Monday, June 30, 2014

HF Virtual Book Tours Review: Love and Treasure by Ayelet Waldman

Title: Love and Treasure
Author: Ayelet Waldman
Format: Hardcover
Publisher: Knopf
Publish Date: April 1, 2014
Source: HF Virtual Book Tours

Why You're Reading This Book:

  • You're a historical fiction fan.
  • You like stories about family secrets.
  • You like memorable characters.
What's the Story?:

From "In 1945 on the outskirts of Salzburg, victorious American soldiers capture a train filled with unspeakable riches: piles of fine gold watches; mountains of fur coats; crates filled with wedding rings, silver picture frames, family heirlooms, and Shabbat candlesticks passed down through generations. Jack Wiseman, a tough, smart New York Jew, is the lieutenant charged with guarding this treasure—a responsibility that grows more complicated when he meets Ilona, a fierce, beautiful Hungarian who has lost everything in the ravages of the Holocaust. Seventy years later, amid the shadowy world of art dealers who profit off the sins of previous generations, Jack gives a necklace to his granddaughter, Natalie Stein, and charges her with searching for an unknown woman—a woman whose portrait and fate come to haunt Natalie, a woman whose secret may help Natalie to understand the guilt her grandfather will take to his grave and to find a way out of the mess she has made of her own life.

A story of brilliantly drawn characters—a suave and shady art historian, a delusive and infatuated Freudian, a family of singing circus dwarfs fallen into the clutches of Josef Mengele, and desperate lovers facing choices that will tear them apart—Love and Treasure is Ayelet Waldman’s finest novel to date: a sad, funny, richly detailed work that poses hard questions about the value of precious things in a time when life itself has no value, and about the slenderest of chains that can bind us to the griefs and passions of the past."

My Two Cents:

"Love and Treasure" is really a story about how we as humans cope when things seem incredibly hopeless. It is also the story of priorities and whether or not those things that we treasure are really all that meaningful in the face of danger. I had been wanting to try some of Waldman's books for awhile and so I was happy to be a part of this tour. This was a great and powerful book to start with.

The book opens on Jack, an old man, and his beloved granddaughter. Jack is convinced that she worries much too much about him as he is dying from cancer. He has one request for her, which is to find the owner of a necklace with mysterious beginnings. Natalie, the granddaughter, takes her job very seriously and is determined to put together the pieces of her grandfather's mystery; she only hopes that she can do it in time! The story is told from both the past and the present perspectives and when they meet, it makes for a fantastic collision that I really enjoyed reading.

I really enjoy reading both fiction and non-fiction about World War II and I love when I find books that shed new perspectives on events during that war. I hadn't read much about the Hungarian Gold Train and found the historical details that Waldman wove into this book about that to be absolutely fascinating. You can see what so many people during that time were going through with getting all of their worldly possessions taken away. It is hard to imagine how they must have felt during that time period.

This book had a lot of drama and nice pacing that kept me wanting to read more about Jack's time over in Europe during World War II. There is mystery and romance alongside a healthy dose of drama and intrigue throughout the book. This book only made me more anxious to read more by Waldman in the future!

Follow the Rest of the Tour:
Tuesday, May 27
Review at Kinx’s Book Nook
Wednesday, May 28
Guest Post at Passion for Novels
Thursday, May 29
Review at Mari Reads
Review at A Bibliotaph’s Reviews
Friday, May 30
Review at She Reads Novels
Review at Dianne Ascroft’s Blog
Monday, June 2
Review at Flashlight Commentary
Thursday, June 5
Review at Oh, For the Hook of a Book
Friday, June 6
Interview at Oh, For the Hook of a Book
Monday, June 9
Review at Closed the Cover
Tuesday, June 10
Interview at Closed the Cover
Wednesday, June 11
Review at A Bookish Girl
Review at Peeking Between the Pages
Friday, June 13
Review at Ageless Pages Reviews
Monday, June 16
Review at So Many Books, So Little Time
Guest Post at Historical Fiction Connection
Wednesday, June 18
Spotlight at Let Them Read Books
Thursday, June 19
Review at Book Nerd
Friday, June 20
Spotlight at Curling Up with a Good Book
Monday, June 23
Review at 100 Pages a Day
Tuesday, June 24
Review & Giveaway at Luxury Reading
Wednesday, June 25
Review at Lit Nerd
Thursday, June 26
Review at The Little Reader Library
Friday, June 27
Review at Man of la Book
Monday, June 30
Review at A Bookish Affair
Review at Just One More Chapter
Interview at Layered Pages
Tuesday, July 1
Interview at Jorie Loves a Story
Wednesday, July 2
Review at From L.A. to LA
Review at Mina’s Bookshelf
Thursday, July 3
Review at Jorie Loves a Story
Review at Seaside Book Corner
Review at CelticLady’s Reviews
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Follow the Rest of the Tour:


Friday, June 27, 2014

Review: Longbourn by Jo Baker

Title: Longbourn
Author: Jo Baker
Format: Hardcover
Publisher: Knopf
Publish Date: October 8, 2013
Source: Library

What's the Story?:

From "In this irresistibly imagined belowstairs answer to Pride and Prejudice, the servants take center stage. Sarah, the orphaned housemaid, spends her days scrubbing the laundry, polishing the floors, and emptying the chamber pots for the Bennet household. But there is just as much romance, heartbreak, and intrigue downstairs at Longbourn as there is upstairs. When a mysterious new footman arrives, the orderly realm of the servants’ hall threatens to be completely, perhaps irrevocably, upended.

