2020 Monthly Status Update: January

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And so the first month of the year has come to a close! Time has been flying by lately – I’m doing the best I can to keep up! Here are some reading highlights from January for me:

Monthly Stats:
# books read this month: 8
# pages read this month: 2,408
# books read year-to-date: 8 (ha)
# pages read year-to-date: 2,408

Favorite Books I Read this Month:

I read a couple good books but nothing I’d say is a favorite!

Other Posts this month:

Immortals After Dark Series
2019 Recap and 2020 Goals! 
Podcasts Galore! Romance Novel edition

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Next Month TBR List:

  • Witness Protection Widow by Debra Webb
  • The Worst Best Man by Mia Sosa
  • Her Homecoming Wish by Jo McNally
  • Been There, Married That by Gigi Levangie
  • The Bachelor by Sabrina Jeffries

Bout of Books 24 – Sign Up Post

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So for one of my goals this year to help me focus more on reading and having more fun with my reading schedule, I am participating in two Bout of Books reading challenges plus a handful of other challenge this year! I’ve participated in these reading challenges in the past couple years and I’m usually able to get a good amount of reading done.

I’m hoping to be able to find enough time for this reading challenge to get a couple of books read. Things are picking up at work, so it my be a little tougher during the week, but I have GOAL DAY next Saturday and I should be able to make up some time then.

For those of you who don’t really know much about Bout of Books, it is basically a week-long, no pressure read-a-thon that has been going strong since 2011! Here is a description directly from the Bout of Books blog:

The Bout of Books read-a-thon is organized by Amanda Shofner and Kelly Rubidoux Apple. It is a week long read-a-thon that begins 12:01am Monday, January 7th and runs through Sunday, January 13th in whatever time zone you are in. Bout of Books is low-pressure. There are challenges, giveaways, and a grand prize, but all of these are completely optional. For all Bout of Books 24 information and updates, be sure to visit the Bout of Books blog. – From the Bout of Books team

The Bout of Books Read-a-Thon was created by Amanda @ On a Book Bender on a complete whim in August 2011. It took on a life of its own and was such a hit that Amanda decided to do it again and turn it into a somewhat regular occurrence.

  • Bout of Books is a week long read-a-thon, usually from 12:01am on a Monday through 11:59pm on a Sunday in whatever time zone you are in.
  • It is low pressure, meaning participants are only asked to push themselves to read more than they normally would during any given week. There is no competition between readers.
  • How much time a reader wants, and can commit, to read, tweet, or network with fellow bloggers is left to individual preference. All challenges and giveaways are optional.
  • Networking with fellow bloggers is actively encouraged, though never required.
  • Use Twitter to post updates throughout the read-a-thon. Everyone will be tweeting with the #boutofbooks hashtag.

I’ve been reading pretty close to on schedule lately and I’m hoping to continue that trend over the next week!

Time Devoted to Reading

I plan to read at least 1.5 hours each day during the week (except for Friday I think), with hopefully additional hours on Saturday and Sunday. Friday I’ll be working all day and then we have a work trip planned trip to the casino Friday night! This does mean that I probably won’t get much reading done on Friday but I’m looking forward to letting off a little steam with my coworkers!

My Goals

My goals for this read-a-thon are that I’d like to participate in as much as I can: the daily posts plus reading every day. I’d really like to just focus on getting back into reading. I picked it up again over the holidays but I’ve lost the schedule again with how crazy the last week or so has been.

Books to Read

List is a little ambitious but with Saturday and Sunday focused on reading who knows how much I’ll get accompished! I would’ve loved to take the whole week off and just read non-stop but work has been consistently busy since over a year ago, plus things are starting to pick up in preparation for our “busy season.” Anyways, I’m really looking forward to this week-long reading challenge devoted to reading ! If you do want to join make sure to add yourself to the page’s Sign Up Post by Tuesday, January 8th at 11:59pm! Happy reading!

