Monday, July 27, 2015

Newport (428x648)

Newport by Jill Morrow
Paperback: 384 pages
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks (July 7, 2015)
Source: Publisher via TLC Book Tours for an honest review

Description:
In a glamorous Newport mansion filled with secrets, a debonair lawyer must separate truth from deception. . . .

Spring 1921. The Great War is over, Prohibition is in full swing, the Great Depression is still years away. Wealthy families flock to the glittering "summer cottages" they built in Newport, Rhode Island.

Having sheltered in Newport during his misspent youth, attorney Adrian de la Noye is no stranger to the city. Though he'd prefer to forget the place, he returns to revise the will of a well-heeled client. Bennett Chapman's offspring have the usual concerns about their father's much-younger fiancée. But when they learn of the old widower's firm belief that his late first wife, who "communicates" via séance, has chosen the stunning Catharine Walsh for him, they're shocked. And for Adrian, encountering Catharine in the last place he saw her decades ago proves to be a far greater surprise.

Adrian is here to handle a will, and he intends to do so—just as soon as he unearths every last secret about the Chapmans, Catharine Walsh . . . and his own very fraught history.

Vividly bringing to life the glitzy era of the 1920s, Newport is a skillful alchemy of social satire, dark humor, and finely drawn characters.

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My Take:

Newport by Jill Morrow was such a pleasant surprise --- I loved the description of the book and the time period in which it takes place -- but I had no idea it would be so much fun! I read the book in a single day - and it was a day very well spent.

Newport is definitely one of those books that I don't want to give very much away because the discovery and the reveal are so much fun and I'd hate to ruin the fun for other readers. There is so much to like about Newport - there is a bit of paranormal activity - including some seances, there are a few mysteries to be unraveled, and some misspent youth type flashbacks just to name a few things. 

I really enjoyed the attention to the huge disparity between the very rich and those people who work for them.Without giving too much away, there is a great aspect to the story that deals with this issue and how it has long lasting repercussions on peoples' lives. 

I really liked Adrian and Jim and their friendship and working relationship. I was actually very curious to learn more about both of these men. I wasn't sure how I felt about Catherine through most of the book, but towards the end, I had a much better sense of what type of person she was. I won't spoil it though. I loved the ending of the book, but I do hope there will be more about these characters.

All I can say is: "Read Newport." I really enjoyed this book and will be strongly recommending it to my friends. I am hoping that Jill Morrow will write about the further adventures of Jim, Adrian and Catherine -- or more about their pasts. Either way, I would totally read it. 





Jill MorrowAbout Jill Morrow

Jill Morrow has enjoyed a wide spectrum of careers, from practicing law to singing with local bands. She holds a bachelor's degree in history from Towson University and a JD from the University of Baltimore School of Law. She lives in Baltimore.

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



Jill’s Tour Stops

Tuesday, July 7th: BookNAround
Wednesday, July 8th: A Chick Who Reads
Friday, July 10th: West Metro Mommy
Monday, July 13th: The many thoughts of a reader
Tuesday, July 14th: From the TBR Pile
Wednesday, July 15th: A Bookish Way of Life
Thursday, July 16th: Walking With Nora
Friday, July 17th: View from the Birdhouse
Saturday, July 18th: Luxury Reading
Monday, July 20th: The Book Binder’s Daughter
Tuesday, July 21st: Raven Haired Girl
Thursday, July 23rd: FictionZeal
Friday, July 24th: Staircase Wit
Monday, July 27th: A Book Geek




Friday, July 24, 2015

The Medici Boy Review

The Medici Boy by John L'Heureux
Publication date: April 1, 2014 by Astor + Blue
Genre: Historical Fiction
Source: Publisher for an honest review
Description:

The worlds of art, politics and passion collide in John L’Heureux’s masterful new novel, The Medici Boy. With rich composition, L’Heureux ingeniously transports the reader to Donatello’s Renaissance Italy—directly into his bottega, (workshop), as witnessed through the eyes of Luca Mattei, a devoted assistant. While creating his famous bronze of David and Goliath, Donatello’s passion for his enormously beautiful model and part time rent boy, Agnolo, ignites a dangerous jealousy that ultimately leads to Agnolo’s brutal murder. Luca, the complex and conflicted assistant, will sacrifice all to save the life of Donatello, even if it means the life of the master sculptor’s friend and great patron of art, Cosimo de’ Medici. John L’Heureux’s long-awaited novel delivers both a monumental and intimate narrative of the creative genius, Donatello, at the height of his powers. With incisive detail, L’Heureux beautifully renders the master sculptor’s forbidden homosexual passions, and the artistry that enthralled the powerful and highly competitive Medici and Albizzi families. The finished work is a sumptuously detailed historical novel that entertains while it delves deeply into both the sacred and the profane within one of the Italian Renaissance’s most consequential cities, fifteenth century Florence.

