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The Accidental Empress by Allison Pataki #AuthorInterview #Giveaway



New York Times bestselling author Allison Pataki follows up on her critically-acclaimed debut novel, The Traitor’s Wife, with the little-known and tumultuous love story of “Sisi,” the Austro-Hungarian Empress and captivating wife of Emperor Franz Joseph.

The year is 1853, and the Habsburgs are Europe’s most powerful ruling family. With his empire stretching from Austria to Russia, from Germany to Italy, Emperor Franz Joseph is young, rich, and ready to marry.

Fifteen-year-old Elisabeth, “Sisi,” Duchess of Bavaria, travels to the Habsburg court with her older sister, who is betrothed to the young emperor. But shortly after her arrival at court, Sisi finds herself in an unexpected dilemma: she has inadvertently fallen for and won the heart of her sister’s groom. Intrigued by Sisi’s guileless charm and energetic spirit, not to mention her unrivaled beauty, Franz Joseph reneges on his earlier proposal and declares his intention to marry Sisi instead.

Plucked from obscurity and thrust onto the throne of Europe’s most treacherous imperial court, Sisi has no idea what struggles and dangers—and temptations—await her. Sisi upsets political and familial loyalties in her quest to win, and keep, the love of her emperor, her people, and of the world.

With Pataki’s rich period detail and cast of complex, compelling characters, The Accidental Empress offers a captivating glimpse into the bedrooms and staterooms of one of history’s most intriguing royal families, shedding new light on the glittering Habsburg Empire and its most mesmerizing, most beloved “Fairy Queen.”


• It feels like there are many historical fictions about English history, what made you decide to take on Austrian history?

You are so correct! There has been so much ink spent in the genre of Historical Fiction on Anne Boleyn and War of the Roses the other English monarchs. And other royals, too: the French, the Russians, the Italians. But I think the Habsburgs of the Austro-Hungarian Empire are the most intriguing, most interesting family of them all, and Sisi is certainly the most enchanting leading lady! So, hopefully The Accidental Empress will shine a spotlight on this fascinating imperial court and get readers very interested in the Habsburgs.

I came across Sisi and was inspired to write her story as a result of a very personal journey—and I mean that quite literally. Years ago, I was traveling through Austria and Hungary and the Czech Republic with my family. I am Hungarian-American by descent; Pataki is an odd-sounding and, yes, Hungarian last name. The purpose of the family trip was to visit the places from where our relatives had emigrated, almost a century earlier. This took us, then, to the lands of the former Habsburg Empire—the former realm once labeled on maps as Austria-Hungary.

While on this trip, I kept seeing beautiful images of this same young woman. She had this quizzical smile, this rich chestnut hair curled in these elaborate hairdos. I saw her face at every gift shop, museum, even in restaurants and hotels.

I asked someone who she was and the response was that she was “Sisi,” the most beloved of all Habsburg Empresses. I heard just a bit about Sisi’s epic and tragic life—about the legends that she grew her hair to the floor, that she was considered the most beautiful woman in the world, that every other foreign ruler at the time was in love with her.
I read about how Sisi didn’t mean to seduce her sister’s fiancé the emperor, but did, at the age of 15. Just enough to whet my appetite! I went home and dug in, reading everything I could about Sisi’s story; what I found astounded me. Hers is a story of love triangles, love, lust, betrayal, and so much more. It’s an incredibly human story, told against a glittering and beautiful—yet dangerous and duplicitous—backdrop of the Habsburg Court.


• Did you find it difficult to mix the fact and fiction of Sisi’s and Franz’s story?

Difficult, but also highly enjoyable. I decided early on that I would be crazy not to rely heavily on the historical record for plot and character development in The Accidental Empress. The raw material itself was so good and intriguing—a love triangle! Betrayal! Imperial ballrooms chock-full of violin music and beautiful people and scandal and intrigue and scheming!—that there were all of the fixings in there to make a compelling novel. And, as this is a novel and not a biography, I had the luxury of pulling not only from the proven facts, but from the mythology and reports as well. Sisi was a figure of legendary fascination even in her own lifetime. The centuries that have passed since her death have only served to make her even larger in the collective imagination.
Wrangling the historical record was definitely the greatest challenge I had in writing The Accidental Empress. There’s so much information out there. And it’s all so fascinating that I want to use it all. I wanted to include as many facts and events and individuals as I could, until the story was bursting at the seams.
For me, the joy is in infusing the imagination and the humanity into the historical record and the historical figures. When writing a novel, the story must flow and unfold in a manner completely different than that of a textbook or a straight biography. I am not looking to list an infinite number of facts. I have to choose what I need to tell my fictionalized version of this story, and I can get a bit creative. It makes it so fun to write. And, hopefully, fun to read as well!

