Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Review: Bellewether by Susanna Kearsley

Some houses seem to want to hold their secrets.

It’s 1759 and the world is at war, pulling the North American colonies of Britain and France into the conflict. The times are complicated, as are the loyalties of many New York merchants who have secretly been trading with the French for years, defying Britain’s colonial laws in a game growing ever more treacherous.

When captured French officers are brought to Long Island to be billeted in private homes on their parole of honour, it upends the lives of the Wilde family—deeply involved in the treasonous trade and already divided by war.

Lydia Wilde, struggling to keep the peace in her fracturing family following her mother’s death, has little time or kindness to spare for her unwanted guests. French-Canadian lieutenant Jean-Philippe de Sabran has little desire to be there. But by the war’s end they’ll both learn love, honour, and duty can form tangled bonds that are not broken easily.

Their doomed romance becomes a local legend, told and re-told through the years until the present day, when conflict of a different kind brings Charley Van Hoek to Long Island to be the new curator of the Wilde House Museum.

Charley doesn’t believe in ghosts. But as she starts to delve into the history of Lydia and her French officer, it becomes clear that the Wilde House holds more than just secrets, and Charley discovers the legend might not have been telling the whole story...or the whole truth.

Kindle, 414 pages 
Published April 24th 2018 
by Simon & Schuster Canada
****

This is my 4th Susanna Kearsley book, she is a Canadian author and one of my favorites.  Her experience as a Museum curator and love of history is evident in her writing.  Her books have unique storylines with some romance and a touch of the supernatural mixed in.  I have yet to be disappointed in anything she has penned.

That being said I found Bellewether to be more of a quieter book, there isn't a lot of action, it's pacing was slow but still a story that kept my attention while peaking my interest into historic facts on both sides of the border.  Honestly I had never heard of the Seven Years War, billeted war prisoners or residential schools (that last one left me rather shocked). It's one of the reasons historical books are my go to, being educated at the same time as being entertained.

Bellewether is told from 3 different POV's, present day Charley and from 1759 we hear from Lydia and Jean Philippe.  It's always a treat hearing from the male characters, I feel it adds much to the story.  The romance part played out nicely with no 'insta love' and mushy 'best looking guy I've ever seen' comments, it was realistic and believable.

Bellewether is a story of war, grief, love, secrets, mystery, reconciliation and so much more.  Susanna Kearsley brings to light an era loosely based on her own family history, the author's notes are well worth reading with many book recommendation of further interest.

My thanks to the publisher (via Netgalley) for an advance earc in exchange for an honest review.

Monday, April 23, 2018

Spotlight/Giveaway: Madam of My Heart by Gini Grossenbacher


Publication Date: February 6, 2017
eBook & Paperback; 476 Pages
ISBN-13: 978-0998380605
Series: American Madams, #1
Genre: Historical Fiction/Victorian

Baltimore, 1849. During a scandalous crisis, the young Irish Brianna Baird flees her home at Fells Point. With little cash and only a seamstress's trade, she braves the hypnotic streets of New Orleans. The tantalizing Madam DeSalle lures her to her brothel, then sells her to the dashing but questionable gambler, Edward Spina, who falls in love with her. In a tawdry alliance with these two profiteers, Brianna embarks on a journey through the French Quarter's debauched and glittering Voodoo world. Facing the horrors of slavery, she triumphs by gaining freedom papers for her maid Emma's enslaved husband and son. Brianna and Edward escape with them to San Francisco. There she becomes one of the most sought after madams in the gold rush parlor house trade. But will her fame and pluck be enough to save Edward from the Vigilante noose? This is the first book in the American Madams series.

"A debut historical novel that chronicles the struggles, loves, and joys of an exceptional madam in 19th-century America. Grossenbacher's book, the first in a planned series, dramatizes the early life and busy career of a woman named Brianna Baird. Grossenbacher's prose is both graceful and inventive. She absorbingly limns the various cities Brianna inhabits, from New Orleans and its 'web of Creole cottages, chaotic marketplaces, and secretive balconies, simmering outside her window, ' to the rowdy atmosphere of frontier-era San Francisco. The occasional marvelous metaphor will surprise readers, as when 'the truth hit Brianna like a badly aimed bowling pin.' This isn't just a novel for lovers of history's more prurient corners; it's for everyone who likes well-deployed language and intense stories. A seamier side of American history, engagingly told through one woman's unexpected adventures." -Kirkus Reviews, A Recommended Review

Amazon | Barnes and Noble | IndieBound

California author Gini Grossenbacher was a successful high school English teacher until she abandoned grades and term papers, choosing to write historical novels instead. Now she leads small writing groups and coaches other writers. She loves researching the history behind her novels, and enjoys traveling to the setting where they take place. Her hobbies include needlepoint, nature walks, and Scrabble. She lives in the Sacramento Valley where she grew up, east of San Francisco.

For more information, please visit Gini's website.

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


Giveaway

During the Blog Tour we will be giving away two copies of Madam of My Heart! To enter, please enter via the Gleam form below.

  Giveaway Rules – Giveaway ends at 11:59pm EST on April 30th. You must be 18 or older to enter. – Giveaway is open to US residents only. – Only one entry per household.
– Winner has 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.

  Madam of My Heart

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Thursday, April 19, 2018

Audio Review: Silent in the Grave (Lady Julia Grey #1) by Deanna Raybourn

"LET THE WICKED BE ASHAMED, AND LET THEM BE SILENT IN THE GRAVE." 

