Thursday, May 28, 2015

Non-fiction Spotlight: "Only Yesterday" and "Since Yesterday"

Today I'm pleased to spotlight two books that will be of enormous help to those of you writing books in the 1920s and 1930s. Of course, if you're a fan of those decades, you will also find these books very interesting.

Only Yesterday and Since Yesterday were published by Frederick Lewis Allen in the 30s and 40s. Allen was a journalist who wrote many pieces for such publications as Atlantic Monthly and Harper's. These books are being re-released in digital format and can be found at Amazon.

Only Yesterday begins when President Woodrow Wilson declared the end of World War I in a letter to the American public, and continuing through his defeat, Prohibition, the Big Red Scare, the rise of women’s hem lines, and the stock market crash of 1929. Allen, of course, was a first witness to all these events, so this is a very interesting piece of primary history. Since Yesterday picks up where Only Yesterday left off. Published in 1940, starts in the days before the stock market crash.  From the Lindbergh kidnapping to the New Deal, from the devastating dust storms that raged through our farmlands to the rise of Benny Goodman, the public adoration of Shirley Temple, and our mass escape to the movies, this book is a hopeful and powerful reminder of why history matters.

 Both books are now available.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Review: "Circling the Sun" by Paula McClain

Today I'm pleased to share my latest review with you all. Circling the Sun is Paula McClain's follow up to her debut novel The Paris Wife. I will admit that I had a hard time getting into that one, but I'm a pretty open minded individual so when Circling the Sun popped up on my radar, I wanted to give it a shot. I'm so glad I did!

Circling the Sun focuses on Beryl Markham, a pioneering aviatrix who was British by birth, but raised in Kenya. McClain really captures the rugged atmosphere of the colony and Beryl eagerly embraces her hard scrabble life. She grows into an independent woman determined to live life adventurously, and sometimes scandalously. She is practically forced into marriage at a young age, but doesn't allow herself to be defined by it (much to her husband's chagrin). She ends up working for a friend of her father's while working to become a horse trainer. In fact, Beryl was the first female horse trainer in Kenya and built upon the success of her father's well known training abilities before going on to learn the art of flying. Of course she struggles against society's expectations along the way. Beryl eventually embarked on an affair with Denys Finch Hatton, who had been in a long term relationship with Baroness Karen Blixen, the authoress of Out of Africa.

Obligatory cute cat picture. They like to read too!
I find it fascinating to read about real life historical personages, especially when it is done well. Paula McClain does a fantastic job in her characterizations and the pacing was quicker (to me, anyways) than The Paris Wife.

As an interesting aside, Beryl published her own autobiography/memoir West with the Night. It was actually applauded by none other than Ernest Hemingway when it was published back in 1942.

The bottom line is if you love stories about the African colonists, independent women, or just a ripping good yarn, check out Circling the Sun. It will be available in July 2015.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Review: "A Pledge of Better Times" by Margaret Porter

01_A Pledge of Better Times Cover
Publication Date: April 14, 2015 
Gallica Press 
Formats: eBook, Paperback 
ISBN: 978-0-9907420-4-3 
Pages: 400 
 Genre: Historical Fiction 
  Add to GR Button 

A sweeping tale of ambition, treachery, and passion... For generations Lady Diana de Vere’s family loyally served England’s crown. But after King Charles II’s untimely death, her father firmly opposes James II’s tyranny. Charles Beauclerk, Duke of St. Albans—the late king’s bastard son by actress Nell Gwyn—also rebels against his newly crowned uncle's manipulation. Secretly pledging to wed Diana, he departs for the Continent to become a soldier. Political and religious turmoil bring about revolution and yet another coronation before Charles returns to claim his promised bride. As companion to Queen Mary II, Diana has followed her de Vere forbears into royal service. She expects Charles to abandon his military career after marriage, but he proves unwilling to join the ranks of the courtiers he despises and mistrusts. In palace corridors and within their own household the young duke and duchess confront betrayals, scandals, and tragedies that threaten to divide them. And neither the privileges of birth nor proximity to the throne can ensure their security, their advancement—or their happiness.

My Review

"A Pledge of Better Times" is a fascinating account of real historical characters Diana de Vere and Charles Beauclerk, Duke of St. Albans. It is set during an equally fascinating time--one of upheaval and frequent political changes. Margaret Porter accurately captures the time period and the various personages. The pace is quick but the multiple POVs can get a bit confusing at times. Diana and Charles are lovely protagonists and the reader will root for them as they forge a new life together in times that are anything but ordinary.

Praise for A Pledge of Better Times

“Meticulously researched and offering an impressive cast of real life characters brought to vibrant life, A Pledge of Better Times expertly captures the drama, passions, politics and religious turmoil of England at the turn of the 18th century. Margaret Porter crafts her story with exquisite detail, transporting the reader into a world full of intrigue, scandal, and breathtaking danger . . . a masterful writer.” - Award-winning author M. Reed McCall “With elegant prose and vivid detail, A Pledge of Better Times sweeps you into late Stuart England, transforming the lesser known adversities and triumphs of Lady Diana de Vere and Charles Beauclerk into a beautiful love story you won’t forget.” - Marci Jefferson, author of Enchantress of Paris and Girl on the Golden Coin “A portrait of Diana de Vere as rich as the portraits that grace British museums and palaces.” - Christy K Robinson, author of Mary Dyer Illuminated “The sparkling, dangerous, enticing post-Restoration period comes to vivid life! Porter gives us a wonderful, complicated heroine in Diana, drawing us deep into her world . . . . I couldn’t stop reading!” - Amanda Carmack, author of Murder in the Queen’s Garden: An Elizabethan Mystery

Official Book Trailer

About the Author

02_Margaret Porter Author PhotoMargaret Porter is an award-winning, bestselling novelist whose lifelong study of British history inspires her fiction and her travels. A former stage actress, she has also worked in film, television, and radio. For more information please visit Margaret Porter's website. You can also find her on Facebook here and here, and on Twitter.

A Pledge of Better Times Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, May 4 Review at Just One More Chapter Review & Giveaway at Broken Teepee Spotlight & Giveaway at Mina's Bookshelf Tuesday, May 5 Review at 100 Pages a Day - Stephanie's Book Reviews Wednesday, May 6 Guest Post & Giveaway at Let Them Read Books Thursday, May 7 Review at Book Drunkard Friday, May 8 Review at Books and Benches Sunday, May 10 Review & Guest Post at With Her Nose Stuck in a Book Monday, May 11 Review at Reading the Past Tuesday, May 12 Review at Flashlight Commentary Wednesday, May 13 Guest Post at Book Babe Thursday, May 14 Review at Unshelfish Review at Impressions in Ink Review at Caroline Wilson Writes Friday, May 15 Review & Giveaway at A Literary Vacation Review & Giveaway at Historical Fiction 

   photo 508670ea-e48d-4184-bcf6-7d2c3c94185f.png