Wednesday, November 26, 2014

HFVBT: Spotlight - the works of Kathy Fischer-Brown and {Giveaway}


Lord Esterleigh’s Daughter (Book One, Serpents Tooth Trilogy)
Publication Date: June 13, 2012
Books We Love Ltd.
Formats: eBook, Paperback
Genre: Historical Fiction

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As a child, Anne Fairfield dreams of the father she never knew, the hero who died fighting the French and their Indian allies in a land across the sea. Her mother’s stories, and fantasies of her own devising, sustain and nurture her through a poor and lonely existence. Until one winter night, a strange man comes to call, and the life she has known comes crashing down like shattered glass.

Forced to confront sordid truths, secrets and lies, the headstrong young woman begins to learn that, like generations of women ruled by their hearts, she is destined to follow in their footsteps.

Set against the backdrop of 18th century England, Lord Esterleigh’s Daughter is the first book in “The Serpent’s Tooth” trilogy, which follows Anne from the rural countryside, to London society and into the center of the American Revolution.

Praise for The Serpent’s Tooth
4 Stars “Jane Austen showed us the gentle side of 19th century England; Kathy Fischer-Brown sets her work a century earlier and shows us how envy, revenge, and greed can work to effect long-term changes on one young woman…. The author does a wonderful job of showing all these complications clearly, with apt description, and I could easily see this series as a movie-maybe one day I will. So, if you are a fan of dark gothic themes, enjoy seeing the underbelly of British society and what goes on behind the scenes, as it were, I highly recommend you buy this trilogy.” — Long and Short Reviews

4 ½ Stars “…This is a dark novel that deals with the resentment and anger of a girl who has been misled and cannot seem to get past her grief …. While not a typical romance, this is a fascinating, complex story that I completely enjoyed. It is well written and entertained me with mystery, suspense, scandal, sinister characters and first love.” — Romantic Historical Lovers

Must Read “… the first book in ‘The Serpent’s Tooth Trilogy’ [is] a very well written plot filled with romance, suspense and danger. The author’s characters were developed well and believable…. Recommended for all suspenseful historical romance fans.” — My Cozy Corner Reviews

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Courting the Devil (Book Two, Serpent’s Tooth Trilogy)
Publication Date: August 31, 2012
Books We Love Ltd.
Formats: eBook, Paperback
Genre: Historical Fiction

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Four years after a near fatal blunder uproots her from her home and inheritance, Anne Darvey, daughter of the Marquess of Esterleigh, finds herself an indentured servant on a farm near Fort Edward in New York, as the British army advances toward Albany. Driven by guilt over the pain she has caused her father and grief over her lover’s death, she sets out to deliver a message. The consequences lead to the discovery that all is not as it seems, and sets in motion events that lead to love and danger.

Set against the backdrop of the American Revolution, Courting the Devil is the second book in “The Serpent’s Tooth” trilogy, which follows Anne from her childhood in the rural English countryside, to London society, and into the center of the American Revolution.

Praise for Courting the Devil
5 Stars “I liked this book even better than the first, perhaps because there were more kind, decent–even funny–characters than were in the aristocratic snake pit depicted in the first novel. The author’s knowledge of this theater of the American Revolution is accurate; she knows the period well. Her characters are three-dimensional, proper 18th Century people in a well-researched setting….” — Juliet Waldron, author of Mozart’s Wife

… a high caliber historical drama. I commend Ms. Fischer-Brown on her research and attention to detail. It moves well with interesting characters and story lines….Two thumbs up for Courting the Devil.” — Writer Wonderland

4 ½ Stars “…kept me in suspense and filled with anticipation of what was to come. This book was written with gentle reminders and hints of the past without rehashing the original story and the scenes were descriptive and engaging….I like the Anne of this book a lot more than the previous book. It is clear she has grown up a bit and sees things differently.” — Romantic Historical Lovers


The Partisan’s Wife (Book Three, Serpent’s Tooth Trilogy)
Publication Date: February 6, 2013
Books We Love Ltd.
Formats: eBook, Paperback
Genre: Historical Fiction



Faced with an impossible choice, Anne Marlowe is torn between her husband’s love and the hope of her receiving father’s forgiveness. As American forces follow up on their tide-turning victories over the British at Freeman’s Farm and Bemis Heights, Peter is drawn deeper into the shady network of espionage that could cost them both their lives.

