Thursday, May 26, 2016

Review & Giveaway: Promised to the Crown (Daughters of New France, Book One) by Aimie K. Runyan

02_Promised to the Crown

Bound for a new continent, and a new beginning.

In her illuminating debut novel, Aimie K. Runyan masterfully blends fact and fiction to explore the founding of New France through the experiences of three young women who, in 1667, answer Louis XIV’s call and journey to the Canadian colony. They are known as the filles du roi, or “King’s Daughters”—young women who leave prosperous France for an uncertain future across the Atlantic. Their duty is to marry and bring forth a new generation of loyal citizens.

 Each prospective bride has her reason for leaving—poverty, family rejection, a broken engagement. Despite their different backgrounds, Rose, Nicole, and Elisabeth all believe that marriage to a stranger is their best, perhaps only, chance of happiness. Once in Quebec, Elisabeth quickly accepts baker Gilbert Beaumont, who wants a business partner as well as a wife. Nicole, a farmer’s daughter from Rouen, marries a charming officer who promises comfort and security. Scarred by her traumatic past, Rose decides to take holy vows rather than marry. Yet no matter how carefully she chooses, each will be tested by hardship and heartbreaking loss—and sustained by the strength found in their uncommon friendship, and the precarious freedom offered by their new home.

An engaging, engrossing debut.”—Greer Macallister, USA Today bestselling author of The Magician’s Lie
An absorbing adventure with heart.”—Jennifer Laam, author of The Secret Daughter of the Tsar

Publication Date: April 26, 2016
Kensington
Paperback & eBook; 352 Pages
Series: Daughters of New France
Genre: Historical Fiction
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****


I am happy to be part of this tour of Promised to the Crown.  Being Canadian I am always on the lookout for historical fiction taking place in this beautiful country.  It's sometimes hard to find and this being the first in series means more to come.  This is Aimie K. Runyan's debut and I feel she is off to a really good start.  

Following the lives of 3 young women, Elizabeth, Nicole and Rose, all with different backgrounds and various reasons for going to Canada.  The author kept my attention throughout this book, she didn't sugar coat the crossing or the struggles these women faces in making decisions.  It wasn't hard to get to know them, feel their plight and sympathize with what life throws at them.

I found this book to be character driven and it would have been nice to learn more about the culture, lifestyle and see more interaction with the natives.  But then again this is the first in series so we'll see what comes next.  I still ended up giving this book 4 stars, being captivated in this story it was hard to put down and I am interested in the next chapter.


One of the things that stood out for me was the author's passion and desire to share this time period. Love author's notes!

"My purpose is not to depict these women as angels.  They were not.  They were real women with struggles, aspirations, and fears, who had the remarkable opportunity to help found a nation.  If they had a common virtue, it was bravery.  They left a prosperous, flourishing France, sacrificing all they had, with little chance of return, in order to marry strangers and raise families on a foreign and often dangerous frontier."



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03_Aimie K. RunyanAimie K. Runyan, member of the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers and Women's Fiction Writers Association, has been an avid student of French and Francophone Studies for more than fifteen years. While working on her Master's thesis on the brave women who helped found French Canada, she was fortunate enough to win a generous grant from the Quebec government to study onsite for three months which enabled the detailed research necessary for her work. Aimie lives in Colorado with her husband and two children.

 For more information please visit Aimie's website.

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

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Giveaway

Two copies of Promised to the Crown by Aimie K. Runyan are up for grabs!

To enter, please use the GLEAM form below.

Rules
– Giveaway ends at 11:59pm EST on May 31st. 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.

  Promised to the Crown

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Spotlight & Giveaway: Alice in Bed by Judith Hooper

One of her brothers is the greatest English novelist of his time; another is inventing American psychology.

The James family is famous in Boston and New York for its brilliance, eccentricity, and mesmerizing conversation. Alice James is no less remarkable than her brothers (Henry and William), but there is a problem: she is a girl. Her education has been haphazard, there are no colleges for women, and young ladies are expected to be Angels in the House. No one could be less suited to angelic domesticity than the tart-tongued, defiantly original Alice. She must chart her own course, but how?

Falling mysteriously ill while crossing the Atlantic at age 38, she becomes confined to her bed in a lodging house in provincial England. Thus begins her second life, when she recalls or redreams her life and struggles to make sense of it. How did her collapse begin? Was it “Father’s Ideas”? The night she drank absinthe and fell in love with a girl? The time William went to the asylum? The childhood years in Paris, when Father fired each of her governesses in turn? Was it the horrors of the Civil War, the erotic relations with the Temple cousins, the day Henry deserted her and sailed to Europe? Was it simply the oddness of “growing up James”?

