I had heard good things about this book, so I was thrilled to recently receive it through Net Galley. It is historical fiction set in Ceylon – now known as Sri Lanka.
I had heard good things about this book, so I was thrilled to recently receive it through Net Galley. It is historical fiction set in Ceylon – now known as Sri Lanka.
I loved Kristy Cambron’s books I’ve read (Sparrow in Terezin; The Butterfly and the Violin), so I was more than thrilled when I was asked to read and review her latest novel: THE RINGMASTER’S WIFE. It’s a historical fiction piece that centers on two women joining in with the circus in the early part of the 1900’s.
Here’s the overview from Amazon:
An ounce of courage.
A leap of faith.
Together, they propel two young women to chase a new life—one that’s reimagined from what they might have become.
In turn-of-the-century America, a young girl dreams of a world that stretches beyond the confi nes of a quiet life on the family farm. With little more than her wit and a cigar box of treasures, Mable steps away from all she knows, seeking the limitless marvels of the Chicago World’s Fair. There, a chance encounter triggers her destiny—a life with a famed showman by the name of John Ringling.
A quarter of a century later, Lady Rosamund Easling boards a ship to America as a last adventure before her arranged marriage. There, the twenties are roaring, and the rich and famous gather at opulent, Gatsby-esque parties. The Jazz Age has arrived, and with it, the golden era of the American circus, whose queen is none other than the enigmatic Mable Ringling.
When Rosamund’s path crosses with Mable’s and the Ringlings’ glittering world, she makes the life-altering decision to leave behind a comfortable future of estates and propriety, choosing instead the nomadic life of a trick rider in the Ringling Brothers’ circus.
A novel that is at once captivating, deeply poignant, and swirling with exquisite historical details of a bygone world, The Ringmaster’s Wife will escort readers into the center ring, with its bright lights, exotic animals, and a dazzling performance that can only be described as the Greatest Show on Earth!
“Vibrant with the glamour and awe that flourished under the Big Top in the 1920s, The Ringmaster’s Wife invites the reader [into] the Greatest Show on Earth.” —Joanne Bischof, award-winning author of The Lady and the Lionheart
If you read me, you know I love my historical fiction and this book was no exception! What an interesting look into a time and place that is no longer with us – the heyday of the American circus. I found the character of Mable Ringling quite fascinating, and spent time afterwards reading about her life online. Kristy’s writing never disappoints and I enjoyed the two storylines – even though they moved a bit in and out of chronology – and I always enjoy strong female characters!
This book is published by the Christian line at Harper Collins (Thomas Nelson) but I did not find this book to be a typical “Christian fiction” piece. Just my opinion! It read as historical fiction about two fascinating women – one whom was just as fascinating in real life.
Thank you, Elizabeth from Smith Publicity, for my ARC review copy!
I had heard about this book a while ago (it publishes on Tuesday the 14th) and I thought I would like it – I was not wrong! Juliette Fay – a new author for me – does a spectacular job of making 1920’s vaudeville come alive through the story of four sisters, and their mother, who create an acrobatic act in order to make money for their family during tough times.
Here’s the overview via Net Galley:
For fans of Orphan Train and Sara Gruen’s Water for Elephants, a compelling historical novel from “one of the best authors of women’s fiction” (Library Journal). Set against the turbulent backdrop of American Vaudeville, four sisters embark on an unexpected adventure—and a last-ditch effort to save their family.
In 1919, the Turner sisters and their parents are barely scraping by. Their father is a low-paid boot-stitcher in Johnson City, New York, and the family is always one paycheck away from eviction. When their father’s hand is crushed and he can no longer work, their irrepressible mother decides that the vaudeville stage is their best—and only—chance for survival.
Traveling by train from town to town, teenagers Gert, Winnie, and Kit, and recent widow Nell soon find a new kind of freedom in the company of performers who are as diverse as their acts. There is a seamier side to the business, however, and the young women face dangers and turns of fate they never could have anticipated. Heartwarming and surprising, The Tumbling Turner Sisters is ultimately a story of awakening—to unexpected possibilities, to love and heartbreak, and to the dawn of a new American era.
