Beth's Book-Nook Blog

Reviews of What I've Been Reading….

The Chilbury Ladies’ Choir by Jennifer Ryan

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A while ago I received this book through Net Galley, and also received it as a gift for filling out a survey through Blogging for Books. Both were e-copies, but I received the Net Galley one first.

I loved this book about WWII and the power of music and community. Each character has his or her own story and the novel progresses through journals, letters, and straight prose. This was the type of story that I’d hope to see made into a BBC series.

Well-written and full of memorable characters, THE CHILBURY LADIES’ CHOIR is a book I could easily read more than once.

Thank you for my e-copy, Crown Publishing! It publishes Tuesday, 2/14/17.

Description (via Net Galley)

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The Dressmaker’s Dowry by Meredith Jaeger

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In December, I received an electronic copy of THE DRESSMAKER’S DOWRY via Edelweiss from my friends in publicity at Harper Collins. This was a fast and interesting read, especially since I love historical fiction!

Here’s the overview via Amazon:

For readers of Lucinda Riley, Sarah Jio, or Susan Meissner, this gripping historical debut novel tells the story of two women: one, an immigrant seamstress who disappears from San Francisco’s gritty streets in 1876, and the other, a young woman in present day who must delve into the secrets of her husband’s wealthy family only to discover that she and the missing dressmaker might be connected in unexpected ways.

An exquisite ring, passed down through generations, connects two women who learn that love is a choice, and forgiveness is the key to freedom…

San Francisco: 1876

Immigrant dressmakers Hannelore Schaeffer and Margaret O’Brien struggle to provide food for their siblings, while mending delicate clothing for the city’s most affluent ladies. When wealthy Lucas Havensworth enters the shop, Hanna’s future is altered forever. With Margaret’s encouragement and the power of a borrowed green dress, Hanna dares to see herself as worthy of him. Then Margaret disappears, and Hanna turns to Lucas. Braving the gritty streets of the Barbary Coast and daring to enter the mansions of Nob Hill, Hanna stumbles upon Margaret’s fate, forcing her to make a devastating decision…one that will echo through the generations.

San Francisco: Present Day

In her elegant Marina apartment overlooking the Golden Gate Bridge, Sarah Havensworth struggles to complete the novel she quit her job for. Afraid to tell her husband of her writer’s block, Sarah is also hiding a darker secret—one that has haunted her for 14 years. Then a news headline from 1876 sparks inspiration: Missing Dressmakers Believed to be Murdered. Compelled to discover what happened to Hannelore and Margaret, Sarah returns to her roots as a journalist. Will her beautiful heirloom engagement ring uncover a connection to Hanna Schaeffer?

THE DRESSMAKER’S DOWRY publishes on Feb. 7. Jaeger has done an excellent job in researching the time period and making history come alive. I will admit to loving the historical part better than the present day story, but that usually happens for me in this type of novel!

 

 

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HFVBTour for BEYOND DERRYNANE by Kevin O’Connell

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I’m so happy to be taking part in the Historical Fiction Blog Tour for DERRYNANE, a story of Ireland in the 1700’s and the start of a saga. It is a beautifully written and engaging story, and the start of a larger chronicle. Here’s the scoop:

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Beyond Derrynane by Kevin O’ Connell

Publication Date: July 7, 2016
Gortcullinane Press
eBook & Paperback; 348 Pages

Series: The Derrynane Saga, Volume 1
Genre: Historical Fiction

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Wed in an arranged marriage to a man nearly fifty years her senior, sixteen-year-old Eileen O’Connell goes from being one of five unmarried sisters to become the mistress of Ballyhar, the great estate of John O’Connor, one of the wealthiest and most influential men in Ireland.

When O’Connor dies suddenly seven months into their marriage, Eileen must decide whether she will fulfill her brother’s strategic goals for her family by marrying her late husband’s son.

