Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Hand of Fire by Judith Starkston

A Novel of Briseis and the Trojan War.

The Trojan War threatens Troy’s allies and the Greek supply raids spread. A young healing priestess, designated as future queen, must defend her city against both divine anger and invading Greeks. She finds strength in visions of a handsome warrior god; will that be enough when the half-immortal Achilles attacks? Hand of Fire, a tale of resilience and hope, blends history and legend in the untold story of Achilles’s famous captive, Briseis.

"In Hand of Fire, Starkston's careful research brings ancient Greece and Troy to life with passion and grace. This haunting and insightful novel makes you ache for a mortal woman, Briseis, in love with a half-god, Achilles, as she fights to make her own destiny in a world of capricious gods and warriors. I devoured this page-turning escape from the modern world!" -- Rebecca Cantrell, New York Times bestselling author of The World Beneath.


Publication Date: September 10, 2014
Fireship Press
Page Count: 330
ISBN 13: 9781611792966
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/22292370-hand-of-fire

The Iliad is one of my favorite books.  There is just something timeless and, of course, poetic about it.  After reading Hand of Fire it is obviously a favorite of Judith Starkston.  She has taken the character of Briseis and created a world where the reader not only gets to know her but sees another side of Achilles as well.  

Using Greek Mythology and the Trojan War a lovely picture has been painted of the bond between Achilles and Briseis. From her upbringing where she was trained as a healer, a wife and future queen she is finally captured by Greek soldiers, Briseis is easy to connect with.  She is a strong character, having suffered much but courageous and daring.

The authors immense knowledge of this time period is evident here with vivid descriptions, strong characters, a smooth writing style and an interesting story. this is a solid debut, leaving me anticipating what the author is working on next. 


Find an excerpt, Q&A, book reviews, ancient recipes, historical background as well as on-going information about the historical fiction community on Starkston’s website  www.JudithStarkston.com

Buy Links:


Amazon UK  
 
 
Itunes  


Link to the tour schedule: Hand of Fire Fireship Press Virtual Tour

Advance Praise:

"But what is the difference between a good historical novel and a brilliant one?
I suggest you read Judith Starkston's Hand of Fire and you'll discover the answer."  Helen Hollick,
Historical Novels Review Editor and author of Forever Queen

"In Hand of Fire, Starkston's careful research brings ancient Greece and Troy to life with passion and grace. This haunting and insightful novel makes you ache for a mortal woman, Briseis, in love with a half-god, Achilles, as she fights to make her own destiny in a world of capricious gods and warriors. I devoured this page-turning escape from the modern world!" -- Rebecca Cantrell, New York Times bestselling author of The World Beneath

“In her portrayal of Briseis, Judith Starkston has cast a bright light on one of the Iliad's most intriguing sub-plots. With her fast-paced story, three-dimensional characters, and fascinating cultural details, Starkston has given historical fiction fans a tale to remember.” –Priscilla Royal, author of Covenant with Hell



Judith-StarkstonJudith Starkston is a classicist (Greek and Latin literature and history), having received her B.A. from the University of California, Santa Cruz and her M.A. from Cornell University. She taught high school English, Latin, and humanities for twenty-one years. Judith fell under the spell of Homer’s Iliad as an undergraduate; the ancient poem later became a perennial favorite among her students. Judith Starkston lives in Phoenix, Arizona with her husband and golden retriever, Socrates. She has two grown children. 


Follow Judith Starkston on FB and Twitter   




The Ship of Brides by Jojo Moyes

From the New York Times bestselling author of Me Before You and One Plus One, a post-WWII story of the war brides who crossed the seas by the thousands to face their unknown futures

1946. World War II has ended and all over the world, young women are beginning to fulfill the promises made to the men they wed in wartime.

In Sydney, Australia, four women join 650 other war brides on an extraordinary voyage to England—aboard HMS Victoria, which still carries not just arms and aircraft but a thousand naval officers. Rules are strictly enforced, from the aircraft carrier’s captain down to the lowliest young deckhand. But the men and the brides will find their lives intertwined despite the Navy’s ironclad sanctions. And for Frances Mackenzie, the complicated young woman whose past comes back to haunt her far from home, the journey will change her life in ways she never could have predicted—forever. 


Published May 27th 2014 by Penguin Books (first published 2005)
my copy provided by netgalley for an honest review
****

My second Jojo Moyes book this year, I loved The Girl You Left Behind and was careful not to let my expectations get too high for this one.  I was not disappointed.  This is a part of history that I actually never realized took place and found it not just entertaining but educational as well.

The story begins in current time period but quickly jumps back to 1946. World War II has ended and 650 war brides begin their journey from Sydney, Australia to  be reunited with their husbands in England.    Focusing on 4 women during this voyage it was hard not to connect with then.  Each wife has a different story to tell and the author did a stellar job describing their different backgrounds and how they ended up on board the HMS Victoria (which is an aircraft carrier and full of naval officers).  This is a six week journey which gives the reader more time to get to know them, to discover their fears and apprehension for the future.  When I sat back and thought about it, 650 Australian born women leaving behind family and friends, traveling so far away to begin a new life in a different country.  I think that I would be more than a little apprehensive.  

