Sunday, November 23, 2014

The Founder of the House by Naomi Jacob (Book Tour)


02_The Founder of the House Cover
Set in nineteenth century Paris, Vienna and London, this is a novel about family ties and rivalries, love and ambition.

The Founder of the House introduces us to Emmanuel Gollantz, the son of a Jewish antique dealer, Hermann Gollantz.

Hermann lives his life according to the principles of loyalty, honesty and honour instilled in him as a child. But these ideals are ruthlessly exploited by his wife’s family, threatening everything that is important to him. Protecting his beloved wife, Rachel, from the truth carries a great cost.

As a young man, Emmanuel, becomes involved with the inner circle of the Viennese Court, where his passion for the married baroness, Caroline Lukoes, has far-reaching consequences both for himself and the House of Gollantz.

The Founder of the House is the first book in the bestselling Gollantz Saga – an historical family saga tracing the lives and loves of the Gollantz family over several generations. This seven-novel series explores how one family’s destiny is shaped by the politics and attitudes of the time, as well as by the choices and actions of its own members.

Publication Date: August 23, 2014 Corazon Books
eBook; 320p
ASIN: B00MZZDHMQ
Genre: Historical Fiction
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 ****

I love a good saga, a book that transports me to a different time and place that keeps me mesmerized which  is what was The Founder of the House did.  This is book one of a seven book series.   Taking place in the late 1800's this book was actually written in 1925.  Yes there is an different writing style here, but in an enchanting kind of way, more the telling of the story then showing and in this book it works.

There is much going on in this book, discrimination (the Gollantz family are Jewish), the different levels in society as well as relationships - husband/wife, father/son, siblings.  There are twists and turns in this book as well as rich details to the time period in terms of the history, social climate and even the details in antiques that the family sells.  It's quite evident the author knew her stuff and wrote about it in a way that had me visualizing so much. 

I was sad for the ending to arrive and it left me wanting more  Book 2, That Wild Lie is not available yet on kindle, hopefully soon. 

This book will appeal to those that like a good historical family saga that spans generations.

My copy provided by HFVBT as part of this tour.

 

The Gollantz Saga Titles

Book One: Founder of the House
Book Two: That Wild Lie
Book Three: Young Emmanuel
Book Four: Four Generations
Book Five: Private Gollantz
Book Six: Gollantz: London, Paris, Milan
Book Seven: Gollantz & Partners

 

Praise for The Gollantz Saga

“Recommended. Ms Jacob writes skilfully and with that fine professional assurance we have come to expect of her.” The Times
“Impressive.” London Evening Standard
“A good family chronicle.” Kirkus Reviews
“Besides the interest of the plot, Miss Jacob’s book has much to recommend it. The style of the novel is unimpeachable, marked by sincerity, dignity and a sense of the dramatic. I can safely recommend “The Founder of the House.” Western Mail (Perth)

 

Buy the eBook

Amazon US
Amazon UK

03_Naomi Jacob Author

Naomi Jacob (1884-1964) was a prolific author, biographer and broadcaster. She is perhaps best known for her bestselling seven-novel series, The Gollantz Saga, which traces several generations of the Gollantz family in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

Jacob had a mixed heritage, which influenced her life and work. Her paternal grandfather was a Jewish tailor who had escaped the pogroms of Western Prussia and settled in England, while her mother’s family had strong Yorkshire roots. Her maternal grandfather was the two-time mayor of Ripon in Yorkshire. He also owned a hotel in the town. Her father was headmaster of the local school.
Jacob loved the theatre and became a character actress on stage and in film, notably opposite John Geilgud in The Ringer (1936). She also associated with the Du Mauriers, Henry Irving, Marie Lloyd and Sarah Bernhardt.

She published her first novel, “Jacob Usher” in 1925. It became a bestseller.
In 1928 she appeared for the defence of Radclyffe Hall’s “The Well of Loneliness”, and developed a friendship with Hall and her companion Una Troubridge.
After suffering with tuberculosis, in 1930 she left England for Italy, where she lived for most of the rest of her life. She lived in a villa in Sirmione on Lake Garda, which she called “Casa Mickie” (she was known to friends and family as “Mickie”).
In 1935 she was awarded the Eichelberger International Humane Award, for outstanding achievement in the field of humane endeavour, for her novel “Honour Come Back”. She rejected the award when she discovered that another recipient of the award had been Adolf Hitler, for “Mein Kampf”.
Jacob was involved in politics – she stood as a Labour PPC (Prospective Parliamentary Candidate) and was a suffragette.

In 1940, she was evacuated back to England when Italy entered the Second World War. She joined the Entertainments National Service Association, becoming famous for her flamboyant appearance— crew cut hair, and wearing a monocle and First World War Women’s Legion uniform.

She returned to Sirmione before the end of the war, helping Jewish refugees in the town. Over the years, she frequently returned to the UK, and in the 1950s and early 1960s was regularly to be heard on the BBC radio programme “Woman’s Hour”.

She wrote the seven-novel Gollantz saga about several generations of a Jewish family, tracing their path from Vienna in the early nineteenth century to establishing a life and antique business in England in the twentieth century. It is a saga about family loyalty, honour and love, while also reflecting on the politics and ideals of the era.


