Monday, November 30, 2015

Review: This Is Where It Ends by Marieke Nijkamp

10:00 a.m.
The principal of Opportunity, Alabama's high school finishes her speech, welcoming the entire student body to a new semester and encouraging them to excel and achieve.

10:02 a.m.
The students get up to leave the auditorium for their next class.

The auditorium doors won't open.

Someone starts shooting.

Told over the span of 54 harrowing minutes from four different perspectives, terror reigns as one student's calculated revenge turns into the ultimate game of survival.

Hardcover, 292 pages

Expected publication: January 5th 2016 by Sourcebooks Fire 
arc via netgalley
If you are regular follower of this blog then you most likely will realize that this genre is not one that I visit often.  It was an impulse request on netgalley, but I will say that it has a couple things that attracted me - a debut author (love them) and YA (always a favorite).  I spend so much time in the past and thought something current was in order.

I really, really hope that I don't give too much of the story away here, I have lots on my mind about this book.  First off, this book left me emotionally drained - read the synopsis and you'll understand why.  Adding the fact that I was right in the middle of it when the recent events in Paris took place, I actually had to set it aside for a week.  So hats off to the author for writing a book that can draw that kind of emotion in a reader.

Now that being said I did struggle at times.  Taking place over 54 minutes, with the flashbacks it did seem longer and I couldn't help wondering where and when help would arrive.  The scenario and how things played out didn't resonate well with me, basically because it didn't seem plausible.  Some books it's easy to suspend you disbelief but I had trouble here, just for the simple fact I struggled with how events played out.  This is a small town school with a large student body and everyone is in the gym?  (well except those few running the track). 

I found it hard at times to separate the various characters, they just sounded the same and what I really found lacking was an in-depth look at the killer and getting into his mind so that I could understand his motives better.  Yea we are given his story but in a superficial way - I needed to know more.  What really blew it for me was his second to last act, it wasn't necessary and just downright mean - not that his prior actions weren't but I think you would have to read the book to know what I am getting at here.

I am giving this book 3 stars because of the way the author made me feel when I finished.  Though it had flaws, it stayed with me for days afterwards.


Marieke Nijkamp is a storyteller, dreamer, globe-trotter, geek. She holds degrees in philosophy, history, and medieval studies, and is an executive member of We Need Diverse Books, the founder of DiversifYA, and a founding contributor to YA Misfits. She lives in the Netherlands. Visit her at 

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Excerpt: Zenobia - Challenging a Legend (Zenobia Book Series, Book Two) by Russ Wallace

After winning the famous Alexandria horse race, Zenobia, a young Syrian warrior and an aspiring scholar, assumes her life will return to normal. Wrong! A tumultuous romance develops with her instructor, widely considered the most brilliant academic on earth.

Unknown to her, an enemy plans to kidnap Zenobia for his harem. The hired mercenaries never suspect their intended victim is a deadly warrior. The attack is thwarted, but the Syrians are alerted to a slave trade in young girls.

Meanwhile, a Nubian princess has been captured by the slavers. She struggles to survive in the dangerous situation while she seeks a way to escape. Can she succeed?

Zenobia’s impetuous nature continues to impel her to take unwise risks, both in class and on a hunting trip. When a second kidnap attempt on her fails, the last attacker escapes. She decides to run him down to save her family. Thus begins an epic chase on horseback across the desert in the dead of night. It culminates in a shocking revelation that threatens her very future.

Circumstances now force Zenobia into roles for which she is untrained. As she meets the challenges, she begins to unleash her strategic genius, which will one day raise her to the pinnacle of her world.

“Book two in the Zenobia book series has it all …the book is full of adventure with kidnappings, hunting, fighting, revenge, chases, escapes, and piracy. Zenobia learns a heart breaking truth about love and this will mold her into the women she is destine to become. This was an ARC…You'll want to put this book on your TBR list.” – Julie Martin Wallace

Publication Date: November 14, 2015
Geode Press LLC
Hardcover; 512 Pages
Genre: Historical Fiction/Action & Adventure/Young Adult
Add to GR Button
Chapter 43
 Almost as an afterthought Zenobia asked, “How many men do you know that you can really trust?”

    “How many men can I really trust?” Jasmine repeated Zenobia’s question. After careful thinking, she replied, “None! Whatever you are thinking of doing, if it requires trustworthy men, forget it!”

    The look of controlled, determined intensity on the girl told her that was not likely to happen. This girl is dangerous, extremely dangerous!

Russ Wallace is an avid student of history and religion. Zenobia, one of the deadliest and most fascinating women of history, comes to life in his series about her. Russ is working on future releases in the Zenobia book series.

