Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Review: The Corset by Laura Purcell


The new Victorian chiller from the author of, The Silent Companions.


 Is prisoner Ruth Butterham mad or a murderer?

Victim or villain?

 Dorothea and Ruth.

 Prison visitor and prisoner.

 Powerful and powerless.

 Dorothea Truelove is young, wealthy and beautiful. Ruth Butterham is young, poor and awaiting trial for murder.

 When Dorothea's charitable work leads her to Oakgate Prison, she is delighted with the chance to explore her fascination with phrenology and test her hypothesis that the shape of a person's skull can cast a light on their darkest crimes. But when she meets teenage seamstress Ruth, she is faced with another theory: that it is possible to kill with a needle and thread. For Ruth attributes her crimes to a supernatural power inherent in her stitches.

 The story Ruth has to tell of her deadly creations – of bitterness and betrayal, of death and dresses – will shake Dorothea's belief in rationality and the power of redemption. Can Ruth be trusted? Is she mad, or a murderer?

Paperback, 416 pages
Published May 2nd, 2019
by Raven Books
****

The Corset was released in the UK last year and set for a June 19th, 2019 release in North America titled The Poison Thread.

I ordered this from the UK because of the cover also since I was so enamored with Laura Purcell's previous book, The Silent Companions I was anxious to get my hands on this baby.

I love the blurb, it doesn’t give any of the story away but leaves much to the imagination, giving hints to an eerie Gothic tale of murder and mayhem with a touch of the supernatural...well maybe...

Told from alternating pov’s I was treated to scenes of Victorian England society from both sides of the fence. From the prim and proper to prison and low-class workers. From fancy dinner parties to those wondering if they will be fed just one meal a day. The author vividly illustrated the setting, both visually and emotionally.

I’ve never heard of phrenology before, and yes I did pull out a dictionary. What an original concept and the author pulled it off nicely.

The Corset is a story of guilt, injustice, and revenge, it’s a coming of age story as both women struggle in a society where women are meant to do as told and not think for themselves. Where their happiness depended on how obedient they were. Definitely a book and author I recommend.

This book is part of my ‘2019 reading off my shelf’ challenge.

click on cover to see my review

Audio Review: Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens

How long can you protect your heart?

 For years, rumors of the "Marsh Girl" have haunted Barkley Cove, a quiet town on the North Carolina coast. So in late 1969, when handsome Chase Andrews is found dead, the locals immediately suspect Kya Clark, the so-called Marsh Girl. But Kya is not what they say. Sensitive and intelligent, she has survived for years alone in the marsh that she calls home, finding friends in the gulls and lessons in the sand. Then the time comes when she yearns to be touched and loved. When two young men from town become intrigued by her wild beauty, Kya opens herself to a new life - until the unthinkable happens.

 Perfect for fans of Barbara Kingsolver and Karen Russell, Where the Crawdads Sing is at once an exquisite ode to the natural world, a heartbreaking coming-of-age story, and a surprising tale of possible murder. Owens reminds us that we are forever shaped by the children we once were and that we are all subject to the beautiful and violent secrets that nature keeps.

 Audio, Unabridged, 12 hours 12 minutes
 Published August 14th, 2018
by Penguin Audio
*****

I remember when this book first came out and it was a Reese Witherspoon pick, at the time it did not interest me. I read the blurb and thought meh, it wasn’t really historical so I never gave it another thought. As time went on with all the hype I still was not drawn to this book at all. Now many, many months later it is still highly recommended and still has the buzz on social media. Finally a couple weeks ago when one of my favorite bloggers (yes I'm looking at you Laurie The Baking Bookworm) highly recommended it curiosity took overtook over and on impulse, I grabbed the audiobook from Scribd - I knew I had a couple of long drives ahead of me and figured why not.

The reader is Cassandra Campbell, to say she is a favorite is an understatement, she breathes life into everything I have heard to read.  I was enamored right from that first chapter. If you’ve read the book you will know what I mean.

With vivid details of what the marsh is like, with its lack of development and raw nature I felt the author vividly described life for Kya. The prejudices of town folks felt authentic, the story itself was intriguing. The dual time period stories added that mysterious element that was necessary.

Where the Crawdads Sing is a wonderful coming of age story, it's about survival and longing in a world you were thrust into.  I have a hard time grasping that this is the author's debut, well done Delia Owens!  I will definitely be on the lookout for your next book.

Sunday, May 26, 2019

Review: The Royal Secret by Lucinda Riley


In this suspenseful and heart-pounding novel from New York Times bestselling author Lucinda Riley, an ambitious young journalist unravels a dangerous mystery that threatens to devastate the British monarchy.

Keeping secrets is a dangerous game.

When Sir James Harrison, one the greatest actors of his generation, passes away at the age of ninety-five, he leaves behind not just a heartbroken family but also a secret so shocking, it could rock the English establishment to its core.

Joanna Haslam, an up-and-coming reporter, is assigned to cover the legendary actor’s funeral, attended by glitzy celebrities of every background. But Joanna stumbles on something dark beneath the glamour: the mention of a letter James Harrison has left behind—the contents of which many have been desperate to keep concealed for over seventy years. As she peels back the veil of lies that has shrouded the secret, she realizes that she’s close to uncovering something deadly serious—and the royal family may be implicated. Before long, someone is on her tracks, attempting to prevent her from discovering the truth. And they’ll stop at nothing to reach the letter before she does.