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The Founder of the House Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, November 10
Spotlight at Passages to the Past
Tuesday, November 11
Interview at Oh, For the Hook of a Book
Wednesday, November 12
Excerpt at The Never-Ending Book
Spotlight at Literary Chanteuse
Friday, November 14
Review at Oh, For the Hook of a Book
Spotlight at CelticLady’s Reviews
Saturday, November 15
Guest Post at Madame Gilflurt
Sunday, November 16
Review at Unshelfish
Monday, November 17
Excerpt at Mina’s Bookshelf
Tuesday, November 18
Spotlight at Mel’s Shelves
Wednesday, November 19
Guest Post at Passages to the Past
Thursday, November 20
Guest Post at Historical Tapestry
Sunday, November 23
Review & Interview at A Bibliophile’s Reverie
Monday, November 24
Review at Just One More Chapter
Wednesday, November 26
Spotlight at What Is That Book About
Thursday, November 27
Review at Book Nerd
Friday, November 28
Review & Excerpt at With Her Nose Stuck in a Book

Friday, November 21, 2014

A Sudden Light by Garth Stein

When a boy tries to save his parents’ marriage, he uncovers a legacy of family secrets in a coming-of-age ghost story by the author of the internationally bestselling phenomenon, The Art of Racing in the Rain.

In the summer of 1990, fourteen-year-old Trevor Riddell gets his first glimpse of Riddell House. Built from the spoils of a massive timber fortune, the legendary family mansion is constructed of giant, whole trees, and is set on a huge estate overlooking Puget Sound. Trevor’s bankrupt parents have begun a trial separation, and his father, Jones Riddell, has brought Trevor to Riddell House with a goal: to join forces with his sister, Serena, dispatch Grandpa Samuel—who is flickering in and out of dementia—to a graduated living facility, sell off the house and property for development into “tract housing for millionaires,” divide up the profits, and live happily ever after.

But Trevor soon discovers there’s someone else living in Riddell House: a ghost with an agenda of his own. For while the land holds tremendous value, it is also burdened by the final wishes of the family patriarch, Elijah, who mandated it be allowed to return to untamed forestland as a penance for the millions of trees harvested over the decades by the Riddell Timber company. The ghost will not rest until Elijah’s wish is fulfilled, and Trevor’s willingness to face the past holds the key to his family’s future.

A Sudden Light is a rich, atmospheric work that is at once a multigenerational family saga, a historical novel, a ghost story, and the story of a contemporary family’s struggle to connect with each other. A tribute to the natural beauty of the Pacific Northwest, it reflects Garth Stein’s outsized capacity for empathy and keen understanding of human motivation, and his rare ability to see the unseen: the universal threads that connect us all.

ebook, 400 pages
Published August 28th 2014 by Simon & Schuster UK 
ebook provided via publisher via netgalley
*** (I liked it)
 Most reviews I've read for this book usually starts the same.  Everyone loved The Art of Racing in the Rain and looked forward to more of Garth Stein.  So that is exactly the case here.  I didn't read a lot of the synopis, just enough to know it's about an old house, mysterious deaths, ghost and a past.  That's my kinda  book!

Whether my expectations were too high, but I struggled somewhat here.  Trevor is a likeable character, he begins his story in current day in his 30's, then narrates at 14 back in 1994.  Then it will jump to 1910 or earlier.  I didn't mind the moving about, it was the method that was disjointed at times.

Some of the other characters I struggled with.  Serena was creepy and just weird, if it was the authors intent to make her that way, he did a good job.

Don't get me wrong, I didn't dislike the book, I finished because I wanted to know the ending, how everything fit together.  But I wasn't so involved that I couldn't put the book down.  The ghost part wasn't as mysterious as I had hoped.

I will continue to read Garth Stein, he has interesting plots, but this one just fell a little flat for what I was expecting.

The Tiger Queens: The Women of Genghis Khan by Stephanie Thornton (Book Tour)

In the late twelfth century on the sweeping Mongolian grasslands, following a violent feud between blood brothers, the victor Temujin ascends to power, declaring himself Genghis Khan. But behind one powerful man stand many strong women…

After her mother foretells an ominous future for her, darkness looms over Borte’s life. She becomes an outcast among her clan and after seeking comfort in the arms of an aristocratic traveler, she discovers he is the blood brother of Temujin, the man she was betrothed to years ago but who abandoned her long before they could marry. And he will only leave her behind again.

Temujin will make Borte his khatun, his queen, yet it will take many women to safeguard his fragile new empire. Their daughter, a fierce girl named Alaqai, will ride and shoot an arrow as well as any man. Fatima, an elegant Persian captive, seeks revenge against the Mongol barbarians who destroyed her city and murdered her family, but in the end will sacrifice everything to protect the Golden Family. Demure widow to Genghis’ son, Sorkhokhtani positions her sons to inherit the Empire when it begins to fracture from within.

As Genghis Khan sets out to expand his conquests and the steppes run red with blood, Borte and the women of the clan will fight, love, scheme, and sacrifice, all for the good of their family and the greatness of the People of the Felt Walls…

Publication Date: November 4, 2014
NAL Trade
Formats: eBook, Paperback
Genre: Historical Fiction
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 *****
Stephanie Thornton had me at The Secret History: A Novel of Empress Theodora, it didn't take long for her to become a favorite of mine and with The Tigers Queen she has confirmed what a talented author she is. Her writing style was enough to grab me right from the very first page and I was totally lost in this story.