Alice in Bed is an absorbing, poignant, sometimes hilarious journey through the Gilded Age with one of literature’s most unusual and captivating heroines.

Hardcover, 325 pages 
Published October 13th 2015 by Counterpoint







Judith Hooper was an editor at Omni magazine and is the author of Of Moths and Men and co-author of The Three-Pound Universe and Would the Buddha Wear a Walkman?: A Catalogue of Revolutionary Tools for Higher Consciousness.

She lives in Amherst, Massachusetts.


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Giveaway
I have an extra print copy up for grabs as well as one digitial copy.  Please note print copy mailed in Canada & US only.

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Monday, May 16, 2016

Review and Giveaway: Portrait of Conspiracy: Da Vinci's Disciples - Book One by Donna Russo Morin

02_The Portrait of Conspiracy
One murder ignites the powderkeg that threatens to consume the Medici's Florence.

 Amidst the chaos, five women and one legendary artist weave together a plot that could bring peace, or get them all killed. Seeking to wrest power from the Medici family in 15th Century Florence, members of the Pazzi family drew their blades in a church and slew Giuliano. But Lorenzo de Medici survives, and seeks revenge on everyone involved, plunging the city into a murderous chaos that takes dozens of lives. Bodies are dragged through the streets, and no one is safe. Five women steal away to a church to ply their craft in secret. Viviana, Fiammetta, Isabetta, Natasia, and Mattea are painters, not allowed to be public with their skill, but freed from the restrictions in their lives by their art. When a sixth member of their group, Lapaccia, goes missing, and is rumored to have stolen a much sought after painting as she vanished, the women must venture out into the dangerous streets to find their friend and see her safe. They will have help from one of the most renowned painters of their era the peaceful and kind Leonardo Da Vinci. It is under his tutelage that they will flourish as artists, and with his access that they will infiltrate some of the highest, most secretive places in Florence, unraveling one conspiracy as they build another in its place. 

Historical fiction at its finest, Donna Russo Morin begins a series of Da Vinci's disciples with a novel both vibrant and absorbing, perfect for the readers of Sarah Dunant.

"A riveting page-turner unlike any historical novel you’ve read, weaving passion, adventure, artistic rebirth, and consequences of ambition into the first of a trilogy by a masterful writer at the peak of her craft." -C. W. Gortner, author of The Confessions of Catherine de’ Medici and The Vatican Princess

Publication Date: May 10, 2016
Diversion Books
eBook & Paperback; 290 Pages
Genre: Historical Mystery
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*****

"Together, there is not a greater power than the strength of women bound to each other."
Donna Russo Morin is a relatively new author to me.  I enjoyed her book The King's Agent and felt privileged to have meet her last June in Denver (we talked about tattoo's,) and sadly I didn't grab a picture together.  I was super excited to hear she had a new book coming out.  Thank you to Amy at HFVBT for the invite to be part of this tour and Netgalley for an arc for review purposes.  

Portrait of Conspiracy takes place in one of my favorite countries, Italy during the time of Leonardo Da Vinci,  a man I know little about.  He doesn't take center stage here but offers a supporting role to a group of women artists. Not your ordinary group of women, it's a secret group reflecting the times when women weren't suppose to follow their own ambitions.  But when 2 witness the brutal murder of Giuliano de Medici and another suddenly disappears their bond further tightens. 

There was so much I enjoyed with this book. The character development made me connect with these women, to hear about their lives and get a great feel for the time period, landscape and life styles. 

 The story line was unique, though much was based on historical fact and I loved how the author laid that out in her 'What is Historically Factual and What is Not' chapter.  From the mysterious painting, the horrors of  Lorenzo de Medici's revenge to forbidden love this book kept me entertaining and longing for more.

The is the first book in Da Dinci's Disciples and I can't wait to hear what is next on the plate for this group of artist. 


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03_Donna Russo MorinDonna Russo Morin is the award winning of author of historical fiction. A graduate of the University of Rhode Island, she lives near the shore with her two sons, Devon and Dylan, her greatest works in progress. Donna enjoys meeting with book groups in person and via Skype chat.

Visit her website at www.donnarussomorin.com; friend her on Facebook and follow her on Twitter @DonnaRussoMorin.



Giveaway

To enter to win an eBook of PORTRAIT OF A CONSPIRACY by Donne Russo Morin please enter the giveaway via the GLEAM form below. FIVE copies are up for grabs!

