Sunday, January 28, 2018

The Return to BookTube Tag!

Today is very exciting because today marks my official comeback to BookTube!

For those of you who don't know, 'BookTube' is a YouTube community of readers. There are thousands of channels with videos from book reviews and monthly 'wrap ups' of recent reads to discussions on reading or the publishing industry and in-depth looks at favorite (or least favorite) books. It's a great community for passionate readers.

And if you didn't know, I was once a very active booktuber, but I took an unexpected hiatus when my video editor started crashing on me every 30 seconds or so. (That was a very, very dark time, trust you me.) So a complete overhaul of my video-making system and two years later, I finally stomped on that dastardly fiend Procrastination, took the plunge, and now I'm back to making videos.


I have always loved talking about books, whether on YouTube or here on my blog, but there's a certain type of crazy enthusiasm I only find while filming booktube videos.

And thanks to my friend, collaborator, and co-conspirator at BritishBiblioholic, I AM BACK!

No worries! I'm not leaving the blog; we're not talking an either/or situation here. One of my big problems with booktube is that I usually have SO MANY topics and ideas that I can't keep up with them on videos alone, so that content will become 'Blog Exclusives'. (Woo-hoo-hoo, look who's gettin' fancy!)

So if you enjoy my book reviews here, definitely check out my YouTube channel!

And don't miss my giveaway for Robin Hood's Dawn; closes Feb 2.

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Robin Hood's Dawn Blog Tour, Giveaway, & Author Q&A [CLOSED]

Welcome, new and returning visitors!
If you love Robin Hood tales, English history, and its folklore as much as I do, boy is there a new release for us. Check out all the delicious details down below and don't forget to enter the giveaway for a paperback copy of Robin Hood's Dawn!
-Amanda ^_^

Robin Hood’s Dawn: Book One in the Robin Hood Trilogy will be available wherever books are sold as of January 16, 2018.

A story birthed from both history and folklore— step into a unique retelling of the Robin Hood legend.
Set in 12th century England and France, a time of anarchy, intrigue, and turmoil, Robin Hood’s Dawn [Angevin World Publishing, January 16, 2018] by authors Olivia Longueville and J.C. Plummer offers readers a carefully crafted story blending real history with key elements of the Robin Hood legend. In an intriguing story that highlights Robin’s family background and dynamics like never before, readers will be undeniably enchanted as they follow Robin Fitzooth, a man falsely convicted of a shocking crime who finds refuge in Sherwood Forest and becomes Robin Hood. Leading a band of men against the injustices of a malevolent sheriff and his henchmen, Robin begins to unravel a web of treachery threatening the English royal family.  
As shadowy forces gather to destroy the future of a nation, Robin faces deceit, betrayal, and the ravages of war as he defends his king, his country, his people, and the woman he loves from a conspiracy so diabolical, so unexpected, that the course of history hangs in the balance.
From the mists of an ancient woodland, to lavish royal courts teeming with intrigue, and the exotic shores of the Holy Land — Robin Hood leads the fight in a battle between good and evil, justice and tyranny, the future and the past.
Developed in a fast-paced storyline with elements of political intrigue, questionable morality, adventure, romance, suspense, and mystery, Robin Hood’s Dawn is part one of an enthralling three-part retelling of the legend of Robin Hood.

Author Q&A with Olivia Longueville and J.C. Plummer

Robin Hood’s Dawn:  Book One in the Robin Hood Trilogy

Robin Hood has been featured in many books, movies, and television shows.  How is your story different?
We have taken a fresh approach to the Robin Hood story, and we’re excited to share our vision with fans of the legendary hero.  
We have creatively reimagined the origins of the Robin Hood legend, which includes exploring the complexity of his family dynamics - an aloof, proud father loyal to King Henry II, and a kind-hearted, generous mother devoted to ministering to the poor with her gift for healing.  One theme is that the consequences of immoral actions and secret sins can reverberate across generations, and this is part of the legacy that Robin receives from his father.
We wanted to cast him as a hero fighting against the tyranny of a lawless government official instead of a bandit redistributing wealth.  When Robin is falsely accused of a shocking crime by the new Sheriff of Nottingham, he could have simply retreated to a safe place beyond the reach of the sheriff.  However, he feels a responsibility to the people – he believes in the intrinsic value of every human being – so he takes a stand to defend the people from the actions of the sheriff.  And this points to another theme:  one person can make a difference by taking a stand for what is right.
Robin also feels great admiration for the newly crowned King Richard the Lionhearted.  His loyalty to the king will create a number of conflicts and unexpected consequences in the story.
Lastly, we wanted to set our Robin Hood story in a fascinating time period:  the 12th century.  In our humble opinion, the 12th century has much to offer fans of sweeping tales of political, social, and spiritual upheaval.
We have carefully constructed our story within the framework of real history. We hope that this realism and devotion to actual history will add to the enjoyment of the story and encourage people to learn more about this time.

