Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Review: The Pink Bonnet: True Colors: Historical Stories of American Crime (True Colors) by Liz Tolsma

A Desperate Mother Searches for Her Child.

Step into True Colors -- a new series of Historical Stories of Romance and American Crime

 Widowed in Memphis during 1932, Cecile Dowd is struggling to provide for her three-year-old daughter. Unwittingly trusting a neighbor puts little Millie Mae into the clutches of Georgia Tann, corrupt Memphis Tennessee Children’s Home Society director suspected of the disappearance of hundreds of children. With the help of a sympathetic lawyer, the search for Millie uncovers a deep level of corruption that threatens their very lives.

 How far will a mother go to find out what happened to her child?

Kindle, 256 pages
Published June 1st 2019
by Barbour Books 
***

This is the 2nd book in the Historical Stories of American Crime series, each book is a stand-alone. I liked the premise for both this series and this book. Georgia Tann was an unknown to me and what she deliberately did has left me somewhat speechless (author notes at the end were informative).

Liz Tolsa is not a new author for me, it was nice to get reacquainted with her writing again. This book is a little shorter than her usual fare and given the subject I think it was the right fit. Any longer would have dragged this story out and I don’t think my emotional side could have handled it. I’ll say this book is not for the faint of heart, there is a strong subject matter of abuse here and at times hard for me to read.

I struggled to connect with the players here, well except Millie - I loved her. I didn’t feel the emotions that this story warranted and seeing reviews it would appear the issue is me.

Though the ending was somewhat predictable I struggled with some unresolved plot points, without giving too much of the story I needed some closure and felt a little cheated - but based on history it couldn't really be changed.

The Pink Bonnet is a story of a mother’s determination, it’s a dark period in history that will stay with me for a long time.  Not one of my best reviews, but seriously I needed to get this written and move on to something cheerful and try to put this out of my mind.

Thank you to the publisher (via Netgalley) for an advanced copy in exchange for an honest review.

Monday, August 19, 2019

Cover Reveal: Dreamland by Nancy Bilyeau

Dreamland by Nancy Bilyeau

Publication Date: January 16, 2020
Endeavor Quill
Genre: Historical Fiction
 

 The year is 1911 when twenty-year-old heiress Peggy Batternberg is invited to spend the summer in America’s Playground. But the invitation to Coney Island is unwelcome. Despite hailing from one of America’s richest families, Peggy would much rather spend the summer at the Moonrise Bookstore where she works voluntarily, than keeping up appearances with Brooklyn socialites and her snobbish, controlling family. But soon it transpires that the hedonism of Coney Island affords Peggy more of the freedom she has been longing for. For one, she finds herself in love with a troubled pier-side artist of humble means, whom the Batternberg patriarchs would surely disapprove of. Disapprove they may, but hidden behind their pomposity lurks a web of deceit, betrayal and deadly secrets. And as bodies begin to mount up amidst the sweltering clamour of Coney Island, it seems the powerful Batternbergs can get away with anything…even murder.s It is up to Peggy to overcome the oppression of her family and clear the name of her vulnerable lover, before she or her beloved sister become the next victims of Dreamland. Extravagant, intoxicating and thumping with suspense, bestselling Nancy Bilyeau’s magnificent Dreamland is a story of corruption, class and dangerous obsession.

About the Author


"Dreamland" is Nancy Bilyeau's fifth novel of historical suspense. She is the author of the best-selling historical thriller “The Blue” and the Tudor mystery series “The Crown,” “The Chalice,” and “The Tapestry,” on sale in nine countries. Nancy is a magazine editor who has lived in the United States and Canada. She studied History and English Literature at the University of Michigan. After moving to New York City, she worked on the staffs of “InStyle,” “Good Housekeeping,” and “Rolling Stone.” She is currently the deputy editor of the Center on Media, Crime and Justice at the Research Foundation of CUNY and a regular contributing writer to “Town & Country" and "Mystery Scene Magazine." Nancy’s mind is always in past centuries but she currently lives with her husband and two children in Forest Hills in the borough of Queens. "Dreamland" is her first novel set in her adopted hometown of New York City.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | BookBub

 

Sunday, August 18, 2019

Review: A Lifetime of Impossible Days by Tabitha Bird

A thoughtful, uplifting and magical story of childhood, family and finding ways to change the inevitable . . .

