Thursday, March 31, 2016

Guestpost: Grendel’s Mother: The Saga of the Wyrd-Wife by Susan Signe Morrison

 I am pleased to have Susan Signe Morrison visit JustOneMoreChapter today with this special guestpost.  Be sure to click on the banner at bottom of post for more stops on this blog tour, which includes reviews and a giveaway.


My historical novel, Grendel’s Mother: The Saga of the Wyrd-Wife, tells the story of the famous Old English heroic epic, Beowulf, from the point of view of the women. “Wyrd” means “fate”—and the females in this hyper-masculine world often seem fated to be victimized.  One in particular, the mother of the monster Grendel, has been particularly villainized until recent feminist interpretations. I wanted to explore her life, her motivations, and her backstory.  The only way to do that, it seemed to me, was to write a novel.

As an English professor, I could have composed a scholarly analysis.  Why historical fiction and not history? Why fiction and not non-fiction? 

Fiction permitted me the freedom to imagine.  I can imagine in non-fiction as well, but the prose and poetry of a world conjured out of my fantasy compelled me to pursue writing a novel.  And pursue it I did.  Though published in September 2015, I began writing it in 1998.  At the time, my daughter was two years old. At the time, I had taught the poem Beowulf for a number of years.  Perhaps it was becoming a mother myself that jolted me out of my conventional form of writing—academic scholarship—to start to pen (and I mean pen!) this Anglo-Saxon world fabricated out of my fantasy.  I felt duty-bound to explore what a fellow mother might have gone through and to plumb her emotional depths and personal and social triumphs.

Yet the book took years to produce.  I wrote it in fits and starts.  Sometimes writing steadily for a few months, then abandoning to for years as other projects—and children—came along.  At one point the manuscript even had a frame tale set in the 20th century; the novel transitioned between the medieval and the modern periods.  I finally abandoned that idea.  I always feel annoyed when an author pulls me out of the past into a more contemporary setting and I didn’t want to do that to my readers.

I also incorporated poems, layered in among the prose passages. After all, in the original work, from a manuscript dating from about the year 1000, a minstrel or scop periodically sings of legendary figures.  Why couldn’t I do that as well with my work? Only I focus on the women and their plight. Sometimes a bit of verse would float into my head and I would write it down, develop it, and craft it into poetry that echoes Old English traditions and conventions. 

My novel is a modern novel for a contemporary audience—but I wanted my readers to feel the chill of the Danish landscape, the thrill of battle, and the poignancy of women and their lives in this violent and turbulent environment. Ultimately, we feel the pain and happiness of women from one thousand years ago, whose fears and joys resemble our own.  They are, in fact, not so different from us.

Here's what I would like to ask readers: How do you identify with characters from the past?

Thank you for letting me share my story with you!



Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Waiting on Wednesday: A Memoir of the Assassin John Wilkes Booth As Told by by Four Ladies: A Novel by Jennifer Chiaverini

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:

Kindle Edition, 368 pages

Expected publication: April 12th 2016 by Dutton 
Hardcover, 368 pages
Expected publication: September 13th 2016 by Dutton 

The New York Times bestselling author of Mrs. Lincoln’s Dressmaker returns with a riveting work of historical fiction following the notorious John Wilkes Booth and the four women who kept his perilous confidence.

 The world would not look upon his like again. John Wilkes Booth—driven son of an acclaimed British stage actor and a Covent Garden flower girl, whose misguided quest to avenge the vanquished Confederacy led him to commit one of the most notorious acts in the annals of America—has been the subject of scholarship, speculation, and even obsession.

Though in his plot to assassinate President Abraham Lincoln Booth did not act alone—“I am determined to be a villain,” he tragically prophesized on the occasion of his acclaimed 1862 New York City debut in the role of Richard III—he is often portrayed as a shadowy figure, devoid of human connection. Yet four women were integral in the life of this unquiet American: Mary Ann, the mother he revered above all but country; his sister and confidante, Asia; Lucy Lambert Hale, the senator’s daughter who loved him; and the Confederate widow Mary Surratt, to whom he entrusted the secrets of his vengeful wrath.

In A Memoir of the Assassin John Wilkes Booth As Told by Four Ladies, New York Times bestselling author Jennifer Chiaverini renders for the first time as fiction the compelling interplay between these pivotal actors—some willing, others unwitting—who made an indelible mark on the history of our nation.
What are you waiting for? 

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Book & Giveaway: The Tapestry (Joanna Stafford #3) by Nancy Bilyeau

02_The Tapestry

"Fans of the Tudor era, you're in for a treat" --InStyle magazine

Henry VIII's Palace of Whitehall is the last place on earth Joanna Stafford wants to be. But a summons from the king cannot be refused. After her priory was destroyed, Joanna, a young Dominican novice, vowed to live a quiet life, weaving tapestries and shunning dangerous conspiracies.

That all changes when the king takes an interest in her tapestry talent. With a ruthless monarch tiring of his fourth wife and amoral noblemen driven by hidden agendas, Joanna becomes entangled in court politics. Her close friend, Catherine Howard, is rumored to be the king's mistress, and Joanna is determined to protect her from becoming the king's next wife--and victim. All the while, Joanna tries to understand her feelings for the two men in her life: the constable who tried to save her and the friar she can't forget.

In a world of royal banquets, jousts, sea voyages and Tower Hill executions, Joanna must finally choose her future: nun or wife, spy or subject, rebel or courtier.

The Tapestry is the final book in a trilogy that began in 2012 with The Crown, an Oprah magazine pick. Don't miss the adventures of one of the most unforgettable heroines in historical fiction.

