Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Guest Post by Jennifer Wilck - The Seduction of Esther

Title: The Seduction of Esther

Author: Jennifer Wilck

Release date:

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Book Description:
Samara Goldberg has a problem even the most beautiful singing voice can’t fix. She’s a walking disaster, especially when she’s around handsome men. To make matters worse, she’s in desperate need of someone to play the character of Mordecai for the Purim spiel she’s producing and the new congregant, Nathaniel Abramson, is a perfect fit. Nathaniel is a divorced dad who’s recovering from the biggest public scandal of his life. The last thing he needs is a relationship with the choir director at his new synagogue, who also happens to be playing the lead female role of Esther in the very play he’s been coerced into joining.
Woven around the Jewish holiday of Purim, The Seduction of Esther is a story of two people whose lives mirror the plot of the Purim story. Like Esther, who had to hide her Jewish identity from the King of Persia, Samara and Nathaniel are hiding key pieces of themselves. Evil Haman wanted to destroy the Jews, and the nasty Josh will do anything to keep Samara and Nathaniel apart. Will their love survive, like the Jewish people in Shushan, Persia, or will their fear keep them apart?


Guest Post

The Seduction of Esther is the first book in my Women of Valor series. What makes this series unique is that while the books are contemporary romance, they all incorporate Jewish themes and holidays into their stories.
The Seduction of Esther revolves around the holiday of Purim, which is a joyous holiday that takes place in the early spring. It celebrates the saving of the Jews of Persia and we dress up, eat and drink.
One of the major themes of Purim is hiding one’s identity. The heroine in the Purim story, Esther, pretends she’s not Jewish in order to catch the attention of the King, marry him, trap the villainous Haman and ultimately save the Jews. Talk about a great story! And hiding one’s identity provides a great conflict for a romance novel.
While not all of my books incorporate Jewish themes, I began writing this series to fill a need that I saw in romance—diverse heroes and heroines. Most books are inherently Christian. The hero and heroine get married in a church. The holiday they celebrate together where they meet each other’s families is Christmas. Before the Thanksgiving meal, everyone says grace.
I love reading these books and the warmth conveyed spills over to me. I have no problem with books that incorporate religions other than my own. But I do think that diversity is important, and occasionally, I think it would be nice to see examples of other religions. That’s why I wrote this series.
Diverse characters in romance add an additional layer of texture to the story. They incorporate an added richness to our characters. And they help people recognize themselves in the story. Sure, romance novels provide an escape from our every day reality. But they also allow us to recognize the best of ourselves in the characters. Not every reader is the same and not every hero and heroine should be the same either.
I hope you enjoy it!

About the Author:

When I was a little girl and couldn’t fall asleep, my mother would tell me to make up a story. Pretty soon, my head was filled with these stories and the characters that populated them. Each character had a specific personality, a list of likes and dislikes, and sometimes, even a specific accent or dialect. Even as an adult, I think about the characters and stories at night before I fall asleep, or in the car on my way to or from one of my daughters’ numerous activities (hey, anything that will drown out their music is a good thing).
One day, I started writing them down (it was either that or checking into the local mental hospital—the computer was way less scary) and five years later, I’ve gotten two book contracts from Whiskey Creek Press. A Heart of Little Faith came out in June; Skin Deep is coming out in November.
In the real world, I’m the mother of two amazing daughters and wife of one of the smartest men I know. I enjoy spending time with my family and friends, reading, traveling and watching TV. In between chauffeuring my daughters to after-school activities that require an Excel spreadsheet to be kept straight, I serve on our Temple Board, train the dog we adopted from a local shelter, and cook dinners that fit the needs of four very different appetites. I also write freelance articles for magazines, newspapers, and edit newsletters.
When all of that gets overwhelming, I retreat to my computer, where I write stories that let me escape from reality. In my made-up world, the heroines are always smart, sassy and independent. The heroes are handsome and strong with just a touch of vulnerability. If I don’t like a character, I can delete him or her; if something doesn’t work, I can rewrite it. It’s very satisfying to be in control of at least one part of my life. My inspiration comes from watching the people around me and fantasizing about how I’d do things differently.

Official Website: 

Monday, August 10, 2015

Review - Red Queen (Red Queen 01) by Victoria Aveyard

Title: Red Queen (Red Queen 01) by Victoria Aveyard
Publisher: Orion
Publication Date: February 10th, 2015
Paperback/Hardcover: 2382
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
Find it atGoodreads / Bookdepository

The poverty stricken Reds are commoners, living under the rule of the Silvers, elite warriors with god-like powers.
To Mare Barrow, a 17-year-old Red girl from The Stilts, it looks like nothing will ever change.
Mare finds herself working in the Silver Palace, at the centre of
those she hates the most. She quickly discovers that, despite her red blood, she possesses a deadly power of her own. One that threatens to destroy Silver control.
But power is a dangerous game. And in this world divided by blood, who will win?

There was a lot of hype surrounding this book when it first came out so I was excited and curious to read it. Gladly, the book did not disappoint me.
Mare is Red girl living in a world ruled by Silvers. She knows she’s supposed to join the war raging on once she turns 18 and has accepted her fate until a series of unexpected events thrust her into the middle of the Silver court. As a new and mysterious group rises to fight against the Silver rule Mare has to decide what course of action to take while trying to keep the ones she loves safe.
Mare is definitely a good main character. She’s strong and determined and willing to do whatever is needed to survive and keep her family and friends alive and safe. She’s thrown into a difficult situation and her decisions might not always be the best but I think that, in a way, is completely normal given the circumstances and her need to trust someone and not feel so alone.
I must confess I’m not completely sure about Cal yet, though. I did like him in the beginning but then, some of his actions left me wondering about him.  I do think he’s a good character and, hopefully, we’ll learn a lot more about him in the next book.
Evangeline I , of course, hated but I guess that was the point and Maven turned out to be an interesting character as well.
Plotwise, the story developed nicely and at a good pace. I think the author did a great job creating this world divided between Silvers and Reds. The story is full of intrigue, deceit, twists, turns and a little romance.
Although I did figure out some things and people where not what and who they seems to be, some events at the end of the book still surprised me a little.
The book ended in a curious way and I can’t wait to find out what will happen next.
All in all, Red Queen is an entertaining and interesting story that’s well-written and imaginative.
This is a great start to a new series and I can’t wait for the next book! 

Rating: Somewhere between Worth Your Time and Must Read (4 Stars)