Thursday, October 8, 2015

Review/Giveaway; Mistress of the Court by Laura Purcell

The second  in Laura Purcell’s captivating and acclaimed series of novels chronicling the lives and loves of the consorts and mistresses of Britain’s rash, reckless and ebullient Hanoverian kings. 

Her first novel, Queen of Bedlam, was published by Myrmidon in the summer of 2014.

Orphaned and trapped in an abusive marriage, Henrietta Howard has little left to lose. She stakes everything on a new life in Hanover with its royal family, the heirs to the British throne.

Henrietta’s beauty and intelligence soon win her the friendship of clever Princess Caroline and her mercurial husband, Prince George. But, as time passes, it becomes clear that friendship is the last thing on the hot-blooded young prince’s mind. Dare Henrietta give into his advances and anger her violent husband? Dare she refuse?

Whatever George’s shortcomings, Princess Caroline is determined to make the family a success. Yet the feud between her husband and his obstinate father threatens all she has worked for. As England erupts in Jacobite riots, her family falls apart. She vows to save the country for her children to inherit – even if it costs her pride and her marriage.

Set in the turbulent years of the Hanoverian accession, Mistress of the Court tells the story of two remarkable women at the centre of George II’s reign.

“Ms. Purcell’s knowledge of the intimate life of the Hanoverians is stunning, and in this novel she has brought a remarkable, and unappreciated herione to gritty, heart-breaking life.” –Anita Seymour, author of Royalist Rebel

“Laura Purcell is a wonderful storyteller, and Mistress of the Court a fabulous Georgian read!”–Lucinda Brant, NY Times bestselling author of Georgian romances and mysteries

Paperback: 448 pages
Publisher: Myrmidon Books Ltd (4 Aug. 2015)

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It's rare when I venture past the reign of Queen Elizabeth I in my reading.  I know the names of the various kings and queens but that's about it.  I started Mistress of the Court with both excitement and a little trepidation (would I be lost in an unfamiliar time?).

I am happy to report that I thoroughly enjoyed this book.  The author created characters that I really got to know, not just on the surface but she got inside of them which had me feeling much empathy for their plight.

The story weaves the POV which I liked, it gives the reader both sides of certain plot lines.  Again not being familiar with issues of the day, I learned much as I was also entertained.  The outline of this book above does a great job with what this book is about, no need for me to add to it.  The authors writing was smooth and her knowledge of this time period is evident.  Reading it wasn't hard to feel the life style of that era. Upon closing the book I googled what I could about both Henrietta and Caroline, even King George (was he really that nasty?).  I think I have myself a new time period to study and read about.  The conflicts, family drama seem as typical as any other British royalty and the author has done a great job with Mistress of the Court. 

There is a nice couple pages with Author's notes which just completed this book perfectly. I eagerly away the sequel and reading more of her books.

 To win a copy of this book (worldwide giveaway).  Just leave a comment below, contest closes on Oct. 24th.  More entries if you spread the word (leave a link below).


Purchase Links

Amazon UK | Amazon


Laura PurcellLaura Purcell is a former Waterstones bookseller who lives in Colchester. She is a member of the Society for Court Studies and Historic Royal Palaces and featured on a recent PBS documentary, talking about Queen Caroline’s life at Hampton Court.

She maintains a history blog at



Laura Purcell’s TLC Book Tours TOUR STOPS:

Wednesday, September 16th: Raven Haired Girl
Monday, September 21st: Hoser’s Blog
Wednesday, September 23rd: Living in the Kitchen with Puppies
Wednesday, September 30th: Unabridged Chick
Wednesday, September 30th: Books Without Any Pictures
Thursday, October 1st: The Maiden’s Court
Friday, October 2nd: Raven Haired Girl – author Q&A
Monday, October 5th: Broken Teepee
Monday, October 5th: Patricia’s Wisdom
Tuesday, October 6th: A Chick Who Reads
Wednesday, October 7th: A Literary Vacation
Thursday, October 8th: Just One More Chapter
Friday, October 9th: A Bookish Affair
Monday, October 12th: Luxury Reading
Tuesday, October 13th: Open Book Society
Wednesday, October 14th:
Thursday, October 15th: Bibliophilia, Please
Monday, October 19th: BookBub – author guest post
Tuesday, October 27th: Reading Lark

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Waiting on Wednesday: Twain's End by Lynn Cullen

  Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event that is hosted by Jill  at  Breaking the Spine and spotlights upcoming releases that we’re eagerly anticipating.   


