Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Review: Daughters of the Night Sky by Aimie K. Runyan

 A novel—inspired by the most celebrated regiment in the Red Army—about a woman’s sacrifice, courage, and love in a time of war.

 Russia, 1941. Katya Ivanova is a young pilot in a far-flung military academy in the Ural Mountains. From childhood, she’s dreamed of taking to the skies to escape her bleak mountain life. With the Nazis on the march across Europe, she is called on to use her wings to serve her country in its darkest hour. Not even the entreaties of her new husband—a sensitive artist who fears for her safety—can dissuade her from doing her part as a proud daughter of Russia.

 After years of arduous training, Katya is assigned to the 588th Night Bomber Regiment—one of the only Soviet air units comprised entirely of women. The Germans quickly learn to fear nocturnal raids by the daring fliers they call “Night Witches.” But the brutal campaign will exact a bitter toll on Katya and her sisters-in-arms. When the smoke of war clears, nothing will ever be the same—and one of Russia’s most decorated military heroines will face the most agonizing choice of all.


Paperback, 316 pages
 Expected publication: January 1st 2018 
by Lake Union Publishing
****

I was first introduced to Aime K. Runyan with her Daughters of New France series,  Canadian historical fiction set in the early years of Canada’s history. With Daughters of the Night Sky she has traveled well off the beaten track, venturing into Russia during the Second World War.

Daughters of the Night Sky is inspired by the female pilots known as the Night Witches and told through the eyes of one brave woman. With so many novels about World War II taking place in various European countries this was a refreshing change to see inside the Soviet Union, under the command of Stalin.

This was a learning experience for me as I did not know about these brave women who wanted to serve country while overcoming so many obstacles. The amount of research in this book is evident as the author portrayed a very vivid picture here, from the struggles these women endured to the desolate landscape and so much more.

Daughters of the Night Sky is a story of strength and bravery, how these women had a desire to do their part in the war effort and the determination to reach their goals. They sacrificed so much knowing each flight could be their last. 

This book was a pleasure to read and one I recommend to those that love not just Russian, WW 2 history but those that crave something different.

My sincere thanks to the author (via netgalley) for an advanced copy in exchange for an honest review.

Friday, December 8, 2017

Audio Review: Tides of Honour by Genevieve Graham

A novel of love, loss, and honour amidst the horrors of war and its aftermath.

It’s 1916, and the last thing Nova Scotian soldier Danny Baker expects to find in war-torn France is the love of his life. Audrey Poulin is alone in the world, and struggling to survive the war in the French countryside. When Audrey and Danny meet and fall in love, it seems like the best version of fate.

But love is only the beginning, as Danny loses a leg in the Battle of the Somme, and returns home to Halifax with Audrey, only to discover that he’s unable to leave the war behind. Danny and Audrey struggle with their new life together, and must face not only their own internal demons, but a catastrophe that will soon rip apart everything they think they know about themselves and each other.

Genevieve Graham, author of Under the Same Sky and Sound of the Heart, brings her passion for weaving history and fiction together in a seamless tale that will capture and enthrall the reader.

Paperback, 432 pages
Published April 2015
by Simon & Schuster Canada
Audiobook 12 hours 22 minutes
Reader: Fajer Al-Kaisi
**** 1/2

Last Wednesday marked the 100th anniversary of the Halifax Explosion, which plays central to The Tides of Honour. Having never visited the East coast I know very little of its history and what I do gleam is from my reading, which made me excited to read this one.

I am relatively new to the writings of Genevieve Graham, Promises to Keep opened my eyes to the Acadians and their plight. It also showed me how little I know of this great country's history. With Tides of Honour the trauma of World War I is not just felt in Europe but reaches to Canadian soil as well.  It takes its toll on Private Daniel Baker as he arrives back in Canada with deep physical and mental wounds. As he is adjusting to his new life at home his young bride arrives, though overjoyed it also causes more anxiety.

Now add the explosion and there is a lot to take in, but it works. It works because it’s real, the war is still going strong in 1917 with Canadians playing a part. The characters are authentic, they are flawed, they hurt, they grieve and lash out at those they love. Life isn’t what it used to be nor will it be the same again.