• How did you conduct your research? Do you look at pictures in order to help you describe the environment?


Absolutely. I look at paintings, I study old maps, I listen to their music, I taste their food, I try on the clothing…and I read everything I can about the time period and characters. There was (and is) lots and lots of reading material out there on these topics and figures. I read not only about the characters but also about the world they inhabited and what their daily lives might have looked and felt like. I’m grateful that so many historians have devoted so much time and research to these individuals, and that I get to be the beneficiary of all of that great work.
And then one of the most fun parts of the research process is traveling. It was in Vienna, years ago, that I first stumbled across the image of Sisi. She still looms large in Austria and Hungary as an almost deified figure. The Schönbrunn and Hofburg Palaces are fantastic resources in which to learn about not only Sisi, but all of the Habsburgs. Vienna today still feels so grand and imperial—I loved retracing her footsteps (or carriage wheels) there.
Sisi’s other capital city, Budapest, feels more whimsical and unruly. Walking around the Castle Hill and looking out over the Danube and the Chain Bridge, I could imagine why the romantic Sisi loved it there so much. And why she saw it as her escape from Vienna.
Both places were hugely important locales in her story, so I loved visiting both to learn about Sisi, Franz Joseph, and their life together.

• You begin the story by showing glimpses of the future (after marriage) while mainly focusing on the story leading up to it. What made you decide to write the story this way?

Exactly right, I begin the story with the scene of the Hungarian coronation in Budapest in 1867. This same scene is then interwoven throughout the novel before eventually capping off the whole story as a grand finale.
Readers will see that this moment was Sisi’s moment of triumph. It was at that time that Sisi reached the height of her power, her influence, and her physical strength and beauty. It’s also the moment in which many loose threads of the novel’s plot come together—for Sisi and for the other characters. Plus, it’s just plain fun to write about a party as lavish and grand as a coronation atop the city of Budapest!
The years leading up to this moment had been grueling and depleting and difficult—not only for Sisi, but for the whole Habsburg Court. This moment signifies that Sisi, as an empress and a woman, has a new plan—both for herself and for the court and empire. Watch out, Sisi has entered the palace!


• Besides Sisi, which character did you enjoy writing the most?

It’s tough to pick one! But I suppose I have to say the other man in Sisi’s life—that dark and brooding and romantic Hungarian charmer, the Count Julius Andrássy. Ah, Andrássy. He makes me swoon, as he made the ladies of his own time swoon.
Multiple biographers refer to Andrássy as the great love of Sisi’s life. The sense I got from their own letters and writings was that Andrássy and Sisi shared a deep connection—emotional as well as intellectual—and a profound respect for and devotion to one another. Andrássy seemed to give Sisi the validation she had always craved from Franz Joseph. Andrássy’s letters to Sisi show that he valued her input and he sought her involvement in his political and personal affairs. He actively recruited her as a partner in negotiating the Austro-Hungarian Compromise of 1867.
It is clear that there was an intense affection between Andrássy and Sisi. Andrássy wrote, toward the end of his life, that he was one of the few people in the world who knew the true Sisi. He referred to her as “the pinnacle of all womanhood” and Hungary’s “Beautiful Providence.” Men loved Sisi as soon as they met her. Women loved Andrássy as soon as they met him. What then must the chemistry have been like between the two of them?
Rumors circulated in both Austria and Hungary that they were lovers. Sisi’s fourth child (the one she is carrying at the end of this novel) was gossiped and written about in Vienna as “the Hungarian child,” a moniker that couldn’t help but raise suspicions as to the parentage. Add in Sisi’s decampment from Vienna to Budapest, and her flagrant preference for the company of Hungarians over Austrians, and you have the fixings for scandal on an imperial scale.
The relationship with Andrássy was one that gave Sisi hope and purpose. The years in which Sisi worked closely with Andrássy for the cause of Hungarian autonomy were the years in which she came into her own—both as a woman, and also as a leader. So, in my imagining of it, Andrássy was a huge part of that.

