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Friday, October 31, 2014

Scary Stories: A Guest Post by Elizabeth Eckhart

Halloween is approaching, and with it comes mountains of candy and evenings filled with costumes and horror films. For diligent readers though, there is another option besides black and white films and haunted houses to celebrate the annual day of horror in the form of scary novels. Supernatural books may be fun, and vampires and witches appropriately terrifying, but the real thrill lies in stories that have a sense of reality behind them. These are the novels that leave you double and triple checking your doors are locked, the nightlight is on, and your teddy bear is snuggled in next to you each night. Because who knows, it could happen to you...

The Exorcist by William Peter Blatty

The Exorcist is perhaps better known as a film, but the original story is even more terrifying in its novel form. Based on a true story, or at least what a collection of priests demm to be true, the tale follows the journey of an innocent young girl possessed by demons. Whether you believe in demons or not, The Exorcist will still stand to horrify, since its truly unsettling qualities are that its characters are entirely undeserving of the events that occur. The novel leaves readers ever aware that evil doesn’t only exist to punish the wicked, it can find anyone, anywhere. The book will leave you begging for relief of the story’s victims - as to whether or not they truly find peace, you’ll have to read to find out.

The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson

The Haunting of Hill House follows four people who decide to spend a summer in a home that is rumored to be haunted. The novel is so successful at creating tension that the author, Shirley Jackson, had an award named after her, which recognizes current novels which aim to equal her skill in psychological suspense. The tale is narrated by Eleanor, a young woman staying in the house with Dr. Montague (who desperately wants proof ghosts exist) his assistant, Theodora, his assistant, and the heir to the house, Luke. Reality and hallucination, as well as the living and the dead, become incomprehensibly blurry as the novel goes on. The film version is not nearly as terrifying, but is available on demand through DirecTV, or through Amazon, for those looking to cap off the novel with a visual addition.

Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark by Alvin Schwartz and illustrated by Stephen Gammell

If you were a child anytime in the 80s or 90s, chances are that you’ve seen at least one of three collections of folklore and urban legends the make up the complete Scary Stories. The short stories often jump between ghost stories and more unique folk tales, like The Big Toe, which follows a young boy and mother who find and eat a toe (who that toe belongs to, of course, becomes a pressing issue). The simplicity of the tales, complemented by their equally eerie illustrations, will still leave you shivering at night, thinking about headless women and diseased, mutated humans. There were rumors of a film version, but as of yet, no release date has been announced.

The Girl Next Door by Jack Ketchum

This tale is based loosely on the true tale of Indiana victim Sylvia Likens, who was brutally tortured and murdered by her temporary caregiver and the guardian’s gang of children.  Ketchum’s novel is far more disturbing and closer to reality than the later film version, and examines the gruesome details of the abuse the young girl withstood before finally passing away. Ketchum was liberal with the actual plot, changing the girl’s name to Meg and adding a narrator who was in love with the girl. Perhaps the most disturbing fact regarding the novel, however, is that it still does not come close to the actual abuse endured by Sylvia. Ketchum found that many of the atrocities were too great even for his already monstrous tale.

The Amityville Horror by Jay Anson

In 1975, the Lutz family moves into a new home, priced well due to the recent murders that had occurred in the home. Months earlier, 23 year old Ronnie DeFeo was convicted of shooting his parents, brothers and sisters, leaving the home completely unoccupied. Then, a mere 28 days after moving in, the Lutz family flees the house in terror, leaving everything behind besides their own persons. The novel is based on the actual memoirs of the Lutz family, who insist that their experiences in the house are factual. From their daughter’s eerie imaginary friend “Jodie” to failed blessings attempted by priests, this book will have you questioning the history of your own home.

No matter what you choose to read, you can count on wanting to leave the lights on this Halloween! What terrifying books would you add to this list?


 About the Author:

Elizabeth Eckhart is an entertainment and film blogger for Directstartv.com, who finds nothing more compelling than a good story, no matter its medium.

Review: This Old World by Steve Wiegenstein

Title: This Old World
Author: Steve Wiegenstein
Format: Ebook
Publisher: Blank Slate Press
Publish Date: September 1, 2014
Source: I received a copy from the author; however, this did not affect my review.






What's the Story:

From Goodreads.com: "The community of Daybreak survived the war. Can it survive the peace? After the war, James Turner and the other men of Daybreak return home to find that war has changed their Utopian community forever. Charlotte Turner, Marie Mercadier and the other women they left behind survived raiders and bushwackers, raised up children, and survived on little more than dogged determination. Now that the men are back-those who fought for the North and those who fought for the South-the community must somehow put the past behind them. But some carry scars too deep to heal, and others carry hate they have no intention of letting go."

My Two Cents:

"This Old World" is the follow-up to Wiegenstein's earlier book, "Slant of Light." In this book, the Civil War has ended and the men are returning home to Daybreak, the utopian community at the center of "Slant of Light." What they will find there is not what they left. The world is a different place now and the community has changed as well. The changes are at the center of this story.

"This Old World" is not really a standalone story. The main action in the book is standalone but because this second book is mostly action, you may need a reminder of who all of the major players in the book were. You get much more of an introduction to the characters in the first book and I had to go back to remind myself of the characters as I had read "Slant of Light" so long ago. That being said, go back and read "Slant of Light" and then read "This Old World. Both are great historical fiction books!

