Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Jaspar's War blog tour and excerpt post

Jaspar's War by Cym Lowell
Publication date: March 1, 2014 by Rosemary Beach Press LLC
Source: Publisher via Meryl L. Moss Media Relations 
Description from Goodreads:
Greenwich, Connecticut socialite Jaspar Moran has it all-a magnificent estate, two beautiful children and a loving husband, Trevor, serving as the Secretary of the Treasury. Protected, admired and living in the lap of luxury, Jaspar is reeling from the news that his government jet has crashed just as her children vanish without a trace. An ominous message warns her to keep silent about her husband's role in the President's economic plan. Or else. Determined to save her children, she'll go to hell and back, form alliances with assassins, traitors and Mafioso, and commit unspeakable acts-if that's what it takes. With alarms sounding around the world, hunted from all sides, and unsure of who to trust, she finds herself depending on a mysterious figure without an identity. Jaspar journeys from the Australian outback to the palazzos of Rome, the Monte Carlo Grand Prix, and to the magnificence of the Vatican, in her quest. Can she rescue her children before the plot to crash the global economy is unleashed.


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Excerpt from
JASPAR’S WAR
By Cym Lowell


Chapter 1
Greenwich, Connecticut

POCK!” The distinctive sound of a plastic bat driving a Wiffle ball into the outfield triggered shrieks from children as they ran and played. My ten-year-old daughter Chrissy dropped the bat and raced toward first base, actually a luminous orange Frisbee.

“Run, Chrissy,” I shouted as she rounded first, heading toward second. Auburn ponytails, woven with my fingers, flew in her wake. Theo, my twelve-year-old son, played shortstop. Chrissy watched his face.

“Go!” he telegraphed. I clasped my hands, hoping that she would not slide face first into base. Scratches and cuts were no deterrent when she was so focused.

It was Easter weekend, a time for relaxation and family in Greenwich, Connecticut. Neighbors, friends, and local dignitaries filled our park-like estate. We had room for a ball field where neighborhood kids could congregate. Private security personnel were out of sight.

It was an annual celebration of faith. Parents and grandparents sat all around, absorbing the beautiful sunshine and mild weather. They brought coolers of drinks, soda pop for the kids, beer and wine for the adults. It was my version of a neighborhood tailgate party. My dream of family and community had come true.

“Throw the ball,” the other team yelled as the outfielder cocked his arm.

“Down, Chrissy!” Theo yelled.

Their father had taught her to ignore the ball and watch the coach.

 “Your agility will always give you an edge,” he said.

Small thin legs churned as the ball was launched. I cringed watching her dive. Dust flew from the infield side of the base. The second baseman caught it just as the little fingers touched safety, and the catcher’s hand smacked her hip.

“Safe!” the father serving as umpire shouted, crossing outstretched arms in exclamation.

I jumped for joy. Theo stood back, pride on his face. Chrissy brushed grass and dirt from her bottom, beaming at her brother. She gave me a thumbs up. No blood. I was relieved. Taunts from the other boys about coddling his sister only amused her proud big brother.

Neighborhood kids enjoyed the afternoon Wiffle ball game on the lawn between our pool and tennis courts. I organized the games just as I had played them as a child. My dad called it “scrub.” As a player made an out, she would go to right field and the catcher moved up to bat in the prescribed rotation.

“Jaspar, when will Trevor get home?” my best friend Crystal Jamison asked about my husband. I took my seat, still reveling in the joy of observing my children care for each other. She sipped a glass of Sancerre, basking in the sun and relaxing in a rocking chair brought from the pool.

“Trevor is so good at teaching passing techniques,” she said watching her own son. “Joshua will be a senior this year, so he needs to make a strong showing for college scouts. Trevor is his hero.”

I remembered Trevor dropping back to pass on the sacred turf of Notre Dame Stadium in South Bend, then stepping forward to deliver his trademark bullet to a receiver streaking across the goal line to seal a national championship. The memory was so strong. I longed for him to be back at my side. Before departing, he told me of his fear that his fabled career on Wall Street had been a fraud. Our conversation had to be completed.

POCK!” brought my attention back to the kids on the grass. They all raced to field the ball. Chrissy was on her way around third as the batter ran to first, the wobbly ball flying just over the head of Theo. He ran after it, looking over his shoulder at Chrissy racing toward the plate. Reaching the ball, he turned and launched a strike to the catcher, doing his best to nail her.

“Run Chrissy,” I yelled rising again. She jumped on home base in triumph as the floating ball was caught too late.

“Batter up,” Theo yelled as I returned to my seat.

“Trevor’s on his way home from London,” I answered my friend’s question.

