Daughter of Sand and Stone by Libbie Hawker #review #giveaway #TLCBookTours

About the book, Daughter of Sand and Stone Daughter of Sand and Stone

Hardcover: 312 Pages

Publisher: Lake Union Publishing (December 1, 2015)

When Zenobia takes control of her own fate, will the gods punish her audacity?

Zenobia, the proud daughter of a Syrian sheikh, refuses to marry against her will. She won’t submit to a lifetime of subservience. When her father dies, she sets out on her own, pursuing the power she believes to be her birthright, dreaming of the Roman Empire’s downfall and her ascendance to the throne.

Defying her family, Zenobia arranges her own marriage to the most influential man in the city of Palmyra. But their union is anything but peaceful—his other wife begrudges the marriage and the birth of Zenobia’s son, and Zenobia finds herself ever more drawn to her guardsman, Zabdas. As war breaks out, she’s faced with terrible choices.

From the decadent halls of Rome to the golden sands of Egypt, Zenobia fights for power, for love, and for her son. But will her hubris draw the wrath of the gods? Will she learn a “woman’s place,” or can she finally stake her claim as Empress of the East?

Buy, read, and discuss Daughter of Sand and Stone

Amazon | Books-A-Million | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads


About the author, Libbie Hawker Libbie Hawker

Libbie Hawker writes historical and literary fiction featuring deeply human characters, with rich details of time and place. She is the author of ten novels, most of which take place in the distant past among ancient civilizations. She lives in the beautiful San Juan Islands with her husband.

Connect with Libbie

Website | Facebook


My Thoughts

There are books that you read and think, “oh, that was a nice story,” and there are books that you have to sit with, and that sit with you. For me, Daughter of Sand and Stone was the latter, because it takes the central message of feminism – that a woman’s place is where she determines it should be – and frames it in a fictional telling of the life of Zenobia, Syria’s legendary warrior queen.

I could talk about the timeliness of this novel being published while Syria is once again in the spotlight of the world’s stage with citizens fleeing for their lives. I could talk about the way author Libbie Hawker showed us what daily life in the year 260 might have been like for wellborn women. I could even talk about the way even the greatest supporting characters were women: Zenobia’s mother and sisters. I could even talk about whether or not the ending of the novel, and Zenobia’s last major life-choice do a disservice to the woman whose story we’re following.

All of those things are relevant, interesting points but here’s what really struck me about Hawker’s portrayal of Zenobia:

She’s an educated, snarky bad-ass woman.

Okay, that sounds fluffier than I meant it to, but so many stories about Zenobia treat her like a legend and a goddess, and yes, she does have some mythical qualities, but it was just so refreshing to see this iconic woman treated as a real person. A dimensional person. A woman who is funny and flawed, who loves and hates, and sometimes makes bad choices. A woman who, but for a couple of thousand years of history, could be any woman in the world.

But the author’s version of the main character isn’t the only thing great about this book. The language is just beautiful. It sings on the page and makes you (well, it made me) walk around the house reading it aloud to my husband, my dog, anyone who would listen.

The language is absolutely contemporary, and yet it evokes a different way of speaking and listening.

Read this book. You will not regret it.

Goes well with coffee and spice bread with goat cheese and figs.


 

Giveaway

One lucky winner in the US or Canada can win a copy of Daughter of Sand and Stone

To enter:  Leave a comment on this entry (include a working email address – only I will see it) telling me about a time you challenged authority.

You can also find my tweet about this review (I’m @melysse on Twitter) and retweet it (make sure I’m tagged).

Contest is open until 11:59 PM CST on Monday,  December 7th.

Winner will be notified by email (or Twitter), and must provide their mailing address, which will be forwarded to the publicist for fulfillment.


Libbie Hawker’s TLC Book Tours TOUR STOPS: TLC Book Tours

Monday, November 30th: Peeking Between the Pages

Tuesday, December 1st: Bibliotica

Tuesday, December 1st: Life is Story

Wednesday, December 2nd: Reading Reality

Thursday, December 3rd: A Chick Who Reads

Friday, December 4th: Thoughts from an Evil Overlord

Monday, December 7th: Luxury Reading

Tuesday, December 8th: Spiced Latte Reads

Wednesday, December 9th: Book Dilettante

Thursday, December 10th: Mom’s Small Victories

Friday, December 11th: Book Nerd

Monday, December 14th: 100 Pages a Day…Stephanie’s Book Reviews

Monday, December 14th: Book Babe

Tuesday, December 15th: A Bookish Affair

Wednesday, December 16th: The Reader’s Hollow

Thursday, December 17th: Books a la Mode – author guest post

Monday, December 21st: Raven Haired Girl

Tuesday, December 22nd: The Lit Bitch

Friday, December 25th: Patricia’s Wisdom

Tuesday, December 29th: I’m Shelfish

Tuesday, December 29th: Time 2 Read

Wednesday, December 30th: Broken Teepee

The Crescent Spy, by Michael Wallace #TLCBookTours #review

About the book, The Crescent Spy The Crescent Spy

Paperback: 325 pages

Publisher: Lake Union Publishing (November 10, 2015)

Writing under a man’s name, Josephine Breaux is the finest reporter at Washington’s Morning Clarion. Using her wit and charm, she never fails to get the scoop on the latest Union and Confederate activities. But when a rival paper reveals her true identity, accusations of treason fly. Despite her claims of loyalty to the Union, she is arrested as a spy and traitor.

To Josephine’s surprise, she’s whisked away to the White House, where she learns that President Lincoln himself wishes to use her cunning and skill for a secret mission in New Orleans that could hasten the end of the war. For Josephine, though, this mission threatens to open old wounds and expose dangerous secrets. In the middle of the most violent conflict the country has ever seen, can one woman overcome the treacherous secrets of her past in order to secure her nation’s future?

Buy, read, and discuss The Crescent Spy

Amazon | Books-A-Million | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads


About the author, Michael Wallace Michael Wallace

Michael Wallace was born in California and raised in a small religious community in Utah, eventually heading east to live in Rhode Island and Vermont. In addition to working as a literary agent and innkeeper, he has been a software engineer for a Department of Defense contractor programming simulators for nuclear submarines. He is the author of more than twenty novels, including the Wall Street Journal bestselling Righteous series, set in a polygamist enclave in the desert.


