Thursday, December 13, 2018

Spotlight & Giveaway: A Murdered Peace by Candace Robb

A Murdered Peace by Candace Robb

Publication Date: December 11, 2018
Pegasus Books
Paperback & eBook; 304 Pages
Series: Kate Clifford, Book 3
Genre: Historical Mystery

It is deep winter in York, 1400, the ground frozen, the short days dimmed with the smoke from countless fires, the sun, when it shines, low in the sky. It is rumored that the Epiphany Uprising, meant to relieve the realm of the Henry the usurper and return King Richard to the throne has, instead, spelled his doom. As long as Richard lives, he is a threat to Henry. So, too, the nobles behind the plot. The ringleaders have been caught, some slaughtered as they fled west by folk loyal to Henry, and the king’s men now search the towns for survivors. A perilous time, made worse for Kate Clifford by the disappearance of Berend, her cook and confidante, shortly after Christmas. Her niece saw his departure in a dream—he said he was honor bound to leave. Honor bound—to a former lord? One of the nobles who led the uprising? Is he alive? She is hardly consoled when Berend reappears, wounded, secretive, denying any connection to the uprising, but refusing to explain himself. When he is accused of brutally murdering a spice seller in the city, Kate discovers a chest of jewels in his possession. Some of the jewels belong to her old friend Lady Margery, wanted by the king for her husband’s part in the uprising. For the sake of their long friendship, and the love she and her wards bear for him, Kate wants to believe his innocence. So, too, does Sir Elric. And he has the powerful backing of the Earl of Westmoreland. All she need do is confide in him. If only she trusted her heart.

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Praise for A Murdered Peace

“Those who meddle in the affairs of kings live to regret it. A...tale of love and murder set in a turbulent period when death and betrayal lurk around every corner.” -Kirkus Reviews “Superior. Robb effortlessly integrates the era’s intrigues into a whodunit framework and peoples the plot with a wide array of characters readers will come to care about.” -Publishers Weekly (starred) “A fine flowing narrative and a genuine sense of mystery and peril.” -Writers & Readers

 Candace Robb is the bestselling author of sixteen crime novels set in fourteenth century England, Wales, and Scotland, including the acclaimed Owen Archer series and the Margaret Kerr trilogy. Candace lives in Seattle, Washington.

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During the Blog Tour we will be giving away a signed set of Candace Robb's Kate Clifford series! To enter, please use the Gleam form below. Giveaway Rules – Giveaway ends at 11:59pm EST on December 21st. 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.

A Murdered Peace

Friday, December 7, 2018

Review: Dear Mrs. Bird by A.J. Pearce

An irresistible debut set in London during World War II about an adventurous young woman who becomes a secret advice columnist— a warm, funny, and enormously moving story for fans of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society and Lilac Girls.

 London, 1940. Emmeline Lake is Doing Her Bit for the war effort, volunteering as a telephone operator with the Auxiliary Fire Services. When Emmy sees an advertisement for a job at the London Evening Chronicle, her dreams of becoming a Lady War Correspondent suddenly seem achievable. But the job turns out to be working as a typist for the fierce and renowned advice columnist, Henrietta Bird. Emmy is disappointed, but gamely bucks up and buckles down.

 Mrs. Bird is very clear: letters containing any Unpleasantness must go straight in the bin. But when Emmy reads poignant notes from women who may have Gone Too Far with the wrong men, or who can’t bear to let their children be evacuated, she is unable to resist responding. As the German planes make their nightly raids, and London picks up the smoldering pieces each morning, Emmy secretly begins to write back to the readers who have poured out their troubles.

 Prepare to fall head over heels for Emmy and her best friend, Bunty, who are gutsy and spirited, even in the face of a terrible blow. The irrepressible Emmy keeps writing letters in this hilarious and enormously moving tale of friendship, the kindness of strangers, and ordinary people in extraordinary times.

 Paperback, 288 pages
Published July 3rd, 2018
 by Scribner

Here is another peer pressure book, I’ve heard so many good things about Dear Mrs. Bird especially when compared to a favorite of mine - The Guernsey Literary and Potato Pie Society. Yes, expectation level was elevated here. My biggest fear was that this was too much of a light-hearted book about the War and would it offer the respect due? But on the other hand, I was also looking for something lighter to offset some emotional and traumatic previous reads. It was a horrible time and to trivialize it would be so wrong. I am happy to report any fears were totally unfounded.

