Thursday, November 23, 2017

Coming Soon: Phoebe's Light (Nantucket Legacy #1) by Suzanne Woods Fisher

As 2017 is closer to turning into 2018, in the coming weeks I will share some of the books I am looking forward to reading in the new year.

 Phoebe Starbuck has always adjusted her sails and rudder to the whims of her father. Now, for the first time, she's doing what she wants to do: marrying Captain Phineas Foulger and sailing far away from Nantucket. As she leaves on her grand adventure, her father gives her two gifts, both of which Phoebe sees little need for. The first is an old sheepskin journal from Great Mary, her highly revered great-grandmother. The other is a "minder" on the whaling ship in the form of cooper Matthew Mitchell, a man whom she loathes.

Soon Phoebe discovers that life at sea is no easier than life on land. Lonely, seasick, and disillusioned, she turns the pages of Great Mary's journal and finds herself drawn into the life of this noble woman. To Phoebe's shock, her great-grandmother has left a secret behind that carries repercussions for everyone aboard the ship, especially her husband the captain and her shadow the cooper. This story within a story catapults Phoebe into seeing her life in an entirely new way--just in time.

In this brand-new series, bestselling author Suzanne Woods Fisher brings her signature twists and turns to bear on a fascinating new faith community: the Quakers of colonial-era Nantucket Island.

 Paperback, 352 pages
 Expected publication: February 6th 2018 
by Fleming H. Revell Company

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Coming Soon: The Promise Between Us by Barbara Claypole White

As 2017 is closer to 2018, in the coming weeks I will share books I am looking forward to in 2018.

From the bestselling author of The Perfect Son comes a hopeful tale of redemption, renewal, and the promise of love.

 Metal artist Katie Mack is living a lie. Nine years ago she ran away from her family in Raleigh, North Carolina, consumed by the irrational fear that she would harm Maisie, her newborn daughter. Over time she’s come to grips with the mental illness that nearly destroyed her, and now funnels her pain into her art. Despite longing for Maisie, Katie honors an agreement with the husband she left behind—to change her name and never return.

 But when she and Maisie accidentally reunite, Katie can’t ignore the familiarity of her child’s compulsive behavior. Worse, Maisie worries obsessively about bad things happening to her pregnant stepmom. Katie has the power to help, but can she reconnect with the family she abandoned?

 To protect Maisie, Katie must face the fears that drove her from home, accept the possibility of love, and risk exposing her heart-wrenching secret. 

350 pages Paperback
 Expected publication: January 16th 2018 
by Lake Union Publishing

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Coming Soon: In Love and War by Liz Trenow

As 2017 is closer to turning into 2018 in the coming weeks I will be sharing some of the books I am looking forward to reading in 2018

"Three women, once enemies. Their secrets will unite them."

July, 1919. The First World War is over. The war-torn area of Flanders near Ypres is no longer home to trenches or troops, but groups of tourists. Controversial battlefield tourism now drives bus-loads of people to witness first-hand where loved ones fell and died.

At the Hotel de la Paix in the small village of Poperinghe, three women have come to the battlefields to find a trace of men they have loved and lost. Ruby is just 21, a shy Englishwoman looking for the grave of her husband. Alice is only a little older but brimming with confidence; she has travelled all the way from America, convinced her brother is in fact still alive and still in France. Then there’s Martha and her son Otto, who are not all they seem to be…

The three women may have very different backgrounds, but they are united in their search for reconciliation: to reconcile themselves to what the war took from them, but also to what life might still promise for the future…"

 Paperback, 400 pages
 Expected publication: January 25th 2018 
by Pan

Monday, November 20, 2017

Coming Soon: A Treacherous Curse (Veronica Speedwell #3) by Deanna Raybourn

As 2017 is closer to turning into 2018 in the coming weeks I will be sharing some of the books I am looking forward to reading in 2018

 Members of an Egyptian expedition fall victim to an ancient mummy's curse in a thrilling Veronica Speedwell novel from the New York Times bestselling author of the Lady Julia Grey mysteries.

 London, 1888. As colorful and unfettered as the butterflies she collects, Victorian adventuress Veronica Speedwell can’t resist the allure of an exotic mystery—particularly one involving her enigmatic colleague, Stoker. His former expedition partner has vanished from an archaeological dig with a priceless diadem unearthed from the newly discovered tomb of an Egyptian princess. This disappearance is just the latest in a string of unfortunate events that have plagued the controversial expedition, and rumors abound that the curse of the vengeful princess has been unleashed as the shadowy figure of Anubis himself stalks the streets of London.

 But the perils of an ancient curse are not the only challenges Veronica must face as sordid details and malevolent enemies emerge from Stoker’s past. Caught in a tangle of conspiracies and threats—and thrust into the public eye by an enterprising new foe—Veronica must separate facts from fantasy to unravel a web of duplicity that threatens to cost Stoker everything. . . .

Hardcover, 352 pages 
Expected publication: January 16th 2018 
by Berkley

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Review: The Woman in the Camphor Trunk: An Anna Blanc Mystery (Anna Blanc Mysteries #2) by Jennifer Kincheloe

Los Angeles, 1908. In Chinatown, the most dangerous beat in Los Angeles, police matron Anna Blanc and her former sweetheart, Detective Joe Singer, discover the body of a white missionary woman, stuffed in a trunk in the apartment of her Chinese lover. Her lover has fled. If news gets out that a white woman was murdered in Chinatown, there will be a violent backlash against the Chinese. Joe and Anna plan to solve the crime quietly and keep the death a secret. So does good-looking Mr. Jones, a prominent Chinese leader who has mixed feelings about helping the LAPD and about Anna.

