Thursday, July 31, 2014

Sleeping with the Crawfish Review

Sleeping with the Crawfish by D.J. Donaldson
Publication date: January 2013 by Astor +Blue
Source: Publisher for an honest review
Andy Broussard, the plump and proud New Orleans medical examiner, obviously loves food.  Less apparent to the casual observer is his hatred of murderers. Together with his gorgeous sidekick, psychologist Kit Franklyn, the two make a powerful, although improbable, mystery solving duo.
Strange lesions found in the brain of a dead man have forensic pathologist Broussard stumped.  Even more baffling are the corpse’s fingerprints.  They belong to Ronald Cicero, a lifer at Angola State Prison… an inmate the warden insists is still there.  Broussard sends psychologist Kit Franklyn to find out who is locked up in Cicero’s cell.  But an astonishing discovery at the jail and an attempt on her life almost has Kit sleeping with the crawfish in a bayou swamp. And Broussard, making a brilliant deduction about another murder, may soon be digging his own grave.

You can purchase the book here:
•   Amazon

•   B&N

•  Astor+Blue

My Take:

As was the case with the previous Andy Broussard/Kit Franklyn book I read, Louisiana Fever, I was quickly caught up in a mystery that kept getting more complicated and dangerous with each page. 

Sleeping with the Crawfish follows the events of Louisiana Fever, and Kit is still trying to recover from the trauma and lost confidence that resulted from her kidnapping in Louisiana Fever.  Kit feels that she isn't up to the rigors of working with Broussard and that she isn't intellectually up to the challenge. Broussard and everyone else knows this isn't the case, but they have all been unable and/or unwilling to push the issue with her up this point.

In an attempt to show Kit that she can handle the job, Broussard asks her for what he thinks will be a very small, simple favor. But naturally, Kit walks into a much more difficult and dangerous situation than either of them knew. Honestly, I felt quite sorry for Kit -- she seems to get the short end of the stick every time. Although, I felt things evened out a bit since Broussard did end up in the field and encountered a bit of trouble himself in this one.

Kit goes to the prison to verify exactly who is in the prison cell - seems simple enough. As soon as she arrives she get some unexpected news regarding the prisoner. And then a strange series of events begins to unfold - too many coincidences to be sure. Things are not what they seem in this little town where the prison warden and the funeral director are family. 

This was definitely a fun, fast-paced read. I enjoyed the story and the returning characters, Broussard and Kit naturally, but also the always funny and lovable Grandma O.  If you enjoy a good mystery, some Southern charm and food, and good old-fashioned corruption, you will probably enjoy Sleeping with the Crawfish.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Lies Told in Silence Book Blast

02_Lies Told in Silence Cover

Publication Date: June 29, 2014 Tod Publishing
Formats: eBook, Paperback
Genre: Historical Fiction

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In 1914 Paris half the city expects war while the other half scoffs at the possibility. With knowledge gained from his role at the War Department, Henri Noisette fears that Germany may soon attack Paris. He therefore sends his wife, mother and two younger children to Beaufort, a small village in northern France. By late 1914, instead of a safe haven, Beaufort is less than twenty miles from the front. As war unfolds, Henri’s daughter, Helene, grows up quickly and in 1917 falls in love with Edward Jamieson, a young Canadian soldier. The novel examines love and loss, duty and sacrifice and the unexpected consequence of lies.

Praise for Lies Told in Silence

‘Dramatically depicts the horror and heartbreak of war, while also celebrating the resilience of the human spirit.’ - SHARON KAY PENMAN author of A King’s Ransom 'An intricate, well-researched novel of life forever changed by WWI yet still sweet with the tender innocence of the age.’ - DONNA RUSSO MORIN author of The King’s Agent ‘M.K. Tod is a powerful new voice in the historical fiction genre.’ - AMY BRUNO Historical fiction blogger at Passages to the Past ‘An absorbing and rewarding historical read .. depicting the ruinous impact of war on human lives across the generations.’ - MARGARET EVANS PORTER author of The Proposal ‘A compelling read right up to its taut page-turning ending.’ - RICHARD LEE founder of the Historical Novel Society

