Thursday, August 30, 2018

Review: The Glass Ocean by Beatriz Williams, Lauren Willig, Karen White

From the New York Times bestselling authors of The Forgotten Room comes a captivating historical mystery, infused with romance, that links the lives of three women across a century—two deep in the past, one in the present—to the doomed passenger liner, RMS Lusitania.

May 2013 Her finances are in dire straits and bestselling author Sarah Blake is struggling to find a big idea for her next book. Desperate, she breaks the one promise she made to her Alzheimer’s-stricken mother and opens an old chest that belonged to her great-grandfather, who died when the RMS Lusitania was sunk by a German U-Boat in 1915. What she discovers there could change history. Sarah embarks on an ambitious journey to England to enlist the help of John Langford, a recently disgraced Member of Parliament whose family archives might contain the only key to the long-ago catastrophe. . . .

April 1915 Southern belle Caroline Telfair Hochstetter’s marriage is in crisis. Her formerly attentive industrialist husband, Gilbert, has become remote, pre-occupied with business . . . and something else that she can’t quite put a finger on. She’s hoping a trip to London in Lusitania’s lavish first-class accommodations will help them reconnect—but she can’t ignore the spark she feels for her old friend, Robert Langford, who turns out to be on the same voyage. Feeling restless and longing for a different existence, Caroline is determined to stop being a bystander, and take charge of her own life. . . .

Tessa Fairweather is traveling second-class on the Lusitania, returning home to Devon. Or at least, that’s her story. Tessa has never left the United States and her English accent is a hasty fake. She’s really Tennessee Schaff, the daughter of a roving con man, and she can steal and forge just about anything. But she’s had enough. Her partner has promised that if they can pull off this one last heist aboard the Lusitania, they’ll finally leave the game behind. Tess desperately wants to believe that, but Tess has the uneasy feeling there’s something about this job that isn’t as it seems. . . .

As the Lusitania steams toward its fate, three women work against time to unravel a plot that will change the course of their own lives . . . and history itself.

Kindle, 416 pages
Expected publication: September 4th, 2018
by William Morrow
*** 1/2

The Glass Ocean is the 2nd collaboration between talented authors Karen White, Beatriz Williams and Lauren Willig. Their first book together, The Forgotten Room was a favorite of mine back in 2016. Needless to say, I was excited when William Morrow provided me with an advanced copy of this their latest.

I didn’t know much about the Lusitania other than it was hit by a German torpedo during World War One and ushered the US into war. With 3 different narrators it wasn’t hard to keep the two time periods straight, two from the past and one present day.

The beginning 1/3 of this book pulled me in with its character building and intriguing plot. The dual time periods are books I usually enjoy, though at times it can be one time period that interests me more. Such was the case here (to some extent). To be honest, I struggled with the past plot, maybe because it dragged on a little longer than I thought necessary or maybe just a slight confusion at times. What saved it for me were the comedic bantering that was needed (pretty sure that was William’s part).

I struggled between giving this book 3 or 4 stars. Frustration grew when a change of direction occurred towards the end of the present day story (yea I felt it out of place and it really bugged me). But as I continued reading I ‘got it’ and thought it a great addition- sometimes you just need to sit back and trust the writer.

So I'm giving this book 3 1/2 stars rounding up to 4.

My thanks to William Morrow for an advanced copy (via Edelweiss).

click on cover for my review


Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Audio Review: Tiffany Blues by M.J. Rose

New York, 1924.

Twenty‑four‑year‑old Jenny Bell is one of a dozen burgeoning artists invited to Louis Comfort Tiffany’s prestigious artists’ colony. Gifted and determined, Jenny vows to avoid distractions and romantic entanglements and take full advantage of the many wonders to be found at Laurelton Hall.

But Jenny’s past has followed her to Long Island. Images of her beloved mother, her hard-hearted stepfather, waterfalls, and murder, and the dank hallways of Canada’s notorious Andrew Mercer Reformatory for Women overwhelm Jenny’s thoughts, even as she is inextricably drawn to Oliver, Tiffany’s charismatic grandson.

As the summer shimmers on, and the competition between the artists grows fierce as they vie for a spot at Tiffany’s New York gallery, a series of suspicious and disturbing occurrences suggest someone knows enough about Jenny’s childhood trauma to expose her.

Supported by her closest friend Minx Deering, a seemingly carefree socialite yet dedicated sculptor, and Oliver, Jenny pushes her demons aside. Between stolen kisses and stolen jewels, the champagne flows and the jazz plays on until one moonless night when Jenny’s past and present are thrown together in a desperate moment, that will threaten her promising future, her love, her friendships, and her very life.