Crystal and I first met when we came to New York after college. Her husband Raymond played football with Trevor at Notre Dame. They were quite a team. A fleet, sure-handed receiver, Raymond caught the passes that Trevor threw. Trevor’s career ended in a national championship game. Raymond came to New
York drafted by the Jets. Trevor took an entry position on Wall Street. I dated Raymond early in college before I met Trevor or he began dating Crystal. She and I were kids just off campus coming to the big city. Neither of us had any real preparation for the strange new world. We found jobs in finance, me at the Federal Reserve on Wall Street and Crystal in a research office of a secretive private equity firm owned by an Indian tribe. Similarity of situation and background facilitated fast friendship. Her drawl from rural Georgia complimented my odd mixture of Australian Outback and Northern Indiana twang. As our husbands succeeded, we searched for a place where we could live in relative obscurity. Greenwich was perfect. Our children grew up together, like the extended family of my dreams.

“He’s gone so much now,” Crystal responded. “You seemed excited when he went down there. Almost as if he were answering a call to duty.”

“He’s been seeking European agreement for the president’s stimulus plan.”

Trevor took to Wall Street. He began as a runner for energy traders and became fascinated with learning to anticipate market movements. His skill expanded in a master’s program at Columbia, propelling him to a position where he implemented a strategy to take advantage of an inconsistency in risk pricing. Successful exploitation brought us success.

Trevor’s firm, Westbury Madison & Co., became the pre-eminent Wall Street investment bank, profiting whether the economy flourished or crashed due to what Trevor believed was his own strategy. When the financial world crashed, President Hamilton Henrichs asked him to lead the effort to resurrect the economy of America and the world as secretary of the Treasury, a position once held by Alexander Hamilton. The financial press criticized the appointment. “Wolf Hired to Rebuild Hen House?” asked
headlines in the financial and popular press.

“I am proud of him,” I answered, anxiously twisting the everpresent bangles at my left wrist. They were gifts I’ve treasured from my Indian friends. “He works hard and travels constantly trying to plug holes in the economic dam of the world.”

Inside, far different feelings had germinated. Something was wrong. What happened to you, Trevor? He was distant, ignoring me in ways that I had never experienced. He seemed to avoid me. Is he having an affair? I wondered, fearing that a slowly ebbing sex life could be a marker of something more than job stress. Have I become less desirable or is there something troubling in his new life in Washington that he cannot find words to tell me?

“You seem distant, honey” I finally said as he was leaving days earlier. “Have I done something?”

“I know,” he answered, with an unusual tone of resignation in his voice. “It’s not you, sweetheart. Please don’t think that. I’m sorry. I’ve discovered treachery that you may be able to understand better than me. I need your help,” he blurted out, taking me in his arms with a grip that felt desperate.

“Is it something at Treasury?” I asked, relieved that his distance was due to business. But his distance troubled me. It was so unlike anything I had experienced in our life together.

“Yes, it’s there and also in the White House. It’s unbelievable,” he answered in a voice that trembled as his hands shook. “I’ve been used by people I trusted. It began at the firm.”

“At Westbury?”

“Yes. I’ve tried to piece the story together. We can discuss what to do when I return.”

My relief soon gave way to fear. Trevor was afraid; I had never seen that in him. Was my intrepid hero cracking?

* * *

“Hey Mom, come pitch,” Theo yelled as one player jumped into the pool. The scrub game was more fun with full teams in the field and at bat. The kids liked me to pitch because I threw softly. “Like a girl,” Theo would say, happy that he could always whack my pitch. His friends tried to throw curves or fastballs with the plastic sphere with holes on one side. I learned from my dad how to pitch so the ball hung right in Theo’s sweet spot. Of course, I did the same for all the kids; unfortunately I usually struck out as batter. My father was a missionary. After my mother died when I was just three he raised me. For many years we lived in the Australian Outback. When it was time for college, we moved to South Bend,
Indiana. I was the first member of my family to go to Notre Dame on a scholarship. Dad was proud. He lived long enough to express his pride. His greatest joy, he often said with breaking voice, was that I had grown as a woman of faith: “Your mother’s heart would burst with thankfulness.”

“Gotta go,” I responded to Crystal, touching her shoulder and grabbing my mitt. Theo was the next batter. I picked up the ball as I marked my territory around the luminous strip of plastic that served as the pitcher’s mound. Theo looked like pictures of my dad at the same age.

My son stepped to the plate, pointing the bat at me. “Gotcha, Mom!” he declared for the entire neighborhood to hear. I had to play the role. Glove on my knee, I leaned forward with the ball behind my back as if I were looking for a signal. I glanced at runners on base, then the batter.

“Strike the turkey out!” Crystal yelled.