Meet Willa Waters, aged 8 . . . 33 . . . and 93.

On one impossible day in 1965,

eight-year-old Willa Waters receives a mysterious box containing a jar of water and the instruction: 'One ocean: plant in the backyard.' So she does - and somehow creates an extraordinary time-slip that allows her to visit her future selves.

On one impossible day in 1990,

Willa is 33 and a mother-of-two when her childhood self magically appears in her backyard.

But she's also a woman haunted by memories of her dark past - and is on the brink of a decision that will have tragic repercussions . . .

On one impossible day in 2050,

 Willa is a silver-haired, gumboot-loving 93-year-old whose memory is fading fast. Yet she knows there's something she has to remember, a warning she must give her past selves about a terrible event in 1990 . . . If only she could recall what it was.

Can the three Willas come together, to heal their past and save their future . . . before it's too late?

 Paperback, 395 pages
Published June 4th 2019
by Viking
 ****

I think it was on Instagram that I spotted this yummy cover. I was further peeked as a debut from Australia author Tabitha Bird, the synopsis just clinched it for me. Three different time periods with the same characters at different stages in life sounds like a very intricate plot but taking it another step is timeslip - can it be done? Of course, it can be done, but in an appealing manner to capture and keep this reader’s attention and hold it?

There is 8-year-old Willa, 33-year-old Willa, and 93-year-old Willa. There are gumboots, jam drops and an ocean to plant. I loved each stage of Willa’s life, they were heartbreaking and so well written, I cared for each of the Willa’s,  what they were going through and the mysterious element of what was to come.

It did take a bit for the story to really take off but the author laid a strong foundation for a story that kept me captivated. A Lifetime of Impossible Days is a story of strength, hurts, heartbreaking at the same time as being comical and magical. There are risks, guilt and mature subject matters that made this a unique story and one I highly recommend.

This book is part of my '2019 reading off my shelf' challenge.

Saturday, August 17, 2019

Review: Fled by Meg Keneally

Based on the life of an incredible historical heroine, a harrowing journey in search of love, justice, and freedom, told by the daughter of best-selling author Thomas Keneally (Schindler's List)

 Jenny Gwyn has proven herself a survivor. Faced with destitution after the death of her father, she toughens her skin to become a highwaywoman in order to support her impoverished family. But one fatal mistake leads to her arrest, and the king’s justice demands her death. Rather than beg for mercy, Jenny condemns the system that would have her choose between obeying the law and dying, and breaking it for a chance to live. Her ferocity convinces the judge to spare her life, sentencing her and dozens of other convicts to a transport across the world to help settle England's newest colony in Australia.

 After being contained on a filthy ship and selling her body for protection, Jenny is horrified to learn that her struggles have only just begun. The harsh landscape of Sydney Cove isn't welcoming to its new settlers with its arid climate and precious little fresh water, and despite the lack of shackles or bars, she and the others are still prisoners under the strict watch of Governor Edward Lockharty, and no amount of cunning can earn his favor. Jenny refuses to submit to the governor or to the barren land unable to support the growing population. Determined to find a better life for herself and her children, she braves the sea, and a journey of over three thousand miles in a small rowboat, for a chance at a future worth fighting for.

 Based on the true story of Mary Bryant, an iconic figure in the foundation lore of Australia as Great Britain's penal colony, Fled is a sweeping, heart-wrenching account of one woman's life-long search for freedom.

Kindle, 408 pages
 Published July 9th, 2019
 by Arcade
****

I love reading about real historical figures that are off the beaten path but should be well known. Figures who defy the odds and lead extraordinary lives. Mary Bryant is one such person and her story is told as one Jenny Trelawney beginning in 1783. Through a series of circumstances, she is sent to the penal colony in Australia. The synopsis above tells so much of what this story entails (maybe a little too much imho) so no need to go over that.

I enjoyed this book, though I was a little familiar with settlements of this nature in Australia it’s always nice to read from different perspectives. This is the author’s debut and her knowledge of the time is evident. Life is hard enough in the late 18th century and harder still when a husband/father dies leaving the family to struggle just to survive.

