Thursday, March 23, 2017

The Silent Songbird (Hagenheim Series #7) by Melanie Dickerson: A Book Review

The Silent Songbird (Hagenheim Series #7)
Author: Melanie Dickerson
Genre: YA, Historical Fiction, Christian
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Release Date: 2016
Pages: 302
Source: Netgalley/Publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Synopsis: Evangeline is gifted with a heavenly voice, but she is trapped in a sinister betrothal until she embarks on a daring escape and meets brave Westley le Wyse. Can he help her discover the freedom to sing again?

     Desperate to flee a political marriage to her cousin King Richard II’s closest advisor, Lord Shiveley—a man twice her age with shadowy motives—Evangeline runs away and joins a small band of servants journeying back to Glynval, their home village.

     Pretending to be mute, she gets to know Westley le Wyse, their handsome young leader, who is intrigued by the beautiful servant girl. But when the truth comes out, it may shatter any hope that love could grow between them.

     More than Evangeline’s future is at stake as she finds herself entangled in a web of intrigue that threatens England’s monarchy. Should she give herself up to protect the only person who cares about her? If she does, who will save the king from a plot to steal his throne?

      My Review: Evangeline is a cousin of King Richard. She is forced to marry an ugly and decrepit man, Lord Shively. Repulsed, Evangeline runs aways. She disguises herself as a mute girl and meets Westley le Wyse, a kind stranger who out of compassion takes her into his household. When she arrives at the household, she gradually comes to care for the people and falls in love with Westley. However, once Wesley discovers the truth to her lies, will they finally be able to love and trust each other or will the lies tear the couple apart forever?

       I really didn’t like the main characters in this book. They were not very relatable. Evangeline was very selfish. She didn’t care that her actions negatively affected others because all she cared about was her own happiness. I loathed how she treated her servant, Muriel. She dragged her into deception, and when they were separated from each other in the le Wyse’s household, she didn’t bother to check up on her or asked to care for her. She also didn’t take the time getting to know her friend, Nicola. All she cared about was her relationship with Westley. She did not take anyone’s feelings into consideration. Thus, while she is supposed to be a good character, I thought that she was no different from the mean girl, and I didn’t understand why Westley would fall for her.

     Westley was also unlikable in this novel. He made very unwise decisions in this novel. He was very gullible. He was described by many characters as being kind, but I never really saw it. He was also very selfish. He didn’t interact much with many of the servants except for Evangeline. The only reason he hung around her and fell for her was because she was beautiful. There were no other reasons for why he loved her. Thus, their relationship felt very forced and had no chemistry. As a hero, he was very weak and was often a damsel-in-distress. His servants said he was an expert swordsman, yet nowhere in the book did it show that he was a good fighter. He always had to be saved by his enemies from Evangeline.  This leads me to the ending. The climax was a letdown. The author gave her characters an easy way out of a dangerous situation. Thus, because Westley was a weak character, he was able to save his lady love without lifting a finger or even use a little wit.

     Overall, this book is about love, choices, and hope. The characters were not very well-written. However, what I disliked most about the two protagonists was that they never really suffered any consequences in this story. Also, having read all of Melanie Dickerson’s books, this was mostly a recycled version from her other books. There was no original plot in the novel. Thus, if you have read all the major plot points from her previous novels, you will notice that there is nothing new. The same contrivances are also here. Girl is forced to marry an ugly, old man; girl is a servant in a love interest’s household; girl marries love interest. As a fan of Melanie Dickerson, I hope that she comes up with something more original. I love all her novels, and have re-read the series many times. Yet, The Silent Songbird lacks creativity. The reason why I am disappointed with this book is because she is one of my favorite authors, and I know that she is capable of doing better. I think that the reason why this book is not top quality was because she had three books released that year. I think that instead of her focusing on how many novels she produced over the year, she should focus on the quality of her product. It is not necessarily about quantity but quality. Thus, The Silent Songbird was a very promising novel, and one of my most anticipated books of 2016. Sadly, it didn’t live up to its potential. I’m still going to re-read this book again simply because I love her Hagenheim series. This novel will be sure to please many fans of her works. However, I think her previous novels are better. I’m looking forward to reading the next books in this series because I’m sure that they will be more enjoyable than this novel.