“Yeah, yeah!” our friends echoed.

“Strike one!” the umpire shouted as Theo’s bat slapped the back of his shoulder, so intense was the swing.

“Mom?” his lips mimed, looking at me.

“Strike two!”

The words roused cheers from parents ringing the field. Beer and wine had flowed long enough to produce a boisterous mood. Adults always lost in these games, so the prospect of me striking out the best of the kids triggered excitement.

I gripped the Wiffle ball, knowing where to place my fingers for an underhand throw. It could be a screwball, twisting into the right-handed batter, as I had done on the first strike then reversed for the second. Or, I could push the ball with my knuckles, and it would drop as he was getting ready to swing. Theo’s focus was like his father’s. He looked straight into my eyes, curious. I was jolted back to the moment. In throwing strikes, I had allowed my anxiety to overcome Theo’s needs.

“POCK!” The sound rewarded me as the ball sailed over the head of the left fielder. Theo winked as he ran to first. It would be a home run. I had thrown his pitch. Maternal pride filled my soul.

“Yeah, Theo!” Chrissy yelled in a squeaky voice. He also leapt on home plate in triumphant exclamation, ending the game. My boy led them all to the pool with Chrissy at his side.

* * *

After the game, Crystal and I organized the food brought by our friends and neighbors. Fathers and older boys unloaded tables from a rental company trailer in our driveway, arranging them in a horseshoe around the pool so we could eat and talk.

 “Have you seen the kids?” I asked her when Theo and Chrissy seemed to have been absent for a long time.

“Oh, come on, calm down,” Crystal responded. “What could happen here?”

We joined our neighbors at a tent erected on the ball field. One of our traditions was to have entertainment as the late afternoon set, so the children would not be so impatient for darkness and the fireworks. I had arranged with the local Mohegan tribe to have a troupe perform traditional dance routines of celebration. Crystal and I worked for many years with the tribe. Our project was developing job opportunities, which had evolved into a business of creating replicas of art, apparel, and pottery from their rich cultural heritage. Our work was gratifying and successful. Members of the troupe mingled in the crowd entertaining the kids. On stage, each child was outfitted with handmade costumes complete with colorful feathers and leather trim. Tribal artists applied face and body paints to duplicate markings from the proud history of the Mohegan people. We were all lost in the magic. It became difficult to separate child from tribal dancer.

“This is amazing?” Raymond declared, enjoying the collage of color and laughter. His career with the Jets ended suddenly when a vicious cross block broke his ribs and punctured his heart muscle. He became a youth counselor in the Greenwich school system, close to home and family.

I searched the faces of dancers and children trying to find Theo and Chrissy, ignoring the conversation surrounding me. I had not seen either since the game ended. Always in the midst of the children, they should be playing and laughing. I tried not to panic, but was failing. When the exhibition was at an end, darkness began to envelop the scene. “Crystal, they’re not here!”

“Raymond, get the officers,” she directed, taking my arm.

“No child has left the grounds,” the head of security detail assured me, deploying his team to search. As the fireworks display began, the Greenwich police, as well as the Connecticut State Police began checking cars, trucks, and the equipment of the Mohegan troupe. No one was allowed to leave. Backup security teams arrived as the dark sky was illuminated by a kaleidoscope of color.

I barely heard the increasingly anxious discussions of friends and security people. Chrissy did not like chaos and always curled up in my lap at such times. “Where are you, sweetheart?” I asked pacing back and forth.

Neighbors were herded onto the driveway as officers checked each person. Police cars with emergency lights blocked the entrance to our property. Flashlights illuminated fence lines as the search broadened.

“Who delivered the tables?” the senior security officer asked, trying to confirm all who had come and gone.

“I, I, I don’t know,” I stammered, my mind not able to focus on even a simple question.

“Where are they officer? They can’t be hiding this long. They wouldn’t run off. Who would take them?” I asked.

“Ma’am, we’re trying to . . .”

“Mrs. Moran?” a man in a suit asked politely, interrupting the security officer’s response. In the midst of the chaos, a dark sedan had been allowed to enter the driveway.

I was drifting into shock.

“Mrs. Moran, I need to speak to you,” the man repeated gently taking my arm.

“Who are you?” the security officer asked.

“I am Peter McGuire with the FBI,” he said, holding out identification.
“What’s going on here?” he asked, looking at dozens of flashlights sweeping grounds and trees. Neighbors stood by the garages. The Indian troupe clustered by their vehicles.

“My children have disappeared,” I blurted out.