Full of salacious scandal, shocking twists, and a captivating romance, and written in Lucinda Riley’s signature “vividly drawn and lushly atmospheric” (RT Book Reviews) prose, The Royal Secret is “a full-throttle escapist adventure” (Lancashire Evening Post).

Kindle, 624 pages
 Published May 21st, 2019
 by Atria Books
***

Lucinda Riley’s Seven Sisters series is a favorite of mine, she writes great detail into her historical fiction parts that have me anxiously awaiting the next installment.

The Royal Secret, originally titled The Love Letter, is a story full of mystery, intrigue, and secrets. It isn't a short story, coming in at approx 624 pages which to me spells an epic read with depth of character, a plot that has plenty of time to develop and one I love to get lost in. I looked forward to getting lost in the pages like I do with the Seven Sisters.

I was grabbed right away with a mystery that sent Joanna on the chase. There are many characters and the story evolved around different POV’s, it was nice to see the different sides to the story.

I applaud the author for undertaking such a huge plot and coming up with this story. This isn't one of my favorite Riley books, there were a number of inconsistencies that irked me and while I struggled to connect with some of the characters the middle part dragged on at times where I had a hard time concentrating.

Towards the end, there were some twists and turns as the mystery was slowly revealed that kept me reading and curious as to the conclusion.

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




Lucinda Riley is the New York Times bestselling author of The Orchid House, The Girl on the Cliff, The Lavender Garden, The Midnight Rose, and the Seven Sisters series. Her books have sold more than fifteen million copies in thirty-five languages globally.

She was born in Ireland and divides her time between England and West Cork with her husband and four children.

FIND LUCINDA RILEY ONLINE:
Twitter: @lucindariley

Saturday, May 25, 2019

Review: Under the Midnight Sky by Anna Romer

Chilling secrets buried deep in wild bushland drive this thrilling new novel from bestseller Anna Romer 

 When an injured teenager goes missing at a remote bushland campground, local journalist Abby Bardot is determined to expose the area’s dark history. The girl bears a striking resemblance to the victims of three brutal murders that occurred twenty years ago and Abby fears the killer is still on the loose.

 But the newspaper Abby works for wants to suppress the story for fear it will scare off tourists to the struggling township. Haunted by her own turbulent memories, Abby is desperate to learn the truth and enlists the help of Tom Gabriel, a reclusive crime writer. At first resentful of Abby’s intrusion, Tom’s reluctance vanishes when they discover a hidden attic room in his house that shows evidence of imprisonment from half a century before.

 As Abby and Tom sift through the attic room and discover its tragic history, they become convinced it holds the key to solving the bushland murders and finding the missing girl alive.

 But their quest has drawn out a killer, someone with a shocking secret who will stop at nothing to keep the truth buried.

Paperback, 400 pages
Published May 1st, 2019
 by Simon & Schuster AU
*****

If there was a book I would give more than 5 stars to this would be it. It might sound like a cliche but it's so true when I say, like a fine wine that mellows with age, enhancing the taste and experience, Anna Romer gets better with each book.  Of all her books this I think is my favourite, but then I look at her previous and remember each and how yummy they all were.

While I wanted to rush through to see what was going on I also wanted to take my time and enjoy the scenery and exquisite writing. I was right there in the Australian outback, the desolate wilderness, keeper so many secrets.

I'll admit to being a sucker when it comes to old abandoned buildings and their ghosts, Ravensong was both eerie and intriguing while at the same time beautiful. I cringed when Abby would go for a walkabout, even knowing no one was around for many a mile, the author had my mind on high alert for possible dangers. When memories refuse to leave Abby alone and events present themselves she has no choice but to dig deep even if it means facing her past.

Under the Midnight Sky is a captivating read of guilt, family, and relationships.  It's a shining example of why Anna Romer is a go-to author for me and will gladly pay a little extra to order.  It used to be I could only get her books directly from an Australian book shop but I was thrilled to see this one available at BookDepository. Her books are also available in audio format from Audible.

 clicking on the cover will take you to may reviews


Review: The Twisted Tree by Rachel Burge

Part ghost story, part Nordic thriller - this is a twisty, tense and spooky YA debut, perfect for fans of CORALINE and Michelle Paver.

 Martha can tell things about a person just by touching their clothes as if their emotions and memories have been absorbed into the material. It started the day she fell from the tree at her grandma's cabin and became blind in one eye.

 Determined to understand her strange ability, Martha sets off to visit her grandmother, Mormor - only to discover Mormor is dead, a peculiar boy is in her cabin and a terrifying creature is on the loose.

 Then the spinning wheel starts creaking, books move around and terror creeps in . . .

 Set in the remote snows of contemporary Norway, THE TWISTED TREE is a ghost story that twists and turns - and never takes you quite where you'd expect.

Paperback, 248 pages
Published January 10th, 2019
by Hot Key Book
***

It was the cover that drew me to this book.  Eerie, spooky and kinda creepy, the makings for a great ghost story.

