The Fifth Petal by Brunonia Barry

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I really enjoyed The Lace Reader, so I was thrilled to see that Brunonia Barry had a new novel out: The Fifth Petal. This was a suspenseful story of old and current Salem.

Description

The Chilbury Ladies’ Choir by Jennifer Ryan

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A while ago I received this book through Net Galley, and also received it as a gift for filling out a survey through Blogging for Books. Both were e-copies, but I received the Net Galley one first.

I loved this book about WWII and the power of music and community. Each character has his or her own story and the novel progresses through journals, letters, and straight prose. This was the type of story that I’d hope to see made into a BBC series.

Well-written and full of memorable characters, THE CHILBURY LADIES’ CHOIR is a book I could easily read more than once.

Thank you for my e-copy, Crown Publishing! It publishes Tuesday, 2/14/17.

Description (via Net Galley)

SUGARLAND by Martha Conway

Back in May, I did a Q&A with Martha Conway, author of SUGARLAND.

Read it here!

I received an e-copy of SUGARLAND, which is subtitled a “Jazz Age Mystery” and I read it a few weeks ago.

Here’s the overview:

SUGARLAND

A New Mystery by Edgar-Nominated Author Martha Conway

In 1921, young jazz pianist Eve Riser witnesses the accidental killing of a bootlegger. To cover up the crime, she agrees to deliver money and a letter to a man named Rudy Hardy in Chicago. But when Eve gets to Chicago she discovers that her stepsister Chickie, a popular nightclub singer, is pregnant by a man she won’t name. That night Rudy Hardy is killed before Eve’s eyes in a brutal drive-by shooting, and Chickie disappears.

Eve needs to find Chickie, but she can’t do it alone. Lena Hardy, Rudy’s sister, wants to learn the truth behind her brother’s murder, but she needs Eve’s connections. Together they navigate the back alleys and speakeasies of 1920s Chicago, encountering petty thugs, charismatic bandleaders, and a mysterious nightclub owner called the Walnut who seems to be the key to it all. As they fight racial barriers trying to discover the truth, Eve and Lena unravel a twisted tale of secret shipments and gangster rivalry.

SUGARLAND mixes the excitement of a new kind of music—jazz—with the darker side of Prohibition in a gripping story with “real suspense for anyone who likes a good mystery.” (Kirkus Reviews)

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This was a gritty, sometimes dark story that showed the seedy side of life on the circuit in the 20’s. The three main females, Eve, Chickie, and Lena, were all very different but were strong characters as they dealt with everything from gangs, to murder, to an unwanted pregnancy, to racial discrimination. I didn’t know too much about the Prohibition Era, or jazz singers/musicians either, and I found this novel so interesting.

I really enjoyed Ms. Conway’s writing and the plotting and pacing of this book. I will admit to sometimes feeling sad because life was not easy for these gals and everything did not wrap up neatly into a pretty bow at the end.

Highly recommended if you want something a little different in a historical mystery!

Thank you again for my e-copy and for your time with me.

Sugarland (Medium)

 

HFVB Tour – THE SAFFRON CROCUS by Alison McMahan

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Here I am today to blog about the YA book: THE SAFFRON CROCUS by Alison McMahan. This book has mystery, murder, and adventure in 1600’s Venice. When the young protagonist’s voice teacher mysteriously dies, she tries to find out who killed her and why, opening up a lot of closed doors and secrets from the past.

This was an enjoyable and exciting read, but my favorite part of it was learning about what life was life in Venice in the 1600’s. Isabella’s experience with music and opera, the life of a castrati musician, “kept” women, and the treatment of Jews in Venice at that time all played a role in this novel and kept me interested and reading.

Thank you for my copy!

Here’s what HFVBT has to say:

Publication Date: December 13, 2014
Black Opal Books
eBook; 306p

Genre: Young Adult/Historical Mystery/Romance

Add to GR Button

Winner of the 2014 Rosemary Award for Best Historical for Young Adults.

Venice, 1643. Isabella, fifteen, longs to sing in Monteverdi’s Choir, but only boys (and castrati) can do that. Her singing teacher, Margherita, introduces her to a new wonder: opera! Then Isabella finds Margherita murdered. Now people keep trying to kill Margherita’s handsome rogue of a son, Rafaele.

Was Margherita killed so someone could steal her saffron business? Or was it a disgruntled lover, as Margherita—unbeknownst to Isabella—was one of Venice’s wealthiest courtesans?

Or will Isabella and Rafaele find the answer deep in Margherita’s past, buried in the Jewish Ghetto?

Isabella has to solve the mystery of the Saffron Crocus before Rafaele hangs for a murder he didn’t commit, though she fears the truth will drive her and the man she loves irrevocably apart.

Excerpt

Who knew a singing career would be this much trouble?

“Rafaele!” She flew into the garret. “Piero, it was so wonderful, wait until I tell you!”

The stool next to the bed was knocked over. The tray with the genepy bottle was on the floor, one of the cups broken. The fat candle that had been burning next to Rafaele’s bed had been flung to the other side of the room.. Canvases were strewn all over the floor, some of them slashed, and many of Master Strozzi’s jars of paint elements were broken.

Did Piero and Rafaele have a fight? She quickly suppressed the thought. Who would get into a fight with a man who was already injured?

Something else must have happened.

She walked across the garret. “Piero? Rafaele, are you here?”

Rafaele was not in the bed. The sheets and blankets she had piled on top of him were strewn everywher. Blood-stained sheets spilled over the edge of the pallet. There was a pile of clothes on the floor.

She walked around to get a closer look.

Not clothes. It was Piero. Face down, one arm stretched out before him, as if in supplication.

A puddle of blood under him.

Dead.

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Praise for The Saffron Crocus

“I adored this beautifully written, passionate book. The Saffron Crocus is a glittering, thrilling opera of a novel that plucked my heartstrings and kept me reading at fever pitch. Brava, Alison McMahan! Encore!” -Nancy Holder, New York Times Bestselling Author of the Wicked Saga

Buy the eBook

Black Opal Books
Amazon US
Amazon UK
Barnes & Noble
Kobo

About the Author

03_Alison McMahan Author

Alison McMahan chased footage for her documentaries through jungles in Honduras and Cambodia, favelas in Brazil and racetracks in the U.S. She brings the same sense of adventure to her award-winning books of historical mystery and romantic adventure for teens and adults. Her latest publication is The Saffron Crocus, a historical mystery for young. Murder, Mystery & Music in 17th Century Venice.

She loves hearing from readers!

Author Links

Webpage for The Saffron Crocus
AlisonMcMahanAuthor.com
AlisonMcMahan.com
Facebook
Twitter
Goodreads
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Instagram
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The Saffron Crocus Blog Tour & Book Blast Schedule

Monday, April 13
Book Blast at Genre Queen

Thursday, April 16
Guest Post & Giveaway at Let Them Read Books

Friday, April 17
Interview at Mythical Books

Monday, April 20
Review at Flashlight Commentary

Tuesday, April 21
Review at History From a Woman’s Perspective

Wednesday, April 22
Guest Post at History From a Woman’s Perspective

Tuesday, April 28
Book Blast at A Literary Vacation

Wednesday, April 29
Guest Post & Giveaway at So Many Precious Books, So Little Time

Tuesday, May 5
Review at Book Nerd

Wednesday, May 6
Review at Just One More Chapter

Thursday, May 7
Review at 100 Pages a Day

Friday, May 8
Guest Post at Just One More Chapter

Saturday, May 9
Book Blast at Romantic Historical Lovers

Tuesday, May 12
Review at The True Book Addict

Wednesday, May 13
Guest Post & Giveaway at Historical Fiction Connection

Thursday, May 14
Review at Book Babe
Guest Post at What Is That Book About

Monday, May 25
Review at Beth’s Book Nook Blog

Wednesday, May 27
Book Blast at CelticLady’s Reviews

Thursday, May 28
Review at The Lit Bitch
Review at Satisfaction for Insatiable Readers

Monday, June 1
Review at Broken Teepee

Tuesday, June 2
Guest Post at The Maiden’s Court

Friday, June 5
Spotlight & Giveaway at Jorie Loves a Story

Review: The Butterfly and the Violin by Kristy Cambron

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While I received THE BUTTERFLY AND THE VIOLIN through Net Galley, I was never able to access it as it had been archived, so I got a copy through my local library. This was a haunting read that goes back and forth between current day and WWII. This book is subtitled “A Hidden Masterpiece Novel” so I am assuming it is the start or part of a series.

THE BUTTERFLY AND THE VIOLIN starts with modern-day Sera, an art dealer in New York, as she searches for a painting she saw when she was young: a beautiful girl playing the violin in Auschwitz.  Sera has spent years looking for the original and just when she thinks she is close to finding it, complications occur in the form of a young business man from San Francisco who is also seeking the portrait. The story switches to the past so we  can see how the painting came to be. Young Adele is “Austria’s sweetheart”, a violinist whose father is a high-ranking officer in the Third Reich. She is in love with a fellow musician and together they try to help Jewish families to hide or escape to safety. Adele is caught and sent to Auschwitz where she is put into the women’s orchestra, a group of musicians who provide daily music at the camp while prisoners are sent to work or are taken off the incoming trains. Much of Adele’s story is how she and the other women work to stay together and stay alive, even though they find their task gruesome and disturbing.  Sometimes the story has us in Auschwitz, sometimes back before Adele was arrested, and sometimes current day with Sera and William as they look for the portrait.

This book is listed as Christian Historical Fiction. There are strong messages in it about God’s gifts to us and using the gifts we have, along with finding God’s presence through embracing life.

If I could change one thing in this book it would be to make the “past parts” more in order chronologically. I found it somewhat jolting to go from past to present to past but four years earlier than the last time we were in the past to present, etc. I also was troubled by how easily Adele’s parents sent their only child, barely more than a teen, off to a concentration camp.

If you like WWII reads and enjoy strong Christian messages in your story, along with some romance, you should read this book! The historical note at the end talks about the real life women’s orchestras in camps at that time.

You can find it at an indie — I am an Indie Bound affiliate (or find it at the library, like I did!):

Find it at an Indie!

Review: THE CITY by Dean Koontz

I’ve always been a fan of Dean Koontz. I particularly like his creepy, supernatural work. I was thrilled to see his latest book on Net Galley, and was happy to receive an ARC (I also was one of the many bloggers hosting a Pub Day giveaway earlier this month). THE CITY was a bit different from Dean’s earlier works, which just shows his versatility.

In THE CITY, Jonah Kirk tells the story of a strange experience from his youth that shapes and guides his future. The story starts when Jonah is eight. He is a precocious child, and a musical prodigy, living with his divorced mother and near his beloved grandparents in “the city”. An odd woman appears to him and tells him strange information, which later plays a role in his life. This woman, we come to learn, is the heart of the city itself, a metaphor made human. She also magically procures a piano for Jonah. This woman, Pearl, appears to Jonah through the story, to guide and protect him as he comes in contact with several nefarious characters (including his estranged father) who threaten his livelihood and that of the city at large. Throughout the story (again, told by Jonah as an adult looking back) we come to know his hard-working mother, their widowed Italian neighbor, his feisty grandparents, best friend Malcolm, and – my favorite – their sensitive and intelligent neighbor, a survivor of the Japanese internment camps.

I enjoyed this book! I really loved the character of precocious Jonah. This book builds to a dramatic and violent climax, which was fairly upsetting, but Jonah’s spirit and tenacity shines through all the darkness. The ending was one of hope and resiliency.

I noticed that a prequel, “The Neighbor”, by Koontz was only 99 cents for kindle, so I purchased that as well. This story was creepy and highly disturbing, while it introduced us to Jonah’s best friend and neighbor, Malcolm. You can certainly read The City without reading it, but it does add a bit to character development.