Monday, July 21, 2014

Blog Tour Review: Alias Hook by Lisa Jensen

From the Back Cover:

"Every child knows how the story ends. The wicked pirate captain is flung overboard, caught in the jaws of the monster crocodile who drags him down to a watery grave. But it was not yet my time to die. It's my fate to be trapped here forever, in a nightmare of childhood fancy, with that infernal, eternal boy."

Meet Captain James Benjamin Hook, a witty, educated Restoration-era privateer cursed to play villain to a pack of malicious little boys in a pointless war that never ends. But everything changes when Stella Parrish, a forbidden grown woman, dreams her way to the Neverland in defiance of Pan’s rules. From the glamour of the Fairy Revels, to the secret ceremonies of the First Tribes, to the mysterious underwater temple beneath the Mermaid Lagoon, the magical forces of the Neverland open up for Stella as they never have for Hook. And in the pirate captain himself, she begins to see someone far more complex than the storybook villain. 

With Stella’s knowledge of folk and fairy tales, she might be Hook’s last chance for redemption and release if they can break his curse before Pan and his warrior boys hunt her down and drag Hook back to their never-ending game.

My Thoughts:

I was so excited to read this book, especially because I've not really been a fan of Peter Pan. I always thought he was a bit of a brat, so I was very intrigued to read about him from the viewpoint of his great nemesis, Captain Hook! As the son of a wealthy British shipping merchant in the eighteenth century, James Hookbridge had the world at his feet and took full advantage of the pleasures it had to offer. In love with the sea and life on board a ship, he happily took on a privateering commission and swashbuckled his way across the sea, seizing the riches of enemy ships and leaving a trail of female conquests in his wake. Until the day he was captured by the French and thrown into prison to rot for several years. Upon his escape, he emerges into a world much changed, where everything he once loved has disappeared and a bounty has been placed upon his head for piracy. Angry and lost, he decides he might as well earn that bounty and throws himself into the cutthroat world of pirates. But along the way, he breaks yet another heart--only this time with disastrous consequences--and the beautiful Caribbee witch Proserpina banishes him to the Neverland to atone for his sins.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Blog Tour Excerpt + Giveaway: Alias Hook by Lisa Jensen

With a slight nod to Wicked, veteran film critic Lisa Jensen trades Oz for the Neverland and re-imagines one of Great Britain’s most beloved classics of children’s literature in her sparkling new novel, ALIAS HOOK (Thomas Dunne Books; July 8, 2014). In Jensen’s retelling, Captain James Benjamin Hookbridge is no storybook villain, just a misunderstood Restoration-era privateer trapped forever in a nightmare of childhood fancy. By filling in the back story, Jensen leads us to question what really is so wonderful about that “infernal, eternal boy” and his band of Lost Boys. The result is an ingenious send up, with Jensen providing a thoughtful meditation on love, war, the masculine and the feminine, and the delicate art of growing up. 

Meet Captain Hook, a witty, educated pirate captain cursed to play villain to a pack of malicious little boys in a pointless war that never ends. Everything changes, however, with the arrival of Stella Parrish, a forbidden grown woman, who dreams her way to the Neverland in defiance of Pan’s rules. From the glamour of the Fairy Revels, to the secret ceremonies of the First Tribes, to the mysterious underwater temple beneath the Mermaid Lagoon, the magical forces of the Neverland open up for Stella as they never have for Hook. And in the pirate captain himself, she begins to see someone far more complex than the storybook villain. 

With Stella’s knowledge of folk and fairy tales, she might be Hook’s last chance for redemption and release, that is if they can break his curse before Pan and his warrior boys hunt Stella down and drag Hook back to partake in their never-ending game. 


PRELUDE

Him Or Me

Every child knows how the story ends. The wicked pirate captain is flung overboard, caught in the jaws of the monster crocodile, which drags him down to a watery grave. Who could guess that below the water, the great beast would spew me out with a belch and a wink of its horned, livid eye? It was not yet my time to die, not then nor any other time. It’s my fate to be trapped here forever in a nightmare of childhood fancy with that infernal, eternal boy.

No one knows what came next, the part you never read about in the stories. I clawed through water bloodied by the corpses of my crew driven overboard to make a meal for the sharks, flailed for the hull of my ship before the sharks caught up to me.

I saw it all by moonrise as I hooked my way up the chains to the deck. One of my men lay asprawl on the hatch coaming, dead eyes staring at the moon, curled fingers frozen over his ruptured belly. Another had dragged himself a few paces toward the rail before he expired, leaving a smear of fresh blood on the deck that could never be stained red enough to disguise it. Half a dozen others lay about in shadowy heaps, limbs twisted, faces ghastly, silent as waxworks. Everything stank of blood and decay. One man was draped face down over the foredeck rail, arrows sprouting from his back. The redskins were teaching the boys archery, as if they needed any more advantage over us in battle. None of the dead were boys.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

I've Got Some Winners to Announce!

