Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Winner of "When the Bough Breaks"

Well, I have drawn a name from those who entered the drawing for an autographed copy of Miss Mae's young adult novel, When the Bough Breaks. The winner is....


Congratulations, Lori! Contact me at jaimeygrant (at) yahoo [dot] com to confirm your win. You are in for a treat!

Everyone else, here are those purchasing links again, LOL. :o)

Thank you, everyone, for participating and I hope to see you all again.

*Winner was selected using random.org.

Monday, December 28, 2009

What I'm Supposed to be Doing Right Now

I'm supposed to draw a winner today for Miss Mae's young adult novel, When the Bough Breaks. Due to a high stress day--already--I will continue to accept entries until tonight. So those of you who thought you'd missed out, you still have a few hours to enter. I will draw a winner before I retire and post it tomorrow.

I apologize for the slight delay.

I wish everyone a lovely and stress-free day! :o)

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

~Author Interview & Book Giveaway~ Miss Mae, author of When the Bough Breaks

The day is finally here! Today I am interviewing the lovely and talented Miss Mae, author of the excellent YA novel, When the Bough Breaks. Discover the reason behind her pen name, the inspiration for her new release, and what time period she prefers. Then find out how you can win a copy of When the Bough Breaks.

To read my 5-pearl review of When the Bough Breaks, click here.

I always ask, have you always wanted to be a writer?

Well, pretty much. When I was younger, my dream was to be an artist. I took art classes in school and was told I had talent. One of my still life drawings was presented at an exhibition. This desire stayed with me until my teen years when I became drawn to romantic suspense from the library books I checked out. After reading those, I dreamed of creating my own worlds and characters.

"Miss Mae" is a pseudonym, I assume. Why did you choose to use a pen name?

Though my name is only four letters, people seem to have the hardest time remembering it, or pronouncing it correctly, or spelling it the proper way. I decided, if published, I needed something really simple and easy!

Give us a little glimpse into how your mind works. Do you think of a character or scene first? How does the story progress from there?

Hmm, you know I'm not exactly sure myself! LOL I think just a seed pops up, and I don't really think about it much. Weeks, or months may pass and over time that seed will take shape and morph into a "formula." So I guess it's the scenes first that appears and then the characters are created to fit.

What was the inspiration behind When the Bough Breaks?

LOL, the concept of the "bad boy" being tamed by his love for the "good girl". But in this particular story, I had to come up with a reason for his supposed "playboy" reputation. So the "rich master of the big house in a small town" was added, and the ensuing secrets that came along just created extra spice!

Do you like to listen to music while you write? If so, what type of music do you prefer?

No, I can't listen to music. Too distracting. I prefer quiet, but that's hard to find with four dogs running in and out of my room!

Just for fun, what's your favorite color? Food? Animal? Time period?

My favorite color is blue, but red comes close to tying it. Favorite food is chocolate...yum! And animal? Wow, I can't say there's a favorite since I adore animals (I can't eat them either). And time period...um, probably 1950's and early 1960's. Seemed like such a fun age then (thinking "Happy Days" here.)

Where can we find your books?

It would really help so much if prospective buyers would buy straight from the publishers' sites. That would be The Wild Rose Press and Whimsical Publications.

Direct book links from the publishers:

Thank you for joining us, Miss Mae!

Want a chance to win a paperback of When the Bough Breaks? Miss Mae has graciously agreed to send a paperback copy to one very fortunate reader.

First, the ground rules:
  1. You must be a follower of this blog. This makes it easier for me to contact you if you've won. Following is not an entry but it is required. I've only done a few giveaways but I've already experienced problems when the entrants don't follow me.
  2. Multiple entries are allowed. Leave separate comments for each entry. For example, if you choose to follow Miss Mae's author blog and her group blog, leave one comment stating that you follow her author blog and one comment stating that you follow her group blog. Any questions?
  3. Make sure your comment(s) are unique, as in, if you are known as Jane Doe, please add something to your comment to differentiate yourself from the other Jane Does out there.
  4. This giveaway is open to US residents only. If you are under 18, please have an adult enter for you.

Here's how to enter:
  1. Follow Miss Mae's author blog, Pure Southern Genteel. You must follow publicly and leave a comment on this post to indicate you're following or we won't know that you are.
  2. Follow Miss Mae's group blog, The Sweetest Romance Authors. Again, you must follow publicly and leave a comment on this post to be entered.
It's that simple. A winner will be drawn Monday, December 28. Entries will be accepted until December 27, Midnight Eastern time. The winner will be announced on this blog on Monday, 12/28. Check back then to see if you won.

Happy reading, writing, and blogging!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Just a Quick Update

Hi! I just wanted to let you all know that I haven't fallen off the earth. I am participating in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), attempting to write 50,000 words in 30 days. (If this is the first you've heard of NaNoWriMo, please visit www.nanowrimo.org for more info.)

This has severely limited my reading and reviewing. I am focusing on books I've been asked to review instead of just any old book I happen to pick up.

