Thursday, 22 February 2018

#BookReview Don't Look For Me by Mason Cross @MasonCrossBooks @FreshFiction #FFreview

Don't Look For Me by Mason Cross
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Six years ago, the woman Carter Blake loved disappeared and told him not to ever look for her. For six long years, he kept that promise. She was a woman on the run — a woman with a secret many would kill for. It was better that she stay hidden.

But now someone else is looking for her. Trenton Gage is a hitman with a talent for finding people — dead or alive. And his next job is to track down the woman Carter Blake once loved, a woman on the run. With both men hunting the same person, the question is: Who will find her first?

A riveting new thriller from Mason Cross, ideal for readers of David Baldacci, Linwood Barclay, and Mark Billingham.


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Carter Blake gets an email from a concerned neighbor of a couple that has gone missing and the cops are not doing a thing to find them since they don't suspect a crime has been committed. In their opinion have they left of their own free will. All that is left is a notebook with an email address to write to in case of emergency. In the email is a photo of the couple that has gone missing and Blake sees that it's Carol, the woman he loved and lost six years ago. The woman that left a note telling him "don't look for me." Something has scared away Carol and her husband and Blake, together with Susan, the neighbor, decides to find out what. Susan and Blake find a clue in the notebook that leads them to a ghost town. But, they are not the only ones looking for Carol and her husband...

READ THE REST OF THE REVIEW OVER AT FRESH FICTION!

#CoverCrush A Well-Behaved Woman: A Novel of the Vanderbilts by Therese Anne Fowler

For new visitors do I want to explain that Cover Crush is something that my friend Erin over at Flashlight Commentary came up with and I adopted the idea together with some other friends. And, now we try to put up a Cover Crush every week. You can check below my pick of the week for their choices this week!


The riveting novel of iron-willed Alva Vanderbilt and her illustrious family in as they rule Gilded-Age New York, from the New York Times bestselling author of Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald.

In 1883, the New York Times prints a lengthy rave of Alva Vanderbilt’s Fifth Ave. costume ball—a coup for the former Alva Smith, who not long before was destitute, her family’s good name useless on its own. Marrying into the newly rich but socially scorned Vanderbilt clan, a union contrived by Alva’s best friend and now-Duchess of Manchester, saved the Smiths—and elevated the Vanderbilts.

From outside, Alva seems to have it all and want more. She does have a knack for getting all she tries for: the costume ball—no mere amusement—wrests acceptance from doyenne Caroline Astor. Denied a box at the Academy of Music, Alva founds The Met. No obstacle puts her off for long.

But how much of ambition arises from insecurity? From despair? From refusal to play insipid games by absurd rules? —There are, however, consequences to breaking those rules. One must tread carefully.

And what of her maddening sister-in-law Alice? Her husband William, who’s hiding a terrible betrayal? The not-entirely-unwelcome attentions of his friend Oliver Belmont, who is everything William is not? Her own best friend, whose troubles cast a wide net?

Alva will build mansions, push boundaries, test friendships, and marry her daughter to England’s most eligible duke or die trying. She means to do right by all, but good behavior will only get a woman so far. What is the price of going further? What might be the rewards? There’s only one way to know for certain…

Thoughts:

Sometimes I look at a cover and think "that's so clever". This one is definitely a "clever" cover. Just look at the two V's that dominates the pic with Alva standing proudly in the middle. It's stylish and it's gorgeous! 

Check out what my friends have picked for Cover Crush's this week:

Stephanie @ Layered Pages





Wednesday, 21 February 2018

#BlogTour Two Journeys Home by Kevin O'Connell @NEBookPromotion

Two Journeys Home: A Novel of Eighteenth Century Europe by Kevin O'Connell
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

It’s 1767. As the eagerly anticipated sequel to Beyond Derrynane begins, Eileen O’Connell avails herself of a fortuitous opportunity to travel back to Ireland. In Two Journeys Home, the O’Connells encounter old faces and new—and their lives change forever.

Her vivacious personality matched only by her arresting physical presence, Eileen returns to Derrynane this time not as a teen aged widow but as one of the most recognised figures at the Habsburg court. Before returning to Vienna she experiences a whirlwind romance, leading to a tumult of betrayal and conflict with the O’Connell clan.

