TLC Book Review & Giveaway: The Mapmaker’s Children by Sarah McCoy

Book Details:

Title: The Mapmaker’s Children
Author: Sarah McCoy
Publisher: Crown
Publication date: May 5, 2015
Pages: 320
Genre: Historical fiction
Synopsis:

When Sarah Brown, daughter of abolitionist John Brown, realizes that her artistic talents may be able to help save the lives of slaves fleeing north, she becomes one of the Underground Railroad’s leading mapmakers, taking her cues from the slave code quilts and hiding her maps within her paintings. She boldly embraces this calling after being told the shocking news that she can’t bear children, but as the country steers toward bloody civil war, Sarah faces difficult sacrifices that could put all she loves in peril.
Eden, a modern woman desperate to conceive a child with her husband, moves to an old house in the suburbs and discovers a porcelain head hidden in the root cellar—the remains of an Underground Railroad doll with an extraordinary past of secret messages, danger and deliverance.
Ingeniously plotted to a riveting end, Sarah and Eden’s woven lives connect the past to the present, forcing each of them to define courage, family, love, and legacy in a new way.

My Review:

From the very first page, I was hooked. I read a little over 100 pages the first night and didn’t sleep until I finished it, on the second night. Yes, it’s that amazing!

The story alternates between past and present, shedding light on Sarah Brown (a young woman during the UGRR movement) and Eden ( a young woman married with some scars of her own).  Eventually, their stories intersect and show how much the past can shape the future, while also bringing closure and peace to the past.

Sarah is the daughter of abolitionist, John Brown, and uses her talent of artistry to help with the UGRR movement.  Eden finds a porcelain head with unusual drawings, a key, and a button that place that doll in the time frame of when Sarah was visiting the Hill family and helping them with those trying to flee the South.  Sarah is a strong woman, who is extremely courageous and intelligent.  She becomes even more vigilant to help the UGRR after her father is caught and hung for his “crimes”.  It was interesting to learn the ways people communicated back then and the code words they had to use to share news.  Time was a factor, too, so that messages had to be changed and revised often.  There were many times that I felt that I couldn’t read fast enough, as I was eager to know what was happening next in Sarah’s life and those of her loved ones.

Eden is a woman, who is married and feels she has reached the end of the road in her marriage.  After her last miscarriage, Eden’s husband gets her a dog, named CricKet.  Worried she won’t bond with the dog, Eden’s husband hires a little girl to take care of the dog.  Cleo is a young, vibrant, spunky, and super charming little girl.  She helps Eden adjust to the new town, helps with the baking of some CricKet BisKits, and teaches her some valuable lessons along the way.

This book is so much more than just another story about slavery and the crusade that the Brown and Hill family fought.  It’s about forgiveness, finding the silver lining, friendships, lost loves, and new beginnings.  Many have heard of John Brown, but not many know about his daughter, Sarah Brown, and the courage she had to continue his work.  John Brown’s death didn’t stop the family and others from pushing forward.  Sarah is strong, courageous, and goes against tradition and expectations for women of that time period.  Through her artistry, she is determined to finish her father’s work and be part of the fabric of change.

Sarah McCoy flawlessly brings these two very separate and individual women together, showing how the past helps the future and how history can help mend relationships, too.  Most importantly, this novel shows two brave women, who are not defined by their pain and struggles, rather, they use it as a catalyst to do something greater and bigger than even they imagine.  While Sarah works at saving her family and friends, Eden’s challenge is learning to trust people to join her inner circle of friends and family, too.

I loved the historical nuggets that Sarah McCoy includes in novel, along with some pictures.  I am so glad she chose to write their story, as these women certainly had a lot to share!  Sarah even shares the recipes to CricKet BisKits, which plays a big part in how everyone comes together and builds relationships with each other.  Those who love historical fiction will love this book! It also makes for a great book club pick because the discussions will be endless!  Overall, this is a book that I didn’t want to end! I know this is a book that will be discussed for many years to come and will be appreciated by those who love a great story about heroines, who were at one time forgotten.

P.S. As a fan of the tv show,” Shark Tank”, I laughed when I read Cleo’s suggestion!  You will just have to read the book to know what I’m talking about.

supreme cupcake rating 6    *This book was provided by TLC Book Tours for review consideration.

SARAH McCOY is the  New York TimesUSA Today, and international bestselling author of The Baker’s Daughter, a 2012 Goodreads Choice Award Best Historical Fiction nominee; the novella “The Branch of Hazel” in Grand Central; The Time It Snowed in Puerto Ricoand The Mapmaker’s Children (Crown, May 5, 2015).

Her work has been featured in Real Simple, The Millions, Your Health Monthly, Huffington Post and other publications. She has taught English writing at Old Dominion University and at the University of Texas at El Paso. She calls Virginia home but presently lives with her husband, an Army physician, and their dog, Gilly, in El Paso, Texas. Sarah enjoys connecting with her readers on Twitter at @SarahMMcCoy, on her Facebook Fan Page or via her website, www.sarahmccoy.com.