Rating: 2½ out of 5 stars

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Guest post: Marie Benedict: Mileva Maric

     Today's guest writer is Marie Benedict. She is the author of The Other Einstein, a novel about Albert Einstein's wife. In this guest post, she writes how she was intrigued to write about women who have been overshadowed by their illustrious husbands and also introduces us to Mrs. Einstein's story. Thus, I hope this guest post will not only give you some insight into the novel, but will leave you fascinated fascinated with Mrs. Einstein. Thank you, Ms. Benedict!



Mileva Maric


I feel like I have been on the lookout for the story of Mileva Maric since I was a girl. Growing up, I was fortunate to have a wonderful aunt — who was an English professor and a forward-thinking nun — who fed me a steady diet of thought-provoking literature. One birthday, she gifted me with a book that rocked my perspective on the world. That book was Marion Zimmer Bradley’s The Mists of Avalon, a ground-breaking re-telling of the Arthurian legend from the perspective of the women in Arthur’s life, Guinevere and Morgan LeFay. This book made me wonder at the other untold stories of women that exist in legend and history, and set me on the path toward excavating women’s narratives.

So when I started reading the Scholastic biography for children Who Was Albert Einstein with one of my sons in preparation for his book report, I already had a well-developed antennae for the secret tales of women. The biography mentioned that Albert Einstein met his first wife at university where they were both physics students, and that they were married during his most prolific period. I was intrigued at the thought of this woman — a university student when very few women even received high school educations and who was married to one of the world’s most renown scientists during his “miracle year” of 1905 when he published four of his most important theories. What was her story? And what role might she have played in the foundation of modern physics?

I dug into the research about Mileva Maric. I learned that her largely untold history was mesmerizing in its right, not just as a fresh perspective on Albert’s life. Her climb from the remote regions of the Austro-Hungarian empire where it was illegal for girls to attend high school to the higher physics classrooms of a European university was astonishing in itself. From this backdrop and research THE OTHER EINSTEIN was born, and with it, the story of Mileva Maric was uncovered and revealed.  


The Other Einstein
by Marie Benedict
Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark
Release Date: 2016
Pages: 304
Synopsis: What secrets may have lurked in the shadows of Albert Einstein’s fame? His first wife, Mileva “Mitza” Mari­, was more than the devoted mother of their three children—she was also a brilliant physicist in her own right, and her contributions to the special theory of relativity have been hotly debated for more than a century.
     In 1896, the extraordinarily gifted Mileva is the only woman studying physics at an elite school in Zürich. There, she falls for charismatic fellow student Albert Einstein, who promises to treat her as an equal in both love and science. But as Albert’s fame grows, so too does Mileva’s worry that her light will be lost in her husband’s shadow forever. A literary historical in the tradition of The Paris Wife and Mrs. Poe, The Other Einstein reveals a complicated partnership that is as fascinating as it is troubling.

Praise for The Other Einstein:


      “In her compelling novel… Benedict makes a strong case that the brilliant woman behind [Albert Einstein] was integral to his success, and creates a rich historical portrait in the process.” — Publishers Weekly

     “Benedict's debut novel carefully traces Mileva's life—from studious schoolgirl to bereaved mother—with attention paid to the conflicts between personal goals and social conventions. An intriguing… reimagining of one of the strongest intellectual partnerships of the 19th century.” — Kirkus

     “Many will enjoy Benedict’s feminist views and be fascinated by the life of an almost unknown woman.” — RT Book Reviews, 4 Stars

     “…an ENGAGING and THOUGHT PROVOKING fictional telling of the poignant story of an overshadowed woman scientist.” — Booklist

About the Author: 