Abigail lives not in the shadow of her sister but instead becomes the principal lady-in-waiting to Empress Maria Theresa.

Hugh O’Connell leaves behind waning adolescence and a fleeting attraction to the youngest archduchess when he begins a military career in the Irish Brigade under Louis XV. But more royal entanglement awaits him in France…

Author Kevin O’Connell again deftly weaves threads of historical fact and fancy to create a colourful tapestry affording unique insights into the courts of eighteenth-century Catholic Europe and Protestant Ascendancy–ruled Ireland. Watch as the saga continues to unfold amongst the O’Connell’s, their friends and enemies, at home and abroad.

Book Review


I read Beyond Derrynane, the first book in this series last year, and was thrilled to get the chance to reading the sequel and finding out more about Eileen O'Connell, what the next step in her life would be. You don't have to have read the first book to appreciate this book, but it's plus, although the events that happened in the first book and are mentioned in this book would be explained so you will not feel left out.

I found the first half of the book the best, to be honest. Eileen O'Connell is going back to Ireland, to visit her family for the very first time in years. It's a joyous reuniting for Eileen to once again be back home with her family. When she left Ireland was she a young widow and now she is an important person at the Habsburg court where she is in charge of the two young archduchesses. One of them being the future Queen of France, Marie Antoinette. What really appealed to me was the love story that took place back in Ireland when Eileen met the man she knew she would marry. However, not everything is that easy and she had to fight for the man she loved. There is a scene in the book where I sat with my heart in my throat as she literary had to flee together with the man she loved to freedom and a life with him. How that ended, well you have to read the book.

The second part of the book takes place back in Vienna and yes that part of the book was also good, but I did not experience the same feeling that the first half of the book gave me. The arrival of Hugh O'Connell, Eileen's little brother in Vienna and his friendship with archduchess Maria Antonia that started to blossom into warmer feelings was a storyline that just didn't truly engross me. However, the last part, in France, when Maria Antonia had been married off was both interesting and tragic.

Two Journeys Home is a book that feels really well-researched and I loved getting an insight into Habsburg court. I have read several books about the French court at the same time and getting a different view was great.

Editorial Reviews


O’Connell is a fantastic storyteller. His prose is so rich and beautiful it is a joy to read. The story is compelling and the characters memorable – all the more so because they are based on real people. . . I am Irish but I did not know about this piece of Irish history. It is fascinating but historical fiction at the same time . . . Highly recommended for historical fiction lovers!
(c) Beth Nolan, Beth’s Book Nook

I enjoyed the first part of the Saga awhile back . . . (and) couldn’t wait to continue the story of Eileen and her family . . . this author really does have a way with words. The world and the characters are so vivid . . . Overall, I was hooked from page one. I honestly think that (Two Journeys Home) was better than (Beyond Derrynane) – which is rare. The characters and world-building was done in such a beautiful manner . . . I can’t wait for the next one . . .
(c) Carole Rae, Carole’s Sunday Review, Book Girl of Mur-y-Castell

Two Journeys Home: A Novel of Eighteenth Century Europe . . . is a gripping story that will transport the reader back in time, a story with a strong setting and compelling characters . . . a sensational romance, betrayal, family drama and intrigue . . . The plot is so complex that I find it hard to offer a summary in a few lines, but it is intriguing and it holds many surprises . . .  great writing. Kevin O’Connell’s prose is crisp and highly descriptive. I was delighted (by) . . . how he builds the setting, offering . . . powerful images of places, exploring cultural traits and unveiling the political climate of the time . . . The conflict is (as well-developed as the characters) and it is a powerful ingredient that moves the plot forward . . . an absorbing and intelligently-crafted historical novel . . . .
(c) Divine Zapa for Readers’ Favourite

About the Author:


Kevin O’Connell is a native of New York City and the descendant of a young officer of what had—from 1690 to 1792—been the Irish Brigade of the French Army, believed to have arrived in French Canada following the execution of Queen Marie Antoinette in October of 1793. He holds both Irish and American citizenship.

