Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Spotlight: A Moment Forever (Liberty Victory Series #1) by Cat Gardiner (tour wide giveaway)

02_A Moment Forever
In every footlocker, hope chest, and heart full of secrets there is a story waiting to be discovered and told.

In the summer of 1992, a young writer is bequeathed the abandoned home of a great-uncle she never knew. The house has a romantic history and is unlike any home she has ever seen. Juliana Martel felt as though she stepped into a time capsule—a snapshot of 1942. The epic romance—and heartache—of the former occupant unfold through reading his wartime letters found in the attic, compelling her on a quest to construct the man. His life, as well as his sweetheart’s, during the Second World War were as mysterious as his disappearance in 1950.

Carrying her own pain inflicted by the abandonment of her mother and unexpected death of her father, Juliana embarks on a journalist’s dream to find her great-uncle and the woman he once loved. Enlisting the reluctant assistance of a man whose family is closely related to the secrets, she uncovers the carefully hidden events of her great-uncle's and others' lives - and will ultimately change her own with their discovery.

This story of undying love, born amidst the darkest era in modern history, unfolded on the breathtaking Gold Coast of Long Island in 1942. A Jewish, Army Air Forces pilot and an enchanting society debutante—young lovers—deception—and a moment in time that lasted forever.

A Moment Forever is an evocative journey that will resonate with you long after you close the book. Romance, heartache, and the power of love, atonement, and forgiveness transform lives long after the horrors and scars of the Second World War have ended.

Publication Date: May 28, 2016
Vanity & Pride Press
eBook; 600 Pages
Genre: Historical Romance
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Excerpt

The closed door to the attic appeared innocuous, but like the pleasant personas and expressions many people conveyed, Juliana felt it was a dead giveaway that something terrible hid behind it. She was, after all, an example of that. Her deepest wounds, she believed, were cleverly masked behind her jovial expressions and happy demeanor, but she didn’t realize that the signs were evident in her near anorexic figure.

However, on this late afternoon, she felt open and liberated after surviving the luncheon with her mother. She had bared her inner feelings and animosity then came home to clean the vintage kitchen. Feeling renewed, she went to the grocer around the corner because her white Frigidaire looked as hollow as she had felt these last eleven years. Strangely, she was in the mood to cook a cheeseburger.

From the top of the staircase, Juliana could still hear the record player from the parlor. Melancholy tunes by the Ink Spots and Ella Fitzgerald filled the entire house. She hoped it would carry up into the attic, thinking the soulful music would transport her back to the era and mindset of William when he had last locked the garret.

Yes, it was locked and after an hour of searching the house high and low, she finally found the key inside a small box in one of the dresser drawers. Beside the brass skeleton key sat a gold signet ring with engraving upon the face: propellers and wings surrounded a small diamond at its center. The inscription along the inside of the band read, “With Love, Mom and Dad.”

“Here it goes,” Juliana said before holding her breath and nervously turning the key. She felt on the verge of a full-blown panic attack.

The door creaked like all the others in the house and her heart rate sped up as it had time and again in the course of this home’s unveiling.

Once the door was fully open, she pulled the slender cord hanging against the wall, illuminating the narrow passage by the bare light bulb fixture.

Each step up the steep staircase issued a groan from the hardened planks beneath every footfall of her black Converse sneakers until she stood at the top, fiercely gripping onto the simple banister. She looked around the large, dark room before taking the final step into the unknown, mysterious, and yet-to-be-discovered past of her great-uncle. After working herself up to it for the last two days, Juliana had been expecting something ominous and frightening in the attic, yet instead she felt a sense of peace coupled with sadness. Her thoughts traveled to her father, and her emotions became even more pronounced. Her eyes welled with tears at the morose tranquility the attic emanated.

Essentially, but for a couple of trunks and a few boxes neatly placed upon a shelf, the attic was empty, having lain undisturbed and unfilled since its purchase in December of 1942.

If these walls could talk, they would tell her how William had slid his footlocker under the eave after placing the last of its contents within and how he had waited one full year before doing so. They would tell his grand-niece how he waited until the very last minute to place the newspaper over the windows. Once beige strips of masking tape were now an aged, burnished orange. The empty space staring back at the modern-day interloper represented the very reason for William’s departure.

