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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 The Queen’s Exiles (Thornleigh #6) by Barbara Kyle


About The Queen’s Exiles

1572. Europe is in turmoil. In the Netherlands the streets are red with the blood of those who dare to oppose the brutal Spanish occupation. A vengeful faction of exiled English Catholics is plotting to overthrow Queen Elizabeth and install her cousin Mary, Queen of Scots on the throne. But amid the unrest, one resourceful young woman has made a lucrative enterprise …

Scottish-born Fenella Doorn rules like a queen over a privateer’s haven on the Isle of Sark. Her success at salvaging crippled vessels affords her gold and security, and it is on one of these ships that she meets wealthy Baron—and privateer—Adam Thornleigh. Secretly drawn to him, Fenella can’t refuse when Adam enlists her to join him in war-torn Brussels to help find his traitorous wife, Frances—and the children she’s taken from him.

But Fenella’s own bold actions have put a price on her head. Now Adam and Fenella’s lives are in peril as they race across Europe in an attempt to rescue his young ones, defend the crown, and restore the peace that few can remember.

My Review

Fabulous action, suspense and romance. I thoroughly enjoyed this story so much I purchased all the books in the series. An enthralling glimpse into turbulent political and social times regarding England, Spain and Netherlands.

Fenella Doorn is fictional, although her strength and vulnerability is plausible. She’s a great example of mettle tested through difficult times, also the devices possessed to survive especially for a female.

Extremely well written, rich in details. The plot is engaging, I couldn’t put the book down. I have a new favorite author – Barbara Kyle. Historical fiction fans will want to make room on your shelf for this book along with the entire series.

About Barbara Kyle623139

I’ve enjoyed two fulfilling careers, first as an actor, now as an author.

After studying at the National Theater School of Canada in Montreal and the Professional Actor’s Training Program at the University of Washington, I played roles in dozens of film, television, and stage productions in Canada and the U.S.

High HopesSome highlights: I starred in the TV daytime drama High Hopes, played a continuing role in the TV series The Campbells, acted on stage with Margaret Hamilton at the Seattle Repertory Theater (she was the wicked witch in the beloved classic film The Wizard of Oz), worked with renowned director Jean Gascon in Moliere’s 17th-century play The Miser, and got laughs in Neil Simon’s Broadway-hit Chapter Two at the Bayview Playhouse in Toronto. I loved being an actor.

It felt like a natural extension of my acting to create characters for fiction. In 2008 Kensington Books published my first historical novel, The Queen’s Lady, which introduced Honor Larke, lady-in-waiting to Queen Catherine of Aragon, and ship captain/courtier Richard Thornleigh in the nerve-jangled court of Henry VIII. The intrigue and adventure of that period fueled the creation of six more books in the Thornleigh Saga. The series follows the Thornleigh family’s rise through three tumultuous Tudor reigns, during which they make hard choices about loyalty, duty, family and love. Book #7, The Traitors Daughter The Traitor’s Daughter, is the latest, released in May 2015.

Published May 27th 2014 by Kensington (first published January 1st 2014)

Review: Return of the Witch by Paula Brackston


About Return of the Witch

After five years in the Summerlands, Gideon has gained his freedom. Elizabeth knows he will go straight for Tegan, and that she must protect the girl she had come to regard as her own daughter. In the time since she the dramatic night in Batchcombe woods, Tegan has travelled the world learning from all manner of witches, and she is no longer the awkward teenager and novice spellcaster she once was. However, her skills are no match for Gideon’s dark, vengeful power, and he succeeds in capturing her. Will Elizabeth be able to find her? Will they be able to defeat their nemisis once and for all?

In a breathless journey that takes them through history, witch pursues warlock. Three people steeped in magic weave a new story, but not all will survive until the end.

My Review

Brackston’s spellbinding language is the driving force along with endearing characters and a well-balanced narrative with the perfect amounts of witchcraft, mystery, suspense and thrills, even a little romance appears. Her characters are strong, intelligent and sensible. The foursome possesses a chemistry thus pulling the reader in further. The ‘Time Stepping’ and sub-plots enhance as opposed to distract. I enjoy the pacing, the motives are revealed slowly as your bond with characters deepens. The cat and mouse game between Elizabeth and Gideon becomes monotonous at times, however, Brackston’s artistic prose rescues long-term damage. Brackston provides a more than satisfying ending, never leaving her audience high and dry with abruptness. Fantastic story allowing mere mortals to enter the world of immortals via classy and charismatic necromancers.

