Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Spotlight: An Argument of Blood by J.A. Ironside & Matthew Willis


Publication Date: June 19, 2017
Penmore Press
Paperback & eBook; 369 Pages
Series: Oath and Crown, Book 1
Genre: Fiction/Historical/War

William, the nineteen-year-old duke of Normandy, is enjoying the full fruits of his station. Life is a succession of hunts, feasts, and revels, with little attention paid to the welfare of his vassals. Tired of the young duke’s dissolute behaviour and ashamed of his illegitimate birth, a group of traitorous barons force their way into his castle. While William survives their assassination attempt, his days of leisure are over. He’ll need help from the king of France to secure his dukedom from the rebels.

On the other side of the English Channel lives ten-year-old Ælfgifa, the malformed and unwanted youngest sister to the Anglo-Saxon Jarl, Harold Godwinson. Ælfgifa discovers powerful rivalries in the heart of the state when her sister Ealdgyth is given in a political marriage to King Edward, and she finds herself caught up in intrigues and political manoeuvring as powerful men vie for influence. Her path will collide with William’s, and both must fight to shape the future.

An Argument of Blood is the first of two sweeping historical novels on the life and battles of William the Conqueror.

Amazon US | Amazon UK | Barnes and Noble | Chapters


About the Authors


J.A. Ironside (Jules) grew up in rural Dorset, surrounded by books - which pretty much set he up for life as a complete bibliophile. She loves speculative fiction of all stripes, especially fantasy and science fiction, although when it comes to the written word, she's not choosy and will read almost anything. Actually it would be fair to say she starts to go a bit peculiar if she doesn’t get through at least three books a week. She writes across various genres, both adult and YA fiction, and it’s a rare story if there isn’t a fantastical or speculative element in there somewhere.
Jules has had several short stories published in magazines and anthologies, as well as recorded for literature podcasts. Books 1 and 2 of her popular Unveiled series are currently available with the 3rd and 4th books due for release Autumn/ Winter 2017. She also co-authored the sweeping epic historical Oath and Crown Duology with Matthew Willis, released June 2017 from Penmore Press. Jules now lives on the edge of the Cotswold way with her boyfriend creature and a small black and white cat, both of whom share a god-complex.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads


Matthew Willis is an author of historical fiction, SF, fantasy and non-fiction. In June 2017 An Argument of Blood, the first of two historical novels about the Norman Conquest co-written with J.A. Ironside, was published. In 2015 his story Energy was shortlisted for the Bridport short story award. Matthew studied Literature and History of Science at the University of Kent, where he wrote an MA thesis on Joseph Conrad and sailed for the University in national competitions. He subsequently worked as a journalist for Autosport and F1 Racing magazines, before switching to a career with the National Health Service. His first non-fiction book, a history of the Blackburn Skua WW2 naval dive bomber, was published in 2007. He now has four non fiction books published with a fifth, a biography of test pilot Duncan Menzies, due later in 2017. He currently lives in Southampton and writes both fiction and non-fiction for a living.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads


Giveaway

During the Book Blast we will be giving away a signed copy of An Argument of Blood!

To enter, please enter via the Gleam form below.

  Giveaway Rules
– Giveaway ends at 11:59pm EST on February 7th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
– Giveaway is open INTERNATIONALLY.
– Only one entry per household.
– Winner has 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.

  Argument of Blood

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Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Review: The Pearl Sister by Lucinda Riley


From the breathtaking beaches of Thailand to the barely tamed wilds of colonial Australia, The Pearl Sister is the next captivating story in New York Times bestselling author Lucinda Riley’s epic series about two women searching for a place to call home


 CeCe D’Aplièse has always felt like an outcast. But following the death of her father—the reclusive billionaire affectionately called Pa Salt by the six daughters he adopted from around the globe—she finds herself more alone than ever. With nothing left to lose, CeCe delves into the mystery of her familial origins. The only clues she holds are a black and white photograph and the name of a female pioneer who once traversed the globe from Scotland to Australia.

 One hundred years earlier, Kitty McBride, a clergyman's daughter, abandoned her conservative upbringing to serve as the companion to a wealthy woman traveling from Edinburgh to Adelaide. Her ticket to a new land brings the adventure she dreamed of…and a love that she had never imagined.

