Friday, September 22, 2017

Excerpt: To Wager Her Heart by Tamera Alexander

  
From #1 CBA Bestselling Author Tamera Alexander Impeccable historical research woven with heart-gripping fiction!




                     To read an excerpt from this book, click here


With fates bound by a shared tragedy, a reformed gambler from the Colorado Territory and a Southern Belle bent on breaking free from society’s expectations must work together to achieve their dreams – provided the truth doesn’t tear them apart first.

Seeking justice . . .

Sylas Rutledge, the new owner of the Northeast Line Railroad, invests everything he has into this venture, partly for the sake of the challenge. But mostly to clear his father’s name. One man holds the key to Sy’s success–General William Giles Harding of Nashville’s Belle Meade Plantation. But Harding is champagne and thoroughbreds, and Sy Rutledge is beer and bullocks. .

Sy needs someone to help him maneuver his way through Nashville’s society, and when he meets Alexandra Jamison, he quickly decides he’s found his tutor. Only, he soon discovers that the very train accident his father is blamed for causing is what killed Alexandra Jamison’s fiancé–and has shattered her world.

Struggling to restore honor . . .

Spurning an arranged marriage by her father, Alexandra instead pursues her passion for teaching at Fisk University, the first freedmen’s university in the United States. But family–and Nashville society–do not approve, and she soon finds herself cast out from both.

Through connections with the Harding family, Alexandra and Sy become unlikely allies. And despite her first impressions, Alexandra gradually finds herself coming to respect, and even care for this man. But how can she, when her heart is still spoken for? And when Sy’s roguish qualities and adventuresome spirit smack more of recklessness than responsibility and honor?

Sylas Rutledge will risk everything to win over the woman he loves. What he doesn’t count on is having to wager her heart to do it.

Set against the real history of Nashville’s Belle Meade Plantation and the original Fisk University Jubilee Singers ensemble, To Wager Her Heart is a powerful love story about seeking justice and restoring honor at a time in American history when both were tenuous and hard-won. It’s Tamera Alexander – impeccable historical research and heart-gripping fiction – at her best!

Paperback, 384 pages
Published August 8th 2017 by Zondervan



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Thursday, September 21, 2017

Review: The Blackbird Season by Kate Moretti

“Where did they come from? Why did they fall? The question would be asked a thousand times… 

Until, of course, more important question arose, at which time everyone promptly forgot that a thousand birds fell on the town of Mount Oanoke at all.”

In a quiet Pennsylvania town, a thousand dead starlings fall onto a high school baseball field, unleashing a horrifying and unexpected chain of events that will rock the close-knit community.

Baseball coach and English teacher Nate Winters and his wife, Alicia, are admirable advocates for their autistic son, Gabe, and well-respected throughout town—that is, until one of the many reporters who arrives to investigate the odd bird phenomenon catches Nate embracing a wayward student, Lucia Hamm. Lucia soon buoys the scandal by claiming that she and Nate are engaged in an affair, throwing the town into an uproar… and leaving Alicia to wonder if she ever really knew her husband...

And when Lucia Hamm suddenly disappears, the police only seem to have one suspect: Nate.

Kindle Edition, 304 pages
Expected publication: September 26th 2017 
by Atria Books
****

It was both the author and cover that drew me towards this book, it has that ominous feel which peaked my interest.  I read the author's previous book, The Vanishing Girl, in audio format and really enjoyed that one also (click title to take you to my review).

The Blackbird Season is a very character driven story. There are four different points of view, Nate his wife Alicia, their friend Britney and the troubled student Lucia.  All flawed characters and at times unlikable to some degree, well I did feel for Alicia here but each seemed rather self possessed, which made the story work.

The author did a great job with their story lines, as the plot developed she unveils things at a pace that kept me glued to the pages, at the conclusion of each chapter I just wanted to continue reading wondering what the true story was. I was keep guessing as the twists and turns took place totally keeping me on my toes.

Taking place in a small town in Pennsylvania that thrives on rumors and gossip. The day it rained dead birds gives it a Gothic feel, setting the mood.

Thank you to the publisher and netgalley for an advanced copy. This book releases next Tuesday and I highly recommend it.


Kate Moretti is the New York Times bestselling author of The Vanishing Year, Thought I Knew You, and Binds That Tie. 

She lives in eastern Pennsylvania with her husband and kids. Find out more at katemoretti.com.



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Sunday, September 17, 2017

Audio Review: The Face of a Stranger by Anne Perry

His name, they tell him, is William Monk, and he is a London police detective.

But the accident that felled him has left him with only half a life; his memory and his entire past have vanished. As he tries to hide the truth, Monk returns to work and is assigned to investigate the brutal murder of a Crimean War hero and man about town.

Which makes Monk's efforts doubly difficult, since he's forgotten his professional skills along with everything else...

First published 1990
Audio 13 hours 23 minutes
****


This book has it been on my TBR pile for a long time, once I found out the author was going to be a presenter at a conference I am attending next month it got boosted closer to the top, then it became an audible 2/1 deal and I jumped at the chance to go that route. Read by Davina Porter I knew I was in for a treat (this is coming after finishing an Outlander book which she also read, it took me a bit to realize that Jamie and Claire weren't going to show up).

It's the 1850's when William Monk wakes up in the hospital, at least they are telling him that is his name, he has no recollection of who he is or anything about his past. Victorian London is brought to life here as Monk manoeuvres his way as a police detective to solve a murder while at the same time trying to discover any info about himself. He is also hiding the fact his memory is gone from workmates and just the general impression he might not have a nice guy.

The Face of a Stranger is a well written mystery and the first in the William Monk series. With vivid descriptions, life during this era is displayed showing not just the distinctions of class but the way of life. The mystery itself was interesting, a decorated English office from the Crimean war is brutally murdered and as Monk digs deeper into the investigation he starts to learn more about himself as well. There were twists and turns and a surprising, yet fitting conclusion. Definitely a series I will continue to read.

This book is part of my 'Reading my TBR 2017 Challenge"

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Review: Anna's Crossing (Amish Beginnings #1) by Suzanne Woods Fisher

When Anna Konig first meets Bairn, the Scottish ship carpenter of the "Charming Nancy," their encounter is anything but pleasant. Anna is on the ship only to ensure the safe arrival of her loved ones to the New World.

