Friday, August 17, 2018

Spotlight: A.B. Michaels' Golden City Series

The Art of Love (Golden City, Book 1) by A.B. Michaels

Publication Date: May 4, 2014
Genre: Historical Fiction/Romance
A Notable Indie Book of 2014 Silver Ippy Award New Apple Medalist Editor’s Choice – Idaho Book Awards

At the end of the Gilded Age, the “Golden City” of San Francisco offers everything a man could want—except the answers August Wolff desperately needs to find.

After digging a fortune in gold from the frozen fields of the Klondike, Gus heads south, hoping to start over and put the baffling disappearance of his wife and daughter behind him. The turn of the century brings him even more success, but the distractions of a city some call the new Sodom and Gomorrah can’t fill the gaping hole in his life.

Amelia Starling is a wildly talented artist caught in the straightjacket of Old New York society. Making a heart-breaking decision, she moves to San Francisco to further her career, all the while living with the pain of a sacrifice no woman should ever have to make.

 Brought together by the city’s flourishing art scene, Gus and Lia forge a rare connection. But the past, shrouded in mystery, prevents the two of them from moving forward as one. Unwilling to face society’s scorn, Lia leaves the city and vows to begin again in Europe.

Gus can’t bear to let her go, but unless he can set his ghosts to rest, he and Lia have no chance at all.

Amazon | Barnes and Noble | Kobo

The Depth of Beauty (Golden City, Book 2) by A.B. Michaels

Publication Date: January 6, 2016
Genre: Historical Fiction/Romance
A Notable Indie Book of 2016 2017 RITA Finalist – “Mainstream Fiction with a Central Romance” Bookstores without Borders Lyra Award for Historical Fiction Chanticleer Book Reviews Goethe Award – First in Category: North American Turn of the Century

In 1903 San Francisco’s Chinatown, slavery, polygamy, and rampant prostitution are thriving— just blocks away from the city’s elite, progressive society.

Wealthy and well-connected, Will Firestone enters the mysterious enclave with an eye toward expanding his shipping business. What he finds there will astonish him. With the help of an exotic young widow and a gifted teenage orphan, he embarks on a journey of self-discovery, where lust, love and tragedy will change his life forever.

A stand-alone novel, The Depth of Beauty is the latest addition to the dual genre series, “Sinner’s Grove,” which chronicles the family and friends of a world-famous artists’ retreat on the northern California coast. The stories follow both historical and contemporary tracks and can be read separately or together for greater depth. Other titles in the series include the award-winning The Art of Love, Sinner’s Grove and The Lair.

Amazon | Barnes and Noble | Kobo

The Promise (Golden City, Book 3) by A.B. Michaels

Publication Date: June 24, 2016
Genre: Historical Fiction/Romance
April 18, 1906. A massive earthquake has decimated much of the Golden City, leaving thousands without food, water or shelter. Patrolling the streets to help those in need, Army corporal Ben Tilson meets a young woman named Charlotte who touches his heart, making him think of a future with her in it. In the heat of the moment he makes a promise to her little sister that even he realizes will be almost impossible to keep.

Because on the heels of the earthquake, a much worse disaster looms: a fire that threatens to consume everything and everyone in its path. It will take everything Ben’s got to make it back to Charlotte and her family—and even that may not be enough.

The Promise, a stand-alone novella, is the third offering in A.B. Michaels’ award-winning historical saga, “The Golden City,” which takes place in and around San Francisco at the turn of the twentieth century. Other books in the series include The Art of Love and The Depth of Beauty.

Amazon | Barnes and Noble | Kobo

The Price of Compassion (Golden City, Book 4) by A.B. Michaels

Publication Date: August 27, 2018
Genre: Historical Fiction/Mystery
April 18, 1906. San Francisco has just been shattered by a massive earthquake and is in the throes of an even more deadly fire.

During the chaos, gifted surgeon Tom Justice makes a life-changing decision that wreaks havoc on his body, mind, and spirit.

Leaving the woman he loves, he embarks on a quest to regain his sanity and self-worth. Yet just when he finds some answers, he’s arrested for murder—a crime he may very well be guilty of. The facts of the case are troubling; they’ll have you asking the question: “Is he guilty?” Or even worse…”What would I have done?”

