Saturday, May 31, 2014

Blog Tour: A Book Review of The Puritan Witch: The Redemption of Rebecca Eames by Peni Jo Renner

Puritan Witch: The Redemption of Rebecca Eames 
Author: Peni Jo Renner
eBook, Hardcover and Paperback, 224 pages
iUniverse
ISBN-10: 1491705930
Publication Date: September 17, 2013
Genre: Historical Fiction
Source: This book was given to  me part of Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tour in exchange for an honest review
Synopsis: “On a cold night in 1692, two young girls are caught up in the divining games of a slave woman-and then begin to act very strangely when the game goes wrong. Suddenly, Salem Village is turned upside down as everyone fears that witches may be involved. Six months later, as news of the girls’ strange behavior becomes known, fear and suspicion overwhelm a nearby farming community, pitting neighbors against neighbors and turning friends into enemies. When Rebecca Eames makes one careless utterance during a verbal attack on her family, she is falsely accused of witchcraft. After her fate is decided by three magistrates, Rebecca must endure a prison sentence during which she and her fellow captives have no choice but to valiantly struggle to find humanity and camaraderie among dire conditions. In this novel based on a true story, a woman wrongly imprisoned during the seventeenth-century witchcraft trials comes full circle where she must determine if she can somehow resume her life, despite all she has endured.”

My Review: Ever since I read The Crucible in high school, I have been interested in the Salem witchcraft trials. It serves to remind how fear can treat others. Because of this, I have decided to read The Puritan Witch. It is based on the true story of Rebecca Eames, who was accused of witchcraft in Salem, Massachusetts during the trials of 1692. I had never heard of Rebecca Eames, but this novel shows how fascinating this woman was.

The story starts when Rebecca makes an angry verbal outburst at a mean man, who she views as a troublemaker, who attacked her family in front of her church community on a Sabbath. Her congregation is stunned by her comment and takes Rebecca's word as literal. She is soon arrested for witchcraft. She and her son, Daniel, who has caused trouble on the Sabbath, are taken to Salem where they become prisoners. She then endures imprisonment and humiliation. She feels that she is being punished because of her sin that happened in the past.

I came to admire Rebecca in this story. She is a strong person that is prone to impulse and anger sometimes. Over time, I felt that she was a human who made mistakes. She is a woman that went through a lot of pain and suffering and I felt for her. She is a woman that questions her God that puts her through so much suffering. She is a person anyone can identify with, and she never loses faith even when she feels she has no hope.

Overall, this book is about family, faith, love, loss, sacrifice, hope, repentance, redemption, and survival. The message of the book is that where there is darkness, there is light. When all seems to be hopeless, there is hope. This book shows the true meaning of family. While reading this book, it sort of reminded me of the short story, “The Minister’s Black Veil” by Nathaniel Hawthorne. Indeed, it also reminded me of The Scarlet Letter because of a strict Puritan society and a woman having to be punished because of her sin. The characters are very realistic, and the story is beautifully told. It can be slow sometimes, but overall it held my interest. I recommend this novel to anyone interested in the Salem Witch trials and Nathaniel Hawthorne.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Praise for Puritan Witch:

“Puritan Witch: The Redemption of Rebecca Eames is a story of the fear, suspicion, and accusations as they permeate the surrounding communities. The narration was exquisite, really painting a picture in my head and bringing to life the language of the Puritans much better than it usually is done. I loved that it was based on a true story and that the story really expands on a piece of the darkest of American history. Such a cool read!” – Katelyn Hensel, Readers’ Favorite

“Elegantly written, meticulously researched, and historically accurate, the author’s work rings true. … Renner’s vast talent as a writer is enhanced by the fact that she’s telling the story of her own family, completely captivating from beginning to end.” – Kelly Z. Conrad, award-winning author of Shaman

“In the colonial-era tale Puritan Witch, the plight of Rebecca Eames and her family plays out against the backdrop of one of the most intriguing periods in American history.” – Julie Castillo, writer and editor

About the Author:



Peni Renner is the author of Puritan Witch: The Redemption of Rebecca Eames, an award-winning historical novel based on the true-life account of Peni’s 9th great grandmother. The book is Renner’s first published work, and follows Eames’ life and struggles in 1692 Massachusetts during the Salem Witchcraft Trials.

Writing historical fiction has always been a lifelong dream of mine. I was discouraged for many years after receiving multiple rejection slips, and turned to other creative outlets like crocheting, quilting and cross-stitch for many years. Then I met a 3rd cousin of mine online who is also into genealogy and history. She told me we shared a common ancestor who was involved in the Salem Witchcraft Hysteria of 1692, and her story had never been told. My love of writing was rekindled and I began to research this ancestor, Rebecca Blake Eames. In August of 2012 I had the privilege of visiting her grave in Boxford, Massachusetts.

After months and months of research, writing, rewriting and revising, Puritan Witch came into being, featuring a lovely sketch done by my sister-in-law, Jane Sisk.

I have several other story ideas I am working on at the moment, all pertaining to interesting ancestors my 3rd cousin has introduced me to.

You can visit Peni Renner Puritan Witch Facebook page or on Twitter.

You can purchase the book through Amazon and Barnes and Noble. 