These ominous words, slashed from the pages of a book of Psalms, are the last threat that the darling of London society, Sir Edward Grey, receives from his killer. Before he can show them to Nicholas Brisbane, the private inquiry agent he has retained for his protection, Sir Edward collapses and dies at his London home, in the presence of his wife, Julia, and a roomful of dinner guests. Prepared to accept that Edward's death was due to a long-standing physical infirmity, Julia is outraged when Brisbane visits and suggests that Sir Edward has been murdered. It is a reaction she comes to regret when she discovers the damning paper for herself, and realizes the truth.

Determined to bring her husband's murderer to justice, Julia engages the enigmatic Brisbane to help her investigate Edward's demise. Dismissing his warnings that the investigation will be difficult, if not impossible, Julia presses forward, following a trail of clues that lead her to even more unpleasant truths, and ever closer to a killer who waits expectantly for her arrival.

 Audible Audio, Unabridged
13 hours, 2 minutes
Published January 5th 2007
by Harlequin Enterprises, Ltd.
****

I am a big fan of Deanna Raybourn's Victoria Speedwell series, I love Victoria, the intricate mysteries and the writing.  My fear with starting this series was how similar these 2 characters would be and if all the hype about Lady Julia Grey put my expectation level on an elevated path.

I went with the audio version for this one, Ellen Archer is the reader and did a great job.  Not all books work in audio format but this one did.

I've heard about the opening line of Silent in the Grave and  also think it sets the tone and gets this book off to a roaring start.
"To say that I met Nicholas Brisbane over my husband's dead body is not entirely accurate. Edward, it should be noted, was still twitching upon the floor."
This isn't a cozy mystery, coming in between 440-509 pages (depending on what version you read) leaves plenty of room to get to know Julia, Brisbane and of course Edward.  There are many layers here that kept me dawning my sleuth hat as I endeavored to solve the crime before Julia did.  Though I found it dragged somewhat in the middle it kept me captivated, curious as to the direction it was heading.  As the mystery twisted and turned, with the right amount of wit it came to a satisfying ending.  Definitely a series I will continue to read.

As you can see I am a big fan, clicking on the covers will take you to my review.  I just love the covers for the Victoria Speedwell Series!






Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Review: We Own the Sky by Luke Allnutt

“We looked down at the cliff jutting into the sea, a rubber boat full of kids going under the arch, and then you started running and jumping through the grass, dodging the rabbit holes, shouting at the top of your voice, so I started chasing you, trying to catch you, and we were laughing so hard as we ran and ran, kicking up rainbow showers in the leaves.”

 Rob Coates feels like he’s won the lottery of life. There is Anna, his incredible wife, their London town house and, most precious of all, Jack, their son, who makes every day an extraordinary adventure. But when a devastating illness befalls his family, Rob’s world begins to unravel. Suddenly finding himself alone, Rob seeks solace in photographing the skyscrapers and clifftops he and his son Jack used to visit. And just when it seems that all hope is lost, Rob embarks on the most unforgettable of journeys to find his way back to life, and forgiveness.

 We Own the Sky is a tender, heartrending, but ultimately life-affirming novel that will resonate deeply with anyone who has suffered loss or experienced great love. With stunning eloquence and acumen, Luke Allnutt has penned a soaring debut and a true testament to the power of love, showing how even the most thoroughly broken heart can learn to beat again.

Kindle Edition, 368 pages
Published April 1st 2018
 by Park Row
****

We Own the Sky starts with a note from the author, why he wrote this book.
"At its core, the story is about the love between father and son.  It's about how even when our lives are torn apart, there is always hope.  It's about what we cling to when we have nothing left." 
This is one book that will stay with me for a long time.  It's a parents worst nightmare and for this reader it hits close to home, I think that is why some books resonate more with some.  When you can (and have felt) the same wide range of emotions the characters and circumstances become real. 

Told from the POV of Rob this is his journey from love and loss to despair and healing. Though it might have been nice to hear from his wife, it was his journey.  It is well written and nice to get a male perspective for a change.  The synopsis above outlines nicely the book and I struggle with saying too much.  The author used his our experience with hospitals and illness to write an authentic story.  It's a sad reminder that life is precious and can change so quickly.

Thank you to TLC Tours for the opportunity to be part of this blog tour.


Purchase Links 



Luke Allnutt grew up in the U.K. and lives and works in Prague.


Connect with Luke 

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Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Review: Come from Away by Genevieve Graham

From the bestselling author of Tides of Honour and Promises to Keep comes a poignant novel about a young couple caught on opposite sides of the Second World War.

 In the fall of 1939, Grace Baker’s three brothers, sharp and proud in their uniforms, board Canadian ships headed for a faraway war. Grace stays behind, tending to the homefront and the general store that helps keep her small Nova Scotian community running. The war, everyone says, will be over before it starts. But three years later, the fighting rages on and rumours swirl about “wolf packs” of German U-Boats lurking in the deep waters along the shores of East Jeddore, a stone’s throw from Grace’s window. As the harsh realities of war come closer to home, Grace buries herself in her work at the store.

 Then, one day, a handsome stranger ventures into the store. He claims to be a trapper come from away, and as Grace gets to know him, she becomes enamoured by his gentle smile and thoughtful ways. But after a several weeks, she discovers that Rudi, her mysterious visitor, is not the lonely outsider he appears to be, but someone else entirely—someone not to be trusted. When a shocking truth about her family forces Grace to question everything she has so strongly believed, she realizes that she and Rudi have more in common than she had thought. And if Grace is to have a chance at love, she must not only choose a side, but take a stand.

 Come from Away is a mesmerizing story of love, shifting allegiances, and second chances, set against the tumultuous years of the Second World War.

Kindle, 352 pages 
Expected publication: April 24th 2018 
by Simon & Schuster
****1/2

I have read many books on both World Wars but never with Canada as the location, in fact finding any Canadian historical fiction is scarce.  Genevieve Graham lives on the East coast of Canada and her passion and knowledge of the history of that location shines through in her books.  This is my third book and again I knew it would be a treat to read.

