Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Leap Into Books Giveaway Hop

Welcome to the Leap Into Books Giveaway Hop!

So I kind of dropped the ball on the last giveaway hop and completely forgot to make a post. Oops! I am ready for this one though!

I am offering up a

$15 Amazon gift card!!

For all of your international book lovers, you may order a book worth $15 or less from Book Depository (please check to ensure they deliver to your country).

How do you enter? That's the easiest part!

Choose one or any or all of the following:
1. Follow on GFC
2.  Follow on Twitter
3. Like on Facebook
4. Add to Google+ Circles (See box on right of blog)
5. Friend on Goodreads

That's all!

Monday, February 27, 2012

Blog Tour: The Secret Life of Copernicus H. Stringfellow

Welcome to the blog tour for The Secret Life of Copernicus H. Stringfellow by Lorin Barber!

Copernicus H. Stringfellow, a.k.a. Nick, is not your run-of-the-mill genius. His mind is so powerful it can stop a speeding automobile or stem internal bleeding. As Nick goes about quietly doing good, he discovers that his powers are greatly enhanced by the nutrients present in Twinkies. Follow Nick on his amazing adventures in this humorous and exciting action-packed book for all ages.

(Cover and summary via Goodreads)

Learn more about the book on Goodreads and the book's official website. Read more about the author at his website and Twitter. Learn about the publisher, Cedar Fort, on their webpage, Twitter, Facebook, or Goodreads.


Copernicus H. Stringfellow, or Nick to his friends, is a strange fellow in many ways. His looks certainly set him apart, but what is really different is his intellect. He's nothing short of a genius, and he uses this intelligence to help those around him. Armed with his official brain food, the Twinkie, Nick has determined to help as many people as possible using his wealth and special abilities. This time though, Nick may meet a group of people that can help him just as much.

What a fun book! It does an excellent job of immediately grabbing you into the story. It is fairly unique as far as stories go too. Nick is a bit of an oddball, but he's very lovable. He seems a bit like a super hero in some senses and an awkward geek in others. He definitely has a wonderful perspective on people. Nick's ability to see past the surface to the true person inside is something we could all learn from. Nick forms a family of sorts, and what a great group of characters they are. I appreciate their diversity, and they certainly seem like a group of people I'd love to have helping me out. It's also great to see that even with all of Nick's intelligence and abilities, he still has things to learn from his new friends. It helps to show that we all have something to contribute.

One thing I found to be a bit jarring was the detailed description you got of every character almost as soon as they were introduced. While it was nice to have such a thorough description and history, sometimes it pulled me out of the story just a little bit. I just wish that could have flowed a bit better. In the end that didn't take away from my enjoyment of the book though. This book is fun and whimsical. It almost feels like a fairy tale at times. You can't help but cheer for Nick and his entire crew. I would love to hang out with all of them for a while and just talk. They have some fascinating conversations. I thought this was a really enjoyable book. It helped me gain some perspective on how I judge people and how I can do more to help others. I really look forward to reading more about Nick.

Galley provided for review.

Make sure to check out all of the stops on the tour! Thanks for stopping by!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Blog Tour: On the Rim of Love by Marie Astor- Guest Post and Giveaway

Welcome to the blog tour for On the Rim of Love by Marie Astor!

About On The Rim Of Love - GoodreadsAmazon
Twenty-two-year-old Maggie Robin has been dating the irresistibly good-looking Jeffrey Preston for a year. But when Jeffrey proposes marriage to her a week after her college graduation, Maggie finds herself wondering if she wants to spend the rest of her life married to a workaholic TV show producer.

Her doubts culminate when during a ski trip to British Columbia she meets Taylor Denton, a handsome, free-spirited big mountain skier.

Maggie’s attraction to Taylor is undeniable, but she is engaged to marry Jeffrey. Will Maggie have the courage to follow her heart?

Author Marie Astor has written a guest post on how to make readers fall in love with your characters.

How to make your readers fall in love with your characters?

How to make your readers fall in love with your characters? is a question that I bet every author wishes she / he had a definitive answer to, but unfortunately there is no one-size-fits-all formula, or, if there is, I have not found it. When I try to answer this question for myself, as I do every time I set out on creating characters for a new novel, I ask myself what makes me like a person? After all, characters are people – yes, fictional, but still people, and I hope that you will agree with me that such wonderful personages as Dorothea Brooke from Middlemarch, Mr. Darcy from Pride and Prejudice, and Scarlett O’Hara from Gone with the Wind - I’ll stop the list here for the sake of space - have become parts of our lives in ways just as important as those of real people. But back to the question – what makes one likeable? 