The things that I liked in "Slant of Light" continued to be what I liked in "This Old World." The author uses a lot of great detail to really pull the readers into the story. I was especially pulled in by the plight of the men who returned to Daybreak. Not only has their community changed but they have changed as well and after seeing so many of the unspeakable things they witnessed during the war. I really liked how the author showed how the men coped (well or not so well) with being back home as it really rang true to me. Overall, I really enjoyed the continuing saga of the people of Daybreak.


 

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Review: India Unplugged by Aurelia Zoss

Title: India Unplugged
Author: Aurelia Zoss
Format: Ebook
Publisher: Self-published
Publish Date: May 29, 2014
Source: I received a copy from the author; however, this did not affect my review.


What's the Story?:

From Goodreads.com: "If you want to complement your India travel guide with a fun book to read, India unplugged is for you!

Part travelogue, part memoir, and part advice for India travelers, this book is a delightful account of a twenty-something expat working and living in Bangalore.

This is not another India travel guide about which forms to fill out, but rather a fun and refreshing collection of short stories packed with witty observations, quirky one-liners and hilarious cultural misunderstandings.


Instead of going to expat parties, this young woman has mingled with the locals and thrown herself into the Indian life. She made Indian friends and worked with Indian colleagues and bosses. Her immersion into the Indian culture and her unique encounters make for unusual stories told in a funny yet personal way. We are taken along as she goes about her daily life and her travels.
Unlike in most other expat books, Aurelia gives us a generous peak into her daily life in the Indian office and shares entertaining and sometimes embarrassing tales about her own cultural blunders.
Expats will relate to many of her experiences and will find delight in Aurelia’s down-to-earth and humorous way of describing her life in India." 


My Two Cents:

Have you ever dreamed of going to India? Are you not able to hop a plane right now? Want to still go explore this lovely and fascinating place? In "India Unplugged," you get a chance to explore India through the eyes of the author who has spent ample time in many different places throughout the country. India is someplace that I have always wanted to visit and so I was looking forward to diving into this book. When you don't have a chance to travel, there is nothing like being able to at least armchair travel through a book!

This book is made up of different vignettes covering different aspects of Zoss' travels through many different parts of India. The vignettes are not necessarily in any sort of order so you would be able to skip around in the book if you would like. My favorite story was about Zoss and a friend traveling by train (I love, love, love train travel) and being totally confused about how the train system works. A very kind family takes them under their wings and shares a lot with them on the train to make them more comfortable. The author does a really good job of describing all of the various people that she meets along the way!

Overall, I thought the writing in the book was good but there were a couple spots that needed some tightening up. Some of the vignettes are a little all over the place with a lot of asides that take away from the main point of the stories. There were also a couple grammar errors here and there that took me out of the story. The descriptions in the book really shine though and this book will be a treat for my fellow armchair travel lovers!


 

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

HF Virtual Book Tours Review and Giveaway: Highland Hunger by Eliza Knight

Title: Highland Hunger
Author: Eliza Knight
Format: Paperback
Publisher: Knight Media LLC
Publish Date: August 8, 2014
Source: HF Virtual Book Tours






What's the Story?:

From Goodreads.com: "An unclaimed land in the Scottish isles is ruled by the male and female victors in a series of war games every five years. Named Chief and Lady of the land, they rule the vast holding, and protect the people by divine right, until the next game begins.

After her brother’s death Ceana is named laird. The only way for her clan to survive the ravages of the Highlands is to join in the war games. Bastard son of a powerful earl, Macrath is placed in the games by his vengeful stepmother. He must survive for the ultimate retribution.

Ceana can’t stand the arrogant Highlander who seems to be following her, and yet she can’t seem to walk away. Macrath wants nothing more than to be rid of the troublesome need to protect the warrior lass. What starts out as a race to survive turns into passion to endure together.

May the gods be forever in their favor…"


My Two Cents:

"Highland Hunger" kicks off a brand new series from author Eliza Knight. In this book (which takes place in lovely Scotland - yay!), Ceana's world has been turned upside down. She is now fighting for her title as "Laird" after her brother dies and it is up to her to enter the war games to defend her clan (a tall order for a woman in this world). Of course, there is a romance to be had between Ceana and Macrath, a highlander who is also in the war games. If you've read any of Knight's books before, you know that it is the area of romance where she really shines!

Ceana and Macrath are an awesome couple. You have Ceana, who is a very no-nonsense women bound by duty to her clan. She knows what she has to do and is not afraid to jump in with both feet in order to get it done even though the stakes are high. And Macrath (oh, Macrath, who I have a little bit of a literary crush on) is a wonderful counterpart to Ceana. He is strong and brave and I can see exactly why Ceana finds him so absolutely irresistible! Their chemistry definitely jumped off the page for me and I loved reading about how their relationship changed throughout the book! I can't wait to see what is in store for them in the coming books!

I have been very excited for this series to come out and I was most definitely not disappointed. This is an exciting new series that will be a treat for those who love highlanders like I do! This book was definitely a promising start!  




Giveaway:

Want to win a paperback or ebook copy of Highland Hunger (open internationally)? Just fill out the Rafflecopter form below.