An international business attorney, Mr. O’Connell is an alumnus of Providence College and Georgetown University Law Centre.

A lifelong personal and scholarly interest in the history of eighteenth-century Ireland, as well as that of his extended family, led O’Connell to create his first book, Beyond Derrynane, which will, together with Two Journeys Home and the two books to follow, comprise the Derrynane Saga.
The father of five children and grandfather of ten, he and his wife, Laurette, live with their golden retriever, Katie, near Annapolis, Maryland.

Links:

Author Website 


Tour Schedule: Blog Stops (February 19th – 23rd)


February 19th
Spotlight  Layered Pages

February 20th
Guest Post -The Writing Desk
Guest Post – Blood Mother Blog

February 21th
Book Review - A Bookaholic Swede
Book Excerpt – Kate Braithwaite
Guest Post – A Literary Vacation

February 22nd
Interview & Review – Flashlight Commentary
Book Excerpt – Just One More Chapter
Book Review –Impressions In Ink

February 23rd
Book Review – Lock, Hooks and Books
Book Review – before the second sleep
March 5th –Tour Recap


Novel Expressions Blog Tours Website


Tuesday, 20 February 2018

#BlogTour Tempests and Slaughter by Tamora Pierce @TamoraPierce ‏@prhinternational #partner

Tempests and Slaughter by Tamora Pierce
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Arram. Varice. Ozorne. In the first book in the Numair Chronicles, three student mages are bound by fate . . . fated for trouble.

Arram Draper is a boy on the path to becoming one of the realm’s most powerful mages. The youngest student in his class at the Imperial University of Carthak, he has a Gift with unlimited potential for greatness–and for attracting danger. At his side are his two best friends: Varice, a clever girl with an often-overlooked talent, and Ozorne, the “leftover prince” with secret ambitions. Together, these three friends forge a bond that will one day shape kingdoms. And as Ozorne gets closer to the throne and Varice gets closer to Arram’s heart, Arram begins to realize that one day soon he will have to decide where his loyalties truly lie.

In the Numair Chronicles, readers will be rewarded with the never-before-told story of how Numair Salmalín came to Tortall. Newcomers will discover an unforgettable fantasy adventure where a kingdom’s future rests on the shoulders of a talented young man with a knack for making vicious enemies.


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If you have read the Immortals series by Tamara Pierce is Numair Salmalín is a familiar name. In her new series, The Numair Chronicles do we get to know Numair Salmalín before he became a famous mage. When he was still Attam Draper.

Tempests and Slaughter is the first new book in a new series by Tamara Pierce, and when I got the chance to read this book couldn't I turn it down. And, I'm glad that I decided to go for the book because Pierce has written a fabulous YA fantasy book that can be read by young and old. The book is almost 500 pages thick, but it's never a dull moment. I have to admit that I got some Harry Potter vibes reading this book, two boys and one girl studying magic? However, storywise are they pretty different. However, I do think HP fans will love this book.

I found the story to be interesting straight through. When the book starts is Arram almost eleven years old and the story will progress until he's fourteen so one gets to follow him as he grows older (of course together with his trusted friends Varice and Ozorne) and reading about him becoming more and more powerful. Even as a teen is he a great mage that just needs to learn to harness his power.

There is a lot of events in this book and I particularly liked the latter part of the book, when Arram has to help the wounded gladiators. Gladiator games are a big thing in this book, and Arram has a hard time dealing with that since he is against slavery and the barbarity of gladiator games.

I found this the first book to be an excellent start of a new series and both new and old fans of Tamara Pierce will love it!

I want to thank Random House for providing me with a free copy for an honest review!


ISBN-10: 0375847111
ISBN-13: 978-0375847110

A playlist to go with the book!