About the Author

A native of northern California, A.B. Michaels earned masters' degrees in history and broadcasting, and worked for many years in public relations and marketing. Now that she's an empty nester, she has time to write the kinds of stories she loves to read. Her historical series, "The Golden City," follows characters who make their way in turn of the twentieth century San Francisco. "I love creating flawed characters I can relate to, who have to make difficult choices, and who long for happiness like the rest of us. So much was happening in the early 1900's that help shape my novels. Once I tear myself away from the underlying research, they are fascinating stories to write."

Currently Ms. Michaels lives in Boise, Idaho with her husband and two furry creatures who are unclear on the concept that they are just dogs. In addition to writing, she loves to read and travel. A dabbler in fabric art, she also plays bocce in a summer league. Her latest stand-alone novel, "The Price of Compassion," is Book Four of the "Golden City" series. It's scheduled for release this summer and will be followed by Book Five, "Josephine's Daughter."

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest | Goodreads


Book Blast Schedule

Monday, August 13 Passages to the Past Tuesday, August 14 Naomi Finley's Blog Wednesday, August 15 What Is That Book About Thursday, August 16 To Read, Or Not to Read Friday, August 17 CelticLady's Reviews Just One More Chapter Saturday, August 18 Broken Teepee Sunday, August 19 Maiden of the Pages Monday, August 20 Pursuing Stacie Clarissa Reads It All Tuesday, August 21 A Book Geek Wednesday, August 22 Creating Herstory The Book Junkie Reads Thursday, August 23 Katie's Book Cave Friday, August 24 The Book Review Donna's Book Blog


The Golden City Series is on Sale!

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Audio Review: The Pirate Bride (Daughters of the Mayflower #2) by Kathleen Y'Barbo

A Former Privateer and a Desperate Heiress Join Forces to Find a Treasure Jump on board with a brand new series for fans of all things related to history, romance, adventure, faith, and family trees.

One hundred years after her mother's family came to the New World on the Mayflower, Maribel Cordova has landed in New Orleans to seek the man who holds the key to finding her father’s lost treasure. Attorney Jean-Luc Valmot has buried his past life so deep that no living person will ever find it—or so he hopes as he accepts a position on the governor’s staff. But the daughter of an infamous pirate threatens all he holds dear. Can Maribel and Jean-Luc compromise so they both can hold onto what they most desire?

Join the adventure as the Daughters of the Mayflower series continues with The Pirate Bride by Kathleen Y’Barbo.
More to come in the Daughters of the Mayflower series: The Mayflower Bride by Kimberley Woodhouse
– set 1620 Atlantic Ocean (coming February 2018) The Pirate Bride by Kathleen Y’Barbo
– set 1725 New Orleans (coming April 2018) The Captured Bride by Michelle Griep
– set 1760 during the French and Indian War (coming June 2018) The Patriot Bride by Kimberley Woodhouse
– set 1774 Philadelphia (coming August 2018)​ The Cumberland Bride by Shannon McNear
– set 1794 on the Wilderness Road (coming October 2018) The Liberty Bride by MaryLu Tyndall
– set 1814 Baltimore (coming December 2018)

 Paperback, 251 pages
Published April 1st 2018
by Barbour Books
***

Book 2 in the Daughters of the Mayflower series, The Pirate Bride was a relatively quick read - coming in at 251 pages . Maribel Córdoba is a precocious 10 year old in love with reading and pirates.

Her adventure on the high sea sets the course and concludes when she is a young woman in New Orleans. I won’t go into details about the in between time suffice to say her life takes a direction in the least expected way.

The Pirate Bride is a story of mystery, adventure, new beginnings and faith. This works well as a stand-alone with Mirabel being a descendant of the heroine in Book 1, The Mayflower Bride. The series continues with The Captive Bride (already released).

Kathleen Y’Barbo is a new author for me, I enjoyed her writing style, she captured the essence of the high sea and lifestyle of the era. Definitely a series I will continue to read.

My thanks to the publisher via Netgalley for an copy of this book, though due to personal issues I went the audio route (via Hoopla)

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Spotlight/Giveaway: Tiffany Blues by M.J. Rose

Tiffany Blues by M.J. Rose

Publication Date: August 7, 2018
Atria Books
Hardcover & eBook; 336 Pages
ISBN: 978-1501173592
Genre: Historical Fiction

New York, 1924.

