Friday, July 29, 2016

The Girl in the River - Review

By Kate Rhodes
Witness Impulse
October 20, 2015
E-ISBN 9780062444042
Price: $2.99
Source: Publisher for an honest review

About the Book

Jude Shelley, daughter of a prominent cabinet minister, had her whole life ahead of her until she was attacked and left to drown in the Thames. Miraculously, she survived. A year later, her family is now asking psychologist Alice Quentin to re-examine the case.

But then a body is found: an elderly priest, attacked in Battersea, washed up at Westminster Pier. An ancient glass bead is tied to his wrist.

Alice is certain that Jude and her family are hiding something, but unless she can persuade them to share what they know, more victims will come.

Because the Thames has always been a site of sacrifice and death.

And Alice is about to learn that some people still believe in it…

Purchase Here:

My Take:

I was pleasantly surprised at how quickly I was drawn into The Girl in the River.  I think a different title might be better, but the story itself was fast-paced and kept my interest to the very end. This was my first Alice Quentin novel and I really liked the character and found her profession of Forensic Psychologist for the Met to be intriguing. There are so many interesting characters in the novel -- and more than a few could be the killer.

When the victim of a horrible assault starts remembering details of her attack months after the fact, Alice is called in to help find leads. The reader gets to follow Alice as she tries to figure out who attacked Jude and why. Unfortunately, more people are being murdered and the method of Jude's attack takes on new horrific meaning. The reader also gets to follow the killer  -- and this part gets pretty creepy. The guy is obviously very disturbed.

I thought the author did a great job introducing many possible suspects and kept me guessing all the way through. This was a fun, fast, and slightly disturbing read. There was also the history and archaeology of the Thames, since it plays such a prominent part in the story.  I would read the other Alice Quentin books as well since I enjoyed this one quite a lot. The Girl in the River will certainly appeal to any reader who enjoys a good mystery or fast-paced thriller.

About the Author
Kate Rhodes is the author of three previous Alice Quentin novels, Crossbones Yard, A Killing of Angels and The Winter Foundlings, as well as two collections of poetry, Reversal and The Alice Trap. She writes full-time now, and lives in Cambridge with her husband, a writer and film-maker. @K_RhodesWriter

Connect with Kate Rhodes

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

The Valley Blog Tour and Review

The Valley by Helen Bryan
Publication date: July 19, 2016
Publisher: Lake Union Publishing
Source: Publisher/Author for an honest review


Left suddenly penniless, the Honorable Sophia Grafton, a viscount’s orphaned daughter, sails to the New World to claim the only property left to her name: a tobacco plantation in the remote wilds of colonial Virginia. Enlisting the reluctant assistance of a handsome young French spy—at gunpoint— she gathers an unlikely group of escaped slaves and indentured servants, each seeking their own safe haven in the untamed New World.

What follows will test her courage and that of her companions as they struggle to survive a journey deep into a hostile wilderness and eventually forge a community of homesteads and deep bonds that will unite them for generations.

The first installment in an epic historical trilogy by Helen Bryan, the bestselling author of War Brides and The SisterhoodThe Valleyis a sweeping, unforgettable tale of hardship, tenacity, love, and heartache.

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Purchase Links

Amazon | Books-A-Million | Barnes & Noble

My Take:

The Valley by Helen Bryan sounded like a book I would be interested in - from the description. However, the description doesn't really give an accurate idea to the reader of what the book is actually about or how it is written. The first part of the book - at least the first one hundred pages or more - is about a young Sophia and how she met Henri when they were children and what a horrible brat she was, etc. This section isn't really needed for the novel - the information about their meeting  could have been given much more briefly and succinctly later in the book without the reader missing anything important. This is basically the problem I had with the book - it was far too long and wordy with  extraneous episodes. Don't get me wrong - I love long books with long, complicated sentences --- if written well and necessary. This was not the case with The Valley. 

I think the goal was to tell a long, sweeping story of the author's family origins in Virginia, and at times it seemed like that might be accomplished. But then there would be a jump to some other new character that just seemed to come out of nowhere and things would be weird and I would try to grasp the point of this character and event, but it was jarring and disrupted the overall story. 

I do feel torn over The Valley because there were sections that I actually enjoyed and wanted to read more about. I also felt like it would appeal to others who are into genealogy because it does tell the story of the original family members who came over to the colonies from Britain - exactly the information I have been researching for years for my own family. Unfortunately, the book just doesn't really manage to fulfill the promise of the description. I also have serious doubts about some of the historical accuracy throughout the novel.

