Beth's Book-Nook Blog

Reviews of What I've Been Reading….

The Hollywood Daughter by Kate Alcott

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I love books by Kate Alcott, so I was thrilled to see that she wrote one about the heyday of Hollywood. The Hollywood Daughter is told from the point of view of the daughter of a publicist who represents, among others, Ingrid Bergman. Jesse idolizes Ingrid Bergman and when Bergman comes to her school to film The Bells of St. Mary, Jesse’s strict Catholic upbringing and her Hollywood family life collide.

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HFVBTour for UNDER THE APPROACHING DARK by Anna Belfrage with GIVEAWAY!!

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I’m super excited to be part of the blog tour for the amazing Anna’s latest novel in the King’s Greatest Enemy series: UNDER THE APPROACHING DARK. Anna’s books are always a treat to read, and they are chock full of exciting adventures and tons of historical details. She has an incredible gift in making history come alive.

I have to be honest and say that this is a time period that I’m a bit sketchy on. I’m one of those Americans who read a lot of Tudor-type books, without thinking too much of the centuries of English history that are not Tudor! Fascinating in its grittiness, I love learning about this time in history through lovable and fun characters, such as ADam and Kit.

I loved Anna’s Graham Saga, so if you did, too, you will certainly adore this series as well! I follow Anna on Facebook – she is a treat! Thank you so much for my review e-copy and for making me part of the tour!!

Under the Approaching Dark by Anna Belfrage

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Publication Date: April 28, 2017
Matador
eBook & Paperback; 424 Pages

Genre: Historical Fiction

Adam de Guirande has cause to believe the turbulent times are behind him: Hugh Despenser is dead and Edward II is forced to abdicate in favour of his young son. It is time to look forward, to a bright new world in which the young king, guided by his council, heals his kingdom and restores its greatness. But the turmoil is far from over.

After years of strife, England in the early months of 1327 is a country in need of stability, and many turn with hope towards the new young king, Edward III. But Edward is too young to rule, so instead it is his mother, Queen Isabella, and her lover, Roger Mortimer, who do the actual governing, much to the dislike of barons such as Henry of Lancaster.

In the north, the Scots take advantage of the weakened state of the realm and raid with impunity. Closer to court, it is Mortimer’s increasing powers that cause concerns – both among his enemies, but also for men like Adam, who loves Mortimer dearly, but loves the young king just as much.

When it is announced that Edward II has died in September of 1327, what has so far been a grumble grows into voluble protests against Mortimer. Yet again, the spectre of rebellion haunts the land, and things are further complicated by the reappearance of one of Adam’s personal enemies. Soon enough, he and his beloved wife Kit are fighting for their survival – even more so when Adam is given a task that puts them both in the gravest of dangers.

“The writing is impeccable. The story has everything. Under the Approaching Dark is just perfect in every sense” – Sharon Bennett Connolly, History The Interesting Bits

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Chapters | IndieBound | Kobo

About the Author

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Anna was raised abroad, on a pungent mix of Latin American culture, English history and Swedish traditions. As a result she’s multilingual and most of her reading is historical- both non-fiction and fiction. Possessed of a lively imagination, she has drawers full of potential stories, all of them set in the past. She was always going to be a writer – or a historian, preferably both. Ideally, Anna aspired to becoming a pioneer time traveller, but science has as yet not advanced to the point of making that possible. Instead she ended up with a degree in Business and Finance, with very little time to spare for her most favourite pursuit. Still, one does as one must, and in between juggling a challenging career Anna raised her four children on a potent combination of invented stories, historical debates and masses of good food and homemade cakes. They seem to thrive…

For years she combined a challenging career with four children and the odd snatched moment of writing. Nowadays Anna spends most of her spare time at her writing desk. The children are half grown, the house is at times eerily silent and she slips away into her imaginary world, with her imaginary characters. Every now and then the one and only man in her life pops his head in to ensure she’s still there.

Other than on her website, www.annabelfrage.com, Anna can mostly be found on her blog, http://annabelfrage.wordpress.com – unless, of course, she is submerged in writing her next novel. You can also connect with Anna on Facebook, Twitter and Goodreads.

Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, May 1
Review at Oh, for the Hook of a Book!