Told from the POV of four women (yes that's correct, four of them) the narrative flowed nicely reflecting  vivid descriptions of the harsh realities of the time period.  I am not familiar at all with Genghis Khan or anything historical taking place in Mongolia, but now I am very intrigued checking out websites to learn more.

Borte, Alaqai, Fatima and Sorkhokhtani are four strong women that will stay with me for awhile.  They had to endure so much being related to the Great Khan, there is so much detail here showing the vast amount of research and the authors knowledge of this time period.  I love books about lesser known figures in history, and here we have a wife, daughter, adviser and daughter-in-law each one of them had the depth that made me connect with  them. They stories were different but similar, sacrifice and devotion to and for the family. The authors notes at the end were the perfect ending and showing how true to history this book was kept.

This book is one of my favorites for 2014, I received an ebook copy for review as part of this tour, definitely can see myself purchasing a copy for my shelf and reading over again.  If you like your historical fiction about the unknown figures in history with a setting not usually dealt with, then this book is for you.

 

 Buy the Book

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

Stephanie Thornton is a writer and history teacher who has been obsessed with infamous women from ancient history since she was twelve. She lives with her husband and daughter in Alaska, where she is at work on her next novel.

“The Secret History: A Novel of Empress Theodora” and “Daughter of the Gods: A Novel of Ancient Egypt” are available from NAL/Penguin. “The Tiger Queens: The Women of Genghis Khan” will hit the shelves November 4, 2014, followed by “The Conqueror’s Wife: A Novel of Alexander the Great” in November 2015.

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

The Tiger Queens: The Women of Genghis Khan Blog Tour Schedule

Saturday, November 1
Interview & Giveaway at Let Them Read Books
Spotlight & Giveaway at Passages to the Past
Sunday, November 2
Review at Let Them Read Books
Monday, November 3
Review at Oh, for the Hook of a Book
Review & Giveaway at Peeking Between the Pages
Tuesday, November 4
Review at Flashlight Commentary
Wednesday, November 5
Review & Giveaway at Broken Teepee
Interview at Flashlight Commentary
Thursday, November 6
Review at The Mad Reviewer
Review & Giveaway at Peeking Between the Pages
Interview at Jorie Loves a Story
Friday, November 7
Review at Jorie Loves a Story
Review at Scandalous Women
Monday, November 10
Review at Reading the Past
Guest Post & Giveaway at Historical Fiction Connection
Tuesday, November 11
Review at With Her Nose Stuck in a Book
Review & Giveaway at Book Lovers Paradise
Wednesday, November 12
Review at A Bookish Affair
Thursday, November 13
Guest Post & Giveaway at A Bookish Affair
Friday, November 14
Review & Giveaway at The True Book Addict
Monday, November 17
Review at Turning the Pages
Tuesday, November 18
Review & Giveaway at Historical Tapestry
Wednesday, November 19
Review & Giveaway at The Lit Bitch
Interview & Giveaway at Unabridged Chick
Thursday, November 20
Review at Layered Pages
Friday, November 21
Review at Just One More Chapter
Monday, November 24
Spotlight & Giveaway at Reading Lark
Tuesday, November 25
Review & Giveaway at The Maiden’s Court
Wednesday, November 26
Review at WTF Are You Reading?
Friday, November 28
Review at Book Babe



Praise for The Tiger Queens

“A gripping epic of sacrifice, revenge, and conquest…kept me riveted from beginning to end!” –Michelle Moran, bestselling author of The Second Empress

“From under the felted ger tents of Genghis Kahn emerge four powerful women. It is a testament to Thornton’s writing prowess that she can so intricately whittle heroines that are both compassionate and ruthless from the bones of our ancestors…a stunning achievement!” — Barbara Wood, New York Times bestselling author of The Serpent and the Staff and Rainbows on the Moon

“A vivid depiction of warrior women tough as the harsh, windswept steppes which nurtured them and who, as the warring Mongol clans battle for supremacy, survive… to ensure their men emerge the victors. Gripping stuff!” –Alex Rutherford, author of the Empire of the Moghul series

“A sprawling historical saga centering on the wives and daughters of Genghis Khan. These bold, courageous women make tremendous sacrifices in the face of danger, revenge and high-stakes survival, all in the name of family love and loyalty. Be prepared to be swept away by Thornton’s richly drawn epic of an empire and its generational shifts of power.” –Renee Rosen, author of Dollface and What the Lady Wants

“They were the Golden Family of Genghis Khan. Yet their lives were anything but golden as they struggled to hold together the very center of the largest empire the world has ever known. An empire that was built in one lifetime, and would have been destroyed in the next had it not been for the wives and daughters of the Great Khan. This is historical fiction at its finest.” — Gary Corby, author of The Marathon Conspiracy

“Three generations of strong women live, love, suffer, and triumph in a fresh and gritty setting—Genghis Khan’s forging of an empire in thirteenth century Mongolia. Marginalized in most histories, these Mongol mothers and daughters, empresses and slaves, claim their voices again in Stephanie Thornton’s The Tiger Queens. Unusual and imaginative!” –Elizabeth Loupas, author of The Second Duchess and The Red Lily Crown

“Stunning. The Tiger Queens sweeps the reader into the ruthless world of Genghis Khan’s wives and daughters with a gritty realism as intense as the eternal blue sky and blood-soaked steppes. Vivid characterization and top-notch writing. This story of strong women, their enduring friendships and passions give a rare glimpse into a shadowy period of history. A worthy successor to Taylor Caldwell’s The Earth is the Lord’s.” –Judith E. French, author of The Conqueror, The Barbarian, and The Warrior



Thursday, November 20, 2014

Just Who Were the Loyalists? by Elaine Cougler

 I am thrilled to have Elaine Cougler us today with this guestpost.  I haven't had a chance to read The Loyalist's Luck yet, it's near the top of my tbr pile, it takes place pretty much in my backyard so I can't wait to read it.


