Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Review: The Hazel Wood (The Hazel Wood #1) by Melissa Albert

Seventeen-year-old Alice and her mother have spent most of Alice’s life on the road, always a step ahead of the uncanny bad luck biting at their heels. But when Alice’s grandmother, the reclusive author of a cult-classic book of pitch-dark fairy tales, dies alone on her estate, the Hazel Wood, Alice learns how bad her luck can really get: her mother is stolen away―by a figure who claims to come from the Hinterland, the cruel supernatural world where her grandmother's stories are set. Alice's only lead is the message her mother left behind: “Stay away from the Hazel Wood.”

 Alice has long steered clear of her grandmother’s cultish fans. But now she has no choice but to ally with classmate Ellery Finch, a Hinterland superfan who may have his own reasons for wanting to help her. To retrieve her mother, Alice must venture first to the Hazel Wood, then into the world where her grandmother's tales began―and where she might find out how her own story went so wrong.

 Hardcover, 368 pages
Published January 30th 2018
by Flatiron Books
***

When I saw this book’s heavy presence on Instagram I caved to peer pressure, especially when I read the blurb. A book about fairy tales, the recluse and mysterious author and a place called Hinterland. The cover kinda clinched the deal.

This book grabbed me right away, with its lyrical telling I settled in for this adventure. The pacing was great, the characters likable (well sort of) and the story intriguing. But then I hit the half way point and bam! The writing changed, it was almost like another writer took over and everything changed. My interest weaned and disappointment took over when I lost interest in this story.
All of a sudden there were many new characters and a different vibe.

I realize that I am going against the flow and most loved it, I really wanted to and sadly I am not sure I will continue with this series.

Originally I was leaning at 2 stars but bumped up to 3 for the awesome beginning.

Monday, June 18, 2018

Review/Giveaway: The Underground River by Martha Conway

Set aboard a nineteenth century riverboat theater, this is the moving, page-turning story of a charmingly frank and naive seamstress who is blackmailed into saving runaways on the Underground Railroad, jeopardizing her freedom, her livelihood, and a new love. 

It’s 1838, and May Bedloe works as a seamstress for her cousin, the famous actress Comfort Vertue—until their steamboat sinks on the Ohio River. Though they both survive, both must find new employment. Comfort is hired to give lectures by noted abolitionist, Flora Howard, and May finds work on a small flatboat, Hugo and Helena’s Floating Theatre, as it cruises the border between the northern states and the southern slave-holding states.

May becomes indispensable to Hugo and his troupe, and all goes well until she sees her cousin again. Comfort and Mrs. Howard are also traveling down the Ohio River, speaking out against slavery at the many riverside towns. May owes Mrs. Howard a debt she cannot repay, and Mrs. Howard uses the opportunity to enlist May in her network of shadowy characters who ferry babies given up by their slave mothers across the river to freedom. Lying has never come easy to May, but now she is compelled to break the law, deceive all her new-found friends, and deflect the rising suspicions of Dr. Early who captures runaways and sells them back to their southern masters. 

As May’s secrets become more tangled and harder to keep, the Floating Theatre readies for its biggest performance yet. May’s predicament could mean doom for all her friends on board, including her beloved Hugo, unless she can figure out a way to trap those who know her best.


Publication Date: June 20, 2017
Touchstone
Hardcover, eBook, AudioBook
Genre: Historical Fiction

***


It’s 1938 when The Underground River begins and Mary tells her story. It’s also 10 years before the Civil War begins where the Ohio River is the boundary separating free blacks from those not.

Martha Conley has definitely done her homework and was able to place me right there, I could visual and feel the tension that existed between the north and south. The feel of the landscape was clear as well as the way of life. I knew nothing about River Theatres and I found that aspect quite interesting.

It isn’t until the last half of the book where most of the action takes place that is described in the synopsis above.  I kinda wish that started a little sooner and went on longer to really show this part of history.  I'm sure there are more people like me that have heard of the underground railway but never the river being used as paths to freedom.

Again the author definitely knows her history and I'll be checking out her other books.

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | IndieBound | Books-a-Million | Powell’s


Martha Conway grew up in Cleveland, Ohio, the sixth of seven daughters. Her first novel was nominated for an Edgar Award, and she has won several awards for her historical fiction, including an Independent Book Publishers Award and the North American Book Award for Historical Fiction. Her short fiction has been published in the Iowa Review, Massachusetts Review, Carolina Quarterly, Folio, Epoch, The Quarterly, and other journals. She has received a California Arts Council Fellowship for Creative Writing, and has reviewed books for the Iowa Review and the San Francisco Chronicle. She now lives in San Francisco, and is an instructor of creative writing for Stanford University’s Continuing Studies Program and UC Berkeley Extension. She is the author of The Underground River.

For more information, please visit Martha Conway's website.

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

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Giveaway!

During the Blog Tour we will be giving away 5 custom-made coffee mugs!

To enter, please enter via the Gleam form below.
– Giveaway ends at 11:59pm EST on July 26th. 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

The Underground River


Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Review: The Mayflower Bride (Daughters of the Mayflower #1) by Kimberley Woodhouse

A New Series Begins for Lovers of History, Adventure, Romance, and Ancestry

 Mary Chapman boards the Speedwell in 1620 as a Separatist seeking a better life in the New World. William Lytton embarks on the Mayflower as a carpenter looking for opportunities to succeed—and he may have found one when a man from the Virginia Company offers William a hefty sum to keep a stealth eye on company interests in the new colony. The season is far too late for good sailing and storms rage, but reaching land is no better as food is scarce and the people are weak. Will Mary survive to face the spring planting and unknown natives? Will William be branded a traitor and expelled?

 Join the adventure as the Daughters of the Mayflower series begins with The Mayflower Bride by Kimberley Woodhouse.

 More to come in the Daughters of the Mayflower series: The Pirate Bride by Kathleen Y’Barbo - set 1725 New Orleans (coming April 2018) The Captured Bride by Michelle Griep - set 1760 during the French and Indian War (coming June 2018)

 Kindle, 256 pages
Published February 1st 2018
by Barbour Books
***

Daughters of the Mayflower series begins with The Mayflower Bride. Coming in at 256 pages it’s a relatively quick read chronicling the voyage in 1620 of the Mayflower to the New World.

I enjoyed the historical setting and was interested as these Separatists wanted to start over in a place where they have the freedom to worship as they saw fit. Most of this book takes place on the ship and it's where the real test of endurance takes place.  There are lots of themes to this book - survival, love and loss, faith and the day to day struggles on a voyage that brought heartache and tested so many.