It isn’t often that I come across a story told with a male POV and  it was a refreshing change. There are parts that alternate with Audrey (his bride) but for the majority of the time it was Danny and getting inside his head with its wide range of emotional conflicts.

Tides of Honour is a realistic look at the struggles of war, losing friends, PTSD and new beginnings. It’s an emotional story, drawing on the heartstrings of not just this family but those affected by the explosion, there is a real sense of the devastation that transpired.

Genevieve Graham is a Canadian author who has a love of Canadian history and it shows in her writing.  The amount of research is evident as well as her passion to share this part of our history.

Be sure to check out the her website for a look at her other books.

Though I have a print copy in my personal library I opted for the audio version (via audible). It was great in this format with the reader doing a stellar job.

click on cover to take you to my review

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Spotlight/Giveaway: Fanny Newcomb and the Irish Channel Ripper by Ana Brazil


Publication Date: November 1, 2017
Sand Hill Review Press
Formats: Paperback & eBook
Genre: Fiction/Historical/Mystery

Gilded Age New Orleans is overrun with prostitutes, pornographers, and a malicious Jack the Ripper copycat. As threatening letters to newspaper editors proclaim, no woman is safe from his blade.

Desperate to know who murdered her favorite student, ambitious typewriting teacher Fanny Newcomb launches into a hunt for the self-proclaimed Irish Channel Ripper. Fanny quickly enlists her well-connected employers—Principal Sylvia Giddings and her sister Dr. Olive—to help, and the women forge through saloons, cemeteries, slums, and houses of prostitution in their pursuit. Fanny’s good intentions quickly infuriate her longtime beau Lawrence Decatur, while her reckless persistence confounds the talented police detective Daniel Crenshaw.

 Reluctantly, Lawrence and Daniel also lend their investigative talents to Fanny’s investigation. As the murderer sets a date for his next heinous crime, can Fanny Newcomb and her crew stop the Irish Channel Ripper before he kills again?

Amazon | Barnes and Noble


A native of California, Ana Brazil lived in the south for many years. She earned her MA in American history from Florida State University and traveled her way through Mississippi as an architectural historian. Ana loves fried mullet, Greek Revival colonnades, and Miss Welty’s garden. She has a weakness for almost all things New Orleans. (Although she’s not sure just how it happened…but she favors bluegrass over jazz.) The Fanny Newcomb stories celebrate the tenacity, intelligence, and wisdom of the dozens of courageous and outrageous southern women that Ana is proud to call friends. Although Ana, her husband, and their dog Traveller live in the beautiful Oakland foothills, she is forever drawn to the lush mystique of New Orleans, where Fanny Newcomb and her friends are ever prepared to seek a certain justice.

For more information, please visit Ana Brazil's website and blog.

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

click on banner for more stops on this tour (reviews, interviews and guestposts)


Giveaway

During the Blog Tour we will be giving away a paperback copy of Fanny Newcomb and the Irish Channel Ripper! To enter, please enter via the Gleam form below.

 – Giveaway ends at 11:59pm EST on December 15th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
 – Giveaway is open INTERNATIONALLY. 

 Fanny Newcomb

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Review: The House on Foster Hill by Jaime Jo Wright

Kaine Prescott is no stranger to death. When her husband died two years ago, her pleas for further investigation into his suspicious death fell on deaf ears. In desperate need of a fresh start, Kaine purchases an old house sight unseen in her grandfather's Wisconsin hometown.

But one look at the eerie, abandoned house immediately leaves her questioning her rash decision. And when the house's dark history comes back with a vengeance, Kaine is forced to face the terrifying realization she has nowhere left to hide.

 A century earlier, the house on Foster Hill holds nothing but painful memories for Ivy Thorpe. When an unidentified woman is found dead on the property, Ivy is compelled to discover her identity. Ivy's search leads her into dangerous waters and, even as she works together with a man from her past, can she unravel the mystery before any other lives-- including her own--are lost?

