Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Spotlight/Giveaway: The Romanov Empress by C.W. Gortner

Originally I was to post my review of C.W. Gortner's new book, but unfortunately life has gotten in the way.  So instead here is a spotlight and giveaway.

Publication Date: July 10, 2018
Ballantine Books
Hardcover; 448 pages
Genre: Historical Fiction

Even from behind the throne, a woman can rule.

 Narrated by the mother of Russia’s last tsar, this vivid, historically authentic novel brings to life the courageous story of Maria Feodorovna, one of Imperial Russia’s most compelling women, who witnessed the splendor and tragic downfall of the Romanovs as she fought to save her dynasty in the final years of its long reign.

 Barely nineteen, Minnie knows that her station in life as a Danish princess is to leave her family and enter into a royal marriage—as her older sister Alix has done, moving to England to wed Queen Victoria’s eldest son. The winds of fortune bring Minnie to Russia, where she marries the Romanov heir and becomes empress once he ascends the throne. When resistance to her husband’s reign strikes at the heart of her family and the tsar sets out to crush all who oppose him, Minnie—now called Maria—must tread a perilous path of compromise in a country she has come to love.

 Her husband’s death leaves their son Nicholas II as the inexperienced ruler of a deeply divided and crumbling empire. Determined to guide him to reforms that will bring Russia into the modern age, Maria faces implacable opposition from Nicholas’s strong-willed wife, Alexandra, whose fervor has lead her into a disturbing relationship with a mystic named Rasputin. As the unstoppable wave of revolution rises anew to engulf Russia, Maria will face her most dangerous challenge and her greatest heartache.

 From the opulent palaces of St. Petersburg and the intrigue-laced salons of the aristocracy to the World War I battlefields and the bloodied countryside occupied by the Bolsheviks, C. W. Gortner sweeps us into the anarchic fall of an empire and the complex, bold heart of the woman who tried to save it.

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | IndieBound

Praise for The Romanov Empress

"Gortner’s mesmerizing historical novel (following The Vatican Princess) depicts the remarkable life of the mother of the last Russian tsar. This insightful first-person account of the downfall of the Romanov rule will appeal to history buffs; at its core, it’s the powerful story of a mother trying to save her family and an aristocrat fighting to maintain rule in a country of rebellion, giving it an even broader appeal." —Publishers Weekly

 “A sweeping saga that takes us from the opulence and glamor of Tsarist Russia to the violent, tragic last days of the Romanovs. C. W. Gortner breaks new ground here, skillfully painting an intimate, compelling portrait of this fascinating empress and her family.” —Stephanie Dray, New York Times bestselling author of America’s First Daughter

 “The Romanov Empress has all the glitter and mystery of a Faberge egg, the outer decadence and beauty of Imperial Russia unfolding to reveal the mysteries and horrors within. The waning days of a doomed dynasty are recounted by the vivacious but tough Danish princess who would become one of Russia's most revered tsarinas, only to see her line end in war and revolution. Gortner pens a beautiful tribute to a lost world, weaving a tale sumptuous as a Russian sable.” —Kate Quinn, New York Times bestselling author of The Alice Network

“A vivid, engaging tale of Tsarina Maria Feodorovna, the mother of Russia's last Tsar, her loves and her heartbreaks, bringing the troubled final decades of the Russian Empire to life.” —Eva Stachniak, author of The Winter Palace

About the Author

C. W. Gortner holds an MFA in writing, with an emphasis on historical studies, from the New College of California. He is the internationally acclaimed and bestselling author of Mademoiselle Chanel, The Queen’s Vow, The Confessions of Catherine de Medici, The Last Queen, The Vatican Princess, and Marlene, among other books. He divides his time between Northern California and Antigua, Guatemala.

 To learn more about his work and to schedule a book group chat with him, please visit his website.

You can also find him on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Goodreads.