This is Rachel Burge's debut and the premise is unique and has the making for not just a wonderful story but I could see a little series coming into play here.  I was grabbed right away with the first few chapters, wonderful character introduction, sinister setting and mysterious. But then it kinda fizzled out in the middle a little but gained some speed at the ending with a fitting conclusion.

I do recommend this book and will read this author again.

This book is part of my '2019 reading off my shelf challenge'.

Friday, May 24, 2019

Spotlight: Gold Digger by Rebecca Rosenberg

Gold Digger by Rebecca Rosenberg

Publication Date: May 28, 2019
Lion Heart Publishing
eBook & Paperback; 312 Pages
Genre: Fiction/Romance/Historical/American

One look at Baby Doe and you know she was meant to be a legend! She was just twenty years old when she came to Colorado to work a gold mine with her new husband. Little did she expect that she'd be abandoned and pregnant and left to manage the gold mine alone. But that didn't stop her!

 She moved to Leadville and fell in love with a married prospector, twice her age. Horace Tabor struck the biggest silver vein in history, divorced his wife and married Baby Doe. Though his new wife was known for her beauty, her fashion, and even her philanthropy, she was never welcomed in polite society.

 Discover how the Tabors navigated the worlds of wealth, power, politics, and scandal in the wild days of western mining.


Amazon | Barnes and Noble


Praise for Gold Digger


“Rosenberg’s rollicking Western adventure strikes gold with a gutsy, good-hearted spitfire of a heroine and action aplenty.” —THELMA ADAMS, bestselling author of Bittersweet Brooklyn and The Last Woman Standing

 "Gold Digger tells the true story of Lizzie 'Baby Doe' Tabor, a beautiful young woman who in 1878 marries the son of a wealthy miner in order to save her family from penury. Shrewd and stubborn, Lizzie fights back-biting Victorian society, wins and loses vast fortunes, and bests conniving politicians in her larger-than-life story. A twisting tale worthy of Mark Twain, with a big-hearted heroine at the center." —MARTHA CONWAY, author of The Underground River


About the Author

A California native, Rebecca Rosenberg lives on a lavender farm with her family in Sonoma, the Valley of the Moon, where Jack London wrote from his Beauty Ranch. Rebecca is a long-time student of Jack London’s works and an avid fan of his daring wife, Charmian London. The Secret Life of Mrs. London is her debut novel. Rebecca and her husband, Gary, own the largest lavender product company in America, selling to 4000 resorts, spas and gift stores. The Rosenbergs believe in giving back to the Sonoma Community, supporting many causes through financial donations and board positions, including Worth Our Weight, an educational culinary program for at-risk children, YWCA shelter for abused women, Luther Burbank Performing Arts Center to provide performances for children, Sonoma Food Bank, Sonoma Boys and Girls Club, and the Valley of the Moon Children’s Home.

 For more information, please visit Rebecca’s website and blog.

You can also find her on Facebook and Goodreads. Visit the Facebook page for The Secret Life of Mrs. London.


Giveaway

During the Blog Tour, we will be giving away a copy of Gold Digger, a gold facial mask & soap set, and recipe brochure to five winners. Three winners will receive an ebook of Gold Digger. To enter, please use the Gleam form below. Giveaway Rules – Giveaway ends at 11:59 pm EST on June 28th. 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 suspicion of fraud is decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion. – The winner has 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.

  Gold Digger

Thursday, May 23, 2019

Spotlight/Giveaway: Smoke In Her Eyes by Anna Belfrage

Smoke In Her Eyes by Anna Belfrage

Publication Date: March 15, 2019
Timelight Press
eBook & Paperback; 352 Pages
Series: The Wanderer, Book Two
Genre: Romance/Erotica/Paranormal

Six months ago, Helle Madsen would have described herself as normal. Now she no longer knows if that terms applies, not after her entire life has been turned upside down by the reappearance of not one, but two, men from her very, very distant past.

 Helle Madsen never believed in mumbo-jumbo stuff like reincarnation—until she came face to face with Jason Morris, a man who purportedly had spent fifty lives looking for her. Coping with being reunited with the lover from her ancient past was one thing. Having Sam Woolf, her vindictive nemesis from that same ancient past join the party was a bit too much. Suddenly, Helle finds herself the reluctant heroine of a far-flung, time-transcending epic story, one in which pain and loss seem to play a very big part.

 This time round, Jason and Helle are determined to make it to the happily ever after. Unfortunately, Sam Woolf will stop at nothing to crush them. That ride into the golden sunset seems awfully far away at times…

Amazon | Barnes and Noble | IndieBound


About the Author


Had Anna been allowed to choose, she’d have become a time-traveller. As this was impossible, she became a financial professional with three absorbing interests: history and writing. Anna has authored the acclaimed time travelling series The Graham Saga, set in 17th century Scotland and Maryland, as well as the equally acclaimed medieval series The King’s Greatest Enemy which is set in 14th century England. (Medieval knight was also high on Anna’s list of potential professions. Yet another disappointment…) With Jason and Helle, Anna has stepped out of her historical comfort zone and has loved doing so.