Is his commitment to “the Cause” stronger than his hard-won love for Anne? Will her sacrifice tear them apart again…this time forever? Or will they find the peace and happiness they both seek in a new beginning?

The Partisan’s Wife follows Anne and Peter through the war torn landscape of Revolutionary War America, from the Battle of Saratoga to British-occupied New York and Philadelphia, and beyond.

Praise for The Partisan’s Wife
5 Stars “In The Partisan’s Wife, the last book in the trilogy, the author picks up where the second book left off. I have to admit that I am totally impressed with the author’s research into the time period her books are written in, everything was just perfect. With more twists and turns, the author finishes off the trilogy with an unexpected ending. I would Highly recommend the trilogy for all suspenseful historical romance fans, but be sure to read them in order so your not missing out on anything.” — My Cozy Corner Reviews

5 Stars “This is the last book of the trilogy. The historical research is outstanding. Kathy does a great job with the characters and story, everything is very believable. The whole trilogy is a read I would recommend to any one that loves historical fiction.” — Goodreads Review

4 Stars “The story itself was wonderful. It was beautifully told with lots of detail and exciting pace. I found myself staying up late at night just to see what was going to happen next, and in the moments that I couldn’t read I was always thinking about it. The Serpent’s Tooth Trilogy is an excellent read that you shouldn’t let pass you by!” — Unabridged Chick

4 Stars “…the author wrote such descriptive details of the surroundings that I was able to paint a vivid picture of what each of our characters endured. Overall this was a very different type of romance story. The author had a unique idea and created a compelling story around it…. I really enjoyed these books and am glad Anne finally understood what it is she wanted and was able to move on.” — Romantic Historical Lovers

4 Stars “I absolutely loved this book! The attention to detail was incredible…. From the actions and speech patterns of her characters to the way the settings were depicted, I could feel like I was living during the Revolutionary War, watching the story as it unfolded….” — Once Upon a Book

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Winter Fire
Publication Date: November 6, 2010
Books We Love Ltd.
Formats: eBook, Paperback
Genre: Historical Fiction

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When Ethan Caine pulled the unconscious woman from the half-frozen creek, he had no idea that his world was about to explode. Dressed in quilled doeskin of Iroquois design, she stirred up dark secrets from his past. At the same time, she was everything he desired. But she was more Indian than white, and on the run for murder. He needed to know the truth. He needed to find it within himself to trust her.

Banished by the Seneca Indians who adopted and raised her, ostracized by the whites in the settlement, Zara Grey wanted only to be accepted. “Ethancaine” treated her with kindness and concern. It was easy to trust him. But her Indian ways disturbed him, and in her heart she would always be Seneca.

Praise for Winter Fire
5 Stars “This historical story will take you back in time and capture your heart in an era of hard times, of family ties and of a love that is meant to be. I can’t say enough how great this story is. It is well plotted and flows so easily that before you know it… You can’t put it down. You have to see what will happen next. I “HIGHLY” recommend this book!! You can’t go wrong on this one.” — Amazon reader review

5 Stars “I liked this book so much, I read it twice. Moves along well and keeps your interest. Would recommend it.”— Amazon reader review

4 Stars “Kathy Fischer-Brown recreates the terror of the Indian wars and vividly evokes the wonder of newfound love.” — Faith V. Smith, Romantic Times

“Winter Fire is a beautifully written, well-researched novel of passion and honor…If you’re looking for an adventure, a history lesson, and a touching romance, you’ll find it wrapped up in Winter Fire. I highly recommend this wonderful tale.” — Jani Brooks, Romance Reviews Today