Tuesday, May 27, 2014

GI Brides: The Wartime Girls who Crossed the Atlantic for Love by Duncan Barrett & Nuala Calvi: A Book Review

GI Brides: The Wartime Girls who Crossed the Atlantic for Love
Authors: Duncan Barrett & Nuala Calvi
Genre: Nonfiction, Biography, History
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Release Date: 2013
Pages: 368
Source: This book was given to me by the author in exchange for an honest review
Synopsis: A jeeped screeched to a halt beside her. The driver called out “Hey sugar!”and Gwendolyn, turning to give a smart reply was caught speechless. There, with one foot on the dashboard, was a GI with sparkling brown eyes and exotic good looks. Within moments she had agreed to join him for dinner that night.

     Worn down by years of war and hardship, girls like Sylvia, Margaret, and Gwendolyn were thrilled to find they had more dates than they could wish for when the American GIs arrived in Britain. Others, like Rae, who distrusted the Yanks, were eventually won over by their easy charm.

     So when VE Day finally came, for the 70,000 girls who’d become GI brides, it was tinged with sadness-- it  meant leaving their homeland behind to follow their husbands across the Atlantic. And the long voyage was just the beginning of an even bigger journey.

     Adapting to a new culture thousands of miles from home, often with a man they barely knew, was tough-- but after the Blitz, these girls were determined they could cope with anything. GI Brides shares their funny, compelling, and moving true stories of giving up everything for love.

     My Review: During WWII when American GIs arrived in Britain, young English girls were happy to find that they had more dates that they could wish for. The American GIs had charm, charisma, and gentlemanly behavior that even some girls, who disliked them at first, eventually were won over. In fact when VE Day came, there were 70,000 women who became GI brides. GI Brides tells the story of four young brides who left behind their parents and homeland, to cross the Atlantic for love.

     The novel chronicles the lives of Sylvia, Margaret, Rae, and Gwendolyn. The chapters switch back and forth from person to person. The beginning tells of their courtship with an American GI. These GIs not only won the hearts of these girls, but also their families. They seemed like their ideal dream guy that these girls were instantly infatuated and were in total bliss. When the GIs proposed to them, they accepted them. They were willing to make sacrifices to be with them because they loved them. But crossing the Atlantic was only part of the story. One of them actually found happiness in her husband. The other three found that there husbands were not whom they thought they were. These three husbands who seemed to be perfect gentlemen turned out to have a dark side to them.

     I found that each of the four women were very strong and admirable. They were like any young girl who looked for love and hoped for a happy marriage. Yet when they went to the U.S. to be with their husbands, they found that they would have to adapt to a new culture, and to their new husbands. They struggled and coped with their marriages. During their trials, they struggled to find their happiness and eventually they found it.

     Overall, this novel is about family, love, sacrifices, choices, and hope. The message of the book is that even though you are going through tough trials, you will eventually come out of it and find happiness. This book is an interesting look WWII war brides. Margaret is Nuala Calvi’s grandmother so it is a personal and emotional account. I recommend this book to anyone who is interested in WWII memoirs. GI Brides is a thought-provoking novel that tells us true and compelling personal accounts of these four women. Even though this novel shows us the cost of the choices these women made to be with their husbands they barely knew, it reminds us that where there is darkness, there is hope and light. 

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars



Thursday, May 22, 2014

Blog Tour: Book Review of My Lady Viper by E. Knight

My Lady Viper
Author: E Knight
Publication Date: May 2014
Publisher: Knight Media, LLC
Pages: 398
Source: This book was given to me  for Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tour
Formats: Ebook, Paperback
Synopsis: May, 1536. The Queen is dead. Long live the Queen.

When Anne Boleyn falls to the executioner's axe on a cold spring morning, yet another Anne vows she will survive in the snakepit court of Henry VIII. But at what cost?

Lady Anne Seymour knows her family hangs by a thread. If her sister-in-law Jane Seymour cannot give the King a son, she will be executed or set aside, and her family with her. Anne throws herself into the deadly and intoxicating intrigue of the Tudor court, determined at any price to see the new queen's marriage a success and the Seymour family elevated to supreme power. But Anne's machinations will earn her a reputation as a viper, and she must decide if her family's rise is worth the loss of her
own soul...

     Book Two, Prisoner of the Queen, will be released later in 2014.

     My Review: My Lady Viper is a biographical novel of Queen Jane Seymour's, the third wife of Henry VIII, sister-in-law, Anne Seymour. Anne Seymour was known to be disliked around court, and was described as a viper. This novel gives us an in-depth psyche of Anne’s actions as she rises to become the Duchess of Somerset, and also, for a brief time, the most powerful woman in the world. She is not mostly seen as a viper, but as a strong-willed woman, who helps her family.

     The story is set during King Henry’s reign and shortly before his marriage to Jane Seymour. It begins with a touching description of the execution of Anne Boleyn that Anne Seymour witnesses. After the execution, Anne and her husband, Edward Seymour, who is the brother of the soon-to-be new queen, are happily celebrating their future prospects because they are linked to the king. They are determined to be a duke and a duchess. However, while Anne is happy with her hopes for the future, she also is filled with remorse for Anne Boleyn. She feels that she is responsible for Anne Boleyn’s death because at the right time, she pushed Jane Seymour into King Henry VIII’s path. She has a feeling that if Jane does not bear a son, then she and the Seymours will fall from grace. Anne is determined to make sure that Jane’s marriage is a success, but to do that she knows that she will be disliked around court.