About Paula Brackston1106214

Paula Brackston (aka PJ Brackston)is the New York Times bestselling author of The Witch’s Daughter, The Winter Witch, and The Midnight Witch(2014).

Paula has an MA in Creative Writing from Lancaster University, and is a Visiting Lecturer for the University of Wales, Newport. In 2007 Paula was short listed in the Creme de la Crime search for new writers. In 2010 her book ‘Nutters’ (writing as PJ Davy) was short listed for the Mind Book Award, and she was selected by the BBC under their New Welsh Writers scheme.

Paula lives in Wales with her partner and their two children.

Return of the Witch by Paula Brackston, expected publication: March 8th 2016 by Thomas Dunne Books

Review: Vanessa and Her Sister by Priya Parmar


It can break your heart to have a sister like Virginia Woolf.

The journal, diary entries with the postcards, letters et all provide an intimacy and authenticity to the narrative. I felt as if I was perusing a scrapbook, journal of sorts bonding with parties involved.

We are given hints to Virginia’s fragile mental health, as the story progresses we learn of the continued concern of her state of mind. Her meltdowns visited. Vanessa the thread holding the fabric of the family together, her shoulders bear the burden of responsibility, protectress, nurturer. Highs and lows palpable as we ride the wave of evolving family and friendships. I can’t image such a gifted group of people not embracing unconventionality and its agony and ecstasy. Would have loved being part of this esteemed group if only for an evening.

I was exhausted as I read of Vanessa, her ongoing concern of her sister, Virginia’s betrayal along with her marriage slipping it must have been trying. She puts herself last and its toll obvious. I found her frustrating and endearing. Virginia’s possessive attachment toward Vanessa specifically utterly suffocating. Vanessa placed in a precarious position of balancing Clive, Virginia and motherhood, the scales always unbalanced.

The plethora of characters took some getting used to, it was a challenge to familiarize myself with all involved. A few characters were dynamic, others trifling. Vanessa stole the show, with her vulnerability, smart and resilience. She carries herself with grace and poise under the most difficult of circumstances. Finally Vanessa realizes her self-importance and stops sidestepping her desires, I was relieved with this poignant revelation.

Ambitious and successful effort on Parmar’s part. I found the book utterly fascinating, raw and memorable.

About Priya Parmar3184722

I am a former dramaturg and freelance editor, educated at Mount Holyoke College, The University of Oxford and The University of Edinburgh. I am the author of one previous novel, Exit the Actress. My husband and I and our French bulldog Herbert, divide our time between Hawaii and London. Hello.

Review: The Lake House by Kate Morton

02_The Lake HousePublication Date: October 20, 2015
Atria Books
Hardcover & eBook; 512 Pages

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An intricately plotted, spellbinding new novel of heart-stopping suspense and uncovered secrets.

I’m reluctant with alternating narratives but Kate Morton masters the art of the past and the present, never disappointing in alternative narratives with one story dominating the other, both equal in appeal and presence.

The differing storylines were tied together perfectly, especially Sadie’s final outcome. Morton possesses skill in tying plots together with precision execution.

The thorough flashbacks prior to the story kicking into full gear laid the ground work for what was to come, also providing a glimpse into the characters and their back story.

On the seat of your pants suspense, the dark secrets slowly surfacing and the many cliffhangers will keep you enthralled. The plot is nothing less than clever, each bread crumb leaves you turning the pages with angst to discover the final outcome. I absolutely adored the ending, fabulous.

Morton fans will find themselves lost in this beautifully written, creative story of love, loss, loyalty, promises and deep secrets. Morton magically creates absorbing mysteries shrouded in dark secrets with alternating narratives like no other, her twists will entertain until the very end.




Kate Morton grew up in the mountains of south-east Queensland and lives now with her husband and young sons in Brisbane. She has degrees in dramatic art and English literature, specializing in nineteenth-century tragedy and contemporary Gothic novels.