Hardened by years of living at sea, Bairn resents toting these naive farmers--dubbed "Peculiars" by deckhands--across the ocean. As delays, storms, illness, and diminishing provisions afflict crew and passengers alike, Bairn finds himself drawn to Anna's serene nature. For her part, Anna can't seem to stay below deck and far away from the aloof ship's carpenter, despite warnings.

When an act of sacrifice leaves Anna in a perilous situation, Bairn discovers he may not have left his faith as firmly in the past as he thought. But has the revelation come too late?

Amish fiction favorite Suzanne Woods Fisher brings her fans back to the beginning of Amish life in America with this fascinating glimpse into the first ocean crossing as seen through the eyes of a devout young woman and an irreverent man. Blending the worlds of Amish and historical fiction, Fisher is sure to delight her longtime fans even as she attracts new ones with her superb and always surprise-filled writing.

Amazon Marketplace Paperback, 336 pages
 Published March 3rd 2015
 by Fleming H. Revell Company
**** 1/2

In the timeline of history I love reading books on virtually unknown pieces of the past. Which is exactly what Anna's Crossing is.  Given the opportunity to review book 3 in this series (Amish Beginnings) I decided to go back to the beginning and I boy I sure glad I did. The year is 1737 and a sect of Germans are making the long voyage to begin a new life in America. I even can't begin to fathom what that voyage was like but the author does a great deal of painting a picture with not just the sights but the smells as well.

Told from the perspective of not just Anna and Bairn but also Felix, he added that spark and entertainment to this book, there were many times I couldn't help but smile at his antics.  I liked Anna, she was naïve in some instances but she was determined and compassionate in stark contrast to Bairn who had a chip on his shoulder especially for this sect of passengers. Anna didn't hold back about her faith, believing God would provide and see them through the rough times, which further infuriated Bairn.

This is the first time reading this author and I am quite impressed. Based on an actual ship named the Charming Nancy, captained by Charles Stedman, departing from Rotterdam heading to Philadelphia with a mix of Amish and Mennonite family's. They were seeking freedom to worship in the new land but none were prepared for toil the months at sea would take.

There were some wonderful pages of authors notes where Suzanne Woods Fisher described her research, what she included, what she omitted and why, further piquing my interest in the Anabaptist/Amish community. This whole book deals with the crossing and I'm glad I had read it first, the next book in the series is called The Newcomer and book 3 is The Return both of which I will be reviewing in the next few weeks.

This book was from my personal library, where I can see myself collecting more from this author.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Review: A Mother Like Mine (Hartley-by-the-Sea #3) by Kate Hewitt

 Welcome to England's beautiful Lake District, where a reluctant reunion forges a new bond between a daughter and her wayward mother.... Abby Rhodes is just starting to get her life on track. After her fiance's unexpected death, she returned with her young son to the small village where she grew up and threw herself into helping her ailing grandmother run the town's beach cafe. Then one evening, her mother, Laura, shows up in Hartley-by-the-Sea and announces her plan to stay. After twenty years away, she now wants to focus on the future--and has no intention, it seems, of revisiting the painful past.

Laura Rhodes has made a lot of mistakes, and many of them concern her daughter. But as Abby gets little glimpses into her mother's life, she begins to realize there are depths to Laura she never knew. Slowly, Abby and Laura start making tentative steps toward each other, only to have life become even more complicated when an unexpected tragedy arises. Together, the two women will discover truths both sad and surprising that draw them closer to a new understanding of what it means to truly forgive someone you love.

Amazon Marketplace Paperback, 384 pages 
Published August 8th 2017 
by Berkley Books
****

Laura and Abby, mother and daughter, similar yet vastly different. After many years separated (by Laura's choice) when thrust together when Laura decides its time. A Mother Like Mine is booked 3 in the Hartley-by-the Sea Series, I had no issues at all with the fact that I have not read any of the previous books, definitely works as a standalone.

Both of these women had babies while single and young. Laura leaves when Abby is only two years old and the interaction between the years is minimal at best, there is no real relationship here to speak of. Their stories unfold over this almost 400 page book.

It was an interesting read as I found myself wondering how a mother could abandon her child like that even if she was only a teen. The author has written a poignant story as these two attempt to build a relationship and come to terms with the past. It is well written and has the genuine feel of a small village environment. Even though I struggled a little bit in the first few chapters it wasn't long before I found myself curious and seeing what happened in the past.

 A Mother Like Mine is a book about family, or more specifically relationships,in this case between mother / daughter, forgiveness and second chances.  Thank you to TLC Tours for the opportunity to be part of this tour and introducing me to a new author.


Kate Hewitt is the USA Today bestselling author of more than fifty books, including the Hartley-by-the-Sea novels Rainy Day Sisters and Now and Then Friends, and more recently, the Willoughby Close series. A former New Yorker, she now lives in Wales with her husband five children.

She also writes as Katharine Swartz.




Connect with Kate

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Review: The Long Way Home by Kevin Bannister

Set in the turbulent times of the War of Independence, 'The Long Way Home' follows the lives of Thomas Peters and Murphy Steele who are friends, former slaves, fellows-in-arms and leaders of the Black Brigade. Their real-life story is an epic adventure tale as they battle bounty hunters, racism, poverty and epidemic in their adopted country after the war.

 'The Long Way Home' has resonated with readers around the world as an unforgettable account of courage, hope and determination triumphing over despair and injustice. Thomas Peters, thoughtful and charismatic, and Murphy Steele, strong and impulsive, lead their followers on an inspirational search for a place where they can be free.



 Paperback, 348 pages 
Published September 15th 2016 
by Fireship Press
****

Thomas and Murphy are friends, former slaves and real hstorical figures during the War of Independence, the late 1700's. While I have read books on slaves that escaped, were captured or eluded capture this is my first time reading about slaves that have gone on to fight with/for the British.

It was a hard life for slaves and even harder for those who tried to escape. The author did a great job in developing not just the characters but the era as well. Thomas and Murphy are very likable characters, they were determined and brave, desperate to make something of their lives away from slavery.