Sarah McCoy’s Book Tour Schedule:

Tuesday, April 21st: Savvy Verse & Wit

Wednesday, April 22nd: My Book Retreat

Thursday, April 23rd: BookNAround

Monday, April 27th: Man of La Book

Tuesday, April 28th: 100 Pages a Day…Stephanie’s Book Reviews

Wednesday, April 29th: Always With a Book

Thursday, April 30th: Booksie’s Blog

Monday, May 4th: The Book Binder’s Daughter

Tuesday, May 5th: Books on the Table

Wednesday, May 6th: West Metro Mommy

Thursday, May 7th: Bibliotica

Friday, May 8th: Peeking Between the Pages

Monday, May 11th: Patricia’s Wisdom

Tuesday, May 12th: A Bookish Way of Life

Wednesday, May 13th: A Chick Who Reads

Thursday, May 14th: FictionZeal

Friday, May 15th: Bookshelf Fantasies

Monday, May 18th: Kritters Ramblings

Tuesday, May 19th: Svetlana’s Reads and Views

Monday, May 25th: Diary of an Eccentric

Tuesday, May 26th: Walking With Nora

Wednesday, May 27th: Raven Haired Girl

Thursday, May 28th: Reading Reality

Friday, May 29th: Thoughts On This ‘n That

Monday, June 1st: Doing Dewey

Tuesday, June 2nd: Ms. Nose in a Book

Wednesday, June 3rd: Books in the Burbs

Thursday, June 4th: Drey’s Library

Tuesday, June 9th: The Book Bag

Wednesday, June 10th: Bibliophiliac

Thursday, June 11th: Literary Feline

Friday, June 12th: Broken Teepee

Monday, June 15th: Staircase Wit

Tuesday, June 16th: Kahakai Kitchen

TBD: 2 Kids and Tired Book Reviews

TBD: Readers’ Oasis

Giveaway

Fill out the entry form.

One winner will receive a copy of the book.  It’s open to US and Canada.

Giveaway ends June 12, 2015.

TLC Book Review: City of Liars and Thieves by Eve Karlin

About City of Liars and Thieves

On Sale: January 13, 2015
Pages: 266
Published by : Alibi

A crime that rocked a city. A case that stunned a nation. Based on the United States’ first recorded murder trial, Eve Karlin’s spellbinding debut novel re-creates early nineteenth-century New York City, where a love affair ends in a brutal murder and a conspiracy involving Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr erupts in shattering violence.

It is high time to tell the truth. Time for justice. . . . How she was murdered and why she haunts me. It is not only Elma’s story, it’s mine.

On the bustling docks of the Hudson River, Catherine Ring waits with her husband and children for the ship carrying her cousin, Elma Sands. Their Greenwich Street boardinghouse becomes a haven for Elma, who has at last escaped the stifling confines of her small hometown and the shameful circumstances of her birth. But in the summer of 1799, Manhattan remains a teeming cesspool of stagnant swamps and polluted rivers. The city is desperate for clean water as fires wreak devastation and the death toll from yellow fever surges.

Political tensions are rising, too. It’s an election year, and Alexander Hamilton is hungry for power. So is his rival, Aaron Burr, who has announced the formation of the Manhattan Water Company. But their private struggle becomes very public when the body of Elma Sands is found at the bottom of a city well built by Burr’s company.

Resolved to see justice done, Catherine becomes both witness and avenger. She soon finds, however, that the shocking truth behind this trial has nothing to do with guilt or innocence.

My Review:

The title itself truly depicts what this novel is about.  With so much corruption, lies, and scandal, this novel is wrapped in historical truths about the unsolved murder of a woman, Elma Sands, who is found at the bottom of a well.  What is most interesting about the book is the politics and maneuvering big business and prominent leaders will do for money and power.  While Elma Sands story is not truly known, Eve Karlin shines light on who she was and the possibilities of what happened, through the voice and lens of Elma’s cousin, Catherine (Caty).

Caty is a fascinating character to me.  She is Quaker and struggles to find her identity, adjusting to a large city, while trying to hold onto the values of her faith.  Her journey was most interesting to me and her determination to find out what happens to her cousin.  I found Caty to be a wonderful character in the story and her struggles and challenges is what made this book stand out for me.

The story doesn’t truly pick up speed until Elma’s disappearance.  Keeping in mind that this story is based on some historical fact, it was intriguing to learn how the judicial system worked back then.  All of this happened during a time when there wasn’t mass communication, social media, cellphones, etc.  So, I was simply fascinated with the way the investigation (albeit-it’s not told in very much detail), happens.  I was also fascinated with the way the court system worked back then, too!  Jurors actually had to sleep on the floor, at the courthouse…imagine that!  One thing is for certain, Eve Karlin shows how corruption infiltrates businesses, courthouses, families, and friends.  Sadly, finding justice for the death of one woman is simply part of what happens when someone gets in the way of business deals.

Overall, it was a good book!

good cupcake 3

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About Eve Karlin

Eve Karlin was born and raised in New York City. She is a graduate of Colgate University, where she studied literature and creative writing with Frederick Busch. Karlin worked in publishing for more than a decade in marketing, at Random House, Newsweek, and, later, as a foreign book scout with clients in the United Kingdom, Italy, Holland, Brazil, and Japan. She has had several short stories published in The East Hampton Star and has been a contributing writer for Patch.com. She lives in East Hampton, New York, with her husband and their sixteen-year-old triplets. City of Liars and Thieves is her first book.