Even though this story began in Tides of Honour,  it is a standalone - but I still recommend reading her other works.  Where Tides took place during World War One, Come from Away takes places during the Second World War.

I was educated reading this one, knowing nothing of the German U-boats off the east coast of Canada and the impact it had on the residents. This story revolves around the POV's of both Rudi and Grace, allowing me to get inside their heads and feel the struggles they were going through, not just the internal but with those involving others.  The war put everyone on edge and friendships would naturally be put to the test. The author clearly showed the effects this war had on those that survived, both those with seen and unseen wounds.

Come from Away is a story of hope, second chances, and healing.  It is vividly written clearly showing the effects this war had on Canadians on Canadian soil, it was a refreshing change of location and one I enjoyed.  There are some lovely Author's Notes/Q & A at the end that just finished this book off nicely.

Thank you to the publisher (via Netgalley) for an advanced copy of Come from Away.


Monday, April 16, 2018

Spotlight: The Elizas by Sara Shepard

Hardcover, 352 pages 
Expected publication: April 17th 2018 
by Atria Books

New York Times bestselling author of Pretty Little Liars Sara Shepard makes her mark on adult fiction with this Hitchcockian double narrative composed of lies, false memories, and a protagonist who must uncover the truth for survival.

 When debut novelist Eliza Fontaine is found at the bottom of a hotel pool, her family at first assumes that it’s just another failed suicide attempt. But Eliza swears she was pushed, and her rescuer is the only witness.

 Desperate to find out who attacked her, Eliza takes it upon herself to investigate. But as the publication date for her novel draws closer, Eliza finds more questions than answers. Like why are her editor, agent, and family mixing up events from her novel with events from her life? Her novel is completely fictional, isn’t it?

 The deeper Eliza goes into her investigation while struggling with memory loss, the closer her life starts to resemble her novel, until the line between reality and fiction starts to blur and she can no longer tell where her protagonist’s life ends and hers begins.

 Fans of Pretty Little Liars, S.J. Watson’s Before I Go to Sleep, and Ruth Ware’s The Woman in Cabin 10 will be drawn to the drama of feeling like no one is on your side, the high tension of not knowing who you can trust, the hair-raising truths hidden among lies, and a faceless, nameless presence controlling Eliza’s life from the shadows.

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Review: Then She Was Gone by Lisa Jewell

Ten years after her teenage daughter disappears, a woman crosses paths with a charming single father whose young child feels eerily familiar, in this evocative, suspenseful drama from New York Times bestselling author Lisa Jewell.

 Ellie Mack was the perfect daughter. She was fifteen, the youngest of three. She was beloved by her parents, friends, and teachers. She and her boyfriend made a teenaged golden couple. She was days away from an idyllic post-exams summer vacation, with her whole life ahead of her.

 And then she was gone.

 Now, her mother Laurel Mack is trying to put her life back together. It’s been ten years since her daughter disappeared, seven years since her marriage ended, and only months since the last clue in Ellie’s case was unearthed. So when she meets an unexpectedly charming man in a café, no one is more surprised than Laurel at how quickly their flirtation develops into something deeper. Before she knows it, she’s meeting Floyd’s daughters—and his youngest, Poppy, takes Laurel’s breath away.

 Because looking at Poppy is like looking at Ellie. And now, the unanswered questions she’s tried so hard to put to rest begin to haunt Laurel anew. Where did Ellie go? Did she really run away from home, as the police have long suspected, or was there a more sinister reason for her disappearance? Who is Floyd, really? And why does his daughter remind Laurel so viscerally of her own missing girl?

Kindle Edition, 368 pages
 Expected publication: April 24th 2018
 by Atria Books
*****

Well that was one humdinger of a story!  I read this in just over a day, once hitting the half way mark I knew someone else had to cook supper last night. 

I was draw right in here, it's every parents worst nightmare - that of losing a child. When there is no closure just existing as time speeds by wondering, hoping for a miracle.  With this story alternating in points of view gave me different  perspectives, getting to know the characters better.  The characters are flawed and believable, the story was engrossing and kept me flipping the screen.  The chapters weren't overly long, hence just one more chapter and before I knew I was too absorbed to slow down.

Then She Was Gone is more than a story of Ellie's disappearance, it's about mental health, insecurity and forgiveness. Written with feeling I couldn't help but feel Laurel's pain and heartache. The author's writing style is one I enjoyed, as the plot flowed and the voices changed it was done smoothly not disrupting the energy of the story.

Lisa Jewell is not a new author to me, I enjoyed I Found You and look forward to searching out more of her books.

Thanks to the publisher (via Netgalley) for an advanced copy of Then She Was Gone, which releases on the 17th of April.





Monday, April 9, 2018

Review/Giveaway: 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.

 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…

 ebook, 672 pages
Published April 3rd 2018
by William Morrow Paperbacks
*****

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

      

Historical fiction is my favorite genre to read, especially when encountering a time period and with characters I am unfamiliar with, the hype of Hamilton on Broadway is pretty much how I am familiar with the name. Given how much I enjoyed America‘s First Daughter it was a given that I would continue reading anything by these two talented ladies. 

I follow both Stephanie Dray and Laura Kamoie on various social media sites and know of research trips and their dedication to Eliza Hamilton, excitement abounded when asked if I’d be part of this tour. 

