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Review of Lies We Tell Ourselves by Robin Talley



About Lies We Tell Ourselves

In 1959 Virginia, the lives of two girls on opposite sides of the battle for civil rights will be changed forever.

Sarah Dunbar is one of the first black students to attend the previously all-white Jefferson High School. An honors student at her old school, she is put into remedial classes, spit on and tormented daily.

Linda Hairston is the daughter of one of the town’s most vocal opponents of school integration. She has been taught all her life that the races should be kept separate but equal.

Forced to work together on a school project, Sarah and Linda must confront harsh truths about race, power and how they really feel about one another.

Boldly realistic and emotionally compelling, Lies We Tell Ourselves is a brave and stunning novel about finding truth amid the lies, and finding your voice even when others are determined to silence it.

My Review

“Other people will always try to decide things for you. They’ll try to tell you who you are. Remember, no matter what they say, you’re the one who really decides.”

Such an amazingly powerful book. I struggled with the amount of hate and anger spewing from the pages. The scenarios and characters felt incredibly real which magnified the reading experience making it even more painful and uncomfortable to read. The two different perspectives provide dimension and great interest both highly educational.

Sarah’s strength and determination left a lasting impression. I supported her from the beginning, hoping she’d overcome the hostility and cruelty. Dealing with segregation and the fact she is a lesbian, no doubt she’s dealing with a lot of heavy issues. Linda initially appears downright ignorant, one of the many haters until family issues are revealed, we understand her more and her personal challenges.

An emotional read leaving you tangled in an array of emotions, evoking. Great read for all with plenty to discuss. Impactful and halting.

About Robin Talley6469490

I live in Washington, D.C., with my wife, our baby daughter, an antisocial cat and a goofy hound dog. Whenever the baby’s sleeping, I’m probably busy writing young adult fiction about queer characters, reading books, and having in-depth conversations with friends and family about things like whether Jasmine’s character motivation was sufficiently established in Aladdin.

Published September 30th 2014 by Harlequin Teen


Review of Tides of Honour by Genevieve Graham


About Tides of Honour

A novel of love, loss, and honour amidst the horrors of war and its aftermath.

It’s 1916, and the last thing Nova Scotian soldier Danny Baker expects to find in war-torn France is the love of his life. Audrey Poulin is alone in the world, and struggling to survive the war in the French countryside. When Audrey and Danny meet and fall in love, it seems like the best version of fate.

But love is only the beginning, as Danny loses a leg in the Battle of the Somme, and returns home to Halifax with Audrey, only to discover that he’s unable to leave the war behind. Danny and Audrey struggle with their new life together, and must face not only their own internal demons, but a catastrophe that will soon rip apart everything they think they know about themselves and each other.

My Thoughts

Such an incredible story, I can’t count the number of times I became teary eyed. Not only is this a story of wartime romance, it also cites a major catastrophic event in Halifax history. I am a history buff but after reading this book I realized how little I know of Canadian history in general, soon to change with a lovely nudge from Graham.

Not a gentle read by any means. The details of the Halifax Explosion alone is affecting. The unbelievable loss and carnage, the mass destruction, the aftermath is a challenge to read, Graham paints a vivid picture of the horrific event. Compelling, heartbreaking yet you won’t be able to tear yourself away. Between WWI details, Danny’s battle memories, random flashbacks along with the Halifax Explosion you find yourself emotionally spent. Graham’s research is outstanding.

I was fond of both Danny and Audrey. I do wish their interaction and reaction to a few incidents was deeper, more authentic. A few scenarios felt far-fetched along with reactions, one in particular stands out. Also actions didn’t always equate with the personalities drawn. At times the narrative felt rushed causing a hiccup in timeline. Graham’s writing more than compensates for my trivial quibbles.

Incredible story of love, forgiveness, acceptance, resilience and family. The in-depth descriptions of Canada and the emotional scars of the characters leave the reader topsy-turvy in their own whirlwind of varying emotions. Truly an unforgettable story.

About Genevieve Graham4505583

I love to write. I really, really do. When my wonderful agent, Jacques de Spoelberch, told me he believed in my writing, then sold my books—first to Berkley (Penguin), then to Simon & Schuster Canada, it was a dream come true. Now that I am writing more and more Canadian Historical Fiction for Simon & Schuster Canada, I am thrilled to be bringing my country’s history back to life.