Eve Karlin’s TLC Book Tours TOUR STOPS:

Tuesday, January 6th: Mystery Playground

Wednesday, January 7th: Bibliophilia, Please

Friday, January 9th: Fiction Zeal

Monday, January 12th: Omnimystery News – author guest post

Tuesday, January 13th: Dwell in Possibility

Tuessday, January 13th: Kritter’s Ramblings

Wednesday, January 14th: No More Grumpy Bookseller

Friday, January 16th: Reading Reality

Monday, January 19th: From the TBR Pile

Tuesday, January 20th: Sarah’s Book Shelves

Wednesday, January 21st: A Fantastical Librarian

Thursday, January 22nd: Chew & Digest Books

Monday, January 26th: History from a Woman’s Perspective

Tuesday, January 27th: Tales of a Book Addict

Wednesday, January 28th: Staircase Wit

Thursday, January 29th: 100 Pages a Day… Stephanie’s Book Reviews

Friday, January 30th: Books in the Burbs

TBD: Back Porchervations

 

copyright 2015

Books to Add to Your List for 2015

The best part about book blogging is having an opportunity to preview books before they are published to the general public.  Below are some books I read this year, and know you will equally love them as much as I did!

This is book 2 of The Madman’s Daughter trilogy.  I loved the first book and while the 2nd one is more grotesque and quite violent, I still found myself on the edge of my seat reading this one.  With random and horrible murders happening everywhere, Juliet has an idea as to who is causing the killings.  Just as Juliet leaves the island and her father behind, she realizes her past is always there to haunt her.  It’s an excellent companion to the first book, although you will immediately have to purchase the 3rd book because it leaves you hanging!

great cupcake rating 4

This is a fantastic wrap up to the trilogy.  It’s a bit long, but there are so many loose ends that Megan has to address so that it ends on a high note! I love the trilogy and how much Juliet grows through each novel.  She must choose her destiny: that of her mother, her father, or perhaps, even her own path that isn’t what her parents may want.  She learns about the family secrets, brings closure to the ghosts of her past and finds meaning that goes beyond that of her father.

great cupcake rating 4

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I absolutely loved this book.  I am always fascinated with how flowers have their own knowledge and the emotions they convey.  This is a story that will certainly be a favorite for many!

Tilly becomes an assistant housemother at Mr. Shaw’s Home for Watercress and Flower Girls.  It is while she is there that she comes across a diary and reads about Florrie and Rosie. I love the historical facts weaved throughout this story and how the stories merge from past and present, to finally the present.  It’s beautiful and heartbreaking, but as always, this book gives hope.

excellent cupcake 5***************

 I have read almost every book written about the fabulous Coco Chanel and have watched every movie and documentary made about her life.  I am absolutely fascinated with her and truly did not know what to expect with this book.  However, I have read C.W. Gortner’s work and love his writing.  From the first chapter, I am immersed in Coco’s life!  It’s a fantastic story with tidbits in there that aren’t in too many books.  Readers will love this book and finish it, wanting more! This is by far C.W. Gortner’s best work to date and I know this will be a huge favorite for many!

supreme cupcake rating 6

*Each of these books mentioned have very little information about them.  I intentionally chose not to write a huge write-up on them because they aren’t going to be available to the public, until 2015.  However, I needed to put these books on your radar so that you can add them to your wish lists, pre-order, and buy them the minute they hit the bookstores.  The only exception is Megan Shephard’s books, however, I stayed with the same style: simple.

Happy Reading!

Book Review: Jane Austen’s First Love by Syrie James & Giveaway Details

 

Publisher:  Berkley Trade
Publication Date: August 5, 2015
Pages: 400
Genre: Adult Historical Fiction
Synopsis:

Fifteen-year-old Jane Austen dreams of three things: doing something useful, writing something worthy, and falling madly in love. When she visits her brother in Kent to celebrate his engagement to Miss Elizabeth Bridges, Jane meets wealthy, devilishly handsome Edward Taylor, heir to the nearby estate of Bifrons–a fascinating, highly accomplished young man who is truly worthy of Jane’s affections. Jane knows a match between her and Edward is unlikely, but every moment she spends with him makes her heart race–and he seems to return her interest. Much to her displeasure, however, there is another seeking his attention.

Unsure of her budding relationship, Jane seeks distraction by attempting to correct the pairings of three other prospective couples. But when her matchmaking aspirations do not all turn out as anticipated, Jane discovers the danger of relying on first impressions. The human heart cannot be easily deciphered, nor can it be directed or managed. And if others must be left to their own devices in matters of love and matrimony, can Jane even hope to satisfy her own heart?

My Review:

As many of you know, my all time favorite author is Jane Austen.  I absolutely love her books, love reading about her life (albeit-it’s sad), and am drawn to anything Jane.  So, this book definitely peaked my interest.  Just when I thought I had read everything there was to know about Jane’s life, Syrie James does her research and finds Jane Austen’s first love: Edward Taylor!  This story is based during a short period of Jane’s life.  She’s 15 years old, visiting her brother Edward, and celebrating his engagement.

I love that Syrie James brings to life the charisma and charm that Jane Austen exudes in all of her writings!  While this story is based on historical fact, laced with some fiction, it is rather interesting to imagine how Jane created characters, shared her stories with others, and the interactions she has with family.  We all know that Jane never marries or has children, however, her childhood certainly shapes the views she had on relationships and helped create characters for her novels.  So, it was quite a treat to see the possibility that her summer experience helped with the storylines and characters in Emma and Pride & Prejudice.  The most special relationship, even more so than Jane’s and Edward Taylor, is between Cassandra and Jane.  The secrets they share, they talks they have, and just the concern they have for each other is quite poignant and wonderful to see how it evolves and becomes even more important for them to maintain into adulthood.

Overall, this is a fantastic storyline that Jane Austen fans will love.  It’s a book that gives a glimpse inside the world of Jane Austen, as a young teenager, who experiences first love and plays matchmaker to a group of people-only to realize that sometimes what is imagined, isn’t always realistic.  However, she never gives up on the idea of love, which we experience through her writings!

excellent cupcake 5

*A huge thank you to the publisher and Syrie James for the opportunity to review the book and offer a giveaway!  No forms of compensation were given.