 Find out more about Anna by visiting her website, www.annabelfrage.com

You can also connect with Anna on FacebookTwitterAmazon, and Goodreads.


Giveaway

During the Blog Tour, we will be giving away two copies of Smoke In Her Eyes by Anna Belfrage! To enter, please use the Gleam form below. Giveaway Rules – Giveaway ends at 11:59 pm EST on May 31st. 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 suspicion of fraud is decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion. – The winner has 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen. Smoke in Her Eyes

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Spotlight/Giveaway: Listen to the Wind by Susanne Dunlap

Listen to the Wind by Susanne Dunlap

Publication Date: April 22, 2019 
Bellastoria Press eBook & 
Paperback; 388 Pages 
 Series: The Orphans of Tolosa, Book 1
 Genre: Historical Fiction/Medieval
      

 Sent away from their families for their own protection when they were very young, Azemar and Azala├»s become separated when they are forced to flee from the band of outlaws who served as their supposed protectors. Armed only with scraps of memories and the wits and intelligence that have helped them survive brutal conditions, they struggle to find each other again and discover the mysterious past that links them across distance and time. Who are they? And do they hold the secret of the legendary Cathar treasure? All they know is that knights and monks spell danger, and they must find a way to survive at all costs if they are to fulfill their destiny—and preserve their vanishing culture.

Amazon | Barnes and Noble | IndieBound | Kobo


About the Author

Susanne Dunlap is the author of six works of historical fiction. Two are for adults (Emilie's Voice and Liszt's Kiss, both published by Touchstone books of Simon & Schuster). Four are for young adults (The Musician's Daughter, Anastasia's Secret, In the Shadow of the Lamp, and The Academie, published by Bloomsbury). A graduate of Smith College with a PhD in Music History from Yale University, Susanne grew up in Buffalo, New York and has lived in London, Brooklyn and Northampton, MA. She now lives in Northampton with her long-time partner, Charles, has two grown daughters, three granddaughters, a grandson, a stepson and a stepdaughter, four step-grandsons and one step-granddaughter—that's a total of four children and nine grandchildren! In her spare time she cycles in the beautiful Pioneer Valley.

 For more information, please visit The Orphans of Tolosa website

You can follow author Susanne Dunlap on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, Instagram, Pinterest, and BookBub.


Giveaway

During the Blog Tour, we will be giving away one copy of Listen to the Wind by Susanne Dunlap! To enter, please use the Gleam form below. Giveaway Rules – Giveaway ends at 11:59 pm EST on May 28th. 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 suspicion of fraud is decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion. – The winner has 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.

  Listen to the Wind

Monday, May 20, 2019

Spotlight: The Boy from Tomorrow by Camille DeAngelis


Kindle, 268 pages 
Published May 8th 2018
 by Amberjack Publishing

Josie and Alec both live at 444 Sparrow Street. They sleep in the same room, but they’ve never laid eyes on each other. They are twelve years old but a hundred years apart.

 The children meet through a handpainted spirit board—Josie in 1915, Alec in 2015—and form a friendship across the century that separates them. But a chain of events leave Josie and her little sister Cass trapped in the house and afraid for their safety, and Alec must find out what’s going to happen to them. Can he help them change their future when it’s already past?

 The Boy from Tomorrow is a tribute to classic English fantasy novels like Tom’s Midnight Garden and A Traveller in Time. Through their impossible friendship, Alec and Josie learn that life can offer only what they ask of it.


Saturday, May 18, 2019

Review: A Murderous Malady by Christine Trent

For fans of Charles Todd and Deanna Raybourn comes Christine Trent’s second Florence Nightingale mystery.


 Cholera has broken out in London, but Florence Nightingale has bigger problems when people begin dying of a far more intentional cause—murder.

The London summer of 1854 is drawing to a close when a deadly outbreak of cholera grips the city. Florence Nightingale is back on the scene marshaling her nurses to help treat countless suffering patients at Middlesex Hospital as the disease tears through the Soho slums. But beyond the dangers of the disease, something even more evil is seeping through the ailing streets of London. 

It begins with an attack on the carriage of Florence’s friend, Elizabeth Herbert, wife to Secretary at War Sidney Herbert. Florence survives, but her coachman does not. Within hours, Sidney’s valet stumbles into the hospital, mutters a few cryptic words about the attack, and promptly dies from cholera. Frantic that an assassin is stalking his wife, Sidney enlists Florence’s help, who accepts but has little to go on save for the valet’s last words and a curious set of dice in his jacket pocket. Soon, the suspects are piling up faster than cholera victims, as there seems to be no end to the number of people who bear a grudge against the Herbert household.

 Now, Florence is in a race against time—not only to save the victims of a lethal disease but to foil a murderer with a disturbingly sinister goal—in A Murderous Malady.


Publication Date: May 7, 2019
Crooked Lane Books
Hardcover & eBook; 336 Pages
Genre: Historical Mystery

***

A Murderous Malady is the second book in the A Florence Nightingale Series, it definitely works fine as a stand-alone.