 This week I am waiting for:

Hardcover, 352 pages
Expected publication: October 13th 2015 by Gallery Books

From the bestselling and highly acclaimed author of Mrs. Poe comes a fictionalized imagining of the personal life of America’s most iconic writer: Mark Twain.

In March of 1909, Mark Twain cheerfully blessed the wedding of his private secretary, Isabel V. Lyon, and his business manager, Ralph Ashcroft. One month later, he fired both. He proceeded to write a ferocious 429-page rant about the pair, calling Isabel “a liar, a forger, a thief, a hypocrite, a drunkard, a sneak, a humbug, a traitor, a conspirator, a filthy-minded and salacious slut pining for seduction.” Twain and his daughter, Clara Clemens, then slandered Isabel in the newspapers, erasing her nearly seven years of devoted service to their family. How did Lyon go from being the beloved secretary who ran Twain’s life to a woman he was determined to destroy?

In Twain’s End, Lynn Cullen reimagines the tangled relationships between Twain, Lyon, and Ashcroft, as well as the little-known love triangle between Helen Keller, her teacher Anne Sullivan Macy, and Anne’s husband, John Macy, which comes to light during their visit to Twain’s Connecticut home in 1909. Add to the party a furious Clara Clemens, smarting from her own failed love affair, and carefully kept veneers shatter.

Based on Isabel Lyon’s extant diary, Twain’s writings and letters, and events in Twain’s boyhood that may have altered his ability to love, Twain’s End explores this real-life tale of doomed love.

What are you waiting for?

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Review: The Sisters of Versailles (Mistresses of Versailles, Book One) by Sally Christie

A sumptuous and sensual tale of power, romance, family, and betrayal centered around four sisters and one King. Carefully researched and ornately detailed, The Sisters of Versailles is the first book in an exciting new historical fiction trilogy about King Louis XV, France’s most “well-beloved” monarch, and the women who shared his heart and his bed.

Goodness, but sisters are a thing to fear.

Set against the lavish backdrop of the French Court in the early years of the 18th century, The Sisters of Versailles is the extraordinary tale of the five Nesle sisters: Louise, Pauline, Diane, Hortense, and Marie-Anne, four of whom became mistresses to King Louis XV. Their scandalous story is stranger than fiction but true in every shocking, amusing, and heartbreaking detail.

Court intriguers are beginning to sense that young King Louis XV, after seven years of marriage, is tiring of his Polish wife. The race is on to find a mistress for the royal bed as various factions put their best foot – and women – forward. The King’s scheming ministers push Louise, the eldest of the aristocratic Nesle sisters, into the arms of the King. Over the following decade, the four sisters: sweet, naive Louise; ambitious Pauline; complacent Diane, and cunning Marie Anne, will conspire, betray, suffer, and triumph in a desperate fight for both love and power.

In the tradition of The Other Boleyn Girl, The Sisters of Versailles is a clever, intelligent, and absorbing novel that historical fiction fans will devour. Based on meticulous research on a group of women never before written about in English, Sally Christie’s stunning debut is a complex exploration of power and sisterhood; of the admiration, competition, and even hatred that can coexist within a family when the stakes are high enough.

Publication Date: September 1, 2015
Publisher: Atria Books/Simon & Schuster
Formats: Ebook, Paperback
Pages: 432
ISBN-10: 1501102966
Genre: Historical Fiction
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I've never really been interested in the French court, could it be that most of the Kings are named Louis and that just confuses me?.  With all the scandal at the English court maybe I just figured they were the only ones with all the juicy gossip.  These days I am learning such is not the case with the French. 

You just have to read the outline above to know this is going to be an interesting book.  Having never heard of the Nesle sisters or even that 4 of the 5 sisters becoming mistress to the same king, one can't help wondering if this is actually fact or fiction.

With the story weaving between each of the sisters it wasn't hard to get to know them, to see what motivates them and to feel the sibling rivalry that happens between sisters.  There were also letters between each other, further supporting their feelings for each other.  I was quite entertained learning about these girls, how they interacted with each other and their unique personalities. 

