Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Book Blast: A Moment Forever (Liberty Victory Series #1) by Cat Gardiner

A MOMENT FOREVER (LIBERTY VICTORY SERIES #1)
BY CAT GARDINER
Publication Date: May 28, 2016
Vanity & Pride Press
eBook; 600 Pages
Genre: Historical Romance
Synopsis: In every footlocker, hope chest, and heart full of secrets there is a story waiting to be discovered and told.

     In the summer of 1992, a young writer is bequeathed the abandoned home of a great-uncle she never knew. The house has a romantic history and is unlike any home she has ever seen. Juliana Martel felt as though she stepped into a time capsule—a snapshot of 1942. The epic romance—and heartache—of the former occupant unfold through reading his wartime letters found in the attic, compelling her on a quest to construct the man. His life, as well as his sweetheart’s, during the Second World War were as mysterious as his disappearance in 1950.

     Carrying her own pain inflicted by the abandonment of her mother and unexpected death of her father, Juliana embarks on a journalist’s dream to find her great-uncle and the woman he once loved. Enlisting the reluctant assistance of a man whose family is closely related to the secrets, she uncovers the carefully hidden events of her great-uncle’s and others’ lives – and will ultimately change her own with their discovery.

     This story of undying love, born amidst the darkest era in modern history, unfolded on the breathtaking Gold Coast of Long Island in 1942. A Jewish, Army Air Forces pilot and an enchanting society debutante—young lovers—deception—and a moment in time that lasted forever.

     A Moment Forever is an evocative journey that will resonate with you long after you close the book. Romance, heartache, and the power of love, atonement, and forgiveness transform lives long after the horrors and scars of the Second World War have ended.




Excerpt:


     The closed door to the attic appeared innocuous, but like the pleasant personas and expressions many people conveyed, Juliana felt it was a dead giveaway that something terrible hid behind it. She was, after all, an example of that. Her deepest wounds, she believed, were cleverly masked behind her jovial expressions and happy demeanor, but she didn’t realize that the signs were evident in her near anorexic figure.

     However, on this late afternoon, she felt open and liberated after surviving the luncheon with her mother. She had bared her inner feelings and animosity then came home to clean the vintage kitchen. Feeling renewed, she went to the grocer around the corner because her white Frigidaire looked as hollow as she had felt these last eleven years. Strangely, she was in the mood to cook a cheeseburger.

     From the top of the staircase, Juliana could still hear the record player from the parlor. Melancholy tunes by the Ink Spots and Ella Fitzgerald filled the entire house. She hoped it would carry up into the attic, thinking the soulful music would transport her back to the era and mindset of William when he had last locked the garret.

     Yes, it was locked and after an hour of searching the house high and low, she finally found the key inside a small box in one of the dresser drawers. Beside the brass skeleton key sat a gold signet ring with engraving upon the face: propellers and wings surrounded a small diamond at its center. The inscription along the inside of the band read, “With Love, Mom and Dad.”

     “Here it goes,” Juliana said before holding her breath and nervously turning the key. She felt on the verge of a full-blown panic attack.

     The door creaked like all the others in the house and her heart rate sped up as it had time and again in the course of this home’s unveiling.

     Once the door was fully open, she pulled the slender cord hanging against the wall, illuminating the narrow passage by the bare light bulb fixture.

     Each step up the steep staircase issued a groan from the hardened planks beneath every footfall of her black Converse sneakers until she stood at the top, fiercely gripping onto the simple banister. She looked around the large, dark room before taking the final step into the unknown, mysterious, and yet-to-be-discovered past of her great-uncle. After working herself up to it for the last two days, Juliana had been expecting something ominous and frightening in the attic, yet instead she felt a sense of peace coupled with sadness. Her thoughts traveled to her father, and her emotions became even more pronounced. Her eyes welled with tears at the morose tranquility the attic emanated.

     Essentially, but for a couple of trunks and a few boxes neatly placed upon a shelf, the attic was empty, having lain undisturbed and unfilled since its purchase in December of 1942.

     If these walls could talk, they would tell her how William had slid his footlocker under the eave after placing the last of its contents within and how he had waited one full year before doing so. They would tell his grand-niece how he waited until the very last minute to place the newspaper over the windows. Once beige strips of masking tape were now an aged, burnished orange. The empty space staring back at the modern-day interloper represented the very reason for William’s departure.

     Although expecting the worst in the attic, she wasn’t prepared for the emptiness. She had imagined cobwebs extending from box to box and odd pieces of furniture and tools that had long outgrown their usefulness. She thought the attic would surely be filled with scary dolls and broken strollers, perhaps a rocking chair or an eerie mirror, maybe even some Dorian Gray-type painting and faded photographs. Expecting an antique cemetery of sorts filled with memories, stories, and voices of the past residents who had once lived at 300 Bradford Road, she was surprised by the vacant space before her.