Audiobook, 10 hours 25 minutes
Published August 7th, 2018
by Atria Books
****

Opening line: I lost my heart long before this fire darkened its edges.

M.J. Rose has been a favorite of mine since reading Seduction about 5 years ago. She knows how to write unique plots with snapshots of real historical places, with characters that are hurting and struggling to hide secrets of the pasts. It’s always a treat opening one of her books. Due to time restraints, I opted for the audio version of Tiffany Blues.

The book opened in 1957 when a fire destroyed the famous Tiffany mansion in Long Island (it's a fact, google it, I did). There was enough in that opening that had me intrigued and curious about this place. The biggest surprise was the location of Hamilton, Ontario playing a pivotal role in Jenny’s past. That’s my neck of the woods (well close enough). One can’t help feeling for Jenny and all she went through, but trying to live a life without the past catching up is hard.

Tiffany Blues is a mysterious story with romance and the historical elements I love. The story goes back and forth to Jenny’s past and 1924, both of which were interesting enough, but I kinda felt it lacked the depth of character development from Rose’s previous books. That being said Jenny was well developed but I would have loved to have known some of the others in this book a little better, like Minx especially.

Coming in at just over 10 hours it was a quick listen with the reader Tavia Gilbert doing a great job. Author notes are always a favorite of mine especially for historical fiction, they were included here and I liked the fact it was at the beginning before the story began.

My thanks to the publisher for an advanced copy, however, I went the audio route via Sribd.

Monday, August 27, 2018

Spotlight: The Promise of Tomorrow by AnneMarie Brear

The Promise of Tomorrow by AnneMarie Brear

Publication Date: September 1, 2018
eBook; 390 Pages
ASIN: B07GHCXQ8Y
Genre: Historical Fiction

Perfect for the fans of Dilly Court and Rosie Goodwin.

Charlotte Brookes flees her lecherous guardian, McBride, taking her younger sister with her. After a year on the road, they stumble into a Yorkshire village where the Wheelers, owners of the village shop, take them in. This new life is strange for Charlotte, but preferable to living with McBride or surviving on the roads.

Harry Belmont is an important man in the village, but he’s missing something in his life. His budding friendship with Charlotte gives him hope she will feel more for him one day, and he will marry the woman he yearns for. When McBride discovers where Charlotte lives, his threats begin. Harry fights to keep Charlotte safe, but World War I erupts and Harry enlists. Left to face a world of new responsibilities, and Harry’s difficult sister, Charlotte must run the gauntlet of family disputes, McBride's constant harassment, and the possibility of the man she loves being killed.

Can Charlotte find the happiness that always seems under threat, and will Harry return home to her?

Available on Amazon


AnneMarie has been a life-long reader and started writing in 1997 when her children were small. She has a love of history, of grand old English houses and a fascination with what might have happened beyond their walls. Her interests include reading, genealogy, watching movies, spending time with family and eating chocolate – not always in that order! AnneMarie grew up in Australia but now lives in the UK.

For more information please visit AnneMarie Brear's website.

You can also connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and Goodreads.


Sunday, August 26, 2018

Review: The 49th Mystic (Beyond the Circle #1) by Ted Dekker

Some say the great mystery of how one can live in two worlds at once died with Thomas Hunter many years ago. Still, others that the gateway to that greater reality was and is only the stuff of dreams.

They are wrong. In the small town of Eden, Utah, a blind girl named Rachelle Matthews is about to find out just how wrong.

When a procedure meant to restore Rachelle's sight goes awry, she begins to dream of another world so real that she wonders if Earth might only be a dream experienced when she falls asleep in that reality. Who is a simple blind girl to have such strange and fantastic dreams?

She's the prophesied one who must find and recover five ancient seals--in both worlds--before powerful enemies destroy her. If Rachelle succeeds in her quest, peace will reign. If she fails, both worlds will forever be locked in darkness.

So begins a two-volume saga of high stakes and a mind-bending quest to find an ancient path that will save humanity. The clock is ticking; the end rushes forward.

Ready? Set?

Dream.

Paperback, 409 pages 
Published May 15th, 2018 
by Revell
****

I am a relatively new reader to Ted Dekker. I have read his Boneman's Daughter and that’s about it. I know he is a Christian author with supernatural or mystic themes in his book. Having never read the Circle series, which is a prequel to this book, and while it didn't hamper my enjoyment of The 49th Mystic some prior knowledge might have been helpful at times.

It didn’t take long for me to get drawn in, beginning with a young blind girl I immediately connected and wanted to find out how she fared.

There is a lot going, it’s fantasy with Other Earth and supernatural elements. Mysterious and suspenseful as the story unfolds. The 48th Mystic is Rachelle’s journey, with theology themes familiarity with The Bible is helpful to appreciate her quest.