Elysium - Gladiator OST
Liberi Fatali - Nobuo Uematsu
Dragonborn - Soule
Slaves to Rome  - Gladiator OST
One Final Effort - Martin O'Donnell, Michael Salvatori
We Belong to the Sea  - Aqua
Cape horn - Sarah Brightman
A Salty Dog - Sarah Brightman
Untold Legends - Salvatori
The Might of Rome - Gladiator OST
Descent - Main Theme by Morris
Never Forget - Martin O'Donnell, Michael Salvatori

#ReleaseSpotlight Death of an Honest Man M. C. Beaton @GrandCentralPub #Giveaway

M.C. Beaton
HARDCOVER BOOK - 1455558311 / 9781455558315
ELECTRONIC BOOK - 1455558338 / 9781455558339
Available in the U.S. Feb. 20, 2018


DESCRIPTION


Sergeant Hamish Macbeth--Scotland's most quick-witted but unambitious policeman--returns in M.C. Beaton's new mystery in her New York Times bestselling series.

DEATH OF AN HONEST MAN

Nobody loves an honest man, or that was what police sergeant Hamish Macbeth tried to tell newcomer Paul English. Paul had moved to a house in Cnothan, a sour village on Hamish's beat.

He attended church in Lochdubh. He told the minister, Mr. Wellington, that his sermons were boring. He told tweedy Mrs. Wellington that she was too fat and in these days of increasing obesity it was her duty to show a good example. Angela Brody was told her detective stories were pap for the masses and it was time she wrote literature instead. He accused Hamish of having dyed his fiery red hair. He told Jessie Currie--who repeated all the last words of her twin sister--that she needed psychiatric help.

"I speak as I find," he bragged. Voices saying, "I could kill that man," could be heard from Lochdubh to Cnothan.

And someone did.

Now Hamish is faced with a bewildering array of suspects. And he's lost the services of his clumsy policeman, Charlie, who has resigned from the force after Chief Inspector Blair berated Charlie one too many times, and the policeman threw Blair into the loch. Can Hamish find the killer on his own?

Death of an Honest Man by M. C. Beaton

ABOUT THE AUTHOR


M. C. Beaton has won international acclaim for her New York Times bestselling Hamish Macbeth mysteries, and the BBC has aired twenty-four episodes based on the series. Beaton is also the author of the bestselling Agatha Raisin novels, which aired as an eight-episode dramatic series on PBS, starring Ashley Jensen. M. C. Beaton's books have been translated into seventeen languages. She lives in the Cotswolds. For more information, you can visit MCBeaton.com.

WEBSITE: http://www.mcbeaton.com/us/
TWITTER: @mc_beaton
FACEBOOK: @MCBeatonAuthor
  

PRAISE FOR M.C. BEATON:


“Satisfying for both established and new Macbeth fans.”
---Booklist

“Longing for escape? Tired of waiting for Brigadoon to materialize? Time for a trip to Lochdubh, the scenic, if somnolent, village in the Scottish Highlands where M.C. Beaton sets her beguiling whodunits featuring Constable Hamish Macbeth.”
---New York Times Book Review

“Hamish Macbeth is that most unusual character, one to whom the reader returns because of his charming flaws. May he never get promoted.”
---New York Journal of Books

“With residents and a constable so authentic, it won’t be long before tourists will be seeking Lockdubh and believing in the reality of Hamish Macbeth as surely as they believed in Sherlock Holmes.”
---Denver Rocky Mountain News

“Macbeth is the sort of character who slyly grows on you.”
---Chicago Sun-Times

“Beaton keeps this lighthearted series fresh.”
---Publisher’s Weekly


#Wishlist Historical Fiction set in Spain

I started to watch Marocco Love in Times of War and that got me interested to read historical fiction set in Spain. Well, it should make me interested in books set in Marocco, but since the series is Spanish did I become more curious about the early 20-century history of Spain. Although this list contains a bit of a mishmash of hisfic.
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The bestselling author of The Paris Wife returns to the subject of Ernest Hemingway in a novel about his passionate, stormy marriage to Martha Gellhorn—a fiercely independent, ambitious young woman who would become one of the greatest war correspondents of the twentieth century

In 1937, twenty-eight-year-old Martha travels alone to Madrid to report on the atrocities of the Spanish Civil War, and becomes drawn to the stories of ordinary people caught in devastating conflict. She also finds herself unexpectedly—and uncontrollably—falling in love with Hemingway, a man already on his way to becoming a legend. In the shadow of the impending Second World War, and set against the tumultuous backdrops of Madrid, Finland, China, Key West, and especially Cuba, where Martha and Ernest make their home, their relationship and professional careers ignite. But when Ernest publishes the biggest literary success of his career, For Whom the Bell Tolls, they are no longer equals, and Martha must make a choice: surrender to the confining demands of being a famous man’s wife, or risk losing Ernest by forging a path as her own woman and writer. It is a dilemma that will force her to break his heart, and her own.