Tuesday, May 2
Interview at Let Them Read Books
Spotlight at What Is That Book About

Wednesday, May 3
Review at A Book Drunkard

Thursday, May 4
Review at A Holland Reads

Friday, May 5
Spotlight at The Reading Queen

Monday, May 8
Review at So Many Books, So Little Time

Tuesday, May 9
Review at Just One More Chapter

Wednesday, May 10
Review at A Bookaholic Swede

Thursday, May 11
Review at Pursuing Stacie

Friday, May 12
Spotlight at Passages to the Past

Monday, May 15
Review at Historical Fiction Obsession

Tuesday, May 16
Review at Back Porchervations
Guest Post at Ms. Stuart Requests the Pleasure of Your Company

Wednesday, May 17
Spotlight at A Literary Vacation

Thursday, May 18
Review at Svetlana’s Reads and Views

Friday, May 19
Review at Beth’s Book Nook Blog

Monday, May 22
Review at CelticLady’s Reviews

Tuesday, May 23
Review at A Chick Who Reads
Review at The Muse in the Fog Book Reviews

Wednesday, May 24
Excerpt at Jo’s Book Blog
Spotlight at The Paperback Princess

Thursday, May 25
Review at Broken Teepee

Friday, May 26
Spotlight at Laura’s Interests

Sunday, May 28
Review at Bookramblings
Review at Books and Benches

Monday, May 29
Guest Post at Yelena Casale’s Blog

Tuesday, May 30
Interview at Dianne Ascroft’s Blog

Giveaway

To win a copy of Under the Approaching Dark by Anna Belfrage, please enter via the Gleam form below.

Rules

– Giveaway ends at 11:59pm EST on May 30th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
– Giveaway is open internationally.
– 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/2f2eV/under-the-appraoching-dark

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HFVBTour BookBlast for LILLI DE JONG by Janet Benton

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Lilli de Jong by Janet Benton

Publication Date: May 16, 2017
Nan A. Talese
Hardcover & eBook; 352 Pages

Genre: Fiction/Historical/Literary

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READ AN EXCERPT.

A young woman finds the most powerful love of her life when she gives birth at an institution for unwed mothers in 1883 Philadelphia. She is told she must give up her daughter to avoid lifelong poverty and shame. But she chooses to keep her.

Pregnant, left behind by her lover, and banished from her Quaker home and teaching position, Lilli de Jong enters a home for wronged women to deliver her child. She is stunned at how much her infant needs her and at how quickly their bond overtakes her heart. Mothers in her position face disabling prejudice, which is why most give up their newborns. But Lilli can’t accept such an outcome. Instead, she braves moral condemnation and financial ruin in a quest to keep herself and her baby alive.

Confiding their story to her diary as it unfolds, Lilli takes readers from an impoverished charity to a wealthy family’s home to the streets of a burgeoning American city. Drawing on rich history, Lilli de Jong is both an intimate portrait of loves lost and found and a testament to the work of mothers. “So little is permissible for a woman,” writes Lilli, “yet on her back every human climbs to adulthood.”

Available for Pre-Order at
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-a-Million | iTunes | IndieBound | Kobo | Powell’s

Praise for Lilli de Jong

“Lilli de Jong, discharged from her teaching job and banished from Quaker meetings because of her father’s selfish choice, finds comfort in the affections of her father’s apprentice, Johan. The night before he leaves to embark on a new life, she succumbs to his embrace with his promise that he will send for her. Soon thereafter, a pregnant Lilli finds herself shunned and alone, her only option a Philadelphia charity for wronged women. Knowing that she must relinquish her newborn, she is unprepared for the love that she feels for her daughter. Lilli quickly decides to fight to keep her, but in 1883 that means a life of hardship and deprivation. Telling Lilli’s story in diary form, debut author Benton has written a captivating, page-turning, and well-researched novel about the power of a mother’s love and the stark reality of the choices she must make. VERDICT A great choice for book clubs and readers of Geraldine Brooks.” – Library Journal, Starred Review

“A powerful, authentic voice for a generation of women whose struggles were erased from history—a heart-smashing debut that completely satisfies.” —Jamie Ford, New York Times bestselling author of Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet

“Beautifully written, emotionally resonant, and psychologically astute, Lilli de Jong is the story of an unwed mother in late 19th-century Philadelphia who, facing peril at every turn, will do almost anything to keep her daughter alive. Benton turns a laser eye to her subject, exposing the sanctimony, hypocrisies, and pervasive sexism that kept women confined and unequal in the Victorian era—and that still bedevil many women today. A gripping read.” —Christina Baker Kline, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Orphan Train and A Piece of the World