Headstrong and outspoken, Eileen frustrates her brother’s wishes, as, through the auspices of her uncle, General Moritz O’Connell of the Imperial Austrian Army, she, along with her ebullient elder sister, Abigail, spend the ensuing richly-dramatic and eventful years at the court of the Empress Maria Theresa in Vienna.The sisters learn to navigate the complex and frequently contradictory ways of the court–making a place for themselves in a world far different from remote Derrynane. Together with the general, they experience a complex life at the pinnacle of the Hapsburg Empire.

Beyond Derrynane – and the three books to follow in The Derrynane Saga – will present a sweeping chronicle, set against the larger drama of Europe in the early stages of significant change, dramatising the roles, which have never before been treated in fiction, played by a small number of expatriate Irish Catholics of the fallen “Gaelic Aristocracy” (of which the O’Connells were counted as being amongst its few basically still-intact families) at the courts of Catholic Europe, as well as relating their complex, at times dangerous, lives at home in Protestant Ascendancy-ruled Ireland.

In addition to Eileen’s, the books trace the largely-fictional lives of several other O’Connells of Derrynane, it is the tantalisingly few facts that are historically documented about them which provide the basic threads around which the tale itself is woven, into which strategic additions of numerous historical and fictional personalities and events intertwine seamlessly.

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Me again — I loved the character of Eileen in this book. She was quite strong and independent. As someone who’s great grandparents came from Ireland, I thought I was fairly familiar with Irish history, but I really did not know about the expat Irish who went to court in Europe (full disclosure: I came from a fairly long line of farmers not aristocracy!). This book was so interesting and also well-written.

Thank you for making me part of the tour and for my review copy!

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | IndieBound

About the Author

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Kevin O’Connell is a native of New York City and a descendant of a young officer of what had—from 1690 to 1792—been the Irish Brigade of the French army, believed to have arrived in French Canada following the execution of Queen Marie Antoinette in October of 1793. At least one grandson subsequently returned to Ireland and Mr. O’Connell’s own grandparents came to New York in the early twentieth century. He holds both Irish and American citizenship.

He is a graduate of Providence College and Georgetown University Law Centre.

For more than four decades, O’Connell has practiced international business transactional law, primarily involving direct-investment matters, throughout Asia (principally China), Europe, and the Middle East.

Mr. O’Connell has been a serious student of selected (especially the Eighteenth Century) periods of the history of Ireland for virtually all of his life; one significant aspect of this has been a continuing scholarly as well as personal interest in the extended O’Connell family at Derrynane, many even distant and long-ago members of which, especially the characters about whom he writes, he has “known” intimately since childhood.

The father of five children and grandfather of ten, he and his wife, Laurette, live with their golden retriever, Katie, near Annapolis, Maryland.

Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, January 16
Kick Off at Passages to the Past

Tuesday, January 17
Review at Broken Teepee

Wednesday, January 18
Review at Luxury Reading
Review at A Chick Who Reads

Thursday, January 19
Review at Books, Dreams, Life

Friday, January 20
Review at The Book Junkie Reads

Sunday, January 22
Review at Carole’s Ramblings

Monday, January 23
Review at Jorie Loves a Story

Tuesday, January 24
Review at Kinx’s Book Nook

Wednesday, January 25
Review at A Bookaholic Swede
Excerpt at A Literary Vacation

Friday, January 27
Review at CelticLady’s Reviews
Interview at Dianne Ascroft’s Blog

Monday, January 30
Review at Beth’s Book Nook Blog

Tuesday, January 31
Review at Book Nerd

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THE BEAUTY SHOP by Suzy Henderson

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I first received this book through Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours – through the kindness of the author. It is a wonderful historical fiction novel, centering on a young couple in love, but even more engaging to me, the young men who underwent life-saving and experimental surgeries and treatments for burns during WWII in Britain, and the doctor who was their savior.