My Dear Hamilton is an epic sized book coming in at almost 700 pages and the perfect size to get totally lost in. The book opens with an elderly Eliza as she begins to tell her story. It’s an amazing journey and told with courage and grace. What a life she led and for this Canadian I loved learning of the founding fathers, so many characters I was surprised to meet (but given the time period, I shouldn’t have been), Washington, Arnold, Monroe, Madison and more. Between the political strife and their marriage My Dear Hamilton is a story of love, betrayal, scandal, treason, war and so much more. It is beautifully written and clearly portrays the time and a woman who endures so much. There is very little history of Eliza documented and the authors have done a wonderful job creating her life based on Alexander’s letters and such. 

There are some serious author notes here, I mean pages and pages of them and I loved it. It’s the perfect finishing touch.    



 ✭✭ ORDER MY DEAR HAMILTON TODAY✭✭✭

Amazon | B&N | GooglePlay | iBooks | Kobo | Autographed Paperback

Add to Your Goodreads

     

  About Stephanie Dray: Stephanie Dray is a New York Times bestselling author of historical women’s fiction. Her award-winning work has been translated into multiple languages, illuminating women of the past so as to inspire the women of today. She is a frequent panelist and presenter at national writing conventions and lives near the nation’s capital.      

Stephanie Dray Website |Newsletter | Facebook |Twitter | Dray & Kamoie Website




About Laura Kamoie: Laura Kamoieis a New York Times bestselling author of historical fiction, and the author of two nonfiction books on early American history. Until recently, she held the position of Associate Professor of History at the U.S. Naval Academy before transitioning to a full-time career writing genre fiction under the name Laura Kaye, also a New York Times bestselling author of more than thirty novels.
        


Stephanie Dray & Laura Kamoie’s MY DEAR HAMILTON – Blog Tour Schedule:
April 2nd
Books A-Brewin' – Excerpt
My Girlfriends Couch – Excerpt
April 3rd
My Book Snack – Review & Excerpt
Smexy& Fabulous – Excerpt
April 4th
Always a happy ever after –Review & Excerpt
Ficwishes – Excerpt
Quirky Lady Bookworm Reviews – Review & Excerpt
SJAT's Books and More – Review & Interview
April 5th
Hearts & Scribbles – Excerpt
Literature Goals – Excerpt
April 6th
Books After Fifty – Excerpt
History Undressed – Review & Excerpt
Under the Covers Book Blog – Review & Excerpt
True Book Addict – Excerpt
Zili in the Sky – Excerpt
April 7th
3 Degrees of Fiction Book Blog – Review & Excerpt
Evermore Books – Excerpt
KDRBCK – Review & Excerpt
April 8th
BookCrushin – Interview
Liz's Reading Life – Excerpt
Vagabonda Reads – Review & Excerpt
April 9th
Book Bug Blog – Review & Excerpt
Devilishly Delicious Book Reviews – Review & Excerpt
Read-Love-Blog – Excerpt
April 10th
Miss Riki – Review & Excerpt
My Fictional Escape – Review & Excerpt
Oh, for the Hook of a Book – Review & Interview
April 11th
Sofia Loves Books – Review & Excerpt
April 12th
Denny S. Bryce – Review & Excerpt
Good Drunkard – Review & Excerpt
Ruth Downie – Interview
Margie's Must Reads – Excerpt
April 13th
A Bookaholic Swede – Review
Creating Herstory – Review & Interview
Historical Fiction Reviews – Review & Excerpt
April 14th
Book Nook Nuts – Excerpt
Deluged with Books Cafe – Review & Excerpt
Leigh Anderson – Review
Nerdy Soul – Review & Excerpt
Teatime and Books – Excerpt
Two Girls with Books – Review & Excerpt




Saturday, April 7, 2018

Audio Review: Every Note Played by Lisa Genova

A virtuoso performance by the New York Times bestselling author of Still Alice, Lisa Genova brings her signature “gut-wrenching and memorable” (Library Journal, starred review on Inside the O’Briens) prose to this stunning novel about finding harmony amidst the most tragic of situations.

 Richard, an accomplished concert pianist, has already suffered many losses in his life: the acrimonious divorce from his ex-wife, Karina; the estrangement of his daughter, Grace; and now, a devastating diagnosis: ALS, a degenerative neurological disorder also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.

 The relentlessly progressive paralysis of ALS begins in the cruelest way possible—in his hands. As Richard becomes more and more locked inside his body and can no longer play piano or live on his own, Karina steps in as his reluctant caregiver. Paralyzed in a different way, Karina is trapped within a prison of excuses and blame, stuck in an unfulfilling life as an after-school piano teacher, afraid to pursue the path she abandoned as a young woman. As Richard’s muscles, voice, and breath fade, the two struggle to reconcile their past before it’s too late.

 Poignant, powerful, and with the staggering insight of Jojo Moyes’s Me Before You, Lisa Genova does for ALS “what Still Alice did for Alzheimer’s” (Huffington Post) and delivers a masterful exploration of what it means to find yourself within the most shattering of circumstances.

 Published March 20th 2018
by Simon Schuster Audio
Scribd - 8 hours 2 minutes
Dennis Boutsikaris (narrator), Dagmara Domińczyk (narrator)
*****

Lisa Genova is known for her emotional, medical stories that pull at the heartstrings. I still think about Still Alice and I read that when it first came out.

 While her last book didn’t really float my boat I knew this one would, for a number of reasons. I’ve been in the role of caregiver in the past so I could empathize here and was prepared for it to hit close to home.  As well as knowing two lovely women that were stricken with ALS, it’s a terrible disease and this book really brings to light its horrific progression.

Told from the POV of both Richard and Karina was what made this a totally authentic and emotional read.  The author didn't hold back as she described the progression of ALS, it is blatantly obvious the amount of research that went into Every Note Played and while at times the symptoms were told matter of factly it wasn't in a clinical unfeeling manner but with compassion and respect.  Even at the end in the author's notes Genova talks about those she knew and lost to ALS, her research and even how to help, making this book all the more gripping.

The audio version was great and I highly recommend it, it was addictive and another Lisa Genova that will stay with me.

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Review: Hurricane Season by Lauren K. Denton

Betsy and Ty Franklin, owners of Franklin Dairy Farm in southern Alabama, have decided to put life’s disappointments behind them. At least in theory. Ty manages their herd of dairy cows, while Betsy busies herself with the farm’s day-to-day operations and tries to forget the longing for motherhood set deep in her heart. But when Betsy’s free-spirited younger sister Jenna drops her young daughters off at the farm to attend a two-week art retreat in Florida, Betsy’s carefully constructed wall of self-protection begins to crumble.

 As those two weeks stretch much farther into the hot Alabama summer, Betsy and Ty learn to navigate the new additions in their world and revel in a home that’s suddenly filled with the sound of laughter and life. Meanwhile, record heat promises to usher in the most active hurricane season in decades.

 Four hundred miles away, Jenna is fighting her own battles. She’d once been free to travel and pursue a career in photography, but all that changed with the appearance of two pink lines on a plastic stick and a boyfriend who hit the road. At Halcyon art retreat, she finally has the time and energy to focus on her photography. As the summer continues, she wonders how her rediscovered passion can fit in with the life she’s made back home with her two children.

 When Hurricane Ingrid aims her steady eye at the Alabama coast, Jenna must make a decision that could affect both her and her children’s futures, and Betsy and Ty find themselves protecting their beloved farm as well as their own hearts.

Paperback, 352 pages
 Published April 3rd 2018
by Thomas Nelson
****


Hurricane Season is the journey of Betsy and Jenna, two sisters with different lifestyles but similar in many ways.

Some may find the pacing of this book slow and there is not a lot of action but sometimes you just need a quiet book with a good story highlighting internal struggles that are all too common these days.  Yes I will admit to skimming over a few repetitive parts but all in all I enjoyed reading this book. With each chapter alternating between the characters (also Ty's voice is thrown in a few times) it was easy to get to know these women with their struggles, confusion and feelings - of the past, present and future.

Hurricane Season is a story of self discovery, forgiveness and the bond between two sisters. The ending might have felt a little bit rushed but it’s a story I would love to visit again in five or 10 years to see what happens.

Thank you to the publisher via net galley for an advance copy and TLC tours for the opportunity to be part of this blog tour.
 Purchase Links

Born and raised in Mobile, Alabama, Lauren K. Denton now lives with her husband and two daughters in Homewood, just outside Birmingham.

In addition to her fiction, she writes a monthly newspaper column about life, faith, and how funny (and hard) it is to be a parent. On any given day, she’d rather be at the beach with her family and a stack of books.

 Connect with Lauren 


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Monday, April 2, 2018

Review: The Room on Rue Amélie by Kristin Harmel

For fans of Kristin Hannah’s The Nightingale and Martha Hall Kelly’s Lilac Girls, this powerful novel of fate, resistance, and family—by the international bestselling author of The Sweetness of Forgetting and When We Meet Again—tells the tale of an American woman, a British RAF pilot, and a young Jewish teenager whose lives intersect in occupied Paris during the tumultuous days of World War II. When newlywed Ruby Henderson Benoit arrives in Paris in 1939 with her French husband Marcel, she imagines strolling arm in arm along the grand boulevards, awash in the golden afternoon light. But war is looming on the horizon, and as France falls to the Nazis, her marriage begins to splinter, too.

 Charlotte Dacher is eleven when the Germans roll into the French capital, their sinister swastika flags snapping in the breeze. After the Jewish restrictions take effect and Jews are ordered to wear the yellow star, Charlotte can’t imagine things getting much worse. But then the mass deportations begin, and her life is ripped forever apart.

 Thomas Clarke joins the British Royal Air Force to protect his country, but when his beloved mother dies in a German bombing during the waning days of the Blitz, he wonders if he’s really making a difference. Then he finds himself in Paris, in the shadow of the Eiffel Tower, and he discovers a new reason to keep fighting—and an unexpected road home.

 When fate brings them together, Ruby, Charlotte, and Thomas must summon the courage to defy the Nazis—and to open their own broken hearts—as they fight to survive. Rich with historical drama and emotional depth, this is an unforgettable story that will stay with you long after the final page is turned.

Kindle, 400 pages
Published March 27th 2018
by Gallery Books
***

This book had me at 'for fans of The Nightingale and The Lilac Girls', everything after that was a blur - I loved both of those books.  With that kind of endorsement my expectation level was elevated. 

The synopsis above doesn’t hold back much telling what this book is about, I'll confess to not being a huge fan of long synopsis's like that, there is too much of a risk of spoilers and the unveiling of storylines I would rather discover for myself. 

The Room on Rue Amelie felt like more of a love story with the war as the backdrop. Well I enjoyed this book I felt that it was lacking the depth it needed to complete on the scale with The Nightingale. With so many glowing reviews I wondered what I was missing, but rather struggled to connect with the characters and found some situations hard to swallow.  It was still an interesting read and I could tell that the author did a lot of research here.  World War 2 in Paris is always heartbreaking to read about and I love to hear about those who did all they could to be part of the resistance.

My thanks to the publisher (via Netgalley) for an advanced copy of this ebook.

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Review: Judah's Wife: A Novel of the Maccabees (The Silent Years #2) by Angela Elwell Hunt

 Seeking peace and safety after a hard childhood, Leah marries Judah, a strong and gentle man, and for the first time in her life Leah believes she can rest easily. But the land is ruled by Antiochus IV, descended from one of Alexander the Great's generals, and when he issues a decree that all Jews are to conform to Syrian laws upon pain of death, devout Jews risk everything to follow the law of Moses.

Judah's father resists the decree, igniting a war that will cost him his life. But before dying, he commands his son to pick up his sword and continue the fight--or bear responsibility for the obliteration of the land of Judah. Leah, who wants nothing but peace, struggles with her husband's decision--what kind of God would destroy the peace she has sought for so long?

The miraculous story of the courageous Maccabees is told through the eyes of Judah's wife, who learns that love requires courage . . . and sacrifice.

Paperback, 384 pages
Published January 2nd 2018
by Bethany House Publishers
***

Told with alternating points of view, Judah's Wife is a story of the silent years between the Old and New Testaments, Malachi and Matthew.  The Maccabees is a name I have heard of but know nothing about and that's what I love about reading historical fiction - digging into the past in an informative and entertaining manner.  Discovering a new author along the way is also great.

Angela Hunt has written an emotional story about a young woman named Leah.  Growing up in an abusive home she longs for peace and in her marriage she might just have found that.  But it's short lived, bringing back memories and fears for the future. 

Judah wants nothing more than to please his wife but his father's dying wish takes him in a different direction.

Getting a view from both Leah and Judah gave me a real sense of the times and what the Jews endured.  Judah's Wife is well researched, it's a book about forgiveness, courage and devotion. Fans of Bibical fiction will enjoy this one.


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

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Spotlight/Giveaway: Light of the Northern Dancers by Robin F. Gainey


Publication Date: November 7, 2017
Untreed Reads Publishing
Hardcover, Paperback, & eBook; 396 Pages
Genre: Historical Fiction

Fiery aristocrat, Eden Rose, uprooted from her native Scotland, has tended a foundering marriage and failing ranch at the corner of Crazy Woman Creek and the Powder River for a decade. Best friend, backwoods spitfire Maddie True, has her own woes a few miles away: widowed with a passel of young children, and caretaker to her addled father. Abandoned by her husband during the height of Wyoming Territory’s worst drought in history, Eden depends on her inept brother, Aiden, to see her through the coming winter. But when he disappears into the wild Bighorn mountains, she shuns Maddie’s fearful cautions, teaming with enigmatic Lakota holy man, Intah, to find her brother before the wicked snow holds them all hostage.

 Light of the Northern Dancers is optioned and currently in development for a limited television series.


Amazon | Barnes and Noble | IndieBound


Praise

“Light of the Northern Dancers is a powerful novel of a woman’s journey, thought-provoking and unsettling in its authenticity and unflinching honesty. Its exploration of the depths of heartbreak is unblinking, yet ultimately, this is a celebration of joy, possibility, and transformation. Robin Gainey’s writing illuminates the past in all its brutality and beauty, and the humanity that binds us all together. This story underscores the power of endurance to heal and inspire hope. An unforgettable read that will live in your heart long after the final page is turned.” —Susan Wiggs, NYT Bestselling Author 

“Half of what happens to us may have reason, the rest is chaos. Somewhere down the line, chaos itself may find reason, as Nietzsche said, That which doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger. Robin F. Gainey’s second novel, LIGHT OF THE NORTHERN DANCERS, has this brand of existentialism. It’s real and it doesn’t let go!” — Tom Skerritt, Award Winning Actor, Writer, Director

“Brutal and beautiful, unflinching and hopeful, Robin Gainey’s LIGHT OF THE NORTHERN DANCERS reveals the triumphs and hardships of pioneer life in the Wyoming Territory in a powerful story of two women surviving against all odds. Gainey’s prose is as lush as her story is gripping—a literary page turner!”— Lisa Alber, award-winning author of Whispers in the Mist and Path Into Darkness



Robin F. Gainey partnered in creating California’s Gainey Vineyard; presided over their culinary programs; and, with Julia Child, founded Santa Barbara’s American Institute of Wine and Food. She also oversaw the breeding and showing of champion Arabian Horses begun by the Gainey Family in 1939. She’s lived in California, Colorado, Washington, and Rome, Italy. She returned to her hometown, Seattle, to find her heart in writing. Active trustee of the acclaimed, Pacific Northwest Ballet, she enjoys reading, cooking, horseback riding, skiing any mountain, and spending three months every year cruising the wild Canadian Inside Passage aboard her boat—mostly alone. Light of the Northern Dancers, her second novel, is optioned and in development for a limited TV series.

For more information, please visit Robin F. Gainey's website.

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


Giveaway


During the Blog Tour we will be giving away two eBooks of Light of the Northern Dancers by Robin F. Gainey! To enter, please enter via the Gleam form below. Giveaway Rules – Giveaway ends at 11:59pm EST on April 20th. You must be 18 or older to enter. – Giveaway is open to US residents only. – Only one entry per household. – All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspect of fraud is decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion. – Winner has 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.

  Light of the Northern Dancers Blog Tour

Monday, March 26, 2018

Review: The Cold Light of Dawn by Anna Belfrage


After Henry of Lancaster’s rebellion has been crushed early in 1329, a restless peace settles over England. However, the young Edward III is no longer content with being his regents’ puppet, no matter that neither Queen Isabella nor Roger Mortimer show any inclination to give up their power. Caught in between is Adam de Guirande, torn between his loyalty to the young king and that to his former lord, Roger Mortimer.  

Edward III is growing up fast. No longer a boy to be manipulated, he resents the power of his mother, Queen Isabella, and Mortimer. His regents show little inclination of handing over their power to him, the rightful king, and Edward suspects they never will unless he forces their hand.

Adam de Guirande is first and foremost Edward’s man, and he too is of the opinion that the young king is capable of ruling on his own. But for Adam siding with his king causes heartache, as he still loves Roger Mortimer, the man who shaped him into who he is.

Inevitably, Edward and his regents march towards a final confrontation. And there is nothing Adam can do but pray and hope that somehow things will work out. Unfortunately, prayers don’t always help.

The Cold Light of Dawn is the fourth in Anna Belfrage’s series, The King’s Greatest Enemy, the story of a man torn apart by his loyalties to his lord and his king.

Publication Date: February 16, 2018
Matador & TimeLight Press
eBook & Paperback; 434 Pages
Series: The King's Greatest Enemy, Book #4
Genre: Historical Fiction

*****

Anna Belfrage is a very talented author, she is one of my favorites for so many reasons,  I wish more people knew about her and her two wonderful series, The King's Greatest Enemy and The Graham Saga.  She can draw a reader right in and not let go until the final pages, even the Author's Note hold my attention.

  The Cold Light of Dawn is the fourth book in the King's Greatest Enemy Series, my understanding was that this would be the final one, but while it concluded nicely this reader would like the series to continue, I've connected with the characters and would love to see what life has in store.  

Anna has created characters here and put them in a time when there is unrest in England and has made me care about them, actually wishing that they were real historical figures. It’s the timeperiod when Edward III wears the crown but the country really seems to be ruled by his mother Queen Isabella and her lover Roger Mortimer.  Coming in at 593 pages and, with great attention to detail  there is so much depth here that it wasn’t hard to be totally captivated and the hours just whizzed by.  

There is a lot of activity taking place, whether it's between Kit and Adam, Edward III and his wife Philippa and of course Queen Isabella and Mortimer, that revolve around real historical events. The ending wasn’t a real surprise and honestly I was hoping for a different outcome but alas you can’t change history.  It's evident that not just a lot of research went into this series but also emotion, you can feel the author's passion in her writing.

If I made repeat myself, this is a wonderful series, it's best to start at the beginning with In the Shadow of the Storm and continue on. Trust me, if you are a lover of historical fiction then this is a series for you.

Amazon US | Amazon UK | Barnes and Noble


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 a complete set of The King's Greatest Enemy series to one winner & two winners will win a paperback copy of The Cold Light of Dawn!

To enter, please enter via the Gleam form below.

  Giveaway Rules – Giveaway ends at 11:59pm EST on March 30th. You must be 18 or older to enter. – Giveaway is open INTERNATIONALLY. –


  The Cold Light of Dawn


click on banner for more stops on this tour

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Excerpt: We Own the Sky by Luke Allnutt

“We looked down at the cliff jutting into the sea, a rubber boat full of kids going under the arch, and then you started running and jumping through the grass, dodging the rabbit holes, shouting at the top of your voice, so I started chasing you, trying to catch you, and we were laughing so hard as we ran and ran, kicking up rainbow showers in the leaves.”

 Rob Coates feels like he’s won the lottery of life. There is Anna, his incredible wife, their London town house and, most precious of all, Jack, their son, who makes every day an extraordinary adventure. But when a devastating illness befalls his family, Rob’s world begins to unravel. Suddenly finding himself alone, Rob seeks solace in photographing the skyscrapers and clifftops he and his son Jack used to visit. And just when it seems that all hope is lost, Rob embarks on the most unforgettable of journeys to find his way back to life, and forgiveness.

 We Own the Sky is a tender, heartrending, but ultimately life-affirming novel that will resonate deeply with anyone who has suffered loss or experienced great love. With stunning eloquence and acumen, Luke Allnutt has penned a soaring debut and a true testament to the power of love, showing how even the most thoroughly broken heart can learn to beat again.

 Hardcover, 368 pages 
Expected publication: April 3rd 2018
 by Park Row

Excerpt

CHAPTER TWO

 “Anna, can you talk, you’re not gonna fucking believe this.” I was standing outside a meeting room in an office on Old Street.

 “Is everything all right?” she said.

I was trying to keep my voice down as the corridor walls were thin. “They want it. The software. They want to buy the fucking software.”

 A pause, a faint crackle on the line.

 “This isn’t one of your jokes, is it, Rob?” Anna said.

 “No, not at all. I can’t talk for long, but they’re in the room now, looking at the papers. I didn’t even have to pitch it. They just want it. They get it.”

The company, Simtech, had been recommended by a pro¬grammer friend. A start-up run by someone called Scott, who had been a few years ahead of me at Cambridge.

 “That’s absolutely fantastic, Rob. Brilliant news,” she said, but it was as if she was waiting for me to tell her something else.

“And guess how much they want to pay for it?”

 “I don’t know, um…”

“One and a half million.”

 Even Anna couldn’t contain her excitement. “As in sterling?”

“Yes, pounds. I still can’t believe it.”

 Anna took a deep breath, and I could hear a shuffling sound, what sounded like her blowing her nose.

 “Anna, are you okay?”

 “Yes,” she said, sniffing a little. “I just… I just don’t know what to say…”

 “I know, me too. We have to celebrate tonight.”

 “Yes, of course,” she said, a note of caution in her voice. “I don’t understand, though. So what actually happened? What did they…”

 I could hear the scraping of chairs on the floor of the meet¬ing room, the sound of people standing up.

 “Anna, I’ve got to go, I’ll call you in a bit…”

 “Okay,” she said, “but don’t do anything hasty, Rob. Don’t sign anything, okay? Say you need to discuss everything with your lawyers.”

 “Yeah, yeah… I’ve got…

“I’m serious, Rob…”

 “Okay, Okay, don’t worry. I’ll call you later…”



 The grimy heat hit me as soon as I left the building. For a moment, I just stood, blinking into the sunlight, watching the lanes of traffic hurtle around the roundabout, the happy, dirty din of London.

