Monday, December 22, 2014

Dangerous Dream - A Beautiful Creatures Story by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl

The #1 New York Times bestselling Beautiful Creatures series continues in this brand-new digital-exclusive story.

Catch up with Ethan, Lena, and Link as they finally graduate from high school and get ready to leave the small Southern town of Gatlin. But when Dark Caster Ridley makes an appearance, the sometime bad girl can't resist picking a fight with her sometime boyfriend, Link. Angry and rebellious as ever, Ridley ends up alone in New York City and becomes entangled in the dangerous underground Caster club scene, where the stakes are high and losers pay the ultimate price.

Where's a Linkubus when you need him?


ebook, 46 pages
Published December 17th 2013 (first published January 1st 2013) 
copy provided by netgalley for honest review
*** 

This book is the prequel to the Dangerous Creatures series and a relatively short novella.  Having read nothing by either author and not being familiar with this series I had no preconceived ideas of what I was in for.  Coming in at 46 pages there wasn't time to get too deeply involved with the characters, however what I read was interesting enough.

 The synopsis above pretty well sums up what takes place here.  I have seen the authors names around and was curious, the writing style was easy to follow and kept me entertained.  There was enough here to establish relationships, create mysterious and the paranormal elements were interesting.  Definitely could see myself continuing in this series.

Friday, December 19, 2014

A Jane Austen daydream by Scott D. Southard

All her heroines find love in the end—but is there love waiting for Jane?

Jane Austen spends her days writing and matchmaking in the small countryside village of Steventon, until a ball at Godmersham Park propels her into a new world where she yearns for a romance of her own. But whether her heart will settle on a young lawyer, a clever Reverend, a wealthy childhood friend, or a mysterious stranger is anyone's guess.

Written in the style of Jane herself, this novel ponders the question faced by many devoted readers over the years—did she ever find love? Weaving fact with fiction, it re-imagines her life, using her own stories to fill in the gaps left by history and showing that all of us—to a greater or lesser degree—are head over heels for Jane.


Audible Audio
Published September 24th 2014 by Madison Street Publishing
  (first published December 4th 2012)
 audio provided by author for honest review (thank you)
*****

I am not a big Jane Austen fan.  Not that I dislike her, a number of her books are on my tbr pile and I can say that I have read Pride and Prejudice, even watched the movie.  About Jane Austen herself I know nothing, was she married, kids, siblings, what was her upbringing like?  I am totally in the dark about it all which made me all the most anxious to start this book.

I listened to the audio version (via Audible), Louisa Gummer was the reader and I must say she did a stellar job, it was a pleasure to listen to.  Coming in at almost 12 hours in length the time just flew by.  I loved the Austen family not just Jane.  There was depth here and I got to know so much about the lifestyle, customs and just everyday life in that time period.  Jane was a very likable person, she was strong, opinionated and the author has stirred a desire in me to learn more about her.

I loved how the author used phrases from Pride & Prejudice in this book, I am sure there were some from her other books as well, which has made me want to read them even more now.

Thank you to the author for reaching out to me, I don't think I would have discovered this book on my own and would have missed out.
 
If you are planning a road trip this holiday season or just need to go for a walk give A Jane Austen Daydream a try, you won't be disappointed.


Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Sewing Can Be Dangerous and Other Small Threads by S. R. Mallery (Book Tour)


The eleven long short stories in “Sewing Can Be Dangerous and Other Small Threads combine history, mystery, action and/or romance, and range from drug trafficking using Guatemalan hand-woven wallets, to an Antebellum U.S. slave using codes in her quilts as a message system to freedom; from an ex-journalist and her Hopi Indian maid solving a cold case together involving Katchina spirits, to a couple hiding Christian passports in a comforter in Nazi Germany; from a wedding quilt curse dating back to the Salem Witchcraft Trials, to a mystery involving a young seamstress in the infamous Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire; from a 1980’s Romeo and Juliet romance between a rising Wall Street financial ‘star’ and an eclectic fiber artist, to a Haight-Asbury love affair between a professor and a beautiful macram√© artist gone horribly askew, just to name a few.