Kate Morton has sold over 7.5 million copies in 26 languages, across 38 countries. Her novels include The House at Riverton, The Forgotten Garden, The Distant Hours, and The Secret Keeper.

You can find more information about Kate Morton and her books at www.katemorton.com or www.facebook.com/KateMortonAuthor

Unshelfish is proud to be included in the tour for Kate Morton’s The Lake House. Be sure to click on the HFVBT banner to check out the entire tour schedule.

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Book Blast & Giveaway: Owen Archer Series by Candace Robb

The summer is heating up with the re-issue of Candace Robb’s Owen Archer historical crime series! Nine of the ten books were just released in eBook format, with all new, beautiful covers, and is now available to download for your eReader! At only $2.99 per eBook, it’s a FAB deal on a great series!

The Apothecary Rose (Small)


“Suspenseful, historically accurate, and blessed with a wonderful cast of characters, THE APOTHECARY ROSE is an absolute delight from start to finish…” ó Charles de Lint, author of the Newford Series

In the year of our Lord 1363, two suspicious deaths in the infirmary of St. Maryís Abbey catch the attention of the powerful John Thoresby, Lord Chancellor of England and Archbishop of York. One victim is a pilgrim, while the second is Thoresbyís neíer-do-well ward, both apparently poisoned by a physic supplied by Master Apothecary Nicholas Wilton. In the wake of these deaths, the archbishop dispatches one-eyed spy Owen Archer to York to find the murderer.

Under the guise of a disillusioned soldier keen to make a fresh start, Owen insinuates himself into Wiltonís apothecary as an apprentice. But he finds Wilton bedridden, with the shop being run by his lovely, enigmatic young wife, Lucie. As Owen unravels a tangled history of scandal and tragedy, he discovers at its center a desperate, forbidden love twisted over time into obsession. And the woman he has come to love is his prime suspect.

Lovingly detailed, beautifully written, THE APOTHECARY ROSE is a captivating and suspenseful tale of life, love, and death in medieval England.

The Lady Chapel (Small) (2)


ìA lovingly detailed background informs and animates the plot at every point.î óKIRKUS

Perfect for fans of both Ellis Peters and CJ Sansom, THE LADY CHAPEL is a vivid and immersive portrait of court intrigue and a testament to the power of the medieval guilds.

Summer in the year of our Lord 1365. On the night after the Corpus Christi procession, a man is brutally murdered on the steps of York Minster. The next morning his severed hand is found in a room at the York Tavernóa room hastily vacated by a fellow guild member who had quarreled with the victim.

Archbishop Thoresby calls on Owen Archer to investigate. As Owen tracks the fleeing merchant, he uncovers a conspiracy involving a powerful company of traders, but his only witness is a young boy who has gone into hiding, and his only suspect is a mysterious cloaked woman. When Owen discovers a link between the traders and a powerful coterie in the royal court, he brings his apothecary wife Lucie into the race to find the boy before he is silenced forever by the murderers.

The Nuns Tale (Small)


ì[An] engrossing taleÖimbued with the flavor of English medieval life, Robbís story melds true events with fiction to create a gripping historical mystery.îóPUBLISHERS WEEKLY

Based on an enigmatic entry in the records of Clementhorpe Nunnery, this authentic, gripping mystery conjures a 14th century ripe with forbidden passions and political intrigue.

When young nun Joanna Calverley dies of a fever in the town of Beverley in the summer of 1365 she is buried quickly for fear of the plague. But a year later, Archbishop Thoresby learns of a woman who has arrived in York claiming to be the resurrected nun, talking of relic-trading and miracles. And death seems to ride in her wake.

The archbishop sends Owen Archer to retrace the womanís journey, an investigation that leads him across the north from Leeds to Beverley to Scarborough. Along the way he encounters Geoffrey Chaucer, a spy for the king of England, who believes there is a connection between the nunís troubles, renegade mercenaries, and the powerful Percy family. Back in York, however, Owenís wife Lucie, pregnant with their first child, has won the confidence of the mysterious nun and realizes that there are secrets hidden in the womanís seemingly mad ramblings…

The Kings Bishop (Small)


ìRobb continues to adeptly blend politics with period detail and three-dimensioned characterizations in the Owen Archer tales.î óPUBLISHERS WEEKLY

From the marshy Thames to the misty Yorkshire moors, murder stalks Welsh soldier-sleuth Owen Archer and one of his oldest friends.

