Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Blog Tour Guest Post + Giveaway: Fanny Newcomb and the Irish Channel Ripper by Ana Brazil

Please join me in welcoming Ana Brazil to Let Them Read Books! Ana is touring the blogosphere with her debut historical mystery, Fanny Newcomb and the Irish Channel Ripper, and I'm thrilled to have her here today with a guest post about Gilded Age New Orleans. Read on and enter to win a paperback copy!

Gilded Age New Orleans is overrun with prostitutes, pornographers, and a malicious Jack the Ripper copycat. As threatening letters to newspaper editors proclaim, no woman is safe from his blade.

Desperate to know who murdered her favorite student, ambitious typewriting teacher Fanny Newcomb launches into a hunt for the self-proclaimed Irish Channel Ripper.

Fanny quickly enlists her well-connected employers—Principal Sylvia Giddings and her sister Dr. Olive—to help, and the women forge through saloons, cemeteries, slums, and houses of prostitution in their pursuit.

Fanny’s good intentions quickly infuriate her longtime beau Lawrence Decatur, while her reckless persistence confounds the talented police detective Daniel Crenshaw. Reluctantly, Lawrence and Daniel also lend their investigative talents to Fanny’s investigation.

As the murderer sets a date for his next heinous crime, can Fanny Newcomb and her crew stop the Irish Channel Ripper before he kills again?

Amazon ~ Barnes and Noble ~ Goodreads

Gilded Age New Orleans: 
So much more than hookers, hurricanes, and Mardi Gras!

Although late 19th century New Orleans was renowned for the hookers of Storyville, the devastating hurricanes of the 1880s, and the elevation of Mardi Gras to a state holiday, there’s so much more to know about the Crescent City during this time!

For starters, there was an assassination that was followed by lynchings (1890), an all-out political insurrection (1874), and a riot that killed 28 people (1900). There were duels in City Park and gunfights on Canal Street. There were too many bankruptcies, lottery swindles, and drunken sailors to count. And every year there was a long, hot summer and the constant threat of yellow fever or other maladies.

With a quarter of a million citizens and ships from the mighty Mississippi river depositing strangers in the city every day, someone was always causing trouble for someone else. Truly, Gilded Age New Orleans is a dream city for a historical mystery writer!

But back to summer…when the heat truly hit in late May, New Orleanians of means retreated to breezy coastal cities in Louisiana and Mississippi. During this “dull season”, those citizens who remained in town stocked their iceboxes, lightened their wardrobes and rooms with cotton fabrics, and, as advised by the daily newspapers, stopped working by 3pm.

And into this humid, hot mess of a city I toss my heroine, Fanny Newcomb. And ask her to solve a murder. Twenty-five and learning to make a living on her own, Fanny finds herself teaching typewriting to the hard-working factory girls of the city’s Irish Channel neighborhood. It’s a grim life.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Book Blast! The Painter's Apprentice by Laura Morelli

The Painter's Apprentice by Laura Morelli

Publication Date: November 15, 2017
The Scriptorium
eBook; 482 Pages
Series: The Gondola Maker, Book Two
Genre: Fiction/Historical

Star-crossed lovers with a costly secret. As the plague grips Venice, more than a quarantine divides them...

Venice, 1510. Maria Bartolini wants nothing more than to carry on her father’s legacy as a master gilder. Instead, her father has sent her away from the only home she’s ever known to train as an apprentice to Master Trevisan, a renowned painter.

Maria arranges to leave the painter’s workshop to return to her family workshop and to a secret lover waiting for her back home. But the encroaching Black Death foils her plans…

When the painter’s servants uncover the real reason why Maria has been sent away to train with Master Trevisan, they threaten to reveal a secret that could tear down her family and the future of their trade. She is forced to buy the servants’ silence, but as their greed steadily grows, Maria resorts to more desperate measures. She questions whether her heart’s desire is worth risking her family, her trade, and her future, but Maria’s sacrifices may amount to nothing if the plague arrives on her father’s doorstep and steals away everything she’s ever loved…

From the author of the award-winning The Gondola Maker comes a rich tale of Renaissance Venice, a heroine with a lust for life, and love against all odds.