Twenty‑four‑year‑old Jenny Bell is one of a dozen burgeoning artists invited to Louis Comfort Tiffany’s prestigious artists’ colony. Gifted and determined, Jenny vows to avoid distractions and romantic entanglements and take full advantage of the many wonders to be found at Laurelton Hall. But Jenny’s past has followed her to Long Island. Images of her beloved mother, her hard-hearted stepfather, waterfalls, and murder, and the dank hallways of Canada’s notorious Andrew Mercer Reformatory for Women overwhelm Jenny’s thoughts, even as she is inextricably drawn to Oliver, Tiffany’s charismatic grandson.

As the summer shimmers on, and the competition between the artists grows fierce as they vie for a spot at Tiffany’s New York gallery, a series of suspicious and disturbing occurrences suggest someone knows enough about Jenny’s childhood trauma to expose her.

Supported by her closest friend Minx Deering, a seemingly carefree socialite yet dedicated sculptor, and Oliver, Jenny pushes her demons aside. Between stolen kisses and stolen jewels, the champagne flows and the jazz plays on until one moonless night when Jenny’s past and present are thrown together in a desperate moment, that will threaten her promising future, her love, her friendships, and her very life.

Amazon | Barnes and Noble | Books-a-Million | IndieBound


Praise for Tiffany Blues

“A lush, romantic historical mystery with a unique setting. Tiffany Blues explores an interesting lost bit of American history and gives us a heroine to root for." Kristin Hannah, New York Times bestselling author of The Nightingale

 “A fascinating novel about a young, struggling artist mentored by the celebrated jeweler and stained-glass creator Louis Comfort Tiffany. Tiffany Blues brings together an enchanting glimpse of Jazz Age New York and an inspired fictional story about Jenny Bell and the terrible secret she's hiding.” Christina Baker Kline, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Orphan Train and A Piece of the World

"The New York Times bestselling author of The Library of Light and Shadow crafts a dazzling Jazz Age jewel—a novel of ambition, betrayal, and passion about a young painter whose traumatic past threatens to derail her career at a prestigious summer artists’ colony run by Louis Comfort Tiffany of Tiffany & Co. fame. “[M.J. Rose] transports the reader into the past better than a time machine could accomplish” —The Associated Press

"M.J. Rose must have plunged her pen into a vale of tears, radiance, and crime to write this novel. Tiffany Blues melds a tragic mother-daughter relationship, the shimmer of Tiffany’s creations, the jolting life of artists and their shocking jealousy, in a captivating story that illuminates how far we'll go for love. MJ Rose broke this reader’s heart and then, as though using the ancient art of Kintsugi, healed me by sealing the future with golden veins of hope." —Randy Susan Meyers, International Bestselling Author

"Intriguing... [Rose's] best creation yet." —Publishers Weekly "Intricate plotting, sensuous descriptions... captivating. A lush, mesmerizing story." —Kirkus "Rose keeps readers spellbound... with a touch of Gatsby-esque flavor and opulence and a research-rich mix of facts and fiction." —Library Journal - Starred review

Rose's talent for delivering believable characters and plot shines in her latest novel...Readers are in for a treat and the jaw-dropping climax well have them enthralled." —RT Book Reviews "A stunning look at the Jazz Age, told in M.J. Rose's inimitable style." —PopSugar 25 Best Summer Books

About the Author

New York Times Bestseller, M.J. Rose grew up in New York City mostly in the labyrinthine galleries of the Metropolitan Museum, the dark tunnels and lush gardens of Central Park and reading her mother's favorite books before she was allowed. She believes mystery and magic are all around us but we are too often too busy to notice... books that exaggerate mystery and magic draw attention to it and remind us to look for it and revel in it.

 Rose's work has appeared in many magazines including Oprah Magazine and she has been featured in the New York Times, Newsweek, WSJ, Time, USA Today and on the Today Show, and NPR radio. Rose graduated from Syracuse University, spent the '80s in advertising, has a commercial in the Museum of Modern Art in NYC and since 2005 has run the first marketing company for authors - Authorbuzz.com

 Her most recent novel THE LIBRARY OF LIGHT AND SHADOW (Atria/S&S) was chosen as an Indie Next Pick. The television series PAST LIFE, was based on Rose's novels in the Reincarnationist series. She is one of the founding board members of International Thriller Writers. Rose lives in CT with her husband the musician and composer, Doug Scofield.