This is a very involved story that the author brought to life.  Jojo Moyes used actually diary entries and newspaper clippings to enhance the book and give it the authentic feel for that time period.

When I finished the book I thought that a sequel would be nice, as it would be interesting to see how life turned out in England for these War Brides.


Sunday, September 28, 2014

Spotlight: A Tangled Web by Sandra Schwab (Book Tour)

Lawrence Pelham works as a comic artist for Allan’s Miscellany. A chance meeting with a young woman dressed in mourning changes Pel’s whole life, and without his even knowing, he is thrown into a world of mystery and intrigue, where nothing is as it seems to be—especially not the woman he has given his heart to.
Her whole life Sarah Browne has been told how plain she is, how nondescript, destined to become an old maid. For years she has been her family’s dutiful nursing maid and caretaker, but now a secret inheritance and an encounter with the charming Mr. Pelham seem to offer her a chance to break out of her life of duty and drudgery—if she dares to take it. Yet how could such an interesting, witty man like Mr. Pelham be possibly interested in her boring self?
And so, Sarah soon finds herself entangled in a web of lies and deceit, which might even cost her the love of her life.

Publication Date: July 14, 2014
eBook; 104p
ASIN: B00LXU6EWE
Series: Allan’s Miscellany
Genre: Historical Romance

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Praise for A Tangled Web

“Once again [Schwab] weaves brilliantly researched historical details into a story that not only is irresistibly romantic, but also sparkles with wit. To top it off, she has come up with an enchanting couple that truly earns their happy ending.” ~ Tina Dick, LoveLetter

Praise for The Bride Prize

“The Bride Prize is, in a word, delightful. [...] I smiled for a long time when it was over. I cannot wait until the next installment in this series.” ~ Michelle Boule, www.wanderingeye.com

Allan’s Miscellany Series Titles

Book One: The Bride Prize
Book Two: Falling For a Scoundrel
Book Three: A Tangled Web
Book Four: Devil’s Return

Award-winning author Sandra Schwab started writing her first novel when she was seven years old. Thirty-odd years later, telling stories is still her greatest passion, even though by now she has exchanged her pink fountain pen of old for a black computer keyboard. Since the release of her debut novel in 2005, she has enchanted readers worldwide with her unusual historical romances.

She holds a PhD in English literature and lives in Frankfurt am Main / Germany with a sketchbook, a sewing machine, and an ever-expanding library. Her new series about the fictional magazine Allan’s Miscellany combines her academic research on Victorian periodicals with her love for story-telling.

For more information please visit Sandra Schwab’s website. You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter, and GoodReads.

A Tangled Web: Allan’s Miscellany 1846 Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, September 29
Review at Book Nerd
Spotlight at Just One More Chapter
Tuesday, September 30
Interview at Curling Up With a Good Book
Spotlight at Romantic Historical Reviews
Wednesday, October 1
Spotlight & Giveaway at Peeking Between the Pages
Thursday, October 2
Guest Post at Book Babe
Friday, October 3
Review at Unshelfish
Spotlight at Flashlight Commentary
Monday, October 6
Review at Reading World
Tuesday, October 7
Spotlight at CelticLady’s Reviews
Wednesday, October 8
Guest Post & Giveaway at Historical Tapestry
Thursday, October 9
Spotlight at Historical Fiction Connection
Friday, October 10
Review at Back Porchervations
Spotlight & Giveaway at Susan Heim on Writing

Friday, September 26, 2014

Book Blast & Giveaway: Color Song by Victoria Strauss


By the author of the acclaimed Passion Blue, a Kirkus Reviews Best Teen Book of 2012 and “a rare, rewarding, sumptuous exploration of artistic passion,” comes a fascinating companion novel.

Artistically brilliant, Giulia is blessed – or cursed – with a spirit’s gift: she can hear the mysterious singing of the colors she creates in the convent workshop of Maestra Humilit√†. It’s here that Giulia, forced into the convent against her will, has found unexpected happiness, and rekindled her passion to become a painter – an impossible dream for any woman in 15th century Italy.

But when a dying Humilit√† bequeaths Giulia her most prized possession – the secret formula for the luminously beautiful paint called Passion blue – Giulia realizes she’s in danger from those who have long coveted the famous color for themselves. Faced with the prospect of lifelong imprisonment in the convent, forever barred from painting as a punishment for keeping Humilita’s secret, Giulia is struck by a desperate idea: What if she disguises herself as a boy? 

Could she make her way to Venice and find work as an artist’s apprentice?
Along with the truth of who she is, Giulia carries more dangerous secrets: the exquisite voices of her paint colors and the formula for Humilit√†’s precious blue. And Venice, with its graceful gondolas and twisting canals, its gilded palazzi and masked balls, has secrets of its own. Trapped in her false identity in this dream-like place where reality and reflection are easily confused, where art and ambition, love and deception hover like dense fog, can Giulia find her way?

This compelling novel explores timeless themes of love and illusion, gender and identity as it asks the question: what does it mean to risk everything to follow your true passion?

