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.

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


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

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

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!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

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.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Review: Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly

Inspired by the life of a real World War II heroine, this powerful debut novel reveals an incredible story of love, redemption, and terrible secrets that were hidden for decades.

On the eve of a fateful war, New York socialite Caroline Ferriday has her hands full with her post at the French consulate and a new love on the horizon. But Caroline's world is forever changed when Hitler's army invades Poland in September 1939—and then sets its sights on France.

An ocean away from Caroline, Kasia Kuzmerick, a Polish teenager, senses her carefree youth disappearing as she sinks deeper into her role as courier for the underground resistance movement. In a tense atmosphere of watchful eyes and suspect neighbors, one false move can have dire consequences.

For ambitious young German doctor, Herta Oberheuser, an ad for a government medical position seems her ticket out of a desolate life. But, once hired, she finds herself trapped in a male-dominated realm of Nazi secrets and power.

The lives of these three women are set on a collision course when the unthinkable happens and Kasia is sent to Ravensbrück, the notorious female-only Nazi concentration camp. The tragedy and triumph of their stories cross continents—from New York to Paris, and Germany to Poland—capturing the indomitable pull of compassion to bring justice to those whom history has forgotten.

In Lilac Girls, Martha Hall Kelly has crafted a remarkable novel of unsung women and their quest for love, happiness, and second chances. It is a story that will keep readers bonded with the characters, searching for the truth, until the final pages.

Published April 5th, 2016
by Ballantine Books
Kindle edition, 497 pages
*****

I know that I have said this many times in various reviews but I'll say it again.  When reading HF I love to be educated and entertained at the same time.  I've read many books focusing on World War II and the atrocities Hitler and the Nazis inflicted on innocent souls.  Having never heard of Ravensbruck before I wasn't prepared for what I read in this book at all and it wasn't until I read the author's notes that this had actually occurred.  At times it was hard to take in, but we are talking about WW II here.

As you can read above Caroline, Herta and Kasia are the 3 women this story revolves around.  The author has woven an intricate story, there were times I wondering what the connection this women would have and it was great to see the direction this story went.  Beginning in 1939 and continuing through to 1957 it isn't always that we stay with characters this long after the war has ended and that was a nice change.  Even when the war ended it didn't end (emotionally) for everyone.

"we were like flies stuck in honey, alive but not really living."

This is a story of survival and courage, of heartache and secrets, of not knowing and left wondering, it pulls at the heartstrings and a reminder of this horrible period in history.

This is the author debuts and she did a great job, with her meticulous research and layered plot I will definitely be on the lookout for more in the future.  The author's notes were wonderful and very much appreciated, great details and I loved reading about her trips to locations mentioned in Lilac Girls.  It was quite obvious she had a story to tell and was passionate about it.

Thank you to Random House for reaching out and providing a complimentary copy (via netgalley) for review.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Review: Glory Over Everything: Beyond the Kitchen House by Kathleen Grissom

A novel of family and long-buried secrets along the treacherous Underground Railroad. 

The author of the New York Times bestseller and beloved book club favorite The Kitchen House continues the story of Jamie Pyke, son of both a slave and master of Tall Oakes, whose deadly secret compels him to take a treacherous journey through the Underground Railroad.

Published in 2010, The Kitchen House became a grassroots bestseller. Fans connected so deeply to the book’s characters that the author, Kathleen Grissom, found herself being asked over and over “what happens next?” The wait is finally over.

 This new, stand-alone novel opens in 1830, and Jamie, who fled from the Virginian plantation he once called home, is passing in Philadelphia society as a wealthy white silversmith. After many years of striving, Jamie has achieved acclaim and security, only to discover that his aristocratic lover Caroline is pregnant. Before he can reveal his real identity to her, he learns that his beloved servant Pan has been captured and sold into slavery in the South. Pan’s father, to whom Jamie owes a great debt, pleads for Jamie’s help, and Jamie agrees, knowing the journey will take him perilously close to Tall Oakes and the ruthless slave hunter who is still searching for him. Meanwhile, Caroline’s father learns and exposes Jamie’s secret, and Jamie loses his home, his business, and finally Caroline.

Heartbroken and with nothing to lose, Jamie embarks on a trip to a North Carolina plantation where Pan is being held with a former Tall Oakes slave named Sukey, who is intent on getting Pan to the Underground Railroad. Soon the three of them are running through the Great Dismal Swamp, the notoriously deadly hiding place for escaped slaves. Though they have help from those in the Underground Railroad, not all of them will make it out alive.