Paperback Publication Date: March 22, 2016 
Touchstone/Simon & Schuster Paperback; 416 Pages  
Series: Joanna Stafford Genre: Historical Mystery
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Click on the book cover which will take you to my review of this wonderful book.

Praise

“In Joanna Stafford, Bilyeau has given us a memorable character who is prepared to risk her life to save what she most values.” (Deborah Harkness)

“Nancy Bilyeau's passion for history infuses her books and transports us back to the dangerous world of Tudor England. Vivid characters and gripping plots are at the heart of this wonderful trilogy, and this third book will not fail to thrill readers. Warmly recommended!” (Alison Weir, author of The Marriage Game: A Novel of Queen Elizabeth I)
"A rip-roaring Tudor adventure from Nancy Bilyeau! Novice nun turned tapestry weaver Joanna Stafford returns to the court of Henry VIII. She's that great rarity of historical fiction: a fiercely independent woman who is still firmly of her time. A mystery as richly woven as any of Joanna's tapestries." (Kate Quinn, author of Lady of the Eternal City)

"The Tapestry takes its history seriously, but that doesn't stop it from being a supremely deft, clever and pacy entertainment. This is Nancy Bilyeau's most thrilling - and enlightening - novel in the Joanna Stafford series yet." (Andrew Pyper, International Thriller Writers Award winner of The Demonologist and The Damned)

"A master of atmosphere, Nancy Bilyeau imbues her novel with the sense of dread and oppression lurking behind the royal glamour; in her descriptions and characterizations . . . Bilyeau breathes life into history." (Laura Andersen, author of The Boleyn King)

"In The Tapestry, Nancy Bilyeau brilliantly captures both the white-hot religious passions and the brutal politics of Tudor England. It is a rare book that does both so well." (Sam Thomas, author of The Midwife’s Tale)

“In spite of murderous plots, volatile kings, and a divided heart, Joanna Stafford manages to stay true to her noble character. Fans of Ken Follett will devour Nancy Bilyeau’s novel of political treachery and courageous love, set amid the endlessly fascinating Tudor landscape.” (Erika Robuck, author of Hemingway’s Girl)

“These aren't your mother's nuns! Nancy Bilyeau has done it again, giving us a compelling and wonderfully realized portrait of Tudor life in all its complexity and wonder. A nun, a tapestry, a page-turning tale of suspense: this is historical mystery at its finest.” (Bruce Holsinger, author of A Burnable Book and The Invention of Fire)

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02_Nancy Bilyeau

Nancy Bilyeau has worked on the staffs of InStyle, Rolling Stone, Entertainment Weekly, and Ladies Home Journal. She is currently the executive editor of DuJour magazine. Her screenplays have placed in several prominent industry competitions. Two scripts reached the semi-finalist round of the Nicholl Fellowships of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences. Her screenplay “Zenobia” placed with the American Zoetrope competition, and “Loving Marys” reached the finalist stage of Scriptapalooza. A native of the Midwest, she earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Michigan.

THE CROWN, her first novel, was published in 2012; the sequel, THE CHALICE, followed in 2013, and THE TAPESTRY in 2015. Nancy lives in New York City with her husband and two children.

Stay in touch with her on Twitter at @tudorscribe. For more information or to sign up for Nancy’s Newsletter please visit her official website.


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Giveaway

Two paperbacks of The Tapestry by Nancy Bilyeau are up for grabs!
To enter, please use the GLEAM form below.

Rules
– Giveaway ends at 11:59pm EST on April 6th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
– Giveaway is open to US addresses 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.
  The Tapestry Book Blast

Monday, March 21, 2016

Spotlight & Giveaway: On a Desert Shore: A Regency Mystery by S.K. Rizzolo

Protecting an heiress should be an easy job for Bow Street Runner John Chase. But the heiress—daughter of rich London merchant Hugo Garrod and a slave-housekeeper on his Jamaican property—is no conventional society miss. Educated to take a place among Regency England’s upper crust and marry well, she has failed at London’s social scene and lives isolated among the Garrod family in Clapham. And someone is playing her malicious tricks, some of which recall her island heritage of Obeah.

John Chase needs to determine whether Marina is indeed a victim—or is herself a delusional and malicious trickster. If the trickster is real, is it her rejected suitor and cousin Ned Honeycutt? His demure sister? Their devoted aunt who acts as the Garrod housekeeper? A clergyman friend? Everyone around Hugo Garrod has a stake in how he disposes of his immense wealth.

Meanwhile Mrs. Penelope Wolfe, an abandoned wife, flouts convention by earning her living with her pen. She’s in love with barrister Edward Buckler and hesitant to further scandalize society by breaking any more rules. Hugo Garrod invites her to join his household and put her pen to work. Her assignment takes her into an exotic world where menace lurks at every turn of the garden path and the façade of propriety masks danger.

To solve the case, Chase must grasp the enigma of Marina, an expert in self-concealment, who challenges his assumptions and confronts him with difficult truths. And, with the aid of Penelope and Edward Buckler, reveal a clever killer.

On a Desert Shore stretches from the brutal colony of Jamaica to the prosperity and apparent peace of suburban London. Here a father’s ambition to transplant a child of mixed blood and create an English dynasty will lead to terrible deeds.

Publication Date: March 1, 2016
Poisoned Pen Press
Hardcover, Paperback, eBook; 270 Pages
Series: Book #4 of the John Chase/Penelope Wolfe Regency Mystery Series
Genre: Regency Mystery


Praise

 “Fans of traditional whodunits with a closed circle of suspects will enjoy Rizzolo’s fourth historical featuring savvy Bow Street Runner John Chase.” – Publisher’s Weekly

 “This fourth outing for Chase (Die I Will Not, 2014, etc.) blends thwarted love, class and racial issues, partly convincing historical details, and solid sleuthing.” – Kirkus Reviews

 “Bow Street runner John Chase is hired to protect a young heiress from Jamaica, and Mrs. Penelope Wolfe is engaged to live in the woman’s household as an added layer of protection. Together, they must work to uncover a ruthless and diabolical killer. An engrossing fourth historical adventure (after Die I Will Not).” – Library Journal


 S.K. Rizzolo earned an MA in literature before becoming a high school English teacher and writer. Her Regency mystery series features a trio of crime-solving friends: a Bow Street Runner, an unconventional lady, and a melancholic barrister. On a Desert Shore is the fourth title in the series following The Rose in the Wheel, Blood for Blood, and Die I Will Not. Rizzolo lives in Los Angeles. 

For more information visit S.K. Rizzolo’s website.

You can also find her on Facebook, Google+, and Goodreads.


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Giveaway:

Paperback copy of book, open to US and Canada residents

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Review: Sisi: Empress on Her Own by Allison Pataki

For readers of Philippa Gregory, Paula McLain, and Daisy Goodwin comes a sweeping and powerful novel by New York Times bestselling author Allison Pataki. Sisi tells the little-known story of Empress Elisabeth of Austria-Hungary, the Princess Diana of her time, in an enthralling work of historical fiction that is also a gripping page-turner.

Married to Emperor Franz Joseph, Elisabeth—fondly known as Sisi—captures the hearts of her people as their “fairy queen,” but beneath that dazzling persona lives a far more complex figure. In mid-nineteenth-century Vienna, the halls of the Hofburg Palace buzz not only with imperial waltzes and champagne but with temptations, rivals, and cutthroat intrigue. Feeling stifled by strict protocols and a turbulent marriage, Sisi grows restless. A free-spirited wanderer, she finds solace at her estate outside Budapest. There she rides her beloved horses and enjoys visits from the Hungarian statesman Count Andrássy, the man with whom she's unwittingly fallen in love. But tragic news brings Sisi out of her fragile seclusion, forcing her to return to her capital and a world of gossip, envy, and sorrow where a dangerous fate lurks in the shadows.

Through love affairs and loss, dedication and defiance, Sisi struggles against conflicting desires: to keep her family together, or to flee amid the collapse of her suffocating marriage and the gathering tumult of the First World War. In an age of crumbling monarchies, Sisi fights to assert her right to the throne beside her husband, to win the love of her people and the world, and to save an empire. But in the end, can she save herself?

Featuring larger-than-life historic figures such as Bavaria's “Mad King Ludwig” and the tragic Crown Prince Rudolf, and set against many of Europe's grandest sites—from Germany's storied Neuschwanstein Castle to England's lush shires—Sisi brings to life an extraordinary woman and the romantic, volatile era over which she presided.

Hardcover, 464 pages 
Published March 8th 2016 by The Dial Press
arc via publisher through netgalley
*****

Allison Pataki's previous novel The Accidental Empress was my introduction to, not just the author but the Hapsburgs as well.  Empress Elizabeth's story continues pretty well where it left of in the previous book.  I found that book to be fast paced and it showed her carefree life shortly before her wedding and than her years with Franz Joseph.  Where previously she had little control of her life, with Sisi: Empress on Her Own she has taken that control back.

Where previously I was saddened by her lot in life, feeling her separation from her children and struggles with Sophie (mother-in-law), with this book I felt different struggles that she endured.  It was like she was searching for something but just couldn't figure out what it was.  Often compared to the modern day Princess Diana, I can the similarities perfectly.  Life still isn't easy for Sisi, with children she barely knows, a country that feels she abandoned them and not knowing who can trust.  Sisi does things others don't understand, who are quick to criticize and she has to deal with its repercussions.

Sisi: Empress on Her Own is a gripped story best read after The Accidental Empress to get the whole picture of her past and to fully understand her life here.  This was a slower paced book just still entertaining and kept my attention.  

I loved the authors writing style and enjoyed the cameos here, Queen Victoria, Countess Rothschild and King Ludwig and his spooky castle.  Her descriptive writing brought this story to life and again showed her passion for Sisi and the Hapsburg empire.  

Thank you Random House for a review copy via Netgalley.





Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Spotlight & Guestpost: Coins in the Fountain by Judith Works

Judith Works is touring for her new book Coins in the Fountain, please join me in welcoming her to Just One More Chapter with a special guestpost.

