Thursday, March 21, 2019

0 Review: The True Queen


The True Queen (Sorcerer Royal #2)
by Zen Cho
Paperback, 384 pages
Published March 12th 2019 by Ace Books
9780425283417

Summary

When sisters Muna and Sakti wake up on the peaceful beach of the island of Janda Baik, they can’t remember anything, except that they are bound as only sisters can be. They have been cursed by an unknown enchanter, and slowly Sakti starts to fade away. The only hope of saving her is to go to distant Britain, where the Sorceress Royal has established an academy to train women in magic.

If Muna is to save her sister, she must learn to navigate high society, and trick the English magicians into believing she is a magical prodigy. As she's drawn into their intrigues, she must uncover the secrets of her past, and journey into a world with more magic than she had ever dreamed.

My Thoughts


*I received a copy of this book from the publisher for review purposes. It has in no way influenced my opinion.

Last week I reviewed Sorcerer to the Crown. (If you'd like to read my review, click here.) I fell head over heals for that book. And I was ecstatic to jump back into the world that Zen Cho has created. If you haven't had a chance to read Sorcerer to the Crown yet, don't worry, this book can be read as a standalone. However, you're going to want to read the first book because it's awesome.

The True Queen takes place two years after Sorcerer to the Crown ended. The book begins with two sisters, Muna and Satki, waking up on a beach. They have no memory of who they are or how they got there. The only thing they do know is that they're sisters. And they're cursed. Satki is slowly disappearing, so they are sent to the Sorceress Royal by Mak Genggang. On the way there, Satki disappears. Muna must head to England and find a way to save her sister. 

Dragons, capers, mysteries, regency era, balls, fairies, magicians, and that's just the first few chapters. Cho could have gone in any direction for the second book in this series, but I love the way she went. Her characters are, once again, fantastic. The story line had me glued to the pages. I just want more of this type of novel. It checks so many boxes on my list that I can't wait for the third book in this series to come out.


Monday, March 18, 2019

1 Book Blast: Josephine's Daughter by A.B. Michaels #JosephinesDaughter #ABMichaels #BookBlast #PreOrder #HFVBTBlogTours

Josephine's Daughter
by A.B. Michaels

Publication Date: March 10, 2019
Red Trumpet Press
eBook; 395 Pages





What's worse than a mother like Josephine? Turning out to be just like her.

In the late nineteenth century, wealthy and headstrong Kit Firestone chafes under the strictures of the Golden City’s high society, especially the interference of her charming but overbearing mother, Josephine. Kit’s secret rebellion leads to potentially catastrophic results and keeps her from finding true happiness.

When her brother nearly dies from a dangerous infection, Kit defies convention and becomes a working nurse. Through her troubled romance with a young doctor and a series of dramatic events, including a natural disaster and her mother’s own critical illness, Kit begins to understand who her mother truly is and what their relationship is all about. She may not get the chance to appreciate their bond, however, because, through no fault of her own, a madman has Kit in his crosshairs.

"...the novel's fast-paced narrative and engaging dialogue will draw readers in from the start. It's full of intriguing details about San Francisco near the turn of the last century,... A solidly entertaining, feminist tale that's also well-suited for medical-history buffs." Kirkus Reviews


About the Author

A native of northern California, A.B. Michaels earned masters' degrees in history and broadcasting, and worked for many years in public relations and marketing. Now that she's an empty nester, she has time to write the kinds of stories she loves to read. Her historical series, "The Golden City," follows characters who make their way in turn of the twentieth century San Francisco. "I love creating flawed characters I can relate to, who have to make difficult choices, and who long for happiness like the rest of us. So much was happening in the early 1900's that help shape my novels. Once I tear myself away from the underlying research, they are fascinating stories to write."

Currently, Ms. Michaels lives in Boise, Idaho with her husband and two furry creatures who are unclear on the concept that they are just dogs. In addition to writing, she loves to read and travel. A dabbler in fabric art, she also plays bocce in a summer league.




Friday, March 15, 2019

0 Review: Sorcerer to the Crown


Sorcerer to the Crown (Sorcerer Royal #1)
by Zen Cho 
Paperback, 384 pages
Published July 12th 2016 by Ace
9780425283400

Summary

At his wit’s end, Zacharias Wythe, freed slave, eminently proficient magician, and Sorcerer Royal of the Unnatural Philosophers—one of the most respected organizations throughout all of Britain—ventures to the border of Fairyland to discover why England’s magical stocks are drying up.

But when his adventure brings him in contact with a most unusual comrade, a woman with immense power and an unfathomable gift, he sets on a path which will alter the nature of sorcery in all of Britain—and the world at large… 

My Thoughts

*I received a copy of this book from Ace for reviewing purposes. This in no way influenced my opinion.

Tor.com describes this book as Jane Austen crossed with Susanna Clarke and Ignatius Sanco. Their blurb sold me on this book. I'm a huge Austen fan, but I also love a good fantasy. Magic and political intrigue check my "I want to read that book" boxes. Not to mention, the cover is absolutely gorgeous! 

The award wining Zen Cho creates a mysterious, magical world that is everything you expect it to be plus much more. Zacharias Wythe is the main character of the book. He is the Sorcerer Royal of the Unnatural Philosophers. He's also a freed slave and faces many obstacles and prejudice from the other philosophers, not to mention somebody is trying to murder him. The society is in a bit of trouble when magic starts to dry up.

