Friday, November 21, 2014

Interview with an Author: Elaine Cougler and "The Loyalist's Luck"

02_The Loyalist's Luck
Publication Date: October 2014
Peache House Press
Formats: eBook, Paperback

Series: The Loyalist Trilogy
Genre: Historical Fiction

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Today on the blog we have Elaine Couglar, who is touring the blogosphere to celebrate the release of her novel "The Loyalist's Luck". Here's a synopsis:

When the Revolutionary War turns in favor of the Americans, John and Lucy flee across the Niagara River with almost nothing. They begin again in Butlersburg, a badly supplied British outpost surrounded by endless trees and rivers, and the mighty roar of the giant falls nearby. He is off on a secret mission for Colonel Butler and she is left behind with her young son and pregnant once again. In the camp full of distrust, hunger, and poverty, word has seeped out that John has gone over to the American side and only two people will associate with Lucy—her friend, Nellie, who delights in telling her all the current gossip, and Sergeant Crawford, who refuses to set the record straight and clear John’s name. To make matters worse, the sergeant has made improper advances toward Lucy.

With vivid scenes of heartbreak and betrayal, heroism and shattered hopes, Elaine Cougler takes us into the hearts and homes of Loyalists still fighting for their beliefs, and draws poignant scenes of families split by political borders. The Loyalist’s Luck shows us the courage of ordinary people who, in perilous times, become extraordinary.

CW: Thanks for joining us, Elaine. First off, tell us how you discovered your love for writing?

EC: Words in all their forms and languages have held me in thrall for my whole life. I’ve loved to read them, write them, and savor them from the first time I sneaked my mother’s books off her shelf and hid myself away to read. My school lessons about spelling and stories, printing and then writing words, and finally mastering my own stories were the jewels of my childhood. Not until grade twelve, though, did I realize I might actually have an affinity for writing stories of my own. My personal essay placed second in our high school literary contest. I was hooked.

CW: “The Loyalist’s Luck” is set during the American Revolution and features British sympathizers. Tell us why you were drawn to the Loyalist point of view.

EC: We are all products of our personal history and mine is Loyalist. My father’s family originated in England and my direct ancestor crossed the water around the time of the American Revolution. He sided with the British. I've always known I was of Loyalist descent so that finding out more about what might have happened to my own people intrigued me. I was interested to go back in time to when relations between Americans and Canadians were not so friendly. Finally, much has been written about this time period from the American point of view. I wanted to explore the other side. Having researched the dissenting points of view I’m now doubly glad that our two countries peacefully share the longest undefended border in the world.

CW: How did you conduct your research? Any favorite sources?

EC: I’d have to say the most exciting book I found was Elizabeth Simcoe’s diary about the five years she was in Canada (1792-1796) with her famous husband, Governor John Graves Simcoe. She talked about dipping baskets in Lake Ontario and pulling them out full of fish, and of salmon in the lakes and rivers where I now live. I was shocked to realize how modern life has depleted these resources.

As for other research my computer is so convenient that I use it for a lot of my queries and searching sessions. Libraries and museums near my settings are amazingly well stocked with great books and maps. Sometimes, though, my husband and I just get in the car and take a road trip, especially out of tourist season so that I can have lots of uninterrupted time to walk the dirt tracks around forts, smell the baking bread in an army kitchen, and monopolize the time of the knowledgeable people working in these places.

CW: Do you have any favorite books or authors?

EC: Oh, my gosh, does a musket have a barrel? I love a book that keeps me turning the pages, involves me so deeply in its characters that I feel their joy and sadness in my own heart. I love a great plot that keeps moving and I particularly like chapter endings that just will not allow me to quit reading. Many, many authors do that. I remember reading Herman Wouk’s War and Remembrance books and just having to stop because his characters and the catastrophic events in their lives were affecting my own life. I just couldn’t stop thinking about them. I stopped reading to save myself from mourning the whole Second World War! A couple of years ago I picked them up and reread them, this time finishing.