2018 Monthly Status Update: September

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September sucked for reading. I was working or drinking, which didn’t leave much time for reading. That is all. Anyways, here are some highlights from September for me:

Monthly Stats:
# books read this month: 6
# pages read this month: 2,039
# books read year-to-date: 82
# pages read year-to-date: 27,200

Favorite Books I Read this Month:

 

Josh and Hazel’s Guide to Not Dating by Christina Lauren – 4.75 stars
Intercepted by Alexa Martin – 4.5 stars

Other Posts this month:

Nothing else this month! Too busy with work and other festivities!

Next Month TBR List:

Next month is going to be pretty busy for me. This next week I’m on vacation but we have alot of fun activities planned so I’m not sure how much reading I’ll get done. And then after we’re back I have a TON of work to do so  not sure I’ll get much reading done either. And I’ve been having trouble the last couple weeks – my stifling schedule is rubbing me the wrong way a bit and I’ve been wanting to read whatever I want to read. So who knows what I’ll actually read next month. But here are the books that I should be getting read in October:

-The Witch of Willow Hall by Hester Fox
-Under My Skin by Lisa Unger
-The Lies We Told by Camilla Way
-Ogre Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine
-You Were Always Mine by Nicole Baart
-Duchess by Design by Maya Rodale
-First Earl I See Tonight by Anna Bennett
-As Good As the First Time by K.M.Jackson
-The Highlander Who Protected Me by Vanessa Kelly

My mom and I love October and are super excited for Halloween. Happy reading everyone! Hope you enjoy the spookiest month of the year!

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ARC August 2018 – Update #2

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I was killing it this week! Between getting stuff done at home and at work and also getting my books read, I have been on point and on target! It was a busy work week and this next week is looking busy as well but I’m committed to reading as much as I can this month. Anyways, so here’s where I stand right now:

MY PROGRESS

August 2018 ARC’s

Good Luck With That by Kristan Higgins – Read and reviewed (Week 1)
-Our House by Louise Candlish – Read and reviewed (Week 2)
Smothered by Autumn Chiklis – Read and reviewed (Week 1)
-The Duke of Seduction by Darcy Burke
-Maybe For You by Nicole McLaughlin
-Cowboy, Cross My Heart by Donna Grant
-The Duke with the Dragon Tattoo
-Leave No Trace by Mindy Mejia

Additions

-Jane Doe by Victoria Helen Stone
-BuzzBooks 2018 Romance Sampler – Read and reviewed (Week 2)

Backlog ARC’s

I’m actually using a reading challenge to help me whittle away at the 2016 and 2017 backlog list, so for this challenge I’d like to get to the following:

-A book told through letters
-A book with a five-word title Read and reviewed At the Heart of It by Tawna Fenske (Week 2)
-A book whose cover features nature
-A book whose title begins with K, Q, J, X, or Z
-A book you bought (requested) for the cover
-A book written by an author who wrote one of your favorite 2017 books
-A book with a one-word title

Books Read August 6th – 12th

At the Heart of It by Tawna Fenske – 3.0 stars
Our House by Louise Candlish – 3.25 stars
BuzzBooks 2018 Romance – 4.0 stars

Plan for Upcoming Week

This week is going to be super fun! Work will be crazy, as usual, this week. But this coming weekend my husband, parents, and I will be traveling to PA for my cousins wedding. And we couldn’t be more excited for him and his future bride, and to celebrate with my family. We’ll see how much reading I get done, but even if its none it’ll still be a great time. Happy reading everyone!!

2018 Monthly Status Update: July

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Holy monkeys July flew by. We were able to fit in a couple fun trips this month, but I’ve also been very busy with work and that’s taking away from reading time a little. Still I’m devoted to keeping up with my schedule as much as possible. Anyways, here are some highlights from July for me:

Monthly Stats:
# books read this month: 10
# pages read this month: 3,451
# books read year-to-date: 64
# pages read year-to-date: 21,119

Favorite Books I Read this Month:

Love and Other Words by Christina Lauren – 5.0 stars
Believe Me by JP Delaney – 4.75 stars
The Home for Unwanted Girls by Joanna Goodman – 4.75 stars

Other Posts this month:

COVER REVEAL – The Duke of Seduction by Darcy Burke
One Wedding, Two Brides BLOG TOUR!!