Photo courtesy of Syrie James website.

About the Author, Syrie James:

“The queen of nineteenth century re-imaginings.” —Los Angeles Magazine

Syrie James is the bestselling author of nine critically acclaimed novels, including Jane Austen’s First Love, The Missing Manuscript of Jane Austen, The Lost Memoirs of Jane Austen, The Secret Diaries of Charlotte Bronte, Nocturne, Dracula My Love, Forbidden, and The Harrison Duet: Songbird and Propositions. Her books have been translated into eighteen foreign languages, awarded the Audio Book Association Audie, designated as Editor’s Picks by Library Journal, named a Great Group Read by the Women’s National Book Association, a Discover New Writer’s Selection by Barnes and Noble, and Best Book of the Year by The Romance Reviews and Suspense Magazine.

Syrie is a member of the WGA and a life member of JASNA (the Jane Austen Society of North America). She spent many years as a screenwriter and enjoys writing both novels and screenplays. Syrie writes practically every weekday. She says, “Many people can’t wait for the weekend to arrive. It’s the opposite for me. I truly love my jam-packed weekends, but from the time I turn off the computer on Friday evening to the moment I’m back in my chair on Monday morning, I’m anxious to get back to the characters I left in limbo, who are just waiting for me to continue their story.”

Syrie was named after a character in a radio show that her mother listened to as a girl. Today, Syrie is thrilled that her name is pronounced the same as Siri, the iPhone personal assistant–even if they spell the name incorrectly. :)

Syrie was born in Poughkeepsie, New York, and moved west at age one because her father didn’t like shoveling snow. She has lived most of her life in California, if you don’t count the two years as a child when she lived in France.

Connect with the Author:

Webpage

Facebook

Twitter

Goodreads

Click here for giveaway details!

 

 

HFVBT: The Tudor Vendetta by C.W. Gortner

Publication Date: October 21, 2014

Publisher:  St. Martin’s Press

Formats: eBook, Paperback

Series: Spymaster Chronicles

Genre: Historical Mystery

Synopsis:

Winter, 1558: Elizabeth I has ascended the throne but the first days of her reign are already fraught with turmoil, the kingdom weakened by strife and her ability to rule uncertain.

Summoned from exile abroad at the new queen’s behest, Brendan Prescott arrives in London to face his shattered past. He soon finds himself pitted in deadly rivalry with his life-long foe, Robert Dudley, but when a poison attempt overshadows the queen’s coronation, Elizabeth privately dispatches Brendan on a far more dangerous assignation: to find her favored lady-in-waiting, Lady Parry, who has vanished in Yorkshire.

Upon his arrival at the crumbling sea-side manor that may hold the key to Lady Parry’s disappearance, he encounters a strange, impoverished family beset by grief, as well as mounting evidence that they hide a secret from him. The mystery surrounding Lady Parry deepens as Brendan begins to realize there is far more going on at the manor than meets the eye, but the closer he gets to the heart of the mystery, the more he becomes the quarry of an elusive stranger with a vendetta— one that could expose both his own buried identity and a long-hidden revelation that will bring about Elizabeth’s doom.

From the intrigue-laden passages of Whitehall to a foreboding Catholic manor and the prisons of the Tower, Brendan must risk everything to unravel a vendetta that strikes at the very core of his world, including his loyalty to his queen.

The Tudor Vendetta is the third book in Gortner’s Elizabeth I Spymaster Trilogy.

My Review:

The best part about trilogies is that a reader becomes invested in the characters.  The worst part is missing them, after reading the last page of the last book!  This is how I feel about this trilogy.  C.W. is a gifted writer, who not only merges fiction with historical fact, but tells a story that resonates with people today.  Brendan Prescott is a character that readers will connect with because of his loyalty, his own personal struggles, and his braveness.  He is someone that readers will root for and want to see how his journey ends.  While this is the last book of the trilogy, it can be read without being too confused about earlier events.  However, I would definitely recommend reading the first 2 books to appreciate how the story ends.  The story is filled with mystery, race against time, and secrets being exposed.  It’s a fantastic story that readers will love!

great cupcake rating 4

About the Author03_CW Gortner

C.W. GORTNER holds an MFA in Writing with an emphasis in Renaissance Studies from the New College of California, as well as an AA from the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising in San Francisco.

After an eleven year-long career in fashion, during which he worked as a vintage retail buyer, freelance publicist, and fashion show coordinator, C.W. devoted the next twelve years to the public health sector. In 2012, he became a full-time writer following the international success of his novels.

In his extensive travels to research his books, he has danced a galliard at Hampton Court, learned about organic gardening at Chenoceaux, and spent a chilly night in a ruined Spanish castle. His books have garnered widespread acclaim and been translated into twenty-one languages to date, with over 400,000 copies sold. A sought-after public speaker. C.W. has given keynote addresses at writer conferences in the US and abroad. He is also a dedicated advocate for animal rights, in particular companion animal rescue to reduce shelter overcrowding.

C.W. recently completed his fourth novel for Ballantine Books, about Lucrezia Borgia; the third novel in his Tudor Spymaster series for St Martin’s Press; and a new novel about the dramatic, glamorous life of Coco Chanel, scheduled for lead title publication by William Morrow, Harper Collins, in the spring of 2015.

Half-Spanish by birth and raised in southern Spain, C.W. now lives in Northern California with his partner and two very spoiled rescue cats.