From Cornwall to Sydney Cove and other places Fled is a journey that tests a woman’s resolve. It’s a story right from the pages of history full of strength, determination, and heartache. The author notes provide detail of what and who are real along with other interesting facts. Fled is a book I recommend especially to those that want some a little different in historical fiction.

I was provided an e-arc from the publisher via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Spotlight & Giveaway: The Quest for the Crown of Thorns by Cynthia Ripley Miller


Publication Date: June 12, 2017
Knox Robinson Publishing
eBook & Paperback; 308 Pages
Series: The Long - Hair Saga, Book 2
Genre: Historical Fiction/Mystery

AD 454.

Three years after the Roman victory over Attila the Hun at Catalaunum, Arria Felix and Garic the Frank are married and enjoying life on Garic's farm in northern Gaul (France). Their happy life is interrupted, when a cryptic message arrives from Rome, calling Arria home to her father, the esteemed Senator Felix. At Arria's insistence, but against Garic's better judgment, they leave at once. 

Upon their arrival at Villa Solis, they are confronted with a brutal murder and the dangerous mission that awaits them. The fate of a profound and sacred object--Christ's Crown of Thorns--rests in their hands. They must carry the holy relic to the safety of Constantinople, away from a corrupt emperor and old enemies determined to steal it for their own gain.

 But an even greater force arises to derail their quest--a secret cult willing to commit any atrocity to capture the Crown of Thorns. And all the while, the gruesome murder and the conspiracy behind it haunt Arria's thoughts. Arria and Garic's marital bonds are tested but forged as they partner together to fulfill one of history's most challenging missions, The Quest for the Crown of Thorns.


Amazon | Barnes & Noble


Cynthia Ripley Miller is a first generation Italian-American writer with a love for history, languages and books. She has lived, worked, and travelled in Europe, Africa, North America and the Caribbean. As a girl, she often wondered what it would be like to journey through time (she still does), yet knew, it could only be through the imagination and words of writers and their stories. Today, she writes to bring the past to life. She holds two degrees and has taught history and teaches English. Her short fiction has appeared in the anthology Summer Tapestry, at Orchard Press Mysteries.com and The Scriptor. A Chanticleer International Chatelaine Award finalist for her novel, On the Edge of Sunrise, she has reviewed for UNRV Roman History, and blogs at Historical Happenings and Oddities: A Distant Focus Cynthia has four children and lives with her husband, twin cats, Romulus and Remus, and Jessie, a German Shepherd, in a suburb of Chicago. On the Edge of Sunrise is the first in the Long-Hair Saga; a series set in late ancient Rome and France and published by Knox Robinson Publishing. The second book in the series, The Quest for the Crown of Thorns, was released in June 2017.

For more information please visit Cynthia Ripley Miller's website.

You can also connect with her on FacebookTwitter, and Goodreads.





Giveaway


During the Blog Tour, we are giving away 1 paperback and 2 eBook copies of The Quest for the Crown of Thorns! To enter, please use the Gleam form below. Giveaway Rules – Giveaway ends at 11:59 pm EST on August 20th. You must be 18 or older to enter. – Paperback giveaway is open to the US only. Ebooks are available for international entries. – Only one entry per household. – All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspicion of fraud will be decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion. – The winner has 48 hours to claim prize or a new winner is chosen. Crown of Thorns - Tour #3

Spotlight: The Fire of Winter by D.K. Marley

She is known as Lady Macbeth.
What leads her down the path of murder?
What secrets fire her destiny?

Gruah, granddaughter of King Cìnéad III of the Royal Clan Alpin, marries two men in less than six months, one she loves and one she hates; one in secret, the other arranged by the High King of Scotland. At the age of eighteen, she lays her palm upon the ancient stone of Scone and sees her destiny as Queen of Scotland, and she vows to do whatever necessary to see her true love, Macbeth macFindlaech, beside her on the throne.