The last nine months hadn’t been easy. Living in Clapham in a rented ground-floor flat that Anna paid for. While I worked late through the night—caffeine-fueled coding binges—Anna got up early for work. We didn’t see much of each other, a wave in our bathrobes on the landing—her getting up, me turning in. It was just for a while, we agreed. It would be better when her training period was over, when I had finished writing my software.

 Anna loved her job, working in a department that audited the bank’s adherence to financial regulations. It was perfect for her: a stickler for the rules, she knew where the bank could trip up. And because she knew the rules, she also knew how to get around them, the legal shortcuts and backdoors, the get-out clauses that lurked in the small print. Her talents were recog¬nized, and she was promoted and fast-tracked for management in just her first six months.

I was still buzzing and didn’t know what to do with myself, so I started walking toward Liverpool Street, the skyscrap¬ers eclipsing the sun. I tried to call Anna but her phone was switched off, so I ducked into a pub for a beer.

I knew I was right. All those twenty- and thirty-hour cod¬ing sessions, sleeping under an old blanket on the floor. I told people smartphones would change everything, and they rolled their eyes. But it was true. Maps used to be static, something we kept folded up in a backpack, or in the glove compartment of the car. Now they would always be with us, customized, dynamic, on our phones, in our pockets.

The beer began to have a calming effect, and it felt like a great weight had been lifted. It hadn’t been the plan—Anna paying the rent and lending me the money to buy a new suit. She didn’t say it outright, but I knew what she thought. That I should do a business course, an internship at a gaming company, that I should put my silly maps idea on the backburner for now.

 It grated. Because everyone always thought that it would be me, that I would be the precocious wunderkind dripping in cash. Because I had a track record. I told people I would grad¬uate at the top of my class—and I did. I told my disbelieving tutors I would win the annual Cambridge hacking competi¬tion—and I did, every year. But London hadn’t been like that. While Anna flew off to Geneva every two weeks for work, I sat on the sofa in my boxer shorts watching Countryfile and eating leftover rice from Chicken King.

My phone rang. It was Anna.

 “Hello.”

 “You’re in a pub, aren’t you?”

“How did you guess?”

 “I had training and I’ve finished early. Do you want to come and meet me at Liverpool Street?”

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

Be sure to click on the link for more stops on this tour, along with links to purchase this book and how to connect with the author.   Also come back on April 18th when I will post a review of We Own the Sky here


Thursday, March 15, 2018

Interview: Author Aimie K. Runyan

I am thrilled to have Aimie K. Runyan here at JustOneMoreChapter today.  I've read all 3 of her books and look forward to many more.  Be sure to scroll down to the bottom for links to her social media sites and links to my reviews.


Aimie, I am going to regress a little here and go back to your series, Daughters of New France. This Canadian is always on the lookout for HF taking place in Canada and any books I have found were usually written by a Canadian. You aren’t Canadian, what made you pick this story to write about?
I am actually French-Canadian by ancestry on my dad’s side, and learned (after writing my Master’s thesis on these remarkable female pioneers) that I’m descended from more than a dozen filles du roi. Apparently blood won out! I first learned about these women when I was working on my MA in French at Indiana University. I was taking a course on Canadian Civ, and the professor spent perhaps a quarter of an hour discussing female emigration to New France. I was also taking a creative writing course for fun, and was immediately struck that these women deserved to be known. I wrote a short story from the POV of the character that would become Nicole, and a decade later, decided to finish the book!
With Daughters of the Night Sky you take the big leap to Russia during World War 2, again what drove you in that direction?
Practicality, in many respects. And persistent friends. I knew I needed to choose a marketable era (like WWII) for a few projects to gain the readership I’d need to have success selling books that take place in lesser-known times and places. Several friends sent me articles about the Night Witches when I was idea-hunting, and I was captivated by their bravery. Once I started writing the synopsis, it was a concept that wouldn’t let go.
Did you get a chance to visit the areas you wrote about?
Sadly, no. A trip to Russia wasn’t in the budget. I have been to Germany and France, which was helpful for the last few chapters.
So  how did you go about a getting a feel for that era.
I *have* been to Alaska, which shares a lot with Russia in terms of climate and geography, so that was very useful for descriptions. I relied a lot on personal narratives from the Night Witches, and also had the chance to fly in an open-cockpit WWII-era biplane. That was the highlight of my research for sure!
What is one thing you hope readers will take away from this story?
Wars are not fought exclusively by men. There have been thousands of women in the last century who answered their countries’ calls for aid in their hour of need, and who did so without reservation. They gave their lives freely to protect their families and their freedoms. And while the men who fought were also heroes, not all can say they volunteered their service as freely as every single woman who took up arms for her country.
What can you readers look forward to in the future?
 I’ve just turned in Girls on the Line, which is a story of the American telephone operators who served in France during the Great War. This book was absolutely a love affair of mine, and I can’t wait for you all to read it in early November, just in time for the 100th anniversary of the armistice!
Aimie when this interview posts you will be in the sunny south, care to share what books you are packing?
Quite a few! I’m taking early review copies of Carousel Beach by Orly Konig, In Praise of Difficult Women by Karen Karbo, The Optimists Guide to Letting Go by Amy E. Reichert, and a whole Kindle-full of books I’ve been wanting to read for ages!!!



Daughters of the Night Sky
Paperback, 316 pages 
Published January 1st 2018 
by Lake Union Publishing

 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.

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

Aimie K. Runyan writes to celebrate history’s unsung heroines. She is the author of two previous historical novels: Promised to the Crown and Duty to the Crown, and hard at work on novel #4.

She is active as an educator and a speaker in the writing community and beyond.

She lives in Colorado with her wonderful husband and two (usually) adorable children.

To learn more about Aimie and her work, please visit her www.aimiekrunyan.com

Social Media links:  Website   Facebook  Twitter



                            click on covers to take you to my review of these wonderful books