 Meanwhile, the Hop Sing tong has kidnapped two slave girls from the Bing Kong tong, fueling existing tensions. They are poised on the verge of a bloody tong war that would put all Chinatown residents in danger.

 Joe orders Anna out of Chinatown to keep her safe, but to atone for her own family's sins, Anna must stay to solve the crime before news of the murder is leaked and Chinatown explodes.

 Paperback, 304 pages 
Published November 14th 2017 
by Seventh Street Books / Prometheus Books

I love Anna Blanc! Ever since I finished reading The Secret Life of Anna Blanc I have been keeping an eye for the sequel, because yes there had to be a sequel, the author couldn’t leave us readers hanging - wondering what happened between her and Detective Joe Singer.

Who is Anna Blanc? She is a woman ahead of her time, she doesn’t want to confirm to her father’s wishes and thus now struggles while living on her own. It isn’t easy but she is determined. She is innocent yet spunky, has some of the strangest thought patterns and rationale I’ve ever seen. Her powers of reasoning are some that had me smiling and shaking my head at the same time. Witty, irresponsible and impulsive but at the same time caring and determined. She would rather be a detective than an Assistant Matron for the police department no matter had many feathers she ruffles.

So that’s Anna Blanc in a nutshell! Now add her to Chinatown in 1908 where mystery, murder and mayhem run amuck and you’ve got a great story. Written with the same wit that I enjoyed in book 1, I recommend reading The Secret Life of Anna Blanc first, you’ll get a better picture of who Anna is and what makes her tick.

The Woman in the Camphor Truck is based on real historical events, some of names, dates and locations have been modified to work together (author notes, yea!). There were twists and turns which kept me on my toes.  All in all a very entertaining read.  Definitely a series I recommend.

Thanks to Prometheus Books for an ARC and Jennifer Kincheloe (whom I had the privilege of meeting last month, but in no way affects this review).

click on cover to take you to my review

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Review: The Crooked Path by Irma Joubert

As retired physician Lettie Louw looks back upon her life, she recounts her coming of age in WWII-era South Africa in this compelling story of delayed love, loss, and reconciliation.

Lettie Louw is the daughter of the town physician in their South African village. She spends her childhood in the warm African days playing with her friends and being adored by her doting parents. When she becomes a teenager, she experiences her first taste of unrequited romantic love in the form of her best friend’s older brother, De Wet Fourie. When De Wet pursues the beautiful and wealthy Annabelle, Lettie’s dreams are crushed, and she moves to Johannesburg to pursue her studies in medicine.

Life in Johannesburg feels strange to Lettie, and the world around her is in profound upheaval as the Second World War rages. Her feelings for De Wet never waver, and Lettie is heartbroken when he marries another of her childhood friends. Lettie soon meets Marco Romanelli, an Italian immigrant, and they marry and raise two daughters, as the racial and political tensions in South Africa swirl about them.

Lettie never forgets her first love, even as the ravages of time, war, and illness play upon her life and the lives of those she loves. In their later years, Lettie and De Wet are thrown into one another’s company again, and they are given another chance at a life together.

 Kindle Edition, 400 pages 
Published November 7th 2017 
by Thomas Nelson 
*** 1/2

Thank you to TLC Tours for the opportunity to be part of this blog tour. Irma Joubert is a new author to me.  I have seen her books around but have never read anything before and was anxious to read  The Crooked Path.

The book opened up with Lettie where we learn of her early years in South Africa, I have to admit I was not drawn in right away, I found her character and the writing a bit stilted and I had a hard time liking her. Then the story jumps to Marco and his experiences with World War II in Italy. I was immediately drawn in and immersed in his story. I haven’t read much of World War II taking place in Italy so this was an eye-opener and an emotional part of this book.

It’s when their lives meet up in South Africa that further invested me in the story and The Crooked Path. The affects of World War II don’t stop at the end of the war and for Marco it lingers and affects the rest of his life. Life isn’t easy in South Africa during this time and the author does a good job of presenting the lifestyle of that era and things people endured, especially Lettie as a female doctor.

The Crooked Path is a story of friendship, love and loss, and so much more, in a setting (both Italy and South Africa)  both before and after World War II. Definitely an author I will read more of. She took me to places and events unfamiliar to me in an honest and realistic manner.


International bestselling author Irma Joubert was a history teacher for 35 years before she began writing.

Her stories are known for their deep insight into personal relationships and rich historical detail. She’s the author of eight novels and a regular fixture on bestseller lists in The Netherlands and in her native South Africa. She is the winner of the 2010 ATKV Prize for Romance Novels.

 Connect with Irma on Facebook.

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Monday, November 13, 2017

Review/Giveaway: The Silent Fountain by Victoria Fox

Hollywood, 1978:

Tragedy sends troubled film star Vivien Lockhart into the arms of Giovanni Moretti—and it seems her fortunes have finally changed. Until she meets his sister and learns that her new husband's past holds dark secrets…

Tuscany, Present day:

Lucy Whittaker needs to disappear. But her new home, the crumbling Castillo Barbarossa, is far from the secluded paradise it seemed.

Strange sounds come from the attic. The owner of the house will never meet her in person. The fountain in the courtyard is silent—but has never run dry.

Across the decades, Vivien and Lucy find themselves trapped in the idyllic Italian villa. And if they are ever to truly escape its walls, they must first unearth its secrets…

Paperback, 400 pages
 Published May 9th 2017
 by Harper Collins
I like to read dual time period books, usually the time difference spans 50+ years but with The Silent Fountain the time lines were closer. 

Current day we have Lucy, there is some scandal that forces her to flee not just England but her family as well. 

Beginning in 1975 there is Vivian with her troubled family life which sets her off to change the direction of her life.