Although expecting the worst in the attic, she wasn’t prepared for the emptiness. She had imagined cobwebs extending from box to box and odd pieces of furniture and tools that had long outgrown their usefulness. She thought the attic would surely be filled with scary dolls and broken strollers, perhaps a rocking chair or an eerie mirror, maybe even some Dorian Gray-type painting and faded photographs. Expecting an antique cemetery of sorts filled with memories, stories, and voices of the past residents who had once lived at 300 Bradford Road, she was surprised by the vacant space before her.

The startling emptiness of the room confirmed to her that no happy memories had ever been created in this house. The house never became a home, had never filled with children’s laughter or generations of family dating back to its initial construction. No household item ever had the luxury of being used enough to justify its disregard, saving and eventual storing on the third floor. It was clear to Juliana that Primrose Cottage was only a place where William laid his head, not his heart. True life had never infused these walls. The attic led her to believe he had been a bachelor—never married, never had children, never sharing his life, let alone this house, with anyone. The starkness of the attic revealed the loneliness of the man at the time of his departure.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

03_Cat Gardiner
Born and bred in New York City, Cat Gardiner is a girl in love with the romance of an era once known as the Silent Generation, now referred to as the Greatest Generation. A member of the National League of American Pen Women, Romance Writers of America, and Tampa Area Romance Authors, she and her husband adore exploring the 1940s Home Front experience as living historians, wishing for a time machine to transport them back seventy years.

She loves to pull out her vintage frocks and attend U.S.O dances, swing clubs, and re-enactment camps as part of her research, believing that everyone should have an understanding of The 1940s Experience™.

Inspired by those everyday young adults who changed the fate of the world, she writes about them, taking the reader on a romantic journey. Cat’s WWII-era novels always begin in her beloved Big Apple and surround you with the sights and sounds of a generation.

She is also the author of four Jane Austen-inspired contemporary novels, however, her greatest love is writing 20th Century Historical Fiction, WWII-era Romance. A Moment Forever is her debut novel in that genre.

For more information please visit Cat Gardiner's website. You can also connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Goodreads.

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Giveaway

To win an eBook of A Moment Forever by Cat Gardiner please enter using the GLEAM form below. Two eBooks are up for grabs!

Rules

– Giveaway ends at 11:59pm EST on June 30th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
– Giveaway is open INTERNATIONALLY.
– 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.

A Moment Forever Book Blast

Monday, June 20, 2016

Review: By Helen's Hand (Helen of Sparta #2) by Amalia Carosella (Tour Wide Giveaway)

02_By Helen's Hand
With divine beauty comes dangerous power.

Helen believed she could escape her destiny and save her people from utter destruction. After defying her family and betraying her intended husband, she found peace with her beloved Theseus, the king of Athens and son of Poseidon.

But peace did not last long. Cruelly separated from Theseus by the gods, and uncertain whether he will live or die, Helen is forced to return to Sparta. In order to avoid marriage to Menelaus, a powerful prince unhinged by desire, Helen assembles an array of suitors to compete for her hand. As the men circle like vultures, Helen dreams again of war—and of a strange prince, meant to steal her away. Every step she takes to protect herself and her people seems to bring destruction nearer. Without Theseus’s strength to support her, can Helen thwart the gods and stop her nightmare from coming to pass?

Publication Date: May 10, 2016
Lake Union Publishing
eBook & Paperback;
Genre: Historical Fiction
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****

This is a time period that I enjoy reading about though I don't venture there that much.  By Helen's Hand is the sequel to Helen of Sparta and I highly recommend reading that one first, there is just so much of Helen's story and not knowing what happened previously would definitely hamper your enjoyment of this one.

This is one of those reviews where it is difficult to put into words without giving too much of the story away.  As with the first book I enjoyed the author's writing style and was quickly drawn into Helen's world.  Her emotional state was still conflicted by her dreams which was front and center but at the same time being treated to different points of view here (Theseus, Menelaus, Polypoetes and Paris, to name a few), which rounded out the story nicely.  I am still not a fan of Paris and the way Carosella's portrayed him matched my feelings.

Again the Author's Notes delivered, explaining not just some of her research but why the book ended the way it did.  Again I was educated with information unknown to me.  Though I found the ending a little rushed it was a twist I would never have imagined and I love being caught off guard like that.

All in all a great read that kept me entertained and one I highly recommend.  