Does a character have to be perfect? 

Absolutely not! How many of us will admit to having friends who drive us crazy now and then, but we love them anyway? The same applies to fictional characters. For example, Scarlett O’Hara - Scarlett is scheming, conniving, jealous, and downright mean at times, and yet, we love her all the same because she is also strong-willed and tough, and she perseveres and stands tall in very difficult circumstances, making us root for her as readers.

Does a reader have to be able to relate to a character on some level?

Absolutely – regardless of where and when the story takes place, the reader should be able to identify with the character on some level. I think that Jane Austen’s novels are the perfect example – the setting may be in a different century, but we still find ourselves relating to Austen’s heroines as they struggle with their misfortunes and claim their victories. There are still men like Mr. Darcy walking around today, albeit clad in a different style of clothing.

Does a character have to be good-looking? 

That depends. How does a heroine who is gorgeous, confident and eloquent sound? Boring. But if we had a heroine who is good-looking, but is struggling with insecurities stemming from her past we would want to find out more about her. . I believe that there should be a balance between physical appearance and character traits.

These are just a few of the guidelines that steered me true when I was writing the characters of Maggie Robin and Taylor Denton – the leading characters of my contemporary romance novel, On the Rim of Love. I hope that you will add On the Rim of Love to your Kindle shelf and join Maggie and Taylor on their journey.

Thanks for that awesome post. I may be swooning already!

About Marie Astor - websiteFacebookTwitterGoodreads
Marie Astor is a die-hard romantic who wholeheartedly believes in true love, which is why she writes in the contemporary romance genre.

Marie is the author of contemporary romance novels, On the Rim of Love, Lucky Charm, and a short story collection, A Chance Encounter and Other Stories.

In addition to being a writer, Marie is an avid hiker, an excellent swimmer, a good skier, and a capable badminton player.

Currently, Marie is working on her next novel – stay tuned for details! If you would like to receive updates about book releases and events, please visit Marie’s website or visit Marie at her Facebook page.

There is also an awesome giveaway going on!

Contest Info: Marie is offering a Kindle 3G skinned in her beautiful On The Rim Of Love cover art. Enter using the Rafflecopter widget below!

Open US/Canada.  See full contest rules here.

a Rafflecopter giveaway
Be sure to check out all the stops on the tour. Thanks for stopping by!

Monday, February 13th - Riverina Romantics 
Tuesday, February 14th - Snowdrop Dreams of Books 
Wednesday, February 15th - My Reading Room 
Thursday, February 16th - Books Like Breathing 
Friday, February 17th - Obsession with Books 

Monday, February 20th - Reviews By Molly 
Tuesday, February 21st - Sweeping Me 
Wednesday, February 22nd - A Casual Reader's Blog 
Thursday, February 23rd - Better Read Than Dead 
Friday, February 24th - I'm Just Sitting Here and Read 

Monday, February 27th - Hesperia Loves Books 
Tuesday, February 28th - A Tale of Many Reviews 
Wednesday, February 29th - Library Mosaic 
Thursday, March 1st - The Magic Attic 
Friday, March 2nd - Ce-Ce's Garden Reviews

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Blog Tour: Persuasion by Rebecca H. Jamison

Welcome to the blog tour for Persuasion: A Latter-Day Tale by Rebecca H. Jamison!

When Anne broke off her engagement seven years ago, she thought she’d never see Neil Wentworth again. But when Neil’s brother buys the house she grew up in, it seems fate has other plans in store. Anne is unprepared for the roller coaster of emotions that come when Neil returns and starts dating her younger friend.

Convinced that Neil could no longer have strong feelings for her, Anne pushes away all thoughts of the past. But when the handsome man she’s been dating decides he can’t live without her, Anne must come to terms with her past.

Fans of Jane Austen’s
Persuasion will enjoy this modern version of her most romantic story.

Price: $15.99
Number of pages: 240 pages
Genre: Romance
Publisher: Bonneville Books (Cedar Fort)
Release Date: Feb 7, 2012

Rebecca Jamison enjoys running, dancing, making jewelry, reading, and watching chick flicks. Rebecca grew up in Vienna, Virginia. She attended Brigham Young University, earning a BA and MA in English. In between college and grad school, she served a mission to Portugal and the Cape Verde islands. Rebecca now lives with her husband and children in Utah. You can learn more about her at www.rebeccahjamison.com

Find Rebecca on Facebook!