Crystal had called my priest, Father Michael O’Rourke. He was the priest in the rural Australia diocese of my childhood and my dad’s best friend. When I got to Notre Dame, Father Michael was there as a youth pastor. “I am your guardian angel,” he often declared. The image was an essential element of my faith. He had been present throughout my life. He came at the first hint of trouble or joy. Father Michael explained the situation as the security leader departed to check how the search was going.

Something passed over the FBI agent’s face. “Mrs. Moran, is there someplace we could speak in private?”

“Let’s go in the house,” Crystal suggested as she and Raymond led us inside.

We stepped in the front door. The FBI officer motioned for Crystal and Raymond to sit on either side of me on a sofa.

“May I get you anything, Mrs. Moran,” he asked.

“No, what is it?”

He knelt and took my hand. “Mrs. Moran, we regret to inform you that Secretary Moran’s plane en route from London has apparently crashed into the ocean near Iceland. Search planes are on their way. It will take several hours. The conditions are horrendous in the remote area where the plane disappeared.”

I barely heard the words. The rest of the evening was a blur. Friends took turns staying with me throughout the night. Father Michael was at my side when I awoke to the distinctive cathedral chime of my phone.

“Theo or Chrissy at last!” I said grabbing for a ray of hope.
“They must have gone to a friend’s house.”

The chime continued. My mind cleared enough to sit up, hold
Father’s hand, and look at the phone.

“It’s Trevor!” I blurted. His name was on the caller ID. My mind jumped to the conclusion that he was safe after all. “Thank God!”

“Honey, where are you?” I asked. He’ll take care of this.
Long moments elapsed in silence as I pressed the phone to one ear then the other. “Trevor? Honey?”

“A text message will arrive momentarily,” a mechanical voice enunciated slowly. It sounded as if the words were spoken from underwater. The connection terminated, leaving only a cold dial tone.

I looked at the phone.

“Jaspar, what is it?” Father asked, standing next to Crystal and Raymond. I looked up at each of them. Their eyes narrowed with questions. Anxiety blew through me like a chill Arctic wind.

“I . . . I don’t know. The caller ID said ‘Trevor Moran.’ Then there was this scary voice.” I startled when the chime for a text message sounded. My eyes riveted on the words:

Your children are gone because you asked about something not your business.
Your husband started to answer and is being digested by sharks.
If what he believed becomes public, your children will also become ocean shit.
Your silence is their only path to life.


Excerpted from the book JASPAR’S WAR by Cym Lowell.  Copyright © 2014 by Cym Lowell.  Reprinted with permission of Rosemary Beach Press.  All rights reserved


Monday, April 21, 2014

The Collector of Dying Breaths Blog Tour and Review

The Collector of Dying Breaths by M.J. Rose
Publication date: April 8, 2014 by Atria Books
Source: Publisher via Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours for an honest review
Synopsis:
From one of America’s most imaginative storytellers comes a passionate tale of love and treachery, spanning the days of Catherine de Medici’s court to the twenty-first century and starring a woman drawn back, time and again, to the past.

In 1533, an Italian orphan with an uncanny knack for creating fragrance is plucked from poverty to become Catherine de Medici’s perfumer. To repay his debt, over the years René le Florentine is occasionally called upon to put his vast knowledge to a darker purpose: the creation of deadly poisons used to dispatch the Queen’s rivals.

But it’s René’s other passion—a desire to reanimate a human breath, to bring back the lives of the two people whose deaths have devastated him—that incites a dangerous treasure hunt five centuries later. That’s when Jac L’Etoile—suffering from a heartache of her own—becomes obsessed with the possibility of unlocking Rene’s secret to immortality.

Soon Jac’s search reconnects her with Griffin North, a man she’s loved her entire life. Together they confront an eccentric heiress whose art collection rivals many museums and who is determined to keep her treasures close at hand, not just in this life but in her next.

Set in the forest of Fontainebleau, crisscrossing the lines between the past and the present, M.J. Rose has written a mesmerizing tale of passion and obsession. This is a gothic tale perfect for fans of Anne Rice, Deborah Harkness, and Diana Galbadon.


My Take:

The Collector of Dying Breaths is the next book detailing the adventures of Jac L'Etoile, the young woman who is part of a family of perfumers and has an uncanny ability to see and experience moments from what are apparently her past lives.

As was the case with Seduction, I had a hard time deciding which story line I liked the best - the one in present day or the one from the past. Both timelines are interesting and exciting, but I guess I was especially fascinated by the story of Rene le Florentine partly because of the Catherine de Medici connection, but also, the author does a wonderful job of bringing that time period to life for the reader. The danger Rene often finds himself in, the court intrigue, the enemies lurking around every corner - it is just so much fun to read.