King Louis XV is one I knew nothing about previously, and what I have learned through this book is that he is easily controlled by those around him except when it came to his mistresses - when he wanted something (someone) nothing got in his way.

I liked the authors writing style, the different chapter pov's kept me engaged and eager to keep reading.  The Sisters of Versailles is the first of a planned trilogy, which I look forward to reading.

But through it all, through the good, the bad, the sin and the scandal, the heartbreak and the joy, the exiles and the deaths, through it all, they were my sisters.  And now I am all that is left.  I sit in my darkened rooms, an old woman, passing my days rustling through their letters and my memories.  If I am careful, and still, I can hear their voices once again.



“A stunning breadth of period detail, offered in a fresh, contemporary voice.” —Juliet Grey, author of the acclaimed Marie Antoinette trilogy

“Sally Christie’s The Sisters of Versailles is an intriguing romp through Louis XV’s France. Filled with lush backdrops, rich detail, and colorful characters, fans of historical fiction will enjoy this glimpse into the lost golden era of the French monarchy.” – Allison Pataki, author of The Accidental Empress


I’m a life-long history buff – and I mean life-long. One of the first adult books I read was Antonia Fraser’s masterful Mary, Queen of Scots. Wow! That book just blew my little ten year old mind: something about the way it brought the past right back to life, made it live again on the page. I date my obsession with history to that time, but I’d been writing (“writing”) ever since I was able to hold a pencil.

If you’d told my 12-year old self that I’d not be a writer when I grew up, I would have laughed you out of the tree house. With a few detours along the way, to work overseas in consulting and development, as well as to go to business school, I’ve finally come full circle to where I think I should be.

I currently live in Toronto and when I’m not writing, I’m playing lots of tennis; doing random historical research (old census records are my favorite); playing Scrabble, and squirrel-watching (the room where I write has French doors leading out to a deck; I avidly follow, and feed, a scruffy gang).

For more information please visit Sally Christie’s website. You can also find her on Goodreads and Pinterest.


Monday, September 14
Review at Reading the Past
Tuesday, September 15
Review at Book Lovers Paradise
Interview & Giveaway at Mina’s Bookshelf
Wednesday, September 16
Review at Bookish
Thursday, September 17
Review at The Book Binder’s Daughter
Friday, September 18
Review & Giveaway at The True Book Addict
Review at History From a Woman’s Perspective
Saturday, September 19
Spotlight at Romantic Historical Reviews
Monday, September 21
Review at
Tuesday, September 22
Spotlight at Historical Fiction Connection
Wednesday, September 23
Review & Giveaway at History Undressed
Thursday, September 24
Spotlight & Giveaway at Passages to the Past
Friday, September 25
Spotlight at Historical Readings & Views
Monday, September 28
Review & Giveaway at View From the Birdhouse
Tuesday, September 29
Review at So Many Books, So Little Time
Thursday, October 1
Review at Genre Queen
Review at bookramblings
Friday, October 2
Review at Curling Up By the Fire
Monday, October 5
Review at Ageless Pages Reviews
Tuesday, October 6
Review at Just One More Chapter
Wednesday, October 7
Review at The Lit Bitch
Thursday, October 8
Interview & Giveaway at Reading Lark
Friday, October 9
Review & Giveaway at Historical Fiction Obsession

Monday, October 5, 2015

Review: The Lake House by Kate Morton

From the New York Times and internationally bestselling author of The Secret Keeper and The Distant Hours, an intricately plotted, spellbinding new novel of heart-stopping suspense and uncovered secrets.

Living on her family’s idyllic lakeside estate in Cornwall, England, Alice Edevane is a bright, inquisitive, innocent, and precociously talented sixteen-year-old who loves to write stories. But the mysteries she pens are no match for the one her family is about to endure…

One midsummer’s eve, after a beautiful party drawing hundreds of guests to the estate has ended, the Edevanes discover that their youngest child, eleven-month-old Theo, has vanished without a trace. What follows is a tragedy that tears the family apart in ways they never imagined.