Amid the fiery times and heated onslaughts from Denmark and England, as the rule of Scotland hangs in the balance, Gruah seeks to win the throne and bring revenge upon the monsters of her childhood, no matter the cost or amount of blood tainting her own hands; yet, an unexpected meeting with the King called the Confessor causes her to question her bloody path and doubt her once blazing pagan faith. Will she find redemption or has the blood of her past fire-branded her soul?

The story weaves the play by William Shakespeare with the actual history of Macbeth and his Queen in 11th-century Scotland.
“...a woman's story at a winter's fire...” (Macbeth, Act III, Scene IV)

“This beautifully written reworking of the Macbeth tale told from Lady Macbeth’s point-of-view flows from the page and you quickly become immersed in the politics and intrigues of feudal Scotland as she fights for her rightful place and her true love! A mesmerizing read that grips from start to finish and Gruah is now one of my all-time favorite literary crushes. “ - Iain Leonard, ARC Reviewer
“Brilliantly conceived and beautifully written, The Fire of Winter is a tale not to be missed by lovers of Shakespeare, lovers of history, or lovers of the written word.” - Riana Everly, Author of Teaching Eliza and Through a Different Lens

Publication Date: June 1, 2019
eBook; 355 Pages
Genre: Historical Fiction

Amazon | IndieBound

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

D. K. Marley is a historical fiction writer specializing in Shakespearean themes. Her grandmother, an English Literature teacher, gave her a volume of Shakespeare's plays when she was eleven, inspiring DK to delve further into the rich Elizabethan language. Eleven years ago she began the research leading to the publication of her first novel "Blood and Ink," an epic tale of lost dreams, spurned love, jealousy and deception in Tudor England as the two men, William Shakespeare and Kit Marlowe, fight for one name and the famous works now known as the Shakespeare Folio. She is an avid Shakespearean / Marlowan, a member of the Marlowe Society, the Shakespeare Fellowship and a signer of the Declaration of Intent for the Shakespeare Authorship Debate. She has traveled to England three times for intensive research and debate workshops and is a graduate of the intense training workshop "The Writer's Retreat Workshop" founded by Gary Provost and hosted by Jason Sitzes. She lives in Georgia with her husband and a Scottish Terriers named Maggie and Buster.

 For more information, please visit D.K. Marley's website.

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


Giveaway

During the Blog Tour, we are giving away copies of The Fire of Winter + a surprise gift to three lucky winners! To enter, please use the Gleam form below. Giveaway Rules – Giveaway ends at 11:59 pm EST on August 19th. You must be 18 or older to enter. – Giveaway is open to the US only. – Only one entry per household. – All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspicion of fraud will be decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion. – The winner has 48 hours to claim prize or a new winner is chosen. The Fire of Winter

Monday, August 12, 2019

Review: The Grave Digger by Rebecca Bischoff

In 1875 Ohio, twelve-year-old Cap Cooper is an aspiring inventor—and a reluctant graverobber—enlisted by his father to help pay for his mother’s medical expenses.

When one of the dead returns to life at his touch, Cap unearths a world of dark secrets that someone at the local medical school wants to keep buried. On the brink of discovery, he’ll have to use every ounce of cunning he has to protect those he loves most and save his own skin.

 The Grave Digger is an eerie mystery set in the aftermath of the Civil War, filled with action, friendship, and a hint of the paranormal, perfect for those who enjoy reading late into the night and long after the lights go out.

Kindle, 192 pages
Expected publication: October 29th 2019
by Amberjack Publishing
***

I loved the synopsis for The Grave Digger. It’s historical - nothing like going back in time to read about the past. It’s a ghostly, creepy story that should give goosebumps and make for a compulsive read. It's middle grade which is one of my favorites - there can still be the depth of both character and plot.

A father and son duo who happens to be grave robbers at night sets in motion something supernatural while at the same time become involved in a mystery.

With so many 4& 5-star reviews I seriously wonder what I missed. It’s not that I disliked this book, I enjoyed it but feel there could have been more to the characters because I struggled to connect and feel any empathy for the lot of them. There was a lot of things going on here and at times I wondered about there a place in the whole scheme of things, some were more of a distraction and interrupted the flow.

For the mindset of the targeted age, I think it will work well but for this adult, it’s a 3 star for me.

My thanks to the publisher (via Netgalley) for an advanced copy in exchange for an honest review.