Amazon (Kindle) | Amazon (Paperback) | Barnes & Noble | IndieBound

03_Amalia Carosella Author
Amalia Carosella graduated from the University of North Dakota with a bachelors degree in Classical Studies and English. An avid reader and former bookseller, she writes about old heroes and older gods. She lives with her husband in upstate New York and dreams of the day she will own goats (and maybe even a horse, too).

For more information, visit her blog at www.amaliacarosella.com.

She also writes fantasy and paranormal romance as Amalia Dillin.

You can also connect with Amalia on Facebook, Goodreads, and Twitter here and here.

Giveaway

To win a $40 Amazon Gift Card, sponsored by Amalia Carosella, please enter the giveaway via the GLEAM form below.

Rules

– Giveaway ends at 11:59pm EST on June 24th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
– Giveaway is open INTERNATIONALLY.
– 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.

By Helen's Hand


04_By Helen's Hand_Blog Tour Banner_FINAL



Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, May 16
Tour Kick Off at Passages to the Past
Tuesday, May 17
Review at The Reading Queen
Wednesday, May 18
Thursday, May 19
Review at 100 Pages a Day
Monday, May 23
Review at Creating Herstory
Tuesday, May 24
Review at Book Nerd
Wednesday, May 25
Thursday, May 26
Review at Helen's Daughter
Wednesday, June 1
Friday, June 3
Monday, June 6
Wednesday, June 8
Thursday, June 16
Review at Impressions In Ink
Friday, June 17
Review at Layered Pages
Monday, June 20
Wednesday, June 22
Friday, June 24
Tour Wrap Up at Passages to the Past

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Review: At the Edge of Summer by Jessica Brockmole

The acclaimed author of Letters from Skye returns with an extraordinary story of a friendship born of proximity but boundless in the face of separation and war.

Luc Crépet is accustomed to his mother’s bringing wounded creatures to their idyllic château in the French countryside, where healing comes naturally amid the lush wildflowers and crumbling stone walls. Yet his maman’s newest project is the most surprising: a fifteen-year-old Scottish girl grieving over her parents’ fate. A curious child with an artistic soul, Clare Ross finds solace in her connection to Luc, and she in turn inspires him in ways he never thought possible. Then, just as suddenly as Clare arrives, she is gone, whisked away by her grandfather to the farthest reaches of the globe. Devastated by her departure, Luc begins to write letters to Clare—and, even as she moves from Portugal to Africa and beyond, the memory of the summer they shared keeps her grounded.

Years later, in the wake of World War I, Clare, now an artist, returns to France to help create facial prostheses for wounded soldiers. One of the wary veterans who comes to the studio seems familiar, and as his mask takes shape beneath her fingers, she recognizes Luc. But is this soldier, made bitter by battle and betrayal, the same boy who once wrote her wistful letters from Paris? After war and so many years apart, can Clare and Luc recapture how they felt at the edge of that long-ago summer?

Bringing to life two unforgettable characters and the rich historical period they inhabit, Jessica Brockmole shows how love and forgiveness can redeem us.

 Hardcover, 336 pages
 Published May 17th 2016 by Ballantine Books
ARC via netgalley
*****

I am not going to make the same mistake I did with Jessica Brockmole's previous book Letters from Skye. In that I waited a couple of years after it's release before I read it. I absolutely loved that book and was anxious to read this one. Though I must admit I went in a little cautious, only because my expectations were rather up there and I dreaded the thought of disappointment. Suffice to say I was not disappointed in the least.

Again I was treated to an entertaining and educational story taking place around World War I.  Beginning in 1911 the reader is introduced to 15 year old Clare Ross and the author was able to paint a picture of the life of this young girl before the war started, giving us the chance to get acquainted with her and her less than ideal situation.

Alternating between Clare and Luc and spanning 8 years the effects this war had is clearly shown, not just with physical but emotional scars as well.  What I loved here was the writing, again the author used letters to tell the story and again it worked perfectly.  Getting into the minds of both Clare and Luc and feel their despair, struggles and hopes were vividly shown here.

At the Edge of Summer is a book I highly recommend to fans of historical fiction, especially those taking place during WWI.  Thank you to Ballantine Books (via netgalley) for a complimentary copy for review purposes.









Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Review: Grayling's Song by Karen Cushman

When Grayling’s mother, wise woman Hannah Strong, starts turning into a tree, Hannah sends Grayling to call “the others” for help.