I enjoyed the author's writing style it flowed smoothly showing the extent of research done while weaving an original tale. I would have loved for there to be author's notes just to get clarification of what was fact and what was fiction, but that being said once finished I started googling.

The Long Way Home is an inspiring story, selfless to the extent of fighting for future generations. It's an unknown part of history that I've never seen before making it all the more interesting. This is the author's debut with a sequel in the works, definitely one I look forward to reading.

Thank you to see your TLC tours for advanced copy.

Purchase Links 




Kevin Bannister is a rancher and writer living in the beautiful foothills of central Alberta. He would like Thomas Peters and Murphy Steele to be celebrated as the heroes that they were in their lifetimes and to be inspirations to young people everywhere to persevere in the face of bigotry, poverty, government indifference or any other adversity. 

Connect with Kevin on Goodreads.


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Spotlight: What is Forgiven by C.F. Yetman

 C.F. Yetmen, author of The Roses Underneath, which won the IPPY Historical Fiction of the Year Award in 2015, Shelf Unbound’s Best Indie Book of the Year in 2014, and was a finalist for the INDIEFAB Book of the Year is set to release the second novel in her historical mystery series, The Anna Klein Trilogy on September 5, 2017.


What is Forgiven follows Anna Klein, who has been working with the Monuments Men for a few months and continues to struggle to put her life back together.

In this book, she confronts the Holocaust and her complicity, as a German citizen, in the atrocities the Nazis committed. Because the Nazis stole the property of Jewish collectors, the art now under the Americans’ control must be restituted. But she learns that when the stakes are this high, people rationalize their greed and crimes to protect themselves, their reputations, and their loved ones.

The series is inspired by the circumstances of the German half of Yetmen’s family at the end of World War II. Although no one worked with the Monuments Men, her grandmother, who was displaced, along with her great-grandmother and mother—then five years old— was lucky enough to get a job working for the American Occupation Forces. Yetmen’s day job as an architectural writer sparked her interest in the work of the Monuments Men, many of whom were architects. The two ideas collided to create the stories of the Anna Klein Trilogy.

Pre-order What is Forgiven here: 



C.F. Yetmen lives and works in Austin, Texas. 














 Excerpt 

Wiesbaden Germany, 1945 The man’s pale face was cracked, the scars of his ordeal revealed under the ribbon of sunlight streaming through the dirty window. Just under his chin, a ridge of pink paint hinted at the jowls that told his age, but the same paint gave a youthful rosiness to his cheek. He looked at Anna with near-black eyes, his expression defiant and expectant, as if they were engaged in conversation and it was her turn to reply. A light warping torqued the canvas in its frame and a small tear was visible at one corner, but it was nothing that wasn’t fixable. Anna lowered her face toward the painting as it rested on the swatch of cloth the conservators used to protect the precious inventory, and when she was sure no one was looking, she ran her hand across the rough paint, feeling its texture on her fingertips. She knew she shouldn’t touch it, even with gloves, but the temptation was too great. The familiar sounds of army boots squeaking on the waxed floors and the low rumble of American voices continued in the near background, and the sun illuminated the dust in the air. She inhaled the distant oily scent and exhaled it for a long time, sending a cloud of tiny particles swirling toward the ceiling. She considered what the Man in a Green Jacket had endured in order to arrive here, into her care. Months in a damp cellar wrapped in bed sheets alongside a few dozen of his fellow travelers had not diminished the gleam in his eyes nor weakened the set of his shoulders. It was a painting that told of another time. What would the man say, if he could speak?

 “Let’s get you back home,” she said. “You’ve been very patient.” She turned the painting over on the work table, which was really just one of the old oversized doors from the back of the building balanced on a pair of smaller folding tables. 

She was so engrossed in reading the gallery and exhibition labels on the back of the painting that she didn’t notice Cooper step into the workroom. 

 “Frau Klein? Can you speed this along, please?” He stood in the half-open door, rolling the sleeve of his uniform down his arm. “The new hire will be here soon. Let’s meet up in my office.” Captain Henry Cooper was her immediate superior—she his translator and assistant, he an architect assigned to safeguard Germany’s damaged monuments and restitute its stolen art for the Monuments Men unit Anna had fallen into a job with. It was no small task, for sure, and one made all the more interesting by Cooper’s penchant for ignoring the military’s protocols.

“I’m almost done here.” She turned back to her work, adjusting the table lamp to get a better look at the hodgepodge of stamps, labels, and numbers that told the painting’s story. Anna knew by now the familiar stencils of the ERR, the Einsatzstab Reichsleiter Rosenberg, Hitler’s ruthless art thieving unit. She made a note of the markings on the condition report part of the long and repetitive intake form, following the established protocol. This canvas, an oil painting of a seated man looking over his left shoulder, likely belonged to the same collector as the dozens of others she had catalogued over the last few days. The Nazi cataloging stamps on the back told that it had been taken from a Jewish family in Frankfurt. Thanks to meticulous Nazi record keeping, the Americans had already made good progress on connecting the paintings with their rightful owners. The only problem, and it was a big one, was finding those owners, if they were even still alive. Of all the Jewish collectors whose paintings they had identified, the Americans had not found a single one yet.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Spotlight: The Soldier's Return by Laura Libricz

The Soldier's Return by Laura Libricz

Publication Date: September 15, 2017
eBook & Paperback
Series: Heaven's Pond Trilogy, Book Two
Genre: Historical Fiction

The year is 1626. A senseless war rips through parts of Germany. Ongoing animosity between the Catholics and the Protestants has turned into an excuse to destroy much of the landscape situated between France, Italy and Denmark. But religion only plays a minor role in this lucrative business of war. The young dutchman, Pieter van Diemen, returns to Amsterdam in chains after a period of imprisonment in the Spice Islands. He manages to escape but must leave Amsterdam in a hurry. Soldiers are in demand in Germany and he decides to travel with a regiment until he can desert. His hope of survival is to reach Sichardtshof, the farm in Franconia, Germany; the farm he left ten years ago. His desire to seek refuge with them lies in his fond memories of the maid Katarina and her master, the humanist patrician Herr Tucher. But ten years is a long time and the farm has changed. Franconia is not only torn by war but falling victim to a church-driven witch hunt. The Jesuit priest, Ralf, has his sights set on Sichardtshof as well. Ralf believes that ridding the area of evil will be his saving grace. Can Pieter, Katarina and Herr Tucher unite to fight against a senseless war out of control? ​

The Soldier’s Return is the second book in the Heaven’s Pond Trilogy and will be released on September 15, 2017.

