Hope Rising by Stacy Henrie ~ My Review + Giveaway!

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Hope Rising(Of Love and War, Book 2)
by Stacy Henrie
Copyright 2014
Forever Romance
ISBN: 9781455598816
The Story: 
In France at the height of World War I, American nurse Evelyn Gray is no stranger to suffering. She's helped save the life of many a soldier, but when she learns her betrothed has been killed, her own heart may be broken beyond repair. Summoning all her strength, Evelyn is determined to carry on-not just for herself and her country, but for her unborn child.

Corporal Joel Campbell dreams of the day the war is over and he can return home and start a family. When a brutal battle injury puts that hope in jeopardy, Joel is lost to despair . . . until he meets Evelyn. Beautiful, compassionate, and in need of help, she makes an unconventional proposal that could save their lives-or ruin them irrevocably. Now, amidst the terror and turmoil of the Western Front, these two lost souls will have to put their faith in love to find the miracle they've been looking for.

To learn more about Stacy and her books visit:

My Thoughts:
The Of Love and War series flew in under the radar so to speak. I haven't read much in the way of promotion from the publisher or about the author until recently, but these short little romances have trotted their way to the top of my book list for 2014 beating out some big names! With the first book, we met the Campbell sister, Livy, on the homefront during The Great War. Hope Rising follows Joel through battlefield and field hospital where he meets his best friend's girl, nurse Evelyn Gray. Each of their stories is poignant and heartbreaking as war time sagas usually are. However, where book one focused on life in the States for those fighting at home, book two offers a glimpse at the battles faced on and off the fields of combat.

The Paradise, Season Two (2014) on DVD and Blu-Ray

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Blu-Ray/DVD Overview:
Set amidst the Victorian splendor of Britain’s first department store, The Paradise is the enchanting rags-to-riches story of a young girl who falls in love with the intoxicating charms of the modern world. The second season begins a year after the dramatic events that saw Moray (Emun Elliot, Prometheus) declare his love for Denise (Joanna Vanderham, Dancing on the Edge) and lose The Paradise after breaking off his engagement to Katherine Glendenning (Elaine Cassidy, The Others). But the spurned Katherine has since married Tom Weston (Ben Daniels, Law & Order: UK) – a mysterious, brooding ex-military man with a troubled history. Although she seems to be starting her life anew, her passion for Moray threatens to draw her back into a love triangle, competing with Denise. Meanwhile, Moray and Denise, still at the forefront of fashion and innovation, are plotting to regain The Paradise from Katherine and her husband – whatever it takes.


Photo Credit: Jules Heath, © BBC

My Thoughts:
As you may know, The Paradise was one of my favorite new costume dramas from BBC/Masterpiece Theatre in 2013 (Read my review of The Paradise, Season One). With that cliffhanger involving Moray and Denise at the first season's conclusion, I was a bit devastated. It wasn't a melancholy scene by any stretch, but this impatient girl wanted to know what happened next without waiting an entire year! Sadly season two, while being just as sumptuous and melodramatic as the the series premiere, did not keep my attention as it's predecessor. A few of the familiar faces from last season including Pauline (Ruby Bentall) and Lord Glendenning (Patrick Malahide) were very noticeably absent from the screen. Seeing as Pauline was sort of the comedic relief and such a sweet, fun character and Lord Glendenning was the voice of reason, their absence took away from the story. That said, this season is still worth watching and The Paradise series as a whole is a must-watch for costume drama fanatics.

Stone Cold Touch (Dark Elements, Book 2) by Jennifer L. Armentrout ~ My Review

Monday, December 1, 2014

Stone Cold Touch
By Jennifer L. Armentrout
Copyright 2014
Harlequin Teen
ISBN: 9780373211340
The Story:
Every touch has its price 

Layla Shaw is trying to pick up the pieces of her shattered life—no easy task for a seventeen-year-old who's pretty sure things can't get worse. Her impossibly gorgeous best friend, Zayne, is forever off-limits thanks to the mysterious powers of her soul-stealing kiss. The Warden clan that has always protected her is suddenly keeping dangerous secrets. And she can barely think about Roth, the wickedly hot demon prince who understood her in ways no one else could.