While I didn’t always connect to the characters and would have loved a little more depth to the story The Mayflower Bride was an enjoyable read and a series I will continue to read.

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

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Spotlight/Giveaway: The King's Justice by E.M Powell


Publication Date: June 1, 2018
Thomas & Mercer
Paperback & eBook; 288 Pages
ISBN-978-1542046015
Series: Stanton and Barling #1
Genre: Historical Mystery

A murder that defies logic—and a killer on the loose.

England, 1176. Aelred Barling, esteemed clerk to the justices of King Henry II, is dispatched from the royal court with his young assistant, Hugo Stanton, to investigate a brutal murder in a village outside York. The case appears straightforward. A suspect is under lock and key in the local prison, and the angry villagers are demanding swift justice. But when more bodies are discovered, certainty turns to doubt—and amid the chaos it becomes clear that nobody is above suspicion. Facing growing unrest in the village and the fury of the lord of the manor, Stanton and Barling find themselves drawn into a mystery that defies logic, pursuing a killer who evades capture at every turn.

Can they solve the riddle of who is preying upon the villagers?

And can they do it without becoming prey themselves?

Amazon | Barnes and Noble | IndieBound


E.M. Powell’s historical thriller Fifth Knight novels have been #1 Amazon and Bild bestsellers. The King’s Justice is the first novel in her new Stanton and Barling medieval murder mystery series. She is a contributing editor to International Thriller Writers’ The Big Thrill magazine, blogs for English Historical Fiction Authors and is the social media manager for the Historical Novel Society. Born and raised in the Republic of Ireland into the family of Michael Collins (the legendary revolutionary and founder of the Irish Free State), she now lives in North-West England with her husband, daughter and a Facebook-friendly dog.

Find out more by visiting www.empowell.com.

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


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Giveaway

During the Blog Tour we will be giving away 6 paperback copies of The King's Justice!

To enter, please enter via the Gleam form below.

Giveaway Rules
– Giveaway ends at 11:59pm EST on July 13th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
– Giveaway is open INTERNATIONALLY.
– Only one entry per household.
– All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspect of fraud is decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion.
 – Winner has 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.

  The King's Justice

Monday, June 11, 2018

Review: The Love Letter by Rachel Hauck

With the colonies at war and his country divided, Hamilton Lightfoot must choose sides: Fight for the British Crown or for the Independence of America. But after witnessing the death of his family at the hands of redcoats, he fears he’ll fight for revenge instead of honor. On the verge of a great battle, he pens a letter to Esther, the woman he loves.

 Esther Longfellow is in love with Hamilton, but her father is a loyalist, living in upcountry South Carolina and working for a wealthy British lord. When the Revolutionary War comes to her doorstep she is forced to choose between devotion to her father and her love for Hamilton.

 Chloe Daschle is the daughter of Hollywood royalty—a great director and an Oscar-winning actress. Yet her career has taken an unexpected turn: She’s the queen of death scenes. Trying to break out, she accepts a supporting role in a revolutionary war film. But she longs for the perfect role and the perfect real-life romance. Does happily ever after only exist in the movies?

 After a life-changing tragedy, MIT graduate Jesse Gates decides to leave his life behind and move to LA to try his hand at acting and screenwriting. When he finds a page from one of his ancestor’s letters, he becomes consumed with the love he finds there. Determined to help his grandfather find happiness at the end of his life, Jesse writes and sells a screenplay based on the events surrounding the lost love of previous generations.

 When Jesse meets the woman he has cast to play Esther Longfellow—his grandfather’s one true love—the stories of all four collide across time and space. The love letter from the past might have more power to affect the future than any of them could have imagined.

Kindle, 352 pages
Expected publication: June 12th 2018
by Thomas Nelson
*** 

Authors probably cringe when a review starts with something like ‘I am really not a fan of ‘such and such genre ‘ when I see that myself my first thought is why are you even reading it then? So here so, I am not a big fan of romance novels, but I am a big fan of historical and dual time period stories. Ever since reading Rachel Hauck's books The Wedding Dress and The Writing Desk I have become a fan. Both those books grabbed me with the unique stories and characters.

The Love Letter follows along with its dual time period but this time it was a bit softer, quieter almost in the plots.  I wasn't totally absorbed in the present day story there were times it was a little too neat and tidy.  The historical aspects is usually what draws me right in and I found the letter interesting as well as the connection to Jesse.  I would have loved more of that time flushed out.

 Faith played a big part in both story lines.  The characters are flawed, carrying around a load of guilt.  Ultimately The Love Letter is a story of discovering oneself, letting go of baggage and of course love.  I can't say I enjoyed this as much as her 2 previous books but she is still an author I will continue to read more of.

My thanks to Thomas Nelson (via Netgalley) for an advanced copy in exchange for honest review.  The Love Letter can be found on at your favorite bookstores starting tomorrow (June 12th).



Friday, June 8, 2018

Review: The Summer I Met Jack by Michelle Gable

New York Times bestselling author imagines the affair between JFK and Alicia Corning Clark - and the child they may have had.

 Based on a real story - in 1950, a young, beautiful Polish refugee arrives in Hyannisport, Massachusetts to work as a maid for one of the wealthiest families in America. Alicia is at once dazzled by the large and charismatic family, in particular the oldest son, a rising politician named Jack.

 Alicia and Jack are soon engaged, but his domineering father forbids the marriage. And so, Alicia trades Hyannisport for Hollywood, and eventually Rome. She dates famous actors and athletes and royalty, including Gary Cooper, Kirk Douglas, and Katharine Hepburn, all the while staying close with Jack. A decade after they meet, on the eve of Jack’s inauguration as the thirty-fifth President of the United States, the two must confront what they mean to each other.

 The Summer I Met Jack is based on the fascinating real life of Alicia Corning Clark, a woman who J. Edgar Hoover insisted was paid by the Kennedys to keep quiet, not only about her romance with Jack Kennedy, but also a baby they may have had together.

Kindle Edition, 448 pages
Expected publication: May 29th 2018
 by St. Martin's Press
****


Michelle Gable is a new author to me, her book The Paris Apartment has been sitting very patiently waiting but instead I grabbed this, her latest. I was given an ARC from the publisher (with my sincere thanks) but time just got away from me. The Summer I Met Jack was released last week. I grabbed the audio version and my kindle alternating between the two.

Beginning in 1951 when Alicia meets Jack Kennedy. I don’t know a lot of Jack's history but I’ve gleamed enough over the years to get a feel for his character. It’s obvious that a lot of research went into this book. Based on fact the author filled in the gaps nicely to create this fictional account of Alicia and Jack's long affair. There were lots of well known names dropped and the Kennedy’s were a powerful family that took care of themselves. Told from Alicia's side of the story it wasn't hard to feel her plight, from immigration, to friends, to the Kennedy's and just surviving in this new country.