My Thoughts MissMeliss

From the opening chapter where we meet Josephine Breaux pragmatically stripping off her hoop skirts and riding away in only her bloomers, to the very last page, Michael Wallace’s historical adventure, The Crescent Spy, is fascinating, thrilling, and a lot of fun. It’s also, at times, quite brutally honest in its depiction of Civil War-era America, and the treatment of wounded soldiers and women.

Josephine is a fierce, smart, motivated woman, who reminded me (in good ways) of another literary Josephine, though Wallace is , of course, nothing like Alcott. He is a contemporary author who writes historical fiction. She was writing stories that were contemporary to her. But this wasn’t meant to be a comparison of two fictional Josephines. Wallace writes his female protagonist very well. I felt like I was seeing Washington and New Orleans through her eyes.

I really appreciated the level of detail Wallace put into this novel. The dialogue was accessible but still ‘felt’ period. The descriptions were vivid, down to the sound of wooden wheels on the street, and all of the characters were incredibly dimensional.

I was so into this novel, that I completely forgot I was reading it for a review, and not just to enjoy.

Goes well with cafe au lait and beignets.


Michael Wallace’s TLC Book Tours TOUR STOPS: TLC Book Tours

Monday, November 9th: Life is Story

Monday, November 9th: Literary Lindsey

Tuesday, November 10th: Broken Teepee

Wednesday, November 11th: Time 2 Read

Thursday, November 12th: Kritter’s Ramblings

Thursday, November 12th: Thoughts on This ‘n That

Monday, November 16th: 100 Pages a Day

Monday, November 16th: FictionZeal

Tuesday, November 17th: Book Babe

Wednesday, November 18th: Reading Reality

Thursday, November 19th: Bibliotica

Friday, November 20th: Just One More Chapter

Monday, November 23rd: It’s a Mad Mad World

Tuesday, November 24th: Historical Fiction Obsession

Wednesday, December 2nd: Mom in Love with Fiction

 

The Visitant: A Venetian Ghost Story, by Megan Chance (@meganschance) #review #giveaway #TLCBookTours

About the book,  The Visitant: A Venetian Ghost Story The VIsitant: A Venetian Ghost Story

  • Paperback: 339 pages
  • Publisher: Lake Union Publishing (September 22, 2015)

The shadows of Venice have long inspired writers—from Henry James and Thomas Mann to Daphne DuMaurier and Ian McEwan. Now, its Megan Chance’s turn, as the acclaimed novelist takes readers through the alleys and canals of this ageless and mysterious city in her compelling new book, The Visitant: A Venetian Ghost Story (Lake Union Publishing; September 22, 2015). Part haunted tale, part love story, part mystery, this riveting historical novel explores the truth behind a terrifying reality, as a young American woman, immersed in a strange foreign culture, encounters a world beyond her wildest imaginings. Buried secrets of a tragic past converge, threatening to destroy not just her hopes of redemption, but her very life.

Set in 1884, The Visitant paints an unforgettable portrait of a decaying city and the secrets that lurk in its dark, crumbling corners. Elena Spira has arrived there to take up the duties of nurse to a young epileptic man who has descended to the depths both physically and psychologically. Samuel Farber wants none of Elena’s help as he wallows in a laudanum-triggered haze of hallucinations. Samuel speaks of visits from a spirit, seemingly wild claims that Elena first rejects as drug-fueled. But, the truth is far more sinister. When Samuel’s best friend and host, Nero Basilio, arrives, Elena finds herself drawn to this charming man as he shows her the hidden delights of Venice. But there are dark forces at play—forces that Elena cannot begin to comprehend. Casa Basilio possesses a tragic history, and a ghost whose presence may be driving Samuel to madness.

Buy, read, and discuss The Visitant: A Venetian Ghost Story

Amazon | Books-A-Million | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads


About the author, Megan Chance Megan Chance

Megan Chance is a critically acclaimed, award-winning author of historical fiction, including Inamorata, Bone River, and City of Ash. Her novels have been chosen for the Borders Original Voices and Book Sense programs. A former television news photographer and graduate of Western Washington University, Chance lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband and two daughters.

Connect with Megan

Website | Facebook | Twitter


My Thoughts MissMeliss

From the moment I opened this book (well, the file on my Kindle) and joined Elena on her journey, I was hooked on this story. It’s the perfect blend of moody, mouldering castle descriptions, historical thriller, and romance, with just enough of the supernatural to make you kind of glad all the rooms in Casa Basilio are dimly lit, so you can’t tell what’s lurking in the corners.

Elena, the nurse sent to care for a family benefactor’s son, is both strong and feminine. She isn’t afraid to exert her rightful authority, but she also isn’t so impulsive as to leap without looking, and I really liked this about her, because when love finally entered her sphere, it did so in a way I found really organic and believable.

Similarly the characters of Nero and Samuel are both rich and textured. I particularly liked the way author Megan Chance gave the latter epilepsy, and then kept his illness within the context of late nineteenth-century Venice.

Gulia, Zuan, and Madame were all complex and interesting characters as well, and then of course, there’s Laura, who exists as a ghost, a memory, a fever dream, and is absolutely a character in her own right.

Chance’s deft handiwork keeps this novel moody and atmospheric, but the plot never feels slow or plodding. Like the decay creeping over the huge house, the story is nuanced, here poking into one crack, there washing over another. I liked the use of language, not just the specific word choices the author made, but also the fact that Elena doesn’t speak Italian, and has to get by in English (she’s American) or French.  Adding that communication barrier adds to Elena’s isolation and confusion, and enhances the mood for the reader.

Overall, I found this novel rich with description, pouring with plot, and a great psychological exercise. Which is scarier: the kind of ghost that exists as a metaphysical being, or the kind that is conjured by our own unresolved emotions: guilt, grief, loss?

Read The Visitant: A Venetian Ghost Story to make that determination for yourself.

Goes well with strong cheese, fresh bread, and a hearty bowl of minestrone soup, the latter of which isn’t mentioned in the book, but everything was so dismal and damp that, trust me, it’s in order.