Publication Date: December 16, 2013
Mockingbird Lane Press
Formats: eBook, Paperback, Audio Book
Pages: 276
Genre: Historical Fiction/Short Stories
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Here I have discovered another benefit of taking part in these book tours.  I never read short stories, they don't really appeal to me basically because I love a long story (sometimes the longer the better).  Also I've never read a book on short stories, in fact I usually shy away from them.  Why I even agreed to be part of this tour I am not even sure.

On that note I will say that I LOVED this book!  And have totally changed my opinion on short stories.  It had everything all wrapped in one, mystery, suspense, romance, history, murder and adventure.  There was the seamstress, the quilter, the Jew, the slave,  the surgeon and the curse (just to name a few).  Each story was well written, rich in detail with unique plots.  The authors writing style kept me reading all 11 stories in a matter of days.

This was an audio read for me and the reader did a fantastic job.  If you are like me and have never read a book on short stories give this one a try, you won't be disappointed.

 

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Sewing Can Be Dangerous and Other Small Threads is now in AUDIO!!! Listen to narrator, Suzie Althens, breathe life and depth into these stories!

Amazon  Audible.com  iTunes

S.R. Mallery has worn various hats in her life.

First, a classical/pop singer/composer, she moved on to the professional world of production art and calligraphy. Next came a long career as an award winning quilt artist/teacher and an ESL/Reading instructor. Her short stories have been published in descant 2008, Snowy Egret, Transcendent Visions, The Storyteller, and Down In the Dirt.

“Unexpected Gifts”, her debut novel, is currently available on Amazon. “Sewing Can Be Dangerous and Other Small Threads”, her collection of short stories, Jan. 2014, both books by Mockingbird Lane Press.

For more information please visit S.R. Mallery’s website. You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter and Goodreads.

Sewing Can Be Dangerous and Other Small Threads Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, December 1
Review at Unshelfish
Tuesday, December 2
Review at Bibliotica
Wednesday, December 3
Review at History From a Woman’s Perspective
Thursday, December 4
Spotlight & Giveaway at Teddy Rose Book Reviews and More
Friday, December 5
Guest Post at What Is That Book About
Interview at Dianne Ascroft Blog
Monday, December 8
Review at WV Stitcher
Tuesday, December 9
Review at 100 Pages a Day – Stephanie’s Book Reviews
Guest Post & Giveaway at Historical Fiction Connection
Wednesday, December 10
Review at A Book Geek
Thursday, December 11
Review at Book Nerd
Friday, December 12
Review at Based on a True Story
Monday, December 15
Review at CelticLady’s Reviews
Tuesday, December 16
Review at Book Babe
Wednesday, December 17
Review at Just One More Chapter
Friday, December 19
Review at Book Drunkard

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Review/Giveaway: Noah's Wife by T.K. Thorne (Book Tour)

Please join T.K. Thorne as she tours with the blogosphere with HF Virtual Book Tours for Noah’s Wife, from December 15-19, and enter to win an autographed copy & magnetic bookmark!
Publication Date: April 17, 2011


ForeWord Reviews 2009 Historical Fiction BOOK OF THE YEAR.
A novel set in 5500 BCE can’t possibly relate to today’s issues— or can it?

Dysfunctional family relationships • Sexual abuse Kidnapping • Love triangle Religious freedom • Autism • Cultural Change
This award-winning novel touches all of these issues with wisdom and humor.

From the perspective of a young girl with what is now known as Aspergers, Thorne weaves twists into the Biblical story, entwining myth, history, and archeological findings with her vivid imagination.
Na’amah wishes only to be a shepherdess on her beloved hills in ancient Turkey— a desire shattered by the hatred of her powerful brother and the love of two men.