Blog Tour Schedule

Saturday, November 14
Tour Kick Off & Giveaway at Passages to the Past
Monday, November 16
Character Interview at Boom Baby Reviews
Tuesday, November 17
Review at History From a Woman's Perspective
Spotlight at CelticLady's Reviews
Wednesday, November 18
Spotlight & Giveaway at Teddy Rose Book Reviews Plus More
Thursday, November 19
Excerpt & Giveaway at Unshelfish
Friday, November 20
Excerpt at Let Them Read Books
Saturday, November 21
Spotlight at Svetlana's Reads and Views
Tuesday, November 24
Excerpt & Giveaway at Room With Books
Thursday, November 26
Excerpt at Just One More Chapter
Friday, November 27
Review at Book Nerd
Saturday, November 28
Review at One Book Shy of a Full Shelf
Sunday, November 29
Interview at One Book Shy of a Full Shelf

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Giveaway: Race to Tibet by Sophie Schiller

By 1889 Tibet is the last unexplored country in the world. Gabriel Bonvalot is determined to be the first Westerner to reach Lhasa but lacks a sponsor. When the Duke of Chartres promises to pay his expenses Bonvalot agrees, even after he learns he must bring along the Duke's wayward son, Prince Henri d'Orléans. Along the way Bonvalot meets Camille Dancourt, the wife of a missing surveyor, who attaches herself to the expedition in order to find her missing husband. During the journey the intrepid explorers are besieged by freezing temperatures, volatile winds, mountain sickness, hostile Tibetans, and duplicitous Chinese Mandarins. Nearing collapse, Bonvalot realizes they will have to resort to force if they ever wish to escape Tibet alive.

RACE TO TIBET is an adventure thriller that will take you on a suspenseful journey to the Roof of the World.

"Fans of Jules Verne’s travel adventures will find Schiller has done a solid job of transforming an obscure real-life Victorian expedition into a thrilling yarn." — Publishers Weekly
Publication Date: January 26, 2015
Tradewinds Publishing
Formats: eBook, Paperback
Pages: 342

Genre: Historical Fiction/Adventure

Add to GR Button


The Tibetan spoke again, but this time his voice changed. He began to chant as if he had gone into a hypnotic trance. He closed his eyes and recited a mantra that sounded like a prayer from another world.

"Our Oracle predicted that during the year of the Iron-Tiger the Jade Emperor would capture the golden bird and send her into exile, but a small army with metal sticks would sweep down from the north and rescue her. Once free the golden bird would fly to the Potala Palace to perform the sacred duty of acting as tutor and maidservant to the Dalai Lama. The Oracle said that for this great service, good fortune would follow the foreigners all the days of their lives. But if the golden bird is captured by the mandarins, they will lose their heads. She is called Pema, or lotus flower. Her true identity may not be known by anyone outside this tent, not even by your closest servants. For this reason, we call her the golden bird."

"I'll bear that in mind," said Bonvalot. "Don't worry, your golden bird will be safe with me. You may go in peace now."

Bonvalot led the visitors back to their horses while Pema stayed behind beside the tent, looking like a forgotten stupa on a windswept hill.

The Tibetans mounted their horses and galloped away. All that remained behind was the forlorn figure of Pema wrapped in her sheepskin coat, silent except for the humming of her prayer wheel. Her eyes followed their every movement.

"Now that we've got her, what do we do with her?" said Bonvalot, regarding the Tibetan girl with curiosity.

"I suppose our Christian duty is to feed her," said Father Dedeken. "And give her a warm place to sleep."

When Rachmed explained the situation to the caravan men, some of them objected to the intruder; others raised their eyebrows and cast suspicious glances in her direction, but otherwise they accepted Pema's presence, albeit guardedly.

Later, Bonvalot sat Pema down by the fire and offered her a bowl of tsampa and tea. When she became more comfortable, he urged her remove her shawl.

Reluctantly, the girl pushed away the shawl and when they caught a glimpse of her face in the light of the campfire, the men gasped: Pema was the most exquisite creature they had ever seen. She was beautiful in a mystical sort of way, with skin like polished white jade, rose petal lips, and black, almond-shaped eyes. Her hair was braided into dozens of tiny plaits that were bounded by a single strand of coral beads suspended from a golden disk on her forehead; around her neck she wore multiple strands of coral and turquoise necklaces, and in her hands she held a prayer wheel that she clutched like a golden scepter. Pema had an almost regal presence about her, like a royal consort. Or a goddess.

About the Author

03_Sophie Schiller_AuthorSophie Schiller was born in Paterson, NJ and grew up in the West Indies amid aging pirates and retired German spies. Among other oddities her family tree contains a Nobel prize-winning physicist and a French pop singer. She loves stories that carry the reader back in time to exotic and far-flung locations. She was educated at American University, Washington, DC and lives in Brooklyn, NY. She is currently working on a new historical thriller set in the Caribbean.

For more information visit Sophie Schiller's blog. You can also find her on Facebook and Twitter.

Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, November 23
Review at Svetlana's Reads and Views
Interview at Let Them Read Books
Spotlight at 100 Pages a Day

Tuesday, November 24
Spotlight at A Literary Vacation
Spotlight at CelticLady's Reviews

Wednesday, November 25
Review at Jorie Loves a Story
Spotlight at Just One More Chapter

Thursday, November 26
Guest Post at Passages to the Past
Spotlight at Book Nerd

Friday, November 27
Interview at Boom Baby Reviews


We have a signed paperback of Race to Tibet up for grabs! To enter, see the GLEAM form below.


– Giveaway ends at 11:59pm EST on November 27th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
– Giveaway is open internationally.
– Only one entry per household.
– All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspect of fraud is decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion
– Winner has 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen. Race to Tibet

Monday, November 23, 2015

Review: The Other Daughter by Lauren Willig

Raised in a poor yet genteel household, Rachel Woodley is working in France as a governess when she receives news that her mother has died, suddenly. Grief-stricken, she returns to the small town in England where she was raised to clear out the cottage...and finds a cutting from a London society magazine, with a photograph of her supposedly deceased father dated all of three month before. He's an earl, respected and influential, and he is standing with another daughter-his legitimate daughter. Which makes Rachel...not legitimate. Everything she thought she knew about herself and her past-even her very name-is a lie.

Still reeling from the death of her mother, and furious at this betrayal, Rachel sets herself up in London under a new identity. There she insinuates herself into the party-going crowd of Bright Young Things, with a steely determination to unveil her father's perfidy and bring his-and her half-sister's-charmed world crashing down. Very soon, however, Rachel faces two unexpected snags: she finds she genuinely likes her half-sister, Olivia, whose situation isn't as simple it appears; and she might just be falling for her sister's fiancé...

From Lauren Willig, author of the New York Times bestselling novel The Ashford Affair, comes The Other Daughter, a page-turner full of deceit, passion, and revenge.

Kindle Edition, 305 pages
Published July 21st 2015 by St. Martin's Press 
*** 1/2 

This is my first book by Lauren Willig and to be honest I didn't read much of the synopsis when requesting this from netgalley, she is an author I've been wanting to read for a while now.
The story gets off to a great start, with Rachel reviewing sad news (see synopsis above) and journeys back to England.  The plot was interesting, though not always original but watching events unfold left me surprised in a few instances.  It isn't a huge book, coming in at 304 pages and I would have loved a little more depth.  Rachel I got to know and got her character, but it was the others I would have liked to connect with and gotten to know better, especially her sister and father.

Romance has never been one of my 'go to' genres, but I honestly thought there would be more of it here.  What little there was didn't always ring true to me.

The author definitely knows her time period, the settings, descriptions rang true and I had no problem visualizing so much.  It was an entertaining story and my thanks to St. Martin's Press (via netgalley) for the opportunity to review The Other Daughter.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Review/Giveaway: The Crescent Spy by Michael Wallace

The Crescent Spy2

Writing under a man’s name, Josephine Breaux is the finest reporter at Washington’s Morning Clarion. Using her wit and charm, she never fails to get the scoop on the latest Union and Confederate activities. But when a rival paper reveals her true identity, accusations of treason fly. Despite her claims of loyalty to the Union, she is arrested as a spy and traitor.

To Josephine’s surprise, she’s whisked away to the White House, where she learns that President Lincoln himself wishes to use her cunning and skill for a secret mission in New Orleans that could hasten the end of the war. For Josephine, though, this mission threatens to open old wounds and expose dangerous secrets. In the middle of the most violent conflict the country has ever seen, can one woman overcome the treacherous secrets of her past in order to secure her nation’s future?

Paperback, 325 pages
Published November 10th 2015 by Lake Union Publishing
paperback received as part of tour

Add to Goodreads badge
*** (I liked it)

It was the location and the cover that drew me to The Crescent Spy.  Most of what I have read regarding the war takes place in Washington or in one of the northern states so this was a nice change.  Also most books come from a male prospective and it was a refreshing change to see the other side.  

This story goes back in time (just a little) to get Josephine's history which I enjoyed, it was nice to see how she got to where she was and it was needed for the story to make sense.  I liked Josephine, her drive and compassion, she had spunk.  The author shows his knowledge of the Civil War and wrote a book that I found interesting.  He attention to detail with descriptive writing had me able to visual and feel the time period and location.

If anything this book has peeked my interest in the fall of New Orleans and I would like to know the next chapter in Josephine's life.  Can one hope for a sequel?  This is where Author Notes would be handy, though I read from an ARC so those Notes might be in the finished book.

All in all an enjoyable read that will appeal to lovers of HF taking place during the Civil War and those that like a strong female lead.  Thanks to TLC Tours and allowing me to be part of this tour.

GIVEAWAY:  If you would like to win a copy of this book (USA/Canada only) just leave me a comment (got any favorite Civil War books?).  Contest closes on Nov. 27th.  Winner has 48 hours to respond when notified.