Kindle, 384 pages
 Published April 5th 2016
 by Simon & Schuster
ARC from publisher via netgalley
*****


The synopsis above does a great job of explaining what this book is about.  Taking place 20 years after The Kitchen House ends, this one works as a stand along, though I recommend reading The Kitchen House because it is just that good.  It's one of those books that will stay with you long after you are finished.  Such is the case with Glory Over Everything.

Concentrating mostly on Jamie/James this book is told from the point of views of others as well, Pan, Sukey and Caroline.  This makes the book well rounded and allows the reader to connect and get to know the characters better.  How Jamie turned into James was an interesting and realistic process and one I enjoyed reading.

With vivid descriptions it wasn't hard to feel the emotion pulsing through this story.  From the slave trade, Underground Railway and society life in Philadelphia the author did a great job of portraying the time period in an authentic and believable manner. The dialogue was wonderful, especially Pan's - it just felt true to the time and character.

This was the type of book to be sat and savored, whether in one sitting or not.  It is highly emotional, dealing with a sensitive subject matter that draws on the heartstrings in a powerful way.  The author didn't mince words when it came to the treatment of slaves which makes this story all the more powerful and why it is having such an impact on readers. Glory Over Everything is a book that I highly recommend.

Thank you to Simon & Schuster via Netgalley for the opportunity to review this gem.

Monday, April 4, 2016

Review: The Storm Sister by Lucinda Riley

02_The Storm Sister

Gathered at their childhood home to mourn their father’s death, Ally D’Aplièse and her five adoptive sisters receive tantalizing clues to their distinct heritages. Ally soon finds herself in Norway where she begins to make sense of her elusive past in the second part of an epic new series by #1 internationally bestselling author Lucinda Riley. 

Olympic hopeful Ally is in the midst of preparations for one of the world’s most challenging yacht races when news of her beloved father’s death shocks the accomplished sailor. Saying goodbye to the love of her life, a man her family knows nothing about, she rushes back to her family home, an enchanting chateau where she and her five sisters—each adopted as infants—were raised on the shores of Lake Geneva. 

When new tragedy strikes on the high seas, pummeling Ally yet again with a terrible and unexpected loss, she turns her back on the water and instead follows her own North Star—an intriguing clue left by her father which leads her to Norway and the promise of unmasking her origins. Surrounded by the majestic beauty of an unfamiliar homeland, Ally begins to unpack the century-old story of a remarkable young woman named Anna Landvik, a talented singer with an astonishing link to composer Edvard Grieg and his celebrated musical accompaniment to Henrik Ibsen’s iconic play “Peer Gynt.”

Lucinda Riley’s captivating story brings together two resilient women—decades apart—weaving their stories into a moving examination of family, love, and identity.

Publication Date: March 22, 2016
Atria Books
Hardcover & eBook; 512 Pages
Series: The Seven Sisters
Genre: Historical Fiction/Romance
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****
The Storm Sister is book #2 in Lucinda Riley's Seven Sisters Series, though it isn't necessary at all to read the first book, The Seven Sisters first, I recommend it because it's such a good book.  The chapter bringing all the sisters together is pretty well the same as previous book, just from a different pov.

Taking on a setting I've never read before I was not disappointed.  Norway is one of those places not written in the HF genre much, which just added more charm to this series.  I found The Storm Sister not just educational but entertaining as well.  With the past story beginning in 1875 Norwary it follows the life of young Anna Landvik, from her humble beginnings leading cattle in the northern part of the country, to famous composer Grieg (he is playing on my Ipod as I type this review).

Though I found a few things predictable in this book, I enjoyed the authors descriptive writing, it wasn't hard to imagine and feel the emotion of Ally, Anna and Jens.  This isn't a short read, coming in over 500 pages it is long enough to really get to know the characters and delivers that depth to the plot that I love, making it easy to get lost in the story.  Progressing through the years till current day the author wove a great story with its twist and turns, heartbreak, world wars and romance.  I was able to get to know the plays well, their motives and feel the pain the outcome would bring.

Like I said in my review of The Seven Sisters I think the author has really taken on a major challenge with this series.  So far we have seen Brazil and now Norway, I can't wait to see where Lucinda Riley takes us next.