Published November 21st 2017 
by Bethany House Publishers
**** 1/2


The House on Foster Hill is Jamie Jo Wright's debut, I love discovering new authors especially when I get the chance to start with their debut. I loved the premise of this one, spooky old abandoned house, murder of an unidentified woman taking place a century earlier in a town that is tight lipped about the past.

This book made my 'best of 2017' list for a number of reasons. First off I love the mystery, the Gothic elements, creepy family portraits hanging crooked with eyes that follow you, mysterious music playing in this vacant house and it's deadly history. The author kept me wanting to read more with its subtle clues and it wasn’t till near the end where everything fit into place. I think it’s great when an author can create a mystery/suspense book in a way where it isn’t blatantly obvious what is taking place and keeps me guessing.

Now you may have noticed I only gave this book 4 1/2 stars instead of five and that involves the past story line. It wasn’t anything that I can put my finger on but I just felt there was some little thing missing. They were a few times where I didn’t get the feel of the time, but it wasn’t enough to distract me or take away from the plot.

I really like the author's writing style I liked how she wove the story back-and-forth in time smoothly, the ending it was not something I expected at all, very fitting for the time. The way the past and current story lines mesh was perfect.

This is Christian fiction and this book portrayed it perfectly. Maybe it’s just because I can relate but I thought the author displayed both Ivy and Kaine’s grief in a realistic manner,. Each person handles grief differently, the reaction and their feelings toward God is altered,  where some cleave to Him others distance themselves wondering how a loving God could let bad things happen. Both Ivy and Kaine’s struggles played out nicely here not in an overwhelming preachy manner but heartfelt and authentic. There is no set time period for grief and healing and that came out here.

All in all I think Jamie Jo Wright is off to a great start with this book, definitely looking forward to her new book out in June 2018.

Thank you to Bethany House (via Netgalley for an advanced copy of this book).


Sunday, December 3, 2017

Review/Giveaway: There is Always a Tomorrow by Anna Belfrage

There is Always a Tomorrow is the ninth book in Anna Belfrage’s time slip series featuring time traveller Alexandra Lind and her seventeenth century husband, Matthew Graham. 


It is 1692 and the Colony of Maryland is still adapting to the consequences of Coode’s Rebellion some years previously. Religious tolerance in the colony is now a thing of the past, but safe in their home, Alex and Matthew Graham have no reason to suspect they will become embroiled in the ongoing religious conflicts—until one of their sons betrays their friend Carlos Muñoz to the authorities. 


Matthew Graham does not leave his friends to rot—not even if they’re papist priests—so soon enough most of the Graham family is involved in a rescue attempt, desperate to save Carlos from a sentence that may well kill him. 


Meanwhile, in London little Rachel is going through hell. In a matter of months she loses everything, even her surname, as apparently her father is not Master Cooke but one Jacob Graham. Not that her paternity matters when her entire life implodes. Will Alex and Matthew be able to help their unknown grandchild? More importantly, will Rachel want their help?


Publication Date: November 5, 2017
Timelight Press
eBook & Paperback; ISBN: 9781788039666
Series: Graham Saga, Book #9
Genre: Historical Fiction/Time-Slip

*****


It is always a pleasure reading one of Anna Belfrage’s books. With book 8 (To Catch a Falling Star) in the series I thought that was the last of Matthew and Alex but alas book 9 was published earlier last month. 

Why do I enjoy this series so much? Well, there are many reasons, so in no particular order let’s start with the setting and time period. As a lover of historical fiction I love it when an author takes me back in time, where I can get a good feel of the era with the lifestyle, lay of the land and the political/religious tension in the air. Which is exactly what happened here. Not only am I entertained but educated at the same time, in this case as I was unaware of the religious strife that took place. 

Secondly, Alex and Matthew Graham, though it saddens me to say these are fictional characters, the author has made me care about them, they are an authentic family where life isn’t always kind. 

Thirdly, the author's writing, Anna Belfrage is one of my favourites, it isn’t hard for me to get lost in her books. I sit for a few minutes and then wham, it’s an hour later. 