Decades later, Alice is living in London, having enjoyed a long successful career as an author. Theo’s case has never been solved, though Alice still harbors a suspicion as to the culprit. Miles away, Sadie Sparrow, a young detective in the London police force, is staying at her grandfather’s house in Cornwall. While out walking one day, she stumbles upon the old estate—now crumbling and covered with vines, clearly abandoned long ago. Her curiosity is sparked, setting off a series of events that will bring her and Alice together and reveal shocking truths about a past long gone…yet more present than ever.

A lush, atmospheric tale of intertwined destinies, this latest novel from a masterful storyteller is an enthralling, thoroughly satisfying read.

Publication Date: October 20, 2015
Atria Books
Hardcover & eBook; 512 Pages
Genre: Historical Fiction
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 arc -  netgalley

There is no doubt in my mind that when a new Kate Morton book comes out I will be reading it.  I will go all fan girl here and say that since reading The Forgotten Garden  I have devoured every book she has written.  The Secret Keeper is my favorite to date and I was a little nervous when I heard she had penned a new one - could she really top this one?  Having this kind of attention from readers I think adds pressure to the authors subsequence work.  I went into The Lake House not even reading the synopsis, other than knowing it was about the disappearance of a toddler.

Was I disappointed? Not in the least.  Did Kate Morton live up to her reputation?  Of course she did and then some.  It is going to be really difficult not to say too much for fear of spoiling anything for anyone.  This was such a ride I would love everyone to enjoy it like I did.

Now I could sit here and tell you that this book weaves back and forth in time, we meet Alice in 1933 and Sadie in 2013.  I could say that this story spans through both World Wars and that there are other POV's besides those two.  But I am not going to tell you that for fear that it will scare you off.  But I will say that this book flowed so smoothly that I didn't even notice any jagged jumping but rather enjoyed the chance to get into the minds of those involved in the life of Alice.  That aspect enhanced the story and showed the authors ability to create a plot that was entertaining and mesmerizing at the same time.  To feel the emotional pain and genuinely care about the characters had my reading pace slow down the closer I got to the end, I didn't want to turn that last page.

No stone is left unturned here.  As things were unveiled a phrase or though is brought to mind from the beginning of the book which would contradict the turn of events, but no worries as Morton takes care of that leaving no hanging pieces here.

This is a book about promises, commitment to each other no matter what and following your gut instinct.  As much as I loved The Secret Keeper, The Lake House continues to show what a talented author Kate Morton is. 


03_Kate MortonKate Morton grew up in the mountains of south-east Queensland and lives now with her husband and young sons in Brisbane. She has degrees in dramatic art and English literature, specializing in nineteenth-century tragedy and contemporary Gothic novels.

Kate Morton has sold over 7.5 million copies in 26 languages, across 38 countries. Her novels include The House at Riverton, The Forgotten Garden, The Distant Hours, and The Secret Keeper.

You can find more information about Kate Morton and her books at or

click on banner for more stops on this tour

Friday, October 2, 2015

Review: The Girl From Krakow by Alex Rosenberg

It’s 1935. Rita Feuerstahl comes to the university in Krakow intent on enjoying her freedom. But life has other things in store—marriage, a love affair, a child, all in the shadows of the oncoming war. When the war arrives, Rita is armed with a secret so enormous that it could cost the Allies everything, even as it gives her the will to live. She must find a way both to keep her secret and to survive amid the chaos of Europe at war. Living by her wits among the Germans as their conquests turn to defeat, she seeks a way to prevent the inevitable doom of Nazism from making her one of its last victims. Can her passion and resolve outlast the most powerful evil that Europe has ever seen?

In an epic saga that spans from Paris in the ’30s and Spain’s Civil War to Moscow, Warsaw, and the heart of Nazi Germany, The Girl from Krakow follows one woman’s battle for survival as entire nations are torn apart, never to be the same.

Paperback, 442 pages
Published September 1st 2015 by Lake Union Publishing 
paperback from publisher

The synopsis above does a good job of telling what this book is about. Coming in at 442 pages this is a nice sized book that one can sink their teeth into.  There is time to get to know the characters and whats makes them tick, time to create a plot with depth and substance. 

This is Rita's journey before, during and after the war.  The author shows a real and vivid picture of what took place and it wasn't hard to visualize and feel for those affected by this war.

