Historical

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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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!

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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

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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

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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

I Shall Be Near to You by Erin Lindsay McCabe

Posted on Updated on

Click on image to read synopsis.

My Review:

First, I absolutely love the title and book cover.  I understand there is another book cover, but the one I have is the cover I have posted up top.  The title sends chills down my spine, now as I reflect back on the love between Rosetta and her husband, Jeremiah.  The cover is a depiction of Rosetta (and any other female solider disguised as a man).  I have to admit, I don’t really enjoy reading about war.  I already know that there will be blood, gore, death, and family separation…and it all just makes me sad.  However, when I read the synopsis, I knew this book was an exception.  I’m so glad that I did read this book!

Based on a compilation of true stories, Erin brings to life the characters of Rosetta (Ross), Jeremiah, and the troops they fight with.  During the Civil War, I was shocked that there were many soliders (disguised as men), who fought in the war.  I realize I may be in the minority, but again-I’m not a war book reader, however it wasn’t until this book that I learned about the brave women-who fought alongside brave, young men, too.  Back then, physicals weren’t given and it was just your word and a signature that allowed you to join up for war.  Before the era of social media and internet, soldiers didn’t have ways of delivering and receiving mail often from their loved ones.  So, there were months before a letter was received.  Erin is so detailed in sharing more about the life of a solider, during a time when communication was limited, resources were scarce, and the unknown was their greatest challenge.

Despite all the war details in the book, Erin weaves a beautiful love story, in the midst of a very brutal, bloody, and horrific war.  These were soldiers on the battle front, who had to walk into the line of fire and see their comrades blown to bits, injured, and even had to bury those who were killed.  I can’t imagine the PTSD all these soldiers experienced!!!

I love the character: Will!!  He is also a solider, who has a “secret”, and shares it with Ross.  I love their relationship as friends, and the way they treated each other as equals.  Ross is one tough woman and I love the way her character is portrayed.  She is tough on the battlefield, is a loyal friend to her comrades, and is a devoted wife to her husband.

There are so many layers to this book: the role of women, the issues of battle, family issues, death, and friendships.  It’s an excellent book to read!  While there is some subject matter that readers may be concerned about (the details of a horrific war, homosexuality (only lightly discussed), some sexual implied scenes), it is relevant to the storyline, and is not graphic (besides the war).  None of those issues should dissuade a reader from buying and reading this book. I absolutely loved this book!  If you do read it, grab some tissue…there are some tearjerker moments!

*This book was provided by Blogging for Books, in exchange for an honest review.

 

HFVBT Book Tour Review: The Typewriter Girl by Alison Atlee

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My Review:

First, of all-I absolutely loved the title and cover of this book!  I’m a huge fan of artwork, and when it represents the storyline so perfectly-it immediately grabs my interest!

In the beginning, Betsy is just a “typewriter girl”.  Typing away, with all the other women in a factory.  It reminded me of the stories my MIL has told me, when she lived in Mexico and trained as a receptionist.  Every day, she had to wear heels, a little hat, black skirt with a white blouse, and gloves…just like Betsy (minus the hat).  It was all about appearance, as much as it was work ethic, so I was instantly able to picture the factory that Betsy worked in- long hours, little pay, and no recognition.  To this day, she still remembers how to write short hand!

I loved the book from the start.  The setting is during a time when women were working, but really just “staying busy”, until they are married and have children.  Betsy Dobson is the girl that breaks all the rules, finds her way amongst a male dominated world, and rises to the top because of hard work and sheer determination.  Betsy had a canary, that she takes with her everywhere. I cringed every time she called his name, “Thief”, but in some way it seemed quite fitting.  While Betsy isn’t a thief, she definitely changes her life, her story, to get a job that will hopefully change her future because her past is a place she doesn’t want to revisit again.  In her past, she had to give so much of herself, that in her future- she is not willing to give any of herself that she doesn’t want to.  It’s on her terms, this time.

What was most interesting, is that Alison Atlee writes this story from the Victorian era, but aside from the dresses and formal wear- Alison peels away the curtain and shows the gritty side to that time period with the language, the complex characters who are trying to make a better life, and fit in during a time when appearances were everything.

An interesting note, is that Alison creates a new place: Idensea (although I kept reading it as Indonesia), reminded me of the Grand Hotel (from the movie, Somewhere in Time).  The magical feel of the place, the different activities, and big events…just made me want to go there!

An excellent book with complex characters, who are misfits, trying to find their place and move up in their world!

excellent cupcake 5

*Thank you to HFVBT for providing me the opportunity to read this book, in exchange for an honest review.

About the Author03_Alison Atlee

Alison Atlee spent her childhood re-enacting Little Women and trying to fashion nineteenth century wardrobes for her Barbie dolls. Happily, these activities turned out to be good preparation for writing historical novels. She now lives in Kentucky.

For more information please visit Alison Atlee’s website. You can also connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Goodreads and Pinterest.