If you're curious about the novel I've chosen to write...it's fantasy, not romance, although there is an element of romance in it. There is a medieval-ish fictional world, a group of mad scientists who seem to be pulling the strings, a king who turns into a dragon, a genetically engineered dragon hunter who doesn't know what she is and doesn't understand why she hates dragons, and killer mermaids. That's right, I said genetically engineered. I am attempting to write a medieval fantasy with a strong dose of technology. We'll see if I can do it. As of this post, my word count is 28,085.

What's coming up for Romance, Old School?
  1. I do have two reviews to prepare and post. I will try to get these posted within the next week or so.
  2. Later this month, hopefully, I will be posting an interview and giveaway with the talented Miss Mae, author of When the Bough Breaks.
Thank you for reading and following my reviews blog. If anything else occurs to prevent my normal review postings, I will be sure to inform you. If any of you are participating in NaNoWriMo, click the participant pic above to add me as a buddy. :o)

Happy reading, writing and blogging!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The Winners of "Troubled Hearts"

Hello, loyal readers! I am sorry for the slight delay in announcing the winners of Donna Hatch's Regency novella, Trouble Hearts. I am preparing for NaNoWriMo and procrastination has always been my biggest fault. :o)

That said, here are the two fortunate ladies who won this drawing:


Now, I don't have last names. Christy left comment #4 and Brooke left comment #8. Ladies, you are in for a treat!

You have 7 days from this post to contact me, jaimeygrant(at)yahoo(dot)com, with your email. I will forward the information on to Donna. Please allow Donna some time to email the file. She is a busy lady, which is good since we all look forward to her future releases. :o)

In closing, thank you, Donna, for answering my questions and providing such a great prize for my readers. Thank you, readers, for participating. I hope you enjoyed the interview and will check out Donna's work. You won't be sorry.

The Stranger She Married can be purchased in paperback from Amazon and The Wild Rose Press, as well as directly from the author on her blog or website. E-books are available for the Kindle in Amazon's Kindle Store and in PDF, MS Reader, and HTML formats from The Wild Rose Press. Troubled Hearts can be purchased from The Wild Rose Press in PDF, MS Reader and HTML formats.

*Winner was selected using Random.org.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Book Giveaway and Interview with Romance Writer Donna Hatch

Hello, my lovely readers! I have a special treat for you today. Donna Hatch, the talented author of The Stranger She Married, has kindly agreed to answer a few questions. (To see my 5-pearl review of Donna's fabulous book, click here.)

Me: The first question is one I always ask, even if it's been answered before. Did you always want to be a writer?

Donna: Yes. And an actress. And a ballerina. I tried to do it all; I took ballet and I was in theater in school, not to mention I'm a drama queen in real life, but desire doesn't always equal talent. I've been writing stories since I was about 8.

Me: You certainly have tried to do it all! I know you have a large family. How do you find the time to research, write, and network without neglecting them?

Donna: What? You mean six children is considered a large family? ;-) At first I wrote either during nap time or late at night after everyone was in bed. Or when suffering from insomnia. Then I got really crazed about writing and started doing it instead of housework, or scrapbooking, or ... well, pretty much everything else. It did get easier when my youngest started school. Now I have a few hours in the morning that I can write before I have to leave for work.

Me: I only have two children and find it a bit overwhelming at times. I congratulate you on developing a schedule that works. You are a bit of an expert in regard to Regency England. What started you off on this obsession?

Donna: I don't consider myself an expert by any stretch, but I have extensively researched it. I had stories in my head demanding to be told, but I didn't know precisely which period to set them in. I vacillated between Regency and Victorian. It wasn't until I really started delving into the differences between them that I fell in love with this unique and short time period. I ruled out the Victorian Era because the strictures became more rigid and the clothing more extreme. However, I mostly love Regency because there's something fleeting and magical that captures my interest. By then, people began bathing on a regular basis - the rich even had indoor plumbing, men were dressing more manly and less foppish than earlier eras, they had gotten rid of those ridiculous wigs, and it was a time of revolution; education, science, the beginning of the industrial age. Also, it was right after the war, which creates the perfect situation for returning war heroes with wounds both seen and unseen. I love nothing more than a wounded hero who needs a woman to heal and save him.

Me: Who doesn't love a battle-scarred hero? What are the best reference materials that you have come across?

Donna: Anything by Jane Austen or the Bronte Sisters are great for getting the facts and the feel of the era. As far as research books here are some of the best:
Our Tempestuous Day by Carolly Erickson
The Half Mad Lord by Thomas Pitt
Georgette Heyer’s Regency World
Regency Etiquette: The Mirror of Graces, 1811, by a Lady of Distinction
The Regency Companion, Sharon Laudermilk and Teresa L Hamlin

Also, Georgette Heyer is considered the Queen of Regencies, although some of hers are Georgian. Frederica and The Grand Sophy are excellent for Regency feel. But beware; she deliberately threw in some things that we now call "Heyerisms" because she was trying to expose other authors who were using her as a source rather than doing their own research.