With so many contemporary mystery’s out there it’s a treat to read a historical one for a change.  Though I am not overly familiar with the life of Florence Nightingale I enjoyed her portrayal here. With the story equally divided between the mystery and the cholera epidemic/hospital duties it was easy to get a feel for her talents.

A Murderous Malady was an interesting story, tagging along beside Florence (and Mary, I really like Mary) as she dawned her sleuth hat unraveling clues. There were times it was a little slow but all in all I was kept guessing and ultimately enjoyed a satisfying ending.

My thanks to Amy from HFVBT and the publisher (via Netgalley) for an advanced copy in exchange for honest review.

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

Christine Trent is the author of the Florence Nightingale Mysteries, the Lady of Ashes historical mystery series, about a Victorian-era undertaker, and three other historical novels. Christine’s novels have been translated into Turkish, Polish, and Czech. She writes from her two-story home library, where she lives with her husband, four precocious cats, a large doll collection, entirely too many fountain pens, and over 4,000 catalogued books.

 Learn more about Christine at www.christinetrent.com.

You can also follow her on Facebook and Goodreads.

Friday, May 17, 2019

Review: The Stillwater Girls by Minka Kent

Two sisters raised in fear are about to find out why in a chilling novel of psychological suspense from the author of The Thinnest Air. 

Ignorant of civilization and cautioned against its evils, nineteen-year-old Wren and her two sisters, Sage and Evie, were raised in off-the-grid isolation in a primitive cabin in upstate New York. When the youngest grows gravely ill, their mother leaves with the child to get help from a nearby town. And they never return.

 As months pass, hope vanishes. Supplies are low. Livestock are dying. A brutal winter is bearing down. Then comes the stranger. He claims to be looking for the girls’ mother, and he’s not leaving without them.

 To escape, Wren and her sister must break the rule they’ve grown up with: never go beyond the forest.

 Past the thicket of dread, they come upon a house on the other side of the pines. This is where Wren and Sage must confront something more chilling than the unknowable. They’ll discover what’s been hidden from them, what they’re running from, and the secrets that have left them in the dark their entire lives.

Kindle Edition, 256 pages
Published April 9th, 2019
by Thomas & Mercer
****

I love a good mystery, ones that keep me guessing, with twists and turns that are plausible, a book that I can polish off in a matter of days because I have to know what's going on. But I find myself picky these days, a few have been iffy and when publishers say 'if you liked such and such book then you will love this one', well what if I didn't love or even like such and such book?

I have a few favorite authors where I know I'll get a good ride but I also have a free favorite bloggers/reviewers whose opinions I trust - Laurie The Baking Bookworm for example. It was her review that pointed me in the direction of The Stillwater Girls.

I didn't read too much of the blurb but enough to get the just.  I was captivated right away, how can one not be after the first few chapters? There are 2 storylines here, one with 2 teens abandoned in a remote cabin somewhere in the woods.  While the other is a young woman with longings and unfilled dreams.  There were vivid pictures of both lifestyles with its hardships, suspicions and trust issues.

My curiosity of the connections and where the plot was going kept me guessing and while
I thought a couple things predictable I was taken aback by the ending. Well done Minka Kent.

Minka Kent is a new author to me, will definitely keep my eye out for more of her books. 

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


Thursday, May 16, 2019

Audio Review: Duet by Kimberley Freeman

A story of passion, greed, secrets and lies.

Present day: A reclusive woman living in outback Australia receives a letter acknowledging a terrible secret from her past. Thirty years before, she stole another woman's life. From the moment the letter is opened two women are on a collision course with destiny.

From the London pop scene, to the opera stages of Europe; from a tiny Greek island, to a stifling manor house full of secrets and deceptions; from the sun-drenched Queensland coast, to the silent outback; Angela and Ellie are two women both looking for something. One in search of her identity and her memory; the other in search of the love that she had and lost; theirs is a duet whose last note will not be sung until the heart-stopping climax, when a shadow from the past returns to claim them both.

Trade Paperback 535 pages
Audiobook 19hours, 58 minutes
 Published January 1st 2007
 by Hachette Australia Trade Paperback
****
I have been a fan of Kimberley Freeman since reading Wildflower Hill and Evergreen Falls, an Australian author who reminds me of Kate Morton. Yes, that is right I said Kate Morton, those that know me know my feeling towards Kate Morton and it takes some mighty big shoes to come close to her.  But what can I say, if the shoe fits...

I think Duet might be one of Freeman's first books, there is a definite growth from this one to the 2 mentioned above.  Duet was an enjoyable read (listen - audiobook) with its mystery, suspense, and intrigue.  As you can read in the blurb there is a lot going on. Spanning many decades and reading from 3 different pov's I was trying to figure out the connections, guess at the outcome and walked my dog many miles waiting.  Seeing the different angles and getting to know these characters gave the plot more depth and added to the mystery. I did find it a little long in the middle and that did take some of the enjoyment away.  But already being familiar with the author kept me going and I was not disappointed.

Duet is a hard-to-find book in print but it is readily available at Audible





Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Spotlight/Giveaway: The Silent Woman by Terry Lynn Thomas

The Silent Woman by Terry Lynn Thomas

Publication Date: April 11, 2018
HQ Digital
Paperback & eBook; 384 Pages
Genre: Historical Mystery
Series: Cat Carlisle, Book One

Would you sell your secrets?