Publication Date: September 16, 2014
Skyscape (Amazon Children’s Publishing)
Formats: eBook, Paperback, Hardcover
Genre: YA Historical

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Praise for the Novels of Victoria Strauss

“Fantasy elements and a historical setting rich with sensuous detail are satisfying, but it’s Giulia’s achingly real search for her heart’s desire that resonates most today, when millions of girls still have limited choices. A rare, rewarding, sumptuous exploration of artistic passion.” – Kirkus Reviews on PASSION BLUE (Starred Review, a Best Teen Book of 2012)

“Compelling…absorbing…An intriguing historical novel inspired by accounts of women artists in the Italian Renaissance.” – Booklist on PASSION BLUE

“Mysterious dreams, suspense-filled legends, the terror that unfolds as the dig ensues, and the fine characterizations weave together beautifully to make this adventure fantasy a winner.” – Booklist on GUARDIAN OF THE HILLS (Starred Review)

“A rich story about human nature, this fantasy is a thought-provoking page-turner. The characters are deeply etched, and the plot turns are credible yet arresting…A thoroughly enjoyable read.” – Kliatt on THE ARM OF THE STONE

“The plot is complex yet convincing, and the abundant, well-chosen details of the settings–as well as the carefully developed characters–make this high fantasy a superior and original novel.” – Publishers Weekly on THE GARDEN OF THE STONE (Starred Review)


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Amazon
Barnes & Noble
IndieBound

Victoria Strauss is the author of nine novels for adults and young adults, including the STONE duology (THE ARM OF THE STONE and THE GARDEN OF THE STONE), and a historical novel for teens, PASSION BLUE. She has written hundreds of book reviews for magazines and ezines, including SF Site, and her articles on writing have appeared in Writer’s Digest and elsewhere. In 2006, she served as a judge for the World Fantasy Awards.

An active member of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA), she’s co-founder, with Ann Crispin, of Writer Beware, a publishing industry watchdog group that tracks and warns about literary fraud. She maintains the popular Writer Beware website, Facebook page, and blog, for which she was a 2012 winner of an Independent Book Blogger Award. She was honored with the SFWA Service Award in 2009.

She lives in Amherst, Massachusetts.

For more information please visit Victoria’s Strauss’s website. You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and Goodreads.

Color Song Blog Tour & Book Blast Schedule

Monday, September 16
Book Blast at Passages to the Past
Book Blast at The True Book Addict
Tuesday, September 17
Review at Oh the Books
Book Blast at The Maiden’s Court
Wednesday, September 18
Review at Casual Readers
Review at Leeanna.com (Passion Blue)
Thursday, September 19
Review at Leeanna.com
Monday, September 22
Review at Ageless Pages Reviews
Feature at Oh the Books
Tuesday, September 23
Book Blast at Flashlight Commentary
Wednesday, September 24
Review at History from a Woman’s Perspective
Interview at Bibliophilia, Please
Book Blast at Reading Lark
Thursday, September 25
Book Blast at A Book Geek
Friday, September 26
Review at Reading Room Book Reviews
Book Blast at Just One More Chapter
Monday, September 29
Review at Tribute Books Mama
Interview at Math, Science & Social Studies…Oh My!
Tuesday, September 30
Review at Book Babe
Book Blast at Historical Fiction Connection
Wednesday, October 1
Review & Interview at Bookish
Book Blast at Historical Tapestry
Thursday, October 2
Review at Brooke Blogs
Review at Oh, for the Hook of a Book
Friday, October 3
Review at A Bibliotaph’s Reviews
Book Blast at The Lit Bitch
Saturday, October 4
Book Blast at Susan Heim on Writing
Monday, October 6
Review at WTF Are You Reading?
Book Blast at Let Them Read Books
Tuesday, October 7
Review at A Leisure Moment
Wednesday, October 8
Review at Peeking Between the Pages
Friday, October 10
Review at A Bookish Affair


Giveaways

To enter to win any of the following prizes please complete the form below:
2 Grand Prizes Winners: One Kindle Paperwhite with custom Color Song cover with Color Song and Passion Blue ebooks pre-loaded, plus swag (postcards, bookmarks), and signed paperback editions of Strauss’s Stone duology (The Arm of the Stone and The Garden of the Stone) (US only) 2 winners: Signed hardcovers of Color Song and Passion Blue, plus swag (postcards, bookmarks) (US and Canada)
5 winners: Signed paperbacks of Color Song and Passion Blue, plus swag (postcards, bookmarks) (US and Canada)
Giveaway ends at 11:59pm on October 10th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
Winner will be chosen via Rafflecopter on October 11th and notified via email.
Winner have 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.

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Thursday, September 25, 2014

Interview & Giveaway: Kate Forsyth author of Bitter Greens

Last year Bitter Greens by Kate Forsyth was released in UK and Australia, my impatient self could not wait for a Canadian release so I promptly ordered it from BookDepository.  Today I am thrilled to welcome Kate here.

Be sure to scroll to the bottom of post for your chance to win a copy of this book (US only).

It's no secret of your love for fairy tales and retelling. I noticed on Goodreads that you are working on your doctorate in fairy tale retelling.  It sounds very interesting what exactly does this entail?