4 Stars “Kathy Fischer-Brown … does an excellent job of weaving in the cultures clashing against each other, the unfounded prejudices of societies that don’t understand each other, while still keeping the focus on the romance. This is a touching story, the characters are vivid, the history is accurate, and the details really give the story a sense of place.” — The Romance Studio

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Amazon UK Paperback
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About the Author
As a child Kathy wanted to be a writer when she grew up. She also wanted to act on the stage. After receiving an MFA in Acting from the Mason Gross School of the Arts and playing the part of starving young artist in New York, she taught theater classes at a small college in the Mid-West before returning home to the East Coast, where over the years, she and her husband raised two kids and an assortment of dogs. During stints in advertising, children’s media publishing, and education reform in the former Soviet Unions, she wrote whenever she could.

Her love of early American history has its roots in family vacations up and down the East Coast visiting old forts and battlefields and places such as Williamsburg, Mystic Sea Port, and Sturbridge Village. During this time, she daydreamed in high school history classes, imagining the everyday people behind all the dates and conflicts and how they lived.

Claiming her best ideas are born of dreams, Kathy has written a number of stories over the years. Her first published novel, Winter Fire, a 1998 Golden Heart finalist in historical romance, was reissued in 2010 by Books We Love, Ltd., which also released Lord Esterleigh’s Daughter, Courting the Devil, and The Partisan’s Wife.

When not writing, she enjoys reading, cooking, photography, playing “ball” with the dogs, and rooting on her favorite sports teams.

For more information visit Kathy Fischer-Brown’s website. You can also find her on Facebook and Twitter.


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Twitter Hashtag: #KathyFischerBrownBlogTour #Historical
Twitter Tags: @hfvbt @KFischerBrown

Giveaways
To enter to win any of the following prizes please complete the form below. Giveaway is open to US residents only.

Choice of Paperback: Lord Esterleigh’s Daughter, Courting the Devil, The Partisan’s Wife, or Winter Fire

Choice of eBook: Lord Esterleigh’s Daughter, Courting the Devil, The Partisan’s Wife, or Winter Fire

Kindle eBook Set: The Serpent’s Tooth Trilogy


Giveaway ends at 11:59pm on November 30th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
Winner will be chosen via Rafflecopter on December 1st and notified via email.
Winner have 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

HFVBT: C.W. Gortner's The Tudor Vendetta - Review and {Giveaway}


My thoughts
In the final book of the Spymaster Chronicles trilogy, Elizabeth I has finally ascended to the throne. However, Brendan Prescott's job of protecting her is no less crucial at this stage in the game. As William Cecil states, "She's less safe now than she ever was." 

Gortner has a definite skill of bringing the reader right into the story. I felt like I was part of it, like I was seeing the action through Brendan's eyes. And I must touch on Robert Dudley in the context of this series. Never have I read him portrayed as such an utter miscreant. Oddly though, it fits. Perhaps it's because the reader can't help but adore Brendan and so, any enemy of his...well, you get the idea. 

The great thing about the Spymaster Chronicles is we get the perfect combination of thoroughly researched historical fiction and intriguing historical mystery. The treacherous times of Tudor/Elizabethan England are brought to the page palpably. The effect for the reader is exciting, edge-of-the-seat reading.

I have said this before and I'll say it again. Gortner should be one of your go-to authors for historical fiction. If you have not read his books, you really must...and soon. I recommend you start where I did, with his incomparable novel about Juana the Mad, The Last Queen. And then, don't stop there. 

About the book
Publication Date: October 21, 2014
St. Martin’s Press
Formats: eBook, Paperback
Series: Spymaster Chronicles
Genre: Historical Mystery

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Winter, 1558: Elizabeth I has ascended the throne but the first days of her reign are already fraught with turmoil, the kingdom weakened by strife and her ability to rule uncertain.

Summoned from exile abroad at the new queen’s behest, Brendan Prescott arrives in London to face his shattered past. He soon finds himself pitted in deadly rivalry with his life-long foe, Robert Dudley, but when a poison attempt overshadows the queen’s coronation, Elizabeth privately dispatches Brendan on a far more dangerous assignation: to find her favored lady-in-waiting, Lady Parry, who has vanished in Yorkshire.