But sometimes rock bottom is only the beginning. Because suddenly Layla's powers begin to evolve, and she's offered a tantalizing taste of what has always been forbidden. Then, when she least expects it, Roth returns, bringing news that could change her world forever. She's finally getting what she always wanted, but with hell literally breaking loose and the body count adding up, the price may be higher than Layla is willing to pay….

My Thoughts:
Going into this book I'll admit to being a little underwhelmed by the first book. I did however feel that I was firmly Team Zayne. Stone Cold Touch just cemented that feeling. As with many stories that revolve around love triangles there's usually a clear "winner" who the author steers you towards. I gotta say with this series, I still don't have a clue as to which guy Layla will choose. Personally, I loved that this book focused on the Layla /Zayne bit of the triangle, but of course, we're left hanging at its conclusion.

Love Unexpected (Beacons of Hope, Book 1) by Jody Hedlund ~ My Review

Sunday, November 30, 2014

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Love Unexpected (Beacons of Hope, Book 1)
by Jody Hedlund
Copyright 2014
Bethany House Publishers
ISBN: 9780764212370
The Story:
Presque Isle, Michigan 

What Is the Secret That Could Shipwreck Both of Their Lives? 

All Emma Chambers ever wanted was a home, but when her steamboat sinks just outside Presque Isle, she's left destitute and with no place to stay.

An unlikely solution arises when the lighthouse keeper arrives in town. He's just lost his wife and is having a difficult time caring for his child. So a traveling preacher gets the idea that the keeper and Emma might be the answer to each other's dilemma. After a hasty marriage, she finds herself heading to the lighthouse with this handsome but quiet stranger. Nothing in her aimless life, though, has prepared her for parenting a rambunctious toddler, as well as managing a household.

Emma soon suspects Patrick may be hiding something from her, and then she hears a disturbing rumor about the circumstances surrounding his late wife's death. It seems as if her wish for a home and family of her own could end up leading her once more into turbulent waters.

Read more about Unexpected Love on the Bethany House website.

Don't forget to visit Jody's website and say hello!

My Thoughts:
This book was just what I needed to jumpstart my book reading binge. I have a number of books I need to read and review by the end of the year, and if they are half as interesting to read as Love Unexpected, I'll fly through them all. Marriage of convenience stories will never get old. While this was a little more preachy than what I'm used to of late, the romance was fabulous. No skirting around the issue-- the sparks were there between Emma and Patrick right from the get go. Did I mention our hero is Irish? I was a goner after his first utterance of the word lass. Yes. Please. All romance heroes from here on out should be Irishmen with lighthouses. Authors, please take note and pen your stories accordingly.

Fashion: Bonobos Winter Style Challenge

Monday, November 24, 2014

With sites like Bonobos.com, men have no excuse for not looking their best. Fairly new to the game, founded in the late 2000s, Bonobos offers apparel from the likes of suits to casual shirts to shoes. The man in your life can look put together for work or for those Saturday visits with you to the bookstore.

In honor of their new Winter LookBook, Bonobos is hosting a Winter Style Challenge for fashion bloggers. They asked me to come up with my best look to complement an ensemble from their men's suit collection. I don't blog about fashion as much as I'd like to, but as a Pinterest addict who's constantly pinning something fashion related, I jumped at the chance and here's what I came up with.

Here's the men's ensemble from Bonobos:

Trading Secrets by Melody Carlson (YA/Teen Fiction)~ My Review

Saturday, November 22, 2014

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Trading Secrets
by Melody Carlson
Copyright 2014
Revell Books
ISBN: 9780800722272
The Story:
The truth may set you free--but it might also land you in some uncomfortably hot water.

Over the years, Micah Knight has exchanged many letters--and many secrets--with her longtime Amish pen pal, Zach. But Micah's kept quiet on the biggest secret of all--the fact that despite her name, she's a girl.