Its been such a fascinating Doctorate to undertake. Basically, I've written a mythic biography of Rapunzel, from its earliest pre-literarte roots in what may well have been a matriarchal mythology all the way down to Disney's Tangled. Along the way, I've been interrogating the question of why fairy tales such as Rapunzel endure for so many centuries, when other tales are forgotten and die.


Do your children share you love of fairy tales?

Certainly my daughter does, but then she has the most wonderful collection of beautifully illustrated fairytales and fairytale retellings (I collect them!). My boys, who are teenagers now, used to love me to read fairy tales to them, but have outgrown them now.

Writing seems to run in your family.  I've just started reading The Ivory Rose by Belinda Murrell, your sister.  Your childhood must have been really interesting, did you write/read together? Share (steal) ideas?

I do hope you enjoy Belinda's books and read many more of them. She's a wonderful writer.

We did have a fascinating childhood, surrounded by books and animals and all kinds of adventures. Both of us wrote from a very young age - poems and stories and novels - plus we used to put on plays for our mother. We read all the same books and played games inspired by them, and sometimes we wrote together (but not usually). We never need to steal ideas from each other, we have plenty of our own! Sometimes, though, there are eerie coincidences between our work. We both wrote a timeslip adventure set in Scotland at the same time, for example, and we had to change the titles as they were far too similar. The books themselves are very different though (mine is THE PUZZLE RING, and Belinda's is THE LOCKET OF DREAMS).

Can you see any of your children following in your footsteps?

All of my children are beautiful writers and love to read, but at the moment they have other hopes and dreams. Belinda's daughter Emily is the one who most longs to be a writer! I'm sure she shall make her dreams come true too.


Between your family, your doctorate, workshops you run and reading when do you have time to write?  What's a normal day like for you?

Busy! But I manage because I have an amazingly supportive husband and family (including my sister - we help each other out as much as we can!). I tend to write when my family are at school, and read at night before I go to bed. I turn  social media and email off while I'm writing, and try to do all my teaching and travelling and speaking to certain months of the year, usually after my book has been published. However, all this is easier said than done, and sometimes I wonder myself how I'll ever get any writing done!
 
Kate Forsyth wrote her first novel at the age of seven, and is now the internationally bestselling & award-winning author of thirty books, ranging from picture books to poetry to novels for both adults and children. She was recently voted one of Australia’s Favourite 20 Novelists, and has been called ‘one of the finest writers of this generation. She is also an accredited master storyteller with the Australian Guild of Storytellers, and has told stories to both children and adults all over the world.

Her most recent book for adults is a historical novel called ‘The Wild Girl’, which tells the true, untold love story of Wilhelm Grimm and Dortchen Wild, the young woman who told him many of the world’s most famous fairy tales. Set during the Napoleonic Wars, ‘The Wild Girl’ is a story of love, war, heartbreak, and the redemptive power of storytelling, and was named the Most Memorable Love Story of 2013.
She is probably most famous for ‘Bitter Greens’, a retelling of the Rapunzel fairy tale interwoven with the dramatic life story of the woman who first told the tale, the 17th century French writer, Charlotte-Rose de la Force. ‘Bitter Greens’ has been called ‘the best fairy tale retelling since Angela Carter’, and has been nominated for a Norma K. Hemming Award, the Aurealis Award for Best Fantasy Fiction, and a Ditmar Award.

Her most recent book for children is ‘Grumpy Grandpa’, a charming picture book that shows people are not always what they seem.

Since ‘The Witches of Eileanan’ was named a Best First Novel of 1998 by Locus Magazine, Kate has won or been nominated for numerous awards, including a CYBIL Award in the US. She’s also the only author to win five Aurealis awards in a single year, for her Chain of Charms series – beginning with ‘The Gypsy Crown’ – which tells of the adventures of two Romany children in the time of the English Civil War. Book 5 of the series, ‘The Lightning Bolt’, was also a CBCA Notable Book.

Kate’s books have been published in 14 countries around the world, including the UK, the US, Russia, Germany, Japan, Turkey, Spain, Italy, Poland and Slovenia. She is currently undertaking a doctorate in fairytale retellings at the University of Technology, having already completed a BA in Literature and a MA in Creative Writing.

Kate is a direct descendant of Charlotte Waring, the author of the first book for children ever published in Australia, ‘A Mother’s Offering to her Children’. She lives by the sea in Sydney, Australia, with her husband, three children, and many thousands of books.

For more information please visit Kate Forsyth’s website and blog. You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Goodreads.



