Monday, April 20, 2015

Review: "Inglorious Royal Marriages: A Demi-Millennium of Unholy Matrimony"

Hello folks!

I have another review for you today and it's non-fiction, if you can believe that. There is no denying that most non-fiction bores me. It's just a little too dry. I often prefer reading fiction and then going to investigate the people and events in a story for accuracy or sometimes just personal interest. One of the few non-fiction authors I enjoy is Leslie Carroll. She is a prolific fiction author as well which may be why I like her non-fiction works so well. 

This is the latest installment in her chronicles of royal relationships, both legal and not so legal. This part of the series takes a look at the marriages 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 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 a jewel in the crown. Nonetheless, the book is recommended for those readers who enjoy social and royal history.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Review: "Mistress Firebrand" by Donna Thorland

02_Mistress Firebrand Cover
Publication Date: March 3, 2015 
Trade Formats: eBook, Paperback 
416 Pages 
 Series: Renegades of the American Revolution (Book 3) 
Genre: Historical Fiction/Romance
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  British Occupied Manhattan, 1777. American actress Jenny Leighton has been packing the John Street Theater with her witty comedies, but she longs to escape the provincial circuit for the glamour of the London stage. When the playwright General John Burgoyne visits the city, fresh from a recent success in the capitol, she seizes the opportunity to court his patronage. But her plan is foiled by British intelligence officer Severin Devere. Severin’s mission is to keep the pleasure-loving general focused on the war effort…and away from pretty young actresses. But the tables are turned when Severin himself can’t resist Jenny Leighton… Months later, Jenny has abandoned her dreams of stage glory and begun writing seditious plays for the Rebels under the pen name “Cornelia,” ridiculing “Gentleman Johnny” Burgoyne and his army—and undermining the crown’s campaign to take Albany. With Jenny’s name now on the hanging list, Severin is ordered to find her—and deliver her to certain death. Soon, the two are launched on a desperate journey through the wilderness, toward an uncertain future shaped by the revolution—and their passion for each other…

My Review

The third in a series dubbed the Renegades of the American Revolution, Mistress Firebrand focuses on Jenny Leighton, an actress who longs to be a London playwright. Jenny is a country bumpkin who has taken up residence with her glamorous aunt in New York. She plays bit parts at the John Street Theater while her aunt Frances packs the house as the lead actress. When she discovers that General Burgoyne is in the harbor, Jenny hopes to gain his patronage. She doesn't count on Severin Devere, the bastard son of an earl, a spy for the British Crown, and self-appointed watchdog for the general.

I will admit that my interest was piqued by the premise of Mistress Firebrand. It's a big departure from the typical historical novel. Conversely, I went into the novel looking for errors, particularly because I am Revolutionary War re-enactor. I'm pleased to say that there were no glaring errors. The initial set-up was a bit slow moving as Thorland is a very detailed writer. I prefer more movement and less play-by-play. Severin's background was particularly fascinating. Jenny seems a bit dull at first, but she improves as the plot progresses. She is realistic but with a heart.

All in all Mistress Firebrand is an interesting novel. I love the fact that it is romantic historical fiction since that is the genre I myself write (or to used write since the muse has deserted me...haha). In any case, pick up a copy of Mistress Firebrand if you like your romance with a side of intelligence.

Buy Mistress Firebrand

Amazon (Kindle) Amazon (Paperback) Barnes & Noble Books-a-Million iTunes IndieBound Powell's

About the Author

03_Donna Thorland

A native of Bergenfield, New Jersey, Donna graduated from Yale with a degree in Classics and Art History. For many years she managed architecture and interpretation at the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, and wrote and directed the Witch City’s most popular Halloween theater festival, Eerie Events. She later earned an MFA in film production from the USC School of Cinematic Arts. Donna has been a sorority house mother, a Disney/ABC Television Writing Fellow, a WGA Writer’s Access Project Honoree, and a writer on the ABC primetime drama, Cupid. Her screenwriting credits include episodes of the animated series, Tron: Uprising. Her short fiction has appeared in Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine and Albedo One. The director of several award-winning short films, her most recent project, The Night Caller, aired on WNET Channel 13 and was featured on Ain’t It Cool News. Currently she is a writer on the WGN drama SALEM. She is married with one cat and divides her time between the real Salem and Los Angeles. For more information visit Donna Thorland's website. You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.