On a snowy morning in 1367, Sir William of Wyndesoreís page is found in the icy moat of Windsor Castle, and some whisper that the murderer was Ned Townleyóa former comrade-in-arms of Owen Archer. Burdened with a reputation as a notoriously jealous lover, Ned cannot hope to clear his name; even Mary, his ladylove, is unsure of the truth. Hoping to put Ned out of harmís way while solving the murder, Owen places his friend in charge of a mission to Rievaulx Abbey at the edge of the moors. But when the travelers receive news of Maryís drowning, Ned vanishes into the wild.

Riding out in search of his old friend, Owen does not know whether he will be Nedís savior or executioner. With his one good eye, Owen sees more than most, but now he must find a way to penetrate the curtains of power that surround the Church and Englandís royal court and discover the truth of Nedís innocence or guilt…

The Riddle of St (Small)


ìGripping and believableÖyou can almost smell the streets of 14th-century York as you delve deeper into an engrossing plot.î óPRIMA

In the year of our Lord 1369 the much-loved Queen Philippa lies dying in Windsor Castle, the harvest has failed, and the pestilence has returned. In York, the atmosphere of fear and superstition is heightened by a series of thefts and violent deaths at St. Leonardís Hospital and rumors that these crimes are connected to the hospitalís dwindling funds. The Master of St. Leonardís, Sir Richard Ravenser, hurries north from the queenís deathbed to summon Owen Archer, soldier-spy, to investigate the scandal before it ruins him.

While Owenís wife Lucie faces the plague-panicked townsfolk at the apothecary, Owen encounters a seemingly random series of clues: a riddle posed by one of the victims at the hospital, a lay sister with a scandalous past, the kidnapping of a child from the hospital orphanage, and a case of arson. The answer to the riddle of St. Leonardís lies in the past, and as Owenís family is caught up in the sweep of the pestilence, he must abandon them to race across the countryside to save the next victim.

A Gift of Sanctuary (Small)


ìRobb deftly interweaves a complex story of love, passion and murder into the troubled and tangled fabric of Welsh history, fashioning a rich and satisfying novel.î óPUBLISHERS WEEKLY

Under the pretense of escorting his father-in-law and the archbishopís secretary on a pilgrimage to the sacred city of St. Davidís in Wales, Owen Archer and Geoffrey Chaucer are carrying out a mission for the Duke of Lancaster. England and France are at war, and the southern coast of Wales is vulnerable to invasionóOwen and Geoffrey are to recruit archers for the dukeís army and inspect his Welsh fortifications on the coast, while quietly investigating whether the dukeís steward at Cydweli Castle is involved in a French plot to incite rebellion in Wales.

But trouble precedes them in the cathedral city of St. Davidís. On Whitesands Beach beyond the city a young man is beaten and left for dead, then spirited away by a Welsh bard. Shortly afterward a corpse clothed in the livery of the Duke of Lancaster is left at the city gate, his shoes filled with white sand. And at Cydweli Castle a chain of events begun by the theft of money from the castleís exchequer ends in a violent death and the disappearance of the stewardís beautiful young wife. Owen and Geoffrey begin to see connections linking the troubles in city and castle, and see they must unravel the complex story of betrayed love and political ambition to prevent more deaths.

But in the course of his investigations in the land of his birth, Owen is haunted by doubts about his own loyalties…

A Spy for the Redeemer (Small)


ìFascinatingÖcrisp, evocative writingÖ. The tapestry here is rich and varied.îóCLEVELAND PLAIN DEALER

Late spring in the year of our Lord 1370, and Owen Archer is anxious to leave Wales for home. His mission for the Duke of Lancaster complete, he attempts to arrange safe passage on a ship sailing for England, but the hanging of a stonemason interrupts his plans. On the surface it appears the young man was driven to suicide by a broken heart, but to Owen the signs all point to murder. As his investigation stretches on, however, Owen finds himself drawn into the influence of the leader of a Welsh rebellion whose manifesto speaks to his heart, and a choice is offered to him: join or die.

At home in York, Owenís wife Lucie is troubled by rumors that her husbandís long absence is permanent, as well as threats by a customer who claims she was poisoned by a physic from the Wilton apothecary. Meanwhile, Lucie is tempted by the attentions of a friendís steward, even as she uncovers a shattering betrayal in her own household.

The Guilt of Innocents (Small)


ìItísÖthe Machiavellian intrigue that makes this such an enjoyable read. When the iron curtain came down people said the spy-thriller genre was dead. They were wrong. This is as full of intrigue as a Deighton or a Le CarrÈ.î óTHE GUARDIAN

Winter in the year of our Lord 1372. A river pilot falls into the icy waters of the River Ouse during a skirmish between dockworkers and the boys of the minster school, which include Owen Archerís adopted son Jasper. But what began as a confrontation to return a boyís stolen scrip becomes a murder investigation as the rescuers find the pilot dying of wounds inflicted before his plunge into the river. When another body is fished from the river upstream and Owen discovers that the boy Jasper sought to help has disappeared, Owen Archer convinces the archbishop that he must go in search of the boy. His lost scrip seems to hold the key to the double tragedy, but his disappearance leaves troubling questions: did he flee in fear? Or was he abducted?

On the cusp of this new mystery, Owen accepts Jasperís offer to accompany him to the boyís home in the countryside, where they learn that a valuable cross has gone missing. A devastating fire and another drowning force Owen to make impossible choices, endangering not only himself, but the two innocents he fights to protect. The bond between fathers and sons proves strong, even between those not linked by blood.

A Vigil of Spies (Small)


ìAs always, Candace Robb writes a powerful story intertwined with genuine characters of the day.î óHISTORICAL NOVEL REVIEW

Archbishop Thoresby of York, the second most powerful cleric in England, lies dying in his bed. The end of his life is seen by the great families of the North as a chance to promote one of their own as his successor, and Thoresby himself announces he will leave the matter to the dean and chapter of York. On the eve of this decision, the dying archbishop agrees to a visit from Joan, Princess of Wales, wife of the Black Prince, heir to the throne of England, and Thoresbyís captain of the guard, Owen Archer, has no doubt that trouble will follow.

As soon as the company rides into the palace yard he is proved right: they arrive burdened with the body of one of their party, and Owen finds evidence that the manís death was no accident. Within days of this discover, a messenger carrying an urgent message for the Archbishop is found hanging in the woods. With guards surrounding the property, it is clear that the murderer walks among the palace guests. The powerful Percy and Neville families are well represented in the entourage, including a woman who remembers an afternoon tryst with Owen as much, much more. Even the princessí son is suspect. As Owen races to unmask the guilty and rid the palace of the royal party, his final wish for his lord is that he might die in peace.



Growing up, Candace Robb wanted to be a ballerina, tap dancer, folk singer, journalistóbut on the day that she walked into Liz Armstrongís undergraduate class on Chaucerís Troilus and Criseyde, that all changed. A gifted teacher, lively, witty, always laughing even when cringing at a lazy response, Dr. Armstrong launched into the opening stanzas, and within a few lines Candaceís ears adjusted to the middle Englishóand she was hooked. Chaucerís psychological study of the two lovers was a revelation to her. The next quarter was The Canterbury Tales. That clinched it. Candace went on to graduate work in medieval history and literature, and ever since sheís been engaged in bringing to life the rich culture of the period, from the arts to the politics. She is the internationally acclaimed author of thirteen crime novels featuring the sexy, brooding, clever Owen Archer, who solves crimes for John Thoresby, Archbishop of York and Lord Chancellor of England, and the young Margaret Kerr, searching for her missing husband and her role in a Scotland overrun by English soldiers. Candace is currently under contract with Pegasus Books for a new crime series set in 15th century York, the Kate Clifford mysteries, which will debut in 2016.

Writing as Emma Campion, Candace has published two historical novels about the women of the English court in the 14th century, A Triple Knot and The Kingís Mistress.

Born in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina, Candace grew up in Cincinnati, Ohio, and has lived most of her adult life in Seattle, Washington, which she loves for its combination of culture, natural beauty, and brooding weather so like Yorkshire, Wales, and Scotland, which she visits as often as possible. She has taught the art of writing the crime novel in the University of Washingtonís certificate program, and offers workshops in writing the historical novel and in creating and plotting the crime series. Candace (and Emma) blog about writing and medieval topics at A Writerís Retreat, ecampion.wordpress.com.



3 Sets of THE APOTHECARY ROSE, THE LADY CHAPEL, and THE NUN’S TALE in eBook are up for grabs! Enter using the Rafflecopter Widget below.


• Giveaway ends at 11:59pm EST on August 28th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
• Giveaway is open internationally.
• Only one entry per household.
• All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspect of fraud is decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion
• Winner has 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.

Unshelfish is proud to be included in the tour for Candace Robb’s Owen Archer Series. Be sure to click on the HFVBT banner to check out the entire tour schedule.

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Fiercombe Manor by Kate Riordan w/ Giveaway

Fiercombe Manor Hardcover: 416 pages
• Publisher: Harper (February 17, 2015)

Time separates two women linked through similar challenges. Dark secrets revealed, a journal discovered. Richly atmospheric, enough of a mild gothic edge to add a chillingly eerie feel as the mystery is unraveled.

Riordan does an outstanding job providing details of the manor both inside and outside. The lush grounds, the vast interior of the manor all captured in the reader’s mind. As you travel alternately through the past and present you are aware of social propriety, the oppression women faced during these sexist times.

I found Alice and Elizabeth equally compelling, leaning towards Elizabeth more. Alice was so niaeve, easily impressionable, I felt for her predicament. Elizabeth’s story was heartbreaking, so tragic especially when it is fully disclosed. A few twists caught me off guard which I enjoyed.

The slow pace was welcoming, allowing for characters to become personable and intimate with the peruser, igniting your curiosity as to what happened to Elizabeth and what will become of Alice. Riordan presents a stark glimpse into the poor treatment of women, pregnancy, mental health, women under the controlling thumb of men, secrets, marriage, love.

Entertaining read, I only wish it possessed a stronger gothic presence. On the fence with the ending.

About Fiercombe Manor
A house as old as Fiercombe Manor holds many secrets within its walls. But which dark chapter of its history is haunting Alice, a young woman staying there during the course of a fateful summer?

In 1933, naive twenty-two-year-old Alice is pregnant, unmarried, and disgraced. She can no longer share her parents’ London home, so her desperate mother concocts a cover story and begs her old friend, Mrs. Jelphs, for help. The housekeeper at rural Fiercombe Manor, Mrs. Jelphs is moved by Alice’s “plight” as a new widow and agrees to watch over her in the secluded English countryside until the baby is born and given up for adoption. Because the manor house’s owners, Lord and Lady Stanton, no longer live there, Alice’s only company will be Mrs. Jelphs and her skeleton staff.

At first, Fiercombe Manor offers Alice a welcome relief from her mother’s disapproving gaze. But she begins to sense that all is not well in the picturesque Gloucestershire valley. After a chance encounter with Tom, the young scion of the Stanton family, Alice discovers that Fiercombe’s beauty is haunted by the clan’s tragic past. She is determined to exorcise the ghosts of the idyllic, isolated house.

Nothing can prepare Alice for what she uncovers. Can she escape the tragic fate of the other women who have lived in the Fiercombe valley?

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Kate RiordanAbout Kate Riordan

Kate Riordan is a British writer and journalist who worked for the Guardian and Time Out London. She is also the author of Birdcage Walk and is already at work on her third novel. Born in London, she now lives in the Gloucestershire countryside.

Find out more about Kate at her website and connect with her on Twitter.

To enter to win a copy of Fiercombe Manor please complete the giveaway form below. Open to US residents only. Ends 3/14/15

Thrilled to be participating in the tour for Kate Riordan’s Fiercombe Manor, be sure to check out the entire tour schedule here, it runs through 9 April. Thank you TLC!


Heartbreak Hotel by Deborah Moggach w/ Giveaway


Buffy owner of a rundown B&B in Wales and a group of strangers find more in common than they first thought.

Wonderful collection of characters ranging in age and background set in vividly depicted Wales. Moggach excels in characterization and setting, both detailed, virtually jumping off of the pages. The reader experiences a delineated treat with Moggach’s intense descriptions.

A sweet story of average everyday people dealing with varying circumstances intersecting at Buffy’s B&B searching for healing, closure or respite. Life challenges aren’t always pretty, however, Moggach captures the narrative with great sentimentally along with plausibility. Humor patinas the intensity of the challenges faced by characters, offsets nicely.

No matter your age, a read all will enjoy and align with in at least some small way.

About Deborah Moggachimage
Deborah Moggach is a British writer, born Deborah Hough on 28 June 1948. She has written fifteen novels to date, including The Ex-Wives, Tulip Fever, and, most recently, These Foolish Things. She has adapted many of her novels as TV dramas and has also written several film scripts, including the BAFTA-nominated screenplay for Pride & Prejudice. She has also written two collections of short stories and a stage play. In February 2005, Moggach was awarded an honorary Doctor of Letters degree by her Alma Mater, the University of Bristol . She is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, a former Chair of the Society of Authors, and is on the executive committee of PEN.

To enter to win my personal ARC of Heartbreak Hotel, please complete the giveaway form below. Open to US residents only.
Ends 3/28/15

Paperback, 304 pages
Published March 3rd 2015 by Overlook Books
ISBN13: 9781468310573

Mist of Midnight by Sandra Byrd w/ Giveaway


Publication Date: March 10, 2015
Howard Books
Formats: eBook, Paperback
Pages: 384

|  Goodreads  |

In the first of a brand-new series set in Victorian England, a young woman returns home from India after the death of her family to discover her identity and inheritance are challenged by the man who holds her future in his hands.

I found myself quite engaged with plot and characters, so much so I swept through this wonderful book in a matter of hours, the suspense and mystery working hand in hand holding my attention and curiosity.

The gripping plot took me by surprise. Along with Rebecca discerning the culprit of who actually was the identity theft wasn’t easy, I was pleasantly surprised when the thief was discovered. Byrd provides enough twists and turns to add interest only fueling the mystery aspect. The romance element was well done, the tension builds as Rebecca and Luke tip toe around each other uncertain of each other’s true character as they attempt to ignore the undeniable mutual chemistry. Lots to keep your interest high as the story unravels. I wish there was a tad more ‘horror’ however, what was provided was entertaining.

Of course I took to Rebecca instantly. A strong young woman, independent and determined to prove her identity. Considering her loss and unfortunate circumstances she holds her own and isn’t deterred by others disbelief. Cautious, prudent, careful with trusting, she guards herself well, very self aware especially regarding her feelings towards Luke. An intelligent young woman with plenty of self discipline and restraint.

Byrd paints a wonderful setting of England and India. Her descriptions allow both locations to come alive. Weaving both settings into the narrative was well done adding texture and further interest.

Byrd deftly threads faith throughout the narrative with delicacy and appropriateness. Given Rebecca’s family background of missionaries her insertions were well placed giving plausibility to entire narrative.

A delightful read capturing your attention from the start, full of mystery, no doubt you will be enthralled until the very end.

Pre-Order the Book
Barnes & Noble

About the Authorimage
After earning her first rejection at the age of thirteen, bestselling author Sandra Byrd has now published more than forty books. Her adult fiction debut, Let Them Eat Cake, was a Christy Award finalist, as was her first historical novel, To Die For: A Novel of Anne Boleyn. To Die For was also named by Library Journal as a Best Books Pick for 2011 and The Secret Keeper: A Novel of Kateryn Parr, was named a Library Journal Best Books Pick for 2012. Roses Have Thorns: A Novel of Elizabeth I published in April, 2013.

Sandra has also published dozens of books for tweens and teens including the Secret Sisters Series, London Confidential Series and a devotional for tweens.

A former textbook acquisitions editor, Sandra has published many nonfiction articles and books. She is passionate about helping new writers develop their talent and their work toward traditional or self publication. As such, she has mentored and coached hundreds of new writers and continues to coach dozens to success each year.

Please visit http://www.sandrabyrd.com to learn more, or to invite Sandra to your bookclub via Skype. You can also connect with Sandra on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Goodreads.

To enter to win a lace bookmark (see image below) please complete the giveaway form below. US and CA residents only. Ends 3/10/15
Lace Book Marks Book Tour ENTRY-FORM

– Must be 18 or older to enter.
– Giveaway US and CA residents only.
– Only one entry per household.
– All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspect of fraud is decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion.
– Three winners randomly selected
– Ends 3/10/15

SANDRA BYRD is running a big giveaway on her website


Mist of Midnight Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, March 2
Review & Giveaway at Unshelfish
Review & Giveaway at Peeking Between the Pages

Tuesday, March 3
Review at A Chick Who Reads
Review & Giveaway at Broken Teepee

Wednesday, March 4
Review at Oh, For the Hook of a Book

Thursday, March 5
Review at Reading the Past
Review & Giveaway at A Literary Vacation
Review & Guest Post at With Her Nose Stuck in a Book

Friday, March 6
Review at Ageless Pages Reviews

Monday, March 9
Review & Giveaway at Historical Readings & Views

Tuesday, March 10
Review at Just One More Chapter
Interview at Oh, For the Hook of a Book

Wednesday, March 11
Review & Giveaway at The Lit Bitch

Thursday, March 12
Review at Book Drunkard
Spotlight at Books and Benches

Friday, March 13
Review & Giveaway at Forever Ashley

Monday, March 16
Review at Flashlight Commentary

Tuesday, March 17
Review at Layered Pages

Wednesday, March 18
Review at The Book Binder’s Daughter

Thursday, March 19
Review at CelticLady’s Reviews
Guest Post & Giveaway at Passages to the Past

Friday, March 20
Interview & Giveaway at Let Them Read Books


A Memory of Violets by Hazel Gaynor *Giveaway*


• Print Length: 432 pages
• Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks (February 3, 2015)

| Goodreads |

Amazon | IndieBound | Barnes & Noble

An unforgettable historical novel that tells the story of two long-lost sisters—orphaned flower sellers—and a young woman who is transformed by their experiences

Quite a meaningful story of sisters, embracing love, extraordinary kindness and altruism.

Alternating between the present and the past – London 1912 and London 1876 we read of two young women and their individual stories of their relationship with their sisters ensnarled in misfortune. Parallel, contrasting the stories reveal the bonds and unfastening of sisters.

Gaynor’s extensive research cannot go unnoticed as she delves into the disparity of the wealthy and impoverished coexisting in Victorian London. Introducing the reader to London’s flower girls – crippled and orphaned children selling violets and watercress as a means of survival as they make their home on the filthy harsh streets. These castaway girls steal your heart becoming a fascinating fixture in the compelling narrative. As Gaynor reveals more of these young ladies and of the historical facts you find yourself heartbroken and jubilant.

A majority of the story serves Florrie and Rosie – we understand the insurmountable loss Florrie underwent, however, the reader cannot escape Florrie’s lamentations of losing her sister, redundancy bordering annoying given the fact we learn fairly early on Rosie’s outcome.

All the characters warmed my heart, I found myself drawn to Tilly the most. Her curious nature, her yearn to solve the mystery as Florrie’s diary speaks to her, the fragrance of violets pushing her to learn of what became of little Rosie. Learning of Tilly’s background as well as her cloudy relationship with her sister was needless to say affecting.

A wonderful story revealing the harshness and softness of society, fascinating historical facts skillfully woven into a compelling narrative along with endearing characters.

About Hazel Gaynorimage
Hazel Gaynor is an author and freelance writer in Ireland and the U.K. and was the recipient of the Cecil Day Lewis Award for Emerging Writers in 2012. Originally from North Yorkshire, England, she now lives in Ireland with her husband, two young children, and an accident-prone cat.

Find out more about Hazel at her website, and connect with her on Facebook and Twitter.

To enter to win a copy of A Memory of Violets please complete the giveaway form below. Open to US residents only. Ends 2/20/15


– Must be 18 or older to enter.
– Giveaway is open to US residents only.
– Only one entry per household.
– All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspect of fraud is decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion.
– Ends 2/20/15

Excited to be participating in the tour for Hazel Gaynor’s A Memory of Violets, be sure to check out the entire tour schedule here, it runs through 18 February. Thank you TLC!