Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Interview with Erin Marie Bernardo, author of Scent of the Past

Please join me in welcoming Erin Marie Bernardo, author of the historical fiction novel Scent of the Past, to A Literary Vacation!

Hello, Erin, and welcome! Thank you for stopping by and sharing your thoughts with us. To start us off, have you always been a writer?


I suppose so. I remember writing from an early age. I always kept a journal, wrote poetry, and more often than not found myself writing short stories when I was bored, or on long road trips. I can even recount a few scripted puppet shows for the neighbors. It was a means to pass the time, but ultimately I wrote because I enjoyed it. However I never intentionally set out to become an author. It never crossed my mind as an option. It just happened.
 
 
That's amazing. When do you get time to write?


After midnight when my household is asleep.
 
 
Wow, that's dedication! Can you tell us what your writing process looks like?
 
 
I have had many authors tell me to write every day, even if it is for 30 minutes. Unfortunately my brain is not wired that way. I need to immerse myself in the story every time I sit down—think about my characters, reread a few chapters, research a few things—to open the creative pathway. Once I get going I like to write continuously without interruption for two to three hours.
 
 
I know most writers are also big readers. Who are some of your favorite authors?


I had the pleasure once of planning an event for Jodi Picoult, and she was absolutely lovely. She is a huge influence in the world of fiction and cannot go unrecognized. I am also a huge fan of the Australian author Kate Morton.
 
 
Picoult and Morton are two of my favorites as well. What books have influenced your life the most?
 

Most of the books that I would consider influential I read as a child. These all made an impact on me in some shape or form, and I would consider them my foundation.

The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett
The Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder
Watership Down by Richard Adams
Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery
A Light in the Attic by Shel Silverstein
Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell


 
What do you enjoy doing when you're not writing?
 
 
My family and I live on a small hobby farm. I have chickens, goats and even a milk cow. When I am not working, or writing, or being a mom, I enjoy spending time around our property. Collecting eggs with the kids, riding 4-wheelers through the pasture or working in my [usually overgrown] vegetable garden. I am very committed to sustainable farming and an organic way of life, so if I can find time to can my own produce or source healthier food options you’ll find a happy mama in me as well.
 

What is your next novel about? Can you share?



Blackbird’s Bounty is another historical fiction novel that crosses planes between the past and the present. It is not a time-travel book like Scent of the Past, but rather connects present day with events that happened in the mid-1800s. The story—about a ghost— is set a few years before the start of the Civil War on a prestigious sugarcane plantation in Louisiana. If you enjoyed Scent of the Past, you will undoubtedly love Blackbird’s Bounty.”
 
 
Thank you so much for taking the time to share your thoughts with us, Erin! Everyone, please continue below for more information about Erin and her novel, Scent of the Past!
 
  
Publisher: Scent of the Past
Pub. Date: March 31st, 2016
Pages: 314
 
Genres: Historical Fiction/Dual Timeline/Time Travel
 

A secret diary. A forgotten past. Another time.


When people think of time travel, they think of the clichéd manufactured kind. Of giant electronic machines with flashing lights and buttons calibrated to shoot you into the past with one press. But it doesn’t work that way. You need a reason, a connection, and—most important—a link. But you can’t choose when and why you go. That would be too easy, and we’d all be snapping our fingers in hopes of seeing lost treasures of yesteryear. It must choose you.

Close cousins Addison and Elissa live in present day New York City and lead somewhat ordinary lives. When uncertain circumstances surrounding a set of antique perfume bottles sends them back to eighteenth-century France, they must uncover the truth behind their travel.

Disaster strikes when Addison finds herself in a nearly identical situation to a mishap she experienced in the present—the witnessing of a murder and release of a secret. Only this time the truth could destroy the entire French monarchy. With Addison’s head on the line, the young women search for answers before Addison suffers her unlucky fate twice. It is only when they discover the haunting connections to life in the present, that they understand why they both were sent, and why a repeating past...may not always be such a bad thing.
 
 

Buy the Book

 
 
 

About the Author

 
 
Photo Credit: MyHoney Photography

Erin Marie Bernardo is an American writer of historical fiction. She has a degree in Communication Studies from the University of Minnesota, and is the author of the time-travel novel, Scent of the Past. A lover of historic places and days forgotten, Erin's novels connect the past with the present.

Erin is currently at work on her second novel, Blackbird's Bounty, set in the bayou of Louisiana – and is actively seeking a home for her children’s collection, Beautiful and Extraordinary Barnyard Stories, based on true events from on her farm.

Erin lives in Tennessee, but has roots in both Minnesota and Washington State. She is married with two young children.
 
Find out more about Erin on her website, and connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
 
 




Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Spotlight on Blood Moon: A Captive's Tale by Ruth Hull Chatlien + Tour-Wide Giveaway!!

Publisher: Amika Press
Pub. Date: June 14, 2017
Pages: 424 Pages

Genre: Historical Fiction


READ AN EXCERPT


Southern Minnesota, August 1862. Smoke fills the horizon and blood soaks the prairie as the Sioux fight to drive white settlers from their ancestral homeland. Sarah Wakefield and her young son and baby daughter are fleeing for their lives when two warriors capture them. One is Hapa, who intends to murder them. The other is Chaska, an old acquaintance who promises to protect the family. Chaska shelters them in his mother’s tepee, but with emotions running so high among both Indians and whites, the danger only intensifies. As she struggles to protect herself and those she loves, Sarah is forced to choose between doing what others expect of her and following her own deep beliefs.