     The startling emptiness of the room confirmed to her that no happy memories had ever been created in this house. The house never became a home, had never filled with children’s laughter or generations of family dating back to its initial construction. No household item ever had the luxury of being used enough to justify its disregard, saving and eventual storing on the third floor. It was clear to Juliana that Primrose Cottage was only a place where William laid his head, not his heart. True life had never infused these walls. The attic led her to believe he had been a bachelor—never married, never had children, never sharing his life, let alone this house, with anyone. The starkness of the attic revealed the loneliness of the man at the time of his departure.

About the Author:



     Born and bred in New York City, Cat Gardiner is a girl in love with the romance of an era once known as the Silent Generation, now referred to as the Greatest Generation. A member of the National League of American Pen Women, Romance Writers of America, and Tampa Area Romance Authors, she and her husband adore exploring the 1940s Home Front experience as living historians, wishing for a time machine to transport them back seventy years.

     She loves to pull out her vintage frocks and attend U.S.O dances, swing clubs, and re-enactment camps as part of her research, believing that everyone should have an understanding of The 1940s Experience™.

     Inspired by those everyday young adults who changed the fate of the world, she writes about them, taking the reader on a romantic journey. Cat’s WWII-era novels always begin in her beloved Big Apple and surround you with the sights and sounds of a generation.

     She is also the author of four Jane Austen-inspired contemporary novels, however, her greatest love is writing 20th Century Historical Fiction, WWII-era Romance. A Moment Forever is her debut novel in that genre.

     For more information, please visit Cat Gardiner's website. You can also connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Goodreads.


Thursday, June 16, 2016

Blog Tour: Book Spotlight of Princess Adele's Dragon by Shirley McLain

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Princess Adele's DragonPrincess Adele’s Dragon
By Shirley McLain
Genre: Fantasy
Age category: Young Adult
Release Date: 22 March, 2016


Blurb:

     Princess Adele lives with her brother, Robert, the King of Valdoria in the castle. There has been a monster terrorizing the Kingdom for months. The King has finally come to a decision on how to deal with the monster but the Princess can't agree with him. For the sake of the Kingdom Princess Adele decides she must be the one to kill the dragon. She couldn't live with herself if her brother went ahead with his plans.

     What Adele found on her quest changed her life and the lives of those around her. She was a strong young woman who knew what she wanted and would do whatever it took to get it. Follow Princess Adele as she battles to save her home and her life.
Excerpt: Princess Adele’s Dragon 

Chapter 1

     Princess Adele's face paled when she heard the words of her brother. Her large green eyes stared at his face as she spoke. "Robert, it's inhuman. You can't do that. If the child were yours, what would you be thinking?" 

     "Look, Adele, I didn't come to this decision without doing a lot of soul-searching. Do you not think I haven't run this through my mind a million times? I don't know any other way to keep our kingdom safe from that monster. The counselor told me it's worked in the past." 

     "I don't care what your mighty counselor said. You can't do this. There must be another way." Princess Adele turned from her brother, the King, leaving him standing in the room alone. Her plan must be executed before the full moon.

     How such a monster threatens her beautiful home is almost too much to comprehend. If only Anthony was here. He'd know what would be needed to stop this unthinkable act. Tears rolled down Adele's cheeks as she thought of her beloved Anthony. She enjoyed the world one day, deep in despair the next. What happened? Why did he leave? 

     The Princess recovered her emotions and resolved to come up with another plan besides sacrificing a beautiful child to the creature. There ought to be another way. Arriving at her bedchamber, her lady’s maid waited for her. 

     As Adele entered her room, Miranda bowed "Your Highness", she said. 

     "How many times do I need to tell you, Miranda, you do not bow to me and call me "Your Highness" every time I enter the room when we're alone. We've been like sisters since the age of four." 

     "I know, Adele, but if I don't do it all the time, I may forget. If I call you, Adele in public His Majesty's ogre of a counselor will behead me or something worse." 

     "What's worse than having your head chopped off?" Adele asked. 

     "Made to marry a man I do not love." Miranda helped the Princess change into her sleeping gown to make her ready for bed. 

     "Robert has tried to marry me off too many times to count. Six years ago, before we married, Anthony ran away for some reason. " 

     "You don't believe that any more than I do, Adele," With a soft voice Miranda said, he loved you more than life, and it showed in everything word and action he made. Changing the subject, what did the King say?"

     "He plans to go through with the sacrifice on the night of the full moon, which is in two weeks." Princess Adele's covered her face with her hands as tears began to flow. Her voice trembled as she spoke. "I can't sit here and do nothing. A child sacrifice is unconscionable to me." 

     "What can a girl of your small stature do against a dragon? Many Knights died fighting that dragon. I can see you dead before you even get to the lair." 

     Princess Adele climbed into bed. "You know I can do anything a man can. She stifled a yawn then said "Goodnight, my dear friend. I hope you sleep well," 

***

     Miranda blew out the wick of the oil lamp and said, "Goodnight, Adele." She turned with a big smile on her face and walked to the door to her room. I know what she's going to do, and as soon as her death is confirmed, I'll console the King. I'm in a fantastic position now to put our plan into action. I will be Queen of Valdoria! She smiled as she blew out the light and settled into her bed. 

     The door to Miranda's room opened and closed without making a sound. She heard footsteps padding across the room. "Hello, my love," Miranda whispered as she joyfully fell into a pair of strong arms. 

***

     She walked down the aisle to her beloved, Anthony. When she got close enough to take his hand, she slid backward, having to begin the journey down the aisle all over again. Adele experienced the same nightmare about her Anthony when she fell into a deep sleep. Tossing and turning, Princess Adele unable to sleep any longer, sat up in the bed. In the blackness of her room, she reached a decision. I know what I must do. 

     Without stars, the night sky displayed no brightness, only blackness as pitch. Adele hurried as she dressed in the boy’s clothes hidden in the straw of her mattress. Her secrets remained her own. Her adventures out of the castle before the sun came up, on many occasions, was known only to her. This adventure would be no different.

     Her father made sure both of his children received the same education which she gave thanks for many times. She could fight with a sword and ride a horse as well as her brother. She bested her brother in their formal schooling. He wanted to play instead of educating himself. Robert began to apply himself to his education not long before their parent’s death. Adele's impressive capabilities were known only to Robert. Her father wanted her skills kept a secret for the purpose of a surprise if she needed it. If something happened to her brother, Adele could run the kingdom. 

     If her quest failed, she would no longer be alive, and her brother would be alone. He would be the only one of the family left. Her parents, the King, and Queen died the previous year from the plague. She and her brother left the area until the crisis passed. 

     They returned home having no parents and the country, no King and Queen. Her nineteen-year-old brother became King and Lord Ashmore guided the new King in all decisions. They relied on Lord Ashmore as their father did, over the years. 

***

     In an inconspicuous manner, Adele walked down the long castle hallway to the secret exit that took her underground, straightway to the stables. She thought once again of her father and how he made sure she knew the secret entrance location. He told her no one knew about it except her, but if the need arose she could share it with her brother. So far, it remained her secret way out of the castle. 
She lit a torch before entering the tunnel. She didn't like the darkness of the tunnel. The dampness didn't bother her at all, and it felt refreshing when the outside temperature got high. 

     The trap door opening in the stable storage room remained well hidden. She checked it every evening, so it remained unobstructed. At the bottom of the ladder, she pulled her sword from its storage area. She carried it as she climbed the ladder to the storage room. 

     After covering the floor with the rug to hide the entry, she made her way to Champion's stall. "Hello, my darling. Are you ready for a ride?" The stable hand saddled the horse. She put the mufflers on Champion's hooves so he wouldn't make any noise walking across the stones. Adele waited for the guards to walk to the other side of the parapet so she could escape the castle grounds unseen. She didn't wait long. When she felt it safe, she carefully walked Champion out the gate to the open field. Once on his back, she gave the horse his head and let him run across the field to the timber edge. 



You can find Princess Adele’s Dragon on Goodreads

You can buy Princess Adele’s Dragon here:
- Amazon

Shirley McLainAbout the Author:

     Shirley McLain makes her home in Sapulpa Oklahoma with her husband and their fur family of four dogs and three cats. She also has two grown children, six grandchildren and twin great-grand sons. She has/is living a very full life. She retired after working thirty-two years as a RN and then began a full time writing carrier. She and her husband enjoy their five-acre country home. It is a perfect setting to let Shirley’s Muse work it’s magic. Shirley is an eclectic writer and has always enjoyed the writing process. Shortly after her retirement she woke up one morning with the thought that she was going to write a book. She didn’t stop writing until she’d finished her first book. So far she has published four books which are now on Amazon. Her goal is to bring as much enjoyment to her readers as they deserve and want.

You can find and contact Shirley here:
- Blog
- Facebook
- Twitter
- Goodreads

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- 15 e-copies of Dobyns Chronicles by Shirley McLain

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Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Blog Tour: 27 Days to Midnight by Kristine Kruppa: A Book Review

27 Days to Midnight
by Kristine Kruppa
Genre: YA, Steampunk, Adventure
Release date: May 3rd 2016 Giant Squid Books
Source: This book was given to me by YA Bound Books Tours in exchange for an honest review.
Summary: Everyone in Dahlia's world knows when they're going to die. Except her. 

     Her father has never shown her the pocket watch counting down the days she has left to live. When he sacrifices himself to save her from her scheduled death, Dahlia abandons her comfortable home and sets off after his murderer to uncover the secrets her father died top rotect...and the time research that could bring him back to life. 


     Then she meets Farren Reed. She should hate him. He’s an enemy soldier, a cowardly deserter, and the most insufferable man Dahlia’s ever met. Still, she needs all the help she can get, and Farren is the only chance she has to find the man who murdered her father. But Farren has only twenty-seven days left on his watch. 


     In that time, Dahlia must recover her father’s time research, foil a psychotic general’s plot, and learn to survive in a world that will never be the same. But the research holds secrets more dangerous than she had ever imagined. She will have to choose what is most important: revenge, Farren's life, or her own. And time is running out.


     My Review: In this steampunk novel, everyone is given a watch to let them know when they are going to die. Dahlia was supposed to die on the night of her eighteenth birthday, however her father sacrifices himself to let her live. Dahlia then sets out on a path of revenge to find her father’s murderer and find a way to bring her father back to life. On her quest, she meets Farren, an enemy soldier and a deserter. He is the only one who knows where Sebastian, her father's murderer, is. However, Farren only has twenty-seven days left to live. This forces Dahlia to make a hard choice, should she continue her quest for revenge or save Farren’s life?

     One thing that I really liked about the book are the characters. Dahlia starts out as a happy individual who goes about her everyday life until one night when everything changes. She is a living individual, yet through a tragedy, she faces feelings of hatred and revenge as she goes through her hard trials. She is a woman who is deeply pained and distraught. However, this tragedy is what makes her stronger. She is very tough, and she is also very serious. She can also fight for herself.

     I also loved the character, Farren. He is very composed with his situation. Even though he knows he does not have many days left, he makes the most of it. He is very clear-headed and smart. He is also very resourceful. He can also be sarcastic and is very funny. I also loved his relationship with Dahlia. Both of them do not get along initially, but over time their feelings begin to evolve. Both of them need and rely on each other.

     Overall, this book is about love, family, and choices. I felt that the characters were very complex. I even found the villain, Sebastian, to be compelling. He was very fleshed out and had many layers to him. The story was also very fast-paced and action-packed. Because of this, it was a very light easy read. It was also very thrilling, and it kept me on the edge of my seat. The story also had romance and mystery. The only thing I did not like about it was that the world-building was a bit too confusing at first, but throughout the course of the novel, I began to comprehend their world. I recommend this to anyone interested in steampunk novels and an off-beat love story.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Excerpt:

From Chapter 1:

     The sky was bright and clear on the day of Dahlia Walker’s death. 

     Morning  sun  shone as  she  strode  down  the  road,  smiling and humming to herself. It  was  her eighteenth  birthday.  The  paper  bag  tucked  under  her  arm  held a new dress for  the  occasion. Her steps clicked along the sidewalk in time to a quick, jaunty tune in her head. Her watch hung in its locked case around her neck. 

     People  streamed in  and out of  shops  arrayed in  neat  lines on either  side of  the cobblestone street. Clockwork  horses  drew  carriages  transporting chauffeurs, ladies in ruffled  skirts, and straight-backed  gentlemen. The occasional blue military airship patrolled overhead on a pleasant breeze. It was a bustling, wonderful day. A cake waited back at Dahlia’s house, and she knew the mechanical servants would already be setting out the silver and chilling the birthday champagne for her party. 

     “Get  your  news!  Get  your  daily  news!”   A  young  paperboy  stood on  the  corner,  brandishing copies of  the Sainsbury  Herald. "Anglian  airships  sighted  over  the  Hattaran  Mountains! Is  Sainsbury their next  target?  Get your news, be ready!” A clockwork  monkey crouched on his shoulder, its exposed gears whirring contentedly. 

     Dahlia paid them no heed; lately the papers reported on nothing but the war with Anglia, and she’d just about had enough of it. Under her breath, she sang along to the cheerful little tune in her head. 

     “Help, please!” A voice from a nearby alcove snapped the song away. 

     A hand snatched her sleeve and Dahlia spun. 

     “Let me go!” she shouted, jerking her arm back. 

     An old woman, wrinkled and gray, clung to Dahlia’s carefully pressed blouse. Dirty hair curled in  wisps around her head, and grime streaked her shapeless dress. Crooked yellow teeth peeked into view like rotting  daisies. A pair of broken auto-focusing spectacles dangled uselessly around her neck. Dahlia coughed against the pungent smell: a combination of sewer water and unwashed skin.

     “Please, you’ve got ta help me,” the  woman croaked, panic in her eyes. “Look...look at me watch!”  

     The misshapen crone thrust her watch in front of Dahlia’s face. It took a moment for Dahlia to notice there were only three minutes left on it. 

     Surprise stunned Dahlia into silence.

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Buy Links: Amazon paperback, Amazon kindle

About the Author:
                                              
                                               (Author Photo Credit: Sunny Wong)

      Kristine Kruppa is a mechanical engineer, writer, and world traveler. Her days are spent designing cool new car parts, but her evenings are filled with writing and cats. She has traveled solo to seventeen countries on five continents. Her other hobbies include hunting for the perfect cup of coffee, exploring used book stores, and accidentally climbing mountains. To keep up with her adventures, follow Kristine on Twitter @kskruppa. Visit her on Twitter and Goodreads.

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Friday, June 10, 2016

Blog Tour: By Helen's Hand by Amalia Carosella: A Book Review


02_By Helen's Hand

By Helen's Hand (Helen of Sparta #2) by Amalia Carosella

Publication Date: May 10, 2016
Lake Union Publishing
eBook & Paperback;

Genre: Historical Fiction

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Source: This book was given to me by Historical Fiction Virtual Book tours in exchange for an honest review.
Synopsis: With divine beauty comes dangerous power.

     Helen believed she could escape her destiny and save her people from utter destruction. After defying her family and betraying her intended husband, she found peace with her beloved Theseus, the king of Athens and son of Poseidon.

     But peace did not last long. Cruelly separated from Theseus by the gods, and uncertain whether he will live or die, Helen is forced to return to Sparta. In order to avoid marriage to Menelaus, a powerful prince unhinged by desire, Helen assembles an array of suitors to compete for her hand. As the men circle like vultures, Helen dreams again of war—and of a strange prince, meant to steal her away. Every step she takes to protect herself and her people seems to bring destruction nearer. Without Theseus’s strength to support her, can Helen thwart the gods and stop her nightmare from coming to pass?

     My Review: By Helen’s Hand picks up where Helen of Sparta ended. After Helen had tried to thwart the prophecy, she finds that her fate of causing the Trojan War seems imminent. When she arrives back home, she finds that many suitors, including her intended husband, Menelaus, are competing for her hand. Meanwhile, far away in Troy, Paris, a shepherd's son, has plans to steal Helen away and make her his lover. Could Helen find a way to prevent her nightmares from happening?

     Helen is a much more sympathetic character than she was in Helen of Sparta. Because Helen knows the destruction that she will wreak, she feels the weight of responsibility on her head. She, unlike the other characters surrounding her, sees the big picture, yet they do not heed her warnings. Because of this situation, Helen is powerless. Yet, no matter how much the characters have tried to get her to accept her fate, Helen is determined to make her own destiny. I really did like this Helen. She had grown since the first novel. Helen is very compassionate. She wants to be a good queen and cares for her people. She is also very observant and intelligent. As she goes through these trials in this novel, Helen has shown her inner strength. Thus, Helen is a determined figure, and readers find her a worthy opponent to defy the gods.

     Overall, this book is about family, love, friendship, fate, and choices. This novel is about a woman’s quest to find her own happiness. While Helen is the main narrator in this novel, I did like the few chapters about the men surrounding Helen, including her suitors and Paris. I felt that these chapters helped us to understand these characters more, especially Paris. Paris was a very naive individual who did not think about the consequences of his actions. Another aspect that I liked about this book is that there are more Greek myth tales in this novel. The only thing that I did not like about this book was the ending. I felt very robbed of the ending because it was very out of character and out of place. Still, this was a very enjoyable read, and I could not put it down. I recommend this book to those who are interested in Greek Mythology and for those who want to read more about this fascinating woman of legend.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars


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03_Amalia Carosella Author


About the Author


     Amalia Carosella graduated from the University of North Dakota with a bachelors degree in Classical Studies and English. An avid reader and former bookseller, she writes about old heroes and older gods. She lives with her husband in upstate New York and dreams of the day she will own goats (and maybe even a horse, too). For more information, visit her blog at www.amaliacarosella.com. She also writes fantasy and paranormal romance as Amalia Dillin.

     You can also connect with Amalia on Facebook, Goodreads, and Twitter here and here.


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Thursday, June 9, 2016

Helen of Sparta by Amalia Carosella: A Book Review

Helen of Sparta
Author: Amalia Carosella
Genre: Historical Fiction, Fantasy
Publisher: Lake Union Publishing
Release Date: 2015
Pages: 402
Source:  This book was given to me by Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours for an honest review.
Synopsis: Long before she ran away with Paris to Troy, Helen of Sparta was haunted by nightmares of a burning city under siege. These dreams foretold impending war—a war that only Helen has the power to avert. To do so, she must defy her family and betray her betrothed by fleeing the palace in the dead of night. In need of protection, she finds shelter and comfort in the arms of Theseus, son of Poseidon. With Theseus at her side, she believes she can escape her destiny. But at every turn, new dangers—violence, betrayal, extortion, threat of war—thwart Helen’s plans and bar her path. Still, she refuses to bend to the will of the gods.

     A new take on an ancient myth, Helen of Sparta is the story of one woman determined to decide her own fate.


     My Review: Helen of Sparta focuses on the early years of Helen’s life before she ran away with Paris to Troy. Helen is the daughter of Zeus and Queen Leda of Sparta. She was raised to have a good marriage to a powerful royal prince and  be the Sparta’s next queen. Helen’s life changes when she begins to have dreams of the future that foretells a fatal war. These dreams frighten Helen, and she vows to change her fate. She soon meets Theseus, the king of Athens and a legendary hero. The two of them fall in love, and Helen goes with him to Athens. As Helen begins to settle into a happy life as Theseus’s queen, she soon realizes that she may have unleashed a chaos that dooms their love, their happy life, and destroy their city.