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Follow the Rest of the Tour:

Monday, October 20
Spotlight & Giveaway at Passages to the Past
Tuesday, October 21
Spotlight at Just One More Chapter
Wednesday, October 22
Interview at Romance Book Junkies
Thursday, October 23
Guest Post at Back Porchervations
Monday, October 27
Interview at Room with Books
Tuesday, October 28
Spotlight at Svetlana’s Reads and Views
Wednesday, October 29
Review & Giveaway at A Bookish Affair
Friday, October 31
Review & Giveaway at Peeking Between the Pages
Saturday, November 1
Review at Book Nerd
Monday, November 3
Review at Historical Romance Lover
Tuesday, November 4
Review at Book Marks the Spot
Wednesday, November 5
Review at Oh, For the Hook of a Book!
Guest Post at Boom Baby Reviews
Thursday, November 6
Guest Post at SOS Aloha
Friday, November 7
Review at Journey with Books
Spotlight at CelticLady’s Reviews
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HF Virtual Book Tours Review: Enchantress by Maggie Anton

Title: Enchantress
Author: Maggie Anton
Format: Paperback
Publisher: Plume
Publish Date: September 2, 2014
Source: HF Virtual Book Tours






What's the Story?:

From Goodreads.com: "One of the most powerful practitioners of these mysterious arts is Rav Hisda’s daughter, whose innate awareness allows her to possess the skills men lack. With her husband, Rava--whose arcane knowledge of the secret Torah enables him to create a "man” out of earth and to resurrect another rabbi from death--the two brave an evil sorceress, Ashmedai the Demon King, and even the Angel of Death in their quest to safeguard their people, even while putting their romance at risk. "

My Two Cents:

"Enchantress" is the story of Hisdadukh, a young woman with powers that verge on the magical. It is the 4th century and Hisdadukh's world is filled with magic and mystery. This is the second book in the Rav Hisda's Daughter series but is very much a standalone book (I actually have not had a chance to read the first book in the series myself). Once this book hits its stride, it is a fascinating look at Jewish and Talmudic lore with memorable characters and a greatly detailed setting.

I did end up enjoying this story but it did take me a little while to get there. Admittedly I am not well-versed in Jewish mysticism at all so I found myself looking up a lot of the things that the characters discuss in the book. While I learned a lot, it did take me out of the story a lot. I understand that the line between showing and telling can be quite difficult. However, you can definitely tell just how much time and effort the author put into her research, which historical fiction lovers will definitely appreciate.

As the story went on and I got a little more up to speed on things, I was totally engaged in the love story between Hisdadukh and Rava. Their story together is incredibly interesting and kept me reading. Rava is also a practitioner of mysticism and it was really interesting to see how this magic brings our main characters together.

If you have read my blog at all, you all probably know that I love armchair traveling through books. If I can't actually hop a flight and go somewhere, I love reading books that take place in faraway lands. The world building in this book was good. Again, the research that the author did shines through in showing us what is was like to live in 4th century Babylonia. I definitely enjoyed this aspect!






Follow the Rest of the Tour:


Monday, October 6
Review at Unshelfish
Review at Book Drunkard
Tuesday, October 7
Review at Ageless Pages Reviews
Wednesday, October 8
Review at A Dream Within a Dream
Thursday, October 8
Guest Post at Bookish
Friday, October 9
Guest Post & Giveaway at Passages to the Past
Monday, October 13
Review at Book Lovers Paradise
Tuesday, October 14
Spotlight at leeanna.me
Spotlight & Giveaway at Words and Peace
Wednesday, October 15
Review at Based on a True Story
Thursday, October 16
Review at Mari Reads
Tuesday, October 21
Review at History From A Woman’s Perspective
Spotlight at CelticLady’s Reviews
Wednesday, October 22
Guest Post at History From A Woman’s Perspective
Thursday, October 23
Spotlight at A Book Geek
Friday, October 24
Review at Beth’s Book Reviews
Interview at Mina’s Bookshelf
Saturday, October 25
Review & Interview at A Cup of Tea & A Big Book
Monday, October 27
Review at TeacherWriter
Tuesday, October 28
Review at My Book Addiction and More
Spotlight at Historical Tapestry
Wednesday, October 29
Review at A Bookish Affair
Thursday, October 30
Review at Book Nerd
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TLC Book Tours Review: The Lost Tribe of Coney Island by Claire Prentice

Title: The Lost Tribe of Coney Island
Author: Claire Prentice
Format: Paperback
Publisher: New Harvest
Publish Date: October 14, 2014
Source: TLC Book Tours






What's the Story?:

From Goodreads.com: "The Lost Tribe of Coney Island unearths the forgotten story of the Igorrotes, a group of “headhunting, dog-eating savages” from the Philippines, who were transported to New York in 1905 to appear as “human exhibits” alongside the freaks and curiosities at Coney Island’s Luna Park. Millions of fair-goers delighted in their tribal dances and rituals, near-nudity, tattoos, and stories of headhunting.

Journalist Claire Prentice, who has spent years researching the topic, brings the story to life with her fluid prose and vivid descriptions. The book boasts a colorful cast of characters, including the disgraced lieutenant turned huckster Truman K. Hunt; his Filipino interpreter, Julio Balinag; the theme park impresarios behind Luna Park, Fred Thompson and Elmer “Skip” Dundy; and Dogmena, a beautiful girl who became a favorite with New York’s social elite. The Lost Tribe of Coney Island  is a fascinating social history and a tale of adventure, culture-clash, and the American dream."