The Silent Fountain is a book about relationships, secrets and new beginnings. I will admit that the first few chapters didn’t draw me in as other books have. But as the story lines involved I was flipping through the pages trying to unravel the mystery. With the Castille Barbarossa in Florence, Italy as the connecting thread, this book had that Gothic feel with the darkness of the plot. You could almost say that the Barbarossa is one of the characters here, with it’s isolated location, desolate rooms, hanging portraits of ancestors and a fountain that doesn’t work but still has water replenished every day. 

There is a compelling story line here but I have to say I enjoyed the past one a little more as I felt more invested in the characters and connected to Vivian, I could feel her wide range of emotions. Lucy's story line was also interesting but I found it lacked the suspense and intrigue that possessed the earlier years. But don’t get me wrong here I enjoyed this book immensely. 

Victoria Fox is a new author to me, I enjoyed her writing style with its twist and turns and an ending that I did not anticipate at all. Definitely a book I recommend.

Victoria Fox is a bestselling author in the UK. She used to work in publishing and is now the author of six novels. The Silent Fountain is her breakout novel in North America.

She divides her time between Bristol and London.

Connect with Victoria    Facebook | Twitter
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Friday, November 10, 2017

Review: The Day the Angels Fell by Shawn Smucker

It was the summer of storms and strays and strangers. The summer that lightning struck the big oak tree in the front yard. The summer his mother died in a tragic accident. As he recalls the tumultuous events that launched a surprising journey, Samuel can still hardly believe it all happened.

After his mother's death, twelve-year-old Samuel Chambers would do anything to turn back time. Prompted by three strange carnival fortune-tellers and the surfacing of his mysterious and reclusive neighbor, Samuel begins his search for the Tree of Life--the only thing that could possibly bring his mother back.

His quest to defeat death entangles him and his best friend Abra in an ancient conflict and forces Samuel to grapple with an unwelcome question: could it be possible that death is a gift?

Haunting and hypnotic, The Day the Angels Fell is a story that explores the difficult questions of life in a voice that is fresh, friendly, and unafraid.

With this powerful debut, Shawn Smucker has carved out a spot for himself in the tradition of authors Madeleine L'Engle and Lois Lowry.

Hardcover, 312 pages
Published September 5th 2017 
by Fleming H. Revell Company
We always think we have one more day. We always think tomorrow can do nothing but come around. It’s one of the great illusion we live with, that time will go on and on, that our lives will never end.

The Day the Angels Fell is a story of grief, relationships and love. It wasn’t hard to feel Sam’s grief and guilt with the passing of his mother. Darkness has entered Sam as he questions life and death and begins a quest for the Tree of Life which he assumes will bring his mother back and life will be the way it was.

It is through strange and almost mystical encounters that puts him on this path. Without giving away too much of the story here, the author takes us back to the Garden of Eden.  Through various scenes that reminded me of Frank Peretti‘s This Present Darkness but scaled down for a younger audience. I am not sure if this is young adult or a middle grade book. Sam is only 12 years old so to me that says middle grade but some of the subject matter and scenes seem a little more young adult-ish.

The storytelling is complex and I loved the authors writing style, it was easy to get lost in the pages as he created tension and scenes of heartache vividly. The ending finished off nicely with a sneak preview of the sequel.

Definitely an author I will read more of.
We both laughed, and that time I laughed for real. It felt good. There is something about laughing that pushes back against the darkness, even if only for a moment.

"Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc."

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Excerpt/Giveaway: Becoming Mrs. Smith by Tanya E. Williams

Publication Date: October 10, 2017 
Rippling Effects Writing & Photography
 eBook, Paperback & Audio; 100 Pages
 Genre: Historical Fiction/Novella

  Not all of war’s destruction takes place on the battlefield. 

 Violet’s heart flutters from the scarlet fever she survived as a child, and it beats faster at the sight of John Smith, the man she plans to marry. America is entrenched in WWII, and when John enlists, Violet is certain she won’t ever forgive him for dashing their dreams. As the realities of war slowly overtake her life, Violet's days are filled with uncertainty and grief. She struggles to maintain her faith in John, as the world as she knows it, crumbles.

 Becoming Mrs. Smith is the inspiring, and at times, heartbreaking story of a woman’s struggle to reclaim what she lost. War stole the man she loves, and childhood illness weakened her heart—perhaps beyond repair. While guns rage in Europe, the war Violet faces at home may be even more devastating.

"Wonderfully emotional and beautifully written, Becoming Mrs. Smith will take hold of your heartstrings and leave you longing for more." -Kelsey Gietl, author of Across Oceans

Available on Amazon in Paperback and eBook


The walls of the old farmhouse quiver. Thump. Thump. Thump. The sound reverberates inside of me with each strike against our solid oak door. My insides shake like a ground tremor. Until now, I couldn’t have believed my body could shake any more brutally. This cruel and ruthless fever has vibrated inside of me since before yesterday’s sunrise. Doc Walton and his hammer, the cause of all the commotion, have traveled from Cedar Springs. He has since confirmed Mother’s fears. Scarlet fever has attacked our home and invaded my slight, now fragile body. The notice nailed to the front door is both a proclamation of quarantine and a warning. Those who enter or leave the Sanderson property will be reported and punished by South Dakota law.

 At eleven years old, I’m not keen to lift my nightdress for the doctor. Mother’s stern gaze, which bores through me from the corner of the bedroom I share with Iris, tells me refusing is not an option. My skin, warm to the touch, shivers as air whispers across the tiny red bumps. The doctor listens to my heart with his instrument, the round metal end cold from winter frost, before he lowers my bedclothes and tucks me into bed. He murmurs to himself as he pats my shoulder and smiles sadly, before the latch on his black bag snaps shut.

