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
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


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
Length: 9 hrs and 33 mins
Published 2019 by Alison Larkin Presents


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.

Monday, February 11, 2019

0 Audiobook Review: Mary Ventura and The Ninth Kingdom by Sylvia Plath

Mary Ventura and The Ninth Kingdom: A Story
by Sylvia Plath
Narrated by: Orlagh Cassidy 
Length: 43 mins
Published January 15th 2019 by HarperAudio


This newly discovered story by literary legend Sylvia Plath stands on its own and is remarkable for its symbolic, allegorical approach to a young woman's rebellion against convention and forceful taking control of her own life.

Written while Sylvia Plath was a student at Smith College in 1952, Mary Ventura and The Ninth Kingdom tells the story of a young woman's fateful train journey.

Lips the color of blood, the sun an unprecedented orange, train wheels that sound like "guilt, and guilt, and guilt" these are just some of the things Mary Ventura begins to notice on her journey to the ninth kingdom.

"But what is the ninth kingdom?" she asks a kind-seeming lady in her carriage. "It is the kingdom of the frozen will," comes the reply. "There is no going back."

Sylvia Plath's strange, dark tale of female agency and independence, written not long after she herself left home, grapples with mortality in motion. 

My Thoughts

If you're looking for a book to read on your commute, why not try Mary Ventura and The Ninth Kingdom by Sylvia Plath. 

Sylvia Plath and I go way back. I've been reading about her life for over a decade, as well as read a multitude of her writings. I was pretty eager to read this short story that she wrote while a student at Smith College in 1952. She submitted it to a magazine, but, sadly, it was rejected. 

It tells an extraordinary story that is still as relevant today as it was in 1952. The main character, Mary, boards a train to The Ninth Kingdom where she meets an older lady that seems to have some inner knowledge of the workings of the train. Mary starts to struggle internally as the train moves closer to its destination. 

This short story is captivating from the first sentence that is uttered. Maybe this story was too dark in 1952, but it's perfect for today's audiences. Mary struggles with many things readers will relate to. 

I listened to this book as an audiobook. It's narrated by Orlagh Cassidy, who did a wonderful job. She conveyed the emotions of a confused and scared Mary perfectly. Do yourself a favor, and listen to this book.

Thursday, February 7, 2019

0 Audiobook Review: Hollywood's Eve: Eve Babitz and the Secret History of L.A. by Lili Anolik

Hollywood's Eve: Eve Babitz and the Secret History of L.A.
by Lili Anolik
Narrated by Jayme Mattler
Length: 7 hrs and 45 mins
Published January 8th 2019 by Simon & Schuster Audio


Los Angeles in the 1960s and 70s was the pop culture capital of the world—a movie factory, a music factory, a dream factory. Eve Babitz was the ultimate factory girl, a pure product of LA.

The goddaughter of Igor Stravinsky and a graduate of Hollywood High, Babitz posed in 1963, at age twenty, playing chess with the French artist Marcel Duchamp. She was naked; he was not. The photograph, cheesecake with a Dadaist twist, made her an instant icon of art and sex. Babitz spent the rest of the decade rocking and rolling on the Sunset Strip, honing her notoriety. There were the album covers she designed: for Buffalo Springfield and the Byrds, to name but a few. There were the men she seduced: Jim Morrison, Ed Ruscha, Harrison Ford, to name but a very few.

Then, at nearly thirty, her It girl days numbered, Babitz was discovered—as a writer—by Joan Didion. She would go on to produce seven books, usually billed as novels or short story collections, always autobiographies and confessionals. Under-known and under-read during her career, she’s since experienced a breakthrough. Now in her mid-seventies, she’s on the cusp of literary stardom and recognition as an essential—as the essential—LA writer. Her prose achieves that American ideal: art that stays loose, maintains its cool, and is so sheerly enjoyable as to be mistaken for simple entertainment.

For Babitz, life was slow days, fast company until a freak fire in the 90s turned her into a recluse, living in a condo in West Hollywood, where Lili Anolik tracked her down in 2012. Anolik’s elegant and provocative new book is equal parts biography and detective story. It is also on dangerously intimate terms with its subject: artist, writer, muse, and one-woman zeitgeist, Eve Babitz. 

My Thoughts

I had absolutely no idea who Eve Babitz was when I started reading this book. Several years ago, there was a Vanity Fair article written by the author of this book that had a lot of people talking about Eve. I wasn't one of them. For whatever reason and whatever was going on in my life, it passed me by. I came across this book a few months ago and read the summary and knew I needed to learn all about Eve. 

Hollywood's Eve: Eve Babitz and the Secret History of L.A. is written by Lili Anolik as part biography, part love letter to Eve. Anolik recounts Eve's sometimes glamorous and sometimes shocking life among Hollywood's elite: from the picture that made her famous to her life now. The biography is often interrupted by Anolik's thoughts and opinions of the situations she's writing about. I wasn't sure how I felt about that aspect of this book, but by the end I decided I quite liked it. 