     One aspect that I like about Helen in this novel is that she is allowed to choose her own fate. In Greek mythology, the reader really does not understand who Helen is and why she chose her actions. In Helen of Sparta, the character is very easy to relate to. She is a woman who cares about the war that she may cause later in the future and wants to prevent the deaths of many. She decides to make choices of her own life rather than be controlled by others. There were some aspects that I did not like about Helen. Helen can be very impulsive and makes foolish mistakes. She is also very self-centered, which is why she did not foresee the consequences of her actions until they happened. Also, she still relies heavily on the men in the story to help solve her problems. Therefore, even though Helen vows to control her fate, she is still treated as a chess piece in the novel.

     Overall, this story is about love, loss, choices, and fate. This story is about a young girl who is trying to determine a life of her choosing when the odds are stacked against her. I did find the beginning to be very slow, and it is not until halfway through the story that Helen leaves Sparta to be with Theseus. I also did not like how the novel ended. There was no resolution to the story. It just abruptly ended. Nevertheless, the historical details of the third Bronze Age and Greek Mythology blended very well in this tale. I look forward to reading the sequel to finds out what happens to Helen. I recommend this book to those who are interested in Greek mythology, star-crossed lovers, and those who would like to know more about the woman whose face launched a thousand ships.

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Blog tour: Guest Post "Allerleirauh" by Chantal Gadoury

     Today's guest writer is Chantal Gadoury. She is the author of Allerleirauh, a retelling of the lesser known fairytale by the Brothers Grimm. In this guest post, she explores the history behind the Grimm's fairytale. I have a lifelong passion for fairytales, and I look forward to reviewing Allerleirauh soon! I hope this guest post gives you some insight into her fairytale retelling. Thank you, Mrs. Gadoury!





Allerleirauh 

     
     There’s always a story behind a story, whether we as the readers know that or not. Behind every great fairy tale, there is a place where it made origin; an event or person that influenced the past cultures to create the stories that we all know and love today. Even the untold fairy tales, like “Allerleirauh,” have a place in origin. It’s hard to say, “Yes! This is exactly how this story came to be,” but it can give a general idea of how a story might have been created. 

     My name is Chantal, and I’m the author to a new “retelling” of an old Grimm Brother’s Fairy Tale: “Allerleirauh.” This is also known as “Donkeyskin,” “Catskin,” and “The King who wished to marry his Daughter.” In this fairy tale, there is a mad King who loses his wife, and promises her on her death bed to only remarry someone with her golden hair. In his search, the King discovers his maturing daughter who has the same exact golden hair. Now, before we can truly panic about the situation, the daughter does what she can to escape the arrangement by asking for dresses made of the sun, moon and stars and a coat made of a thousand furs. Needless to say, the King is successful in creating her requests, and the Princess is forced to flea her home. 

     As I was researching the fairy tale, trying to get more of the story – more of who the King, Princess and Prince were – I came across a piece of history that was linked to the story of “Allerleirauh”! 

     There was a girl named Dymphna who was born in Ireland in the 7th Century. Her father was the King of Oriel (Airgíalla) – an ancient part of Ireland that has since been renamed. When Dymphna was fourteen years old, she devoted herself to the Church and God and took upon a vow of chastity. During this time, Dymphna lost her mother to an unknown illness, and her father was devastated. It’s been report that his “health sharply deteriorated.” With any loss, (from personal experience) a part of you does deteriorate. And if you allow your grief to live through you, your mental stability would change. Needless to say, just as what happened to the Princess in the “Allerleirauh” story, the King begins to desire his daughter because of her resemblance to her mother. Can you imagine? 

     Dymphna fled the court and the Kingdom with Father Gerebernus, and a few servants. So the story changes a bit – where the daughter in the Fairy Tale tries to trick her father in requesting gifts that she is almost positive he’ll never be able to fulfill. Dymphna knew her danger was all too real, and left swiftly with a small support system around her. They eventually came to what is known now as present-day Belgium – in a town called “Geel.” 

     This is what I found that happened to her, when she reached the new shores: 
One tradition states that once settled in Geel, St. Dymphna built a hospice for the poor and sick of the region. However, it was through the use of her wealth that her father would eventually ascertain her whereabouts, as some of the coins used enabled her father to trace them to Belgium.[2] Damon sent his agents to pursue his daughter and her companions. When their hiding place was discovered, Damon travelled to Geel to recover his daughter. Damon ordered his soldiers to kill Father Gerebernus and tried to force Dymphna to return with him to Ireland, but she resisted. Furious, Damon drew his sword and struck off his daughter's head.”  

     It’s truly a different ending to the Grimm Brother’s Fairy Tale (and to mine) – in which we provide the Princess with a happy ending of a new future with her Prince. Though, I suppose believers of the church could say that Dymphna also met a happy ending in going to heaven and being with God – the King of all Kings. 