Blog Tour Schedule

Tuesday, July 10
Review & Interview at Clarissa Reads it All
Feature at Passages to the Past
Wednesday, July 11
Review at Just One More Chapter
Thursday, July 12
Review at A Bookish Affair
Friday, July 13
Feature at Bookfever
Monday, July 16
Review at 100 Pages a Day
Tuesday, July 17
Review at Pursuing Stacie
Wednesday, July 18
Review at Creating Herstory
Feature at So Many Books, So Little Time
Thursday, July 19
Review at The Lit Bitch
Friday, July 20
Review at Bri's Book Nook
Monday, July 23
Review at Books and Glamour
Tuesday, July 24
Review at Dressed to Read
Wednesday, July 25
Review at History From a Woman's Perspective
Thursday, July 26
Review at Donna's Book Blog
Friday, July 27
Review at Historical Fiction with Spirit
Monday, July 30
Review at Ageless Pages Reviews
Tuesday, July 31
Review at Oh, for the Hook of a Book!
Wednesday, August 1
Feature at Let Them Read Books
Thursday, August 2
Review at Curling Up By the Fire
Friday, August 3
Review at Broken Teepee
Monday, August 6
Review at A Book Geek
Tuesday, August 7
Review at What Cathy Read Next
Thursday, August 9
Review at Caryn, the Book Whisperer
Friday, August 10
Review at Two Gals and a Book


During the Blog Tour we will be giving away a copy of The Romanov Empress to one lucky reader! To enter, please enter via the Gleam form below. Giveaway Rules – Giveaway ends at 11:59pm EST on August 10th. You must be 18 or older to enter. – Giveaway is open to US residents only. – Only one entry per household. – All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspect of fraud is decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion. – Winner has 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen. Romanov Empress

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Excerpt: The Secret Life of Mrs. London by Rebecca Rosenberg

Today I am happy to share an excerpt from The Secret Life of Mrs. London by Rebecca Rosenberg (clicking on title will take you to my review)

 Beauty ranCh, Glen ellen, California SeptemBer 1915

For her I accomplished Odysseys, scaled mountains, crossed deserts; for her I led the hunt and was forward in battle; and for her and to her I sang my songs of the things I had done. All ecstasies of life and rhapsodies of delight have been mine because of her. And here, at the end, I can say that I have known no sweeter, deeper madness of being than to drown in the fragrant glory and forgetfulness of her hair.
                                                —Jack London, The Star Rover

 Nothing breathes vigor into a marriage like a boxing match. And it helps to have a stupefied audience to witness the fight. If I can get Jack boxing this morning, with his drinking buddies cheering him on, he’ll be revved up for a good writing session followed by a “grand lolly” that will linger in our loins for days. So I pull on muslin bloomers and leather boxing boots from my wardrobe, twist my hair into a topknot, daub on lavender oil for luck. Our fox terrier raises his head from my bed, ears perked. I stroke his chest and lift him down, his little heart beating in my palm. “Come on, Possum, he can’t say no to you.”

 Slinging boy-sized boxing gloves over my neck, I cross the hallway to Jack’s own sleeping porch, where he sleeps it off after our houseguests plied him with martinis at the Glen Ellen saloon until the wee hours. Possum romps at my heels. Jack still reeks of gin, and his snoring drowns out the jeering blue jays.

“Rise and shine.” I whisk off the plaid blanket, exposing fine muscled legs in red flannel shorts.

Jack’s not moving. So I lift Possum up and let him lick Jack’s face. “Time for our match.”

“Charmian, no. It can’t be morning.” He pulls a feather pillow over his head, and Possum nuzzles underneath.

 “Oh, but it is.” I throw the pillow to the floor, and Possum laps at his cheeks.

 “And a deal is a deal.” Jack groans and lifts up onto one elbow, holding the dog off with his other hand. “I can’t do this after last night.”

 “You can. I know you can.” I take Possum in my arms. Jack’s valet, Nakata, enters with a cup of coffee balanced on his upturned palm, dressed as usual in a haori jacket and skirted trousers. “Kishi kaisei, Mr. Jack.”

Jack sits up and takes the coffee. “My head’s too fuzzy for Japanese this morning.”

 Nakata smiles with teeth straight as piano keys. “Wake from death and return to life.”

Jack grimaces. “That supposed to make me feel better?” Nakata bows and leaves, Possum following him for breakfast. The Socialists criticize Jack for employing servants, but Nakata is essential to his well-being. He starts Jack’s day with platitudes and strong coffee, grants his wildest wishes, manages our household staff so we can focus on writing, and, in the evening, prepares Jack’s cot with philosophy books and farming journals, small and large writing pads, sharpened pencils, and a thermos of martinis (equal splashes of vermouth and olive juice). Together, Nakata and I handle Jack’s needs, and I pray he will never leave us.

I lace on Jack’s boxing boots while he slurps his coffee, his ankles swollen. Drinking always kicks up his gout. “I was kidding about the boxing,” he says. “A joke for the Crowd . . .” His nickname for the Bohemian-Socialist-literary folks who worship at his feet. Come to think of it, that’s exactly where I happen to be at the moment.