Her savant abilities and penchant to speak truth forces her to walk a dangerous path in an age of change— a time of challenge to the goddess’ ancient ways, when cultures clash and the earth itself is unstable. When foreign raiders kidnap her, Na’amah’s journey to escape and return home becomes an attempt to save her people from the disaster only she knows is coming.

A few interesting tidbits:
Scientists (including Robert Ballard, the explorer who found the sunken Titanic) discovered evidence that the Black Sea was once a fresh water lake that flooded in a cataclysmic event around 5500.
The oldest known worshiped deity was female! The role of the feminine in the divine was entwined with early Judaism and keeps reappearing throughout history.

One in every 88 persons has a form of autism. The choice to make Noah’s wife an Asperger savant stemmed from personal experience in the author’s life and gives the story a distinctive perspective.

Blackburn Fork Publishing
Formats: AudioBook, Ebook, Paperback
Pages: 352p

Genre: Historical Fiction

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*** (I liked it)
audiobook provided via tour host

Being raised in the church I am very familiar with the story of Noah's Ark.  Nothing Biblically is mentioned at all about his wife, other than the fact that she existed. She had no name and neither do the daughter in laws.

With Noah's wife we are told the story from her point of view. There is no reference to anything biblical nor is it preachy at all.   But this is a book that stayed true to the time period and environment.  There isn't much talk of Noah's God but there is a lot of talk about the mother goddess.  Meeting
Na’amah’s when she is a young girl and getting a glimpse of her home life it wasn't hard to empathize with her plight.  With the synopsis above you can read the direction that this book takes.  It isn't hard to see that the author has done a fair amount of research and it came across in her writing.  Not just her knowledge of the time period but of Asperger's as well and getting into Na'amah's mind.

I listened to the audio version and really enjoyed it. Melissa Carey was the reader, my first time listening to her and she did a wonderful job. 

 

 

Praise for Noah’s Wife

“. . . a terrific storyteller.” — Sena Jeter Naslund Bestselling novelist, Ahab’s Wife, Four Spirits, etc.
“. . . an extraordinary work.” —Dianne Mooney, founder of Southern Living At Home
“. . . a novel of epic sweep, emotional power, and considerable beauty.” —Ron Gholson, The Blount Countian
“. . . awed at Thorne’s ability to work magic with words. Her mastery kept me awake many nights.” —Sherry Kughn, Anniston Star
Noah’s Wife is one of the best novels I have ever read— and I average about a book a week.” —Barry Marks, Alabama Poetry Book of the Year for Possible Crocodiles
“So compelling and readable. Brava! Excellent! I am basking in the glow of a fascinating, complex read.” —Jane Archer, Professor of English, Birmingham Southern College
“Well-researched, well-written, engaging book that is absolutely one of the best reads I have had in a long time.” —Gail Sheldon, Director Oneonta Public Library
“Masterfully created . It is a MUST READ! Thorne is exceptionally gifted in her sensitivity to life, love, and loss.” —L. Nolan-Ruiz, Editor InternationalBookCaf√©.com
“A novel of great enchantment, suspense and power . . . looks like a BESTSELLER to me.” —Malcom R. Campbell, Author, Sun Seeker and Jock Stewart and the Missing Sea of Fire
“. . .new depth to an old story in a beautiful novel of truth, love, and survival.” —Irene Latham, author & poet Leaving Gee’s Bend and What Came Before
“. . . with an understanding of what makes us humans tick, Thorne looks at our origins in a brand new way. It’s more Clan of the Cave Bear than theological treatise—and that’s a whole lot more fun!” —John Archibald, Birmingham News
“Not since Mists of Avalon or Ahab’s Wife have I enjoyed such a finely crafted woman’s point of view on an oft-told tale.” —Perle Champion, freelance writer and artist, Alabama Writer’s Forum

Buy the Book

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About the Author

TK Thorne was the first Jewish woman to become a police officer in Birmingham, AL (USA). She retired as a captain and currently serves as executive director of the city’s business improvement district—both careers providing fodder for her writing. Her debut novel Noah’s Wife won ForeWord Reviews’ “Book of the Year” for historical fiction. The New York Post featured her book Last Chance for Justice: How Relentless Investigators Uncovered New Evidence Convicting the Birmingham Church Bombers on their “Books You Should Be Reading” list. A short film from her screenplay Six Blocks Wide was a semi-finalist at “A Film for Peace Festival” in Italy. She describes herself as a writer, humanist, dog-mom, horse-servant, and cat-slave.