The 49th Mystic is a well-written book, a nice fast pace that kept me on my toes.  I can see myself reading over again. There were many quotes and highlights pertaining to my life and journey.

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

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Review: Falcon Wild by Terry Lynn Johnson


 "I back up as Cooper did and then sprint toward the edge. Just as I'm about to launch myself across the crevice, a hot wave of nausea grips me. I stumble at the last second. My leap is not enough to propel me to the other side. I reach for the edge.

 And miss." 

 Thirteen-year-old Karma is lost in the backcountry of Montana with her falcon, Stark, and a runaway boy named Cooper. She's desperate to find help for her dad and brother after they find themselves in a terrible accident on a back road.

 Karma wouldn't be in this mess if her parents hadn't insisted on returning Stark to the bird's original owner. Life at her father's bird sanctuary--and Karma's dreams of becoming an apprentice falconer--will never be the same now that she has to give Stark back. Lost in the wild, her bond with the tamed falcon only grows stronger. All the while, Cooper gets his own lessons on how to trust in newfound friendship.

 Both Karma's and Cooper's mettle is tested by mountain terrain, wild animals, severe weather, injury, and their own waning hope as this edge-of-your-seat adventure story vividly portrays the special bonds that can form between humans and animals.

 Hardcover, 176 pages 
Published September 19th 2017 
by Charlesbridge
*****


I used to use the excuse that I read middle grade and children's book to see what would appeal to my boys and as time went by for the grandkids.  But the plain truth is that I love these books and I don't read nearly enough of them.  Now mind you I do have boundaries, not being a fan of fantasy or sci-fi, I am always on the lookout for adventure type story's, ones that feature the great outdoors and coming of age themes.  So when I discovered Canadian author Terry Lynn Johnson I knew I'd hit gold.

Beginning with Ice Dogs and Dogsled Dreams I have been avidly waiting for more great stories.  Imagine my shock in discovering Falcon Wild months after it's release. (I read this last fall and realized I never posted my review).  One of the things that stands out for me is the author's love of nature, it shines through in her writing.  With Falcon Wild it wasn't just about a couple of kids lost in the wilderness, I was given a glimpse of the beauty and harshness of the environment.  The feelings of hope and hopelessness,  respect and appreciation of animals and nature shine through.  Karma and Copper are challenged on many levels and I enjoyed reading about it.  The lessons on falconry were fun and educational.

Terry Lynn Johnson has a wonderful blog that highlight not just her books but where she draws inspiration.  Check it out at TerryLynnJohnson.com

My print copy from personal library.

Monday, August 20, 2018

Audio Review: The Romanov Empress by C.W. Gortner

For readers of Philippa Gregory and Alison Weir comes a dramatic novel of the beloved Empress Maria, the Danish girl who became the mother of the last Russian tsar.

 Even from behind the throne, a woman can rule.

 Narrated by the mother of Russia’s last tsar, this vivid, historically authentic novel brings to life the courageous story of Maria Feodorovna, one of Imperial Russia’s most compelling women who witnessed the splendor and tragic downfall of the Romanovs as she fought to save her dynasty in the final years of its long reign.

 Barely nineteen, Minnie knows that her station in life as a Danish princess is to leave her family and enter into a royal marriage—as her older sister Alix has done, moving to England to wed Queen Victoria’s eldest son. The winds of fortune bring Minnie to Russia, where she marries the Romanov heir and becomes empress once he ascends the throne. When resistance to his reign strikes at the heart of her family and the tsar sets out to crush all who oppose him, Minnie—now called Maria—must tread a perilous path of compromise in a country she has come to love.

 Her husband’s death leaves their son Nicholas as the inexperienced ruler of a deeply divided and crumbling empire. Determined to guide him to reforms that will bring Russia into the modern age, Maria faces implacable opposition from Nicholas’s strong-willed wife, Alexandra, whose fervor has lead her into a disturbing relationship with a mystic named Rasputin. As the unstoppable wave of revolution rises anew to engulf Russia, Maria will face her most dangerous challenge and her greatest heartache.

 From the opulent palaces of St. Petersburg and the intrigue-laced salons of the aristocracy to the World War I battlefields and the bloodied countryside occupied by the Bolsheviks, C. W. Gortner sweeps us into the anarchic fall of an empire and the complex, bold heart of the woman who tried to save it.

Paperback
Published July 10th 2018
by Ballantine Book
Audible - 17 hrs, 49 mins
*****

C.W. Gortner has been a favorite of mine since reading The Last Queen. He writes vividly, creating strong characters with realistic personalities breathing life into history with each new book release.

