Thursday, October 27, 2016

Guest Post: Andrew Joyce: Fighting Woman

     Today's guest writer is Andrew Joyce. He is the author of Molly Lee, Redemption, and Resolution. He has just released his latest, novel Yellow Hair, a historical fiction novel that documents the injustices done to the Sioux Nation. In this guest post, he gives us some information about the legend of Fighting Woman. I hope this guest post gives you some insight into his novel and writing. Thank you, Mr. Joyce!





Fighting Woman


     My name is Andrew Joyce and I write books for a living—mostly historical novels. While doing research for my books, I come across a lot of interesting tidbits. I thought I’d share a few of them with you today. And just to get the commercial out of the way, please check out my latest book, Yellow Hair.

     Now we can get down to business.

     Beginning on January 2, 2016, women were finally allowed to serve in all combat positions in the United States military. It was a long, hard battle, and it took a couple of lawsuits, but in the end, the Pentagon did the right thing. However, American women were fighting alongside men long before the Pentagon existed.

     During the Revolutionary War, more than a few women signed up to fight for their new country. But they had to do it disguised as men. One such woman was Deborah Sampson. In January of 1782, she donned men’s clothing. bound her breasts with a cloth, and using a man’s name, enlisted in the American Army. Her deception was soon discovered and she was discharged. But she was back a few months later and enlisted, using another name, in a different unit of light infantry. She fought bravely until the end of the war, but she was found out just before her discharge and the army withheld her pay. However, in 1792, with the help of Paul Revere, the Massachusetts State Legislature relented and paid her what was owed plus interest going back nine years.

     There were other women who helped the cause, but did not actually join the army. There was Catherine Berry, who scouted for the Americans, and sixteen-year-old Sybil Ludington, who was known as the “female Paul Revere.” She rode forty miles, skirting the enemy, to warn the Dutchess County Militia that the British were sacking and burning the town of Danbury.

     During the Civil War, Sarah Seelye enlisted as a man in the 2nd Michigan Infantry. Jennie Hodgers fought as a man in forty engagements. Frances Clayton, also disguised as a man, was wounded at the Battle of Shiloh while fighting with the 4th Missouri Artillery. These three women fought for the North, but there were Southern women who fought for their cause in the same manner.

     Before there was a Pentagon and before there was a country called The United States of America, Native American women, on occasion, fought alongside their men. Here is the legend of Fighting Woman, a Sioux woman of great determination.

     Fighting Woman was the first female of her band to become a warrior. Until her fourteenth winter (year), she was known as Red Eagle Woman. However, in The Winter of the Falling Snow, she followed a Mdewakanton raiding party that had set out to steal horses from the Chippewa. She did not know exactly what she was going to do when they met the enemy. But she did know she wanted to participate in some way. She thought it unfair that men should have all the fun.

     Before they could reach the Chippewa camp, the raiding party was attacked. Red Eagle Woman, without thought, charged into the battle, wielding a tomahawk. She embedded it in the skull of the first Chippewa she met. Unwilling to let go of her weapon, she was pulled to the ground by the weight of the dead Chippewa as he fell from his pony. Her head hit a boulder, knocking her unconscious. After the Mdewakanton prevailed, they found her still holding onto the tomahawk embedded in the Chippewa’s head.

     The braves returned to the village with Red Eagle Woman still unconscious and brought her to her father’s lodge. Seeing his daughter, Big Eagle feared the worse, but when told she was alive and had a strong heartbeat, his anguish turned to anger. The brave carrying Red Eagle Woman placed her on her skins, and Big Eagle sat down and waited for his daughter to regain consciousness.

     A little while later, Red Eagle Woman was sitting up, rubbing her head, wondering what had happened while her father waited patiently; he wanted her fully awake before he scolded her. But before he could do so, a brave who had been on the raid called out, “Dećiya wauŋ Mi՜ye?”

     “Of course you may enter my lodge. You are always welcome,” replied Big Eagle.

     The brave asked Big Eagle if he would allow Red Eagle Woman to attend the Kill Dance and tell of her coups. (Feathers were given to braves who had shown courage in battle. They were called coup feathers and presented during the celebratory dance known as the Kill Dance.)

      Big Eagle’s first thought was to throw him out of his tipi, but when he saw the sparkle in his daughter’s eyes, he relented. “She may do as she wishes; I am only her father,” he said with a smile.
At the Kill Dance, when the time came for her to receive her feathers, two braves stepped forward, and each, in turn, told how they had found her with the dead Chippewa. Little Crow, the chief, asked Red Eagle Woman to stand and approach. He handed her two feathers, one for striking the enemy and one for killing him. He then asked her to recount her coups.

     She stood in silence for a moment, looking dazed. She looked to her father for help. He shrugged as if to say, This is your doing, not mine.

     At length, she said, “I am sorry, I remember nothing. The last thing I remember is kicking my pony; I wanted to get into the fight before it was over.”

     All those assembled burst into laughter, even her father.

     In the Indian culture, male children usually did not keep the name given them at birth. After a young brave had distinguished himself in battle, he would receive a new name.