The Typewriter Girl Blog Tour & Book Blast Schedule

Monday, August 4
Review at Peeking Between the Pages (Audio Book)
Book Blast at Mina’s Bookshelf
Book Blast at Princess of Eboli
Book Blast at Literary Chanteuse
Book Blast at What Is That Book About

Tuesday, August 5
Review at A Bibliotaph’s Reviews (Print)
Book Blast at So Many Books, So Little Time

Wednesday, August 6
Book Blast at Let Them Read Books

Thursday, August 7
Book Blast at Mari Reads
Book Blast at Book Lovers Paradise

Friday, August 8
Book Blast at Book Blast Central

Saturday, August 9
Book Blast at Caroline Wilson Writes

Sunday, August 10
Book Blast at Book Nerd

Monday, August 11
Review at Just One More Chapter (Audio Book)
Book Blast at Gobs and Gobs of Books

Tuesday, August 12
Book Blast at Queen of All She Reads

Wednesday, August 13
Review at Historical Tapestry (Audio Book)
Book Blast at The Lit Bitch
Book Blast at CelticLady’s Reviews

Thursday, August 14
Review at A Bookish Affair (Print)
Guest Post at Historical Tapestry

Friday, August 15
Review at Brooke Blogs (Audio Book)
Guest Post at A Bookish Affair

Saturday, August 16
Book Blast at Broken Teepee

Sunday, August 17
Interview at Closed the Cover

Monday, August 18
Review at The Maiden’s Court (Audio Book)

Tuesday, August 19
Book Blast at Layered Pages
Book Blast at Always with a Book

Wednesday, August 20
Book Blast at Literary, Etc.

Thursday, August 21
Book Blast at Bibliotica

Friday, August 22
Review at Bibliophilia, Please (Audio Book)

Saturday, August 23
Book Blast at Reading Lark
Book Blast at Ageless Pages Reviews

Sunday, August 24
Book Blast at Passages to the Past

Monday, August 25
Review at Flashlight Commentary (Audio Book)
Book Blast at Historical Fiction Connection

Tuesday, August 26
Interview at Flashlight Commentary

Wednesday, August 27
Book Blast at Susan Heim on Writing

Thursday, August 28
Review at Luxury Reading (Print)
Review at The True Book Addict (Audio Book)
Review at Jorie Loves a Story (Print)

Friday, August 29
Interview at Jorie Loves a Story
Review at Books in the Burbs (Print)

 

The Typewriter Girl Swag Giveaway

One copy of The Typewriter Girl (Audio Book or Print)
Set of earbuds in a cute typewriter print pouch
A Typewriter Girl Happily-Ever-After t-shirt (features last lines from famous novels)
A vintage style postcard “from” Idensea, the setting of The Typewriter Girl
A “dream wildly” ribbon bookmark with typewriter key charms

To enter, please click on this link.

Giveaway is open to residents in the US, Canada, and the UK.

Giveaway ends at 11:59pm on August 29th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
Winner will be chosen via Rafflecopter on August 30th and notified via email.
Winner has 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.

TLC Book Tour Review: Last Night at the Blue Angel by Rebecca Rotert

Posted on Updated on

Reading this novel, I could imagine break out female actresses and singers, who are single moms and travel with their child(ren).  This story details the struggles and daily challenges Naomi faces to become a star, even at the expense of her daughter, Sophia.

Sophia is not your average little girl.  Of course, she is also living on the road, living with different people, and has a different perspective on life.  She is an observer, and journals words/thoughts/ideas in her two little notebooks.  While she doesn’t have a father in her life, Jim (Naomi’s manager) assumes that role and becomes a father figure to Sophia-who she looks to for support.

During a time of racism, sexual revolution, and the challenges of being a single mom, Naomi’s life is revealed through the eyes of her daughter, Sophia.  There are some lesbian moments in the book, although it is not explicit.  Nor does the author go into much detail about that part of Naomi’s life.  It’s an interesting tale and a cautionary one, because sometimes to gain fame, it means to lose those you love most.

 

great cupcake rating 4

 

About Rebecca Rotert:

Rebecca Rotert received an M.A. in Literature from Hollins College, where she was the recipient of the Academy of American Poets prize. Her poetry and essays have appeared in a range of magazines and journals. She’s an experienced singer and songwriter, who has performed with several bands, and a teacher with the Nebraska Writers Collective. She lives in Omaha, Nebraska. This is her first novel.

Follow Rebecca on Twitter: @RebeccaRotert.

Rebecca’s Tour Stops

Tuesday, July 1st: Drey’s Library

Thursday, July 3rd: Kritters Ramblings

Friday, July 4th: Sweet Southern Home

Monday, July 7th: Book-alicious Mama

Tuesday, July 8th: Books in the Burbs

Thursday, July 10th: Books à la Mode

Monday, July 14th: Becca Rowan

Tuesday, July 15th: BookNAround

Wednesday, July 16th: Olduvai Reads

Thursday, July 17th: Svetlana’s Reads and Views

TBD: The Written World