I have embarked on a journey I never expected to take, having my book published. I had never planned to be an author in the first place, but Fate has a way of stepping in. I’m so glad She did.

“Under the Same Sky” came from a desire – no, a need to read real historical adventure when I’d exhausted the books my favourite authors had created (and I read them all many times!). The characters come to life in my head, take me places I never imagined, teach me every day. They’re not all my best friends, but they are all amazing to me simply because they exist.

It’s kind of funny, writing books. The best stories come from somewhere you’ve never been, and yet you are the expert. You write words that come to you when you’re not thinking, and you make them into something that takes other people away. I love the magic in that.

I look forward to getting to know you.

Published April 2015 by Simon & Schuster Canada

Review of A Sworn Virgin by Kristopher Dukes with Giveaway


About A Sworn Virgin

WHEN 18-YEAR-OLD DIANA’S FATHER IS SHOT DEAD on the cobblestone streets of 1910 Eastern European Albania, Diana must abandon her dream of studying art in Italy as she struggles to survive in a remote mountain village with her stepmother Mirlinda.

Nearing starvation, Mirlinda secretly sells Diana into marriage with the cruel heir of a powerful clan. Rather than lose her freedom, Diana swears to remain a virgin for the rest of her life, a tradition that gives her the right to live as a man: she is now head of her household, can work for a living and carry a gun. She may participate in the vengeful blood feuds that consume the mountain tribes, but she may not be killed — unless she forsakes her vow.

When an injured stranger stumbles into her life, Diana nurses him back to health, saving his life — but risking her own when she falls in love with him . . .

My Review

When Diana asked on their way home, her father explained. A sworn virgin was a woman who had vowed to remain chaste in order to gain the right to live like a man: She could inherit property, earn a living, carry a gun, and kill for vengeance. Though she could kill; she could not be killed herself during a blood feud. Except for that, she was essentially regarded as a man, even “she” was always referred to as “he.” Diana understood some women chose this path to avoid an arranged marriage, and if they decided to be with a man later, the sworn virgin and her lover—even if he was her husband—could be shot by her family or her former betrothed’s family for dishonoring them. Her family would carry shame, and her former betrothed’s family had the right to shoot the men in her family, too.

Impressive debut novel by Dukes.

Diana is a complicated character. Prickly, soft, tough, talented, capable, and intelligent, she’s all over the place and as the story unfolds we become intimate with Diana understanding why she’s blustery. Sadly she is born in a time and culture where woman are considered inferior. Clearly Diana is a nonconformist, encouraged by her father as he recognized her talents and fostered her growth even though it was frowned upon. I love the bond father and daughter shared. Forced into a life of a Sworn Virgin, you can’t help but feel for Diana’s choice, so much ahead, and yet she elected a life of sacrifice in order to protect and provide not to mention survival for herself and stepmother. The relationship Diana has with her stepmother is frustratingly heartbreaking, certainly adding dimension to the story.

I applaud authors approaching obscure historical facts, in this case, the unfamiliar to most, Sworn Virgin of Albania. Also was impressed with Dukes selection of Albania, not a lot of books out with this particular country as the setting. Riveting and educational as we journey with Diana as a Sworn Virgin while learning of culture and traditions of Albania. Plenty of excitement and unexpectedness makes for a gripping read.

My only gripe, I would have liked to have learned more of Diana’s mother. Bits and pieces were tossed about arousing my curiosity leaving me hoping her backstory becomes less hazy in the future, if a sequel is indeed in the works.

Great writing, research and an ambitions narrative for a neophyte authoresses. Dukes is talented and I appreciate her vision and unique choice of plot, clearly not a run of the mill writer regarding characters, subject matters and location.

Based on the ending, a mixture of abruptness and cliffhanger, I do hope a sequel is planned for the very near future. I became so involved with Diana I must know what her future holds, too many loose ends requiring resolution.

Outstanding novel on numerous levels. Kristopher Dukes is an authoress to keep on your radar. Looking forward to reading more from Dukes.