My Two Cents:

"The Lost Tribe of Coney Island" is a fascinating, non-fiction tale about Truman K. Hunt, a man who has designs on making a name for himself during the early 1900s. Hunt sees a great opportunity during his travels to the Philippines to bring back some of the natives and put them on display in an amusement park in Coney Island (seriously!). He promises these people a lot in order to get them to go with him. Once they get to the United States, all bets are off and Hunt realizes that he has a ton of power over them and exploits them. To modern day readers, the idea of a "human zoo" is grotesque but unfortunately during the time that this book takes place, the practice was all too prevalent in our country.

The author tracks the plight of these people with great detail, which made for a very engaging read. I found myself stunned by what the poor Filipinos had to go through. First, they get to Coney Island and are forced to build their own village display where they will live and essentially be trapped while they are there! The particular tribe that Hunt brought people from happened to have a couple habits that the amusement park tourists found fascinating such as head hunting and dog eating. Hunt made sure to cash in on these aspects even if it meant stretching the truth a little bit (not a nice guy at all).

The writing of the book was really good. It reminded me a lot of books such as Erik Larson's "Devil in the White City" and Charlene Mires' "Capital of the World," because like those two books, this book is thoroughly engaging non-fiction that often felt like fiction! I had to keep reading parts out loud to my husband just because some of the things that happen to the Filipinos were so unbelievable! Overall, I definitely enjoyed this book!


 

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

HF Virtual Book Tours Interview and Giveaway: Brandy Purdy, Author of The Ripper's Wife

I am very excited to welcome Brandy Purdy here to A Bookish Affair today!


1. You've written several books at this point. Has your writing process changed at all? Has it gotten easier or harder?

Every book is different in minor ways, but the same in major ways; I hope that makes sense. I always do a lot of research and take notes and give a lot of thought to the characters and look for fresh or different ways to tell the story, but things always happen during the creative process to surprise me. My writing process is still the same, I write at night into the wee hours of the morning, and must have music or a familiar movie on in the background so my Tinnitus (ringing ears) doesn’t drive me insane. It’s outside influences that tend to change and make things difficult. I have always written late at night because there are just too many distractions and interruptions during the day. It never fails, every single time I try to write during the day something happens to remind me why this just doesn’t work for me. So anything that seriously disrupts my sleeping and working schedules has a huge impact. The only other major obstacle is my old nemesis Treatment Resistant Depression. I was very lucky while writing The Ripper’s Wife, even though it is a very dark book, I went through a long period of stability, I was doing and feeling better than I had in years, but…let’s just say the demon has reared it’s ugly head again, so there’s another battle to fight. But I keep on.

2. What inspired you to write about Jack the Ripper?

Reading the actual Ripper Diary, it was first published in 1993 in a book by Shirley Harrison and has been controversial ever since. The contents and physical components, like the paper and ink, have been endlessly debated since it came to light, and no one seems to be able to agree if it is authentic or a hoax. But regardless of all that, when I was reading it for the first time, I couldn’t help thinking “this would make a great novel, and I want to be the one to write it.” Besides that, I have been interested in Jack the Ripper most of my life. In 1988, the 100th anniversary of the murders, my mother gave me a paperback book, The Complete Jack the Ripper by Donald Rumbelow, and ever since I’ve been hooked.

3.There is still a lot of mystery that surrounds the case of Jack the Ripper. How did you make the decision of what information to use and what not to use in this novel?

I wanted to be true to the story told in the actual Ripper Diary and the known details of the Maybricks' lives. But the actual Ripper Diary is rather terse and fragmented at times, it’s very strong on rage but short on story, and there are a lot of attempts at rhymes and poetry, and trust me, you don’t want me to try my hand at poetry so be very glad I didn’t go there. The way the actual diary is written, without knowing more about the Maybricks and the Ripper murders it doesn’t always make sense to a casual reader, so I wanted to make it more readable, to try to let the reader walk alongside the Ripper and see how the wheels of his mind are turning, not just see the evidence of his rage, but why he’s feeling it. As for other details, I’ve read so many books on Jack the Ripper in my life, I don’t think I really ever stopped and debated what to put in and leave out, I just did it. But it was important to me to make the victims real, to give a glimpse of their personalities, and how they ended up walking the streets of Whitechapel. In the Jack the Ripper saga sometimes it feels like the killer’s identity matters more than the victims, so, even if it is in fiction, I wanted to honor them by showing them as real people.

4.Who was your favorite character in this book?

Now that’s a hard question. One early reviewer said that none of the main characters were particularly likeable, and a part of me has to agree. But these were real people, sometimes placed in difficult situations that people today might not find themselves in, or at least would have had more options to free themselves from if they did. Victorian England was a very different place. I will say writing the Ripper diary portions were the hardest part, his hatred and rage and violence are so far removed from me that I enjoyed the challenge, of pushing myself to do it, to get inside his head and make it real. I did enjoy writing Florie, she really allowed me to do what I intended, to show a marriage that begins as a fairytale turned into one of the worst nightmares you can imagine, I wanted to write a book that begins like a romance novel, so you wonder if you’ve picked up the wrong book because maybe it’s not what you’re expecting, and then turn it into a horror story, like Bluebeard’s wife opening his forbidden chamber and discovering all the evil inside. Florie begins as this beautiful, naïve teenager, people compare her to Henry James’s heroine Daisy Miller,  she’s so open and trusting, yet she’s doomed to blindness, and in denial for so much of the story, sometimes she just floats along like a flower thrown in a stream. Her eyes are open yet you keep waiting for her to wake up and take some action, to make things better for herself and her children, but she can’t even leave her husband or fire that awful nanny or order her husband’s ex-fiancée out of the house. She’s trapped by social conventions and herself. So I can fully understand why some modern readers may find her frustrating and want to slap or shake her.