Publication Date: June 3, 2014
Formats: eBook, Paperback, Audio
Genre: Historical Fiction
As recovery from World War II begins, expat American Nora Tours travels from her home in southern France to London in search of her missing sixteen-year-old daughter. There, she unexpectedly meets up with an old acquaintance, famous model-turned-photographer Lee Miller. Neither has emerged from the war unscathed. Nora is racked with the fear that her efforts to survive under the Vichy regime may have cost her daughter’s life. Lee suffers from what she witnessed as a war correspondent photographing the liberation of the Nazi concentration camps.
Nora and Lee knew each other in the heady days of late 1920’s Paris, when Nora was giddy with love for her childhood sweetheart, Lee became the celebrated mistress of the artist Man Ray, and Lee’s magnetic beauty drew them all into the glamorous lives of famous artists and their wealthy patrons. But Lee fails to realize that her friendship with Nora is even older, that it goes back to their days as children in Poughkeepsie, New York, when a devastating trauma marked Lee forever. Will Nora’s reunion with Lee give them a chance to forgive past betrayals, and break years of silence?
A novel of freedom and frailty, desire and daring, The Beautiful American portrays the extraordinary relationship between two passionate, unconventional woman.
“Will transport you to expat Paris.” – Suzanne Rindell, author of The Other Typist
“A brilliant, beautifully written literary masterpiece” – Sandra Dallas, author of Fallen Women
“Leaves its essence of love, loss, regret and hope long after the novel concludes.” – Erika Robuck, author of Fallen Beauty
“Achingly beautiful and utterly mesmerizing…her vividly drawn characters…come heartbreakingly alive in their obsessions, tragedies and triumphs” – Jennifer Robson, author of Somewhere in France
“From Poughkeepsie to Paris, from the razzmatazz of the twenties to the turmoil of World War Two and the perfume factories of Grasse, Mackin draws you into the world of expatriate artists and photographers and tells a story of love, betrayal, survival and friendship…an engaging and unforgettable novel” – Renee Rosen, author Doll Face
Jeanne Mackin’s novel, The Beautiful American (New American Library), based on the life of photographer and war correspondent Lee Miller, received the 2014 CNY award for fiction. Her other novels include A Lady of Good Family, about gilded age personality Beatrix Farrand, The Sweet By and By, about nineteenth century spiritualist Maggie Fox, Dreams of Empire set in Napoleonic Egypt, The Queen’s War, about Eleanor of Aquitaine, and The Frenchwoman, set in revolutionary France and the Pennsylvania wilderness.
Jeanne Mackin is also the author of the Cornell Book of Herbs and Edible Flowers (Cornell University publications) and co-editor of The Book of Love (W.W. Norton.) She was the recipient of a creative writing fellowship from the American Antiquarian Society and a keynote speaker for The Dickens Fellowship. Her work in journalism won awards from the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education, in Washington, D.C. She has taught or conducted workshops in Pennsylvania, Hawaii and at Goddard College in Vermont.
Here I am!
I am really excited to be part of this blog tour through Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours. I received an audiobook CD version of this novel and listened to it during my new, lengthy commute. This was a somewhat sad story, but interesting. 1920’s was truly a heyday in Paris and I’ve always found the ex-pat lifestyle of that time quite fascinating and love to read about it. If you read me regularly, you know I love reading about the WWII era, and this book moved into the war and the characters’ experiences before and afterwards. I found Nora’s search for her daughter heart-wreching, and kept my fingers crossed for a happy ending!
These characters were based on real people, which made the storyline even more poignant. I had never heard of Lee Miller and her work in photography. The CD’s (ten of them) moved quickly and Mackin’s writing flows easily. Her words are read in a smooth, soothing style by Kate Reading.
This was a compelling story that would engage readers who like to read of this era. Thank you for my review CD’s!
But wait – there’s more!
You can enter to win a free copy of this novel — go to:
I’m a stop on the historical fiction blog tour for Laini Giles’ novel: THE FORGOTTEN FLAPPER. I absolutely loved this creative novel which focuses on Olive Thomas, a real life star of stage and early film. In the novel, the ghost of Olive is living at the New Amsterdam Theater in NYC. She delves into her past and tells her story, from growing up in the midwest to becoming a star, to her work with some of the biggest names of the day. She focuses on her marriage to Jack Pickford (Mary Pickford’s brother) and then her untimely death. Her character and voice is so strong throughout this story, that I looked up Olive Thomas afterwards and found out more about her. Here’s a picture of her, taken from google images:
I found Olive fascinating and just like the novel’s ghost, she continues to haunt me. I love just about any story about the early days of Hollywood and the heyday of big name classic movie stars, but this one is a stand out. It looks like it’s the start of a series of books about actresses so I can’t wait for the next one! Thank you for my review e-copy and making me part of the tour!