Allison Pataki is the author of the New York Times bestselling historical novel, The Traitor's Wife. She graduated Cum Laude from Yale University with a major in English and spent several years writing for TV and online news outlets. The daughter of former New York State Governor George E. Pataki, Allison was inspired to write her second novel, The Accidental Empress, by her family’s deep roots in the former Habsburg empire of Austria-Hungary. Allison is the co-founder of the nonprofit organization, ReConnect Hungary. Allison is a regular contributor to The Huffington Post and FoxNews.com, as well as a member of The Historical Novel Society. Allison lives in Chicago with her husband. To learn more and connect with Allison visit www.AllisonPataki.com or on Twitter.

   






Tour Schedule The Accidental Empress

Monday, February 9th - Reader Girls - Guest Post
Tuesday, February 10th - Sassy Book Lovers - Excerpt
Wednesday, February 11th - Fine Lines - Author Interview
Thursday, February 12th - Reading Reality - Guest Post
Friday, February 13th - Fiktshun - Author Interview
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Monday, February 16th - The Maiden's Court - Guest Post
Tuesday, February 17th - Bewitched Bookworms - Author Interview
Wednesday, February 18th - Fire and Ice - Guest Post
Thursday, February 19th - Bookish - Author Interview
Friday, February 20th - Curling Up With A Good Book - Author Interview
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Monday, February 23rd - Books and Things - Guest Post
Tuesday, February 24th - Books Glorious Books - Excerpt
Wednesday, February 25th - Sara In Bookland - Author Interview
Thursday, February 26th - Historical Fiction Obsession - Guest Post
Friday, February 27th - Library of a Book Witch - Author Interview

The Hazards of Sleeping with a Friend by Alyssa Rose Ivy #CoverReveal #Giveaway

We are extremely pleased to bring you the cover reveal for Alyssa Rose Ivy's THE HAZARDS OF SLEEPING WITH A FRIEND!! THE HAZARDS OF SLEEPING WITH A FRIEND is a New Adult romance and the fifth book in Alyssa's Hazards Series. Add it to your Goodreads shelf! THE HAZARDS OF SLEEPING WITH A FRIEND will be available March 26th!!

The Hazards of Sleeping With A Friend - Cover
Cover Design: Once Upon a Time Covers
Cover Photography K. Keeton


About THE HAZARDS OF SLEEPING WITH A FRIEND:

Warning: Sleeping with a friend might change your life forever.

Sleeping with Kyle was never in the plans. Pretending to be his girlfriend was one thing, but letting our relationship become anything but platonic was another. The problem with mixing friendship with sex is that inevitably feelings get involved, and when that happens there's no turning back.

When Kyle's life fell apart around him, I needed to help, but doing that meant opening myself up to the most terrifying thing in the world—falling in love.



Alyssa Rose Ivy- Author PhotoAbout Alyssa Rose Ivy:

Alyssa Rose Ivy is a New Adult and Young Adult author who loves to weave stories with romance and a southern setting. Although raised in the New York area, she fell in love with the South after moving to New Orleans for college. After years as a perpetual student, she turned back to her creative side and decided to write. She lives in North Carolina with her husband and two young children, and she can usually be found with a cup of coffee in her hand.



Twitter | Author Goodreads | Pinterest | Website | THE HAZARDS SLEEPING WITH A FRIEND Goodreads | Facebook


Salt & Stone by Victoria Scott #BookReview #VMafia

Title: Salt & Stone
Author: Victoria Scott
Series: Fire & Flood #2
Published: February 25th 2015 by Scholastic Press
Genres:  YA, Sci-Fi
Source: Arc


What would you do to save someone you love?

In Fire & Flood, Tella Holloway faced a dangerous trek through the jungle and across the desert, all to remain a Contender in the Brimstone Bleed for a chance at obtaining the Cure for her brother. She can't quit--she has to win the race, save Cody, and then fight to make sure the race stops before it can claim any more lives. In the next legs of the race, across the ocean and over mountains, Tella will face frostbite, sharks, avalanche, and twisted new rules in the race.