               Just Who Were the Loyalists?

  “Off now. Vite!” shouted the boatman. “We ‘ave many load today.”
  John pushed through the press of people, and lifted her and their child onto the shore. She turned to speak to him but he was already back on the boat for their horses. With no choice, she followed the other women, tripping and falling up the rocky shore to the path above. Finally, she set Harper John down to walk beside her, and he squealed and laughed, jerking to be free, but she held fast and pulled him along as she followed Nellie’s dark skirts.
  The wall of trees opened up and she recognized Butler’s barracks, of which John had told her, standing firm and solid in the open field ahead. They would have shelter at least. Until the King made good on his promise to take care of them and all the other Loyalists who had already lost their homes in the war.
  The skies were dark with rain clouds and the damp permeated Lucinda’s light skirts. She began to shiver but would not release the little hand struggling to be out of her own. Everything was gray—the sky, the hard-packed ground, the faces of the refugees arriving, even the soldiers barking out orders.
  “Lucy! Over here!”

All my life I’ve known I was descended from the United Empire Loyalists and that my ancestors fought with Butler’s Rangers for the King in the American Revolutionary War. Not that it seemed to affect my life growing up, this knowing.

Once I began to research and write my trilogy, I had to know more about the U.E. and the U.E.L. designations. For the record, U.E. means Unity of the Empire (British Empire, that is) and U.E.L. means United Empire Loyalist. They both stem from those who remained loyal to Britain in the Revolutionary War.

But just who were these Loyalists? And why would they give up so much of their lives?

Land was short in the colonies by this time. Malcontents probably stirred up tensions among the factions until Loyalists often became the underdogs, forced to escape to save their lives. Whatever their individual reasons, those loyal to the King ultimately fled north with whatever they could carry.

I’ve used these struggles in the first book and carried on the incredible stories in the second. John and Lucy Garner are symbolic even though they are fictional characters.

While at one time, proving that you were of Loyalist descent was very popular in Ontario, today fewer seem to follow that route. There are, however, still vibrant U.E.L. organizations that treasure the history and want to remember. One of the branches in the Niagara area is even named after Colonel John Butler, famed leader of the Butler’s Rangers.

Having been raised to revere the friendship Canada and the United States have shared since their warring days, I treasure the longest undefended border in the world. Still that tension in those long ago days makes for great historical fiction!

 Publication Date: October 2014
Peache House Press
Formats: eBook, Paperback
Series: The Loyalist Trilogy
Genre: Historical Fiction
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When the Revolutionary War turns in favor of the Americans, John and Lucy flee across the Niagara River with almost nothing. They begin again in Butlersburg, a badly supplied British outpost surrounded by endless trees and rivers, and the mighty roar of the giant falls nearby. He is off on a secret mission for Colonel Butler and she is left behind with her young son and pregnant once again. In the camp full of distrust, hunger, and poverty, word has seeped out that John has gone over to the American side and only two people will associate with Lucy—her friend, Nellie, who delights in telling her all the current gossip, and Sergeant Crawford, who refuses to set the record straight and clear John’s name. To make matters worse, the sergeant has made improper advances toward Lucy.

With vivid scenes of heartbreak and betrayal, heroism and shattered hopes, Elaine Cougler takes us into the hearts and homes of Loyalists still fighting for their beliefs, and draws poignant scenes of families split by political borders. The Loyalist’s Luck shows us the courage of ordinary people who, in perilous times, become extraordinary.



A lifelong reader and high school teacher, Elaine found her passion for writing once her family was grown. She loves to read history for the stories of real people reacting to their world. Bringing to life the tales of Loyalists in the American Revolutionary War and the War of 1812 is very natural as Elaine’s personal roots are in those struggles, out of which arose both Canada and the United States.

For more information please visit Elaine Cougler’s website.

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

 

 

 


The Loyalist’s Luck Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, November 10
Review at Oh, For the Hook of a Book
Tuesday, November 11
Guest Post at The Writing Desk
Wednesday, November 12
Guest Post at Historical Fiction Connection
Thursday, November 13
Guest Post & Giveaway at Peeking Between the Pages
Friday, November 14
Spotlight at Historical Fiction Connection
Monday, November 17
Interview at Oh, For the Hook of a Book
Thursday, November 20
Guest Post at Just One More Chapter
Friday, November 21
Interview at Caroline Wilson Writes
Monday, November 24
Guest Post at Oh, For the Hook of a Book
Tuesday, November 25
Review at So Many Books, So Little Time
Wednesday, November 26
Guest Post at So Many Books, So Little Time
Friday, November 28
Review at With Her Nose Stuck in a Book

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Review: Past Encounters by Davina Blake (Book Tour)

England 1955.