You’ve emphasized how your Robin Hood story has been reimagined.  Will fans of the traditional ballads still recognize this as a Robin Hood story?
There is a lot of variety in the many books and screen adaptations of the Robin Hood legend.  We wanted to create a story that was respectful towards fans of the original ballads and legends without necessarily adhering to the same storylines that have been previously written.  It is our hope that all Robin Hood fans will enjoy this fresh retelling of the story.
For example, we feel that Marian is a character who deserves more attention.  All too often she is a background character with little to do.  With this in mind, we have focused on creating a Lady Marian who will figure more prominently in the story, especially in book 2.  
Our Marian is more than a love interest for Robin.  Over the course of Robin Hood’s Dawn, Marian transforms from a sheltered, somewhat pampered, girl into a brave woman who continuously strives to overcome both her fears and the obstacles that she faces.  We also wanted her to be feminine and remain believable as a woman of the 12th century.  Of course, keep in mind that the most prominent woman of the 12th century was the indomitable Eleanor of Aquitaine, an inspiration to any woman living in a male-dominated society.  
Fans of the Robin Hood legend will find many familiar characters:  Maid Marian, Little John, Allan-a-dale, Will Scarlet, Much the Miller’s son, Guy of Gisborne, and the Sheriff of Nottingham.
Readers will also meet real historical figures such as King Stephen, King Henry II, Richard the Lionhearted, King Philippe II of France, Prince John "the Lackland", and many others, including Ranulphus Besace.  Who was he?  Well, he was a real person who was King Richard’s personal physician!

This book is advertised as the first in a trilogy.  Will the first two books end in cliff-hangers? Will any of the books be stand-alone?  
Although the final mysteries and conflicts will not be resolved until book 3, we have structured the trilogy so that books 1 and 2 do not end in cliffhangers.
The readers will not be left wondering whether the main characters will live or die, and we have endeavored to create a sense of completion in each of the first two books. Some story threads will be resolved, and some of the mysteries surrounding the main characters will be revealed in each of the first two books.
We think readers will be excited and eager for the next installment without suffering undue frustration at the endings of books 1 and 2.  
The books will not be stand-alone.

How did each of you become interested in writing this story and working together as co-authors?
I love to tell stories with multi-dimensional characters.  I speak several languages, and I found that I enjoyed not only writing stories but also writing them in different languages.  My favorite legendary hero is Robin Hood, and my favorite historical figure is Anne Boleyn.  My first novel is an English-language re-imagining of the story of Anne Boleyn.
In 2015, I met Coleen (J.C.) on the Internet and we decided to co-author a Robin Hood Trilogy.  
It is amazing that Coleen and I have managed to successfully work together on our project despite the fact that we have never met each other in real life.  We talk on the phone and frequently exchange skype messages as well as emails.  We have been working together long-distance despite living in very different time zones.
Coleen (J.C.)
I began writing about three years ago.  I had previously done editing work for other authors, but I had never thought about writing my own stories until one day when I was suddenly inspired to start writing, and I’ve been writing nearly non-stop ever since.
I wanted to write a book that would honor the legend of Robin Hood as a man who stood against the tyranny of a powerful government official; a man who fought for justice and fairness because he recognized the intrinsic value rooted in the humanity of all people.  

So, you’ve never actually met, you come from different countries, different cultures, and speak different languages.  How can you co-author a book?  Is it because you have similar writing styles?
Fortunately, Olivia is fluent in English, because that’s the only language I know!
We have found that we have a lot in common – especially our love of writing and of history.  We have to work hard to merge our writing styles, but we have successfully done this.
That’s very true.  Oliva and I have very different “voices” and writing styles.  You might even say they are nearly opposite styles.  
I tend to write in a straightforward, expository style, with a minimum of descriptive elements and metaphorical flourishes.  I am good at explaining things, organizing ideas, and creating natural sounding dialogue.
My writing is characterized by lush romanticism and passionate lyricism.  I love to create metaphors and descriptions which excite the imagination of the reader in a vivid and dramatic way.
In some respects, Olivia’s words are the emotional heart of the story, and my words represent the rational intellect.  Of course, it’s not quite that cut-and-dried, but it is one way to describe how two people with such different styles have come together to create Robin Hood’s Dawn.

About the Authors:

Authors Olivia Longueville and J.C. Plummer met online and bonded over a passion for
storytelling, history, and fiction. They began the journey of writing The Robin Hood Trilogy
despite having never met each other in person.