A writer from a young age, Tanya E Williams loves to help a reader get lost in another time, another place through the magic of books. History continues to inspire her stories and her insightfulness into the human condition deepens her character's experiences and propels them on their journey. Ms. Williams' favourite tales, speak to the reader's heart, making them smile, laugh, cry, and think.

For more information, please visit Tanya Williams' website and blog.

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


During the Blog Tour we will be giving away an eBook of Becoming Mrs. Smith!

To enter, please enter via the Gleam form below.

Giveaway ends at 11:59pm EST on November 17th. Giveaway is open INTERNATIONALLY. –  Winner has 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.

  Becoming Mrs. Smith

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Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Spotlight: The Tides Between by Elizabeth Jane Corbett

Publication Date: October 20, 2017 
Odyssey Books Paperback; 300 Pages 
 Genre: Fiction/Young Adult/Historical

  She fancied herself part of a timeless chain without beginning or end, linked only by the silver strong words of its tellers.

In the year 1841, on the eve of her departure from London, Bride's mother demands she forget her dead father and prepare for a sensible, adult life in Port Phillip. Desperate to save her childhood, fifteen-year-old Bridie is determined to smuggle a notebook filled with her father's fairytales to the far side of the world.

When Rhys Bevan, a soft-voiced young storyteller and fellow traveller realises Bridie is hiding something, a magical friendship is born. But Rhys has his own secrets and the words written in Bridie’s notebook carry a dark double meaning.

As they inch towards their destination, Rhys's past returns to haunt him. Bridie grapples with the implications of her dad’s final message. The pair take refuge in fairytales, little expecting the trouble it will cause.

Odyssey Books | Amazon | iBooks | Kobo

When Elizabeth Jane Corbett isn’t writing, she works as a librarian, teaches Welsh at the Melbourne Celtic Club, writes reviews and articles for the Historical Novel Society and blogs at

In 2009, her short-story, Beyond the Blackout Curtain, won the Bristol Short Story Prize. Another, Silent Night, was short listed for the Allan Marshall Short Story Award. An early draft of her debut novel, The Tides Between, was shortlisted for a HarperCollins Varuna manuscript development award.

Elizabeth lives with her husband, Andrew, in a renovated timber cottage in Melbourne’s inner-north. She likes red shoes, dark chocolate, commuter cycling, and reading quirky, character driven novels set once-upon-a-time in lands far, far away.

For more information, please visit Elizabeth Jane Corbett's website.

You can also connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, and Goodreads.

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Friday, November 3, 2017

Review/Giveaway: The Murderer's Maid by Erika Mailman

Bram Stoker Award finalist Erika Mailman brings the true story of the brutal murder of Lizzie Borden's father and stepmother into new focus by adding a riveting contemporary narrative. 

The Murderer's Maid interweaves the stories of two women: one, the servant of infamous Lizzie Borden, and the other a modern-day barista fleeing from an attempt on her life. 

Trapped by servitude and afraid for her own safety, Irish maid Bridget finds herself an unwilling witness to the tensions in the volatile Borden household. As Lizzie seethes with resentment, Bridget tries to perform her duties and keep her mouth shut.

 Unknowingly connected to the legendary crime of a century ago, Brooke, the illegitimate daughter of an immigrant maid, struggles to conceal her identity and stay a jump ahead of the men who want to kill her. When she unexpectedly falls in love with Anthony, a local attorney, she has to decide whether to stop running and begin her life anew. 

With historical detail and taut, modern storytelling, Erika Mailman writes a captivating novel about identity, choices, freedom, and murder. She offers readers a fresh perspective on the notorious crime and explores the trials of immigrants seeking a better life while facing down fear and oppression, today and throughout history. Intelligent and detailed, The Murderer's Maid is a gripping read from beginning to bloody conclusion.

Publication Date: October 30, 2017
Bonhomie Press
Hardcover; ISBN-13: 978-0997066449
Genre: Fiction/Historical/Mystery

I remember as a teen watching the movie of Lizzie Borden with Elizabeth Montgomery and since then have been intrigued as to what actually took place. How someone could brutally kill her own father and stepmother? I have actually been searching for years to read any fiction books on Lizzie Borden, they are hard to find.  That is until a couple years ago, while I have enjoyed two previous books on this famous murder, The Murderer's Maid is not just my favorite but this one made my 'best of 2017' list.

There are a number of reason why this one made my 'best' list.  Though I am fairly familiar with the Borden story what I loved was the uniqueness of a dual time period. Bridget Sullivan is the family maid and it’s even when she first stepped into this house that she can feel the sinister atmosphere. Mainly told from her POV there are a few other views as well, this was great because it gave a broader view of what was taking place. The author wrote with such vividness that it wasn’t hard to feel the atmosphere of distress, dislike and disdain that permeated this home.

The present day story line was equally intriguing and as I was reading I couldn’t help wondering where the author was going with Brooke's story and how it would connect to Lizzie Borden. There were many twists and turns that kept me glued to the pages.

While history cannot 100% with accuracy pinpoint who committed these horrible crimes all evidence points to Lizzie and the author wrote a compelling argument as to how and why she might have done it. Remember this is historical fiction, meaning facts, motives and scenarios our embellished to present a great book. That being said I loved the author's notes at the end and in this case I especially liked them because not only did she go into detail of what she included in the book and why, along with changes made but she also included things omitted from the book which I found just as fascinating. Things I've never heard of before.

This was my first time reading anything by Erika Mailman and I have already have an Amazon order with more of her books winging their way here.  Her writing is smooth, captivating and was an absolute pleasure to read.

Thank you to Amy at HFVBT for the opportunity to be part of this tour.


