TLC Book Tour Review & Giveaway: Shadows in the Sun by Gayathri Ramprasad

 

Publication Date: March 4th 2014
Publisher:
Hazelden
Source: Publisher/ TLC Book Tours
Format: E-book
Pages:  240
Genre:  Memoir
Synopsis:
“Everyone who struggles with a mental illness, or who knows anyone with depression, anxiety, or any other mental illness, must read this engrossing true story of courage in the face of heartbreaking adversity.”
—Dilip V. Jeste, MD, president, American Psychiatric Association

As a young girl in Bangalore, Gayathri was surrounded by the fragrance of jasmine and flickering oil lamps, her family protected by Hindu gods and goddesses. But as she grew older, demons came forth from the dark corners of her idyllic kingdom—with the scariest creatures lurking within her.

The daughter of a respected Brahmin family, Gayathri began to feel different. “I can hardly eat, sleep, or think straight. The only thing I can do is cry unending tears.” Her parents insisted it was all in her head. Because traditional Indian culture had no concept of depression as an illness, no doctor could diagnose and no medicine could heal her mysterious malady.

This memoir traces Gayathri’s courageous battle with the depression that consumed her from adolescence through marriage and a move to the United States. It was only after the birth of her first child, when her husband discovered her in the backyard “clawing the earth furiously with my bare hands, intent on digging a grave so that I could bury myself alive” that she finally found help. After a stay in a psych ward she eventually found “the light within,” an emotional and spiritual awakening from the darkness of her tortured mind.

Gayathri’s inspiring story provides a first-of-its-kind cross-cultural view of mental illness—how it is regarded in India and in America, and how she drew on both her rich Hindu heritage and Western medicine to find healing.

My Review:
This was an interesting read, as Gayathri writes about the challenges of acclimating to America, from India, where her faith, family, and teachings are deeply rooted.  It is learning opportunity for those not familiar with the Hindu faith and for those who are familiar, it’s a great homage. With a glossary at the end of the book, any reader will be able to understand the terminology used throughout the book.
I was most interested in the Indian culture and how the arranged marriage impacted Gayathri.  It was also quite shocking that in a country where women dress so beautifully and are educated, men still have an upper hand, as one man actually paid the college professor for Gayathri to fail-which was her first remembered descent into a deep depression.  Using their Hindu faith and traditional medicines, Gayathri’s parents try different ways to help her escape the traps of her mind.  However, she is unable to and hides her illness from everyone, feeling even more isolated.  In the midst of it all, Gayathri is at the expected age of arranged marriage, and she does her best to hide the depression that has truly affected every part of her life.
The most interesting part of the story is reading how Gayathri moves to America and the cultural differences she experiences and the ways she tries to integrate her faith and beliefs into an American lifestyle.  Married to a supportive husband, Gayathri continues to feel isolated, becomes quite thin (not by choice or anorexia), and describes the post-partum depression she experiences, the treatments she receives and how she not only improves, but vows to help others, too.
I would have liked the book to have focused more on the cultural assimilation to America, and to have had more pages to truly feel the author’s struggles.  However, it was also understandable there were times she was writing from second hand knowledge, as she had memory gaps-so there were times the writing did seem to gloss over  the demise she experienced.  Nonetheless, it is a great book to help break the silence people experience and the stigma depression has.  She breaks down many myths about depression: isn’t because one is weak minded (she is very educated), without family support (she has tremendous family support), isn’t because one is “wanting” attention (she would have done anything to remove depression from her life), and especially that depression isn’t a death sentence (she overcomes her mental illness, has a beautiful family, and is the founder of a wonderful organization).  This book provides hope to many and is a great tool for helping others understand the impact of depression.
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About the Author:
Gayathri Ramprasad is the founder and president of ASHA International (myasha.org), a nonprofit organization promoting personal, organizational, and community wellness. Gayathri received her first undergraduate degree in science from Bangalore University in India. At George Fox University in Newberg, Oregon, she earned a second undergraduate degree in management and information systems and a master’s in business administration. She is a member of the Global Speakers Federation and winner of the prestigious Eli Lilly Welcome Back Award for Lifetime Achievement and the Voice Award for Consumer Leadership sponsored by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

For more information, visit the website for ASHA International, Gayathri’s nonprofit organization promoting personal, organizational, and community wellness HERE.

Gayathri Ramprasad’s TLC Book Tours TOUR STOPS:

Monday, March 3rd:  Svetlana’s Reads and Views

Tuesday, March 4th:  Bookfoolery

Tuesday, March 11th:  A Bookish Affair

Wednesday, March 12th:  The Whimsical Cottage

Thursday, March 13th:  Patricia’s Wisdom

Tuesday, March 18th:  Lavish Bookshelf

Wednesday, March 19th:  Sarah’s Book Shelves

Monday, March 24th:  The Best Books Ever

Monday, March 24th:  Literally Jen

Tuesday, March 25th:  Bookish Ardour

Thursday, March 27th:  Books in the Burbs 

Friday, March 28th:  Good Girl Gone Redneck

TBD:  Booksellers Without Borders

 

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Win a copy of the book, courtesy of the publisher and TLC Book Tours!

One random winner will be selected on April 10, 2014.

Open to US/Canada.

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TLC Book Review: Two Sisters by Mary Hogan

Genre: Women’s Fiction

Publisher: William Morrow

Release Date: March 4/2014

Pages:  384

Source: TLC Book Tours & Publisher

Rating: An Excellent Cupcake

Synopsis:

One family, two sisters, a lifetime of secrets . . .

The third child in a family that wanted only two, Muriel Sullivant has always been an outsider. Short, dark-haired, and round, she worships her beautiful blond sister, Pia, and envies the close bond she shares with their mother, Lidia. Growing up in their shadow, Muriel believes that if she keeps all their secrets—and she knows plenty, outsiders always do—they will love her, too.

But that was a long time ago. Now an adult, Muriel has accepted the disappointments in her life. With her fourth-floor walk-up apartment and entry-level New York City job, she never will measure up to Pia and her wealthy husband, their daughter, and their suburban Connecticut dream home. Muriel would like nothing better than to avoid her judgmental family altogether. One thing she does quite well.

Until the day Pia shows up to visit and share devastating news that Muriel knows she cannot tell—a secret that will force her to come to terms with the past and help her see her life and her family in unexpected new ways.

Two Sisters is a powerful and poignant debut novel about two sisters—opposites in every way—as well as their mother and the secrets and lies that define them all.

My Review:

This book, on the surface, can seem quite simple.  Two sisters, both treated differently by their parents, living separate lives, have different relationships with their parents (as adults), and how an illness can bring a family together or separate them further.  However, there were so many layers to this book, that it made it quite interesting all the way through.

What I believe the author, Mary Hogan, truly shows is how hurt people marry other hurt people, and how those hurts can turn to rejection experienced by their children.  It’s a cycle, it’s a family pattern, and it’s sadly one that happens all the time.

Through Muriel’s pain, readers are introduced to the relationship she has with her mother, father, and siblings.  Pia is the woman, every woman wants to be on the outside.  Perfect relationship with her mother, husband, and the mom of a beautiful child.  She has the perfect body, perfect home, finances for anything her heart desires, even a full-time maid.  However, as life always shows: no one is immune to illness.

Pia, in her own way, wants to make amends with Muriel.  However, Murial uses this time to uncover family secrets and face the family, she has worked hard at avoiding.  Muriel is the girl, most will relate to.  Why? Because she opens the most vulnerable part of herself, as she shares different experiences that caused her pain, rejection, humiliation, and sorrow.

It was also interesting to see that regardless of how unemotionally connected Muriel’s mother is, Muriel works in a profession that reminds her most of the times she shared with her mom (even if she was simply used).  It was also quite interesting to see how Lydia and Owen stay together, despite their lack of love, simply because it was expected of them with their respective families.  Lydia is in love with someone else, who is married to his job (so to speak), and had they married would have been shunned from their communities.  Owen, while he is the most quiet in this story, has the greatest heartache.  He doesn’t marry a woman that did love him, he loses his relationship with his children, and he never fully comes full circle in his life.

Two Sisters is a window into one family, where two adults married for different reasons: none of which was for true love.  Sadly, it is their children who may the price for that and it impacts the relationships they have as adults.  Even Muriel’s brother, who doesn’t appear until the very end of the book, has his own reasons for shunning the family.

This is a powerful read.  I imagine many readers will experience disgust, sadness, and anger as each character unfolds in each chapter.  However, Mary Hogan does a remarkable job of bringing her readers to the brink with Muriel, only to give a ray of hope and some happiness for Muriel’s future.

If you love women’s fiction, contemporary literature (although the time period is questionable), relationships about families, love books about the underdog finding his/her voice, then you will love this book!

Also, did I mention the cover?  The cover is gorgeous, although it doesn’t really go with the storyline.  Maybe if it had been the suit, Pia picks out for herself, it would have fit.  Regardless, it is still a great book!

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*This book was provided by TLC & the publisher, in exchange for an honest review. No forms of compensation were given.

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About the Author:

Mary Hogan is the NAPPA Award-winning author of seven young-adult books. Two Sisters is her first novel for adults. She lives in New York City with her husband, Bob, and their dog, Lucy.

Follow the Author:

website/ Twitter/ Facebook

Tour Stops

Tuesday, March 4th: BoundbyWords

Wednesday, March 5th: cupcake’s book cupboard

Thursday, March 6th: Chronicles …

Monday, March 10th: Kritters Ramblings

Monday, March 10th: Sweet Southern Home

Tuesday, March 11th: No More Grumpy Bookseller

Wednesday, March 12th: BookNAround

Monday, March 17th: Drey’s Library

Tuesday, March 18th: Snowdrop Dreams of Books

Wednesday, March 19th: Kahakai Kitchen

Thursday, March 20th: The Well-Read Redhead

Monday, March 24th: Books in the Burbs

 

HFVBT Presents Julie Dewey’s One Thousand Porches Book Blast, March 17-28

HF Virtual Book Tours is thrilled to introduce you to author Julie Dewey’s historical novel One Thousand Porches!

A heart warming story about family, love, and perseverance, One Thousand Porches chronicles the lives of tuberculosis sufferers and their family members at a sanatarium in Sarnac Lake, NY. A beautiful story that is meant to inspire and uplift readers through the cast of characters that are genuinely kind human beings, readers have called One Thousand Porches “illuminating” and “historically significant”.

imageOne Thousand Porches
by Julie Dewey

Publication Date: November 1, 2013
CreateSpace
Formats: Ebook, Paperback

Set in the majestic yet untamed Adirondack Mountains of New York more than a century ago, an extraordinary story unfolds about a little known town called Saranac Lake.

The town is home to a man with a disease known as consumption, white plague, or as some called it, the red death. It is here that Doctor Edward Livingston Trudeau finds a hopeful cure for tuberculosis in the form of open air. Trudeau’s patients vary in age, gender, class, and race, but they have one thing in common. They must all choose to embrace life, even in the face of death, if they wish to heal at the Sanitarium.

Christine, a woman at the helm of her family, has already lost two children to the dreaded plague. But when her daughter, Collette, contracts the disease, she is determined to keep her alive. Venturing into unknown territory, Christine risks her own health and that of her unborn child, as well as her marriage, to help her daughter seek a cure that to many is absurd. Christine embarks upon a life-changing journey as she moves from caregiver to patient. In the face of adversity she must find the courage to sustain herself. When Lena, a factory worker and mother of three, begins coughing up blood she is faced with a decision no mother wants to make. She either stays with her family and risks her own death, or leaves her loved ones behind while she goes off in hope of a cure at the Sans. Big Joe, once a strong man for a traveling circus, seeks a quiet place to live out his final days in hiding. When he is sent to the Sanitarium, he is terrified to learn he will be housed with fellow circus performers for he is a hunted man. Gaunt and thin, he can only hope no one from his past recognizes him in his current state. Little Amy, a six year old child, must care for her entire family of seven, all whom are afflicted with different forms of plague. When she is diagnosed with a very rare form herself, she is sent to the Sanitarium and put under the care of Dr. Trudeau. Alone and afraid, Amy faces her fears and allows herself to dream of a future.

With a cast of characters so vivid, One Thousand Porches is a heart warming and engaging story that will instill hope and faith in even the most pessimistic reader.

Read an excerpt
Chapter 1 Pittsford, NY 1885

The sputum most likely crossed the hearth of our large country estate in Pittsford, New York on the scalloped hem of my favorite green velvet dress. The flattering ensemble with the well fitted bodice and bustle below my waist in the back. I was told this by my husband, James Lyndon, who made me watch while he set the garment to burn in our grate, the embers coursed thru the fabric destroying the residue left from a lungers hacking.

Consumption was a poor man’s disease, it was inconceivable that it gained entry into our pristine home miles outside the village by any other means. James had no one else to hold responsible for his son’s suffering so the burden of blame was mine in his eyes. I had ventured into town for groceries and fabric, as well as lunch with the ladies several times over the course of the month. I dare not remind my husband, but he ventured far more places than I did.

My husband could not bear witness as his sons flesh was consumed, his lungs gurgling and dissolving as he gasped and choked for air. All Henry’s strength and will were sapped from his body as he withered away in isolation. His soul leaving us for heaven mere weeks before his 18th birthday celebration this October. I was given no choice but to accept the guilt that Henry would never attend college, or marry and have children. James placed the blame squarely upon my shoulders and defiantly closed me out from our bedroom and from his affections, punishing me for the death of our first born son.

Typically solid and stoic to a fault, James became maniacal for a short time immediately following Henry’s death. Frenzied, he set off on a tirade where he emptied gown after gown from my closet along with dress coats, shoes, scarves and gloves, immersing them all in the raging blaze to be destroyed. James wasted no time, and stormed through the house ripping sheets and pillowcases off beds, kitchen aprons from hooks and even the old fraying rags under our sink that we stored for cleaning, were all set to burn.

“James, I beg of you, you cannot burn our entire wardrobes, we will have nothing left!” I screamed in a panic, trying to get through to him, but knew I could not be heard for his empty eyes did not meet mine but instead flickered across the house, leaping from object to object in search of anything else he missed, telling me in short, he was momentarily insane.

Amidst my pain and suffering I took great measures to prevent the bacteria from infecting the rest of us, beginning with scouring the house daily to an immaculate state until my fingers cracked and bled. In the evenings my gentle daughters slathered my hands, one finger at a time, with petroleum jelly and wrapped them in strips of cotton in order to heal. All of my remaining dressing gowns, the ones set aside to be tailored that James missed as he ransacked the place, as well as Collette’s and Emma Darlings were hemmed to mid-calf so as not to risk contact with the ground. Lucas and Daniel, our two remaining boys wore trousers that did not drag but I feared the disease and their fathers instability so intensely now that I made them take off their shoes on the porch and wipe the soles with rags dipped in boiling water the moment they got home from school. Then the rags were burned in our outdoor fire pit.

We were told the disease could lay dormant for months or years even, causing even more panic, and so the fires raged and our old shifts were ripped to make rags to use for boiling and cleaning purposes.

The disease known as consumption, white plague, the red death, or tuberculosis was especially harmful to anyone with an already compromised immune system, such as our Collette with her weakling lungs. It was spreading like wildfire across the nation and was being touted as the most fatal disease known to man, far surpassing typhoid and scarlet fever in its death toll. Taking nearly one in every seven Americans or four hundred souls daily. It took no prejudice in who it afflicted either. The elderly as well as children, men and women, black and white, poor and wealthy were disposed of but most often it was young adult males in the prime of their life, like our Henry, falling prey.

Doctors were perplexed by the spread of the disease, some believed it was developed based on the patient’s constitution, either physiologically or psychologically and therefore didn’t believe it could be spread. Along the same lines other scientists and researchers believed it to be hereditary and therefore took no precautions against it. Still others thought it was airborne spread from spitting, coughing, laughing, sneezing, and even talking. It was thought it could also be transferred from bodily fluids such as pus and bowel discharge. Doctors encouraged everything from wearing beards for the men to prevent the germ from entering their orifices, to eating nothing but diets rich in meat and dairy.

“I tell you Christine, this disease is contagious. We must be vigilant over our hand washing, and we shall each bathe nightly in separate water.” James spoke to me through his fog of grief.

Praise for One Thousand Porches

“I greatly enjoyed the time I spent reading this book. Historically significant as well as heartwarming, One Thousand Porches is an engaging tale of family, friendship, hope and perseverance in the shadow of uncertainty.” – Erin, Flashlight Commentary Blog

“This novel was fascinating. Of course I know of TB but to hear the history behind what Dr. Trudeau did for so many is remarkable. I think anyone interested in history and especially the history of TB and the development of the first sanitariums should enjoy this novel. I’ve read one other of Julie’s books and I find her writing to be very frank and real. I look forward to seeing what subject Julie tackles next!” – Dar, Peeking Between the Pages Blog

“One Thousand Porches is such a treasure. I learned so much about tuberculosis through the intertwined lives of Christine, Joe, Collete, Will, Amy, Daniel, and, of course, Edward Trudeau. Such inspiring lives these characters show us. As we advance in the 21st century, we can learn so much from those who lived, learned and loved over a hundred years ago. Thank you, Julie, for another illuminating look back in history.” – Cindy Gorham-Crevelling

“Julie Dewey loves history…that is clear!!! And, as in her first book about the orphan trains of old, she has again chosen to write about a time in our past that few remember. She writes about tuberculosis, and shows us that TB did not discriminate! She introduces us to a cast of characters from all walks of life, from the very wealthy, the poor and indigent, to everything in between. This is a warm story about people making the best of their circumstances after they are torn away from their homes and families!! Because I live in New York state, I was particularly intrigued. I feel a visit to Saranac Lake and surrounding areas need to be on my “bucket list”! I also love that Julie Dewey wove her own personal history into the story, with the introduction of LENA!!! As per her dedication, Lena was her great Grandmother!!!” – Dr Michael A. Radz

imageAbout the Author
Julie Dewey is a novelist who resides with her family in Central New York. Her daughter is a singer/songwriter, and her son is a boxer. Her husband is an all-around hard working, fantastic guy with gorgeous blue eyes that had her falling for him the moment they met.

In addition to researching and writing she is an avid reader. She is also passionate about jewelry design and gemstones. She loves anything creative, whether it be knitting, stamping, scrapping, decoupaging, working with metal, or decorating.

Visit her at http://www.juliedewey.com to get your reading guide for this book and to read an excerpt from Forgetting Tabitha, the Story of an Orphan Train Rider.

Book Blast Schedule
Monday, March 17
Historical Tapestry
Just One More Chapter

Tuesday, March 18
Layered Pages
Flashlight Commentary

Wednesday, March 19
West Metro Mommy
Turning the Pages

Thursday, March 20
Reading the Ages
Passages to the Past

Friday, March 21
Pages of Comfort
To Read or Not to Read

Saturday, March 22
Book Nerd
Reviews by Molly

Sunday, March 23
Carpe Librum
Books in the Burbs

Monday, March 24
A Bookish Affair
Oh, For the Hook of a Book

Tuesday, March 25
Peeking Between the Pages
Historical Fiction Obsession

Wednesday, March 26
CelticLady’s Reviews
So Many Books, So Little Time

Thursday, March 27
Closed the Cover
HF Book Muse-News

Friday, March 28
Broken Teepee
A Bookish Libraria

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Click link to enter the giveaway, and you may win one of the prizes below!

One Thousand Porches Giveaway
Win of the prizes below:
2 – Paperback copies of One Thousand Porches
1 – $25 Amazon Gift Card

Giveaway will run from March 17-28. You must be 18 or older to enter.
Winner will be chosen via Rafflecopter on March 29 and notifiied via email.
Winner has 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.

She Reads March Book Review: Lost Lake by Sarah Addison Allen

Publication Date: January 21, 2014
Publisher:  St. Martin’s Press
Pages: 304
Obtained:  She Reads & Publisher
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Synopsis:

From the New York Times bestselling author of Garden Spells comes a novel about heartbroken people finding hope at a magical place in Georgia called Lost Lake.

Suley, Georgia, is home to Lost Lake Cottages and not much else. Which is why it’s the perfect place for newly-widowed Kate and her eccentric eight-year-old daughter Devin to heal. Kate spent one memorable childhood summer at Lost Lake, had her first almost-kiss at Lost Lake, and met a boy named Wes at Lost Lake. It was a place for dreaming. But Kate doesn’t believe in dreams anymore, and her Aunt Eby, Lost Lake’s owner, wants to sell the place and move on. Lost Lake’s magic is gone. As Kate discovers that time has a way of standing still at Lost Lake can she bring the cottages—and her heart—back to life? Because sometimes the things you love have a funny way of turning up again. And sometimes you never even know they were lost . . . until they are found.

My Review:
Being a bit of a realist, this new kind of genre: whimsical fiction, is new for me.  I don’t even know if it is really a legitimate, certifiable, been approved by the book readers and writers of the world-kind of genre.  But, it fits for this book.

Kate is a recent widow, and having basically given her life over to her mother-in-law, to manage and control, Kate one day snaps out of it.  Going through boxes, her daughter comes across a post card from Lost Lake and both decide to venture over there as a one last thing to do, before living with Cricket (the mother-in-law).  Eby is Kate’s aunt and has made the decision to close Lost Lake and sell it to a big time developer.

Throughout the story, readers will become more acquainted with the visitors of Lost Lake, as will Kate and her daughter Devin.  Devin notices the magical qualities of Lost Lake, talks with an alligator (telepathically), and both help Kate, Eby, and others from Lost Lake make peace with their past and embrace their future.

I loved the storyline, the way Kate and Jack reconnect, and the interesting story of the alligator.  I loved the quirky characters in the book, such as Lisette and Selma.  The story weaves together so well, and even had me wishing I was there with them!

I loved the book and would highly recommend this to those who love a great story, enjoy fairytales, love women’s literature, and just want a great read.  I am also most amazed by the author.  As she was fighting her diagnosis of cancer, she created such a beautiful place with a storyline that deals with real issues, and characters we’ve all met or have in our life.  I am truly in awe of Sarah’s work and am glad she wrote a book with happy sprinkles to share with everyone!

 

 

Click here for book giveaways!

New Cover Reveal & Book Giveaway: The House at the End of Hope Street by Menna van Praag

Early LibraryThing Book Review & Giveaway: Starter House by Sonja Condit

Fiction Addiction Book Tours Review: Mary Bennet by Kate Allan

Synopsis:
No one who has ever seen me would suppose me a heroine. My situation in life, the character of my father and mother, indeed my own person and disposition are all against me.

MARY BENNET

Mrs Bennet is determined that all five of her daughters must marry. Mary overhears a conversation between her parents that shatters her already fragile sense of self-worth. She knows she is the least attractive of the sisters but to hear that her attempts to overcome this by being intelligent and accomplished are laughable sends her into a deep depression.

Mary and her her sister Kitty are sent to Derbyshire so that their elder sister, Mrs Darcy, can introduce them to suitable young gentlemen. Mary is satisfied to remain a spinster and is shy with gentleman. But she does decide she should try and improve herself.On the way to Derbyshire she meets a strange gentleman who she considers ill mannered. However she is intrigued by his knowledgeable conversation about old buildings.

On arrival at Pemberley, the home of the Darcy’s, Mary discovers that the stranger is a Mr Sharnbrook of Kent and also a house guest. Mr Sharnbrook is an amateur archaeologist and has come to Pemberley to excavate possible burial mounds as part of his studies. Mary is interested in his work and offers to help him sort out his notes. Engrossed in the work, her spirits begin to lift.

A continuation of Pride and Prejudice beginning eight months after the end of Jane Austen’s novel, Mary Bennet tells the story of how the Bennet’s neglected middle daughter tries to overcome the disadvantages of her character and find happiness.

My Review:

I have read, and re-read, Pride and Prejudice, many times. It is my favorite book that Jane Austen wrote, although I am a huge fan of all of her work.  In this book, Mary Bennet, Kate Allan uses much of the same pattern, experiences, and characters that Jane Austen created in Pride and Prejudice.  It helped create a natural extension of Jane Austen’s book, and was crafted in a way, that the characters in Mary Bennet stayed true to their characters, first revealed in P&P.

Mary is the middle child, the forgotten one (so it seems), and she is quite content to be so.  Why? Because she has already decided that fate has determined she will be a spinster and will not marry.  While it is difficult for her parents to accept, Mary is content reading, singing, and enjoying the activities that are limited to her male counterparts.  However, rather than feel comfortable doing so, her parents and family want her to “change” and be more “girl-like” with dancing and entertaining, so that she may find someone to marry.  Kitty is quite different- not only in her personality, but she has a strong desire to marry.  While she wants love, more than anything, she wants security, wrapped up in a very handsome man.

I loved the storyline, especially the relationship between Mary and Mr. Nick Sharnbrook.  As in P&P, Mary also is in a bit of a triangle with Mr. Sharnbrook and Mr. Collins, and Kitty quickly becomes a little like Lydia, in attitude and choices-although not quite ( I won’t divulge).  I enjoyed reading about the research that Nick and Mary collaborate on together.  It was amazing to be reminded again, how limited resources were back in those days, and how they excavated and recorded their findings.  Those little tidbits were what made this book fascinating.  It was also quite natural how the relationship between Mary and Nick (Mr. Sharnbrook) evolves over time.

Fans of Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth will absolutely love how their relationship evolves and the new adventures they embark on.  With so many cameos from the P&P cast, readers will enjoy learning more about their journey, relationships, and little adventures along the way.  More than anything, I appreciated Kate’s desire to show how Mary is accepted for who she is, and is able to find love with someone who appreciates those qualities in her.

About the Author

Kate lives in the Bedfordshire countryside, England, close to the Chiltern Hills. She developed plans to be a novelist at the age of seven after reading about the career of prolific children’s author Enid Blyton, whose adventure and mystery story books she read avidly. She taught herself to use her mother’s typewriter to try and make her stories look like “proper books”. Endlessly fascinated by “the past”, Kate took a degree in History before starting a commercial career.

She began seriously writing in 2001, taking a notebook with her on the train to make best use of her commute to work. She wrote two historical novel manuscripts before receiving an offer of publication for the second – a short novel – in 2004 from DC Thomson. Fateful Deception is a romantic adventure set in the early 19th century and was shortlisted for the 2005 RNA New Writers Award.

2006 saw the publication of Perfidy and Perfection, Kate’s romantic comedy set in Jane Austen’s England, and the publication of two short novels: Fateful Deception and The Restless Heart.

Kate also writes in partnership with author Michelle Styles under the name Jennifer Lindsay. Jennifer Lindsay’s first novel, The Lady Soldier, is a romantic adventure about a lady who disguises herself as a man in order to join Wellington’s army. It was published in 2005.

The kind of stories Kate writes are those that she would like to read, and she hopes that others will find them enjoyable and entertaining too.

Kate is member of the Romantic Novelists Association and the Society of Authors.

Author Links

Website

Facebook

Twitter @kate_allan

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Tour Information

17th March Books in the Burbs
18th March The Most Happy Reader
19th March Cosmochicklitan
20th March Review hosted on Shaz’s Book Blog @jaustenrulesok
21st March A Novel Thought
24th March Books with Bree
25th March Book Hoarder
26th March Rachel Brimble Romance
27th March Compelling Reads
28th March Deal Sharing Aunt
31st March Bookish
1st April DizzyC’s Little Book Blog
2nd April Bookalicious Travel Addict
3rd April BleachHouseLibrary
4th April Brook Cottage Books

Book Review: While Beauty Slept by Elizabeth Blackwell

ISBN: 9780399166235
Pages: 432
Release Date: February 20, 2014
Publisher: Amy Einhorn Books / Putnam
Genre: Historical Fiction
Source: NetGalley& Publisher

Synopsis:

A beautiful princess lies in a sleep so deep it is close to death. Was Sleeping Beauty revived by a prince’s kiss? What really happened in that tower so long ago?

While Beauty Slept re-imagines the legend through the lens of historical fiction, telling the story as if it really happened. A Gothic tale of suspense and ambition, love and loss, it interweaves the story of a royal family and the servants who see behind the glamorous facade, following the journey of a young woman as she lives out a destiny that leads her to the brink of death.

My Review:

Out of all the Disney princess movies, Sleeping Beauty, was one of my least favorites.  So, I really had no idea what to expect from this book, but I am glad did read it!

I love the way Elizabeth Blackwell takes a treasured children’s story, and expands on it in such a creative and genius way!  Even if you have not read Sleeping Beauty or seen the movie, like me, you will understand this story and appreciate the direction that Elizabeth takes this book.

With Elise’s point of view, readers gain an insider’s view to the Queen, Maleficent, and even Princess Aurora.  The story truly reads as if it is based on an actual historical event, or at least a real place, which is what makes this book so special.  Regardless of a “fantasy” place, readers will genuinely love the relationship Elise develops with different palace workers, the Queen, and her own love story, that is weaved in.  Overall, a beautiful story and one that will delight readers!

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

 

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New Cover Reveal & Book Giveaway: The House at the End of Hope Street by Menna van Praag

Click here for my review!

Celebrating the paperback release and new cover, Penguin Publishers has generously offered a paperback giveaway!

What would you do if you had ninety-nine days to change your life? When you enter the world of Menna van Praag’s magical debut, THE HOUSE AT THE END OF HOPE STREET (Penguin; On-Sale: March 25, 2014; 978-0-143-12494-8; $16.00) about an enchanted house that offers refuge to women in their time of need, that is precisely what you’ll begin to ask yourself.

When Alba Ashby, the youngest Ph.D. student at Cambridge University, suffers the Worst Event of Her Life, she finds herself at the door of 11 Hope Street.  There, a beautiful older woman named Peggy invites Alba to stay, on the house’s unusual conditions: she’ll have ninety-nine nights, and no more, to turn her life around. The enchanted house will help Alba get her life back but, Peggy warns her, it may not give her what she wants. It will give her what she needs. The house, invisible to everyone except those who need it, has had more than a few distinguished guests. Virginia Woolf, Dorothy Parker, and Agatha Christie, among others, all stayed there at hopeless times in their lives and still hang around—quite literally—in talking portraits on the walls.

At Hope Street Alba meets Carmen, a sexy singer who no longer performs, and seems haunted by something that is buried under a plant in the garden with flowers so dark they are almost black. Living with them is Greer, a failed actress who’s hiding a dark secret of her own. But perhaps most mystifying of all is Peggy herself, who entertains her lover on Sundays, eats chocolate cake for breakfast, and holds conversations with the illustrious tenants occupying the house’s walls. As Alba begins to piece her life back together she discovers her own family has been hiding truths from her, truths that will lead Alba to places and people she never knew existed and to a life she never dreamed possible.

Inventive, charming, and filled with a fabulous cast of literary figures, THE HOUSE AT THE END OF HOPE STREET is a wholly imaginative novel of feminine wisdom and second chances, with just the right dash of magic.

About the Author

Menna van Praag is a freelance writer, journalist, and Oxford graduate. She is the author of Men, Money and Chocolate. She lives in Cambridge, England, with her husband and son.

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Blogger’s Note:

This book gave me such a newfound love for whimsical magic, weaved into a storyline with very realistic characters! It’s a fantastic book and I am quite excited to offer this book as a giveaway!

Giveaway Details:

In the comment section below, please add your name/email and answer this question:

If you could have any literary author (from the 18-20th century) spend an afternoon with you, who would it be and why?

Giveaway ends, March 25, 2014.

US entries only.