The Outer Banks House, by Diann Ducharme (@diannducharme) #review @hfvbt

About the book, The Outer Banks House The Outer Banks House

Publisher: Crown Publishing (June 8, 2010)
Formats: Ebook, Hardcover, Paperback (291 pages)

As the wounds of the Civil War are just beginning to heal, one fateful summer would forever alter the course of a young girl’s life.

In 1868, on the barren shores of post-war Outer Banks North Carolina, the once wealthy Sinclair family moves for the summer to one of the first cottages on the ocean side of the resort village of Nags Head. Seventeen-year-old Abigail is beautiful, book-smart, but sheltered by her plantation life and hemmed-in by her emotionally distant family. To make good use of time, she is encouraged by her family to teach her father’s fishing guide, the good-natured but penniless Benjamin Whimble, how to read and write. And in a twist of fate unforeseen by anyone around them, there on the porch of the cottage, the two come to love each other deeply, and to understand each other in a way that no one else does.

But when, against everything he claims to represent, Ben becomes entangled in Abby’s father’s Ku Klux Klan work, the terrible tragedy and surprising revelations that one hot Outer Banks night brings forth threaten to tear them apart forever.

With vivid historical detail and stunning emotional resonance, Diann Ducharme recounts a dramatic story of love, loss, and coming of age at a singular and rapidly changing time in one of America’s most beautiful and storied communities.

Read the “Lost” Chapter of The Outer Banks House

Click HERE to download.

Buy, read, and discuss The Outer Banks House

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Crown Publishing | 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:

While I’ve never been to either of the Carolinas (both are on my bucket list, I swear) I did have a blissful childhood full of summers at the Jersey Shore, so I know the pleasures – and the pain – of living on the Atlantic seaboard, and I even have some experience with the special geography of barrier islands, which constantly change shape and size, depending on the will and whim of the wind and sea. Diann Ducharme’s books The Outer Banks House and Return to the Outer Banks House were obvious choices for me.

As I didn’t receive the books until Thursday, May 28th, was at Dallas Fan-Expo Friday-Sunday, and came home (as I always do) with “con crud,” this review will be only of the first book. Come back next Friday, June 12th for my review of the sequel.

From the opening scene where Abigail, who has been ‘boatsick’ for days, runs down a pier and onto the beach, fighting against her hoopskirts the whole time (and, can we pause a moment to imagine running anywhere in hoops, let alone in sand?) to the last scene where Abigail and her scruffy Ben decide that love is worth the risk, I was swept away by this novel. The post-Civil War period is one I haven’t explored recently, but I had enough context to appreciate the subtle political and personal intricacies of having relatives and friends who worked for or against the KKK. We are so used to seeing Klan stories set in the 1950s and ’60s, that to experience that awful organization from the other end lent perspective in many ways.

Also fascinating was the way these inland-bred characters learned to cope with life on the shore. The pattern of people’s days is different when you live so closely tied to the sea, with different rhythms and different risks.

Add to that a burgeoning love affair, and what you have – what Ducharme has so brilliantly created – is a rich tapestry of people and places, politics and professions, and perspective.

Ducharme’s dialogue, while accurate for the period, never feels stilted, and flows as easily as any contemporary language. Her descriptions are vivid – I could taste the salt in the air, and feel the sand between my toes – and her characters feels as though they could walk out of the pages and join you for a cold glass of lemonade and a chat about the latest novel you’ve read. Abigail, especially, surprised me, because she was so smart, so fierce in her love and loyalty, and so much her own person, in a time when women were often…not.

While I wouldn’t really classify The Outer Banks House as a “beach read,”  – it’s a bit meatier than that – it’s still the perfect novel for a lazy summer afternoon.

Goes well with seafood salad and cold lemonade, preferably served al fresco.


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

 

 

The Countess’ Captive, by Andrea Cefalo (@andreacefalo) #review #contest #giveaway @hfvbt

Please join Author Andrea Cefalo as she tours with HF Virtual Book Tours for The Countess’ Captive Blog Tour, from March 23-April 16. Take The Countess’ Captive Playbuzz quiz and enter to win a Fairytale Keeper Clutch Purse & $25 Amazon Gift Card!

About the book, The Countess’ Captive The Countess' Captive

  • Publisher: Scarlet Primrose Press (February 14, 2015)
  • Pages: 232
  • Formats: eBook, Paperback
  • Series: Book Two, Fairytale Keeper Series
  • Genre: Young Adult/Historical/Fairytale Retelling

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During March of 1248, Adelaide Schumacher-affectionately called Snow White-has lost so much: her mother, her possessions, and now her home.

Adelaide hates abandoning her home city, her family’s legacy, and her first love?Ivo. More than anything, she hates her father growing closer to her mother’s cousin?Galadriel. Adelaide plots to end their tryst before her fate is sealed, and she never sets foot in Cologne again.

But good and pious can only get Galadriel so far. Never again will she be destitute. Never again will she be known by the cruel moniker?Cinderella. Never again will someone take what is rightfully hers. No matter what it takes.

The Countess’ Captive is the much anticipated follow-up to The Fairytale Keeper and is book two in The Fairytale Keeper series. The novel combines Grimm’s fairytale characters with real historical settings and events to create a tale that leaves the reader wondering where fact ends and fiction begins.

Buy, read, and discuss The Countess’ Captive

Amazon | Barnes and Noble | Smashwords | Kobo | Goodreads


Take the The Countess’ Captive Playbuzz Quiz


About the author, Andrea Cefalo

Andrea Cefalo is an award-winning author and blogger on Medieval Europe. The next three novels in The Fairytale Keeper series will debut in 2015 and 2016. She resides in Greenville, South Carolina with her husband and their two border collies.

Connect with Andrea

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest.

Follow The Fairytale Keeper Pinterest Board.


My Thoughts

This is the second book in Andrea Cefalo’s reality-based fairytale series, and it is just as engaging as the first, which I reviewed HERE.

In this book the characters are a little bit older -Adelaide is very much a young woman now, and not so much a girl – but only a little bit, as it picks up not long after the close of book one. While I really liked that the relationship between Adelaide’s father and Galadriel was more developed, and also liked that Adelaide was starting to come into her own both as her mother’s protege, telling stories in her own right, and as her father’s apprentice, I missed the character of Ivo a lot. Not that Adelaide – or any woman – needs to be dependent on a man, but he seemed like such a supportive, nurturing influence, and she doesn’t get enough of that.