So many authors have pleased me, affected me, and, yes, even changed me that I hesitate to start naming them lest I forget one. I have done posts on them on my writing blog, On Becoming a Wordsmith, but I like to look forward rather than back to the next great read I’ll find.

CW: Finally, I always like to ask, if you could go back in time, which era would you pick?

EG: Reading and writing about earlier times is so much fun for me that I’ve spent much of my life doing just that. By learning about people and places in our history I can better understand and empathize with situations in my own time. So, yes, I love studying past times and even imagining what life was like then for my own books. Do I want to go back? No. I like my creature comforts, my solid walls, my rights, and even my obligations in this time. Without a doubt our times could be better and I hope one day will be, but go back in time? That’s only for the likes of Claire who steps through the rocks into warring Scotland and finds the lovely and inimitable Jamie. Don’t you just love the Outlander series? 

CW: Thanks again for joining us, Elaine! For more information on "The Loyalist's Luck" including additional tour stops, scroll on down.

About the Author

Elaine Cougler

A lifelong reader and high school teacher, Elaine found her passion for writing once her family was grown. She loves to read history for the stories of real people reacting to their world. Bringing to life the tales of Loyalists in the American Revolutionary War and the War of 1812 is very natural as Elaine’s personal roots are in those struggles, out of which arose both Canada and the United States.

For more information please visit Elaine Cougler's website. You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and Goodreads.

The Loyalist's Luck Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, November 10
Review at Oh, For the Hook of a Book

Tuesday, November 11
Guest Post at The Writing Desk

Wednesday, November 12
Guest Post at Historical Fiction Connection

Thursday, November 13
Guest Post & Giveaway at Peeking Between the Pages

Friday, November 14
Spotlight at Historical Fiction Connection

Monday, November 17
Interview at Oh, For the Hook of a Book

Thursday, November 20
Guest Post at Just One More Chapter

Friday, November 21
Interview at Caroline Wilson Writes

Monday, November 24
Guest Post at Oh, For the Hook of a Book

Tuesday, November 25
Review at So Many Books, So Little Time

Wednesday, November 26
Guest Post at So Many Books, So Little Time

Friday, November 28
Review at With Her Nose Stuck in a Book

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Monday, November 17, 2014

Review: "Girl on the Golden Coin" by Marci Jefferson

Hello all!

This review is horribly late. I've been so caught up in reading other novels and posting author spotlights (and interviews and reviews...) that I forgot to post my review of Marci Jefferson's "Girl on the Golden Coin", which in retrospect, is one of my favorite books this year.

"The Girl on the Golden Coin" is an excellent look at the life of Frances Stuart, the woman who would become the model for "Britannia" on England's coinage. I've always been enamored of her and even at one time thought of penning a novel about her myself. But since I do not like to trod over turned up ground, I moved on to other projects.

The novel opens when Frances is but a girl and a exile living in France. The English Civil War is raging and the Stuart family has been fractured by the fighting. Charles, the Prince of Wales, is a vagabond, moving from court to court throughout Europe, while his mother, Queen Henrietta Maria is living in France with her daughter Henriette. Frances' mother is attached to the Queen's household, so Frances grows up as a boon companion to the young princess. 

Some years later, Henriette is married off to Louis XIV's younger brother while still pining for the king. Frances unwittingly wins the King's heart, but loyal to her friend, refuses to become his mistress. And so begins her journey. In retribution for turning him down, Louis sends Frances back to England to serve in the court of the newly restored King Charles II. She is to become the King's mistress and use her influence to sway him in favor of France. Then begins the conflict. Frances is ill suited to political and court intrigues but is forced to play the game in an attempt to save her family's honor and to keep a past scandal secret. She handily charms the king and his court, becoming known as La Belle Stuart. But she is constantly conflicted by her loyalty to Queen Catherine and her growing feelings (and passion) for King Charles.

Ms. Jefferson's writing style is very engaging, atmospheric without sacrificing the pace of the novel. Some reviewers complain that the novel is too light. It is fiction, not a doctoral thesis on Restoration England. Jefferson accurately captures the many court personalities including King Charles and his Queen Catherine, his established mistress Barbara, Lady Castlemaine, and his brother the Duke of York. Frances' conflicted feelings for Charles seem to be sexual in nature at first, but she grows to love him, and is a better character for it. She never seeks to excel her own person throughout the novel and constantly makes sacrifices (including her own morality) for her family. If anything, Frances is probably a little too good, but she never comes off as an annoying martyr. 

My only quibble is that Frances' mother was not fully fleshed out, and their interactions suffer as a result. It's obvious the woman was very withdrawn but it would have been nice to know what was going on in her head (even if it were only through dialogue) especially since her secret is Frances' main motivation for acting as she does. But over all, the novel is nicely paced and engrossing with an interesting author's note to cap it all off. "Girl on the Golden Coin" is a recommended read. And I'm looking forward to Marci's next novel which is entitled "The Enchantress of Paris" and takes place in the Louis XIV's court. It's due out next August.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Review: Inglorious Royal Marriages by Leslie Carroll

Hello all!

I recently reviewed Inglorious Royal Marriages for the Historical Novel Society. It's the latest installment in Leslie Carroll's series on the scandals of European royalty. I've enjoyed the other books penned by Carroll and Inglorious Royal Marriages  was another interesting entry to the series. The book chronicles royal relationships, both legally and not so legally binding. A portion of the marriages featured were contracted for dynastic reasons; as a result, most were notoriously unhappy. Each section is devoted to the husband and wife involved in the marriage. Some of the royals documented are Henry VI and Margaret of Anjou, Catherine of Braganza and Charles II, Anne of Austria and Louis XIII, and Marie of Romania and Ferdinand I.

The book is very readable. It doesn't get bogged down like a lot of non-fiction and is filled with fascinating stories from the medieval period all the way through to World War II. The book’s focus on some lesser-known nobles is a boon for those readers who love all the intricacies of royal life. As with her other works, Carroll sometimes goes into too much detail, particularly about the political maneuverings at the time. A little more attention to the daily lives of the subjects would have made Inglorious Royal Marriages really shine. If you enjoy reading all the juicy tidbits of Europe's most famous (and infamous) marriages, you'll not want to miss Inglorious Royal Marriages.
For more historical fiction and non-fiction reviews, check out my Goodreads account.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Author Spotlight: S.K. Rizzolo's John Chase Mystery Series

Please join S.K. Rizzolo as she tours the blogosphere for the John Chase Regency Mystery Series Book Blast, from November 3-16, and be entered to win all three books in the trilogy!

The Rose in the Wheel (Book One)

01_The Rose Wheel
Publication Date: January 1, 2002
Poisoned Pen Press
Formats: Hardcover, Paperback, eBook

Series: John Chase Mystery Series (Book One)
Genre: Historical Mystery/Regency

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This well imagined, carefully detailed, and cleverly plotted debut draws on actual historical events of 1811 London.

Regency London knows Constance Tyrone as the conspicuously celibate founder of the St. Catherine Society, dedicated to helping poor women. One wet November evening a carriage mows down Constance outside her office. Curiously, while her corpse's one foot is bare, the other is shod in a clean satin slipper despite the muddy road. Why was a gentlewoman abroad in the night? And if she died under the wheel, whose hands bruised her neck and stole her monogrammed crucifix?

Dismissing the idea of an accident, Bow Street Runner John Chase forms an unlikely alliance with Penelope Wolfe, wife of the chief suspect. A young mother paying the price for an imprudent marriage, Penelope is eager to clear her husband Jeremy, a feckless portrait painter whose salacious drawings of the victim suggest an erotic interest. Chase's first task is to learn the identity of the mysterious benefactor who goes bail for Wolfe while Penelope traces the victim's last movements. Barrister Edward Buckler, intrigued, shakes off his habitual lethargy and joins their investigation.

As horrifying murders on the Ratcliffe Highway claim all London's attention, the trio discovers that it won't be easy to unravel the enigma of Constance Tyrone, a woman who revives the legend of martyred St. Catherine.

Blood for Blood (Book Two)

02_Blood for Blood
Publication Date: April 15, 2003
Poisoned Pen Press
Formats: Hardcover, Paperback, eBook

Series: John Chase Mystery Series (Book Two)
Genre: Historical Mystery/Regency

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In the spring of 1812, the Luddites are on the march, Lord Byron is taking London drawing rooms by storm, and Penelope Wolfe has become a lady's companion. When one of the footmen turns up dead with a knife to the heart, Penelope and Bow Street Runner John Chase are entangled in a web of family secrets and political conspiracy that stretches far beyond luxurious St. James's Square.

With the help of barrister Edward Buckler, Chase follows the trail of a mysterious mad woman caught peeping in the window at the corpse. Penelope struggles to fit into the fashionable world, encountering people who hide resentment and deceit under smooth smiles.

Set against a backdrop of millennial fervor with thousands awaiting the end of the world, BLOOD FOR BLOOD explores the simple truth that every drop of blood spilled will be avenged.

Die I Will Not (Book Three)

Die I Will Not
Publication Date: November 4, 2014
Poisoned Pen Press
Formats: Hardcover, Paperback

Series: John Chase Mystery Series (Book Three)
Genre: Historical Mystery/Regency

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Unhappy wife and young mother Penelope Wolfe fears scandal for her family and worse. A Tory newspaper editor has been stabbed while writing a reply to the latest round of letters penned by a firebrand calling himself Collatinus. Twenty years before, her father, the radical Eustace Sandford, wrote as Collatinus before he fled London just ahead of accusations of treason and murder. A mysterious beauty closely connected to Sandford and known only as N.D. had been brutally slain, her killer never punished. The seditious new Collatinus letters that attack the Prince Regent in the press also seek to avenge N.D.’s death and unmask her murderer. What did the journalist know that provoked his death?

Her artist husband Jeremy is no reliable ally, so Penelope turns anew to lawyer Edward Buckler and Bow Street Runner John Chase. As she battles public notoriety, Buckler and Chase put their careers at risk to stand behind her while pursuing various lines of inquiry aimed at N.D.’s murderer, a missing memoir, Royal scandal, and the dead editor’s missing wife. As they navigate the dark underbelly of Regency London among a cast driven by dirty politics and dark passions, as well as by decency and a desire for justice, past secrets and present criminals are exposed, upending Penelope’s life and the lives of others.

Buy the Books

Amazon US
Amazon UK
Barnes & Noble
Book Depository

About the Author

SK RizzoloS.K. Rizzolo is a longtime Anglophile and history enthusiast. Set in Regency England, The Rose in the Wheel and Blood for Blood are the first two novels in her series about a Bow Street Runner, an unconventional lady, and a melancholic barrister. An English teacher, Rizzolo has earned an M.A. in literature and lives in Los Angeles with her husband and daughter.

For more information please visit S.K. Rizzolo's website. You can also find her on Facebook and Goodreads.

John Chase Mystery Series Book Blast Schedule

Monday, November 3
Back Porchervations

Tuesday, November 4
Reading Lark
Rainy Day Reviews

Wednesday, November 5
CelticLady's Reviews
A Bibliotaph's Reviews

Thursday, November 6
The Lit Bitch
Historical Tapestry

Friday, November 7
Passages to the Past
Caroline Wilson Writes

Saturday, November 8
The Maiden's Court
The True Book Addict

Sunday, November 9
Brooke Blogs
Let Them Read Books

Monday, November 10
Layered Pages
With Her Nose Stuck in a Book

Tuesday, November 11
To Read or Not to Read

Wednesday, November 12
Just One More Chapter

Thursday, November 13
A Book Geek
100 Pages a Day

Friday, November 14
Peeking Between the Pages

Saturday, November 15
Mel's Shelves
Historical Fiction Connection

Sunday, November 16
Book Nerd


To win all three books in S.K. Rizzolo's John Chase Regency Mystery Series please complete the Rafflecopter giveaway form below. Giveaway is open internationally.

Giveaway ends at 11:59pm on November 16th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
Winner will be chosen via Rafflecopter on November 17th and notified via email.
Winner have 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.

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