Friday, May 29, 2015

Spotlight: Aurelia by Alison Morton

Late 1960s Roma Nova, the last Roman colony that has survived into the 21st century. Aurelia Mitela is alone – her partner gone, her child sickly and her mother dead. Forced in her mid-twenties to give up her beloved career as a Praetorian officer, she is struggling to manage an extended family tribe, businesses and senatorial political life.
But her country needs her unique skills. Somebody is smuggling silver – Roma Nova’s lifeblood – on an industrial scale. Sent to Berlin to investigate, she encounters the mysterious and attractive Miklós, a suspected smuggler, and Caius Tellus, a Roma Novan she has despised, and feared, since childhood.

Aurelia suspects that the silver smuggling hides a deeper conspiracy and follows a lead into the Berlin criminal underworld. Barely escaping a trap set by a gang boss intent on terminating her, she realises that her old enemy is at the heart of all her troubles and pursues him back home to Roma Nova…

Publication Date: May 5, 2015
SilverWood Books
Series: Roma Nova, Book Four
Genre: Alternative Historical Fiction
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Barnes & Noble

Even before she pulled on her first set of combats, Alison Morton was fascinated by the idea of women soldiers. Brought up by a feminist mother and an ex-military father, it never occurred to her that women couldn’t serve their country in the armed forces. Everybody in her family had done time in uniform and in theatre – regular and reserve Army, RAF, WRNS, WRAF – all over the globe.

So busy in her day job, Alison joined the Territorial Army in a special communications regiment and left as a captain, having done all sorts of interesting and exciting things no civilian would ever know or see. Or that she can talk about, even now…

But something else fuels her writing… Fascinated by the mosaics at Ampurias (Spain), at their creation by the complex, power and value-driven Roman civilisation started her wondering what a modern Roman society would be like if run by strong women…

Now, she lives in France and writes Roman-themed alternate history thrillers with tough heroines:

INCEPTIO, the first in the Roma Nova series

– shortlisted for the 2013 International Rubery Book Award
– B.R.A.G. Medallion
– finalist in 2014 Writing Magazine Self-Published Book of the Year

PERFIDITAS, second in series

– B.R.A.G. Medallion
– finalist in 2014 Writing Magazine Self-Published Book of the Year

SUCCESSIO, third in series

– Historical Novel Society’s indie Editor’s Choice for Autumn 2014
– B.R.A.G. Medallion
– Editor’s choice, The Bookseller’s inaugural Indie Preview, December 2014

Fact file

Education: BA French, German & Economics, MA History
Memberships: International Thriller Writers, Historical Novel Society, Alliance of Independent Authors, Society of Authors
Represented by Annette Crossland of A for Authors Literary Agency for subsidiary and foreign rights.

Connect with Alison Morton

Amazon UK Author Page
Amazon US Author Page

Aurelia Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, May 11
Tour Kick Off & Giveaway at Passages to the Past
Tuesday, May 12
Excerpt at What Is That Book About
Wednesday, May 13
Spotlight at Book Nerd
Saturday, May 16
Excerpt & Giveaway at Teddy Rose Book Reviews
Sunday, May 17
Review at Carole’s Ramblings
Friday, May 22
Spotlight at Flashlight Commentary
Monday, May 25
Review at A Book Geek
Tuesday, May 26
Spotlight at The Lit Bitch
Friday, May 29
Spotlight at Just One More Chapter
Wednesday, June 3
Spotlight at A Literary Vacation
Friday, June 5
Spotlight at Layered Pages

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Mesabi Pioneers by Russell Hill and Jeffrey Smith (Book Tour)

In the early 1890s, a group of brothers discovered iron ore in the dense pine woods of northern Minnesota. Mesabi Pioneers tells the story of the immigrants who dug that ore out of the ground, who carved towns from trees, and who built new lives for themselves and their families.

Arthur Maki, a Finnish immigrant known for his carpentry skills, has been hired by the persuasive and poetic Leonidas “Lon” Merritt to join a crew of explorers in the forest. From this remote and formidable locale, Arthur must construct a camp and foster a community into which he can bring his wife and son.

The camp, which the Merritts call Mountain Iron, sits on what Lon believes to be a huge lode of iron ore. However, the rest of the world thinks the Merritts are crazy. While Arthur builds a camp with a Chippewa Indian everyone calls Charlie and a French-Chippewa fur trader named Richardson, the other members of the team explore the surrounding woods for more caches of iron. When a second lode is discovered at Biwabik, Arthur and the rest of the crew know the finding is real. And the iron mining world knows it, too.

As the mine gets deeper and mining operations expand, the camp crowds with a diversity of ethnic and cultural groups. Tragedy strikes in ways large and small. And it is from the ashes of destruction that Arthur finds the community he has been seeking.

