Friday, December 30, 2016

Review: Hillsong: Let Hope Rise (DVD/Blu-ray/Digital)

This inspiring film chronicles the spectacular rise of the Christian band, Hillsong UNITED, to a worldwide recording and concert sensation. Capturing the on-stage energy and off-stage hearts of the Australia-based band Hillsong UNITED, HILLSONG–LET HOPE RISE is a new motion-picture genre—the theatrical worship experience.

The film explores Hillsong’s humble beginnings and astonishing rise to prominence as an international church whose songs are sung every Sunday by more than 50 million people worldwide. 






The runtime for the film is 103 mins.
There are 38 minutes of the following Special Features, included on both the DVD and Blu-ray: · Bonus Performances: “Scandal of Grace”, “Captain”, “Wake”, “The Stand” · Behind the Scenes Footage: LA Record and San Clemente Writing
Release date Dec 20th, 2016



Hillsong United - the biggest band you've never heard of.

I have listened to the music of Hillsong for years and years, I think even as far back as when they first started up.  I've known they were from Australia but that's about it.  This video is a wonderful look at their beginnings and how they have grown to become the international success so richly deserved.

This DVD highlights the history of the band, from the youth band of the '80's to the highly successful band Hillsong is now.  The process of writing new material and their drive and passion to 'connect the human heart with heaven' was inspiring.  There was also backstage footage showing how this band travels worldwide highlighting some of the interesting places they have been to.  Some might find the excess amount of concert pieces much but I loved it, especially the 'Mighty to Save' piece with it's different languages, locations and cultures.

Let Hope Rise also takes viewers behind the scenes with interviews from its members, showing their homes, family and lifestyle.  While many associate success with financial freedom this 11 member band lives modestly and gives freely to missions.

All in all a great dvd, with high energy you can feel the passion that this group has not just for each other but their calling.

"Movie has been provided courtesy of Pure Flix Entertainment and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc."

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Book Blast: Marlene: A Novel of Marlene Dietrich by C.W. Gortner

02_marlene_paperback-cover

Paperback Release Date: December 13, 2016

William Morrow, Harper Collins
ISBN: 9780062406071; 432 Pages
Genre: Historical Fiction/Contemporary Women/Biographical
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Marlene Dietrich’s femme fatale persona defined her, but behind the glitz of 1930s Hollywood was a remarkably modern woman, determined to live by her own terms.

A rebellious girl, Marlene’s genteel family expectations curtail her until Germany's defeat in the Great War gives rise to the decadence of Weimar Berlin. Here, Marlene finds her niche as a cabaret actress. With her sultry beauty, smoky voice, and androgynous tuxedo, she performs to packed houses and has a series of stormy love affairs that push the boundaries of social convention until she finds overnight success in the scandalous movie The Blue Angel.

As Hitler seizes power, Marlene sets sail for America to become one of Hollywood’s top leading ladies, starring opposite Gary Cooper, John Wayne, and Cary Grant. When Hitler tries to entice her back to Germany, Marlene defiantly declares her stance, risking her life to perform for Allied troops. And upon the war's savage end, she finally returns to Germany to discover a heartbreaking secret amidst the war’s devastation.

MARLENE is out in paperback on December 13 and features exclusive extra content. A perfect gift for lovers of old Hollywood and strong dames! To find out more, please visit: www.cwgortner.com/Marlene.html.

Synopsis

From the gender-bending cabarets of Weimar Berlin to the tyrannical movie studios of Los Angeles, this sweeping story of passion, glamour, art, and war is a lush, dramatic novel of one of the most alluring legends of Hollywood’s golden age: Marlene Dietrich.

Raised in genteel poverty after the First World War, Maria Magdalena Dietrich dreams of a life on the stage. When her budding career as a violinist is cut short, she vows to become an actress, trading her family’s proper, middle-class society for the free-spirited, louche world of Berlin’s cabarets and drag balls. With her sultry beauty, smoky voice, and androgynous tailored suits, Marlene performs to packed houses and conducts a series of stormy love affairs that push the boundaries of social convention until she finds overnight success in the scandalous movie The Blue Angel.

For Marlene, neither fame nor marriage and motherhood can cure her wanderlust. As Hitler rises to power, she sets sail for America to become a rival to MGM’s queen, Greta Garbo. As one of Hollywood’s top leading ladies, she stars with such legends as Gary Cooper, John Wayne, and Cary Grant. Desperate for her return, Hitler tries to lure her with dazzling promises. Defiant in her stance against the Nazis, Marlene chooses instead to become an American citizen, and after her new nation is forced into World War II, she tours with the USO, performing for Allied troops in Europe and Africa. But one day, she must return to Germany, where she will discover a heartbreaking secret amidst the war’s devastation that transformed her homeland and the family she loved.

An enthralling account of this extraordinary legend, MARLENE reveals the inner life of a woman of grit and ambition who defied convention, seduced the world, and forged her own path.

“Skillfully evokes the cross-dressing, sexually fluid atmosphere of the seedy nightclubs that helped Marlene define her unique appeal. Well-detailed and truly moving; an ambitious account of the German-American star. ” —Kirkus Reviews

“Full of the sizzle and decadence of Weimar Berlin, and the scandal and soirees of Hollywood’s golden era, this is a gloriously entertaining read. CW Gortner’s Marlene is utterly beguiling, the kind of woman who only comes along once in a century. Reader, you can’t take your eyes off her!” —Beatriz Williams, New York Times bestselling author

"From the ribald cabarets of Weimer-era Berlin to the glamour of golden-era Hollywood, beguilingly androgynous and fiercely passionate Marlene Dietrich . . . fairly leaps off every page." —Booklist, starred review

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | HarperCollins | iBooks | IndieBound


03_cw-gortner

C.W. GORTNER holds an MFA in Writing with an emphasis in Renaissance Studies from the New College of California, as well as an AA from the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising in San Francisco.

After an eleven year-long career in fashion, during which he worked as a vintage retail buyer, freelance publicist, and fashion show coordinator, C.W. devoted the next twelve years to the public health sector. In 2012, he became a full-time writer following the international success of his novels.

In his extensive travels to research his books, he has danced a galliard at Hampton Court, learned about organic gardening at Chenoceaux, and spent a chilly night in a ruined Spanish castle. His books have garnered widespread acclaim and been translated into twenty-one languages to date, with over 400,000 copies sold. A sought-after public speaker. C.W. has given keynote addresses at writer conferences in the US and abroad. He is also a dedicated advocate for animal rights, in particular companion animal rescue to reduce shelter overcrowding.

Half-Spanish by birth and raised in southern Spain, C.W. now lives in Northern California with his partner and two very spoiled rescue cats.

For more information visit C.W. Gortner’s website and blog.

You can also find him on Facebook, Twittter, Goodreads, Pinterest, and YouTube.

Sign up for C.W. Gortner’s Newsletter for updates.


Giveaway

To win a paperback copy of Marlene: A Novel of Marlene Dietrich by C.W. Gortner, please enter via the Gleam form below. Two copies are up for grabs! Rules – Giveaway ends at 11:59pm EST on December 20th. You must be 18 or older to enter. – Giveaway is open to US residents only. – 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.