“A complex and riveting parallax view of domestic crimes, decades apart.” — Kirkus Reviews
“Erika Mailman writes a page turner of a thriller that will fascinate as well as terrify.” — Margaret Lane, New York Journal of Books

"Fascinating, mesmerizing, and so darkly atmospheric that you keep looking over your shoulder as you read." ―Diana Gabaldon, internationally-bestselling author of the Outlander series

"The Murderer’s Maid is a fascinating and deeply chilling tale. Erika Mailman weaves a story that is by turns poignant, compelling, and murderously suspenseful." ―Kathleen Kent, author of The Heretic’s Daughter

Amazon | Barnes and Noble | Powell's

Erika Mailman is the author of The Witch's Trinity, a San Francisco Chronicle Notable Book and Bram Stoker Award finalist, and Woman of Ill Fame, a Pushcart Press Editor's Book Award nominee. She's a Yaddo fellow and lives in Northern California with her family.

For more information, please visit Erika Mailman's website.

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


During the Blog Tour we will be giving away a hardcover copy of The Murderer's Maid!

To enter, please enter via the Gleam form below.  Giveaway ends at 11:59pm EST on November 8th. Giveaway is open INTERNATIONALLY.  Winner has 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.

  The Murderer's Maid

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Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Review/Giveaway: Wanderers No More by Michelle Saftich

The war may be over, but the fight to belong is just the beginning.

Left homeless, starving, and almost killed by the Second World War, the Saforo family are refugees fleeing Italy for a better life. The shores of Australia are calling to them and they head off, packing dreams of jobs, a home and… soccer.

But from the moment they get off the boat, adapting to the Australian way of life is harder than it seems. Their family doesn’t speak right, eat right or even look right. As they struggle to build a simple life against the backdrop of 1950s’ racism, they start to wonder if they will be outsiders forever.

A true family affair, Wanderers No More will make you laugh, remind you of your family, and warm your heart.

To follow the blog tour and read reviews, please visit Michelle Saftich's page on Italy Book Tours.

 Adult Fiction, 290 pages
 Historical Fiction
 Odyssey Books
Release date: August 2017
Tour dates: Oct 23 to Nov 3, 2017
Content Rating: PG (Very little bad language (if any), kissing, references to sex but nothing actual or explicit, some violence in the way of school bullying - no major adult themes like abortion or suicide etc.)

Wanderers No More continues right where Port of No Return ends. Though it can work as a standalone I recommend reading the previous book, you will glean a better understanding of what this family endured and how they have made their way to Australia. 

When I finish Port of No Return I was anxious to read more, I had grown to care about this family and was genuinely curious to read more about them. It isn’t an easy adjustment for this Italian family, to arrive in a foreign country only holding each others hands. The war separated this family, reunited them and tore them from their home and now they travel thousands and thousands of miles to begin anew. Not only has the war changed them but in this new land they are different, they look different, they talk different and their customs are different from those around. The author doesn’t hold back with the struggles they endured to begin a new life. It isn’t easy for the parents who want the best for their family and it isn’t for easy for the kids either. Going to school and not knowing the language and for some accepting them is a conscious choice to help or not. Sometimes struggles within your own circle is the hardest to deal with. 

This book is based on a real family making it all the more heart wrenching and compelling. It’s the story of family, courage and strength in times when there really is no other option. Definitely two books I highly recommend.

Buy the Book:

Michelle Saftich resides in Brisbane, Australia. She holds a Bachelor of Business/Communications Degree, majoring in journalism, from the Queensland University of Technology.

For the past 20 years, she has worked in communications, including print journalism, sub-editing, communications management and media relations.

Born and raised in Brisbane, she spent 10 years living in Sydney; and two years in Osaka, Japan, where she taught English.

Her historical fiction novel, Port of No Return, was inspired by a true family story. It was published by Australian independent publishing house, Odyssey Books in 2015. Its sequel, Wanderers No More was released in August 2017. Michelle is married with two children.

Connect with the author: Website ~ Twitter ~ Facebook

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Ends Nov 11

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Sunday, October 29, 2017

Review: Katherine of Aragon, The True Queen (Six Tudor Queens #1) by Alison Weir

The lives of Henry VIII's queens make for dramatic stories and Alison Weir will write a series of novels that offer insights into the real lives of the six wives based on extensive research and new theories.

In all the romancing, has anyone regarded the evidence that Anne Boleyn did not love Henry VIII? Or that Prince Arthur, Katherine of Aragon's first husband, who is said to have loved her in fact cared so little for her that he willed his personal effects to his sister? Or that Henry VIII, an over-protected child and teenager, was prudish when it came to sex? That Jane Seymour, usually portrayed as Henry's one true love, had the makings of a matriarch? There is much to reveal ...

Alison will write about the wives in the context of their own age and of the court intrigues that surrounded these women and - without exception - wrecked their lives. She will transport readers into a lost and vivid world of splendour and brutality: a world in which love, or the game of it, dominates all.

Hardcover, 700 pages 
Published May 5th 2016 
*** 1/2

This is the first book in Alison Weir's series on the wives of Henry VIII. Weir is a widely known British historian who writes both fiction and nonfiction, a number that I have read.

One of the things that attracted me to this series is that it is told from the perspective of the wife. I have previously read books on Katherine of Aragon but usually from someone else’s point of view, for me this was a nice change to get inside her head and get a different perspective. Always fascinated with Katherine, daughter of Queen Isabel of Castile and King Ferdinand of Spain, I took her to be strong and courageous. She is married the longest to Henry and takes her marriage vows very seriously. It was a refreshing change seeing her side of the story, while there was still political and religious strife played out here it did not overpower the story like it would have from other points of view.