What I struggled with here was the lack of emotion in not just Rita but those she interacted with.  Here is where I could say more but don't want to give away what takes place.  Remember this is just my opinion, others may fell differently, but I would have liked more depth to her character.  I didn't feel that bond between her and her husband/child/lover and Dani.  There were no words or displays of emotion so show how much she missed her son and even the ending didn't cut it for me.  Remember my opinion only.

I think there is a great story in the making here, I didn't hate it but not a favorite.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Review - The Book of Speculation by Erika Swyler

A sweeping and captivating debut novel about a young librarian who is sent a mysterious old book, inscribed with his grandmother's name. What is the book's connection to his family?

Simon Watson, a young librarian, lives alone on the Long Island Sound in his family home, a house perched on the edge of a cliff that is slowly crumbling into the sea. His parents are long dead, his mother having drowned in the water his house overlooks.

One day, Simon receives a mysterious book from an antiquarian bookseller; it has been sent to him because it is inscribed with the name Verona Bonn, Simon's grandmother. Simon must unlock the mysteries of the book, and decode his family history, before fate deals its next deadly hand.

The Book of Speculation is Erika Swyler's gorgeous and moving debut, a wondrous novel about the power of books, family, and magic.

Hardcover, 339 pages

Published June 23rd 2015 by St. Martin's Press 
source: netgalley

Books taking place in two time periods seem to be pretty popular these days.  The Book of Speculation has both a modern day setting as well as one beginning in the 1700's.  The plot is laid out nicely in the synopsis above, there isn't much more I will add.  I really wanted to love this book, the premise is great - mysterious and it's about books, the cover spectacular and came highly recommend.  I liked the book but was hoping for more.

Simon Watson is the current day librarian and has hit a turning point in his life.  When a mysterious book shows up he sets out to figure out why it was sent to him in the first place.  The story slowly unfolds weaving back and forth in time. I had a hard time connecting with the characters especially those of current day.  They lacked spark and came across as boring and selfish.  The older story kept me interested, though dark at times

I appreciate the authors unique idea for this book and the amount of work that went into it.  No doubt I will check out her future novels.

Waiting on Wednesday: Moonlight over Paris by Jennifer Robson

 Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event that is hosted by Jill  at  Breaking the Spine and spotlights upcoming releases that we’re eagerly anticipating.   


 This week I am waiting for:

  352 pages
Expected publication: January 19th 2016 by William Morrow Paperbacks

USA Today and internationally bestselling author Jennifer Robson takes readers to 1920s Paris in an enthralling new historical novel that tells the riveting story of an English lady who trades in her staid aristocratic life for the mesmerizing salons and the heady world of the Lost Generation.

It’s the spring of 1924, and Lady Helena Montagu-Douglas-Parr has just arrived in France. On the mend after a near-fatal illness, she is ready to embrace the restless, heady allure of the City of Lights. Her parents have given her one year to live with her eccentric aunt in Paris and Helena means to make the most of her time. She’s quickly drawn into the world of the Lost Generation and its circle of American expatriates, and with their encouragement, she finds the courage to pursue her dream of becoming an artist.

One of those expats is Sam Howard, a journalist working for the Chicago Tribune. Irascible, plain-spoken, and scarred by his experiences during the war, Sam is simply the most fascinating man she has ever met. He’s also entirely unsuitable.

As Paris is born anew, rising phoenix-like from the ashes of the Great War, Helena realizes that she, too, is changing. The good girl she once was, so dutiful and obedient, so aware of her place in the world, is gone forever. Yet now that she has shed her old self, who will she become, and where, and with whom, does she belong…?

What are you waiting for?

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Review: Inspector Dewey by Kristen Heimerl, illustrated by Irene Bofill ​

My name is Dewey--Inspector Dewey.

I live in the big green house on Hampshire Avenue with my family: Thumper, Lily, and Anna. I am the Big Cat—responsible for keeping everyone safe and in order. I do this quite well, in spite of the fact that managing my family is like, well, herding cats!

Mostly our life is peaceful. But one night it wasn’t. That was the night the bad guy showed up on our block. Of course, I knew exactly how to outsmart the outlaw, but—miserable mullet!—would Anna and the police understand my instructions?

To find out how the adventure ended, you’ll have to read my book. But I’ll give you a hint: there’s a reason I’m called Inspector Dewey.

Fifty percent of the profits from the sale of this book will fund veterinary care for pets whose families are in financial need, so that the animals can remain in their homes and out of the shelter system.