My Take:

The Medici Boy by John L'Heureux is an interesting book for a number of reasons. Despite the title, the boy referenced is not a Medici, but a particularly beautiful model that Donatello uses as inspiration for several of his artworks. He is also a foster brother of sorts to Donatello's assistant, Luca. The novel is told from Luca's point of view and provides the reader with his own opinions of the model Agnolo and his lifestyle as well as details about his own life and life in Florence.

The Medici Boy is a detailed look at the artistic scene and lifestyle in Florence during the Renaissance.  I was fascinated with the historical detail included in the novel. There is also a lot of attention paid to the sexual exploits of Agnolo and Donatello and the political atmosphere and how it played a role in the events in the story.  I was fascinated with the detailed explanations given about the production of the amazing pieces of art referenced in the novel and did a fair amount of Googling to look at photos of the pieces. 

The Medici Boy might be a good choice for those adult readers who enjoy historical fiction - particularly historical fiction about the Italian Renaissance and artists.











Thursday, July 23, 2015

Killing Secrets Blog Tour and Review

Killing Secrets by Dianne Emley
Publication date: July 21, 2015 by Alibi
Pages: 277
Format:Ebook
Genre: Mystery
Source: Publisher via TLC Book Tours for an honest review  (Netgalley)

Description:
For fans of Patricia Cornwell, Tana French, and Lisa Gardner comes a razor-sharp novel of suspense featuring Detective Nan Vining—a single mother whose worlds collide when her teenage daughter stumbles upon a grisly double homicide.
When she gets the call, Nan Vining responds as a mother first and a detective second. Her daughter, Emily, has made a gruesome discovery in a secluded section of a Pasadena park: a pretty, popular young teacher from Emily’s high school and a bright yet troubled transfer student—both dead and bloody in a copse of trees. But the crime scene isn’t the only thing that seems off to Detective Vining. There’s also the cocky classmate who was with Emily in the park—the boyfriend she never knew about. What else doesn’t she know about her daughter?
As she attempts to channel both her maternal and investigative instincts into one single point of focus, Vining’s superiors at the Pasadena Police Department are moving at lightning speed. Before the evidence has even been processed, the case is closed as a clear-cut murder/suicide: a disturbed teenager murders his teacher, then takes his own life. Vining doesn’t buy it. Now she’s chasing dangerous, powerful people with secrets they would kill for—and taking them down means risking her own flesh and blood.

My Take:

Unfortunately I haven't read any other books by Dianne Emley, and I am seriously wondering why that is the case. I will certainly be seeking out the other Nan Vining novels as soon as I can. Killing Secrets was a fast-paced, breath-holding mystery novel with an intelligent, independent heroine who doesn't need a man to rescue her or solve the case for her. 

Barely a full page into the novel, and I was hooked. I was immediately intrigued by several things - who killed the teacher and student, why where they killed and what was going on with Nan's daughter? As a parent to two teens and a twenty year old, I am always interested in how parent/teen relationships are portrayed in novels. I liked that there were family things that had to be addressed alongside the work that Nan does. I am also intrigued by the hints of her past and I am looking forward to reading the previous novels since she seems to have quite the interesting and difficult life.

Killing Secrets was a fast read -- the pacing is great and I couldn't put the book down until I had finished the last page.. There is a lot going on and I was fascinated at how Nan went about solving the case despite the fact that her superiors have quickly closed the case. I was happy to see that instead of the guy being the one prepared for anything and ready to take off at a moment's notice to follow through on the investigation, it was Nan who was the one with her bag packed and a plan in place.

I would strongly recommend Killing Secrets to anyone who likes a good mystery/crime novel - especially one with a strong, intelligent female lead character. I look forward to reading more Nan Vining novels in the near future.



Praise for the novels of Dianne Emley
The Night Visitor grabbed my attention on page one and never let up. It’s a creepy, crafty thrill ride, and I enjoyed every word. I’ll be looking for more of Dianne Emley’s books.”—Karen Robards
“A taut, gripping paranormal thriller from page one. You won’t be able to put this book down as Rory—a woman who has everything—fears all she believes is a lie. Excellent!”—Allison Brennan, on The Night Visitor
“Emley masterfully twists, turns, and shocks.”—Tess Gerritsen, on Love Kills

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Purchase Links

Amazon | Books-A-Million | Barnes & Noble




68935About Dianne Emley

Dianne Emley is the bestselling author of The Night Visitor and the Nan Vining series: The First Cut, Cut to the Quick, The Deepest Cut, and Love Kills. A Los Angeles native, she lives in the Central California wine country with her husband, Charlie.