For more information please visit C.W. Gortner’s website and blog. You can also connect with him on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, Pinterest, and YouTube.

The Tudor Vendetta Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, October 20
Review at The Maiden’s Court
Guest Post at Mina’s Bookshelf

Tuesday, October 21
Review at Historical Fiction Obsession
Spotlight at Passages to the Past

Wednesday, October 22
Review at Back Porchervations
Review at Always With a Books

Thursday, October 23
Review at 100 Pages a Day – Stephanie’s Book Reviews

Friday, October 24
Review at Bibliophilia, Please
Interview at Back Porchervations

Monday, October 27
Review at JulzReads
Review at Queen of All She Reads

Tuesday, October 28
Review at Beth’s Book Reviews

Wednesday, October 29
Review at Making My Mark
Review at Writing the Renaissance
Review at A Bibliotaph’s Reviews
Guest Post at Bookish

Thursday, October 30
Review & Guest Post at Drey’s Library
Review & Interview at The Copperfield Review & From Meredith Allard
Interview at Writing the Renaissance

Friday, October 31
Review at Book by Book

Monday, November 3
Review at Mari Reads
Review & Gues Post at JM Ledwell Writes

Tuesday, November 4
Review at A Bookish Affair

Wednesday, November 5
Guest Post at A Bookish Affair

Thursday, November 6
Review at Booktalk & More

Friday, November 7
Review at Build a Bookshelf
Review at One Book at a Time

Monday, November 10
Review at CelticLady’s Reviews
Review at Oh, for the Hook of a Book!

Tuesday, November 11
Review at A Book Geek
Review at The Lit Bitch

Wednesday, November 12
Review at A Chick Who Reads

Thursday, November 13
Review at Ageless Pages Reviews

Friday, November 14
Review at Book Nerd
Spotlight at Paranormal Book Club

Monday, November 17
Review at Broken Teepee
Review at The Never-Ending Book

Tuesday, November 18
Review at So Many Books, So Little Time
Guest Post at What is That Book About

Wednesday, November 19
Review at Kate Forsyth’s Blog

Thursday, November 20
Review & Interview at The Tudor Enthusiast

Friday, November 21
Review at Griperang’s Bookmarks

Monday, November 24
Guest Post at Historical Fiction Connection

Tuesday, November 25
Review at Historical Tapestry
Review at The True Book Addict

Wednesday, November 26
Review at Flashlight Commentary

Friday, November 28
Review at Books in the Burbs
Review & Interview at Jorie Loves a Story

Giveaway

To win a complete set of CW Gortner’s Spymaster Chronicles Trilogy (The Tudor Secret, The Tudor Conspiracy, and The Tudor Vendetta) please complete the Rafflecopter giveaway by clicking on the link above. Giveaway is open to US residents only.

Giveaway ends at 11:59pm on November 28th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
Winner will be chosen via Rafflecopter on November 29th and notified via email.
Winner have 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Book Review: The Secret of Pembrooke Park by Julie Klassen

 

Publication Date: December 2014

Publisher:  Bethany House

Pages:  460

Synopsis from Goodreads:

Julie Klassen Is the Top Name in Inspirational regency Romance

Abigail Foster fears she will end up a spinster, especially as she has little dowry to improve her charms and the one man she thought might marry her–a longtime friend–has fallen for her younger, prettier sister.
When financial problems force her family to sell their London home, a strange solicitor arrives with an astounding offer: the use of a distant manor house abandoned for eighteen years. The Fosters journey to imposing Pembrooke Park and are startled to find it entombed as it was abruptly left: tea cups encrusted with dry tea, moth-eaten clothes in wardrobes, a doll’s house left mid-play . . .

The handsome local curate welcomes them, but though he and his family seem to know something about the manor’s past, the only information they offer Abigail is a warning: Beware trespassers who may be drawn by rumors that Pembrooke contains a secret room filled with treasure.

Hoping to improve her family’s financial situation, Abigail surreptitiously searches for the hidden room, but the arrival of anonymous letters addressed to her, with clues about the room and the past, bring discoveries even more startling. As secrets come to light, will Abigail find the treasure and love she seeks…or very real danger?

My Review:

This book is so reminiscent to the great writings of Jane Austen!  Abigail is the more mature daughter, helping her father make business decisions and worrying with him about the lifestyle that her mother and younger sister are accustomed to.  Due to some financial ventures gone wrong, the family must move to meager accommodations.  Thankfully, they receive a letter from a family member, allowing the family to move into the house at Pembrooke Park.  However, the house has not been lived in for 18 years and Abigail has agreed to oversee the cleaning, before her family moves in.

Abigail willingly goes to help clean the house, while her younger sister stays behind to prepare for her season.  Sadly, Abigail finds out that the young man she had hoped to one day marry has eyes set on her younger sister.  Brokenhearted, Abigail heads over to the new property, where her own adventures begin.

This book has mystery, charm, secrets, friendships forged with some renewed, and love.  There are so many layers to this book, with the reader not knowing what is happening alongside Abigail.  Who can she trust? Who is the man with the green cloak walking in the middle of the night? What are those noises she keeps hearing at night? Is there a treasure hidden within the home or on the property? Will Abigail find true love?