Meanwhile, in present day, Jac tries to deal with a tragedy that I was so upset to read about. I won't give it away, but it was quite upsetting and despite the way it is resolved, I was very sad about it. As is often the case for Jac, she makes decisions based on emotion and sometime rebellion. She often ends up in danger and this time around she finds some real characters to get mixed up with.

I found The Collector of Dying Breaths to be a fast paced, exciting book and would happily recommend it to those who enjoy historical fiction with a bit of romance thrown in.



About the Author

M.J. RoseM.J. Rose is the international best selling author of fourteen novels and two non-fiction books on marketing. Her fiction and non-fiction has appeared in many magazines and reviews including Oprah Magazine. She has been featured in the New York Times, Newsweek, Time, USA Today and on the Today Show, and NPR radio. Rose graduated from Syracuse University, spent the ’80s in advertising, has a commercial in the Museum of Modern Art in NYC and since 2005 has run the first marketing company for authors – Authorbuzz.com. The television series PAST LIFE, was based on Rose’s novels in the Renincarnationist series. She is one of the founding board members of International Thriller Writers and runs the blog- Buzz, Balls & Hype. She is also the co-founder of Peroozal.com and BookTrib.com.
Rose lives in CT with her husband the musician and composer, Doug Scofield, and their very spoiled and often photographed dog, Winka.
For more information on M.J. Rose and her novels, please visit her website. You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter and Goodreads.

Virtual Book Tour Schedule

Monday, March 3
Review at Peeking Between the Pages
Tuesday, March 4
Review at The Novel Life
Wednesday, March 5
Review at Bitches with Books
Review at WTF Are You Reading?
Thursday, March 6
Review at Flashlight Commentary
Friday, March 7
Interview at Flashlight Commentary
Monday, March 10
Review at Diary of an Eccentric
Tuesday, March 11
Review at Book-alicious Mama
Wednesday, March 12
Review at Kinx’s Book Nook
Thursday, March 13
Review at Luxury Reading
Friday, March 14
Review at The Wormhole
Review at Book Drunkard
Monday, March 17
Review at Closed the Cover
Review at Oh, for the Hook of a Book
Tuesday, March 18
Review at The Lit Bitch
Interview at Closed the Cover
Wednesday, March 19
Review at Princess of Eboli
Friday, March 21
Review at She is Too Fond of Books
Review at Historical Tapestry & The Adventures of an Intrepid Reader
Monday, March 24
Review at To Read or Not to Read
Guest Post at Mina’s Bookshself
Wednesday, March 26
Review at Ageless Pages Reviews
Guest Post at Historical Fiction Connection
Thursday, March 27
Guest Post at CelticLady’s Reviews
Friday, March 28
Review at Historical Fiction Obsession
Wednesday, April 2
Review at Confessions of an Avid Reader
Thursday, April 3
Review at Mari Reads
Friday, April 4
Spotlight at Reading the Ages
Monday, April 7
Review at A Chick Who Reads
Tuesday, April 8
Review at Mina’s Bookshelf
Review at Lit Addicted Brit
Friday, April 11
Review at She Reads Novels
Monday, April 14
Review at CelticLady’s Reviews
Tuesday, April 15
Review at Bibliophilic Book Blog
Wednesday, April 16
Review at A Novel Review
Review at West Metro Mommy
Review at The Musings of a Book Junkie
Thursday, April 17
Review & Interview at Cozy Up with a Good Read
Friday, April 18
Review at So Many Books, So Little Time
Monday, April 21
Review at A Book Geek
Tuesday, April 22
Review at Blogging the Beloved
Wednesday, April 23
Review at A Dream Within a Dream
Interview at Blogging the Beloved
Thursday, April 24
Review at Pure Textuality
Friday, April 25
Review at The Musings of ALMYBNENR
Saturday, April 27
Guest Post at Peeking Between the Pages
Monday, April 28
Review at From Left to Write
Review at Book Dilettante
Tuesday, April 29
Review at Our Wolves Den
Wednesday, April 30
Review at From L.A. to LA
Thursday, May 1
Review at Bibliophilia, Please
Friday, May 2
Review at A Writer’s Life
Tuesday, May 6
Review at Peppermint, PhD
Review & Guest Post at The True Book Addict
Wednesday, May 7
Review at Booklover Book Reviews
Thursday, May 8
Review at Psychotic State Book Reviews
Friday, May 9
Review at Blood Mother
Monday, May 12
Review at Broken Teepee
Tuesday, May 13
Review at Savvy Verse & Wit
Wednesday, May 14
Review at Buried Under Books
Thursday, May 15
Review at bookramblings
Friday, May 16
Review at Svetlana’s Reads and Views
Monday, May 19
Review at The Mad Reviewer
Interview at Jorie Loves a Story
Tuesday, May 20
Review at Griperang’s Bookmarks
Review at Jorie Loves a Story
Thursday, May 22
Review at Seaside Book Corner
Friday, May 23
Review at Tower of Babel
Monday, May 26
Review at Cheryl’s Book Nook
Tuesday, May 27
Review at Just One More Chapter
Wednesday, May 28
Review at Book Nerd
Thursday, May 29
Review at Kincavel Korner
Review at Book Girl of Mur-y-Castell