Now Micah finally has the chance to meet her pen pal face-to-face. She wants nothing more than to experience life on Zach's Amish farm, but she's more than a little anxious. Will he be angry at her for deceiving him all these years? And will she risk losing his friendship to find something more?

Read more about Trading Secrets on the Revell website.

My Review:
I don't normally pick up young adult books when I visit the Christian book section, but I'm considering making room on my shelves after having had such a great experience with the books I've read this year. Since Amish stories are my guilty pleasures, I thought I'd give Trading Secrets, teen fiction set in Ohio, a go. While not a must-read, it's still a cute story of faith and friendship.

Happy Holidays with Her Universe!

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

TARDIS Knit Dress
Photo from Heruniverse.com
I don't know many people who aren't suckers for the Christmas season. As much as I HATE the cold, I love the thought of a white Christmas spent with family and friends. In fact, I think Christmas is the only time of year I wish for snow. Of course it never seems to happen, but I can continue to hope, right? Oh well.

Surprised by Love (The Heart of San Francisco, Book 3) by Julie Lessman ~ My Review

Saturday, November 15, 2014

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Surprised by Love
(The Heart of San Francisco, Book 3)
by Julie Lessman
Copyright 2014
Revell Books
ISBN: 9780800721657

The Story: 
She can turn the head of the man who spurned her--but can she turn his heart? 

When Megan McClare left San Francisco to study in Paris, no one would accuse her of being poised and pretty. But on the other side of the Atlantic, this wallflower blossomed into a beauty with big dreams. When she returns to California and accepts an internship at the district attorney's office, she's thrilled that her life is taking shape. But the exciting opportunity quickly loses its glow when she discovers she'll be working alongside Devin Caldwell, who mercilessly mocked her at school--and with whom she was hopelessly enamored.

Doctor Who: The Spear of Destiny Review + Giveaway! #12Doctors12Stories

Friday, October 31, 2014

Happy Halloween! Chances are, most of you are or have dressed up as a favorite superhero, princess, or even a character from your favorite story for those Halloween parties or trick-or-treating. I dressed up as Barbie, I'm pretty sure I dressed up as a monster, and one year I went as a blast from the past; a 50s girl complete with poodle skirt.

I have to say if I were going out tonight, I'd go as the Doctor. By now, I'm sure you all know how much I like love am obsessed with Doctor Who, so this probably doesn't come as a surprise to anyone. How could you not want to pay homage to someone as cool and timeless (pun intended) as the universe's favorite Time Lord?

The character of the Doctor is one of the few TV heroes with staying power -- he's been around for over 50 years now and it's easy to see why. Doing good will never go out of style in my opinion! And speaking of style, could it be any easier to whip up a Who costume in the lurch? I mean this guy has some serious fashion sense. Quirky would be the word I'd use most often. Fluffy collars, celery pins, sleek leather jackets, and of course, the "cool" bowtie! You can definitely get creative with your cosplay! You can even get Fido involved. If you need a little help with your costume, be sure to visit the BBC's Doctor Who website -- you can download printable masks!

Sole Mates: Wide Shaft Boots

Friday, October 24, 2014

I'm a total Pinterest addict. Since joining a few years ago I've pinned and repinned over 12,000 recipes, GIFs, wedding gowns, and film and TV related items. I pretty much can't go to sleep at night unless I log onto Pinterest and pin a few things. So, yeah, I'd say I qualify as an addict.

A few nights ago I realized that "I'd Wear It", a board of all sorts of fashions that I'd love to rock, was bursting with over 500 pins. I know it's a good idea to limit the number of pins on a board so things don't get too cluttered or lost in the abyss, so I've been TRYING to reorganize and shuffle things around. In my scroll through said board I realized that a lot of my pins were shoes. Yes. I have also somehow morphed into a shoe addict. Well...not so much a shoe addict as a boot addict. Heels are pretty, but they kill my piggies -- plus I'm a clutz. I do love a pair of tall boots even though my large calves hate them. But what's a Pinterest board for other than a place to pin your hopes and dreams, right?