Praise for Blood Moon



“Chatlien’s mastery of the historical period—especially the life and culture of the Sioux—is notable and creates a fictional atmosphere of authenticity. A subtle dramatization of the conflict between white settlers and Native Americans in the 19th century.” – Kirkus Reviews

“Richly detailed, Blood Moon is an intrepid tale of bravery and adventure in America’s western frontiers. Perfect for fans of immersive historical fiction.” – Stephanie Thornton, author of The Tiger Queens and The Conqueror’s Wife

“An engrossing tale of struggle and justice-of friendship, mercy, and a rare, moving love. Ruth Hull Chatlien writes with great sensitivity and vivid yet subtle prose. Blood Moon is a must-read for fans of western novels, as well as women’s historical fiction.” -Libbie Hawker, author of Tidewater


Buy the Book


 
 

About the Author



Ruth Hull Chatlien has been a writer and editor of educational materials for nearly thirty years, specializing in U.S. and world history. She is the author of Modern American Indian Leaders for middle-grade readers. Her award-winning first novel, The Ambitious Madame Bonaparte, portrays the tumultuous life of Elizabeth “Betsy” Patterson Bonaparte. Her latest novel, Blood Moon: A Captive’s Tale, is now available for pre-order.

She lives in northeastern Illinois with her husband, Michael, and a very pampered dog named Smokey. When she’s not writing, she can usually be found gardening, knitting, drawing, painting, or watching football.

For more information please visit Ruth’s website. You can also connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads. Sign up for Ruth’s newsletter here.


It's Giveaway Time!!

 

During the Blog Tour we will be giving away 5 copies of Blood Moon: A Captive’s Tale and two $25 Amazon Gift Cards! To enter, please enter via the Gleam form HERE.

Giveaway Rules

– Giveaway ends at 11:59pm EST on September 8th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
– Giveaway is open to residents in the US & Canada 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.
 
 

HFVBT Schedule for Blood Moon

 

Monday, August 7

 Review at A Bookish Affair

Tuesday, August 8

 Excerpt at Let Them Read Books

Wednesday, August 9

 Interview at The Book Junkie Reads

Monday, August 14

 Review at Oh, for the Hook of a Book!

Tuesday, August 15

 Spotlight at A Literary Vacation

Wednesday, August 16

 Spotlight at Cafinated Reads

Thursday, August 17

 Review at Beth’s Book Nook Blog

Monday, August 21

 Review at Must Read Faster

Friday, August 25

 Review at Svetlana’s Reads and Views

Monday, August 28

 Review at Book Nerd

Tuesday, August 29

 Spotlight at CelticLady’s Reviews

Thursday, August 31

 Review at Jorie Loves a Story

Friday, September 1

 Review at Broken Teepee
 Interview & Excerpt at Jorie Loves a Story

Thursday, September 7

 Review at Locks, Hooks, and Books

Friday, September 8

 Spotlight at Passages to the Past



 
 
 




Monday, August 14, 2017

New Release Spotlight on Seeing Red by Sandra Brown

Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Pub. Date: August 15th, 2017
Pages: 432

Genres: Contemporary Fiction / Mystery / Thriller / Romantic Suspense


#1 New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Sandra Brown delivers her trademark nonstop suspense and supercharged sexual tension in this thriller about tainted heroism, cold fury, and vengeance without mercy.



Kerra Bailey is a television journalist on the rise, and she's hot on the trail of a story guaranteed to skyrocket her career to even greater heights: an interview with the legendary Major Trapper. Twenty-five years ago, the Major emerged a hero from the bombing of the Pegasus Hotel in downtown Dallas when he was photographed leading a handful of survivors out of the collapsing building. The iconic picture transformed him into a beloved national icon, in constant demand for speeches and interviews--until he suddenly dropped out of the public eye, shunning all members of the media. However, Kerra is willing to use any means necessary to get to the Major--even if she has to wrangle an introduction from his estranged son, former ATF agent John Trapper.

Still seething over his break with both the ATF and his father, John Trapper wants no association with the hotel bombing or his hero father, and spurns the meddling reporters determined to drag them back into the limelight. Yet Kerra's sheer audacity and tantalizing hints that there's more to the story rouse Trapper's interest despite himself. And when her interview of a lifetime goes catastrophically awry--with unknown assailants targeting not only the Major, but also Kerra--Trapper realizes he needs her under wraps if he's going to track down the gunmen before they strike again . . . as well as discover, finally, who was responsible for the Pegasus bombing.

Kerra is wary of a man so charming one moment and dangerous the next, and she knows Trapper is withholding evidence collected during his ATF investigation into the bombing. But having no one else to trust and enemies lurking closer than they know, Kerra and Trapper join forces and risk their very lives to expose a sinuous network of lies and conspiracy running deep through Texas--and uncover who would want a national hero dead.


Buy the Book

 
 
 

About the Author

 
 
Photo Credit: Andrew Eccles
Sandra Brown is the author of 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.
 
 
You can find out more about Sandra on her website, and can connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.
 
 
 
 
 
 

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Cover Crush: The History of Bees by Maja Lunde

Hello, my name is Colleen and I am a cover slut. I know, I know....you aren't supposed to judge a book by it's cover. I just can't help myself! A beautiful cover draws my eye every single time and I can't help but pick up the book it's dressing and see if the inside seems as intriguing as the outside. Sometimes it does, and sometimes a pretty cover is just a pretty cover. Either way, I love getting an eyeful!


One of my favorite bloggers, Erin at
Flashlight Commentary, created a weekly blog post called Cover Crush and she and some other blogger friends are sharing their favorite covers each Thursday. I've decided to join in this year and will link to their posts down below.


So, without further ado, my Cover Crush this week is.....
 
 
 
 
Seriously, how gorgeous is this cover?! I mean, where do I start? The intricately drawn vines and leaves? The luminescent bees fluttering around? The heavy sprinkling of pollen that appears to fall over all of it? It's simply stunning! I'm not a big fan of bees, but looking at this cover I might become one!
 