Her next novel, Angels at the Gate, published by Cappuccino Books, will be released in March 2015. She blogs at www.TKs-tales.com and her web site is www.TKThorne.com.
You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Goodreads.
Sign Up for T.K. Thorne’s newsletter.

Noah’s Wife Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, December 15
Review & Giveaway at Unshelfish
Review & Giveaway at Broken Teepee
Spotlight & Giveaway at Let Them Read Books
Tuesday, December 16
Review at Just One More Chapter
Spotlight & Giveaway at Teddy Rose Book Reviews Plus More
Wednesday, December 17
Review at Svetlana’s Reads and Views
Review & Giveaway at Peeking Between the Pages
Thursday, December 18
Review at Forever Ashley
Interview at Passages to the Past
Friday, December 19
Review at Based on a True Story

Giveaway

To enter to win an Autographed copy of Noah’s Wife & magnetized bookmark, please complete the giveaway form below.

Rules

– Giveaway ends at 11:59pm on December 19th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
– Giveaway is open to residents of the US 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 have 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.

Noah's Wife

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Book Alert: Libby Morgan: Reunion by Leah Zieber

I am all things quilt!  I make them, collect them and love to feel fabric, I am a quilter and proud of it!  I wanted to read this book but time just didn't let me, but I gotta let everyone know about it.


Coming from a long line of seamstresses, Libby has yet to sew anything more than the rudimentary button or hem, but on a visit to Connecticut she learns more than just how to sew patchwork. Set in 1855 New England and London, this tender story, Libby Morgan: Reunion, follows tenacious Elizabeth (Libby) Jane Morgan through her thirteenth summer of new adventures at home and abroad. She is given a birthday gift of sewing tools and fabric, as well as old family letters to use as templates for making her first quilt. Her decision to first read the letters results in questions that only her Grandmother Morgan’s stories can answer—stories of true love, horrible loss and family connections to London nobles. Her keen eye and inquisitive nature draws her family into a mysterious investigation that tests their faith, challenges their ability to forgive, and results in a resurrection and reunion of lost hearts.


Publication Date: September 7, 2014
Formats: eBook, Paperback
Pages: 283
ASIN: B00O35L1MO
Series: American Heritage Quilt Series
Genre: YA/Historical Fiction
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  Buy the Book

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Leah A. Zieber is a quilt historian and quilt maker from Temecula, California, specializing in American quilt history and reproduction quilts from the nineteenth century. Her quilts have been exhibited across the country in quilt shows, museums and historical societies and were most recently published in Stars: A Study of 19th Century Star Quilts. Leah has worked closely with Southern California collectors, cataloging, managing, and independently researching their textile collections. Her own collection of antique quilts and related textile items spans one hundred and eighty five years, and she shares her knowledge of American quilt history using her collection in lectures and workshops. Libby Morgan: Reunion is her debut novel and the first in her American Heritage Quilt Series.

For more information please visit Leah Zieber’s website and blog. You can also connect with her on Facebook and LinkedIn.

