Friday, October 31, 2014

Guest article by D.J. Donaldson on the Ebola situation

I have read and really enjoyed two of D.J. Donaldson's books: Louisiana Fever and Sleeping with the Crawfish., so when the opportunity to post a guest article about the current ebola situation was presented to me, I was happy to agree. I found his article to be very interesting, and informative. I hope you agree. 



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Outbreak… Breakdown
A Forensic/Medical Author’s Take on Ebola and the CDC

My book, Louisiana Fever, involves the spread of a bleeding disease known as Crimean Congo hemorrhagic fever. This is a real disease that, like its close relative, Ebola, is caused by an infectious virus.  And having researched this thoroughly (and having come from a forensic/health background) I feel compelled to weigh in on the Ebola outbreak.

When I was plotting Louisiana Fever, I figured I ought to have a character in the book that was once an infectious disease specialist at the CDC.  It seemed like a logical idea because the CDC is this country’s unquestioned champion against virulent organisms, an organization staffed with experts that know every nuance of tropical viruses and how they can be controlled.

To make sure my writing about the CDC would have an authentic ring to it, I asked the public relations office of the CDC if I might be given a tour of the place.  “Sorry,” I was told.  “We don’t give tours.”  Considering how many dangerous viruses are stored in the various labs there, that seemed like a good policy, even to me.  So there would be no tour.  But then I heard from someone in my department at the U. of Tennessee Medical Center that one of our former graduate students now worked at the CDC.  I began to wonder if this connection might work to my advantage. 

And it certainly did.  The former student was now a virology section chief. A SECTION CHIEF…. Holy cow! This could be my way in.  But would the man be generous by nature and sympathetic to writers?  He proved to be both of those.

On the day of my visit, I reported to the security office as instructed.  There, I had to wait until my host came to escort me into the bowels of the place… no wandering around on my own with a visitor’s badge.  That day I saw the hot zone in action and spoke with experts in many fields of virology, even spent some time with the world expert on porcine retroviruses.  At the end of my visit—including all the cumbersome clinical protocols I had to engage in both before and during said visit—I not only left feeling more educated, but actually more safe and secure that no tropical virus would ever be a threat to this country… not with the meticulous, detail-oriented, security conscious, microbe fighters at the CDC watching out for us.      

So, it’s with much regret and… yes, even a little fear, that I witnessed the head of the CDC recently assuring us that the Ebola virus is very difficult to transmit and that we know exactly how to control it.  Instead of (what looked like) his clumsy attempts to soothe an ignorant and paranoid public, the CDC head should have given a blunt assessment, educated everyone like adults, and encouraged them to exercise precaution. Then, seemingly in answer, two nurses who cared for the index patient from Liberia become Ebola positive.  And the CDC clears one of those nurses to take a commercial airline flight, even though she was in the early stages of Ebola infection…depressing.  From a medical professional standpoint, this was practically criminal negligence. At present, the disease is not transmitted by air ("airborne"), but any scientist worth his/her salt cannot account for mutations the virus may undergo.  This is why the job of the CDC is to contain harmful microbes, issue protocols to protect the public against them and ultimately eradicate them... period.  It is not to be PR professionals for television cameras and fostering carelessness.

I’m still convinced that the combined knowledge and brainpower of the CDC staff will be a major impediment to any virus taking over this country.  But Ebola probably has some tricks we haven’t seen yet. That means we may lose a few more battles before we can declare that this particular threat is behind us.

Meanwhile, how is development of that Ebola vaccine coming?


D.J. Donaldson is a retired professor of Anatomy and Neurobiology at the University of Tennessee, Health Science Center—where he taught and published dozens of papers on wound-healing and other health issues.  He is the author of Louisiana Fever, one of the seven in the Andy Broussard/Kit Franklyn series of forensic mystery thrillers.

Louisiana Fever:  http://bit.ly/1u5ohGC

Thursday, October 30, 2014

The Murders at Astaire Castle Book Blitz




We're happy to be hosting Lauren Carr and her THE MURDERS AT ASTAIRE CASTLE Book Blitz today!


Title: Married One Night
Author: Amber Leigh Williams
Publisher: Harlequin Superromance
Pages: 384
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Format: Paperback/Kindle
Purchase at AMAZON
- See more at: http://theliterarynook.blogspot.com/#sthash.phdOBY3i.dpu

Title: The Murders at Astaire Castle
Author: Lauren Carr
Publisher: Acorn Book Services
Pages: 286
Genre: Mystery
Format: Paperback/Kindle
Purchase at AMAZON

Mac Faraday Meets the Wolf Man!