Rules
– Giveaway ends at 11:59pm EST on June 3rd. You must be 18 or older to enter.
– Giveaway is open INTERNATIONALLY.
– 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.

  Portrait of a Conspiracy

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Monday, May 2, 2016

Review: The Dark Lady's Mask: A Novel of Shakespeare's Muse by Mary Sharratt

02_The Dark Lady's Mask
Shakespeare in Love meets Shakespeare’s Sister in this novel of England’s first professional woman poet and her collaboration and love affair with William Shakespeare.

 London, 1593. Aemilia Bassano Lanier is beautiful and accomplished, but her societal conformity ends there. She frequently cross-dresses to escape her loveless marriage and to gain freedoms only men enjoy, but a chance encounter with a ragged, little-known poet named Shakespeare changes everything.

 Aemilia grabs at the chance to pursue her long-held dream of writing and the two outsiders strike up a literary bargain. They leave plague-ridden London for Italy, where they begin secretly writing comedies together and where Will falls in love with the beautiful country — and with Aemilia, his Dark Lady. Their Italian idyll, though, cannot last and their collaborative affair comes to a devastating end. Will gains fame and fortune for their plays back in London and years later publishes the sonnets mocking his former muse. Not one to stand by in humiliation, Aemilia takes up her own pen in her defense and in defense of all women.

 The Dark Lady’s Mask gives voice to a real Renaissance woman in every sense of the word.

Publication Date: April 19, 2016
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Hardcover, eBook, Audio Book; 416 Pages
Genre: Historical Fiction
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****

Mary Sharratt is a relatively new author to me.  I loved her book Illuminations and eagerly looked forward to this one.  I was not disappointed at all.

 What I loved about The Dark Lady's Mask is that even though Shakespeare is a big part of this story he doesn't take center stage.  As you can read above Aemilia is an interesting character and the author made this an interesting and unique story.  Mary Skarratt breathed life to a little known historical character.  Though there isn't much actual details about her life the author made this one authentic reflecting the location and time period nicely.

The authors writing style made it easy to get lost here, I could feel Aemilia's frustrations, struggles as well as visualize so much.  Definitely a story I highly recommend.


Advance Praise

“An exquisite portrait of a Renaissance woman pursuing her artistic destiny in England and Italy, who may — or may not — be Shakespeare’s Dark Lady.” — MARGARET GEORGE, internationally bestselling author of Elizabeth I

“Perfectly chosen details and masterful characterization bring to life this swiftly moving, elegant story. As atmospheric and compelling as it is wise, The Dark Lady’s Mask is a gem not to be missed.” — LYNN CULLEN, bestselling author of Mrs. Poe and Twain’s End

“Mary Sharratt is a magician. This novel transports the reader to Elizabethan England with a tale of the bard and his love that is nothing short of amazing. Absorbing, emotional, historically fascinating. A work of marvelous ingenuity!” — M.J. ROSE, New York Times bestselling author of The Witch of Painted Sorrows


03_Mary Sharratt
MARY SHARRATT is an American writer who has lived in the Pendle region of Lancashire, England, for the past seven years. 

The author of the critically acclaimed novels Summit Avenue, The Real Minerva, and The Vanishing Point, Sharratt is also the co-editor of the subversive fiction anthology Bitch Lit, a celebration of female antiheroes, strong women who break all the rules.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Excerpt & Giveaway: Camelot's Queen by Nicole Evelina

02_Camelot's Queen
Nicole Evelina is touring the blogosphere with the release of her new book, Camelot's Queen, book 2 in her Guinevere's Tale Series.

  I thoroughly enjoyed the first book Daughter of Destiny (click on title to check out my review).  Time restrains prevented me from reviewing this new one as part of tour (it's loaded on my kindle and ready for a long plane ride this weekend). 

 But I am thrilled to offer this excerpt and a chance to win a copy of this new book.  Enjoy! (I know I will).