It's time for Grayling to be a hero. Her mother, a “wise woman”—a sort of witch—has been turned into a tree by evil forces. Tangles and toadstools! Lacking confidence after years of being called “Feeble Wits” by her mother, Grayling heads off dubiously into the wilds in search of help, where she finds a weather witch, an aromatic enchantress, a cheese soothsayer, a slyly foolish apprentice, and a shape-shifting mouse named Pook!

A fast-paced and funny coming-of-age odyssey from a Newbery medalist.


 Hardcover, 224 pages
 Published June 7th 2016 by Clarion Books
arc from publisher via netgalley
*****

The first thing that came to mind while reading this book was the fairy tale feeling.  It was fun, enchanting, mysterious and highly entertaining.  As much as I love children's book I don't read them that often, I grabbed this one because of a previous experience with this author.

Karen Cushman also wrote Newbery Medal winner The Midwife's Apprentice (which I enjoyed).  When I compare this writing style and pose I found them totally different, yet similar - does that make sense?  Grayling's Song was not historical fiction like previous one and the author dawned a different style here.  With language I found conducive to a fairy tale, with dialogue enchanting and at times unnatural in the real world but works perfectly here.  

Grayling has been put down by her own mother for far too long and during this journey she changes and is able to discover herself.  I was sad to see Grayling's Song end and wish to see where life takes her next.

I read the ebook version and I feel it would be perfect in hardcover with wonderful illustrations to depict the interesting sounding scenes,  landscape as well as the various characters that help her along on this journey to self discovery.

Thank you to Houghton Mufflin Harcourn Children's Book Group for a complimentary copy (via netgalley).

    

Friday, June 3, 2016

Review: Marlene: A Novel of Marlene Dietrich by C.W. Gortner

02_Marlene

 A lush, dramatic biographical novel of one of the most glamorous and alluring legends of Hollywood’s golden age, Marlene Dietrich—from the gender-bending cabarets of Weimar Berlin to the lush film studios of Hollywood, a sweeping story of passion, glamour, ambition, art, and war from the author of Mademoiselle Chanel.

Raised in genteel poverty after the First World War, Maria Magdalena Dietrich dreams of a life on the stage. When a budding career as a violinist is cut short, the willful teenager vows to become a singer, trading her family’s proper, middle-class society for the free-spirited, louche world of Weimar Berlin’s cabarets and drag balls. With her sultry beauty, smoky voice, seductive silk cocktail dresses, and androgynous tailored suits, Marlene performs to packed houses and becomes entangled in a series of stormy love affairs that push the boundaries of social convention.

For the beautiful, desirous Marlene, neither fame nor marriage and motherhood can cure her wanderlust. As Hitler and the Nazis rise to power, she sets sail for America. Rivaling the success of another European import, Greta Garbo, Marlene quickly becomes one of Hollywood’s leading ladies, starring with legends such as Gary Cooper, John Wayne, and Cary Grant. Desperate for her return, Hitler tries to lure her with dazzling promises. Marlene instead chooses to become an American citizen, and after her new nation is forced into World War II, she tours with the USO, performing for thousands of Allied troops in Europe and Africa.

But one day she returns to Germany. Escorted by General George Patton himself, Marlene is heartbroken by the war’s devastation and the evil legacy of the Third Reich that has transformed her homeland and the family she loved.

An enthralling and insightful account of this extraordinary legend, Marlene reveals the inner life of a woman of grit, glamour, and ambition who defied convention, seduced the world, and forged her own path on her own terms.

Publication Date: May 24, 2016 
William Morrow Hardcover & eBook; 384 Pages
Genre: Historical/Biographical/Women's Fiction
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****

I have a great respect for authors who publish in a variety of time periods, with characters of different social standing and backgrounds, especially in the historical fiction genre.  With the amount of research that needs to be done and then to write their stories in a way that brings them to life and keeps us readers entertained, is no small feat.  Which is one of the reasons why C.W. Gortner is one of my favorites.  I have yet to be disappointed in anything he has written.

With Marlene he takes the reader away from the 1400/1500's to the 1920's with the story of Marlene Dietrich, Hollywood star.  I know virtual nothing about her which made this book all the more enjoyable.  