 Catherine Carlisle is trapped in a loveless marriage and the threat of World War Two is looming. She sees no way out… that is until a trusted friend asks her to switch her husband’s papers in a desperate bid to confuse the Germans.

 Soon Catherine finds herself caught up in a deadly mixture of espionage and murder. Someone is selling secrets to the other side, and the evidence seems to point right at her.

 Can she clear her name before it’s too late?


Amazon | Barnes and Noble | Google Play | Kobo


About the Author

TERRY LYNN THOMAS grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area, which explains her love of foggy beaches and Gothic mysteries. When her husband promised to buy Terry a horse and the time to write if she moved to Mississippi with him, she jumped at the chance. Although she had written several novels and screenplays prior to 2006, after she relocated to the South she set out to write in earnest and has never looked back. Terry Lynn writes the Sarah Bennett Mysteries, set on the California coast during the 1940s, which feature a misunderstood medium in love with a spy. The Drowned Woman is a recipient of the IndieBRAG Medallion. She also writes the Cat Carlisle Mysteries, set in Britain during World War II. The first book in this series, The Silent Woman, came out in April 2018 and has since become a USA TODAY bestseller. The Family Secret is slated for release in March 2019.

When she’s not writing, you can find Terry Lynn riding her horse, walking in the woods with her dogs, or visiting old cemeteries in search of story ideas.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads



Giveaway

During the Blog Tour, we will be giving away a $20 Amazon Gift Card! To enter, please use the Gleam form below. Giveaway Rules – Giveaway ends at 11:59 pm EST on May 15th. You must be 18 or older to enter. – Giveaway is open to US only. – Only one entry per household. – All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspicion of fraud is decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion. – The winner has 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen. The Silent Woman

Sunday, May 12, 2019

Review: Waves of Mercy (Waves of Mercy #1) by Lynn Austin

Geesje de Jonge crossed the ocean at age seventeen with her parents and a small group of immigrants from the Netherlands to settle in the Michigan wilderness. Fifty years later, in 1897, she's asked to write a memoir of her early experiences as the town celebrates its anniversary. Reluctant at first, she soon uncovers memories and emotions hidden all these years, including the story of her one true love.

 At the nearby Hotel Ottawa Resort on the shore of Lake Michigan, twenty-three-year-old Anna Nicholson is trying to ease the pain of a broken engagement to a wealthy Chicago banker. But her time of introspection is disturbed after a violent storm aboard a steamship stirs up memories of a childhood nightmare. As more memories and dreams surface, Anna begins to question who she is and whether she wants to return to her wealthy life in Chicago. When she befriends a young seminary student who is working at the hotel for the summer, she finds herself asking him all the questions that have been troubling her.

 Neither Geesje nor Anna, who are different in every possible way, can foresee the life-altering surprises awaiting them before the summer ends.

Paperback, 384 pages
 Published October 4th, 2016
 by Bethany House
*****

This is my second Lynn Austin book (Where We Belong was my first - click to see my review).  I was drawn to Waves of Mercy because of the location - my family hales from the Netherlands so any piece of HF I can get my hands on I grab. 

Told from 2 different points of view - one being 23-year-old Anna in 1897 and from Geesje who goes back to 1847 and relays her experiences traveling and being one of the first families to settle in Holland, Michigan. It's evident the author knows the area which came through in her writing.

With many layers, I thoroughly enjoyed my time reading this book.  I found the historical aspects enlightening, easy to not just visualize but feel the emotional struggles that occurred.  Not heavy on the romance side was a nice change but love, marriage, and family do play a big role here. The internal struggles both Anna and Geesje deal with was authentic, heartbreaking at times.  As the story unfolded I connected with these ladies, they were on a journey with faith and searching for answers playing center stage.  This is Christian HF and that played predominately.

Lynn Austin is fast becoming a favorite of mine for her interesting plots, locations off the beaten path and character development.  I highly recommend Waves of Mercy and hope to read its sequel, Legacy of Mercy over the summer.

This book is part of my '2019 reading off my shelf challenge'.

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Audio Review: The Lost Flowers of Alice Hart by Holly Ringland

The most enchanting debut novel of 2018, this is an irresistible, deeply moving and romantic story of a young girl, daughter of an abusive father, who has to learn the hard way that she can break the patterns of the past, live on her own terms and find her own strength.

 After her family suffers a tragedy when she is nine years old, Alice Hart is forced to leave her idyllic seaside home. She is taken in by her estranged grandmother, June, a flower farmer who raises Alice on the language of Australian native flowers, a way to say the things that are too hard to speak. But Alice also learns that there are secrets within secrets about her past. Under the watchful eye of June and The Flowers, women who run the farm, Alice grows up. But an unexpected betrayal sends her reeling, and she flees to the dramatically beautiful central Australian desert. Alice thinks she has found solace until she falls in love with Dylan, a charismatic and ultimately dangerous man.