Jo Baker dares to take us beyond the drawing rooms of Jane Austen’s classic—into the often overlooked domain of the stern housekeeper and the starry-eyed kitchen maid, into the gritty daily particulars faced by the lower classes in Regency England during the Napoleonic Wars—and, in doing so, creates a vivid, fascinating, fully realized world that is wholly her own. "

My Two Cents:

If Jane Austen's "Pride and Prejudice" is the "upstairs" side of the story, then "Longbourn" is the "downstairs" side of the story. "Longbourn" is the story of the servants of the Bennett family. This book is definitely a treat for those that are "Pride and Prejudice" fans like I am. It is helpful to have read "Pride and Prejudice" prior to reading this book as there is not really a re-hash of what happened in that book and you may be a little lost.

This book covers both the servants' lives prior to the start of "Pride and Prejudice" and after the first book ends. We get to know these characters, who were largely unknown to us in Austen's original. Some of them barely appeared and some didn't have names. Baker takes these characters and shows us their hopes, fears, and loves. I loved reading about these characters. You get a taste of the familiar story from "Pride and Prejudice" mixed with a brand new story. In the Author's Note, Baker mentions how closely she looked at "Pride and Prejudice" to inform "Longbourn." She even made it so meals line up between the two books. This attention to detail makes this book really a treat.

I really liked the character of Sarah. As Elizabeth is falling for her Mr. Darcy, Sarah is falling in love herself. It was so interesting to see the juxtaposition between Elizabeth's romance and Sarah's romance with a freed slave. 

Thursday, June 26, 2014

#SRC2014 Review: The Walk-In Closet by Abdi Nazemian

Title: The Walk-In Closet
Author: Abdi Nazemian
Format: Paperback
Publish Date: June 3, 2014
Source: BookSparks

What's the Story?:

From "Kara Walker has never found much glamour in her own life, especially not when compared to the life of her best friend Bobby Ebadi. Bobby, along with his sophisticated parents Leila and Hossein, is everything Kara always wanted to be. The trio provides the perfect antidote to what Kara views as the more mundane problems of her girlfriends and her divorced parents. And so when the Ebadis assume that Kara is Bobby’s girlfriend, she willingly steps into the role. She enjoys the perks of life in this closet, not only Leila’s designer hand-me-downs and free rent, but also the excitement of living life as an Ebadi.

As Kara’s 30th birthday approaches, Leila and Hossein up the pressure. They are ready for Kara to assume the mantle of the next Mrs. Ebadi, and Bobby seems prepared to give them what they want: the illusion of a traditional home and grandchildren. How far will Kara be willing to go? And will she be willing to pull the Persian rug out from under them when she discovers that her own secret is just one of many lurking inside the Ebadi closet?"

My Two Cents:

In "The Walk In Closet," Kara has been intrigued by the Ebadi family for a long time. She loves them and wants nothing more than to please them that she is willing to pretend that she is the serious girlfriend of their son, who is gay. When Kara accidentally discovers that there may be more family secrets there, she is torn between protecting the family she loves and making sure that the secret stays hidden.

This book has a little bit of everything for a lot of kinds of readers. There is an interesting storyline, spurts of comedy, and a fascinating setting (Los Angeles in the Persian community also known as Tehrangeles). Though for me, the most interesting aspect of this book was really the characters. The author writes them in such a way that they stay really interesting as they change throughout the book. This book is filled with flawed characters who have some pretty heavy schedules. Everyone seems to be hiding something and living in a way that isn't true to what they really want in life.

This book started out very differently than it ended. At first the book focuses on Kara and Babak (nicknamed Bobby) trying to hide the true nature of their relationship from his conservative parents. The book turns into something wholly different as Kara discovers even more secrets and there is where it gets really interesting but I don't want to give anything away. Just know if you're looking for a good page turner with secrets in spades, this is a great pick!

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

TLC Book Tours Review and Giveaway: Chasing the Sun by Natalia Sylvester

Title: Chasing the Sun
Author: Natalia Sylvester
Format: ARC
Publisher: Lake Union Publishing
Publish Date: June 1, 2014
Source: TLC Book Tours

What's the Story?:

Andres suspects his wife has left him—again. Then he learns that the unthinkable has happened: she’s been kidnapped. Too much time and too many secrets have come between Andres and Marabela, but now that she’s gone, he’ll do anything to get her back. Or will he?

