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Friday, February 18, 2011

Coming Soon: Another CSN Stores Review

Hi, everyone! Who doesn't love CSN Stores? They have everything from kitchen appliances to pet products. One of my favorite parts of CSN is their luggage stores. I won't be reviewing luggage this time, though! I'll be doing a review of Cuisinox's 27 oz Cappuccino Frother to froth milk with. My mom adores masala chai lattes, but I just can't whisk the milk enough to make it frothy like the way Starbucks does. I'm hoping this will be a good investment. Can you imagine mocha hot chocolate frothed up in this thing? YUM! All I need to add with that is a long book and a blustery day.

Be looking for this review very soon! 

Blog Tour: Fallen Grace by Mary Hooper + Author Interview

Fallen Grace by Mary Hooper 5 of 5 stars.

Life has been nothing but unfair to Grace Parkes and her sister. Penniless, the two orphans manage to stay alive--but only barely, like so many on the streets of Victorian London. And Grace must bear a greater heartbreak,  having become pregnant from terrible circumstances and then given birth to a stillborn baby. But the infant's death sets Grace on a new path, bringing her into contact with people who hold both riches and power. A great fraud has been perpetrated on young Grace and her sister, and they are the secret recipients of a most unusual legacy--if only they can find the means to claim it. This breakout novel by Mary Hooper offers Dickensian social commentary, as well as malicious fraud, mysterious secrets, and a riveting read. (Book blurb)

Grace and Lily Parkes know all to well what hardship means. Not long after Grace was born their father left for the Americas in search of a fortune. Just a few years later their mother died. Surviving both a London orphanage and a few months in training school, Grace finds herself on the street. She must learn to fend for not only herself and her simple sister, but also the unwanted baby growing inside her.

But Victorian London does not approve of unwed mothers, and when it comes time for Grace to give birth none of the hospitals will accept her. Finding a charity house that deals with young, unwed mothers Grace gives birth to a stillborn child. The burial of her baby sets in motion things that Grace could have never before imagined, and brings her unwittingly into the empire of death and mourning that spins silently at the heart of London.

Fallen Grace is a beautifully told Gothic mystery that shows the shadowy world of undertaking fueled, in part, by the pomp and grandeur of the upper-classes of Victorian London. Heartbreak, redemption, and surprise embody this wonderful story by a seasoned historical fiction author who doesn't mind showing the truly gritty streets of Victorian England.

I greatly enjoyed this novel. I had no idea what a big deal undertaking was in Victorian England, and the way Mary Hooper showed how Prince Albert's death affected this business was very interesting. She set it up quite nicely by showing us Albert from the girl's point of view, as well as showing that the evictions of the time were order (so to speak) by Prince Albert who wanted to help the lower classes. It was obvious that while the majority of the public held him in high esteem, most would not have felt the need (and certainly couldn't afford) the rather extreme decry by Queen Victoria that the public be in morning for her husband for so long.

One of my favorite parts of the story was Lily. All of the characters in the novel were wonderfully well-written, but there was something uniquely complex about Lily and her situation. The novel alternates between the two sisters' points of view and while reading from Lily's POV I automatically assumed her to be the sweet, younger sister. It wasn't until a bit later in the story I realized she was the older. For a moment I was confused until in the simplest of 19th century terms it was declared that Lily had a mental handicap. She was simple. So many people throughout the story expected her to be stupid, and indeed, she was naive, but she proved them all wrong in the end. She was truly someone you could cheer for even more so than for sensible Grace who did such a wonderful and selfless job taking care of her sister.

The only thing I disliked about the story was the ending. The very ending itself was perfect, but I would have liked to have seen more before that. What happened with Grace and James Solent? Where did Grace and Lily move to? I would even like to see a sequel! But I understand that sometimes its better to leave the endings of these things to the imagination, so I cannot fault Mary Hooper for that.

If you love the Victoria-era, Dickens, or just historical fiction in general, you will adore this book!

To order Fallen Grace from Amazon.com, please click here.

Interview with Mary Hooper

1. Did you have to do any research for Fallen Grace?
Masses of research. But for me, this was the best bit. This is where you find out little nuggets of truth which will make your book come alive.
2. What makes this book different from your others?
Well, It's the first book that I've written about the Victorian funeral trade!
3. If a movie was made of Fallen Grace who would you cast for the lead roles?
I think it would have to be an unknown, because Grace is only fifteen.