     Once a New York City lawyer, Marie Benedict had long dreamed about a fantastical job unraveling the larger mysteries of the past as an archaeologist or historian -- before she tried her hand at writing. While drafting her first book, she realized that she could excavate the possible truths lurking in history through fiction, and has done so in THE OTHER EINSTEIN, the story of Mileva Maric, Albert Einstein's first wife and a physicist herself. Writing as Heather Terrell, Marie also authored The Chrysalis, The Map Thief, and Brigid of Kildare. She is a graduate of Boston College and the Boston University School of Law, and lives in Pittsburgh with her family. For more information, visit her website.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Guest Post: Germaine Shames: Giving an Indomitable Ballerina Her Moment in the Spotlight

     Today's guest writer is Germaine Shames. She is the author of Between Two Deserts. Her most recent novel You, Fascinating You, is about an Italian Maestro, who wrote a love song about his lost wife. In this guest post, she writes about the life of Margit Wolf, the novel's main protagonist. She was a ballerina, who was forced to separate from her husband, Pasquale Frustaci. It was not until twenty-two years later that the couple would meet again. I hope this guest post will give you some insight into this novel. Thank you, Ms. Shames!




Giving an Indomitable Ballerina Her Moment in the Spotlight


     When, back in 2007, I began to research the life of ballerina Margit Wolf, not a single archive or database mentioned her. Today, she is the protagonist of a novel, e-book, audiobook and Broadway-scale musical, all titled You, Fascinating You.

     Next year will mark fully a decade devoted to this epic, real-life story in which Wolf, seeking her fortune in 1920s Italy, inspired a timeless love song, only to fade from history without a trace.

     Margit was born in 1910 and began her ballet training at the Hungarian State Opera at the age of four.  In 1928, a young ballerina of  only 17, she set off—along with three other dancers, including the legendary Karola Szalai—for Italy, where she was promised an audition at La Scala.

     The audition never materialized and the young ballerinas found themselves dancing in music halls alongside popular artists touring as part of Italy’s then vibrant musical theater scene. Margit soon met the up-and-coming Neapolitan conductor/composer Pasquale Frustaci, who would become her husband and father of her one child.

     While the couple scrambled for a toehold in the increasingly fascist-regulated entertainment industry, Europe seethed beneath the surface with old enmities. As Mussolini and Hitler spun a twisted alliance, Italy’s racial policies became increasingly severe until, in 1938, all foreign Jews were given six months to leave the country.

     Twenty-two years would pass before the ballerina and her maestro again met face-to-face.

     In adversity Margit Wolf’s innate heroism rose to the fore, demonstrating the lengths to which a woman will go to protect and honor those she loves. Her example has buoyed me through the long, and often trying, journey from inspiration to first draft, from paperback to e-book, from audition to audiobook, and page to stage. Watching people’s faces when they speak of You, Fascinating You and how Wolf’s indomitable spirit has touched their lives, I know the effort has been worth it.

To order the Audiobook: http://goo.gl/U7Td2P

To order the Print or e-Book: http://palefirepress.com/you-fascinating-you-book/
Intro to the Audiobook: https://youtu.be/mNaPoOVLUFE
Book Trailer: https://youtu.be/bUh9lk16KGA
Audio Excerpt: https://youtu.be/MK7xlVs9jhA
Website of Germaine Shames: http://germainewrites.com
Facebook page of You, Fascinating You: https://www.facebook.com/YFYMusical/



You, Fascinating You


by Germaine Shames
Publisher: Pale Fire Press
Release Date: 2012
Pages: 258
Synopsis: "People who love do the impossible all the time"-Margit Wolf

     Behind every great love song is an unforgettable woman.

     In the final weeks of 1938, in the shadow of Kristallnacht and imminent war, a heartsick Italian maestro wrote a love song called “Tu Solamente Tu.”

     Its lyrics lamented his forced separation from his wife, the Hungarian ballerina Margit Wolf, in the wake of Mussolini’s edict banishing foreign Jews from Italy. The song, first recorded by Vittorio de Sica in 1939, catapulted to the top of the Hit Parade and earned the composer the moniker the “Italian Cole Porter.” The German version, “Du Immer Wieder Du,” would be performed by Zarah Leander, the foremost film star of the German Reich, and its English counterpart, “You, Fascinating You,” by the Glenn Miller Army Air Force Band.