As Marabela slips farther away, Andres must decide whether they still have something worth fighting for, and exactly what he’ll give up to bring her home. And unfortunately, the decision isn’t entirely up to him, or up to the private mediator who moves into the family home to negotiate with the terrorists holding Marabela. Andres struggles to maintain the illusion of control while simultaneously scrambling to collect his wife’s ransom, tending to the needs of his two young children, and reconnecting with an old friend who may hold the key to his past and his wife’s future.

Set in Lima, Peru, in a time of civil and political unrest, this evocative page-turner is a perfect marriage of domestic drama and suspense."

My Two Cents:

"Chasing the Sun" is a fascinating domestic drama set against a very scary and troubling time in the country of Peru's history. During the mid-1990s, Peru went through a time period where there was a lot of unrest and a lot of kidnappings that were incredibly frightening and truly shook up the entire population. This book looks at the story of Andres, a guy who loves his turbulent and confusing wife, Marabela, and how he copes when Marabela is kidnapped. The kidnapping really only plays the background to this story. The real story is how Andres and Marabela relate to each other and how their relationship is shaped by everything that happens to Marabela.

I was excited to read this book because I really enjoy reading about Latin America. One of my majors in college was International Relations with a focus in Latin America. Peru is especially fascinating to me so I really wanted to read this book for the historical aspect but the drama really sold me on this book. This book was incredibly intense and kept me turning the pages to figure out what was going to happen next. I thought that the author really did a good job of capturing the tension of Andres and Marabela and everything that is going on around them.

That being said, perhaps the most interesting part of the book is not the kidnapping itself. It's not even the marriage before the kidnapping, which is rife with mistrust and distance. It is what happens after the kidnapping. The author really tries to paint a picture of what might happen when someone comes back. I loved all of the detail in that part of the book!

This book has great character development and great detail! It is subtle and filled with things that you simply cannot take at face value, which I really loved!


I am excited to give away a copy of this book. Just fill out the Rafflecopter form below!

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Tuesday, June 24, 2014

HF Virtual Book Tours: Mozart's Wife by Juliet Waldron

Title: Mozart's Wife
Author: Juliet Waldron
Format: Ebook
Publisher: Self-published
Publish Date: 2001
Source: HF Virtual Book Tours

What's the Story?:

Synopsis: "She Married the World’s First Superstar.

Mozart’s wife aroused strong feelings among her contemporaries. Her in-laws loathed her. Mozart’s friends, more than forty years after his death, remained eager to gossip about her “failures” as wife to the world’s first superstar. Maturing from child to wife to hard-headed widow, Konstanze paid her husband’s debts, provided for their children, and relentlessly marketed and mythologized Mozart. The composer’s letters attest to his affection for Konstanze as well as to their powerful sexual bond. Still, the question remains: Why did she never mark his grave?"

My Two Cents:

"Mozart's Wife" is the story of Konstanze, who is swept off her feet by the one and only Mozart, the famous composer. There are so many books these days that are entitled something about someone's wife. "Mozart's Wife" is a great case for why these sorts of books are so popular. Through Konstanze's eyes we get to see what Mozart was like as a private person. This was a very interesting historical fiction look at a really fantastic life.

Konstanze is a little naive when she first meets Mozart as he is pursuing her musically talented and very pretty older sister. Having so many girls in the family, Konstanze's family cannot afford to give each sister a dowry so Konstanze worries about who she will be able to marry and what she will be able to offer. Mozart eventually turns his affections towards Konstanze and she is excited for it and falls for him fairly quickly. The book details all of the in's and out's of their relationship.

The writing of the book was pretty good. I really liked how the characters were written. Waldron allows the readers to get oh so close to Mozart, a very intriguing man, and I ate it up. I actually did not know much about Mozart's non-musical life and I really liked seeing that aspect of him. At almost 400 pages, this book is quite long and there were a couple parts that could have stood to be slimmed down but overall, there is fairly nice pacing here. This would be a great fictional introduction to Mozart.

Follow the Rest of the Tour:

Monday, May 5
Interview at Layered Pages
Thursday, May 8
Review at Just One More Chapter (Mozart’s Wife)
Friday, May 9
Spotlight at Closed the Cover (Genesee)
Monday, May 12
Review at Closed the Cover (Genesee)
Spotlight at Tower of Babel
Monday, May 19
Interview at Closed the Cover
Wednesday, May 21
Interview at The Maiden’s Court
Monday, May 26
Review at Book Lovers Paradise (Mozart’s Wife)
Tuesday, May 27
Review at Historical Fiction Obsession (Genesee)
Guest Post at Book Lovers Paradise (w/Kathy Fischer-Brown and Louise Turner)
Monday, June 2
Review at A Chick Who Reads (Nightingale)
Tuesday, June 3
Review at Historical Fiction Obsession (Roan Rose)
Thursday, June 5
Review at Svetlana’s Reads and Views (Mozart’s Wife)
Monday, June 9
Review at So Many Books, So Little Time (Roan Rose)
Tuesday, June 10
Review at Svetlana’s Reads and Views (Nightingale)
Thursday, June 12
Guest Post at Closed the Cover
Monday, June 16
Review at Just One More Chapter (Roan Rose)
Tuesday, June 17
Review at A Chick Who Reads (Mozart’s Wife)
Monday, June 23
Review at Peeking Between the Pages (Mozart’s Wife)
Tuesday, June 24
Review at A Bookish Affair (Mozart’s Wife)
Wednesday, June 25
Review at Layered Pages (Nightingale)
Thursday, June 26
Review at A Chick Who Reads (Roan Rose)
Friday, June 27
Review at Broken Teepee (Mozart’s Wife)
Saturday, June 28
Review at WTF Are You Reading? (Mozart’s Wife)
Monday, June 30
Review at The True Book Addict (Mozart’s Wife)
Review at WTF Are You Reading? (Nightingale)

Giveaway: Good Morning, Mr Mandela by Zelda la Grange

Today I am very excited to be able to give away a copy of Good Morning, Mr Mandela thanks to the very generous publishers (U.S. only, no P.O. Boxes). I'm so looking forward to reading this book. My review will be up soon!

Just fill out the Rafflecopter form below!

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Monday, June 23, 2014

Vacation and Giveaway Winners!

Tomorrow I work a half-day and then I'm off on vacation. I'm off to Chicago! I am so excited, both for Chicago and for a vacation. I could be staying home for a week and I would be really excited. I just need a little bit of a break from the everyday grind. The past several months have been intense in a lot of aspects and I have been waiting and waiting to get away. It didn't seem like this trip was ever going to come! 

I've started the all important book picking out for this trip. I will bring my Kindle of course but I must have at least a few physical books as well.

Here's what I'm bringing:

Picking out the physical books might just be the most important part of packing for me! Have any of you read any of these books? What did you think?

Also, do you all have any suggestions for fun things to do in Chicago? I lived there when I was really little but I don't remember anything at all!

I also have some giveaway winners to announce:

Curses and Smoke:
Kim (already won a copy)

Mrs. Poe:

Daughter of the Gods:
Carl (already won a copy)
Denise  (already won a copy)

Blonde Ops:

HF Virtual Book Tours Review, Guest Post, and Giveaway: Murder by Misrule by Anna Castle

Title: Murder by Misrule
Author: Anna Castle
Format: ARC
Publisher: Self-published
Publish Date: June 8, 2014
Source: HF Virtual Book Tours

What's the Story?:

From "Francis Bacon is charged with investigating the murder of a fellow barrister at Gray's Inn. He recruits his unwanted protégé Thomas Clarady to do the tiresome legwork. The son of a privateer, Clarady will do anything to climb the Elizabethan social ladder. Bacon's powerful uncle Lord Burghley suspects Catholic conspirators of the crime, but other motives quickly emerge. Rival barristers contend for the murdered man's legal honors and wealthy clients. Highly-placed courtiers are implicated as the investigation reaches from Whitehall to the London streets. Bacon does the thinking; Clarady does the fencing. Everyone has something up his pinked and padded sleeve. Even the brilliant Francis Bacon is at a loss — and in danger — until he sees through the disguises of the season of Misrule."

My Two Cents:

"Murder by Misrule" is the first book in a new historical mystery series that has Francis Bacon as the protagonist and chief mystery solver. Yes, that Francis Bacon as in the famous English statesman and philosopher. This is a wholly original series that got off to a pretty good start!

Taking place in the Elizabethan age, this book has a seriously interesting setting. When the book opens, our hero, Bacon, is trying to gain the favor of the powers that be, namely that of the lovely Queen. Bacon knows he wants to climb that ladder but isn't sure that he really wants to put himself out there. In a lot of ways, he really is a reluctant hero, but really that made it a little more interesting to me that he was not all that interested in making waves. The transition between where he was at the beginning of the book and where he was by the end of the book was really interesting to witness.

Overall the story was pretty good. I loved the setting and I loved how Castle was able to weave a lot of historical figures and details together to really show the reader what Bacon's world might have been like. There were parts of the book that I thought could have been slimmed down a little bit. I also wanted to know more about the ending but it's hard to put down my thoughts on that part without knowing what awaits readers in the subsequent books!

Author Guest Post:

Out of all the philosopher-statesmen in all the books in all the world, why did I choose Francis Bacon to star in my historical mystery series? I wish I had an answer involving mountain tops and strokes of lightning, but the truth is, it was largely a pragmatic decision.

My first novel, which will never be published, was an historical romance set in 1101. I love the twelfth century; it was an exciting time with the kinds of large social transformations that attract my interest. But I wasn't happy with the lack of a vernacular literature and I draw the line at learning dead languages to research my novels. (That's about only line; I love reading history.)