The day Rhoda Middleton opens a letter from another woman, she becomes convinced her husband, Peter, is having an affair. But when Rhoda tracks the mysterious woman down, she discovers she is not Peter’s lover after all, but the wife of his best friend, Archie Foster. There is only one problem – Rhoda has never even heard of Archie Foster.

Devastated by this betrayal of trust, Rhoda tries to find out why Peter has kept this friendship a secret for so long. Her search leads her back to 1945, but as she gradually uncovers Peter’s wartime experiences she must wrestle with painful memories of her own. For Rhoda too cannot escape the ghosts of the past.

Taking us on a journey from the atmospheric filming of Brief Encounter, to the extraordinary Great March of prisoners of war through snow-bound Germany, PAST ENCOUNTERS explores themes of friendship, hope, and how in the end, it is the small things that enable love to survive.

Includes bonus material for reading groups.

Publication Date: November 22, 2014
CreateSpace
Paperback; 442p
Genre: Historical Fiction/Literary Fiction
Add to GR Button
 ****
 "the thought came that you can never put the past behind you, because the past is a part of you"

Deborah Swift is a favorite of mine, I adored The Lady's Slipper and The Gilded Lily.  Her writing style invited this reader into another world that I was totally immersed in.  Writing as Davina Blake it's almost like a different person altogether penned this book, and I mean that in a good way.  I cannot think of the proper word to describe it, but Past Encounters was a delicate and graceful, a more quiet book, if that makes sense.

Weaving back and forth in time, with different POV's the past is laid out in a believable manner right to the end. The war affects everyone differently, for Peter he choose to remain silent at least to his wife.  That's real, that's how lots dealt with their war experience.  A vivid picture is portrayed of his time in World War II, however he does share that with Archie because Archie was there with him.

There is depth to their lives and it was easy to get to know them.   Being left at home to wait  Rhonda has secrets of her own and those she has kept to herself also. 

I was unfamiliar with The Great Mar and other historical events in this book. Definitely an eye opener and emotional book that shows the lasting affect this war had on not just those physically in it.

"Without him, Archie would be able to move much more freely, yet Archie showed no signs of leaving him, had stuck by him all the way.  He wondered why.  Perhaps it was just that to die with a friend was better than to die alone."

 

  Praise for Past Encounters

“Her characters are so real that they linger in the mind long after the book is back on the shelf. Highly Recommended!” – The Historical Novels Review

 

Praise for Deborah Swift

“stellar historical fiction” -Orange Prize Nominee Ann Weisgarber
“compelling'” -Westmorland Gazette
“The past comes alive through impeccable research…and the sheer power of descriptive prose” -Lancashire Evening Post

 

Buy the Book

Amazon US
Amazon UK

Davina Blake used to be a set and costume designer for theatre and TV, during which time she developed a love of research which fueled her passion for the past. She holds an MA in Creative Writing from Lancaster University and also writes successful seventeenth century historicals under the pen name Deborah Swift. ‘Her characters are so real that they linger in the mind long after the book is back on the shelf. Highly recommended.’

The Historical Novels Review From Davina: ‘I was inspired to write ‘Past Encounters’ because I live close to the railway station where the iconic ‘Brief Encounter’ was filmed in 1945. I have often used the refreshment room that featured in the film when waiting for a train. I love a good cup of tea, preferably accompanied by a chocolate brownie!’

For more information visit Davina Blake’s website and blog. You can also find her on Twitter.

Past Encounters Blog Tour Schedule

Saturday, November 15
Spotlight & Giveaway at Passages to the Past
Sunday, November 16
Review at Library Educated
Monday, November 17
Review at Dianne Ascroft Blog
Review at Flashlight Commentary
Tuesday, November 18
Review at Oh, For the Hook of a Book!
Wednesday, November 19
Review at Just One More Chapter
Thursday, November 20
Review at Ageless Pages Reviews
Friday, November 21
Review & Interview at Bookish
Saturday, November 22
Review at History From a Woman’s Perspective
Monday, November 24
Review at A Bookish Affair
Review & Giveaway at Peeking Between the Pages
Tuesday, November 25
Guest Post at A Bookish Affair
Wednesday, November 26
Review at Book Nerd
Thursday, November 27
Interview at The Maiden’s Court
Saturday, November 29
Spotlight at What Is That Book About
Monday, December 1
Review at Layered Pages
Review & Interview at Casual Readers
Tuesday, December 2
Review at My Reader’s Block
Review at A Bibliotaph’s Reviews
Wednesday, December 3
Review at The Worm Hole
Review at Diary of an Eccentric
Thursday, December 4
Review at Beth’s Book Reviews
Guest Post at Historical Tapestry
Friday, December 5
Review at Bibliophilia, Please
Saturday, December 6
Review at Unshelfish
Review at Historical Tapestry

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Guestpost: Author Jodi Lew-Smith (The Clever Mill Horse)



I am thrilled to have Jodi Lew-Smith, author of The Clever Mill Horse, visit today.  Be sure to check out more stops on this tour for a chance to win a copy.

Why did Americans cease growing flax for linen?

First off a warm thank you to Margaret for inviting this guest post on her excellent blog!