 “Oh no. You’re not getting away with it this time.” I knot his laces tighter. “‘Bring me the boxing gloves if I’m not up by eight,’ you said.

 ‘Best thing in the world for a hangover,’ you said. ‘We’ll do the drop-and-grind drill,’ you said.” Jack smirks. “I love it when you talk dirty.”

 “Come on, champ. Let’s give it a go. Our audience awaits.” I hoist his arm over my shoulders, staggering under the weight he’s gained of late.

He limps to the back door.

Nakata and some of the staff have gathered to watch on the back stoop between our separate sleeping porches, Jack’s remedy for my chronic insomnia and his late hours.

 In an apron and calico dress, Jack’s sister, Eliza, washes the windowpanes, doughy underarm flesh swinging with each swipe of her dish towel. “Boxing is no good for Jack.” She clucks her tongue at me. “Just brings out the poison in his system all over again.”

 “Better out than in,” I answer. Lawrence Godfrey-Smith, the Australian concert pianist turned eucalyptus broker, and George Sterling, poet king of the Bohemians, follow us out to the porch with coffee mugs.

“What’s all the ballyhoo?” Lawrence nudges me in the overfamiliar way he’s adopted since that time on the beach in Australia . . .

 I step down to the garden. “Don’t you remember Jack’s promise when you stumbled in last night? He wanted to box this morning to get his blood flowing for writing.”

“Who’s he going to wallop?”

I thrust up my gloved hand. “Me, of course.” Lawrence turns to Sterling. “Do all American couples fight?”

 “Of course,” Sterling says, stroking his goatee. “They just don’t usually wear gloves.”

 It’s nine o’clock already, and the sun just cleared the top of the redwoods, illuminating the garden like an arena. Our boots crush the creeping thyme, melding with the herbaceous smell of ripening chardonnay grapes.

 Jack bounces forward on his left foot, then weaves back, shifting his weight to the right, then back again. Red shorts hug his waist and skim his well-built thighs. He looks fitter than he is, from a past regimen of boxing, swimming, horseback riding. It’s not fair how men look better than us as they age. Not fair at all.

“Come on, pretty boy.” I hold my fists up in front of my face. “Let’s see what you’re made of.”

“The legs of a Roman goddess.” Sterling whistles.

 “Mind your p’s and q’s, Greek,” Jack says. “Those are my wife’s gams you’re looking at.” He throws the first punch, which lands square to my glove.

 “I’m talking about your legs, Wolf.” Sterling combs long fingernails through his goatee, making my skin crawl. The disheveled poet could use a comb and nail scissors . . . and a bath, come to think of it.

Jack camps a pose and spins his white satin boxing sash around like Jack Johnson at the world championship.

 After I take a playful poke at his ribs to get his attention, suddenly he’s jumping around me like Possum dancing for a scrap of meat.

 For a while, Jack and I practice our drill, throwing rhythmic punches, gaining confidence and speed. We must look hilarious with Jack so much taller and broader and me, his “small woman,” holding my own.

“Hey, Wolf,” Lawrence says. “If you win, I’ll take a hundred dollars off your eucalyptus starts.”

Jack thumbs his nose in jest, though I know it eats at him to owe Lawrence for the seedlings, with no way to pay yet. Our Aussie friend convinced Jack eucalyptus would make him a fortune, but the seedlings have only added to our growing debt.

A mighty punch whizzes past me. Jack huffs and rolls his eyes. “You’ve got the advantage today, Mate-Woman. I have the willies.”

“Excuses, excuses.” I make a right jab at his chest, and he takes it, his shoulder swinging back. Abdomen, chest, or shoulders are fair game, but anything below Jack’s belt isn’t allowed— his kidneys and liver have taken all the abuse they can handle.

Eliza shoos the staff inside. “Don’t you people have work to do this morning? The ranch doesn’t run itself.” Her nostrils flare at me. “Though some folks seem to think so.”

 Nine years married to her brother, and Eliza still sees me as a nuisance to endure.

 “Stay in the match or I’ll knock your block off.” Jack takes a swipe. We go at it for another quarter hour. Jack’s chest swells out, his breath labors. I prance and punch to give him a fight, but not too much to tire him out or bruise his ego.

