OXBLOOD by Annalisa Grant


Description via Net Galley —

For my Ears: THE LOST WIFE by Alyson Richman


I was currently reading an ARC of THE VELVET HOURS and enjoying it, so I got THE LOST WIFE, also by Alyson Richman, to listen to in the car.

Here’s an overview via GoodReads:

A rapturous novel of first love in a time of war-from the celebrated author of The Rhythm of Memory and The Last Van Gogh. In pre-war Prague, the dreams of two young lovers are shattered when they are separated by the Nazi invasion. Then, decades later, thousands of miles away in New York, there’s an inescapable glance of recognition between two strangers…

Providence is giving Lenka and Josef one more chance. From the glamorous ease of life in Prague before the Occupation, to the horrors of Nazi Europe, The Lost Wife explores the power of first love, the resilience of the human spirit- and the strength of memory.


I loved this story, which moved back and forth through time — from the present, to pre-WWII, to post-WWII, to the present. Josef and Lenka are separated by circumstances in the war, and both think the other is dead. Yet throughout their lives they never forget each other.

A lovely and touching story, it is read in two voices (George Guidall for Josef and Suzanne Toren for Lenka), and made me wonder: “Could something like this really happen?” Apparently yes, as in the afterword Ms. Richman states that reading about a reunited couple who thought the other was dead in WWII gave her the idea for this story.

Recommended for those who like the WWII genre – in audio or paper!

I got mine via Audible with my monthly credit.

HFVBTour of THE LAST WIFE OF ATTILA THE HUN by Joan Schweighardt

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I’m excited today to be part of the blog tour for THE LAST WIFE OF ATTILA THE HUN.

Here’s the scoop from HFVBT:

The Last Wife of Attila the Hun
by Joan Schweighardt

Publication Date: October 13, 2015
Booktrope Editions
Paperback; eBook; 272 Pages

Genre: Literary/Historical Fiction

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Two threads are flawlessly woven together in this sweeping historical novel. In one, Gudrun, a Burgundian noblewoman, dares to enter the City of Attila to give its ruler what she hopes is a cursed sword; the second reveals the unimaginable events that have driven her to this mission.

Based in part on the true history of the times and in part on the same Nordic legends that inspired Wagner’s Ring Cycle and other great works of art, The Last Wife of Attila the Hun offers readers a thrilling story of love, betrayal, passion and revenge, all set against an ancient backdrop itself gushing with intrigue. Lovers of history and fantasy alike will find realism and legend at work in Joan Schweighardt’s latest offering.



“The hero-tales of the Germanic peoples form a glowing thread in the tapestry of European literature. The Last Wife of Attila the Hun presents one of the greatest of those legends from a woman’s perspective, with emotion as well as action, bringing new meaning to an ancient tale.” – Diana L. Paxson, author of the Wodan’s Children trilogy, and co-author of the New York Times bestseller Priestess of Avalon

“Richly woven, yet simply told, The Last Wife of Attila the Hun is an epic delivered in lucid and lyric verse. Schweighardt creates a mesmerizing story deserving to be read aloud and celebrated like all the world’s best tales.” – Julie Shigekuni, author of A Bridge Between Us, Invisible Gardens and Unending Nova.

About the Author

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Joan Schweighardt is the author of five novels. A former independent publisher, she makes her living editing, writing and ghostwriting for private and corporate clients.


Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, December 14
Spotlight at Flashlight Commentary

Tuesday, December 15
Spotlight at Unshelfish

Wednesday, December 16
Review at History From a Woman’s Perspective

Thursday, December 17
Review at Book Nerd

Friday, December 18
Review at Beth’s Book Nook Blog
Spotlight at CelticLady’s Reviews

Saturday, December 19
Spotlight at Svetlana’s Reads and Views

Sunday, December 20
Review at Carole’s Ramblings
Review at One Book Shy of a Full Shelf

Monday, December 21
Review at Let Them Read Books
Spotlight at A Literary Vacation

And here’s a Giveaway!

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To win a Paperback copy of The Last Wife of Attila the Hun please enter the giveaway via the GLEAM form below.


– Giveaway starts at 12:01am EST on December 14th and ends at 11:59pm EST on December 21st. You must be 18 or older to enter.
– Giveaway is open internationally.
– Only one entry per household.
– All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspect of fraud is decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion
– Winner has 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.



Well, I am very excited about this book (which I am still in the midst of reading). I have to say that I know little about Attila the Hun. I remember reading somewhere that the Huns were quite fierce and feared. Beyond that, my only other “experience” of Attila is in the Night at the Museum movies. This book is so interesting to me as it’s all new – the time period, the legends, the people. The story is well-written and holds my attention, and I look forward to the conclusion.

