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.


BECAUSE PETS BELONG WITH THEIR PEOPLE™
To learn more, visit threenorwegians.com
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 threenorwegians.com, 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 - #redhead.with.book - 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
***1/2 

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.
 
Author Links:
 

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Waiting on Wednesday: The Vatican Princess: A Novel of Lucrezia Borgia by C.W. Gortner

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:

400 pages
Ballantine Books (Feb. 16 2016)

anything by this author is automatically a must read


For fans of Philippa Gregory and Alison Weir, bestselling author C. W. Gortner effortlessly weaves history and drama in this captivating novel about one of the world’s most notorious families. Glamorous and predatory, the Borgias fascinated and terrorized fifteenth-century Renaissance Italy, and Lucrezia Borgia, beloved daughter of the pope, was at the center of the dynasty’s ambitions. Slandered as a heartless seductress who lured men to their doom, was she in fact the villainess of legend, or was she trapped in a familial web, forced to choose between loyalty and survival?

With the ascension of the Spaniard Rodrigo Borgia as Pope Alexander VI, a new era has dawned in Rome. Benefiting from their father’s elevation are the new pope’s illegitimate children—his rival sons, Cesare and Juan, and beautiful young daughter Lucrezia—each of whom assumes an exalted position in the papal court. Privileged and adored, Lucrezia yearns to escape her childhood and play a part in her family’s fortunes. But Rome is seductive and dangerous: Alliances shift at a moment’s notice as Italy’s ruling dynasties strive to keep rivals at bay. As Lucrezia’s father faces challenges from all sides, the threat of a French invasion forces him to marry her off to a powerful adversary. But when she discovers the brutal truth behind her alliance, Lucrezia is plunged into a perilous gambit that will require all her wits, cunning, and guile. Escaping her marriage offers the chance of happiness with a passionate prince of Naples, yet as scandalous accusations of murder and incest build against her, menacing those she loves, Lucrezia must risk everything to overcome the lethal fate imposed upon her by her Borgia blood.

Beautifully wrought, rich with fascinating historical detail, The Vatican Princess is the first novel to describe Lucrezia’s coming-of-age in her own voice, resulting in a dramatic, vivid tale set in an era of savagery and unparalleled splendor, where enemies and allies can be one and the same, and where loyalty to family can ultimately be a curse.

What are you waiting for? 

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Review: Avelynn by Marissa Campbell

One extraordinary Saxon noblewoman and one fearless Viking warrior find passion and danger in this dazzling and sensuous debut.

Marissa Campbell’s debut novel is a winning combination of romance, history, and adventure sure to appeal to fans of Diana Gabaldon.

It is 869. For eighteen years, Avelynn, the beautiful and secretly pagan daughter of the Eadlorman of Somerset has lived in an environment of love and acceptance. She hasn’t yet found a man to make her heart race, but her father has not pressured her to get married. Until now. With whispers of war threatening their land, her father forces Avelynn into a betrothal with Demas, a man who only covets her wealth and status. The dreaded marriage looming, she turns to her faith, searching for answers in an ancient ritual along the coast, only to find Alrik the Blood-Axe and sixty Viking berserkers have landed.

Alrik is unlike any man she has ever known, strong and intriguing. Likewise, he instantly falls for her beauty and courage. The two stumble into a passionate love affair, but it’s more than just a greedy suitor who will try to keep them apart.

As the Saxons and Vikings go to war, Avelynn and Alrik find themselves caught in the throes of fate. Can they be true to their people as well as to each other?

 
Publication Date: September 8, 2015
St. Martin’s Press
Formats: eBook, Paperback, Hardcover
Pages: 320
ISBN13: 978-1250063939
Genre: Historical Fiction/Romance
Add to GR Button
arc - netgalley
****


I am a sucker for debut novels, especially HF and when they take place in a time period I am unfamiliar with, all the better.  Puts a little bit of pressure on the author right there, with Avelynn I was not disappointed at all.

I like Avelynn, a strong and determined woman, smart and brave as well.  The late 800's was a brutal time in England, not just because of the Vikings, but also for the fact that women were at the mercy of man, with no choice as to the direction their life went.  The author created a story of suspense and mystery as Avelynn took/tried to take control of her life.  Not knowing what was taking place this book had me nervous with each page turn as to what would happen next.  It just seemed she hit so many obstacles on this journey and history does not always have that 'happy ever after' ending.