“...my goal was to make the story plausible” and that Michelle Gable did very nicely.

Thank you to St. Martin Press (via Netgalley) for an advanced copy.

Monday, June 4, 2018

Review: Jar of Hearts by Jennifer Hillier

A compelling story of murder, betrayal, and the secrets of the past… Georgina, known as Geo, is a 30-year-old rising executive when her world comes crashing down. Her high school boyfriend has been identified and arrested for a series of serial murders, including Angela, Geo's best friend in high school. Angela disappeared without a trace at 16 and her body has just been found. Now Geo is under arrest for helping her then-boyfriend cover it up. And it's one of her other close friends from high school, Kaiser Brody, who arrests her.

While Geo is sent to prison for her part, Calvin escapes from custody and is on the run. Geo, now thirty-five, is about to be released from prison to try and start over. But someone has started killing people and dumping their bodies in her old neighborhood, with some of the markers of the missing Sweetbay Strangler—her old boyfriend Calvin. Is these killings some kind of message from Calvin? Are they some of revenge? Is she herself now in danger?

 Everything turns on what really happened that tragic night back when Geo and Angela were high schoolers. Everyone thinks they know the truth, but there are dark secrets buried deep within other secrets, and it may be too late for anyone to survive the truth.

Jar of Hearts is a compelling edge-of-your-seat thriller that grabs readers from the very beginning and holds them rapt, as the truth of both the past and the present is skillfully unfolded, until the very last page.

 Kindle Edition, 320 pages
 Expected publication: June 12th 2018
 by Minotaur Books
*** 1/2

Jennifer Hillier is a new author to me, Jar of Hearts releases next week and already its garnered a huge amount of 4/5 star ratings. In terms of anticipation I can see that, I was flipping the pages in my kindle to see what would happen next, trying to figure it out myself. I knew there were twists and turns coming and I was genuinely curious about the outcome. But there were just a few things that bogged me down and the thing is I really cann't say anything more for fear of spoiling someone else's ride. These are things not mentioned in the synopsis but if you are really interested check out this review on Goodreads where I can hide behind the spoiler button.

Having said that I enjoyed how the author went back and forth in time, it was smooth and each tidbit of the past only heightened my curiosity. I found it hard at times to connect with the characters, I just didn’t feel the emotional side of them or understand some of their actions.

Jar of Hearts is a book of secrets, heartache and survival.  While it wasn't perfect I would still recommend it to those that like a good mystery. 

My thanks to the publisher (via Netgalley) for an advance copy.

Friday, June 1, 2018

Review: I'll Be Gone in the Dark: One Woman's Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer by Michelle McNamara

The haunting true story of the elusive serial rapist turned murderer who terrorized California during the 70s and 80s, and of the gifted journalist who died tragically while investigating the case—which was solved in April 2018.

 Introduction by Gillian Flynn • Afterword by Patton Oswalt

 “A brilliant genre-buster.... Propulsive, can’t-stop-now reading.” —Stephen King

 For more than ten years, a mysterious and violent predator committed fifty sexual assaults in Northern California before moving south, where he perpetrated ten sadistic murders. Then he disappeared, eluding capture by multiple police forces and some of the best detectives in the area.

 Three decades later, Michelle McNamara, a true crime journalist who created the popular website TrueCrimeDiary.com, was determined to find the violent psychopath she called "the Golden State Killer." Michelle pored over police reports, interviewed victims, and embedded herself in the online communities that were as obsessed with the case as she was.

 I’ll Be Gone in the Dark —the masterpiece McNamara was writing at the time of her sudden death—offers an atmospheric snapshot of a moment in American history and a chilling account of a criminal mastermind and the wreckage he left behind. It is also a portrait of a woman’s obsession and her unflagging pursuit of the truth. Utterly original and compelling, it has been hailed as a modern true crime classic—one which fulfilled Michelle's dream: helping unmask the Golden State Killer.

 Paperback, 352 pages
 Published February 27th 2018
by Harper
****

I caved to social media pressure to read this one, everywhere I looked I saw this book. Especially when news reports of an arrest started coming through.

Michelle McNamara had a blog called TrueCrimeDiary and had a fascination (to put it mildly) with unsolved murders and the EAR/Golden State Murders is the focus of this book. She writes with grace and respect for the victims, she didn’t glorify the acts but protected the innocent. Her research is almost obsessive and it’s sad that in her passing she was not able to see his arrest.

This book presented the era, the various locations with detail as well as the criminal procedures in a time before DNA testing. This is a gripping story and for those that sleep uneasy you might want to have your dog close by, I read a lot of this while alone for a weekend and I think I even made my dog nervous. But really what did I expect, it’s a book about some absolutely horrible crimes.

I don't read a lot of true crime, nonfiction book and am trying to rectify that this year.  My copy was from my personal library.

Thursday, May 31, 2018

Review: Keturah (The Sugar Baron's Daughters #1) by Lisa Tawn Bergren

In 1772 England, Lady Keturah Banning Tomlinson and her sisters find themselves the heiresses of their father's estates and know they have one option: Go to the West Indies to save what is left of their heritage.

 Although it flies against all the conventions for women of the time, they're determined to make their own way in the world. But once they arrive in the Caribbean, proper gender roles are the least of their concerns. On the infamous island of Nevis, the sisters discover the legacy of the legendary sugar barons has vastly declined--and that's just the start of what their eyes are opened to in this unfamiliar world.

 Keturah never intends to put herself at the mercy of a man again, but every man on the island seems to be trying to win her hand and, with it, the ownership of her plantation. She could desperately use an ally, but even an unexpected reunion with a childhood friend leaves her questioning his motives.

 Set on keeping her family together and saving her father's plantation, can Keturah ever surrender her stubbornness and guarded heart to God and find the healing and love awaiting her?

Paperback, 354 pages
 Published February 6th 2018
by Bethany House Publishers
****

This is my first novel by Lisa T. Bergen, I’ve heard and seen her books about and finally decided to see what the excitement was about. While romance isn’t a favourite of mine on its own but add the historical element and I perk right up. The location was another added bonus, I love reading about places I’ve been to, easier to visualize and get that feel of the island.

The synopsis above does a great job of describing Keturah. She is brave, determined but also vulnerable (after a traumatizing marriage).  Women of 1772 were to be taken care of not sailing across the ocean to save a cane plantation with no male escort.  With 2 sisters in tow that is exactly what Keturah did.  It's an eye opening greeting in Nevis, from slaves sold in the market square to not being taken seriously in their task.

Keturah is ultimately a book of strength, determination and letting go.  The faith of these girls grows on this journey and while this book wasn't perfect (I had a couple of issues), all in all I enjoyed it. The ending was fitting with a few unresolved issues that I am sure will work themselves out in the next book.

This is book 1 in The Sugar Baron's Daughters Series and one I will continue with. 

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

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Review: Side by Side: A Novel of Bonnie and Clyde (Bonnie #2) by Jenni L. Walsh

"A deftly researched, compassionate rendering of Bonnie Parker, one of the most fascinating women in recent history. With great empathy and skill Walsh portrays Bonnie's collision course with disaster, allowing us to ride shotgun all the way. And what a compelling ride it is!" - Ariel Lawhon, author of I Was Anastasia

 Texas: 1931. It’s the height of the Great Depression, and Bonnie is miles from Clyde. He’s locked up, and she’s left waiting, their dreams of a life together dwindling every day.

 When Clyde returns from prison damaged and distant, unable to keep a job, and dogged by the cops, Bonnie knows the law will soon come for him. But there’s only one road forward for her.

 If the world won't give them their American Dream, they'll just have to take it.

 "Compulsively readable, Walsh’s prose hooks you from the beginning as Bonnie and Clyde come alive for the reader, their exploits leaping off the page. Atmospheric, action-packed, and richly detailed, Side by Side will delight historical fiction fans." - Chanel Cleeton, author of Next Year in Havana

Kindle, 320 pages
Expected publication: June 5th 2018
 by Forge Books
****

Side by Side begins with Becoming Bonnie and I highly recommend starting with that book first. Becoming Bonnie introduces Bonnielyn Parker and gives a clear picture of who she is and what makes her tick. Side by Side begins as she is now known as just Bonnie not Bonnielyn (or Saint Bonnielyn - gotta read the story).

I love books that take me to another place and time, when you get a good sense of the time and era the characters are living through.  Naturally when I finished reading, I googled and discovered that the author has drawn from the pages of history then she filled in the gap‘s nicely, capturing the way of life and feeling the toll of the Great Depression. Believe it or not Bonnie and Clyde had dreams for the future.

Jenni L. Walsh's debut was Becoming Bonnie followed a year later with Side by Side (next week it hits book shelves) and I have to say how impressed I am with her writing.  She has taken two historical figures and breathed life into them, she humanized them and while their crimes are terrible she was able to tell Bonnie's side of the story.  I was totally engaged, the characters were well developed and she stayed true to history.   I will definitely be on the lookout for more books by Jenni L. Walsh.

My thanks to the publisher (via netgalley) for an advance copy of this book. Be sure to click on the cover below to take you to my review of Becoming Bonnie


Monday, May 28, 2018

Review: House of Dreams: The Life of L.M. Montgomery by Liz Rosenberg, Julie Morstad (Illustrator)

An affecting biography of the author of Anne of Green Gables is the first for young readers to include revelations about her last days and to encompass the complexity of a brilliant and sometimes troubled life.

Once upon a time, there was a girl named Maud who adored stories. When she was fourteen years old, Maud wrote in her journal, "I love books. I hope when I grow up to be able to have lots of them." Not only did Maud grow up to own lots of books, she wrote twenty-four of them herself as L. M. Montgomery, the world-renowned author of Anne of Green Gables.

For many years, not a great deal was known about Maud’s personal life. Her childhood was spent with strict, undemonstrative grandparents, and her reflections on writing, her lifelong struggles with anxiety and depression, her "year of mad passion," and her difficult married life remained locked away, buried deep within her unpublished personal journals.

Through this revealing and deeply moving biography, kindred spirits of all ages who, like Maud, never gave up "the substance of things hoped for" will be captivated anew by the words of this remarkable woman.

Kindle, 352 pages
Expected publication: June 12th 2018
 by Candlewick Press
****
We’ve all heard of Anne of Green Gables and other novels by famed author L. M. Montgomery. I remember watching the series with Megan Follows and loving it, my initial impression was that the author shared the same personality traits as Anne did.

Right from the beginning I was captivated with the story of Montgomery's life and going in with no inclinations of what to expect I was blown away with her story.  From her childhood right to her final years Liz Rosenberg used personal journals to write this book.  This is non-fiction for young adults and was illustrated very nicely. 

It was her adult years that really stood out for me and you could say I was saddened with all she went through, it wasn't a time when women could be independent but Montgomery endured so much to follow her dreams.  The author wrote an in-depth story of what life was like in the late 1800's early 1900's until Montgomery’s end in 1942. There were a few times I got confused with the back-and-forth of time and sometimes I wondered if the frank talk about depression and it’s behavior (suffered by both wife and husband) might be too much for a younger reader.

I would have loved to see photos but given this was an advanced ebook they might appear in the print version.

I feel with all Montgomery went through and getting to know her better my desire to read more of her books has definitely peeked. Especially knowing her frame of mind while writing them. 

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

Sunday, May 27, 2018

Review: A Breath of Hope (Under Northern Skies #2) by Lauraine Snelling

Nilda Carlson has been trying to save enough money to go to America for months, so when a letter arrives, with an offer to pay her passage, she jumps at the chance. Her younger brother Ivar accompanies her, and they are thrilled to join older brother Rune and his family in the northern forests of Minnesota.

Signe and Rune Carlson are thrilled to welcome Nilda and Ivar to America, but life on the farm remains a struggle. Though Gerd has softened and grown to love the Carlson family, Einar is still harsh and unforgiving, obsessed solely with felling as many trees as possible. Rune is trying to build a new home for his wife and children, but Einar refuses to help and forbids anyone from the nearby community from stepping foot on his land. What dark secret must lie in his past to have caused him to isolate himself--and anyone living under his roof--in this way?

When a tragedy lays the truth bare, the Carlsons and Strands will have to come together like never before and become a true family.


Kindle, 336 pages
Published April 3rd 2018
 by Bethany House Publishers
*** 1/2

A Breath of Hope is book 2 in the Under Northern Skies Series. In book one we are introduced to Rune and Signe and I highly recommend reading The Promise of Dawn first. To see what this young family went through getting to America and the welcome their received, it will all make sense in this book to know the history.

The author did a great job of her character building with Einar, he is one cranky and nasty person. I was looking forward to figuring out what made him tick and why. The other characters are also well developed, flawed and likable.

The historical aspect was also presented in a manner that felt authentic and made me glad to be born when I was.  It's a tough job running a farm and logging with a young family where everything is done by hand.  Family and friends need to stick together and when that doesn't happen it can be very lonely and discouraging.  The Carlson's relied on their faith to sustain them through this period. The author knows the time period and it shows in her writing.

 I was engaged in this story, looking forward to some closure and waiting for parts of the storyline to open up - which wasn’t always the case, looking forward to book 3.

Thanks to the publisher (via Netgalley) for an advanced copy in exchange for honest review.

Monday, May 21, 2018

Review/Giveaway: Owen (The Tudor Trilogy #1) by Tony Riches

Based on the true story of a forgotten hero, OWEN is the epic tale of one young man’s incredible courage and resilience as he changes the course of English history. 

England 1422: Owen Tudor, a Welsh servant, waits in Windsor Castle to meet his new mistress, the beautiful and lonely Queen Catherine of Valois, widow of the warrior king, Henry V. Her infant son is crowned King of England and France, and while the country simmers on the brink of civil war, Owen becomes her protector. 

They fall in love, risking Owen’s life and Queen Catherine’s reputation—but how do they found the dynasty which changes British history – the Tudors? 

This is the first historical novel to fully explore the amazing life of Owen Tudor, grandfather of King Henry VII and the great-grandfather of King Henry VIII. Set against a background of the conflict between the Houses of Lancaster and York, which develops into what have become known as the Wars of the Roses, Owen’s story deserves to be told. 

Owen - Book One of the Tudor Trilogy is a new addition to story of the Tudors in the historical fiction tradition of C J Sansom, Conn Iggulden, Philippa Gregory and Hilary Mantel.


Publication Date: July 26, 2015
Preseli Press
eBook & Paperback; 318 Pages
Genre: Historical Fiction
****

Oh how I love reading about people and places in history that I am unfamiliar with! I’ve read during the late 1400’s but don't really know that much regarding the early path of the Tudor’s. 

Owen is the first book in Tony Riches’s Tudor Series, other than a few fictional characters he stayed true to history and events. There were lots of changes taking place after the death of King Henry V with his infant son now King of both England and France. Though there isn’t much known about Owen Tudor the author does a great job of filling in the gaps.  Told from his point of view made for an enjoyable read, his relationship with Queen Catherine as well as the struggles of court added enough action to keep the story flowing.  

I have read enough Tudor books set in King Henry VIII's reign that this one was a refreshing change (Owen is his great grandfather).  A chance to learn more about the Tudor line and the added bonus of continuing this series with Jasper and Henry. I love the cover for this book, it sets the tone and setting.  Tony Riches's knowledge of the time period shines through. Definitely a series and author I will continue reading.

 Be sure to click on the banner below for links to those reviews also.


Amazon US | Amazon UK | Barnes and Noble


Tony Riches is a full-time writer and lives with his wife in Pembrokeshire, West Wales. After several successful non-fiction books, Tony turned to novel writing and wrote 'Queen Sacrifice', set in 10th century Wales, followed by 'The Shell', a thriller set in present day Kenya.

A specialist in the history of the early Tudors, he is best known for his Tudor Trilogy. Tony’s other international best sellers include 'Warwick ~ The Man Behind the Wars of the Roses' and 'The Secret Diary of Eleanor Cobham'.

 For more information please visit Tony's website and his blog The Writing Desk.

He can also be found on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.

Giveaway

During the Blog Tour we will be giving away an eBook & Signed Paperback of each book!

To enter, please enter via the Gleam form below.

Giveaway Rules – Giveaway ends at 11:59pm EST on June 7th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
– Giveaway is open INTERNATIONALLY.
– Only one entry per household.
– All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspect of fraud is decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion.
– Winner has 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.

  Tudor Trilogy

be sure to click on banner for more stops on this tour, including reviews of Jasper and Henry

Friday, May 18, 2018

Review: The Game of Hope by Sandra Gulland

For Napoleon's stepdaughter, nothing is simple -- especially love. 

Paris, 1798.  Hortense de Beauharnais is engrossed in her studies at a boarding school for aristocratic girls, most of whom suffered tragic losses during the tumultuous days of the French Revolution. She loves to play and compose music, read and paint, and daydream about Christophe, her brother's dashing fellow officer. But Hortense is not an ordinary girl. Her beautiful, charming mother Josephine has married Napoleon Bonaparte, soon to become the most powerful man in France, but viewed by Hortense as a coarse, unworthy successor to her elegant father, who was guillotined during the Terror.     

Where will Hortense's future lie?

 Inspired by Hortense's real-life autobiography with charming glimpses of teen life long ago, this is the story of a girl chosen by fate to play a role she didn't choose.

Kindle Edition, 384 pages
Published May 1st 2018
by Penguin Teen
****

This is my second novel by Sandra Gulland and her first venture into YA, fitting as Hortense is a young adult herself. 

This is the first time reading anything about Hortense and I quite enjoyed it.  To get glimpses of the final years of the Revolution, though the eyes of the young, added that extra emotional element, it wasn't hard to feel empathy for what they went through.  The scars left were not always the physical ones.  Hortense didn’t ask to be stepdaughter of the famous Bonaparte but that was her lot in life. She is only 15 years old and has already experienced so much, her character was well-developed with memories and guilt of the past, along with a future not always of her choosing.

It’s definite from past books by this author that she has done an enormous amount of research into this time, based on actual events she stayed true to history.

The Game of Hope is a book that I was sad to see end, I would like to know where the next chapter in her life takes her (a sequel would be nice).

Thank you to the publisher (via Netgalley) for an advanced copy of this book in exchange for honest review.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Review: Together Forever (Orphan Train #2) by Jody Hedlund

Marianne Neumann has one goal in life: to find her lost younger sister, Sophie. When Marianne takes a job as a placing agent with the Children's Aid Society in 1858 New York, she not only hopes to give children a better life but seeks to discover whether Sophie ended up leaving the city on an orphan train.

 Andrew Brady, her fellow agent on her first placing trip, is a former schoolteacher who has an easy way with the children--firm but tender and funny. Underneath his handsome charm, though, seems to linger a grief that won't go away--and a secret from his past that he keeps hidden. As the two team up placing orphans amid small railroad towns in Illinois, they find themselves growing ever closer . . . until a shocking tragedy threatens to upend all their work and change one of their lives forever.

Kindle Edition, 352 pages
Published May 1st 2018
by Bethany House Publishers
*** 1/2

Together Forever is book 2 in the Orphan Train Series involving sisters Elise, Marianne and Sophie. With You Always is the first one and I highly recommend starting there to get a better sense of the history of these sisters.

As Marianne boards the train bound for Illinois she gets more than she bargained for. Her goal was to find her sister, Sophie, but rather she bonds with the kids and the distant Andrew who is also hiding secrets from his past. When tragedy strikes so much changes.

Together Forever is a story of self discovery, forgiving oneself and of letting go. I enjoyed the history aspect here, how scared those kids must have been traveling and then placed with complete strangers. The romance part played out somewhat as I expected. Faith is a big part of the story especially with 2 characters carrying a lot of guilt.

This was an enjoyable story highlighting the early life of The Children's Aid Society, how it operated and the struggles of the children and workers.

This series continues with Searching For You scheduled to be released in Dec. 2018.


Thank you to Bethany House for an advanced copy in exchange for honest review.

Cover Reveal: The Blue by Nancy Bilyeau



The Blue by Nancy Bilyeau

Publication: Fall 2018 Endeavour Quill
Genre: Historical Fiction

What would you do to possess the most coveted color in the world? The year is 1758, and a headstrong woman artist, 24-year-old Genevieve Planche, is caught up in a high-stakes race to discover the ultimate color, one that threatens to become as deadly as it is lucrative. When Genevieve's mission is complicated by her falling in love with the chemist behind the formula, she discovers the world of blue is filled with ruthless men and women and how high the stakes really are. The story sweeps readers from the worlds of the silk-weaving refugees of London’s Spitalfields and the luxury-obsessed drawing rooms of Grosvenor Square to the porcelain factory of Derby and, finally, magnificent Sevres Porcelain in the shadow of Versailles. And running through it all: the dangerous allure of the color blue.

"Bilyeau’s sumptuous tale of mystery and intrigue transports the reader into the heart of the 18th century porcelain trade—where the price of beauty was death"’ E.M. Powell, author of the Stanton & Barling medieval mystery series.


Praise for Nancy Bilyeau's Fiction

"Bilyeau deftly weaves extensive historical detail throughout, but the real draw of this suspenseful novel is its juicy blend of lust, murder, conspiracy, and betrayal." —Review of The Crown published in Oprah, which made the book a pick of the month.

 "English history buffs and mystery fans alike will revel in Nancy Bilyeau's richly detailed sequel to The Crown." —Parade magazine review of The Chalice

 "The story in The Tapestry is fiction, but it is a sheer joy to have Henry’s court recreated with an eye to the reality of its venality, rather than the trendy Wolf Hall airbrushing of its violence and rapacity. The tone is always modern and light, but with none of the clumsy thigh-slapping faux period language. Bilyeau’s writing is effortless, vivid, gripping and poignant, bringing Tudor England to life with sparkling zest. If you want to see the Reformation from the side of the English people rather than the self-serving court, it is tough to do better than this trilogy." —Review of The Tapestry by Dominic Selwood, published in The Catholic Herald

 "As always, Bilyeau has done her historical homework, bringing the drama, and details of Henry VIII’s court to life. You’re basically watching the rise and fall of Catherine Howard, Thomas Cromwell, Walter Hungerford and Thomas Culpepper through Joanna’s eyes. Her private moments with the king were among my favorites in this book. This a true historical thriller. It’s a Tudor novel full of suspense, intrigue, brutality, and death. It’s a well researched page turner. If you’re looking for an exciting historical read, this will be on your list." —Review of The Tapestry by Sandra Alvarez for Medievalists.net

 “Nancy Bilyeau's passion for history infuses her books and transports us back to the dangerous world of Tudor England. Vivid characters and gripping plots are at the heart of this wonderful trilogy. Warmly recommended!” —Alison Weir, author of The Marriage Game: A Novel of Queen Elizabeth I and many bestsellers

 "Nancy Bilyeau's polished, inventive debut has all the ingredients of the best historical fiction: a broad cast of characters, well-imagined settings, and vivid story-telling... In Joanna Stafford, Bilyeau has given us a memorable character who is prepared to risk her life to save what she most values, while Stafford's desperate search for a lost religious relic will satisfy even the most ardent mystery fans." —Deborah Harkness, author of A Discovery of Witches

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


Nancy Bilyeau has worked on the staffs of InStyle, DuJour, Rolling Stone, Entertainment Weekly, and Good Housekeeping. She is currently a regular contributor to Town & Country and the editor of the digital magazine The Big Thrill. Her screenplays have placed in several prominent industry competitions. Two scripts reached the semi-finalist round of the Nicholl Fellowships of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences. A native of the Midwest, she earned a bachelor's degree from the University of Michigan. THE CROWN, her first novel and an Oprah pick, was published in 2012; the sequel, THE CHALICE, followed in 2013. The third in the trilogy, THE TAPESTRY, was published by Touchstone in 2015.

 The books have also been published by Orion in the UK and seven other countries.

 Nancy lives in New York City with her husband and two children. 

For more information, please visit Nancy Bilyeau's website.

You can also find her on FacebookTwitter, and Goodreads.




Sunday, May 13, 2018

Review/Giveaway: The Dutch Wife by Ellen Keith

Amsterdam, May 1943. As the tulips bloom and the Nazis tighten their grip across the city, the last signs of Dutch resistance are being swept away. Marijke de Graaf and her husband are arrested and deported to different concentration camps in Germany. Marijke is given a terrible choice: to suffer a slow death in the labour camp or—for a chance at survival—to join the camp brothel.

 On the other side of the barbed wire, SS officer Karl Müller arrives at the camp hoping to live up to his father’s expectations of wartime glory. But faced with a brutal routine of overseeing executions and punishments, he longs for an escape. When he encounters the newly arrived Marijke, this meeting changes their lives forever.

 Woven into the narrative across space and time is Luciano Wagner’s ordeal in 1977 Buenos Aires, during the heat of the Argentine Dirty War. In his struggle to endure military captivity, he searches for ways to resist from a prison cell he may never leave.

 From the Netherlands to Germany to Argentina, The Dutch Wife braids together the stories of three individuals who share a dark secret and are entangled in two of the most oppressive reigns of terror in modern history. This is a novel about the blurred lines between love and lust, abuse and resistance, and right and wrong, as well as the capacity for ordinary people to persevere and do the unthinkable in extraordinary circumstances.

Kindle ebook, 384 pages
Published April 24th 2018
by Patrick Crean Editions
*****


As one who is always on the lookout for HF pertaining to the Netherlands the title and cover is what drew me to The Dutch Wife. It’s also Ellen Keith’s debut - how exciting is that! Only a small percentage of this book takes place in Holland but it’s enough for me, I didn’t totally expect to feel such an emotional connection to Marijke, really it should have been her husband Theo. You see back in 1943 my dad was taken from Holland to a Labour Camp in Germany, my parents never talked of the war years which is one of the reasons I am drawn to this genre.