Available on Amazon



 

Laura Libricz was born and raised in Bethlehem PA and moved to Upstate New York when she was 22. After working a few years building Steinberger guitars, she received a scholarship to go to college. She tried to ‘do the right thing’ and study something useful, but spent all her time reading German literature.

She earned a BA in German at The College of New Paltz, NY in 1991 and moved to Germany, where she resides today.

When she isn’t writing she can be found sifting through city archives, picking through castle ruins or aiding the steady flood of musical instruments into the world market.

Her first novel, The Master and the Maid, is the first book of the Heaven's Pond Trilogy. The Soldier’s Return and Ash and Rubble are the second and third books in the series.

For more information, please visit Laura Libricz's website and blog.

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


Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Spotlight & Giveaway: Woman Enters Left by Jessica Brockmole


Publication Date: August 8, 2017 
Ballantine Books/Penguin Random House 
Paperback & eBook; 352 Pages 
 Genre: Historical Fiction | Literary Fiction | Women’s Fiction 

A woman sets out on a cross-country road trip, unknowingly tracing in reverse the path her mother traveled thirty years before. 

In the 1950s, movie star Louise Wilde is caught between an unfulfilling acting career and a shaky marriage when she receives an out-of-the-blue phone call: She has inherited the estate of Florence “Florrie” Daniels, a Hollywood screenwriter she barely recalls meeting. Among Florrie’s possessions are several unproduced screenplays, personal journals, and—inexplicably—old photographs of Louise’s mother, Ethel. On an impulse, Louise leaves a film shoot in Las Vegas and sets off for her father’s house on the East Coast, hoping for answers about the curious inheritance and, perhaps, about her own troubled marriage. 

Nearly thirty years earlier, Florrie takes off on an adventure of her own, driving her Model T westward from New Jersey in pursuit of broader horizons. She has the promise of a Hollywood job and, in the passenger seat, Ethel, her best friend since childhood. Florrie will do anything for Ethel, who is desperate to reach Nevada in time to reconcile with her husband and reunite with her daughter. Ethel fears the loss of her marriage; Florrie, with long-held secrets confided only in her journal, fears its survival. 

In parallel tales, the three women—Louise, Florrie, Ethel—discover that not all journeys follow a map. As they rediscover their carefree selves on the road, they learn that sometimes the paths we follow are shaped more by our traveling companions than by our destinations.


 “Tender, touching, original, and rich with delicious period detail of Hollywood’s heyday—buckle up, because you’ll definitely want to go on a road trip after reading this delightful book!”—Hazel Gaynor, New York Times bestselling author of The Girl Who Came Home





 Jessica Brockmole is the author of At the Edge of Summer, the internationally bestselling Letters from Skye, which was named one of the best books of 2013 by Publishers Weekly, and Something Worth Landing For, a novella featured in Fall of Poppies: Stories of Love and the Great War.

She lives in northern Indiana with her husband, two children, and far too many books.

For more information, please visit Jessica Brockmole’s website.

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

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  Woman Enters Left

Monday, September 4, 2017

Audio Review: The Fiery Cross (Outlander #5) by Diana Gabaldon, Davina Porter (Narrator)

 New York Times bestselling author of Outlander Diana Gabaldon mesmerized readers with her award-winning Outlander novels, four dazzling New York Times bestsellers featuring 18th-century Scotsman James Fraser and his 20th-century time-traveling wife, Claire Randall.

 Now, in this eagerly awaited fifth volume, Diana Gabaldon continues their extraordinary saga, a masterpiece of pure storytelling and her most astonishing Outlander novel yet....

 The year is 1771, and war is coming. Jamie Fraser’s wife tells him so. Little as he wishes to, he must believe it, for hers is a gift of dreadful prophecy—a time-traveler’s certain knowledge.

 Born in the year of Our Lord 1918, Claire Randall served England as a nurse on the battlefields of World War II, and in the aftermath of peace found fresh conflicts when she walked through a cleftstone on the Scottish Highlands and found herself an outlander, an English lady in a place where no lady should be, in a time—1743—when the only English in Scotland were the officers and men of King George’s army.

 Now wife, mother, and surgeon, Claire is still an outlander, out of place, and out of time, but now, by choice, linked by love to her only anchor—Jamie Fraser. Her unique view of the future has brought him both danger and deliverance in the past; her knowledge of the oncoming revolution is a flickering torch that may light his way through the perilous years ahead — or ignite a conflagration that will leave their lives in ashes....

 Grand, sweeping, utterly unforgettable, Diana Gabaldon’s new novel is riveting entertainment, a vibrant tapestry of history and human drama. Crossing the boundaries of genre with its unrivaled storytelling, The Fiery Cross is a gift both to her millions of loyal fans and to the lucky readers who have yet to discover her.


Audible Audio, Unabridged, 55 hours 34 minutes
 Published November 3rd 2011 
by Recorded Books (first published November 6th 2001)
***
This is book 5 in the Outlander series and I opted for the audio version. It didn't start out that way, one of my little reading quirks is protecting my books by not breaking the spine, which would have been next to impossible with a 1400+ mass paperback.  But I did try, I began reading and reading and reading some more waiting for something exciting to happen and finally I switched over to the audio book. Like I said it's a big book with the audio coming in over 55 hours in length. Davina Porter is the reader and she is phenomenal, I enjoy every book that I have ever listen to that she has done.  I will admit with this one I put the speed up to 1.25 and towards the end for the last 10 hours I ramped it up to 1.5 just because I wanted to finish this thing.

Was the book that bad? No, it wasn't but it is not one of my favorites. The first book and Voyager (book 3) hold that title. With The Fiery Cross I just found the book rather flat. It chronicles life for the Fraser family as they prepare for weddings and life on the ridge. There were peaks in the storyline where I was thankful for the action and intrigue but they were short lived.