Olivia Longueville has degrees in finance and general management from London Business School.
Currently, she is working in investment banking and is also helping her father run the family
business. Longueville loves historical fiction, considering herself an amateur historian, and she is
passionate about historical research, genealogy, and art. She has undertaken in-depth research
into the history of the Valois dynasty, the French Renaissance, the Tudors, and the Plantagenets.
As an established published writer of Between Two Kings, she is interested in creating strong and
diverse characters, and giving voice to stories that are unique, compelling, inspiring, and

J.C. Plummer graduated Summa Cum Laude from Washburn University with a Bachelor of Arts
in History and Anthropology. She then earned a Master of Science degree in Computer
Information Science from Dartmouth College. Growing up on a small farm in Kansas, Plummer
developed a lifelong fascination with history and a curiosity about other cultures and people.
Coauthoring The Robin Hood Trilogy has merged her passions for history, culture, and technology
into one unique, exciting project. As an author and historian, Plummer’s goal is to provide
thoughtful and entertaining storytelling that honors the past, is mindful of the present, and is
optimistic for the future.

To learn more about Robin Hood’s Dawn: Book One in the Robin Hood Trilogy, visit

A timely and provocative read broadening the storyline of this well-known legend, Robin Hood’s Dawn reveals:
  • Historical detail in the events, characters, and locations throughout the storyline 
  • The intrinsic value of all people, regardless of wealth and status
  • The inherently raw characteristics of Robin Hood—an indomitable, clever, and honorable man who is also overconfident and reckless
  • The transformation of Lady Marian into a powerful female character who faces danger with an intrepid spirit
  • The moral imperative of defending the powerless against tyrannical government officials
  • And so much more!
Congratulations, winner! You will be receiving an email with the necessary details. Thanks to everyone else who participated. ^_^

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

ARC REVIEW: The Eternity Elixir by Frank L. Cole (Potion Masters #1)

Twelve-year-old Gordy Stitser is one of the few people who knows the truth about the secret society of potion masters, because not only is Gordy’s mom on the Board of Ruling Elixirists Worldwide (B.R.E.W.), but she has also been training Gordy in the art of potion-making. 

Gordy is a natural, and every day he sneaks down to the basement lab to invent new potions using exotic ingredients like fire ant eggs, porcupine quills, and Bosnian tickling juice.

One afternoon, Gordy receives a mysterious package containing an extremely rare potion known as “The Eternity Elixir.” In the right hands, the Elixir continues to protect society. But in the wrong hands, it could destroy the world as we know it.  

Now, sinister potion masters are on the hunt to steal the Eternity Elixir. It’s up to Gordy, his parents, and his best friends, Max and Adeline, to prevent an all-out potion war.

Received an ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

The Eternity Elixir hooked me right from the start, opening on a hairy, pus-covered, slime-trailing monster moping through the house, who is in fact our main character, Gordy, after another failed attempt to create the perfect Halloween costume with a potion of his own invention.

Gordy is a natural talent at concocting and identifying potions, encouraged by his Elixirist mother to continue honing his skills, despite his young age. But when a mysterious potion is sent from his eccentric aunt while his mother is away and two shady lawyers start plying his dad for access to his mom's secret lab, Gordy knows potions aren't going to solve all his problems. With the help of his two best friends, he's got to figure out what the mystery potion is and why someone wants it so bad.

The Eternity Elixir is a fun and fast-paced introduction to a promising new series of magical adventure. It's a great read for younger fantasy lovers, especially anyone who likes Shadow Mountain's other great titles, like Fablehaven or Mysteries of Cove

Cole has created a clever concept with his new Potion Masters series. Instead of wands and spells and flying brooms, his magic system is instead entirely composed of magic potions and stresses the necessity of the exact ingredients and following instructions to the letter. It has a fantastic "Ewww!" factor in its weird and disgusting ingredients -not to mention the ancient mummy in the basement that requires constant treatments of air freshener- which boys especially will love. For anyone who loved and misses Hogwarts' potion classes (and Bertie Bott's Every Flavor jelly beans), then this is probably the series for you.

One of the things I appreciate most about this book is that Gordy is a good kid. Already on his way to being a master Elixirist, he understands the importance of patience, following directions, and obeying the rules. I love to see this in main characters, especially when they're fun and well-developed ones. Gordy does have to push the rules as the events of the story intensify, but it's never for mischievous reasons, and it's refreshing to see this in a children's book. (Don't worry; his best friend Max makes up for this in the mischief department.)

Cole skips over some other genre cliches by making Gordy's family well-grounded and fully supportive in its secrets, and giving Gordy friends who have already stumbled on said secrets. It was a nice twist to jump into a story where the best friends don't have the adjusting period and there's no tenseness in the family over secrets and differences.

The Eternity Elixir is a decent adventure, funny, fast-paced, and full of clever and weird potions and inventions; despite a climax that's a little anti-climactic, it finishes off with a great open-ended epilogue to set up the sequel and potentially an even better villain. There's a lot more to explore in this new world and these characters so I'm looking forward to the next Potion Masters book.