Well I enjoyed reading this book it did take me most of the summer to complete it. It wasn’t the type that have me begging to read but rather I would pick up and read a couple chapters throughout the week while reading other things. The author stayed true to the time period using historical documents and quoting from them throughout this book sometimes giving the feel of a history lesson. Having said that reading this has given me a new appreciation for Katherine, with all that she went through, from the death of her first husband, Arthur and the many years between till her marriage to Henry. There were many pregnancies, alienation at court while dealing with Henry’s tirades and ultimate abandonment over Anne Boleyn.  Alison Weir has written a detailed account of Katherine’s life.

Definitely a series I will continue to read.

 Hardcover copy part of my personal library.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Review: The Promise of Dawn (Under Northern Skies #1) by Lauraine Snelling

Beloved Author Lauraine Snelling Launches New Immigrant Series

 When Signe, her husband, Rune, and their three boys arrive in Minnesota from Norway to help a relative clear his land of lumber, they dream of owning their own farm and building a life in the New World. But Uncle Einar and Aunt Gird are hard, demanding people, and Signe and her family soon find themselves worked nearly to the bone in order to repay the cost of their voyage. At this rate, they will never have land or a life of their own.

 Signe tries to trust God but struggles with anger and bitterness. She has left behind the only life she knew, and while it wasn't an easy life, it wasn't as hard as what she now faces. When a new addition to the family arrives, Signe begins to see how God has been watching over them throughout their ordeal. But after all that has happened, can she still believe in the promise of a bright future?

 Paperback, 386 pages
 Published August 1st 2017 
by Bethany House Publishers

Lauraine Snelling is a new author for me and this, The Promise of Dawn, is the first book in her Northern Skies Series.

It is April 1909 when this book begins. Having never read this author before I was looking forward to being transported back in time. To feel the emotions of leaving family behind, sailing clear across the globe to begin a new life in a land full of new opportunities. The author did just that, from their treatment as lower class citizens by people they didn’t know to even worse treatment by family. Once arriving at their destination, where family awaiting things don’t goes at planned. In fact it really is kinda horrible what awaited this little family.  Talk about having your dreams shattered.

The author doesn't mince words while describing what it takes to run a household in 1909, I was exhausted for poor Signe and Rune. With both of them telling this story and getting inside their heads brought The Promise of Dawn to life. While there were parts I found repetitive I think that worked in the author's favor as it showed what the folks of that era had to do, everyday over and over again.  The story flowed along nicely with a fitting conclusion leaving me anxious for the next book in this series.

releases April 2018
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 “Book has been provided  courtesy of Baker Publishing and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc.”

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Spotlight/Giveaway: The Painter's Apprentice by Laura Morelli

Category: Adult Fiction, 482 pages
Genre: Historical Fiction
Publisher: The Scriptorium
Release date: November 15, 2017

Would you rather sacrifice your livelihood, your lover, or your life? When the Black Death comes knocking on your door, you’d better decide quickly.

Venice, 1510. Maria Bartolini wants nothing more than to carry on her father’s legacy as a master gilder. Instead, her father has sent her away from the only home she’s ever known to train as an apprentice to Master Trevisan, a renowned painter.

When the painter’s servants uncover the real reason why Maria has been sent away, they threaten to reveal a secret that could tear down her family and the future of their trade. She is forced to buy the servants’ silence, but as their greed steadily grows, Maria resorts to more desperate measures. She questions whether her heart’s desire is worth risking her family, her trade, and her future, but Maria’s sacrifices may amount to nothing if the plague arrives on her father’s doorstep before she is able to get back home.

From the author of the award-winning The Gondola Maker comes a rich tale of Renaissance Venice, a heroine with a lust for life, and love against all odds.
Pre-Order Campaign:
Laura Morelli's new book, The Painter’s Apprentice, is out on November 15, and she is offering a set of great bonuses exclusively to her readers. If you like to delve deeper into the “story behind the story,” you’ll want to take advantage of Laura’s pre-order package (ends Oct 31st), which takes readers behind the scenes of The Painter’s Apprentice with videos, pictures, commentary about Renaissance Venice, and other exclusive content.

 Learn more here and order your copy today!

Buy the Book:

LAURA MORELLI holds a Ph.D. in art history from Yale University, has taught college students in the U.S. and in Italy, and currently produces art history lessons for TED-Ed. She authored a column for National Geographic Traveler called “The Genuine Article” and has contributed pieces about art and authentic travel to CNN Radio, The Frommers Travel Show, and in USA TODAY, Departures, and other media.

Laura is the author of the Authentic Arts guidebook series that includes the popular book Made in Italy. Her fiction brings the stories of art history to life. Her debut novel, The Gondola Maker, won an IPPY for Best Historical Fiction and a Benjamin Franklin Award.

Connect with the author: Website ~ Twitter ~ Facebook ~ Pinterest ~ Instagram

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Ends Nov 25

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Sunday, October 15, 2017

Review/Giveaway: Pleasing Mr. Pepys by Deborah Swift

London 1667. Set in a London rising from the ruins of the Great Fire, Pleasing Mr Pepys is a vivid re-imagining of the events in Samuel Pepys’s Diary. 

Desperate to escape her domineering aunt, Deb Willet thinks the post of companion to well-respected Elisabeth Pepys is the answer to her prayers. But Samuel Pepys’s house is not as safe as it seems. An intelligent girl in Deb’s position has access to his government papers, and soon she becomes a target of flamboyant actress Abigail Williams, a spy for England’s enemies, the Dutch. 