 For more information, please visit her website and her blog, Museum of Mysteries.

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


Giveaway

During the Blog Tour we will be giving away a Louis Comfort Tiffany glass paperweight from the Metropolitan Museum of Artder!

To enter, please enter via the Gleam form below.

 Giveaway Rules
 – Giveaway ends at 11:59pm EST on September 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.

  Tiffany Blues

Spotlight/Giveaway: Island on Fire by Sophie Schiller

Island on Fire by Sophie Schiller

Publication Date: March 15, 2018
Paperback & eBook; 270 Pages
ISBN-13: 978-1986210782
Genre: Fiction/Historical/Thriller

In the lush, tropical world of Martinique where slavery is a distant memory and voodoo holds sway, Emilie Dujon discovers that her fiancé, a rich sugar planter, has been unfaithful.

Desperate to leave him, she elicits the aid of a voodoo witch doctor and is lured into a shadowy world of black magic and extortion. When the volcano known as Mount Pelée begins to rumble and spew ash, she joins a scientific committee sent to investigate the crater.

During the journey she meets Lt. Denis Rémy, an army officer with a mysterious past. At the summit, the explorers discover that a second crater has formed and the volcano appears to be on the verge of eruption. But when they try to warn the governor, he orders them to bury the evidence for fear of upsetting the upcoming election. As the pressure builds, a deadly mudslide inundates Emilie’s plantation and she disappears. With ash and cinders raining down, chaos ensues. Left with no choice, Lt. Rémy deserts his post and sets off on a desperate quest to rescue Emilie.

 But with all roads blocked, can they escape the doomed Pompeii of the Caribbean before it’s too late?

Amazon | Barnes and Noble | IndieBound


Sophie Schiller was born in Paterson, NJ and grew up in the West Indies. She loves stories that carry the reader back in time to exotic and far-flung locations. Kirkus Reviews called her "an accomplished thriller and historical adventure writer”. Her latest novel is Island on Fire, a thriller about the worst volcanic disaster of the 20th century. She was educated at American University, Washington, DC and lives in Brooklyn, NY. 

For more information, please visit Sophie Schiller's website

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




During the Blog Tour we will be giving away a copy of Island on Fire to one lucky reader! To enter, please enter via the Gleam form below.

Giveaway Rules
– Giveaway ends at 11:59pm EST on August 14th. 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.

  Island on Fire


Thursday, August 2, 2018

Audio Review: The Masterpiece by Francine Rivers

New York Times bestselling author Francine Rivers returns to her romance roots with this unexpected and redemptive love story, a probing tale that reminds us that mercy can shape even the most broken among us into an imperfect yet stunning masterpiece.

A successful LA artist, Roman Velasco appears to have everything he could possibly want―money, women, fame. Only Grace Moore, his reluctant, newly hired personal assistant, knows how little he truly has. The demons of Roman’s past seem to echo through the halls of his empty mansion and out across his breathtaking Topanga Canyon view. But Grace doesn’t know how her boss secretly wrestles with those demons: by tagging buildings as the Bird, a notorious but unidentified graffiti artist―an alter ego that could destroy his career and land him in prison.

Like Roman, Grace is wrestling with ghosts and secrets of her own. After a disastrous marriage threw her life completely off course, she vowed never to let love steal her dreams again. But as she gets to know the enigmatic man behind the reputation, it’s as if the jagged pieces of both of their pasts slowly begin to fit together . . . until something so unexpected happens that it changes the course of their relationship―and both their lives―forever.

Audiobook, 15 hours, 54 minutes
Published February 6th 2018
by Tyndale House Publisher
 *****

While I am not a big fan of romance novels there are some authors on my ‘auto read’ list no matter the genre. Francine Rivers is one such author, her Mark of the Lion Series is an all time favourite. Some of her other books that I’ve read many years ago (The Scarlet Thread, The Atonement Child and Redeeming Love) are ones that have never left me.

There are some books that work great in audio format and others not so much. The Masterpiece works great in audio, with 2 different readers (one male, one female - because who wants to listen to a female reading a male role?). It’s not a short book coming in at 15 plus hours so there was plenty of time for the author to develop the characters, get to know them and learn what makes them tick.