Friday, May 30
Interview at Kincavel Korner





Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Leaving Everything Most Loved Blog Tour and Review

Leaving Everything Most Loved by Jacqueline Winspear
Publication date: Reprint edition April 8, 2014 by Harper Perennial
Source: Publisher via TLC Book Tours for an honest review
Synopsis:
London, 1933. Two months after Usha Pramal’s body is discovered in the waters of a city canal, her brother, newly arrived in England, turns to Maisie Dobbs for help. Not only has Scotland Yard made no arrests, but evidence indicates they failed to conduct a full investigation. Usha had been staying at an ayah’s hostel, a refuge for Indian women. As Maisie learns, Usha was different from the hostel’s other residents. But with this discovery comes new danger, as a fellow lodger who was close to Usha is found murdered.
As Maisie is pulled deeper into an unfamiliar yet captivating subculture, her investigation becomes clouded by the unfinished business of a previous case, and by a growing desire to see more of the world. At the same time, her lover, James Compton, gives her an ultimatum she cannot ignore. Bringing a crucial chapter in the life and times of Maisie Dobbs to a close, Leaving Everything Most Loved signals a vital turning point in this remarkable series.

My Take:

As usual, I was happy for the opportunity to read and review a new Maisie Dobbs book. I really enjoy reading about the character - an intelligent, well-educated female detective who places importance on taking the time for deep thought and bettering herself throughout her life.

A young woman from India named Usha Pramal is murdered and the investigation into her death becomes stagnant and almost forgotten until her brother arrives and asks Maisie Dobbs to look into it. Maisie is up for the challenge even though she is also dealing with other issues. Billy Beale, Maisie's assistant, hasn't fully recovered from an injury received on a different case. He is displaying erratic temper and a worrisome lack of concentration. On top of this, Maisie is feeling pressure from James Compton to make a decision about his marriage proposal, but Maisie has a desire to travel and explore more of the world.

It is in the midst of this turmoil that Maisie must pursue the evidence to find the person who killed Usha. The investigation not only eventually reveals the murderer, but it also deals with prejudice, people who profess to be doing God's work but are actually profiting from the misfortunes of displaced Indian women, broken families and a certain mystical aspect to Usha herself.

Leaving Everything Most Loved seems to be a sort of wrap up of a certain period in Maisie's life and there are transitions for her and for Billy. I felt the relationship between Maisie and Billy had changed over time and their lives are about to change in major ways.

I did wonder how common or accurate the depiction of the relationship between Maisie and James was. Would their cohabitation be frowned upon or would their high social and economic status quiet any possible scandal? I don't know, but I found it interesting. And  I was glad to see Maisie contemplating big changes in her life and following her own path. It feels like the time is right for her to attempt a new venture. I am curious to see where their relationship goes in the future.

I look forward to reading about Maisie's new adventures and I feel certain that there will be many interesting and possibly exotic locales for her to explore.





About Jacqueline Winspear

Jacqueline Winspear is the author of the New York Times bestsellers Leaving Everything Most LovedElegy for EddieA Lesson in SecretsThe Mapping of Love and Death, Among the Mad, and An Incomplete Revenge, as well as four other Maisie Dobbs novels. Originally from the United Kingdom, she now lives in California.
Find out more about Jacqueline at her website, www.jacquelinewinspear.com, and find her on Facebook.

Jacqueline’s Tour Stops

Tuesday, April 8th: Broken Teepee
Wednesday, April 9th: Col Reads
Thursday, April 10th: Book Addict Katie
Monday, April 14th: My Bookshelf
Wednesday, April 16th: A Book Geek
Thursday, April 17th: A Bookish Way of Life
Monday, April 21st: Book Dilettante
Tuesday, April 22nd: Peppermint PhD
Wednesday, April 23rd: The Reader’s Hollow

Thursday, April 24th: Mel’s Shelves



Monday, April 7, 2014

The Idea of Him excerpt post and Q&A

The Idea of Him by Holly Peterson
Publication date: April 1, 2014 by William Morrow

Excerpt:

CHAPTER 19 
FOCUSED AND FRUSTRATED

He had no doubt betrayed “us” again in some form or fashion because things were going on around me that he was lying about. He would do that in the future. I would either smile through or ignore the signs in the future. I would feel angry and lost and alone in the future. I would tear up photos again in the future that represented romantic ideals.
“It doesn’t mean what, Wade?”
He didn’t answer my last question; I just heard his rattled breathing on the other end of the line. I looked around at the mess in front of me. How the hell was I supposed to finish my work with this bizarre, awkward, unfinished, hurtful conversation looping in my head?
“Wade,” I said. “I can’t do this now.”
I hung up and suddenly I was back in that mangled plane, in the snow, desperate for a protector.  Was Wade just giving more of the same unsafe feeling I’d wanted to get away from? And it hit me that I hadn't so much forged a new life in marrying Wade; I'd simply come full circle.  Strange how we often seek what we hope to escape.


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

about the author:


Holly Peterson is the author of the New York Times and international best seller, The Manny. She was a Contributing Editor for Newsweek and editor-at-large for Tina Brown’s Talk magazine. She was also an Emmy Award–winning producer for ABC News for more than a decade, where she cov­ered global politics. Her writing has been published in the New York Times, Newsweek, Talk, the Daily Beast, Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, and other publications.

www.Facebook.com/HollyPetersonny
Twitter: @HollyPetersonNY

Question & answer with Holly Peterson:

Why did you write this book?

I wanted to write about the phenomenon of falling in love with the “idea” of someone versus the reality of the actual person across the dinner table from us. I think it’s something we all have done. Once we are in a relationship, sometimes we delude ourselves into being happy, yet something doesn’t feel quite right. When reality hits, we must confront our fears of being on our own, and that can be frightening. Our fears of being on our own often propel us into staying with the wrong person.

I know I’ve personally fallen for the “idea” of someone numerous times because I have an idea in my head of what I want that person to be and how I’ll feel with him: the cool guy with the long hair will make me cool, the stable, appropriate guy will make me feel safe…I even fell for a Frenchman over how his cashmere blazer felt on my cheek! All that stuff doesn’t count in the end: the only thing that matters in my mind when it comes to love is an accompanying true friendship and deep intimacy.


Your first book, THE MANNY, was a New York Times bestseller and was also set in present day Manhattan. How much of what you see around you is also in this book?

I have written a fair amount of journalistic pieces on big money in New York. Money is deeply psychological in that it drives people to act insane and say the craziest things. Every time they do, I put the quote in a little book I carry around and use in my fiction. I have now written two romantic books that primarily focus on relationships but that have modern day Manhattan as a lively, current backdrop. The characters in my books are composites of people I know and the events are based on real things I’ve definitely seen with my own eyes. 


You’re a journalist who’s worked at ABC News and written for magazines like Newsweek. How does that come into play when you’re writing fiction?

I am trained journalist by trade first and foremost. When I write a fictional scene, everything must be real and believable and accurate or it doesn’t feel right. That’s the joy of writing social satire in fiction. It’s all real, but it’s all so funny.

A friend of mine told me that fiction gets you closer to the truth because you don’t have the constraints of journalism when writing it. As a reporter, you often don’t have access to dinner parties or events or your interview subject doesn’t say the quote clearly and you are constrained by your access and sound bites.  In fiction, you can write the living room cocktail party, go into the bedroom, relay the conversation in a totally realistic way that is technically very truthful and that is very liberating for me.


What was your greatest career mistake as a journalist?

While at ABC News, I once did a big piece for Peter Jennings declaring that the Internet would amount to nothing.  You can find it on my website under the writings tab and ABC News icon.  Brilliant prediction.


The main character in THE IDEA OF HIM is a hard-driving businesswoman with two young children, and she struggles to balance her home life with her career. Is that a struggle that came from a real place? 

What woman doesn’t struggle with work, home, and family? Even women who don’t have a “paying” job work hard in a zillion ways that aren’t financially recognized: they maintain the value of the family’s home investment, help local charitable and religious institutions, and keep their neighborhoods and schools safe and the best they can be.  So, yes, I write at 4am to avoid a barrage of email interruptions, yell at the Verizon repair man, cry when my boss yells at me, and worry non-stop about the emotional health of my children, their progress in school, and long term happiness and stability that I’m supposedly grounding for them.  Who wouldn’t be nuts trying to do all this? We all are. I tried to depict a lot of this in THE IDEA OF HIM with Allie’s struggles so that people who read it can relate, cry, nod, and laugh.


In this book, the protagonist female character is not leading towards happiness with a man as her goal.  Tell us about that.

