Friday, May 22, 2015

HFVBT: Alison McMahan's The Saffron Crocus - Book Review

My thoughts
When I read the synopsis of this book, I knew I really wanted to read it. Plus, the cover is gorgeous and intriguing. The Saffron Crocus is a first rate work of historical fiction adding in elements of historical mystery and romance. It's a sweet romance, not at all off-putting. And the mystery really kept me guessing until almost the very end.

The author did an excellent job of describing the sights and sounds of Venice. And the characters are vividly drawn, especially Isabella. I love strong, young protagonists because I think it's empowering for young girls to read about characters like this. This being a young adult novel, it's the perfect piece to inspire young readers.

As stated, this novel is considered young adult, but it is an enjoyable read for adults as well. I found myself thoroughly entertained while reading the entire book. I will look for more of this author's works in the future.

About the book
Publication Date: December 13, 2014
Black Opal Books
eBook; 306p
Genre: Young Adult/Historical Mystery/Romance

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Winner of the 2014 Rosemary Award for Best Historical for Young Adults.
Venice, 1643. Isabella, fifteen, longs to sing in Monteverdi’s Choir, but only boys (and castrati) can do that. Her singing teacher, Margherita, introduces her to a new wonder: opera! Then Isabella finds Margherita murdered. Now people keep trying to kill Margherita’s handsome rogue of a son, Rafaele.

Was Margherita killed so someone could steal her saffron business? Or was it a disgruntled lover, as Margherita—unbeknownst to Isabella—was one of Venice’s wealthiest courtesans?

Or will Isabella and Rafaele find the answer deep in Margherita’s past, buried in the Jewish Ghetto?

Isabella has to solve the mystery of the Saffron Crocus before Rafaele hangs for a murder he didn’t commit, though she fears the truth will drive her and the man she loves irrevocably apart.


Who knew a singing career would be this much trouble?

“Rafaele!” She flew into the garret. “Piero, it was so wonderful, wait until I tell you!”

The stool next to the bed was knocked over. The tray with the genepy bottle was on the floor, one of the cups broken. The fat candle that had been burning next to Rafaele’s bed had been flung to the other side of the room.. Canvases were strewn all over the floor, some of them slashed, and many of Master Strozzi’s jars of paint elements were broken.

Did Piero and Rafaele have a fight? She quickly suppressed the thought. Who would get into a fight with a man who was already injured?

Something else must have happened.

She walked across the garret. “Piero? Rafaele, are you here?”

Rafaele was not in the bed. The sheets and blankets she had piled on top of him were strewn everywher. Blood-stained sheets spilled over the edge of the pallet. There was a pile of clothes on the floor.

She walked around to get a closer look.

Not clothes. It was Piero. Face down, one arm stretched out before him, as if in supplication.

A puddle of blood under him.


Praise for The Saffron Crocus
“I adored this beautifully written, passionate book. The Saffron Crocus is a glittering, thrilling opera of a novel that plucked my heartstrings and kept me reading at fever pitch. Brava, Alison McMahan! Encore!” -Nancy Holder, New York Times Bestselling Author of the Wicked Saga

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About the Author
Alison McMahan chased footage for her documentaries through jungles in Honduras and Cambodia, favelas in Brazil and racetracks in the U.S. She brings the same sense of adventure to her award-winning books of historical mystery and romantic adventure for teens and adults. Her latest publication is The Saffron Crocus, a historical mystery for young. Murder, Mystery & Music in 17th Century Venice.

She loves hearing from readers!

Author Links

Tour Schedule:
Hashtags: #TheSaffronCrocusBookBlast #TheSaffronCrocusBlogTour #YA #Historical #Venice
Twitter Tags: @hfvbt @AlisonMcMahan

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Cat Thursday - Arya is a star!

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! (share your post in the Mr. Linky below)

So, first off...guess what? Arya is a week 5 finalist in the 1-800-PetMeds Calling All Pets Contest! I hope you will vote for her. You can vote once each day up until June 3rd and one voter will even win a TV! Here's where you can vote. Look for her in Week 5, look for the pic below. I appreciate your votes. :) Wish her luck!

And now I share with you some winning cats...


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Saturday, May 16, 2015

Announcing The Mega Perpetual Challenge Read-a-Long!

I'm almost as excited as Tom Hiddleston!

In order to increase interaction and participation within four of the perpetual reading challenges I host, I've decided to host this MEGA read-a-long event. Although this event was designed around the four respective reading challenges, you do not have to sign up for any of them to join in on the read-a-longs (although I would welcome anyone to sign up).

The hub for the entire event will be here at The True Book Addict, but the individual read-a-longs will be hosted at their respective blogs (I will list those below) and The Fantasy Project read-a-long will be dually hosted at its blog and at its Goodreads group. As the hub for the event, I will create a page listing all the reading schedules and links to the blogs which can be accessed in the menu bar at the top of the blog.