Connect with Dianne

Website | Facebook | Twitter


Dianne Emley’s TLC Book Tours TOUR STOPS:

Monday, July 20th: I Wish I Lived in a Library
Tuesday, July 21st: Bell, Book & Candle
Wednesday, July 22nd: Buried Under Books
Thursday, July 23rd: A Book Geek
Thursday, July 23rd: Open Book Society
Monday, July 27th: Book Babe
Tuesday, July 28th: Kay’s Reading Life
Wednesday, July 29th: FictionZeal
Monday, August 3rd: From the TBR Pile
Tuesday, August 4th: Bewitched Bookworms
Thursday, August 6th: The Novel Life
Monday, August 10th: Peeking Between the Pages
Wednesday, August 12th: Patricia’s Wisdom
Thursday, August 13th: Bibliotica





Thursday, July 16, 2015

Alchemy's Daughter Blog Tour and Giveaway

Alchemy's Daughter by Mary A. Osborne
Publication date: May 15, 2015 by Lake Street Press
Genre: Historical Fiction/ Young Adult
Pages: 280
Source: Publisher via Italy Book Tours


Description:

Santina Pietra is seventeen and in medieval San Gimignano, daughters of merchants are expected to marry. But Santina cares only for Calandrino, a brilliant young scholar who is preoccupied with his ancient alchemical texts. 

Soon Santina meets Trotula, the village midwife, who might or might not be a strega, or witch. Trotula challenges her to forget Calandrino and become the woman she is meant to be. Some say she is a victim of the midwife’s spell, but Santina is determined to follow in Trotula’s footsteps even as calamities strike.

The setting is 14th century Italy, yet in Santina contemporary readers will discover a strong-minded young woman whose search for meaning echoes their own. Alchemy’s Daughter is the author’s second novel.

My Take:


I love to read books about midwives and healers, so I was excited to read Alchemy's Daughter. I was unaware that there is another book by Mary A. Osborne, but I will be seeking it out in the near future.


At the beginning of the book, Santina is just lovesick  and can't really think of much beyond Calandrino. I was worried that this was going to be constant throughout the book, but after Calandrino leaves, she does turn her focus on the many things that Trotula is able to teach her.  Santina is an avid student and is a fast learner, but she lacks the patience that Trotula is trying to teach her. Santina is anxious to learn everything and will learn some hard lessons because of her lack of patience.


I really loved that there is so much attention given to the daily work, the details of daily life for Santina and Trotula and the other residents of the area. As with so many of these learned women, there are people who are suspicious and look for reasons to make accusations. I thought the author did a great job of showing the way people think and react to the unknown and what they can't explain. I also appreciated that the author set the story firmly in the historical period with plenty of historical detail which helped to make the story more authentic.


Santina works hard and tries to do what is right, but she does make mistakes - as we all do. Some of these mistakes or decisions have difficult repercussions, but Santina does her best to be strong and survive in a harsh world. 


I hate to give anything away because I really enjoyed this book and I want others to be able to come to it with no preconceived expectations. There is tragedy, heartbreak, love, support, so much learning and there are some really wonderful surprises as well. There were some plot twists that I was not expecting and I loved the way the book ended.  I will be handing Alchemy's Daughter to my daughters to read,  and that is pretty much the best recommendation I can give it.  







Author's Bio:

Mary A. Osborne is the multiple award-winning author of Alchemy's Daughter and Nonna’s Book of Mysteries. A graduate of Rush University and Knox College, where she was mentored in the Creative Writing Program, Ms. Osborne is a registered nurse and holds degrees in chemistry and nursing. Her freelance work has appeared in publications such as Hektoen International, Newcity, and the Examiner.com. Ms. Osborne lives in Chicago.

Connect with Mary: Website  ~  Facebook  ~  Twitter




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Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Maud's Line Blog Tour and Review

02_Maud's Line_CoverPlease join Margaret Verble as she tours with HF Virtual Book Tours for Maud's Line, from July 13-24. 


Publication Date: July 14, 2015 Houghton Mifflin Harcourt 
Formats: eBook, Hardcover 
ISBN-10: 0544470192 
Pages: 304 
Genre: Historical Fiction


   

 A debut novel chronicling the life and loves of a headstrong, earthy, and magnetic heroine

Eastern Oklahoma, 1928. Eighteen-year-old Maud Nail lives with her rogue father and sensitive brother on one of the allotments parceled out by the U.S. Government to the Cherokees when their land was confiscated for Oklahoma's statehood. Maud's days are filled with hard work and simple pleasures, but often marked by violence and tragedy, a fact that she accepts with determined practicality. Her prospects for a better life are slim, but when a newcomer with good looks and books rides down her section line, she takes notice. Soon she finds herself facing a series of high-stakes decisions that will determine her future and those of her loved ones.

Maud's Line is accessible, sensuous, and vivid. It will sit on the bookshelf alongside novels by Jim Harrison, Louise Erdrich, Sherman Alexie, and other beloved chroniclers of the American West and its people.


My Take:

I was happy to read Maud's Line for a few reasons. I grew up in Oklahoma and my family has been there since before statehood so I was curious to read about life in rural Oklahoma in the 1920's. I found the descriptions of the land, weather, people and the way of life to be compelling and they seem to match stories I have heard from family members. 