In There is Always a Tomorrow, the family feels the betrayed by one of their own, they struggle to support friendships, heal over loses and welcome someone who doesn’t reciprocate . There is a lot going on in this book and with a brood of offspring it makes sense, but it isn’t done in an overwhelming way. While most of the story takes place in the US, with 2 sons and granddaughter in England the story weaves back and forth. 

Now the big question, will there be a book 10? While the ending was fitting with no cliffhangers I will admit to that there are a few lose ends that need to be tied up. If my feelings for the Grahams are like this I can assume the author’s is doubly so and she won’t leave things hanging when it comes to the offspring of Matthew and Alex. 

This one can work as a stand alone but I highly recommend starting at the beginning of this series with A Rip in the Veil. 

Thanks to Amy at HFVBT and Anna Belfrage for a copy of this book (which in no way influenced my opinion).

Amazon US | Amazon UK | Barnes & Noble | IndieBound




Anna was raised abroad, on a pungent mix of Latin American culture, English history and Swedish traditions. As a result she’s multilingual and most of her reading is historical- both non-fiction and fiction. Possessed of a lively imagination, she has drawers full of potential stories, all of them set in the past.

She was always going to be a writer – or a historian, preferably both. Ideally, Anna aspired to becoming a pioneer time traveller, but science has as yet not advanced to the point of making that possible. Instead she ended up with a degree in Business and Finance, with very little time to spare for her most favourite pursuit.

Still, one does as one must, and in between juggling a challenging career Anna raised her four children on a potent combination of invented stories, historical debates and masses of good food and homemade cakes. They seem to thrive…

 For years she combined a challenging career with four children and the odd snatched moment of writing. Nowadays Anna spends most of her spare time at her writing desk. The children are half grown, the house is at times eerily silent and she slips away into her imaginary world, with her imaginary characters. Every now and then the one and only man in her life pops his head in to ensure she’s still there.

 Other than on her website, www.annabelfrage.com, Anna can mostly be found on her blog, http://annabelfrage.wordpress.com – unless, of course, she is submerged in writing her next novel.

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

Giveaway

During the Blog Tour we will be giving away 2 ebook and 2 paperback copies of There is Always a Tomorrow!

To enter, please enter via the Gleam form below.



  There is Always a Tomorrow

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Spotlight/Giveaway: Isabella Unashamed by Helen R. Davis and Carolina Casas


Publication Date: September 7, 2017
Editorial Caliope
eBook & Paperback; 144 Pages
Genre: Historical Fiction/Alternate History

Isabella of Castile is known as Europe's first great queen. Renowned for her marriage to Ferdinand of Aragon and birthing of modern day Spain, Isabella is also known as the queen who launched the Inquisition, completed the Reconquista and expelled the Jews from her nation. Not long after her triumph in 1492, her dynasty came apart and unraveled, and it was whispered by many that the Trastamara line was cursed.

But, what if Isabella had been wiser and not expelled the Jews, some of the very people who ironically helped put her on the throne of Castile?

What if Isabella had had more foresight and had her successor be Catalina, who, although the youngest, was the most like her and the wisest of her children?

How would the power balance of 15th and 16th century Europe shifted if Catalina had been the powerful queen regnant of Spain and not one of the 'merry wives' of Windsor?

 A joint effort, Isabella Unashamed is written by two authors from very different cultural backgrounds who have nonetheless joined together to create a haunting portrait of Spain's most famous queen, as well as a glimpse of what might have been had Isabella been wiser.

Available in eBook and Paperback on Amazon


About the Authors

Helen R. Davis is an American author. Her first novel, Evita: My Argentina was previously published as Evita: My Life and republished with Custom Book Publications in Hong Kong. Her second novel, CLEOPATRA UNCONQUERED, which is the first in a series, imagines a world in which Antony and Cleopatra, rather than Augustus Caesar, are the victors of the Battle of Actium. the sequel, CLEOPATRA VICTORIOUS, will be released soon, followed by the titles CLEOPATRA MAGNIFICA and CLEOPATRA TRIUMPHANT.

 Her third novel, or at least, her third historical novel/alternate history, THE MOST HAPPY, will be published with Callipe Editorial, based out of Madrid Spain, on July 25th, 2017.


 For more information, please visit Helen Davis’ website.

