Post from the Past: WRITTEN IN MY OWN HEART’S BLOOD (Outlander #8) by Diana Gabaldon

I love Outlander (books and show), and I see that in 2020 we will be getting the next installment (Book #9: Go Tell The Bees that I Am Gone). One final book, Book 10, will follow and then Jamie and Claire’s saga will be over. However, it’s been SO LONG since I read Book #8 that I thought I would remind myself of it. Then I thought — perhaps my readers would like to remember it, too? So, here for you – direct from several years ago on my blog (2016) – is my review of Outlander Book #8: Written in my Own Heart’s Blood.

If you know me, you know I have an Outlander obsession. I’ve read them all (and watch the show). Of course I had to read the latest tome from Ms. Gabaldon. I did it over time, though, reading several other things at the same time, because sometimes I just needed a break from the trials of living in the 1700’s!

This book starts where the last one left off, and I only wish I could have remembered exactly what had happened at the end of the last book! Next time I am definitely re-reading the end of the previous book. It took me about 100 pages to get settled and remember all the challenges folks were facing. (What I really needed was a chart with characters, which is there, but really not too accessible via kindle; print copy would have been better).

Anyhow, Claire and Jamie were reunited. Lord Grey was having some serious physical issues in the war (and with Jamie). Ian was wanting to marry his Quaker love, Rachel. Brianna was fending off a crazy man who was trying to abduct Jem, while Roger runs off to the past thinking Jem is there (but ends up in the wrong time). Then there was a whole HOST of other folks running around and having problems. I could scarcely keep track of it all!

As always, I love the story of Claire and Jamie. Theirs is a love that truly transcends time. The other many subplots are fun to follow, though I found the time in the forest with the soldiers v-e-r-y s-l-o-w. Things picked up quickly towards the end and one can see another book on the horizon.

Now if you know me, you know I have a “problem” shall we say, with Brianna. I can’t stand her “I’m perfect. I’m intelligent. I’m beautiful. Everyone desires me. I’m Brianna.” personality. I found her much more likable in this installment. Her motherly side has softened me to her. Now, instead, I find Rachel annoying. Her “I am pious. I am perfect. I am incredibly beautiful and brave with a perfect body under these drab Quaker togs. Look at me!” character is a bit much. I don’t want her killed off, but really, let’s make her not quite so perfect. And once I got thinking about this I realized that all the women in these books are pretty much physically perfect while most of the main men have some sort of physical difference or scar or missing limb: Jamie’s scars and missing finger, Jenny’s husband’s limp, Roger’s damaged throat, Fergus’ hook, Colum’s Toulouse-Latrec. Interesting…

Okay – I just googled to make sure it was Colum with the T-L and not Dougal and there’s an Outlander Wiki???

Anyhow, you, too, can slog through the 800+ pages of the latest Outlander. You can see it on Amazon where I got mine.

A Sparrow Alone by Mim Eichmann

Recently, Mim Eichmann reached out to me about her book (the first in a series) and it sounded to intriguing that I could not say no!

Here’s the overview:

1890s. Colorado. Following her mother’s sudden death, thirteen-year-old Hannah Owens is hired as domestic help by a wealthy doctor’s family in Colorado Springs. When the doctor declares bankruptcy and abandons his family to finance his mistress Pearl DeVere’s brothel, Hannah is thrown into a world of gold mining bonanzas and busts, rampant prostitution and the economic, political and cultural upheavals of the era. Two of Cripple Creek’s most colorful historic characters, Winfield Scott Stratton, eccentric owner of the richest gold mine in Cripple Creek, and Pearl DeVere, the beautiful madam of The Old Homestead come to life as this old-fashioned, coming-of-age saga unfolds, a tribute to the women who set the stage for women’s rights.

This was a wonderfully written historical fiction piece, brimming with action, romance, and some violence, with a cast of actual and created characters. The main character Hannah Owens is one that I definitely felt a connection with, and Hannah has many ups and downs in this story (I don’t want to give them away but many center on family, work, love, and finances). Every time I thought she was set, something would befall her and she’d have to start over. She was a courageous and strong character and her story will remain with me. Hannah’s adventures continue in the next novel. I was also fascinated by the character of Pearl and so surprised to realize that she is based in fact.

Thank you, Ms. Eichmann, for sending me a mobi of your book and for sharing Hannah’s story with us!

This book publishes on 4/15/20. Right now it is $2.99 on kindle.

HFVBTour for DRAGON LADY by Autumn Bardot

I’m excited to be part of the Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tour for Autumn Bardot’s crazy good novel: DRAGON LADY. It’s got pirates, adventure, romance, and excitement and is based on the true story of the infamous Asian lady pirate: Zheng Yi Sao.

Here’s the overview:

Prostitution required the violation of my body. Piracy required my soul. The first enslaved me. The second set me free.