Inspired by Velázquez’s baroque masterpiece, Las Meninas, The Queen’s Prophet is an imagined account of the dwarfess Maribarbola of Spain (featured prominently in Velázquez’s painting) and her struggle for survival and self-determination at a time when dwarfs were kept by aristocracy as pets, prophets, and good luck charms.

When the Countess of Walther dies at her German estate, her loyal dwarfess Maria-Barbara is forced to work as a prophet for a traveling magician, who betrays her by selling her to the Queen of Spain. At the royal court in Madrid, Mari finds herself in a bizarre, enchanted world, a society culturally splendid but intellectually isolated. There she becomes Maribarbola, prophet to the Queen, and, her survival at stake, endeavors to outsmart the Spaniards.

Mari's wits and loyalties are tested as she becomes embroiled in palace intrigue alongside the politically embattled Queen. When Mari's carefully schemed prophecies dazzle all of Spain, she and the Queen climb to dizzying heights of power, a place as intoxicating as it is dangerous. But even as Mari survives and thrives at the Spanish court, the loss of identity she suffers from living a lie makes her question whether she is really surviving at all.

New York Times bestselling author Maria Dueñas returns with The Vineyard, a magnificent story “destined to become a classic” (Armando Lucas Correa, bestselling author of The German Girl) about ambition, heartbreak, and desire set in Mexico, Cuba, and Spain in the 1860s—perfect for fans of Kate Morton and Kristin Hannah.

Mauro Larrea’s fortune, the result of years of hardship and toil, comes crashing down on the heels of a calamitous event. Drowning in debt and uncertainty, he gambles the last of his money on daring ploy that wins him a neglected house and a vineyard in Spain, an ocean away. He journeys to Jerez de la Frontera in Andalusia with every intention of selling the property and returning to Mexio—until Soledad Montalvo, the wife of a London wine merchant, bursts into his life, determined to regain the property which was her family’s legacy. With his plans derailed, Larrea glimpses an opportunity in the flourishing sherry trade and finds himself increasingly drawn to the rich, intoxicating culture of his new surroundings. As his feelings for Soledad ripen into a consuming passion, he vows to restore the vineyard to its former glory, setting the stage for a future he never could have imagined.

Moving from the turbulent young Mexican republic to flourishing city of Havana, and onward to the fertile vineyards of Jerez as the wine trade with England is transforming the Andalusian city, María Dueñas’s new novel spans the New World and the Old. Her tale of family intrigue vividly conjures the noise and grit of silver mines, the sophistication of the Mexican capital, and the earthier lure of ancient vineyards and magnificent cities whose splendor has faded. Here is an “evocative, tender, and lush” (Diana Gabaldon, #1 New York Times bestselling author) story of courage in the face of adversity and of a destiny forever altered by the force of passion.

An international bestseller perfect for fans of Kate Morton and Tatiana de Rosnay—a sensuously written story of lost love, family secrets, and the art of creating a perfect perfume

High in the hills of Valencia, a forgotten house guards its secrets. Untouched since Franco's forces tore through Spain in 1936, the whitewashed walls have crumbled, and the garden, laden with orange blossom, grows wild. Emma Temple is the first to unlock its doors in seventy years. Emma is London's leading perfumier, but her blessed life has taken a difficult turn. Emma's free-spirited mother, Liberty, who taught her the art of fragrance making, has just passed away. At the same time, Emma has separated from her long-time lover and business partner, Joe, whose baby she happens to be carrying.

While Joe is in New York trying to sell his majority share in their company, Emma, guided by a series of letters and a key bequeathed to her in Liberty's will, decides to leave her job and travel to Valencia, to the house her mother mysteriously purchased just before her death. Emma makes it her mission to restore the place to its former glory. But for her aging grandmother, Freya, a British nurse who stayed in Valencia during Spain's devastating civil war, Emma's new home evokes memories of a terrible secret, a part of her family's past that until now has managed to stay hidden. With two beautifully interwoven narratives and a lush, atmospheric setting, The Perfume Garden is a dramatic, emotional debut that readers won't soon forget.