Here’s what HFBVT has to say:
Publication Date: August 1, 2015
Publisher: Sepia Stories Publishing
Formats: eBook & Trade Paperback
Genre: Historical Fiction/Biographical
A presence lurks in New York City’s New Amsterdam Theatre when the lights go down and the audience goes home. They say she’s the ghost of Olive Thomas, one of the loveliest girls who ever lit up the Ziegfeld Follies and the silent screen. From her longtime home at the theater, Ollie’s ghost tells her story from her early life in Pittsburgh to her tragic death at twenty-five.
After winning a contest for “The Most Beautiful Girl in New York,” shopgirl Ollie modeled for the most famous artists in New York, and then went on to become the toast of Broadway. When Hollywood beckoned, Ollie signed first with Triangle Pictures, and then with Myron Selznick’s new production company, becoming most well known for her work as a “baby vamp,” the precursor to the flappers of the 1920s.
After a stormy courtship, she married playboy Jack Pickford, Mary Pickford’s wastrel brother. Together they developed a reputation for drinking, club-going, wrecking cars, and fighting, along with giving each other expensive make-up gifts. Ollie’s mysterious death in Paris’ Ritz Hotel in 1920 was one of Hollywood’s first scandals, ensuring that her legend lived on.
A native of Austin, Texas, Laini Giles grew up the daughter of bookworms, and became a Nancy Drew devotee early on. When she realized there might be no escape from hairy tarantulas and bad guys with guns, she put her detective dreams on hold and wrote about them instead, finishing her first mystery novel with custom illustrations when she was eight. It was this love of mystery combined with a love of old MGM musicals and The Marx Brothers that led her to check Kenneth Anger’s Hollywood Babylon out of the library during her formative years. Ideas began to simmer.
A graduate of the University of North Texas, she put the writing on hold for a while when real life got in the way (i.e.—she met and married her Canadian husband and headed north for maple-flavored goodies and real beer). She highly recommends moving to another country and not being able to work for a year for finishing any novels you may have laying around.
Laini and her husband live in Edmonton, Alberta with their three gray girl cats, nicknamed The Supremes.
Monday, August 3
Kick Off & Giveaway at Passages to the Past
Tuesday, August 4
Interview at The Maiden’s Court
Wednesday, August 5
Book Blast/Spotlight at History From a Woman’s Perspective
Thursday, August 6
Review at Book Nerd
Friday, August 7
Book Blast/Spotlight at What Is That Book About
Monday, August 10
Review at Book Babe
Tuesday, August 11
Book Blast/Spotlight at Room With Books
Thursday, August 13
Review at Beth’s Book Nook Blog
Friday, August 14
Spotlight & Giveaway at To Read, or Not to Read
Saturday, August 15
Book Blast/Spotlight at Please Pass the Books
Monday, August 17
Book Blast/Spotlight at A Literary Vacation
Tuesday, August 18
Book Blast/Spotlight at Let Them Read Books
Wednesday, August 19
Review at A Book Drunkard
Thursday, August 20
Spotlight & Giveaway at View From the Birdhouse
Friday, August 21
Book Blast/Spotlight at CelticLady’s Reviews
Monday, August 24
Review at A Chick Who Reads
Wednesday, August 26
Review & Giveaway at Raven Haired Girl
Thursday, August 27
Book Blast/Spotlight at Svetlana’s Reads and Views
Publishing at the end of the month (July 28, 2015) is a really fantastic novel about female aviator Beryl Markham: Paula McLain’s CIRCLING THE SUN.