Abigail is getting old and needs a younger accomplice. She blackmails Deb into stealing Pepys’s documents. Soon, the respectable life Deb longs for slides out of her grasp. Mr Pepys’s obsessive lust for his new maid increases precisely as Abigail and her sinister Dutch spymaster become more demanding. When Deb falls for handsome Jem Wells, a curate-in-training, she thinks things cannot possibly get worse. 

Until – not content with a few stolen papers – the Dutch want Mr Pepys’s Diary.

Publication Date: September 28, 2017
Accent Press
eBook & Paperback; 407 Pages
Genre: Historical Fiction
I have been a fan of Deborah Swift's since reading The Lady's Slipper and The Gilded Lily.  She has that great ability to transport this reader back in time and become fully immersed in her books.

Reading in the 1600's is not a time I visit that often, being unfamiliar with the history and events it is always a treat to learn more especially at the hands of an author who has definitely done the research.  To be honest I really couldn't even have told you who the King was at the time let alone heard of Samuel Pepy, and it's learning about these unknown (to me anyways) figures that I thoroughly enjoy.  Even Deb Willet is from the pages of history, though not much is known and the author does a great job creating her story.

Deborah Swift did not disappoint, her research shines through here.  Told from different POV's I was able to get into the heads of different characters which balanced out the story nicely.  England is still recovering after the Great Fire, it's created dire situations for a vast majority of it's citizens as well as political tension with the Dutch, life isn't easy.  With vivid descriptions it wasn't hard to feel the conditions and despair.

Definitely a book I highly recommend and my thanks to HFVBT for the invite to be part of this tour.

Amazon US | Amazon UK | Barnes & Noble | Chapters


Deborah Swift is the author of three previous historical novels for adults, The Lady’s Slipper, The Gilded Lily, and A Divided Inheritance, all published by Macmillan/St Martin’s Press, as well as the Highway Trilogy for teens (and anyone young at heart!). Her first novel was shortlisted for the Impress prize for new novelists. She lives on the edge of the beautiful and literary English Lake District – a place made famous by the poets Wordsworth and Coleridge.

For more information, please visit Deborah Swift's website.

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


During the Blog Tour we will be giving away a signed copy of Pleasing Mr. Pepys to one lucky winner! To enter, please enter via the Gleam form below.

Giveaway Rules
 – Giveaway ends at 11:59pm EST on October 20th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
 – Giveaway is open INTERNATIONALLY.
 – Only one entry per household. Winner has 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.

  Pleasing Mr. Pepys

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Excerpt: Lilac Lane by Sherryl Woods

No one writes about friends, family and home better than Sherryl Woods. Told with warmth and humor, Lilac Lane is a brand-new story in her beloved Chesapeake Shores series, one readers all over the world have waited two years to read!

 At the heart of Lilac Lane is Keira Malone, who raised her three children alone after her first marriage broke apart, and who, after years of guarding her heart, finally finds love again. But that love is short-lived when her fiancĂ© suffers a fatal heart attack. Grieving and unsure of what’s next, Keira agrees to move from Dublin to Chesapeake Shores, Maryland, to spend time with her daughter, Moira, and her new granddaughter, Kate, as well as to help her son-in-law, Luke, with his Irish pub, O’Briens

 Not wanting to live underfoot, she rents a charming cottage on Lilac Lane, replete with views of the ocean and her neighbor’s thriving garden—not to mention views of the neighbor himself. The neighbor is none other than Bryan Laramie, the brusque and moody chef at the pub, with whom Keira is constantly butting heads. But things get real when Bryan’s long-lost daughter, whom he hasn’t seen since she was a baby, shows up out of the blue. As Bryan and Keira each delve into their pasts, reopening wounds, the rest of the town is gearing up for the Fall Festival Irish Stew cook-off, and making no bones about whose side they’re on. It’s Kitchen Wars meets This is Your Life—a recipe for disaster…or a new take on love?

You won’t want to miss this epic return to Chesapeake Shores, a place we’re betting you’ll want to stay forever.

Hardcover, 352 pages 
Expected publication: October 17th 2017 
by Mira Books

be sure to click on icon for more stops on this tour 
(including excerpts and reviews)

“I never miss an opportunity to see the water,” Kiera responded at once. “It’s one of the reasons I found my little cottage so appealing. There’s a glimpse of the bay from the yard.” “There’s an even better view from upstairs in my house,”

Bryan said. “When I leave my bedroom windows open, I can hear the lapping of the waves on the shore.”

As soon as the words were out of his mouth, Bryan regretted them. He’d spoken the truth, but it had sounded far too close to an invitation. He couldn’t be certain from her expression if Kiera had heard it that way, but he knew absolutely that the provocative image of her in his room, in his bed, wouldn’t be going away anytime soon. It shocked him just how powerful that image was.


At the questioning note in Kiera’s voice, he snapped back to the moment and realized a waitress had arrived and was waiting for their orders. “An espresso for me,” he said quickly. “Kiera?”

“I’ve already ordered a cappuccino,” she said, her lips twitching as she tried to hold back a smile.

“Well, that’s all, then,” he said, then met her gaze. “Unless you’d like something to eat.”

“The coffee will do.”

“Sure thing,” the waitress said, leaving them alone.

“Was your mind wandering?” Kiera teased. “I have to wonder where it went. It must have been a pleasant place.”

“Nowhere worth following,” he assured her, then focused his attention on the boats chugging along on the bay in the morning sunlight. It was a tranquil picture, far more tranquil than his oddly chaotic thoughts.

It had suddenly occurred to him that he was actually on something that some people would consider a date. When he’d issued the impulsive invitation, he’d given it no thought beyond the momentary desire to have Kiera’s company for a little longer before their day started at the pub. They seemed to do better with each other away from that atmosphere. Now he was realizing it was a step, albeit a tiny one, toward a more complicated relationship, something he’d successfully avoided for years.