I loved that Maud was an avid reader and could relate to her desire to get away from the home place and experience the bigger world outside of her family's land allotment. I really enjoyed the casual but dependable way her family moved in and out of each others homes and lives. They saw each other often and took care of each other, but they were still pretty well able to do their own thing without too much comment. I really enjoyed this aspect of the novel.

Maud's relationship with men, however, was much more troubling. She falls hard for a travelling peddler named Booker who is also a white man. But Billy, is part of the Cherokee nation like Maud, local and has serious ideas about what their relationship should be.  Maud's choice would have been easy if events hadn't occurred that forced her to make choices that could be detrimental to her relationship with Booker. I did like that despite the fact that her father brings much of the troubles on the family, Maud doesn't hesitate to take whatever action she feels is necessary to keep her family safe.

I thought that Verble did a good job of showing the difficulty and complexity of the Native Americans living on their allotments and the reality of politics and local law enforcement. She brings out the hard choices Maud is forced to make and how differently she and Booker view things. I don't know that Maud made all the right decisions, but she did the best she could in a difficult situation.

The thing that bothered me the most was that despite the effort her family put into keeping something safe for her and the strong and wise advice they gave her regarding it, she immediately went out and did exactly what they warned her against. I'm not sure she was wrong, but it just didn't sit well with me.

However, I did enjoy Maud's Line very much and would happily recommend it - especially to anyone interested in Oklahoma History.




PRAISE FOR MAUD'S LINE

"Maud is refreshingly open and honest about her own sexuality though conscious of her place as a woman in a sexist society, always careful not to insult the intelligence or manhood of her male friends and relations. Verble writes in a simple style that matches the hardscrabble setting and plainspoken characters. Verble, herself a member of the Cherokee Nation, tells a compelling story peopled with flawed yet sympathetic characters, sharing insights into Cherokee society on the parcels of land allotted to them after the Trail of Tears." -Kirkus

"Writing as though Daniel Woodrell nods over one shoulder and the spirit of Willa Cather over the other, Margaret Verble gives us Maud, a gun-toting, book-loving, dream-chasing young woman whose often agonizing dilemmas can only be countered by sheer strength of heart." - Malcolm Brooks, author of Painted Horses

"I want to live with Maud in a little farm in a little valley under the shadow of a mountain wall. Maud's Line is an absolutely wonderful novel and Margaret Verble can drop you from great heights and still easily pick you up. I will read anything she writes, with enthusiasm." -Jim Harrison, author of Dalva, Legends of the Fall, and The Big Seven

"Margaret Verble gives us a gorgeous window onto the Cherokee world in Oklahoma, 1927. Verble's voice is utterly authentic, tender and funny, vivid and smart, and she creates a living community - the Nail family, Maud herself, her father, Mustard, and brother, Lovely, and the brothers Blue and Early, the quiet, tender-mouthed mare Leaf, and the big landscape of the bottoms - the land given to the Cherokees after the Trail of Tears. Beyond the allotments, it opens up into the wild, which is more or less what Verble does with this narrative. A wonderful debut novel." - Roxana Robinson, author of Sparta

03_Margaret Verble


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

MARGARET VERBLE, an enrolled member of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma, has set her novel on her family's allotment land. She currently lives in Lexington, Kentucky, and Old Windsor, England.



BLOG TOUR SCHEDULE

Monday, July 13
Review & Giveaway at Broken Teepee

Tuesday, July 14
Guest Post at Mina's Bookshelf
Spotlight at A Literary Vacation

Wednesday, July 15
Review at A Book Geek

Thursday, July 16
Review at Beth's Book Nook Blog

Friday, July 17
Excerpt & Giveaway at Teddy Rose Book Review Plus More

Saturday, July 18
Review at Queen of All She Reads

Monday, July 20
Review at Book Nerd

Tuesday, July 21
Guest Post at Just One More Chapter

Wednesday, July 22
Interview & Excerpt at The Old Shelter
Excerpt & Giveaway at CelticLady's Reviews

Thursday, July 23
Review & Giveaway at Unshelfish
Spotlight at Layered Pages

Friday, July 24
Spotlight & Giveaway at Passages to the Past


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Monday, July 6, 2015

An Immortal Descent Release Day Blitz

02_An Immortal Descent

ABookGeek is very excited to participate in the Release Day Blitz for Kari Edgren's third book in the Goddess Born series, An Immortal Descent!




Publication Date: July 6, 2015 
Publisher: Carina Press 
eBook; ASIN: B00XCYM8XS 
Series: Goddess Born, Book Three 
Genre: Historical/Fantasy/Romance


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As a goddess-born healer, Selah Kilbrid wants nothing to do with the goddess of death and disease, nor any of her human progeny. But when the two people she loves most disappear - her dearest friend Nora Goodwin and her betrothed Lord Henry Fitzalan - Selah has no choice but to leave London in pursuit of Death's most powerful daughter.