Sunday, August 11, 2019

Excerpt & Giveaway: A Conspiracy of Wolves by Candace Robb

When a prominent citizen is murdered, former Captain of the Guard Owen Archer is persuaded out of retirement to investigate in this gripping medieval mystery.

 1374. When a member of one of York’s most prominent families is found dead in the woods, his throat torn out, rumours spread like wildfire that wolves are running loose throughout the city. Persuaded to investigate by the victim’s father, Owen Archer is convinced that a human killer is responsible. But before he can gather sufficient evidence to prove his case, a second body is discovered, stabbed to death. Is there a connection? What secrets are contained within the victim’s household? And what does apprentice healer Alisoun know that she’s not telling? 

Teaming up with Geoffrey Chaucer, who is in York on a secret mission on behalf of Prince Edward, Owen’s enquiries will draw him headlong into a deadly conspiracy.

Publication Date: August 1, 2019
Severn House/Crème de la Crime
Hardcover & eBook; 256 Pages
Series: Owen Archer, Book 11
Genre: Historical Mystery

EXCERPT:

For a while they had traveled behind a group of players who serenaded them with songs and japes, a felicitous arrangement, though he hoped that his eight-year-old daughter Gwenllian would forget the bawdier lyrics. Now that the players had moved on, the monotonous rattle of the cart and horses was punctured occasion¬ally by sounds of reapers and gleaners in the fields, though not as many as on their journey to Freythorpe. Harvest was almost over. Adding to the monotony, his companion droned on and on about something – Owen had stopped listening to Geoffrey a while back. Chaucer was shaping one of his poems aloud, replete with mythical palaces, gods, fantastical creatures, which might be entertaining but for his pauses to play with language, trying a phrase this way and that. Owen was perhaps to blame, having insisted that Geoffrey not address the mission that had brought him to York until they returned to the city. He’d hoped the man might ride in silence, but he’d know that was too much to ask of the chattering jay.

In her wisdom, Magda Digby might have found a way to delay Geoffrey’s departure. Thou art needed in the city, she had told Owen as they sat beneath an oak the previous evening, drawing down the day. Depart in the morning.

But Lucie . . .

Agrees with Magda. She has readied the children.

How do you know?

Not the question, Bird-eye. She had turned to him, pressing her forefinger to the spot between his eyes. Open thine eyes. Trust thyself. The wolves circle their prey. Thou hast the sight to see what awakens.

He’d questioned the wolves. They came only in winter, the wolves that the steward of the Forest of Galtres swore no longer bided in the land.

What do folk see when they see a wolf, Bird-eye? The animal? Think again. Magda Digby, his guide, his tormentor. In his mourning for John Thoresby, Owen had sought her out, confided in her all that was in his heart. Long she listened, holding his hands, looking into his eye. Open thine eyes, she repeated and corrected him when he argued that he had but one. He did not understand, and she did not explain. Her last words to him on departing Freythorpe, Trust thyself, Bird-eye. Thou art called.


Amazon | Barnes and Noble | IndieBound



I’m Candace Robb, a writer/historian engaged in creating fiction about the late middle ages with a large cast of characters with whom I enjoy spending my days. Two series, the Owen Archer mysteries and the Kate Clifford mysteries, are set in late medieval York. The Margaret Kerr trilogy is set in early 14th century Scotland, at the beginning of the Wars of Independence. Two standalone novels (published under pseudonym Emma Campion) expand on the lives of two women in the court of King Edward III who have fascinated me ever since I first encountered them in history and fiction. I am a dreamer. Writing, gardening, walking, dancing, reading, being with friends—there’s always a dreaming element.

Website | Facebook | Twitter  | BookBub


Giveaway

During the Blog Tour, we are giving away a Hardcover copy of A Conspiracy of Wolves by Candace Robb! To enter, please use the Gleam form below. Giveaway Rules – Giveaway ends at 11:59 pm EST on August 15th. You must be 18 or older to enter. – Giveaway is open to the US only. – Only one entry per household. – All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspicion of fraud will be decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion. – The winner has 48 hours to claim prize or a new winner is chosen. Conspiracy of Wolves

Saturday, August 10, 2019

Review: Raymie Nightingale by Kate DiCamillo

Two-time Newbery Medalist Kate DiCamillo returns to her roots with a moving, masterful story of an unforgettable summer friendship.