My favorite source is my Regency writer's group. I can go online and ask for help on anything Regency and either get a quick answer from an expert or a recommendation for a good source.

Me: Well, since I have only read a couple of Ms Heyer's works at this point, I guess I don't have to worry about falling into the trap. One last question, and this is the most important. How soon can we expect the next book in your "Rogue Hearts" series? LOL

Donna: The second in the series, The Guise of a Gentleman, which is about piratical Jared, will be out in April 2010.

Me: Excellent! I can hardly wait for its release. Thank you so much for joining us today, Donna!

Now for the giveaway!

Donna has graciously agreed to award two copies of her short story e-book, Troubled Hearts, to a couple of very fortunate readers.

How can you enter to win?
  1. For 1 entry, comment on this post. Tell us what you love about the Regency period. If you are unfamiliar with the period, tell us that.
  2. For 1 entry, follow Donna's blog, http://donnahatch.blogspot.com.
  3. For 1 entry, follow Donna's group blog, Historical Hussies.
Multiple entries are allowed, so do all three if you want. Deadline for entering this contest is October 25, Midnight Eastern Time. The winner will ONLY be announced here so check back on October 26 to see if you've won. (I suggest subscribing or becoming a follower of this blog to avoid missing the announcement.) If you're the winner, contact me at jaimeygrant(at)yahoo(dot)com with your email.

Monday, October 12, 2009

~Book Review~ "The Mercenary's Marriage" by Rachel Rossano

Title: The Mercenary's Marriage
Author: Rachel Rossano
Genre: Fiction/Romance/Fantasy
Publisher: Lulu
ISBN (paperback): 1411618440
Format: e-book, 113 pages
List Price (paperback): $10.95US
Reviewed: October 8, 2009
Rating: 4.8 pearls (Wow.)
Warnings: None

Synopsis: A slave girl finds safety and freedom with an unlikely savior, a hardened mercenary.

My two cents: Although fantasy, there are no common fantasy elements present in this story. It has the feel of a medieval romance. This was a definite plus in my opinion. I love the fantasy genre but don't really care for the magic that is so often a part of it.

This is a story that starts out strong, in the aftermath of a battle, and continues in a fast-paced manner until the satisfying conclusion. I started it and was finished within a few hours. It was a short, but exciting, read. Every time I walked away, I was thinking about the main characters and wondering what would happen next.

The love scenes are few and very vague but Ms Rossano managed to infuse a remarkable amount of feeling into the brief scenes. It was very well done.

This review is based on the e-book provided by the author. Paperbacks can be purchased from Amazon and Lulu.com.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

The Winner of By Love or By Sea

Rachel has announced the winner of the autographed copy of
By Love or By Sea.

Congratulations to

Wendy Richards

and thank you to all who entered to win! Have a lovely day!!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Blog Tour for Rachel Rager's By Love or By Sea

Hello, all!

This is just a friendly reminder that Rachel's blog tour will be ending soon. If you haven't entered to win an autographed copy of this sweet romance, time is running out. For multiple entries, leave a comment on each of the reviews of By Love or By Sea on each of the participating blogs. You can also follow Rachel's blog for an additional entry.

Here are the links to all the reviews posted so far (Make sure to leave your comment on the review. Otherwise, it doesn't count.):

September 28 - Jaimey Grant
September 29 - Kaylee Baldwin
September 30 - Cindy Beck
October 1 - Kim Thompson
October 2 - Alison Palmer
October 3 - JoAnn Arnolds
October 5 - Rebecca Talley
October 6 - Anna Arnett
October 7 - Heather Justensen

And don't forget to check back here in a day or two for my interview with Donna Hatch!

Saturday, October 3, 2009

~Book Review~ "Under a Lakota Moon" by Deborah L Weikel

Title: Under a Lakota Moon
Author: Deborah L Weikel
Genre: Fiction/Romance/Historical/Inspirational
Publisher: Walnut Springs Press
ISBN: 978-1-93521-718-3
Format: Trade Paperback, 289 pages
List Price: $15.95US
Reviewed: October 3, 2009
Rated: 3.2 pearls (Good. Probably could have been better, but worth the read.)
Warnings: None other than a strong religious theme (it is an inspirational romance, after all)

Synopsis: In 1870, divorced mother of two Rosalynn, moves to Minnesota to help her sister with her children. She arrives to find her sister gone, the children with the minister, and an angry half-Lakota brave named Lone Wolf who insists that the house and land are his along with the children.

My two cents: I had trouble putting this book down. Any book that keeps me coming back to it over and over definitely deserves at least 3 pearls. It was easy to visualize everything as it happened. The romance was incredibly sweet and any love scenes were completely vague. I was intrigued with the inner struggle of Rosalynn. The storyline was predictable, but the real focus was the heroine's determination to retain a firm hold on her sanity through her faith in God.