The author has really done her homework here, the amount of research was evident. She didn’t hold back and some might find some of the details overwhelming. She told of the conditions in these camps vividly, no matter how dark and heartbreaking. For me there was a lot of learning that took place and though the characters are fictional what took place both in Germany and Argentina were based on fact.  I was not aware of what took place in the ‘70's in Argentina and that was a real eye opener. This book is told from 3 different POV’s with the added bonus of 2 being male - that doesn’t happen often and it’s refreshing for a change.

The Dutch Wife is a powerful, well written story of survival, secrets and heartache. It’s one of those that will stay with me for a long time.

Last month I had the privilege of attending an author event at Harper Collins Canada with Ellen Keith and have a signed copy of The Dutch Wife to give to a lucky reader (thank you Harper Collins)

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Thursday, May 10, 2018

Spotlight/Giveaway: Trouble In Glamour Town by S.R. Mallery

Publication Date: November 12, 2017

eBook & Paperback; 202 Pages
ISBN-13: 978-1979566070
Genre: Historical Fiction/Romance/Mystery

Murder. Corruption. Romance. Movie stars. A modern day TV shoot ‘em up? No. It’s 1926 Old Hollywood, and a film producer is gunned down in cold blood. In comes Rosie, a pretty bit-player, who, in spite of her stage-mother’s expectations, just longs to be happy. Silent screen idols Clara Bow, Gloria Swanson, Lon Chaney, and Rudolph Valentino float in and out, as Los Angeles’ corruption is exposed, the era described, and a chase to find the killer revs up before there’s another hit.

"Trouble in Glamour Town is very historically accurate, portraying the real workings of the Hollywood sleaze, dishonesty and corruption happening at that time. S.R. Mallery is a gifted author who drew me into the story from the first word and kept me reading until the very last page...Trouble in Glamour Town is an old fashioned type of murder mystery story and is a very good read." - Trudi LoPreto for Readers' Favorite

Amazon US | Amazon UK


S.R. Mallery, two-time READERS’ FAVORITE Gold Medal Winner, has been labeled nothing short of 'eclectic'. She has been a singer, a calligrapher, a quilt designer, and an ESL teacher. As a writer, History is her focus and is woven into her stories with a delicate thread. When people talk about the news of the day, or listen to music, her imagination likens the story to a similar kind of news in the past and is conjuring up scenes between characters she has yet to meet. S.R. Mallery's books include The Dolan Girls, Genteel Secrets, Unexpected Gifts, Sewing Can Be Dangerous And Other Small Threads, Tales to Count On, and Trouble in Glamour Town.

 For more information, please visit S. R. Mallery's website.

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



Giveaway

During the Blog Tour we will be giving away four eBooks of Trouble in Glamour Town!
To enter, please enter via the Gleam form below.
  Giveaway Rules – Giveaway ends at 11:59pm EST on May 25th. You must be 18 or older to enter. – Giveaway is open internationally. – Only one entry per household. – All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspect of fraud is decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion. – Winner has 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.

  Trouble in Glamour Town

click on banner for more stops on this tour

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Review: Beauty in the Broken Places: A Memoir of Love, Faith, and Resilience by Allison Pataki

A deeply moving memoir about two lives that were changed in the blink of an eye, and the love that helped them rewrite their future

 Five months pregnant, on a flight to their “babymoon,” Allison Pataki turned to her husband when he asked if his eye looked strange, and watched him suddenly lose consciousness. After an emergency landing, she discovered that Dave—a healthy thirty-year-old athlete and surgical resident—had suffered a rare and life-threatening stroke. Next thing Allison knew, she was sitting alone in the ER in Fargo, North Dakota, waiting to hear if her husband would survive the night.

 When Dave woke up, he could not carry memories from hour to hour, much less from one day to the next. Allison lost the Dave she knew and loved when he lost consciousness on the plane. Within a few months, she found herself caring for both a newborn and a sick husband, struggling with the fear of what was to come.

 As a way to make sense of the pain and chaos of their new reality, Allison started to write daily letters to Dave. Not only would she work to make sense of the unfathomable experiences unfolding around her, but her letters would provide Dave with the memories he could not make on his own. She was writing to preserve their past, protect their present, and fight for their future. Those letters became the foundation for this beautiful, intimate memoir. And in the process, she fell in love with her husband all over again.

 This is a manifesto for living, an ultimately uplifting story about the transformative power of faith and resilience. It’s a tale of a husband’s turbulent road to recovery, the shifting nature of marriage, and the struggle of loving through pain and finding joy in the broken places.

Kindle Edition, 256 pages
Published May 1st 2018
by Random House
****

Life can change in a split second, in the blink of an eye, as it is recounted in Allison Pataki's new book, Beauty in the Broken Places.   Allison vividly writes about her journey after her husband, Dave, suffers a devastating stroke at the young age of 30 years.

She found healing and strength while writing letters to her husband, she bared her soul and was honest in the struggles both physically and mentally.  Strokes are such a scary thing and having experienced it in my family I was sympathetic towards this family before I even started this book.  It's a slow process of recovery and a strong support system is necessary, which (thankfully) this family had.

Allison recounts who Dave was before the stroke as she writes about their meeting, courtship and anticipation of their first child. Her fears of the future is only natural and she talks how her faith sustained her.

This is a lovely memoir and one I highly recommend.

Thanks to the publisher (via Netgalley) for an advance copy in exchange for honest review.




Spotlight: A Slave of the Shadows by Naomi Finley


  


Publication Date: March 5, 2018
Huntson Press Inc.
eBook & Paperback
Genre: Historical Fiction

In 1850 Charleston, South Carolina, brutality and cruelty simmer just under the genteel surface of Southern society. In an era where ladies are considered mere property, beautiful and headstrong Willow Hendricks’ father has filled her life with turmoil, secrets, and lies. Her father rules her life until she finds a kindred spirit in spunky, outspoken Whitney Barry, a northerner from Boston. Together these Charleston belles are driven to take control of their own lives—and they are plunged into fear and chaos in their quest to fight for the rights of slaves. Against all odds, these feisty women fight to secure freedom and equality for those made powerless and persecuted by a supposedly superior race. Only when they’ve lost it all do they find a new beginning. Book 1 presents Willow and Whitney—and the reader—with the hardships the slaves endure at the hands of their white masters.