5. If you could bring three fictional characters or historical figures with you to a deserted island, who would you bring and why?

Another hard one. You didn’t tell me how long we have to stay on the island. But ok, I’ll take silent film actor Bobby Harron, because I’m working on a biography of him, and since we have similar shy personalities I don’t think we’d get on each other’s nerves too much, and Mario Lanza, because he has the most beautiful voice I ever heard and I often listen to him while I’m working, and Thomas Andrews, the designer of the Titanic, I’ve always liked him, I think he’d be interesting to talk to, and if you’re stranded on a deserted island it seems sensible to have an experienced shipbuilder along just in case you need him. 

Giveaway:

Want to win a paperback of The Ripper's Wife? You can win a copy by filling out the Rafflecopter form below (U.S. only)! 


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Follow the Rest of the Tour:

Monday, October 27
Review at A Bookish Affair
Tuesday, October 28
Review & Giveaway at Historical Fiction Obsession
Interview & Giveaway at A Bookish Affair
Wednesday, October 29
Review at Kinx’s Book Nook
Review at The Maiden’s Court
Thursday, October 30
Review at Book of Secrets
Friday, October 31
Review at WTF Are You Reading?
Feature at Passages to the Past
Monday, November 3
Review at A Chick Who Reads
Interview & Giveaway at Mina’s Bookshelf
Tuesday, November 4
Review at 100 Pages a Day – Stephanie’s Book reviews
Interview at A Chick Who Reads
Wednesday, November 5
Review at JulzReads
Thursday, November 6
Review at History & Women
Friday, November 7
Review at A Book Geek
Monday, November 10
Review at CelticLady’s Reviews
Tuesday, November 11
Review & Giveaway at Historical Tapestry
Wednesday, November 12
Review & Giveaway at Broken Teepee
Thursday, November 13
Review at A Bibliotaph’s Reviews
Friday, November 14
Review at Girl Lost in a Book
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Monday, October 27, 2014

HF Virtual Book Tours Review: The Ripper's Wife by Brandy Purdy

Title: The Ripper's Wife
Author: Brandy Purdy
Format: ARC
Publisher: Kensington
Publish Date: October 28, 2014
Source: HF Virtual Book Tours






What's the Story?:

From Goodreads.com: "It begins as a fairytale romance-a shipboard meeting in 1880 between vivacious Southern belle Florence Chandler and handsome English cotton broker James Maybrick. Courtship and a lavish wedding soon follow, and the couple settles into an affluent Liverpool suburb.

From the first, their marriage is doomed by lies. Florie, hardly the heiress her scheming mother portrayed, is treated as an outsider by fashionable English society. James's secrets are infinitely darker-he has a mistress, an arsenic addiction, and a vicious temper. But Florie has no inkling of her husband's depravity until she discovers his diary-and in it, a litany of bloody deeds..."


My Two Cents:

 "The Ripper's Wife" is the latest release from Brandy Purdy. In this book, she tackles the one of the great historical mysteries that still fascinates so many people today: the murders of Jack the Ripper. The author based this story on some writings discovered just in the recent decades that may point to the identity of the infamous Jack the Ripper.  In these writings, Jack is outed as James Maybrick, a merchant man who marries a beautiful American named Florence. The story is told from both Florence's and James' point of view, which I thought really added a lot of interest to the story!

The author creates a very plausible story in which James is driven to pure madness by the thought of his wife cheating on him. This (and some other scary personality flaws), lead him to commit the Jack the Ripper murders. We get to see Florence's thoughts as she begins to piece together that the wonderful man that she thinks she has married is really a cold-hearted, psychopath. There are a lot of things that begin to cause her to believe that he is not exactly the fine upstanding gentlemen she was led to believe he was when she first got married. We also get to see James' take on how he is able to convince himself that what he is doing by murdering prostitutes is really okay. I love that we got to see both sides of the story! It definitely made it interesting to see the story from the perspective of both Florence and from James himself, much more interesting that seeing only one perspective.

I really enjoyed the writing of this book. You can tell the author put a lot of time into really developing a distinct voice for both Florence and for James. I like the way that she was able to include a lot of historical elements that really made the story pop. There is still a lot of debate as to whether or not James Maybrick was really Jack the Ripper. However, the author makes it very compelling case within the story that James and Jack are one in the same and definitely makes for very unique perspective.

Some of the story is pretty graphic but then again these are the Jack the Ripper murders we are talking about so everything that the author has included really fits with the story and lends a very eerie feel to this book, perfect reading for the week of Halloween. Overall, I really enjoyed this creepy story and historical fiction lovers who want to be a little bit scared while reading a historical novel will also enjoy this pick.