Anne has some big adjustments to make. Her dad is having to move out of her childhood home, and Anne is given the task of selling some things. When she sees who is interested in buying the house, Anne is in for a shock. It's her former fiance Neil's brother. Anne wasn't prepared for this part of her past to come back to haunt her. Soon Anne discovers that old flames are very hard to forget, but she must because Neil is currently otherwise occupied (and a bit bitter about the past). The more Anne tries to move on though, the closer she becomes with Neil. Can things ever work out between them?

I was immediately absorbed in this book, and I absolutely loved it! It has that classical feel, and you can see the influence that the Austen source material has on it. This book was able to be romantic without making me cringe. I think that is somewhat due to the Austen influence, but a large part of that is also due to the author's ability to keep things from becoming too syrupy. It's what I'd like to call a more "realistic" romance. I thought Anne and Neil were fantastic characters. They were a good balance for each other. Anne's family was delightfully wacky in many ways. I particularly enjoyed her flighty sister Liz. Anne's relationship with Will was handled in a very interesting way. I was actually on the edge of my seat for a bit there trying to see how this was going to be handled.

I find that LDS romances can sometimes feel a little preachy for me, but this book was a great balance between the story and the more "churchy" aspects of the story. The meddling of others in Anne's love life was so real to life. It seems like the older you get, the more people in your ward are interested in who you may or may not be dating if you are still single. This is probably one of my favorite LDS fiction books I've read. It's the kind of book you can curl up with repeatedly. It's a beautiful homage to Jane Austen, and I highly recommend it.

Book provided for review.

Thanks so much for stopping by! Be sure and check out all the stops.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Blog Tour: Barking Mad by Jamieson Ridenhour

Welcome to the blog tour for Barking Mad by Jamieson Ridenhour! I have a guest post, review, and giveaway to tell you about today.

About Barking Mad - goodreads, Amazon, Typecast Publishing
The year is 1931. The scene is werewolfishly classic English fare. And tonight the moon hangs as full as a royal pie plate in this inaugural Reginald Spiffington mystery when the none too obsequious playboy, Reggie, sets out for a delectably long weekend at Huffsworthy Hall to assist his dear friend, Moony, in his failing endeavor to take the hand of his lady-love and to partake in the culinary talents of the genius chef running the kitchen. With no one reason more important than the next, he ll be off straight after breakfast. Reggie's itinerary for the weekend turns abruptly less toothsome when he decides to solve the unexpected murder of another of the Hall's guests, a guest whose luggage is secretly packed full of nefarious plans. Soon, all Huffsworthy's inhabitants are potential suspects, including Reggie's saucy, quick-witted love-interest, Mimsy Borogrove. Aided by his invaluable valet, Pelham, and armed only with his knowledge of detective novels and a newly acquired set of keener, canine senses, Reggie sets out to find the killer before another meal falls to ruin

Jamieson Ridenhour has very kindly written up a post about how to prepare for writing in a certain time period.

Hi everybody! I’m Jamie, and I’m the author of the werewolf murder-mystery Barking Mad.  First off, I want to thank Lisa for hosting me here at the Casual Reader’s Blog as part of the Barking Mad blog tour. I’m excited to be here, and I heartily appreciate the cyber-hospitality.

I’ve been asked to talk about how I prepare to write in a certain time period. I have written contemporary pieces, mostly short fiction, but a lot of my work is set in an earlier era. Barking Mad occurs in England during the early 1930s; I’ve also written a story set in Mississippi during the late 1930s (“Dark Gonna Catch Me Here,” in this month’s issue of Weird Tales), and the YA novel I’m writing now is set in Victorian London. I like being able to visit other time periods, other places—both when I’m reading and when I’m creating my own stories.

The trick, of course, is making it authentic. I’ve been to England, but I’ve never been to 1931. Perhaps once I get my own Tardis (it’s been on my Christmas list for years, and I’m still waiting), but until then I have to make do with research. And that’s the short and dirty answer to preparing for writing historical fiction: reference books and more reference books. And Google is your friend.

I’d like to say that my research for Barking Mad was thorough and organized. Honestly, though, the best way to prepare for writing a novel set in the 1930s is to read lots of novels written in the 1930s. Barking Mad was purposefully intended to be a tribute to three types of early twentieth-century stories: the Jeeves and Wooster stories by P.G. Wodehouse, Agatha Christie’s big house murder-mysteries, and the Universal horror films of the 30s and 40s. Werewolves! Rich playboys! Murder! Because I’m a great lover of all those things, and have spent scads of time reading Wodehouse and watching the old Universal films, a lot of the speech patterns and narrative moves were sort of second nature. I know what those genres feel like, have had them hard-wired into my brain by a lifetime of reading, and I had a great time recreating them.