 Raymie Clarke has come to realize that everything, absolutely everything, depends on her. And she has a plan. If Raymie can win the Little Miss Central Florida Tire competition, then her father, who left town two days ago with a dental hygienist, will see Raymie's picture in the paper and (maybe) come home. To win, not only does Raymie have to do good deeds and learn how to twirl a baton; she also has to contend with the wispy, frequently fainting Louisiana Elefante, who has a show-business background, and the fiery, stubborn Beverly Tapinski, who’s determined to sabotage the contest.

 But as the competition approaches, loneliness, loss, and unanswerable questions draw the three girls into an unlikely friendship — and challenge each of them to come to the rescue in unexpected ways.

 Paperback, 272 pages
Published May 1st, 2017
by Walker Books Australia
****

I read this book in anticipation the third book in series, Beverly, Right Here coming out next month. Last year I read book 2 in series Louisiana’s Way Home - talk about reading books way out of order. But no big deal each works just fine as a stand-alone. But once you start with one you will want to read more.

As you can read from the synopsis, not just Raymie is on a mission but Louisiana and Beverly as well.  It’s Raymie that I got a clearer picture of this time around. A confused girl who just wants her dad back, to have him show he cares and what better way than to win a contest that will make her famous.

Each of these girls - Raymie, Louisiana, and Beverly has a quirky way of thinking, with actions that just confirm it. The journey is comical at times, full of innocence and drive. It’s their ‘I don’t care what anyone thinks’ attitude that kept me entertained.

I’ve read a number of Kate DiCamillo books, it's her writing style that I have come to love, her way with words that make me smile and characters that are hard to forget.  I recommend her books whenever I get the chance.

This book is part of my 2019 reading off my shelf challenge.

 clicking on the cover will take you to my review


Friday, August 9, 2019

Review: You Go First by Erin Entrada Kelly

Funny and poignant, You Go First by 2018 Newbery Medalist Erin Entrada Kelly is an engaging exploration of family, spelling, art, bullying, and the ever-complicated world of middle school friendships. Erin Entrada Kelly’s perfectly pitched tween voice will resonate with fans of Kate DiCamillo’s Raymie Nightingale and Thanhha Lai’s Inside Out and Back Again.

 Twelve-year-old Charlotte Lockard and eleven-year-old Ben Boxer are separated by more than a thousand miles. On the surface, their lives seem vastly different—Charlotte lives near Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, while Ben is in the small town of Lanester, Louisiana. Charlotte wants to be a geologist and keeps a rock collection in her room. Ben is obsessed with Harry Potter, presidential history, and recycling. But the two have more in common than they think. They’re both highly gifted. They’re both experiencing family turmoil. And they both sit alone at lunch.

 Over the course of a week, Charlotte and Ben—online friends connected only by a Scrabble game—will intersect in unexpected ways as they struggle to navigate the turmoil of middle school. You Go First reminds us that no matter how hard it is to keep our heads above troubled water, we never struggle alone.

The acclaimed author of Blackbird Fly, The Land of Forgotten Girls, and Hello, Universe writes with an authentic, humorous, and irresistible voice. This engaging and character-driven story about growing up and finding your place in the world will appeal to fans of Rebecca Stead and Rita Williams-Garcia.

Paperback, 288 pages
 Published April 10th, 2018
 by Greenwillow Books
****

I was first introduced to Erin Entrada Kelly with her Newberry award-winning book Hello, Universe. I loved her writing, her likable characters, and prose that kept me entertained.

You Go First touches on many relevant social issues - bullying, acceptance, divorce, and health that showed the struggle kids go through and how they dealt with them. With feelings of loneliness, guilt, and fear this book brings these issues to lite. This isn't a doom and gloom read, with the middle-grade reader as its targeted audience this adult found it comical at times, with an authentic plot and entertaining.

I can’t say if all issues are resolved by the end of the book, but then in real life it is a process, it’s the self-discovery and confidence that propels one forward a step at a time.

Definitely a book and author I recommend.