03_Lucinda RileyLucinda Riley was born in Ireland and wrote her first book aged 24. Her novel 'Hothouse Flower' (also called 'The Orchid House') was selected for the UK's Richard and Judy Bookclub in 2011 and went on to sell 2 million copies worldwide. She is a multiple New York Times bestselling author and has topped the bestseller charts in four European countries. In response to demand from her readers, she has recently re-written two books from her early writing career when published under her maiden name Lucinda Edmonds - the books are now being published as 'The Italian Girl' and 'The Angel Tree'.

'The Seven Sisters' is the first of a unique seven book series based allegorically on the mythology of the famous star constellation. Lucinda's books are translated into 28 languages and published in 38 countries. She lives with her husband and four children on the North Norfolk coast in England and in the South of France.

For more information visit http://thesevensistersseries.com.

You can connect with Lucinda Riley on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, and Goodreads.

04_The Storm Sister_Blog Tour Banner_FINAL


Tuesday, March 22 Review at Always with a Book
Friday, March 25 Review at CelticLady's Reviews
Wednesday, March 30 Review at Reading Is My SuperPower
Monday, April 4 Review at Just One More Chapter
Friday, April 8 Review at 100 Pages a Day
Monday, April 11 Review at Peeking Between the Pages
Friday, April 15 Review at First Impressions Reviews
Sunday, April 17 Interview at A Literary Vacation
Wednesday, April 20 Review at With Her Nose Stuck In A Book
Thursday, April 21 Review at Author Dianne Ascroft's Blog
Tuesday, April 26 Review at The Lit Bitch

Friday, April 1, 2016

Audio Review: The Sound of Glass by Karen White

The New York Times bestselling author of A Long Time Gone now explores a Southern family’s buried history, which will change the life of the woman who unearths it, secret by shattering secret.

It has been two years since the death of Merritt Heyward’s husband, Cal, when she receives unexpected news—Cal’s family home in Beaufort, South Carolina, bequeathed by Cal’s reclusive grandmother, now belongs to Merritt.

Charting the course of an uncertain life—and feeling guilt from her husband’s tragic death—Merritt travels from her home in Maine to Beaufort, where the secrets of Cal’s unspoken-of past reside among the pluff mud and jasmine of the ancestral Heyward home on the Bluff. This unknown legacy, now Merritt’s, will change and define her as she navigates her new life—a new life complicated by the arrival of her too young stepmother and ten-year-old half-brother.

Soon, in this house of strangers, Merritt is forced into unraveling the Heyward family past as she faces her own fears and finds the healing she needs in the salt air of the Low Country.

Kindle Edition, 426 pages
Published May 12th 2015 by NAL
ARC from publisher via Netgalley
*****
“It’s not only ghosts who haunt us. Our memories follow us through life, surprising us now and again when we are forced to turn around and look behind us.” 
The Sound of Glass is the story of 3 women, Merritt along with her stepmother and Edith the voice from the past.  I opted to listen to the audio version for this one and I am so glad that I did.  Therese Plummer and Susan Bennett were the readers and brought this book to life. It wasn't just that they read the parts but they were LoraLee, Merritt and Edith.  Told from the pov of these women, however mostly Merritt and LoraLee it wasn't hard to connect and feel the emotion they were dealing with.

Beginning in 1955 the repercussions of a downed plane travels through the generations to present day.  Issues from 1955 are still prevalent today, though not so hidden as the past but still a problem in today's society.

From Merritt living behind a thick wall of guilt, LoraLee concentrating on her journal and her son to Edith hiding a terrible secret I found this book to be a gripping story and hard to put down.  My dog was very grateful for the extra long walks.  As the story slowing unfolds, with its many twists and turns, the author brought everything together in a way that I didn't imagine.  There is a lot going on in this book, The Sound of Glass is a story of letting go of the past, new beginnings and conquering old fears (just to name a few).  It is full of wonderful quotes making me grateful for the ebook so I can record them.

Karen White is a relatively new author to me, I read The Forgotten Room which she penned with 2 others.  I enjoy her writing style and how she drew me into this story, definitely an author I will be reading more of.

Thank you to Penguin Group (via netgalley) for an ARC of this book, my audio version from personal library via Audible.

“Life is a lot like the interstate, where every exit is an entrance someplace else.” 

“We travel with the same packed bags we’ve always had, until we take the time to unpack them.