  Marlene Paperback
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Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Review: Left Neglected by Lisa Genova

Sarah Nickerson is like any other career-driven supermom in Welmont, the affluent Boston suburb where she leads a hectic but charmed life with her husband Bob, faithful nanny, and three children—Lucy, Charlie, and nine-month-old Linus. Between recruiting the best and brightest minds as the vice president of human resources at Berkley Consulting; shuttling the kids to soccer, day care, and piano lessons; convincing her son’s teacher that he may not, in fact, have ADD; and making it home in time for dinner, it’s a wonder this over-scheduled, over-achieving Harvard graduate has time to breathe.

 A self-confessed balloon about to burst, Sarah miraculously manages every minute of her life like an air traffic controller. Until one fateful day, while driving to work and trying to make a phone call, she looks away from the road for one second too long. In the blink of an eye, all the rapidly moving parts of her jam-packed life come to a screeching halt.

A traumatic brain injury completely erases the left side of her world, and for once, Sarah relinquishes control to those around her, including her formerly absent mother. Without the ability to even floss her own teeth, she struggles to find answers about her past and her uncertain future.

Now, as she wills herself to regain her independence and heal, Sarah must learn that her real destiny—her new, true life—may in fact lie far from the world of conference calls and spreadsheets. And that a happiness and peace greater than all the success in the world is close within reach, if only she slows down long enough to notice.

ebook, 324 pages 
Published January 4th 2011 
by Gallery Books (first published 2011)
audiobook via OverDrive (library)
***

Lisa Genova's first book Still Alice was the first book I polished off pretty well in one night. Then came Inside the O'Brien's, which was another emotional story.   Reason only dictated that I would continue reading her books.  This was an audio read for me and given the first person narrative it worked great.

I don't think it was high expectations here that made me feel this one lacked the emotional impact I had come to expect. As you can read above there is a lot going on here, there are many layers to this story and I struggled to connect with the characters like in previous books.  The author used the first 20% introducing this family and letting the reader get a good glimpse of what life for the Nickerson family was like.  I found it rather dizzy and sad.  Sarah has so much going that I was exhausted for her.

This book is told from Sarah's point of view and while I found that interesting and did feel sympathy for her situation it was hard to like her.  Sarah's world revolved around Sarah.  I don't mean to sound harsh and make this sound like a terrible story.  I found the injury interesting and a condition that I have never heard of before, the treatment and living with Left Neglect would be difficult not just for the patient but family and friends as well. That being said it would really have been nice to hear Bob's side of this story, to know his thoughts and feelings.  The ending was predictable which isn't a bad thing, sometimes its unavoidable. 

There are things that resonates with me here, the first being put your phone away when driving, so many lives are destroyed because of them.  This story is a sad reminder that life can change just like that and we should living accordingly. 





Thursday, December 1, 2016

Review: Good Time Coming by C.S. Harris

I killed a man the summer I turned thirteen . . .

Thus begins C. S. Harris’s haunting, lyrically beautiful tale of coming of age in Civil War-torn Louisiana. Eleven-year-old Amrie St. Pierre is catching tadpoles with her friend Finn O’Reilly when the Federal fleet first steams up the Mississippi River in the spring of 1862. With the surrender of New Orleans, Amrie’s sleepy little village of St. Francisville – strategically located between the last river outposts of Vicksburg and Port Hudson – is now frighteningly vulnerable. As the roar of canons inches ever closer and food, shoes, and life-giving medicines become increasingly scarce, Amrie is forced to grow up fast. But it is her own fateful encounter with a tall, golden-haired Union captain named Gabriel that threatens to destroy everything and everyone she holds most dear.

Told with rare compassion and insight, this is a gripping, heart-wrenching story of loss and survival; of the bonds that form amongst women and children left alone to face the hardships,deprivations, and dangers of war; and of one unforgettable girl’s slow and painful recognition of the good and evil that exists within us all.


Hardcover, 320 pages 
Expected publication: December 1st 2016
 by Severn House Publishers
*****
Good Time Coming is a powerful story of survival, a coming-of-age story that has made me see the Civil War from a different prospective. Where one usually reads from the point of view of either the North or South this book stays away from the political aspects and rather the reader gets a truly authentic look at those left at home. 

Amrie is only 12 years old when this story begins. With wonderful dialogue, vivid descriptions and a touch of humor it wasn't hard getting to know her and to become completely enraptured with her character. She is curious, adventurous and constantly on the move, this war forces her to growup and leave her childhood behind.
"The idea that someone could take all this from me - my sense of identity, my connection to ancestors I'd never known, the image of my dead brother - made me feel anxious and vulnerable in a way I'd never before realized I was.  It also made me quietly, powerfully, and enduringly furious....But such wishings came from the imagination of a child, and my childhood was rapidly slipping away from me."
Amrie is telling the story here and she does it flawlessly. There are many layers to Good Time Coming and she is able to convey how this conflict affects not just her family but the lives of those around her giving the reader a truly realistic and heartbreaking view of this war.

What stands out for me in this book is the authors writing, she was able to connect me with all the characters and situations, to feel empathy for the struggles and what they were forced to endure while the men were of fighting this war. At times some of it was hard to take in it but this was a realistic look at the American Civil War. The descriptions made it easy not just to visualize but feel what was taking place.
"I suppose the point is, life is capricious.  We can never know the outcome of our actions or decisions, and the idea that we can control our lives is more often than not an illusion.  All we can do is what we think is right, and acknowledge that sometimes things will turn out horribly wrong anyway."
While this book had a fitting conclusion I can't help but miss Amrie and would love to see what happens next in her life, one can always hope for a sequel. This is my first time reading anything by CS Harris and she has a new fan, her Sebastian St. Cyr series is already patiently waiting in my tbr pile.

As a big fan of audio books I feel, with the right reader, that this would work perfectly in that format. Thank you to the Severn House Publishers for an advanced copy via Netgalley.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Interview: J. Marshall Freeman

Yesterday I reviewed Teetering by J. Marshall Freeman and today I am happy to have the author stop by Just One More Chapter for a chat.





What was the first book you read that really shook you / Is there a specific book you read that made you want to write?

Going all the way back to childhood, I think of the books my father read to me, especially the Alice books by Lewis Carroll and Kenneth Grahame's Wind in Willows. But the first book that made an impression and felt like it was MINE was Madeleine L'Engle's A Wrinkle in Time.

At an age when a lot of boys were gobbling up Lord of the Rings, I found myself unmoved by swords and battles, but I loved L'Engle's tale of a corrosive enemy whose goal is to make you give up on yourself and conform. There's a lot in that book which strikes me as close to my own work. There is the combination of fantasy and science fiction tropes, the social commentary (some of which went over my head until later readings), and the vulnerability of the protagonists. Like Barnabas in Teetering (and Crispin in the book I'm writing now), Meg is not a likely hero, nor one who would ever describe herself in those terms. It is ultimately her ability to stay true to her core that makes her heroic.

How long have you been writing? 

As a child and teen, I wrote short pieces from time to time, as well as making short comics, but it was at University of Toronto that I first wrote prose with any kind of seriousness, as well as poetry and plays. However, I switched my focus to music after university and didn't write fiction again until my mid-40s. So, that makes 10 years now of serious writing.