Category:  Children's Fiction,  32 pages Genre:  Mystery Publisher:  Orange Frazer Press Release date:  September 2015 
paperback - from author (thank you)

This is a delightful  book, sure to tickle any child's imagination.  As you can see from the cover above, Inspector Dewey is an interesting cat.  He lives with 2 friends, Lily and Thumper as well as a human friend Anna.  When awoken in the middle of the night by unusual noises Dewey dawns his inspector cap. 

This book is written for the young reader and also makes a pretty good book to read (over and over) to younger ones as well.

The illustrations are bright, colorful enhancing the story perfectly.  The font side is just right with just enough words on each page without feeling crowded or overwhelming.

The authors love of animals is evident with 50% of the proceeds going to pet care for owners in need of financial assistance.

To learn more, visit
Buy the book:   Amazon  ~  Barnes and Noble

Marketing Officer, Strategy Expert, Innovator and Brand Builder, Kristen’s business career spans 20+ years serving the biggest brands in industry and the biggest hearts of start-ups and entrepreneurs. Kristen revels in bringing compelling products and services to life and helping leaders and individuals with big dreams realize their big goals.

Kristen’s life joys include her 2+ year obsession creating the most beautiful self-published picture book possible, the breathtaking forests and lakes of her Minnesota birthplace, the family that really does love her no matter what, and her three magnificent Norwegian Forest Cats who together, with Kristen, helped catch the bad guy on their block that inspired her upcoming book (stake out and high speed chase included!)

She holds a master of science in eCommerce from Carnegie Mellon University, an MBA from the University of Minnesota Carlson School of Management, and a BA from the University of St. Thomas. As the great transformer in her life, Kristen supports others’ education and literacy as an adjunct professor of business and strategy and, more recently, through her children’s book, Inspector Dewey (Available September 2015).

Kristen’s site for her work “Inspector Dewey” will be premiering on May 31st, 2015. In addition, you can read more about Kristen’s work at, also live on May 31st.

Connect with Kristen:   Website  ~   Facebook Author  ~   Facebook Inspector Dewey  

Aug 31 - Library of Clean Reads - review / giveaway
Aug 31 - Christy's Cozy Corners - review / giveaway
Sept 1 -  View from the Birdhouse - review / giveaway
Sept 2 -  A Mama's Corner of the World - review / giveaway
Sept 3 -  The Cheshire Cat's Looking Glass - review / giveaway
Sept 4 -  Bound 4 Escape - review / giveaway
Sept 7 - Tales of the Marvelous - review / guest post
Sept 8 - - review / giveaway
Sept 9 - Roughseasinthemed - review / author interview / giveaway
Sept 10 - Collecting Moments - review / author interview
Sept 11 - A Splendid Messy Life - review / giveaway
Sept 14 - Kimber Leigh Writes - review / giveaway
Sept 15 - Book Loving Hippo - review / guest post / giveaway
Sept 16 - Bookworm for Kids - review / giveaway
Sept 17 - Tea and a Book - review / author interview
Sept 18 - Thoughts in Progress - review / guest post / giveaway
Sept 21 - Satisfaction for Insatiable Readers - review / giveaway
Sept 22 - Experiencing Parenthood - review
Sept 23 - Working Mommy Journal - review / giveaway
Sept 24 - Mochas, Mysteries and Meows - review / author interview / giveaway
Sept 25 - Create With Joy - review / giveaway
Sept 25 - JBronder Book Reviews - review / guest post
Sept 26 - Writers and Authors - review
Sept 28 - One Frugal Girl - review / author interview / giveaway
Sept 29 -  Just One More Chapter - review
Sept 30 - Jessica Cassidy - review / author interview / giveaway
Oct 1 - The Pen and Muse Book Reviews - review / author interview / giveaway
Oct 2 - Jorie Loves a Story - review / guest post

Monday, September 28, 2015

Review: The Hired Girl by Laura Amy Schlitz

Today Miss Chandler gave me this beautiful book. I vow that I will never forget her kindness to me, and I will use this book as she told me to—that I will write in it with truth and refinement…But who could be refined living at Steeple Farm?