 

Libby Morgan: Reunion Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, December 1
Review at WV Stitcher
Tuesday, December 2
Spotlight at I’d Rather Be Reading
Thursday, December 4
Interview & Giveaway at Reading Lark
Friday, December 5
Review at Book Nerd
Saturday, December 6
Review at Mel’s Shelves
Monday, December 8
Review at Forever Ashley
Tuesday, December 9
Review at With Her Nose Stuck in a Book
Spotlight at Boom Baby Reviews
Wednesday, December 10
Review at Luxury Reading
Spotlight & Giveaway at Mina’s Bookshelf
Friday, December 12
Spotlight & Giveaway at Teddy Rose Book Reviews Plus More
Monday, December 15
Spotlight at Just One More Chapter
Tuesday, December 16
Spotlight at CelticLady’s Reviews
Wednesday, December 17
Review at A Chick Who Reads
Thursday, December 18
Guest Post at Historical Tapestry
Friday, December 19
Guest Post at Book Babe


Saturday, December 13, 2014

Empress of the Night by Eva Stachniak

The follow-up to the #1 bestseller The Winter Palace--perfect for the readers of Hilary Mantel and Alison Weir. 

Catherine the Great, the Romanov monarch reflects on her astonishing ascension to the throne, her leadership over the world's greatest power, and the lives sacrificed to make her the most feared woman in the world--lives including her own...


Catherine the Great muses on her life, her relentless battle between love and power, the country she brought into the glorious new century, and the bodies left in her wake. By the end of her life, she had accomplished more than virtually any other woman in history. She built and grew the Romanov empire, amassed a vast fortune of art and land, and controlled an unruly and conniving court. Now, in a voice both indelible and intimate, she reflects on the decisions that gained her the world and brought her enemies to their knees. And before her last breath, shadowed by the bloody French Revolution, she sets up the end game for her last political maneuver, ensuring her successor and the greater glory of Russia.


Hardcover, 400 pages
Published March 25th 2014 by Bantam
** - ***
(a cross between 'it's okay' and 'I liked it")

I really enjoyed The Winter Palace, it was my first venture into HF Russia.  I've hear of Catherine the Great but knew next to nothing about her, I liked the authors writing style and got a real feel for the country and it's people.

I met Eva Stachniak just after The Winter Palace was released.  She was doing a reading ad I was able to have a nice talk with her afterwards.  Her passion for this time and place in history was evident and I got real excited when I heard about the sequel.

My feelings for Empress of the Night are mixed, as you can see from my rating.  I really struggled with this book,  I don't think it was because my expectations were too high, the format was one that I liked.  Catherine having suffered a stroke is reflecting on her life.  The narrative is what I struggled with, it had a surreal feel to it and at times I had trouble following the story and really couldn't connect with anyone in this book. 

There is a bright side and that is my interest in Russian history has peaked and I am on the lookout for books taking place there.  Also the cover is gorgeous.

Will I give up on Eva Stachniak, not a chance, she has already shown what she can do with The Winter Palace and I have a couple of her other books in my tbr pile.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Agnes Canon's War by Deborah Lincoln (Book Tour)

"I saw a woman hanged on my way to the Pittsburgh docks..”

Agnes Canon is tired of being a spectator in life, an invisible daughter among seven sisters, meat for the marriage market. The rivers of her Pennsylvania countryside flow west, and she yearns to flow with them, explore new lands, know the independence that is the usual sphere of men.

This is a story of a woman’s search for freedom, both social and intellectual, and her quest to understand what freedom means. She learns that freedom can be the scent and sound of unsettled prairies, the glimpse of a cougar, the call of a hawk. The struggle for freedom can test the chains of power, poverty, gender, or the legalized horror of slavery. And to her surprise, she discovers it can be found within a marriage, a relationship between a man and a woman who are equals in everything that matters.

It’s also the story of Jabez Robinson, a man who has traveled across the continent and seen the beauty of the country and the ghastliness of war, as he watches his nation barrel toward disaster. Faced with deep-seated social institutions and hard-headed intransigence, he finds himself helpless to intervene. Jabez’s story is an indictment of war in any century or country, and an admission that common sense and reasoned negotiation continue to fail us.

