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

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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)

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Review of The Railwayman’s Wife by Ashley Hay

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About Railywayman’s Wife

When Anikka Lachlan’s husband, Mac, is killed in a railway accident, she is offered—and accepts—a job at the Railway Institute’s library and searches there for some solace in her unexpectedly new life. But in Thirroul, in 1948, she’s not the only person trying to chase dreams through books. There’s Roy McKinnon, who found poetry in the mess of war, but who has now lost his words and his hope. There’s Frank Draper, trapped by the guilt of those his medical treatment and care failed on their first day of freedom. All three struggle to find their own peace, and their own new story.

But along with the firming of this triangle of friendship and a sense of lives inching towards renewal come other extremities—and misunderstandings. In the end, love and freedom can have unexpected ways of expressing themselves.

The Railwayman’s Wife explores the power of beginnings and endings, and how hard it can sometimes be to tell them apart. Most of all, it celebrates love in all its forms, and the beauty of discovering that loving someone can be as extraordinary as being loved yourself.

My Review

It took me quite a while to latch on to this story and even longer to figure out why when I finished.

Although I enjoyed Hay’s writing, at times I found it to be overly wordy and descriptive, beautiful but overdone, I’m sure this served as the main cause of not being absorbed from the beginning. At times the narrative moved at a snails pace forcing my patience.

Having poetry, writing and books a vital part of the narrative was wonderful, the ocean also played an important role. Hay’s fleshes out her characters as they deal with the aftereffect of loss, life and love. A moving story with empathetic characters despite the fact they come across as numb yet desperately trying to adjust to their new individual challenging circumstances.

The ending was predictable, it fit the depths of pain demonstrated.

Good book, just not great, evoking in a quietly stirring manner.

About Ashley Hay181102

Ashley Hay’s most recent novel, The Railwayman’s Wife, was released in Australia to critical acclaim in April 2013. It was published in the UK in January 2014. It won the Colin Roderick Prize (awarded by the Foundation for Australian Literary Studies), as well as the People’s Choice award in the 2014 NSW Premier’s Prize. It was longlisted for both the Miles Franklin and Nita B. Kibble awards.

Her previous books span fiction and non-fiction and include Gum: The Story of Eucalypts and Their Champions (2002) and Museum (2007; with visual artist Robyn Stacey). Her first novel, The Body in the Clouds (2010), was shortlisted for categories in the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize and the NSW and WA premier’s prizes, and longlisted for the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award.

A writer for more than 20 years, she publishes regularly in Australian journals including The Monthly, Australian Geographic, and The Australian. Her essays and short stories have appeared in volumes including the Griffith Review, Best Australian Essays (2003), Best Australian Short Stories (2012), and Best Australian Science Writing (2012).

Expected publication: April 5th 2016 by Atria Books (first published January 1st 2013)

Review: Juliet’s Nurse by Lois Leveen

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About Juliet’s Nurse

An enthralling new telling of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet—told from the perspective of Juliet’s nurse.

In Verona, a city ravaged by plague and political rivalries, a mother mourning the death of her day-old infant enters the household of the powerful Cappelletti family to become the wet-nurse to their newborn baby. As she serves her beloved Juliet over the next fourteen years, the nurse learns the Cappellettis’ darkest secrets. Those secrets—and the nurse’s deep personal grief—erupt across five momentous days of love and loss that destroy a daughter, and a family.

My Review

I approached this book with absolutely no expectations, I was curious to see where Leveen would lead me.

I like Angelica, I appreciate her strength after losing her children, her love of Juliet. Her closeness with Pietro. She’s loving, funny, I wish Leveen delved deeper in this woman, so much potential unexplored.

Leveen mastered the setting, the varying classes, the role of females, the brutal aftermath of the plague, family dissension along with medicinal vs apothecary ways. I felt completely submerged in the 14th century.

Angelica and Pietro’s randy behavior becomes monotonous merging to overkill. Tell me once they are a healthy couple with their mutual appetite for each other never lacking but please stop continually reminding me as they eagerly seek locations to ravage one another. Also the constant mentioning of the couples children being taken by the plague borders on annoying. Again, once is all I need to know of the heartbreaking tragedy not a nagging reminder every other page.

More character development with Angelica would have been welcomed, too much emphasis on her capacity as a wet-nurse and devotion to Pietro, Juliet and Tybalt, not to mention her longing for her lost sons.

The first part – Juliet age 1-3 dragged a bit, a faster pace would be preferred. The latter portion of narrative thankfully picked up speed. Angelica stood out but it’s impact was lost, much rather have seen her strength in the beginning as opposed to her lackluster debut.

Leveen’s slant on Romeo and Juliet is unique, a good read but not quite enough to create a mind-blowing adventure. I look forward to more of Leveen, her writings are consistently interesting and creative.

About Lois Leveen972216

Award-winning author Lois Leveen dwells in the spaces where literature and history meet. A confirmed book geek, Lois earned degrees in history and literature from Harvard, the University of Southern California, and UCLA, and taught at UCLA and at Reed College. In addition to her novels JULIET’S NURSE and THE SECRETS OF MARY BOWSER, she has written for The New York Times, The Atlantic, the Chicago Tribune, the Los Angeles Review of Books, the Wall Street Journal, and her poetry and essays have appeared in numerous books, literary journals, and on NPR. Lois gives talks about history and literature at libraries, bookstores, universities, museums, teacher training programs, and conferences throughout the world. She lives in a bright green house in Portland, Oregon, with a charming, bipedal Newfoundlander.

Published September 23rd 2014 by Atria/Emily Bestler Books

Review: World’s End by Upton Sinclair

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About World’s End

The son of an American arms dealer and his mistress, Lanning “Lanny” Budd spends his first thirteen years in Europe, living at the center of his mother’s glamourous circle of friends on the French Riviera. In 1913, he enters a prestigious Swiss boarding school and befriends Rick, an English boy, and Kurt, a German. The three schoolmates are privileged, happy, and precocious—but their world is about to come to an abrupt and violent end.

When the gathering storm clouds of war finally burst, raining chaos and death over the continent, Lanny must put the innocence of youth behind him; his language skills and talent for decoding messages are in high demand. At his father’s side, he meets many important political and military figures, learns about the myriad causes of the conflict, and closely follows the First World War’s progress. When the bloody hostilities eventually conclude, Lanny joins the Paris Peace Conference as the assistant to a geographer asked by President Woodrow Wilson to redraw the map of Europe.

World’s End is the magnificent opening chapter of a monumental series that brings the first half of the twentieth century to vivid life. A thrilling mix of history, adventure, and romance, the Lanny Budd Novels are a testament to the breathtaking scope of Upton Sinclair’s vision and his singular talents as a storyteller.

My Review

Sinclair dishes out a huge chunk of history in this book, his layout is appealing and it describes more than any textbook. His vehicle to highlight events is the endearing protagonist Lanny Budd. Lanny is 14 years old in 1914 and as the story and events unfold Lanny becomes even more appealing as he enters adulthood through a trying time in history.

Lanny’s character is dramatized by his presence in nearly every major event or has the privilege meeting every notable figure of the time, however, this does not detract but rather creates a fascinating narrative with mystery, suspense, thrills. You can’t help but find yourself taken by Lanny.

If you’re interested in history but avoid nonfiction, you will completely enjoy Sinclair’s historical fiction masterpiece with the nonfiction well presented and researched. Not many know the real issue WWI was centered around – it was more than the assassination of Archduke Ferdindad, much more as traditional classroom textbooks fail to mention. Sinclair offers the opportunity to enjoy history in an easy to read manner through the eyes of impressive Lanny Budd. A wonderful prelude in an 11 book series.

Sinclair’s story is told from the Socialist perspective which adds an interesting spin creating an enthralling read.

About Upton Sinclair1450215048_upton_sinclair

Upton Sinclair (1878–1968) was a Pulitzer Prize–winning author, activist, and politician whose novel The Jungle (1906) led to the passage of the Federal Meat Inspection Act and the Pure Food and Drug Act. Born into an impoverished family in Baltimore, Maryland, Sinclair entered City College of New York five days before his fourteenth birthday. He wrote dime novels and articles for pulp magazines to pay for his tuition, and continued his writing career as a graduate student at Columbia University. To research The Jungle, he spent seven weeks working undercover in Chicago’s meatpacking plants. The book received great critical and commercial success, and Sinclair used the proceeds to start a utopian community in New Jersey. In 1915, he moved to California, where he founded the state’s ACLU chapter and became an influential political figure, running for governor as the Democratic nominee in 1934. Sinclair wrote close to one hundred books during his lifetime, including Oil! (1927), the inspiration for the 2007 movie There Will Be Blood; Boston (1928), a documentary novel revolving around the Sacco and Vanzetti case; The Brass Check, a muckraking exposé of American journalism; and the eleven novels in the Pulitzer Prize–winning Lanny Budd series.

Published January 19th 2016 by Open Road Media (first published January 1st 1940)

Review: The Vatican Princess: A Novel of Lucrezia Borgia by C.W. Gortner

02_The Vatican Princess

About The Vatican Princess

Infamy is no accident. It is a poison in our blood. It is the price of being a Borgia.

Glamorous and predatory, the Borgias fascinated and terrorized 15th-century Renaissance Italy. Lucrezia Borgia, beloved daughter of the pope, was at the center of the dynasty’s ambitions. Slandered as a heartless seductress who lured men to their doom, was she in fact the villainess of legend, or was she trapped in a familial web, forced to choose between loyalty and survival?

With the ascension of the Spaniard Rodrigo Borgia as Pope Alexander VI, the new pope’s illegitimate children—his rival sons, Cesare and Juan, and beautiful young daughter Lucrezia—assume an exalted position in the papal court. Privileged and adored, Lucrezia yearns to escape her childhood and play a part in her family’s fortunes. But Rome is seductive and dangerous: Alliances shift at a moment’s notice as Italy’s ruling dynasties strive to keep rivals at bay. As Lucrezia’s father faces challenges from all sides, he’s obliged to marry her off to a powerful adversary. But when she discovers the brutal truth behind her alliance, Lucrezia is plunged into a perilous gambit that will require all her wits, cunning, and guile. Escaping her marriage offers the chance of happiness with a passionate prince of Naples, yet as scandalous accusations of murder and incest build against her, menacing those she loves, Lucrezia must risk everything to overcome the lethal fate imposed upon her by her Borgia blood.

Beautifully wrought, rich with fascinating historical detail, The Vatican Princess is the first novel to describe Lucrezia’s coming-of-age in her own voice—a dramatic, vivid tale set in an era of savagery and unparalleled splendor, where enemies and allies can be one and the same, and where loyalty to family can ultimately be a curse.

AMAZON | BARNES & NOBLE | INDIEBOUND

My Review

The name Borgia is renown, it stops you in your tracks. I was thrilled the story focused heavily on Lucrezia Borgia.

Following Lucrezia from innocent girlhood to savvy young adult was stirring. Her family certainly created plenty of excitement and sadness as she served as a bargaining chip to ensure the Borgia position. Quickly Lucrezia catches on to her power, role, voice and accepts what comes her way with grace and smarts.

The narrative contained all the proper ingredients you would expect, power, politics, sex, wealth, infidelity, incest, status, loyalty, love. The pace is extremely fast, no doubt the last page will be reached quickly. The end was satisfying.

I was let down Lucrezia lacked emotion, yes she possessed strength but for all she suffered and endured she felt wooden, desensitized. Perhaps this was Gortner’s intent and a mistake on my part to expect a feeling character exhibiting crumbs of emotion. In addition, the narrative was a bit slow and redundant at times other times rushed.

Historical fictions fans, lovers of powerful family’s will want to add this to your shelf. Gortner delivers another entertaining story with a captivating female protagonist.

About the Author03_CW Gortner

C.W. GORTNER holds an MFA in Writing with an emphasis in Renaissance Studies from the New College of California, as well as an AA from the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising in San Francisco.

After an eleven year-long career in fashion, during which he worked as a vintage retail buyer, freelance publicist, and fashion show coordinator, C.W. devoted the next twelve years to the public health sector. In 2012, he became a full-time writer following the international success of his novels.

In his extensive travels to research his books, he has danced a galliard at Hampton Court, learned about organic gardening at Chenoceaux, and spent a chilly night in a ruined Spanish castle. His books have garnered widespread acclaim and been translated into twenty-one languages to date, with over 400,000 copies sold. A sought-after public speaker. C.W. has given keynote addresses at writer conferences in the US and abroad. He is also a dedicated advocate for animal rights, in particular companion animal rescue to reduce shelter overcrowding.

Half-Spanish by birth and raised in southern Spain, C.W. now lives in Northern California with his partner and two very spoiled rescue cats.

For more information visit C.W. Gortner’s website and blog. You can also find him on Facebook, Twittter, Goodreads, Pinterest, and YouTube. Sign up for C.W. Gortner’s Newsletter for updates.

Be sure to click on the HFVBT banner to check out the entire tour schedule.

04_The Vatican Princess_Blog Tour Banner_FINAL

 

Spotlight & Giveaway: Seven Will Out: A Renaissance Revel by JoAnn Spears

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If you thought “Six of One: A Tudor Riff” was the most fun you could have with your nightdress on, wait until you see what “Seven Will Out: A Renaissance Revel” has in store. Get ready for one ‘ruff’ night! Tudorphile Dolly thought that the night she spent on an astral plane with Henry VIII’s six wives, learning their heretofore unknown secrets, was a one-time thing. Not so! In “Seven Will Out”, Dolly finds herself back in the ether with the women of later Tudor times: Elizabeth I, ‘Bloody’ Mary, Bess of Hardwick, Mary, Queen of Scots, and Anne Hathaway Shakespeare, to name a few. They too have secrets that will turn history on its head, and comic sass that will keep you laughing. You’ve read all of the traditional, serious and romantic takes on the legendary Tudors. Why not try your Tudors with a new and different twist?

Amazon (Kindle) | Amazon (Paperback) | Barnes & Noble

About the Author03_JoAnn Spears

JoAnn Spears couldn’t decide whether to major in English or History in college. Life stepped in, and she wound up with a Master’s Degree in Nursing instead. A twenty-five year nursing career didn’t extinguish that early interest in books and history. It did however stoke a decidedly gallows sense of humor.

The story of the six wives of Henry VIII was JoAnn’s favorite piece of history. Over the years, she read just about every spin on the story that there was. It occurred to her that the one spin that hadn’t been brought to a full length novel about the Tudors was a gallows sense of humor. The Tudors certainly qualified for it, and JoAnn had plenty to spare.

The first ‘real’ book JoAnn ever read was “The Wizard of Oz”. She returned to the Yellow Brick Road for inspiration for a new kind of Tudor novel, and “Six of One” was born.

“Six of One” was begun in JoAnn’s native New Jersey. It was wrapped up in her new Smoky Mountain home in northeast Tennessee, where she is pursuing a second career as a writer. She has, however, obtained a Tennessee nursing license because a) you never stop being a nurse and b) her son Bill thinks she should be sensible and not quit her day job.

While “Six of One” is a different kind of historical novel, JoAnn is a downright stereotypical lady author. She admits to the usual cats, flower beds, needlework, and frightfully complete collections of Jane Austen and Louisa May Alcott.

Facebook | Goodreads | Amazon Page

Giveaway

Enter to win one paperback copy of Seven Will Out by JoAnn Spears. Open to US and Canada residents only. Ends 2/23/16
ENTRY-FORM

Be sure to click on the HFVBT banner to check out the entire tour schedule.

04_Seven Will Out_Blog Tour Banner_FINAL

Publication Date: October 31, 2015

Book Blast & Giveaway: The Vatican Princess: A Novel of Lucrezia Borgia by C.W. Gortner

02_The Vatican Princess

Infamy is no accident. It is a poison in our blood. It is the price of being a Borgia.

Glamorous and predatory, the Borgias fascinated and terrorized 15th-century Renaissance Italy. Lucrezia Borgia, beloved daughter of the pope, was at the center of the dynasty’s ambitions. Slandered as a heartless seductress who lured men to their doom, was she in fact the villainess of legend, or was she trapped in a familial web, forced to choose between loyalty and survival?

With the ascension of the Spaniard Rodrigo Borgia as Pope Alexander VI, the new pope’s illegitimate children—his rival sons, Cesare and Juan, and beautiful young daughter Lucrezia—assume an exalted position in the papal court. Privileged and adored, Lucrezia yearns to escape her childhood and play a part in her family’s fortunes. But Rome is seductive and dangerous: Alliances shift at a moment’s notice as Italy’s ruling dynasties strive to keep rivals at bay. As Lucrezia’s father faces challenges from all sides, he’s obliged to marry her off to a powerful adversary. But when she discovers the brutal truth behind her alliance, Lucrezia is plunged into a perilous gambit that will require all her wits, cunning, and guile. Escaping her marriage offers the chance of happiness with a passionate prince of Naples, yet as scandalous accusations of murder and incest build against her, menacing those she loves, Lucrezia must risk everything to overcome the lethal fate imposed upon her by her Borgia blood.

Beautifully wrought, rich with fascinating historical detail, The Vatican Princess is the first novel to describe Lucrezia’s coming-of-age in her own voice—a dramatic, vivid tale set in an era of savagery and unparalleled splendor, where enemies and allies can be one and the same, and where loyalty to family can ultimately be a curse.

AMAZON | BARNES & NOBLE | INDIEBOUND

About the Author03_CW Gortner

C.W. GORTNER holds an MFA in Writing with an emphasis in Renaissance Studies from the New College of California, as well as an AA from the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising in San Francisco.

After an eleven year-long career in fashion, during which he worked as a vintage retail buyer, freelance publicist, and fashion show coordinator, C.W. devoted the next twelve years to the public health sector. In 2012, he became a full-time writer following the international success of his novels.

In his extensive travels to research his books, he has danced a galliard at Hampton Court, learned about organic gardening at Chenoceaux, and spent a chilly night in a ruined Spanish castle. His books have garnered widespread acclaim and been translated into twenty-one languages to date, with over 400,000 copies sold. A sought-after public speaker. C.W. has given keynote addresses at writer conferences in the US and abroad. He is also a dedicated advocate for animal rights, in particular companion animal rescue to reduce shelter overcrowding.

Half-Spanish by birth and raised in southern Spain, C.W. now lives in Northern California with his partner and two very spoiled rescue cats.

For more information visit C.W. Gortner’s website and blog. You can also find him on Facebook, Twittter, Goodreads, Pinterest, and YouTube. Sign up for C.W. Gortner’s Newsletter for updates.

Giveaway

To win a Borgia-Inspired Velvet Bag & Beaded Bracelet from C.W. Gortner please enter the giveaway via the GLEAM form below.

Rules

– Giveaway ends at 11:59pm EST on February 23rd. You 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
– Winner has 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.

GLEAM ENTRY-FORM for The Vatican Princess Book Blast

Be sure to click on the HFVBT banner to check out the entire tour schedule.

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Review: Stars Over Sunset Boulevard by Susan Meissner

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About Stars Over Sunset Boulevard

Los Angeles, Present Day. When an iconic hat worn by Scarlett O’Hara in Gone With the Wind ends up in Christine McAllister’s vintage clothing boutique by mistake, her efforts to return it to its owner take her on a journey more enchanting than any classic movie…

Los Angeles, 1938. Violet Mayfield sets out to reinvent herself in Hollywood after her dream of becoming a wife and mother falls apart, and lands a job on the film-set of Gone With the Wind. There, she meets enigmatic Audrey Duvall, a once-rising film star who is now a fellow secretary. Audrey’s zest for life and their adventures together among Hollywood’s glitterati enthrall Violet…until each woman’s deepest desires collide. What Audrey and Violet are willing to risk, for themselves and for each other, to ensure their own happy endings will shape their friendship, and their lives, far into the future.

My Review

I have mixed feelings on this book. I was under the impression it would be more Hollywood during its Golden Age as the summary described, and it was but minimally, I would have preferred more. The narrative focused primarily on two women, their friendship and challenges which was to be expected but not to the length Meissner provided.

The narrative was predictable, nothing was a surprise. I felt the whole Scarlet #13 could have been omitted, it was more of a nuisance than necessity including its present day companion narrative. I realize the hat triggered the parallel narrative, once again omission would not have impacted the bulk of the plot. The plot dragged on as well, became repetitive and drawn out.

Audrey and Violet didn’t appeal to me. If I had to favor one over the other I would have selected Audrey and that’s not a decision I want to make. Audrey was a complete idiot, I couldn’t believe she kept making the same mistakes over and over, frustrating. Violet was manipulative, sneaky and self-serving, nothing appealing about her at all. I had to remind myself the era was different and women had few choices, which fueled my anger towards Audrey for her trio of poor judgement, downright infuriating. Bert was the pawn, the man bait. The protagonists felt wooden, everything manufactured. I prefer female protagonists to ooze strength and confidence, these two lacked both.

The story examines friendship, choices, decisions, really nothing that hasn’t been produced before. The only interesting aspect was GWTW details, if the plot continued with the movie details, filming, stardom aspiration angle it would have been much more interesting. As is it’s a wearying generic story of two friends dealing with their friendship and secrets. Beach read, nothing more.

About Susan Meissner60390

Susan Meissner was born in San Diego, California, the second of three. She spent her childhood in just two houses.
Her first writings are a laughable collection of oddly worded poems and predictable stories she wrote when she was eight.

She attended Point Loma College in San Diego, and married her husband, Bob, who is now an associate pastor and a chaplain in the Air Force Reserves, in 1980. When she is not working on a new novel, she is directing the small groups ministries at The Church at Rancho Bernardo. She also enjoy teaching workshops on writing and dream-following, spending time with my family, music, reading great books, and traveling.

Published January 5th 2016 by NAL

Review: I’ll See You in Paris by Michelle Gable

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About I’ll See You in Paris

After losing her fiancé in the Vietnam War, nineteen-year-old Laurel Haley takes a job in England, hoping the distance will mend her shattered heart. Laurel expects the pain might lessen but does not foresee the beguiling man she meets or that they’ll go to Paris, where the city’s magic will take over and alter everything Laurel believes about love.

Thirty years later, Laurel’s daughter Annie is newly engaged and an old question resurfaces: who is Annie’s father and what happened to him? Laurel has always been vague about the details and Annie’s told herself it doesn’t matter. But with her impending marriage, Annie has to know everything. Why won’t Laurel tell her the truth?

The key to unlocking Laurel’s secrets starts with a mysterious book about an infamous woman known as the Duchess of Marlborough. Annie’s quest to understand the Duchess, and therefore her own history, takes her from a charming hamlet in the English countryside, to a decaying estate kept behind barbed wire, and ultimately to Paris where answers will be found at last.

My Review

I found Gladys Deacon utterly fascinating. In fact I remember reading an article on her in 2011. Needless to say I was interested in reading this book, curious to read Gable’s version with fiction and non-fiction aspects of Gladys Deacon.

Deacon’s story was fascinating. I was impressed with Gable’s weaving of Vietnam, 9/11 and Gladys Deacon, I was skeptical at first, however, ultimately pleasantly surprised.

The narrative was fascinating but dragged a bit, also the level of predictability was high, no surprises throughout for this reader, I knew what was coming including the ending, therefore lacking a mystery factor.

On the fence with the ending, I wish an epilogue was included compensating for the ambiguous and abrupt finish.

An entertaining read, I found Deacon alluring, in fact I would extremely curious to learn more about this creature from Gable’s interpretation if I didn’t already know of her tragic story.

About Michelle Gable558089

Michelle Gable is the international bestselling author of A PARIS APARTMENT. When not dreaming up fiction on the sly, she works in finance, specializing in investor relations. A College of William & Mary graduate, Gable currently resides in Cardiff by the Sea, California with her husband, two daughters, and one lazy cat.

Expected publication: February 9th 2016 by Thomas Dunne Books

Interview: Sophie Perinot, author of Médicis Daughter: A Novel of Marguerite de Valois

Unshelfish extends a warm welcome to Sophie Perinot. Thank you for joining Unshelfish Sophie.

About Sophie Perinot03_Sophie Perinot

SOPHIE PERINOT is the author of The Sister Queens and one of six contributing authors of A Day of Fire: A Novel of Pompeii. A former attorney, Perinot is now a full-time writer. She lives in Great Falls, Virginia with her three children, three cats, one dog and one husband.

An active member of the Historical Novel Society, Sophie has attended all of the groupís North American Conferences and served as a panelist multiple times. Find her among the literary twitterati as @Lit_gal or on Facebook.

To begin, can you tell us about yourself and your novel, MEDICI’S DAUGHTER: A NOVEL OF MARGUERITE DE VALOIS?

I’ve found lately that my personal tag-line has become: history nut, historical novelist, yet in many ways a modern woman–go figure.

I like to think of myself as a bit of a renaissance woman, and not just because I write novels set in the past. I am a wife of more than a quarter-of-a-century, a mom of three, a former attorney, and I have a glass studio in my home for making handmade beads. I am not afraid to try new things, but at the same time I seldom give up on old ones. I believe there is more romance in the word “duty” than in many other words. All my life I’ve been surrounded by books. In fact, my first paying job was shelving non-fiction books at my local library. So I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised when I started writing books, but I sort of was.

My latest novel Médicis Daughter comes from a place deep in my own childhood. I’ve had a sweet spot for the Valois ever since I read Alexandre Dumas’ Marguerite de Valois (more popularly known as Reine Margot). I am a huge Dumas geek (if he’s written it, I’ve read it) but this novel in particular made a special connection. The more times that I re-read it, the more convinced I became that Marguerite de Valois deserved a fuller depiction and a more historically based (Dumas was quite open about playing fast and loose with history) exploration. Médicis Daughter is the direct result of that conviction. It offers readers the coming-of-age story of the youngest Valois princess, Margot, as she struggles to find her own distinct place in her dysfunctional family, in the intrigue-riven court of her brother, King Charles IX, and in the household of her powerful mother, Queen Catherine de Médicis.

Which book was the hardest (or easiest) for you to write?

Each book has its hard spots and its “oh-my-gosh-this-is-writing-itself” spots. In truth, however, the easiest first draft I’ve ever completed is the one I just handed over to my agent for critique. Can’t share more about it, but I will say it consumed me utterly and drove me relentlessly until I had it all down on paper.

If you could meet any of your characters, who would it be?

That would have to be Margot. I’ve spent years trying to understand her, intuit her and channel her. I’d like to think I’ve gotten to the core of who she is, but I’d love a chance to weigh my image of her and the voice I’ve created for her against the living, breathing reality. Also, I think we would get along. She has an unflinching toughness in her that can make her unlikeable to some people, but which draws me. I have toughness in me that responds to it.

Do you he a favorite character among the ones you’ve invented?

There aren’t too many wholly fictional characters in Médicis Daughter. I didn’t need them because the court is so full of fascinating players. In fact it was hard to cut out people, which I had to do or readers’ heads would explode. I have a 30+ page list of the domestic officers of Catherine de Médicis household alone (which includes 7 pages of her ladies of various sorts). The royals were constantly surrounded by people. I do have a fondness for Fleurie de de Saussauy with her dimples and her saucy tongue.

What question do you wish someone would ask you about your book, but nobody has?

Who do you prefer, Henri Duc de Guise, or Henri Roi de Navarre?

This one is not close.

I know the Duc de Guise is the darling of the Catholic court and its ladies—that more women than Margot are swooning over him. And there is no denying he is handsome, bold and, in his own manner, principled. But he is not my guy.

No, despite his awkwardness and his inability to dress himself without something being out of place somewhere, I adore Henri de Bourbon, Prince (and eventually King) of Navarre. There is a genuine pragmatism and goodness in him that draws me like a magnet. He is constantly underestimated (though not by Margot—even if she has no desire to marry him), yet he shrugs that off as he does so much else, using a projected nonchalance as his shield at the Valois court. I am not surprised at all that Henri goes go on to become Henri le Grand, the man who granted religious tolerance to the Huguenots, brought discipline and regularity to the finances of his kingdom, increased the prosperity of his subjects, and became one of the most beloved kings in French History.

02_Medici's Daughter_CoverAbout Médicis Daughter

Winter, 1564. Beautiful young Princess Margot is summoned to the court of France, where nothing is what it seems and a wrong word can lead to ruin. Known across Europe as Madame la Serpente, Margotís intimidating mother, Queen Catherine de MÈdicis, is a powerful force in a country devastated by religious war. Among the crafty nobility of the royal court, Margot learns the intriguing and unspoken rules she must live by to please her poisonous family.

Eager to be an obedient daughter, Margot accepts her role as a marriage pawn, even as she is charmed by the powerful, charismatic Duc de Guise. Though Margot’s heart belongs to Guise, her hand will be offered to Henri of Navarre, a Huguenot leader and a notorious heretic looking to seal a tenuous truce. But the promised peace is a mirage: her mother’s schemes are endless, and her brothers plot vengeance in the streets of Paris. When Margot’s wedding devolves into the bloodshed of the St. Bartholomew’s Day Massacre, she will be forced to choose between her family and her soul.

MÈdicis Daughter is historical fiction at its finest, weaving a unique coming-of-age story and a forbidden love with one of the most dramatic and violent events in French history.

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Publication Date: December 1, 2015 Thomas Dunne Books