“A stunning ode to motherhood. Lilli de Jong reminds us that there is no formula to being a good mother. Love is the essential ingredient, and only it gives everlasting life to our legacies. A debut of robust heart that will stay with me for a very long time.” —Sarah McCoy, author of The Mapmaker’s Children

“Janet Benton’s remarkable novel Lilli de Jong is historical fiction that transcends the genre and recalls a past world so thoroughly that it breathes upon the page. From the first sentence, Lilli’s sensitive, observant, determined voice casts an irresistible spell. Benton combines rich, carefully researched detail with an imaginative boldness that is a joy to behold—though reader, be warned: Lilli’s story may break your heart.” —Valerie Martin, author of The Ghost of the Mary Celeste

“[A] gorgeously written debut . . . Lilli’s fight to craft her own life and nurture her bond with her baby is both devastatingly relevant and achingly beautiful. A stunning read about the fierceness of love triumphing over a rigid society.” —Caroline Leavitt, author of Is This Tomorrow

“The trials Lilli undertakes to keep her baby are heart-rending, and it’s a testament to Benton’s skill as a writer that the reader cannot help but bear witness. In a style reminiscent of Geraldine Brooks, she seamlessly weaves accurate historical detail as well as disturbing societal norms into the protagonist’s struggles . . . An absorbing debut from a writer to watch.” —Kirkus Reviews

“A heartrending debut . . . Benton’s exacting research fuels Lilli’s passionate, authentic voice that is ‘as strong as a hand on a drum . . . that pounds its urgent messages across a distance’ . . . Lilli’s inspiring power and touching determination are timeless.” —Publishers Weekly

“A harrowing look at the strictures of nineteenth-century American society. . . . [Lilli] is a full-fledged heroine, persevering despite seemingly insurmountable odds. . . her voice is distinctive, her fierceness driven by a mother’s love.” —Booklist

“I loved this novel. Lilli de Jong is deeply moving and richly imagined, both tragic and joyous. Janet Benton has an exceptional ability to bring history to life . . . It’s not only a compelling, beautifully crafted historical novel, however: it’s also important . . . Lilli’s life-and-death struggle is shockingly common to women even today.” —Sandra Gulland, author of the internationally bestselling Josephine B. Trilogy

“Writing with a historical eye akin to Geraldine Brooks and incisive prose matching that of Anthony Doerr, debut novelist Janet Benton magically weaves a gripping narrative of hardship, redemption, and hope while illuminating a portrait of little-known history. The result is an unforgettable and important reflection on the maternal and, ultimately, the human bond. Stunning!” —Pam Jenoff, author of The Kommandant’s Girl

“A confident debut . . . Sentence by carefully-crafted sentence, Benton ensnares the reader.” —The Millions

About the Author

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Janet Benton’s work has appeared in The New York Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Glimmer Train, and many other publications. She has co-written and edited historical documentaries for television. She holds a B.A. in religious studies from Oberlin College and an M.F.A. in creative writing from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and for decades she has taught writing and helped individuals and organizations craft their stories. She lives in Philadelphia with her husband and daughter. Lilli de Jong is her first novel.

Visit Janet Benton’s website for more information and updates. You can also connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Goodreads.

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Book Blast Schedule

Monday, April 17
Bookfever

Tuesday, April 18
So Many Books, So Little Time

Wednesday, April 19
Luxury Reading

Thursday, April 20
100 Pages a Day
The Never-Ending Book

Friday, April 21
A Book Geek
Caryn, The Book Whisperer

Saturday, April 22
History From a Woman’s Perspective

Monday, April 24
Creating Herstory

Tuesday, April 25
The Book Junkie Reads

Wednesday, April 26
SJ2B House of Books

Thursday, April 27
A Fold in the Spine
One Book Shy of a Full Shelf

Friday, April 28
Just One More Chapter

Monday, May 1
Back Porchervations

Tuesday, May 2
Books & Benches
Oh, for the Hook of a Book

Wednesday, May 3
The Lit Bitch
Unabridged Chick

Thursday, May 4
Beth’s Book Nook Blog

Friday, May 5
Brooke Blogs
Trisha Jenn Reads

Sunday, May 7
A Dream within a Dream

Monday, May 8
Book Nerd

Tuesday, May 9
Broken Teepee
The True Book Addict

Wednesday, May 10
What Is That Book About

Thursday, May 11
CelticLady’s Reviews

Friday, May 12
A Literary Vacation

Monday, May 15
Passages to the Past

 

