Friday, September 25, 2020

Into the Unbounded Night- Blog Tour and Review


Into the Unbounded Night by Mitchell James Kaplan

Publication Date: September 1, 2020
Regal House Publishing
Paperback & eBook; 231 Pages
Genre: Literary/Historical

When her village in Albion is sacked by the Roman general Vespasian, young Aislin is left without home and family. Determined to exact revenge, she travels to Rome, a sprawling city of wealth, decadence, and power. A “barbarian” in a “civilized” world, Aislin struggles to comprehend Roman ways. From a precarious hand-to-mouth existence on the streets, she becomes the mistress of a wealthy senator, but their child Faolan is born with a disability that renders him unworthy of life in the eyes of his father and other Romans. 

Imprisoned for her efforts to topple the Roman regime, Aislin learns of an alternate philosophy from her cellmate, the Judean known today as the Apostle St. Paul. As the capital burns in the Great Fire of 64 AD, he bequeaths to her a mission that will take her to Jerusalem. There, Yohanan, son of Zakkai, has been striving to preserve the tradition of Hillel against the Zealots who advocate for a war of independence. Responding to the Judeans’ revolt, the Romans—again under the leadership of Vespasian—besiege Jerusalem, destroying the Second Temple and with it, the brand of Judean monotheism it represents. Yohanan takes on the mission of preserving what can be preserved, and of re-inventing what must be reinvented. 

Throughout Into the Unbounded Night, Aislin’s, Faolan’s, Vespasian’s, and Yohanan’s lives intertwine in unexpected ways that shed light on colonization and its discontents, the relative values of dominant and tyrannized cultures, and the holiness of life itself—even the weakest of lives.

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Praise for Into the Unbounded Night

“In Into the Unbounded Night, Mitchell Kaplan offers a rich rendering of war and humanity in first century Rome — of tradition and loss, and the transformative power of healing and collective memory to find one’s way home.” – Nichole Bernier, Boston Globe Bestselling author of The Unfinished Work Of Elizabeth D

“Mitchell James Kaplan is the gloriously talented writer of this dramatic, intense story of conflicting emperors, slaves, priests and exiles in a first century world whose roots and traditions are increasingly torn apart by the brutal rule of Rome. Men and women search for belief and reason, out of which will emerge a new Judaism after the destruction of Jerusalem’s Temple as well as the early beginnings of Christianity. A writer of enormous scope, compassion and poetry, Kaplan has written several of the most compelling characters you will meet in the pages of a book. Into the Unbounded Night sweeps over you like a succession of huge waves. It is truly a major novel.” – Stephanie Cowell, American Book Award recipient, author of Claude And Camille: A Novel Of Monet

“Kaplan’s prose is so rich and agile I felt I was breathing the air of these ancient places, and his evocation of character is no less palpable. Fully embodied and driven by ambition, grief, the clear-eyed desire for truth, and fierce maternal love, these characters plunge, march, and stumble toward their fascinating and entangled destinies.” – Marisa de los Santos, New York Times bestselling novelist of I’ll Be Your Blue Sky and award-winning poet

“I’m a big fan of historical fiction when it’s as good as Mitchell Kaplan’s Into the Unbounded Night. Vividly imagined, Into the Unbounded Night pulls the reader along with beautiful prose, strong characters and a wonderfully realized story.” – Heidi W. Durrow, New York Times best-selling author of The Girl Who Fell From The Sky, winner of the PEN/Bellwether Prize

“A beautiful, informative book. It was gripping throughout, the research never overwhelms the story, but is always part of it. [The] writing is lyrical and evocative of time and place. All the characters are real and interesting. Loved it!” – Martin Fletcher, National Jewish Book Award winner, author of Promised Land

“From the mystical lore of Albion to the Roman siege and destruction of Jerusalem, Kaplan’s meticulous research and evocative writing meld seamlessly to create a vivid, textured, and richly imagined story.” —Beth Hoffman, New York Times and International bestselling author of Saving Ceecee Honeycutt and Looking for Me