     Because of her religious importance in the church, Dymphna is a saint. 

     “The remains of Saint Dymphna were later put into a silver reliquary and placed in a church in Geel named in her honour. The remains of Saint Gerebernus were moved to Xanten, Germany. [4] During the late 15th century the original St. Dymphna Church in Geel burned down. A second "Church of St. Dymphna" was then built and consecrated in 1532. The church still stands on the site where her body is believed to have first been buried.

     According to tradition, miracles occurred immediately after her tomb was discovered. A number of people with epilepsy, mental illness or to have been 'under evil influence' who visited the tomb of Dymphna were said to have been cured. The saint is invoked as patroness against mental illness. St. Dymphna's feast day is 15 May.

     Saint Dymphna is known as the Lily of Éire, due to her spotless virtue. She is traditionally portrayed wearing a crown, dressed in ermine and royal robes, and holding a sword. In modern versions she holds the sword awkwardly, as it symbolizes her martyrdom, but in the older versions seen on numerous statues and stained glass images, her sword is pricking the neck of a demon; symbolizing her title of Demon Slayer. She is also often portrayed holding a lamp, with the chained devil at her feet. 
Some modern holy cards portray Dymphna in green and white, holding a book and white lilies.”

     Being an advocate for women and our rights, I think it’s really important to talk about the history of such an important story – important because of the message it provides. Just because you might have endured sexual assult; family incest – etc. – it does not mean that you don’t deserve happiness. It doesn’t mean that anyone ever has the right to take away your joy or pride. You are more than what has happened to you. Only you have the power to allow something to define you. And. . . take the steps to do what you need to do for yourself, to be happy; in what you believe in. Dymphna did not allow her father’s desires to control her life; she left and did something amazing in helping the town and the church of Geel. 
And with that said, I hope you all take the chance in reading “Allerleirauh” for yourself and discover something in yourself, for yourself. 


All information gathered from [ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dymphna

Allerleirauh

by Chantal Gadoury

Genre:  YA Fantasy / Fairy Tale / Romance
Self Published © Chantal Gadoury
Date of Publication:  December 21st 2015
ISBN: 1522880801 
ISBN-13: 978-1522880806
ASIN:  B019O4UAN4
Number of pages:  232
Word Count: 54,551
Cover Artist: Chantal Gadoury
Photography:  Ivan Bliznetsov


Book Description:


Once Upon a Time…

In the Kingdom of Tränen, a King makes a promise to his dying wife to only remarry someone who has her golden hair. With time, the King finds his eyes are turned by his maturing daughter. Realizing her father’s intentions, Princess Aurelia tries to trick her Father by requesting impossible gifts: dresses created by the sun, moon and stars and a coat made of a thousand furs. When Aurelia discovers his success, she knows she must run away from her privileged life and escapes the kingdom disguised by the cloak and under a new name, “Allerleirauh.”

Aurelia enters the safe haven of the Kingdom of Saarland der Licht, where she is taken under the care of the handsome and gentle Prince Klaus. Hoping to not be discovered by her father’s courtiers, Aurelia tries to remain hidden under her new false identity.  Unexpected love is found between Aurelia and Prince Klaus and is challenged with an approaching arranged marriage between the Kingdom of Saarland der Licht and a neighboring ruler. With the possibility of discovery hanging in the air, Aurelia must face the difficulties of her past with her father in her journey of self-discovery before the Prince and his entire Kingdom learns the truth of her real identity, and she looses him forever.


Book Trailer:





Available at Amazon, BN, Kobo, Createspace  

Excerpt:


Prologue

     “If you ever decide to remarry, you must marry someone who is as beautiful as I and has my golden hair.” The words seemed to echo all around the darkened, red room as my dying mother whispered them. Candles were lit all across the room, creating a gloomy and death-like atmosphere around us as they flickered against the stone walls; the only solace of light were the flames, curling out from the fireplace.  My mother’s hair, like spools of golden thread, lay against her forehead, clinging to her dying, pale skin as she lifted her hand, reaching out to my Father for his answer. My mother, the Queen, was dying in her bed with my weeping father on bended knee, taking her hand and kissing her knuckles and the corner of her lips.

     “My wife…” His words were soft and full of a clouded grief I knew I didn’t understand. My father and mother were hardly ever affectionate behind closed doors. I often saw them together in the throne room, together in my father’s den, but never close; never touching. His loss of her was a mystery to me. 

     “Promise me,” she hissed at him, her breathing was growing faint as she shifted and grunted, trying to look at him more closely. Perhaps it was her only solace that her husband, my father, would never truly love anyone after her. Perhaps she hoped a new wife would only be a constant reminder of his first. 

     I stood in the background, watching the scene between my mother and father, clinging to the thick red bed drapes, my own golden curls tied back with a black ribbon. I had been pulled from my tutoring lesson with Mousier Rayner, learning French from the brittle books of my father’s library and had dressed for the occasion of my mother’s death in a simple black dress. I hadn’t known how to feel as the black silk brushed against my skin. I felt almost as if we were being paraded into her room to watch her die like an animal. Was this how life truly was? 