 Lawrence watches my antics with palpable pleasure, which Jack pretends not to notice. Now for the tricky part, how to end this thing. In an effort to go down fighting, I swing in the air, but my glove catches his jaw. I lose my footing and fall on the flagstones, hitting my tailbone with a searing pain. Lawrence runs and lifts me up. “Are you all right?” Jack asks, blood trickling from his mouth onto his chin.

“You won. You won, Wolf.” Sterling claps long hands together in mockery. “You beat the stuffing out of the little lady.”

 “Did I hurt you, Lady-Boy?” Jack holds his jaw, jiggles it side to side.

Breaking free of Lawrence’s grasp, I run to wipe the blood from Jack’s chin with my shirttail. “Now if you’ll excuse us, gentlemen, we have a novel to write.” Jack’s golden rule: write a thousand words a day. And my job is to keep him to it.

I take Jack’s hand and pull him up the steps, feeling Lawrence’s eyes on my backside, tingling despite my good intentions. Damn eucalyptus. Damn blue-eyed, blond Aussies.

 “I feel like a new man.” Jack pats my rear and makes me jump. “You know just what I need, don’t you, Mate?”

“What you need is a shower.” I hold open the screen door. “After we finish the story, we’ll figure out what else you need.”

Saturday, July 7, 2018

Review: A Court of Thorns and Roses (A Court of Thorns and Roses #1) by Sarah J. Maas

Feyre's survival rests upon her ability to hunt and kill – the forest where she lives is a cold, bleak place in the long winter months. So when she spots a deer in the forest being pursued by a wolf, she cannot resist fighting it for the flesh. But to do so, she must kill the predator and killing something so precious comes at a price ...

Dragged to a magical kingdom for the murder of a faerie, Feyre discovers that her captor, his face obscured by a jewelled mask, is hiding far more than his piercing green eyes would suggest. Feyre's presence at the court is closely guarded, and as she begins to learn why, her feelings for him turn from hostility to passion and the faerie lands become an even more dangerous place. Feyre must fight to break an ancient curse, or she will lose him forever.

Paperback, 416 pages
 Published May 5th 2015
by Bloomsbury USA Childrens

This year I am challenging myself in many areas, with my reading I am stepping out of my comfort zone with genres I usually steer away from. YA fantasy is one such genre. When a reader friend raved about this series I knew it was where to start.

Feyre is a teen who supports her family or make that takes care of them, they fell from the high life and must fend for themselves. It’s a mistake that changes everything for Feyre. It’s a world divided between human and almost fairy talish (I think I made that word up). Some aspects reminded me of Beauty and the Beast.

I surprised myself by how much I enjoyed this book. The characters were likeable, though I didn’t always like them. The plot complex and intriguing. I was right in the setting with all the mystical and fantasy elements.

Yea I will continue with this series, maybe not right away, the next book A Court of Mist and Fury comes in at 626 pages (over 200 pages more then Thorns and Roses).

Book from my personal library and part of my Read TBR challenge.

Friday, July 6, 2018

Excerpt: The Last Rodeo by Delores Fossen

The most important two words for this Wrangler’s Creek rodeo cowboy? I do...

 Lucian Granger isn’t winning any Mr. Cowboy Congeniality awards. Known in his small Texas town as “Lucifer” thanks to his surly nature and knack for scaring people away from getting too close, the handsome rancher has no trouble ignoring the gossip. But when he’s in danger of losing the land he’s put his blood, sweat and tears into maintaining, Lucian sets out to prove he’s a changed man—by claiming he’s about to settle down with his invaluable assistant, Karlee O’Malley.

 Their pending nuptials may be just for show, but from the moment they kiss, the proverbial fireworks start going off in his head—and in his heart. Before long, the man who’s usually as emotional as a brick wall is tired of pretending and wants to share a real future with Karlee. With his world suddenly turned upside down, Lucian will risk losing the business and the ranch if it means holding on to the one woman worth becoming a better man for.

Kindle Edition, 400 pages
 Published June 26th 2018 
by HQN Books


All of his relationships soured.

Especially the one that had mattered most.

She examined his shoulder, and then looked up at him with those Irish-green eyes that could be either warm or cool depending on the situation. Right now, they were on the chillier end of the spectrum because she likely didn’t approve of the shoulder injury or how he was about to ask her to handle it.

“No hospital?” She didn’t wait for an answer because she knew it would be no. She huffed at his unspoken no. “This is risky, you know? Just because I did this for you once before and for my brothers too many times to count, it doesn’t mean it’s a smart thing. You need to see a doctor.”