But what if the danger is deeper than that? How do you know who to trust when everyone's keeping secrets? What do you do when the person you'd relied on most suddenly isn't there for support? How do you weigh one life against another?

The race is coming to an end, and Tella is running out of time, resources, and strength. At the start of the race there were one hundred twenty-two Contenders. As Tella and her remaining friends start the final part of the race, just forty-one are left--and only one can win.




I have read every one of Victoria Scott’s published books and I think that Salt & Stone might be one of my favorites. I loved Fire & Flood because there were so many unique things about it, especially the main character Tella. I love Salt & Stone because of the way the plot unfolds.

The thing that is so amazingly awesome about Salt & Stone is there is always something going on. I would put the book down and then pick it back up and be right into the next crazy thing. I loved it. So addicting. Although after I finished reading it I wanted to stare at the wall for a while. Digest what I read and then I desperately wanted to talk about it but I don’t want to ruin it for anyone else. The best thing to do with this book is go in blind. It is action packed like I said but there are also some seriously emotional moments. Like oh my god that just happened, even though you know that it could happen. Anything can happen really.

I was having mixed feelings about Tella in this book. I understood her frustration with the way Guy is overly protective of her but she’s a strong girl. I felt like her need for approval was actually making her weak. I kept thinking she needed to pull a page from Harper’s book. Knowing she’s fierce and not needing anyone to tell her so. As we progress through the third and fourth portions of the race she really starts to develop and by the end I really liked her again. She learned along the way and managed to find balance.

I love the group that Tella travels with. It’s an interesting dynamic and you find yourself getting attached to the characters. They come and go for different reasons. It is a race to save a loved one.

That ending. Geez. Once again I want to talk about so much of it!! Ahhh!

If you enjoyed Fire & Flood, I think you will be blown away by Salt & Stone. I’m still wrapping my head around it.

The Hidden Library by Heather Lyons #RDL #Excerpt #Giveaway



Sometimes, the rabbit hole is deeper than expected . . .

Alice Reeve and Finn Van Brunt have tumbled into a life of secrets. Some secrets they share, such as their employment by the clandestine organization known as The Collectors’ Society. Other secrets they carry within them, fighting to keep buried the things that could change everything they think they know.

On the hunt for an elusive villain who is hell-bent on destroying legacies, Alice, Finn, and the rest of the Society are desperate to unravel the mysteries surrounding them. But the farther they spiral down this rabbit hole, the deeper they fall into secrets that will test their loyalties and pit them against enemies both new and old.

Secrets, they come to find, can reveal the deadliest of truths.



Book One




We are about to open the conference room door and enter the hallway when he stops. He turns to me, his lovely eyes achingly sincere. “I want to take you on a date when all of this craziness is over. A real one. We’ve kind of gone about this all backwards, haven’t we?”
One corner of my mouth lifts up. “Are you saying you’d like to court me?”
There is no playfulness to his face, no quirk to his own lips. My heart flutters at his seriousness. “Yes.”
He wants to court me.
Too many emotions rush around in a caucus race throughout my body. I have no doubts of Huckleberry Finn Van Brunt’s feelings toward me. I understood them two minutes ago just as well as I did this morning when I woke up and from the night before and from the day in Wonderland where he said, in not so many words, that he was falling in love with me.
I told him he was my north star, and meant it. He countered we are binaries.
He and I . . . We’ve never said those words, though, not the ones that truly spell out fragile, deep secrets of a heart and soul. Words so easily and yet unfortunately uttered by many, be it to express their appreciation of fried bits of potatoes to sports teams on the television. Words offered so frivolously about a variety of subjects and yet can be the most difficult, most painful, most meaningful, most cherished syllables we gift another person.
I have said these words before, to another man. Another man I still love. One I know, in the deepest confines of my heart, that I will love until the last breath escapes my body. A man who courted me in secret and then publicly in the face of astonishment, disapproval, confusion, and, in the end, prophesies.
I have willingly given the man in front of me my heart, though, whether he knows it or not. He now holds it in his hands, and while I pray he is my future, there is still a part of me that bucks in conflicted confusion and delight by this declaration of his.
He wants to court me.
And yet, as sweet and romantic as such a gesture might be, I require no such formalities. My affections for Finn Van Brunt have already solidified into something real and wonderful and meaningful.