Fourteen-year-old Joan Skraggs, just like the heroines in her beloved novels, yearns for real life and true love. But what hope is there for adventure, beauty, or art on a hardscrabble farm in Pennsylvania where the work never ends? Over the summer of 1911, Joan pours her heart out into her diary as she seeks a new, better life for herself—because maybe, just maybe, a hired girl cleaning and cooking for six dollars a week can become what a farm girl could only dream of—a woman with a future.

Inspired by her grandmother’s journal, Newbery Medalist Laura Amy Schlitz brings her sharp wit and keen eye to early twentieth-century America in a comedic tour de force destined to become a modern classic. Joan’s journey from the muck of the chicken coop to the comforts of a society household in Baltimore (Electricity! Carpet sweepers! Sending out the laundry!) takes its reader on an exploration of feminism and housework, religion and literature, love and loyalty, cats, hats, bunions, and burns.

Hardcover, 400 pages
Published September 8th 2015 by Candlewick Press 
arc - netgalley

I am always on the lookout for YA HF and was excited when The Hired Girl was featured on netgalley.  Though I had not heard of this book before, the author Laura Amy Schlitz was familiar to me as a John Newbery award winner. 

Introduced to Joan when she is only 14 years old, it wasn't hard to care about her.   Taking place in 1911 the author painted a vivid picture of what her life is like, motherless and serving a brutal father who seems to care very little for his only daughter.  It wasn't hard to visualize the times and how hard Joan worked.

In some ways Joan is a mature 14 year old.  Deciding to take control of her life she risks much and ends up as a Hired Girl to a Jewish family in Baltimore.  This book is told through diary entries which worked very well here.  While pretending to be 18 is where her immaturity shows, with different entries from 'wonderful day', 'terrible day' to 'woe is me' days she is the 14 year old in need of guidance and someone to genuinely care about her.

The debates regarding religion were interesting, showing her ability to think for herself and desire to learn.  Not overly preachy it was a nice touch.

I really enjoyed reading The Hired Girl, but will admit a few times I thought it dragged a little at the half way point.  The ending was great and answered some questions that were nagging me for much of the book.  I would have liked to read some Author Notes at the end, just to get more info on the background and more about the author's grandmother and inspiration for writing this book.  Rated as YA I think this will definitely appeal to adults as well.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

indieB.R.A.G. Book Blitz - The Graham Saga by Anna Belfrage

I am thrilled to be part of this blitz for the Graham Saga by Anna Belfrage, it is one of my very favorite series out there.  

About the Graham Saga

This is the story of two people who should never have met – not when she was born three centuries after him. But sometimes impossible things happen, and so Alex Lind ends up at the feet of Matthew Graham. Life will never be the same for Alex – or for Matthew.

In Revenge and Retribution, Alex has seen her son, Samuel, carried away by the Susquehannock Indians, led by Qaachow. In the below, she is sitting with another of her sons, David, when on the other shore of the river she sees something…

