I had heard several people say “Hamnet was such a great book!” so of course right away I avoided it. I never seem to like what everyone likes. However, I got it on audio and I LOVED this story. I loved the writing. I loved the characters. I don’t even know why I loved it so much, but it’s truly so beautifully written and exquisitely narrated that it’s destined to be one of my top reads this year.
Here’s the overview:
A New York Times best seller
Winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award
“Of all the stories that argue and speculate about Shakespeare’s life…here is a novel…so gorgeously written that it transports you.” (The Boston Globe)
In 1580s England, during the Black Plague, a young Latin tutor falls in love with an extraordinary, eccentric young woman in this “exceptional historical novel” (The New Yorker) and best-selling winner of the Women’s Prize for Fiction. Agnes is a wild creature who walks her family’s land with a falcon on her glove and is known throughout the countryside for her unusual gifts as a healer, understanding plants and potions better than she does people. Once she settles with her husband on Henley Street in Stratford-upon-Avon, she becomes a fiercely protective mother and a steadfast, centrifugal force in the life of her young husband, whose career on the London stage is taking off when his beloved young son succumbs to sudden fever.
A luminous portrait of a marriage, a shattering evocation of a family ravaged by grief and loss, and a tender and unforgettable reimagining of a boy whose life has been all but forgotten, and whose name was given to one of the most celebrated plays of all time, Hamnet is mesmerizing, seductive, impossible to pause – a magnificent leap forward from one of our most gifted novelists.
I got mine with an Audible credit – and I’m so glad I did!
Recently I was contacted by Mr. Clements’ publicist at Pegasus Books to see if I was interested in reading his new book. This is book 5 in a series, but a stand-alone title. I love mysteries and WWII novels, so I said yes, and I am so glad I did! This was a really engaging and well-written story of espionage and WWII that was easy to read and kept me guessing! Here’s the overview:
A Cambridge spy must unravel a dangerous mystery that goes all the way to the heart of the Third Reich—and the British Monarchy—in this vivid new spy thriller from a London Times bestselling author.
Two old friends meeting in a remote castle in Sweden. They are cousins.
One is Prince George, brother of the king of England, and the other Prince Philipp von Hesse, a close friend of Adolf Hitler and a committed Nazi. Days later Prince George is killed in a plane crash and the country weeps, but not everyone believes that it was an accident.
When FDR, who happens to be a good friend of the prince, hears the tragic news, he wants to find out exactly what happened. The American OSS doesn’t believe the story that MI5 are pedalling. The situation is delicate. Professor Tom Wilde, Cambridge don, is called in to uncover the truth—but what he discovers is far more than he bargained for.
While reading I kept thinking about how much my father (who fought in WWII) would have enjoyed this book if he was still with us. He loved a good mystery!
As I posted earlier, I’ve joined with Harlequin to bring you some romances throughout the year. Right now I’m part of the Investigator tour (mystery with some romance) and the Believer tour (faith and romance). I have to say that these are my cozy reads. Growing up I never would have thought that I would enjoy Harlequin romances, but when the world is crazy and life is stressful and I’m feeling down, I like to read about people who hold onto their faith and love others and have things work out. It’s that simple.
Here’s how Harlequin explains them:
Out of this group of stories, I read Her Hometown Hero which dealt with a young man returning from war and his healing process. I felt it had a good message about the challenges of PTSD and getting help for those struggling with it. Here’s the overview:
HER HOMETOWN HERO by Jacquelin Thomas (on-sale Jan.25, Harlequin Heartwarming):
Can a wounded hero let go of the past? Wounded marine Trey Rothchild has returned to Polk Island. People call him a hero, but will he ever feel that way after losing his team? Reuniting with high school crush Gia Harris buoys his spirits. Though she’s focused on making her physical therapy clinic a success—and avoiding romance with patients—Gia can’t bear watching the former athlete sit on the sidelines of life. Could helping Trey recover include loving him fearlessly?
About JACQUELIN THOMAS: Jacquelin Thomas’ books have garnered several awards, including two EMMA awards, the Romance In Color Reviewers Award, Readers Choice Award, and the Atlanta Choice Award in the Religious & Spiritual category. She was nominated for a 2008 NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Fiction in the Young Adult category. Jacquelin has published in the romance, inspirational fiction and young adult genres.