Publication Date: October 6, 2014
Lempi Publishing
Formats: eBook, Hardcover
238 Pages
Genre: Historical Fiction
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 (if you go to goodreads there is a giveaway for this book)

I love reading about places, events and times that are unfamiliar to me as well as discovering talented authors along the way.  Such is the case with Mesabi Pioneers.  

Rich in details and written with feeling and emotion the authors were able to convey what took place at the Sleeping Giant .  The writing made it very easy to visualize the landscape, those harsh winters, the prejudices, and all the struggles that went with mining ore.  This was the 1890's, there are no modern conveniences add to that the separation from family and the financial hardships were just some of the issues.  It was a time of striking it rich, but this book showed it isn't a quick return but rather a lot of hard work and uncertainty.

I would love for this to be a series, to read more about the life of Arthur, Minnie and the family, the author has made me care about them and the future.


Praise for Mesabi Pioneers

“…a refreshingly enjoyable read… Hill and Smith kindle complicated emotions, important questions and a driving curiosity about Northern Minnesota’s Mesabi Iron Range…The novel give(s) us a remarkable point of view, a vision of the Iron Range before it was anything like our modern understanding of the place. The size of the forest, the difficulty of travel, the majesty of the Missabe hills before they were opened up and moved like chess pieces: we see all of this in fresh prose.” -Aaron Brown, Hibbing Daily Tribune and

“Hill and Smith pepper their story with some very good character development, plenty of sarcastic humor, and a good deal of research into a period never before explored in historical fiction. In their handling, the enterprising and occasionally cutthroat, bygone world of iron mining comes vividly alive. A strong debut installment.” -Charlotte Kirsch, Historical Novel Society

“A wonderful book. I’d recommend it to anyone.” -Scott Hall, KAXE, Northern Community Radio

“In Mesabi Pioneers, Jeffrey Smith has skillfully crafted a wonderful story that respects the historical facts while bringing the experience of these pioneers to life. This book is a steeped in the social history and physical geography of this region in Minnesota that played such a significant role in the economic rise of the United States. In a few words, this is good creative writing with an enjoyable style.” -James Dilisio, author Maryland Geography

“What a fascinating story, with finely drawn characters and compelling subject matter. The authors take us inside the hearts and souls of newly arrived immigrant pioneers, full of hope and promise, who accomplished extraordinary feats under dire circumstances; and the Native Americans who watched their homeland undergo such dramatic and irrevocable change. I highly recommend it.” -Kathryn Leigh Scott, actress and author, Down and Out in Beverly Heels

Buy the Book

Barnes & Noble
Mesabi Project Website

Dr. Russell Hill was born and raised on Minnesota’s Iron Range. During World War II he served in Naval Intelligence, receiving several prestigious medals for his service. After the War he received his doctorate from the University of Minnesota and began a long and successful teaching career. Hill passed away peacefully in 2011, surrounded by his beloved family. He was 85-years-old.

Jeffrey Smith began his love of letters at fourteen on a Smith-Corona electric typewriter borrowed from his father. He is a full-time writer, homemaker and stay-at-home parent. He is also an accomplished distance runner, completing 16 marathons, seven 24-hour relay races, and multiple ultra-runs, including several 100-mile races.

For more information visit You can also follow Mesabi Pioneers on Facebook and Twitter.

Mesabi Pioneers Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, May 4
Blog Tour Kick Off at Passages to the Past
Tuesday, May 5
Guest Post at The Maiden’s Court
Monday, May 11
Review at Unshelfish
Wednesday, May 13
Guest Post at I Heart Reading
Thursday, May 14
Interview at Flashlight Commentary
Monday, May 18
Review at Broken Teepee
Wednesday, May 20
Monday, May 25
Tuesday, May 26
Review at Book Nerd
Guest Post at A Literary Vacation
Thursday, May 28
Friday, May 29

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Waiting on Wednesdy: The Invasion of the Tearling by Erika Johansen

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, 480 pages
Expected publication: June 9th 2015 by Harper

With each passing day, Kelsea Glynn is growing into her new responsibilities as Queen of the Tearling. By stopping the shipments of slaves to the neighboring kingdom of Mortmesne, she crossed the Red Queen, a brutal ruler whose power derives from dark magic, who is sending her fearsome army into the Tearling to take what is hers. And nothing can stop the invasion.

But as the Mort army draws ever closer, Kelsea develops a mysterious connection to a time before the Crossing, and she finds herself relying on a strange and possibly dangerous ally: a woman named Lily, fighting for her life in a world where being female can feel like a crime. The fate of the Tearling —and that of Kelsea’s own soul—may rest with Lily and her story, but Kelsea may not have enough time to find out.

What are you waiting for?


Tuesday, May 26, 2015

The Traitor's Daughter by Barbara Kyle

In 1582, England is gripped by the fear of traitors. Kate Lyon, tainted by her exiled mother's past treason, has been disowned by her father, Baron Thornleigh. But in truth, Kate and her husband Owen are only posing as Catholic sympathizers to gain information for Queen Elizabeth's spymaster. Kate is an expert decoder. The deception pains her, but she takes heart in the return to England of her long estranged brother Robert. If only she could be sure where his loyalties lie...

Kate and Owen's spying yields valuable intelligence: English Catholics abroad are spearheading an invasion that would see Elizabeth deposed—or worse—in favor of Mary, Queen of Scots. Kate takes on the dangerous role of double agent, decoding and delivering letters the exiles send Mary. But when lives and fortunes hang by the thinnest threads, betrayal is only a whisper away...

A brilliant blend of Tudor history and lush storytelling, The Traitor's Daughter is a riveting, passionate novel of loyalty, heartbreak, and one woman's undaunted courage.

Paperback, 448 pages
Expected publication: May 26th 2015 by Kensington 
source - netgalley


The 7th book in the Thornleigh Series is out!  It is no secret that this is a favorite series of mine.  I started out with the audio version and the last 3 in book format.  Both are great and though they can be read alone I highly recommend starting at the beginning with The Queen's Lady.

This series is rich in historical detail, true to the time period and centers around real historical figures, though the Thornleighs are fictional.  This book isn't as action packed as previous ones, but it was still hard to put done.  Barbara Kyle has a way of making me care about this family, they live in a era of uncertainty, the conflict between Queen Elizabeth and Mary Queen of Scots plays center stage here. 

What always strikes me with this series is not the always outward battles but the inner struggles the key players have.  With The Traitor's Daughter Kate Lyon, daughter of Adam Thornleigh has been disowned, she married someone supposedly opposed to Queen Elizabeth.  Her long lost brother makes his appearance on English soil and Kate is in turmoil.  Who can blame her, the guilt of their separation, he father's rejection when he doesn't know all the facts and equally as important is can she trust Robert?  I like Kate, she is strong and determined, courageous but also confused and alone, living in the Tudor era was hard enough without the full support of family.

In the past I have found series tend to get a little stale and dull when it gets too long.  That is not the case here, each book has its own story line, the characters intertwine with fresh glimpses at Tudor England.  I have not heard that this is the final book in series, so looking forward to the next installment.

Monday, May 25, 2015

The Price of Blood by Patricia Bracewell

Menaced by Vikings and enemies at court, Queen Emma defends her children and her crown in a riveting medieval adventure

Readers first met Emma of Normandy in Patricia Bracewell’s gripping debut novel, Shadow on the Crown. Unwillingly thrust into marriage to England’s King Æthelred, Emma has given the king a son and heir, but theirs has never been a happy marriage. In The Price of Blood, Bracewell returns to 1006 when a beleaguered Æthelred, still haunted by his brother’s ghost, governs with an iron fist and a royal policy that embraces murder.

As tensions escalate and enmities solidify, Emma forges alliances to protect her young son from ambitious men—even from the man she loves. In the north there is treachery brewing, and when Viking armies ravage England, loyalties are shattered and no one is safe from the sword.

Rich with intrigue, compelling personalities, and fascinating detail about a little-known period in history, The Price of Blood will captivate fans of both historical fiction and fantasy novels such as George R. R. Martin’s Game of Thrones series.

Hardcover, 448 pages
Published February 5th 2015 by Viking 
  source - library 
This has become one of my favorite series. It's a time period that is totally unfamiliar to me and I love that it's my 'first' experience learning about Emma of Normandy.  Shadow on the Crown was an audio read, which I enjoyed tremendously, this time I opted to read The Price of Blood - one of the advantages is the fact that I now know how to pronounce everyone's name.

Beginning where Shadow on the Crown left off there is a lot going on in this book.  Now don't get me wrong, it's not confusing or whelming at all, in fact the opposite.  With each story line I was (am) eager to find out the overcome.  There is the King who is still haunted by his brother's ghost,  from his POV we see his state of mind.  Queen Emma, protecting her young son and what she must do to keep him safe, it's about forbidden love and knowing who you can trust.  The Vikings continue to wreak havoc on England and that lady Elgiva spices things up and I like her. 

Like I said in my review of Shadow on the Crown, though there is not a lot of historical documentation from this time period and the author has woven a wonderful tale that kept me captivated and rather sad when it ended.  Patricia Bracewell's ability to fill in the gaps of history is exceptional, her knowledge of this time period shows the staggering amount of research that was involved in this series.  She created these real historical characters and situations into something authentic and believable.  My interest in this time period has peaked and having discovered a couple of other books that take place around the life of Emma I  am reluctant to read them until this series is completed.  Which makes me ponder when book 3 is coming out.