Mistress Firebrand Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, April 6 Excerpt at What Is That Book About Excerpt & Giveaway at Peeking Between the Pages Tuesday, April 7 Review & Giveaway at Flashlight Commentary Wednesday, April 8 Interview at The Maiden's Court Thursday, April 9 Guest Post & Giveaway at Susan Heim on Writing Friday, April 10 Spotlight at Broken Teepee Sunday, April 12 Review at With Her Nose Stuck in a Book Monday, April 13 Spotlight, Excerpt, & Giveaway at Passages to the Past Thursday, April 16 Review at Caroline Wilson Writes Friday, April 17 Spotlight at I'd So Rather Be Reading Saturday, April 18 Excerpt & Giveaway at A Dream Within a Dream Monday, April 20 Review at Book Nerd Tuesday, April 21 Guest Post & Giveaway at Book Babe Wednesday, April 22 Guest Post & Excerpt at The Lit Bitch Thursday, April 23 Spotlight & Giveaway at So Many Precious Books, So Little Time Friday, April 24 Review at Back Porchervations Monday, April 27 Review at Just One More Chapter Tuesday, April 28 Review at Historical Readings & Views Wednesday, April 29 Review & Giveaway at Unshelfish Guest Post at Boom Baby Reviews Thursday, April 30 Review at Bookramblings Friday, May 1 Review, Excerpt, & Giveaway at Drey's Library Spotlight at Genre Queen Sunday, May 3 Review at Forever Ashley Monday, May 4 Review at A Chick Who Reads Guest Post & Giveaway at To Read, or Not to Read Tuesday, May 5 Excerpt at CelticLady's Reviews Wednesday, May 6 Review at Unabridged Chick Thursday, May 7 Spotlight at A Literary Vacation Friday, May 8 Interview at Scandalous Woman

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Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Interview and Review: Jan Moran's "Scent of Triumph"

Author Jan Moran

on Tour March 28-April 16 with

SCENT OF TRIUMPHScent of Triumph: A Novel of Perfume And Passion

(historical novel) Release date: March 31, 2015 at St. Martin’s Press 384 pages ISBN: 9781250048905


Perfume is the essence of beauty, the heart of illusion, the soul of desire. It is my past, my present, my future. —from the journal of Danielle Bretancourt When French perfumer and aristocrat Danielle Bretancourt steps aboard a luxury ocean liner, leaving her son behind in Poland with his grandmother, she has no idea that her life is about to change forever. The year is 1939, and the declaration of war on the European continent soon threatens her beloved family, scattered across many countries. Traveling through London and Paris into occupied Poland, Danielle searches desperately for the remains of her family, relying on the strength of Jonathan Newell-Grey, a British shipping heir and Royal Navy officer. Finally, in the wake of unspeakable tragedy, she is forced to gather the fragments of her impoverished family and flee to America. There she vows to begin life anew, in 1940s Los Angeles. Amidst the glamour of Hollywood’s Golden Age, Danielle works her way up from meager jobs to perfumer and fashion designer. Still, personal happiness eludes her. Can her sheer force of will attract the elusive love she desires, or will it only come at the ultimate cost?


I'm so happy to have Jan Moran here with me today as she tours the blogsphere in support of her novel "Scent of Triumph".

CW: Welcome Jan! Thanks for joining me to day. To start, tell us a bit about yourself. How did you start writing? Have your life experiences shaped the way the write?

JM: As a child, I was an avid reader and I began writing at an early age. Books were my passport to exotic locales. Today, I like to infuse my stories and characters with the ring of authenticity, so it’s natural for me to write about places I’ve visited or lived in. London, Paris, Grasse, and Beverly Hills figure prominently in SCENT OF TRIUMPH. I also share history of perfumery and fashion, which I drew from my professional background in the beauty industry, and from nonfiction books and articles I’ve written. 