The Romanov Empress is one of my most anticipated books of 2018. I had signed up to be part of the HFVBT and was about 30% of the way through reading when life got chaotic and I ended up dropping out, switched over to the audiobook. It’s tricky doing that sometimes, will it work? Will I enjoy it reading more? In this instance the audio was wonderful - Katharine McEwan was the reader and one of my favorites. Coming in at almost 18 hours, my time driving, sitting and waiting just flew by.

I love reading about women that aren’t well know but still played a big part in the past. The Romanov’s are relatively new to me (this is my 3rd book) and coming from this perspective really gave me a sense of the background to what took place in 1918. Told through the eyes of Nicholas II’s mother was perfect. First introduced as a young women in Denmark her transition to a Russian Empress marked her as a strong woman, smart and compassionate and fiercely devoted to her family.

Reading a CW Gortner book is always a treat. With attention to detail, lots of history (without sounding like a history book) he has written a captivating story of a turbulent time in Russia’s past. I was actually hoping for a different outcome. He made me care for the family and citizens of that country. It’s evident the author has not only done extensive research but also has a passion for the era - it shines through in his writing.

I highly recommend this book to those that love reading about strong women in history that we rarely hear about.

 My thanks to Amy at HFVBT’s and Random House for an advanced copy (via Netgalley).

Sunday, August 19, 2018

Review: Women of the Dunes by Sarah Maine

From the author of the acclaimed novels The House Between Tides and Beyond the Wild River, a rich, atmospheric tale set on the sea-lashed coast of west Scotland, in which the lives of a ninth-century Norsewoman, a nineteenth-century woman, and a twenty-first-century archeologist weave together after a body is discovered in the dunes.

Libby Snow has always felt the pull of Ullanessm a lush Scottish island enshrouded in myth and deeply important to her family. Her great-great-grandmother Ellen was obsessed with the strange legend of Ulla, a Viking maiden who washed up on shore with the nearly lifeless body of her husband—and who inspired countless epic poems and the island’s name.

Central to the mystery is an ornate chalice and Libby, an archaeologist, finally has permission to excavate the site where Ulla is believed to have lived. But what Libby finds in the ancient dunes is a body from the Victorian era, clearly murdered…and potentially connected to Ellen.

What unfolds is an epic story that spans centuries, with Libby mining Ellen and Ulla’s stories for clues about the body, and in doing so, discovering the darker threads that bind all three women together across history.

Infused with Sarah Maine’s signature “meticulous research and descriptive passages of lush, beautiful landscapes” (Publishers Weekly), Women of the Dunes is a beautifully told and compelling mystery for fans of Kate Morton and Beatriz Williams.

Paperback, 384 pages
Published July 24th 2018
by Atria Books
****

I loved the author’s debut The House Between Tides, it was a Gothic mysterious story that left its mark as a unique and well written debut. That fact adds pressure to any subsequent release, with Women of the Dune I was not disappointed.

Women of the Dunes is an entertaining, tale set on the coast of Scotland with 3 distinct time periods involved. Having read my fair share of dual time period stories that sometimes overlap with a third one, this book’s plot stayed within those 3 periods and it worked. Never did I feel overwhelmed with the cast of characters.

Whether it was the 9th century Ulla, Ellen from the 1800’s or current day Libby each had great settings that put me there. The authors research was clearly spot on, the pace wasn’t rushed but steady, keeping my attention and wondering where the author was heading.

Women of the Dunes is a mysterious story with many layers, there is murder, betrayal, history and of course some romance. All the things that make for a captivating and entertaining read. 

My thanks to Atria Books for an advanced copy, via Netgalley.

Friday, August 17, 2018

Spotlight: A.B. Michaels' Golden City Series

The Art of Love (Golden City, Book 1) by A.B. Michaels

Publication Date: May 4, 2014
Genre: Historical Fiction/Romance
A Notable Indie Book of 2014 Silver Ippy Award New Apple Medalist Editor’s Choice – Idaho Book Awards

At the end of the Gilded Age, the “Golden City” of San Francisco offers everything a man could want—except the answers August Wolff desperately needs to find.

After digging a fortune in gold from the frozen fields of the Klondike, Gus heads south, hoping to start over and put the baffling disappearance of his wife and daughter behind him. The turn of the century brings him even more success, but the distractions of a city some call the new Sodom and Gomorrah can’t fill the gaping hole in his life.

Amelia Starling is a wildly talented artist caught in the straightjacket of Old New York society. Making a heart-breaking decision, she moves to San Francisco to further her career, all the while living with the pain of a sacrifice no woman should ever have to make.