If you are a fan of HF with a strong female lead then start this series, but be sure to start at the beginning with Shadow on the Crown, trust me you won't be disappointed.

Spotlight: Phoenix Hunter by Hunter S. James

The last hour of Anne Boleyn’s life…

Court intrigue, revenge and all the secrets of the last hour are revealed as one queen falls and another rises to take her place on destiny’s stage.

A young Anne Boleyn arrives at the court of King Henry VIII. She is to be presented at the Shrovetide pageant, le Château Vert. The young and ambitious Anne has no idea that a chance encounter before the pageant will lead to her capturing the heart of the king. What begins as a distraction becomes his obsession and leads to her destruction.

Love, hate, loyalty and betrayal come together in a single dramatic moment… the execution of a queen. The history of England will be changed for ever.

Publication Date: May 19, 2015
MadeGlobal Publishing
eBook; ASIN: B00X806742
Genre: Historical Fiction
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Praise for Phoenix Rising

“Compelling, captivating and moving.” Claire Ridgway, The Anne Boleyn Files

“Thought provoking, esoteric and heart wrenching.” – R.J.Askew, blogger, reviewer, author and journalist


Phoenix Rising Available at


Deb Hunter publishes as Hunter S. Jones. Her best-selling novel, “September Ends” won awards for Best Independently Published Novel and Best Romance, based on its unique blending of poetry and prose. Her story “The Fortune Series” received best-selling status on Amazon in the Cultural Heritage and Historical Fiction categories. She has been published by H3O Eco mag, LuxeCrush, Chattanooga Times-Free Press, and is now a freelance contributor for the Atlanta Journal Constitution. She has recently been accepted into the prestigious Rivendell Writers Colony. Her arts, music and culture blogs on are filled with eclectic stories regarding music, writing, the arts and climate awareness. She lives in Atlanta, Georgia with her Scottish born husband. Her undergrad degree is in History with an emphasis on the English Renaissance and Reformation.

For more information please visit Hunter S. Jones’ website. You can also follow her on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.

Phoenix Rising Blog Tour

Tuesday, May 19
Review at 100 Pages a Day
Wednesday, May 20
Guest Post & Giveaway at The Anne Boleyn Files
Spotlight at The Never-Ending Book
Thursday, May 21
Review at Book Drunkard
Friday, May 22
Spotlight at A Literary Vacation
Spotlight at What Is That Book About
Saturday, May 23
Spotlight at Curling up by the Fire
Monday, May 25
Review at JulzReads
Spotlight at Just One More Chapter
Tuesday, May 26
Review at Book Lovers Paradise
Spotlight at CelticLady’s Reviews
Wednesday, May 27
Review at Book Nerd
Guest Post at The Readers Hollow
Thursday, May 28
Review at Bookramblings
Friday, May 29
Review at The Reading Queen
Saturday, May 30
Review at Historical Fiction Obsession
Spotlight at Beth’s Book Nook Blog
Sunday, May 31
Review at Genre Queen
Spotlight at Unshelfish

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Spotlight: To Wed an Heiress by Rosanne E. Lortz

Haro Emison, thrust into his new role as Earl of Anglesford, discovers that his late father has left the family teetering on the edge of financial ruin. Intent on rescuing the estate, Haro abandons his long-held interest in his cousin Eda and searches instead for a wealthy heiress. But when pride and jealousy cause his plan to spiral out of control, he begins to wonder if he has made a dreadful mistake….

Eda Swanycke is enjoying her first season in London when her debut comes to a crashing halt. Jilted by her cousin, she suffers the indignity of watching Haro’s new intended lay claim to his person and position. But when a brutal murder upends the household with Haro as chief suspect, Eda must put her wounded pride aside, match wits with the investigator from London, and try, at all costs, to save Haro Emison’s neck from the gallows….

 Publication Date: April 30, 2015
Madison Street Publishing
Paperback; 300p
Genre: Historical/Romantic Suspense

Rosanne E. Lortz (“Rose”) is a history lover, a book addict, a mom to four boys, and a native of Portland, Oregon. When she’s not writing, she teaches Latin and English composition and works as an editor at Madison Street Publishing.

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

To Wed an Heiress Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, May 18
Excerpt & Giveaway at Passages to the Past
Spotlight & Giveaway at Susan Heim on Writing
Tuesday, May 19
Interview at Boom Baby Reviews
Spotlight at I Heart Reading
Wednesday, May 20
Review at Queen of All She Reads
Spotlight & Giveaway at Let them Read Books
Thursday, May 21
Review at Book Nerd
Spotlight at Just One More Chapter
Friday, May 22
Spotlight & Giveaway at Unshelfish
Spotlight & Giveaway at View from the Birdhouse

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Waiting on Wednesday: Watch the Lady by Elizabeth Fremantle

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:

 not sure which cover I like best, what do you think?