I really wanted to like The Valley, and there were places that I could overlook the length and need of a good editor, and get into the story, but overall, it was a difficult read. I think it would appeal most to readers are interested in their own family history or the history of their hometown.

About Helen Bryan
Helen Bryan is a Virginia native who grew up in Tennessee. After graduating from Barnard College, she moved to England, where she studied law and was a barrister for ten years before devoting herself to writing full-time.

A member of the Inner Temple, Bryan is the author of four previous books: the World War II novel War Brides; the historical novel The Sisterhood; the biography Martha Washington: First Lady of Liberty, which won an Award of Merit from the Colonial Dames of America; and the legal handbook Planning Applications and AppealsThe Valley is the first in a planned trilogy based on her childhood stories of ancestors who settled in Virginia and Maryland before Tennessee became a state.

Bryan resides in London with her family.

Helen Bryan’s TLC Book Tours TOUR STOPS:

Tuesday, July 19th: Just Commonly
Tuesday, July 19th: West Metro Mommy Reads
Wednesday, July 20th: A Book Geek
Thursday, July 21st: Kritter’s Ramblings
Friday, July 22nd: View from the Birdhouse
Friday, July 22nd: Reading is My Superpower
Monday, July 25th: WV Stitcher
Monday, July 25th: FictionZeal
Thursday, July 28th: From the TBR Pile
Monday, August 1st: A Bookish Affair
Tuesday, August 2nd: Broken Teepee
Wednesday, August 3rd: Lavish Bookshelf
Thursday, August 4th: Just One More Chapter
Monday, August 8th: A. Holland Reads
Tuesday, August 9th: Laura’s Reviews
Wednesday, August 10th: Sharon’s Garden of Book Reviews
Monday, August 15th: BookNAround
Wednesday, August 17th: The Maiden’s Court

Monday, July 18, 2016

After Alice Blog Tour and Review

After Alice cover After Alice by Grebory Maguire
Publication date: July 5, 2016
Publisher: William Morrow  
Paperback: 304 pages 
Source: Publisher for an honest review

From the multi-million-copy bestselling author of Wicked comes a magical new twist on Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, published to coincide with the 150th anniversary of Lewis’s Carroll’s beloved classic. 

When Alice toppled down the rabbit-hole 150 years ago, she found a Wonderland as rife with inconsistent rules and abrasive egos as the world she left behind. But what of that world? How did 1860s Oxford react to Alice’s disappearance?

 In this brilliant work of fiction, Gregory Maguire turns his dazzling imagination to the question of underworlds, undergrounds, underpinnings—and understandings old and new, offering an inventive spin on Carroll’s enduring tale. Ada, a friend of Alice’s mentioned briefly in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, is off to visit her friend, but arrives a moment too late—and tumbles down the rabbit-hole herself.

Ada brings to Wonderland her own imperfect apprehension of cause and effect as she embarks on an odyssey to find Alice and see her safely home from this surreal world below the world. If Eurydice can ever be returned to the arms of Orpheus, or Lazarus can be raised from the tomb, perhaps Alice can be returned to life. Either way, everything that happens next is “After Alice.”

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Purchase Links
HarperCollins | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

My Take:

After Alice by Gregory Maguire is as clever, playful, and thought provoking as I expected. Why would anyone want to read about Alice's friend Ada, though? Well, I didn't know either, but it turns out that Ada was actually a smart and charming young girl - once she figured that out herself. 

Ada is not Alice - she is not a beautiful, blond little girl who "goes off with the fairies" - Ada lacks grace and beauty and maybe even imagination. But Ada is quite smart and  practical. Ada's household is in an uproar because of her new baby brother - of whom she is not quite sure she approves. The baby is always crying, her mother has not recovered from the birth and her father is unwilling to engage with the family. Miss Armstrong, the not-really-capable nanny is unhappy and irritated by Ada and her place in the household and society as a whole.

Ada is sent to play with Alice who has managed to get lost - again. In After Alice, Alice seems like a flighty little thing who often goes missing. Ada, on the other hand, is plodding and clumsy and despite this, goes in search of her only friend, Alice. At first, it appears that Ada will follow Alice and simply retell the same story - but, instead, Ada's own perspective of her adventure gives the whole place and all the characters a different and, maybe needed, shift in the storytelling. 

Alongside Ada's adventures, the reader gets to learn about Alice's sister Lydia and Miss Armstrong as they search for the missing girls. There is much discussion of both girls and the social situations of the women in society, as well as political and ethical issues, including slavery. 