I believe a lot of women’s fiction and tons of romantic comedies in Hollywood don’t get published or produced because executives feel women have to “get the guy” to be fulfilled and for the audience to leave happy and “relieved.” I did not want to add to that “fiction” and I wanted to write about the opposite: a woman finding strength on her own. How does she find what makes her most happy at work, at home, and in her personal life?  The proverbial knight in shining armor or kissing Colin Firth in the rain is a nice, neat way to end a story for sure, but I wanted to write about the power within to make ourselves feel okay, safe, and, yes, happy.  Lots of time in life to find the right guy who isn’t an “idea”, but first let’s focus on ourselves and what we want for a moment and prioritize that before we leap for the next or most convenient man to hopefully do it for us.



Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Never Be At Peace Blog Tour and Review

Never Be At Peace by M.J. Neary
Publication date: March 17, 2014 by Fireship Press
Source: Publisher for an honest review
Synopsis:
A pugnacious orphan from a bleak Dublin suburb, Helena Molony dreams of liberating Ireland. Her fantasies take shape when the indomitable Maud Gonne informally adopts her and sets her on a path to theatrical stardom - and political martyrdom. Swept up in the Gaelic Revival, Helena succumbs to the romantic advances of Bulmer Hobson, an egotistical Fenian leader with a talent for turning friends into enemies. After their affair ends in a bitter ideological rift, she turns to Sean Connolly, a married fellow-actor from the Abbey Theatre, a man idolised in the nationalist circles. As Ireland prepares to strike against the British rule on Easter Monday, Helena and her comrades find themselves caught in a whirlwind of deceit, violence, broken alliances and questionable sacrifices. In the words of Patrick Pearse, “Ireland unfree shall never be at peace”. For the survivors of the Rising, the battle will continue for decades after the last shot had been fired.



My Take:

Never Be At Peace by M.J. Neary is an interesting look at a turbulent and fascinating period in Ireland's history. The book begins and ends with Helena Molony, who is an actress and a revolutionary, as well as a feminist and labor activist. Quite a combination in a young woman - especially for the time.

With Helena as a focal point, the reader is then introduced to other rebels, political and labor activists as well as Yeats and Maude Gonne at Abbey Theater. The story weaves Helena's life and activities with the other members of the various Irish nationalist groups, feminist groups and the politics of the time.

I found the use of Helena as a focal point to tell the larger story of Irish rebels while also dealing with the issues that were important for women to be quite riveting. Helena was involved in numerous groups and sadly seems to have been mostly forgotten today. Never Be At Peace does a good job of  bringing these people out of the history books and making them seem like real people again, not just names and dates. Their lives were complicated and the political and religious issues were complex. I found Helena's personal story to be absorbing and quite sad, really. I think the personal look at the lives of these activists, the repercussions of their actions and their determination in the face of hardships to be worthwhile and quite interesting.

 For those unfamiliar with Irish history, a little more explanation regarding the motivations for rebellion might have been nice, but I have studied Irish history a bit and  found the book quite compelling. For anyone interested in Irish history and/or politics, Never Be At Peace would be a great choice.


VIRTUAL BOOK TOUR SCHEDULE 

Monday, March 17Guest Post and Giveaway at English Historical Fiction Authors
Tuesday, March 18Interview at Una Donna Che Scrive
Wednesday, March 19Interview and Giveaway at The Maiden's Court
Thursday, March 20Review at Flashlight Commentary 

Friday, March 21Guest Post at To Read, or Not To ReadReview at Sharon's Garden of Book Reviews
Monday, March 24Interview and Giveaway at Let Them Read Books
Tuesday, March 25Review at A Book Geek

Wednesday, March 26Review at Let Them Read BooksReview at Unabridged Chick
Thursday, March 27Review at Something Worth ReadingInterview at Unabridged Chick
Monday, March 31Interview at Karen Randau
Wednesday, April 2Review and Guest Post at Oh For the Hook of A Book
Friday, April 4
Interview at Layered Pages 


ABOUT THE AUTHOR


A Chernobyl survivor adopted into the world of Anglo-Irish politics, Marina Julia Neary has dedicated her Neary-Head-Shot literary career to depicting military and social disasters, from the Charge of the Light Brigade to the Easter Rising in Dublin. Her mission is to tell untold stories, find hidden gems and illuminate the prematurely extinguished stars in history. She explore human suffering through the prism of dark humor, believing that tragedy and comedy go hand in hand.  Her debut novel Wynfield's Kingdom: a Tale of London Slums appeared on the cover of the First Edition Magazine in the UK and earned the praise of the Neo-Victorian Studies Journal. With the centennial of the Easter Rising approaching, she has written a series of novels exploring the hidden conflicts within the revolutionary ranks.  Never Be at Peace: a Novel of Irish Rebels is a companion piece to Martyrs & Traitors: a Tale of 1916.