Purchase Links

Amazon | Books-A-Million | Barnes & Noble


41aiSf3KfwL._UX250_Michael Wallace was born in California and raised in a small religious community in Utah, eventually heading east to live in Rhode Island and Vermont.

In addition to working as a literary agent and innkeeper, he has been a software engineer for a Department of Defense contractor programming simulators for nuclear submarines.

 He is the author of more than twenty novels, including the Wall Street Journal bestselling Righteous series, set in a polygamist enclave in the desert.

Michael Wallace’s TLC Book Tours TOUR STOPS:

Monday, November 9th: Life is Story
Monday, November 9th: Literary Lindsey
Tuesday, November 10th: Broken Teepee
Wednesday, November 11th: Time 2 Read
Thursday, November 12th: Kritter’s Ramblings
Thursday, November 12th: Thoughts on This ‘n That
Monday, November 16th: 100 Pages a Day
Monday, November 16th: FictionZeal
Tuesday, November 17th: Book Babe
Wednesday, November 18th: Reading Reality
Thursday, November 19th: Bibliotica
Friday, November 20th: Just One More Chapter
Monday, November 23rd: It’s a Mad Mad World
Tuesday, November 24th: Historical Fiction Obsession
Wednesday, December 2nd: Mom in Love with

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Review: Letters from Skye by Jessica Brockmole

A sweeping story told in letters, spanning two continents and two world wars, Jessica Brockmole’s atmospheric debut novel captures the indelible ways that people fall in love, and celebrates the power of the written word to stir the heart.

March 1912: Twenty-four-year-old Elspeth Dunn, a published poet, has never seen the world beyond her home on Scotland’s remote Isle of Skye. So she is astonished when her first fan letter arrives, from a college student, David Graham, in far-away America. As the two strike up a correspondence—sharing their favorite books, wildest hopes, and deepest secrets—their exchanges blossom into friendship, and eventually into love. But as World War I engulfs Europe and David volunteers as an ambulance driver on the Western front, Elspeth can only wait for him on Skye, hoping he’ll survive.

June 1940: At the start of World War II, Elspeth’s daughter, Margaret, has fallen for a pilot in the Royal Air Force. Her mother warns her against seeking love in wartime, an admonition Margaret doesn’t understand. Then, after a bomb rocks Elspeth’s house, and letters that were hidden in a wall come raining down, Elspeth disappears. Only a single letter remains as a clue to Elspeth’s whereabouts. As Margaret sets out to discover where her mother has gone, she must also face the truth of what happened to her family long ago.

Sparkling with charm and full of captivating period detail, Letters from Skye is a testament to the power of love to overcome great adversity, and marks Jessica Brockmole as a stunning new literary voice.

Hardcover, 290 pages
Published July 9th 2013 by Ballantine Books 
arc from publisher via netgalley

My sincere apologizes to the author for taking so long to read this gem.  I won this (ebook) through the Historical Fictionistas group on Goodreads from the author when first released.  Hearing so many positive comments about Letters from Skye, lots comparing it to The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, which is a favorite, I knew this one must also be read by myself.

Letters from Skye is told entirely through letters.  My first thoughts were that this would be superficial - how can one connect with both the characters and the plot?  I like my books with depth, where I not just connect with the players and the story but that is unique and engaging at the same time.  Also, this book takes place in two different time periods - WW I and WW II, remember all through letters.

From the synopsis above you can tell who are doing all the writing, so I won't go over that.  So my thoughts on Letters from Skye - I thoroughly enjoyed it!  Beginning with the easy banter back and forth between David and Elspeth, getting to know them it wasn't difficult to see where it would lead.  With the second story line showing the repercussions, conflicts and fitting conclusion.  My fears regarding depth of character and plot were unfounded, through these letters I really got to know not just David, Elspeth and Margaret but others as well.  I felt their struggles and the lasting effects these wars had.

There were twists and turns here, I little questions I had in the back of my mind were answered.  All in all a great debut that kept me absorbed right to the end.

Praise for Letters from Skye

Letters from Skye is a captivating love story that celebrates the power of hope to triumph over time and circumstance.”—Vanessa Diffenbaugh, New York Times bestselling author of The Language of Flowers

“[A] remarkable story of two women, their loves, their secrets, and two world wars . . . [in which] the beauty of Scotland, the tragedy of war, the longings of the heart, and the struggles of a family torn apart by disloyalty are brilliantly drawn, leaving just enough blanks to be filled by the reader’s imagination.”Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“Tantalizing . . . sure to please readers who enjoyed other epistolary novels like The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society.”—Stratford Gazette

“An absorbing and rewarding saga of loss and discovery.”—Kate Alcott, New York Times bestselling author of The Dressmaker

“A sweeping and sweet (but not saccharine) love story.”USA Today

“[A] dazzling little jewel.”Richmond Times-Dispatch 

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Waiting on Wednesday: the dutch girl by Donna Thorland

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:
 Paperback, 416 pages

Expected publication: March 1st 2016 by NAL

The acclaimed author of Mistress Firebrand and The Turncoat continues “her own revolution in American historical romance”* with another smart, sexy, swashbuckling novel set during the American Revolution.