Paperback, 560 pages

Expected publication: June 9th 2015 by Simon & Schuster

The daughter of the Queen’s nemesis, Penelope Devereux, arrives at court blithely unaware of its pitfalls and finds herself in love with one man, yet married off to another. Bestowed with beauty and charm she and her brother, The Earl of Essex, are drawn quickly into the aging Queen’s favour. But Penelope is saddled with a husband who loathes her and chooses to strike out, risking her reputation to seek satisfaction elsewhere. But life at the heart of the court is not only characterised by the highs and lows of romance, there are formidable factions at work who would like to see the Devereux family brought down. It seems The Earl of Essex can do no wrong in the eyes of the Queen but as his influence grows so his enemies gather and it is Penelope who must draw on all her political savvy to prevent the unthinkable from happening.

Told from the perspective of Penelope and her brother’s greatest enemy the politician Cecil, this story, wrought with love, hatred and envy, unfolds over two decades in which we see the last gasps of Elizabeth’s reign, and the deadly scramble for power in a dying dynasty.  

What are you waiting for?


Monday, May 18, 2015

Mrs. Grant and Madame Jule by Jennifer Chiaverini

The New York Times bestselling author of Mrs. Lincoln's Dressmaker and Mrs. Lincoln's Rival imagines the inner life of Julia Grant, beloved as a Civil War general’s wife and the First Lady, yet who grappled with a profound and complex relationship with the slave who was her namesake—until she forged a proud identity of her own.

In 1844, Missouri belle Julia Dent met dazzling horseman Lieutenant Ulysses S Grant. Four years passed before their parents permitted them to wed, and the groom’s abolitionist family refused to attend the ceremony.

Since childhood, Julia owned as a slave another Julia, known as Jule. Jule guarded her mistress’s closely held twin secrets: She had perilously poor vision but was gifted with prophetic sight. So it was that Jule became Julia’s eyes to the world.
And what a world it was, marked by gathering clouds of war. The Grants vowed never to be separated, but as Ulysses rose through the ranks—becoming general in chief of the Union Army—so did the stakes of their pact. During the war, Julia would travel, often in the company of Jule and the four Grant children, facing unreliable transportation and certain danger to be at her husband’s side.

Yet Julia and Jule saw two different wars. While Julia spoke out for women—Union and Confederate—she continued to hold Jule as a slave behind Union lines. Upon the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation, Jule claimed her freedom and rose to prominence as a businesswoman in her own right, taking the honorary title Madame. The two women’s paths continued to cross throughout the Grants’ White House years in Washington, DC, and later in New York City, the site of Grant’s Tomb.

Mrs. Grant and Madame Jule is the first novel to chronicle this singular relationship, bound by sight and shadow.

Kindle Edition, 402 pages
Published March 3rd 2015 by Dutton 
ARC - netgalley
*** (I liked it)

Jennifer Chiaverini's books are like a history lesson for me.  Being Canadian I know names in US history and a little about the person, but not a lot of detail.  Though the title is Mrs. Grand and Madame Jule I found this to be more a story about the relationship between Ulysses S. Grant and Julia his wife.  Jules was mentioned throughout the book and her story line was interesting but I felt it was more a background story, especially towards the end of the book, I did like the ending Jules got in this book.

 Moving through many years in the life of the Grants, from courtship, marriage, children, the Civil War and more, this book moved at a steady pace.  There was never a time where I felt bored but rather eager to learn more about the Grant's.  It was more a story of their relationship rather then of the presidency, though of course that was played out nicely here. The author relied on real historical documents and events and she knowledge and research is evident.  Jennifer Chiaverini is an author that I read a fair amount of, and she didn't disappoint here.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

The Queen's Exile by Barbara Kyle

1572. Europe is in turmoil. In the Netherlands the streets are red with the blood of those who dare to oppose the brutal Spanish occupation. A vengeful faction of exiled English Catholics is plotting to overthrow Queen Elizabeth and install her cousin Mary, Queen of Scots on the throne. But amid the unrest, one resourceful young woman has made a lucrative enterprise ...

Scottish-born Fenella Doorn rules like a queen over a privateer's haven on the Isle of Sark. Her success at salvaging crippled vessels affords her gold and security, and it is on one of these ships that she meets wealthy Baron—and privateer—Adam Thornleigh. Secretly drawn to him, Fenella can’t refuse when Adam enlists her to join him in war-torn Brussels to help find his traitorous wife, Frances—and the children she’s taken from him.