Anyhoo, I got this idea for a board called "Sole Mates". I know it's a little corny (OK, a looooot corny), but at this point in my life a good shoe is pretty much the closest thing I have to true love. I also have a special boo board, "Boot Beauties". Since it's fall I thought it would be fun to share some of the boots I love and the one's I'm lusting after right here.

The Classic 
Price: $428.00
Image from the Frye website 
For me, Frye is the penultimate boot. It's easy to see why they've been making boots for over 150 years. I love their combat styles. Whether or not these riding boots will fit those with a more voluptuous calf (the website reads 15 2/3" circumference and that isn't cuttin' it for this gal), I don't know. Can we talk about how beautiful these are though? That leather looks like a strong cup of coffee and I'll bet it feels like butter! Smoooooth, baby.

It's Animal Welfare Week ~ Check Out Doghouse by L.A. Kornetsky (Pocket Books Fiction)

Friday, October 10, 2014

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Coco says, "I'm a queen and
I have the crown to prove it!"
You may not know it, but it's Animal Welfare Week through October 11 and National Animal Shelter and Rescue Appreciation Week November 2 - 8. I don't know about you, but I would be lost without my furry friends. Coco is queen of the castle here at Black 'n Gold Girl's Book Spot and she's helping me celebrate critters everywhere with this special post featuring L. A. Kornetsky and her latest novel, Doghouse. If you love a mystery with a twist (anthropomorphic characters), this is a book you'll want to get your hands (or paws!) on.


The ASPCA and kitty, Pandora by L.A. Kornetsky:
I’m getting ready for a move, and part of that is decluttering. Getting rid of things – objects, old paperwork – that I don’t need to haul with me any more.

But in a folder of otherwise no-longer-needed papers, there’s a sheet I’m keeping. It’s from the ASPCA, and it documents my adoption of the kitten once known as Minna, who became my beloved Pandora, gone now a little over a year.

There’s no point to keeping the sheet of paper. All it does is say that I paid x amount for a 4 month old female tiger kitten, spayed. But throwing it out isn’t an option, either. Because this was the first connection I had to Pandora, the first contract we made with each other: I would give her food, shelter, care, and a lap when she wanted it. I would give her a home. And in return, she gave me such love and companionship, letting her go at the end was no less a pain than losing a human friend.

Litfuse Blog Tour: The Sea House by Elisabeth Gifford (My Review)

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

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The Sea House
by Elisabeth Gifford
Copyright 2013
St. Martin's Press
ISBN: 9781250043344
The Story:
Scotland, 1860. 

Reverend Alexander Ferguson, naive and newly-ordained, takes up his new parish, a poor, isolated patch on the Hebridean island of Harris. His time on the island will irrevocably change the course of his life, but the white house on the edge of the dunes keeps its silence long after Alexander departs. It will be more than a century before the Sea House reluctantly gives up its secrets. Ruth and Michael buy the grand but dilapidated building and begin to turn it into a home for the family they hope to have. Their dreams are marred by a shocking discovery. The tiny bones of a baby are buried beneath the house; the child’s fragile legs are fused together – a mermaid child. Who buried the bones? And why? Ruth needs to solve the mystery of her new home – but the answers to her questions may lie in her own past.

Based on a real nineteenth-century letter to The Times in which a Scottish clergyman claimed to have seen a mermaid, The Sea House is an epic, sweeping tale of loss and love, hope and redemption, and how we heal ourselves with the stories we tell.

My Thoughts:
Elisabeth Gifford's The Sea House is a book I could not put down. I know that has become something of a cliche in the book review world, but it's true! Even if I had not been on a deadline to get this story read, I honestly think I would have read it in one sitting. Not only is the setting wonderful (The Hebrides), but the story revolves around an old house on the seaside and an intriguing decades old mystery that haunts its new owners.