Accompanied by a ragtag group of travelers, Selah follows a treacherous path across the Irish Sea to the long-forgotten prison of a witch who once nearly destroyed Ireland. Selah would face any danger to protect those she loves, but what if it means unleashing a greater evil on the human world? Could she risk the lives of many to save a few, or are some sacrifices too great?


An Immortal Descent Available at

Amazon 
Barnes & Noble 
iTunes


About the Author

03_Kari EdgrenKari Edgren is the author of the Goddess Born series. In 2010 and 2011 she was a semifinalist for the Amazon Break Through Novel Award. In 2013, she was a RWA Golden Heart finalist. Ms. Edgren enjoys writing both historical and contemporary fiction, so long as there's a paranormal twist. She resides on a mountain top in the Pacific Northwest where she spends a great deal of time dreaming about the sun and torturing her husband and children with strange food and random historical facts.

For more information please visit Kari Edgren's website. You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.

Sign up for Kari Edgren's Newsletter.







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Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Orphans, Assassins & the Existential Eggplant Book Blast

Orphans, Assassins, and the Existential Eggplant
ABookGeek is happy to participate in the Book Blast for Orphans, Assassins & the Existential Eggplant by J.T. Gillett.

Publication Date: February 19, 2015 
Publisher: Homunculus Press 
Formats: Kindle eBook, Paperback 
ISBN-13: 978-0692391662 
Pages: 279
Genre: Historical Fiction

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 Orphans, Assassins and the Existential Eggplant explores the quirky side of historical fiction. The novel takes you on wild ride through the early 13th century with a female alchemist, orphan teenager and a 600-year-old, shrunken eggplant that can speak to whomever wears it. In search of the fabled Lost Stone of Eden, they cross Europe and the Mediterranean with the Children's Crusade, hijack a caravan in the Sahara desert, live with hashish-fueled Assassins in the mountains of Persia and rediscover paradise on the island of Bahrain.


Excerpt

Aaron and the girls slept for a few hours during the hottest part of the day, then rode through the evening and the entire night, taking only a few breaks to rest the camels. They didn?t catch up to any slow-moving caravans, come upon an oasis or see fires in the night. Everything around them seemed the same, day after day. Same mirrored sky. Same scorching sun. Same sound of camel farting and plodding. Same sad, ivory scent of emptiness.

 "Are we dead?" asked Donatelle as they shared the last of the water. They were sitting atop a tall dune and could see nothing but more dunes in every direction.

 "Do you feel dead"? Aaron had to ask, knowing that in the middle of this terminal landscape, it was a good question.

"I can't tell because I don't know what it's like to be dead, but it might be like this. Just nothing," Donatelle shrugged.

"Death is much different-and much luckier," guessed the eggplant.

 Aaron hoped the eggplant was right, but he chose a different answer for Donatelle. "Whenever I'm not sure, I listen for my heartbeat. The pounding inside me says I'm alive in this world and even though we're in a dead place, we'll survive. We'll find something soon, or something will find us."

Something took the form of a humming dark cloud on the horizon. They watched as it grew darker, stretched across the dunes and started to roar like steady, rolling thunder.

Praise for Orphans, Assassins and the Existential Eggplant

"Good stories rise and fall like empires in the endless pursuit of happiness, like armies of lovers marching to paradise - good stories change the world." So begins Part One of Orphans, Assassins and the Existential Eggplant. This book is such a good read. I read it on the plane to Hawaii, and it soared with me through the sky. My wife kept asking what was so funny as I giggled and laughed in my seat. This story changed me, in that flying is such a drag these days, and this book kept coming up with surprises, weaving together stories of gods, goddesses, orphans and assassins, the pursuit of the unattainable, and existential conundrums.

I have had the opportunity to read some of Mr Gillett's poetry (especially "This is My Last Poem" - I hope this is not his last novel), and in this novel, he brings his poetic ability to sublimely transport the reader to new views of the mundane, new opportunities for transformation, and new ways of understanding my own self. What more could I ask for in a book.

Steal this book if you need to, but get it and read it with joy." - Paul Rerucha, Amazon Reviewer

"I don't read a ton of books for pleasure but I did read this one on the recommendation of a friend. It kept me captivated and I ended up finishing it in 2.5 days. This is the kind of book that makes me want to read more often." - B. H., Amazon Reviewer

Orphans, Assassins and the Existential Eggplant Available at Amazon

Kindle 
eBook
Paperback

About the Author

J.T Gillett holds degrees in philosophy and journalism from the University of Oregon and studied at Naropa Institute?s Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics. His stories and poems have appeared in a variety of Literary Journals, including City Lights Journal, edited by Lawrence Ferlinghetti. For more information please visit the Orphans and Assassins website and blog.