     Twenty-two years would pass before the maestro and his ballerina again met face-to-face.

     You, Fascinating You begins as a backstage romance and ends as an epic triumph of the human spirit.


     Here is an excerpt from the audiobook, You, Fascinating You:



About the Author:


     Germaine Shames scours the globe in search of compelling stories. Shames is author of Between Two Deserts, two earlier nonfiction books, and three feature screenplays. A former foreign correspondent and contributor to Hemispheres, More, and National Geographic Traveler, she has lived and worked in such diverse locations as the Australian outback, Swiss Alps, interior of Bulgaria, coast of Colombia, Fiji Islands, and Gaza Strip. With You, Fascinating You the author returns to her roots in the performing arts to reveal a hidden story painstakingly researched across three countries over the course of five years. For more information, visit her website.

Monday, March 20, 2017

With Ballet in My Soul: Adventures of a Globetrotting Impresario by Eva Maze

     Eva Maze’s memoir With Ballet in My Soul: Adventures of a Globetrotting Impresario is set to be released in April 2017, published by Moonstone Press LLC.




Synopsis:


     A life spanning close to 100 years is noteworthy, if only because of its longevity. The rich life of a woman committed to a professional vision ahead of its time, filled with glamour, excitement, and adventure, is truly remarkable. Narrated in her own words, this is the story of such a woman, Eva Maze, who, from the time she left Romania as a teenager in 1939, dreamed of being a ballet dancer, and through a series a circumstances, became instead one of the most successful theatrical impresarios in Europe – with a career spanning more than 40 years.

     Now in her nineties, Maze looks back at the path and passion that led her from Bucharest to the United States as an immigrant, and then, as a married woman, back again to Europe and Asia, where she found her professional calling.

     Set against key historical events of the 20th century, including the building of the Berlin Wall, the massacre at the 1972 Munich Olympic Games, as well as the rise and fall of Pan American Airlines, Maze’s fascinating past is brought to life through a combination of serious commentary and amusing anecdotes about the risks and rewards of the business side of theater and dance, some of the personalities who were part of those worlds from the 1940s to the 1990s, her own motivation for being an impresario, and her personal life. Her narration is supported by more than 250 captivating historical and modern images going back to her birth in 1922.

     Representing artists and companies abroad from a vast array of talent in the performing arts of the time – including The Alvin Ailey Dance Company, The Living Theatre, and The Swingle Singers – this unique woman became a prolific producer of more than 100 different types of theatrical programs from the world of dance, music, mime, cabaret, and drama.


Praise:


     “Lively, educational, and a fun romp through Europe's professional circles, With Ballet in My Soul blends the artistry of performance and visual enhancements with an adventurer's heart to provide a heady mix of travelogue, career journey and personal odyssey that's hard to put down.” - Midwest Book Review

     “A fascinating life story about a remarkable woman who had a thriving career as an impresario that lasted for more than forty years, With Ballet in My Soul is an excellent memoir about one woman’s world travels, and how the places we travel to can shape our lives. Growing up in Bucharest, Romania, the narrative told in Maze’s own words spans the course of her life, following her leaving Romania in 1939 and immigrating to the United States, with dreams of becoming a ballet dancer often on her mind. After getting married in Brooklyn, New York, Maze eventually returns to Europe, and then travels to Asia, finding her calling not as a dancer, but as an impresario, who put together many successful theatrical performances. With intriguing images following along the rich text, the life of Maze comes alive on the page, as real world events such as the building of the Berlin Wall, the Munich massacre, and the rise and fall of Pan Am airlines are discussed through Maze’s viewpoint. The story is told in a variety of styles, including straight-forward commentary and entertaining anecdotes detailing the business side of theater and dance, revelations about personalities who were part of those worlds across the decades, and Maze’s own motivation for being an impresario, with details of her personal life sprinkled throughout the text, allowing the reader to get to know the author in an intimate fashion. This is a well-constructed autobiography about a woman who has accomplished much in her years. With beautiful photographs throughout the book, accompanying a pleasing design that makes the memoir feel as if it is almost a scrapbook, the story is engaging, well-written, and constantly surprising.” – 5 Stars, Red City Review