You can also connect with her on Facebook and Twitter.

Carolina Casas has a BA in History and a minor in women's studies. Her debut novel "Isabella Unashamed" was co-written with the author of "Cleopatra Unconquered" & "The Most Happy", Helen R. Davis and it is a powerful alternative historical novel that asks the important question that has been on everyone's mind: what-if? What if Isabella had taken a different route than the one she did following the surrender of Granada at the beginning of 1492. A young woman who enjoys life and giving to others, she is also a self-proclaimed nerd who currently resides in the lone star state of Texas where she spends her free time writing, drawing, reading about her favorite historical subjects and watching classical horror and rom-coms with her friends. Carolina's journey into the realm of alternate history began when she was very little. After a frightful and sleepless night, she was introduced to the legend of King Arthur and his knights through Sir Thomas Mallory's epic "Le Morte d'Arthur" which started her fascination with the medieval period and later with other eras. This, along with her curiosity, has led her to delve into the realm of alternate history.

 Carolina has several pages on Facebook where she works alongside other history buffs and novelists (Tudor Nerds with Glasses and Tudor Facts vs. Fiction), as well as a history blog where she shares her thoughts on movies and TV shows as well.

 You can also find her on Twitter and Goodreads.


Giveaway

During the Blog Tour we will be giving away an eBook of Isabella Unashamed! To enter, please enter via the Gleam form below.

Giveaway Rules – Giveaway ends at 11:59pm EST on December 7th. You must be 18 or older to enter. – Giveaway is open INTERNATIONALLY. – 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.

  Isabella Unashamed

Monday, November 27, 2017

Coming Soon: As Bright as Heaven by Susan Meissner

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



 From the acclaimed author of Secrets of a Charmed Life and A Bridge Across the Ocean comes a new novel set in Philadelphia during the Spanish flu epidemic of 1918, which tells the story of a family reborn through loss and love. 

 In 1918, Philadelphia was a city teeming with promise. Even as its young men went off to fight in the Great War, there were opportunities for a fresh start on its cobblestone streets. Into this bustling town, came Pauline Bright and her husband, filled with hope that they could now give their three daughters—Evelyn, Maggie, and Willa—a chance at a better life.

 But just months after they arrive, the Spanish Flu reaches the shores of America. As the pandemic claims more than twelve thousand victims in their adopted city, they find their lives left with a world that looks nothing like the one they knew. But even as they lose loved ones, they take in a baby orphaned by the disease who becomes their single source of hope. Amidst the tragedy and challenges, they learn what they cannot live without—and what they are willing to do about it.

 As Bright as Heaven is the compelling story of a mother and her daughters who find themselves in a harsh world not of their making, which will either crush their resolve to survive or purify it.

Hardcover, 400 pages 
Expected publication: February 6th 2018 
by Berkley Books

Friday, November 24, 2017

Coming Soon: Next Year in Havana by Chanel Cleeton

As 2017 is closer to 2018, in the coming weeks I plan on sharing some of the books I am looking forward to reading in 2018.



After the death of her beloved grandmother, a Cuban-American woman travels to Havana, where she discovers the roots of her identity--and unearths a family secret hidden since the revolution...

Havana, 1958. The daughter of a sugar baron, nineteen-year-old Elisa Perez is part of Cuba's high society, where she is largely sheltered from the country's growing political unrest--until she embarks on a clandestine affair with a passionate revolutionary...

Miami, 2017. Freelance writer Marisol Ferrera grew up hearing romantic stories of Cuba from her late grandmother Elisa, who was forced to flee with her family during the revolution. Elisa's last wish was for Marisol to scatter her ashes in the country of her birth.

Arriving in Havana, Marisol comes face-to-face with the contrast of Cuba's tropical, timeless beauty and its perilous political climate. When more family history comes to light and Marisol finds herself attracted to a man with secrets of his own, she'll need the lessons of her grandmother's past to help her understand the true meaning of courage.

Paperback
 Expected publication: February 6th 2018 
by Penguin/Berkley

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

Excerpt

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.

Giveaway

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 elizabethjanecorbett.com.

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.

Giveaway

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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