Giveaway The VIsitant: A Venetian Ghost Story

One reader in the US or Canada will win a copy of this book. (Winner notified by email, winner’s name and address to be forwarded to TLC Book Tours, who will, in turn, relay to the publisher, who will provide the copy.)

TO ENTER: Leave a comment answering this question: Do you believe in ghosts? Why or why not? Alternatively, you can tweet about this review, just make sure you tag me (@Melysse) when you do.

Contest open until 11:59 PM CDT on Wednesday, October 14, 2015.


Megan Chance’s TLC Book Tours TOUR STOPS: TLC Book Tours

Monday, September 21st: Bookish Whimsy

Tuesday, September 22nd: FictionZeal

Tuesday, September 22nd: Bibliophilia, Please

Wednesday, September 23rd: 100 Pages a Day…Stephanie’s Book Reviews

Thursday, September 24th: Kissin’ Blue Karen

Friday, September 25th: Walking with Nora

Monday, September 28th: No More Grumpy Bookseller

Tuesday, September 29th: Savvy Verse and Wit

Wednesday, September 30th: Vox Libris

Monday, October 5th: Kahakai Kitchen

Tuesday, October 6th: A Chick Who Reads

Wednesday, October 7th: Mom in Love with Fiction

Thursday, October 8th: Bibliotica

Friday, October 9th: Peeking Between the Pages

Monday, October 12th: It’s a Mad Mad World

Tuesday, October 13th: From the TBR Pile

Wednesday, October 14th: Books a la Mode – author guest post

Thursday, October 15th: Mom’s Small Victories

Date TBD: Romantic Historical Reviews

Oliver & Jack at Lodgings in Lyme, by Christina E. Pilz (@ChristinaEPilz) #review @HFVBT

About the book, Oliver & Jack At Lodgings in Lyme (Fagin’s Boy, Book 2) Oliver & Jack at Lodgings in Lyme

  • Publication Date: June 14, 2015,  Blue Rain Press
  • Format: eBook & Paperback; 450 Pages
  • Genre: Historical/LGBT/M/M Romance

An ex-apprentice and his street thief companion flee the dangers of Victorian London and the threat of the hangman’s noose in search of family and the promise of a better life.

After Oliver Twist commits murder to protect Jack Dawkins (The Artful Dodger), both must flee London’s familiar but dangerous environs for safety elsewhere. Together they travel to Lyme Regis in the hopes of finding Oliver’s family. Along the way, Jack becomes gravely ill and Oliver is forced to perform manual labor to pay for the doctor’s bills.

While Oliver struggles to balance his need for respectability with his growing love for Jack, Jack becomes disenchanted with the staid nature of village life and his inability to practice his trade. But in spite of their personal struggles, and in the face of dire circumstances, they discover the depth of their love for each other.

Buy, read, and discuss Oliver & Jack at Lodgings in Lyme

AMAZON | BARNES & NOBLE | ITUNES | KOBO | GOODREADS


About the author, Christina E. Pilz Christina E. Pilz

Christina was born in Waco, Texas in 1962. After living on a variety of air force bases, in 1972 her Dad retired and the family moved to Boulder, Colorado. There amidst the clear, dry air of the high plains, as the moss started to grow beneath her feet, her love for historical fiction began with a classroom reading of Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder.

She attended a variety of community colleges (Tacoma Community College) and state universities (UNC-Greeley, CU-Boulder, CU-Denver), and finally found her career in technical writing, which, between layoffs, she has been doing for 18 years. During that time, her love for historical fiction and old-fashioned objects, ideas, and eras has never waned.

In addition to writing, her interests include road trips around the U.S. and frequent flights to England, where she eats fish and chips, drinks hard cider, and listens to the voices in the pub around her. She also loves coffee shops, mountain sunsets, prairie storms, and the smell of lavender. She is a staunch supporter of the Oxford comma.

Connect with Christina

WEBSITE | BLOG | FACEBOOK | TWITTER | GOODREADS | PINTEREST


My Thoughts: MissMeliss

When I read the description of this book in the email from HFVBT, I thought, “Really? An m/m romance between Oliver Twist and the Artful Dodger?” The concept very quickly grew on me, and so I volunteered to be a reviewer.

My only disappointment is that I’ve never read the first book in the series, so I was a bit muddled about the ages of Oliver and Jack, but aside from that, the necessary information from the previous plot is all there in context and there’s just enough exposition to make you understand what happened without feeling like someone’s telling you the previous plot in its entirety.

From the start, I really loved Christina E. Pilz’s writing style. This is an historical novel, but the language is completely accessible while still retaining that ‘period’ feel. I especially appreciate that she didn’t try to emulate Dickens, because that would have taken this story, this beautiful, beautiful story, into the realm of pastiche, or worse, parody.

And it is a beautiful story, one that involves deep friendship that turns into real love, and addresses everything from the roles society expects us to play to our own great expectations about how our lives will turn out. Oliver is a bit self-entitled, Jack is a bit too attached to his ‘career’ as a pickpocket (one he excels at, but still…) and each has issues with class as well as the relationship forming between them. Oh, and there’s a healthy amount of hurt/comfort, as well, but that works in the context of the novel.

For me, the challenging moments of this story weren’t the times when the two men were at odds with each other, because even people who love each other unconditionally have arguments. Nor did I have any issues with the intimate scenes – they were, for the most part – very real, sometimes tender, sometimes less so, but perfectly in tune with the characters as Pilz wrote them, and completely HOT.  No, my challenge was that the boys (yes, I know they’re not children, but still…) spent so much of the novel being tired, wet, cold, hungry, and dirty, and I have issues with too much of that sort of thing.

Not that you’d expect to be anything OTHER than tired, wet, cold, hungry, and dirty while tramping around Victorian England with almost no money.

Overall, I thought this was a really enjoyable, quite sexy read, grounded in the source material, but also very much it’s own thing.

Goes well with steak and kidney pie and a good stout.