Follow the Rest of the Tour:


Monday, October 27
Review at A Bookish Affair
Tuesday, October 28
Review & Giveaway at Historical Fiction Obsession
Interview & Giveaway at A Bookish Affair
Wednesday, October 29
Review at Kinx’s Book Nook
Review at The Maiden’s Court
Thursday, October 30
Review at Book of Secrets
Friday, October 31
Review at WTF Are You Reading?
Feature at Passages to the Past
Monday, November 3
Review at A Chick Who Reads
Interview & Giveaway at Mina’s Bookshelf
Tuesday, November 4
Review at 100 Pages a Day – Stephanie’s Book reviews
Interview at A Chick Who Reads
Wednesday, November 5
Review at JulzReads
Thursday, November 6
Review at History & Women
Friday, November 7
Review at A Book Geek
Monday, November 10
Review at CelticLady’s Reviews
Tuesday, November 11
Review & Giveaway at Historical Tapestry
Wednesday, November 12
Review & Giveaway at Broken Teepee
Thursday, November 13
Review at A Bibliotaph’s Reviews
Friday, November 14
Review at Girl Lost in a Book
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Friday, October 24, 2014

HF Virtual Book Tours Review and Giveaway: Floats The Dark Shadow by Yves Fey

Title: Floats The Dark Shadow
Author: Yves Fey
Format: Paperback
Publisher: Bearcat Press
Publish Date: August 2012
Source: HF Virtual Book Tours






What's the Story?:

From Goodreads.com: "Young American painter Theodora Faraday struggles to become an artist in Belle Époque Paris. She's tasted the champagne of success, illustrating poems for the Revenants, a group of poets led by her adored cousin, Averill. When children she knows vanish mysteriously, Theo confronts Inspecteur Michel Devaux who suspects the Revenants are involved. Theo refuses to believe the killer could be a friend-could be the man she loves. Classic detection and occult revelation lead Michel and Theo through the dark underbelly of Paris, from catacombs to asylums, to the obscene ritual of a Black Mass. Following the maze of clues they discover the murderer believes he is the reincarnation of the most evil serial killer in the history of France-Gilles de Rais. Once Joan of Arc's lieutenant, after her death he plunged into an orgy of evil. The Church burned him at the stake for heresy, sorcery, and the depraved murder of hundreds of peasant children. Whether deranged mind or demonic passion incite him, the killer must be found before he strikes again."

My Two Cents:

This book's title, "Floats the Dark Shadow," itself makes this book sound dark and it is! The book is set in Paris during the Belle Epoque, which is an exciting and dangerous place. In the story, our main characters, Michel and young American painter Theodora, are faced with solving a series of gruesome crimes. The killer is somebody who fancies himself to be the reincarnation of one of the most famous and dangerous serial killers ever. This book is definitely dark and definitely not for the faint of heart but if you're looking for something exciting that will keep you turning the pages, this just may be a perfect pick so close to Halloween!

While this book took me a little bit of time to get into, it picks up very quickly as Theodora finds herself on the front lines with this most dangerous killer. I thought that it was a really interesting idea that the killer believes himself to be a reincarnation of one of Joan of Arc's lieutenants gone bad. It definitely made for an intriguing storyline!

This book was definitely suspenseful and definitely had a good deal of mystery going on! I liked how the author was able to keep us guessing with how our heroes were going to solve the crime. This definitely kept me on my toes! I also really liked how Paris itself almost becomes a character in this book. This Paris is not the city of lights, it is more like this idea of darkness and depravity. Overall, I ended up really enjoying this book.





Giveaway:

One lucky winner will win a copy (ebook or paperback) of this book (U.S. only)! Just fill out the Rafflecopter form below!:


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Thursday, October 23, 2014

TLC Book Tours Review: How to Build a Girl by Caitlin Moran

Title: How to Build a Girl
Author: Caitlin Moran
Format: ARC
Publisher: Harper
Publish Date: September 23, 2014
Source: TLC Book Tours






What's the Story?:

From Goodreads.com: "What do you do in your teenage years when you realize what your parents taught you wasn't enough? You must go out and find books and poetry and pop songs and bad heroes—and build yourself.

It's 1990. Johanna Morrigan, fourteen, has shamed herself so badly on local TV that she decides that there's no point in being Johanna anymore and reinvents herself as Dolly Wilde—fast-talking, hard-drinking gothic hero and full-time Lady Sex Adventurer. She will save her poverty-stricken Bohemian family by becoming a writer—like Jo in Little Women, or the Brontës—but without the dying-young bit.

By sixteen, she's smoking cigarettes, getting drunk, and working for a music paper. She's writing pornographic letters to rock stars, having all the kinds of sex with all the kinds of men, and eviscerating bands in reviews of 600 words or less.

But what happens when Johanna realizes she's built Dolly with a fatal flaw? Is a box full of records, a wall full of posters, and a head full of paperbacks enough to build a girl after all?"


My Two Cents:

In "How to Build a Girl," we meet Johanna, a teenaged girl who lives in a too small house with a too big family. She is also about as awkward (endearingly so, but awkward nontheless) as one can get. Johanna wants to get away from it all and start living her grown-up life (even if she doesn't exactly know what that looks like). Since she is still too young to leave the house, she gets in with a local music magazine and starts writing for them. Hilarity ensues!

After reading Caitlin Moran's autobiographical books "How to be a Woman" and "Moranthology," I knew that I needed to get my hands on this book so see what Moran's fiction was like. Well, the fiction feels very much like the non-fiction and I definitely enjoyed it. "How to Build a Girl" does feel very similar and a lot of the scenarios in the book are similar. But when it comes down to it, what worked in the non-fiction books, works here and makes for an entertaining read!

The book is told from Johanna's perspective and she has a very bright and funny voice. There were definitely several parts in the book where I was trying to control my laughing out loud while on the metro (a mark of a good story)! I fell for Johanna, who feels quite similar to Caitlin in a lot of ways. If you already know Moran's writing, you will probably enjoy this book. If you've wanted to try her books out, this is a fitting one to do that with! I would love to see Moran branch out more with her fiction in the future!