Preview of Camelot’s Queen by Nicole Evelina

I made it to my room and slammed the door. Alone at last, I leaned against the door, struggling to catch my breath. Tears spilled over as the enormity of the day finally sank in. I slid down to the floor and ran my hands through my hair. How could my life have changed so much in only a few hours? I thought Arthur had grown to love me, but he had just accepted a former lover back into his confidence after only having been reunited with her for a few hours. What did that mean for my marriage?
I didn’t know how long I spent contemplating my situation, but just as quickly as the tears had come, I started laughing. I was being ridiculous. Arthur had had to learn to live with Aggrivane at court long ago. Granted he’d sent my former betrothed on missions away from Camelot as often as possible, but he had still learned how to cope with his presence. I was behaving like a child. Galen had been right the day we argued in the forest so many years before. I really was worse than a fisherman’s wife. And worse, I had changed little with the passage of time. I stood, straightening my dress and mentally preparing myself to apologize to them both.
After a few deep breaths, I went back down to the meeting room, expecting to find Arthur and Sobian discussing the finer points of her new role. But to my surprise, the room was empty. Octavia came in, holding a tray to collect the ale pitcher and our used glasses.
“Do you know where Arthur went?”
She eyed me carefully. “He is in his room. Alone.” She emphasized the word, knowing I would wonder. “They told me about her new role. Are you in agreement that it is wise?”
“I will be,” I reassured her.
Octavia made a noise indicating she wasn’t so certain then busied herself cleaning up the table. That was when I saw the lone sheet of paper. Thinking it to be notes from Arthur and Sobian’s discussion, I bent over the table to get a better look.       
My blood turned to ice. The letters were formed of patterns made by varying lengths of horizontal, vertical, and diagonal lines. It was written in Ogham, the ancient language of the Druids, so it could not have come from Arthur. He hadn’t studied with them long enough to have learned it. Plus, its message was not one a husband leaves his wife.
I ran to Arthur’s room, rubbing my hand over the goose-pimpled flesh of my arm. “You may wish to rethink your decision,” I said as I entered.
He looked up. “Why is that?”
I held the paper out to him. “This was left in the meeting room.” I shivered again.
He plucked the paper out of my hand and turned it in several directions, trying to figure out how to read it. “Ogham. That’s unusual. What does it say?”
I grabbed it back, irritated beyond decorum. After what had happened with the madman and Sobian, I didn’t think I could take much more.
“That’s the problem. I think it’s a threat. ‘My queen, you may close your eyes to the one you scorned, but that will not keep me away. I will breathe your last breath so that you will live on forever in me.’
Arthur’s face darkened. “Only one man could claim such a thing.”

I looked at him quizzically, brow furrowing. “How do you know Sobian isn’t party to this? It appeared right after she did in the very room she last occupied.”


Camelot's Queen (Guinevere's Tale, Book Two) by Nicole Evelina

Publication Date: April 12, 2016
Lawson Gartner Publishing
eBook; 358 Pages
Series: Guinevere's Tale
Genre: Historical Fiction/Fantasy
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History remembers Guinevere’s sin, but it was Arthur who transgressed first. Forced into a marriage she neither anticipated nor desired, Guinevere finds herself High Queen, ruling and fighting alongside Arthur as they try to subdue the Saxons, Irish and Picts who threaten Britain from every direction. Though her heart still longs for her lost love, Guinevere slowly grows to care for her husband as they join together to defeat their enemies.

Meanwhile, within the walls of Camelot their closest allies plot against them. One schemes to make Guinevere his own, another seeks revenge for past transgressions, while a third fixes her eyes on the throne. When the unthinkable happens and Guinevere is feared dead, Arthur installs a new woman in her place, one who will poison his affections toward her, threatening Guinevere’s fragile sanity and eventually driving her into the arms of her champion.

Amid this tension a new challenge arises for the king and queen of Camelot: finding the Holy Grail, a sacred relic that promises lasting unity. But peace, as they will soon learn, can be just as dangerous as war. As the court begins to turn on itself, it becomes clear that the quest that was to be Arthur’s lasting legacy may end in the burning fires of condemnation.

This highly anticipated sequel to Daughter of Destiny proves there is much more to Guinevere’s story than her marriage and an affair. See the legend you think you know through her eyes and live the adventure of Camelot’s golden days yourself – but prepared to suffer its downfall as well.

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03_Nicole Evelina

Nicole Evelina is a St. Louis historical fiction and romantic comedy writer. Her debut novel, Daughter of Destiny, the first book of an Arthurian legend trilogy that tells Guinevere’s life story from her point of view, has been short-listed for the Chaucer Award in Early Historical Fiction. Camelot’s Queen is its sequel.

Later this year, she will release Been Searching for You (May 10), a romantic comedy that won the 2015 Romance Writers of America (RWA) Great Expectations and Golden Rose contests, and Madame Presidentess (July 25), a historical novel about Victoria Woodhull, America's first female Presidential candidate, which has been short-listed for the Goethe Award in Late Historical Fiction.

She hopes to have the final book in Guinevere’s Tale available in late 2016 or early 2017.

Nicole is one of only six authors who completed a week-long writing intensive taught by #1 New York Times bestselling author Deborah Harkness. Nicole has traveled to England twice to research the Guinevere’s Tale trilogy, where she consulted with internationally acclaimed author and historian Geoffrey Ashe, as well as Arthurian/Glastonbury expert Jaime George, the man who helped Marion Zimmer Bradley research The Mists of Avalon.