Upon his arrival at the crumbling sea-side manor that may hold the key to Lady Parry’s disappearance, he encounters a strange, impoverished family beset by grief, as well as mounting evidence that they hide a secret from him. The mystery surrounding Lady Parry deepens as Brendan begins to realize there is far more going on at the manor than meets the eye, but the closer he gets to the heart of the mystery, the more he becomes the quarry of an elusive stranger with a vendetta— one that could expose both his own buried identity and a long-hidden revelation that will bring about Elizabeth’s doom.

From the intrigue-laden passages of Whitehall to a foreboding Catholic manor and the prisons of the Tower, Brendan must risk everything to unravel a vendetta that strikes at the very core of his world, including his loyalty to his queen.

The Tudor Vendetta is the third book in Gortner’s Elizabeth I Spymaster Trilogy.

Praise for The Tudor Vendetta
“Fast paced and exciting, with a most engaging hero . . . So vivid, you feel are there!” – Diana Gabaldon, bestselling author of the Outlander series

“C.W. Gortner has done it again! Full of breathtaking action, dark twists and unexpected revelations, this is an unputdownable read.” – Michelle Moran, bestselling author of Madame Tussaud

“Suspense, intrigue, betrayal and deadly rivalry: What more can you ask for? A swashbuckling, perilous adventure.” – M.J. Rose, bestselling author of The Reincarnationist

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About the Author
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.

C.W. recently completed his fourth novel for Ballantine Books, about Lucrezia Borgia; the third novel in his Tudor Spymaster series for St Martin’s Press; and a new novel about the dramatic, glamorous life of Coco Chanel, scheduled for lead title publication by William Morrow, Harper Collins, in the spring of 2015.

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 please visit C.W. Gortner’s website and blog. You can also connect with him on FacebookTwitter,GoodreadsPinterest, and YouTube.


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Twitter Hashtag: #TudorVendettaBlogTour #HistoricalMystery
Twitter Tags: @hfvbt @CWGortner @StMartinsPress

Giveaway
To win a complete set of CW Gortner’s Spymaster Chronicles Trilogy please complete the Rafflecopter giveaway form below. Giveaway is open to US residents only.

Giveaway ends at 11:59pm on November 28th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
Winner will be chosen via Rafflecopter on November 29th and notified via email.
Winner have 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.

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Monday, November 24, 2014

A Reading Life (36) and All the Holiday Events!

*Christmas Spirit read-a-thon plans at end of post*


I'm going to do this Reading Life post a bit differently this time. Just going to mention what I'm reading/have been reading, some holiday/reading events and a few of the books I recently acquired. Let me just say that life has been going great, although I'm busier than I've ever been. I really can't believe that the holidays are here again, but it's my favorite time of year so I can't wait for all the goings on. How about you?

Currently reading:
Howard's End, E.M. Forster
The Tudor Vendetta, C.W. Gortner

Audio:
Bag of Bones, Stephen King (one of my faves from SK...third read for me!)

Family Reading Project (20 minutes daily, alternating titles):
We have kind of stalled with this. Trying to pin down a teen and preteen is difficult. We last left off abandoning Jurassic Park, as it was too much for them...too technical, a bit boring. We picked up Salem's Lot during Halloween season, but didn't get far. We're still reading Mary Stewart's The Crystal Cave and I think we will continue with that and do some Christmas reading during the season.

TuesBookTalk - We are currently reading Howard's End by E.M. Forster. In December, our Christmas read is The Stupidest Angel by Christopher Moore.

Lit Collective - our theme for our March retreat is Venice. We are reading and will be discussing books about or set in Venice. Our non-fiction title is Venice: Pure City by Peter Ackroyd and our fiction titles are The Venetian Mask by Rosalind Laker and Stone Virgin by Barry Unsworth.

Events/Reading and Holiday:


The 5th Annual Christmas Spirit Reading Challenge started today. You still have time to sign up. You can get all the details at this POST. The Christmas Spirit Read-a-Thon is also going on this week through Sunday. You can still sign up and join us HERE.


The 2014 Sharing the Joy event at The Christmas Spirit kicks of tomorrow on Rudolph Day. Get all the details at this POSTI invite any authors or bloggers out there who love Christmas to contribute a guest post, if you would like.  It can be anything Christmas-y...a story, poem, top ten lists, favorite things, share pics of your Christmas decor, etc., etc.  If you would like to contribute, please contact me via the form which can be accessed in the menu at the top of the right sidebar at The Christmas Spirit.

Recent Book Acquisitions:

From Better World Books -
3001 Things We Love About Christmas, The Zondervan Corporation
A Christmas Secret, Anne Perry
A Wish for Christmas, Thomas Kinkade
The Christmas Kitchen, Tammy Maltby with Anne Christian Buchanan
Christmas Around the World, compiled by Maria Hubert


My Christmas Spirit Read-a-Thon plans:

  • finishing The Tudor Vendetta by C.W. Gortner
  • finishing Howard's End by E.M. Forster
  • A Home for Christmas by MK McClintock
  • Jacob T. Marley by R. William Bennett
  • Day of Fire by Various Authors


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Thursday, November 20, 2014

Cat Thursday: Cats in Art (7)


Welcome to the weekly meme that celebrates the wonders and sometime hilarity of cats! Join us by posting a favorite LOL cat pic you may have come across, famous cat art or even share with us pics of your own beloved cat(s). It's all for the love of cats! Enjoy! (share your post in the Mr. Linky below)

More lovely paintings with cats this week. Hope you like them!

Joseph Arpad Koppay (1859-1927) Mother's Sweetheart

Joseph Caraud (1821 - 1905)

Joseph Caraud Idle Hours 1863

Nikolas Kornilievich Bodarevsky (1850–1921) 
Young girl with cat

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Tuesday, November 18, 2014

HFVBT: Stephanie Thornton's The Tiger Queens: The Women of Genghis Khan - Review and {Giveaway}


My thoughts
Stephanie Thornton has earned herself a permanent place in my roster of favorite historical fiction authors. I mean, is there anything this woman can't write!? As she did with her first two novels, The Secret History and Daughter of the Gods, once again she has created another strong and heroic female character. And not only do we have the strong central character of Borte, but we have the other "women of Genghis Khan" who were also strong and heroic in their own right.

In The Tiger Queens, we get to hear the story of the women behind the legend of Genghis Khan. As any person who is obsessed with history, I have long been interested in Genghis Khan and his exploits. Now with this book, we get a glimpse of the inner workings of his life and who was really influential to him. Although this book is not non-fiction, it is so finely researched that I felt I was learning history along the way. And I always say that one of historical fiction's jobs is to spark enough interest in the reader to spur them into seeking more information on the subject, whether that be learning about it online or reading books about it. This book has definitely done that and then some!

And returning back to the character of Borte. Despite being read a prophecy by her mother that she would be responsible for great destruction in the future, Borte seeks to overcome this foretelling and bands together with the other tiger queens to ensure the happiness of their family, and the greatness of their people. Who doesn't love a character who overcomes adversity for the greater good? I know I do!

With The Tiger Queens, Thornton has firmly secured her place as one of the historical fiction greats. The glorious thing is knowing that she is hard at work on her next novel. I cannot wait for it! Please, if you have not read her books, take it from me. If you love historical fiction, or even just a great, well-told story, this is the author for you.

About the book
Publication Date: November 4, 2014
NAL Trade
Formats: eBook, Paperback
Genre: Historical Fiction

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In the late twelfth century on the sweeping Mongolian grasslands, following a violent feud between blood brothers, the victor Temujin ascends to power, declaring himself Genghis Khan. But behind one powerful man stand many strong women…

After her mother foretells an ominous future for her, darkness looms over Borte’s life. She becomes an outcast among her clan and after seeking comfort in the arms of an aristocratic traveler, she discovers he is the blood brother of Temujin, the man she was betrothed to years ago but who abandoned her long before they could marry. And he will only leave her behind again.

Temujin will make Borte his khatun, his queen, yet it will take many women to safeguard his fragile new empire. Their daughter, a fierce girl named Alaqai, will ride and shoot an arrow as well as any man. Fatima, an elegant Persian captive, seeks revenge against the Mongol barbarians who destroyed her city and murdered her family, but in the end will sacrifice everything to protect the Golden Family. Demure widow to Genghis’ son, Sorkhokhtani positions her sons to inherit the Empire when it begins to fracture from within.

As Genghis Khan sets out to expand his conquests and the steppes run red with blood, Borte and the women of the clan will fight, love, scheme, and sacrifice, all for the good of their family and the greatness of the People of the Felt Walls…

Praise for The Tiger Queens
“A gripping epic of sacrifice, revenge, and conquest…kept me riveted from beginning to end!” –Michelle Moran, bestselling author of The Second Empress

“From under the felted ger tents of Genghis Kahn emerge four powerful women. It is a testament to Thornton’s writing prowess that she can so intricately whittle heroines that are both compassionate and ruthless from the bones of our ancestors…a stunning achievement!” — Barbara Wood, New York Times bestselling author of The Serpent and the Staff and Rainbows on the Moon

“A vivid depiction of warrior women tough as the harsh, windswept steppes which nurtured them and who, as the warring Mongol clans battle for supremacy, survive… to ensure their men emerge the victors. Gripping stuff!” –Alex Rutherford, author of the Empire of the Moghul series

“A sprawling historical saga centering on the wives and daughters of Genghis Khan. These bold, courageous women make tremendous sacrifices in the face of danger, revenge and high-stakes survival, all in the name of family love and loyalty. Be prepared to be swept away by Thornton’s richly drawn epic of an empire and its generational shifts of power.” –Renee Rosen, author of Dollface and What the Lady Wants

“They were the Golden Family of Genghis Khan. Yet their lives were anything but golden as they struggled to hold together the very center of the largest empire the world has ever known. An empire that was built in one lifetime, and would have been destroyed in the next had it not been for the wives and daughters of the Great Khan. This is historical fiction at its finest.” — Gary Corby, author of The Marathon Conspiracy
“Three generations of strong women live, love, suffer, and triumph in a fresh and gritty setting—Genghis Khan’s forging of an empire in thirteenth century Mongolia. Marginalized in most histories, these Mongol mothers and daughters, empresses and slaves, claim their voices again in Stephanie Thornton’s The Tiger Queens. Unusual and imaginative!” –Elizabeth Loupas, author of The Second Duchess and The Red Lily Crown

“Stunning. The Tiger Queens sweeps the reader into the ruthless world of Genghis Khan’s wives and daughters with a gritty realism as intense as the eternal blue sky and blood-soaked steppes. Vivid characterization and top-notch writing. This story of strong women, their enduring friendships and passions give a rare glimpse into a shadowy period of history. A worthy successor to Taylor Caldwell’s The Earth is the Lord’s.” –Judith E. French, author of The Conqueror, The Barbarian, and The Warrior



About the Author
Stephanie Thornton is a writer and history teacher who has been obsessed with infamous women from ancient history since she was twelve. She lives with her husband and daughter in Alaska, where she is at work on her next novel.

“The Secret History: A Novel of Empress Theodora” and “Daughter of the Gods: A Novel of Ancient Egypt” are available from NAL/Penguin. “The Tiger Queens: The Women of Genghis Khan” will hit the shelves November 4, 2014, followed by “The Conqueror’s Wife: A Novel of Alexander the Great” in November 2015.

For more information please visit Stephanie Thornton’s website and blog. You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.


Visit other blogs on the tour--Tour Schedule
Twitter Hashtag: #TheTigerQueensBlogTour #HistoricalFiction #GenghisKhan
Twitter Tags: @hfvbt @StephMThornton @PenguinUSA

Follow the instructions on the Rafflecopter form below to enter for a chance to win a paperback copy of The Tiger Queens by Stephanie Thornton! (Open to U.S./Canada)

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A copy of this book was sent to me in exchange for an honest review. I was not monetarily compensated for providing it. 

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Thursday, November 13, 2014

Cat Thursday - Authors and Cats (37)


Welcome to the weekly meme that celebrates the wonders and sometime hilarity of cats! Join us by posting a favorite LOL cat pic you may have come across, famous cat art or even share with us pics of your own beloved cat(s). It's all for the love of cats! Enjoy! (share your post in the Mr. Linky below)

The second Cat Thursday of each month is Authors and Cats Thursday. Each time I will feature an author and their cat(s).

This month's author is Neil Gaiman, who celebrated his birthday on November 10. He is pictured here with Zoe, who passed away in 2012. In the article below, he explains why he is inspired by cats.


Neil Gaiman, author of novels, short fiction, graphic novels, and more, is perhaps most well-known for his comic book series The Sandman, his young adult novel, Coraline, his novel, American Gods, and for being a total badass and a god among the best of nerds.

Neil Gaiman also really, really, really loves cats. He has multiple cats and often chronicles their adventures on his blog. The cats he’s had recently include Coconut, Hermione, Pod, Zoe, and the imitable Princess, who Gaiman describes thusly:

“I’ve grown so used to having a bad-tempered but beautiful cat that I need to warn visitors about. She’s outlasted all the cats I loved and all the cats I bonded with.

And I think she’s grown very used to me.

When Zoe died, it was really easy to explain to people how much you could miss a sweet, gentle cat who was nothing but a ball of utter love. I’m going to have a much harder time one day, months or even years from now, explaining why I miss the meanest, grumpiest and most dangerous cat I’ve ever encountered.”

Neil on Zoe: “And I’m wondering what it is about this small blind cat that inspires such behaviour — mine, Olga’s, Lorraine’s…. I’ve had cats in this house for 18 years, and there are cat-graves down by gazebo. Two cats died of old age last year. It wasn’t like this. I think it may be the love. Hers, once given, was yours, unconditionally and utterly.”

Article source

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Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Mary F. Burns' The Spoils of Avalon - Review


My thoughts
I have recently become a fan of historical mysteries so when I was offered this book for review, I jumped at the chance. The beauty of this book is we get two historical eras for the price of one and our historical sleuths are real figures in history, from the art and literary worlds.

The mystery involves the death of a clergyman in the 19th century surrounding the disappearance of a holy relic which came from Glastonbury Abbey in the Tudor era, 16th century England. In it, we get the unlikely pairing of John Singer Sargent the famous painter and Violet Paget aka Vernon Lee, an author. Their rapport, stemming from being lifelong friends, is enjoyable and their methods for solving the mystery were quite interesting.

Not only do we get a mystery that keeps us turning the pages, we also get to experience the dissolution of the monasteries, wrought by Henry VIII, firsthand. In this case, Glastonbury Abbey, the renowned monastery so entrenched in Arthurian legend. The author has deftly written two eras of the past making the reader feel present the entire time and with the historical background left intact.

An enjoyable mystery which also gives us some history and so we learn something along the way. I recommend this book to anyone who enjoys great historical fiction and mysteries combined. This being the first in a series, I look forward to continuing on with the adventures of Violet and John.

About the book 
Publication Date: November 1, 2014
Sand Hill Review Press
Paperback; 300p
ISBN: 978-1937818289
Series: A John Singer Sargent/Violet Paget Mystery (Book One)
Genre: Historical Fiction/Historical Mystery



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The death of a humble clergyman in 1877 leads amateur sleuths Violet Paget and John Singer Sargent into a medieval world of saints and kings—including the legendary Arthur—as they follow a trail of relics and antiquities lost since the destruction of Glastonbury Abbey in 1539. Written in alternating chapters between the two time periods, The Spoils of Avalon creates a sparkling, magical mystery that bridges the gap between two worlds that could hardly be more different—the industrialized, Darwinian, materialistic Victorian Age and the agricultural, faith-infused life of a medieval abbey on the brink of violent change at the hands of Henry VIII and Thomas Cromwell.