About Kristopher Dukes


Kristopher Dukes was born and raised in Los Angeles, California. She has been a nationally published writer since high school and her work has appeared in bestselling book series “Written in the Dirt.” “A Sworn Virgin: Broken Promises” is her debut novel. She lives in Manhattan Beach, California with her husband Matt and pitbull Lucius.

Connect with Kristopher:  Facebook | Amazon


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Publication Date March 2, 2016 by Amazon Digital Services LLC

Review of The True and Splendid History of The Harristown Sisters by Michelle Lovric


About The True and Splendid History of The Harristown Sisters

It is the age of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, when Europe burns with a passion for long-flowing locks. And when seven sisters, born into fatherless poverty in Ireland, grow up with hair cascading down their backs, to their ankles, and beyond, men are not slow to recognise their potential.

It begins with a singing and dancing septet, with Irish jigs kicked out in dusty church halls. But it is not the sisters’ singing or their dancing that fills the seats: it is the torrents of hair they let loose at the end of each show. And their hair will take dark-hearted Darcy, bickering twins Berenice and Enda, plain Pertilly, gentle Oona, wild Ida and fearful, flame-haired Manticory – the inimitable narrator of their on-and-off stage adventures – out of poverty, through the dance halls of Ireland, to the salons of Dublin and the palazzi of Venice. It will bring some of them love and each of them loss. For their past trails behind the sisters like the tresses on their heads, and their fame and fortune will come at a terrible price…

My Review

Lovric possesses a wonderful gift of language. Her prose is stunning. She also has a talent for witty banter as we soon discover with the sisters insistent bickering. Loosely based on the Seven Sutherland Sisters nonfictional story, we find Lovric’s version highly entertaining with a sharp gothic edge. Very clever, dark, humorous and touches of romance all blending nicely to create a fascinating character driven plot. The sisters are constantly at war, enjoyable at first but after a length it quickly turns to annoying, however, you understand their severe squabbling as the ending approaches, making it all fall neatly into place. Despite the fiction between the sisters, they are entangled together dependent on each other for fame and fortune, success avail as only a team. Darcy the brutal domineering, money-grubbing leader bullies the clan while allowing for outsiders to promote and take advantage of the sisters, eventually the consequences catch up and its dues ensue. Parts are outlandish leaning towards a dark fair tale feel, although the hair premise keeps you focused as well as the very individual sisters with their trials and tribulations. Well crafted somewhat enthralling read. Lovric’s writing is outstanding, making the reading adventure worthwhile. Memorable tale.

About Michelle Lovric15540

Michelle Lovric is a novelist, writer and anthologist.

Her third novel, The Remedy, was long-listed for the 2005 Orange Prize for Fiction. The Remedy is a literary murder-mystery set against the background of the quack medicine industry in the eighteenth century.

Her first novel, Carnevale, is the story of the painter Cecilia Cornaro, described by The Times as the possessor of ‘the most covetable life’ in fiction in 2001.

In Lovric’s second novel, The Floating Book, a chorus of characters relates the perilous beginning of the print industry in Venice. The book explores the translation of raw emotion into saleable merchandise from the points of view of poets, editors, publishers – and their lovers. The Floating Book, a London Arts award winner, was also selected as a WH Smith ‘Read of the Week’.

Her first novel for young adult readers, The Undrowned Child, is published by Orion. The sequel is due in summer 2010.

Her fourth adult novel, The Book of Human Skin, is published by Bloomsbury in Spring 2010.

Lovric reviews for publications including The Times and writes travel articles about Venice. She has featured in several BBC radio documentaries about Venice.

She combines her fiction work with editing, designing and producing literary anthologies including her own translations of Latin and Italian poetry. Her book Love Letters was a New York Times best-seller.

Lovric divides her time between London and Venice. She holds a workshop in her home in London with published writers of poetry and prose, fiction and memoir.

Published June 5th 2014 by Bloomsbury UK (first published 2014)

Review of Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly


About Lilac Girls

New York socialite Caroline Ferriday has her hands full with her post at the French consulate and a new love on the horizon. But Caroline’s world is forever changed when Hitler’s army invades Poland in September 1939—and then sets its sights on France.

An ocean away from Caroline, Kasia Kuzmerick, a Polish teenager, senses her carefree youth disappearing as she is drawn deeper into her role as courier for the underground resistance movement. In a tense atmosphere of watchful eyes and suspecting neighbors, one false move can have dire consequences.

For the ambitious young German doctor, Herta Oberheuser, an ad for a government medical position seems her ticket out of a desolate life. Once hired, though, she finds herself trapped in a male-dominated realm of Nazi secrets and power.

The lives of these three women are set on a collision course when the unthinkable happens and Kasia is sent to Ravensbrück, the notorious Nazi concentration camp for women. Their stories cross continents—from New York to Paris, Germany, and Poland—as Caroline and Kasia strive to bring justice to those whom history has forgotten.

My Review

LOVED this book! Extremely well researched and the writing is outstanding. Three women’s lives amazingly intersect and are impacted by WWII starting in 1939. The three perspectives made this a consuming and gripping read. I enjoyed all three protagonists, the build up to their crossings peak serving as centerpiece.

Fabulous story with loads to discuss, highly recommend this book. I look forward to reading more from Kelly, she has left an impression with her mastery of words, characters and narrative. One of the best books I have read this year.

About Martha Hall Kelly14160478

Martha is a native New Englander but has become nomadic, splitting her time between New York City, Martha’s Vineyard and Atlanta, Georgia. She worked as an advertising copywriter for many years and raised three splendid children, while researching Lilac Girls, her first novel. When Martha is not chasing after her new puppy she is hard at work on her next book. You’ll find more info about the true story behind Lilac Girls at her website and lots of visual inspiration for the book on the Pinterest account she is madly in love with.

Published April 5th 2016 by Ballantine Books

Review of Portrait of a Conspiracy: Da Vinci’s Disciples by Donna Russo Morin


About Portrait of a Conspiracy: Da Vinci’s Disciples – Book One

One murder ignites the powderkeg that threatens to consume the Medici’s Florence. Amidst the chaos, five women and one legendary artist weave together a plot that could bring peace, or get them all killed. Seeking to wrest power from the Medici family in 15th Century Florence, members of the Pazzi family drew their blades in a church and slew Giuliano. But Lorenzo de Medici survives, and seeks revenge on everyone involved, plunging the city into a murderous chaos that takes dozens of lives. Bodies are dragged through the streets, and no one is safe. Five women steal away to a church to ply their craft in secret. Viviana, Fiammetta, Isabetta, Natasia, and Mattea are painters, not allowed to be public with their skill, but freed from the restrictions in their lives by their art. When a sixth member of their group, Lapaccia, goes missing, and is rumored to have stolen a much sought after painting as she vanished, the women must venture out into the dangerous streets to find their friend and see her safe. They will have help from one of the most renowned painters of their era the peaceful and kind Leonardo Da Vinci. It is under his tutelage that they will flourish as artists, and with his access that they will infiltrate some of the highest, most secretive places in Florence, unraveling one conspiracy as they build another in its place. Historical fiction at its finest, Donna Russo Morin begins a series of Da Vinci’s disciples with a novel both vibrant and absorbing, perfect for the readers of Sarah Dunant.

My Review

One exciting story. Great indicator of a very promising series. I was easily swept away from the beginning unable to tear myself away, ‘just one more chapter’ was my silently uttered broken promise. Morin provides excellent dimensional characterization with exceptional development. I found myself wanting to be part of the esteemed female assemblage, rather I had the privilege of living vicariously via Morin’s outstanding writing. Loved the female strength, courage, intelligence, and talent of the ladies. The past comes to life, a historical event is revisited boldly and vividly providing stimulating visualization through well crafted words and descriptions. Morin no doubt spent extensive time researching, job well done on all avenues. I’m on tenterhooks waiting for the next installment. Noteworthy.

About the Author03_Donna-Russo-Morin

Donna Russo Morin is the award winning of author of historical fiction. A graduate of the University of Rhode Island, she lives near the shore with her two sons, Devon and Dylan, her greatest works in progress.

Donna enjoys meeting with book groups in person and via Skype chat. Visit her website at www.donnarussomorin.com; friend her on Facebook and follow her on Twitter @DonnaRussoMorin.

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Publication Date: May 10, 2016 Diversion Books

Review & Giveaway of Marlene: A Novel by C.W. Gortner


About Marlene

Raised in genteel poverty after the first World War, Maria Magdalena Dietrich dreams of a life on the stage. When a budding career as a violinist is cut short, the willful teenager vows to become a singer, trading her family’s proper, middle class society for the free-spirited, louche world of Weimar Berlin’s cabarets and drag balls. With her sultry beauty, smoky voice, seductive silk cocktail dresses, and androgynous tailored suits, Marlene performs to packed houses, and becomes entangled in a series of stormy love affairs that push the boundaries of social convention.

For the beautiful, desirous Lili Marlene, neither fame nor marriage and motherhood can cure her wanderlust. As Hitler and the Nazis rise to power, she sets sail for America. Rivaling the success of another European import, Greta Garbo, Marlene quickly becomes one of Hollywood’s leading ladies, starring with legends such as Gary Cooper, John Wayne, and Cary Grant. Desperate for her return, Hitler tries to lure her with dazzling promises. Marlene instead chooses to become an American citizen, and after her new nation is forced into World War II, tours with the USO, performing for thousands of Allied troops in Europe and Africa.

But one day she will return to Germany. Escorted by General George Patton himself, Marlene is heartbroken by the war’s devastation and the evil legacy of the Third Reich that has transformed her homeland and the family she loved.

An enthralling and insightful account of this extraordinary legend, Marlene reveals the inner life of a woman of grit, glamour, and ambition who defied convention, seduced the world, and forged her own path on her own terms.

My Review

Gortner gives readers the undeniable enigmatic Marlene Dietrich in all her glory reading more nonfiction than fiction. With certitude Gortner is a talented writer with a creative eye possessing a knack celebrating iconic women.

Marlene’s story is detailed and alluring. Nothing new brought to light for those familiar with the mysterious lady, although his emphasis on Dietrich’s aiding the allies during wartime by entertaining military personnel on the home front and abroad might be a revelation to readers. Her love affairs with both men and women were plenty. A public figure yet achingly private. Her childhood somewhat of a challenge, her relationship with her mother turbulent.

Marlene was a nonconformist, she lived her life her way without apology, excuses or regret, Marlene did not bend for the world despite societal expectations. A progressive woman in thought, choices and actions clearly ahead of her time.

I wasn’t a fan of the clunky sex scenes, awkwardly descriptive. I did appreciate the vivid atmospheric taste of Germany, its people and concerns of Hitler and pre/post WWII. Kudos for the thorough research, as always Gortner crafts a story of a woman of strength, independence holding on to her individuality. A man who understands women exploiting them in their individual exuberance.

About C.W. Gortner169656

Bestselling author C.W. Gortner holds an MFA in Writing, with an emphasis in Renaissance Studies. Raised in Spain and half Spanish by birth, he currently lives in Northern California. His books have been translated in over 20 languages to date.

He welcomes readers and is always available for reader group chats. Please visit his website for more information.


Enter to win my ARC of Marlene. US residents only. Ends 5/11/16

Expected publication: May 24th 2016 by William Morrow

Review of Loving Eleanor by Susan Wittig Albert


About Loving Eleanor

When AP political reporter Lorena Hickok—Hick—is assigned to cover Eleanor Roosevelt in the 1932 campaign, the two women become deeply involved. Their relationship begins with mutual romantic passion, matures through stormy periods of enforced separation and competing interests, and warms into an enduring, encompassing friendship documented by 3300 letters.

Set during the chaotic years of the Great Depression, the New Deal, and the Second World War, Loving Eleanor reveals Eleanor Roosevelt as a complex, contradictory, and entirely human woman who is pulled in many directions by her obligations to her husband and family and her role as the nation’s First Lady. Hick is revealed as an accomplished journalist, who, at the pinnacle of her career, gives it all up for the woman she loves. Then, as Eleanor is transformed into Eleanor Everywhere, First Lady of the World, Hick must create her own independent, productive life. Loving Eleanor is a profoundly moving novel that illuminates a relationship we are seldom privileged to see, celebrating the depth and durability of women’s love.

My Review

Hick served as narrator. She was balanced and fair in describing both relationship and Eleanor.

More than a love story, a broad view of the turmoil the country was facing and challenges yet to come. Lorena Hickox a female pioneer in the field of journalism, accomplished and respected. She was responsible for encouraging and guiding Eleanor in pursuits endearing her to the public. Eleanor experienced the depths of hardships accompanying Hick while investigating for FERA, Eleanor witnessed firsthand the bowels of poverty propelling her to serve as advocate and savior for those suffering – loved the fact this was included in narrative showcasing both women’s intelligence and compassion.

“Later, I would imagine that night on the train as a metaphor for our relationship: two lonely people hurtling through the dark toward an unreachable destination, each clinging to the other as if they were the last survivors on a moon swept out of orbit by a force too powerful to be opposed.”

Albert does a wonderful job with historical facts, no doubt this was an extremely troubling time in history, with such vivid descriptions it’s truly emotional. You know from the beginning the tender romance is ruined, the two will forever be tethered but never be able to truly be joined, bittersweet.

“In another space of time, I would come to understand the many differences between wanting and loving and loving and needing.”

Loads of information at the end, extensive afterward and bibliography for further reading. Albert’s extensive research is noted, outstanding job.

Truly a touching story of two amazing, inspiring and admired women but also a poignant time in history.

About Susan Wittig Albert20828

Susan Wittig Albert is the award-winning, NYT bestselling author of the forthcoming historical novel Loving Eleanor (2016), about the intimate friendship of Eleanor Roosevelt and Lorena Hickok; and A Wilder Rose(2014), about Rose Wilder Lane and the writing of the Little House books.

Her award-winning fiction also includes mysteries in the China Baylesseries, the Darling Dahlias, the Cottage Tales of Beatrix Potter, and a series of Victorian-Edwardian mysteries she has written with her husband, Bill Albert, under the pseudonym of Robin Paige.

She has written two memoirs: An Extraordinary Year of Ordinary Daysand Together, Alone: A Memoir of Marriage and Place, published by the University of Texas Press.

Her nonfiction titles include What Wildness is This: Women Write About the Southwest (winner of the 2009 Willa Award for Creative Nonfiction); Writing from Life: Telling the Soul’s Story; and Work of Her Own: A Woman’s Guide to Success Off the Career Track.

She is founder and current president (2015-2017) of the Story Circle Network and a member of the Texas Institute of Letters.

For more information please visit www.susanalbert.com and www.LovingEleanor.com, or read her blog. You can also find Susan on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Goodreads, and Pinterest. Like the Loving Eleanor page on Facebook.

Published February 1st 2016 by Persevero Press

Review of Modern Girls by Jennifer S. Brown


About Modern Girls

In 1935, Dottie Krasinsky is the epitome of the modern girl. A bookkeeper in Midtown Manhattan, Dottie steals kisses from her steady beau, meets her girlfriends for drinks, and eyes the latest fashions. Yet at heart, she is a dutiful daughter, living with her Yiddish-speaking parents on the Lower East Side. So when, after a single careless night, she finds herself in a family way by a charismatic but unsuitable man, she is desperate: unwed, unsure, and running out of options.

After the birth of five children—and twenty years as a housewife—Dottie’s immigrant mother, Rose, is itching to return to the social activism she embraced as a young woman. With strikes and breadlines at home and National Socialism rising in Europe, there is much more important work to do than cooking and cleaning. So when she realizes that she, too, is pregnant, she struggles to reconcile her longings with her faith.

As mother and daughter wrestle with unthinkable choices, they are forced to confront their beliefs, the changing world, and the fact that their lives will never again be the same….

My Review

Fabulous book! I look forward to more from Brown. I do hope there is a sequel, I would love to discover what becomes of Dottie and Rose for that matter. I adored both Rose and Dottie equally.

I like the way Brown explored the intricate relationship of a mother-daughter. Having both struggling with similar issues under different circumstances was fantastic. The strong bond between mother-daughter was brilliantly presented, I felt Rose’s anguish as a mother as well as Dottie’s anguish as a daughter, the joys and sorrows, disappointments and successes fully displayed. Rose and Dottie were so transparent thanks to Brown’s skill with full-blown characterization. 1930’s New York well described along with Jewish tenement life.

As the narrative moved along I knew what was going to transpire because it made sense and suited the characters and the era. Having the narrative alternate between Dottie and Rose allows for both perspectives, brings you closer to protagonists. The obstacles, tough decisions women faced were affecting.

I was swept away with this story from the start, frantically turning the pages to find out the ending. I was saddened when I reached the end. I want more of these two fierce women, I want to know what happens!!

Kudos to Brown for such a stellar story!!

About Jennifer S. Brown

Jenny Brown, June 9, 2015.

Jenny Brown, June 9, 2015.

Jennifer S. Brown lives and writes in the suburbs of Boston. When she’s not writing, she’s running, reading, baking, and spending time with her husband and two kids.

Her fiction, articles, and essays have appeared in numerous publications, and she was the winner of the 2005 World’s Best Short-Short Story Contest (judged by Robert Olen Butler) in the Southeast Review. Her creative nonfiction piece, “The Codeine of Jordan,” published in the Bellevue Literary Review, was selected as a notable essay in 2012’s The Best American Travel Writing and included in volume 9 of The Best Women’s Travel Writing. MODERN GIRLS (NAL/Penguin) is her debut novel.

Published April 5th 2016 by NAL

Review & Giveaway for The Dark Lady’s Mask: A Novel of Shakespeare’s Muse by Mary Sharratt

02_The Dark Lady's Mask

About The Dark Lady’s Mask: A Novel of Shakespeare’s Muse

Shakespeare in Love meets Shakespeare’s Sister in this novel of England’s first professional woman poet and her collaboration and love affair with William Shakespeare.

London, 1593. Aemilia Bassano Lanier is beautiful and accomplished, but her societal conformity ends there. She frequently cross-dresses to escape her loveless marriage and to gain freedoms only men enjoy, but a chance encounter with a ragged, little-known poet named Shakespeare changes everything.

Aemilia grabs at the chance to pursue her long-held dream of writing and the two outsiders strike up a literary bargain. They leave plague-ridden London for Italy, where they begin secretly writing comedies together and where Will falls in love with the beautiful country — and with Aemilia, his Dark Lady. Their Italian idyll, though, cannot last and their collaborative affair comes to a devastating end. Will gains fame and fortune for their plays back in London and years later publishes the sonnets mocking his former muse. Not one to stand by in humiliation, Aemilia takes up her own pen in her defense and in defense of all women.

The Dark Lady’s Mask gives voice to a real Renaissance woman in every sense of the word.

Amazon (Kindle) | Amazon (Hardcover) | Amazon UK | Barnes & Noble


My Review

FABULOUS book with a FIERCE female protagonist.

I love the way Sharratt depicted Aemilia Bassano Lanier. For those of you familiar with my reviews, you are aware of my affinity towards extremely strong and independent female characters, and believe me Aemilia is indeed strong. Her intelligence, instinct for survival and cunning nature allow her to remain resilient during the darkest of times. In the face of adversity this woman rises to the challenge, never crumbling, rather she deals with what is put in front of her to the best of her ability, often over achieving. She’s unconventional, compassionate, possessing unlimited talent. It’s a shame her romantic life was more misses than hits filled with heartbreak. The Weir sisters were a great addition to the story along with Shakespeare.

Riveting story, pulling at your heartstrings, of a woman ahead of her time in actions and thinking. Her thirst for freedom is intoxicating, truly a maverick.

Sharratt certainly painted a wonderful picture of an unforgettable woman and is now a favored author, I look forward to more from this authoress, with her outstanding ability to portray a woman of strength matched with intelligence I can only image what she will pen next.

About Mary Sharratt03_Mary Sharratt

MARY SHARRATT is an American writer who has lived in the Pendle region of Lancashire, England, for the past seven years. The author of the critically acclaimed novels Summit Avenue, The Real Minerva, and The Vanishing Point, Sharratt is also the co-editor of the subversive fiction anthology Bitch Lit, a celebration of female antiheroes, strong women who break all the rules.


To enter to win a copy of The Dark Lady’s Mask please complete the giveaway form below. Open to US residents only. Ends 5/27/15

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Publication Date: April 19, 2016 Houghton Mifflin Harcourt