I am reading this now and hope to review it. Thank you for my review copy and for letting me blast it up! 🙂

 

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THE SECOND MRS. HOCKADAY by Susan Rivers

Wow! I had this book for a while via Net Galley, but only got to it last week. Once I started it, I could not stop and read it in almost one sitting. It was a really intriguing Civil War story, told through various voices and documents – letters, diary entries, court reports – in various voices across years.

Highly recommended for those who enjoy a story of this era, along with some mystery and lots of details that are true to fact!

I have to say, that I never have read a lot from the point of view of a Southern woman trying to keep her farm going doing the War. Every day was a battle of survival, and while this is understandable, the way this novel is written, the facts are so bare and gritty that it shed a new light for me on women’s experience.

Thank you for my e-copy to review!

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HFVBTour for: The Fisherman’s Bride by Catherine Magia

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I am thrilled to be part of this tour for this wonderful book. I started it during Holy Week and it was a wonderful way to tie in to Easter. Beautifully written, the writing evokes the time and setting through prose that is simple yet powerful.

I loved the main character and must admit that I never really thought about the apostles having wives!

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

The Fisherman’s Bride by Catherine Magia

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Publication Date: November 2, 2016
Publisher: Amazon Digital Services LLC, CreateSpace
Kindle & Paperback; 240 Pages

Genre: Historical Fiction/Biblical Fiction/Christian Literature

READ AN EXCERPT.

She has no name. She is not even a footnote. Her tale is hidden behind the well-told fable of her husband, the man who would become Simon Peter, the first Apostle.

Cast off by her family after shunning a wealthy suitor to marry a humble fisherman, her life is fraught with hardship. She endures her husband’s growing restlessness, fish shortages from the Sea of Galilee, and the oppression of an all-powerful Roman Empire over her people. Then her life is forever changed when her dying mother is saved by a miracle performed by a young carpenter—a man who speaks with understanding and acts with compassion. A man who can inspire the extraordinary.

Simon Peter lives on in history as the undaunted martyr of the carpenter. This is the untold story of his young bride. Her journey traverses villages and deserts, love and tradition, and a brewing revolution, to an awakening of faith that challenges everything she has ever known.

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | IndieBound

Praise

“Catherine Magia has penned a moving Christian story that transcends religious boundaries–a novel that occupies the rare space between the historical and the Biblical realms. At once speculative and interpretive, Magia’s vigorous first-person narrative of St. Peter’s wife makes a compelling case for the life, motivation and spirituality of a minor, nameless Biblical character. An ambitious and impressive debut.” -Andrew X. Pham, author of Catfish and Mandala and The Eaves of Heaven: A Life in Three Wars

“Right from the start, the evocative and compelling tone of The Fishman’s Bride casts its line and draws in readers with a deftness that borders on enchantment. Perhaps this is because Catherine Magia uses an uncommon perspective and outsider’s view of events. And, by ‘outsider,’ this means observations that come from beyond Jesus’ inner circle, yet are closely connected by love and association. Also included in the saga are stories of fortunes made and lost, faith thwarted and regained, fathers and daughters, husbands and wives, and the impact of social and political change upon entire communities. Catherine Magia’s attention to embracing the extent of daily living in Biblical times, from different methods of preserving fish to different attitudes encountered during their travels, brings the story to life.

Readers of Christian literature and Biblical retellings will find this story a powerfully written, compelling account of the impact of Jesus on all layers of society, narrated from the eyes of an outsider to his central group of believers who uses the ordinary life experiences of an unnamed wife to chronicle an extraordinary journey of love, faith, and miracles.” -D. Donovan, Senior Reviewer, Midwest Book Review.

About the Author

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Catherine Magia was born in Brooklyn, New York, and moved to New Jersey as a teenager. Although her formal education was in the hard sciences, Catherine has always maintained a passion for the written word, publishing her poetry in several literary journals including the Michigan Quarterly Review.

She discovered the voice of Simon Peter’s wife on a soul-searching journey, a trek through the biblical lands of Israel, Jordan, and Egypt. She spent seven years researching and writing her debut novel, traveling as far as Ephesus, Turkey.