4. What is a normal day of writing like for you?
Every day is slightly different...I'll either be writing, re-writing, thinking, proof-reading, editing, catching up on emails, answering interview questions, reading round a subject or out actually researching by going somewhere like Brookwood Cemetery, which features in FALLEN GRACE. (This is not strictly necessary, but fun).  

5. Do you find the inspiration for your novels comes from other media (books, movies, songs etc.) or from different sources?
From all over the place - but you can't help picking up bits and pieces from wherever you go/whatever you read/view, etc.

6. Out of all of the characters you've written, which one do you connect the most with?
Difficult one, this. When I'm writing I try to get right inside my main character's heads and feel as they would feel. I make a connection with all of them and couldn't pick one in particular. They would all be my best friends.

7. Favorite quote?
From a book or from life? In life, the one that has stood me in good stead is: You are responsible for your own happiness.

8. What is the number one piece of advice you would give to aspiring writers?
Read, read, read... 

A special thanks to BloomsburyUSA for the review copy and to Mary Hooper for answering all of my questions! Please leave a comment for her below.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday!

Good day to you all! Hopefully, where you are it isn't too cold. Maybe even the sun is shining. I'm so sick of rain myself. The sun has been fighting valiantly to break through the gathering clouds to day, and I assure you, I have been cheering him on!

Anyway, today's WoW is really cool. Why? Because. I love any thing involving Native Americans, and I like ghosts. Not literally, of course. I've just recently discovered them in YA horror, and I think they rock. This book, The Revenant Sonia Gensler has both!

"When Willie arrives in Indian Territory, she knows only one thing: no one can find out who she really is. To escape a home she doesn't belong in anymore, she assumes the name of a former classmate and accepts a teaching job at the Cherokee Female Seminary.

Nothing prepares her for what she finds there. Her pupils are the daughters of the Cherokee elite—educated and more wealthy than she, and the school is cloaked in mystery. A student drowned in the river last year, and the girls whisper that she was killed by a jealous lover. Willie's room is the very room the dead girl slept in. The students say her spirit haunts it.

Willie doesn't believe in ghosts, but when strange things start happening at the school, she isn't sure anymore. She's also not sure what to make of a boy from the nearby boys' school who has taken an interest in her—his past is cloaked in secrets. Soon, even she has to admit that the revenant may be trying to tell her something. . . ."-Goodreads

Pretty cool, right? And isn't the cover gorgeous and striking in a seriously creepy kind of way?

The Revenant will release June 14th by Knopf!

To pre-order The Revenant by Sonia Gensler from Amazon.com, please click here.

Monday, February 7, 2011

The Fellowship of the Ring by J.R.R. Tolkien

The Fellowship of the Ring by J.R.R. Tolkien 5 of 5 stars.

One Ring to rule them all, One Ring to find them,
One Ring to bring them all and in the dark darkness bind them.

In ancient times the Rings of Power were crafted by the elven-smiths, and Sauron, the Dark Lord, forged the One Ring, filling it with his own power so that he could rule all others. But the One Ring was taken from him, and though he sought it throughout Middle-earth, it remained lost to him. After many ages, it fell by chance into the hands of the hobbit Bilbo Baggins.

From his fastness in the Dark Tower of Mordor, Sauron's power spread far and wide. He gathered all the Great Rings to him, but always he searched for the One Ring that would complete his dominion.

On Bilbo's eleventy-first birthday, he disappeared, bequeathing to his young cousin, Frodo, the Ruling Ring and a perilous quest: to journey across Middle-earth, deep into the shadow of the Dark Lord, and destroy the Ring by casting it into the Cracks of Doom.

The Lord of the Rings tells of the great quest undertaken by Frodo and the Fellowship of the Ring: Gandalf the Wizard; the hobbits Merry, Pippin, and Sam; Gimli the Dwarf;  Legolas the Elf; Boromir of Gondor; and a tall, mysterious stranger called Strider. (Book blurb)

I have finally read the first book in the series that inspired so much, from movies

to spin-off novels, roleplayers and dreamers. In no way can I say that I was disappointed. For a long time I have said that I like The Lord of the Rings, not because I had read it but because of what it was, what it repressented; epic fantasy, magical creatures, and, of course, Orlando Bloom played an elf in the movie! But now I have a new and genuine appreciation for the trilogy and the writer.