     Anne is a conflicted character. Sometimes,  it is hard to like her. She does ruthless actions like plotting a person’s downfall for her and her family’s own selfish gain. However, immediately afterward, she feels guilt. Underneath her formidable exterior, Anne is an emotionally-damaged woman. She wants nothing but to gain the love of her husband, Edward, who has saved her from a traumatic experience. Because of this, she is very loyal to her husband and will do anything for him. She is very strong-willed and she makes her own decisions. Edward looks to her as a confidante and together they work as a team. It is clear that she is a woman of power.

     Overall, this book is about family, love, friendship, triumph, and survival. This book is filled with drama, romance, suspense, and political court intrigue. It is a quest for one woman’s ambition and power. My Lady Viper reads like a soap-opera, so it is a fast-paced read. The setting and the characters are well-developed. The story is beautifully written, and I like how it portrays the Tudor court, which is reminiscent of a Shakespearean play. I recommend this to fans of the Tudor period, historical fiction lovers, Philippa Gregory, C.W. Gortner, and Laurien Gardner.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Praise for My Lady Viper

"E. Knight breathes new life and new scandal into the Tudors. This is an engrossing historical fiction tale that readers will love!" ~ Meg Wessel, A Bookish Affair

"A brilliant illustration of a capricious monarch and the nest of serpents that surrounded him, My Lady Viper is an absolute must. Intricately detailed, cleverly constructed and utterly irresistible." ~ Erin,
Flashlight Commentary

"Author E. Knight proves that though there are a plethora of Tudor novels out there a writer can still create a fresh and unique view of one of history's most treacherous courts, that of England's King Henry VIII. Schemes and scandalous trysts abound in 'My Lady Viper', making for a very captivating read. Racy and deliciously sensual, once started I was hard pressed to put the book down. I eagerly await the next installment in E. Knight's stand-out Tales of the Tudor Courts series!" ~ Amy Bruno, Passages to the Past

Buy the Book

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Audio: Coming June 16, 2014 -- Available for 
Pre-Order

About the Author


     E. Knight is a member of the Historical Novel Society, Romance Writers of America and several RWA affiliate writing chapters: Hearts Through History, Celtic Hearts, Maryland Romance Writers and Washington Romance Writers. Growing up playing in castle ruins and traipsing the halls of Versailles when visiting her grandparents during the summer, instilled in a love of history and royals at an early age. Feeding her love of history, she created the popular historical blog, History Undressed. Under the pseudonym Eliza Knight, she is a bestselling, award-winning, multi-published author of historical and erotic romance.

She is avid in social media and readers can find her at:

Website 
Facebook
Twitter 
Goodreads 


Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Lady Macbeth: On the Couch by Alma H. Bond Ph.D.: A Book Review

Lady Macbeth: On the Couch: Inside the Mind and Life of Lady Macbeth
Author: Alma H. Bond, Ph.D.
Genre: Historical Fiction
Publisher: Bancroft Press
Release Date: April 15, 2014
Pages: 260
Source: This book was given to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review
Synopsis: Scholars, professors, and historians have wondered for centuries how and why Lady Macbeth, the beautiful, beloved wife of a nobleman, had to encourage--nay, push--her husband, Prince Macbeth, to commit the ghastly crime of killing the king.

     The great Sigmund Freud himself said that nobody knows why the Lady did so. Dr. Alma Bond spent many years searching for the reason.

     Read Lady Macbeth: On the Couch to learn the answer to this ancient mystery, and to get a fascinating, first-hand look at life more than a millennium ago.

     My Review: Macbeth is one of my favorite Shakespearean plays. Yet, the character that intrigues me the most in the play is not Macbeth, but his wife Lady Macbeth. She is the woman who pushed her husband to commit the ghastly crime of regicide. This is because she too is driven by a desire of ambition and greed to become Scotland’s queen. However, like Macbeth, she too has her own tragedy. In Lady Macbeth: On the Couch, Lady Macbeth’s tragedy is once again retold as she tells us her story of what led her to push her husband to commit the horrendous deed of murdering King Duncan in his sleep.

     While the book is a retelling of the Shakespearean play, the book’s early beginnings focuses on the historical Lady Macbeth. The first part of the book parallels Susan Fraser King’s novel, Lady Macbeth, which she cites in her bibliography. After the second part, she then transforms Gruoch into Shakespeare’s Lady Macbeth. The historical and the Shakespeare’s Lady Macbeths are very different, yet the author blends them both very smoothly.

     Gruoch is a woman of royal blood and a descendant of kings. In medieval Scotland, the throne did not pass from father to son. Instead, a council of noblemen chose the person best fit to be the king of Scotland. With Grouch's royal blood, any man that marries her will help in his bid for king. Therefore, Gruoch does not have any life. There have been attempts at kidnapping her. She realizes that she is merely regarded as chattel, and that she cannot control her own life. Yet, when she becomes Macbeth’s wife, she comes upon an opportunity to where she has her own power, her own sense of authority, and that she can be an equal among men. But as she suddenly obtains her own power, she realizes that she will lose everything she cherishes and loves.