So I started grazing forward, reading overviews and cruising Wikipedia. The 13th century is boring. The 14th century is depressing, what with the plague and all. The 15th century is confusing; too many players. Then I arrived at the sixteenth century and my spider sense started tingling. I don't like the Henrician period, it's too gloomy. Everyone was worried and fearful and for good reason. I like optimistic times, rising tides, expanding horizons. My characters are always climbers: people pursuing destinies, looking for a way to make their mark in the world. I like characters with aspirations.

Lo and behold, the late 16th century -- the Elizabethan period -- had all of those qualities and then some. You want a vernacular literature? Hello, Mr. Shakespeare! You want climbers? How about Sir Walter Raleigh, Francis Bacon, Robert Cecil, and Christopher Marlowe for a start. It was the Age of Aspiration, with everyone chasing an outsized dream. The world was expanding at a pace people found both dizzying and inspiring.

More than anyone, Francis Bacon embodied the transformation from the old world to the new. He stood on the threshold pointing, "The future is this way! Follow me!" Sometimes his foresight seems almost extra-terrestrial, but he took powdered steel for longevity and staunchly believed in the sanctity of monarchy. He didn't invent inductive reasoning, but he advocated it more lucidly than anyone before him. "Look at the facts," he said, over and over. "Gather evidence, analyze it, then draw your conclusions." Novel advice for the time; always good advice for a sleuth. He did some sleuthing, too, as a lawyer and later as a judge. Not the kind in my books, but he spent many hours examining witnesses and evaluating their testimony.

The more I read about Bacon, the more I love him as a character and respect him as a man, in spite of his failings. (He was an infant about money and he was not above a little hypocritical groveling to tease a favor out of a lord.) And the more I read about the Elizabethan period, the more I want to read.

Loving what I read and write is my aspiration.


You can win a paperback copy of "Murder by Misrule" (open US/CAN only)! 

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Follow the Rest of the Tour:

Monday, June 2
Review at Flashlight Commentary
Book Blast at Mari Reads
Tuesday, June 3
Interview at Flashlight Commentary
Guest Post at Historical Fiction Connection
Wednesday, June 4
Book Blast at The Musings of ALMYBNENR
Thursday, June 5
Book Blast at Our Wolves Den
Friday, June 6
Review at Book Nerd
Book Blast at The Mad Reviewer
Book Blast at A Dream Within a Dream
Saturday, June 7
Book Blast at Kelsey’s Book Corner
Sunday, June 8
Review at Carole’s Ramblings
Monday, June 9
Review at Ageless Pages Reviews
Tuesday, June 10
Book Blast at West Metro Mommy
Wednesday, June 11
Review at Oh, For the Hook of a Book
Book Blast at Literary Chanteuse
Thursday, June 12
Review at Curling Up By the Fire
Friday, June 13
Book Blast at Cheryl’s Book Nook
Monday, June 16
Book Blast at Closed the Cover
Book Blast at To Read or Not to Read
Tuesday, June 17
Review & Giveaway at 100 Pages a Day
Book Blast at A Book Geek
Wednesday, June 18
Book Blast at CelticLady’s Reviews
Thursday, June 19
Review at Bibliotica
Book Blast at Historical Fiction Obsession
Friday, June 20
Review at A Bibliotaph’s Reviews
Saturday, June 21
Book Blast at Griperang’s Bookmarks
Monday, June 23
Review, Guest Post, and Giveaway at A Bookish Affair
Interview at Jorie Loves a Story
Book Blast at So Many Books, So Little Time
Tuesday, June 24
Review at Jorie Loves a Story
Wednesday, June 25
Book Blast at Susan Heim on Writing
Thursday, June 26
Review at A Bookish Girl
Review at Layered Pages
Review at Kinx’s Book Nook
Interview at All Things Girl
Friday, June 27
Book Blast at Caroline Wilson Writes
Monday, June 30
Book Blast at Historical Tapestry
Tuesday, July 1
Interview at Starting Fresh
Wednesday, July 2
Book Blast at Kincavel Korner
Thursday, July 3
Review & Giveaway at The True Book Addict
Guest Post & Giveaway at Bibliophilia, Please
Friday, July 4
Review at Svetlana’s Reads and Views
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Sunday, June 22, 2014

Review: A Paris Apartment by Michelle Gable

Title: A Paris Apartment
Author: Michelle Gable
Format: Hardcover
Publisher: Thomas Dunne Books
Publish Date: April 22, 2014
Source: I received a copy from the publisher; however, this did not affect my review.

What's the Story?:

From "When April Vogt's boss tells her about the discoveries in a cramped, decrepit ninth arrondissement apartment, the Sotheby's continental furniture specialist does not hear the words “dust” or “rats” or “shuttered for seventy years.” She hears Paris. She hears escape.

Once in France, April quickly learns the apartment is not merely some rich hoarder's repository. Beneath the dust and cobwebs and stale perfumed air is a goldmine and not because of the actual gold (or painted ostrich eggs or mounted rhinoceros horns or bronze bathtub). First, there's a portrait by one of the masters of the Belle Epoque. And then there are letters and journals written by the woman in the painting, documents showing she was more than a renowned courtesan with enviable decolletage. Suddenly it's no longer about the bureau plats and Louis-­style armchairs that will fetch millions at auction.