     "Although this memoir details the life of a remarkable woman, it documents many important historical world events. From life in England shortly after WWII, to New Delhi in the 1950s, to being a part of the 1972 Munich Summer Olympics, to living in Greece during turbulent times, there is a wealth of interesting, factual material. She includes many photographs, newspaper articles, and personal artifacts throughout the book. In With Ballet in My Soul: Adventures of a Globetrotting Impresario, Eva Maze shares many memories from her extraordinary life. Ms. Maze is an excellent writer, captivating the reader from the first chapter to the last.” - 5 Stars, Readers’ Favorite


Excerpt:

Chapter 1 – Bucharest


     My dreams of becoming a ballerina were shattered when I was diagnosed with scarlet fever in the Spring of 1929. “I can’t see, Mamma. Mamma, I’m blind,” I kept repeating over and over again. My body shook, racked with a very high fever, and I couldn’t stop crying. “It will be fine,” my mother whispered as she held me in her arms.“ The doctor is coming.” My mother’s voice was calm as she tried to soothe me, but nothing she said or did seemed to help. I was seven years old, exhausted, and terrified. In my panic, I remember a doctor coming to our house to deliver the verdict.

     It was not unusual in those days for a child my age to come down with scarlet fever, or what was also known as “brain fever.” Usually contracted at school, it would begin with a sore throat and rash, and once diagnosed, the entire family was isolated and quarantined. There were no vaccines or antibiotics then, and the child would often die.

     Following a previous misdiagnosis – that of an ear infection – I was finally rushed to the hospital for an operation by a specialist, a 70-year-old ear, nose, and throat surgeon known as Professor Popovici. He ended up breaking the mastoid bones behind my ears to drain the buildup of fluids from my brain. In today’s world, this disease would have successfully been treated with antibiotics, but this was Bucharest, Romania, in 1929, and many medical advances lay in the future. The surgery was successful, and with two scars that, to this day, have remained behind my ears, I am indebted to Dr. Popovici for having saved my eyesight – and my life. While this was to be the most traumatic experience of my childhood, it taught me something perhaps more valuable that has carried me through life: to have courage.

     As far back as I can remember, I had dreamt of becoming a ballerina, and though I eventually made a full recovery, my hopes of dancing on stage soon faded when my parents, concerned about my health, refused to allow me to exert myself physically in any way. Ballet classes I had previously taken and thoroughly enjoyed were now forbidden. I was their only child, and had almost died, so their overprotection was perhaps understandable, but I was very disappointed, especially since, prior to my illness, my mother had actually wanted me to study ballet. She had taken me to a ballet performance at the Opera House in Bucharest and, much to my delight, arranged for my first ballet lessons at the age of five. My teacher at the time – an imposing former Russian dancer named Madame Semeonova – thought I had a talent for ballet, and even offered me a scholarship. Once I had recovered completely, she did her best to convince my parents to have me resume my lessons, but they would have none of it. My mother had made up her mind that any strenuous activity, including ballet, would endanger my health.

     I did, however, continue to dance around the house on my own, since moving my body to music came naturally to me. We all have different ways of expressing ourselves, and responding to beautiful music physically made me feel romantic and ethereal – as if I were floating on air. It would be another 13 years until I returned to my early love of ballet class when, as a young, married 20-year-old, I began training seriously in New York City. By then, I knew it was too late for me to have a professional career as a ballet dancer, though I continued to have a deep affection for the world of music and dance – and felt an almost mystical connection to it. Little did I know this feeling would eventually lead me to another fascinating career in the performing arts: that of managing and touring other talented dancers and artists. Though I myself would not end up dancing on stage in front of audiences around the world (other than in a few bit parts early in my professional life), I would do my best to work behind the scenes and instead, as what is known as an “impresario,” bring the wonderfully artistic world of dance – and other highly creative theatrical mediums – directly to the myriads of passionate spectators who support them worldwide.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