 
While I think it's safe to say this book has something to do with bees, let's see what else we can look forward to discovering behind this beautiful artwork...
 
 
In the spirit of Station Eleven and Never Let Me Go, this dazzling and ambitious literary debut follows three generations of beekeepers from the past, present, and future, weaving a spellbinding story of their relationship to the bees and to their children and one another against the backdrop of an urgent, global crisis.


England, 1852. William is a biologist and seed merchant, who sets out to build a new type of beehive one that will give both him and his children honor and fame.

United States, 2007. George is a beekeeper fighting an uphill battle against modern farming, but hopes that his son can be their salvation.

China, 2098. Tao hand paints pollen onto the fruit trees now that the bees have long since disappeared. When Tao's young son is taken away by the authorities after a tragic accident, she sets out on a grueling journey to find out what happened to him.

Haunting, illuminating, and deftly written, The History of Bees joins these three very different narratives into one gripping and thought-provoking story that is just as much about the powerful bond between children and parents as it is about our very relationship to nature and humanity."
 

Don't forget to check out what covers my blogger buddies are drooling over this week (updated as they become available):


Magdalena at A Bookaholic Swede
Meghan at Of Quills & Vellum
Erin at Flashlight Commentary
Heather at The Maiden's Court
Stephanie at Layered Pages
Holly at 2 Kids and Tired




Created by Magdalena of A Bookaholic Swede

 

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Release Day Spotlight on The Color of Fear by Marcia Muller

Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Pub. Date: August 8th, 2017
Pages: 380
 
Genres: Mystery / Suspense / Thriller / Crime Fiction


In New York Times bestselling author Marcia Muller's captivating new mystery, private detective Sharon McCone's investigation hits closer to home than ever before...


When a knock on the door in the middle of the night wakes Sharon, she's wholly unprepared for the horrifying news: her father has been the victim of a vicious, racially-motivated attack.

A nationally recognized Shoshone artist, Elwood had been visiting Sharon for the holidays, browsing for gifts in San Francisco's exclusive Marina district when he was set upon by a mob of angry young men. Now he lies in a coma, hovering between life and death.

With little progress on the investigation from the overworked, short-handed police, Sharon resolves to track down Elwood's attackers herself. But when Sharon begins receiving hate-filled, racist threats from a shadowy group, it becomes clear that her pursuit of justice may be putting her own life in jeopardy…


Advanced Praise for The Color of Fear



"Outstanding...[an] exciting climax.” —Publisher's Weekly (STARRED REVIEW)

"Her stories crackle like few others on the mystery landscape.” —San Francisco Examiner & Chronicle

"Muller has created a delicious mixture of adventure, action, altruism, pathos with a touch of humor, and romance thrown in to build a massive base of loyal fans . . . She is one of those rare series authors who never lets her characters grow stale or trite.” —BookReporter.com

"Muller undoubtedly remains one of today's best mystery writers.” —Associated Press


Buy the Book

 
 
 

About the Author 

 
 
Marcia Muller has written many novels and short stories. She has won six Anthony Awards, a .
Shamus Award, and is also the recipient of the Private Eye Writers of America's Lifetime Achievement Award as well as the Mystery Writers of America Grand Master Award (their highest accolade). She lives in northern California with her husband, mystery writer Bill Pronzini
 
You can find out more about Marcia on her website and connect with her on Facebook.


 
 

Monday, August 7, 2017

TLC Book Review: The Cottingley Secret by Hazel Gaynor

Publisher: William Morrow
Pub. Date: August 1, 2017
Pages: 416

Genre: Historical Fiction / Brit Lit / Magical Realism


Synopsis



One of BookBub's Most-Anticipated Books of Summer 2017!


The New York Times bestselling author of The Girl Who Came Home turns the clock back one hundred years to a time when two young girls from Cottingley, Yorkshire, convinced the world that they had done the impossible and photographed fairies in their garden. Now, in her newest novel, international bestseller Hazel Gaynor reimagines their story.


1917… It was inexplicable, impossible, but it had to be true—didn’t it? When two young cousins, Frances Griffiths and Elsie Wright from Cottingley, England, claim to have photographed fairies at the bottom of the garden, their parents are astonished. But when one of the great novelists of the time, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, becomes convinced of the photographs’ authenticity, the girls become a national sensation, their discovery offering hope to those longing for something to believe in amid a world ravaged by war. Frances and Elsie will hide their secret for many decades. But Frances longs for the truth to be told.

One hundred years later… When Olivia Kavanagh finds an old manuscript in her late grandfather’s bookshop she becomes fascinated by the story it tells of two young girls who mystified the world. But it is the discovery of an old photograph that leads her to realize how the fairy girls’ lives intertwine with hers, connecting past to present, and blurring her understanding of what is real and what is imagined. As she begins to understand why a nation once believed in fairies, can Olivia find a way to believe in herself?


What Did I Think About the Story?



Even though I've always been a pretty logic-based person, I will admit that I've got a soft spot for stories about fairies or, at the very least, for the idea of these magical and mischievous creatures.  A year or so after graduating from high school I went to visit family in Scotland and, while the whole country is simply enchanting, nothing was more so than the Isle of Skye. On Skye is a place called the Fairy Glen and, let me just tell you, it exudes such as otherworldly feeling that it's not hard to imagine that fairies, gnomes, and the like might possibly be peaking at you, just out of sight. It's been years since I've been there but I've never forgotten about it and can't wait to someday go back!

With this being said, imagine my excitement when I first caught sight of the cover for The Cottingley Secret and, after being totally drawn in by that cover, read on to discover it was about the possible discovery of fairies! I will admit that, as much as I love history, especially British History, I had never heard of the Cottingley fairies or the controversy that surrounded them. Were they real? Were the two girls who claimed to photograph them actually passing off a huge hoax? Once I read the synopsis I was hooked and new I needed to dig into this story to discover as much as I could about these Cottingley fairies and to see how that story would relate to the one told in the present time period.