If you know me, you know I enjoy historical mysteries. It’s rare for me to find really engaging and readable ones from before the 1700’s, so I was thrilled when Mike Ward asked me to read his novel Rags of Time, the first in a series. It was well-written and plotted, but what I love about historical mysteries is all the tiny details used to create the era and to give the story realistic depth. Mr. Ward has certainly done his research!
Here’s the overview:
‘A satisfying, brooding mystery set in Stuart England anticipating the coming Civil War.’ Paul Walker, author of State of Treason
Thomas Tallant, a young and ambitious Spice Merchant, returns from India to find his city in turmoil.
A bitter struggle is brewing between King Charles I and Parliament, as England slides into civil war. The capital is simmering with dissent. The conflict is ready to boil over.
But Thomas soon has other troubles to contend with. A wealthy merchant, Sir Joseph Venell, is savagely killed; then his partner Sir Hugh Swofford plunges to his death, in the Tallant household.
Suspicion falls on Thomas, who is sucked into a mire of treachery and rumour within the City of London. As the merchant struggles to clear his name, he becomes captivated by the enigmatic Elizabeth Seymour, whose passion for astronomy and mathematics is matched only by her addiction to the gaming tables.
Pursued by the authorities, Thomas races to unmask the real killer who claims a third victim to implicate him further, toying with his future in a deadly cat and mouse game.
In a desperate race against time, Elizabeth applies her powers of logic and deduction to unearth the clues that will point to the killer, but her way is barred by a secret message from the grave.
Can she crack its code before Thomas, now a wounded and exhausted fugitive, succumbs to the chase?
And, if she succeeds, has Thomas the strength to face his tormentor and win his life and reputation back?
Rags of Time is the first book in an engaging and entertaining new historical crime series, set during the upheaval of the 17th Century. Recommended for fans of Andrew Taylor, CJ Sansom and SJ Parris.
Praise for Michael Ward:
‘I loved it; a wickedly dark murder mystery set in Stuart London.’ Jemahl Evans, author of The Last Roundhead
Michael Ward is a former journalist and academic. He now runs his own consultancy providing content services and training to a wide range of British companies and public sector organisations.
While Mr. Ward sent me a PDF, I never was able to get it converted properly, so I purchased my kindle copy. Today (1/16/22) I see there is a limited time sale of 99 cents for the kindle version on Amazon. It’s a steal!
I’ve signed on with Harlequin to feature some of their new titles in their widely run blog tours. Little Girl Gone is the first one I read in their “Investigator” titles.
Here’s the overview:
LITTLE GIRL GONE by Amanda Stevens (on-sale Dec.28, Harlequin Intrigue): Nothing matters more to her when a child’s life is at stake. Special agent Thea Lamb returns to her hometown to search for a child whose disappearance echoes a twenty-eight-year-old cold case—her twin sister’s abduction. Working with her former partner, Jake Stillwell, Thea must overcome the pain, doubt and guilt that have tormented her for years and denied her a meaningful relationship. For both Thea and Jake, the job always came first…until now.
About AMANDA STEVENS: Amanda Stevens is an award-winning author of over fifty novels. Born and raised in the rural south, she now resides in Houston, Texas.
I enjoyed this fast-paced crime novel, which kept me guessing. While the main mystery was solved I felt there was some unfinished business, so it was great to see that there will be a series of stand-alone titles with these characters.
This book had mystery, a little romance/sex, and was not overly graphic/gruesome, in my opinion.
I’m wrapping up the fall mystery and thriller blog tours with The Sorority Murder by Allison Brennan.
Here’s the scoop:
ABOUT THE BOOK:
New York Times bestselling author Allison Brennan’s suspenseful new mass market original about a college senior’s podcast that delves into an unsolved campus murder of a sorority girl three years earlier, as individual callers explode every fact previously thought to be true.
Lucas Vega is obsessed with the death of Candace Swain, who left a sorority party one night and never came back. Her body was found two weeks later, and the case has grown cold. Three years later while interning at the Medical Examiner’s, Lucas discovers new information, but the police are not interested.
Lucas knows he has several credible pieces of the puzzle, he just isn’t sure how they fit together. So he creates a podcast to revisit Candace’s last hours. He asks listeners to crowdsource what they remember and invites guest lecturer, former US Marshal Regan Merritt, to come on and share her expertise.
New tips come in that convince Lucas and Regan they are onto something. Then shockingly one of the podcast callers turns up dead. Another hints at Candace’s secret life…a much darker picture than Lucas imagined—and one that implicates other sorority sisters. Regan uses her own resources to bolster their theory and learns that Lucas is hiding his own dark secret. The pressure is to solve the murder, but first Lucas must come clean about his real motives in pursuing this podcast – before the killer silences him forever.
So – I have a mixed review on this one. I liked it and I enjoyed reading it, but it felt long to me (I just looked – as I read on my kindle – and it’s 448 pages). It felt like I had to keep a lot of characters and events straight in my head, which was sometimes confusing (remember – I often read late at night when I’m tired). So, while I liked it, I do wish it moved a bit quicker and was shorter.
If you like suspenseful murder mysteries, you’ll enjoy this one!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
ALLISON BRENNAN is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of over thirty novels. She has been nominated for Best Paperback Original Thriller by International Thriller Writers and the Daphne du Maurier Award. A former consultant in the California State Legislature, Allison lives in Arizona with her husband, five kids and assorted pets. The Sorority Murder is the first of a new mass market series,
Today I picked my TOP 3 reads of this year. I didn’t have a chance to blog every book I read, and I only blog about books I enjoy, so I chose these titles from my posts this calendar year.
(cue drum roll):
3. The Rose Code by Kate Quinn – I listened to this one and, as you know, I LOVE stories of WWII/female code breakers/espionage/etc. Great story!!
2. Anxious People by Fredrik Bachman – I read it (and had trouble following along) and then I audiobooked it. Whenever I read Bachman’s books I find my crying at the ending, and then I’m asking myself why I’m crying. He just can write so beautifully of the human experience with an eye to all that is good and true in people.
and finally (cue trumpets):
1. The Henna Artist by Alka Joshi – I had this book for almost two years before I got around to reading it (sorry!) and now that I’ve read it, I can’t stop thinking about it. Or thinking about henna as a cultural expression. And thinking about women’s roles and relationships. I found this book fascinating and loved it, so I give it my #1 for the year!
Of course I read LOTS of good books this year, but these three will be ones I’m recommending for a long time!
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – In his latest work, award-winning author and military veteran Gary Slaughter documents perspectives of World War II that have flown under the radar for decades. Fletcher House Publishers released “WWII POWs in America and Abroad” on Nov. 11, 2021.
Little has been written about the 6 million people held in prison camps around the world between 1939 and 1945. The Allies and the Axis powers held one another’s armed forces as military prisoners of war (POWs).
The Axis powers also confined millions of civilian prisoners in death or concentration camps. In addition, the Axis also imprisoned Russians, Slavs, European Jews, people with medical and physical disabilities, non-Jewish intellectuals, and religious leaders.
Even the United States imprisoned its own citizens in camps throughout America – over 100,000 Japanese-Americans and 11,500 German-Americans, most naturalized U.S. citizens.
Like military camps, these civilian sites were also surrounded by barbed wire and guard towers. In 1943, when a German POW camp was built in Slaughter’s hometown in Michigan, he became fascinated with POWs as a young boy. During the last two decades, Slaughter has authored five Cottonwood novels, set on the American homefront during the latter part of World War II, each containing POW storylines. Following book talks, most attendee questions related to POWs. His extensive research resulted in this captivating book.
“WWII POWs in America and Abroad”
Gary Slaughter| Nov. 11, 2021 | Fletcher House Publishing | Nonfiction / History
Paperback | ISBN: 9781733802130 | $20
Ebook | ISBN: 9781733802147 | $6.99
About the Author
Gary Slaughter is the author of “WWII POWs in America and Abroad” (Fletcher House Publishers, Nov. 11, 2021). He was born and raised in Owosso, Michigan. After graduating from the University of Michigan, he served seven years during the Cold War as a Naval officer, principally on anti-submarine warfare (ASW) destroyers. Following a distinguished military career, he became an expert on managing corporate information technology and consulted to clients worldwide. In 2002, Slaughter put his career on hold and began to write the award-winning Cottonwood series of five novels, depicting life on the American homefront during the last five seasons of World War II. In 2016, his critically-acclaimed memoir, “Sea Stories,” was published. The book’s 60 vignettes recall Slaughter’s life in the Navy. One vignette tells of the once top-secret role he played in avoiding an all-out nuclear exchange with the Soviet Union during the Cuban Missile Crisis.
Thanks to my friends at Books Forward for sending me info on this book!
I’m chatting it up today about a new thriller out by Trevor J. Houser: Pacific.
Here’s the scoop:
On a remote Puget Sound Island, police chief Bell navigates his job and marriage in the wake of his son’s near-death brain surgery. When his wife no longer wants to tempt the fates of experimental medicine, he takes matters into his own hands. With the help of his spaced-out fisherman friend, Bell kidnaps his boy and sets sail for Guatemala in search of the mysterious Dr. Haas. On the way, they’ll brave the seventh biggest storm, befriend two behemoth fly-fishing Nords, and try to outrun the ex-Navy captain hired by his wife to find them.
Inspired by his own son’s health battle and the beauty of his home of the Pacific Northwest, Houser seamlessly captures the heartbreak and desperation all parents of a sick child feel, while still maintaining humor and playful language that gives them hope.
“Parents of children with diseases face horrible mundane realities on a daily basis; the bus-station like sameness of all the hospitals, waiting, and calls to insurance,” says Houser. “But there’s also beauty and hope in mundane moments, if we’re just willing to go and look for it.”
Today I’m hosting a Q&A with Mr. Houser:
Question: This is your debut novel. How did writing a full-length piece differ from the short stories and other pieces you have published?
Trevor J. Houser: Although this is my first published novel most novelists have a closetful of novels they’ve already written that didn’t make it for one reason or another. For me the biggest difference in writing a novel is maintaining the energy of that initial idea. To maintain the consistency of that voice, of that style over the course of many months.
Q: Family and fatherhood is a major theme throughout Pacific. Did your own family life inspire your writing for this book?
TJH: I have a son who was diagnosed with a rare brain disease. After years of navigating all the unknowns and not really writing there was suddenly some light at the end of the tunnel with his prognosis and soon after I found myself writing this book. Pacific is somewhat based on the experiences we’ve been through with our son, but a lot of it is the made-up fantasy of a parent who wishes they could do something more just than talk to a million doctors and not sleep at night. Even though the way in which Chief Bell shows his love for his son might be considered unconventional, it demonstrates how fathers are just as capable as mothers in the depths of their feelings and devotion.
Q: How did the Pacific Northwest influence your story?
TJH: I grew up in Oregon, but afer leaving for college I lived for years in places like New York, San Francisco and Argentina. When I returned to the Pacific Northwest with my family a few years ago I think I forgot just how exotic and rich this place is. It took being away for so long to appreciate the strange beauty of it, which is what I hoped this book would be: strange and beautiful.
Q: Fans of which authors/books do you think would enjoy Pacific and why?
TJH: Hopefully fans of authors such as Kate Jennings and Jenny Offill will like it because of their sentence level precision in telling stories of hope and heartbreak. Donald Barthelme and Richard Brautigan for their playfulness with language and form, and their sense of humor. Denis Johnson for his melancholy strangeness. All my favorite writers tend to elevate the everyday through their language to make the mundane transcendent. To make regular life almost mythic. It’s something I try to accomplish on a sentence level and keep building it so that courses through the entire narrative
Q: What’s next for you and Pacific?
TJH: My second novel is coming out in 2023. It’s about a math hobbyist, who believes he’s discovered a theorem that might predict when and where the next mass shooting takes place.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Trevor J. Houser is an advertising copywriter living with his family in Seattle, WA. He studied creative writing under Thomas Beller at Columbia University. His stories have been published in dozens of literary journals, including Zyzzyva, Story Quarterly, and The Dr. TJ Eckleburg Review. He’s been nominated three times for the Pushcart Prize. He also received special mention in Best American Fantasy Vol. 2. You can find the author on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and at http://www.houserfiction.com. Pacific is his debut novel.
This sounds SO good! Thanks for letting me highlight your novel, Mr. Houser, and thanks to Smith Publicity!