Friday, January 19, 2018

Review: The Lost Season of Love and Snow by Jennifer Laam

The unforgettable story of Alexander Pushkin’s beautiful wife, Natalya, a woman much admired at Court, and how she became reviled as the villain of St. Petersburg.

At the age of sixteen, Natalya Goncharova is stunningly beautiful and intellectually curious. But while she finds joy in French translations and a history of Russian poetry, her family is more concerned with her marriage prospects. It is only fitting that during the Christmas of 1828 at her first public ball in her hometown of Moscow she attracts the romantic attention of Russia’s most lauded rebel poet: Alexander Pushkin. 

Enchanted at first sight, Natalya is already a devoted reader of Alexander’s serialized novel in verse, Evgeny Onegin. The most recently published chapter ends in a duel, and she is dying to learn what happens next. Finding herself deeply attracted to Alexander’s intensity and joie de vivre, Natalya hopes to see him again as soon as possible. 

What follows is a courtship and later marriage full of equal parts passion and domestic bliss but also destructive jealousies. When vicious court gossip leads to Alexander dying from injuries earned defending his honor as well as Natalya’s in a duel, Natalya finds herself reviled for her alleged role in his death. With beautiful writing and understanding, Jennifer Laam, and her compelling new novel, The Lost Season of Love and Snow, help Natalya tell her side of the story—the story of her greatest love and her inner struggle to create a fulfilling life despite the dangerous intrigues of a glamorous imperial Court.

Publication Date: January 2, 2018
St. Martin's Press
eBook & Paperback; 352 Pages
Genre: Historical Fiction

This is my second book taking place in Russia in as many months. It’s also another look at a well-known historical figure through the eyes of his wife. Alexander Pushkin is the name I have heard but I’m not familiar with this works. Sometimes when this happens I find myself going back and reading what has been previously been published, such is the case with Pushkin.

This book begins with a prologue, Pushkin has been involved in a duel defending the honour of his wife Natayla. As she reflects on what has happened she goes back in time and tells her story of how they got to this point, it is told from her point of view. What I found interesting right off the bat was she concern about her reputation rather than her husband, making my first impression of her less favourable. Though it did peek my curiosity as to the events leading up to this duel.

Jumping back to when she is only 16 she tells her story. Of course this is fictionalized but based on real events that took place. The author created the right environment to get a picture of the setting and feeling. This was a character driven story where everything revolves around Natayla, for some of the time I couldn’t help but feel sympathy for her and all she endured, however there were times I wanted to reach in there and give her a shake and ask what’s was she thinking, in regards to various situations.

 A look at high society life in Russia while having to deal with advances from the Czar himself as well as dealing with family members was a lot for this young girl to handle. The author has painted a vivid picture of the times. This is my first time reading this author and I will definitely be adding her 2 previous novels to my Tbr list.

Thanks to HFVBT to be part of this tour in which I received a copy of this book in my change for honest review.

Amazon | Barnes and Noble | Books-a-Million | IndieBound | Powell's

Jennifer Laam is the author of The Secret Daughter of the Tsar, The Tsarina’s Legacy, and the forthcoming The Lost Season of Love and Snow, all from St. Martin’s Griffin. She is represented by Erin Harris at Folio Literary Management.

Jennifer has lived in Los Angeles and the suburbs of Detroit, and currently resides in California’s Central Valley. When she is not busy writing or reading, Jennifer spends her time obsessing over cosplay, trying new vegetarian recipes, line dancing, and spoiling cats. She works for her alma mater, University of the Pacific.

For more information, please visit Jennifer Laam's website.

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

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Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Review: The Secret Life of Mrs. London by Rebecca Rosenberg

 San Francisco, 1915.

As America teeters on the brink of world war, Charmian and her husband, famed novelist Jack London, wrestle with genius and desire, politics and marital competitiveness. Charmian longs to be viewed as an equal partner who put her own career on hold to support her husband, but Jack doesn’t see it that way…until Charmian is pulled from the audience during a magic show by escape artist Harry Houdini, a man enmeshed in his own complicated marriage. Suddenly, charmed by the attention Houdini pays her and entranced by his sexual magnetism, Charmian’s eyes open to a world of possibilities that could be her escape.

As Charmian grapples with her urge to explore the forbidden, Jack’s increasingly reckless behavior threatens her dedication. Now torn between two of history’s most mysterious and charismatic figures, she must find the courage to forge her own path, even as she fears the loss of everything she holds dear.

 Kindle, 348 pages
 Expected publication: January 30th 2018 
by Lake Union Publishing

"I would rather be ashes than dust! I
would rather that my spark should burn
out in a brilliant blaze than it should be
stifled by dry-rot. I would rather be a 
superb meteor, every atom of me in
magnificent glow, than a sleepy and
permanent planet.  The function of man is
 to live, not to exist.  I shall not waste my
days trying to prolong them.  I shall use
my time."
-Jack London, Jack London's Tales of Adventure

I finished this book about a week ago and still thinking about it and pondering my review. I knew nothing about the life of Jack London and I’ve never even read any of his books. But I do have a fascination with reading books about the partners/spouses of well-known historical figures. I feel they give a clear and different viewpoint of their lives. With The Secret life of Mrs London I know it is fictionalized but still makes for entertaining and educational reading.

This is one of those books where I struggle with what to say.  To say it bluntly at times I really didn’t like some of the characters especially Jack and his wife, Charmian. Charmain, the second Mrs. London (he divorced first wife for her) and also an author though not as widely known as Jack. She did everything for him from being his typist, editor and so much more.  This book is written in first person, the reader is able to get inside of Charmian‘s head to get a vivid picture of her struggles. She lives in a time where free love and woman’s right were unheard of - things she was passionate about. She wants more out of life but Jack thinks only of himself and schemes to make money between books.

The Secret Life of Mrs. London is a well written book and true to the times it portrayed. The role of Harry Houdini here was very interesting and their connection together added much to Charmian’s character.  I liked how Charmian's story did not end when Jack's did.  My interest in reading not just some of Jack London's books have peeked as those by Charmian also.

Thank you to the author for an advanced copy of this book (in exchange for an honest review).  This book releases January 30th and available for preorder now.

Monday, January 15, 2018

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

 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. . . .

Kindle Edition, 320 pages 
Expected publication: January 16th 2018 
by Berkley

Veronica Speedwell is back! So is Stoker!  This is one of those books I've been anxiously waiting to read.  Book 3 in the Veronica Speedwell series, though you don't really need to read the others first I highly recommend it.  Not only for some of the background but just because they are great books.

Veronica is a woman ahead of her time, she is not just spunky but fiercely independent, confident, rather stubborn and intelligent.  She sometimes speaks her thoughts aloud regardless of the consequences and once she sets her mind to a task good luck getting her to abandon it.  She is a perfect match for Stoker, watching these two interact is quite entertaining.

With A Treacherous Curse it's Stoker's past that is forced out in the open when a former best friend disappears.  With a cursed Egyptian dig as the backdrop the author presented a unique mystery that had many layers.  I will admit that while I found the mystery intriguing it was getting to really know Stoker better that I found most interesting. That being said between the missing artifacts, missing friend and strange sightings Deanna Raybourn has once again written an engaging story complete with its usual twists and turns and an ending that I wasn't really able to figure out myself.

Definitely one of my favorite series and one I highly recommend.

click on cover to take see my review

Thanks to the publisher (Berkley) for an ARC (via Netgalley) in exchange for an honest review.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Review: A Girl Like You (Henrietta and Inspector Howard #1) by Michelle Cox

Henrietta von Harmon works as a 26 girl at a corner bar on Chicago's northwest side. It's 1935, but things still aren't looking up since the big crash and her father's subsequent suicide, leaving Henrietta to care for her antagonistic mother and younger siblings. Henrietta is eventually persuaded to take a job as a taxi dancer at a local dance hall - and just when she's beginning to enjoy herself, the floor matron turns up dead.

When aloof Inspector Clive Howard appears on the scene, Henrietta agrees to go undercover for him and is plunged into Chicago's grittier underworld.

Meanwhile, she's still busy playing mother hen to her younger siblings, as well as to pesky neighborhood boy Stanley, who believes himself in love with her and keeps popping up in the most unlikely places, determined to keep Henrietta safe even from the Inspector, if need be. Despite his efforts, however, and his penchant for messing up the Inspector's investigation, the lovely Henrietta and the impenetrable Inspector find themselves drawn to each other in most unsuitable ways.

Paperback, 288 pages 
Published April 19th 2016 
by She Writes Press
*** (I liked it)

A Girl Like You is the first book in series, with book 2 (A Ring of Truth) available and book 3 coming soon.  The time period here is one I read a lot of but usually pertaining to the war, this was a refreshing change to get a glimpse of the seedy side of Chicago.  A learning experience also since I have never heard of a '26 girl' or 'taxi dancer'.  

Henrietta is a likable character, in her late teens I found her to be somewhat naive even though taking jobs at disreputable places.  But her desire to take care of her family is what drove her there.

The author painted a picture of the struggles society faced post depression and it wasn't hard to sympathize with Henrietta and her family's plight.  The mystery was interesting with a few twists and turns, even though I figured some things out the unveiling kept my attention.  I will continue with this series and will recommend this book to those that like a quick read with suspense and mystery.

This book is from my personal library.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Excerpt: Say You'll Remember Me by Katie McGarry

Hardcover, 400 pages 
Expected publication: January 30th 2018 
by Harlequin Teen

When Drix was convicted of a crime--one he didn't commit--he thought his life was over. But opportunity came with the new Second Chance Program, the governor's newest pet project to get delinquents off the streets, rehabilitated and back into society. Drix knows this is his chance to get his life back on track, even if it means being paraded in front of reporters for a while.

 Elle knows she lives a life of privilege. As the governor's daughter, she can open doors with her name alone. But the expectations and pressure to be someone she isn't may be too much to handle. She wants to follow her own path, whatever that means.

 When Drix and Elle meet, their connection is immediate, but so are their problems. Drix is not the type of boy Elle's parents have in mind for her, and Elle is not the kind of girl who can understand Drix's messy life.

 But sometimes love can breach all barriers.

 Fighting against a society that can't imagine them together, Drix and Elle must push themselves--Drix to confront the truth of the robbery, and Elle to assert her independence--and each other to finally get what they deserve.


“I say too much, I push her away and into his arms,” Axle says.
I’m the living proof of this. I got into it with Holiday over this jerk before I was arrested, and the entire situation ex­ploded in my face.
“I keep quiet, it’s like I’m the one auctioning off her soul. No one handed me a playbook on raising a teenager when Holiday’s grandmother signed custody over to me. Holiday didn’t have rules before. In my house, she does. The rest of it I’m playing by ear.”
I glance at my older brother out of the corner of my eye, waiting for him to explain that’s how he felt about me before I was arrested. Except, I wasn’t falling into the wrong per­son’s arms. I was the asshole parents hated.
“But you’re back,” Axle continues, “and you can help keep an eye on her. Moving her in full-time means I can finally set some boundaries. Rules. At least limit her time with him.”
“Think she’ll listen?” I ask. “To the rules?”
“She may not listen when it comes to Jeremy, but she lis­tens to everything else.”
Translation—Holiday’s not me. “Are you laying down rules for me?”
Axle snorts. “Do you need them?”
Probably, but I only lift my fingers as a response.
“How about you don’t screw up again.”
“Got it.” At least I hope I do.
“What’s up, Axle. Drix.” A friend of mine from when I used to play gigs at local clubs offers Axle his hand and me a nod. The two of them exchange how are you’s and fine’s. I alternate between watching the flames of the fire licking up and glancing at them as they talk.
My older brother is now my court-appointed guardian. I did too many stupid things while living with Mom, and Dad’s not reliable. Axle is nine years older than me, has a decent job and inherited all the recessive responsible genes neither Mom nor Dad possessed.
Axle and I favor Dad. Dirty blond hair, dark eyes, and we both used to be hard-core metal boys. I guess we still are when it comes to music, but not so much with style anymore. He has the tats up and down his arms, and earrings in his ears. Earrings and tats were never my thing, and I used to wear my hair to my shoulders where Axle has always kept his shaved close to the scalp.
First thing that happened when I entered juvenile deten­tion was a shaved head. While mine’s not shaved anymore, it is cut close on the sides, has some length on top and naturally sticks up like I styled it on purpose. As Holiday told me when I walked in, I got the good boy cut with the bad boy stride.
Our friend leaves with a fist bump to Axle and a pat on the back to me. Way to go, bro. You survived time on the inside and then time on the outside in a forest.
“It’s weird not hearing you jump into a conversation,” Axle says.
It’s weird not being in the thick of things. Not being the one telling the story, sharing the joke, or the one in the crowd laughing the loudest. I used to be the guy who drank to get drunk, threw a punch, then threw too many punches, and then dealt with the guilt in the morning.
Thanks to one year of group therapy, I’m different now. Seven months of that therapy was while I was living behind bars, then the other three months of therapy was in the wil­derness. Three months of hiking, three months of paddling along forgotten rivers, three months of climbing up and down mountains, three months of being too damned exhausted to remember who I had been before they handed me a backpack that weighed fifty pounds and too damned exhausted to even contemplate if that was a bad or good thing.
As much as I hated parts of who I had become after I went to live with Mom at fifteen, there were parts of me I liked. Don’t mind so much losing the bad, but there’s an uncomfort­able shifting inside me at the thought that I also lost the good.
“How does this play out?” Axle asks. “How do I make this better for you? Easier?”
Axle isn’t talking about the party; he’s talking about living here with him and Holiday. He’s talking about how I readjust to parts of my old life and adjust into the new life the plea bargain has created. He’s talking about the thing we never mention aloud after the night I was arrested.
That we both think someone we know and love is the one who really committed the crime.
We both think it was Holiday working with Dominic or Dominic on his own, but neither of them could have survived being behind bars. I’m tough. I could handle the fallout, and all that mattered to me was that my family believed I was in­nocent. They did, but the police didn’t, and they had a crap load of evidence that pointed in my direction. This is where Axle would say he’s thankful for plea bargains.

Purchase Links

Amazon | Books-A-Million | Barnes & Noble


Katie was a teenager during the age of grunge and boy bands and remembers those years as the best and worst of her life.

She is a lover of music, happy endings, reality television, and is a secret University of Kentucky basketball fan.

She is the author of the Pushing the Limits and Thunder Road series.

Say You’ll Remember Me will be released in 2018. Katie loves to hear from her readers.

Connect with Katie

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads

click on icon which for tour schedule, which includes more excerpts, reviews and more

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Spotlight: The Secret Life of Mrs. London by Rebecca Rosenberg

Publication Date: January 30, 2018
Lake Union Publishing
eBook & Paperback; 348 Pages
Genre: Historical Fiction

San Francisco, 1915. As America teeters on the brink of world war, Charmian and her husband, famed novelist Jack London, wrestle with genius and desire, politics and marital competitiveness. Charmian longs to be viewed as an equal partner who put her own career on hold to support her husband, but Jack doesn’t see it that way…until Charmian is pulled from the audience during a magic show by escape artist Harry Houdini, a man enmeshed in his own complicated marriage. Suddenly, charmed by the attention Houdini pays her and entranced by his sexual magnetism, Charmian’s eyes open to a world of possibilities that could be her escape.

As Charmian grapples with her urge to explore the forbidden, Jack’s increasingly reckless behavior threatens her dedication. Now torn between two of history’s most mysterious and charismatic figures, she must find the courage to forge her own path, even as she fears the loss of everything she holds dear.

Available for Pre-Order on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and IndieBound

Praise for The Secret Life of Mrs. London

“The Secret Life of Mrs. London is a heart-wrenching portrait of a marriage between two people who utterly depend on one another, but ultimately aren’t enough for each other. With skillful precision of language, Rosenberg weaves a narrative that defines the complexities of love, passion, and art. This is a perceptive, deeply moving novel by a great new talent about a couple who has gone unnoticed in historical fiction until now. Anyone who has ever loved another person will want to read this book.” —Victoria Kelly, author of Mrs. Houdini: A Novel

“One of Houdini’s best kept secrets was his affair with Charmian London in 1918. Now Rebecca Rosenberg tells the story using an elegant blend of fact and fiction, creating a Houdini book like no other. The Secret Life of Mrs. London is a true peek behind the curtain and a page-turner.” —John Cox, Wild about Harry


A California native, Rebecca Rosenberg lives on a lavender farm with her family in Sonoma, the Valley of the Moon, where Jack London wrote from his Beauty Ranch. Rebecca is a long-time student of Jack London’s works and an avid fan of his daring wife, Charmian London. The Secret Life of Mrs. London is her debut novel.

 Rebecca and her husband, Gary, own the largest lavender product company in America, selling to 4000 resorts, spas and gift stores. The Rosenbergs believe in giving back to the Sonoma Community, supporting many causes through financial donations and board positions, including Worth Our Weight, an educational culinary program for at-risk children, YWCA shelter for abused women, Luther Burbank Performing Arts Center to provide performances for children, Sonoma Food Bank, Sonoma Boys and Girls Club, and the Valley of the Moon Children's Home.

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

You can also find her on Facebook and Goodreads.

Visit the Facebook page for The Secret Life of Mrs. London.

Monday, January 8, 2018

Spotlight: Dangerous Crossing by Rachel Rhys

 Hardcover, 368 pages 
Expected publication: January 9th 2018 
by Atria Books

The ship has been like a world within itself, a vast floating city outside of normal rules. But the longer the journey continues, the more confined it is starting to feel, deck upon deck, passenger upon passenger, all of them churning around each other without anywhere to go...

1939: Europe is on the brink of war when young Lily Shepherd boards an ocean liner in Essex, bound for Australia. She is ready to start anew, leaving behind the shadows in her past. The passage proves magical, complete with live music, cocktails, and fancy dress balls. With stops at exotic locations along the way—Naples, Cairo, Ceylon—the voyage shows Lily places she’d only ever dreamed of and enables her to make friends with those above her social station, people who would ordinarily never give her the time of day. She even allows herself to hope that a man she couldn’t possibly have a future with outside the cocoon of the ship might return her feelings.

But Lily soon realizes that she’s not the only one hiding secrets. Her newfound friends—the toxic wealthy couple Eliza and Max; Cambridge graduate Edward; Jewish refugee Maria; fascist George—are also running away from their pasts. As the glamour of the voyage fades, the stage is set for something sinister to occur. By the time the ship docks, two passengers are dead, war has been declared, and Lily’s life will be changed irrevocably.

Friday, January 5, 2018

Spotlight/Giveaway: Langford Series by A.E. Wasserman

Publication Date: April 29, 2015
Archway Publishing
Hardcover, Paperback, and eBook; 382 Pages
Series: Langford Series, Book #1
Genre: Historical Fiction

Love, murder, sex, and terrorism swirl within a collapsed world economy. No, it's not today. It's London, 1884. Recently married Langsford, born of wealth and privilege, is bound by the restrictions of Victorian society. Dynamite has been invented, but the term "homosexuality" has not and men can be arrested for either.

Langsford accompanies his visiting friend, HEINRICH, eighteen, who innocently flirts with young ANNA at London's Leadenhall Market.

What should be the end of the story becomes the beginning, for Heinrich falls in love with her, never part of the plan. Instead it becomes the catalyst for everything that follows when he flees Germany to return to her. Events unfold that expose terrorists, espionage and international intrigue.

Langsford walks a fine line as he crosses boundaries he never imagined, rubbing elbows with spies, killers and would-be assassins to save his friend, stop an assassination, and prevent a war.

“Wasserman’s writing is atmospherically rich. Very strongly recommended.” – Historical Novel Society, London, critical review of 1884 No Boundaries

Amazon | Barnes & Noble

1886 Ties That Bind: A Story of Politics, Graft, and Greed by A.E. Wasserman

Publication Date: November 3, 2016
Archway Publishing
Hardcover, Paperback, and eBook; 320 Pages
Series: Langford Series, Book #2
Genre: Historical Fiction

It is 1886 as Englishman Lord Langsford travels by train to San Francisco. Newly widowed, Langsford is desperate to escape his grief, demons, and life in England. As Langsford completes the last leg of his transcontinental journey, his life unexpectedly changes once again when he crosses paths with Miss Sally Baxter, a beautiful rancher who packs a pistol in her purse.

Sally has made it her mission to find the men who robbed a train and killed her brother. Unfortunately, no one—not even the owners of the Southern Pacific Railroad—seem to care. Unable to resist her pleas, Langsford offers to help Sally and soon becomes entangled in a web of politics, corruption, and greed. As murder, threats, and attacks ensue that endanger both Sally and Langsford, influential men in both California and Washington, D.C. jockey for positions of power. Langsford, who finds himself oddly attracted to Sally, now must sort through criminals and politicians alike to discover the truth behind her brother’s death and prevent his own murder.

"The author has woven a complex net of intrigue and background to the murder that makes the entire book so much more than just a mystery. As the title appropriately states, this deals with issues of politics, corruption and greed in a very accomplished way. One of the best books I’ve read in a long time. Highly recommended." - Christoph Fischer, UK Reviewer Discovering Diamonds

Amazon | Barnes and Noble

1885: Crossings by A.E. Wasserman

Publication Date: October 5, 2017
Archway Publishing
Hardcover, Paperback, and eBook; 142 Pages
Series: Langford Series, Book #3
Genre: Historical Fiction

Anna’s hand holding the letter trembled as her vision rocked, going in and out of focus. She felt as though she was falling backward and at the same time rolling forward, expecting to land face first on the floor. She put her hand on the table to brace herself. She no longer heard the song birds in the buckeye tree outside the window, or the hoof beats on the cobblestones passing the front door, or any sound at all.

The world around her ceased to exist—only the paper with Henry’s written words: his own account of what happened during the past year. 

The entire time, she’d known he wasn’t telling her everything—but this—she could never have imagined any of it. The hard fact was, Henry will never escape the truth.

“1885 Crossings gives us another opportunity to return to the world of Henry, Anna, and Langsford. A.E. Wasserman’s writing is beautifully done—tense and uncomfortable. The ending gave me a chill.” -Chuck Sambuchino, Bestselling Author

Amazon | Barnes & Noble

The daughter of a newspaperman, A.E. Wasserman grew up in a household filled with books and stories. At age 14, she wrote her first novella and never stopped writing.

She is the author of a new mystery/thrillers series, the first of which takes place in London: 1884 No Boundaries, A Story of Espionage and International Intrigue. The second in the Langsford Series, 1886 Ties That Bind, A Story of Politics, Graft and Greed, has just been released.

Her work, critically acclaimed as “richly atmospheric,” is being noticed by readers and critics alike, and has garnered international attention, not only in the U.S., but Europe and the U.K. as well. She recently received top honors from Writer’s Digest for her work.

After graduating from The Ohio State University, she lived in London, then San Francisco. Currently she resides in Southern California with her family and her muse, a Border Collie named Topper. For more information, please Visit the author’s web site at

You can also connect with her on Facebook and Twitter.


During the Book Blast we will be giving away a $25 Amazon Gift Card! To enter, please enter via the Gleam form below.

Giveaway Rules – Giveaway ends at 11:59pm EST on January 12th. You must be 18 or older to enter. – Giveaway is open INTERNATIONALLY.  Winner has 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.

  Langsford Series Blast

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Review: Where We Belong by Lynn Austin

The Adventure of a Lifetime for Two Indomitable Socialite Sisters

In the city of Chicago in 1892, the rules for Victorian women are strict, their roles limited. But sisters Rebecca and Flora Hawes are not typical Victorian ladies. Their love of adventure and their desire to use their God-given talents has brought them to the Sinai Desert--and into a sandstorm.

Accompanied by Soren Petersen, their somber young butler, and Kate Rafferty, a street urchin who is learning to be their ladies' maid, the two women are on a quest to find an important biblical manuscript. As the journey becomes more dangerous and uncertain, the four travelers sift through memories of their past, recalling the events that shaped them and the circumstances that brought them to this time and place.

Paperback, 480 pages
 Published October 3rd 2017 
by Bethany House Publishers

This is my first time reading anything by Lynn Austin, which is always exciting especially when hearing great things about this author.  Where We Belong isn’t a quick read coming in at almost 500 pages and my favorite size to read. I feel with anything over 400 pages the writer should be able to deliver a story with depth of character and plot, that the story would have many layers and would keep me captivated the whole way through.  Did that happen here?  Of course it did!

Beginning in 1892 Rebecca and Flora are in the Sinai Desert during a sandstorm. It is during this time that they go back in time and tell the story of how they got there.

I don’t know if it is just me or if it is a new trend or I could just be late to the party but I am finding a vast number of Christian historical fiction out there. There’s history in this book that is not mentioned in the synopsis so I won’t go into any details about it but suffice to say the author portrayed a great picture of the time. Not just in Chicago but other parts of the worlds well.

These two sisters are brought up privileged with no worries about where their next meal is coming from or what to wear. They like adventure and travel, something at a time that is frowned upon for women, especially on their own. I found this to be a very well executed novel, two women ahead of their time who are courageous, daring enough to follow their dreams and compassionate. They don’t sit idly by but rather take action to help those in need. Life isn’t picture perfect and their faith sustains them.

With a cold winter upon us this is the perfect book to curl up with a cuppa tea, a warm blanket and just read the cold away. Definitely a book and author I recommend.

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

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Review: The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah

Alaska, 1974. 

For a family in crisis, the ultimate test of survival. Ernt Allbright, a former POW, comes home from the Vietnam war a changed and volatile man. When he loses yet another job, he makes an impulsive decision: he will move his family north, to Alaska, where they will live off the grid in America’s last true frontier.

 Thirteen-year-old Leni, a girl coming of age in a tumultuous time, caught in the riptide of her parents’ passionate, stormy relationship, dares to hope that a new land will lead to a better future for her family. She is desperate for a place to belong. Her mother, Cora, will do anything and go anywhere for the man she loves, even if means following him into the unknown.

 At first, Alaska seems to be the answer to their prayers. In a wild, remote corner of the state, they find a fiercely independent community of strong men and even stronger women. The long, sunlit days and the generosity of the locals make up for the Allbrights’ lack of preparation and dwindling resources.

 But as winter approaches and darkness descends on Alaska, Ernt’s fragile mental state deteriorates and the family begins to fracture. Soon the perils outside pale in comparison to threats from within. In their small cabin, covered in snow, blanketed in eighteen hours of night, Leni and her mother learn the terrible truth: they are on their own. In the wild, there is no one to save them but themselves.

 In this unforgettable portrait of human frailty and resilience, Kristin Hannah reveals the indomitable character of the modern American pioneer and the spirit of a vanishing Alaska—a place of incomparable beauty and danger. The Great Alone is a daring, beautiful, stay-up-all-night story about love and loss, the fight for survival, and the wildness that lives in both man and nature.

 Kindle Edition, 448 pages
 Expected publication: February 6th 2018
 by St. Martin's Press
One thing every child of a POW knew was how easily people could be broken.”
My only experience with Kristin Hannah was with The Nightingale, I believe it was her first venture into historical fiction - it made my best of 2015 list.  (My review can be found here). When I saw The Great Alone was coming out I jumped at the chance. Having visited Alaska on a cruise once it wasn’t hard for me to visualize so much of the landscape with its remoteness, harsh weather element as well as beautiful scenery.

What I loved about this book, other than the location was the time period.  The lack of modern electronics was a plus for me. With virtually an untamed landscape, it was a time when cruises and tour groups were sparse.

I appreciate the research that went into this book.  It wasn’t just the landscape with vivid descriptions of the various seasons but what the residents endured, the struggles of 18 hours of daylight and 18 hours of darkness. Even those not suffering from PTSD had to find ways to cope.  The author put me in those scenes of darkness and despair as well as appreciate the beauty of Mother Nature.

The synopsis above does a great job outlining this wonderful book. The Great Alone opened my eyes and gave me a clearer view of PTSD, it helped me to understand this condition and see how Ernt would grasp at anything for a new beginning.  But Alaska back in that time, where authority is scarce and limited phone service is asking for trouble, he was so focused on himself and the present forgetting to look ahead.
“He needs a chance. A new start. We all do. Maybe Alaska                                  is the answer.”
Leni is great character, she misses so much of her childhood, forced to grow up before her time and along with her mother live a life walking on egg shells. Getting inside her head, feeling the raw emotions of this young girl had me connecting right from the first pages. This is a capivating coming of age story, it was a pleasure to read and hard to put down. 

They are many layers to The Great Alone, a story of survival, heartache and challenges. It is one of those books that will stay with me for a long time.

This was one of my last books of 2017, making my ‘best of 2017’ list.  Many thanks to St Martin’s Press (via Netgalley) for and advanced copy.

Monday, January 1, 2018

Review: The Royal Rabbits Of London by Santa Montefiore, Simon Sebag Montefiore

 Life is an adventure. 

Anything in the world is possible – by will and by luck, with a moist carrot, a wet nose and a slice of mad courage! 

Shylo has always been the runt of the litter, the weakest and quietest of all of his family, his siblings spend their days making fun of him for not being like the rest of them. But when Shylo stumbles across a band of ratzis and overhears their evil plan to take a photo of the Queen in her nightie, it's up to this unlikely hero to travel to London and inform the Royal Rabbits of London about the diabolical plot!

The Royal Rabbits of London have a proud history of protecting the royal family and now the secret society need to leap into action to stop the ratzis...

But can a rabbit as feeble and shy as Shylo convince them that Queen is in danger?

The Hobbit meets Fantastic Mr Fox meets Watership Down in this charming novel from bestselling authors Santa and Sebag Montefiore, which proves even the smallest rabbit can be the biggest hero. 

Hardcover, 192 pages 
Published October 6th 2016 
by Simon Schuster Children's UK

The Royal Rabbits of London is a wonderful children’s adventure story.

Though the runt of the litter and mocked by siblings Shylo steps out of his comfort zone, travels far from home on a mission to save the reputation of the Queen.  Fairy tale in style it’s a story of courage, adventure and bravery.  With short chapters and wonderful illustrations this is a great book for early readers of chapter books.  The story is interesting, showing how Shylo struggles with his fears and steps out of his comfort zone.  One I highly recommend and thoroughly.

This is the first in series (not sure how long it will be).  My copy was from my personal library.