 Brought together by the city’s flourishing art scene, Gus and Lia forge a rare connection. But the past, shrouded in mystery, prevents the two of them from moving forward as one. Unwilling to face society’s scorn, Lia leaves the city and vows to begin again in Europe.

Gus can’t bear to let her go, but unless he can set his ghosts to rest, he and Lia have no chance at all.

Amazon | Barnes and Noble | Kobo

The Depth of Beauty (Golden City, Book 2) by A.B. Michaels

Publication Date: January 6, 2016
Genre: Historical Fiction/Romance
A Notable Indie Book of 2016 2017 RITA Finalist – “Mainstream Fiction with a Central Romance” Bookstores without Borders Lyra Award for Historical Fiction Chanticleer Book Reviews Goethe Award – First in Category: North American Turn of the Century

In 1903 San Francisco’s Chinatown, slavery, polygamy, and rampant prostitution are thriving— just blocks away from the city’s elite, progressive society.

Wealthy and well-connected, Will Firestone enters the mysterious enclave with an eye toward expanding his shipping business. What he finds there will astonish him. With the help of an exotic young widow and a gifted teenage orphan, he embarks on a journey of self-discovery, where lust, love and tragedy will change his life forever.

A stand-alone novel, The Depth of Beauty is the latest addition to the dual genre series, “Sinner’s Grove,” which chronicles the family and friends of a world-famous artists’ retreat on the northern California coast. The stories follow both historical and contemporary tracks and can be read separately or together for greater depth. Other titles in the series include the award-winning The Art of Love, Sinner’s Grove and The Lair.

Amazon | Barnes and Noble | Kobo

The Promise (Golden City, Book 3) by A.B. Michaels

Publication Date: June 24, 2016
Genre: Historical Fiction/Romance
April 18, 1906. A massive earthquake has decimated much of the Golden City, leaving thousands without food, water or shelter. Patrolling the streets to help those in need, Army corporal Ben Tilson meets a young woman named Charlotte who touches his heart, making him think of a future with her in it. In the heat of the moment he makes a promise to her little sister that even he realizes will be almost impossible to keep.

Because on the heels of the earthquake, a much worse disaster looms: a fire that threatens to consume everything and everyone in its path. It will take everything Ben’s got to make it back to Charlotte and her family—and even that may not be enough.

The Promise, a stand-alone novella, is the third offering in A.B. Michaels’ award-winning historical saga, “The Golden City,” which takes place in and around San Francisco at the turn of the twentieth century. Other books in the series include The Art of Love and The Depth of Beauty.

Amazon | Barnes and Noble | Kobo

The Price of Compassion (Golden City, Book 4) by A.B. Michaels

Publication Date: August 27, 2018
Genre: Historical Fiction/Mystery
April 18, 1906. San Francisco has just been shattered by a massive earthquake and is in the throes of an even more deadly fire.

During the chaos, gifted surgeon Tom Justice makes a life-changing decision that wreaks havoc on his body, mind, and spirit.

Leaving the woman he loves, he embarks on a quest to regain his sanity and self-worth. Yet just when he finds some answers, he’s arrested for murder—a crime he may very well be guilty of. The facts of the case are troubling; they’ll have you asking the question: “Is he guilty?” Or even worse…”What would I have done?”

About the Author

A native of northern California, A.B. Michaels earned masters' degrees in history and broadcasting, and worked for many years in public relations and marketing. Now that she's an empty nester, she has time to write the kinds of stories she loves to read. Her historical series, "The Golden City," follows characters who make their way in turn of the twentieth century San Francisco. "I love creating flawed characters I can relate to, who have to make difficult choices, and who long for happiness like the rest of us. So much was happening in the early 1900's that help shape my novels. Once I tear myself away from the underlying research, they are fascinating stories to write."

Currently Ms. Michaels lives in Boise, Idaho with her husband and two furry creatures who are unclear on the concept that they are just dogs. In addition to writing, she loves to read and travel. A dabbler in fabric art, she also plays bocce in a summer league. Her latest stand-alone novel, "The Price of Compassion," is Book Four of the "Golden City" series. It's scheduled for release this summer and will be followed by Book Five, "Josephine's Daughter."

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest | Goodreads


Book Blast Schedule

Monday, August 13 Passages to the Past Tuesday, August 14 Naomi Finley's Blog Wednesday, August 15 What Is That Book About Thursday, August 16 To Read, Or Not to Read Friday, August 17 CelticLady's Reviews Just One More Chapter Saturday, August 18 Broken Teepee Sunday, August 19 Maiden of the Pages Monday, August 20 Pursuing Stacie Clarissa Reads It All Tuesday, August 21 A Book Geek Wednesday, August 22 Creating Herstory The Book Junkie Reads Thursday, August 23 Katie's Book Cave Friday, August 24 The Book Review Donna's Book Blog


The Golden City Series is on Sale!