Here is the awesome button I created for the event:

grab button for The True Book Addict
<div class="the-true-book-addict-button" style="width: 350px; margin: 0 auto;"> <a href="" rel="nofollow" target="_blank"> <img src="" alt="The True Book Addict" width="350" height="206" /> </a> </div>

So, here is the schedule of read-a-longs and their respective blog urls:

June 2015: A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray - hosted at Goodreads group and at

July/August 2015: The Covenant by James A. Michener - hosted at

September 2015: The Wolf Gift by Anne Rice - hosted at

October 2015: Salem's Lot by Stephen King - hosted at

Stay tuned. I will be posting the read-a-long schedules in the menu page up top in a few days.

I hope you will join me for one, or all, of the read-a-longs!


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Thursday, May 14, 2015

Cat Thursday: Authors and Cats (43) - Author Shaun Mullen and his Rescue Cats

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! (share your post in the Mr. Linky below)

I have a very special Authors and Cats post for you this month. Several months back, I was contacted by an author to feature one of his books at my historical fiction site, Historical Fiction Connection. In the process of our correspondence, he mentioned my being a cat person and told me that he has four rescue cats. One of them, named Django, was abandoned by his mother at four weeks and rescued just as a red-tailed hawk was about to carry him off for dinner. Of course, I always love talking to fellow cat people and I asked him if I could feature him on a Authors and Cats Cat Thursday. Of course, he agreed! He wrote something up about his cat rescue story and sent along pics of his little darlings. And so, introducing Shaun Mullen and his cats!

I have been compared to novelist Ernest Hemingway by more than a few people because of my writing style — spare but rich prose — and my visage — full beard and bald head. But there is a third similarity: A mutual love of rescue cats.

The first of many rescues that I, and later my love and I, have had over the years was Terrapin, a six-week-old-or-so descendent of cats 
at the Ernest Hemingway House in Key West. Papa, as Hemingway was called by family and friends, had included a provision in his will that the cats living on the grounds of the big house on Whitehead Street were to be cared for in perpetuity. He had said nothing about their not being adopted.

Terrapin, a slightly cross-eyed ball of black and white fluff, was polydactyl as a result of interbreeding. He had six toes on one front paw, five on the other and the usual four on each of his back paws.

Fast forward 40 years to our mountain retreat and our four current rescues, all males as it turns out, who share our house and mountainside grounds with brother-sister chocolate Labradors, who also are rescues. Everyone gets along just fine.

The oldest of the cats at age 13 is Kimba. While he is a hunk and a half in the looks department and has one blue and one green eye, he is a few whiskers short of a full meow probably owing to his having been malnourished in utero and his feral existence as a kitty. He’s great at climbing up trees but hopeless when it comes to getting back down.

Next comes Iggie, who as a kitten was found cowering next to a religious statue in a friend’s yard. Now age 6, Iggie is one of the two most intelligent cats we’ve ever known. Slightly cross-eyed, he spends hours staring at the ceiling; it was only recently that we deduced that he wasn’t spacing out but working on Foucault’s Last Theorem.

Mr. Taj had been abandoned at age 2, or so, and somehow had survived most of a brutally cold winter when we lured him into a Havahart trap. Now age 5, it has taken him years to build up trust in people. He is built like a linebacker, but has the most delicate meow, is deceptively quick and an excellent mouser.

Django will turn 2 this summer. He had been abandoned by his mother and at age 5 weeks or so, had lost about a third of his tail and was hawk bait; indeed, the day we trapped him in a briefcase there were two red-tails circling overhead. He is a great leaper and easily clears two sleeping dogs from a standing start.


We we have a tried-and-true way to avoid many of the hassles of acclimating a (terrified) new rescue cat.

We put a newbie in our downstairs powder room with a screen door to keep it in, or alternately a big dog cage with little Django. They stay under house arrest for as long as necessary — about a month on average — and during that time become accustomed to the sights, sounds and smells of the house and have plenty of quality sniffing (and hissing) time in getting used to the other critters.

When they’re ready to be released, they fit right in.

Shaun Mullen is the author of There's A House in the Land. He says this about the book:

As a career journalist of the old school, I had long resisted writing about my own life on a farm beyond the far western suburbs of Philadelphia in the 1970s, but people kept telling me that those years on the farm would make for a very special book. They were right.

There’s A House In The Land (Where A Band Can Take A Stand)” fell into place when I decided to write about the farm from an historical fiction perspective.

Writing about my decade on the farm through the lens of historic fiction let me do a couple of things: A few of my housemates had not survived the decade, but most were alive and I wanted to protect their identities, so names of people and places were changed. And I rearranged some events from their sometime chronological inconvenience to my writerly convenience to give the book a better and more dramatic flow.