On his travels, Zacharias meets Prunella Gentleman. She's a fierce, kickass woman, who is also a very talented magician. The only problem is women in this era are taught to suppress their magical abilities. But Prunella wants to change that with the help of Zacharias. Mystery and intrigue also surround Prunella as she starts to uncover the truth about her past.

I love everything about this book. The characters are fantastic and dynamic. The story line is fast-paced and clever. I love the era that it's set it. The manners, the clothes, I love it all. I also love how Cho takes this already familiar world and builds upon it. The magical world that she built is as diverse as her characters. Cho is a gifted writer who has enchanted this reader. I can't wait to read the next book in this series. It's everything I've been wanting and more.

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

0 Conversation with Christopher Castellani

LEADING MEN
By Christopher Castellani
Viking
Hardcover
On Sale: February 12, 2019
ISBN: 9780525559054
Price: $27.00

 CONVERSATION WITH CHRISTOPHER CASTELLANI


1. LEADING MEN is based on the real-life love affair between legendary playwright
Tennessee Williams and Frank Merlo. What first attracted you to their love story, and why did you decide to explore it in the form of a novel?

I’d always been a fan of Williams’s plays—especially Suddenly, Last Summer and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof—but I didn’t know much about his life until I stumbled upon Dotson Rader’s 1985 memoir, Tennessee: Cry of the Heart at a used bookstore in 1997. It was in those pages where I first met Frank Merlo, this working-class gay Italian guy from Jersey who’d been Williams’s longtime lover, and who died at forty after days of waiting for one last visit from him. I myself was a twenty-five year-old working-class gay Italian guy from Delaware with dreams of being a writer, feeling an instant kinship—which eventually became an obsession—with both men: the neurotic and ambitious Tenn and the steadfast and searching Frank.

I wrote them into a short story in my MFA program, but the story didn’t quite work, so I wisely expanded it into an even more glaringly flawed novella. The idea wasn’t “big enough” for a novel, I feared, and, worse, I didn’t fully believe I had the right to write about them. It took reading Christopher Bram’s Gods and Monsters, Michael Cunningham’s The Hours, and Colm Toibin’s The Master to convince me I could fashion these real people into fictional characters, and it took learning about the fate of another real-life literary couple—John Horne (“Jack”) Burns and Sandro Nencini, contemporaries of Frank and Tenn—to widen the lens of the novel.

2.  How did you approach your research for the novel, and did you find anything particularly interesting or surprising along the way?

I spent nearly twenty years dipping in and out of as many texts as possible – Williams’s and

Merlo’s and Burns’s letters and journals, all the biographies, all of their fiction and plays and poetry and criticism. There’s a lot. I didn’t read to add to their biographies; I read to find the cracks in them, a place where my imagination could take root. I retraced the steps of the four men in the various places they lived in Italy: Portofino, Florence, Rome, Livorno. I talked at length with Burns’s brother, Tom, well into his nineties at the time. I was surprised at every turn: by the cosmic  connections between these four men who never officially met, and between them and my own life; by their shared sensibilities and tensions; by the theories as to whether or not Sandro murdered Jack (the jury is still out, but Leading Men puts forth one potential scenario);  by the honesty and openness of their romantic and sexual relationships, and—most compelling to me—how little attention Frank Merlo has received in the many books and essays written about Tennessee Williams. The more I researched, the more convinced I became of the profundity of his influence on the great playwright’s life and work. 

3. Frank and Tennessee were together for fifteen years. Why did you decide to focus specifically on their time together in Italy?

While reading Williams’s collected journals, which he kept regularly, I noticed there were no entries between “circa Tuesday 28 July or Wednesday, 29 July 1953” and “Friday, 7 August 1953,” when he and Merlo were living in Rome. In his collected letters to Maria Britneva, I learned that Truman Capote had sent them an invitation to join him in Portofino around that same time. When I realized that John Horne Burns died a few days later under mysterious circumstances, I knew I had to set the story during that “missing week.”

Though Williams and Merlo traveled extensively and constantly, often apart, they returned together regularly to Italy, where they spent some of their happiest summers. Like fiction itself, though, their relationship thrived on trouble, and so it felt right to set the novel in the stormy summer of 1953, when Frank’s ongoing affair with a Roman man named Alvaro came to a head, and when Tenn escaped to Barcelona to avoid Frank’s perceived cruelty.

And finally, when I read in Capote’s July 1953 letter to David O. Selznick that one of the big scandals in Portofino that summer concerned a Swedish mother and daughter who were sleeping with the same fishermen, I knew I had another storyline—a completely fictional one—to somehow weave into the lives of these four men. I just had to figure out who these women were…


4. Almost all of the characters in LEADING MEN are based on real people in Tennessee’s elite literary circle, with the exception of Anja Bloom – an aspiring actress the pair meets at one of Truman Capote’s parties. Why did you invent the fictional character of Anja to accompany the very real characters of Frank and Tennessee? Was she inspired by anyone in particular?

I always sensed that, for this novel to work, it needed the “air” that only a character and a time period outside the four men’s tight circle could provide. Not only would an entire book set in 1953 Italy feel claustrophobic, it wouldn’t be true to the breadth and depth and impact of these influential lives; nor would it account for the important role that women—especially actresses as muses—played in William’s life in particular and in the lives of gay men in general. Also: so much of the book was already about the role of the “man behind the famous man;” what about the inner life of the famous woman who’d had many leading men of her own? This is what, I hope, makes Frank and Anja such complementary main characters, and why I was so compelled and moved by the idea of their friendship.