What made me deduct almost two pearls? Everything was too perfect for believability. I had some trouble accepting that these characters, with all of their very real insecurities, would have acted the way they did. They had these insecurities but no flaws. It was very hard for me to relate to characters who were so perfect. On the other hand, the villain(s) had nothing but flaws. I had trouble connecting with characters that were all so black and white.

Overall, I thought it was good but probably could have been better.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Book Review: The Stranger She Married by Donna Hatch

Title: The Stranger She Married
Author: Donna Hatch
Series: Rogue Hearts, #1
Genre: Fiction/Romance/Historical/Regency
ISBN (paperback): 1601543344
Format: e-book, 352 pages
List Price: $6.00US (e-book)
Reviewed: September 28, 2009
Rating: 5 pearls (4.9)
Warnings: None

Synopsis: Alicia Palmer must save her family from ruin by marrying and marrying well. Her choices, however, leave much to be desired. Enter Cole, Viscount Amesbury, a man with a deadly secret, a secret that could destroy the fragile trust growing between them. Meanwhile, someone is trying to kill off every member of her family.

My two cents: Oh my. I have a new favorite Regency author. I am blown away. Enough of that. Now for the reasons why...

Ms Hatch has a steady grasp of the period and a definite knack for characters, settings, and drama. There were so many times I didn't want to stop reading. Drat the responsibilities of adulthood! I was enchanted with the hero from the very first. All the characters were well-developed and likable--or unlikable, in the case of some. The plot was a rather common Regency theme (the young woman needing to marry to save her family from penury), yet done in such a way as to be entirely fresh and new.

And the twists. Wow. Just when I thought I knew who the killer was, I was proven wrong.

I loved how Ms Hatch refrained from including detailed love scenes and still managed to convey the emotions that ruled these characters. It was a thrilling, lovely, romantic adventure. I eagerly anticipate the next book in the series.

*This review is based on the PDF e-book.

The Stranger She Married can be purchased in paperback from Amazon and The Wild Rose Press, as well as directly from the author on her blog or website. E-books are available for the Kindle in Amazon's Kindle Store and in PDF, MS Reader, and HTML formats from The Wild Rose Press.

Coming soon: An interview and giveaway with Donna Hatch!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Blog Tour: Book Review of By Love or By Sea by Rachel Rager

Title: By Love or By Sea
Author: Rachel Rager
Genre: Fiction/Romance/Historical
Publisher: Cedar Fort, Inc
ISBN: 978-1-59955-221-7
Format: Trade Paperback, 206 pages
Reviewed: September 26, 2009
Rating: 4 pearls (4.1)
Warnings: None

Synopsis: Alice Lind Frank is thrown for a loop when the boy she adored as a child--and believed to be dead--comes back as a man with a bitter secret. While falling for him all over again, the other man she'd promised to marry decides he will not let her go so easily.

My two cents: Ms Rager definitely has a talent for drawing you into a story and tugging your emotions. I found myself tearing up more than once but the smiles were prevalent throughout, also. It was a very, very sweet story, the kind that makes you sigh a little. Despite the fact that there was no clear distinction in regard to historical time period, it was still remarkably easy to visualize everything as it happened. The storyline was intriguing and the characters were quite likable. I appreciated that love scenes were kept at nothing more than a few kisses. I am looking forward to future books from this author.

By Love or By Sea can be purchased at Amazon and Cedar Fort, Inc.

Blog tour details:
Remember, if you leave a comment on this review, or follow Rachel's blog, you will be entered to win an autographed copy of this charming novel. By doing both, you will be entered twice. Leaving a comment on the other reviews of By Love or By Sea on the other blogs in this tour will get you additional entries, as well.

Here are the other blogs participating in this tour:

September 29 - Kaylee Baldwin
September 30 - Cindy Beck
October 1 - Kim Thompson
October 2 - Alison Palmer
October 3 - JoAnn Arnolds
October 5 - Rebecca Talley
October 6 - Anna Arnett
October 7 - Heather Justensen
October 9 - Joyce DiPastena
Also doing a review - Liz Adair

Friday, September 18, 2009

Blog Tour for Rachel Rager's By Love or By Sea

Blog Tour Announcement

I am excited to announce that I am participating in the blog tour for Rachel Rager's By Love or By Sea. It is set to begin September 28 and go through October 9 (except Sunday). There will be daily reviews and the occasional author interview.

There is also a chance to win an autographed copy of this beautiful book. By leaving a comment on my review or becoming a follower of Rachel's blog (http://rachelrager.blogspot.com) you will be entered to win. If you do both and/or leave comments on multiple reviews of By Love or By Sea, you will be entered multiple times.