While I own a number of novels by Hazel Gaynor this was, in fact, my first reading of her work. Now that I'm done with the story I want to kick myself for waiting so long. Gaynor's writing was absolutely beautiful and her descriptions of both the gardens and woodlands in Cottingley and the seaside town in Ireland where Olivia's story mostly takes place are absolutely breathtaking. I was fully transported to these bewitching locales and I admit I didn't really want to leave. Especially when it came to Olivia's setting: what booklover wouldn't give an arm and a leg to own a seaside cottage bookstore in Ireland, one that sells rare and old books no less?! Can't you just smell the delicious scents of old leather and vanilla? When I was immersed within The Cottingley Secret I sure could!

I'm not going to ruin anything by saying here whether Frances and Elise really saw fairies or whether their photographs were authentic or not, but what I will say is that I absolutely love how Gaynor presented this bewitching dilemma. The fact that the photos came into being at a time when so many hoped and wished that they could be true - if for no other reason than that meant that there was the possibility of other dimensions where their loved ones, lost in the war or by some other event, might exist - made the truth something of a moot point. Still, how exciting would it be if they were real? What would you do, if you were the person who discovered them, to prove you were telling the truth? All of this and more is contemplated within these pages and I, for one, absolutely loved going along for the journey.

Something else I really enjoyed was discovering how these two storylines were connected. I will admit that I had an idea of how some of the characters were connected, however there were still quite a few I didn't see and that made my overall appreciation of the story that much stronger. I found it all quite touching, especially Olivia's situation and her journey towards finding herself again and becoming happy, and I can't really think of any better way everything could have come together.

The Cottingley Secret has it all: excellent, well developed characters, stunning locations, memorable and touching stories. There's even a wonderful P.S. section at the back that includes author's notes, a note written by Frances's daughter, and the photos that started so much controversy. I absolutely love this story and plan on making time to read lots more by Hazel Gaynor. Highly recommended!


What Did I Think About the Cover?



This might be my favorite cover of the year! When I began posting Cover Crushes every Thursday earlier this year this was actually my very first choice...how could it not be?! With that storybook cottage, dense and twisty plants, and overall haziness I can see why someone would look at this view and think fairies do exist. Absolutely breathtaking cover!


My Rating: 5.0/5.0


 Thank you to HarperCollins Publishing and TLC Book Tours for providing me with a free copy of The Cottingley Secret in exchange for an honest review. Continue on below for more information about the book, the author, and the tour!
 
 

Advance Praise for The Cottingley Secret

 
 
“Beautifully written and expertly researched, Gaynor’s latest is a look at one of history’s most intriguing mysteries and an important reminder of the power of belief.”—Booklist *Starred* Review

“[Gaynor] creates a lovely meditation on the power of belief and hope.”—Kirkus

“The characters are charming and enigmatic…Gaynor does a terrific job intermixing fact with fiction in The Cottingley Secret.”—RT Book Reviews

“The Cottingley Secret tells the tale of two girls who somehow convince the world that magic exists. An artful weaving of old legends with new realities, this tale invites the reader to wonder: could it be true?”—Kate Alcott, New York Times bestselling author of The Dressmaker

“There is real magic in these pages. And beauty. And heart.”—Nicole Mary Kelby, author of The Pink Suit

“I adored The Cottingley Secret, which shifts between a bookstore in present-day Ireland and an actual account from the World War I era of two girls who claimed to have seen fairies—and Captured them on film. Gaynor has penned in majestic prose an enchanting and enthralling tale of childhood magic, forgotten dreams, and finding the parts of ourselves we thought were lost forever.”—Pam Jenoff, New York Times bestselling author of The Orphan’s Tale

“Richly imagined and terrifically enchanting, Hazel Gaynor’s The Cottingley Secret is an enthralling tale where memories serve as lifelines for the living, and the unseen is made real. Reading this novel is akin to finding hidden treasure—each character, a friend; each chapter, a revelation.”—Ami McKay, author of The Witches of New York
 
 

Buy the Book

 
 
 

About the Author

 
 
Photo by Deasy Photographic
HAZEL GAYNOR is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of A Memory of Violets and The Girl Who Came Home, for which she received the 2015 RNA Historical Novel of the Year award. Her third novel The Girl from the Savoy was an Irish Times and Globe & Mail Canada bestseller, and was shortlisted for the BGE Irish Book Awards Popular Fiction Book of the Year. The Cottingley Secret and Last Christmas in Paris will be published in 2017.

Hazel was selected by US Library Journal as one of ‘Ten Big Breakout Authors’ for 2015 and her work has been translated into several languages.

Originally from Yorkshire, England, Hazel now lives in Ireland.

Find out more about Hazel at her website, and connect with her on Facebook and Twitter.
 
 

The Cottingley Secret Blog Tour Schedule



Tuesday, August 1st: View from the Birdhouse
Wednesday, August 2nd: 100 Pages a Day…Stephanie’s Book Reviews
Wednesday, August 2nd: A Bookish Affair
Thursday, August 3rd: Reading is My Super Power
Thursday, August 3rd: Book by Book
Friday, August 4th: A Splendidly Messy Life
Monday, August 7th: No More Grumpy Bookseller
Monday, August 7th: A Literary Vacation
Tuesday, August 8th: Tina Says…
Wednesday, August 9th: Just Commonly
Thursday, August 10th: Ms. Nose in a Book
Friday, August 11th: Dwell in Possibility
Monday, August 14th: Let Them Read Books
Tuesday, August 15th: A Chick Who Reads
Wednesday, August 16th: I Wish I Lived in a Library
 

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Cover Crush: Fierce Kingdom by Gin Phillips

Hello, my name is Colleen and I am a cover slut. I know, I know....you aren't supposed to judge a book by it's cover. I just can't help myself! A beautiful cover draws my eye every single time and I can't help but pick up the book it's dressing and see if the inside seems as intriguing as the outside. Sometimes it does, and sometimes a pretty cover is just a pretty cover. Either way, I love getting an eyeful!