Told from the point of view of Marlene made it easy to connect with her, to feel her struggles and understand her motivations in the things she did.  She is a young school girl when first introduced, and I loved watching her grow up, seeing her change into the memorable person she became.  The book doesn't follow her whole life but takes us to the end of WW II which I found fascinating.  But the author doesn't leave us hanging, because by this point I am hooked and want to learn more about her.  Gortner wrote some great historical notes to tell us about her later years and I really appreciated that.

As usually C.W. Gortner had me captivated with his writing style and creating characters that are authentic and believable.  He opened my eyes to the Hollywood scene while at the same time giving a vivid portrait of Marlene's feelings for her country and people.  Definitely a book I will recommend.




03_CW GortnerC.W. GORTNER holds an MFA in Writing with an emphasis in Renaissance Studies from the New College of California, as well as an AA from the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising in San Francisco.

After an eleven year-long career in fashion, during which he worked as a vintage retail buyer, freelance publicist, and fashion show coordinator, C.W. devoted the next twelve years to the public health sector. In 2012, he became a full-time writer following the international success of his novels. In his extensive travels to research his books, he has danced a galliard at Hampton Court, learned about organic gardening at Chenoceaux, and spent a chilly night in a ruined Spanish castle. His books have garnered widespread acclaim and been translated into twenty-one languages to date, with over 400,000 copies sold.

A sought-after public speaker. C.W. has given keynote addresses at writer conferences in the US and abroad. He is also a dedicated advocate for animal rights, in particular companion animal rescue to reduce shelter overcrowding. Half-Spanish by birth and raised in southern Spain, C.W. now lives in Northern California with his partner and two very spoiled rescue cats.

For more information visit C.W. Gortner’s website and blog. You can also find him on Facebook, Twittter, Goodreads, Pinterest, and YouTube.

Sign up for C.W. Gortner’s Newsletter for updates.

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Giveaway

To enter the Marlene Blog Tour Giveaway please see the GLEAM form below.
  • Winner #1 will receive a copy of Marlene by C.W. Gortner.
  • Winner #2 will receive a copy of Marlene by C.W. Gortner & a Marlene-inspired necklace and matching bracelet. Hand-beaded in Guatemala, lime-green and purple beads. Necklace is Egyptian-style drape, and bracelet has centerpiece purple floral gemstone design.
Rules – Giveaway ends at 11:59pm EST on June 7th. 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.

  Marlene

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Review: The Summer Guest by Alison Anderson

The Summer Guest cover

What if Anton Chekhov, undisputed master of the short story, secretly wrote a novel—a manuscript hidden long ago that might have survived?

This tantalizing possibility drives The Summer Guest, a spellbinding story that draws together, across two centuries, the lives of three women through a moving, mysterious diary.

During the long, hot summer of 1888, an extraordinary friendship blossoms between Anton Chekhov and a young doctor named Zinaida Lintvaryova. Recently blinded by illness, Zinaida has retreated to her family’s estate in the lush countryside of eastern Ukraine, where she is keeping a diary to record her memories of her earlier life. But when the Chekhov family arrives to spend the summer at a dacha on the estate, and she meets the middle son, Anton Pavlovich, her quiet existence is transformed by the connection they share. What begins as a journal kept simply to pass the time becomes an intimate, introspective narrative of Zinaida’s singular relationship with this writer of growing fame.

More than a century later, in 2014, the publication of Zinaida’s diary represents Katya Kendall’s last chance to save her struggling London publishing house. Zinaida’s description of a gifted young man still coming to terms with his talent offers profound insight into a literary legend, but it also raises a tantalizing question: Did Chekhov, known only as a short-story writer and dramatist, write a novel that has since disappeared? The answer could change history, and finding the manuscript proves an irresistible challenge for Ana Harding, the translator Katya hires. Increasingly drawn into Zinaida and Chekhov’s world, Ana is consumed by her desire to find the “lost” book. As she delves deeper into the moving account of two lives changed by a meeting on a warm May night, she discovers that the manuscript is not the only mystery contained within the diary’s pages.

Inspired by the real-life friendship between Chekhov and the Lintvaryov family, The Summer Guest is a masterful and utterly compelling novel that breathes life into a vanished world while exploring the transformative power of art and the complexities of love and friendship.