Because he and Melody had never divorced, he’d considered himself unavailable for anything more than the most casual encounters. He was always honest with the women he’d dated, making sure they understood he wasn’t looking for anything lasting. But trying to explain why he wasn’t interested in more was too personal to share, so he avoiding anything that might be leading toward that uncomfortable conversation. Was he actually willing to have that conversation with Kiera? He couldn’t quite envision it, which meant he needed to be very careful about any signals he sent to her. “For a man who said his morning had gotten off to a good start not that long ago, you’re looking increasingly troubled,”

Kiera said. “Have I said something to make you uneasy?” “Not at all,” he said at once. “I’m just not used to doing
things like this.”

She stared at him blankly. “Like what? Having coffee?” He nodded, then chuckled. “Sounds ridiculous, doesn’t it?” “We’ve had coffee before,” she reminded him. “Well,
you’ve had coffee and I’ve had tea, but it’s the same sort of thing.”

“That was at the pub. This is entirely different. Can’t you see that?” Even as he spoke he knew that he was making way too much of an innocent hour at a sidewalk cafĂ©.

Kiera simply looked puzzled, but before he could attempt an explanation, Mick O’Brien came striding down the street from the direction of his wife’s art gallery and spotted them. He paused at their table, then looked pointedly from Bryan to Kiera and back again. “Well, this is a surprise,” he said, grabbing a chair from a neighboring table and pulling it over without waiting for an invitation. “Imagine seeing the two of you here,” he said, then pointedly added, “together.”


With her roots firmly planted in the South, Sherryl Woods has written many of her more than 100 books in that distinctive setting, whether in her home state of Virginia, her adopted state, Florida, or her much-adored South Carolina. Sherryl is best known for her ability to creating endearing small town communities and families.

She is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of over 75 romances for Silhouette Desire and Special Edition.

Connect with Sherryl 

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Review: The Hanging Girl by Eileen Cook

Skye Thorn has given tarot card readings for years, and now her psychic visions are helping the police find the town’s missing golden girl.

It’s no challenge—her readings have always been faked, but this time she has some insider knowledge. The kidnapping was supposed to be easy—no one would get hurt and she’d get the money she needs to start a new life.

But a seemingly harmless prank has turned dark, and Skye realizes the people she’s involved with are willing to kill to get what they want and she must discover their true identity before it’s too late.

Hardcover, 320 pages 
expected publication: October 3rd 2017 
by HMH Books for Young Readers

Happy Release Day to Eileen Cook on the publication of The Hanging Girl. Marketed for young readers, I think it fit the bill nicely. The cover was the first thing I noticed when this popped up on Netgally, and I can't really put into words why - it's eerie and begs to be picked up and read.

'trust no one. deceive everyone.' - matches the story perfectly!

As you can read from the synopsis above the premise for this story is intriguing, with false tarot cards, a kidnapping prank along with Skye's inside info, but then everything starts to go terribly wrong. As I dug deeper realized there are many layers here and secrets of the past always come to light one way or another.

Once I started reading it didn't take long to be sucked right in, especially getting to know Skye, she is honest in her untruthfulness and one can't help feel sympathy towards her (though at times she is hard to even like), she has a hard life and it appears will do anything to change that and get out of this small town.

There were many twists and turns to the story that kept me guessing and just when I thought I figured things out there would be another flip. The ending I didn't see coming and I love it when an author does that.

This is my first book by Eileen Cook and I am anxious to read more.

Thanks to the publisher (via Netgalley for an advanced copy).

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Review: The Return (Amish Beginnings #3) by Suzanne Woods Fisher

Beautiful and winsome, Betsy Zook never questioned her family's rigid expectations, nor those of devoted Hans, but then she never had to. Not until the night when she's taken captive in a surprise Indian raid. During her captivity, Betsy faces brutality and hardship, but also unexpected kindness. She draws strength from native Caleb, who encourages her to find God in all circumstances. She finds herself torn between her pious upbringing and the intense new feelings this compelling man awakens within her.

Handsome and complex, Hans is greatly anguished by Betsy's captivity and turns to Tessa Bauer for comfort. Eagerly, Tessa responds, overlooking troubling signs of Hans's hunger for revenge.

When Betsy is finally restored to the Amish, have things gone too far between Hans and Tessa? 

Inspired by true events, this deeply layered novel gives a glimpse into the tumultuous days of prerevolutionary Pennsylvania through the eyes of two young, determined, and faith-filled women.

Paperback, 332 pages
 Published August 1st 2017
 by Fleming H. Revell Company

The Return is the third book in the Amish Beginnings Series, it takes place 20 years after The Newcomer and Anna's Crossing.  Well it does work fine as a standalone I recommend starting from the beginning just because it's a great series and you really get to know the characters.

When Indians attack close to Anna and Bairn's emotions run amok, for Hans it is heartache, anger and helplessness, for Tessa's guilt and confusion. There is soul searching in store for both, but not always with a positive result.

Playing off of real historical events the author has again written a captivating novel full of emotion and intrigue, keeping me glued to the pages. It wasn't hard to feel the atmosphere and visualize everything taken place, from the wild stallion to the Indian reserve and just sitting around the kitchen table. A real eye opener to what what newcomers had to endure and the relationship with Indians (both good and bad).

Again Felix was one of my favorites, now a widower raising twin boys on his own brought me back to the crossing and his antics – just adding that extra spark to round out a great story. 

Faith plays a big role here, a lot of soul-searching takes place and it's through these dire situations where one is tested they discover who they truly are. 

I am so glad to have discovered this author my thanks to Graf Martin Communications (Nuts About Books) for the opportunity to review this one.

click on cover to take you to my review

"Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc."