Thursday, August 25, 2016

Review: Root, Petal, Thorn by Ella Joy Olsen + Giveaway!!

Publisher: Kensington Publishing
Pub. Date: August 30th, 2016
Pages: 320 pages


 
In this beautifully written and powerful debut novel, Ella Joy Olsen traces the stories of five fascinating women who inhabit the same historic home over the course of a century—braided stories of love, heartbreak and courage connect the women, even across generations.


Ivy Baygren has two great loves in her life: her husband, Adam, and the bungalow they buy together in one of the oldest neighborhoods in Salt Lake City, Utah. From the moment she and Adam lay eyes on the home, Ivy is captivated by its quaint details—the old porch swing, ornate tiles, and especially an heirloom rose bush bursting with snowy white blossoms. Called the Emmeline Rose for the home’s original owner, it seems yet another sign that this place will be Ivy’s happily-ever-after…Until her dreams are shattered by Adam’s unexpected death.

 Striving to be strong for her two children, Ivy decides to tackle the home-improvement projects she and Adam once planned. Day by day, as she attempts to rebuild her house and her resolve, she uncovers clues about previous inhabitants, from a half-embroidered sampler to buried wine bottles. And as Ivy learns about the women who came before her—the young Mormon torn between her heart and anti-polygamist beliefs, the Greek immigrant during World War II, a troubled single mother in the 1960s—she begins to uncover the lessons of her own journey. For every story has its sadness, but there is also the possibility of blooming again, even stronger and more resilient than before…
 

 

What Did I Think About the Story?

 
 
I'm not ashamed to admit I was instantly drawn to Root, Petal, Thorn by the cover. It is just so beautiful, I couldn't help but want to learn more about it. Then reading the synopsis, and loving stories with multiple timelines as much as I do, I knew I needed to read this book. What could Ivy learn from her home and it's previous inhabitants that could possibly help her get over the grief of losing her husband? It turns out quite a lot, and not necessarily what I first assumed.

Ella Joy Olsen fairly gutted me from the very first page as the story begins with Ivy waking up and remembering that her husband is dead. She's been struggling through the healing process while she, and her two kids, continue to ache with their loss. This hit me pretty hard as I imagine I would react in much the same way, and it made me instantly connect with Ivy. Even with this connection, however, I have to say that Ivy wasn't my favorite character (she was great, just not my favorite). There are a number of incredible women sprinkled throughout the history of Ivy's house, and each of them brought a unique perspective to not only the overall story being told but to the time, place, and experiences they lived in.

The various women's stories are told in alternating chapters and my favorite storyline within Root, Petal, Thorn was that of Lainey Harper, a mother (who lived in Ivy's home in the late 60s until Ivy's family moved in) fighting to keep her sanity so she can keep custody of her daughter, while also trying to keep a part of the passion that defines her alive through her art. I found these chapters to be especially poignant as the author did an exceptional job at showing the internal and external struggles both Lainey and her daughter went through due to Lainey's  mental illness. Anyone who's known someone who's struggled with mental illness or dealt with manic depression themselves will be able to appreciate this struggle as it unfolds and long for Lainey to be able to find a good stable balance.

Along with this storyline there are women who tackle a myriad of situations - following their heart vs. following what their church and family tell them to do, struggling with the emotions of sending a beloved son off to war, losing a mother at a young age and trying to learn to live without her - and I can't imagine anyone not finding something to relate to or empathize with between these different stories. Some are dealt with and explored more than others, but I think each had its place within the greater story arc and all came back around to the general theme running through them all: in each story of heartache there is a touch of hope, and in each happy story there is a thread of sadness. That is the way of the world and, once a person realizes this, they can survive anything.

Root, Petal, Thorn is a powerful novel, one made up of a patchwork of stories that, while they don't necessarily all fit together neatly, all have a common balance of emotions and epiphanies wrapped up together in one home throughout time. I think just about anyone can find something to enjoy within this story, but I'd especially recommend it to anyone who enjoys an intimate look into the lives of strong, determined women.

 

What Did I Think About the Cover?

 
 
Well as I said above, this cover was what first drew me to the story. It is absolutely gorgeous, I  just love everything about it! Blurring the focus on the woman allows this to feel like it could be any of the women we meet within the pages. And the roses could be from the Emmeline rosebush that plays a prominent part in the story.
 
 
My Rating: 4.0/5.0
 
 

Thank you to Kensington Publishing for providing me with a free copy of Root, Petal, Thorn in exchange for an honest review! Continue below for information about the book, the author, and how to enter to win a copy of the book for yourself!
 
 

Advanced Praise



"Five women. Five complicated lives. One house where they all live over a period of one hundred years. In this story, the walls talk. Wonderful, compelling saga."-- Cathy Lamb, author of My Very Best Friend 

"Root, Petal, Thorn is the perfect addition to a librar-ian’s toolkit of recommended reads for book clubs looking for a lively discussion."-- Deborah Ehrman, Librarian and Deputy Director, Salt Lake City Public Library System. 

"Olsen is an emerging voice to watch for in historical and contemporary women’s fiction." -- Aimie K. Runyan, author of Promised to the Crown


Buy the Book

 
 
 
 

About the Author

 
 
Ella Joy Olsen lives in Salt Lake City, Utah, in a century old brick bungalow with her husband and
three children. She spent nearly a decade on the Board of Directors for the Salt Lake City Public Library system (and even more years browsing the stacks), and is a member of Women's Fiction Writers and the best book club ever, (SLC Bibliophiles).

Learn more about Ms. Olsen and her writing on her website, and connect with her on Facebook and Twitter.
 
 

It's Giveaway Time!!

 
 
Thanks to Lulu at Kensington Publishing I have one copy of Root, Petal, Thorn to giveaway (open to US/CAN only)! All you have to do is enter your name and email address on the giveaway form HERE. Please be sure to leave both your name and your email on the form so I can contact you if you are my winner (no email address, no entry!). For extra entries you can follow the blog in various ways (links are on the right hand sidebar) and leave the name/email you follow with on the form. That's it!


Please Note: When verifying the extra entries I've noticed that some people are saying they follow me in certain ways that they, in fact, do not. I want to give extra entries to those that are actually taking the time to follow my blog, so please double check that you are in fact following me before saying you do. This verification is becoming a time consuming process so I will begin to remove all extra entries for those that I find are not being honest.

I'll use a random number generator to pick a winner on August 30th, 2016 and will announce the winner here as well as email the winner. The winner will have 48 hours to respond to my email with their mailing address. If you have already won this giveaway on another site please let me know so I can pick a new winner and give someone else a chance to win a copy of this great book.


You can also check out Ella Joy Olsen's guest post about Forging Fiction via Family Folklore HERE.






Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Spotlight on Madame Presidentess by Nicole Evelina + Tour-Wide Giveaway!


Publication Date: July 25, 2016
Lawson Gartner Publishing
eBook & Paperback; 400 Pages


Genre: Historical Fiction


*Winner: U.S. Women’s History category – 2015 Chaucer Awards for Historical Fiction*
 
 
Forty-eight years before women were granted the right to vote, one woman dared to run for President of the United States, yet her name has been virtually written out of the history books.


Rising from the shame of an abusive childhood, Victoria Woodhull, the daughter of a con-man and a religious zealot, vows to follow her destiny, one the spirits say will lead her out of poverty to “become ruler of her people.”

But the road to glory is far from easy. A nightmarish marriage teaches Victoria that women are stronger and deserve far more credit than society gives. Eschewing the conventions of her day, she strikes out on her own to improve herself and the lot of American women.

Over the next several years, she sets into motion plans that shatter the old boys club of Wall Street and defile even the sanctity of the halls of Congress. But it’s not just her ambition that threatens men of wealth and privilege; when she announces her candidacy for President in the 1872 election, they realize she may well usurp the power they’ve so long fought to protect.

Those who support her laud “Notorious Victoria” as a gifted spiritualist medium and healer, a talented financial mind, a fresh voice in the suffrage movement, and the radical idealist needed to move the nation forward. But those who dislike her see a dangerous force who is too willing to speak out when women are expected to be quiet. Ultimately, “Mrs. Satan’s” radical views on women’s rights, equality of the sexes, free love and the role of politics in private affairs collide with her tumultuous personal life to endanger all she has built and change how she is viewed by future generations.

This is the story of one woman who was ahead of her time – a woman who would make waves even in the 21st century – but who dared to speak out and challenge the conventions of post-Civil War America, setting a precedent that is still followed by female politicians today.


Buy the Book

 

 
 

About the Author

 
 
Nicole Evelina is an award-winning historical fiction and romantic comedy writer. Her most recent novel, Been Searching for You, a romantic comedy, won the 2015 Romance Writers of America (RWA) Great Expectations and Golden Rose contests.

She also writes historical fiction. Her debut novel, Daughter of Destiny, the first book of an Arthurian
legend trilogy that tells Guinevere’s life story from her point of view, was named Book of the Year by Chanticleer Reviews, took the Grand Prize in the 2015 Chatelaine Awards for Women’s Fiction/Romance, won a Gold Medal in the fantasy category in the Next Generation Indie Book Awards and was short-listed for the Chaucer Award for Historical Fiction. The sequel, Camelot’s Queen is out now.

Nicole is one of only six authors who completed a week-long writing intensive taught by #1 New York Times bestselling author Deborah Harkness. Nicole has traveled to England twice to research the Guinevere’s Tale trilogy, where she consulted with internationally acclaimed author and historian Geoffrey Ashe, as well as Arthurian/Glastonbury expert Jaime George, the man who helped Marion Zimmer Bradley research The Mists of Avalon.

Nicole is a member of and book reviewer for The Historical Novel Society, and Sirens (a group supporting female fantasy authors), as well as a member of the Historical Writers of America, Women’s Fiction Writers Association, Romance Writers of America, the St. Louis Writer’s Guild, Women Writing the West, Broad Universe (promoting women in fantasy, science fiction and horror), Alliance of Independent Authors and the Independent Book Publishers Association.

Her website/blog is http://nicoleevelina.com and she can be found on Twitter as well as on Pinterest, Facebook, Goodreads, Instagram and Tumblr.

It's Giveaway Time!!

 
 
To enter the Madame Presidentess Giveaway for a paperback of the book and/or Victoria Woodhull Bumper Sticker, please see the GLEAM form HERE. 3 winners will receive a copy of the book and a bumper sticker. 7 winners will receive the Victoria Woodhull Bumper Sticker.
 
 
 
 
Rules

Giveaway ends at 11:59pm EST on August 26th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
 
Giveaway is open to US residents only.
 
Only one entry per household.
 
All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspect of fraud is decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion
 
Winner has 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.
 
 
Good Luck!!
 
 

Madame Presidentess Blog Tour Schedule

 
 
Monday, July 25

Tour Kick Off at Passages to the Past

Tuesday, July 26

Spotlight at Just One More Chapter

Wednesday, July 27

Spotlight at Broken Teepee

Thursday, July 28

Guest Post at Let Them Read Books

Friday, July 29

Spotlight at A Bookaholic Swede

Monday, August 1

Review at History From a Woman’s Perspective

Tuesday, August 2

Guest Post & Excerpt at The Silver Dagger Scriptorium

Wednesday, August 3

Review at The Book Junkie Reads

Thursday, August 4

Interview at The Maiden’s Court

Monday, August 8

Review at The Book Connection (First Chapter Review)

Tuesday, August 9

Spotlight at CelticLady’s Reviews

Saturday, August 13

Review at One Book Shy of a Full Shelf

Tuesday, August 16

Review at First Impressions Reviews

Wednesday, August 17

Review at Creating Herstory

Thursday, August 18

Spotlight at What Is That Book About
Guest Post at Creating Herstory

Friday, August 19

Review at Diana’s Book Reviews

Monday, August 22

Review at Jorie Loves a Story
Spotlight at To Read, Or Not to Read

Tuesday, August 23

Review at 100 Pages a Day

Wednesday, August 24

Review at Book Nerd
Spotlight at A Literary Vacation

Thursday, August 25

Review at Bookramblings

Friday, August 26

Review at A Bookish Affair



 
 
 


Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Guest Post with Ella Joy Olsen, Author of Root, Petal, Thorn + Giveaway!!


I am so excited to welcome author Ella Joy Olsen to A Literary Vacation today! My review of her debut novel, Root, Petal, Thorn will go live in two days and I am so excited to share it with you! In the meantime, please enjoy Ms. Olsen's guest post below. And be sure to read on after the post for more information about the book, the author, and how you can enter to win a copy of Root, Petal, Thorn for yourself!
 
 
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
 

Forging Fiction via Family Folklore

By: Ella Joy Olsen
 

Like many authors, I pick up bits and pieces of my fictional stories from real life, like the “pretty” rocks my son collected when he was five. Eventually he collected so many tiny, beautiful stones he had to continually carry a backpack. And inevitably that pack became so heavy I was forced to carry it every time we went out. But that’s another story.

While writing my debut novel, Root, Petal, Thorn, I collected a variety of story pebbles from a treasure trove of family lore, and used them to build the foundation of the book. It’s far from a memoir, but many of my story nuggets came from time spent with my grandparents, and though my grandma wouldn’t tell me much about her own life, she loved to talk about her mother (my great-grandmother and namesake). If I was asked to describe Great-Grandma Ella’s life, the first thing I would do is pare it down to a series of noteworthy events. 
 

1) When she was seven years old, everyone in her church class (except her) died of diphtheria.

2) Her mom died in childbirth when Ella was eleven, leaving her an only child who was then raised by her father and her maternal grandmother.

3) That grandmother (who was my great-great-great grandma) was the third wife to her best friend’s father. In other words, she was an unenthusiastic polygamist wife. She bore him eleven children. One of them was Ella’s mother, who died.

4) Great-grandma Ella married and became pregnant right before her husband left for WWI. He died in France from influenza and never met his daughter (my grandma).
 
 
As an impressionable child, I considered each of these life-changing circumstances with no small amount of hand-wringing. I was named after my great-grandma; might I not also suffer her fate? In fact, after learning exactly what diphtheria was, I tried more than once to convince my mom I could feel my throat constricting, even going so far as to gasp helplessly for a doctor before collapsing onto my bed. She didn’t buy it.

Decades later (having barely survived diphtheria), I put my hands to the keyboard and wove many of these legends in to narrative lore. While I wrote, I got to thinking: Why do readers seek out traumatic events in the stories they read? And why am I, myself, most interested in exploring the bleaker parts of a story?

According to a study conducted by The Ohio State University (2012), “People seem to use [narrative] tragedies as a way to reflect on the important relationships in their own lives – to count their blessings – which helps explain why tragedies are so popular with audiences. Despite the sadness they induce; [narrative tragedies] result in an overall increase in happiness.” Case in point: In the bestselling novel by Kristin Hannah, The Nightingale, both sisters suffer tremendous loss, yet at the end (no spoilers…don’t worry) the reader is overcome with the continuity of their love, come what may. I wiped a tear after finishing this traumatic tale and closed it with a satisfied sigh.
 
Here’s the beauty of fictionalizing harrowing family history and embarrassing secrets. I love family stories, but my collected stones were un-cut gems, because most events are like the list above: fact-filled. Perhaps distressing to learn about, but they lack emotional context. The end of many a true story is dreadful or, even worse for the teller-of-stories, boring. But the fiction author is free to expand upon their tidbits of ancestry and explore possible consequences using a range of emotional details. The author is free to ask, “What if?”

So how to get away with it? The intent is not to harm, obviously, but to expand. In mixing up the events, changing the names, throwing in a few more characters, and altering the most-telling of details, the truth and consequences (so to speak) can be explored and no one can cry foul. You can explore your family history and have your happy ending (or your disastrous one) and no one can sue for slander. No one can say you didn’t get the story right. Because, of course, you didn’t. You wrote a fictional story. This, for me, is so much more fun than writing a memoir.

I challenge you to read Root, Petal, Thorn, or any of your other favorite novels. Then take a closer look at the author bio or acknowledgments. See if you can find a little fact in the fiction. Because no matter how implausible the story, there is always a whisper of truth.

 
 
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
 
 
 
Publisher: Kensington Publishing
Pub. Date: August 30th, 2016
Pages: 320 pages
 

In this beautifully written and powerful debut novel, Ella Joy Olsen traces the stories of five fascinating women who inhabit the same historic home over the course of a century—braided stories of love, heartbreak and courage connect the women, even across generations.


Ivy Baygren has two great loves in her life: her husband, Adam, and the bungalow they buy together in one of the oldest neighborhoods in Salt Lake City, Utah. From the moment she and Adam lay eyes on the home, Ivy is captivated by its quaint details—the old porch swing, ornate tiles, and especially an heirloom rose bush bursting with snowy white blossoms. Called the Emmeline Rose for the home’s original owner, it seems yet another sign that this place will be Ivy’s happily-ever-after…Until her dreams are shattered by Adam’s unexpected death.

 Striving to be strong for her two children, Ivy decides to tackle the home-improvement projects she and Adam once planned. Day by day, as she attempts to rebuild her house and her resolve, she uncovers clues about previous inhabitants, from a half-embroidered sampler to buried wine bottles. And as Ivy learns about the women who came before her—the young Mormon torn between her heart and anti-polygamist beliefs, the Greek immigrant during World War II, a troubled single mother in the 1960s—she begins to uncover the lessons of her own journey. For every story has its sadness, but there is also the possibility of blooming again, even stronger and more resilient than before…


Advanced Praise



"Five women. Five complicated lives. One house where they all live over a period of one hundred years. In this story, the walls talk. Wonderful, compelling saga."-- Cathy Lamb, author of My Very Best Friend 

"Root, Petal, Thorn is the perfect addition to a librar-ian’s toolkit of recommended reads for book clubs looking for a lively discussion."-- Deborah Ehrman, Librarian and Deputy Director, Salt Lake City Public Library System. 

"Olsen is an emerging voice to watch for in historical and contemporary women’s fiction." -- Aimie K. Runyan, author of Promised to the Crown

Buy the Book

 
 
 
  

About the Author



Ella Joy Olsen lives in Salt Lake City, Utah, in a century old brick bungalow with her husband and
three children. She spent nearly a decade on the Board of Directors for the Salt Lake City Public Library system (and even more years browsing the stacks), and is a member of Women's Fiction Writers and the best book club ever, (SLC Bibliophiles).

Learn more about Ms. Olsen and her writing on her website, and connect with her on Facebook and Twitter.


 

It's Giveaway Time!!



Thanks to Lulu at Kensington Publishing I have one copy of Root, Petal, Thorn to giveaway (open to US/CAN only)! All you have to do is enter your name and email address on the giveaway form HERE. Please be sure to leave both your name and your email on the form so I can contact you if you are my winner (no email address, no entry!). For extra entries you can follow the blog in various ways (links are on the right hand sidebar) and leave the name/email you follow with on the form. That's it!


Please Note: When verifying the extra entries I've noticed that some people are saying they follow me in certain ways that they, in fact, do not. I want to give extra entries to those that are actually taking the time to follow my blog, so please double check that you are in fact following me before saying you do. This verification is becoming a time consuming process so I will begin to remove all extra entries for those that I find are not being honest.

I'll use a random number generator to pick a winner on August 30th, 2016 and will announce the winner here as well as email the winner. The winner will have 48 hours to respond to my email with their mailing address. If you have already won this giveaway on another site please let me know so I can pick a new winner and give someone else a chance to win a copy of this great book.
 
 
 




Monday, August 22, 2016

Audiobook Review: The End of Everything by Megan Abbott


Publisher: Blackstone Audio, Inc.
Pub. Date: July 7th, 2011
Length: 8 hours, 31 minutes

Genres: YA / Mystery / Crime Drama / Suspense / Fiction


Synopsis



Thirteen-year-old Lizzie Hood and her next-door neighbor Evie Verver are inseparable, best friends who swap clothes, bathing suits, and field-hockey sticks and between whom-presumably-there are no secrets. Then one afternoon, Evie disappears, and as a rabid, giddy panic spreads through the balmy suburban community, everyone turns to Lizzie for answers. Was Evie unhappy, troubled, or upset? Had she mentioned being followed? Would she have gotten into the car of a stranger?

Compelled by curiosity, Lizzie takes up her own furtive pursuit of the truth. Haunted by dreams of her lost friend and titillated by her own new power at the center of the disappearance, Lizzie uncovers secret after secret and begins to wonder if she knew anything at all about her best friend.


What Did I Think About the Story?



I've never been a  huge fan of Young Adult novels, but when this Kindle/Audiobook combo went on sale I thought it sounded like an interesting enough audiobook to give a go on my commute to work. I've become quite a sucker for a good mystery, and the promise of finding out what really happened to Evie and what these characters could possibly be hiding was a huge draw. I'm glad to say the story provided me with hours of entertainment, as well as an interesting coming-of-age tale that I wasn't quite expecting.

I think the "big mystery" surrounding what really happened to Evie and the effects her disappearance has on everyone around her - especially Lizzie - and it's aftermath was well done if somewhat underwhelming from what I was expecting. It kept me listening as I was pretty sure what was unfolding was not the whole truth. Lizzie herself was such an interesting character, not only because the story is told from her point of view but because her growth outshines everything else for me, including Evie. This girl, who's in that awkward point in life when you're not really a girl but not yet a woman, thinks she knows so much about life but really knows so little and ends up making some horrific choices that change everything, all in the name of doing what she thinks is right for her best friend. I found it so sad to see Lizzie's magical illusions about her friend and her friend's family fall apart once she discovers the truth. Her innocence seems to disappear before the reader's eyes, and as everyone knows you can't un-know what you learn. This end of innocence ends up happening for more characters than just Lizzie, but it's Lizzie's struggle in growing up and facing the truths before her that I really enjoyed.  

The other big aspect that I enjoyed was the narrator herself. For me, a huge part of really enjoying an audiobook is the voice and talent of the narrator (or narrators if you're lucky enough to get more than one). The narrator of The End of Everything was phenomenal (Emily Bauer), having the perfect voice to represent a girl in her early teens. Beyond her ability to make me believe she was this young girl, she did an excellent job of keeping up a constant urgency and tension in her voice, making me feel like the strain and uncertainty always in the background of the story was going to burst open at any minute. 

At the end of the day, I found The End of Everything to be more of a coming of age story than a solid mystery. I did enjoy that we actually find out what happened to Evie, however it seemed somewhat anticlimactic compared to what I was expecting from the description. However I still found it quite enjoyable and I was impressed enough with the writing style of the author to have added more of her books to my wish list. 


What Did I Think About the Cover?



I like it, although I don't think it represents the story as well as it could. The colors are pleasant and I like the idea of one of our main girls (I like to think it's Lizzie) being sort of incapsulated in this silent world of water away from the realities actually happening around her, but I think I might be stretching to find meaning in the image.


My Rating: 3.5/5.0


I purchased the Kindle/Audible audiobook versions of The End of Everything for my own collection. You can read more reviews about the book and find links to where you can purchase your own copy on Goodreads



Saturday, August 20, 2016

Interview with M.K. Tod, Author of Time and Regret

 
I am so excited to have M.K. Tod on A Literary Vacation today! She writes wonderful historical fiction, and her  newest novel, Time and Regret, sounds phenomenal! Please enjoy her interview and continue after for  more information about Time and Regret and its lovely author.
 
 
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
 

Hello, M.K, and welcome to A Literary Vacation! To start things off, can you tell us a little bit about your newest novel, Time and Regret?



It’s wonderful to be here on your blog, Colleen. Many thanks for asking about Time and Regret. I like to think of it as Mystery + War + Romance and it’s a dual-time story with action taking place in the early 1990s as well as during World War One. Here’s the official blurb: When Grace Hansen finds a box belonging to her beloved grandfather, she has no idea it holds the key to his past—and to long buried secrets. In the box are his World War I diaries and a cryptic note addressed to her. Determine to solve her grandfather’s puzzle, Grace follows his diary entries across towns and battle sites in northern France, where she becomes increasingly drawn to a charming French man—and suddenly aware that someone is following her.
 