 

Review: The Queen Of Four Kingdoms by Princess Michael of Kent

Title: The Queen Of Four Kingdoms
Author: Princess Michael of Kent
Format: ARC
Publisher: Beaufort
Publish Date: September 2014
Source: I received a copy from the PR; however, this did not affect my review.





 What's the Story?:

From Goodreads.com: "At the age of nineteen, Yolande of Aragon is sent away from her family, her friends, and everything she knows, to marry the young Duke of Anjou, King Charles VI's first cousin. Their marriage has been arranged to form an alliance between the previously warring kingdoms of Aragon and Anjou, and is politically fraught in a time of great danger and unrest. Yet the union between Yolande and Louis becomes not only a great love story, but also sets in motion events which will change the course of history.

As Louis spends more and more time and money fighting in Italy for his claim to the Kingdom of Naples, Yolande is left alone with their six children to govern their lands. But through her charm, fierce intelligence and the clever use of her spies, she becomes the saviour of not just her kingdoms but also of France."


My Two Cents:

"The Queen of Four Kingdoms" is a historical fiction look at Yolande of Aragon, who, like many aristocratic women of her age is sent off to become the consort to Louis, the Duke of Anjou. Luckily for Yolande, her match actually becomes a great love. Unlike many other women of the time, Yolande actually rules her lands as the Duke keeps going to Italy in order to fight tooth and nail for the Kingdom of Naples. This book is all about how Yolande copes with balancing family (she and the Duke have a lot of children) and duty. The Kingdoms of Anjou and Aragon seem to be only mildly assuaged by Yolande and the Duke's match.

In this book, you have a fabulous main character to read about. Yolande definitely kept me reading. I really enjoyed this story. Yolande is a really interesting figure and I did not know much about her. I am not certain as to whether or not that I've read much about her in historical fiction before. I really liked reading about everything she was able to do while her husband was away. It was so interesting to me how much power she was able to have and how she was able to walk the line between caring for her children and ruling a kingdom. I also really liked the appearance of Jeanne d'Arc in this book. She is one of my favorite historical figures to read about. What a life! It was really interesting to see Yolande's take on what Jeanne did and was able to accomplish and also how her life was ended.

Overall, the writing of this book is really good. I found it enjoyable. The writing style is interesting. The book was written in third person present tense. I think I probably say this every time I read a book in that tense (it is just so different to me) but, it did take me awhile to get used to and drew my attention away at first. Slowly I warmed up to it and it really helped me to get into the story eventually. It was an interesting choice but in the end, I think that the author succeeded.

I would be remiss if I didn't draw attention to the author. The author is Princess Michael of Kent, the wife of Queen Elizabeth II's cousin. She also came from an aristocratic family. This gives her a very unique resume. Prior to this, she had written a couple books and the foreword in this book makes it sound like she will write more (Yay!).


  



Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Giveaway: Here and Again by Nicole R. Dickson

Today, I am excited to be able to give away a copy of "Here and Again" by Nicole R. Dickson. Check out my review here! Just fill out the Rafflecopter form below. This giveaway is open to U.S. residents only.





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Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Blog Tour Review and Giveaway: Loop by Karen Akins

Title: Loop
Author: Karen Akins
Format: Ebook
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
Publish Date: October 21, 2014
Source: I receive a copy from the publisher; however, this did not affect my review.



What's the Story?:

From Goodreads.com: "At a school where Quantum Paradox 101 is a required course and history field trips are literal, sixteen year-old time traveler Bree Bennis excels…at screwing up.

After Bree botches a solo midterm to the 21st century by accidentally taking a boy hostage (a teensy snafu), she stands to lose her scholarship. But when Bree sneaks back to talk the kid into keeping his yap shut, she doesn’t go back far enough. The boy, Finn, now three years older and hot as a solar flare, is convinced he’s in love with Bree, or rather, a future version of her that doesn’t think he’s a complete pain in the arse. To make matters worse, she inadvertently transports him back to the 23rd century with her.

Once home, Bree discovers that a recent rash of accidents at her school are anything but accidental. Someone is attacking time travelers. As Bree and her temporal tagalong uncover seemingly unconnected clues—a broken bracelet, a missing data file, the art heist of the millennium—that lead to the person responsible, she alone has the knowledge to piece the puzzle together. Knowledge only one other person has. Her future self.

But when those closest to her become the next victims, Bree realizes the attacker is willing to do anything to stop her. In the past, present, or future."

My Two Cents:

In "Loop," Bree is a time traveler (or at least she is learning how to be a good time traveler) from the 23rd century. She gets into a bad situation where she kind of, sort of, accidentally (of course!) brings a 21st century boy with her back to the 23rd century. This is a huge no-no and Bree knows that she is going to be in big trouble. That is nothing compared to the series of events that is set off once she gets back to her own time. Loop is the first in a planned YA sci-fi series that engaged me from the beginning!

Bree is a great character and was tons of fun to read about. She is independent and is never afraid to stand up for the things that she holds dear. Even more endearingly, she is an absolute mess and botching things seems to be her job at some points of the book. I loved that the story was told from her perspective as it really allowed you to get deeply into the book. I also really liked the story between her and Finn. It was so much fun to read about!