What advice would you give younger-writing-you? I would give him advice about life in general: believe that your voice is important and worth expressing. Find allies who you believe in and who believe in you. Don't worry about the critics (external or internal) who say you should be other than you are. The honest writing will flow from this belief in yourself. Also, avoid excessive use of adverbs.

Let’s talk about Teetering, without giving too much away, of course. Teetering has a strong theme of young people challenging the structures of society in a positive way. Was this something you had always intended or did it just come out as you wrote the story? 

Sort of both. I often start a story from a central metaphor. In the case of Teetering, it was the idea that of a city sitting precariously at the edge of a crumbling cliff. From there, I realized that this is a secret being kept from the citizens, one that the protagonist, Barnabas, discovers. Once I had the idea of the authorities misleading the public, I understood that the novel was about the dangers of official secrets and ruling by duplicity. The specifics of the kids' rebellion grew from there. Being true to your metaphor is, for me, the key to writing coherent, resonant stories.

Who is your favourite character in Teetering? Ha. I love them all (says the diplomatic parent). There is some truth to this — I can't write a character without loving them — even the villains. Barnabas is so close to me that it's hard to hold him at arm's length and parse my love for him, but it's obviously there. However, the answer to your question is probably Wickram. He was the character I didn't plan (except as generic buddy and foil for the protagonist) and then grew to love… very quickly. Writing him was always easy and fun. I'm drawn to characters who wear their emotions on their sleeves and sometimes act like jerks, despite their basic kindly natures. He is also like many musicians I know, with a way of seeing the world that is wonderfully off-centre and mystifying.

What works would you say have influenced your writing of Teetering?

I read widely in both "literary" and "genre" fiction, and find the distinction between them to be arbitrary and unhelpful. Or maybe I just avoid works that are tritely genre-based or pretentiously literary and prefer the playful place in the middle. I'm drawn to writers who are whimsically comic and simultaneously tragic. Peter Carey and Salma Rushdie come to mind. I love Ursula K. Leguin, Anne Tyler, Robert Stone, Paul Auster, David Leavitt, Neil Gaiman. I also love to find literary inspiration in other arts. I'm just as likely to be inspired to write after seeing paintings, going to a concert, watching a movie, or reading a comic book. Behind the scenes stories of the creation of art fascinate and inspire me.

What other projects are you working on right now?

I am more than halfway through my next novel, whose name at the moment is Blood of the Dragon Groom. It's the first of a YA trilogy called "The Elemental Realms." Like Teetering, it is about a fantastic world adjacent to our real world. As a gay man, writing a vibrant queer teen protagonist has been a uniquely emotional experience. Crispin has a great voice I am privileged to transcribe. Teetering was self-published by your own publishing company, Rabbitfish Editions.

Were you always planning to self-publish this novel? Having gone through it all, would you have made the same choices again?

In retrospect, self-publishing seems inevitable. I made some attempts to place the book with publishers, but given the state of publishing these days, and a recognition that I am a control freak, self-publishing was an adventure worth pursuing. (Also, after a handful of rejections, I ran out of patience.) The idea of self-publishing was too scary to contemplate before the book was finished. However, once I was done and believed I had a good novel, I accepted the responsibility of getting it in front of readers. At that moment, "Publisher Jonathan" was born. He's still learning to walk.

Any plans for a sequel? 

Yup. The second (and possibly final) book in the series (which has now been named "The Real Education of Barnabas Bopwright") is pretty clear in my head. I will write it after I finish Blood of the Dragon Groom. Look for it in two years.

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



J. Marshall Freeman is a writer, editor, musician, and cartoonist. He is a graduate of the University of Toronto, and a member of the Toronto Writers’ Co-operative. His novel, Teetering, will be released on October 27, 2016. His previous novel, Days of Becoming, was in the realm of fanfiction, written under the name Talktooloose. Upcoming work includes the young adult novel, Copper in the Blood, the novel, The Release Party, and the children’s books, Rhubarb’s Double Life and Holly, Solly, and Blue.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Review: Teetering by J. Marshall Freeman

You think you know the world you live in… but you’re wrong!

The life of 15 year-old city kid, Barnabas Bopwright, is turned upside down when he discovers a transit map with a subway line he’s never seen before. The map leads Barnabas deeper and deeper into dangerous secrets that have been closely guarded for over a century.

When he uncovers a terror plot against the city he loves, he is shocked to discover that none of the adults in authority will lift a finger to stop it. Barnabas and his friends realize that if the city is to be saved, if the secrets are to be revealed at last, they must do it themselves.

Paperback/ebook - 434 pages
Published Oct 27, 1016
****

With character names like Barnabas Bopwright and Maestro Tragidenko, you won’t be surprised at the heavy circus motifs through this thoroughly enjoyable book. It’s a bit on the long side but, odds are you won’t notice that unless you get the hardcopy. The story flows along easily and I was swept up in the fast-paced plot and colourful characters. It’s action-packed, with heists and terror plots and dark tunnels and a wild circus.

Underneath the circus, Teetering is a meaty story about a boy named Barnabas who discovers that his City, a City he thinks he knows well and loves, is built and based on illusions and lies. One of the most engaging themes of the book is Barnabas learning the real workings that prop up the City, and having to deal with the consequences of that knowledge.

Teetering is a difficult book to place on the genre spectrum—and that’s not a bad thing! There are sci-fi and fantasy elements, but most of Teetering’s world seems very much our own. The fantastic element is blended in seamlessly, and when things that are not in the ‘real world’ show up in Teetering, it works very well.

All in all, it’s an exciting read that doesn’t make the 400+ pages seem long. The characters are bright, likeable, and flawed. The plot is engaging and the stakes are high. I recommend it for anyone who enjoys YA set in a deeply created world. It’s the kind of book that stands on its own, but you really hope there’ll be a sequel.

Click here read an excerpt on the author's page.  Also stay tuned for tomorrows post when the author stops by for a visit.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Review: The German Girl by Armando Lucas Correa

A stunningly ambitious and beautiful debut novel, perfect for fans of Sarah’s Key and All the Light We Cannot See, the story of a twelve-year-old girl’s harrowing experience fleeing Nazi-occupied Germany with her family and best friend, only to discover that the overseas asylum they had been promised is an illusion.

In 1939 before everything changed, Hannah Rosenthal lived a charmed life. Her family moved in Berlin’s highest social circles, admired by friends and neighbors. Eleven-year-old Hannah was often taken by her mother for an afternoon treat at the tea room of the beautiful Adlon Hotel, both dressed in their finest clothes. She spent her afternoons at the park with her best friend Leo Martin. But, in an instant, that sunlit world vanished. Now the streets of Berlin are draped with red, white, and black flags; their fine possessions are hauled away, and they are no longer welcome in the places that once felt like home. The two friends make a pact: come what may, they promise to have a future together.

As Hannah and Leo’s families desperately begin to search for a means of escape, a glimmer of hope appears when they discover the Saint Louis, a transatlantic liner that can give Jews safe passage to Cuba. After a frantic search to obtain visas, the Rosenthals and the Martins depart from Hamburg on the luxurious passenger liner bound for Havana. Life aboard the ship is a welcome respite from the gloom of Berlin—filled with masquerade balls, dancing, and exquisite meals every night.