If you’re like me and you began reading historical novels as a teen or otherwise young person, you were familiar with something called “homespun” but you had no idea what it actually meant. I assumed it referred to any kind of clothes made on a farm—and maybe I wasn’t far off.  But as an adult and avid history researcher, I learned that it most commonly referred to garments made from flax and sometimes wool. Also the word had all kinds of nuances as an indicator of social status—and these changed depending on where you lived. In cities “homespun” was often a term of derision, suggesting a degree of “country bumpkin.” In remote rural spots, however—where the hard work of producing the fabric was well understood—a finely-wrought piece of homespun clothing or household cloth could have enormous value. In fact people often left specific items as individual bequests in their wills, for these items comprised a good portion of a farm family’s wealth. This was especially true of linen, produced from flax, which required the greatest labor to produce but yielded a fabric of superior strength and endurance that routinely served families for several generations.

In Colonial America of New England and the Middle Colonies, every farm grew at least a small annual flax crop from which to make table cloths and bed sheets along with the ubiquitous summer clothing that replaced aromatic layers of wool once spring warmed the air. Farm families typically spent many hours in the coldest part of winter “dressing” the previous summer’s flax crop. Dressing involved softening and stripping the outer stems of the flax straw and then combing the fibers over course tines to leave nothing but the soft inner pith. Once dressed, the long fibers were spun into thread—which wasn’t so easy in itself—and then the tricky business of weaving the spun fiber into linen cloth began. The whole process was painfully slow. The only good thing you could say of it was the spinning wheel used for flax fiber allowed you to sit down, whilst the wheel for wool (which was much less tricky to spin) was larger and typically required much walking back and forth to operate.

Somewhere in the years before the Civil War this entire system changed. Cotton became so cheap and available that even the most tight-fisted northern farm families couldn’t justify growing flax any longer and began to buy cotton cloth. But was this change inevitable? What if the industrial revolution had caused linen cloth to become as cheap as cotton? What if growing flax across the North had become as lucrative as cotton in the South? The farm fields of the North might have sprouted vast acreage of blue flax flowers that gave way to pale honey straw. All that flax fiber might have been pumped into factories spinning and weaving it into fabric, until every blouse and cheap pair of knickers was made of linen. Until many years later when our t-shirts and jeans and beach towels would all be linen blends instead of cotton blends.

So why not?
           
I think the answer lies deep within the two plants: the cotton plant versus the flax plant. Flax is one of oldest fiber crops on earth and was widely cultivated in ancient China and Egypt. It thrives in all the cooler regions of the world, including Canada and the northern United States, and was the primary plant-based fiber for cloth until the early nineteenth century, when cotton abruptly took over. Taken from inside the stem of the plant, flax fibers are two to three times stronger than cotton fibers, which is the reason that linen fabric is much sturdier and longer-lasting than cotton. So why did cotton overtake and nearly replace linen?

With the invention of the cotton gin, patented in 1794, it became easy and fast to remove the seeds from the cotton boll to make useable fiber. In contrast, flax fiber requires four separate time-consuming steps to first soften the outer stem of the plant and then strip the stem from the inner core to produce dressed fiber. In the early nineteenth century there were several inventions for dressing flax that received U.S. patents. Unfortunately none of them ever worked anywhere nearly as well as the cotton gin, which many people credit with the rise of cotton production that led to a concomitant rise in slavery and, eventually, the Civil War. To this day dressing flax fiber remains a long and relatively labor-intensive process, such that linen fabric remains an expensive luxury item and comparatively rare.

The question of what might have happened if a gifted designer had managed to invent a machine to process flax quickly and cheaply—at a time when cotton had yet to overtake the world market—is the crux of my adventure story The Clever Mill Horse. Ella Kenyon, who would have preferred to be left alone in the woods, became the improbable inventor of a well-working flax engine at a time when the contest between southern cotton and northern linen was still anyone’s game.

Reference:  Plain and Fancy: American Women and their Needlework, 1700-1850. Susan Burrows Swan, 1977. Rutledge Books. 


Jodi Lew-Smith lives on a farm in northern Vermont with her patient husband, three wonderfully impatient children, a bevy of pets and farm animals, and 250 exceedingly patient apple trees which, if they could talk, would suggest that she stop writing and start pruning. Luckily they’re pretty quiet.

With a doctorate in plant genetics, she also lives a double life as a vegetable breeder at High Mowing Seeds. She is grateful for the chance to do so many things in one lifetime, and only wishes she could do them all better. Maybe in the next life she’ll be able to make up her mind.

For more about Jodi and about the lives and world of the characters in the novel, visit her website or blog. You can also connect with her on Facebook and Goodreads.




 A young woman’s gift could weave together the fabric of a nation…

1810, upstate New York. 21-year-old Ella Kenyon is happiest gliding through the thick woods around her small frontier town, knife in hand, her sharp eyes tracking game. A gift for engineering is in her blood, but she would gladly trade it for more time in the forest. If only her grandfather’s dying wish hadn’t trapped her into a fight she never wanted.