Did I hate the book? No I didn't, Diana Gabaldon has a wonderful way with words,  she knows how to describe, embellish and immerse the reader into the time period. But there were times where some words were not necessary and didn't really add anything to the story.  I also think this book was setting the groundwork for the Revolution and what will happen when the date of their deaths comes around.

I'm not going to jump into the next book just yet, A Breath of Snow and Ashes, it's another biggie coming in over 57 hours for the audio version. Maybe over the long cold winter months I will tackle it.


Friday, September 1, 2017

Review: Beneath Copper Falls by Colleen Coble

 Dana has already learned that love isn’t safe . . . but could it be different in Rock Harbor? As a 911 dispatcher, Dana Newell takes pride in being calm in tough circumstances. In addition to her emotionally-charged career, she’s faced enough emergencies in her own life. She recently escaped her abusive fiancé to move to tranquil Rock Harbor where she hopes life will be more peaceful.

 But the idyllic town hides more danger and secrets than it first appeared. Dana is continually drawn to her new friend Boone, who has scars inside and out. Then she answers a call at her job only to hear a friend’s desperate screams on the other end. Soon the pain in her past collides with the mysteries of her new home—and threatens to keep her from the future she’s always wanted.

 Paperback: 368 pages 
Publisher: Thomas Nelson (July 11, 2017)
****

Beneath Copper Falls is the 6th book in the Rock Harbor Series by Colleen Coble. This is my first time venturing into this series, though I was a little hesitant to begin with book 6, but it does work as a standalone quite nicely. If anything it has perked my interest to start at the beginning to read about some of the other characters.

 Driven back to her hometown of Rock Harbor, Dina Newell hopes for some peace and quiet after escaping from an abusive relationship, however such is not the case here. Told from three different points of view, Dina, Boone, and the ex-boyfriend, it wasn't hard to stay focused with what was happening.

There are many layers to this mystery and it didn't take long to be immersed. So many questions arose as I was reading this, that had me scratching my head trying to unravel the mystery before it was revealed. Beginning a new life with her old friends and brother isn't easy when one of her friends is brutally murdered. Could her ex be responsible for that?

There is romance here and I did cringe at the 'insta love' elements that took my place.  It's not a favorite of mine but might be for others.

Colleen Coburg has written a suspenseful novel that wasn't just a murder mystery but a story of self discovery, closure and hope.  Thank you to TLC Book Tours for the opportunity to be part of this tour.


  Purchase Links 


 USA TODAY bestselling author Colleen Coble’s novels have won or finaled in awards ranging from the Best Books of Indiana, the ACFW Carol Award, the Romance Writers of America RITA, the Holt Medallion, the Daphne du Maurier, National Readers’ Choice, and the Booksellers Best.

She has over 2 million books in print and writes romantic mysteries because she loves to see justice prevail. Colleen is CEO of American Christian Fiction Writers. She lives with her husband Dave in Indiana. .

Connect with Colleen Website | Facebook | Twitter






Review: Dryland: One Woman's Swim to Sobriety by Nancy Stearns Bercaw

For swimming champion Nancy Stearns Bercaw, the pool was a natural habitat. But on land, she could never shake the feeling of being a fish out of water. Starting at age two, Nancy devoted her life to swimming, even qualifying for the 1988 Olympic Trials in the fifty-meter freestyle event. But nearly two decades later, when she hung up her cap and goggles, she was confronted with a different kind of challenge: learning who she was out of the lanes.
In this honest, intimate memoir, Nancy reflects on her years wandering the globe, where tragic events and a lost sense of self escalate her dependence on booze. Thirty-three years after her first sip of alcohol, the swimmer comes to a stunning realization while living with her husband and son in Abu Dhabi—she’s drowning in the desert. Nancy looks to the Bedouin people for the strength to conquer one final opponent: alcohol addiction.

Kindle Edition, 258 pages 
Published April 18th 2017 
by Grand Harbor Press
***

Dryland was a relatively quick and easy read for me. I don't usually read a lot of nonfiction, when I received the invite from TLC Tours I felt this one had potential.

While living in Abu Dhabi the author finally come to terms with her addiction to alcohol and stops cold turkey. The story went back-and-forth in the time, from the day she made her decision to quit and then backtracks to her life story and how she got to where she was. So you really need to pay attention to the chapter dates to avoid confusion. 

The traveling to different places was interesting and showed the different cultures the author was able to experience.  I appreciate her honesty here and being so open, letting readers into all that she has been through. While I commend the author for her decision, she never really came out and said she was an alcoholic and my overall impression felt like it was too easy a thing to give up and realistically I am not sure that is the case normally. Showing more of the physical and mental struggles she went through would have really enhanced this memoir. But all in all a nice read.

Thanks to TLC tours and Netgalley for an e-book copy

 Purchase Links: 

Writer and national champion swimmer Nancy Stearns Bercaw is a seventeen-time NCAA All-American athlete and was inducted into the University of South Florida’s Athletic Hall of Fame in 2009.

Her writing has appeared in publications around the world, including the New York Times, the Huffington Post, the Korea Herald, U.S. News & World Report, Abu Dhabi’s Tempo magazine, and ScaryMommy.com.

In addition to Dryland: One Woman’s Swim to Sobriety, she is the author of Brain in a Jar: A Daughter’s Journey Through Her Father’s Memory and a contributor to Chicken Soup for the Soul: Living with Alzheimer’s and Other Dementias.

She lives in Vermont with her husband and son.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Review: High As the Heavens by Kate Breslin

In 1917, Evelyn Marche is just one of many women who has been widowed by the war. A British nurse trapped in German-occupied Brussels, she spends her days working at a hospital and her nights as a waitress in her aunt and uncle's café. Eve also has a carefully guarded secret keeping her in constant danger: She's a spy working for a Belgian resistance group in league with the British Secret Service.

When a British plane crashes in Brussels Park, Eve is the first to reach the downed plane and is shocked to discover she recognizes the badly injured pilot. British RFC Captain Simon Forrester is now a prisoner of war, and Eve knows he could be shot as a spy at any time. She risks her own life to hide him from the Germans, but as the danger mounts and the secrets between them grow, their chance of survival looks grim. And even if they do make it out alive, the truth of what lies between them may be more than any love can overcome.