Eve Babitz is a rare jewel who lives life on her own terms. She's an artist, a writer, and a badass. 
As the summary states, Eve was in the hub of Pop Culture in the 60s and 70s. I didn't realize how similar Babitz's and Anolik's writing styles were until I listened to a clip of Hollywood's Eve by Eve Babitz in which she recounts her life in the 60s and 70s. That's probably one of the many reasons Anolik feels so akin to Babitz.

I listened to this book as an audiobook. I don't tend to listen to biographies much on audio, because they tend to be a bit dull in my opinion. (Please note that I don't mean biographies are dull. I love nonfiction books out the wazoo; I just don't like them as audiobooks.) But something told me that I should try this one, and I loved it. It's narrated by Jayme Mattler. She seemed to capture the mood of the biography perfectly. It's seemed as if Jayme came over to tell me a story about a woman named Eve. 

After I finished this book, I added several of Babitz's books to my wishlist. She has a no-holds-barred attitude that is intriguing, and after listening to a clip of her book, I know I'm going to enjoy reading them. And if there isn't already, there should be a movie in the works about the brazen author. 

*I received a copy of this audiobook courtesy of Simon & Schuster Audio. This in no way influenced my opinion.

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

0 Tan France To Host The Audie Awards And Celebrate Achievements In Audiobooks

Audies Award Finalists

The Audies have announced their 2019 host: Tan France.
This year, the award show is getting a makeover of sorts: a new high-profile host in Queer Eye star and to-be Audiobook narrator of his own upcoming memoir, Tan France and a panel of industry personalities to serve as judges for the Audiobook of the Year category. And with major names associated with this year’s event (nominees include Sally Field, Megan Mullally, Nick Offerman, Leslie Odom, Jr., Emma Thompson and former Vice President Joe Biden,) it's no surprise that the show will be one to remember. 
The Audie Awards recognize distinction in audiobooks and spoken word entertainment and are sponsored by the Audio Publishers Association (APA). 2019 is the 24th year of annual Audie Awards. Finalists are announced in 24 categories. 
Congratulations to all the nominees! Tan France will be an amazing host. 
See the Press Release (pdf) of the 2019 Finalists—released February 4, here. Winners will be announced at the Audies Gala, March 4.

Monday, February 4, 2019

0 Review: Dreyer’s English: An Utterly Correct Guide to Clarity and Style

Dreyer’s English: An Utterly Correct Guide to Clarity and Style from the Copy Chief of Random House by Benjamin Dreyer
Kindle Edition, 256 pages
Published January 22nd 2019 by Random House


As authoritative as it is amusing, this book distills everything Benjamin Dreyer has learned from the hundreds of books he has copyedited, including works by Elizabeth Strout, E. L. Doctorow, and Frank Rich, into a useful guide not just for writers but for everyone who wants to put their best foot forward in writing prose. Dreyer offers lessons on the ins and outs of punctuation and grammar, including how to navigate the words he calls "the confusables," like tricky homophones; the myriad ways to use (and misuse) a comma; and how to recognize--though not necessarily do away with--the passive voice. (Hint: If you can plausibly add "by zombies" to the end of a sentence, it's passive.) People are sharing their writing more than ever--on blogs, on Twitter--and this book lays out, clearly and comprehensibly, everything writers can do to keep readers focused on the real reason writers write: to communicate their ideas clearly and effectively. Chock-full of advice, insider wisdom, and fun facts on the rules (and nonrules) of the English language, this book will prove invaluable to everyone who wants to shore up their writing skills, mandatory for people who spend their time editing and shaping other people's prose, and--perhaps best of all--an utter treat for anyone who simply revels in language. 

My Thoughts

As a copy editor, I keep reference books within arm's reach of my desk: The Chicago Manual of StyleThe Merriam-Webster Dictionary, The Elements of Style by Strunk & White, etc. It wasn't long after I began reading Dreyer's English that I knew not only would I be adding this book to that list, I'll also be recommending it to friends, clients, and colleagues. 

Who is this Dreyer, and why should you read this book? Benjamin Dreyer is the copy chief of Random House. He's been a copy editor for thirty years and knows his business. Dreyer recognizes that we're all writers in some way or anotherwhether it be emails or books. And for the most part, we all want to do it well. Dreyer shares some of his skills and tricks to make that happen.

Dreyer’s English: An Utterly Correct Guide to Clarity and Style covers a variety of topics such as easily confused words, tidying up your prose, punctuation, frequently misspelled words, and rules and nonrules. Please note that this is not a textbook. It's written in a causal style that readers will enjoy. Dreyer's explanations are filled with humor, not overcomplicated jargon.

If you're looking for a good book to strengthen you're writing skills, look no further. This is the book you need. 

Friday, February 1, 2019

1 Some Amazing Things I Uncovered on Ancestry.Com By Thelma Adams

Some Amazing Things I Uncovered on Ancestry.Com By Thelma Adams

When I began to research Bittersweet Brooklyn, originally entitled Kosher Nostra, my genealogical research into my late grandmother, Thelma Schwartz nee Lorber, led me to I got a subscription and, in the years that followed, I've never let it lapse. It became a key tool for my historical research as I plotted births, deaths and marriages. Not only that, but I discovered that it held my attention like the Sunday crosswords. I could sit down to check out one fact, or add in a family detail my mother had revealed to me, and look up three hours later.

Sometimes I feel that I could do an ad for Ancestry!

The family tree that grew on the site provided the roots of the novel, which is about a liberated woman before her time – and the fraught immigrant world that she grew up in. Her older brother Abie became a criminal who occasionally made it into the papers – in small print and at the bottom of the page. Her other brother, Louis, enlisted in the army at 21 and became a WW1 hero and lifelong soldier.

Early on in my research I discovered a document on that became central to my understanding of Abie, the family dynamics and what might have led him to stray from the straight and narrow.

It was a commitment document for the New York Hebrew Orphan Asylum Records for Abraham Lorber dated August 14, 1905. That in itself was startling. The boy was nearly 11 and his younger brother, Louis, was 9. Both were committed by their mother, Rebecca Lorber and dispatched to the Hebrew Benevolent and Orphan Asylum way uptown on Amsterdam Avenue.

Application for Admission #435 is dense with information. It gave Rebecca's birthplace, which I didn't have previously. She was from Drohobych, Galicia in Austro-Hungary. That allowed me to look further into whom she was and opened the door to a vein of research into what it was like to live in that area and what the conditions were like for Jews under the Empire. She wasn't a faceless Eastern European immigrant – she had a hometown, she was grounded, knowable.

It also revealed that she was 36 and worked as a washerwoman while living on Manhattan's 106th Street with a family named Junger.

And then there was this scrawled at the bottom in answer to the printed line 'Special Circumstances of the Case:' "Father died two years ago. Mother supported them until now. Claims to be sickly. Has received assistance from UHC [United Hebrew Charities]."

This seemed so dramatic to me – a mother willing to place her two sons in care. Who was she? What happened between Drohobych and New York? What had the boys done, if anything? And how did this experience shape who Abie and Louis became, one good with a knife, and the other fond of guns. And how did it impact their little sister, Thelma, who was three when her brothers were taken from their lodgings on 106th Street.

Although I later learned that it was not uncommon for a widow to surrender her children, I knew I had to understand the crisis that overcame the family in 1905. As a historical fiction writer, the conflict had huge dramatic potential. I used this horrible separation as a watershed moment that would reverberate until the last pages of the book. It is hard enough to be an orphan – but what does it feel like to be an orphan with a living mother who rejects you, or a child on the sidelines forever concerned that she would be committed if she misbehaved?

I am attaching the document itself – what do you see there? How would you interpret the evidence? Where would it lead you?  

 In turn-of-the century New York, a mobster rises—and his favorite sister struggles between loyalty and life itself. How far will she go when he commits murder?

After midnight, Thelma Lorber enters her brother Abie’s hangout under the Williamsburg Bridge, finding Jewish mobster Louis “Pretty” Amberg in a puddle of blood on the kitchen floor. She could flee. Instead, in the dark hours of that October 1935 night before the dawn of Murder, Inc., she remains beside the fierce, funny brother who has nurtured and protected her since childhood. There are many kinds of love a woman can feel for a man, but few compare to that of the baby sister for her older brother. For Thelma, a wild widow tethered to a young son, Abie is the center of her world. But that love is about to undo everything she holds dear…

Flipping the familiar script of The Sopranos, Boardwalk Empire, and The Godfather, Bittersweet Brooklyn explores the shattering impact of mob violence on the women expected to mop up the mess. Winding its way over decades, this haunting family saga plunges readers into a dangerous past—revealed through the perspective of a forgotten yet vibrant woman.

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Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, January 28
Review at Pursuing Stacie

Tuesday, January 29

Wednesday, January 30
Guest Post at To Read, Or Not to Read

Thursday, January 31
Review & Interview at Passages to the Past

Friday, February 1

Saturday, February 2
Excerpt at Maiden of the Pages

Sunday, February 3
Feature at Queen of Random

Tuesday, February 5
Review at Creating Herstory

Wednesday, February 6

Thursday, February 7
Review at Peppermint Ph.D.
Excerpt at Old Timey Books
Guest Post at Jathan & Heather

Friday, February 8
Review at The Lit Bitch

Sunday, February 10

Monday, February 11
Review at Macsbooks

Tuesday, February 12
Review at Bookish

Wednesday, February 13

Thursday, February 14
Review at Coffee and Ink

Friday, February 15
Excerpt at Broken Teepee
Review at Comet Readings


During the Blog Tour we will be giving away two paperback copies and one Audio Book! To enter, please use the Gleam form below.

Giveaway Rules

– Giveaway ends at 11:59pm EST on February 15th. 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.


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