Buy the Book

Amazon US
Amazon UK

About the Author

03_M.K. TodM.K. Tod has enjoyed a passion for historical novels that began in her early teenage years immersed in the stories of Rosemary Sutcliff, Jean Plaidy and Georgette Heyer. During her twenties, armed with Mathematics and Computer Science degrees, she embarked on a career in technology and consulting continuing to read historical fiction in the tiny snippets of time available to working women with children to raise. In 2004, she moved to Hong Kong with her husband and no job. To keep busy Mary decided to research her grandfather’s part in the Great War. What began as an effort to understand her grandparents’ lives blossomed into a full time occupation as a writer. Her debut novel is UNRAVELLED: Two wars, Two affairs. One Marriage. LIES TOLD IN SILENCE, her second novel, is set in WWI France and tells the story of Helene Noisette who featured in Unravelled. Mary has an active blog - - which discusses all aspects of historical fiction and includes author and reader interviews. Additionally, she is a book reviewer for the Historical Novel Society. Mary lives in Toronto where she is happily married with two adult children. Connect with M.K. Tod on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.

Lies Told in Silence Blog Tour & Book Blast Schedule

Monday, July 28
Review at Unshelfish
Review at Flashlight Commentary
Book Blast at Our Wolves Den
Tuesday, July 29
Review at Just One More Chapter
Book Blast at Book Babe
Book Blast at A Book Geek
Book Blast at Mel's Shelves
Wednesday, July 30
Review at Bookish
Guest Post at Just One More Chapter
Book Blast at Passages to the Past
Thursday, July 31
Book Blast at Royalty Free Fiction
Friday, August 1
Book Blast at Back Porchervations
Book Blast at So Many Books, So Little Time
Saturday, August 2
Book Blast at Mythical Books
Monday, August 4
Review & Guest Post at A Bookish Affair
Book Blast at Historical Tapestry
Tuesday, August 5
Book Blast at Layered Pages
Book Blast at Princess of Eboli
Book Blast at What Is That Book About
Wednesday, August 6
Book Blast at Literary Chanteuse
Book Blast at Caroline Wilson Writes
Thursday, August 7
Review at The Book Binder's Daughter
Book Blast at Kinx's Book Nook
Friday, August 8
Book Blast at The Maiden's Court
Monday, August 11
Review at Dianne Ascroft Blog
Book Blast at Svetlana's Reads and Views
Tuesday, August 12
Book Blast at Book Nerd
Book Blast at The Bookworm
Wednesday, August 13
Review at The Writing Desk
Thursday, August 14
Book Blast at Words and Peace
Book Blast at CelticLady's Reviews
Friday, August 15
Review at Lost in Books
Book Blast at The Mad Reviewer
Sunday, August 17
Book Blast at Brooke Blogs
Monday, August 18
Review at The Librarian Fatale
Review at Historical Fiction Notebook


To win a copy of M.K. Tod's Lies Told In Silence please complete the Rafflecopter giveaway form below. Giveaway is open internationally!
Giveaway ends at 11:59pm on August 18th. You must be 18 or older to enter. Winner will be chosen via Rafflecopter on August 19th and notified via email. Winner have 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.
 photo 0739464c-670b-4fd2-87af-2b2ad8119519.pnga Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

The House We Grew Up In

The House We Grew Up In by Lisa Jewell
Publication date: August 12, 2014 by Atria Books
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Description from Goodreads:
Meet the Bird family. They live in a honey-colored house in a picture-perfect Cotswolds village, with rambling, unkempt gardens stretching beyond. Pragmatic Meg, dreamy Beth, and tow-headed twins Rory and Rhys all attend the village school and eat home-cooked meals together every night. Their father is a sweet gangly man named Colin, who still looks like a teenager with floppy hair and owlish, round-framed glasses. Their mother is a beautiful hippy named Lorelei, who exists entirely in the moment. And she makes every moment sparkle in her children's lives.

Then one Easter weekend, tragedy comes to call. The event is so devastating that, almost imperceptibly, it begins to tear the family apart. Years pass as the children become adults, find new relationships, and develop their own separate lives. Soon it seems as though they've never been a family at all. But then something happens that calls them back to the house they grew up in -- and to what really happened that Easter weekend so many years ago.

Told in gorgeous, insightful prose that delves deeply into the hearts and minds of its characters, The House We Grew Up In is the captivating story of one family's desire to restore long-forgotten peace and to unearth the many secrets hidden within the nooks and crannies of home.

My Take:
This is one of those books that just made me think: WOW! As soon as I started reading The House We Grew Up In, I was hooked. The book goes back and forth in time and also has some of Lorelei's emails interspersed throughout. The reader is introduced to the lovely Bird family, Lorelei and Colin and their children, Megan, Beth, Rory and Rhys. Lorelei is this free, flowing hippy flower-child who lives in the moment. Her husband, Colin, is more pragmatic and tries his best to make her happy.