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Audio Review: The Pirate Bride (Daughters of the Mayflower #2) by Kathleen Y'Barbo

A Former Privateer and a Desperate Heiress Join Forces to Find a Treasure Jump on board with a brand new series for fans of all things related to history, romance, adventure, faith, and family trees.

One hundred years after her mother's family came to the New World on the Mayflower, Maribel Cordova has landed in New Orleans to seek the man who holds the key to finding her father’s lost treasure. Attorney Jean-Luc Valmot has buried his past life so deep that no living person will ever find it—or so he hopes as he accepts a position on the governor’s staff. But the daughter of an infamous pirate threatens all he holds dear. Can Maribel and Jean-Luc compromise so they both can hold onto what they most desire?

Join the adventure as the Daughters of the Mayflower series continues with The Pirate Bride by Kathleen Y’Barbo.
More to come in the Daughters of the Mayflower series: The Mayflower Bride by Kimberley Woodhouse
– set 1620 Atlantic Ocean (coming February 2018) The Pirate Bride by Kathleen Y’Barbo
– set 1725 New Orleans (coming April 2018) The Captured Bride by Michelle Griep
– set 1760 during the French and Indian War (coming June 2018) The Patriot Bride by Kimberley Woodhouse
– set 1774 Philadelphia (coming August 2018)​ The Cumberland Bride by Shannon McNear
– set 1794 on the Wilderness Road (coming October 2018) The Liberty Bride by MaryLu Tyndall
– set 1814 Baltimore (coming December 2018)

 Paperback, 251 pages
Published April 1st 2018
by Barbour Books
***

Book 2 in the Daughters of the Mayflower series, The Pirate Bride was a relatively quick read - coming in at 251 pages . Maribel Córdoba is a precocious 10 year old in love with reading and pirates.

Her adventure on the high sea sets the course and concludes when she is a young woman in New Orleans. I won’t go into details about the in between time suffice to say her life takes a direction in the least expected way.

The Pirate Bride is a story of mystery, adventure, new beginnings and faith. This works well as a stand-alone with Mirabel being a descendant of the heroine in Book 1, The Mayflower Bride. The series continues with The Captive Bride (already released).

Kathleen Y’Barbo is a new author for me, I enjoyed her writing style, she captured the essence of the high sea and lifestyle of the era. Definitely a series I will continue to read.

My thanks to the publisher via Netgalley for an copy of this book, though due to personal issues I went the audio route (via Hoopla)

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Spotlight/Giveaway: Tiffany Blues by M.J. Rose

Tiffany Blues by M.J. Rose

Publication Date: August 7, 2018
Atria Books
Hardcover & eBook; 336 Pages
ISBN: 978-1501173592
Genre: Historical Fiction

New York, 1924.

Twenty‑four‑year‑old Jenny Bell is one of a dozen burgeoning artists invited to Louis Comfort Tiffany’s prestigious artists’ colony. Gifted and determined, Jenny vows to avoid distractions and romantic entanglements and take full advantage of the many wonders to be found at Laurelton Hall. But Jenny’s past has followed her to Long Island. Images of her beloved mother, her hard-hearted stepfather, waterfalls, and murder, and the dank hallways of Canada’s notorious Andrew Mercer Reformatory for Women overwhelm Jenny’s thoughts, even as she is inextricably drawn to Oliver, Tiffany’s charismatic grandson.

As the summer shimmers on, and the competition between the artists grows fierce as they vie for a spot at Tiffany’s New York gallery, a series of suspicious and disturbing occurrences suggest someone knows enough about Jenny’s childhood trauma to expose her.

Supported by her closest friend Minx Deering, a seemingly carefree socialite yet dedicated sculptor, and Oliver, Jenny pushes her demons aside. Between stolen kisses and stolen jewels, the champagne flows and the jazz plays on until one moonless night when Jenny’s past and present are thrown together in a desperate moment, that will threaten her promising future, her love, her friendships, and her very life.