I loved the story, realistic and raw, heartbreaking and a true picture of those hurting. Both Roman and Grace have ghosts that haunt and secrets they keep to themselves.

The Masterpiece is a story of unfailing love, redemption, and healing. Mesmerizing in its telling that I’m not even sure it would have had the same impact if I read the book verse listening to the audio.

Francine Rivers is an author I have great respect for.  She crosses genres effortlessly, from historical fiction, to contemporary, dual time periods and romance without skipping a beat. Yes her books are faith based, and she doesn't hold back but tells it like it is.

Audiobook obtained via Scribd (and yea one day this book with grace my bookshelves with my other Francine River books).

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Review: Speechless by Jennifer Mook-Sang

 Jelly is as surprised as anyone when he decides that he’s going to win the annual sixth grade speech contest.

Just like that, Joe Alton Miles, better known as Jelly (because his initials are J.A.M. and his best friend’s are P.B.), is faced with overcoming not only his terror of being in the spotlight, but also the wrath of smart, popular Victoria, who believes that the prize (like all prizes) is rightfully hers. At first, Jelly only cares about winning the awesome prize (a new tablet), but as Victoria escalates her campaign against him, Jelly begins to realize that it’s not only the prize that’s at stake, but also his reputation, his self-respect and the friendship he values most. Jelly must dig deep inside himself to find out if he’s strong enough to stand up to Victoria and show everyone what he’s really capable of.

Hilariously funny and just as poignant, Speechless is about finding out who your friends are, giving back, standing up to bullying and finding your own unique voice

Paperback, 159 pages
Published September 1st 2015
 by Scholastic
*****

I was introduced to this book and author during a writing class I was taking on Kid Lit. Though I have always been a lover of MG & YA Books, this was one I was unfamiliar with. It was great to meet the author and listen to her talk about her writing process and how Speechless came to be.

 Speechless was such a fun read. It was a funny, a quirky story about a boy named Jelly. It’s a clever situation that gets the story rolling and the momentum is solid throughout this book. Armed with ambition and determination Jelly grows and learns a lot as he strives to win this contest. From food bank education, stepping out of ones comfort zone and good old fashioned guts Jelly works towards his goal even with the stumbling blocks he encounters.

 Speechless is a story of bullying, friendship and discovering one self, presented in a way to keep middle grade kids attention and even entertaining for this adult.

 Paperback book from my personal library

Sunday, July 29, 2018

Spotlight/Giveaway: Last Dance in Kabul by Ken Czech

Last Dance in Kabul by Ken Czech

Publication Date: August 2, 2018
Fireship Press
Paperback & eBook; 306 Pages
Genre: Action & Adventure/Historical/Romance/War & Military

The Ultimate Dance Between Love and War When his superiors ignore his warnings of an impending Afghan insurrection in 1841, British army captain Reeve Waterton vows never to return to Kabul. But then he rescues strong-willed Sarah Kane from an ambush and his plans for civilian life and self-preservation unravel around him. At first Reeve dislikes Sarah as much as she loathes him. She's as impudent and disdainful of authority as he, plus she's betrothed to his bitterest rival.

It's only after Reeve's closest friend is brutally murdered and the Afghan tribes explode in revolt that he and Sarah discover their desperate need for each other. When the retreating British army is caught between the jaws of Afghanistan's blizzard-wracked mountain passes and hordes of vengeful tribesmen, Sarah and Reeve must rely on their skills, courage, and blossoming love just to survive.

Amazon | Barnes and Noble | IndieBound


Praise for Last Dance in Kabul


“Reeve Waterton, a dashing rogue, is a true hero who stands among the most valiant officers of British fiction. Sarah Kane is an assertive woman assured of her own mind yet vulnerable in her heart. Together they spark the blaze that energizes Last Dance in Kabul.” —Rex Griffin, historical writer

“You won't find two more compelling characters than Reeve Waterton and Sarah Kane. I love them. I rooted for them to survive and work things out from the third chapter until the exciting conclusion. Their story was so expertly woven between survival and romance that I found it difficult to pull myself away from it.” —Ray Simmons, for Reader's Favorite

 “Last Dance in Kabul is a war story; a story of life and death; a story of love and hate, and it is a very good read. I was pulled back to 1841 and dropped in the middle of the Afghan insurrection.” –Trudi LoPreto for Reader's Favorite

 “[The] character development is impeccable and the conflict gives the story its powerful depth and emotional intensity. Last Dance in Kabul is a captivating, well-plotted and beautifully paced novel.” —Christian Sia, for Reader's Favorite


About the Author

Dr. Ken Czech is a retired history professor and an internationally recognized authority on the historical literature of exploration and sport. His passion, however, has turned to writing fiction. He and his wife Mary live in Central Minnesota on an abandoned granite quarry. For more information, please visit Ken’s website. You can also find him on FacebookAmazon and Goodreads.



Giveaway

During the Blog Tour we will be giving away a paperback copy of Last Dance in Kabul! To enter, please enter via the Gleam form below.

  Giveaway Rules – Giveaway ends at 11:59pm EST on July 31st.
 – Giveaway is open to US residents only.
 Last Dance in Kabul
click on banner for more stops on this tour

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Audio Review: Winter Garden by Kristin Hannah

Meredith and Nina Whitson are as different as sisters can be. One stayed at home to raise her children and manage the family business; the other followed a dream and traveled the world to become a famous photojournalist. But when their beloved father falls ill, these two estranged sisters will find themselves together again, standing alongside their disapproving mother, Anya, who even now offers no comfort to her daughters. On his deathbed, their father extracts a promise: Anya will tell her daughters a story; it is one she began years ago and never finished. This time she will tell it all the way to the end.

The tale their mother tells them is unlike anything they’ve heard before—a captivating, mysterious love story that spans more than sixty years and moves from frozen, war-torn Leningrad to modern-day Alaska. Nina’s obsession to uncover the truth will send them all on an unexpected journey into their mother’s past, where they will discover a secret so shocking, it shakes the foundation of their family and changes who they believe they are.

Mesmerizing from beginning to end, Winter Garden is that rarest of novels — at once an epic love story and an intimate portrait of women poised at the crossroads of their lives. Evocative, lyrically written, and ultimately uplifting, it will haunt the listener long after the last word is spoken.

Audible Audio, Unabridged
 Published January 14th 2010
by Brilliance Audio
 14 hours, 43 minutes
*****

Peer pressure drove me to the Winter Garden. With so many raving about The Nightingale and The Great Alone, readers were also saying great things about this book. It must have been an audible special at one time and has been sitting patiently waiting in my library. I didn’t read the blurb just jumped in blind.

I didn’t know what to expect and as the story progressed I heard a hard time putting it down. The fairy tale aspect was a unique idea, even though I kinda sensed the direction where that was going.  With the POV's from 2 sisters and the fairy tale Winter Garden is a book of secrets, forgiveness and healing.  It's a part of Russian history I am unfamiliar with, showing with vivid descriptions what the citizens of Leningrad endured.

Whether I would have enjoyed this as much if I read (verses audio) it, it's a story that will stay with me.  Kristin Hannah has cemented herself into my 'read new book upon release' author.



Monday, July 23, 2018

Review: Beyond the Orchard by Anna Romer

A haunting story of yearning, love and betrayal from the bestselling author of Thornwood House

 Lucy Briar has arrived home in turmoil after years overseas. She’s met her fiancé in London and has her life mapped out, but something is holding her back.

 Hoping to ground herself and find answers, Lucy settles into once familiar routines. But old tortured feelings flood Lucy’s existence when her beloved father, Ron, is hospitalised and Morgan – the man who drove her away all those years ago – seeks her out. Worse, Ron implores Lucy to visit Bitterwood Estate, the crumbling historic family guesthouse now left to him. He needs Lucy to find something– an old photograph album, the very thing that drove Ron and his father apart.

 Lucy has her own painful memories of Bitterwood, darkness that has plagued her dreams since she was young. But as Lucy searches for the album, the house begins to give up its ghosts and she is driven to put them to rest.

 And there, held tightly between the house, the orchard and the soaring cliffs, Lucy uncovers a long-hidden secret that shattered a family’s bond and kept a frightened young girl in its thrall ... and Lucy discovers just how fierce the lonely heart can be.