As Agnes and Jabez struggle to keep their community and their lives from crumbling about them, they must face the stark reality that whether it’s the freedom of an African from servitude, of the South from the North, or of a woman from the demands of social convention, the cost is measured in chaos and blood.
This eloquent work of historical fiction chronicles the building of a marriage against the background of a civilization growing – and dying – in the prelude to civil war.

Publication Date: October 1, 2014 Blank Slate Press
Formats: eBook, Trade Paperback
Pages: 300
Genre: Historical Fiction
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****
(ebook copy provided as part of this book tour)

I can't recall reading much historical fiction about the Civil War, for me this book was a real eye-opener.  Deborah Lincoln is a new author to me which made me doubly excited to read this book.  Agnes Canon is the great grandmother of the author, I love this type of book as it is so much more personal from the author.

The synopsis above tells a lot of the plot here but what it doesn't say is how powerful a book this is.  I was captivated right from the that opening line.  There is much going on in this book and the author writes in such a mesmerizing way that I was visualizing and feeling this story.  This was a tumultuous time in American history and Agnes Canon's War gave a vivid glimpse of not just the physical side but the emotional side also.  This isn't a 'happy ever after' type of book (it's war time remember) but rather one that will stay with you long after you are finished.

 

 Praise for Agnes Canon’s War

“Impressively researched, it captures the brutality of the war in the West and the complicated, divided loyalties of the people who are caught up in it. Agnes Canon’s War will have readers anticipating the romance and dreading the battles in equal amounts.” -Steve Wiegenstein, author of Slant of Light and This Old World
“The characters are likeable, intelligent, humorous, spunky and passionate people whose zest for adventure is met and then some! Superb historical fiction this reviewer highly recommends.” – Historical Novel Society
“Agnes Canon’s War is brilliantly researched and written. Deborah Lincoln has successfully described the occurrences of the Civil War era in the border state of Missouri and the resultant emotions upon the inhabitants of the area. Many neighbors were bitterly opposed to one another, and severe heartache touched everyone. Lincoln’s writing places the reader in the midst of that turmoil. Her research is accurate and lends to a skillfully-designed background for Agnes Canon’s story. An example is her reference to Westport Landing. It is a little-known fact (even to most Missourians) that this original port on the Missouri River, located in the vicinity of today’s Grand and Main Streets, resulted in present-day Kansas City. This heartfelt book will likely impress even the most seasoned historians.” -William R. Reynolds, Jr. author of Andrew Pickens: South Carolina Patriot in the Revolutionary War and The Cherokee Struggle to Maintain Identity in the 17th and 18th Centuries
“Years ago in fiction workshop, this manuscript leaped out at me with the most memorable opening line I’d seen in forever: “I saw a woman hanged on my way to the Pittsburgh docks.”
On revisiting this story several years after my first beta-read of the whole novel, I was struck by how many details and scenes I remember. Historical fiction is not for the lazy writer. The tremendous amount of research that skilled writers weave into the narrative are simply amazing.
I’m afraid I’ll be guilty of plot spoilers if I mention some of my favorite scenes or the tragic events that really happened. I will say Jabez has a first wife, and Agnes befriends her to her dying day. That first wife has a fascination for what today would sound like New Age mysticism. Any reader who hates reading about war should keep going, because all sorts of intriguing historical issues and beliefs come to light in Agnes Canon’s world.
The prose is polished, the story spellbinding, the authenticity both inspiring and heartbreaking. Five stars!” -Carol Kean Blog, Book Reviews, Cosmic Rants

 

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Deborah Lincoln grew up in the small town of Celina, among the cornfields of western Ohio. She earned a bachelor’s degree in English from Michigan State University and a master’s degree in Library Science from the University of Michigan. She and her husband have three grown sons and live on the Oregon coast.

Of her passion for historical fiction, she says: “I’m fascinated by the way events—wars and cataclysms and upheavals, of course, but the everyday changes that wash over everyday lives—bring a poignancy to a person’s efforts to survive and prosper. I hate the idea that brave and intelligent people have been forgotten, that the hardships they underwent have dropped below the surface like a stone in a lake, with not a ripple left behind to mark the spot.”