I enjoyed reading this one, Emmeline tells of her longing to help in the war effort but somehow lands a job as a typist for an advice columnist - you gotta read the book to see how that happens. Revolving around her friendships, family and the need to do something tangible Emme is taken on a journey, taking risks, going out of her comfort zone and forced to be still. She isn’t immune to the war and the heartache attached.

I liked the authors writing style, the dialogue was engaging and at times witty but will admit that after a while, the phrases in caps were a bit much.

Hats off to AJ Pearce on a solid debut, looking forward to reading more.

I purchased this book from the Simon and Schuster booth at Word on the Street Toronto 2018.

Thursday, December 6, 2018

Audio Review: The Extraordinary Life of Sam Hell by Robert Dugoni

Wall Street Journal and New York Times bestselling author Robert Dugoni’s coming-of-age story is, according to Booklist, “a novel that, if it doesn’t cross entirely over into John Irving territory, certainly nestles in close to the border.” 

 Sam Hill always saw the world through different eyes. Born with red pupils, he was called “Devil Boy” or Sam “Hell” by his classmates; “God’s will” is what his mother called his ocular albinism. Her words were of little comfort, but Sam persevered, buoyed by his mother’s devout faith, his father’s practical wisdom, and his two other misfit friends.

Sam believed it was God who sent Ernie Cantwell, the only African American kid in his class, to be the friend he so desperately needed. And that it was God’s idea for Mickie Kennedy to storm into Our Lady of Mercy like a tornado, uprooting every rule Sam had been taught about boys and girls.

Forty years later, Sam, a small-town eye doctor, is no longer certain anything was by design—especially not the tragedy that caused him to turn his back on his friends, his hometown, and the life he’d always known. Running from the pain, eyes closed, served little purpose. Now, as he looks back on his life, Sam embarks on a journey that will take him halfway around the world. This time, his eyes are wide open—bringing into clear view what changed him, defined him, and made him so afraid, until he can finally see what truly matters.

Listening Length: 11 hours and 41 minutes
Scribd Audio, Unabridged,
 Published April 24th, 2018
 by Brillance Audio

I love the fact that I can sample both the Kindle and audiobooks when trying to decide which route to take. The audio won out here for a couple of reasons.  Books told in 1st person are a favorite of mine in that format, it’s like the character is telling their story directly to me. Also, the author himself read this one which I think is cool.

Sam Hill was born a little different. It doesn’t affect his intelligence nor his physical abilities, but one look at his ‘devil eyes’ set people off. Children can be the cruelest (even adults too) and that plays a big part in young Sam’s life.

I could go on and say this and that happened, but I won’t. The Extraordinary Life of Sam Hill is an extraordinary book, from start to finish I was captivated. From the bullying, ‘God’s Will’ attitude of his mother along with best friends Ernie and Mickie made this a well rounded emotional and at times witty read, well listen.

Effortlessly the author weaved back and forth in time telling Sam's story. Coming in at almost 12 hours with chapters that aren’t too long it was very easy to follow my mantra, just one more chapter.

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Review: The Blue by Nancy Bilyeau

‘Nancy Bilyeau's passion for history infuses her books’ – Alison Weir

 'Historical fans will be well satisfied.' - Publishers Weekly

 In eighteenth-century London, porcelain is the most seductive of commodities; fortunes are made and lost upon it. Kings do battle with knights and knaves for possession of the finest pieces and the secrets of their manufacture.

For Genevieve Planché, an English-born descendant of Huguenot refugees, porcelain holds far less allure; she wants to be an artist, a painter of international repute, but nobody takes the idea of a female artist seriously in London. If only she could reach Venice.

When Genevieve meets the charming Sir Gabriel Courtenay, he offers her an opportunity she can’t refuse; if she learns the secrets of porcelain, he will send her to Venice. But in particular, she must learn the secrets of the colour blue…

The ensuing events take Genevieve deep into England’s emerging industrial heartlands, where not only does she learn about porcelain, but also about the art of industrial espionage.

With the heart and spirit of her Huguenot ancestors, Genevieve faces her challenges head on, but how much is she willing to suffer in pursuit and protection of the colour blue?