True to form, Julie Klassen shares Biblical truths sprinkled throughout the book, which was quite relevant to the storyline.  However, those truths can be applied to those today.  I loved the storyline and found myself quite immersed in what was happening.  I didn’t try to guess who had bad intentions and who was really trying to be helpful.  It helped me to just enjoy the story without trying to get ahead of myself.  Every mystery will be solved (or at least addressed), so sit back and just enjoy the way the story unfolds.  It’s definitely one of my favorite books from Julie Klassen, with The Apothecary’s Daughter being my absolute favorite!

This book won’t be available in print until December 2, 2015.   However, it is available in e-format today! This is the perfect read during the Thanksgiving break.  After all, wouldn’t you rather curl up with a great book instead of being pounced on during Black Friday?

supreme cupcake rating 6

*A huge thanks to Bethany House and NetGalley for giving me the opportunity to read and review this book.  No forms of compensation were given.

Want to win the book, plus a couple of other great historical fiction stories?  Author, Julie Klassen and a couple of other authors are hosting a giveaway!  Click here for details.

 

 

 

 

 

HFVBT Book Tour: Sinful Folk by Ned Hayes

 

 

Publication Date: January 22, 2014

Publisher:  Campanile Press

Formats: eBook, Hardcover, Audiobook

Genre: Historical Fiction/Mystery/Medieval

Synopsis:

A tragic loss. A desperate journey. A mother seeks the truth.

In December of 1377, four children were burned to death in a house fire. Villagers traveled hundreds of miles across England to demand justice for their children’s deaths.

Sinful Folk is the story of this terrible mid-winter journey as seen by Mear, a former nun who has lived for a decade disguised as a mute man, raising her son quietly in this isolated village. For years, she has concealed herself and all her history. But on this journey, she will find the strength to redeem the promise of her past. Mear begins her journey in terror and heartache, and ends in triumph and transcendence.

The remarkable new novel by Ned Hayes, illustrated by New York Times bestselling author/illustrator Nikki McClure, Sinful Folk illuminates the medieval era with profound insight and compassion.

My Review:

This is a great story that is based on some historical fact, which absolutely fascinates me.  Mear is a single mom, raising her son in an obscure village, hoping to be away from the mainstream pubic.  She is hiding her identity, who others see as a mute man.  However, her secrets are much more interesting than just her posing as a man, which readers will learn as the story evolves.

Told with very gothic and dark tones, the book almost seemed scary at times.  Mear is with a group of men, who are all hoping to avenge the deaths of their sons.  However, there is suspicion amongst the group as to what really happened that fateful night.  Readers will get little snippets of these morsels of truths as the story unfolds, but it won’t be until the end that the readers really understand what happened and why.  It is a somber tale, as Mear has lost her only child, and she has many secrets and is trying to protect the ones she loves.  However, there are glimpses of hope, too!  Overall, this was a great book!

great cupcake rating 4

 

About the Author03_Ned Hayes Credit Linda Marus 2012

Ned Hayes is the author of the Amazon best-selling historical novel SINFUL FOLK. He is also the author of Coeur d’Alene Waters, a noir mystery set in the Pacific Northwest. He is now at work on a new novel, Garden of Earthly Delights, also set in the Middle Ages.

Ned Hayes is a candidate for an MFA from the Rainier Writer’s Workshop, and holds graduate degrees in English and Theology from Western Washington University and Seattle University.

Born in China, he grew up bi-lingually, speaking both Mandarin and English. He now lives in Olympia, Washington with his wife and two children.

For more information please visit www.sinfulfolk.com and www.nednote.com. You can also find him on Facebook, Twitter, PinterestBooklikes, YouTube, Google+, and Goodreads.

Sinful Folk Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, October 20
Review at Flashlight Commentary

Tuesday, October 21
Review at Historical Novel Review

Wednesday, October 22
Spotlight at What is That Book About
Spotlight & Giveaway at Passages to the Past

Thursday, October 23
Review at History From a Woman’s Perspective
Guest Post at Books and Benches

Monday, October 27
Review at Just One More Chapter
Spotlight & Giveaway at Historical Fiction Connection

Tuesday, October 28
Interview at Layered Pages

Wednesday, October 29
Review at Back Porchervations

Thursday, October 30
Interview at Back Porchervations

Monday, November 3
Interview at Triclinium
Spotlight at Boom Baby Reviews

Tuesday, November 4
Spotlight at Historical Tapestry

Wednesday, November 5
Review at Deal Sharing Aunt

Thursday, November 6
Review at bookramblings

Saturday, November 8
Review at Book Nerd

Monday, November 10
Review at Book Babe

Tuesday, November 11
Review at Impressions in Ink

Friday, November 14
Review & Giveaway at Broken Teepee

Tuesday, November 18
Review at CelticLady’s Reviews
Review & Giveaway at Beth’s Book Reviews

Wednesday, November 19
Review at Books in the Burbs
Review at Bookworm Babblings

Thursday, November 20
Review at With Her Nose Stuck in a Book
Review & Giveaway at Let Them Read Books

Friday, November 21
Review at Library Educated
Review & Giveaway at The True Book Addict

 

 

 

Review: Astor Place Vintage by Stephanie Lehmann

My Review:

Wow!  I read all the rave reviews about this wonderful book, but couldn’t read it until now.  Some things are worth waiting for, and this is one of them. I am so glad I had purchased this and had it on my Kindle, just waiting….

Amanda is a single woman, who is in a complex relationship with her high school sweetheart (who is married).  Amanda is also the owner of a little vintage shop, where she gets to sell clothes that are more than just a piece of fabric…there are memories woven throughout.  Through a series of events, Amanda comes to terms with her relationship, makes huge decisions about her home/place of work, and her life.