Amazon | Barnes and Noble | Books-a-Million | IndieBound


Praise for Tiffany Blues

“A lush, romantic historical mystery with a unique setting. Tiffany Blues explores an interesting lost bit of American history and gives us a heroine to root for." Kristin Hannah, New York Times bestselling author of The Nightingale

 “A fascinating novel about a young, struggling artist mentored by the celebrated jeweler and stained-glass creator Louis Comfort Tiffany. Tiffany Blues brings together an enchanting glimpse of Jazz Age New York and an inspired fictional story about Jenny Bell and the terrible secret she's hiding.” Christina Baker Kline, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Orphan Train and A Piece of the World

"The New York Times bestselling author of The Library of Light and Shadow crafts a dazzling Jazz Age jewel—a novel of ambition, betrayal, and passion about a young painter whose traumatic past threatens to derail her career at a prestigious summer artists’ colony run by Louis Comfort Tiffany of Tiffany & Co. fame. “[M.J. Rose] transports the reader into the past better than a time machine could accomplish” —The Associated Press

"M.J. Rose must have plunged her pen into a vale of tears, radiance, and crime to write this novel. Tiffany Blues melds a tragic mother-daughter relationship, the shimmer of Tiffany’s creations, the jolting life of artists and their shocking jealousy, in a captivating story that illuminates how far we'll go for love. MJ Rose broke this reader’s heart and then, as though using the ancient art of Kintsugi, healed me by sealing the future with golden veins of hope." —Randy Susan Meyers, International Bestselling Author

"Intriguing... [Rose's] best creation yet." —Publishers Weekly "Intricate plotting, sensuous descriptions... captivating. A lush, mesmerizing story." —Kirkus "Rose keeps readers spellbound... with a touch of Gatsby-esque flavor and opulence and a research-rich mix of facts and fiction." —Library Journal - Starred review

Rose's talent for delivering believable characters and plot shines in her latest novel...Readers are in for a treat and the jaw-dropping climax well have them enthralled." —RT Book Reviews "A stunning look at the Jazz Age, told in M.J. Rose's inimitable style." —PopSugar 25 Best Summer Books

About the Author

New York Times Bestseller, M.J. Rose grew up in New York City mostly in the labyrinthine galleries of the Metropolitan Museum, the dark tunnels and lush gardens of Central Park and reading her mother's favorite books before she was allowed. She believes mystery and magic are all around us but we are too often too busy to notice... books that exaggerate mystery and magic draw attention to it and remind us to look for it and revel in it.

 Rose's work has appeared in many magazines including Oprah Magazine and she has been featured in the New York Times, Newsweek, WSJ, Time, USA Today and on the Today Show, and NPR radio. Rose graduated from Syracuse University, spent the '80s in advertising, has a commercial in the Museum of Modern Art in NYC and since 2005 has run the first marketing company for authors - Authorbuzz.com

 Her most recent novel THE LIBRARY OF LIGHT AND SHADOW (Atria/S&S) was chosen as an Indie Next Pick. The television series PAST LIFE, was based on Rose's novels in the Reincarnationist series. She is one of the founding board members of International Thriller Writers. Rose lives in CT with her husband the musician and composer, Doug Scofield.

 For more information, please visit her website and her blog, Museum of Mysteries.

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


Giveaway

During the Blog Tour we will be giving away a Louis Comfort Tiffany glass paperweight from the Metropolitan Museum of Artder!

To enter, please enter via the Gleam form below.

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

  Tiffany Blues

Spotlight/Giveaway: Island on Fire by Sophie Schiller

Island on Fire by Sophie Schiller

Publication Date: March 15, 2018
Paperback & eBook; 270 Pages
ISBN-13: 978-1986210782
Genre: Fiction/Historical/Thriller

In the lush, tropical world of Martinique where slavery is a distant memory and voodoo holds sway, Emilie Dujon discovers that her fiancé, a rich sugar planter, has been unfaithful.

Desperate to leave him, she elicits the aid of a voodoo witch doctor and is lured into a shadowy world of black magic and extortion. When the volcano known as Mount Pelée begins to rumble and spew ash, she joins a scientific committee sent to investigate the crater.

During the journey she meets Lt. Denis Rémy, an army officer with a mysterious past. At the summit, the explorers discover that a second crater has formed and the volcano appears to be on the verge of eruption. But when they try to warn the governor, he orders them to bury the evidence for fear of upsetting the upcoming election. As the pressure builds, a deadly mudslide inundates Emilie’s plantation and she disappears. With ash and cinders raining down, chaos ensues. Left with no choice, Lt. Rémy deserts his post and sets off on a desperate quest to rescue Emilie.

 But with all roads blocked, can they escape the doomed Pompeii of the Caribbean before it’s too late?

Amazon | Barnes and Noble | IndieBound


Sophie Schiller was born in Paterson, NJ and grew up in the West Indies. She loves stories that carry the reader back in time to exotic and far-flung locations. Kirkus Reviews called her "an accomplished thriller and historical adventure writer”. Her latest novel is Island on Fire, a thriller about the worst volcanic disaster of the 20th century. She was educated at American University, Washington, DC and lives in Brooklyn, NY. 