     Overall, this book examines the moral conscience. This book is filled with love, revenge, and betrayal. It is a tragedy because the Macbeths were not grateful with what they had. They were blinded by ambition, and it turned out that the throne of Scotland wasn’t worth it. The message of the book is to appreciate what you have. It teaches that you should value family over money and power. I recommend this book to anyone who is a Shakespeare fan and likes reading his plays. I also recommend this to those currently studying Macbeth. Lady Macbeth: On the Couch will help understand the play and to see it in a different light.

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Friday, May 16, 2014

Blog Tour: Kathy Fischer-Brown and A Book Review of Lord Esterleigh's Daughter ( Book 1 of the Serpent Tooth Trilogy)

Please join Kathy Fischer-Brown as she tours virtually for her Serpent's Tooth trilogy - Lord Esterleigh's Daughter, Courting the Devil, & The Partisan’s Wife - and her novel Winter Fire. Blog tour includes a chance to win a $20 Amazon Gift Card. See below to enter.


Lord Esterleigh’s Daughter: Book 1, The Serpent’s Tooth trilogy


01_Lord Esterleigh's DaughterPublication Date: June 13, 2012
Publisher: Books We Love Ltd.
Formats: eBook, Paperback
Pages: 346
Source: This book was given to me as part of the Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tour

 Synposis: As a child, Anne Fairfield dreams of the father she never knew, the hero who died fighting the French and their Indian allies in a land across the sea. Her mother’s stories, and fantasies of her own devising, sustain and nurture her through a poor and lonely existence. Until one winter night, a strange man comes to call, and the life she has known comes crashing down like shattered glass. Forced to confront sordid truths, secrets and lies, the headstrong young woman begins to learn that, like generations of women ruled by their hearts, she is destined to follow in their footsteps. Set against the backdrop of 18th century England, Lord Esterleigh’s Daughter is the first book in “The Serpent’s Tooth” trilogy, which follows Anne from the rural countryside, to London society and into the center of the American Revolution.


My Review: Lord Esterleigh’s Daughter is the first novel of "The Serpent’s Tooth" trilogy. This book portrays the darker side of aristocratic England in the 18th century.The novel reads like a gothic fiction style of a story. The background is centered in the rural countryside of an English manor in London’s high-class society. It also focuses on the beginning of the American Revolution.
The heroine is Anne Fairfield. She has a mother, and believes that her father is dead. Eventually, her mother becomes ill, and she is slowly dying. Anne feels her world is shattering, and her mother, whom she cares about most in the world is leaving her forever. One day, a stranger arrives and  he turns out to be a nobleman and reveals that he is her long-lost father. He promises to make up for his neglect by taking her into his household, and making her his legitimate daughter. Her dying mother accepts his offer, and forces to make Anne promise to not only go with him, but to love him. After the death of her mother, she goes to live with her father, and is given riches and the status of a nobleman’s daughter. However, she soon learns that all is not as it seems, for hidden underneath are buried secrets, lies, and deceptions about her family.
Anne is at first a spirited woman. She loves to go horsebacking riding. She is obedient, and loves her mother. However, she is very lonely. After the death of her mother, she feels that her world has ended, and she tries to make the best of her situations by trying to live with her father. Due to her father’s long neglect, she feels hatred and anger towards him. Anne is a headstrong, bold young woman. She is not afraid to confront others. Throughout the novel, Anne is seeking the truth about her family and its history.
Overall, this novel is about secrets, betrayal, lies, friendship, and romance. It is also a quest for a woman to find the truth of her family, and to find her own happiness. The plot is fast-paced. The characters are well-developed. I didn’t like that the ending was abruptly cut-short with a cliffhanger. I think the ending could have been better written. Still, it is a good novel, and will make you want to read the next novel to find out what happens. I recommend this story to those who like gothic fiction, and to those who are interested in aristocratic English society prior to the American Revolution.
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars


Praise for The Serpent's Tooth

     4 Stars “Jane Austen showed us the gentle side of 19th century England; Kathy Fischer-Brown sets her work a century earlier and shows us how envy, revenge, and greed can work to effect long-term changes on one young woman…. The author does a wonderful job of showing all these complications clearly, with apt description, and I could easily see this series as a movie-maybe one day I will. So, if you are a fan of dark gothic themes, enjoy seeing the underbelly of British society and what goes on behind the scenes, as it were, I highly recommend you buy this trilogy.” — Long and Short Reviews
      4 ½ Stars “...This is a dark novel that deals with the resentment and anger of a girl who has been misled and cannot seem to get past her grief …. While not a typical romance, this is a fascinating, complex story that I completely enjoyed. It is well written and entertained me with mystery, suspense, scandal, sinister characters and first love.” — Romantic Historical Lovers Must Read
      “… the first book in 'The Serpent's Tooth Trilogy' [is] a very well written plot filled with romance, suspense and danger. The author's characters were developed well and believable…. Recommended for all suspenseful historical romance fans.” — My Cozy Corner Reviews


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Courting the Devil: Book 2, The Serpent’s Tooth trilogy

Courting the Devil

Publication Date: August 31, 2012 Books We Love Ltd. Formats: eBook, Paperback Four years after a near fatal blunder uproots her from her home and inheritance, Anne Darvey, daughter of the Marquess of Esterleigh, finds herself an indentured servant on a farm near Fort Edward in New York, as the British army advances toward Albany. Driven by guilt over the pain she has caused her father and grief over her lover’s death, she sets out to deliver a message. The consequences lead to the discovery that all is not as it seems, and sets in motion events that lead to love and danger. Set against the backdrop of the American Revolution, Courting the Devil is the second book in “The Serpent’s Tooth” trilogy, which follows Anne from her childhood in the rural English countryside, to London society, and into the center of the American Revolution.