However, the true magic is in the diary Amanda finds, stitched inside a fur muzzle.  Taken back to the early 1900’s, Amanda reads about the adventures of Sadie, Angelina, and Olive.  All independent women, with different adventures in their lives, yet they all hold a valuable bond.  They all had great stories to tell, however, I was so taken aback by the challenges young women faced back then.  With no rights to vote, it was very hard for women back then to even rent a hotel room!  Women had to enter through a different door, labeled for women, they weren’t earning near as much as men, deal with issues of wanting to be independent and faced criticism for it, etc.  It was just an amazing and horrible ordeal that women dealt with, but still managed to make great strides despite restrictions.

I just loved the stories, past and present, and absolutely loved the pictures in the book!  I purchased this book on my e-reader, but would definitely recommend buying the actual book to appreciate the pictures better.  It’s a fantastic read and one that I’d recommend to anyone wanting to read a great book about friendships, historical fiction, and love books with a bit of mystery!

excellent cupcake 5

My Love for Zelda & The Authors Who Have Kept Her Alive!

Picture courtesy of: Southern Literary Trail.

 

I am, as usual, late to the party.  However, I always make it; albeit fashionably late. Being an avid reader of historical fiction, and loving the great works of Ernest Hemingway and F. Scott Fitzgerald, I had read about Zelda and the tumultuous relationship between her and Scott.  However, it wasn’t until I read, The Paris Wife by Paula McLain that my interest truly peaked. While Paula McLain’s book is primarily about Hadley and her love: Ernest Hemingway, there was just enough of a snipped of Zelda and her husband, that I was instantly intrigued to learn more.

It seems that in recent years authors are looking beyond the writer, and wanting to look at their most intimate relationship: the women who stood by these amazing authors.  So, I was quite excited to see that 2 books, which peaked my interest came out around the same time.  While I was looking through my blog, I noticed that I had not written my book reviews for these two amazing books!  While both books are about Zelda Fitzgerald, make no mistake about it….they are vastly different, and exception in their own right.  So, don’t choose between the two.  Buy them both!

 

Click on the cover to read synopsis.

 

My Review:

One word:  Co-dependent.  Yes, as much as Zelda and Scott are crazy in love, they are even more crazy with out one another.  They need each other, thrive off one another, and seem to feed off one another the more “crazy” one is.  The story starts with Zelda as a teenager, a vibrant 17 year old, who has many suitors at her feet.  However, she zones in one handsome solider: F. Scott Fitzgerald, who also only has eyes for her.  It’s rather sweet to read about their courtship, leading up to marriage, and readers can’t help but root for them.

While we all know the ending, it’s what happens in between that makes the story worthwhile.  Theresa Ann Fowler, is a great storyteller, who gives readers a glimpse into the world of the Fitzgerald’s.  Zelda is given a voice, that goes beyond just being “crazy, neurotic, unstable”.  She is clear headed, strong willed, and sets trends despite her desire to do so.  She is simply herself, and that is what makes us all fall in love with her.

Zelda, never meant to be in Scott’s shadow, follows her own dreams of writing, dancing, and making being who she wants to be, all while being with an erratic husband, dealing with the media and what they chose to portray her as, and trying to be the kind of mother she desires, all while also having a mental illness (that wasn’t diagnosed until later in her life).

This is an excellent book that follows Zelda from her courtship through the Jazz age.  It ends with you wanting more Zelda! It’s an excellent book, that is a must-read for anyone who loves historical fiction, wants to know who the woman is behind F. Scott Fitzgerald, and just loves a great love story (with a little bit of crazy).

supreme cupcake rating 6

************************************************

Click on the cover to read synopsis.

My Review:

While both books are independent and can be read in any order, it just made sense for me to read them in the order I have written the reviews.  I loved reading Erika Robuck’s book.  She leaves no stone unturned, and explores her mental illness and the way Zelda navigates through it, while being a wife and mother.  Told through the viewpoint of Zelda’s nurse, Ann, readers get an intimate glimpse into the struggles Zelda faces and how she tries to make sense of it all.

While in the hospital, Zelda writes a memoir that she lets Ann be privy to.  In those journals, Zelda shares the highlights and downfalls of her relationship with Scott, her life before and during her marriage, and how explosive it all was.  Ann also gives readers a glimpse into the relationship between Zelda and her daughter, Scotty, and how Zelda’s erratic behavior impacted her relationship as  mom and wife.  Scott needs his muse, Zelda, and to the demise of Zelda, often brings her home.  However, Ann is never far away and is the calming, strong force that helps them both through that tough period.

As a family therapist, I was absolutely intrigued to read about the way mental health was addressed, the therapies given in the psychiatric hospital, and they way Zelda flourished/caved in, different points of her treatment.  This is a book that will stay with readers for a long time, and is as heartbreaking and courageous as Zelda, herself.  I loved the balance between Ann’s story and Zelda’s and the look inside a psychiatric hospital, while also giving readers much to appreciate and adore in the person Zelda was.