Available at the following eRetailers:

Pre-Order Promotion

Author Laura Morelli is offering a set of great bonuses exclusively to her readers! If you like to delve deeper into the “story behind the story,” you’ll want to take advantage of Laura’s pre-order package, which takes readers behind the scenes of The Painter’s Apprentice with videos, pictures, commentary about Renaissance Venice, and other exclusive content. Learn more here: http://lauramorelli.com/preorder-tpa/

Praise for The Gondola Maker

"I'm a big fan of Venice, so I appreciate Laura Morelli's special knowledge of the city, the period, and the process of gondola-making. An especially compelling story." -Frances Mayes, author, Under the Tuscan Sun

"Laura Morelli has done her research, or perhaps she was an Italian carpenter in another life. One can literally smell and feel the grain of finely turned wood in her hands." -Pamela Sheldon Johns, author, Italian Food Artisans

"Sixteenth-century Venice is the star of Morelli's well-crafted historical novel about Luca Vianello, the eldest son of the city's most renowned gondola builder." -Publisher's Weekly Starred Review

"The heir to a gondola empire rejects his birthright but comes full circle in this fascinating glimpse into late-Renaissance Venice by art-historian-turned-novelist Morelli (Made in Italy)." -Kirkus Indie Book of the Month

"The Gondola Maker is historical fiction at its best." -Midwest Book Review

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Book Blast + Giveaway! The Graham Saga Series by Anna Belfrage

Please follow Anna Belfrage as her beloved Graham Saga series is blasted around the blogosphere, and enter to win Books #1-8!

About The Graham Saga Series

This is the story of Alex and Matthew, two people who should never have met - not when she was born three hundred years after him.

It all began the day Alex Lind got caught in a thunderstorm. Not your ordinary storm, no this was the mother of all storms, causing a most unusual rift in the fabric of time. Alex was dragged three centuries backwards in time, landing more or less at the feet of a very surprised Matthew Graham.

In a series of books we follow the life and adventures of the expanding Graham family, both in Scotland and in the New World - and let me tell you it is quite an exciting life, at times excessively so in Alex' opinion.

Sometimes people ask me why Alex had to be born in the twentieth century, why not make her a woman born and bred in the seventeenth century where the story is set? The answer to that is I have no idea. Alex Lind is an insistent, vibrant character that sprung into my head one morning and simply wouldn't let go.

Seductively she whispered about terrible thunderstorms, about a gorgeous man with magic, hazel eyes, about loss and sorrow, about love - always this love, for her man and her children, for the people she lives with. With a throaty chuckle she shared insights into a life very far removed from mine, now and then stopping to shake her head and tell me that it probably hadn't been easy for Matthew, to have such an outspoken, strange and independent woman at his side.

At this point Matthew groaned into life. Nay, he sighed, this woman of his was at times far too obstinate, with no notion of how a wife should be, meek and dutiful. But, he added with a laugh, he wouldn't want her any different, for all that she was half heathen and a right hand-full. No, he said, stretching to his full length, if truth be told not a day went by without him offering fervent thanks for his marvelous wife, a gift from God no less, how else to explain the propitious circumstances that had her landing at his feet that long gone August day?

Still, dear reader, it isn't always easy. At times Alex thinks he's an overbearing bastard, at others he's sorely tempted to belt her. But the moment their fingertips graze against each other, the moment their eyes meet, the electrical current that always buzzes between them peaks and surges, it rushes through their veins, it makes their breathing hitch and ... She is his woman, he is her man. That's how it is, that's how it always will be.

Graham Saga Titles

Book One: A Rip in the Veil
Book Two: Like Chaff in the Wind
Book Three: The Prodigal Son
Book Four: A Newfound Land
Book Five: Serpents in the Garden
Book Six: Revenge & Retribution
Book Seven: Whither Thou Goest
Book Eight: To Catch a Falling Star
Book Nine: There is Always a Tomorrow (November 2017)

Monday, November 6, 2017

Q&A with Tony Morgan, Author of Remember, Remember the 6th of November and 1617

Please join me in welcoming Tony Morgan to Let Them Read Books! Tony is celebrating the release of his new novel, 1617, follow-up to his debut, Remember, Remember the 6th of November, both centering on the infamous Gunpowder Plot and its repercussions--both real and imagined. I'm pleased to have him here today answering questions about his books and sharing his fascination with the Gunpowder Plot and this period in England's history.