As I read, I tried to look not simply at the story itself, but at the writing. I tried to decipher what it was that made us all fall in love with Tolkien's work. Is it his musical tone? His vast knowledge and imagination? Probably some of both. But I also saw that he didn't steer away from the things we are so often told to avoid in our writing today. He used passive sentences. He always stayed true to the voice of the characters even if it meant veering slightly away from the "correct" formation of the prose. Some might say, but it is okay for Tolkien to do it. He is a linguist, he studies language, he knows it. I say, would he not want us to follow in his footsteps and to write as clearly as we possibly can what that little voice inside our head is saying, even if we fear that it might sound or look foolish?

Probably the most wonderful part of Tolkien's trilogy is the characters. They are so rich and full. There is nothing lacking in their personalities, their voices. They bring to mind a time that might once have been, might come to be. They aren't like the people in our lives today, but they are real enough to relate with, to laugh with, to wish beyond hope that you would just suddenly run into one of them on the street one day.

I also can't help but wonder about the characters in this book and to compare them with modern series that are often talked about with reference to The Lord of the Rings like (you had to know this was coming!) Christopher Paolini's Inheritance Cycle. In Tolkien's trilogy we find that while the women in the books are strong just like in Paolini's works, they are greatly outnumbered by the men. I wonder a bit if it might be the way views on women have changed in the last fifty years or if it was just a fluke.

As for the movie adaptation of Lord of the Rings I see it in a slightly different light now. I do still adore it, but there is so much missing. So much beautiful scenery (not that what was in the movie wasn't gorgeous!) so much information that could be useful to the viewer is missing.

All together, Tolkien has gained yet another devoted fan.

To order The Fellowship of the Ring from Amazon.com, please click here.

I would greatly appreciate any comments on my review and would love to discuss any of these point (or some of your own!) below. This is my first time reviewing a classic and I hate to feel like I'm talking to myself!

Friday, February 4, 2011


Guest Post

This is a completely free and totally fun way to promote your book. It's not necessary that I review your book before your guest post, it's just important that I like the concept of your book. I don't promote anything I can't stand behind. If you're interested in doing a guest post, send me an email with a synopsis of your book and when you'd like the guest post to be posted, and we can begin brainstorming topics!

(I also welcome fellow book bloggers for guest posts!)


This is the same as with the guest posts. If I like the idea of your book, I will be more than happy to host an interview with you. Just let me know if you're interested and when you need the interview done by, and I will send you a list of questions.


Please check out my Review Policy for information on reviews.


Giveaways can be the most effective form of promotion on a blog. If you'd be interested in giving away a copy of your book on my blog, drop me a line and we can discuss details. I am no longer willing to ship books personally to giveaway winners. They must come directly from the publisher/author.


Coming soon.

Contact Me

If you have question or are interested in any of the promotion methods above, please email me at hollywood_here_i_come@live(dot)com.

Review Policy

Review Policy

I will review nearly anything of the YA genre and some crossover/adult novels as well. I adore Christian historical romances as well. If you have a book you think I'd be interested in (based on previous reviews) of a different genre, feel free to send me the synopsis. I'll let you know if I'm interested.

I absolutely will not accept ebooks for review. No matter how much I like the sound of the book, I will not read it in ebook format. However, if I like the sound of your novel I will offer to promote you in other ways.

I reserve the right to not review an unsolicited galley. If I do not plan on reading it at all, I will generally pass it on to another blogger.

I generally don't make promises regarding the time-frame in which I will read and review a book. If you have a certain date by which you would like the something reviewed, please let me know ahead of time, and I will try to accommodate you.

Blog Tours

I love blog tours and am a proud part of Teen {Book} Scene! They organize blog tours for many authors and always do a wonderful job.

I also do blog tours for publishing companies on occasion. So far, I have never missed a deadline. However, if I'm covering a review and do not receive the book in a reasonable amount of time, don't expect me to post on time.

Contact Me

If you have any questions or a book that you think I would be interested in, please email me at hollywood_here_i_come(at)live(dot)com.

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