For more information, please visit Sophie Schiller's website

You can also connect with her on FacebookTwitter, and Goodreads.




During the Blog Tour we will be giving away a copy of Island on Fire to one lucky reader! To enter, please enter via the Gleam form below.

Giveaway Rules
– Giveaway ends at 11:59pm EST on August 14th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
– Giveaway is open to US residents only.
– Only one entry per household.
– All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspect of fraud is decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion.
– Winner has 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.

  Island on Fire


Thursday, August 2, 2018

Audio Review: The Masterpiece by Francine Rivers

New York Times bestselling author Francine Rivers returns to her romance roots with this unexpected and redemptive love story, a probing tale that reminds us that mercy can shape even the most broken among us into an imperfect yet stunning masterpiece.

A successful LA artist, Roman Velasco appears to have everything he could possibly want―money, women, fame. Only Grace Moore, his reluctant, newly hired personal assistant, knows how little he truly has. The demons of Roman’s past seem to echo through the halls of his empty mansion and out across his breathtaking Topanga Canyon view. But Grace doesn’t know how her boss secretly wrestles with those demons: by tagging buildings as the Bird, a notorious but unidentified graffiti artist―an alter ego that could destroy his career and land him in prison.

Like Roman, Grace is wrestling with ghosts and secrets of her own. After a disastrous marriage threw her life completely off course, she vowed never to let love steal her dreams again. But as she gets to know the enigmatic man behind the reputation, it’s as if the jagged pieces of both of their pasts slowly begin to fit together . . . until something so unexpected happens that it changes the course of their relationship―and both their lives―forever.

Audiobook, 15 hours, 54 minutes
Published February 6th 2018
by Tyndale House Publisher
 *****

While I am not a big fan of romance novels there are some authors on my ‘auto read’ list no matter the genre. Francine Rivers is one such author, her Mark of the Lion Series is an all time favourite. Some of her other books that I’ve read many years ago (The Scarlet Thread, The Atonement Child and Redeeming Love) are ones that have never left me.

There are some books that work great in audio format and others not so much. The Masterpiece works great in audio, with 2 different readers (one male, one female - because who wants to listen to a female reading a male role?). It’s not a short book coming in at 15 plus hours so there was plenty of time for the author to develop the characters, get to know them and learn what makes them tick.

I loved the story, realistic and raw, heartbreaking and a true picture of those hurting. Both Roman and Grace have ghosts that haunt and secrets they keep to themselves.

The Masterpiece is a story of unfailing love, redemption, and healing. Mesmerizing in its telling that I’m not even sure it would have had the same impact if I read the book verse listening to the audio.

Francine Rivers is an author I have great respect for.  She crosses genres effortlessly, from historical fiction, to contemporary, dual time periods and romance without skipping a beat. Yes her books are faith based, and she doesn't hold back but tells it like it is.

Audiobook obtained via Scribd (and yea one day this book with grace my bookshelves with my other Francine River books).

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Review: Speechless by Jennifer Mook-Sang

 Jelly is as surprised as anyone when he decides that he’s going to win the annual sixth grade speech contest.

Just like that, Joe Alton Miles, better known as Jelly (because his initials are J.A.M. and his best friend’s are P.B.), is faced with overcoming not only his terror of being in the spotlight, but also the wrath of smart, popular Victoria, who believes that the prize (like all prizes) is rightfully hers. At first, Jelly only cares about winning the awesome prize (a new tablet), but as Victoria escalates her campaign against him, Jelly begins to realize that it’s not only the prize that’s at stake, but also his reputation, his self-respect and the friendship he values most. Jelly must dig deep inside himself to find out if he’s strong enough to stand up to Victoria and show everyone what he’s really capable of.

Hilariously funny and just as poignant, Speechless is about finding out who your friends are, giving back, standing up to bullying and finding your own unique voice

Paperback, 159 pages
Published September 1st 2015
 by Scholastic
*****

I was introduced to this book and author during a writing class I was taking on Kid Lit. Though I have always been a lover of MG & YA Books, this was one I was unfamiliar with. It was great to meet the author and listen to her talk about her writing process and how Speechless came to be.

 Speechless was such a fun read. It was a funny, a quirky story about a boy named Jelly. It’s a clever situation that gets the story rolling and the momentum is solid throughout this book. Armed with ambition and determination Jelly grows and learns a lot as he strives to win this contest. From food bank education, stepping out of ones comfort zone and good old fashioned guts Jelly works towards his goal even with the stumbling blocks he encounters.

 Speechless is a story of bullying, friendship and discovering one self, presented in a way to keep middle grade kids attention and even entertaining for this adult.

 Paperback book from my personal library