As the passengers gain renewed hope for a bright future ahead, love between Hannah and Leo blossoms. But soon reports from the outside world began to filter in, and dark news overshadows the celebratory atmosphere on the ship; the governments of Cuba, the United States, and Canada are denying the passengers of the St. Louis admittance to their countries, forcing them to return to Europe as it descends into the Second World War. The ship that had seemed their salvation seems likely to become their death sentence.

After four days anchored at bay, only a handful of passengers are allowed to disembark onto Cuban soil, and Hannah and Leo must face the grim reality that they could be torn apart. Their future is unknown, and their only choice will have an impact in generations to come.

Decades later in New York City on her eleventh birthday, Anna Rosen receives a mysterious envelope from Hannah, a great-aunt she has never met but who raised her deceased father. In an attempt to piece together her father’s mysterious past, Anna and her mother travel to Havana to meet Hannah, who is turning eighty-seven years old. Hannah reveals old family ties, recounts her journey aboard the Saint Louis and, for the first time, reveals what happened to her father and Leo. Bringing together the pain of the past with the mysteries of the present, Hannah gives young Anna a sense of their shared histories, forever intertwining their lives, honoring those they loved and cruelly lost.

ebook, 368 pages
Published October 18th 2016
by Atria Books

I think the cover for this book is striking which is what drew my attention to The German Girl. Books on World War 1 and 2 are quite popular these days and I will admit being on the lookout for something unique and out of the ordinary.  Though I have heard about this ship and its situation I did not know any details, suffice to say between the cover and the subject I looked forward to digging into this one.

Anna is only 12 years old living in Manhattan 2014 when this book begins. I will admit to being a little skeptical about her age and whether there was the depth required to make her story work. Hannah on the other hand has room to grow and the reader should be able to get to know her and the conflict.

For the first part of the book I was drawn right in, with a brief introduction to present day Anna the majority of this book tells Hannah's story, whom with family and friends escape Germany at the brink of World War II. The German Girl had more of a young adult feel to it, though even a younger rating would be fine as I think girls the same age as Hannah/Anna might enjoy this also. I am a reader of all age groups so I didn't mind that aspect.  What I struggled with here was the similarity between Anna and Hannah, it was hard to feel any connection.  There were times I wondered if Anna's story was even necessary, Hannah's story would have been fine on its own.  The plot moved at a slow pace and at times I struggled to stay focused.

There are lots of 4/5 star ratings for this book and while my feelings differ I think there was great potential.  The story of the St. Louis is very interesting and one that I think should be more commonly known.

I rated this book 2 1/2 stars but rounding up to 3.  Thanks to Netgalley for an advanced copy.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Audio Review: Wildflower Hill by Kimberley Freeman

Wildflower Hill is s compelling and romantic novel spanning three generations and half the world, from modern day London to Australia in the 1930s.

Emma is a prima ballerina in London and at a crossroads after an injured knee ruins her career. When she learns of her grandmother Beattie’s death, and her own strange inheritance—an isolated sheep station in rural Australia—Emma is certain she has been saddled with an irritating burden. But when she returns to Australia, forced to rest her body and confront her life, she realizes that she had been using fame as a substitute for love and fulfillment.

Beattie also found herself at a crossroads as a young woman, but she was pregnant and unwed. She eventually found success—but only after following an unconventional path that was often dangerous and heartbreaking. Beattie knew the lessons she learned in life would be important to Emma one day, and she wanted to make sure Emma’s heart remained open to love, no matter what life brought. She knew the magic of the Australian wilderness would show Emma the way.

Kindle Edition, 546 pages
Published November 22nd 2012 by Quercus (first published 2010)
Audible - 16 hours 28 minutes
*****
I have discovered lately that there is a gold mind of Australian authors and have been on a quest the past few few years to find them. Thankfully with Kimberly Freeman her books are easily available worldwide.

Wildflower Hill was an audiobook for me and with dual narratives sometimes that is hard to pull off. The difficulty comes during the transition of time periods and whether the audio can handle the changes in a smooth manner not disrupting the narrative and flow of the story.  In this case there was no issues, with each chapter title paving the way.  As usual for me I am always drawn to the past story but the present day one was just as captivating.

Beattie Blaxland is introduced to us when she was only 19 years old, a young lady with a bright future ahead of her, but that future is dashed when she falls for a married man. Ending up clear across the globe she is forced to rebuild her future, which now includes a daughter. I loved her character I love the way she was portrayed, hard-working, smart and brave enough to take a stand as needed. There are many obstacles she is forced to deal with and it was a great process to watch.

In our present day story we have Emma who is Beattie's granddaughter returning to Australia from England after an injury sidelines her ballerina career. As she begins clearing out her grandmothers personal effects Emma not only discovers who her grandmother really was and the significance of Wildflower Hill but she also learned a lot more about herself and what really matters.

Kimberly Freeman is a wonderful author and I am so glad to have finally read one of her books, which, of course, has resulted in the rest being pushed to the top of my TBR our file. Her writing prose is such that I was drawn into the story right away and had me to caring about the characters and their plight. I was able to visualize so much of the Tasmania countryside and feel the emotional side of this wonderful story.

Definitely an author I highly recommend, especially fans of Kate Morton and Susanna Kearsley.


Friday, November 11, 2016

Spotlight: The Popish Midwife by Annelisa Christensen

02_The Popish Midwife

In seventeenth-century London, thirteen years after the plague and twelve years after the Great Fire, the restoration of King Charles II has dulled the memory of Cromwell's puritan rule, yet fear and suspicion are rife. Religious turmoil is rarely far from tipping the scales into hysteria.

Elizabeth Cellier, a bold and outspoken midwife, regularly visits Newgate Prison to distribute alms to victims of religious persecution. There she falls in with the charming Captain Willoughby, a debtor, whom she enlists to gather information about crimes against prisoners, so she might involve herself in petitioning the king in their name.

‘Tis a plot, Madam, of the direst sort.’ With these whispered words Willoughby draws Elizabeth unwittingly into the infamous Popish Plot and soon not even the fearful warnings of her husband, Pierre, can loosen her bond with it.
This is the incredible true story of one woman ahead of her time and her fight against prejudice and injustice.

Publication Date: July 14, 2016 
The Conrad Press Paperback & eBook; 454 Pages 
 Genre: Historical Fiction
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03_Annelisa ChristensenAnnelisa Christensen was born in Sussex, took a psychology degree at the University of Stirling in Scotland, then returned to the south to partner in a fashion design company with her childhood friend, Julia. They had fun selling to shops and in street markets all over London, but dissolved the business when children came along, both believing in putting their families first. Delighted to be offered the job of laboratory technician in the local secondary school, in which she had herself been Head Girl twenty years earlier, Annelisa simultaneously wrote a magical realism series (as yet unpublished). She wrote The Popish Midwife after falling in love with Elizabeth Cellier in some 300-year-old loose pages of a trial she bought on the internet. The more she discovered about Elizabeth Cellier, the more Annelisa wanted to share this amazing woman’s story.

The Popish Midwife is the result of years of research and writing.

For more information, please visit Annelisa Christensen's website.

You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads. Sign up for her Newsletter.

Blog Tour Schedule

Wednesday, October 19
Spotlight at The Book Connection
Spotlight at Blogarama
Friday, October 22
Spotlight at What Is That Book About
Monday, October 24
Review at History From a Woman’s Perspective
Tuesday, October 25
Spotlight at Broken Teepee
Friday, October 26
Spotlight at A Literary Vacation
Thursday, October 27
Guest Post at Books, Dreams, Life
Friday, October 28
Spotlight at Passages to the Past
Tuesday, November 1
Review at Book Nerd
Wednesday, November 2
Spotlight at CelticLady’s Reviews
Thursday, November 4
Guest Post at Let Them Read Books
Monday, November 7
Review at SJ2B House of Books
Wednesday, November 9
Interview at The Book Connection
Guest Post and Review at Historical Fiction Obsession
Friday, November 11
Spotlight at Just One More Chapter

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Friday, November 4, 2016

Review: The Rivals of Versailles (The Mistresses of Versailles Trilogy #2) by Sally Christie

02_The Rivals of Versaille

 And you thought sisters were a thing to fear!

 In this compelling follow-up to Sally Christie’s clever and absorbing debut, we meet none other than the Marquise de Pompadour, one of the greatest beauties of her generation and the first bourgeois mistress ever to grace the hallowed halls of Versailles.

 The year is 1745 and Louis XV’s bed is once again empty. Enter Jeanne-Antoinette Poisson, a beautiful girl from the middle classes. As a child, a fortune teller had mapped out Jeanne’s destiny: she would become the lover of a king and the most powerful woman in the land. Eventually connections, luck, and a little scheming pave her way to Versailles and into the King’s arms. All too soon, conniving politicians and hopeful beauties seek to replace the bourgeoise interloper with a more suitable mistress.

As Jeanne, now the Marquise de Pompadour, takes on her many rivals—including a lustful lady-in-waiting, a precocious 14-year-old prostitute, and even a cousin of the notorious Nesle sisters—she helps the king give himself over to a life of luxury and depravity.

Around them, war rages, discontent grows, and France inches ever closer to the Revolution. Enigmatic beauty, social climber, actress, trendsetter, patron of the arts, spendthrift, whoremonger, friend, lover, foe: history books say many things about the famous Marquise de Pompadour.

Alongside Catherine the Great of Russia and Maria Theresa of Austria, she is considered one of the three most powerful women of the 18th century, and one of the most influential royal mistresses of all time.

In The Rivals of Versailles, Christie gets to the heart of Pompadour’s legendary relationship with Louis XV, France’s most “well-beloved” king. Pompadour was not only his mistress, but his confidante and influential political adviser for close to twenty years.

 Full of historical insight, decadence, wit and scandal, The Rivals of Versailles is about one woman’s trials and triumphs, her love for a king, and her role in shaping a nation.

Publication Date: April 5, 2016 
Atria Books eBook &
 Paperback; 448 Pages 
Genre: Historical Fiction
****
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"If they write a book of my life, long after I am dead, will it be just a litany of one rival after another, until I am finally defeated?"

The Rivals of Versailles is book 2 in The Mistresses of Versailles Trilogy. You can read my review for the previous book The Sisters of Versaillies, by clicking on the title. While book 2 works as a standalone novel I recommend going back and starting at the beginning just for the simple fact that it is a good book and this one picks up right where it left off.

Where book one main focus was on the Nesle sisters book 2 is told mostly from the point of view of the Marquee de Pompadour, Jeanne/Reinette. There are a couple other narratives throughout this book but it was hers that I found the most interesting and intriguing. As a young girl she is told by a fortune teller that she would earn the love of the king, which is what she focused her life on.

My knowledge of the French court, especially this time period is very limited making these books all the more interesting. King Louis XV had many mistresses in his life and the author does a wonderful job of describing court life and you can feel the injustices taking place.  He isn't portrayed in the best of light which I think was the author's intent. You can feel the tension as the Revolution inches closer.

This is a series that I would recommend to anyone interested in the French court. Enemies of Versailles is the next book in this series which has a March 2017 released date. Fans of French history will enjoy this one.

"Love is a pleasure for season, or friendship last an entire life."

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | IndieBound | Kobo

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Review: The Marriage Lie by Kimberly Belle

"Perfectly paced, highly suspenseful, and heart-rending...enthralling right up to the shocking final twist." 
-A. J. Banner, Amazon #1 bestselling author of The Good Neighbor

Everyone has secrets...

Iris and Will have been married for seven years, and life is as close to perfect as it can be. But on the morning Will flies out for a business trip to Florida, Iris's happy world comes to an abrupt halt: another plane headed for Seattle has crashed into a field, killing everyone on board and, according to the airline, Will was one of the passengers.

Grief stricken and confused, Iris is convinced it all must be a huge misunderstanding. Why did Will lie about where he was going? And what else has he lied about?

As Iris sets off on a desperate quest to uncover what her husband was keeping from her, the answers she finds shock her to her very core.

Kindle Edition, 352 pages 
Expected publication: January 1st 2017 by MIRA
arc given to me via netgalley
****1/2


This is Kimberly Belle's third book and I can say I have read everything she has written. Beginning with The Last Breath and The Ones We Trust I have become a faithful fan. She knows how to grab this reader right from the beginning and doesn't let go until the very end.

The Marriage Lie is a book of suspense, mystery and heartache, with the sudden death of her husband Iris is faced with not just the act of grieving but understanding why and how this could even be happening. Surely it must be some horrible mistake and her quest to discover the truth is filled with confusion and danger.

While there were times I had questions it was like the author knew and every concern I had was addressed. When I thought I figured out how this story was playing out there would be more twists and turns to throw me off the track. I love a good mystery that keeps me guessing right to the end and I was not disappointed to here.

The Marriage Lie was a roller coaster ride of emotions, the ending was perfect, right down to the very last sentence.  Definitely a book and author I highly recommend. 

Thank you to netgalley for granting my request for an arc.

I couldn't decided which cover to include, both are great, so I put both up.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Cover Reveal: THE COMPETITION: Da Vinci’s Disciples Book Two by Donna Russo Morin

Ready (willing and eager) to see the cover of the much-anticipated second book in the Da Vinci’s Disciples trilogy? 

Well, we hope so, because here it is (be sure to read to the end of the post for an extra special bonus!).  
02_the-competition

Here’s what the author has to say about the next book in this thrilling trilogy and its cover: 

 “I knew I wanted the second book in this trilogy to be a little more personal, get into the lives of these courageous women, and da Vinci himself, a bit more deeply. Oh, they are still daring to go where women had never gone before in the Renaissance, and they put everything on the line for the love of their art—their marriages, their family relationships, even their lives—to do it, to bring their work out into the open, no matter the consequence. Another form of art is explored through their eyes, through their hands. But in THE COMPETITION, I’ve pulled back more of the layers of their lives and the secrets they may hold. Love bursts to fulfillment, desire is ignited, disastrous illnesses change lives, and familial condemnations are shattered. All set amidst the glory that is Florence during the Renaissance. These women are bold; there can be no doubt. But they are elegant women and this cover, like the first, captures that elegance to perfection. It is the seamless companion to the first, and they look dazzling together.” 

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

A commission to paint a fresco in the church of Santo Spirito is about to be announced and Florence’s countless artists each seek the fame and glory this lucrative contract will provide. Viviana, a noblewoman freed from a terrible marriage, and now able to pursue her artistic passions, sees a potential life-altering opportunity for herself and her fellow artists. The women first speak to Lorenzo de’ Medici himself, and finally, they submit a bid for the right to paint it. And they win. The very public commission belongs to them. But with the victory comes a powerful cost. The church will not stand for women painting, especially not in a house of worship. The city is not ready to consider women in positions of power, and in Florence, artists wield tremendous power. Even the women themselves are hesitant; the attention they will bring up) on themselves will disrupt their families, and even put them in physical danger. All the while, Viviana grows closer to Sansone, her soldier lover, who is bringing to her a joy that she never knew with her deceased husband. And fellow-artist Isabetta has a flame reignited, sparked by Lorenzo himself. 

  Power and passion collide in this sumptuous historical novel of shattering limitations, one brushstroke at a time.

THE COMPETITION: Da Vinci’s Disciples Book Two goes on sale April 25, 2017. 
Pre-order a copy here. Add it to your Goodreads shelf


Do you love it?! Haven’t read the first book yet? Now’s your chance at a special reduced price. For the next SEVEN days (beginning November 2 until November 9!), the Kindle version of PORTRAIT OF A CONSPIRACY IS ONLY $.99…that’s a $7 savings! Get your copy now!


 “Russo Morin’s elegant command of language and composition left me breathless, but the story itself, with its flawless depiction of power, corruption, defiance, intrigue, and retribution makes Portrait of a Conspiracy an absolute must read.” Flashlight Commentary

 “...a page-turner unlike any historical novel, weaving passion, adventure, artistic rebirth, and consequences of ambition...a masterful writer at the peak of her craft.”—C. W. Gortner, author of THE CONFESSIONS OF CATHERINE DE’ MEDICI

“This riveting book is filled with art, assassinations, retribution, and a sisterhood of fascinating women who inspire as well as entertain.”—Stephanie Dray, NYT Bestselling author of AMERICA’S FIRST DAUGHTER

“In PORTRAIT OF A CONSPIRACY, Russo Morin's prose is as sharp as a Medici dagger...Thwarting danger, finding love, and creating masterpieces, [these women] remind us just how powerful the bonds of womanhood can be.”—Marci Jefferson, author of THE ENCHANTRESS OF PARIS

“A 15th-century Florence of exquisite art, sensual passion and sudden, remorseless violence comes vividly to life in Donna Russo Morin's new novel.”—Nancy Bilyeau, author of THE CROWN

“In PORTRAIT OF A CONSPIRACY, Russo Morin's rich detailing transports the reader to the heart of Renaissance Italy from the first page.”—Heather Webb, author of BECOMING JOSEPHINE 

“Illicit plots, mysterious paintings, and a young Leonardo da Vinci all have their part to play in this delicious, heart-pounding tale.”—Kate Quinn, author of THE EMPRESS OF ROME SAGA


03_donna-russo-morinDonna Russo Morin is the award winning of author of historical fiction. A graduate of the University of Rhode Island, she lives near the shore with her two sons, Devon and Dylan, her greatest works in progress. Donna enjoys meeting with book groups in person and via Skype chat.

Visit her website at www.donnarussomorin.com; friend her on Facebook and follow her on Twitter @DonnaRussoMorin.


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Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Review: The Velvet Hours by Alyson Richman

As Paris teeters on the edge of the German occupation, a young French woman closes the door to her late grandmother’s treasure-filled apartment, unsure if she’ll ever return. 

 An elusive courtesan, Marthe de Florian cultivated a life of art and beauty, casting out all recollections of her impoverished childhood in the dark alleys of Montmartre. With Europe on the brink of war, she shares her story with her granddaughter Solange Beaugiron, using her prized possessions to reveal her innermost secrets. Most striking of all are a beautiful string of pearls and a magnificent portrait of Marthe painted by the Italian artist Giovanni Boldini. As Marthe’s tale unfolds, like velvet itself, stitched with its own shadow and light, it helps to guide Solange on her own path. 

 Inspired by the true account of an abandoned Parisian apartment, Alyson Richman brings to life Solange, the young woman forced to leave her fabled grandmother’s legacy behind to save all that she loved.


   Paperback, 384 pages 
Published September 6th 2016 by Berkley
Audio via Audible (personal library)
11 hours 27 minutes
****
Book people are here for a short time but books are eternal. 

The Velvet Hours was an audio book for me and while I usually find dual times tricky to do in audio format this one worked. Two distinct voices were used for each of the main character which enhanced the experience. Kate Reading and Tavia Gilbert were the readers, both are favorites of mine and they did a great job bringing this story to life.

The discovery of the abandoned apartment in Paris has led to many novels being written about Madame de Florian. While we may never know exactly what happened it is fun to speculate and the author does a great job in that area here. Marthe de Florian is a young woman during the late 1800's and it is her apartment that is abandoned during the onset of World War II. Solange is her granddaughter and the second voice to this story.  This is a new revelation to Solange and she doesn't waste time getting to know her grandmother. There is more to the story then their new relationship and as Solange struggles with uncertainty during the birth pains of WWII in Paris she is forced to make decisions that ultimately lead to this abandoned apartment.

While this story goes back-and-forth in time the author does a great job with the historical details of both time periods. The Velvet Hours is a well executed and entertaining story of love, secrecy and intrigue.

This is my first time reading anything by Alyson Richman and her writing prose is elegant and captivating. Definitely an author that I will recommend and read more of.

My copy was purchased via Audible as part of my personal library

Monday, October 31, 2016

Spotlight & Giveaway: Roma Amor: A Novel of Caligula's Rome by Sherry Christie

02_Roma Amor

 Marcus Carinna hears a voice whisper, "Your turn," as he rides past his family tomb. An unseen presence also startles the Germanic priestess Aurima, whom he is bringing to Rome. But hardheaded Romans scoff at ghosts, and Marcus can't believe it's a warning from his brother, who killed himself three years earlier.

 37 AD: To great acclaim, 25-year-old Caligula Caesar has become Rome's new master. No one is more pleased than Senator Titus Carinna, who helped him succeed to the throne. It's a shame the Senator's older son--Caligula's closest friend--committed suicide after being charged with treason. But that still leaves Marcus, his second son.

 Headstrong and hot-tempered, Marcus would rather prove his courage by leading legions against Rome's enemies than take his brother's place. Yet when his father orders him to befriend Caligula, he has no choice.

 Caught in a web of deceit, conspiracy, and betrayal, he will uncover a secret that threatens his family, the woman he desires, even his life... and may bring chaos to the young Roman Empire.

"The first installment in a page-turning saga that revisits the heroes and villains of the grandest city of the ancient world.... Comes alive with the long gone characters who were its lifeblood" -Kirkus Reviews

''Combines current political concerns, the wide lens of the serious historical novel, and emotional maturity and realism with an utterly splendid grasp of what it must have been like to live in Rome under Caligula's reign.'' -Sarah Smith, Agatha Award winner and New York Times Notable author

Publication Date: April 15, 2016
 Bexley House Books 
Paperback; 496 Pages
 Genre: Historical Fiction
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Amazon | Barnes & Noble | IndieBound

03_Sherry Christie

After earning a Phi Beta Kappa creative award in college for an early draft about a nobly born charioteer, Sherry Christie spent many years of research and revision developing ROMA AMOR into the story about fathers and sons that it wanted to be. It's a joy to immerse myself in the lives of first-century Romans--and a distinct change from my day job.