Another problem remained. Our adventures aside, there was a profundity to our time together, the lessons we took away and how they have shaped our lives since. I did not want to write a fictionalized memoir that would come off sounding like a rural version of the movie “Animal House.” In this I succeeded, at least according to reviewers.

About Shaun
Shaun D. Mullen is an award-winning journalist and more recently an author.

Over a long career with newspapers, this editor and reporter covered the Vietnam War, O.J. Simpson trials, Clinton impeachment circus and coming of Osama bin Laden, among many other big stories. His work was nominated for five Pulitzer Prizes. Mullen also mentored reporters who went on to be the best in the newspaper and television business, including several who won Pulitzer Prizes.

He is the author of "The Bottom of the Fox: A True Story of Love, Devotion & Cold-Blooded Murder," a 2010 true-crime book about an unsolved murder in the Pennsylvania Poconos that recently has seen a surge in sales because of the manhunt for Eric Frein, who was captured after a 48-day manhunt and is charged with murdering a Pennsylvania state trooper. In August, he published "There's A House In The Land,” an historical fiction tale of the 1970s.

“Kiko’s House” is Mullen’s blog about political and cultural affairs. He also is a guest columnist at “The Moderate Voice.”

Much of Mullen's work is archived in the Shaun D. Mullen Journalism Papers in Special Collections at the University of Delaware Library.

Author Website
Buy the book on Amazon

You can enter to win a copy of There's A House in the Land here. There's still TWO WEEKS to enter! (Click the know you want to *wink*)

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Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Spotlight on Jennifer Bort Yacovissi's Up the Hill to Home {Giveaway}

Genre & Subject:                                                     Historical Fiction                                                                       
Demographic:                                                          Adults, Women, Catholics
Release Date:                                                           April 28, 2015
Publisher:                                                                  Apprentice House Press / Loyola University Maryland
Publisher Phone:                                                      410-617-5265                                                                                 
Distributor:                                                                Ingram                                                                                        
Hardcover ISBN:                                                    9781627200394
Paperback ISBN:                                                    9781627200561
Ebook ISBN:                                                            9781627200400

Prices:                                                                        $35.99 (h), $19.99 (p), $5.99 (e)

Author URL:                                                  

Publicist:                                                                    Stephanie Barko, Literary Publicist -
Pages:                                                                        477

Images:                                                                     None

Index:                                                                        No

Bibliography:                                                           No

Bindery:                                                                    Hardcover, Paperback, Ebook

Family. Home. Memories. Lillie Voith holds these values most dear.

When the cherished daughter, wife, and mother of nine is bedridden after a fall, her memories tug at threads woven through a century, as the fabric of her family frays around her.

“A living portrait of a loving family”, Up The Hill sketches four generations of the Miller/Beck/Voith clan from pre-Civil War to Depression era Washington DC.

Buy the book

About the author
Jenny Yacovissi grew up in Bethesda, Maryland, just a bit farther up the hill from Washington, D.C. Her debut novel, Up the Hill to Home, is a fictionalized account of her mother's family in the same region. 

In addition to writing historical and contemporary literary fiction, Jenny is a reviewer for Washington Independent Review of Books and Historical Novel Society. She owns a small project management and engineering consulting firm, and enjoys gardening and being on the water. Jenny lives with her husband Jim in Crownsville, Maryland. 

To learn more about the families in Up the Hill to Home and see photos and artifacts from their lives, visit 


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Thursday, May 7, 2015

Cat Thursday - Cats Being Jerks

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! (share your post in the Mr. Linky below)

I seriously have not laughed so hard in a long time. Cats Are The Biggest Jerks was the title of the post on FailBlog (over at that this video was posted on a few days ago. I would have to agree. Case in point: Today, Alice and Arya were in the kitchen and Arya tried to play with Alice. Well, Miss Alice was having none of it. She hissed and snooted that nose up. So I said to Arya, "Get her." You know how you do. I always say that to them when they're playing. Well, Alice got mad at me when I said that and hissed and then hissed again when she walked by me. I know she was hissing at me because Arya was way across the room. What a B. lol  I still love her, of course. We cat parents know how cats are and still love them, despite their jerk-y tendencies. It can be a trial sometimes though. haha. Okay, here's the video. Hilarious! (P.S. About 3:35 minutes in, the woman on the couch talking about getting rid of her cat and he keeps attacking her...I had a cat like that once. He literally tore up my arm. I had to give him back to the previous owner because my sons were very young and I was afraid he would attack them).

More slightly jerk-y moments...

These last two are my favorites. :)

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Thursday, April 30, 2015

HFVBT: M.J. Rose's The Witch of Painted Sorrows - In-Progress Review

Please note that this is an in-progress review. Full review will be up soon.