 The Lost Flowers of Alice Hart is a story about stories: those we inherit, those we select to define us, and those we decide to hide. It is a novel about the secrets we keep and how they haunt us, and the stories we tell ourselves in order to survive. Spanning twenty years, set between the lush sugar cane fields by the sea, a native Australian flower farm, and a celestial crater in the central desert, Alice must go on a journey to discover that the most powerful story she will ever possess is her own.

Paperback, 400 pages
 Published March 19th, 2018 by
 HarperCollins Publishers Australia
***

I love reading books with Australia as the setting, I hope one day to visit this country, so for now I read about it.  Each chapter begins with a flower, it’s meaning, location and medicinal benefits which added an interesting perk and charm.

The Lost Flowers is a coming of age book for young Alice Hart, you can read from the blurb above all she goes through.  In my opinion, I think it gives too much of the story away and I'm glad I didn't read it before starting this book.  I spotted the audiobook on Audible and went that route, Louise Crawford did a great job reading this one.

With this opening sentence I was grabbed:

In the weatherboard house at the end of the lane, nine-year-old Alice Hart sat at her desk by the window and dreamed of ways to set her father on fire.


I wanted to love this book, I’m in the minority here with my feelings. My thoughts are rather mixed here.  The first third of the book was great, there was mystery and emotion. But things changed and seemed rushed on one hand and slow on the other. I found several central characters weren’t given enough time and others too much. I found myself confused at some of Alice’s actions confusing.

All that being said I’m still giving this book 3 stars for the great description of Australia and a story that I was curious to see how it would turn out. This is the author’s debut and will probably give her next book a read.

This book is part of my ‘2019 reading off my shelf challenge’.

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Audio Review: Dreams of Falling by Karen White

From the New York Times, bestselling author of The Night the Lights Went Out comes an exquisite new novel about best friends, family ties and the love that can both strengthen and break those bonds

It's been nine years since Larkin fled Georgetown, South Carolina, vowing never to go back. But when she finds out that her mother has disappeared, she knows she has no choice but to return to the place that she both loves and dreads--and to the family and friends who never stopped wishing for her to come home. Ivy, Larkin's mother, is discovered in the burned-out wreckage of her family's ancestral rice plantation, badly injured and unconscious. No one knows why Ivy was there, but as Larkin digs for answers, she uncovers secrets kept for nearly 50 years. Secrets that lead back to the past, to the friendship between three girls on the brink of womanhood who swore that they would be friends forever, but who found that vow tested in heartbreaking ways.

Audiobook,16 hours 25 minutes
Kindle Edition, 416 pages
 Published June 5th, 2018
 by Berkley
*****
I have been a fan of Karen White's since reading (listening actually) to The Sound of Glass, her books are perfect in audio format and I continued with The Night the Lights Went Out and now Dream of Falling, all of which I've loved.

As with the previous books Dreams of Falling is a multi-layered story of friendship and family ties. Full of hidden secrets, guilt and figuring out where you truly belong.  The characters are flawed, damaged and developed very nicely.

Karen White takes her time unfolding this story at a nice pace.  Told from the voices of Larkin, CeeCee and Ivy I was given a wide view of the plot and eagerly waited as each of the puzzle pieces finally fit into place.  From family drama, friendships tested in heartbreaking ways, betrayal and realizing that running away won't make them disappear. There are always twists and turns, questions and with a satisfying ending, I received my answers.

Karen White is an author I highly recommend, her books are full of Southern Charm making me want to drink some sweetened ice tea at the waters edge listening to nature.



Monday, May 6, 2019

Spotlight/Giveaway: Song of Songs: A Novel of the Queen of Sheba by Marc Graham

Song of Songs: A Novel of the Queen of Sheba
by Marc Graham

Publication Date: April 16, 2019
Blank Slate Press
Paperback; 400 Pages
Genre: Historical Fiction

Lift the veil of legend for the untold story of Makeda, the Queen of Sheba, and Bathsheba, wife and mother of Israel’s first kings.

 When Makeda, the slave-born daughter of the chieftain of Saba, comes of age, she wins her freedom and inherits her father's titles along with a crumbling earthwork dam that threatens her people's survival. When she learns of a great stone temple being built in a land far to the north, Makeda leads a caravan to the capital of Yisrael to learn how to build a permanent dam and secure her people's prosperity.

 On her arrival, Makeda discovers that her half-sister Bilkis (also known as Bathsheba) who was thought to have died in a long-ago flash flood, not only survived, but has become Queen of Yisrael. Not content with her own wealth, Bilkis intends to claim the riches of Saba for herself by forcing Makeda to marry her son. But Bilkis’s designs are threatened by the growing attraction between Makeda and Yetzer abi-Huram, master builder of Urusalim’s famed temple. Will Bilkis’s plan succeed or will Makeda and Yetzer outsmart her and find happiness far from her plots and intrigue?