But Fenella’s own bold actions have put a price on her head. Now Adam and Fenella’s lives are in peril as they race across Europe in an attempt to rescue his young ones, defend the crown, and restore the peace that few can remember.

Paperback, 352 pages
Published May 27th 2014 by Kensington 
ARC - netgalley

I am always on the lookout for historical settings that involve by heritage.  The Queen's Exile fit that bill nicely, though I did not realize until I started reading.  This is the 6th installment in Barbara Kyle's Thornleigh Series.  I didn't read the synopsis when this book became available, I've really enjoyed this series and knew I would continue with it.

Robert Thornleigh just wants his children back, his wife fled England years ago with them after a failed attempt on the Queen's life.  Times were very treacherous as the Spanish were a brutal bunch.  I knew nothing of what took place in the Netherlands at the hand of Spanish, the name Alba meant nothing to me.  This was a terrifying and brutal time for the Dutch.  The author wrote vivid scenes that left no doubt how barbaric Alba and his forces were.

Again Barbara Kyle had me captivated right from the beginning.  Here writing style makes it easy to get lost.  Her knowledge of the time period is evident.  I truly respect the amount of research that has gone into this series.  Though the last few books revolve around Queen Elizabeth's reigh in England the story line reaches to various locations and real historical figures.  These locations are unique and revolve around real historical events, which  is what I love about this series.  There is variety and not the same Thornleighs in each book.

I love strong women in history, independent, ahead of their times.  Which is what Fenella was, though fictional, I really liked her, she had passion, drive, caring and honored her commitments.  With Robert one couldn't help feel sympathy for him and feel his passion and desperation to find his children. 

As with all her books you can read as stand alone, but I highly recommend starting at the beginning with The Queen' Lady (you won't be disappointed).  On May 26th the 7th installment (I hope it isn't the last), The Traitor's Daughter will be released, I am reading it right now so be lookout my review.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Spotlight: Behind the Forgotten Front by Barbara Hawkins

It’s 1942 and Harry Flynn enlists to fight in the war expecting to find the thrill of danger and honor of military service. He leaves behind the love of his life to journey into a world of tigers, elephants and Himalayan Mountains. Instead of a fighting position, Harry is sent to the Forgotten Front in the Indian subcontinent as an ordinary supply officer. There, General Joseph ‘Vinegar Joe’ Stilwell is constructing a ‘road to nowhere’ through Japanese-occupied Burma. The general will do anything to get the road built.

In this exotic world with Naga headhunters, opium-smoking Kachin tribesmen, and marauders who scorn both life and death, Harry forges unlikely friendships. He’s forced to obey orders that challenge his principles and is torn between being true to himself or ‘no man at all.’ Eventually, not willing to let Uncle Sam needlessly condemn the road crew to death, he rebels.

He tries to sabotage the road’s progress where an Afro-American construction regiment is losing a man a mile due to disease and crumbling mountain slopes. Then a commanding officer spots his unconventional skills. Immediately he’s transferred to America’s first guerrilla-supported unit: Merrill’s Marauders and later the Mars Task Force. Here, he must entrust his life to others. During a time when boys were forced to come of age on the battlefield, Harry must find what makes his life worth living or die.

The lessons learned in World War II apply to all wars, where men walk away carrying unspeakable memories and lives that ‘could have been’ haunt those that lived. Behind the Forgotten Front brings them all back to life and shows that history is about facts driven by passions and sometimes the mistakes of real people.

Publication Date: August 22, 2014
e-book: ISBN 978-0-9915984-2-7 (309 pages)
Paperback: ISBN 978-0-9915984-1-0 (318 pages)
Genre: Historical Fiction/World War II
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Praise for Behind the Forgotten Front

“Barbara’s debut novel is a compelling examination of man and war and the interaction between them. The miracle of this novel is how Barbara brings this `forgotten front’ to life. Barbara accomplishes her goals in this her debut – bringing to our attention the impact war has on all soldiers, no matter their assignment. She also sets a very high standard for her next book. Brava!” – Grady Harp, Amazon Reviewer


Buy the Book

Amazon (eBook)
Amazon (Paperback)

Barbara Hawkins started writing a pseudo-memoir about her time spent in Guatemala during the 1970’s-1980’s civil war. It was too close to her heart, so she had to switch to something she wanted to tell a story about but also had a worthwhile message. Her father had always wanted to write a book about the time he’d spent in World War II but died before he could reach that goal. So she thought she’d give it a try.