After I finished this book, I downloaded most of the books about Zelda, which I hope to read at one point.   Truthfully, before these books came out: Z is for Zelda and Call Me Zelda, I had no idea how dynamic Zelda was.  She is an intriguing woman, who was more than just F. Scott Fitzgerald’s wife, she was a trendsetter, a fashionista, an artist, a mother, daughter, and simply a brilliant woman!  This is an excellent read and anyone who loves anything to do with “The Jazz Age”, F. Scott Fitzgerald, curious about mental illness and the impact it has on families, and Zelda Fitzgerald, will easily want to add this book to their bookshelf.

supreme cupcake rating 6

HFVBT Book Tour Review: Madame Picasso by Anne Girard

My Review:

This is by far the best Historical fiction novel I have read this year! Anne Girard is a masterful storyteller, weaving in a beautiful storyline where there are blanks in history about the relationship between Eva Gouel and Pablo Picasso.  We all know who Pablo Picasso is, his many relationships with women (who often became his muse), and the incredible artwork he created.  However, not much is known about the one woman who helped shaped his career, taught him love and forgiveness, and who he never painted a complete portrait of.  Even that portrait was never shown to the public, until after his death, which was found amongst many of his own personal belongings.

In the early 1900’s, Picasso was working his way up the ladder to become one of the world’s best artists.  However, during that time, he was really just starting out and with a few a paintings and a huge dream, he sets off to Paris.  Eva is a young girl, pushed by her parents to marry the fellow neighbor.  Determined to have a better life and make something of herself, she also sets off to Paris.  Eva starts out as a seamstress at the famous Moulin Rouge, where anyone that is important, will show up to see the performances.  It is there that Eva meets Picasso.

Through a test of their relationship and devotion, both Eva and Picasso set out to create their “Eden”.  Anne Girard introduces us to other fantastic artists and poets, who all seem to conjugate at Gertrude Steins home for exquisite parties.  It the place to be for artists to talk, debate, and reignite fires for their works.  While Eva wasn’t the first Madame Picasso, nor the last, she certainly is the one who left the biggest imprint on his life and art.

For the first half of the book, readers will catch a glimpse of their own personal challenges, the start of their relationship, and how they soon become partners, in every way.  The second half of the book goes very fast.  I kept sensing this impending doom, almost like a Romeo and Juliet sequence of sorts, and I kept finding myself holding my breath! I stayed up well past 3 am, because I had to know the fate of their relationship, and wept at the end of the book.  Then, like any other historical fiction fan, I googled Eva Gouel and was shocked to see that so little is known about her, which makes Anne Girard even that much more of a genius and incredible writer!

This is a phenomenal book, one that history buffs will devour in a day or two.  It’s a book that will stay with you for days afterward, and deserves the attention and merit that books like, Call Me Zelda, Z is for Zelda, and The Paris Wife received.  My only request is that someone now write a book about Gertrude Stein and her beloved partner, Alice!

If you have time, I highly recommend you visit Anne’s page.  She has an excerpt of the book, some background information on an interview she did with a friend of Pablo’s, and other interesting information! This is such an incredible book, that I even bought my own copy!

supreme cupcake rating 6

*This book was provided by the author and HFVBT for review, in exchange for an honest review.

About the Author03_Anne Girard

Anne Girard was born with writing in her blood. The daughter of a hard-driving Chicago newsman, she has always had the same passion for storytelling that fueled his lifelong career. She hand-wrote her first novel (admittedly, not a very good one) at the age of fourteen, and never stopped imagining characters and their stories. Writing only ever took a backseat to her love of reading.

After earning a bachelor’s degree in English literature from UCLA and a Master’s degree in psychology from Pepperdine University, a chance meeting with the acclaimed author, Irving Stone, sharply focused her ambition onto telling great stories from history with detailed research. “Live where your characters lived, see the things they saw,” he said, “only then can you truly bring them to life for your readers.” Anne took that advice to heart. After Stone’s encouragement twenty years ago, she sold her first novel. When she is not traveling the world researching her stories, Anne and her family make their home in Southern California. When she is not traveling or writing, she is reading fiction.

Anne also writes historical fiction under the name Diane Haeger. For more information, visit www.dianehaeger.com. You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.

Madame Picasso Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, August 25
Review at Flashlight Commentary

Tuesday, August 26
Interview & Giveaway at Flashlight Commentary

Wednesday, August 27
Review & Giveaway at Peeking Between the Pages

Thursday, August 28
Review & Giveaway at Words and Peace
Review & Giveaway at Kinx’s Book Nook

Friday, August 29
Review at Scandalous Women
Review at Curling Up by the Fire

Monday, September 1
Review at A Bookish Affair
Spotlight & Giveaway at Passages to the Past

Tuesday, September 2
Review & Giveaway at Luxury Reading
Interview & Giveaway at A Bookish Affair

Wednesday, September 3
Spotlight at Gobs and Gobs of Books
Spotlight & Giveaway at Susan Heim on Writing

Thursday, September 4
Review & Giveaway at The Maiden’s Court

Friday, September 5
Review at To Read or Not to Read

Monday, September 8
Review at Book of Secrets
Review & Giveaway at Mina’s Bookshelf

Tuesday, September 9
Review at A Chick Who Reads

Thursday, September 11
Review at Ageless Pages Reviews

Friday, September 12
Review at Caroline Wilson Writes
Review at The Book Binder’s Daughter

Monday, September 15
Review at Layered Pages
Review at Carole’s Ramblings

Tuesday, September 16
Review at She is Too Fond of Books

Wednesday, September 17
Interview & Giveaway at Let Them Read Books

Thursday, September 18
Review at One Book of a Time

Friday, September 19
Spotlight & Giveaway at So Many Precious Books, So Little Time

Monday, September 22
Review & Giveaway at Broken Teepee

Tuesday, September 23
Review at Books in the Burbs
Review at The Librarian Fatale

Wednesday, September 24
Review at CelticLady’s Reviews
Review at WTF Are You Reading?

Thursday, September 25
Review at Kincavel Korner

Friday, September 26
Interview at Kincavel Korner