There is much going for After Alice - the words - oh the words! There is the playfulness and cleverness that one would expect, of course. And I actually appreciated the story line involving the 'real' world - with all the social commentary about issues of the time.  And Ada - Ada is quite an interesting girl.  

I wish I had had the time to read After Alice along with Alice in Wonderland, because I think it would have been an even better experience. I am seriously considering adding After Alice to my kids' reading list - right after Alice in Wonderland. I think that After Alice will appeal to lovers of Alice in Wonderland (naturally), as well as those readers who enjoy analyzing literature and like to read clever, playful, and fun novels. 

About Gregory Maguire

gregory maguireGregory Maguire is the New York Times bestselling author of Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister; Lost; Mirror Mirror; and the Wicked Years, a series that includesWicked, Son of a Witch, A Lion Among Men, and Out of Oz. Now a beloved classic, Wicked is the basis for a blockbuster Tony Award–winning Broadway musical. Maguire has lectured on art, literature, and culture both at home and abroad. He lives with his family near Boston, Massachusetts.

Find out more about Maguire at his website and follow him on Facebook.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

The Perfect Girl - Review

The Perfect Girl by Gilly Macmillan
Publisher: Little, Brown Book Group
Publication date: March 3, 2016
Source: Publisher for an honest review


To everyone who knows her now, Zoe Maisey - child genius, musical sensation - is perfect. Yet several years ago, Zoe caused the death of three teenagers. She served her time. And now she's free.

Her story begins with her giving the performance of her life.

By midnight, her mother is dead.

The Perfect Girl is an intricate exploration into the mind of a teenager burdened by brilliance. It's a story about the wrongs in our past not letting go and how hard we must fight for second chances.

My Take:

I found The Perfect Girl to be a definite page-turner. I couldn't put the book down until I reached the final page. It is clear from the start that there are things going on that are unclear to both the reader and to Zoe. However, Zoe also has information about her own past that the reader and Zoe's family are unaware of as well. 

I feel that too much information prior to reading The Perfect Girl will actually make the novel less enjoyable, so I will try to refrain from revealing much. Zoe and her mother have gotten a second chance at a "normal" life - her mother has remarried and Zoe has a step-brother. Things look perfect from the outside. As is often the case, nothing is really perfect. 

I found Zoe to be an intriguing and troubling character. It is much later in the book that readers find out what actually happened that caused Zoe to serve time and to be the subject of much speculation, but the episode has had a profound influence on Zoe and her perspective on people. 

I found the story to be compelling and upsetting in many ways. Zoe has been in the system and now must deal with the reality of what that means. She has also learned that people are not always what they seem and she must do what is necessary to protect herself.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

The Irish Inheritance Book Blast

02_The Irish Inheritance

The Irish Inheritance: A Jayne Sinclair Genealogical Mystery by M.J. Lee

Publication Date: June 15, 2016
eBook; 285 Pages
Series: The Jayne Sinclair Series, Book One Genre: Historical/Mystery

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 June 8, 1921. Ireland.

 A British Officer is shot dead on a remote hillside south of Dublin.

 November 22, 2015. United Kingdom.

 Former police detective, Jayne Sinclair, now working as a genealogical investigator, receives a phone call from an adopted American billionaire asking her to discover the identity of his real father. 

How are the two events linked?

 Jayne Sinclair has only three clues to help her: a photocopied birth certificate, a stolen book and an old photograph. And it soon becomes apparent somebody else is on the trail of the mystery. A killer who will stop at nothing to prevent Jayne discovering the secret hidden in the past.

 The Irish Inheritance takes us through the Easter Rising of 1916 and the Irish War of Independence, combining a search for the truth of the past with all the tension of a modern-day thriller.

 It is the first in a series of novels featuring Jayne Sinclair, genealogical detective.

Amazon US

03_MJ LeeAbout the Author

Martin has spent most of his adult life writing in one form or another. As a University researcher in history, he wrote pages of notes on reams of obscure topics. As a social worker with Vietnamese refugees, he wrote memoranda. And, as the creative director of an advertising agency, he has written print and press ads, tv commercials, short films and innumerable backs of cornflake packets and hotel websites.

 He has spent 25 years of his life working outside the North of England. In London, Hong Kong, Taipei, Singapore, Bangkok and Shanghai, winning awards from Cannes, One Show, D&AD, New York and London Festivals, and the United Nations.

When he’s not writing, he splits his time between the UK and Asia, taking pleasure in playing with his daughter, researching his family history, practicing downhill ironing, single-handedly solving the problem of the French wine lake and wishing he were George Clooney.

 You can find more information on M.J. Lee and his novels on Goodreads, Amazon, Facebook, and Twitter.

Book Blast Schedule

Monday, July 11
Just One More Chapter
The Book Junkie Reads
Tuesday, July 12
A Book Geek
Nerd in New York
The Never-Ending Book
Wednesday, July 13
The Silver Dagger Scriptorium
Thursday, July 14
Oh, for the Hook of a Book!
Friday, July 15
A Literary Vacation
To Read, Or Not to Read
Saturday, July 16
100 Pages a Day
Sunday, July 17
Passages to the Past
Beth's Book Nook Blog

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Monday, July 11, 2016

The Lord of Ireland Blog Tour and Review

02_The Lord of Ireland

The Lord of Ireland (The Fifth Knight, #3) by E.M. Powell

Publication Date: April 5, 2016 
Publisher:Thomas & Mercer
Kindle, Paperback, Audiobook; 370 Pages
Series: The Fifth Knight 
Genre: Historical Thriller
Source: Publisher via HFVBT for an honest review

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England, 1185. John is a prince without prospect of a crown. As the youngest son of Henry II, he has long borne the hated nickname ‘Lackland’. When warring tribes and an ambitious Anglo-Norman lord threaten Henry’s reign in Ireland, John believes his time has finally come. Henry is dispatching him there with a mighty force to impose order.

Yet it is a thwarted young man who arrives on the troubled isle. John has not been granted its kingship—he is merely the Lord of Ireland, destined never to escape his father’s shadow. Unknown to John, Henry has also sent his right-hand man, Sir Benedict Palmer, to root out the traitors he fears are working to steal the land from him.

But Palmer is horrified when John disregards Henry’s orders and embarks on a campaign of bloodshed that could destroy the kingdom. Now Palmer has to battle the increasingly powerful Lord of Ireland. Power, in John’s hands, is a murderous force—and he is only just beginning to wield it.

Praise for The Fifth Knight Series

"With her fast-paced mysteries set in the tumultuous reign of Henry II, E.M. Powell takes readers on enthralling, and unforgettable, journeys." -Nancy Bilyeau, author of The Crown

“Both Fifth Novels are terrific. Benedict and Theodosia are not merely attractive characters: they are intensely real people.” -Historical Novels Review

 “From the get-go you know you are in an adventure when you enter the world of E.M. Powell's 12th century. Peril pins you down like a knight's lance to the chest”-Edward Ruadh Butler, author of Swordland

My Take:

E.M. Powell has done it again - The Lord of Ireland is the third book in the Fifth Knight series and it is as fast-paced and compelling as the previous books. In this third book, Benedict has been sent to Ireland with Henry's son, John - often called "Lackland" since he isn't expected to ever sit on the throne. Howeveer, John is very ambitious and determined to make his reputation - unfortunately, he is an unscrupulous and often cruel young man. 

John is unaware that his father has sent Benedict, so Benedict must remain basically undercover while protecting John - mostly from the results of the young prince's own actions. Benedict's wife - and secret daughter of King Henry, Theodosia, is supposed to remain safe and secure, but she takes matters into her own hands when she receives what she perceives as a sign from God. 

Once Benedict and Theodosia are reunited in Ireland, things get really interesting. Theodosia must also be undercover since she is masquerading as a sister - a role she knows well. But it does make it difficult to communicate with Benedict. As usual, Theodosia is enterprising and uses her role to obtain useful information and help her husband in his extremely difficult job of protecting John and keeping Henry's plans on track. 

I enjoy how well Powell intertwines historical events and people into her novels. There are numerous historial people who wind there way through the narrative and at times I forget and the two main characters are fiction. Our couple, Benedict and Theodosia, are as delightful as ever - their relationship has a great dynamic and they make a great team.

As with the other Fifth Knight books, I found The Lord of Ireland to be a fast-paced, entertaining and informative read. I feel confident that it - and all the Fifth Knight novels - will appeal to many readers, especially those who like historical ficiton and action-packed thrillers. 

Amazon US | Amazon UK | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Chapters

03_E.M. PowellAbout the Author

E.M. Powell’s medieval thrillers The Fifth Knight and The Blood of the Fifth Knight have been number-one Amazon bestsellers and on the Bild bestseller list in Germany.

Born into the family of Michael Collins (the legendary revolutionary and founder of the Irish Free State) and raised in the Republic of Ireland, she lives in north-west England with her husband, daughter and a Facebook-friendly dog.

She reviews fiction and non-fiction for the Historical Novel Society, blogs for English Historical Fiction Authors and is a contributing editor to International Thriller Writers’ The Big Thrill magazine.

Find more information at E.M. Powell's website and blog. You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.

Blog Tour Schedule

Thursday, June 9
Review at Impressions In Ink
Friday, June 10
Excerpt & Giveaway at Passages to the Past
Monday, June 20
Review at Oh, for the Hook of a Book!
Tuesday, June 21
Interview at Layered Pages
Friday, June 24
Review at Dianne Ascroft's Blog
Monday, June 27
Interview at Oh, for the Hook of a Book!
Tuesday, June 28
Review at CelticLady's Reviews
Wednesday, June 29
Review at Book Nerd
Thursday, June 30
Guest Post at The Writing Desk
Tuesday, July 5
Excerpt at What Is That Book About
Thursday, July 7
Guest Post & Giveaway at Let Them Read Books
Monday, July 11
Review at A Book Geek
Saturday, July 16
Review at Bookramblings
Monday, July 18
Review at Just One More Chapter
Friday, July 22
Review at Broken Teepee

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Tuesday, July 5, 2016

The Memory Painter - Release Day Blitz

02_The Memory Painter PB CoverHello, my fellow HistFic lovers! Today, author Gwendolyn Womack's novel The Memory Painter: A Novel of Love and Reincarnation is out in paperback!

The Memory Painter: A Novel of Love and Reincarnation by Gwendolyn Womack

Publication Date: July 5, 2016
Picador USA
Paperback; 336 Pages
ISBN: 978-1250095770

Genre: Historical Fiction/Time Travel/Mystery/Romance

Finalist for the 2016 RWA Prism Awards for Best First Book & Best Time Travel/ Steampunk category.

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Two lovers who have travelled across time.

A team of scientists at the cutting edge of memory research.

A miracle drug that unlocks an ancient mystery.

At once a sweeping love story and a time-travelling adventure, Gwendolyn Womack's luminous debut novel, The Memory Painter, is perfect for readers of The Time Traveler's Wife, Life After Life and Winter's Tale.

Bryan Pierce is an internationally famous artist, whose paintings have dazzled the world. But there's a secret to Bryan's success: Every canvas is inspired by an unusually vivid dream. Bryan believes these dreams are really recollections―possibly even flashback from another life―and he has always hoped that his art will lead him to an answer. And when he meets Linz Jacobs, a neurogenticist who recognizes a recurring childhood nightmare in one Bryan's paintings, he is convinced she holds the key.

Their meeting triggers Bryan's most powerful dream yet―visions of a team of scientists who, on the verge of discovering a cure for Alzheimer's, died in a lab explosion decades ago. As his visions intensify, Bryan and Linz start to discern a pattern. But a deadly enemy watches their every move, and he will stop at nothing to ensure that the past stays buried.

The Memory Painter, like Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and Inception, is at once a taut thriller and a deeply original love story that transcends time and space, spanning six continents and 10,000 years of history.

“Gwendolyn Womack's tale dazzles.” ―US Weekly (Standout Spring Novels)
“…hang on for a wild and entertaining ride around the world and through the centuries back to ancient Egypt.” ~ Library Journal, starred review
“A sweeping, mesmerizing feat of absolute magic. . . . ~ M.J. Rose, New York Times Bestselling Author of The Witch of Painted Sorrows
“Layers of past and present form a rich pastry of a narrative, poignant and thoughtful, rich and suspenseful, filled with intrigue and dripping with meaning... ~ Charlie Lovett, New York Times Bestselling Author of The Bookman's Tale and First Impressions

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-a-Million | IndieBound

About the Author

Originally from Houston, Texas, Gwendolyn Womack began writing theater plays in college at the University of Alaska, Fairbanks. She went on to receive an MFA from California Institute of the Arts in Directing Theatre, Video & Cinema. Currently she resides in Los Angeles with her husband and son where she can be found at the keyboard working on her next novel. The Memory Painter is her first novel.

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

Tuesday, July 5 - Release Day Blitz Hosts

100 Pages a Day
A Book Geek
A Literary Vacation
Book Nerd
Diana's Book Reviews
Eclectic Ramblings of Author Heather Osborne
It's a Mad Mad World
Let Them Read Books
Life of a Female Bibliophile
Nerd in New York
New Horizon Reviews
Oh, for the Hook of a Book!
One Book Shy of a Full Shelf
Passages to the Past
Please Pass The Books
Room With Books
Susan Heim on Writing
Teatime and Books
The Book Junkie Reads
The Bookish Teapot
The Lit Bitch
The Never-Ending Book
The True Book Addict
To Read, or Not to Read

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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 & ...