She knew he was stationed in Sri Lanka, but she didn’t find much to write about there. So she gravitated to what she knew best, engineering and jungles. The story of the Afro-American construction regiment building Stilwell’s Road grabbed her attention and who could not be mesmerized by American’s first guerrilla supported units: Merrill’s Marauders and the Mars Task Force? Half-way through the book her sister found her dad’s diary from the War. He was actually in the Mars Task Force. The scene with Lt. Jack Knight was taken from his diary and the ending was from a conversation she had with her dad just before he died. Having given a promise to keep his WWII missions a secret for fifty years, it was the only time her father spoke of the War.

Ms. Hawkins holds BS degrees from the University of Minnesota where she studied Botany and Mathematics. She taught mathematics and science in High School until she realized she hated being a disciplinarian. From there she traveled to jungles in Latin America collecting plant specimens for several universities. She also has a MS in Civil Engineering. For the last twenty-five-years she has worked as a professional engineer. Her hobbies vary from cooking and yoga to bicycling and adventure travel.
For more information visit Barbara Hawkins’ website.

Behind the Forgotten Front Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, May 11
Review at Flashlight Commentary
Interview at Boom Baby Reviews
Tuesday, May 12
Review at With Her Nose Stuck in a Book
Wednesday, May 13
Review & Giveaway at Forever Ashley
Spotlight at A Literary Vacation
Thursday, May 14
Spotlight at CelticLady’s Reviews
Friday, May 15
Review & Giveaway at Teddy Rose Book Reviews Plus More
Saturday, May 16
Review at Impressions in Ink
Spotlight at Just One More Chapter
Monday, May 18
Review & Giveaway at Unshelfish
Tuesday, May 19
Spotlight & Giveaway at Passages to the Past

Thursday, May 14, 2015

The Beekeeper's Daughter by Santa Montefiore

From the #1 internationally bestselling author, her first book set in America, the story of a mother and daughter searching for love and happiness, unaware of the secrets that bind them. To find what they are longing for they must confront the past, and unravel the lies told long ago.

England, 1932: Grace Hamblin is growing up on the beautiful estate of the Marquess and Marchioness of Penselwood. The beekeeper’s daughter, she knows her place and what the future holds—that is until her father dies. Her childhood friend Freddie has recently become her lover, and she is thankful when they are able to marry and take over her father’s duties. But there is another man who she just can’t shake from her thoughts…

Massachusetts, 1973: Grace’s daughter Trixie Valentine is in love with an unsuitable young man. Jasper Duncliffe is wild and romantic, and in a band that might hit it big. But when his brother dies and he is called home to England, Jasper promises to come back for Trixie one day, if only she will wait for him. Grace thinks that Trixie is surely abandoned and tries to support her daughter, but Trixie brushes off her mother’s advice and comfort. She is confident that Jasper’s love for her was real…

Set on a fictional island off the coast of Massachusetts with charming architecture, beautiful landscape, and quirky islanders, The Beekeeper’s Daughter is “a multigenerational banquet of love…one of the most engrossing reads of my year” (Elin Hilderbrand).

Kindle Edition, 400 pages

Published April 14th 2015 by Simon & Schuster (first published April 1st 2014) 
ARC via netgalley
Santa Montefiore had me at Secrets of the Lighthouse, that was an audio read for me and I loved it. 
With The Beekeeper's Daughter I was granted an arc from the publisher via netgalley and hoped my
anticipation level wasn't too high. 

This book alternated between 1930's England and 1970's USA.  Though the location in Massachusetts
is fictional the story line felt real and believable.  As you can read from the synopsis above young Trixie 
is in love but tragedy changes her plans for the future.  Jumping back to 1934 when her mother is young
and the advent of WW II shows how these two story lines connect.

The Beekeepers Daughter is a story of forbidden love, commitment, war and bees.  This is a book about 
relationships, between father/daughter, mother/daughter and husband/wife.   The author slowly reveals the
past in a sort of mesmerizing manner.  I had no problem visualizing the sights and smells described here,
my imigination took me over to prewar England, to the bee hives and gardens. 
Written with words that drew me in and kept my attention right to the end.  Fans of Lucinda Riley and JoJo Moyes will enjoy this also.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Guestpost: Alison McMahan author of THE SAFFRON CROCUS

Guest blog post by Alison McMahan

Here's something I hear all the time: "I could never write historical. Too much work! All that research. How do you do it?"

And my answer always is: "Contemporary. I could never write it. Too much work! You have to make everything up. For historical, I need to know something, I look it up."

There's truth to both statements, of course. Both genres have to make stuff up. Both genres have to do research. But I do think writing about a period where you can look everything up can be a lot easier.

For example, describing a character's clothing. Luckily for me, when I was writing The Saffron Crocus, my historical mystery-romance set in 1643 Venice, there was art. Although much of the art was religious or allegorical, most of the painters used live models, so I could look at faces and bodies and get a visual start on a character. And I could use the clothing in portraits to dress my characters.