From the back cover of Remember, Remember the 6th of November:

England in 1605… a country of religious tensions, concerns about terrorism, Europe and increasing government surveillance. A small group of conspirators led by charismatic Robert Catesby and Guy Fawkes plan regime change.

Remember, Remember the 6th of November is a thrilling retelling of the story of Guy Fawkes and the Gunpowder Plot – perfect for lovers of the books of C.J. Sansom and S. J. Parris.

Amazon  ~  Amazon UK  ~  Goodreads

Each year on November 5th the skies over the United Kingdom are lit up by a million dancing fireworks. As smoke rises from thousands of bonfires, groups of children toss an effigy of a man they call “the Guy” onto the top. But why?

These annual festivities celebrate the failure of the Gunpowder Plot of 1605 to blow up Parliament and kill the Protestant king James I. The fact is the man placed onto the fire is no ordinary “Guy”. His name was Guy Fawkes. He was in a band of tightly-knit Catholic conspirators. Led by charismatic Robert Catesby, they planned for regime change in England.

These infamous events are the inspiration for a new BBC TV mini-series, Gunpowder, featuring Game of Thrones star Kit Harington as Robert Catesby. They also form the background for two historical novels written by UK author Tony Morgan, who lives near Guy Fawkes’s birthplace in Yorkshire in northern England.

Hi Tony! Thanks so much for visiting today!

There are lots of novels about the Tudors, what sparked your interest in their cousins and successors the Stuarts?

I almost stumbled into it by accident. I wanted to find out more about why we celebrate November 5th. The more I read, the more hooked I became. Terrorists, religious unrest, government surveillance, women attempting to make their way in a man’s world, there was so much to write about.

Your first book is called Remember, Remember the 6th of November; the obvious question is why the 6th and not the 5th?

I have to be careful here. I’m on spoiler alert! The story is set in the tense first week of November 1605. It focuses on King James, Queen Anne and the government on one side and the Gunpowder Plotters on the other. Catesby, Fawkes and their co-conspirators are finalizing their plans to blow up Parliament and kill the king. They also intend to start a popular uprising, kidnap the king’s daughter Princess Elizabeth, convert her to Catholicism and place her on the throne.

The main action runs past the 5th of November and into the 6th, hence the date of the title. The reason becomes clear in the final chapters.

There have been a few murmurings about the new Gunpowder series not sticking too closely to the historical facts. Did you take a similar approach?

For the majority of Remember, Remember the 6th of November the plot sticks closer to the facts than the TV series but of course both are works of fiction inspired by real events. Like the TV series I want people to understand the Plotters’ motives, even if we don’t necessarily agree with what they did.  

Near the end of the book, I began to deliberately divert the story from the truth. A key sub-plot focuses on an anonymous letter which warned Catholic Lord Monteagle not to attend Parliament. This was real and it was used to alert the authorities, but who sent it? Was it one of the Plotters or perhaps a government fit-up? There are lots of theories, but to this day nobody really knows, so I invented my own version. Based upon the request of a book club, the book includes a handy “what really happened” guide to clarify questions on the blurring between fact and fiction.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Guest Post: Finding Diamonds in the Dustbin of the 19th Century by Destiny Kinal, Author of Linen Shroud

Please join me in welcoming Destiny Kinal to Let Them Read Books! Destiny is celebrating the release of Linen Shroud, second book in the Textile Trilogy, and I'm pleased to have her here today with a guest post about the themes that form the basis for her trilogy and her hopes for the future.

Following the award-winning Burning Silk, The Textile Trilogy picks up the story of two families, one Native American, the other French Huguenot, with the central novel in the trilogy, Linen Shroud. 

Here, as the changes that brought civil war to the United States gather and then break, a savage transformation challenges our dreams of possibilities on this new continent, transplanting the sensory world we evolved with as agricultural humans.

Pitched battles for the soul of the future are underway, echoing the bloody battle between North and South:

✥ Will the women of European bloodlines win the respect and equity their Native American sisters enjoy in their matrilineal culture?

✥ Will the craft village be able to hold out against the onslaught of the Lowell model, the factory’s assault on the fabric of community?

Finding Diamonds in the Dustbin of the 19th Century
by Destiny Kinal

In Linen Shroud Destiny Kinal beautifully illuminates how our ancestors approached conundrums similar to the ones we are facing in our time now, with vibrantly alive characters expressing both Native and European values. How does flax—a tough and finicky plant fiber with a willowy blue flower—transform into the luminous satiny textile that lasts for generations, growing more soft and supple with time? The formative struggles that Linen Shroud draws on suggest that the conflicts our ancestors succumbed to or mastered in the nineteenth century have shaped us to find solutions today to the insoluble.

The first two novels of the Textile Trilogy, each based on a fiber, are fused style to substance, silk being sensual and electric, linen being difficult to process but long-lasting.

Burning Silk celebrates the sensory world unmitigated by machinery powered by extractive fuels, which set a new pace for the rhythms of life.

Linen Shroud deals with conflict and the losses. The difficulty of creating something durable.

By the end of the18th century, it became clear that a new breed of settlers would not co-exist with mixed blood people. The lands we sought to take, we took by force, not willing to co-exist and learn a new way of life.

Linen Shroud reflects the many wars that were being waged in the middle of the 19th century.

Resistors were still thinking they might succeed. The fast-paced machinery of the extractive fuel age broke apart the traditional craft village, which had defined us as a species, to relocate community in the factory town.

The guilds of this time foresaw modernity's devastation to the environment and to the community. 150 years later, we are now fully witnessing the effects of a virulent capitalism and dislocation.

All of the damage that the nineteenth century wrought, and the twentieth century nailed into place, can be remedied, if we have both will and vision. Earth herself has proven to have strong powers of regeneration. Will we die as a species because we cannot moderate our consumer culture, the glut of which is choking us?

The Petroleum Era can be seen as a 150 year blip, an anomaly in the long span of the evolution of our species, the last 12,000 years being lived in small, agricultural, craft-based communities.

We already have the positive elements of reconstruction in place.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Blog Tour Holiday Blitz Q&A + Review: With This Christmas Ring by Manda Collins

From the Back Cover:

A wallflower determined to fulfill a dying promise, the rogue she jilted years ago, and an orphaned baby are all brought together amidst the magic of Christmas in this new novella from Manda Collins. 

Miss Merry Parks makes a deathbed promise to a schoolfriend that her infant daughter will be taken to her absent father. There’s only one problem—to find the baby’s father, she’ll have to consult his cousin, Viscount Wrotham, the man she jilted five years ago. The man she couldn’t forget. 

Alex Ponsonby, Viscount Wrotham, is stunned to find Merry Parks—looking more lovely than ever--on his doorstep with an infant in her arms. His shock soon turns to dismay when he learns his own cousin William is the man who abandoned his wife and child. As head of the family he’s duty bound to see right is done. But he can't let this opportunity pass. He’ll take Merry and the baby to his cousin, but he’ll woo her back in the process.

Merry agrees to travel with Alex and the baby to Wrotham Castle, where the entire Ponsonby family has gathered for Christmas, but her plans to see the baby settled then leave are ruined by a snowstorm. After five years apart, Alex and Merry will spend the week getting reacquainted. Perhaps it’s the spirit of the holiday, or the magic of the season, but there could be something else in the air this Yuletide…A Christmas Reunion.

Christmas Q&A with Manda Collins!

When do the holidays officially start for you?

The first frosty morning when there's a nip in the air and I can feel that winter is on the way. I love that feeling!

What's your favorite thing about the holidays?

Getting together with family and friends is the best. We don't necessarily see one another all that much during the year, but we all make time during the holidays.

Are there any holiday traditions you do every year without fail?

I listen to carols sung by the King's College Choir every year and spend at least one day boiling cloves and spices on the stove to get the house smelling like Christmas.

What's your favorite holiday movie?

The Thin Man starring Myrna Loy and William Powell as Nick and Nora Charles. (Of course MY favorite holiday movie has witty repartee and murder in it!)

Do you have a favorite holiday book?

That would be Christmas Angel by Jo Beverley. It's one of her early Company of Rogues books and I love the way Lucien and Beth and her children become a family over the course of the story.

What's your all-time favorite holiday song?

The Holly and the Ivy.