My (in-progress) thoughts
So exciting! A new series by M.J. Rose! The first in the Daughters of La Lune series, The Witch of Painted Sorrows does what Rose does best...create atmosphere. Each time I read one of her books, I'm instantly transported to a time and place and it's a magical experience. I am much looking forward to the continuation of the series.

About the book
Publication Date: March 17, 2015
Atria Books
Formats: Hardcover, Ebook
Pages: 384
Genre: Historical Mystery

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Possession. Power. Passion. International bestselling novelist M.J. Rose creates her most provocative and magical spellbinder yet in this erotic, gothic novel set against the lavish spectacle of 1890s Belle Époque Paris.

Sandrine Salome runs away to her grandmother’s Parisian mansion to escape her dangerous husband, but what she finds is even more menacing. The house, famous for its lavish art collection and elegant salons, is mysteriously closed up. Although her grandmother insits it’s dangerous for Sandrine to visit, she defies her and meets Julien Duplessi, a mesmerizing young architect. Together they explore the hidden night world of Paris, the forbidden occult underground and Sandrine’s deepest desires.

Among the bohemians and the demi-monde, Sandrine discovers her erotic nature as a lover and painter. Then darker influences threaten – her cold and cruel husband is tracking her down and something sinister is taking hold, changing Sandrine, altering her. She’s become possessed by La Lune: A witch, a legend and a sixteenth-century courtesan, who opens up her life to a darkness that may become a gift or a curse.

This is Sandrine’s “wild night of the soul,” her odyssey in the magnificent city of Paris, of art, love and witchery.

Praise for the novels of M.J. Rose

The Witch of Painted Sorrows

“Rose’s new series offers her specialty, a unique and captivating supernatural angle, set in an intriguing belle epoque Paris—a perfect match for the author’s lush descriptions, intricate plot and mesmerizing storytelling. A cliffhanger ending will leave readers hungry for the next volume. Sensual, evocative, mysterious and haunting.” (Kirkus Reviews)

“A haunting tale of possession.” (Publishers Weekly)

The Collector of Dying Breaths

“Breathtaking…combines fascinating history, torrid romance and a compelling mystery into a marvelous package that will entice fans of Anne Rice and Diana Gabaldon.” (Associated Press)

“A page-turning, alluring concoction of fiction infused with fantastical yet actual history. Readers will be charmed by her well-drawn and memorable characters, and they will be mesmerized by her enchanting narrative, which takes them on a mystical and magical journey.” (Library Journal (starred))

“A terrific piece of entertainment.” (CT Post)

“Wondrously original… elegantly written. Rose manages to utterly suspend our disbelief in a book that leaves us, appropriately enough, breathless.” (Providence Journal)

“Mysterious, magical, and mythical…what a joy to read!” (Sara Gruen, New York Times bestselling author of Water for Elephants)


“Atmospherically romantic and perfectly toned. Classy and elegant literary seduction of the highest measure. As wondrously crafted as it is original.” (Providence Journal)

“Readers will be enchanted by M.J. Rose’s supernaturally charged novel Seduction, inspired by Victor Hugo’s self-imposed exile on the British island of Jersey in the 1850s.” (USA Today)

“Has just about everything a thriller fan could wish for.” (Philadelphia Inquirer)

“Full of well-researched history, the paranormal, and modern intrigue, this atmospheric tale of suspense is fully engrossing to those willing to suspend their disbelief.” (Library Journal (starred review))

The Book of Lost Fragrances

“A compelling page turner…Once you catch a whiff, you will be enchanted.” (Associated Press)

“M.J. Rose is a bold, unflinching writer and her resolute honesty puts her in a class by herself.” (Laura Lippman)

“The Book of Lost Fragrances resonates with spirit, blending myth with reality, tragedy with triumph, pain with joy. You’ll find yourself questioning everything you believe–and wanting more.” (Steve Berry)

“Provocative…a sweeping sense of romance [and] history.” (Cleveland Plain-Dealer)

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About the Author
M.J. Rose grew up in New York City mostly in the labyrinthine galleries of the Metropolitan Museum, the dark tunnels and lush gardens of Central Park and reading her mother’s favorite books before she was allowed.

She is the author of more than a dozen novels, the co-president and founding board member of International Thriller Writers and the founder of the first marketing company for authors: She lives in Greenwich, Connecticut. Visit her online at

Connect with M.J. Rose on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Goodreads.

Sign up for M.J. Rose’s newsletter and get information about new releases, free book downloads, contests, excerpts and more.

ags: #WitchofPaintedSorrowsBlog Tour #Historical #BelleEpoqueParis #Paris #France #Gothic #Fantasy #Paranormal

Twitter Tags: @hfvbt @MJRose @AtriaBooks


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Cat Thursday - Relaxing Cats

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! (share your post in the Mr. Linky below)

This week we have some kitties relaxing in various ways. And at the end...a video of a couple rescued tigers taking a swim for the first time. So fun to watch!

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