     Big Eagle walked over to Little Crow and after a few moments of discussion, Little Crow sat down while Big Eagle remained standing. He held up his hands for silence. When all eyes were on him, he said, “Little Crow and I have decided that my daughter has earned a new name for herself. She may have her choice of two. Choose your name, daughter. Is it to be Forgets Woman or Fighting Woman?”

     That was his and Little Crow’s way of chastising her for going on the raid in the first place. They knew what name she would choose, and from that day forward, she was known as Fighting Woman.

     It looks as though my time is up, so we’ll have to end it there. I would like to thank Lauralee for allowing me a little space on her blog to promote my new book, Yellow Hair.


Yellow Hair


Genre: Historical Fiction
Publisher: William & Assoc.
Release Date: September 28, 2016
Pages: 498
Synopsis: Yellow Hair documents the injustices done to the Sioux Nation from their first treaty with the United States in 1805 through Wounded Knee in 1890. Every death, murder, battle, and outrage written about actually took place. The historical figures that play a role in this fact-based tale of fiction were real people and the author uses their real names. Yellow Hair is an epic tale of adventure, family, love, and hate that spans most of the 19th century.

     This is American history.

     Buy from Amazon and Smashwords.


About the Author:


     Andrew Joyce is the author of Redemption: The Further Adventures of Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer, for which he won a 2013 Editor's Choice Award for best Western novel, Molly Lee, and Resolution: Huck Finn's Greatest Adventure. He lives in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, where he lives with his dog, Danny. He is currently working on his next novel, Yellow Hair. For more information, visit his website.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Queen of the Heavens by Kingsley Guy: A Book Review

Queen of the Heavens
Author: Kingsley Guy
Genre: Historical Fiction
Publisher: Middle River Press
Release Date: 2012
Pages: 284
Source: Personal Collection
Synopsis: What is it like to awaken to the divine, and know that our lives are informed and shaped by spiritual guidance from other realms? Queen of the Heavens helps us open the gateway to those unseen worlds.

     Respected journalist Kingsley Guy takes us back to ancient Egypt, where gods and goddesses were not merely images carved in stone. They were as real as the sunset and the wind blowing through papyrus reeds. Known as the neters, they passed back and forth between the dimensions, working magic in people's lives.
   
     Come meet Tuya. Through her gifts as a healer, this extraordinary woman gained the attention of the royal court and rose from commoner to queen. Tuya inspired and transformed the lives of those she touched during the Golden Age of the Pharaohs. Allow her to do the same for you. 

     My Review: Tuya was queen to Seti I and the mother of Ramesses II. Yet, she was once a commoner. How did a commoner become the Queen of Egypt? The historical novel, Queen of the Heavens attempts to answers these questions. At an early age, Tuya was marked by the Egyptian gods. Called by Isis herself, she will help restore light to Egypt. A devoted woman to the gods, Tuya is determined to do their will. Little does she know that she is called to be the Queen of Egypt and will give birth to one of Egypt’s greatest pharaohs.

     At first, Tuya is a precocious and happy child. Yet, when she is called by Isis, she makes a tough decision to do Isis’s will, even when her family objects. Her family does not understand Tuya’s actions and are befuddled by them. This is because Tuya has the gift of healing and she heals both nobles and commoners alike, which is very improper for a young girl of marriageable age. Yet, Tuya’s healing has captured the attention of Ramesses, who will eventually be Ramesses I. He believes that because of Tuya’s healing powers that she has the ear of Isis. This makes Tuya a very promising bride and marries her to his son, Seti.

     I really admire Tuya. She is a strong and bright woman. I liked how she followed Isis’s will to heal both commoners and nobles. Yet, sometimes Tuya suffered some obstacles. It is because of these difficulties that she questions her faith and her abilities. Eventually, she learns that faith involves both the good and the bad times. Because of this, it is what makes her a stronger and wiser person.

     Overall, this book is about faith, family, and choices. It is about a woman who is determined to follow her beliefs and do what is right. The message of this book is that even though there are difficult times in your life, you will overcome them. The obstacles in your life are what makes you a stronger person. I really thought this book was very well-researched, and I thought all the characters were very complex. The only thing I did not like about this book was the long separation between Seti and Tuya. I thought the reason for their separation was absurd and could easily be remedied. Still, I love how Queen Tuya is portrayed in the book because she is a very caring, tough, and wise character. I recommend this book to fans of Michelle Moran, Stephanie Dray, and Libbie Hawker. Queen of the Heavens is an excellent tribute to this obscure woman.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars





The Last Heiress: A Novel of Tutankhamun's Queen by Stephanie Liaci: A Book Review

The Last Heiress: A Novel of Tutankhamun's Queen
Author: Stephanie Liaci
Genre: Historical Fiction
Publisher: AuthorHouse
Release Date: 2010
Pages: 587
Source: Personal Collection
Synopsis: Beside the Golden Pharaoh Tutankhamun was a woman whose words were buried with her in the sands of the Valley of the Kings. She was the wife of two pharaohs, and a born princess. She was the last surviving daughter of the famed beauty Nefertiti. She bore children to sit on the throne of Egypt. Together with her husband, she brought prosperity back to her wounded nation. But after the shocking death of Pharaoh Tutankhamun, she became the unwilling bride of her husband's most trusted servant, made a desperate offer to an enemy king, and then... She vanished. This is her untold story. This is the story of the last heiress of the glorious eighteenth dynasty, Ankhesenamun.