While the book begins in present day, the story of the Bird family is told between the emails and remembered events from the past - often the Easters they celebrated together. Their lives seem almost idyllic as their story begins, but there is a certain tension there. Just what this is and the causes are slowly revealed throughout the novel. There is one shattering event that does seem to cause everyone to spin out of control and has long lasting consequences for the family.

I found this book to be a real page-turner. Once I started reading, I couldn't put it down. The writing is just beautiful and the story deals with family and all the messiness that can entail, mental illness, growing up, dealing with death and other changes in life. But most of all, it deals compassionately with the issue of hoarding. Each member of the family is allowed their view on the issue and how it impacts them. The issue is also examined from the perspective of the hoarder which I really found to be compelling. I will be suggesting this book to my friends and I am planning to suggest it to my book club for the coming year.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

What Strange Creatures

What Strange Creatures by Emily Arsenault
Publication date: July 22, 2014 by William Morrow
Source: Publisher for an honest review
Description from Goodreads:

Scandal, love, family, and murder combine in this gripping literary mystery by critically acclaimed author Emily Arsenault, in which a young academic’s life is turned upside down when her brother is arrested for murder and she must prove his innocence.

The Battle siblings are used to disappointment. Seven years, one marriage and divorce, three cats, and a dog later, Theresa still hasn’t finished her dissertation. Instead of a degree, she’s got a houseful of adoring pets and a dead-end copywriting job for a local candle company.

Jeff, her so-called genius older brother, doesn’t have it together, either. Creative, and loyal, he’s also aimless in work and love. But his new girlfriend, Kim, a pretty waitress in her twenties, appears smitten.

When Theresa agrees to dog-sit Kim’s puggle for a weekend, she has no idea that it is the beginning of a terrifying nightmare that will shatter her quiet world. Soon, Kim’s body will be found in the woods, and Jeff will become the prime suspect.

Though the evidence is overwhelming, Theresa knows that her brother is not a cold-blooded murderer. But to clear him she must find out more about Kim. Investigating the dead woman’s past, Theresa uncovers a treacherous secret involving politics, murder, and scandal—and becomes entangled in a potentially dangerous romance. But the deeper she falls into this troubling case, the more it becomes clear that, in trying to save her brother’s life, she may be sacrificing her own.

My Take:

There is so much that I loved about What Strange Creatures -- the title, the cover is just lovely and I loved that Theresa is so invested in Margery Kempe, but maybe most of all, I loved the quirkiness of Theresa and her brother, Jeff.

I really enjoyed Miss Me When I'm Gone by Arsenault and I looked forward to another fast-paced, fun, and unexpected ending to another mystery. I was not disappointed.  I think What Strange Creatures was even more enjoyable. 

Theresa seems to be a life-long student of the writing of Margery Kempe, a woman of the middle ages who wrote (actually dictated) the story of her life, visions and pilgrimages in what some consider to be the first autobiography. Theresa didn't intend to spend most of her adult life working on her dissertation, but that is just how things have worked out so far. She has a job as a copywriter for a local candle company, but she still tells herself that she is going to finish her dissertation. Eventually.

Can I just say, I love this set up. I was hooked from the start. Maybe I'm just a geek, but how can anyone NOT love the set up to this book? 

Theresa is determined to help her brother Jeff stay out of prison for a murder she is sure he didn't commit. Her investigation leads her to some unusual people and situations. I admired her dedication to her brother. Their relationship is close and so much fun to read about. 

This was one of those books that I read in pretty much one sitting. I can quite happily recommend this one to everyone. Although, you will have to get your own copy, because I am not sharing -- I may need to read it again.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Endangered Blog Tour and Review

Endangered by Jean Love Cush
Publication date: July 1, 2014 by Amistad
Source: publisher via TLC Book Tours for an honest review
To save her son from a legal system bent on sending African American men to jail, a young mother agrees to an unprecedented, controversial defense offered up from a team of crack lawyers, in this debut novel that speaks to race, class, and justice in America.
Janae Williams, a never-missed-a-day-of-work single mother, has devoted her whole life to properly raising her son. From the time Malik could walk, Janae taught him that the best way to stay alive and out of trouble with the law was to cooperate. Terrified for his safety, she warned him to “raise your hands high, keep your mouth shut, and do whatever they say” if stopped by the police. But when a wave of murders hits Philadelphia and fifteen-year-old Malik is arrested, Janae’s terror is compounded by guilt and doubt: Would Malik be in jail if he had run?