 RETURNING HOME

As our last days in Rome sped by I took time to toss some coins into the gushing waters of the Trevi Fountain to ensure a return, even though it would be as a tourist. We had parties with friends. A colleague gave me a small gold pendant depicting Medusa, an ancient Roman symbol for protection. Members of my staff chipped in and presented me with a painting of the Fountain. The movers, with their heavy rolls of paper, finished packing our goods. The last items that went into the crate were two souveniers: a reliquary and old model sailboat with battered sails, chipped paint on the hull and little flags flying on its mast. The boat was my husband Glenn’s, a reminder of his sailing adventures. The antique reliquary, also showing its age with the gilding flaking off, was mine. It was a bust of an obscure saint, Anastasia, who is honored in an old church at the base of the Palatine Hill. The reliquary has a little window in her chest with a compartment behind for a bone or hank of hair. I have often wondered what it might have contained before it ended up in an antique shop waiting for me.
Easygoing Glenn was looking forward to settling in the house we had purchased six months earlier, gardening, taking some cooking lessons, and not having to deal with the difficulties of Roman life. I moped over losing my job, my Italy and my friends – my dolce vita. What would I do for the rest of my life? “Rest” wasn’t a good option.  Relieving Glenn of household chores would take up time – but then what? Should I take up the cooking again when Glenn didn’t want to relinquish his domain?  Try to find a job? Annoy our daughter with unwanted advice? I felt as though my brain was already atrophying.
We flew “home,” arriving in early February, the dark and depressed season in Seattle. But my personal journey was much longer than the flight as culture shock soon set in. I persisted in looking at the clock first thing every morning. If it said six, I knew it was three in the afternoon in Rome. By this time long lunches were concluding. I spent days gazing blankly at Puget Sound, still caught between past and future. And I traveled to Vancouver to see my mother whose health suddenly declined. Two weeks after her 95th birthday, and only five months after we returned, she died. It was as if she had been waiting for us to come back before she gave up. Efforts to reconcile with my new life became even more difficult.
But through the veil of grief and disorientation I finally began to see a path leading me to a new definition of home. First, I recognized that the Pacific Northwest, where I had been born and raised, was indeed my home for the rest of my life, and that I must learn to enjoy its many attractions. Next, I found activities to occupy my brain. I began to volunteer for several local groups associated with the arts. And I decided to write. What better way to reflect on all my adventures, to gain meaning from them, and to attempt to convey that meaning to others?

So, finally, I don’t have “Home, Sweet Rome” as a motto any more. I can truthfully say I love the Northwest with its mountains, waters, and lush gardens. And I love living close to my family, and having time to read, to write, and to share a coffee with all the new friends I now have. But I do have to admit that Rome will always have a place in my mind and my heart, the two locations where the real meaning of “home” reside.

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Life was routine until the author decided to get a law degree. Then a chance meeting led her to run away to the Circus (Maximus) – actually to the United Nations office next door – where she worked as an attorney in the HR department and entered the world of expat life in Rome. Her publishing credits include a memoir about ten years in Italy titled Coins in the Fountain, a novel about expats in Rome, City of Illusions, and flash fiction in literary magazines. She continues to travel in her spare time, having fitted in over 100 countries. And when she is in Rome, she always tosses a coin in the Trevi Fountain to ensure another visit.


Connect with the author:  Website   Twitter   Facebook 

  Pinterest   Instagram   Blog




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Innocents Abroad collide with La Dolce Vita when the author and her husband arrive in the ancient city of Rome fresh from the depths of Oregon. While the author endeavored to learn the folkways of the United Nations, her husband tangled with unfamiliar vegetables in a valiant effort to learn to cook Italian-style. In between, they attended weddings, enjoyed a close-up with the pope, tried their hands at grape harvesting, and savored country weekends where the ancient Etruscans still seemed to be lurking. Along the way they made many unforgettable friends including the countess with a butt-reducing machine and a count who served as a model for naked statues of horsemen in his youth. But not everything was wine and wonders. Dogs in the doctor’s exam room, neighbors in the apartment in the middle of the night, an auto accident with the military police, a dangerous fall in the subway, too many interactions with an excitable landlord, snakes and unexploded bombs on a golf course, and a sinking sailboat, all added more seasoning to the spaghetti sauce of their life. Their story begins with a month trying to sleep on a cold marble floor wondering why they came to Rome. It ends with a hopeful toss of coins in the Trevi Fountain to ensure their return to the Eternal City for visits. Ten years of pasta, vino, and the sweet life weren’t enough. Part memoir, part travelogue, Coins in the Fountain will amuse and intrigue you with the stories of food, friends, and the adventures of a couple who ran away to join the circus (the Circus Maximus, that is).

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Review: At the Edge of the Orchard by Tracy Chevalier

From internationally bestselling author Tracy Chevalier, a riveting drama of a pioneer family on the American frontier

1838: James and Sadie Goodenough have settled where their wagon got stuck – in the muddy, stagnant swamps of northwest Ohio. They and their five children work relentlessly to tame their patch of land, buying saplings from a local tree man known as John Appleseed so they can cultivate the fifty apple trees required to stake their claim on the property. But the orchard they plant sows the seeds of a long battle. James loves the apples, reminders of an easier life back in Connecticut; while Sadie prefers the applejack they make, an alcoholic refuge from brutal frontier life.

1853: Their youngest child Robert is wandering through Gold Rush California. Restless and haunted by the broken family he left behind, he has made his way alone across the country. In the redwood and giant sequoia groves he finds some solace, collecting seeds for a naturalist who sells plants from the new world to the gardeners of England. But you can run only so far, even in America, and when Robert’s past makes an unexpected appearance he must decide whether to strike out again or stake his own claim to a home at last.

Chevalier tells a fierce, beautifully crafted story in At the Edge of the Orchard, her most graceful and richly imagined work yet.

Hardcover, 304 pages
Published March 15th 2016 by Viking
ebook via publisher (through netgalley)
****

At the Edge of the Orchard is a book about trees, sound exciting?  It's about one man's obsession with apple trees and how another's livelihood shapes who he becomes.

All James Goodenough wanted was to work the land and a provide a home for his family, they traveled a long distance and just needed 50 producing apples trees.  It doesn't sound like much, but when the land was unyielding and a wife unsupportive it was not an easy life for James.  Wife Sadie was an interesting character, as much as she was abusive, unhelpful and just downright nasty the writer made me feel sorry for her.  

With one horrific incident the story jumps ahead 15 years to their son Robert, who was only 8 when this incident occurred.  He is clear across the country now as his story slowly unfolds.

I really enjoyed reading this book.  The first part I found rather intense and heartbreaking, the struggles this family endured and how they dealt with each other was sad.  The story slowed down in intensity for the last half but still kept my interest as I wanted to know what had happened.

There are real historical figures in this book, Johnny Appleseed, William Lobb, Billie Lapham and even the fiesty Dody Bienenstock, most that I was unfamiliar with but interesting enough.  There was also the giant trees of the west coast, which are a sight to see.  I loved the authors notes which finished this book off nicely.  Big thanks to the publisher for granting me a copy for review purposed (via netgalley).

Other books I have reviewed by Tracy Chevalier


Book Blast: Death of an Alchemist: A Bianca Goddard Mystery (Bianca Goddard Mysteries, Book 2) by Mary Lawrence

02_Death of an Alchemist

In the mid sixteenth century, Henry VIII sits on the throne, and Bianca Goddard tends to the sick and suffering in London’s slums, where disease can take a life as quickly as murder…

For years, alchemist Ferris Stannum has devoted himself to developing the Elixir of Life, the reputed serum of immortality. Having tested his remedy successfully on an animal, Stannum intends to send his alchemy journal to a colleague in Cairo for confirmation. But the next day his body is found and the journal is gone. Bianca, the daughter of an alchemist, is well acquainted with the mystical healing arts. When her husband John falls ill with the sweating sickness, she dares to hope Stannum’s journal could contain the secret to his recovery. But first she must solve the alchemist’s murder. As she ventures into a world of treachery and deceit, Stannum’s death is only the first in a series of murders—and Bianca’s quest becomes a matter of life and death, not only for her husband, but for herself…

Publication Date: January 26, 2016
Kensington Books Hardcover & eBook;
304 Pages 
Genre: Historical Mystery  
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Praise for The Alchemist’s Daughter (Bianca Goddard Mysteries, Book 1)

“A realistic evocation of 16th century London’s underside. The various strands of the plot are so skillfully plaited together.” —Fiona Buckley, author of the Ursula Blanchard Mystery Series

“Mystery and Tudor fans alike will raise a glass to this new series.” —Karen Harper, author of The Poyson Garden (Elizabeth I Mysteries) Series

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03_Mary LawrenceMary Lawrence studied biology and chemistry, graduating from Indiana University with a degree in Cytotechnology. Along with writing and farming, Lawrence works as a cytologist near Boston. She lives in Maine. The Alchemist’s Daughter is the first book in the Bianca Goddard Mystery series.

For more information please visit Mary's website.
You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Goodreads.
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Book Blast Schedule

Monday, March 7
Passages to the Past
Beth's Book Nook Blog
Tuesday, March 8
Book Nerd
With Her Nose Stuck In A Book
Wednesday, March 9
The Book Connection
Seize the Words: Books in Review
Thursday, March 10
Reading Is My SuperPower
Friday, March 11
Rambling Reviews
Saturday, March 12
Time 2 Read
Sunday, March 13
Susan Heim on Writing
Monday, March 14
CelticLady's Reviews
Ageless Pages Reviews
Tuesday, March 15
Just One More Chapter
Wednesday, March 16
A Literary Vacation
Thursday, March 17
A Book Geek
Friday, March 18
The Lit Bitch
A Holland Reads

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Review & Giveaway: In Another Life by Julie Christine Johnson

 In Another Life

Historian Lia Carrer has finally returned to southern France, determined to rebuild her life after the death of her husband.

But instead of finding solace in the region’s quiet hills and medieval ruins, she falls in love with Raoul, a man whose very existence challenges everything she knows about life–and about her husband’s death. As Raoul reveals the story of his past to Lia, she becomes entangled in the echoes of an ancient murder, resulting in a haunting and suspenseful journey that reminds Lia that the dead may not be as far from us as we think.

Steeped in the rich history and romantic landscape of the Languedoc region, In Another Life is a story of love that conquers time and the lost loves that haunt us all.

(Historical Fiction/Contemporary Women’s Fiction/ Fantasy/Romance) 
Release date: February 2, 2016
Sourcebooks 368 pages 
***

I love the premise of this book, reincarnation. It's a subject that fascinates me and sadly I haven't really stumbled on many books involving it.  Dual time period books are a favorite of mine and this just adds that little extra twist.  The cover also drew me in with the synopsis clinching my desire to read In Another Life.

This book is about grief, new beginnings, reincarnation, love, religious persecutions and history - all the makings of a good story. The author conveyed the feel of France nicely here.  Her descriptions made it easy to not just visualize but feel the life style and countryside.  Based on real events back in 1208 she showed her knowledge and amount of research that went into this book.

I love learning history while reading and this book provided insight into the Cathars as well as the Knights Templar, both subjects that are unfamiliar to me.

Lia was an interesting character, still grieving the loss of her husband she returns to Languedoc for a change of pace and fresh start.  I struggled at times to connect with her, some of her behavior was erratic, though then again she is still grieving and that can make one do things not just out of character but impulsively as well. 

The storyline itself was interesting, however at times it moved at a slow pace. This is the author's debut and I think it was a nice one.

Thanks to France Book Tours for inviting me to be part of this tour, and netgalley for provided an arc.


In Another Life- Julie Christine Johnson Julie Christine Johnson is the author of the novels In Another Life (February 2016, Sourcebooks Landmark) and The Crows of Beara (September 2017, Ashland Creek Press).

Her short stories and essays have appeared in several journals, including Emerge Literary Journal, Mud Season Review; Cirque: A Literary Journal of the North Pacific Rim; Cobalt, the anthologies Stories for Sendai; Up, Do: Flash Fiction by Women Writers; and Three Minus One: Stories of Love and Loss and featured on the flash fiction podcast, No Extra Words.

She holds undergraduate degrees in French and Psychology and a Master’s in International Affairs. A runner, hiker, and wine geek, Julie makes her home on the Olympic Peninsula of northwest Washington state with her husband. In Another Life is her first novel.

Visit Julie’s website and blog Follow Julie Christine Johnson on Twitter | on Facebook
Sign up to receive her Newsletter.


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Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Review: America's First Daughter by Stephanie Dray and Laura Kamoie

America's First Daughter cover

In a compelling, richly researched novel that draws from thousands of letters and original sources, bestselling authors Stephanie Dray and Laura Kamoie tell the fascinating, untold story of Thomas Jefferson’s eldest daughter, Martha “Patsy” Jefferson Randolph—a woman who kept the secrets of our most enigmatic founding father and shaped an American legacy.

From her earliest days, Patsy Jefferson knows that though her father loves his family dearly, his devotion to his country runs deeper still. As Thomas Jefferson’s oldest daughter, she becomes his helpmate, protector, and constant companion in the wake of her mother’s death, traveling with him when he becomes American minister to France. It is in Paris, at the glittering court and among the first tumultuous days of revolution, that fifteen-year-old Patsy learns about her father’s troubling liaison with Sally Hemings, a slave girl her own age.

Meanwhile, Patsy has fallen in love—with her father’s protégé William Short, a staunch abolitionist and ambitious diplomat. Torn between love, principles, and the bonds of family, Patsy questions whether she can choose a life as William’s wife and still be a devoted daughter. Her choice will follow her in the years to come, to Virginia farmland, Monticello, and even the White House. And as scandal, tragedy, and poverty threaten her family, Patsy must decide how much she will sacrifice to protect her father's reputation, in the process defining not just his political legacy, but that of the nation he founded.

Paperback: 624 pages 
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks (March 1, 2016)
print copy received as part of tour
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*****
"Everyone will look to you for a model of what a virtuous daughter, wife and mother of the republic should be."
I have a great respect for authors of historical fiction.  When they take a real figure from the past and portray that individual as accurately as possible, that is no small feat.  There is so much research to bring the past to life and satisfy readers.  Stephanie Dray and Laura Kamoie actually read through over 18,000 letters penned by Jefferson himself.  With that kind of meticulous dedication to Patsy's life I knew this was a story I wanted to read.  Coming in at over 600 pages it isn't a fast read but rather one to savor and appreciate the descriptive writing and to get lost in her story.

There is a lot going on in this book, though it begins with Jefferson's death (1826) we are taken back to 1781 when Patsy is just a young girl.  I don't want to give too much of what takes place because maybe you are like me and know nothing of her life or even that time period.  But we follow her life in France, falling in love and than back to America.  Though there isn't much detail about her father's presidency that's fine because it is her story not his.  Even in that time period, life and society are not much different from today, full of scandal, gossip and lies Patsy (Martha Jefferson Randolph) doesn't have an easy life.  There is a lot on her plate, the mother of 11 children, a husband and his dysfunctional family as well as her own sister, she is the support for her father since the death of her mother when a young girl.  That's a hefty responsibility!

This book was penned by two authors, I am familiar with Stephanie Dray's writing, she is a favorite of mine but Laura Kamoie is new to me.  The two make a great team, the writing was smooth and flawless and rather captivating.  I was transported back to the time period and thoroughly entertained reading American's First Daughter.  Definitely a book I will recommend and can only hope these two will continue to work together.

Thank you to TLC Tours for inviting me to be part of this tour.


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Stephanie Dray photo credit Kate FurekStephanie Dray is a bestselling and award-nominated author of historical women’s fiction. Her work has been translated into six different languages, was nominated for RWA’s RITA Award, and won NJRW’s Golden Leaf. She is a frequent panelist and presenter at national writing conventions and lives near the nation’s capital.

Find out more about Stephanie at her website, and connect with her on Facebook and Twitter.



Photo by Renee HollingsheadLaura Kamoie has published two nonfiction books on early America and most recently held the position of Associate Professor of History at the U.S. Naval Academy before transitioning to a full-time career writing genre fiction under the name Laura Kaye, the New York Times bestselling author of more than twenty books.

Find out more about Laura at her website, and connect with her on Facebook and Twitter.
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Monday, March 7, 2016

Review: The Vatican Princess: A Novel of Lucrezia Borgia by C.W. Gortner

For fans of Philippa Gregory and Alison Weir, a gripping novel that follows the extraordinary life of young Lucrezia Borgia, the legendary Renaissance Pope Alexander’s beautiful daughter.

Was she the heartless seductress of legend? Or merely an unsuspecting pawn in a familial web, forced to choose between loyalty and her own survival?

Glamorous and predatory, the Borgias became Italy’s most ruthless and powerful family, electrifying and terrorizing their 15th-century Renaissance world. To this day, Lucrezia Borgia is known as one of history’s most notorious villainesses, accused of incest and luring men to doom with her arsenal of poison. 

International bestselling author C.W. Gortner’s new novel delves beyond the myth to depict Lucrezia in her own voice, from her pampered childhood in the palaces of Rome to her ill-fated, scandalous arranged marriages and complex relationship with her adored father and her rival brothers—brutal Juan and enigmatic Cesare.

This is the dramatic, untold story of a papal princess who came of age in an era of savage intrigue and unparalleled splendor, and whose courage led her to overcome the fate imposed on her by her Borgia blood.

Hardcover, 400 pages
 Published February 9th 2016 by Ballantine Books
source: ARC via Netgalley
**** 1/2


C. W. Gortner is a favorite of mine.  He creates stories that breathe life into history, writing with emotion and feeling making the reader (me) connect with his characters.  Some of his previous novels evolve around famous and unique women, Catherine Medici, Queen Isabella and her daughter Juana. It wasn't hard to get lost in these stories and some stayed with me long after I turned the final page.  I will admit after The Last Queen to developing a distinct dislike for King Ferdinand, that's how powerful his writing is. His books are must reads for me, whether I know the subject matter or not.

The Vatican Princess is about Lucrezia, daughter of the Pope.  Knowing very little about this family, other than the reputation of depravity and violence I was anxious to read this one.  Beginning with Lucrezia is young the reader gets to watch as she matures and grows up.  Told from her point of view it wasn't hard to really get to know her and the lifestyle of that time period.  It was interesting to watch the progression of this powerful family and feel the struggles when the tides turn.

Thought it took me a little bit of time to get sucked into this once, but when it did happen I couldn't put it down.  I cared about Lucrezia and felt the injustice, confusion and helplessness that she faced, especially when it came from family, I don't think the Borgia's got the memo about family watching each others back or if they did it was grossly misinterpreted.  The descriptive writing had me visualizing so much and made me appreciate the amount of research the author did to writing this captivating story.

Definitely one I highly recommend, thank you to the publisher via netgalley for the opportunity to review this one


Friday, March 4, 2016

Spotlight: Seeing America by Nancy Crocker

02_Seeing America

      Missouri, 1910. John Hartmann is graduating from high school under the critical eye of his father and has no idea what options lie beyond the family farm and his small town. When Paul Bricken, nineteen and blind, buys a brand-new Ford Model T and suggests John drive him to Yellowstone National Park, John jumps at the chance. He’s less enthusiastic about inviting Henry Brotherton, who’s loud, crude, and a bigot—but Henry’s available both as a second driver and a tough guy who might be helpful in a tight spot. As the three young men set off on their tumultuous journey, America is preparing for the fight of the century between Jack Johnson and Jim Jeffries—and is headed for its biggest racial upheaval since the Civil War. With Yellowstone drawing ever closer and tensions rising, Paul, John, and Henry will soon learn there is a great deal they didn’t know about the fledgling American Midwest—or about each other.

Publication Date: July 15, 2014
 Medallion Press Paperback &
 eBook; 327 Pages Genre: Historical/Literary Fiction 
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Praise

". . . a heartwarming, gut-wrenching story about finding out the meaning of the word 'home,' realizing that 'different' doesn't always mean 'insignificant,' and finding oneself by getting lost." —Lisa Senftleben, Library Thing

 “With echoes of Twain and Steinbeck, Seeing America is a story for every restless soul who ever wondered what lay over the horizon and conjured the courage to set out in search of it.” —Robert Klose, author Long Live Grover Cleveland

 "It’s this kind of steadiness of narrative voice, married to visual detail and deftly crafted characterization, that makes this book sing." —Rosemary Herbert, Star Tribune

 "Crocker’s writing is powerful, witty, and at times quite funny." —Jessica Stock Books

03_Nancy Crocker

Nancy Crocker is a Missouri native who started her career as a singer, having performed alongside Loretta Lynn at age thirteen. Her written work has appeared in the American Heritage Anthology, and she is the author of the picture book Betty Lou Blue, published by Dial. Her first novel, Billie Standish Was Here, was published by Simon & Schuster in 2007 and was a Booklist Top 10 Novel for Youth, a Kirkus Editor's Pick for Best Books for Young Adults, a 2009 TAYSHA Reading List selection, and a New York Library’s Book for the Teen Age selection. She now lives in Minneapolis with her husband and son.

WEBSITE | TWITTER | GOODREADS


04_Seeing America_Blog Tour Banner_FINAL
Monday, February 22 Spotlight at What Is That Book About
Wednesday, February 24 Character Interview at Boom Baby Reviews
Spotlight & Giveaway at Teddy Rose Book Reviews Plus More
Friday, February 26 Spotlight at CelticLady's Reviews
Monday, February 29 Spotlight at Passages to the Past
Tuesday, March 1 Interview at I Heart Reading
Thursday, March 3 Spotlight at A Literary Vacation
Friday, March 4 Spotlight at Just One More Chapter
Monday, March 7 Spotlight & Giveaway at Let them Read Books
Wednesday, March 9 Review at Svetlana's Reads and Views
Friday, March 11 Review at Book Nerd

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Review & Giveaway: Fall of Poppies: Stories of Love and the Great War By Hazel Gaynor, Beatriz Williams, Jennifer Robson, Jessica Brockmole, Kate Kerrigan, Evangeline Holland, Lauren Willig, Marci Jefferson, and Heather Webb

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Top voices in historical fiction deliver an unforgettable collection of short stories set in the aftermath of World War I—featuring bestselling authors such as Hazel Gaynor, Jennifer Robson, Beatriz Williams, and Lauren Willig and edited by Heather Webb.

On the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month... November 11, 1918.

After four long, dark years of fighting, the Great War ends at last, and the world is forever changed. For soldiers, loved ones, and survivors the years ahead stretch with new promise, even as their hearts are marked by all those who have been lost. As families come back together, lovers reunite, and strangers take solace in each other, everyone has a story to tell.

In this moving anthology, nine authors share stories of love, strength, and renewal as hope takes root in a fall of poppies.

Publication Date: March 1, 2016 
William Morrow Paperback &
eBook; 368 Pages
Genre: Historical Fiction/Anthology  
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****

The theme of Fall of Poppies is the end of World War I.
  Penned by 9 different authors, seven of which I am familiar with, this collection of short stories pulls at the heart strings and reminds the reader that even if the war is over mentally and physically it lives on.

"Not even the end of the war means the war is over.    It will never be over for some of us."

I will admit to being new to the short stories genre, my fear has always been that the stories will be light and fluffy, lacking depth and the ability to connect with the characters in such a short time.  The stories here averaged less than an hour to read each, so really how can the writer provide the reading experience that I enjoy?   As I am slowly learning it can be done and it was done quite nicely here.

This book is a collection of stories of love, hope and survival.  Told from the both the male and female pov's it wasn't hard to connect and feel compassion.  I won't go into details about what each of the stories were about, but will say that they were all different.  From a young mother in Belgium who lived through the horrors of war, she survived caring for others and learned to trust again. Another mother seeking revenge on Germany when her son is missing and presumed dead. There are pilots. an English midwife fighting to save to life of a newborn and more.

I had my favorites here, Jennifer Robson's "All for the Love of You" because of the connection to her last novel and I love her writing style.  Her's was an interest subject, the making of face masks for those disfigured.  She was able to not just explain the process but threw in a good love story to boot.

Jessica Brockmole's "Something Worth Landing For" also hit the mark for me.  An unlikely union, but watching the relationship evolve through letter writing reminding me so much of why her book Letters from Skye was one of my 'best of 2015'.  Her writing style is flawless, witty and a treat to read.

The stories here are varied, each stand alone's but focus on Armistice, bringing that time to life with different struggles, misunderstandings, relationships and romance.  Definitely one that I recommend and one that has me adding new authors to my tbr pile.

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About the Authors

Jessica Brockmole is the author of the internationally bestselling Letters from Skye, an epistolary love story spanning an ocean and two wars. Named one of Publisher’s Weekly’s Best Books of 2013, Letters From Skye has been published in seventeen countries.

Hazel Gaynor is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of The Girl Who Came Home and A Memory of Violets. She writes regularly for the national press, magazines and websites in Ireland and the UK.

Evangeline Holland is the founder and editor of Edwardian Promenade, the number one blog for lovers of World War I, the Gilded Age, and Belle Époque France with nearly forty thousand unique viewers a month. In addition, she blogs at Modern Belles of History. Her fiction includes An Ideal Duchess and its sequel, crafted in the tradition of Edith Warton.

Marci Jefferson is the author of Girl on the Golden Coin: A Novel of Frances Stuart, which Publisher’s Weekly called “intoxicating.” Her second novel, The Enchantress of Paris, will release in Spring 2015 from Thomas Dunne Books.

Kate Kerrigan is the New York Times bestselling author of The Ellis Island trilogy. In addition she has written for the Irish Tatler, a Dublin-based newspaper, as well as The Irish Mail and a RTE radio show, Sunday Miscellany.

Jennifer Robson is the USA Today and international bestselling author of Somewhere in France and After the War is Over. She holds a doctorate in Modern History from the University of Oxford, where she was a Commonwealth Scholar and SSHRC Doctoral Fellow. Jennifer lives in Toronto with her husband and young children.

Heather Webb is an author, freelance editor, and blogger at award-winning writing sites WriterUnboxed.com and RomanceUniversity.org. Heather is a member of the Historical Novel Society and the Women’s Fiction Writers Association, and she may also be found teaching craftbased courses at a local college.

Beatriz Williams is the New York Times, USA Today, and international bestselling author of The Secret Life of Violet Grant and A Hundred Summers. A graduate of Stanford University with an MBA from Columbia, Beatriz spent several years in New York and London hiding her early attempts at fiction, first on company laptops as a corporate and communications strategy consultant, and then as an at-home producer of small persons. She now lives with her husband and four children near the Connecticut shore, where she divides her time between writing and laundry. William Morrow will publish her forthcoming hardcover, A Certain Age, in the summer of 2016.

Lauren Willig is the New York Times bestselling author of eleven works of historical fiction. Her books have been translated into over a dozen languages, awarded the RITA, Booksellers Best and Golden Leaf awards, and chosen for the American Library Association’s annual list of the best genre fiction. She lives in New York City, where she now writes full time.

04_Fall of Poppies_Blog Tour Banner_FINAL

Blog Tour Schedule

Tuesday, March 1 Review at Let Them Read Books 
Thursday, March 3 Review at Just One More Chapter
Saturday, March 5 Review at 100 Pages a Day 
Monday, March 7 Review at Bookish 
                                Review at CelticLady's Reviews 
Tuesday, March 8 Review at Ageless Pages Reviews 
Friday, March 11 Review at Creating Herstory

Giveaway

To win one of three copies of Fall of Poppies: Stories of Love and the Great War please enter the giveaway via the GLEAM form below.

Rules – Giveaway ends at 11:59pm EST on March 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.

  Fall of Poppies: Stories of Love and The Great War