Six years ago, Ella’s grandfather made her vow to finish his life’s work: a flax-milling machine that has the potential to rescue her mother, brother, and sister from the brutality of life with her drunkard father. The copious linen it yields could save her struggling town, subjugate the growing grip of southern cotton. Or it could be Ella’s downfall. If she’s not quick enough, not clever enough to succeed, more than her own life rests in the balance…


The Clever Mill Horse Blog Tour Schedule

Wednesday, November 12
Spotlight at Flashlight Commentary
Thursday, November 13
Guest Post & Giveaway at Passages to the Past
Friday, November 14
Spotlight & Giveaway at Teddy Rose Book Reviews and More
Monday, November 17
Review at 100 Pages a Day – Stephanie’s Book Reviews
Tuesday, November 18
Guest Post at Just One More Chapter
Friday, November 21
Spotlight at CelticLady’s Reviews
Monday, November 24
Interview at Boom Baby Reviews
Tuesday, November 25
Spotlight at Book Nerd
Friday, November 28
Review at Readers’ Oasis
Monday, December 1
Review at Book Babe
Spotlight & Giveaway at Peeking Between the Pages
Wednesday, December 3
Review at Svetlana’s Reads and Views
Review at With Her Nose Stuck in a Book
Spotlight at Layered Pages

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Friday, November 14, 2014

The Here and Now by Ann Brashares

An unforgettable epic romantic thriller about a girl from the future who might be able to save the world . . . if she lets go of the one thing she’s found to hold on to.Follow the rules. Remember what happened. Never fall in love.

This is the story of seventeen-year-old Prenna James, who immigrated to New York when she was twelve. Except Prenna didn’t come from a different country. She came from a different time—a future where a mosquito-borne illness has mutated into a pandemic, killing millions and leaving the world in ruins.

Prenna and the others who escaped to the present day must follow a strict set of rules: never reveal where they’re from, never interfere with history, and never, ever be intimate with anyone outside their community. Prenna does as she’s told, believing she can help prevent the plague that will one day ravage the earth.

But everything changes when Prenna falls for Ethan Jarves.

From Ann Brashares, the #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants series, The Here and Now is thrilling, exhilarating, haunting, and heartbreaking—and a must-read novel of the year.

Kindle Edition, 256 pages
Published April 8th 2014 by Delacorte Press
review copy provided via netgalley for honest review
*** it was okay

At one time most of my reading was YA, The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants was a favorite series and I looked forward to The Here and Now.  I have a nasty habit of getting books without reading the synopsis just because of who the author is I automatic feel that once they write a good book the rest will be the same, which is the case with this book.  

I don't want to compare this book to the Sisterhood books but I can't help myself.  With the Sisterhood the author created 4 girls that I got to know, there was depth there, the problems they had were real and written with emotion and feeling.  With The Here and Now I had a hard time getting to know Prenna, she lacked believability and brains. 

The book started out good and I was engaged for a little bit but then I started losing interest, not enough to stop me from finishing because I did want to find out what was going how and how it would end.  The ending was ok, but I think at that point I was just glad to be finished (wow hope that doesn't sound too harsh).

I won't give up on this author, she wrote 4 wonderful books that I could see myself rereading so she's got it in there.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

A Rip in the Veil by Anna Belfrage

On a stifling August day in 2002, Alexandra Lind is thrown several centuries backwards in time. She lands at the feet of Matthew Graham - an escaped convict making his way home to Scotland in this the year of our Lord, 1658.

Matthew doesn't quite know what to make of this concussed and injured woman who has seemingly fallen from the skies. What is she, a witch?

Alex gawks at this tall, gaunt man with hazel eyes, dressed in what to her mostly looks like rags. At first she thinks he might be some sort of hermit, an oddball, but she quickly realises the odd one out is she.

Catapulted from a life of modern comfort, Alex grapples with this new existence, further complicated by the dawning realisation that someone from her time has followed her here - and not exactly to extend a helping hand.

Potential compensation for this brutal shift in fate comes in the shape of Matthew - a man she should never have met, not when she was born three centuries after him. He quickly proves himself a willing and most capable protector, but Matthew comes with baggage of his own, and on occasion it seems his past will see him killed. At times Alex finds it all exceedingly exciting, longing for the structured life she used to have.

How will she ever get back? And more importantly, does she want to?

 
Paperback, 370 pages

Published 2012 by matador 
(book from my personal library)
****
It is no secret that I am a big fan of the Graham Saga.  I started with book 3, The Prodigal Son and continued on to book 6, Revenge & Retribution.  I had no problem getting immersed in these books, even though not reading books 1 & 2.  Another chapter in this series has just been released, Whither Thou Goest and I will be reviewing that on Dec. 3rd.  Once I read the synopis I felt it was time to read the first 2 books, it just seems that much of the newest reflects things that happened in beginning.

A Rip in the Veil is book 1 and it's a great introduction to Alex, Matthew and his wicked evil brother Luke.  One of the things I liked about this book was getting a closer look at Alex, how she traveled back in time, those she left behind and what makes her tick.  It's not just a case of 'oops here I am" kinda time travel, it's an interesting twist that carries over the whole series.

It didn't take long to get drawn into this story, the authors writing style is very familair to me now, it is smooth and right to the point.  There isn't any extra filler or pages of text that just take up space, but just a smooth storyline that quite often had this reader losing track of time while reading.

Book 2 is Like Chaff in the Wind, with my review coming on Nov 26th.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Book Alert and Giveaway! John Chase Regency Mystery Series

Please join S.K. Rizzolo as she tours the blogosphere for the John Chase Regency Mystery Series Book Blast, from November 3-16, and be entered to win all three books in the trilogy!

 

The Rose in the Wheel (Book One)

Publication Date: January 1, 2002
Poisoned Pen Press
Formats: Hardcover, Paperback, eBook
Series: John Chase Mystery Series (Book One)
Genre: Historical Mystery/Regency
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This well imagined, carefully detailed, and cleverly plotted debut draws on actual historical events of 1811 London.
Regency London knows Constance Tyrone as the conspicuously celibate founder of the St. Catherine Society, dedicated to helping poor women. One wet November evening a carriage mows down Constance outside her office. Curiously, while her corpse’s one foot is bare, the other is shod in a clean satin slipper despite the muddy road. Why was a gentlewoman abroad in the night? And if she died under the wheel, whose hands bruised her neck and stole her monogrammed crucifix?
Dismissing the idea of an accident, Bow Street Runner John Chase forms an unlikely alliance with Penelope Wolfe, wife of the chief suspect. A young mother paying the price for an imprudent marriage, Penelope is eager to clear her husband Jeremy, a feckless portrait painter whose salacious drawings of the victim suggest an erotic interest. Chase’s first task is to learn the identity of the mysterious benefactor who goes bail for Wolfe while Penelope traces the victim’s last movements. Barrister Edward Buckler, intrigued, shakes off his habitual lethargy and joins their investigation.
As horrifying murders on the Ratcliffe Highway claim all London’s attention, the trio discovers that it won’t be easy to unravel the enigma of Constance Tyrone, a woman who revives the legend of martyred St. Catherine.

 

Blood for Blood (Book Two)

Publication Date: April 15, 2003
Poisoned Pen Press
Formats: Hardcover, Paperback, eBook
Series: John Chase Mystery Series (Book Two)
Genre: Historical Mystery/Regency
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In the spring of 1812, the Luddites are on the march, Lord Byron is taking London drawing rooms by storm, and Penelope Wolfe has become a lady’s companion. When one of the footmen turns up dead with a knife to the heart, Penelope and Bow Street Runner John Chase are entangled in a web of family secrets and political conspiracy that stretches far beyond luxurious St. James’s Square.
With the help of barrister Edward Buckler, Chase follows the trail of a mysterious mad woman caught peeping in the window at the corpse. Penelope struggles to fit into the fashionable world, encountering people who hide resentment and deceit under smooth smiles.
Set against a backdrop of millennial fervor with thousands awaiting the end of the world, BLOOD FOR BLOOD explores the simple truth that every drop of blood spilled will be avenged.

 

Die I Will Not (Book Three)

Publication Date: November 4, 2014
Poisoned Pen Press
Formats: Hardcover, Paperback
Series: John Chase Mystery Series (Book Three)
Genre: Historical Mystery/Regency
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Unhappy wife and young mother Penelope Wolfe fears scandal for her family and worse. A Tory newspaper editor has been stabbed while writing a reply to the latest round of letters penned by a firebrand calling himself Collatinus. Twenty years before, her father, the radical Eustace Sandford, wrote as Collatinus before he fled London just ahead of accusations of treason and murder. A mysterious beauty closely connected to Sandford and known only as N.D. had been brutally slain, her killer never punished. The seditious new Collatinus letters that attack the Prince Regent in the press also seek to avenge N.D.’s death and unmask her murderer. What did the journalist know that provoked his death?
Her artist husband Jeremy is no reliable ally, so Penelope turns anew to lawyer Edward Buckler and Bow Street Runner John Chase. As she battles public notoriety, Buckler and Chase put their careers at risk to stand behind her while pursuing various lines of inquiry aimed at N.D.’s murderer, a missing memoir, Royal scandal, and the dead editor’s missing wife. As they navigate the dark underbelly of Regency London among a cast driven by dirty politics and dark passions, as well as by decency and a desire for justice, past secrets and present criminals are exposed, upending Penelope’s life and the lives of others.

 

Buy the Books

Amazon US
Amazon UK
Barnes & Noble
Book Depository

S.K. Rizzolo is a longtime Anglophile and history enthusiast. Set in Regency England, The Rose in the Wheel and Blood for Blood are the first two novels in her series about a Bow Street Runner, an unconventional lady, and a melancholic barrister. An English teacher, Rizzolo has earned an M.A. in literature and lives in Los Angeles with her husband and daughter.

For more information please visit S.K. Rizzolo’s website. You can also find her on Facebook and Goodreads.

 

John Chase Mystery Series Book Blast Schedule

Tuesday, November 4
Reading Lark
Rainy Day Reviews
Thursday, November 6
The Lit Bitch
Historical Tapestry
Sunday, November 9
Brooke Blogs
Let Them Read Books
Tuesday, November 11
To Read or Not to Read
Wednesday, November 12
Just One More Chapter
Thursday, November 13
A Book Geek
100 Pages a Day
Friday, November 14
Peeking Between the Pages
Sunday, November 16
Book Nerd

Giveaway

To win all three books in S.K. Rizzolo’s John Chase Regency Mystery Series please complete the Rafflecopter giveaway form below. Giveaway is open internationally.
Giveaway ends at 11:59pm on November 16th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
Winner will be chosen via Rafflecopter on November 17th and notified via email.
Winner have 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.

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