“Just pop it back in,” Lucian growled.

Her eyes went from plain ordinary chill to an Arctic frost. Karlee frosted and frowned at him a few more seconds while she debated what to do.

“Hold him,” she said to Dylan, and Dylan hooked his arms around Lucian’s chest and waist. “What’s your safe word?” she asked, turning back to Lucian. “The one you use when you’re playing rough with your sweet things?”

What the hell did that have to do with this? But Lucian only managed to get out the “what” part of that before Karlee gave his arm a hard push, moving the shoulder back in place.

And causing him to curse every single word of pro­fanity in his entire vocabulary. He added some new ones, too, though they came out so garbled that it was like cuss stew.

Once he got past the eye-watering, excruciating pain, Lucian realized the reason Karlee had asked about the safe word was to distract him. It had worked, and his shoulder was already starting to feel a little better. The sharp stabbing was now more like a sharp toothache.

“All fixed up now?” Dylan asked him. “I think you just wanted to feel a woman’s touch.” He didn’t wait around for Lucian to glare at him for that bad joke. Dylan gave them a wave and headed for the barn where he’d likely been going when he saw Lucian take the throw from the gelding.

Lucian tried to put his shirt back on, but after a cou­ple of grunts from pain, Karlee helped with that, too, and then they started back toward the house. She also took hold of his wrist.

“No, I’m not giving you more of a woman’s touch. I’m checking your pulse in case what I just did ruptured a blood vessel,” she let him know. “If that happened, your pulse rate will change.”

Lucian figured she knew how to do that because she’d practically raised her three younger brothers. Being a big sister seemed to give her a special set of expertise like doctoring duties, ESP and a built-in lie de­tector. Those things were far superior to his big-brother talents.

As a big brother, he knew how to come up with bail money when needed. That was about it. Of course, being the oldest had also gotten him the title of head honcho/boss for Granger Enterprises after his parents had divorced and moved away from Wrangler’s Creek. That boss label included not only the ranch but the busi­nesses, as well.

So yeah, there was that.

Purchase Links 

USA Today bestselling author, Delores Fossen, has sold over 70 novels with millions of copies of her books in print worldwide. She’s received the Booksellers’ Best Award, the Romantic Times Reviewers’ Choice Award and was a finalist for the prestigious Rita ®. 

In addition, she’s had nearly a hundred short stories and articles published in national magazines.

 Connect with Delores 
Website | Facebook | Twitter

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Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Audio Review: The Outsider by Stephen King

An unspeakable crime. A confounding investigation. At a time when the King brand has never been stronger, he has delivered one of his most unsettling and compulsively readable stories. 

An eleven-year-old boy’s violated corpse is found in a town park. Eyewitnesses and fingerprints point unmistakably to one of Flint City’s most popular citizens. He is Terry Maitland, Little League coach, English teacher, husband, and father of two girls. Detective Ralph Anderson, whose son Maitland once coached, orders a quick and very public arrest. Maitland has an alibi, but Anderson and the district attorney soon add DNA evidence to go with the fingerprints and witnesses. Their case seems ironclad.

 As the investigation expands and horrifying answers begin to emerge, King’s propulsive story kicks into high gear, generating strong tension and almost unbearable suspense. Terry Maitland seems like a nice guy, but is he wearing another face? When the answer comes, it will shock you as only Stephen King can.

 Audiobook, unabridged/eAudiobook,
18 hours plus
 Published May 22nd 2018 by Simon Schuster Audio

I jumped at the chance to listen to this one in audio format when I realized Will Patton was the reader. He was also the reader for the Mr. Mercedes trilogy and he did a great job. I’ve heard other readers mention this so I will also remind anyone interested in this book that you should read the Mr Mercedes series first or if you have no intention of reading that series then jump right in (and that's all I'll say about it).

This book comes in at over 18 hours long, equivalent to about 561 pages. The blurb above does a great job outlining what this book is about. I found this to be a easy read even for the amount of pages, the chapters are short and to the point, the characters are authentic, the plot intriguing and the conclusion fitting - even if a little rushed.

Though I found the characters authentic there were a number of them and at times I found myself a little overwhelmed, but that could just be the audio version and my mind not paying close enough attention.

I am not a fan of horror and books that are heavy into supernatural stuff, so I’ve always shied away from Stephen King but I’ve found some of his books appeal to me these days, they have the mystery and suspense I enjoy.

Though I recommend The Outsider be warned that there are some graphic crime scene parts and hard to read.

Audiobook through Scribd

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Review: Three Days Missing by Kimberly Belle

When a child goes missing, two mothers’ lives collide in a shocking way in this suspenseful novel from the bestselling author of The Marriage Lie .

 It’s every parent’s worst nightmare: the call that comes in the middle of the night.

 When Kat Jenkins awakens to the police on her doorstep, her greatest fear is realized. Her nine-year-old son, Ethan, is missing—vanished from the cabin where he’d been on an overnight field trip with his class. Shocked and distraught, Kat rushes to the campground where he was last seen. But she’s too late; the authorities have returned from their search empty-handed after losing Ethan’s trail in the mountain forest.

 Another mother from the school, Stef Huntington, seems like she has it all: money, prominence in the community, a popular son and a loving husband. She hardly knows Kat, except for the vicious gossip that swirls around Kat’s traumatic past. But as the police investigation unfolds, Ethan’s disappearance will have earth-shattering consequences in Stef’s own life—and the paths of these two mothers are about to cross in ways no one could have anticipated.

 Racing against the clock, their desperate search for answers begins—one where the greatest danger could lie behind the everyday smiles of those they trust the most.

Kindle Edition, 352 pages
Expected publication: July 1st 2018 by Park Row
(first published June 26th 2018)

I have been a fan of Kimberly Belle since her debut (see covers at end of post). Three Days Missing is her 4th novel and I loved it, read it in less then 3 days.

It’s every parents worst nightmare, especially when your child is in the care of those you trust. But when your fears are realized and it happens, you are pitted with total helplessness of not being able to fix it. This fast paced book is told from the POV of 2 women, women from different walks of life and how the story’s mesh is very interesting. It is one of those ‘just one more chapter’ books. Never a dull moment with twists and turns I didn’t see coming.

One of the things I love about Kimberly Belle’s books is that the story truly doesn’t end till the very last page, this one was perfect (yet again).

Three Days Missing has many layers, it’s more than a missing child, but I really can’t say what exactly and spoil the ride for someone else. Suffice to say, read this one, I highly recommend.

My thanks to Park Row for an advanced copy of this book in exchange for honest review.

 click on cover to take you to my review

Sunday, June 24, 2018

Review: Chasing the Wind by C.C. Humphreys

Smuggler. Smoker. Aviatrix. Thief. The dynamic Roxy Loewen is all these things and more, in this riveting and gorgeous historical fiction novel for readers of Paula McLain, Roberta Rich, Kate Morton and Jacqueline Winspear.

 You should never fall in love with a flyer. You should only fall in love with flight.

That's what Roxy Loewen always thought, until she falls for fellow pilot Jocco Zomack as they run guns into Ethiopia. Jocco may be a godless commie, but his father is a leading art dealer and he's found the original of Bruegel's famous painting, the Fall of Icarus. The trouble is, it's in Spain, a country slipping fast into civil war. The money's better than good--if Roxy can just get the painting to Berlin and back out again before Reichsmarshall Hermann Göring and his Nazi pals get their hands on it . . .

But this is 1936, and Hitler's Olympics are in full swing. Not only that, but Göring has teamed up with Roxy's greatest enemy: Sydney Munroe, an American billionaire responsible for the death of her beloved dad seven years before. When the Nazis steal the painting, Roxy and Jocco decide that they are just going to have to steal it back.

What happens when Icarus flies too close to the sun? Roxy is going to find out. From African skies to a cellar in Madrid, from the shadow cast by the swastika to the world above the clouds on the Hindenburg's last voyage, in the end Roxy will have just two choices left--but only one bullet.

Publication Date: June 5, 2018
Paperback & eBook; 320 Pages
Genre: Historical/Women's Fiction/Mystery

I have never read any of C.C. Humphreys books previous to Chasing the Wind though it's not from lack of desire, I have a number sitting in my TBR pile patiently waiting. Those books take place in the 16th to 18th century and with Chasing the Wind the author has jumped to the 1930s in his latest.

Chasing the Wind is about a young woman named Roxy, I liked Roxy right away and found her to be an adventurous, spontaneous and rather unique pilot. She takes risks is compassionate and has a knack for getting into tight situations. This is the 1930’s between the Great Depression and the rise of Hitler, Germany is a beehive of activity, as is Spain and flying over the Atlantic.