 Paperback, 395 pages
 Published June 6th 2017
 by Bethany House
****

I will be honest here and say it was the cover that drew me towards this book. I have a thing for airplanes on covers, it evokes a feeling of intrigue and mystery with a spy element even before I knew what this book was about.

Evelyn Marche is a British Red Cross nurse living in Belgium during World War One. It was after her husband's plane is shot down that she returns to her family from England. The first bit of the book I found a little flat as it gave us her background and relationship with her husband. It was interesting enough and set the stage, it also gave me the chance to get to know Evelyn but it lacked something. Once the pace picked up and events started to unfold in Belgium, I was hooked.

This is my first time reading a book from this location and time period. While the war played out here I feel the book centered more around Evelyn and this mysterious pilot. Now don't get me wrong there was enough that I was able to feel the tension in Belgium and the workings of the resistance group, as well as get a general feel and sense of the danger for those in German occupied Belgium. A small part took place in France as well.

This is my first time reading a book by Kate Breslin and I was impressed. I think I read the last half in a day as the action peaked and I was anxious to find out what would happen. High as the Heavens is the kind of Christian fiction I enjoy reading, it is the story of forgiveness, family and faith. Of overcoming guilt and not having to carry your burdens by yourself. Definitely a book I recommend.

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

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Survivor Diaries: Overboard! (Survivor Diaries) by Terry Lynn Johnson

 A high-stakes adventure series perfect for fans of the I Survived series and Hatchet. Eleven-year-old Travis and his family are on a whale watch off the coast of Washington when disaster strikes. The boat capsizes, throwing everyone into the ice-cold chaotic waves. Separated from their families and struggling to stay afloat, Travis and twelve-year-old Marina must use all of their grit and knowledge to survive.

With seventeen years of hands-on experience and training in remote areas, survival expert Terry Lynn Johnson (Ice Dogs; Sled Dog School) creates on-the-edge-of-your-seat storytelling featuring the real skills that kids need to survive a disaster. This book includes Coast Guard-approved cold-water survival tips; you may have a better chance of surviving a real-life cold-water disaster after reading this book.

Stay calm. Stay smart. Survive.

Hardcover, 112 pages 
Published July 4th 2017 
by HMH Books for Young Readers
*****

Survivor Diaries is a new series by Terry Lynn Johnson, the hardcover version is illustrated by Jani Orban. The first installment is Overboard! isn't a long book, coming in at 112 pages, for myself I read in 2 sittings, but for young readers it is the perfect size. 

I have been a fan of Terry Lynn Johnson since reading her previous books Ice Dogs and Dogsled Dreams. She loves the outdoors, adventure and nature which shows in her writing. Overboard  is not just an adventure story but a learning experience at the same time, with survival tips and the dangers of the outdoors, appealing to both boys and girls.

The day begins peacefully for 11-year-old Travis when his family takes a whale watching excursion off the coast of Washington. A rogue wave capsizes the boat separating the family.  Along with 12-year-old Marina the two struggle to survive. They learn how strong they really are when that is the only direction they can go.  Taken from real life situations this is a great adventure story of courage, survival and determination.
I never thought I could do that.  I did it when I wasn't busy thinking I couldn't. I just did it. Seemed to me, the thing about surviving something is believing you can.

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Review: A Beautiful Poison by Lydia Kang

Just beyond the Gilded Age, in the mist-covered streets of New York, the deadly Spanish influenza ripples through the city. But with so many victims in her close circle, young socialite Allene questions if the flu is really to blame. All appear to have been poisoned—and every death was accompanied by a mysterious note.

 Desperate for answers and dreading her own engagement to a wealthy gentleman, Allene returns to her passion for scientific discovery and recruits her long-lost friends, Jasper and Birdie, for help. The investigation brings her closer to Jasper, an apprentice medical examiner at Bellevue Hospital who still holds her heart, and offers the delicate Birdie a last-ditch chance to find a safe haven before her fragile health fails.

 As more of their friends and family die, alliances shift, lives become entangled, and the three begin to suspect everyone—even each other. As they race to find the culprit, Allene, Birdie, and Jasper must once again trust each other, before one of them becomes the next victim.

Kindle, 350 pages 
Published August 1st 2017 
by Lake Union Publishing
****

This is my first book by Lydia Kang and I am glad I read it. With well developed characters she wove together a mystery that kept me guessing right to the end.

Set in the Gilded Age there are current events taking place, the Spanish influenza outbreak and World War 1 has yet to end. Jasper, Birdie and Allene, once best friends but separated by events and society, are together again for Allene's engagement party when tragedy strikes. I found the first and second chapters a little hard to get into, once I passed that it was like the writing style had changed and I was totally immersed in the lives of these three young people.

As the bodies piled up and the mystery intensified the author made me care about them, each of them with unique backgrounds and hardships that they faced. It's a time period that I am just getting into, I enjoyed getting a glimpse of what life was like back then, which further enhanced the plight of these three characters. It wasn't hard to envision the distinct social classes, way of life and how those of high society can do as they please.

The ending was unexpected and one I didn't see coming. Definitely an author and book I recommend.

Thanks to TLC Tours for the invite to be part of this tour. I received an ebook copy (via Netgalley) for review purposes.


Amazon Books-A-Million | Barnes & Noble | Chapters




Lydia Kang is a physician and author of fiction, poetry, and non-fiction. She was born in Baltimore, Maryland and graduated from Columbia University and New York University School of Medicine. She completed her residency and chief residency at Bellevue Hospital in New York City and currently lives in the midwest, where she continues to practice internal medicine.


 Connect with Lydia 

Monday, August 21, 2017

Review: See What I Have Done by Sarah Schmidt

In this riveting debut novel, See What I Have Done, Sarah Schmidt recasts one of the most fascinating murder cases of all time into an intimate story of a volatile household and a family devoid of love.