It's about a life. Two lives, actually.

With the help of a salty (and annoyingly sexy) Parisian solicitor and the courtesan's private documents, April tries to uncover the secrets buried in the apartment. As she digs into one woman's life, April can't help but take a deeper look into her own. When the two things she left bubbling back in the States begin to boil over, April starts to wonder whether she'll ever find—in the apartment, or in her life—just what she's looking for."

My Two Cents: 

"A Paris Apartment" is a story that takes place in two times. There is the present day that surrounds April, a woman who is going through a lot. Her marriage is dissolving. She goes to Paris to escape and throws herself into the estate of Marthe, a woman whose Paris apartment holds a treasure trove of secrets including a mysterious painting painted by one of the Belle Epoque's great painters. This is a good story that will interest historical fiction fans as well as those that just like stories filled with intrigue and mystery.

As with many stories that are split into two times, I really enjoyed the part that took place during the past rather than the later time. Marthe's story was fascinating and her character was so interesting to read about. It took me awhile to connect with April's character in this book so I was pleased that I connected with Marthe's character and her story right away. Marthe is really what kept me reading! I loved how Gable was able to put Marthe's story together in such away that it kept me wanting to read to just put one more piece in the puzzle.

This book is a debut novel and I think that Gable shows a lot of promise with this book. The setting is fantastic. The book took a little bit of time to get into but once it got going, it really got going! I loved how Gable was able to tie everything together!

Saturday, June 21, 2014

HF Virtual Book Tours: Successio by Alison Morton

Follow Alison Morton's Book Blast for SUCCESSIO, the third book in her Roma Nova Series, from June 16-27 for a chance to win your own autographed copy and bookmark!

SuccessioPublication Date: June 4, 2014
SilverWood Books
Formats: eBook, Paperback

Genre: Alternative Historical Thriller

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Roma Nova � the last remnant of the Roman Empire that has survived into the 21st century � is at peace. Carina Mitela, the heir of a leading family, but choosing the life of an officer in the Praetorian Guard Special Forces, is not so sure.

She senses danger crawling towards her when she encounters a strangely self-possessed member of the unit hosting their exchange exercise in Britain. When a blackmailing letter arrives from a woman claiming to be her husband Conrad�s lost daughter and Conrad tries to shut Carina out, she knows the threat is real.

Trying to resolve a young man�s indiscretion twenty-five years before turns into a nightmare that not only threatens to destroy all the Mitelae but also attacks the core of the imperial family itself. With her enemy holding a gun at the head of the heir to the imperial throne, Carina has to make the hardest decision of her life�

June 25: Historical Tapestry & The Maiden's Court
June 26: Book Nerd & Passages to the Past
June 27: CelticLady's Reviews


To win an Autographed copy of SUCCESSIO & Bookmark please complete the Rafflecopter giveaway form below. Giveaway is open to US residents only.

Giveaway ends at 11:59pm on June 27th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
Winner will be chosen via Rafflecopter on June 28th and notified via email.
Winner have 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.

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Praise for Successio

�If there is a world where fiction becomes more believable than reality, then Alison Morton�s ingenious thrillers must be the portal through which to travel. Following in Caesar�s footsteps, she came with INCEPTIO, saw with PERFIDITAS � and has well and truly conquered with SUCCESSIO!� � Helen Hollick, author and Managing Editor Historical Novel Society Indie Reviews

�Alison Morton has done it again. SUCCESSIO is the latest in her series of powerful tales of family betrayals and shifting allegiances in Roma Nova. Once again, I was gripped from start to finish.� � Sue Cook, writer and broadcaster

Watch the Book Trailer

Roma Nova Series

Book One: Inceptio
Book Two: Perfiditas
Book Three: Successio

Buy the Book

Amazon US
Amazon UK
Barnes & Noble
Book Depository

About the AuthorAlison Morton

Alison Morton writes Roman-themed alternate history thrillers with strong heroines. She holds a bachelor�s degree in French, German and Economics, a masters� in history and lives in France with her husband.

A �Roman nut� since age 11, she has visited sites throughout Europe including the alma mater, Rome. But it was the mosaics at Ampurias (Spain) that started her wondering what a modern Roman society would be like if run by women�

INCEPTIO, the first in the Roma Nova series, was shortlisted for the 2013 International Rubery Book Award and awarded a B.R.A.G. Medallion� in September 2013. The next in series, PERFIDITAS, published October 2013, has also just been honoured with the B.R.A.G. Medallion�. Alison is currently working on the fourth book.

Connect with Alison Morton

Amazon UK Author Page
Amazon US Author Page
INCEPTIO Facebook Page
PERFIDITAS Facebook Page

Follow the Successio Book Blast

June 16: Flashlight Commentary & Princess of Eboli
June 17: Kincavel Korner, Mina's Bookshelf, & Literary Chanteuse
June 18: Kinx's Book Nook & Svetlana's Reads and Views
June 19: So Many Books, So Little Time, The Lit Bitch, & West Metro Mommy
June 20: Historical Fiction Obsession
June 21: A Bookish Affair & Broken Teepee
June 22: Just One More Chapter
June 23: The Little Reader Library & The True Book Addict
June 24: A Bibliotaph's Reviews & Historical Fiction Connection

Friday, June 20, 2014

HF Virtual Book Tours Guest Post and Giveaway: Jenny Barden, Author of The Lost Duchess

Today, I'm really excited to welcome Jenny Barden, author of The Lost Duchess to A Bookish Affair.

Delving into the Mystery of the Lost Colony of Roanoke
(with help from an aiglette)

It’s a joy to be invited to contribute to A Bookish Affair to mark the end of my virtual book tour for The Lost Duchess just out in paperback. Many thanks for this opportunity.
With so much rich material behind the story of the book and the Lost Colony of Roanoke it’s difficult to pick out just one facet to talk about, but I thought I’d concentrate on a detail which gains significance in the fictional story and show how the narrative is woven into and around surviving traces from real history. In the details a story comes to life.
The detail concerns an aiglette (sometimes called an ‘aglet’ or ‘aiglet’). An aiglette is the metal tag of a lace, known as a ‘point’ in Elizabethan times, which was used to make it easier to thread through the eyelet holes of a garment, such as in fastening breeches to a doublet.

[Picture 1: An aiglette on a doublet c. 1580 at the Metropolitan Museum of Art ]

An aiglette could be ornamental as well as functional and made or decorated with precious metal or gems, but more usually it was a simple thin brass cone. The relevance of an aiglette to The Lost Duchess comes in untangling the conundrum of the disappearance of the men left on Roanoke by Sir Richard Grenville a year before the arrival of the colonists led by Governor John White.  We sometimes forget that the ‘Lost Colony’ wasn’t the only one to disappear!
Grenville left at least fifteen men to safeguard the fort on Roanoke which he found inexplicably deserted in the summer of 1586. (He didn’t know that the garrison there had been evacuated by Sir Francis Drake a few weeks earlier.)  The challenge for me in writing a story with this episode in the underlying history was to come up with a convincing explanation supported by credible clues. I decided to make a bit of a detective story out of the search for an answer, in much the same way that historians are still puzzling over what happened to the Lost Colony to this day.
Part of the enigma is the dearth of traces. Why has no definitive physical evidence for the whereabouts of the Lost Colony ever been found? You’d think that at least 113 men, women and children would leave some trace of their existence – a button or coin or other artefact capable of dating – but there’s nothing that can be linked to the Lost Colony with any certainty.

[Picture 2: The Kendall ring found on Hatteras Island by the Croatan Project of East Carolina University at the site of the ancient capital of Croatoan. The engraved prancing lion has been attributed to the Kendall coat of arms and, since there was a Master Kendall listed amongst the first Roanoke garrison commanded by Ralph Lane (1585-6), it’s been suggested that the ring forms a material link between the first Englishmen to arrive on Roanoke and Native Americans in the region. But the ring still doesn’t represent a direct connection with the Lost Colony or shed light on the Colony’s exact location.]

The accounts kept at the time and in the decades immediately afterwards are our best evidence for what happened to the Lost Colony, but as regards the fate of Grenville’s men all we have is White’s diary:
‘…The same night, at sunne set [Governor White] went aland on the Island, in the place where our fifteene men were left, but we found none of them, nor any signe, that they had bene there, saving onely we found the bones of one of those fifteene, which the Savages had slaine long before...’
The friendly Croatan tribe later told the settlers that Grenville’s men had been attacked by hostile American Indians led by Wanchese. As for hard evidence, all that White had to go on were those bones. There’s an obvious difficulty here for a novelist because where was the proof that the bones belonged to an Englishman, moreover an Englishman ‘slaine’ by ‘Savages’? This is where I used a little imagination. I inserted a find of the kind that archaeologists are still searching for – I had my characters ‘discover’ an aiglette.

In the story there’s a gradual build up. Kit Doonan, who leads much of the action, begins casually searching in the sand after wandering off behind the beach soon after arrival with his friend Manteo (a Croatan Indian in real history).

I set the scene thus:

‘The sun sank to a shimmering red disc like a boss of molten metal plunging behind the dark shield of the land. Fireflies began to glow and cicadas started to trill. The smell of spruce and pine hung resinous in the cooling air. Kit walked along the bank and then to the edge of the trees. Manteo followed him. They both probed and scraped, examined and pondered, picking over driftwood and shells, pinecones and roots. Every so often one of them would find something that would make them both crouch down, heads together.

“A button? Kit asked, fingering something black, round and smooth which seemed to have a hook on the back.