Here are the blogs participating in this tour:

September 28 - Jaimey Grant
September 29 - Kaylee Baldwin
September 30 - Cindy Beck
October 1 - Kim Thompson
October 2 - Alison Palmer
October 3 - JoAnn Arnolds
October 5 - Rebecca Talley
October 6 - Anna Arnett
October 7 - Heather Justensen
October 9 - Joyce DiPastena
Also doing a review - Liz Adair

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Blog Tour: Review of Illuminations of the Heart and Interview with Joyce DiPastena

Title: Illuminations of the Heart
Author: Joyce DiPastena
Blog: JDP News
Series: Connected to Loyalty's Web
Genre: Fiction/Romance/Historical
Publisher: Walnut Springs Press (click for blog)
ISBN: 978-1935217268
Format: Trade Paperback, 425 pages
List Price: 17.95US
Reviewed: August 31, 2009
Rating: 5 pearls (4.7)
Warnings: None

Synopsis: Triston de Brielle finds himself the unlikely guardian of Lady Siriol Calendri, a young widow whose resemblance to his late wife is uncanny. Battling his feelings for his dead wife and his new feelings for his beautiful ward, Triston must also contend with his enemy's treasonous plotting.

My two cents: Illuminations of the Heart is an exciting tale of love and political intrigue. Ms DiPastena paints a vivid picture of the time. Her attention to detail in regard to Medieval garb, food, and politics is enough to give an accurate view of the time without being "textbook-y" or overly descriptive. She touches on several practices and beliefs of the time that are horrifying but refrains from getting too in-depth, thereby retaining the power that love possesses in all time periods. While this book is commonly described as "sweet"--and it is indeed sweet in regard to love scenes--I think there is enough reality present to keep one from thinking the time period was all fluffy romance and fantasy.

The characters, I felt, were believable, likable, and well-developed. We got a sense of Triston's feelings of guilt, his regret and his frustration. Siri's personality was strong without being the overbearing female so many authors seem to think a strong woman should be. She knew what she wanted almost from the start and when faced with opposition, she did what most people do: she made rash decisions. I found her to be quite realistically portrayed.

The story takes us from Siri's arrival at Triston's home, to his enemy's home, and to the palace of Duke Richard, a future King of England. There were no parts that felt choppy or out of sync. The story flowed along what felt like a natural path leading up to the HEA for Triston and Siri. Not to say there are no twists or surprises. But that is something you will have to find out for yourself.

Overall, I think this book was entertaining, well-researched, and a definite keeper. I am particularly pleased that the love scenes are not detailed and the main characters do not hop into bed together at the first opportunity. In fact, if you are looking for a book with sex, this is not the book for you. Everyone who enjoys the romance for the romance, give Joyce's books a chance. She does not disappoint.

Normally, that is where I end a book review. Today, however, I have a special treat. Joyce has graciously agreed to answer a few questions, giving us a glimpse into the wonderful workings of her creative mind.

Hi, Joyce. Thank you for joining us here at Romance, Old School.

Thank you so much for participating in my blog tour, Jaimey! I'm a little nervous about being interviewed, though.

There's nothing to be nervous about. They are very painless questions, I promise. You are probably asked this a lot, but have you always wanted to write?

I never thought seriously about writing until I was in junior high school. That's when I started picking up my pencil and doodling out stories that had nothing to do with school assignments. I can't really point to anything that triggered me to start writing. I just did. To this day, I couldn't tell you why.

It surprises me how many authors just sort of "stumbled" into writing. Next question: I know you owe your interest in the Medieval time period to a certain book you read in high school. Can you give us a brief description of that book and why it touched you in such a way?

That book was The Conquering Family, by Thomas B. Costain. Actually, Costain had written a series of four books covering the reigns of the Plantagenet kings of England. I read the second book first, The Three Edwards, which dealt with the reigns of Kings Edward I, Edward II, and Edward III (father, son, and grandson kings). The Plantagenet line of kings pretty much stretched throughout most of the Middle Ages in England, so reading The Three Edwards was my first serious foray into the medieval period. Edward I quite captured my fancy at the time, and I initially thought he would be "my favorite king". But then I read the first book in the series, The Conquering Family, which covered the reigns of Henry II (founder of the Plantagenet dynasty) and his sons, Richard I (the Lionheart) and John. Henry II just blew Edward I out of the water for me. Quite simply, I fell in love with him. Not “romantic” love. There was nothing particularly handsome or dashing about him. (Perhaps quite the opposite.) Yet there was just something about the way his contemporaries described him that stirred a great affection in me for him. He seemed to be one of those rare kings who was actually more interested in trying to improve his country than in simply enjoying the “glory” or “privileges” of his rank. He is described as a man who hated war, even though circumstances forced him to spend most of his adult life at war. He was a man of tremendous energy and intellect, passion and humor. And he laid important foundations to the legal system that we have inherited from England and enjoy ourselves today.

His legacy was marred by his quarrel with Archbishop Thomas á Becket, and the son who succeeded him, Richard the Lionheart, is a more flashy character of legend. But everything I’ve read about Henry II since those high school days has only increased my love and admiration for this man. Loyalty’s Web and Illuminations of the Heart are both set during his lifetime, and although he has not yet actually appeared on the scene in any of my books, the references I make to him, small though they might be, are my own way of paying tribute to this great, underappreciated king.