The supernatural part of this story was interested and it added that extra element which fit right into the story.  Though the romance part didn't quite resonate too well with me, maybe because of the time gap, I am not totally sure.  The ending left it open  for a sequel and I hope there will be one because I will like to see what is next for Avelynn.

The author definitely knows this time period and the amount of research is evident, though I would have loved to see author notes at the end end just to see what was real and fiction. 




 

PRAISE

“Marissa Campbell brings a long-forgotten era splendidly to life in this adventurous and passionate debut.” – Susanna Kearsley, New York Times bestselling author

“Avelynn is a captivating tale of star-crossed lovers. He is a Viking and she is a Saxon. Their struggle to be together will lead you on an exciting journey through a background filled with rich and detailed description.” – Connie Mason, New York Times bestselling author of Viking Warrior

“Marissa Campbell’s Avelynn is a fast-paced, rollicking historical novel whose irresistible heroine starts out as the willful daughter of a Saxon earl and evolves into a warrior and leader, as fierce as she is passionate.” – Barbara Rogan, author of A Dangerous Fiction and Suspicion

“A hot-blooded tale of Viking invasion, Saxon valor, and a love that conquers kingdoms. Get ready to be bewitched by the bold, brave Avelynn.” – Barbara Kyle, author of The Queen’s Exiles

AMAZON US | AMAZON CAN | AMAZON UK | BARNES & NOBLE | CHAPTERS

Marissa Campbell is a published freelance author, and co-author of the award-winning, spiritual self-help book Life: Living in Fulfillment Every Day.

Look for her debut historical fiction Avelynn coming September 8th, 2015, from St. Martin’s Press. Currently, hard at work on the second book in the Avelynn series, she is a proud member of the Historical Novel Society, Romance Writers of America, Writer’s Community of Durham Region, and local critique group B7.

When she is not writing, she is busy looking after her wonderful children, spending time with her fantastic husband, hanging out with her awesome friends, teaching yoga, dancing, laughing, and having fun!

For more information visit http://marissacampbell.com. You can also follow Marissa Campbell on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.



http://hfvirtualbooktours.com/avelynnblogtour/
click on banner for more stop on this tour

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Review: How To Write a Novel by Melanie Sumner

In the spirit of Maria Semple’s Where’d You Go Bernadette and Graeme Simsion’s The Rosie Project, How to Write a Novel is the hilarious and heartfelt story of a single-mother family struggling to get back on track after tragedy brings them back home to Georgia.

Aristotle “Aris” Thibodeau, age 12.5, is writing the Great American Novel. According to Write a Novel in Thirty Days! it shouldn’t be that hard—all she needs to do is write what she knows. Conveniently, Aris’s world is full of people who are more fun to write about than live with, like her single mother, Diane. Diane is an adjunct English professor who flirts with unemployment more than her Match.com dates, and, regrettably, does not know the difference between hair that looks messy and hair that is messy. Aris knows that if Diane would just accept that the perfect man is already under her nose—Penn MacGuffin, handyman, nanny, and self-described PMI (“Positive Male Influence”)—their lives would change for the better. After all, nothing gets a novel off the ground like a budding romance. But when a random accident exposes Aris to a dark part of her family’s history, she’s forced to confront that fact that sometimes in life—as in great literature—things might not work out exactly as you hoped.


Paperback, 304 pages
Published August 4th 2015 by Vintage 
arc - netgalley
*** 
 
Aris is a 12 1/2 years old, who after receiving a copy of the book 'Write a Novel in 30 days"  begins to write the great American novel.  She does this with the hope of striking it rich at which time she can help her family out of financial difficulties. Set over the space of 30 days we learn a lot about the family, how they got to where they are and the tragedy that befell them to get there.

I love the idea of this book, any book about books is always a good thing.  The synopsis above does a good job showing what this book is about, so no need to go over that.  Told from the POV of Aris (short for Aristotle) it is funny, quirky and honest.  Along with Aris is her mother Diane, each struggling with their own issues.  This is a book about dealing with grief, growing up and family.  It's about a long buried secret.

It's a quick read and though YA, How to Write a Novel will also appeal to adults.  Thank you to Netgalley for the opportunity to review this.