Here’s the overview from HFVBTours, from when I featured a cover reveal:

The Beauty Shop by Suzy Henderson

Publication Date: November 2016
eBook & Paperback; 350 Pages

Genre: Historical Romance

England, 1942. After three years of WWII, Britain is showing the scars. But in this darkest of days, three lives intertwine, changing their destinies and those of many more.

Dr Archibald McIndoe, a New Zealand plastic surgeon with unorthodox methods, is on a mission to treat and rehabilitate badly burned airmen – their bodies and souls. With the camaraderie and support of the Guinea Pig Club, his boys battle to overcome disfigurement, pain, and prejudice to learn to live again.

John ‘Mac’ Mackenzie of the US Air Force is aware of the odds. He has one chance in five of surviving the war. Flying bombing missions through hell and back, he’s fighting more than the Luftwaffe. Fear and doubt stalk him on the ground and in the air, and he’s torn between his duty and his conscience.

Shy, decent and sensible, Stella Charlton’s future seems certain until war breaks out. As a new recruit to the WAAF, she meets an American pilot on New Year’s Eve. After just one dance, she falls head over heels for the handsome airman. But when he survives a crash, she realizes her own battle has only just begun.

Based on a true story, The Beauty Shop is a moving tale of love, compassion, and determination against a backdrop of wartime tragedy.

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I found Archie, the doctor, a fascinating person. He basically pioneered burn treatment and plastic surgery. I read more about him on Wikipedia.

Thank you for this interesting and touching story. If you like a romance set in WWII with some interesting real facts worked in, then pick up a copy of The Beauty Shop by Suzy Henderson.

Thank you for my e-copy!

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HFVBTour for ILLUSIONS OF MAGIC by J.B. Rivard with GIVEAWAY!

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I’m happy to be shouting it out today for the interesting novel: ILLUSIONS OF MAGIC, which I received through Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours.

Here’s the overview:

Illusions of Magic: Love and Intrigue in 1933 Chicago
by J.B. Rivard

Publication Date: April 17, 2016
eBook; 233 Pages
ASIN: B01EGSC8N8

Genre: Historical Fiction/Mystery

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The withering of vaudeville was bad enough in 1933. Because of the Great Depression, bookings for stage magician Nick Zetner disappeared. With his marriage cracking under the strain, Nick reluctantly accepts a devious banker’s deal: He earns a generous reward if he retrieves photos stolen during a break-in at the bank. Along the way, a love he thought he’d forever lost reappears. Despite his skill in the arts of magic, penetrating the realm of the thieves grows increasingly perilous, especially when it endangers his newfound romance.

Illusions of Magic seamlessly merges this tale with the true-life assassination attempt on President-elect Franklin D. Roosevelt resulting in Chicago’s mayor, Anton Cermak, being shot. His lingering death and a lack of legal means for his replacement causes great civic and social upheaval in the city.

In modern style, this novel propels the reader through emotional highs and subterranean lows with knife-edged dialogue, easy humor, page-turning action and authentic history.

Illusions of Magic, set in Chicago in early 1933, does a masterful job of telling the highly entertaining love story between an out-of-work magician and his old flame . . . Rivard creates a historically accurate background for his cast of fascinating characters, creating a moving novel . . .” —Dr. Willard Oliver, Professor at Sam Houston State University and co-author of Killing the President.

Illusions of Magic, a story of political intrigue in 1930s Chicago, is written in an informative, yet entertaining style. Rivard weaves into his narrative the true story of Chicago Mayor Anton Cermak’s murder and he does it with accuracy and complete authenticity . . . Each chapter powers along, insisting you read ‘just one more’ part. The taut writing has a ‘made for the movies’ tension . . .” —Mel Ayton, author of The Forgotten Terrorist and Hunting the President.

[The] attempted assassination of Franklin D. Roosevelt in…1933…is part of the dramatic backdrop of Rivard’s fast-paced and punchy novel….Nick Zetner’s adventures, part screwball comedy and part Dashiell Hammett, combine with the richly authentic atmosphere of the setting to create a quick and very enjoyable read that smoothly intermingles Nick’s love life with a challenging case he takes on for a corrupt banker. The book reads like a breath of fresh air – recommended.” -Joanna Urquhart, Historical Novel Society

About the Author

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Almost everyone is familiar with the illustrations in “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland”. However, the number of illustrated novels published–for adult readers–declined steadily from the beginning to the middle of the 20th century, although not for lack of popularity. “Illusions of Magic” dares a return to the edgy, swirling arts of the illustrated story, with pen and ink illustrations by the novel’s author, Joseph B. “J. B.” Rivard, supplementing this exciting story.

As a young child, Rivard began drawing by copying newspaper comics. In his teens, he drew illustrations for his high school’s award-winning yearbook. He attended the Chicago Academy of Fine Arts and his artworks have appeared in more than fifty juried exhibitions, earning many prizes and awards. He’s an artist-member of the Salmagundi Club of New York City.

Rivard’s writing draws on wide experience–he served in the U.S. Navy, graduated from the University of Florida, worked as a newspaper reporter, a magazine writer, and on the engineering staff of a U.S. National Laboratory where he wrote and co-authored many technical papers listed on Google Scholar. His broad background supports a wide array of significant publications, from short stories to song lyrics, from essays to novels. He calls Spokane, Washington home.

For more information, please visit the Illusions of Magic website.

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Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, January 9
Blog Tour Kick Off at Passages to the Past

Tuesday, January 10
Review at Books, Dreams, Life

Wednesday, January 11
Review at Book Nerd

Thursday, January 12
Review at 100 Pages a Day

Friday, January 13
Spotlight at Let Them Read Books

Monday, January 16
Review at Jorie Loves a Story

Tuesday, January 17
Interview at The Maiden’s Court
Spotlight at A Literary Vacation

Wednesday, January 18
Review at Creating Herstory

Thursday, January 19
Review at Laura’s Interests

Friday, January 20
Review at Broken Teepee

Monday, January 23
Spotlight at Beth’s Book Nook Blog

Tuesday, January 24
Spotlight at Susan Heim on Writing

Wednesday, January 25
Review at Svetlana’s Reads and Views

Thursday, January 26
Spotlight at CelticLady’s Reviews
Spotlight at What Is That Book About

Friday, January 27
Review & Interview at Quitterstrip

Giveaway!

To win a paperback copy of Illusions of Magic by J.B. Rivard, please enter via the Gleam form below. Three copies are up for grabs!

Rules:

– Giveaway ends at 11:59pm EST on January 27th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
– Giveaway is open to residents in the US only.
– Only one entry per household.
– All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspect of fraud is decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion.
– Winner has 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.

Direct Link: https://gleam.io/MmmM2/illusions-of-magic

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DUTY TO THE CROWN by Aimie Runyan

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Via GoodReads:
Set amid the promise and challenge of the first Canadian colonies, Aimie K. Runyan’s vividly rendered novel provides a fascinating portrait of the women who would become the founding mothers of New France.

In 1667, an invisible wall separates settlers in New France from their Huron neighbors. Yet whether in the fledgling city of Quebec or within one of the native tribes, every woman’s fate depends on the man she chooses—or is obligated—to marry.

Although Claudine Deschamps and Gabrielle Giroux both live within the settlement, their prospects are very different. French-born Claudine has followed her older sister across the Atlantic hoping to attract a wealthy husband through her beauty and connections. Gabrielle, orphan daughter of the town drunkard, is forced into a loveless union by a cruel law that requires her to marry by her sixteenth birthday. And Manon Lefebvre, born in the Huron village and later adopted by settlers, has faced the prejudices of both societies and is convinced she can no longer be accepted in either. Drawn into unexpected friendship through their loves, losses, and dreams of home and family, all three women will have to call on their bravery and resilience to succeed in this new world…

Praise for Promised to the Crown
 
“A heart-wrenching and timeless tale of friendship, love and hope that skillfully blends history and romance to educate, entertain and inspire.” –Pam Jenoff, author of The Last Summer at Chelsea Beach (less)

ebook, 352 pages
Published October 25th 2016 by Kensington
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I absolutely love this historical fiction series about the young women who were “Daughters of the King” – sent to Canada as the “New Land” to marry and populate for the good of France in the 1600’s. This was Book 2 in the series, and it continues the story of the characters introduced in Book 1, with individuals growing older as the books go along. Three young girls from Book 1 are now young women, and they have many trials and tribulations to face as they tackle pioneer life in the 1600’s. I love how these books encompass the highs and lows of life — births, deaths, joys, and sorrows.
I can’t wait for Book 3!
Thank you to the author who sent me this copy as she knew how much I enjoyed Book 1!
BBC – what are you waiting for? Make a miniseries from these novels!!
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THE SILVER BARON’S WIFE by Donna Baier Stein

Today I’m part of the Historical Fiction Virtual Tour for THE SILVER BARON’S WIFE – an incredible historical fiction story of Baby Doe Tabor.

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The Silver Baron‘s Wife by Donna Baier Stein

Publication Date: September 15, 2016
Serving House Books
Paperback & eBook; 224 Pages
ISBN-13: 978-0997101065

Genre: Historical Fiction

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The Silver Baron‘s Wife traces the rags-to-riches-to-rags life of Colorado’s Baby Doe Tabor (Lizzie). This fascinating heroine worked in the silver mines and had two scandalous marriages, one to a philandering opium addict and one to a Senator and silver baronworth $24 million in the late 19th century. A divorcee shunned by Denver society, Lizzie raised two daughters in a villa where 100 peacocks roamed the lawns, entertained Sarah Bernhardt when the actress performed at Tabor’s Opera House, and after her second husband’s death, moved to a one-room shack at the Matchless Mine in Leadville. She lived the last 35 years of her life there, writing down thousands of her dreams and noting visitations of spirits on her calendar. Hers is the tale of a fiercely independent woman who bucked all social expectations by working where 19thcentury women didn’t work, becoming the key figure in one of the West’s most scandalous love triangles, and, after a devastating stock market crash destroyed Tabor’s vast fortune, living in eccentric isolation at the Matchless Mine. An earlier version of this novel won the PEN/New England Discovery Award in Fiction.”

Amazon | Barnes &  Noble

Praise

“At long last we get to hear Baby Doe’s compelling side of the hurtful tale that made her the most hated woman in the West. Donna Baier Stein has captured young Lizzie’s Doe’s agency in her first marriage, as well as older Lizzie’s Tabor’s deep spiritual resilience during her decades of isolation. Through Stein’s artistry, Baby Doe’s story makes the heart ache.” —Judy Nolte Temple, author of Baby Doe Tabor: The Madwoman in the Cabin

“Explosive, gripping and romantic, The Silver Baron’s Wife is a story that exposes not only the scandalous marriage and perplexing life of a woman starred in the wealthy 19th century social circles while being shunned from them. It also opens a fascinating window into 19th century American social mores and Washington DC’s politics.

An absorbing read about a fiercely independent woman who charted her own course only to find herself paying the price.” —Talia Carner, author of Hotel Moscow, Jerusalem Maiden, China Doll, and Puppet Child

“The Silver Baron’s Wife is a beautiful and absorbing novel, rich in history and vivid period detail. In exquisite prose, Donna Baier Stein captures the extraordinary and tumultuous life of Lizzie “Baby Doe” Tabor, with all of its longings, joys, and tragedies. This is a moving and memorable book.” —Ronna Wineberg, author of Seven Facts That Can Change Your Life, On Bittersweet Place, and Second Language,

“With The Silver Baron’s Wife, Donna Baer Stein pulls off that most difficult of novelistic feats: breathing fictional life into historic characters and situations. From the dark, unpropitious, and dismal depths of Baby Doe Tabor’s biography, she mines a vein of puresilver.” —Peter Selgin, author of The Inventors, Drowning Lessons, and Life Goes To The Movies

“Donna Baier Stein paints a heartfelt, poignant picture filled with loving details of Baby Doe’s celebrated life that lingers long after the last page is turned.” —Ann Parker, author of The Silver Rush Mystery Series

“Donna Baier Stein reveals the deeper levels of Baby Doe Tabor, the fascinating 19th century woman who caught silver mining fever, and whose fortune vacillated again and again between stunning riches and hardscrabble dearth. Having lost children, spouses, and wealth Lizzie is drawn more than ever to the invisible world, yearning to know if the dreams and visitations which have guided her life are real. With sumptuous, tactile prose, rich historical detail, and an evocative recreation of the American West, The Silver Baron’s Wife excavates the legend of Elizabeth McCourt Tabor to expose a character’s humanity and soul.” —Diane Bonavist, author of Purged by Fire: The Cathar Heresy

About the Author

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Donna Baier Stein is the author of The Silver Baron‘s Wife (PEN/New England Discovery Award), Sympathetic People (Iowa Fiction Award Finalist and 2015 IndieBook Awards Finalist), and Sometimes You Sense the Difference. She founded and publishes Tiferet Journal. She has received a Scholarship from Bread Loaf, a Fellowship from the Johns Hopkins University Writing Seminars, three Pushcart nominations, and prizes from the Allen Ginsberg Awards and elsewhere. Her writing has appeared in Ascent, Beloit Poetry Journal, Poet Lore, Prairie Schooner, Virginia Quarterly Review, Puerto del Sol, Writer’s Digest, as well as in anthologies from Simon & Schuster and The Spirit That Moves Us Press. She is currently completing a new collection of stories based on Thomas Hart Benton lithographs.

Donna was also an award-winning copywriter whose clients include Smithsonian, World Wildlife Fund, Citrix, and other non-profit and for-profit organizations. Her website is www.donnabaierstein.com. You can also follow Donna on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.

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What a story! I had never heard of Baby Doe but she was certainly an unforgettable character. Her story and the amazing experiences she had, along with her atypical behavior and choices for a woman in those times, make this an unforgettable story.

Highly recommended for those who like to read about true women in a fictionalized format — and for fans of Molly Brown!

Thank you for my review e-copy!

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THE SEMPER SONNET by Seth Margolis

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Today I’m thrilled to be part of the Historical Fiction Virtual Blog Tour for THE SEMPER SONNET by Seth Margolis.

Here’s the over view of the book from the tour:

The Semper Sonnet by Seth Margolis

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Publication Date: April 19, 2016
Diverson Publishing
eBook & Paperback; 374 Pages

Genre: Historical Fiction/Mystery/Thriller

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In this stunning thrill ride, perfect for fans of Dan Brown and Steve Berry, a long-lost manuscript, written for Elizabeth I, holds the key to unlocking the past—and to eliminating the future.

Lee Nicholson is ready to take the academic world by storm, having discovered a sonnet she believes was written by William Shakespeare. When she reads the poem on the air, the words put her life in peril and trigger a violent chase, with stakes that reach far beyond the cloistered walls of academia.

Buried in the language of the sonnet, in its allusions and wordplay, are secrets that have been hidden since Elizabethan times, secrets known only to the queen and her trusted doctor, but guessed at by men who seek the crown and others who seek the world. If the riddles are solved, it could explode what the world knows of the great Elizabeth I. And it could release a pandemic more deadly than the world has ever imagined.

Lee’s quest for the answers buried in the sonnet keeps her one step ahead of an international hunt—from the police who want her for murder, to a group of men who will stop at nothing to end her quest, to a madman who pursues the answers for destructive reasons of his own.

As this intelligent thriller moves back and forth between Tudor England and the present day, Lee begins to piece together the meaning behind Shakespeare’s words, carrying the story to its gasp-out-loud conclusion.

“Imaginative plotting and depth of character distinguish this centuries-spanning thriller…”—Publishers Weekly

“The Semper Sonnet is a wildly imaginative thriller that fans of Dan Brown and Steve Berry will love.”—Phillip Margolin, New York Times bestselling author

“This provocative and knuckle-biting thriller will have you on the edge of your seat as it careens through the hallowed halls of academia into the turbulent past. Hold tight to your farthingales: this is a roller-coaster ride of a book!”—C.W. Gortner, international bestselling author of The Last Queen

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

About the Author

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Seth Margolis is a writer whose most recent novel, THE SEMPER SONNET, was published on April 19. He is the author of six earlier novels, including LOSING ISAIAH, which was made into a film starring Halle Berry and Jessica Lange.

Seth lives with his wife, Carole, in New York City. They have two grown children, Maggie and Jack. Seth received a BA in English from the University of Rochester and an MBA in marketing from New York University’s Stern School of Business Administration. When not writing fiction, he is a branding consultant for a wide range of companies, primarily in the financial services, technology and pharmaceutical industries. He has written articles for the New York Times and other publications on travel and entertainment.

For more information, please visit Seth Margolis’ website. You can also find him on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.

Blog Tour Schedule

Thursday, December 1
Blog Tour Kick Off at Passages to the Past

Friday, December 2
Spotlight at The Never-Ending Book

Saturday, December 3
Review at Ageless Pages Reviews

Monday, December 5
Review at A Bookaholic Swede

Tuesday, December 6
Review at Jorie Loves a Story
Spotlight at The Lit Bitch

Wednesday, December 7
Review at Kinx’s Book Nook
Spotlight at What Is That Book About

Thursday, December 8
Interview at Author Dianne Ascroft’s Blog
Spotlight at Susan Heim on Writing

Friday, December 9
Review at Trisha Jenn Reads

Monday, December 12
Review at 100 Pages a Day
Review at Queen of All She Reads

Wednesday, December 14
Review at JulzReads

Thursday, December 15
Guest Post at JulzReads

Friday, December 16
Spotlight at Books, Dreams, Life

Monday, December 19
Review at Beth’s Book Nook Blog

Wednesday, December 21
Spotlight at A Literary Vacation

Tuesday, December 27
Review at History From a Woman’s Perspective

Wednesday, December 28
Review at CelticLady’s Reviews

Thursday, December 29
Review at Svetlana’s Reads and Views

Friday, December 30
Review at Broken Teepee

I loved this book as it reminded me of THE DA VINCI CODE. I love a fast-paced mystery with history and puzzles, etc. I enjoyed the characters, but what I really liked was the whole “history mystery” of a possible child being born to Elizabeth I while she was at Hatfield. I had actually heard this theory before, and I find it fascinating. I liked how the plot played out. The only thing that jumped out at me were the dates. Coming from Massachusetts, I’m fairly familiar with when the area was settled and how and by whom. It seemed that the whole “Semper” family were here a little early, but hey — anything’s possible and this is historical fiction!

Thanks so much for my review e-copy!

 

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TO CAPTURE WHAT WE CANNOT KEEP by Beatrice Colin

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I loved this historical fiction which I found on Net Galley a while ago. It is set against the building of the Eiffel Tower in Paris, and follows the lives and relationships of a Scottish family, their chaperone, and one of the lead engineers on Eiffel’s project.

Here’s the overview from NG:

Description

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THE SULTAN, THE VAMPYR, AND THE SOOTHSAYER by Lucille Turner — Guest Post included!

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I recently read Lucille Turner’s previous book, LA GIOCONDA, about Leonardo da Vinci, and loved it, so I was thrilled when she offered me a copy of her new book: The Sultan, the Vampyr, and the Soothsayer. This is a fascinating account of the historical character behind Dracula.

Here’s the overview:

1442: When Vlad Dracula arrives at the court of the Ottoman Sultan Murad II, his life is turned upside down. His father Dracul cannot protect him; he must battle his demons alone. And when the Sultan calls for the services of a soothsayer, even the shrewd teller of fortunes is unprepared for what he learns.

Meanwhile, the Ottoman Turks are advancing through the Balkans with Vienna in their sights and Constantinople, the Orthodox Greek capital, within their grasp. As Eastern Europe struggles against the tide of a Muslim advance it cannot counter, Western Christendom needs only one prize to overthrow its enemies.

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Ms. Turner is an excellent writer and also an excellent historian. I had to think that this book took hours of research as it was so incredibly detailed. I will admit to knowing next to nothing about life in eastern Europe in the 1400’s, and I found the story fascinating. I was particularly impressed with the level of visual detail included and how I could easily imagine the scenes.

I had some questions for Lucille regarding her novel and she kindly agreed to guest post with me today!

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–How much of this story is true?

True to the genre of historical fiction, the historical facts about the life of Vlad Dracula, his family and that of the Ottoman dynasty have been preserved in so far as they are known. Vlad Dracula and his younger brother, Radu, spent a number of years at the palace of the Ottoman Sultan Murad II, where they encountered the Sultan’s notorious son Mehmet. The unsustainable politics that forced the Dracul family into such a corner were certainly responsible for the tragedies the family as a whole was forced to endure. As for the parts of the book that touch upon the myth of the vampire, or strigoi, in Romania, these are based on documented evidence from the region itself, which has a cult of the dead on a par with Ancient Egypt. I drew on this folklore when I wrote the book, as well as on the stories of the Goths, and their close cousins the Getae, of Gets, who populated the Black Sea regions in ancient times. There I found a link to the vampire myth in the legend of the wolf-men of the Goths and the ‘twice-born’ of the Gets. It was these legends and myths, together with the local customs and traditions based around the undisputed existence of the Romanian strigoi that helped me re-imagine the connection between the Dracul family and their ‘vampire’ future.

— How did you research your novel?

The initial inspiration for The Sultan, the Vampyr and the Soothsayer came after I visited Istanbul in 2012. One of the sultanate’s most famous hostages was Vlad Dracula, whose family played a major role in defending Christendom from the Turks, although I didn’t know that at the time. What fascinated me about the remains of the Topkapı palace at Istanbul was the harem, which was a real labyrinth of courtyards and rooms. It struck me as a prison, which is effectively what it was, even though many historians stress the power that certain women had at one point in the seraglio of the Ottoman court. Nevertheless, it was a kind of female prison, and the female characters in my book, on the Ottoman side, are forced to battle against not only their keepers, the men, but also against their fellow inmates, the women — none of which makes for an easy life.

The second element of the book, the Romanian, or Rumani one, was suggested by a book on Romanian folklore, which I discovered in a French library. The book is out of print now; if that book was not the last copy in circulation, it was certainly one of the last. It was a documented exploration of the myth of the Romanian vampire, complete with bibliography. It gave me nightmares for weeks.

–How does your story differ from “Dracula” by Bram Stoker?

Bram Stoker’s novel was not really historical fiction. It was a novel inspired by a real historical character, Dracula. It took the myth of the vampire, which already existed and has existed since practically the dawn of civilisation, and made it into a sensation by adding a good dose of sex, fangs and blood. Certainly, there is a connection between all

of these elements and the vampire, or strigoi of myth (although I would seriously argue against the fangs), in that the strigoi was often said to revisit its relatives or loved ones first, during what is called its ‘second life’ — and if you substitute family ties for ‘blood’ ties, the connection makes even more sense. But The Sultan, the Vampyr and the Soothsayer is really historical fiction with an element of myth running through it. Because it is historical fiction, it delivers the bigger picture around the lives of the Dracul family, including their intriguing involvement with the Ottomans of Turkey and the Greeks of Constantinople. The novel’s principal themes emerge from this historical perspective.

 

THANK YOU, LUCILLE TURNER, FOR SHARING YOUR TIME AND YOUR TALENT WITH US TODAY!

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