One of my favorite bloggers, Erin at
Flashlight Commentary, created a weekly blog post called Cover Crush and she and some other blogger friends are sharing their favorite covers each Thursday. I've decided to join in this year and will link to their posts down below.

So, without further ado, my Cover Crush this week is.....
 
 
 
 
I love the textural feeling of this cover! It is taking everything in me not to continually try to reach out and pluck at the little carousel horses and metal bands attached to them. And there's something about the colors, font, and general starkness of the cover that makes me think there's something sinister happening between the pages. Add to this the endorsement by Fiona Barton - who's novel, The Child, I recently read and really enjoyed - and I'm sold!
 
Maybe the synopsis will draw us in even  more....
 
 
“It tore at every maternal fiber in my body. I couldn’t put it down.” —Fiona Barton, New York Times bestselling author of The Widow

An electrifying novel about the primal and unyielding bond between a mother and her son, and the lengths she’ll go to protect him.

The zoo is nearly empty as Joan and her four-year-old son soak up the last few moments of playtime. They are happy, and the day has been close to perfect. But what Joan sees as she hustles her son toward the exit gate minutes before closing time sends her sprinting back into the zoo, her child in her arms. And for the next three hours—the entire scope of the novel—she keeps on running.

Joan’s intimate knowledge of her son and of the zoo itself—the hidden pathways and under-renovation exhibits, the best spots on the carousel and overstocked snack machines—is all that keeps them a step ahead of danger.

A masterful thrill ride and an exploration of motherhood itself—from its tender moments of grace to its savage power—Fierce Kingdom asks where the boundary is between our animal instinct to survive and our human duty to protect one another. For whom should a mother risk her life?



Don't forget to check out what covers my blogger buddies are drooling over this week (updated as they become available):


Magdalena at A Bookaholic Swede
Meghan at Of Quills & Vellum
Erin at Flashlight Commentary
Heather at The Maiden's Court
Stephanie at Layered Pages
Holly at 2 Kids and Tired




Created by Magdalena of A Bookaholic Swede
 
 
 

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Review: The Alice Network by Kate Quinn

Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks
Pub. Date: June 6th, 2017
Pages: 528


Genre: Historical Fiction / Dual Timelines

Synopsis



In an enthralling new historical novel from national bestselling author Kate Quinn, two women—a female spy recruited to the real-life Alice Network in France during World War I and an unconventional American socialite searching for her cousin in 1947—are brought together in a mesmerizing story of courage and redemption.


1947. In the chaotic aftermath of World War II, American college girl Charlie St. Clair is pregnant, unmarried, and on the verge of being thrown out of her very proper family. She's also nursing a desperate hope that her beloved cousin Rose, who disappeared in Nazi-occupied France during the war, might still be alive. So when Charlie's parents banish her to Europe to have her "little problem" taken care of, Charlie breaks free and heads to London, determined to find out what happened to the cousin she loves like a sister.

1915. A year into the Great War, Eve Gardiner burns to join the fight against the Germans and unexpectedly gets her chance when she's recruited to work as a spy. Sent into enemy-occupied France, she's trained by the mesmerizing Lili, the "Queen of Spies", who manages a vast network of secret agents right under the enemy's nose.

Thirty years later, haunted by the betrayal that ultimately tore apart the Alice Network, Eve spends her days drunk and secluded in her crumbling London house. Until a young American barges in uttering a name Eve hasn't heard in decades, and launches them both on a mission to find the truth...no matter where it leads.


What Did I Think About the Story?



Full disclosure: I am a super fan of Kate Quinn. She is the gold standard when it comes to historical fiction and I've never been disappointed with anything she's written. I'm continuously amazed at how she makes me love her witty and emotive characters and how hard it is to pull myself out of the all-consuming worlds she builds and allows me to inhabit for the duration of her stories. It is pure magic - which is saying something given the realistic and often quite horrific situations she sets her characters within - and I get a little shiver whenever I'm about to start a new book of hers. It's probably unnecessary to say, but I adored her newest novel, The Alice Network, and feel somewhat bereft now that I've left Eve, Charlie, and Finn behind.

One of the great wonders of Quinn's writing is her ability to wholly and convincingly build these beautiful, realistic, and often devastating settings while also creating these complex, combative yet loving (most of the time) characters to populate those settings. So often authors seem better at one component or the other, but Quinn has mastered both elements and it makes for the ultimate experience, especially given she writes  historical fiction. Not being able to physically go back in time and witness these awe-inspiring and sometimes dangerous time periods, her novels are the next best thing.

The chapters of The Alice Network alternate between Eve's POV in 1915 and Charlie's in 1947. This not only helps build the character development (especially Eve as she's quite broken - emotionally and physically - when we see her in 1947 and going back to 1915 slowly shows us what happened) but builds the plot momentum and anxiety as huge and horrific things begin happening in these women's lives and right when one shoes drops we switch to the other timeline and have to wait to find out what happens next! This bait and switch model is delicious and begs the reader to read just one more chapter until you find you've been reading for much longer then intended.  

I was amazed at how much Charlie and Eve have in common given their very different experiences and upbringing. Both women are exceptionally smart, determined, and fiery tempered and both push against the constraints placed on women during the time periods they inhabit. On top of that, neither give a damn about what anyone thinks of them or their choices and both seem drawn to calm yet passionate Scotsman. Both women go through some devastating experiences and losses that would make even the stoniest heart ache for them. They are both also on their own mission to find someone who has been lost to them - one a much loved person and the other the ultimate enemy - and all I'll tell you is only one is found alive. Now don't you want to pick up the book and find out what I'm talking about?!

Something else I love about The Alice Network in particular is the extensive and thoughtful Author's Notes at the back of the book. Quinn goes into great detail about the truth behind the story and the characters as well as where she condensed or altered information for the purpose of story flow. There's also a P.S. section with real letters and trial records related to the story, reading group questions, and further reading. These sorts of sections are so important when it comes to historical fiction, at least for me, and I delighted in seeing just how much of the story was factual....you can't make some of this stuff up!

The Alice Network is heartbreaking and heartwarming historical fiction that is sure to delight any reader. While I would recommend all of the novels of Kate Quinn in general, this novel in particular is a great place to start if you've never read her novels before. Pick it up, love it, and place it on your "favorites" shelf as I've done with all of Kate's books!   


What Do I Think About the Cover?



It's gorgeous! You can't tell from the photo, but the cover is slightly textured and is thick with folded end pieces (sort of like the dust jacket of a hardback). This, combined, with the deckled page edges, makes the book seem substantial and somehow aged (if that makes sense!). The cover art itself is beautiful as well and fits the story perfectly. Love, love, love!


My Rating: 5.0/5.0

 
Thank you to author Kate Quinn and HarperCollins for providing me with a free copy of The Alice Network in exchange for an honest review! Find more information about the book below.
 
 

My Reviews of Kate Quinn's Other Stories

 
 
 
 

Praise for The Alice  Network

 
 
“Told through the lens of two very different women, the eras unfold separately and then collide with shocking results. Lovingly crafted and brimming with details, readers are sure to be held in Quinn’s grip watching as the characters evolve. Powerful reading you can’t put down!”—RT Book Reviews, 4.5 star, “Top Pick”


“Both funny and heartbreaking, this epic journey of two courageous women is an unforgettable tale of little-known wartime glory and sacrifice. Quinn knocks it out of the park with this spectacular book!”—Stephanie Dray, New York Times bestselling author of America's First Daughter


“The Alice Network... perfectly balances a propulsive plot, faultlessly observed period detail, and a cast of characters so vividly drawn that I half expected to blink and see them standing in front of me. This is historical fiction at its best--thrilling, affecting, revelatory.”—Jennifer Robson, international bestselling author of Moonlight Over Paris


“Kate Quinn delivers an enthralling tale filled with breath-taking narrative that will make the reader feel as if they’re in the back of the roadster, riding along with the raucous Eve and courageous Charlie on their clandestine adventures. Suspenseful and engrossing, THE ALICE NETWORK is a must-read!”—Heather Webb, author of Rodin's Lover


“A ring of daring female spies known as the Alice Network left a legacy of blood and betrayal. Two women suffering the losses of two different wars must join forces, one to find her voice and her redemption, the other to face her fears and her oldest enemy. Kate Quinn strums the chords of every human emotion with two storylines that race over continents and through decades to converge in one explosive ending.”—Marci Jefferson, author of Enchantress of Paris


"A powerful story filled with daring and intrigue, The Alice Network will hook readers from the first page and take them on an unforgettable journey."—Chanel Cleeton, author of Next Year in Havana
 
 

Buy the Book

 
 

Check Out the Book Trailer!!

 
 

 
You can also watch the amazing interview between Kate Quinn and Reese Witherspoon (yes, you read that correctly!) for the RW Book Club online HERE.
 
 

About the Author

 
 
KATE QUINN is a native of southern California. She attended Boston University, where she earned a Bachelor's and Master's degree in Classical Voice. A lifelong history buff, she has written four novels in the Empress of Rome Saga, and two books in the Italian Renaissance detailing the early years of the infamous Borgia clan. All have been translated into multiple languages. She and her husband now live in Maryland with two black dogs named Caesar and Calpurnia.

To learn more about Kate check out her website, and connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.






 

Monday, July 31, 2017

Spotlight on Casanova's Secret Wife by Barbara Lynn Davis

Publication Date: July 25, 2017
Publisher: Kensington Books
304 Pages

Genre: Fiction/Historical/Biographical



Set in eighteenth-century Venice and based on an actual account by Giacomo Casanova—here is a lush tale of desire and risk.


Caterina Capreta was an innocent girl of fourteen when she caught the attention of the world’s most infamous chronicler of seduction: Giacomo Casanova. Intoxicated by a fierce love, she wed Casanova in secret. But his shocking betrayal inspired her to commit an act that would mark her forever …

Now twenty years later on the island of Murano, the woman in possession of Caterina’s most devastating secret has appeared with a request she cannot refuse: to take in a noble-born girl whose scandalous love affair resembles her own. But the girl’s presence stirs up unwelcome memories of Caterina’s turbulent past. Tested like never before, she reveals the story of the man she will never forget.

Bringing to life a fascinating chapter in the history of Venice, Casanova’s Secret Wife is a tour de force that charts one woman’s journey through love and loss to redemption.


Praise for Casanova's Secret Wife



“Lynn-Davis admirably incorporates historical detail into this page-turning drama of mystery, love, and loss….Yet the standout is her depiction of Casanova – Lynn-Davis clearly enjoys crafting a real-life character who stands apart from the legend, making him the book’s most enduring character.” – Publishers Weekly

“Lynn-Davis debuts with a fascinating story based on the notorious lover Giacomo Casanova’s writings. With Venice as the romantic backdrop and young love as its focus, this stunning tale of passion, betrayal and redemption is a richly woven tapestry of Casanova’s early life. By bringing little known history to life, Lynn-Davis delivers an unforgettable love story, centering not only on Casanova, but two women who share the beauty of love and the pain of loss; one will find salvation and the other true happiness.”- RT Book Reviews, 4 Stars

“Full of passion and rich historical detail . . . an enthralling read, impossible to put down.” –Phyllis T. Smith, bestselling author

“This is Venice beneath the mask: A dark and fascinating love story hiding in the shadows of the golden city.” –Marina Fiorato, bestselling author of The Glassblower of Murano

“Seductive and unforgettable” –Harmony Verna, author of Daughter of Australia

“Breathtaking, beautiful . . . will mesmerize readers.” –Rosanna Chiofalo, author of Stella Mia


Buy the Book

 
 

About the Author

 
 

Barbara Lynn-Davis graduated from Brown University with a degree in art history. She then worked at the Peggy Guggenheim Museum in Venice and later spent a year there while completing her Ph.D. in Renaissance art at Princeton University.

She currently teaches art history and writing at Wellesley College, and lives outside Boston with her family.

For more information please visit Barbara Lynn-Davis’ website. You can also connect with her on Facebook and Goodreads.

 
 

It's Giveaway Time!!

 

During the Blog Tour we will be giving away a paperback copy of Casanova’s Secret Wife! To enter, please enter via the Gleam form HERE.

Giveaway Rules

– Giveaway ends at 11:59pm EST on August 22nd. You must be 18 or older to enter.
– Giveaway is open to residents in the US & Canada 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.
 
 

Casanova's Secret Wife Blog Tour Schedule

 

Tuesday, July 25

Review at 100 Pages a Day
Spotlight at The Lit Bitch

Wednesday, July 26

Review at A Bookaholic Swede
Excerpt at What Is That Book About

Thursday, July 27

Review at So Many Books, So Little Time

Friday, July 28

Excerpt at Passages to the Past

Monday, July 31

Review at A Bookish Affair
Spotlight at A Literary Vacation

Tuesday, August 1

Review at Ageless Pages Reviews
Review at Historical Fiction Obsession

Wednesday, August 2

Review & Guest Post at Books of All Kinds

Thursday, August 3

Review at Library of Clean Reads
Interview at Let Them Read Books

Friday, August 4

Review at Pursuing Stacie

Monday, August 7

Review at Just One More Chapter

Tuesday, August 8

Review at History From a Woman’s Perspective

Wednesday, August 9

Guest Post at Myths, Legends, Books & Coffee Pots

Thursday, August 10

Spotlight at Queen Bee Books

Friday, August 11

Review at Trisha Jenn Reads

Monday, August 14

Spotlight at Books, Dreams, Life

Tuesday, August 15

Review at Creating Herstory

Wednesday, August 16

Guest Post at Creating Herstory

Thursday, August 17

Review at Svetlana’s Reads and Views

Friday, August 18

Excerpt at The Book Junkie Reads
Interview at Ms. Stuart Requests the Pleasure of Your Company

Monday, August 21

Review at Broken Teepee
Review at CelticLady’s Reviews

Tuesday, August 22

Review at Bookramblings
Review at Jorie Loves a Story


 
 
 
 




Friday, July 28, 2017

The Tip of My Wish List - Books Made Into TV Shows

If you're anything like me you've got a book wish list so long there is no way you will ever be able to read through it all. And, on top of that, it's never ending because you just can't stop adding more books to it! To try and organize myself I'm sharing 5 books from my wish list that I'm most excited to get to, usually with a common theme, on the last Friday of each month. I know a number of excellent bloggers who will be doing similar posts and I'll be sure to link to their posts as well so you can see all the goodies we're excited about and, hopefully, add a few new books to your own wish list. I'll also link the titles to Goodreads where you can read reviews and find the various ways to purchase a copy of the books if they sound like your style. I really hope you enjoy and let me know if you've read any of these or have others you would add to the list.


After last month's wish list theme (Books Made into Movies) I started noticing how many books I had on my wish list that have been made into TV shows. It's amazing how many shows start off as a novel or non-fiction work, although not surprising...we all know how awesome books are!! Below are five books on my wish list that I need to get to before seeing the show (or, in a few cases, were I've already seen the show and need to compare). Do you have any you'd add to the list?
 
 
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The seminal work of speculative fiction from the Booker Prize-winning author, soon to be a Hulu series starring Elizabeth Moss, Samira Wiley, and Joseph Fiennes.


Offred is a Handmaid in the Republic of Gilead. She may leave the home of the Commander and his wife once a day to walk to food markets whose signs are now pictures instead of words because women are no longer allowed to read. She must lie on her back once a month and pray that the Commander makes her pregnant, because in an age of declining births, Offred and the other Handmaids are valued only if their ovaries are viable. Offred can remember the days before, when she lived and made love with her husband Luke; when she played with and protected her daughter; when she had a job, money of her own, and access to knowledge. But all of that is gone now.... Funny, unexpected, horrifying, and altogether convincing, The Handmaid's Tale is at once scathing satire, dire warning, and literary tour de force.



American Gods


First published in 2001, here is the New York Times bestselling novel that became an instant classic and was hailed by USA Today as “a powerful, searing force that makes readers confront what is real and what is not…”—now a TV series from FremantleMedia North America is coming to STARZ with Bryan Fuller and Michael Green as showrunners, and starring Ricky Whittle, Ian McShane, Crispin Glover, Cloris Leachman, and Gillian Anderson.


Locked behind bars for three years, Shadow did his time, quietly waiting for the day when he could return to Eagle Point, Indiana. A man no longer scared of what tomorrow might bring, all he wanted was to be with Laura, the wife he deeply loved, and start a new life.

But just days before his release, Laura and Shadow’s best friend are killed in an accident. With his life in pieces and nothing to keep him tethered, Shadow accepts a job from a beguiling stranger he meets on the way home, an enigmatic man who calls himself Mr. Wednesday. A trickster and a rogue, Wednesday seems to know more about Shadow than Shadow does himself.

Life as Wednesday’s bodyguard, driver, and errand boy is far more interesting and dangerous than Shadow ever imagined. Soon Shadow learns that the past never dies... and that beneath the placid surface of everyday life a storm is brewing—an epic war for the very soul of America—and that he is standing squarely in its path.



Thirteen Reasons Why


Read this sensational mystery bestseller before you watch the 13-part Netflix series, executive produced by Selena Gomez. This special edition is complete with exclusive behind-the-scenes content including a 16-page full-colour photo insert featuring scenes from the show, and interviews with the cast and crew.


You can't stop the future. You can't rewind the past. The only way to learn the secret . . . is to press play.

Clay Jensen returns home from school one day to find a mysterious box with his name on it, outside his front door. Inside he discovers a series of cassette tapes recorded by Hannah Baker - his classmate and crush. Only, she committed suicide two weeks earlier. On the first tape, Hannah explains that there are 13 reasons why she did what she did - and Clay is one of them.

If he listens, Clay will find out how he made the list - what he hears will change his life forever.



11/22/63


Life can turn on a dime—or stumble into the extraordinary, as it does for Jake Epping, a high school English teacher in Lisbon Falls, Maine. While grading essays by his GED students, Jake reads a gruesome, enthralling piece penned by janitor Harry Dunning: fifty years ago, Harry somehow survived his father’s sledgehammer slaughter of his entire family. Jake is blown away...but an even more bizarre secret comes to light when Jake’s friend Al, owner of the local diner, enlists Jake to take over the mission that has become his obsession—to prevent the Kennedy assassination. How? By stepping through a portal in the diner’s storeroom, and into the era of Ike and Elvis, of big American cars, sock hops, and cigarette smoke... Finding himself in warmhearted Jodie, Texas, Jake begins a new life. But all turns in the road lead to a troubled loner named Lee Harvey Oswald. The course of history is about to be rewritten...and become heart-stoppingly suspenseful.

 
 
Soon to be a television series on Spike TV


 #1 New York Times bestselling author Stephen King’s terrifying novella about a town engulfed in a dense, mysterious mist—as humanity makes its last stand against unholy destruction…


In the wake of a destructive Maine summer thunderstorm, an impenetrable mist descends from the direction of a local military facility and infiltrates the small town of Bridgton. David Drayton and his son Billy are dragged into a living nightmare as unnatural and violent forces concealed by the mist begin to emerge, wreaking havoc in their wake. Now trapped in the local supermarket with a ragtag group of survivors, David unexpectedly faces a growing threat from within, one that promises to challenge the boundaries of sanity itself. In this horrifying mist, hearing is seeing—and believing. And what you’re about to hear, you’ll never forget.

Originally published in his acclaimed collection, Skeleton Crew, this riveting, eerie novella proves why Stephen King is a master storyteller in short form.



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Check out these lovely blogs for more books to add to your wish list(updated as they become available):


Holly at 2 Kids and Tired
Stephanie at Layered Pages
Heather at The Maiden's Court
Erin at Flashlight Commentary
Magdalena at A Bookish Swede

 
 
 

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Cover Crush: Daughters of Fire by Barbara Erskine

Hello, my name is Colleen and I am a cover slut. I know, I know....you aren't supposed to judge a book by it's cover. I just can't help myself! A beautiful cover draws my eye every single time and I can't help but pick up the book it's dressing and see if the inside seems as intriguing as the outside. Sometimes it does, and sometimes a pretty cover is just a pretty cover. Either way, I love getting an eyeful!


One of my favorite bloggers, Erin at
Flashlight Commentary, created a weekly blog post called Cover Crush and she and some other blogger friends are sharing their favorite covers each Thursday. I've decided to join in this year and will link to their posts down below.


So, without further ado, my Cover Crush this week is.....
 
 
 
 
 
 
If you looked up "atmospheric" in the dictionary I'm pretty sure this picture will be showing (not really, but you get me). Seriously, how gorgeous and mysterious is this cover?! Who is the person riding that horse into what I can only assume is battle since it looks like there are other fighters in the mist behind them? It's amazing how much action and feeling can be in one hazy picture but I, for one, need to know what is happening within this story!
 
Let's see what the synopsis can tell us about what to expect....
 
 

The sweeping new novel from the bestselling author of LADY OF HAY switches between Roman Britain and the present day where history dramatically impacts on the lives of three women.
 
Two thousand years ago, as the Romans invade Britannia, the princess who will become the powerful queen of the great tribe of the Brigantes, watches the enemies of her people come ever closer. Cartimandua's world is, from the start, a maelstrom of love and conflict; revenge and retribution.
 
In the present day, Edinburgh-based historian, Viv Lloyd Rees, has immersed herself in the legends surrounding the Celtic queen. She has written a book and is working on a dramatisation of the young queen's life with the help of actress, Pat Hebden.
 
Cartimandua's life takes one unexpected turn after another as tragedy changes the course of her future. But the young queen has formidable enemies - among them Venutios, her childhood sparring partner, and Medb, a woman whose jealousy threatens not only her happiness but her life.
 
Viv's Head of Department, Hugh Graham, hounds her as she struggles to hide her visions of Cartimandua and her conviction that they are real. Her obsession grows ever more persistent and threatening as she takes possession of an ancient brooch that carries a curse. Both Pat and Hugh are drawn into this dual existence of bitter rivalry and overwhelming love as past envelopes present and the trio find themselves facing the greatest danger of their lives.
 
 
 
Don't forget to check out what covers my blogger buddies are drooling over this week (updated as they become available):





Created by Magdalena of A Bookaholic Swede