They lapsed into a comfortable silence, watching as the sun transformed the frosted trees into prisms of magical colour. It was very quiet, the migrating birds long gone, and the remaining sparrows and thrushes keeping low to the ground, or at least going about their business without expending energy on making noise. A crow cawed, it cawed again, and then it was all absolute stillness.
David shifted closer to her. The frost on the log had melted under her, dampening her skirts, but she was reluctant to move, and so, apparently, was he. There was a far-off rustling, and the crow called again. The shrubs on the other side of the river parted; a group of men stepped out on the further shore.
“Indians!” David breathed.
“Samuel,” Alex groaned simultaneously, and now she was on her feet, because he was there, her son, standing only fifty feet from her, side by side with Qaachow. Oh God, my boy, hes brought my boy home, she thought, and her arms went out in an embracing gesture. Samuel took a tentative step in her direction, but Qaachow said something to him, and he ducked his head and stepped back into the forest.
“No!” Alex was already wading through the shallows, ignoring the iciness of the water. “No! Goddamn you, Qaachow! Give me my boy back!” Her eyes burnt into the Indian chief, but he didn’t reply, gesturing to his men to deposit the sorry bundle they were carrying by the water’s edge. Alex slipped, and had to swim furiously against the ice-cold current.
“Mama!” David was shrieking in fear behind her, but Alex didn’t care. She was going after her boy; she had to fetch him home. She slipped again, and the waters closed over her head. Jesus! It was cold!
She resurfaced, spitting like a drowning cat. Samuel was rushing towards the water, and before he could be stopped, he had thrown himself in, buckskins and all, to come to her aid.
“Samuel! Oh God, Samuel! Get back, son.” Alex had her head over the water, wiping at her hair with an arm that was unbearably heavy. Her fingers, she couldn’t feel her fingers. But her eyes locked into Samuel’s, and she smiled. Down she went again, her mouth filling with water. A weak kick, and her head broke the surface.
“I love you, Samuel,” she gargled, before being tugged under by the current, and once again she heard David’s frantic ‘Mama’ from somewhere behind her. But she was almost there, only yards separated her from her son, and then there were arms around Samuel and he was being carried away.
“Mama!” he screamed. “Mama!”
Alex sank, her legs useless in the cold. Other hands took hold of her, and she was half carried, half dragged to lie panting and shivering on the shore. By her nose were a pair of moccasins, and, following them up, she found the legs, the torso and then, finally, the face of Qaachow.
“My son,” she croaked. “I want my son back. You’ve had him long enough, and I die, you hear. Every day without him, I die!”
“A year,” Qaachow reminded her, backing away.
“Curse you, Qaachow!” Alex managed to get up on her knees. “May your seed fail; may your children and grandchildren wither and die; may your people fall into sickness and suffer iniquity and pain. All of this until my son is returned to me.”
Qaachow looked completely taken aback, staring at her with something like fear in his eyes. She rose, tried to wipe her face free of the tendrils of hair that were plastered across it. From the forest came Samuel’s voice, calling for her, for his brothers, his da. Out of the corner of her eye, she could see the other shore where Matthew was standing surrounded by their sons, Jacob already stripping off his clothes.
“I love you, Samuel!” she bellowed. “I love you, son, you hear?”
“Mama!” he yelled back, and then there was the distinctive sound of a slap. Alex stumbled towards the sound, but was rudely shoved to land on the ground. Before she had managed to get back on her feet, the Indians were gone.
“Mama?” Jacob materialised by her side. “We have to get you across and inside.” Alex was shivering so hard she could barely walk, but followed him, dazed and obedient, to the water’s edge.
“They left something,” she mumbled through a mouth too stiff to talk properly with.
“Aye,” Jacob answered. “Mark and John are taking care of it.” Alex inhaled loudly when she re-entered the water. This cold? The current curled itself round her legs, but she managed to keep her footing a good way out, and Jacob was there to help her. Somehow, she was back on their side where Matthew swept her into a cloak and led her back home, David tagging after.
“I saw him,” she said. “Our boy, Matthew. I saw him, and he was tall and strong.” And then she burst into tears.

Had Anna been allowed to choose, she’d have become a professional time-traveller. As such a profession does as yet not exists, she settled for second best and became a financial professional with two absorbing interests, namely history and writing. These days, Anna combines an exciting day-job with a large family and her writing endeavours.
When Anna fell in love with her future husband, she got Scotland as an extra, not because her husband is Scottish or has a predilection for kilts, but because his family fled Scotland due to religious persecution in the 17th century – and were related to the Stuarts. For a history buff like Anna, these little details made Future Husband all the more desirable, and sparked a permanent interest in the Scottish Covenanters, which is how Matthew Graham, protagonist of the acclaimed The Graham Saga, began to take shape.
Set in 17th century Scotland and Virginia/Maryland, the series tells the story of Matthew and Alex, two people who should never have met – not when she was born three hundred years after him. With this heady blend of romance, adventure, high drama and historical accuracy, Anna hopes to entertain and captivate, and is more than thrilled when readers tell her just how much they love her books and her characters.
Presently, Anna is hard at work with her next project, a series set in the 1320s featuring Adam de Guirande, his wife Kit, and their adventures and misfortunes in connection with Roger Mortimer’s rise to power. The King’s Greatest Enemy is a series where passion and drama play out against a complex political situation, where today’s traitor may be tomorrow’s hero, and the Wheel of Life never stops rolling. 

The first instalment in the Adam and Kit story, In the Shadow of the Storm, will be published in the autumn of 2015.
Other than on her website, Anna can mostly be found on her blog – unless, of course, she is submerged in writing her next novel.
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