The Rivals of Versailles (The Mistresses of Versailles Trilogy #2) by Sally Christie: A Book Review

The Rivals of Versailles (The Mistresses of Versailles Trilogy #2)
Author: Sally Christie
Genre: Historical Fiction
Publisher: Atria Books
Release Date: 2016
Pages: 449
Source: Edelweiss/Publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Synopsis: And you thought sisters were a thing to fear. In this captivating follow-up to Sally Christie’s clever and absorbing debut, we meet none other than the Marquise de Pompadour, one of the greatest beauties of her generation and the first bourgeois mistress ever to grace the hallowed halls of Versailles.

     The year is 1745 and King Louis XV’s bed is once again empty. Enter Jeanne-Antoinette Poisson, a beautiful girl from the middle classes. As a child, a fortune teller had told young Jeanne’s destiny: she would become the lover of a king and the most powerful woman in the land. Eventually connections, luck, and a little scheming pave her way to Versailles and into the King’s arms.


     All too soon, conniving politicians and hopeful beauties seek to replace the bourgeois interloper with a more suitable mistress. As Jeanne, now the Marquise de Pompadour, takes on her many rivals—including a lustful lady-in-waiting, a precocious fourteen-year-old prostitute, and even a cousin of the notorious Nesle sisters—she helps the king give himself over to a life of luxury and depravity. Around them, war rages, discontent grows, and France inches ever closer to the Revolution.


     Told in Christie's celebrated witty and modern style, The Rivals of Versailles will delight and entrance fans as it brings to life the court of Louis XV in all its pride, pestilence, and glory.


      My Review: The Rivals of Versailles tells the story of one of France’s most infamous historical figures, Madame de Pompadour. As a child, a child, a fortune teller prophesied that Jeanne will become a king’s lover and be the most powerful woman in France. Ecstatic about the prophecy of Jeanne’s bright future, her mother begins planning on how to make the prophecy come true. With the help of Jeanne’s connections, schemes, and luck, she is finally able to catch King Louis XV’s eye. However, the relationship is not all filled with sunshine and happiness. Jeanne must outshine her enemies in order to maintain her position.
   
  When Sally Christie announced this sequel to The Sisters of Versailles, I was elated because Madame de Pompadour is one of my favorite historical figures. I expected to love it more than her first book simply because of the subject matter. However, this is only a paper thin portrayal of Madame de Pompadour.

  In this novel, Madame de Pompadour is a shallow character. There is no character development in this novel. The first part focuses on her schemes to become the king’s mistress. In the second part, she is merely a background character, when all the other rivals are introduced. The Rivals of Versailles shows Jeanne to be a selfish, vain, and weak character. Ms. Christie rushes through the novel, and doesn’t take time to flesh her out. Thus, Madame de Pompadour is very one-dimensional, and her portrayal of one of the most powerful women in France is very unsatisfactory.

   Overall, this was a very superficial novel about Madame de Pompadour. The writing is stilted and repetitious. The dialogue is juvenile. The plot of the book is very fast-paced and does not take the time to flesh out the characters. The most obvious flaw in the book is that the narration of the story is mostly told rather than shown. I would have enjoyed this novel more if it was a nonfiction book, where it only gives the basic details of her life. However, this was a flat historical fiction novel. I was very upset for not liking The Rivals of Versailles. This book had so much potential, and I loved The Sisters of Versailles. Like the movie, Marie Antoinette, starring Kirsten Dunst, this novel was like candy. However, like candy, it left a bitter aftertaste in your mouth because it is all sweetness and no substance. I am still going to give The Enemies of Versailles a chance because of the French Revolution. However, I still have to look elsewhere for a historical fiction novel that can do Madame de Pompadour justice. The Rivals of Versailles will appeal to fans of Philippa Gregory, Michelle Moran, and Marci Jefferson.