 When CeCe reaches the searing heat and dusty plains of the Red Centre of Australia, something deep within her responds to the energy of the area and the ancient culture of the Aboriginal people, and her soul reawakens. As she comes closer to finding the truth of her ancestry, CeCe begins to believe that this untamed, vast continent could offer her what she’s always yearned for: a sense of belonging.

 Just as The Shadow Sister was an “engaging and mesmerizing story of self-discovery and love” (Library Journal, starred review), The Pearl Sister is your next “perfect curl-up-in-an-armchair read” (Daily Mail, UK) from Lucinda Riley.

Kindle Edition, 528 pages
Published January 23rd 2018 
by Atria Books
****

The Pearl Sister is book 4 in the Seven Sisters Series. While each story is unique and centers around one of the six sisters and can definitely be read as a standalone I feel that by the time the final book is out each of the sisters story should be read.  What I love about this series is that there are not huge multi year gaps between each book but rather just a year or less which keeps the story fresh in my mind and the added excitement of the next installment.

This isn’t a small book coming in at just over 500 pages, it might sound daunting but it was a pleasure to read. CeCe is one of the sisters I have been very intrigued with, her dominating spirit over sister Star has me wondering how and why she became that way. Though those questions weren’t thoroughly answered in this book her realization came to light.

The Pearl Sister takes place in Australia mostly, the great outback.  There we travel back in time to a young woman named Kitty, originally from England. In this book I found both the past and current stories interesting (usually I always have one preference over the other). I loved Kitty, I loved her determination, her compassion and watching her change after life throws obstacles in her way, she didn’t give up. The aboriginal people played a big part here, their treatment and lifestyle opened my eyes to what they went through. That’s one of things I love about this series is that the author takes us to different places around the globe where I can learn and visualize so much.

As CeCe searches and uncovers her family history she discovers more about herself than she anticipated.

The Pearl Sister is a well written family drama filled with love and loss, determination, culture and loyalty. It is a look at the pearl industry as well as highlighting real historical events. Lucinda Riley has taken on a big task with this big seven book series and I anxiously await the next installment (The Moon Sister releasing sometime in 2018). 

Thank you to the publisher via Negalley for an advanced copies of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Click on the covers below to take you to my thought on the first 3 books in this wonderful series.




Monday, January 29, 2018

Review: The Promise Between Us by Barbara Claypole White

This is an eye-opening and realistic exploration of mental illness—a topic that greatly deserves to be front and center.” —Jodi Picoult, New York Times bestselling author of Small Great Things

Metal artist Katie Mack is living a lie. Nine years ago she ran away from her family in Raleigh, North Carolina, consumed by the irrational fear that she would harm Maisie, her newborn daughter. Over time she’s come to grips with the mental illness that nearly destroyed her, and now funnels her pain into her art. Despite longing for Maisie, Katie honors an agreement with the husband she left behind—to change her name and never return.

But when she and Maisie accidentally reunite, Katie can’t ignore the familiarity of her child’s compulsive behavior. Worse, Maisie worries obsessively about bad things happening to her pregnant stepmom. Katie has the power to help, but can she reconnect with the family she abandoned?

To protect Maisie, Katie must face the fears that drove her from home, accept the possibility of love, and risk exposing her heart-wrenching secret.

 Paperback, 384 pages
 Published January 16th 2018 
by Lake Union Publishing
****



I was first introduced to Barbara Claypole White with her book Echoes of Family (click on to see my review) and was blown away with it, it's one of those books that has stayed with me long after I turned the last page.  It was the first book I've read dealing with mental illness and opened my eyes, giving me a new appreciation for those that suffer from it but also their loved ones. The Promise Between Us takes on OCD, a subject that I am relatively unfamiliar with.

Told from various points of view (I didn’t find it confusing or overwhelming) I was able to get inside the minds of Katie and Maisie, to get a full understand of what OCD entails and their emotional state.  Each of their stories is well written and unique, meshing together into a compelling story with flawed characters centring around this young girl. Though in truth they need to help themselves as well.

The Promise Between Us is a story of love, reconciliation and hope. There is healing and  forgiveness, pulling at the heart strings. 

What I appreciate most is that the author has first hand experience here, giving this book that extra authentic feel.  Definitely an author I recommend.



Bestselling author Barbara Claypole White creates hopeful family drama with a healthy dose of mental illness.