Amazon | Barnes and Noble | Chapters Indigo | iBooks | Kobo



Naomi lives in Northern Alberta. Her love for travel means her suitcase is always on standby while she awaits her next plane ticket and adventure. Her love for history and the Deep South is driven by the several years she spent as a child living in a Tennessee plantation house. She comes from a family of six sisters. She married her high school sweetheart and has two teenage children and two dogs named Ginger and Snaps. Creativity and passion are the focus of her life. Apart from writing fiction, her interests include interior design, cooking new recipes, throwing lavish dinner parties, movies, health, and fitness. A Slave of the Shadows is her first novel.

 For more information, please visit Naomi Finley's website.

You can also find her on FacebookTwitterInstagram, and Goodreads.


Giveaway

During the Blog Tour we will be giving away a Kindle Fire HD 8" 32GB & signed copy of A Slave of the Shadows!

To enter, please enter via the Gleam form below.
  Giveaway Rules
– Giveaway ends at 11:59pm EST on May 22nd. You must be 18 or older to enter.
– Giveaway is open to residents in the US/UK/Canada 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.

  A Slave of the Shadows


click on banner for more stops on this tour (including reviews,interviews and excerpts).

Sunday, May 6, 2018

Review: Songs of Love and War (Deverill Chronicles #1) by Santa Montefiore

Their lives were mapped out ahead of them. But love and war will change everything…

 West Cork, Ireland, 1900. The year marks the start of a new century, and the birth of three very different women: Kitty Deverill, the flame-haired Anglo-Irish daughter of the castle, Bridie Doyle, the daughter of the Irish cook and Celia Deverill, Kitty's flamboyant English cousin.

 Together they grow up in the dreamy grounds of the family's grand estate, Castle Deverill. Yet their peaceful way of life is threatened when Ireland's struggle for independence reaches their isolated part of the country.

 A bastion of British supremacy, the castle itself is in danger of destruction as the war closes in around it, and Kitty, in love with the rebel Jack O'Leary and enflamed by her own sense of patriotism, is torn between loyalty to her Anglo-Irish family and her deep love of Ireland and Jack.

 Wrenched apart by betrayal, their world turned to ash, the girls' friendship seems all but lost as they are swept to different parts of the globe. Yet, they have one thing in common: a fierce and unwavering longing for Castle Deverill and all the memories contained within it.

Kindle Edition, 528 pages
Published August 27th 2015 
by Simon & Schuster UK
****

I am Maggie O'Leary, Lord Deverill, you have wronged me and my descendants by taking our land and breaking out spirits.  Until you right those wrongs I curse you and your heirs to an eternity of unrest and to the world of the undead.
Maggie O'Leary, 1662

Castle Deverill is cursed.

The first book in a planned trilogy, it is also published as The Girl in the Castle.

I have been a fan of Santa Montefiore since reading her book Secrets of the Lighthouse, perfect in audio format as well as reading.  She has been compared to Kate Morton and Beatriz Williams, those are big shoes to fill and she pulls it off.

Kitty Deverill was born on the ninth day of the ninth month in the year 1900 to a mother that didn’t really want her and a relatively absent father, she spends most of her time with grandparents at Castle Deverill. The ghosts of her ancestors kept her company and this aspect is a lovely addition to the story. The Deverills are an English family living in Ireland and it’s during the fight for independence that most the action and drama takes over, though the repercussions continue for years to come. With rich detail and staying true to the history I was drawn in to the struggles and convictions of the Irish. The amount of research the author has done is evident, her passion for the time period shows very nicely here, I had no problem envisioning the landscape, the castle and lifestyle of the different social classes.

The plot was intricate with a story line that involved a wide range of characters, whether those making brief appearances or the one's this book revolves around, they were well developed, flawed, unique and authentic.

This is definitely a series I will continue to read (already listening to the audiobook of The Daughters of Ireland ). Thanks to the publisher via Netgalley for a copy of this book in exchange for a honest review.

Saturday, May 5, 2018

Audio Review: Lost in Shangri-la by Mitchell Zuckoff

On May 13, 1945, twenty-four American servicemen and WACs boarded a transport plane for a sightseeing trip over “Shangri-La,” a beautiful and mysterious valley deep within the jungle-covered mountains of Dutch New Guinea. Unlike the peaceful Tibetan monks of James Hilton’s bestselling novel Lost Horizon, this Shangri-La was home to spear-carrying tribesmen, warriors rumored to be cannibals.

 But the pleasure tour became an unforgettable battle for survival when the plane crashed. Miraculously, three passengers pulled through. Margaret Hastings, barefoot and burned, had no choice but to wear her dead best friend’s shoes. John McCollom, grieving the death of his twin brother also aboard the plane, masked his grief with stoicism. Kenneth Decker, too, was severely burned and suffered a gaping head wound.

 Emotionally devastated, badly injured, and vulnerable to the hidden dangers of the jungle, the trio faced certain death unless they left the crash site. Caught between man-eating headhunters and enemy Japanese, the wounded passengers endured a harrowing hike down the mountainside—a journey into the unknown that would lead them straight into a primitive tribe of superstitious natives who had never before seen a white man—or woman.

 Drawn from interviews, declassified U.S. Army documents, personal photos and mementos, a survivor’s diary, a rescuer’s journal, and original film footage, Lost in Shangri-La recounts this incredible true-life adventure for the first time. Mitchell Zuckoff reveals how the determined trio—dehydrated, sick, and in pain—traversed the dense jungle to find help; how a brave band of paratroopers risked their own lives to save the survivors; and how a cowboy colonel attempted a previously untested rescue mission to get them out.

 By trekking into the New Guinea jungle, visiting remote villages, and rediscovering the crash site, Zuckoff also captures the contemporary natives’ remembrances of the long-ago day when strange creatures fell from the sky. A riveting work of narrative nonfiction that vividly brings to life an odyssey at times terrifying, enlightening, and comic, Lost in Shangri-La is a thrill ride from beginning to end.

Audio, 8 hours, 32 minutes
Published April 26th 2011
by HarperAudio
*** 

On May 13, 1945 a sightseeing trip ended deep in the valley of Dutch New Guinea, Shangri-La.
This was an interesting story about the survivors deep in the jungle, rumored to be surrounded with cannibals and so rugged the rescue mission was difficult.  It's long synopsis above, so there really isn't any need to mention more.

This was an audio read for me and I’m glad I went that route, sometimes nonfiction is good that way, I did have a copy of the book and was able to see pictures and maps of the area.

It was an interesting story, educational though I wasn’t totally mesmerized by the story, in fact it took me a couple of months to finish it.  The author definitely did his homework presenting this story, which is rich with details, especially involving those supporting the 3 survivors, I would have loved to have gotten more of an emotional vibe about Decker, M Collom and Hastings, but all in all I'm glad to have learned more about the effects of WW 2 outside of Europe.

Book and audio from my personal library.