That said, Anja’s most significant leading man was not Frank, the friend of her youth, or Pieter, her husband, or Hovland, her director and former lover, but the father she abandoned. This dimension of her character fascinated me, and it also unlocked so many of the themes that run through the novel. Without Anja as the hinge between the two main time zones of the novel, I don’t think I would have fully understood how the entire story fit together.

Some have assumed Anja is based on Maria Britneva, Williams’s controversial longtime friend, ambitious actress, and eventual executor of his estate, whom I deliberately omitted from this novel. But it was Liv Ullmann, not Britneva, who first inspired Anja, after a chance conversation I had with her at a dinner party, and which she has surely forgotten. In that conversation, Ullmann briefly and vividly described both the loneliness of living in cold, unforgiving Boston, and also the one memorable time many decades ago when she met Williams in the lobby of a hotel in Paris. I asked myself, “what if that young Swedish daughter who caused the Portofino scandal turned out to be someone like Ullmann?” And then: “what if she’d held onto something from her time in Italy in 1953, something that becomes part of a present-day drama?” I didn’t know what that thing might be, so I wrote in order to find out.

5. LEADING MEN jumps through several different time periods, one of which features an aging Anja in possession of a manuscript for Tennessee’s “final play,” Call It Joy – which you created and included in full. What was it like trying to channel one of America’s most famous playwrights, particularly during his period of decline?

I put off writing Call It Joy for as long as I possibly could, almost convincing myself that I didn’t need its full text in the novel. But given how much of Leading Men’s plot hinges on its production, and, given the opportunity it gave me to let Williams “speak” about Frank one final time through this imaginary play, I knew I had no choice but to include it. In retrospect, it would have been cowardly not to give readers the play in its entirety. I hope Williams fans and scholars will forgive me for my audacity – that they will see Call It Joy not as a parody but as an homage.

For the play’s content, I actually plagiarized myself: the story of a well-meaning bartender who tricks Williams into taking home a Frank Merlo look-alike in 1982 is the plot of that flawed short story I wrote back in my MFA program. I just needed to work up the courage to turn this content from a half-baked Castellani short story to a late one-act by the then-desperate and then-brain-addled Tennessee Williams. I tried hard to make it a “failed play” that was still readable and that still pushed the plot of Leading Men forward. I wanted it to mean something different to each character: to Tenn, to Anja, and to the young men who convince Anja to mount it in Provincetown.

6. Many alternative history books focus on respected literary figures, such as Michael
Cunningham’s The Hours (Virginia Woolf) and Colm Toíbín’s The Master (Henry James). However, LEADING MEN concentrates on Frank instead of Tennessee. Why did you decide to write about the man behind the man?

The short answer is that I found the question of Frank’s “double closet” vastly more compelling than any of the questions I had about the inner life of Tennessee Williams. Williams nakedly and poetically explored his demons and obsessions in his work (often, by the way, in the voices of actresses like Anja Bloom); biographers and critics have then insightfully explored them in their biographies and reviews. But what about Frank’s inner life? What about how it felt to be not only the nearly invisible partner of the great artist, but one without any sort of legal or societal legitimacy? I wanted to give Frank Merlo—my interpretation of him, at least—a louder voice, and I wanted him to be recognized and remembered not only for his contribution to Williams’s career, but for his essential value as a human being who died too young, before his own ambitions and desires could be fully realized. And finally, I related to his status as a working-class son of immigrants, and I wanted to dramatize how a man like this—who was also an autodidact, an aesthete, and a fun-loving extrovert—navigated the lofty and elite and exclusive literary world.

7. Tennessee and Frank were constantly surrounded by celebrities, many of whom make an appearance in the book. If you were in Tennessee’s crowd, who would you have liked to get to know?

That’s an easy one: Anna Magnani, who’s been called the “volcanic earth mother of all Italian cinema.” I had the most fun writing the scenes in Leading Men where she makes an appearance. I love her fire and honesty and integrity and confidence, and I’d give anything to have been there each morning in Rome when she called up Frank and Tenn to say, “Ciao ciao, what’s the program?” She and Frank always got along particularly well, and I have a feeling we would have, too.

My second choice would have to be Truman Capote, of course, though I fear I’d be too intimidated by his fierce brain and his vicious wit to be able to say a word in his presence. I rewrote his dialogue in Leading Men at least a hundred times.

8. The three central characters in the book—Frank, Tennessee, and Anja—all struggle
with the double-edged sword of fame, and deal with their notoriety (or lack thereof) in different ways. What made you want to explore this theme, and how does it relate to the book’s title?

Fame is a tricky business, of course – anxious but addictive, more lonely than liberating. It seems to destroy more people than it sustains. We all think we’d handle it better if only we had a crack at it. What we really crave, though—all of us, the famous and the ordinary—is not so much the fortune that notoriety might bring, but for it to convince us that we matter, that our time on Earth had some impact. It’s not just a need to be loved, though that’s certainly part of it; it’s a need to be seen, to be valued for our uniqueness. What better subject to explore in a novel?