For example, Bernardo Strozzi's portrait of Monteverdi was painted in 1640, just three years before the events of The Saffron Crocus take place. I spent quite a lot of time staring into those slightly mismatched eyes while I listened to recordings of his music and came up with ways to incorporate him as a character into the story.

I modeled the character of Domenico on Strozzi's Lute Player. Not just the face and the clothes, but also the general character, a boy who has just turned into a man and is something of a dandy. It's hard to look at this painting and take the young man's ability to play the lute seriously. So in the story Domenico is wealthy and has good taste but he plays the lute like a hobbyist. Not like someone who devotes their life to music, as some of the other characters do.

In those two instances the paintings gave me a character whole, but often I had to cobble together information from various sources, including more than one painting, in order to put together a character. For the figure of Margherita, I looked at many paintings of St. Cecilia, including one by Bernardo Strozzi:

For Margherita, I was also inspired by his portrait of Judith with the head of Holofernes:

In both images I was struck by the women's expressions. St. Cecilia is transported by some heavenly inspiration, as Margherita could be when she was singing. Judith confronts the viewer directly, even though her servant isn't too sure about this. I felt that summed up Margherita's abilities to survive and flourish no matter what life threw at her.

I named a supporting character Cecilia, after my recently-deceased mother-in-law and because the 17th century in Venice worshiped that saint. But for her appearance I used another portrait of Strozzi's, a sweet old woman with a stare that dares you to confront the truth about yourself:

After using so many of Bernardo Strozzi's paintings as sources of information and inspiration, I felt I had to put him in the book too. He is an "off-screen" character in the book, in that the main characters hide out in his studio while he is away, but we never meet him directly.

Who was Bernardo Strozzi? He lived from 1581 to 1644, so the year my story takes place was the last year of his life. By then he was one of the most influential painters of the 17th century, especially in Genoa and Venice. He became a Capuchin monk but took a leave of absence (over two decades long!) to care for his mother and sister. After his sister married and his mother died the order insisted he return, but Strozzi left Genoa and went to Venice instead, where he had a large workshop.

Publication Date: December 13, 2014
Black Opal Books
eBook; 306p
Genre: Young Adult/Historical Mystery/Romance
Add to GR Button

 ( click on the cover to take you to my review) of the 2014 Rosemary Award for Best Historical for Young Adults.

Venice, 1643. Isabella, fifteen, longs to sing in Monteverdi’s Choir, but only boys (and castrati) can do that. Her singing teacher, Margherita, introduces her to a new wonder: opera! Then Isabella finds Margherita murdered. Now people keep trying to kill Margherita’s handsome rogue of a son, Rafaele.

Was Margherita killed so someone could steal her saffron business? Or was it a disgruntled lover, as Margherita—unbeknownst to Isabella—was one of Venice’s wealthiest courtesans?

Or will Isabella and Rafaele find the answer deep in Margherita’s past, buried in the Jewish Ghetto?

Isabella has to solve the mystery of the Saffron Crocus before Rafaele hangs for a murder he didn’t commit, though she fears the truth will drive her and the man she loves irrevocably apart.

The Saffron Crocus Blog Tour & Book Blast Schedule

Monday, April 13
Book Blast at Genre Queen
Thursday, April 16
Guest Post & Giveaway at Let Them Read Books
Friday, April 17
Interview at Mythical Books
Monday, April 20
Review at Flashlight Commentary
Tuesday, April 21
Review at History From a Woman’s Perspective
Wednesday, April 22
Guest Post at History From a Woman’s Perspective
Tuesday, April 28
Book Blast at A Literary Vacation
Wednesday, April 29
Guest Post & Giveaway at So Many Precious Books, So Little Time
Tuesday, May 5
Review at Book Nerd
Wednesday, May 6
Review at Just One More Chapter
Thursday, May 7
Review at 100 Pages a Day
Friday, May 8
Guest Post at Just One More Chapter
Saturday, May 9
Book Blast at Romantic Historical Lovers
Tuesday, May 12
Review at The True Book Addict
Wednesday, May 13
Guest Post & Giveaway at Historical Fiction Connection
Thursday, May 14
Review at Book Babe
Guest Post at What Is That Book About
Monday, May 25
Review at Beth’s Book Nook Blog
Wednesday, May 27
Book Blast at CelticLady’s Reviews
Thursday, May 28
Review at The Lit Bitch
Review at Satisfaction for Insatiable Readers
Monday, June 1
Review at Broken Teepee
Tuesday, June 2
Guest Post at The Maiden’s Court
Friday, June 5
Spotlight & Giveaway at Jorie Loves a Story