Fascinating, Joyce. I can see why you have chosen Henry II as your favorite king. What are three of your favorite research materials?

For the political background of my stories, I have relied heavily on the biography, Henry II, by W.L. Warren. Life In a Medieval Castle, by Joseph and Frances Gies, is an excellent source of basic information on life among the medieval nobility. One of my favorite books for descriptions of medieval clothing is 900 Years of English Costume, by Nancy Bradfield.

Excellent! I have the first two books already. I'll have to get my hands on a copy of 900 Years of English Costume. What was the inspiration behind Illuminations of the Heart?

Basically, I fell in love with the character of Triston while I was writing Loyalty's Web, and wanted to give him a "happily ever after" story of his own. :-)

I can totally understand that. On another topic, one of the main focuses of Illuminations of the Heart is illuminated manuscripts (clever name for the book, by the way). Can you tell us, briefly, what that is?

Put simply, "illumination" was the art of decorating books in the Middle Ages with miniatures or ornamental designs painted in brilliant colors or silver or gold leaf to "illuminate" or bring light to the pages. If you'd like to see an example of a page from a medieval illuminated manuscript, you can click on this link:


Gorgeous! Makes me wish I was more of an artist. Is there one research book that you would recommend above all others that talks about illuminated manuscripts?

I actually used a combination of four research books to pull together my descriptions of illumination in Illuminations of the Heart. They were: The Book of Hours, by John Harthan; The Illuminated Manuscript, by Janet Backhouse, not to be confused with Illuminated Manuscripts, by D.M. Gill, which I also used in my research; and The Medieval Book, by Barbara A. Shailor. (By the way, you can read more about each of these books and how I used them on my Medieval Research with Joyce blog at http://medievalresearch.blogspot.com.) :-)

I highly recommend that everyone follow Joyce's research blog. It is an excellent resource.

Joyce, I know you were having some trouble recently with your current WIP (work-in-progress). Have you worked all that out enough so you can tell us a little bit about it? And is it tied in with your two current novels?

Well, I don't want to give too much away, as the hero of my new WIP is a character from Illuminations of the Heart, and for those who haven't read Illuminations yet, I don't want to spoil the fun of guessing what this character's motivations might or might not be in that story. :-) My new hero (the character from Illuminations) has never been the problem in my WIP. Just as I had a pretty good grasp of Triston from Loyalty's Web before I spun him off into his own story, I have a good grasp of my new hero from his role in Illuminations of the Heart and pretty much know where I want to take him in many respects. My challenge has been finding the right heroine for him. Siri came so easily when I began Illuminations of the Heart, but pinning down the heroine for my new WIP has indeed been giving me fits. I'm pretty sure I finally know who she is and what she wants and how and why she and my hero are going to fall in love. (Maybe. My characters have a way of surprising me with their own ideas once I actually let them loose on the page.) But I think I'm over that little bump in the road. Is my WIP tied in with my two current novels? It's tied into Illuminations by virtue of the hero having appeared first in that volume, but I'm not anticipating using any other characters from that book in this particular story. Heléne and Gunthar from Loyalty's Web will be making reappearances, though.

I know who your new hero is and I can hardly wait for his story! I'm already half in love with him. :o)

Thank you so much for joining us today, Joyce. It was a lot of fun picking your brain.

How would you like the chance to win your own copy of Illuminations of the Heart? You can, you know. All you have to do is a leave a comment on this post and you are entered to win. And three $10 gift certificates are also being given away, to go towards the purchase of Illuminations of the Heart, redeemable at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or Deseret Book. If you want to be entered more than once, leave a comment on the other blogs in the tour who have posted a review of Illuminations of the Heart.

*To skip the contest and purchase the novel now, click one of these links for the store of your choice: Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or Deseret Book

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Book Review: When the Bough Breaks by Miss Mae

Title: When the Bough Breaks
Author: Miss Mae
Genre: Fiction/Young Adult/Mystery-Thriller
ISBN: 978-1-936167-01-2
Format: E-book, 189 pages
(avl in print only)
Release date: October 12, 2009
Reviewed: September 7, 2009
Rating: 5 pearls (4.8)
Warnings: None

Synopsis: 16-year-old Darlene Moore is not allowed to date until she turns 18. Despite her mother's rule, she finds herself drawn to Parker Shane, a young man newly returned from Vietnam who has the reputation of a playboy. Through betrayals by more than one person in whom Darlene once placed her trust, these two struggle to find a way to be together.

My two cents: This book started out with the feel of a typical young adult book. The heroine, Darlene, is 16 and in high school. Set in the late '60s with all the trappings of the period, it was an interesting journey into recent history. As the story progresses, however, the initial fluffy feel of the story is lost in a barrage of tragedy that left this reader in tears more than once.