I first heard of Beryl Markham when I read her memoir, WEST WITH THE NIGHT. I was going through a “female aviator phase” and was reading about Anne Lindbergh (my personal hero – don’t get me started!), Amelia Earhart, and Beryl Markham. I had not heard of Beryl before, but found her absolutely fascinating! Beryl was English, but grew up in Kenya in the early years of the 1900’s. Her mother deserted her and her father and returned to England. Beryl was a wild child: precocious, tough, and in love with the land and culture of Africa. Nothing stopped her. Again and again she pushed against the restrictions against women. She became a noted horse trainer (first female). She became a bush pilot. She actually is the first female aviator to fly across the Atlantic east to west. A very personal side of Beryl is shown in this novel – her loves, her triumphs, her foibles. The love triangle with her, Karen von Blixen (Out of Africa author), and Denys Finch Hatten is portrayed in depth here. In all, you come to know Beryl Markham intimately.
I loved McLain’s earlier work, THE PARIS WIFE, and loved this novel, too. These characters came alive and are still with me, weeks after I finished the novel. They are so interesting – so real – so human. Don’t miss this one.
And if you like it, read Beryl’s own WEST WITH THE NIGHT.
Find them at an indie near you (I am an Indie Bound Affiliate):
Thank you, Net Galley and Random House Ballantine, for my review copy!
Today I am part of the virtual book tour for Margaret Verble’s new book: MAUD’S LINE, a story of a Native American teen and her family during the Depression. Here’s what HFVBT has to say:
Publication Date: July 14, 2015
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Formats: eBook, Hardcover
Genre: Historical Fiction
A debut novel chronicling the life and loves of a headstrong, earthy, and magnetic heroine
Eastern Oklahoma, 1928. Eighteen-year-old Maud Nail lives with her rogue father and sensitive brother on one of the allotments parceled out by the U.S. Government to the Cherokees when their land was confiscated for Oklahoma’s statehood. Maud’s days are filled with hard work and simple pleasures, but often marked by violence and tragedy, a fact that she accepts with determined practicality. Her prospects for a better life are slim, but when a newcomer with good looks and books rides down her section line, she takes notice. Soon she finds herself facing a series of high-stakes decisions that will determine her future and those of her loved ones.
Maud’s Line is accessible, sensuous, and vivid. It will sit on the bookshelf alongside novels by Jim Harrison, Louise Erdrich, Sherman Alexie, and other beloved chroniclers of the American West and its people.
“Maud is refreshingly open and honest about her own sexuality though conscious of her place as a woman in a sexist society, always careful not to insult the intelligence or manhood of her male friends and relations. Verble writes in a simple style that matches the hardscrabble setting and plainspoken characters. Verble, herself a member of the Cherokee Nation, tells a compelling story peopled with flawed yet sympathetic characters, sharing insights into Cherokee society on the parcels of land allotted to them after the Trail of Tears.” —Kirkus
“Writing as though Daniel Woodrell nods over one shoulder and the spirit of Willa Cather over the other, Margaret Verble gives us Maud, a gun-toting, book-loving, dream-chasing young woman whose often agonizing dilemmas can only be countered by sheer strength of heart.” —Malcolm Brooks, author of Painted Horses
“I want to live with Maud in a little farm in a little valley under the shadow of a mountain wall. Maud’s Line is an absolutely wonderful novel and Margaret Verble can drop you from great heights and still easily pick you up. I will read anything she writes, with enthusiasm.” —Jim Harrison, author of Dalva, Legends of the Fall, and The Big Seven
“Margaret Verble gives us a gorgeous window onto the Cherokee world in Oklahoma, 1927. Verble’s voice is utterly authentic, tender and funny, vivid and smart, and she creates a living community – the Nail family, Maud herself, her father, Mustard, and brother, Lovely, and the brothers Blue and Early, the quiet, tender-mouthed mare Leaf, and the big landscape of the bottoms – the land given to the Cherokees after the Trail of Tears. Beyond the allotments, it opens up into the wild, which is more or less what Verble does with this narrative. A wonderful debut novel.” —Roxana Robinson, author of Sparta
MARGARET VERBLE, an enrolled member of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma, has set her novel on her family’s allotment land. She currently lives in Lexington, Kentucky, and Old Windsor, England.
This book was so interesting to me. I haven’t read too many novels from the Native American perspective that take place in the 20th century beyond the work of Louise Erdrich (whom I love!). I loved the character of Maud. She was strong and smart and driven. She was very in touch with her sexuality and not embarrassed by it. She certainly faced a large amount of trials and never gave up. I found the information about living on allotted land at that time interesting. Clearly Maud was in a world that was male dominated and the laws favored men for land ownership. At the end, Maud must decide what path to take in life and what is important to her — how her family and community play a role in her identity and what she wants in life.
Great debut novel! Thank you for making me part of the tour and for my review e-copy!
You, too, can follow the tour:
Monday, July 13
Review & Giveaway at Broken Teepee
Wednesday, July 15
Review at A Book Geek
Thursday, July 16
Review at Beth’s Book Nook Blog
Friday, July 17
Excerpt & Giveaway at Teddy Rose Book Review Plus More
Saturday, July 18
Review at Queen of All She Reads
Monday, July 20
Review at Book Nerd
Tuesday, July 21
Guest Post at Just One More Chapter
Friday, July 24
Spotlight & Giveaway at Passages to the Past
We are blasting it up today to celebrate C.W. Gortner’s newly published book: MADEMOISELLE CHANEL — which is definitely on my TBR list!!
Here’s some info from HFVBT —
Publication Date: March 17, 2015
Formats: Hardover, eBook, Audio Book
Genre: Historical Fiction
DRAMA, PASSION, TRAGEDY, AND BEAUTY: C.W.’s new novel stunningly imagines the life of Coco Chanel—the iconic fashion designer whose staggering creativity built an empire and made her one of the 20th century’s most influential, and controversial, figures.
Born into rural poverty, Gabrielle Chanel and her sisters are sent to a convent orphanage after their mother’s death. Here, the nuns nurture Gabrielle’s exceptional sewing skills, a talent that will propel her into a life far removed from the drudgery of her childhood.
Transforming herself into Coco—a seamstress and sometime torch singer—the petite brunette burns with ambition, an incandescence that draws a wealthy gentleman who will become the love of her life. She immerses herself in his world of money and luxury, discovering a freedom that sparks her creativity. But it is only when her lover takes her to Paris that Coco discovers her destiny.
Rejecting the frilly, corseted silhouette of the past, her sleek minimalist styles reflect the youthful ease and confidence of the 1920s modern woman. As Coco’s reputation spreads, her couturier business explodes, taking her into rarefied society circles and bohemian salons. Her little black dress, her signature perfume No. 5; her dramatic friendships, affairs, and rivalries with luminaries of her era increase her wealth and fame. But as the years pass, success cannot save her from heartbreak. And when Paris falls to the Nazis during World War II, Coco finds herself at a dangerous crossroads, forced to make choices that will forever change her.
An enthralling portrayal of an extraordinary woman who created the life she desired, Mademoiselle Chanel is Coco’s intimate story.
“In this deliciously satisfying novel, C.W. Gortner tells the epic, rags-to-riches story of how this brilliant, mercurial, self-created woman became a legend.” (Christina Baker Kline, New York Times bestselling author of Orphan Train)
“In a novel as brilliant and complicated as Coco Chanel herself, C. W. Gortner’s prose is so electric and luminous it could be a film, and not just any film, but one of the grandest biopics of our time. Divine!” (Erika Robuck, bestselling author of Hemingway’s Girl)
“A richly imagined, deftly researched novel, in which the ever fascinating Coco Chanel comes to life in all her woe and splendor, her story unfolding as elegantly as a Chanel gown.” (Cathy Marie Buchanan, author of The Painted Girls)
“From her heart-wrenching early years through her decades of struggle and glory, Gabrielle Chanel was fascinating—as is C.W. Gortner’s Mademoiselle Chanel. Coco lives again in this rich tale of brilliance, determination, and fierce self-creation.” (Ania Szado, author of Studio Saint-Ex)
“Gortner brings to life a woman who was as alluring and captivating as her signature scent. ” (Historical Novels Review)
“Gortner brings history to life in a fascinating study of one woman’s unstoppable ambition.” (Booklist)
“Well-written and historically accurate . . . An homage to a couture icon whose influence is still powerful today.” (Kirkus Reviews)
C.W. GORTNER holds an MFA in Writing with an emphasis in Renaissance Studies from the New College of California, as well as an AA from the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising in San Francisco.