Nicole is a member of and book reviewer for the The Historical Novel Society, and Sirens (a group supporting female fantasy authors), as well as a member of the Historical Writers of America, Women’s Fiction Writers Association, Romance Writers of America, the St. Louis Writer’s Guild, Women Writing the West, Broad Universe (promoting women in fantasy, science fiction and horror), Alliance of Independent Authors and the Independent Book Publishers Association.

She spent 15 years researching Arthurian legend, Celtic Britain and the various peoples, cultures and religious practices that shaped the country after the withdrawal of Rome. Other historical interests include the Middle Ages and women who made their mark on history. She’s also a frequent visitor to Chicago, where Been Searching for You takes place.

Her website/blog is http://nicoleevelina.com and she can be found on Twitter as well as on Pinterest, Facebook, Goodreads, Instagram and Tumblr.


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Giveaway: Print is open to US addresses only and eBook is open internationally.  Contest closes May 13th.  To enter leave a comment below, for more entries spread the word (leave link in a comment), like authors FB page or JustOneMoreChapters FB page also.  Good luck!




Monday, April 25, 2016

Review: The Railwayman's Wife by Ashley Hay

02_The Railwayman's Wife
Amidst the strange, silent aftermath of World War II, a widow, a poet, and a doctor search for lasting peace and fresh beginnings in this internationally acclaimed, award-winning novel.

 When Anikka Lachlan’s husband, Mac, is killed in a railway accident, she is offered—and accepts—a job at the Railway Institute’s library and searches there for some solace in her unexpectedly new life. But in Thirroul, in 1948, she’s not the only person trying to chase dreams through books. There’s Roy McKinnon, who found poetry in the mess of war, but who has now lost his words and his hope. There’s Frank Draper, trapped by the guilt of those his medical treatment and care failed on their first day of freedom. All three struggle to find their own peace, and their own new story.

 But along with the firming of this triangle of friendship and a sense of lives inching towards renewal come other extremities—and misunderstandings. In the end, love and freedom can have unexpected ways of expressing themselves. 

 The Railwayman’s Wife explores the power of beginnings and endings, and how hard it can sometimes be to tell them apart. Most of all, it celebrates love in all its forms, and the beauty of discovering that loving someone can be as extraordinary as being loved yourself.

Publication Date: April 5, 2016
Atria Books
Hardcover, eBook, & AudioBook; 288 Pages
Genre: Historical Fiction/Literary
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***

"There's some comfort in seeing things go on: birds keep singing, buses keep running.  But if you want those things to continue, perhaps you have to accept that the other kinds of things, unhappier, even horrific ones, will continue too.  And that's harder."

One of the things that drew me to this book was the location, New South Wales, Australia.  I don't visit (via reading) down under much but jump whenever I can get the chance.  There is a wealth of wonderful authors from Australia and I'd hate to miss out.

The Railwayman's Wife is a story of love, lose and how to carry on.  The author's writing was descriptive and it wasn't hard to visualize the scenery. The tone of this book was quiet and understated, not a lot of action but gave off that feeling of grief and people struggling to heal.

Taking place years after the conclusion of WW II there are many war widows around but Ana isn't one of them, her husband has died at home and she struggles to fit in. But there is also Frank Draper and Roy McKinnon back from the war with their own baggage of guilt and adjusting to what used to be a normal life.  Ashley Hay's pose is smooth and who gracefully takes the reader on a journey through, guilt, grief and self discovery.

Praise
“Hay immerses the reader in Mac and Ani’s relationship, splicing flashbacks to happier times into the central narrative. Hay’s poetic gifts are evident in her descriptions of the wild coastal landscape and Roy’s measured verse. This poignant, elegant novel delves into the depth of tragedy, the shaky ground of recovery, and the bittersweet memories of lost love. Fans of Jodi Daynard and Susanna Kearsley will adore this.” -Booklist “Hay has lovingly crafted a poignant, character-driven novel filled with heartache and hope, which is transferred to the reader through lyrical prose, poetic dialogue and stunning imagery.” -RT Book Reviews

 “Hay is both cerebral and emotional in portraying life's catastrophes and the way people cope. As if her message is too raw to lay out in blazing color, she camouflages it in poetry and half-seen images—and it works. The message is clear, and the shocks are softened but no less there. Multilayered, graceful, couched in poetry, supremely honest, gentle yet jarring, Hay's thought-provoking novel pulls you along slowly, like a deep river that is deceptively calm but full of hidden rapids. Much to ponder.” -Kirkus