I’m so glad I got to be part of this tour – thank you for my e-copy to review!

Review: LITTLE WOMAN IN BLUE by Jeannine Atkins


So – we all know my obsession with all things Alcott, right? Well, this summer at the Summer Conversational Series, I met Jeannine Atkins, who was quite charming, and she was speaking about May Alcott and her new novel about her (which came out in September). Of course I NEEDED this book and right away. Jeannine kindly gifted me with an ARC and I tucked it away so that I could savor it.

If you know me, you know that I am very, very picky when I read about the Alcotts. If stories don’t fit what I deem to be true and right, well then I don’t want any part of it. I’ve been know to stop reading a book, shout “Hogwash!”, and actually toss it away if it contains what I perceive to be Alcott sacrilege. Jeannine was such a genuinely nice person that I had my fingers crossed that I would not be doing any book tossing!

Well, no worries. This book is an absolute delight. Right from the first pages I knew Jeannine had done her homework. There is SO MUCH of the real Alcotts included in her pages, from things they said to the flowers they picked to the food they ate to the people they visited. This book is so on target that I know Jeannine had to have spent hours reading and digesting the real journals and letters of the family. Kudos to her!

If you only know the Alcotts as the family of Little Women, then you are in for a treat. Even if you only know me peripherally, you know that I am always talking about the whole family and how fascinating they all were. May is my favorite. Sweet, beautiful May (“Amy” for you Alcott newbies) was the youngest, the most beautiful, the most vivacious, and the talented artist who spent her late teen/early adult years developing her art, teaching art to the young people of Concord, and drawing on the walls of her bedroom at Orchard House (still seen today!). May was determined to see and study in Europe and to become a true artist. This book is May’s story — her friendship with Julian Hawthorne, her complicated relationship with Louisa, her love for her family, and her struggle to become an artist when female artists were not encouraged. It is also May’s love story of her relationship with Ernst and her dream of one day being both an artist and a mother.

Now I’ll be honest — SPOILER ALERT — I dragged out this book so that it didn’t have to end. I cried the last three chapters because I know what was coming. I just have always loved May (the REAL May, not “Amy”). I loved this book so much!

Jeannine, if you are reading this, I am sending you a virtual hug because I’m just so happy that you portrayed the Alcotts so realistically. Thank you so much for your beautiful novel of “summer’s golden child”.

To the rest of you – even if you are just a little bit curious, go out and get this book – pronto! You can thank me later.

(picture from google images)

Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tour for THE BEAUTIFUL AMERICAN by Jeanne Mackin with GIVEAWAY!

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The Beautiful American
by Jeanne Mackin

Publication Date: June 3, 2014
NAL/Penguin Group
Formats: eBook, Paperback, Audio
352 Pages

Genre: Historical Fiction

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As recovery from World War II begins, expat American Nora Tours travels from her home in southern France to London in search of her missing sixteen-year-old daughter. There, she unexpectedly meets up with an old acquaintance, famous model-turned-photographer Lee Miller. Neither has emerged from the war unscathed. Nora is racked with the fear that her efforts to survive under the Vichy regime may have cost her daughter’s life. Lee suffers from what she witnessed as a war correspondent photographing the liberation of the Nazi concentration camps.

Nora and Lee knew each other in the heady days of late 1920’s Paris, when Nora was giddy with love for her childhood sweetheart, Lee became the celebrated mistress of the artist Man Ray, and Lee’s magnetic beauty drew them all into the glamorous lives of famous artists and their wealthy patrons. But Lee fails to realize that her friendship with Nora is even older, that it goes back to their days as children in Poughkeepsie, New York, when a devastating trauma marked Lee forever. Will Nora’s reunion with Lee give them a chance to forgive past betrayals, and break years of silence?

A novel of freedom and frailty, desire and daring, The Beautiful American portrays the extraordinary relationship between two passionate, unconventional woman.



“Will transport you to expat Paris.” – Suzanne Rindell, author of The Other Typist

“A brilliant, beautifully written literary masterpiece” – Sandra Dallas, author of Fallen Women

“Leaves its essence of love, loss, regret and hope long after the novel concludes.” – Erika Robuck, author of Fallen Beauty

“Achingly beautiful and utterly mesmerizing…her vividly drawn characters…come heartbreakingly alive in their obsessions, tragedies and triumphs” – Jennifer Robson, author of Somewhere in France

“From Poughkeepsie to Paris, from the razzmatazz of the twenties to the turmoil of World War Two and the perfume factories of Grasse, Mackin draws you into the world of expatriate artists and photographers and tells a story of love, betrayal, survival and friendship…an engaging and unforgettable novel” – Renee Rosen, author Doll Face


Jeanne Mackin’s novel, The Beautiful American (New American Library), based on the life of photographer and war correspondent Lee Miller, received the 2014 CNY award for fiction. Her other novels include A Lady of Good Family, about gilded age personality Beatrix Farrand, The Sweet By and By, about nineteenth century spiritualist Maggie Fox, Dreams of Empire set in Napoleonic Egypt, The Queen’s War, about Eleanor of Aquitaine, and The Frenchwoman, set in revolutionary France and the Pennsylvania wilderness.

Jeanne Mackin is also the author of the Cornell Book of Herbs and Edible Flowers (Cornell University publications) and co-editor of The Book of Love (W.W. Norton.) She was the recipient of a creative writing fellowship from the American Antiquarian Society and a keynote speaker for The Dickens Fellowship. Her work in journalism won awards from the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education, in Washington, D.C. She has taught or conducted workshops in Pennsylvania, Hawaii and at Goddard College in Vermont.


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Here I am!

I am really excited to be part of this blog tour through Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours. I received an audiobook CD version of this novel and listened to it during my new, lengthy commute. This was a somewhat sad story, but interesting. 1920’s was truly a heyday in Paris and I’ve always found the ex-pat lifestyle of that time quite fascinating and love to read about it. If you read me regularly, you know I love reading about the WWII era, and this book moved into the war and the characters’ experiences before and afterwards. I found Nora’s search for her daughter heart-wreching, and kept my fingers crossed for a happy ending!

These characters were based on real people, which made the storyline even more poignant. I had never heard of Lee Miller and her work in photography. The CD’s (ten of them) moved quickly and Mackin’s writing flows easily. Her words are read in a smooth, soothing style by Kate Reading.

This was a compelling story that would engage readers who like to read of this era. Thank you for my review CD’s!

But wait – there’s more!

You can enter to win a free copy of this novel — go to:

The Beautiful American

Review: FOLLOW YOU HOME by Mark Edwards


Through Net Galley, I received a review e-copy of FOLLOW YOU HOME. I like a good thriller and this one looked engaging.

Daniel and Laura are a young British couple having a fun trip around Europe. They have planned and saved for this, and figure when they return they will settle down to work, get married, and start a family. They are carefree and happy until one night when things go awry. Boarding a train in Romania, they sneak off to sleep in an empty sleeper compartment. When they awake, their belongings are stolen and they are being thrown off the train. A young woman they had met earlier is thrown off, too, when she tries to help them. Daniel and Laura trudge along through the creepy woods with their new friend, but when she steps away to go to the bathroom, things go horribly wrong (No! Don’t go in to that house in the woods! Run away!!).

Through flashback we find out what exactly happened that night – events that completely changed Daniel and Laura’s relationship and their personalities. But then strange things start occurring at their homes in England. Could the evil they witnessed in the woods have followed them back to England?

This was a great read — a heart-stopping thriller at some points, with totally believable  characters dealing with every day “stuff” like their jobs and relationships. I have never read Edwards before, but he writes psychological thrillers, and he is quite skilled at eeking out the details so that you have to keep reading!

Great plot wrap-up and ending — I’ll be looking for more from him.

Thank you, Thomas & Mercer, for my review copy! This book publishes on this Tuesday, 6/30.

Litfuse Blog Tour Review: A SPARROW IN TEREZIN by Kristy Cambron and Giveaway!

I’m blogging today as part of the Litfuse Blog tour of Kristy Cambron’s new Christian fiction novel: A SPARROW IN TEREZIN, Book Two of the Hidden Masterpiece series.(Book One is THE BUTTERFLY AND THE VIOLIN which I reviewed here: https://drbethnolan.wordpress.com/2015/02/06/review-the-butterfly-and-the-violin-by-kristy-cambron/

A SPARROW IN TEREZIN continues Sera and William’s story and focuses on a different WWII artifact: a gold necklace of a cross. When the story starts, Sera and William are getting married, however the wedding is more than marred by officials showing up and arresting William for some sort of shady/illegal/irregular dealings in the business. Sera is determined to prove his innocence, so she travels to Europe to find and speak to WIlliam’s long-lost father. Meanwhile, in the 1940’s, Kaja is sent by her parents out of Prague so that she will be safe during the war. She ends up working in England where she falls in love. Soon she heads back to Prague in an attempt to save her parents.

I have to say that while I enjoyed this book, I liked Kaja’s storyline more than Sera’s. I was a bit disappointed in Sera’s actions and the way she jumped to conclusions and hardly gave her husband a chance to explain himself and his decisions. I don’t want to give away too much, but her rashness both annoyed and disappointed me.

While you can read this novel as a stand alone, you might want to read “Butterfly” first so that you fully understand the backstory and characters. I am curious to see where this series is going next!

And wait – there’s more! Follow this link for a great giveaway basket!

Sparrow Terezin Kristy CambronBound together across time, two women will discover a powerful connection in Kristy Cambron‘s new book, A Sparrow in Terezin. Connecting across a century through one little girl, a Holocaust survivor with a foot in each world, two women will discover a kinship that springs even in the darkest of times. In this tale of hope and survival, Sera and Kája must cling to the faith that sustains and fight to protect all they hold dear—even if it means placing their own futures on the line.

Kristy is celebrating by giving away a basket filled with goodies inspired by her new book!

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One grand prize winner will receive:

  • A set of poppy notecards
  • A poppy pin
  • A copy of I Never Saw Another Butterfly
  • A copy of the Mrs. Miniver DVD
  • Literary tea bags
  • Tumbler
  • A copy of A Sparrow in Terezin
sparrow giveaway bastet

Enter today by clicking the icon below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on April 28th. Winner will be announced April 29th on Kristy’s blog.

sparrow terezin-enterbanner{NOT ON FACEBOOK? ENTER HERE.}

Here’s a bit about Kristy:

About the author:

Kristy Cambron has been fascinated with the WWII era since hearing her grandfather’s stories of the war. She holds an art history degree from Indiana University and received the Outstanding Art History Student Award. Kristy writes WWII and Regency era fiction and has placed first in the 2013 NTRWA Great Expectations and 2012 FCRW Beacon contests, and is a 2013 Laurie finalist. Kristy makes her home in Indiana with her husband and three football-loving sons.

Find Kristy online: website, Facebook, Twitter
See what other Litfuse Bloggers have to say:

Thank you for making me part of the blog tour and for my copy through Net Galley! I enjoy Kristy’s writing and the Christian focus of her books, and I look forward to the next novel in this series.


Spotlight on A CHANCE KILL by Paul Letters — Historical Fiction Virtual Blog Tour

Today I’m spotlighting A CHANCE KILL — a historical fiction WWII story by Paul Letters as part of the HFVBT tour!

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Publication Date: February 26, 2015
Silverwood Books
Formats: eBook, Paperback
Pages: 300

Genre: Historical Fiction

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Can an individual shape a remarkable destiny, or is it all by chance?

Based upon true events, seventeen-year-old Polish catholic Dyta Zając finds herself forced away from wartime Warsaw due to her family’s shadowy connections. Dyta’s time on the run sets her on a path towards confronting the ultimate Nazi.

Half a continent away, an RAF crew embarks on Britain’s little-known first offensive of the war. In a story of fear versus hope, the unspoken limits of loyalty are exposed and the value of a compromised life is contested. Dyta’s destiny edges closer
to that of the RAF crew – and toward the Allies’ most brazen covert operation to strike at the Nazi elite.

Even more dangerous than the enemy, however, is the assumption that your enemy’s enemy is your friend…

About the Author

Author Paul Letters deals with a physical disability (which is twisted and transposed to a character in A Chance Kill). It prompted Paul to change his life and give up full-time teaching to write. He studied history, education, international affairs and literary journalism at the Universities of Cardiff, Oxford and Hong Kong.

Paul is from England and now lives in the jungled fringes of Hong Kong. He writes freelance journalism, most often for the South China Morning Post, and is currently working on a World War Two novel set in Hong Kong.

Check it out and let me know what you think!

Quick Review: The Mozart Conspiracy by Scott Mariani

I grabbed this novel off the “new releases in large print” shelf at the library, and I’m so glad I did!

“The Mozart Conspiracy” centers on Ben Hope, former British Special Agent, as he helps his old flame, Leigh Llewellyn, to solve the mysterious murder of her brother. A pianist, Oliver had been working on a book about Mozart and his untimely death at the time of his own death. Oliver’s theory focused on a splinter group of Freemasons who may have killed Mozart to keep their secrets – well – secret. Leigh and Ben cover several countries, working to solve the mystery of the Mozart Letter, the Mozart Conspiracy, and Mozart’s – and Oliver’s – death; all the while they are running for their lives!

I just loved this book which reminded me of “The DaVinci Code”. The characters were interesting. The plot was complex but not too intricate. The action was fast-paced. The violence was not overwhelming. I have read that it is also the start of a series – which would explain the somewhat puzzling end (puzzling as in “why would an author end it this way??). I would recommend it to those who like Dan Brown, though there is not a focus on puzzles/ciphers. I did think there’s be more historical information on Mozart, but it’s pretty focused on the present day.

Have you read it? Let me know!