 Paperback, 464 pages
Published November 1st 2016
 by Simon & Schuster
**** 

 I always cringe when an author is compared to Kate Morton, those are mighty fine boots to fill and to me it’s just a setup for disappointment. That being said Australian author Anna Romer did not disappoint, this is her third book and I've loved the previous two, The Thornwood House and Lyrebird Hill.

Beyond the Orchard is a dual time period book, with an Australian setting - one of my favourite places (and on my bucket list). With an old house set high on a cliff there is a mysterious ice house that sets the tone, the opening chapter was enough to suck me right in.

Weaving back and forth in time, from the 1930’s and current day, the different characters come to life. There are a number of characters and many layers here but they all work well together with no problem keep track of the story. If anything I was so engrossed that I didn’t realize this until I started writing this up.

Beyond the Orchard is a story of guilt, hidden secrets and family dynamics. It had that Gothic and fairy tale feel that I love. The story unfolded at a great pace it kept me captivated and curious with its twists and turns.

Definitely one of my favourite authors that I discovered when searching Australian settings.

Beyond the Orchard is from my personal library (hard to find in Canada but audible has Anna Romer in audio format) and part of my ‘reading my shelf challenge’


click on cover to take you to may review

Friday, July 20, 2018

Audio Review: The Daughters of Ireland (Deverill Chronicles #2) by Santa Montefiore

International sensation Santa Montefiore presents the second book in her romantic and unforgettable Deverill Chronicles trilogy, which follows three Irish women through the decades of the twentieth century—perfect for fans of Beatriz Williams and Kate Morton.

 Perched majestically atop the lush emerald hills of West Cork, Ireland, Castle Deverill has been the home to several generations of the Deverills. But when the castle fell prey to a devastating attack during the Irish revolt, the ancestral home’s survival was at stake—until Celia Mayberry and her husband buy the estate and vow to restore Castle Deverill to its former glory. For Celia, the castle holds many fond childhood memories when she ran through its vast halls with her cousin Kitty Deverill and their cherished friend Bridie Doyle.

 But not everyone is elated. Although Kitty is grateful to her cousin for purchasing the manor and ensuring it will remain in the family, she cannot help but be wistful for the days when she was the mistress of Castle Deverill. While she is content in her new life with her husband Robert and her adopted son JP, her heart still yearns for Jack O’Leary—the man she cannot have. As Kitty struggles with her choices, she must make a heartbreaking decision that could bring her the greatest joy, but hurt those closest to her.

 Now wealthy and the toast of the town in New York City, Bridie Doyle has come a long way since she was a young girl in Ireland and the daughter of one of the maids at Castle Deverill. But all her money cannot ease the pain over giving away her baby. When she finds love, she is tempted to return to her beloved homeland—even if it means she will have to face the woman she still longs to seek revenge against.

 As Celia wastes no time, or expense, in hiring workers to renovate Castle Deverill—even when the country soon finds itself in the midst of the Great Depression—she has no idea that her world is about to be shattered. Now everything that felt so certain is cast into doubt as this daughter of Ireland must find the inner strength to build a new future.

 “Nobody does epic romance like Santa Montefiore. Everything she writes, she writes from the heart.”—Jojo Moyes, New York Times bestselling author of Me Before You

 Audio Published August 15th 2017
 by HarperCollins (first published July 14th 2016)
****

Book 2 in Santa Montefiore’s Deverill Chronicles Series, this book is also known as Daughters of Castle Deverill.

I loved Songs of Love and War (The Girl in the Castle) and while it had a fitting conclusion there was enough hanging to make me jump right into this one. It picks up right where Songs left off.

Following the lives of Kitty, Bridie and Celia from Ireland, New York City and into Africa, where the past is set to collide with the present. They must be courageous, daring and find their own way.

As author Jojo Moyes states ‘nobody does epic romance like Santa Montifore. Everything she writes, she writes from the heart.” It’s so true, not being a fan of the romance genre she writes multi layered historical stories with a wide cast of characters that aren’t confusing to follow. The plots (yes more than one) are intricate and draws me right in.

Definitely a series I am anxious to continue with and an author that has ranked up there in my ‘must read’ pile.

click on cover to take you to my review

Though the publisher was gracious enough to send me an ARC (via Netgalley) due to personal issues I went the audio route via Audible.