Next Month TBR List:

Next month I only have a good number titles scheduled, I’m looking forward to spending a lot of time reading! Work is a never ending stream of crazy and chaos and I am hoping to carve out some time to keep taking care of me while still getting everything done that I need to! Check out my ARC August 2018 Sign Up Post to see what my TBR list is for August.

Happy reading everyone!

2018 Status Update: June

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June was the best. Well, the later part of the month was anyways. The first weekend was quilting retreat where I did get some good reading done. The following couple weeks I was crazy busy at work so I didn’t get any work done. But then! I went away to my family’s house in Maine for a week and I read non-stop and it was the best! I need to find a way to better balance my work and personal life so that I can fit in more reading time. Anyways, here are some highlights from June for me:

Monthly Stats:
# books read this month: 12
# pages read this month: 3,818
# books read year-to-date: 54
# pages read year-to-date: 17,668

Favorite Books I Read this Month:

The Death of Mrs. Westaway by Ruth Ware – 4.5 stars
The Highlander’s Promise by Lynsay Sands – 4.25 stars

Other Posts this month:

Quilting Retreat 2018
Paperback Release – The Girl in the Tower by Katherine Arden

Next Month TBR List:

Next month I only have a good number titles scheduled:

-90’s Bitch by Allison Yarrow
-Warrior of Clan Kincaid by Lily Blackwood
-Set the Night on Fire by Laura Trentham

Short list for July but I’m hoping to use the extra time to get through some of the other 2018 scheduled reviews that I’ve missed so far this year.  Hopefully July will be a productive month! Happy reading everyone!

Quilting Retreat 2018

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For those of you that don’t know, I attend a couple different quilting retreats with my Mom every year. I’m not a quilter but I have found over the years that a quilting retreat is a great way to get some good reading done! So I tag along and while all the other ladies are quilting, I read! This year I was also determined that be creative as well so I brought a coloring book and a cross stitch project (unopened) with me to break up the routine and do something different. This year was another super productive and fun year, and I wanted to share with you readers a run-down of what happens at our mystical retreat weekends!

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Friday

Friday is a great day since its the first day of retreat! Mom and I leave in the morning, we stop somewhere on the way for breakfast (this year was Dunkin Donuts since it coincided with Free Donut Day!) and we try to arrive as close to (but not before) 10am as possible. Our retreat is hosted at the Incarnation Center in Ivoryton, CT. Retreat is held in The Lodge building, all the ladies stay in rooms on the wings and then there are tables set up in the center common room for the quilters. I lucked out and found a little nook right next to my Mom’s table that I use as my command center for the weekend. After we arrive Friday, we unload the car (which is a fantastic form of organized chaos), unpack our bags and get settled. Our rooms are private (there are some shared rooms if you wanted to share with people) and we each have a twin size bed. Bathrooms are shared in the hallway but the individual stalls have their own doors so it still ends up being very private. My mom and I always are in rooms at the very end of one of the hallways, which is right next to the building’s little library. Lunch is at 12:30pm so we spend the time before lunch getting stuff organized and catching up with the other lovely ladies at retreat. We’re also very lucky in that the dining area is right in our building, which is pretty convenient when its raining. So after lunch we have about a solid 5 hour stretch until dinner, then after dinner we have time to get things done until whenever we feel like going to bed. Also on Friday this year we were very lucky that a local store, Cate’s Sew Modern, came to our retreat center with items we could buy. Their store has such great fabrics, and though I’m not a quilter I am an avid fabric fan and I usually convince my Mom to buy something. They were so nice and we were very lucky to have them join us for an afternoon!

So that’s the basic rundown for Friday. I was able to finish a book, color a picture, and do a couple blog posts (my May wrap up blog post and a review of the book I finished, The Death of Mrs. Westaway). I also started a new book and got maybe 1/3 of the way done before bed. I was supposed to be working for a little bit but I couldn’t get my webcast to load so I skipped that. My mom also got one of her quilt tops done, I included a picture of it below!