Rating: 2½ out of 5 stars 

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Daughter of a Thousand Years by Amalia Carosella: A Book Review

Daughter of a Thousand Years
Author: Amalia Carosella
Genre: Historical Fiction, Contemporary
Publisher: Lake Union Publishing
Release Date: February 21, 2017
Pages: 444
Source: Netgalley/Publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Synopsis: Greenland, AD 1000

     More than her fiery hair marks Freydís as the daughter of Erik the Red; her hot temper and fierce pride are as formidable as her Viking father’s. And so, too, is her devotion to the great god Thor, which puts her at odds with those in power—including her own brother, the zealous Leif Eriksson. Determined to forge her own path, she defies her family’s fury and clings to her dream of sailing away to live on her own terms, with or without the support of her husband.

     New Hampshire, 2016

     Like her Icelandic ancestors, history professor Emma Moretti is a passionate defender of Norse mythology. But in a small town steeped in traditional values, her cultural beliefs could jeopardize both her academic career and her congressman father’s reelection. Torn between public expectation and personal identity, family and faith, she must choose which to honor and which to abandon.

     In a dramatic, sweeping dual narrative that spans a millennium, two women struggle against communities determined to silence them, but neither Freydís nor Emma intends to give up without a fight.

     My Review: Daughter of a Thousand Years tells the story of two women separated by time, who struggle to stay true to their Norse religion during the prevalence of Christianity. Freydis is a Viking, who finds herself at odds with her family as she strives to make her own dreams come true. Emma, a contemporary woman, is a history professor, who also finds herself at odds with her family, friends, and society as she struggles to choose which faith she must believe in. Can these two women manage to stay true to their beliefs and religion, or do they have to conform to society in order to find happiness?

     Lately, Amalia Carosella has not lived up to her Helen of Sparta duology. I found Tamer of Horses to be less enjoyable because I didn’t like the main characters. I decided to give this one a chance because I love the Viking era. While I did love the historical aspect in this novel, I would have enjoyed it more if it wasn’t for the contemporary aspect. However, since the contemporary aspect takes up half the book. I have to say that this was the least enjoyable book I have read so far from her.

    Freydis was a very likable character. I really loved her storyline, and wished that this book would solely be focused on her. Freydis is a strong character. She is iron-willed, determined, and courageous. She never stops fighting to make her dreams come true even in the face of adversity. Emma, on the other hand, was a very frustrating character. She is more of a damsel in distress. She doesn’t stand up for herself and relies on others to save her. She is also very compliant. In many ways, she was the opposite of Freydis. Emma’s storyline was very unrealistic and unappealing. It also had an instant romance that lacked development and chemistry.

       Overall, this story is about two women striving to make their dreams come true. The message of this book is to always be yourself. Half of these characters did not have significant development. I did like the author’s writing style, and liked the setting for these characters. While I did not enjoy this story as much as I loved her Helen of Sparta’s duology, Amalia Carosella is a promising author. Thus, I still look forward to read her future historical fiction novels. While this book was not her best work, I think that this story will appeal to fans of Anne Fortier’s The Lost Sisterhood, Helen Bryant’s The Sisterhood, and Lisa Jewell’s Before I Met You.

Rating: 2½  out of 5 stars

Friday, March 17, 2017

Blog Tour: The Enemies of Versailles by Sally Christie

02_the-enemies-of-versaillesThe Enemies of Versailles by Sally Christie

Publication Date: March 21, 2017
Atria Books
eBook & Paperback; 416 Pages

Genre: Historical Fiction
Series: The Mistresses of Versailles, Book Three
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Synopsis: In the final installment of Sally Christie’s “tantalizing” (New York Daily News) Mistresses of Versailles trilogy, Jeanne Becu, a woman of astounding beauty but humble birth, works her way from the grimy back streets of Paris to the palace of Versailles, where the aging King Louis XV has become a jaded and bitter old philanderer. Jeanne bursts into his life and, as the Comtesse du Barry, quickly becomes his official mistress.

     “That beastly bourgeois Pompadour was one thing; a common prostitute is quite another kettle of fish.”

     After decades of suffering the King’s endless stream of Royal Favorites, the princesses of the Court have reached a breaking point. Horrified that he would bring the lowborn Comtesse du Barry into the hallowed halls of Versailles, Louis XV’s daughters, led by the indomitable Madame Adelaide, vow eternal enmity and enlist the young dauphiness Marie Antoinette in their fight against the new mistress. But as tensions rise and the French Revolution draws closer, a prostitute in the palace soon becomes the least of the nobility’s concerns.

     Told in Christie’s witty and engaging style, the final book in The Mistresses of Versailles trilogy will delight and entrance fans as it once again brings to life the sumptuous and cruel world of eighteenth century Versailles, and France as it approaches irrevocable change.


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Praise for The Sisters of Versailles


“Such an extraordinary tale makes for compelling reading and, as the lead book in a planned trilogy, will draw in readers who are interested in royal lives before the French Revolution….historical fiction fans, unfamiliar with the history of the Nesle sisters, will be intrigued.” (Library Journal)

“Sally Christie’s The Sisters of Versailles is an intriguing romp through Louis XV’s France. Filled with lush backdrops, rich detail, and colorful characters, fans of historical fiction will enjoy this glimpse into the lost golden era of the French monarchy.” (Allison Pataki, author of THE ACCIDENTAL EMPRESS )

“A stunning breadth of period detail, offered in a fresh, contemporary voice.” (Juliet Grey, author of the acclaimed Marie Antoinette trilogy )

“Tantalizing descriptions and cliff-hangers will leave the reader rapidly turning the pages in anticipation… A wickedly delightful read.” (New York Daily News)


About the Author


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     Sally Christie is the author of The Sisters of Versailles and The Rivals of Versailles. She was born in England and grew up around the world, attending eight schools in three different languages. She spent most of her career working in international development and currently lives in Toronto. 

     Visit SallyChristieAuthor.com to find out more about Sally and the Mistresses of Versailles trilogy. 

     You can also find her on Facebook, Goodreads, and Amazon.


Blog Tour Schedule


Wednesday, March 15 
Review at Historical Fiction Obsession 
Interview at T's Stuff 

Thursday, March 16 
Review at Leeanna.me 
Review at The Lit Bitch 

Friday, March 17 
Review at To Read, Or Not to Read 
Spotlight at History From a Woman's Perspective 
Spotlight at What Is That Book About 

Saturday, March 18 
Review at Jorie Loves a Story 
Spotlight at Books, Dreams, Life 

Sunday, March 19 
Spotlight at Passages to the Past 

Monday, March 20 
Review at A Chick Who Reads 

Tuesday, March 21 
Review at Book Lovers Paradise 

Wednesday, March 22 
Review at First Impressions Reviews 
Review at Oh, for the Hook of a Book! 

Thursday, March 23 
Review at Broken Teepee 

Friday, March 24 
Review at Ageless Pages Reviews

Sunday, March 26 
Review at The Gadoury Dreamer 
Review & Interview at Clarissa Reads It All 

Monday, March 27 
Review at The Reading Queen 

Tuesday, March 28 
Review at Book Nerd 
Review at Luxury Reading 
Review at Svetlana's Reads and Views  

Wednesday, March 29 
Review at Impressions in Ink 
Review at A Bookaholic Swede 

Thursday, March 30 
Review at Curling up by the Fire 

Friday, March 31 
Review at Bookramblings 
Review at CelticLady's Reviews


Giveaway


     Five copies of The Enemies of Versailles are up for grabs during the blog tour! To enter, please see the Gleam form below.

Rules

– Giveaway ends at 11:59pm EST on March 31st. You must be 18 or older to enter.
– Giveaway is open to residents in the US only.
– Only one entry per household.
– All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspect of fraud is decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion.
– Winner has 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.

 Enemies of Versailles

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