Monday, September 15
Guest Post & Giveaway at Passages to the Past
Tuesday, September 16
Review at Kinx’s Book Nook
Review & Giveaway at Bookish
Wednesday, September 17
Review & Giveaway at Literary, etc
Review & Giveaway at Book Drunkard
Thursday, September 18
Review & Giveaway at Build a Bookshelf
Review & Giveaway at The Eclectic Reader
Friday, September 19
Review at The Maiden’s Court
Review & Giveaway at Icey Books
Monday, September 22
Review & Giveaway at Luxury Reading
Review, Excerpt, & Giveaway at A Dream Within a Dream
Spotlight at Flashlight Commentary
Tuesday, September 23
Review at Book Dilettante
Review, Excerpt, & Giveaway at SurLaLune
Wednesday, September 24
Review at Caroline Wilson Writes
Review, Interview, and Giveaway at Ink Gypsy
Review, Interview, and Giveaway at The Lit Bitch
Thursday, September 25
Review & Giveaway at No BS Book Reviews
Interview & Giveaway at Just One More Chapter
Friday, September 26
Review at The Gilmore Guide to Books
Review at Must Read Faster
Monday, September 29
Review at Book Lovers Paradise
Review & Giveaway at Bookworm Blues
Tuesday, September 30
Review at The Life & Times of a Book Addict
Review & Excerpt at Books-n-Kisses
Review & Giveaway at Broken Teepee
Wednesday, October 1
Review at One Book at a Time
Review at Book-alicious Mama
Review & Giveaway at Mina’s Bookshelf
Review & Giveaway at Let Them Read Books
Thursday, October 2
Interview at Layered Pages
Review & Giveaway at Oh Magic Hour
Friday, October 3
Review at Bibliophilia, Please
Review & Giveaway at Gone Pecan
Sunday, October 5
Review at Carole’s Ramblings
Monday, October 6
Review at Book Babe
Review at A Bibliotaph’s Reviews
Interview, Excerpt, & Giveaway at Harlequin Junkie
Tuesday, October 7
Review at A Chick Who Reads
Review & Giveaway at The Pretty Good Gatsby
Wednesday, October 8
Review at So Many Books, So Little Time
Review & Giveaway at My Friends Are Fiction
Thursday, October 9
Review at Jorie Loves a Story
Friday, October 10
Review at Mel’s Shelves
Review & Giveaway at No More Grumpy Bookseller
Interview at Jorie Loves a Story
Monday, October 13
Review at 100 Pages a Day – Stephanie’s Book Reviews
Review & Giveaway at Layers of Thought
Tuesday, October 14
Review & Giveaway at Words and Peace
Review & Giveaway at Beth’s Book Reviews
Wednesday, October 15
Review at Crossroad Review
Review at My Tangled Skeins Book Reviews
Thursday, October 16
Review at Cheryl’s Book Nook
Review at CelticLady’s Reviews
Friday, October 17
Review at Mary Gramlich
Review at She Reads Novels
Monday, October 20
Interview & Giveaway at The Reading Frenzy

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Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Spy Island by Sophie Schiller (Book Tour)

A forbidden friendship that blossoms into love is at the heart of this colorful historical novel.

Abigail Maduro arrives in the Danish West Indies on 1916 to live with her Aunt Esther, a bad tempered spinster, and her houseful of eccentric servants. Despite the island’s veneer of tranquility, St. Thomas is a hotbed of German spies who use their Hamburg-America steamers to aid the Kaiser’s war effort.

When a mysterious stranger suddenly appears in town, Abigail is drawn into the conflict. In the scholarly Erich Seibold, she finds the friendship and love she has been craving, even after she learns that Erich is really a deserter from a German U-boat. But their idyllic interlude comes to a crashing halt when the island’s German consul also discovers Erich’s identity, and blackmails him into committing sabotage. After a melee involving the Danish governor, Erich is thrown into prison, forcing Abigail to risk everything to save him.

Action and adventure abound in this colorful historical novel that brings to life a fading West Indian sugar colony in the last days of Danish rule.

 Publication Date: January 16, 2013
CreateSpace
Formats: eBook, Paperback
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***

"Everyone is Panama is up in arms since they caught a whole nest of German spies."
 The setting of Spy Island is what drew me to read this book.   St. Thomas, that tropical island in the Caribbean, I never realized World War I reached all the way over there.  Or that at one time it was under Danish rule.  That's one of the things I love about reading historical fiction, learning at the same time as being entertained.

It's 1916, Abigail's world has been turned upside down and she is now forced to moved to this island to live with her cranky old aunt.  It didn't take long to realize that this 16 year old likes adventure, intrigue and generally snooping around.  The author knows her island and brought the life style to life.  Abigail finds friendship with Erich and from there the story really evolves. I didn't connect to well with Abigail, I found some of her behaviors out of place, which could very well have been because of her age, but by the end of the book she did mature somewhat.

A unique story with lush setting that will appeal to those that like books off the beaten path and anything to do with World War I.

Praise for Spy Island

Spy Island is an exciting adventure that will keep you on the edge of your seat. I love being immersed in the world of the Caribbean during World War I, I felt like I was looking into a snapshot of the past. This book is full of adventure, exciting twists, just when I thought I had the plot figured out, it would change again. The descriptions, the characters, and the plot of this story all weave together into a tight package of fun that you do not want to miss.” The Howling Turtle Book Reviews

Spy Island is a fun, fast read for any fan of historical fiction and adventure stories.” Lynne Hinkey, author of Marina Melee

Spy Island hits that rare spot for me in historical fiction. Not only is it an entertaining story with lots of movement, but the authentic island feel and early 20th century world surround you. A great read!” Dianna Rostad, Amazon Reviewer

“From the first page, I was instantly thrown into Abby’s world and truly taken aback by the lovely descriptions ranging from those of Panama to those of life at sea to those of the Danish West Indies. Sophie really managed to make me feel like I was right there with the characters in this one and it added a lot to my enjoyment of the book. Spy Island is a thrilling and fast paced novel perfect for fans of historical fiction and mystery.” Lauren’s Crammed Bookshelf Blog

Excerpt

Suddenly, a posse of machete-wielding men appears out of nowhere. They offer to find the shooter and bring him to justice. My heart races as I catch the glimmer of the razor-sharp machetes in their muscular, outstretched arms. These men are after Erich and there’s no way to stop them.
I push my way through the crowd, attempting to flee to the safety of the Grand Hotel. All around me scuffles and brawls erupt among the outraged horde, while panicked faces emerge from windows and doorways, each one trying to make sense out of the confusion and strife. I crane my neck over the commotion, hoping to catch sight of the governor. Thankfully, he is still alive, although dazed with confusion. Two policemen haul him to his feet and lead him to the safety of Fort Christian. Still no sign of Erich anywhere. If Erich was indeed was the shooter, he has simply vanished.
Just then, someone screams, “There he is. Grab him!”
I look up. A dozen natives, all brandishing machetes, take off in hot pursuit of a solitary individual who resembles one of the Cha Cha’s from Frenchtown who is pushing his way across the square in horror. Making out his features is impossible as he has a scarf tied around half his face, rendering him unrecognizable. But by his size and height, I am pretty sure it is Erich. I yell for him to run faster, but my voice is drowned out by the deafening roar of the crowd.
Erich scales a low wall and races down the nearest alleyway with a posse of men in hot pursuit. His pursuers shake their fists indignantly, swearing and yelling out threats as they attempt to catch him. Somehow Erich is faster, remarkably agile and adept at outrunning an angry mob, but I know his life is in great danger. With no thought to my own safety, I chase after the posse, hoping I can somehow help to avert disaster.
Erich races down Norre Gade as if he’s on fire. He climbs up the steps of the Frederick Lutheran Church two at a time. When some of the men catch up with him, he swings around, kicking one in the chest and sending them all toppling backwards like a line of dominoes. Another one catches up with Erich, but receives a blinding punch in the face that sends him rolling down the steps like a broken wheel. Erich shakes his fist, then disappears inside the church, barring the door shut.
Another group of indignant citizens reaches the front door of the church and pounds on it with tremendous anger. They lunge at it, trying to push it open. All their force is no use; Erich has barred it from the inside with an iron rod. Amazingly, while they fumble with the front door, Erich slips out the back with the stealth of a mongoose and heads to the back of town.
I catch sight of him as he races down Kongens Gade, dodging bewildered donkey carts and flustered market women as he runs for his life. Just then, a thought occurs to me that by going through with Lothar Langsdorff’s diabolical plan, Erich has sacrificed his own life to save mine. My heart swells with love for him. Fueled by the hope that I can repay the favor, I follow the trail of angry natives intent on bringing justice down on Erich’s head, yet realizing I may never see him again.

Buy the Book

Amazon US
Amazon UK

Sophie Schiller was born in Paterson, NJ and grew up in the West Indies amid aging pirates and retired German spies. She was educated at American University, Washington, DC and now lives in Brooklyn, NY.

You can find more information on Sophie Schiller and her novels at website. You can also connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Goodreads.

 

 

Spy Island Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, September 15
Review & Giveaway at Queen of All She Reads
Tuesday, September 16
Review at The Librarian Fatale
Spotlight & Giveaway at Let Them Read Books
Wednesday, September 17
Interview at The Maiden’s Court
Thursday, September 18
Review at CelticLady’s Reviews
Spotlight & Giveaway at Passages to the Past
Friday, September 19
Interview & Giveaway at Reading Lark
Monday, September 22
Review at Brooke Blogs
Review at 100 Pages a Day – Stephanie’s Book Reviews
Tuesday, September 23
Review at Just One More Chapter
Spotlight at Flashlight Commentary
Wednesday, September 24
Review at Luxury Reading
Thursday, September 25
Spotlight & Giveaway at So Many Precious Books, So Little Time
Friday, September 26
Review at Princess of Eboli
Review at Svetlana’s Reads and Views

Sunday, September 21, 2014

The Last Breath by Kimberly Belle

From a remarkable new voice in suspenseful women's fiction comes an emotionally searing drama about a woman who risks her life to discover the devastating truth about her family…

Humanitarian aid worker Gia Andrews chases disasters around the globe for a living. It's the perfect lifestyle to keep her far away from her own personal ground zero. Sixteen years ago, Gia's father was imprisoned for brutally killing her stepmother. Now he's come home to die of cancer, and she's responsible for his care—and coming to terms with his guilt.

Gia reluctantly resumes the role of daughter to the town's most infamous murderer, a part complete with protesters on the lawn and death threats that are turning tragedy into front-page news. Returning to life in small-town Tennessee involves rebuilding relationships that distance and turmoil have strained, though finding an emotional anchor in the attractive hometown bartender is certainly helping Gia cope.

As the past unravels before her, Gia will find herself torn between the stories that her family, their friends and neighbors, and even her long-departed stepmother have believed to be real all these years. But in the end, the truth—and all the lies that came before—may have deadlier consequences than she could have ever anticipated…


Paperback, 384 pages
Expected publication: September 30th 2014 by Harlequin MIRA
(galley provided by publisher via netgalley for honest review)
****
It takes more than one person to make a lie - one to say it, and another to believe it.
The cover is what drew me to this book, are you noticing a trend here? Nothing like a gorgeous cover to grab ones attention.  I love the back view, looking out at the world, there is something mystical about it.  She is pondering life, her future and a past that she isn't sure she wants to revisit but resigns herself to the fact that she must.  This is Gia, she is heading back home to face her father, a convicted  murderer.

Kimberly Belle's debut shows a new talent on the horizon.  Beginning with that very first chapter I was hooked.  I was drawn into Gia's world in a way that had me connecting with each of the characters here, Not just Gia but her sister and brother also, how they coped (or didn't cope) with the horrific act that happened 16 years ago.

I really liked the layout of this book.  Told in present day but then jumping back to the past to get glimpses of what actually took place before that fateful night.  There is much going on in this book, it's suspenseful, mysterious and emotional.  How that one act of violence can affect the lives in this small town was played out nicely. The ending was brilliant, lots of twists and turns that had me guessing right till the final page.
  
My point is I was too busy running to notice that no one was behind me.  The only person chasing me was myself.

A solid debut, looking forward to what Kimberly Belle has to offer in the future.

Be sure to check out the authors website,







Thursday, September 18, 2014

Excerpt: The Crystal Cage by Merryn Allingham

Captivated…or captured?

Appearances don’t always reveal the truth. Grace Latimer knows this better than most. Illusions of commitment and comfort have her trapped—until bohemian adventurer Nick Heysham charms his way into her world. Commissioned to recover a Great Exhibition architect’s missing designs, he persuades her to assist in his research. The mystery of the Crystal Palace seduces Grace, and once she discovers clues about a forbidden Victorian love affair, she’s lured into the deep secrets of the past…secrets that resemble her own.

As Grace and Nick dig into the elusive architect’s illicit, long-untold story, the ghosts of guilt and forbidden passion slip free. And history is bound to repeat itself, unless Grace finds the courage to break free and find a new definition of love…


Publication Date: August 4, 2014
eHarlequin
eBook; ASIN: B00JTPU72S
Genre: Historical Romance
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 Excerpt



‘You are very quiet, my love,’ he remarked as they strolled down the South Walk. ‘Does this place perturb you? Vauxhall is hardly the Crystal Palace, I grant.’
She looked vaguely around as though she hardly registered her surroundings. ‘I am well, Lucas, thank you.’ Her voice had lost its rich music.
‘Are you sure?’ 
‘Yes, it is really nothing.’
‘Which means that you are bothered by something. Tell me,’ he urged.
She hesitated for some minutes before saying diffidently, ‘I thought that I recognised someone as I approached the gates. But I must have been mistaken.’
‘Who?’
‘A woman. She looked like a visitor who once came to tea with my mother-in-law. But I must be mistaken,’ she repeated.
‘I think you must. I cannot imagine a friend of the elder Mrs Renville frequenting Vauxhall!’ 
He was cajoling her, quite sure that her nervous state had precipitated these qualms. ‘But just in case, we will hide ourselves completely,’ and he steered her towards one of the small paths that led away from the main promenade towards what he knew was the Dark Walk. Here the lamps were absent and the company very thin. It was not long before he found a small wooden shelter half way up the Walk where they could be entirely alone amid thick darkness.
‘I have news,’ he said, trying to not to betray his excitement. ‘The plans I have been pursuing are now almost certain. I hope to be designing the Carlyon chapel as an architect in my own right.’
She looked at him blankly. Her mind still seemed far away and he had to reiterate, ‘I will be leaving de Vere’s.’
This startled her into words. ‘But without a salary, how will you manage? How will you afford your lodgings?’
‘Once I am working for the earl, I will be able to afford far superior lodgings. So superior they will be good enough to accommodate you.’
‘I will be able to visit you there?’
He clasped her hands tightly between his. ‘You will be able to live with me there.’
‘You are suggesting that I leave my home?’
He could not understand her reluctance but said patiently, ‘We cannot continue to meet like this, Alessia. You must know that. We must have a place to call our own.’
‘But I cannot leave Edward. I am his wife.’
Why did she cling so tenaciously to a life that she despised?  ‘Are you not more my wife than his?’ he asked urgently.
‘But in the eyes of the church…’ Her voice trailed off, disappearing into the night mist.
‘What matters most—our eyes or those of a distant church?’ He was almost fierce in his denunciation.
‘Ours,’ she agreed unhappily.
‘So?’
‘But you cannot have thought—my daughters—’
‘The proceeds of the Carlyon commission will allow me to rent a substantial house. We will have them to live with us.’
‘Edward would never agree.’
‘But surely he would not separate them from their mother.’
‘They are his children and he will wish to keep them. The law is on his side.’
‘I accept that, but if he knows what it means to you to have them?’
‘Can you not understand? They are his children, I am his wife. We belong to him. If I should dare to leave, he will do everything in his power to hurt me.’
The eagerness slowly drained from Lucas and he slumped back against the shelter’s rough wooden wall. She turned to him in anguish, desperately gripping his shoulders. ‘I cannot relinquish my daughters, Lucas. You cannot ask it of me.’
When he responded, his voice held the note of defeat. ‘What you are saying is that you will never come to me.’
A long and painful silence descended between them while Alessia slowly twisted into mangled leather the gloves she held. At length, in a voice hardly above a whisper, she said, ‘I did not say that.’
The words appeared wrenched from her, but they galvanised Lucas. He leant forward again, all his eagerness returned. ‘Then say you will come. Say that you love me enough to do this.’
‘Sometimes,’ she said slowly, ‘I think you do not know just how much I love you.’
‘Then come to me, my darling.’
‘When?’
‘As soon as the Great Exhibition has opened, I will be free to work for Lord Carlyon. I will make all the necessary plans.’
‘And my children?’
‘Once we are settled in our new home, I will request an interview with your husband. I will tell him your need for your daughters and say that everything will be done discreetly. You are not a part of his social world, so who is to know that you no longer live at Wisteria Lodge?’
She shook her head and a look of near despair flooded her lovely face.
‘Alessia!’ he said urgently. ‘It cannot truly matter to Edward Renville whether you live with him or not. It is only his business that he cares for. And as for the children, he will see them whenever he wishes.’
Her continued silence moved him to desperation. ‘If you love me, you will come.’
‘I do, I do,’ she said sobbing into his shoulder.