 

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Saturday

Saturday is a wonderful, full day of retreating! Meals are at 8am, 12:30pm and 6pm. There is a snack table for snacks. Mom and I usually try to get to a local winery, Chamard Vineyards, before lunch but this year we decided to go after lunch. We stopped by the Clinton Outlets first and walked around, but we weren’t in a spending mood so we walked away empty handed. We didn’t walk away empty-handed from the winery though! We had a wonderful time at Chamard, and though we had a little trouble at first finding room at the bar, once we did we had great wines and great service. We went back to retreat after purchasing a few bottles.

Saturday I got a lot done, I finished the book I started on Friday, Rainwater, and had time to do a post on it, plus I read a whole other book before bed. I also colored another picture and started a cross-stitch project. Our friend at retreat also showed us a quilt she was working on and the fabric had characters from a book series I was a huge fan of as a kid, I included that picture and a couple other quilter pictures of Mom below.

 

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Sunday

Sunday is a short day and is a little sad because we are getting ready to leave. Mom and I pack the car a little bit every hour so that by the time lunch is over we can just drive away. After posting about the book I finished before bed Saturday (The Opposite of Here), packing up all my junk, and working on my cross stitch project for awhile, there wasn’t much time left for reading. I did start a new book but didn’t get very far on it yet. That’s ok though! My mom did end up having time to finish putting a quilt top together, and I thought it looked awesome! Overall I felt super productive this past weekend and I was able to really do a lot of the things that I love doing. Plus the weather Sunday was GORGEOUS! The other two days were pretty humid and hot but Sunday was crisp and clear. Beautiful weather and a beautiful day.

Lunch is at 12:30pm and then Mom and I wrap things up pretty quickly after that. We always stop for a (good) coffee on our way home. I was very happy to see my husband and kitties once I got home Sunday, and after my very productive weekend, I spent the rest of the day Sunday relaxing on the couch. 🙂

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That’s a wrap! 

And that’s retreat! The other ladies do A LOT of quilting, and there are fun quilting related grab bags and door prizes and what not but since I’m not a quilter I kind of end up doing my own thing. I always have a lot of fun though and I can’t wait for next year!

Bout of Books Update – Day 3

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So Tuesday didn’t go great. I had some personal things come up that flowed over into Wednesday also. My reading progress was not awesome but everybody’s gotta deal with crap sometimes so that’s that.

Update

Tuesday & Wednesday

Time spent reading: (Approximately) 1.5 hours (been working toooo much)
Number of pages I’ve read today: 127 pages
Total number of pages I’ve read: 234 pages
Books read: Continued reading The Favorite Sister by Jessica Knoll
Challenges: I did not participate in the daily post challenge for Tuesday or Wednesday

Hopefully things kind of turn around, although I’m getting together with friends the next two nights and then I have a bridal shower and work on Saturday. So we’ll see how the next few days go I guess.Part of my problem is I’m just not loving the book I’m reading right now but I have to get moving because I’m getting really behind. Hope everyone has a happy reading week!

A Duke Like No Other BLOG TOUR!!

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A Duke Like No Other was released this past Tuesday, May 1st, and to celebrate I am participating in a Blog Tour for the book! If you haven’t already seen it, you can find my review of the book under Book Reviews on my site. See below for more information about the book, a short author bio, and an excerpt! This was a good read and I would recommend checking it out!

SUMMARY

First comes love, then comes marriage. Unless it’s the otherway around. . .

General Mark Grimaldi has sacrificed everything for his military career, working his way through the ranks without the benefit of a nobleman’s title. Now, his years of dedication are about to pay off—with an offer for a prestigious promotion to Home Secretary. There’s only one condition: Mark must be married. Aside from the small matter of not actually wanting to be wed, Mark faces another troubling problem: he already has a wife.