• Hardcover: 400 pages
• Publisher: Harper (May 24, 2016)
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****

As a reader I am always attracted to books with a literary theme and with this one in a location I read little of, I was excited to read The Summer Guest.  A new author is always fun but also met with a little apprehension at the same time. I can say that I was not disappointed.

There is a lot going on here.  With Russian playwright Anton Chekhov and Zinaida Lintvaryova meeting at her Ukrainian estate in the past storyline (1888) and then jumping to present day with 2 women with their own issues.  But when they dig into Zinaida's diary about their time together, well lets just say it's a great story.  The plot isn't busy or overwhelming but Alison  Anderson was able to deliver an exciting story that kept me glued to the pages.  Though I am unfamiliar with the playwright, this has peeked my interest and sent me off to search for his works.  And I think that is great when an author creates that kind of interest in her characters.

Alison Anderson's writing style made it hard to put this book down.  The words just flowed smoothly, especially the past story (my favorite), and held my attention.  Trying to figure out what happened to the book and to generally care for the characters.  

Highly recommend to fans of HF with a literary bent.  Thank you to TLC Tours for the invite to participate in this tour.


Alison Anderson APALISON ANDERSON, a native Californian, works as a literary translator in the Swiss Alps. Her many translations include the Europa edition of Muriel Barbery’s The Elegance of the Hedgehog, Ingrid Betancourt’s memoir, and the work of JMG De Clezio. She has also written two previous novels and is the recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts Literary Translation Fellowship, as well as fellowships at the prestigious MacDowell Colony and the Hawthornden Retreat for Writers. 

Find out more about Alison at her website.

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Review: The House by the Lake by Ella Carey

Anna is content with her well-ordered life in San Francisco. But her world is turned upside down when her beloved grandfather, Max, reveals a startling secret: Anna is part of an aristocratic family who lost everything during World War II. What’s more, Max was forced to leave behind a precious item over seventy years ago in their estate in old Prussia. It’s now his ardent wish that Anna retrieve it.

Anna burns with questions as she heads for Germany: What memento could be so important to her grandfather? And why did he keep their history hidden? As she searches for answers, she finds herself drawn to Wil, a man who may hold the key to unlock the mystery. Together they discover that her family’s secrets are linked with an abandoned apartment in Paris, and these secrets go deeper than she ever imagined.

Alternating between 1930s Europe and the present, The House by the Lake illuminates the destiny of a family caught in the tumult of history.

Kindle Edition234 pages 
Published March 29th 2016
Lake Union Publishing
****


I really enjoyed reading Ella Carey's debut, Paris Time Capsule last year.  Though I can't seem to discover info suggesting that this (The House by the Lake) is part of a series, I feel like it is. Where Paris Time Capsule focused on the discovery of the apartment, this one looks at the apartment from a different angle.

Jumping between present day and the dawn of WW II, the author has yet again treated me to an interesting and unique background story to the history of said apartment. Anna's grandfather Max is in both time periods adding the elements to make this an interesting and captivating read.

My interest was mostly in the apartment, so the present day plot wasn't my favorite part.  It kept my attention but was a little too neat and tidy for me.  The past story line was intriguing, it was about trust, loyalty and friendship in a time period that was turning volatile.  In the years before WW II the author shows a clear picture of its effect on citizens of Europe, not German.

Though this one could be read as a stand alone I do recommend Paris Time Capsule.  Thank you for Netgalley and Lake Union Publishing for an ARC.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Ella Carey is a writer and Francophile who claims Paris as her second home. Her first book is Paris Time Capsule, and her work has been published in the Review of Australian Fiction. She lives in Australia with her two children and two Italian greyhounds.

Monday, May 30, 2016

Review: Loving Eleanor By Susan Wittig Albert (plus tour wide giveaway)

02_Loving Eleanor
When AP political reporter Lorena Hickok—Hick—is assigned to cover Mrs. Franklin D. Roosevelt, the wife of the 1932 Democratic presidential candidate, the two women become deeply, intimately involved. 

Their relationship begins with mutual romantic passion, matures through stormy periods of enforced separation and competing interests, and warms into an enduring, encompassing friendship that ends only with both women's deaths in the 1960s—all of it documented by 3300 letters exchanged over thirty years. 