I was surprised that this short novel managed to wring so many differing emotions from me. I chuckled, I cried and at one point, my jaw dropped. It is well-written, flows well, and has believable characters. This was a book that was hard to walk away from. If my copy hadn't been an e-book, I would have taken this book with me everywhere until I was done!

While the first few chapters were a little slow, getting to know who was who and what was what, the story quickly picked up pace. The author let tantalizing bits of mystery drop until all the pieces fell into place. In my opinion, it was very well done.

In conclusion, this is the first by this author that I have had the pleasure to read. It won't be the last.

Please note: Although my copy was an e-book, this book will only be available in print.

*Review based on ARC.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Updates, Updates, and...Maybe a Few Updates

Well, now. It seems necessary to update a few matters.
  1. Books awaiting a review: I recently had two books with review "deadlines." One of those books has been completed and I am nearly done wording the review. I have a good start on the other book and anyone else who is expecting a review, fear not. The reviews are coming.
  2. Our Clean Romances group giveaway: The drawing will take place today. I am posting the winners tomorrow. I hope it goes smoothly...

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Introducing a New Rating System Here at Romance, Old School

I have been pondering a rating system for several weeks now. Stars are so overdone; I want something unique to my personality and genre. I have settled on pearls since pearls were such a feature of Regency England. Let me break it down for you:

5 pearls = Wow. That pretty much says it all.

4 pearls = Very good. Worth a re-read at some point.

3 pearls = Good. Probably could have been better, but still enjoyable.

I do not post anything below 3 pearls. I prefer to contact the author directly in a case of a 2 or a 1 pearl rating, letting them know what I so disliked in the story.

Please keep in mind that all reviews on this site are my own personal opinion. I try to give a potential reader a little more of a glimpse into the story than is perhaps provided by the book's blurb. I am not trying to sway a reader, merely inform them. I enjoy reading and sharing my thoughts on what I've read.

Clean Romance Book Giveaway

Hello, everyone! I just wanted to post a quick note about the GREAT book giveaway we are having in our "Clean Romances" group on Goodreads. The list of donated books is currently at 14! That's 14 great, clean romances we are giving away!

How do you get in on the fun? Join Goodreads. It's fun and free. Then, join our Clean Romances group. That's it. All members are automatically entered to win. The drawing will be held on September 8th, winners announced the 9th.

Happy reading and writing!!

Monday, August 24, 2009

Book Review: The Pirate and the Puritan by Mary Clayton

Title: The Pirate and the Puritan
Author: Mary Clayton
Genre: Fiction/Romance/Historical
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
ISBN: 1601541198
Format: e-book, 358 pages
List Price: $6.00US
Reviewed: August 20, 2009
Rating: 5 stars (4.6)

Warnings: None

Synopsis: Kidnapped by pirates, a mute Puritan finds herself drawn to the pirate captain, intrigued by his protection of her and his obvious dislike of his own lot in life. He is drawn to her by her innocence and strength, unable to forget her even though he knows he should.

My two cents: The Pirate and the Puritan is one of the best clean reads I've had the privilege to peruse this year. Taking place several years after the Salem witch trials, the heroine is Mercy Penhall, a young woman whose voice was lost after witnessing one of those horrific trials firsthand. I was immediately drawn to this woman, feeling the pain, frustration and fear that were a part of her daily life. I loved her overall calm demeanor that could quickly turn to fiery defense when those she cared about were threatened.

The hero is Edmund Gramercy, an unwilling pirate whose choice at one time was piracy or death. He was an interesting character and I would have liked to have had more glimpses into his mind as well as his background. I really liked him and wanted to know more. The story is told more from Mercy's POV with only a few forays into Edmund's.

The novel is very well-written, obviously well-researched and a beautiful romantic story. If you like action, adventure, sweet romance, and a history lesson that doesn't feel like homework, then this story is for you.

Blog Updates

  • Blog tour for Joyce DiPastena's Illuminations of the Heart is in full swing. Check out the blogs listed below for reviews and the occasional interview. Leave your comment on those posts to be entered in the drawing for one of four great prizes.
  • My apologies to anyone who is expecting a review of their book. It will happen, I promise. I am in the middle of Illuminations of the Heart for the blog tour mentioned above. Next in line is Rachel Rager's By Love or By Sea (for another blog tour) and Donna Hatch's The Stranger She Married.
Here's those blog tour links:

Saturday, August 22, 2009

A Regency Pearl Giveaway

I am hosting a giveaway over on my author blog. One very fortunate winner will receive a signed copy of my Regency romance, Redemption, and a string of genuine cultured freshwater pearls. For details and how to enter, visit Into the Mind of Jaimey Grant. Entry deadline is August 31.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

The Counterfeit Husband by Elizabeth Mansfield

Title: The Counterfeit Husband
Author: Elizabeth Mansfield
Genre: Fiction/Romance/Regency
Publisher: Berkley
ISBN: 0425053369
Format: Mass Market Paperback, 219 pages
List Price: Out-of-Print
Reviewed: August 13, 2009
Rating: 5 stars (4.5)
Warnings: None

Synopsis: Camilla, the widow of an earl, is under the thumb of her domineering sister-in-law. To escape, she moves to London where she finds it necessary to fabricate a husband to fool her late husband's family. To play the part of her husband is her unorthodox footman, an escaped press-gang victim.

