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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Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Citadels of Fire blog tour and review

Citadels of Fire by L.K. Hill
Publication date: May 27, 2014 by Jolly Fish Press
Source: publisher for an honest review
In a world where danger hides in plain sight and no one aspires to more than what they were born to, Inga must find the courage to break the oppressive chains she’s been bound with since birth. Even as a maid in the infamous Kremlin, life in 16th-century Russia is bleak and treacherous. That is, until Taras arrives. Convinced that his mother’s death when he was a boy was no mere accident, he returned from England to discover what really happened. While there, he gains favor from the Tsar later known as Ivan the Terrible, the most brutal and notorious ruler ever to sit upon the throne of Russia. Ivan allows him to take a servant, and to save Inga from a brutal boyar intent on raping her, Taras requests Inga to stay in his chambers. Up against the social confines of the time, the shadowy conspiracies that cloak their history, and the sexual politics of the Russian Imperial court, Inga and Taras must discover their past, plan for their future, and survive the brutality that permeates life within the four walls that tower over them all, or they may end up like so many citizens of ancient Russia: nothing but flesh and bone mortar for the stones of the Kremlin wall.

My Take:

I love Russian history and novels that take place in Russia, so naturally, the description of Citadels of Fire appealed to me. The novel manages to give a fascinating look at the politics, customs and superstitions, class distinctions and historical events all while holding the reader's interest in a story mostly about Inga, Yehvah, and Taras.

Yehvah is  the woman who saves Inga and gives her a stable parent figure and a position in the Kremlin as a maid.  Taras spent time in Russia as a child before his mother's death and returns as an adult to find out the truth about her death. He ends up in the Tsar's army and is a central figure to the story. 

It is Inga, however, who held my interest the most. She is an underdog in a world of powerful people who will stop at nothing to get what they want. Her situation is precarious since the boyars view any servant as basically property to be treated however they wish. This becomes an even bigger issue as Inga grows into a smart and beautiful young woman. 

I found the novel to be interesting and quite a page-turner. I was particularly impressed with how the author was able to weave the politics of the time into the story. Because the novel includes Ivan's childhood and the traumas and upheaval he experienced, it is a little easier to empathize with his extreme moods and it at least helps to explain a bit some of his actions. 

The author includes wonderful descriptions of the landscape and weather and wildlife - all of which could be very dangerous to humans. I thought the tone of how tough and precarious life in Russia could be was right and I enjoyed the book very much. I was a bit upset at the ending when I realized that I would have to wait to find out the rest of Inga and Tara's story.

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You can find L.K. Hill online here:


A Man of Honor Blog Tour and Review

  A Man of Honor, or Horatio's Confessions by J.A. Nelson Publication Date: December 9, 2019 Quill Point Press Paperback, eBook & ...