Williams enjoyed his fame immensely, but it certainly did more to exacerbate his neuroses than it did to alleviate them. His successes bedeviled him as much, if not more, than his failures did. He worked every day, simultaneously convinced he’d never write anything great again and that the next project was the one that would get him back on top. His legitimacy and relevance were always at stake, always precarious, primarily because he’d achieved so much of both early in his career. Frank had a front-row seat to this show, and the misery it often caused Tenn, and yet he still wanted a piece of it for himself, to be more than a minor player on the set. He wanted to be convinced of his leading role not only in Tenn’s life, but in his own. I saw his unique position as a man in the shadow of a great artist as an extreme version of the desire we all have to measure our own significance against something or someone.

At first glance, Anja might appear to be a different creature. She didn’t ask for fame, and, after she achieved some degree of it, she willingly gave it up to live as a recluse. But she struggles with the same questions of purpose and identity, especially after she finds herself completely alone after Pieter’s death. When Sandrino comes to town offering her a piece of her past, she is seduced as much by his company as by a return to a time of greater possibility. The boys’ attempt to convince her to produce and direct and star in Call It Joy is another form of that seduction. It’s not fame and fortune she’s after—she’s already got plenty of that—it’s to play her own leading role in someone’s life again.

9. Frank and Tennessee were together during the mid-twentieth century, a more repressive time for gay couples. The book examines the nature of same-sex relationships—both then and now—and pays homage to queer spaces, including Provincetown. What did you want to explore here, and what relevance do you think Frank and Tennessee’s relationship has to our current moment?

Though we live in the age of federally-recognized same-sex marriage, and of increased protections and so-called acceptance of queer lives (however illusory or precarious they are in the current political climate), the truth is that queer people continue to set our own unique terms for our relationships, just as Frank and Tenn did in the fifties and sixties. In the meantime, we continue to create and nurture queer communities like the one still going strong in Provincetown, places that exist alongside but distinct from other communities.

I am surrounded by men in long-term relationships with each other, but no two relationships look exactly alike or define themselves by the same set of rules or codes. Frank says in Leading Men that he doesn’t know what to call his relationship with Tenn; he can only define it in relation to heterosexual marriage and to the examples set by the same-sex couples around him: Truman Capote and Jack Dunphy, and Jack Burns and Sandro Nencini. He struggles to find the right metaphor to describe this other thing he has with Tenn, which is different from what these other men have with each other, and what straight people seem to have. I think that if Frank were alive today, he’d struggle just as much, and perhaps more, to fit his and Tenn’s notion of a relationship into a tidy definition. Queer people are still inventing ourselves and exerting a kind of pressure on cultural norms, a pressure that didn’t begin or end either in the fifties or sixties or with the political gains of the last twenty years.

I was equally interested in the queer relationship that Anja and Sandrino develop over the course of the novel – a relationship that surprised me even as I was writing it. The two have a frisson that isn’t sexual, but also isn’t not sexual, especially when it is triangulated by Trevor. She describes the simultaneous unease and thrill of conducting the current between the two men. She’s attracted to Provincetown not just because Frank and Tenn met there, but because it’s a place that not only recognizes but celebrates such asymmetry. I like that she challenges the gay men in her life to see her in her full humanity and not as a stop on the way to self-actualization. On a personal note, I want to say that, in creating Anja, I channeled the lifelong friendships I and virtually every gay man I know have had with the women who’ve loved us unconditionally, who took us in when our families rejected us, who spent countless hours with us trying to solve the puzzle of the male mind and heart. It felt very right to me to make Anja a central figure in her own right and not one who is simply defined by the men who helped shape her life.

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

0 Brandon-Tudor Knight Feature and Giveaway #BrandonTudorKnight @tonyriches @hfvbt


Brandon - Tudor Knight by Tony Riches

Publication Date: December 3, 2018
Preseli Press
eBook; ASIN: B07L3YGBWJ
Genre: Historical/Tudor/Biographical


From the author of the international bestselling Tudor Trilogy comes a true story of adventure, courtly love and chivalric loyalty.

Handsome, charismatic and a champion jouster, Sir Charles Brandon is the epitome of a Tudor Knight. A favourite of King Henry VIII, Brandon has a secret. He has fallen in love with Henry’s sister, Mary Tudor, the beautiful widowed Queen of France, and risks everything to marry her without the King’s consent.

Brandon becomes Duke of Suffolk, but his loyalty is tested fighting Henry’s wars in France. Mary’s public support for Queen Catherine of Aragon brings Brandon into dangerous conflict with the ambitious Boleyn family and the king’s new right-hand man, Thomas Cromwell.

Torn between duty to his family and loyalty to the king, Brandon faces an impossible decision: can he accept Anne Boleyn as his new queen?

Available on Amazon


About the Author

Tony Riches is a full-time writer and lives with his wife in Pembrokeshire, West Wales. After several successful non-fiction books, Tony turned to novel writing and wrote ‘Queen Sacrifice’, set in 10th century Wales, followed by ‘The Shell’, a thriller set in present-day Kenya. A specialist in the history of the early Tudors, he is best known for his Tudor Trilogy. Tony’s other international bestsellers include ‘Warwick ~ The Man Behind the Wars of the Roses’ and ‘The Secret Diary of Eleanor Cobham’.
For more information please visit Tony’s website and his blog The Writing Desk. He can also be found on FacebookTwitter, and Goodreads.

Blog Tour Schedule

Thursday, February 28

Friday, March 1

Monday, March 4
Interview at Passages to the Past

Tuesday, March 5

Wednesday, March 6

Thursday, March 7
Feature at T's Stuff

Friday, March 8

Monday, March 11
Guest Post at On the Tudor Trail

Tuesday, March 12
Review at Hisdoryan

Wednesday, March 13

Thursday, March 14

Friday, March 15
Review at Coffee and Ink
Review at A Darn Good Read

Sunday, March 17

Monday, March 18

Tuesday, March 19

Giveaway

During the Blog Tour we will be giving away a paperback copy of Brandon-Tudor Knight! To enter, please use the Gleam form below.

Giveaway Rules

– Giveaway ends at 11:59pm EST on March 19th. 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 suspicion of fraud is decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion.
– The winner has 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.

Brandon Tudor Knight

0 Book Trailer Blast and Giveaway for #TheLostHistoryofDreams #BookTrailer @hfvbt @KrisWaldherr


The Lost History of Dreams by Kris Waldherr

Publication Date: April 9, 2019
Atria Books
Hardcover & eBook; 320 Pages
Genre: Historical/Gothic/Mystery


A post-mortem photographer unearths dark secrets of the past that may hold the key to his future, in this captivating debut novel in the gothic tradition of Wuthering Heights and The Thirteenth Tale.

All love stories are ghost stories in disguise.

When famed Byronesque poet Hugh de Bonne is discovered dead of a heart attack in his bath one morning, his cousin Robert Highstead, a historian turned post-mortem photographer, is charged with a simple task: transport Hugh’s remains for burial in a chapel. This chapel, a stained glass folly set on the moors of Shropshire, was built by de Bonne sixteen years earlier to house the remains of his beloved wife and muse, Ada. Since then, the chapel has been locked and abandoned, a pilgrimage site for the rabid fans of de Bonne’s last book, The Lost History of Dreams.

However, Ada’s grief-stricken niece refuses to open the glass chapel for Robert unless he agrees to her bargain: before he can lay Hugh to rest, Robert must record Isabelle’s story of Ada and Hugh’s ill-fated marriage over the course of five nights.

As the mystery of Ada and Hugh’s relationship unfolds, so does the secret behind Robert’s own marriage—including that of his fragile wife, Sida, who has not been the same since the tragic accident three years ago, and the origins of his own morbid profession that has him seeing things he shouldn’t—things from beyond the grave.

Kris Waldherr effortlessly spins a sweeping and atmospheric gothic mystery about love and loss that blurs the line between the past and the present, truth and fiction, and ultimately, life and death.

Here is the exclusive Book Trailer...

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

Praise for The Lost History of Dreams

“Scheherazade-like . . . haunting. . . Waldherr avoids cliché in her rich descriptions and hints of supernatural presence that never cross into melodrama. Additionally, while most gothic tales offer only darkness and tragedy, a surprising amount of light and joy imbues the ending here. Fitting, perhaps, for a novel that uses stained glass as a symbol for heavenly possibility, even in the face of death. Waldherr writes that “love stories are ghost stories in disguise.” This one, happily, succeeds as both.” – Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

"Wuthering Heights meets Penny Dreadful in Kris Waldherr's The Lost History of Dreams, a dark Victorian epic of obsessive love, thwarted genius, and ghostly visitations….Eerily atmospheric and gorgeously written, The Lost History of Dreams is a Gothic fairy-tale to savor." --Kate Quinn, author of The Alice Network and The Huntress 

"The Lost History of Dreams refuses to be categorized as anything other than excellent. Within the framework of a gothic, Kris Waldherr confronts our ideas about love, grief, poetry, and the nature of storytelling. With skillfully nested stories, Waldherr has done the remarkable, rendering the ephemeral into something real and tangible. Brooding, romantic, and thoughtful, The Lost History of Dreams is a rare bird in that it shines throughout with wit. I loved every page of it." --Erika Swyler, bestselling author of The Book of Speculation

"Reminiscent of du Maurier's My Cousin Rachel, The Lost History of Dreams is a complex, haunting and deeply absorbing historical novel that is sure to delight fans of classic Gothic fiction. With luminous prose, stunning poetry and a fascinating cast of characters, Waldherr weaves a wonderfully atmospheric tale. Not to be missed!" --Hazel Gaynor, New York Times bestselling author of The Girl Who Came Home and The Lighthouse Keeper's Daughter

“In The Lost History of Dreams, Kris Waldherr delivers a novel of haunting mystery and passion reminiscent of Wuthering Heights and Byatt's Possession. Layered within the pages of this gorgeous gothic tale is a story of several loves, each masterfully wrought in dazzling, poetic detail that will leave the reader longing for more." --Crystal King, author of Feast of Sorrow and The Chef's Secret 

"In this accomplished debut, Kris Waldherr transports the reader to the fascinating world of Victorian England and its tradition of post-mortem photography with a deft hand. An atmospheric tale of lost love, family secrets, and an inquiry into how our own histories define us, I relished every poetic page. Mesmerizing, lyrical, and deliciously brooding, THE LOST HISTORY OF DREAMS is a terrific contribution to Gothic literature." --Heather Webb, international bestselling author of Last Christmas in Paris

"The Lost History of Dreams plunges the reader into a sumptuous feast for all the senses. Through the perspective of a very Victorian yet empathetic male protagonist, Waldherr cleverly depicts the confining roles women of the era were forced to play. This creepily delicious tale will rob readers of their sleep as it asks and answers its own question: "'How can there be so much beauty in this world amid so much sorrow?' The only solution was to create more beauty." With this novel, Waldherr has done exactly that." --Clarissa Harwood, author of Impossible Saints and Bear No Malice

"Kris Waldherr's The Lost History of Dreams is very aptly titled, as reading this novel feels indeed like entering into a dream, one from which I have yet to fully awaken. With beautiful prose and poetry, Waldherr weaves a darkly seductive Gothic tale of love, art, death, and obsession. You'll want to keep reading this one late into the night." --Alyssa Palombo, author of The Spellbook of Katrina Van Tassel

About the Author

Kris Waldherr is an award-winning author, illustrator, and designer. She is a member of the Historical Novel Society, and her fiction has been awarded with fellowships by the Virginia Center of the Creative Arts and a reading grant by Poets & Writers.

Kris Waldherr works and lives in Brooklyn in a Victorian-era house with her husband, the anthropologist-curator Thomas Ross Miller, and their young daughter.


Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | BookBub


Trailer Blast Schedule


Giveaway


Kris is hosting a The Lost History of Dreams giveaway worth $220! The gift package includes a Campo Marzio pen gift box with calligraphy nibs and ink, a handcrafted Lover's Eye pendant, bookmark and bookplate, and a signed copy of The Lost History of Dreams.

Learn more at http://www.losthistorybook.com/sweepstake.html.


Friday, March 8, 2019

0 Cover Reveal: Shakespeare's Witch by Samantha Grosser


Shakespeare's Witch by Samantha Grosser

Publication Date: March 20, 2019
Sam Grosser Books
Genre: Historical Fiction


Love, Witchcraft, Sorcery, Madness.

A fortune told …
When Sarah Stone foresees Will Shakespeare’s latest play has opened doors to evil, she begs the playwright to abandon it. But Will refuses, aware the play is one of his best. And so rehearsals for Macbeth begin.

Forbidden desires …
After her vision, Sarah fears for her life – she has never known the shewstone to lie, and she turns to her brother Tom for comfort. A strange darkness seems to haunt the playhouse, and when Tom sets out to seduce John Upton, the boy actor who plays Lady Macbeth, the boy sees the hand of witchcraft in his own forbidden desires for men. Then Sarah weaves a spell to win the love of the new lead actor, and John, terrified for the safety of his soul, begins to make his accusations.

The Spirits have spoken …
As rehearsals continue, Sarah and Tom must struggle to convince John he is mistaken and that his sins are his own – their lives and the fortune of the play are at stake. But the Spirits have spoken – will the fate that Sarah foresaw come to pass or is their destiny their own to decide?

Set against the first production of Macbeth in 1606, Shakespeare’s Witch is a seductive tale of the origins of the curse of the Scottish Play.

Available for Pre-Order on Amazon US and Amazon UK

About the Author

Historical fiction author Samantha Grosser originally hails from England, but now lives on the sunny Northern Beaches of Sydney with her husband, son and a very small dog called Livvy.

Combining a lifelong love of history with a compulsion to write that dates from childhood, Samantha is now bringing her passion for telling compelling stories to the world.

Samantha has an Honours Degree in English Literature and taught English for many years in Asia and Australia. She is the author of wartime dramas Another Time and Place and The Officer’s Affair, and The King James Men, set during the turbulent early years of 17th Century.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | BookBub | Pinterest | Instagram

Cover Reveal Schedule

Monday, March 4

Tuesday, March 5

Wednesday, March 6

Thursday, March 7

Friday, March 8

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

0 Claiming My Place Feature and Giveaway #ClaimingMyPlace #PlanariaPrice #HFVBTBlogTours @hfvbt


Claiming My Place
By Planaria Price with Helen Reichmann West

Publication Date: March 13, 2018
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Hardcover, eBook, AudioBook
Genre: YA/NF/History/Holocaust/WWII


A Junior Library Guild selection

Claiming My Place is the true story of a young Jewish woman who survived the Holocaust by escaping to Nazi Germany and hiding in plain sight.

Meet Gucia Gomolinska: smart, determined, independent, and steadfast in the face of injustice. A Jew growing up in predominantly Catholic Poland during the 1920s and ’30s, Gucia studies hard, makes friends, falls in love, and dreams of a bright future. Her world is turned upside down when Nazis invade Poland and establish the first Jewish ghetto of World War II in her town of Piotrkow Trybunalski. As the war escalates, Gucia and her family, friends, and neighbors suffer starvation, disease, and worse. She knows her blond hair and fair skin give her an advantage, and eventually she faces a harrowing choice: risk either the uncertain horrors of deportation to a concentration camp, or certain death if she is caught resisting. She decides to hide her identity as a Jew and adopts the gentile name Danuta Barbara Tanska. Barbara, nicknamed Basia, leaves behind everything and everyone she has ever known in order to claim a new life for herself.

Writing in the first person, author Planaria Price brings the immediacy of Barbara’s voice to this true account of a young woman whose unlikely survival hinges upon the same determination and defiant spirit already evident in the six-year-old girl we meet as this story begins. The final portion of this narrative, written by Barbara’s daughter, Helen Reichmann West, completes Barbara’s journey from her immigration to America until her natural, timely death. Includes maps and photographs.

Amazon | Barnes and Noble

Praise

“Price has boldly elected to tell the story in Basia’s own first-person, present-tense voice. The result is a dramatic, suspenseful account of survival in extremis, told in collaboration with Basia’s American daughter.” ―Booklist

“Price's rendering of West’s mother’s early life reads like suspenseful historical fiction, telling a rarely heard side of the Jewish experience during WWII . . . Family, friendships, and romance give poignancy to this unique coming-of-age story, which is further enhanced by maps, a glossary, and an afterword.” ―Publishers Weekly

“A rich exploration of a Holocaust survivor’s sheltered childhood, the atrocity that failed to destroy her, and her later life as an immigrant.” ―Kirkus Reviews

“I was completely engrossed by this drama of survival. Barbara Reichmann's story is quite extraordinary. It is sad, and terrible, and yet somehow captivating. The whole story of those who survived the Shoah by passing as Christians and working in Nazi Germany is an often forgotten part of the historical record.” ―Kai Bird, Executive Director, Leon Levy Center for Biography at CUNY Graduate Center, and co-author of the Pulitzer Prize–winning American Prometheus: The Triumph and Tragedy of J. Robert Oppenheimer

“As occurs with The Diary of Anne Frank, this book merges the dire circumstances of the Holocaust with the tenuousness of being a teenager. But Claiming My Place expands the view provided in the diary for one critical reason. Anne Frank’s story is told within an isolated cocoon. In Barbara’s story, however, the Holocaust is in full view as her experiences unfold.” ―David H. Lindquist, Ph.D., IPFW College of Education and Public Policy / Regional Museum Educator, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

“This frightening true story of a young Jewish girl's flight from the deadly grip of the Nazis celebrates the surprising ingenuity and raw courage found only in the depths of the human spirit. Risking what few others dared, Barbara Reichmann, née Gucia Gomolinska, speaks with wisdom and uncommon self-awareness through her detailed, colorful, and evocative recollections from earliest childhood. In the final portion of this book, her daughter, Helen West, continues Barbara’s journey in an insightful and loving overview of Barbara’s life from the family’s arrival in New Orleans in 1951 until her death in 2007. This is a great read with the suspenseful, inspiring and uplifting appeal of a novel, about a character who will capture the reader’s heart.” ―Allan Holzman, Peabody and Emmy Award-winning director and editor (Steven Spielberg’s Survivors of the Holocaust, Old Man River, The Native Americans)

"Thanks to the detailed memories and the conversational tone, this book provides an engaging and informative reading experience with as much appeal as a fiction title. Recommended for most YA nonfiction collections." ―Magdalena Teske, West Chicago Public Library District School Library Journal

"This book was truly a celebration of the human spirit. What a gift she has for putting you in the story. Her way with words, plus her weaving of the actual events recounted to her by the unbelievably courageous Basia and her daughter Helen, was nothing short of magical. The included photographs and epilogue served to fully round out this amazing tale. I never wanted this book to end!" ―Rabbi Lynn Brody Slome

About the Author

After graduating from Berkeley and earning a Master's Degree in English Literature from UCLA, Planaria Price began her career teaching English to adult immigrants in Los Angeles. She has written several textbooks for University of Michigan Press and has lectured at over 75 conferences. In addition to her passion for teaching and writing, Planaria has worked with her husband to save and restore over 30 Victorian and Craftsman homes in her historic Los Angeles neighborhood. Claiming My Place is her first book for young adults.

For more information, please visit Planaria's website at www.planariaprice.com.

Blog Tour Schedule

Friday, March 1
Interview at Passages to the Past

Sunday, March 3

Monday, March 4
Interview at The Book Connection

Tuesday, March 5

Wednesday, March 6

Thursday, March 7
Review at Peppermint Ph.D.

Friday, March 8
Feature at T's Stuff

Sunday, March 10

Monday, March 11
Feature at Coffee and Ink
Review at Jathan & Heather

Tuesday, March 12

Wednesday, March 13

Giveaway

During the Blog Tour, we will be giving away a signed copy of CLAIMING MY PLACE! To enter, please use the Gleam form below.

Giveaway Rules

– Giveaway ends at 11:59pm EST on March 13th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
– Giveaway is open to the US only.
– Only one entry per household.
– All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspicion of fraud is decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion.
– The winner has 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.

Claiming My Place Tour


Thursday, February 28, 2019

4 FINDING LORD FARLISLE by Cassandra Dan Excerpt and Blog Tour @authorCassDean @hfvbt #FindingLordFarlisle #CassandraDean #HFVBTBlogTours


Finding Lord Farlisle by Cassandra Dean

Publication Date: November 27, 2018
eBook; 86 Pages
ASIN: B07JLWSFJG
Genre: Historical Romance/Regency



It was eleven years ago. The pain had faded, but had never truly left. Alexandra had thought

she’d learned to live with it. But now…now Maxim was here?

A thunderous scowl on his face, he made a noise of impatience. “I do not have the inclination for this, girl. Tell me why you have come.”

His voice crashed over her. That, too, had deepened with age, but it was him. It was him.

“It is you.” Joy filled her, so big it felt her skin couldn’t contain it. Throwing herself at him, she enveloped him in a hug.

He stiffened.

Embarrassment coursed through her. What was she thinking? Immediately, she untangled herself from him. “I beg your pardon,” she stammered. Always before they’d been exuberant in their affections. They’d always found ways to touch one another, even though that last summer, the one before he’d gone away, she’d begun to feel...more....

Clasping her hands before her, she brought herself to the present. Much had changed, now they were grown and he, apparently, had not died.

Maxim had not died.

A wave of emotion swept her, a mix of relief, joy, incredulity…. It buckled her knees and burned her eyes. He was alive. Maxim was alive.


The girl he finally remembers

Eleven years ago, a shipwreck robbed Lord Maxim Farlisle of his memory. Recovering himself, he journeys to his childhood home to find Waithe Hall shut and deserted. Unwilling to face what remains of his family, Maxim makes his home in the abandoned hall…only to have a determined ghost hunter invade his uneasy peace.

The boy she never forgot

Fascinated by spirits, Lady Alexandra Torrence cannot disregard the opportunity to investigate the estate she knew so well. She arrives at the shuttered hall to discover a ghost of a different kind—the boy she thought to never see again. Maxim had been the boy next door, her best friend, her soul mate…and then he’d vanished.

As the two rediscover their connection, the promise of young love burns into an overwhelming passion. But the time apart has scarred them both—will they discover a love that will draw them together or will the past tear them apart forever?

"Finding Lord Farlisle is a lovely story: sweet, witty, flirtatious, emotional, touching. A truly delightful way to spend a couple of hours." Anna Campbell, author of the bestselling Dashing Widows series

"Sweet, fun, and delightful! If you love friends to lovers, you'll adore Finding Lord Farlisle." -Tamara Gill, author of the Lords of London series

Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon AU | Barnes and Noble | iTunes

About the Author

Cassandra Dean is an award-winning, best-selling author of historical and fantasy romance. She is a 2018 recipient of the coveted Romance Writers of Australia Ruby Award.

Her next novel will be FINDING LORD FARLISLE, kicking off a new series, LOST LORDS.

Cassandra is proud to call South Australia her home, where she regularly cheers on her AFL football team and creates her next tale.

Website | Newsletter | Facebook | Twitter

Blog Tour Schedule

Thursday, February 28

Friday, March 1

Saturday, March 2

Monday, March 4

Tuesday, March 5

Wednesday, March 6
Review at Pursuing Stacie

Thursday, March 7

Friday, March 8

Monday, March 11
Review & Interview at Passages to the Past

Tuesday, March 12
Review at Coffee and Ink

Wednesday, March 13
Excerpt at Bookish Rantings

Thursday, March 14

Friday, March 15
Feature at T's Stuff

Saturday, March 16
Interview & Excerpt at Jorie Loves a Story

Giveaway

During the Blog Tour we will be giving away a $10 Amazon Gift Card! To enter, please use the Gleam form below.

Giveaway Rules

– Giveaway ends at 11:59pm EST on March 16th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
– Giveaway is open to 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.

Finding Lord Farlisle


Tuesday, February 19, 2019

0 Audiobook Review: The Picture of Dorian Gray


The Picture of Dorian Gray
by Oscar Wilde
Narrated by: James Warwick
Audiobook
Length: 9 hrs and 33 mins
Published 2019 by Alison Larkin Presents
9781982738037


Summary

This powerful new recording of Wilde’s famous novel tells the unforgettable story of a hedonistic young man who makes a sinister deal to preserve his youth. When his wish is granted, Dorian Gray slips into a life of sensuality, debauchery, and murder.

In this uncensored version, TV star James Warwick’s inspired, nuanced narration is followed by a fascinating conversation. The actor talks candidly with Alison Larkin about Oscar Wilde and Warwick's own challenges as a gay man living in London at a time when homosexuality was illegal. 

Oscar Wilde (1854-1900) was an Irish poet and playwright who is celebrated still for his sharp wit, flamboyant style, and sparkling conversation. 

James Warwick is most famous for his starring role playing Tommy in Agatha Christie’s Tommy and Tuppence series on PBS for Masterpiece Theater. He has also played many leading roles on Broadway and London's West End, originating the role of Brad in the Rocky Horror Picture Show and playing King Arthur in Camelot. His last starring role in an Oscar Wilde play was in Peter Hall’s production of The Ideal Husband on Broadway. His narration of Agatha Christie's The Mysterious Affair at Styles, also for Alison Larkin Presents, also received rave reviews worldwide.

Public Domain (P)2019 Alison Larkin Presents

My Thoughts

I read The Picture of Dorian Gray in my twenties. It has a lot of great themes in it such as good vs. evil, mortality, sexual identity, etc., but I don't remember feeling any particular strong feelings about the book. I've been attempting to reread books (mostly classics) that I've felt that way toward in the past, partly wondering if maturity and understanding would change the way I viewed them. The opportunity to reread The Picture of Dorain Gray fell into my inbox as an audiobook review request. And, of course, I accepted.

The audiobook is narrated by James Warwick who does a lot of work in London's West End. His voice suited this production perfectly. He portrayed the characters as I believe Wilde had intended. He really made this book come to life for me. I particularly liked the interview at the end of the audiobook Warwick had with Alison Larkin. He expressed some of the troubles he had with Dorian's character while how as a gay man he related to not being able to live as your authentic self. 

Some books are better as audiobooks, and this is one of them. At least for me. While I still don't love the book, I definitely have a better understanding and an appreciation for it.


 

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