Amazon | Barnes and Noble


About the Author


Marc Graham studied mechanical engineering at Rice University in Texas, but has been writing since his first attempt at science fiction penned when he was ten. From there, he graduated to knock-off political thrillers, all safely locked away to protect the public, before settling on historical fiction. His first novel, Of Ashes and Dust, was published in March 2017. He has won numerous writing contests including, the National Writers Assocation Manuscript Contest (Of Ashes and Dust), the Paul Gillette Memorial Writing Contest - Historical (Of Ashes and Dust, Song of Songs), and the Colorado Gold Writing Contest - Mainstream (Prince of the West, coming from Blank Slate Press in Fall 2019). He lives in Colorado on the front range of the Rocky Mountains, and in addition to writing, he is an actor, narrator, speaker, story coach, shamanic practitioner, and whisky afficianado (Macallan 18, one ice cube). When not on stage or studio, in a pub, or bound to his computer, he can be found hiking with his wife and their Greater Swiss Mountain Dog.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

Giveaway

During the Blog Tour, we will be giving away two paperback copies of Song of Songs! To enter, please use the Gleam form below. Giveaway Rules – Giveaway ends at 11:59 pm EST on May 17th. You must be 18 or older to enter. – Giveaway is open to the US & Canada only. – Only one entry per household. – All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspicion of fraud is decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion. – The winner has 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.

  Song of Songs

Friday, May 3, 2019

Review: The Lost History of Dreams by Kris Waldherr

A post-mortem photographer unearths dark secrets of the past that may hold the key to his future, in this captivating debut novel in the gothic tradition of Wuthering Heights and The Thirteenth Tale.

 All love stories are ghost stories in disguise. 

 When famed Byronesque poet Hugh de Bonne is discovered dead of a heart attack in his bath one morning, his cousin Robert Highstead, a historian turned post-mortem photographer, is charged with a simple task: transport Hugh’s remains for burial in a chapel. This chapel, a stained glass folly set on the moors of Shropshire, was built by de Bonne sixteen years earlier to house the remains of his beloved wife and muse, Ada. Since then, the chapel has been locked and abandoned, a pilgrimage site for the rabid fans of de Bonne’s last book, The Lost History of Dreams

However, Ada’s grief-stricken niece refuses to open the glass chapel for Robert unless he agrees to her bargain: before he can lay Hugh to rest, Robert must record Isabelle’s story of Ada and Hugh’s ill-fated marriage over the course of five nights.

 As the mystery of Ada and Hugh’s relationship unfolds, so does the secret behind Robert’s own marriage—including that of his fragile wife, Sida, who has not been the same since the tragic accident three years ago, and the origins of his own morbid profession that has him seeing things he shouldn’t—things from beyond the grave.

 Kris Waldherr effortlessly spins a sweeping and atmospheric gothic mystery about love and loss that blurs the line between the past and the present, truth and fiction, and ultimately, life and death.

Kindle Edition, 320 pages
Published April 9th, 2019
by Atria Books
**** 1/2

This was such an interesting book! The thought of someone who takes photographs of the dead, as a keepsake for the family, well that's an interesting profession eh? That is what Robert Highstead does and the latest task is to fulfill the last wishes of a cousin he never knew existed.

Here I can go on about his task and what transpires but the blurb above does that perfectly.

The Lost History of Dreams is a Gothic story of lost love with plenty of secrets and shattered dreams. It’s about grief unrelenting and eerie settings where you can feel the damp of the fog and heat of flames. I found it mesmerizing and hard to put down. It was mysterious, creepy at times and definitely lived up to the buzz this book has been creating.

A wonderful debut by Kris Waldherr and one I highly recommend to those that love a Gothic, ghostly story.

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

Thursday, May 2, 2019

Review: We Hope for Better Things by Erin Bartels

When Detroit Free Press reporter Elizabeth Balsam meets James Rich, his strange request--that she look up a relative she didn't know she had in order to deliver an old camera and a box of photos--seems like it isn't worth her time.

But when she loses her job after a botched investigation, she suddenly finds herself with nothing but time. At her great-aunt's 150-year-old farmhouse, Elizabeth uncovers a series of mysterious items, locked doors, and hidden graves. As she searches for answers to the riddles around her, the remarkable stories of two women who lived in this very house emerge as testaments to love, resilience, and courage in the face of war, racism, and misunderstanding. And as Elizabeth soon discovers, the past is never as past as we might like to think.

 Debut novelist Erin Bartels takes readers on an emotional journey through time--from the volatile streets of 1960s Detroit to the Underground Railroad during the Civil War--to uncover the past, confront the seeds of hatred, and discover where love goes to hide.

Paperback, 400 pages
 Published January 1st,2019
by Fleming H. Revell Company
****


With 3 timelines and pov’s We Hope for Better Things is a solid debut that kept me captivated.

I can honestly say I haven’t read any HF from around the Detroit area. From the Civil War to the 1960s and present day this is a story of racism, family drama, intrigue with mysterious elements. All catering around an old house with its many secrets and scars. As usual, the past storyline interested me the most. With its focus mainly during the aftermath of the Civil War as freed slaves adjust to the changes.

Reading the ‘60 was interesting, learning of the racial unrest and riots was a real eye-opener.

With the present-day arc focusing on the unveiling and I enjoyed that part, connecting the dots and trying to unravel mysteries before they were revealed.  This is a book about resilient women who have been through so much and show what it takes to survive.

This is the author’s debut, can’t wait to see what’s next for her.

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