 Now, New York Times bestselling author Susan Wittig Albert recreates the fascinating story of Hick and Eleanor, set during the chaotic years of the Great Depression, the New Deal, and the Second World War. Loving Eleanor is Hick's personal story, revealing Eleanor as a complex, contradictory, and entirely human woman who is pulled in many directions by her obligations to her husband and family and her role as the nation's First Lady, as well as by a compelling need to care and be cared for. For her part, Hick is revealed as an accomplished journalist, who, at the pinnacle of her career, gives it all up for the woman she loves. Then, as Eleanor is transformed into Eleanor Everywhere, First Lady of the World, Hick must create her own independent, productive life.

 Drawing on extensive research in the letters that were sealed for a decade following Hick's death, Albert creates a compelling narrative: a dramatic love story, vividly portraying two strikingly unconventional women, neither of whom is satisfied to live according to the script society has written for her. Loving Eleanor is a profoundly moving novel that illuminates a relationship we are seldom privileged to see and celebrates the depth and durability of women's love.

Publication Date: February 1, 2016
Persevero Press; Thorndike (Large Print)
Hardcover, Paperback, eBook, Large Print
Genre: Historical Fiction/Biographical Fiction
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****

This is my second book by Susan Wittig Albert, the first was A Wilder Rose (click for review). As with A Wilder Rose, Loving Eleanor was an easy book to get lost in.

 As you can read from the synopsis above Loving Eleanor is told from the point of view of Hick, friend and reporter.  This is the story of Hick in which Eleanor Roosevelt plays a key role.  There isn't anything really political taking place in this book but rather it's about friendship, forbidden love and living with the public watching your every move.

Hick was a strong woman who endured much to make it as a reporter.  The author captured that fully as well as her compassion and drive.  I never knew about this 'friendship' with Eleanor, I found it entertaining and educational at the same time.

While I remind myself that this is historical fiction the author has based this book on letters held in FDR's library.  The author's notes are extensive and I enjoyed reading them as much as the story.



Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | IndieBound

IPPY Award Winner Badge


03_Susan Wittig AlbertSusan Wittig Albert is the award-winning, NYT bestselling author of the forthcoming historical novel Loving Eleanor (2016), about the intimate friendship of Eleanor Roosevelt and Lorena Hickok; and A Wilder Rose (2014), about Rose Wilder Lane and the writing of the Little House books. 

Her award-winning fiction also includes mysteries in the China Bayles series, the Darling Dahlias, the Cottage Tales of Beatrix Potter, and a series of Victorian-Edwardian mysteries she has written with her husband, Bill Albert, under the pseudonym of Robin Paige.

 She has written two memoirs: An Extraordinary Year of Ordinary Days and Together, Alone: A Memoir of Marriage and Place, published by the University of Texas Press. Her nonfiction titles include What Wildness is This: Women Write About the Southwest (winner of the 2009 Willa Award for Creative Nonfiction); Writing from Life: Telling the Soul's Story; and Work of Her Own: A Woman's Guide to Success Off the Career Track. She is founder and current president (2015-2017) of the Story Circle Network and a member of the Texas Institute of Letters.

 For more information please visit www.susanalbert.com and www.LovingEleanor.com, or read her blog. You can also find Susan on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Goodreads, and Pinterest. Like the Loving Eleanor page on Facebook.

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Giveaway

Three copies of Loving Eleanor by Sisan Wittig Albert are up for grabs! To enter, please use the GLEAM form below.

Rules
– Giveaway ends at 11:59pm EST on May 31st. You must be 18 or older to enter.
– Giveaway is open to US & Canada 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.

  Loving Eleanor

Friday, May 27, 2016

Spotlight & Giveaway: Béla's Letters by Jeff Ingber

02_Béla’s Letters
“Béla’s Letters” is a historical fiction novel spanning eight decades.

 It revolves around the remarkable life story of Béla Ingber, who was born before the onset of WWI in Munkács, a small city nestled in the Carpathian Mountains. The book tells of the struggles of Béla and his extended family to comprehend and prepare for the Holocaust, the implausible circumstances that the survivors endure before reuniting in the New World, and the crushing impact on them of their wartime experiences together with the feelings of guilt, hatred, fear, and abandonment that haunt them. At the core of the novel are the poignant letters and postcards that family members wrote to Béla, undeterred by the feasibility of delivery, which were his lifeline, even decades after the war ended.