My two cents: I loved this story from the first sentence. The story opens with our hero and his best friend, a fellow shipmate. They are set upon by a press-gang, which was a rather unpleasant feature of the early 1800s in Britain. It was the middle of the war with Napoleon and many of the British were not willing volunteers of his majesty's navy due to the inhumane conditions experienced by those who enlisted. Hence, the press-gangs.

The hero Thomas and his friend Daniel escape. After collecting Daniel's wife Betsy, they enter domestic service, hoping to hide from the authorities. Thomas and Camilla do not start off with a great impression of each other as he mistakes her for a servant.

I really liked Thomas. He was strong, loyal, funny, and charming. I thought he was a well-rounded character, believable and lovable.

Camilla was a little weak but she gradually grew a spine. She seemed to rely a little too much on the sage advice of her ten-year-old daughter. I suppose this was believable behavior when one considers her life up to that point. And I have no problem with a Regency heroine who does not fit the “strong” perception of what a woman should be. It was 200 years ago, after all.

The daughter Philippa was an amusing delight but far too intelligent and wise for believability. This doesn't mean I didn't like her. It was actually hard not to. Especially after she made friends with Sybil Sturtevant.

My favorite line:
Thomas, in reply to Camilla's request that he masquerade as her husband: “...there's no role in the world I'd rather play than that of your husband.”

In closing, if you are against a heroine who is meek and submissive to nearly everyone around her, avoid this book. If you just love a good star-crossed romance, try this squeaky-clean Regency tale. This book is tied to Passing Fancies which is the love story of Camilla's daughter Philippa.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Blog Tour for Joyce DiPastena's Illuminations of the Heart

The upcoming blog tour for Illuminations of the Heart is scheduled to begin Monday, August 10th and extend through Friday, September 18th. This does not include the weekends and Labor Day. There will be daily reviews and the occasional author interview.

My day is September 16th when I will post a review of the book and an interview with the talented author, Joyce DiPastena. I'm very excited as this will be the very first author interview being held here at Romance, Old School!

If you leave a comment on my review, you will be entered to win either an autographed copy of Illuminations of the Heart or one of three $10 online gift certificates good at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or Deseret Book to go toward the purchase of Illuminations of the Heart. You can even enter multiple times by commenting on multiple reviews of Joyce's book. How great is that?

Here's the list of participating blogs:

August 10: Mormon Hermit Mom's Book Habit
August 11: Amesbury Reads
August 12: Heather Justesen
August 13: Rachelle's Writing Spot
August 14: Cami's Books and Fit Mommas
August 17: Jewel's World
August 18: Of Writerly Things
August 19: Frespa Fan
August 20: Of Good Report
August 21: Rachel Rager
August 24: Boojoos and Aprilcots
August 25: Musings from an LDS Writing Mom
August 26: Queen of the Clan
August 27: Write Bravely
August 28: Dreams of Quill and Ink
August 31: *Tristi Pinkston
September 1: Vicissitudes
September 2: Tangled Words and Dreams
September 3: Random-ish by Nichole and LDSwritersBlogck
September 4: Seriously... and latterdayauthors
September 7: Lu Ann's Book Review
September 9: Reading for Sanity
September 10: Taffy's Candy
September 11: The Write Blocks
September 14: Why Not? Because I Said So! and LDSWomensBookReview
September 15: Ink Splasher
September 16: Romance, Old School
September 17: Blog the Day Away
September 18: Walnut Springs Press

I will post again when it is close to my date. Thanx for looking and have a great day!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

An ABC Escapade Through Egypt by Bernadette Simpson

Title: An ABC Escapade Through Egypt
Author: Bernadette Simpson
Genre: Children/ABC Books
Publisher: Bernadette Simpson
ISBN: 9771209396
Format: Paperback, 32 pages
List Price: $14.00US
Reviewed: July 25, 2009
Rating: 5 stars (4.9)
Warnings: None

Synopsis: This book is exactly what the title says it is: an escapade through modern-day Egypt using the alphabet as a guide.

My two cents: This book is an alliterative masterpiece that belongs on every bookshelf in every home. I was enthralled from the first page. Ms Simpson manages to capture life in modern Egypt with a few simple letters, easy to understand wording and magnificent photographs. From (A)thletes to the city of (Z)amalek, with (E)grets, the (R)ed Sea and (U)rchins in between, it is a truly amazing journey.

While making use of the alphabet to bring the reader into Ms Simpson's world, this is not your typical preschool ABC book. It is written at a more advanced level, more for 9-12 year olds. However, this will be a primary book I use in teaching my own young children about the wonders of modern-day Egypt.


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