The main character, Danielle Bretancourt, is a French perfumer and fashion designer, but she’s also a mother and an entrepreneur, as I am. Danielle is a complex character who must often make difficult choices between dreadful alternatives. However, her drive and determination to care for her loved ones propels her through the story. I wanted to bring to life a woman’s unique quest to triumph over adversity – which we all encounter to some degree in our lives.

CW: “Scent of Triumph” is set during World War II which has become a popular time period recently. What drew you to this period? Was it deliberate or did your characters dictate it?

JM: “Scent of Triumph” was inspired in part by stories my mother shared of life during World War II. She and my father were married during the war, and my father was a pilot. Through the years, she’s recounted many stories about their friends and what life was like then – and that’s part of the reason her photo from the 1940s is in the front of the book.

I’m so glad the World War II time frame is enjoying popularity now, because there’s a lot to learn about this era and what people went through then. As a writer, I write about what touches my heart. And oddly enough, when I started the novel fifteen ago, this period of time was not considered popular at all.

CW: How do you write? Do you create everything before hand or do you wing it?

JM: Before I begin writing, I have the cast of characters and the main issue in mind. I work from character and plot outlines for a sense of structure, but the story usually evolves into deeper issues as I write. I love weaving a tapestry of details into a story. “Scent of Triumph” is enriched with details of perfumery, fashion, the war, and the Golden Age of Hollywood. 

CW: Are there any authors that have influenced you or that you admire?

JM: How much time do we have? Okay, I’ll narrow it down… Recently, Kristin Hannah’s “The Nightingale” transported me back to the landscape of “Scent of Triumph.” Barbara Taylor Bradford’s “A Woman of Substance” and Colleen McCullough’s “The Thornbirds” are among my favorite historical novels. I read widely, and a few of my favorite authors are Allison Pataki (“The Accidental Empress”), Tatiana de Rosnay (“Sarah’s Key”), Anita Hughes (“French Coast”), Allegra Jordan (“The End of Innocence”), and Michelle Gable (“A Paris Apartment”), as well as the works of Lisa See, Philippa Gregory, M.J. Rose, Rebecca Forster, and Melissa Foster. Unfortunately, I’ve left out legions of others.

CW: And lastly, a random question: If you had time machine, what historical period would you visit?

JM: The first half of the twentieth century is fascinating, not only because of the political landscape and the war years, but also because of the shifting societal roles for women and the industrial revolution. This is another aspect of SCENT OF TRIUMPH. During that time, women were gaining rights in Western Europe and America – the right to vote, to own property, to run businesses. These women were our trailblazers, and I enjoy bringing their stories to life in this novel, and in future ones – such as the one I’m working on right now.

CW: Well thank you for stopping in. I really enjoyed "Scent of Triumph"!


The Scent of Triumph is an old-fashioned melodramatic yarn that will suck you in. Danielle Bretancourt, the novel's protagonist, is desperate to find the son she left behind just before the onset of World War II. It's a heart-wrenching prospect--you leave on a journey only to discover that you cannot go back. War devastates Danielle, but she is determined to re-build her life. The novel spans war torn Europe to the glitter of Old Hollywood, and features romance and intrigue. Readers of Barbara Taylor Bradford and Sidney Sheldon will warm to this tale of triumph in the face of tragedy. 


Scent of Triumph - Jan Moran

JAN MORAN is the author of Fabulous Fragrances I and II, which earned spots on the Rizzoli Bookstore bestseller list, and other contemporary novels, including Flawless, Beauty Mark, and Runway. A fragrance and beauty industry expert, she has been featured on CNN, Instyle, and O Magazine, and has spoken before prestigious organizations, including The American Society of Perfumers. She earned her MBA from Harvard Business School and attended the University of California at Los Angeles Extension Writers’ Program. Visit her website. Follow her on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest Subscribe to her newsletter
Discover her Vintage Perfume Guide
Go deeper with her Reader’s Discussion Guide
Buy the book: Amazon US | Amazon UK | Barnes & Noble | Apple iBooks IndieBound | Powell’s | Books A Million | Kobo | | GooglePlay *** You can enter the global giveaway here or on any other book blogs participating in this tour. Be sure to follow each participant on Twitter/Facebook, they are listed in the entry form below.


Visit each blogger on the tour: tweeting about the giveaway everyday of the Tour will give you 5 extra entries each time! [just follow the directions on the entry-form] Global giveaway open internationally: 1 winner will receive 1 print copy of Scent of Triumph * Scent of Triumph Vintage Perfumes

BONUS OFFERED BY THE AUTHOR – independently from this book tour – With every purchase of Scent of Triumph, she is offering a free ebook of Vintage Perfumes, a nonfiction guide to the finest classic perfumes, for epub and mobi.
Just email her some proof of your purchase (receipt, email receipt, photo of yourself with the book or ebook on your reader, etc.), and she will send you the free ebook of Vintage Perfumes.


Scent of Triumph banner


Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Review: "The Rocheforts" by Christian Laborie

Author Christian Laborie

on Tour April 6-15, 2015 with

The Rocheforts

(fiction / saga) Release date: May 5, 2015 at Open Road Integrated Media 484 pages ISBN: 978-1-4804-6120-8


Two very different families are bonded by scandal in this sweeping story of love, greed, and betrayal. Anselme Rochefort has built an empire manufacturing serge de Nîmes, or denim. His biggest client? Levi Strauss. As the craze for blue jeans begins to sweep the globe, Rochefort Industries seems poised for untold success. But Anselme can be as cruel and ruthless with his family as he is in business. The Rocheforts’ neighbor Donatien Rouvière has one of the region’s most prosperous farms and is desperate for a son to carry on his legacy. After the births of three daughters, the Rouvières adopt an orphan from the Sisters of Charity convent and raise him as their own. When Anselme suggests uniting the two families by arranging for their children to marry, it seems like the perfect match. But as the lives of the two clans grow increasingly intertwined, dark secrets come to light, including the mysterious circumstances of the death of Anselme’s eldest daughter. With The Rocheforts, Christian Laborie weaves a captivating tale of deceit, intrigue, and the dynamic tension between industrialization and a way of life rooted in the land.


The Rocheforts is a sprawling family saga that take a hard look at two families in late 19th century France. It's a great departure from the usual Parisian set novel featuring royalty or aristocracy, instead choosing to focus on the hardworking landed gentry and a family with wealth from industrialization. Anselme Rochefort is deliciously bad and stops at nothing to get his way, even if it means destroying those close to him. Conversely Donatien Rouvière is a family man more concerned with his lasting legacy than crushing those who stand in his way. Christian Laborie is a gifted writer who has an excellent grasp of setting the scene and creating effective characterizations. Lovers of family sagas and France will find much to enjoy in The Rocheforts.


Rocheforts - Laborie
Christian Laborie was born in the North of France but has lived in the southern region of Cévennes for more than twenty years. The Rocheforts is his first novel to be published in English. *** Follow Open Road Integrated Media on Facebook | Twitter Subscribe to Open Road’s Newsletter Buy the book: Amazon *** You can enter the global giveaway here or on any other book blogs participating in this tour. Be sure to follow each participant on Twitter/Facebook, they are listed in the entry form below.


Visit each blogger on the tour: tweeting about the giveaway everyday of the Tour will give you 5 extra entries each time! [just follow the directions on the entry-form] Global giveaway open internationally: 5 winners will receive 1 digital copy of The Rocheforts


Rocheforts banner

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Author Spotlight: Anna Belfrage and "To Catch A Falling Star"

02_To Catch a Falling Star_Cover
Publication Date: March 1, 2015 
SilverWood Books 
Formats: eBook, Paperback 
Series: Book Eight, The Graham Saga 
Genre: Historical Fiction/Time-Slip

To Catch a Falling Star is the eighth book in Anna Belfrage’s series featuring time traveller Alexandra Lind and her seventeenth century husband, Matthew Graham. 

Some gifts are double-edged swords … For Matthew Graham, being given the gift of his former Scottish manor is a dream come true. For his wife, Alex, this gift will force her to undertake a perilous sea journey, leaving most of their extensive family in the Colony of Maryland. Alex is torn apart by this, but staying behind while her husband travels to Scotland is no option.

Scotland in 1688 is a divided country, torn between the papist Stuart king and the foreign but Protestant William of Orange. In the Lowlands, popular opinion is with Dutch William, and Matthew’s reluctance to openly support him does not endear him to his former friends and neighbours. While Matthew struggles to come to terms with the fact that Scotland of 1688 bears little resemblance to his lovingly conserved memories, Alex is forced to confront unresolved issues from her past, including her overly curious brother-in-law, Luke Graham. And then there’s the further complication of the dashing, flamboyant Viscount Dundee, a man who knocks Alex completely off her feet.

 All the turmoil that accompanies their return to Scotland pales into insignificance when a letter arrives, detailing the calamities threatening their youngest daughter in Maryland – at the hand of that most obnoxious minister, Richard Campbell. Matthew and Alex have no choice but to hasten back, no matter the heartache this causes. Will they make it back in time? And what will Richard Campbell do?

Buy To Catch a Falling Star

Barnes & Noble

Graham Saga Titles

Book One: A Rip in the Veil
Book Two: Like Chaff in the Wind
Book Three: The Prodigal Son
Book Four: A Newfound Land
Book Five: Serpents in the Garden
Book Six: Revenge & Retribution
Book Seven: Whither Thou Goest
Book Eight: To Catch a Falling Star

About the Author

Anna BelfrageI was raised abroad, on a pungent mix of Latin American culture, English history and Swedish traditions. As a result I’m multilingual and most of my reading is historical – both non-fiction and fiction. I was always going to be a writer – or a historian, preferably both. Instead I ended up with a degree in Business and Finance, with very little time to spare for my most favourite pursuit. Still, one does as one must, and in between juggling a challenging career I raised my four children on a potent combination of invented stories, historical debates and masses of good food and homemade cakes. They seem to thrive … Nowadays I spend most of my spare time at my writing desk. The children are half grown, the house is at times eerily silent and I slip away into my imaginary world, with my imaginary characters. Every now and then the one and only man in my life pops his head in to ensure I’m still there. I like that – just as I like how he makes me laugh so often I’ll probably live to well over a hundred. I was always going to be a writer. Now I am – I have achieved my dream. For more information, please visit Anna Belfrage’s website and blog. You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.

To Catch a Falling Star Blog Tour Schedule

Tuesday, April 7
Review at Just One More Chapter
Excerpt at Rainy Day Reviews
Guest Post at What Is That Book About
Wednesday, April 8
Guest Post at Just One More Chapter
Thursday, April 9
Review & Giveaway at So Many Books, So Little Time
Spotlight at Unshelfish
Friday, April 10
Excerpt & Giveaway at So Many Precious Books, So Little Time
Saturday, April 11
Spotlight at Caroline Wilson Writes
Tuesday, April 14
Review at A Bibliotaph’s Reviews
Interview at Becky on Books
Wednesday, April 15
Review & Guest Post at With Her Nose Stuck in a Book
Thursday, April 16
Review at CelticLady’s Reviews
Friday, April 17
Review at Book Nerd
Saturday, April 18
Spotlight & Giveaway at View From the Birdhouse
Tuesday, April 21
Review at Oh, For the Hook of a Book
Wednesday, April 22
Spotlight at A Literary Vacation
Interview & Excerpt at Oh, For the Hook of a Book
Thursday, April 23
Review at Griperang’s Bookmarks
Friday, April 24
Interview & Giveaway at Griperang’s Bookmarks
Saturday, April 25
Spotlight at Historical Fiction Connection
Tuesday, April 28
Spotlight & Giveaway at Passages to the Past
Wednesday, April 29
Review, Excerpt, & Giveaway at A Virtual Hobby Store and Coffee Haus
Thursday, April 30
Spotlight & Giveaway at Let Them Read Books
Friday, May 1
Review at A Chick Who Reads
Review & Giveaway at Broken Teepee
Sunday, May 3
Review at Quirky Book Reviews
Tuesday, May 5
Review at Beth’s Book Nook Blog
Wednesday, May 6
Review at Layered Pages
Spotlight at Long Ago Love
Thursday, May 7
Review at Mari Reads
Review at Dianne Ascroft Blog
Friday, May 8
Review at Flashlight Commentary