Which is not to say that I didn’t do actual research during the writing of the novel. Most of this had to do with small details that I wanted to get right—Would a 30s novel have an author photo on the dust cover? Had Constantinople become Istanbul by 1931? What’s the difference between an Inspector and a Detective Inspector, and was that difference the same during the interwar years?—but a few major things needed more in depth digging. I got advice on poisons from my friend Angela, for instance, who gleefully used her knowledge as a medical professional to suggest painful and disgusting ways I could kill people with common garden plants. My favorite find was a lunar calendar for 1931, which allowed me to track the full moon 80 years ago, a fairly crucial point in a werewolf novel.

Ultimately, much of the research I did either didn’t make it into the book or else made only a marginal appearance. Because Barking Mad is in many ways a book about fine food, I spent a lot of  time with some delicious-sounding recipes from the 1930s. Most of those will have to wait to be eaten in later novels. But everything helped. Every nugget of 1930s culture, slang, or history brought me better understanding of the era and my characters. I listened to a lot of music from the late 20s and early 30s as well, even going so far as to create a playlist to keep me company while I wrote. The trick is to go there, even without a Tardis, to be as completely in 1931 as I can. If I can do that, then my characters will say the right thing, dress the right way, and be in the most complete way they can.

Plus I get to have a little temporal vacation. And that’s smashing, old bean. Simply smashing.

A temporal vacation? I love it! I think reading helps do that for me. Thanks so much for that great post.

About Jamieson Ridenhour - website, Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads
Jamieson Ridenhour is the author of Barking Mad: A Reginald Spiffington Mystery, available from Typecast Publishing in June of 2011. He is the editor of the Valancourt edition of Sheridan Le Fanus 1872 lesbian vampire novella Carmilla, as well as creator of the award-winning short fairy-tale horror film Cornerboys.
The South Carolina native now lives in Bismarck, ND, where he writes poetry about movie monsters and murder-mysteries with werewolves in them. He also plays wicked lead guitar with Bismarck-based rock and roll band Blind Mice, lectures on vampires and Charles Dickens (though not at the same time), and generally frolics on the plains. He lives with his wife Gwyn and their two children Ian and Eva.


Reginald Spiffington is already dreading the weekend. His friend Moony has asked Reggie out to a country manor to assist Moony in getting the attention of a particular girl. Once there though, things get out of hand very quickly. A murder, a love interest, and a werewolf are only part of the trials Reggie must withstand. With the help of his valet Pelham, Reggie is determined to find the killer, help Moony get the girl, and eat some delicious food.

This book was so much fun! It has the amazing ability to pay homage to the great mystery novels of the past, while providing just enough mocking of their style without being mean. Reggie seems like a pretty fun chap, and I couldn't help but think I would like to spend some time with him. He handles everything as calmly and smoothly as possible. Of course, he would be helpless without his man Pelham. Pelham has an interesting past, and I was really interested in this. Pelham is definitely the kind of person I'd want around in my time of need. Mimsy was great, and I am dying to read one of her novels. I bet they are a hoot. Arabella was someone I was less impressed with in the beginning, but as the book went on she became a much more interesting character.

The mystery wasn't too mysterious, but even so I wasn't sure who the responsible party was. I went through several suspects before the killer was finally revealed. I also loved the genre mixing. This book was a little bit paranormal, a lot mystery. I thought the book was witty as well. It is also a rather quick read, and you never get bored when reading it. Overall I thought this was a great book.

Book provided for review.

And now for the giveaway!

Contest Info: Jamie is offering a giveaway for all entries gathered during the Tour. A signed copy of Barking Mad, 4 unique signed character cards and a DVD.

Open US/Canada.  See full contest rules here.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Virtual Book Tour: Heroes & Hounds by Bill Miller

Welcome to the virtual book tour for Heroes & Hounds by Bill Miller! I have a review and guest post, so let's get to it.

Heroes and Hounds is a wonderfully charming story about a young girl’s adventures with her pony and her friend as she seeks to fulfill her dream of riding “to the hounds” with the hunt. Although the story is written for young audiences, it has multi-generational appeal as it touches on such issues as the plight of families with parents in military service and the welfare of veterans. Anyone who loves horses, dogs and other animals will enjoy this book. The illustrations are beautiful and create a nostalgia of their own in their old-style look reminiscent of children’s books decades ago.