First in a new series of historical mysteries, The Spoils of Avalon introduces two unlikely detectives and life-long friends—beginning as young people on the verge of making their names famous for the next several decades throughout Europe and America: the brilliant and brittle Violet Paget, known as the writer Vernon Lee, and the talented, genial portrait painter John Singer Sargent.

Friends from the age of ten, Paget and Sargent frequently met in the popular European watering places and capitals, frequenting the same salons and drawing rooms in London, Rome, Paris, Florence, Venice, Vienna and Madrid. Both were possessed of keen minds and bohemian tendencies, unorthodox educations and outsized egos (especially Paget). Their instant, natural bonding led them to address each other as “Twin”, and they corresponded frequently when they were apart.

Henry James once described Violet Paget as having “the most formidable mind” of their times, and he was an active fan and patron of John Sargent, introducing him to London society and his own inner circles of literary and artistic genius.

Praise for The Spoils of Avalon
“An artist, a writer, a murder, a mysterious tome, a dissolving time, a crime, Arthurian legends, ancient saints books and bones. Burns’ prose drives and is sublime, with characters and settings that live on in your mind. This is an original historical mystery connecting the Age of Industry with the Age of Miracles.” – Stephanie Renée dos Santos, forthcoming novel: Cut From The Earth
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About the Author
Mary F. Burns is the author of PORTRAITS OF AN ARTIST (Sand Hill Review Press, February 2013), a member of and book reviewer for the Historical Novel Society and a former member of the HNS Conference board of directors. A novella-length book, ISAAC AND ISHMAEL, is also being published by Sand Hill Review Press in 2014. Ms. Burns’ debut historical novel J-THE WOMAN WHO WROTE THE BIBLE was published in July 2010 by O-Books (John Hunt Publishers, UK). She has also written two cozy-village mysteries in a series titled The West Portal Mysteries (The Lucky Dog Lottery and The Tarot Card Murders).

Ms. Burns was born in Chicago, Illinois and attended Northern Illinois University in DeKalb, where she earned both Bachelors and Masters degrees in English, along with a high school teaching certificate. She relocated to San Francisco in 1976 where she now lives with her husband Stuart in the West Portal neighborhood. Ms. Burns has a law degree from Golden Gate University, has been president of her neighborhood association and is active in citywide issues. During most of her working career she was employed as a director of employee communications, public relations and issues management at various San Francisco Bay Area corporations, was an editor and manager of the Books on Tape department for Ignatius Press, and has managed her own communications/PR consulting business, producing written communications, websites and video productions for numerous corporate and non-profit clients.

Ms. Burns may be contacted by email at maryfburns@att.net. For more information please visit Mary Burns’s website. You can also connect with Mary on FacebookTwitter, and Goodreads, or read her blog posts at:



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Stop by HERE to enter the giveaway for The Spoils of Avalon.


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Just in time for the holiday season...R. William Bennett's Jacob T. Marley!


“Marley was dead, to begin with . . .” These chillingly familiar words begin the beloved classic A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. Now R. William Bennett rewinds the story and focuses the spotlight on Scrooge’s miserly business partner, Jacob Marley, who was allowed to return as a ghost to warn Scrooge away from his ill-fated path. Why was Marley allowed to return? And why hadn’t he been given the same chance as Ebenezer Scrooge?

Or had he?



Tour Schedule

11/10/14 – LDS and Lovin’ it 
11/10/14 – Mel’s Shelves
11/11/14 – Adrian’s Crazy Life
11/11/14 – The True Book Addict
11/12/14 – My Devotional Thoughts
11/12/14 – The Stylish Nest
11/12/14 – Taking Time for Mommy
11/13/14 – Emma Michaels
11/13/14 – I am a Reader
11/14/14 – Readalot
11/14/14 – Literary Time Out

Watch for my review...coming soon here at The True Book Addict and at my Christmas blog, The Christmas Spirit. 


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