Nicole Huntington Grimaldi has spent ten contented years in France without her husband—and without regret. When Mark asks her to return to London and play the part of his beloved wife, she sees her chance. But neither of them is prepared for news that will throw Mark’s future into chaos…nor the undeniable desire they’ve rekindled. Maybe happily-ever-after can happen the second time around in A Duke Like No Other, the next Regency romance from Valerie Bowman.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Valerie BowmanVALERIE BOWMAN grew up in Illinois with six sisters (she’s number seven) and a huge supply of historical romance novels. After a cold and snowy stint earning a degree in English with a minor in history at Smith College, she moved to Florida the first chance she got. Valerie now lives in Jacksonville with her family including her mini-schnauzer, Huckleberry. When she’s not writing, she keeps busy reading, traveling, or vacillating between watching crazy reality TV and PBS. She is the author of the Secret Brides and Playful Brides series.

BUY IT HERE!

Amazon
Barnes & Noble
Books-A-Million
Indie Bound
Powells

EXCERPT

51zwYAwGydLCHAPTER THREE

Mark quirked his mouth into a half smile. Nicole had always been direct. It was one of the things that had first drawn him to her. She wasn’t about to let him get away with arriving unannounced without admitting that he wanted something. Good, because he liked to be direct too. “You’re right. I do want something from you.”

“Say it.” She crossed one leg over the other and for the life of him he couldn’t stop staring at how those breeches hugged her long legs. Outside, he’d been slightly obsessed with how they hugged another part of her anatomy. And that shirt . . . the one that was exposing her chest in a way that made the back of his neck sweat. Leave it to Nicole to have her hair down and to be wearing breeches while riding around a French château on a horse named Atalanta. She’d been besting the comte in the race they’d been engaged in. That was also like her. She adored competition and hated to lose at anything. If he had any hope of her saying yes to his proposal, he needed to make certain he didn’t become her adversary . . . again.

He glanced around the drawing room. Outfitted in rose and cream silks with the occasional hint of green, the room was tastefully decorated. The château itself was large and well appointed without being ostentatious. She had access to his money but had never spent a shilling of it. No, this was all a result of her own money or her family’s.

He spread his arms wide along the back of the settee. “No reminiscing? No catching up? No discussing the good times?”

Her dark red eyebrow inched even higher. “Were there good times? I seem to recall those being few and far between.”

“There were a few.” In bed. He tugged at his collar.

She poked at the chignon on the back of her head. Only she could make a quickly put-together hair arrangement look effortlessly gorgeous. Several tendrils of the long red locks fell to frame her face, which wore a decidedly disgruntled look. “Out with it. I’m quite busy. I’m attending a dinner party this evening and I must dress.”

Mark bit the inside of his cheek but ultimately he couldn’t keep the comment that had sprung to his lips to himself. “A cleaner pair of breeches?” Damn, she looked good in those breeches. She looked good altogether. Better than good. The years had been kind to her. The fresh-faced plumpness of her cheeks had given way to a slenderness that made her cheekbones prominent. Her lips were still full and pink and inviting. Her hair luxurious, soft and smooth. Her eyes looked more world-weary, to be sure, but their sea-foam-green depths were still astute and intelligent. Her body was still trim and fit. Her thighs looked even fitter, probably from riding astride. Ahem. What he wouldn’t give to see those thighs once more, to have them wrapped tightly around his—

“Despite my present appearance, I do own a gown or two.” Her words snapped him out of his indecent line of thought. She gave him another tight smile.

He stood, crossed to the nearby sideboard, and poured himself a brandy. “Going to meet the comte again?”

“Careful,” came her throaty voice from the settee. “It’s nearly sounding as if you’re jealous.”

Still facing the sideboard, he cocked his head to the side. “Jealous? Whatever does that word mean?”

“The comte is a friend, nothing more.” Her voice sounded dismissive. He didn’t believe her, however.

Mark splashed more brandy into his glass. “I’m certain you’d tell me if he weren’t.”

“I’m certain you’d care.”

Mark turned back toward her and took a healthy swig of his drink. “A man doesn’t like to think of his wife in the bed of another.”

She actually rolled her eyes at that comment. “Oh, you’ve been celibate all these years then?” she countered, her voice dripping with skepticism.

He had been, but he’d die a slow death back in the French prison camp before he told her that. However, he wasn’t so unrealistic as to think Nicole would have remained untouched. They had agreed to part ways, hadn’t seen each other in ten years. She was a beautiful woman in the prime of her life. Still, the notion of punching the comte dead in the face held a great deal of appeal at the moment. “I’ve never been one to kiss and tell, love.”