Manhattan and the Hudson River Valley, 1778.
The British control Manhattan, the Rebels hold West Point, and the Dutch patroons reign in feudal splendor over their vast Hudson River Valley estates. But the roads are ruled by highwaymen. Gerrit Van Haren, the dispossessed heir of Harenwyck, is determined to reclaim his inheritance from his decadent brother, Andries, even if that means turning outlaw and joining forces with the invading British. Until, that is, he waylays the carriage of beautiful young finishing school teacher Anna Winters…

Anna is a committed Rebel with a secret past and a dangerous mission to secure the Hudson Highlands for the Americans. Years ago, she was Annatje, the daughter of a tenant farmer who led an uprising against the corrupt landlords and paid with his life. Since then, Anna has vowed to see the patroon system swept aside along with British rule. But at Harenwyck she discovers that politics and virtue do not always align as she expects…and she must choose between two men with a shared past and conflicting visions of the future.

What are you waiting for?

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Review: Medici's Daughter by Sophie Perinot

 Winter, 1564. Beautiful young Princess Margot is summoned to the court of France, where nothing is what it seems and a wrong word can lead to ruin. Known across Europe as Madame la Serpente, Margot’s intimidating mother, Queen Catherine de Médicis, is a powerful force in a country devastated by religious war. Among the crafty nobility of the royal court, Margot learns the intriguing and unspoken rules she must live by to please her poisonous family.

Eager to be an obedient daughter, Margot accepts her role as a marriage pawn, even as she is charmed by the powerful, charismatic Duc de Guise. Though Margot’s heart belongs to Guise, her hand will be offered to Henri of Navarre, a Huguenot leader and a notorious heretic looking to seal a tenuous truce. But the promised peace is a mirage: her mother’s schemes are endless, and her brothers plot vengeance in the streets of Paris. When Margot’s wedding devolves into the bloodshed of the St. Bartholomew’s Day Massacre, she will be forced to choose between her family and her soul.

Médicis Daughter is historical fiction at its finest, weaving a unique coming-of-age story and a forbidden love with one of the most dramatic and violent events in French history.

Publication Date: December 1, 2015
Thomas Dunne Books
Hardcover & eBook; 384 Pages
Genre: Historical Fiction
Add to GR Button



This is my second book by Sophie Perinot, the first being her debut The Sisters Queen (which I really enjoyed).  I know that I have said this many times, most of my reading of HF takes place outside of France England. There seems to be more of an increase these days in books involving the French - or  maybe I am just noticing that trend.  With books like Medicis Daughter it is difficult not to take notice of the vast and wonderful history that country has to offer.

Introduced when Marguerite (Margot/Margaret) is young it was her desire to please her mother which is no easy feat when mom happens to be Catherine de Medici.  Told in first person the author made me connect with Margot.  It wasn't hard to feel the struggles she faced at court, how she was used and gossiped about.  First person narrative has always been a favorite of mine, getting inside the head of the character, feeling their emotions, when done right there is depth bringing much to the story.  I was not disappointed at all, Sophie Perinot writes with rich details, her descriptions made it so easy to visualize what was taking place - I was totally absorbed in her story.  It didn't take long to comprehend the amount of research that went into Medicis Daughter, as well at the authors passion for the time period.

There is more to this story than Margot's relationship with her mother, her brother is King Charles and another one Anjou. This is a story about a love that is forbidden, made all the harder when all eyes seem to be watching every move you make. I can't imagine the frustration of growing up and knowing your life is not your own, but watching Margot mature and coming to grips with life at court was an interesting process and one I enjoyed tremedously.  It's about discovering herself, though a political pawn in the hands of family.

All in all a great book that will appeal to those interested in HF taking place in France, those that love the political ambitions of the de Medicis, those that like relatively unknowns and those that just want a book to get lost in, trust me you won't be disappointed..

SOPHIE PERINOT is the author of The Sister Queens and one of six contributing authors of A Day of Fire: A Novel of Pompeii. A former attorney, Perinot is now a full-time writer. She lives in Great Falls, Virginia with her three children, three cats, one dog and one husband.