The author kept me engaged with an interesting plot against the backdrop of real historical events with the appearances of well known figures. Humphrey’s knowledge of the time period is evident.

Chasing the Wind is a story full of adventure, suspicion, love and loss that actually had me feeling sorry for the bad guys (takes a special kinda author that can do that).  Definitely happy to have read this one and will confess that Vlad and Plague are sitting next in line to read.

My thanks to Amy at HFVBT for the invite to be part of this tour.

Readers Outside Canada: Amazon US

For Canadian readers: Amazon Canada | Chapters-Indigo | iBooks

Chris (C.C.) Humphreys was born in Toronto, lived till he was seven in Los Angeles, then grew up in the UK. All four grandparents were actors, and since his father was an actor as well, it was inevitable he would follow the bloodline. Chris has performed on stages from London’s West End to Hollywood in roles including Hamlet, Caleb the gladiator in NBC's AD-Anno Domini', Clive Parnell in ‘Coronation Street’, PC Richard Turnham in 'The Bill', the Immortal Graham Ashe in ‘Highlander’, Jack Absolute in 'The Rivals' (This performance led to him writing the Jack Absolute novels – and they say acting doesn’t pay!). Bizarrely, he was also the voice of Salem the cat in ‘Sabrina the Teenage Witch’.

 A playwright, fight choreographer and novelist, he has written eleven adult novels including ‘The French Executioner’, runner up for the CWA Steel Dagger for Thrillers; ‘The Jack Absolute Trilogy’; ‘A Place Called Armageddon’; ‘Shakespeare’s Rebel’ and the international bestseller, ‘Vlad – The Last Confession’. He also writes for young adults, with a trilogy called The Runestone Saga and ‘The Hunt of the Unicorn’. The sequel, ‘The Hunt of the Dragon’, was published Fall 2016. His recent novel ‘Plague’ won Canada’s Arthur Ellis Award for Best Crime Novel in 2015. The sequel, ‘Fire’ is a thriller set during the Great Fire, published Summer 2016. Both novels spent five weeks in the top ten on 2016’s Globe and Mail and Toronto Star Bestseller lists.

 His new novel is ‘Chasing the Wind’ about 1930’s aviatrix – and thief! – Roxy Loewen, will be published in Canada and the USA in June 2018. Several of his novels are available as Audiobooks - read by himself! Find him here at Audible.

 He is translated into thirteen languages. In 2015 he earned his Masters in Fine Arts (Creative Writing) from the University of British Columbia. Chris now lives on Salt Spring Island, BC, Canada, with his wife, son and cat, Dickon (who keeps making it into his books!).

 For more information, please visit C.C. Humphrey's website.

You can also find him on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.

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Friday, June 22, 2018

Spotlight: Half Moon Bay by Alice LaPlante

Hardcover, 272 pages
 Expected publication: July 10th 2018
 by Scribner

A smart, haunting tale of psychological suspense from the award-winning New York Times bestselling author of Turn of Mind.

 Jane loses everything when her teenage daughter is killed in a senseless accident. Jane is devastated, but sometime later, she makes one tiny stab at a new life: she moves from San Francisco to the tiny seaside town of Half Moon Bay. She is inconsolable, and yet, as the months go by, she is able to cobble together some version of a job, of friends, of the possibility of peace.

 And then, children begin to disappear. And soon, Jane sees her own pain reflected in all the parents in the town. She wonders if she will be able to live through the aching loss, the fear all around her. But as the disappearances continue, she begins to see that what her neighbors are wondering is if it is Jane herself who has unleashed the horror of loss.

 Half Moon Bay is a chilling story about a mother haunted by her past. As Stewart O’Nan said about Turn of Mind—this novel “blindfolds the reader and spins her around.”

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Review: The Hazel Wood (The Hazel Wood #1) by Melissa Albert

Seventeen-year-old Alice and her mother have spent most of Alice’s life on the road, always a step ahead of the uncanny bad luck biting at their heels. But when Alice’s grandmother, the reclusive author of a cult-classic book of pitch-dark fairy tales, dies alone on her estate, the Hazel Wood, Alice learns how bad her luck can really get: her mother is stolen away―by a figure who claims to come from the Hinterland, the cruel supernatural world where her grandmother's stories are set. Alice's only lead is the message her mother left behind: “Stay away from the Hazel Wood.”