 

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About the Author

My father was a soldier and most of my childhood was spent moving from place to place, school to school, including several years living in Egypt and Germany. I loved some of the schools I attended, but hated others, so it wasn’t too surprising that I left half way through the sixth form with ‘A’ Levels unfinished.
I became a secretary, as many girls did at the time, only to realise that the role of handmaiden wasn’t for me. Escape beckoned when I landed a job with an airline. I was determined to see as much of the world as possible, and working as cabin crew I met a good many interesting people and enjoyed some great experiences – riding in the foothills of the Andes, walking by the shores of Lake Victoria, flying pilgrims from Kandahar to Mecca to mention just a few.
I still love to travel and visit new places, especially those with an interesting history, but the arrival of marriage and children meant a more settled existence on the south coast of England, where I’ve lived ever since. It also gave me the opportunity to go back to ‘school’ and eventually gain a PhD from the University of Sussex. For many years I taught university literature and loved every minute of it. What could be better than spending my life reading and talking about books? Well, perhaps writing them.
I’ve always had a desire to write but there never seemed time to do more than dabble with the occasional short story. And my day job ensured that I never lost the critical voice in my head telling me that I really shouldn’t bother. But gradually the voice started growing fainter and at the same time the idea that I might actually write a whole book began to take hold. My cats – two stunning cream and lilac shorthairs – gave their approval, since it meant my spending a good deal more time at home with them!
The 19th century is my special period of literature and I grew up reading Georgette Heyer, so when I finally found the courage to try writing for myself, the books had to be Regency romances. Over the last four years, writing as Isabelle Goddard, I’ve published six novels set in the Regency period.
Since then, I’ve moved on a few years to Victorian England, and I’ve changed genre too. The Crystal Cage is my first novel under the name of Merryn Allingham. The book is a mystery/romantic suspense and tells the story of a long-lost tragedy, and the way echoes from the past can powerfully influence the life of a modern day heroine. The next few Allingham books will see yet another move timewise. I’ve been writing a suspense trilogy set in India and wartime London during the 1930s and 1940s, and hope soon to have news of publication.
Whatever period, whatever genre, creating new worlds and sharing them with readers gives me huge pleasure and I can’t think of a better job.
Connect with Merryn Allingham on Facebook and Goodreads.

The Crystal Cage Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, September 15
Review at To Read or Not to Read
Spotlight at Flashlight Commentary
Spotlight & Excerpt at Romantic Historical Reviews
Tuesday, September 16
Review at A Bookish Affair
Excerpt at Casual Readers
Wednesday, September 17
Excerpt at CelticLady’s Reviews
Interview at What Is That Book About
Thursday, September 18
Review at Turning the Pages
Friday, September 19
Review at Queen of All Reads
Excerpt at Just One More Chapter
Monday, September 22
Review at Bibliotica
Spotlight at Layered Pages
Tuesday, September 23
Interview at SOS Aloha
Spotlight at Historical Fiction Connection
Wednesday, September 24
Excerpt at Passages to the Past
Thursday, September 25
Review at Oh, for the Hook of a Book
Excerpt at Princess of Eboli
Friday, September 26
Review at Unshelish
Spotlight at Let Them Read Books
Wednesday, October 15
Review at The Worm Hole

Giveaway

To win an eBook of The Crystal Cage please complete the Rafflecopter giveaway form below. Two copies are up for grabs. Giveaway is open internationally.
Giveaway ends at 11:59pm on October 15th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
Winner will be chosen via Rafflecopter on October 16th and notified via email.
Winner have 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.

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