Orphans, Assassins and the Existential Eggplant Book Blast Schedule

Monday, June 22
Passages to the Past

Tuesday, June 23
100 Pages a Day
Queen of All She Reads

Wednesday, June 24
Unshelfish
To Read, Or Not to Read

Thursday, June 25
Boom Baby Reviews

Friday, June 26
Book Nerd
What Is That Book About

Saturday, June 28
Diana's Book Reviews

Sunday, June 29
The Never-Ending Book

Tuesday, June 30
A Book Geek
CelticLady's Reviews

Wednesday, July 1
Room With Books

Thursday, July 2
Just One More Chapter

Friday, July 3
Thoughts From an Evil Overlord


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Monday, June 29, 2015

Odin's Child Blog Tour and Review

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Odin's Child by Bruce MacBain
Publication Date: May 26, 2015 Blank Slate Press Formats: eBook, Trade Paperback 
Pages: 400 
Genre: Historical Fiction

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 Driven from the flaming ruin of his Iceland farmhouse, young Odd Tangle-Hair, the only survivor of a feud in which his family is slaughtered, steals a ship, rounds up a rag-tag crew and embarks on the Viking life. He swears one day to return, rich and powerful enough to take vengeance on his enemies. But how far off that day seems!

 His father, Black Thorvald, had once been a chieftain in Iceland. But in the year 1000, when the country adopted Christianity, Thorvald denounced the new faith and shut himself up in his hall, shunning the world and shunned by it. Odd fears that the worm of cowardice that unmanned his father has infected him too. He has inherited from Thorvald a shock of black hair, a gift for poetry, and an allegiance to Odin, god of battles and magic. But Odd is heir to darker traits as well - a hint of madness and a temper which will sometimes cost him dearly.

 Fate carries him and his men to a shamanistic healer in Lapland, to bloody religious strife in Norway, to the lair of a witch in Finland, and finally to the borders of Russia. Here Odd will leave his comrades behind to join the retinue of a Norwegian princeling who is fleeing to the court of Yaroslav, Grand Prince of Rus. New dangers wait for him in that faraway country.

 Eager, curious, quick-witted-and sometimes wrong-headed-Odd Tangle-Hair recounts his story with candor, insight, and always an ironic sense of humor.



My Take:

I hardly know where to begin expressing my appreciation of Odin's Child by Bruce MacBain. The story-telling is quite masterful - I was caught up in Odd's tale from the start -- and it is quite a tale! The attention to historical detail is admirable and I really appreciated that Odd actually acted like a sixteen year old - impulsive with wild leaps in emotions and the inability to think about the long-term ramifications of his actions. He eventually does mature and grows into his role as leader of men, but the path is arduous.

I also liked the attention spent on the conflicts caused by the conversion of many of his countrymen to Christianity --- this is a catalyst for much conflict and the confusion about what entails a deity is expressed well in the novel.  I loved the many adventures that Odd and his rag-tag group fell into --- despite the violence and deprivation --- this tale is wild and adventurous and reminded me of many of the classic tales. Unlike some of the classics, there is no vagueness regarding the extreme violence of such a life.

Odin's Child is definitely worth a read --- and  I am looking forward to the next book in Odd's adventures -- and there are hints that they will be every bit as thrilling and death defying as this one. I hate to give too many details about the book because I want readers to gasp in fear/horror and hold their breath in anticipation of what will happen next just like I did. I hold out hope that Odd will gain in wisdom and will live up to his potential in subsequent books. I would recommend Odin's Child to anyone who enjoys wild adventures, historical fiction, particularly fiction dealing with the Vikings.

Odin's Child Available at

Amazon 
Barnes & Noble 
Books-a-Million 
IndieBound

Praise for Odin's Child

"Meticulous research and poetic writing make Odin's Child a multilayered masterpiece...It brings medieval Scandinavia vividly alive. Written with passion, peopled with superbly realized characters, I was gripped from the very first page of this historical novel." -Carol McGrath, author of The Handfasted Wife and The Swan-Daughter

"[Macbain's] writing is vivid and compelling, and his understanding of Norse and Icelandic culture and history is woven deftly throughout the tale. The cast of characters is well-fleshed out and Odd makes for a wonderful protagonist. I thoroughly enjoyed this novel, and I eagerly await its sequel. Highly recommended." -Historical Novels Review, Editor's Choice


Excerpt from Chapter 1: The Stallion Fight At Thingholt

On that day in May, as we rode to the stallion fight at Thingholt, my fate showed itself to me. A raven flew low across the sky into the rising sun and the moment I saw it I knew that Odin had spoken to me and that he would give me courage for the thing I had secretly made up my mind to do. Only now, half a century later, do I see what a long text was folded into that swift vision.

The spring of my sixteenth year had come early to the South Quarter of Iceland, with hot-cold days and thunderclouds sweeping up over the mountains. The stallions, smelling the air, trembled and kicked against their stalls. At this season if you stake out a mare where the stallions can smell her, they will fight like berserkers to get at her, and a great one will die before he breaks and runs.

Black Grani was such a one. This was his fourth spring and the time had come to bring him to the South Quarter Thing and fight him. Thorvald, my father, grumbled and held back, but I gave him no peace, until, at last, he flung up an arm, which meant 'yes'.

Although my brother Gunnar and I had set out early from the farm, the day was far gone before we came in sight of Thingholt plain and heard the distant shouts of men and the whinnying of horses. We left Grani and our mounts at the horse lines and walked across the sparse heath into the holiday crowd. And as we pushed our way through, there were some who knew us. A few old men came up and in low voices asked to be remembered to our father. But one red-faced woman, seeing us, cried, "Jesu!" and dragged her little daughter from our path.

About the Author

03_Bruce Macbain_AuthorFrom boyhood, Bruce Macbain spent his days in reading history and historical fiction. The Greeks and Romans have held a special fascination for him and this led to earning a master's degree in Classical Studies and a doctorate in Ancient History. Along the way, he also taught English as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Borneo. Later, he taught courses in Greek and Roman civilization at Vanderbilt University and Boston University, and published a few dense scholarly monographs, read by very few. Recently, he has turned to writing fiction, a much more congenial pursuit. He has previously published two historical mysteries set in ancient Rome, Roman Games and its sequel, The Bull Slayer. Now, he has turned his attention to his other favorite folk, the Vikings. Odin's Child is the first novel of a trilogy, Odd Tangle-Hair's Saga, which follows our hero-a wanderer, poet and warrior-from his tiny Iceland farm to the Great Palace in Constantinople. It will be published by Blank Slate Press in May, 2015.

 Bruce spends his spare time in the kitchen, cooking spicy food.

For more information please visit Bruce Macbain's website. You can also follow him on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and Goodreads.

Odin's Child Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, June 29
Review at A Book Geek
Interview at Shelf Full of Books
Spotlight & Giveaway at Unshelfish

Tuesday, June 30
Interview at Brooke Blogs

Wednesday, July 1
Review at Book Nerd

Friday, July 3
Spotlight at Layered Pages
Spotlight & Giveaway at Teddy Rose Book Reviews Plus More

Monday, July 6
Interview at A Literary Vacation

Tuesday, July 7
Spotlight & Giveaway at Passages to the Past

Wednesday, July 8
Spotlight at CelticLady's Reviews

Thursday, July 9
Review at Bookramblings

Friday, July 10
Review at Just One More Chapter


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Roman Mask Release Day Blitz

Large copy of Cover
ABookGeek is happy to participate in the Release Day Blitz for Roman Mask by Thomas Brooke.

Publication Date: June 29, 2015  - CreateSpace Formats: Kindle & Paperback 
Pages: 388 
Genre: Historical Fiction/Adventure/Action 

What is it we normally expect of the leading character in our books? Self-sacrifice? Bravery? Strength of character? Possibly with a hint of self-deprecation? Well, Cassius doesn't have any of those. Cynicism ? yes. Cowardice ? possibly. Prepared to live a lie in order to further his own ends ? absolutely!

 It is Rome AD 9 and Augustus Caesar rules Imperial Rome at the height of its power, as the Roman Empire stretches across the known world. Cassius, son of one of her most powerful families, is the personification of Rome's imperial strength: wealthy, popular, a war hero with a decorated military career. None of Rome's fashionable parties are complete without him.

But he hides a secret.

 After his nerve is broken in Germany, even the thought of genuine armed combat is enough to send him into a cold sweat. But this doesn't dissuade him from living off a false reputation so he can continue a life of womanising, wine and wild parties, as he is seduced by the many vices of Rome. However, his scandalous life is interrupted by a summons from the emperor?s wife. It ends his happy decadent life and returns him to Germany to assist the Roman legions in their greatest ever trial. The events will resound through history, in the dark forests of the Teutoburg . . .

I have researched the calamitous history of the doomed legions that marched into the Teutoburg Forest in AD 9, using a wide range of historical sources including the classical works of Tacitus and the more recent archaeological findings of the early 1990s in Kalkriese. I have put my complicated hero, who clearly suffers from the post-traumatic stress of his last encounter with the German tribes, at the centre of the events that rocked Rome to its foundations. How can a man, so flawed in so many respects, possibly impact on these terrible events? By his humanity, by coming to terms with his flaws, and learning to stop hating himself for them. It is a tale of betrayal and hardship, but also personal redemption.

Roman Mask Available At

Amazon US
Amazon UK 
Amazon DE

TomAbout the Author

Thomas Brooke lives in London where he works in the exciting, and sometimes crazy, fashion world. He is also a committed writer and he spends as much time as he can in his beloved Northumbrian hills, where up until recently could be seen walking with his black Labrador Fergus, who sadly passed in January 2015. Fergus was a constant companion to the writing of the novel and prevented many writers'  tantrums. Roman Mask is Thomas Brooke's second novel, although'this will be the first available for sale. As well as writing novels, he also writes a blog on both historical and fantasy genre novels.

 For more information on Thomas M D Brooke, visit www.thomasmdbrooke.com and www.romanmask.com. You can also find him on Twitter, Google+, and Pinterest.


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Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Hotel Moscow Blog Tour and Review

Hotel MoscowHotel Moscow by Talia Carner
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks (June 2, 2015)
Paperback: 464 pages
Source: Publisher via TLC Book Tours for an honest review
Description:

From the author of Jerusalem Maiden comes a mesmerizing, thought-provoking novel that tells the riveting story of an American woman—the daughter of Holocaust survivors—who travels to Russia shortly after the fall of communism, and finds herself embroiled in a perilous mafia conspiracy that could irrevocably destroy her life.

Brooke Fielding, a thirty-eight year old New York investment manager and daughter of Jewish Holocaust survivors, finds her life suddenly upended in late September 1993 when her job is unexpectedly put in jeopardy. Brooke accepts an invitation to join a friend on a mission to Moscow to teach entrepreneurial skills to Russian business women, which will also give her a chance to gain expertise in the new, vast emerging Russian market. Though excited by the opportunity to save her job and be one of the first Americans to visit Russia after the fall of communism, she also wonders what awaits her in the country that persecuted her mother just a generation ago.

Inspired by the women she meets, Brooke becomes committed to helping them investigate the crime that threatens their businesses. But as the uprising of the Russian parliament against President Boris Yeltsin turns Moscow into a volatile war zone, Brooke will find that her involvement comes at a high cost. For in a city where “capitalism” is still a dirty word, where neighbors spy on neighbors and the new economy is in the hands of a few dangerous men, nothing Brooke does goes unnoticed—and a mistake in her past may now compromise her future.

A moving, poignant, and rich novel, Hotel Moscow is an eye-opening portrait of post-communist Russia and a profound exploration of faith, family, and heritage.


My Take:
Since I grew up during the Cold War and have always been fascinated with the Soviet Union and Russian history, Hotel Moscow seemed like a perfect read for me. I was immediately pulled into Brooke's quest to help the women of Russia learn business skills that could help them in their new economy. Unfortunately, Brooke and most of the women who went on the mission were a bit naive and very unprepared for the situation that awaited them in the former Soviet Union.

I really appreciated that Brooke decides to go to Russia for several reasons - there is certainly a desire to help the women of Russia, but there is also a big incentive to put herself in a better position to keep her job and to get a jump on the new emerging market in Russia. The conflicting emotions and motivations made the story real and made Brooke a much more interesting character than some of the other Americans with her.

There is so much about Hotel Moscow that I loved, but I hate to give too much away. I loved the details of the hotel itself - what a nightmare that place was! So different from what most Americans expect from a hotel when they travel. I was consistently upset by the prevalence of the mafia everywhere the group went, but appreciated that the author didn't try to sugarcoat the situation.

The bleak situation for the Russian people - and the women in particular -  is another upsetting, but very educational aspect to the book. I found myself quite distressed while reading certain sections of the book, but found myself pulled along in Brooke's mission to help these women fight for what was right. Two of the Russian women who really stand out in the novel are Olga and Svetlana. Each has difficulties to deal with on a daily basis, but each is willing to do whatever is necessary to survive.

Honestly, there were many characters that stick in my head - some for good reasons and some for bad reasons. I think that is one of the hallmarks of a good book -- I feel strongly about the characters - whether I hate them or admire them.  There is much in Hotel Moscow that would appeal to many different readers. I would definitely recommend it to anyone who is interested in modern Russian history, economy, or politics. I also think it should appeal to general fiction readers as well.




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Talia CarnerAbout Talia Carner

Talia Carner is the former publisher of Savvy Woman magazine and a lecturer at international women's economic forums. This is her fourth novel. Visit Talia at her website, taliacarner.com. You can also connect with her on Facebook and Twitter.






Talia’s Tour Stops

Tuesday, June 2nd: Svetlana’s Reads and Views
Wednesday, June 3rd: Dwell in Possibility
Thursday, June 4th: Raven Haired Girl
Friday, June 5th: Charmingly Modern
Monday, June 8th: No More Grumpy Bookseller
Tuesday, June 9th: A Utah Mom’s Life
Wednesday, June 10th: As I turn the pages
Monday, June 15th: Lavish Bookshelf
Wednesday, June 17th: Sharon’s Garden of Book Reviews
Monday, June 22nd: Bibliotica
Tuesday, June 23rd: Mel’s Shelves
Wednesday, June 24th: A Book Geek
Thursday, June 25th: Good Girl Gone Redneck
Thursday, June 25th: Doing Dewey
Friday, June 26th: Kritters Ramblings
Monday, June 29th: Book Dilettante