Never tell Mac Faraday not to do something.
In The Murders at Astaire Castle, Spencer’s police chief, David O’Callaghan, learns this lesson the hard way when he orders Mac Faraday to stay away from the south end of Spencer’s mountaintop—even though he owns the property. It doesn’t take long for Mac to find out what lies on the other side of the stone wall and locked gate, on which hangs a sign warning visitors to Keep Out!
Topping the list of the ten most haunted places in America, Astaire Castle is associated with two suicides, three mysterious disappearances, and four murders since it was built almost a century ago—and Mac Faraday owns it!
In spite of David’s warning, Mac can’t resist unlocking the gate to see the castle that supposedly hasn’t seen a living soul since his late mother had ordered it closed up after the double homicide and disappearance of Damian Wagner, a world-famous master of horror novels.
“Halloween has always been a fun time,” best-selling author Lauren Carr explains in a note at the beginning of her fifth Mac Faraday mystery. “It’s the time to break out and be someone else. As a child, I would pretend to be one of the Bobbsey Twins searching for clues to lead me to a secret treasure. If I was lucky, it was made up of chocolate. As a teenager, I was Nancy Drew. Always, when October rolled around, I craved mysteries with something extra added—something beyond the normal—something supernatural. As an author, I couldn’t resist taking this one Mac Faraday Mystery on a scary Halloween adventure.”
In this latest installment of Carr’s hit series, what starts out as a quick tour of a dusty old castle turns into another Mac Faraday adventure when Astaire Castle becomes the scene of even more murders. Mac is going to need to put all of his investigative talents to work to sort out this case that involves the strangest characters he has run into yet—including a wolf man. No, we’re not talking about Gnarly.



Book Excerpt:

Prologue


November 2002 – Astaire Castle, top of Spencer Mountain, Deep Creek Lake, Maryland
Shivering, Rafaela turned up the fan for the heater in her old Plymouth. The weather channel was calling for snow. With an eye on the storm clouds heading straight for Spencer Mountain, she picked up the speed a notch. Her car bumped along the worn road cut through the trees and rock to take her to Astaire Castle.
The notion of being trapped at the castle by a winter storm made her curse the day she had accepted the job as housekeeper at the Astaire estate. The young illegal immigrant thought her prayers had been answered by landing the job at the luxurious estate. Not only was it prestigious to work in a castle, but lucrative since Damian Wagner was paying almost twice her normal hourly wage.
What a gem to put on my housekeeping resume! To be hire by only one of the world’s most famous authors of horror books—even more famous than Robin Spencer—to clean an honest-to-goodness castle. So what if the Astaire Castle has a reputation of being haunted? I’ll be making a bundle for cleaning five days a week in the daylight. Besides, I don’t believe in no ghosts.
Rafaela regretted her decision the first time she walked into Astaire Castle.
At first, she dismissed her cleaning supplies moving from where she had left them as forgetfulness.  Then there was the time she kept hearing someone whispering her name. She had looked around, but never saw anyone. Same with doors closing or opening or footsteps coming up behind her, and the old-time music and party noises in empty rooms when no one was there—she tried to tell herself that it was all her imagination.
None of that was anything compared to the Wolf Man who she had seen in the dining room mirror while she was cleaning it.
She had heard all about the Wolf Man who lived in the woods surrounding Astaire Castle. The woman with two teenagers who lived in the apartment next to hers was quick to tell her about him. Rafaela had dismissed it all as ghost stories made up by her neighbor’s kids to scare her—until she had seen him with her own two eyes.
That day she ran out of the castle. She returned only after Genevieve, Damian Wagner’s daughter, had promised that her father finish his book and be moving out of the castle by the end of the year—at which time he would pay her a handsome bonus that would give her enough money to visit her family in Brazil for Christmas.
Rafaela caught her breath when her Plymouth entered through the gate at the end of the road to pull into the front courtyard and fountain.
The fountain was off. Damian Wagner had never bothered to turn it on. He wouldn’t notice if it was. He spent his time banging away on his computer in the study on the top floor. He wouldn’t eat if it weren’t for his daughter bringing food to him.
Then there was the editor—Mr. Jansen.
He reminded Rafaela of a bird with his bony frame, high cheekbones over a pointy chin, and thick eyeglasses with his blinking eyes magnified behind them. He sounded like a squawking bird with his high-pitched voice no matter what his mood or what he was saying. Ready to pounce in anticipation of any need from Damian Wagner, he was always lurking nearby.
Damian’s daughter, Genevieve, was as charming as beautiful. She often asked Rafaela about her family in Brazil and about her life in Deep Creek Lake.  For the new immigrant to America, Rafaela felt as if she was making a friend who would give her good references for more housekeeping jobs in the resort town of Spencer—more millionaire estates to clean—estates that weren’t haunted.
Rafaela pulled her car around the circular drive and parked at the bottom of the steep steps that led to the front door. When she got out of her car, the wind howled and whipped her long dark hair around her head. The wind actually seemed to want to rip her thin coat off her body. Grabbing her box of cleaning supplies, she squared her shoulders, and sucked up her nerve to go inside.
Need to make this quick. They don’t have enough money to make me stay here during that storm.
The wind yanked the heavy wooden door from her grasp to slam it against the side of the house.
“Stupid door!” Rafaela set the box inside the foyer and went outside to grab the door and pull it shut. “Mr. Wagner! Mr. Jansen! Genevieve! It’s me, Rafaela! Hope I’m not disturbing you.” She picked up the box and made her way through the foyer.
“Raf-aela …”
She stopped. With wide eyes, she peered up the staircase to the second floor balcony. “Is that you, Mr. Wagner?” She paused to listen. “Genevieve?”
“Get out. Now.”
Has to be my imagination. She reassured herself. “There’s no such thing as ghosts. There’s no such thing as ghosts,” she muttered over and over to herself while hurrying to the back of the castle.
“I don’t suppose you had any trick-or-treaters last night, did you?” she called out to ease her nerves with the sound of her own voice. “Not up here I suppose.”
She waited for an answer. She heard footsteps on the floor up above.
The smell of burnt meat came to her nose. It smelled like steak that had been left on the grill for too long.
They must have grilled steaks last night.
“Lots of little children stopped by my apartment.” Feeling braver as she rattled on, Rafaela set the box of cleaning supplies on the kitchen table and gathered together her duster and furniture polish.
Best to start in the living room. The antiques, wood, and silver takes the longest.
Admiring the decades-old priceless china encased in the china closet, she went through the dining room. With her cleaning lady’s eye, she gauged what needed to be addressed on this visit that she may have missed before. She stopped when the blotch of red on the doorframe through the kitchen caught her eye.
What’s that? Catsup?
It wasn’t until she spotted a spot on the floor that she first considered that it wasn’t a condiment, but something much more sinister.  She spotted another. Bigger this time … and another.
There was a red pool in front of the kitchen door that opened out onto the back patio and deck that projected out over the rocks to provide a massive view of the valley down below. All of the drops and splatters and pools led to the common source—the fire pit outside.
She saw the flames and smoke wafting in the wind whipping around her where she stood in the open doorway. She stared at the blackened objects in the pit. What at first appeared to be a burnt log projecting out of the flames took shape.
The hand and fingers reached out to her.
The index finger was pointing at her.
Through the rapid beating of her heart, Rafaela could hear the footsteps behind her coming closer.
“Get out!”
His image was reflected in the glass pane of the door. The wild hair. The crazed eyes.
It’s the Wolf Man!


Watch the Trailer!


About the Author:


Lauren Carr is the best-selling author of the Mac Faraday Mysteries, which takes place in Deep Creek Lake, Maryland. Twelve to Murder is the seventh installment in the Mac Faraday Mystery series.

In addition to her series set on Deep Creek Lake, Lauren Carr has also written the Lovers in Crime Mysteries, which features prosecutor Joshua Thornton with homicide detective Cameron Gates, who were introduced in Shades of Murder, the third book in the Mac Faraday Mysteries. They also make an appearance in The Lady Who Cried Murder.

Lauren launched the Lovers in Crime (first introduced in Shades of Murder) mystery series in September 2012 with Dead on Ice.

The owner of Acorn Book Services, Lauren is also a publishing manager, consultant, editor, cover and layout designer, and marketing agent for independent authors. This year, several books, over a variety of genre, written by independent authors will be released through the management of Acorn Book Services, which is currently accepting submissions. Visit Acorn Book Services website for more information.

Lauren is a popular speaker who has made appearances at schools, youth groups, and on author panels at conventions. She also passes on what she has learned in her years of writing and publishing by conducting workshops and teaching in community education classes.

She lives with her husband, son, and three dogs on a mountain in Harpers Ferry, WV.
For More Information
 Giveaway!

Lauren is giving away one paperback copy, two ebook copies and three audiobooks of THE MURDERS AT ASTAIRE CASTLE!


Terms & Conditions:
  • By entering the giveaway, you are confirming you are at least 18 years old.
  • Six winners will be chosen via Rafflecopter.
  • This giveaway begins October 6 and ends October 31.
  • Winners will be contacted via email on Monday, November 3.
  • Winner has 48 hours to reply.
Good luck everyone!

ENTER TO WIN!

 
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Village of Secrets blog tour and review

Village of Secrets by Caroline Moorehead
Publication date: October 28, 2014 by Harper
Source: Publisher via TLC Book Tours for an honest review
Description:

From the author of the New York Times bestseller A Train in Winter comes the fascinating story of a French village that helped save thousands hunted by the Gestapo during World War II.

High up in the mountains of the southern Massif Central in France lie tiny, remote villages united by a long and particular history. During the Second World War, the inhabitants of Le Chambon-sur-Lignon and its parishes saved thousands wanted by the Gestapo: resisters, Freemasons, communists, and, above all, Jews, many of them orphans whose parents had been deported to concentration camps. There were no informers, no denunciations, and no one broke ranks. During raids, the children would hide in the woods, their packs on their backs, waiting to hear the farmers’ song that told them it was safe to return. After the war, Le Chambon became one of only two places in the world to be honored by Yad Vashem as Righteous Among Nations.

Just why and how Le Chambon and its outlying villages came to save so many people has never fully been told. With unprecedented access to newly opened archives in France, Britain, and Germany, along with interviews documenting the testimony of surviving villagers, Caroline Moorehead paints an inspiring portrait of courage and determination: of what was accomplished when a small group of people banded together to oppose tyranny.

A major contribution to the history of the Second World War, illustrated with black-and-white photographs,Village of Secrets sets the record straight about the events in Chambon and pays tribute to a group of heroic individuals for whom saving others became more important than their own lives.





My Take:

Village of Secrets was a fascinating book. The set up for the main part of the book takes a bit of time to get through, but is necessary and rather interesting in its own right. The book does a wonderful job of describing how the many unique events, circumstances of chance or geography as well as the people involved were necessary for the Chambon to be the seemingly peaceful oasis in the midst of Vichy France.

Of course, it wasn't all peaceful, but for so  many Jewish children to be hidden and/or taken safely across the border to Switzerland over such a long period of time, something pretty extraordinary had to be going on there. But according to the people of the area, they were only behaving as was their moral duty. I found the history of the area and the reclusive Protestant groups living there to be very interesting on their own. But when you add to that all the work and danger of hiding and caring for children who are being hunted by the Gestapo, the clandestine trips to find hiding places, to bring in supplies, move children from safe house to safe house and even to hide in the woods, you have a story that seems more akin to a movie than real life.

While the topic sounds like it could be an historical adventure/espionage novel, the details necessary to explain the complexities and contradictions of the actual events make it a slower read than a novel, naturally, but so worth the time and effort. I was particularly interested in the stories of some of the resistance workers and how they came to the area. Another extremely interesting aspect was how memories of the time were so controversial and contradictory.

This is a fascinating book and I enjoyed it very much. I would recommend Village of Secrets to anyone interested in World War II, Vichy France, Jewish history, or war in general, and the human reaction to such events. I suspect that I will be pondering this book and the people it describes for some time to come.



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About Caroline Morehead

Caroline MoreheadCaroline Moorehead is the New York Times bestselling author of A Train in Winterand Human Cargo: A Journey Among Refugees, which was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. An acclaimed biographer of Martha Gellhorn, Bertrand Russell, and Lucie de la Tour du Pin, among others, Moorehead has also written for the Telegraph, the Times, and the Independent. She lives in London and Italy.

Caroline’s Tour Stops

Wednesday, October 15th: The Year in Books
Thursday, October 16th: nightlyreading
Friday, October 17th: Back Porchervations
Monday, October 20th: Man of La Book
Tuesday, October 21st: Love at First Book
Wednesday, October 22nd: Ace and Hoser Blook
Thursday, October 23rd: JulzReads
Monday, October 27th: Based on a True Story
Tuesday, October 28th: A Book Geek
Wednesday, October 29th: Dwell in Possibility
Thursday, October 30th: Book Addict Katie
Monday, November 3rd: Diary of an Eccentric
Tuesday, November 4th: Books on the Table
Wednesday, November 5th: My Bookshelf
Thursday, November 6th: Svetlana’s Reads and Books
Friday, November 7th: Silver’s Reviews







Monday, October 27, 2014

Palmetto Moon blog tour and review

Palmetto Moon by Kim Boykin
Publication date: August 5, 2014 by Berkley Trade
Source: Publisher via Pump Up your Book for an honest review
Description:
June, 1947. Charleston is poised to celebrate the biggest wedding in high-society history, the joining of two of the oldest families in the city. Except the bride is nowhere to be found…

Unlike the rest of the debs she grew up with, Vada Hadley doesn’t see marrying Justin McLeod as a blessing—she sees it as a life sentence. So when she finds herself one day away from a wedding she doesn’t want, she’s left with no choice but to run away from the future her parents have so carefully planned for her.