Carly is 11 years old and lives with her grandfather on a 200-acre Virginia farm while both parents serve in the military overseas.  She loves the farm, and befriends all of the animals including a sneaky red fox that stalks her grandfather’s prize chickens. Her best friend is her pony, Monroe, who shares her enthusiasm for adventure.  Carly’s constant dream is to ride with the Riverdale Hunt Club that passes through her grandfather’s property.

On one particularly rainy Saturday, Carly watches from her front porch as the finely dressed ladies and gentlemen ride to the hounds.  Later in the day, Carly finds out that a young hound named Hampton has become lost and Carly is determined to find him and by so doing endear herself to the hunt’s Master; perhaps to be asked to ride Monroe in an upcoming meet.  Carly enlists the help of her friend, Freddie, but the adventure is just beginning.  Carly, Monroe, Hampton and the red fox have no idea what’s dangers await them.

Author Bill Miller kindly wrote a guest post for us on his inspiration for writing this book.

I have been an avid equestrian all of my adult life and have been actively involved in Foxhunting for most of that time. We are a drag hunt which means we don’t actually chase live animals and there is never a kill. A number of years ago, the Master of the Hunt, an elderly lady, told me the brief story about a hound that went missing for three months and was found safe and sound several states away. This was the inspiration for Heroes and Hounds and as an 80th birthday present for my dear friend, I wrote the story.  It was delivered as a manuscript in a three-ring binder.  I shopped the story around for a little while but I was disappointed at the results so I filed it away. (Rejection letters) A few years later, I met another author who was writing novels about foxhunting in Mississippi. We talked and she told me about self-publishing which by now had reached respectable levels. I sent her the manuscript, she read it and loved it, and encouraged me to publish. Next I looked for an illustrator which I felt would great enhance the project. I met a retired couple from upstate New York: She an illustrator, he a book designer.  I had gotten all kinds of ridiculous quotes from others around the country but Mary and Al read the story, loved it, and wanted to be part of the project. And they didn’t want any upfront money.  It took another year to bring the illustrations to life, to really rewrite and edit the manuscript and publish the book. But it was a labor of love from everyone involved and the results have been more than we ever imagined. The story itself, while based on a true incident, really took on a life of its own and is basically fiction.
I am currently working on a movie for the web called Cowboy Spirit which will be an original script.  We plan on shooting it next summer.  You can learn more about it at www.cowboyspirit.tv.

Bill Miller has been riding to the hounds for the over 40 years. For nearly 20 years he has been an honorary whipper-in for the Norfolk Hunt Club. Bill is also actively involved in Team Penning during the summer months. He lives on a small farm in Sherborn, Massachusetts with his wife, three horses and dog.. When not working with horses, Bill is an independent film director and cinematographer. His TV shows and commercials have been viewed by millions worldwide and he has won three Emmys and numerous other industry awards. He has also been widely published in trade magazines. Bill is also creative director for Spirit of the American Cowboy Foundation, a non-profit organization which raises money for pediatric cancer research.

  • Television Emmys, Clios and other television awards

Find and follow Bill Miller on:

Buy the book at:


Carly loves to watch the hunt as it comes past. She dreams of getting to be a part of it one day, feeling the wind on her face as she and her faithful horse ride with the hounds. Young Hampton is one of those hounds, but he loses his way on a hunt. Hampton soon meet "Crazy" Willie, a man haunted by his wartime past. Carly, Hampton, and Willie will be undertaking an adventure none of them ever imagine, but it's something that will hold vast importance in their lives and others'. 

This was a really great book! It managed to be modern but with an old-fashioned feel. It really drew me back to my childhood, reminding me of some of the classic books for young people. You get a great feel for the hunt, and you can feel the wind whipping past as Carly rides. This book has a wonderful sense of atmosphere, and the descriptions make everything so real. Carly and Hampton are both fun characters. They are both young and curious, and they are watched over by some very special protectors.

There were some great messages too in this book, the main one involving judging people. Willie was so haunted by his past that he was no longer able to function easily in regular society. People were so scared of him, but he wasn't a bad person. Luckily Carly was able to see past the appearance and see someone worth helping. The illustrations in this book were also fantastic. Each one really helped to contribute to the realness of the story. I thought this was a fantastic book, and I think boys and girls will enjoy it equally. This is a book that will entertain and delight.

Book provided for review.

Be sure to check out all the stops on the tour (a full list can be 

found here). Thanks so much for stopping by!