Friday, September 18, 2015

Audio Review: Decorum: A Novel by Kaaren Christopherson

Kaaren Christopherson’s brilliantly observed novel captures the glamour and grit of one of the world’s most dazzling cities during one of its most tumultuous eras–as seen through the eyes of a singularly captivating heroine…

In 1890s New York, beautiful, wealthy Francesca Lund is an intriguing prospect for worthy suitors and fortune hunters alike. Recently orphaned, she copes by working with the poor in the city’s settlement movement. But a young woman of means can’t shun society for long, and Francesca’s long-standing acquaintance with dashing Edmund Tracey eventually leads to engagement. Yet her sheltered upbringing doesn’t blind her to the indiscretions of the well-to-do…

Among the fashionable circle that gathers around her there are mistresses, scandals, and gentlemen of ruthless ambition. And there is Connor O’Casey–an entirely new kind of New Yorker. A self-made millionaire of Irish stock, Connor wants more than riches. He wants to create a legacy in the form of a luxury Madison Avenue hotel–and he wants Francesca by his side as he does it. In a quest that will take her from impeccable Manhattan salons to the wild Canadian Rockies, Francesca must choose not only between two vastly different men, but between convention and her own emerging self-reliance.

Rules Of Decorum
A gentleman should not be presented to a lady without her permission being previously asked and granted. This formality is not necessary between men alone; but, still, you should not present any one, even at his own request, to another, unless you are quite well assured that the acquaintance will be agreeable to the latter.

If you wish to avoid the company of any one that has been properly introduced, satisfy your own mind that your reasons are correct; and then let no inducement cause you to shrink from treating him with respect, at the same time shunning his company. No gentleman will thus be able either to blame or mistake you.
 
The mode in which the avowal of love should be made, must of course, depend upon circumstances. It would be impossible to indicate the style in which the matter should be told… Let it, however, be taken as a rule that an interview is best; but let it be remembered that all rules have exceptions…

Publication Date: March 31, 2015
Kensington Publishing Corp.
Foramts: eBook, Paperback, Audio
Pages: 425

Genre: Historical Fiction/Romance

Add to GR Button
***1/2

Karen Christopherson is a new author to me, this always excites me.  Taking place in the 1890's it is a time period that I recently started to enjoy, reading of social classes and the struggles women had to face. 

Decorum starts with a bang (literally). Francesca does not conform to the wishes of others but takes control of her own life.  It's the late 1800's when women were still governed by fathers and husbands.  I liked the way she was portrayed here, she is strong and determined though venerable but still is level headed.   I could cite numerous examples but for fear of giving too much of the story away I will refrain.  Smart, cautious I enjoyed her journey. 

Each chapter begins with a little lesson in decorum, relating to the time period, I found that to be an interesting and unique feature.  The plot doesn't just center on the life of Francesca, there are other subplots that the author neatly brings together.  I was a little nervous about the predictability factor, thinking I had things figured out, but I was wrong.  A book is much more enjoyable when twists and turns take place that you don't see coming.

This isn't a short book, the audio version is 15 1/2 hours long, read by Susie Bernei's who did a good job.  There were a few times I thought it might have dragged a little.  As well as spots where the audio stopped in the middle of a sentence only to pick up at a different place, making me wonder what/if I missed something.

All in all a good read that will appeal to fans of this time period featuring strong women ahead of their time.

 

 PRAISE

“Reminiscent of Washington Square but with a more modern heroine, Decorum illuminates the dark world beneath New York society. …” – RT Book Review, 4 stars

“Christopherson provides the reader with a fully-realized world of brazen and aspiring women, ambitious men and strict expectations regarding how to conduct one’s private and/or social life. The characters are so beautifully drawn that I felt like I could start casting the mini-series the minute I put the book down. And, this book would make a wonderful TV series with settings ranging from early New York City to the Canadian Rockies. …I loved every minute.” – Nancy, Goodreads reviewer

“…the novel is remarkable in its similarities to the work of Edith Wharton. The reader feels drawn into a world of glamour, glitz, and supreme hypocrisy. Everything is permissible as long as one does not get caught. It is a drama of manners and the stakes are high—one misstep could mean social oblivion. … This novel will appeal to a wide range of readers, particularly those who enjoy period novels such as Age of Innocence and The Portrait of a Lady.” – The Historical Novel Society