“A nut,” Manteo answered, shaking his head and smiling in the shadows…
They come across the bones of turtles, and then an unmistakably human tooth. Next they unearth human leg and arm bones, and then a skull smashed to pieces. This is the evidence of a violent attack.

As Kit says:

“Whoever this was, he didn’t die a natural death. Beasts wouldn’t pulverise a skull and leave the rest intact.”

The manner of death is consistent with what happened later to one of the Lost Colonists as a matter of fact. We know about the brutal murder of George Howe from John White’s account and, again, that’s threaded into the story. But going back to the bones found when the Lost Colonists first arrived, how did White know that they belonged to one of Grenville’s men and weren’t those of a native Indian killed in some tribal skirmish? I speculate that there were no clothes left since White didn’t mention any, and European clothes may well have been taken as trophies by the attackers. So where was the proof of identity? Here it is:

‘He delved again and touched a thin strip of something metallic. He held it up to the vestiges of light. It was brass, a tiny elongated cylinder, fatter at one end than the other: an aiglette of the kind that a man would have at the end of the laces on his doublet or sleeves…’

The aiglette is the evidence: a soldier’s aiglette which isn’t gilded or jewelled. Kit imagines the man brought down, ‘perhaps clubbed or struck by an arrow, the clothes ripped off him as he lay dying, the lace torn away and lost in the dirt to later rot and leave just its capping behind…’

In the remaining wilderness areas around Roanoke Island and the Pamlico Sound there may well be clues like this still waiting to be found.

[Picture 3: Deserted shore of the Pamlico Sound] 

I hope this little vignette will give some insight into the way The Lost Duchess has emerged from the history, both based on the accounts and indirectly through small incidental details. It may also offer a glimpse of the devious workings of my mind!

Jenny Barden  June 2014  @jennywilldoit

Note: John White’s account as quoted appears in The First Colonists: Documents on the Planting of The First English Settlements in North America 1584-1590 edited by David B Quinn and Alison M Quinn


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Follow the Rest of the Tour:

Monday, May 26
Book Blast at Reading the Ages
Book Blast at Literary Chanteuse
Book Blast at Bibliophilia, Please
Tuesday, May 27
Review at A Bibliotaph’s Reviews
Book Blast at Flashlight Commentary
Book Blast at To Read or Not to Read
Wednesday, May 28
Review at Carole’s Ramblings and Book Girl of Mur-y-Castell
Thursday, May 29
Book Blast at The Maiden’s Court
Book Blast at Cheryl’s Book Nook
Book Blast at Book Reviews & More by Kathy
Friday, May 30
Review at WTF Are You Reading?
Book Blast at The Mad Reviewer
Book Blast at Curling Up by the Fire
Saturday, May 31
Book Blast at From L.A. to LA
Book Blast at Gobs and Gobs of Books
Sunday, June 1
Book Blast at Lily Pond Reads
Book Blast at So Many Books, So Little Time
Monday, June 2
Review at Book Babblers
Review & Giveaway at The Tudor Enthusiast
Book Blast at The Bookworm
Book Blast at CelticLady’s Reviews
Tuesday, June 3
Review at Oh, For the Hook of a Book
Book Blast at West Metro Mommy
Book Blast at bookworm2bookworm’s Blog
Wednesday, June 4
Review at The Wormhole
Book Blast at Kelsey’s Book Corner
Thursday, June 5
Review & Giveaway at Let Them Read Books
Interview at Oh, For the Hook of a Book
Book Blast at Books and Benches
Book Blast at Book Lovers Paradise
Friday, June 6
Book Blast at Kincavel Korner
Book Blast at Caroline Wilson Writes
Saturday, June 7
Book Blast at Royal Reviews
Sunday, June 8
Book Blast at Book Nerd
Monday, June 9
Review at A Chick Who Reads
Book Blast at The Musings of a Book Junkie
Book Blast at History From a Woman’s Perspective
Tuesday, June 10
Review at She Reads Novels
Book Blast at History Undressed
Book Blast at Just One More Chapter
Wednesday, June 11
Review at Historical Fiction Obsession
Interview at Dianne Ascroft Blog
Book Blast at Books in the Burbs
Thursday, June 12
Book Blast at Big Book, Little Book
Book Blast at Historical Fiction Notebook
Friday, June 13
Spotlight at Susan Heim on Writing
Review at Svetlana’s Reads and Views
Saturday, June 14
Book Blast at Hardcover Feedback
Book Blast at One Book at a Time
Monday, June 16
Review at Layered Pages
Review at Starting Fresh
Review at Ageless Pages Reviews
Tuesday, June 17
Review at The Lit Bitch
Book Blast at Griperang’s Bookmarks
Wednesday, June 18
Review & Giveaway at Luxury Reading
Book Blast at Princess of Eboli
Thursday, June 19
Review at A Bookish Affair
Review at Little Reader Library
Friday, June 20
Review at Broken Teepee
Review at Jorie Loves a Story
Review at The Musings of ALMYBNENR
Guest Post & Giveaway at A Bookish Affair
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