On the morning of August 4, 1892, Lizzie Borden calls out to her maid: Someone’s killed Father. The brutal ax-murder of Andrew and Abby Borden in their home in Fall River, Massachusetts, leaves little evidence and many unanswered questions. While neighbors struggle to understand why anyone would want to harm the respected Bordens, those close to the family have a different tale to tell—of a father with an explosive temper; a spiteful stepmother; and two spinster sisters, with a bond even stronger than blood, desperate for their independence.

As the police search for clues, Emma comforts an increasingly distraught Lizzie whose memories of that morning flash in scattered fragments. Had she been in the barn or the pear arbor to escape the stifling heat of the house? When did she last speak to her stepmother? Were they really gone and would everything be better now? Shifting among the perspectives of the unreliable Lizzie, her older sister Emma, the housemaid Bridget, and the enigmatic stranger Benjamin, the events of that fateful day are slowly revealed through a high-wire feat of storytelling.

 Hardcover, 336 pages 
Published May 2nd 2017 by Tinder Press
**** 1/2

What a devilishly delightful, eerie atmospheric book, where the house feels like it is one of the characters.

Lizzie Borden took an ax… Yeah yeah we all know the song. But do we know the truth beyond a shadow of a doubt?

Not really and See What I Have Done recounts the infamous Lizzie Borden and the murder of her father Andrew and stepmother Abby. While there is shifting in time with each chapter as well as narrators (Lizzie, her sister Emma, the housekeeper Bridget and a stranger named Benjamin), it works here. In fact it works very well and I was impressed how the author kept my attention and where scenes overlapped it was great to read from the different perspectives, it gave such a broad picture of what was taking place. Did Lizzie Borden really commit these horrible crimes? We will never know the full truth but this book gives a great perspective.

See What I Have Done has garnered mixed reviews, for myself I enjoyed the writing prose I enjoyed the poetic (at times) retelling. Though the Borden's were a well respected family in the community behind closed doors they were a dysfunctional family, kinda creepy and I think the only sane one was Bridget.

I would have loved for the book to have ended with authors notes, to see the motivation behind the story, to know what was fact verse fiction and just some of the 'why' and 'how comes' that took place.

This is the authors debut and she did a great job here, I look forward to reading more, definitely a book I recommend but again only to those that would appreciate the writing style.

This book is part of my personal library - I ordered from bookdepository since I wanted the cover above. Here is the US cover, which is just as creepy.


Friday, August 11, 2017

Spotlight: The Quest for the Crown of Thorns by Cynthia Ripley Miller

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Three years after the Roman victory over Attila the Hun at Catalaunum, Arria Felix and Garic the Frank are married and enjoying life on Garic's farm in northern Gaul (France). Their happy life is interrupted, when a cryptic message arrives from Rome, calling Arria home to her father, the esteemed Senator Felix. At Arria's insistence, but against Garic's better judgment, they leave at once. 

Upon their arrival at Villa Solis, they are confronted with a brutal murder and the dangerous mission that awaits them. The fate of a profound and sacred object--Christ's Crown of Thorns--rests in their hands. They must carry the holy relic to the safety of Constantinople, away from a corrupt emperor and old enemies determined to steal it for their own gain. But an even greater force arises to derail their quest--a secret cult willing to commit any atrocity to capture the Crown of Thorns. 

And all the while, the gruesome murder and the conspiracy behind it haunt Arria's thoughts. Arria and Garic's marital bonds are tested but forged as they partner together to fulfill one of history's most challenging missions, The Quest for the Crown of Thorns.
Publication Date: June 12, 2017
Knox Robinson Publishing
eBook & Paperback; 308 Pages
Series: The Long - Hair Saga, Book 2
Genre: Historical Fiction/Mystery

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Praise


"Ripley Miller astutely brings to life a Rome teetering precariously on the brink of collapse ...the combination of political and romantic drama--spiritual as well--is rousing. The reader should be glad to have read this volume and eager for a third. Intelligent and artfully crafted historical fiction..." -Kirkus Reviews

 "From cover to cover a gripping read - in all senses of the word! Grips your interest and imagination, your held breath and your pounding heart! A thumping good novel!" -Helen Hollick USA Today bestselling author of the Sea Witch Voyages

"Forbidden love, a turbulent time period, and world-changing events combine to produce a real page-turner." -India Edghill, author of Queenmaker, Wisdom's Daughter, and Delilah.

 "A passionate and intriguing take on the often overlooked clash of three brutal and powerful empires: the Romans, Franks, and Huns. A Compelling read!" -Stephanie Thornton, author of The Secret History and The Tiger Queens

 "Readers will be absorbed by a setting of barbarian Gaul and the constancy of Arria's and Garic's destined love amid the strife of a dying Roman Empire." -Albert Noyer, author of The Getorius and Arcadia Mysteries

 "The Quest for the Crown of Thorns, is an elegant masterpiece of historical fiction. This book totally ensnared me in its clasps, and it did not release me until I had read it all. The attention to detail was exquisite The characterisation was sublime, and the romance was breathtakingly beautiful. I adored the world that Miller has created, as well as the characters in it. This is a sit-down and finish book and is one I would Highly Recommend." -Mary Anne Yarde author of the Du Lac Chronicles

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

Cynthia Ripley Miller is a first generation Italian-American writer with a love for history, languages and books. She has lived, worked, and travelled in Europe, Africa, North America and the Caribbean.

As a girl, she often wondered what it would be like to journey through time (she still does), yet knew, it could only be through the imagination and words of writers and their stories. Today, she writes to bring the past to life. She holds two degrees and has taught history and teaches English. Her short fiction has appeared in the anthology Summer Tapestry, at Orchard Press Mysteries.com and The Scriptor. A Chanticleer International Chatelaine Award finalist for her novel, On the Edge of Sunrise, she has reviewed for UNRV Roman History, and blogs at Historical Happenings and Oddities: A Distant Focus

Cynthia has four children and lives with her husband, twin cats, Romulus and Remus, and Jessie, a German Shepherd, in a suburb of Chicago.

On the Edge of Sunrise is the first in the Long-Hair Saga; a series set in late ancient Rome and France and published by Knox Robinson Publishing. The second book in the series, The Quest for the Crown of Thorns, was released in June 2017.

For more information please visit Cynthia Ripley Miller's website.

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

Giveaway

During the Blog Tour we are giving away a copy of The Quest for the Crown of Thorns to one lucky winner!