     We were born, lived the life God granted us, and then, just as quickly, our flame dulls until it becomes a wisp of smoke in a darkened room and we’re gone. As the servants and house-hold hands guided me into the room, I stood frozen in the back. It was often said by the Courtiers I looked much like my mother; I had the same golden hair and the same blue eyes. I wondered now how true it really was. Did I truly? 

     I felt fear as her last breath slipped between her lips, her hand slowly falling from my father’s shoulder. Everyone in the Kingdom knew the King did not have a male heir, and in turn, would need one to carry on the Royal Line. Who would be next? I could see eyes staring at me; I was my Mother’s reflection: my Mother’s legacy. I felt a cold shiver run up my spine as I heard my father reply, “I promise.” 


About the Author:


     Chantal Gadoury is a young author who is originally from Muncy, PA. Chantal enjoys to paint in her spare time, drink a good cup of coffee when she can and appreciates watching her favorite Disney classics with loved ones. When she’s not busy crafting or reading, Chantal is dedicated to her family at home: her mom, sister and a furry-puppy-brother (and her Dad, who has now lives in heaven.) As a 2011 college graduate from Susquehanna University, with a degree in Creative Writing, writing novels has become a dream come true! Visit her blog, Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, Instagram, and Amazon Author Central.

Friday, June 3, 2016

Blog Tour: Rebel Sisters by Marita Conlon-McKenna: A Book Review

Rebel Sisters
Author: Marita Conlon-McKenna
Genre: Historical Fiction
Publisher: Transworld Digital
Release Date: February 1, 2016
Pages: 400
Source: This book was given to me by TLC Book Tours in exchange for an honest review.
Synopsis: Published for the 100th anniversary of the Easter Rising, Rebel Sisters is the Number One Irish bestseller from award-winning novelist Marita Conlon-McKenna, who writes with all the emotional depth and warmth of Maeve Binchy.

     With the threat of the First World War looming, tension simmers under the surface of Ireland.

     Growing up in the privileged confines of Dublin’s leafy Rathmines, the bright, beautiful Gifford sisters Grace, Muriel and Nellie kick against the conventions of their wealthy Anglo-Irish background and their mother Isabella’s expectations. Soon, as war erupts across Europe, the spirited sisters find themselves caught up in their country’s struggle for freedom. 

     Muriel falls deeply in love with writer Thomas MacDonagh, artist Grace meets the enigmatic Joe Plunkett – both leaders of 'The Rising' – while Nellie joins the Citizen Army and bravely takes up arms, fighting alongside Countess Constance Markievicz in the rebellion. 

     On Easter Monday, 1916, the biggest uprising in Ireland for two centuries begins. The world of the Gifford sisters and everyone they hold dear will be torn apart in a fight that is destined for tragedy.

     My Review: Rebel Sisters is about the Easter Rising told from the three Gifford sisters; Grace, Muriel, and Nellie. These sisters are determined to fulfill their dreams. Grace yearns to be an artist, Muriel wants to be a nurse, and Nellie wants to be a cook. However, while they are pursuing their dreams, they meet certain people that would draw them into the Irish rebellion. Little do they know that the Irish cause would make these girls sacrifice everything that they held dear.

     I really liked how this story focuses on the personal accounts of these three sisters. The reader first sees them when they are very young, and we get a sense of what they were like and how they changed over time. These women were once a close-knit and peaceful family. However, the death of their brother changes them. They soon want to be independent. These sisters are also passionate and want to fulfill their dreams. Over time, these women become stronger. Not only are they passionate, but they are also loyal and patriotic. Each of them wants freedom and equality. These women are very bold and courageous. This made me feel sorry for them as they go through the personal tragedies in their own lives.

     Overall, this book was about friendship, family, love, loss, loyalty, and sacrifice. The writing is very beautiful and it grips you from the very beginning. These sisters were both admirable because they made a lot of risks and had to deal with the results. Therefore, this story was a very emotional read. I also loved the vivid descriptions of Ireland. My only complaint about this book is that I would have liked more focus on the Easter Rising. Nevertheless, this is a great portrait of these three courageous women, and this tale will linger with you long after you have read the last page. I recommend this story for those who would like a personal account of  historical events, stories set in Ireland, and heroines who have to stand fast in the face of danger and heartache.

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Buy from Amazon.

About The Author:



Marita Conlon-McKenna is a hugely successful Irish children’s writer. Her first novel, UNDER THE HAWTHORN TREE, sold 250,000 copies in the Irish market alone. Her debut adult novel, THE MAGDALEN, was a number one bestseller in Ireland, followed by PROMISED LAND, MIRACLE WOMAN, THE STONE HOUSE and THE HAT SHOP ON THE CORNER. She lives in Dublin with her husband and four children. Visit her website.