Thursday, November 20, 2014

Blog Tour Review + Giveaway: Sinful Folk by Ned Hayes

From the Back Cover:

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

In December of 1377, five 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 Thoughts:

This is the story of a woman named Miriam, who has been living as a mute man, raising her child in a remote village after fleeing a monastery and a mysterious pursuant. We meet Mear (as she's being called by her fellow villagers) as an awful fire consumes the village weaver's home with five of the village's young boys inside, one of them Mear's own beloved son, Christian. The fire could have been the result of an accident--after all, these things happen. But the village soon discovers that someone had tied the door shut from the outside, and that the death of the next generation of young men was no accident at all. Suspicions and accusations immediately start flying, and many point their fingers toward the few Jews who still live in England, even though none of them live in their village. A handful of men decide they must seek justice, and so they set out with the bodies of their sons on an arduous journey to present their case to the king and demand satisfaction from a faceless villain.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Spotlight + Giveaway: Kathy Fischer-Brown's Blog Tour

Please join Kathy Fischer-Brown as she tours the blogosphere with Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours from October 6-November 30 for her Serpent’s Tooth trilogy – Lord Esterleigh’s Daughter, Courting the Devil, and The Partisan’s Wife – and her novel Winter Fire.

Lord Esterleigh’s Daughter (Book One, Serpents Tooth Trilogy)

01_Lord Esterleigh's DaughterPublication Date: June 13, 2012
Books We Love Ltd.
Formats: eBook, Paperback

Genre: Historical Fiction

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As a child, Anne Fairfield dreams of the father she never knew, the hero who died fighting the French and their Indian allies in a land across the sea. Her mother’s stories, and fantasies of her own devising, sustain and nurture her through a poor and lonely existence. Until one winter night, a strange man comes to call, and the life she has known comes crashing down like shattered glass.

Forced to confront sordid truths, secrets and lies, the headstrong young woman begins to learn that, like generations of women ruled by their hearts, she is destined to follow in their footsteps.

Set against the backdrop of 18th century England, Lord Esterleigh’s Daughter is the first book in “The Serpent’s Tooth” trilogy, which follows Anne from the rural countryside, to London society and into the center of the American Revolution.

Praise for The Serpent's Tooth

4 Stars “Jane Austen showed us the gentle side of 19th century England; Kathy Fischer-Brown sets her work a century earlier and shows us how envy, revenge, and greed can work to effect long-term changes on one young woman…. The author does a wonderful job of showing all these complications clearly, with apt description, and I could easily see this series as a movie-maybe one day I will. So, if you are a fan of dark gothic themes, enjoy seeing the underbelly of British society and what goes on behind the scenes, as it were, I highly recommend you buy this trilogy.” — Long and Short Reviews

4 ½ Stars “...This is a dark novel that deals with the resentment and anger of a girl who has been misled and cannot seem to get past her grief …. While not a typical romance, this is a fascinating, complex story that I completely enjoyed. It is well written and entertained me with mystery, suspense, scandal, sinister characters and first love.” — Romantic Historical Lovers

Monday, November 17, 2014

Blog Tour Q&A + Giveaway with Mary F. Burns, Author of The Spoils of Avalon

Please join me in welcoming Mary F. Burns to Let Them Read Books! Mary is touring the blogosphere with her brand new book, The Spoils of Avalon, first in a series of historical mysteries featuring real-life friends John Singer Sargent and Violet Paget, two stars of the Victorian London artistic community, on the trail of holy relics that disappeared during the reign of the Tudors. I recently had the chance to ask Mary a few questions about the inspiration for this new series and the challenges of writing a story set in dual time periods. Read on and enter to win your own copy of The Spoils of Avalon!

What inspired you to create a mystery series featuring two stars of the Victorian artistic community, Violet Paget and John Singer Sargent?

I had written about the two of them in a previous novel, Portraits
of an Artist, about the time in Sargent’s life when he was the toast of Paris, and about the spectacular disaster that unseated him—in the form of the scandalous Madame X. Violet (her nom de plume was Vernon Lee) was one of the primary narrators in the book, which presents the story as coming from several people (15 actually!) whose portraits Sargent painted during that time. I came to know and love John and
Violet, and when the book was done and published, I really missed them! I didn’t think I wanted to write another “serious” novel about them, so I decided to star them in their own mystery series. I love historical mysteries, and it seemed to be the right time to start my own.

What kind of research did you do to help bring these people to life in your novel?

I read several biographies for each of them, plus a lot of correspondence that has been collected. I was able, of course, to read Violet Paget’s actual writings (most of them available for free, now, at online places like the Gutenberg Project) and those have been very revealing of her style and opinions—she wrote in a highly conversational, exaggerated style, often stating outrageous opinions to provoke a conservative society into thinking about important issues. She was a very out-spoken person, extremely intelligent and argumentative, self-educated and a prolific writer. Sargent, on the other hand, though equally well-educated (they both spoke four or five languages fluently), was more convivial and amiable, didn’t like controversy or arguments, and had trouble speaking in front of strangers—but they were the best of friends from an early age, when their families met each other in Rome. John and Violet used to wander the dirty, derelict streets of Rome, from the age of ten onwards, searching for antique coins in the dirt and following the goats and cows into the hills above the city. He would encourage her to draw, and she would encourage him to write!

Saturday, November 15, 2014

I've Got Some Winners to Announce!

Amy C.

Sophia Rose

Linda B.

Emails have gone out to the winners.
Thanks to everyone who took the time to read and comment on these posts! Check my sidebar for more great giveaways!

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Review: Rites of Passage by Joy N. Hensley

From the Back Cover:

Sam McKenna’s never turned down a dare. And she's not going to start with the last one her brother gave her before he died.

So Sam joins the first-ever class of girls at the prestigious Denmark Military Academy. She’s expecting push-ups and long runs, rope climbing and mud-crawling. As a military brat, she can handle an obstacle course just as well as the boys. She's even expecting the hostility she gets from some of the cadets who don’t think girls belong there. What she’s not expecting is her fiery attraction to her drill sergeant. But dating is strictly forbidden and Sam won't risk her future, or the dare, on something so matter how much she wants him.

As Sam struggles to prove herself, she discovers that some of the boys don’t just want her gone—they will stop at nothing to drive her out. When their petty threats turn to brutal hazing, bleeding into every corner of her life, she realizes they are not acting alone. A decades-old secret society is alive and active… and determined to force her out.
At any cost.

Now time's running short. Sam must decide who she can trust...and choosing the wrong person could have deadly consequences.

My Thoughts:

I'm always drawn to tough, capable heroines, and seeing all of the glowing reviews coupled with the relevancy of the subject matter made me want to give Rites of Passage a shot. The world of a military academy was pretty foreign to me, and so it took me a couple of chapters to get used to it and fully invested in the story, but once I reached that point, I could not put it down.

Sam McKenna comes from a military family. Her father is a special ops hero and both of her older brothers followed the call to serve, though the oldest, unfortunately, ended up taking his own life. Sam wants to serve too, to make good on a promise to her oldest brother, to prove that she is just as capable, and to not let the fact that she's a girl hold her back. But more than anything, she wants to make her father proud and to feel as worthy as her brothers in his eyes. As one of only four females accepted to the prestigious Denmark Military Academy (which seems to be a fictionalized version of the Virginia Military Institute), she's on her way to making history. But not everybody is rooting for her to succeed.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Finding Treasure in Unexpected Places ~ Blog Tour Guest Post + Giveaway with Fire & Sword Author Louise Turner

Please join me in welcoming author Louise Turner to Let Them Read Books! Louise is touring the blogosphere with her novel, Fire & Sword, based on the true story of a young man carving a name for himself in 15th-century Scotland. Read on to discover Louise's local inspiration for her story, and enter for your chance to win a copy of Fire & Sword!

Finding Treasure in Unexpected Places...
by Louise Turner

Scotland is famous for its castles.  Eilean Donan’s the classic example, star of innumerable calendars and shortbread tins.  In popular perception, it’s the Scottish Highlands which have become synonymous with Scottish castles, Edinburgh and Stirling aside.

Where I live in the lowland west of Scotland, the landscape is about as far from dramatic highland scenery as you can get.  The area was heavily industrialised in the 19th century, marked still by centuries of mining and quarrying; in places it’s very urban in character.  But there are still castles aplenty; though most of them are little more than piles of stone, perhaps with a few walls and a gunloop or two if they’re lucky.  Some even survive only as a dot on the map marked  Site of ___ castle.

Glengarnock Castle
I can think of around ten known castle sites within a few miles of where I live.  And while in most cases, there’s not much left of these old medieval structures, the history still survives.  If you dig a little deeper, there’s still plenty to discover. And plenty to learn.

I’ve been writing for almost as long as I can remember.  At first, I wrote (and read) science fiction and fantasy, studying archaeology at university because I thought it would help me develop ideas. Perhaps making the transition to historical fiction was inevitable – why go out of your way to create entirely fictional stories when there are so many tales worth telling which actually happened? Writing historical fiction isn’t exactly a cop-out – to get it right takes a lot of research.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Book Blast! John Chase Mystery Series by S.K. Rizzolo

Please join S.K. Rizzolo as she tours the blogosphere for the John Chase Regency Mystery Series Book Blast, from November 3-16, and be entered to win all three books in the trilogy!

The Rose in the Wheel (Book One)

Publication Date: January 1, 2002
Poisoned Pen Press
Formats: Hardcover, Paperback, eBook

Series: John Chase Mystery Series (Book One)
Genre: Historical Mystery/Regency

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This well imagined, carefully detailed, and cleverly plotted debut draws on actual historical events of 1811 London.

Regency London knows Constance Tyrone as the conspicuously celibate founder of the St. Catherine Society, dedicated to helping poor women. One wet November evening a carriage mows down Constance outside her office. Curiously, while her corpse’s one foot is bare, the other is shod in a clean satin slipper despite the muddy road. Why was a gentlewoman abroad in the night? And if she died under the wheel, whose hands bruised her neck and stole her monogrammed crucifix?

Dismissing the idea of an accident, Bow Street Runner John Chase forms an unlikely alliance with Penelope Wolfe, wife of the chief suspect. A young mother paying the price for an imprudent marriage, Penelope is eager to clear her husband Jeremy, a feckless portrait painter whose salacious drawings of the victim suggest an erotic interest. Chase’s first task is to learn the identity of the mysterious benefactor who goes bail for Wolfe while Penelope traces the victim’s last movements. Barrister Edward Buckler, intrigued, shakes off his habitual lethargy and joins their investigation.

As horrifying murders on the Ratcliffe Highway claim all London’s attention, the trio discovers that it won’t be easy to unravel the enigma of Constance Tyrone, a woman who revives the legend of martyred St. Catherine.