Originally from England, she writes and gardens in the forests of North Carolina where she lives with her beloved OCD family.

Her novels include The Unfinished Garden, The In-Between Hour, The Perfect Son, andEchoes of Family.

The Promise Between Us, a story of redemption, sacrifice, and OCD, has a publication date of January 16th, 2018. She is also an OCD Advocate for the A2A Alliance, a nonprofit group that promotes advocacy over adversity.

To connect with Barbara, please visit www.barbaraclaypolewhite.com, or follow her on Facebook. She’s always on Facebook.

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Saturday, January 27, 2018

Review: Mrs. Mike by Benedict Freedman, Nancy Freedman

Mrs. Mike' is a love story, a true story; the story of Katherine Mary O’Fallon, a sixteen year-old Irish girl from Boston, and Sergeant Mike Flannigan of the Canadian Mounted Police who meet at her uncle’s ranch in Alberta, Canada where she is sent to recover from pleurisy. They meet, they court, they marry and, following Mike’s orders, move to Hudson’s Hope far into the interior of Alberta.

But it is more than a love story between two people: it is also a love story of the land and animals, of the beavers and the ice, the northern lights and the fires, of whooping cough and whiskey running. It is a love story of the First Peoples and their struggles, the immigrants and their hopes and all the people who came and went through Mike and Kathy’s lives.



 Kindle Edition, 324 pages
by Berkley
(first published 1947)
****

Canadian historical stories are ones I am always on the lookout for, they seem to be few and far between.  But will some digging I have discovered some little gems out there. Mrs. Mike was first published in 1947, considered a classic and tells the story of Katherine Mary O'Fallon and her life with Sergeant Mike Flanagan in the Canadian wilderness. The year is 1907 when Katherine is only 16 years old and journeys to Calgary where she meets her future husband, a RCMP (Royal Canadian Mounted Police).

There are many things that I really enjoyed about this book including a glimpse of the harsh reality of life in a desolate land where your closest neighbour could be days away. For Mary and Mike it's not always easy, there is heartache, loneliness along with plenty of struggles and even danger. Told from Mary‘s point of view she doesn’t hold back on what life is like, especially for someone so young, naive and unfamiliar with the climate, but her struggles are not just with the land but the natives and mother nature.

This was a relatively quick read and categorized as a love story (which isn’t a favourite genre of mine) but I really enjoyed this one and recommend.

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Spotlight/Giveaway: Where Do I Go by Beverly Magid


Publication Date: October 9, 2017
BeWrite Press
Paperback & eBook; 138 Pages
Genre: Fiction/Historical/Jewish


READ THE FIRST CHAPTER. It's 1908 and Leah and her boys have immigrated to New York's Lower East Side to live with her brothers after surviving a pogrom in their Russian village. She is determined to find a home in America but the conditions are harsher than she expected. The garment sweat shops are brutal to work in and it's essential that her son Benny works after school to help with expenses. Unbeknownst to her he runs errands for the local bookie/gangster. Life isn't what Leah hoped for, but she's a fighter and not willing to accept the awful conditions at Wollowitz's Factory. She's on a journey to find her own voice, to find a place for herself and her sons, to find a little beauty and romance in her life.

Available in Paperback and eBook on Amazon


Beverly Magid, before writing her novel, was a journalist and an entertainment and celebrity PR executive, who interviewed many luminaries, including John Lennon, Jim Croce and the Monty Python gang, and as a publicist represented clients in music, tv and film, ranging from Whoopi Goldberg, John Denver and Dolly Parton to Tom Skerritt, Martin Landau, Kathy Ireland and Jacqueline Bisset.

Beverly is a longtime west coast resident who still considers herself a New Yorker. Among the social issues she’s passionate about is literacy and she worked with KorehLA to mentor elementary children in reading. Also she has been an advocate for Jewish World Watch, an organization dedicated to working against genocide and to aid the victims of war atrocities. On a lighter side, she is also a volunteer at the Los Angeles Zoo, monitoring animal behavior for their Research Department.

She is a news and political junkie who supports environmental, animal and human rights issues. She believes most passionately that “We must remain vigilant to the those who would erode the rights of people around the world and work to defeat them.”

For more information, please visit Beverly Magid's website.

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


Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, January 15
Review at Donna's Book Blog
Feature at What Is That Book About
  Tuesday, January 16
Guest Post at My Reading Corner
  Wednesday, January 17
Excerpt at WS Momma Readers Nook
  Monday, January 22
Review at Locks, Hooks and Books
Feature at View From the Birdhouse
Excerpt at Myths, Legends, Books & Coffee Pots
  Tuesday, January 23
Feature at A Literary Vacation
  Thursday, January 25
Feature at Just One More Chapter
  Friday, January 26
Review at Life of a Female Bibliophile
Interview at Dianne Ascroft's Blog
  Sunday, January 28
Feature at Books of a Shy Girl
  Monday, January 29
Review at Back Porchervations
  Tuesday, January 30 Review &
Interview at Elizabeth Jane Corbett
  Wednesday, January 31
Review at Cup of Sensibility
Feature at A Holland Reads Thursday, February 1
Review at Svetlana's Reads and Views
  Friday, February 2
Guest Post at Passages to the Past

Giveaway

During the Book Blast we will be giving away a signed copy of WHERE DO I GO!

To enter, please enter via the Gleam form below. Giveaway Rules
– Giveaway ends at 11:59pm EST on February 2nd.
– Giveaway is open to residents in the US only.
– Only one entry per household.
– Winner has 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.

  Where Do I Go Blog Tour

Monday, January 22, 2018

Review: The Child Finder by Rene Denfeld

A haunting, richly atmospheric, and deeply suspenseful novel from the acclaimed author of The Enchanted about an investigator who must use her unique insights to find a missing little girl.

"Where are you, Madison Culver? Flying with the angels, a silver speck on a wing? Are you dreaming, buried under snow? Or—is it possible—you are still alive?"

Three years ago, Madison Culver disappeared when her family was choosing a Christmas tree in Oregon’s Skookum National Forest. She would be eight-years-old now—if she has survived. Desperate to find their beloved daughter, certain someone took her, the Culvers turn to Naomi, a private investigator with an uncanny talent for locating the lost and missing. Known to the police and a select group of parents as "the Child Finder," Naomi is their last hope.

Naomi’s methodical search takes her deep into the icy, mysterious forest in the Pacific Northwest, and into her own fragmented past. She understands children like Madison because once upon a time, she was a lost girl, too.

As Naomi relentlessly pursues and slowly uncovers the truth behind Madison’s disappearance, shards of a dark dream pierce the defenses that have protected her, reminding her of a terrible loss she feels but cannot remember. If she finds Madison, will Naomi ultimately unlock the secrets of her own life?

Told in the alternating voices of Naomi and a deeply imaginative child, The Child Finder is a breathtaking, exquisitely rendered literary page-turner about redemption, the line between reality and memories and dreams, and the human capacity to survive.

 Paperback, 288 pages 
Published September 5th 2017 
by Harper
****

I have a confession to make, I read this book without any knowledge of what it was about, caving to peer pressure. I have many likes on Facebook of various book clubs and reading groups, this book has been talked about a lot. When the opportunity came to purchase for only a couple dollars at a local thrift store I jumped at the opportunity, and last week I dove in.

I don’t usually read reviews of books until after I have written my own but in this case I took a peek. While most of the reviews are five star there are some one stars and I can see their point. Given the subject matter and the possibility of some disturbing scenarios I did proceed with caution, there was nothing graphic and I can honestly say I was glued to the pages.

The story begins with the disappearance of five-year-old Madison in Oregon’s wild wilderness and that was three years ago. Naomi is a private investigator with a passion for searching for lost and missing children, sometimes the endings are happy and other times not so.

What can I say here that won’t reveal the outcome? Alternating between Naomi and Madison I was given a real sense of the emotional state, circumstances and the mystery here. There are many layers to the story that are emotional (how can they not be with this subject matter ), but I found the descriptive writing very hypnotizing. It flowed smoothly with insight into the characters background revealing why Naomi is not without scars herself.  The scenery was vivid, the harshness of the North Pacific just added to the story.

Taking only a couple days to read this one, this is one I recommend, it has the right blend of mystery, suspense and an added fairy tale feel to it.


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.

Excerpt

“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 www.aewasserman.com.

You can also connect with her on Facebook and Twitter.


Giveaway

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. 
Unpredictable. 
Unforgiving. 
Untamed. 

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.