A young girl is taken from her home and sold into slavery to a floating brothel. Xianggu begins as a servant, but soon her virginity is bought by the highest bidder. Ambitious and determined, she learns the business in hopes of earning her freedom from the madam. Her dreams are washed away when a midnight pirate raid changes her life.

Kidnapped by the notorious Red Flag boss, Xianggu embarks on a journey that demands beauty, brains, and brawn. But Xianggu must do more than learn to wield a sword, sail a ship, and swim across the bay, she must become indispensable to the pirate boss if she hopes to survive. The winds, however, never blow in the same direction, and Xianggu must make a decision that requires her to battle jealous men, ancient prejudices, and her own heart.

The triumph of the notorious Zheng Yi Sao is a sexy, fierce, and unflinchingly realistic story of how a prostitute became the most powerful and successful pirate in the world.

In 18th century China, when men made and enforced the rules, the Dragon Lady lived by her own.

Even though there is violence in this book (physical and sexual) and also sexually explicit scenes (fair warning), I loved this story and couldn’t help but admire Xiang gu. She was a definite bad a** woman of history! I had not read anything by Autumn Bardot before, but I found this engaging and well-written and definitely well-researched.

Here’s a bit about Ms. Bardot:

About the Author
Autumn Bardot writes historical fiction and erotica about sassy women and daring passions!
Her erotic fiction includes Legends of Lust, Erotic Myths from around the World, published by Cleis Press. Confessions of a Sheba Queen (erotica) will be available Jan 2020.
The Impaler’s Wife, her debut historical fiction, released in April 2019.
Autumn has a BA in English literature and a MaEd in curriculum and instruction. She’s been teaching literary analysis for fourteen years
When Autumn’s not writing or working, you’ll find her hanging out with her ever-growing family, spoiled husband, and pampered rescue pooch. Her favorite things include salty French fries, coffee, swimming, and a great book.

Highly recommended for those who like this genre!

Thank you for my review galley and for making me part of the tour!!

Mistress of the Ritz by Melanie Benjamin

I love Melanie Benjamin’s writing (The Aviator’s Wife, The Swans of Fifth Avenue, The Girls in the Picture – to name a few). She makes historical characters come alive and her attention to historical is spot on. She also never makes anachronistic slips in her writing. Mistress of the Ritz is based on the real person, Blanche Auzello, and her husband Claude who was the manager of the Ritz during the German occupation of Paris in WWII. Blanche is a vibrant and unforgettable character, as daring as she is brave, even as she hides a secret. Apparently, there is not too much known of the personal lives of the real Claude and Blanche, but Ms. Benjamin’s writing never feels campy or too incredible. Instead she does what she does best — slowly peeling away the layers of character so that by the end of the book we feel we know the person intimately.

This was an interesting and great read.

Thank you for my e-copy to review via Net Galley!

Description

A captivating novel based on the story of the extraordinary real-life American woman who secretly worked for the French Resistance during World War II—while playing hostess to the invading Germans at the iconic Hôtel Ritz in Paris—from the New York Times bestselling author of The Aviator’s Wife and The Swans of Fifth Avenue.

“A compelling portrait of a marriage and a nation at war from within.”—Kate Quinn, author of The Alice Network

Nothing bad can happen at the Ritz; inside its gilded walls every woman looks beautiful, every man appears witty. Favored guests like Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Coco Chanel, and the Duke and Duchess of Windsor walk through its famous doors to be welcomed and pampered by Blanche Auzello and her husband, Claude, the hotel’s director. The Auzellos are the mistress and master of the Ritz, allowing the glamour and glitz to take their minds off their troubled marriage, and off the secrets that they keep from their guests—and each other.

Until June 1940, when the German army sweeps into Paris, setting up headquarters at the Ritz. Suddenly, with the likes of Hermann Goëring moving into suites once occupied by royalty, Blanche and Claude must navigate a terrifying new reality. One that entails even more secrets and lies. One that may destroy the tempestuous marriage between this beautiful, reckless American and her very proper Frenchman. For in order to survive—and strike a blow against their Nazi “guests”—Blanche and Claude must spin a web of deceit that ensnares everything and everyone they cherish.

But one secret is shared between Blanche and Claude alone—the secret that, in the end, threatens to imperil both of their lives, and to bring down the legendary Ritz itself.

Based on true events, Mistress of the Ritz is a taut tale of suspense wrapped up in a love story for the ages, the inspiring story of a woman and a man who discover the best in each other amid the turbulence of war.

Advance praise for Mistress of the Ritz

“No one writes of the complexities of women’s lives and loves like Melanie Benjamin. In Mistress of the Ritz, Benjamin brings wartime Paris brilliantly to life. . . . Intense, illuminating, and ultimately inspiring!”—Elizabeth Letts, New York Times bestselling author of Finding Dorothy

Me again — having read this, I wondered about the real Paris Ritz as I’ve never seen it. Here’s a link to google images of it – oo la la!

Some google images of the Ritz in Paris

The Victory Garden by Rhys Bowen

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Description (via Net Galley)

A Note From the Publisher

If you read me, you know I LOVE Rhys Bowen’s books — Molly Murphy Mysteries, Royal Spyness mysteries, Tuscan Child, In Farleigh Field, etc. etc. This novel is a stand alone, historical fiction piece, that reminded me a bit of In Farleigh Field, as it was a war story. I loved Emily’s character and found the historical piece so interesting — young women volunteering to work on farms in the British countryside as “land girls’. She is quite resourceful and plucky, though when she becomes pregnant she certainly has to make some decisions as to where her future will lie. There is a bit of mystery, too, as to the history of the cottage where she lives and its former inhabitant. All in all it was a great read and I hope Ms. Bowen continues to writes historical stand alones!
Thank you for my review e-copy!

Blog Tour for The Perilous Adventures of the Cowboy King by Jerome Charyn

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I’m happy today to be part of Over the River PR’s blog tour for Jerome Charyn’s The Perilous Adventures of the Cowboy King A Noveld of Teddy Roosevelt and his Times. I’ve never read Charyn before, though I’ve heard of him, and I have to say that his writing makes the characters just come alive and jump right off the page!

Here’s the overview via Amazon:

Raising the literary bar to a new level, Jerome Charyn re-creates the voice of Theodore Roosevelt, the New York City police commissioner, Rough Rider, and soon- to-be twenty-sixth president through his derring-do adventures, effortlessly combining superhero dialogue with haunting pathos. Beginning with his sickly childhood and concluding with McKinley’s assassination, the novel positions Roosevelt as a “perfect bull in a china shop,” a fearless crime fighter and pioneering environmentalist who would grow up to be our greatest peacetime president.

With an operatic cast, including “Bamie,” his handicapped older sister; Eleanor, his gawky little niece; as well as the devoted Rough Riders, the novel memorably features the lovable mountain lion Josephine, who helped train Roosevelt for his “crowded hour,” the charge up San Juan Hill. Lauded by Jonathan Lethem for his “polymorphous imagination and crack comic timing,” Charyn has created a classic of historical fiction, confirming his place as “one of the most important writers in American literature” (Michael Chabon).

I have to say that Roosevelt was a far more interesting man that I’ve ever given him credit for! In fact, this novel is filled with interesting characters and events.

Thank you for my e-copy and for inviting me to be part of your tour!

HFVBTour for A Hangman for Ghosts by Andrei Baltakmens

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I’m happy today to be part of the virtual tour for Andrei Baltakmens’ A HANGMAN FOR GHOSTS through Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours.

This is a lively tale, which is part mystery/part adventure. It’s chock full of interesting characters and excitement and it makes the world of Sydney in the early 1800’s come alive.

Well-written and paced, I enjoyed my review e-copy.

Thank you – and thank you for making me part of the tour!

A HANGMAN FOR GHOSTS BY ANDREI BALTAKMENS
 
Publication Date: July 1, 2018
Top Five Books
Paperback & eBook; 288 Pages
 
Genre: Historical Mystery
 
“We are transported. We are consigned to the ends of the Earth. And we are therefore as good as dead to the realm and its judges. There can be no hope of reprieve…”
 
Gabriel Carver, the convict hangman of Sydney Prison, knows that none of his kind may depart Australia’s penal colony without the system’s leave. Then three people are murdered, seemingly to protect the “Rats’ Line,” an illicit path to freedom that exists only in the fevered imaginations of transported felons. But why kill to protect something that doesn’t exist?
 
When an innocent woman from Carver’s past is charged with one of the murders and faces execution at his hands, she threatens to reveal an incriminating secret of his own unless he helps her. So Carver must try to unmask the killer among the convicts, soldiers, sailors, and fallen women roaming 1829 Sydney. If he can find the murderer, he may discover who is defying the system under its very nose. His search will take him back to the scene of his ruin—to London and a past he can never remake nor ever escape, not even at the edge of the world.
 

About the Author

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Andrei Baltakmens was born in Christchurch, New Zealand, of Latvian descent. He has a Ph.D. in English literature, focused on Charles Dickens and Victorian urban mysteries.
 
His first novel, The Battleship Regal, was published in New Zealand in 1996. His short fiction has appeared in various literary journals, and his first historical mystery, The Raven’s Seal, was published in 2012.
 
Since 2004, he has lived in Ithaca, New York and Brisbane, Australia, where he recently completed a doctorate in Creative Writing at The University of Queensland. He now lives in Palo Alto, California, with his wife and son, and works for Stanford University as an instructional designer.