Blocked at every turn from seeing her son, Janae is also unable to afford adequate legal representation. In steps the well-meaning Roger Whitford, a lawyer who wants to use Malik’s case to upend the entire criminal justice system. Janae simply wants her son free, but Roger, with the help of an ambitious private attorney, is determined to expose the system’s hostility toward black boys.

Offering a startling and unprecedented defense, the lawyers spark a national firestorm of debate over race, prison, and politics. As Janae battles to save her son, she begins to discover that she is also fighting for her own survival and that of the future of her community.

My Take:
This book, Endangered, peaked my interest because of it's timely and important topic.  I opened the book -- just to get a peek, since I was reading two other books at the time. I hadn't meant to be drawn in -- I just wanted to take a look at how it started. Well, the best laid plans and all that. . . I was hooked after the first page. The other books had to wait.

This is a compelling novel about a difficult and important problem. The novel tells the story of Malik, a young black boy who is arrested and charged with a murder that he didn't commit. His mother, Janae, is a young, single mom who has worked long and hard to provide for Malik and herself - and is just barely managing to do so. So, of course, she is unable to afford a lawyer and must use a public defender. This doesn't bode well for Malik. His story is so common, no one even seems to notice. . . until Roger Whitford steps in and makes an unexpected offer which could change Malik's and Janae's lives.

Endangered brings the very real problems of our legal system to light and examines many of the symptoms and causes of our social problems, particularly as they pertain to young black males. 

I really enjoyed this book even though the subject matter is upsetting and unfair. I found myself completely immersed in the story. I found Janae to be a very sympathetic and dynamic character. Even though the love interest in the book may seem to distract from the main premise, I was happy to see Janae expand her horizons and start looking at her own well-being and happiness as well as her son's. I can happily recommend this book to anyone. In fact, I gave it to my daughter to read next. 

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Jean Love CushAbout Jean Love Cush

A native of Philadelphia, Jean Love Cush worked for the Philadelphia district attorney’s office directly out of law school before spending three years as a family law attorney helping low-income women escape domestic-abuse situations. After moving to Fort Wayne, Indiana, she hosted a weekly radio show called A View from Summit, where she covered such topics as public safety, urban violence, and inner-city education. Cush now lives in Illinois with her husband and two children.

Find out more about Jean at her website and connect with her on Facebook and Twitter.

Jean’s Tour Stops

Tuesday, July 1st: Turn the Page
Wednesday, July 2nd: Chaotic Compendiums
Thursday, July 3rd: A Book Geek
Monday, July 7th: Joyfully Retired
Tuesday, July 8th: Literally Jen
Wednesday, July 9th: FictionZeal
Thursday, July 10th: Books on the Table
Monday, July 14th: Between the Covers
Tuesday, July 15th: A Tale of This Newlywed
Wednesday, July 16th: The Most Happy Reader
Thursday, July 17th: Veronica M.D.
Monday, July 21st: Priscilla and Her Books
Tuesday, July 22nd: Giraffe Days
Wednesday, July 23rd: The many thoughts of a reader
Thursday, July 24th: Queen of All She Reads

TBD: Back Porchervations

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Baudelaire's Revenge Blog tour and review

Baudelaire's Revenge by Bob Van Laerhoven
Publication date: April 15, 2014 by Pegasus Books
Source: Publisher via Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours for an honest review

It is 1870, and Paris is in turmoil.
As the social and political turbulence of the Franco-Prussian War roils the city, workers starve to death while aristocrats seek refuge in orgies and seances. The Parisians are trapped like rats in their beautiful city but a series of gruesome murders captures their fascination and distracts them from the realities of war. The killer leaves lines from the recently deceased Charles Baudelaire’s controversial anthology Les Fleurs du Mal on each corpse, written in the poet’s exact handwriting. Commissioner Lefevre, a lover of poetry and a veteran of the Algerian war, is on the case, and his investigation is a thrilling, intoxicating journey into the sinister side of human nature, bringing to mind the brooding and tense atmosphere of Patrick Susskind’s Perfume. Did Baudelaire rise from the grave? Did he truly die in the first place? The plot dramatically appears to extend as far as the court of the Emperor Napoleon III.
A vivid, intelligent, and intense historical crime novel that offers up some shocking revelations about sexual mores in 19th century France, this superb mystery illuminates the shadow life of one of the greatest names in poetry.

My Take:
How to describe Baudelaire's Revenge by Bob Van Laerhoven? Let's start by saying that this isn't your average, garden-variety mystery novel. This is something quite different. Van Laerhoven has created a deeply dark, foreboding, squalid, deceptive and completely unfriendly vision of Paris in 1870.This is not a place you would want to walk around in during the day, much less at night - which is when much of the story takes place. But the thing is, the descriptions are such that it is almost impossible to stop reading. This dark story did draw me in -- with dread and foreboding, but I continued on.

I found none of the characters to be all that empathetic and certainly not trustworthy - and yet, I was compelled to continue reading. Unreliable narrators abound in this tale. It became quite an interesting experience - wondering if I would ever find out the truth. And then, whose truth would it be? 

While it seems a little unfair to drag Baudelaire into the mire that is this Paris, since he did such a wonderful job of that all on his own, I have to admit that his poetry is a perfect fit for the atmosphere of this book. 

Baudelaire's Revenge presents a dark and grim vision of the world and of humanity. I can't say that everyone would enjoy it, but if you like very dark, gothic mysteries, this may be what you are looking for. Be warned, there is explicit content. I found the book to be dark and disturbing, but ultimately, the mysteries kept me glued to the book to the end.

About the Author

Bob Van Laerhoven became a full-time author in 1991 and has written more than thirty books in Holland and Belgium. The context of his stories isn’t invented behind his desk, rather it is rooted in personal experience. As a freelance travel writer, for example, he explored conflicts and trouble-spots across the globe from the early 1990s to 2005. Echoes of his experiences on the road also trickle through in his novels. Somalia, Liberia, Sudan, Gaza, Iran, Iraq, Myanmar… to name but a few.
During the Bosnian war, Van Laerhoven spent part of 1992 in the besieged city of Sarajevo. Three years later he was working for MSF – Doctors without frontiers – in the Bosnian city of Tuzla during the NATO bombings. At that moment the refugees arrived from the Muslim enclave of Srebrenica. Van Laerhoven was the first writer from the Low Countries to be given the chance to speak to the refugees. His conversations resulted in a travel book: Srebrenica. Getuigen van massamoord – Srebrenica. Testimony to a Mass Murder. The book denounces the rape and torture of the Muslim population of this Bosnian-Serbian enclave and is based on first-hand testimonies. He also concludes that mass murders took place, an idea that was questioned at the time but later proven accurate.
All these experiences contribute to Bob Van Laerhoven’s rich and commendable oeuvre, an oeuvre that typifies him as the versatile author of novels, travel stories, books for young adults, theatre pieces, biographies, poetry, non-fiction, letters, columns, articles… He is also a prize-winning author:  in 2007 he won the Hercule Poirot Prize for best thriller of the year with his novel De Wraak van Baudelaire – Baudelaire’s Revenge.

For more information please visit Bob Van Laerhoven’s website. You can also connect with him on Facebookand Twitter.

Virtual Book Tour Schedule

Monday, June 9
Review at Book Nerd

Tuesday, June 10
Review at Ageless Pages Reviews

Thursday, June 12
Review & Giveaway at Words & Peace

Monday, June 16
Review at Oh, For the Hook of a Book

Tuesday, June 17
Interview at Oh, For the Hook of a Book

Wednesday, June 18
Guest Post & Giveaway at Historical Fiction Connection

Thursday, June 19
Review at A Bookish Girl

Review at Turning the Pages

Friday, June 20
Interview & Giveaway at A Bookish Girl

Monday, June 23
Review at Flashlight Commentary

Interview at Layered Pages

Tuesday, June 24
Interview at Flashlight Commentary

Wednesday, June 25
Review & Giveaway at 100 Pages a Day

Thursday, June 26
Review at A Book Geek

Review at The Lit Bitch

Friday, June 27
Review at A Bibliotaph’s Reviews

Monday, June 30
Review at Reading the Past

Tuesday, July 1
Review & Giveaway at A Bookish Affair

Wednesday, July 2
Review at Layers of Thought

Spotlight & Giveaway at Books and Movies

Thursday, July 3
Review at Impressions in Ink

Review, Interview, and Giveaway at Mina’s Bookshelf
Feature & Giveaway at bookworm2bookworm’s Blog

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Rich Kids of Instagram

Rich Kids of Instagram by The Creator of Rich Kids of Instagram with Maya Sloan
Publication date: July 8, 2014 by Gallery Books
Source: NetGalley
Description from Goodreads:
Based on the wildly popular blog "Rich Kids of Instagram," a dishy and hilarious novel about the intersecting lives of the world's most extravagant, unapologetically uber-rich teenagers.

The "Rich Kids of Instagram" are not your typical well-to-do brats. These "kids" drive Ferraris, fly to their weekend getaways in private jets, and post self-indulgent photos of themselves online as frequently—and as wantonly—as they blow wads of cash. Not to mention that they're more involved in sex, drugs, and power plays than most people twice their age.

Drawing from the ten most frequent contributors to the popular blog of the same name—which receives an average of 850,000 unique visitors a month and has been featured on 20/20, The New York Times, The Washington Post, Forbes, The Atlantic, Buzzfeed, Gawker, and others—Rich Kids of Instagram revolves around a core group of spoiled young people, from a Southern Belle poultry-empire heiress to a media mogul's driven daughter and an old-money rifle heir with a Mayflower legacy; to a nouveau riche outsider who is thrust into the members-only universe of the .1%, with scandalous results.

In a world that is smaller, more connected, and more competitive than ever, where nothing is off limits, some kids are just trying to make a buck—or ten thousand. Prepare to be wowed by this saucy, compulsively readable book about the hilarious display of extravagant wealth and the teenagers who have fallen into it.

My Take:
This was a completely self-indulgent read - one chosen to offset some much darker and heavier reading I had been doing before. 

So, given the reason for the choice of books, I have to say that is served it's purpose quite well. Rich Kids of Instagram is light, fast, and fun. I won't claim that it has a difficult plot to follow or that it is terribly deep or thoughtful. But it is fun and entertaining if you enjoy light fare and the guilty pleasure of reading about the escapades of the young, rich and spoiled.

There are several points of view and their stories do intertwine and the characters interact. Some of the characters are more appealing than others, but there are some that I did enjoy reading about. 

I liked their spunk, their confidence and their firm belief that things would eventually work out. Because with their kind of money, how could things not work out, right?

Purchase Rich Kids of Instagram

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Murder by Misrule Book Blast

HF Virtual Book Tours proudly presents Anna Castle's Blog Tour & Book Blast for Murder by Misrule, the first book in her Francis Bacon Mystery Series. Please join her as she tours the blogosphere from June 2 - July 4.

02_Murder by Misrule Cover
Publication Date: June 8, 2014 Formats: Ebook, Paperback

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A Kirkus Indie Books of the Month Selection for July.

Francis Bacon is charged with investigating the murder of a fellow barrister at Gray's Inn. He recruits his unwanted protégé Thomas Clarady to do the tiresome legwork. The son of a privateer, Clarady will do anything to climb the Elizabethan social ladder. Bacon's powerful uncle Lord Burghley suspects Catholic conspirators of the crime, but other motives quickly emerge. Rival barristers contend for the murdered man's legal honors and wealthy clients. Highly-placed courtiers are implicated as the investigation reaches from Whitehall to the London streets. Bacon does the thinking; Clarady does the fencing. Everyone has something up his pinked and padded sleeve. Even the brilliant Francis Bacon is at a loss — and in danger — until he sees through the disguises of the season of Misrule.

The Francis Bacon Mystery Series

This series of historical mysteries features the philosopher-statesman Francis Bacon as a sleuth and spymaster. Since Francis prefers the comfort of his own chambers, like his spiritual descendent Nero Wolfe, he sends his pupil, the handsome young Thomas Clarady, out to gather information. Tom loves the work, not least because he meets so many interesting people, like Lord Burghley, Sir Walter Raleigh, and Christopher Marlowe. Murder by Misrule is the first book in the series.

Praise for Murder by Misrule

"Though the plot keeps the pages turning, the characters, major and minor, and the well-wrought historical details will make readers want to linger in the 16th century. A laugh-out-loud mystery that will delight fans of the genre." - Kirkus Starred Review

"Murder by Misrule is a delightful debut with characters that leap off the page, especially the brilliant if unwilling detective Francis Bacon and his street smart man Tom Clarady. Elizabeth Tudor rules, but Anna Castle triumphs." - Karen Harper, author of Mistress Shakespeare

"Well-researched... Murder by Misrule is also enormously entertaining; a mystery shot through with a series of misadventures, misunderstandings, and mendacity worthy of a Shakespearean comedy." - M. Louisa Locke, author of Bloody Lessons

“Historical mystery readers take note: Murder by Misrule is a wonderful example of Elizabethan times brought to life.” — D. Donovan, eBook Reviewer, Midwest Book Review

Buy the Book

Barnes & Noble

About the Author

03_Anna CastleAnna Castle has been a waitress, software engineer, documentary linguist, college professor, and digital archivist. Historical fiction combines her lifelong love of stories and learning. She physically resides in Austin, Texas, and mentally counts herself a queen of infinite space.

For more information please visit Anna Castle's website and blog. You can also follow her on Facebook and Twitter.

Virtual Book Tour Schedule

Monday, June 2
Review at Flashlight Commentary
Book Blast at Mari Reads

Tuesday, June 3
Interview at Flashlight Commentary
Guest Post at Historical Fiction Connection

Wednesday, June 4
Book Blast at The Musings of ALMYBNENR

Thursday, June 5
Book Blast at Our Wolves Den

Friday, June 6
Review at Book Nerd
Book Blast at The Mad Reviewer
Book Blast at A Dream Within a Dream

Saturday, June 7
Book Blast at Kelsey's Book Corner

Sunday, June 8
Review at Carole's Ramblings

Monday, June 9
Review at Ageless Pages Reviews

Tuesday, June 10
Book Blast at West Metro Mommy

Wednesday, June 11
Review at Oh, For the Hook of a Book
Book Blast at Literary Chanteuse

Thursday, June 12
Review at Curling Up By the Fire

Friday, June 13
Book Blast at Cheryl's Book Nook

Monday, June 16
Book Blast at Closed the Cover
Book Blast at To Read or Not to Read

Tuesday, June 17
Review & Giveaway at 100 Pages a Day
Book Blast at A Book Geek

Wednesday, June 18
Book Blast at CelticLady's Reviews

Thursday, June 19
Review at Bibliotica
Book Blast at Historical Fiction Obsession

Friday, June 20
Review at A Bibliotaph's Reviews
Interview at All Things Girl

Saturday, June 21
Book Blast at Griperang's Bookmarks

Monday, June 23
Review, Guest Post, and Giveaway at A Bookish Affair
Interview at Jorie Loves a Story
Book Blast at So Many Books, So Little Time

Tuesday, June 24
Review at Jorie Loves a Story

Wednesday, June 25
Book Blast at Susan Heim on Writing

Thursday, June 26
Review at A Bookish Girl
Review at Layered Pages
Review at Kinx's Book Nook

Friday, June 27
Book Blast at Caroline Wilson Writes

Monday, June 30
Book Blast at Historical Tapestry

Tuesday, July 1
Interview at Starting Fresh

Wednesday, July 2
Review at Kincavel Korner

Thursday, July 3
Review & Giveaway at The True Book Addict
Guest Post & Giveaway at Bibliophilia, Please

Friday, July 4
Review at Svetlana's Reads and Views

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Thursday, June 12, 2014

The Last Original Wife

The Last Original Wife by Dorothea Benton Frank
Publication date: June 11, 2013 by William Morrow
Source: Publisher for an honest review
Description from Goodreads:
Leslie Anne Greene Carter is the last original wife among her husband's group of cronies. They've all traded in their first wives-the middle-aged women they long ago promised to love and cherish 'til death did them part-for riper peaches: younger . . . blonder . . . more enhanced models.

Leslie is proud of her status and the longevity of her marriage. Sure the spark isn't quite as bright and sometimes takes a little longer to flame. And it wouldn't be too much to ask if her husband paid just an itty bit more attention to her desires. But there's something to be said for a comfortable and deeply familiar relationship. Or at least she thinks until the day, out golfing with her husband and his friends, she slips into a manhole. And nobody realizes that she's gone.

That one misstep opens Leslie's eyes to the sham her perfect life has become. No longer will she be invisible. No longer will she accept being taken for granted. With the healing powers of South Carolina's lush white beaches, candy-colored sunsets, and fiesty and funny residents, Leslie is going to transform herself and reclaim the strong, vibrant, sexy woman she was meant to be.

The Last Original Wife is classic Dorothea Benton Frank: an intoxicating tale of friendship and love that is as refreshing as a soothing breeze across a golden lowcountry marsh and as invigorating as a dip in cool, salty waters on a sizzling South Carolina summer day.

My Take:

Maybe I read The Last Original Wife at just the right time, but I found it to be just the perfect summer read. I have been reading some grim stuff lately and this was exactly what I needed to read.

Leslie is such a fun character - she is smart, sophisticated, and not ashamed of her age. She is the much put-upon wife and mother who goes about her life doing for others -- until a completely crazy event knocks her out of her normal view of her life. I mean falling into a manhole is upsetting - but for it to happen while in a foreign country, while doing normal touristy things and to have your husband not even notice -- and then get upset because he almost missed his tee time ----  that is just not okay. That would spur anyone to re-examine their life.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book -- it is light, fun, the descriptions of southern life are beautiful, and for once, the female character does exactly what she wants and doesn't let her family dictate her actions. I can't wait to read more books by Dorothea Benton Frank. 

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Wednesday, June 11, 2014

The Qualities of Wood blog tour and review

The Qualities of Wood by Mary Vensel White
Publication date: June 17, 2014 by Authonomy/Harper Collins
Source: publisher via TLC Book Tours for an honest review
When Betty Gardiner dies, leaving behind an unkempt country home, her grandson and his young wife take a break from city life to prepare the house for sale. Nowell Gardiner leaves first to begin work on his second mystery novel. By the time his wife Vivian joins him, a real mystery has begun: a local girl has been found dead in the woods behind the house. Even after the death is ruled an accident, Vivian can’t forget the girl, can’t ignore the strange behavior of her neighbors, or her husband. As Vivian attempts to put the house in order, all around her things begin to fall apart.

My Take:
The way The Qualities of Wood begins, it really feels like it is setting up a suspenseful, thrilling page-turner of a mystery; however, the book is actually more literary and more of a character study than a mystery or thriller.  And that is not a bad thing. 

I admit I was expecting a thriller, but I wasn't disappointed by the book, really. I enjoyed how Vivian experiences the grandmother's house and finds out the news of the suspicious death in the woods behind the house. This sets up what seems like a murder mystery, but isn't really. The story shows how small towns can seem secretive and a little peculiar to outsiders. Everyone knows everything about everyone else, but to a newcomer, it can all seem much more sinister than it actually is. White handles this aspect of the story nicely as well as the charms of country/small town life. 

While the story touches on aspects of living in a small community, the main focus of the novel turns out to be on relationships. White examines the relationships between Vivian, Nowell, and his troublesome brother Lonnie and his new wife. Despite descriptions by Vivian of how nice and sweet tempered Nowell is, the reader doesn't see much of evidence of this. Vivian makes a lot of excuses for his temper and secretiveness saying that it must be the writer in him. It felt to me more like she was trying to convince herself. 

Even though the novel doesn't turn out to be a big murder mystery/thriller, I did enjoy the way White demonstrates just how little we can ever actually know another person. She does this by having Vivian make assumptions about various characters and situations and then she learns just how wrong those assumptions can be. 

This was a nice read and I actually enjoyed the journey that Vivian takes to learn a few things about herself, her marriage and about that often asked question of just how well can one person really know another person. 

About Mary Vensel White

Mary Vensel White was born in LA and graduated from the University of Denver. She lived in Chicago for 5 years where she received her MA at DePaul University. Her short fiction has appeared in The Wisconsin Review and Foothilles Literary Journal. This is her first novel.
Find out more about Mary at her website, connect with her on Facebook, and follow her on Twitter.

Bookstore Events

Live in Southern California? Mary is visiting a bookstore near you!
Tuesday, June 17th at 7pm
Barnes & Noble in Irvine, CA
13712 Jamboree Road
Irvine, CA 92602
Saturday, June 21st at 4pm
Vromans Bookstore in Pasadena, CA
695 E. Colorado Blvd
Pasadena, CA 91101

Mary’s Tour Stops

Wednesday, May 21st: The Ludic Reader
Thursday, May 22nd: Every Free Chance Book Reviews
Friday, May 23rd: BooksAreTheNewBlack
Monday, May 26th: Reader Her Like an Open Book
Tuesday, May 27th: Chaotic Compendiums
Wednesday, May 28th: Sincerely Stacie
Thursday, May 29th: Literary Lindsey
Monday, June 2nd: Books on the Table
Tuesday, June 3rd: Patricia’s Wisdom
Tuesday, June 10th: Mel’s Shelves
Wednesday, June 11th: A Book Geek

Thursday, June 12th: Karen’s Korner

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