 ‘...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.

 'Bilyeau is an impressive talent who brings to life a heart-stopping story of adventure, art, and espionage during the Seven Years War.' - Stephanie Dray, bestselling author of My Dear Hamilton

 'With rich writing, surprising twists, and a riveting sense of 'you are there,' The Blue is spine-tingling entertainment.' – Gayle Lynds, New York Times bestselling author of The Assassins

Kindle Edition, 430 pages 
Published December 3rd, 2018
by Endeavour Quill

Nancy Bilyeau is one of those authors that is a 'must read' for me.  I absolutely loved her Joanna Stafford series and was thrilled when I heard she had a new release this fall (Dec 3rd).

Sometimes I feel that I repeat myself when talking about books that I really enjoyed.  But for me having the author make me feel like I am right in the middle of the action is a big plus.  It shows not just her (or his) passion for the era but also the amount of research that went into the story.  Which is exactly what happened here. I was planted right there beside Genevieve, I could feel her emotional state as her life was turned upside down.  Who she should trust and whom not to?  The desire for something different in life, but what and how was that to be achieved?  The other characters depicting the many layers of society, I learned more about what a Huguenot endured and women's roles in that time were reinforced for their lack of control of their own lives

As for the plot, I loved it.  Mysterious, suspenseful and kept me glued to the pages. The obsession over 'blue' was interesting and unique with a very satisfying ending.  Definitely a book I recommend to those that love a good historical mystery off the beaten track.  Nancy Bilyeau has delivered yet again.  My only hope is that we don't have to wait too long for another book.


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, Purist, and The Strand. 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. 

Monday, December 3, 2018

Review & Giveaway: The King James Men by Samantha Grosser

Connected by love, divided by faith. A novel of faith, friendship, and betrayal set against the religious turbulence of 17th Century London. 

England 1604 

Two men, once friends have long since gone their separate ways. But when the new King James commands a fresh translation of the Bible, their paths are fated to cross again. For biblical scholar Richard Clarke, the chance to work on the new translation seems like a gift from God, away back in from the cold where his friendship with Separatist Ben Kemp has kept him for many years. 

But Richard soon discovers there is a price to pay for his new-found favour, and that price is betrayal. Caught between love for his friend and his faith in his Church, Richard must make a decision that could cost him his soul. 

Set against the background of the writing of the King James Bible, and inspired by true accounts of the community who became the Mayflower Pilgrims, The King James Men is a vivid portrayal of the religious struggles of the age, and the price of being true to your faith.

Publication Date: November 20, 2018
Sam Grosser Books
eBook & Paperback; 393 Pages
Genre: Historical Fiction/Christian Fiction

It was a refreshing change to read a book about a friendship between two men. Richard Clark was working on the translation of the Bible for King James (it’s true, I googled it) and Ben Kemp was Puritan. Not a good mix.

This is my first time reading this era and this book has really got me thinking and itching to read more.  With attention to detail, from the family dynamics to life in a gaol to religious persecution and so much more, the author vividly described the times these men lived in.  It was a dark time with the struggle to survive prominent unless you had money, social status and your religious views were the same are the King.

The blurb above does a great job describing what this book is about and shows the many layers here.  It's about a friendship between men, faith, and family and so much more.

This is one book where I would have loved some author notes, just for more insight into the motivation for writing it and what was fact versus fiction.  But the lack of those will not stop me from reading more by this author.

My thanks to Amy at HFVBT for the invite to be part of this tour.

Historical fiction author Samantha Grosser originally hails from England, but now lives on the sunny Northern Beaches of Sydney with her husband, son and a very small dog called Livvy. Combining a lifelong love of history with a compulsion to write that dates from childhood, Samantha is now bringing her passion for telling compelling stories to the world. Samantha has an Honours Degree in English Literature and taught English for many years in Asia and Australia. She is the author of wartime dramas Another Time and Place, and The Officer’s Affair. The King James Men, set during the turbulent years of the early years of 17th Century, is her third novel.

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During the Blog Tour we will be giving away one eBook & one paperback copy of The King James Men! To enter, please enter via the Gleam form below. Giveaway Rules – Giveaway ends at 11:59pm EST on December 4th. 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.

  The King James Men