Praise for Courting the Devil

     5 Stars “I liked this book even better than the first, perhaps because there were more kind, decent--even funny--characters than were in the aristocratic snake pit depicted in the first novel. The author's knowledge of this theater of the American Revolution is accurate; she knows the period well. Her characters are three-dimensional, proper 18th Century people in a well-researched setting….” — Juliet Waldron, author of Mozart’s Wife 
     " ... a high caliber historical drama. I commend Ms. Fischer-Brown on her research and attention to detail. It moves well with interesting characters and story lines....Two thumbs up for Courting the Devil.” — Writer Wonderland
      4 ½ Stars “…kept me in suspense and filled with anticipation of what was to come. This book was written with gentle reminders and hints of the past without rehashing the original story and the scenes were descriptive and engaging....I like the Anne of this book a lot more than the previous book. It is clear she has grown up a bit and sees things differently.” — Romantic Historical Lovers


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The Partisan’s Wife: Book 3, The Serpent’s Tooth trilogy

01_The Partisan's Wife

Publication Date: February 6, 2013 Books We Love Ltd. Formats: eBook, Paperback Faced with an impossible choice, Anne Marlowe is torn between her husband’s love and the hope of her receiving father’s forgiveness. As American forces follow up on their tide-turning victories over the British at Freeman’s Farm and Bemis Heights, Peter is drawn deeper into the shady network of espionage that could cost them both their lives. Is his commitment to “the Cause” stronger than his hard-won love for Anne? Will her sacrifice tear them apart again...this time forever? Or will they find the peace and happiness they both seek in a new beginning? The Partisan’s Wife follows Anne and Peter through the war torn landscape of Revolutionary War America, from the Battle of Saratoga to British-occupied New York and Philadelphia, and beyond.


Praise for The Partisan's Wife

     5 Stars “In The Partisan's Wife, the last book in the trilogy, the author picks up where the second book left off. I have to admit that I am totally impressed with the author's research into the time period her books are written in, everything was just perfect. With more twists and turns, the author finishes off the trilogy with an unexpected ending. I would Highly recommend the trilogy for all suspenseful historical romance fans, but be sure to read them in order so your not missing out on anything.” — My Cozy Corner Reviews
    5 Stars “This is the last book of the trilogy. The historical research is outstanding. Kathy does a great job with the characters and story, everything is very believable. The whole trilogy is a read I would recommend to any one that loves historical fiction.” — Goodreads Review
   4 Stars “The story itself was wonderful. It was beautifully told with lots of detail and exciting pace. I found myself staying up late at night just to see what was going to happen next, and in the moments that I couldn’t read I was always thinking about it. The Serpent’s Tooth Trilogy is an excellent read that you shouldn’t let pass you by!” — Unabridged Chick
     4 Stars “…the author wrote such descriptive details of the surroundings that I was able to paint a vivid picture of what each of our characters endured. Overall this was a very different type of romance story. The author had a unique idea and created a compelling story around it…. I really enjoyed these books and am glad Anne finally understood what it is she wanted and was able to move on.” — Romantic Historical Lovers       4 Stars “I absolutely loved this book! The attention to detail was incredible…. From the actions and speech patterns of her characters to the way the settings were depicted, I could feel like I was living during the Revolutionary War, watching the story as it unfolded….” — Once Upon a Book


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Winter Fire

L

Publication Date: November 6, 2010 Books We Love Ltd. Formats: eBook, Paperback When Ethan Caine pulled the unconscious woman from the half-frozen creek, he had no idea that his world was about to explode. Dressed in quilled doeskin of Iroquois design, she stirred up dark secrets from his past. At the same time, she was everything he desired. But she was more Indian than white, and on the run for murder. He needed to know the truth. He needed to find it within himself to trust her. Banished by the Seneca Indians who adopted and raised her, ostracized by the whites in the settlement, Zara Grey wanted only to be accepted. “Ethancaine” treated her with kindness and concern. It was easy to trust him. But her Indian ways disturbed him, and in her heart she would always be Seneca.


Praise for Winter Fire

     5 Stars “This historical story will take you back in time and capture your heart in an era of hard times, of family ties and of a love that is meant to be. I can't say enough how great this story is. It is well plotted and flows so easily that before you know it… You can't put it down. You have to see what will happen next. I "HIGHLY" recommend this book!! You can't go wrong on this one.” — Amazon reader review
    5 Stars “I liked this book so much, I read it twice. Moves along well and keeps your interest. Would recommend it.”— Amazon reader review
  4 Stars "Kathy Fischer-Brown recreates the terror of the Indian wars and vividly evokes the wonder of newfound love." — Faith V. Smith, Romantic Times
 "Winter Fire is a beautifully written, well-researched novel of passion and honor...If you're looking for an adventure, a history lesson, and a touching romance, you'll find it wrapped up in Winter Fire. I highly recommend this wonderful tale." — Jani Brooks, Romance Reviews Today
   4 Stars “Kathy Fischer-Brown … does an excellent job of weaving in the cultures clashing against each other, the unfounded prejudices of societies that don't understand each other, while still keeping the focus on the romance. This is a touching story, the characters are vivid, the history is accurate, and the details really give the story a sense of place.” — The Romance Studio