“Set in Rome and Judea after the crucifixion of Jesus, Mitchell James Kaplan’s finely crafted and intense second novel delves into the minds and hearts of truly captivating characters. An excellent read.” – Eva Stachniak, winner of the Canadian First Novel Award, author of The Chosen Maiden

“Sensually provocative, verbally sharp and critically witted, Mitchell James Kaplan’s Into the Unbounded Night brings to life the tumultuous birth of Judeo-Christian monotheism in this intimately woven narrative brimming with righteous and riotous characters striving for survival and transcendence across the ravished landscapes of Judea, the Roman Empire, and Britannia.” – Jessica Maria Tuccelli, an Okra Pick winner of the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance for her debut novel, Glow

“Kaplan weaves an intricate literary tapestry to create a poetic exploration of early Judeo-Christian and Roman history. He builds a diverse yet connected cast of characters whose encounters inspire timeless self-examination and advance the course of history. An engrossing work not easily forgotten.” – Therese Walsh, critically acclaimed author of The Last Will Of Moira Leahy and The Moon Sisters, founder of the literary blog, Writer Unboxed

My Take:

I wasn't sure what to expect from Into the Unbounded Night, but I love ancient history and when I was homeschooling my kids we spent quite a lot of time on Ancient Rome, so I was interested to see how the story was handled. Honestly, I was not expecting the novel to be so poetic! I was happily surprised. 

The novel begins with Aislin as a young girl in Albion - or Britannia.  She and her people have a brief time of peace before an army unlike any they have encountered before utterly destroys their homes and their lives. Aislin is taken and abused by the military leader of the Roman force, Titus Flavius Vespasianus - or Vespasian. While this is happening to her, her entire village is being destroyed. This event sets the course for the rest of the novel. 

The novel sets out as a revenge quest, but it is also a really thoughtful examination of the different sects of the Judaean monotheism of Jerusalem at the time. It also gives time and thought to Saul of Tarsus and his vision of what would become Christianity. 

There is an obvious villain in Vespasian, but there are other characters that are complicated and some try to redeem themselves while others not so much. I really enjoyed the compexity of the characters and the contrast between those who work to be better and hold themselves and their people accountable and those who sucumbed to the tyranny and debauchery that prevailed in Rome at the time. 

Aislin ends up in Rome and then Jerusalem - she encounters great good and utter evil along the way. The novel goes from one character point of view to another as the characters move in and out of each others' lives. There is a poetic, inevitableness to the way the story weaves itself through their lives. 

I really enjoyed all the history throughout the novel. But it never detracts from the story, in fact, I found it helpful to have a point of reference as I was reading. 

I found the ending chapters to be particularly moving and almost hopeful, accepting and at peace. I would encourage anyone interested in ancient hisotry, Rome, Jerusalem,  and beautiful ficiton to read Into the Unbounded Night.


About the Author

Mitchell James Kaplan graduated with honors from Yale University, where he won the Paine Memorial Prize for Best Long-Form Senior Essay submitted to the English Department. His first mentor was the author William Styron.
After college, Kaplan lived in Paris, France, where he worked as a translator, then in Southern California, where he worked as a screenwriter and in film production.
He lives in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia with his family and two cats.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, August 31

Wednesday, September 2
Review at Books and Zebras

Friday, September 4 

Saturday, September 5 
Review at 100 Pages a Day

Monday, September 7 

Tuesday, September 8 
Interview at Novels Alive
Feature at I'm Into Books 

Wednesday, September 9 
Review at YA, It's Lit

Thursday, September 10

Friday, September 11 
Feature at Pursuing Stacie

Monday, September 14
Interview at Let Them Read Books

Wednesday, September 16
Feature at CelticLady's Reviews 

Thursday, September 17 

Friday, September 18 
Guest Post at Book Bustle 

Monday, September 21 
Interview at Books & Benches

Tuesday, September 22 
Feature at Coffee and Ink

Wednesday, September 23 
Guest Post at The Intrepid Reader 

Friday, September 25 
Review at A Book Geek


During the Blog Tour, we are giving away 2 copies of Into the Unbounded Night! To enter, please use the Gleam form below. The giveaway is open to US residents only and ends on September 25th.

 You must be 18 or older to enter.

Monday, July 27, 2020

Marie Antoinette's World: Intrigue, Infidelity, and Adultery in Versailles - Blog Tour and Review

Marie Antoinette's World


on tour July 20-August 14 with    

Marie Antoinette’s World: Intrigue, Infidelity, And Adultery In Versailles

[history/biographical nonfiction]
Release date: June 15, 2020
Postponed due to Covid-19: July 30, 2020 at Rowman & Littlefield Publishers Hardcover and ebook, 320 pages


This riveting book explores the little-known intimate life of Marie Antoinette and her milieu in a world filled with intrigue, infidelity, adultery, and sexually transmitted diseases. Will Bashor reveals the intrigue and debauchery of the Bourbon kings from Louis XIII to Louis XV, which were closely intertwined with the expansion of Versailles from a simple hunting lodge to a luxurious and intricately ordered palace. It soon became a retreat for scandalous conspiracies and rendezvous—all hidden from the public eye.

When Marie Antoinette arrived, she was quickly drawn into a true viper’s nest, encouraged by her imprudent entourage. Bashor shows that her often thoughtless, fantasy-driven, and notorious antics were inevitable given her family history and the alluring influences that surrounded her. Marie Antoinette’s frivolous and flamboyant lifestyle prompted a torrent of scathing pamphlets, and Bashor scrutinizes the queen’s world to discover what was false, what was possible, and what, although shocking, was most probably true.

Readers will be fascinated by this glimpse behind the decorative screens to learn the secret language of the queen’s fan and explore the dark passageways and staircases of endless intrigue at Versailles.

My Take:

I haven't read Will Bashor's other books about Marie Antoinette, but I have a lifelong interest in French history and Versailles in particular. Marie Antoinette's World starts with a history of Versailles and how it was used by the kings through the years. That was actually very interesting and it sets up how the atmosphere of the Palace of Versailles influences everyone who lives there.

The book is organized chronologically. This works well to demonstrate the evolution of the palace, its uses, and its perception by the population. The palace often seems to have been a place to indulge in and hide certain kinds of behavior. I found this to be the most interesting aspect of the book.

As stated in the Introduction of the book, this is not an unbiased look at Marie Antoinette and I found this very disconcerting. I found some of the sources used to create a picture of who Marie Antoinette was as a person to be questionable - I didn't find the handwriting analysis or astrological charts to be relevant or compelling.

The chapter on the pamphlets published about Marie Antoinette was quite interesting. The chapter examines in detail some of the pamphlets and gives a pretty clear picture of how women who don't behave according to certain standards are maligned by men. As a "foreigner", Marie Antoinette was always something of a target for certain factions. But it was interesting that as Marie Antoinette grew up and became more interested in politics and policy and began using her influence and power, she became a much larger target and the attacks became much more personal. There is a lot to unpack in this book and the reader will have a lot to consider. I found myself pondering over how little progress society has made regarding women with power. It seems that they are still threatening to many and we have a long ways to go in that regard.

While I didn't like the biased nature of the book, I did find much of it very interesting and worthwhile to read. There are lots of notes and sources which is always useful.  I feel that any reader who is interested in French history, the French Revolution, and Marie Antoinette in particular, will find Marie Antoinette's World to be a good addition to their reading and library.


Will Bashor pictureWill Bashor is the author of the award-winning Marie Antoinette’s Head: The Royal Hairdresser, the Queen, and the Revolution and Marie Antoinette’s Darkest Days: Prisoner No. 280 in the Conciergerie. He holds a doctorate in international studies from the American Graduate School in Paris and is professor of global issues at Franklin University. He lives in Barcelona, Spain.

Visit his website, or connect with him here:

BUY the book here:
You can enter the global giveaway here or on any other book blog participating in this tour. Visit/Follow the participating blogs on Facebook/Twitter, as listed in the entry form below, and win more entry points!


Tweeting about the giveaway everyday of the Tour will give you 5 extra entries each time! [just follow the directions on the entry-form] Global giveaway open to all 9 winners will receive a copy of this book



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A Man of Honor Blog Tour and Review

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