Agnes Canon’s War is the story of her great great-grandparents, two remarkable people whose lives illustrate the joys and trials that marked America’s tumultuous nineteenth century.

For more information on Deborah Lincoln please visit her website. You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.

Agnes Canon’s War Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, December 8
Review at Forever Ashley
Review at Back Porchervations
Tuesday, December 9
Interview at Caroline Wilson Writes
Wednesday, December 10
Review at Too Fond
Friday, December 12
Review at Just One More Chapter
Guest Post at Mina’s Bookshelf
Monday, December 15
Review at Luxury Reading
Wednesday, December 17
Review at Book Babe
Guest Post at Let Them Read Books
Thursday, December 18
Review at Griperang’s Bookmarks
Friday, December 19
Review at Boom Baby Reviews
Interview at Layered Pages

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Guest Post: Objects and Memory in Historical Fiction by Mark Patten



 Today I am happy to have Mark Patten stop with his guest post on 
  Objects and Memory in Historical Fiction

My novel, Omphalos, is made up of six different stories, each set in a different time period, from the present day back to 4000 BC. What, then, makes it a novel, rather than a collection of short stories? Well, to start with, the stories do not follow on sequentially from one another: instead they are nested, one inside another, like a set of Russian Matryoshka dolls. They are also linked, by a physical place – La Hougue Bie, on the island of Jersey (although much of the action takes place elsewhere), by suggested ancestral links, but also, significantly, by objects.
  “La Hougue Bie” La Hougue Bie, Jersey. Photo: Man Vyi (image is in the Public Domain).

 Before I became a novelist, I was an academic, and I still teach alongside my writing. I have been both an archaeologist and a historian (more accurately, a historical biographer) and, whilst the historian works with written accounts, objects are the starting point for the archaeologist. In writing a novel that is partly about inter-generational connections, I found that objects could be a useful linking device. Objects from one period can pop up in another, and not only when they are dug up by an archaeologist. They can be found in cellars and attics, unearthed accidentally in the course of building works, or handed down as family heirlooms, whether genuine or spurious.

“Matryoshka2” Matryoshka dolls. Photo: BrokenSphere/Wikimedia Commons (licensed under GNU).

 
One of my stories, “Jerusalem,” is set in the 16th Century, and follows a Catholic priest, Richard Mabon, and his secretary, Nicholas Ahier, on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land (Mabon is a historical figure, who really did make the pilgrimage, but my account of his journey is wholly fictional). Like many pilgrims at the time, Mabon brings back a wooden model of the Holy Sepulchre, made of wood with details picked out in ivory and mother-of-pearl. He plans to use it to illustrate his Easter sermons. Another story, “The Infinite Labyrinth,” is set in the 18th Century, and the protagonist, Suzanne de Beaubigny, a Royalist refugee from revolutionary France, encounters a small girl playing with the broken pieces of the model, which the girl’s father has found in cellar. With it is an account of Mabon’s pilgrimage, which Suzanne translates. 

“Holy Sepulchre Model” Wooden model of the Holy Sepulchre, British Museum. Photo: Andres Rueda (licensed under CCA). 

The same little girl shows Suzanne a book in her father’s library, a lavishly illustrated Medieval prayer book. This is a real object, the 14th Century psalter of Bonne of Luxembourg, now in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. The girl’s father is a historical character, the British spymaster, Philippe d’Auvergne, and he almost certainly did own the psalter, having received it from his adoptive father. He may have believed it to be a genuine family heirloom, but this cannot really have been the case. The psalter would unquestionably have been in the French Royal collection until the Revolution, and was presumably bought by Philippe’s adoptive father at one of the many auctions that followed.

“Psalter” Psalter of Bonne of Luxembourg, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. Photo: Eugene a (image is in the Public Domain).
 
 In “The Spirit of the Times,” set during the Second World War, Oberleutnant Friedrich Werner finds a small bead whilst his men are digging an air-raid shelter. He sends it as a gift to his daughter, Hannelore, in Berlin, and she writes a story about it, which she sends to him. Almost seven decades later, Hannelore’s story, suffused with the Nazi racial ideology she has learned in school, has the power to shock the protagonists of “Touching Souls,” set in 2013. The true story of the bead, however, is to be found in “The Song of Strangers,” set in 4000 BC.










“Tumiac variscite beads” Neolithic beads from Tumiac, Brittany. Photo: Vassil (licensed under CCA).


 Together, these stories, their characters and these objects, will take the reader on a journey, a pilgrimage of sorts, through six thousand years of our shared history. 

Mark Patton’s novels, Undreamed Shores, An Accidental King and Omphalos, are published by Crooked Cat Publications, and can be purchased from Amazon UK (www.amazon.co.uk/Mark-Patton/e/B001HOHVLO/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_0
).
Further information can be found on his website (www.mark-patton.co.uk) and blog (http://mark-patton.blogspot.co.uk). 



SIX EPOCHS, TEN LIVES INTERSECTING AT A SINGLE PLACE. 2013: Al Cohen, an American in search of his European heritage.
1944-1946: Friedrich Werner, an officer of the Wehrmacht and later a prisoner of war. His wife Greta, clinging to what remains of her life in war-torn Berlin.
1799: Suzanne de Beaubigny, a royalist refugee from revolutionary France.
1517: Richard Mabon, a Catholic priest on pilgrimage to Jerusalem with his secretary, Nicholas Ahier.
1160: Raoul de Paisnel, a knight with a dark secret walking through Spain with his steward, Guillaume Bisson.
4000 BC: Egrasté, a sorceress, and Txeru, a man on an epic voyage.
Transgressions, reconciliations and people caught on the wrong side of history.
Omphalos. A journey through six thousand years of human history.

Publication Date: December 5, 2014
Crooked Cat Publications
Formats: eBook, Paperback
Pages: 312
ISBN: 978-1-910510-06-3
Genre: Historical Fiction
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Praise for Omphalos

“Omphalos is a powerful word, a powerful connotation, as are the stories focused on in this excellent collection. The author leads the reader from one story to the next like an easy progress through the chambers of La Hougue Bie, followed by a reverse journey of revelation. To say too much of how this is cleverly achieved through the excellent use of letters, prose and poetry, I feel, would spoil the enjoyment of a potential reader. The skilful writing techniques used make it a thoroughly engrossing read. I have no qualms in recommending ‘Omphalos’ to the lover of historical fiction and to those who enjoy a well-crafted tale.” – Nancy Jardine

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Mark Patton was born and grew up on the island of Jersey. He studied Archaeology & Anthropology at Cambridge and completed his PhD at University College London. He has taught at the Universities of Wales, Greenwich and Westminster, and currently teaches with The Open University. He is the author of two previous historical novels, Undreamed Shores (Crooked Cat, 2012) and An Accidental King (Crooked Cat 2013).
For more information please visit Mark Patton’s website and blog. You can also connect with him on Twitter and Goodreads.

Omphalos Blog Tour Schedule

Friday, December 5
Review at Back Porchervations
Monday, December 8
Guest Post & Giveaway at Words and Peace
Wednesday, December 10
Spotlight at CelticLady’s Reviews
Thursday, December 11
Spotlight at Book Babe
Guest Post at Just One More Chapter
Monday, December 15
Review at Book Nerd
Tuesday, December 16
Review at Svetlana’s Reads and Views
Wednesday, December 17
Spotlight at The Writing Desk
Thursday, December 18
Spotlight at Historical Fiction Connection
Guest Post at What Is That Book About
Friday, December 19
Review at Diary of an Eccentric
Spotlight at Let Them Read Books