“Exquisitely written and deeply felt…a true book of wonders.” –Geraldine Brooks, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Secret Chord

“An absorbing and uplifting read.” –M.L. Stedman, author of The Light Between Oceans
“This is a book in which grief and love are so entwined they make a new and wonderful kind of sense.” –Fiona McFarlane, author of The Night Guest

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03_Ashley Hay
Ashley Hay is the internationally acclaimed author of four nonfiction books, including The Secret: The Strange Marriage of Annabella Milbanke and Lord Byron, and the novels The Body in the Clouds and The Railwayman’s Wife, which was honored with the Colin Roderick Award by the Foundation for Australian Literary Studies and longlisted for the Miles Franklin Literary Award, the most prestigious literary prize in Australia, among numerous other accolades.

She lives in Brisbane, Australia. For more information please visit Ashley Hay's website.


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Thursday, April 21, 2016

Review: The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce

Meet Harold Fry, recently retired. He lives in a small English village with his wife, Maureen, who seems irritated by almost everything he does, even down to how he butters his toast. Little differentiates one day from the next. Then one morning the mail arrives, and within the stack of quotidian minutiae is a letter addressed to Harold in a shaky scrawl from a woman he hasn't seen or heard from in twenty years. Queenie Hennessy is in hospice and is writing to say goodbye.

Leaving Maureen to her chores, Harold heads to the corner mailbox, intending a quick walk to post his reply. Instead, inspired by a chance encounter, he becomes convinced that he absolutely must deliver his message to Queenie in person. And thus begins the unlikely pilgrimage at the heart of Rachel Joyce's remarkable debut. Harold Fry is determined to walk six hundred miles from Kingsbridge to the hospice in Berwick-upon-Tweed because, he believes, as long as he walks, Queenie will live.

Still in his yachting shoes and light coat, Harold embarks on his urgent quest through the countryside. Along the way he meets one fascinating character after another, each of whom unlocks his long-dormant spirit of youth and sense of promise. Memories of his first dance with Maureen, his wedding day, his joy in fatherhood come rushing back to him-allowing him to reconcile his losses and regrets. As for Maureen, she finds herself missing Harold for the first time in years.

And then there is the unfinished business with Queenie Hennessy.

A novel of unsentimental charm, humour, and profound insight into the thoughts and feelings we all bury deep within our hearts, The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry introduces Rachel Joyce as a wise-and utterly irresistible-storyteller.

Published July 24, 2012
Doubleday Canada
*****
“If I just keep putting one foot in front of the other, it stands to reason that I'm going to get there. I've begun to think we sit far more than we're supposed to." He smiled. "Why else would we have feet?”
I find sometimes when reading books with rave reviews my expectation level is elevated and in the end wondering to myself  'what did I miss?' because it didn't hit that mark for me.  With The Pilgrimage of Harold Fry I was not disappointed, only mad at myself for waiting so long to read this one.

At first I thought this must be a comical story because it couldn't possible be anything but.  As the layers were stripped away this was a journey of remembering, of self discovery and forgiveness. With wife Maureen left at home she deals with this time alone to open up and be honest with herself.

I loved this book.  The author wove a heartwarming story, with narrative jumping between Harold and Maureen it was sad at times but also full of hope and healing.

Thank you to DoubleDayCanada (via Netgalley) for a complimentary copy for an honest review.


RACHEL JOYCE is an award-winning writer of more than twenty original plays for BBC Radio 4. She started writing after a twenty-year acting career, performing leading roles for the Royal Shakespeare Company. Joyce lives on a farm in Gloucestershire, England, with her husband and four children, and is at work on her second novel.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Guestpost by Mercedes Rochelle (author of The Sons of Godwine)

I am happy to have Mercedes Rochelle stop by JustOneMoreChapter today with this special guest post.  She is currently touring the blog world with her newest book The Sons of Godwine.


Who Was Wulfnoth Godwineson? 
by Mercedes Rochelle

In this 950th anniversary year of the Battle of Hastings, most of us have heard the story about Harold Godwineson (or Godwinson), last of the Anglo-Saxon kings and the arrow in his eye. But how many know about his younger brother Wulfnoth? Born about 20 years after his famous sibling, Wulfnoth was whisked away as hostage for his father's good behavior when he was only about 12 years old. In all the confusion surrounding Godwine's return from exile in 1052, he was probably kidnapped by the Archbishop Robert of Jumièges, who fled from London with the rest of Edward's Norman allies. Robert turned over Wulfnoth and cousin Hakon to William, claiming (in one version) that King Edward had declared the Norman Duke as his heir, and sent the boys along as guarantee of his pledge. Presumable the Duke did not investigate the validity of this promise. Why should he suspect the word of an Archbishop?

