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.


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

 “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.


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.


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

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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.

Thursday, May 3, 2018

Review: On a Cold Dark Sea by Elizabeth Blackwell

On April 15, 1912, three women climbed into Lifeboat 21 and watched in horror as the Titanic sank into the icy depths. They were strangers then…

 Con artist Charlotte Digby lied her way through London and onto the Titanic. The disaster could be her chance at a new life—if she hides the truth about her past. Esme Harper, a wealthy American, mourns the end of a passionate affair and fears that everything beautiful is slipping from her grasp. And Anna Halversson, a Swedish farm girl in search of a fresh start in America, is tormented by the screams that ring out from the water. Is one of them calling her name?

 Twenty years later, a sudden death brings the three women back together, forcing them to face the impossible choices they made, the inconceivable loss, and the secrets they have kept for far too long.

Kindle Edition, 277 pages
 Published April 10th 2018
by Lake Union Publishing

On a Cold Dark Sea is the story of three women who survived the Titanic, much of the first third of the book is devoted to telling the history of these women and I found that very interesting.  It gave a great first impression, Charlotte, Esme and Anna were from different social classes on the ship (1st, 2nd and 3rd class passengers) and they meet on the lifeboat, I was anxious to see what happened and what lay ahead.

There was really nothing new to add to the Titanic story, I think we all know how and what happened here with the iceberg, under loaded lifeboats and mostly women and children first.  Though these 3 women are fictional characters the book is based on the real event.

I won’t go into detail about what happens but 20 years later they are connected again where long kept secrets are finally revealed. In fact the majority of the story does not take place on the Titanic.

On a Cold Dark Sea is a story of survival, guilt and to be honest there were times I wondered if this was just a story of three women who survived the Titanic.  I liked the book, it was well written but I felt something was missing and can't quite say what it was.

Thanks to the publisher via Netgalley for an advanced copy.  

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Review: Becoming Bonnie (Bonnie #1) by Jenni L. Walsh

From debut historical novelist Jenni L. Walsh, Becoming Bonnie is the untold story of how wholesome Bonnelyn Parker became half of the infamous Bonnie and Clyde duo!

The summer of 1927 might be the height of the Roaring Twenties, but Bonnelyn Parker is more likely to belt out a church hymn than sling drinks at an illicit juice joint. She’s a sharp girl with plans to overcome her family's poverty, provide for herself, and maybe someday marry her boyfriend, Roy Thornton. But when Roy springs a proposal on her and financial woes jeopardize her ambitions, Bonnelyn finds salvation in an unlikely place: Dallas's newest speakeasy, Doc’s.

Living the life of a moll at night, Bonnie remains a wholesome girl by day, engaged to Roy, attending school and working toward a steady future. When Roy discovers her secret life, and embraces it—perhaps too much, especially when it comes to booze and gambling—Bonnie tries to make the pieces fit. Maybe she can have it all: the American Dream, the husband, and the intoxicating allure of jazz music. What she doesn't know is that her life—like her country—is headed for a crash.

She’s about to meet Clyde Barrow.

Few details are known about Bonnie's life prior to meeting her infamous partner. In Becoming Bonnie, Jenni L. Walsh shows a young woman promised the American dream and given the Great Depression, and offers a compelling account of why she fell so hard for a convicted felon—and turned to crime herself.

Hardcover, 320 pages
Published May 9th 2017
by Forge Books

Becoming Bonnie is exactly what the title implies, how Bonnelyn Parker becomes the Bonnie of Bonnie and Clyde fame. This book has been on my kindle since it’s release and knowing that the sequel Side by Side is coming out next month I knew it was time to dig in (I snagged an arc of Side by Side and have already started reading it).

I didn’t really have an image of what Bonnie was like, my only reference has been the movie with Faye Dunaway and an episode of Timeless (wasn't impressed). Becoming Bonnie tells the story of a young girl with aspirations, she has hopes and dreams for the future. There is very little known of her early life and the author put the pieces together to create this awesome story. Her teen years were hard enough before the depression hit. I’m not going to go into details about what takes place or how Bonnelyn becomes just Bonnie. Suffice to say this was a very enjoyable book.

It wasn't just Bonnie's story, but also a look at the time period.  Prohibition, the Depression and just the everyday struggle to make ends meet (often it wasn't possible), life wasn't easy and that was portrayed vividly. This is the author's debut and I am impressed, I hope she takes on more female villains in history.

My thanks to the publisher for a ebook copy for a honest review.