Heather Lyons writes epic, heartfelt love stories and has always had a thing for words. In addition to writing, she’s also been an archaeologist and a teacher. She and her husband and children live in sunny Southern California and are currently working their way through every cupcakery she can find.

   




Rebound by Noelle August #BookReview #Giveaway


REBOUND
—a Boomerang novel—
By Noelle August

At Boomerang, one night can change everything…

Noelle August has taken the New Adult genre by storm, and readers can’t wait to see what chaos, confusion, and connections arise at the Boomerang offices next.

Adam Blackwood has it all. At twenty-three, he’s fabulously wealthy, Ryan Gosling-hot and at the top of his game in the business world. His life is perfect, until a scandal from his past resurfaces and threatens to knock the tech wunderkind down and throw his company, Boomerang, a hook-up site for millennials, into chaos.

Alison Quick, the twenty-one-year-old daughter of a business tycoon—and the very ex-girlfriend of Boomerang’s former intern, Ethan—has a problem of her own. After nearly flunking out in her senior year of college, she has one chance to redeem herself to her father by proving that she deserves a place in his corporate empire. That means spearheading her father’s plan to sink big money into Adam’s company and launch it into the stratosphere—provided Adam has no skeletons in his closet.

When the two meet, their sizzling chemistry makes it tough to keep things strictly professional. But when Alison discovers Adam’s secret, she knows she should bring it right to her father, who’ll leverage it for his own gain and use it to ruin Adam. The only problem: she’s falling for Adam—hard.

Will earning her father’s approval come at the price of losing her first real love? Or can Adam and Alison leave behind past mistakes and conquer the world—together?


Rebound is an addicting and fun romance. I really enjoyed this story and how unique it is to have these particular characters.

One of the things I really like about this book is that it’s about Allison. Allison screwed up her relationship with Ethan, who was featured in the first book, in a really horrible way. Unfortunately everyone makes mistakes, big and small. I love that her character gets a chance at redemption and proves good people can sometimes do bad things.

I liked Adam, the young businessman who is both driven and compassionate towards his employees. He created Boomerang and is now trying to expand into film. He needs the help of an investor, specifically Allison’s dad, and is ready to prove his worth.

The story brings the two together for the same but different reasons. Allison has accepted her mistakes and is trying to make amends. Adam is trying to forget his mistakes by running from them. They find themselves caught up together when they both have a need to prove themselves.

The romance is brewing with chemistry. These are two power players challenging one another. You are not going find either one being meek. I like how they can relax and be themselves and the way the story itself starts is perfect.

I loved the story and the writing. Definitely a NA worth picking up. Reading it I could tell the next book would be involving Grey and I am excited for it.

 Alison POV

I give myself to the music and the movement of my body, but over and over again, I’m drawn back to him. And every time, his eyes are on me. Every time, he greets me with that same devastating grin that cuts right to my core.
Finally, I can’t take it anymore. I give in and dance his way, running my mink tail through my fingers. I smile at him, feeling light and relaxed and like no one in the world would dare deny me a thing.
“Dance with me,” I say.
“Is that a question?” he asks, folding his arms across his chest. His biceps bulge beneath the flowing black fabric of his shirt, and his eyes, which seem to be a deep, penetrating gray, regard me in amusement.
“No,” I reply, still swaying as the music flows through me to wrap around us both. “Come on.”
He hesitates, and the moment stretches between us. What is he waiting for? Doesn’t he understand how much I need to dance with him right now?
Coming up close to him, I feel the pull of his body, like gravity. I press in closer, then closer still. Smoothing a hand against the silken material of his shirt and the hard contours of his torso, I ask, “Pretty please?”
I step back, and his smile broadens. Finally, he reaches out a hand to me, and I take it.

“Okay, Catwoman,” he says. “Let’s dance.”









Question: What do you get when friends pen a story with heart, plenty of laughs, and toe-curling kissing scenes? Answer: Noelle August, the pseudonym for renowned editor and award-winning writer Lorin Oberweger and New York Times bestselling YA author Veronica Rossi, the masterminds behind the Boomerang series.