Lady Bibliophile

Amanda

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, July 15, 2014

Blog Tour Guest Post + Giveaway: Researching Historical Fiction "Just in Time" by Carol Bodensteiner, Author of Go Away Home

Please join me in welcoming author Carol Bodensteiner to Let Them Read Books! Carol is touring the blogosphere with her historical fiction debut, Go Away Home, a moving coming-of-age story set in America's heartland before, during, and after World War I. I was privileged to work with Carol in an editorial capacity on her road to publication, and I designed the book's cover! Read on to see how Carol learned to balance research with writing--a problem that plagues many writers of historical fiction, and enter to win a copy of Go Away Home!


Fact to fiction - Researching historical fiction “Just in Time”

As a reader, historical fiction entices me because I learn about a different place and time. I admire the author’s ability to choose just the right details to transport me to another era without bogging me down in details that are nice but not necessary.

As a first-time writer of historical fiction, my challenge was knowing what details I’d need. At the outset of writing Go Away Home, I knew my general story line and made extensive lists of things I’d need to know about the WWI era – clothing styles, farming methods, camera types, remedies for the flu, prevalence of cars, road construction, types of buggies. The list went on and on.  Then I set about finding resources to learn about each of these – trips to the historical society, interviews with subject matter experts, Internet searches that lasted for hours.

The research process itself became a passion. I loved it.

Eventually, however, I realized that while endlessly fascinating, the research was keeping me from actually writing. The research was uncovering a wealth of information that while interesting would probably never make it into my novel.

As a career public relations professional, I always subscribed to the belief that I needed to know ten times more about a subject than I finally wrote, yet the path I was on was becoming ridiculous. In that moment I fully embraced a writing mantra I now live by: Reading isn’t writing. Thinking isn’t writing. Research isn’t writing. Only writing is writing.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

I've Got Some Winners to Announce!

Denise

Soft Fuzzy Sweater


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!

Monday, June 30, 2014

Blog Tour Review: The Queen's Exiles by Barbara Kyle

From the Back Cover:

1572. Europe is in turmoil. In the Netherlands the streets are red with the blood of those who dare to oppose the brutal Spanish occupation. A vengeful faction of exiled English Catholics is plotting to overthrow Queen Elizabeth and install her cousin Mary, Queen of Scots on the throne. But amid the unrest, one resourceful young woman has made a lucrative enterprise ...

Scottish-born Fenella Doorn rules like a queen over a privateer's haven on the Isle of Sark. Her success at salvaging crippled vessels affords her gold and security, and it is on one of these ships that she meets wealthy Baron—and privateer—Adam Thornleigh. Secretly drawn to him, Fenella can’t refuse when Adam enlists her to join him in war-torn Brussels to help find his traitorous wife, Frances—and the children she’s taken from him. 

But Fenella’s own bold actions have put a price on her head. Now Adam and Fenella’s lives are in peril as they race across Europe in an attempt to rescue his young ones, defend the crown, and restore the peace that few can remember.

My Thoughts:

The author includes a very helpful historical note at the beginning of this novel that orients the reader in time and place and sets the scene for a dramatic story unfolding against a backdrop that I don't think I've ever encountered before in historical fiction: that of wealthy English Catholic exiles living in the Spanish-occupied Netherlands. We usually get this time period from the other side of the Channel, in Elizabeth's court as she attempts to keep Protestantism on top and fend off a multitude of foreign threats, but here we get to see what the rest of the world was thinking and doing during her spat with Spain. I really loved the setting of this and the intrigue of a group of nobles in exile, cozying up to the Spanish to bring down Elizabeth. But before we get there, we begin on Sark, a quirky little Channel Island that really illustrates what life must have been like for the people who lived so far from the mainland and so close to the shores of the enemy during this tumultuous time in history. It is there that we meet our hero and heroine, Adam and Fenella.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Spotlight: The Merchant Emperor by Elizabeth Haydon

Acclaimed fantasy author Elizabeth Haydon returns with the long-awaited new book in the bestselling Symphony of Ages saga!


This summer, the long-awaited seventh book in Elizabeth Haydon’s critically acclaimed epic fantasy series, the Symphony of Ages, will be published: THE MERCHANT EMPEROR (A Tor Hardcover; On sale: June 3, 2014). Haydon’s fans have been clamoring for this new book in her masterful saga, and it will also serve as a starting point for anyone looking for an addictive series that will transport and mesmerize. 




Praise for The Merchant Emperor:

“Haydon’s long-awaited return to her Symphony of Ages series (picking up where 2006’s The Assassin King left off) is a brilliant tapestry of familial sacrifice and adversity in a land of music and dragons….With taut plotting and unforgettable characters, Haydon’s latest will easily enchant new readers.” —Publishers Weekly Starred Review and one of PW’s Best Summer Books 2014

“The Merchant Emperor reads like a true epic fantasy, complete with a large array of characters and many plot lines and alliances to keep track of. Fans of ambitious buildups and grand battles will cheer and weep (depending on the battle) alongside the inhabitants of the Symphony of Ages. Haydon does an excellent job of managing such a large cast of characters; even when the sheer number of stories and people to remember becomes overwhelming, there is always a sense of intimacy that many epic fantasies end up missing.” —RT Book Reviews

“For those familiar with the history of Rhapsody and Ashe, two of the main characters from previous books, this volume will provide additional depth to their personalities as they are forced to make difficult decisions to save not only themselves and those they love but also perhaps the world they live in…followers of the series will be delighted with it.” —Booklist