 Alice has long steered clear of her grandmother’s cultish fans. But now she has no choice but to ally with classmate Ellery Finch, a Hinterland superfan who may have his own reasons for wanting to help her. To retrieve her mother, Alice must venture first to the Hazel Wood, then into the world where her grandmother's tales began―and where she might find out how her own story went so wrong.

 Hardcover, 368 pages
Published January 30th 2018
by Flatiron Books

When I saw this book’s heavy presence on Instagram I caved to peer pressure, especially when I read the blurb. A book about fairy tales, the recluse and mysterious author and a place called Hinterland. The cover kinda clinched the deal.

This book grabbed me right away, with its lyrical telling I settled in for this adventure. The pacing was great, the characters likable (well sort of) and the story intriguing. But then I hit the half way point and bam! The writing changed, it was almost like another writer took over and everything changed. My interest weaned and disappointment took over when I lost interest in this story.
All of a sudden there were many new characters and a different vibe.

I realize that I am going against the flow and most loved it, I really wanted to and sadly I am not sure I will continue with this series.

Originally I was leaning at 2 stars but bumped up to 3 for the awesome beginning.

Monday, June 18, 2018

Review/Giveaway: The Underground River by Martha Conway

Set aboard a nineteenth century riverboat theater, this is the moving, page-turning story of a charmingly frank and naive seamstress who is blackmailed into saving runaways on the Underground Railroad, jeopardizing her freedom, her livelihood, and a new love. 

It’s 1838, and May Bedloe works as a seamstress for her cousin, the famous actress Comfort Vertue—until their steamboat sinks on the Ohio River. Though they both survive, both must find new employment. Comfort is hired to give lectures by noted abolitionist, Flora Howard, and May finds work on a small flatboat, Hugo and Helena’s Floating Theatre, as it cruises the border between the northern states and the southern slave-holding states.

May becomes indispensable to Hugo and his troupe, and all goes well until she sees her cousin again. Comfort and Mrs. Howard are also traveling down the Ohio River, speaking out against slavery at the many riverside towns. May owes Mrs. Howard a debt she cannot repay, and Mrs. Howard uses the opportunity to enlist May in her network of shadowy characters who ferry babies given up by their slave mothers across the river to freedom. Lying has never come easy to May, but now she is compelled to break the law, deceive all her new-found friends, and deflect the rising suspicions of Dr. Early who captures runaways and sells them back to their southern masters. 

As May’s secrets become more tangled and harder to keep, the Floating Theatre readies for its biggest performance yet. May’s predicament could mean doom for all her friends on board, including her beloved Hugo, unless she can figure out a way to trap those who know her best.

Publication Date: June 20, 2017
Hardcover, eBook, AudioBook
Genre: Historical Fiction


It’s 1838 when The Underground River begins and Mary tells her story. It’s also 10 years before the Civil War begins where the Ohio River is the boundary separating free blacks from those not.

Martha Conway has definitely done her homework and was able to place me right there, I could visual and feel the tension that existed between the north and south. The feel of the landscape was clear as well as the way of life. I knew nothing about River Theatres and I found that aspect quite interesting.

It isn’t until the last half of the book where most of the action takes place that is described in the synopsis above.  I kinda wish that started a little sooner and went on longer to really show this part of history.  I'm sure there are more people like me that have heard of the underground railway but never the river being used as paths to freedom.

Again the author definitely knows her history and I'll be checking out her other books.

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | IndieBound | Books-a-Million | Powell’s

Martha Conway grew up in Cleveland, Ohio, the sixth of seven daughters. Her first novel was nominated for an Edgar Award, and she has won several awards for her historical fiction, including an Independent Book Publishers Award and the North American Book Award for Historical Fiction. Her short fiction has been published in the Iowa Review, Massachusetts Review, Carolina Quarterly, Folio, Epoch, The Quarterly, and other journals. She has received a California Arts Council Fellowship for Creative Writing, and has reviewed books for the Iowa Review and the San Francisco Chronicle. She now lives in San Francisco, and is an instructor of creative writing for Stanford University’s Continuing Studies Program and UC Berkeley Extension. She is the author of The Underground River.

For more information, please visit Martha Conway's website.

You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Goodreads.

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During the Blog Tour we will be giving away 5 custom-made coffee mugs!

To enter, please enter via the Gleam form below.
– Giveaway ends at 11:59pm EST on July 26th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
– Giveaway is open to US residents only.
– Only one entry per household.
– Winner has 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen

The Underground River