“New York, 1890, and the glitz and glamor of the time and setting, are the backdrop for this novel about a young heiress who suddenly finds herself alone in the world. I loved how each chapter began with a rule of etiquette based upon the societal norms of the time. The story gave me a glimpse of what it would have been like to live among the wealthiest and most prominent citizens. Of course, all is not perfect, for the heroine must maneuver her way through treachery, greed, and scandal to find which of the two men in her life is her true love. I thoroughly enjoyed how the characters interacted, and how authentic they felt to me. Lots of wonderfully rich descriptions of places and gowns really brought the era to life. … I definitely recommend this book to anyone who enjoys New York in the Gilded Age. A good historical read!” – Mirella Patzer, Historical Novel Review

“In this remarkable first novel, Christopherson takes us back to 1890s New York — to tell a tale so pitch perfect it hurts. Bridging the divide between historical fiction and literary fiction, the story of the rising immigrant Connor and the unlikely pairing with orphaned socialite/settlement house worker Francesca is beset with conflict from her devious fiance Tracy, Connor’s lover the scandalous Blanche and Francesca’s meddling guardians the Jeromes. Some of the most gorgeous scenes are set in an art warehouse examining paintings that have just arrived from Paris, a hat shop, a delightful tea house and of course, tangled in the bedsheets! Between murder, trials, and lies, this tale takes us to Argentina and Louisiana, Ireland and Chicago, the lower east side to the upper west side and finally to a real resort in Banff Canada where our unlikely pair will finally get a chance. Or will they?” – Booksmart, Amazon review

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Kaaren Christopherson is the author of Decorum—a novel about Gilded Age New York—that began taking form in 1999 during a course on writing historical fiction. From that moment, Connor O’Casey (who had been rattling around in her brain for months) finally appeared one night and said, “All right, woman. Here I am. What are you going to do about my story?” So she began to put his words on paper, and he hasn’t kept quiet since. Soon Francesca, Blanche, Tracey, Vinnie, and the rest of the characters began arguing, gossiping, loving, and forming themselves into Kaaren’s first novel.
Kaaren has had a professional career writing and editing for over 30 years and is a senior editor for an international development nonprofit organization in Washington, DC.

She has written fiction since her school days, story poems, children’s books, historical fiction, and time travel, and continues to be active in writer’s groups and writing workshops. In addition to her career as a writer, Kaaren was the owner of a decorative painting business. She loves to travel and prowl through historical sites, galleries, and museums. She is active in several churches in DC and in her local Northern Virginia community, where she shares her home with feline brothers, Archie and Sammy.

A Michigan native, Kaaren received her BA in history and art and her MA in educational administration from Central Michigan University in Mt. Pleasant, Michigan.

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

 

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Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Waiting on Wednesday: In the Shadow of the Storm (The King’s Greatest Enemy, Book One) by Anna Belfrage

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:

Publication Date: November 1, 2015
Silverwood Books

Genre: Historical Fiction

Adam de Guirande owes his lord, Sir Roger Mortimer, much more than loyalty. He owes Sir Roger for his life and all his worldly good, he owes him for his beautiful wife – even if Kit is not quite the woman Sir Roger thinks she is. So when Sir Roger rises in rebellion against the king, Adam has no choice but to ride with him – no matter what the ultimate cost may be.

England in 1321 is a confusing place. Edward II has been forced by his barons to exile his favourite, Hugh Despenser. The barons, led by the powerful Thomas of Lancaster, Roger Mortimer and Humphrey de Bohun, have reasons to believe they have finally tamed the king. But Edward is not about to take things lying down, and fate is a fickle mistress, favouring first one, then the other.

Adam fears his lord has over-reached, but at present Adam has other matters to concern him, first and foremost his new wife, Katherine de Monmouth. His bride comes surrounded by rumours concerning her and the baron, and he hates it when his brother snickers and whispers of used goods.

Kit de Courcy has the misfortune of being a perfect double of Katherine de Monmouth – which is why she finds herself coerced into wedding a man under a false name. What will Adam do when he finds out he has been duped?

Domestic matters become irrelevant when the king sets out to punish his rebellious barons. The Welsh Marches explode into war, and soon Sir Roger and his men are fighting for their very lives. When hope splutters and dies, when death seems inevitable, it falls to Kit to save her man – if she can.

In the Shadow of the Storm is the first in Anna Belfrage’s new series, The King’s Greatest Enemy, the story of a man torn apart by his loyalties to his baron, his king, and his wife.

What are you waiting for?