Poor Wulfnoth was in quite a fix. After all, he was the youngest son and hence, expendable. At the time he was abducted, his father was striving to get his position back. Earl Godwine probably didn't even know his son was missing until after the fact. How culpable was the king? Could Godwine accuse him of betraying his trust? Not likely. Would Godwine have written to Duke William offering to pay a ransom for his son? Wulfnoth was not likely ever to know, and his father died the next year, which must have seemed like a catastrophe to the lonely youth.

I've read some Victorian-era historians who bemoan the innocent prisoner kept under lock and key. But I suspect his confinement was more in the nature of a high-ranking son of a noble, raised in the ducal household to ensure the loyalty of the father. The captive son would be treated like a squire or even a member of the family, provisionally allowed to roam free with the understanding that he would not try to leave. Or at least, I hope this is how Wulfnoth was treated, for he never deserved his fate. I can only suspect the boy was a powerful negotiating tool for the Duke, just in case the opportunity arose. And if King Edward really did offer William the crown, of course he would keep the boy as security. There should have been no reason to put him in a prison cell.

When Harold made his fatal oath to support William's claim to the throne, once again Wulfnoth had to stay as surety for his promise; it seems that Hakon was not as important, and William let him go home. Once Harold took the throne, I wonder if William was tempted to kill his hostage? If the Duke was as nasty as he is made out to be, surely one would have expected him to take his revenge. But he didn't. In fact, Wulfnoth was the Duke's hostage until the day William died; on his death bed, a repentant William the Conqueror released all his hostages.

Alas, Wulfnoth's freedom was short-lived. William Rufus is said to have rushed to England to claim his patrimony, taking Wulfnoth with him. Having a Godwineson on the loose was too risky for the Norman heir; the last thing Rufus needed was a new rebellion with a puppet figurehead. Of course by then, Wulfnoth had been a captive so many years he had no friends in England, no property, nor any family left, for they had all fled the country and his sister Queen Editha had died in 1075. So he wasn't much of a threat, and the new king was content to confine Wulfnoth to Winchester, where he may have become a monk at the cloister. He died in the year 1094.

It's interesting to me that the least dramatic and least talked-about Son of Godwine is the only one to have survived the events of 1066. In my world of historical fiction, this gave him the opportunity to compile the remembrances of his brothers and finish the chronicle begun by his sister Editha. In her words: I preserved my real story, and intend to pass it on to my last surviving brother Wulfnoth, who can prepare it for a future chronicler not hostile to our house. Who is that chronicler? Myself, of course!

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03_Mercedes Rochelle AuthorBorn in St. Louis MO with a degree from University of Missouri, Mercedes Rochelle learned about living history as a re-enactor and has been enamored with historical fiction ever since. A move to New York to do research and two careers ensued, but writing fiction remains her primary vocation. She lives in Sergeantsville, NJ with her husband in a log home they had built themselves.

For more information visit Mercedes Rochelle's website and blog. You can also follow her on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.


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Emerging from the long shadow cast by his formidable father, Harold Godwineson showed himself to be a worthy successor to the Earldom of Wessex. In the following twelve years, he became the King's most trusted advisor, practically taking the reins of government into his own hands. And on Edward the Confessor's death, Harold Godwineson mounted the throne—the first king of England not of royal blood. Yet Harold was only a man, and his rise in fortune was not blameless. Like any person aspiring to power, he made choices he wasn't particularly proud of. Unfortunately, those closest to him sometimes paid the price of his fame.

This is a story of Godwine's family as told from the viewpoint of Harold and his younger brothers. Queen Editha, known for her Vita Ædwardi Regis, originally commissioned a work to memorialize the deeds of her family, but after the Conquest historians tell us she abandoned this project and concentrated on her husband, the less dangerous subject. In THE SONS OF GODWINE and FATAL RIVALRY, I am telling the story as it might have survived had she collected and passed on the memoirs of her tragic brothers.

This book is part two of The Last Great Saxon Earls series. Book one, GODWINE KINGMAKER, depicted the rise and fall of the first Earl of Wessex who came to power under Canute and rose to preeminence at the beginning of Edward the Confessor's reign. Unfortunately, Godwine's misguided efforts to champion his eldest son Swegn recoiled on the whole family, contributing to their outlawry and Queen Editha's disgrace. Their exile only lasted one year and they returned victorious to London, though it was obvious that Harold's career was just beginning as his father's journey was coming to an end.