One of the fundamental tenets of this book as that Adelaide is our Snow White analog, and the other famous fairytales are woven into the fabric of both the life she lives and the stories she tells, so casting Galadriel (who isn’t so much wicked as conniving, I think) as the stepmother in Cinderella is both the natural reaction of a young girl, and the perfect way to explain their relationship.

What struck me, as I was reading this novel, though, was that while our Snow White doesn’t have a literal glass box surrounding her, she is confined by her place in society, both as the low-born daughter of a man who married up, and as a woman.

Goes well with cottage pie and a dark beer. I chose Negra Modelo.


The Countess’ Captive Blog Tour Schedule The Captive Countess at HFVBT

Monday, March 23
Review at Library Educated
Review at A Chick Who Reads

Tuesday, March 24
Guest Post at What Is That Book About
Spotlight at A Literary Vacation

Wednesday, March 25
Review at Back Porchervations
Spotlight at Satisfaction for Insatiable Readers

Thursday, March 26
Review at Cheryl’s Book Nook

Friday, March 27
Review at Bibliotica
Review at With Her Nose Stuck in a Book

Saturday, March 28
Spotlight at Romantic Historical Fiction Lovers

Monday, March 30
Review at 100 Pages a Day – Stephanie’s Book Reviews

Tuesday, March 31
Review at Bookish

Wednesday, April 1
Review at Shelf Full of Books

Thursday, April 2
Guest Post at The Lit Bitch

Friday, April 3
Spotlight at Caroline Wilson Writes

Monday, April 6
Review at A Bibliotaph’s Reviews

Tuesday, April 7
Review at History From a Woman’s Perspective

Friday, April 10
Review at Boom Baby Reviews

Monday, April 13
Review at Brooke Blogs

Tuesday, April 14
Review at A Leisure Moment

Wednesday, April 15
Review at Oh, For the Hook of a Book

Thursday, April 16
Spotlight at Books and Benches

Friday, April 17
Review at A Book Drunkard


Giveaway

To enter to win a Fairytale Keeper Clutch Purse & $25 Amazon Gift Card please complete the giveaway form below.

Clutch Purse Giveaway

* Giveaway is open to US residents only.
* Giveaway ends at 11:59pm on April 17th.
* You must be 18 or older to enter.
* 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 will be chosen via GLEAM on April 18th and notified via email. Winner have 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.
* Please email Amy @ hfvirtualbooktours@gmail.com with any questions.

The Countess’ Captive

The Druid Knight Tales, by Ruth A. Casie (@RuthACasie) – #Cover #Reveal #giveaway #bibliotica @hfvbt

Join author Ruth A. Casie on her Cover Reveal for The Druid Knight Tales: A Short Story, from February 23-March 13, and enter to win an eBook of the first book in the Druid Knight Series, Knight of Runes. The Druid Knight Tales

Publication Date: February 23, 2015
Publisher: Timeless Scribes Publishing, LLC
eBook: 57 pages
ISBN: 0986246425

Series: The Druid Knight Series
Genre: Historical Fantasy/Romance

She would give her last breath for him. He would give up everything to guard her well and love her more.

Maximilian, the druid Grand Master, was given a year to find his soul mate. On the final day, the sacred mistletoe has shriveled and died—proclaiming his failure. He must do what no other Grand Master has done before and journey to meet with the Ancestors formally relinquish his title.

Ellyn of Brodgar has the gift of healing. But each use of her magick, through a kiss, depletes her energy and brings her closer to death. Time is running out as she searches for a way to continue saving lives—especially her own.

Max and Ellyn are tossed into the Otherworld together—a place filled with magick and wonder, it’s also fraught with danger, traps, and death. They have only until the third sunset to find the Ancestors, or be lost to the world forever. The domineering druid must work with the stubborn healer, not only for survival, but for the promise of the future—a future together.

Pre-Order the eBook

Amazon

Excerpt

Penetrating blue-gray eyes stared out from the cocoon of dark wool that enrobed the woman. The cheeks on her porcelain-white face appeared tinged with a splash of pink. Her natural berry-red lips were turned up in a welcoming smile. “Grand Master.” She dipped a well-executed curtsy.

Fendrel’s healer was much different than the old crone he had anticipated. This woman was regal and beautiful. The gleam in her eyes was calm and comforting. He had a strange sensation, which made no sense at all, that he had known her for a long time. At ease with her, he allowed himself to relax and returned her open smile with one of his own.

“This is Ellyn of Brodgar,” said Fendrel. “She has been our healer for the last year. Our situation was grave. It was her healing skills that kept us alive. I would like you to accept her into our clan.”

The knuckles on Ellyn’s hand turned white from grasping her staff firmly. Her head whipped around at Fendrel.

Max observed, fascinated the elder was oblivious to the daggers the woman’s eyes flung at him. So, Fendrel hadn’t told her of his plan and if Max wasn’t mistaken, she wasn’t pleased.

“Thank you, Fendrel,” said Ellyn. “Your request is a great honor. I will be your healer for as long as I am with you.” She turned to Max, her face serene. Her iron grip on the staff relaxed.

Fendrel sputtered.

“You are welcome into Fendrel’s clan for as long as you see fit to stay with us,” said Max. He was certain he saved Fendrel from getting his head bashed with the staff the woman carried. “Brodgar is in the Orkneys. You are far from home.”

“I go where I am needed.” Her voice was soft—her tone evasive.

Max gave her a benign smile. She was tall and graceful. Loose tendrils of curls softened her face. Dark lashes swept down against her cheekbone. She gazed at him with bright, intelligent eyes. The hairs on the back of his neck stood up. He sensed her trying to press in on his mind and blocked her attempt so fast she winced in pain. He’d made his point. She would not try that again.

“If you will excuse me.” She turned to leave. “I would like to look in on Dimia and the baby to make certain they’re settled in for the night,” she said to the new father.

“Of course, Ellyn. I will see you back to camp.” Fendrel approached the two men. “Thank you, Grand Master. Doward. We will see you tomorrow.” He and Ellyn went back down the small rise.

“Interesting girl,” remarked Doward after they were gone. “You didn’t have to be rough on her. She was only curious.” Doward chuckled.
Max stared after her.

She wasn’t at all what she seemed.

Titles in The Druid Knight Series

Knight of Runes – Available Now!
Knight of Rapture – Coming March 30, 2015
Knight of Redemption – Coming Fall, 2015

Druid-Knight-Series-3-Book-Spread

About the Author Ruth A. Casie

Ruth A Casie is a seasoned professional with over twenty-five years of writing experience but not necessarily writing romances. No, she’s been writing communication and marketing documents for a large corporation. Over the past years, encouraged by her friends and family, she gave way to her inner muse, let her creative juices flow, and began writing a series of historical time travel romance novels.

When not writing you can find her home in Teaneck, New Jersey, reading, cooking, doing Sudoku and counted cross stitch. Together with her husband Paul, they enjoy ballroom dancing and, with New York City close by, going to the theater. Ruth and Paul have three grown children and two grandchildren. They all thrive on spending time together. It’s certainly a lively dinner table and they wouldn’t change it for the world.

Ruth is a Trustee and on the Executive Board of Shelter Our Sister (SOS) in New Jersey. SOS is Bergen County’s only shelter for victims of domestic violence. She frequently speaks at various functions around Bergen County on behalf of the Shelter.

For more information visit Ruth A. Casie’s website. You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.

Sign up for Ruth A. Casie’s newsletter.

Giveaway!

To enter to win an eBook of Knight of Runes please complete the giveaway form below.

– Giveaway starts on February 23rd at 12:01am and ends on March 13th at 11:59pm EST.
– 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 will be notified via email.

Knight of Runes

The Druid Knight Tales at HFVBT

The Fairytale Keeper by Andrea Cefalo (@AndreaCefalo) – #Review #Bibliotica #contest #giveaway

The Fairytale Keeper

About the book The Fairytale Keeper The Fairytale Keeper

Re-Release Date: February 1, 2015
Publisher: Scarlet Primrose Press, 262 Pages
Formats: eBook; Paperback

Adelaide’s mother, Katrina, was the finest storyteller in all of Airsbach, a borough in the great city of Cologne, but she left one story untold, that of her daughter, that of Snow White. Snow White was a pet name Adelaide’s mother had given her. It was a name Adelaide hated, until now. Now, she would give anything to hear her mother say it once more.

A rampant fever claimed Adelaide’s mother just like a thousand others in Cologne where the people die without last rites and the dead are dumped in a vast pit outside the city walls. In an effort to save Katrina’s soul, Adelaide’s father obtains a secret funeral for his wife by bribing the parish priest, Father Soren.

Soren commits an unforgivable atrocity, pushing Adelaide toward vengeance. When Adelaide realizes that the corruption in Cologne reaches far beyond Soren, the cost of settling scores quickly escalates. Avenging the mother she lost may cost Adelaide everything she has left: her father, her friends, her first love, and maybe even her life.

Seamlessly weaving historical events and Grimm’s fairy tales into a tale of corruption and devotion, The Fairytale Keeper, leaves the reader wondering where fact ends and fiction begins. The novel paints Medieval Cologne accurately and vividly. The story develops a set of dynamic characters, casting the famous villains, heroes, and damsels of Grimm’s fairy tales into believable medieval lives. Though historically set, The Fairytale Keeper brims with timeless themes of love, loyalty, and the struggle for justice.

Buy, read, and discuss The Fairytale Keeper

Amazon (paperback) | Amazon (eBook) | Barnes and Noble | Smashwords | Kobo | Goodreads


Take the The Fairytale Keeper Playbuzz Quiz


About the Author, Andrea Cefalo Andrea Cefalo

Besides being the award-winning author of The Fairytale Keeper series, Andrea Cefalo is a self-proclaimed medievalist, hopeless bookworm, and social media junkie. She graduated with honors from Winthrop University in 2007 where she studied Medieval art history and children’s literature. The next three books in The Fairytale Keeper series—The Countess’ Captive, The Baseborn Lady, and The Traitor’s Target—will debut in 2015 and 2016. She resides in Greenville, South Carolina—ever perched before her trusty laptop—with her husband and their two border collies.

Connect with Andrea

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest.

Follow The Fairytale Keeper Pinterest Board.


My Thoughts

I’m a big fan of people who find new ways to share old stories. With The Fairytale Keeper, Andrea Cefalo has given us a reality-based version of the classic tale of Snow White that is every bit as magical as the versions we all grew up with (and I’m not talking about Disney), even though there’s no actual magic in it.

Set in medieval Cologne, Cefalo’s story is of a young girl on the brink of womanhood, growing up at a time when reading and writing were not the norm, and the Church had the power over the life and death, not just of individuals, but of entire communities. She turns archetypical characters -Snow, her father, her (future) stepmother into three-dimensional begins, with lives and wants and personalities and in doing so, she shows us that life is complicated, and that even the best of us sometimes make poor choices.

I loved that Adelaide (Snow White is a hated nickname bestowed upon her by her storytelling mother) is a feisty, empowered (for the time) young woman. She’s a problem solver, but one whom the real world hasn’t quite touched, and it’s her mixture of innocence and knowledge that really make the character live. I also liked that she has a friend – a young man named Ivo – who she’s on the brink of romance with (he brings her jars of fireflies), but that it’s handled in an appropriate way.

Adelaide’s father, too, is complex: mourning his wife, doting on his daughter while also teaching her his trade, and trying to find a future. Similarly, Galadriel, the woman who (it’s foreshadowed) is likely to become Adelaide’s stepmother at some point in the future (she’s living with them) is an all-too-human figure: caring, but lost, and somewhat broken.

Together, this cast of characters form a family, and the other characters in the story broaden it to a whole community that seems every bit as real as any historical village from a textbook, but with more color and life.

Fairytales are woven through the novel, of course – often representing stories told to Adelaide by her mother, who, in a flashback, tells the child her story isn’t written.

And that’s really the point of this whole novel: we can learn from the stories of others, but ultimately, each of us has to also write our own story.

The book is an easy read. It sucks you in, and is paced well, with accessible language that never feels too contemporary – a trick that can be hard to pull off.

I’ve got the sequel as well, waiting to be read for review next month, and I’m eagerly awaiting another visit with Adelaide, and watching to see how her story evolves.

If you love fairytales and folklore, if you love strong women, and complex characters, if you love believable plots and rich descriptions of place and things, you will – as I do – LOVE The Fairytale Keeper.

Goes well with Strong black tea with either milk or honey (never both) and toasted rustic bread with cheese melted on top.


The Fairytale Keeper Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, February 16
Spotlight at Satisfaction for Insatiable Readers

Tuesday, February 17
Review at Book Drunkard

Wednesday, February 18
Review at Bibliotica
Review at With Her Nose Stuck in a Book

Thursday, February 19
Review at Cheryl’s Book Nook

Friday, February 20
Review at Back Porchervations
Spotlight at Caroline Wilson Writes

Saturday, February 21
Spotlight at I Heart Reading

Monday, February 23
Review at Bookish

Wednesday, February 25
Review at 100 Pages a Day – Stephanie’s Book Reviews

Thursday, February 26
Review at Carpe Librum

Friday, February 27
Review at The Bookish Outsider

Monday, March 2
Review at A Bibliotaph’s Reviews

Tuesday, March 3
Spotlight at A Literary Vacation

Wednesday, March 4
Spotlight at The Lit Bitch
Spotlight at Let Them Read Books

Friday, March 6
Spotlight at What Is That Book About

Monday, March 9
Review at Shelf Full of Books

Wednesday, March 11
Review at Brooke Blogs
Review at Boom Baby Reviews

Thursday, March 12
Review at A Leisure Moment
Guest Post at Brooke Blogs

Friday, March 13
Review at Library Educated
Review at Oh, For the Hook of a Book


Giveaway

To enter to win a Fairytale Keeper Clutch Purse & $25 Amazon Gift Card please complete the giveaway form below.

Clutch Purse Giveaway

* Giveaway is open to US residents only.
* Giveaway ends at 11:59pm on March 13th.
* You must be 18 or older to enter.
* 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 will be chosen via GLEAM on March 14th and notified via email. Winner have 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.
* Please email Amy @ hfvirtualbooktours@gmail.com with any questions.

The Fairytale Keeper

The Fairytale Keeper

Sewing Can Be Dangerous and Other Small Threads, by S. R. Mallery (@sarahmallery1) – Review

About the book, Sewing Can Be Dangerous and Other Small Threads Sewing Can Be Dangerous

  • Publication Date: December 16, 2013
  • Publisher:Mockingbird Lane Press
  • Formats: eBook, Paperback, Audio Book
  • Pages:
  • Genre: Historical Fiction/Short Stories

The eleven long short stories in Sewing Can Be Dangerous and Other Small Threads combine history, mystery, action and/or romance, and range from drug trafficking using Guatemalan hand-woven wallets, to an Antebellum U.S. slave using codes in her quilts as a message system to freedom; from an ex-journalist and her Hopi Indian maid solving a cold case together involving Katchina spirits, to a couple hiding Christian passports in a comforter in Nazi Germany; from a wedding quilt curse dating back to the Salem Witchcraft Trials, to a mystery involving a young seamstress in the infamous Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire; from a 1980s Romeo and Juliet romance between a rising Wall Street financial star and an eclectic fiber artist, to a Haight-Asbury love affair between a professor and a beautiful macrami artist gone horribly askew, just to name a few.

Watch the trailer for Sewing Can Be Dangerous

Buy, read, and discuss Sewing Can Be Dangerous

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

Buy the audio version of Sewing Can Be Dangerous

Amazon | Audible.com | iTunes


About the author, S. R. Mallery S.R. Mallery

S.R. Mallery has worn various hats in her life.

First, a classical/pop singer/composer, she moved on to the professional world of production art and calligraphy. Next came a long career as an award winning quilt artist/teacher and an ESL/Reading instructor. Her short stories have been published in descant 2008, Snowy Egret, Transcendent Visions, The Storyteller, and Down In the Dirt.

Unexpected Gifts, her debut novel, is currently available on Amazon. Sewing Can Be Dangerous and Other Small Threads, her collection of short stories, was released in Jan. 2014. Both books are from Mockingbird Lane Press.

Connect with S.R.

Website | Facebook | Goodreads | Twitter


My Thoughts

I don’t sew. I mean, I can hem pants if I really have to, and I can sew a button on, or make basic curtains, but I don’t have the love of fabric that real sewists (my mother’s word) have. I grew up in a house, however, where going barefoot meant you’d probably end up impaled by a straight pin, or three, and background noise nearly always included the cozy hum of a sewing machine’s flywheel punctuated by my mother’s cursing whenever something didn’t go according to plan.

Despite not being a creator of fiber arts, myself, I have dabbled in crewel embroidery (and still do on rare occasions), I’ve tried to learn to knit (I had an excellent teacher, I am incapable of relaxing my grip enough), and I’m fascinated by quilting, and really will try it one day. The mostly-straight lines I can cope with, but quilting also involves math, and geometry was never my favorite subject.

Reading about sewing, and other kinds of fiber arts, however, is something I love to do, so when I had the chance to review Sewing Can Be Dangerous and Other Small Threads, I asked for it in paperback, partly because I knew the short stories would make the perfect “bath book,” and partly because I knew I could pass it on to my mother. (It’s part of her Christmas present this year. Shhh! Don’t tell her!!)

I planned to read this book in the bath over a few days, but the first story hooked me so deeply that I was absorbed by Mallery’s prose and forgot to fill the tub. Also, like potato chips, you cannot (well, I cannot) read just one short story, so I had to keep going. Before I knew it, I’d read away a whole night, and only the fact that I didn’t have a bright enough light made me put this book down.

My favorite piece is the the second story, which is about quilts and curses, and appealed to my love of all things spooky and dark, but every single story is a gem – or, more accurately, a hand-sewn bead among a collection of hand-sewn beads. Mallery’s voice is clear and consistent even when moods and tones are radically different, and it was lovely having so many different women as protagonists. Many of these stories could easily be expanded into longer works, if the author chose to do so, but they also stand well in their current format.

Read this for yourself, even if you don’t sew. And buy a copy for a woman in your life who does sew, because she’ll love it.

Goes well with Bold dark coffee laced with egg nog and mince pie served slightly warm.


Sewing Can Be Dangerous and Other Small Threads Blog Tour Schedule Sewing Can Be Dangerous Blog Tour

This review is part of a blog tour sponsored by Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours. For the complete list of tour stops, see below. For more information, click HERE.

Monday, December 1
Review at Unshelfish

Tuesday, December 2
Review at Bibliotica

Wednesday, December 3
Review at History From a Woman’s Perspective

Thursday, December 4
Spotlight & Giveaway at Teddy Rose Book Reviews and More

Friday, December 5
Guest Post at What Is That Book About
Interview at Dianne Ascroft Blog

Monday, December 8
Review at WV Stitcher

Tuesday, December 9
Review at 100 Pages a Day – Stephanie’s Book Reviews
Guest Post & Giveaway at Historical Fiction Connection

Wednesday, December 10
Review at A Book Geek

Thursday, December 11
Review at Book Nerd

Friday, December 12
Review at Based on a True Story

Monday, December 15
Review at CelticLady’s Reviews

Tuesday, December 16
Review at Book Babe

Wednesday, December 17
Review at Just One More Chapter

Friday, December 19
Review at Book Drunkard

The Spoils of Avalon, by Mary Burns – Review

About the book The Spoils of Avalon The Spoils of Avalon

Publisher:Sand Hill Review Press
Info:Paperback; 300p
ISBN: 978-1937818289
Series: A John Singer Sargent/Violet Paget Mystery (Book One)
Genre: Historical Fiction/Historical Mystery

The death of a humble clergyman in 1877 leads amateur sleuths Violet Paget and John Singer Sargent into a medieval world of saints and kings—including the legendary Arthur—as they follow a trail of relics and antiquities lost since the destruction of Glastonbury Abbey in 1539. Written in alternating chapters between the two time periods, The Spoils of Avalon creates a sparkling, magical mystery that bridges the gap between two worlds that could hardly be more different—the industrialized, Darwinian, materialistic Victorian Age and the agricultural, faith-infused life of a medieval abbey on the brink of violent change at the hands of Henry VIII and Thomas Cromwell.

First in a new series of historical mysteries, The Spoils of Avalon introduces two unlikely detectives and life-long friends—beginning as young people on the verge of making their names famous for the next several decades throughout Europe and America: the brilliant and brittle Violet Paget, known as the writer Vernon Lee, and the talented, genial portrait painter John Singer Sargent.

Friends from the age of ten, Paget and Sargent frequently met in the popular European watering places and capitals, frequenting the same salons and drawing rooms in London, Rome, Paris, Florence, Venice, Vienna and Madrid. Both were possessed of keen minds and bohemian tendencies, unorthodox educations and outsized egos (especially Paget). Their instant, natural bonding led them to address each other as “Twin”, and they corresponded frequently when they were apart.

Henry James once described Violet Paget as having “the most formidable mind” of their times, and he was an active fan and patron of John Sargent, introducing him to London society and his own inner circles of literary and artistic genius.

Watch the Book Trailer

Buy, read, and discuss The Spoils of Avalon

Amazon | Goodreads


About the Author, Mary Burns Mary Burns

Mary F. Burns is the author of PORTRAITS OF AN ARTIST (Sand Hill Review Press, February 2013), a member of and book reviewer for the Historical Novel Society and a former member of the HNS Conference board of directors. A novella-length book, ISAAC AND ISHMAEL, is also being published by Sand Hill Review Press in 2014. Ms. Burns’ debut historical novel J-THE WOMAN WHO WROTE THE BIBLE was published in July 2010 by O-Books (John Hunt Publishers, UK). She has also written two cozy-village mysteries in a series titled The West Portal Mysteries (The Lucky Dog Lottery and The Tarot Card Murders).

Ms. Burns was born in Chicago, Illinois and attended Northern Illinois University in DeKalb, where she earned both Bachelors and Masters degrees in English, along with a high school teaching certificate. She relocated to San Francisco in 1976 where she now lives with her husband Stuart in the West Portal neighborhood. Ms. Burns has a law degree from Golden Gate University, has been president of her neighborhood association and is active in citywide issues. During most of her working career she was employed as a director of employee communications, public relations and issues management at various San Francisco Bay Area corporations, was an editor and manager of the Books on Tape department for Ignatius Press, and has managed her own communications/PR consulting business, producing written communications, websites and video productions for numerous corporate and non-profit clients.

Connect with Mary

Website | Facebook | Goodreads | Twitter


My Thoughts

I love a good mystery, and I went through a phase when I was totally in love with all permutations of Arthurian legend, so when an opportunity to read and review this book landed in my inbox, I was delighted to do so.

John and Violet are a detective duo to rival Holmes and Watson, and the presence of a woman does much to open the genre. From the first page, I bought their lifelong friendship, and was laughing when their banter seemed funny, empathizing when they had different ideas. From the start, I felt like I knew these people, and would enjoy conversing at the dinner table, long after the meal’s grown cold, with them.

Similarly, the plot, taking place in two timezones (Victorian England and Glastonbury 200 years or so before that) was woven together just as the Lady of Shalott might have done, and indeed this story was a ‘magic web of colors gay,’ though, of course, as there’s a murder, some of them were also more muted. I especially enjoyed the way author Mary Burns used excerpts from The Idylls of the King as chapter headers.

As a standalone novel, The Spoils of Avalon would be a great read, and I heartily recommend it, but wait! There’s more. Or at least, I hope there will be more, because this book is being marketed as Book One in a series of adventures for John and Violet.

I can’t wait to see what happens next.

Goes well with Hard cider and a chicken pot pie, especially if it’s raining while you read.


The Spoils of Avalon Blog Tour Schedule 04_The Spoils of Avalon_Blog Tour Banner_FINAL

This review is part of a blog tour organized by Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours. For the complete list of stops, see below. For more information, click HERE.

Monday, November 3
Review at Buried Under Books

Tuesday, November 4
Review at Book Dilettante

Wednesday, November 5
Review at History From a Woman’s Perspective

Friday, November 7
Review & Giveaway at The True Book Addict

Monday, November 10
Review at Just One More Chapter
Interview & Giveaway at Unabridged Chick

Tuesday, November 11
Review at Layered Pages
Spotlight at CelticLady’s Reviews

Wednesday, November 12
Guest Post at Passages to the Past

Thursday, November 13
Review at Curling Up By The Fire

Friday, November 14
Interview at The Maiden’s Court

Monday, November 17
Review & Interview at Jorie Loves a Story
Interview & Giveaway at Let Them Read Books

Tuesday, November 18
Review at Impressions in Ink

Wednesday, November 19
Guest Post & Giveaway at Historical Fiction Connection

Thursday, November 20
Review & Giveaway at Beth’s Book Reviews

Friday, November 21
Review at Bibliotica

Review: The Crystal Cage, by Merryn Allingham (enter to win a copy)

About the book, The Crystal Cage The Crystal Cage

Publication Date: August 4, 2014
Publisher:eHarlequin, eBook; ASIN: B00JTPU72S
Genre: Historical Romance

Captivated…or captured?

Appearances don’t always reveal the truth. Grace Latimer knows this better than most. Illusions of commitment and comfort have her trapped—until bohemian adventurer Nick Heysham charms his way into her world. Commissioned to recover a Great Exhibition architect’s missing designs, he persuades her to assist in his research. The mystery of the Crystal Palace seduces Grace, and once she discovers clues about a forbidden Victorian love affair, she’s lured into the deep secrets of the past…secrets that resemble her own.

As Grace and Nick dig into the elusive architect’s illicit, long-untold story, the ghosts of guilt and forbidden passion slip free. And history is bound to repeat itself, unless Grace finds the courage to break free and find a new definition of love…

Buy, read, and discuss the ebook of The Crystal Cage

Amazon Kindle | Barnes & Noble Nook | Kobo Books | Add to Goodreads


About the author, Merryn Allingham (in her own words) Merryn Allingham

My father was a soldier and most of my childhood was spent moving from place to place, school to school, including 03_Merryn Allinghamseveral years living in Egypt and Germany. I loved some of the schools I attended, but hated others, so it wasn’t too surprising that I left half way through the sixth form with ‘A’ Levels unfinished.

I became a secretary, as many girls did at the time, only to realise that the role of handmaiden wasn’t for me. Escape beckoned when I landed a job with an airline. I was determined to see as much of the world as possible, and working as cabin crew I met a good many interesting people and enjoyed some great experiences – riding in the foothills of the Andes, walking by the shores of Lake Victoria, flying pilgrims from Kandahar to Mecca to mention just a few.

I still love to travel and visit new places, especially those with an interesting history, but the arrival of marriage and children meant a more settled existence on the south coast of England, where I’ve lived ever since. It also gave me the opportunity to go back to ‘school’ and eventually gain a PhD from the University of Sussex. For many years I taught university literature and loved every minute of it. What could be better than spending my life reading and talking about books? Well, perhaps writing them.

I’ve always had a desire to write but there never seemed time to do more than dabble with the occasional short story. And my day job ensured that I never lost the critical voice in my head telling me that I really shouldn’t bother. But gradually the voice started growing fainter and at the same time the idea that I might actually write a whole book began to take hold. My cats – two stunning cream and lilac shorthairs – gave their approval, since it meant my spending a good deal more time at home with them!

The 19th century is my special period of literature and I grew up reading Georgette Heyer, so when I finally found the courage to try writing for myself, the books had to be Regency romances. Over the last four years, writing as Isabelle Goddard, I’ve published six novels set in the Regency period.

Since then, I’ve moved on a few years to Victorian England, and I’ve changed genre too. The Crystal Cage is my first novel under the name of Merryn Allingham. The book is a mystery/romantic suspense and tells the story of a long-lost tragedy, and the way echoes from the past can powerfully influence the life of a modern day heroine. The next few Allingham books will see yet another move timewise. I’ve been writing a suspense trilogy set in India and wartime London during the 1930s and 1940s, and hope soon to have news of publication.

Whatever period, whatever genre, creating new worlds and sharing them with readers gives me huge pleasure and I can’t think of a better job.

Connect with Merryn

Facebook | Goodreads


My Thoughts

I’m a big fan of architecture, history, and romance, so when you combine all three as marvelously as Merryn Allingham has in The Crystal Cage there’s very little chance I’ll be anything but happy. This book made me very, very happy.

First, it’s told as sort of parallel plots, a contemporary story about art promoters/historians trying to track down solid information about an architect of import, partly for the sheer satisfaction of finding the truth, but also for – let’s face it – money and notoriety. The three central figures of the contemporary plot form a triangle of sorts, with main character Grace at it’s apex, in a relationship with Oliver, whom becomes less and less pleasant as the story progresses (seriously, I would have walked out on him in chapter two), and Nick whose bohemian lifestyle belies his ability to love and commit.

For me, Grace’s personal journey toward finding herself as well as the right partner was just as interesting as the historical mystery, because it was so real, and so believable. Who among us hasn’t fallen into a relationship that seems like a good idea only to become a trap as life goes on.

And then there’s the historical love affair with the architect and the object of his affections, though I would argue that he also has a triangle, one where his life’s work is one of the points. Choosing between love and art is never easy, and his story is easily as compelling as the contemporary one.

Author Allingham does an amazing job at making each story connect to the other while still retaining period-appropriate language, tone, and action. The events in the past are no less vivid than those in the present, only slightly softened, as if being viewed through a mirror.

If you want a satisfying romance with an historical twist, excellent characters, and a compelling plot, I heartily recommend The Crystal Cage.

Goes well with Braised lamb shanks and a spring salad.


04_The Crystal Cage_Blog Tour Banner_FINALv2

This review is part of a blog tour sponsored by Historical Fiction Virtual Book tours, which is also running a giveaway raffle (see below). For more information, including the complete list of tour stops, click the banner above, or click HERE.

Giveaway

To win an eBook of The Crystal Cage please complete the Rafflecopter giveaway form below. Two copies are up for grabs. Giveaway is open internationally.

Giveaway ends at 11:59pm on October 15th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
Winner will be chosen via Rafflecopter on October 16th and notified via email.
Winner have 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.

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Review: East India by Colin Falconer

About the book, East India East India

Publisher: Cool Gus Publishing (July 8, 2014)
Formats: eBook, Paperback

In any other circumstance but shipwreck, rape and murder, a man like Michiel van Texel would never have met a fine lady such as Cornelia Noorstrandt.

He was just a soldier, a sergeant in the Dutch East India company’s army, on his way from Amsterdam to the Indies to fight the Mataram. Such a woman was far above the likes of him.

But both their destinies intertwine far away from Holland, on some god-forsaken islands near the Great Southland. When their great ship, the Utrecht, founders far from home, surviving the Houtman Rocks is the least of their worries.

As they battle to survive and the bravest and the best reveal themselves for what they are, Cornelia’s only hope is a mercenary in a torn coat who shows her that a man is more than just manners and money.

He makes her one promise: ‘Even if God forsakes you, I will find you.’

But can he keep it?

Described by one critic as ‘Jack and Rose in the seventeenth century’, East India will keep you wondering until the final page.

Watch the Book Trailer

Buy, Read & Discuss East India

Amazon | Barnes & Noble (Nook) | Google Play | iTunes | Kobo | Goodreads


About the author, Colin Falconer Colin Falconer

Born in London, Colin first trialed as a professional football player in England, and was eventually brought to Australia. He went to Sydney and worked in TV and radio and freelanced for many of Australia’s leading newspapers and magazines. He has published over twenty novels and his work has so far been translated into 23 languages.

He travels regularly to research his novels and his quest for authenticity has led him to run with the bulls in Pamplona, pursue tornadoes across Oklahoma and black witches across Mexico, go cage shark diving in South Africa and get tear gassed in a riot in La Paz.

He currently lives in Barcelona.

Connect with Colin

Website | Facebook | Twitter


My Thoughts

Both author Colin Falconer and the wreck of the real ship the Utrecht were new to me when I first began reading East India, which was provided for me to read and review, but as someone who is fascinated by ships and the sea, and who spent her first year hearing a foghorn signal her waking and sleeping hours, I was destined to find this novel captivating.

I really enjoyed the way the first chapter was set in the present day, but then we jump immediately to 1628, to see Cornelia Noorstrandt embarking on a nine-month journey to join her husband, an agent of the Dutch East India tea company. Her point of view is a blend of pragmatism and and hope; and her interactions with Michiel van Texel are always complex and compelling, the feelings between them both sweet and agonizingly sad.

But this isn’t a romance, it’s a story of survival. The ship sinks. The survivors shelter on an island, and do their best to survive, as relationships, status, and situations constantly shift.

Another author would take this tragic tale to extremes. Colin Falconer, however, tells his story with the perfect balance of vivid descriptions and nuanced details. Not only can you see the wood of the ship, the blue of the ocean, the less-than-fresh clothing, you can also taste the tang of salt on your lips, and feel the water soaking your skin.

As I’m sure many readers are doing, I’ve googled the shipwreck for more information, and am adding Colin Falconer’s work to my must-read list.

Goes well with Hot tea and a toasted English muffin with cheddar cheese melted on it.


East India Blog Tour Schedule

East India Blog Tour

Monday, July 28
Review at History & Women

Tuesday, July 29
Review at Svetlana’s Reads and Views

Wednesday, July 30
Review at Just One More Chapter

Tuesday, August 5
Review at Book Nerd

Thursday, August 7
Review at Bibliotica

Monday, August 11
Review at A Library of My Own

Friday, August 15
Review at Jorie Loves a Story

Monday, August 18
Review at The Book Binder’s Daughter

Thursday, August 21
Review at Beth’s Book Reviews

Monday, August 25
Review at Casual Readers

Saturday, August 30
Review at Book by Book

Wednesday, September 3
Review at Unshelfish

Tuesday, September 9
Review at The True Book Addict

Wednesday, September 10
Review at A Bookish Affair

Friday, September 19
Spotlight & Giveaway at Passages to the Past

In their Words: Interview with Anna Castle

Murder by Misrule

Last month, I reviewed Anna Castle’s historical mystery Murder by Misrule. Anna was kind enough to also grant me an interview, which we conducted via email. As you can see, she’s funny, interesting, and as unique as the book (series, actually) she’s created.

Melissa A. Bartell (MAB): Before we talk about your novel Murder by Misrule, let us get to know you. If you had to pick an historical figure to represent every 5-7 years of your life, who would they be and why?

Anna Castle (ANNA): This question is too hard for me! First, I’m not a navel-gazer; there are a hundred things I would rather think about than my personal history. Second, as a writer of historical fiction, it’s my job to uncover the complex layers of the people of the past, not to sum them up with short labels.

Anna Castle

It does sound like a fun game to play with the clan after Thanksgiving dinner, though. You could put historical figures on cards and let people draw one and decide who it matched, at what period of their life. (OK, I’m going to patent that idea, but I’ll split it with you, since it was your question.)

 

MAB: What draws you to historical fiction? What draws you to write at all?

ANNA: The time-traveling: writing stories is my way of working through the past and figuring out how a person could live and work and play back then and over there.

As for writing, when it’s going well, it’s the most fun thing there is. It’s like building and exploring at the same time, without any sharp things nicking your fingers or clouds of mosquitos swarming around your head.

 

MAB: You chose Francis Bacon as the lead in your novel; what about his story made you want to put him in a mystery?

ANNA: He’s the natural choice. Bacon was the most articulate advocate of inductive reasoning: study the facts, formulate a hypothesis, test, and refine.

He didn’t actually do much in the way of either scientific or criminal investigation, but he spent a lot of time thinking and writing about how such investigations ought best to be pursued.

All I do is put him on task by giving him urgent problems to solve.

 

MAB: There’s a big difference between contemporary Texas and Elizabethan England. What challenged you the most in creating your version of that period?

ANNA: The weather! Summer in Texas lasts from May through October. It seldom snows in Austin. We do not have fog. We rarely get that chilly drizzle that is so typical of English weather, nor that sweet, soft, delicious spring rain. Love that rain! Mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the summer sun; maybe made cats and Texans go out in the winter rain.

One of the main reasons I go there is to inhabit their climate, see where the sun stands and how the wind blows. It surprises me every time that I can walk outdoors in a wool sweater in June and not be hot. I’ve even gotten sunburned in England! Who’d’ve thunk it?

MAB: Were there any cultural similarities that surprised you when you were doing research? If so, what?

ANNA: Not so much. Sixteenth century England is the root of both our cultures, after all. I’m as much like the people of Bacon’s time as a modern Englishwoman; more, maybe, in terms of dialect. I’m there to study the past, so I only pay enough attention to contemporary culture to keep from getting run over by a bus.

It does seem to me that English and American cultures are in many ways reconverging, since we swim in the same big media pool. I am sometimes surprised by the depth of familiarity with American history that crops up in British television. Like one detective saying to the other, “Houston, we have a problem,” or “Not quite ‘How did you enjoy the play, Mrs. Lincoln?'” Tiny bits, but ubiquitous.

Murder by Misrule

MAB: This novel is set in the period of Misrule. Tell us a bit about that, and why you picked it as the perfect time of year for a murder mystery?

ANNA: I remember thinking of the first murder as a demented chase scene through the yew labyrinth in the Queen’s garden, drunken retainers from a pageant at the nearby Accession Day festivities chasing a sore-footed barrister. I liked the topsy-turviness of that scene. It got cut somewhere around draft 3, but it was the seed from which the rest of the story sprang.

I connected it to Gray’s Inn when I learned that they used to make a big deal of the season of Misrule. Young law students were obliged to remain in residence over the Christmas break, both to keep them from coming back late for the January term and to give them some of the social polish their parents expected them to acquire.

These restless young gentlemen had to be entertained. Why not bump a few of them off to make things more interesting?

 

MAB: Aside from Francis Bacon, do you have a favorite character in your novel? If so, who, and why?

ANNA: I love all my characters, even the villains. Even the walk-ons and the snivelly ass-kissers. So I don’t have a favorite, but I do have an avatar, so to speak — Mrs. Anabel Sprye. She’s me, which is why she’s writing a book.

 

MAB: Is there a specific scene in the novel that you’re particularly proud or fond of? Can you share it with us?

ANNA: This is one of those questions that’s easy to pose and impossible to answer. Pick a scene, any scene — I sweat them all. Far easier to point out the scenes that fell short of my grandiose dreams, but that would be foolish and self-defeating and we don’t go there.

MAB: Francis Bacon spends a lot of time reading. Similarly, the writers of our own time are also readers. What are some of your favorite books and authors? What are you reading now?

ANNA: All writers are readers first. If not, they shouldn’t be writing.

On my desk at this moment: John W. Weatherford, Crime and Punishment in the England of Shakespeare and Milton (proof that I couldn’t invent anything half as wacky as the truth); Anthony Esler, The Aspiring Mind of the Elizabethan Younger Generation (a fascinating if somewhat strained 60’s psychological analysis of my main guys); and my Kindle, on which I’m reading Eric Mayer & Mary Reed’s 10 for Dying; Katie Graykowski’s Perfect Summer; and Shakespeare’s Works.

MAB: What’s a typical day in the life of Anna Castle? Take us through one.

ANNA: I get up a little after daylight and screw around on the net for 30 minutes or so while drinking that all-important first cup of coffee. Then I write through lunch. Then I do chores or similar, go to the gym, come back and do writing biz for as long as it takes. And then my day is done.

Sometimes I break early to have lunch with a friend, which I like better than going out for dinner. Sometimes I blow it all off and go hiking.

MAB: Writing can be a solitary activity. How do you deal with it?

ANNA: Writing is most assuredly a solitary activity. That’s one of the things we like about it. If we wanted a busy environment, we would get jobs. I like the solitude. I like the silence. I like living in the past inside my head.

MAB: What advice would present-day Anna give to her sixteen-year-old self?

ANNA: Do not smoke that cigarette.

MAB: Will there be more Francis Bacon mysteries? What’s next for you?

ANNA: There will indeed be more. Book 2 is due to my editor on Sunday. Plot-a-thon for book 3 is slated for August, but probably going to get slipped to September because I think book 2 needs a lot of editing. Then again, I always think that at this stage.

I have another series of humorous regional modern mysteries in the sub-genre formerly known as ‘cozy’ which I plan to launch sometime in the coming year, as soon as I can think of a tagline that doesn’t sound like Prince’s new name.

And there are short stories leaping up and down in the back of my mind clamoring for attention. I’m looking forward to getting back into my newly rehabbed house and writing up a perfect storm.

Connect with Anna

Website | Blog | Facebook | Twitter

Buy, read, and discuss Murder by Misrule

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Review: The Bone Church by Victoria Dougherty

About the book, The Bone Church The Bone Church

Publication Date: April 15, 2014
Pier’s Court Press
Formats: eBook, Paperback

In the surreal and paranoid underworld of wartime Prague, fugitive lovers Felix Andel and Magdalena Ruza make some dubious alliances – with a mysterious Roman Catholic cardinal, a reckless sculptor intent on making a big political statement, and a gypsy with a risky sex life. As one by one their chances for fleeing the country collapse, the two join a plot to assassinate Hitler’s nefarious Minister of Public Enlightenment and Propaganda, Josef Goebbels.

But the assassination attempt goes wildly wrong, propelling the lovers in separate directions.

Felix’s destiny is sealed at the Bone Church, a mystical pilgrimage site on the outskirts of Prague, while Magdalena is thrust even deeper into the bowels of a city that betrayed her and a homeland soon to be swallowed by the Soviets. As they emerge from the shadowy fog of World War II, and stagger into the foul haze of the Cold War, Felix and Magdalena must confront the past, and a dangerous, uncertain future.

Buy, read, and discuss The Bone Church

Amazon | Amazon UK | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | IndieBound | Add to Goodreads


About the author, Victoria Dougherty Victoria Dougherty

Victoria Dougherty writes fiction, drama, and essays that often revolve around spies, killers, curses and destinies. Her work has been published or profiled in The New York Times, USA Today, International Herald Tribune and elsewhere.

Earlier in her career, while living in Prague, she co-founded Black Box Theater, translating, producing and acting in several Czech plays. She lives with her husband and children in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Connect with Victoria

Website | Facebook | Goodreads | Pinterest | Twitter


My Thoughts

I was expecting The Bone Church to be a bit dark, a bit gritty, and incredibly honest, and this novel was all of those things. What surprised me was that amidst all the grit and darkness, there were these great moments of lyrical beauty and haunting spirituality.

Some of these moments were small – a comparison to the scent of coffee and oranges, the description of the texture of one of the many, many “Infant of Prague” statuettes that glutted the market, but it’s in those small moments, in those details, that Victoria Dougherty’s work really shines.

The story itself is gripping. We are sympathetic to Magdalena’s plight from the beginning, watching as she loses her identity and later, her marriage. We root for Felix, even when his behavior becomes a bit questionable. All of the other characters, many of whom would be easily interchangeable “stock” cold war figures in another author’s hands, have their own complications, secrets, and truths as well.

Put together, the setting, the characters, the period, even the weather, give us a picture of a part of history we typically only see from the point of view of much greater powers, and also serve forth a meaty story, rich with depth and intrigue.

Read this if you want something that manages to combine the best of LeCarre with the best of Sue Monk Kidd – a weird blending, but that’s how it felt to me. Read this if you want to be both entertained and enlightened.
Read The Bone Church if you want a good story that will linger with you for days after you’ve read it.
But definitely, read it.

Goes well with Lapsang souchong tea and navel oranges.


Bone Church Blog Tour

This review is part of a blog tour sponsored by Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours (HFVBT), who graciously arranged for me to have a copy of the book. For more information, and the complete list of tour stops, click the banner above, or just click HERE.