After an eleven year-long career in fashion, during which he worked as a vintage retail buyer, freelance publicist, and fashion show coordinator, C.W. devoted the next twelve years to the public health sector. In 2012, he became a full-time writer following the international success of his novels.
In his extensive travels to research his books, he has danced a galliard at Hampton Court, learned about organic gardening at Chenoceaux, and spent a chilly night in a ruined Spanish castle. His books have garnered widespread acclaim and been translated into twenty-one languages to date, with over 400,000 copies sold. A sought-after public speaker. C.W. has given keynote addresses at writer conferences in the US and abroad. He is also a dedicated advocate for animal rights, in particular companion animal rescue to reduce shelter overcrowding.
C.W. recently completed his fourth novel for Ballantine Books, about Lucrezia Borgia; the third novel in his Tudor Spymaster series for St Martin’s Press; and a new novel about the dramatic, glamorous life of Coco Chanel, scheduled for lead title publication by William Morrow, Harper Collins, in the spring of 2015.
Half-Spanish by birth and raised in southern Spain, C.W. now lives in Northern California with his partner and two very spoiled rescue cats.
Three Chanel-style black and white beaded bracelets will up for grabs during this blast, follow along for chances to win!
– Giveaway starts on March 17th at 12:01am and ends on April 3rd at 11:59pm EST.
– Must be 18 or older to enter.
– Giveaway is open to US residents 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.
Here is the link to the Mademoiselle Chanel giveaway: https://gleam.io/n4EVt/mademoiselle-chanel-book-blast-giveaway.
When I saw DREAMING SPIES come up on Net Galley, I thought it looked like something I’d enjoy: Sherlock Holmes and his wife, Mary Russell, solving mysteries. I am not sure how I’ve missed this series as I’m a HUGE Holmes fan. Of course just about everyone is a fan of the new series with Benedict, and I enjoy it, but I’m a Holmes fan from way back. I’ve read all Conan Doyle’s stories numerous times (there aren’t a ton) and I love love loved the PBS series with Jeremy Brett. He was just the perfect Holmes to me. So what fun to find a whole series of stories that are about Holmes and his wife — who is obviously created for this series if you know Holmes – the intelligent and intrepid Mary Russell.
In this story, the time line moves back and forth, from a mystery worked on a few years earlier in Japan to the present (1920’s) in Oxford, England. Holmes and Russell were traveling aboard a cruise ship to Japan when they met a pleasant young woman, Sato, who offers to help educate the crew in the culture and manners of Japan. It turns out that she is a ninja, from a family of ninjas, and she needs their help. A book was given by their Emperor to the King of England as a gift, but it has something tucked inside it which must not be seen. Now the Emperor is being blackmailed in order for him to get the book back.
The storyline takes place in basically three locales: aboard the ship, in Japan, back in England. Ms. King has filled her novel with interesting details about life and the culture in Japan in the 1920’s. Having just taken a cruise last summer, I found the cruise ship part interesting, though I think our Disney Magic was more comfortable than Holmes’ and Russell’s ship!
I have to be honest, I did fear that I would start to read this book and Holmes would not seem like Holmes to me; or Mary would seem anachronistic, or something else would happen that would make me feel it was an absurd attempt to incorporate this iconic character into something new (remember I didn’t read the whole series or even know about it until afterwards). I was not disappointed. Holmes behaved just like Holmes should. Mary is front and center, but that is no surprise as this is somewhat her series. Stylistically, the writing was what I would expect from a classic British mystery. All in all, I just loved it!
For a few more days, I’m running a giveaway:
You can see this book at an indie near you — check out the whole series! (I am an indie bound affiliate) and thank you, Net Galley, for my ARC!:
Find it at an Indie!
Publishing on the 17th, is this fun book which I loved (review coming on Feb. 14).
DREAMING SPIES is the latest in the series of mysteries featuring Sherlock Holmes and his wife, Mary Russell.
Here’s a book trailer via You Tube:
I’ve been sent a beautiful hard cover copy from Random House marketing to give to a winner.
To enter, please leave a comment and also let me know how to contact you if you are the winner.
I’m afraid it has to be US only since I’m footing the bill for shipping.
I will use random.org to choose a winner.
Giveaway will be open until 12:01 am 2/21/15. One entry person.