     My Review: Everyone knows about Egypt’s famous pharoah, King Tutankhamun. However, few know about King Tut’s queen, Ankhesenamun. This novel, chronicles the life of Queen Ankhesenamun and also the reign of four pharaohs. She was the daughter of Pharaoh Akhenaten and Nefertiti. Despite being a princess, Ankhesenamun was lonely. Because of her royal blood, men would use her as a pawn for becoming pharaoh. However, one pharaoh only loves her as she is, and that is King Tutankhamun. Together, Queen Ankhesenamun and King Tutankhamun are determined to rule together and make Egypt great. The only problem is that time is not on their side. Ankhesenamun has premonitions that King Tutankhamun may face an early death. Ankhesenamun is determined to fight the will of the Gods and to determine her own fate.

     Before I read this book I did not know anything about Queen Ankhesenamun, except that she married King Tut. Yet after reading this book, I was inspired to learn more about her life. While there are still more details to learn about her, the fact is that Queen Ankhesenamun had a tragic life. Reading The Last Heiress retells the life of Queen Ankhesenamun from her point of view. In this story, we see a girl who was a political pawn. When she was a child she was forced to marry her father and give him a stillborn daughter at an early age. It is because of this traumatic event that it was hard for her to find love. Yet, the slow romance between her and Tutankhamun eventually softened her scars.

     Overall, this story is about love, friendship, healing, and recovery. I really felt sorry for Ankhesenamun. She was a woman who was determined to find happiness. Yet, she was a smart queen. She was also very strong. She was willing to be tough in order to get her way. The only thing that I did not like about the book was I did not understand her reasoning for why she sent a letter to the Hittite King asking him to send one of his sons to marry her. I thought the reasoning was foolish and it did not make sense. I also did not like the way it ended. It was very surprising and unbelievable. Still, despite these flaws, I really did love the book. This book was meticulously researched, and I felt that she brought the Amarna period to life. I also thought this book felt like a sequel to Nefertiti by Michelle Moran. I liked Ankhesenamun’s friendship with Mutnodjmet. The Last Heiress is full of political and courtly intrigue, mystery, drama, and romance. I did not want this book to end. This book is an excellent tribute to King Tut’s queen, and will leave you wanting to learn more about Queen Ankhesenamun's tragic life.

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Child of the Morning by Pauline Gedge: A Book Review

Child of the Morning
Author: Pauline Gedge
Genre: Historical Fiction
Publisher: Chicago Review Press
Release Date: 2010
Pages: 416
Source: Personal Collection
Synopsis: Thirty-five centuries ago the sun had a daughter: Hatshepsut. Youngest daughter of the Pharaoh, she was a lithe and magical child. But when her older sister died, it became her duty to purify the dynasty’s bloodline. She was to wed Thothmes, her father’s illegitimate son, who was heir to the throne. But fearing his son’s incompetence, Hatshepsut’s father came to her with startling news. She was to be Pharaoh, ruler of the greatest empire the world had ever known--provided, of course, that the unprecedented ascension by a woman did not inspire the priests to treason or instill in her half-brother and future consort sufficient hatred to have her put to death.

     This is the premise for Child of the Morning, based closely on the historical facts. Hatshepsut assumed the throne at the age of fifteen and ruled brilliantly for more than two decades. Her achievements were immortalized on the walls of her magnificent temple at Deir el-Bahri, built by her architect and lover, Senmut.


     Sensuous and evocative, Child of the Morning is the story of one of history’s most remarkable women.


     My Review: Child of the Morning chronicles the life of one of Egypt’s Female Pharaohs, Hatshepsut. Hatshepsut is the youngest daughter of Thutmose I. However, she is also his favorite. She is smart, ambitious, and strong. When her older sister dies, Hatshepsut is now prepared to be Chief Royal Wife for Thutmose II. However, it is clear that Thutmose II is not suited for the role of Pharaoh because he has no interest in politics Instead, it seems that Hatshepsut would be a better pharaoh than him. Thutmose I proposes to make Hatshepsut his heir instead. Yet, when Thutmose I dies, Hatshepsut realizes that all of her father’s dreams of making her king have been in vain because Egypt cries for a male king to rule. Hatshepsut reluctantly gives up her crown and becomes Chief Royal Wife for Thutmose II. When Thutmose II died, Queen Hatshepsut steps in and crowns herself Pharaoh. However, her stepson Thutmose III is determined to destroy Hatshepsut and take the throne that is rightfully his.

     I really love Hatshepsut. She is a strong female pharaoh. She is ambitious and dreams that she can help make Egypt great. However, despite what she has done for Egypt, people still want a male to rule Egypt. Hatshepsut can be arrogant, stubborn, and defiant. Yet, there were moments where she did not have any confidence in herself. There were very weak moments in her life and difficult problems that she did not want to face. Yet through the encouragement of her friends and followers, she eventually picked herself up and faced her obstacles head-on. Thus, Hatshepsut is a relatable character. She is a woman who struggles with tough problems in her life, but with her friends, she is willing to fight any battle that comes her way.

       Overall, this book is about love, friendship, duty, and responsibility. It is about a woman’s love for Egypt. In a world dominated by men, Hatshepsut acted every bit like a king. She believed that she was the chosen Pharaoh. Her actions astounded many men, and even her enemies admired her. I also found this book to be meticulously-researched, and Mrs. Gedge made Ancient Egypt come alive. While some information in this novel is outdated, I still think that this is a gem in historical fiction. I loved Child of the Morning so much that I have read it twice! Child of the Morning is full of political and courtly intrigue, romance, and drama. I recommend to fans of Michelle Moran, Stephanie Thornton, and Libbie Hawker. Child of the Morning is an excellent tribute to one of Egypt's most successful pharaohs.



Rating: 5 out of 5 stars


Friday, October 21, 2016

Guest Post: Cuyler Overholt: The Inspiration of Writing a Female Detective

     Today's guest writer is Cuyler Overholt. She is the author of A Deadly Affection, the first in a historical mystery series featuring female amateur sleuth, Dr. Genevieve Summerford.  I have always been interested in novels that star women detectives. There are not many novels that have these type of women detectives. In this guest, Mrs. Overholt discusses what drew her to write having a female detective as a protagonist. I hope this guest post gives you some insight into the novel. Thank you, Mrs. Overholt.


The Inspiration of Writing A Female Detective



     When I first started thinking about writing a mystery set in 1907 New York City, I didn’t intend to have a female psychiatrist as my amateur sleuth. In fact, if you’d asked me what the odds were of running into a female doctor back then, I would have guessed slim to none. I’d always assumed that women first entered the professions in any significant numbers as a result of the feminist movement of the 1960’s and 1970’s. But as I was fascinated to discover when I started researching the era, I was wrong.

     To be sure, up through the 1880s women were almost completely excluded from mainstream medical schools. A handful had managed to gain admittance by then, usually with the help of a male mentor, and a few more had attended all-woman medical colleges. But these women, despite their fierce desire and determination, had no access to the postgraduate training programs that were so critical to professional competence, and were not welcomed by professional societies or hospital and clinic staffs. As Elizabeth Blackwell, the first American woman to obtain a medical degree, wrote to her sister Elizabeth around this time: “a blank wall of social and professional antagonism faces the woman physician that forms a situation of painful loneliness, leaving her without support, respect or professional counsel.”

     A number of reasons were generally put forward as to why women should not be allowed to practice medicine. It was believed, for one thing, that the sight of unveiled bodies and the blood and gore of the operating room was naturally repugnant to the modesty and delicacy of women. Females were also claimed to be intellectually inferior to men, and too prone to impulsivity and hysteria to exercise good judgement. Dr. Edward Clarke, a respected Harvard professor, declared in a widely disseminated treatise that “higher education for women produces monstrous brains, puny bodies, abnormally weak digestion and constipated bowels”, and should therefore be avoided at all costs. This thinking kept women out of mainstream medical schools right up to the last decade of the nineteenth century. But by 1893, change was in the air.

     That was the year the country went into a major depression, which made it impossible for Johns Hopkins University to find the funding it needed to finish its state-of-the-art new medical school. Sensing opportunity, four female donors stepped forward and offered to give the university $500,000 toward the school’s completion, if—and only if—it would accept women students. With no other alternative in sight, Johns Hopkins agreed. Other schools felt compelled to follow suit, and within five years women were filling more than 35% of the seats at some of the country’s most prestigious schools. They were also winning a large share of the academic honors. By 1900, over 7000 women had earned their medical degrees, and almost all of them went on to work in the field.

     Unfortunately, this influx caused more competition for patients and fees, and pretty soon the American Medical Association was grumbling that the profession was overcrowded to the point of starvation. Instead of solving the problem by making entry requirements more rigorous for everyone, and letting the cream rise to the top, the schools simply, and quietly, cut or reduced their admissions of women once more. By 1903, just ten years after Johns Hopkins opened its doors to women, overall female enrollment had dropped to 3%. It would stay in the single digits for the next seventy years, except for a slight uptick around World War II, until Title IX and other anti-gender bias legislation opened the doors again in the 1970s.

     Those pioneering women doctors from the turn of the twentieth century became the inspiration for my mystery’s protagonist, Dr. Genevieve Summerford, who has graduated third in her class from Johns Hopkins Medical School and has chosen to work in the brand new field of medical psychology. It was clear to me that a woman doctor at that time would have to be intelligent, resilient, open to new ideas, and more than a little stubborn—all excellent qualities for an amateur sleuth. 

     Occasionally, a reader will ask me, “was it really possible for a woman to pursue a career as a doctor back then?’ When that happens, I love to tell them that yes, over a hundred years ago a determined cadre of women doctors really did manage to claim their day in the sun.

A Deadly Affection:

Genre: Historical Fiction
Publisher: Sourcebooks
Release Date: September 6, 2016
Pages: 445
Synopsis: In 1907 New York, a psychiatrist must prove her patient's innocence...or risk being implicated in a shocking murder

     As one of the first women practicing in an advanced new field of psychology, Dr. Genevieve Summerford is used to forging her own path. But when one of her patients is arrested for murder-a murder Genevieve fears she may have unwittingly provoked-she is forced to seek help from an old acquaintance.

     Desperate to clear her patient's name and relieve her own guilty conscience, Genevieve finds herself breaking all the rules she's tried so hard to live by. In her search for answers, Genevieve uncovers an astonishing secret that, should she reveal it, could spell disaster for those she cares about most. But if she lets her discovery remain hidden, she will almost certainly condemn her patient to the electric chair.


About the Author:


      After graduating from the University of Virginia School of Law, Cuyler Overholt practiced as a litigation associate for four years before leaving the law to start up a freelance writing business. Over the next decade she transformed technical jargon into entertaining prose for a New York-based public relations firm. She finally found her true calling when she started scribbling a novel during her young sons’ naptimes. A Deadly Affection, her award-winning debut, was reissued by Sourcebooks in September 2016 as the first installment in the Dr. Genevieve Summerford historical mystery series.

      Cuyler shares a keen interest in human motivation and behavior with her husband, a psychologist, who is still working on perfecting her. When she isn’t reading or writing she can usually be found on a bike, in the cobra pose, designing her next dream house or enjoying a good movie. For more information, visit her website.


Thursday, October 20, 2016

Dido's Crown by Julie K. Rose: A Book Review

Dido's Crown
Author: Julie K. Rose
Publication Date: September 26, 2016
Pages: 340
Source: This book was given to me by Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours in exchange for an honest review.
Synopsis: Set in Tunisia and France in 1935, Dido's Crown is a taut literary-historical adventure influenced by Indiana Jones, The Thin Man, and John le Carré.

     Mary Wilson MacPherson has always been adept at putting the past behind her: her father's death, her sister's disappearance, and her complicated relationship with childhood friends Tom and Will. But that all changes when, traveling to North Africa on business for her husband, Mary meets a handsome French-Tunisian trader who holds a mysterious package her husband has purchased — a package which has drawn the interest not only of Britain's Secret Intelligence Service, but the Nazis as well. 

     When Tom and Will arrive in Tunisia, Mary suddenly finds herself on a race across the mesmerizing and ever-changing landscapes of the country, to the shores of southern France, and all across the wide blue Mediterranean. Despite her best efforts at distancing herself from her husband's world, Mary has become embroiled in a mystery that could threaten not only Tunisian and British security in the dangerous political landscape of 1935, but Mary's beliefs about her past and the security of her own future.

     My Review: Mary MacPherson arrives at a party in Tunisia to retrieve a package for her husband. At the party, she is reunited with her two best friends, Will and Tom, who also want to know the package’s contents. Soon Mary, Tom, and Will find themselves amidst a dangerous conspiracy that could threaten both Britain and Tunisia. Mary and her three friends are determined to unravel the mystery of the package.
      
     I really did not like Mary as the protagonist. I felt the author tried too hard to make her a strong character. Instead, I found her to be a very annoying character. She came across to me as a smart-alec. I did not find that to be very endearing. I honestly did not see why she was very likeable to the other characters. If she was not being smart, then she would whine and complain a lot. Despite her flaws, she is very intelligent and inquisitive. She is determined to get answers. I did like Will and Tom. I found them to be very engaging, likeable, and complex characters. I liked them better than Mary.

     Overall, this book is full of political intrigue, action, adventure, mystery, and a dash of romance. I liked all the characters except for Mary, for they seem to be very complex. I also thought that this book was a very fast-paced and quick read. There were some slow moments in the book. I also did not like how it switched back and forth between 1935 and 1916, for I thought the time jumps to be confusing and distracting to the main plot. Nevertheless, the mystery and the adventure element kept me on the edge of my seat until the very end because I could not wait to find out what happens. I recommend this story for fans of Alone in Berlin, The Unlikely Spy, and A Chance to Kill.

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Blog Tour: The Secret Diary of Lydia Bennet by Natasha Farrant: A Book Review


THE SECRET DIARY OF LYDIA BENNET
Author: Natasha Farrant
Pub. Date: October 25, 2016
Publisher: The Chicken House
Pages: 336
Formats: Hardcover, eBook
Find it: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iBooks, Goodreads
Source: This book was given to me by Rockstar Book Tours in exchange for an honest review.
Synopsis: A fresh, funny, and spirited reimagining of Jane Austen's beloved Pride and Prejudice, The Secret Diary of Lydia Bennet brings the voice of the wildest Bennet sister to life.

     Lydia is the youngest of the five Bennet girls. She's stubborn, never listens, and can't seem to keep her mouth shut -- not that she would want to anyway. She wishes her older sisters would pay her attention, or that something would happen in her boring country life.

     Luckily, that something is right around the corner, and it's the handsome Wickham, who arrives at Longbourn to sweep her off her feet. Lydia's not going to let him know THAT, of course, especially since he only seems to be interested in friendship. But when they both decide to summer in the fasionable seaside town of Brighton, their paths inevitably become entangled again.

     At the seaside, Lydia also finds exciting new ways of life and a pair of friends who offer her a future she would have never dreamed possible. Lydia finally understands what she really wants. But can she get it?
   
     My Review: Lydia is one of the most annoying and hated characters in Pride and Prejudice. When she marries George Wickham, we are happy that she is sent to live a life of unhappiness. Yet, in The Secret Diary of Lydia Bennet, we are given a look from Lydia’s perspective during her romance with George Wickham. Thus, we the reader not only get to hear her side of the story, but we get a glimpse of Lydia’s character.

      Lydia is still childish and silly. However, she is still a teenager. She makes mistakes. She is very naive and idealistic. She is bored with her life in the country and wants to go to the city and experience the world. She dreams of marrying a handsome rich man. Yet, she falls for Mr. Wickham because he seems to understand her. Thus, Lydia is often misunderstood. She is a woman who does not want to live strictly within a society. She wants society to conform to her ideals. Because of this, Lydia is represented as a victim. However, because Lydia is very romantic and stubborn, she is determined to get her way.

      Overall, this book is about choices, responsibility, and love. I found the characters to be believable. I also thought that this book fits well with not only, Pride and Prejudice, but also as a Jane Austen novel. I did find the writing to be a little too modern, but I thought that it suited Lydia’s voice. After reading this book, I found that I like Lydia a bit better than I originally did. The Secret Diary of Lydia Bennet is a light and fast-paced read. This novel is also perfect while eating dessert or sipping coffee. I recommend this story not only to fans of Pride and Prejudice and Jane Austen, but those who want to see Lydia Bennet in a different light.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars


About Martina: 



     I am one of those rarities, a Londoner born and bred.  And like most true Londoners, I’m not completely English, but three-quarters French with a little bit Dutch thrown in.  I can’t imagine living anywhere else, though I would like a horse, a big old house with a secret passage or two, a fig tree, a walnut tree, lots of dogs and a vista of rolling hills on one side and the sea on the other.  All of which are sadly incompatible with both life in the city and my income.

     I write partly because in my stories I can live the lives I’m not…

     I have two teenage daughters, Justine and Lily, who provide endless inspiration for my books.  I am pleased to say inspiration works both ways. One of them has dyed her hair pink, and the other has taken to hanging out on the roof in the middle of the night.

     The “person” I talk to most is my tortoiseshell cat, Amber.  This is because as a writer you spend a lot of time alone, which makes you go slightly mad.  Amber repays me for my conversation by trashing my house.  Soon we are going to buy a dachshund puppy called Blue, and presumably he will be equally destructive.

     I get very grumpy if I don’t have a good book to read, if I’m not writing, if I’m hungry, tired or don’t get enough exercise.  Otherwise I am a generally cheerful person.

     Click here for answers to Frequently Asked Questions about my life as a writer.



Giveaway Details:


3 winners will receive finished copies of THE SECRET DIARY OF LYDIA BENNET, US Only.




Blog Tour: Avelynn: The Edge of Faith by Marissa Campbell: A Book Review

02_The Edge of Faith

Avelynn: The Edge of Faith by Marissa Campbell

Publication Date: September 26, 2016 eBook; 302 Pages ASIN: B01KUC6N9Y Genre: Historical Romance/Medieval Series: Avelynn (Book Two)

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Source: This book was given to me by Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours in exchange for an honest review.
Synopsis: Avelynn: The Edge of Faith, a stand-alone Viking Romance from author Marissa Campbell.

     It’s the year 871. Charges of treason, murder, and witchcraft follow Avelynn into exile as she flees England with Alrik. Arriving in Wales, they find refuge among Alrik’s friends in the Welsh nobility. Cast out by his half-brothers, Alrik seeks to regain his honor and earn favor with the gods. When war threatens, Alrik embraces gold and the opportunity for his crew to become mercenaries, aiding the Southern Welsh kings in their fight against Rhodri the Great.


     Desperate to return home, Avelynn seeks to find a way to prove her innocence, but she is pitted against Alrik as their desires for the future clash. With battle looming, Avelynn’s faith in their relationship is further tested through a bitter struggle with Marared, a jealous lover from Alrik’s past. Marared’s threats turn deadly, and Avelynn runs afoul of magic and sorcery, causing her to question her beliefs and role as priestess.


     When Avelynn and Alrik are betrayed, Avelynn is captured and Alrik is charged with regicide. The two become separated, a chasm of greed, deceit, and ambition driving them apart. In an act of harrowing faith, Avelynn will stop at nothing to find her way back to Alrik and break them both free from Wales’s bloodthirsty grasp.


     AVELYNN: THE EDGE OF FAITH is a stand-alone novel and #2 in the Avelynn series.


     My Review: Avelynn: The Edge of Faith picks up where Avelynn left off. Avelynn has run away with Alrik with a price on her head. The two of them are exiles with nowhere to go. They arrive in Wales, where Alrik is determined to regain his honor by aiding a Welsh king against Rhodri the Great. Things seem to go well until someone plots to tear them apart. Can Avelynn and Alrik defeat their enemy and find ways to be together again?

      While Avelynn is still a feisty heroine, there were moments where I found her to be weak. She was not as strong as she was in the first novel. I did not really see her to be a fighter as she was in the first novel. She is determined to not be ruled by men, yet thereare  moments where she seemed to be submissive. She is still spunky and has some moments where she shows her inner strength. I really found it hard to believe that she really loved Alrik. She claims she loves him, but whenever his back is turned, she cheats on him. She is also very judgmental, and her judgement makes her blind. Because of her blindness, it leads to consequences. She does learn from her consequences and tries to make things right, however.

      Overall, this book is about love, friendship, and choices. I have to admit that I was disappointed with Avelynn in this sequel. I also thought that this book’s title did not fit with the book. There are hardly any elements of faith in this novel. Avelynn hardly dabbles into her faith nor does she even bother to think about it or question it. Indeed, she seems to be a weaker character. A more fitting title that better suited the plot and the character is Avelynn in Exile. However, I did like that Alrik is more developed in this sequel. Alrik seems to be very honorable. I did think that there were times that the plot seemed slow at times and often childish. Still, Avelynn: The Edge of Faith has enough romance, mystery, and action to keep the reader interested. However, this novel mostly felt like a filler that is saved mostly for the next book. While Avelynn: The Edge of Faith did not nearly captivate me as much as Avelynn, it is still a worthy sequel, and I’m looking forward to reading the next book in the series to see what is in store for Avelynn and Alrik.

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars


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About the Author



     Marissa Campbell is a published freelance author, and co-author of the award-winning, spiritual self-help book Life: Living in Fulfillment Every Day. Her debut historical fiction AVELYNN, was published through St. Martin’s Press, September 2015. Look for the second book in the AVELYNN series, releasing Fall 2016. She is a proud member of the Historical Novel Society, Romance Writers of America, Writer’s Community of Durham Region, and local critique group B7. When she is not writing, she is busy looking after her wonderful children, spending time with her fantastic husband, hanging out with her awesome friends, teaching yoga, dancing, laughing, and having fun!

     For more information visit http://marissacampbell.com. You can also follow Marissa Campbell on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, Google+, Tumblr, Pinterest, and Instagram.


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Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Blog Tour: Michelangelo's Ghost (A Jaya Jones Treasure Hunt Mystery #4) by Gigi Pandian: A Book Review

Michelangelo's Ghost (A Jaya Jones Treasure Hunt Mystery #4)
Author: Gigi Pandian
Genre: Mystery, Thriller
Publisher: Henery Press
Release Date: October 4, 2016
Source: This book was given to me by iRead Book tours in exchange for an honest review.
Book Description:

     A lost work of art linking India to the Italian Renaissance. A killer hiding behind a centuries-old ghost story. And a hidden treasure in Italy’s macabre sculpture garden known as the Park of Monsters… Can treasure-hunting historian Jaya Jones unmask a killer ghost? 

     Filled with the unexpected twists, vivid historical details, and cross-cultural connections Pandian is known for, Michelangelo’s Ghost is the most fast-paced and spellbinding Jaya Jones novel to date. 

     When Jaya’s old professor dies under eerie circumstances shortly after discovering manuscripts that point to a treasure in Italy’s Park of Monsters, Jaya and her brother pick up the trail. From San Francisco to the heart of Italy, Jaya is haunted by a ghost story inexorably linked to the masterpieces of a long-dead artist and the deeds of a modern-day murderer. Untrustworthy colleagues, disappearing boyfriends, and old enemies—who can Jaya trust when the ghost wails?

     My Review: Jaya Jones’s former professor has asked her for help. Her professor believes that Lazzaro Allegri, a missing protege of Michelangelo who went to India to work for royalty. When he came back to Italy, the Allegri had a studio and did many paintings. However, his paintings have been lost over the centuries in what is now the Park of Monsters. Her professor asks Jaya to find the missing treasure. Entranced by the idea of lost treasure, Jaya gets her brother and his new girlfriend to help. However, as soon as she gets to Italy, she realizes that she is not the only one who is looking for the lost art.

     Because this is the fourth book in the series, I found that there really was not much character development. I felt that the character had already been established. She is very smart. However, she is also very imaginative. She is also lovesick over her long-distance boyfriend. However, she is really focused on her job and is very determined to find the missing art. Thus, Jaya Jones was an engaging character and a lot of fun!

      Overall, this book is full of adventure, mystery, and romance. The characters are very fun and real. I felt like they would be cool friends to hang out with, and I liked getting to know them. While this book is set in present-day times, there are a lot of historical references. There is also connections to Michelangelo. I thought the novel was very fast-paced and it drew me right in. I also liked the mystery aspect, and I found it be very interesting that I could not wait to get to end for the reveal. Even though this is the fourth book in the series, this novel can be read as a stand-alone because I was not lost at all. After reading this, I’m eager to read Ms. Pandian’s other novels. I recommend this book for fans of Anne Fortier, Kitty Pilgrim, and Dan Brown.

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars


Praise for Gigi Pandian's Jaya Jones Mysteries:


“Charming characters, a hint of romantic conflict, and just the right amount of danger will garner more fans for this cozy series.” – Publishers Weekly on Quicksand 

“Pandian’s sprightly prose celebrates the pleasures of Italian painting, food, and landscape. The light touch, swift pace, and verve maintained throughout the novel disguise the deeper thought and scholarship underpinning the story, which like the stage props of a conjurer, make the magic happen.”– Linda Lappin, Author of Signatures in Stone: A Bomarzo Mystery 

Buy the Book: Amazon, Barnes and Nobles


Author's Bio:



     USA Today bestselling author Gigi Pandian is the child of cultural anthropologists from New Mexico and the southern tip of India. She spent her childhood being dragged around the world, and now lives in the San Francisco Bay Area. Gigi writes the Jaya Jones Treasure Hunt mysteries, the Accidental Alchemist mysteries, and locked-room mystery short stories. Gigi’s debut novel, Artifact, was awarded a Malice Domestic Grant and named a “Best of 2012” debut by Suspense Magazine. Her fiction has been awarded the Lefty Award and short-listed for Macavity and Agatha Awards. Sign up for her email newsletter at www.gigipandian.com/newsletter.  Visit her website, Twitter, and Facebook.


Blog Tour: Guest Post: Brenda Joyce Leahy: Detective Cameras and Early Photography

      Today's guest writer is Brenda Joyce Leahy. She is the debut author of The Art of Rebellion. It is a novel of a young girl who runs away to Paris to pursue her dreams. In this guest post, she writes about one her character's love of photography. I hope this guest post will give you some insights into her novel. Thank you, Mrs. Leahy.



Brenda Joyce Leahy

     One of the main characters from my young adult historical novel, The Art of Rebellion, is Philippe Lucien. He becomes obsessed with miniature “detective” cameras, which were all the rage at the turn of the twentieth century in Paris. 

     Researching 19th century photography was fun  – imagine cameras concealed in top hats, tie pins, revolvers and the heads of walking canes! Although detective cameras became a useful tool for a private detective such as Philippe, interest in the cameras and in the art of photography overtook his interest in investigating.



     One of Philippe’s favourite detective cameras was the top hat camera, which he uses on several occasions to photograph Gabrielle (main character) surreptitiously. Another hidden camera he uses is the photo-cravate, hidden behind his cravat (tie), with the aperture appearing as a tie pin. Philippe challenges Gabrielle to find his hidden camera while riding the Ferris wheel at the World Expo in Paris. This clever camera was invented by Edmond Bloch, a Parisian. Philippe claimed his favourite detective camera was one hidden in the base of an innocent-looking whiskey glass.

     As I learned more about detective cameras, I discovered that, as luck would have it, many of the innovators in photography were Frenchmen, such as Gaspard Tournachon, aka Nadar. He was a cartoonist, but reinvented himself to become one of Paris’ finest portrait photographers. He photographed mostly men in the elite and upper classes of French society. One woman he photographed was George Sand, journalist, novelist and Chopin’s mistress. 

     Nadar became famous throughout Europe after he took the first photograph from a balloon (in 1858). He also photographed the catacombs of Paris, pioneering the use of magnesium flares for light.

     A well known French explorer, Maxime du Camp was initially contemptuous of photography. However, in 1849 he toured the Middle East with Gustave Flaubert (famed French novelist). He was clearly busy photographing on that trip, because after he returned from the trip, a book containing a hundred and twenty-five of his photographs was published in Paris: Egypte, Nubie, Palestine et Syrie (1852).

     I’d like to think that Philippe would meet the Notmans when he explores Montreal in search of the best place to practice photography. Born in Britain in 1826, William Notman went to Canada and from the mid 1850s took photographs of the country. Notman also photographed famous personalities of the period, including Buffalo Bill and Sitting Bull. His work forms a valuable record of Canada’s life, people and customs during the second half of the nineteenth century.

     The studio Notman founded, Wm. Notman & Son operated until 1993. By the turn of the century, Charles Notman was gaining praise for his portrait photographs, making Notman’s the leading stuido in Montreal by the end of the 19th century.

If you’re interested in pursuing resources on detective cameras, these will get you started:

*An Age of Cameras, by E. Holmes (1974)
*150 Classic Cameras, from 1839 to the present, by P. van Hasbroeck (1989)
*The Illustrated History of the Camera from 1839 to the Present, by M. Auer (1975)
www.historiccamera.com


About the Author:

     

     Brenda Joyce Leahy loves historical fiction and thinks she was born a century too late but can't imagine her life without computers or cell phones. So, perhaps, she arrived in the world at just the right moment to tell this story. She grew up on a farm near Taber, Alberta but now lives with her family near the Rocky Mountains in Calgary, Alberta. After over 20 years practising law, she has returned to her first love of writing fiction. She is a member of several writing organizations, including the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) The Art of Rebellion is also profiled on the Humber School of Writers' website. Brenda is also a member of the Historical Novel Society and leads a YA/MG writers' critique group in Calgary.



Also check out my review of Brenda Joyce Leahy's novel: