Friday, January 30, 2015

Review: A Grave Inheritance by Kari Edgren

From the Back Cover:

Selah Kilbrid may descend from the goddess Brigid, but her heart beats—and breaks—the same as any human. Yet enduring the scorn of London's most noble lords and ladies is a small price to pay for a chance at true happiness. Selah would endure much more for love, and her betrothed, Lord Henry Fitzalan, is prepared to challenge anyone foolish enough to stand in their way—even another goddess born.

But when a captivating young gentleman draws Selah into a world shadowed by secrets, she is forced to confront her darkest fears. What if some differences are too great to overcome and a future with Henry is doomed from the start?

With these doubts threatening her impending marriage and the very last of Brigid's fire draining from her soul, a violent attack on an innocent child pushes Selah to the very edge of her power. She must find a way to cross into the Otherworld and regain her strength—or forfeit the streets of London to death and disease.

My Thoughts:

Last year I read and enjoyed Kari Edgren's debut, Goddess Born, a novel of a lonely young woman with exceptional healing powers struggling to find her place in a superstitious community, though I had a few issues with it. But I was anxious to see how things would play out in A Grave Inheritance, the second book in the series, and I'm pleased to report that I ended up liking this one better than the first book!

The story picks up a few weeks after the first book left off, with Henry Fitzalan, the man Selah Kilbrid fell in love with believing he was an indentured servant, but who turned out to be heir to a dukedom and promised to a princess, back in England, and Selah, his affianced, preparing to follow him to meet his father and the king and secure her place as his bride. But the day before she is set to leave, an encounter with a strange man and an even stranger beast set her on edge. After a treacherous sea voyage, she arrives in London with her nerves and thoughts in a jumble, anxious to reunite with Henry but worried that his feelings for her and his determination to marry her may not have survived their separation. She quickly learns just how much the deck is stacked against them, with Henry standoffish in public, and a king, a princess, and most of English society condemning her as a gold-digging upstart. The one bright spot is the discovery of a fellow Goddess Born, a handsome young man keen to help Selah learn more about her heritage, to help her replenish her powers while in England, and to let him into her heart if he has his way.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Spotlight: Close to the Sun by Donald Michael Platt

Please join Donald Michael Platt as he tours again with Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours for Close to the Sun from Jan. 26-Feb. 16.

Publication Date: June 15, 2014
Fireship Press
eBook; 404p
Genre: Historical Fiction

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Close to the Sun follows the lives of fighter pilots during the Second World War. As a boy, Hank Milroy from Wyoming idealized the gallant exploits of WWI fighter aces. Karl, Fürst von Pfalz-Teuffelreich, aspires to surpass his father’s 49 Luftsiegen. Seth Braham falls in love with flying during an air show at San Francisco’s Chrissy Field.

The young men encounter friends, rivals, and exceptional women. Braxton Mobley, the hotshot, wants to outscore every man in the air force. Texas tomboy Catherine “Winty” McCabe is as good a flyer as any man. Princess Maria-Xenia, a stateless White Russian, works for the Abwehr, German Intelligence. Elfriede Wohlman is a frontline nurse with a dangerous secret. Miriam Keramopoulos is the girl from Brooklyn with a voice that will take her places.

Once the United States enter the war, Hank, Brax, and Seth experience the exhilaration of aerial combat and acedom during the unromantic reality of combat losses, tedious bomber escort, strafing runs, and the firebombing of entire cities. As one of the hated aristocrats, Karl is in as much danger from Nazis as he is from enemy fighter pilots, as he and his colleagues desperately try to stem the overwhelming tide as the war turns against Germany. Callous political decisions, disastrous mistakes, and horrific atrocities they witness at the end of WWII put a dark spin on all their dreams of glory.

Blogger Praise for Close to the Sun

"Donald Michael Platt’s Close to the Sun is an amazing story told from the perspective of average male fighter pilots in the onset and during WWII, juxtaposing between various men from many sides of the war. The details in this novel were spectacular, creating imagery and depth in the scenes and characters, as well as the dialogue being so nostalgic and well-written it felt right out of a 1950’s film. The romantic nuances of his storytelling felt incredibly authentic with the tug and pull of the men being called to serve and the women whom they loved who had their own high hopes, dreams, or work. I loved how he portrayed this women the most—strongly and fiercely independent. I’ve read several other books by Platt, and this is the best one I’ve read yet! I couldn’t stop reading. " - Erin Sweet Al-Mehairi, Hook of a Book

Monday, January 26, 2015

Spotlight + Giveaway: Blood Divide by John Sadler

Please join author John Sadler as he tours the blogosphere with Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours for Blood Divide: A Novel of Flodden Field from January 26-February 13.

Publication Date: January 27, 2015
Lion Fiction
Paperback; 352p
ISBN: 978-1782640899
Genre: Historical Fiction

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Gripping, visceral, and accessible historical fiction. The Battle of Flodden in September 1513 was one of the bloodiest battles ever fought on British soil, in which James IV, King of Scots, and virtually the whole of his nobility and gentry were annihilated in an afternoon along with 15,000 soldiers. Five centuries later, the slaughter still occupies a core position in the Scottish nationalist debate and in the pantheon of heroic failures. This novel puts you in the heart of the action; you’ll feel the sweat and the fear, the curtain of red mist.

The narrative covers April through September 1513, focusing around a handful of key characters: John Heron, Bastard of Ford, swaggering, violent, and disreputable, the black sheep of a good English family; Sir Thomas Howard, leader of the English forces and skilled strategist; Alexander, 3rd Lord Hume, leader of the Scots, bold but impetuous; Isabella Hoppringle, Abbess of Coldstream, hub of a web of influential women throughout the Scottish borders, a woman of significant influence and charisma.

Laced with dark humor and fascinating period detail, Blood Divide reminder readers that political intrigue and human folly are timeless.

Buy the Book

Barnes & Noble
Kregel Publications

About the Author

03_John Sadler AuthorJohn Sadler is an experienced military historian, a fellow of the Royal Historical Society, and the author of more than two dozen books. He is also a much traveled battlefield tour guide covering most major conflicts in the UK, Europe, and North Africa. For more information please visit John Sadler's website.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Bon Appetit and a Book with Kathleen Eagle, Author of Never Trust a Cowboy

By Kathleen Eagle
Harlequin Special Edition; December 16, 2014
$5.50 US; 224 pages
ISBN-13: 9780373658596

The last thing harried Lila Flynn needed was another cowboy to deal with, but new hire Del Fox was different than most sweet-talking wranglers. The hard worker had a gentle touch and eyes that spoke of a past he didn't share. Lila soon found her hardened heart softening, frightening her more than any other hurdles she was facing.

Del's assignment in Short Straw, South Dakota, was meant to be fast and simple. Falling for Lila Flynn, however, had complicated everything. If he did his job right it would mean destroying everything Lila had worked for. He'd given her every reason never to trust him with her heart, but when all was said and done, would she trust their love enough to give them a second chance?

Bon Appétit and a Book with Kathleen Eagle
author of 

Chicken Diable

I discovered this recipe when I was in high school, and I’ve been making it for family and friends ever since.  It’s always a hit. This is from my original recipe card:

Preheat oven to 375º
Makes 4 servings

1 broiler-fryer (about 3 lbs) cut up
4 tbsp butter
½ cup honey
¼ cup prepared mustard
1 tsp salt
1 tsp curry powder

1. Wash chicken pieces; pat dry; remove skin if you wish.

2. Melt butter in shallow baking pan.  Stir in remaining ingredients.  Roll chicken in mixture to coat both sides.  Arrange meaty side up.

3. Bake 1 hour, spooning sauce over chicken occasionally, until chicken is tender and richly glazed. If skin has been removed, baste more often.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Cover Reveal: All Played Out by Cora Carmack

I just read and loved All Broke Down, book two in the Rusk University series, and I am so excited to be part of the cover reveal blast today for book three,
All Played Out!

Image Map

First person in her family to go to college? CHECK.
Straight A’s? CHECK.
On track to graduate early? CHECK.
Social life? …..yeah, about that….

With just a few weeks until she graduates, Antonella DeLuca’s beginning to worry that maybe she hasn’t had the full college experience. (Okay... Scratch that. She knows she hasn't had the full college experience).

So Nell does what a smart, dedicated girl like herself does best. She makes a "to do" list of normal college activities.

Item #1? Hook up with a jock.

Rusk University wide receiver Mateo Torres practically wrote the playbook for normal college living. When he’s not on the field, he excels at partying, girls, and more partying. As long as he keeps things light and easy, it's impossible to get hurt... again. But something about the quiet, shy, sexy-as-hell Nell gets under his skin, and when he learns about her list, he makes it his mission to help her complete it.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Blog Tour Review + Giveaway: Rodin's Lover by Heather Webb

From the Back Cover:

A mesmerizing tale of art and passion in Belle Époque France

As a woman, aspiring sculptor Camille Claudel has plenty of critics, especially her ultra-traditional mother. But when Auguste Rodin makes Camille his apprentice—and his muse—their passion inspires groundbreaking works. Yet, Camille’s success is overshadowed by her lover’s rising star, and her obsessions cross the line into madness.

Rodin’s Lover brings to life the volatile love affair between one of the era’s greatest artists and a woman entwined in a tragic dilemma she cannot escape.

My Thoughts:

Right about this time last year, I read and loved Heather Webb's debut, Becoming Josephine, which made my list of the best books of 2014. Her Josephine was such an alluring, empathetic, and inspirational character, that I couldn't wait to see how Ms. Webb would bring Camille Claudel to life. I knew who Rodin was, but I knew nothing about Camille before reading this book. I love when historical fiction authors bring little-known women into the spotlight to shine alongside the men in their lives, whom history tends to remember better.

This book differs from Ms. Webb's first-person portrayal of Josephine in that it's told in alternating third-person points of view. At first I was surprised at the inclusion of Rodin's point of view, and I worried that it would take away from Camille's status as the star of the novel and make the story into more of a historical romance, and it does to an extent, but it also helps in that it gives us another view of Camille, and Rodin's experiences in the art community highlight the difficulties that even renowned artists of the time faced. I had no idea that the Paris art world in the late Victorian period was so political and cutthroat, and it was refreshing to glean insight into the business side of art, into all of the little behind-the-scenes details that no one thinks about when admiring the finished product. This world of cafes and ateliers and salons where artists worked and mingled and competed was fascinating.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Blog Tour Guest Post by Carol Cram, Author of The Towers of Tuscany

Please join me in welcoming author Carol Cram to Let Them Read Books! Carol is touring the blogosphere with her debut historical fiction novel, The Towers of Tuscany, and she's here today with a guest post about art and artists in Renaissance Italy, and how she crafted her heroine amidst them.

The Towers of Tuscany tells the story of a fictional woman painter in 14th Century Tuscany. During this period, women did not generally paint alongside men, particularly in Italy.

In nunneries in northern European countries such as Germany and England (and to a lesser extent France and Italy), nuns were sometimes engaged in painting religious iconography and illuminating manuscripts. However, according to my research, there is no documented evidence that women artists in Tuscany were engaged in any significant way with painting frescoes and panels.

Painting during the period was very much a family affair. A master painter (or maestro) would work alongside his brothers and train his sons and nephews. I consulted with an expert in Italian art of the period about whether it was plausible that a painting master who had no sons could teach his daughter painting skills. I was told that yes, the situation was plausible. That’s all I needed to dive in and invent Sofia Barducci, the daughter of Maestro Antonio Barducci of San Gimignano in Tuscany. Sofia is a young, spirited woman who makes a very big mistake. Unlike most girls of her era, Sofia is allowed to marry a man whom she chooses. Unfortunately, she chooses wrong. How many women through the centuries have made that mistake? Sofia’s plight, although rooted in the prejudices and customs of 14th Century Tuscany, is not so different from the plight of many women all over the world in our own time.

Sofia wants to follow her passion and to paint. The world she inhabits and her own choices conspire against her.