to typographic poetry, where serendipity combines with skill to create a unique letter-image.

Spellbound contains 120 pages of unique typographic illustration known as Letter Art. Enter below to win your very own print copy from Melbournestyle Books.

This giveaway has now closed.
09 February 2016

Review: I'll Go Home Then; It's Warm and Has Chairs - The Unpublished Emails by David Thorne

I'm a huge fan of David Thorne's caustic humour and writing style and his work always (without fail) makes me laugh out loud. His first book The Internet is a Playground was a 5 star read for me in 2013, and this one, I'll Go Home Then, It's Warm and Has Chairs - The Unpublished Emails is just as funny.

There's plenty of email trails to delve into, photoshopped pictures to enjoy and a treasure trove of stories, anecdotes and letters to laugh about. Again, I couldn't help myself and had to read one of the stories out loud, and keep wanting to use some of his best one liners in conversation.

David Thorne's sense of humour is full of satire and wit, and he captures the office work environment so well it makes me chuckle just thinking about it. His comments about the team building weekend are still making me laugh and his diagrams really bring his scenarios to life in a way you can't possibly imagine until you see his work.

If you've never read any of his stuff before, you can read some it for free on his website, or grab any one of his books. You won't be sorry, instead you'll be laughing and looking for someone to share it with post-haste.

I've already been recommending this one to friends and family, and that says it all really.

My rating = *****

Carpe Librum!
05 February 2016

Review and Giveaway of Missing by Melanie Casey is today's Friday Freebie

RRP $29.99
* Copy courtesy of Pantera Press * 

Missing by Australian author Melanie Casey is the third in the Cass Lehman series based in Adelaide and I've been waiting for it to come out for what seems like a-g-e-s.

I easily slipped straight back into the lives of Cass and Detective Dyson and the novel can easily be read as a standalone for those new to the author. 

The case Dyson was investigating piqued my interest and the dialogue between those on the case (especially Dyson's supervisor Crackers) is often laugh out loud funny. Combine this crime plot with the overarching relationship between Cass and her family (mother and grandmother) and Cass and Dyson, add a dollop of suspense and a pinch of psychic power and you have a ripping read.

Sometimes a crime series can run out of steam or lose it's original shine after a while however this is definitely not the the case here; in fact, I didn't want it to end. The characters in Missing are familiar but not predictable and just to prove it, the ending made me exclaim out loud in surprise. It's not a 'twist' in the way of a psychological thriller, just something I never saw coming and had to go back a few chapters to enjoy again.

My only gripe is that author Melanie Casey indicated in her acknowledgements at the end of Missing that she's saying goodbye to the series for a while in favour of writing something else. All I can say to that is: nnnnnnnooooooooooooooooooooooooooo. I need to know what Cass does next, so my fingers are tightly crossed she comes back to this series in the future.

Missing was released last week and is now available in stores. Or you can enter my giveaway below to WIN a copy.

My rating = *****

Carpe Librum!

This giveaway has now closed.

02 February 2016

Blog Tour & Review: All That Is Lost Between Us by Sara Foster

Available February 2016
* Copy courtesy of Simon & Schuster *

11 Ways to Read a Book: All That Is Lost Between Us Blog Tour

About the Book
Seventeen-year-old Georgia has a secret – one that is isolating her from everyone she loves. She is desperate to tell her best friend, but Sophia is ignoring her, and she doesn’t know why. And before she can find out, Sophia is left fighting for her life after a hit and run, with Georgia a traumatised witness.

As a school psychologist, Georgia’s mother Anya should be used to dealing with scared adolescents. However, it’s very different when the girl who needs help is your own child. Meanwhile, Georgia’s father is wracked with a guilt he can’t share; and when Zac, Georgia’s younger brother, stumbles on an unlikely truth, the family relationships really begin to unravel.

Georgia’s secret is about to go viral. And yet, it will be the stranger heading for the family home who will leave her running through the countryside into terrible danger. Can the Turner family rise above the lies they have told to betray or protect one another, in order to fight for what matters most of all?

Set against the stark, rugged beauty of England’s Lake District, All That is Lost Between Us is a timeless thriller with a modern twist.

My Review
Australian author Sara Foster has given us a suspenseful and emotive read in All That is Lost Between Us, set in the evocative landscape of the Lake District in England.

The Turners (Georgia, Zac, mother Anya and father Callum) are an average family trying to deal with their own personal problems and issues while doing a somewhat poor job of being united; instead seemingly isolated from each other.

The dialogue between the characters was realistic and very contemporary, and the unique use of mobile phone conversations to progress the story and deliver some of the key plot lines was fresh and entertaining. Told from different character's points of view, the reader gains a deeper understanding of the motives of each family member and how quickly things can go wrong.

There's a hit and run mystery begging to be solved, Georgia's secret begging to be revealed and the reader hoping Callum and Anya will work through their estrangement in time to save their family.

All That is Lost Between Us is a suspenseful tale about family dynamics, love, lies and trust and to celebrate this blog tour, I've created a Pinterest board so feel free to check it out before and after you read the book and let me know what you think. (I had fun putting it together for the blog tour).

My rating = ***1/2

Carpe Librum!
Check out some of the other stops on the blog tour.