BLOG TOUR SCHEDULE Oliver & Jack Blog Tour

Monday, September 28
Spotlight & Giveaway at Passages to the Past

Tuesday, September 29
Review at Bibliotica
Spotlight at I Heart Reading

Wednesday, September 30
Guest Post & Giveaway at Teddy Rose Book Reviews Plus More

Friday, October 1
Spotlight at Book Nerd

Monday, October 5
Review & Giveaway at Peeking Between the Pages

Tuesday, October 6
Review at Svetlana’s Reads and Views
Spotlight at A Literary Vacation

Friday, October 9
Spotlight at History Undressed

Tuesday, October 13
Spotlight at CelticLady’s Reviews

Wednesday, October 14
Review at Broken Teepee

 

 

 

A Pattern of Lies, by Charles Todd #review #TLCBookTours @tlcbooktours

About the book,  A Pattern of Lies A Pattern of Lies

• Hardcover: 336 pages
• Publisher: William Morrow; 1st edition (August 18, 2015)

Bess Crawford must keep a deadly pattern of lies from destroying an innocent family in this compelling and atmospheric mystery from the New York Times bestselling author of A Question of Honor and An Unwilling Accomplice

In 1916, at the height of the war, an explosion and fire at an armament factory in Kent killed more than a hundred men. With Ashton Powder Mill situated so close to the coast—within reach of German saboteurs—the Army investigated, eventually ruling the event an appalling tragedy. Now, two years later, suspicion, gossip, and rumor have raised the specter of murder—and fingers point to the owner, Philip Ashton, whose son is battlefield nurse Bess Crawford’s friend and former patient.

While visiting the Ashtons, Bess finds herself caught up in a venomous show of hostility that doesn’t stop with Philip Ashton’s arrest. Indeed, someone is out for blood, and the household is all but under siege. The police are hostile—the Inspector’s brother died in the mill explosion—and refuse to consult either the Army or Scotland Yard. Why, after two years, has the village turned against Ashton?

In France, Bess searches for the only known witness to the explosion, now serving at the Front, and tries to convince him to give evidence about that terrible Sunday morning, only to find herself and the witness hunted by someone intent on preventing anyone from discovering what—or who—is behind this web of vicious lies. Uncertain whom to trust, she can rely only on her own wits and courage, but how can she stop a killer whose face she has never seen?

Philip Ashton is urged to throw himself on the mercy of the court—where he will surely find none. Time is running out. And Bess, at the point of a gun, has only one choice left: to risk her life to save the Ashtons.

Buy, read, and discuss A Pattern of Lies

Amazon | IndieBound | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads


About the author, Charles Todd Charles Todd

Charles Todd is the author of the Inspector Ian Rutledge mysteries, the Bess Crawford mysteries, and two stand-alone novels. A mother and son writing team, they live in Delaware and North Carolina.

Connect with Charles

Website | Facebook


My Thoughts MissMeliss

Bess Armstrong is back and better than before in this novel which was a great adventure for the former battlefield nurse. I loved that this story, like the last, blended her compassionate side, the one that seeks to provide solace and care – with her ability to be completely ruthless when she needs to be.

Having read this novel immediately after the last one, and then set it aside without writing the review immediately, some elements are muddled but I liked that Bess’s former patient Philip Ashton is central to this story, and I like that it was about responsibility and choice as much as it was about Nazi spies and war crimes. The entity known as Charles Todd is really good at bringing dierse elements into a story, giving us something that appeals to our contemporary sound-bite focused brains while still retaining the feel and language of a period piece.

I mentioned that Bess is one of my new favorite fictional characters. She has only increased her merit in this novel. Go read it, because nothing that I say can top the experience of this brilliantly crafted, well plotted, gripping novel.

Goes well with a crisp lager and a really good chicken curry.


A Pattern of Lies Tour Stops TLC Book Tours

Tuesday, August 11th: Crime Fiction Lover

Tuesday, August 18th: A Chick Who Reads

Wednesday, August 19th: Booked on a Feeling

Thursday, August 20th: Dwell in Possibility

Friday, August 21st: Reading Reality

Monday, August 24th: Mystery Playground

Tuesday, August 25th: Raven Haired Girl

Wednesday, August 26th: Luxury Reading

Thursday, August 27th: Sharon’s Garden of Book Reviews

Monday, August 31st: A Bookworm’s World

Tuesday, September 1st: Lavish Bookshelf

Wednesday, September 2nd: Mom’s Small Victories

Thursday, September 3rd: Victoria Weisfeld

Friday, September 4th: No More Grumpy Bookseller

Tuesday, September 8th: Diary of a Stay at Home Mom

Wednesday, September 9th: Bibliotica

Thursday, September 10th: cakes, tea and dreams

Friday, September 11th: Jorie Loves a Story

TBD: 5 Minutes For Books

TBD: Helen’s Book Blog

Godiva’s Ancient History, a Guest Post from Eliza Redgold (@elizaredgold) #giveaway @hfvbt

Naked Blog Tour

Godiva’s Ancient History: Pagan goddess or Christian saint?

This blog post comes to us from Eliza Redgold, author, academic and unashamed romantic. Her new novel Naked: A Novel of Lady Godiva was released by St Martin’s Press in July.

After dinner, the gleeman took up his usual place in front of the fire. For the first time since the festival of Easter we had supped on hare stew. Many of my people, Aine included, still celebrated the Christian feast as well as honoring Eostre, our goddess of Spring. Since hares were sacred to Eostre they would not eat them until after her feast day.

Quote from NAKED: A Novel of Lady Godiva

Eliza Redgold at Amazon.com

How old is the legend of Lady Godiva? The tale of her famous naked ride is over a thousand years old. So the story goes, Godiva of Coventry begged her husband Lord Leofric of Mercia to lift a high tax on her people, who would starve if forced to pay. He demanded a forfeit: that Godiva ride naked on horseback through the town.

Lady Godiva (or Countess Godgyfu, in the Anglo-Saxon version of her name) was a real person who lived in 11th century Anglo-Saxon England. Yet her myth goes even further back in time.

There are many ancient stories linked to Godiva. Her tale is connected to Greek and Celtic myths and sacred, semi-clad female processions. The Teutonic goddess Hertha made a procession through the woods after her ritual bath, while in Greek legend there is the secret woodland bathing of the goddess of the hunt, Diana. Godiva’s ride may well have descended from one of these rites.

In another version, Godiva’s ride is not a procession, but a love-chase. In this story, Leofric sets his wife a riddle to test her. She must come to him neither being clothed or unclothed, without a foot touching the ground. Cleverly, Godiva rides rather than walks and covers her naked body with a golden net of her hair. In some tellings of this love chase, Godiva is accompanied by a hare – connecting her to the Celtic goddess of Spirng, Eostre. She also strongly resembles another spring goddess who took a woodland May-Day procession to summon the new season. Her name? The goddess Goda.

Like many pagan myths, such stories were absorbed into Christianity. In the Middle Ages Goda’s tale became connected with the real and genuinely philanthropic Countess Godgyfu and the old pagan love-chase became a Christian procession celebrating her piety. Godiva’s story has also been Biblically linked to that of Mary Magdalene, twisted with her long hair and the idea of a ride made in repentance of sin. Even more powerfully are threads of Godiva’s ride interwoven with the tale of third century martyr, St Agnes. The beautiful Agnes was forced to walk naked through the town as a punishment for refusing to give up her faith. Agnes’s hair miraculously grew long enough to cover her, and such a bright angelic light surrounded her that no man could see her.

Godiva’s story has come down to us through the ages in a mix of fact, folk-lore and legend. Some call her a goddess, some call her a saint. All we know for certain is that her extraordinary story continues to catch us in the net of her long, golden hair.


About the book, Naked: a Novel of Lady Godiva Naked, a Novel of Lady Godiva

Publication Date: July 14, 2015
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Formats: Ebook, Paperback
Pages: 320

Genre: Historical Fiction

We know her name. We know of her naked ride. We don’t know her true story.

We all know the legend of Lady Godiva, who famously rode naked through the streets of Coventry, covered only by her long, flowing hair. So the story goes, she begged her husband Lord Leofric of Mercia to lift a high tax on her people, who would starve if forced to pay. Lord Leofric demanded a forfeit: that Godiva ride naked on horseback through the town. There are various endings to Godiva’s ride, that all the people of Coventry closed their doors and refused to look upon their liege lady (except for ‘peeping Tom’) and that her husband, in remorse, lifted the tax.

Naked is an original version of Godiva’s tale with a twist that may be closer to the truth: by the end of his life Leofric had fallen deeply in love with Lady Godiva. A tale of legendary courage and extraordinary passion, Naked brings an epic story new voice.

Buy, read, and discuss Naked: a Novel of Lady Godiva

AMAZON | BARNES & NOBLE | BOOKS-A-MILLION | ITUNES | INDIEBOUND | KOBO | GOODREADS


About the author, Eliza Redgold Eliza Redgold

ELIZA REDGOLD is based upon the old, Gaelic meaning of her name, Dr Elizabeth Reid Boyd. English folklore has it that if you help a fairy, you will be rewarded with red gold. She has presented academic papers on women and romance and is a contributor to the forthcoming Encyclopedia of Romance Fiction. As a non-fiction author she is co-author of Body Talk: a Power Guide for Girls and Stay-at-Home Mothers: Dialogues and Debates. She was born in Irvine, Scotland on Marymass Day and currently lives in Australia.

Connect with Eliza

Website | Facebook | Twitter


BLOG TOUR SCHEDULE

Monday, August 10
Review at Bibliophilia, Please

Tuesday, August 11
Spotlight at Passages to the Past

Wednesday, August 12
Guest Post at The Maiden’s Court
Spotlight at A Book Geek

Thursday, August 13
Spotlight at Just One More Chapter

Friday, August 14
Review at 100 Pages a Day

Saturday, August 15
Guest Post at Mina’s Bookshelf

Monday, August 17
Review at A Bookish Affair

Tuesday, August 18
Review at Book Nerd
Guest Post at A Literary Vacation

Wednesday, August 19
Review at Unshelfish
Review at Svetlana’s Reads and Views

Thursday, August 20
Spotlight at Historical Fiction Connection
Guest Post at A Bookish Affair

Friday, August 21
Review at History From a Woman’s Perspective

Monday, August 24
Review at I’m Shelf-ish
Review at Please Pass the Books
Guest Post at Bibliotica

Tuesday, August 25
Review at A Fold in the Spine
Review & Interview at History Undressed
Guest Post at Curling Up By the Fire

Wednesday, August 26
Review at Bookish
Spotlight at The True Book Addict

Thursday, August 27
Review at With Her Nose Stuck in a Book
Review & Guest Post at Romantic Historical Reviews
Guest Post at The Lit Bitch

Friday, August 28
Review at A Book Drunkard
Review at Book Lovers Paradise
Interview at Let Them Read Books


 

GIVEAWAY

To enter to win a copy of Naked: A Novel of Lady Godiva or a $50 Amazon Gift Card, please enter via the GLEAM form below. Three winners will be chosen.

Rules

– Giveaway ends at 11:59pm EST on August 28th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
– Giveaway is open to US residents only.
– Only one entry per household.
– All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspect of fraud is decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion
– Winner has 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.

Naked: A Novel of Lady Godiva Blog Tour

The Hypnotist, by Gordon Snider #review #TLCBookTours

About  the book, The Hypnotist The Hypnotist

• Paperback: 324 pages
• Publisher: Helm Publishing (August 3, 2009)

In 1906, San Francisco has reached the peak of its golden age. Fortunes have created a society that attracts European opera singers and cordon bleu chefs. It is a world defined by elegant balls, oysters, and champagne. But there are darker sides to the city as well. The Mission district south of Market Street houses tenements where shanties huddle together and rats plague the streets. And nearby sits Chinatown, an endless warren of dark alleys that offers gambling, prostitution, and opium, all controlled by vicious gangs, called tongs.

Into these disparate worlds steps Marta Baldwin, a young woman who has shunned her own social background to help the poor. She is confronted by a hypnotist, a man who hypnotizes young women from the tenements and delivers them to the tongs in Chinatown to work in their brothels. Marta escapes his hypnotic trance, but when her assistant, Missy, disappears, Marta realizes she has been taken by the evil man who confronted her. She seeks the help of Byron Wagner, one of San Francisco’s most prominent citizens. Marta finds herself drawn to Byron but knows his high social standing prevents any possibility of a relationship between them. This is confirmed when Marta discovers Byron having an intimate conversation with Lillie Collins, the daughter of one of the city’s most elite families. Marta is flushed with jealousy. However, Lillie defies social customs, and her rebellious nature fits naturally with Marta’s. Despite her envy, the two women become close friends. Marta is caught up in a whirlwind of opulent balls, opium dens and brothels, and police raids in Chinatown. She cannot deny her feelings for Byron, but she must save Missy and protect her new friends from harm. For lurking in the background is the hypnotist. He has become obsessed with Marta and will use all his guile to ensnare her. When he threatens those she loves, Marta is determined to stop him, even at her own peril. Will her boldness entrap her? If so, how can she hope to escape the man’s hypnotic embrace? Then the earth trembles, and Marta’s world will never be the same.

Buy, read, and discuss, The Hypnotist

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Helm Publishing | Goodreads


About the author, Gordon Snider Gordon Snider

Gordon Snider has written three non-fiction books, including his latest, I’m Travelling as Fast as I Can, which takes a humorous journey to far-away-places around the world. When he moved to California’s Central Coast in 1999, he began writing fiction. The Origamist is his fifth novel and a sequel to his third, The Hypnotist, a very popular historical thriller that is set in San Francisco in 1906. The other novels include: Sigourney’s Quest, an adventure story about a woman’s harrowing journey across Tibet; The Separatist, a mystery/suspense novel set in modern San Francisco; and Venice Lost, an adventure/fantasy about a man who becomes lost in time in Venice, Italy.

Gordon has lived in California nearly his entire life. Home has ranged from Los Angeles to San Francisco, with stops in Santa Barbara and Pismo Beach. Currently, he and his wife, Fe, enjoy walking the beaches and observing the migrating whales from their home in Pismo Beach. It is, he says, the perfect setting for creative writing.

Find out more about Gordon and his books on his website.


My Thoughts MissMeliss

Having spent a lot of time in a more contemporary version of San Francisco’s Chinatown as a college student and bay area resident (though I don’t live there any longer), and one of the things I really appreciated about The Hypnotist was the way author Gordon Snider completely captured the fog and bustle, the overlapping conversations, and the architecture – the whole sense of the region really.

The other thing that really stood out for me was his protagonist Marta. Other reviewers (the nice thing about being at the end of a tour is that you get to see what other people thought) have pointed out that she is ahead of her time -a feminist, a woman with a strong sense of self and a strong sense of agency – and in other hands she would have felt like a contemporary character pulled out of time, but Snider has crafted his setting so well, that he keeps her progressive but still true to the period.

I also enjoyed the character of her friend Lillie (and have wondered if she was at all influenced by figures like Lillie Langtry and Molly Brown, because there were parts of her that reminded me a bit of both, especially the former), who was a breath of fresh air whenever we saw her.

The men – Byron, the Hypnotist – were less appealing to me. I found that I enjoyed the plot and the setting far more than most of  the male characters. They weren’t badly written, or unsympathetic, really, I just didn’t connect with them.

On the other hand, I’d read a whole series about the adventures of Marta and Lillie solving mysteries (human trafficking or not) in period San Francisco.

Still, this was an enjoyable read, and provoked a lot of thought as I was reading it, and not a few dinner-table conversations about the setting, the plot, etc.

Gordon Snider, in The Hypnotist, has given us a novel that is much more complex and compelling than its description implies.

Goes well with steaming mugs of Lapsang Souchong and those crumbly almond cookies that sound better than they taste.


Gordon’s Tour Stops TLC Book Tours

Monday, July 20th: The Reading Cove Book Club

Tuesday, July 21st: A Wondrous Bookshelf

Thursday, July 23rd: Dwell in Possibility

Tuesday, July 28th: It’s a Mad Mad World

Thursday, July 30th: Raven Haired Girl

Monday, August 3rd: The Bibliophile Chronicles

Tuesday, August 4th: A Fantastical Librarian

Wednesday, August 5th: 5 Minutes For Books

Thursday, August 6th: Books That Hook

Thursday, August 13th: Book Nerd

Thursday, August 13th: Mom in Love With Fiction

Friday, August 14th: Bibliotica

Monday, August 17th: A Reader’s Oasis

Friday, August 21st: Kahakai Kitchen

TBD: Lauren Hearts Books

The Sunrise, by Victoria Hislop (@vichislop) #review @tlcbooktours

About the book, The Sunrise The Sunrise

• Paperback: 352 pages
• Publisher: Harper Paperbacks (July 7, 2015)

Internationally bestselling author Victoria Hislop delivers a stirring novel set during the 1974 Cypriot coup d’état that tells the intersecting stories of three families devastated by the conflict. . .

Summer 1972—Famagusta is Cyprus’s most desirable tourist destination in the Mediterranean. Aphroditi Papacostas and her husband, Savvas, own The Sunrise, a wildly successful new luxury hotel. Frequented by only the very wealthiest of Europe’s elite, The Sunrise quickly becomes the place to see and be seen. Yet beneath the veneer of tranquil opulence simmers mounting hostility between the Greek and Turkish Cypriots. Years of unrest and ethnic violence come to a head when, in 1974, Greece’s coup d’état provokes a Turkish attack on beautiful Famagusta.

The fallout sends the island’s inhabitants spiraling into fear and chaos, and the Papacostases join an exodus of people who must abandon their idyllic lives in Famagusta and flee to refugee camps. In the end, only two families remain in the decimated city: the Georgious and the Özkans. One is Greek Cypriot, the other Turkish Cypriot, and the tension between them is palpable. But with resources scarce and the Turkish militia looming large, both families must take shelter in the deserted hotel as they battle illness, hunger, fear, and their own prejudices while struggling to stay alive.

The Sunrise is a poignant story about the measures we take to protect what we love.

Buy, read, and discuss The Sunrise

Amazon | Barnes & NobleIndieBound  | Goodreads


About the author, Victoria Hislop Victoria Hislop

Victoria Hislop is the internationally bestselling author of The Island and The Return. She writes travel features for the Sunday Telegraph, Mail on Sunday, House & Garden, and Woman & Home. She divides her time among rural Kent, London, and Crete. She is married and has two children.

Connect with Victoria

Website | Twitter


My Thoughts MissMeliss

It’s both perfect timing and kind of eerie that this book has been released as the world watches Greece’s economy crumble, because while The Sunrise is technically an historical novel (though it’s difficult for me to consider events that took place within the span of my lifetime ‘historical’) it’s modern history, taking place only 40 years ago.

Victoria Hislop has taken real events – the ethnic tension between Greek and Turkish Cypriots in Famagusta, Cyprus  – woven fictional stories ( a young couple building a luxury hotel, two families (one Greek, one Turkish, obviously), two sons who get lost in the conflict) into them, and created a picture of a moment in time just before a community’s bubble burst.

The story itself is, at times, both shocking and saddening – one line near the end of the novel that hit me hard was a member of one family asking “Are we supposed to hate them now?” about people who used to be neighbors, and are now, because of politics, technically enemies. It’s a line that echoes through history, because we forget that war and conflict aren’t just events on battlefields or stories in newspapers, but involve real people, with real lives.

Hislop, however, takes these moments – big and small, political and personal – and turns them into literary magic. You feel the sun, see the shine of the marble floor in the lobby of The Sunrise, hear the clinking of tableware, the murmur of conversation. You feel the stress of living in opulent surroundings, but with very little resources. Some of the language is downright brilliant, turns of phrase that really put you in 1972 Cyprus, and others are a bit simpler, but they work together to form a cohesive whole.

Famagusta is a real place, and it remains a ghost town, wrapped with barbed wire, abandoned, alone.

Still the reality is that in the novel, and in life, there is always hope. Earlier this year the leaders of both countries met in Nicosia and started the slow process of talking, and of working toward healing.

Goes well with stuffed grape leaves, kalamata olives, flatbread and iced mint tea or Turkish coffee.


Victoria’s Tour Stops TLC Book Tours

Wednesday, July 8th: Booksie’s Blog

Thursday, July 9th: Novel Escapes

Friday, July 10th: Thoughts on This ‘n That

Tuesday, July 14th: bookchickdi

Monday, July 20th: Bibliotica

Tuesday, July 21st: Lit and Life

Wednesday, July 22nd: she treads softly

Friday, July 24th: Raven Haired Girl

Friday, July 31st: Many Hats

TBD: Book Loving Hippo

TBD: TBD:A Chick Who Reads

TBD: Svetlana’s Reads and Views

The Memory Painter, by Gwendolyn Womack (@Gwen_Womack) #BookBlast #Giveaway

About the book, The Memory Painter The Memory Painter

  • Publisher: Picador (April 28, 2015)
  • Formats: eBook, Hardcover, Audio
  • Pages: 336
  • Genre: Supernatural Historical Thriller/Romance

What if there was a drug that could help you remember past lives?

What if the lives you remembered could lead you to your one true love?

What if you learned that, for thousands of years, a deadly enemy had conspired to keep the two of you apart?

Bryan Pierce is an internationally famous artist whose paintings have dazzled the world. But there’s a secret to his success: Every canvas is inspired by an unusually vivid dream. When Bryan awakes, he possesses extraordinary new skills…like the ability to speak obscure languages and an inexplicable genius for chess. All his life, he has wondered if his dreams are recollections, if he is re-experiencing other people’s lives.

Linz Jacobs is a brilliant neurogeneticist, absorbed in decoding the genes that help the brain make memories, until she is confronted with an exact rendering of a recurring nightmare at one of Bryan’s shows. She tracks down the elusive artist, and their meeting triggers Bryan’s most powerful dream yet: visions of a team of scientists who, on the verge of discovering a cure for Alzheimer’s, died in a lab explosion decades ago.

As Bryan becomes obsessed with the mysterious circumstances surrounding the scientists’ deaths, his dreams begin to reveal what happened at the lab, as well as a deeper mystery that may lead all the way to ancient Egypt. Together, Bryan and Linz start to discern a pattern. But a deadly enemy watches their every move, and he will stop at nothing to ensure that the past stays buried.

A taut thriller and a timeless love story spanning six continents and 10,000 years of history, The Memory Painter by Gwendolyn Womack is a riveting debut novel unlike any you’ve ever read.

Buy, read, and discuss The Memory Painter

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-a-Million | iBooks | IndieBound | Kobo | Powell’s | Goodreads

Read an Excerpt of The Memory Painter

CLICK TO READ AN EXCERPT.

Watch the official book trailer for The Memory Keeper


About the Author Gwendolyn Womack Gwendolyn Womack

Originally from Houston, Texas, Gwendolyn Womack began writing theater plays in college while freezing in the tundra at the University of Alaska, Fairbanks. During that time she lived in St. Petersburg, Russia on an independent study working with theater companies. She went on to receive an MFA from California Institute of the Arts in Directing theater and film where she was encouraged to write her own material. After graduating she focused on writing feature screenplays and was a semi-finalist in the Academy’s Nicholl Fellowship. In 2009 she moved to Japan and began THE MEMORY PAINTER the following year. Currently she resides in Los Angeles with her husband and son where she can be found at the keyboard working on her next novel.

THE MEMORY PAINTER is her first novel.

Connect with Gwendolyn

Website | Facebook | Goodreads | Pinterest | Twitter


Giveaway

To enter to win a signed copy of The Memory Painter, please enter via the GLEAM form below.

Rules

– Giveaway ends at 11:59pm EST on July 15th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
– Giveaway is open internationally.
– Only one entry per household.
– All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspect of fraud is decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion
– Winner has 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.

The Memory Painter


The Memory Painter Book Blast Schedule

Wednesday, July 1
Passages to the Past

Thursday, July 2
The Never-Ending Book
What Is That Book About

Friday, July 3
Bibliophilia, Please

Saturday, July 4
The Reading Queen

Sunday, July 5
CelticLady’s Reviews

Monday, July 6
Oh, for the Hook of a Book!

Tuesday, July 7
A Chick Who Reads

Wednesday, July 8
A Bookish Affair
Book Lovers Paradise

Thursday, July 9
Room With Books

Friday, July 10
Bibliotica

Saturday, July 11
Just One More Chapter

Sunday, July 12
Broken Teepee

Monday, July 13
100 Pages a Day

Wednesday, July 15
Genre Queen

The Memory Painter at HFVBT

Return to the Outer Banks House, by Diann Ducharme (@diannducharme) #review @hfvbt

About the book Return to the Outer Banks House Return to the Outer Banks House

  • Paperback: 418 pages
  • Publisher: Kill Devil Publishing; 1 edition (December 10, 2014)

She was the spirited daughter of a North Carolina plantation owner, and he was a poor fisherman who she tutored on the porch of her family’s Nags Head cottage. When we last saw Abigail Sinclair and Ben Whimble at the close of The Outer Banks House, they’d overcome their differences in life stations and defied convention to begin their new life together.

But now it’s seven years later, and Return to the Outer Banks House finds the couple married and in hard times—riddled by poverty, miscarriages, and weakened family ties. The strong bonds that once held them together have eroded over time, and their marriage threatens to unravel, particularly when relationships from the past and ambitions for the future find their way into the mismatched couple’s present predicament.

Can their love survive? Or are the challenges they face insurmountable? Return to the Outer Banks House carries readers back to 1875 to answer these questions and explore the ebb and flow of a rocky marriage set against the enchanting North Carolina shoreline. Replete with history, intrigue, and plenty of maritime drama, it’s an evocative tale of struggle in the Reconstruction-era South.

Buy, read, and discuss Return to the Outer Banks House

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | IndieBound | Goodreads


 

About the author, Diann Ducharme Diann Ducharme

Diann was born in Indiana in 1971, but she spent the majority of her childhood in Newport News, Virginia. She majored in English literature at the University of Virginia, but she never wrote creatively until, after the birth of her second child in 2003, she sat down to write The Outer Banks House. She soon followed up with her second book, Chasing Eternity, and in 2015 the sequel to her first novel, Return to the Outer Banks House.

Diann has vacationed on the Outer Banks since the age of three. She even married her husband of 10 years, Sean Ducharme, in Duck, North Carolina, immediately after a stubborn Hurricane Bonnie churned through the Outer Banks. Conveniently, the family beach house in Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina provided shelter while she conducted research for her historical fiction novels.

She has three beach-loving children and a border collie named Toby, who enjoys his sprints along the shore. The family lives in Manakin-Sabot, Virginia, counting down the months until summer.

Connect with Diann

Website | Blog | Twitter | Goodreads


My Thoughts:

In Return to the Outer Banks House, Diann Ducharme brings us back to Nag’s Head seven years after we first met Abigail and Ben in The Outer Banks House, but this novel, set against the Reconstruction of the South is also about the deconstruction of a marriage. The lovers from the first novel have gone through so much, that it’s actually pretty realistic that their relationship is strained, and I applaud the author for writing such an open, honest story, and trusting that we readers will get it.

At the same time, though, the ultimate resolution of Abbie and Ben’s issues is a sad one, and comes as a bitter blow after all the love and hope that existed between them in the first novel. Ducharme does give us a secondary character to follow, Eliza, replete with her own love story, but while she’s an interesting character, it’s not quite the same, and I felt like the whole tone of this book was a subdued one.

Still, it was a great read, even if the ending wasn’t what I expected. Ducharme’s descriptions of the land and sea and sky are almost photo-realistic, and this novel is almost worth it just to get to read more of that. As well, she continues to excel at writing dialogue that feels both natural and period at the same time, using dialect effectively to show differences in class, status, and origin.

This novel can be read alone, but is much more effective, and makes more sense, if you read The Outer Banks House first, though, now that I’ve written that, I wonder if the focus would be more on Eliza, and the readerly response a bit brighter if it’s read as a standalone, without the investment in Abigail and Ben as the primary couple in the tale. Something to ponder, I suppose.

Again, this novel takes place at the shore, but it isn’t at all a typical “beach read,” and I believe it will appeal both to casual readers and those who prefer more literary fiction.

Goes well with fresh caught fish, homegrown tomatoes, and sweet corn.


The Outer Banks Series Blog Tour Schedule 05_Outer-Banks-Series_Blog-Tour-Banner_FINAL-1024x327

Monday, May 25
Spotlight & Giveaway at Raven Haired Girl

Tuesday, May 26
Guest Post & Giveaway at Susan Heim on Writing

Wednesday, May 27
Review (Book One) at Back Porchervations

Thursday, May 28
Review (Book One) at In a Minute

Friday, May 29
Interview & Giveaway at Historical Fiction Obsession
Spotlight at The Never-Ending Book

Saturday, May 30
Spotlight at Becky on Books

Sunday, May 31
Review (Book One) at Book Nerd

Monday, June 1
Review (Book Two) at Let them Read Books
Spotlight at I’d So Rather Be Reading

Tuesday, June 2
Review (Book One) at Book Lovers Paradise

Wednesday, June 3
Review (Book Two) at Back Porchervations

Thursday, June 4
Spotlight & Giveaway (Book One) at View from the Birdhouse

Friday, June 5
Review (Both Books) at Bibliotica

Sunday, June 7
Review (Book One) at Carole’s Ramblings

Monday, June 8
Review (Book One) at Ageless Pages Reviews
Guest Post at Curling Up With A Good Book

Tuesday, June 9
Review & Giveaway (Book One) at A Literary Vacation

Wednesday, June 10
Review (Both Books) at Unshelfish
Spotlight at CelticLady’s Reviews

Thursday, June 11
Review (Book Two) at Book Lovers Paradise
Interview at Boom Baby Reviews

Friday, June 12
Spotlight at Caroline Wilson Writes

Sunday, June 14
Review (Book Two) at Carole’s Ramblings

Monday, June 15
Review & Giveaway (Both Books) at Genre Queen

Tuesday, June 16
Interview at Books and Benches
Spotlight at The Lit Bitch

Wednesday, June 17
Review (Both Books) at Luxury Reading

Thursday, June 18
Review (Book One) at Books and Benches
Interview at Layered Pages

Friday, June 19
Review (Book One) at Build a Bookshelf
Review (Book Two) at Ageless Pages Reviews