She is working on her second book – the conclusion to The Fisherman’s Bride.

By day, she works as an associate director of marketing research in the development of new cancer medications. She is currently based in Boston.

For more information please visit Catherine Magia’s website and blog.

Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, April 17
Kick Off at Passages to the Past

Tuesday, April 18
Review at History From a Woman’s Perspective

Wednesday, April 19
Excerpt at Broken Teepee

Thursday, April 20
Review at A Chick Who Reads

Friday, April 21
Spotlight at The Paperback Princess

Saturday, April 22
Review at Rainy Day Reviews

Monday, April 24
Guest Post at Let Them Read Books

Tuesday, April 25
Interview at Books, Dreams, Life

Wednesday, April 26
Spotlight at A Literary Vacation

Thursday, April 27
Review at Pursuing Stacie

Friday, April 28
Review at Beth’s Book Nook Blog
Interview at Dianne Ascroft’s Blog

Monday, May 1
Spotlight at Susan Heim on Writing

Tuesday, May 2
Spotlight at CelticLady’s Reviews

Wednesday, May 3
Review at WS Momma Readers Nook

Thursday, May 4
Review at Just One More Chapter

Friday, May 5
Review at Unabridged Chick

Giveaway

To win a copy of The Fisherman’s Bride by Catherine Magia, please enter via the Gleam form below. Two copies are up for grabs!

Rules

– Giveaway ends at 11:59pm EST on May 5th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
– Giveaway is open internationally.
– 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/2Lpey/the-fishermans-bride

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In Farleigh Field by Rhys Bowen

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If you read me at all, you know I love Rhys Bowen’s cozy mysteries, especially the Royal Spyness books. She has recently written a new novel, a stand alone mystery, called In Farleigh Field, which I got via Net Galley (I also was later contacted by Ms. Bowen’s publicist about it).

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This was a great read! I absolutely loved these characters, and the book had a “Downton feel” to it (though this is WWII, not WWI). Each character (the family has several daughters and their are plots for each of them) was interesting in their own right, but I really liked the character of Ben. The poor guy couldn’t catch a break for most of the book and you couldn’t help but like him. I liked the clever plotting (she’s a clever one, that Ms. Bowen!) and of course I love anything set in WWII and in England — win-win!!

If you are having looking for a well-written and well-crafted WWII historical mystery, you should pick up IN FARLEIGH FIELD by Rhys Bowen. I saw online that she did not plan to write more books with these characters. Please reconsider this!

Thank you for my e-copy!

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A Death by Any Other Name by Tessa Arlen

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I am thrilled today to be part of the publicity blog tour for Tessa Arlen’s new mystery novel: A Death by Any Other Name. I’ve read Ms. Arlen’s other cozies: Death Sits Down to Dinner and Death of a Dishonorable Gentleman, and loved them! They are a bit in the Downtown style of Edwardian England with the lady of the house solving mysteries with the help of her trusty housekeeper.

Here’s the overview for this story:

A Death by Any Other Name is a delightful Edwardian mystery set in the English countryside. Building on the success of her last two mysteries in the same series, Tessa Arlen returns us to the same universe full of secrets, intrigue, and, this time, roses.

The elegant Lady Montfort and her redoubtable housekeeper Mrs. Jackson’s services are called upon after a cook is framed and dismissed for poisoning a guest of the Hyde Rose Society. Promising to help her regain her job and her dignity, the pair trek out to the countryside to investigate a murder of concealed passions and secret desires. There, they are to discover a villain of audacious cunning among a group of mild-mannered, amateur rose-breeders. While they investigate, the rumor mill fills with talk about a conflict over in Prussia where someone quite important was shot. There is talk of war and they must race the clock to solve the mystery as the idyllic English summer days count down to the start of WWI.

Brimming with intrigue, Tessa Arlen’s latest does not disappoint.

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Tessa Arlen is a gifted writer, and the pages come alive with the sense of the period. Though this is the third in this series with Lady Monfort, this novel is absolutely a stand alone title as well. Ms. Arlen includes a cast of characters break down at the start of the book, and I found this handy as there were a lot of characters in this novel.

Well, paced and well,plotted, this was a fun read. Highly recommended to those who enjoy cozy mysteries and/or those who may just be missing their Downton fix!

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

 

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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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