 In addition to writing, Sherry is a professional copywriter.

She lives on the coast of Maine with a native-born Viking and two cats.
For more information, please visit Sherry Christie's website.

You can also connect with her on Twitter, and Goodreads.


Giveaway

To win a paperback copy of Roma Amor: A Novel of Caligula's Rome by Sherry Christie, please enter via the Gleam form below. 2 copies are up for grabs!

  Rules
– Giveaway ends at 11:59pm EST on November 11th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
– Giveaway is open to US residents only.
– 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.

  Roma Amor

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Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Review: Duty to the Crown (Daughters of New France #2) by Aimie K. Runyan

Set amid the promise and challenge of the first Canadian colonies, Aimie K. Runyan’s vividly rendered novel provides a fascinating portrait of the women who would become the founding mothers of New France.

In 1667, an invisible wall separates settlers in New France from their Huron neighbors. Yet whether in the fledgling city of Quebec or within one of the native tribes, every woman’s fate depends on the man she chooses—or is obligated—to marry.

 Although Claudine Deschamps and Gabrielle Giroux both live within the settlement, their prospects are very different. French-born Claudine has followed her older sister across the Atlantic hoping to attract a wealthy husband through her beauty and connections. Gabrielle, orphan daughter of the town drunkard, is forced into a loveless union by a cruel law that requires her to marry by her sixteenth birthday. And Manon Lefebvre, born in the Huron village and later adopted by settlers, has faced the prejudices of both societies and is convinced she can no longer be accepted in either. Drawn into unexpected friendship through their loves, losses, and dreams of home and family, all three women will have to call on their bravery and resilience to succeed in this new world…

 Praise for Promised to the Crown “A heart-wrenching and timeless tale of friendship, love and hope that skillfully blends history and romance to educate, entertain and inspire.” --Pam Jenoff, author of The Last Summer at Chelsea Beach

Book, 352 pages
Expected publication: October 25th 2016 by Kensington
print copy given to me by author
****
  
 "People are capable of far more than they give themselves credit for. Once you start on the impossible journey you'll be amazed at how far you travel."

 I think I am starting this review the same way I started the previous book,  Promised to the Crown, by stating my love of Canadian historical fiction. It's a location as well as a time period not easily found. I was super excited when book one was first released in May and that I didn't have to wait long for book 2 (hopefully there will be a book 3).

Where book one introduces us to Rose, Nicole and Elizabeth, their journey and introduction to New France, Duty to the Crown continues in 1667 focusing on Claudine Deschamps, Gabrielle Giroux and Manon. Though this book does work as a standalone I highly recommend starting with book one, the journey that was originally made as well as the connections will further enhance the enjoyment of this one.

The author's writing style made it very easy to get lost in this story. While these three young women come from totally different life styles and social classes they form a special bond through the trials that women faced during this time period.  They lives aren't their own, with little rights and the ability to decide their own future. This special friendship was conveyed in a believable and unique manner making this reader connect not just with those 3 women but others in this book as well.

Duty to the Crown is a wonderful story of friendship, heartache and family - whether blood related or not. With its many layers and different story lines it was easy to visualize the setting and feel the emotional part of this book.  A compelling story steeped with rich details brought the time period to life.  While the conclusion was fitting my connection had me wanting to read more and can only hope that the Daughters of New France series continues in book #3.

Definitely a series I highly recommend.


Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Spotlight & Giveaway: Come Next Spring by Alana White

    It’s 1949 in Tennessee Smoky Mountain country, and everything in pre-teen Salina’s life seems suddenly different. Her sister is engaged, her brother is absorbed in caring for his sickly foal, and salina feels she has nothing in common anymore with her best friend. This novel for young people captures the insular spirit of the mountain people, the breathtaking country itself, and a girl’s struggle to accept the inevitability of change.

"An evocative first novel....the message is rounded out with lively characters, period details, and the sustained use of Salina's childlike point of view." - Kirkus
“. . . .A story as intricately patterned and multicolored as a practical, quilted coat—one that will warm readers, too.” -ALA Booklist Starred Review

“This finely crafted first novel engagingly depicts early adolescent feelings. All the events in the story occur between the first day of school and Christmas, in a year when Salina Harris moves beyond her concerns for popularity to an unfolding friendship with Scooter Russell, an unwelcome new-comer. . . .It is well paced, building to a dramatic climax; it creates a strong sense of time and place; and the novel includes a likable cast of characters and even a romance.” -Horn Book Magazine

“Salina is a wonderfully drawn character (who), with the help of loving parents and a teacher who challenges her to see a larger picture, realizes that change is inevitable, and that she will be able to accept it.” -School Library Journal

Publication Date: August 23, 2016 
Open Road Media eBook & Paperback; 178 Pages 
ISBN: 978-1-504034234 
 Genre: Historical Fiction/Young Adult
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Amazon (Kindle) | Amazon (Paperback)

03_Alana White

Alana White is the author of fiction and nonfiction for adults and young readers. Her most recent publications are the adult historical mystery novel, The Sign of the Weeping Virgin, set at the height of the Italian Renaissance in Florence, Italy, and Come Next Spring, a coming of age novel set in the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee in the 1940s.

She is also the author of a biography of Sacagawea, Sacagawea: Westward With Lewis and Clark.

She is a longtime member of the Historical Novel Society and the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators.

She lives in Nashville, TN. Alana welcomes readers and is always available for reader group chats.

Please visit her at www.AlanaWhite.com for more information. As well as HNS and SCBWI, she is a member of Sisters in Crime, Mystery Writers of America, the Author's Guild, and the Women's National Book Association.

For more information, please visit Alana White's website.

You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.

Giveaway

To win a paperback copy of Come Next Spring by Alana White, please enter via the Gleam form below. 2 copies are up for grabs!

  Rules
 – Giveaway ends at 11:59pm EST on October 24th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
– Giveaway is open to US residents only.
– 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.

  Come Next Spring

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Saturday, October 15, 2016

Review & Giveaway: A Song of War: A Novel of Troy

02_A Song of War

Troy: city of gold, gatekeeper of the east, haven of the god-born and the lucky, a city destined to last a thousand years.

But the Fates have other plans—the Fates, and a woman named Helen. In the shadow of Troy's gates, all must be reborn in the greatest war of the ancient world: slaves and queens, heroes and cowards, seers and kings . . . and these are their stories.

A young princess and an embittered prince join forces to prevent a fatal elopement.

A tormented seeress challenges the gods themselves to save her city from the impending disaster.

A tragedy-haunted king battles private demons and envious rivals as the siege grinds on.

A captured slave girl seizes the reins of her future as two mighty heroes meet in an epic duel.

A grizzled archer and a desperate Amazon risk their lives to avenge their dead.

A trickster conceives the greatest trick of all.

A goddess' son battles to save the spirit of Troy even as the walls are breached in fire and blood. 

Seven authors bring to life the epic tale of the Trojan War: its heroes, its villains, its survivors, its dead. Who will lie forgotten in the embers, and who will rise to shape the bloody dawn of a new age?