Publication Date: February 18, 2016
Paperback; 596 Pages
ISBN: 978-0985410025

Genre: Historical Fiction

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03_Jeff IngberJeff is a financial industry consultant, who previously held senior positions at Citibank, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, and The Depository Trust & Clearing Corporation. His latest book is "Bela's Letters," a family memoir based on his parents, who were survivors of the Hungarian Holocaust. Jeff also has written a screenplay entitled "The Bank Examiners." He lives with his wife in Jersey City, NJ.

For more information visit Jeff Ingber's website. You can also connect with him on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.

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Giveaway

To win a copy of Béla's Letters please enter using the GLEAM form below.

Rules

– Giveaway ends at 11:59pm EST on July 4th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
– Giveaway is open INTERNATIONALLY.
– 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.

Béla's Letters

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Review & Giveaway: Promised to the Crown (Daughters of New France, Book One) by Aimie K. Runyan

02_Promised to the Crown

Bound for a new continent, and a new beginning.

In her illuminating debut novel, Aimie K. Runyan masterfully blends fact and fiction to explore the founding of New France through the experiences of three young women who, in 1667, answer Louis XIV’s call and journey to the Canadian colony. They are known as the filles du roi, or “King’s Daughters”—young women who leave prosperous France for an uncertain future across the Atlantic. Their duty is to marry and bring forth a new generation of loyal citizens.

 Each prospective bride has her reason for leaving—poverty, family rejection, a broken engagement. Despite their different backgrounds, Rose, Nicole, and Elisabeth all believe that marriage to a stranger is their best, perhaps only, chance of happiness. Once in Quebec, Elisabeth quickly accepts baker Gilbert Beaumont, who wants a business partner as well as a wife. Nicole, a farmer’s daughter from Rouen, marries a charming officer who promises comfort and security. Scarred by her traumatic past, Rose decides to take holy vows rather than marry. Yet no matter how carefully she chooses, each will be tested by hardship and heartbreaking loss—and sustained by the strength found in their uncommon friendship, and the precarious freedom offered by their new home.

An engaging, engrossing debut.”—Greer Macallister, USA Today bestselling author of The Magician’s Lie
An absorbing adventure with heart.”—Jennifer Laam, author of The Secret Daughter of the Tsar

Publication Date: April 26, 2016
Kensington
Paperback & eBook; 352 Pages
Series: Daughters of New France
Genre: Historical Fiction
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****


I am happy to be part of this tour of Promised to the Crown.  Being Canadian I am always on the lookout for historical fiction taking place in this beautiful country.  It's sometimes hard to find and this being the first in series means more to come.  This is Aimie K. Runyan's debut and I feel she is off to a really good start.  

Following the lives of 3 young women, Elizabeth, Nicole and Rose, all with different backgrounds and various reasons for going to Canada.  The author kept my attention throughout this book, she didn't sugar coat the crossing or the struggles these women faces in making decisions.  It wasn't hard to get to know them, feel their plight and sympathize with what life throws at them.

I found this book to be character driven and it would have been nice to learn more about the culture, lifestyle and see more interaction with the natives.  But then again this is the first in series so we'll see what comes next.  I still ended up giving this book 4 stars, being captivated in this story it was hard to put down and I am interested in the next chapter.


One of the things that stood out for me was the author's passion and desire to share this time period. Love author's notes!

"My purpose is not to depict these women as angels.  They were not.  They were real women with struggles, aspirations, and fears, who had the remarkable opportunity to help found a nation.  If they had a common virtue, it was bravery.  They left a prosperous, flourishing France, sacrificing all they had, with little chance of return, in order to marry strangers and raise families on a foreign and often dangerous frontier."



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03_Aimie K. RunyanAimie K. Runyan, member of the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers and Women's Fiction Writers Association, has been an avid student of French and Francophone Studies for more than fifteen years. While working on her Master's thesis on the brave women who helped found French Canada, she was fortunate enough to win a generous grant from the Quebec government to study onsite for three months which enabled the detailed research necessary for her work. Aimie lives in Colorado with her husband and two children.

 For more information please visit Aimie's website.

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

04_Promised to the Crown_Blog Tour Banner_FINAL
click on banner for more stops on this tour

Giveaway

Two copies of Promised to the Crown by Aimie K. Runyan are up for grabs!

To enter, please use the GLEAM form below.

Rules
– Giveaway ends at 11:59pm EST on May 31st. 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.

  Promised to the Crown