World building is a huge factor for me in any sci-fi book and this book definitely has it in spades. I loved how the author was able to create a world where time travel simply seems like a fact. I loved all of the detail about what Bree's 23rd century world is like and what she thinks about the 21st century. All of the detail really pulled me in.

I was very excited to see that Goodreads already has a sequel to this book listed. I was very sad to see that said sequel doesn't come out until 2015... sigh. Overall, this was a great story with great world building!


Giveaway:

You could win a copy of Loop (US only)! Just fill out the Rafflecopter form below!

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Monday, October 20, 2014

BookSparks Fall Reading Challenge Review: Rock Angel by Jeanne Bogino

Title: Rock Angel
Author: Jeanne Bogino
Format: Paperback
Publisher: Prashanti Press LLC.
Publish Date: September 16, 2014
Source: BookSparks Fall Reading Challenge






What's the Story?:

From Goodreads.com: "Shan is young, beautiful, talented, and addicted to heroin in Rock Angel, a novel that follows her meteoric rise to guitar goddess stardom in the 90’s. She is discovered in New York by a handsome, arrogant musical genius named Quinn, and sparks fly between them when he hires her as lead guitarist of his band. Although Quinn is accustomed to bedding a different groupie every night, he can’t ignore his deepening feelings for his new band mate. From gritty Greenwich Village clubs to L.A.’s Troubadour; gigging and touring the country to the cover of Rolling Stone, Rock Angel is infused with the passionate music and intense sexual chemistry of Shan and Quinn. Shan must work out her personal demons and learn to trust Quinn enough to love him, but still remain true to the music that has always been her salvation."

My Two Cents:

In "Rock Angel," Shan is a teenager who is running away from her difficult family life and goes to New York where she's discovered by Quinn, a full-fledged rockstar. At first Shan and Quinn don't exactly get along. She thinks that Quinn is a control freak and Quinn thinks that Shan is much too young to know what's good for her. All of this is complicated by Shan's addiction to heroin. This is a story of music, passion, and love set during their rollicking 90s.

In a lot of ways, this book feels very realistic. I really liked how the author was able to create characters who seemed like they could've been real. Shan is definitely a broken character. She, as I mentioned before, is ready to get away from a horrible family life and getting herself into a lot of trouble along the way. Quinn is the quintessential brooding musician who is just a little stuck on himself and stuck on his music. These two very different people come together to form a very interesting relationship, that I loved watching grow. The book covers a few years so we really get to see a lot of changes firsthand.

Being someone who will not musically talented myself but enjoys music all the same, I really enjoyed the musical aspect of this book. The author did a really good job of capturing the changing landscape of rock music during the 1990s. I loved reading about how the band in the book gets ready to tour and all of the places they play in as well as the general atmosphere that they make their music in.

The writing of the book was pretty good. There were a couple parts that were a bit stiff but overall, I thought this was a good read on a volatile relationship between two very talented musicians.






 

Friday, October 17, 2014

HF Virtual Book Tours Interview and Giveaway: Deanna Raybourn, Author of Night of a Thousand Stars

Today, I am really excited to welcome Deanna Raybourn to A Bookish Affair!


  1. How did you come up with the idea for "Night of a Thousand Stars?" 
    The book is loosely connected to my previous novel, CITY OF JASMINE. I set up a story arc in that book that left a few threads untied, so this was my opportunity to weave them in. Characters that had only been alluded do in the first book took center stage in this one, and there is even a cameo by one of JASMINE’s main characters to link them more tightly together. 

  2. What was your research process like for this book? What is the most interesting or strange thing you found out during your research? 

    The research was pretty straightforward since I had just set a book in Damascus. I had read mountains of information about the area during and after WWI, Lawrence of Arabia, Lady Hester Stanhope, Gertrude Bell, Jane Digby, etc. so I was able to use all of that in this book as well—always a luxury! I plowed through my notes again to refresh my memory and did some more intense digging about the Syrian countryside to get the details right. The most fun was probably the time I spent immersed in Circassian native dress. If I could, I’d wear it every day—it’s unspeakably gorgeous. I particularly loved the passage I found describing how a Circassian bridegroom uses the tip of his knife to cut his bride free from her corset on their wedding night!

  3. Who is your favorite character in this book and why? 

    I love Sebastian unreservedly, and writing Poppy was just complete joy. She’s bright and intrepid, two of my favorite qualities in a character, and I think that’s apparent from the very first page when she literally runs away from her chance at a brilliant society match. But my favorite character in this book is probably Masterman. I love her hidden depths! She was great fun to write, and I left a lot of her secrets unrevealed, keeping her a little mysterious. She’s brilliant and acerbic and unexpected. 

  4. You've written many books now. Have you found your process has changed at all? Has writing gotten easier or harder? 

    My process has essentially turned on its head. I used to write very long first drafts that included every detail and then whittle them down. I’ve since learned to write a much shorter first draft and embellish it as I revise. It saves an almost incalculable amount of time to insert brackets with a note about what I want to include and keep forging ahead. Then I know exactly which bits of information to go in search of, where I need to expand a conversation, or do a better job of setting a scene. 

  5. If you could choose any three fictional characters or historical figures to bring with you to a deserted island, who would you bring and why?  

          I would choose doomed queens—Anne Boleyn, Catherine Howard, and Marie Antoinette.  They didn’t have a chance to live out their lives, so they probably deserve a little fun. 


Giveaway:

You have a chance to win an ebook copy of "Night of a Thousand Stars" (open internationally).

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