In Round O, South Carolina, Vada finds independence in the unexpected friendships she forms at the boarding house where she stays, and a quiet yet fulfilling courtship with the local diner owner, Frank Darling. For the first time in her life, she finally feels like she’s where she’s meant to be. But when her dear friend Darby hunts her down, needing help, Vada will have to confront the life she gave up—and decide where her heart truly belongs.



My Take:

Palmetto Moon by Kim Boykin is a sweet, charming, Southern tale about Vada Hadley, a wealthy southern girl who just can't see herself married to the man her parents have picked for her. And honestly, Justin is really just a rich jerk, so I can't blame Vada for refusing to marry him. Perhaps the method she chose was ill advised, but it leads her to an opportunity for personal growth and love.

Vada is sweet, if naive, and I enjoyed reading her story. But there were several other really interesting and sympathetic characters that I liked just as much as Vada. The pretty young widow with the young boys, Claire Greeley, was one of my favorite characters. She is a kind person and and a loyal friend to Vada.  I was so happy to see where her story line went. Another character I loved was Reggie - I won't give anything away here, but this story line made me very happy indeed.

Vada finds a new man who suits her much better than Justin, but I am not sure that many, if any, marriages in 1947, would actually be quite what she wants - but I applaud her for trying. Vada's new love interest, Frank, tries very hard to be the man she wants him to be and he truly loves her. Of course, with parents like Vada's, things won't go as smoothly as we might like. Will the new love Vada finds last? You will have to read the book to find out.

I found Palmetto Moon to be a quick, fun read. There is romance, friendship, lots of Southern charm and Southern food. I enjoyed reading the book and can happily recommend it to anyone who enjoys a good romance, Southern literature, and historical fiction of a more current era. There are also some delicious looking recipes in the back of the book.





About the Author


Kim Boykin was raised in her South Carolina home with two girly sisters and great parents. She had a happy, boring childhood, which sucks if you’re a writer because you have to create your own crazy. PLUS after you’re published and you’re being interviewed, it’s very appealing when the author actually lived in Crazy Town or somewhere in the general vicinity.


Almost everything she learned about writing, she learned from her grandpa, an oral storyteller, who was a master teacher of pacing and sensory detail. He held court under an old mimosa tree on the family farm, and people used to come from all around to hear him tell stories about growing up in rural Georgia and share his unique take on the world.


As a stay-at-home mom, Kim started writing, grabbing snip-its of time in the car rider line or on the bleachers at swim practice. After her kids left the nest, she started submitting her work, sold her first novel at 53, and has been writing like crazy ever since.


Thanks to the lessons she learned under that mimosa tree, her books are well reviewed and, according to RT Book Reviews, feel like they’re being told across a kitchen table. She is the author of The Wisdom of Hair from Berkley, Steal Me, Cowboy and Sweet Home Carolina from Tule, and Palmetto Moon, also from Berkley 8/5/14. While her heart is always in the Lowcountry of South Carolina, she lives in Charlotte and has a heart for hairstylist, librarians, and book junkies like herself.
For More Information



Thursday, October 23, 2014

Enchantress Spotlight

02_Enchantress

Enchantress by Maggie Anton
Publication Date: September 2, 2014 Plume
Formats: eBook, Paperback
Pages: 400
Series: Rav Hisda's Daughter
Genre: Historical Fiction/Historical Fantasy

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Fantastic tales of demons and the Evil Eye, magical incantations, and powerful attractions abound in Enchantress, a novel that weaves together Talmudic lore, ancient Jewish magic, and a timeless love story set in fourth-century Babylonia.

One of the most powerful practitioners of these mysterious arts is Rav Hisda’s daughter, whose innate awareness allows her to possess the skills men lack. With her husband, Rava--whose arcane knowledge of the secret Torah enables him to create a "man” out of earth and to resurrect another rabbi from death--the two brave an evil sorceress, Ashmedai the Demon King, and even the Angel of Death in their quest to safeguard their people, even while putting their romance at risk.

The author of the acclaimed Rashi’s Daughters series and the award-winning Rav Hisda’s Daughter: Apprentice has conjured literary magic in the land where "abracadabra” originated. Based on five years of research and populated with characters from the Talmud, Enchantress brings a pivotal era of Jewish and Christian history to life from the perspective of a courageous and passionate woman.

Praise for Apprentice (Rav Hisda's Daughter: Book I)


“A lushly detailed look into a fascinatingly unknown time and culture—a tale of Talmud, sorcery, and a most engaging heroine!” —Diana Gabaldon, author of the bestselling Outlander series

Anton, the author of the acclaimed “Rashi’s Daughters” trilogy, has penned her best book to date. Using her extensive knowledge of the Talmud and other historical Jewish writings, she immersed herself in the tractates to uncover a marvelous heroine for this historical novel… Complex discussions of Jewish law and tradition as well as detailed description of the culture and customs of the times enhance truly wonderful storytelling. VERDICT This absorbing novel should be on everyone’s historical fiction reading list." —Library Journal (starred review)

“Fascinating reading await those who dive into the vividly depicted world of Babylonian Jewry … Anton succeeds brilliantly in drawing us into the formative period leading up to the Talmud … what we have is the work of a master craftswoman set upon repairing a major gap in Jewish literature —Philadelphia Jewish Voice

“Rav Hisda’s Daughter provides a wealth of historical detail about Jewish life in Babylon and Israel in the 3rd century CE. It depicts the daily life and coming of age of a prominent rabbi’s daughter rather than propelling its reader through a traditional arc of action with a crisis and resolution. Its interest lies in its portrayal of the sorcery, incantations, and women’s customs in this exotic, faraway period of time and place, sometimes against the backdrop of war.” —Historical Novel Society

Praise for the Rashi's Daughters Trilogy


“Anton delivers a tour de force . . . [Readers] will fly through the pages and come away wishing for more.” –Library Journal (starred review)

“A compelling combination of drama, suspense, and romance.” –Lilith magazine

Buy the Book


Amazon
Barnes & Noble

About the Author


03_Maggie AntonMaggie Anton was born Margaret Antonofsky in Los Angeles, California. Raised in a secular, socialist household, she reached adulthood with little knowledge of her Jewish religion. All that changed when David Parkhurst, who was to become her husband, entered her life, and they both discovered Judaism as adults. That was the start of a lifetime of Jewish education, synagogue involvement, and ritual observance. In 2006, Anton retired from being a clinical chemist in Kaiser Permanente's Biochemical Genetics Laboratory to become a fulltime writer.

In the early 1990's, Anton learned about a women's Talmud class taught by Rachel Adler, now a professor at Hebrew Union College in Los Angeles. She became intrigued with the idea that Rashi, one of the greatest Jewish scholars ever, had no sons, only three daughters. Slowly but surely, she began to research the family and the time in which they lived. Much was written about Rashi, but almost nothing of the daughters, except their names and the names of their husbands. Legend has it that Rashi's daughters were learned in a time when women were traditionally forbidden to study the sacred texts. These forgotten women seemed ripe for rediscovery, and the idea of a trilogy of historical novels about them was born.

After the success of "Rashi's Daughters" Anton started researching the lives of women in 4th-century Babylonia, where the Talmud was being created. Surprised by the prevalence of sorcery among rabbinic families, she wrote "Rav Hisda's Daughter: Bk 1 - Apprentice," which was a 2012 National Jewish Book Award Fiction finalist and a Library Journal pick for Best Historical Fiction.

For more information please visit Maggie Anton's website and blog. You can also connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.

Enchantress Blog Tour Schedule


Monday, October 6
Review at Unshelfish
Review at Book Drunkard

Tuesday, October 7
Review at Ageless Pages Reviews

Wednesday, October 8
Review at A Dream Within a Dream

Thursday, October 8
Guest Post at Bookish

Friday, October 9
Guest Post & Giveaway at Passages to the Past

Monday, October 13
Review at Book Lovers Paradise

Tuesday, October 14
Review at leeanna.me
Spotlight & Giveaway at Words and Peace

Wednesday, October 15
Review at Based on a True Story

Thursday, October 16
Review at Mari Reads

Friday, October 17
Interview at Layered Pages

Tuesday, October 21
Review at History From A Woman's Perspective
Spotlight at CelticLady's Reviews

Wednesday, October 22
Guest Post at History From A Woman's Perspective

Thursday, October 23
Review at Layered Pages
Spotlight at A Book Geek

Friday, October 24
Review at Beth's Book Reviews
Interview at Mina's Bookshelf

Saturday, October 25
Review & Interview at A Cup of Tea & A Big Book

Monday, October 27
Review at TeacherWriter

Tuesday, October 28
Review at My Book Addiction and More
Spotlight at Historical Tapestry

Wednesday, October 29
Review at A Bookish Affair

Thursday, October 30
Review at Book Nerd

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Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Sleep in Peace Tonight Excerpt post

I am happy to participate in the blog tour for the new book by James MacManus, Sleep in Peace Tonight. I previously reviewed his book Black Venus and quite enjoyed it. Please enjoy the excerpt.



Sleep in Peace Tonight by James MacManus

Publication date: October 7, 2014 by Thomas Dunne Books

Description:

It’s January 1941, and the Blitz is devastating England. Food supplies are low, Tube stations in London have become bomb shelters, and U-boats have hampered any hope of easy victory. Though the United States maintains its isolationist position, Churchill knows that England is finished without the aid of its powerful ally.

Harry Hopkins, President Roosevelt’s most trusted adviser, is sent to London as his emissary, and there he falls under the spell of Churchill’s commanding rhetoric---and legendary drinking habits. As he experiences life in a country under attack, Hopkins questions the United States’ silence in the war. But back home FDR is paranoid about the isolationist lobby, and even Hopkins is having trouble convincing him to support the war.

As Hopkins grapples with his mission and personal loyalties, he also revels in secret clubs with newsman Edward R. Murrow and has an affair with his younger driver. Except Hopkins doesn’t know that his driver is a British intelligence agent. She craves wartime action and will go to any lengths to prove she should be on the front line. This is London under fire, and it’s only when the night descends and the bombs fall that people’s inner darkness comes to light.

In Sleep in Peace Tonight, a tale of courage, loyalty, and love, and the sacrifices one will make in the name of each, James MacManus brings to life not only Blitz-era London and the tortuous politics of the White House but also the poignant characters and personalities that shaped the course of world history.




JAMES MACMANUS is the managing director of The Times Literary Supplement. He is the author of Ocean Devil, which was made into a film starring Jonathan Rhys Meyers. His other novels include The Language of the Sea and Black Venus. www.jamesmacmanus.com  


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


SLEEP IN PEACE TONIGHT By James MacManus


Chapter 1 Excerpt

In spite of the whisky and the long journey, Hopkins found sleep difficult that night. He had been
shocked by the earsplitting cacophony of guns, bombs, and sirens during the raid. News reports from
London all talked of civilian deaths, the destruction of homes, the plight of the homeless, food shortages, rationing, queues, but none mentioned the deafening nightly thunder of the Blitz. He wondered how anyone got any sleep.

The next morning, as his car drove down Park Lane to 10 Downing Street, he realized that sleep
was probably a dimly remembered luxury for most Londoners. Despite the cold, he wound the window down and caught the acrid smell of smoke and burning. He saw pale faces pinched with cold waiting patiently at bus stops, trying to get to work. People stamped their feet and rubbed gloved hands against the cold, craning around the queue hoping to see their bus. Others gave up the wait and trudged past still- burning buildings, heads down, hands clasping handbags or briefcases, all wondering on that freezing morning whether there would be transport home that night. They looked exhausted, hollowed out, half people.

Red double- decker buses lumbered over still- smoldering rubble strewn across the roads, weaving past piles of shattered brick and occasional geysers of water as they went from bus stop to bus stop scooping up passengers from long, orderly queues.

As they passed Hyde Park Hopkins saw the antiaircraft crews cleaning and servicing the guns for
the night ahead. Piles of expended shell cases were stacked neatly in brass pyramids under the plane trees. Elderly men and women walked dogs around the gun emplacements as if it were normal to find batteries of long- barreled 3.7- inch antiaircraft guns in the middle of a city park.

That’s the point, Hopkins realized. This is normal. The Blitz had been going on for four months. Twenty- eight thousand people had been killed in London alone and forty thousand homes destroyed, leaving almost half a million people displaced. And yet here on the streets on a bitter January morning people were queuing for the bus and trudging to work over the debris from the latest raid. The chargĂ© d’affaires had been right. No one in Washington had any idea of what was happening in London.

Hopkins opened his briefcase and pulled out his letter of authorization from President Roosevelt:

     Reposing special faith and confidence in you, I am asking you to proceed at your earliest convenience to Great Britain, there to act as my personal representative. I am also asking you to convey a communication in this sense to His Majesty George VI. You will of course communicate to this government any matters which may come to your attention in the performance of your mission which you may feel will serve the best interests of the United States. 
     With all best wishes for the success of your mission I am,     Sincerely yours     Franklin D. Roosevelt


SLEEP IN PEACE TO NIGHT. Copyright © 2014 by James MacManus. All rights reserved. Printed in the United States of America. For information, address St. Martin’s Press, 175 Fifth Avenue, New York, N.Y. 10010.




Monday, October 20, 2014

The Secrets of Casanova blog tour and review

Please join author Greg Michaels as he tours with HF Virtual Book Tours for The Secrets of Casanova, from October 13-24.

02_The Secrets of Casanova 

The Secrets of Casanova by Greg Michaels
Publication Date: October 21, 2013 Booktrope Editions 
Formats: eBook Paperback; 334p
Genre: Historical Fiction
Source: Publisher via Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours for an honest review


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2014 Nancy Pearl Award Winner for Fiction.

Loosely based on the life of Jacques Casanova, The Secrets of Casanova is a rich, lush novel of love, sex, family, ambition, intrigue, and adventure. Set in Paris of 1755, Casanova's luck is fading and his past is shoving up against his present with potentially disastrous consequences. What price must he pay to uncover a treasure of inestimable value? What hearts must he break along the way? Casanova's will and destiny collide again and again in this riveting historical fiction that brings to light a man of great passion and not a few secrets.

Praise for The Secrets of Casanova


A Shakespearean actor with a flair for the dramatic and a superb ear for dialogue, Michaels's debut novel puts a brilliantly original spin on an historical figure whose very name is a clich?. This Casanova must wrestle not only with falling hopelessly and passionately in love, but embarking on a mysterious quest that is as much a spiritual awakening as a swashbuckling adventure. The Secrets of Casanova is so erotic and so sensitively written, I found it difficult to believe its author was a man.? -Robin Maxwell, national best-selling author of The Secret Diary of Anne Boleyn

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My Take:

The Secrets of Casanova wasn't really what I was expecting - but in a good way. I hadn't expected to actually like Jacques Casanova, but I did. He and his brother Francesco are very different, but considering all the problems they have, they are very loyal to each other.  The novel starts off with Jacques short of money and staying with Francesco and his wife, Dominique. It seems like much of the trouble Jacques gets himself into is because he is always short on money and having to contend with people he has upset or owes money to.

Despite his reputation as a ladies man, Jacques is interesting and more complex  than might be expected. Jacques learns about a riddle and the rumor of a great treasure and sets off on another adventure. And when I say adventure, I really mean adventure -- he gets access to the Vatican's archive of forbidden books to look for information, is taken by pirates at sea, has a duel fought over him, goes to Jerusalem, gets caught in the 1755 Lisbon earthquake, and he actually  does find an amazing treasure -- although not quite the one he had expected. This book is so full of fun, wild, exciting escapades. There are also a few sex scenes -- which one would expect in any book about Casanova, but not as many as I had expected.

I think anyone who enjoys a wild adventure tale would enjoy The Secrets of Casanova. As a fictionalized version of Casanova's life, I thought it did a wonderful job of showing Jacques as a complex, troubled, ambitious man and not just the shallow, two dimensional version of the man that we have become accustomed to seeing.


About the Author

03_Greg MichaelsAfter receiving his B.A. in anthropology from the University of Texas at Austin, a chance experience thrust Greg into a career as a professional actor and fight director. To date he's acted in over fifty theater productions, more than forty television shows, and choreographed dozens of swordfights for stage and screen. In THE SECRETS OF CASANOVA, Greg again proves his skill at telling a theatrical story. He lives with his wife, two sons, and Andy the hamster.

For more information please visit Greg Michaels's website. Like The Secrets of Casanova Facebook Page. Follow Greg Michaels on Twitter.

The Secrets of Casanova Blog Tour Schedule


Monday, October 13
Review at Bookish

Tuesday, October 14
Review at Flashlight Commentary
Review at With Her Nose Stick in a Book
Spotlight & Giveaway at Peeking Between the Pages

Wednesday, October 15
Interview at Flashlight Commentary
Guest Post at Historical Fiction Connection
Spotlight at Historical Fiction Obsession

Thursday, October 16
Review & Interview at Carpe Librum
Spotlight at Historical Tapestry

Friday, October 17
Review at A Chick Who Reads

Monday, October 20
Review at A Book Geek
Spotlight at CelticLady's Reviews
Spotlight & Giveaway at Passages to the Past

Tuesday, October 21
Review at A Bibliotaph's Reviews
Spotlight & Giveaway at Let Them Read Books

Wednesday, October 22
Review at WTF Are You Reading?
Review at Good Friends, Good Books and a Sleepy Conscience
Guest Post at Mina's Bookshelf

Thursday, October 23
Review at Beth's Book Reviews
Spotlight at What Is That Book About

Friday, October 24
Review at Book Nerd
Review at Svetlana's Reads and Views
Spotlight at Just One More Chapter

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