She gave him a tight smile, which clearly indicated she didn’t believe him, either. “You’re a general now?” she asked abruptly, clearly ready to change the subject.

“I am.” He moved to the window and looked out across the lavender fields, one arm held behind his ramrod-straight back as if he were surveying a battlefield. The stance was still comfortable for him even after all these years of working for the Home Office.

“I suppose congratulations are in order.” The tea arrived and Nicole poured a cup for herself and splashed in a liberal amount of cream. He remembered that about her. She took her tea with no sugar, just cream.

“No congratulations needed,” he intoned, taking another swig of brandy.

The silver spoon she used to stir her tea clinked against the delicate china teacup. “I must admit, I’ve often wondered when I’d get a missive that you’d been killed.”

His chuckle was humorless. He turned to face her. “Such little faith in me? Or wishful thinking?”

“Neither,” she replied, lifting the cup to her pink lips. “Just a profound knowledge of how reckless you are.”

He inclined his head. “Used to be.”

“Really?” She raised a brow. “Is that why you’ve come? To tell me you’ve changed?”

He chuckled. “I haven’t changed that much.”

“I’m not surprised.” She set down her teacup and crossed her arms over her chest. “Tell me, Mark, why have you come?”

He saluted her with his glass, the amber-colored liquid shining in the afternoon sunlight. “You were right. I need a favor from you.”

She didn’t so much as bat an eyelash. “Of course you do. What’s the favor?” She picked up her cup once more and took a sip.

He downed the final splash of brandy and met her gaze. “I need you to return to England with me for a few months and pretend to be my loving wife.”

 

Copyright © 2018 by Valerie Bowman in A Duke Like No Other and reprinted by permission of St. Martin’s Paperbacks.

 

2018 Book #24 – Hatshepsut by in60Learning

414PLQBXWqL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_Title: Hatshepsut: The Pharaoh-Queen of Egypt
Author: in60Learning
Date finished: 3/30/18
Genre: Non-fiction
Publisher: Self-published
Publication Date: February 4, 2018
Pages in book: 52
Stand alone or series: Stand alone
Where I got the book from: Author/Publisher
NOTE: I received this book for free from the author/publisher in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Blurb from the cover:

Smarter in sixty minutes.
Get smarter in just 60 minutes with in60Learning. Concise and elegantly written non-fiction books and audiobooks help you learn the core subject matter in 20% of the time that it takes to read a typical book. Life is short, so explore a multitude of fascinating historical, biographical, scientific, political, and financial topics in only an hour each.
When Pharaoh Thutmose II died, he left an heir far too young to rule Egypt. His widow Hatshepsut stepped up to take his place. For at least the next 20 years, Hatshepsut ruled as Pharaoh King of Egypt in an era of prosperous growth and peace. When she died, her nephew Thutmose III attempted to smear her good name and wipe her memory from history. However, despite his efforts, his aunt Hatshepsut holds the title of most famous native Egyptian woman to ever rule as pharaoh; she also retains a legacy as one of the most successful female leaders in early history.

My rating:  3.5 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review.

When I was contacted with the opportunity to review this book I was really intrigued. I have always found history somewhat interesting but whenever I really start trying to get through any kind of text on history I can’t stay focused long enough to get through the information. So the concept of a short but sweet historical text sounded like just what I needed to get in a little learning! And this book definitely delivered, it was only about an hour to an hour and a half of reading (I get interrupted a lot) and presented the facts in a format that was really straight forward and easy to understand. The text was really approachable and the chapters were brief, which made it easier to get through the reading. While non-fiction still isn’t necessarily my favorite thing to read, this book was really a great in between for me where I was able to learn a little about historical events. I would really recommend trying these books for a little brief learning adventure.

For anyone interested in signing up with the author’s site to receive updates on promos and new releases; contribute to ideas for their coming work; and be notified of their blogger partners’ work, use the sign up form here.

Link to author website

Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page