An active member of the Historical Novel Society, Sophie has attended all of the group’s North American Conferences and served as a panelist multiple times.
 Find her among the literary twitterati as @Lit_gal or on Facebook.
click on banner for more stops on this tour

Advance Praise

“This is Renaissance France meets Game of Thrones: dark, sumptuous historical fiction that coils religious strife, court intrigue, passionate love, family hatred, and betrayed innocence like a nest of poisonous snakes. Beautiful Princess Margot acts as our guide to the heart of her violent family, as she blossoms from naive court pawn to woman of conscience and renown. A highly recommended coming-of-age tale where the princess learns to slay her own dragons!” –Kate Quinn, Bestselling author of LADY OF THE ETERNAL CITY

“The riveting story of a 16th century French princess caught in the throes of royal intrigue and religious war. From the arms of the charismatic Duke of Guise to the blood-soaked streets of Paris, Princess Marguerite runs a dangerous gauntlet, taking the reader with her. An absolutely gripping read!” –Michelle Moran, bestselling author of THE REBEL QUEEN

“Rising above the chorus of historical drama is Perinot’s epic tale of the fascinating, lascivious, ruthless House of Valois, as told through the eyes of the complicated and intelligent Princess Marguerite. Burdened by her unscrupulous family and desperate for meaningful relationships, Margot is forced to navigate her own path in sixteenth century France. Amid wars of nation and heart, Médicis Daughter brilliantly demonstrates how one unique woman beats staggering odds to find the strength and power that is her birthright.” –Erika Robuck, bestselling author of HEMINGWAY’S GIRL

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Review: The Wild Girl by Kate Forsyth

Once there were six sisters. The pretty one, the musical one, the clever one, the helpful one, the young one...And then there was the wild one. 

Dortchen Wild has loved Wilhelm Grimm since she was a young girl. Under the forbidding shadow of her father, the pair meet secretly to piece together a magical fairy tale collection. The story behind the stories of the Brothers Grimm.
Hardcover, 495 pages
Published July 22nd 2013 by Allison & Busby
audio from public
library (through overdrive)
17 hrs and 41 mins 

 I am relatively new to Kate Forsyth books, her book Bitter Greens was a favorite of mine - it had a mix of HF and fairy tale retelling. As much as I love fairy tales I just dont seem to read them like I want (my tbr pile reflects this).  It isn't a secret that I am a big fan of audio books.  I hestatied for the longest time whether to give the audio a try for The Wild Girl.  Some books are  more enjoyable reading verses audio, as well some lend themselves to audio as my preferred method.  When I realized that Kate Reading was reading this one I knew I was in for a real treat - she is one of my favorites (yea she could read the ingredients off a box of cookies and I would be entranced).

The Wild Girl is the story of the Grimm Brothers, but mostly centers on their neighbour Dortchen Wild.  Life isn't easy for her, especially as her siblings move on, marry and have babies while Dortchen is left to care for her parents (let me tell you, no easy task). 

There is definitely that fairy tale feel here, whether it's the stories she shares with Wilhelm Grimm or just her life, Dortchen was someone who was easy to feel sympathy for.  Caring, compassionate and always putting others before her own dreams, especially with the secrets she keeps to herself.

That being said this is also about Grimm fairy tales coming into print.  Taking place during Napolean's rule in Germany during the late 1800's, it's a brutal time for all which Kate Forsyth depicted perfectly.

One of the disadvantages of going the audio route is not being able to write down quotes or phrases that I enjoy doing with a physical print copy.  But I did manage one.
“Stories are important too. Stories help make sense of things. They make you believe you can do things. They help you imagine that things may be different, that if you just have enough courage... or faith... or goodness... you can change things for the better.”

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Review: Beautiful Goodbye by Nancy Runstedler

Maggie's life has been anything but easy lately. So when her best friend Gillian discovers a Ouija board in the attic, it's a welcome relief. While they'd rather be at the mall than babysitting Maggie's brother Cole, the girls figure it will be a fun way to spend a Saturday -- asking questions about boys and other teenage dilemmas. After all, it's just a game. Or is it?

Thinking nothing could possibly go wrong, the kids dive in, eager to test the new game, but discover the board will change their lives in ways they couldn't have imagined. The trio ends up with more than they bargained for and are thrust into a whirlwind journey. One from which they might never return, if they aren't careful.

Paperback, 152 pages
Published August 20th 2012 by Dundurn 
Lately I seem to be reading more Young Adult HF, which is what Beautiful Goodbye is.  Written by Canadian author  Nancy Runstedler, this was released in 2012 - the publisher very gracious provided me with an arc (via Netgalley) for review.  My sincere apologies for not reviewing this little gem sooner.

At first I wasn't sure what to expect but it didn't take long to be immersed in this story.  There were times I found it to be a little choppy, some scenes not fully developed as it could have been.  But aside from that I found this to be an emotional and addictive read.  It's relatively short (152 pages) and I could not put it down.  The author made me care for Maggie, Cole and Hope, the things they have gone through and what the future holds.  The synopsis doesn't give too many details about the book (which I love) so I won't expound on that.  It wasn't an easy road they traveled, especially during the early part of WW I, but it was a journey that each of them had to face.  The story itself was intriguing and unique.  
"Maggie's last thoughts before exhaustion claimed her were that her grief felt like an earthquake.  The intial blow devastated everything in it's path.  You grouped together, trying to recover and move on, even if it meant you'd lost the things most important to you.  But when you least expected it, an after shock would hit.  It might be days, it might be months or years.  Maggie knew whenever those tremors did hit she would not be alone and she would survive them."

Waiting on Wednesday: Fall of Poppies - Stories of Love and the Great War

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:

Paperback, 356 pages

Expected publication: March 1st 2016 by William Morrow Paperbacks 
Top voices in historical fiction deliver an intensely moving collection of short stories about loss, longing, and hope in the aftermath of World War I—featuring bestselling authors such as Hazel Gaynor, Jennifer Robson, Beatriz Williams, and Lauren Willig and edited by Heather Webb.

A squadron commander searches for meaning in the tattered photo of a girl he’s never met…

A Belgian rebel hides from the world, only to find herself nursing the enemy…

A young airman marries a stranger to save her honor—and prays to survive long enough to love her…

The peace treaty signed on November 11, 1918, may herald the end of the Great War but for its survivors, the smoke is only beginning to clear. Picking up the pieces of shattered lives will take courage, resilience, and trust.

Within crumbled city walls and scarred souls, war’s echoes linger. But when the fighting ceases, renewal begins…and hope takes root in a fall of poppies.

What are you waiting for?

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Book Blast/Giveaway: The Persian Woman by Thomas Booker

Publication Date: September 2, 2015
Circle B Publishing LLC
eBook; 229 Pages
Genre: Literary/Mystery/Thriller
Add to GR Button

A tough Navy SEAL and a beautiful Persian woman clash before working together to confront a ferocious common enemy. It is a tale of jihad, terror, and forbidden love. A Jeffrey Quinn novel.

“I stayed up late reading this book a second time. I read it first for the intriguing story and the second time for the wonderful language. Mr. Booker has crafted a timely and compelling story filled with a cast of characters from the slimy to the sublime. I would like to have a friend like the main character, Jeffrey Quinn . . . a man with a past and his own demons . . . honest . . . loyal . . . .” -Rebecca K. McWhorter (5 Star Amazon Review)



Soldier of fortune Thomas Booker has traveled widely in Europe, Africa, and Latin America. He currently is helping to build a children’s clinic in South East Asia. He resides in Texas.

Book Blast Schedule

November 4
Book Nerd
November 12
Boom Baby Reviews
November 16
A Book Geek
December 29
Broken Teepee


To win an eBook of The Persian Woman please enter using the GLEAM form below. 20 eBooks are up for grabs!
– Giveaway ends at 11:59pm EST on December 31st. You must be 18 or older to enter.
– Giveaway is open internationally.
– Only one entry per household.
– All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspect of fraud is decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion
– Winner has 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.


Sunday, November 8, 2015

Book Blast! They All Fall Down by A.K. Mason

02_They All Fall Down
Publication Date: September 12, 2015 Paperback; 433 Pages
Genre: Contemporary/Women's Fiction
Add to GR Button 

For her entire life, Alexandra Kramer has been checking a series of boxes. Trapped by the expectations of everyone else around her, she’s made good grades, married the right guy, and secured a place at the prestigious Harvard Business School. But in the chaos of the 2008 financial crisis, Alex suddenly finds herself running into the fire, instead of seeking a safe haven from the flames. Ditching her Ivy League plans, she becomes dedicated to showing she has what it takes in the high-stakes, fast-paced boys’ club of Wall Street trading, as she forges her own path for the first time in her life. As these volatile changes drive her husband Jamie into his own crisis, Alex is forced to examine the choices she’s made—as she’s torn between her traditional role as wife, and the exciting, Wild West appeal of the trading floor. When her two worlds suddenly collide, it becomes clear the institutions she once believed in so strongly are more flawed than she ever imagined—and when everything comes crumbling down, it’s up to Alex to decide for herself what’s worthy of putting back together.



*Kindle eBook on Sale for $.99, now through November 9th!

03_A.K. MasonA. K. Mason is a graduate of Harvard College, who deferred her acceptance to Harvard Business School on three different occasions in favor of working on Wall Street. As a bond trader from 2007 to 2013, she experienced the financial crisis first-hand, and was on the trading desk as Lehman Brothers underwent bankruptcy. In 2013, Mason earned her MBA from New York University’s Stern School of Business and left Wall Street to build a fitness technology and media business. She currently resides in Washington, DC, with her family.





To win a $50 Amazon Gift Card please enter using the GLEAM form below.
– Giveaway ends at 11:59pm EST on November 13th. You must be 18 or older to enter. – Giveaway is open internationally. – Only one entry per household. – All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspect of fraud is decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion – Winner has 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.


04_They All Fall Down_Blog Tour Banner_FINAL

Friday, November 6, 2015

Review/Giveaway: Spirit of the Highway (Highway Trilogy, Book II) by Deborah Swift

England 1651.

England has been engaged in a bitter Civil War for nearly ten years. Ralph Chaplin, a farmer’s son, has fallen for beautiful copper-haired Kate. There is only one problem – he is a Roundhead soldier and she is a Royalist lady.

Tired of bloodshed, Ralph volunteers to fight, sensing that the Battle at Worcester will be a chance to finish the fighting for good. He longs for peace, so he can forge a secure future and find a different, more equal way of life for himself and Kate.

But war is not what he imagined, and soon he has made a deadly enemy; one who will pursue Ralph and those he loves, and wreak vengeance. What’s more, Ralph finds he has just as many enemies at home, as on the battlefield.

Told by Ralph’s ghost, Spirit of the Highway is the stand-alone second part of the Highway Trilogy based on the real life and legend of Lady Katherine Fanshawe, highwaywoman and heiress.

Publication Date: September 30, 2015
Endeavor Press
eBook & Paperback; 292 Pages
Genre: Historical Fiction/Young Adult
Add to GR Button

  I was very excited to hear  the sequel to Shadow on the Highway was in the works, especially that my wait wouldn't be long.  Deborah Swift is a favorite of mine, her books The Lady's Slipper, The Gilded Lily and A Divided Inheritance were books that I really enjoyed.  They took me to another place and time, had me totally captivated, hence why I was excited to find out Spirit of the Highway was being released. 

The Highway Trilogy is YA, it's a genre that lacks really good historical fiction - those with not just a good story but that you can lean the time period in an enjoyable and entertaining fashion.  Spirit of the Highway is the 2nd book in the series.  It definitely works as a stand alone, but I recommend book one, Shadow on the Highway, just because it's really good and tells the story of Abigail which I found very interesting.

Spirit on the Highway is told from the POV of Ralph, his spirit that is.  At first I thought what a unique prospective until I finally grasped what that meant.  It really is a different approach, though at times I forgot about the spirit and then waited for a miracle of some sorts.  It wasn't until I was reading the authors note that I really appreciated this POV.  More on those notes shortly.

There were a variety of characters here, some I liked and others not so much.  With different and unique personalities Swift skillfully wove a story showing the various repercussions of war.  From those that fought, those left behind, those on a mission for themselves along with the women left behind to struggle on their own.  This book didn't hold much back in the way of details back in 1651, not just the struggles and hardships endured but a bleak future as well.  Her knowledge of this time is evident here and her writing style makes it easy to get absorbed in the story.

The Authors Notes explains that Katherine Fanshawe is a real historical figure which adds more life to this story.  In regards ghosts/spirits Deborah Swift wrote a few pages entitled 'Ghosts of the Seventeenth Century' which I found just as interesting as the book and has me looking forward to the next/final installment in this series, Lady of the Highway (set for a 2016 release).

Though YA I feel this series would be enjoyed by adults as well.



Praise for Deborah Swift

“The past comes alive through impeccable research, layers of intriguing plot line, an understanding of the complexities of 17th century politics and the sheer power of descriptive prose.” -Lancashire Evening Post
“characters you can really get interested in” -The Mum website


Praise for Shadow on the Highway (Book One, Highway Trilogy)

“Shadow on the Highway is an awesome work of YA historical fiction. It is definitely my new favorite Deborah Swift book!” -So Many Books So Little Time Blog

“Swift brings layers of historical and imaginative detail to her stories and I highly recommend as a light read for any adult and for teenagers interested into foraying into historical fiction.” -Hook of a Book Blog

“Shadow on the Highway is an exciting peek into the English Civil War from both sides of the fighting… I very much look forward to the next two books in this trilogy!” -Historical Tapestry

Deborah Swift is the author of three previous historical novels for adults, The Lady’s Slipper, The Gilded Lily, and A Divided Inheritance, all published by Macmillan/St Martin’s Press, as well as the Highway Trilogy for teens (and anyone young at heart!). Her first novel was shortlisted for the Impress prize for new novelists.

She lives on the edge of the beautiful and literary English Lake District – a place made famous by the poets Wordsworth and Coleridge.



Blog Tour Schedule
Monday, October 26
Guest Post at Passages to the Past
Tuesday, October 27
Review at Book Nerd
Spotlight & Excerpt at Let Them Read Books
Wednesday, October 28
Thursday, October 29
Monday, November 2
Tuesday, November 3
Spotlight & Excerpt at Brooke Blogs
Thursday, November 5
Friday, November 6
Review at Bookramblings


To win a signed paperback of Spirit of the Highway please enter the giveaway via the GLEAM form below. Three copies up for grabs!
– Giveaway ends at 11:59pm EST on November 6th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
– Giveaway is open internationally.
– Only one entry per household.
– All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspect of fraud is decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion
– Winner has 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.

Spirit of the Highway