Publication Date: October 18, 2016
 Knight Media, LLC 
eBook & Paperback; 483 Pages 
Genre: Historical Fiction/Ancient History/Anthology
  Add to GR Button    
*****


Seven different authors penned this anthology, some of them  am familiar with and others are new to me.  This is only my second experience reading an anthology and I still wonder what the best approach is to writing up a review.  A Song of War is divided into 7 Songs, do I go through each one individual making this review longer than usual or would a general overview (spoiler free) do this book justice?  While I am fascinated with the time period,  I've really only read about Paris and Helen.  With A Song of War it's like getting the other side of the story from different points of view.

Kate Quinn starts this book off with the first Song, called The Apple and clearly demonstrated why she is a favorite of mine.  She knows how to grab the reader right from the beginning, she creates the characters of Hector, Andromache, Hellenus, Paris and Helen with unique personalities and I loved what transpired especially with Paris and Priam, it was original and totally plausible, not what I was expecting at all and it worked; I love when an author does that.

Stephanie Thornton  continues with The Prophecy and the story of Cassandra, someone I have never heard of before.  Thornton likes to take unknown women of history and breathe life into their story, which is exactly what she has done here.  I loved this chapter and I loved Cassandra, the misunderstood, frustrated daughter of Priam who can foresee 'truths no one wishes to hear'.

Russell Whitfield takes on Agamemnon with The Sacrifice and I will admit to actually knowing nothing about him except that he is the brother of Menelaus.  This Song opens with an emotional scene totally drawing my feelings for him in the opposite directions of what I anticipated. I saw what made him tick, Whitfield made be care and empathize about him.

Christian Cameron is a new author to me and he continues with The Duel.  Briseis, I love what I have read about her, a tragic past that has made her a slave in this war.  This is one of the bigger Songs and one of my favorites.  She had guts and determination I was anxious to read her story, I think I read it in one sitting, I couldn't help myself, she just drew me right in.   

Libbie Hawker is a new author to me, her Song, The Bow has me looking for her other works.  
Penthesilea, a Cimmerian, not really part of the Trojan Wars, is again another character I am unfamiliar with as was Philoctetes.  I loved seeing the War unfold through the eyes of other, which was the case here. 

"He that fights fares no better than he that does not; coward and hero are held in equal honor, and death deals like measure to him who works and him who is idle."

Vicky Alvear Shecter tackles the giant Odysseus in The Horse, what a job that was. She did it flawlessly, it was a pleasure to read.

 SJA Turney wrote with some of the same authors here as in A Year of Ravens, so I was looking forward to her Song, she doesn't disappoint.  This was the perfect conclusion to an awesome book.

My favorite, The Authors Note, was a fitting conclusion.  This was just as entertaining as the book itself.  I loved hearing from each of the authors with their thoughts and the tweaking necessary for all the pieces to fit nicely here.  

While I wasn't exactly sure what to expected with A Song of War, I got much more than anticipated and another book to add to my 'best of 2016'.  Hats off to this great team, while written by 7 different individuals with 7 different writing styles this book flowed together perfectly, the transition from Songs seemed effortless.  I loved this book, it was a pleasure to read.

Thank you to Amy at HFVBT for the invite to be part of this tour and to Stephanie Thornton for a digital copy of A Song of Fire.

Amazon | Amazon UK | Kobo


CHRISTIAN CAMERON was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in 1962. He grew up in Rockport, Massachusetts, Iowa City, Iowa,Christian Cameron and Rochester, New York, where he attended McQuaid Jesuit High School and later graduated from the University of Rochester with a degree in history. After the longest undergraduate degree on record (1980-87), he joined the United States Navy, where he served as an intelligence officer and as a backseater in S-3 Vikings in the First Gulf War, in Somalia, and elsewhere. After a dozen years of service, he became a full time writer in 2000. He lives in Toronto (that’s Ontario, in Canada) with his wife Sarah and their daughter Beatrice, currently age four. And a half.

LIBBIE HAWKER was born in Rexburg, Idaho and divided her childhood between Eastern Idaho's rural environs and the greater Seattle area. She presently lives in Seattle, but has also been a resident of Salt Lake City, Utah; Bellingham, Washington; and Tacoma, Washington. She loves to write about character and place, and is inspired by the bleak natural beauty of the Rocky Mountain region and by the fascinating history of the Puget Sound. After three years of trying to break into the publishing industry with her various books under two different pen names, Libbie finally turned her back on the mainstream publishing industry and embraced independent publishing. She now writes her self-published fiction full-time, and enjoys the fact that the writing career she always dreamed of having is fully under her own control.

KATE QUINN is a native of southern California. She attended Boston University, where she earned a Bachelor's and Master's degree in Classical Voice. A lifelong history buff, she has written four novels in the Empress of Rome Saga, and two books in the Italian Renaissance detailing the early years of the infamous Borgia clan. All have been translated into multiple languages. Kate has succumbed to the blogging bug, and keeps a blog filled with trivia, pet peeves, and interesting facts about historical fiction. She and her husband now live in Maryland with two black dogs named Caesar and Calpurnia, and her interests include opera, action movies, cooking, and the Boston Red Sox.

VICKY ALVEAR SHECTER is the author of the young adult novel, Cleopatra's Moon (Arthur A. Levine Books/Scholastic, 2011), based on the life of Cleopatra's only daughter. She is also the author of two award-winning biographies for kids on Alexander the Great and Cleopatra. She is a docent at the Michael C. Carlos Museum of Antiquities at Emory University in Atlanta. The LA Times calls Cleopatra's Moon, "magical" and "impressive." Publisher's Weekly said it was "fascinating" and "highly memorable." The Wall Street Journal called it "absorbing."

STEPHANIE THORNTON is a writer and history teacher who has been obsessed with infamous women from ancient history since she was twelve. She lives with her husband and daughter in Alaska, where she is at work on her next novel. Her novels, The Secret History: A Novel of Empress Theodora, Daughter of the Gods: A Novel of Ancient Egypt, The Tiger Queens: The Women of Genghis Khan, and The Conqueror's Wife: A Novel of Alexander the Great, tell the stories of history's forgotten women.

SJA TURNEY lives with his wife, son and daughter, and two (close approximations of) dogs in rural North Yorkshire. Marius' Mules was his first full length novel. Being a fan of Roman history, SJA decided to combine his love of writing and love of the classical world. Marius' Mules was followed two years later by Interregnum - an attempt to create a new fantasy story still with a heavy flavour of Rome. These have been followed by numerous sequels, with three books in the fantasy 'Tales of the Empire' series and five in the bestselling 'Marius' Mules' one. 2013 has seen the first book in a 15th century trilogy - 'The Thief's Tale' - and will also witness several side projects seeing the light of day.

RUSSELL WHITFIELD was born in Shepherds Bush in 1971. An only child, he was raised in Hounslow, West London, but has since escaped to Ham in Surrey. Gladiatrix was Russ's first novel, published in 2008 by Myrmidon Books. The sequel, Roma Victrix, continues the adventures Lysandra, the Spartan gladiatrix, and a third book, Imperatrix, sees Lysandra stepping out of the arena and onto the field of battle.


Giveaway

To win a paperback copy of A Song of War: A Novel of Troy by the H Team, please enter via the Gleam form below. Rules – Giveaway ends at 11:59pm EST on November 12th. You must be 18 or older to enter. – Giveaway is open to US & Canada residents only. – 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.

  A Song of War


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