 
 
The concept of the novel sounds fascinating, especially the fact that the main character is following clues left by her late grandfather to discover long buried secrets from the past. Where did you come up with the idea for the story?
 
 
 
I love telling this anecdote! The idea came while travelling in northern France with my husband Ian to visit the battlefields, monuments, cemeteries, and museums dedicated to World War One. We had dinner one night at a café in the small seaside town of Honfleur. Shortly after the waiter poured our first glass of red wine, I wrote a few words in a small notebook I had with me.

“What are you writing?” Ian said.

“An idea for a story,” I replied.

Refusing to be put off by my cryptic response, Ian persisted. “What’s the idea?”

“Nothing much. Just thought it might make a good story to have a granddaughter follow the path her grandfather took during World War One in order to find out more about him.”

Ian took on a pensive look and no doubt had another sip of wine. “You could include a mystery,” he said.

Now, you should know that mysteries are my husband’s favorite genre. Indeed, I suspect mysteries represent at least eighty percent of his reading. So I played along. “What kind of mystery?”

And that was the birth of
Time & Regret, as ideas tumbled out and the basic plot took shape. Needless to say, the bottle of wine was soon empty.
 
 
What a wonderful way for a story to begin! What sort of research did you conduct when writing Time and Regret? Have you ever traveled to the locations discussed in the story before or during the writing process?


The trip I mentioned above provided a significant base of research for the novel. There is no substitute for being there, seeing the landscape, people, villages and towns; hearing the sounds of a summer night or the church bells calling parishioners to mass; smelling the food being prepared at a small café and cheeses available for sale in a market square; watching a man shrug his shoulders in that oh-so-typical French fashion. Beyond travel, I had already amassed a large collection of documents, fiction, and non-fiction books for my earlier novels and was able to reference these again. And I spent ages investigating a certain 19th battalion of the Canadian army that saw action from spring of 1915 to the end of WWI so I could accurately and authentically create scenes for my fictional character Martin Devlin.



Was there anything that shocked or surprised you during the research process? Is there anything in particular that you learned and found interesting that didn’t end up making it into the story?



Almost everything I have learned about World War One is shocking. It was truly a gruesome war with casualties in the tens of millions, however, an aspect that surprised me is the amount of time soldiers spent waiting for something to happen. And the camaraderie men found with one another was heart warming to read about. Some say that men fought more for their friends than for their countries and I can believe that statement. In some ways, anger fuelled my writing and I wrote many war scenes that are now ‘on the cutting room floor’. In terms of Grace’s more present day storyline, I found a lot of material about the New York City art world that was fascinating. But you can’t incorporate everything!


Is there anything in particular that draws you to historical fiction? Are there any particular times in history you gravitate towards or do you just enjoy history in general?


From my early teenage years, I’ve loved reading historical fiction. I love the way it transports me to another time and place and the things I learn about history. What really got me started writing this genre is a story I wanted to tell about the lives of my maternal grandparents. I’m not someone who has always wanted to write – in fact I disliked English and History in school. But when I went digging into my grandparents’ lives and the history they lived through, I became hooked on telling their story (fictionalized, of course). Since my grandfather fought in and survived WWI, I investigated that era thoroughly and felt I had to tell stories to honor those who served both on the battlefield and the home front.


What does a typical day (if there is one) look like for you? How do you balance writing with the rest of your life?


I’m incredibly fortunate to have discovered writing after thirty years in business and I’ve become obsessed with it. However, there are days when I fear that my balance is out of whack! Days when I write from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. and barely notice the passing hours. And beyond whatever novel I’m working on, I blog, conduct surveys, do book reviews and occasionally write feature articles. But then there’s life: my husband, adult children who still need their mother from time to time and whom I always want to see, and friends and family. And lately there’s a delightful grandson to spend time with. I’ve come to see writing as a balancing act – at times the balance tips towards the writing side at others to the life side. Perhaps we should recast ‘writing life’ as writing + life?
 
A lot of authors have become huge on social media, not only promoting their work but interacting with their readers and offering up giveaways, book recommendations, etc. Are you a big proponent of using social media in this way? How do you prefer to interact with your fans?
 
In today’s world readers expect to interact with authors. They get annoyed when an author hides behind their agent or publicist. As a relatively new author, I’m in the early stages of developing a fan base. Readers will find my email in each novel I have written – it’s mktod [at] bell [dot] net, by the way – plus links to me on Facebook, Twitter and Goodreads. I consider it an honor when a reader reaches out to me via any of these media and I always respond. Every few months I check Amazon and Goodreads to see if new reviews have been posted and I always thank each reader for taking time to comment on my novels, even if they’re less than enthusiastic. In general, I prefer to use social media to discuss historical fiction and to bring books I’ve enjoyed and authors I admire to the attention of other readers rather than use it as a megaphone to shout about my own novels.
 
I’ve noticed that a lot of authors are also big readers. When you have time for leisure reading what sorts of books do you gravitate towards? Have you read anything good lately?
 
Setting aside non-fiction, which I often read for research purposes, at least 80% of my reading is historical fiction. I’m diverse in terms of authors and time periods and I often choose an era or part of the world I know nothing about or I choose an author who has been mentioned as a favorite in one of my surveys. A few recent favorites: The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah, Circling the Sun by Paula McLain, The Secret Chord by Geraldine Brooks, The Lady of the Tower by Elizabeth St. John, Call to Juno by Elisabeth Storrs, and The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion.


I have most of those books on my wish list already, but I'll check out Call to Juno too! Are you working on any other books that we can look forward to reading in the future?
 
How nice of you to ask, Colleen! My next novel – working title Camille and Mariele – is set in 1870s Paris. I had no idea what a turbulent time this was in French history until I began my research and discovered the Franco-Prussian war (Prussia is now part of Germany), the siege of Paris when the Prussians who had defeated Napoleon III surrounded Paris and starved the city into submission, and the Paris Commune which followed the siege and was almost as fierce and destructive as the original French revolution. Caught in the midst of this chaos, two very different women become close friends.
 
Oh, wow, Camille and Mariele sounds so good! I had no idea 1870s Paris was so turbulent either, so now I want to know more!
Thank you so much, M.K., for stopping by! Everyone, find  more information about Time and Regret below. Enjoy!
 
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
 
Release Date: August 16, 2016
Lake Union Publishing
eBook & Paperback; 366 Pages

Genre: Historical Fiction
 

A cryptic letter. A family secret. A search for answers.


When Grace Hansen finds a box belonging to her beloved grandfather, she has no idea it holds the key to his past—and to long buried secrets. In the box are his World War I diaries and a cryptic note addressed to her. Determine to solve her grandfather’s puzzle, Grace follows his diary entries across towns and battle sites in northern France, where she becomes increasingly drawn to a charming French man—and suddenly aware that someone is following her.

From her grandfather’s vivid writing and Grace’s own travels, a picture emerges of a many very unlike the one who raised her: one who watched countless friends and loved ones die horrifically in battle; one who lived a life of regret. But her grandfather wasn’t the only one harbouring secrets, and the more Grace learns about her family, the less she thinks she can trust them.
 
 

Praise for Time and Regret

 
 
“With fluid prose and a keen eye for detail, M.K. Tod takes readers on a decades-spanning journey of wartime loss, family secrets, and, ultimately, redemption.”-- Holly Smith, Managing Editor, Washington Independent Review of Books
 

 "Spiced with mystery and a spark of romance, TIME AND REGRET is an immersive journey into one man’s brave but terrifying slog through the killing fields of France and Flanders during WWI. Tod’s prose brims with exquisite atmospheric detail, drawing the reader into an unforgettable story.
-- Juliet Grey, author of the acclaimed Marie Antoinette trilogy


"Time and Regret, equally captivating and suspenseful, presents well-drawn characters who strive to resolve past mysteries and overcome present obstacles. M.K. Tod is an impressively gifted storyteller who creates relatable conflicts and believable dangers. Highly recommended!-- Bestselling author Margaret Porter
 
 
“Hugely satisfying - impossible to put down.” -- Elizabeth St. John, author of The Lady of the Tower
 

“Time and Regret is something as rare as a treasure hunt with heart. Between the gritty trenches of World War I, the romantic allure of present-day France, and the cut-throat New York arts scene, M.K. Tod has spun a gripping family drama that delves deeply into the effects of war on the human soul and takes us on an intriguing journey of self-discovery. It is a book rich in hard-won wisdom and crucial historical insights, and Tod’s perceptive voice leads us unfalteringly through some of the darkest chapters in human history to a very satisfying conclusion." Anne Fortier, author of The Lost Sisterhood
 
 

Purchase Time and Regret

 
 
 
 

About M.K. Tod

 
 
M.K. Tod began writing while living as an expat in Hong Kong. What started as an interest in her grandparents’ lives turned into a full-time occupation writing historical fiction. Her novel Unravelled was awarded Indie Editor’s Choice by the Historical Novel Society. In addition to writing historical novels, she blogs about reading and writing historical fiction at www.awriterofhistory.com.
 
Her latest novel, TIME AND REGRET will be published by Lake Union on August 16, 2016. Mary’s other novels, LIES TOLD IN SILENCE and UNRAVELLED are available from Amazon, Nook, Kobo, Google Play and iTunes. She can be contacted on Facebook, Twitter and Goodreads or on her website www.mktod.com.

 



Friday, August 19, 2016

Spotlight on Sacred Legacy by Kat Flannery + Tour-wide Giveaway!!


Publication Date: July 31, 2016
Imajin Books
eBook & Paperback; 202 Pages

 
Series: The Branded Trilogy, Book 3
Genre: Historical/ Romance/ Western/ Paranormal



“Tsura is a Chuvani, and with that comes great power…


Desperate to escape the memories that haunt her, Tsura Harris returns to Jamestown, the very place her mother forbade her to go. A gifted Chuvani, Tsura has sworn off all magick, thus making her vulnerable to the Renoldi clan, who wish to kill her and take the pendant that is the key to her power.

Red Wolf is hell-bent on living his life on the sea, until he runs into Tsura on the docks. His pride wounded from her rejection years before, he hoped to never see her again. But when the evil Corsair, Romulus Black, demands to know where she is, Red Wolf must protect her, as is his duty.

But is duty and honor his only reason, or does Red Wolf still carry a flame of love in his heart? And will Tsura finally discover her destiny?


Praise for Sacred Legacy



“One of the few stories that captured me from beginning to end.” —USA Today bestselling author, Rosanne Bittner


Buy the Book

 
 
 

About the Author

 
 
Kat Flannery’s love of history shows in her novels. She is an avid reader of historical, suspense, paranormal, and romance. When not researching for her next book, Kat can be found running her CHASING CLOVERS has been on Amazon’s Bestsellers list many times and was #62 over all their titles. LAKOTA HONOR and BLOOD CURSE (Branded Trilogy) are Kat’s two award-winning novels and HAZARDOUS UNIONS is Kat’s first novella. Kat is currently hard at work on her next book.
three sons to hockey and lacrosse. She has her Certificate in Freelance and Business Writing. A member of many writing groups, Kat enjoys promoting other authors on her blog. She’s been published in numerous periodicals. Her debut novel

For more information please visit Kat Flannery’s website. You can find Kat on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.


It's Giveaway Time!!

 

To enter the Sacred Legacy Giveaway for a $100 Amazon Gift Card, please see the GLEAM form HERE.

Rules

Giveaway ends at 11:59pm EST on August 19th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
 
Giveaway is open internationally.
 
Only one entry per household.
 
All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspect of fraud is decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion.
 
Winner has 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.
 
 
Good Luck!
 

Sacred Legacy Blog Tour Schedule

 
 
Sunday, July 31

Tour Kick Off at Passages to the Past

Monday, August 1

Review at Oh, for the Hook of a Book!

Wednesday, August 3

Review at History From a Woman’s Perspective

Friday, August 5

Review at Back Porchervations

Wednesday, August 10

Review at The Book Junkie Reads

Thursday, August 11

Spotlight at Book Nerd

Monday, August 15

Review at The Silver Dagger Scriptorium

Wednesday, August 17

Guest Post at The Silver Dagger Scriptorium

Thursday, August 18

Spotlight at CelticLady’s Reviews

Friday, August 19

Spotlight at A Literary Vacation



 
 
 


Thursday, August 18, 2016

Release Day Spotlight on Sting by Sandra Brown


Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Pub. Date: August 16th, 2016
Pages: 416


 #1 New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Sandra Brown jolts the reader from the first page of this heart-pounding story of corruption, treachery, and ceaseless deception . . . where nothing is what it seems and every truth brought to light exposes a darker lie.


When Jordie Bennet and Shaw Kinnard lock eyes across a disreputable backwater bar, something definitely sparks. Shaw gives off a dangerous vibe that makes men wary and inspires women to sit up and take notice. None feel that undercurrent more strongly than savvy businesswoman Jordie, who doesn't belong in a seedy dive on the banks of a bayou. But here she is . . . and Shaw Kinnard is here to kill her.

As Shaw and his partner take aim, Jordie is certain her time has come. But Shaw has other plans and abducts Jordie, hoping to get his hands on the $30 million her brother has stolen and, presumably, hidden. However, Shaw is not the only one looking for the fortune. Her brother's ruthless boss and the FBI are after it as well. Now on the run from the feds and a notorious criminal, Jordie and Shaw must rely on their wits-and each other-to stay alive.

Miles away from civilization and surrounded by swampland, the two play each other against their common enemies. Jordie's only chance of survival is to outwit Shaw, but it soon becomes clear to Shaw that Jordie isn't entirely trustworthy, either. Was she in on her brother's scam, or is she an innocent pawn in a deadly vendetta? And just how valuable is her life to Shaw, her remorseless and manipulative captor? Burning for answers-and for each other-this unlikely pair ultimately make a desperate move that could be their last.

With nonstop plot twists and the tantalizing sexual tension that has made Sandra Brown one of the world's best-loved authors, STING will keep readers on the edge of their seats until the final pages.


Buy the Book

 
 
 

About the Author

 
 
Sandra Brown is the author of over sixty-eight New York Times bestsellers. There are over eighty million copies of her books in print worldwide, and her work has been translated into thirty-four languages. She lives in Texas. For more information you can visit her website, and connect with her on Twitter and Facebook.
 

 

Click HERE To Read The Prologue