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About the Author

03_Kathy Fischer-Brown

As a child Kathy wanted to be a writer when she grew up. She also wanted to act on the stage. After receiving an MFA in Acting from the Mason Gross School of the Arts and playing the part of starving young artist in New York, she taught theater classes at a small college in the Mid-West before returning home to the East Coast, where over the years, she and her husband raised two kids and an assortment of dogs. During stints in advertising, children’s media publishing, and education reform in the former Soviet Unions, she wrote whenever she could. Her love of early American history has its roots in family vacations up and down the East Coast visiting old forts and battlefields and places such as Williamsburg, Mystic Sea Port, and Sturbridge Village. During this time, she daydreamed in high school history classes, imagining the everyday people behind all the dates and conflicts and how they lived. Claiming her best ideas are born of dreams, Kathy has written a number of stories over the years. Her first published novel, Winter Fire, a 1998 Golden Heart finalist in historical romance, was reissued in 2010 by Books We Love, Ltd., which also released Lord Esterleigh’s Daughter, Courting the Devil, and The Partisan’s Wife. When not writing, she enjoys reading, cooking, photography, playing “ball” with the dogs, and rooting on her favorite sports teams. For more information visit Kathy Fischer-Brown's website. You can also find her on Facebook and Twitter.


Virtual Book Tour Schedule

Monday, May 5 Review at Caroline Wilson Writes (Lord Esterleigh's Daughter) Tuesday, May 13 Guest Post at The Bookworm Friday, May 16 Review at History From a Woman's Perspective (Lord Esterleigh's Daughter) Monday, May 19 Review at Just One More Chapter (Lord Esterleigh's Daughter) Tuesday, May 20 Guest Post at Just One More Chapter Tuesday, May 27 Guest Post at Book Lovers Paradise (with Louise Turner and Juliet Waldron) Monday, June 9 Spotlight at Historical Fiction Connection Thursday, June 12 Review at Book Nerd (Winter Fire) Monday, June 17 Review at Historical Fiction Obsession (Lord Esterleigh's Daughter) Wednesday, June 18 Review at So Many Books, So Little Time (Winter Fire) Wednesday, June 25 Review at Closed the Cover (Winter Fire) Monday, June 30 Review at Book Nerd (Courting the Devil)


Giveaway

To win a $20 Amazon Gift Card please complete the Rafflecopter giveaway form below. Giveaway is open internationally. Giveaway ends at 11:59pm on June 30th. You must be 18 or older to enter. Winner will be chosen via Rafflecopter on July 1st and notified via email. Winner have 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen. 

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Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Book Blast: Curses and Smoke: A Novel of Pompeii by Vicky Alvear Shecter

Curses and Smoke: A Novel of Pompeii
Author: Vicky Alvear Shecter 
Publication Date: May 27, 2014 
Publisher: Arthur A. Levine Books 
Formats: Hardcover, eBook
Genre: YA Historical
Pages: 336
Synopsis: When your world blows apart, what will you hold onto?

     TAG is a medical slave, doomed to spend his life healing his master's injured gladiators. But his warrior's heart yearns to fight in the gladiator ring himself and earn enough money to win his freedom.

     LUCIA is the daughter of Tag's owner, doomed by her father's greed to marry a much older Roman man. But she loves studying the natural world around her home in Pompeii, and lately she's been noticing some odd occurrences in the landscape: small lakes disappearing; a sulfurous smell in the air...

     When the two childhood friends reconnect, each with their own longings, they fall passionately in love. But as they plot their escape from the city, a patrician fighter reveals his own plans for them -- to Lucia's father, who imprisons Tag as punishment. Then an earthquake shakes Pompeii, in the first sign of the chaos to come. Will they be able to find each other again before the volcano destroys their whole world?


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About the Author

Vicky Alvear Shecter

Vicky Alvear Shecter is the author of the young adult novel, CLEOPATRA'S MOON (Arthur A. Levine Books/Scholastic, 2011), based on the life of Cleopatra's only daughter. She is also the author of two award-winning biographies for kids on Alexander the Great and Cleopatra. She is a docent at the Michael C. Carlos Museum of Antiquities at Emory University in Atlanta.


Author Links

Blog 


Book Blast Schedule

Monday, May 12

Bibliophilia, Please
bookworm2bookworm's Blog

 Tuesday, May 13

Broken Teepee
Passages to the Past
In the Hammock Blog

Wednesday, May 14


CelticLady's Reviews
The Most Happy Reader
I'd So Rather Be Reading
History From a Woman's Perspective

Thursday, May 15


Kinx's Book Nook
A Bibliotaph's Reviews
Historical Fiction Obsession

Friday, May 16


Booktalk & More
The Mad Reviewer
Book Lovers Paradise

Saturday, May 17


SOS Aloha
Reading the Ages
Kelsey's Book Corner

Sunday, May 18


Giant Squid Books
WTF Are You Reading? 

Monday, May 19


Caroline Wilson Writes
So Many Books, So Little Time 

Tuesday, May 20


West Metro Mommy
The True Book Addict
The Musings of ALMYBNENR

Wednesday, May 21


Book Nerd
Tower of Babel
Hardcover Feedback

Thursday, May 22


Paperback Princess
Bittersweet Enchantment

Friday, May 23


History Undressed
Historical Fiction Connection

Saturday, May 24


Literary Chanteuse
Just One More Chapter 

Sunday, May 25


A Dream within a Dream
The Little Reader Library

Monday, May 26


Pages of Comfort
Griperang's Bookmarks

Raizza's Book Blogging Adventure

Tuesday, May 27


Princess of Eboli
Ageless Pages Reviews
The Musings of a Book Junkie

Giveaway

To win a copy of Curses & Smoke or a $25 Amazon Gift Card please complete the Rafflecopter giveaway form below. Giveaway is open to US residents only. Giveaway ends at 11:59pm on May 27th. You must be 18 or older to enter. Winner will be chosen via Rafflecopter on May 28th and notified via email. Winner have 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen. 



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Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Virtual Book Tour: Sinners and the Sea: The Untold Story of Noah's Wife by Rebecca Kanner: A Book Review

Sinners and the Sea: The Untold Story of Noah's Wife
Author: Rebecca Kanner
Genre: Historical Fiction, Biblical Fiction
Publication Date: April 2, 2013
Publisher: Howard Books
Pages: 360
Source: This book was given to me as part of the Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tour
Formats: Hardcover, Paperback, eBook, Audio CD
Synopsis:The young heroine in Sinners and the Sea is destined for greatness. Known  only as "wife" in the Bible and cursed with a birthmark that many think is the brand of a demon, this unnamed woman lives anew through Rebecca Kanner. The author gives this virtuous woman the perfect voice to make one of the
Old Testament's stories come alive like never before.

     Desperate to keep her safe, the woman's father gives her to the righteous Noah, who weds her and takes her to the town of Sorum, a haven for outcasts. Alone in her new life, Noah's wife gives him three sons. But living in this wicked and perverse town with an aloof husband who speaks more to God than to her takes its toll. She tries to make friends with the violent and dissolute people of Sorum while raising a brood that, despite its pious upbringing, develops some sinful tendencies of its own. While Noah carries out the Lord's commands, she tries to hide her mark and her shame as she weathers the scorn and taunts of the townspeople.

     But these trials are nothing compared to what awaits her after God tells her husband that a flood is coming--and that Noah and his family must build an ark so that they alone can repopulate the world. As the floodwaters draw near, she grows in courage and honor, and when the water finally recedes, she emerges whole, displaying once and for all the indomitable strength of women. Drawing on the biblical narrative and Jewish mythology, Sinners and the Sea is a beautifully written account of the antediluvian world told in cinematic detail.

     My Review: Everyone knows the biblical story of Noah and his ark. What we don’t know much about is his unnamed wife, who is so overshadowed by her husband that we often tend to forget about her. However, in Sinners and the Sea, Noah’s wife is given a voice and tells the familiar tale from her perspective. Her story is told in a haunting and lyrical tone that makes for a dark and tragic tale. Noah’s wife proves that she is just as important as Noah in helping build a new world.

     The main protagonist is unnamed. She is born with a birthmark on her forehead, which people view as a symbol of great evil. People are afraid of her and shuns her and her father. One day, a trader carrying potions approaches her father and strikes a deal that will get rid of the birthmark for half of her father’s harvest. However, her father catches the trader trying to harm his daughter, and he kills him. The trader’s death results in a mob of townspeople that threatens to burn his daughter alive. In order to save his daughter, he marries her to Noah, a six-hundred year old prophet. Noah decides to take her for a wife because he believes that his father is righteous for murdering a false man that is involved with sorcery and deception. Noah takes her back to Sorum, a town filled with corruption, sin, and filth, and together they have three sons.

     The relationship between the unnamed protagonist and her father is beautiful. Her father does not shun her because she has a mark. Rather, she is the center of his world. He does everything he can to make sure that she is safe. He is even willing to make the sacrifice to send her into exile and to never see her again.

      Noah, her husband, is the second person that is not afraid of her mark. He takes care of her and treats her as a human being. He respects her as his wife. I really liked Noah. At first, he seemed proud. He dutifully follows the God of Adam, and obeys all of his commands, and most times he ignores his wife and sons so he can hear His voice. But over time, it becomes clear that he does love and care for his family. The relationship between his wife is a loving one filled with respect.

     I found that I did not like her sons. They were very flawed. They were cruel to each other. They each competed to prove which one was the better. I did like the main protagonist’s daughters-in-law. Had it not been for the fact, they would have died in the flood had they not been married to her sons, I would have thought they were too good for them. They were smart, strong, and wise, even Herai, who has autism.

     The main protagonist is a strong heroine. The birthmark is a test that she must prove that she is strong and worthy to be the matriarch to the new world. Noah’s wife is the rock that keeps the family together. Without her, Noah’s task would not have succeeded.

     I found that the setting is beautiful. The author describes the old world before the flood. The old world is a world full of cruelty and corruption. I really liked the second part of the book, where they are on the ark. It is a world filled with darkness, sadness, and tragedy. Noah has to make many tough decisions and to watch all of human civilization die in order to obey God’s word. The setting of the new world is described as happiness. It is a paradise because it is a world of redemption.

     Overall, the book is about betrayal, family, friendship, sacrifice, acceptance, and salvation. It is a book about finding one’s identity. It is that no matter what your imperfections are, you should be proud of the way you are. Your imperfection may even be your saving grace. I recommend this book to anyone who is interested in biblical fiction and strong heroines. I also recommend this to fans of India Edghill, Jill Eileen Smith, Ginger Garrett, and Jannette Oke.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars


Watch the Book Trailer:



Praise for Sinners and the Sea:

"Kanner animates a harsh, almost dystopic world of fallen people struggling to survive. Noah's unnamed wife is a powerful, memorable character." - Publisher's Weekly

"[Noah's wife] proves her strength and character as she tries to protect her family... from the outside forces that threaten. Kanner successfully undertakes a formidable task retelling a familiar religious story through the eyes of Noah's wife. The narrative's well-articulated, evenly balanced and stimulating--but it's definitely not the familiar tale that's so frequently illustrated in children's books" - Kirkus Reviews

"SINNERS AND THE SEA is a rare find-a bold and vivid journey to the antediluvian world of Noah. Kanner's is a fresh, irresistible story about the unnamed woman behind the famous ark-builder. Compelling and masterfully written." - Tosca Lee, NY Times bestelling author of HAVAH: THE STORY OF EVE.

"What a remarkable debut! Rebecca Kanner's SINNERS AND THE SEA is a haunting, beautifully written story of struggle and redemption told through the eyes of the Biblical prophet Noah's wife. Kanner pulls no punches: She gives us humanity in all its wickedness -- bloodthirsty, greedy, cruel -- and the horror and heartbreak the inhabitants of Noah's ark might have felt as, unable to help, they listened to the screams of the dying and witnessed the utter obliteration of life on Earth. By the end of this book, I was in tears, for Kanner does lead us out of the valley of the shadow of death into a new world of promise and hope. SINNERS AND THE SEA is a profoundly moving tale, thrilling and fast-paced, and one of the best books I have read in a very long time."- Sherry Jones, author, THE JEWEL OF MEDINA and FOUR SISTERS, ALL QUEENS

"Rebecca Kanner brings the antediluvian world of giants, prophets, and demons alive, setting her narrative in motion from the first chapter and never letting it rest. She is a writer of great dexterity, performing tricks at a full sprint." - Marshall Klimasewiski, author of THE COTTAGERS and TYRANTS

"Kanner does a masterful job of penetrating the depths of the Biblical Flood narrative and weaving in the complicated reality of challenging relationships and longings for personal fulfillment. Her desire to go beyond the traditional understanding of the lives she explores introduces us to a courageous and insightful young writer whose first book will take its place alongside other exciting modern re-readings of the ancient Biblical text." - Rabbi Allen of Beth Jacob congregation in Mendota Heights, Minnesota. Honored by Forward newspaper as one of America's "50 most significant Jewish leaders"

"We think we know Noah's story but he was not alone on the ark; what was the experience of his wife, his family? Rebecca Kanner's vividly imagined telling recreates the world of the bible, and asks powerful questions about the story and about ourselves." - Rabbi David Wolpe, Sinai Temple in Los
Angeles, named the most influential Rabbi in America by Newsweek Magazine (2012). Author of WHY FAITH MATTERS

"We sympathize with this unnamed woman because--as remote as her world seems to be from ours--she longs for all that we want for ourselves: to be known, loved, and accepted by her family, her community, and ultimately her God... After reading Sinners and the Sea, you'll never look at the Biblical story of Noah and the flood in the same way again, and isn't that Biblical fiction's greatest purpose? To see the old stories with fresh eyes and perhaps find new meaning..." - Stephanie Landsem, author of THE WELL

"Rebecca Kanner has created an autobiography of Noah's wife, and an imaginative one it is." -American Jewish World

"[Kanner] gives an intelligent voice to Noah's wife." - Jewish Book Council

"First-time novelist Kanner has written an utterly absorbing novel, one that flows seamlessly." - Historical Novel Society

"A fascinating look into a feral civilization of turmoil and hardship." - Historical Novel Review

"A stirring, fascinating story written beautifully." - Historical Fiction Connection

"Kanner beautifully evokes life on the claustrophobic, smelly vessel. Riveting... It will certainly spark hours of book club discussions." - St. Paul Pioneer Press

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About the Author:



     Sinners and the Sea is Rebecca Kanner's debut novel. Rebecca is a Twin Cities native and holds a Master of Fine Arts in Fiction Writing from Washington University in St. Louis. Her writing has won an Associated Writing Programs Award, a Loft mentorship Award and a 2012/2013 Minnesota State Arts Board Grant. Her personal essay, "Safety," is listed as a Notable Essay in Best American Essays 2011. Her stories have been published in numerous journals including The Kenyon Review and The Cincinnati Review.

     Along with other authors including Anita Diamant, Michael Cunningham, Joyce Carol Oates, Russell Banks and Ron Hansen, Rebecca will be featured in the upcoming title Truthful Fictions: Conversations with American Biographical Novelists.

You can learn more about Rebecca, and find links to selected stories and
essays, at her 
Website
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