   



Losing at Love by Jennifer Lacopelli #ReleaseDay #Giveaway



Grass courts, tennis whites and the fiercest competition in the world. Wimbledon. After two crazy weeks in Paris, the girls of the Outer Banks Tennis Academy are headed to London with just one thing on their minds: winning.

Indiana Gaffney is fresh off a surprise win at the French Open junior tournament. Sponsors are clamoring for her attention, but what she wants more than anything—aside from a wild card to Wimbledon—is to be with Jack Harrison, but international fame and a secret relationship rarely mix well.

When Penny Harrison dreamed of playing at Wimbledon she never imagined agonizing pain shooting through her ankle with every step. With just a month until the tournament and the whole world expecting her to win, she’s determined to play, with or without the support of her coach or the love of her life, Alex Russell.

For the first time ever, no one expects anything from Jasmine Randazzo. After a crushing first-round defeat in the French Open juniors, the tennis world has given up on her, but worse than that, so have her parents, her best friend Teddy and maybe even her coach. With everyone writing her off, can she find it within herself to go after her dreams?






Paris, France
Indiana Gaffney gasped, her eyes flying open and locking on the glistening object across the hotel room. It reflected the muted television behind her, the French Open final, the red of the court, blurry in the polished silver. A large, round plate, innocuous to the untrained eye, with the sizeable laser carved logo of Roland Garros at the center, was braced against the mirror hanging on the hotel room wall. The mirror reflected the match clearly, the broad steps and fierce rallies of two men battling it out for the French Open Men’s title. But those men were mere afterthoughts as her eye caught a set of shoulders stretching the material of his t-shirt thin, not a mere image from the television, but broad and warm and real. Strong hands slid down her back, fingers twining into the ends of her long blonde hair, tugging on it gently, drawing her gaze away from the mirror and back to the green eyes of the man in her bed.
He kissed her soundly, sending shivers down her spine and making her hips rock against his and her legs tighten around his waist. “It’s not gonna disappear if you take your eyes off it,” Jack Harrison muttered into the skin of her neck, nipping at it lightly with his teeth.
“Feels like it will,” she whispered back, tilting her head to give him better access. Most of her mind was focused on what he was doing with his hands and mouth, but that plate, the one that declared in no uncertain terms that she was the new French Open junior champion, would not be ignored. Not even for the guy who made her heart pound like no one else ever had before, the guy who, up until a few days ago, could barely look at her without his shoulders slumping with guilt. Their age gap hadn’t shrunk in the days full of soft kisses and nights far more intense — though perhaps not as intense as she’d like — but he wasn’t fighting their attraction anymore. She hadn’t chased him, not really, but he’d known she wanted him, almost from the moment they first met. Then he’d found out how old she was and he started treating her like a flashing red SEVENTEEN was stamped across her forehead, every year between them creating an accompanying foot of distance. In the end, the attraction had been too much, even for someone as painfully good as Jack Harrison.
“Hey, Champ, you in there?” Jack’s voice brought her back, his lips spelling out the words against her shoulder.
“Champ?” Indy hummed and smiled. “I like the sound of that.” In fact, she liked the sound of it so much she planned on winning again the next chance she got, on the grass courts at Wimbledon.
“I bet you do. Get used to it, baby,” Jack said, his whole face lighting up as he shifted his weight forward, tilting her back onto the bed. A shriek bubbled up through her throat and the giggles followed as he leaned over her, bracing himself on his elbows and then smothering her laughter with the press of his mouth. As his tongue slid against hers, she turned herself over to it, letting herself revel in the dreams of future victories and the celebrations that would follow.








Jennifer Iacopelli was born in New York and has no plans to leave...ever. Growing up, she read everything she could get her hands on, but her favorite authors were Laura Ingalls Wilder, L.M. Montgomery and Frances Hodgson Burnett all of whom wrote about kick-ass girls before it was cool for girls to be kick-ass. She got a Bachelor's degree in Adolescence Education and English Literature quickly followed up by a Master's in Library Science, which lets her frolic all day with her books and computers, leaving plenty of time in the evenings to write and yell at the Yankees, Giants and her favorite tennis players through the TV.