Harold's siblings were all overshadowed by their famous brother; in their memoirs we see remarks tinged sometimes with admiration, sometimes with skepticism, and in Tostig's case, with jealousy. We see a Harold who is ambitious, self-assured, sometimes egocentric, imperfect, yet heroic. His own story is all about Harold, but his brothers see things a little differently. Throughout, their observations are purely subjective, and witnessing events through their eyes gives us an insider’s perspective.

Harold was his mother's favorite, confident enough to rise above petty sibling rivalry but Tostig, next in line, was not so lucky. Harold would have been surprised by Tostig's vindictiveness, if he had ever given his brother a second thought. And that was the problem. Tostig's love/hate relationship with Harold would eventually destroy everything they worked for, leaving the country open to foreign conquest. This subplot comes to a crisis in book three of the series, FATAL RIVALRY.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Giveaway: The Winemakers by Jan Moran

1956: When Caterina Rosetta inherits a cottage in the countryside of Italy from a grandmother she's never known, she discovers a long-buried family secret -- a secret so devastating, it threatens the future of everything her mother has worked for.

Many years before, her mother's hard-won dreams of staking her family's claim in the vineyards of California came to fruition; but as an old murder comes to light, and Caterina uncovers a tragic secret that may destroy the man she loves, she realizes her happiness will depend on revealing the truth of her mother's buried past.

From author Jan Moran comes The Winemakers, a sweeping, romantic novel that will hold you in its grasp until the last delicious sip.







Jan Moran is a Rizzoli bestselling and award winning author. She writes historical women's fiction for St. Martin's Press (Scent of Triumph, The Winemakers), contemporary women's fiction (Flawless, Beauty Mark, Runway), and nonfiction books (Vintage Perfumes, Fabulous Fragrances). Her stories are smart and stylish, and written with emotional depth. Jan often draws on her international travel and business experiences, infusing her books with realistic details.

The Midwest Book Review and Kirkus have recommended her books, calling her heroines strong, complex, and resourceful. She likes to talk to readers at www.janmoran.com and on social media. She lives in southern California and loves lattes and iced coffee, anything chocolate, and Whole Foods Double Green smoothies to balance it all out.

Connect with the author: Website Twitter Pinterest Facebook Instagram


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Monday, April 18, 2016

Review: The Wedding Dress by Rachel Hauck

Four brides. One Dress.

 A tale of faith, redemption, and timeless love. Charlotte owns a chic Birmingham bridal boutique. Dressing brides for their big day is her gift . . . and her passion. But with her own wedding day approaching, why can't she find the perfect dress...or feel certain she should marry Tim?

Then Charlotte discovers a vintage dress in a battered trunk at an estate sale. It looks brand-new-shimmering with pearls and satin, hand-stitched and timeless in its design. But where did it come from? Who wore it? Who welded the lock shut and tucked the dog tags in that little sachet? Who left it in the basement for a ten-year-old girl? And what about the mysterious man in the purple vest who insists the dress had been "redeemed."

Charlotte's search for the gown's history-and its new bride-begins as a distraction from her sputtering love life. But it takes on a life of its own as she comes to know the women who have worn the dress. Emily from 1912. Mary Grace from 1939. Hillary from 1968. Each with her own story of promise, pain, and destiny. And each with something unique to share. For woven within the threads of the beautiful hundred-year-old gown is the truth about Charlotte's heritage, the power of courage and faith, and the timeless beauty of finding true love.

Paperback, 352 pages 
Published April 2nd 2012 
by Thomas Nelson (first published January 1st 2012)
****

This book spans many years (1912-current) and follows the dress.  Marriage is (or at least should be) such an important decision but in days long past it was parents, social classes and money that directed parents to decide for their children. Which is where this story begins.
With 4 different brides, each with different backgrounds it is the wedding dress that ultimately connects them in ways they never imagined.

The story weaves back and forth in time from the origins back in 1912 to Charlotte as she searches for clues to the dress but also does some serious soul searching in regards to her our upcoming nuptials.

I enjoyed this book, the author drew me in with the unique bond, trying to unravel the mystery myself is always fun.  But with twists and scenarios I didn't anticipate making this an interesting read.  This is Christian fiction and that was showcased nicely, not over the top but in a realistic manner of a Christian (taking things to the Lord in prayer).  Rachel Hauck is a new author to me and one that I will read more of.

Thank you to Thomas Nelson (via netgalley) for a complimentary copy of this book for review purposes.