To enter, please see the Gleam form below. Giveaway Rules – Giveaway ends at 11:59pm EST on August 15th.

You must be 18 or older to enter.
– Giveaway is open to residents in the US 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 Quest for the Crown of Thorns

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Review: Lift and Separate by Marilyn Simon Rothstein

Marcy Hammer’s life has been turned upside down. Her husband, the head of a global brassiere empire, didn’t think twice about leaving her after thirty-three years of marriage for a 32DD lingerie model. Now Harvey the Home-Wrecker is missing in action, but Marcy’s through thinking about what a cliché he is. What she needs now is a party-size bag of potato chips, a good support system, and a new dress.

Striking out on her own is difficult at first, but Marcy manages to find traces of humor in her heartbreak. Even while devastated by Harvey’s departure, she still has her indomitable spirit and her self-respect. She has no intention of falling apart, either, even when her adult children drop a few bombshells of their own and she discovers a secret about her new, once-in-a-lifetime friend. Life may be full of setbacks, but by lifting herself up by her own lacy straps, Marcy just may be able to handle them all.

Paperback, 296 pages 
Published December 1st 2016 
by Lake Union Publishing
***1/2

Sometimes you just need a good chick lit book once in a while. One that has a spunky character, some humor, and an interesting story.

 Lift and Separate is the perfect beach book coming in at almost 300 pages, it is a relatively quick read but far from boring. After 33 years of marriage Marcy is on her own. Her kids are grown and leading their own lives. With a perfect blend of drama, wit and soul-searching Marcy decides to put herself first for a change. 

Told from Marcy's perspective there is more than just her husband leaving here, her mother has an accident which develops into something more, a friendship develops, which helps during all this chaos. 

Lift and Separate kept me entertained, the characters had depth and the plot, though serious, was dealt with in a authentic manner. Aside from the cover, which I'm not a fan of and might not have picked this up on my own if I saw, this is a book I would definitely recommend. 

Thanks to TLC Tours for a print copy in exchange for honest review.


 Purchase Links




For more than twenty-five years, Marilyn Simon Rothstein owned an advertising agency in Connecticut. Lift And Separate, released by Lake Union Publishers, is her debut novel.

Her second novel, also contemporary women’s fiction, will be published in December 2017





Connect with Marilyn 

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Cover Reveal: My Dear Hamilton by Stephanie Dray and Laura Kamoie


From the New York Times bestselling authors of America’s First Daughter comes the epic story of Eliza Schuyler Hamilton—a revolutionary woman who, like her new nation, struggled to define herself in the wake of war, betrayal, and tragedy. Haunting, moving, and beautifully written, Dray and Kamoie used thousands of letters and original sources to tell Eliza’s story as it’s never been told before—not just as the wronged wife at the center of a political sex scandal—but also as a founding mother who shaped an American legacy in her own right. 

 We’re celebrating Eliza Schuyler Hamilton’s Birthday today and you get the gift! Don’t miss the beautiful cover below and a special giveaway, and don’t forget to pre-order your copy today!




My Dear Hamilton: A Novel of Eliza Schuyler Hamilton (Coming 4.3.2018)


Wife, Widow, and Warrior in Alexander Hamilton’s Quest to Form a More Perfect Union 

 From the New York Times bestselling authors of America’s First Daughter comes the epic story of Eliza Schuyler Hamilton—a revolutionary woman who, like her new nation, struggled to define herself in the wake of war, betrayal, and tragedy. Haunting, moving, and beautifully written, Dray and Kamoie used thousands of letters and original sources to tell Eliza’s story as it’s never been told before—not just as the wronged wife at the center of a political sex scandal—but also as a founding mother who shaped an American legacy in her own right.

A general’s daughter…

Coming of age on the perilous frontier of revolutionary New York, Elizabeth Schuyler champions the fight for independence. And when she meets Alexander Hamilton, Washington’s penniless but passionate aide-de-camp, she’s captivated by the young officer’s charisma and brilliance. They fall in love, despite Hamilton’s bastard birth and the uncertainties of war.

A founding father’s wife...

But the union they create—in their marriage and the new nation—is far from perfect. From glittering inaugural balls to bloody street riots, the Hamiltons are at the center of it all—including the political treachery of America’s first sex scandal, which forces Eliza to struggle through heartbreak and betrayal to find forgiveness.

The last surviving light of the Revolution…

When a duel destroys Eliza’s hard-won peace, the grieving widow fights her husband’s enemies to preserve Alexander’s legacy. But long-buried secrets threaten everything Eliza believes about her marriage and her own legacy. Questioning her tireless devotion to the man and country that have broken her heart, she’s left with one last battle—to understand the flawed man she married and imperfect union he could never have created without her…

Pre-Order on Amazon | B&N |GooglePlay |iBooks | Kobo



New York Times bestselling author, Stephanie Dray is an award-winning, bestselling and two-time RITA award nominated author of historical women’s fiction. Her critically acclaimed series about Cleopatra’s daughter has been translated into eight different languages and won NJRW's Golden Leaf. As Stephanie Draven, she is a national bestselling author of genre fiction and American-set historical women's fiction. She is a frequent panelist and presenter at national writing conventions and lives near the nation's capital. Before she became a novelist, she was a lawyer, a game designer, and a teacher. Now she uses the stories of women in history to inspire the young women of today.

Stephanie’s Website | Facebook | Twitter | Newsletter


New York Times bestselling author, Laura Kamoie has always been fascinated by the people, stories, and physical presence of the past, which led her to a lifetime of historical and archaeological study and training. She holds a doctoral degree in early American history from The College of William and Mary, published two non-fiction 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 as the New York Times bestselling author, Laura Kaye. Her New York Times bestselling debut historical novel, America's First Daughter, co-authored with Stephanie Dray, allowed her the exciting opportunity to combine her love of history with her passion for storytelling. Laura lives among the colonial charm of Annapolis, Maryland with her husband and two daughters.


To celebrate Eliza Schuyler Hamilton’s Birthday today, we have a surprise for you! Share the cover of MY DEAR HAMILTON and fill out the Rafflecopter below to receive an Exclusive Excerpt!