From the author of The Creation of Eve, “an intoxicating tale of love, betrayal and redemption,”* comes a novel of passion and madness, royal intrigue and marital betrayal, set during the Golden Age of Spain.


Juana of Castile, third child of the Spanish monarchs Isabel and Fernando, grows up with no hope of inheriting her parents’ crowns, but as a princess knows her duty: to further her family’s ambitions through marriage. When she weds the Duke of Burgundy, a young man so beautiful that he is known as Philippe the Handsome, she dares to hope that she might have both love and crowns. He is caring, charming, and attracted to her—seemingly a perfect husband.

But when Queen Isabel dies, the crowns of Spain unexpectedly pass down to Juana, leaving her husband and her father hungering for the throne. Rumors fly that the young Queen has gone mad, driven insane by possessiveness. Locked away in a palace and unseen by her people for the next forty-six years, Juana of Castile begins one of the most controversial reigns in Spanish history, one that earned her the title of Juana the Mad.

Sunday, 18 February 2018

#BookReview Mothers and Other Strangers by Gina Sorell @ginasorell @FreshFiction #FFreview

Mothers and Other Strangers by Gina Sorell
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

"My father proposed to my mother at gunpoint when she was nineteen, and knowing that she was already pregnant with a dead man’s child, she accepted."

Thus begins this riveting story of a woman's quest to understand her recently deceased mother, a glamorous, cruel narcissist who left her only child, Elsie, an inheritance of debts and mysteries. While coping with threats that she suspects are coming from the cult-like spiritual program her mother belonged to, Elsie works to unravel the message her dying mother left for her, a quest that ultimately takes her to the South African family homestead she never knew existed.


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To be honest, I thought MOTHERS AND OTHER STRANGERS was a thriller. At least that is the feeling I got from the book's blurb. The first thing the blurb says about the book is: "My father proposed to my mother at gunpoint when she was nineteen, and knowing that she was already pregnant with a dead man's child, she accepted." Wow, that is what I call a captivating line. I just had to read this book! Alas, this book is not a thriller. It's about a woman finding herself, learning more about the past, and finding peace.

READ THE WHOLE REVIEW OVER AT FRESH FICTION!

#BookReview The Lightkeeper's Daughters by Jean E. Pendziwol @JeanPendziwol @FreshFiction #FFreview

The Lightkeeper's Daughters by Jean E. Pendziwol
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Though her mind is still sharp, Elizabeth's eyes have failed. No longer able to linger over her beloved books or gaze at the paintings that move her spirit, she fills the void with music and memories of her family—a past that suddenly becomes all too present when her late father's journals are found amid the ruins of an old shipwreck.

With the help of Morgan, a delinquent teenager performing community service, Elizabeth goes through the diaries, a journey through time that brings the two women closer together. Entry by entry, these unlikely friends are drawn deep into a world far removed from their own—to Porphyry Island on Lake Superior, where Elizabeth’s father manned the lighthouse seventy years before.

As the words on these musty pages come alive, Elizabeth and Morgan begin to realize that their fates are connected to the isolated island in ways they never dreamed. While the discovery of Morgan's connection sheds light onto her own family mysteries, the faded pages of the journals hold more questions than answers for Elizabeth, and threaten the very core of who she is.

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THE LIGHTKEEPER'S DAUGHTERS is a book that I felt from the beginning was just my kind of book. I love books with dual storylines. Also, I was quite taken with the cover and blurb.

THE LIGHTKEEPER'S DAUGHTERS is about two twin sisters that were born at the beginning of the 20th-century to a lightkeeper and his wife on an isolated island. There, they grew up with their two older brothers. Several events, when they were older, would permanently change their lives and, in the end, make them move away from the island. Now one of the sisters, Elizabeth, is back and living in a nursing home.

READ THE REST OF THE REVIEW OVER AT FRESH FICTION!